Tag Archives: Carson Wentz

Philadelphia’s NFC East To Lose

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In 2016, the Philadelphia Eagles finished in last place in the NFC East. However that was very deceiving being that the Eagles had a record of 7-9. Philadelphia won their last two games of 2016 which were victories over the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys who were each postseason bound. The Eagles used the momentum from finishing strong in 2016 to carry over to the current season and the results have been extremely positive. After six games Philadelphia is 5-1 which includes them being 2-0 within the NFC East. And just like each of the last four times in which Philly finished in the basement of the NFC East for the previous season, they’ve once again rebounded in a big way.

In 2015, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie decided to dismiss Chip Kelly as the team’s head coach and in the process he decided to get his organization back to the basics. Lurie’s first order of business was to once again make Howie Roseman the Eagles general manager. Roseman had a good working relationship with former Eagles head coach Andy Reid as this duo help Philadelphia win the NFC Championship in 2004. Reid is currently the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, but the Eagles sought out one of his proteges in Doug Pederson to be their next head coach.

Doug Pederson

Pederson had previously been an offensive assistant under Reid with the Eagles and he was brought back to the organization last year in order to get the ship righted.

Like most head coaches who take over a team, Pederson wanted to draft a quarterback to mold, and Philadelphia would trade up to the second overall spot in the 2016 National Football League Draft to select quarterback Carson Wentz.

Collegiately for the North Dakota State Bison, Wentz showed that he had the ability to operate a pro-style offense which included him being a member of five Football Championship Subdivision winners. Wentz was also a two-time FCS Championship Game Most Outstanding Player as this helped to make him a hot commodity as his National Football League career was set to begin.

Carson Wentz

Pederson didn’t waste any time as he named Wentz as the starting quarterback in Week 1 for the 2016 National Football League season, and the youngster was able to respond by helping Philly begin the campaign with a record of 3-0. Wentz would make all 16 starts as a rookie as he threw 16 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. But most importantly Wentz was never fazed as Philadelphia had found their next franchise quarterback.

Wentz has continued to assert himself this season as he has 13 touchdowns to just 3 picks. Wentz also has a pair of comeback victories under his belt which is due to his poise. At 6’5″. 237 lbs., Wentz is deceptively fast and agile for his size. Wentz has good scrambling ability which he uses to get out of the pocket when the play breaks down as this coincides with him not forcing the football down the field.

Wentz’s strong start is the perfect illustration to the commitment of Lurie, Roseman, and Pederson in regards to putting him in the best possible place to succeed. In a slew of key moves during the off-season the Eagles signed running back LeGarrette Blount, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, and defensive end Chris Long. All three players bring a veteran presence, while Long and Blount each helped the New England Patriots win the Super Bowl last year.

LeGarrette Blount

Last year the Eagles were 11th in the National Football League in rushing, but so far this season they are second with Blount leading the way as he is averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Jeffery has the potential to gain 1,000 yards receiving, while his presence takes some of the attention away from tight end Zach Ertz who is currently Philadelphia’s best pass catcher. And in the case of Long, he might not be the pass rusher that he was during his prime which was spent with the St. Louis Rams, but he is a professional in every since of the word which resonates with the team.

It has not taken the Eagles that long to buy into what Pederson has been selling as he has been a breath of fresh air from Kelly. In the nearly three years that Kelly was the Eagles, the locker room became fractured with most of the team turning against their head coach. Now the Eagles are back to having fun while they have an emerging leader in Wentz to go with Long, strong safety Malcolm Jenkins, and left tackle Jason Peters as leadership is always key for a team that is eyeing a championship.

And after the Eagles came into 2017 expected to have to slug it out with the Cowboys as well as the Giants for the top spot in the division, things are clearing up for Philadelphia faster than than the traffic on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. The Giants have yet to win a game this season and after they lost three wide receivers for the season last Sunday, you can stick a fork in them. The Cowboys who were 13-3 last season are just 2-3 so far in 2017. Dallas has been unable to stop the run on defense, while things took a twist for them as the National Football League was able to reinstate their six-game suspension on Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot which changes the tenor of the season for them. The Washington Redskins shouldn’t be much of a factor in the NFC East either, and with the Eagles having already defeating them this season, they really have a leg up.

So now that the Eagles are on cruise control within the NFC East, they can look at the bigger picture which is potentially securing a first-round bye in the playoffs. Philadelphia’s 28-23 road win over the Carolina Panthers has to do well for their psych as the Panthers themselves are one of the top teams in the NFC.

Pederson is looking to join his former boss in Reid who was able to get the Eagles to the playoffs in just his second second with the team. But will Pederson be able to do something that Reid was unable to do which is to get the Eagles a Super Bowl Championship?

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2017 NFC East Projections

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X-Philadelphia Eagles 11-5

2016 was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Philadelphia Eagles as they were beginning life with a new head coach in Doug Pederson as well as a new starting quarterback in Carson Wentz. But whereas that the expectations were not that high for Philadelphia, they came out of the gate like gangbusters by winning their first three games. But with Wentz taking his lumps as a rookie quarterback, the losses began to show up for the Eagles. However the Eagles would remain a tough out in spite of the fact that they finished in last place in the NFC East. But Philadelphia’s last place finish was deceiving as they went 7-9 which included picking up victories over both the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys who survived the riggers of the division en route to earning a playoff berth. And as Wentz is only going to get better, while the Eagles did a solid job in regards to putting a quality team around him heading into a new season, there is plenty to like about this team.

