Apr 292003
 
Q&A: Wide Receiver/Returner Phil McConkey

BigBlue’56: How HUGE was the special Team’s upgrade this year in terms of greatly aiding our Defensive and Offensive field positions? The bigger question and probably the only question I have is this: Will this type of upgrade help to “mask” some of the Defensive deficiencies we might encounter during the course of the season?

McConkey: Special teams killed the Giants last year and who knows how far they could have gone with good special teams play. They tried to improve that with the draft, now we just have to wait and see if they improve.

BW in DC: How have the magnificent teachings of the game’s greatest living coach – King Parcells – had an impact on your non-football life?

McConkey: Bill Parcells’ greatness is he refuses to accept excuses. Excuses are simple barriers for some, and for others who don’t accept them but will work harder to avoid having to make them. And that works in all walks of life.

HopeJ: Was the adjustment post-football difficult? what advice to the current Giants do you have to help them prepare for life AFTER professional football?

McConkey: Life after football and the transition was not tough for me. It was tough before as a navy pilot. The advice I give to current Giants is take advantage of life in the New York area. Meet people and be nice to them. You never know what and who will impact your life.

RiffRaff: During your memorable career with the Giants, you were an emotional leader. I remember you getting nailed during a punt or kick return and jumping up yelling and screaming as if it didn’t hurt you. How did you get up for the games? What inspired that energetic enthusiasm during the game? Was that manic energy difficult to turn off after the game was over?

McConkey: Sure those hits hurt. I was seeing stars after a lot of those hits. As a little man I can’t let anyone know that they hurt me. The reverse intimidation process is what worked for me. I was 164 lbs and that’s all I know. People use to meet me off the field and they would ask what’s the matter. Fans think that I am like that all the time but I’m not, just on the field.

c_dude: Who do you feel was the most underrated player (offense or defense) you have played with who deserved more credit than they received?

McConkey: Pete Shaw.

Tony T: Who was the toughest player that you played against, and is there anyone playing today that reminds you of him?

McConkey: I’m not sure who the toughest player was I played against but the toughest player I ever played with was Pete Shaw, who was a strong safety who came over to us from San Diego. He was shorter than me and would be blocking on punt returns and kickoffs against players twice his size and laying them out. Then he would get up and make another block and then another if there was anyone left standing. Although, I should mention that no one hits harder than when you are running in the streets playing football in Buffalo, New York and you get hit by a parked Buick.

throwback51: Can you tell us about your Navy “landing” days, since he landed choppers on aircraft carriers in the early 80’s?

McConkey: There are some similarities between football and my navy days. You get pumped up when you are preparing for an important game or mission, but the biggest difference is when you screw up in football, you are likely to get a second chance. In the navy, if you screw up, you are dead.

Apr 162003
 
New York Giants 2003 NFL Draft Preview

Introduction: This will be an interesting draft to watch because the of the dramatic transformation of the Giants’ personnel department that continued after last year’s draft. With little fanfare, General Manager Ernie Accorsi has re-vamped that entire department. It will be Jerry Reese’s first draft as the Giants’ director of player personnel, a position that carries just about as much weight as Accorsi and Head Coach Jim Fassel in the Draft Room. Reese took over for Marv Sunderland after last year’s draft and is considered one of the rising stars in terms of talent evaluation around the league.

It will also be Kevin Abrams first draft as the Giants’ new assistant general manager. Over the course of the past few years, the Giants have quietly transformed their scouting staff. They have added scouts Joe Collins (2002), Steve Devine (2001), Donnie Etheridge (2001), Ryan Jones (2000), and Steve Malin (2001). That’s a lot of turnover. These five scouts join long-timers such Rosie Brown, Jeremiah Davis, and Steve Verderosa. Jerry Shay has remained the Giants’ Director of College Scouting since 1977.

Before I start with my preview of college prospects, please keep a few things in mind: I don’t watch a lot of college football. Between the time spent my real job in international trade, the time spent keeping BigBlueInteractive.com updated, and the time spent with my family and friends, I simply don’t have the time. I catch a game here or there, but not enough to form an accurate overall position of my own. Instead, I rely on my own interpretation of scouting reports prepared by Ourlads, Pro Football Weekly, and DraftInsiders.com. I take the info from these scouting reports and develop my own “draft board” – which is what you see below. This draft board reflects my own subjective biases, and because it relies on information from draft guides, it is in no way a comprehensive listing of the best players available. Instead, it should be considered more of a listing of “Eric’s favorites”. The Giants will draft and sign as rookie free agents a lot of players not listed below. That does not mean they have drafted/signed poorly. Only the test of time will tell that. I like to think that I’ve made some good predictions on who will be good or bad, but I’ve also made some awful mistakes. After the draft, I will provide a more detailed overview of everyone the Giants have drafted and signed as rookie free agents.

Defensive End: In my opinion, the Giants need to come out of this draft with a stud weakside defensive end. This guy will back-up and rotate with Kenny Holmes and eventually replace him as early as next season as the new starter. This player must be a top pass rusher. It wouldn’t hurt to find a developmental prospect for the strongside either. The good news for the Giants is that there are some really good defensive ends in this draft.

  • Terrell Suggs, Arizona State, 6-4, 260lbs, 4.75
  • Michael Haynes, Penn State, 6-4, 280lbs, 4.88
  • Jerome McDougle, Miami, 6-2, 265lbs, 4.70
  • Chris Kelsay, Nebraska, 6-4, 273lbs, 4.73
  • Kenny Peterson, Ohio State, 6-3, 295lbs, 4.80
  • Dewayne White, Louisville, 6-2, 273lbs, 4.73
  • Cory Redding, Texas, 6-4, 280lbs, 4.88
  • Antwan Peek, Cincinnati, 6-3, 247lbs, 4.63
  • Alonzo Jackson, Florida State, 6-4, 265lbs, 4.85
  • Calvin Pace, Wake Forest, 6-4, 270lbs, 4.75
  • Jamaal Green, Miami, 6-2, 270lbs, 4.75
  • Andrew Williams, Miami, 6-2, 262lbs, 4.64

Terrell Suggs is still expected to go high in the first round despite a simply awful personal workout for scouts after the Combine. Strictly a weakside end, he’s an explosive pass rusher who needs to improve his play against the run. A 20-year old junior, he plays with outstanding quickness and plays faster than he times. Michael Haynes combines fine size and athleticism. Can play both left and right end. Very quick, but he needs to get stronger. Good pass rusher who picked up 15 sacks last season. Jerome McDougle lacks ideal height, but he is a quality weakside pass rushing end. Very athletic and quick. Plays with good leverage. Not bad against the run. Chris Kelsay was a team captain for Nebraska. Tough and intense. Combines good size and athleticism. Not a top outside rusher, but he has a good combination of speed, quickness, and power. Kenny Peterson has experience at both end and tackle. Has excellent size and is a fine athlete. Quick, intense, and strong. Flashes big-time talent, but a bit inconsistent. More of a power pass rusher, but his explosive initial quickness gives opposing linemen problems. Dewayne White is a junior who accrued 10.5 sacks last year despite playing with a high ankle sprain. Lacks ideal height, but his a very good athlete with excellent quickness and fine strength. Better pass rusher than run defender…needs to play with better leverage and overall technique. Needs to work harder, but has very good potential as he has just scratched the surface of his potential. Cory Redding is a very tough and intense player. Played on the strongside in college. Quick and strong. Lacks ideal speed and athleticism – not a top edge rusher. Antwan Peek lacks size and some teams see him as a prospect at linebacker. Hardworking, tough, and competitive. Very good athlete who can rush the passer due to his natural quickness and explosiveness. Strictly a weakside end who would have to start off as a situational pass rusher. Alonzo Jackson is an improving edge pass rusher who needs to get a lot stronger and play the run better. His combination of athleticism, quickness, and long arms aids on the pass rush. Calvin Pace has a nice combination of size, quickness, and power. Has long arms and plays with leverage. Not really an edge rusher, but he is a decent pass rusher who fights hard and works well to the inside. Has a burst. Physical and a decent run defender. Team leader. Jamal Green and Andrew Williams platooned at right defensive end for Miami. These are two guys to look at in latter rounds as they have that University of Miami swagger. Both lack ideal height. Green is a good edge rusher with fine initial quickness. Athletic and has long arms – the latter helping to compensate for his lack of height. Needs to improve his run defense. Williams is agile and athletic. Plays with good leverage. Makes plays, but somewhat inconsistent. Has an upside as a pass rusher.

