John Fennelly, Lead WriterOnce upon time in Irving, Texas, on the hard carpets of the Meadowlands and Veteran’s Stadium and the soddy surface of RFK there was a style of football played known as Smashmouth. It was a hard-hitting brand that turned many of the contests into games of attrition. There were a lot fewer conquerors than there were survivors.
Those days are gone, along with most of the principles and practices of the game from the 1980s. The Cowboys, Eagles, Giants and Redskins are still here, however. Each year, the four franchises take turns winning the division title and the competition has been getting more and more heated with season.
The NFL Draft is no different. Even though the Cowboys and Redskins made a draft day trade, the teams are keeping a keen eye on one another. So, who made out well and who didn’t last weekend?
Needs: Safety, Offensive Line, Defensive Line
Picks: Zack Martin, OT/G, Notre Dame, Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State, Anthony Hitchens, OLB, Iowa, Devin Street, WR, Pittsburgh, Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford, Will Smith, MLB, Texas Tech, Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor, Ken Bishop, DT, Northern Illinois, Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon
Anaylsis: Martin falling to them was huge. He can play anywhere and Dallas needs both quality and depth along the O-Line. They nabbed Lawrence with the pick they received from Washington. You can just envision the ironic moments down the road with this. Street is a big possession receiver with red zone qualities. The rest of the draft was dedicated to collecting defensive players and that is what this draft was all about – fixing their history-making inefficient defense. Jerry Jones chose to be more pragmatic than usual. He stayed the course and chose players that may not make his team sexy, but will certainly make it better.
Best pick: Lawrence. He’s got big shoes to fill in DeMarcus Ware, but has a high ceiling and just may turn out to be one of the game’s best pass rushers someday.
New York Giants
Needs: Offensive and Defensive Line, Tight End, Wide Receiver
Picks: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU, Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State, Jay Bromley, DT, Syracuse, Andre Wiliams, RB, Boston College, Nat Berhe, S, San Diego State, Devon Kennard, OLB, Southern California, Bennett Jackson, CB, Notre Dame
Analysis; Methodical restocking of the roster at all need positions with the exception of tight end. Beckham will come in and take Hakeem Nicks’ role, spreading the field back out to allow Victor Cruz to do his thing and take the onus off Rueben Randle so he can develop. The Giants had not selected a natural center this high in the draft since 1989 when they made Brian Williams their top pick. Bromley could have been had later in the draft, while nabbing Williams in the fourth may turn out to be a coup. Any writer that tells you they know much about the Giants final three picks is lying to you, but I’m hearing good things about Kennard.
Best pick: Richburg. The Giants have brought in many solid centers over the years, but Richburg is one they will be calling their own. He is a top talent that fits the profile in the Giants’ new offense and will be a leader on that line for years to come.
Needs: Wide Receiver, Defensive Backs, Linebackers
Picks: Marcus Smith, DE/OLB, Louisville, Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt, Josh Huff, WR, Oregon, Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida, Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon, Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford, Beau Allen, DT, Wisconsin
Analysis: They made some trades that possibly took them out of the running for some top talent in the first round. They chose Smith in Round One, which appears to be a bit of reach. Smith had been projected to be a late second rounder at best. With DeSean Jackson gone, the Eagles did well in picking up Matthews and Huff in Rounds 2 and 3. The selections of Watkins and Round 4 and Hart in Round 5 further helped to right the ship. Not the usual haul, however. Overall, more could have been done.
Best pick: Matthews. He is used to being targeted in the offense, getting the football frequently and has a track record of solid production. He’s determined to duplicate that on the pro level and Chip Kelly’s offense will afford him the opportunities to do just that.
Needs: Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Cornerback, Linebacker
Picks: Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford, Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia, Spencer Long, G, Nebraska, Bashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson, Ryan Grant, WR, Tulane, Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor, Ted Bolser, TE, Indiana, Zach Hocker, K, Arkansas
Analysis: Murphy was taken too high and does not project as a DE nor a pass rushing OLB at this level but he’s always produced. Sort of an intangibles guy. Could work out, who knows? Moses should have been gone in Round 2, so the Redskins end up with equitable value for the two picks. They took Long with the pick they got from Dallas. He will help up front. Breeland and Seastrunk are both nice mid and late round pickups.
Best pick: Breeland. He is coming out early and probably could have used another year at Clemson to develop. Had he stayed, many pundits saw him as a first rounder in 2015.