Carson Wentz

Wentz’s transition to the National Football League was made easier in part due to the fact that he played in a pro-style offense collegiately for the North Dakota State Bison, while now playing for a head coach in Pederson who himself played in the NFL adds to his transition. Wentz had his fair share of ups and downs as a rookie which was evident by him throwing 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, but he was able to hang in there and take his lumps. Through it all Wentz displayed solid pocket awareness and in the process the youngster was able to earn the respect of his teammates.

Now as Wentz’s sophomore campaign is beginning, credit to the Eagles front office in regards to putting talent around him on the offensive side of the football. This off-season saw Philadelphia and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery agree on a one-year deal for $14 million. At 6’3″, 218 lbs., Jeffery gives the Eagles a play maker at the wide receiver position which is something that they’ve lacked over the past few seasons. When healthy Jeffery can be one of the most productive receivers in football, however the operative term is when he is healthy. Over the last two years Jeffery has missed 11 games to either injury or suspension, but the fact that he only signed a one-year deal should put him in line to be extra motivated this season.

The past three years have seen running back LeGarrette Blount be a big contributor to a pair of Super Bowl Championships for the New England Patriots. But as much as Blount enjoyed his time winning with the Patriots, he decided that is was time for him to have a change of scenery. Blount is coming off of his best season in the National Football League as he gained 1,161 yards on the ground last year, while also leading the league in rushing touchdowns with 18. And Blount’s presence in Philadelphia should help to boost an Eagles rushing attack which was already 11th in the NFL last into possibility being a top-five unit.

The Eagles already had a solid offensive line and they received a boost during the off-season by signing guard Chance Warmack. Warmack may have never lived up to his full potential with the Tennessee Titans who made him a first-round pick in 2013, but now he has the opportunity to be on an Eagles offensive line which includes right tackle Lane Johnson as well as left tackle Jason Peters who is a nine-time Pro Bowl selection.

Philadelphia was only able to generate 34 sacks on defense last season, however their defensive line has been upgraded during the off-season. The Eagles used their first-round pick on defensive end Derek Barnett who has the potential to be an anchor on the defensive line for years to come, while they also signed veteran defensive end Chris Long. Like Blount, Long was a member of the Patriots Super Bowl Championship team last season, and his postseason experience as well as knowledge of what it takes to rush the passer will be a vital for an Eagles team that is looking to become a contender in 2017.

Malcolm Jenkins

Strong safety Malcolm Jenkins continues to be a leader on the defensive side of the football, but Phiiladelphia will need young players such as cornerback Jalen Mills who is in his second year in the National Football League to be able to step up and take his game to the next level.

Two of Philadelphia’s first three games are within the NFC East, and a strong a strong start could put them in line for their first division title since 2013.

Y-New York Giants 10-6

The 2016 National Football League saw the beginning of the Ben McAdoo era as the head coach of the New York Giants. Under McAdoo, the Giants went 11-5 for their first playoff berth since their last Super Bowl Title in 2011. There were many positives for the Giants which included having a stingy defense as well as going 7-1 at MetLife Stadium. But New York would be one-and-done in the playoffs as a slew of dropped passes along with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers would prove to be too much for them as they were eliminated in the NFC Wild Card Game. But as a new NFL season is set to begin, will the Giants be able to do something that they’ve been unable to do since 2008 which is to make the postseason in consecutive years?

Eli Manning

One of McAdoo’s luxuries is that he has Eli Manning as his starting quarterback. Throughout Manning’s National Football League career he has had his detractors as he has led the league in interceptions three separate times. However Manning is 108-91 as starting quarterback and he’s also the most prolific quarterback in Giants franchise history. Manning is closing in on becoming just the seventh player in NFL history to pass for 50,000 career yards, while he still has the pocket awareness as well as the arm strength to get it done at the age of 36.

But even though that Manning is coming off of the sixth 4,000-yard passing season of his National Football League career, the Giants were still 17th in the league in passing. The Giants offense was inconsistent at times last year; especially in the red zone.

John Mara

Giants general manager Jerry Reese has attempted to remedy this by upgrading Manning’s passing options. In free agency, the Giants signed wide receiver Brandon Marhsall who gives them size at the position. At 6’5″, 232 lbs., Marhsall is a matchup nightmare for most defensive backs in the National Football League due to his size and sheer athleticism. And this size should pay dividends for New York and Manning as the quarterback will definitely lean on him in the red zone in jump ball situations. The Giants will be the fifth NFL team that Marshall has suited up for, and when this season comes to an end, he will more than likely find himself in the NFL’s all-time top-20 list for receiving yards.

