With the 2022 NFL Draft now over, we can accurately re-assess the depth charts of teams around the NFL. In this series, we’ll be taking a look at players who either gained or lost value based on what their team did during the draft.
The draft will change the storyline for many teams. Some veterans are at risk of losing their jobs. Then there are bottom-dweller teams who rebuilt their offense to be able to compete within the next couple of seasons, allowing many fans and dynasty gamers to get excited.
The NFC East was involved in some of the more shocking trades of the offseason, with players such as D’Andre Swift and Darren Waller finding new homes, but after that, the division stayed pretty consistent. Let’s take a look at how the NFL Draft and free agency have impacted the NFC East.
Dallas Cowboys Draft Class
Round 1 – Pick 26: Mazi Smith, DT Michigan
Round 2 – Pick 27 (58): Luke Schoonmaker, TE Michigan
Round 3 – Pick 27 (90): DeMarvion Overshown, LB Texas
Round 4 – Pick 27 (129): Villami Fehoko Jr., EDGE San Jose State
Round 5 – Pick 35 (169): Asim Richards, OL North Carolina
Round 6 – Pick 1 (178): Eric Scott Jr., CB Southern Miss
Round 6 – Pick 35 (212): Deuce Vaughn, RB Kansas State
Round 7 – Pick 27 (244): Jalen Brooks, WR South Carolina
Winner: Tony Pollard, RB
For years fantasy managers have been waiting for Tony Pollard to have the chance to lead a backfield finally, and 2023 seems like it’s ultimately the year. The Cowboys released Ekeziel Elliott earlier in the off-season, which paved the way for Pollard to take over this backfield full-time.
However, leading up to the draft, the Cowboys were rumored to be targeting a running back and finished as one of the top two or three favorites to draft an RB in the first round. Fortunately for Pollard, the Cowboys didn’t take a running back in the first two days of the draft and only added Deuce Vaughn in the 6th round. While Vaughn’s unique skill set will garner a handful of offensive plays a game, he shouldn’t cut into Pollard’s immense volume.
Lastly, Dallas’s offensive line should be much healthier this season. Tyron Smith, Terrence Steele, and Tyler Biadasz should all be healthy for 2023 alongside Tyler Smith and Zack Martin. When this unit is healthy, they are one of the best lines in the league.
Loser: Jake Ferguson, TE
The Cowboys only used one premium pick on a skill position player, which came when they selected Luke Schoonmaker, a tight end out of Michigan, in the second round. There were rumors that the Cowboys wanted to add a tight end after the departure of Dalton Schultz this off-season, but when they didn’t select Dalton Kincaid or Michael Mayer in the first round, I’m sure Ferguson breathed a sigh of relief.
However, Dallas shocked many people by taking the fifth TE of the draft, Schoonmaker, 58th overall. I don’t think this selection automatically unseats Ferguson as TE1 in Dallas going into the season. Still, adding another tight end, with Day 2 draft capital, will make for an interesting position battle in the preseason.
Washington Commanders Draft Class
Round 1 – Pick 16: Emmanuel Forbes, CB Mississippi State
Round 2 – Pick 16 (47): Jartavius Martin, DB Illinois
Round 3 – Pick 34 (97): Ricky Stromberg, C Arkansas
Round 4 – Pick 16 (118): Braedon Daniels, OT Utah
Round 5 – Pick 3 (137): K.J. Henry, EDGE Clemson
Round 6 – Pick 16 (193): Chris Rodriguez Jr., RB Kentucky
Round 7 – Pick 16 (233): Andre Jones, LB Louisiana
Winner: Sam Howell, QB
This off-season, the Commanders decided they would move forward with Sam Howell as their starting quarterback. The franchise brought in a valuable person to help Howell succeed as best he could. It may not be a stud receiver or workhorse running back, but he may be even more critical.
Washington hired former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy to be the new OC for Howell and to help aid in his development as a passer. Bieniemy has been instrumental in the development of Patrick Mahomes and the creation of their high-powered offense, and there’s not one person better suited for this position than he is. Howell will be surrounded by weapons on the outside in Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, and Curtis Samuel, along with Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson in the backfield.
Also, the Commanders selected two offensive linemen early in the draft that should be contributors as they grow alongside their young quarterback. Howell has been given all the support and resources to succeed in Washington as their potential quarterback of the future.
Loser: Brian Robinson, RB
There aren’t a lot of losers on this Washington offense because they frankly didn’t bring in many skill position players this offseason; however, if we want to point to one player, it’d have to be Brian Robinson. Drafting Chris Rodriguez in the 6th round isn’t a complete death sentence to Robinson’s fantasy value, but it sure doesn’t do him any favors. Robinson struggled with efficiency last season, averaging less than 4 YPC last season, and will not have to compete with both Rodriguez and Antonio Gibson for touches.