Defensive Tackle: This is also a good year for defensive tackles. That’s good because the Giants need one, perhaps two. I suspect that the Giants will draft an end and a tackle in the first three rounds. Again, a premium will be placed on those who can rush the passer…but the ability to defend the run is also important for a tackle.

  • Jimmy Kennedy, Penn State, 6-4, 320lbs, 5.10
  • Dewayne Robertson, Kentucky, 6-2, 315lbs, 5.10
  • Kevin Williams, Oklahoma State, 6-5, 305lbs, 4.82
  • William Joseph, Miami, 6-5, 308lbs, 5.02
  • Ty Warren, Texas A&M, 6-5, 305lbs, 5.15
  • Johnathan Sullivan, Georgia, 6-3, 313lbs, 5.03
  • Rien Long, Washington State, 6-6, 300lbs, 5.05
  • Nick Eason, Clemson, 6-3, 300lbs, 5.11
  • Jarret Johnson, Alabama, 6-3, 285lbs, 5.06

Forget Jimmy Kennedy and Dewayne Robertson – they will be long gone by the time the Giants pick, even if the Giants trade up. Kevin Williams is tall with long arms. Athletic with good quickness and speed for a tackle. Penetrates and make plays. Needs to play with better leverage and improve his strength, but he is a solid run defender. Good pass rusher with a fine combination of quickness and power. Williams Joseph combines good size and athleticism. Quick, powerful, and instinctive. Has long arms. Can dominate, but needs to play with greater consistency and effort. Ty Warren played a 3-4 end in college, but projects to a 4-3 tackle. Has good height and long arms. Athletic, quick, and powerful. A bit inconsistent, but flashes big-time potential. Good run defender, improving pass rusher. Johnathan Sullivan is another player who combines good size with athleticism. A junior. Strong, quick, and instinctive. Plays hard and flashes big-time ability. Good run defender and improving pass rusher. Rien Long is a tall, athletic tackle with very good quickness. Tough and competitive. Needs to add strength and bulk. Plays too tall at times. Needs to play with better leverage, shed better, and develop more moves. Flashes as a pass rusher with a fine power/quickness combination. Nick Eason has a decent combination of size and athleticism. Strong and competitive. Above average run defender and pass rusher who needs to play with better leverage, shed better, and keep driving when his first move doesn’t work. Jarret Johnson lacks size, but he is a quick, athletic tackle who is tough, competitive, and instinctive. Plays hard. Can be disruptive with his ability to penetrate quickly, but he can also get mauled at times due to his lack of size. Needs to add strength. Above average pass rusher with some moves and a decent closing burst.

Outside Linebacker: Unless the Giants have a chance to draft someone clearly better than what they have, I don’t see them drafting a linebacker high. In the Giants’ 4-3 system, the linebackers don’t blitz much so more of a premium is placed on run defense and the ability to cover the pass. Accorsi wants guys who can run. This isn’t a very good year for outside linebackers.

  • Boss Bailey, Georgia, 6-3, 233lbs, 4.48
  • Eddie Moore, Tennessee, 6-0, 236lbs, 4.61
  • Nick Barnett, Oregon State, 6-2, 235lbs, 4.66
  • Angelo Crowell, Virginia, 6-0, 235lbs, 4.72

Boss Bailey is a super-athlete with a somewhat worrisome injury background…has torn the anterior cruciate ligament in both knees. Weakside prospect. Very fast and quick…makes plays sideline-to-sideline because of his great range. Stands out in pass coverage and is a good blitzer. Not as strong against the run where he needs to shed blocks better and tackle in a more consistent manner. Needs to get stronger, but has a big upside if can become more aggressive against the run. Eddie Moore lacks size, but he’s a very good athlete who can run. Played on the strongside in college, but probably projects to the weakside in the pros given his stature. Quick, active linebacker who makes plays against the run and the pass. Instinctive and competitive. Excellent special teams player. Nick Barnett is a former safety who was moved to linebacker. Strictly a weakside prospect. Lacks ideal size, but he is strong, athletic player who excels in pass coverage. Quick and fast. Hardworking, tough, and intense. Needs to improve his play against the run…needs to shed better. Good blitzer and special teams player. Angelo Crowell played inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense but projects outside in a 4-3 defense. Lacks ideal size and speed, but Crowell plays bigger and faster than his measurables. He is a tough, competitive, instinctive, hardworking player. Good athlete with fine quickness. Makes plays against both the run and the pass. Good blitzer. Needs to improve in pass coverage.

Middle Linebacker: There are three middle linebackers who really interest me. The Giants could draft someone to eventually compete with Nick Greisen for Mike Barrow’s spot in a year or two, but the odds are their defensive line needs will supercede any interest here unless someone slips.

  • E.J. Henderson, Maryland, 6-1, 245lbs, 4.85
  • Terry Pierce, Kansas State, 6-2, 251lbs, 4.79
  • Gerald Hayes, Pittsburgh, 6-1, 236lbs, 4.75

E.J. Henderson lacks ideal speed, but he is a big, tough, aggressive, physical, instinctive linebacker who makes plays. An athlete who plays faster than he times. Relentless, powerful, and strong. Can stuff the run and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. Good hitter and tackler. Decent in coverage and can blitz. Terry Pierce is another big, strong linebacker who lacks ideal speed. Physical and instinctive. Stuffs the inside running game with authority. Good hitter and tackler. Can blitz, but needs work in coverage. Gerald Hayes lacks ideal size, but he is a hardworking, tough, physical, intense, instinctive player who can run and hit. A defensive leader. Strong for his size and agile. Needs to disengage better in a more consistent fashion – better chasing and working through traffic than taking on big blocks (similar to Mike Barrow). Can blitz, but needs to improve in coverage. Good special teams player.

Cornerback: Depending on how sound the Giants feel about Kato Serwanga, Ralph Brown, and Ray Green, the Giants could take a corner fairly high or wait. It will be interesting to see what they do.