The Giants would also use a first-round pick in this past spring’s National Football League Draft on tight end Evan Engram. Since the Giants traded tight end Jeremy Shockey to the New Orleans Saints in 2008, they have used a “tight end by committee” approach which has not worked that often. And by not having a quality option at the tight end position, it has taken away from the Giants ability to have a more effective offense.

The Giants didn’t draft Engram for his blocking ability as he was used as more of an H-back in college for the Mississippi Rebels, but what he gives New York is a fluid receiver at the tight end position. And aside from the fact that Engram attended the same college that Manning did, he could become one of the quarterback’s favorite options in the passing game this year.

Odell Beckham Jr.

But you can’t talk too much about the Giants offense without mentioning the exploits of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. In just three years with the Giants, Beckham is making a strong case to be recognized as the most prolific wide receiver in Giants franchise history. Beckham has already racked up 4,122 receiving yards and 35 touchdowns while getting the Pro Bowl nod in each of his three seasons. Beckham has become the most polarizing and exciting player that the Giants have employed since Hall of Fame outside linebacker Lawrence Taylor, and his rare combination of speed as well as elusiveness have made him one of the best wide receivers in the National Football League. Beckham falls into that category of being a “coverage buster” as it doesn’t matter if teams want to give him extra attention because he still finds a way to make the catch. But if opposing defenses want to pay too much attention to Beckham this year, the Giants have options in their passing game such as Marshall, Engram, and wide receiver Sterling Shepard who can make them pay.

There was a time when the Giants were primarily known for their ability to run the football, however they’ve now built a reputation the National Football League for the inability of their ground game. You have to go back to 2012 to find the last time that the Giants had a ball carrier gain at least 1,000 in a season, while they were 29th in the NFL last season in regards to rushing.

The Giants will once again use a running back by committee. But between Paul Perkins, Orleans Darkwa, and Shane Vereen, if one of these running backs gets hot for the ground attack, it would not surprise me to see McAdoo stick with the guy who is getting it done.

Ben McAdoo

McAdoo’s offensive system is all about Manning getting the football out quickly which doesn’t put as much stress on the offensive line. Manning was sacked 21 times last year which was his lowest total since 2012. However for the Giants offense to be as productive as their potential adds up to, the offensive line must find to step up in big situations.

In 2015, the Giants used a first-round pick on left tackle Ereck Flowers. The Giants immediately plugged Flowers in at left tackle, but throughout his brief stint in the National Football League, he has lacked the footwork necessary to be a successful left tackle. And in order for Manning to find Beckham and Marshall for those big pass plays, it all starts with Flowers being able to protect Manning’s blindside.

Defensively the Giants were tenth in the National Football League as Steve Spagnuolo began his second stint as the team’s defensive coordinator. Spagnuolo’s first stint with New York was predicated by his ability to consistently create pressure with his defense. As a team the Giants had 35 sacks last year, but they knew how to consistently create pressure; sometimes with just their front four.

Damon Harrison

The Giants lost defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins in free agency as he signed with the Indianapolis Colts, but they still have a formidable defensive line which features defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison along with defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon.

New York has not had a strong linebacking unit in years, but they possess arguably the best secondary in the National Football League. The Giants were 23rd in the NFL in passing yards allowed, however they were second in the league in points allowed per game at 17.8. The Giants had a “bend, but don’t break” mentality as they stiffened in the red zone. And as cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie led the team in interceptions with 6, while strong safety Landon Collins has 5, along with the coverage ability of cornerback Janoris Jenkins, the Giants secondary dubbed themselves the NYPD (New York Pass Defense). This unit could get better, while Collins who barely missed out on being the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 is making his case to be recognized as the best safety in the game.

McAdoo was somewhat able to fly under the radar in 2016, but it will be important for him to bring all of the talent that the Giants have together in 2017 for a potential Super Bowl run.

Y-Dallas Cowboys 10-6

It’s been a topsy-turvy ride for the Dallas Cowboys as in 2014 they would go 12-4 to win the NFC East which was followed by them going 4-12 in 2015. Dallas would then respond by going 13-3 last year to not only win the NFC East again, but they also finished with the best record in the NFC. However the Cowboys would be one-and-done in the postseason as they fell at home to the Green Bay Packers, and you have to go back to the 1995 National Football League season to find the last time that they made it past the divisional round of the playoffs. The Cowboys enter this season with a very exciting team, but will they have enough in their arsenal to live up to the Super Bowl expectations that have been thrust upon them?

Ezekiel Elliot

The Cowboys expected running back Ezekiel Elliot to have a strong impact in 2016 after they used the fourth overall pick in the National Football League Draft on him. Elliot was able to burst onto the scene as he led the NFL in rushing with 1,631 rushing yards, while he drew comparisons to Hall of Fame running backs in Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith who also played for the Cowboys. Elliot provided Dallas with a “home-run hitter” at the running back position as he was always a step away from breaking a big play. And in the process Elliot was able to make Cowboys owner/president Jerry Jones look like a genius after investing several first-round picks into his offensive line and coming to his senses by putting an explosive ball carrier behind the line after he let running back DeMarco Murray leave as a free agent in 2014.

