While the Washington Redskins remained silent on day one of the NFL Draft, their counterparts in the NFC East added depth to the offensive line. The Giants, Cowboys, and Eagles all used first round selections on offensive linemen, three of the nine total chosen on Thursday night. All three teams made wise investments, and the job of the Redskins’ front seven just got a lot tougher in the division.
Many expected Philadelphia to select either Dion Jordan or Geno Smith at the four spot. Jordan was off the board thanks to a Miami Dolphins trade with the Raiders. The Eagles wisely chose to bypass Smith, who remains available in round two. Philly ends up with Lane Johnson, an offensive tackle from Oklahoma. While not the most polished lineman in the draft, Johnson fits perfectly into the new system implemented by Chip Kelly. Bob Stoops ran a similar hurry-up spread attack at Oklahoma in which the offense routinely ran 70 to 80 plays from scrimmage. Johnson is also one of the quickest linemen in the draft, running a combine-best 1.61 10 yard split. Philadelphia improves greatly on the offensive line, and more importantly, did not overdraft for a franchise quarterback. Geno Smith and Ryan Nassib are both available if that’s the direction Kelly wants to go.
Dallas was unfortunate during day one, as players coveted by the coaching staff were taken from the board before the Cowboys were able to select at 19. Reports indicate that the Cowboys were hoping one of the elite linemen- D.J. Fluker or Chance Warmack- would be available for their selection. With no player exciting enough for Jerry Jones available, Dallas opted to swap first-round picks with the 49ers in exchange for an additional third round selection. It was a logical move for the Cowboys, who needed additional selections and now have three in the third round. However,the Cowboys were hoping for a different result.
With the 31st overall selection, Dallas drafted Travis Frederick, a center from Wisconsin. At 312 pounds, Frederick will be a mainstay on the Cowboys offensive line for years to come. Football evaluators frequently reference his “high football IQ” as one of his best attributes. He also addresses a serious need for the Cowboys, as the team was beset by injuries along the line a season ago. There is still the general consensus that he was “overdrafted”, as many mocks had him going in the late second or third rounds. Of the three NFC East teams who had selections in the first round, Dallas had the least impressive showing.
New York kept its position in the first round and selected offensive tackle Justin Pugh from Syracuse with the nineteenth overall pick. The Giants have an aging line protecting Eli Manning, and Pugh figures to start immediately at either tackle or guard. He was one of the best pass protectors available in the draft and was responsible for the emergence of Ryan Nassib this past season. His only shortcoming appears to be his shorter than average arm length. Still, General Manager Jerry Reese insisted he got the best available player on his board. Pugh’s presence figures to improve the Giants’ passing game, which has served as a formidable foe to the Redskins’ secondary in recent years.
Post your comments on NFC East selections below, and stay tuned for continuing draft coverage on Day 2 and 3.