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May 31, 2015

Ranking the NFC East by position: Offense edition

Eagles NFL
053015DezBryant Richard Lipski/AP

The best wide receiver group in the NFC East is debatable.

Which team in the NFC East has the best wide receivers? The best quarterback? The best running backs? The best offensive line? Let's take a look at the division, position by position, and evaluate each teams' rosters.


QB rank Team Players 
 1Cowboys Tony Romo, Brandon Weeden 
 2Giants Eli Manning, Ryan Nassib 
 3Eagles Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez 
 4Redskins Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins / Colt McCoy 

Eli Manning has had more playoff success than Tony Romo, obviously, but Romo is the better quarterback at this point in their careers. Sam Bradford is a complete mystery with the Eagles, both in terms of his availability and his effectiveness even if he is fully healthy. Robert Griffin III was a rookie phenom, but has been an enormous disappointment ever since.

As far as backups go, the Cowboys are the team most susceptible to an injury to their starter. None of the NFC East teams are winning the Super Bowl if their starter goes down for the season, but the Cowboys will have difficulty surviving with Brandon Weeden if Romo is lost for a few games. 

Running back

RB rank Team Players 
 1Eagles DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles 
 2Redskins Alfred Morris, Silas Redd, Matt Jones 
 3Giants Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, Andre Williams 
 4Cowboys Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar 

Clearly, the Eagles have best running back in the division by far in DeMarco Murray, and easily the best depth behind him in Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. They're stacked. And then the rest of the division is shaky. Alfred Morris has racked up three straight 1000-yard seasons to begin his career, but his numbers have declined every year. The Giants have a nice role player in Shane Vereen, but nobody else who is going to scare anybody. And finally, Cowboys fans who think Dallas won't miss a beat without Murray are delusional. None of the running backs on their roster would even dress for the Eagles on game day if the season started tomorrow. 

Wide receiver

WR rank Team Players 
 1Cowboys Dez Bryant, Terrence Williams, Cole Beasley, Devin Street 
 2Giants Odell Beckham Jr., Rueben Randle, Victor Cruz, Dwayne Harris 
 3Redskins DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Andre Roberts, Ryan Grant 
 4Eagles Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff, Riley Cooper 

I think it's very close between the Cowboys and Giants for the top spot at WR. Odell Beckham Jr. was amazing as a rookie last season, but Dez Bryant is a little more tried and true. Terrence Williams is a very underrated number two.

And then I think the Redskins and Eagles are close for number three and four in the division at WR. The Eagles have the youngest set of 1-2-3 receivers in the NFL in Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, and Josh Huff, but placing them ahead of guys like DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon would be pure projection. I can certainly see the Eagles wide receivers being productive in 2015, and I think we'll see them move up this list very soon.

Tight end

TE Rank Team Players 
 1Cowboys Jason Witten, Gavin Escobar 
 2EaglesBrent Celek, Zach Ertz 
 3Redskins Jordan Reed, Niles Paul 
 4Giants Larry Donnell, Adrian Robinson 

If the Eagles used Zach Ertz more, as they probably should, I would seriously consider putting the Eagles above the Cowboys here, as Jason Witten is clearly in decline. For now we'll leave Witten at the top, since the Eagles are likely to utilize Brent Celek more than Ertz this year. 

As for the Redskins and Giants, I'm just not a Larry Donnell fan. While he had decent numbers in 2014, he lost four fumbles and he doesn't seem to get to as many passes as he should. I'll take the versatile combo of Jordan Reed and Niles Paul over Donnell and Adrien Robinson, who has five career catches in three NFL seasons.

Offensive line

OL Rank Team Players 
 1Cowboys  Tyron Smith, Ronald Leary, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, Doug Free
 2Eagles Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Allen Barbre, Lane Johnson 
 3Redskins Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff 
 4Giants Ereck Flowers, John Jerry, Weston Richburg, Geoff Schwartz, Justin Pugh 

The Cowboys have a very good offensive line and probably the best one in the division, but their perceived dominance is wildly overstated. They are an outstanding run blocking unit, but an average to slightly above average pass blocking group. In 2014, they allowed 30 sacks, and 10 more in two playoff games. The Cowboys' offense looks great when they are able to stick with the run and convert third downs. If Tony Romo has to drop back 40 times, they can be exposed. We'll see if they can run the ball as effectively without Murray.

The Eagles have the oldest offensive line in the NFL. While they have some serious long-term concerns along their OL, it remains a very good unit in the short term as long as they stay healthy. To be determined what happens with Evan Mathis this offseason. The Redskins may eventually have themselves an elite pair of bookends in Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff, and an overall solid but unspectacular group otherwise. The Giants' loss of Will Beatty really hurt. His loss will force rookie Ereck Flowers to move prematurely to LT, and Justin Pugh to stay outside at RT. Beatty's loss may very well have hurt three positions along the Giants' OL.


Rank Team 

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