NFL Draft Preview

2021 NFC East Team Needs and Prospect Fits

by Hayden Winks
Updated On: April 2, 2021, 12:38 pm ET

As much as “don’t draft for need” gets mentioned with the NFL Draft, the truth is that teams do draft for need (and they should). That’s why I’m taking a top down approach in this column, spending far more time studying exact team needs than which prospects are actually good. I want to be specific about the exact position a team is looking for, so instead of listing “safety”, you’ll see “single-high free safety” or “two-high strong safety” when necessary. As for the mock draft part of the column, I’ll highlight each Round 1-3 pick in red and list their expected draft position (EDP) courtesy of Benjamin Robinson’s Grinding The Mocks. Consider everything here to be predictive rather than what I (a donkey) would do if I were calling the shots.


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Dallas Cowboys Team Needs


1. Outside Corner

Career backup Anthony Brown is slated to start at CB2 right now alongside 2020 second-rounder Trevon Diggs after Chidobe Awuzie left for Cincinnati. The jury is out on if Diggs can be a CB1, and the rest of the depth chart can be upgraded. This position group will take time to fix. Dallas was 20th in passing EPA defense.

1.10 Options: Patrick Surtain (EDP: 11), Jaycee Horn (15), Caleb Farley (16)

2.44 Options: Eric Stokes (EDP: 42), Tyson Campbell (44), Asante Samuel (49)

3.75 Options: Ifeatu Melifonwu (EDP: 65), Kelvin Joseph (69), Paulson Adebo (75)

3.99 Options: Israel Mukuamu (EDP: 97), Benjamin St-Juste (100), Camryn Bynum (102)


2. Free Safety

The safety that logged the most snaps (Xavier Woods) left in free agency free agency, and the current replacement is Dan Quinn favorite FS Domantae Kazee, who tore his Achilles last October and is signed to a cheap one-year contract. A long-term single-high safety is on the to do list with Quinn specializing in Cover 3.

1.10 Options: NA

2.44 Options: Richie Grant (EDP: 58), Andre Cisco (64), Jevon Holland (65)

3.75 Options: Jevon Holland (EDP: 65), Hamsah Nasirildeen (83), Caden Sterns (84)

3.99 Options: Caden Sterns (EDP: 84), Ar’Darius Washington (98), Damar Hamlin (108)


3. Defensive Tackle

The Cowboys might have a long-term starting defensive tackle in 2020 third-rounder Neville Gallimore, but it might already be time to move past pre-draft expectations for 2019 second-rounder Trysten Hill. He only has 10 tackles and 0.0 sacks in 12 career games. Part of the blame for the Cowboys’ No. 28 rushing EPA defense can be attributed to the interior line. Perhaps Gerald McCoy (quad) returns coming off his zero-snap 2020 season.

1.10 Options: Christian Barmore (EDP: 28)

2.44 Options: Levi Onwuzurike (EDP: 48), Daviyon Nixon (50)

3.75 Options: Jay Tufele (EDP: 74), Alim McNeill (74), Marvin Wilson (75)

3.99 Options: Jaylen Twyman (EDP: 91), Milton Williams (95), Tommy Togiai (101)


4. Slot Corner

Slot CB Jourdan Lewis was one of the biggest holes in the Cowboys’ porous defense last year, yet he signed a whopping three-year, $16.5M deal with $8M guaranteed this offseason. With limited guarantees beyond 2021, the Cowboys can find competition through the draft.

1.10 Options: NA

2.44 Options: Trevon Moehrig (EDP: 27), Asante Samuel (49), Aaron Robinson (51)

3.75 Options: Elijah Molden (EDP: 71)

3.99 Options: Israel Mukuamu (EDP: 97), Benjamin St-Juste (100), Camryn Bynum (102)



New York Giants Team Needs


1. Edge Rusher(s)

The Giants are in need of a pure pass rusher off the edge with OLB Kyler Fackrell (4.5 sacks) gone via free agency. The current list of edge rushers -- 2018 third-rounder Lorenzo Carter (IR, Achilles), 2019 third-rounder Oshane Ximines (IR, shoulder), 2020 seventh-rounder Carter Coughlin, and one-year signee Ifeadi Odenigbo -- are all unproven question marks.

