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Team-by-team draft needs: NFC East and AFC East

The NFL draft will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Arlington, Texas. Times NFL writer Sam Farmer examines team needs by division. Today, in the first of four daily parts, the East divisions:

NFC East

The Cowboys have parted ways with Dez Bryant, so it makes perfect sense that they would take a receiver early, perhaps with their No. 19 pick. But they need help on the other side of the ball, too, at defensive line, linebacker and safety. Two potential first-round picks at receiver are Maryland’s D.J. Moore and Alabama’s Calvin Ridley.

The Giants need a quarterback of the future, but the fact that they’ve committed to 37-year-old Eli Manning indicates they’re in win-now mode. Running the ball more effectively is key, which points to Penn State’s Saquon Barkley. The club could trade back from the No. 2 spot and work on that offensive line, which still isn’t fixed.

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No complaints from the Eagles about picking last; they’re Super Bowl champions. They do have needs, though, especially when it comes to building depth at linebacker and running back. They also could grab an offensive tackle, especially if they’re unsure about rehabilitating left tackle Jason Peters coming back strong at age 36.

The Redskins are looking for defensive playmakers, and they’re at a good spot, at No. 13, to get one. It could be a linebacker such as Georgia’s Roquan Smith or Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds, or maybe a big run-stuffing nose tackle such as Washington’s Vita Vea. The team needs a running back, too.

AFC East

With two picks in the first round, the Bills have the ammunition to trade up into the top five for a quarterback. They could stay where they are at 12 and have a good chance at Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph or Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. The team needs help at linebacker and on the defensive front.

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If one of the top three quarterbacks were to take a bit of a tumble, the Dolphins would be tempted to take him, since Ryan Tannehill doesn’t look like the answer. The team needs help at linebacker, especially one who can drop into coverage, and a tight end who can stretch the field and is a red-zone threat.

By trading receiver Brandin Cooks to the Rams, the Patriots got another first-round pick. That gives them some latitude to address their need for offensive linemen and possibly find an heir apparent to 40-year-old Tom Brady. The team also needs a speedy three-down linebacker and a tight end who can eventually replace Rob Gronkowski. Good luck with that.

The Jets want a quarterback and figure they’ll get a good one no matter what Cleveland does at No. 1. You can make the argument the Jets need help at every position but safety, And they took those in the first two rounds last year. They lost in the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes, so first things first.

NEXT: South divisions.


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