Apr 192006
 
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New York Giants 2006 NFL Draft Preview

There is a lot of pressure on the Giants to get this draft right. The Giants are an up-and-coming team and potential Super Bowl contender, but they still have quite a few issues. And there are a lot of sharks in the water in the NFC who have gotten better in the offseason – Seahawks, Panthers, Redskins, Cowboys, Eagles, Falcons, and Buccaneers. If that weren’t enough, the Giants’ 2006 schedule is brutal.

Counting on a rookie to come in and start is always a risky proposition. The body of a 22-23 years old kid coming out of college has not fully developed yet. Mini-camps, training camp, the preseason, and a long regular season take a physical toll on rookies not accustomed to such a fast-paced, rigorous, and lengthy schedule. More importantly, the mental strain of learning what it takes to be an NFL player – everything from the increased level of competition, getting acclimated to new surroundings, learning a new and far more complicated system, and dealing with major lifestyle changes – usually hampers the learning curve and causes most rookies to spend their first year merely scratching the surface of their potential. And most do not come close to starting.

To me, the primary concerns heading into the 2006 NFL Draft are:

  1. Finding a starting nose tackle. Because the Giants did not address the defensive tackle position in free agency (and actually lost two), the Giants need to draft a good one who can challenge for a starting job.
  2. Finding a starting weakside linebacker. Because the Giants did not address the weakside linebacker position in free agency, the pressure is on them to find a rookie who can come in and play right away at an acceptable level.
  3. Adding a young, starting-caliber cornerback who will eventually replace Sam Madison in a year or two.
  4. Adding a young, starting-caliber left tackle who will eventually replace Luke Petitgout in a year or two.
  5. Adding a young, starting-caliber wide receiver who will eventually replace Amani Toomer in a year or two.

Stating the obvious, there is no way in hell that the Giants can fill all these holes with one draft. The most that one can realistically hope for is addressing two of these positions. Because the Giants were not able to address these areas of concern in free agency, their flexibility is now limited. They will have to pursue certain positions on a need basis in the draft. They will also have to hope that guys like Petitgout, Toomer, and Madison can still play at a high level.

In my opinion, the Giants do not have the luxury to focus on halfbacks, fullbacks, quarterbacks, or guards in this draft. They may consider looking at a tight end, center, or safety. But the pressing areas are definitely defensive tackle, linebacker, cornerback, left tackle, and wide receiver – in no particular order. These are the positions that I will focus on in this draft preview. The good news? I think this is a very good defensive draft. The bad? I think it stinks at tackle and isn’t very strong at wide receiver.

As always, a word of caution about my draft preview. I only list those players who I think are a good fit for the Giants. If, in my mind, a player has more red flags than attributes, he won’t make my list. You won’t see some highly regarded prospects in my review. Also, I am not a college-football junky. I do not break down college games and make my own player evaluations. What I do is collect scouting reports from sources that I trust and try to form a reasonable aggregate picture of the prospect. If I miss someone who the Giants draft (a very likely occurrence, especially since I am mainly covering the better prospects), you will get a full scouting report from me on everyone selected on draft weekend.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES: The big issue here is finding a run-stuffing force to team with the more agile William Joseph. The left defensive tackle in the Giants’ system is more of a nose-tackle-type of player who does the dirty work against the center and right guard while Joseph plays more three-technique (outside shoulder of the left guard) and is called upon to penetrate more. That’s why Damane Duckett is currently pegged as the top player at nose tackle while Fred Robbins – a better pass rusher – is listed behind Joseph at right defensive tackle. The Giants need to find someone to compete with Duckett – a player who spent much of last season on the inactive list and who accrued only one tackle in 2005.

Brodrick Bunkley, Florida State (6-3, 306lbs, 4.95): Well-built and a very good athlete for his size. Strong and powerful. Difficult to move out on running plays. Can penetrate and disrupt with his combination of power and quickness. Often double-teamed. Can play both nose and 3-technique.

