Apr 292007
 

New York Giants Move Mathias Kiwanuka to Linebacker: The Giants publicly announced today that Mathias Kiwanuka, their top draft pick from the 2006 NFL Draft, will be shifted from defensive end to strongside linebacker. Recently signed unrestricted free agent LB Kawika Mitchell will compete with second-year LB Gerris Wilkinson on the weakside.

“There is no question (Mathias Kiwanuka) can make the transition to outside linebacker,” said General Manager Jerry Reese. “There is no question about it. He can play SAM linebacker…He is athletic, he is long, he is tall. You want your SAM to have some height with him to play…technique on the end of the line. So he can do all of this. He is athletic. Actually he zone-dropped a couple of times and had a couple of interceptions last year.”

“We have him penciled in as our SAM linebacker,” said Reese. “So linebacker wasn’t a pressing need for us. You guys (the press) probably thought it was but it wasn’t…We have two very good defensive ends and this guy is a very good football player and we think he can make the transition very easily. And we want our best players on the field. So we penciled the guy in a long time ago.”

“(Kiwanuka) is definitely an option (at linebacker) that we are going to look at very strongly,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “Mathias from the defensive end position has been up and dropped a year ago. We think that our idea there is to try to get as many quality players on the field at the same time as best we can. I think he can play well in that position and as we move into the spring here we get an opportunity to spend more time on the field and in meetings where we will continue with that experiment… We will look at Mathias in a first and second down capacity there. Obviously we are going to use his pass rush talents and skills, whether it be third down, second and long, or whatever. In what capacity, we are going to have to take a look at how all these pieces fit together.”

“Gerris Wilkinson’s development is very important for us without a doubt,” said Coughlin. “Kawika Mitchell is in that role and fits that position as well. When you look at (2007 4th rounder) Zak DeOssie, he can play a couple of spots. He can play inside and he can play on the outside. I think that we have helped ourselves with that spot.”

New York Giants Pleased with Whimper’s Progress: Both Head Coach Tom Coughlin and General Manager Jerry Reese had some nice things to say about second-year LT Guy Whimper today. Whimper is expected to compete with David Diehl for the starting left tackle spot vacated by the departure of Luke Petitgout this offseason.

“I have been real impressed with what has been going on with Guy Whimper here in the off-season,” said Coughlin. “We have done a lot of individual things with him. He is a very, very good athlete. Obviously he has the experience of one year here which is going to help him from having an opportunity to learn the system a little bit better. We will know more about that as we move along. I am not ready to say that (Diehl is the starter) at this time.”

“We won a game with David Diehl at left tackle,” said Reese. “And if we have to play him out there, we will be okay. Don’t forget Guy Whimper. I think Guy Whimper is a good football player. I think he is going to be a very good football player at left tackle. So don’t discount Guy Whimper as a left tackle.”

Day Two of the New York Giants 2007 NFL Draft: The second day of the 2007 NFL Draft concluded for the Giants today with the team selecting the following players:

  • Fourth Round: LB Zak DeOssie (Brown University)
  • Fifth Round: TE Kevin Boss (Western Oregon University)
  • Sixth Round: LT Adam Koets, (Oregon State University)
  • Seventh Round: S Michael Johnson (University of Arizona)
  • Seventh Round: HB Ahmad Bradshaw (Marshall University)

To see our scouting reports on these five players as well as what General Manager Jerry Reese, Head Coach Tom Coughlin, and the players picked had to say, see our 2007 NFL Draft Review section of the website.

General Manager Jerry Reese’s Post-Draft Press Conference: The following is the transcript of General Manager Jerry Reese’s post-draft press conference from earlier today:

Q: Are you pleased at what you came away with?

A: I think we had a solid draft. We tried to pick players – we got a bunch of value picks plus needs picks. So I think we helped ourselves.

Q: What was the theme of this draft? As you look back at it as a whole, what did the Giants do?

A: I think we got better in a lot of need positions. We had value picks. We got better because we picked guys with character; we picked guys that were team-oriented players. We picked guys with talent. Those were some of our goals.

Q: You plugged almost every hole. Was there anything you weren’t able to do that you wanted to do?

A: We didn’t pick Calvin Johnson. We did; we plugged some holes that we needed. The best part about that is that we plugged them with some value picks as well.

Q: You talked yesterday about the chance to maybe move up a little bit. Would you characterize it more as not a ‘safe’ draft but a ‘solid’ draft?

A: Yes. It was a solid draft. Our value chart – what it would cost to trade up. The opportunities presented weren’t fair value. We are not overpaying for guys unless it was somebody that we really, really loved or couldn’t live without, we might give up some extra picks. But the picks that we would have given up, they didn’t match the correct value. We didn’t want to overextend ourselves.

Q: Is there a guy in the second half of your draft that really jumps out at you; a value guy?

A: Obviously the first pick in the second half; he should be the best guy because that is the guy we picked – (Zak) DeOssie. I think he has a lot of value. Number one, he is big, he is fast, he is athletic. His gymnastic numbers at the Combine were off the charts. The low level of comp, you have to weigh that. But you evaluate everybody the same. So we weigh in that he played at Brown. So we also weigh in that he is big, he is fast, he plays hard, he has great character, he long snaps. Ryan Kuehl is going to be here for a couple more years, maybe, but after that, this kid could be your long snapper, save you a roster spot. So he had value in a lot of ways. He can actually run down the field and probably make a tackle. And he will play on all special teams.

Q: Tom was just talking about Mathias Kiwanuka possibly moving to linebacker. As a talent evaluator and what you see from him, is that a transition that he can make? And is it easy?

A: There is no question he can make the transition to outside linebacker. There is no question about it. He can play SAM linebacker.

Q: Why do you say that?

A: Because he is athletic, he is long, he is tall. You want your SAM to have some height with him to play……technique on the end of the line. So he can do all of this. He is athletic. Actually he zone-dropped a couple of times and had a couple of interceptions last year.

Q: We understand he can do that. As far as from a third-down, straight-ahead perspective. But he can do that first and second-down?

A: I don’t think there is any question about it.

Q: Before the draft maybe a lot of people looked at your linebackers and didn’t include him there.

A: I told you guys yesterday that we have linebackers.

Q: So did that play into your draft?

A: I didn’t tell you that Mathias was a linebacker. But I told you that we have linebackers.

Q: But coming into the draft was that a name you included and thought, “Well, maybe it’s not as much of a need as other people think?”

A: No question about it. We have him penciled in as our SAM linebacker. So linebacker wasn’t a pressing need for us. You guys probably thought it was but it wasn’t.

Q: Do you have him penciled in as your starting SAM?

A: We have him penciled in as our starting SAM linebacker right now.

Q: Did that happen when Steve Spagnuolo got here, was that when the conversation occurred, or did it start as far back as last year?

A: We have two very good defensive ends and this guy is a very good football player and we think he can make the transition very easily. And we want our best players on the field. So we penciled the guy in a long time ago.

Q: You also drafted DeOssie , he’s a SAM linebacker, there are a lot of SAM linebackers. Can one of those guys play on the weakside?

A: Both of those guys can play SAM. DeOssie is probably not going to come in and beat anybody out right now I don’t think. He may be able to beat someone out (in the future) but he can be a solid backup SAM linebacker and play on special teams.

Q: What about Kawika Mitchell?

A: He can play on the outside, he can play SAM. He can play all over the place. He can play the middle. He can play any of the spots.

Q: Who do you have penciled in on the weak side?

A: Right now it is going to between (Kawika) Mitchell and Gerris Wilkinson. Not necessarily in that order.

Q: If someone had told you a few days ago, “this is your draft,” these are the seven or eight guys you have. What would you have said?

A: I would have said that we made some real solid picks; some character guys. The last guy we picked (the compensatory pick) he has some (character concerns) on him. But he is going to be on a short leash. We are not going to have guys come in here and disrupt things. All of the background stuff we did on him we think he is a good kid. He needs a little bit of structure. But he was worth taking a shot on. He is very productive, change of pace; he can catch the ball out of the backfield. So we will give him a shot.

Q: The tight end that you drafted, he is basically more of a pass catcher right now?

A: He is a pass catcher right now more than he is a blocker. But I think he can develop as a blocker. He just has to get stronger, get in the weight room. He can develop. I think you can develop much easier as a blocker than you can a pass catcher. You can catch or you can’t, pretty much. It’s hard to develop guys that aren’t pass catchers. You can get stronger and develop.

RE: Realizing (Zak DeOssie) was a strong need, do you draft a player on his ability to be an outstanding long snapper?

A: Not necessarily. At some point he may be the starting SAM linebacker. So we thought he had value that way. He is always going to play on the core special teams. You want big, fast athletes on your core special teams. The long snap is something (that adds value). At some point in his career the guy is going to battle for a starting spot.

Q: Was Steve Smith, in part, drafted as insurance policy for Sinorice Moss?

A: Well, I don’t know if it was an insurance policy, but he gives us depth at that position. He is a polished receiver that can come in – we don’t know how soon – Amani is ahead of schedule and we are encouraged about that but you never know. And Sinorice was hurt some last year. So we thought we needed to make sure we had some people at that position.

Q: Is there an area of your team – offense or defense – that you are still shaky about?

A: That question is probably leading to, “What are you going to do at left tackle?” In all of the e-mails you talk about left tackle. There are still some things that we can do.

Q: Is there a left tackle available?

A: I’ve said this already, but again, we won a game – I was told not to say ‘games.’ We won a game with David Diehl at left tackle. And if we have to play him out there, we will be okay. Don’t forget Guy Whimper. I think Guy Whimper is a good football player. I think he is going to be a very good football player at left tackle. So don’t discount Guy Whimper as a left tackle.

Q: You said you would be the tie-breaker, if necessary, before the draft. Did you have to break any ties?

A: I don’t think I ever fought for the players. In the draft room I just say, “Guys, put the facts up. What are the facts? Can this guy do this? What can he do?” I want to know what the player does. You can put holes in anybody. You can put holes in Calvin Johnson. You could say that he is big, he ran fast, but he doesn’t play that fast. Or his legs are too long, or whatever. You can put holes in any of the guys if you want to. So I don’t think I was fighting for players. I just wanted to make sure that we knew what the facts were on the players. Why not this player? A lot of times you get into the rows. Why…First row, second row, whatever. I will give you a perfect example. The defensive end, Osi (Umenyiora). We would have loved to have Osi in the third round. But if you want him you have to take him in the second row. You can’t pick him in the third row, because he is not going to be there when you pick in the third row. So the dynamics of the draft are if you want a guy that the value is probably in the second row, you probably have to pick him in the first row, because you are not getting him in the second. That’s really how it works.

Q: Were there guys that you took a calculated risk as being in the second row and they weren’t?

A: There are always guys you are hoping to be in the second row. But we are in the reality business, more than likely they are not going to be in the second row. We always are like, “Well maybe he will fall.” Sometimes they do fall. But more times than not, they are not there when you want to pick them.

Q: Did somebody surprise you by not being there?

A: Nothing surprises me in the draft. So I won’t say that I got surprised by anything that happened.

Q: Did you feel like you might have to pick DeOssie earlier than you did if you wanted to get him?

A: We did talk about DeOssie. We did talk about him in the third. But the defensive tackle had more value at that time for us. He was still there in the fourth and we were very pleased that he was still here. I think we got a real value pick right there.

Q: Are you taking tomorrow off?

A: Absolutely not. Tomorrow I have exit interviews with the scouts before they go home and then take them out to dinner tomorrow night. Then I have to try to find a replacement for Director of Player Personnel.

RE: Draft picks from West Coast Schools.

A: Look at their name, what their body of work is, Oregon State, or Arizona. Koets, obviously he has some strength issues. We think he is a really good athlete; a big kid. Everything with him is going to be strength related right now. But we do feel like he can get stronger and contribute at some point. Michael Johnson is a big safety and has played a lot out there in the PAC 10. He has a lot of range. He worked out pretty good at the Combine. He is a seventh-round pick. But again, when you get down in the seventh round you start, “What can the guy do; what does he have?” He is big, he has speed, you have to concentrate on what the people can do when you get down that far.

Q: A couple of weeks ago you said that you would make the decision if need be. Did you have to make any?

A: I think everybody was onboard pretty much with all of our picks. I think a couple of times we started nit-picking on some things down there. So I said, “Let’s not nit-pick on guys. If they are good enough and everybody likes him to a degree, let’s pick him; let’s not nit-pick.”

