by Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com
4/24/2002 (Rookie Free Agent Section Updated 8/20/2002)
FIRST ROUND – TE Jeremy Shockey, University of Miami, 6-5, 255lbs, 4.65: This is a good pick for the Giants and the team feels it is a superb pick as they see Shockey as a true impact football player. The only thing that stinks is that the Giants gave up their 4th round selection to the Titans in order to move up one spot to ensure, at least in the minds of the Giants’ hierarchy, that no other team would steal Shockey from them. Press reports indicate that Seattle was very interested in Shockey, but if the Giants’ feared Seattle, I think they got snookered. No way the Titans drop down to Seattle’s pick as they would have lost any chance to draft DT Albert Haynesworth or CB Phillip Buchanon (incidentally, I don’t buy the reports that the Seahawks didn’t want Shockey – that is damage control PR on their part). But if the fear was that Cleveland was the more serious threat, then trading up made sense – provided the Giants are correct in assessing that Shockey is a much better prospect than TE Daniel Graham. Personally, I do think it was Cleveland who scared the Giants the most. Regardless, let’s hope Shockey turns out to be a heck of a football player – especially since they passed on Haynesworth themselves.
Before I discuss Shockey’s talent and how he will help the Giants, I do want to mention to things: (1) losing the coin flip to the Titans cost the Giants a 4th round pick; (2) the Giants really need to plug the leaks coming from inside the organization. In 2000, all the New York/New Jersey papers knew that Dayne was the halfback they wanted and this year they knew that Shockey was the man from the get-go. Heck, Paul Needell even reported the morning of the draft that the Giants were willing to trade up to make sure they got Shockey. These loose lips may have cost them a 4th round draft pick as well. Next time, they will lose another pick or lose the player.
Now on to Shockey. Shockey combines good size with excellent athletic ability. He is fast (has been timed in the 4.55-range), quick, and fluid for a tight end. As a receiver, he gets a clean release from the line, runs good routes, gets open, adjusts well to ball, and has excellent hands. Simply put, Shockey is a top notch receiver. Unlike most tight ends, he has the speed to get deep and make big plays. He also is a clutch player who wants the football at crunch time. He is very confident in his ability to make an impact in every game. Jeremy runs well after the catch too.
Shockey is solid, improving blocker, but he needs to continue to develop in this phase of his game. Adding more strength should help him. Right now, he’s more of a positional blocker than a blaster, but he does sustain his blocks pretty well. He’s quick off of the snap, plays with fine leverage, and has a little pop in his blocking. His agility will help him hitting targets at the second level. Remember, the Giants like to put their tight ends/H-Backs in motion quite a bit and have them lead at the point-of-attack.
Shockey has that “special player aura” around him. It’s not just because he is a talented prospect, but it is the belief in himself, the ability to make clutch plays, and his leadership that separate him from other prospects. If he stays healthy, Shockey should be a Pro Bowl regular and give the Giants their second “scary” player on offense after Tiki Barber. His mere presence alone will help to open things up for both the passing and running game. Opposing safeties and linebackers will now be less able to keep an eye on the wide receivers and Barber. “I know in my first year I want to dominate and I want to make a lot of plays and do what I can to make plays and stretch the defense to get the receivers open on the outside,” said Shockey after he was drafted.
Fassel on Shockey: “I’m really happy because he brings a lot to the organization, not only from the standpoint of ability. The thing that got me really excited about him were the things I heard about and saw about his competitiveness and his desire to be a winner. When he was here for a visit and we sat down and talked, he expressed an interest to be here and he’s not the type of guy that tells every team he wants to be there. I really think he had a genuine interest in wanting to be here. He was excited when I got him on the phone. There are three things that I thought about: he has tremendous ability to be a great tight end, I think he has big upside potential, and he’s still raw in his ability to continue to get better. He’s going to get better. One of the key things we have to do is not only pick the best player right now, but we have to say who’s going to be the best player in two, three, four years from now. I think he will. The other thing is the competitiveness…I think with the maturity level that he has and his competitiveness, the league is not going to be too fast for him right off the bat. He’s a competitive guy, so he’s not going to come in and be shy and timid and all that type of stuff. He’s a respectful person, so there won’t be any arrogance. I think he has the ability. The type of tight end that I’ve always wanted since I came here was a guy that has big play pass catching capability. Although I really think that Dan Campbell and Marcellus Rivers have improved, I think this guy can bring some things to us that can help. You have to look at the trends and how people start to play. People are playing a lot of cover two in passing situations and the number one thing for that is to get to the middle of the field. Unless you’ve got a guy that will scare them, they can just roll up on your receivers and make it very difficult for them to get the ball.”