Haloti Ngata, Oregon (6-4, 338lbs, 5.15): Junior entry. Superb combination of size and athleticism. Has outstanding agility and range for someone so large. Big, powerful, and strong. Tough to move off the line-of-scrimmage. Usually needs to be double-teamed on running plays in his direction. Like most huge defensive tackles, Ngata is criticized for not playing hard all of the time. Needs to play with greater consistency.

John McCargo, North Carolina State (6-1, 302lbs, 5.16): Junior entry. Lacks height and not as stout as desired, but McCargo is a disruptive presence on the football field. Plays with leverage. Quick and penetrates. Strong for his size with some power. Has good agility and range for a tackle. Smart and plays hard. Probably better suited for three-technique, but could play nose tackle.

Gabriel Watson, Michigan (6-3, 339lbs, 5.28): Huge, strong, and powerful. Good athlete for his size with surprising quickness and agility. Very difficult to move off the line of scrimmage when he plays hard and focused. Often needs to be double-teamed on running plays in his direction. Has that underachiever, “needs to work harder” label that most huge defensive tackles have. Flashes the ability to dominate, but is inconsistent and ordinary at times. Does he want it enough? Excelled in the Senior Bowl practices.

Jonathan Lewis, Virginia Tech (6-1, 309lbs, 4.97): Lacks ideal height, but he is a very quick, strong athlete who usually plays with leverage. Can anchor at the point-of-attack when he does so. Great first-step quickness – penetrates and makes plays in the backfield. Good intangibles – instinctive, intense, and hustles. Chases plays down. Probably better suited for the under tackle position, but can play nose tackle.

Johnny Jolly, Texas A&M (6-3, 317lbs, 5.43): Jolly has good size and is strong. Plays with good leverage and has good quickness. Can penetrate and disrupt. Can hold at the point-of-attack, but needs to shed blockers better. Gets into position to make the play, but doesn’t always finish. Tough, intense, and emotional. Some character questions.

Babatunde Oshinowo, Stanford (6-2, 304lbs, 5.27): Lacks ideal height, but he is a strong, stout nose-tackle-type who can hold the point of attack. Doesn’t make many plays but he allows others to do so. Does not usually penetrate the backfield and not a pass rusher. Needs to shed blocks better. Lacks stamina.

DEFENSIVE ENDS: The Giants are loaded at defensive end with Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Eric Moore, and Adrian Awasom.

LINEBACKERS: There is a screaming need at weakside linebacker. The Giants are in good shape on the strongside with Carlos Emmons and Reggie Torbor. They have also added Brandon Short. The only way I see the Giants drafting a strongside linebacker high is if they are unhappy with Torbor (I don’t think they are). Antonio Pierce has Pro Bowl ability. A.J. Hawk will be off the board before the Giants pick. DE/LB ‘tweeners Manny Lawson and Kamerion Wimbley are best suited for the 3-4 defense. Thomas Howard makes me nervous because he is a better athlete than player; I would not draft him as high as he will be by some team.

Chad Greenway, Iowa (6-2, 242lbs, 4.77): Combines excellent size and athleticism. Plays faster than he times, but does need to get stronger. Super-productive linebacker who has finished the past three seasons with over 400 tackles. Runs very well and excels in coverage – has even covered receivers in the slot. Very good range against the run. Needs to become more consistent at defending the run at the point-of-attack and become a more consistent tackler. Decent blitzer. Good intangibles – smart, instinctive, and very competitive. Always around the ball – makes a lot of plays.

Ernie Sims, Florida State (5-11, 231lbs, 4.56): Junior entry. Very short, but Sims is a player. Has impact ability. Very fast and physical. Sets a tone with his intensity and emotion. Has excellent range. Good run defender, but he can have problems with big blockers at the point-of-attack. Covers well. Explosive hitter – punishes his opponent. Over-aggressiveness hurts him at times against misdirection. Not consistently productive. Has had some issues with concussions.

DeMeco Ryans, Alabama (6-1, 235lbs, 4.66): Very similar in style to Antonio Pierce in that he is a smart and instinctive player and super hardworking film junkie. Team leader. Very competitive and brings a presence to the field. Lacks classic size, but he has good range and agility. Lacks a burst and explosiveness. Doesn’t stay blocked. Big hitter. Plays the run well and is solid in coverage.