Q: Did you look around for Ernie at all?

A: No.

RE: Guy Whimper – has he been talked about as a right tackle?

A: He practiced at both places. He does have that athletic skill to play left tackle. No question about that.

Q: Is the answer to left tackle either Diehl or Whimper right now?

A: Right now it is.

Q: McKenzie wouldn’t shift over?

A: No. But there are still some things that we can do at left tackle. But right now if we had to go we would go with who we have.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Post-Draft Press Conference: The following is the transcript of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s post-draft press conference from earlier today:

Opening statement: For the New York Giants, the 2007 draft has just been completed. We are aggressively going into the free agency market as soon as the draft ends. We’ve had our meetings and our thorough analysis of our numbers and who the coaches and scouts are working with to try to provide some of the needed additions to our numbers.

Let me go back with you to the third round pick yesterday, Jay Alford. I did not have an opportunity to speak with you. This is a guy who we were very, very impressed with. A real penetrating inside pass rusher who I think, and (Defensive Line Coach) Mike Waufle agrees, is going to be a very good football player for the New York Giants. A guy that can play the run as well. Just very, very quick and athletic, and not only that, a guy that really wants to be a Giant. That was pretty exciting for me, that he wants to be a Giant.

Zak DeOssie, our pick in the fourth round, Zak is a guy that brings multiple versatility to your football team. He is a long snapper much as his dad was. He is a big linebacker who runs extremely well. He has outstanding numbers when you think about the combine and the things that he was able to accomplish there. He will be an outstanding special teams performer. He will be a physical linebacker much as his dad was. He runs better and will cover. If he ever becomes the long snapper, he will cover and do a good job from that standpoint. We feel like in Zak DeOssie we have a guy who fits a need obviously as a linebacker, a big linebacker, a big physical linebacker. He will also help us on all special teams but has the ability also to contribute as a long snapper.

Kevin Boss is a kid that comes from Division II football that was extremely impressive as we studied the tape. We brought him in about a week ago and had an opportunity to sit and talk with him. Mike Pope did some real serious studying with regard to Kevin Boss. He is an athletic guy that is used in multiple capacities as a receiver, as a tight end, and as a blocker at Western Oregon. He is going to have to get stronger and become a better blocker. He does have some developmental aspects to him but I think this is a guy that will help us on special teams. He is a big kid. He is going to fill out. He is going to be able to play on the point, we know he can move, and we know he can catch the ball. He can be a strong contributor in a lot of ways.

Adam Koets is an individual who played at Oregon State that has been a left tackle and is an athletic guy. He is very quick and a good pass protector. I think he will have to do some work in the weight room as well to help in the run game but he is a guy that we were very happy to see last if you will until we had a chance to talk about him and eventually pick him in the sixth round.

Michael Johnson is a big, strong safety who will come down to the line of scrimmage. He does have range from the middle of the field and who will contribute in a special teams capacity as well. He was very attractive. We were able to match a need, if you will, with a strong value in the seventh round there and so we picked Michael Johnson.

Ahmad Bradshaw is a very, very productive running back at Marshall University who caught the ball coming out of the backfield, who ran the ball. He didn’t really return kicks because quite frankly he was a guy that was very busy with the other aspects of his game in terms of being a contributor in both the run and the pass aspect of the game. Again we felt that at this point in time here is a guy who was a style of runner that we perhaps do not have and his production really was like a magnet. We were attracted to that in the seventh round with the compensatory pick. We were happy that a player of his value was still there on the board.

Overall it was four offensive players and four defensive players. We tried very much to attack the needs that we had, keeping ever mindful of the contribution that the athlete would make on special teams, of how the individuals that we bring in here would be team oriented people that would understand that their primary role is to help us, the New York Giants, succeed in whatever capacity we can initially place them in. Most of these young kids are very hungry when they first come in to have direction, and to understand exactly what their role will be when they arrive here. I look forward to this group coming to our mini camp in two weeks and then being able to stay with us in mid May right through the OTAs and on into the mandatory camp.

Q: Do you feel better about the team now after the draft?

A: There is no doubt I feel better because some of these slots that we have been anticipating trying to solve we were able to go forth and do it with regard to the draft. The draft is a time for the individual to show some patience because there is so much time in between and you see so many players come off that board that you begin to wonder whether you are going to have an opportunity to accomplish what you need to. I do feel like we did have success filling our needs along with value picks. We are excited about seeing these guys come in. Now they obviously have to come in and go to work and prove to us how in fact they will fit. You have to take your hat off to our scouts, to our scouting department, to all the work that our coaches and scouts have done with regard to grading and being in position to feel good about each one of these players and we do.

Q: Is Mathias Kiwanuka an option next season as a linebacker?

A: He is definitely an option that we are going to look at very strongly. Mathias from the defensive end position has been up and dropped a year ago. We think that our idea there is to try to get as many quality players on the field at the same time as best we can. I think he can play well in that position and as we move into the spring here we get an opportunity to spend more time on the field and in meetings where we will continue with that experiment. Gerris Wilkinson’s development is very important for us without a doubt. Kawika Mitchell is in that role and fits that position as well. When you look at DeOssie, he can play a couple of spots. He can play inside and he can play on the outside. I think that we have helped ourselves with that spot.

Q: Would Kiwanuka be a full time linebacker next season?

A: We will get into that. Let’s just take it one step at a time now. We will look at Mathias in a first and second down capacity there. Obviously we are going to use his pass rush talents and skills, whether it be third down, second and long, or whatever. In what capacity, we are going to have to take a look at how all these pieces fit together.

Q: Is David Diehl more likely to be the starting left tackle now after the draft?

A: I am not ready to say that. I have been real impressed with what has been going on with Guy Whimper here in the off-season. We have done a lot of individual things with him. He is a very, very good athlete. Obviously he has the experience of one year here which is going to help him from having an opportunity to learn the system a little bit better. We will know more about that as we move along. I am not ready to say that at this time.

Q: Did you coach Steve DeOssie?

A: I was at Boston College as an assistant when Steve was a player and of course here in New York when Steve was with us for the Giants. A tough, hard-nosed football player.

Q: Did going to Brown University hurt Zak DeOssie?

A: It did not hurt him from my standpoint right now. He is where we want him to be. Of course you do have to take into consideration level of competition. This is a big strong, fast, physical, and healthy football player that has nothing but upside. From that standpoint I see nothing wrong with where he went to school. The fact that he is here with us right now worked out very well.

Q: Is Koets at a similar level of development to where Guy Whimper was last year?
A: I don’t know if similar is the right word. Whimper was a defensive end, he didn’t have a lot of time at offensive tackle when we drafted him. Koets has been an offensive left tackle. He is very athletic. He has been in a good scheme where an awful lot has been thrown at him. He, like Whimper, has a good test score so I think he will pick it up very fast. Hopefully he has advanced.

Q: Is there anything different with Jerry Reese as General Manager this year?

A: When Jerry came on board it was a very smooth transition. Jerry is a hands-on guy who incorporates everyone. Every facet of the team is included in every decision. The draft was conducted that way and all the meetings have been conducted that way. Jerry’s style is a very, very admirable style. He is upfront. I’ve always been impressed with the way Jerry has run the draft even before he became General Manager. That particular style of how the draft is run continued this year as well.

Q: Is Alford more of a three technique kind of guy rather than a nose tackle?

A: He has played over the center. He has a very, very quick move which is something that jumps right out at you. First of all his sack total for his career was very productive compared to some of the other guys at that position. He has played on the nose, or on the center, and he has played very effectively there, but he has also played in the three technique position. His versatility is something we will take advantage of. Certainly on third down he can play at either spot. I would say probably at this point in time in first and second down he would be a three technique. We are going to get him in here and get him on the weight program and he will come in at 304 or 305 right now and probably maybe when we go to camp 307 or 308 with that quickness which is really going to help.

Q: Are you going into the season looking for a veteran left tackle?

A: I don’t think you ever stop looking for anything. I just think you continue the process as best you can under any capacity. You never stop looking for better players. Just as I don’t think you are ever satisfied with the draft, you are never satisfied with free agency, and you are never satisfied with where you are, that attitude continues even after the draft.

Q: Are you nervous about the left tackle position?

A: We are going to certainly spend the next few weeks as we move on into the spring here and work at that position. Of course when Koets comes in here it will be even better. We are obviously going to continue to try to find the right combination for our front.

Q: Would you agree that you had a good draft in regard to player character?

A: I think so. As has been stated before that has always been a very strong consideration and I think that it continued to be that way in this year’s draft.

Q: Did you investigate the character issues with Ahmad Bradshaw?

A: We did and we interviewed him at the Combine. We talked to a lot of people. We talked to his Head Coach who gave him a strong endorsement as far as a young man. There were no problems for him.

Q: Can the first four guys you selected come in and look to start this season?

A: Well, hopefully they can. I think you always say that. It is going to be very competitive and very difficult for them. You certainly expect a lot out of your draft class and for these guys nothing less will be expected of them. They will come in and compete and then let the best man win. They are brought here for a reason and they certainly are going to make a strong contribution whether or not they are starters or however they fit. Eventually you have to use them all.

Apr 282007
 

Day One of the New York Giants 2007 NFL Draft: The first day of the 2007 NFL Draft concluded for the New York Giants tonight with the team selecting the following players:

  • First Round: CB Aaron Ross (University of Texas)
  • Second Round: WR Steve Smith (USC)
  • Third Round: DT Jay Alford (Penn State University)

To see our scouting reports on these three players as well as what General Manager Jerry Reese, Head Coach Tom Coughlin, and the players picked had to say, see our 2007 NFL Draft Review section of the website.

Apr 282007
 
New York Giants 2007 NFL Draft: Final Pre-Draft Thoughts and Predictions

by KWALL for BigBlueInteractive.com

Here are some of the potential targets for the Giants in rounds 1-4.

Round One:

Safeties Reggie Nelson, Brandon Merriweather, Michael Griffin: OK. Nelson is probably gone. If we catch a break and Nelson is there, you pick him and we move on. Nelson is a top-10 talent. Immediate difference maker for any team. Merriweather is right there with Nelson. Both guys will dominate at safety and offer corner help. A lot of value there. Merriweather has off-field stuff that may push him down especially with the new commissioner playing hard ball on off field problems.

Defenisve tackle Alan Branch: This John Henderson-type is now projected in that #20 range. If he’s healthy, he has to get a lot of consideration. All depends on what they want at defensive tackle right now – a massive space eater like Branch or do they want a more disruptive penetrator? My guess is he doesn’t get past the Bengals at #18.

Linebackers Lawrence Timmons and Jon Beason: I believe the Giants will have their choice of any outside linebacker in the draft. I also believe their choice will be to pass on any first-round outside linebacker.

Offensive guard Ben Grubbs: This could be the surprise pick. Big question is “Are the Giants comfortable with David Diehl/Guy Whimper at left tackle?” If they are, we can forget tackles Joe Staley or Levi Brown. And if they are, what does it say about the move to bring in Leonard Davis? In my opinion, Davis would have been a guard for the Giants, not a left tackle. We lost to Dallas on Leonard (where he will play guard). Does that leave a hole at guard for the Giants? The #1 guard on the board will be there at #20. It would allow us to build a very strong run blocking interior for Brandon Jacobs. Building the team around Jacobs makes sense to me. A superior run-blocking interior will makes it easier on Eli Manning and it will improve the red zone TD percentage. Don’t be surprised if Grubbs is our man in the first round.

Tight end Greg Olsen: I would love this pick so we can go two TE-sets with Jacobs. Olsen is one of the few match-up advantages you can find in this draft. He’s the only one at tight end. Olsen/Shockey in two TE-sets. We can move them around and split them in the slot. It would be a match-up nightmare and give Eli another short/intermediate area option. Olsen also has elite speed for the position to keep the safeties honest. His blocking isn’t great? Who cares? He has size. You can teach him to block better. Dick Vermeil says teaching a tight end to block is one of the easiest things to do in the NFL.

Defensive tackle Justin Harrell: Very tough run plugger. I’m OK with this pick but only with a trade down.

Defensive tackle Amobi Okoye: I think he drops. Teams will back away from making a big commitment to a kid who is not ready for full-time duty in the NFL. He’s going to struggle versus the run.

Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe: He’ll be there. Big and strong wide receiver. Anquan Boldin-type. He can do a lot of things Amani Toomer does. He’ll work the middle. He’ll catch the slants. He’ll block. With all of the wide receiver depth in the mid-rounds I would pass on Bowe in the first round. I love him as a player. But I think we can find starter talent at wide receiver later in the draft.

Wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett: He’ll be there but he should be off the round-one board at this point. Nobody will take him in round 1.

My pick: If Nelson is there he’s the easy pick. If not, I go with Branch at #20. If Branch is gone, we take Merriweather at #20 or swing a small trade down for Merriweather or Griffin.

Round Two:

Cornerbacks Jonathan Wade, Josh Wilson, Eric Wright, Marcus McCauley: Wade and Wilson are a little short. Lack of height may push them into round 3. Probably a reach for these players at #51. Wright could be a homerun round 2 pick. Excellent size/speed with Wright. Limited experience with only about 12 college starts. Plenty of off-the-field baggage could eliminate Wright for the Giants. McCauley has elite measurables but his senior year was terrible. I’d rather not pick a guy who was benched just a few months back. I think they’ll pass on all of these second-round cornerbacks.

Safeties Tanard Jackson and Eric Weddle: If they don’t go safety in round one, here are two guys who should have a huge NYG bulls’ eye on their chests. Both are talented enough to be premier coverage safeties and help at cornerback. Draftdaddy.com believes Weddle has cornerback-starter skills in the NFL. I think he’s better at safety. Both would be outstanding round-2 draft picks.

Wide receivers Craig Davis, Dewayne Jarrett, and Jason Hill: Jarrett is a round-2 prospect at this point. #51 may be a little low for him but I think it’s going to be really close. There is a lot of WR-talent in this draft. He could slide to the Giants at 51. Hill is a solid possession WR with surprising timed speed. Davis has excellent hands and speed.

Running back Brian Leonard: A lot to like here. Versatility, speed, and hands make him a match-up problem. Giants could use one. Leonard is a no-risk round-2 pick.

Linebackers Stewart Bradley and Justin Durant: Bradley will be a rookie starter somewhere. Durant has speed and can play any inside or out.

Tight end Zach Miller: He’ll be there at #51. Had round-1 production but, like Jarrett, did not time like a first rounder. Good player. Already a strong blocker. Can’t stretch the seam in the NFL but he has #1 TE ability. He certainly is a step down from Olsen, but he is a guy who would allow us to go 2-TE and step in if Shockey is injured again.

My pick: Giants consider linebacker help. Eventually they make a move for Jarrett. Possibly a slight trade up to get him. Dwayne Jarrett is the man in round 2. If Jarrett is out of the picture, the Giants pick Brian Leonard.

Round Three:

Offensive guards Manuel Ramirez, Josh Beekman, Andy Alleman: If they feel the need for a guard, here are a few round 3 targets. Ramirez seems like a perfect fit for this team.

Defensive tackles Brandon Mebane, Paul Soliai: Mebane is a quick penetrator. Soliai an enormous 2-gapper.

Linebackers Rufus Alexander, Justin Durant, Quincy Black: Alexander dropped because of subpar workout and size. But he fits a need at outside linebacker. Durant and Black are two of the top athletes at linebacker in the draft.

Wide receivers James Jones, Paul Williams, Laurent Robinson: All three have #1 wide receiver skills.

Running back Lorenzo Booker: Explosive change-of-pace and receiving threat out of backfield.

Cornerback Usama Young: One of the top athletes at the position and a 4-year starter.

Tight end Ben Patrick: Still developing. #1 tight end tools.

My pick: A lot of guard talent could be there. I’d be very happy with a mauler like Ramirez. Black at linebacker is certainly in the mix. Just too tough to pass on defensive tackle Mebane from CAL. Giants go for the disruptive defensive tackle. Mebane is the pick.

Round Four:

Safeties Marvin White, Brannen Condren, Melvin Bullitt: Three explosive hitters at safety.

Cornerbacks Kenny Scott, Courtney Brown, John Bowie: Three more elite athletes at cornerback with 4.3 speed.

Running back Kolby Smith: I believe the guy has NFL starter tools.

Linebackers Rory Johnson, Kyle Shotwell, Stephen Nicholas: Outside linebacker depth is needed. All three fit the bill.

My pick: If Giants pass on a safety early, Marvin White is the guy. I believe the Giants know they must upgrade over Will Demps and they do it with a true difference maker early. So I expect a safety in rounds 1-3. With a new starting safety already on the roster, the Giants pick linebacker Rory Johnson in round 4.

Four-Round Mock:

Rd 1: S Reggie Nelson
Rd 2: WR Dwayne Jarrett
Rd 3: DT Brandon Mebane
Rd 4: OLB Rory Johnson

Apr 282007
 

New York Giants Re-Sign DT Titus Adams: According to NFLPA.org, the Giants have re-signed exclusive rights free agent DT Titus Adams to a 1-year, $360,000 contract (this was probably his tender).

2007 NFL Draft Begins Today: The 2007 NFL Draft begins today at 12 noon EST. The first three round of the draft will occur on Saturday. The draft resumes at 11:00AM on Sunday with the final four rounds.

Heading into the draft, the Giants have eight selections. To see where the Giants pick, check out the 2007 NFL Draft Review section of the website.

Articles on the New York Giants and the 2007 NFL Draft:

Apr 262007
 
New York Giants 2007 NFL Draft Preview: Offensive Line

by KWALL for BigBlueInteractive.com

The interest and offer to unrestricted free agent Leonard Davis, who signed with the Cowboys, means something. I believe he was slated for guard duty with the Giants. And the move to land Davis made a lot of sense. If the Giants really believe in Jacobs (they should), then a adding a massive interior OL is the way to go. The strength of the Chiefs’ team the past 5+ years was at guard. These interior linemen were the reason for the enormous success of the run game with Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson. Jacobs is a very unique talent. He is the only 260+ lb hammer at RB in the NFL. In the right situation he can give us Larry Johnson-type production. He’s the guy they should build the offense around. And the best way to do that is with an inside mauler. And that is what I believe they were trying to do with the Leonard Davis. They wanted to give Jacobs another mauler to follow. This draft has several intriguing guard prospects in the second round. Giants should also have the option of drafting the #1 guard in the draft at #20. So don’t throw the remote if Giants go offensive guard very early. It is never a bad idea to add an enormous and talented offensive lineman to your football team.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE:

Joe Thomas, 6’7″, 311lbs, Wisconsin (Combine: 40: 4.92, 10:1.75, bench: 28, vert: 33″, SS: 4.88, 3 cone: 7.95): 35+ starts. Won Outland Trophy as best OL in college. #1 pass blocker LT in draft. A top shot and discus guy. Head Coach said he’s one of the best athletes he’s ever had at Wisconsin. Tall. Quick. Strong. Competitive. Smart. Consistent. No chance for Giants. Top 5 pick.

Levi Brown, 6’6″, 325lbs, Penn State (Combine: 40: 5.40, 10:1.84, bench: 31, vert: 25.5″, SS: 4.89, 3 cone: 7.87): I’ve seen a lot top-10 projections. NFL Draft Scout said he could go as high as #2 in the draft. They currently have him at #9 overall. An athletic and long-armed OT prospect. Tough kid who plays through injuries. Brown is a very strong run blocker. Considered best run-blocking OT in the draft. Went to the Senior Bowl and impressed in pass blocking drills. Pat Kirwan at NFL.com called him the “most impressive player at Senior Bowl”. However, some, including BBIs Phil in LA, feel he lacks the pass protection skills and feet to play LT in the NFL. The guys at Northwestscouting.com agree with Phil. They compare Brown to Bengals’ RT Willie Anderson and said he “lacks the feet and blocking range of an elite Left Tackle at the next level…over-rated a little by those in desperate need of a Weakside Tackle. He is, however, an outstanding NFL Strongside Tackle prospect…” Mike Mayock said there are mixed opinions of Brown. According to Mayock, NFL coaches love his size and strength but the NFL personnel people aren’t as high on him. Recently, we heard some NYG talk with Brown as the #20 pick. I don’t think he’ll be there. Round 1.

Joe Staley, 6’6″, 305lbs, Central Michigan (Combine: no workout. Pro Day: 40: 4.79, 10:1.64, bench: 27, vert: 32″, SS: 4.40, 3 cone: 7.09): Kiper and Rang have him as the pick at #20 for the Giants. Three year starter. Former TE with speed and impressive athletic ability. Long arms too. Off the chart grade athlete for the position. However, level of competition is an issue. Didn’t play versus top players. When he got to the Senior Bowl versus top players he didn’t look like a first rounder during practice and almost killed a couple of QBs during the game. Entered college as a 220lb TE. Needs more bulk but may have maxed out. A project. Won’t be ready for a while. And that is too much risk for a first rounder for the Giants. Round 1.

Tony Ugoh, 6’5″, 301lbs, Arkansas (Combine: 40: 5.06, 10:1.71, bench: 32, vert: 32.5″, no shuttles): Another plus athlete at OT. College track guy in shot and discus. 30+ starts but still need strength work and coaching. Thin legs. Can probably use another 20lbs to handle NFL work. Struggled at Senior Bowl in pass rush drills. Not ready to play in the NFL. Upside and athletic as a future LT gets him drafted late in round 2.

James Marten, 6’8″, 309lbs, Boston College (Combine: 40: 5.08, 10:1.72, vert: 30.5″, SS: 4.54, 3 cone: 7.68 Pro Day: Bench: 25): BC continues to produce tough OL prospects. Marten is another one with day-one potential. Played guard and LT at BC. Not athletic enough for LT duty on the next level. 34″ arms. Can beat him with speed. Played RT at Senior Bowl. Future RT or guard in NFL. Giants shouldn’t have much interest here. Round 3.

Doug Free, 6’6″, 324lbs, Northern Illinois (Combine: 40: 5.19, 10:1.78, bench: 22, vert: 30″, SS: 4.53, 3 cone: 7.38): 45+ starts. Entered 06 as one of the top OT prospects in country and potential top 50 pick. Didn’t play up to it. Rough year in 06. Injuries may have played a part with reports he played the year on a stress fracture. His game was exposed at Shrine Game. I recall the term “turnstile” was used to describe his showing against the fringe NFL talent at DE in Shrine. Some thought he was a Staley-type athlete. Not close. Still a plus athlete for OT but not elite. Late round 3 or early day 2.

Marshall Yanda, 6’4″, 307lbs, Iowa (Combine: 40: 5.15, 10:1.69, bench: 23, vert: 27″, SS: 4.58, 3 cone: 7.36): JUCO. 20+ starts at LT and RT. Improving player with upside. Needs to add strength and bulk. Probably a guard in the NFL. Quick off the ball. Will excel on pull and getting to the 2nd level. Round 4.

Ryan Harris, 6’5″, 305lbs, Notre Dame (Combine: 40: 5.09, 10:1.75, bench: 22, vert: 25.5″, SS: 4.52, 3 cone: 7.78): Four-year starter with 45 starts at ND. Head Coach Weiss says he’s a LT in the NFL. Might be nothing more than a coach touting his guy. Not sure if he can handle NFL speed on the edge. He sure couldn’t handle it from Purdue DE Anthony Spencer. Abused all week at Senior Bowl. Not a day one player. Round 4+.

OFFENSIVE GUARD:

Ben Grubbs, 6’2″, 315lbs, Auburn (Combine: 40: 5.18, 10:1.80, bench: 29, vert: 26.5″, SS: 4.72, 3 cone: 7.99): 30+ starts at guard after moving from TE. Excellent size and athletic. Smart. Tough. Strong. Quick. High effort player. Can maul and has the feet to pull. Can pull short or long. Hits guys on the move and in space. Outstanding in every phase of the game. Best interior OL at Senior Bowl. Improved draft value with a solid all around week at Senior Bowl. Moved him into round 1. #1 guard in draft. Round 1 in the 20-30 range.

Justin Blalock, 6’3″, 320lbs, Texas (Combine: 40: 5.10, 10:1.73, bench: 40, vert: 25.5″, SS: 4.72, 3 cone: 7.75): 50 starts for Texas. 40+ at RT. Played guard and tackle and Senior Bowl but best play was at guard position. He a future OG in the NFL. TSN called him the most athletic guard in the draft. Great drive blocker as well. Strong hands to jolt DL. Gets plenty of movement of the snap. Short yardage and red zone factor. Lacks ideal height but thick and powerful. Combine best 40 benches. NFL Draft Scout compares him to Jammal Brown. Day one starter at guard. Round 2.