At Miami’s Pro Day: Did 16 reps at 225lbs and ran times of 4.57-4.61.
SECOND ROUND – WR Tim Carter, University of Auburn, 6-0, 190lbs, 4.35: At this point in the draft, I thought the Giants would draft a receiver, defensive lineman, linebacker, or offensive lineman. If you read my draft preview, you know that I had a feeling that the Giants were eyeing Carter. What is interesting is that they liked him more than such available receivers as Antonio Bryant, Andre Davis, and Reche Caldwell. It will be interesting to compare how Carter does vis a vis these other players. According to Carter, the Chiefs and Jaguars had interest in drafting him in the second round.
Carter was one of the fastest players in the draft along with WR Donte Stallworth and WR Javon Walker (both first rounders). Carter saw limited playing time as a receiver at Auburn until his senior season. Before that, he was mainly used on special teams where he excelled as both a kick returner and gunner (the Giants REALLY need a top-notch gunner). In 2001, he was Auburn’s leading receiver and the guy on their team who the opposition focused on stopping.
Carter is an excellent athlete with outstanding speed (sub 4.4) and quickness. He also has the extra gear to pull away from people. Carter uses this as a returner, receiver, and on end-arounds. As a receiver, he has decent (not great) hands, but he will need work on his route running. He’s very quick in and out of his cuts and adjusts well to the football. There are a couple of draft reports that say he needs to be a bit tougher going over the middle of the field, but the Giants say that toughness is one of his attributes.
Carter made a strong impression at the Senior Bowl practices with his ability as a receiver. He should make an immediate impact on special teams as both a returner and gunner. How fast he learns to run routes at the pro level will determine how quickly he sees the field as a receiver.
Marv Sunderland on Carter: “Carter brings you a lot of athletic ability, speed, return ability, special teams. All you have to do is take a look at his background and find out the people in his family that have been special, and I think this kid can be the same way. I don’t think there is any question that he has the athletic skills, that he is a tough kid, a competitor and he is smart. He has everything that you are looking for production wise. A lot of players are under certain circumstances on offenses, what is used, what is not used, rotations. That is not an indictment on the schools or the coaches, that is just what people have to do to be productive. This kid was productive when he had the ball in his hands and that’s all you can ask for. He showed us enough to be special. At the Senior Bowl, he jumped out at everybody with the top players in the country, so I think his upside is huge.”
At the Combine: Ran 4.34, had a 39” vertical jump, and a 10’6 broad jump.
THIRD ROUND – LT Jeff Hatch, University of Pennsylvania, 6-7, 300lbs, 5.10: At this point in the draft, it was pretty obvious that the Giants would draft offensive or defensive line or linebacker. Jeff Hatch is interesting developmental prospect who the Giants considered the last truly talented left tackle in the draft. He’s a small school prospect who the big colleges had some interest in, but he chose to go to the Ivy League for the superior education.
Hatch combines excellent size with athleticism. For a big man, he’s very light on his feet. Even though he is 300lbs, he looks thin. He has the ability – and the need – to add much more strength (in his lower body) and bulk. Great intangibles – smart, hard-working, and competitive. Has a bit of a nasty streak. His excellent athleticism shows up in the pass blocking department where he demonstrates quick feet. Has long arms which help him keeping pass rushers away as well. Works hard at his run blocking, but he needs to play with better technique and add strength to his lower body. Stood out at the Blue-Gray All-Star Game. Hatch is the kind of lineman that Offensive Line Coach Jim McNally loves working with. The big question is how quicky can the Giants get him ready to compete as a starter at the pro level?
