The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

2011 NFC East Draft Grades: Which Team Did Best?

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Jonathan Bales

I have already provided grades for each of the Cowboys’ eight 2011 draft picks, as well as an overall grade of a “C+” for the entire class.  To be honest, I would raise that grade to a “B-” after watching more tape and learning more about the prospects.  While I disagree with a few of the selections, you cannot argue with the team’s emphasis on high-character, hard-working players who fit into Jason Garrett’s scheme and overall philosophy.  Perhaps the ‘Boys are finally learning to create a solid team, not just a great collection of talented players.

These were the four points I took away from the Cowboys’ 2011 draft:

1) The Cowboys drafted primarily for value over need.  I’ve explained in the pastwhy selecting the best player available can be disadvantageous to a team.

2) DeMarco Murray’s presence seals Marion Barber’s fate in Dallas.  Let’s hope the same is true of Marc Colombo (Tyron Smith), and even Keith Brooking (Bruce Carter).

3) The ‘Boys emphasized hard-working, high-character players in this draft, which is great.  This may be a draft class that appears poor in 2011 but turns out to be solid in a few years, as many of the prospects seem like the type to work as hard as possible to become great.  Every single one of these players has the potential to be a Sean Lee-like worker and leader.

4) The Cowboys are clearly confident they can acquire a starting free safety in free agency.  With the weakness of this draft class, I think passing on a safety was fine.

A reader asked me to take a look at the draft classes for the other NFC East teams and provide my thoughts.  While properly assessing each individual pick would be difficult (I’m not going to just throw out a grade for late-round prospects I have not seen play), an overall team grade is workable.

Philadelphia Eagles

Selections
Round 1- Danny Watkins, G, Baylor
Round 2- Jaiquawn Jarrett, S, Temple
Round 3- Curtis Marsh, CB, Utah State
Round 4- Casey Matthews, ILB, Oregon
Round 4- Alex Henery, K, Nebraska
Round 5- Dion Lewis, RB, Pitt
Round 5- Justin Vandervelde, G, Iowa
Round 6- Jason Kelce, C, Cincinnati
Round 6- Brian Rolle, LB, Ohio State
Round 7- Greg Lloyd, LB, UConn
Round 7- Stanley Havili, FB, USC

Best Pick: Dion Lewis, RB, Pitt

I loved Lewis (past tense, now), ranking him as my No. 5 running back and No. 43 overall player on my Big Board.  I think the idea that running backs need to “complement” one another is flawed.  Lewis fits what the Eagles do very well.

Worst Pick: Danny Watkins, G, Baylor

I was honestly shocked at this selection.  Watkins will be 27 years old this season.  No. 76 on my board.

Overall Analysis

The Eagles are always among the teams with the most draft picks, which has been shown to be slightly correlated with a higher winning percentage.  I generally like the team’s drafting philosophy, but some of their picks in 2011 do not make sense to me.  Aside from Watkins, Philly also drafted an inside linebacker in Casey Matthews who I thought was borderline draftable.  I do like the selections of Jarrett and Havili, though.

Grade: C-

New York Giants

Selections


Round 1- Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Round 2- Marvin Austin, DT, UNC
Round 3- Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy
Round 4- James Brewer, OT, Indiana
Round 6-  Greg Jones, ILB, Michigan State
Round 6- Tyler Sash, SS, Iowa
Round 6- Jacquian Williams, LB, USF
Round 7- Da’Rel Scott, RB, Maryland

Best Pick: Marvin Austin, DT, UNC

Even though the Giants already have solid defensive tackles, they are getting old and Austin represented tremendous value in the second round.  He was really the player I wanted the ‘Boys to take at No. 40, but they went with Austin’s teammate instead.

Worst Pick: Tyler Sash, SS, Iowa

This is really pushing it, as I don’t really think the Giants had a “bad” draft pick.  They found value throughout their draft.  Nonetheless, I don’t like Sash’s game and I think he’s a safety of the past.

Overall Analysis

This was really a tremendous draft for New York.  Even though I wasn’t incredibly high on Prince Amukamara, I still had him at No. 17 on my board and he was worth the risk for the G-Men.  The Giants also secured players on whom I was high in Jerrel Jernigan, James Brewer and Greg Jones (No. 2 inside linebacker).  Da’Rel Scott possesses the upside you seek in a late-round prospect.

Grade: B+

Washington Redskins

Selections
Round 1- Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Round 2-  Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson
Round 3- Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami
Round 4- Roy Helu, RB, Nebraska
Round 5- Dejon Gomes, CB, Nebraska
Round 5-  Niles Paul, WR, Nebraska
Round 6- Evan Royster, RB, Penn State
Round 6- Aldrick Robinson, WR, SMU
Round 7- Brandyn Thompson, CB, Boise State
Round 7- Maurice Hurt, OL, Florida
Round 7-  Markus White, DE, FSU
Round 7- Chris Neild, NT, West Virginia

Best Pick: Niles Paul, WR, Nebraska

I was high enough on Paul to rank him as my No. 8 overall receiver.  I like his run-after-catch ability and think he could start in Washington almost immediately.