Arron Sears, 6’3″, 320lbs, Tennessee (Pro Day: 40: 5.09, 10:1.74, bench: 21, vert: 30.5″, SS: 4.50, 3 cone: 7.63): Versatile player. Played all over OL at Tennessee. Most of playing time at left tackle (25 starts). Height is a drawback at OT. Probably move inside in the NFL to give you a powerful and mobile force at OG. Explosive off the line with plenty of pop. Hard working player. Finishes blocks. Only 21 bench. Needs upper body work. Round 2.

Andy Alleman, 6’4″, 305lbs, Akron (Combine: 40: 5.07, 10:1.71, bench: 27, vert: 30″, SS: 4.65, 3 cone: 7.80): Started college career as a DE at PIT. After 2 seasons at PIT, he transferred to Akron to play OL. 24 starts at Akron. Very strong player with a 595lb squat. Northwest Scouting says, “Plays with a mean streak. Gets good movement and can really push the pile in the run game. Pulls and can get to second level blocks very well.” Alleman has very quick feet and impressive agility for a 300lb player. 4.38 SS and 7.44 s cone at his pro day. Fastest shuttles in this draft at OL. With only two years of OL experience he’ll need a little time but all of the tools are there to be a future NFL starter for years. Late round 2/early round 3.

Manuel Ramirez, 6’3″, 326lbs, Texas Tech (Combine: Injured. Only bench: 40): Four year starter. Smart. Made all of the line calls for the past two seasons. Thick base. Physical and very strong. 550lb bench. 780lb squat. Once he locks on it’s over. Power run blocker. Played in pass heavy offense at Texas Tech. A lot of pass protection. He held his own. Impressed in pass block drills at Senior Bowl. Extremely effective in close quarters. A pile mover and classic mauler. Texas Tech scored a large percentage of rush TDs in the red zone thanks to Ramirez. Round 3. Nice fit for the Giants and Jacobs.

Cameron Stephenson, 6’3″, 306lbs, Rutgers (Combine: 40: 5.40, 10:1.81, bench: 34, vert: 28.5″, SS: 4.81, 3 cone: 7.72): JUCO DT. Only one year at guard for Rutgers. Led the way to 180+ yards/game for RU. Thick and strong. Plays hard. Very effective on the short pull for Rutgers. An emerging player. May need a little time because of lack of experience. A real sleeper in this draft. Wasn’t on the draft radar before big season in 06. Now a mid round pick and could slide up to round 4.

OFFENSIVE CENTER: The Giants shouldn’t have much interest at center. There are only two day-one prospects.

Ryan Kalil, 6’3″, 299lbs, USC (Combine: 40: 4.96, 10:1.71, bench: 34, vert: 26″, SS: 4.34, 3 cone: 7.50): As athletic as any center prospect in 5+ years. Very quick feet. Can pull short and long. Can get to second level and hammer moving targets. Son of a former NFL center. Knows the game and all of the tricks. Mayock said he’s the “best technician in the draft” at OL. Strong for his size. Only negative is lack of bulk. Maybe not “enough sand in his pants” as they say. May struggle with massive NT like Casey Hampton in Pittsburgh. Obvious NFL comparison: TOM NALEN. Could sneak into round 1.

Samson Satele, 6’3″, 300lb, Hawaii (Combine: 40: 5.24, 10:1.75, bench: 25, vert: 33″, SS: 4.29, 3 cone: 7.47): Four-year starter with 50+ starts at center, guard and tackle. Moved to center in senior year and crushed opponents on a weekly basis. Didn’t allow a tackle in seven games in 06. Aggressive and physical. Explosive (33″ vertical). Excellent in pass protection. Versatile player. Can play guard in the NFL. Short arms at under 31″ are a disadvantage. Round 2/early round 3.

Apr 252007
 
My Thoughts on the New York Giants 2007 NFL Draft

by YANKEE27 for BigBlueInteractive.com

For about the past 45 years, I have been closely following the NFL draft, and more specifically, trying to determine the Giants annual draft strategy. The anticipation never dulls and hope springs eternal that this will be the year that the Giants make all the right choices and dramatically improve their team in a 48 hour period of calculated moves, great decisions, and a little luck.

Though I have suggested it many times in previous years, this year I am particularly intrigued with the prospect of Trading Down. How intrigued?? How about Trading Down TWICE? For me, it’s hard to recall a prior years draft that has had so much similar talent and risk from pick #20 to pick #40. I can’t ever recall even thinking about Trading Down twice in a single year’s draft, but this Saturday, I would strongly recommend such a move be made. The Giants have a good number of needs that must be addressed and I think that two draft day trades could provide the opportunity to fill those needs.

TRADE ONE – I would trade the Giants top pick (#20) to the New Orleans Saints for 3 picks (#27, #88, and #163). The Saints got the steal of the 2006 Draft with the selection of Marques Colston, but they could really use another top receiver since Devery Henderson and Terrance Cooper have been inconsistent. I think the Saints would love to get a player, especially a local player like LSU’s Dwayne Bowe.

TRADE TWO – The Atlanta Falcons are chock full of draft picks, and new Coach Bobby Petrino was a former assistant for Tom Coughlin. The Falcons have the 8th overall pick, as well as the 39th and 44th and three 4th rounders. If the Giants were to trade their newly acquired #27, it would be worth the Falcons #39, #109, and #121 picks.

Completing these two trades would leave the Giants without a first rounder, but would give them two picks in Round Two, two picks in Round Three, and three picks in Round Four. That’s seven picks out of the top 121 in the draft, and also would leave us with five picks in Rounds 5, 6, and 7.

Now what do we do with those 12 picks?

#39 – With all of our needs, someone of great value is bound to fall to us at this point. Frankly, I’d be looking at the best player available (BPA), regardless of position. Preseason favorites like FS Brandon Meriweather and WR Dwayne Jarrett could still be around, as well as some really incredible Offensive Line talent such as Justin Blaylock, Tony Ugoh, or Aaron Sears. There is also a chance that a very productive college player like SS Michael Griffin or RB Brian Leonard could be available at that point. That’s seven players I wouldn’t mind having as Giants – and you can rest assured that at least one of them will be available to us with the 39th pick.

#51 – The Giants have a strong need to add a solid corner at this point, and I would be happy to get any of either Eric Wright, Jon Wade, or Marcus McCauley. At least one of them will be available at this point in the draft.

#81 – Depending on who we take at #39 (I’m assuming it will be Brandon Meriweather), we will have a strong need for a wide receiver at this point. General Manager Jerry Reese talked about his interest in players with college production, and WR Mike Walker certainly fits that requirement. If the Giants did end up with Dwayne Jarrett at #39, I would instead use pick #81 on FS Josh Gattis of Wake Forest.

#88 – The Giants have a need for a linebacker, and I really like the way South Florida’s Stephen Nicholas reads plays and tackles. Having an extra pick in Round Three is probably the difference in getting Nicholas, since I think he will be gone by the time the Giants get to the 4th Round. I have not seen Antwan Barnes play, but all reports on him have been outstanding and his Combine results also make him a linebacker worth considering at this point in the draft.

#109 – Last year, the Giants used their 4th round picks on tackles, and I would love to follow that strategy again. With our first pick in Round Four, I’d be looking for a left tackle, and two who have plenty of big time college experience should be available in Purdue’s Mike Otto and Boston College’s James Marten.

#116 – I think the Giants need another space eating Defensive Tackle, and two very good ones should be available between Paul Soliai and Ryan McBean. Soliai is actually a former teammate and blocker (he was a Guard before switching to DT) for Brandon Jacobs in college.

#121 – The Giants need a replacement for Visanthe Shiancoe, and there should be good options available here with Matt Spaeth, Kevin Boss (I have never seen Boss play), and Joe Newton.

#153 – If the Giants could pull off the two trades I’ve suggested, it gives room to take a chance on a player. I’d like to take an offensive player here, and one that has the potential to have a huge upset and become a “playmaker.” Players like Yamon Figurs, Laurent Robinson, Jackie Battle, and even a blocking fullback like Cory Anderson all fit the bill for a player that could help make our offense special.

#163 – Many years ago, I ran a Father/Son Ecumenical Breakfast with the Giants’ Chad Bratzke. Chad told me how he thought he was going to get cut in his rookie season, and tried to impress Giants Head Coach Dan Reeves by performing a standing back-flip. Coach Reeves was impressed, and would later tell Bratzke that he might have made his team because of his showing of athleticism that day. Fast forward to 2007, and we have the much talked about DT Walter Thomas. Thomas was heavily recruited by many schools and originally attended Oklahoma State, before leaving because of poor grades. I couldn’t believe it when I watched the tape of Thomas performing the same stunt as Bratzke – a standing back-flip. The only difference is that Bratzke did it at 275 lbs, while I saw Thomas do it at 375 lbs. Thomas, at 6’5″, has the DT height that Coach Mike Waufle loves and is a risk I would take on this unique specimen of an underclassman who has entered this year’s draft.

#189 – The Giants have moved to a power running game, and one of my favorite power running backs in this draft is former Rutgers player Justice Hairston. Hairston has never seen a linebacker he didn’t enjoy trying to run over, and he adds more of the same to our 2007 pounding running attack.

#224 – Many Giants fans have really come to enjoy the tough play of linebacker Chase Blackburn, and a faster version of Blackburn is available in Matt Muncy of Ohio. A very sure tackler and special team’s demon, Muncy is the type of player that makes your team because of his consistency and never-say-die attitude.

#250 – Since Tom Coughlin joined the Giants, the team has had a Boston College draft connection. This year Boston College played Maine, and I’m certain that the Giants have plenty of information on two outstanding Maine defenders SS Daren Stone and DT Mike DeVito. Stone has the size and speed to succeed at the next level.

So there you have it, my 2007 Draft Wish List.

However the draft turns out, it will certainly be another draft weekend of multiple TV’s, multiple computers, and, hopefully, multiple cheered selections for our newest Giants.

********** A FEW DRAFT NOTES AND OPINIONS*********

  • I think the Giants will stay away from DT Antonio Johnson and TE Martrez Milner – since both players are represented by agent Bus Cook
  • I wasn’t thrilled with the interference of Archie Manning in our draft a few years ago, and I hope the Giants don’t select WR Craig Davis of LSU this year in a similar fashion. I have nothing against Davis, who is actually a very fine player. Manning has had Davis work at his Manning summer football camps for years, and Archie has become a close personal friend and huge advocate of Davis. I’d rather see the Giants use their best internal resources to find a wide receiver, and hope the strong opinions of Archie have no bearing on our selection. If we select Davis, I will always think the decision was influenced by Archie.
  • My favorite player in this years draft is LB Patrick Willis.

**********The hours after the draft are a critical time to sign undrafted rookie free agents, and I hope the Giants consider the following ten players:

Rutgers CB Joey Porter: Perhaps the fastest player in this years draft and a local kid worth a shot.

Clemson CB Duane Coleman: Coleman messed up big time when he was suspended before his Bowl Game, but he is an experienced player that worked under former Defensive Coordinator John Lovett – a close personal friend of our new Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who may have an inside perspective on his potential.

Connecticut FB Deon Anderson: One of the hardest hitting fullbacks you will find that has a legitimate chance to make a final roster.

Cal Poly LB Kyle Shotwell: Anyone that can make over 350 tackles in a college career is worth a shot, regardless of the level of competition.

Harvard RB Clifton Dawson: New Giants Offensive Quality Control Coach Sean Ryan was the running backs coach at Harvard last year. Nobody knows more about Dawson than Sean Ryan, and he should have the inside track in convincing him to sign here.

Stanford FS David Lofton: The son of the great James Lofton has been a late bloomer in his football career. He had been a favorite of Coach Tom Quinn at Stanford, and Quinn is now the Special Teams Coordinator for the Giants.

South Carolina C Chris White: A massive center that was recruited by current Giants coach Dave DeGuglielmo, White will need to show he has the speed to play at the next level.

Nevada TE Anthony Pudewell: The Giants don’t throw much to their second tight end, and Pudewell best attribute is his run blocking.

Jacksonville State CB Montae Pitts: A huge corner with great speed, Pitts is a small school project with a lot of tools that can be developed.