  • Terence Newman, Kansas State, 5-11, 185lbs, 4.38
  • Marcus Trufant, Washington State, 5-11, 195lbs, 4.41
  • Julian Battle, Tennessee, 6-2, 205lbs, 4.52
  • Eugene Wilson, Illinois, 5-11, 191lbs, 4.44
  • Andre Woolfolk, Oklahoma, 6-2, 196lbs, 4.45
  • Kevin Garrett, SMU, 5-10, 194lbs, 4.30
  • Sammy Davis, Texas A&M, 6-0, 185lbs, 4.45
  • DeJuan Groce, Nebraska, 5-10, 192lbs, 4.51

Terence Newman and Marcus Trufant will be long gone by the time the Giants pick. Julian Battle is a tall corner who also has experience at safety. Athletic with quick feet and decent speed. Fluid. Matches up well with big receivers. Does well in man and zone coverage. Needs to tackle better and work harder off the field. Eugene Wilson combines decent size with very good athleticism. Competitive and physical. Good man-to-man coverage corner. Makes plays on the ball. Good tackler, but needs to work harder off the field. Andre Woolfolk is a raw corner who needs a lot of technique work, but he has a ton of tools to work with. Combines excellent size with superb athleticism. Quick and agile. Somewhat inconsistent in coverage, but flashes great ability. Needs to add strength and become more aggressive in run defense. Kevin Garrett lacks ideal height, but he is a very fast, athletic corner with excellent quickness. Smart and confident. Flashes excellent ability in coverage but needs to work on his technique and a better feel for pass defense. Better in man coverage than zone. Needs to get stronger and become a more physical run defender. Sammy Davis is a good athlete. Has good strength for his size. Smart and instinctive. Makes plays on the ball. Solid, but not special in coverage. Better in zone coverage than man-to-man. Good tackler but could be more physical in run defense. DeJuan Groce lacks ideal size and speed, but he is a fluid athlete who makes plays. Quick and agile. Physical in press coverage and reacts well in zone coverage. Decent in run support. His lack of great speed is his biggest negative.

Safety: Ideally the Giants want to find a free safety to groom behind Omar Stoutmire. Giants could use another body to compete at back-up strong safety, but it is more likely the Giants will use a late round pick for such a purpose. My focus here will be on the free safeties.

  • Bryan Scott, Penn State, 6-1, 219lbs, 4.58
  • Colin Branch, Stanford, 6-0, 203lbs, 4.40
  • Todd Johnson, Florida, 6-1, 205lbs, 4.58
  • Derek Pagel, Iowa, 6-1, 208lbs, 4.52

Bryan Scott played corner in college but projects to safety in the pros. Has good size and good athleticism for a safety. Hardworking, smart, competitive, tough, and physical. Lacks great closing speed, but shows good reactions in zone coverage and can play some press coverage. Colin Branch lacks ideal size, but he is an athletic player with very good speed. Has good strength for his size. A little stiff, but he is quick and fluid for a safety. Can play man-to-man. Smart. Needs to become a more physical and consistent tackler. Todd Johnson combines decent size with athleticism. Smart and instinctive. Lacks ideal speed, but has decent range. Better in zone coverage than man. Needs to improve his consistency in run support. Good special teams player. Derek Pagel has decent size and is an instinctive, hardworking, smart player. Strong. Much better in zone coverage than man. Decent athlete, but a bit stiff in coverage. Decent run defender and good special teams player.

Offensive Tackle: With Luke Petitgout entrenched at left tackle and now being paid left tackle money, don’t look for the Giants to draft a left tackle high…especially with Jeff Hatch supposedly recovering well. The focus will be on finding more competition at right tackle. Because of this, I won’t list the prominent left tackles below. Keep in mind that the Giants have shown a tendency the last couple of years to rely on little-known offensive line prospects. Sometimes this has worked out (i.e., Chris Bober, Rich Seubert, Jason Whittle) and other times it has not (Ryan Deterding, Terence Wagner). The jury is still out on others (Omar Smith, Sean O’Connor, Vincent Sandoval, Pat Crummey). Offensive Line Coach Jim McNally likes smart players with good athleticism. It will be interesting to see how much of a tradeoff between power and athleticism the Giants are willing to make in their next right tackle.

  • Kwame Harris, Stanford, 6-7, 310lbs, 5.20
  • George Foster, Georgia, 6-6, 336lbs, 5.26
  • Derrick Dockery, Texas, 6-6, 346lbs, 5.50
  • Tony Pashos, Illinois, 6-6, 338lbs, 5.23
  • Will Ofenheusle, Tennessee, 6-7, 309lbs, 5.36

If the Giants draft an offensive linemen in the first round, it is likely to be Kwame Harris. He’s a tall, athletic tackle with the frame to add a lot more weight. A junior, only 20 years old with a big upside. Played right tackle at Stanford, but has the tools to play on the left side as well. Has long arms and plays with leverage. Mobile and agile. Can pull and block at the second level. Needs to add strength and bulk and become a more physical run blocker. Very good pass blocker. Smart. George Foster is a huge, athletic tackle who was hampered last season with a big cast due to a dislocated right wrist suffered in a car accident. Raw, but has a big upside. Needs a lot of technique work. Has long arms and quick feet which add him in pass protection. May be able to play left tackle due to his athleticism. Creates movement as a run blocker…powerful. Can pull and block on the second level. Needs to become a more dedicated worker and play harder all of the time. Derrick Dockery is a huge right tackle who protected Chris Simms’ blindside in college. Huge and strong…can maul people in the running game. Needs to become more consistently explosive and sustain his run blocks better. Not that mobile, but he can get out and block people at the second level. Stout pass protector…can’t be bull-rushed. Needs to use his hands better in pass protection. Tony Pashos is a huge right tackle who lacks ideal athleticism. Good run blocker who can create movement. Sustains well. Competitive and plays with a nasty attitude. Can block on the second level, but he is not agile when pulling. On the stiff side. Can handle the bull rush, but outside speed sometimes cause him problems in pass protection. Will Ofenheusle is another big right tackle who lacks ideal athleticism. Hardworking, smart, and a leader. Can create movement in the running game and plays with some nastiness. Works to sustain his blocks. Not real good at blocking on the second level or pulling. Has long arms which add him in pass protection, but he lacks quick feet. Can handle the bull rush, but outside speed can cause him some problems.

Offensive Guard: Rich Seubert is set on the left side of the line, but there are questions at right guard where the likes of Tam Hopkins and Barrett Brooks will compete for the starting job with Jason Whittle now in Tampa Bay.

  • Eric Steinbach, Iowa, 6-6, 296lbs, 4.94
  • Torrin Tucker, Southern Mississippi, 6-6, 328lbs, 5.35
  • Taylor Whitley, Texas A&M, 6-4, 320lbs, 5.20
  • Montrae Holland, Florida State, 6-2, 332lbs, 5.26
  • Scott Tercero, California, 6-4, 302lbs, 5.23
  • Marico Portis, Alabama, 6-2, 315lbs, 5.36

Eric Steinbach is considered the clear cut best guard in the draft…could possibly be a factor at right tackle. Lacks long arms and that’s why he may be best suited inside. Tall player with excellent athleticism for his size. Not a blaster as a run blocker, but he does a good job of getting into his man quickly and sealing him off. Works to sustain. Mobile player who is a very good blocker at the second level, when pulling, and on screens. Good pass protector. Needs to get stronger. Torrin Tucker is a huge guard with decent athleticism for his size. Tough and physical player who gets movement in his run blocks. Has some nastiness in his game. Can pull and get out on the second level. Has long arms and anchors well in pass protection, but can sometimes have problems with lateral quickness. Somewhat inconsistent, but has a big upside. Taylor Whitley is a big, strong guard with decent athleticism. Smart. Not an explosive blocker at the point-of-attack, but he works hard to create movement. A little stiff, but he can block at the second level and pull. Solid pass blocker, has some trouble with quickness. Montrae Holland’s lack of height is a big disconcerting, but he is a good football player. Short, but bulky, power player with good athleticism. Very good run blocker at the point-of-attack. Can pull and block at the second level. Decent pass blocker who sometimes has problems with lateral quickness. Needs to improve his technique and work better to sustain his blocks. Scott Tercero has good height and the frame to carry a lot more weight. Good athlete who plays with leverage. Smart and plays hard. Needs to add strength and bulk. Doesn’t get a lot of movement at the point-of-attack and can be bull rushed. Good blocking at the second level and when pulling. Can handle quickness in pass protection. Promising prospect if he can add strength. Marico Portis is another short guard who has good bulk and strength. Hardworking, intense, and has a little nastiness in him. Good run blocker at the point-of-attack. Good athlete who can block at the second level and pull. Needs work in pass protection, but he has good feet.

