Apr 091997
 
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New York Giants 1997 NFL Draft Preview

Message from Eric: The following is a listing of players, including brief descriptions of strengths and weaknesses, who I like going into the draft. For your information, I have factored need into our overview. With plenty of depth and youth at the quarterback, defensive end, cornerback, and placekicking positions, it is not likely the Giants will spend a draft pick in these areas unless somebody slips and the value is too great. Thus, for the sake of this draft preview, I will concentrate on those areas where the Giants have more of a need. I have also not included some “top” prospects because I don’t like them for one reason or another (i.e., off-the-field problems, limitations due to size or instincts, medical concerns, etc.). At the bottom of this listing, I have provided our projection on who I think the Giants will take in the first six rounds. Enjoy!


HALFBACKS:

The Giants probably feel relatively comfortable at halfback with Tyrone Wheatley and Rodney Hampton. However, Wheatley has been injury-prone and wear-and-tear has taken a toll on Hampton’s body. There is also a desperate need for a legitimate 3rd down back. A player who could develop into a 3rd-down back and eventually replace Hampton as Tyrone’s main back-up would be desirable. There are a number of highly regarded halfbacks that did not make my list. Antowain Smith and Sedrick Shaw are talented players, but they will likely go higher in the draft than the Giants would like. Corey Dillon has a checkered past, Byron Hanspard has bust written all over him. Darnell Autry isn’t a great athlete and doesn’t catch the ball well.

Warrick Dunn, 5-8, 180lbs, 4.40, Florida State: Very small but extremely talented running back. Game-breaker. Superb running and catching the ball. Threat to go all the way every time he touches the ball. Instinctive and super-productive. The type of guy Fassel could work wonders with. Dunn will be a nightmare for linebackers and safeties to cover. A “David Meggett” back with much more speed but less pass blocking ability. Will never be starter, strictly a role player. May slip further than most “experts” believe due to his size. However, extremely unlikely he will make it to the Giants’ second pick.
Duce Staley, 5-11, 220lbs, 4.60, South Carolina: In my opinion, Staley is the most underrated player in the draft and would be a major steal for the Giants in the third or fourth round. Staley combines the size the Giants crave in their halfbacks with very good moves, quickness, and decent speed. He’s instinctive, hardworking, and a gamer. Makes people miss. Excellent pass receiver and maybe the best pass blocking halfback in the draft. Also returns kicks.
Tiki Barber, 5-9, 203lbs, 4.53, Virginia: Small but powerful back who can do it all: run, catch, and return punts. Super-productive and elusive. Good cutback runner. Like Dunn, size limits him as a blocker. He can catch the ball and do some damage with it after the reception, but is not a real natural pass receiver. His punt return-ability has to be an attractive asset for the Giants.
Leon Johnson, 6-0, 210lbs, 4.64, North Carolina: There is something about Leon Johnson that has “New York Giant” written all over him. Johnson combines good size, athleticism, and instincts. Extremely versatile: he can run, catch, block, return punts and kicks, and even throw the option pass. Not flashy, but he catches the ball well and is a graceful runner. Not a speedster and not overly-elusive.
Corey Walker, 5-9, 190lbs, 4.45, Arkansas State: Strictly a 3rd-down back and role player. Extremely quick and elusive back who can catch the ball and return kicks. Needs to improve his blocking. Could develop into an excellent 3rd-down back.
Troy Davis, 5-8, 181lbs, 4.55, Iowa State: Small but super-productive back. Not fast, but quick, agile, and instinctive. Powerful for his size. Can return kick-offs and catch, though he’s not that experienced in the passing game and needs more work in this area.
Damon Benning, 5-11, 210lbs, 4.55, Nebraska: Back-up at Nebraska who lacks special qualities. However, he is an extremely versatile back who can run, catch, return kicks and punts, play coverage teams on specials, and even throw the ball. Hardworking and model citizen. Career back-up-type, but his versatility and character make him attractive.
Thomas Haskins, 5-7, 175lbs, 4.60, Virginia Military Institute: Extremely small player, but he’s tough and physical for his size. Super-quick and elusive. Instinctive and productive. Can return punts and kick-offs. Size really limits him as a pass blocker.


