Why provide instant grades on the selections of prospects who have yet to take an NFL snap? Well, you're reading this, aren't you? Considering the makeup of every roster and the factors surrounding each pick, Gennaro Filice and Dan Parr attempt a division-by-division assessment of the 2019 NFL Draft. Below is Gennaro's review of the NFC East.
Howie Roseman probably shouldn't expect a Christmas card from Brian Gaine -- not after the Philly GM ate his Houston counterpart's first-round lunch. Heading into this draft, two things were abundantly clear about the Texans' outlook: 1) They HAD to upgrade their sieve of an offensive line, and 2) theyhadeyesforAndreDillard. As the starting left tackle over the past three seasons in Mike Leach's Air Raid offense, Dillard certainly didn't lack pass-blocking experience. And the 6-foot-5, 315-pounder proved to be far more athletic and nimble-footed than a 6-foot-5, 315-pounder should be. His dominance was clear to the naked eye (Brian Baldinger narrates a minute of O-line porn here) and the nerd mind (Dillard allowed one sack on 722 pass-blocking snaps last season, according to Pro Football Focus, making him the site's highest-graded offensive lineman in pass pro). So, perfect blind-side protector for young franchise QB Deshaun Watson, right? And when Dillard surprisingly remained available into the 20s on draft night, it seemed as though the Texans might just get the plug-and-play LT they sorely needed with the 23rd overall pick. Then Roseman's Eagles leapfrogged Houston -- vaulting from No. 25 to No. 22 by giving the Ravens a pair of Day 3 picks -- to pounce on Wazzu's smooth-operating edge eraser. Left in a lurch, Gaine grasped for OT Tytus Howard, a much less proven prospect out of Alabama State. Meanwhile, the Eagles are now in an enviable position at left tackle. With nine-time Pro Bowler Jason Peterspotentially heading toward his last NFL season at age 37, Philly suddenly has a highly regarded heir apparent in place. So, while Gaine's Texans would've immediately slotted Dillard into the starting lineup out of necessity, Roseman's Eagles can ease the newbie into the league with spot duty before having him fill a Jason Peters-sized hole in 2020. This will allow Philly O-line coach Jeff Stoutland to put a professional polish on some undeveloped power components in Dillard's game. And this is the kind of aggressive, long-game move that you can make when your roster is as well-rounded as Roseman's. The rich get richer, while Gaine feels the pain.
Former NFL scouts/current NFL.com draftniks Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks both had Jones as the fourth-bestquarterback in this class. Draft godfather Gil Brandt was higher on the Duke signal-caller, but still ranked him as the No. 17 overall prospect. Funny, because the Giants owned the No. 17 overall pick. But New York GM Dave Gettleman didn't take Jones at 17 -- no, he surprisingly pulled the trigger with Big Blue's initial first-round pick, No. 6, despite the fact that the Giants are starved for edge pressure and top-tier DE Josh Allen was still on the board. Now, Gettleman says he knows "for a fact" that there were two teams that would've taken Jones before the 17th pick. NFL Network's Mike Garafolo isn't so sure about that fact pattern. Regardless, what's done is done, and Jones is now in line to be Eli Manning's successor. What kind of skill set does he possess? Well, his college mark of 6.4 yards per attempt certainly leaves something to be desired, but Jones' defenders will tell you that he was held back by an inferior supporting cast at Duke. He's a solid athlete for the position and earns praise for his football IQ. NFL comp for Giants fans to latch onto? I don't know -- just don't say Dave Brown.
Thought about putting Bryce Love in this space. The fourth-round pick showcased rare explosiveness before tearing his ACL last December and could eventually serve as the perfect complement to bruising Redskins RB Derrius Guice. But can a former Heisman runner-up be deemed a sleeper? Not in this file! An undersized cornerback from the FCS, on the other hand? Yeah, that'll do. Moreland's slight stature might force him to move inside at the NFL level, but who cares: Nickel corner is essentially a starting position in 2019. Moreland turned heads at the East-West Shrine Game, earning a late invitation to the Senior Bowl, where he more than held his own. (Deebo Samuel, who ended up going early in the second round, said Moreland was the best cornerback he faced in Mobile.) The JMU product has a nose for the football and a mouth for the pros. Asked how he ended up with 18 interceptions (including five pick-sixes) during his college career, Moreland didn't stutter: "I'm a dog." Indeed. Roll that beautiful ballhawking footage!
