Dec 312013
 
Jerrel Jernigan, New York Giants (December 29, 2013)

Jerrel Jernigan – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 20 – Washington Redskins 6

Game Overview: This was a miserable football game played in ugly weather conditions by two bad football teams, each looking to end a terrible season on a positive note. Although the Giants won the game, it was a hollow victory, especially given the possibly offseason-altering injury to left tackle Will Beatty, who suffered a fractured leg. The injury not only potentially adds yet another critical need to a very long list of team needs, but also could very much negatively impact the Giants’ salary cap situation given the $19 million in guaranteed money in Beatty’s current contract which was signed last February. This is not to mention that by winning, the Giants also dropped to 12th spot in the first round of the upcoming draft with the Lions and Titans now picking in front of New York.

There is only one “good” thing that came out of this game and that is the punch-in-the-face warning team management received: Eli Manning is not indestructible. If they continue to short-change the offensive line, not only will the offense continue to struggle, but it is now crystal clear that you are really putting the centerpiece of the franchise at risk. If I’m John Mara and Steve Tisch, I put Jerry Reese on immediate notice and demand that he never allows the offensive line to fall into this embarrassing state ever again. The physical breakdown of Chris Snee, David Baas, and David Diehl was easy to predict. Snee and Diehl have been physically declining for some time. Baas has been injury-prone from day one, and instead of hedging their bets with him, the Giants re-structured him twice and worsened his long-term cap impact. Even before the injury, the lucrative, long-term contract given to Beatty was looking like a huge mistake. And behind these starters, there wasn’t much talent waiting in the wings.

I’m sure when the story of the Giants’ 2013 season is written, most of the emphasis will be placed on the poor play of Eli Manning and the team’s league-leading 44 turnovers (29 interceptions and 15 fumbles). But what I will remember is how bad the offensive line was, and how that contributed to the Giants’ worst rushing attack since 1945, and how Eli Manning – a quarterback historically difficult to sack – was sacked 39 times and became gun-shy. Because of the offensive line breakdowns, this team was regularly in 3rd-and-long situations. My disappointment – unlike most fans – is not directed at the coaching staff, but the poor personnel decisions made by the front office.

Offensive Overview: Just dreadful when you consider the fact the Redskins are terrible on defense (31st in points allowed coming into this game and 21st in total defense). The Giants had 16 legitimate offensive possessions. Eight ended with punts and three with turnovers. The Giants had 14 first downs and were 3-of-14 on third down. The Giants were held to 156 net yards passing. The team did have 122 yards rushing, but 57 of those came from WR Jerrel Jernigan. Giants’ running backs only managed 67 yards on 30 carries (2.2 yards per carry). Given the heavy rains, the lack of running game doomed the Giants’ offense from the get-go as passing the football in such weather conditions is difficult at best.

Quarterbacks: You almost couldn’t write a sadder and more appropriate finish. Once again, Eli had no ground game and shaky pass protection. Jerrel Jernigan came to play at wide receiver, but none of the other wide receivers and tight ends did. The heavy rain also made it difficult to throw the football. The result? Eli was knocked out of the game with a high ankle sprain right before the half, finishing the game 10-of-24 for 152 yards, 1 touchdown (on an excellent deep throw), and 1 interception (a high throw caused by Manning’s inability to put weight on his injured ankle). Despite some errant throws and drops, despite the lack of running game and poor pass protection, and despite the ugly weather, Manning was on pace for a 300-yard passing game before he got hurt. Eli should have had one other pass intercepted when Hakeem Nicks stopped his route short across the middle. Based on Eli’s reaction, Eli expected Nicks to keep running.

Curtis Painter was terrible. He fumbled two snaps and finished the game 2-of-8 for 11 yards with one interception. The interception really wasn’t on him, but he was lucky a couple of other passes were not picked off.

Wide Receivers: The best player on the field offensively for the Giants was Jerrel Jernigan. He caught 6-of-7 passes thrown in his direction for 90 yards and a touchdown. He also carried the ball twice for 57 yards and a touchdown. On the Giants’ first scoring drive of the game, Jernigan was responsible for 54 of the 75 yards on the Giants’ first touchdown drive, including a 30-yard catch and run and then the 24-yard touchdown. He also scored from 49 yards out on his end around late in the third quarter for the Giants’ second touchdown.

Rueben Randle was a non-factor before leaving the game with a knee issue that troubled him all week in practice. Hakeem Nicks caught 2-of-4 passes thrown in his direction for 50 yards before leaving the game with an ankle injury in the second quarter. Nicks had to fight for the football on both catches. He stopped running his route on a pass that should have been intercepted and was flagged with offensive pass interference on the play where he got hurt. Louis Murphy was not impressive, only catching 1-of-5 passes thrown in his direction. He had one very bad drop over the middle in the second quarter on a play where he could have done damage after the catch. He also dropped one on the play where Beatty was hurt. Julian Talley did not have a catch, being targeted twice and dropping one. Jernigan, Murphy, and Talley were the only receivers to play in the second half.

Running Backs: While the blocking up front was mostly abysmal, Andre Brown (13 carries for 11 yards) did not seem to run with much power or determination. Worse, he fumbled for the second week in a row and he can thank his lucky stars the defense bailed him out twice (though he still cost the Giants’ three points in this game). Peyton Hillis did not have a lot of yards (56 yards on 17 carries), but he ran with much more authority. Hillis was targeted five times in the passing game but only came up with one catch for six yards.

Tight Ends: In a game where the Giants needed their starting tight end to step up big, both due to the weather and the injury situation at wide receiver, Brandon Myers came up small. He was thrown to five times, and only caught two passes for nine yards. Both of the interceptions were off the hands of Myers. The first was slightly deflected by a linebacker, making it a difficult, but not impossible catch. The second was a very high throw from Manning who could not put weight on his injured ankle. But both plays were very frustrating and too reminiscent of the interception late in the Chicago game. He also dropped a pass early in the game. Myers remains a liability as a blocker. Bear Pascoe and Larry Donnell played, but you never would have noticed.

Offensive Line: I went into this game thinking that the Will Beatty, James Brewer, Kevin Boothe, David Diehl, and Justin Pugh combination should be able to do an adequate job on the Redskins’ defensive front. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The Redskins dominated the line of scrimmage for most of the game. The Giants had 32 yards rushing at halftime on 13 carries and the pass protection wasn’t much better. Brewer left the game early with an ankle injury and was replaced by Dallas Reynolds who got Eli Manning hurt. Will Beatty broke his leg in the third quarter and was replaced by Stephen Goodin. The Giants ran the ball a bit better in the fourth quarter, but that is probably misleading as the Redskins were not playing very hard at that point. Kevin Boothe played horribly, especially on running plays. David Diehl did not play well in what is likely his last game, struggling at times on both run and pass blocks. Kudos to Stephen Goodin who did a respectable job at left tackle after Beatty was injured.

Defensive Overview: The Giants’ defense dominated the game against a Redskins offense whose backup quarterback had been playing fairly well and one of the better rushing teams in the NFL. That said, it should be noted that the Redskins’ offensive players didn’t appear overly inspired and they dropped quite a few passes. Nevertheless, the Giants held Washington to only 12 first downs (two in the first half), 5-of-20 on third down, 91 yards rushing, and 160 yards passing. The Redskins had 17 offensive possessions. They punted nine times, turned the ball over four times, turned the ball over on downs twice, and kicked two field goals. The defense really did a fine job of holding the Redskins to a field goal after Andre Brown fumbled the ball away at the NYG 18-yard line.

Defensive Line: The Giants’ defensive line dominated the line of scrimmage as the defensive tackles and defensive ends all played well against the run. Washington was held to 20 yards on 10 carries in the first half. Washington ran for 91 yards in the game, but 25 of those yards came with less than two minutes left when the Giants were in prevent. DE Justin Tuck once again played very well against Washington, accruing 6 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, 2 sacks, 1 quarterback hit, and 1 forced fumble. He was a factor on the pass rush throughout the game. DT Cullen Jenkins had 4 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 sack, 1 quarterback hit, and 1 forced fumble. DT Linval Joseph (4 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 fumble recovery) and DE Mathias Kiwanuka (4 tackles, 1 quarterback hit, 1 pass defense) played well too. Reserves DT Johnathan Hankins (1 tackle) and DE Damontre Moore (2 quarterback hits, 1 pass defense) flashed although Moore was flagged with a neutral zone infraction.

Linebackers: Jon Beason (9 tackles) and Jacquian Williams (7 tackles, 3 pass defenses) were the team’s leading tacklers. Williams had his hands on two potential interceptions for defensive scores but dropped both. Spencer Paysinger and Keith Rivers each had four tackles, and Rivers recovered a fumble. Williams and Paysinger seem to be coming on a bit.

Defensive Backs: CB Prince Amukamara did an excellent job holding Pierre Garcon, who came into the game with 107 receptions, to a harmless 6 catches for 56 yards. Amukamara was officially credited with 5 tackles and 2 pass defenses.

The only other wide receivers to catch passes were Aldrick Robinson (3 catches for 33 yards) and Santana Moss (2 catches for 13 yards). 13 other passes thrown in the direction of Robinson and Moss were not completed. CB Trumaine McBride played very well too, with two interceptions and 6 pass defenses (a very high number for one game). CB Terrell Thomas saw the most action he has seen in weeks and finished with 5 tackles and 3 pass defenses.

At safety, Will Hill had 5 tackles and Antrel Rolle 5 tackles, 1 pass defense, and one dropped interception.

Special Teams: The Giants forced nine punts and came darn close to blocking a punt a few times. With Randle out of the game, Jayron Hosley became the new punt returner and only manged 9 yards on 3 punt returns. Michael Cox returned two kickoffs, almost breaking one that he returned 32 yards but he couldn’t keep his feet.

Steve Weatherford punted eight times, averaging 44 yards per punt (41.1 net), but it was not his best game with a few low, line-drive punts. Punt coverage was very good as Santana Moss was held to 23 yards on five returns (4.6 yard average). Charles James continues to impress as a gunner and Julian Talley flashed with one big hit. The Redskins had three decent kickoff returns (26, 27, and 25 yards).

Josh Brown was 2-of-3 on field goals. He hit from 34 and 38, but badly missed from 50.

(Box Score – Washington Redskins at New York Giants, December 29, 2013)
Dec 312013
 
Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona Wildcats (November 30, 2013)

Ka’Deem Carey – © USA TODAY Sports Images

December 31, 2013 Bowl Games: 2014 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

ARIZONA

*#25 Ka’Deem Carey – RB  5’10/198

Third year junior.  Carey is currently my top graded running back in this class if he declares, which most assume he will do.  He led the nation in rushing in 2012 (1,929 yards) while also breaking the school’s single season record.  He had another big year in 2013 despite being suspended for game one as a result of some trouble off the field during the offseason.  Those issues are considered minor and I don’t think it will affect his grade.  Carey is a statistical compiler in some ways because of how many carries he gets over the course of a season (averaging almost 30 per game).  Even with that in mind, I love his ability with the ball in his hands.  He is a tough, hard nosed runner that knows how to finish.  He has agile hips and light feet.  Very impressive after contact with good vision and instincts.  Carey is an established pass catcher and blocker to boot.  He’ll need to add some bulk to his frame but Carey is a rare every down horse with big play ability.  He’ll finish with a top 45 grad eon my board and has a good shot at being the first running back taken.

