Feb 292008
 

Wilson, Mitchell, Torbor, and Ward Hit the Open Market:  Here is the latest on the four main Giants’ unrestricted free agents, who are now officially on the open market as of 12:01AM earlier this morning:

  • FS Gibril Wilson:  Most of the beat writers who cover the Giants believe Wilson will not be re-signed.  Wilson’s agent sent the following e-mail to reporters yesterday:  “The plan as it stands now is for us to test the free agent market.  The Giants are a great organization and have made an effort to keep Gibril.  However we find it in our best interest to explore our options via free agency.  We will definitely keep the Giants in the loop and see where all this goes.”  It is believed that Wilson is seeking a multi-year contract worth approximately $5 million per season and which includes $15 million in guaranteed money.  The Star-Ledger says the Giants are offering $2-3 million per season.  Newsday is reporting that the Oakland Raiders may offer Wilson a contract worth $6-6.5 million per season.  The Eagles, Jaguars, and Broncos are all said to be in the mix for his services as well.
  • LB Kawika MitchellThe Daily News Giants’ blog reports that there remains some hope that Mitchell may re-sign, but the offer he has received from the Giants is not what he had hoped for.  The Star-Ledger is also reporting that Mitchell is mulling an offer from the Giants that is “just okay, not great.”  Newsday says Mitchell could could still re-sign with the Giants.
  • LB Reggie Torbor:  Torbor sent the following e-mail to The Daily News:  “I believe the chances of me signing before free agency are slim to none.  I guess all good things come to an end!”  The Miami Dolphins are rumored to be interested.
  • HB Derrick Ward:  According to The Daily News, Ward knows he can get a better deal from another team.  The Star-Ledger Giants’ blog says a source said it was “not looking like it” that Ward would re-sign.  The blog says the Giants have offered Ward a 1- or 2-year deal because of his injury history, but Ward was looking for a longer-term contract.  However, The Ledger does report that Ward could still re-sign with the Giants.

Also on the market now are DE Adrian Awasom, DT Russell Davis, and LS Ryan Kuehl.

Latest Rumors – Saints Interested in Jeremy Shockey? Giants Interested in Three Free Agents?:  ESPN is reporting that the New Orleans Saints are interested in trading for TE Jeremy Shockey.

The Star-Ledger is reporting that the Giants are at least mildly interested in S Erik Coleman (Jets), WR Devard Darling (Ravens), and HB/PR Alvin Pearman (Seahawks).

The Ledger also reports that the contract demands of CB DeAngelo Hall (Falcons) are scaring off the Giants.  If his demands come down, the Giants could possibly trade for him says the paper.

Notes:  According to ColdHardFootballFacts.com, Eli Manning is the only quarterback in NFL history to lead a last-minute, championship-winning touchdown drive when his team was down by more than three points.

The Star-Ledger is reporting that the Giants are $15 million under the $116 million salary cap.  The Bergen Record says the figure is $18 million under.

Feb 282008
 

Report – Tom Coughlin to Receive 4-Year, $21 Million Deal:  The Daily News is reporting that Head Coach Tom Coughlin will receive a 4-year, $21 million contract that will make him one of the highest paid coaches in the NFL.  The paper says there are only minor details to be resolved and the new deal could be officially announced next week.

The contract will run through the 2011 season.  Coughlin will turn 65 years old in 2011.

Giants May Lose Free Agents:  According to The Star-Ledger, an unidentified source, who has spoken with unidentified members of the Giants’ front office, says the Giants and soon-to-be unrestricted free agent FS Gibril Wilson are not close to a new deal. Newsday is reporting that a person familiar with the Giants’ situation says it is “virtually inconceivable that (the Giants) would retain Wilson.”  Newsday says the source also reports that it is “doubtful” that the team would be able to re-sign soon-to-be unrestricted free agents LB Kawika Mitchell and LB Reggie Torbor.

Free agency begins tonight at 12:01 AM EST.  Supposedly Wilson is seeking a contract that will pay him roughly $5 million per season, more than the team is willing to spend on a safety that is considered good, but not elite.  Teams rumored to be interested in Wilson include the Eagles, Jaguars, and Broncos.

Giants Tender Butler and Lorenzen, but Not Awasom:  The Giants have tendered restricted free agents SS James Butler and QB Jared Lorenzen.  DE Adrian Awasom was not tendered, thus making him an unrestricted free agent.

Butler was tendered at the 2nd round qualifying offer level (1-year contract, $1.47 million).  If another team signs him to an offer sheet, the Giants have the option to match or let him go.  In return, the Giants would receive that team’s 2nd round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft if Butler were to depart.

Lorenzen was tendered at the lower qualifying offer level (1-year contract, $927,000).  The Giants would have the right to match any offer to Lorenzen, but because he was tendered at the lower level and was an undrafted free agent, the Giants would receive no compensation in return if Lorenzen were allowed to leave.

Article on WR David Tyree:  Tyree Talks the Talk, and Also Wears the Helmet by Nate Schweber of The New York Times

Notes and Quotes:  The Giants are believed to be $15-20 million under the 2008 salary cap (The Journal News says $17 million).

Giants’ President and CEO John Mara on free agency:  “I don’t think we’re going to be real aggressive.  It’s going to depend on who’s out there and what the numbers are.  We are in good cap shape.  There are some guys on our roster we want to sign before they hit the free agency market in a year or two.  But we don’t have any real specific plans to target anybody.”

Feb 272008
 

New York Giants 2008 NFL Free Agency Preview: The Super Bowl Champion New York Giants do not have a lot of holes on the roster, but there are areas where they can help themselves.  Much depends on which of their own free agents are re-signed or not, most notably FS Gibril Wilson, LB Kawika Mitchell, HB Derrick Ward, and LB Reggie Torbor.  Whether Michael Strahan retires or not will also influence personnel decisions.

I do not expect the Giants to be overly active in free agency.  While the Giants have the cap space, the pickings – for the second year in a row – are pretty slim.  The few quality guys who will be available will be dramatically overpriced.  Supply and demand.  There isn’t much out there and a lot of teams have cap space.

The Giants are in good shape at all of their starting positions with the possible exception of safety.  Because the Giants are a young team, General Manager Jerry Reese may choose to use his available cap space this season on extending contracts of players already on the roster.

The following are my thoughts on the Giants’ offseason needs which should be addressed either by free agency or the draft.  I have identified some unrestricted free agents who have caught my eye.  This is not an exhaustive list.  Some of these guys will be off the market by the time free agency starts at midnight on February 29th.  And there will be others available as teams cut players.  So please take this preview for what it is – a snapshot of the free agent market at 11:30AM on February 27.

While it is very important not to overrate your own talent, especially when coming off of a championship season, I don’t see a lot of room on this roster for second- or third-tier-type free agents on this team.  The Giants will have seven draft picks in April (they traded away their 7th rounder but gained an additional 6th rounder).  My preference – and I think that of the Giants as well – is to fill remaining DEPTH openings with rookies (aside from back-up quarterback).  If the Giants do pursue a veteran free agent, I think they will look at quality players who are likely starters.  These type of players will be expensive – perhaps prohibitively so.  The Giants may want to remain quiet for the bulk of the free agent signing period.

Quarterbacks:  The question here is the back-up situation.  Can the Giants do better than Anthony Wright?  A year after being promoted the second-string spot, Jared Lorenzen fell to third-team in 2007.  He is a restricted free agent.  And he’s still very fat.  How important is the game to him?  A word of warning – the free agent quarterback market is pretty bad this year.

