The biggest splash of the offseason came in the NFC East when the Redskins traded up to the #2 spot in the draft, but there were plenty of other moves. Sorry, Brandon Meriweather, but I could not put you on here even though you are slated to start in Washington. Terrell Thomas is another one that just missed. Yes, he was with the Giants, but the projected starting cornerback missed last season and is supposed to return to the lineup in 2012. Here are the 10 new faces most likely to have an impact this season.
10. Martellus Bennett, TE, New York Giants. Another former Cowboy makes the list for changing teams. He wouldn’t have made it on merit, but he is moving to a situation where the Giants need tight end, so he should get a bigger opportunity in New York replacing Jake Ballard.
9. Mat McBriar, P, Philadelphia Eagles. A punter? well, hopefully this is the only punter I list, but he is switching division rivals after being injured last year. Can the former pro bowl caliber punter regain his form?
8. Nate Livings, OG, Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys struggled with the interior of the line in 2011, so they added former Bengals guard Nate Livings to compete with Bill Nagy for a starting spot in 2012.
7. David Wilson, RB, New York Giants. The defending champs added running back Wilson, and he should immediately be in the rotation as Brandon Jacobs is now in San Francisco. With Ahmad Bradshaw’s injury history, Wilson could end up playing an even bigger role in 2012.
6. Fletcher Cox, DT, Philadelphia Eagles. The best 4-3 defensive tackle in the draft dropped to the Eagles. He should immediately move into the rotation, in a good situation to succeed, where Cullen Jenkins, Trent Cole, and Jason Babin draw plenty of attention.
5. Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins. The Redskins spent a lot of money at wide receiver, with Garcon being the biggest acquisition. His low catch rate playing in the Colts offense (55.3% for career), relative to other receivers on the team, is a concern. He may be mis-cast as a lead receiver.
4. Brandon Carr, CB, Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys needed a major overhaul of the secondary after last year, and the first big splash was to sign former Chief Brandon Carr to a big contract. Carr was a former 5th round pick in 2008 who started every game for the last four years in Kansas City.
3. DeMeco Ryans, MLB, Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles linebacking group was inexperienced and a mess. To remedy that, they went out and acquired former pro bowl middle linebacker Ryans, who is a better fit in the Eagles’ system than the 3-4 to which the Texans switched last year. He’s 28, which is not young for a middle linebacker with that many starts, but should stabilize the defense in 2012.
2. Morris Claiborne, CB, Dallas Cowboys. Dallas didn’t stop at Brandon Carr, and was able to completely revamp the cornerbacks when Morris Claiborne was still available for a trade up in the draft. Claiborne should immediately move into the #1 cornerback role and have one of the bigger newcomer defensive impacts in the league.
1. Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins. The biggest splash of the offseason came in Washington, where the Redskins traded up to get RG III as their franchise quarterback. He will start from the opening game, and should be a good fit for the Shanahan offense that features designed bootlegs and rollouts.
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