Center: It looks like the Giants want Chris Bober to be their long-term pivot man, but what if Bober gets hurt? Jason Whittle was the back-up center last season and now he’s gone. Dusty Zeigler is expected to be cut. The Giants need more competition for Omar Smith just in case he doesn’t work out. There are a few interesting centers and then, as usual, a bunch of blue collar, lunch pail-types who lack ideal size, power, and athleticism. These kind of guys you can usually draft late or sign as rookie free agents. Also, keep in mind that the Giants have a history of converting guards to center. Don’t expect the Giants to use a premium pick for a back-up player. That’s why I don’t see them drafting top prospects such as Jeff Faine of Notre Dame, Al Johnson of Wisconsin, Vince Manuwai of Hawaii (guard projected to center), or Bruce Nelson of Iowa. Of course, one of these players could slip, and if the Giants do draft one of these prospects, I’ll give you the scoop in my draft review. I think it is more likely we’ll see one of those guard conversions or a guy like Brett Romberg of Miami drafted late. He’s one of those scrappy, blue collar-types who has problems with big tackles right over his head and doesn’t get much movement in his run blocks, but works out well otherwise. There are a few guys like that in this draft such as Dan Koppen of Boston College, Wayne Lucier of Colorado, and Austin King of Northwestern.

Tight End: The need here is to find a solid blocking tight end who will replace Dan Campbell on the roster. Thus, I won’t focus much on the receiving-types unless they can block too.

  • Jason Witten, Tennessee, 6-6, 265lbs, 4.72
  • Bennie Joppru, Michigan, 6-4, 271lbs, 4.82
  • Robert Johnson, Auburn, 6-6, 276lbs, 4.91
  • Mike Seidman, UCLA, 6-5, 263lbs, 4.86
  • Aaron Golliday, Nebraska, 6-4, 286lbs, 5.05
  • James Hugo, Arizona, 6-5, 265lbs, 4.90

Jason Witten is a solid, but unspectacular two-way tight end who can catch and block. Junior who is only 20 years old. Strong and athletic. Not real fast, but he has good hands and is a good receiver for a big tight end. Good blocker who can create movement. A little stiff in space and needs to sustain his blocks better. Bennie Joppru is a big tight end who lacks speed, but he’s a good athlete and receiver for his size. Fluid. Has excellent hands. Decent, but not great blocker. Needs to get stronger in order to create more movement. Blocks well in space. Smart, but needs to play a more physical game as an in-line blocker. Robert Johnson is a big tight end who has the size and long arms to develop into a good blocker. Junior. Needs to get stronger in order to become a more effective in-line blocker. Needs a lot of technique work. Decent underneath receiver for his size. Uses his size and can catch. Flashes some run-after-the-catch ability. Mike Seidman is a solid, but unspectacular two-way tight end. Tough, competitive, and hardworking. Better blocking in space than in-line…more of a position blocker who blocks well at the second level. Not an overly athletic player. Can adjust to the ball and catch, but lacks quickness and speed. Can run after the catch. Aaron Golliday and James Hugo are both latter round blocking tight ends who aren’t real threats as receivers. Golliday was rarely used as a receiver at Nebraska. He’s a big, blocking tight end that resembles an offensive lineman. Can handle a defensive end and get out on a linebacker. Decent athlete for his size with some potential as a receiver. However, he is slow and very raw as a receiver. Hugo is a very good in-line blocker who can also get out on linebackers. Works hard to sustain his blocks and can handle some defensive ends. Lacks speed and has so-so hands for the passing attack.

Wide Receiver: It’s pretty apparent that if the Giants do go after a wide receiver, they are principally interested in speed guys. The Giants are pretty set at this position with Amani Toomer, Ike Hilliard, Ron Dixon, and Tim Carter. However, they could always add another flier.

  • Andre Johnson, Miami, 6-2, 230lbs, 4.35
  • Charles Rogers, Michigan State, 6-3, 202lbs, 4.40
  • Kelley Washington, Tennessee, 6-3, 223lbs, 4.45
  • Taylor Jacobs, Florida, 6-0, 205lbs, 4.42
  • Kevin Curtis, Utah State, 5-11, 187lbs, 4.44
  • Shaun McDonald, Arizona State, 5-9, 170lbs, 4.45

Andre Johnson and Charles Rogers will be long gone by the time the Giants pick. Kelley Washington has great tools to work with – he’s big, fast, and quick. However, he suffered a serious neck injury last season that needs to be checked out. Has been somewhat injury-prone. Junior. Raw around the edges, he needs a lot of technique work as a route runner. Can beat press coverage and his size and speed combination presents a lot of problems for defensive backs. Gets deep and will run over the middle. Has a huge upside if he checks out medically. Taylor Jacobs combines decent size with good speed and quickness. Smart and competitive. Can get deep. Runs good routes. Adjusts well to the ball and has good hands. Runs well after the catch. Kevin Curtis lacks ideal size, but he is an athletic player with good speed and quickness. Intelligent. Quick off the line and runs good routes. Gets open, adjusts well to the ball, and can catch. Can get deep and will go over the middle. Has some problems with press coverage. Shaun McDonald is a very small receiver, but he is an athlete who makes plays both as a receiver and special teams player. Tough for his size and a leader. Very quick and agile. Has a deep burst. Runs good routes and has good hands. Runs well after the catch. Size limits him against press coverage and as a blocker. Excellent returner.

Fullbacks: Veteran free agent Jim Finn will compete with Charles Stackhouse. I could see the Giants adding one more player to the competition with a latter draft pick or rookie free agent signing. The Giants will only look at fullbacks who can block and catch. Running the football is not important in their system.

  • Ovie Mughelli, Wake Forest, 6-1, 255lbs, 4.75
  • Casey Moore, Stanford, 6-2, 240lbs, 4.64
  • J.P. Comella, Boston College, 6-0, 240lbs, 4.92

Ovie Mughelli is big, physical fullback who is a good lead blocker. Can adjust and creates movement in his blocks. Does well picking up the blitz too. So-so hands as a receiver.
Casey Moore is a good blocker, but he needs to be more consistent. Gets into position, but he needs to sustain better. Picks up the blitz well. Smart and unselfish. Good receiver and a decent runner. Tough to bring down. J.P. Comella is the younger brother of former Giant Greg Comella. Decent blocker and receiver. Less athletic than Greg, but probably a more physical blocker.

Halfback: Pretty much depends on what they want to do with Dayne. At most, the Giants can carry four halfbacks. Tiki Barber, Dorsey Levens, and Brian Mitchell are locks. Does Dayne get traded (not much of a market) or released? Or do the Giants keep him as cheap insurance in case Barber gets hurt? It’s not a great draft for running backs so it’s pretty sad if they can find no takers for Dayne.