FULLBACKS:

Not much to choose from in this group. The Giants have a critical need for a back-up fullback. If Charles Way goes down with an injury, the Giants would be in major trouble. Most of the more highly-touted fullbacks this year just don’t block that well. The Giants also ask their fullbacks to block first and foremost. Catching the ball is a distant second and running-ability is last on the list.

Steve Lee, 6-1, 255lbs, 4.80, Indiana: In my opinion, Lee is easily the most talented fullback in the draft, yet will probably slide until the late rounds. The reason? He rarely carried the ball at Indiana, carrying it only nine times his entire senior season. However, Lee may be the best blocking fullback in the draft. Great size. He can also catch the ball, though he needs more work in this area. Lee would make a great late-round selection for the Giants and provide them with the insurance they need at fullback.
Matt Calhoun, 5-11, 240lbs, 4.60, Ohio State: Calhoun is a solid lead blocker for a major program. Has shown an ability to catch the football.
Chester Ford, 6-0, 230lbs, 4.70, Tennessee: Physical blocker for a major program, but struggles running and catching the ball.


TIGHT ENDS:

There are some talented tight ends in this draft, but the good ones should go higher than the Giants would like. David LaFleur (who also has some back problems) and Tony Gonzalez will likely go in the late first round-early second round. Damon Jones has the kind of character that will scare the Giants away. Freddie Jones will probably go in the second round. O.J. Santiago tests MUCH better than he plays. Greg Clark and Pete Chryplewicz aren’t much better than what the Giants have now. The Giants are more likely to spend a low draft pick or sign some rookie free agents who aren’t well known (like Ted Popson, Brian Saxton, and Brian Kozlowski in the past).


WIDE RECEIVERS:

The pickings will be very slim here after the second round is completed, so if the Giants are going to substantially upgrade their receiving corps, they will have to do it in rounds one or two. I’m not real high on Reidel Anthony (more flash than substance) and Joey Kent (solid but unspectacular, doesn’t change speeds well) as others are.

Rae Carruth, 5-11, 194lbs, 4.40, Colorado: Lacks ideal height, but he is a well-built receiver with tremendous speed and acceleration. Speed merchant and home-run hitter. Has good foot quickness and excellent change of speeds, though he can look stiff at times. Will block and does well running with the football after the catch. Doesn’t have natural hands and drops more balls than he should. Very good at running reverses.
Yatil Green, 6-3, 200lbs, 4.43, Miami: Proto-typical size, athleticism, speed, jumping-ability, and hands. Exactly what pro teams are looking for today in terms of physical attributes. Play-maker when healthy. Could develop into an All-Pro receiver. Risky high pick however. Like Amani Toomer and Thomas Lewis, he has been injury-prone and is not a good route runner. Needs to work harder. Has hired one of the most difficult agents to negotiate with. Gamble on greatness. Regardless, he has to be a serious consideration for the Giants in round one.
Ike Hilliard, 6-0, 188lbs, 4.60: Lacks top speed, but has decent size and is an excellent receiver. Very good quickness and elusiveness. Good route runner and a clutch target for his quarterback, something the Giants desperately need. Should be a serious consideration for the Giants if he makes it to their second round pick.
Kevin Lockett, 6-0, 171lbs, 4.52, Kansas State: OK height, but lacks bulk and great speed. Excellent route runner, with superb hands, quickness, toughness, and athleticism. Knows how to get open. Second rounder.
Joey Kent, 6-1, 185lbs, 4.55, Tennessee: Very refined WR who has good hands, runs good routes, but lacks great speed and the ability to accelerate to the ball. Doesn’t change gears well but has been extremely productive and can get deep on occasion.
Will Blackwell, 6-0, 185lbs, 4.53, San Diego State: Decent but not great size and speed. Excellent route runner with superb hands, quickness, toughness, and athleticism. Super-productive.
Derrick Mason, 5-11, 193lbs, 4.54, Michigan State: Tough, physical WR who returns kicks. Decent size and quickness. Not really a deep threat and will drop some balls. 3rd-4th rounder.
Keith Poole, 6-1, 185lbs, 4.57, Arizona State: Clutch, possession-type receiver who doesn’t have great speed, but makes a lot of plays. Keeps drives alive. Changes speeds well and has excellent hands. Perfect third WR…the kind of guy who could make Chris Calloway expendable if Calloway becomes too expensive to keep.
Dedric Ward, 5-9, 175lbs, 4.55, Northern Iowa: Small receiver lacking great hands or speed, but who is very quick and shows and ability to separate from defenders. Super-productive. Can return punts and kicks.
Rocky Henry, 6-0, 183lbs, 4.57, Utah: Good hands with decent size and athletic-ability. Good route runner and knows how to get open. Lacks great speed and has problems with the bump-and-run.