NOTE: Draft classes are ranked from best to worst within the division.
» Round 1: (No. 22 overall) Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State.
» Round 2: (No. 53) Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State; (No. 57) J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford.
» Round 4: (No. 138) Shareef Miller, DE, Penn State.
» Round 5: (167) Clayton Thorson, QB, Northwestern.
What do you get for the roster that has everything? High-level depth, with an eye toward the near future. As mentioned above, Dillard projects as an ideal 2020 replacement for 37-year-old Jason Peters, who signed a one-year deal in March and could very well start his Canton countdown clock by retiring after the coming season. Not only that, but Dillard is a spectacular insurance policy for 2019 if Peters' body really starts to break down -- and he'll likely get some spot duty, as Peters failed to finish a number of games last season. Sanders might've struck some as an unnecessary addition to a crowded backfield -- at least, at first blush -- but Jordan Howard and Wendell Smallwood are ticketed for unrestricted free agency in 2020, while Corey Clement's in line to become a restricted FA. Not to mention, Doug Pederson clearly favors a fully loaded committee backfield. Sanders is a versatile RB without much wear, as he spent his first two seasons at Penn State backing up Saquon Barkley and only logged 276 total college carries. This is the kind of pick that drives fantasy owners crazy, but the myriad options in Philly's backfield will be a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators, too. Arcega-Whiteside is a contested-catch wizard who'll produce immediately over the middle of the field and in the red zone. He also injects youth into a position group that's led by 29-year-old Alshon Jeffery and 32-year-old DeSean Jackson, with Nelson Agholor in the last year of his rookie contract and rumored to be on the trade block. Roseman made the fewest selections in the division (5), but Philly certainly got a lot of bang for the buck.
» Round 1: (No. 15 overall) Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State; (No. 26) Montez Sweat, OLB, Mississippi State.
» Round 3: (No. 76) Terry McLaurin, WR, Ohio State.
» Round 4: (No. 112) Bryce Love, RB, Stanford; (No. 131) Wes Martin, OG, Indiana.
» Round 5: (No. 153) Ross Pierschbacher, OG, Alabama; (No. 173) Cole Holcomb, LB, North Carolina.
» Round 6: (No. 206) Kelvin Harmon, WR, N.C. State.
» Round 7: (No. 227) Jimmy Moreland, CB, James Madison; (No. 253) Jordan Brailford, OLB, Oklahoma State.
In the days leading up to the draft, there were reports of a division within the Redskins' war room, with owner Dan Snyder/president Bruce Allen holding prospect viewpoints that conflicted with many on the coaching/scouting staffs, particularly when it came to the potential QB targets at No. 15. Garafolo reported last Wednesday that Snyder was so hot on Haskins that Washington could trade into the top five to secure the local prospect, who also just happened to go to school with Snyder's son. Honestly, it felt like one of the NFL's most capricious organizations was potentially headed for a draft-day debacle. But the 'Skins exhibited unexpected patience and just let Haskins come to them. Then Washington did make a move, vaulting up from No. 46 to No. 26 to land Sweat. Although the Redskins had to give up their 2020 second-rounder in order to make the 20-slot leap, it felt like a savvy decision. A few weeks ago, no one expected Sweat, the No. 5 overall player on Gil Brandt's Hot 150, to be available in the 20s. But then news of a heart condition surfaced and Sweat's stock came into question. Well, on draft day, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Sweat might have been misdiagnosed. By the end of Round 1, the Redskins had nabbed a pair of top-tier talents without using a top-10 pick or mortgaging the future to an absurd degree. As the draft continued to play out over the weekend, Washington added a number of enticing pieces, including burner receiver/special teams extraordinaire Terry McLaurin, home-run-hitting RB Bryce Love, contested-catch specialist Kelvin Harmon and ball-magnet DB Jimmy Moreland. Magnificent work, Redskins -- whoever was calling your shots.
» Round 2: (No. 58 overall) Trysten Hill, DT, Central Florida.
» Round 3: (90) Connor McGovern, OG, Penn State.
» Round 4: (128) Tony Pollard, RB, Memphis.
» Round 5: (158) Michael Jackson, CB, Miami; (No. 165) Joe Jackson, DE, Miami.
