Eagles, Giants lead Rogers' NFC East draft grades
Connor Rogers reviews the NFC East's 2023 Draft hauls, detailing why he loved the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants moves, while he raises questions for the Washington Commanders and Dallas Cowboys' picks.
CONNOR ROGERS: It felt like the NFC stole all the headlines in the 2023 NFL draft, and a lot of that was because of the Philadelphia Eagles, who walked away with the Georgia stud-- Georgia studs of Jalen Carter, Nolan Smith. They even went back up in Day 3 and got a value pick, in my eyes, in Kelee Ringo. I had him 44th overall, they got him at 105.
This is an A for the Eagles. They understand how to attack needs. But man, nobody capitalizes on value, or at least few capitalize on value, like Howie Roseman and those Eagles. How about the New York Giants, though? Don't sleep on what the Giants and Joe Shane were able to do. The Giants went into this draft and really balanced plugging holes while not getting away from the best player available on their board most of the time.
Deonte Banks, I like flipping with Jacksonville, getting that outside corner that's long and athletic for Wink Martindale's very, very heavy scheme of cover zero and cover one. Those corners, they don't get a lot of help all the time. Deonte Banks is made to survive that. A longtime starter in John-Michael Schmidt. I mean, he's somebody that just has such a high floor at the center position. The value of Jalen [INAUDIBLE] but I'll say this.
Something that nobody is talking about, especially as Saquon Barkley is not thrilled with his current contract situation. The best value pick guide for the Giants and their B-plus draft grade was Eric Gray. They got him at 172, I had him at 119. He is a true three down back. Let's move on here to the Washington Commanders.
A B-minus for the Commanders. A little bit of a reach for Emmanuel Forbes. I thought he was a second-round player. He will be probably the lightest corner in the NFL, that's something that he will have to address. But he does have ball skills. I like Kwan Martin, a lot the safety they took after him. He's athletic. He could play the slot, he could play free safety.
I thought their best value pick was KJ Henry, the pass rusher out of Clemson. They got him at 137, I valued him at 111. This is a B-minus draft at the Commanders, who really wanted to be a steady eddie team here. They didn't want to reach for a quarterback, they want to see what Sam Howell has. They wanted to make in large part their defense better, and they'll see what they have in Howell this year, and if it doesn't work out, they will be in the quarterback market for 2024.
And finally the Dallas Cowboys. Gonna be honest, hard for me to get behind this one. Mazi Smith in the first round is fine. I don't think he was a first-round caliber talent. But he does make that Dallas front better by taking up a lot of space. He is a really good athlete. He needs to unlock a little bit more consistency as a pass rusher, but he's somebody that can contain, somebody that can give you a lot of beef in the middle of the field for the likes of Micah Parsons and company to run around.
But when you look at Luke Schoonmaker, the tight end from Michigan? He's a fine player, but he got taken over many better tight ends that Dallas passed on instead. I just didn't feel like Dallas did enough that they're a much different team in this draft, and in that division you had to get a lot better. Listen, the Giants aren't going anywhere. We know how good the Eagles are gonna be, and Washington quietly is getting much better.
So this draft disappointed me for the Cowboys. I got to give it a C. I will say this. They got value in Hunter Luepke the fullback tight end super back from North Dakota State. He is a UDFA signing for them. I think he'll make the team.