D’Qwell Jackson, Maryland (6-0, 230lbs, 4.75): Played inside at Maryland, but could project at weakside linebacker for the Giants. Lacks ideal size, but he is a tough, instinctive, and hardworking play-maker. Super-productive – had almost 400 tackles in three years. Has a presence about him. Has good range. Avoids blockers and sheds well. Plays the run well. Big hitter.

Roger McIntosh, Miami (6-2, 237lbs, 4.63): Great intangibles – comes from a military family, smart, mature, and competitive. Fast, instinctive, and active. Has great range against the run and the pass. Can have some problems with big blockers at the point-of-attack. Hits and tackles well. Doesn’t stay blocked. Has had some injury issues that need to be checked out.

Bobby Carpenter (6-3, 256lbs, 4.61): Father Rob played for the Giants. Versatile – can play all three linebacker spots. Big, strong linebacker with decent athletic ability. However, he is not as athletic on the field as he tests off the field. Not overly instinctive or consistent, but he is tough, competitive, and plays hard. Has good range, but lacks a burst. Not an explosive hitter or tackler. Needs to shed blockers more consistently. Good blitzer.

Abdul Hodge, Iowa (6-0, 236lbs, 4.75): Played middle linebacker at Iowa, but can play all three linebacker spots. Lacks ideal size, but he has long arms and is strong for his size. Good athlete with good range – has a burst to close on plays away from him. Instinctive and physical. Defends the run well at the point-of-attack, but needs to guard against low blocks and shed blocks better. Big hitter and solid tackler. Underrated in coverage.

Brian Iwuh, Colorado (6-0, 234lbs, 4.66): Lacks ideal size, but he is a good athlete with fine intangibles – tough, instinctive, physical, hardworking. Hits hard and tackles well. Can have problems with big blockers at the point-of-attack. Can cover and blitzes well. Good special teams player.

William Kershaw, Maryland (6-3, 240lbs, 4.70): Has good size and is a decent athlete, though he is a bit tight in the hips. Good intangibles – tough, physical, hardworking, competitive, instinctive. Can defend the run at the point-of-attack. Has good range and pursues well. Good blitzer. Better in zone coverage than man-to-man.

Jon Alston, Stanford (6-1, 223lbs, 4.45): An undersized run-and-hit linebacker who excels in coverage. Very fast and agile with great range. Runs like a safety. Can have problems at the point-of-attack due to his size. Big hitter and good tackler. Can rush the passer.

Gerris Wilkinson, Georgia Tech (6-3, 233lbs, 4.67): Played inside in college but projects to the weakside for the Giants. Very good intangibles – smart and plays smart. Hardworking and instinctive. Productive. Has decent – but not great – range. Not a big hitter, but he tackles well. Can cover and blitz.

CORNERBACKS: The need here is to groom someone behind Madison. Madison and Corey Webster are likely to start – though R.W. McQuarters might push Webster for playing time. All three will make the team. If Curtis Deloatch rebounds from his late-season slump and progresses again, he will still be on the roster. But it is not out of the realm of possibility that the Giants actually draft two corners either. Michael Huff will not be available when the Giants pick. CB/S Jason Allen is falling due to concerns over a hip injury that may be degenerative. Demario Minter and Alan Zemaitis are more cover-two zone corners who probably don’t fit the Giants’ scheme.

Antonio Cromartie, Florida State (6-2, 208lbs, 4.47): Junior entry who has only started one game in college. Tore his ACL in the summer of 2005 and did not play last year. Has played in 25 games as a freshman and sophomore. Exceptional size-speed combination. Strong and has long arms. FSU coaches compare him to a young Deion Sanders. Smooth, fluid, quick, and field-fast. Instinctive in coverage and makes plays on the football. Still somewhat raw and inexperienced – will need quite a bit of coaching in order to improve his technique. Needs to become a more physical and sure tackler. Will be drafted high based on his physical ability and potential, but is he a player?

