Our friends over at Bleeding Green Nation came up with their picks for the "All NFC East" team and we thought it'd be a cool exercise to come up with our own team as well. You'll find that many of the choices are similar, but I had my own thoughts on a few positions. You can find their team right here:
I'll be picking the offense for today, and I'm going to go out of '11' personnel for my NFC East team, which means one running back, one tight end, and 3 wide receivers. I'm going to base it on a projection of how players might do in the 2014 regular season. That means I take into account injury, past performance, and future upside. On top of that, I'm constructing a team that I think will mesh best together, so you might see some different choices in terms of where some players are positioned. Enjoy!
Nick Foles was my top QB and it hasn't changed. I think he's very accurate and efficient in Chip Kelly's (who, by the way, I think was the best coach in the division last year by default) scheme. He showed off good arm strength, the ability to read through his progressions, and find the open guy. He also obviously limited his mistakes, which is the biggest advantage he has over the others. Tony Romo would likely be a really big consideration here and to be totally honest should probably be the pick, but his uncanny ability to throw that backbreaking interception is too hilarious for me to pick him. Speaking of interceptions...Eli. I don't know how he'll respond next year and I quite frankly can't just pick him on the hope that he rebounds in McAdoo's system. I'd consider him much more if we were talking about one game rather than an entire season. RGIII has too many questions about his level of play and his health for me to pick him.
RB: Lesean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
NFL's leading rusher, easiest choice of this entire list. I don't even know that I need to explain it. Second-team for the All NFC East team would likely feature a tie between Alfred Morris and Demarco Murray, both quality players in their own right.
Another easy choice simply by default. Witten is getting older, but he's still more than capable. He's the wily veteran that you can use as a dual threat to block and catch the outlet passes. His only real competition was Jordan Reed, whose arrow is trending way up, but I liked Witten's complete game as a better fit for this offense, so he's the pick.
"X" WR: Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
Dez Bryant is the prototypical "X" WR. Big bodied, explosive, with hands of steel, he's one of the biggest mismatches in the NFL as he enters his contract year for the Cowboys. He's been exceedingly consistent the past two years, good for nabbing 85+ receptions, 1,200 yards, and 12 TDs. The only competition at the "X" spot that Dez has on each side is Riley Cooper from Philly, Rueben Randle from the Giants, and Pierre Garcon from the Redskins. Garcon is a very good receiver, but not in the same stratosphere as Bryant.
"Z" WR: Desean Jackson, Washington Redskins
Across from Bryant, you have the prototypical "Z". Jackson is the biggest deep threat in the NFL and has a knack for routinely getting behind defenses and making them pay. The NFC East as a whole has a strong group of "Z" guys. Jackson's competition includes Odell Beckham Jr from the NY GIants, Terrance Williams from the Cowboys, and Jeremy Maclin from the Eagles. However, Jackson truly defines the position from the start and having him opposite the prototype "X" in Dez and the prototype "Y" in Cruz gives this team a truly fearsome deep option.
"Y" WR: Victor Cruz, New York Giants
Over the past three years, Victor Cruz has 3,626 yards, 23 TDs with 15.0 yards per catch. The other receivers in the division in the same time? Dez Bryant has 3,543 yards, 34 TDs with 14.2 yards per catch, Desean Jackson has 2,995 yards, 15 TDs with 16.1 yards per catch. Pierre Garcon has 2,296 yards, 15 TDs with 12.8 yards per catch.
Call Cruz a slot receiver only that just accumulates short targets all you want, but the only one to significantly outpace Victor in any facet of the game is Dez Bryant's ability to score TDs. Cruz's 15.0 yards per catch trails only Jackson's 16.1. He has more yards than any other receiver in the division and the only one to be two yards shy of having three straight 1,000-yard seasons. People will routinely take Dez, Desean, and even guys like Maclin and Garcon over him. Underrated doesn't even begin to describe this Giants star.
LT: Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys
I really wanted to put in Jason Peters here but I didn't see a major dropoff between Peters and Smith, and Smith is clearly on the ascent. He's probably the most athletic LT in the division and has a good shot to pass Peters this upcoming year. Peters allowed four sacks last year, while Smith only allowed one. Will Beatty, after the year he had in 2013, wasn't considered.
LG: Evan Mathis, Philadelphia Eagles
I think he's the best guard in the division so he gets the nod here. Not much else to say, great pass protector and even better run blocker, he'll be driving people back and paving huge holes for Lesean McCoy.
OC: Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles
It was between Kelce, the more established talent versus the rising talent in Travis Frederick. I went with Kelce because he's the more athletic of the two and can get downfield faster than Frederick can. That will allow McCoy to extend his runs as he did all of last year. The hope here is that by this time next year, the no brainer choice is Weston Richburg, but for now, Kelce is more than good enough.
RG: Geoff Schwartz, New York Giants
The newcomer here to the division is also the 2nd best guard in the division. Seriously. Who else made any sense? Chris Snee? John Jerry? Nope. Todd Herremans? Nope. Zack Martin very well could be, but he's an unproven rookie right now. Ronald Leary? Don't make me laugh. Do we even know who the Redskins' guards are? Hint: Shawn Lauvao and Chris Chester. Nope. Schwartz was the easy and clear choice.
RT: Trent Wiliams, Washington Redskins
To finish off this monstrous offense, I added Williams from his usual LT position to the RT. I actually like his game more than Tyron Smith, but given his size and more dominant persona, I think having him as a bookend right tackle destroying the heavier LDEs will come up aces for this offense. Lane Johnson and Justin Pugh aren't quite up to snuff just yet.
All NFC East Defense Team coming soon...