NFC East Draft Recap

NFC East Draft Review

With the NFL draft done, all 32 teams now have their draft picks set heading into the summer and fall. Over the next few days, we’ll be taking a look at each team, division by division, in order to see who came out of the draft with players that fit both need and value.

 

Today, we’re starting things off with the NFC East.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys were expected to target defense or offensive line with their first pick, but they couldn’t refuse when Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb fell to them at 17th overall. Dallas quickly snatched up Lamb, with a plan for him to join Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup as one of the team’s starting receivers.

 

Day two of the draft saw the Cowboys address their defense. With their second and third round picks respectively, they took Alabama CB Trevon Diggs and Oklahoma DT Neville Gallimore. Diggs is a candidate to start at corner to replace the departed-Byron Jones, while Lamb’s teammate Gallimore will provide depth on the interior of the defensive line.

 

On the final day, Dallas was able to marry need and value with their selections. They added another cornerback in Tulsa’s Reggie Robinson, and found a new potential starting center in Tyler Biadasz from Wisconsin. In one of the best value picks of the draft, the Cowboys ended up with Utah DE Bradlee Anae, a potential third-round pick, near the end of round five at No. 179 overall. They closed their draft out with a quarterback in the seventh round, going with Ben DiNucci from James Madison.

 

Overall, draft experts praised Dallas’ draft, with some even calling it one of the two or three best in the league. It’s hard to disagree, as the Cowboys came out of the draft with several players ready to make an impact right away.

New York Giants

At fourth overall, the Giants had their pick of offensive linemen in order to boost a group that has struggled for several years. They ultimately decided to take Georgia OT Andrew Thomas with their first round pick, a surprise to some. But just as many experts also felt New York got it right with the pick, as Thomas will be a day one starter at either left or right tackle.

 

New York has a perfect combination of need and value met in the second round when they selected Alabama S Xavier McKinney. McKinney was expected to be a first round pick, and should be able to start at either safety spot next to Jabrill Peppers. The Giants then used their round three pick at 99 overall to select the big OT Matt Peart from UConn.

 

Armed with seven picks on day three, including four seventh round picks, the Giants targeted defense. Some notable selections included UCLA CB Darnay Holmes, Penn State LB Cam Brown and Minnesota LB Carter Coughlin. Their only offensive pick on Saturday was Oregon OG Shane Lemieux, who they plan to cross-train at center.

 

As a whole, the Giants made sure that offensive line and athletes on defense, their two biggest needs heading in, were met. Although they didn’t draft a center, true pass-rusher, or even a wide receiver, it was considered a successful draft for New York.

Philadelphia Eagles

With a clear need at wideout heading into the draft, the Eagles did in fact go wide receiver in round one. Although it wasn’t the receiver many people thought it would be, as the team passed on LSU’s Justin Jefferson in favor of TCU WR Jalen Reagor. Even though it was a little bit of a surprise pick, Reagor should provide explosiveness to their offense.

 

Philadelphia continued the surprises on day two, taking Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts in the second round. The Heisman Trophy finalist becomes the backup to Carson Wentz and a viable option in case Wentz gets hurt. It also wouldn’t be a surprise if Hurts was used on certain packages and option plays for the time being. They finished the day with Davion Taylor, the speedy linebacker from Colorado.

 

The draft experts loved Philadelphia’s day three picks, with GM Howie Roseman finding some great value late. Clemson S K’Von Wallace was picked in the fourth round after some believed he could go as high as the second round. They also picked, among others, Auburn OG Jack Driscoll and Boise State WR John Hightower, both of whom were good value picks. In addition to four more day three picks, the Eagles also traded for 49ers WR Marquise Goodwin.

 

Even though some of their earlier picks were considered a little puzzling, the Eagles definitely targeted wide receiver and filled that need. They also improved their depth along the offensive line and at pass-rusher. It’s a solid draft that could be considered brilliant if Hurts ends up becoming a huge piece for them.

Washington Redskins

After the Bengals got the draft started with QB Joe Burrow, the Redskins had the next no-brainer pick and took Ohio State EDGE Chase Young. Young was the draft’s best defensive prospect, and should be a staple on Washington’s defensive line for years to come.

