The path to the Super Bowl starts by clinching the NFC East. That means beating the New York Giants, the Washington Redskins and the Philadelphia Eagles. Fortunately, with the help of the draft, the Dallas Cowboys have improved as a team. Unfortunately, so has the rest of the NFC East.
Today, we’ll look at three rookies drafted by the New York Giants that could be the biggest headaches for the Cowboys: Eli Apple, Sterling Shepard and Paul Perkins.
In the first round, The Giants surprised most people by drafting Eli Apple. It was a surprise because most thought Apple wasn’t worth that high of a pick.
Apple is a decent corner. The Giants needed to improve their defense, especially the secondary, so drafting a corner seemed reasonable. There’s no guarantee that Apple’s game will translate well in the NFL. He’ll be tested if he’s tasked with covering Dez Bryant in 2016. That’s a tall order for any corner. It’s Dez Bryant.
Apple is known for being a physical corner. Sometimes, Apple’s physical tendencies with receivers turns into grabbing their jerseys, a tactic that will draw flags in the NFL. Defensive pass interference calls are one way to move the ball down the field.
But the way the Giants’ roster is currently constructed, Apple may not start right away. The Giants have established starters on the outside in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins so he may get a developmental year anyway.
The Giants also drafted Sterling Shepard, son of Derrick Shepard, former wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys. In an interview before the draft, Sterling Shepard said that his favorite team was the Dallas Cowboys because his father had played for them. Sorry, New York Football Giants.
Okay, I know I’m being snarky but allow me my petty tortures.
Shepard shows flashes of his father and could complement Odell Beckham Jr. very well. If he’s playing WR2, and doesn’t muster many catches, he still has the ability to churn up yards. He reached 50 yards in all but one game and 70 yards in all but three games in his senior year.
Shepard has no problem going up the middle and taking a hit. While this may be admirable of him that he’s willing to put his body in danger to make the catch, it could get him into trouble with the Cowboys, because somebody like Barry Church, Sean Lee or even Jeff Heath could be there to lay him out.
Because of his 5’10”, 194 pound frame it’s reasonable to wonder if he would be able to get off the line against a bigger, stronger corner like Brandon Carr, who is 6’0” 210 pounds. Even if he does get off the line, the Cowboys’ secondary was ranked 5th in pass defense last season. A surprising yet comforting statistic.
Paul Perkins, taken in the fifth round, could also be another name for the Cowboys to look out for. I think a running back, especially a talented running back, could really give the Cowboys’ defense a headache. They ranked 22nd in rushing defense last season.
Like any fifth round pick, he will have to work his way up the depth chart and get through Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams, Bobby Rainey and Orleans Darkwa.
Perkins is not the biggest or strongest back, he lacks physicality of power and he doesn’t seem like the kind of back to drive the pile forward. He does have the ability to make guys miss and break through arm tackles. If a hole opens up, his hyper-quick shiftiness could pose quite the problem for the Cowboys’ rushing defense.
With the recent addition of Cedric Thornton, a healthy Tyrone Crawford, and hopefully a speedy recovery for Maliek Collins, Perkins could have a hard time getting to the next level.
If he does, Sean Lee and Rolando McClain will be there to meet him.
The Giants might have drafted some decent players, but nothing the Cowboys can’t handle.