Apr 162001
 
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New York Giants 2001 NFL Draft Preview

INTRODUCTION: In previous years, I intended my draft preview to be a fairly comprehensive listing of those players who I thought the Giants might consider selecting – taking into consideration my own personal biases. This approach has never completely left me satisfied with the final product as my listing was certainly not comprehensive enough. The reason for this is quite simple: researching draft eligible prospects takes time and producing the write-ups on each takes even longer. Far too much time than I am adequately able to devote to any type of comprehensive analysis. Thus, while many of the Giants’ selections were indeed covered by my preview, just as many were not. I felt that these holes in my coverage were embarrassing.

This year I am taking a different tack. My analysis below is NOT comprehensive by any stretch of the imagination. The players discussed are my personal favorites or those who I think may be under-appreciated by many. The listing will not be large and thus most of the players who will be drafted by all teams will be absent from my discussion. For those seeking more totality, I would suggest surfing the draft links listed in the Related Links section of the website. These publishers have devoted an incredible amount of time and effort to produce their analyses on most of the players who will be drafted.

Once the draft is complete, I will review all of the selections of the Giants in as much detail as I can – obviously including those who I have not discussed below in this article.

Quarterbacks: Personally, I think this is a terrible year for quarterbacks. There are two first rounders – Michael Vick of Virginia Tech (who will be the first player taken) and Drew Brees of Purdue. After that, there are a bunch of guys who are either too small, too weak-armed, or too inaccurate to become big-time players in the NFL. My late round or rookie free agent sleeper is Justin Coleman.

  • QB Drew Brees, 6-0, 215lbs, 4.85, Purdue: I’d be pretty shocked if the Giants drafted Brees for a couple of reasons. For one, they are still building up Kerry Collins’ confidence and I wouldn’t think they would want him thinking about a limited future in New York. Second, Brees is much shorter than what the Giants like at quarterback. Third, while he has good arm strength, he doesn’t have a very strong arm. However, Accorsi has indicated a willingness to collect quarterbacks and Brees is the best after Vick and could be there at #30 for the Giants. Brees lacks height and great arm strength, but he is a player. Great intangibles – smart, hardworking tough guy with outstanding leadership skills and poise. His teammates look up to him and he often delivers in the clutch. Experienced in the West Coast Offense and he sees the field well. Finds the open man and delivers an accurate pass. Good scrambler who can hurt teams with his feet.
  • QB Justin Coleman, 6-4, 235lbs, 5.20, Nebraska-Kearney: Developmental prospect with fine tools. Has great size and a strong arm. Pocket passer who lacks mobility. Has good intangibles – smart and a leader.

Tight Ends: I consider a true tight end as a player who can play every down in the traditional stationary down position. This player may or may not be a good receiver, but he has to be at least a decent blocker – able to take on big defenders by himself when called upon. Players who can’t do this and who are often put into motion as a “move” tight end or H-Back. Dan Reeves used Aaron Pierce in this role; Jim Fassel uses Pete Mitchell in the same way. Not many “true” tight ends who can block big defenders by themselves come out of college anymore. Most are not naturally big or strong enough to move a defender. Those who can often are poor receivers due to a lack of athleticism, niftiness, and/or hands.

There are two tight ends in this draft who the Giants could take with their first pick. They are:

  • Todd Heap, 6-5, 255lbs, 4.70, Arizona State: Junior eligible. Heap is the better receiver. He is a naturally instinctive in the receiving game. He runs good routes, knows how to get open, and catches the ball well. Plus he can get deep down the seam – something that has been missing from the Giants’ offense for years. But while he gives a good effort blocking, this is not his strong suit and he probably never will be able to consistently drive defenders off the line of scrimmage. He’s more of a “get in your way”-type who does work to sustain. He could improve in this area with more strength and bulk (he has the frame to carry it). If the Giants took Heap, it would probably indicate an even bigger commitment to the finesse blocking schemes the Giants employed in 2000.
  • Alge Crumpler, 6-2, 265lbs, 4.78, North Carolina: Crumpler is the better blocker. He is a more powerful and stout player who can drive big defenders off the ball – though he needs to be more consistent in that department. Has long arms and big hands that help him block. He’s not a bad receiver, but he doesn’t have Heap’s down-the-field dimension and ability to stretch opposing defenses. Though not used heavily in the passing game at North Carolina, he can get open, has good hands, and runs well after the catch. He does have a serious old knee injury that needs to be checked out. If George Young was still running the draft, I know that he would prefer Crumpler (though he lacks the classic height the Giants like in their tight ends). I’m not sure what direction General Manager Ernie Accorsi, Director of Player Personnel Marv Sunderland, or Head Coach Jim Fassel will go if they decide to draft a tight end in round one – they may prefer the better receiving target.