Jimmy Williams, Virginia Tech (6-2, 213lbs, 4.48): Williams is big, athletic defensive back with experience at both corner and safety. Physical player who hits, but needs to become a more consistent tackler. Fast, fluid, and agile in coverage. Better in press man-to-man coverage than man-off or zone. Needs to make more plays on the football. Good blitzer. Needs to be more disciplined and focused. Has some character concerns.

Kelly Jennings, Miami (5-11, 178lbs, 4.40): Very fast and quick cover corner who lacks ideal bulk. Needs to get stronger. Plays more of a finesse game, but he has the ability to shut down his opponent. Confident and hardworking. Plays in a disciplined fashion. Instinctive and can play both man-to-man and zone coverage. Not a physical player.

Tye Hill, Clemson (5-10, 185lbs, 4.35): Undersized corner who excels in coverage. Very smooth, fast, and quick. Long arms and jumping ability compensate somewhat for his lack of height. Lacks good hands for the interception. Confident. Not that physical and needs to become a better tackler. Has some character concerns.

Richard Marshall, Fresno State (5-11, 189lbs, 4.46): Junior-entry. Decent size. Good athlete and physical coverman. Quick. Good in man-to-man coverage. Confident and instinctive. Has good hands and makes plays on the football. Needs to get stronger and become a more consistent tackler.

Johnathan Joseph, South Carolina (5-11, 192lbs, 4.35): Junior entry who has started only one year. Decent size with long arms. Has outstanding speed. More fast than quick. Smooth and fluid. Better in tight man-to-man than man-off or zone coverage. Physical in run support and will tackle. Not overly instinctive or smart. Doesn’t anticipate well. Raw – will need quite of bit of coaching.

Cedric Griffin, Texas (6-0, 199lbs, 4.54): Has experience at both corner and safety. Combines good size and athleticism. Good intangibles – tough, competitive, hustles. Physical press corner who does not have a lot of experience in off coverage. Needs technique work on his footwork. Good run defender.

Ashton Youboty, Ohio State (6-0, 189lbs, 4.50): Junior entry. Decent size with long arms and an excellent athlete. Somewhat raw and still learning the game. Will need solid coaching in order to improve his technique. Tough, strong, physical player. Smooth athlete and flashes ability as a coverman. Not overly instinctive. Good hitter and tackler. Plays the run well.

Danieal Manning, Abilene Christian (5-11, 202lbs, 4.49): Small-school prospect who dominated at the Division II level and played very well at the East-West Shrine Game. Has experience at corner and safety. Combines good size and athleticism. Well-built with good speed. Makes plays and has good hands for the interception. Instinctive. Big jump to the NFL and New York City. Needs a lot of technique work. Has experience as a returner.

David Pittman, Northwestern State (5-11, 182lbs, 4.49): Small school prospect who did not look out of place at the Senior Bowl. Demonstrates good coverage skills. Smooth and fluid. Instinctive, but will bite on play fakes. Tough. Will support against the run and tackles well. Hard worker.

SAFETIES: I think the Giants are relatively content with their top three safeties – Gibril Wilson, Will Demps, and James Butler. Adrian Mayes, Quentin Harris, Jamaal Brimmer, and Jason Shivers will likely compete for one roster spot. There are some very good safeties who will go in the first or second round, but I don’t see the Giants drafting a safety that high. After that, the talent level declines pretty quickly. I don’t see the Giants making a move here unless someone slips later in the draft – someone like Anthony Smith of Syracuse who didn’t run well at the Combine, but who may do better in individual workouts. Also, the Giants have done a pretty good job of picking up decent safeties late in the draft (Gibril Wilson) or undrafted players (James Butler). I’m not going to waste my time or yours trying to predict who that guy might be. I’d be throwing darts at a dartboard.

QUARTERBACKS: The Giants won’t draft someone here. Tim Hasselbeck was just re-signed and the Giants will likely add Jay Fiedler to the mix.

