The NFC East had a rebound year in 2016 after being the laughing stock of the league in 2015, when the Redskins won the division with just nine wins.
This past year, the 13-3 Cowboys were one of the best teams in the entire NFL; the Giants made the playoffs with 11 wins; the Redskins had a chance to be the third team in the division to make the playoffs, but couldn’t get it done in the final stretch of the season; and the Eagles showed promise in a “rebuilding” year with a first-year quarterback.
Here are some of the biggest needs for each team going into the 2017 season.
Dallas Cowboys (13-3 last year)
- The Cowboys main priority is finding a consistent defensive end to rush the passer. It’s been their weakest link for a few years now, and they need to form a solid pass rush if they want to get over the hump in the playoffs.
- The Cowboys have one of the best offensive lines in the league, but the right tackle position needs to be addressed via the draft or free agency. Doug Free has been the guy for years, but he recently said he’s considering retiring, plus he’s the clear weak link in a strong unit.
- Terrance Williams has been the Cowboys’ #2 receiver for a few years now, but he’s a free agent this year and the Cowboys should look to upgrade here in a strong draft filled with good receivers. I wouldn’t be shocked if Williams walks in free agency, but either way, DAL should look to find another reliable receiver to upgrade an already-explosive offense.
- The Cowboys have a decision to make in regards to Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr (corners); it’s likely they won’t keep both. Similarly, both JJ Wilcox and Barry Church (safeties) are free agents. One will probably walk. Look for them to draft a safety, corner, or both.
Other Needs (QB, TE, OG)
- With Tony Romo likely hitting the market, the Cowboys will have to draft another QB (or get one via free agency) to backup Dak Prescott.
- Jason Witten is a beast, but he’s clearly headed toward the end of his career. DAL has a few young guys behind him, but DAL would love to get a tight end who can spread the field and make plays in the passing game.
- Ronald Leary is set to make the big bucks in free agency, and DAL likely won’t be able to keep him in house. They’ve put a clear priority on the offensive line, and I doubt they stray from that strategy now.
New York Giants (11-5 last year)
- Ereck Flowers simply isn’t the answer for the Giants at right tackle, and they need to find someone reliable to protect Eli Manning’s blind side. I’d be shocked if Flowers is the guy going into next year.
- The Giants have been in dire need of a reliable tight end for years now, and this is a good time to draft one. I think the Giants will draft OJ Howard (ALA) or David Njoku (MIA) in the first round, and that should change their offensive firepower significantly.
- Paul Perkins didn’t exactly prove to be an every-down back, and the Giants really need someone who can carry the load to take some pressure off the passing game. Rashad Jennings was cut already, and the Giants definitely will draft a back, if not find one in free agency.
- The Giants have a strong defensive line and one of the most talented secondaries in football, but they need some guys between them to do the dirty work. The G-men need to get a linebacker or two to help fill an already-good defense.
- I know Giants fans think Eli will play forever (and rightfully so), but he’s not getting any younger. Backup QB Ryan Nassib is an impending FA, and it doesn’t look like he’s in the Giants future plans. They need to start looking to develop a future QB.
Other Needs (DE, DT)
- The Giants lock to stockpile defensive lineman, and even though they franchised JJP, I bet they’ll grab another body or two to throw on the D-line.
Washington Redskins (8-7-1 last year)
- The Redskins franchised Kirk Cousins for the second year in a row, but they still have time to sign him to a long-term deal or trade him. Figuring that out is their #1 priority.
Defense (DL, DE, ILB, S)
- The Redskins need to shore up their defense basically everywhere. They will definitely draft a guy or two to play along the defensive line, and they will need to do the same for the linebacker position.
- They currently have DeAngelo Hall as their starting safety, but he’s old and unreliable. They need a young guy back there.
- Both Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson are free agents, and it’s doubtful that the Skins keep both, if not either of them. They need a #1 receiver to pair with Cousins for the future.
- The Skins have a solid offensive line, but definitely need a guard.
- As mentioned, the Redskins have a solid offensive line. But they couldn’t find a reliable back to consistently run the football successfully. Robert Kelley showed the most promise, but I bet they will look to draft another back.
Other Needs (P, K)
- The Skins have one of the worst punters in the league, and a pretty bad field-goal kicker too. It’s not flashy or sexy, but they need to find a replacement for one or both of these guys.
Philadelphia Eagles (7-9 last year)
- The Eagles may have very well found their franchise QB, but they need to give him some help. Clemson’s Mike Williams could be the fit at receiver.
- Ryan Matthews hasn’t been reliable his entire career. The Eagles need someone to pound the football, thus putting Wentz in a better position to succeed through the air.
- The Eagles defense was explosive at times, but definitely showed flaws. The major flaw was at corner. They will for certain draft a guy who they hope will be a day-1 starter at this position.
- The Eagles need to upgrade their inconsistent offensive line. With the franchise QB locked in, the next move is protecting him and putting weapons around him.
Other Needs: Defensive Line depth, Kicker