Accorsi on Hatch: “We feel he’s got certainly everything you’d ever want in size, intelligence, quickness and toughness. If you watch the Blue-Gray game, they were taking runs at him and he didn’t give any quarter at all. There was a time in the game when a kid hit him late and snapped his helmet back and he turned around with one hand and knocked the kid’s helmet off and knocked him to the ground. There’s enough nastiness in him that he didn’t give in at all down there and I think he won their respect.”
Sunderland on Hatch: “Hatch is a kid that can play major college football. He showed that when he was dominant in the Ivy League. He is big, athletic, smart, and there is not much he can’t do. He can play at any level and he dominated throughout his career at Penn. He played pretty much the whole Blue-Gray Game against so-called upper level players, but he has all the physical attributes and the one thing I like about him is he is mean. He doesn’t play like a kid that hasn’t played major college football. He plays with attitude, he plays with strength, he plays with competitiveness and he is definitely smart.”
At Penn’s Pro Day: Hatch ran 5.08 and benched 225lbs 31 times.
FIFTH ROUND – WLB/MLB Nick Greisen, University of Wisconsin, 6-1, 240lbs, 4.88: I expected the Giants to focus on defense from here on out after taking three offensive players with their first three picks and that’s pretty much what they did with the exception of the quality receiver they got with the first 7th round pick. However the selection of Greisen really surprised me as he didn’t really fit the Giants’ new mold of going after speed players on both sides of the ball.
Greisen is an old-fashioned tough guy linebacker who was super-productive at Wisconsin. He accrued an amazing 146 tackles in 2000 and 167 tackles in 2001. Greisen has top intangibles – he’s smart, instinctive, competitive, and works very hard. He always seems to be around the ball. However, he is not a gifted athlete and doesn’t time particularly fast – this deficiency shows up in coverage at times. Also, he’s not a particularly powerful player. Yet despite his lack of speed, Greisen is often seen chasing from sideline-to-sideline so he seems to play faster than he times. His ability to play pass defense and continue to demonstrate adequate range at the pro level will be the key to his success.
Three more positives: (1) the Dolphins tried to trade up to draft Greisen in the 5th round by offering their 2003 4th round selection; (2) Greisen showed very good quickness in agility drills; and (3) Greisen should help out on special teams as both a coverage man and long-snapper.
Accorsi on Greisen: “Greisen is one of those guys that the scouts and coaches just had a special feeling for. He’s not going to look good when it comes to the stopwatch, but he’s just one of those guys. He’s one of those guys that makes plays. He had 101 tackles and he’s just the type of guy that coaches will fall in love with. He can play Will (weakside linebacker) or in the middle. He doesn’t run particularly fast in the 40 yards, but he’s got terrific quickness. He’s just one of those guys that when you diagnose, the way some of these guys do, he saves you three steps. That is what he does…You’ll see what I mean when you see Greisen, he’s just one of those guys that hits everything that moves.”
Fassel on Greisen: “To me, he has great instincts. We have all the times, the 10, the 20, the 40, but that is the one position that is so instinctive that you may not have a great 40 time but when you watch a guy, he can look so much faster than timed speed. You see something and you attack it, and that’s reaction. I watched him play and I’m thinking this guy plays like a 4.5 guy, but he’s quick and sometimes quickness is quicker than fast. More than any other position, that is the one that will jump out at you. You’ll see a guy and say he’s quick and then you get a 4.9 time on him or you have guys who are 4.6s who play like a 5 flat. He’ll come in here, and I think he can probably play Will (weakside linebacker) and Mike (middle linebacker). Because Dhani (Jones) is in his first year as a starter, that’s probably where we will start Greisen and create some competition with Dhani.”
SIXTH ROUND – WLB Wesly Mallard, University of Oregon, 6-1, 221lbs, 4.50: With the selection of a second linebacker in a row (and the later selection of a third linebacker), it is obvious that the Giants not only felt it imperative to improve the quality of their back-ups, but also provide more depth and competition overall. Mallard fits the Giants’ new emphasis on speed much more than the Greisen pick.
