Instant Impact Veteran: Alshon Jeffery/Brandon Marshall — Philadelphia Eagles/New York Giants
We’re going to cheat a bit here and give the nod to a pair of veteran wide outs. Marshall is set to move locker rooms and suit up for the contending Giants. The sure handed receiver gives Eli Manning another reliable target. He celebrated his 33rd birthday in March, but Marshall is still capable of producing — and is just a year removed from a 109-catch/1,502-yard/14-touchdown season. At the very least, Marshall will be a top-tier decoy to allure defenders away from a talented receiving corps featuring the likes of Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard and rookie tight end Evan Engram.
Jeffery will enter as Carson Wentz’s No. 1 option — giving the young quarterback a legitimate deep-threat. Philly’s top receivers in 2016 (Zach Ertz, Jordan Matthews) had a 10.5 and 11.0 yards-per-catch average, respectively. Jeffery averages 15.0 yards-per-catch over his career. Picking up Jeffery instantly enhances the Eagles offense.
Under-The Radar Acquisition: Chance Warmack/D.J. Fluker — Philadelphia Eagles/New York Giants
At this point, we might as well keep going with the bending-of-the-rules as we mention two offensive lineman joining the NFC East this year. Formerly selected with consecutive picks in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Fluker and Warmack have failed to live up to the lofty expectations set for them. Fluker was a part of the atrocious Chargers front over the past few seasons, while Warmack is recovering from an injury that saw him miss a majority of 2016. Both players will get a chance at redemption with their respective teams. With each being just 25 years of age, there’s still plenty of time for Fluker and Warmack to develop into quality players.
First Rounder: Taco Charlton — Dallas Cowboys
After signing the perfect endorsement deal, Charlton has a great opportunity to make a splash for the Cowboys in 2017. The 6’6” defensive end excels at getting to the quarterback. Charlton totaled 13.5 sacks in his final year at Michigan – which would have been double the leading sack-getter for Dallas last season (Jack Crawford led the team with six). Charlton’s length and size gives him the potential to be a terror for opposing signal-callers.
Late Sleeper Pick: Donnel Pumphrey/Wayne Gallman/Samaje Perine (4th Round) — Philadelphia Eagles/ New York Giants/Washington Redskins
The Cowboys have Ezekiel Elliott. The rest of the division has open competitions for their respective running back spots. New York’s leading rusher from 2016 (Rashad Jennings) remains unsigned, while Philly’s (Ryan Mathews) has been a name thrown around in trade talks. Washington’s Robert Kelley had a strong end to the season, but the Redskins sift through backs as quickly as any team in the league (just ask Matt Jones). Perine has the chance to impress in goal-line situations, while Pumphrey and Gallman will have a shot in obvious passing downs. Prediction: one of these guys will lead their team in rushing yards in 2017.
Non-Player: QB Coach Kevin O’Connell — Washington Redskins
In actuality, the biggest difference-maker in a new position within the NFC East is Washington’s new offensive coordinator – and former quarterbacks coach – Matt Cavanaugh. While Cavanaugh has been a major contributor to Kirk Cousins’ development, he was already with Washington last season and technically isn’t a “newcomer.” As such, he’ll move down a peg and give the nod to his new understudy in O’Connell.
The former San Diego State QB spent five years in the league playing for the New York Jets and San Diego Chargers. He was last with the San Francisco 49ers serving as an offensive assistant under Chip Kelly’s regime. O’Connell’s primary focus in his new role will be to shape up the backup QB’s in the chance that Kirk decides to bolt next offseason.
Sources: Bear Goggles On, Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports, Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports