*With the NFL draft in the rearview mirror, Around the NFL will project starting lineups with tasty position battle nuggets for all 32 teams. The NFC East is up first. *
We project Tyrone Crawford to move outside to defensive end. He's played there before and the team's depth at defensive tackle is a little better with third-round pick Maliek Collins and free-agent addition Cedric Thornton from the Eagles. Coach Jason Garrett has also talked up Terrell McClain as a candidate for big snaps at nose tackle.
» The team's pass rush is going to be a problem early in the year (and all season if Lawrence and Gregory don't stay healthy). We put fifth-year pro Jack Crawford in a temporary starting spot for now, but the Cowboys will be rotating a lot of players through the spot. Fourth-round pick Charles Tapper will get snaps. The team could use a three-man line more often, and we'd be surprised if they don't add a veteran free agent or two.
TE1: Zack Ertz
» Connor Barwin was on the NFL Network "Top 100 players" list a year ago and will be a huge part of a rotation with Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham at defensive end. We gave Curry the nod as a starter because of the massive new contract he received after Jim Schwartz was hired to change the Eagles into a 4-3 defense. Barwin is changing positions, but the starter tag should be meaningless because Schwartz has so many options to mix and match. Curry can also move inside on passing downs.
» Wide receiver is far less exciting. Nelson Agholor's only competition after a disappointing rookie year comes from Rueben Randle and Josh Huff. Agholar is one Chip Kelly pickup the Eagles have no choice but to stick with. To put it another way: The Eagles figure to use two tight end sets plenty to keep their best players on the field.
New York Giants
WR3 Sterling Shephard
» We considered not including Victor Cruz. After two lost seasons, fellow Around The NFL writer Chris Wesseling refuses to acknowledge Cruz's existence as a corporeal entity. But the Giants guaranteed Cruz $2.4 million in order to facilitate a pay cut. He is a fairly safe bet to make the team even if he doesn't look like the same player. Then again, there's always a chance Cruz just can't stay on the field and the Giants swallow the money.
» Third-round pick Darian Thompson has a great chance to start as a rookie because the Giants are so thin at safety. The Giants want to move Landon Collins into more of a "box safety" role, although that was Thompson's profile coming out of school, too. This position could still be a mess, although the team has three young players -- Nat Berhe, Bennett Jackson and Mykkele Thompson -- who missed all of last season.
» We put three cornerbacks as starters in part because linebacker is a mess. Free-agent pickup Keenan Robinson is the best guess to start in the middle, although Jasper Brinkley and Kelvin Sheppard are options. This has been a trouble spot seemingly since Antonio Pierce retired. Devon Kennard is the only other promising linebacker on the roster and he's struggled to stay healthy.
» It was a surprise the Giants didn't address the right side of their offensive line in the draft. More veterans could be on the way.
» Josh Doctson is one of our favorite offensive players in the draft, yet we couldn't find a spot for him with the starters in Washington. Doctson is best suited on the outside, and Jamison Crowder was a revelation in the slot last year. Perhaps Doctson will perform so well in camp the Redskins will look to trade Pierre Garcon or DeSean Jackson. Both starters are in the last year of their contracts and the Redskins will find snaps for Doctson.
» There's a lot going on with the Redskins' defense, which feels like a boom-or-bust group. Perhaps seven starting jobs are up for grabs, including two on the defensive line.
» We decided to put second-round pick Su'a Cravens in the starting lineup because he's more talented than holdover Duke Ihenacho or free-agent pickup David Bruton. Cravens, who expects to play linebacker in Washington's dime packages, is listed as a safety by the Redskins. The Redskins will want to get his flexibility on the field.
General manager Scot McCloughan loves building teams from the inside out, so it's a little surprising how underwhelming this defensive line is. At least the Redskins have a lot of numbers, if not high-level starters.