The first 31 picks (sorry New England) have come and gone in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Cowboys and each of their NFC East opponents have added a player who they expect to be a key cog in their team for years to come.
I’ve written a more extensive recap about the Cowboys’ night already. For this article, let’s do a brief rundown of what our division rivals were up to and how it will affect their matchups with Dallas.
Eagles select Carson Wentz, QB
There was no surprise in Philadelphia’s pick. The trade-up alone made it obvious they wanted a quarterback and their front office was completely open about their intention. Now they have to figure out what to do about Sam Bradford.
The more I’ve thought about it, the more I understand what the Eagles were trying to do. They grossly overpaid Bradford with the two-year deal in the hope that he would be okay with being a transitional player. They wanted him to start this year regardless of what they did in the draft. Neither Wentz or Jared Goff are considered guys who will set the league on fire as rookies. The Eagles wanted to prepare for the future while also remaining competitive in a fairly wide-open NFC East.
The problem is that they didn’t have a good sense of how Bradford would react. This conversation should’ve been had before they ever signed the contract. They misjudged things and now will have to figure out how to repair a pretty big rift in their locker room.
Overall it was a good night for Philly. They got the best quarterback in the class, in my opinion, and may wind up in a better position down the road than any of the other division members because of it. The immediate future may not be as bright, though.
Giants select Eli Apple, CB
It wasn’t long ago that New York was spending high picks on corners every year. None of them ever emerged as elite NFL players. At the same time, none of them were ever taken in the Top 10 picks.
Some would classify Apple as a reach at the 10th pick. He has great size and speed but is considered fairly unpolished. He was near the top of the nation in pass interference calls last year.
New York is clearly thinking long-term by taking Apple. Wide receivers are getting both bigger and faster and you need cornerbacks who can match up with both traits. Apple has the physical tools to do that. Can the Giants coach him towards realizing that potential?
It’s worth noting that the Giants passed on Vernon Hargreaves, who was the consensus number-two corner in the draft class. Hargreaves doesn’t have the physical gifts of Apple but is superior in his technique. Passing on him was about the style of player they prefer, but could still be a mistake depending on how things unfold.
Also, the next time we hear complaints about the Giants’ offensive line play, feel free to remind them that they passed on Laremy Tunsil.
Washington selects Josh Doctson, WR
In my mock draft I had Washington taking a receiver but went with Michael Thomas, whose combination of size and speed leaps off the page. Doctson is the more polished player, though, and ready to contribute immediately. With DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon both turning 30 this year, Washington was smart to get a kid who could help with the workload and become a new primary target for Kirk Cousins for years to come.
Doctoson also fills an important role for Washington. None of their receivers are over 6’0″ and their only redzone threat right now is tight end Jordan Reed. Doctson is not only taller but one of his best traits is tracking and going up for balls. He will diversify their offense in a very positive way.
The most interesting note from Washington’s night was their odd trade with the Houston Texans. The teams swapped adjacent spots at #21 and #22 and Houston sent a sixth-round pick to Washington for their trouble. Houston ended up taking speed receiver Will Fuller, who I doubt Washington would’ve taken at that spot.
The only logic here is that Houston was worried someone else was going to trade up and take Fuller and made the offer. Washington had no other offers and just took it. Sixth-round picks are no great commodity but still it’s always nice to get something for nothing.