  • Todd Collins (Washington Redskins, 6-4, 225, 36):  A career back-up who started the final three games of the 2007 regular season for the Redskins and won all three games with a 106.4 quarterback rating.  Smart.  Makes good decisions and is accurate.
  • Billy Volek (San Diego Chargers, 6-2, 214, 31):  A career back-up who has started 10 games in his career.  Led the Chargers on a game-winning TD drive over the Colts in the playoffs.  Started 8 games for the Titans in 2004 and played well with an 87.1 quarterback rating.

Running Backs:  Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw are obviously the top two halfbacks on the team.  If the Giants re-sign Derrick Ward, then the Giants are set at this position.  If Ward departs, then the Giants will likely add another running back in free agency or the draft (my guess would be the draft).  Reuben Droughns is still in the picture, but he is ordinary at best.  Madison Hedgecock is entrenched as the fullback.

  • Mewelde Moore (Minnesota Vikings, 5-11, 209, 25):  Productive part-time player.  Very good punt returner.  Can catch the football out of the backfield.  Physical, aggressive runner who is somewhat injury prone.  Smart.

Wide Receivers:  Plaxico Burress and Steve Smith are the only sure, long-term contributors.  Amani Toomer will likely play at least one more season with the Giants.  Sinorice Moss has been a disappointment.  David Tyree and Domenik Hixon are mainly special teams players.  What the Giants lack is a consistent, reliable deep threat to stretch the field.  Also, if Plaxico Burress is lost due to an injury, the Giants would be in trouble.  I believe this is one of the Giants’ biggest need areas.

  • Randy Moss (New England Patriots, 6-4, 210, 31):  One of the most dangerous receivers in football and a superb deep threat.  Has an excellent size/speed combination.  Accrued 1,493 yards and an NFL record 23 touchdowns in 2007.
  • Bernard Berrian (Chicago Bears, 6-1, 185lbs, 27):  Berrian is a speed receiver who would provide a good deep threat for the G-Men.  In the past two regular seasons, he’s caught 122 passes for 1,726 yards and 11 touchdowns – despite having crappy quarterbacks throwing to him.  He has really improved his route running and ball skills.  Not a physical player.
  • Jerry Porter (Oakland Raiders, 6-2, 220, 29):  Older player who can still get deep.  Not a great route runner.  Has had some attitude issues.  Averaged 16 yards per catch on 44 receptions in 2007 with bad quarterbacks.  Excellent size/speed combination with good body control and hands.
  • Bryant Johnson (Arizona Cardinals, 6-3, 213, 26):  Johnson has been stuck behind Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona, but he has been productive.  Tough receiver who adjusts well to the football.  Not a blazer, but he has good speed.  In 2006, he averaged 18.5 yards per catch on 40 catches.  In 2007, that per catch average dropped to 11.5 on 46 receptions.
  • Andre Davis (Houston Texans, 6-1, 195, 28):  Davis has good size and excellent speed.  Elusive.  Good blocker.  So-so hands.  Started 8 games in 2007, catching 33 passes for 583 yards (17.6 yards per catch average) and three touchdowns.  Davis is also a dangerous kickoff returner with 3 returns for touchdowns in 2007.
  • D.J. Hackett (Seattle Seahawks, 6-2, 208, 26):  An improving player who missed 10 games in 2007 with high ankle sprains.  Has good size and can leap.  Not overly quick or fast.

Tight Ends:  If Jeremy Shockey returns near 100 percent, then the Giants are in good shape here with him and Kevin Boss.  The third tight end spot is likely up for grabs between Michael Matthews and Darcy Johnson.

Offensive Line:  David Diehl did a really nice job at left tackle in just his first season at that position.  And he will get better with more experience.  Kareem McKenzie is one of the best right tackles in football.  Guy Whimper provides solid depth and the Giants thought enough of Adam Koets to keep him around on the 53-man roster all season.  Inside, Chris Snee is one of the best guards and Rich Seubert is solid.  Shaun O’Hara is the leader of the offensive line.  Grey Ruegamer is a solid reserve but the team may look to get younger and better inside.  Kevin Boothe is intriguing as a former starter who still has an upside.  The big question here is are the Giants happy with their starting five?  I think they are.  I don’t think they want to mess with the chemistry and continuity of one of the better lines in the NFL.  My guess is they will be more apt to add additional guard/center depth in the draft rather than sign a veteran free agent.

  • OG Alan Faneca (Pittsburgh Steelers, 6-5, 307, 31):  One of the better guards in football, but he will turn 32 in December.  Tough, hardworking, and plays with an attitude.  Very good run blocker who sometimes struggles with quickness in pass protection.
  • LT Flozell Adams (Dallas Cowboys, 6-7, 340, 32):  Adams played at an exceptionally high level in 2007 after a down season in 2006.  Huge player who can muscle and maul as a run blocker.  Not pretty as a pass blocker, but he gets the job done.  His long arms and strength make it difficult for linemen to get past him once engaged.  Not a good puller.  Will he still play at a high level once he has a big contract?  Turns 33 in May.

Defensive End:  Much depends on whether Michael Strahan retires.  If he does not, the Giants are set at defensive end.  If he does retire, the Giants have a strong starting combination in Osi Umemyiora and Justin Tuck, but could use more depth (unless the team moves Mathias Kiwanuka back to defensive end).  Dave Tollefson is intriguing too.  Adrian Awasom has been around the team for a few years now and could be a solid reserve, but the Giants would ideally like someone more explosive.  However, I wouldn’t look for that kind of guy to come from free agency since good defensive ends are very expensive and would likely look for another team where the they are guaranteed to start.

Defensive Tackle:  The Giants have a solid, but unspectacular, starting combination in Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield.  Jay Alford looks primed to contribute more as a pass rusher.  Manny Wright has intriguing ability but comes with emotional baggage.  If the Giants could land a top-notch tackle, the entire defense would become even more deadly.  However, teams rarely let top-notch defensive tackles become available in free agency.  The two good defensive tackles – Albert Haynesworth and Corey Williams – were franchised.  The rest do not inspire.

  • Rod Coleman (Released by Atlanta Falcons, 6-2, 285, 31):  Almost signed with the Giants in 2004.  Recovering from ruptured quadriceps muscle.  Coleman is an undersized tackle who is a much better pass rusher than run defender.  Can get mauled at the point of attack, but disrupts with quickness.  Very good interior pass rusher.  He turns 32 in August.

Linebacker:  The overall concern here is that the Giants are not very fast or athletic at linebacker.  It’s difficult to see the Giants even contemplating replacing Antonio Pierce, however, because of what he brings to the defense from both a leadership and mental standpoint.  The Giants say they want to re-sign Kawika Mitchell and Reggie Torbor.  Mitchell was a valuable addition to the defense but he lacks the speed/athleticism teams usually seek in a 4-3 weakside linebacker.  Torbor, a solid reserve who also lacks explosiveness, may look to another team for a better chance to start.  Clouding matters somewhat other players on the roster.  Gerris Wilkinson may actually be a better option at weakside linebacker than Mitchell.  Is Zak DeOssie ready to push for playing time as a linebacker?  Will (and can) the Giants keep Mathias Kiwanuka at strongside linebacker?

  • Lance Briggs (Chicago Bears, 6-1, 240, 27):  Friend and former college teammate of Antonio Pierce.  Pro Bowl weakside linebacker.  Good athlete with fine speed.  Has averaged well over 100 tackles per season in his five years in the NFL.  Can blitz, cover, and play the run.
  • Landon Johnson (Cincinnati Bengals, 6-2, 232, 26):  Weakside linebacker.  Smart, hardworking, and instinctive.  Lacks classic size, but he is an aggressive player with good speed and range.  Tackles well and can cover.  Can be mauled at times against the run.
  • Rosevelt Colvin (Released by New England Patriots, 6-3, 250, 30):  The Giants were interested in signing Colvin in 2003 before he signed with New England.  His 2003 season was cut short by a hip injury.  He also missed 10 games in 2007 with a foot injury.  Colvin is a big, strong linebacker who rushes the passer very well.  Not as good against the run as he should be.  Lacks ideal agility for pass coverage.