#5 Shaquille Richardson – CB – 6’1/186

Fifth year senior.  Richardson has a sketchy past that needs to be looked in to, but it seems he has matured.  Richardson is a height/length/speed guy that is becoming more and more popular in the NFL these days.  He gets his hands on a lot of passes.  He is a light-footed player with long speed but I question his ability to cover underneath.  Quickness has beat him time and time again in the 4 games I saw this year.  While I see the physical side to his game, he is a poor tackler and will often screw up his assignments.  He has some tools to work with though and I think a team will come after him in early day three.

#2 Marquis Flowers – OLB – 6’3/230

Fourth year senior.  Former safety that made the full time move to LB in 2012.  Flowers is a great athlete for the position that moves well in space.  He is a pursuit linebacker with coverage skills.  He has the short area explosion to make powerful hits and tackles.  He has come a long way in terms of taking on blocks, but he still has a lot of work to do.  Too often did I see him overwhelmed by a lone blocker at the second level.  He creates massive cutback lanes with his style of play and has shown to be a liability as much as an asset to their defense.  Flowers will impress with his workouts and coaches will want to work with him, but I don’t see him being taken before day three.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#33 Jake Fischer – MLB – 6’0/225
#98 Tevin Hood – DT – 6’0/302

BOSTON COLLEGE

#44 Andre Williams – RB – 6’0/227

Fourth year senior.  Williams was a nice power back his first three years at BC but broke out in a huge way this season.  He led the nation in rushing yards (2,102) while also setting school and ACC single season records.  While he did have a lot of carries, Williams is an impressive back that is more than impressive statistics.  At 6’0”, he can run with a low pad level, giving him maximum power behind every run.  He is thick, country-strong ball carrier that rarely goes down on initial contact.  He is a no-nonsense runner that works best in between the tackles with minimum lateral movement and cutting.  He won’t time well in workouts but Williams has a shot at being a day two pick.  Teams will love his potential as an inside/power runner.

#24 Kevin Pierre-Louis – OLB – 6’1/218

Fourth year senior that has started every game of his college career minus the games he missed with injuries.  He is a quality, rangy linebacker that plays bigger than his listed size  He has the strength and pop to take on blocks without giving ground.  Pierre-Louis works through traffic well and can factor against the inside run.  As a cover man, he shows instincts in zone coverage.  He shows nice flow to the action and makes quick breaks on the ball.  I think he can be a quality weak side guy at the next level down the road.  Day three pick that will stick somewhere.

#83 Alex Amidon – WR – 5’11/186

Fourth year senior.  Amidon has had a very productive career that has set a few school records for receptions and yards.  When I watch him, I fail to see a guy that will make a big difference in the NFL.  A receiver with such a slender frame needs to have elite speed and/or quickness, neither of which Amidon has.  He shows nice ball skills and NFL-ready routes, but I think the lack of talent is going to really hurt him at the next level.  He could be a solid 4th or 5th receiver down the road if he can find the right situation.

#77 Matt Patchan – LT – 6’6/305

Has been in college football since 2008.  Has had a very circuitous path to where he is now.  Started off at Florida as a DT, but made the move to OT early in his career.  Overall he started 8 games for the Gators but was in and out of the lineup because of injuries to his leg, shoulder, and pectoral.  Patchan is an under the radar prospect that I think has some starting potential at the next level.  He has a nice frame with great length and good enough flexibility.  His heavy hands give him a nice advantage at the point of attack.  I’m not sure he has the feet and balance to play the left side.  He was consistently late on reacting to blitzes and stunts in the games I saw.  All in all, Patchan put together a healthy year in 2013 and we got to see that he is capable of fulfilling his potential that many used to think was very high.  He’ll be a late day three guy worth taking a chance on.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#91 Kasim Edebali – DE – 6’3/246
#11 Chase Rettig – QB – 6’3/206
#49 Steele Divitto – ILB – 6’3/238
#96 Kaleb Ramsey – DT – 6’2/285

VIRGINIA TECH

#17 Kyle Fuller – CB – 6’0/189

Fourth year senior with a lot of experience and production.  Considered one of the hardest workers on the team, winning several offseason team awards.  Fuller is one of my favorite players in the draft.  He does it all from the cornerback position and he really doesn’t have a glaring weakness to his game.  He has the body control in coverage with superb ball skills.  He is one of the few corners that shows an all out effort when tackling on running backs downhill.  He has the short area burst and long speed to stick with receivers all over the field.  Fuller tore a muscle in his groin, forcing him to miss 5 games but it looks like he will be ready for the bowl game.  Despite playing in just 7 games, he was still voted 1st Team All ACC by the coaches.  He may grade out as one of the top 3 CBs in this draft on my sheet.

*#34 Kyshoen Garrett – S – 5’11/198

Third year junior that has not declared, but did file paperwork to the advisory board.  Garrett plays a SS-type role.  He is an effective run defender that tackles well.  He has the speed to play in deep coverage as well, showing wide lateral range.  Overall, he isn’t a great pass defender though. He doesn’t show the anticipation and quick breaks on the ball to be considered an asset.  I think he needs to return for his senior year because he will grade out as a 3rd-5th rounder at best.

#99 James Gayle – DE – 6’4/255

Fifth year senior.  Best known for his elite workout numbers across the board.  Fiery player that has not loved up to his strength/speed numbers.  Gayle shows average explosion out of his stance and average quickness when trying to use moves to reach the quarterback.  He has such a think lower half and I don’t think he has the power to handle the 4-3 DE role.  With that said, he did improve as the 2013 season progressed.  If he continues to progress, the tools are there to be a solid DE or OLB.  I see him as a 4th/5th rounder.

#98 Derek Hopkins – DT – 6’0/311

Fourth year senior, three year starter.  Hopkins is a bit undersized but I really like his game.  I think he can stick somewhere at the next level.  He has strong hands, quick feet, and a very high on-field-IQ.  He anchors against the double teams well and plays much heavier than what he is listed at.  He is more than a space eater though.  Hopkins can make plays between the tackles, showing a nice burst to the ball.  Coaches have always thought there was some big time talent here and I think he is starting to blossom.  Someone will take him day three and get a great value.

#3 Logan Thomas – QB – 6’6/254

Fifth year senior.  Thomas came to Virginia Tech as a TE/WR recruit, but made the move to QB full time in 2011 (he was a high school QB as well).  He was considered to be a potential first round pick after an impressive 2011.  Scouts have always loved his combination of size, speed, and throwing ability.  The tools are there, nobody can argue that.  However Thomas has failed to take the next step and if anything, he has gone backwards since 2011.  Thomas fails to make quick reads and decisions.  He has had stretches where his accuracy was woefully awful.  Even with all the failure he has had, I think someone will take a chance on him.  He has the tools and worst case scenario is he gets moved back to TE.  He does have the athletic ability to make a move.  Day three prospect here.

#1 Antone Exum – CB – 6’1/224

Fifth year senior.  I’m not sure if Exum will play because of a serious ankle injury.  But he is a guy that teams will look to steal late in the draft with the hope he will bounce back from his injuries.  He was a good player for their defense in 2011 and 2012.  He was all over the defensive backfield, playing S, CB, and Rover.  At his size, he can play in the box and make an impact as a downhill run defender.  He is very strong, very powerful.  While he doesn’t have the ideal hip movement when covering receivers in space, he can still factor in with his ability to press them at the line.  Exum played in just 3 games this year because of that ankle injury and long recovery from a torn ACL that occurred while playing basketball in the offseason.  When watching his 2012 tape, there is a lot that jumps out at you.  Day three guy that could pay enormous dividends in the right scheme.

#42 JR Collins – DE – 6’2/252

Fifth year senior.  Collins is a versatile edge player that can be moved around to exploit matchup problems.  He is a strong player with good short area quickness.  He took a step back in 2012 and there were some rumblings about a poor work ethic and dedication.  He turned it around last offseason and coaches raved about his improvement with the little things.  Collins is a sleeper prospect that may be undervalued as a result of average game tapes in 2012.  Late day three guy.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#24 Tariq Edwards – OLB – 6’2/234
#18 DJ Coles – WR – 6’3/234
#58 Jack Tyler – MLB – 6’0/234
#98 Derek Hopkins – DT – 6’0/312

UCLA

#11 Anthony Barr – OLB – 6’4/245

Fourth year senior that has an interesting story.  Barr was a RB/FB for the first two years of his career.  He wasn’t used a lot and the coaching staff wanted to get his athleticism on the field, moving him to LB prior to the 2012 season.  He flourished right away and has put himself in to round 1 discussion, possibly even top 10 overall.  Barr has elite closing ability.  He can explode downhill with the best of them with powerful strides and agile hips.  He has excellent reaction skills with the necessary suddenness to his game.  Barr is an awful pass defender, however.  I think he will need to play the rush linebacker position but I don’t think it will hurt his grade too much.  He is only in year two at this position, this his upside could be in the elite area.  Barr has the tools and the skills to be a demon behind the line of scrimmage.  In a weak edge rushing class, he could be a top 10 pick.

*#17 Brett Hundley – QB – 6’3/223

Third year junior with two seasons of experience.  Hundley has not yet declared for the draft, and many think he will return.  I think he needs to, as there are too many glaring weaknesses to his game that result from simple inexperience.  Hundley has all the physical tools that teams look for.  He is a strong-armed, thick, well put together athlete with a nice bend of movement and throwing ability.  Hundley lacks the presence within the pocket and tries too hard to make plays when his mechanics aren’t lined up.  Hundley was often late to react to the defense in 2013.  His issues are correctable though and he could be a top 10 pick in 2015.  Right now, he might be a 2nd/3rd round guy.

*#56 Xavier Su’a-Filo – LG – 6’3/304

23 year old junior that started at LT his freshman season in 2009.  Then took off two years for a Mormon mission, returning in 2012 to play LG.  He has bounced back and forth between G and OT, but his NFL future likely resides inside.  Su’a-Filo is a little awkward when it comes to his technique.  He plays too high and has issues with weight distribution and hand work.  He doesn’t play low enough to anchor his position in to the ground, often getting pushed back in to the pocket.  He is, however,  a superb athlete in space that can pull out and lead block with the best of them.  I think he is a solid prospect for a zone blocking scheme.  As a pass blocker, he really struggles with the speed rushers that play low.  He could benefit from another year but his age may force him to leave early, especially if he gets a nice grade from the advisory board.  Right now, I see him as a 3rd/4th round pick.

#99 Cassius Marsh – DE – 6’4/260

Fourth year senior.  Marsh has steadily progressed throughout his career.  He has a nice frame for the 4-3 DE position and can easily add 10-15 pounds of good weight over time.  He has the length needed to effectively play with his hands.  Marsh is a physical player that plays angry.  He shows quick movement skills out of his stance and is equally effective against the run and pass.  I’m not sure he has starting potential at the next level, but he can be a quality backup.  4th-6th rounder here.

#1 Shaquelle Evans – WR – 6’1/204

Fifth year senior that started off at Notre Dame but transferred after just one season.  Evans has led UCLA in receptions and receiving yards each of the past two seasons.  He isn’t an overly impressive athlete, nor does he have an special size attributes.  Evans is a reliable pass catcher that runs good routes and can get himself open underneath.  He is a savvy receiver that can fool a defensive back and set them up throughout the game.  He doesn’t jump off the screen but I think some teams will be attracted to his NFL-ready skill set.  Backup-type in the NFL that can be taken in rounds 5-6.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#29 Jordan Zumwalt – ILB – 6’3/235
#40 Keenan Graham – OLB – 6’1/255
#98 Seali’I Epenesa – DT- 6’1/310

MISSISSIPPI STATE

#61 Gabe Jackson – LG – 6’4/335

Fifth year senior.  Has been the starting LG since week one of his freshman year.  Jackson is a very well rounded guard that will do well in the NFL.  He is a hard guy to move backwards.  Jackson is more than a straight ahead mauler.  He shows good technique as a pass blocker and is pulled laterally often.  I like Jackson, but not as much as most out there do.  He isn’t as powerful as you would think when looking at him.  Linebackers get off his blocks easily in space.  Even though he shows good drive and strong hands, he doesn’t sustain his position and/or blocks very well.  I think he will be drafted somewhere in the 3rd or 4th round.  He can be a solid but unspectacular starter at the next level.

#1 Nickoe Whitley – S – 6’1/208

Fifth year senior, four year starter.  Whitley has an outstanding tool set and I like his aggressive style.  He has had a couple injuries slow him down (Knee, Achilles) though.  Whitley has a lot of experience as a single high safety as well as an extra linebacker in the box.  He brings a lot of versatility to the table.  I want to see some more of him in the coming months because I think there may be some hidden talent here.  He may not be far off from the top safeties in this class.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#27 LaDarius Perkins – RB – 5’9/195
#11 Deontae Skinner – OLB – 6’2/250

DUKE

#6 Ross Cockrell – CB – 6’0/190

Fourth year senior, four year starter.  Cockrell has a wiry frame and plays with an aggressive style.  He isn’t afraid to mix it up with blockers and shows the willingness to tackle a downhill running back.  He doesn’t have a big power game, however.  Cockrell also struggles to turn and run downfield.  He doesn’t have the movement skills to factor as a man defender.  I can see him being a solid zone coverage cornerback.  He sees the field well and can anticipate routes.  He is a 4th/5th rounder.

#84 Kenny Anunike – DE – 6’5/260

Sixth year senior.  Scouts like the natural tools here.  He has the size, length, and frame to develop in to a big 4-3 DE.  The main issue with Anunike has been his left knee.  He has had four surgeries on it since 2008.  He did play a full season in 2013 but that history with his knee will hurt his grade a significant amount.  Anunike is a fun player to watch.  His motor is always on and he shows relentless pursuit every play.  He has average get off and struggles to beat blockers with moves though.  Against the offensive tackles that are NFL bound, he appeared to be overmatched.  Anunike has the potential to develop physically over the next few years if that knee remains intact.  If he does so, I think there is a shot he can be an every down player in the NFL.

Potential UDFA to Look For:

#92 Justin Foxx – DE – 6’3/255

TEXAS A&M

#75 Jake Matthews – LT – 6’5/305

Fourth year senior.  Played RT until this past season.  Widely considered to be the top OT in this class, a feat in itself.  Son of former NFL great Bruce Matthews, Jake is a sure bet to succeed at the next level.  He has top grades when it comes to power, quickness, balance, agility, and technique.  His experience on both sides will help him early on if he enters a situation where the team that takes him already has an established left tackle.  Matthews will be a top 5 pick.

*#2 Johnny Manziel – QB – 6’0/210

Third year sophomore.  Has not yet declared but many expect he will.  Manziel is no secret to anyone.  He has a world of talent and may be the most unique QB prospect we’ve seen in recent memory.  Hate him or love him for the off the field issues, Manziel is a player.  It is hard to find a more competitive signal caller than Manziel.  It equally helps and hurts him as a player.  On tape, he has the arm to play in the NFL.  He doesn’t have a cannon, but it’s strong enough to make NFL throws.  He can fit the ball in to tight spaces and makes the back shoulder pass look easy.  He is a magician with his feet.  Very good at avoiding pressure and creating big plays with his scrambling ability.  Do I think he is worth a first round pick?  It all comes down to his maturity and work ethic.  His antics won’t work in the NFL.  His style of play will need to change a bit as well.  QBs that run first, pass second simply don’t last.  His mechanics are enough to make a QB coach throw up.  I think Manziel has the swagger/confidence to win games though.  He needs to grow up, but which of us didn’t say the same when we were in college ourselves?  His path to the draft will be incredibly fun to watch.

*#13 Mike Evans – WR – 6’5/225

Third year sophomore that many expect to declare for the draft.  1st Team All American and record setting receiver has been Manziel’s go to guy over the past two seasons.  Evans is an asset within any offense because he doesn’t need to be open when a QB throws him the ball.  He has great ball skills with a huge catching radius.  He is physical and tough, showing the ability to completely dominate smaller cornerbacks.  His size and style of play creates matchup problems for opposing defenses.  Evans doesn’t have elite speed nor does he have the quick twitch-suddenness to his game.  I was a little let down in his performance against LSU this season.  The physical corners really took him out of the game.  He’ll see a lot of that in the NFL.  Evans will need to work on the little nuances to the position if he is going to succeed much like Vincent Jackson has done since being drafted.  Does he have that drive and dedication?  That’s the biggest question that needs answering.  Boom or bust pick here that can be taken in the top 15.

#70 Cedric Ogbuehi – RT – 6’5/300

Fourth year junior.  Currently playing RT but played RG in 2012.  Ogbuehi caught my eye in early September and I stated back then that he was a 1st round caliber player.  He has said he will return for his senior season but a friend of mine has recently found out he is now 50/50.  Ogbuehi has enormous upside.  Athletically, he is better than both Matthews and Luke Joeckel.  He shows proper technique and the position versatility will only help.  The catch here is Ogbuehi could return to school, play a dominant left tackle in 2014, and put himself in to the #1 overall pick discussion for the 2015 Draft.  As of right now we are talking about a 2nd round type guy in this loaded OT class.

#1 Ben Malena – RB – 5’9/195

Fourth year senior.  Malena is a small but quick and elusive back that can make things happen in space.  He doesn’t have elite speed but his ability to change direction and explode can be tough for a defense to handle.  He shows good hands and has some return skills that teams will look for late in the draft.  Malena has a good shot at being drafted late.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#11 Derel Walker – WR – 6’2/185
#81 Nehemiah Hicks – TE – 6’4/255
#8 Steven Jenkins – OLB – 6’2/220
#15 Travis Labhart – WR – 5’9/182

Dec 312013
 
Eli Manning and Kevin Gilbride, New York Giants (September 8, 2013)

Eli Manning and Kevin Gilbride – © USA TODAY Sports Images

NJ.com Reports That Kevin Gilbride Likely to Be Fired: NJ.com is reporting that “high-ranking officials in the Giants organization” believe that Giants’ offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride will soon be fired. The website is saying that the announcement may not be made official right away as organizational meetings ultimately determining Gilbride’s final fate could run into next week. NJ.com is also reporting that an unidentified source within the organization says that Head Coach Tom Coughlin is unlikely to put his job on the line to keep Gilbride.

Speculation is growing that the Giants might replace Gilbride with Mike Sullivan, Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator who was fired on Monday. Sullivan served as wide receivers (2004-2009) and quarterbacks (2010-2011) coach for the Giants under Tom Coughlin. “We obviously think very highly of him,” said New York Giants’ President/CEO John Mara on Monday.

QB Eli Manning on WFAN: The audio of Monday’s WFAN interview with QB Eli Manning is available at CBSNewYork.com

Articles on the New York Giants 2014 Offseason:

Articles on General Manager Jerry Reese:

Article on RB Brandon Jacobs: Giants RB Brandon Jacobs undecided on future, blames 49ers for misdiagnosing knee by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Articles on the New York Giants Wide Receivers:

Articles on the New York Giants Defensive Line:

Article on S Antrel Rolle: Rolle says he’s open to contract extension by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Dec 302013
 
Tom Coughlin, John Mara, New York Giants (November 24, 2013)

Tom Coughlin and John Mara – © USA TODAY Sports Images

December 30, 2013 John Mara Press Conference: The transcript and video of Giants President/CEO John Mara’s Monday press conference are available at Giants.com.

December 30, 2013 Jerry Reese Press Conference: The transcript and video of General Manager Jerry Reese’s Monday press conference are available at Giants.com.

December 30, 2013 Tom Coughlin Press Conference: The transcript and video of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Monday press conference are available at Giants.com.

Injury Update on LT Will Beatty and RB David Wilson: General Manager Jerry Reese was asked about LT Will Beatty, who broke his leg in the game against the Washington Redskins on Sunday. “We think he’ll be back and he’ll be ready to play next season. We do think that,” said Reese. “From early reviews, we think Will will be back. We think he will be back and hopefully he will be back and he can get going and have a good offseason as well. He didn’t play as well as we hoped he’d play. I think he’d own that as well. Hopefully he can get back, get healthy and go on and have a great off-season and be a good left tackle.”

Reese was also asked about the future status of RB David Wilson, who was placed on Injured Reserve in November with a potentially career-threatening neck injury.

“Those neck things, you have to wait around,” said Reese. “Those discs they have, sometimes they can shrink and it takes time for them to shrink. They did that and we’re waiting. At the beginning of the year, we’ll have another consultation with him, to see if surgery would be a possibility for him. That could be a possibility and if he has the surgery, I think the prognosis is that he’ll be ready to play next fall, if he has his surgery.”

Reese was then asked if the injury was career-threatening. “When you talk about necks, there’s always a possibility,” responded Reese. “We’re hopeful and the earlier reports that I’ve gotten, doctors do think they can fix this and he’ll be able to play…I think we’ll have to have some contingency plans at the running back position. I don’t think you go into the next season saying David Wilson’s going to be our number one, starting running back. I don’t think you can do that. The guy is coming off of a neck surgery, if he decides to have it.”

Giants Sign Eight Players to Reserve/Future Contracts: The Giants signed the following eight players to reserve/future contracts on Monday:

  • RB Kendall Gaskins
  • WR Marcus Harris
  • OT Steven Baker
  • DE Kendrick Adams
  • CB Travis Howard
  • CB Junior Mertile
  • CB Chaz Powell
  • CB Ross Weaver

All eight players ended the season on the Giants’ practice squad.

December 30, 2013 New York Giants Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of Monday’s media sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Articles on the New York Giants Coaching Staff:

Articles on New York Giants Wide Receivers:

Article on DE Justin Tuck: Stay or go, Justin Tuck always embraced New York by Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post

Dec 302013
 
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon Ducks (November 29, 2013)

CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu – © USA TODAY Sports Images

December 30, 2013 Bowl Games: 2014 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

OLE MISS

*#12 Donte Moncrief – WR – 6’3/226

Third year junior that has not yet declared. Moncrief is a thick receiver that can push his way around a secondary. Very good functional strength and power. He has some sneaky speed downfield when tracking the deep ball and shows great ball skills. He is a reliable pass catcher with a strong pair of hands. The main issue I see here is the lack of ability to separate from defensive backs. I like receivers that run themselves open, Moncrief struggles to do that. He is a QB friendly receiver that can be a guy that moves the chains though. He could be a day two pick next spring, but if he goes back and shows more agility/speed, he could be a 2015 first rounder.

#38 Mike Marry – ILB – 6’3/250

Fourth year senior that has played a lot over his four years. Marry won’t jump off the screen when looking at statistics and production. But I see a guy that has the tool set you want out of an inside linebacker in the NFL. He has a huge frame with a lot of length. He has good straight line speed that can maintain power on the move. I think his game is limited because he doesn’t change direction in short space very well, but he can make an impact as a run defender and special teamer. I’d look for him in the 6th or 7th round.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#71 Pierce Burton – RT – 6’5/290
#85 Ja’Mes Logan – WR – 6’3/185
#3 Jeff Scott – RB – 5’7/170

GEORGIA TECH

#45 Attaochu, Jeremiah – LB Georgia Tech – 6’3/240

Fourth year senior that has been very productive over the past three years. Has played in a couple of different schemes, having experience as a 3-4 OLB and a 4-3 DE. I think his future will need to reside at linebacker because he doesn’t have the bulk to play with his hand in the dirt. Attaochu is a great athlete that plays aggressive and smart. He bends well, explodes off the point of attack well, and pursues with the best of them. I took a liking to him last year, but was a little underwhelmed in 2013. He is a raw space player that struggles when bigger linemen get a hold of him. He is going to need a specific role on top of needing time to add some weight and strength. I think he ends up being a 4th-5th rounder.

