NFC East

This is the continuation of our eight part series, taking an in-depth look at each division and the teams within headed into the NFL Draft on Thursday. You can view our analysis of all the AFC teams here.

As always, feel free to let us know what you think in the comment thread.

Dallas Cowboys (11-5)

Analysis: Even thought their season ended with a thud against the Vikings in the second round of the playoffs, the Cowboys had to be pleased with what they saw during the late stages of the year. Prior to last December, Dallas had not posted a winning record in that month of the season since 2001, so seeing his team win their last three games had to make owner Jerry Jones pretty happy. That said, there’s definitely work to be done if the Cowboys have any plans to get back to the Super Bowl winning ways they experienced in the early 90s. Having a strong draft this weekend will be a critical part of that.

  • Players added: None
  • Players lost: OT Flozell Adams, S Ken Hamlin, K Shaun Suisham

Major Needs:

  • Safety – With starter Ken Hamlin out the door, the Cowboys have to address this position early on in the draft, and given the level of talent available, they should be able to find a solid player to fill in the gaps with their pick in round one or two. Having a player with strong coverage skills would definitely be a bonus.
  • Offensive Line – Dallas has multiple issues along their line, so they’ll need to find capable players in several different rounds to ensure they’ll have solid blocking up front next season. The most important need here is at tackle, where Doug Free is now projected to be the starter, after the Cowboys released Flozell Adams, and if one of the upper level talents at the position fall to their pick in round one, expect them to make a move in a hurry to get it done.
  • Linebacker – This is really about depth more than anything else, as Keith Brooking is still a quality leader on their defense, but it’s need nonetheless. The Cowboys should be able to find a decent player to fill this hole in the later stages of the draft, but a lot will depend on how the first round plays out.

2010 Draft Picks:

  • 1st (27)
  • 2nd (59)
  • 3rd (90)
  • 4th (125)
  • 6th (196)
  • 7th (234)

New York Giants (8-8)

Analysis: The Giants did everything they could to pack it in down the stretch last season, and it showed in their final two games, both losses with a combined score of 85-16 in the wrong direction. Injuries, attitude issues, and poor coaching were on full display throughout the majority of the year, and as a result, the Giants squandered an excellent 5-0 start to their season. The core nucleus of players is still intact, but several key additions should help prevent that from happening this year, and if New York can parlay their picks into a solid draft class, they should find themselves back in the hunt next fall.

  • Players added: S Antrel Rolle, QB Jim Sorgi, S Deon Grant, OT Herb Taylor
  • Players lost: LB Antonio Pierce, S Aaron Rouse, QB David Carr, DT Fred Robbins, TE Darcy Johnson, CB Kevin Dockery

Major Needs:

  • Linebacker – Now that the Giants have officially parted ways with Antonio Pierce, they’d better be ready to find someone capable of replacing him in the lineup, or suffer the consequences of having their defense struggle to find consistency once again. Jonathan Goff is an okay player and should be fine as a role player off the bench, but he’s not the kind of guy New York needs to run their defense.
  • Defensive Tackle – The Giants literally have nothing to work with at this position, as most of their depth chart played poorly last season, and the one reasonably talented player (Fred Robbins) bolting for St. Louis. Finding a capable playmaker to line up on the inside is critical to their defense’s overall success, and they’re going to have to address it early on in this draft.
  • Defensive End – Much of this depends on how Osi Umenyiora reacts to his atrocious play last year, as he could go either way at this point. There’s no denying he has talent, but his attitude and willingness to lay it on the line for his team are questionable at best. If the Giants think he’ll regain his form as a premier pass rusher, no need to expend a high round pick on a player at this spot; if not, then taking a top-tier pass rusher is most definitely in order.