Mallard has played both linebacker and safety, but the Giants see him as a nickel linebacker. In actuality, I see him as legitimate competition for the weakside starting spot. Critics will point to Mallard’s lack of size, but he is no smaller than Jessie Armstead when Jessie came to the Giants and plays a similar style of game. Mallard is very athletic with outstanding speed for a linebacker. Has the tools to stand out in coverage, but he needs work in that department as he was primarily a forward-mover at Oregon. Tough and physical for his size with good strength. Takes on blocks well, but must disengage quicker. Not real instinctive…sometimes hesitates. However, due to his great speed, once he makes a decision, he closes incredibly fast.
Mallard is also an excellent special teams player – a constant theme in all the Giants’ picks. He should become a real factor on both coverage teams. As for his potential future as a linebacker, it all depends on his ability to play the run tough at the point-of-attack.
Accorsi on Mallard: “He’s a nickel linebacker who can run. He’s one of those smaller guys that have a lot of speed…The one that is really exciting to me is Mallard because he can run so fast and because he’s such a good special teams player.”
At the Combine: Ran a 4.5 with a 41” vertical leap, a 9’10” broad jump and did 22 reps of 225lbs. His 1.55 10 yard sprint time was the best of any linebacker.
SEVENTH ROUND – WR Daryl Jones, University of Miami, 5-9, 180lbs: Jones is a guy who I was very high on going into the draft and a guy who I thought could be a steal (see my “Draft Prospects” article). Jones didn’t have the career at Miami that most expected from him. He was hampered both by injury and the fact that Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne (both first rounders last year) were on the roster much of the same time. Sprained his right knee in the season opener in 2001 and played in only six games. Later was hampered by an ankle injury.
Jones is short, but he is a well-built player with very good speed and quickness. Has a burst to his game as well. Due to his lack of size, he operates best out of the slot. Runs good routes and has decent (not great) hands. Elusive – runs well after the catch. Confident in his own ability. Very good punt returner with the quickness to make people miss and the speed to go the distance.
Accorsi on Jones: “I wanted to get a (punt) return guy. He’s also a receiver and we just felt we didn’t want to get involved in a bidding war after the draft. First of all, we thought we would lose him to Cleveland because of his former coach. If not in the draft because they had a pick between us, then certainly in free agency. We had information that they probably had interest. He averaged 16 yards a punt return in his junior year and that was with Santana Moss. Last year, he got hurt and missed five games with a high ankle sprain. When we went down to look at Shockey, he worked out and ran a blazing speed on the wet grass that day. We essentially got him as a return guy, but he can play receiver. We wanted a return guy and once the draft was over, it was going to be a dogfight to try to sign one. We didn’t want to mess around with it…Jones really has the potential to be weapon…When we went to the work out, he really caught your eye.”
SEVENTH ROUND – SLB Quincy Monk, University of North Carolina, 6-3, 250lbs, 4.80: Monk is more like Greisen in that he is a slower linebacker than I anticipated the Giants looking at. The Giants see him as a possible back-up to Brandon Short on the strongside as well as a special teams performer. With the selections of Greisen, Mallard, and Monk – provided they all make the squad – the Giants really upgraded their depth at linebacker in this draft.
Monk, like Greisen, is an old-fashioned, tough linebacker who plays a physical game. Also like Greisen, he was super-productive in college with 125 tackles accrued his senior season. He’s a fairly instinctive guy who is improving and plays quicker than he times. Has a burst and good short-area agility. However, he is not a real fluid athlete and this can cause him problems in pass coverage at times. Takes on blocks well against the run – has some power – but he needs to shed quicker. Like Greisen, his success at the pro level will largely be determined by his ability to play in space in coverage.
Accorsi on Monk: “(Monk) is strictly a Sam linebacker, a strong, stout, big guy that Jim really felt that we needed to make sure that we had depth at linebacker. We’re young but we’ve now protected ourselves with depth at the linebacker position…Monk is just a big guy.”