If the Giants don’t draft a tight end in round one and draft a cornerback (like I expect), then there are only a couple of other guys who interest me:

  • Jabari Holloway, 6-3, 255lbs, 4.90, Notre Dame: Jabari could be the Giants selection anywhere from round two to round four. The Giants do have a history of drafting tight ends from Notre Dame (Mark Bavaro and Derek Brown). Holloway also lacks ideal height, but he has some power as a blocker and is equipped with those much desired long arms and large hands. But he is not a consistent striker and needs to work to sustain better. As a receiver, he has decent athleticism and agility. He is not a deep threat, but he can catch the ball, run after the catch, and keep the chains moving.
  • Shad Meier, 6-5, 255lbs, 4.85, Kansas State: Meier has good size, but he needs to get bigger and stronger. He really works hard at his blocking, but at present he is more of a “get in your way” and sustain-type of blocker. He’s a decent athlete as a receiver, can get open and catch the ball. Meier is a hard worker and team player to boot.

Wide Receivers: Accorsi talks as if he likes to collect play-makers on offense. Well in the modern age of professional football, play-makers come mainly at wide receiver. Accorsi may also take note of how a full compliment of dangerous targets really helps offenses such as the Rams and Vikings. If speedster is available, don’t be surprised to see the Giants pull the trigger. This is a very good year at wideout.

The two best – David Terrell of Michigan and Koren Robinson of North Carolina State – should be long gone by the time the Giants pick (though there has been some talk of Robinson sliding). WR Rod Gardner should go high too, but he is more of a possession receiver. Some speed receivers to keep an eye on:

  • WR Santana Moss, 5-10, 185lbs, 4.37, Miami: Most feel that Moss will be long gone by the time Giants pick and they are probably right, but I just have a feeling that he may slide a bit due to his lack of ideal size. Moss is probably the most explosive deep threat in the draft due to his outstanding speed and quickness. But he’s not just a great athlete – he makes big plays in clutch situations when his team needs him the most. Fine intangibles – smart, tough, competitive, and confident. Lacks real natural hands, but he usually catches most passes thrown his way. Outstanding elusiveness. Very dangerous after the catch. Great punt returner who has returned six punts for touchdowns the last two seasons. Moss would be a perfect fit for the Giants.
  • WR Chris Chambers, 6-0, 210lbs, 4.42, Wisconsin: Speedster who is built like a running back. Plays tall due to his great jumping ability and long arms. Very fast and agile. Can get deep in a hurry. Raw – will need quite a bit of route running refinement – so don’t expect big things early on. Inconsistent hands. Lacks natural hands although he can make some simply spectacular catches. Needs to concentrate better. Very good runner after the catch. Has a big upside if he wants it badly enough.
  • WR Quincy Morgan, 6-1, 210lbs, 4.45, Kansas State: Good size, speed, and quickness. Gets deep and makes big plays. Clutch player. Somewhat raw – needs route running refinement. Inconsistent hands – can make the tough catch, but drop the easy one. Need to concentrate better. Very good runner after the catch. Not the most physical guy in the world. Big upside. Somewhat of a gamble pick – has great tools, but he needs to dedicate himself to the game and work harder.
  • WR Reggie Germany, 6-1, 183lbs, 4.40, Ohio State: Talented wide receiver from a major program who hasn’t put it all together yet, but who has great tools. Needs to get stronger. He has fine height and very good speed. A bit of a longstrider, but he is quick out of his cuts. Not the most physical guy in the world – prefers the sidelines to the middle of the field. Inconsistent pass catcher – needs to focus better. Will make a great catch then drop an easy one. Runs well after the catch. Improving – Germany could really surprise.