1.11 Options: Kwity Paye (EDP: 18), Gregory Rousseau (21), Jaelan Phillips (23)

2.42 Options: Joseph Ossai (EDP: 41), Joe Tryon (48), Carlos Basham (51)

3.76 Options: Patrick Jones (EDP: 75), Ronnie Perkins (75), Rashad Weaver (85)


2. Offensive Guard

Inside, the Giants have 2018 UDFA C Nick Gates, 2018 second-round LG Will Hernandez, and they released 31-year-old RG Kevin Zeitler ($12M cap savings), making this a bottom-10 offensive line heading into the offseason. Ex-Texan Zach Fulton is currently in line to start at right guard.

1.11 Options: Rashawn Slater (EDP: 11), Alijah Vera-Tucker (17)

2.42 Options: Alex Leatherwood (EDP: 37), Wyatt Davis (46), Quinn Meinerz (61)

3.76 Options: Trey Smith (EDP: 63), Aaron Banks (102), Deonte Brown (111)


3. Center

Read the blurb from above.

1.11 Options: NA

2.42 Options: Landon Dickerson (EDP: 39), Creed Humphrey (46), Quinn Meinerz (61)

3.76 Options: Trey Hill (EDP: 75), Josh Myers (96), Kendrick Green (95)


4. Right Tackle

Nate Solder is returning, but he took a pay cut this offseason and will be 33 years old this season. Protecting Daniel Jones is what will keep GM David Gettleman’s job now that the skill group is fully set.

1.11 Options: Rashawn Slater (EDP: 11), Christian Darrisaw (17), Alijah Vera-Tucker (20)

2.42 Options: Teven Jenkins (EDP: 25), Jalen Mayfield (28), Dillon Radunz (55)

3.76 Options: Spencer Brown (EDP: 70), Walker Little (92), Brady Christensen (93)

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Philadelphia Eagles Team Needs


1. Outside Corner

CB1 Darius Slay only has one more season with guaranteed money and didn’t live up to his contract in 2020, and CB2 Avonte Maddox has been picked on. The new coaching staff also could look for a different type of corner if they play less Cover 1 man in favor of Cover 2 zone. The Eagles were 16th in passing EPA defense last season.

1.12 Options: Patrick Surtain (EDP: 11), Jaycee Horn (15), Caleb Farley (16)

2.37 Options: Eric Stokes (EDP: 42), Tyson Campbell (44), Asante Samuel (49)

3.70 Options: Ifeatu Melifonwu (EDP: 65), Kelvin Joseph (69), Paulson Adebo (75)

3.84 Options: RoDarius Williams (EDP: 83), Israel Mukuamu (97), Benjamin St-Juste (100)


2. Receiver (or Kyle Pitts)

Jalen Reagor profiles as a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver in the NFL, and 2019 sixth-rounder Travis Fulgham was benched down the stretch last year for players who were released this offseason. The Eagles’ next alpha receiver isn’t on the roster. Whether that’s a stereotypical X receiver or a speedster doesn’t matter because everything is being reset.

1.12 Options: Ja’Marr Chase (EDP: 6), Jaylen Waddle (10), DeVonta Smith (12)

2.37 Options: Rashod Bateman (EDP: 30), Kadarius Toney (31), Terrace Marshall (36)

3.70 Options: Tutu Atwell (EDP: 63), Dyami Brown (73), Tylan Wallace (81)

3.84 Options: Amon-Ra St. Brown (EDP: 80), Tylan Wallace (81), Seth Williams (92)


3. Slot Corner

Starting slot CB Nickell Robey-Coleman is a free agent, and I couldn’t name who would be the current starter. Maybe 2016 sixth-rounder Kevon Seymour? It’s another big need as the NFL transitions into a nickel-based league.

