The NFC East is consistently one of toughest division in the NFL.
In 2012, the Washington Redskins made the playoffs by finishing in first place with a 10-6 record. The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants just missed the cut at 9-7, and the Dallas Cowboys had a chance to win the division in the last game of the season. The Philadelphia Eagles struggled, finishing at 4-12.
Next season should be extremely competitive as well, as teams are already preparing for 2013. For two weeks, the teams have been looking to improve themselves through free agency and trades. In one month, they will add multiple players in the NFL Draft.
Who will the Cowboys, Giants, Eagles and Redskins draft with their first picks? Below is a preview for every NFC East team, including a prediction for what player each one will take.
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No team in the NFC East needs help like the Philadelphia Eagles. After a promising 3-1 start, the Eagles lost 11 of their final 12 games.
It wasn’t just one area that hurt Philadelphia. The team was poor in all facets of the game. Only the Jacksonville Jaguars, Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs scored fewer points than the Eagles. They also finished tied for 29th in points allowed.
With so many holes, Philadelphia may decide to draft the best player available. They have the fourth pick in the first round, and will have a chance to select one of the most talented prospects in the draft class.
Michael Vick has been unable to get the job done with the Eagles, and Nick Foles wasn’t very impressive in his few starts at quarterback. Foles was drafted in 2012 by Andy Reid, and new head coach Chip Kelly may want to bring in his own quarterback.
The top signal caller in the draft, Geno Smith, will almost certainly be available for Philadelphia at No.4. If the Eagles feel he can be their quarterback of the future, they’ll likely take a chance on him.
With the current Philadelphia offense, though, Smith would have a tough time succeeding. In 2012, the Eagles were in the top five in sacks allowed with 48. They might want to draft an offensive lineman before they spend a high pick on a young quarterback.
The Chiefs seem to have settled in on Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel. That leaves offensive tackle Eric Fisher to go from Central Michigan to the City of Brotherly Love.
In many ways, the Cowboys enter the draft with the most pressure of any NFC East team to make a good first selection. The club has been disappointing the last few seasons, failing to finish over .500 since 2009.
In 2012, Dallas improved its defense by drafting Morris Claiborne. The cornerback helped the Cowboys become one of the toughest teams to throw on in the league. Now, the club must address their offensive line.
Despite his critics, Tony Romo has proven to be an above-average quarterback in the NFL. He has just one year left on his contract, but owner Jerry Jones has indicated that the two sides will soon agree on an extension. With the Cowboys set at quarterback, it’s time they start protecting their signal caller.
Romo and the Dallas offense were hampered by a futile running game last year. DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones were unable to have much success, leading a rushing attack that averaged just 3.6 yards per carry. Only the Arizona Cardinals were worse in that department.
If Dallas is lucky, Jonathan Cooper from North Carolina will fall to them at No.18. The most likely scenario has the club drafting offensive guard Chance Warmack from Alabama.
New York Giants
Coming off their Super Bowl win, the Giants had another poor finish to their season. Halfway through the year, New York looked like they would cruise into the playoffs. However, a 3-5 record down the stretch kept them out of the postseason.
While their offense failed them at times, New York’s defense was the catalyst to their late season collapse. In Weeks 15 and 16, the Giants gave up 34 and 33 points to the Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens, respectively.
Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul will return in 2013, but a few of the team’s best defenders are headed elsewhere. Safety Kenny Phillips agreed to a deal with the Eagles and Osi Umenyiora appears to be headed to the Falcons.
With the 19th overall pick, New York’s selection will depend heavily on who the first 18 teams take. Inside linebacker Alec Ogletree is an option for New York. The Georgia product is extremely talented, but off-the-field issues could cause his stock to drop. Defensive end Bjoern Werner could also go to New York if he falls that far.
However, the Giants may ultimately look to improve their secondary, which finished near the bottom of the league in 2012. Florida State safety Matt Elam could help improve a defense that gave up 254.3 passing yards per game.
The Redskins are the only NFC East team without a selection in the first round. Before last year’s draft, the Redskins traded their first-round picks in 2012, 2013 and 2014 to the St. Louis Rams for the No.2 overall pick. The deal seems to be working out in Washington’s favor after taking Robert Griffin III.
Griffin led an offense that was one of the best in the league, especially at the end of the season. Washington was fourth in the NFL, scoring 27.3 points per game.
With the 51st overall pick (19th in the second round), the Redskins will probably look to upgrade their defense. Ideally, the Redskins would like to take a player like Elam, though it’s not likely that he’ll still be on the board when it’s the Redskins turn.
LSU safety Eric Reid and Rutgers cornerback Logan Ryan could be available for Washington. Connecticut cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson might be the most likely candidate to join the NFC East champions.