CENTERS:

The Giants are set with Brian Williams as their starter. He is one of the better centers in the game and should soon garner Pro Bowl recognition. Adam Schreiber is a more-than-capable back-up and reserve guard Scott Davis has practiced at the position as well, but both are unrestricted free agents and it is not known at this time whether the Giants can or will bring one or the other back. A center prospect who also could challenge for the starting left guard position would be ideal.

Rod Payne, 6-4, 305lbs, 5.55, Michigan: Good size and athletic-ability for the position. Instinctive and has a feel for the game. Loves to talk on the field. Great leadership potential. Played guard as well as center in at the All-Star games and looked good.
Jeff Mitchell, 6-4, 310lbs, 5.25, Florida: Good size but not overly athletic. Strong, intelligent, and a hard worker. Can play center or guard. Overachiever-type who is never going to star, but who is going to give you an honest day’s work on gameday.
Billy Conaty, 6-3, 305lbs, 5.42, Virginia Tech: Another center with good size. Tough, instinctive, and a hard worker. Average athlete. Overachiever-type, similar to Mitchell. Can deep snap — a big plus for the NFL.


GUARDS:

Though he struggled somewhat in his debut season as a full-time starter, the Giants seem comfortable with Ron Stone as their man at the right guard position. It’s the left guard spot where the questions begin. Figuring into the mix are Rob Zatechka (the big man from Nebraska who struggled big-time in his second season and may not have the feet for the game), Scott Davis (the smaller unrestricted free agent who was scheduled to start in 1995 before suffering a serious knee injury), Lance Smith (an savvy, older, smaller unrestricted free agent who the Giants might now reportedly bring back), and Greg Bishop (last year’s starter at left tackle who may not have the feet for the position and who Fassel is reportedly interested in moving to guard). Provided Davis and Smith re-sign, the bodies are there, but is the talent? Are any of these guys the long-term answer at the left guard position? I’m not very high on two of the more highly regarded players in the draft, Bob Sapp, who tests much better than he plays and Paul Wiggins, who plays very soft.

