As promised, we’ll have draft grades for each of the 32 NFL teams coming this week. First up is the NFC East. Keep these grades in context. Remember, a ‘C’ is not necessarily bad, it’s just average.
Best pick: G Danny Watkins, Baylor (1st round, 23rd pick)
I think some people are declaring this a reach, but it really wasn’t. Watkins is a very talented player and one who fits Philadelphia’s scheme and mentality perfectly. He’s a little older than most draft prospects at 26, but he should be able to step in and play pretty quickly. He played left tackle at Baylor, so pass protection at guard should be a piece of cake.
Questionable move: K Alex Henery, Nebraska (4th round, 23rd pick)
He was the best kicker in this draft, but taking a kicker in the fourth round is just not good value. I think fans fall into the trap of looking at rounds 3-7 as throw away picks, but there was a lot of positional talent still on the board at this point.
Third-day gem: LB Casey Matthews, Oregon (4th round, 19th pick)
Yes, his brother is Clay Matthews. No, he’s probably not going to be that type of player. However, he is a versatile linebacker who should provide very solid depth for a team that has a lot of questions at that level of their defense.
Overall: I liked the first couple rounds, but I wasn’t crazy about their Day 3 (namely rounds 6 and 7). Overall, a solid draft.
New York Giants
Best pick: OT James Brewer, Indiana (4th round, 20th pick)
I was wondering why they didn’t address the offensive line early. Then they picked this guy. I’m not sure he’s a left tackle, but he’s very big and athletic. At the very least, he should be a solid right tackle. Great value in the fourth round.
Questionable move: DT Marvin Austin, North Carolina (2nd round, 20th pick)
He’s very talented, but he’s got big-time character concerns and the Giants have used a ton of top picks on the defensive line in recent years. He was a good value there, but I thought there were other spots on this team (i.e. linebacker) that needed early attention in the draft.
Third-day gem: LB Greg Jones, Michigan State (6th round, 20th pick)
This guy was thought of as a first round talent at one point. Then scouts ripped him apart because of his combine performance. Sometimes, you just have to throw that portion of the scouting process out and focus on the player’s play on the field. Jones is a good all-around linebacker and should fit well into the Giant’s defensive scheme.
Overall: I really liked most of what the Giants did in this draft. They got good value at almost every pick and filled a lot of needs in the process. That’s what the draft is all about: getting value while filling needs.
Best pick: OT Tyron Smith, USC (1st round, 9th pick)
This pick does not come without risk (Smith played right tackle in college, needs to add strength, refine technique), but it has great upside. Smith could potentially be a cornerstone left tackle for the next decade. The Cowboys have needed to get younger on their offensive line for years, and they finally have.
Questionable move: RB DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma (3rd round, 7th pick)
They already have trouble getting everyone carries in their backfield. Now they add another back. Murray makes me nervous as a prospect as backs of his type (tall, thin legs) tend to go down far too easily at the NFL level. Corner was a much bigger need and there were good ones still on the board.
Third-day gem: WR Dwayne Harris, East Carolina (6th round, 11th pick)
He’s not overly big or blazingly fast, but he’s got good size and solid speed. He’s also got good hands and runs good routes. He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t go anything great, but does everything well. At worst, a good slot guy who can move the chains.
Overall: Rounds 2 and 3 left me scratching my head a little, but the rest of the draft was solid. The one red flag was not addressing the secondary until round 5, that unit still needs help.
Best pick: WR Leonard Hankerson, Miami (FL) (3rd round, 15th pick)
I was very surprised the Rams didn’t snatch him up right in front of the Redskins. Hankerson probably isn’t going to be a star, but he fills a need for the Skins as a big receiver with jump-ball ability. His hands have improved and he ran faster than expected at the combine. Should have gone in round 2. Good value.
Questionable move: Multiple trades back
When they traded the #10 overall pick to the Jaguars, I was pretty impressed. When they traded back in the second round, I thought they were trying to get a little too cute. When they traded back again, it screamed incompetence. Trading back to get more picks was a good idea, the Redskins needed them. But after a while, all you’re doing is getting more players with less talent.
Third-day gem: WR Niles Paul, Nebraska (5th round, 24th pick)
He dropped because of some off-field concerns and suspect hands, but he’s got all of the tools and measurables to be a starting receiver in the NFL. He won’t start right away, but he and Hankerson could be a very solid receiver combo in a few years.
Overall: I liked that they traded back, but as I stated above, I think they got a little too caught up in acquiring extra picks. The offensive line didn’t really get much help here, and it needed it.
Next up: AFC East