Halfback: The Giants will not draft a running back in round one. And unless the Giants are really unhappy with Joe Montgomery, I don’t see them drafting a running back when you consider that Tiki Barber, Ron Dayne, Joe Montgomery, Sean Bennett, and possibly Damon Washington are factors here. If they are unhappy with Montgomery (or trade him), the one underrated guy who I like who may slip a bit is:

  • HB Travis Henry, 5-9, 225lbs, 4.60, Tennessee: Travis lacks ideal height, but he is a powerfully built back who runs with his shoulder pads low to the ground – the kind of back who is very tough tackle. Instinctive – has good vision though he really isn’t a very elusive player. Very competitive and intense. Lacks top speed and needs work as a pass catcher though he seems to have good hands. Needs to hold onto the ball better. Reminds me a bit of Stephen Davis because he is a power back who breaks long runs despite his lack of a great 40-time.

Fullbacks: The Giants had some interest in Mike Sellers of the Redskins before he signed with the Browns, so the Giants appear to have some interest in bringing in more competition at fullback. A lot of people like Heath Evans of Auburn (and so do I), but I think the Giants would look to complement Greg Comella better with a guy known for his blocking. If they drafted a guy like Evans, it would mean they were looking to replace Greg and I don’t think the Giants are trying to do that.

  • FB Moran Norris, 6-1, 250lbs, 4.66, Kansas: Traditional fullback who run blocks well. Gets movement in his run blocks, but he needs to engage on the move and sustain a bit better. Fine pass blocker who doesn’t get bullrushed by linebackers. Can catch the ball and flashes power as a runner. Was slowed by injuries in 2000.

Offensive Line: It will be interesting to see what kind of offensive linemen the Giants draft (they’ll probably draft at least two) and how high they select them. Head Coach Jim Fassel and Offensive Coordinator Sean Payton seem to like offensive linemen who can run. Many plays call upon the Giants’ linemen to pull. This requires a better athlete who is usually not as big and powerful – unless you get lucky. Many Giants’ fans don’t like these more “finesse”-oriented players. Why? Because the word “finesse” is a football pejorative and the last Big Blue Super Bowl champion employed a power scheme. But don’t forget that the “Suburbanites” were a finesse line and some of the most successful run blocking lines in NFL history are finesse lines as well (such as today’s Denver Broncos).

If a lineman can’t run, I doubt the Giants will take him high. At the same time, I still have a strong bias towards those linemen who are good run blockers and like to mix it up in the pits. I don’t like guys on the offensive line with a questionable work ethic or an inconsistent motor. In my book, too many draft experts get caught up looking at the size/speed package without looking hard enough at the player’s intangibles.

OT’s Leonard Davis of Texas and Kenyatta Walker of Florida will be long gone by the time the Giants pick in round one. But there are three guys from the University of Michigan who could be there and are all interesting prospects:

  • OG Steve Hutchinson, 6-5, 315lbs, 5.15, Michigan: Teams don’t normally select guards in round one unless they are special, but Hutchinson falls into that category. He is a true football player who plays the game the way it is meant to be played. He is an smart, aggressive, tough player who likes to punish the opposition. Combine that with is fine size, power, and athleticism and you have the entire package. At this stage, he’s a better run blocker than pass blocker, but he should excel at both. He can pull and trap and possibly play center and right tackle. If Hutchinson somehow manages to slide until the Giants’ pick (most mock drafts have him being taken far earlier), the Giants should snap him up in a New York minute.
  • OT Jeff Backus, 6-5, 310lbs, 5.30, Michigan: The other two Michigan studs are tackles. Some like Jeff better, some like Maurice Williams better. Jeff played left tackle at Michigan and may have the ability to play that spot in the pros, but he might be better suited for the right side. Williams may have better long-term potential, but I feel that Backus is more of a sure thing and more able to play sooner. To start with, Backus has the intangibles I really like. He’s a hard worker and committed to the game. He has a good feel for the game and like the scouting report on Luke Petitgout a couple of years ago, the word on Backus is that the man he is playing against normally doesn’t make many plays. Jeff is not a top athlete and is not a super powerful player (he also lacks long arms), but he is a good run and pass blocker who does his job in a consistent fashion. He is physical, positions himself well, sustains his blocks, and can engage defenders at the second level. There isn’t a lot of flash, but consistency is a vastly underrated characteristic for OL’s. I would not be unhappy at all if the Giants picked Backus in the first round. Similar to former Wolverine and current Redskins’ starter RT Joe Jansen.
  • OT Maurice Williams, 6-5, 305lbs, 5.30, Michigan: Like the other two Michigan players, Williams has good intangibles. He is a hard worker and he wants to get better. Williams is not as consistent as Hutchinson and Backus, but he may have the bigger upside. He didn’t become a full-time tackle until his senior season, but he has rapidly improved. Maurice has good size, but he needs to add more bulk and strength. He is a bit high-waisted – which affects his leverage a bit. Improving run blocker who can move a defender; he also can engage defenders at the second level. Williams is a good athlete. Sets up quickly in pass protection and has long arms which help him out. Needs to play with better technique and keep his feet moving. Could be a factor at either left or right tackle.

