Now that free agency has come and gone next up is the NFL Draft. Now that we have officially entered draft season it is time to asses every team’s needs. Before I make my final mock draft I will be going from conference to conference to assess what each team’s biggest holes are. I will try to come up with three big needs for each team I’ll be writing an article for each separate conference. The first conference I will take a look at is the NFC East. There was a lot of movement in the NFC East. The Giants and Eagles brought in some big pieces to bolster their line ups. The Cowboys and Redskins lost some big pieces. So what are each of these team’s biggest needs?
Biggest Addition- Alshon Jeffrey
Biggest Loss- Bennie Logan
With the editions of Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith to go along with one of the only actual threats they had a t receiver, Jordan Matthews, the Eagles no longer have an immediate need at receiver. Their number one need for me is corner back. Three of the Eagle’s top corners were in the top eight for receiving yards against. Leodis McKelvin and Jalen Mills were first and third when it came to receiving yards allowed per snap. Ron Brooks was also pretty bad before his injury. With the loss of McKelvin and a deep class at corner back this year the Eagles would be remised not grab one of them with their first round pick. With good safety play from Rodney McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins if the Eagles could get some legitimate corner back play that could be recipe for success on the back end. They also have to play Odell Beckham Jr., Dez Bryant, and Terrelle Pryor a combined six times next season…that alone waarants taking a corner in the first round.
The Eagle’s second biggest need in my opinion is running back. With Mathews being in and out of the line up the Eagles need a guy who can carry the load. With a young quarterback they are going to need a bell cow to carry the load and take pressure off of Wentz. According to SB Nation, since 2000 the Eagles have finished in the top ten in rushing eleven times. In those years they had a .619 winning percentage. They have not ranked in the top ten in rushing since they shipped McCoy out of town. They have really suffered from the lack of consistent running back production. Adding a guy who could carry the load at a high level at some point would be optimal for the Eagles.
Finally I believe the Eagles need to address the defensive tackle position. With Bennie Logan leaving for Kansas City, that leaves a big hole in the middle. He was underrated as a player. He didn’t necessarily stuff the stat sheet, but he was one of their best run defenders. With those great young linebackers and pass rushers at the second level it is important they get a guy who can eat up blockers and stuff the run. Having a team like Dallas and their running game in the same division, it is important to have somebody up there who can take on some blockers to help out the guys at the second level.
Biggest Addition: Terrelle Pryor
Biggest Loss: Chris Baker
The Redskins had a rough offseason thus far to say the least with the firing and mishandling of Scot McCgloughan and the loss of some of their bigger weapons. At the end of the day with the addition of Pryor to go along with Crowder and Doctson Cousins still has some weapons at receiver. They also still have Davis and Reed at tight end. With that, their defense needs some work, especially up front. The Redskins have only drafted three defensive linemen since 2010. They need to either draft 3-4 defensive end or a true nose tackle. With the loss of Chris Baker and the unknown in a guy like McClain they will need to do something at that position. With the depth at defensive line in this draft the Redskins may be able to grab an imoact player to put in the trenches. The Redskins gave up almost rush yards per game last season, that was good for 24th in the league according to NFL.com. If they can upgrade in the trenches it can only make the rest of the defense that much better.
Sticking with the defensive theme, the inside linebacker position is another position of major need for the Skins. A second reason for the porous run defense is the lack of talent at the inside linebacker position. Along with that stat from earlier with their rush defense rank, they allowed twelve runs of over twenty yards according to NFL.com. Those are two alarming statistics. Will Compton and Mason Foster just aren’t getting it done. With two years of abysmal run defense it’s time to address the problem and upgrade their inside linebackers. An impact player in the middle of a defense is a game changer.
Sticking with the run theme here I believe the Skins should add a running back to their back field. Yes I know they have a large stable of backs. In reality none of those guys are legitimate play makers, I don’t think any of them are a premiere back. Matt Jones seemed to be the guy coming into 2016, but he is too inconsistent and can’t hold onto the ball. Chris Thompson is a great athlete, but is really only useful in the pass game. Robert Kelley had a nice run to finish the season, but at the end of the day he didn’t do anything to separate himself as an every down back. With the addition of a consistent every down back this offense has potential to be more explosive than last season.
Biggest Addition: Brandon Marshall
Biggest Loss: Jonathan Hankins?