Chris Naeole, 6-3, 320lbs, 5.2, Colorado: Largely regarded by many as the best pure guard in the draft. Naeole combines great size with outstanding strength and toughness. Very good run blocker, he does need to work on pro-style pass protection though he rarely gave up a sack in school. Doesn’t go hard all the time and needs to play with more concentration.
Ross Verba, 6-4, 300lbs, 5.15, Iowa: Decent size and very, very athletic. More of a 49er-finesse player, but showed very well at the All-Star practices in terms of run and pass blocking. Very good puller and shows some explosion. Tough, savvy, and a team leader. Needs to play more physically. Different type of lineman than the Giants usually draft, but might be a good fit if the team wants to get Wheatley outside more.
Damon Denson, 6-4, 303lbs, 5.37, Michigan: Not well known by the media, Denson could end up being a better player than Naeole. Good size and athletic-ability. Aggressive, intense, and goes hard all the time. Somewhat raw, he will take some time to develop, but has outstanding potential. Kind of guy the Giants will probably be very interested in.
Jerome Daniels, 6-5, 350lbs, 5.55, Northeastern: Huge prospect from a small school who has big-time tools. Very raw, he will need a lot of development. Played left tackle in school, but looks more like a prospect at guard. Massive, powerful with long arms and plays with an attitude. Not that agile…definitely more of a mauler than a puller. With development, he could probably even play at both tackle spots. Reminds me of the type of lineman that Dallas usually looks for.
Frank Middleton, 6-3, 320lbs, 5.25, Arizona: Huge college left tackle who projects to guard. Agile for his size and has long arms. Confident player and plays with an attitude. Showed well at the All-Star practices. Needs to improve his conditioning and technique as well as play more physically, but has very good long-term potential.
Chris Dishman, 6-3, 330lbs, 5.48, Nebraska: Replaced Rob Zatechka at left tackle in 1995 before moving to guard in 1996. Very good size with decent agility for a big man. Strong run blocker who can pull. Needs work in pro-style pass protection. Looks to have better feet than Zatechka but will need some time to develop.
Juan Roque, 6-8, 335lbs, 5.55, Arizona State: Played left tackle in college, but doesn’t have the great feet for the position needed at the pro level. Played some guard during the postseason and looked good. Huge man with long arms. Can be overpowering but is not that athletic — can pull, but doesn’t look smooth doing so.
Donnie Young, 6-4, 315lbs, 5.35, Florida: Strong player with good size and decent agility. Can pull and be physical. Inconsistent and doesn’t play hard all the time. Fine potential if he’s willing to pay the price.
Tim Kohn, 6-6, 305lbs, 5.2, Iowa State: Played left tackle in college, but may not have the feet for the position in the pros. Very smart player with good size and feel for the game. Good run blocker and improving pass blocker. Has played very well against some top players but has been inconsistent.
Marcus Spriggs, 6-4, 315lbs, 5.45, Houston: Left tackle who will most likely move inside for the pros. Big man who shows some natural power and agility. Raw…he will need a lot of technique work as well as strength and conditioning work.


TACKLES:

The Giants seem to be high on LT Roman Oben and RT Scott Gragg. Oben has very quick feet, long arms, and good size, but he is very raw and needs a lot work still. Gragg has great size and is hard worker with some fire and athletic-ability, but he is cut high and also needs a lot of technique work. The Giants would like Oben to develop rapidly so they can move Bishop to guard. Whether Oben can do so or even handle the position is still a matter up for debate. Reserve tackle Jerry Reynolds has great size and is a decent athlete, but he isn’t that explosive. The Giants may look for a guy to compete with Oben and/or provide depth. If Oben can’t handle the left tackle position, there are many who think he would make a great guard.