Some think Williams may make it to the end of the second round. Two other guys who could be there for the Giants (but who also may be surprise higher round picks) that I like are:

  • OG Mike Gandy, 6-4, 310lbs, 5.25, Notre Dame: Some people think Gandy could be a late first rounder so don’t be shocked if he is the Giants’ pick at #30. Physically, Gandy has a great package. He’s big, athletic, and mobile. Gandy can still get bigger and he does need to add strength. He’s an improving player with improving work habits, but he still needs greater consistency. Mike is a good run blocker who can move a defender off the line of scrimmage. He can also pull and engage defenders at the second level. Since he is athletic and is equipped with long arms, he shows fine potential as a pass blocker though he needs more technique work in this area.
  • OT/OG Matt Light, 6-4, 310lbs, 5.30, Purdue: Played left tackle in college and may be able to handle that spot at the pro level, but probably projects to right tackle or possibly guard. Yet another lineman with those intangibles I look for. Hardworking, smart, tough, aggressive, and a bit nasty. Improving player with a good feel for the game. Uses good technique. Good run blocker who can move a defender; plays with fine leverage. Knows how to position himself. Not a top athlete, but he can pull and engage defenders on the move. Uses fine technique in pass protection, but may not be athletic enough to handle the left tackle spot in the pros. I like Light a lot. He’s a fine football player who may go much higher than some draftniks expect. I’ll jump for joy if the Giants somehow manage to nab him in round two.

After the above-mentioned players, I feel the talent-level drops off pretty dramatically. I don’t like the intangibles of many of the other highly regarded prospects or there are athletic or size concerns. Two other guys who have caught my eye are:

  • OT Elliot Silvers, 6-7, 345lbs, 5.40, Washington: Played left tackle at Washington, but may lack the athleticism to do so in the pros; might be better suited to the right side. A huge man with incredibly long arms and enormous hands. Plays with passion and an attitude, but needs to keep his emotions under control. Can move defenders off the line of scrimmage, but he must play with better leverage and sustain in a more consistent fashion. Surprisingly athletic for his size, he can perform the short pull and engage defenders at the second level. Decent pass blocker who should get even better with pro coaching. His long arms are a great weapon here.
  • OG Paul Zukauskas, 6-5, 315lbs, 5.35, Boston College: Once again, those intangibles are present. Hardworking tough guy with a touch of nastiness. Not a great athlete however and this limits his game. Has good size, but needs to get stronger. Zukauskas has a good feel for the game. More of a position player than a “move-them-out” run blocker. Needs to play with better leverage, but he does work to sustain. Can manage the short pull and engage at the second level. Anchors well in pass protection, but quickness can give him problems at times as he doesn’t have really agile feet.

I doubt the Giants draft a center to back-up Zeigler. However they could take a look at one late – especially if a guy they like slips. Dominic Raiola of Nebraska is the cream of the crop, but he will be taken early. Four guys to keep an eye include:

  • OC Robert Garza, 6-2, 295lbs, 5.05, Texas A&M-Kingsville: Garza lacks ideal height, but he’s a decent athlete with good strength. Improving player. Hardworking, smart, tough, and competitive – he has a great attitude. Only OK run blocker, but he does well on the move. Decent in pass protection. Has the feet and agility to stay with a defender, but he can be overpowered by big, strong defenders at times.
  • OC Casey Rabach, 6-4, 300lbs, 5.30, Wisconsin: Hardworker with fine leadership characteristics. Competitive. Has OK size, but has the room to add strength and bulk. Good run blocker with a feel for the game. Not a real powerful player, but he can get some movement and works to sustain. Limited a bit athletically which can hurt him in pass protection when confronting quick defenders, but he does anchor well.
  • OC Ben Hamilton, 6-5, 305lbs, 5.30, Minnesota: Once again, he has those intangibles. Smart, hardworking, competitive, and a leader. Has good height, but he is not a naturally big man. Can be overpowered at times. Works hard to sustain as a run blocker, but he is not a blaster. Decent athlete – can pull and engage at the second level. So-so pass protector. Needs more strength to anchor better and needs better technique with his footwork.
  • OC Dennis Norman, 6-4, 305lbs, 5.16, Princeton: Developmental prospect who played tackle in college. Projects to center due to his size and intelligence. Hardworking and very smart. Good athlete with OK size. Not a blaster, but he understands the game and positions himself well to effectively take a defender out of the play. Needs to get stronger and add more bulk. Does a good job moving his feet in pass protection, but needs to anchor better against power (added strength and bulk will help).

