By Leo Silbert
It is getting to the point of the year that fans are trying to figure out who their team needs to draft or what position needs the most help. Some teams like the Patriots don’t have a glaring need so they are able to pick for desire and are allowed greater risks. Other teams like the Browns have needs all over the map so they are best suited to just take the best available player. I’m going to sort this out by division and within the divisions I’ll sort them by 2016 records.
Next up, the NFC East:
- Dallas Cowboys- The Cowboys put together a season that seemed to have come right outside of a movie script. The veteran qb goes down with an injury and it is up to a couple of hotshot rookies to keep the team afloat until the star veteran could return. Except, the veteran never returned and not because of his injury being too severe, the hotshot rookies were on a roll and looked unstoppable. They seemed to be taking the team over in the same kind of way that Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk took over the Rams in their first years starting on the team, except Zeke and Dak were true rookies. That was all until the team got to the playoffs and lost to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in their first playoff game. Now it is time for them to find their flaws and the biggest one is their ability to rush the passer consistently on defense. They might not be in this position where their biggest need is at this position if Randy Gregory didn’t end up becoming a head case, but it is where they are now. And this draft, besides just being a deep edge rusher draft is also a draft where a late first round prospect at edge rusher plays for a Lovie Smith in college who runs the same defense as Rod Marinelli with a lot of the same terminology in Dawuane Smoot out of Illinois. Dallas really is building something special here, and once they get a consistent pass rush, they can potentially advance to the next round of the playoffs.
- New York Giants- Going into the season, most Giants fans expected the Giants to have the most explosive offense in the NFC East and one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL while their defense would be improved from the worst ranked defense in the league but not being anything special. And that right there is why the games are played. The Giants’ defense turned into one of the very best units in the NFL with all 3 of their big free agent acquisitions proving their worth, a 2nd year pro at safety going from looking lost in coverage into arguably the best safety in the NFL, and strong showings from multiple rookies. So yea, for now the Giants’ biggest need isn’t on that side of the ball. Their offense on the other hand looked like it was a Ferrari parked in a garage and not moving because no one knew where the keys were. There wasn’t a 100 yard rushing effort by a running back until week 17, Victor Cruz couldn’t get separation on the outside, Eli Manning was missing some throws, the tight ends looked like they had anchors strapped to their feet after the catch, but most importantly was that the Giants had some of, if not the very worst offensive tackle play on both sides of offensive line in the NFL. Eli Manning threw the ball sooner after the snap than any other quarterback in the league yet he was still constantly under pressure. Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart are not good enough to be starting tackles in the NFL, and their inability effected how every other person on the offense struggled. Now, I have said before that this draft is a weak offensive tackle draft, but late in the first round is where a team can actually get value at the position in this year’s draft. If the Giants can fix their offensive tackle problems, they may be able to find the keys to the Odell Beckham Jr lead Ferrari.
- Washington Redskins- Coming off their first playoff appearance since 2012, the Redskins had high expectations for this past season. On offense, they had some of the most yards in the league behind Kirk Cousins throwing for over 4900 yards and a receiving corps that ran deep with 2 great receiving threats at tight end. They had a very good offensive line and they had a developing running back in Robert Kelly who can stand to have a change of pace backfield mate. Their defense on the other hand needs some help. They were the worst team in the NFL in 3rd down defense, allowing 46.63% of all third downs to become first downs. By comparison, the Buccaneers who were first in the NFL in that category allowed just 34..36% of third downs to be converted. That big of a difference is unacceptable and something needs to be done to fix that. One thing that would help them greatly is an inside linebacker who can go out in coverage and stop the run equally well. Mason Foster was adequate at that, but he doesn’t have sideline to sideline speed and none of the other linebackers on the roster have that kind of skill since Su’a Cravens will be moved to strong safety which will help that position. If the Redskins get a speedy linebacker to compliment Foster, they will be a lot closer to having a competitive defense.
- Philadelphia Eagles- The Eagles came into the year with a rookie qb pegged as the starter after they traded away Sam Bradford with little time before the start of the season. Carson Wentz started out fast but slowed down as the season went on. They also switched to a new scheme on defense, switching to a 4-3 wide nine scheme from a 3-4 two gap system and for the front 7 it worked out wonderfully. Brandon Graham had a career year, Fletcher Cox lived up to his contract, Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham were great at linebacker, and in the secondary Malcolm Jenkins showed how he is a top 5 safety. But both their offense and defense had an Achilles heel. For the offense it was their wide receiving corps which was one of the worst in the league with only Jordan Matthews playing at a passable level on offense while on defense their best corner back was Leodis McKelvin who isn’t good enough to be a top 2 corner on most teams in the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus they had the lowest ranked receiver in the NFL in Nelson Agholar and the lowest ranked corner in the NFL in Jalen Mills. Both of these positions are in dire need of help, but their receivers need to improve to help the development of Carson Wentz. If they get a good wide receiver, they may be able to help Carson Wentz into not having a near 1:1 touchdown to interception ratio in his 2nd year and may make the Eagles’ offense into a more serious threat across the board.
Previous articles in this series:
AFC East- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/each-afc-east-teams-biggest-draft-need/
AFC North- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/each-afc-north-teams-biggest-draft-need/
AFC South- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/each-afc-south-teams-biggest-draft-need/
AFC West- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/each-afc-south-teams-biggest-draft-need-2/