#14 Jamea Thomas – S – 5’10/195

Fifth year senior. Versatility is his top asset, as Thomas has played plenty of CB and S. I need to get another look or two at him before getting a feel for who he is. This is only my third time watching Georgia Tech this year. Thomas has the movement skills to play cornerback. He can turn his hips and maintain balance when sticking with a receiver. In addition, he plays a physical game and tackles well in space. He doesn’t seem to make a jump on many passes however. He doesn’t diagnose well and his angles towards the action are over-aggressive. I think Thomas is attractive because he can back up several spots but I don’t think he will ever be a consistent starter. 6th/7th rounder.

#20 David Sims – RB – 6’0/225

Interesting power back here that has really been evolving in to a quality prospect over the past few years. He was originally brought to Georgia Tech as a quarterback, but was moved to running back because the coaching staff wanted to get his talent in to the mix. From there, Sims took off and created a nice role for himself in one of the nation’s top running attacks. Sims will break a lot of tackles and earn the tough yards inside. He struggles in space, as he is not a quick change of direction back. He is strictly north/south, plain and simple. Backs like this won’t get drafted early but I think teams will look at him late day three.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#8 Louis Young – CB – 6’1/196
#52 Will Jackson – LT – 6’3/295

OREGON

*#14 Ekpre-Olomu, Ifo – CB – 5’10/185

Third year junior, third year starter. Ekpre has been one of the nation’s top cornerbacks from the beginning of his career and he will grade out near or even at the top of my sheet at the position. Despite the size, he is a physical player that tackles well and hits hard. I really like his movement skills and combining that with his strength, I think Ekpre can be a very good man-coverage cornerback. The lack of height and length may hurt his grade for some, but I’ll still have him in the top 20 overall.

*#8 Marcus Mariota – QB – 6’4/215

Redshirt sophomore that has already stated he will be going back to school, but has also sought out a grade from the advisory board. Mariota was my favorite QB prospect early in the year, showing improved throwing mechanics, arm power, and presence within the pocket. He has accuracy on the move and obviously the movement skills to be a factor as a rusher. He started to fizzle out as the year progressed, however. He failed to adjust to certain looks and schemes that defenses threw at him and it seems obvious that he needs more time to develop. When all is said and done, Mariota is a solid prospect but could be THE guy in 2015. If he comes out now, I think we are talking about a 2nd/3rd rounder.

#1 Josh Huff – WR – 5’11/202

Fourth year senior. Huff was one of my favorite under-the-radar prospects heading in to 2013 but I’m afraid he is no longer overlooked. He went for 57/1,036/11 this season. Huff is a deep threat that accelerates well and runs decisive, aggressive routes. He has great ball skills, attacking the ball with strong hands. He can track the ball well downfield. Once he has the rock in his hands, he is a tough guy to bring down. He has a thick frame with strong legs. Huff lacks the ideal height and length but he is a guy that simply produces no matter what the situation is. I think he gives an offense a reliable threat all over the field. He’ll grade out in the 3rd/4th round area.

#25 Boseko Lokombo – LB – 6’3/229

Fifth year senior. Lokombo is a tools-rich athlete with the frame, length, and speed you want out of a do-it-al linebacker. A quick look at him and he may become one of your favorite defenders in this class. Lokombo became a factor in the Oregon defense in 2012 after consistently grading out as one of the fastest/strongest players on the team in workouts. I want to like Lokombo but he was very average in 2013. He doesn’t seem to click mentally when diagnosing plays. He has poor reaction time which consistently leaves him in poor positions to make plays and/or get off blocks. Lokombo will get drafted based on his upside because watching him move and hit will make many dream about the upside. He can be a good one if it ever clicks. 3rd/4th rounder.

*#6 De’Anthony Thomas – RB – 5’9/169

Third year junior that had made himself known as one of the most explosive talents in college football. Thomas has not yet declared and I think he needs to go back for another year. Rarely do you see a ball carrier under 170 pounds do well in the NFL. As of right now, he is mainly a return specialist in the eyes of NFL scouts. He has elite burst once he finds a seam and doesn’t lose any speed when changing direction. He has he unique level of acceleration. My issue is that he doesn’t have the physical side to his game that you need when carrying the ball. I don’t see him having the impact at the next level that he does in college. The elite movement skill set will be hindered a bit in the NFL and he doesn’t have the necessary strength to do anything else. If he comes out, I think he is viewed as a 4th/5th rounder.

#12 Brian Jackson – S – 5’10/197

Fifth year senior. Good athlete that will test out well in workouts with a nice strength/speed combination. Jackson is good tackling safety that does his best work in the box. Even though he doesn’t have elite size, Jackson plays strong and big. He isn’t a quick-twitched cover man, however. He struggles to turn and run and won’t hang with receivers underneath. I think his lack of coverage dependability will knock him down to day three, but I think he gets drafted based on his ability to play the run from the defensive backfield.

#21 Avery Patterson – S – 5’10/189

Fifth year senior that made the move to S from CB during the 2012 season. Patterson is less physical than Jackson, but he is a much better cover man that plays the centerfielder role very well. He is a quick decision maker that can reach the sidelines fast. While he isn’t as physical, Patterson has shown reliable tackling ability in space. His versatility in the defensive backfield will earn him a draft-able grade, possibly even in front of Jackson.

#66 Taylor Hart – DT – 6’6/287

Fifth year senior. Versatile player that can pretty much play any role along the defensive line in any scheme besides the 3-4 NT spot. Hart has played mostly inside, but he has the movement skills to shift outside in certain packages. Hart is an aggressive hustler that makes a lot of plays away from the line of scrimmage. He pursues well and knows how to finish. I think he will struggle to make an impact in the NFL though. He plays with such a high pad level and doesn’t generate power from his base. He can be pushed around by bigger linemen. He is a very cheap version of JJ Watt, in that he uses his length to his advantage along different spots of the line. I see him as a 6th/7th rounder.

#92 Wade Keliikipi – DT – 6’3/306

Fifth year senior. He was a rotational guy early in his career that became a stout run defender in 2012. Keliikipi’s game revolves around anchoring his position and eating up blockers to free up the linebackers. He does that well but is very limited elsewhere. He offers minimal pass rush and won’t make plays away from the line of scrimmage. I think a limited amount of team will like him based on his ability to play the NT role in a 3-4, but that’s about it. I see a late day three pick here.

TEXAS

#1 Mike Davis – WR – 6’2/195

Fourth year senior. Davis has been a productive asset to the Texas offense for all four years of his career. I think he is one of the more underrated receivers in this class. He has tools to work with, being tall and long with big hands. Davis is a quick accelerator downfield that can knife his way through the top of a defense. He’s not just a long strider though, he can get open underneath with quick steps and agile hips. Very efficient route runner that understands coverage. Davis shows the toughness necessary to be a factor over the middle in tight spaces. If you watch him, there isn’t much he can’t do on the field. I think he can be a solid #2 receiver at the next level.

*#6 Quandre Diggs – CB – 5’10/200

Third year junior that many think will be leaving school early for the NFL. Diggs was a top tier recruit out of high school and made an immediate impact in 2011, winning Big 12 Freshman of the Year. Diggs will get a high grade from a lot of teams because of everything he can do. He is playing a similar role to what Vacarro did last year. He can play a solid CB and safety as well as add to the return game. He is short and stout with a physical element to his game. Diggs is a great tackler that plays downhill. Very fast reaction with good ball skills. I question his ability to turn and run however. He has tight hips when trying to shadow a receiver, which can be an issue if he plays CB in the NFL. Is he a tweener without a position? I think he only fits specific roles in specific schemes, which will hinder him a bit. All in all, Diggs is a solid prospect that will be drafted somewhere on day two.

#75 Trey Hopkins – G – 6’4/300

Fourth year senior. One of my favorite under-the-radar prospects in the nation. Hopkins has played plenty of RT and G during his time at Texas with a lot of starting experience. Hopkins has the ideal frame I look for in a guard. He is thick and powerful with minimal bad weight and a huge lower body. He has great knee bend and heavy hands. Hopkins is a guy that consistently creates a new line of scrimmage, pushing his man back and controlling engagement. He is a good enough pass blocker, as he can handle any speed/strength combination. I really think Hopkins will be a quality starter at the next level and I will likely have him graded in the top 100 overall.

#44 Jackson Jeffcoat – DE – 6’5/250

Fourth year senior. Jeffcoat’s career got off to a promising start and was considered a future first round pick until a torn pectoral ended his 2012 season prematurely. He came back for his senior season and has had a great year statistically. 12 sacks and 18 TFL will get a second look from anyone. Jeffcoat has the tall and long frame that teams want at defensive end in a 4-3 scheme. I don’t like what I see on tape though. He doesn’t have an elite burst and he can’t push linemen backwards. He is a slow-reaction defender that plays too high. I think his production is a result of playing next to some big time defensive tackles on that Texas squad that you will hear from in a couple years. I can see a team selecting him on day two but I wouldn’t touch him anywhere before round 4 or 5.

#23 Carrington Byndom – CB – 6’0/180

Fourth year senior. Has started 38 straight games for Texas. I’ve seen Byndom a lot over the past two years and I think there is some serious talent here to work with. He has good length and ball skills. Those two attributes together are always sought after but what I think sets Byndom apart is the fluidity in his hips. He shows effortless movement when changing direction and has the speed to chase receivers downfield. The one knock I have on him is the lack of physical play. He is a hesitant tackler at best and he won’t press a receiver at the point of attack effectively. He is a slender 180 pounds. I’m not sure how much that can improve and it will keep his grade down on my sheet. But he is a candidate for a guy that gets drafted late and shines at the next level.

#72 Mason Walters – RG – 6’6/320

Fifth year senior that has been starting at RG since his first season. 50 straight starts. Walters is best known for his work in the offseason. He has won numerous strength/conditioning awards. Walters is a tenacious blocker that plays angry. He can be a fun guy to watch because of his style and size. Movement wise, he is average across the board. His feet get heavy and he struggles to adjust to quicker defensive linemen. Walters might be a limited athlete but I think he is a safe bet to be at least a quality backup.

Potential UDFA to Look For:

#17 Adrian Phillips – S – 5’11/210

ARIZONA STATE

#90 Will Sutton – DT – 6’1/288

Fifth year senior that had to sit out a year because of poor academic performance. Was viewed as an average college player until 2012 where he broke out and earned 1st Team All American honors (23.5 TFL and 13 sacks). He came back down to earth a little in 2013 (11.5 TFL and 4 sacks) but many still view him as a top 45 overall guy. He is a fun player to watch, but I don’t see a big time prospect here. His impact play-to-play isn’t there. He is a gambler that can hurt a defense as much he helps one. He is a poor athlete in space that looks sluggish. He won’t anchor his position well and simply doesn’t demand double teams. He can however break in to the backfield with a powerful bull rush and make plays in tight spaces. Sutton is a solid prospect for a specific scheme but he just isn’t a fit for others.

