NFC EAST DRAFT GRADES

BY ADAM GREENE

It’s time to jump conferences with our post NFL Draft grades and the NFC East has pretty much screwed up the curve for everybody.

Say what you will about all these teams, and we all do, every single NFC East squad had fantastic drafts. It may seem like I’m dolling out the “As” a little too leisurely, but, trust me, these teams deserve it.

As usual, we need to establish our ground rules first.

1. No team without a first round pick can get an “A” grade. This doesn’t really factor in here as two of the teams, the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, both opened Day One of the draft with two first rounders. Everybody else kept theirs and used them properly.

2. The Draft Grade I deliver with my figurative red pencil is based on the guys each franchise took in this draft and their college tapes. I’m not a believer in the so-called “ceiling” which consistently fools general managers, scouts and NFL punditry. Instead, I like to base my thoughts on a college player on what he actually did in college. It’s crazy, I know, but I feel like it’s the thing to do.

NEW YORK GIANTS

Selections: No. 5: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon — No. 7: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama — No. 43: Wan’Dale Robinson, WR, Kentucky — No. 67: Joshua Ezeudu, OG, North Carolina — No. 81: Cordale Flott, CB, LSU — No. 112: Daniel Bellinger, TE, San Diego State — No. 114: Dane Belton, Safety, Iowa — No. 146: Micah McFadden, LB, Indiana — No. 147: DJ Davidson, DT, Arizona State — No. 173: Marcus McKethan, OG, North Carolina — No. 182: Darrian Beavers, LB, Cincinnati

GRADE: A+

The Giants could have just tossed the rest of their pick cards right into the trash after the first round and still earned an “A+.” In possession of two picks in the Top 7, no one in New York expected both Thibodeaux and Neal to fall to them at those spots. Yet, they did, as the Giants added two guys that could have both gone No. 1 overall (and Neal probably should have) by just staying put.

Robinson is a guy I loved out of Kentucky who was coached up by the current Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator. Ezeudu played both guard and tackle at UNC and earned a Pro Football Focus grade of 77.8 for his troubles. Flott out of LSU looks like a starter too. This was a complete team rebuild delivered in a single draft.

DALLAS COWBOYS

Selections: No. 24: Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa — No. 56: Sam Williams, Edge, Mississippi — No. 88: Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama — No. 129: Jake Ferguson, TE, Wisconsin — No. 155: Matt Waletzko, OT, North Dakota — No. 167: DaRon Bland, CB, Fresno State — No. 178: Damone Clark, LB, LSU — No. 178: John Ridgeway, DT, Arkansas — No. 193: Devin Harper, LB, Oklahoma State

GRADE: A

Sean Payton should be ecstatic at the Cowboys’ draft haul he’ll be coaching next season. Smith was the highest rated run blocker in all of college football in 2021. Williams had 15 tackles for a loss and 12.5 sacks against an SEC Schedule, and in particular an SEC West schedule. He’ll have an immediate impact.

Tolbert is from a smaller school, but he’s a tall target and his stats are off the charts. He had 82 catches, 1,474 yards and eight touchdowns last season, averaging 18 yards per catch. That was after a 64 catch, 1,085 and eight TD campaign in 2020. Ferguson is another big target at 6-5 and had good production against a Big Ten schedule. Dallas has a knack for finding tight ends and he could be the next one.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Selections: No. 13: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia — No. 51: Cam Jurgens, Center, Nebraska — No. 83: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia — No. 181: Kyron Johnson, LB, Kansas — No. 198: Grant Calcaterra, TE, SMU

GRADE: A

If I factored in their draft day trade in which they landed AJ Brown for the price of first and late third round picks, this would be an “A+” easy. As it is, I can only focus on the guys they added to their roster via the NFL’s annual amateur player selection meeting and they nailed it.

Davis is probably the best defensive tackle in the draft and had better production than his teammate Travon Walker, an edge rusher, taken No. 1 overall. According to PFF, Jurgens is the most explosive center prospect in this draft class and he posted a 71.4 grade. Dean is an outright steal in the third round. He was unquestionably a first round talent, but health concerns dropped him a couple of rounds. He was absolutely fine last season for the Georgia Bulldogs and a big reason they hoisted the National Championship trophy at the end of the year. Philly traded away its second first rounder and still managed to take two first rounders in the draft.

WASHINGTON COMMANDERS

Selections: No. 16: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State — No. 47: Phidarian Mathis, DT, Alabama — No. 98: Brian Robinson, RB, Alabama — No. 113: Percy Butler, Safety, Louisiana — No. 144: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina — No. 149: Cole Turner, TE, Nevada — No. 230: Chris Paul, OG, Tulsa — No. 240: Christian Holmes, CB, Oklahoma State

GRADE: A

Finally, we come to the Commanders, who probably fumbled their whole starting quarterback situation this offseason, but aced the draft. Dotson will pair very nicely with Terry McLaurin on the other side and Curtis Samuel in the slot. While Washington already had a solid running back in Antonio Gibson, Robinson is probably an NFL day one starter that will push him from the get-go. Mathis had 53 tackles, 10.5 for a loss and nine sacks for Alabama against the hardest schedule in college football.

Taking Howell late is some nice insurance and depth. At one time, he was considered a possible first round pick, so if all the Commanders get is a lifelong back up, he’s still a good value. Plus, there’s always the chance he could turn into a starter.

Follow Adam Greene on Twitter @TheFirstMan.

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