Sunderland on Monk: “Monk is a kid that is a tough, hard-nosed player. He is a strong kid with good instincts, productive, athletic, big and I think he brings something from the standpoint of playing inside or SAM linebacker. I also think he can play special teams.”
Rookie Free Agent Signings
QB John Welsh, University of Idaho, 6-1, 223lbs, 4.90: Welsh is interesting prospect. He was a 4-year starter for the University of Idaho. Has good arm strength and a quick release. Played well as a senior when he completed 183 of 284 passes (64.4 percent) for 2,215 yards (276.9 per game), 18 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. Showed well at the Blue-Gray game and practices.
FB Darian Barnes, Hampton University, 6-0, 245lbs: Barnes was signed by the Giants right before training camp started after he was by-passed in the 2002 Supplemental Draft. Barnes transferred to Hampton University from Rutgers.
FB Charles Stackhouse, University of Mississippi, 6-2, 252lbs, 4.90: Signing Stackhouse would be a major coup for the Giants as he has a good chance to be the Giants’ starting fullback on opening day. I had Stackhouse rated as the #1 fullback in the draft. Stackhouse started 25 games in his career, including 10 in each of the last two seasons. In 2001, he started eight games at fullback and two at tailback. Selected to the Senior Bowl after rushing for 330 yards and five touchdowns on 75 carries. Also caught 21 passes for 172 yards and two scores. Finished career with 125 carries for 549 yards and six touchdowns and 35 receptions for 334 yards and three scores. Charles has classic fullback size and toughness. Plays quicker than he times. Good runner and receiver out of the backfield for a big man. Runs with power. Adjusts well to the pass and has good hands. Flashes good leading blocking skills, but needs more consistency in that department. Was the lead blocker for Deuce McAllister. Needs better technique in keeping his pad level down and adjust better when blocking on the move. Picks up the blitz well – an unusual quality for a rookie. Frank Coyle of DraftInsiders.com believes he has future Pro Bowl ability. At the Combine, Stackhouse ran 5.00 with 29” vertical leap and a 9’3” broad jump. Benched 225lbs 20 times.
FB KaRon Key, Tennessee State University, 5-9, 235lbs, 4.80: Key was signed as a rookie free agent after the 2002 NFL Draft by the Titans but waived in mid-May. The Giants claimed him off of waivers. Key finished his senior season at Tennessee State with a team-high eight touchdowns. He had 52 carries for 358 yards and five receptions for 86 yards on the season. Key is a bit on the short side, but he is an athlete who flashes quickness between the tackles as a runner. Good runner on the goalline. Good blocker.
WR David Thompson, College of the Holy Cross, 6-3, 194lbs: Thompson led Holy Cross in receptions (46), receiving yards (603), and touchdown catches (nine) and was selected to the All-Patriot League second team last season. In 2000, he led team in same categories with 50 catches for 594 yards and seven touchdowns. Had 96 career receptions in 21 games at Holy Cross after transferring from Grambling State, where he started 10 games and caught 32 passes in 1998. Thompson is a big receiver with fine athleticism. Thompson supposedly was impressive at a workout for the Giant the week before the draft and the team supposedly considered selecting him with one of their 7th round draft picks.
OT Vincent Sandoval, Oregon State University, 6-4, 313lbs, 5.30: Sandoval started 23 consecutive games at Oregon State, playing left tackle as a junior and right tackle as a senior. He was an All-Pac 10 honorable mention selection in 2001.
OT Ryan Deterding, Chadron State College, 6-5, 275lbs: Deterding started at right tackle the last two seasons for Chadron State, a Division II school in Nebraska that was 10-0 last season. He was a first-team All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference selection. Deterding played some defensive end as a redshirt freshman in 1998.
OG Sean O’Connor, Syracuse University, 6-4, 300lbs, 5.35: O’Connor had been signed by the Cardinals after the 2002 NFL Draft, but they waived him on July 16th. O’Connor was named first-team All-Big East after his senior season. He is smart and hard-working. Not naturally explosive or athletic.
