Just below our anticipation of the Cowboys’ draft picks, most Dallas fans are very interested in what happens with our division rivals. Especially in the early rounds, we expect to be facing these players twice a year for several seasons to come. Part of us wishes them well, but a much bigger part hopes they are horrible, horrible busts.
Here’s a quick recap of which college standouts joined the NFC East last night:
Philadelphia Eagles select Derek Barnett, DE
Using the Vikings’ first-round pick that they obtained in the Sam Bradford deal last year, Philadelphia added one of the top pass rushers in the class. Barnett follows in the footsteps of Reggie White, who also played at Tennesse and was drafted by the Eagles. White played eight seasons in Philadelphia before joining the Green Bay Packers.
Pressuring quarterbacks was one of the Eagles’ biggest weaknesses in 2016. Their leader was defensive tackle Fletcher Cox with 6.5 sacks. He was closely followed by ends Brandon Graham (5.5 sacks) and Connor Barwin (5). Barwin left the team as a free agent in March.
Barnett, who broke White’s record for sacks at Tennessee, figures to bring a major boost to this part of the defense. He will be part of a new-look defensive line as the Eagles also signed veteran DE Chris Long and traded for DT Timmy Jernigan from the Ravens.
Washington selects Jonathan Allen, DE
Considered by many as one of the top-five talents in the draft, Allen fell all the way to the 17th pick and into Washington’s laps. He is a welcome infusion of talent to the league’s 28th-ranked defense in 2016.
Washington officially uses a 3-4 scheme and Allen would serve a defensive end there. However, they often employ four-man fronts and Allen would likely move inside while Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy provide the outside rush.
Allen is more than capable of generating pressure from the middle, though, and that’s why he was so highly rated in this draft. His fall is due to concerns about abnormally arthritic shoulders and teams are worried he won’t play more than four or five seasons. The talent at the 17th pick was clearly worth the risk for Washington, though.
New York Giants select Evan Engram, TE
One of the more surprising picks of the night, New York took Engram despite David Njoku still being available. Njoku was considered, by a large consensus, to be the second-best TE prospect in the draft after O.J. Howard.
That isn’t to say, by any means, that Engram isn’t a good player or was worthy of a late first-round pick. He’s a little small for TE at only 6’3″ but runs a 4.4. forty-yard dash and can be lined up at various receiving positions. He will bring a new wrinkle to the already potent Giants passing attack.
It’s worth noting that, although a decade apart from each other, Engram and Eli Manning both went to Ole Miss. One would assume that Manning has watched Engram closely over his four-year college career and had a hand in this selection.