Cornerback:  The situation at cornerback has dramatically changed with the shocking progression of Corey Webster in the playoffs.  If the Giants believe that Webster has really turned the corner, then cornerback is not as pressing a need as it appeared it would be.  However, Sam Madison is older and the Giants would ideally like to replace R.W. McQuarters.  If the Giants like Aaron Ross and Corey Webster as starters, with Kevin Dockery as a nickel, then I don’t really see the Giants going after a high-priced veteran cornerback (but addressing the position in the draft).  However, if the Giants still are concerned about Webster, then all bets are off.  How legitimate are the rumors that the Giants are interested in possibly trading for CB DeAngelo Hall (Falcons) and CB Marcus Trufant (Seahawks)?

  • Asante Samuel (New England Patriots, 5-10, 185, 27):  Pro Bowl performer who has picked off 16 passes and has 32 pass defenses the past two seasons.  Lacks ideal size and speed.  Better in zone than man coverage.  More of a cover-2 corner who may not be well suited to the Giants’ defensive system that employs more aggressive man coverage.  Smart and instinctive.  Makes plays.  Samuel is looking for a huge payday.
  • Drayton Florence (San Diego Chargers, 6-0, 195, 27):  Lost his starting job to All-World Antonio Cromartie.  Played well as a nickel back for the Chargers.  He has intercepted a total of 10 passes the past four seasons with 36 pass defenses.  Has a good combination of size and athleticism.  Versatile – can play inside or outside.  Can play man and stick to receivers.  Not overly instinctive.  Good tackler.

Safeties:  This is the biggest need area on defense.  A huge key is whether or not the Giants can re-sign Gibril Wilson.  If they do not re-sign him, this position becomes one of concern to one of alarm.  Michael Johnson shows promise but is still learning.  James Butler has not been impressive (though he was slowed with a hamstring issue much of the season).  Andrew Shanle was on the Practice Squad.

  • Madieu Williams (Cincinnati Bengals, 6-1, 203, 26):  Williams has started 45 games in four seasons with the Bengals.  He has 9 career interceptions.  Williams is a good athlete who can play both man and zone coverage.  Has good range.  Needs to improve his tackling.  Good blitzer.  Tough and competitive.
  • Eugene Wilson (New England Patriots, 5-10, 195, 27):  Lacks ideal size, but he has experience at both safety and cornerback.  Good range.  Can play some man.  In 2003-04, Wilson had a total of 8 interceptions, but just 2 since then.  Good tackler.

Kickers:  With Jeff Feagles and Lawrence Tynes returning, there is no need here.

Feb 272008
 

New Contract for PK Lawrence Tynes Finalized:  Though it was reported a couple of weeks ago that PK Lawrence Tynes had agreed to a new 5-year contract with the Giants, no official announcement has yet been forthcoming from the team.  However, according to NFLPA.org, the Giants and Tynes have officially finalized the deal.

New York Giants Re-Sign DT Manny Wright:  According to NFLPA.org, the Giants have re-signed DT Manny Wright to a 1-year deal.  Wright was scheduled to become an Exclusive Rights Free Agent on February 29th had he been tendered.

Feb 262008
 

Michael Strahan Postpones Retirement Decision:  DE Michael Strahan originally said he would make a decision on whether he would return for another season in March.  However, Strahan now says that it will take longer than that.

“I don’t know now because the season kind of extended a lot further than I thought,” said Strahan.  “I’m thinking March is next week.  There’s no way by next week.  You know, I want to take a vacation.  I want to get away.  I haven’t been able to do that, and I don’t have anything planned until the middle of next month and I won’t be back until the beginning of the following month.  So it won’t be in March. That’s too early.”

Strahan now hopes to make his decision before the 2008 NFL Draft in late April.

The Daily News Giants’ blog is reporting that several people close to Strahan say he is not close to making a decision.  The blog contends that the Giants and Strahan’s agent have not talked contract since March 2007.  However, The Daily News blog reports that General Manager Jerry Reese spoke to Strahan briefly at the ticker tape parade after the Super Bowl and told Strahan, “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you.”

The Daily News blog says that Strahan and his agent will meet with Reese and possibly Giants’ ownership in March before Strahan goes on vacation.  Newsday is reporting that one unidentified source “familiar with the Giants’  situation”  has said that Strahan would “almost certainly return” if the Giants upped Strahan’s salary from the $4 million he is due in 2008 on the last year of his current contract to $7 million.

“You know what?  If (money) were the reason to come back then I wouldn’t have come back last year because they didn’t do anything (with my contract),” said Strahan.  “That stuff is secondary.  The biggest thing is, ‘Do I want to play?’  At this point I want to play because I love to play.  I don’t want to get out there and do it for money because I’ll end up getting hurt.  At this age, I don’t want to be hurt anymore.”

“Do I think I can muster up 16-plus games, that’s the question,” Strahan said.  “I don’t want to be a has-been or a guy that used to be good…This could be it.  I don’t know of any better way to finish than this…You know, you couldn’t write a story any better to ride off into the sunset this way.  But like I said, I just haven’t decided exactly how I want to end it.  It’s a long season, man.  I’m physically and mentally tired.  It’s tough.”

“We’ll see,” said Strahan.  “I might be back.”

“He’s coming back,” said DE Osi Umenyiora.  “Don’t listen to all that.”

“You can’t replace (Strahan).  You can’t,” said LB Antonio Pierce.  “It was obvious when he wasn’t there in spring ball or training camp.  He was missed, not only as an athlete but as a person.”

February 26, 2008 New York Giants News and Rumors:  Here are the latest news and rumors published by the beat writers who cover the Giants either in newspaper articles or their online blogs:

  • Ralph Vacchiano (Daily News) says that it is growing increasingly likely that soon-to-be unrestricted free agent FS Gibril Wilson will reach the open market on February 29th.  Vacchiano states that Wilson wants to test his worth.  He reports that the Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars, and at least three other unidentified teams are interested in Wilson.
  • Bob Glauber (Newsday) speculates that General Manager Jerry Reese knows that the cost of trading for CB DeAngelo Hall (Falcons) may be prohibitive and the Giants’ rumored interest is designed to merely drive up the asking price for other NFL teams, specifically the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins.
  • DE Osi Umenyiora was asked if would ask for more money or even possibly hold out if the Giants do not redo his contract.  “I can tell you, in this game, everyone wants more money,” responded Umenyiora. “I can neither confirm nor deny that speculation.”
Feb 242008
 

February 24, 2008 New York Giants News and Rumors:  Here are the latest rumors published by the beat writers who cover the Giants:

  • Vinny DiTrani (Bergen Record) is reporting that DE Michael Strahan will retire unless the Giants offer him more money than the $4 million in salary he is due in 2008 in the final year of his contract.  “It’s not worth him to come back an play for $4 million,” an unidentified source told the paper.  “If the Giants give him more money, he’ll play. If not, he’ll retire.”
  • Ralph Vacchiano (Daily News), Vinny DiTrani (Bergen Record), and Mike Garafolo (Star-Ledger) report that WR Plaxico Burress may be seeking a restructured contract that will pay him more money.  “That is going to be between myself and the Giants,” said Burress’ agent.  “I can’t comment on that publicly.”  Burress is currently under contract through the 2010 season.
  • Garafolo says that DE Osi Umenyiora is not happy with his current contract after the new deal DE Justin Tuck received towards the end of last season.
  • DiTrani reports that there have been rumors that LT David Diehl may be seeking a raise.  He also says that General Manager Jerry Reese would like to extend the contracts of a few players, including RG Chris Snee.
  • TE Jeremy Shockey’s agent provided the following update on his client:  “Jeremy had surgery.  He’s out of the boot.  He’s walking.  He’s been cleared by Doctor (Robert) Anderson.  He’ll be ready to go for the offseason program.”
  • The agent for DT William Joseph expects the Giants to void the last two years of his client’s contract, making Joseph an unrestricted free agent.
  • The agent for HB Reuben Droughns does not expect the Giants to cut his client.
  • Vacchiano is reporting that CB R.W. McQuarters may be waived.