Defensive Ends: Right now, defensive end depth is a big concern. The Giants need to someone to spell Michael Strahan and Kenny Holmes from time to time or start if one of these two gets hurt. A veteran free agent may be added and Jeremiah Parker could be a factor, but as things stand right now, more bodies are needed. The problem with most of the defensive ends in this draft is that they are very small and look more like situational weakside pass rushers than full-time players. Finding someone who can play on the strongside is a big challenge. The two best players – Justin Smith of Missouri and Andre Carter of California – will be long gone by the time the Giants select. It is unlikely the Giants will draft a defensive end early, but if a good one slips, they may be tempted to pull the trigger. You can never have too many quality pass rushers.

  • DE Jamal Reynolds, 6-3, 265lbs, 4.70, Florida State: Jamal is guy who I think might slip a bit because he’s not viewed a strong two-way defensive end at this point. Much better pass rusher than run defender – but a very dangerous pass rusher. Explosive. Lacks ideal size and power to stand strong at the point of attack against the run. Needs to shed better. May never be a good run defender. But he is a difference-maker as a pass rusher. Very fast and quick for a defensive lineman – runs like a linebacker. Hard worker and competitive. Would have to be a serious consideration for the Giants if he lasts until the end of the first round, but at this point he is only a situational player.
  • DE Aaron Schobel, 6-4, 265lbs, 4.70, Texas Christian: Like Reynolds, Schobel is smaller than ideal and thus there are questions about his ability to defend the run. Strictly a weakside end who can rush the passer. Athletic with fine speed and quickness, he also has good intangibles – hardworking, tough, competitive, and durable. Has good instincts. Needs to add strength/bulk and play more stout at the point of attack.
  • DE DeLawrence Grant, 6-3, 280lbs, 4.85, Oregon State: Lacks ideal height, but he has good bulk for the position. Has experience on the strongside. Intangibles are there – competitive, hardworking, and aggressive. Athletic with good agility and quickness for his size. Decent run defender, but he needs to shed better. Flashes ability on the pass rush with a nice combination of power and quickness, but he needs to learn to play with better leverage and not get stood up as much as he does.
  • DE Reggie Hayward, 6-5, 255lbs, 4.85, Iowa State: Another undersized pass rushing type. Reggie has good height, but he needs to add bulk and strength. Good athlete with fine quickness. Has the height and long arms that teams look for in pass rushers. Not a strong run defender as he lacks a powerful base. Inconsistent production, but has the tools to be a player if he works hard and wants it badly enough.
  • DE Saul Patu, 6-3, 275lbs, 4.95, Oregon: Physically, Saul is not the ideal specimen. He is a decent athlete with fine quickness, but he’s not quite as big as teams would like. What makes Patu appealing is that he has great intangibles and he makes plays on the football field. He is hardworking, tough, and competitive. Plays with leverage and is instinctive. Decent run defender and pass rusher, but doesn’t excel at either. Needs to continue to add strength and bulk, but he should develop into a quite capable two-way defensive end.
  • DE Joe Tafoya, 6-4, 270lbs, 4.90, Arizona: Has experience at both tackle and end though he most likely projects to end due to his size. Competitive, hardworking, tough, and intense. Instinctive play-maker who can be disruptive. Quick, but lacks ideal size and agility. Needs to shed quicker against the run. Flashes at times as a pass rusher.

Defensive Tackles: If Christian Peter re-signs, defensive tackle is not a big need area. However, this is the deepest and most talented defensive tackle draft that I’ve seen in the 16 yeas that I’ve followed the draft. If the Giants are going to consider VALUE as well, they may be very tempted to draft one of the quality defensive tackles high. Teams with quality depth at defensive tackle usually make it to the playoffs.

