2019 NFL Season Preview, NFC East Edition

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.

Washington Redskins

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

Dallas Cowboys

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

Philadelphia Eagles

2019 Draft GradeB-, 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

Storylines

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.

All-Divison Team

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

Ranking MLB’s Best Minor League Farm Systems, Early-2019 (21-30)

These are my 2019 Early Season Rankings for MLB’s top farm systems. In this article, we will be looking at the systems ranked 21-30. Numbers 11-20 and 1-10 will be released later in May.

30.) St. Louis Cardinals

  1. Nolan Gorman, 3B (46)
  2. Andrew Knizner, C
  3. Malcom Nunez, 3B
  4. Jhon Torres, OF
  5. Dylan Carlson, OF
  6. Genesis Cabrera, SP
  7. Justin Williams, OF
  8. Johan Oviedo, SP
  9. Ryan Helsley, SP
  10. Luken Baker, 1B

STL Overview: After graduating players like Jack Flaherty, Alex Reyes and Harrison Bader, and dealing other top prospects like Oscar Mercado and Carson Kelly, there is not much talent remaining in St. Louis’ farm system. Nolan Gorman is the exception, coming in at #46 on my 2019 Top 100 MLB Prospect Rankings 1.0 (Early Season). Gorman, along with catcher Andrew Knizner, are the only two Cardinals prospects who I see as reliable guys, who I would be confident in saying they will be successful major leaguers.

29.) Chicago Cubs

  1. Nico Hoerner, SS (79)
  2. Brailyn Marquez, SP
  3. Miguel Amaya, C
  4. Oscar De La Cruz, SP
  5. Adbert Azolay, SP
  6. Aramis Ademan, SS
  7. Corey Abbott, SP
  8. Zack Short, SS
  9. Tyson Miller, SP
  10. Nelson Velazquez, OF

CHI Overview: I was very close between St. Louis and Chicago for the last spot in my rankings, as I dislike both systems equally. After multiple terrible trades (Jose Quintana/Aroldis Chapman) the Cubs lost elite prospects Gleyber Torres, Eloy Jimenez, and Dylan Cease. It is very hard for a system to recover after trades like these, especially if their major league club is not willing to part with any talented veterans. Nico Hoerner is their only top 100 prospect, and may be their only one for quite a while. Oscar de la Cruz was one of my favorite Cubs prospects a couple years ago, but injuries and a long suspension have dampened expectations. If he can turn things around, de la Cruz is probably the only possible candidate to make my Late-2019 top 100 list.

28.) Washington Nationals

  1. Carter Kieboom, SS (25)
  2. Luis V. Garcia, SS/2B/3B (72)
  3. Mason Denaburg, SP
  4. Tim Cate, SP
  5. Wil Crowe, SP
  6. Sterling Sharp, SP
  7. Yasel Antuna, SS/3B
  8. Jeremy De La Rosa, OF
  9. Seth Romero, SP
  10. Jose Sanchez, SS

WSH Overview: Out of all the MLB systems, I’d have to say the Nationals’ is the one lacking the most depth. Outside of the top two or three guys, I wouldn’t consider many of the rest to be quality prospects. Carter Kieboom just recently made his MLB debut, so when he ends up losing his prospect status, I would have the Nationals as the last ranked group. Luis V. Garcia is a decent prospect, but he has struggled mightily after his promotion to Double-A in 2019. To be fair he is only 18 years old (well under the average for Double-A), but I’m sure the Nationals expected a bit more. Mason Denaburg, the Nationals’ 2018 1st round pick, has yet to pitch in a professional game, but could wind up being their best pitching prospect. Yasel Antuna is an intriguing guy, but he is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery.

