NFC East draft grades: Dallas Cowboys gamble on raw talent

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Former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks is performing a division-by-division assessment of the 2015 NFL Draft, spotlighting notable picks and handing out grades for each team. Below is his review of the NFC East. (NOTE: Click on the tabs to see other divisional breakdowns.)

Notable selections

BEST PICK: Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
Philadelphia Eagles, Round 1, No. 20 overall

Chip Kelly's system is designed to quickly get the ball into the hands of electric weapons capable of creating big plays on the perimeter. It's easy to see Agholor as a WR1 in the Eagles' scheme, based on his precise route running, strong hands and dynamic running skills. The 6-foot, 198-pound pass catcher shined at USC as a multi-purpose threat. He should kill it in an Eagles' offense that routinely creates one-on-one opportunities in the open field.

MOST SURPRISING PICK: Landon Collins, S, Alabama
New York Giants, Round 2, No. 33 overall

Surprising, to me, because he was still available at the outset of Day 2. Credit Giants general manager Jerry Reese for shooting up the board to land the top safety in the draft. Collins is the most complete deep-middle player in this class; he exhibits the instincts, awareness, ball skills and physicality to float between the hashes or come up and play in the box. Thus, the Giants landed a young safety with the versatility to fill the void created by Antrel Rolle's departure.

BIGGEST SLEEPER: Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
Dallas Cowboys, Round 2, No. 60 overall

OK, it's kind of weird to call Gregory a "sleeper," considering many saw him as a first-round talent through much of the pre-draft process. Still, I do think the label applies to the 60th overall pick of this draft. The red flags surrounding Gregory's off-field behavior led to an extended slide down the charts, but the 6-5, 235-pound pass rusher might've landed in the best place possible for his on-field development. Despite his freakish athleticism and movement skills, Gregory never quite reached his full potential as a dominant edge rusher at Nebraska due to an inconsistent motor. In Dallas, he will play under a demanding defensive coordinator (Rod Marinelli) with a reputation for helping young defenders find their "A" game under his watch. If Gregory heeds the message and avoids temptation off the field, he could develop into one of the NFL's premier edge rushers.

Team grades

NOTE: Draft hauls are ranked from best to worst within the division.

1) DALLAS COWBOYS: Although many assume Stephen Jones has replaced Jerry Jones as the primary football decision maker in Dallas, the Cowboys are still prone to gamble on intriguing talents. The "high risk, high reward" approach helped the Cowboys land three prospects who carried first-round grades on draft boards around the league. The team took a flier on the ultra-athletic Byron Jones, who created quite a buzz at the combine with his spectacular jumping ability, as a potential CB1. While he is an unfinished product on the island, Jones could slide inside and blossom as a free safety. Randy Gregory is arguably the most natural pass rusher in the 2015 class, but character concerns scared teams off in Round 1. If he plays to his potential and avoids trouble off the field, he could give the Cowboys a premier rusher to build around. And this week, Dallas added another premier prospect in La'el Collins, who went undrafted after he became involved in the murder investigation of a former girlfriend. (That investigation is ongoing and Collins has not been named as a suspect.) The ex-LSU standout adds another dimension to a young, gritty offensive line that overpowers opponents at the point of attack. GRADE: A

2) NEW YORK GIANTS: The Giants aren't flashy on draft day, but the team has put together strong classes in back-to-back years. General manager Jerry Reese added three players with the potential to start from Day 1 while addressing critical needs in multiple areas. Ereck Flowers is a rough and rugged edge blocker adept at moving bodies off the ball. He not only upgrades the physicality at the point of attack, but allows the Giants to reshuffle the offensive line (kicking Justin Pugh to guard). Landon Collins and Owamagbe Odighizuwa could crack the lineup as rookie starters based on their athleticism and skills. Collins, in particular, gives the Giants an athletic safety with the potential to blitz, cover and roam around the box or deep middle. Lastly, Geremy Davis is capable of earning a roster spot solely based on his athleticism and special teams potential. All in all, the Giants significantly upgraded their roster over the weekend. GRADE: A-

3) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Chip Kelly has all of the power in Philadelphia, and he is using it to build a championship-caliber squad full of guys who fit the system and culture of his locker room. Nelson Agholor is a no-nonsense receiver with all of the tools to blossom into an electric WR1. From his precise route-running ability to his explosive running skills, the ex-USC star should shine in an Eagles system that creates plenty of home-run chances on the perimeter. Eric Rowe, JaCorey Shepherd and Randall Evans were brought in to shore up the Eagles' porous pass defense. Rowe should immediately contend for a starting job opposite Byron Maxwell and give Philly a long, rangy bump-and-run corner to challenge the slick receivers in the NFC East. Shepherd and Evans could earn jobs as sub-package defenders while adding speed and playmaking to special teams units. Pay close to attention to Jordan Hicks as a utility player with big-time potential. GRADE: B

4) WASHINGTON REDSKINS: The Redskins' new general manager, Scot McCloughan, wanted to put his stamp on the roster by adding a number of hard-nosed football players with prototypical physical dimensions. He definitely shook up the draft on Day 1 when he elected to take Brandon Scherff with the fifth overall pick instead of grabbing a blue-chip interior defender or edge rusher. Although the ex-Iowa standout shores up a huge hole at right tackle, the Redskins' leaky defense needs a dominant front-line player to enhance Joe Barry's scheme. Preston Smith might fill that role as a big-bodied defensive end/outside linebacker with solid run-stopping and pass-rush skills. His skills should complement Ryan Kerrigan's blue-collar game on the back side. Matt Jones and Jamison Crowder could carve out key roles as spot players early. Crowder, in particular, is a dynamic return man who boasts home-run potential with the ball in his hands. GRADE: B

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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