  • Willis McGahee, Miami, 6-1, 223lbs, 4.45
  • Lee Suggs, Virginia Tech, 6-0, 202lbs, 4.51
  • Justin Fargas, USC, 6-1, 219lbs, 4.38
  • Musa Smith, Georgia, 6-1, 232lbs, 4.55
  • Artose Pinner, Kentucky, 5-10, 229lbs, 4.60
  • Quentin Griffin, Oklahoma, 5-7, 195lbs, 4.45

Willis McGahee is a gamble-on-greatness type-of-pick. 3rd year sophomore. He was a sure-fire very high number one pick before tearing multiple ligaments in his left knee in January during the Championship Game. Before his injury, he was a big-time back who could beat you with speed or power. Instinctive with good vision and patience. Good moves. Hardworking. Good receiver, but needs to improve his blitz pick-ups. Said to be recovering well from the injury, but the big questions are (1) can he or should he contribute in 2003? and (2) will he be close to the same back after the knee injury? If he somehow lasted until the Giants’ second round pick, it would be tough to pass on him. Lee Suggs is another player with a serious knee injury in his background. Tore his left anterior ligament and medial meniscus during the 2001 season. Came back to play last season and was very effective, rushing for 1,255 yards on 238 carries and scoring 20 touchdowns. Hardworking athlete with fine speed and quickness. Instintive and has good vision and patience. Runs with good pad level. Good short-yardage and goalline runner. Aggressive. Breaks tackles. Better inside runner than outside guy. Has good hands, but was used little in the passing game in college so he needs a lot of work there. Justin Fargas is yet another back with some injury concerns (broke his right leg in 1998 and required four subsequent surgeries because of it). Superb combination of size and athleticism. Great speed for a halfback and quick. Strong, but not an overly tough runner. Has good vision and moves. Can get outside. Runs hard, but he isn’t overly powerful. Decent receiver but needs to improve as a blocker. Musa Smith is a big back who does most of his damage between the tackles. Physical runner who breaks tackles. Not real elusive, but he is a patient runner with good vision. Good goalline and short-yardage back. Has good hands, but needs work as a blocker. Artose Pinner is a big, strong between-the-tackles back who runs with very good power. Breaks tackles. Has good vision. Not elusive and isn’t really a threat running outside as he is not overly fast. OK receiver who needs to improve his blocking. Needs to become a harder worker. Quentin Griffin lacks ideal size, but he is a very quick running back with excellent instincts, vision, and elusiveness. Has explosiveness. Thickly built for his height – has a low center of gravity which helps him as a runner. Can and will run hard between the tackles. Has a knack for scoring on the goalline, but he isn’t a powerful runner and won’t break a lot of tackles. Not as field fast as he times, but he is a good outside runner. Hardworking. Decent receiver and blocker.

Quarterback: With it pretty much written in stone that Kerry Collins, Jesse Palmer, and Jason Garrett will be the three quarterbacks on the roster in 2003, I simply can’t see the Giants drafting a quarterback. The only interesting ones will go high this year and the Giants simply aren’t going to draft a quarterback with their first or second round pick. Wait until next year for the quarterback to be selected.

Kickers: The Giants already have their punter (Jeff Feagels) and placekicker (Mike Hollis), but they may want to bring in a better kick-off man than Matt Bryant and Owen Pochman. Todd Sievers of Miami is a possibility as he has a very strong leg. Aspen Asparuhov of Fresno State is another kicker with good leg strength.


And the New York Giants Select…

1st Round – DT William Joseph, Miami: My gut tells me this pick will be a defensive tackle. The problem I have is picking which one. If it is Joseph, Accorsi will probably have to trade up to select him and the Giants may have to give up their 3rd round draft pick to do so. The other obvious choices are DT Kevin Williams (Oklahoma State), DT Johnathan Sullivan (Georgia), and DT Ty Warren (Texas A&M). Some teams love DT Rien Long (Washington State), some don’t. If the Giants draft a defensive end, look for a trade up for Michael Haynes (Penn State) or Jerome McDougle (Miami). The Giants could sit tight and look at Chris Kelsay (Nebraska), Kenny Peterson (Ohio State), or even Dewayne White (Louisville). All would help. My surprise pick? MLB E.J. Henderson…great football player.

2nd Round – DE Antwan Peek, Cincinnati: Got the tackle in round one, need the pass-rushing end in round two. If Peek were bigger, he’d be a sure-fire #1 pick. Undersized pass rusher who is a lot like Rosevelt Colvin. Might trade up here for Peek too using a 5th rounder and a 6th or 7th rounder.

3rd Round – None: Traded away in trade up for the defensive tackle.

4th Round – OG Torrin Tucker, Southern Mississippi: Just have a feeling that the offensive line will be addressed next, though the Giants could also look at corner or tight end here.

Apr 162003
 
April Soliloquy – 2003

by David Oliver

Winter has drawn to a close. Several circles in my life have finally come full. The War in Iraq is winding down. I am in withdrawal. For the past 20 something days I have been transfixed by the prelims, the actual beginning and waging of the battle and the wind down. I have watched television for 18 to 20 hours a day, but coming down to 15 to 18 this last week. I have listened to the analysts, watched the demonstrations and marveled at the bravery and competence of our 18 year olds, led by a cadre of officers of unbelievable presence and humanity.

Life drew to a narrow band, like looking through the lens of my camera, which I hadn’t touched in 3 months. My wife would just laugh and put up with my rising at 5AM and turning on the TV, to coming home from work at 5PM and finding me staring at the tube, to going to bed without me at 1AM, knowing that I could not leave; knowing that in my heart I wanted to be there; knowing in her heart that I was down there trying to hide the tears as each 18 or 19 year old met a faith that he shouldn’t have.

My reading slacked off to only a couple of books: Bernard Lewis, THE CRISIS OF ISLAM and Dore Gold HATRED’S KINGDOM. If you want a nice compact history of what we are up against, pick them up. As for Lewis, it is far and away his best yet. Gold has done a scholarly examination of the Whahabi strain of Islam – too factual at times, but the real deal if you want to know. If we had not reached this denouement this weekend, my taxes would not have been finished. I simply ceased to function during the 3 week period, except for my forays unto The Corner Forum which at least provided a little oil for the grist of thought. And, if this war hadn’t come to such a state, I would not have given any thought to football. But MIS’ fine work in The Corner Forum, along with bumping into Jessie Armstead last night in Wal-Mart have given me a little incentive. Before I turn to football, let me tell you about a couple of the circles.

Saturday, April 12, 2003 was a special day. My wife, who for most of her life has been totally apolitical, not even publicly expressing her position as a freedom of choice advocate, completed her journey from apolitical to radicalized. It has been in chrysalis since 09/11. She is not from NY; she is from NC. But on that day, and for many days thereafter, she cried – silently, alone upstairs in the bedroom. She started decorating everything with American flags, including her jewelry; her heart hardened towards Radical Islam; she turned on the Hollywood celebrities who protested; and she studied the issues. This is a woman whose skin is so fair that in the Nubian desert, women in their veils would come up and shyly ask if they could touch her skin, which is as pale as any they had ever seen. They could not believe a woman could be so fair, with blonde hair and blue eyes.

Well, on Saturday she said to me, “There is a Rally for the Troops down on the Mall. I want to go.” This is a woman who has never demonstrated, never marched, never really even vocalized a position. This is a woman who has no children in the military, no relatives in the military, no friends in the military. This is an American woman, who so believes in the American Dream that she has had our name put on the monument at the Statue of Liberty – many years ago – and who has been so hurt by what those scumbags did on that day in September, that she has awakened to the perfidy of tyranny, the pusillanimity of Europe, and the hypocrisy of the anti-everything Nihilism in America – that she went out to a public Rally, a Demonstration – for the first time in her life. She put on her “Oliver” designer sweatshirt, her red, white and blue earrings and she carried her flag down to the Mall. She cheered, she cried and she waved that flag with Pride. And I love her all the more for that day. Schnitzie, you asked what were the good reasons to get married – it is the journey, Schnitz – that feeling that you get time after time, year after year; that partnership that fills your heart – and you will know it when you first feel it – no other reason is good enough.