Gerald Warren of Florida will be long gone. Most prognosticators feel that both Richard Seymour of Georgia and Marcus Stroud of Georgia will be gone by the time the Giants pick too. The best of the rest include:

  • DT Damione Lewis, 6-3, 290lbs, 4.95, Miami: Active, athletic tackle who disrupts with his quickness. Is shorter than ideal but he plays with fine leverage. Sheds blocks well in run defense and is a good inside pass rusher. Flashes big-time talent, but he needs to play with greater consistency if he is to become a standout.
  • DT Shaun Rogers, 6-5, 320lbs, 5.30, Texas: Huge tackle who plays with great power. Very good athlete for his size. When he plays with leverage, he can be almost impossible to stop. Flashes great ability as a run defender and pass rusher. However, he’s an inconsistent competitor and worker. Needs better conditioning. Is recovering from a ankle injury and may not be able to practice at camp.
  • DT Casey Hampton, 6-1, 320lbs, 5.20, Texas: Dedicated, hardworking, competitive leader. Lacks height, but Casey has fine size and power. Better run defender than pass rusher. Disruptive. Plays with great leverage and can be tough to move out in run defense. Sheds blocks well. Lacks agility as a pass rusher, but he can bullrush the pocket.
  • DT Willie Howard, 6-3, 292lbs, 5.00, Stanford: Willie lacks classic defensive tackle size, but he is big enough with fine athleticism and quickness. Needs to get stronger and play in a more consistent fashion. Decent player against both the run and pass. Disruptive. Competes hard and he is intelligent. Has experience at end as well.
  • DT Ryan Pickett, 6-2, 310lbs, 5.10, Ohio State: Junior eligible. Ryan lacks ideal height, but he is a naturally big athlete with fine agility. Needs to get stronger. Good run defender who takes on blocks and sheds well. Has the tools to become a decent pass rusher, but needs better technique.
  • DT Kris Jenkins, 6-5, 315lbs, 5.15, Maryland: Kris has great size and is athletic for his size. Has long arms and is strong. Flashes great power and the ability to disrupt the running game when he plays with leverage. But he doesn’t always do this and is therefore inconsistent. Needs to shed quicker as well. Needs technique work on the pass rush but has the tools to do well there. Has big time ability, but it is not a certainty that Kris will put it all together.
  • DT Ennis Davis, 6-4, 305lbs, 5.15, USC: Combines fine size and athleticism. Has long arms and a good base. Flashes very good ability as a run defender, but needs to shed better. Needs to get stronger and better conditioning. So-so pass rusher. Inconsistent motor, but could really surprise if he dedicates himself to the game, plays with better leverage, and become more physical.
  • DT Mario Monds, 6-3, 340lbs, 5.05, Cincinnati: Great size with fine athleticism for his size. Flashes great ability against the run, but he needs to shed quicker. Not a strong pass rusher, but he has the ability to bullrush the pocket. Inconsistent effort both off-the-field and on-the-field. Needs much better conditioning and strength training.
  • DT Willie Blade, 6-3, 315lbs, 5.05, Mississippi State: Great size with fine athleticism for his size. Flashes great ability, but has an inconsistent motor. Can be disruptive against the run, but he coasts too much. Needs to get stronger and shed better. So-so pass rusher, but he can bullrush. If someone can light a fire underneath him, he could be special. Has a shoulder injury that needs to be checked out.

Linebackers: If Ryan Phillips and Pete Monty have re-signed or are close to re-signing, this isn’t a big need area. But as the Giants continue to address team speed and special teams play, it wouldn’t be shocking to see a premium pick spent here. Jessie Armstead also has a lot of wear-and-tear. MLB/OLB Dan Morgan of Miami will be long gone by the time the Giants pick.

