Free agency has predictably thrown a wrench into the perfectly conducted 2014 NFL draft strategies. Following their moves, what is new for the NFC East?
New York Giants – Justin Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard could bolster secondary
Changes were needed in several key areas for the New York Giants and free agency allowed them to act. Jon Beason was retained and Jameel McClain brought in to bolster the linebacker while Geoff Schwartz and J.D. Walton added critical beef to an undermanned offensive line. The one area that hasn’t seen much action is the secondary, especially cornerback. That could mean the team is setting their sights on top 2014 NFL draft options like Justin Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard. Both are long, athletic and thrive in physical press coverage. They would bring much needed young blood to that secondary.
Dallas Cowboys – Aaron Donald and Kony Ealy fill key need
Being strapped for cash has been really hurting the Dallas Cowboys in free agency. Their area of need, the defensive line, remains largely unfixed and it’s really coming down to whether they can find some answers before the market runs dry. There is hope they can sign former Bears like Henry Melton which would lend a big hand to easing the issue but in reality their draft strategy hasn’t changed much. They need more playmakers up front. Aaron Donald of Pitt is a perfect fit at the three-technique defensive tackle spot for Rod Marinelli while Kony Ealy of Missouri could provide that needed edge rusher they lost with the dismissal of DeMarcus Ware.
Washington Redskins – Jimmie Ward adds playmaker on back end
Unlike years past it seems the Washington Redskins are taking a more measured approach to the free agency period. They have done a nice job filling some of their roster holes by bringing in veterans like Jason Hatcher and Tracy Porter while retaining Brian Orakpo to help a defense that was deplorable in 2013. One area left untouched that is perhaps the most glaring issue on that side of the ball is safety. Washington badly needs a playmaker on the back end. Since they don’t pick until the beginning of the second round they would do well to pinpoint Northern Illinois standout Jimmie Ward. Despite being slightly undersized he has loads of range and has flashed constantly as someone who can track and go get the football.
Philadelphia Eagles – Dee Ford offers needed young pass rusher
Their splashiest move of free agency was trading for Darren Sproles but the Philadelphia Eagles did a nice job improving on the defensive side as well, particularly in the secondary where they added Malcolm Jenkins at safety and Nolan Carroll at corner. The one area they haven’t been able to address is finding a pass rusher at outside linebacker. That could mean they will use the 2014 NFL draft to find one, and it’s a class that appears quite rich in them. Based on their positioning at #22 they have a reasonably good chance to make a play for Auburn standout Dee Ford who shined throughout the pre-draft process. He is explosive off the snap and has a variety of ways he can beat blockers to the quarterback.