The Giants have done a nice job with making decent moves to make the team better. With the addition of Brandon Marshall this offense has the chance to be as explosive as ever. They arguably have a top three receiving corps in the NFL. The addition of Rhett Ellison gives them an extra blocker as hybrid blocking tight end and full back to help the run game. The Giants were unable to add a significant piece to the offensive line at the tackle position. Fluker is a decent lineman, but he won’t have a significant impact. Offensive line help, especially at tackle is a huge need for the Giants. The Giants offensive line ranked 20th overall according to Pro Football Focus. Although Richburg and Pugh had very good seasons and Jerry was serviceable the Giants tackles were terrible. Flowers allowed 54 total quarterback pressures in his final thirteen games and Hart allowed 46 according to Pro Football Focus. The Giants desperately need to address the tackle position, but it will be tough with the weak class in this year’s draft at the position. The Giants could get lucky and have one of the top guys fall. If not they may be able to address it later in the draft.
The next position of need would be the tight end position. Since Jeremy Shockey was replaced by Boss the Giants have only had one legitimate tight end. It was Martellus Bennett and that was only for one season and the Giants refused to pay him. In today’s NFL you need a big pass catching tight end, the best ones can block. Adding a game breaking tight end would not only help the passing game it would also help on the offensive line by chipping the ends. Will Tye isn’t going to cut it, the Giants don’t know what Adams is yet, and Ellison was only signed as a blocker. This has been a position of need for years now and Jerry Reese has refused to pay for a tight end or draft one in the higher rounds of the draft. The Giants tight ends combined for 609 yards and three touchdowns. That isn’t going to cut it in today’s NFL. According to teamrankings.com the Giants only scored a touchdown 51.11% of the time, which was good for 22nd in the NFL. With a with a big body, game breaking tight end the Giants red zone statistics would only go up.
Their final position of need is the linebacker position. The Giants defense was great last season was ranked 10th in overall defense last season according to The Football Database. With that the line backing corps. Is subpar. While Jonathan Casillas and Devon Kennard are nice linebackers, they do not really have much at middle linebacker in Sheppard and Robinson. If the Giants could add a play maker at any of their linebacker positions it would make the defense that much better. They have a great secondary and a top notch defensive line even with the possible loss of Jonathan Hankins. Another position that Jerry Reese refuses to draft highly or pay big money two. Ironic that two positions he refuses to address are two of their worst positions. Adding a linebacker in the first three rounds would be optimal, they have to continue to fill in the holes on this already dynamic defense.
Biggest Addition: Nolan Carroll
Biggest Loss: Barry Church
The Cowboys have had a pretty tough offseason especially in their secondary. They lost four players, the biggest losses being Morris Claiborne and Barry Church. They also lost Ronald Leary and Doug Free from the right side of their line. Collins will obviously step back in for Leary so the only hole they will have to fill is the right tackle position. Their biggest need that they will have to fill is Safety. The Cowboys lost both Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox. Last season Barry Church was their top overall safety and J.J Wilcox had his career best grade according to Pro Football Focus. Right now the only safeties listed for the Cowboys are Jeff Heath, Kevin Frazier, and Byron Jones who played a lot at corner back in the absence of Claiborne. There is clearly a massive hole here for the Cowboys and post free agency they have neglected to fill it. This should be the first position addressed in the draft for the Cowboys.
The next position of need for the Cowboys is pass rusher. The pass rush over achieved a little bit last season. They were able to get sustained pressure when they needed to and came away with 29.5 sacks. This year it will be even more important to get pressure on the quarterback because of the losses they had in free agency. They bring back Tyrone Crawford, David Irving, Demarcus Lawrence, and Benson Mayowa. With Gregory missing all of next season on top of the lack of legitimate talent they have as it is they will need to add a legitimate pass rusher to be able to help out their secondary.
The final position of need will be corner back. Like I had said they lost both Carr and Claiborne. They were able to add Nolan Carroll to give them some veteran experience, but it looks like Byron Jones could be playing free safety if they don’t find a guy who can play the free safety position. They do still have Orlando Scandrick, but the corner position definitely lacks talent. This is very deep corner back class so they should be able to add some talent even in the middle rounds. If they can address these three positions in the draft they can continue to be one of the top teams in the NFL next season.
The NFC East should be pretty good again next season. The Giants and Cowboys should continue their winning ways and the Redskins and Eagles could surprise some people and make a run toward the playoffs if they continue to add talent to their positions of need. Each of these teams have major holes that need to be filled. This draft seems to be the deepest we have seen in a long time in a lot of different positions. This draft is going to be extremely unpredictable and really exciting.