December 4, 2022

It’s finally time for the 2022 NFL Draft, and you’ll want to truly keep an eye on the NFC East as the three-day event unfolds in Las Vegas. That’s because the division is setting up to potentially deliver a different winner than the one it saw take the throne the previous season, yet again. For while the Dallas Cowboys can be viewed as favorites to possibly repeat after going 12-5 overall and finishing with an undefeated 6-0 record inside of the division, the reality is it’s insanely difficult to repeat in the NFC East. 

None of the four teams has achieved the feat since the Philadelphia Eagles in 2001 through 2004 — the crown making its rounds perennially ever since. And as the Cowboys get to work on trying to buck those odds, the Eagles join the New York Giants and Washington Commanders in putting together a plan to keep them from doing so. Free agency notwithstanding, the future of each team will be molded in a very big way by what it does or does not choose when things get underway on Thursday.

It all begins with each of the four teams identifying their top needs, and then seeing if they’re addressed this weekend.

It should be an exciting draft and you can follow along with every pick on our draft tracker.

New York Giants

Top 5 needs (unranked): QB, TE, LB

To Daniel Jones or not to Daniel Jones, that is the question. The Giants are expecting a swift turnaround in 2022 after seeing Dave Gettleman retire from his GM position and then firing Joe Judge after only two seasons as head coach. The hiring of former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was in large part with the development of Jones in mind, but the QB position is only the beginning of the blueprint for New York, which may or may not shed Kadarius Toney and/or Darius Slayton and/or James Bradberry via trade, and which also has to figure out the future of Saquon Barkley. Neglecting the glaring need for a dominant edge rush would keep them in the Dark Ages through the 2022 season — having no shortage of draft capital to do some very real damage.

Their first pick can easily be viewed as as jackpot, going with Kayvon Thibodeaux, the edge star from Oregon. With plenty of talk of several teams considering trading up for Thibodeaux (including rumblings regarding the Cowboys), the Giants were poised at No. 5 to sit tight and kill those hopes and dreams rather swiftly. Thibodeaux joins Big Blue having earned a list of collegiate honors including the Morris Trophy and is a Unanimous All-American, lagging 19 sacks and 126 combined tackles in his three seasons with the Ducks — sending a message to the NFC East rivals that their respective quarterbacks aren’t entirely safe against the Giants anymore.

They wouldn’t have to wait long to go back on the clock, owners of the No. 7 pick as well, and they used it to bolster the offensive line in front of Daniel Jones, who will have to put up a career-best season now that his fifth-year option has been declined. For Jones, who often hasn’t had anything short of a porous offensive line, the news of Neal being the selection has to make him smile from ear to ear. A Consensus All-American, First-Team All-SEC talent and national champion, Neal is arguably the best offensive lineman in this year’s draft. 

Busy as they’ve suddenly become in the post-Gettleman era, having traded down twice to begin the second round, the Giants finally went on the clock at No. 43 (acquired from the Atlanta Falcons) and selected wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson out of Kentucky — adding a weapon for Jones amidst trade rumors surrounding both Darius Slayton and Kadarius Toney. Robinson will be expected to make an early impact for Big Blue, and especially if Slayton and/or Toney is shipped out of town. A Second-Team All-SEC talent in 2021, Robinson had a breakout season last year that produced 1,334 yards and seven touchdowns — career-highs in both categories.

2022 draft picks:

1 (5)

Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

A

1 (7)

Evan Neal, OL, Alabama

A

2 (43)

Wan’Dale Robinson, WR, Kentucky

B-

3 (67)

TBD

3 (81)

TBD

4 (112)

TBD

4 (114) TBD
5 (146) TBD

5 (147)

TBD

5 (173)

TBD

6 (182) TBD

Dallas Cowboys

Top 5 needs (unranked): DL, LB, TE, EDGE, K

Having squandered a shot at making a deep playoff run with a roster that was absolutely loaded on both offense and defense, but seeing both Kellen Moore and Dan Quinn stay put, the Cowboys enter the offseason with a long list of very talented free agents, and they couldn’t keep them all — making things infinitely more difficult by parting ways with Amari Cooper, La’el Collins and losing Randy Gregory to free agency (all in controversial fashion). Their needs are now many, but owners of nine picks leading into the draft, they have a chance to overcome a very poor start to the offseason (and free agency) in Las Vegas.