2010 Draft Picks:

  • 1st (15)
  • 2nd (46)
  • 3rd (76)
  • 4th (115)
  • 5th (147)
  • 6th (184)
  • 7th (221)

Philadelphia Eagles (11-5)

Analysis: Last year was a season full of ups and downs for the Eagles, and it culminated in a bad way for them in their final two games of the year, losing back-to-back contests on the road against their rivals in Dallas. The off-season hasn’t been all that much different, with future Hall of Fame quarterback Donovan McNabb traded away within the division to Washington, and long time running back Brian Westbrook on the verge of retirement. Philly’s offense shouldn’t be an issue, even without McNabb running the show, but their defense has to play better next year if they’re going to make a deep run in the playoffs.

  • Players added: CB Marlin Jackson, WR Hank Baskett, DE Darryl Tapp, RB Mike Bell, LB Ernie Sims, DE Alex Hall
  • Players lost: QB Donovan McNabb, WR Reggie Brown, LB Will Witherspoon, RB Brian Westbrook, S Sean Jones, WR Kevin Curtis, DE Darren Howard, CB Sheldon Brown, LB Chris Gocong

Major Needs:

  • Linebacker – The departure of Chris Gocong has been long overdue, but it leaves Philly without a lot of depth in their linebacker corps. The addition of Ernie Sims earlier today definitely helps, but finding a quality player to take over for Gocong on the strong side will be a must early on in this draft.
  • Cornerback – Trading away Sheldon Brown was a bit of a surprise, but the value the Eagles received in return was enough to pull the trigger, and they should have little difficulty finding a solid player in round two or three to step into his shoes adequately next fall.
  • Running Back – Injuries have taken their toll on Brian Westbrook over the past few years, so not having him on the field next season shouldn’t be all that difficult for the Eagles to deal with. That said, they need to find someone capable of playing in the same fashion later on in this draft, with the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and block would-be defenders consistently.

2010 Draft Picks:

  • 1st (24)
  • 2nd (37, 55)
  • 3rd (70, 87)
  • 4th (105, 121)
  • 6th (200)
  • 7th (243, 244)

Washington Redskins (4-12)

Analysis: Last season was an exercise in futility for the Redskins, as they struggled all season long to find any semblance of consistency on offense, defense, and special teams. Much of the blame for that disorganization has to be laid at the feet of former head coach Jim Zorn, who was summarily fired shortly after the season ended, and has since been replaced by former Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan. The transfer of control to Shanahan has definitely inspired a significant amount of excitement in the nation’s capitol, and that fire was driven even higher recently with the addition of quarterback Donovan McNabb. It won’t change over night for the Redskins, but those two additions should jump start a franchise in desperate need of success.

  • Players added: QB Donovan McNabb, OT Artis Hicks, DT Maake Kemoeatu, RB Larry Johnson, QB Rex Grossman, P Josh Bidwell, CB Philip Buchanon, RB Willie Parker, RB Ryan Torain, DT Howard Green
  • Players lost: OT Chris Samuels, RB Rock Cartwright, OG Randy Thomas, DT Cornelius Griffin, CB Fred Smoot, RB Marcus Mason, QB Todd Collins, WR Antwaan Randle-El

Major Needs:

  • Offensive Line – The Redskins were one of the worst teams last year in keeping opposing defenders away from the ball, and that isn’t likely to change now that Pro Bowl tackle Chris Samuels has made his retirement official. Mike Shanahan’s teams have always had excellent offensive lines, and in time the Redskins should be no different, but they’re going to have to address this area early and often in this draft.
  • Running Back – Unless Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson, and Willie Parker somehow transport themselves back about five seasons, Washington is going to be in a world of hurt offensively with their running game. The Redskins could potentially spend a pick on a running back in this draft, but with so many other needs, it’s hard to see where that will happen.
  • Linebacker – Once the Redskins switch back to a 4-3 defense, Brian Orakpo will be moved up front, and the linebacker corps will suffer as a result. Finding a player capable of filling that role will be a definite must in this class.

2010 Draft Picks:

  • 1st (4)
  • 4th (103)
  • 5th (135)
  • 7th (211)

Back to Team Needs: AFC West | Forward to Team Needs: NFC North


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