2012 NFL Draft: 4 Rookies Who Will Change the NFC East
The complexion of the NFC East will undoubtedly change with the addition of the 2012 NFL draft class.
While some players will shoulder more pressure than others, their overall contributions will not only affect their own franchises, but also the division for years to come.
Whether or not these incoming rookies can make an impact through their play remains to be seen.
However, there are more ways than one to cause change.
RB Terrance Ganaway
Terrance Ganaway would be perfect in the NFC East and should carve a nice niche with each team until he is ready to take over full-time duties.
At 6’0, 240 lbs., Ganaway isn’t going to make many tacklers miss, but would immediately become the most bruising runner in the entire division.
His large frame and violent style of running is something that is absent amongst the four teams and his presence would add an element that would change each offensive attack.
The Dallas Cowboys have two promising backfield talents in Felix Jones and DeMarco Murray, but both come with injury concerns.
In his only season as the featured back, the Baylor product rushed for 1,547 yards with a 6.2 average and 21 scores on the ground. This proves that he is more than capable of carrying the load.
Some may suggest that he's a "one-hit wonder," but it really points to how little abuse he's had to endure.
If the Super Bowl champions selected him, the New York Giants could deploy him in a role similar to Brandon Jacobs. The seven-year pro could return to New York, but Ganaway would provide a cheaper and more promising option.
Aside from Pro Bowler LeSean McCoy, the Philadelphia Eagles don’t have much depth in the backfield.
Fullback Owen Schmitt remains a free agent and only saw 16.7 percent of the Eagles offensive snaps last year. Chances are that Philly won’t carry a fullback next season—which makes a big-bodied bruiser important to have on the roster.
The most intriguing team for the downhill runner would be the Washington Redskins.
It would be a shocker if the Skins didn’t select Ganaway’s college teammate Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick. By reuniting the duo in the professional ranks means the two rookies would be automatically ahead of the learning curve thanks to their chemistry.
Mike Shanahan is known for his ability to get the most out of his running backs. And even with a crowded backfield, Ganaway could be viewed as a way to protect their franchise quarterback more than anything else.
CB Omar Boden
Omar Bolden is one of the most intriguing cornerback prospects in this year’s draft.
Not only does he have talent as a defender, but has also shown flashes of return skills.
He put on a great showing at the NFL Combine by running a 4.5-40 and leading his position with the most reps on the bench press.
He was a former freshman All-American selection, so the talent is definitely there.
What’s going to hurt his stock are his injury concerns. At Arizona State, he missed the final eight games of the 2009 season and missed all of 2011.
He has already scheduled meetings with the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles.
Bolden would fit extremely will with the Eagles, as his presence would likely all but guarantee the departure of Asante Samuel and threaten Joselio Hanson’s status with the team as well.
In Philadelphia, the 5’10” prospect would find himself in the slot. He possesses a strong upper-body that is ideal when covering over the middle.
This will solidify the outsides for Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The tandem finished the season with strong performances in consecutive outings as the primary sideline defenders.
With extra coverage and stability in the secondary, look for the Giants and Eagles front-four to routinely meet at the opposing team’s quarterback.
LB Luke Kuechly
The name that most mock drafts have attached to the Philadelphia Eagles is Boston College’s Luke Kuechly.
While the team has addressed their needs by acquiring DeMeco Ryans, it doesn’t mean they’re finished.
Although it guarantees nothing, the fact that Eagles linebackers coach, Mike Caldwell, was the one who conducted the drills at Kuechly’s Pro Day is enough to add fuel to the fire.
Last season, three of the four NFC East teams suffered from inconsistent linebacker play.
The New York Giants are expecting Jonathan Goff to return from injury and won’t be in a reasonable position to acquire the Nagurski Award-winning defender.
Philly still needs a long-term solution at each outside linebacker position—so it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Dallas Cowboys swoop in and make a play.
Bradie James and Keith Brooking were terrible last year, yet Bruce Carter couldn’t even see the field.
Sean Lee is already a stud but isn’t immune to injuries.
Newly signed Dan Connor is a solid two-down run-stopper, but hasn’t shown much promise in coverage.
If they drafted Kuechly, the Cowboys would have three solid and versatile options at middle linebacker.
Not only could Kuechly rotate on situational passing downs to spell Connor of coverage duties, but he could also play outside since he has experience playing the 4-3 SAM linebacker position in college.
QB Robert Griffin III
After trading up for the No. 2 overall pick, the Washington Redskins would shock the world if they didn’t come away from the draft with their franchise quarterback.
The general consensus is that this selection will be Robert Griffin III.
Aside from his Heisman credentials, diverse skill-set and winning attitude, the NFC East will finally feature a full foursome of legitimate signal-callers.
However, Just like any other rookie, expect RGIII to go through some growing pains.
Although he may not reach his full potential in his rookie season, you can all but pencil him in as Washington’s opening-day starter for the next five years.
This kind of continuity and consistency is exactly what the Washington needs.
Not only does owner Dan Snyder finally get a player who he can label as the “face of the franchise,” but the offense also gets their building block towards sustained chemistry.
Griffin’s presence will not only translate into more wins but also change the entire culture of Redskins football.