NFL Draft 2021: NFC East Team Needs
The 2021 NFL draft set for April 29 is rapidly approaching, which cues the team scramble to assess organizational needs and cap space. Specifically, the COVID-19 riddled 2020 season affected the NFC East substantially. All four teams in the division had losing records this year, including the Washington Football Team, who emerged victorious with a record of 7-9.
Each team needs considerable readjustment and the NFL draft is an ideal opportunity in addition to free agency to make strategic decisions towards improvement. While there is no universal fix for any NFC East team, here are some of the urgent moves that could be made.
Washington Football Team
Needs: QB, WR
Let’s start with the reigning NFC East champions. The release of quarterback Alex Smith after a stunning comeback from serious injury shocked much of the professional football world. It seems as if Washington is confident in backing Taylor Heinicke.
According to Pro Football Reference, the 6-foot-1 quarterback threw for 137 total yards and 7.2 yards per attempt (62nd in the league). With only one touchdown to his name in 2020, Heinicke is Washington’s main option for the position unless they utilize the nineteenth overall pick to draft a QB1.
In terms of its passing attack, wide receiver Terry McLaurin is mainly relied upon as the primary target in Washington’s passing game. The Football Team made a splash in free-agency, signing the versatile Curtis Samuel to a three-year deal counting on him to be McLaurin’s compliment.
McLaurin’s elite status guarantees double coverage, and Samuel will certainly help take some of the pressure off of him. But adding a third wide receiver via the draft could distinguish Washington as a notable threat in 2021, barring that their quarterback is established.
Needs: QB, LB
To say that the Eagles need help at practically every position on the field is not really an exaggeration if you take a closer look at their roster. Finishing last in the NFC East at 4-11, Philadelphia could never quite find consistency or rhythm, especially at quarterback.
The elaborate shuffle between Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts damaged the relationship that both quarterbacks had with the organization due to indecision. Even if Philadelphia decides against drafting a quarterback, they need to settle on a starter this season.
In the defensive backfield, drafting a cornerback should be a major concern for the Eagles. Darius Slay’s return has major upside, but the only other option at the moment is Avonte Maddox.
The Eagles have 11 total picks in the upcoming draft, which gives the organization plenty of opportunities to snag a quality cornerback in the draft pool.
Some notable names at cornerback up for the draft are Caleb Farley of Virginia Tech and Patrick Surtain II of Alabama. Surtain II had 37 total tackles in the 2020 season while Farley opted out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns. Farley accumulated 20 tackles in 2019.
New York Giants
Needs: OL, LB
The 6-10 Giants are going into the draft with the luxury of options. The pressing need of the organization is to fix an offensive line riddled with holes. The offensive line is in the rebuilding stage with young talent, as well as welcoming a new offensive line coach in Rob Sale.
With the eleventh overall draft pick, it would be feasible for the Giants to draft an offensive lineman. Quarterback Daniel Jones is heading into his formative third year, which will be a critical year for Jones to prove his worth to the organization. A decent offensive line is vital to give Jones time to read the field.
In addition, running back Saquon Barkley will be returning from a season-ending ACL tear in 2020. He is hungry to make some big plays and assert his dominance at the running-back position for the Giants and a sturdy offensive line only emphasizes this need.
In terms of linebackers, the Giants have their eye on Micah Parsons, a former teammate of Barkley’s at Penn State University. Before opting out of the 2020 season, Parsons amassed a total of 109 tackles during the 2019 season. The Giants could find a strong linebacker in Parsons if the stars align with their draft order.
Needs: CB, OT
During the 2020 season, the Cowboys finished 6-10, tying with the Giants. They need some tune-ups.
Quarterback Dak Prescott’s extensive four-year, $160 million payday takes care of any uncertainty with the quarterback position, but “America’s Team” has other pressing matters.
In terms of a cornerback, the organization lost Byron Jones during the 2019 season and have not found a consistent replacement to fit the bill. While the wide receiver and quarterback positions are dominant in the 2021 draft, cornerback draft prospects could go deeper into the draft.
This is advantageous for Dallas, who has the tenth overall pick and 10 picks in total.
Replacing older veterans at the offensive tackle position is a critical point for general manager Jerry Jones to consider.
Emma Holtz is a freshman majoring in public relations. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Third Year / Public Relations