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Mattyk 04-27-2008 07:38 PM

NFC East: Giants might have a steal; Boys, Skins shrewd
[URL="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/draft08/columns/story?columnist=walker_james&id=3370782"]ESPN - NFC East: Giants might have a steal; Boys, Skins shrewd - NFL[/URL]

The Super Bowl champion [URL="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/clubhouse?team=nyg"]New York Giants[/URL] and two other playoff teams came from the NFC East in 2007. This weekend in the NFL draft, the division's four teams fortified themselves.

This was one of two divisions in football not to have a team with a losing record, as the [URL="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/clubhouse?team=phi"]Philadelphia Eagles[/URL] brought up the rear in the NFC East last season with an 8-8 slate.

All indications point to another brutal battle this year, making it imperative that each team drafted successfully to keep up the competitive balance.
Here is a breakdown of this weekend's draft within the NFC East:

[B]Best move[/B]
After failing to land [URL="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/clubhouse?team=cin"]Cincinnati Bengals[/URL] receiver [URL="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=5483"]Chad Johnson[/URL] in a trade last week, the [URL="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/clubhouse?team=was"]Washington Redskins[/URL] did a great job of upgrading the position by taking Michigan State's [URL="http://insider.espn.go.com/nfldraft/draft/tracker/player?draftyear=2008&id=12247"]Devin Thomas[/URL] and Oklahoma's [URL="http://insider.espn.go.com/nfldraft/draft/tracker/player?draftyear=2008&id=12143"]Malcolm Kelly[/URL] in the second round.

Thomas and Kelly were considered among the top three receiving prospects, and the Redskins landed both by trading out of the first round to gain a pair of second-round picks. Rookie head coach Jim Zorn will implement a West Coast offense in Washington and needs big targets at receivers who can make plays after the catch. Thomas and Kelly fit the bill as both are over 6-feet and 200 pounds. Drafting these two players puts the Johnson pursuit to rest, but it's a pretty good consolation. [B]

Riskiest move[/B]
The Giants put themselves in position to hit a home-run by taking Michigan receiver [URL="http://insider.espn.go.com/nfldraft/draft/tracker/player?draftyear=2008&id=12156"]Mario Manningham[/URL] in the third round. But they also can strike out with this pick.

There is no doubt that Manningham has first-round talent. He set a Michigan record with six consecutive 100-yard receiving games as a junior. Physically he's one of the top receivers in the draft, yet character concerns caused him to fall into the third round.

Coming off a Super Bowl victory over the [URL="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/clubhouse?team=nwe"]New England Patriots[/URL], the veteran-laden Giants might be the right team to get the most out of Manningham. Obviously, New York general manager Jerry Reese did enough homework to determine it was worth the risk.

If the Giants are correct, Manningham could be one of this year's biggest draft steals.

[B]Most surprising move[/B]
The [URL="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/clubhouse?team=dal"]Dallas Cowboys[/URL], usually big risk-takers, surprised this weekend by playing it close to the vest and taking safe players to fill needs.

This is not a bad thing.

Usually it is difficult to guess what owner Jerry Jones will do in the draft, especially with two first-round picks at his disposal. Dallas drafted Arkansas running back [URL="http://insider.espn.go.com/nfldraft/draft/tracker/player?draftyear=2008&id=12154"]Felix Jones[/URL], South Florida cornerback [URL="http://insider.espn.go.com/nfldraft/draft/tracker/player?draftyear=2008&id=11730"]Mike Jenkins[/URL] with those two first-round selections and Texas A&M tight end [URL="http://insider.espn.go.com/nfldraft/draft/tracker/player?draftyear=2008&id=12201"]Martellus Bennett[/URL] in the second round.

Those selections helped address needs.

Sure, the Cowboys made a rash of trades with their lower-round picks. But other than that it was a safe and efficient weekend for Dallas.

Washington also surprised by taking USC tight end [URL="http://insider.espn.go.com/nfldraft/draft/tracker/player?draftyear=2008&id=11742"]Fred Davis[/URL] in the second round, considering the team has a Pro Bowl at the position in [URL="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=6840"]Chris Cooley[/URL]. The Redskins could have used the pick on a higher-rated offensive or defensive linemen.

[B]File it away[/B]
Former Cal receiver [URL="http://insider.espn.go.com/nfldraft/draft/tracker/player?draftyear=2008&id=12139"]Desean Jackson[/URL] is a draft pick of the [URL="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/clubhouse?team=phi"]Philadelphia Eagles[/URL]. He is a burner who has the ability to be a starter, especially with Philly's thin receiving group. But Jackson is recovering from a thumb injury that he suffered in college that scared some teams off. Size also is an issue. Jackson is just under 5-10 and weighs 170 pounds.

Despite the risky selection of Manningham, New York overall was solid.
The team is trying to build off the momentum of last year's tremendous draft that included cornerback [URL="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=8274"]Aaron Ross[/URL], tight end [URL="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=8407"]Kevin Boss[/URL], receiver [URL="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=8305"]Steve Smith[/URL], tailback [URL="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=8504"]Ahmad Bradshaw[/URL] and defensive tackle [URL="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=8335"]Jay Alford[/URL]. All the aforementioned players contributed to last season's Super Bowl run. This year, Giants first-round pick [URL="http://insider.espn.go.com/nfldraft/draft/tracker/player?draftyear=2008&id=12142"]Kenny Phillips[/URL] will be expected to start right away at safety with the loss of [URL="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=6895"]Gibril Wilson[/URL] in free agency. Phillips comes from a long list of University of Miami safeties that include [URL="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/clubhouse?team=bal"]Baltimore Ravens[/URL] and former Redskins safety, the late Sean Taylor. Also, the Giants earned solid value in the sixth round by taking former Kentucky quarterback [URL="http://insider.espn.go.com/nfldraft/draft/tracker/player?draftyear=2008&id=11985"]Andre Woodson[/URL] in the sixth round. Despite ideal size and mobility, his stock fell tremendously after poor performances in workouts and all-star games. He threw for 9,360 yards and 79 touchdowns in college and will have plenty of time to learn the NFL game behind starter [URL="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=6760"]Eli Manning[/URL].

[I]James Walker covers the NFL for ESPN.com[/I]

Big C 04-28-2008 12:50 PM

Re: NFC East: Giants might have a steal; Boys, Skins shrewd
i really wish the giants hadnt grabbed andre woodson, i cant believe he fell to the 6th round, i think he still could be a great player

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