Every season, the NFC East is a spectacle to behold, seemingly even when the teams aren't performing well. There's a sort of Shakespearean flow to the drama and tragedy of it all. Naturally, this even extended to the NFL Draft, and while may laud the New York Giants for their moves this past weekend, their rivals have not been praised the same way. Some paid mightily, others found bargains, and of course, there was a downright bonehead move or two.
Favorite pick: Jaylon Smith (LB, Round 2 - 34th)
Least favorite pick: Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Round 1 - 4th)
I think the Cowboys had the epitome of a Jerry Jones draft. The dark lord himself has been talked into reasonable moves in recent years -- Zack Martin over Johnny Manziel being the obvious example -- but he could not be silenced this year it seems. Picking a running back with the fourth overall pick is the most Jones thing he could have done outside of swapping his entire draft currency to the Minnesota Vikings for Adrian Peterson.
Overall, I think the Cowboys definitely got better, but they did so in a flashy top-coat kind of way. Ezekiel Elliott is an immediate starter, but if Tony Romo goes down, will that matter? After a glitzy pick like that in the first round, you'd think they would have gone safe in the second, but nope, this is where they land Jaylon Smith, a player who is incapable of producing in Year 1. In isolation, I love the pick. You get a potential star at a garage sale price. If they bought a box of assorted loose baseball cards because they thought they spotted a Honus Wagner in there, then fair play, nicely done, but if this is another boom-or-bust player that ends up in the latter category for the Cowboys it might well just cost them Tony Romo's championship window.
And thus, we discover the Cowboys' fundamental flaw. From the top to the bottom, Jones simply doesn't understand the concept of moderation. Oh, we have a star running back in DeMarco Murray? Let's run him until he can run no longer. We need a new stadium? Let's build a Grand Canyon-level spectacle. Potentially risky draft investments? Yeah, one or two won't hurt, but let's not make this habit. Oh wait. We may be in too deep on that one.
Favorite pick: Halapoulivaati Vaitai (OL, Round 5 - 164th)
Least favorite pick: Carson Wentz (QB, Round 1 - 2nd)
People love to look at Eli Manning and the Giants as the comparison for all trades that land a team a top quarterback prospect. Robert Griffin III in Washington was viewed through that lens, and it paid dividends early, but then exploded catastrophically, as only an overworked cruciate ligaments could. You don't feel the kinds of pain brought upon by poor draft strategy until much later on.
So, it just makes total sense that the Eagles would go all-in on a somewhat risky small-school prospect in the first year of a team rebuild and not one, but two other quarterbacks already signed to long-term contracts in this very off-season. Giants fans, meet Carson Wentz. Wentz, fans. This is the guy who very well may beat the living crap out of this team in years to come, but whose team will have to play left-handed for several years until it can regain a solid footing in future draft classes.
I firmly believe that if you find your guy, you invest whatever is necessary to make sure when he plays in your colors. However, I personally, think that maybe the small school quarterback who nobody heard about until the season ended is a leap of faith too large. If he works out, you'll hear nothing from praise from me, but it's unavoidable to view this kid as either a franchise-altering player or a waste of resources. If Romo had cost this much, and still failed to deliver a Lombardi to Dallas, would there be a single supporter left in Texas? If Manning's Giants had gotten knocked out in the NFC Championship games against the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers, do you think he would survive as a guaranteed starter? Wentz better work.
Favorite pick: Josh Doctson (WR, Round 1 - 22nd)
Least favorite pick: Su'a Cravens (OLB/SS, Round 2 - 53rd)
I would really like to diss on Washington's draft. They just won the division with an improbable season from Kirk Cousins. Week in, week out, I waited to see when he would mess up and cost them the game. I made jokes about how he wasn't a viable long-term starter. They still won the division, and now they come out of the draft without any crazy mistakes? This isn't fair.
There really wasn't a move I disliked. I listed Su'a Cravens up there, but really, it was just because it was my least favorite pick. Least favorite does not mean bad. I think landing Josh Doctson as a true No. 1 receiver was a smart move, because I never bought into Pierre Garcon or DeSean Jackson as anything more than complementary pieces. As difficult as it is to say this, Doctson may do for Washington was Odell Beckham has done for New York. That's got to scare you a little.
Right across the board, this team made moves that emphasized depth and development. Scot McCloughan has turned over a new leaf for the franchise, and everyone in the NFC East should be terrified. Somehow, he has managed to revamp a dismal team and push them past the bleak future many imagined when the RGIII trade ended with a Challenger-esque bang. Outside of giving Josh Norman a huge contract, there really isn't anything to compare with the teams of the last 5-10 years. I'm a little worried about saying this in print, but if the others aren't careful, Washington may go from one year wonder to consistent conference threat.