*#52 Carl Bradford – OLB – 6’1/241

Fourth year junior that has already graduated and is seeking a grade from the advisory board. Most think he will leave early. Bradford is a hybrid DE/OLB that has had a nice two year run since the start of 2012 (39.5 TFL and 20 sacks). He is another fun player to watch because of his overly aggressive style. He is an all out hustler that wears a lot of hats for this team. When it comes to a tool set and overall ability, I think he is average across the board. A lot of his production comes from pure hustle and that’s not a bad thing at all, but it is something to consider. Can he, at this size, be a factor at the 3-4 OLB role? I see him as a solid contributor that can backup multiple spots and see some spot duty in pass rush situations. But as an every down player, I don’t see a difference maker. I’ll likely have him graded in the 3rd/4th round area but I think he goes higher.

#1 Marion Grice – RB – 6’0/205

Fourth year senior that is questionable for the game because of a lower leg injury sustained November 23rd. Grice transferred to ASU in 2012 after a couple years at Junior College. He is a legit dual threat that catches a lot of balls and rushes for an average of 5+ yards per carry. He has a nice frame for more weight, which he needs prior to be given a role in the NFL. He needs a stronger lower half to handle the physical upgrade he will see at the next level. Grice doesn’t have superb runaway speed nor does he have a lot of wiggle. I think he struggles to perform as an every down back but he can do enough to carve himself a nice role somewhere. 4th/5th rounder.

#4 Alden Darby – S – 5’11/195

Fourth year senior that has a lot of experience and a very good amount of production. Darby was a CB recruit but made the move to S upon arrival at ASU. He is a great zone defender that takes the proper angles and reads in coverage. He has an average impact on the game from a physical perspective and doesn’t have the speed you want back there. I think he is a backup caliber guy but can still make an impact. 5th/6th rounder.

#62 Evan Finkenberg – LT – 6’4/298

Fifth year senior. Has been starting since 2010 at both left guard and left tackle. He has a lot of experience against some of the nation’s top pass rushers over his career. Finkenberg is a guy that surprised me a few times in 2013. I think he can be a quality guard at the next level if he can develop physically, adding some weight to produce more power at the point of attack. He is a fluid mover that can explode out of his stance and get himself in to the right position. I like his consistent use of mechanics. He anchors well and doesn’t seem to be too far off from starting in the NFL.

#87 Chris Coyle – H-Back – 6’3/240

Fifth year senior. Versatile player that has seen a lot of time at Fullback, H-Back, and Tight End. Coyle was the team’s leading receiver in 2012 after standing out as a special teams producer earlier in his career. Coyle is an athletic blocker that does well against the second level of the defense. I think he has enough strength and power to be a solid fullback in the NFL. With is skill set as a receiver; offenses can do a lot with him. Versatile players like this usually get drafted late day three.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#24 Osahon Irabor – CB – 5’11/181
#21 Chris Young – ILB – 6’0/244
#9 Robert Nelson – CB – 5’10/169
#95 Gannon Conway – DE – 6’4/280

TEXAS TECH

*#22 Jace Amaro – TE – 6’5/260

Amaro’s 2013 season has helped his draft status more than any other player in the country. He was a backup in 2011 with minimal playing time, but came on strong in 2012. However he missed the final 6 games of 2012 with a back injury before coming back for their bowl game. Enter 2013 and we may be looking at the top graded TE in the draft that could sneak in to the top 15. Amaro is a matchup nightmare because of his height, length, and girth. He plays in the wide open Texas Tech offense that has him playing the role of a WR most of the time, but Amaro has a physical style to his game. He can push defensive backs around with ease and get to a spot where only he can make a play on the ball. He has superb ball skills and sneaky speed up the seam. He plays with a tough, hard nosed aggression. Very competitive athlete. Amaro may need a little coaching up on blocking technique, but I think he can factor in to the passing game right away in the NFL. I really like what he can do for a passing game and he will grade out as a first rounder if he comes out.

#18 Eric Ward – WR – 6’0/205

Fifth year senior. Ward is a statistical compiler without the ideal tool set. He doesn’t have the speed to get behind a defense more does he show the elusive movement ability after the catch. Ward his a strong player though with reliable hands and route running ability. He comes away with a lot of balls in traffic. He does a lot of little things well that can hide some of his talent-weakness. I actually like this kind of player a lot. Very similar style to Anquan Boldin. He’ll struggle to stick to a roster in some places but I can see him eventually finding a team that uses him well out of the slot.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#5 Tre Porter – S – 6’0/205
#1 Terrance Bullitt – OLB – 6’3/225
#91 Kerry Hyder – DE – 6’2/280

Dec 292013
 
MetLife Stadium, New York Giants (December 29, 2013)

A Depressing End to a Crappy Season – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 20 – Washington Redskins 6; Manning, Beatty, Brewer, Randle, and Nicks Hurt: The New York Giants defeated the Washington Redskins 20-6 on Sunday afternoon at a dreary, nearly-empty, rain-soaked MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With the win, the Giants finished the 2013 NFL season with a 7-9 record (3-3 in the NFC East).

However, the real story was the game-ending injuries suffered by QB Eli Manning (high ankle sprain), LT Will Beatty (broken right leg), OG James Brewer (ankle), WR Rueben Randle (knee), and WR Hakeem Nicks (ankle). Beatty’s injury appears to be the worst of the bunch. He had to be carted from the field in the third quarter and Head Coach Tom Coughlin did not know the severity of the fracture after the game. Manning was using a walking boot and crutches after the contest. Brewer left the game early and was spotted wearing a walking boot in the locker room. Randle and Nicks left the game in the first half. Randle, who missed practice all week with a knee issue, said his departure was precautionary. Beatty’s availability for the 2014 season could be at risk.

The injuries severely depleted an already undermanned Giants team. By the second half, the Giants were down to Jerrel Jernigan, Louis Murphy, and Julian Talley at wide receiver. Curtis Painter was at quarterback. And the offensive line consisted of Stephen Goodin, Dallas Reynolds, Kevin Boothe, David Diehl, and Justin Pugh.

Offensively, aside from the play of WR Jerrel Jernigan, it was an ugly game for the Giants. Not counting the ends of both halves, the Giants had 16 offensive possessions. Eight ended with punts, one with a missed field goal, three with turnovers, and four with scores. Jernigan scored both touchdowns, one on a 24-yard pass from Manning in the second quarter and the other on a 49-yard end around in the third quarter. The Giants were held to 14 first downs, 3-of-14 on third down, and only gained 278 total net yards (122 yards rushing and 156 yards passing).

Defensively, the Giants did a number on the Redskins, holding Washington to 12 first downs, 5-of-20 on third down, and 251 net yards (91 yards rushing and 160 yards passing). Most importantly, the Giants kept the Redskins out of the end zone despite turnovers that gave the Redskins the ball at the Giants’ 18 and Redskins’ 46 yard lines. The Giants held the Redskins to two first downs in the first half. And for the game, in 17 offensive possessions, the Redskins punted nine times, turned the ball over four times, turned the ball over on downs twice, and kicked two field goals.

Eli Manning finished the game 10-of-24 for 152 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. QB Curtis Painter, who played the entire second half, finished the game 2-of-8 for 11 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 1 interception. RB Peyton Hillis carried the ball 17 times for 56 yards. RB Andre Brown only managed 11 yards on 13 carries and also fumbled the ball away. Jernigan was the leading rusher (two carries for 57 yards and a touchdown) and receiver (6 catches for 90 yards and a touchdown).

On the defensive side of the ball, MLB Jon Beason led the team with 9 tackles. DE Justin Tuck had 6 tackles, 2 sacks, and forced a fumble. DT Cullen Jenkins had 4 tackles, 1 sack, and forced a fumble. DT Linval Joseph and LB Keith Rivers both recovered fumbles. CB Trumaine McBride picked off two passes and had six pass defenses.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com, as is the video of the post-game locker room celebration.

Post-Game Injury Report: QB Eli Manning (high ankle sprain), LT Will Beatty (fractured right leg), OG James Brewer (ankle), WR Rueben Randle (knee), and WR Hakeem Nicks (ankle) all left the game and did not return. OG David Diehl revealed he will need thumb surgery in the offseason. CB Terrell Thomas revealed that he not only underwent his third ACL repair in the 2013 offseason but he also had microfracture surgery.

“I’m not exactly sure (if Beatty broke his) tibia, fibula or just one of those,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “I don’t have that information for you, but he’s hurt.”

“I couldn’t finish the game,” said Manning. “I obviously wanted to. The doctor said it would not be a good decision, and I agreed with him. I don’t think I could have been very effective playing after the injury…I knew it was hurt a little bit at the time and just hoped it wasn’t worse, and I’m very happy to hear it was just a sprain…Rest for a few weeks and I’ll probably be in a boot for a while, that’s what they say with a high ankle sprain. Obviously I have time now, so I’ll just rest it up and start rehabbing. I’ll probably have a little better idea tomorrow or the next day, as I go in and figure out what I need to do to get better.”

Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Post-Game Press Conference: The transcript and video of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s post-game press conference are available at Giants.com.

Player Post-Game Media Sessions: Transcripts and video of post-game media sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

New York Giants 2014 Regular-Season Opponents Set: The Giants will play the following teams in 2014:

Home:

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Washington Redskins
  • Arizona Cardinals
  • San Francisco 49ers
  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Houston Texans
  • Indianapolis Colts

Away:

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Washington Redskins
  • St. Louis Rams
  • Detroit Lions
  • Seattle Seahawks
  • Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Tennessee Titans

New York Giants Will Pick 12th in 2014 NFL Draft: The Giants will pick 12th in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Article on New York Giants President/CEO John Mara: Giants co-owner John Mara should force major changes despite strong finish by Steve Politi of The Star-Ledger

Articles on the New York Giants Offensive Line:

Article on DE Justin Tuck: Justin Tuck deserves to be back with Giants by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Article on LB Jon Beason: Jon Beason on return to Giants: ‘I would love to play here next year’ by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Article on CB Terrell Thomas: Giants’ Terrell Thomas pull off improbable, admits to having microfracture surgery too by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

New York Giants Post-Game Notes: Inactive for the Giants were QB Ryan Nassib, WR Victor Cruz (knee), TE Adrien Robinson (knee), OG Brandon Mosley (hand), OG Eric Herman, DE Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder), LB Allen Bradford.

The Giants started the season 0-6 and finished 7-3 in the last 10 games. The Giants finished the 2013 NFL season 4-4 at home and 3-5 on the road. The Giants finished third in the NFC East for the second season in a row.

All nine of the Giants’ losses were to teams that finished .500 or better.

The Giants finished the season with an average of just 83.3 yards on the ground, their lowest season-long average since they rushed for 76.9 yards a game in 1945.

The Giants turned the football at least once in every game this season.

Tom Coughlin won his 90th regular-season game as the Giants’ head coach. He is just the second coach in franchise history to reach that plateau (Steve Owen had 153).

QB Eli Manning’s first and last passes of the season were each intercepted.

Manning was sacked 39 times this season.

WR Jerrel Jernigan’s 49-yard touchdown run was the longest by a Giants wide receiver since the 1970 merger. In addition, it was the longest run by a Giant this season. This is the first time since the merger the Giants’ longest run was by a wide receiver.

DE Justin Tuck finished the season with 11 sacks, the third-highest total of his career and the fourth double-digit sack season in Tuck’s nine Giants seasons.

Despite missing a 50-yard field goal, PK Josh Brown made 23-of-26 field goal attempts this season, a percentage of 88.5 that is third-highest in Giants history (minimum 15 attempts).