And, yes, yours truly went with her. It has been many, many years since I did anything of the sort. As a young Collegian, I was involved in the second major College “Demonstration.” – the silent Revolution that no one remembers. The first was Mario Savio and the Berkeley “F*** Demonstration – Free Speech by the unruly, the long haired, hippie revolt. There was another at Ohio State, over police harassment of the students in Columbus; mundane but loud. And then there was Seton Hall. A small, private Catholic School in South Orange, all male, jackets and ties, you know, the nerdy type; hell wearing a Perry Como sweater at the time was Collegiate. One afternoon, we erupted. The Dean of Men canceled an issue of the campus paper, for some unremembered infraction. But we, conservative to the core, were not about to have our ‘right of free speech’ abused. Some 700-800 students massed in front of the President’s home, eventually to run out onto South Orange Ave. and block traffic, fighting off the Police. Yours truly made the front page of the STAR LEDGER, a photo seen ‘round the world’ – standing on the steps of the President’s Building, arms outstretched, in the words of the caption, “Trying to calm the angry mob.” The Dean of Men had slipped out the back door and the students, in his honor, had removed their neckties. His name was Father Lynch, so the chant went, with neckties in knots held up “lynch, Lynch”. Oh, yeah, we were bad boys. (grin). I was among the top 5 on the expulsion list, but we worked it out. We shocked everyone so bad; it led to many, many changes.

From that time to Saturday I had not participated in any Demonstration, rally or gathering, except for photographing the Million Man March. So we were on the Mall, along with G. Gordon Liddy, Bill Kristol, Ron Silver, Nancy Chavez, the Senator, Aaron Tippett and other patriotic country singers, and thousands of men women and children; average Americans, many families of serving GIs, many veterans of Viet Nam, Korea, WW2 and Gulf 1. There were thousands of flags, American flags, Marine Flags, Airborne flags, POW-MIA flags. And when they waved, they waved with pride. There were “victory” salutes, a little fun-poking at the other Demonstrators, on the other side of the Mall, and absolute, still silence, well, except for the occasional sob heard during the roll call of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. I stood humbled as the names, and ages, were read. So many 18, 19 and 20; most in their 20s, a few older. The images of their faces ran through my mind; the images of my friends on the Wall at the opposite side of the Mall went through my mind. Images of me, and them, in ROTC, on a drill team, The Triphibian Guard, with our shoulder sashes and morning drills, polished shoes, hats and brass, like the unit in the Bill Murray movie STRIPES. We were 18 and 19 then. They didn’t get home. And I am left to give testimony to their heroism; left because I am probably the only man in America who enlisted in the Air Force, was drafted into the Army, requested a direct Commission into the Military from a President of the United States, with an assignment in Nam – and never served a day in uniform. No, I spent 27 years working for the Government, giving up every opportunity to make a great deal of money, giving up doing what I thought I might like to do, working with men who wore uniforms, in a variety of places, doing a variety of tasks and trying to ensure that never again would there be a need for a Wall with so many names.

On Saturday, surrounded by those waving flags, surrounded by people with whom I felt comfortable, I said to my wife, “I feel so comfortable here.” She laughed, as she usually does, when I make a statement like that, and her eyes had a twinkle, as she said, “You know, I was standing here thinking just that, that I have never been anywhere where everyone sounds just like David.” She never really believed that I could be part of a “thing”. These were military families, Young Republicans, the Young American Foundation, which if I am correct is the evolution of the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), which were a little too yappy for me in my youth. I was a Young Republican, and true, I was a Young Citizen for Goldwater, but I was more an ISI type than a YAF type. ISI had a singular distinction in the leftist tome DANGER ON THE RIGHT, as being truly people to watch out for because we had some intelligence. Through ISI, I met Ludwig von Mises, Fritz Wilhemsen, David Nelson Rowe and a whole group of both NATIONAL REVIEW contributors and ex-Communists who had found religion. Many of these people were from small Texas, private and Catholic schools like Trinity and St. Mary’s College; some were Ivy League sophisticates, some from California schools like Santa Clara. All were freedom lovers. So on Saturday, a circle was completed. From Student Demonstrator to Retired Citizen Demonstrator; strangely enough, the issues were the same and my positions were the same.

On Saturday, I remembered as a kid, visiting with my mother and father to a little town in Pennsylvania, their home, how we would return every Memorial Day, which they called Decoration Day. There was a Parade, led by a Military Honor Guard, ending at the local Cemetery, where everyone would place flowers, not only on the grave sites of mothers and fathers, but even more on the graves of those who did not survive the battles in WW 2, or who came home from Europe, changed forever by their experience and who were now passing away, too young. It is the Flags of the Honor Guard that I remember.

I’ll finish by telling you a little story about the Flag. I was in Mexico City, during the 90s, at a Conference with Secretary Baker. I had some time free, so a buddy and I went to the The Castillo, Maximilian’s Palace, now a Museum of Mexican history. We were walking through and we heard some young girls in another room, giggling and chattering. We turned the corner into the room and faced a glass case. In that case was a faded, somewhat worn American Flag. I believe it may have been the flag from the Alamo. Standing there, in that room in another country, viewing that Flag with the children of another country, I was a little taken aback; actually I was a little shocked. It was a sensory experience. Sometime later, at another gathering of government officials from Mexico, Canada and the U.S., I had an opportunity to make some concluding remarks. I told the group about the experience with that Flag. Then I told them that on that day I understood what the historians meant when they wrote about how the Roman Legions cried upon hearing of the capture of Varus’ Eagle. I told them that Eagles and Flags were not meant to be taken or lost in combat, but were meant to be given in friendship. That day I presented our Mexican host with an American Flag that had been flown over the Capitol. I told him that it was my hope that he would pass that flag down to his children and they to their children with the message that here was an American Flag given in friendship. A Flag is just a piece of colored cloth; but it is also the embodiment of the feelings of a people who have forged a great democratic Republic, dedicated to Liberty. Those who spit on that flag, or burn it, or otherwise desecrate it are doing so to the feelings and beliefs of those of us who stand for these principles. When they are our fellow citizens, we will, sadly, tolerate them, but it won’t stop us from despising them. When someone outside of citizenship does so, well, they may feel the emotions we have, in a way that they might not like. And that’s just the way I will always feel.

Another circle closed on Sunday. I have been scanning photos from the 80s and early 90s, so I will have them digitized. I came across a bunch from Giants training camp at Fairleigh. Phil Simms, LT, Harry and Pepper. Then came Dave Brown, Ray Handley, and in the background of a couple, an assistant coach, Jim Fassel. I haven’t come across any of Rod Rust, yet, but I suppose I might have one. I thought of that draft that brought Dave Brown and I remember thinking to myself, “Wwhat the f***”? I remember seeing him on his first day in camp, noticing a hitch in his delivery, thinking to myself, “What the f***”? I’m still thinking that. I remember the open warfare of the linebackers, my beloved linebackers, in open revolt against the philosophical teachings of Coach Rust. I remember the demise of that illustrious unit, with the final defenestration (how’s that) with the release by the next Coach of Pepper Johnson. And I’m sitting here now thinking about the return of Coach Rust and the renewed defenestrating of the linebacking unit. Just as every Giants fan, I like a little offense. But throughout my love of the Giants, it was a defense led by the linebackers that thrilled me. From Harlan Svare and Bill Svaboda, to Sam Huff, to Kelly, Hughes and Van Pelt to Harry Carson and then LT, Reasons, Carson and Banks, and on to Jessie Armstead, I have always thought that Giants and linebacker were synonymous. Bumping into Jessie and talking to him for a few minutes made me realize that no matter how good this team might be, it is, right now, a team without a strong linebacker unit, a team without the soul of Giants history. I sit here looking at this draft thinking that there are two out there, E.J. Henderson and Boss Bailey, who offer the hope of renewal. Then I think, does RR have any influence; does EA truly understand the game of football? Does EA understand the depths of Giants fans and their love of a line backing unit that hits like Gary Reasons did on that cold day, on the goal line, at Denver; or like the “mad dogs” unit of LT; or like the finger pointing of Sam Huff, “hey you, #“? Or am I closing another circle in my lifelong love of the Giants, happy to just get a Super Bowl win, even by a team in Blue, even if it lacks the soul of Giants’ history?