Elliot was the engine for the Cowboys offense as he carried the football 322 times. And in the process his ability helps the passing game in Dallas due to the fact that opposing defenses must consistently focus on him.

Like Elliot, quarterback Dak Prescott was a part of the Cowboys draft class in 2016. But unlike Elliot, Prescott didn’t enter the National Football League with as much fanfare. Dallas used a fourth-round selection on Prescott who was simply expected to simply be a backup to starting quarterback Tony Romo. However when Romo suffered a compression fracture in his back during the preseason, the starting quarterback job became Prescott’s to lose.

Dak Prescott

After the Cowboys lost their first game with Prescott as their starting quarterback, Dallas would reel off 11 consecutive wins as they became the team to beat in the NFC. Prescott was not going to overtake Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers or New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in order to be the top signal caller in the National Football League, but he was still effective due to his smarts. Prescott learned very quickly to allow the game to come to him which means not trying to win by himself. Prescott is not a “game manager” but he is someone who knows how to put the football into the hands of the play makers around which has seen him draw comparisons to another former Cowboys quarterback in Troy Aikman.

Prescott has the luxury of not only handing off to Elliot, but he also can pass the football to a talented trio of wide receivers in Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, and Terrance Williams, while you cannot overlook the ageless one at tight end in Jason Witten who even at the age of 35 can still split the seams in a defense with the best of them. Witten continues to be “Steady Eddie” in the Cowboys offense, and by the end of the season he’ll be in the top five of the National Football League’s all-time list for receptions.

The current Cowboys offensive line might not be as good as the unit from the 1990’s which changed the game, but these guys are still very effective. The Dallas offensive line is littered with first-round selections which includes left tackle Tyron Smith. And as long as this unit can continue to effectively open holes for Elliot, pass protection for Prescott will be easier due to opponents being so conscience of the Cowboys running game.

For Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, he must find a way for his unit to wreak more havoc in order to offset the team’s explosive offense. Strong safety Barry Church led Dallas in interceptions last season with only 2, and he is no longer with the club, while no Cowboys defender was able to record at least 10 sacks last year.

Jaylon Smith

Dallas should get a boost in their front seven with middle linebacker Jaylon Smith returning from injury. Smith would have been a first-round pick last year had it not been for him tearing ligaments in both his ACL and LCL during the 2016 Fiesta Bowl. The Cowboys would draft Smith in the second round last year due to his potential when healthy. And after Smith sat out the entire 2016 National Football League season while recovering, he is ready to be an impact player this year.

Dallas’ pass rush has the potential to be solid if everyone is able to get on the same page. There is potential in defensive end Taco Charlton who Dallas selected in the first round this year, but this team needs more depth in regards to pass rushers, and thus it is important for the Cowboys to get both defensive end Randy Gregory as well as defensive end Damontre Moore back as they are both currently suspended by the National Football League.

It will also be important for the Cowboys to create pressure with their front seven as the team’s secondary still has question marks after they were 26th in the National Football League last year in pass defense. And as this unit lacks play makers, the Cowboys could be susceptible to the deep ball.

The Cowboys will continue have one of the better special teams units in the National Football League due to the strong right leg of kicker Dan Bailey. In six years with the Cowboys, Bailey has become one of the most accurate kickers in league history which has also seen him make 24-of-35 attempts from beyond 50 yards. And that powerful and accurate leg of Bailey should help to win a few games for the Cowboys here in 2016.

After the Cowboys had the best record in the NFC last year, they have to be ready to take every opponent’s best punch. However all of the Cowboys losses last year came within the NFC East as it will be very tough for them to repeat as division champs.

Washington Redskins 6-10

Ever since the Washington Redskins won the Super Bowl at the conclusion of the 1991 National Football League season, things have gotten away from this once proud franchise. The Redskins only have six playoff appearances to their credit since then with just three postseason victories. Washington would come out of nowhere to win the NFC East in 2015, but when the expectations rose for them last year, they hung in there until the final week of the regular season when a loss to the New York Giants eliminated them from postseason contention. Now as Redskins head coach Jay Gruden and his team look to bounce back this year, they’ll have their work cut out for them with a team that will be much different from the squad that took the field last season.

Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins has been the Redskins starting quarterback for the last two years, but his relationship with the organization has been contentious at best. After Cousins set a Redskins record by passing for 4,166 yards in 2015, the organization used the franchise tag on him for 2016. And after Cousins and Washington could not come to an agreement on a long-term deal, he went out last season and passed for 4,917 yards.

Cousins and the Redskins would continue to have problems as the team allowed his top two wide receivers in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon to leave in free agency. Cousins was reluctant to sign his franchise tender as he was seeking to be traded to the San Francisco 49ers, but his request would not be obliged. Cousins is still on the Redskins roster, but generally nothing good comes when there is an unhappy camper on the team.

Terrelle Pryor

Cousins’ new go-to-guy in passing will be wide receiver Terrelle Pryor. Pryor initially entered the National Football League as a quarterback, but he was converted to wide receiver. Last year Pryor led the Cleveland Browns in receptions (77), and receiving yards (1,007). At 6’6″, 240 lbs., Pryor is an imposing figure, but it will be important for him to get onto the same page with Cousins early.