Justin Pugh started at right tackle, as he did in every game this season, becoming the first Giants rookie to start an entire 16-game season since defensive tackle Barry Cofield in 2006.

David Diehl returned to the starting lineup at right guard. It was Diehl’s 164th regular-season game in a Giants uniform, tying him with quarterback Phil Simms for 12th place on the franchise’s career list. Diehl started 160 of those games, including 11 this season.

Dec 292013
 
Eli Manning, New York Giants (December 22, 2013)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

No New York Giants Selected to 2013 NFL Pro Bowl: The New York Giants were shut out of the 2013 NFL Pro Bowl. Antrel  Rolle was selected as a second alternate at safety. The last time no Giant went to the Pro Bowl was 1996.

Articles on the New York Giants 2013 NFL Season:

Articles on the New York Giants and the Upcoming Offseason:

Article on QB Eli Manning: Even in worst season with NY Giants, Eli Manning remembers to act like a champion by Mike Lupica of The Daily News

Articles on the New York Giants Offensive Line:

Article on DE Justin Tuck: Is this Tuck’s last game as a Giant? by Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record

Dec 282013
 
Eric Ebron, North Carolina Tar Heels (September 7, 2013)

TE Eric Ebron – © USA TODAY Sports Images

December 28, 2013 Bowl Games: 2014 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

RUTGERS

*#17 Brandon Coleman – WR  6’6/220

Fourth year junior that has already declared for the NFL Draft. Has been a big play threat since becoming a part of that offense in 2011. His upside after the 2011 season was being discussed as if he was eventually heading to the first round tier, but that is no longer the case. His size/speed/strength numbers are off the charts, no doubt. But Coleman lacks quickness and agility. He is a guy that really struggles to get open in man coverage. His acceleration is below average and simply lacks the quick twitch that is needed to react to speed. He will get drafted based on his upside and physical style of play. He is a terror or defensive backs to tackle in the open field, and he does pose as a deep threat. Coleman can be molded in to a receiver that creates matchup problems for the opposing defense, but I don’t see him being an every down contributor in the NFL.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#75 Antwan Lowery – G – 6’4/305
#18 Jeremy Deering – S – 6’2/200
#37 Jamal Merrell – OLB – 6’4/225
#92 Jamil Merrell – DE – 6’4/255

NOTRE DAME

*#7 Stephon Tuitt – DE – 6’6/312

Third year junior that has not declared for the draft yet, but I expect him to. Tuitt is one of the most unique players I have ever scouted. At his size, he moves exceptionally well when rushing the edge. Combining that with a top-level power grade leads me to the Richard Seymour-comparison. I am very careful about comparing players to Seymour, whom I believe was one of the top defensive linemen of his era. But Tuitt has that kind of body and movement ability, and I expect his services to be in high demand next spring. His power presence against the run and dynamic pass rush ability against the pass can be used in so many ways. He will likely end up in the top 15 on my sheet, and that is being conservative.

#70 Zack Martin – LT – 6’4/304

Fifth year senior that has been the top offensive lineman on the ND roster for a few years now. He has started every game of his career, mainly at left tackle. Because of his size and style of play, I think Martin will make the move to guard at the next level, where he projects to be a very good player. Mechanically, Martin is very sound and consistent with his form and approach. Excellent knee bender that shows flexibility from his ankles all the way up through his shoulders. Very good athlete in space that is balanced, maintaining power and strength. Martin has all the tools and skills you want in an offensive lineman. I think he’ll be a starter within a year or two, and a very good one at that. Expect to hear his name called as soon as the second round.

#55 Prince Shembo – OLB – 6’1/255

Fourth year senior with a ton of starting experience for a team that has had a very good defense over the past four years. Shembo is a high-motor edge player that always hustles, always plays through the whistle. He is a strong athlete that bends well and gets under the pads of his opponent consistently. He has a quick jump off the snap, but doesn’t have that next gear to strike fear in to opponents. He also doesn’t have the ideal height and length. With that said, Shembo can be a nice backup/rotational guy because of how hard he plays combined with his tools. I can see him being a middle round pick that a team ends up being very happy with.

#66 Chris Watt – G – 6’3/321

Fifth year senior, three year starter. May not be the prospect that Zack Martin is, but Watt is a different kind of player. He has great size for the position, carrying his weight well and really get the most out of himself. He is a little inconsistent with his weight distribution, playing on his toes too often and getting beat by the quicker defensive linemen. But when Watt has his mechanics and technique lined up, he can win the one on one battles against anyone. Watt has the upside of a quality starter at the next level. I think he gets called somewhere between rounds 4-6.

#2 Bennett Jackson – CB – 6’0/195

Fourth year senior, two year starter. Jackson stood out to me in the games I watched. I think he is a prime candidate for a move to safety at the next level. He has the size and tackling ability to be a factor in the middle of the field. What he struggles with his the quick twitched receiver that runs underneath routes. He is an ultra-aggressive downhill defender that knows how to finish. He can make due at cornerback with a strong jam at the line and ability to diagnose routes and throwing lanes, but he struggles to turn and run. A good defensive mind can find a role for him. I think he goes somewhere in rounds 4-6.

#7 Jones, TJ – WR – 5’11/195

Fourth year senior, three year starter. Jones has been a consistently productive receiver that shined in 2013. Despite some poor quarterback play, he had his best year and some believe he could be a mid-round pick. I like Jones and his ability to run routes and make things happen after the catch, but I think he is merely average across the board. Average size, average speed, average quickness. Jones doesn’t stand out as an athlete at the college level. A lot of his production was a result of being matched up against mediocre defensive backs and the defenses attention elsewhere. I view him as a late round guy that will struggle to stick somewhere.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#48 Dan Fox – ILB – 6’3/245
#44 Carlo Calabrese – ILB – 6’1/250
#11 Tommy Rees – QB – 6’2/215

CINCINNATI

#51 Greg Blair – LB – 6’2/252

Was a junior college transfer prior to the 2012 season. He started right away and opened some eyes with a 138-tackle season. His main issue revolves around athletic ability. Even though he lost 15 pounds prior to the 2013 season opener, he appears to be too slow to play every down. He struggles to reach the sideline on outside runs and doesn’t make an impact in coverage. With that said, it’s hard to find a linebacker in this class with the power presence of Blair. He can impact an inside run defense at the next level right away. I think Blair will be drafted on day three, most likely in round 6 or 7.

#10 Jordan Luallen – FB – 6’3/240

Little bit of a shot in the dark here, but I think Luallen is an athlete worth gambling on in round 7. He started off at Georgia Tech, but opted to transfer after just one year. Luallen has mainly been a rushing quarterback out of the wildcat package for Cincinnati. But whenever I saw him play in 2013, his tool set jumped out at me and I think he could be a prime candidate for a move to TE, FB, or even LB at the next level. He is a physical player with that plays hard and fast. Throw him on a practice squad for a year or two and I think he can blossom in to something that helps an NFL team.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#94 Jordan Stepp – DT – 6’1/285
#76 Austen Bujnoch –LG – 6’4/290
#11 Brendon Kay – QB – 6’4/228
#60 Sam Longo – RG – 6’5/305
#11 Deven Drane – CB – 5’11/187

NORTH CAROLINA

*#85 Eric Ebron – TE – 6’4/245

Third year junior that has already declared for the NFL Draft. Has been a big play threat ever since coming to UNC in 2011. Ebron is a weapon for any passing scheme in the league, as he creates matchup problems with his size/speed combination. He has shown some freakish ability when leaping for balls away from his body. In addition, Ebron has elite speed for the TE position once he has the ball in his hands. He has Kellen Winslow-type tools without the overhype. As a blocker, Ebron’s effort and technique are both there but he will need simply add some weight room strength to his lower half. He can still make a difference there, however. What he has shown on tape over the past two years could land him somewhere in the first round, possibly even within the top 20 overall.

#93 Kareem Martin – DE – 6’6/265

Martin is a little under the radar among the draft-analyst-public. He has always been a tool-rich player with upside, but lacked the quality level of play week to week. Well I have seen Martin play five times in 2013, three of which in the past size weeks, and I am a believer he is going to be a quality starter in the NFL. He has all the size, length, speed, and skills required to play the 4-3 DE role at a high level. Martin makes a lot of things happen behind the line of scrimmage. He can cover a lot of ground in just a few steps. I’ve seen him completely take over games and I think it starting to really click with him. There are little technique aspects to work on with his pad level and hand work, but NFL coaching will elevate him to a high level. Don’t be surprised to see him taken in round one.

#68 James Hurst – LT – 6’7/305

There is a ton of talk regarding the abundance of quality left tackle prospects in this draft class, and rightfully so. What often happens as a result, however, is the second and third tier or players at that position get overlooked. I think that is what happens with Hurst. Hurst was a 5 star recruit out of high school that has been starting at left tackle for four years now, grading out as the team’s best performing lineman every season (Ahead of 2013 first round pick Jonathan Cooper for three years). Hurst is a reliable, powerful blocker that can handle speed and/or strength. He is not an elite-tools guy. He does struggle in pass protection the further out in space he gets, often leaning forward on to his toes and being susceptible to inside moves. But when his mechanics and balance are there, he can play with anyone. He showed some signs of struggle against Clowney early in the year, but I thought he did a good enough job to hold on to his round two or three projection. He’ll be a starter in the NFL at some point.

#10 Tre Boston – S – 6’1/205

Fourth year senior that started his career off at cornerback, but made the move to strong safety in 2011. He has led the Tar Heels in interceptions each of the past three seasons. Boston is an aggressive hustler that is always around the action, but lacks some of the necessary tools to be considered a top safety in this class. He does not have the catch up speed downfield, nor does he intimidate receivers over the middle. He makes a lot of tackles with is ability to attack downhill and make plays in space against quicker ball carriers, but he doesn’t have a big power presence. Boston has the versatility to be a factor at the next level, but I’m not so sure he can be a quality starter. I project him to be taken between rounds 4-6.

#4 Jabari Price – CB – 6’0/200

Fourth year senior that has been a productive player over the course of his career with a lot of experience. Price is intriguing from the size/speed perspective. He is put together nicely and has shown the willingness to be a physical player. He is a straight line athlete, one that can turn and run down the field with anyone. He appears to be a little uncomfortable with some technique-based aspects to the position. He isn’t very fluid with facing the action, struggling to efficiently turn his hips and change direction. He doesn’t make a big difference with his jam at the line, and his ball skills need to be worked on. Price is a good athlete with an intriguing tool set that coaches want to work with. I think he gets drafted late because of the upside.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#93 Tim Jackson – DT – 6’5/285
#15 AJ Blue – RB – 6’2/215

MIAMI

*#52 Denzel Perryman – LB – 6’2/243

Third year junior that has started games at OLB and MLB for the Hurricanes. Has not yet declared but many think he will after a strong 2013 campaign. I’ve seen Perryman four times in 2013 and I think he is ready for the NFL. He has a country-thick frame that plays with power and short area explosion. I think he is an ideal fit for the MIKE or WILL position in certain 4-3 schemes, but could also play inside within a 3-4 defense as well. Perryman is hard nosed, physical tackler that can make things happen. For the teams that want an enforcer inside, Perryman is your guy. He doesn’t make a big difference in coverage and won’t rush the passer, but his ability against the interior running game is draft-able by itself. I can see him being a 2nd/3rd round pick that makes an immediate impact at the next level.

