Feb 222008
 
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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.
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