Tight end Jordan Reed will also be important to Washington’s passing game. Reed is listed as a tight end, but Gruden tends to use him in the H-back mode as he can do a little bit of everything. However Reed must find a way to stay on the field as he has never appeared in all 16 games during his five-year career in the National Football League.

But as sharp as Cousins can be in the passing game, he can’t do it by himself and the Redskins need their running game to improve in order to provide some balance. Last year Washington was 21st in the National Football League which is not going to cut if they intend to win the NFC East. Running back Robert Kelley should receive the bulk of the carries for the ‘Skins, but keep an eye on rookie running back Semaje Perine who at 5’11, 236 lbs., was a load to bring down during his collegiate career with the Oklahoma Sooners.

It’s been some time since Washington was solid on defense which included them being 28th in total defense last season. The Redskins defense suffered a huge blow when outside linebacker Trent Murphy was lost in the preseason to a torn ACL. As a rookie in 2016, strong safety Su’a Cravens showed the promise of being a difference maker, but now the Redskins are without his services as he is flirting with retiring. Washington still has outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan who has tallied a combined 34 sacks over the last three years, as well as cornerback Josh Norman who is solid in coverage. However not having having more play makers on this side of the football will makes things tougher for Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.

In 2015, Gruden had the Redskins headed in the right direction, but things have gotten away from him rather quickly as another losing campaign appears to be on the horizon.

X-Division Winner

Y-Wild Card

Source: Pro-football-reference.com

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A Ticking Time Bomb

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Doug Pederson

The start of the 2016 National Football League season is nearly four months away, but the Philadelphia Eagles have a storm cloud that is hanging over their organization. This past January, Doug Pederson was named as the new head coach of the Eagles. And being that it is customary for a new head coach to immediately draft a quarterback, Pederson traded up to the second overall pick in last month’s NFL Draft to select quarterback Carson Wentz. But the Eagles already had a high priced quarterback on their roster in Sam Bradford.

Philadelphia had acquired Bradford from the St. Louis Rams last year, but that was when Chip Kelly was the Eagles head coach. However Bradford saw the writing on the wall with Wentz coming to town, and he wants out of dodge which won’t be easy.

Sam Bradford

It isn’t set in stone that Wentz will be the Eagles starting quarterback when Week 1 rolls around, but Bradford is not interested in keeping the seat warm for him as the starting quarterback in Philadelphia. However the Eagles didn’t do themselves any favor when they signed Bradford to a two-year extension that is worth $36 million on March 1. The Eagles gave Bradford the impression that he was their guy at starting quarterback, only to turn around and draft a quarterback seven weeks later which isn’t fair to either him or Wentz. It will be tough for the Eagles to simply release Bradford as he counts for $12.5 million towards their team payroll for the upcoming season, while teams aren’t lining to take on the salary of a player such as him that has had an injury prone career.

After the Rams made Bradford the first overall pick of the 2010 National Football League Draft, he has only had two seasons in which he made all 16 starts while he only has a record of 25-37-1 without any postseason appearances. Bradford originally intended to not show up to the Eagles organized team actvities (OTA’s), but he had a change of heart after conferring with his agent Tom Condon. But this twist in the whole scenario is ironic since Bradford claims that Condon was the person who steered him the direction of seeking a trade from the Eagles as it appears time to simply play the blame game.

Carson Wentz

So now with the deck stacked against Bradford in Philadelphia, the only things left for him to do are to beat out Wentz to become the Eagles starting quarterback, remain healthy, and play good enough to get Philadelphia to the postseason for the first time since 2013. And even if Bradford’s long-term future isn’t in Philadelphia, a solid 2016 on his part could catch the eye of another team around the league. But at this point we just have to sit back and see how this situation will play out. However the writing on the wall doesn’t make for a happy ending in Philadelphia.

Sources: Pro-football-reference.com, Sportrac.com

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2016 NFC East Draft Grades

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Washington Redskins

Grade: B

First Round Pick: Josh Doctson-Wide Receiver-TCU

Best Pick: Round Seven-Keith Marshall-Running Back-Georgia

The Washington Redskins found themselves in an unfamiliar spot during the National Football League Draft as they were picking in the later portion of each round. After winning the NFC East last year, Washington came into the NFL Draft with the 21st overall pick. The Redskins would end up trading back one spot in the first round with the Houston Texans and they still got their guy in Texas Christian University Horned Frogs wide receiver Josh Doctson.

Doctson comes to the Redskins after he was one of the best wide receivers in the Big 12 Conference last year. As a senior at TCU, Doctson tallied 79 receptions for 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns. And at 6’2″, Doctson gives the Redskins some size at the wide receiver position which is an element that their offense has lacked for quite some time.

Su’a Cravens

The second round saw Washington select Southern California Trojans linebacker Su’a Cravens. Cravens went to USC as a safety, but over time he began to play more in the box. At 6’1″, 226 lbs., Cravens is undersized for a linebacker as he could be a classic tweener in the National Football League, and it’ll be interesting to see how he will be used in the D.C.