OG Dwayne Pierce, Louisiana State University, 6-2, 320lbs, 5.45: Pierce is a quality rookie free agent signing by the Giants. This is a guy who has a good chance to make the roster. Pierce was LSU’s best blocker over the past two years. Pierce started 11 of LSU’s 13 games last season at right guard. In 2000, he started the final 10 games of the season, including the Peach Bowl. Was Tigers’ co-offensive player of the week for his performances against Auburn and Utah State. Pierce lacks height, but he is a powerfully built prospect with a wide body who gets movement as a drive blocker and works to finish his blocks. Strong. He’s a decent athlete, but he’s more at home as a blaster than a lineman who pulls. However, when he keeps his weight down, he does show the ability to engage defenders successfully at the second level. Steady pass protector. He didn’t lift at the Combine. Ran a 5.51 time with a 26” vertical leap.
OG Pat Crummey, Youngstown State University, 6-3, 288lbs, 5.50: Played tackle in college, but projects to guard in the pros. Crummey was named to several All-America teams after his final season at Youngstown State (AFCA, Associated Press, Sports Network, AAFF, Walter Camp). He was Youngstown’s 2001 Male Athlete of the Year and a two-time first-team All-Gateway Conference choice. Crummey started 37 of his last 38 games at offensive tackle, including all 11 last year. Pat has excellent intangibles – he’s a hard-working, blue-collar-type. Tough. Plays quicker than he times and plays with leverage. Needs to add strength and size as well as sustain his blocks better.
OG Jimmy Fitts, University of South Florida, 6-2, 321lbs, 5.30: Versatile, Fitts started 11 games at three positions on the offensive line as a senior at the University of South Florida during the 2001 season. Fitts finished his career with 33 starts.
OC Terence Wagner, California State University at Sacramento, 6-2, 290lbs, 5.18: Wagner started all 44 games in his career for Sacramento State and was a four-time All-Big Sky Conference selection.
DE Sean Guthrie, Boston College, 6-4, 270lbs, 4.85: Guthrie was a two-year starter at defensive end for Boston College. Last season he had a career-high 51 tackles, including a team-high nine sacks and a team-high tying 12 for losses. Named Big East Defensive Player of the Week after a 12-tackle performance vs. Rutgers in 2000. Started in six games, plus the Insight.com Bowl, as a sophomore and saw action in six games as a redshirt freshman in 1998. Sean is an intense, competitive player who flashes as a pass rusher. Has long arms. Lacks ideal athleticism, but has some quickness to his game. Needs to play with better leverage and technique. Interesting developmental type.
DE Nick Myers, Michigan State University, 6-3, 270lbs, 4.94: In his four-year career with the Spartans, Myers accumulated 134 tackles with eight sacks. In 2001, Myers posted 53 tackles and finished third on the team in tackles for losses with 11.
DT Matt Mitrione, University of Purdue, 6-2, 295lbs, 5.10: Mitrione was a four-year starter at Purdue who finished fifth on the school’s career list with 50 tackles for losses. In 2001, he was a first team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and a second team pick by the media. Mitrione tied for second on team and tied for eighth in Big Ten with 14 tackles for loss. He finished the season with 40 tackles (27 solo,) and four sacks. His string of 35 consecutive starts was snapped in the season opener at Cincinnati while he recovered from a foot injury. Mitrone lacks ideal size and athleticism, but he is a tough, physical, instinctive player who works very hard. Has decent initial quickness.
DT Rachman Crable, Ball State University, 6-3, 282lbs: Crable posted 56 tackles, including a team-high 13 for losses, and had three sacks and fumble recovery last season for Ball State.
DT Brad Harris, Pittsburgh State, 6-3, 285lbs: Harris started all 25 games on the defensive line the last two seasons at Pittsburg State after transferring Itawamba Community College. He was a first-team All-Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association selection after recording 34 tackles (22 solo) with 15 tackles for losses and an MIAA-leading seven sacks.
WLB Brad Rice, University of Idaho, 6-1, 231lbs: Rice arrived at Idaho as a quarterback, redshirted a year, spent three seasons in the secondary, then switched to linebacker as a senior. He led the Vandals with 106 tackles, 39 more than the runnerup. Rice also three of the team’s four interceptions, as well as two fumble recoveries and three tackles for losses.
