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NFC EAST SKILL POSITION GROUP RANKINGS

#4: NEW YORK GIANTS


Parris Campbell catching a football

The Giants come in at number 4, but in reality, there isn't a wide gulf between them and the #3 team.


Positives


Saquon Barkley. Assuming he doesn't actually hold out, Barkley is still a top-tier running back. He may even be the best back in the division depending on Tony Pollard's durability and ability to come back strong from injury. Barkley gives them a workhorse they can rely on to carry a significant part of the offensive load.


Darren Waller. At least probably. He had an injury-plagued and injury-shortened 2022 season that saw him play in only 9 games. He was a monster in his Pro Bowl 2020 season, amassing 1196 yards and 9 TD. If he can return to that form he will give this team a much-needed primary receiving option.


Depth. This coin has two sides, but the positive one is that the Giants have a harem of receivers who are all similar in talent level, even if thier specific strengths vary some. They could weather some injuries at receiver without a precipitous drop-off.


Concerns


Receivers. Here is the other side of the coin on the receivers. It's unlikely any of them are great. Don't get me wrong, most of them aren't bad and have one or more skills that are valuable in the NFL. Parris Campbell is in the image above for a reason. He kind of sums up where the Giants are at in regard to receivers--good but not great---across the board.


Uncertainty. How does Darren Waller come back from injury? Can he be dominant or will he be just another face on a bland roster of Giants receivers? Will Barkley hold out?


TE and RB Depth. Cody Bellinger and Matt Breida are fine, but they're not above-average NFL players. If Waller or Barkley are hurt or underperform they don't have a great second option.


Final Analysis

The Giants' skill position group is fine. If one or more receivers can have a breakout season and Waller is great they may even be good. They're not vastly outclassed in this area by the other teams in the division, but they come in 4th.



#3: WASHINGTON COMMANDERS


Jahan Dotson giving shush finger in end zone

Just edging out the NY Football Giants are the Washington Commanders. Will Sam Howell be effective in getting anyone the ball? Will the offensive line be able to protect or run block? That's not the point of this article!! We're just talking about skill position groups.


Positives


Wide Receivers. This is a group that has tremendous upside. Terry McLaurin is a legitimate #1 NFL receiver. He's languished in Washington under mediocre QB play (or worse) that's been exacerbated at times by the offensive line's weaknesses. Despite this, he's gone over 1000 yards in three straight seasons and came close with 919 in his rookie campaign. The Commanders have a dynamic #2 receiver in Jahan Dotson. His season was shortened by injury to 12 games, but he flashed when healthy. He has game-breaking potential when he touches the ball. This group is rounded out with veteran Curtis Samuel and second-year player Dyami Brown. The team hoped Dyami could provide a legitimate deep threat, and if a QB has time to get him the ball he has that potential.


Brian Robinson. Whether or not Brian Robinson can be a top-tier NFL running back is TBD. However, he did show a lot of promise after coming back from being shot twice. He had to run behind a line that often gave him very little space. If he takes a step forward he'll provide a consistent and solid running option.


Concerns


Tight End. Logan Thomas has some good games, but he's an average tight end at best. And that might be generous.


Depth. The Commanders don't really have anything behind Logan Thomas at tight end. If McLaurin or Dotson go down their receiving core is okay at best. Depth is a problem for most NFL teams, but some more than others.


Final Analysis

This is a solid-skill position group, but that is mostly due to the receivers. They outclass the Giants there while being outclassed at TE and RB. In the end, these groups come in very close overall, but the upside in the receiving groups pushes the Commanders to #3.



#2: Philadelphia Eagles


AJ Brown catching football over defender near end zone

The Eagles come into the season as the class of the NFC. While their strength in the trenches is probably the primary reason for their strength, the skill position group brings a lot to the table too.


Positives


A.J. Brown. He is the class of the division at receiver. Yes, McLaurin and Lamb are great, but if I have to pick on receiver from this division it's Brown. He is big, powerful, and just seems to come down with the ball no matter how closely he's covered. He has the ability to take over a game. The importance of these dominant players can't be overstated.


DeVonta Smith. Even with Brown demanding attention, Smith went for almost 1200 yards and 7 TDs last year. Smith comes into year 3 of his NFL career as a great receiver in his own right. If he continues to develop this is one of the best 1-2 receiver combos in the league.


Dallas Goedert. Goedert is a solid TE who is capable of having big games working the middle of the field when teams focus their attention on Brown and Smith. He's their de facto third receiver.


Concerns


3rd Receiver. Quez Watkins and Olamide Zaccheaus are in the NFL. That's about all I can say for them. With such dynamic talents at 1 and 2, plus Goedert, the lack of talent at the #3 receiver isn't a huge concern, but it's not a positive.


Running Back. The running back room in Philadelphia reminds me of the wide receiver room in New York. Swift, Gainwell, and Penny are all fine. Swift and Penny may even prove to be good. Swift has been stuck with a team that didn't want to play him in Detroit and Penny is coming off injuries that hampered him. If one of those two break out this offense would move up to the number one spot in the division.


Final Analysis

The Eagles have one of the best receiver duos in the league. This isn't a post about the overall team, but behind one of the best offensive lines in the league (if not the best) mediocre running backs may not matter. They have more than enough at the skill positions to put them in the mix for the Super Bowl again.



#1: Dallas Cowboys


Tony Pollard shrugging in Cowboys uniform

The Cowboys top the NFC East skill position group ratings, if only by the thinnest of margins over the Eagles. I couldn't fault anyone for wanting to flip them, but here's the case for the Cowboys.


Positives


Wide Receivers. This should be the most complete wide receiver group in the division. CeeDee Lamb may not be A.J. Brown, but he may not be far behind either. Obviously, they are different types of receivers, but both have game-changing abilities. Last year, in a rough season for Dak, Lamb went over 100 yards 5 times, including 3 of the Cowboys' last 4 games. Assuming he continues on his current trajectory, he is in the discussion with the best receivers in the league. After CeeDee Lamb is Michael Gallup. Gallup struggled some last year coming back from his ACL injury, but generally, players perform better in their second season after an injury like this. And the Cowboys picked up Brandin Cooks, a former number-one receiver in his own right. Even if he's lost a step, he can easily be the best #3 receiver in this division, and the upside is even higher than that.


Tony Pollard. Once Tony Pollard took over last year he was incredible. He went over 100 total yards 7 times while splitting time with Zeke for much of the season and playing through severe injury at the end. IF Pollard can stay healthy, he has as much upside as any back in the league. This is partly because of the line in front of him, but it's just as much because he is a dynamic talent. Running backs like Pollard generally have a short shelf life in the NFL, but for the next few years, he should be one of the top backs in the league.


Concerns


Tight End. Dalton Schultz is gone to the Texans. He was a mainstay in the offense last year and his absence will be noticed. It's exacerbated by the fact that the Cowboys did little to replace him. Jake Ferguson and Luke Schoonmaker will compete to fill his slot, but it's hard to imagine either of them doing the job. This is a significant concern.


Injuries. Yes, this is a concern for every NFL team, but some teams more than others. If Pollard goes down--and he will be touching the ball more than he ever has before--the Cowboys have little behind him. The same is true when it comes to receivers. Any team can have their season derailed by injuries, but the Cowboys are especially susceptible to this if it's Pollard and Lamb.


Final Analysis

Ultimately, I had to choose between the team with the more complete receiving core and high-upside running back (Cowboys) or the team with the superior tight end and proven high-end top two receivers (Eagles). I went with the Cowboys because I believe their upside is higher if all the pieces come together. Whether or not that will happen, only time will tell.

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