As a part of our preparation for the upcoming NFL season, Dylan White and I decided to dive deep into every team’s offseason, picking the most interesting players and storylines to follow this season. Accompanying these players and storylines are draft class summaries, teams’ strengths, weaknesses, and record predictions. We’ll release two AFC and NFC division previews per week, and we decided to kick it off with the eastern divisions.
2019 Draft Grade – C+, The grade of C+ might seem like a bit of a surprise, but outside of Dwayne Haskins and Montez Sweat, I don’t see any impact players in Washington’s 2019 draft class. Haskins should compete for the starting QB job, while Sweat should be a lock to start on a middle-of-the-road Redskins defense. Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon offer some decent depth to one of the worst receiving corps in all of football, but neither has an elite upside. The Redskins shouldn’t expect more than two or three impact players from this draft class.
Player to Watch – Derrius Guice, RB: After missing his entire rookie campaign, Guice could be a potential breakout player for Washington. The only issue with Guice is that Adrian Peterson, Chris Thompson, and Bryce Love make for a crowded backfield, so Guice will need to show he is ready for a full load before he starts to get high volume attempts.
Positional Strengths – Running Back Depth
Positional Weaknesses – Wide Reciever, Quarterback, Defensive Back Depth
Projected Record – 6-10
New York Giants
2019 Draft Grade – A, The only reason I’m don’t give the Giants an A+ is their pick of Daniel Jones. I’m personally a fan of Daniel Jones and think he has a great mentality for New York. The only thing I didn’t like about the pick was the spot he was chosen. Although the Giants may have reached just a bit for Jones at #5, they sure did make up for it with there later selections. Deandre Baker (1st), Julian Love (4th), and Corey Ballentine (6th) could wind up being New York’s starting three CBs by the end of the year. Dexter Lawrence II will also make an immediate impact on a Giants defensive line, as he shares many attributes with former Giant, Damon “Snacks” Harrison. Linebacker Oshane Ximenes was one of my favorite picks of the draft, and he could be a factor as well.
Players to Watch – Sterling Shepard, WR: With Odell Beckham gone and Golden Tate set to miss the first 4 games, Shepard is the clear-cut #1 WR for New York. It will be interesting to see what kind of numbers he puts up, as he should be in line for a large volume role.
Jabrill Peppers, SS: One of the more exciting players from the 2017 draft class, Peppers made great strides in 2018 before being dealt to the Giants in the Odell Beckham trade. His freakish athleticism and versatility are going to make him a very important part of New York’s young defense.
Positional Strengths – Running Back, Quarterback Depth
Positional Weaknesses – Linebacker, Offensive Line Depth
Projected Record – 8-8
2019 Draft Grade – D, Without a 1st round pick, it can be quite difficult to make an impact on your roster. Surely enough, the Cowboys couldn’t seem to gather much talent due to their lack of a top pick. There’s not even one guy who is likely to make a big difference for the Cowboys this year, so there is not much to discuss here.
Players to Watch – Leighton Vander Esch, LB: After a stellar rookie season in 2018, all eyes will be on Vander Esch to see if he can repeat his dominance. Taking over Sean Lee’s role as the defensive cornerstone, Vander Esch is a critical component in Dallas’s playoff hopes.
Travis Frederick, C: Considering Frederick missed all of 2018 it will be interesting to see if he remains the same elite blocker he was earlier in his career. Having Frederick healthy is crucial to the success of the entire Cowboys offense.
Positional Strengths – Guard, Linebacker
Positional Weaknesses – Tight End, Wide Receiver Depth
Projected Record – 9-7
2019 Draft Grade – B-, With only 5 picks in the 2019 Draft, the Eagles still managed to find 3 impact offensive players within the top 60 picks. Andre Dillard, Miles Sanders, and JJ Arcega-Whiteside all provide valuable depth to an already capable Eagles offense.
Players to Watch – Dallas Goedert, TE: Zach Ertz is a star TE, but that doesn’t mean Goedert can’t succeed as well. With his stock on the rise, Goedert could be more of a factor to the Eagles than most would expect. Seeing the Eagles with two TE’s on the field for a majority of their plays would not be surprising.
Carson Wentz, QB: An injury cost Wentz the chance to take his team to the playoffs in 2018, and Nick Foles eventually led Philly to a Super Bowl victory. With Foles now in Jacksonville, the Eagles no longer have that safety net to fall back on. If the Eagles want to make it far in the playoffs it all depends on Wentz regaining his form and remaining an above-average QB in Philadelphia.
Positional Strengths – Tight End, Offensive Tackle, Defensive End
Positional Weaknesses – Bell-Cow Running Back
Projected Record – 10-6
Dak Prescott/Ezekiel Elliot Contract Statuses: With Dallas’s two offensive leaders contracts making big news, the extensions of both Prescott and Elliott will be closely monitored as the NFL season approaches. Prescott’s desire for a 40 million dollar contract is a bit absurd, but something closer to 32 million could happen.
Eli Manning/Daniel Jones: Though Eli Manning is expected to be New York’s starting QB for 2019, Daniel Jones’s great start to the pre-season could make it a tough decision for giants staff. If Manning struggles early in the season, he may have a shorter leash if Jones continues to play well.
QB: Carson Wentz, PHI RB: Saquon Barkley, NYG
WR: Amari Cooper, DAL WR: Alshon Jeffrey, PHI
TE: Zack Ertz, PHI C: Travis Frederick, DAL
OT: Tyron Smith, DAL OT: Lane Johnson, PHI
OG: Zack Martin, DAL OG: Kevin Zeitler, NYG
DE: Demarcus Lawrence, DAL DE: Brandon Graham, PHI
DT: Fletcher Cox, PHI MLB: Jaylon Smith, DAL
LB: Leighton Vander Esch, DAL LB: Ryan Kerrigan, WAS
CB: Byron Jones, DAL CB: Deandre Baker, NYG
FS: Rodney Mcleod, PHI SS: Landon Collins, WAS