It appeared the Cowboys were entertaining a trade back, but instead stood pat and passed on more notable talent — e.g., Jermaine Johnson, Nakobe Dean, Devin Lloyd and Tyler Linderbaum — going with more of a project in Tyler Smith out of Tulsa. Smith enters during a time of tumult on the Cowboys offensive line, with continued durability issues on an aging Tyron Smith and the decision to release starting tackle La’el Collins to pass the mantle to backup swing tackle Terence Steele. The jury is out on if Smith, who has a good ceiling, can contribute immediately or if he’ll need polish (the latter making it a debatable pick when tying him to the first round).

2022 draft picks:

1 (24)

Tyler Smith, OL, Tulsa

A

2 (56)

TBD

3 (88)

TBD

4 (129)

TBD

5 (155)***

TBD

5 (167)

TBD

5 (176)*

TBD

5 (178)*

TBD

6 (193)

TBD

Washington Commanders

Top 5 needs (unranked): OL, LB, CB, S

It’s one of the worst-kept secret in the NFL that the Commanders need to locate a true franchise quarterback. They saw potential in Taylor Heinicke in 2020, but he had a forgettable 2021 season in the wake of injury to Ryan Fitzpatrick, leading to the acquisition of Carson Wentz via trade. Now the Commanders turn their attention to the other positions of need, and that should be led by a want of finding a definitive complement to Terry McLaurin, for starters. As for the defense, the addition of William Jackson III in 2021 was with the goal of upgrading the secondary, but more is needed there as well, having only six picks to work their magic — before trading out of the 11th spot in a draft day deal that landed them two additional picks (98th- and 120th-overall) to move back to the 16th-overall seat.

After trading out of the 11th spot, awarding it to the New Orleans Saints for added picks, the Commanders get their complement to Terry McLaurin by grabbing Jahan Dotson — a player with a great catch radius who’ll instantly become another top weapon for the newly-acquired Carson Wentz. Dotson is a First-Team All-Big Ten talent who reeled in 1,182 receiving yards and six touchdowns for the Nittany Lions in 2021, and will now get a chance to be a 1,000-yard receiver in the nation’s capital.

Their second pick of the draft turned to the defensive side of the ball, grabbing Phidarian Mathis out of Alabama. The 6-foot-4, 312 pound defensive lineman adds more beef to an already impressive defensive line in Washington. He joins a unit led by Chase Young and other young, stout talent, and should fit in nicely with Ron Rivera leading him. The former Crimson Tide standout finished his career with Alabama on a breakout note — logging a career-best nine sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss.

2022 draft picks:

1 (16)

Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

2 (47)

Phidarian Mathis, DL, Alabama

3 (98) TBD

4 (113)

TBD

4 (120) TBD

6 (189)

TBD

7 (230)

TBD

7 (240)

TBD

Top 5 needs (unranked): S, LB, EDGE, CB

It was an impressive midseason turnaround for the Eagles in their first season under new head coach Nick Sirianni — one that saw them make the playoffs and show promise for the future with Jalen Hurts under center. Presuming no unexpected about-face on Hurts, the Eagles can enjoy having no need atop the QB totem and focus their efforts on surrounding him with talent. They were able to finesse the Indianapolis Colts into giving up draft collateral in exchange for Carson Wentz, so the Eagles have that much more firepower to bolster a defense that wasn’t the team’s Achilles heel in 2021, but did leave meat on the bone; but they also can’t ignore any opportunity to add more firepower for Hurts and the offense.

They jumped off their draft with a monster pick, selecting Jordan Davis out of Georgia. Davis is a specimen rarely seen in football, from his build to his athleticism, and he’s primed to be a nightmare for all comers — especially those in the NFC East. Anyone attempting to run the ball against him will be in for a long day, and just as long of a day if the QB drops back to pass the ball. The Eagles defensive line is now one of the best in the NFL. Philly gave up quite a bit of draft capital to grab him as the tandem star with Fletcher Cox, and it’ll likely be more than worth it.

They then traded the 18th-overall pick to the Tennessee Titans in exchange for A.J. Brown in a blockbuster move that will send shockwaves throughout the division. 

2022 draft picks:

1 (13)

Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

B

2 (51)

TBD

3 (83)

TBD

5 (154)

TBD

7 (237)

TBD

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