Boston College S Ryan Glasper: Anyone that has won the Jay McGillis Scholarship Award has a chance with Tom Coughlin. Glasper has had some tough injuries, and hurt himself greatly with a recent arrest outside a bar, but is still considered a great leader and high character guy.

Apr 252007
 

Reggie Torbor Signs His Tender: According to NFLPA.org and The Daily News, restricted free agent LB Reggie Torbor has signed his 1-year, $850,000 tender.

New York Giants Injury Update: LB Antonio Pierce said he underwent surgery last month to repair torn ligaments in his right index finger, which he played with all of last season. The right hand was also broken.

WR Amani Toomer, who underwent knee surgery to repair an ACL last season, says he is recovering well and expects to be able to participate in summer training camp practices. “I’m running,” said Toomer. “I’m just trying to get my conditioning together like I’d ordinarily do at this time of the year, trying to start sprinting again and trying to get everything going again. It is a serious injury, but I think the way that the injury has progressed, it hasn’t been – a lot of people have come back from it and done the same if not better. It’s not an injury that’s going to affect me, because actually the joint was a lot better than what they anticipated because of the years I’ve been in the league. There was no arthritis or anything. That’s the key factor in why I think that I’ll be able to come back…I think my knee will be 100 percent. I don’t have any reservations. I think I’m progressing really well. Everything is going in the right direction. I’m not afraid. I’m planning on playing in the first couple of games, being in training camp, participating and competing just like I do every year.”

Players Like Steve Spagnuolo’s Defense: LB Antonio Pierce and a couple of other Giants had some nice things to say about new Defensive Coordinator John Spagnuolo yesterday.

“I don’t want to say ‘arrogant,’ but he’s got a little pizazz about him,” said Pierce. “He’s walking around, he’s got his shirt unbuttoned, got a little chain on. He looks like he’s kind of short, but he has a tall stature, how he carries himself. Very humble, he didn’t come in here and try to blow everybody off. He’s tried to get to know everybody…He’s a real straightforward guy. I’ve talked to him a lot. I think (his defense) is going to be fun…You look at what he did in Philly…That defense, when he was there, was always in the top and among the defenses that were feared in the league. That’s something that we need over here. Because as much points or yards as your offense puts up, we need something on the defensive side of the ball. As long as he can make something happen with the linebackers and the defense, I’m happy with it.”

Pierce believes the Giants will run more of a traditional 4-3 defense under Spagnuolo, rather than former Defensive Coordinator Tim Lewis’ 4-3/3-4 hybrid. “Even though we were considered a 4-3 defense, we used a lot of 3-4 variations,” said Pierce. “That ticked off a lot of guys especially our (defensive) ends. I think this will be more suited for what we’ve got. Our ends can stay outside and let our linebackers and safeties create hell, and see what our corners can do…I’m betting we’re going to be more aggressive than the last two years. I’m hoping our D-linemen will get double-digit sacks. It all goes to our rush, anyway. You give a quarterback three, four seconds to make a throw, somebody’s gonna get open.”

“As a player, you always want to be put in the best position possible,” Pierce said. “(Spagnuolo’s) an Eagle guy. You can tell he’ll take a lot from (Eagles’ Defensive Coordinator) Jim Johnson, and then add his own stuff. After watching Philly for several years, you see what kind of hell and and madness they do with the Giants, blitzing and all that stuff. We won’t be identical to Philly. I’m not Trotter, and we don’t have Jevon Kearse. But we’re going to do it with what we’ve got on our team.”

“I know that our defensive line coach, coach (Mike) Waufle, is very excited about him,” said DE Osi Umenyiora. “He said it’s going to more defensive-line friendly. Last year we were kind of playing like a hybrid 3-4 defense. We were put into situations that were not conducive to speed rushers. He said it’s more defensive line friendly. I’m going off of him. I’m excited if Waufle’s excited.”

“I love (the new defensive scheme),” said CB Sam Madison. “There are some other guys around here that are going to like it, too. It’s something that I’m very used to and I think I can help some of these other guys with it, too. It gives you an opportunity to make a lot of plays. It’s aggressive. It’s very aggressive, so guys will be happy with it if they go out and learn it and apply their skills to it. It can be very successful.”

Article on the New York Giants and the 2007 NFL Draft: Whirlwind Before Draft by Thayer Evans of The New York Times

Notes and Quotes: The Journal News is reporting that there are rumors that the Giants might trade down as many as six spots in the first round in order to obtain an extra 3rd or 4th-round draft pick.

QB Eli Manning will begin to throwing to his receivers in two weeks, that is, the receivers who will be present. TE Jeremy Shockey and WR Plaxico Burress are still no-shows to the offseason strength training and conditioning program. Manning said he would like to get everyone together before the Organized Team Activity (OTA) days begin. “We’re off next week from workouts, so really it’ll be two weeks,” Manning said. “I’ve been in contact with all the receivers and I informed them that’s when we’re going to start up and I’d like to have everybody back then. Hopefully we’ll have a good showing and get some good work in before these practices start up…It’s not going to burn out anybody. Just getting in the flow of things so when you come into (OTA’s and mini-camp) you’re not rusty and you can get into it a little bit better.”

New Quarterbacks Coach Chris Palmer has been working with Manning on his mechanics. “(Palmer) knows a lot of footwork stuff, and he’s got a lot of good ideas for quarterbacks,” Manning said. “He’s got a lot of drills that will help us out…Everybody has different ways of doing different drills. Sometimes it’s good to do different drills. It all accomplishes the same thing. He has a different way of describing it, a different way, different bags, different drills. It keeps it exciting and new.”

LB Gerris Wilkinson on whether or not he can fill the hole at weakside linebacker: “I definitely feel I can step into that role…I feel like I’ve progressed from last year, gotten stronger in the weight room, just gotten a better grasp for playing at this level. I feel like once we finish…mini-camp I’ll go into training camp ready to be a starting linebacker.”

SS Gibril Wilson on his goals for 2007: “I’m on a mission this year. I feel like I have something to prove…I didn’t do a thing (the last two seasons). That has to change.”

Apr 242007
 
New York Giants 2007 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Line

by KWALL for BigBlueInteractive.com

Giants’ DT Fred Robbins played his best ball as a Giant in 2006. The Giants could use another year like that from Robbins. Rookie Barry Cofield proved to be one of the best day 2 picks in the 2006 draft. I liked the pick at the time. Cofield was athletic enough to play some DE in college. And in college he was an effective pass rusher from the interior. I expected more of a pass rush from him last season. I think he’ll improve in his second season and give us more on the field in 2007. Recent addition of unrestricted free agent DT Marcus Bell really helps. He’s a veteran big body to occupy blockers and can give us 20-30 snaps a game. We could probably use another defensive tackle. If the cards fall right, the Giants may have an interesting call to make with the first round pick. Alan Branch is a top-10 talent, but he may have a minor medical red flag and could drop to the Giants. Tom Coughlin was the head coach in Jacksonville when the drafted massive defensive tackles Marcus Stroud and John Henderson. Branch is a similar player. Will Coughlin push for a dominating monster on the inside of the DL? If the legs check out, I’d love to see Branch on the Giants.

DT prospects are extremely difficult to project into the NFL especially the undersized tackles. College football has plenty of guys who effectively pressure the QB and produce sacks from the DT position. Very few can move up and do it in the NFL. Every year we hear about the next Warren Sapp but these guys rarely work out. How about the highly regarded DT Brodrick Bunkley, the #1 DT in 2006 draft? Another 10+ sack DT in college. He also had the elite measurables to match the stellar play. He looked like a “can’t-miss” DT prospect. And that’s what they’re saying about Amobi Okoye now. Bunkley is bigger, stronger, and faster than Okoye. He had more production in college. More experience versus top competition in college. How was Bunkley in the NFL? How about 0 sacks and 6 tackles for the year as a rookie for the Eagles. I think Okoye may be looking at a comparable rookie experience.

The defensive end class is very strong – possibly the deepest and most talented position in this draft. It is top heavy with 10+ DEs to go in rounds 1-2. Are the Giants in the market for another edge rusher? I don’t think so. However, I sure didn’t think they were last year. With Strahan nearing the end and Tuck as a question mark, the Giants could surprise again and pick up DE on day one of the draft. Just like the Kiwi pick, the draft value at DE may be too hard to pass for the Giants.

Here are some of the best players on the defensive line:

DEFENSIVE TACKLE:

Alan Branch, 6’6″, 325lbs, Michigan (Combine: 40: 5.07, 10: 1.68, bench: 33, Vert: 27.5″, no shuttles): Early entry but this player is physically ready to battle inside in the NFL. Massive DT in the John Henderson mold with height, bulk, and strength. Can play NT in 3-4 or 2-gap in 4-3. Also played some DE at Michigan. Bulls his way into the backfield and hammers ball carriers. Hits with power. His big hits have lead to a lot of time for backup RB. NFL Draft Scout noted he KOd five ballcarriers during 2006 season. Impressive quickness for such a big man. Not on Okoye’s level as a penetrating DT but the big guy showed off plenty of athletic ability at Combine by matching Okoye in the 10 and 40. Reports indicate he did not come into the Combine or pro day in great shape. Unimpressive in some interviews where his competitiveness and fire was questioned. Is he just soft spoken or does he lack intensity? At his size, you’ll always hear the motor questions as well. Bottom line for me? This is exactly the type of player the Giants need in round one. A massive and powerful DT capable of controlling the middle versus NFL interior OL. He’ll give you an interior push in pass rush. He’ll dominate in the run game. It would be a dream scenario if Branch was there at #20 for the Giants. I’d put him at the top of the list of potential targets. Tom Coughlin hit homeruns with Stroud and Henderson in Jacksonville. Set that franchise up for the next 10 years with those two draft day moves. Branch could be another one. He has an injury red flag. Recent reports indicate he has stress fractures in both legs. Is it shin splints or something more? I have no idea. If healthy, he’s worth considering a small trade up if he’s close. Huge drop in talent after Branch is off the board.

Amobi Okoye, 6’2″, 302lbs, Louisville (Combine: 40: 5.07, 10: 1.65, Bench: 29, Vert: 30″, 3 cone: 7.46): The fastest post-season riser in the entire draft. Everybody loves his story. Smart and likable kid. Skipped grades early and entered college at 16. Will play DT in the NFL as a teenager. It’s one of the top stories in this draft. He’s in the top 10 of every reputable mock you see. Is he really that good? Before Senior Bowl, I considered him a late 2nd/early 3rd-type developmental player. Two year starter. Didn’t make a lot of plays in 2005. Only career two sacks entering 2006 season. Was listed at 315+lbs in 2005 but he looked much smaller. Although his play jumped in 2006, I sure didn’t think he was ready to have an immediate impact or play full time in the NFL at this stage. Played stronger down the stretch in 2006. He was very disruptive especially in the pass game. Won a lot of battles with his first step. In 2006, Okoye developed a killer rip move going to his left. He leaned on it a lot and it worked often in 2006. He got in the backfield and made some plays. Picked up some sacks. The big knock that I see was his run defense. He simply wasn’t stout versus the run on the collegiate level. Handled with ease by the Rutgers interior OL. In the 2nd half of that game they ran right at him. He could not anchor versus RU. They took him for a ride in that 2nd half. Consistently pushed him a couple of yards off the ball. He had a sack in the game but nothing else. On the sack he was stoned at LOS but ran down a very slow Mike Teel as Teel rolled out after about 4 seconds in the pocket – a coverage sack. Maybe two more pressures in that game. He was invisible. Best DT on the field that day was Rameel Meekins from Rutgers. Okoye showed up at Senior Bowl at only 287 lbs. Very strong showing in pass rush drills. Tough to block in one-on-ones. Used rip and spin moves to impress coaches. All of a sudden he’s in round 1…he’s in the top 20…he’s in the top 10…and now he’s the #1 DT . I think top-10 is too high for him at his current level of play. This is an upside pick because of his age and burst off the ball. The kind of pick you make early in the NBA draft. Not early in the NFL draft. The kid may make a few plays versus the pass in 2007 but I think he’ll really struggle versus the run early in his NFL career.

Justin Harrell, 6’5″, 300lbs, Tennessee (Combine: 40: 5.04, 10: 1.67, Bench: 24, Vert: 30.5″, SS: 4.79, 3 cone: 7.63): Tennessee always has talent across the DL. In 05, Tennessee finished #2 in nation versus the run allowing only 2.5 YPC while playing in the toughest conference in the country. Harrell was a major part of that run stopping unit. Could have left after junior year and probably the #4 DT in 05 class and a 2nd round pick. Entering 06, Phil Steele ranked him # 3 senior DT. Excellent frame for the position. Already extremely strong but he can handle more weight. Hard worker on field and in weight room. Solid technique. Knows how to use his long arms. Despite height, he keeps the pads very low and explodes off the ball. Tough guy who played with some injuries. Played with one arm versus Florida after a painful torn bicep. Injury required surgery and ended season early after only a few games. Since he missed most of 06, not a guy a lot of people talked about in January. He’s a player. Very strong at POA and can get to the ball in pursuit. Always a lot of draft value with a tough run plugger. Concern over injuries drops him a bit. However, looks like a lock as the #3 DT off the board. Early round 2.

Brandon Mebane, 6’1″, 309lbs, California (Combine: 40: 5.15, 10: 1.71, Bench: 24, Vert: 24, SS: 4.65 3 cone: 7.94): I really like this player and his draft value. A hustler with the exceptional quickness to penetrate the interior in the NFL. 3 year starter. Consistently played on the other side of the LOS. Shorter DT but very stout. Stays low and has a quick burst off the ball. Disruptive player who’s very effective shooting gaps. Good speed and lateral agility to chase down the LOS. Can really get down the line and make plays outside of the box in pursuit. All the talk was about Okoye at Senior Bowl but Mebane was another guy who really improved his value in the eyes of scouts. Glowing reports on his ability to handle 2 blockers and beat OL in pass rush drills at Senior Bowl. In 06, had a very impressive game versus USC and highly regarded OC Kalil. Are the Giants in the market for a penetrating one gap tackle? If they are this could be the player for the Giants in round 3. Will offer immediate help and contribute as a rookie. Eventually, he’ll develop into a full time starter at DT in the NFL. I think he’s more of a round 2-type player but could be a steal at the end of day one for the Giants.

“Tank” Tyler, 6’2″, 306lbs, NC State (Combine: 40: 5.18, 10: 1.78, Bench: 42, Vert: 28.5″): 25+ starts. Major improvement in 06. The nickname fits. Possibly the strongest guy in the draft. Very thick especially up top. Huge 2-gap run stopper. A rock at POA vs run. Will clog the middle. Not athletic enough to beat NFL interior OL on pass rush. May have the strength to walk them back into pocket. Inconsistent play. Dominant one play. Easily handled the next. That kind of up and down play was evident at Sr Bowl practices. Arrested in 06 for assault. Also tossed out of one game for a spitting incident in 06. Round 2.

Paul Soliai, 6’4″, 344lbs, Utah (Combine: 40: 5.10, 10: 1.63, Vert: 29.5″, SS: 4.69, 3 cone: 7.66): Only two years on defense after moving from OT. Massive size to excel at NT or in 2 gap scheme. Very strong. An immovable force at the POA. Will occupy blockers. Can collapse the pocket. At close to 350lbs, still maintains the quickness and agility to slide down the LOS to make plays. Impressive shuttle times for this enormous DT. Very good showing at Shrine. Dominant at times. Consistently anchored versus double teams. Character is an issue. Suspended for Bowl game. If off field stuff checks out, his size and quickness will be in big demand on draft day. Coughlin loves huge DT. If he has any say on draft day they could go this route for DT depth. Round 3.

Marcus Thomas, 6’3″, 314lbs, Florida (Combine: 40: 5.18, Bench: 27): One of the top DL in country coming out of high school. First player in 10+ years to start as a true frosh for Florida. Played his best ball against the top SEC talent. Impressive versus LSU, Auburn, Georgia and Tennessee. A first round talent. However, he’s carrying around a lot of off field baggage and it will probably drop him out of day one. In 06, he had drug issues and blown second chances. Eventually kicked off the team because he failed to show up for a drug education class. Not a bright move for a potential first rounder with millions of dollars on the table. Despite talent, I can’t see him on the Giants board. Somebody will take a chance in mid rounds. Round 4.

Antonio Johnson, 6’3″, 310lbs, Mississippi State (Combine: 40: 5.15, 10: 1.68, Bench: 28, Vert: 29, SS: 4.49,3 cone: 7.51): Limited experience but a very athletic big man. Only one year of high school ball. JUCO. Two years of Division 1 ball with only five starts. Classic 2-gap space eater. Will occupy blockers with his size and strength. Surprising quickness. Sub 4.50 short shuttle is very impressive for a 310+ lb interior DL. Flashes quickness off the ball to penetrate. At Senior Bowl, was described by NFL Draft Scout as the “South’s most consistently impressive defensive tackle” and a guy with a “good initial burst off the snap and was able to give some of the South’s top interior linemen their toughest draws of the day.” A lot of physical tools and upside. Needs time. Needs coaching. Could be a day 2 steal. Round 4.

Turk McBride, 6’3″, 277lbs, Tennessee (Combine: 40: 4.81, 10: 1.61, Bench: 27, Vert: 31, SS: 4.12 3 cone: 7.10): Versatile but undersized. Lacks bulk to play full-time at DT. Lacks speed to consistently pressure QB from edge in the NFL. Moved all over the DL. Played DE and DT. Moved to DT after Harrell’s season ended. A swing DT/DE on the next level as well. Can play some DE and move inside on pass rush. Excellent short area quickness. Has the initial quickness to penetrate from inside. Looks like a situational player in NFL. Round 4.

Jay Alford, 6’4″, 304lbs, Penn State (Combine: 40: 5.17, 10: 1.71, Vert: 25.5″, SS: 4.83 3 cone: 7.81): A lot of exp with 40+ starts. One-gap DT with a quick first step. Added value as an end in 3-4. Generated an interior pass rush at Penn State (19 sacks). Most reports give him the “blue collar overachieving” label. He’s more than that. Very good overall athletic ability. Bigger than expected at 300+lbs. Quick off the ball. If Giants are looking for a one-gap penetrator then Alford could be a mid-round target. Round 4.

Walter Thomas, 6’5″, 374lbs, NW Mississippi Community College (Pro Day: 40: 5.11, 10: 1.70, Bench: 27, Vert: 24.5″, SS: 4.84 3 cone: 7.72): Highly recruited high school player. All the Big 12 schools wanted this enormous DL recruit. Started college career at Oklahoma State. Played in 11 games in 04 as a true frosh but ruled academically ineligible after only 1 year. Didn’t play in 05. Community college in 06. Probably the largest player in the draft. Freakishly long arms at 37″. 11.5″ hands. 370+ lbs but a lot more than just a massive space eater. Athletic and quick feet for his size. 10 yard split of 1.70. NFL Draft Scout said, “Thomas is a mixture of Ted Washington, for size and ability to occupy multiple blocker; Terdell Sands, for his explosion and long reach; and Marcus Stroud, for his ability to shoot the gaps and wreak havoc in the backfield.” Very impressive at Texas versus Nation All-Star Game. Blew up blockers, including probable draft picks in Jonathan Palmer (Auburn) and Scott Stephenson (Iowa), all week. Rare size, quick feet, and dominant all star showing put him in the mid-round picture. Somebody will grab him early. Possibly to play NT for a 3-4 team. Jacksonville could be the team in round 3 or 4. Or hopefully the NYG in round 4.

Quinn Pitcock, 6’3″, 299lbs, Ohio State (Combine: 40: 4.93, 10: 1.61, Vert: 34): 30+ starts. Overrated player with some round 2 projections. High number of sacks in 06 but not really a good pass rushing prospect from the DT position. Senior Bowl practices exposed limitations. Couldn’t beat blockers in pass rush drills. Short arms. Hands are not a plus. Below average strength. Lack of size and initial burst will hurt in NFL. Considered a very hard worker. A blue collar type. Hustles. Won’t start in NFL. Maybe can help as a wave DT. Round 4.

Ryan McBean, 6’5″, 286lbs, Oklahoma State (Combine: 40: 4.98, 10: 1.64, Bench: 27, Vert: 28″, SS: 4.46, 3 cone: 7.79): Two year starter at DT. Tall and lean player. Good athlete at DL. DE/DT tweener. Showed some pass rush skills at Senior Bowl. Added 10lbs since Senior Bowl but still lacks size for DT in NFL. Needs to add 20+ lbs and more lower body strength to play DT. Possibly a 3-4 DE in NFL. Possibly a situational interior pass rusher. Rounds 4-5.

Clifton Ryan, 6’2″, 305lbs, Michigan State (Combine: 40: 5.12, 10: 1.69, Bench: 25, Vert: 26.5″, SS: 4.69 3 cone: 7.50): 35 starts. 28 consecutive starts. Tough. Played with injuries. Versatile. Played some DE at Mich State and can offer DE help in 3-4. Explosive one-gap DT. Quick first step. Inside penetrator.. Lead the team in sacks and QB pressures in 05 and 06. Good lateral agility to get down the line. Hardworking and improving. Play took a big jump in 06. A week of whipping and beating up the OL at Shrine Game really helped this player. Solid Combine workout. Strong Shrine showing and quickness makes him a mid to early day 2 pick.

Keith Jackson, 6′, 305lbs, Arkansas (Combine: 40: 5.05, 10: 1.73, Bench: 33, Vert: 30, SS: 4.56 3 cone: 7.65): Son of former NFL TE Keith Jackson. Two year starter at DT. Hard working player. Short but athletic and strong. Good run plugger. Ran a 4.85 at pro day at 300+ lbs. Quickness and speed allows him to make plays all over the field. Low center of gravity give him a solid anchor at the POA. Can stack. Also makes plenty of plays in pursuit. 70+ tackles in 06. Round 6.

Rameel Meekins, 5’10”, 284lbs, Rutgers (Pro Day: 40: 5.07, 10: 1.70, Bench: 30, Vert: 26, SS: 4.60 3 cone: 7.71): Outstanding high school heavyweight wrestler walked on at Rutgers and made an immediate impact. Two year starter. Defensive MVP. As productive as any DT in college football the past two years. Over the past 2 seasons (23 games), 29 TFL and 17.5 sacks. Despite stellar production no Combine invite. At RU pro day, scouts said they “loved his film.” Mike Mayock raved about his play during Rutgers/Kansas State Bowl game. Pointed out that Meekins dominated OC Mozes from West Virginia. Consistent and a hard working team guy. Played his best versus the top teams. Highly disruptive. He lived in the opponent’s backfield. Short but a very thick and strong lower body. Plays with a very low base. Explodes off the snap and keeps the pads down. Uses quickness and excellent leverage to consistently beat OL. Non stop hustle to the ball really stands out on game day and made him a fan favorite. Gets down the LOS and makes plays outside of the box. Displayed his quick feet and COD with an impressive 4.60 in short shuttle. Lack of size is the only thing keeping him out of day one. Very small for interior play in NFL. Plays with many of the same skills as Eagles first round pick Mike Patterson from USC. Workout numbers matched Patterson. Patterson was a real find for the Eagles and very effective as an undersized DT (5’11” 292lbs). Meekins is even smaller at only 284lbs. Can he handle NFL OL at that size? I believe he can do it. Giants recently worked him out as a FB. With his build and athletic ability it makes sense. He could step in there and help in short yardage like Dan Klecko. Size probably pushes him to the end of day 2 or free agency. As a 20+ year fan of Rutgers football, Meekins is my all-time favorite player from the school. I would love to see him on the Giants.

Kareem Brown, 6’4″, 290lbs, Miami (Pro Day: 40: 5.38, 10: 1.81, Vert: 28, SS: 4.71 3 cone: 7.49): One year starter at UM. Tall and high cut. A lot of college sacks (20) but lacks strength and quickness to effectively rush passer in the NFL. Struggled at Senior Bowl. Terrible workout. Only 290lbs and couldn’t run. Not much of an NFL prospect. Late day 2. Giants shouldn’t bother in any round.

DEFENSIVE END:

Gaines Adams, 6’5″, 258lbs, Clemson (Combine: 40: 4.64, 10: 1.58, Vert: 35″, SS: 4.36 3 cone: 7.17): #1 DE in draft. ACC defensive play of the year. Athletic pass rusher with 10+ sack skills for the NFL. Excellent first step consistently beats OL around the edge. Always pressuring the QB. 23 sacks the past two seasons. A lot of QB pressures and deflected passes. Expect a Wimbley/Ware type impact early in the NFL. Top 10 lock.

