By Don Banks
April 19, 2005
NFC East Draft Needs
Dallas Cowboys
Defensive end, outside linebacker, offensive tackle
Despite being pretty busy in free agency, the Cowboys didn't manage to get around to everything on their shopping list, especially upgrading their defensive front seven. Fortunately for them, they own two first-round picks and three of the top 42 selections. They crave a pass-rushing defensive end/linebacker who can make an impact on the edge as they transition to more of a 3-4 formation this season -- Maryland's Shawne Merriman and Troy's Demarcus Ware are two names mentioned often -- and big, physical defensive end who can stand his ground against the run.
New York Giants
Safety, defensive tackle, running back
The Giants forfeited their No. 1 pick this year in 2004's trade with San Diego for Eli Manning, so they're in no position to land one of the draft's premier players. By the time New York makes its first pick, at No. 43 in the second round, Dallas will have made three selections. The Giants don't have many immediate needs, but one of note is for a legitimate backup to running back Tiki Barber. With Ron Dayne finally gone, Barber's No. 2 right now is former Patriot Michael Cloud. With only the disappointing William Joseph and Fred Robbins around, defensive tackle could use an upgrade too.
Philadelphia Eagles
Receiver, defensive line, tight end
Given Terrell Owens' squawking on the contract front, the Eagles can't feel all that secure at receiver and could use a talent infusion once again at the position that seems to be a perennial weak link. Fortunately for the Birds, there should be some big-name pass-catchers to choose from when their 31st overall pick rolls around, possibly including Georgia's Reggie Brown and UAB's Roddy White. Virginia tight end Heath Miller would also upgrade another pass-catching slot for the defending NFC champions. Depth on the defensive line, once an Eagles strong suit, is also running low. But with 13 overall picks, Philly can afford to throw a lot of bodies at the problem.
Washington Redskins
Cornerback, inside linebacker, defensive end
The Redskins lost Champ Bailey last year and Fred Smoot this year in free agency, making cornerback the obvious place for them to start re-stocking. If Miami's Antrel Rolle, West Virginia's Adam Jones or Auburn's Carlos Rogers -- the draft's top three cornerbacks -- are still on the board, the Redskins should have a relatively easy choice. If for some reason both Rolle and Jones are gone, and the team doesn't believe Rogers has top-10 value, then defensive end probably gets the attention. Maryland DE/OLB Shawne Merriman would be a popular local pick.

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