By: Tony Meale
The 2012 NFL Draft is just one week away so we’ve pulled together a mock draft featuring the first and second rounds for the NFC East. Do you agree with the picks? Comment below.
The Cowboys finished 2011 with the seventh-best run defense and the tenth-worst pass defense. What does this mean? It means Dallas could use some defensive ends and a secondary.
The Cowboys, which pick 14th overall, should consider selecting North Carolina’s Quinton Coples, Alabama safety Mark Barron, or – if they want to get creative – Memphis nose tackle Dontari Poe (Poe would be particularly useful if they move Jay Ratliff to the edge). If Dallas goes with Coples or Poe in the first round, its next pick – 45th overall – should be spent on a cornerback like Nebraska’s Alfonzo Dennard.
Offensively, the Cowboys don’t have any glaring weaknesses, but losing Laurent Robinson to free agency hurts for two reasons: one, Miles Austin and Dez Bryant are injury-prone, and two, Robinson made plays when called upon. When healthy, Austin, Bryant and Jason Witten still form one of the most elite pass-catching trios in football – maybe the most – but Dallas should draft a wideout or tight end at some point, especially after losing reserve Martellus Bennett to the Giants.
After starting 1-4 and 4-8 last season, Philly won its final four games by a combined score of 125-46. That’s pretty good – as is boasting three of the top 51 picks, including 15th overall, in this year’s draft.
After trading for linebacker DeMeco Ryans, Philly is free to pursue its biggest need – a run-stuffing defensive tackle. LSU’s Michael Brockers seems an obvious choice, assuming Fletcher Cox and Dontari Poe are off the board. The Eagles could also be eyeing Stephon Gilmore or Dre Kirkpatrick in the secondary, especially since Asante Samuel appears on his way out.
If Philly waits on filling these needs, offensive line is the next most practical investment. On the one hand, the Eagles need a lineman who can pass protect to buy time for Michael Vick. On the other hand, they need someone who can push the pile; that way, Philly doesn’t have to keep lining up in shotgun on 3rd-and-1. The top three offensive linemen – Matt Kalil, David DeCastro and Riley Reiff – will likely be gone by the time Pick 15 rolls around, but the Eagles wouldn’t be overspending too much if they took Cordy Glenn, a 6-5, 345-pounder out of Georgia.
No matter who they choose, the Eagles are playoff bound in 2012 – provided they don’t turn the ball over a bazillion times again.
Drafting a pass-rushing defensive lineman seems like a very New York Giants thing to do, doesn’t it? Yes, the Giants’ front seven is absolutely stacked, but why not add another? Nick Perry, Jerel Worthy and Devon Still are all viable candidates at Pick 32.
Or, now that Aaron Ross has signed with Jacksonville, maybe New York, which has seven picks (including one in each of the first three rounds and two in the fourth), concentrates on the secondary. Janoris Jenkins, perhaps?
Offensively, New York may need to replace Kareem McKenzie, and Ohio State’s Mike Adams would be a sound selection.
Let’s not forget Mario Manningham signed with the 49ers. The Giants signed tight end Martellus Bennett to provide depth with Jake Ballard, but who’s to say they wont draft Stanford’s Coby Fleener? Also, who will replace Brandon Jacobs, who, like Manningham, signed with the 49ers? Might New York draft Boise State’s Doug Martin?
In short, the Giants have several options, which is good. And hey, at least they’re set at quarterback.
It’s a virtual certainty that the Redskins will draft Robert Griffin III second overall. After that, it’s anybody’s guess what Washington does – and we’ll have a lot of time to ponder the possibilities. After picking second, the Redskins, barring a trade, must wait 67 slots for their next selection.
The wait won’t be too bad, though. Odds are, Washington uses its remaining picks to fortify the offensive line and shore up the back seven defensively, particularly at inside linebacker and safety.
But the Redskins have what they haven’t had in quite some time – a franchise quarterback. It might take some time, but the future in D.C. certainly looks bright.
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Tony Meale is a freelance writer for MLB.com, cincinnati.com and ffjungle.com, among others. His fantasy football work has led to guest appearances on several radio outlets, including ESPN Radio and Sirius Radio. He has a Master’s in Journalism from Ohio University and has been recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists for outstanding work. A Cincinnati native, he is currently writing a book on one of the great sports stories never told. Follow Tony Meale on Twitter @tonymeale.