Worst Pick: Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson

This reeks of a pick on which the ‘Skins got desperate.  They needed a nose tackle in their 3-4, so they reached.  I think I had Jenkins going to Dallas in Round 5 or 6 in one of my mocks.

Overall Analysis

The Redskins finally got a bunch of draft picks, but they were mostly late in a weak draft class.  I think they missed an opportunity to acquire true impact players.  Pardon my language, but this draft class sucks.

Grade: D-

Overall NFC East 2011 Draft Class Rankings
1. New York Giants: B+
2. Dallas Cowboys: C+
3. Philadelphia Eagles: C-
4. Washington Redskins: D-

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5 Responses to 2011 NFC East Draft Grades: Which Team Did Best?

  1. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Helu for the Redskins will be solid.

    Also, I’d go w/ A- on NY’s draft. Jernigan is this years’ Percy Harvin and if he’s used correctly, could be a STEAL in the 3rd round. Also, Greg Jones as a MLB was a top performer in the 20 yd and 60 yd shuttle at the Combine – he’s a little undersized but flies around the ball well and had a tremendous year at Mich St. He had 464 tckls, 16 sacks, 3 FF and 2 INTs in the Big 10 which is primarily a running conference. He’s their new Antonio Pierce.

    I hate to admit but NY was very smart in their drafting.

  2. Vince_Grey says:

    JB – It’s perfectly acceptable, IMO, to adjust your grade after gathering more information. I think B- is dead on for the Cowboys at this stage.

    Skins grade seems a tad low, if only because I really like Kerrigan’s motor and upside. I’d go D+. All those 6th and 7th rounders didn’t impress me at all. Washington will be lucky if any are still around in 3 years.

    Agree with Tyrone that Giants had an A/A- draft. You know my feelings about taking DB’s high, but at 19 Prince A is a good deal, and I really like the other guys they took as well.

    To be fair to the Eagles (Gawd, did I really say that?) if you’re gonna take a 27 year old in a draft full of guys averaging five years younger, interior O-line is the place. Those positions seem more forgiving of players in their mid-to-late 30′s, so Watkins could still have a very productive 8-10 year career. However, I don’t see him as a great player no matter what, and I think the rest of their draft was spotty at best, so your grade still seems fair.

  3. starred4life says:

    The Skins draft looks a lot like our 2009 draft. Of course our 2009 draft didn’t have a first or second round selection. They better hope they get a better return on their investment than we did. Who knows, maybe this year some of those picks will start to pan out.

  4. john coleman says:

    I agree across the board with the exception of Washington.

    This feels wrong, arguing for the Skins. However I despise Philly and NY is a close 2nd. I guess the Skins have been sooo bad, you almost feel sorry for them. We actually need them to be good enough to win a few games, not against us, because it could help us.

    Moving on- If you look at the players the skins took vs. the needs they have and then figure in their history of overspending in FA, then maybe not so bad.
    1. They took several receivers. Hankerson was my favorite outside guy in the draft. So I expect big things from him. Paul is another guy that I thought would be a good fit in Dallas as a slot WR. Then there is Aldrick Robinson who has great speed and should be a good slot as well. I would give a B to B- on the wideouts.
    2. Same scenario on the RBs. They got Helu and Royster both of whom should make their team. Clearly Portis has been a disappointment, from a health standpoint. Plus replacing him saves big money. Royster may end up being a surprise. I would say no worse than a C-.
    3. Jenkins was a reach without a doubt and I agree with your assessment of him. However if he can do enough to be the sub and fill the void then he helps. I mean Haynesworth has to go. Then the kid from WVU has a shot to make the team.
    4. Kerrigan will surely help some. I didn’t like the guy because he has never played OLB and lacks DE size. If he can play OLB he could help. I feel he may have been their worst pick. D to D- for the reach on him as an OLB.
    5. Throw in the rest and if one or two make the team, to me they were successful. Again building thru the draft instead of FA is how this organization will get better longterm.

    If Philly’s grade was a C-, then I would rate Washington the same. IMO half of Philly’s picks won’t make the team.

  5. Mont Seventeen says:

    Look at the draft grades now… The Skins have some talent in this draft, eagles not so much. But as usual the skins will fire their coach and lose a bunch of talented guys like Ryan Clark. The Giants draft is solid the Boys draft depends on 1 player, Tron! If Tron is the next Jackie Slater or Jon Ogden who cares what any of the other guys do including D.Murray. 10 years from now Tron will be 30 and the leader of this team, build the team around him and this draft will be known as the building block!

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