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