As we have discussed many times, the top of the 2021 NFL Draft is going to be predictable in a sort of surprising way. What I mean by this is that we know three quarterbacks are going to go in the first three picks, and we know the names that will follow in the next six or so selections, the order is just going to be shuffled in some random order.
Players like Kyle Pitts, Penei Sewell, Rashawn Slater, Ja’Marr Chase, and Patrick Surtain II feel like they are going to follow Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, and whoever the San Francisco 49ers take, but things beyond the Dallas Cowboys at number 10 are a bit more unknown.
Starting at number 11, things are actually very interesting for the Dallas Cowboys as the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles pick 11th and 12th, respectively. It isn’t every day that you see division rivals picking back-to-back-to-back, especially in the top 12. Long live the NFC East.
In celebration of the NFL’s most-storied division, we started a new show on the Blogging The Boys podcast feed (you can subscribe on Apple devices right here or on Spotify right here). Starting today every Wednesday you can here Brandon Lee Gowton from Bleeding Green Nation and myself either on the BTB feed or the BGN feed talking all things NFC East, obviously with a bit of a heavier emphasis on the Cowboys and Eagles. It is one show that is accessible in two different places, the first of its kind across the SB Nation network.
The thought here is that we all obviously care about what is happening within the division. Hearing multiple perspectives on it, including the one we tend to hate the most, is informational and instructive. It is truly an objective environment. Also, if you are curious how things are being received on the other side of the fence during things that BLG and I have done together on The SB Nation NFL Show, Eagles fans have generally found themselves rather pleased with me. The lesson here is that all Eagles fans love all Cowboys fans.
On our inaugural episode BLG and I dove into the state of the NFC East one week away from the draft. It is an interesting place given that it was such a disaster only a few months ago.
State of the Dallas Cowboys
Obviously we are all keenly aware on the state of things within America’s Team, but it was interesting to hear BLG’s perspective. I asked him who his worst nightmare would be for the Cowboys pick as an Eagles fan and he didn’t say Patrick Surtain II.
He noted that Kyle Pitts would obviously be the answer if things ultimately came to that, but in a more practical sense he said that adding one of the tackles (more likely Rashawn Slater) would make Eagles fans weary as it would help the Cowboys solidify what used to be their elite strength that has started to show more than just signs of regression.
We have been talking so much lately about the idea of the Cowboys trading back in the draft and recently noted how moving back from 10 to 15 or 20 doesn’t exactly yield a great haul in capital.
Perhaps the Cowboys will be able to land Rashawn Slater or maybe they’ll just do the predictable thing and take Patrick Surtain. Either way, they are up first in the draft order thanks to the Eagles trade out of number six.
State of the Philadelphia Eagles
Speaking of the Eagles trade from about a month ago, interestingly enough the pick that they gave the Miami Dolphins might be for sale once more.
In terms of noteworthy assets the Eagles did pry Miami’s 2022 first-round pick away from them when they moved back six spots to number 12. The Dolphins are reportedly contemplating moving back again and it would be utterly hilarious if they somehow managed to receive more compensation than the Eagles did for Philadelphia’s original first-round pick (which they tanked the final game of the season to earn!).
We spoke about projected win totals for each of these teams and BetOnline has Philly set at 6.5 for the 2021 season. As entertaining as it would be to see them fall below that mark it honestly doesn’t seem likely. Given that they will get two games against the New York Giants and games against the likes of the Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers (that could go one of two dramatically different ways), New York Jets, and Denver Broncos, seven wins is definitely possible.
BLG thinks that the Eagles are going with a lineman (either way) with the 12th overall pick. I’d imagine most Cowboys fans would rather see someone like Alijah Vera-Tucker end up there than say Jaylen Waddle, but the latter could end up with a different division rival.
For what it’s worth he and I recorded before Wednesday which means that we didn’t get a chance to touch on Nick Sirianni saying the team will have “an open competition” at quarterback. What’s more is that he apparently (seriously) played rock-paper-scissors with draft prospects to gauge their competitiveness. Needless to say I can’t wait for next week.
State of the New York Giants
This might be the hardest team in the NFC East to ultimately figure out, but general consensus does seem to be that they are just really “eh” overall.
New York did add Adoree’ Jackson in free agency which does feel like a move that isn’t garnering enough credit. It is possible that they wind up with AVT along the offensive line or perhaps take Jaylen Waddle to help out quarterback Daniel Jones. Given the other skill position players that they already have, there would certainly be a lot for offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to work with. Still though, that doesn’t necessarily inspire fear.
A report surfaced on Tuesday that the Giants (like other teams in the top 10ish range) could trade out of the 11th overall pick. That makes sense on paper, but General Manager Dave Gettleman has never traded back in the first round of an NFL Draft. Ever.
Maybe the Giants will be alright in 2021, but it just seems like a huge maybe.
State of the Washington Football Team
Alex Smith announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday, and while he exits as one of the game’s most-respected players in recent memory, it isn’t as if he was the reason for their resurgence this past season.
Ron Rivera has been the head coach of both of the last two teams in NFL history that have won their divisions with a below-.500 record, and while this isn’t an effort to say he isn’t a great coach, the point is that Washington had a lot of things go their way this past season. Regression to the mean would suggest that their road will likely be more difficult this year.
Sure, they have a fantastic defense, but defensive prowess is actually one of the more difficult things to sustain in the game of football. This team has a roster that could certainly contend for the best in the division, however, without a true and legitimate franchise quarterback they are only treading water with the timeframe that their defense will be legit.
Washington has been mentioned as a team that could trade up for the fifth quarterback taken in the draft, it is just so difficult to know exactly when the fourth one will come off of the board. If the Atlanta Falcons take the fourth or trade the right to do so to someone else that would accelerate the overall rush, but the fifth could maybe even last all the way to Washington at number 19 overall.