RUNNING BACKS: I may be in the minority, but I think the Giants are very high on Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward. Also, keep in mind that Chad Morton can play running back. The Giants are four deep here. Tiki Barber has had his most productive seasons behind FB Jim Finn. I don’t see them drafting a halfback or fullback this year.

TIGHT ENDS: The Giants won’t use a first day pick on a tight end and I don’t really see any second day-types who are exceptional blockers. Perhaps they may look at Jason Pociask, a back-up at the University of Wisconsin who is good blocker and who can play a variety of roles such as tight end and H-Back.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Ideally, the Giants would draft someone to groom behind Toomer as his eventual replacement. The problem is that this is a relatively poor wide receiver class. And the Giants have a lot of defensive needs. The team needs to be careful not to force a pick here. Chad Jackson is a highly-regarded prospect who will be drafted in the first round. He is a great athlete, but he didn’t make many big plays in college. Some say it is because of the system, but University of Florida receivers historically do not do well at the pro level. I wouldn’t take that gamble.

Santonio Holmes, Ohio State (5-11, 188lbs, 4.40): Junior entry. Lacks ideal size, but Holmes is a quick, fast, fluid receiver who has soft hands and who can get deep. Sets up defenders well. Runs good routes. Makes the tough catch. Very good gaining yardage after the catch. Gives an effort when blocking. Draws comparisons to Terry Glenn.

Sinorice Moss, Miami (5-8, 185lbs, 4.38): Undersized receiver who draws comparisons to his brother, Santana Moss of the Redskins. Very fast and quick. Runs good routes and has good hands. Gets defensive backs turned. Accelerates very quickly and is dangerous after the catch. Gets deep. Tough for his size. Good leaper and has good hands. Confident and hardworking. Needs to improve his run blocking.

Greg Jennings, Western Michigan (5-11, 197lbs, 4.45): Average size, but he is a good athlete who can make big plays. Quick. Lacks classic deep speed and not sent deep much in college. Runs good routes. Gets separation from defensive backs. Adjusts well for the football and has very soft hands. Tough receiver who will go over the middle. Runs well after the catch. Needs to become a better blocker. Smart and hardworking. Can return punts.

Demetrius Williams, Oregon (6-2, 197lbs, 4.51): Good combination of size and athleticism. Lacks classic deep speed. Has good quickness and can escape the jam. Gains separation out of his breaks. Sets up defenders well. Adjusts well for the football and has very soft hands – sometimes guilty of an easy drop. Competitive. Needs to become a tougher player.

Maurice Stovall, Notre Dame (6-4, 217lbs, 4.57): Huge receiver. Lacks ideal speed, but he is smooth and athletic. Not fast, quick, or explosive. Tough and physical. Can beat press coverage. Runs good routes and will go over the middle. Adjusts well to the football. Has soft hands and makes difficult catches, but sometimes drops easy ones. Gains yardage after the catch. Comes through in clutch situations. Good blocker.

Brandon Marshall, Central Florida (6-4, 229lbs, 4.53): Huge, athletic receiver. Volatile personality – has some character issues. Long strider with deceptive speed. Very raw and will need a lot of technique work. Uses his size and long arms to snatch the football away from defenders. Makes tough catches. Good blocker. Stood out at the Hula Bowl.

Willie Reid, Florida State (5-10, 188lbs, 4.37): Relatively inexperienced receiver who lacks ideal size, but who is very fast and can get deep. Quick and agile. Lacks strength and could have problems with press coverage. Will need a lot of technique work. Has decent – but not natural – hands. Tough and competitive. Has been somewhat injury-prone. Very dangerous punt returner.

Brandon Williams, Wisconsin (5-9, 179lbs, 4.52): Undersized receiver who lacks deep speed, but who is quick. Good intangibles – smart, tough, and competitive. Good route runner and has good hands. Gains separation out of his breaks. Will go over the middle. Elusive after the catch. Good blocker. Has experience returning kicks and punts. Best suited as a #3 receiver.