Sometimes it’s easy to forecast what the Giants will do on draft day. Picking Ron Dayne and Jeremy Shockey was easy. Ike was a mild surprise. Luke was a major surprise. Shaun Williams was a shock. Will Allen was a surprise but only because they couldn’t move up and get the best corner in the draft that year. But all of them are evidence of one thing – it is a lot harder to predict who will be there between 20 and 30 than it is between 1 and 15. And Williams is proof that picking in the 20s will give you exactly what you would expect, a starter, a solid player, but a player who is just about as good, or bad as any player chosen between 20 and 35. Free Agency is also forcing a change in putting together a draft board because it is no longer an unbroken maxim that you choose the best player available. If you have a need today, you must get immediate performance, so you have to take into account that need, sometimes over best available. Having said that, I don’t believe there is a must have player on the Giants’ board; I believe that there are sets of scenarios. Some have been driven by play last year, some by the off-season.

Last season, the offense played well. Towards the stretch, it seemed to explode at times, particularly after Coach Fassel took over the play calling. This has created a dangerous belief that the Giants now have the Third ID, an unstoppable force that can slice through any defense. I would caution that this juggernaut of last year was fashioned by Coach Payton, who might not have been able to select the right plays, but who was instrumental in their design. He had some beliefs, tactical surprise, motion, speed that set the stage for the firepower of the Giants. He is gone. That campaign is over. My fear is that the “pounders” are back in control. EA’s philosophy appears to be quantity, masses of men, not necessarily quality. Loading up on special teams is nice, particularly in now having a punter and hopefully a snapper; but leaving a Takeo Spikes out there without even a nibble, shows a distinct lack of vision. Taking the Patriots’ approach is fine, if you have Belichick and Charlie Weiss, et al. And it is actually the approach taken first by the Giants when they picked up Parker and Brown and a HOF left footed kicker.

Allowing three of your blocking unit to walk is questionable. True, none were Pro Bowlers. But they worked well as a unit, and they kept Kerry Collins from getting his britches soiled. Losing one would not be an eyebrow raiser, but losing three is certainly questionable. Then back filling with more question marks is, well more questionable. Philosophically, this appears to be hopeful planning, precatory behavior, expressing a sense of confidence without any real clout. It could be really interesting. Bottom fishing is like roulette; sometimes the ball lands on the right number; mostly, you just fork over the money. The real bright spot of the off season is the signing of Dorsey Levens, a proven, productive back, who will make the departure of Ron Dayne easier to digest, and allow a nice 4th or 5th round RB pickup.

Of more significance was the collapse of the defensive unit on too many occasions last year. Everyone is now focused on defensive tackles. Moreso, the focus should be on linebackers and cornerbacks. I don’t think the Giants have a prayer of signing Will Allen when his contract comes up. The jewelry is just too damn expensive these days and someone with a pocket full of money will outbid the Giants. EA will get his Italian up and let Will walk. So I look for a CB up high. There will be a defensive tackle taken early, but which one and where are not decided. The other teams have a vote.

So, I’m not thrilled at the off-season work, although it hasn’t been bad, particularly with the signing of Levens. I like the focus on defense, but I don’t like looking at the line and the corners, while overlooking the backers. I also think the Giants need significant help along the O-Line, and I don’t see Hatch as ready yet, if he ever will be.

What, then, are the scenarios? I firmly believe if the players are there, EA goes for the big one this year. I hate to disappoint MIS, again, kudos for a sensational pre draft analysis, but I think #1 on the Giants’ board is DT Jimmy Kennedy. He is massive, solid and a player on whom EA can get the real skinny. If Kennedy makes it past the Bears, look for a blockbuster; something like a swap of #1s, a #3, Dayne, and a pick next year depending on how Dayne plays – say a #3 if he plays well, a #2 if he doesn’t. If Kennedy goes, a very similar offer will be made to move into the 7-10 range for either QB Kyle Boller or CB Terrance Newman. The Giants would be looking at Boller three years out. He has the arm, some mobility, and the guru could make him the finished product. Newman is a definite consideration because the Giants need a nickel right now and they will have trouble with Will Allen at contract time.

The clock is running and the Giants haven’t landed any of these three by #11. The next scenario is a slightly less attractive trade, depending on how the tackles are running, to pick up DT Johnathan Sullivan, DT William Joseph or DE Jerome McDougle. Not much being said about McDougle but don’t let that sway you. He is a definite 11-to-18 player. This would be a #1, a #3, and maybe Dayne flat out with no futures.

If the Giants can’t make a move up into the top 20, and if the tackles are gone, as well as Newman, they may sit for their turn. If any of the top 5 tackles are still on the board, they may try to move a position or two to make the grab. If they wait their turn and WR Kelly Washington is still on the board, well stranger things have happened.

If the Giants give up a #2 or a #3 we are in for a long first day. FB Ovie Mughelli looks like a definite unless grabbed by someone else. Also, if Boller is not a Giant, look for QB Brad Banks in the 4th. I like QB Seneca Wallace better; the Giants like Banks. Who listens to me anyway? The scary thought is that Banks get grabbed and the Giants go for QB Brian St Pierre in the 6th.

If the Giants keep the #2 or #3, there are a couple of O linemen I like. I like Brett Romberg, the center from Miami. He has a Shockey like approach, is a good bench man, tough. A nice future center. The way the Giants are low-balling most of the O-Line, the rest may well walk at next contract, except for Luke who is in the pocket. So I really like Romberg. I also like OT Steve Sciullo in a middle round, if he’s there. He’s big, he’s proven; he’s a little nasty and he can be molded. Then I like the two guys from Hawaii (OT Wayne Hunter and OG Vince Manuwai).

Depending on how the board is running, look for a corner at #2 or #3, if Newman is not the man in the first round. The wild card would be a trade up in the second to get the Penn State defensive end (Michael Haynes). I’m not sure the Giants care if they get a tackle or an end. Certainly a tackle is preferable, but if the top guys go, the Giants will have three or four on their board for later rounds.

I have never met a player who had anything bad to say about Jerry Reese. He is a great recruiter. Having come from a small school program, I believe he looks at the small school players closely. He will have a few unknown gems in the sixth and seventh rounds, and a strong free agent group.

In conclusion, Round 1 could be a nail biter, or a real quick move. Key on Kennedy. If he goes before the Giants can move for him, it’s a wide open game and we won’t be able to go out for dinner because EA will be trying to move into certain pockets for certain players, something the Giants have not historically done. I look for Kennedy, Boller, Newman quick; Sullivan next; one of the other tackles next or the surprise of Kelly Washington. Definitely a FB, definitely a QB, definitely an OL pick. I haven’t got a clue on the rest. I would be ecstatic if the Giants went for E.J. Henderson, or Boss Bailey in the 20s, but I don’t think that’s in the works.

I may have more to add in the next week, as this is the time when the game gets hot.

Apr 112003
 
New York Giants 2003 NFL Draft Needs

The 2003 NFL Draft is not, I repeat not, about finding 2003 starters. What it is about is finding future starters who can contribute as role players in 2003. It is not normal for a player to come into the league and have the type of impact that Jeremy Shockey did last year. If a player can have that kind of impact, obviously that is an excellent development. But teams can ill afford to count on rookies like that. Rookies are usually 23-24 year olds who know little about the NFL environment. Their level of focus, level of preparation, body development, work ethic, confidence, technique, knowledge of the playbook, knowledge of fellow teammates, etc. are all usually lacking. Their rookie season (and sometimes their first two years) is a time for learning and growing. Some rookies make an impact. Most don’t.

