By Dubs for BigBlueInteractive.com
We are currently at the halfway point of our season, and over the past 8 games, we have begun to recognize areas that need improvement—specifically, cornerback, safety and outside linebacker. Obviously, a lot can change over the next few months, both for the Giants and the college players. But we can nevertheless examine these problems. I felt this was a good time to for preliminary assessment of our needs for next season, and how can we solve them in the draft. We’re at the bye. Where do we stand?
Let’s assume we’re picking #25 in the draft. I’m only including senior entries. Here’s how I would see it playing out:
Round 1: Xavier Adibi, OLB, Virginia Tech
Scouting Report: Adibi is the complete package: a (very) fast linebacker who stuffs the run as well as anyone in college football. He’s also goes a good job of dropping back into pass coverage. He is very smart and aware: he rarely makes a dumb play. However, Adibi has been known to miss the occasional tackle, especially in the open field, and he needs to add weight (currently around 220) to his 6’2” frame. He’s not a great blitzer. Runs between a 4.45 and 4.60 40-yard dash.
Why this works: The OLB draft class is very top heavy—the three guys at the top (Dan Connor, Keith Rivers and Adibi) all have the chance to be stars in the NFL. But, in all likelihood, by our pick in the draft, Connor and Rivers will be off the board. That leaves Adibi, but we are hardly settling. We need a stud outside linebacker, and he could be it. Kawika Mitchell may be gone after this year, and while Mathias Kiwanuka’s play has improved, he’s being used in more of a hybrid role. We have good depth at the position, but again, no stars.
Why this doesn’t work: By the end of the year, OLB may not be as big a concern as CB or S. There are a number of good cornerbacks available in the first round. We don’t have a concrete nickel back and, if Sam Madison slows, we may be forced to use our first pick on a corner. Too much is unknown about our safety situation—will Gibril Wilson resign? Will Michael Johnson prove he’s worthy of a permanent starting role? If the answer to both is no, we will have to look for replacements early in the draft.
Other options: Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida; Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona; Tom Zbikowski, SS, Notre Dame; Josh Barrett, SS, Arizona State; Phillip Wheeler, LB, Georgia Tech; Ali Highsmith, OLB, LSU; Defensive BPA.
Round 2: Dwight Lowery, CB, San Jose State
Scouting Report: A ball hawk cornerback who notched 9 interceptions in 2006 and was named a third-team AP All American. Good instincts and awareness. Tall (6’1”-6’2”) but skinny (below 185 pounds). Runs between a 4.40 and 4.55 40-yard dash. Fair tackler. Keeps play in front of him; rarely gets burned. A very good punt returner. Against BCS hopeful Hawaii, he had an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown to go with a 25-yard interception return for a score. Not a great blitzer. Lowery was a projected late first round pick, but with the emergence of players such as Chevis Jackson, Justin King, Reggie Smith and Aqib Talib, he may be available late in the second round.
Why this works: Beyond Aaron Ross, our cornerback situation is up in the air. While Sam Madison has played well this year and seems as if he may have one or two years left, our depth is poor. Corey Webster will never live up to his billing, R.W. McQuarters seems destined to primarily be a specialist for the remainder of his career, and Kevin Dockery, despite flashes of promise, is still raw. Many of our defensive problems stem from our secondary’s poor play. Lowery and Ross would be a consistent duo for many years to come.
Why this doesn’t work: Safety may end up being more of a concern than cornerback if Gibril Wilson doesn’t resign and neither James Butler nor Michael Johnson proves they can handle a starting role. We may also need to address wide receiver—Amani Toomer is nearing the end and the Giants seem to be losing patience with Sinorice Moss. While Steve Smith seems to have a future with the team, we need depth at receiver. But this is a solid pick, since no matter what, we will need to pick up a cornerback in the off-season.
Other options: Tracy Porter, CB, Indiana; Jonathan Zenon, CB, LSU; Terrence Wheatley, CB, Colorado; Craig Steltz, S, LSU; Quintin Demps, S, UTEP; Harry Douglas, WR, Louisville; D.J. Hall, WR, Alabama.
Round 3: Wesley Woodyard, S, Kentucky
Scouting Report: Started college career at safety, then moved to linebacker, but will probably be a safety in the NFL. Very fast (4.40 40-yard dash) for his size (6’2”, 225). He’s been a starter since his freshman year. First team All-SEC last year. Tackling machine (122 last year) who is always near the play. Very instinctive and aware. Likes to play near the line (lots of tackles for a loss) and blitzes well. He’s no ball hawk; pass coverage is average. Very hard worker.
Why this works: Even if we don’t need new starters at safety, Woodyard would provide instant depth to a weak safety corp. He could compete for a starting role at either safety position if need be, although he’s probably going to be a strong safety down the road. He fills a need that, along with cornerback, must be addressed this off-season. And while he’s not the ball hawk that many of us want, he would be the hardest hitting defensive back we’ve had for quite a while.
Why this doesn’t work: Woodyard is a risk, since he’s played the last two years almost exclusively at WLB. We may not want to take too much of a chance on a position where we need depth desperately. Additionally, the third round would be a good time to start looking for depth elsewhere—although we have a great starting offensive line, we lack depth at almost every position on it. The wide receiver problem emerges again, and we could even use an extra body at defensive tackle.
Other options: Jamar Adams, SS, Michigan; Dominique Barber, FS, Minnesota; Bruce Hocker, WR, Duquesne; William Franklin, WR, Missouri; Adam Kraus, OG/C, Michigan; Shannon Tevaga, OG, UCLA; Jason Shirley, NT, Fresno State; B.J. Raji, NT, Boston College.