  • MLB Kendrell Bell, 6-1, 235lbs, 4.60, Georgia: Athletic, smaller than ideal MLB in the mold of Michael Barrow. Can defend the run, cover, and blitz. Great intangibles – plays the game with a passion. Tough and a big hitter. Fast and quick. Avoids blockers well, but he can be out-muscled by size at the point of attack. Improving. Could be a prospect at weakside linebacker as well.
  • MLB/OLB Torrance Marshall, 6-2, 250lbs, 4.60, Oklahoma: Can play inside or outside. Has the physical package teams crave. Combines very good size and athleticism. Strong and has long arms. Can handle the run at the point of attack and chase. Can cover and blitz too. Lacks top instincts and needs to play with more passion. Has the tools to excel if he wants it badly enough.
  • WLB Tommy Polley, 6-4, 225lbs, 4.60, Florida State: Athletic weakside linebacker who suffered a very serious knee injury at the end of the 1999 season, but came back to play in 2000. Very good athletic with excellent height, but who lacks bulk. Needs to get stronger. Fast and quick. Intense play-maker with fine instincts. Run-and-chase-type who avoids blocks well, but who can also have problems at the point of attack. Can cover and blitz.
  • SLB Orlando Huff, 6-2, 245lbs, 4.75, Fresno State: Huff has a fine combination of size and athleticism. Has the size, strength, long arms, and aggressiveness to play on the strongside. Plays with leverage and sheds well. Can also blitz. Has the tools to do well in coverage though he needs a lot of technique work in that aspect of the game. Inconsistent performer – at times he looks awesome, but he also disappears too much in some games. Improving and has an upside.
  • OLB/MLB Brian Allen, 6-0, 250lbs, 4.65, Florida State: Brian reminds me a bit of Dhani Jones. Confident and aggressive. Allen lacks ideal height, but he is a fine athlete with good size. Has the ability to play inside or outside. Can play the run, blitz, and cover – but doesn’t excel at any one phase.
  • WLB Eric Westmoreland, 6-0, 235lbs, 4.65, Tennessee: Lacks a lot of height, but is a very good athlete with great intangibles. Tough, aggressive competitor. Fast and quick. Makes plays all over the field. Not strong at the point of attack due to his size. Run-and-chase-type who avoids blocks well. Can cover and blitz.
  • OLB Matt Stewart, 6-4, 235lbs, 4.75, Vanderbilt: Lacks ideal bulk and speed, but Matt is a play-maker who is smart, tough, and competitive. Improving. Good athlete with fine height. Can cover and blitz. Decent run defender, but he does need to play with better leverage and shed quicker at the point of attack. Good special teams player who can long snap.

Defensive Backs: I’m only really going to be concentrating on the corners here. The Giants are set with their starting safeties and I don’t expect them to look for safety depth until real late in the draft or after the draft is over. Most people expect the Giants to take a corner in round one. The strange aspect of this draft is that while there are a number of quality corner prospects, no one seems to be clearly ahead of the pack.

  • CB Will Allen, 5-11, 195lbs, 4.40, Syracuse: Has good size. Allen has the one thing you can’t teach and that is blazing speed. He’s very athletic with fine quickness as well. Smooth – he changes directions well. Excellent closing burst. Not the most physical player in the world – needs to be more aggressive in coverage and against the run. Can return kicks. Would be a very good complement to the bigger Jason Sehorn. Has a big upside.
  • CB Willie Middlebrooks, 6-2, 200lbs, 4.50, Minnesota: Junior eligible who combines great size and athleticism. Like most big corners, Willie is not the most fluid coverman around, but he is a very good athlete with fine speed and quickness for his size. Better suited for bump-and-run coverage than playing man-off. Physical and aggressive with receivers. Should be a better run defender than he giving his size, but his run defense is not a weakness. Has a huge upside.
  • CB Nate Clements, 5-11, 208lbs, 4.50, Ohio State: Junior eligible. Good intangibles – hardworking and competitive. Combines good size with very good athleticism. Fast and quick – has a burst. Plays a physical game with receivers. Good run defender. Has returned punts. Improving, but inconsistent. At times, he will give up a big play.
  • CB Jamar Fletcher, 5-9, 180lbs, 4.55, Wisconsin: One of the best pure covermen in the draft. Jamar was widely considered the top defensive back in college last season. The biggest concern with him is that he lacks size and clocked speed. However, he plays bigger than his size and faster than his time. Still, there is a concern about how much of an upside he has. This makes him one of the toughest players to evaluate in the draft. Jamar has all the intangibles (competitive, confident, hardworking) and instincts that you want in a player. Has a feel for coverage and makes big plays. Physically, he may be small, but he has long arms and he jumps very well. Smooth athlete with fluid hips. Usually covers the opposition’s best receiver one-on-one. Good run defender despite his size.
  • CB Fred Smoot, 5-11, 172lbs, 4.50, Mississippi State: Has good height, but he lacks much bulk. Needs to get bigger and stronger. Quick, fast, fluid athlete who is one of the best pure cover corners in the draft. Aggressive in coverage – makes plays. So-so in run support. Very confident and competitive. A trash talker. Was arrested recently on a marijuana charge but released – obviously this needs to be looked into and why I have downgraded him a bit. If drugs are an issue, the Giants won’t even have him on their draft board.
  • CB Ken Lucas, 6-0, 200lbs, 4.55, Mississippi: Ken combines good size and athleticism. Has good speed and quickness for his size. Plays a physical and aggressive game. Does well in bump-and-run coverage. Not as strong in man-off coverage. Like most bigger corners, he has more stiffness in his hips. Good run defender. On the raw side – is a converted wide receiver and is still learning the position so he needs quite a bit of technique work. Improving. Has a big upside.
  • CB Gary Baxter, 6-2, 205lbs, 4.55, Baylor: Another big corner who some project to safety. Good athlete for his size. Plays an aggressive and physical game. Best suited to bump-and-run rather than man-off coverage. Lacks top speed and quickness – and can thus be a bit exposed by very fast or very quick opponents. Doesn’t make many plays on the ball. Good run defender. Similar to Dave Thomas but a better athlete.
  • CB Jamie Henderson, 6-2, 200lbs, 4.50, Georgia: Yet another big corner. Good athlete for his size with fine speed and quickness. Plays a physical game. Better suited as a bump-and-run corner, but he’s not too bad in zone. A bit on the stiff side. Makes plays, but also has given up some big plays. So-so against the run – needs improvement in that aspect of his game.
  • CB Michael Stone, 5-11, 193lbs, 4.50, Memphis: Combines fine size and athleticism. Has good speed and quickness. Plays a physical game. Does better in bump-and-run than man-off. A bit stiff. Good run defender. Improving.
  • CB Bhawoh Jue, 6-0, 190lbs, 4.55, Penn State: Improving player with good size and athleticism. A bit on the stiff side, he does better in a bump-and-run situation. Physical with receivers, but not in run defense. Needs to improve his tackling.
  • CB Brock Williams, 5-10, 186lbs, 4.45, Notre Dame: A bit smaller than ideal, but Brock is a very good athlete with excellent speed and quickness. Fluid in his movements. Has the ability to stay with most receivers but gets burned at times by double-moves. So-so run defender. Has had some off-the-field problems that need to be looked into.
  • CB Tay Cody, 5-9, 180lbs, 4.55, Florida State: Small, athletic corner who has a nose for the football. Tough, confident competitor. Lacks top speed, but he is fluid and agile. Quick. Instinctive. Makes plays on the ball, but also has problems with big receivers. Despite his lack of size, he plays the run well. Looks like a good nickel corner. Has a past with marijuana use, but may have cleaned up his act – obviously this needs to be checked out.

Kickers/Punters: The only kicker probably worthy of draft consideration is Bill Gramatica.

  • PK Bill Gramatica, 5-10, 195lbs, South Florida: Strong-legged left footed kicker. Pretty accurate. A good kick-off man, but he does need better hang time. Can serve as an emergency punter.

And the New York Giants Select…

1st Round – CB Willie Middlebrooks, Minnesota: Since the Giants do not do a good job of keeping who they like a secret, we know they like Middlebrooks. It makes sense because he has the speed that Accorsi and Fassel say they want plus the traditional size that the Giants look for in cornerbacks. To me, CB Will Allen makes a lot of sense too. If both these guys are gone, CB Jamar Fletcher could slide and be the pick. CB Ken Lucas could also be a possibility. If the Giants don’t draft a corner in round one, OT Jeff Backus makes the most sense to me. Like a Luke Petitgout or Joe Jansen, he is more apt to be a factor on the offensive line sooner rather than later. Of course, the two tight ends (Todd Heap and Alge Crumpler) could both be there. The one guy who could be a big wild card is WR Santana Moss. He probably won’t slide, but if he does, I’d snap him up. The other possible wild card is if one of the top defensive linemen such as DT Shaun Rogers falls (and he could due to his late recovery from an ankle injury). Personally, I would consider linebackers Kendrell Bell and Torrance Marshall if they are there too.

2nd Round – OG Mike Gandy, Notre Dame: The guy who I’d really want here is OG/OT Matt Light of Purdue, but I don’t think he falls that far. Gandy may not either.

3rd Round – TE Jabari Holloway, Notre Dame: This draft has a distinctive Irish flavor as the Giants select their second golden domer in a row. The only thing that makes me think that Holloway may not be high on their list is his lack of ideal height (the Giants like tall tight ends). If so, perhaps they go offensive line again with someone like OT Elliot Silvers. A linebacker such Brian Allen or Orlando Huff would be a good value pick here too.

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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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