NFL Draft Class Recaps - NFC East
NFL Draft Class Recaps - NFC East
Written by: Aaron Ussery
Round 1, Pick 24 - Tyler Smith, IOL, Tulsa
Smith was a surprise to some, less so to others. Many pundits had him ranked as the draft's OT4 behind Ekwonu, Neal, and Cross. However, departure of Connor Williams in free agency left a job at left guard for Smith, where his natural strength and ferocious playstyle will be better highlighted.
Round 2, Pick 56 - Sam Williams, EDGE, Ole Miss
Williams was a player many had taken off their boards entirely due to some disturbing allegations of sexual assault. The Cowboys clearly weren't one of those teams, as they snagged Williams several rounds ahead of where I expected him to go. The base defensive end role opposite of DeMarcus Lawrence is up for grabs in the wake of Randy Gregory's departure, and Williams has the tools to claim that job.
Round 3, Pick 88 - Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama
Tolbert landed in a good spot with the Cowboys. Amari Cooper was traded away for a sack of peanuts, and Michael Gallup likely won't be back to 100% until midway through the upcoming season. Somebody needs to produce opposite of CeeDee Lamb, and Tolbert offers a "ball-winner" skillset that could help him stand out from the likes of James Washington and Noah Brown.
Round 4, Pick 129 - Jake Ferguson, TE, Wisconsin
This one feels like a classic insurance policy. Dalton Schultz was given the franchise tag this offseason, and with the suddenly explosive tight end market there's a good chance he plays elsewhere come 2023. Ferguson possesses a similar skillset to fifth-year vet as a big, tall possession target and a capable blocker.
Round 5, Pick 155 - Matt Waletzko, OT, North Dakota
A similar "project" to last year's fifth round pick Josh Ball, Waletzko has a very high ceiling if he can be properly groomed. Tyron Smith and Terence Steele are the likely starters in 2022, but both Ball and Waletzko offer some really intriguing traits and could surprise if they wind up being forced into action for whatever reason.
Round 5, Pick 167 - DaRon Bland, CB, Fresno State
A textbook Dan Quinn style of corner, Bland struggles with stiffness in his hips but has exceptional length and improved his ball production each year at Fresno State. He should have no trouble sticking on the roster as a depth piece and could find his way onto the field as Quinn shuffles things around in order to find that capable outside starter opposite of Trevon Diggs.
Round 5, Pick 176 - Damone Clark, LB, LSU
Clark continues the Cowboys history of drafting linebackers with medical red flags. He underwent a spinal fusion surgery in the offseason that will cost him his rookie year. But the future at middle linebacker beyond Micah Parsons is far from settled for this team. Leighton Vander Esch returned to the team on a one-year deal, and if he isn't retained then there's a chance for open competition at the WILL spot come 2023 should Clark be physically up for it.
Round 5, Pick 178 - John Ridgeway, IDL, Arkansas
Yes, Jerry Jones took an Arkansas guy -- but there's more to this pick than alma mater pride. Ridgeway is an oak tree in the middle of the defensive line, standing 6'5" and weighing in at 320 lbs. He projects best as a two-gapping nose tackle -- where the team currently has Trysten Hill (who has struggled to stay on the field) and Quinton Bohanna (who has just simply struggled). I wouldn't be shocked if Ridgeway ends up taking the majority of snaps at NT this upcoming season.
Round 6, Pick 193 - Devin Harper, LB, Oklahoma State
Harper is the type of guy you take in the sixth round for sub-package and special teams value. He doesn't currently have the instincts to start for you on defense, but possesses the straight line speed and hair-on-fire playstyle that you want from a gunner or kick coverage specialist.
New York Giants
Round 1, Pick 5 - Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Possibly the draft's most exciting pass rusher, if not the outright best. Thibodeaux is a great fit for Wink Martindale's scheme, which loves to manufacture pressure with creative and devastating blitz packages. KT's first step is elite, and he wins primarily by converting speed to power and barreling over offensive tackles. He starts immediately opposite of Azeez Ojulari, and I think has a great chance to win Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Round 1, Pick 7 - Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
New GM Joe Schoen continues the Buffalo mentality by building through the trenches. Neal was the draft's best tackle in my opinion, having the best blend of pass blocking and run blocking prowess. The early assumption is Neal will start at right tackle opposite of 2020 first round pick Andrew Thomas, finally giving Daniel Jones a reliable pair of bookend tackles. Whether or not that's enough to help him take the next step remains to be seen, but this was the correct pick regardless of what happens next.
Round 2, Pick 43 - Wan'dale Robinson, WR, Kentucky
A bit of a head scratcher in terms of value and fit, Robinson is less of a true wide receiver and more of a "satellite" weapon. He has a skillset similar to that of Kadarius Toney, who may well be on the way out via trade. I think Robinson likely reminded new coach Brian Daboll of Bills weapon Isaiah McKenzie, a player with excellent YAC ability whom he can utilize both out of the slot and on jet sweeps and screens.
Round 3, Pick 67 - Joshua Ezeudu, IOL, North Carolina
One of the more underrated guard prospects in this year's draft, Ezeudu has the upside of a starter and could very well push Shane Lemieux for the left guard spot. Even if he doesn't, he offers a much cheaper backup option than either Max Garcia or Jamil Douglas.