This is a pretty easy draft to figure out for the Giants. With their off-season free agent moves, the special teams areas have been addressed. On offense, they are mostly set although they will most likely look to add some depth on the offensive line and add a blocking tight end. They may also look to draft a young halfback if they are looking to rid themselves of Ron Dayne.

The big needs on this team are defensive, and on the defensive line in particular. With 11 picks (one pick in each of the first five rounds, plus three picks in rounds 6 and 7), look for the Giants to move up in the 1st round and possibly in the 2nd or 3rd rounds. Personally, my gut tells me that General Manager Ernie Accorsi feels like this team doesn’t have a lot of big needs and because of that he will look to acquire quality over quantity.

Defensive Line: This is not only a big need for 2003, but it could be a big need area in the 2004 NFL Draft. Why? We pretty much know that the starters in 2003 are going to be DE Michael Strahan, DT Cornelius Griffin, DT Keith Hamilton, and DE Kenny Holmes. We also know that newcomer Keith Washington can provide steady but unspectacular depth at both end spots. However, it is also clear that Hamilton (who turns an “old” 32 in May and who is coming off a serious Achilles injury) and Holmes (inconsistent, disappointing free agent acquisition) are not in the Giants’ long-term plans. Neither is Washington who signed only a 1-year deal. In other words, the Giants are probably looking for new future starters at right defensive tackle and right defensive end in this draft as well as future depth. In the short-term in 2003, these new draft picks would serve as valuable members of the defensive line rotation – keeping everyone fresh into the 4th quarter.

What kind of defensive linemen should be drafted by the Giants? Pass rushers who have enough size and ability to at least do a decent job against the run. Two points to consider: (1) the NFL is more of passing league now than ever and fewer teams run with power, and (2) in the Giants’ 4-3 system under Defensive Coordinator Johnnie Lynn, most of the pass rush must come from the defensive line as the Giants do not blitz a lot. If a defensive lineman isn’t a good pass rusher, don’t look at him as a serious prospect for the Giants.

Depth is also a bit of an issue. The Giants will keep eight or nine defensive linemen. Assuming they keep eight, five spots are locked up in 2003 (Strahan, Griffin, Hamilton, Holmes, and Washington). I would predict that two more spots will be locked up by high draft picks. That leaves one open spot among existing journeymen on the roster (DE Sean Guthrie, DE Frank Ferrara, possibly DE Byron Frisch, DT Dwight Johnson, DT Lance Legree, DT Ahmad Miller, DT Matt Mitrione, and DT Brad Harris) or another draft pick. This is a deep draft for defensive linemen so I wouldn’t discount a latter round pick factoring into the equation here.

But I do believe this: two of the Giants’ first three draft picks will be defensive linemen.

Offensive Line: Assuming restricted free agent OC Chris Bober re-signs shortly, the Giants are set at left tackle, left guard, and center. But the right side of the offensive line is a bit up in the air with the departure of Mike Rosenthal and Jason Whittle in free agency. No one the Giants draft on the offensive line will start this season unless the guy is truly special. Offensive Line Coach Jim McNally doesn’t like starting rookies and he seems relatively comfortable with the existing group of candidates (Ian Allen, Barrett Brooks, Tam Hopkins, Char-Ron Dorsey, and Jeff Hatch). But it would probably serve the Giants well to draft at least one prospect who could eventually compete for playing time or provide better depth. Keep in mind that McNally prefers linemen with intelligence and athleticism. Don’t look for the Giants to draft dummies who can’t move their feet. He’s more finesse than power.

Cornerback: The starters are obviously set with Will Allen and Will Peterson. But it remains to be seen what the depth situation will turn out to look like. Believe it or not, the Giants may be in better shape here than most think. Kato Serwanga is a corner who has a nice combination of size and athleticism; Defensive Backs Coach DeWayne Walker likes him quite a bit. Ralph Brown was way too inconsistent in the preseason last year, but did a lot of nice things in the game against the Redskins late in the year. And newcomer Ray Green is a very tall and athletic corner who was stuck behind a very strong secondary in Miami. That being said, it probably makes sense to draft at least one quality corner just in case the ideal scenario doesn’t work out. Keep in mind that more teams are employing 3- and 4-wide receiver sets and the Giants do play in the same division as the “Fun-and-Gun” in Washington.

Safety: Shaun Williams is set at strong safety. Omar Stoutmire was re-signed to a 3-year deal. He gets a lot more grief than he deserves. Good free safeties are hard to find. Every year in reviewing draft prospects, it seems virtually impossible to find one that has good speed, can cover, and can tackle. Stoutmire can do all of this. Where he is lacking is that he obviously doesn’t make a lot of plays on the ball in the air. In an ideal draft scenario, the Giants find a young free safety they can groom behind Stoutmire who has good speed and athleticism, who can tackle well, and who makes plays on the ball. But as I said, those guys are hard to find. Still, it would be nice to find a future ballhawk in the latter rounds.

Tight End: Jeremy Shockey is the best tight end in football. Marcellus Rivers is a fine receiving-type tight end who needs to continue to improve his blocking. What the Giants need to find is a blocking-type tight end to replace Dan Campbell. Fortunately, this looks like a pretty good year for tight ends in the draft.

Halfback: It all depends on Ron Dayne. In the short-term, the Giants are fine with Tiki Barber, Dorsey Levens, and Brian Mitchell. Levens and Mitchell were underused by the Eagles in the base offense. It would appear that will not be the case in New York. If Dayne stays, his sole purpose may be to serve as insurance in case Barber gets hurt. But one wonders if Dayne, with ever declining carries, will loose even more interest and therefore effectiveness (if that is possible). I’d love to see the Giants give Antonio Warren a fair shake, but if they do dump Dayne, don’t be shocked to see a halfback drafted. That said, it isn’t a real good year for running backs.

Linebackers: The Giants will keep at most seven linebackers on the roster and I honestly think they feel they are OK with Brandon Short, Mike Barrow, Dhani Jones, Nick Greisen, Wes Mallard, Kevin Lewis, and Quincy Monk. Accorsi said in a recent interview that they see Greisen, Mallard, and Monk as future starters. Short is a good strongside linebacker and Jones received some interest in free agency from some good teams. There appear to be some good middle linebackers in this draft, but not a lot of quality outside linebackers. If the Giants do look to draft one, look for athletic players who can run.

Wide Receiver: On the surface, it would seem as if the Giants are pretty well set here. Locks are Amani Toomer, Ike Hilliard, Ron Dixon, and Tim Carter. That leaves only one or two roster spots up for grabs between a possible draft pick and Daryl Jones, Derek Dorris, Chris Taylor, and possibly Tony Simmons. But Accorsi does appear to like drafting at least one speed receiver a year. There are not a lot of them in this draft, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Giants nab one in the middle rounds.

Fullback: The Giants signed Jim Finn from the Colts and he appears to be the favorite to win the starting spot. Charles Stackhouse needs to improve his focus and his blocking in order to remain on the roster. There are some interesting fullbacks in this draft and the Giants may look to select one in the latter rounds.

Quarterback: I can’t really see the Giants drafting a quarterback if they intend to keep Jason Garrett on the roster (which they do). Kerry Collins is emerging as one of the better quarterbacks in the league and Jesse Palmer improved a great deal last preseason.

Summary: Defensive line, defensive line, defensive line. Get two quality defensive linemen who can rush the passer and I will be happy. After that, look for the Giants to add some depth to the offensive line, secondary, and tight end positions. The wild card? Do the Giants draft Dayne’s replacement or wait one more year?