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NFC East Draft Grades: Cowboys, Giants, Eagles and Redskins

By
The Sports Xchange

Grading an NFL Draft immediately after it occurs is akin to giving your compliments to the chef based on the menu.

It will take at least three years before we can truly assess how the 32 NFL teams fared this weekend. But waiting is no fun.

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As such, let's take a take at which teams appear to have done the best job of filling needs and building for the future via the seven rounds of the 2016 NFL draft.

Dallas Cowboys

Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott takes a selfie with Goodell after being selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI
The fourth overall pick on a running back -- any running back -- is rich, but Ezekiel Elliott should prove an immediate star for the Cowboys. A punishing runner with good vision, speed, hands and tenacity as a blocker, he is the easy early favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors given the talent surrounding him in Dallas. The Cowboys' other immediate impact players from this class could be middle-round defensive linemen Maliek Collins and Charles Tapper, each of whom possess more talent than their middling production in college might indicate. Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith's recovery from the horrific knee injury obviously is key to his future, but there is no denying his talent. He is not likely to contribute much this season but offers an exciting future as does quarterback Dak Prescott, drafted in the fourth round to potentially serve as the heir apparent to Tony Romo. Watch out for running back Darius Jackson, a terrific athlete who could excel if given a shot behind Dallas' offensive line.

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Grade: B

New York Giants

Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple walks onto the stage after being selected by the New York Giants with the tenth overall pick. Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI
The Giants' selection of Ohio State's Eli Apple was one of the big surprises of the first round, but some scouts believe he will ultimately prove the best corner of this draft. Given the big investments made along the defensive line in free agency, the decision to boost that side of the ball even further made sense in the second round when the club nabbed future plug-and-play slot receiver Sterling Shepard, whose quickness, speed and toughness remind scouts of Seahawks second-year wideout and return extraordinaire Tyler Lockett, a Pro Bowler as a rookie. Safety Darian Thompson has the hands and range to be a classic center fielder in the NFL, boasting an NCAA-best 19 interceptions during his career, but he was prone to missed tackles at Boise State, the opposite of fourth-round, run-stuffing linebacker B.J. Goodson. Running back Paul Perkins starred at UCLA, but questions about whether his production was inflated by the Bruins' spread attack pushed him down the board. He is a slasher with the agility, speed and hands to help New York's offense, however.

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Grade: C

Philadelphia Eagles

North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the second overall pick. Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI
Kudos to the Eagles for the aggressive trade-up to land Carson Wentz, who possesses the athletic tools to succeed in Doug Pederson's offense as well as the intangibles needed to handle the pressure of Philadelphia. Like many, I was skeptical of Wentz's production against FCS competition until watching him in person at the Senior Bowl. Durability was an issue for Wentz at NDSU as it was for the Eagles' next pick, blocker Isaac Seumalo. Like Wentz, however, the talent with Seumalo is obvious, with his best fit in the NFL inside at guard rather than left tackle as he was asked to play, at times, for the Beavers. Of the Eagles' six day three selections, I'm highest on former LSU defensive back Jalen Mills and TCU offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Running back Wendell Smallwood could also surprise.
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Grade: B

Washington Redskins

TCU WR Josh Doctson poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Washington Redskins with the 22nd overall pick. Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI
Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan is one of the NFL's premier talent evaluators, focusing on players who might lack ideal measurable but never instincts, toughness and competitiveness. Those are some of the traits that describe his haul of wideout Josh Doctson in the first round, edge rusher Su'a Cravens in the second, cornerback Kendall Fuller in the third and defensive tackle Matt Ioannides in the fifth. Doctson was the best receiver in the draft when it comes to body control and high-pointing passes, and with the Redskins building their offense around Kirk Cousins (who lacks elite arm strength), it was imperative to get him a reliable possession receiver. Adding a big developmental passer like Indiana's Nate Sudfeld is a worthwhile investment as was the flyer on speedy Georgia running back Keith Marshall.

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Grade: B+

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