NFC East Roundup: Reactions To the Draft
This year’s NFL draft was replete with surprise and drama. Let’s check in with the Eagles’ NFC East compatriots to see how their drafts came out.
Round 1: (No. 4)- Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott
Round 2: (No. 34)- Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith
Round 3: (No. 67)- Nebraska DT Maliek Collins
Round 4: (No. 101)- Oklahoma DE Charles Tapper
Round 4: (No. 135)- Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott
Round 6: (No. 189)- Purdue CB Anthony Brown
Round 6: (No. 212)- Central Michigan S Kavon Frazier
Round 6: (No. 216)- Eastern Michigan RB Darius Jackson
Round 6: (No. 217)- Baylor TE Rico Gathers
Tim Cowlishaw assess the Cowboys’ selection of Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth overall pick, and reveals a day one trade that never materialized.
The decision to go with Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott was far from a no-brainer. But on a team lacking defensive playmakers, what better solution than to turn back the clock, turn the rookie Elliott into DeMarco Murray and keep that defense on the bench for 33 minutes as happened in 2014?
Even if he’s not as good as Todd Gurley, the Rams’ high first-round pick a year ago, it’s a safe bet that barring injury, Elliott outrushes Gurley this season on his way to Rookie of the Year and quite possibly Pro Bowl status simply based on his surroundings.
The Cowboys even tried to delight fans and keep an eye on the future by trading up for Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch late in the first round. But the Denver Broncos, in need of a quarterback now not later, beat them to the punch.
Still a fine Day One.
Todd Archer of ESPN.com explains the connection between the Cowboys’ medical staff and their risky Day Two selection of injured Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith.
No team knows the condition of Jaylon Smith’s surgically repaired left knee better than the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys’ head team physician, Dr. Daniel Cooper, performed the operation on Smith’s knee one week after Notre Dame’s appearance in the Jan. 1 Fiesta Bowl, where Smith suffered the injury.
While every team had the same information, Cooper’s intimate knowledge of the torn anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments and recovery, plus the attitude of the patient, gave the Cowboys an edge.
“It definitely helped when their team doctor does the surgery,” Smith said, “and I’m very thankful.”
Cooper said the damage stretched Smith’s nerve “enough to make it go to sleep, but it wasn’t stretched enough to be structurally elongated or visually very damaged,” adding, “He’s had time for his nerve to regrow two inches, and the area of where his nerve was injured is six inches above the muscle that it innervates. I wouldn’t really expect him to get much innervation back into that muscle for two or three more months. Then once it does — I’ve seen kids who are completely paralyzed like him on the lateral side and not able to pick their foot up at all [that] wind up being totally normal.”
NEW YORK GIANTS
Round 1: (No. 10)- Ohio State CB Eli Apple
Round 2: (No. 40)- Oklahoma WR Sterling Shepard
Round 3: (No. 71)- Boise State CB Darian Thompson
Round 4: (No. 109)- Clemson LB B.J. Goodson
Round 5: (No. 149)- UCLA RB Paul Perkins
Round 6: (No. 184)- South Carolina State TE Jerell Adams
Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus gives the Giants a C- for their first-round pick, Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple.
In a major surprise, the Giants take Eli Apple and bypass better options at cornerback. Apple is an excellent man coverage corner, capable of locking onto his man as well as any player in the draft, but he doesn’t have the same versatility to play zone and make plays in space (nine missed tackles last season). Even when he’s locked into man coverage, Apple struggles to find the football and make plays, something he has to improve at the next level. If the Giants play more man coverage – they only played pure man coverage 30.4 percent of the time last year, 21st in the league – Apple is a good fit, but if they continue playing more zone-heavy concepts, his issues closing on the ball will be accentuated.
Paul Schwartz of the New York Post elaborates on the Giants’ second-round selection, WR Sterling Shepard.
Victor Cruz never got drafted. But his play-alike and possible successor just did.
The Giants used their second-round pick in the NFL draft on Friday night to take a receiver who brings Cruz-like qualities to their team and should help take some of the pressure and attention off Odell Beckham Jr.
In need of another target for Eli Manning, the Giants used the 40th overall selection to take Sterling Shepard, a 5-foot-10 receiver from Oklahoma. Like Cruz, Shepard does his best work operating out of the slot.
“That’s one of the names that came up, a young Victor Cruz,’’ general manager Jerry Reese said. “Very similar in some ways, body type.’’
Shepard sees the match.
“That’s one of the guys that I look at a lot,’’ Shepard said. “Victor Cruz is a great receiver. We’re kind of the same size, same stature. I definitely look up to that guy. I can see some similarities.’’
Round 1: (No. 22)- TCU WR Josh Doctson
Round 2: (No. 53)- USC LB/S Su’a Cravens
Round 3: (No. 84)- Virginia Tech CB Kendall Fuller
Round 5: (No. 152)- Temple DE Matt Ioannidis
Round 6: (No. 187)- Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld
Round 7: (No. 232)- Boston College LB Steven Daniels
Round 7: (No. 242)- Georgia RB Keith Marshall
The Washington Post’s Neil Greenberg sees Josh Doctson as an upgrade for Washington’s receiving corps.
It was a curious choice for a team in desperate need of some help on the defensive line, but Coach Jay Gruden felt the team’s offseason addition had given the defensive corp the boost it needed.
“There’s arguments there that you can take defense, but we took the best player,” Gruden said. “We addressed defense the other day with Josh Norman. We gave them a first-round pick, so they should be happy. It’s about building a football team and taking the best player to help us, and we thought Josh was a perfect fit.”
Unfortunately, the arrival of Doctson could signal the end for Pierre Garcon’s time in Washington.
Garcon, who has one year left remaining on his contract, will count $10.2 million against the cap, the third-highest on the roster. A large sum for a player nearing his 30th birthday who only produced 1.54 yards per route run last season, putting him 27th of 30 receivers who participated in at least half their team’s snaps in 2015. DeSean Jackson and tight end Jordan Reed averaged 2.14 and 2.45, respectively.
JP Finlay of CSN Washington examines the playing time prospects of Washington’s second-round pick, USC linebacker Su’a Cravens.
So, while Redskins coaches are excited about the addition of Cravens, the question lingers: Where will he play?
“They said they see me as a dime linebacker,” Cravens told the media Friday night. “So, I’m going to come in and give it my all.”
It sounds like Cravens could be an impact player for the Redskins defense, however, one hurdle remains. Per Pro Football Focus’ Rick Drummond, the Redskins only deployed their dime defense on 138 snaps out of 1,159 total defensive snaps, or about 12 percent of the time.
So did the Redskins just use a highly valued second-round pick on a player who will maybe play on 12 percent of defensive snaps?
“When you’re talking about defensive football nowadays, you want to get people who can do multiple things and be versatile in what they do and figure out ways to get the ball back for your offense,” Washington coach Jay Gruden said of Cravens. “He’s one of the top guys at his position. He’s got position flex. He’s a ball hawk. He’s a turnover machine and he’s a great player.”