Article on General Manager Jerry Reese:  Reese Enjoys the Fruits of His Role in Scouting by John Branch of The New York Times

Feb 232008
 

More on the Giants’ Interest in CB DeAngelo Hall:  Beside the Giants, Newsday is reporting that two other NFC East teams – the Cowboys and Redskins – are interested in possibly trading for Atlanta Falcons’ CB DeAngelo Hall.  The Star-Ledger says that the Buccaneers and Dolphins are also interested in Hall.  Teams can not actually trade for a player until the trading period deadline begins next Friday.

The Ledger reports that the Giants have heavily researched Hall.  In addition to his obvious talent, the Giants supposedly like Hall’s passion and enthusiasm for the game.

Giants Interested in Trading for CB Marcus Trufant?:  Newsday is reporting that the Giants may be interested in trading for CB Marcus Trufant, a soon-to-be unrestricted free agent who was recently protected with the Franchise Tag by the Seattle Seahawks.

Quotes:  General Manager Jerry Reese on what positions the Giants would like to strengthen in the NFL Draft: “We don’t want to show our hand in this thing.  We just like to create competition at every position.  That’s what we want to do going into training camp.  We’d like to have depth at every position.  You guys can see some places where we think we need some depth and we’ll probably work on those positions.”

Reese on whether the Giants might consider moving LT David Diehl back to guard:  “I’ve said this before, you win championships with David Diehl.  All he does is come to work every day.  Any position you want him to play, he plays.  He plays every snap every day.  He’s not a blue goose left tackle, but we won a championship with him at left tackle.  If you ask him, he’ll tell you his natural position is probably left tackle.  He likes to play out there.  It’s a challenge to him.  He goes against Osi (Umenyiora) every day.  You get some serious reps when you go against Osi every day.  I love the guy.  He works so hard.  I think you win championships with guys like him.”

Reese on DE Michael Strahan possibly retiring:  “Michael and I haven’t had a conversation since the Super Bowl.  We were elated and happy for each other the night of the Super Bowl.  We said we’d talk at some point.  We do want him back.  But 15 years is a long time down in those trenches.  He’s got the ring, he’s first ballot Hall of Famer – so he has a big decision to make.”

Reese on TE Jeremy Shockey:  “Jeremy is coming off the injury.  Our doctors and trainers say he’s going to be a hundred percent coming back.  He’s going to be our starting tight end, so we’ll have two nice tight ends going into next season.  We’re looking forward to having him back.”

Feb 222008
 
New York Giants 2008 NFL Draft Pre-Combine Primer

by KWALL for BigBlueInteractive.com

Players of interest at positions of need for the New York Giants.

After a young team wins a Super Bowl there probably aren’t a lot of positions of need.  For our Giants, safety position has some issues, maybe more speed at outside linebacker, some depth behind middle linebacker Antonio Pierce, interior offensive linemen, and backup quarterback can use a boost.   Overall, this team is entering the 08 off season in outstanding shape.  Salary cap is in order.  We have a sharp football guy making the calls on personnel.   A very young team.  Defensive line and offensive line are talented and deep.  And a young and emerging quarterback coming off one heck of a playoff run.  It’s a very good time to be a Giants fan.

I reviewed some of the guys to watch out for during Combine week.  Some play the positions of need.  Others are some of the more intriguing athletes in the draft.

SAFETIES: Many fans realize safety could be a big problem in 08.  If the Giants lose Gibril Wilson, we’re in trouble at this position.  Even if they give Wilson the $25+ mill he will demand (and get from some NFL team), Giants still need some safety help.  I’m a Wilson fan but that price tag could be too much.  If we lose him we need to bring in two new players at this position.

It is a very weak class at the safety position.  The consensus top player is Kenny Phillips from Miami, the #1 safety in the country out of high school.  He was supposed to be the next great one at Miami, but he never made it there.  He was overrated throughout his college career.  Most draft guys have him as a top 10-15 pick.  That’s ridiculous.  He isn’t an impact DB.  He’ll be there at #31.  I’d like to see Giants pass on this guy.  For me, he picks his spots to mix it up too much.  Phillips doesn’t support the run with enough urgency.   He did a lot of standing around last year as Miami D got ripped every Saturday for a lot of big gains.

Here are some of the better safety prospects at the Combine:

  • Michael Grant (Arkansas): Sprinter.  Not many talking about him now.  That will change in about 1 week.  After combine he’ll be in the round 2 mix.  Only 1 year at S after playing CB.  A very willing hitter with exceptional range.  Will fill the alley and toss his body around.  Strong in special teams coverage as well.  Could be the man at the bottom of round 2 for the Giants.
  • Thomas Decoud (California): Another former CB.   Good speed.  Looks very thin in legs and arms.  Tackling is questionable.  A drag down type.  Could be a problem as your last line of defense in the NFL unless he adds some weight and power.  Probably a late round 3/early 4 player.
  • DJ Parker (Virginia Tech): I watched a lot of VT this year.  Parker was one of three defenders who really jumped out at me (Adibi and Flowers are the others).  They can all fly and hit.  I’d be thrilled with a draft of these 3 players in rds 1-3.  Parker has been overlooked on that fast defense.  He can run.  Played some CB early in career.  Moved to S to get on the field.  The type of versatile S the Giants need.
  • Jonathan Hefney (Tennessse): Size is only negative.  If he was 2” taller he could be a first round S.  Very fast player.  Good tackler.  Comes up hard and quickly cuts down ball carriers.  Has the quickness to step up and man slot WRs.  Added bonus of top return game.  Interesting prospect at the bottom of round 2.
  • Tyrell Johnson (Arkansas State): Sun Belt Player of the year.  Best part of his game is run support.  He’ll fly up and hit.  Reliable tackler and he can run.  Recently listed in Mike Mayock’s top 5 at S.
  • Nehemiah Warrick (Michigan State): JR college WR and kick returner.   Only a few years on defense.  Very aggressive player in run support.   Could surprise with 4.4s at Combine.
  • DaJuan Morgan (North Carolina State): Early entry junior with a lot of range.  Very good open field tackler.  A tackling machine from the safety position.  Should be on the list of round 2 targets for the Giants.  This kid would offer a major boost at Butler’s starting safety spot.
  • Marcus Griffin (Texas): Not in his brother’s class(Michael Griffin round 1 in 07 to TEN).  Good athlete.  Workout should be fine.  Open tackling isn’t.  Also not a top cover guy.  Maybe a 3rd rounder.
  • Jamie Silva (Boston College): He lacks the top athletic ability, speed, and change of direction you want at DB in the NFL.  But the guy will run through anything to get to the ball.  And despite the athletic limitations he was a heck of a pass defender.  Some highlight reel INTs and very few completions in his area.  Still a late round guy but he’ll stick in the NFL.

Here are some of the stiffs at safety.  These players will struggle to cover the deep half and in man situations.  Teams are better off looking at these larger CB prospects and moving them to S.  Giants shouldn’t consider any of the following.