 

With no second round pick, Washington’s only day two selection was a running back near the beginning of the third round, Memphis’ Antonio Gibson. Gibson is a do-it-all running back who new head coach Ron Rivera can deploy in a multitude of ways.

 

Day three was a busy day for the Redskins. The action started with a trade of disgruntled OT Trent Williams to the 49ers in exchange for a fifth round pick this year and a third rounder for next year. With Williams gone, Washington selected his potential replacement in the fourth round, LSU OT Saahdiq Charles. Liberty WR Antonio Gandy-Golden was a good value pick in the fifth round, as was San Diego State C Keith Ismael, who was taken with the pick acquired from San Francisco. The team had three more picks to wrap up the day, including N.C. State EDGE James Smith-Williams, to close out their draft.

 

Desperate for impact players, the Redskins certainly got that in Young, with Gibson and Charles also expected to see the field often. They are hoping that their good draft, paired with the new coach and the development of QB Dwayne Haskins, can propel them out of the division cellar.

 

When you are ready to bet on the teams from the NFC East – head to PayPerHead247; our favorite pay per head bookie site.

The impact of turnovers in the NFL

turnovers

A few weeks ago a key early NFC East matchup took place on national TV between the Redskins and Giants, two teams with something to prove off poor campaigns. In the end, Washington had the edge in total yards 393-363, in rushing yards and held the Giants to just 4-of-12 on third down. A close game? A Redskins’ win? Actually, the Giants led 18-6 after three and 32-14 late on the way to an easy win.

What happened?  The Redskins turned it over 3 times, including a pair of picks by Kirk Cousins, while the Giants had no turnovers. Another recent division clash was when the 49ers and Seahawks dueled in the regular season. But it wasn’t close as Seattle rolled, 29-3, winning the turnover battle, 5-1. That was similar to another showdown on national TV between the Ravens and Jets, as the Baltimore offense had just 267 total yards and was a measly 6 of 18 on third down. In addition, they averaged 2.8 yards per rush. What a terrible offensive performance! Oh, and by the way the Ravens won the game, 34-17.

The difference again was turnovers, with the Jets coughing it up 4 times (3 fumbles, 1 pick). Turnovers are one of the most basic fundamentals of winning football, both straight up and against the number when analyzing football picks.

Defensive coaches have been preaching more aggressive, attacking stop units over the last 15 years. Coach Steve Spurrier has spent three decades coaching college and pro football, at Duke, Florida, South Carolina and the Washington Redskins. When asked about what the biggest change he had noticed in the college game, Spurrier spoke not about the wide-open passing attack that he helped popularize, but about defenses. He said that when he first took over at Duke in the 1980s, defenses were basic and reacted to what the offense would try and do.

However, since that time, defenses have become far more aggressive, trying to attack the offense rather than sit back and react. Defensive coaches in both the pro and college ranks have been teaching players to not only tackle properly, but to aggressively strip the ball from opposing players. John Harbaugh, Bill Belichick, and Rex Ryan have used their teaching talents to upgrade defenses, while former defensive coordinators in Seattle have gotten head coaching jobs with teams that needed defensive help.

A key component of aggressive defenses is to force more turnovers. They are a huge part of any contest. The last team to win the AFC East other than the Patriots was the surprising Miami Dolphins, who came out of nowhere in a stunning one-year turnaround. It’s no coincidence that Dolphins led the NFL (+17 in turnover margin) that season, then were minus-8 in TOs the next year going 7-9. The Patriots went 14-2 SU, 10-5-1 ATS in campaign, setting a record for positive turnover margin. Take a close look at the bottom teams in turnover margin from last season:

2014 Worst TO Margin ATS record
Raiders (-15) 8-8 ATS
Saints (-13) 6-10 ATS
Redskins (-12) 5-11 ATS
NY Jets (-11) 7-9 ATS
Titans (-10) 3-13 ATS
Bucs (-8) 7-9 ATS

How many of those teams came close to making the playoffs? None. How many were busts? All of them. How many got their head coaches fired? 3. Age appeared to creep up quickly on QB Drew Brees and he was uncharacteristically sloppy, while Tennessee was a money-burner with no QB play and too many turnovers.

