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NFC East projected starters: First-round QBs must bide their time

Gregg Rosenthal will project post-draft starting lineups for all 32 teams, because there's no better way to celebrate the arrival of spring.


» Kellen Moore has gone from Dak Prescott's teammate to quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator in a three-year span. That familiarity makes him uniquely suited to building an offense tailored to Prescott's strengths.

» The receiver spots are fairly wide open after Amari Cooper. Michael Gallup will compete outside with Allen Hurns, who is coming off a serious injury. Randall Cobb will battle for snaps in the slot with Hurns, Tavon Austin and Lance Lenoir. If Cobb doesn't look great in camp, the Cowboys might want to add another veteran.

» It was surprising to see the Cowboys pass on taking a tight end in the draft. With Blake Jarwin as the backup, it's basically Jason Witten or bust.

» Travis Frederick's return from Guillain-Barre syndrome has gone according to plan, and the Cowboys expect him to play in 2019. His recovery, however, is an unknown -- the drafting of Connor McGovern gives the team a backup option. It is an unfair responsibility, considering what Frederick has been through, but he is the key to bringing Dallas' line back to its previous heights.

» The Cowboys reportedly plan to start Sean Lee as their strong-side linebacker. That's a position that usually comes off the field on passing downs, so he's not listed in here. Nickel cornerback Anthony Brown should play more snaps.

» Any improvement from 2017 first-round pick Taco Charlton would help immensely. Robert Quinn, who has tailed off during the season in each of the last two years, could be more effective with fewer snaps.

» It feels like the team's front office and its fans have wanted to upgrade both safety spots for a while. Xavier Woods should stick, but it's worth wondering if Eric Berry could be signed to take Jeff Heath's job.

» One concern for the Cowboys' defensive line: Both DeMarcus Lawrence and Antwaun Woods are coming off shoulder surgeries at the same time. Dallas has a little more depth than usual in the middle, with Maliek Collins and second-round pick Trysten Hill also in the mix.

Biggest change from a year ago: The Cowboys now have a No. 1 receiver. But do they have a No. 2?


» The signing of Golden Tate made sense in the wake of the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. He's a quality pro who plays a position the Giants were incredibly thin at. Corey Coleman could be anywhere from a starter to off the roster. The same is true for Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler.

» There is virtually no chance Daniel Jones will beat out Eli Manning for the Week 1 starting job. If Jones has a Russell Wilson-like preseason showcase, however, Manning's leash will be shorter than it was when Geno Smith or Alex Tanney were in the No. 2 spot.

» Manning has a chance to match or top his production from last season with this group. His skill-position talent is strong overall, even after losing Beckham, and he fits pretty well in Pat Shurmur's offense. I only expect to see Jones if the season goes sideways.

» The Giants' line looks better, but it's hardly settled. Mike Remmers was just signed over the weekend. Jon Halapio initially entered the NFL in the 2014 draft, yet has started only eight games in the league. The team would also love for big-money left tackle Nate Solder to play more consistently.

» The Giants have plenty of beef up front after drafting Dexter Lawrence, which is how general manager Dave Gettleman prefers to roll. On paper, the Giants don't have nearly enough edge-rushing talent after passing on Josh Allen and Montez Sweat in the first round.

» Despite all the attention on the quarterback position, the Giants' defense has much further to go. It's a bottom-five defensive roster in overall talent. They are replacing both starting safeties. Baker is a late first-round pick who should start at cornerback, and I didn't include a third cornerback partly because I have no idea who is next in line.

Biggest change from a year ago: A talent-poor defense looks to be in full rebuild mode, without many standout young players to build around.


» Jordan Howard might start the offseason with a slight lead for the Week 1 starting job, but Miles Sanders' complete game gives him an advantage in the long run. Sanders is easier to keep on the field in any formation. Corey Clement, Josh Adams and Wendell Smallwood will be in a battle for snaps behind them.

» Nate Sudfeld is one snap away from being the Eagles' starting quarterback. I don't think that sounds as scary to Eagles brass as it does to the general public. Sudfeld has shown a lot of potential in practice and preseason work.

» After choosing to retain Nelson Agholor, this is a deep wideout group. Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Agholor have such different skill sets that complement one another well.

» It's quite possible backup Dallas Goedert is a top-12 tight end in the league already, yet he's not listed above. I expect he'll get a similar amount of snaps to Agholor and D-Jax, while rookie wideout J.J. Arcega-Whiteside also figures to get some run.

» The health of left tackle Jason Peters and right guard Brandon Brooks is something to watch all offseason. Brooks is coming off a torn Achilles tendon.

» The team's impressive defensive line will look even better if Chris Long plays another season, but the return of Vinny Curry and Tim Jernigan gives the team decent depth inside and out. Malik Jackson is an upgrade at defensive tackle.

» This is a boom-or-bust secondary. Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills and Rodney McLeod are all coming off significant injuries. Avonte Maddox and third-year cornerback Sidney Jones have high ceilings, but the group as a whole is a mystery.

Biggest change from a year ago: Carson Wentz gets his first healthy offseason as The Man with a deep skill-position group around him.


» Case Keenum is in a tough spot. He gets the slight edge for the Week 1 starting job, if only because I can so clearly imagine coach Jay Gruden benching Keenum in the third quarter of Week 2. No. 15 overall pick Dwayne Haskins should get his chance eventually, because he fits Gruden's system and there's an argument to be made that this situation is actually rookie friendly. ...

» Adrian Peterson is listed as the incumbent starter at what might be the deepest position on the roster. Derrius Guice is on his way back from knee surgery, Chris Thompson is excellent on passing downs and fourth-round pick Bryce Love is a long-term sleeper, once he recovers from his own ACL surgery. Gruden always wants to run, and he has the roster to do so, especially up front.

» If Trent Williams is healthy, this should be a strong offensive line once again. Look for a lot of slow drives with more than 10 plays by the Redskins if things are going well.

» While the backfield is strong, the receiver spots are all question marks. Third-round pick Terry McLaurin is bound to get in the mix, because Paul Richardson and Josh Doctson aren't always reliable.

» The defensive front seven looks awfully stout on paper. Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen both emerged as difference makers last season. (Payne & Allen sounds like a law firm with a bad attitude.) Montez Sweat was a terrific value late in the first round as a pure pass rusher.

» Reuben Foster does not face another suspension by the league following his arrest last season over allegations of domestic assault (charges were eventually dismissed). He looks likely to step into a big role immediately.

» Landon Collins makes sense on a roster that prizes rugged hitting and size. As the rest of the league spreads out, the Redskins are condensing.

Biggest change from a year ago: A strong defensive line and Haskins falling in Washington's lap could be enough to overcome Alex Smith's unfortunate injury.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.


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