Virginia Tech Hokies cornerback Kendall Fuller suffered an injury which prevented him from being drafted in the first round of the draft. Fuller fell to the third round where the Redskins selected him, and if healthy, he will give them depth in their secondary due to his tremendous coverage skills.

In the seventh round the Redskins selected Georgia Bulldogs running back Keith Marshall. After a solid freshman campaign, Marshall appeared ready for stardom until a knee injury derailed him which resulted in him being available so late. But if Marshall is healthy, the Redskins may have gotten themselves one of the biggest steals of the draft.

Philadelphia Eagles

Grade: B

First Round Pick: Carson Wentz-Quarterback-North Dakota State

Best Pick: Carson Wentz

The Philadelphia Eagles and new head coach Doug Pederson followed the trend in the National Football League which is for head coaches to draft a quarterback upon taking over a club. The Eagles are hopeful that they have their guy in North Dakota State Bison quarterback Carson Wentz who they selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.

The Eagles entered the National Football League Draft with the with 13th overall pick. The Eagles first moved up to the eighth overall slot when they traded with the Miami Dolphins, before they inched up the ladder some more when they came to an agreement with the Tennessee Titans to obtain the second overall selection.

Carson Wentz

At 6’5″, 237 lbs., Wentz has solid size and he came from an offense in college that won’t have a steep learning curve as far as him getting accustomed to a pro-style offense. And after the Eagles moved up so much to acquire Wentz, this marriage between he and Pederson must work, or they’ll both be out of Philadelphia in a few years.

By giving picks to the Titans, the Eagles didn’t have the opportunity to build on depth in the middle rounds, but they did have three, seventh round picks with one being used on LSU Tigers safety Jalen Mills. Mills will be a special teams contributor at the outset, but it won’t take him that long to get into the Eagles rotation in their secondary.

New York Giants

Grade: B-

First Round Pick: Eli Apple-Cornerback-Ohio State

Best Pick: Round Two-Sterling Shepard-Wide Receiver-Oklahoma

The New York Giants entered the 2016 National Football League Draft expected to beef up a defense that was one of the worst in the league last season. But after the Chicago Bears jumped ahead of them to select Georgia Bulldogs outside linebacker Leonard Floyd in the first round, they set their sights on Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Eli Apple.

In Apple, the Giants added depth in their secondary while his presence should be able to sure up their nickel packages as they already have cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Sterling Shepard

The Giants found themselves an impact player in the second round where they selected Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Shepard is a terrific route runner that Giants quarterback Eli Manning will learn to lean on when it comes time to moving the chains on third down.

In the fifth round the Giants selected UCLA Bruins running back Paul Perkins who will definitely compete for carries, while their sixth round in South Carolina Gamecocks tight end Jerell Adams will be a project as they are hopeful that he can develop into a solid contributor.

Dallas Cowboys

Grade: B-

First Round Pick: Ezekiel Elliot-Running Back-Ohio State

Best Pick: Ezekiel Elliot

Coming into the 2016 National Football League Draft, I expected the Dallas Cowboys to select Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Joey Bosa. But after the San Diego Chargers surprised the football world by selecting Bosa with the third overall pick, the Cowboys decided on his collegiate teammate in running buck Ezekiel Elliot.

Ezekiel Elliot

What Elliot provides Dallas with is a home-run hitter at the tailback position that can be equally explosive in the running in passing games. The Cowboys took a chance in the second round on Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Jaylon Smith who would have been a first-round pick had he not suffered a horrific knee injury during the Fiesta Bowl this past January.

The Cowboys did use a fourth-round selection on Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott. But I don’t see his skill set of being a dual-threat quarterback in college translating to being a solid professional quarterback as Dallas needs to groom a player to be the heir apparent to their current starting quarterback in Tony Romo. And at Mississippi State, Prescott never showed the ability to consistently make passing plays from the pocket.

Dallas did use a sixth-round pick on tight end Rico Gathers who is very interesting being that he spent his entire collegiate career with the Baylor Bears as a basketball player as they are hopeful that his athleticism on the hardwood will transfer to the gridiron.

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2016 NFL Draft 2.0

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Carson Wentz

1. Los Angeles Rams-Carson Wentz-Quarterback-North Dakota State

The future of Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher is riding on this pick.

2. Cleveland Browns-Jared Goff-Quarterback-California

Although that the Cleveland Browns signed quarterback Robert Griffin III, it won’t prevent them from drafting another quarterback.

3. San Diego Chargers-Laremy Tunsil-Offensive Tackle-Ole Miss

Heading into the 2016 National Football League Draft, Laremy Tunsil is looked at as the best prospect available for most people, and the San Diego Chargers will get themselves a player that can anchor their offensive line for years to come.

4. Dallas Cowboys-Joey Bosa-Defensive End-Ohio State

If the Browns pass on Jared Goff, I expect the Dallas Cowboys to select him. But if Goff is gone, expect the Cowboys to beef up their pass rush.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars-Jalen Ramsey-Free Safety-Florida State

For years the Jacksonville Jaguars have been lacking a play maker in their secondary, and they will get one here in Jalen Ramsey.