Orlando Pace, 6-7, 340lbs, 5.2, Ohio State: Left tackle. This guy has been a major-league pro prospect since his freshman year and is currently rated as a better prospect than such recent upcoming NFL stars as Jonathan Ogden and Tony Boselli. Huge and athletic with very long arms. Strong and explosive. Incredible agility for a man his size. Super run and pass blocker. Destroys people. Dominated Simeon Rice in 1995. Best player in the draft and as sure a thing as you will ever find in the draft. May make the Pro Bowl in his first year and should be a regular for years to come provided he stays healthy.
Walter Jones, 6-5, 300lbs, 5.05, Florida State: Left tackle. Very raw prospect who dominated last year. Allowed only one sack in 1996 and was flagged for only one penalty. Very good size and superb athletic-ability — he’s quick, agile, and plays with tremendous balance. Practiced day-in-and-day-out against Peter Boulware and Reinard Wilson. Can shock defenders and be explosive. Needs experience (only played one year at Florida State) and more strength work, but could develop into a regular fixture at the Pro Bowl. Despite their high opinion of Oben, the Giants would have to seriously consider Jones if he were available to them in round one. Jones and Oben could form the most athletic left side in all of football.
Jerry Wunsch, 6-6, 330lbs, 5.30, Wisconsin: Right tackle. Huge man with natural power and strength. Has long arms and is aggressive. Good movement skills for a right tackle with his kind of size. A little stiff but he does have decent feet. Could be a prospect at guard.
Tarik Glenn, 6-5, 355lbs, 4.75, California: Left tackle. Huge, physically-imposing lineman with long arms and incredible athletic-ability for one so large. Has played only two years on offense and is improving. Naturally strong and explosive. Tough and can play mean. Has the ability to dominate defenders. Somewhat lazy and immature (though he is only 20 years old and that is to be expected). Has never been a hardworker off the field and has a weight problem. Says he is now committed to the sport, but can you believe him? Has hired a nutritionist to help him with his weight. Could develop into an All-Pro or be a huge bust. Might be worth the gamble in round two if he’s still there.
Jamie Nails, 6-6, 385lbs, 5.74, Florida A&M: Left tackle. Unheard of size and has very long, powerful arms. Incredibly explosive at the point of attack. Strongest player at the Combine. Has been compared favorably to Dallas lineman Erik Williams. Plays with an attitude and can hurt people. Very good run blocker. However, he needs a lot of conditioning work. Needs a ton of technique work, especially in pass protection. Very raw but intriguing prospect who will never have the feet for the position unless he loses 40 pounds…needs to work harder and become more focused. May be better suited for the right side, like Erik Williams.
Scott Rehberg, 6-8, 320lbs, 5.25, Central Michigan: Left tackle. Big man with decent athletic-ability and long arms. Improving. Lacks great feet and needs more strength. Somewhat raw and will take time to develop. Probably will never be a great player, but should become a solid NFL starter in time.
Richard Howard, 6-7, 350lbs, 5.45, Carson-Newman (Tennessee): Long-shot to make a team but has intriguing size and athletic-ability. Huge man who can maul defenders. However, he is very raw and needs a lot of conditioning work. Needs to play with more focus. Could be an interesting late round or rookie free agent pick up.


DEFENSIVE TACKLES:

It’s starting to get crowded here but do the Giants really have anyone who scares opposing teams? Robert Harris and Keith Hamilton are the two talented, yet inconsistent and underachieving starters. Christian Peter is the rookie run stuffer who could surprise or be cut if he doens’t keep his nose clean. Ray Agnew is likely to become a salary-cap casualty unless he accepts a pay cut. Last year’s rookie free agents (Bernard Holsey, Darnell Gilliard, and Ramon Okoli) will likely vie for one spot. The Giants, like most teams, would love to obtain a force at this spot who can help take pressure off of the ends and linebackers. Some of the more highly regarded prospects who I’m not crazy about include Nate Davis (very talented underachiever with an attitude problem), Brandon Mitchell (big time underachiever), Antonio Anderson (ditto, and not productive), Rick Terry (seems to be strictly a bull rusher with not much agility, was surrounded by talented caste at North Carolina, and will probably go much higher than he deserves), and Pat Williams (difficult to coach, attitude problem). The talent level falls off once Russell is gone.