27.) Cleveland Indians

  1. Triston McKenzie, SP (51)
  2. Nolan Jones, 3B (88)
  3. Ethan Hankins, SP
  4. Tyler Freeman, SS/2B
  5. Oscar Mercado, OF
  6. Lenny Torres Jr., SP
  7. Brayan Rocchio, SS
  8. Bo Naylor, C
  9. Luis Oviedo, SP
  10. Daniel Johnson, OF

CLE Overview: The Indians have one of the youngest farm systems out of any team. While this means their rank is quite low, most of their players have plenty of time to develop, and I could see Cleveland making a big jump in my Late-2019 rankings. 2018 draftees, Noah “Bo” Naylor and Ethan Hankins are both guys I could see being in my Late-2019 Top 100 Rankings. Both offer high ceilings and they will both be 19 for the majority of the 2019 season. Oscar Mercado is one of the more underrated prospects in my opinion. On the brink of reaching the MLB, Mercado is a speedy outfielder who could make a big impact on the major league roster. The Indians’ top two prospects, Triston McKenzie and Nolan Jones, are only 21 years old and also have plenty of time to increase their stock. The only issue with having such a young farm system is that Cleveland won’t be able to get much help within the next year or two, but youth is always a benefit when it comes to building superstars.

26.) San Francisco Giants

Heliot Ramos, OF (SF)
  1. Joey Bart, C (12)
  2. Heliot Ramos, OF (80)
  3. Marco Luciano, SS
  4. Jake Wong, SP
  5. Shaun Anderson, SP
  6. Sean Hjelle, SP
  7. Seth Corry, SP
  8. Jairo Pomares, OF
  9. Jalen Miller, 2B
  10. Luis Toribio, 3B

SF Overview: The Giants possess one of the rarest things among their prospects, an elite catcher. Joey Bart is not only the best catching prospect, but he is one of the very best prospects at any position. It is extremely rare to see a catcher rated so highly as both a defender and as a hitter. As of now Bart has a huge gap between him and the next best catching prospect, but that may change when Adley Rutschman (projected #1 overall pick in 2019) gets drafted. Aside from Bart, Heliot Ramos and Marco Luciano are the only other two guys who I’d consider to be “top prospects”. Ramos has shown a lot of power amidst his inconsistency, and Luciano would likely have ranked in my top 100, but he is yet to appear in a professional game. The rest of the system has some talent, but I don’t see anyone currently in San Francisco’s system else ever reaching my top 100 list. Seth Corry is a name to watch as a guy who has been flying under the radar. Corry has dominated in Class-A, and I’d expect a promotion within weeks assuming he keeps it up.

25.) Philadelphia Phillies

  1. Adonis Medina, SP (58)
  2. Alec Bohm, 3B (70)
  3. Luis Garcia, SS (95)
  4. Adam Haseley, OF
  5. Spencer Howard, SP
  6. Mickey Moniak, OF
  7. Enyel De Los Santos, SP
  8. Jhailyn Ortiz, OF
  9. Cole Irvin, SP
  10. Kevin Gowdy, SP

PHI Overview: Even after losing their best prospect, Sixto Sanchez, in the trade for J.T. Realmuto, Philadelphia still had three prospects in my top 100 rankings. Both Alec Bohm and Luis Garcia started the 2019 season in Class-A, but Bohm already received a well deserved promotion to A-Advanced. One of the biggest names in the Phillies system Mickey Moniak, was the #1 overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. Yet to break out as a professional, Moniak is still only 20 years old and there is still a chance he turns out to be the star that the Phillies expected when taking him first overall. Outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz offers exciting raw power and Adam Haseley, another outfielder, has a very well rounded skill set that should keep him moving up the system. Medina, Howard, and De Los Santos offer relatively high floors as starters, and should all be contributing within a year.

24.) New York Yankees

  1. Estevan Florial, OF (69)
  2. Albert Abreu, SP
  3. Jonathan Loaisiga, SP
  4. Clarke Schmidt, SP
  5. Anthony Seigler, C
  6. Deivi Garcia, SP
  7. Domingo Acevedo, RP/SP
  8. Thairo Estrada, UTIL
  9. Luis Gil, SP
  10. Josh Stowers, OF

NYY Overview: For one of the best MLB rosters, the Yankees farm system is understandably depleted. Recent graduates include stars like Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier and Domingo German. Their only top 100 prospect in my rankings, Estevan Florial, is yet to play in 2019 due to a broken wrist. Recent 1st round picks, Clarke Schmidt and Anthony Seigler, seem to be worthy of those high selections, but are very far from contributing to the Yankees. 2017 2nd round pick, Matt Sauer, would have ranked in the Yankees’ top 10 list, but will miss all of 2019 and a large part of the 2020 season due to Tommy John surgery. With Estrada and Loaisiga already called up to the MLB, Domingo Acevedo or Albert Abreu could be next. Both at Double-A, with the amount of injuries to the Yankees’ MLB team, Acevedo or Abreu could be up before expected.