6. Baltimore Ravens-Ronnie Stanley-Offensive Tackle-Notre Dame

The Baltimore Ravens might be tempted to trade up for Joey Bosa, but they must also protect the blindside of quarterback Joe Flacco who is coming off of knee surgery.

Myles Jack

7. San Francisco 49ers-Myles Jack-Outside Linebacker-UCLA

It wouldn’t be San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly if he didn’t think outside of the box as he would be taking a player here with red flags due to medical issues.

8. Philadelphia Eagles-Paxton Lynch-Quarterback-Memphis

The Philadelphia Eagles could go with running back Ezekiel Elliot here, but new head coach Doug Pederson needs a young quarterback to develop.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Jack Conklin-Offensive Tackle-Michigan State

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are entrusting quarterback Jameis Winston to be their franchise player, and thus they must do everything in their power to put a solid team around him.

Shaq Lawson

10. New York Giants-Shaq Lawson-Defensive End-Clemson

New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese has been busy this off-season in solidifying his defense, and he’ll find himself another quality edge rusher here in Shaq Lawson.

11. Chicago Bears-Taylor Decker-Offensive Tackle-Ohio State

The Chicago Bears are committed to quarterback Jay Cutler who loves to throw the deep ball which means that he needs a solid offensive line in front of him.

12. New Orleans Saints-Vernon Hargreaves III-Cornerback-Florida

The New Orleans Saints could go in several directions with this pick, but they need help in the secondary which was torched last season.

13. Miami Dolphins-Darron Lee-Outside Linebacker-Ohio State

Here the Miami Dolphins will get a player that could be an impact player from his first day with the team.

14. Oakland Raiders-Reggie Ragland-Inside Linebacker-Alabama

In drafting Reggie Ragland, the Oakland Raiders could possess one of the best linebacking cores in the National Football League this season.

Leonard Floyd

15. Tennessee Titans-Leonard Floyd-Outside Linebacker-Georgia

The Tennessee Titans have switched the 3-4 defensive scheme, and they are still searching for a dominant edge rusher.

16. Detroit Lions-Laquon Treadwell-Wide Reciever-Ole Miss

The Detroit Lions needs help on their offensive line, but with the retirement of wide receiver Calvin Johnson, they also need a play maker that can stretch the field.

17. Atlanta Falcons-A’Shawn Robinson-Defensive Tackle-Alabama

The Atlanta Falcons continue to beef up the defensive line here.

18. Indianapolis Colts-Ezekiel Elliot-Running Back-Ohio State

If Ezekiel Elliot falls this far, the Indianapolis Colts would have their best running back since Edgerrin James.

19. Buffalo Bills-Noah Spence-Defensive End-Eastern Kentucky

This pick has Rex Ryan written all over it as Noah Spence is his kind of football player.

20. New York Jets-Eli Apple-Cornerback-Ohio State

The New York Jets could be tempted to take a quarterback here, but they also need help in their secondary.

Mackensie Alexander

21. Washington Redskins-Mackensie Alexander-Cornerback-Clemson

The Washington Redskins could be tempted to select a wide receiver here, but the talent of Mackensie Alexander is too good to pass up on.

22. Houston Texans-DeForest Buckner-Defensive End-Oregon

The defensive line of the Houston Texans is not a weakness, but DeForest Buckner will eat up double teams which will help players such as defensive end J.J. Watt.

23. Minnesota Vikings-Will Fuller-Wide Receiver-Notre Dame

Speed kills in the National Football League, and the speed of wide receiver Will Fuller will test the arm strength of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

24. Cincinnati Bengals-Jason Spriggs-Offensive Tackle-Indiana

In a division that features the quality defenses of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, the Cincinnati Bengals must upgrade their offensive line.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers-William Jackson III-Cornerback-Houston

After recently releasing cornerback Cortez Allen, the Pittsburgh Steelers need to get their hands on another cornerback.

26. Seattle Seahawks-Sheldon Rankins-Defensive Tackle-Clemson

The off-season hasn’t been good to the Seattle Seahawks who have lost quality players in the trenches on both sides of the football. And for Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, it’s time for him to start restocking some athletes.

Jarran Reed

27. Green Bay Packers-Jarran Reed-Defensive Tackle-Alabama

With the sudden retirement of nose tackle B.J. Raji, this is a no-brainer pick here for the Green Bay Packers.

28. Kansas City Chiefs-Corey Coleman-Wide Receiver-Baylor

It was rather obvious that the Kansas City Chiefs lacked speed at the wide receiver position last year, and the addition of Corey Coleman would be a huge upgrade for them.

29. Arizona Cardinals-Vernon Butler-Defensive Tackle-Louisiana Tech

The NFC West might be the most physical division in the National Football League, and the Arizona Cardinals need to keep up by adding another “big ugly”.

30. Carolina Panthers-Germain Ifedi-Offensive Tackle-Texas A&M

The Carolina Panthers could decide to draft another wide receiver here, but they also need to protect quarterback Cam Newton.

Connor Cook

31. Denver Broncos-Connor Cook-Quarterback-Michigan State

The Denver Broncos could be tempted to move up and select a quarterback, or they could wait patiently and select a signal caller without having to part with draft picks.

