Jimmy: They did nothing in terms of outside free agents. The only guy that may see the field at all would be Justin Durant, who may start at SLB, but will be the first guy off the field in most sub-packages. There’s a sense that a bunch of their draft picks will see action right away. I don’t see it that way. Their first-round pick Travis Frederick should start at C from Day One, but aside from him, I’m not seeing how any of their other picks are going to have immediate impact roles as rookies.
Fennelly: The cap sanctions really hurt, but the Cowboys pushed their chips to the middle of the Tony Romo table and locked themselves into a certain future. They appear to be limited cap-wise and traded down in the draft obviously to save money. No free agent adds of significance. The choice of Frederick in the first round was a questionable one followed by the selection of TE Gavin Escobar, who probably could have been gotten in the next round. In time, he may make a difference. The rest of the draft looks pretty solid, especially the selection of OSU RB Joseph Randle in Round Six. With DeMarco Murray's history of injuries, Randle could be called into action sooner than expected. Will they be better this year? Can't see how, but you never know.
New York Giants
Jimmy: I would think John can handle the Giants just fine, but I’ll throw in my $.02. They’ll hope Justin Pugh can start immediately at RT, and I think he can. DT Jonathan Hankins will play run downs only. DE Damontre Moore may get some chances in certain NASCAR sets. Love the acquisitions of DTs Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson, but especially Patterson. Giants stunk against the run last year, and if Patterson is healthy, he’ll help them drastically in that department. Truly underrated player. You can’t move him. And he has killed the Giants for years:
But obviously, his healthy is the biggest factor. Also loved the TE Brandon Myers signing. He isn’t fast, and he’s a below average blocker. But he’ll always be where he needs to be, and he won’t drop passes. He is a perfect compliment to Eli Manning and the Giants’ WRs.
Fennelly: It's not about who they brought in as much as it is who they didn't. The Giants needed to upgrade at MLB and chose Dan Connor over other free agents and then did not address the issue in the draft. At CB, the team is hoping two former high round picks - Aaron Ross and Terrell Thomas - can add some much-needed stability to the secondary. They threw a lot of new bodies at their DT problem, now let's see if it worked. Of the players the Giants brought in, I agree Myers is an upgrade over Martellus Bennett and Moore, if all goes right, could be the team's next great pass rusher. Will they be as good as they were in 2012? I say they could win ten games if all breaks their way.
Jimmy: They couldn’t do anything in free agency because they were up against the cap like the Giants and Cowboys. In the draft, they picked three DBs who are all ballhawks (David Amerson, Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo). None of them tackle well. I’m not sure how much those guys will see the field.
The guy to look out for is H-Back Jordan Reed. He was their 3rd round pick. He’s awesome after the catch just like two of their receivers, Josh Morgan and Pierre Garcon. If your secondary can’t tackle, the Redskins will destroy you.
Fennelly: They draw a first-place schedule this year, so they'll be no reprieve for RGIII, who is returning from knee surgery. That is why backup QB Kirk Cousins is the most important figure in the division IMO. He may be called on more often than expected this season. The Redskins have a powerful offense, and signed OT Jeremy Trueblood as a free agent to help protect RGIII. Why they drafted two 5'7" RBs (Chris Thompson, Jawan Jamison) is kind of puzzling. Will they be as good, or better, than they were in 2012? I say probably not. Teams will be better prepared for them this year.
Jimmy: This is the team with by far the most change, and that’s always going to happen with a new regime. For one, they’re moving either to a 3-4 or some kind of 3-4 / 4-3 hybrid. Connor Barwin will start at OLB. Cary Williams will start at CB, and possibly Bradley Fletcher at CB on the other side. The starting safeties will likely be some combination of Patrick Chung, Kenny Phillips and Nate Allen. To be determined if the new secondary can cover, but they’ll definitely hit, unlike guys like Nnamdi Asomugha and DRC.
Lane Johnson will start at RT from Day 1, and Zach Ertz will see plenty of playing time. Look for the Eagles to heavily utilize their TEs. They now have Brent Celek, James Casey, and Ertz, The thinking is that they’ll look to utilize a hurry-up offense, moving their TEs all over the field, trying to create mismatches for the D both in the run game and passing game, similar to what the Pats do.
Fennelly: The Andy Reid era seems so long ago, now, doesn't it? This team has gone through a major overhaul. Excellent moves all around to launch the Chip Kelly era. Not sure what they see in Kenny Phillips, but to each his own. IMO they had the best draft in the league this year. Solid picks that should all contribute at some point, if not right away. Still uncertain on the defensive scheme, but the talent is there to do whatever they choose. On offense, Kelly loves to run things at a quick-pace, so which QB will help him do that? Matt Barkley was not drafted to watch, so we may see him this year at some point. How will they fare this season? No matter what, they should best their four-win season from a year ago.