  • Josh Barrett (Arizona State): Huge safety.  LB size. He says he has CB speed.  Doesn’t play like it.  Open field tackling liability.  Benched this year.
  • Tom Zbikowski (Notre Dame): Reminds me of Will Demps.  Maybe a little more speed.  But comes with same problems.  Stiff.  Short-armed.  Open field tackling, coverage, and range are sup par for an NFL DB.  Could run a good 40 but still a future backup or problem starter.
  • Quintin Demps (UTEP): I’d rather not have another Demps on the Giants.  Plays a lot like Will too.  That isn’t a good thing.  Round 5+.
  • Jamar Adams (Michigan): Plenty of size.  Big hitter on occasion but too stiff in coverage on the collegiate level.
  • Caleb Campbell (Army): Size and workout will impress.  Play on field doesn’t.  Very weak tackler for a big S.
  • Chris Horton (UCLA): No thanks.  Same story as the rest.  If we were going with a late round UCLA safety I’d take his teammate Keys.  He’ll be at the Combine as well.

With such a weak class and little depth at S, converted CBs could be the thing in the 08 Draft.  Instead of some college safety who will struggle to match up the NFL teams will look for more converted CBs this year.  How about another Tanard Jackson?  Converted CB was a top rookie S last year.   If you want a S in the draft this year you may have to find another CB to move inside.

Here are a few CB prospects with the skills to make the switch inside to S:

  • Brandon Sumrall (Southern Mississippi): This is a player I really like.  Summrall was an all-conference safety in 06.  Played a lot of CB in 07 as an injury replacement and made all conference at CB.  Just about every draft site lists him as a lightly regarded CB in this draft.  They’re missing it on Sumrall.  I have no doubt he’ll move back to S in the NFL.  He’s a guy who loves to hit and knows how to come in full speed and run through a ball carrier.  Probably not fair to compare anybody to Colts S Bob Sanders but I see some of it with his aggressive play and hustle.  Probably not as explosive as Sanders.  Not jacked up like Sanders either but a similar style when supporting the run.  A missile when tackling.  His hits lead to fumbles.  I think he has the speed too. Watch for him this week at Combine.
  • Dwight Lowery (San Jose State): Outstanding college player.  A real junior college find for San Jose St.  A lot of INTs but not many think he has the speed for an NFL CB.  He has good hands and he’s tough.  He should put on 10-15 lbs and move to S where he can keep everything in front of him and make some plays on the ball.
  • Terrell Thomas (USC): 6 foot plus and physical player.  Solid tackler.  Started off at safety at USC.  If he wants to play in the NFL he needs to move back to safety.  Effective press CB in college.  Speed isn’t there to succeed in the NFL.  Probably won’t run at Combine and go with faster track at USC.
  • Chevis Jackson (LSU): Physcial press CB in college but NFL is a different game at CB.  Jackson is another kid who will run in the high 4’5s to 4.6.  His best position could be at S.
  • Antoine Cason (Arizona): Not a good match for the Giants at CB because many question if Cason can hold up with the speed in the NFL.  Tough enough to make the move to S.
  • Simeon Castille (Alabama): Good college CB.  Playing a year with CB guru Saban helps but look for a move to S in the NFL.  Size is there.  He’s 6’1” and close to 200lbs.  Should run in the high 4.5s.
  • Reggie Smith (Oklahoma): Played S in 05 and 06.  CB in 07 and made first team all Big 12.  Also a punt returner.  Offers a lot of versatility.  In the late round one mix.
  • Aqib Talib (Kansas): Lightly recruited out of high school because of 4.6 speed.  Developed into a big time playmaker at CB this year.  However, he had trouble on some deep routes where his lack of speed was exposed.  At close to 6’2” with exceptional hands a move to S in the NFL is possible.

CORNERBACKS: Big question for Giants at CB is “What do we have with Corey Webster?”  I’m still not sold on him.  Ross?  I’m sold on.  I still have my doubts on Webster so we may need to look for a CB in this draft preferably in rounds 2, 3, or 4.

  • Brandon Flowers (Virginia Tech): NFL Advisory board gave the Jr a 2nd round grade so he came out early.  I’d love him in round 2 for the Giants.  Best tackler in the draft at CB.  Physical player in every aspect of the game.  Explosive to the ball vs run and pass.  Effective blitzer.  Long armed and can really cover.  A lot of questions about his size/speed.   I think he measures over 5’10” and showcases plenty of speed at Combine.   I thought Flowers was kind of a forgotten man in this deep CB class.  That changed last week when Mike Mayock touted him on the NFL Network and ranked Flowers as his #1 CB and potentially a top 10 overall pick.
  • Charles Godfrey (Iowa): Made the uncommon move from S to CB in college and thrived.  2 years at CB.  His play steadily improved in year 1.  Big jump in year 2.  Stood out again at Senior Bowl practices.  200+lbs, aggressive tackler, and 4.3 speed.  Will he last until #31 and offer the Giants immediate help at CB, S, and as a return man?
  • Mike Jenkins (South Florida): At NFLDraftScout.com, they list him as the top CB in this draft.  They’re overrating him.  Some talk about 4.3s and a draft spot in the top 10 overall.  I don’t believe it.  Don’t be surprised if he ducks Combine.  On field just don’t see enough elite athletic ability for a high round 1 pick at CB.  This isn’t a Dante Hall or Dunta Robinson type athlete.  A lot closer to Corey Webster.  We’ll see soon.
  • Trae Williams (South Florida): Look for Williams to step up and run at Combine.  He’s a sleeper you’ll hear more about after big Combine.  Excellent field speed and quickness.  If he had a little more size he’d be the round 1 CB from S Florida and not teammate Jenkins.  I’ll take Williams in round 3 over Jenkins in round 1 any day.  It wouldn’t surprise me if Williams developed into the better NFL player.
  • Dejuan Tribble (Boston College): Rough Senior Bowl week.  Short at only 5’8.5”.  Needs a big Combine to get back in round 3 mix.  Probably won’t deliver.
  • Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Tennessee State): Small school player but a fast riser after dominating at Senior Bowl.  Everybody knows him now.  Long and explosive. I expect Combine workout will move him to CB #1 in 08 draft. Also played S during Senior Bowl week.  Return guy.
  • Jack Williams (Kent State): The NFL made the mistake of over looking his teammate in 07 in CB Usama Young and not offering a Combine invite.  Young was the highest drafted guy not invited to Combine.   Young lit up his proday with 4.3s and 40” verticals and went round 3 to Saints.  Williams lacks Young’s ideal size but he should be right there with the speed.  Look for Williams to jump after big workout at Combine.  Could offer Giants some nickel help in mid rounds.
  • Justin Tryon (Arizona State): Smaller CB but very quick.  Shut down all WRs at Shrine Game.  Are the Giants looking for a mid to late round guy who can cover the slot?
  • Tyvon Branch (Connecticut): 6 ft CB will put up workout numbers.  Excellent return guy too.  Probably better special teams player than CB.
  • Antwaun Molden (Eastern Kentucky): Impressed with physical play at Texas Nations All-Star Game.  Played safety at Toledo before transferring.  A small school guy with the size and press skills the Giants could be interested in drafting in mid rounds.  Possibly a move back to S in the NFL.
  • Trace Porter (Indiana): Very small.  Thin.  Top shelf quickness and speed.  Tackling?  Not a plus.
  • Patrick Lee (Auburn): Solid week at Senior Bowl.  Good press CB.  Long speed questions.
  • Leodis McKelvin (Troy): Didn’t live up to the hype at Senior Bowl  Overshadowed by the other small school CB Rodgers-Cromartie.  Late first round CB and return man.

LINEBACKERS: We lack speed and coverage skills at this position.  Kawika Mitchell and Reggie Torbor could be gone.  Pierce is a subpar athlete in the middle.  Zak DeOssie showed nothing outside of special teams.  We could use an infusion of speed and youth.  A few obvious questions for Giants this offseason at the LB position.

