The premise of this is to do a position by position ranking of the NFC East. I have a lot to write, so I'm going to make this into a "series." Today, going over QB, WR, RB
Disclaimer: Some homerism is to be expected, but I tried to be "fair"
1) Philadelphia Eagles: As much as I love Eli Manning, it was Michael Vick that carried this team farther than I think it should allowed to be. He energized the franchise, which wasn't doing that badly with Kolb, anyway. As of right now, Kolb is also their backup; thereby making him the best backup QB in the NFC East, if not the entire NFL. The depth than consists of Mike Kafka, an interesting developmental prospect.
2) New York Giants: Regardless of what the pundits say, Eli Manning is a top 10 QB in the NFL. He may be slightly turnover prone (last year was an aberration compared to the other 5 or so years he's played), but for the most part makes good decisions and has the best leadership qualities and intangibles of any QB in the East. He's got the full support of his teammates and the temperament to withstand the enormous expectations and criticism that comes with playing in the highest profile position in sports in the world's greatest market. We also have Sage Rosenfels, an adequate back up to say the least. We are docked points for getting rid of Bomar, though.
3) Dallas Cowboys: Admittedly (trust me when I say this is painful), there's not much separation between the top QB and the 3rd ranked one in Tony Romo. He probably would come in 2nd place if this were a fantasy football discussion, and is absolutely a good football player, but there are some knocks against him. He's been labeled a "choker", fairly or unfairly its not for me to say, but there it is. That being said, a lot of it was not his fault, but there it is regardless. What really knocks him down for me is that he's injury prone. The dude sat out a game for an injured pinkie. Unless he can really step up to the next level, and stay consistently on the field, I can't justify putting him any higher.
4) Washington Redskins: The biggest problem here is that we don't know who's playing QB. Donovan gets a lot of heat for his play last year, but the bigger problem was probably that McNabb didn't have a stable OL, an unreliable running game, and not very many playmakers at WR. No QB had a realistic chance to thrive in this situation. They have John Beck and Rex Grossman as well, and are considered front-runners for Vince Young, so at least the situation is looking up.
1) Dallas Cowboys: They have Felix Jones, Marion Barber, Tashard Choice, and DeMarco Murray here. That's unbelievable depth at one position. Granted, none of these guys are anything special, but they mesh incredibly well with each other. Felix has been average and hampered by injuries, but has the potential to take one to the house at any point. Murray is a Felix Jones clone with the same ability (and penchant for injury), and will likely be used to spell Felix in that way. Barber is the hard hitter, but he's declining. Tashard is merely average, but still serviceable and has shown the ability to be a quality backup.
2) New York Giants: We have Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, D.J. Ware, and Da'Rel Scott. Again, like the Cowboys, our backs complement each other incredibly well. Ahmad's first year as the feature back went well. He produced solid starting numbers, but the fumbling problems came back to really hurt us. Jacobs certainly had a bounce back year, for sure. Reason that we are lower than the Cowboys is the uncertainty surrounding both of our backs. D.J. Ware has quietly made the most of the limited opportunities that he's had, and should be getting more. Da'Rel Scott brings a new element of speed, but as a rookie, I don't expect many snaps.
3) Philadelphia Eagles: Eagles fans will be up in arms over this rating, and they certainly can make the argument that Lesean McCoy is the best back in the Beast, but I'm not sold yet. He has home run capability, but Ahmad Bradshaw alone had better stats last year. Still got ridiculous upside, though. Problem is that the depth behind McCoy is mediocre in my opinion. Dion Lewis was undoubtedly a nice pick up, but I only see average production from him this year as a backup rookie RB on a pass-heavy team. Jerome Harrison is also a nice back, but didn't get too many opportunites last year.
4) Washington Redskins: The Redskins are again in last place. Clinton Portis is gone, leaving Ryan Torain as the feature back. Torain is a good talent, but is oft injured and doesn't really compare to the rest of the East. Roy Helu Jr., and Evan Royster will work to change that, but rookie RB projections should be kept low.
1) Philadelphia Eagles: You don't know how much this hurts me. Philadelphia has speed. Speed kills, especially when you have burners like Desean Jackass and Jeremy Maclin. As of last year, I'd have to say that Desean is the best WR in the East. He may not have the best statistics, but he's probably the most feared WR in our division: the one that is ALWAYS game planned for, and you can't discount that fact. Maclin, while not as dangerous nor having the impact that Nicks has (fact.), is still one of the most dangerous receivers in the NFL. Jason Avant is no slouch either, our frenemies at BGN will tell you that he's the best slot receiver in the NFL. While that's not true, he's definitely up there. Behind him, there's Riley Cooper, an up-and-comer.
2) New York Giants: Truly, the rankings should be 1) and 1a), but I'm not going to puss out and do that. At full strength, both clubs are tied in my eyes (The Eagles having the best receiver, while the Giants have the best depth). The only reason the Giants are number 2 is because of injury concerns. Steve Smith tore his pectoral and underwent microfracture surgery. That's serious, and his ability certainly has the potential to be compromised. He is the lynchpin of the WR corps; Eli visibly struggles without him in the line up. Hopefully, if he's not good to go, we have Jerrel Jernigan to hopefully pick up the slack. Hakeem Nicks is poised to break out and become a true top 10 WR in the league and Eli's most deadliest weapon. He definitely showed more than flashes of it, and will become a superstar. Manningham is the best 3rd WR in the division. Aside from some nippleheaded route running, he's got talent by the boatloads. Behind Nicks, Smith, and Ham, you have Jernigan, Ramses, Victor Cruz, and Domenik Hixon. Now that, my friends, is what you call quality depth.
3) Dallas Cowboys: Our friends from Blogging the Boys will not be happy with this. Much like the QB situation, they are in 3rd, but not by much. Dez Bryant and Miles Austin are still a fearsome tandem. However, while Bryant has all the makings of a superstar, he has injury concerns as well. Austin had a down year, but still needs to be accounted for. Roy Williams is a sack of turds, but can still be very effective in certain situations. Dwayne Harris, I think, was a steal and should be able to contribute. They don't have much quality depth, which is probably the biggest reason why they are below the Giants.
4) Washington Redskins: Come next year, we actually may not see the Redskins in the basement this time around. Leonard Hankerson has all the makings of a #1 WR. He has inconsistent hands, but could be the steal of the draft in the 3rd round if he pans out. Behind him, there's not much to write home about. Santana Moss has long been a staple of the offense and provided the spark plug for years, but that is quickly fading and he is likely gone. Niles Paul adds speed and deep play ability. Perhaps the former Husker will be matched up against and shutdown by his good friend and fellow teammate Prince Amukamara. Aldrick Robinson is also a sleeper that people should watch out for. As it is, WRs rarely make an impact in their rookie seasons, but because of the dire situation in Washington, there are chances for someone to make a splash this coming year.
Next time: TE/FB, OT, G, C