Darrell Russell, 6-5, 320lbs, 4.9, USC: Superb size and incredible athletic-ability for his size. Quick, fast, agile, and coordinated. Has natural power and explosion. Often double-teamed by the opposition. Has the tools to become a dominant inside pass rusher, a very difficult commodity to find today. Could develop into a better pass player than Sean Gilbert or Eric Swann. However, he is very inconsistent and immature. Will have to play more physically and with greater toughness in order to succeed big-time in the NFL. Gamble on greatness-type of selection.
Renaldo Wynn, 6-3, 288lbs, 4.80, Notre Damn: Played end in college but could project inside for the pros. Lacks ideal height and girth but has very good athletic skills. Strong, tough, and aggressive. Can rush the passer and play the run.
Myron Elzy, 6-4, 315lbs, 5.1, Central Sate (Ohio): Small school player who has very good NFL-type tools. Big and strong, he can stack up the middle of the line. Has good agility for a big man and might develop into a solid inside pass rusher with the proper coaching and hard work. Very inconsistent and raw. Poor technique and needs to play tougher. Could become very good or very average…it’s all up to him.
Jermaine Smith, 6-3, 290lbs, 5.02, Georgia: Decent size with good quickness and some explosion. Needs more strength and technique work. Has a fine motor and plays with leverage at times. Lacks ideal height.
Edward Jasper, 6-3, 295lbs, 5.33, Texas A&M: Big, powerful, physical player who does a good job stuffing the inside run. Will never be a top pass rusher. Though he does have some initial quickness, he doesn’t move real well. More of a stay-at-home-type who can push the pocket on occasion on the pass rush.
Jason Ferguson, 6-3, 320lbs, 5.35, Georgia: Another big, strong guy who plays the run well, but is limited on the pass rush. Like Jasper, he has some initial quickness, but is more of a bull-rusher than a moves-guy.
Leland Taylor, 6-3, 300lbs, 5.25, Louisville: Another big and powerful man. Strong run defender who is another bull rusher. Inconsistent competitor, takes downs off. Needs better conditioning.
Travis Kirschke, 6-4, 285lbs, 5.10, UCLA: Average athlete who is a top competitor. Has some strength and quickness but lacks ideal size and movement skills.


OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS:

The Giants are solid with starters SLB Corey Miller and WLB Jessie Armstead, but the Giants are most likely looking for more flash and big plays from this position, especially from Corey Miller’s spot on the strongside. Depth is somewhat of a concern as well. The Giants are high on WLB Scott Galyon, but he is unproven. Veteran SLB Marcus Buckley has never impressed and fellow SLB Ben Talley is coming off of a very serious knee injury. A young playmaker who can do it all — play the run, cover, and especially rush the passer — should be a priority. In particular, it would be very difficult for the Giants to pass on Dwayne Rudd and James Farrior in the first round. The talent level really falls off once Jamie Sharper is off the board.

Dwayne Rudd, 6-2, 242lbs, 4.64, Alabama: Strongside candidate. Lacks ideal height, but Rudd is a big, super-strong, and incredibly athletic linebacker. Impressive quickness and speed. Can jump through the roof and is well coordinated. Can blitz, cover, and play the run. Not as physical as one would want, but has legitimate impact potential.
James Farrior, 6-1, 233lbs, 4.65, Virginia: Strongside candidate. Smaller than ideal but super-productive in school. Can do it all — rush the passer, play the run, and cover. Despite his size, he has been proven to be a tough run player and a very good tackler. Instinctive and physical. Lack of size appears to be only major negative.
Jamie Sharper, 6-3, 240lbs, 4.63, Virginia: Weakside candidate. Good size and very athletic. Another player who can do it all, but not as physical or tough against the run as Farrior. Dominated some games in college, but was quiet in others. Good tackler and instinctive. Very good prospect.
Derek Smith, 6-2, 240lbs, 4.73, Arizona State: Strongside candidate. Decent size. Good lateral quickness. Aggressive and hustles. Plays with an attitude. Can play the run and jam the tight end. Solid character and has room to grow. Underrated. Could play inside.
Vernon Crawford, 6-3, 250lbs, 4.90, Florida State: Strongside candidate. Excellent size, but a limited athlete. Not overly instinctive and gets tied up more by blockers than he should. Not good in coverage. Aggressive and physical. Is a good special teams player. Has developmental potential as a run down defender. Late round selection.


MIDDLE LINEBACKERS:

Corey Widmer isn’t your ideal middle linebacker, but he’s better than most. He has great size and he hustles. His instincts are improving and he has the potential to develop into a team leader. Doug Colman looks and plays a lot like Widmer, but may have even more instincts. Neither player is particularly graceful, speedy, or strong in coverage. The Coleman Rudolph experiment at MLB failed miserably last year — he likely won’t be back. The Giants will probably want to bring in one more body for depth. This seems to be a better year than usual for MLB’s, especially for strong run defenders.

