Commentary

Kiper's summer audits: NFC East

Mel breaks down the offseasons and needs of each NFC East team

Originally Published: June 29, 2011
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN Insider
Tyron Smith and Danny WatkinsIcon SMITyron Smith and Danny Watkins are being counted on to contribute immediately.

Let's pretend for a moment that the NFL hasn't ground to a halt like a train rusted to the tracks. Let's pretend as well that the season will start on time, that free agency will at some point get under way and that all these roster voids can be addressed at some point. Got it? Well, with those rose-colored glasses on, let's audit all the divisions in the NFL. Like last year, I'll hit on three things:

Help added: What has the team done so far this offseason to improve its prospects? (Obviously, minus free agency, this is mainly limited to the draft.)
Questions that remain: Consider it a guide to free agency (when it happens). What must still be addressed?
Next year's help now: With an eye toward next year's draft class, which player from 2012 seemingly could help the team in 2011? This is meant to be extremely hypothetical.

Here is the version for the NFC East:


NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

Help added: Once it became known the Cowboys wouldn't be using their first-round pick on a cornerback, the focus shifted to both sides of the line. They had a major need at defensive end with three unsigned players there. They also had a major need at right tackle, where Marc Colombo has seen his better days and is expected to be released. They opted to address the latter, selecting USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith. While he made a name for himself at right tackle with the Trojans, he has the athletic ability necessary to eventually make the switch to the left side.

Both of their starting inside linebackers -- Bradie James and Keith Brooking -- will be free agents next year, and Sean Lee is the only backup of consequence. They opted to address the situation in the second round, taking Bruce Carter, who lacks big-play ability, but when healthy is someone who will make a very favorable impression on you. The concern there is he's coming off a torn ACL. But he can be a nice fit for the Cowboys as a 3-4 inside guy. With Marion Barber expected to be let go, Dallas got a replacement in the third round in DeMarco Murray. While no one questioned Murray's ability entering his senior year, there were concerns surrounding his durability.

Elsewhere, I'm not sold on fourth-round pick David Arkin, but he could start at guard soon. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see late pick Josh Thomas stick as a fourth cornerback, and Shaun Chapas could be a solution at fullback, a decent value late.

Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst