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By Rob Rang
(CBS) – It will take at least three years before we can truly assess how the 32 NFL teams fared during the three-day draft. Readily apparent is that teams take different approaches, from going for the best available talent to focusing on team needs — or some combination therein — to gambling on character concerns and long-term potential.
Dallas Cowboys: C
The Cowboys pulled one of the early surprises of the draft, trading up to select LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne at No. 6 overall. Considering the team signed free agent Brandon Carr and former starter Mike Jenkins and last season’s third corner, Orlando Scandrick, Dallas now boasts arguably the league’s most talented cornerbacks group. While overshadowed at Boise State, defensive end Tyrone Crawford is an intriguing athlete whose size and athleticism could be maximized in Dallas’ scheme. Virginia Tech wideout Danny Coale is the opposite of most of Dallas’ wide receivers. He’s a good athlete who runs excellent routes and has reliable hands, rather than an extraordinary athlete who isn’t quite as consistent between the sidelines as the team might want. Watch out for underrated safety Matt Johnson, who was a consistent playmaker for the 2010 FCS champion Eastern Washington Eagles and could be in position for early playing time considering the Cowboys’ struggles recently at safety.
New York Giants: A-
Every year it seems the Giants find a falling star in the first round. They have done the same in 2012. Running back David Wilson wasn’t widely projected as a first-round pick, but he registered more yards after contact than any other runner in the 2012 draft, including Trent Richardson. Considering the physicality of the NFC East division, that toughness should serve him well as a compliment to Ahmad Bradshaw. Just as they did a few years ago when Hakeem Nicks was surprisingly around late first round, the Giants may have had a star drop to them with LSU’s Rueben Randle slip to No. 63 overall. Cornerback Jayron Hosley is a gamble due to off-field concerns but he’s a scrappy defender with proven ball skills. The Giants might wish they’d spent a higher selection on a tight end rather than wait to take unpolished Adrien Robinson out of Cincinnati in the fourth round, but there is no questioning his upside. Finally, as the Giants tend to do, the club found solid developmental value for their offensive and defensive lines with OTs Brandon Mosley and Matt McCants, as well as foreign-born DT Markus Kuhn.
Philadelphia Eagles: A
So much of the focus of the Eagles’ wide-9 defense is placed on the outside pass rushers. For this scheme to work effectively, however, the team needs penetrating interior defenders — just like Fletcher Cox, the best pass-rushing defensive tackle in the draft, who could prove a steal at No. 12 overall. The Eagles landed arguably the draft’s most explosive linebacker in Cal’s Mychal Kendricks, the reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and an ideal wide-9 edge rusher in Marshall’s Vinny Curry in the third round. I’m not as high on Arizona’s Nick Foles as some, he has made quick decisions due to his experience in the spread offense, which could help him in the Eagles’ scheme. Philadelphia found excellent value throughout the draft’s third day, landing talented cover corner and return specialist Brandon Boykin in the fourth as well as reliable possession receiver Marvin McNutt and versatile offensive lineman Brandon Washington in the sixth. The team could be rewarded for their seventh-round gamble on highly touted prep running back Bryce Brown, who’ll get a shot for playing time behind star LeSean McCoy. Considering how few holes the Eagles had entering this draft, they’ll once again feature one of the most talented rosters in the NFL.