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NFL Scouts Talk Anonymously About NFC East Teams

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The NFC East is tough. From an external look, the Cowboys, Eagles, and Giants all have legitimate chances to win this division. The Redskins need to improve a lot, but they're headed in that direction. There's a reason that this division has some of the most intense rivalries, and that should play out over the course of the season. Each team has won the division once in the past four seasons. Is it time again for a new team to take the title?

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In order to get an accurate assessment of how the NFC East looks entering the 2015 season, Athlon asked NFL scouts to talk anonymously about the Cowboys, Giants, Eagles and Redskins.

Note: These scouting reports come directly from NFL scouts and do not necessarily reflect the views of Athlon's editorial staff. 

Dallas Cowboys

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“The pick of OG Zack Martin in last year’s firstround over QB Johnny Manziel showed a discipline and direction uncommon to the Cowboys since the Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells tenures."…

"Jerry and Stephen Jones wisely added to their offensive line, which helped the run game, protected QB Tony Romo better and gave some cover to their suspect defense."…

"Romo enjoyed a Pro Bowl-level season by hitting nearly 70 percent of his passes with 34 touchdowns and only nine picks."…

"DeMarco Murray led the league in rushing with 1,845 yards, but he hit free agency, and again, the Jones’ demonstrated their new-found restraint and did not chase him beyond the predetermined budget. To their surprise, he ended up in Philadelphia, and it seemed obvious that a RB would be taken in the first three rounds of the draft."…

"That did not happen, so at present, free agent Darren McFadden, Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar will shoulder the load behind this OL."…

"TE Jason Witten is one of the most competitive, consistent performers in the league, all he does is block, catch passes and lead by example."…

"Dez Bryant is a dominant force on the outside because of his physical stature and desire to go after the football."…

"WR Terrence Williams flies under the radar, but he had 37 catches last year, eight of which went for scores and Cole Beasley re-upped as their slot receiver (37 grabs in 2015), too, so they are set out wide."…

"Head coach Jason Garrett and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan must stay balanced and lean on their run game to set up for success on third downs (47.1 percent conversions/2nd in NFL), rather than wanting to throw the football all over the lot."…

"Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli made enough lemonade out of this group to keep the Cowboys competitive all year and into the playoffs."…

"They signed DE Greg Hardy to help with the pass rush (28 total sacks/28th in league), and was was a 10-game suspension was reduced upon appeal to just four."…

"Nebraska pass rusher Randy Gregory fell into the second round after his well-chronicled marijuana issues and the Cowboys were more than willing to take him at pick No. 60."…

"DT Henry Melton took his five sacks to Tampa Bay as a free agent, so DE Jeremy Mincey is their top returning producer with six from last season."…

"LB Sean Lee returns from a knee injury and should, if healthy, bolster a group that includes Rolando McClain (87 total tackles) and Anthony Hitchens (84 total tackles), a nice find for them from the 2014 draft."… [Editor's note: McClain is suspended for the first four games due to a violation of the leagues' substance-abuse policy.]

"The secondary needed a boost at cornerback because Brandon Carr has not produced big plays and Orlando Scandrick is better as a nickel back than full-time starter, so they added UConn CB Byron Jones as their first-round pick."…

"Barry Church led the team in tackles from one safety post, while J.J. Wilcox has developed into a dependable starter."…

"The Cowboys must stick with their formula in order to win the NFC East again, and that is to run the football, set up manageable third downs, score touchdowns in the red zone (64.7 percent TD rate/2nd in NFL) and continue to mask their sub-standard defense.”

New York Giants

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“The Giants stuck with head coach Tom Coughlin and GM Jerry Reese, while making sweeping changes to their offense with the hiring of new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo last year."…

"After some growing pains for the entire offense, Eli Manning took off and finished with 30 touchdowns and cut his interceptions in half from 27 to 14. He enters the final season of his seven-year/$107 million deal, but if he plays like he did in 2014, another extension at $20 million-plus per year will be on the table."…

"In only 12 games, WR Odell Beckham earned a Pro Bowl trip with 91 receptions for 1,305 yards (14.3avg) and 12 touchdowns. He is a terrific, hand-eye coordination athlete with change-of-direction skills and big speed."…

"Victor Cruz went down after six games with a patellar injury and his 100 percent return is in question for September/October."…

"Rueben Randle doesn’t get much recognition, but he chipped in 71 catches and three touchdowns, and has developed into a solid No. 3 WR."…

"The biggest surprise may have been the performance of TE Larry Donnell, who ended 2014 with 63 grabs and six touchdowns. Everyone knew the McAdoo offense was TE-friendly, but very few felt he could be a legitimate answer."…

"The offensive line was upgraded when Miami OT Ereck Flowers was picked at No. 9 in the first round, so with OC Weston Richburg and OT Justin Pugh, they now have three young prospects that can be secure long-time starters."…

"While the offense showed progress, the defense struggled all year, so defensive coordinator Perry Fewell was shown the door and Steve Spagnuolo was hired as his replacement."…

"Spags will find some pieces to work with in DE Jason Pierre-Paul, who returned to form with 12.5 sacks and DT Johnathan Hankins (7 sacks), plus OLB Devon Kennard."… [Editor's note: Pierre-Paul has yet to sign his franchise tender and his return to the Giants is up in the air after he seriously injured his hands in a July 4 fireworks accident. His injuries were so bad he had to have his right index finger amputated.]

"Kennard played well as a rookie when he registered 43 total tackles and 4.5 sacks."…

"Jameel McClain stepped up in Jon Beason’s absence and totaled 116 tackles, but this is probably the weakest position on their roster."…

"After Antrel Rolle signed in Chicago, the safety position was the most vacant spot on a depth chart in the NFL until the Giants traded up in the second round to select Alabama’s Landon Collins."…

"Veteran cornerbacks Prince Amukamara (missed eight games with torn bicep) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie give them a start in their base defense, but depth is a concern in the nickel package."…

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"No one in the NFC East is invincible, so if the Giants can stay healthy and improve their turnover margin again, they can be in the mix with Dallas and Philadelphia.”

