NFCE First-Round Possibilities

    259 194 Sir Squatch

    By Joey Esquire

    With the NFL draft finally here, I’m taking a look at three directions each of the NFCE teams could go. That way, given the accuracy of pre-draft predictions in general and my own football acumen, we can at least rule out three possibilities for each team.

    New York Giants

    This might be the toughest team to predict. They have a new GM, a new HC and needs at every level on both sides of the ball.

    What they could do:

    1. Sam Darnold/Josh Allen – I am pretty confident that Cleveland will draft one of these two QBs at number one overall (though not totally confident, because… Cleveland). It might be as simple for the Giants as picking whichever one is left. Despite what Dave Gettleman has said, he has to recognize that Eli is old and bad and needs to be replaced. Davis Webb gets thrown on the infamous scrap heap that is Jerry Reese’s third-round picks.
    2. Bradley Chubb – The Giants already axed JPP and will surely move Olivier Vernon as soon as his contract lets them. Chubb is the best player at one of the most important positions and it is a position of need for the Giants. Dave Gettleman invested in his defensive front seven with three first-round picks in his four years with the Panthers, and was with the Giants when their pass rush (built with Giants’ draft picks) carried them to Super Bowls.

    What I think they will do:

    3. Saquon Barkley – This is mostly just a hunch, and although I love Saquon and think he’s going to be outstanding, I think it’s a mistake. There is a clear need for a RB on the Giants. They haven’t had a good one since Ahmad Bradshaw, and haven’t had a great one since Tiki Barber. They also ranked 29th in the NFL in rushing DVOA, so the fit makes sense. Barkley is a special player, but he didn’t have any NFL talent on the OL at Penn State, and he won’t have any NFL talent on the OL with the Giants. Teams with talent defenses like Ohio State could shut him down; other times he might break one for 70 yards then have 20 more rushes for 35 total yards. He CAN make something out of nothing. He CAN break off a TD despite poor blocking, but I don’t think it’s wise to count on it at the NFL level. He’ll be a great asset in the pass game though.

    Washington Redskins

    I think the Redskins were probably better than their record indicated last year, particularly on offense. No team is equipped to deal with the rash of injuries they sustained to one position group on the OL.

    What they could do:

    1. Vita Vea – I think the Redskins were in the conversation for the worst DL in the NFL last year. They were terrible against the run overall, they were the worst in the league defending short-yardage runs, and their DL didn’t pressure the passer in passing situations (though their edge LBs did). All of a sudden after drafting Vea and Allen in consecutive years, they could reverse that in a short window and become a stout unit up front. Two questions: 1. Will Vea be available? 2. Can Vea play on third downs?
    2. Trade Back/Derrius Guice – I believe based on the pre-draft chatter that the Redskins have correctly identified RB as a serious need, and that they really like Guice. But I also think they would acknowledge the poor value of drafting Guice this high. If their top prospects are exhausted by 13 and they can find a trade partner to move them back to, say, the early-to-mid 20s and maybe let them recoup the third-round pick they sent off for Alex Smith, that’s an ideal spot to scoop up Guice.

    What I think they will do:

    3. Best DB available – Every year there are about 20 guys who “will never make it” to 13 or so, where the Redskins are picking. The top DBs in this class are Minkah Fitzpatrick, Denzel Ward and Derwin James. After them the second-tier guys might be in play as well, but my hunch is one of those top DBs is still around. The Redskins secondary was a stronger unit than they get credit for in 2017, but they lost two starters in Kyle Fuller and Bashaud Breeland, so even with a presumably healthy Fabian Moreau in year two, they can afford to supplement that DB corps.


    Dallas Cowboys

    Every team at this time of year swears they will take the best player available. Don’t believe the Cowboys when they say it. They are clearly lying. Last year they took Taco Charlton over Kevin King despite having King graded higher. The year before,they took Elliott over Jalen Ramsey because they wanted to recapture that 2014 magic.

    What they could do:

    1. Best LB available – It’s a strong class for LBs in 2018, and there is some strong top end talent. Roquan Smith, Tremaine Edmunds, Rashaan Evans and Leighton Vander Esch are all strong candidates for the first round. The need for LB is clear for Dallas. Sean Lee can’t stay healthy. Anthony Hitchens left in free agency. Jaylon Smith started to show promise toward the end of 2017, but they could really use help supplementing a LB corps that struggled vs both the run and the pass in 2017.
    2. Harold Landry – I’ll confess I haven’t heard much Landry-to-the-Cowboys buzz, so this just a hunch. That said, despite the emergence of Demarcus Lawrence last season, the Cowboys do not have a complimentary pass rusher on the other side, and it showed. (29th in the NFL in third-down defense). Obviously they drafted Taco Charlton in the first round last year, so it’s a fair question whether there will be enough snaps to go around. But Landry has been compared to Vic Beasley and TJ Watt, and a third-down pass rush package of Charlton, Lawrence, David Irving and Harold Landry could be a huge asset.

    What I think they will do:

    3. Trade Up/Calvin Ridley – The Cowboys have ample ammunition with 10 total picks including two fourth-rounders. You just know Jerry will be itching to replace Dez Bryant, and the need is clear. The Cowboys head into 2018 with Allen Hurns, Terrance Williams, two Cole Beasleys and the shambling corpse of Jason Witten as their primary pass catchers. That’s a rough group, and an instant starter with Dak-friendly route-running ability like Ridley could really elevate that group.

    Philadelphia Eagles

    The Eagles won the Super Bowl. That’s why they’re picking 32nd. The team that wins the Super Bowl is usually the last team to pick in each round (unless the Patriots happened to have won the Super Bowl that year and had to forfeit their pick for their latest cheating scandal). In 2017, the Eagles won the Super Bowl, so that 32nd pick is theirs. Also they won the Super Bowl. Not sure if I mentioned that.

    What they could do:

    1. Best CB available – The Eagles at 32 are in prime position to catch one of those second-tier CBs like Mike Hughes or Jaire Alexander if they happen to be falling. The Eagles like their young talent at CB and have two starters in Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills, but they don’t have a natural fit for the slot to replace Patrick Robinson, and that is a legitimate concern. Also there has been some chatter that Darby, in a contract year, could be a trade candidate. They could look to select a slot specialist to fill that spot.
    2. Sony Michel/Derrius Guice – The Eagles have two capable running backs in Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement, but I don’t think they view either as an every-down back, I don’t think they trust Ajayi’s knees, and they haven’t filled the roles vacated by Legarrette Blount or Darren Sproles yet. Howie Roseman has made it clear that they are looking for immediate contributors in this 2018 draft, and although these are two different backs with two different skill sets, both would qualify.

    What I think they will do:

    3. Trade back – The Eagles have not hidden the fact that the 32nd pick is for sale. They don’t have a 2nd round pick from the 2016 Carson Wentz trade, and they don’t have a 3rdround pick from the 2017 Ronald Darby trade, so they are light on draft picks and need an infusion of young talent, given their current cap situation and the Wentz contract looming on the horizon. So my guess is they will aggressively look to move back and recoup a 2nd and probably a 4th.

    Sir Squatch

    Blurry, woods living, Scotch drinking, Mythical Creature.

    All stories by: Sir Squatch

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