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Grading The NFC East’s First Round Draft Picks


Philadelphia Eagles: Devonta Smith WR Alabama

Grade: A+

The Philadelphia Eagles got aggressive in the first round and decided they weren’t going to stand by and watch a player like Devonta Smith get drafted by the division rival New York Giants. It’s ironic that the Eagles gave up a third rounder to Dallas as a part of the trade, but it’s well worth it.  Considering how the last few years have gone in terms of the Eagles and draft wide receivers, this was the perfect move for the Eagles. For how much criticism Howie Roseman receives, it’s notable that he recognized Jamarr Chase or Kyle Pitts wouldn’t be available at No. 6, and then was able to take advantage of their position at 12 to get their guy. Swapping picks with Dallas to move up to No. 10 was a great move by Howie Roseman and the rest of the Eagles front office. Devonta Smith who is fresh off winning the Heisman Trophy in a 2020 season where he led the NCAA in receptions (117), receiving yards (1,856) and receiving TDS (23). The only reason Smith had some skepticism heading into the draft is because of his weight and frame. Smith weighed in at 166 pounds earlier this month at the NFL combine. Nevertheless, the Eagles have now given Jalen Hurts another young dynamic receiver to help with the offense. With a brand new coaching staff, it’ll be fascinating to see how they utilize Reagor and Smith. Nick Sirianni has experience with developing receivers so this was a no brainer. Reuniting college teammates seems to be the trend of this draft, and in the Eagles’ case they couldn’t have asked for much more. It remains to be seen how Smith’s game will translate to the NFL, but on the surface this is a home run for the Eagles.

 

Cowboys: Micah Parsons LB Penn State

Grade: A-

The Dallas Cowboys made the most out of an unfortunate situation. Heading into the draft it was crystal clear that the team was targeting South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn or Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II with the 10th overall pick. The first thorn in that plan came when the Carolina Panthers selected Horn with the 8th pick. One pick later the Denver Broncos selected Patrick Surtain II with their pick. At this point the Cowboys really were running out of options. Trying to trade back seemed like the most likely outcome and that’s exactly what happened. Receiving a third rounder from the Eagles was a win win for Dallas.. After another sudden trade which involved the Chicago Bears trading up to No. 11 to get Justin Fields, the Cowboys had their pick between Rashawn Slater, Micah Parsons, or the field. Dallas went with the talented Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons. I thought this was a solid pick; Dallas’ defense has consistently dragged down the team in recent years. Parsons, who opted out of the 2020 college football season was regarded as a top 2 or 3 defensive player in this draft. Some off the field issues and lack of recent tape have caused him to fly under the radar, but for a defense that ranked 28th in defense in 2020, Parsons will be a nice addition to a linebacking core that just lost Sean Lee to retirement.

 

Giants: Kadarius Toney WR Florida

Grade: C+

The New York Giants decided to get in on the fun and be a part of the trade frenzy in the NFC East. Sitting at No. 11 the Giants presumably had Devonta Smith in their sights before the Eagles swooped in and got him at 10. That presumption was confirmed when they decided to move out of 11th and trade down to 20th. The Chicago Bears, eager to draft Justin Fields, gave up their first and fifth rounders in this year’s draft, along with their first and fourth rounders in next year’s draft. The haul is an A+ but the pick itself could’ve been slightly better in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, Kadarius Toney is an explosive receiver with real upside. He broke out in his senior campaign at Florida, catching 70 passes for 984 yards and 10 touchdowns. On a team that heavily featured Kyle Pitts, Toney was the spark plug for a Florida team that averaged 39.8 points per game. There have been some concerns about his mechanics and route running, but there’s no doubting his explosiveness. If the Giants definitely were going receiver, I think Minnesota receiver Rashod Bateman would’ve been a solid pick as well. The Giants have other needs on the defensive line and Penn State De Kwity Paye was still available at this point. The Giants ran into the same problem as the Cowboys, missing out on their main target one pick earlier. Nonetheless, they traded back to No. 20 and selected Kadarius Toney. A solid pick overall, but definitely not Devonta Smith.

 

Washington Football Team: Jamin Davis LB Kentucky

Grade: B

The Washington Football Team decided to fill their void at linebacker at No. 19 overall and select linebacker Jamin Davis out of Kentucky. This is a solid pick considering Washington’s linebacking core is average at best. I think the grade on this pick will be affected by what Washington does the rest of the draft. The most obvious position that they need to still fill is QB. Washington has 3 picks in Round 2-3 later tonight. There are still QBs like Kyle Trask out of Florida, Kellen Mond out of Texas A&M, and even Stanford’s Davis Mills available. But as long as Washington lands one of those QBs in Rounds 2-3, I think Jamin Davis will be a good first round pick. He’s an an athletic off ball linebacker with great range and a great downhill run defender. His length, speed, and agility will enable him to continue to get better in coverage, an area where he struggled at Kentucky. I’d still like to see Washington address their holes at QB and TE, but overall a solid first round pick for Washington.

 

All in all, the NFC East did pretty damn well on opening night of the draft. The Eagles finally got what seems to be a stud receiver that will play right away. The Cowboys finally addressed their defense and got Micah Parsons who could very well end up being the most successful defensive player out of this draft. The Giants went with speed and explosiveness with Kadarius Toney at No. 20. And the Washington Football Team continued to add on to a defense that single-handedly won Washington the division last year. I think for first rounds, this was one of the most intriguing and exciting ones in a while, and from what I can tell, every NFC East team addressed holes, and it will be very interesting to see how the rest of this draft plays out.





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