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Division Links: Lots of draft talk, and an opinion piece on Jerry & Stephen Jones

What are they writing about at rival NFC East SB Nation sites?

Blogging the Boys

NFL trends in the draft and free agency, and how the Cowboys are missing out

The Cowboys would be wise to heed what’s going around the league.

[The Cowboys] were in the situation of needing to fill a starting job because of their own handling of Amari Cooper. That has been rated as one of the worst free agent moves of the year by an outside observer. While Jerry is seen as the loose cannon in dealing with the media, as evidenced by his strange flaunting of the top of the Cowboys’ draft board, Stephen was also guilty of letting too much slip in his talk months ago about the issue of Cooper’s cap hit if retained. As a result, it can be argued that revelation tanked the trade value and the team had to settle for what turned out to be essentially a fifth-round pick.

There was no reason for this. A clear example of what could have been involves the trade our beloved division rivals the Philadelphia Eagles made with the Tennessee Titans to acquire A.J. Brown.

NFC executive: “The fact that Philly and Tennessee were able to keep the A.J. Brown stuff quiet, and Philly was able to work out an extension with A.J. within the days/hours leading up to the draft, is another reason to tip your cap to how creative Philly is. We are starting to see the price of receivers climb. With that being said, teams who don’t want to pay will be more inclined to trade them before their deals are up, to get value. Which bubble bursts first? The housing market or receiver market!?”

My take: On the first point, I’d add that the NFL remains a relationship business (I believe most businesses are relationship businesses), and I don’t think that deal happens without a strong relationship between Titans GM Jon Robinson and Eagles GM Howie Roseman, and between Roseman and CAA agents Tory Dandy and Jimmy Sexton. And yeah, the Eagles get a ton of points for continuing to work in a forward-thinking way (which we detailed Monday).

The Eagles got a rising starting receiver that the Cowboys now have to face twice a year, and the Titans used the extra first-round pick to nab Treylon Burks, who is a much cheaper option. It could easily turn into a win-win deal.

The comments Breer made about the role the relationship between the two GMs played in getting this done completely off the radar is important for Dallas. There have been reports that the Jones family is held in low regard around the league. They come across as arrogant and thinking they are the smartest guys in the room. They throw their weight around as the most financially successful and influential franchise in a way that angers others. Add that to their well-documented inability to keep their mouths shut about what they are planning to do and there is basically no chance they could pull off something like this in secret.

The Cowboys insist on taking a long-term view in a league where entire rosters can turn over in two or three seasons. The NFL is a short-term world. Players mostly have a narrow window of top performance. Trying to plan for three or four years down the road ignores how rapidly things change and assumptions are obliterated.

While that certainly applies to some of the things that we learned from this year’s draft and free agency, much of the league is clearly doing things quite differently than Dallas. It leaves the Cowboys as followers rather than leaders, or just missing out completely. They insist on doing things their way with no discernable attempt to learn from what is going on across the NFL. For decades now, their approach has yielded only disappointment. We hope things will change on the field, but as long as the ownership insists on keeping their hands-on approach and archaic mindset, that is not very likely.


Big Blue View

Should the Giants have drafted Nakobe Dean?

Pectoral injury caused linebacker to slide in the draft

After the Giants selected North Carolina guard Joshua Ezeudu and LSU cornerback CorDale Flott in Round 3, Giants GM Joe Schoen was asked about Dean having still been on the board when the Giants took Flott at 81.

“There’s a reason he’s fallen,” Schoen said.

As it turned out, Dean had a pectoral injury that he had declined to have surgery on. The Eagles decided to take the chance after selecting Dean’s Georgia teammate, mountainous defensive tackle Jordan Davis, in Round 1.

Pre-draft, Dean was ranked as the No. 31 overall prospect on the NFL Mock Draft Database consensus big board. The Giants, thus, had opportunities at picks 43 (Wan’Dale Robinson), 67 (Ezeudu) and 81 (Flott) to select Dean.

The Giants, obviously, had interest in adding to their linebacking group. They selected Micah McFadden of Indiana at No. 146 and Darrian Beavers of Cincinnati at No. 182.

Dean is a full participant this weekend in the Eagles’ rookie mini-camp.

Will Dean and the Eagles make the Giants regret passing on the Georgia linebacker?


Bleeding Green Nation

NFC East Draft Review: Commanders load up on offense

Checking in on the rest of the division.

The Washington Commanders have been in a weird purgatory to start the Ron Rivera regime. Talent on both sides of the ball has been held back by uneven quarterback play and injuries. Washington is the next team in line to hope Carson Wentz can turn his bad luck around and in the process right the ship in Washington. Their 2022 NFL Draft s classignals a team going all in on offense while supplementing an already talented defense.

Jahan Dotson, Wide Receiver, Penn State

Dotson steps in and can immediately push for WR2. His speed, softs hands and great ball skills will add another vertical element to an offense with so many speedsters. Pairing his speed with Carson Wentz’ arm makes a ton of sense for a team that is swinging for the fences in 2022.

Phidarian Mathis, Defensive Lineman, Alabama

Mathis’ size and strength mean he can play various spots on the Commanders interior defensive line. After losing Tim Settle and Matt Ioanidis in free agency, the Commanders smartly grabbed an instant impact defender who can anchor against the run and hold his own as a pass rusher

Brian Robinson Junior, Running Back, Alabama

Brian Robinson shined at Alabama in 2021, showcasing his ability as a lead back when he was healthy. While Robinson is not overly quick or fast, he is a punishing runner that makes every carry count. In a Washington offense that struggled to run the ball last year due to offensive line issues, adding a back who fights for every yard makes sense.

Percy Butler, Safety, Louisiana

Washington sought depth on defense with this Percy Butler pick. Butler was a standout defender at Louisiana and impressed at the combine with a 4.36 second 40 yard dash. Butler can immediately contribute as a special teamer, where he thrived in college.

Sam Howell, Quarterback, UNC

I really liked this pick by Washington and not just because of my petty dislike for their starting quarterback. Sam Howell has been one of the most productive players in college football since his freshman year at UNC. Coming into the 2021 season, Howell was projected by many as being a potential QB1 in the next draft. Howell did not meet the hype and in a class where quarterbacks generally fell, ended up being a fifth round pick.

Howell’s backslide deserves to be contextualized a bit, however. UNC lost a ton of NFL talent in the 2021 draft, including their top two receivers and two thousand yard running backs. In his final season as a Tar Heel, Howell was used as a quarterback runner more than the previous two years. In his freshman and sophomore season, Howell had a total of 181 rushing yards. In 2021, he had 828.

Cole Turner, Tight End, Nevada

Tight end was a huge need for Washington this spring. Logan Thomas is recovering from an ACL tear and the depth behind him is less than stellar. Cole Turner brings a ton to the table in terms of size and pass catching ability. Despite being a late round pick, the Nevada standout has a chance to contribute early in his career.