Jamal Anderson, 6’6″, 288lbs, Arkansas (Pro Day: 40: 4.75, 10: 1.59, Bench: 22, Vert: 32.5″, SS: 4.22 3 cone: 6.88): A highly regarded WR and basketball player in high school. Ranked in the top 50 nationally at WR. Early entry with only 1.5 years of starting experience at DE. One of the best players in college football in 06. 26 QB pressures and 13.5 sacks in 06. Wears #92 and resembles a young Strahan. Actually, much more athletic than Strahan. Maybe closer to Julius Peppers. A premier pass rush prospect with 33+” arms, large hands, and a sudden burst off the snap. Can drop his shoulder and turn the corner versus NFL OTs. Quickly redirects and counters. Can also win with a bull rush. Will hold up versus the run and very fast in pursuit. Outstanding size/speed/production package. Young player (21) with unlimited upside on the next level. Nothing is missing from this prospect. If he’s there at #20? Tough call. Certainly not a need position at this point but this young game-changer would be hard to pass.

Adam Carriker, 6’6″, 296lbs, Nebraska (Combine: 40: 4.90, 10: 1.60, Bench: 33, Vert: 33.5″, SS: 4.18, 3 cone: 7.06): Well built 300lb DL. Prototype size for a 3-4 DE. Very strong. Excellent technique with hands versus the run and on the pass rush. Sheds and throws around blockers. Tenacious player. Relentless. Very strong versus the run and enough burst off the ball to rush the passer from the edge. Quick feet and can change directions on a dime. Displayed WR type quickness in short shuttle and 3 cone drill. Ran his 40 in the low 4.7s at his pro day. Dominant in pass rush drills at Senior Bowl. One of the most impressive players at the Senior Bowl and it probably moved him up a round. Could go as high as the top 10. Will not get past #15 to the Steelers.

Jarvis Moss, 6’6″, 250lbs, Florida (Combine: 40: 4.70, 10: 1.59, Bench: 16, Vert: 30.5″, Pro Day: SS: 4.41 3 cone: 7.21): Parade All American. #1 DE in country out of high school. Touted as a Jevon Kearse-type. A tall, lean, and explosive pass rusher. However, college production didn’t match Kearse. Workouts? Not close to Kearse again. Doesn’t match the speed, vertical, or change-of-direction skills that Kearse brought to the NFL. Teams also worked him out as a LB. Not impressive in LB drills with one scout calling it a “waste of time”. Played in 26 games. Only 13 career starts. As a 4-3 end, will really struggle versus the run in the NFL. He needs strength work. Early in career, just a situational pass rusher. He’ll get you some sacks. Just not enough to justify a first round pick. Late round 1.

Ikaika Alama-Francis, 6’5″, 292lbs, Hawaii (Combine: Injured. Pro Day: On wet field. 40: 4.85, 10: 1.73, Vert: 35″, SS: 4.62, 3 cone: 7.31): Still developing as an ex-basketball player with limited football experience. Father was an NFL QB but surprisingly this prospect did not even play high school football. Walked on after struggling with basketball at Hawaii. Two year starter. Ideal size, strength, and athletic ability for a 4-3 DE. Can add weight and play 3-4 DE. Very strong. Nice upfield burst for a big man. Quick. Hand use needs work and coaching. Dominated everybody at the Hula Bowl but also injured his arm. Missed the Shrine Game and couldn’t workout at Combine because of the injury. A lot of NFL upside with this emerging player. Late round 1/early round 2.

Anthony Spencer, 6’3″, 261lbs, Purdue (Combine: 40: 4.70, 10: 1.64, Bench: 30, Vert: 32.5″, SS: 4.43, 3 cone: 7.14): Not much of a prospect prior to 06. Outstanding senior year and post-season has him in the top 50 in this draft. 10.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, and 26.5 TFL in 06. Notre Dame OT Harris said he was by far, the most explosive DL he faced in college.” No surprise Harris would give him that kind of endorsement. Spencer had the defensive game of the year versus Harris. Completely dominated him. Had 15 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 3 sacks, and knocked down a pass. Harris could not match Spencer’s explosive first step. It’s the first step that will have his name called early in this draft. Additional draft value because he can play with his hand down or as a rush 3-4 LB in the NFL. Made some money at Senior Bowl. Spencer routinely turned the corner in pass rush drills versus the top senior OL in the country. Nobody could handle his speed to the edge and first step quickness. Future top 10 pick Levi Brown lost plenty of these battles with Spencer at Senior Bowl. Excellent hand technique and an array of pass rush moves will make him a 10+ sack NFL pass rusher in the very near future. If he goes to the right situation will make an immediate impact as a rookie. Like the Bears 06 rookie Mark Anderson, Spencer has 10+ sack talent and Rookie of the Year potential.

Tim Crowder, 6’4″, 272lbs, Texas (Combine: 40: 4.69, 10: 1.59, Bench: 32, Vert: 30.5″, SS: 4.32, 3 cone: 7.28): Just another highly athletic 270+lb pass rusher with 4.6 speed. 4 year starter on top Texas team. 40+ career starts. Play improved each year with a big jump in 06. A lot more QB pressure as a senior. More than doubled sack production as well. Known as a hard working weight room guy. Could use a few more pounds to battle bigger OL in the NFL. Good player versus the run and can get to QB. Should be a solid 2 way DE in NFL. Round 2.

Victor Abiamiri, 6’4″, 267lbs, Notre Dame (Combine: 40: 4.80, 10: 1.56, Injured and passed on the rest of the workout): Excellent size for the position. Athletically compares to former Notre Dame teammate and current NYG Justin Tuck. Abiamiri has above average quickness and agility for DE. These tools allowed him to get to QB in college. 8 sacks in 05. 10.5 in 06. However, his initial burst may not be special enough to make a big splash as a pass rusher in the NFL. At Senior Bowl, he failed to display counter moves. If he didn’t win with his first step he lost the battle. Overall, he’s a good athlete with the required size to be effective playing 4-3 DE in the NFL. However, technique and pass rush moves still need a lot of work. Round 2.

Quentin Moses, 6’5″, 261lbs, Georgia (Combine: 40: 4.82, 10: 1.59, Bench: 17, Vert: 32″, SS: 4.53, 3 cone: 7.38): Entered 06 with a first round label. Listed by Phil Steele as the #5 DE in the country. His play nosedived in senior year. 11.5 sacks in 05. Only 4.5 sacks in 06. Big drop in tackles, TFL and QB pressures as well. Invisible in too many games. Finished year out of first round mix. Senior Bowl and Combine gave him a shot to bounce back but he failed to measure up. Terrible week at Senior Bowl. Couldn’t beat OL during pass rush drills. Couldn’t hold up versus run. Outplayed by the just about every other DE at Senior Bowl. At Combine, ran in the 4.8s at only 261lbs. Also, looked sloppy in drills. During LB drills, he failed to display the necessary movement skills to excel at that position. No chance at LB in the NFL. Strictly a 4-3 DE with a senior year production issue and questionable speed off the edge. Round 3.

Charles Johnson, 6’2″, 270lbs, Georgia (Combine: 40: 4.84, 10: 1.63, Bench: 33, Vert: 34″, 3 cone: 7.50): Before 06, not as highly regarded as Moses. After breakout 05 season, Moses got more attention from opposing teams in 06. With Moses fighting double teams, it allowed Johnson to increase his sack numbers from 4 in 05 to 9.5 in 06. Not really impressed with this player. TSN has him ranked #19 overall and a first round talent. While he’s a strong player versus the run, I don’t expect enough pass rush from this guy to justify a high pick. Round 3.

Ray McDonald, 6’4″, 275lbs, Florida (Pro Day: 40: 4.88, 10: 1.62, Vert: 29″, SS: 4.97, 3 cone: 7.41): After S Reggie Nelson, the most impressive player on the Florida defense. Not a highlight-type player but a real hustler. I love his high effort game. Excellent college football player. Versatile. Played DT and DE. After Florida suspended Thomas, McDonald filled in and played well on the inside. Hard working and coachable. Father is a former WR at Florida and high school coach. A bit undersized without the impressive measurables so he may not project as high as some of his teammates in the NFL but this guy is a gamer. Came back from two serious knee injuries. Plays very hard. Competitive nature really stands out on gameday. Long arms at 33+”. Quick DL who can play inside and out. Can get down the LOS and make plays in pursuit. Knows how to use his hands. Needs to add bulk to play fulltime at DT on the next level. Probably just a situational pass rusher as a DT in the NFL. His future is on the outside. He could develop into a full time starter at DE. Durability issues and tweener label drops him. Mid to late Round 3.

Brian Robison, 6’3″, 259lbs, Texas (Combine: 40: 4.67, 10: 1.49, Bench: 27, Vert: 40.5″, SS: 4.26, 3 cone: 6.89): One of the best athletes in college football. Not just the Combine numbers, Robison is a top track guy in discus and shot. He can probably hold his own in an Olympic decathlon. 30+ starts at Texas at DE. Injured a lot in 06. More productive in 05. With all of his speed and athletic ability didn’t get enough pressure on QB. Only 25 QB pressures in the past two seasons. Also, undersized for full time DE duty. Workout says round 2. Play on the field probably says round 5. Somebody will reach because of the Combine performance. Late round 3.

Dan Bazuin, 6’3″, 266lbs, Central Michigan (Combine: 40: 4.77, 10: 1.59, Bench: 25, Vert: 30″, SS: 4.75, 3 cone: 7.09): Small school pass rusher. Highly productive with 26+ sacks the past 2 seasons and a high number of forced fumbles. Only OK at Shrine Game practices. Didn’t help himself in one on one pass rush drills. Combine a bit of a disappointment. Didn’t display elite speed, quickness or change-of-direction skills at Combine. Early day 2.

Jay Moore, 6’5″, 272lbs, Nebraska (Combine: 40: 4.92, 10: 1.59, Bench: 26, Vert: 34″, SS: 4.35, 3 cone: 7.19): 30 starts at DE for Nebraska. Can drop into coverage and probably help a 3-4 team as a rush LB. Not close to teammate Carriker in terms of NFL potential. Only 9 sacks the past 2 seasons. Not impressive at Senior Bowl practices. Had a few sacks in the Senior Bowl game but he was unblocked as OT Joe Staley was lost on pass protection. Round 4.

Lamarr Woodley, 6’1″, 266lbs, Michigan (Pro Day: 40: 4.74, 10: 1.65, Bench: 29, Vert: 38.5″, SS: 4.42): Highly recruited high school player. Ranked in the top 5 in the nation at LB. Very productive at Michigan with 12 sacks in 05 and 12 more in 06. Post season slider. Pulled out of Senior Bowl after on rough day of practice. Ducked the Combine with reports of sub par workouts. Not as big as expected. Lacks elite measurables to offset lack of size. Several Shawn Merriman comparison’s but Woodley is much smaller and not nearly as explosive as Merriman. He’s a lot closer to a Reggie Torbor type than Shawn Merriman. Woodley plays hard. Powerful striker. His skills worked as an edge rusher at Michigan. In the NFL? I don’t think so. He’s short and lacks the burst off the line to beat NFL OT around the corner. Maybe a situational pass rusher in the NFL. Many have him in the top 50. I say he’s a day 2 player. Giants shouldn’t have much interest here. Round 4+.

Apr 222007
 
New York Giants 2007 NFL Draft: Colin’s Final Pre-Draft Wrap

by Colin Lindsay, Great Blue North Draft Report

The following report is adapted from the latest edition of the GBN‘s Giants Newsletter. The GBN is also holding our first annual “Giants’ Draft Contest” to help while away the week until the draft starts. E-mail us your picks for Giants’ 8 selections this year. The winner will get a copy of the GBN Pre-Season College Football Draft Report plus a subscription to the GBN Giants’ Newletter.

Let’s get pickin’… There comes a point in every draft process when one says enough is enough – let’s just make the picks. We’ve just about reached that point!!! Indeed, we have probably passed the point of information overload with each new tidbit seemingly canceling out the last. Fortunately we have less than a week or so to go so hang in there guys!!!