Matt Russell, 6-1, 250lbs, 4.90, Colorado: Big, physical, instinctive MLB who lacks great athleticism and speed. Gives you all that he has. Tough run defender with fine leadership potential. Weak in coverage and not that agile. Second rounder.
Pete Monty, 6-2, 252lbs, 4.82, Wisconsin: Another big, physical linebacker who lacks great athleticism. Like Russell, Monty is instinctive and a hard worker. Big hitter and good run defender. Hustles and competes. Also weak in coverage and not that agile. Slightly more mobile than Russell, but does get hung up on blocks at times.
Tyrus McCloud, 6-2, 255lbs, 4.95, Louisville: Yet another big, strong, physical player who lacks athleticism and speed. Instinctive. Strong run defender, but weak in pass coverage. Is a big hitter and can be explosive, but doesn’t have good range. Lack of agility is a real concern.
Mark Smith, 6-2, 245lbs, 4.86, Arkansas: Big, tough, smart, instinctive competitor. Limited athlete, but plays faster than he times. Not fast but agile. Can play the inside run but needs to be more physical. Weak in coverage and needs more strength.
Billy Granville, 6-3, 240lbs, 4.85, Duke: Big, physical, tough competitor. Instinctive and a good run defender. Lacks agility and speed. Weak in pass coverage. Late round selection.


SAFETIES:

With the waiving of SS Jesse Campbell, depth now becomes a concern. FS Percy Ellsworth has fine range and instincts and Tito Wooten is a great athlete and can play the run and the pass — he just needs to play smarter and more consistently. Reserve Rodney Young has talent, but hasn’t shown much since he’s been with the Giants. It’s hoped that he will blossom under the new staff, given the chance. SS Maurice Douglass is a smart, savvy veteran and good special teams player. SS Picasso Nelson and FS Brandon Sanders are tough, physical run defenders who struggle in coverage. One may stick. Another body to provide depth and compete with the projected starters would be nice, however, this doesn’t look to be a very good year for safeties. Most of the selections listed below are late round types.

Kim Herring, 5-11, 200lbs, 4.55, Penn State: Free safety. OK size and a good athlete. Has good movement skills. Intelligent, intense, and instinctive. Tackles well. Needs to improve his coverage skills and consistency, but shows promise. Can return punts. 2nd-3rd rounder.
Torrian Gray, 6-0, 200lbs, 4.50, Virginia Tech: Can play both safety spots. Decent size and a good athlete. Smart, fast, and competitive. Can cover but does not excel. Solid tackler and can play the run but sometimes gets too tied up with blockers. 2nd-4th rounder.
Mike Logan, 6-0, 200lbs, 4.50, West Virginia: Cornerback who should switch to safety in the pros. Decent size and a very good athlete. Intense and aggressive. Good tackler and hitter. Can return punts and kicks. Has some injury concerns with his right arm (he’s fractured it several times).
Rob Kelly, 6-2, 200lbs, 4.55, Ohio State: Can play both safety spots. Tall player with a thin build. Solid in coverage and against the run. Instinctive and competitive. Has good agility but looks stiff at times. Good special teams player.
Chris Hewitt, 5-11, 210, 4.70, Cincinnati: Strong safety. Good size and athletic, but lacks speed. Tough, aggressive, and instinctive. Agile and plays quicker than he times — has played both CB and S. Can hit and tackle, but sometimes plays out of control. Can return kicks.
Dexter Coakley, 5-10, 215lbs, 4.50, Appalachian State: College linebacker who projects to strong safety. Lacks ideal height but is very big. Very instinctive and productive player. Intense, competitive, and hustles. Superb on special teams. Very athletic — has the agility and speed to make the conversion, but conversions are always risky. At the very worst, he’ll add heart and great special teams play.
Damien Robinson, 6-2, 214lbs, 4.70, Iowa: Strong safety. Huge prospect and a good athlete. Agile for his size, but not fast. Physical, tough, and aggressive. Needs to improve coverage skills and consistency. Should be able to help out on special teams.
Cory Gilliard, 6-0, 215lbs, 4.53, Ball State: Strong safety. Huge with very good speed for his size. Strong run defender and special teams player. Makes some big hits. Struggles in coverage — not quick or agile. Needs better technique.
Zack Bronson, 6-0, 195lbs, 4.65, McNeese State: Free safety. Productive and instinctive ball player who is not overly agile. Good tackler and sometimes a big hitter. Has tools but needs better consistency. Can return punts.
Kevin Jackson, 6-0, 205lbs, 4.65, Alabama: Strong safety. Decent size but a limited athlete. Tough, physical, productive, and instinctive. Not overly agile or fluid — struggles somewhat in coverage.
Sean Woodson, 6-1, 215lbs, 4.75: Strong safety. Excellent size, but a limited athlete. Can hit and tackle. Very smart and instinctive. Not agile — struggles somewhat in coverage. Good on special teams.
Harold Lusk, 6-0, 200lbs, 4.70, Utah: Can play both safety spots. Decent size and good athletic skills, but lacks speed. Instinctive. Big hitter, but needs to improve his tackling. Can return punts.