Rex Ryan got axed in New York with erratic QB play that handed the football over too opponents far too often. Those teams were also a combined 36-60 against the spread; two years ago the top turnover teams were a combined 42-52-2 ATS; three years ago the worst turnover-margin teams were a combined 34-61-1 ATS and four years ago it was 55-75 ATS. A quarterback who throws too many picks can kill the momentum of his offense, and his confidence can get worn down. It can even spill over onto the sidelines.

2014 Top TO Margin ATS record
Packers (+14) 9-8-1 ATS
Patriots (+12) 11-8 ATS
Texans (+12) 9-7 ATS
Seahawks (+9) 11-8 ATS
Cardinals (+7) 11-6 ATS
Bills (+7) 9-7 ATS

The tops teams last season in turnover margin all had strong seasons, either making the playoffs or in it until the final week. The Patriots won the Super Bowl and the Packers would have faced them if it wasn’t for a fluke onside kick in the NFC title game. The teams above were a combined 60-44-1 ATS; two years ago the top TO teams were 80-59-2 ATS; the top 10 teams in turnover margin in 2012 were 87-67-4 ATS and in 2011 were a combined 91-63-6 ATS. You get the idea…

So be careful backing teams that are sloppy at taking care of the football when analyzing football selections. They may not win or cover the number as regularly as those that play smart, mistake-free ball.

Written by Jim Feist of VegasTopDogs.com

2015 NFC East Preview

Eagless

The NFL regular season is here. I would like to give you a quick look at the NFC East.

The Dallas Cowboys finished last season 13-5 SU and 10-8 ATS. The Cowboys have really improved their depth at the linebacker position for this upcoming season and with Sean Lee returning from an ACL injury they should be solid at the LB position. Dallas also used 5 of their first 6 picks on the defensive side of the ball. Dallas should be contenders especially if quarterback Tony Romo who lead the league in passer rating last year can come up with similar results. Here’s a trend to keep in mind Dallas is on a 10-0 run as non conference underdogs.

 

It’s no secret the pressure is on for the New York Giants this season. The Giants have missed the playoffs the last 3 years with their last playoff appearance coming in 2012 where they beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. New York finished last season 6-10 SU and 7-9 ATS. The Giants have made some moves in the offseason to improve on a couple of weaknesses. The Giants’ draft included picks to improve their defense and offensive line. Wide receiver Victor Cruz will return after missing 6 games due to a knee injury last season. Cruz and WR Odell Beckham give quarterback Eli Manning two lethal targets. Manning has had his share of struggles over the last two season. The Giants will definitely improve on their record from last year and squeak into the playoffs. Here’s a trend to keep in mind the Giants are 15-2 ATS vs the AFC East when listed as underdogs.
The Philadelphia Eagles finished last season 10-6 SU and 9-7 ATS missing the playoffs. Head coach Chip Kelly made some splashes this offseason with the hope of sending his Eagles into postseason play. The Eagles traded away running back LeSean McCoy and quarterback Nick Foles. The Eagles replaced those two with running backs DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews, and quarterback Sam Bradford. The defense should be improved this season with the additions of LB Kiko Alonso and DB Byron Maxwell. Only time will tell if these moves will payoff. Here’s a trend to keep in mind the Eagles are 1-8 in their last 9 vs the NFC West.
The Washington Redskins finished last season 4-12 SU and 5-11 ATS. The heat is on for quarterback Robert Griffin III this season. The Redskins drafted to improve their offensive line to protect QB Griffin. The Redskins will be without LB Brian Orakpo this season which will definitely hurt them but Washington also made some changes to improve on the defensive side of the ball. Redskins’ GM Scot McCloughan has been quoted as saying the team wants to get back to the ground and pound style of play. This team is heading in a positive direction especially if WR DeSean Jackson, RB Alfred Morris and TE Jordan Reed play up to their potential. I’m optimistically hoping for at least an 8-8 season. Here’s a trend to keep in mind the Redskins are 7-1 before Thursday games.

NFL Football is finally back!
Written by Tony Acosta for VegasTopDogs.com