First-Round Pick: Taco Charlton-Defensive End-Michigan
Best Pick: Taco Charlton
The 2016 National Football League season saw the Dallas Cowboys go 13-3 en route to winning the NFC East Championship. However the Cowboys have still been unable to advance past the second round of the playoffs since winning the Super Bowl at the conclusion of the 1995 season. Last year showed that the Cowboys have the offensive firepower to win the Super Bowl, but their defense lags behind.
Focusing of fixing their defense was the plan of attack for the Cowboys heading into the 2017 National Football League Draft and they made sure to stick to their guns. The first round saw the Cowboys select Michigan Wolverines defensive end Taco Charlton. In four years at Michigan, Charlton continued to improve as an edge rusher, and although that he might not be the next DeMarcus Ware, he is definitely a breath of fresh air for a Dallas team that needs to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
The Cowboys were 26th in the National Football League in pass defense last season, and after drafting Charlton, four of their next five picks in the draft would see them focus on the secondary which was highlighted by them selecting Colorado Buffaloes cornerback Chidobe Awuzie in the second round.
This draft class might not produce immediate impact players for the Cowboys, but it is definitely a step in the right direction for them on the defensive side of the football.
New York Giants
First-Round Pick: Evan Engram-Tight End-Ole Miss
Best Pick: Evan Engram
In spite of the fact that the New York Giants were a playoff team last year, they still entered the 2017 National Football League Draft needing to address several holes on both sides of the ball. The Giants have spent this off-season attempting to give quarterback Eli Manning bigger targets to get the football to in the red zone. And in the first round of the draft, New York selected Ole Miss Rebels tight end Evan Engram.
At 6’3″, 234 lbs., Engram could be viewed as a big wide receiver or a small tight end. But what Engram gives the Giants is a presence. The past few years have seen the Giants rely on smaller wide receivers such as Odell Beckham Jr. But as good as Beckham is, he is not going to win that many jump ball situations in the red zone which is where Engram comes into play. With defenses focused on Beckham, Engram can work the seams, while also keeping linebackers honest as he should help to improve Manning’s efficiency.
After losing defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins in free agency to the Indianapolis Colts, I expected New York to find his replacement early on in the draft. The Giants used a second-round choice on Alabama Crimson Tide defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson who could be another project on New York’s defensive line. Tomlinson was surrounded by nothing but talent at Alabama, and he is now joining one of the top defenses in the National Football League.
There is a possibility that the Giants may have found Manning’s heir apparent in the third round of the draft when they selected California Golden Bears quarterback Davis Webb. Webb played in two prolific offenses during his collegiate days which saw him start off with the Texas Tech Red Raiders before he transferred to Berkley. Now Webb must convert from the air-raid offense to a more conventional pro-style, and who better for him to learn from than a two-time Super Bowl MVP.
The main problem for the Giants is that they had too many holes, without having multiple picks in the early rounds to fill all of those needs. The Giants still have issues on the offensive line and at linebacker as it is going to be paramount for them to develop players such as their sixth-round in guard Adam Bisnowaty in order to keep up with the top teams in the NFC.
First-Round Pick: Jonathan Allen-Defensive Tackle-Alabama
Best Pick: Round Four-Samaje Perine-Running Back-Oklahoma
The Washington Redskins entered the 2017 National Football League Draft with some glaring needs on the offensive side of the ball and they did not address those issues. This off-season has seen the Redskins allow their top two wide receivers from last season in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon to each leave in free agency. This didn’t make quarterback Kirk Cousins a happy camper as he already wasn’t thrilled about the fact that Washington slapped the franchise tag on him for the second consecutive year.
There was a run on wide receivers early in the draft which saw all of the pass catchers who had first round grades attached to them come off of the board by the time that the Redskins would make their selection. Instead of trading up get a wide receiver, the ‘Skins selected Alabama Crimson Tide defensive end Jonathan Allen.
The Redskins did have issues on defense last year as well as they were 28th in the National Football League in total defense and the drafting of Allen gives them a versatile body on their defensive line. Washington was able to keep the defensive theme going in the second round when they selected Allen’s Alabama teammate in outside linebacker Ryan Anderson which was followed by taking UCLA Bruins cornerback Fabian Moreau in the third round.
Washington would find themselves a road grader in the fourth round when they selected Oklahoma Sooners running back Semaje Perine. At 5’11”, 233 lbs., Perine is very difficult to tackle due to his thick lower body as he has tree trunks for legs. Perine’s 4,122 rushing yards at Oklahoma are the most in the history of the program which says a ton with the likes of Billy Sims and Adrian Peterson having played there. And now Perine could become very valuable in the Washington’s backfield.
The Redskins didn’t select a wide receiver until the sixth round when they picked Georgia State Panthers wide receiver Robert Davis who will probably be a special teams player initially. And this inability for the Redskins to address their issues at the wide receiver position could hinder their chances of making the postseason here in 2017.
First-Round Pick: Derek Barnett-Defensive End-Florida State
Best Pick: Derek Barnett
The Philadelphia Eagles finished in last place of the NFC East in 2016, but this is a team that isn’t too far off from being a playoff contender. The Eagles went 7-9 which included posting victories over the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys who were each playoff teams. The Eagles have already had a strong off-season as they signed wide Alshon Jeffery, along with defensive end Chris Long who helped the New England Patriots will the Super Bowl last year. And a strong showing by Philadelphia at the National Football League Draft could be the icing on the cake for what has been a productive off-season for them.
The Eagles needed to continue to process of beefing up their pass rush which they did in the first round of the draft by selecting Tennessee Volunteers defensive end Derek Barnett. In three years at Tennessee, Barnett amassed 33 sacks and in the process he broke the school record of former Eagles defensive end Reggie White. Barnett can be as good as advertised and playing alongside the likes of Long and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox in Philadelphia could make him a logical candidate to be National Football League’s Defensive Rookie of the Year.
The Eagles would then turn their focus to the secondary as their next two selections would be used on Washington Huskies cornerback Sindey Jones and West Virginia Mountaineers cornerback Rasul Douglas. In the fourth round Philadelphia would select San Diego State Aztecs running back Donnel Pumphrey who enters the National Football League as the Football Bowl Subdivision’s all-time leading rusher with 6,290 yards. Pumphrey is in the mold of current Eagles running back Darren Sproles as he is a short and shifty back coming out of the backfield who can be dangerous in space.
The rich get richer and this draft class could springboard the Eagles to their first postseason appearance since 2013.