Evaluating a draft immediately after its over is akin to giving a movie review right after the opening credits. You may know the actors, but you haven’t seen their performance in this plot yet. So grading a teams draft is based mainly off of projection and hypothesis. It probably takes three years to get a true picture of the merit of a particular draft class. Nonetheless, typically some teams appear to do a better job than others on paper, so here are my draft grades for the NFC East.
Dallas Cowboys A-
This grade may seem skewed as most people are giving the Cowboys extra credit for who they didn’t draft, instead of who they did select. With Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel falling into their lap, you just knew Cowboys owner Jerry Jones would have a relapse and make a pick that made no sense. But he showed restraint, and they got a really good football player in offensive guard Zach Martin. The versatility that he adds to an offensive line that is desperate for more athleticism and nastiness is a perfect prescription for the Cowboys ills on offense. They are all in on quarterback Tony Romo, so adding protection to keep him standing upright is a good decision.
They spent 7 out of their next 8 picks addressing their porous defense, including drafting defensive end Demarcus Lawrence. He will be the heir apparent to former Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Ware. He fits the scheme and should start on day one. Overall Dallas finally had plan that was based solely on football, and they stuck to it.
Philadelphia Eagles B+
Although much has been made about the first round selection of outside linebacker Marcus Smith, the fact is it was a solid pick. Wide receiver Jordan Matthews was probably the best pick overall that the Eagles made, as his skill set is an exact match with what head coach Chip Kelly wants from his pass catchers. Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman did a good job moving in the draft to gain value, and it was apparent he was determined to come away with players that filled immediate needs.
New York Giants B
This was an important draft for the Giants as they lost a lot of talent this past off season. The first round selection of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was an excellent pick that will pay immediate dividends. The tandem of Beckham and wide receiver Victor Cruz will be a headache for opposing defenses. Beckham is an exciting player with game changing ability, and he has the potential to be a Pro Bowl caliber performer for years to come.
The Giants spent the rest of the draft shoring up needs, and did a solid job of adding depth and competition to their aging, under performing lines. An interesting pick to watch is 4th round running back Andre Williams, as he may have a chance to have an impact on a backfield that was hampered by injury.
Washington Redskins C+
The Redskins were hampered again by the lack of a 1st round pick derived from the trade for quarterback Robert Griffin III. They seemed primed to make some moves in the draft but ended up taking the best player available. Linebacker Trent Murphy is not a super athlete, but was highly productive in college. He is a worker, that plays with an edge. Injuries decimated the Redskins ability to get after the passer in the past, and Murphy provides protection against that pitfall going forward. He fits their scheme, and though he may never become a star, he should be a constant in their defense in the years ahead.
Offensive tackle Morgan Moses is a mammoth of a man, and if he develops could be a impact player for the Redskins. His ability to pave holes aligns with the type of running game new head coach Jay Gruden implemented in his years with the Cincinnati Bengals. The concern with Moses is his lack of mobility, and poor technique in pass protection. With so much riding on the health of RGIII, it will be interesting to see how much trust they put into the rookie offensive tackle.
All in all, it seems that all four teams improved themselves in the 2014 draft. Now the key is for each staff to take the raw ingredients they were given and attempt to cook up a great meal for the upcoming season. Some chefs are better than others, so some will have to let their picks marinate for awhile before they pay dividends. The NFC East race could be impacted by which rookies get acclimated the fastest.