Mike Hass, Oregon State (6-0, 206lbs, 4.60): Similar in style to Ricky Proehl. A gamer who lacks ideal speed and quickness Great intangibles – hardworking, competitive. Good route runner who has a knack for getting open. Sets up his opponent. May struggle to gain separation at the pro level. Adjusts well to the football and has excellent hands. Comes through in the clutch. Good blocker. Best suited as a #3 receiver.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES: What we really don’t know about Luke Petitgout is (1) what is the long-term diagnosis on his back, and (2) what does Tom Coughlin think of him. We do know that Coughlin was not happy at all with all the penalties (14) called on Petitgout last year. The best left tackles usually go early in the draft. If you get one after that, consider yourself lucky. Aside from D’Brickashaw Ferguson, I don’t really have a warm and fuzzy feeling for any of the left tackles in this draft. I would not trade up for Winston Justice – too many character concerns. I think there are too many questions about Eric Winston to tag him in the first round and he won’t make it to the Giants’ second-round selection. There are a couple of developmental projects who I may look at late:

Paul McQuistan, Weber State (6-6, 315lbs, 5.10): Developmental type who will take some time. Has good size and size potential – needs to get stronger. Has long arms. Good athlete who tested out well at the Combine. Has good intangibles – tough, intense, and competitive. Played at a small-school level and needs a lot of technique work. Must play with better leverage.

Terrance Pennington, New Mexico (6-7, 325lbs, 5.40): Developmental type who will take some time. Has excellent size and long arms. Strong. Athletic with good feet. Needs a lot of technique work. Somewhat of a waist-bender – needs bend at the knees and play with better leverage. Could be more physical. Plays too high and is not a mauler when run blocking. Good intangibles – smart and coachable.

OFFENSIVE GUARDS: The Giants have three good guards in David Diehl, Chris Snee, and Rich Seubert. Adding another would be great, but the Giants don’t have that luxury.

OFFENSIVE CENTERS: General Manager Ernie Accorsi has said a couple of times – and as recently as late February – that the Giants are happy with Shaun O’Hara and are looking to extend his contract. Accorsi says O’Hara is one of the team leaders. The Giants also added Grey Ruegamer as the veteran backup. The Giants are not likely to draft a center, but if there was a guy there who they felt was a big enough upgrade, it is not inconceivable.

Nick Mangold, Ohio State (6-4, 300lbs, 5.06): Looks like a future Pro Bowler. Not a mauler, but a very good technician and athlete who plays with natural leverage. Quick and agile. Can pull and engages well at the second level. Needs to get stronger and could be more physical. Smart. Stood out at the Senior Bowl practices.


And the New York Giants Select…

1st Round – DT Gabe Watson, Michigan: Defensive tackle will not be a popular pick here by many. But I subscribe to the theory that NFL games are won and lost in the trenches. And those who subscribe to George Young’s planet theory will also like this pick (the theory that there are only so many big men on this planet who can play football, so grab them when you can). Yes, Watson is inconsistent. Yes, he doesn’t always play hard. But he is a huge man who can two-gap and keep linemen off the Giants’ linebackers. When he’s playing well, he’s an immovable force. I’ll take my chances with a defensive line of Strahan, Watson, Joseph, and Umenyiora. The other players I strongly considered here were Chad Greenway and Antonio Cromartie.

2nd Round – CB Ashton Youboty, Ohio State: Youboty is a junior who is not a finished product. What I like about him is that he is a tough, physical corner who has a good size/athletic combination. He most likely will not impress as a rookie, but the Giants have some time with Madison in the picture. Corners go fast so grab them early. I also considered Roger McIntosh here.

3rd Round – LB Abdul Hodge, Iowa: A Big 10 sweep for the first three picks. I am making the dangerous assumption here that LaVar Arrington will be a New York Giant. If not, Brian Iwuh or Jon Alston make more sense. The reason I like Hodge here is that he can play all three linebacker positions and provide good depth behind Pierce and Arrington. Hodge is overshadowed by A.J. Hawk and Chad Greenway, but he is a good player in his own right.

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Eric Kennedy

Founder and owner of BigBlueInteractive.com, which is now entering its 20th season. Follow Eric on Twitter @BigBlueInteract.

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