2015 Draft Needs: NFC East
Kev Connaghan looks through the NFC East, highlighting draft needs and some suggested answers.
2015 Draft Needs: NFC East
The 2015 NFL draft is finally at hand and here at PFF we are more prepared for it than we’ve ever been. In tallying a full season of FBS data we’ve been able to present you with tons of info at our College Football Focus home page on the soon-to-be NFL rookies that will soon be appearing at training camps across the league.
Armed with this information we’re suggesting viable targets at key positions of need for all the teams, here for the NFC East:
Early Round Target: Todd Gurley, Georgia
The Cowboys have parted ways with the league’s leading rusher DeMarco Murray, and lack a surefire replacement on the current roster. The offensive line play was stellar in 2014 and there is little reason to expect a drop-off in 2015, so it’s possible that the right back could find instant production, and Todd Gurley could well be the “right” back. Gurley led the nation with 3.98 yards after contact per carry against Power 5 teams in 2014, and his knee injury has reportedly healed well enough that he can hit the ground running.
Early Round Target: Quinten Rollins, Miami (OH)
The Cowboys have lost Sterling Moore and gained Corey White so far this offseason, which would appear to be a downgrade. They have the numbers at corner to cope, but could stand to add some additional talent for 2015 and beyond. In Quinten Rollins they would be adding a corner who has displayed natural play making skills (eight picks in 2014), but who may need a little time to develop having only played one season of football in college. When quarterbacks threw his way they had an NFL passer rating of 46.9, which was eighth-best in the FBS.
Early Round Target: Xavier Cooper, Washington State
Henry Melton’s departure leaves a need for a sub-package pass rusher in the middle of the line, a need that wasn’t addressed in free agency. Xavier Cooper has an explosive first step which he puts to good use as a pass rusher. He either sacked or hit the quarterback on 4.9% of his pass rushes, which was the second best rate in this DT class. Cooper did struggle in run defense for the Cougars, but should be able to slot right in as a rotational pass rusher.
New York Giants
Early Round Target: La’el Collins, LSU
The Giants offensive line struggled in 2014, particularly when it came to opening holes in the running game. They could certainly use interior help and one way to achieve that would be to draft a tackle like La’el Collins, and either play him at guard, or slide Pugh inside. Collins allowed pressure on just 1.6% of his snaps in pass protection, the best rate in this offensive tackle class.
Early Round Target: Eric Rowe, Utah
The Giants go into the draft having only two safeties with playing time on their roster, Nat Berhe and Chandler Fenner, and they have 38 career snaps between them. Eric Rowe split time between safety and corner while at Utah, and has the speed, length, and physicality to have a chance in either spot in the NFL, making him an ideal candidate to replace Antrel Rolle in the Giants’ defense. In 2014 Rowe allowed a 40.4 catch rate on passes into his coverage which was the third-best rate in this cornerback class.
Early Round Target: A.J. Tarpley, Stanford
Linebacker has been a need in New York for what seems like forever. Last year’s fifth-round pick, Devon Kennard, proved to be a hit as a rookie in 2014, but that hasn’t entirely solved the issue. A.J. Tarpley played inside linebacker in Stanford’s 3-4 defense, and coped well with all facets of the role. He had the third-highest tackling efficiency among ILBs, missing just one of every 29 attempted tackles.
Early Round Target: Dorial Green-Beckham, Oklahoma
Having lost DeSean Jackson last year, and Jeremy Maclin this year, the Eagles could use an influx of talent at the receiver position, adding Dorial Green-Beckham would be a strong start. Standing at 6-foot-5, and around 240 pounds, the powerful Green-Beckham has a huge catching radius which he puts to good use, proving to be a dangerous red zone weapon for Missouri in 2013. Off-the-field concerns will certainly be a consideration, but if the team is comfortable with him in that regard, he would provide a rather sizeable boost to their receiving options.
Early Round Target: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
Did we say they need a receiver? Because we really mean it. The Eagles could certainly go back-to-back with receivers in this draft, and Tyler Lockett would give them a very different sort of player to Green-Beckham. The dynamic Lockett has the quickness and wiggle to get open on short routes and turn them into large gains, but he also has the speed to go deep. He finished 2014 with a 50% catch rate on deep passes, which was sixth-best in the FBS.
Early Round Target: Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern
The Eagles had secondary issues in 2014 and responded by letting three of the four starters walk. They have brought in new corners, but have yet to replace safety Nate Allen and could look to Ibraheim Campbell in the third to do just that. Campbell missed just five tackles in 2014 which was tied for ninth-fewest among safeties. He is comfortable in the box, but also has some experience as a half field safety, which is what the Eagles have been using.
Early Round Target: Vic Beasley, Clemson
The Redskins have been actively strengthening their defensive front this offseason, but have yet to address the loss of rush linebacker Brian Orakpo. Trent Murphy was an early selection a year ago, but he didn’t show the pass-rushing prowess of Vic Beasley. They obviously have one starting outside linebacker spot nailed down with Ryan Kerrigan, but would add some instant dynamism to their pass rush if they could line Beasley in sub-packages. Beasley had 33 pressures when lining up on the right side, which was third best for 4-3 DEs.
Early Round Target: Landon Collins, Alabama
The Redskins have already added Dalshon Goldson and Jeron Johnson, but neither is a sure thing, and such was the need at safety that they could do with yet more help in the form of Landon Collins. Collins graded equally well against run and pass, and was the second-highest graded safety in this draft class. His size and physicality project well to strong safety, but Collins has the athleticism to be more than that.
Early Round Target: Ty Sambrailo, Colorado State
The Redskins offensive line has been trending in the right direction, but right tackle has remained a problem position. Tom Compton returns as the presumptive starter, but they could use some competition for his spot in the form of Ty Sambrailo. Sambrailo had a period of five straight games, from Week 9 to Week 14, without allowing a single pressure, and gave up just one sack all season. There are standard of competition concerns, but even if he isn’t ready to start right immediately, he can provide depth while he develops.