» Round 6: (213) Donovan Wilson, S, Texas A&M.
» Round 7: (218) Mike Weber, RB, Ohio State; (No. 241) Jalen Jelks, DE, Oregon.
The Cowboys were widely ridiculed last October when, sitting at 3-4, they sent their first-round pick to Oakland in exchange for Amari Cooper. It was a move that smacked of senseless desperation. Or so we thought. Then Dallas went 7-2 down the stretch to nab their third division title in the past five years. Cooper undoubtedly gave the Dallas offense some much-needed juice at receiver, and the Cowboys certainly don't regret flipping a 1 for Cooper's services, though it made them the only team in the division absent from last Thursday night's proceedings. Maybe Dallas' usage of that first-round pick -- and the public whiplash that it spawned -- is instructive when it comes to the assessment of the team's second-round pick. Like Cooper's tenure in Oakland, Trysten Hill's career at Central Florida started out quite promising ... before mysteriously descending. Hill started his first 26 games on campus, earning second-team All-AAC honors after his sophomore year. But after Scott Frost left for Nebraska, Hill fell out of favor with the new Josh Heupel-led coaching staff, starting just one game this past season while logging ample time in the doghouse. After barely playing in UCF's Fiesta Bowl loss to LSU, Hill expressed his displeasure and -- just hours later -- declared for the NFL draft. When Dallas tapped at him 58th overall to help replace the departed David Irving, many Twitter draftniks screamed "REACH!" But is this the Cooper situation all over again, where a healthy dose of critics will be forced to consume a hefty portion of crow? The 'Boys say they did their homework on Hill, and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli appears smitten with the 6-foot-3, 308-pound disruptor. Getcha popcorn ready!*
*Yep, T.O. dusted off his decade-old catchphrase while announcing a pick over the weekend, so this hack writer will lazily follow suit.
» Round 1: (No. 6 overall) Daniel Jones, QB, Duke; (No. 17) Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson; (No. 30) Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia.
» Round 3: (95) Oshane Ximines, OLB, Old Dominion.
» Round 4: (108) Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame.
» Round 5: (143) Ryan Connelly, LB, Wisconsin; (No. 171) Darius Slayton, WR, Auburn.
» Round 6: (180) Corey Ballentine, CB, Washburn.
» Round 7: (232) George Asafo-Adjei, OT, Kentucky; (No. 245) Chris Slayton, DT, Syracuse.
For the Daniel Jones pick pile-on, see the "Most Surprising Pick" section above. Succinct takeage: The Giants should've waited until No. 17 (at least) to scoop him up. Speaking of No. 17, the Giants' decision there was another head-scratcher. Yes, I know Lawrence is the hog molliest of the hog mollies, checking in at 6-4 and a whopping 342 pounds, so Gettleman's attraction is predictable. But run-stuffing DTs with minimal pass-rushing production (10 sacks in three years at Clemson, including just 3.5 over the past two seasons) aren't valued like they used to be. And even if you acknowledge Lawrence's potential growth in this area, given his freakish athleticism for a man of his size, his placement on this roster appears somewhat redundant. Over the previous two drafts, New York spent top-70 picks on DTs Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill, and both players have provided positive returns. Could all three start in James Bettcher's 3-4 defense? Maybe. But where will the unit turn for edge pressure? The Giants waited until late in the third round to address that pressing need, taking a slight-framed, small-school star in Ximines. One need area Big Blue hit hard: cornerback. The Giants traded back into the first round to make Baker the first CB off the board. The Georgia product acquitted himself quite well over four years in the SEC, but the pre-draft pageant didn't go nearly as swimmingly. Immediately following the pick, Jeremiah echoed the sentiments that have dogged Baker over the past few months: "This is somebody, on tape and the film, (who) was clearly the best corner in this year's draft class. Did not have a great process going through the spring, in terms of some of the workouts, the combine and (I) heard from folks that met with him, it didn't go as well as you'd hope, but the ability is outstanding." Giants fans who are still shook from the Eli Apple experience could use a hug right about now. That said, Love might end up being a steal in Round 4 -- the 12th cornerback off the board was a finalist for the 2018 Jim Thorpe Award, given to college football's top defensive back (which, by the way, went to Baker). So that's a positive note! But this class' grade is a reflection of the uncertainty surrounding Gettleman's big-picture planning, which is hazy at best, crazy at worst.