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NFC East: Examining The Division's Decisions During Draft Weekend

I'm still in the process of digesting the Cowboys' draft class, but something stood out to me during our wall-to-wall coverage of the 2015 NFL Draft this past weekend.

Take a closer look at the draft picks throughout the NFC East, and you can see the Cowboys' rivals gearing up to contend for the top spot. In a division that hasn't seen a repeat champion since 2004, the difference between the playoffs and not is razor thin – just ask the 2013 Cowboys and the 2014 Eagles.

So it's no surprise at all to see the Eagles, Giants and Redskins addressing some of the very problems that knocked them out of division contention last fall with their premium draft picks.

Last year's draft brought several names worth knowing into this division, including Odell Beckham Jr., Jordan Matthews and Bashaud Breeland. Here's a brief look at this year's additions, which could begin causing problems for the Cowboys in short order.

New York Giants

There isn't a pick here that's as flashy as Odell Beckham Jr., who claimed NFL Rookie of the Year honors after a ridiculous debut deason.

There are, however, several selections that – should they pan out – will make the Giants a better team right away. New York averaged 3.6 yards per carry last season, and 3.3 yards per carry in the two losses to Dallas. The Giants' ground game was woeful, and their line has struggled to protect Eli Manning for several years now. To that end, the selection of Ereck Flowers at No. 9 overall makes perfect sense, and it's in keeping with Tom Coughlin's desire that his team play more like the Cowboys.

Landon Collins was widely considered a first-round talent, and the Giants managed to acquire him at No. 33 overall. The Alabama safety might have been the best player on the board, but it was also a need New York couldn't afford to ignore after parting ways with both Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown.

The final marquee pick would be Owamagbe Odighizuwa, who garnered a lot of attention in Dallas. He's got freakish athleticism and should be a candidate to compete for big snaps early on – especially if the Giants can't coax any production out of fellow third-round pick Damontre Moore.

I honestly don't think the Giants are very far away from contending for a playoff spot, despite their disappointing finishes the past two years. If Flowers and Odighizuwa can make meaningful contributions right away, it could go a long way.

Philadelphia Eagles

I'll get back to the Eagles' first-round selection in a minute, but let's look over their entire draft class for a second.

Philadelphia made six selections in the 2015 draft, and half of them play the same position – cornerback. That shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who watched Dez Bryant abuse Bradley Fletcher last December at Lincoln Financial Field, or anyone that's seen Philly's struggles in the secondary during Chip Kelly's coaching tenure.

Much like Byron Jones in Dallas, Eagles' second-round pick Eric Rowe is expected to begin at corner but has the versatility to play safety. Late-round picks JaCory Shepherd and Randall Evans should help bolster a position that has three players entering contract years.

Back to the first round, it certainly would have been interesting to see Kelly trade away the house in an effort to obtain Marcus Mariota. Such as it is, it looks like he'll be working with Sam Bradford – though he at least has a new weapon in Nelson Agholor. Similar to Collins in New York, Agholor was sorely needed after the offseason departure of Jeremy Maclin. If he meets expectations, he should form a dangerous duo with the more physical Jordan Matthews.

The third round selection of Jordan Hicks seems to be puzzling some in Eagles territory, but combined with Mychal Kendricks, Kiko Alonso and DeMeco Ryans, it should add to Philly's already-stout front seven.

Given the transition at quarterback and the addition of DeMarco Murray, there's so much we don't know about how Philly will compare to last year. If they can fix their secondary, though, it'd shore up one of the biggest problems of the Kelly Era in Philadelphia.

Washington Redskins

The early word in Washington is that No. 5 overall pick Brandon Scherff is going to play tackle, but this certainly seemed like a move reminiscent of Dallas drafting Zack Martin last spring.

The Redskins passed on Leonard Williams, who was widely considered the top talent in this draft, to secure a Day 1 starter to beef up their offensive line and help Alfred Morris regain his Pro Bowl form. If that wasn't enough, the Redskins spent a fourth-round pick on Alabama guard Arie Kouandijo. There's no telling if those two have the potential to be a rookie All-Pro, like Martin was, but the pick makes sense for a franchise whose fortunes are tied to the health of Robert Griffin III.

Speaking of Griffin, he's got to feel good about some of the weapons he gained this weekend. Third-round pick Matt Jones is absolutely monstrous at 6-2, 231 pounds and could be quite a complement to Morris. The pick after Jones, Duke receiver Jamison Crowder, brings top-level speed and skill as a return man to a receiver corps that already featured Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson.

Mississippi State defensive end Preston Smith appears to be the heir apparent to departed pass rusher Brian Orakpo, though that's a little bit curious. At 6-5, 271 pounds, Smith looks more like a down defensive lineman, but it's likely he'll be tried as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Either way, it's another piece the Redskins can add to their front seven.

My main impression is that the Redskins' fortunes are directly tied to whether Griffin can rediscover his 2012 form. It's a long road, but two impact offensive linemen and two readymade contributors at the skill positions are a good way to help boost Griffin's performance.

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