  1. Was that player wearing #59 vs New England Patriots in week 17 for real?  It sure would help if Gerris Wilkinson was ready for a bigger role and could give us some more speed at LB.
  2. What to do with unrestricted free agent  Kawika Mitchell?  Easily one of the top free agent signing by any team in 07.  Giants got a lot of production at a thin position from Mitchell.   After SB win, he’ll be looking for more cash and security.
  3. How about OLB Rory Johnson?  Only one year of Division I ball but impressed playing next to Willis at Ole Miss.  Ran in mid 4.5s at Combine.  Off field problems dropped him in 07 draft.  Could be a player in OLB rotation in 08.

LB position in this draft has several guys who could help the Giants in the late round 1 area and another group at the bottom of round 2.  Here are some of the top LBs at the Combine.

  • Xavier Adibi (Viginia Tech): One of my favorites in this draft.   Sideline to sideline, can cover and blitz. Probably will be drafted in that 30-45 range.   However, he could run in the 4.4s and that may be hard to ignore in round 1 for many teams.
  • Keith Rivers (USC): This is one USC guy who will tear up the track this week.  Look for a ripped 245 LB in the 4.5s.
  • Philip Wheeler (Georgia Tech): Giants should have a lot of interest with this smooth and hard hitting ILB.  Athletic enough to play OLB.
  • Ali Highsmith (LSU): Under 6’ but offers blazing speed along with excellent coverage and blitzing ability.
  • Quentin Groves (Auburn): If he works out this week could be the top star of Combine.  Could pass Rivers as #1 LB.  Probably moves into top 10-15 overall.
  • Curtis Lofton (Oklahoma): Short at under 6’ but powerful and he can move.  In the top 50 mix.  After Combine we should hear more talk about this explosive hitter at LB.
  • Thomas Williams (USC): Not many 2nd team players invited to Combine.  Played behind 3 future first rounders at USC.  When he saw the field he flashed plenty.  Very impressive in Rose Bowl, Hula Bowl and Shrine Game.  Can play inside or outside.  Could be a real mid round gem.  Also a special team ace and powerful hitter.  Giants should have some mid round interest here.
  • Shawn Crable (Michigan): Over 6’5 and has speed.  Can really pursue to the ball.  Will be an effective blitzer.  However, change of direction and coverage exposed at Senior Bowl.  Possible future at DE.
  • Tavares Gooden (Miami): Gooden will probably be the 3rd Miami defender picked in this draft.  That’s a mistake.  He was the best player on Miami D.  Probably will be the best NFL player as well.  Another guy who can play ILB and OLB.  Injury forced him out of Senior Bowl.  Combine is big for him.   Would love him in round 3 for Giants.
  • Wesley Woodward (Kentucky): At Senior Bowl Mike Singletary really liked him.  He’s got that tweener label right now.  Where do you play him at only 215lbs?  Is he another Peter Boulware?
  • Dan Connor (Penn State): Smaller but quicker feet than former teammate Posluszny (2nd round pick in 07).  Better athlete than he gets credit for from draftniks.  3 down LB.  Offers versatility of playing ILB or OLB in the NFL.  If Giants are looking for a LB early he’ll probably be there in the 30-40 range of this draft.  Connor could come in and start at OLB early.  Move to ILB later in career or on passing downs for Pierce.
  • Erin Henderson (Maryland): Early entry.  Only got a 3rd round grade from NFL.  I think they underreated his athletic ability.  He’s going round 2 or higher.  Very fluid LB.  His brother EJ Henderson plays for Vikings.  Better athlete than EJ.  When EJ entered draft his workout and 4.8+ time in the 40 dropped him out of round 1.  Erin is going the other way.  Don’t be too surprised if Erin’s workout pushes him into the bottom of round 1.
  • Ben Moffitt (South Florida): 4 year starter in college.  Smart pass defender.  Made some big plays vs pass in college including an INT TD in win vs West Virginia this year.   Reports say he struggled in coverage situations at Senior Bowl.  That’s going to hurt his draft value.  Is he only an undersized 2 down ILB at the nest level?  He needs a big Combine to get some of it back.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: The Giants have the best DL in the game.  Maybe we add some help at DT.  Here are some guys I’ll be watching at Combine.

  • DE Tommy Blake (TCU): One of the more interesting stories in college football the past few years.  Entering last year he was considered a future first rounder as a pass rushing DE.  An explosive edge rusher with a game built to have an impact in the NFL.  Left team before the start of the season with all types of rumors flying.  Came back to play the last few games but was not the same player.  Recently the story came out that he has a mental illness (depression and social anxiety disorder).  This illness cost him millions.  Now taking drugs for the illness.  Drugs lead to his weight gain.  Showed up at one all star game about 30lbs over his ideal playing weight.  He needs to get back down to 265.  Supposedly at that weight, he can run in the 4.5s.  If he can pull that off he could get some of that money back.
  • DT Kentwan Balmer (North Carolina): Late bloomer with only on year of top play.  Could be a late first rounder.  Mayock has him in the top 20 of this draft.
  • DT Dre Moore (Maryland): Is he the best athlete at DT in this draft?  Possibly the fastest with reports he could run in the low 4.8s.  Maybe a move to 3-4 DE in his future.
  • DT Trevor Laws (Notre Dame): Plays hard. 100+ tackles from DT position for Notre Dame this year.  Increased draft stock after displaying quick moves all week at Senior Bowl.
  • DT Pat Sims (Auburn): Had some off field issues early in his career.  His play took off in 07 highlighted by a huge performance in bowl game.  A very explosive 320lb DT and a guy who could be in the 20-40 range of this draft.

TIGHT ENDS: With the emergence of Kevin Boss and a return of Jeremy Shockey, I’d think we were set at this position.  But you have to ask yourself why were the Giants spending so much time with the tight ends at the Senior Bowl?  DraftDaddy.com had the list of players each teams spent a lot of time with at Senior Bowl.  I believe they listed five players for the Giants.  A CB, LB Highsmith from LSU, LB Wheeler from Georgia Tech, and two of the top pass catching TEs in the draft including my #1 guy at TE in the enormous Kellen Davis from Michigan State.  Martin Rucker from Missouri was the other player.  So keep an eye on these two at the Combine.

  • Kellen Davis (Michigan State): Over 6’6” and extremely smooth with good hands.  On top of that he’s an excellent blocker.  Tough kid.  Played some DT for Michigan State as well.  Right now, you probably see him listed at TE 5 or higher.  As nothing more than a mid round pick.  He’s better than that.   I think this player can make a run for the top TE spot in this draft.  Could be there in round 2 for the Giants.  He’s got the hands and movement skills to be the best TE in this draft.
  • Martin Rucker (Missouri): Good pass catcher with speed out of cuts to separate.  Blocking isn’t a plus.  Giants spent time with him at Senior Bowl.  Injured leg will prevent him from working out at Combine.

