In this week’s NFL Draft Notebook, we preview the NFC East and make ten predictions of what will happen in 2023. These predictions include Micah Parsons leading the NFL in sacks, the Eagles returning to the NFC Championship, and the Commanders moving in a different direction after the season.
In addition to looking at the NFC East, this week’s article also previews the 2024 offensive guard class, reexamines a loaded 2020 guard class, and much more. Follow along at NFLMocks as we continue our “predictions” series leading up to the regular season.
NFC East Predictions
No. 1: Micah Parsons will lead the NFL in sacks
Last season, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons finished sixth in the NFL with 14.5 sacks. Look for that number to increase this year due to opponents having to pass more often against the Cowboys. Teams will be forced to throw the ball more thanks to an improved rush defense that will be helped by the addition of first-round pick Mazi Smith. Parsons also has the talent to take advantage of these opportunities, finishing with a 92.0 pass-rushing grade last year.
No. 2: Deuce Vaughn will rush for at least 500 yards as a rookie
Look for Dallas to run the ball even more after finishing seventh in the NFL in rushes per game last season. The main reason is head coach Mike McCarthy. He will be calling plays in 2023 and has vowed to be a run-first offense. Depth at this position could be an issue for the Cowboys, though, after the team let go of Ezekiel Elliott, who led the team in carries last year. One person Dallas will look to pick up that slack is sixth-round pick, Deuce Vaughn. While Vaughn will be a backup to Tony Pollard, his quick and elusive running style should allow him to get plenty of carries as the No. 2 option.
No. 3: The Giants will miss the playoffs
While the New York Giants upgraded their roster this offseason, look for the team to have a worse record in 2023. The main reason is how they looked at the end of the season, only winning two of their final eight games. New York also will be hurt by an average defense that gave up 23 points a game and lost one of their leaders, Julian Love. Big Blue faces an uphill climb in the NFC East.
NFC East Predictions Continue With A New Tight End In The Division
No. 4: Darren Waller will lead the Giants in receptions
The best move New York made this offseason was trading for Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller. When healthy, Waller has been one of the most productive tight ends in the NFL. He caught 107 passes in 2020, which was the last time he played a full season. If the gifted pass catcher can stay on the field, expect him to be Daniel Jones’s No. 1 target. Catching at least 80 passes this year is well within reach.
No. 5: The Eagles will make it to the NFC Championship
Last year, the Philadelphia Eagles proved to be one of the best teams in the NFL; this year will be more of the same. However, they will not get past the San Francisco 49ers in this year’s NFC Championship. The main reason is the Niners will be able to take advantage of the Eagles’ average run defense, and San Fran will also be able to keep its quarterback healthy.
No. 6: Jalen Hurts will be more of a pocket passer
Jalen Hurts has improved as a passer each year in his NFL career. He went from a 52 percent passer as a rookie to completing 67% of his passes in 2023. Hurts has also witnessed his interception ratio drop each season, and due to these reasons, look for Philadelphia to use him more as a passer while trying to limit his carries. The team will want to keep its prize piece healthy, especially since he was banged up at the end of the previous campaign.
No. 7: Nolan Smith will be the Eagles’ top rookie
While Jalen Carter was the team’s top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, look for Nolan Smith to make more of an impact in Year 1. The biggest reason is Smith’s dynamic ability as a pass rusher. You can count on the former Bulldog giving 100 percent effort every play. Expect the athletic freak to get at least three sacks this year as his playing time steadily increases.
Predictions Roll On As The Eagles Target A Familiar Program At The 2024 NFL Draft
No. 8: The Eagles will draft at least two players from Georgia in the 2024 NFL Draft
The Philadelphia Eagles have taken five Georgia Bulldogs since the 2022 NFL Draft, including three this past April. Look for this trend to continue in the 2024 NFL Draft. Some of the Georgia prospects who could make sense for the Eagles include: center Sedrick Van Pran, safety Javon Bullard, and linebacker Smael Mondon Jr.
No. 9: Ron Rivera will be fired on Black Monday
Look for new Washington Commanders’ owner Josh Harris to move on from head coach Ron Rivera after this season. He is going to want to bring in a guy who can clean up the culture in Washington. It also doesn’t help that Rivera has not had a winning record in three years; a trend that will continue when the Commanders finish dead last in the NFC East. Predictions aren’t always sunshine and rainbows!
No. 10: This will be Chase Young’s last year in Washington
One of the biggest mistakes in Washington’s history is winning the last game of the 2019 season. This win cost the team a chance at Joe Burrow, and instead, led to them drafting Chase Young. While Young had a promising start to his NFL career — winning Defensive Rookie of the Year — he has only accounted for 1.5 sacks since 2021. The former Buckeye has battled numerous injuries over the past two seasons, having only played in 12 games over that span. It is time for both sides to move on.