Gibson should fill the majority of the third down and receiving role that was vacated with the release of J.D. McKissic so that Robinson will be relegated to mostly early down work. If Robinson’s inefficiency continues, the Commanders could turn to Chris Rodriguez for a spark. Rodriguez rushed for 3,643 yards and 33 touchdowns on 6.2 YPC at Kentucky.
Philadelphia Eagles Draft Class
Round 1 – Pick 9: Jalen Carter, DT Georgia
Round 1 – Pick 30: Nolan Smith, EDGE Georgia
Round 3 – Pick 2 (65): Tyler Steen, OT Alabama
Round 4 – Pick 3 (105): Kelee Ringo, DB Georgia
Round 6 – Pick 11 (188): Tanner McKee, QB Stanford
Round 7 – Pick 32 (249): Moro Ojomo, EDGE Texas
Winner: Jalen Hurts, QB
It’s hard to determine who was actually a “winner” in this offense, but it just might be Jalen Hurts. Hurts took a major step forward in 2022 and became the NFL leader in fantasy points per game with 25.6 while leading the Eagles to the Super Bowl. He was rewarded handsomely for his efforts with a new five-year, $255 million contract that solidifies him as the quarterback of the future in Philly.
Along with the figurative protection that comes with his contract, Hurts was given real protection on the field. Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson, two All-Pro linemen and potential Hall of Famers, re-signed with the Eagles and paused the retirement discussion for at least another year. Their return will help preserve the best offensive line in football.
Lastly, Hurts has a shiny, new weapon to work with in the backfield after the Eagles acquired D’Andre Swift from the Lions. Swift definitely muddies the water in the Philadelphia backfield, but his skillset as a pass catcher will be a nice bonus for Hurts in 2023.
Loser: Rashaad Penny, RB
Speaking of the Philadelphia backfield, there might not be a single player in dynasty who’s been on a bigger roller coaster ride over the last few months than Rashaad Penny. Penny signed with the Eagles on March 14, and everyone salivated about the idea of him running behind that tremendous offensive line if he could ever stay healthy.
However, the idea of Penny in Philly was short-lived after the Eagles traded for D’Andre Swift during the draft. Swift’s time in Detroit was marred with inefficiency and a weird lack of usage, but he should thrive in this offense. I expect there to be some sort of committee between the two of them, Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott, but the acquisition of Swift significantly limits Penny’s ceiling.
New York Giants Draft Class
Round 1 – Pick 24: Deonte Banks, CB Maryland
Round 2 – Pick 26 (57): John Michael Schmitz, C Minnesota
Round 3 – Pick 10 (73): Jalin Hyatt, WR Tennessee
Round 5 – Pick 38 (178): Eric Gray, RB Oklahoma
Round 6 – Pick 32 (209): Tre Hawkins III, CB Old Dominion
Round 7 – Pick 26 (243): Jordan Riley, DT Oregon
Round 7 – Pick 37 (254): Gervarrius Owens, S Houston
Winner: Daniel Jones, QB
The New York Giants made Daniel Jones their quarterback of the future when they gave him a four-year, $160 million contract extension this offseason after Jones’s best season as a starter.
The Giants then needed to surround Jones with as much help as possible. In free agency, they traded for Darren Waller and signed Parris Campbell and Jamison Crowder. Then in the draft, the Giants selected the speedy Jalin Hyatt in the third round. All of these additions give Jones a ton of new weapons to throw the ball to, and it’s now or never for him in New York.
Lastly, the selection of John Michael Schmitz may go under the radar, but it’s crucial for this team. The Giants were one of the worst blocking teams in the NFL last season, specifically along the interior, and JMS should step in and start immediately for the Giants at center.
Loser: Daniel Bellinger, TE
All the additional pass catchers brought in this offseason are a plus for Daniel Jones, who desperately needed more help on the outside, but that also means that some players will see a decline in production this year. It’s hard to pinpoint which wide receiver is a loser for this team since it went from barren to suddenly full of six or seven potential starters.
However, there is one pass catcher that definitely lost: Daniel Bellinger. Bellinger had a promising start to his rookie season and showed remarkable chemistry with Jones until an eye injury derailed the second half of the year. A player who looked prime to take a giant year-two leap now seems destined to be relegated to backup duty with the addition of Darren Waller.
Waller is getting older and struggling to stay on the field due to injuries, but when he’s active, he still produces at a TE1 level.
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