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NEEDS FILLED — The biggest need the Cowboys filled on draft day was Jerry Jones’ need to atone for passing on Randy Moss 12 years ago; he exorcised that demon by trading up to get another talented-but-troubled receiver in Dez Bryant. Didn’t hurt that Dallas could use some downfield targets for Tony Romo, especially if re-signing Miles Austin becomes a problem. The Cowboys also shored up the linebacker position with second-round pick Sean Lee and threw a couple Day Three selections at their secondary with fourth-rounder Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (projected to play safety) and sixth-round CB Jamar Wall.
NEEDS IGNORED — With Flozell Adams gone, the expectation was that Dallas would dip into a deep tackle class for a replacement; instead they waited until Round 6 to select Sam Young, who is listed on their depth chart at left tackle but whom many scouts thought would have to move inside to guard to make it in the NFL. The Cowboys also opted not to address their defensive line until their final selection, taking DT Sean Lissemore 234th overall.
BEST PICK — Bryant is the classic boom-or-bust selection; he could turn out to be the next Moss... or the next Charles Rogers. From a value perspective, fourth-rounder Owusu-Ansah is the Cowboys’ best selection; he’ll help immediately on special teams and has the size and talent to develop into an outstanding NFL safety.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — Assuming the Bryant pick is a success, the Cowboys hit on each of the first three picks they made, so it’s tough to find missed opportunity there. If you wanted to quibble — and if Bryant flops, many will — you could point out players like OT Rodger Saffold and S Taylor Mays were still on the board at positions of greater perceived need when Jones traded up to scratch his Moss itch.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Bryant should start taking looks away from Roy Williams sooner rather than later, but between the track record of rookie receivers, the loaded Cowboys receiving corps, and Bryant’s off-the-field issues it’s tough to bank on him for an immediate fantasy contribution. Dynasty leaguers, on the other hand, may be smelling what Jones is cooking with the Moss comparisons and make him potentially a top-five rookie pick.
New York Giants
NEEDS FILLED — The only team to make its own pick in every round and nothing more, the Giants went heavy on the defense. Specifically, they addressed key needs at defensive tackle (Linval Joseph, Round 2) and safety (Chad Jones, Round 3) and upgraded their pass rush with first-rounder Jason Pierre-Paul.
NEEDS IGNORED — The Giants were anticipating a linebacker in Round One; when that fell through (thanks, Al Davis), Big Blue didn’t address the position until Day Three (fourth-rounder Phillip Dillard and sixth-rounder Adrian Tracy). They also didn’t include a cornerback or offensive tackle, both areas of need, among their seven selections.
BEST PICK — New York not only addressed key needs on Day Two, they also scored tremendous value in Joseph, who has the strength to create havoc along the interior of the line, and Jones, who — if baseball is behind him and football becomes his focus — could provide a long-term solution in centerfield for the Giants.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — Rolando McClain was supposed to be there at 15, but when that fell through the Giants could have opted for smaller-but-speedier Sean Weatherspoon instead of Pierre-Paul. They made a similar choice in Round 2, taking Joseph over Daryl Washington and Sean Lee.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — The only member of the Giants’ draft class expected to handle the ball on a regular basis is seventh-round pick Matt Dodge... and he’s a punter.
NEEDS FILLED — Not only did the Eagles direct the bulk of their 13 picks at areas of need, they laser-focused the earlier selections at their top deficiencies: safety (second-round pick Nate Allen) and defensive end (first-rounder Brandon Graham and third-rounder Daniel Te’o-Nesheim).
NEEDS IGNORED — You’d think with a baker’s dozen worth of picks, uncertainty along the offensive line, and a draft class deep at the position... maybe at least one pick could be directed at a center, guard or tackle.
BEST PICK — Philly zoned in on Graham, identifying him as the best pass-rusher in the draft and trading up to get him. But they may have plucked an even better value in Round 5 in Ricky Sapp, who has the physical skills to develop into an elite pass-rushing specialist coming off the edge.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — The Eagles had four fourth-round picks and used two of them wisely on developmental quarterback Mike Kafka and intriguing tight end prospect Clay Harbor; however, they could have used at least one of the other two selections to target their offensive line with Bruce Campbell or Jason Fox.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Kafka gives Andy Reid an new Kevin Kolb to mold and form; dynasty leaguers can stash him deep on their roster and check back in 2012. Harbor won’t push Brent Celek any time soon, but he has the athleticism to be a fantasy factor in Philly’s WCO at some point down the road. Fifth-round WR Riley Cooper could sneak into the Eagles’ rotation (it’s not as if Hank Baskett and Jason Avant are locks), and RB Charles Scott could be a developmental WCO FB in the making — though he’ll be stuck behind Leonard Weaver for the foreseeable future.
NEEDS FILLED — Washington’s offensive line was brutal last season, so the Redskins targeted half of their picks at the position: First-round OT Trent Williams and seventh-rounders C Erik Cook and OT Selvish Capers.
NEEDS IGNORED — The combination of limited picks — only one in the first two days and just two of the first 173 selections — and an offensive line in serious need of rebuilding hamstrung the ‘Skins when it came to addressing other needs. So while draft day didn’t yield youthful help at quarterback, running back, safety, or defensive tackle at least two of those positions were addressed with veterans via trades or free agency.
BEST PICK — Williams should be the team’s left tackle for years to come, but he may not even be the best value at his position in the Redskins’ draft class. Capers is a converted tight end with the athleticism to fit Mike Shanahan’s zone blocking system; he could fill out and hold down the right side for years to come or maybe even develop well enough to the point that the more physical Williams slides across to the right.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — As per usual, Washington’s missed opportunities came in the 98 picks that went off the board between taking Williams fourth overall and LB Perry Riley at #103. Sure, the second-rounder netted Donovan McNabb, but maybe there needs to be a rule to protect Danny Snyder from himself and limit the number of picks the ‘Skins can give away.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Think of McNabb as the Redskins’ second-round pick, because there’s nothing else here that will help you. Sixth-rounder Dennis Morris will either be lodged behind Chris Cooley and Fred Davis at tight end or Mike Sellers at H-back, while seventh-round WR Terrence Austin has to scale a collection of veteran castoffs (Bobby Wade, Joey Galloway) and Washington’s 2008 second-rounders Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly just to crack the receiver rotation.