Round 4: Brandon Rodd, OG/T, Arizona State
Scouting Report: The anchor of one of the most reliable offensive lines in college football. Projects as a guard in the NFL, even though he has spent about half his time in college playing OLT. Great run blocker, even better pass blocker. Very athletic. Smart (All Pac-10 Academic list three straight years) and aware. Hard worker who is remarkably strong. Has the ability to run downfield to make secondary blocks. 6’4”, 300 pounds. Honorable mention All Pac-10 last year.
Why this works: We lack depth at almost every position on the offensive line. Guy Whimper, Kevin Boothe and Adam Koets are very raw—only Grey Ruegamer has proven to be a reliable back up. Rodd provides instant depth at guard and tackle, and projects as a starter down the road. He fills a gaping need that is rarely recognized because of the first-team’s remarkable health and level of play.
Why this doesn’t work: The pick itself has few negatives, but we may want to focus on other positions. We could use depth at wide receiver, defensive tackle, cornerback and quarterback. And, given Lawrence Tynes’s performance thus far, we may want to consider drafting a kicker.
Other options: Brandon Coutu, K, Georgia; Art Carmody, K, Louisville; Drew Radovich, G, USC; Andrew Crummey, OG/C, Maryland; Carlton Medder, OG/T, Florida; Nick Hayden, DT, Wisconsin; Chris Norwell, DT, Illinois; Marcus Walker, CB, Oklahoma; Jordy Nelson, WR, Kansas State.
Round 5: Keilen Dykes, DT, West Virginia
Scouting Report: A good pass rushing defensive tackle that is versatile to play end if necessary. Tall and strong, but a bit underweight. Four-year starter. Average ability to shed double teams. Stuffs the run well. Very athletic. Has been recorded at below 5.00 in the 40-yard dash. Can drop off the line into coverage if necessary. First team All-Big East last year. Hard worker and outwardly passionate. Defensive leader. Awareness is questionable. Needs to build lower-body strength. Not technically sound, but improving.
Why this works: If taught well, Dykes could become a game-changing defensive lineman. There’s no need for him to start immediately, so there is time for him to develop. He could backup both tackles and ends. We need depth at defensive tackle, and, in the words of Ernie Accorsi, you can never have enough pass rushers.
Why this doesn’t work: Dykes will need to hone in on his mechanics before he can become a reliable contributor, and the Giants will have to decide whether he is a defensive end or a defensive tackle—if he’s an end, then the pick does next to nothing to solve our DT depth problem. Even if he is slated as a DT, the Giants may not want to wait for him to develop good mechanics: there are more pressing holes at other positions (kicker, wide receiver, cornerback, quarterback) that they may choose to address instead.
Other options: Brigham Harwell, DT/DE, UCLA; Robert Henderson, DE, Southern Mississippi; Alexis Serna, K, Oregon State; Billy Pittman, WR, Texas; Darrell Blackman, WR, North Carolina State; Jonathan Wilhite, CB, Auburn.
Round 6: Joe Flacco, QB, Delaware
Scouting report: A huge (6’6”, 240), ever-improving quarterback. Transferred from Pittsburgh. Two-year starter. Not terribly mobile, but has enough speed to evade pressure. Very accurate with great arm strength. He’s confident in the pocket—it’s where he excels. A prototype drop-back passer. A good leader with great intangibles. Certainly a developmental prospect, but one with as high an upside as any other QB in the draft. Walter Payton award candidate.
Why this works: When rumors circulated that Eli Manning might be out for a month after sustaining an injury against Dallas, Giants fans panicked, as they realized that the depth behind Manning was poor: With his terribly slow release, Jared Lorenzen seems little more than a novelty act, and Anthony Wright is far from a sure thing under center. In Flacco, the Giants would get a player who, with his great size and skill, could be molded into a reliable backup for years to come.
Why this doesn’t work: Flacco is a project, and unless the Giants pick up a reliable veteran in the off season, they may not want to waste a pick on a guy who, in all probability, won’t be an effective backup for at least a year. Additionally, depth problems at wide receiver and cornerback still have to be addressed—the quarterback situation is not as dire as those two. We also need a kicker.
Other options: Ricky Santos, QB, New Hampshire; Anthony Morelli, QB, Penn State; Mark Bradford, WR, Stanford; Lavelle Hawkins, WR, Cal; Garrett Hartley, K, Oklahoma; Roy Lewis, CB, Washington; Martel Van Zant, CB/S, Oklahoma State.
Round 6: Stanley Franks, CB, Idaho
Scouting report: A ball hawk: he had nine interceptions in 2006. Honorable All-American and All-WAC selection. He’ll need to bulk up (5’11”, 165) before playing in the NFL. Hasn’t been tested much this year, as teams have been reluctant to throw to his side. Very enthusiastic leader. Good feet and upper body movement. He’s quick, and stays with receivers, but he’s not exceptionally fast. Good tackler despite his size.
Why this works: Even though we addressed cornerback at the beginning of the draft, we desperately need long term depth at that position. Franks could develop into an ideal nickel back, someone who would not only be good in pass coverage, but would also be able to defend against runs and short screens. A tandem of him, Aaron Ross and Dwight Lowery would help solidify the secondary for years to come.
Why this doesn’t work: Franks is very small, and though he was able to stay with receivers in college, his speed may be of concern against faster NFL receivers, especially in light of his size. And, because teams have been avoiding him this year, he only really has one year to be judged on. He’s a risk, but there is certainly a high-reward potential. We have yet to address the receiver or kicker problem, so the Giants could go another direction with this pick.
Other options: Jeremy Ito, K, Rutgers; Wilrey Fontenot, CB, Arizona; Jeremy Zuttah, OL, Rutgers; Jerome Simpson, WR, Coastal Carolina; Jason Rivers, WR, Hawaii; Eric Brock, S, Auburn; Keith Shologan, DT, Central Florida.