PUNTERS:

For all intents and purposes, the Giants do not have a punter on the roster. They must draft one or hope they pick up a decent one after the draft through free agency or rookie free agency.

Brad Maynard, 6-1, 175lbs, 4.60, Ball State: Can punt for distance, hangtime, and direction. Best punting prospect to come out in a long time. Could go in the second round.
Will Brice, 6-4, 215lbs, Virginia: Left-footed punter. Strong leg and can punt for direction and hangtime. Needs to work on getting his punts off quicker. Good prospect.
Ty Atteberry, 6-0, 200lbs, 4.90, Baylor: Very strong leg but inconsistent. Needs better technique.


The New York Giants Select…

1st Round — LB James Farrior, Virginia: OLB Dwayne Rudd, LT Walter Jones, and WR Rae Carruth must be considered but there is a good chance that Rudd and Jones won’t make it to the Giants’ spot. If the Giants are going to significantly upgrade their defense in this draft, which they want to do, they will have to do it in the first round. Farrior will give the Giants’ defense better balance and yet another player to build around. James can blitz, cover, and play the run. In particular, he should help the Giants’ pass rush right away as the new defensive staff spells him with veteran OLB Corey Miller on the strongside. Though he lacks ideal size, Farrior is a productive, instinctive attacker — he disrupts opposing offenses and he makes big plays. ‘Nuff said.

2nd Round — WR Joey Kent, Tennessee: Tough to decide between offensive line and wide receiver. Strong consideration must be given to OG’s Ross Verba and Damon Denson if they last this long. However, the Giants know the quality WR’s will be going fast. Kent has good size and is a very polished receiver. Probably could make an impact as a rookie because he played in a pro-type system. Fassel will like his route running skills, willingness to run inside, and ability to run after the catch. However, he’s not real explosive and doesn’t have great hands. WR’s Kevin Lockett and Ike Hilliard are also possibilities.

3rd Round — HB Duce Staley, South Carolina: Tiki Barber must also be a strong consideration here. Staley is a big back with good quickness and elusive moves. He’s a natural receiving threat and does very well in picking up the blitz. Should make an ideal third down back while also providing depth for Wheatley and Hampton.

3rd Round — FS/SS Torrian Gray, Virginia Tech: Gray can play both safety spots and has the speed that Jim Fassel and John Fox want at safety. Will need to improve his technique, but he has good tools.

4th Round — OG Frank Middleton, Arizona: Big guard who plays with a chip on his shoulder. Very raw and will need a lot of technique, strength, and conditioning development, but has fine long-term potential.

5th Round — P Will Brice, Virginia: The Giants draft the second best punter available.

6th Round — FB Steve Lee, Indiana: Giants get another fine blocking fullback who will provide much needed depth.

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Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of BigBlueInteractive.com, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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