Breaking down the NFC East

NFC East

This is the second in a series about the NFL Draft, which will be held April 26 and 27.<br><br> <b> Today:</b> The NFC East

Dallas: The Cowboys added head coach Bill Parcells and a new philosophy. Like him or not, Parcells will bring some discipline to Dallas and take some of the spotlight away from Jerry Jones. The Cowboys have lost free agent defensive end/linebacker Kevin Hardy and released Emmitt Smith in move that is a PR nightmare. But it has brought in some solid players in offensive tackle Ryan Young, tight end Dan Campbell and pass catching running back Richie Anderson. Flozell Adams also re-signed, while Parcells shocked everyone by trading with Green Bay for wide receiver Terry Glenn.

This is a team with several glaring needs, quarterback and running back heading that list. But Parcells is a defense-first guy and the Cowboys will likely go after a defensive tackle or end with their top pick, the fifth-overall choice. After his less-than-stellar workouts, the Cowboys could get a shot at sack specialist Terrell Suggs. Defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy is also a possibility if he drops here. If those two are off the board, the Cowboys would be hard pressed to pass on corner Terrance Newman even though defensive back is not a need. William Joseph and Kevin Williams are also possibilities.

New York Giants: Giants General Manager Ernie Acorsi has been a busy man mostly re-signing his own players. The Giants have added Philadelphia return man extraordinaire Brian Mitchell, Cleveland defensive tackle Ryan Kuehl and Seattle punter Jeff Feagles. Acorsi has also re-signed several players, notably, wide receivers Ron Dixon and Ike Hilliard, offensive tackles Luke Pettigout and Barrett Brooks and safety Omar Stoutmire. Backup tight end Dan Campbell, right tackle Mike Rosenthal and guard Jason Whittle have left as free agents, while the team released cornerback Jason Sehorn in a salary-cap move.

Opponents averaged 4.5 yards per carry against the G-men last season and the team could use an influx of young talent up in its front seven. With the 25th-overall pick in the first round, the Giants aren't going to get one of the top defensive linemen, but Acorsi could reach back to his Penn State roots to grab Penn State defensive end Michael Haynes. If not Haynes, Chris Kelsay is a possibility. If they choose to go defensive tackle, Rien Long or Kenny Peterson could be the pick.

Philadelphia: This is a team that has been ravaged by free agency like the Steelers of the '90s. Gone are linebacker Shawn Barber, return man Brian Mitchell, linebacker Barry Garnder, defensive end Hugh Douglas and guard Doug Brzezinski. The team also released safety Blaine Bishop and fullback Cecil Martin. The only free agent signings have been fullback Jon Ritchie and linebacker Nate Wayne. The team also traded with Atlanta for linebacker Mark Simoneau, while re-signing tight end Terry Bartum and backup quarterback Koy Detmer.

This is an important draft for the Eagles. The free agent losses will mount and the window of opportunity may go shut soon. The trade for Simoneau and the signing of Wayne lessens the need for a linebacker, but doesn't solve the problem. A replacement for Douglas is also a big need. Getting QB Donovan McNabb another receiver wouldn't hurt, either.

Picking at No. 30 in the first round, the Eagles could go a number of directions. If they want a linebacker, E.J. Henderson should be available. Defensive linemen Michael Haynes, Chris Kelsay, Kenny Peterson or Cory Redding could also be there. Taylor Jacobs, if he falls this far, would be hard to pass up. The bottom line is, the Eagles have enough needs, that they have to take the best player available at one of those need positions.

Washington: Where do you start with the Redskins? Head coach Steve Spurrier and owner Daniel Snyder are spending money like a couple of sailors on leave and re-working the team's entire roster. The team released running back Stephen Davis, safety Sam Shade and place kicker Brett Conway, while defensive tackle Darryl Gardner, quarterback Shane Mattews, defensive end Carl Powell and wide receiver Derrius Thompson signed elsewhere. Spurrier traded for enigmatic St. Louis running back Trung Canidate. He's also signed wide receiver Laveraneus Coles (a restricted free agent), quarterback Rob Johnson, wide receiver Patrick Johnson, defensive tackle Brandon Noble and guard Randy Thomas, while re-signing guard Tre Johnson and safety Matt Bowen.

Having shipped the No. 13-overall pick to the Jets for Coles, the Redskins won't pick until the 12th pick in the second round, 44th overall. Defensive line is a need, while Spurrier also likes to collect wide receiver. If the team thinks Canidate is the answer at running back, it's sorely mistaken, so a running back is also a possibility. It's difficult to say who will be available this low that Spurrier will like, but Clemson defensive tackle Nick Eason is a possibility, as are Texas A&M defensive tackle Ty Warren and Wake Forest defensive end Calvin Pace.

By Dale Lolley
SteelCitySports.com

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