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Rolling The Dice

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The Los Angeles Rams have been one of the top stories during this off-season in the National Football League. After 21 years of playing in St. Louis, Missouri, Rams owner Stan Kroenke decided to move the franchise back to Los Angeles which had been the team’s home from 1946-1994. And if that wasn’t enough for the Rams, they pulled off a shocker last week when they decided to push all of their chips to the middle of the table for the NFL Draft next week. Originally the Rams owned the 15th overall pick in the NFL Draft, but they decided to make a trade with the Tennessee Titans in order to obtain the first overall pick of the draft. The Rams will receive Tennessee’s first, fourth, and round choices next week, while Los Angeles will be parting with their first-round pick, a pair of selections in the second round, and a third-round pick this year, along with their first and third-round selections for next year which puts immense pressure on the Rams to wins right now.

Jeff Fisher, Les Snead

Rams general manager Les Snead and head coach Jeff Fisher are each entering the final year of their respective contracts, and they are working for an owner in Kroenke who doesn’t have a stellar reputation as far as compensating his executives. And being that the Rams are back in Los Angeles, they will once again be under the microscope as they’ll be playing in the second largest media market in the United States.

The reason why the Rams moved up in the National Football League Draft is due to their desperation to find a franchise quarterback. In four years under Fisher, the Rams have never had a quarterback whom they could refer to as a franchise player. And it is no surprise that over that stretch the Rams have failed to produce a winning record. Overall the Rams have not had a winning record since 2003 while they’ve failed to reach the postseason since 2004 which is the fourth longest active streak in the NFL.

Jared Goff

Now with the first overall pick, the Rams have their sights set on either California Bears quarterback Jared Goff or North Dakota State Bison quarterback Carson Wentz. Goff checks in at 6’4″, while Wentz is 6’5″. Both players have the prototypical size to play quarterback in the National Football League, but is either player worthy of being the first overall pick next week?

Goff played in a pass-happy offensive system of head football coach Sonny Dykes at California which doesn’t translate to the pro-style offense that he’ll need to adjust to in the National Football League. Wentz is heading to the NFL after spending his collegiate career at a Division-II school and you have to wonder if the lack of competition will hinder him as he is ascending to a professional career?

With more than a week to go before the National Football League Draft, the Rams are still unsure as to whether it will be Goff or Wentz whom they’ll pick, but in actuality, Los Angeles could have stuck with the 15th overall selection and gotten a solid quarterback there. However the Rams allowed themselves to be controlled by the elephant in the room which is fear.

The Cleveland Browns own the second overall pick in the draft, and even though that they signed quarterback Robert Griffin III this off-season, it is not out of the realm of possibilities to see them still select a signal caller next week. The Dallas Cowboys own the fourth overall pick and with an aging and injury prone Tony Romo playing quarterback for them, there is a chance that Dallas will pick a quarterback. After making a trade with the Miami Dolphins, the Philadelphia Eagles now own the eighth overall selection. And with the Eagles hiring Doug Pederson as their new head coach, there is a pretty good possibility that they’ll be looking for a signal caller as well.

The Titans came into the process owning the first overall pick which has been historically reserved for selecting a quarterback. But that wasn’t going to be the case for Tennessee as they drafted their cornerstone in quarterback Marcus Mariota last year which meant that they held all of the cards. And it is that fear of the Browns, Cowboys, Eagles, or another team moving up to make a run on the quarterback position which has forced the Rams hand in this draft process.

Snead and Fisher are desperate to keep their respective jobs which also gives them the chance to bask in the Southern California sunshine which means that you can expect the young quarterback that they select to be under center for them in Week 1 of the regular season against the San Francisco 49ers which will only add to the pressure as it could make or break the youngster.

Carson Wentz

But what Goff and Wentz represent are the new National Football League where teams are more desperate than ever for find a quarterback whom they can deem as their franchise guy. This isn’t a situation where the Denver Broncos pulled off the trade of the century to acquire the draft rights to quarterback John Elway from the Baltimore Colts in 1983, or when the New York Giants sold the farm in 2004 to acquire a disgruntled quarterback in Eli Manning from the San Diego Chargers, as to me neither Wentz or Goff represent a franchise-caliber quarterback. What it does represent is the new NFL which is similar to an SAT exam which comes down to choosing the best option available. Since 2010, 16 quarterbacks have been been selected in the first round of the draft. Of those 16 quarterbacks, only eight of them are still with their original team, while two in Tim Tebow and Christian Ponder are out of the league altogether which doesn’t bode well for either Wentz or Goff who don’t have the pedigree of being franchise quarterbacks.

The Rams have rolled the dice in moving up in the National Football League Draft which has opened to door for the Titans, who if they hit this draft process with precision over the next two years could build a solid team around their franchise quarterback in Mariota which could make the decision by Los Angeles to pull the trigger on this move that much more questionable. And without possessing a first round pick in next year’s draft process, the pressure will be on the Rams next Thursday as they look to avoid having their new stint in Southern California begin like their previous one did which was with a whimper.

 

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