#1 Allen Hurns – WR – 6’3/195

Fourth year senior. Hurns was an afterthought heading in to 2013 but his big senior season has helped his draft stock quite a bit. Hurns is tall, long, and fast. He showed good ball skills and some quality route running skills this year. He has a wiry frame that struggles to handle physical corners. He doesn’t like contact and that was obvious when watching him go across the middle. All in all, Hurns looks like a diamond in the rough at the WR position. He really stepped up when the team needed him the most. A lot to like here. He could be a day two pick if he works out well.

#77 Seantrel Henderson – OT  6’8/345

Fourth year senior. It’s been quite the roller coaster for Henderson, the nations top rated high school prospect in 2009. Since the start of his career, he has been bouncing between the injury list, coach’s doghouse, the bench, and the starting lineup. There will need to be a lot of extensive looks in to his off the field issues. With that said there are very few people on this earth that stand 6’8”/340+ pounds and move the way Henderson does. His movement ability in space is almost unbelievable. He is a dominant run blocker with easy knee bend, strong hands, and explosive hips. His pass protection issues are technique-based and can be improved. Despite the character issues, Henderson will be drafted somewhere on day three. His tool set is something that won’t come by very often.

#65 Brandon Linder – RG – 6’6/317

Fourth year senior that has been starting since his freshman year. Big, physical mauler that loves to run block. He is a straight ahead, no-nonsense player that can dominate the point of attack. Linder struggles with his weight distribution, often leaning on his toes making him susceptible to quicker defenders. Linder has the frame and power to get him drafted on day three. He can be a starter down the road if he works on his skill set.

#51 Shayon Green – DE – 6’3/262

Fifth year senior. Former middle linebacker that has a couple of torn ACL’s on his resume. Was the team’s leading tackler in 2012 despite playing defensive end. Green doesn’t jump out at me play-to-play, but he is a guy that makes things happen over the course of a game. He is a disruptor against the run, getting in to the backfield and pursuing down the line. Green is not an elite pass rusher from a tools or skill perspective, but his aggressive style of play and strong hands will get him a second look from some teams. I think Green has a shot at being a 6th or 7th round pick.

Potential UDFA to Look For:

#96 Curtis Porter – DT – 6’1/316

LOUISVILLE

*#5 Terry Bridgewater – QB – 6’3/196

Fourth year junior that has been re-writing the record books at Louisville, a program that has had its fair share of accomplished collegiate signal callers. Bridgewater has been considered the top quarterback in this draft class for a long time. The majority of the analysts believe he will be the first overall pick of the draft, but I don’t see it and I never have. Bridgewater doesn’t jump off the tape to me and I think his career in the NFL will eventually will reside as a backup. He doesn’t great size, doesn’t have great arm strength, doesn’t make a ton of plays with his feet. How is he considered “The” guy at the most vital position in sports? He does throw with tremendous accuracy and has a quick release, but so did Sam Bradford in college. Bradford is the guy I always think of while watching Bridgewater, and I think they will have similar careers. Neither are built to handle a lot of contact and neither can take over a game and elevate the level of play of those around them. I’ll grade him similar to the level where I had Geno Smith last year. He is a 2nd or 3rd round prospect that will get a shot in the NFL, but is best utilized as a quality backup type.

*#29 Calvin Pryor – S – 6’2/205

Third year junior that has not yet declared for the Draft. I watched Louisville twice in September and both times Pryor jumped off the screen. He is a do-it-all safety that gives the defense a lot of options. As the year progressed, every time I saw him play he appeared to just get better and better. Pryor will likely end the grading process as the best, or second best, safety in this class. He is an explosive downhill athlete that can fly in to the box and make physical tackles on ball carriers. He has tremendous ball skills and breaks on the ball in a way that you will usually only see in cornerbacks. He is such a reliable player that does all the little things right, but will make eye—opening plays as well. I think Pryor can be a star at the next level if he comes out. He could sneak in to the end of round 1.

#2 Preston Brown – MLB – 6’2/260

Fourth year senior that has played every game of his career, starting since 2011. He is a thickly built, powerful run stuffer that has more range than you would think. He makes a lot of tackles all over the field and I think he can be a quality player at the next level. I think he will eventually need to lose some weight if he wants to be an every down guy, but he has quick/agile hips and light feet to move around. Brown appears limited but he can be a contributor in most schemes. I am thinking rounds 5-7 here.

*#9 DeVante Parker – WR – 6’3/209

Third year junior that hasn’t declared yet. Parker has been the go-to-guy for Bridgewater over the past few years and I think his decision will be tied to what his quarterback does. As a prospect, I don’t think Parker stands out enough to earn a high grade. He has the size but he struggled to run himself open in almost every tape I saw. He isn’t physical and he won’t make things happen after the catch. I feel there are a lot of receivers just like Parker available every round of every draft. I’d rather go after a receiver with more upside and/or a tool that can be worked off of. 5th-7th rounder here.

#91 Marcus Smith – DE – 6’3/252

Fourth year senior. Smith was a high school quarterback that made the move to LB right away in 2010. His time was short-lived there, transitioning to DE in 2011 and going on to leading the team with 5.5 sacks. He has evolved in to a nice player and his breakout 2013 campaign may get him drafted in the first five rounds. Smith has average get off and flexibility. He isn’t a pure edge rusher. The Louisville scheme has him roaming around pre-snap, letting him rush the passer from numerous angles and positions. Smith is a good athlete in space, and I think his fit will be in a 3-4 scheme at the next level. He has the power and strength to mix it up with the OL, but also the athletic ability to cover and pursue. Solid player here.

#7 Damian Copeland – WR – 6’1/182

Under the radar receiver despite being a productive player over the past two years. Copeland lacks size and speed, and doesn’t exactly jump off the screen when it comes to agility and acceleration. But every time I watched this offense go, I found myself jotting positive things about Copeland. He is tougher than nails that will get after balls running straight in to the teeth of a defense. He is a hard nosed player that runs reliable routes and catches the ball with his hands. Copeland is likely a 6th or 7th rounder but I think he sticks somewhere and has a nice little career.

#29 Hakeem Smith – S – 6’1/179

Fourth year senior that has been a bit of a disappointment. He was the Big East Rookie of the Year in 2010 and came back strong in 2011, earning 1st Team all conference. Since then, however, Smith’s role has diminished and his level of play never took that next step. He has a thin frame that doesn’t make an impact in the power game nor does he run downfield with speed receivers. There isn’t anything to his game that jumps at you and I think he’ll be just another guy at the next level. His experience and early success will get him drafted late day three.

MICHIGAN

#77 Taylor Lewan – LT – 6’8/315

Fifth year senior that took over the starting left tackle job in week four of 2010 and hasn’t looked back since. Lewan’s grade has been an up and down experience for me. I’ve seen games where he looks like another Jake Long with his dominant straight ahead run blocking and overpowering hands as a pass blocker. Last year when he was considering leaving early for the NFL, I didn’t have a 1st round grade on him. I thought he was too stagnant against speed rushers and struggles to adjust to double moves in space. He came back strong in 2013, proving to be much more technically sound and efficient. When a guy with this much power plays with mechanics, big things can happen. However, as the year progressed Lewan got a little banged up and seemed to lose his dominance. He really struggled in the final two games that I saw. I head in to the draft process still unsure about how good he can be on the left side in the NFL. He warrants a first round grade but I don’t think he is a top 10 guy in this class.

#21 Jeremy Gallon – WR – 5’8/184

Fifth year senior. Gallon’s primary roles early in his career resided on special teams as a return specialist. His quickness and ability to get open were too good to ignore in 2012, however. He made his way on to the field and led the team with 49 receptions, 829 yards. I think Gallon is an excellent slot receiver prospect. His body control and agility give him the tool set the be an outstanding route runner. Teams need a receiver underneath that can run the quick routes and get that separation. Gallon does that well and has the toughness and reliable ball skills to be a factor there. The size will limit him, but he has the look of a guy that turns in to a quarterback’s best friend on third down. I see a 4th/5th rounder here.

#75 Michael Schofield – RT – 6’7/304

Fifth year senior that has starting experience at LG and RT. Schofield is mechanically sound with outstanding footwork. He is a balanced athlete with solid weight distribution. Coaches at the next level will like how ready he is for NFL action right off the bat. I think he will struggle against the speed of the league, however. His reaction time is slow, as he was often playing catch up in the games I saw. I think he grades out as a 5th-7th rounder but can be a quality backup in the NFL.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#28 Fitzgerald Toussaint – RB – 5’10/200
#76 Quinton Washington – DT – 6’4/301
#55 Jibreel Black – DT – 6’2/278

KANSAS STATE

#12 Ty Zimmerman – S – 6’1/204

Fourth year senior that has been starting since his freshman season. Zimmerman has had a very productive career (13 career INTs) that has been a steady presence in the middle of the field for that defense from the beginning. He is the son of a football coach and excelled as a high school QB. With that in mind and by simply watching him play, it is clear that he gets by with his on-field intelligence. He is a student of the game and it can make up for physical shortcomings. Although he has good size and length for the position, Zimmerman doesn’t have a big physical impact on the game. In addition, he doesn’t run with the speed receivers downfield nor does he have the short area explosion and reaction to hang with them in underneath coverage. I think Zimmerman is a nice player to have on special teams, backing up the safeties. Other than that, I think he would be a liability for a defense more than an asset. 5th-7th rounder.

#79 Cornelius Lucas – LT – 6’9/328

Fifth year senior that didn’t start until 2012. Made an immediate impact, earning 1st Team All conference his junior year. At his size, I am surprised to see his ability in space. He is an excellent run blocker at the second level. He covers a lot of ground in just a few steps and with his length, he can overwhelm linebackers. He does have issues as a pass blocker, however. He struggles to play with consistent knee bend and is often trying to play catch up. Lucas gets really sloppy with his hands and feet and is a candidate for the practice squad before he is trusted to protect an NFL quarterback. Unique tool set however, and I think it gets him drafted late day three.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#86 Tramaine Thompson – WR – 5’8/167
#33 John Hubert – RB – 5’7/191
#79 Keenan Taylor – RG – 6’4/290

Dec 272013
 
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants (December 22, 2013)

Hakeem Nicks – © USA TODAY Sports Images

December 27, 2013 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing on Friday were WR Rueben Randle (knee), WR Victor Cruz (knee/concussion), TE Adrien Robinson (knee), OG Brandon Mosley (hand), and DE Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder). Randle is officially listed as “questionable” for the game against the Washington Redskins on Sunday; Cruz, Robinson, Mosley, and Pierre-Paul will not play.

OG David Diehl (knee), DT Cullen Jenkins (shin/quad), CB Trumaine McBride (groin), and CB Terrell Thomas (knee) were limited in practice. McBride is “questionable” for the game while Diehl, Jenkins, and Thomas are “probable.”

RB Andre Brown (concussion), RB Peyton Hillis (concussion), and CB Jayron Hosley (illness) fully practiced. All three players are “probable” for the game.

December 27, 2013 Tom Coughlin Press Conference: The transcript and video of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Friday media session are available at Giants.com

Giants.com Q&A With Head Coach Tom Coughlin: The Coughlin Corner: Finishing Strong by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

December 27, 2013 New York Giants Player Media Sessions: Video clips of Friday’s media sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Article on New York Giants President/CEO John Mara: Big Blue Boss: How John Mara will handle the Giants’ offseason by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Article on the New York Giants Passing Game: Cruz: WRs, Eli had ‘disconnect’ by Matt Ehalt of ESPNNewYork.com

Article on WR Hakeem Nicks: Nicks wants to stay with Giants: ‘It’s not just about money’ by Bart Hubbuch of The New York Post

Article on OC/OG Dallas Reynolds: Giants’ Dallas Reynolds steps in admirably in emergency vs. Lions by Dave Hutchinson of The Star-Ledger

Articles on New York Giants Defensive Linemen:

Article on S Antrel Rolle: It’s easy to misjudge matured, team-first Giants captain Rolle by Mark Cannizzaro of The New York Post

Giants Online: The video of this week’s edition of Giants Online is available at Giants.com.

