NFC East draft grades: Eagles round out offseason with defense

Former NFL player/scout Bucky Brooks and Around The NFL's Conor Orr are performing a division-by-division assessment of the 2017 NFL Draft, spotlighting notable picks and handing out grades for each team. Below is Bucky's review of the NFC East.


BEST PICK: Evan Engram, TE, Mississippi
New York Giants, Round 1, No. 23 overall

The New York Giants haven't invested heavily in a tight end since drafting Jeremy Shockey with the 14th overall pick of the 2002 draft, but the team thought enough of Engram's skills to pluck him with the 23rd pick. The Ole Miss standout is an ideal fit in New York's quick-rhythm passing game, which places a premium on quick routes and catch-and-run concepts designed to get the ball into the hands of playmakers on the perimeter. With a stellar receiving corps (Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard) flanking him, Engram should produce immediately in Big Blue's high-powered offense.

MOST SURPRISING PICK: Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
Washington Redskins, Round 1, No. 17 overall

It's not a surprise Washington took Allen -- it's a surprise he was available for the taking. After being pegged as a top-10 pick for most of the pre-draft process, Allen unexpectedly fell to the middle of the first round due to medical concerns and a flurry of trades for the top quarterbacks in the 2017 class. With the Redskins in desperate need of a complementary shop wrecker to team with Ryan Kerrigan along the defensive front, the team wisely snapped up the Alabama star with 28.5 career sacks on his college résumé. As a natural 5-technique with a game built on brute strength and power, Allen might be the three-down monster Washington needs to overtake the Cowboys in the NFC East. If he can overcome the injury concerns that clouded his draft status, Allen will make the teams that bypassed him regret their decisions down the road.

BIGGEST SLEEPER: Ryan Switzer, WR/PR, North Carolina
Dallas Cowboys, Round 4, No. 133 overall

Did Dallas just take Cole Beasley 2.0? Switzer is a dynamic playmaker with exceptional stop-start quickness and burst. He is slippery with the ball in his hands, particularly on punt returns, where he nearly equaled the NCAA's all-time punt-return touchdown record. Switzer should step in as a WR4/PR and make early contributions as a two-phase playmaker.


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

1) Philadelphia Eagles

» Round 1: (No. 14 overall) Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee.
» Round 2: (43) Sidney Jones, CB, Washington.
» Round 3: (99) Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia.
» Round 4: (118) Mack Hollins, WR, North Carolina; (132) Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State.
» Round 5: (166) Shelton Gibson, WR, West Virginia; (184) Nate Gerry, S, Nebraska.
» Round 6: (214) Elijah Qualls, DT, Washington.

After devoting their free-agent resources to offense, the Eagles committed their draft capital to defense. Barnett gives the Eagles one of the best pass rushers in the draft. He is a "Call of Duty" player -- that is to say, he has exceptional hand-to-hand combat skills -- with the potential to be a double-digit sack producer as a rookie. Jones isn't expected to make a major contribution as a rookie, due to his lengthy recovery from a torn Achilles tendon suffered at his pro day in March. If he fully recovers, he gives the Eagles a Pro Bowl-caliber corner on the island. Hollins is a slick vertical pass catcher with A-plus skills as a special teams demon. He could blossom into an impact player in that underrated phase of the game. GRADE: A-

2) Washington Redskins

» Round 1: (No. 17 overall) Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama.
» Round 2: (49) Ryan Anderson, OLB, Alabama.
» Round 3: (81) Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA.
» Round 4: (114) Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma; (123) Montae Nicholson, S, Michigan State.
» Round 5: (154) Jeremy Sprinkle, TE, Arkansas.
» Round 6: (199) Chase Roullier, C, Wyoming; (209) Robert Davis, WR, Georgia State.
» Round 7: (230) Josh Harvey-Clemons, S, Louisville; (235) Joshua Holsey, DB, Auburn.

The Redskins scooped up a number of solid players by simply allowing the draft board to come to them. Allen was viewed as a top-five talent early in the pre-draft process, but dropped down boards due to possible concerns about his medical history. If he can move beyond his injury woes, Allen could serve as a nice complement to Ryan Kerrigan as a 5-technique pass rusher. Anderson is a backyard brawler with a rugged game on the edges. He isn't a high-level pass rusher, but his non-stop motor will lead to a number of garbage-time sacks. Perine could take the RB1 job after coaches catch a glimpse of his hard-nosed running style in camp. GRADE: B+

T-3) Dallas Cowboys

» Round 1: (No. 28 overall) Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan.
» Round 2: (60) Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado.
» Round 3: (92) Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan.
» Round 4: (133) Ryan Switzer, WR, North Carolina.
» Round 6: (191) Xavier Woods, S, Louisiana Tech; (216) Marquez White, CB, Florida State.
» Round 7: (228) Joey Ivie, DT, Florida; (239) Noah Brown, WR, Ohio State; (246) Jordan Carrell, DT, Colorado.

The Cowboys entered the draft intent on upgrading their defense with a handful of blue-chip prospects possessing outstanding skills. Charlton is a classic "flasher" with the size, length and athleticism to excel. He needs to play with more energy, but the former Michigan standout gives the Cowboys a legitimate rusher off the edge. Awuzie is a blue-collar cover corner with outstanding instincts, awareness, ball skills and versatility. He should be capable of performing on the outside or in the slot in the Cowboys' Tampa 2 scheme. Lewis is the best nickel corner in the draft, but he must resolve his legal situation. Switzer is a dynamic returner with the receiving skills to also thrive as a slot pass catcher. GRADE: B

T-3) New York Giants

» Round 1: (No. 23 overall) Evan Engram, TE, Mississippi.
» Round 2: (55) Dalvin Tomlinson, DT, Alabama.
» Round 3: (87) Davis Webb, QB, Cal.
» Round 4: (140) Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson.
» Round 5: (167) Avery Moss, DE, Youngstown State.
» Round 6: (200) Adam Bisnowaty, OT, Pittsburgh.

The Giants added some more firepower to an offense that is brimming with talent on the perimeter, particularly at the pass-catcher spots. Engram is a Jordan Reed-like playmaker capable of playing "Y" or "H" in their scheme. He is the most polished route runner among the tight ends of the 2017 draft class. Webb is a quick-rhythm passer ideally suited for playing in the Giants' small-ball scheme. Tomlinson is a space-eater with outstanding strength, power and hand skills. He plays with leverage and fills a void as a rock-solid run stopper. GRADE: B

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.