A few other TEs:

  • Jermichael Finley (Texas): Tall & athletic pass catcher.  Will this redshirt sophmore add some weight and maintain his 4.6 speed?  If he does, could be TE #3 or 4.
  • Martellus Bennett (Texas A&M): Close to 6’7”.   Early entry as a junior. Excellent blocker.  A 2 way threat because he can also run and make plays in pass game.  Drags tacklers for extra yards.  Another guy who has a legitimate shot at the #1 TE spot.  Can he run in the 4.6s?  It would probably add up to round 1 and possibly top 20.
  • Fred Davis (USC): Mayock says he’s going top 15-20.  I think he’s a mid 2nd round guy.  Lack of height and sub par blocking will drop him to the 50 range.  Former top WR recruit has speed and receiving skills.  Should have a good workout.   Maybe best as an H-Back.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Probably the only “position of need” on the Giants offense.  With the uncertainty of Sinorice Moss and Amani Toomer’s age, the Giants may need to add a WR in this draft.  The good news is the draft is very deep at this position.  If the Giants pull the trigger on the right player, it could mean a big jump in the play of Eli Manning in 08.  Here are a few to watch:

  • Mario Manningham (Michigan): He’s a late first rounder.  Smooth and polished.  Quick out of his cuts.
  • Limas Sweed (Texas): 6’4” but coming off a wrist injury that ended his 07 season and prevented him from doing much at Senior Bowl.  Probably will pass on most of the workout at Combine.  Maybe he runs the 40.  If he gets that 40 under 4.50 he’ll make some money this week.
  • Lavelle Hawkins (California): It wasn’t just the Desean Jackson show at Cal this year.  Two lesser known guys at Cal impressed me this year as well.  WR Hawkins and RB Forsett.  Both are explosive players and smooth pass catchers.  Hawkins had a big Senior Bowl week and that means a big boost to his draft value.  He’s moving up and out of shadow of teammate Jackson.  Big Combine could move him up to 30- 40 range.  Also has a some experience with returns.
  • Dexter Jackson (Applachian State): Mike Maycok mentioned his “lateral explosion”.  Yup, he’s got it.  Very fast and quick to change directions.  Burned Michigan defense in opener.  Made the Big 10 defenses look slow as he ran around them.  Nobody could cover him at Shrine Game.  Impressive again at Senior Bowl.  Also a return threat.   Look for him to run in the low 4.3s and tear up the shuttles.  He could help the Giants.  Jackson would be an excellent pick at the bottom of round 3 for NYG.
  • Eddie Royal (Viginia Tech): Short.  Injured as a Senior.  Good showing at Senior Bowl.  Very quick.  Will have big workout.  Added value in return game.
  • James Hardy (Indiana): 6’6” WR was originally recruited to play basketball at Indiana.  A lot of TDs.  Abused some big name CBs including King from Penn St.  Some off field stuff could hurt.  His Combine workout could hurt too.  If Giants are looking for another big WR he’ll be there at #31.   Like Dwayne Jarrett, probably mid round 2 with a drop down because of the 40.
  • Jerome Simpson (Coastal Carolina): Didn’t get the Senior Bowl invite he deserved.  Went to Shrine Game and lit it up in practices.  Good size and massive hands.  He can get up for the ball and go over the middle.  A TD machine in small school program.   Worked at highly regarded Parisi’s Speed School in NJ and it should make him some money.  Could run in the 4.4s and move past plenty of big name WRs into the bottom of round 2/early 3.
  • Andre Caldwell (Florida): May have been the most impressive WR at Senior Bowl.  A lot to like with Caldwell.  Very fast, good hands, strong runner after the catch, and a very willing blocker.  Round 1 to Giants?
  • Devin Thomas (Michigan State): Only 1 year of production in Division I but he made the most of it.  Almost 2,400 all purpose yards including 1,200+ in receiving.  Strong runner.  Probably a mid to late round 2 guy in this deep class of WRs.
  • Donnie Avery (Houston): Could be fastest WR in draft.  Needs route work.  Is Avery nothing more than a long speed vertical threat?
  • Jordy Nelson (Kansas State): Big and strong WR.  Excellent hands.  Works the middle and breaks tackles.  Proved he belonged with top talent this year.  Lit up CB Talib from Kansas.  Had impressive week of practice at Senior Bowl.  Reminds me of T.J. Hoeshmenzadah from the Bengals.  Only thing left to do is the workout.  Big workout could move him into round 2.
  • Harry Douglas (Louisville): Big play WR for Lousiville in 06.  Stole the show on that team from WR Urruttia.  Made a lot of big plays on deep posts and crossing routes.  Entering 07 I thought he had a shot at round 1.  Senior Bowl showing didn’t help.  A lot of negative talk about his routes.  You could see what they’re talking about in the game too.  Running from the slot, this 170lb WR had problems with 5-yard outs.  Took several steps to redirect.  Nothing like a guy like Welker, or even Moss from Giants, who can stick one foot in the ground and explode out of a cut.  Douglas is very fast.  Could run under 4.4.  My guess is he will run a low 4.4 40 but the shuttles will be slow especially for a smaller WR.
  • Marcus Monk (Arkansas): Over 6’6” and long armed.  Former rebounding star in basketball can high point the ball.  Looked like a future first rounder as a frosh.  Knee injuries have hurt his draft value.  This is a huge week and he can get back into round 2 with a good showing at Combine and clean bill of health.
  • Josh Morgan (Viginia Tech): Questionable hands but he’ll wow at Combine.
  • Justin Harper (Virgina Tech): Biggest and fastest of 3 Viginia Tech WR and Combine.  6’4” and possibly in the low 4.3s.
  • Dorien Bryant (Purdue): Could not get open all week at Senior Bowl.  His game worked in the Purdue system.  Moving up with better athletes could be a big problem for this 5’9” WR.  Late round pick at this point.
  • Davone Bess (Hawaii): All of the talk this year was about QB Brennan but the best players and top NFL prospects on the Hawaii team played WR.  WRs Bess and Rivers will be drafted before Brennan.  Bess is very tough.  He goes over the middle and will catch in traffic.  Strong runner after the catch.   Reception and yardage number inflated in Hawaii system with a lot of short stuff he won’t run in the NFL.  Could be an effective slot WR.  Ability to get deep in the NFL is a concern.  Combine is big opportunity to answer any speed questions.
  • Darius Reynaud (West Virginia): Very few opportunities for a WR at West Viginia.  In limited chances, he showed a desirable combination of size, speed, hands, and running skills for the next level.  Could be a real sleeper at WR.  Should get more hype after Combine.
  • Taj Smith (Syracuse): No help on Syracuse offense for Smith the past 2 years.  6’1” with 4.3 speed could get him into round 7.

QUARTERBACKS: The Giants could be in the market for a backup quarterback.  Here are a few options to watch at the Combine:

  • Kyle Wright (Miami): He should have been MUCH better at Miami.  Physical tools are there.  Can make every throw.
  • John David Booty (USC): Injuries and lack of support at WR lead to down senior year.  Lack of big time arm and size won’t help on draft day.  I think he’s a future starter in the NFL but many see him dropping because down senior year and lack of a big time arm.  Could he drop to late round 3 to Giants?
  • Josh Johnson (San Diego): Very good arm and he can move.  Can run and make big plays with feet.  Nobody impressed more at Shrine Game.
  • Kevin O’Connell (San Diego State): 6’6”.  Strong arm and plenty of mobility will get him drafted as a developmental project.
  • Matt Flynn (LSU): Another guy who can run.  Arm isn’t special but its adequate.  7th round project.
  • Dennis Dixon (Oregon): Exciting player.  He was on his way to the Heisman before the knee injury.  Injury looked ugly.  Could be out 1 year.

And a few quarterbacks to forget for the Giants.

  • Joe Flacco (Delaware): Matt Ryan backed out and opened up a Senior Bowl invite for Flacco.  He took full advantage.  He’s going top 40.  After the Combine there will be talk Flacco could be QB #1 and give Ryan a run for top QB spot in the 08 draft.
  • Anthony Morelli (Penn State): His arm is all over the place.  Not much of a shot at an NFL roster.
  • Colt Brennann (Hawaii): I wouldn’t even pay his cab fare to camp as an undrafted FA.  His head coach June Jones said NFL guys will like him once they started the evaluation process.  Not sure what Jones was talking about.  On the field, not much to like.  Below average height, only185lbs, weak arm, terrible release point, and never worked under center.  I don’t think he gets a call on day 2 of the draft.