Quotes: Former Giants Running Back Tiki Barber on QB Eli Manning: “He’s done great things, but he doesn’t do it consistently. What makes someone great in the history, in the annals of an organization or a league? It’s consistency. The problem with Eli, as of late, I think, is there’s something physically off. There’s definitely a confidence issue…It has everything to do with those five guys (on the offensive line) — and really it’s been eight over the course of this year — in front of him that just can’t get it done. He’s constantly throwing off his back foot. I feel like he’s pressing sometimes to make some throws and they end up sailing on him…It’s because of confidence and I think because he’s gotten the crap beat out of him…I’ve counted Eli out before and I’ve been wrong. Here’s what I know about him. He has a drive, and maybe it’s a Manning thing. … Is it still open for him to have great success in the next three or four years? I think it is.”
Dec 272013
 
Justin Tuck, New York Giants (December 22, 2013)

Justin Tuck – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Approach to the Game – Washington Redskins at New York Giants, December 29, 2013:  Stating the obvious, the New York Giants’ 2013 season has been a disaster. The franchise and its fans were sent into a state of shock by the 0-6 start. A 4-0 run against teams with shoddy quarterbacks raised some faint hope until Dallas swept the Giants with a crushing loss at the Meadowlands in Week 12. The final kick in the balls were the uncompetitive losses to the Chargers and Seahawks.

The six or seven wins the Giants will finish with in 2013 should not mask the fact that this team was one of the worst in the NFL this season. The defense was respectable, but the passing game on offense completely collapsed, the Giants were 31st in rushing, and special teams were atrocious for much of the season. Given the sorry state of the NFC East, the fact that the Giants were out of division race with more than a quarter of the regular season remaining is the most damning indictment of all.

There are legitimate questions concerning the coaching staff and I will address some of these below, but I think it is fairly obvious that the overriding issue with this team in 2013 was not coaching but lack of talent and the ever-obvious reality that General Manager Jerry Reese, Vice President of Player Evaluation Marc Ross, and the entire college scouting department have blown far too many draft picks in recent years.

There is no sense harping too much on the Giants-Redskins finale other than to say that the Redskins are certainly capable of ending the Giants’ season on one final down note. Right now, Kirk Cousins is a better quarterback than Robert Griffin III, and Cousins has every motivation in the world to play well. The Redskins are one of the best rushing teams in football and their defense will want to play well for retiring MLB London Fletcher. The Redskins haven’t quit as demonstrated by last week’s game against the Cowboys.

I hope the Giants perform well and win for those players who might be playing in their last game as a New York Giant. This is likely it for David Diehl, who has been a warrior on this team for 11 seasons. Justin Tuck – whose play was so decisive in two Super Bowls – will be a free agent and there is no guarantee that he will be back. Hakeem Nicks, who tore it up in the 2011 playoffs – will probably depart via free agency. Linval Joseph, Kevin Boothe, and Terrell Thomas will be free agents and may not be back. The Giants may choose to let go of the high-priced Mathias Kiwanuka. No one knows if the Giants and Antrel Rolle will be able to work out a new contract in order to reduce his cap hit.

Twenty-nine Giants (including two with voidable contracts) will be free agents. Much of the core group of Super Bowl XLII and XLVI are gone or will soon be gone. I hope the ones who are about to leave go out with a victory.

Quarterback: The #1 priority this offseason is to rebuild Eli Manning and the most obvious way to do that is dramatically improve his supporting cast (more on that below). But the Giants also must improve the quarterback’s deteriorating fundamentals. In my mind, 41-year old Quarterbacks Coach Sean Ryan should be on the hot seat. An absolutely critical decision also needs to be made with respect to Eli’s contract. Eli is under contract for two more seasons, but his salary cap hit in 2014 will be over $20 million again. That’s almost 1/6 of the cap. The problem with restructuring is you are extending the contract, and if Eli does not rebound, the Giants could be in salary cap hell for years to come. The more prudent thing might be to wait one more year and see if Eli rebounds, but if the Giants do this, there won’t be a lot of cap room for free agents (both current Giants whose contracts are expiring and players from other teams). Eli could ease some doubts with a strong game in the finale.

Wide Receivers: Too much focus has been on the demise of Eli Manning and not enough regarding the demise of his wide receiving corps. 25-year old Hakeem Nicks’ game has deteriorated so rapidly since Week 2 of the 2012 season that it boggles the mind. He not only has been held out of the end zone all season, but he only has three 100-yard receiving games this season (and only one 100-yard game in 2012). To be frank, he’s just not that good anymore. Nicks might rebound with another team in 2014, but right now, I am not even sure he should have started for the Giants in 2013. He’s been that bad.

Nicks’ situation seems to have clouded the fact that Victor Cruz did not play very well in 2013. Cruz only scored touchdowns in two games, the last being in Week 4 and he had only one 100-yard receiving game since Week 4. Cruz is being paid to be an impact player and he wasn’t in 2013. He needs to rededicate himself in the offseason and come back strong.

This was supposed to be a breakout season for Rueben Randle and it wasn’t. Randle did have six touchdowns, but he really faded in the second half of the season. His only 100-yard game came in the opener and he hasn’t scored since Week 11.

Jerrel Jernigan finally showed some signs of life the last two weeks and Sunday will be another important game for him with Cruz out. Louis Murphy was supposed to be the Giants’ deep threat but was a bust.

Wide receiver used to be an area of strength and was expected to be for years to come, but Nicks’ fall and Randle’s lack of development has changed that. The Giants look slow on offense. And it seems like Eli doesn’t really trust anyone other than Cruz. The Giants have to cross their fingers that Cruz rebounds and Randle does develop in 2014, but they also need to add more speed and play-making ability. Don’t be shocked if the Giants go wide receiver high in the draft. The draft mess ups with Sinorice Moss, Ramses Barden, Jerrel Jernigan (to date), and maybe even Randle have hurt. 34-year old Kevin Gilbride, Jr. – the offensive coordinator’s son – should also be on the hot seat.

Tight Ends: The Giants kept four tight ends. The most physically-talented two – Adrien Robinson and Larry Donnell – did not develop and barely played. Brandon Myers and Bear Pascoe are subpar, unathletic overachievers who might not start for any other team in the NFL. No one here scares an opposing defense or presents match-up problems. The Giants have to pray 71-year old Mike Pope – who is nearing the end – can get something out of Robinson and Donnell, and the Giants need to draft a legitimate threat and not another project.

Running Backs: Is the 2014 starter even on this team? Who knows if David Wilson’s career is over? Will the Giants re-sign the injury-prone Andre Brown? Should they?  Does Michael Cox have an NFL future? Was Peyton Hillis just a bandaid? Henry Hynoski will return in 2014, but I personally think John Conner is the better player.

Offensive Line: Excuse my language, but just a fucking disaster. Shame on Jerry Reese for letting this unit deteriorate to this point. Every fan who had been complaining for years that not enough was  being done to address the offensive line has been proven 100 percent correct. It was stupid to rely on the physically-failing/now injury-prone David Diehl, Chris Snee, and David Baas. And not enough was done in case those players inevitably got hurt again. You can’t run or pass the football if you can’t block up front. In 2011, the Giants were 32nd in rushing; in 2013, they are 31st. Now the pass protection has also fallen apart as Eli often doesn’t have a pocket to step up into.

The Giants have Justin Pugh and a bunch of question marks. Can the high-priced Will Beatty rebound? Cutting the high-priced David Baas will actually hurt against the cap, but should the Giants risk trusting him again? Chris Snee should retire, but if he doesn’t, will Tom cut his son-in-law? Will or should Kevin Boothe be re-signed?  Do James Brewer, Brandon Mosley, Jim Cordle, Eric Herman, and Stephen Goodin have NFL futures? The Giants need a ton of help in this area, but they only have six draft picks, a $20 million salary-cap hog at quarterback, and some pretty desperate needs at WR, TE, and RB. Why did the Giants suck on offense in 2013? Because an atrocious offensive line and their skill position players were not very good. It’s that simple.

Defensive Line: Most of the issues are on offense, but the defense could quickly deteriorate again if the Giants are not careful. After two down seasons, Justin Tuck rebounded with a stronger 2013, but he is now on the wrong side of 30. How much gas is left in his tank? Mathias Kiwanuka did not play as well as expected in 2013 and could become a salary-cap casualty. Damontre Moore flashed on special teams, but not at defensive end. And that brings us to Jason Pierre-Paul, who was one of the very best players in the game in 2011, but who has largely vanished since then. How much of a concern is his back? Should he have surgery on his shoulder now, and if not, will waiting delay the inevitable and risk creating another subpar season in 2014? If Tuck and Kiwanuka depart, this team may have to address defensive end early in the draft at the expense of ignoring an equally pressing need on offense, linebacker, or defensive back.

At defensive tackle, the situation becomes much simpler if the Giants are able to re-sign 25-year old Linval Joseph, but the team may decide he is not worth the money. They made a questionable decision in a similar situation with Barry Cofield a few years ago. Cullen Jenkins and Johnathan Hankins are still very much in the picture. Will the Giants attempt/be able to re-sign Mike Patterson? One would assume Shaun Rogers, who turns 35, will be out of the picture. How good is Markus Kuhn?

Linebackers: Jon Beason will be a free agent. It sounds like he wants to be a Giant so I would expect him back unless his contract demands are unreasonable. If Perry Fewell remains the defensive coordinator, the linebacker position simply isn’t all that important in the Giants’ scheme with Fewell playing so much nickel with two linebackers. Spencer Paysinger (UFA), Jacquian Williams, and Keith Rivers (UFA) may be good enough, especially with more pressing needs elsewhere. But if Beason were to get hurt, then this position could get ugly again. Drafting and grooming a mobile MLB behind Beason would be prudent.

Defensive Backs: The Giants are in great shape at safety if… if… if they can keep the high-priced Antrel Rolle… if Stevie Brown can be re-signed… and if Will Hill stays out of trouble. Even if Brown were to leave, if the Giants re-signed Mundy, and Rolle and Hill were still in the picture, this is a team strength. Don’t forget Cooper Taylor has the tools to develop into a good one too.

The bigger potential need is at cornerback. Prince Amukamara has developed into a very solid, if unspectacular – player. But ideally, the team probably wants to upgrade the other cornerback spot. Trumaine McBride was a pleasant surprise, but he will be a free agent, and one wonders if he was really playing over his head in 2013. Terrell Thomas stayed healthy but seemed to fade down the stretch. Will he even be stronger in 2014 and will he be re-signed? Jayron Hosley and Charles James seem to have talent, but Hosley has been injury-prone. Corey Webster and Aaron Ross probably won’t be invited back.

Special Teams: Quietly, Josh Brown had a great season, kicking 21-of-23 field goals through Week 16. I hope the Giants can re-sign him. Steve Weatheford started off very rocky but finished up stronger than ever. If David Wilson is not forced to retire, the Giants should use him as kickoff returner and offensive role-player (like the Saints use Darren Sproles). This team needs to find a better punt returner. Obviously, Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn should be on the hot seat.