With the 2015 NFL Draft fast approaching, Bucky Brooks is breaking down the biggest areas of need for every team in the NFL, division by division. Below is his look at the NFC East. (NOTE: Click on tabs to see other divisions; click on team names to see a full list of draft picks.)
Biggest needs: Cornerback, running back, defensive tackle.
The Cowboys emerged as one of the NFL's biggest surprises in 2014 with a plucky defense that overachieved under Rod Marinelli -- the wily coordinator worked wonders with a talent-starved lineup. Of course, Dallas still must upgrade its perimeter defenders to maintain its grip on the NFC East crown. Adding a dynamic cover man like Washington's Marcus Peters or Wake Forest's Kevin Johnson would give Marinelli the versatile corner needed to play man or zone on the island. The team could target a Day 2 candidate like Utah's Eric Rowe or Florida State's P.J. Williams as a value pick. The Cowboys also need a disruptive interior defender; Florida State's Eddie Goldman and Oklahoma's Jordan Phillips would be ideal three-technique defensive tackles in Marinelli's aggressive scheme. Offensively, the Cowboys must replace DeMarco Murray with an explosive runner who can handle a heavy workload. Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon and Georgia's Todd Gurley -- the marquee runners in the draft -- could each muster 1,300-plus rushing yards behind Dallas' vaunted offensive line as the focal point of a run-heavy game plan. (Though there's a chance, of course, that Gurley, who is recovering from a torn ACL, might not be ready in time to contribute for a full season.)
Biggest needs: Defensive tackle, linebacker, safety.
The Giants are at their best when they're built around a formidable front line on both sides of the ball. On defense in particular, Big Blue thrives when able to wear down opponents with a deep and talented line rotation. A rugged defensive tackle like Washington's Danny Shelton would be the monster in the middle the G-men need to control the run at the point of attack. New York could also target Clemson's Stephone Anthony, TCU's Paul Dawson or Miami's Denzel Perryman -- three rock-solid linebackers with the potential to shut the door on the running game while also floating in coverage on passing downs. Additionally, the Giants must address the loss of versatile veteran safety Antrel Rolle in the back end. Arizona State's Damarious Randall could be a perfect fit as a potential safety/nickel corner.
Biggest needs: Cornerback, safety, receiver.
Coach Chip Kelly has certainly dominated the headlines with his spectacular retooling of the Eagles' roster, trading away their most productive offensive player (LeSean McCoy) and allowing their WR1 from last season (Jeremy Maclin) to walk as a free agent. Although Kelly did fortify the running back corps with the additions of DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews, Philly still lacks firepower at wide receiver. Thus, the team will look for a speedy playmaker -- like Miami's Phillip Dorsett, Kansas State's Tyler Lockett or Florida State's Rashad Greene -- who could add a spark to the passing game. On defense, the Eagles must improve a leaky secondary that was repeatedly victimized by big plays on the perimeter. Adding a long, rangy corner like LSU's Jalen Collins, Wake Forest's Kevin Johnson or and Connecticut's Byron Jones could help the unit play more man-to-man on the perimeter. Don't discount the notion that they'll take a long, hard look at a ball-hawking safety like Alabama's Landon Collins or Arizona State's Damarious Randall if the value is right.
Biggest needs: Pass rusher, cornerback, offensive tackle.
Under new general manager Scot McCloughan, the Redskins will focus on identifying big, athletic playmakers on both sides of the ball. The veteran scout will immediately look to shore up an underachieving defense by adding a dynamic pass rusher to the lineup. Nabbing Clemson's Vic Beasley, Nebraska's Randy Gregory, Missouri's Shane Ray or Florida's Dante Fowler Jr. would certainly accomplish that task. The Redskins could also target a rangy cover corner to fortify a secondary that has some intriguing young defensive backs (Bashaud Breeland) in the pipeline. USC's Josh Shaw, Utah's Eric Rowe and Miami of Ohio's Quinten Rollins are ideal Day 2 candidates, based on their size, length and versatility. On offense, Washington needs to find a right tackle prospect capable of holding up against elite rushers on the edge. Pittsburgh's T.J. Clemmings, Miami's Ereck Flowers and Texas A&M's Cedric Ogbuehi should be squarely in the crosshairs as developmental prospects with big-time potential.