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Sent: 04-27-13

E-GIANTS
Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he is one of only four sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.

2013 NFL DRAFT:
NFC EAST RIVALS STOCK UP,
TAKE AIM AT GIANTS

By Aaron Klein
While you were you giving undivided attention to what the New York Giants were doing in the 2013 Draft -- at least, you are paying attention now -- the three other NFC East teams also feasted on the available college players, with varying success.
It is important to note that while we have no idea how well these players will develop, it isn't unfair to try to gauge which team -- Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington -- may have had the best draft.
We need to take a close at what Giants rivals did since they'll play each other twice each this season, so let's do it. However, one must get over the "reach" factor. The draft is different now, thanks to the rookie wage scale that gives teams a little more freedom to take chances, as well as a diverse (read: questionable) draft pool this year.

DALLAS COWBOYS We had the first "reach" of the division when Dallas, after trading down with San Francisco from No. 18 to No. 31, selected Wisconsin center Travis Frederick. Cowboy fans fainted in horror, talking heads on television exploded and everyone blamed crazy Jerry Jones for gambling away his teamís future, a mini-Al Davis with none of the charisma.
Except this: Frederick can play. In fact, he might be the Dallas center for 10 years and no one will remember that he was a supposed reach. Some had him in the third round, but Dallas obviously decided that he was the player it wanted. With the power coming up the middle that the Giants and Redskins can bring, Dallas, with a relatively weak offensive line and poor running game heading into the draft, needed some beef and could wait for the sizzle.

Dallasí sizzle came in Rounds 2 and 3 when they took San Diego State tight end Gavin Escobar and Baylor wide receiver Terrance Williams. Escobar has great hands and could have an immediate impact as a blocker; donít forget that veteran Jason Witten is entering his 11th season. Having two tight ends -- assuming head coach Jason Garrett learned his less while watching Martellus Bennett post career numbers with the Giants -- could create matchup problems for the Giants linebackers and secondary. The jury is less sure about Williams as some saw him as a late rounder and others see him becoming a solid No. 2 receiver sooner than later.
Look out for Georgia Southern safety J.J. Wilcox, who could surprise and earn a starting job, next season if not 2013; and William & Mary cornerback B.W. Webb, who could be the Cowboys' nickel corner right now.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES When the Eagles hired new head coach Chip Kelly, the division shuddered with the idea that he would bring in his supersonic read-option offense from Oregon. While he still may, he didn't show all of his cards in the draft. While first-round pick Lane Johnson is expected to start at right tackle He rookie is a converted tight end and quarterback and was probably the most athletic tackle in the draft, if not the best.
Then Kelly, who rarely used tight ends in the passing game at Oregon, took Stanford tight end Zach Ertz in the second round, who will work behind seven-year vet Brent Celek. Ertz may be more of a receiving threat than Ertz, though not as good a blocker. In other words, he's going to be a problem for Giants linebackers.

Perhaps the biggest player by name the Eagles drafted is quarterback Matt Barkley, who is the anti-Mike Vick. His presence could signal the exit by trade of second-year quarterback Nick Foles (vastly underrated and in the wrong system). However, Barkleyís style doesnít fit the Kelly offense... unless the offense we think he wants to run isn't what he plans to run. Oregon employed running quarterbacks because thatís what they had on the roster. That was by design since Kelly recruited those kinds of player they needed in order to dominate the PAC-12, which they did. Cue creepy, mysterious music.

However, the player who could make the most immediate impact on the Eagles in 2013 isnít Johnson, Ertz or Barkley. Instead, defensive tackle Bennie Logan, formerly of LSU, could move in and start, giving Philadelphia extra pressure up the middle and testing teams with vulnerable centers and guards (like, maybe, the Giants). At 6-2, 309, Logan is built like a nose tackle with quickness and excellent run-stopping skills.
Keep your eyes on fifth-round safety Earl Wolff out of N.C. State, who could play past free agent veterans Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung and notch plenty of snaps and maybe a starting job.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS The Redskins went without a first-round pick this year, thanks to the trade with Cleveland that allowed them to pick quarterback Robert Griffin III (aka RG-3) last April, and by the time they got to the second round, they were already rolling the dice.
Their second-round pick, N.C. State cornerback David Amerson, has been called a boom-or-bust by many, and for a team with pressing needs on the offensive and defensive lines, the team took a shots at tight end with Florida's Jordan Reed, who is built more like a fullback or H-back. After Amerson, they might have scored a value pick with Fresno State strong safety Phillip Thomas, could surprise and leapfrog Brandon Merriweather to start.
The player the Giants might have to worry about sooner than later is Florida State scatback Chris Thompson, who the Redskins took in the fifth round. He's a fast bowling ball and complementary back to Alfred Morris. Though coming in with serious injury issues (back), Thompson is a threat as a receiver, too. However, he needs plenty of work at the pro level on pass protection and, of course, must remain healthy. Still, he could surprise.

Have something to say? Ask a question?
Send it over to aklein22@verizon.net
and follow me on Twitter @_AaronKlein_
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Check out Dave's website at E-GIANTS where you can subscribe to his newsletters which run much more frequently than what is available here.
- Team Giants

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