NFC East Division Draft Recap

April 27, 2009

With the completion of this year's NFL Draft, hope once again springs eternal in the league. Of course, that will all come crashing to a halt in the next few months, when some of these picks get injured, holdout, or just plain don't pan out. Until then, each franchise probably walked away from the draft feeling that they at least addressed some of their off-season needs.

Here is our team-by-team draft evaluation of the NFC East:

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles probably had the best draft of any team in their division, nabbing Missouri speedster Jeremy Maclin and running back Shady McCoy with their first two picks.

Both selections should provide Eagles superstar quarterback Donovan McNabb with two more viable offensive weapons to go along with the Pro Bowler Bryant Westbrook and dynamic second-year wideout DeSean Jackson.

On the Draft's second day the Eagles front office wisely chose to bolster their defense, selecting play-making defensive back Macho Harris from Virginia Tech. While it is unclear whether Harris would play cornerback or safety, at the very least, he will provide depth to an Eagles secondary somewhat weakened by the loss of their emotional leader, safety Brian Dawkins.

Philadelphia's signing of undrafted free Josh Gaines of Penn State was an unheralded move that could pay dividends in the future.

Overall, a good draft for Philly that becomes even stronger when one factors in their trade for standout left tackle Jason Peters.

New York Giants

The Giants believe they had quite a successful draft, as they shored up most of their offseason areas of concern. Unable to acquire a proven veteran big-play wide receiver to fill the void left by the departed Plaxico Burress, Jerry Reese and the Giants brass drafted two wide receivers in their first four picks. Such moves were a necessity for a Giants team hoping to replace the production of Burress and the now-departed Amani Toomer.

In selecting the sure-handed Hakeem Nicks out of North Carolina with their first round pick, and then nabbing unheralded Ramses Barden out of Cal Poly in the third round, the Giants could have a pair of wideouts capable of bolstering their suddenly pedestrian receiving corps.

Although Nicks certainly grabbed more pub with his monster bowl performance against West Virginia, it is actually Barden who resembles Burress in physical stature. The 6'6" 230-pound Barden could prove to be the steal of the draft for the Giants.

The Giants also added some depth to their offensive line and linebacking corps by picking offensive lineman William Beatty from Connecticut and Virginia's Clint Stintim, respectively.

Seventh round pick Stoney Woodson, a defensive back out of South Carolina, could contribute on special teams.

Washington Redskins

The 'Skins, long rumored to be enamored with USC QB Mark Sanchez, surprised many by not trading up to select the former Trojan. Apparently, wiser heads prevailed, as somebody must have convinced Napoleonic owner Daniel Snyder that Washington already has a solid young quarterback with NFL experience in Jason Campbell.

The 'Skins ended up using their first-round pick (13th overall) on Brian Orakpo of Texas. While Orakpo is an incredible physical specimen who routinely left scouts shaking their heads in disbeleif at his workouts, he remains a classic 'tweener. He is probably better suited to play linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, than defensive end in a 4-3, but Washington will likely use him at end in the hope that he might fill the void left by the departed Jason Taylor.

Despite signing corner DeAngelo Hall to a multi-year contract and having experienced corners Fred Smoot and Carlos Rogers on the roster, Washington inexpicably used their next pick on cornerback Kevin Barnes. In their defense, Barnes is a heady and physical player who reportedly had one of the highest wonderlic scores in this year's draft.

The rest of Washington's draft picks were used to add depth to their group of linebackers, as the team drafted Cody Glenn of Nebraska and Robert Henson of Texas Christian. Perhaps one of those players will be able to replace London Fletcher in the future. In the meantime, however, Washington would have been better served by drafting for their more pressing needs along the offensive line.

Dallas Cowboys

For the Cowboys, this draft will be successful only if Roy Williams validates the team's midseason deal and emerges as a true number 1 receiver.

Should he fall short of those expectations, the trade will constitute an utter failure for a Cowboys scouting department which had the luxury of evaluating Williams' ability in actual NFL game action with Detroit.

To get Williams, Dallas gave up 3 draft picks, including their 2009 first and third round selections. They also cut Terrell Owens loose, again based on their projections that Williams could fill T.O.'s role.

Lacking a first rounder this year, the Cowboys decided to draft in bulk. GM Jerry Jones dished the team's second round pick for added selections, giving Big D 12 second-day draft picks altogether. If half of those picks make the roster, this draft will at least be decent in that it would give the roster some short term depth.

Once again, Jones chose to focus most of his selections on defense to help alleviate the offseason losses of linebackers Zach Thomas and Kevin Burnett, and defensive backs Roy Williams and Anthony Henry.

The Cowboys used three picks to nab undersized players with solid pass rushing skills in Western Illinois' Jason Williams, Oregon State's Victor Butler, and Texas Tech's Brandon Williams.

They also spent one of their third round selections on offensive guard Robert Brewster from Ball State. He is one of the few Cowboys' picks in this class that is expected to legitimately compete for a starting position.

The Cowboys also nabbed 4 DB's in corners DeAngelo Smith and Mike Mickens of Cincinatti, and safeties Michael Hamlin (Clemson) and Stephen Hodge (TCU). Although both corner prospects might be more talented, the safeties might get more playing time due to the release of veteran Roy Williams.

In particular, Mickens was a seventh round bargain who dropped due to knee concerns. The Cowboys are hoping that he can become this year's version of Tashard Choice -- a talented player who fell into their laps due to injury.

Sixth round tight end John Phillips (Virginia) is pure backup material who provides insurance in case star Jason Witten has another injury-riddled season.

Finally, the Cowboys made two head-scratching picks with QB Stephen McGee (Round 4) of Texas A&M, and kicker David Buehler (Round 5) of USC.

McGee raised some eyebrows because Dallas already traded for a backup QB in Jon Kitna. McGee, an athletic guy with a decent 40 time, therefore will be used primarily in Wildcat formations which Dallas hopes to add to their playbook this year.

As for Buehler, the Cowboys already have a very good kicker in Nick Folk. However, Buehler tested well athletically and accumulated numerous touchbacks for 'SC's high-octane offense. Hence, he will probably be used only as a kickoff specialist, rather than directly competing with Folk.

Both Buehler and McGee must excel in their specialized roles in order to justify using draft picks for their limited services.

Overall, most of these guys project as special teamers, situational specialists, and backups. Although many of these guys do have upside, the 'Boys might have been better served by trading up to the first day, rather than down to day two.

By Kweku Turkson and Mike Elliott
Staff Reporter and Editor for

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