Philadelphia Eagles

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“This will be the most-watched team in the NFL in 2015. After an offseason of upheaval in the organization and numerous high-profile roster moves during free agency, Chip Kelly has assumed control of all player personnel moves and is pushing to advance the Eagles past the 10-6 threshold."…

"They saw QBs Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez in virtually the same light and felt that the only way to get a better passer would be to take a chance on another signal-caller on the 'rebound.' Sam Bradford was the option and they traded Foles to the St. Louis Rams to get him."…

"Bradford has a pure release and can spin the football, but has not been able to stay healthy and every time he drops back beginning in OTAs, the Eagles’ organization will be holding their collective breath."…

"Even before the QB surprise, there was the trade of RB LeSean McCoy to Buffalo for LB Kiko Alonso, who missed all of 2014 with a torn ACL. Word has it that they felt he was over-priced and spent too much time going East-West, especially in short-yardage and goal-line situations."…

"In a later-than-expected development, the Cowboys would not go beyond their budget for RB DeMarco Murray and he ended up signing in Philly. Prior to last season, he battled his own injury concerns before breaking out to lead the NFL in rushing (1,845 yards). The expectation is that he will give Kelly a more dependable North-South option as a runner, and don’t forget Ryan Mathews was inked as well (from San Diego)."…

"The tight ends are very competent in Zach Ertz and Brent Celek, while USC’s Nelson Agholor was added to a deficient mix of wide receivers as their first-round pick."…

"The offensive line was signed as a five-man unit through 2016, but there are rumblings about OG Evan Mathis being traded and longtime OG Todd Herremans was released and signed by Indianapolis."… [Editor's note: Mathis was released by the Eagles in June and has yet to sign with another team as of Aug. 17.]

"Kelly’s unique offense has put up terrific numbers in his first two seasons, but it certainly is a scheme that leaves the defense on the field."…

"Philadelphia finished 28th in total defense (375.6 yards per game) and 31st in passing yards allowed (264.9 yards per game), despite finishing tied for second with 49 sacks."…

"DE Fletcher Cox is the real deal and scheme-versatile."…

"Alonso will help DeMeco Ryans serve as a signal-caller on the defense, and both can help get LB Mychal Kendricks pointed in the right direction."…

"OLB Connor Barwin broke out with 14.5 sacks last season."…

"The cornerbacks have been re-made with the additions of Byron Maxwell (Seahawks) and Walter Thurmond (Giants) in free agency."…

"FS Malcolm Jenkins will be paired with either Earl Wolff or potentially second-round DB Eric Rowe from Utah."…

"Philly struck gold when they traded for PK Cody Parkey. All he did was hit 32-of-36 field goals and earn a trip to the Pro Bowl as a rookie."…

"However, if the two-point play rule is changed so the football is placed at the 1-yard line, new addition Tim Tebow could represent 2-4 points per game because of his abilities as a run/pass threat in that particular situation.”

Washington Redskins

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“Other than President Barack Obama, no one has more focus on them within the Beltway than Robert Griffin III."…

"Washington has been on a roller-coaster ride since giving up a king’s ransom to obtain him back in 2011."…

"He and head coach Jay Gruden got off to a rough start in 2014, but the hope this year is that everything has been smoothed over, he is 100 percent healthy and will have a better team around him."…

"The set of skill players in DC is not an issue with WRs DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts, plus TEs Jordan Reed and Niles Paul and RB Alfred Morris. Jackson fit in well and produced 56 receptions for a 20.9 yard average and six touchdowns, while Garcon and Roberts are more than capable complimentary pieces."… [Editor's note: Paul is out for the season after breaking his left ankle in the Redskins' first preseason game on Aug. 13]

"Reed is super-talented, but has to find a way to stay healthy (missed five games in 2014)."…

"Morris, behind an inept offensive line and without the threat of the zone-read QB keeper, struggled to reach 1,000 yards."…

"The line is simply awful other than LT Trent Williams and he is no consensus Pro Bowler."…

"They gave up 58 sacks (third highest in the league), and combined with a minus-12 turnover ratio, equaled a difficult year on offense, hence, their selection of Iowa OT/OG Brandon Scherff as a day one starter at fifth overall."…

"Defensively, Jim Haslett survived one season under Gruden, but now Joe Barry is in charge."…

"They tried to rebuild the defensive line by signing Stephen Paea (Bears), Terrance Knighton (Broncos) and Ricky Jean-Francois (Colts) during free agency."…

"OLB Ryan Kerrigan continues to be one of the more under-appreciated players in the NFL, all he does is play hard and produce each year."…

"Brian Orakpo is off to the Titans after being derailed by injuries here."…

"The hope is that Trent Murphy and second-rounder Preston Smith (from Miss State) can become part of a three-man, pass-rushing rotation."…

"The secondary has a lot of names, but not sure how good they will be."…

"Dashon Goldson was acquired from Tampa Bay via trade and they signed Chris Culliver, too."…

"If this sounds like the 49ers from a few years ago, it is, because GM Bruce Allen was bumped up to president and Scot McCloughan was brought in to run their personnel department."…

"David Amerson and Bashaud Breeland have shown flashes of decent play, but will likely be in backup roles to Culliver and DeAngelo Hall."…

"RGIII has been his own soap opera, but the truth is, that the OL and defense have been in disrepair, and until those things are fixed, it may not matter if he ‘talks small and plays big’ in 2015.”