RUNNING BACKS: Not much of a need for the Giants but this position has the deepest talent in this draft.  Here are a few I’ll be watching this week.

  • Thomas Brown (Georgia): Nobody really talking about him.  Too many injuries but very talented.  Outstanding burst and cutback skills.  Runs hard and breaks tackles.  Will be one of the steals of the draft.  Lets hope he doesn’t go to NFC East.
  • Chris Johnson (East Carolina): Late season production skyearocketed.  Also one of nations best returners.  He could be the player Reggie Bush was supposed to be in the NFL.  Johnson will be a Combine star.  And could move into the top 20 and possibly as high as RB #1.
  • Ray Rice (Rutgers): He meant a lot to Rutgers.  I love the kid and wish him the best in the NFL.  Recent article mentioned 4.4 in the 40.  I hope he hits that number.  It will mean a lot of cash for Rice because nothing else is missing from him as a prospect.  Rice is a can’t miss NFL RB.
  • Justin Forsett (California): Short but explosive back.  Massive hands.  Can give a team dependable inside running.  Looks very fast on the field so I’m interested in seeing his workout.  Right now projected in rounds 5-6 on NFL Draft Scout.
  • Dantrell Savage (Oklahoma State): Impressed at times during Senior Bowl week.  A late round 3rd down back.
  • Steve Slaton (West Virginia): Sharp drop in production in 07.  Difficult to measure RB  production in the spread offense especially with a QB such as White getting as lot of attention.  Seemed to me he lacked the explosion and burst that made him special in 06.  Is he really a 4.3 player?  We’ll find out this week.
  • Chauncey Washington (USC): A 220lb back with power and quick feet.  In deep RB class, Washington is being overlooked at this point.  That could change a little this week at Combine.
  • Jonathan Stewart (Oregon): 230+lb could give it a run for the top RB spot.  Very strong especially in the lower body.
  • Peyton Hillis (Arkansas): A lot of love for Owen Schmidt on BBI but this guy is FB #1.  Very impressive burst for this 245lb back.   Probably not just a FB.  I think he can play RB in the NFL.
  • Owen Schmidt (West Virginia): Tall FB.  Gets a chance to showcase legendary strength and 4.60 speed.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: We’ve had mixed reviews for David Diehl at left tackle.  I thought he was pretty solid overall for his first shot at left tackle.  I think we’re more than fine with Deihl at that position for the next few years.  The Giants probably could use some interior offensive line help.

OFFENSIVE GUARDS:

  • Branden Albert (Virginia): Close to 6’7” and 320lbs.  Within the past week Mike Mayock called him the best pulling OL to enter the NFL in many years.  If that statement is true Albert is going to be a heck of a weapon in the NFL.  Not hard to imagine the damage Jacobs and Bradshaw can do behind a dominate pulling interior beast like Albert.
  • Heath Benedict (Newberry): Giants spent some time with him at Senior Bowl.  Can pull and hit on the move.  Versatility as G/OT adds more value.

A few potential 3rd/4th round guards:

  • Drew Radovich (USC): Can play tackle or guard.
  • Donald Thomas (Connecticut): Post-season riser can move.  Could steal the show at Combine.
  • Roy Schuening (Oregon State): Very strong player.  One of the top interior run blockers in the draft.  Had problems with Ellis at USC.
  • Eric Young (Tennessee): Guard and tackle.  Coming off leg injury.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES: Names to watch for include Gosder Cherilus from Boston College, Jeff Otah from Pittsburgh, Sam Baker from USC, Anthony Collins from Kansas, and Chris Williams from Vanderbilt.  These guys are mostly first rounders.  All could be in the top 40.  And finally a Rutgers plug.  RU has two offensive linemen joining Ray Rice at the Combine:

  • Jeremy Zuttah (Rutgers): He turned down Ohio State to stay home and play at RU.  He’s been a rock for the team.  Played a lot of tackle at Rutgers.  Rarely allowed a sack.  Projected inside in the NFL.  Weight is an issue.  He struggles to carry 300.  But he can move, pull and get to the 2nd level.   A mid round G prospect.
  • Pedro Sosa (Rutgers): Played LT and excelled in pass protection.  Shutdown everybody he faced including top pass rushers Elvis Dummervil from Louisville, George Selvie from South Florida, and 06 Big 12 Defensive player of the year Ian Campbell from Kansas State.  Sosa dominated these players.  It was man vs boy.  Measurables are huge for Sosa this week.  He needs to come in at 300 or more.  And he needs to keep his quick feet.  Could break 5.0 in 40.  I think he can move into the top 8-10 at OT in this draft.
Feb 222008
 

New York Giants Interested in Trading for CB DeAngelo Hall:  According to The Star-Ledger, the Giants have held preliminary discussions with the Atlanta Falcons regarding a trade for Falcons’ CB DeAngelo Hall.  The Ledger says the Giants are willing to part ways with their first-round draft pick in the 2008 NFL Draft for the 24-year old Pro Bowl cornerback.

The Ledger also reports that the Giants’ attention turned to Hall once the two players they targeted in free agency – CB Marcus Trufant (Seahawks) and CB Nnamdi Asomugha (Raiders) – were protected with the Franchise Tag by their respective teams.  The Ledger says the Giants are not interested in CB Asante Samuel (Patriots).

New Contract for Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride:   The Star-Ledger is reporting that Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride has received a new two-year contract from the Giants.

Giants Waive Three Players:  The Giants waived S Craig Dahl, OC Todd Londot, and DE Dek Bake yesterday.

Reese Hopeful the Giants Can Re-Sign Wilson and Mitchell:  General Manager Jerry Reese told The Bergen Record yesterday that he was hopeful the Giants would be able to re-sign soon-to-be unrestricted free agents FS Gibril Wilson and LB Kawika Mitchell.

“The numbers have to be right, but I think we have a shot at getting both of them back,” said Reese.  “If not they have promised to come back to us if they get an offer on the free agent market.”

The deadline for using the Franchise Tag passed yesterday.  And the Giants chose not to tag Wilson.

Latest Whispers:  The Star-Ledger is reporting that the Giants may release CB R.W. McQuarters as early as this week.  The Ledger also says HB Reuben Droughns might be released soon as well.

Quotes:  Giants’ President and CEO John Mara on whether DE Michael Strahan will retire or not:  “He’s earned the right to take his time.  I don’t want to drag it on into training camp, obviously.  But we do have a little bit of depth at that position.  We certainly want him back, but I don’t have a feel yet for what he’s going to do.”

Feb 212008
 

New Deal for Tom Coughlin Expected Soon:  According to The Bergen Record, the basics of a 4-year, $20 million contract extension for Head Coach Tom Coughlin have been agreed to.  The paper says the reason that the deal has not been officially finalized yet is that Giants’ President and CEO John Mara has been kept busy with League matters as a member of the NFL’s Competition Committee.

“It’s a matter of when, not if,” said Mara.

Latest New York Giants Free Agent Rumors:  Here is the latest rumors/whispers on the free agent front:

  • Ralph Vacchiano (The Daily News Giants’ Blog) says don’t expect the Giants to slap the Franchise Tag on any of the Giants’ soon-to-be unrestricted free agents, including FS Gibril Wilson.  The deadline to apply the Franchise Tag is 4:00PM today.
  • Vacchiano says not much progress has been made with Wilson, LB Reggie Torbor, and HB Derrick Ward.
  • One NFL source told Vacchiano that a deal with LB Kawika Mitchell may be reached before free agency starts.
  • Vacchiano also reports that the Giants are likely to void that last two years on DT William Joseph’s contract, thus making him a free agent.