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Evaluating the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys' 2017 first-round draft picks

Evaluating the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys' 2017 first-round draft picks

Redskins fans can be forgiven for not caring at all about the other 31 picks made in the 2017 NFL Draft's first round on Thursday, since Washington was handed Jonathan Allen at No. 17.

With that being said, other selections were in fact made by other teams, including the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys. So what are analysts saying about how the rest of the NFC East did on the first night of the big event?

Here's a breakdown.

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Philadelphia Eagles - Derek Barnett (No. 14)

As the Redskins got closer to being on the clock and top talents like Allen, Reuben Foster and Malik Hooker were still available, every pick before Washington came with a side dish of angst. The Eagles, however, bypassed all three of those prospects for Barnett, a productive pass rusher from Tennessee. 

Reaction to the pick

Andy Benoit of Sports Illustrated: "Many felt the Eagles’ biggest need was cornerback, but in a zone scheme like Jim Schwartz’s, pass rushers are more important... Barnett was a prolific sacker in college and will operate across from Brandon Graham, one of the league’s most underrated edge-attackers." 

Mike Mayock of NFL.com"I love the energy. I love the toughness. People either loved or they didn't like him because he didn't have explosive measurables in the combine. But his tape is too good and I think the city of Philadelphia is going to love him."

Pete Prisco of CBSSports"Love this pick. They might be getting the best pass rusher in this draft."

New York Giants - Evan Engram (No. 23)

Eli Manning has himself another target, and this one reminds Charley Casserly of Redskins' tight end Jordan Reed. Some projected other tight ends, like David Njoku, to go before Engram, but New York clearly liked him enough to select him in the first. 

Reaction to the pick

Andy Benoit of Sports Illustrated​: "It had become painful watching Giants tight ends Will Tye and Larry Donnell play... At worst, Engram can rectify the catching problem. At best, he can revolutionize an already scary passing game."

Mike Mayock of NFL.com: "He's a matchup nightmare. He can block on the perimeter. He'll be an immediate impact player. His skill set is closer to Mike Evans. He runs routes like a wide receiver."

Pete Prisco of CBSSports: "They need a tight end, but I would have gone for an offensive lineman here. He is a good pass catcher."

Dallas Cowboys - Taco Charlton (No. 28)

The Cowboys offense, with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant, is set. Their defense, though, could stand to get better, and Dallas started that effort by taking Charlton out of Michigan.

Reaction to the pick

Andy Benoit of Sports Illustrated​: "Theme of the night: zone-based defenses taking edge rushers. Cleveland, Philadelphia, Miami and Atlanta all did it. And now Dallas, the team that needed that help more than any outside of Cleveland."

Mike Mayock of NFL.com: "This kid has length, power and athletic ability. Reminds me physically of Carlos Dunlap. One-year starter, which makes me question where he was before that."

Pete Prisco of CBSSports: "They need help up front, but this kid flashed at times and did little else."

RELATED: DID PLAYING AT ALABAMA ACTUALLY HURT ALLEN'S STOCK?

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NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

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USA TODAY Sports

NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that allows players to remain in the locker room if they prefer but requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance.

This new policy subjects teams, but not players, to fines if any team personnel do not show appropriate respect for the anthem. 

Teams will also have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction separately though. 

The NFL Players Association released it's own statement after the news was made official.

 

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NFL implementing significant changes to kickoff rules in 2018 season

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AP Images

NFL implementing significant changes to kickoff rules in 2018 season

The NFL is not eliminating kickoffs altogether for the 2018 season. But at the NFL spring meetings in Atlanta, Ga., owners did agree to make significant changes to the third phase of football.

The NFL's new kickoff rules begin with having five players on each side of the ball (previously they could line up six on one side). Also, they cannot line up more than 1-yard from the restraining line, which is the line where the ball is placed on the tee. This prohibits the kickoff team from getting a running start downfield. 

At least two players must be lined up outside the yard-line numbers and at least two players lined up between the numbers and the hash mark. In years past, three players had to be lined up outside the inbounds line with one outside the yard-line number. At least eight players need to be in the 15-yard "setup zone," leaving three players outside of the "setup zone." Before, all kickoff return players had to be behind their restraining line. These changes will place players closer to where the ball is kicked in order to reduce speed and the amount of space on the play. 

Wedge blocks are no longer allowed. Players who were initially lined up in the "setup zone" are the only ones who can now come together for a double-team block. In the past, only 2-man wedge blocks were allowed and could take place on the field anywhere. The purpose of this change is to limit the possible blocking schemes by the kickoff return team. 

No player on the receiving side of the ball can cross the restraining line or block in the 15-yard area from the kicking team's restraining line until the ball is touched or hits the ground. Before, the receiving team could move past their restraining line and block as soon as the ball was kicked. This change gets rid of the "jump-set/attack" block.

Finally, a ball will be considered dead if it's not touched by the receiving team and touches the ground in the end zone. In the past, the ball was dead once it was downed in the end zone by the receiving team. This change means there's no requirement for the kickoff returner to down the ball in the end-zone. 

If that was a lot to dissect, check out the video below. 

In addition to new kickoff rules, ejections are now reviewable. In March, a rule passed that officials can make an ejection after a replay, but not they can also undo an ejection after a replay. 

The league also adjusted the official language for Use of a Helmet rule. 

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