SLB Josh Hotchkiss, Western State College, 6-1, 244lbs, 4.75: Hotchkiss is the all-time leading tackler at Western State and a two-time Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year. In four seasons, Hotchkiss accumulated 504 total tackles, including 221 unassisted tackles, 67 tackles for losses and 21 sacks. Last year, he had 128 total tackles, 54 unassisted tackle, 21 tackles for losses and 5.5 sacks. Hotchkiss was selected to the Cactus Bowl, the Division II All-Star Game, and was an AP Little All-America first-team selection. Hotchkiss lacks ideal height, but he has good bulk and excellent intangibles. He was the leader of his college defense and an instinctive, play-maker. Sheds well against the run. Not a top athlete and struggles some in coverage.
CB Calvin Coleman, University of Montana, 5-10, 181lbs, 4.60: Coleman is an inexperienced player with interesting tools. Calvin was a two-time All-Big Sky first-team selection at cornerback. He was a three-year starter at right cornerback for the Grizzlies, who were 45-10 (including playoff games) during that span and won the 2001 Division 1-AA national championship with a 15-1 record. Coleman missed two games, but finished with 62 total tackles. He had 14 tackles, eight pass deflections and an interception in Montana’s four playoff games. Coleman lacks ideal height but is a good athlete who is improving as a cornerback. Plays faster than he times, but needs to further develop a feel for pass coverage.
CB Tony Badger, University of West Alabama, 5-10, 170lbs, 4.54: Badger appeared in 42 games for West Alabama and completed his career with 133 tackles, four interceptions, 24 passes defensed and one sack. A part-time punt returner his first three seasons, he averaged 7.9 yards and scored one touchdown on 21 returns. As a senior in 2001, Badger started all 11 games and recorded 33 tackles, two interceptions and nine pass breakups. He scored a touchdown on a 79-yard interception against West Georgia.
CB Kendrick Llorens, Northwestern State University, 5-11, 172lbs, 4.61: Llorens accumulated 108 tackles, 8 interceptions, and 23 pass break-ups in his four-year career at Northwestern State University. In his senior season, he registered 36 tackles, 2 interceptions and 10 pass break-ups. One of Llorens’ two interceptions during the 2001 season was returned 41 yards for a touchdown in 47-14 win over Nicholls State.
SS Nate Coggins, State University of West Georgia, 6-0, 202lbs, 4.65: Coggins set West Georgia career records for most career solo tackles (253), total tackles (416), fumble recoveries (9), and consecutive games started (45). Also had nine career interceptions. He was the 2001 Gulf South Conference Defensive Player of the Year, a 2001 Consensus Division II All-America and 2001 All-South and All-GSC First Team selection. As a sophomore, he was the first West Georgia underclassman to be named captain since 1989. Coggins is a very aggressive player who plays the run well and excels on special teams. However, he lacks ideal athleticism and speed.
FS Ryan Clark, Louisiana State University, 5-11, 192lbs, 4.70: Clark started 36 consecutive games at free safety for LSU. In 2000, he was selected to the All-SEC second team by the league’s coaches. Ranked third on the Tigers in 2001 with 88 tackles, including 63 solo. Also intercepted three passes. Recorded five tackles, including a 13-yard sack, in the Sugar Bowl. Was LSU’s Special Teams Player of the Year in 1998. Ryan lacks ideal speed, but he is a very instinctive player who makes a lot of plays against the pass. Plays faster than his timed speed and bigger than his listed size. A bit stiff and he needs to tackle better.
S Tad Golden, University of Tennessee, 6-1, 190lbs: Golden was one of Tennessee’s six captains last season, despite not starting a game. An outstanding special teams player, he finished the 2001 season with 11 special teams tackles, including nine solos. Golden had three special teams tackles against Syracuse. On defense, Golden had 16 tackles, including 12 unassisted. As a junior in 2000, he started at strong safety against Florida and LSU. Golden had five tackles and blocked a field goal against LSU.