1.12 Options: NA

2.37 Options: CB/SS Trevon Moehrig (EDP: 27)

3.70 Options: Asante Samuel (EDP: 49), Aaron Robinson (51), Elijah Molden (71)

3.84 Options: Shaun Wade (EDP: 79), RoDarius Williams (83), Israel Mukuamu (97)


4. Linebacker(s)

The Eagles currently have Alex Singleton ($850k contract), UDFA T.J. Edwards, 2020 third-rounder Davion Taylor, 2020 sixth-rounder Shaun Bradley, 2020 UDFA Rashad Smith and 2020 UDFA Joe Bachie at off-ball linebacker. Plus, the new coaching staff will be prioritizing linebackers as they head into a two-high safety defense. 

1.12 Options: Micah Parsons (EDP: 13)

2.37 Options: Zaven Collins (EDP: 28), Jamin Davis (40), Nick Bolton (44)

3.70 Options: Jabril Cox (EDP: 56), Dylan Moses (67), Chazz Surratt (79)

3.84 Options: Chazz Surratt (EDP: 79), Baron Browning (80), Monty Rice (115)


Washington Team Needs


1. Quarterback

Ryan Fitzpatrick is an exciting one-year rental who is good enough for a playoff run with this roster, but if a long-term option is available, this is the biggest need in Washington. At 19th overall, it’s looking unlikely that one of the consensus top-five quarterbacks will fall. The franchise quarterback could be found in 2022.

1.19 Options: Justin Fields (EDP: 5), Trey Lance (6), Mac Jones (17)

2.51 Options: Kyle Trask (EDP: 53)

3.74 Options: Jamie Newman (EDP: 95), Kellen Mond (107), Davis Mills (113)

3.82 Options: Jamie Newman (EDP: 95), Kellen Mond (107), Davis Mills (113)


2. Left Tackle

Washington’s entire offensive line returns in 2021, but there’s room for an upgrade over former UDFA Cornelius Lucas who will be a free agent next offseason. The 30-year-old has bounced around the league as a swing tackle.

1.19 Options: Christian Darrisaw (17), Alijah Vera-Tucker (20), Samuel Cosmi (24)

2.51 Options: Alex Leatherwood (37), Dillon Radunz (55), Jackson Carman (57)

3.74 Options: James Hudson (66), Walker Little (92), Brady Christensen (93)

3.82 Options: Walker Little (92), Brady Christensen (93), Dan Moore (95)


3. Off-Ball Linebacker

Two of the four off-ball linebackers in last year’s rotation won’t be back and former first-rounder Reuben Foster hasn’t played in two years due to a serious knee injury. Washington’s current starters (Jon Bostic, Cole Holcomb) aren’t long-term options and coverage liabilities.

1.19 Options: Micah Parsons (EDP: 13), Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (25), Zaven Collins (28)

2.51 Options: Jamin Davis (EDP: 40), Nick Bolton (44), Jabril Cox (56)

3.74 Options: Dylan Moses (EDP: 67), Chazz Surratt (79), Baron Browning (80)

3.82 Options: Chazz Surratt (EDP: 79), Baron Browning (80), Monty Rice (115)


4. Outside Receiver

Terry McLaurin has a running mate in slot WR Curtis Samuel, but the third receiver spot is wide open still and 79% of Washington’s pass attempts came in 11-personnel last year. There’s enough speed throughout the offense, so the priority should be finding more size.

1.19 Options: Rashod Bateman (EDP: 30)

2.51 Options: Terrace Marshall (EDP: 36), Dyami Brown (73)

3.74 Options: Dyami Brown (EDP: 73), Tylan Wallace (81), Seth Williams (92)

3.82 Options: Seth Williams (92), Nico Collins (97), Sage Surratt (98)


5. Free Safety

It’s possible 2020 seventh-round breakout SS Kamren Curl plays free safety, but he didn’t take many snaps there last year, at least in single-high looks. If Del Rio wants to play Cover 1 and Cover 3 again, he needs to find a true free safety. 29-year-old former UDFA Deshazor Everett is a depth option, not a long-term starter. 

1.19 Options: NA

2.51 Options: Richie Grant (EDP: 58), Andre Cisco (64)

3.74 Options: Caden Sterns (EDP: 84), Ar’Darius Washington (98)

3.82 Options: Ar’Darius Washington (EDP: 98), Damar Hamlin (108), Richard LeCounte (117)