23.) Boston Red Sox

  1. Michael Chavis, 3B/2B (56)
  2. Darwinzon Hernandez, SP (86)
  3. Bobby Dalbec, 3B
  4. Tristan Casas, 1B
  5. Antoni Flores, SS
  6. Jarren Duran, OF
  7. C.J. Chatham, SS
  8. Bryan Mata, SP
  9. Jay Groome, SP
  10. Tanner Houck, SP

BOS Overview: Ever since losing Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, and Luis Alexander Basabe in the Chris Sale trade, Boston has not had the same top tier talent. Chavis, my number 56 overall prospect, may be the exception. After being called up to Boston early in the 2019 season, Chavis has gotten off to an extremely hot start. Darwinzon Hernandez also got a taste of the majors, pitching well in one relief appearance before being optioned back to Double-A. #9 prospect, Jay Groome, has been derailed by injuries, but may be Boston’s best pitching prospect when healthy. Antoni Flores is a guy who I could see doing very well, but he has not had enough at-bats to constitute a top-100 ranking.

22.) New York Mets

Ronny Mauricio, SS (NYM)
  1. Peter Alonso, 1B (14)
  2. Andres Gimenez, SS (53)
  3. Ronny Mauricio, SS (75)
  4. Anthony Kay, SP
  5. Adrian Hernandez, OF
  6. Simeon Woods-Richardson, SP
  7. Mark Vientos, 3B
  8. Junior Santos, SP
  9. David Peterson, SP
  10. Shervyen Newton, SS

NYM Overview: One of the best rookie performances so far in 2019 has been Pete Alonso’s amazing stretch with the Mets. Taking opponents by storm, Alonso already has 10 HRs in just over 100 at bats. Alonso will soon no longer be “prospect eligible”, which will most likely make the Mets system drop in the rankings. Shortstops Andres Gimenez and Ronny Mauricio are two former international signees who will likely be the Mets’ future SS/2B combo if all goes well. The Mets pitching lacks a “front of the rotation” guy after the trade of Justin Dunn, but they still have quality depth with David Peterson, Anthony Kay, and Simeon Woods-Richardson all projected to be mid-to-back end rotation guys.

21.) Milwaukee Brewers

  1. Keston Hiura, 2B (22)
  2. Corey Ray, OF (81)
  3. Mauricio Dubon, SS/2B
  4. Brice Turang, SS
  5. Joe Gray Jr., OF
  6. Lucas Erceg, 3B
  7. Larry Ernesto, OF
  8. Troy Stokes Jr., OF
  9. Tristan Lutz, OF
  10. Marco Feliciano, C

MIL Overview: Keston Hiura is the gem of the Brewers’ system. The former #9 overall pick has been excellent at the plate, and is looking like he will make a huge impact sometime in 2019. The Brewers’ second top 100 prospect is Corey Ray. The #5 overall pick in 2016, Ray had struggled in 2016 and 2017, not living up to the expectations of a top five pick. 2018 was a breakout year for Ray as he showed his exciting 5-tool abilities. Both Ray and Hiura started their 2019 seasons in Triple-A, so both may be up in Milwaukee as early as June/July. Their top three prospects (and five out of the top ten), are in Triple-A, so the Brewers should have some available talent during the 2019 season. Although all ten of the Brewers top prospects ore position players, they do have some quality pitching prospects as well. Starters Zack Brown and Trey Supak narrowly missed my MIL top 10, and both are having great starts to 2019.