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The NFC East had an interesting draft on Day 2

Hogs Haven looks at every player drafted into the NFC East on Friday night and how each player impacts his new team

2022 NFL Draft - Rounds 2-3 Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

Day 2 of the NFL draft saw 7 players added to the NFC East, with the Giants adding 3 players and the other three teams adding one player each in Rounds 2 & 3.

The split between offense and defense was pretty even, with every team selecting one of each, except the Giants, who selected two offensive players with their 3 picks. On offense, there were three skill position players (2 WRs, 1 RB) and 2 offensive linemen. On defense, the division added a DT, an edge rusher, a linebacker and a defensive back.

Commanders

Two themes emerged quickly on Twitter in response to Washington’s first three picks taken as a group: the team was drafting players too early and not getting enough bang for the buck. The criticisms with regard to the first round pick Jahan Dotson were largely muted overnight as fans learned more about the player and his on-field skills, and as they adjusted their expectations from the group of players who were expected to the drafted around #11 pick to what was realistic at #16 in combination with the run of receivers that moved Dotson up the board.

Let’s look at what the Commanders did with their 2nd & 3rd round picks.

Phidarian Mathis

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 31 CFP Semifinal - Goodyear Cotton Bowl - Cincinnati v Alabama Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I’m not sure that fans will be as accepting of the Commanders second round pick, even after they get a night to sleep on it. Phidarian Mathis is a big-bodied interior defensive lineman from Alabama. Not only had Mathis been expected to be drafted closer to the 4th round, but many Twitterites argued that the team was reactive — using a valuable draft pick on a non-premium position to replace players that they had cut or let walk out the door (Matt Ioannidis and Tim Settle). Oddly, this was perceived as a lack of planning by the front office when it was probably just the opposite. While fans may not be enthusiastic about the move, it appears to be a calculated one that is intended to reduce salary cap spending by selecting a rookie who is projected to eat up just $1.4m of 2022 cap space.

Moreover, while Ron Rivera was adamant in his Friday press conference that the selection of Mathis did not affect the team’s long-term plans with Daron Payne, having the newest Alabama DT in on the roster as a seasoned player in 2023 seems to open up the options for the Commanders brass when Payne’s contract expires at the end of the current season.

Brian Robinson Jr.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 10 CFP National Championship Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Brian Robinson Jr. is a running back who has often been mocked to the Commanders as a 4th or 6th round pick (prior to Thursday, the team had no 3rd or 5th round selections). He’s seen as a valuable addition to the roster, but on a team where the running back room seems to be one of the lower priorities, the Twitterverse again questioned the timing of the pick. Using a 3rd round pick for yet another rotational player (like the 2nd used on Mathis for the DL) simply isn’t seen as getting good value for use of resources.

In short, while most people are happy enough with the specific players chosen and their expected roles on the team, there was loud criticism about the value of the picks and the frequency with which Friday’s picks would see the field.

Listening to Martin Mayhew and, more particularly, Ron Rivera, I get the sense that they don’t really care as much about the issue of positional value and draft position as they do about getting the player they want to fill in the roster that they are trying to build. They appear largely deaf to the external criticisms.

Here’s Ron Rivera talking at Friday’s press conference:

We picked these guys because we felt that these guys fit what we do and how we wanna do it. We picked these guys because we think these guys will be able to contribute, and be a part of rotations and play — and play substantial amounts for us.

You look at the draft and you go through the draft and you say, ‘Wow! That guy fell.” Well, nobody thought he was gonna fall, but he fell. This is an inexact science, and this draft is about as different as they get. With the number of trades we saw so far this year, with players being surprised by where they get [picked]; this is different.

Again, I think it just shows you how inexact this is.

It’s about whether their skillset fits what what we wanna do and how we wanna do it. Everybody’s been confident about what we’ve decided. These are guys that we believe fit what we wanna do. Ultimately, I’m the one who pulls the trigger and makes the decision....these three picks have been guys that we all liked collectively.

The value is what you decide to put on that player by deciding to pick him there.

Moreover, the head coach still seems to be a bit shell shocked by the salary cap impact of trading for Carson Wentz; he talks about the loss of roster opportunities that came along with Wentz’s cap hit every time he is questioned about roster moves. Personally, I’m feeling like it’s time for the coach to move past it. Wentz is not a $40m quarterback; he has a middle-of-the-pack salary cap hit of $28m in 2022. He appears to have been hand picked by Rivera, who traded for him willingly; the team has had 2 months to adjust their roster planning, and, at the stroke of a pen, the QB’s 2022 cap hit could be reduced by up to $18m. Sure, salary cap is an issue that needs to be considered all the time in roster-building, but it feels like Carson Wentz’s cap hit has become Rivera’s go-to crutch in answering for every questionable roster decision the team has made since the start of the league year.

One thing seems clear, as Washington heads into the final day of the draft with a pair of 4th round picks, a 6th and a pair of 7ths, Ron and Martin are likely to approach Saturday’s draft selections with the same kind of logic that has befuddled mock drafters up until now, but, in his 3rd season, Ron Rivera will undeniably be in charge of the roster that he built the way he wanted to do it.

Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The Cowboys have 6 draft picks remaining, with four 5th-round picks plus a 4th & a 6th.

The Cowboys continue to have a low-key, uneventful 2022 draft that involves just making logical picks and filling out their roster. If things continue as they have been, the Jones family may end up with the best overall draft by Saturday night, despite fast starts by New York and Philly on Thursday.

Sam Williams, Edge, Ole Miss

Let’s see what Blogging the Boys has to say about their 2nd round pick:

Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn attended Williams’ pro day, where the newest Cowboys pass rusher told the media that Dallas was looking for “another Micah Parsons”. Williams was also a pre-draft 30 visit to The Star.

Williams won’t play the same position as Parsons, who was Quinn’s success story as a first-round defender with elite versatility, but Williams can rush from multiple spots with the speed and twitch that Quinn covets.

Defensive end is a position the Cowboys may have been able to avoid drafting early if they re-signed Randy Gregory, but pass rush is a premier position where the right prospect can make a day one impact. Dallas has just enough depth to not ask too much of Williams this season, but his upside projects to fill a spot on the depth chart in due time.

If the best thing the Cowboys did this offseason is bring back Quinn as defensive coordinator, the next best thing happened Friday night when Williams became the latest athlete for the second-year coordinator to mold.

Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama

More from Blogging the Boys:

After getting through the first two rounds without adding to the receiver room, South Alabama WR Jalen Tolbert somehow fell to them at the 88th overall pick. Tolbert brings a ton of versatility to the receiver room, showing the ability to play on the boundary and in the slot with his 6’1”, 200-lb frame.

The Cowboys obviously had need at receiver after losing Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson from the roster this offseason. They are also unsure of just when Michael Gallup will be back on the field. Adding depth was a priority.

Tolbert is a silky smooth athlete with the ability to create at all three levels with easy separation skills. He is a fluid route-runner showing good movement skills at the top of his routes to separate late, or early off the line with quality release skills. Tolbert shines when he’s asked to track the football down the field, and has impressive ball skills to win above the rim and in contested catch situations.

He will need to improve on his hands, as he isn’t the most natural hands catcher, but he did show the ability to pluck the football up-and-away from his frame. Tolbert isn’t what we would call dynamic after the catch, but his speed and explosiveness gives him the ability to develop in that area.

Eagles

New York Giants v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Eagles have two draft picks remaining; one in the 5th and one in the 7th.

On Friday night, they added an offensive center who will line up to take over for Jason Kelce after he eventually retires, and they took a chance on an extremely talented linebacker with a troubling injury history.

Cam Jurgens, C, Nebraska

Here’s some reaction from Bleeding Green Nation:

There was a lot of speculation about what the Eagles might do with their second round pick on Friday night, including potentially trading back, but ultimately they ended up picking center Cam Jurgens at No. 51.

Ahead of free agency, Jason Kelce announced that he would be returning for the 2022 season, but that doesn’t mean that Howie Roseman and Co. aren’t still planning for the day the Eagles’ legend decides to retire. Roseman notoriously likes to build depth at the offensive and defensive lines, and he only emphasizes his strategy with the Jurgens pick.

After the pick, Kelce talked about his involvement in the evaluation process, and why he’s so excited about Jurgens. It also highlights the benefits of Jurgens getting (at least) a year to learn under Kelce before the torch is passed.

It’s not a particularly exciting pick, but it does give the team a bit of an insurance policy. The Eagles have had pretty consistent injury issues along the OL the past few years and bringing in another young player can’t hurt. The consensus seems to be that the pick is fine, makes sense, but that Roseman perhaps reached a bit to get his guy — someone who likely would’ve still been available later in the round.

Full transcript below:

“Yeah, I knew we were taking him. So, this is my favorite player in the draft. I’m not just saying that because we picked him. The Eagles have been using me to, like, evaluate some of the centers that have been coming out. And of all the guys that I’ve looked at for the past two, three years … out of all the guys compared the most to myself, this guy is him. He is so athletic, so fast. You see him out in space. He runs, he’s a natural athlete. You see the fluidity. He played tight end, a position convert. He’s been playing offensive line for two years. 4.92 [second 40-yard dash], 1.7 [second 10-yard split], 7.19 three cone. This guy is a freak athletically. He has the best chance to be a difference-maker at the center position. I like this kid a lot, I really do.”

Some will be convinced that if Kelce likes him, they should like him too. It’s difficult to say he can’t provide some valuable insight.

Of course, Kelce is not being paid nor empowered to make the final decision on Eagles draft picks. That’s ultimately up to Howie Roseman. And though the player might turn out to be pretty good, there are fair questions to raise about the value of taking a center who won’t even play in Year 1 at No. 51.

And is it a definite that Kelce won’t be back in 2023? One would guess not if he had so much influence on the Jurgens pick. But is it truly a non-zero chance that Kelce returns again?

Perhaps it’ll go as many envision and Jurgens will seamlessly step in for Kelce next year. That seems to be the Eagles’ plan.

Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

Dean was a very popular pick among Washington fans and mock drafters, and as the team’s pick approached at #47 overall, expectations were sky high that Dean would get the call from the Commanders. Instead, Washington selected a big-bodied nose-tackle and Dean continued to tumble down draft boards. Network analysts started having to explain the fall, and the story spread quickly that teams were concerned about the linebacker’s injury history and health, with a recent pectoral injury of particular concern.

Howie Roseman finally decided that the 83rd pick was the right time to pull the trigger on the pick. Eagles fans were largely ecstatic about getting what they perceive as a 1st round talent with a mid-3rd round pick, and Commanders fans who had had their hearts set on Dean as the answer to Washington’s ongoing linebacker woes were doubly-cut to see him going to a division rival.

Here’s the reaction from Bleeding Green Nation:

THE EAGLES DRAFTED A LINEBACKER! This is not a drill.

Although, there is a bit of a medical concern caveat with their No. 83 overall selection, Nakobe Dean could be an incredible steal if he can get and stay healthy. Dean’s slide into the third round was reportedly due to him declining shoulder surgery, which gave a lot of teams pause. For the Eagles, however, Dean’s availability allowed the team to get a Day 1 talent in the middle of the third round, so it’s worth the gamble.

During their pre-draft press conference, Eagles GM Howie Roseman talked about his experience drafting injured players:

“And then the value has to be right, you know, the value of the player, and how we kind of feel the player fits for us, and what kind of player we think that player was pre-injury — how we base on our performance and our medical staff, who we have a lot of trust in, how they project that player to come back.”

Dean is the second defensive player out of Georgia drafted by Philly this weekend, and he’ll be joining his former teammate, and Eagles first round pick, DT Jordan Davis. Davis and some of their new teammates celebrated the pick.

Giants

NFL Combine Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Giants have 4 picks remaining in the draft, with two in the 5th round and none in the 7th.

The reaction to Joe Schoen’s efforts on Friday night are quite a bit less enthusiastic than they were following his slam-dunk 1st round picks at #5 and #7 overall. It might even be fair to say that Giants fans were disappointed by Friday’s picks. Still, the Giants were able to add 3 players to their under-powered 2021 roster.

Wan’Dale Robinson, WR, Kentucky

Here’s the reaction from Big Blue View:

There wasn’t as much widespread celebration following this pick as there had been on Thursday night during round 1, presumably because most Giants fans simply don’t know much about the undersized playmaker.

The NFL’s Twitter account called him “the Barry Sanders of youth football.” However, it appears as though Giants fans and analysts on Twitter are pretty split over this pick. A lot of folks out there like Robinson while a sizable proportion clearly voiced their displeasure.

Kentucky wide receiver Wan’dale Robinson only needed one NFL team to believe in him. Friday night, he found that team in the New York Giants when they selected him at No. 43 overall ahead of any number of better-known players.

Robinson wasn’t expected to be drafted until a round or so later — the NFL Mock Draft Database listed him as its 84th-ranked prospect and Dane Brugler of The Athletic had him with a third-fourth-round grade.

Scouting reports compared the 5-foot-8, 185-pound Robinson’s skillset to that of Giants wide receiver Kadarius Toney.

GM Joe Schoen was adamant the Robinson pick had nothing to do with Toney’s future as a Giant.

“We’re not shopping Kadarius Toney,” the GM said.

He also isn’t concerned about the fact Robinson and Toney may possess similar skillsets.

“(Robinson is a) good football player we’ve had our eye on, generator with the ball in his hands, very good run after the catch, very good route runner, can separate,” Schoen said. “And for what we are going to do offensively, we thought he would be a very good fit for us.”

Joshua Ezeudu, OG, North Carolina

More from Big Blue View:

Ezeudu is the second offensive linemen selected by GM Joe Schoen in the Giants’ first four picks. Adding to the interior of the offensive line is something the Giants figured to do after adding center Jon Feliciano and guards Max Garcia, Mark Glowinski and Jamil Douglas in free agency. The Giants also have Shane Lemieux and Ben Bredeson as guard candidates.

Ezeudu played everywhere on the offensive line except center, but he spent the majority of his time at left guard. Per Pro Football Focus, Ezeudu played 1,247 snaps at left guard for the Tar Heels during his career, 481 at left tackle and 171 at right tackle. It just so happens that left guard is currently the one unsettled position on the Giants’ offensive line. Ezeudu figures to compete with several of the aforementioned veteran guards for playing time, and at worst to be a developmental player the Giants would look to mold for their future. Players like this are why the Giants signed so many veteran guards to one-year deals.

Cordale Flott, CB, LSU

The selection of Flott seemed both unexpected and a bit unwelcome based on early comments:

The Giants had to add to their secondary room. James Bradberry’s fate with the team remains uncertain. Flott was brought into the Giants’ facility for a top-30 visit. The interest was evident, but selecting him over moldable athletic freaks like UTSA’s Tariq Woolen, Sam Houston State’s Zyon McCollum, Alabama’s Jalyn Armour-Davis, Cincinnati’s Coby Bryant, and Houston’s Marcus Jones was something I didn’t necessarily expect.