Sifting through the tea leaves… Thought the presser with Giants’ G.M. Jerry Reese last week was absolutely fascinating, particularly given that he didn’t really say anything. First, if there was any doubt that Reese is all business they were erased this week. Indeed, kudos to the Reese and the Giants for running a very tight ship this time around. Predecessor Ernie Accorsi, a former journalist, by contrast never met a microphone he didn’t have at least a few words for and over the years way too much information used to leak out from the Giants war room. It makes it a little frustrating for the fans – and for draft guru wannabes trying to figure out what’s going on – but it’s the way the business should be conducted.

More to the point, while Reese didn’t say much directly, if one carefully reads between the lines there was actually plenty to chew over. First off, while he didn’t let anything at all slip about actual prospects the Giants are interested in, Reese did have plenty to say about the process. Sounding very much like George Young, one of his early mentors, Reese stressed that he and company are going to be very focused in on talent on draft day and, for the most part, are likely to let the chips fall where they may when it comes to filling immediate positional needs.

In that context Reese really stressed the point of the fact that the Giants use the rows, or pyramid system to grade players. And what they will do is take a player from the highest row where there are still players.

As a result we have spent the past few day trying to piece together just what the Giants’ rows might look because that’s where the clues to the team’s draft will be, not whether they need a LB or a CB or a WT or a LT. Of course, in an inexact science analyzing an inexact science but the rows probably look something like the following, at least for a generic NFL team.

ROW 1: WR Calvin Johnson, QB Jamarcus Russell

ROW 2: QB Brady Quinn, OT Joe Thomas, RB Adrian Peterson

ROW 3: FS Laron Landry, DE Gaines Adams, DT Amobi Okoye, LB Patrick Willis

ROW 3a: DE Jamaal Anderson, DT Alan Branch, WR Ted Ginn, OT Joe Staley, CB Darrelle Revis

ROW 4: OT Levi Brown, CB Leon Hall, DE Adam Carriker, RB Marshawn Lynch, TE Greg Olsen, FS Reggie Nelson, WR Robert Meacham

Of course, this is largely speculation – we prefer to call it an educated guessing – as we have no real idea how the Giants have players rated as there is always considerable variation in how individual teams grade players. Lynch (back problem) and Branch (leg stress fractures), for example, may be off the board for health reasons, while we think that Olsen and Nelson are portentially iffy in that Olsen is a good receiver but lousy blocker, while Nelson has great potential as a ball-hawking centerfield-type FS – and lord knows the Giants can use one of those – however, there are also real questions about his size and durability as well as his football smarts. As such he is all over boards around the league and could be anywhere from a near top-10 guy to a late first rounder on the Giants’ chart.

There are also several guys who could be included at least on ROW 4 who aren’t quite that high on most media or fans’ draft radars. Included in that group might be players like Auburn OG Ben Grubbs, Purdue DE Anthony Spencer, Miami LB Jon Beason and Miami FS Brandon Meriweather. The final piece of the puzzle will be how many, if any, guys from the next row are actually on ROW 4. Again we are only speculating here but ROW 5 could look like the following (along with Grubbs, Spencer, Beason and Meriweather if they aren’t on ROW 4):

ROW 5: WRs Dwayne Bowe and Dwayne Jarrett; LBs Lawrence Timmons and Paul Polsuzny; CBs Chris Houston, Aaron Ross (and very possibly Eric Wright); SS Michael Griffin; C Ryan Kalil; DE Jarvis Moss; and DT Justin Harrell.

Obviously, given the need at the position, one key factor for the Giants at this year’s draft is where they have the LBs (after Ole Miss’ Patrick Willis) graded. Certainly what has been posted by the guru community has not been much help as Timmons, Beason and Posluszny tend to be all over the charts. In fact, our sense is that none of the three looks the part of a legitimate first-round pick. All three have their strengths, but none of the trio is particularly big and none is overly fast, although Timmons at least is very quick. Indeed, not sure it’s been noted all that much, but while Timmons didn’t time anywhere near as fast as expected in the full 40, he was one of the fastest players at any position at the combine over the first 10 yards, which is of course what football players really run. Meanwhile, Beason is just a good all-around player, while Posluszny is a great character guy. Still it would seem somehow rather Accorsian if the first ever pick of a new management team with the goal of making the team faster was a slow LB. Time will tell!

As such one could argue until the cows come home which players belong on which list, however, assuming for a moment that our rows above are reasonably accurate, although that’s still a huge assumption because we’re just speculating here, then those first four rows include around 20 players (21 to be exact). And the sense that this is indeed the ’round’ number is supported by the fact that there have been reports that a number of teams consider that this is not a real strong draft class and that there are only 18-20 or so true first-round prospects this year.

Given the wonders of modern mathematics, unless they trade down, the Giants, who have the 20th pick, are going to take a player from those first four rows. Further assuming that all the players in ROWs 1 through 3a are going to be long gone by the time the Giants pick, then the Giants’ selection, again assuming they keep the pick, is likely going to come from ROW 4. The challenge, of course, is to actually figure out who is actually in ROW 4, but thinking this way is going to tell one a whole lot more about who the Giants are actually going to ultimately take than endlessly debating whether LB or CB or WR or LT is the bigger need! The fact is that if a guy isn’t on the Giants first four rows, its almost assured he’s not going to be taken with the 20th pick at least no matter how big the perceived need.

In addition to the overall ranking of prospects, the Giants will have a list of 3-5 players they really like, either because of the players unique skills, or because of need, or in fact, as in most cases some combination of the two. Again, who is actually on the Giants’ initial short list is anybody’s guess; indeed, it’s an even bigger state secret than who ranks 1-20 etc. However, we can speculate, and the best guess here is that the names at the top of the Giants’ short list heading into next weeks draft just might include Ohio State WR Ted Ginn and Pitt CB Darrelle Revis. We also think that Penn State OT Levi Brown could be on the short list; Brown certainly fits the physical attributes of a big, mauling offensive lineman, although there are real questions about his lack of overall athleticism that might keep him off the Giants’ short list. On the other hand, note we aren’t convinced that Central Michigan OT Joe Staley will be on the short list. Staley is one of the fastest rising players in this draft and may even have moved ahead of Brown as the #2 OT. Staley, though, is a converted TE who isn’t all that physical a drive blocker and all indications are that the Giants want to be more physical running the ball this season.

Of course, we aren’t saying here that either Staley or Brown won’t be taken, just that they might not be on the short list. And that would be an interesting denouement to what has been an odd journey at the position this off-season as a result of the surprising outright release of Luke Petitgout earlier this season. On the surface, the move doesn’t appear to have made much sense and certainly the Giants haven’t offered any rationale for public consumption. Most likely the Giants medical staff simply could no longer say there was a reasonable expectation that Petitgout was going to make it through the season and with his cap hit was just too big a gamble to keep around.

The guessing here is that the Giants felt that Diehl and Whimper were a decent fallback option, but had also hoped to find a veteran LT in free agency. Indeed, Reese was quoted, for example, as saying “we went after some guys in free agency and some things just didn’t work out. The market was out of control to a degree…” What Reese didn’t say was which players he was referring to but figure one was probably former Arizona LT Leonard Davis who the Giants had some interest in before he signed a ridiculous deal with Dallas.

And one doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that the Giants still have some real concerns about LT, although the claim that the Giants are now ‘forced’ to take a LT in this year’s draft is something of an overstatement. They may very well take a LT this year, but it won’t be because Petitgout was released. Indeed, because of health concerns Petitgout was going to have to be replaced sooner rather than later anyway, so LT was going to be a priority at this draft whether or not #77 was on the roster this fall. In fact, about the only thing the release of Petitgout ‘forced’ the Giants to consider was having to go with Diehl at the position this season. Given Petitgout’s health status, though, its something they almost assuredly would have had to consider at some point this fall anyway without having had to pay $5M against the cap for the opportunity. In fact, the guessing here is that the Giants probably figure there if having to go with Diehl at LT this season is the worst thing to befall the team in 2007, then they’ll actually be in pretty good shape. And if Diehl struggles, and the Giants didn’t get their LT of the future at the 2007 draft, and Whimper doesn’t develop, there is a great crop of LT prospects coming down the line in 2008. Indeed, because the 2008 draft should be loaded at LT, we would not be ‘forcing’ an OT pick early at the 2007 draft simply for the sake of it!

Movin’ on up… Back to the short list, as the draft unfolds and it turns out that say a Ginn was still on the board in the area of the 14-15-16 picks then the Giants may very well start to make some very discrete calls about what it might cost to move up. In fact, they have probably already made some preliminary calls in that regard. I doubt they value Revis quite as highly, but might think about a move up if he were still there around the 17-18 picks. Meanwhile, whether there are any other players the Giants might move up for would depend largely on what value they place on the two OTs.

At this point we figure more than one Giants’ fan is asking, “Why Ginn?” Again we are just speculating, but while Giants’ fans have spent the off-season arguing whether LB or CB was the team’s biggest weakness, the guess here is that inside the team’s war room, the biggest concern is the lack of overall team speed. In fact, at positions like WR, CB, LB and on special teams the Giants are probably among the slowest teams in the league. And Ginn is fast. Indeed, even if all Ginn was was half as good returning kicks as Devin Hester was with the Bears’ last year, the Giants would be laughing all the way to the bank. Meanwhile, simply putting someone on the field with Ginn’s speed can force defenses to back off even if that player doesn’t make that many plays themselves. Plus don’t count out the possibility that Ginn, who was recruited to Ohio State as the nation’s #1 prep defensive back, ultimately plays CB in the NFL, the position he actually prefers to play. In the end, though, the debate may be moot as Ginn very likely will be long gone before he comes into range of the Giants. And just in passing, note that Revis is also a dynamic return guy, although he lacks Ginn’s pure speed.

Tradin’ on down… On the other hand, if the Giants find themselves on the clock with the 20th pick, but aren’t necessarily enamored with any of the players left in the top row, then they very likely will explore some trade down options. In fact, one of the dangers of the row system is that in effect the rest of the league can dictate a team’s pick. If, for example, the Giants’ top 4 rows did include 20-21 players and the teams picking ahead of them took 19 of those players then by definition the Giants would take one of the two guys left over. And there are certainly several players in ROW 4 who really would not be great fits for the Giants’ schemes.

In fact, it appears that the Giants, like several other teams selecting in the early 20s, may be giving serious consideration to trading down. It struck us as odd initially that what seemed like an inordinate share of the players that the Giants brought in for visits – FS Brandon Meriweather, CB Eric Wright, OT Tony Ugoh and maybe even WR Dewayne Jarrett – were more late first, early second round types when the last time we looked the Giants didn’t have a pick in that area. Indeed, at least of those whose names have been published, the Giants had more late-first, early second-round types in for visits than they did top 20 prospects. And, in fact, a number of the players in that ROW 4 who the Giants may not be all that intrigued with may interest teams with lower picks. TE Olsen, for example, may draw interest from teams ranging from the Jets (#25), New Orleans (#27), Chicago (#31), Oakland (#33) and Detroit (#34). Oakland may also have some interest in Staley as might Kansas City (#23) and even Atlanta all the way down at #38. Meanwhile, the Giants probably like just about all the ROW 5 players such that they could afford to drop down 10-15 spots and still get a guy they like, plus an extra pick or two.

Let’s make a deal… Reese, though, may have given us a bit of a clue as to who is the most likely trading partner. The guessing here is that Baltimore would love to get its hands on Purdue DE Anthony Spencer to replace Adalius Thomas at the pass rush OLB spot, but he’s not going to make it to the 29th pick. In fact, Spencer likely won’t make it past Denver which picks right after the Giants. Again, this is the kind of thing that tends to be set up in advance in “if we’re still picking 20th and so-and-so and so-and-so, the guys we like, are gone, but so-and-so, your guy, is still on the board” then let’s make a deal! And guess whose brains Reese has been picking since he took over the Giants’ job: none other than Ravens’ G.M. Ozzie Newsome.

Just remember you heard it here first!! And see you can hear things just by listening!!

Enjoy the draft and let’s hope the Giants get the impact player they are looking for. But remember the sun is going to come up on Monday the 30th no matter who the Giants take this coming weekend!

Apr 212007
 

Restricted Free Agency Ends -– Gibril Wilson, Reggie Torbor, Derrick Ward Safe: The deadline for other teams to sign restricted free agents to offer sheets passed yesterday at noon. What that means is that restricted free agents SS Gibril Wilson, LB Reggie Torbor, and HB Derrick Ward can no longer be signed by other teams. All three will likely sign their 1-year tenders with the Giants and become unrestricted free agents next offseason unless the Giants sign each to longer-term deals.