New York Giants 2014 NFL Draft Preview: Guards and Centers
by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56
DISCLCAIMER: I broke the OL previews in to two categories, guards/centers and tackles. This can be difficult to organize because a few of these guys have the skill set to play different positions. But keep in mind that versatility is part of their grade and I am grading these guys where I think they would best fit for NYG.
Current G/C on NYG Roster:
Geoff Schwartz – 28 – Signed through 2017
Chris Snee – 32 – Signed through 2014
John Jerry – 28 – Signed through 2014
James Brewer – 27 – Signed through 2014
Brandon Mosley – 26 – Signed through 2015
Stephen Goodin – 26 – Signed through 2014
Eric Herman – 25 – Signed through 2015
JD Walton – 27 – Signed through 2015
Dallas Reynolds – 30 – Signed through 2014
Where They Stand:
Not so long ago, the inside of the NYG offensive line was a major strength that paved the way for a powerful, reliable unit. While they lacked the superstars, their presence was often overlooked by many, even fans. Last season’s struggle on offense was largely because of poor performance inside. The signing of Schwartz and hopeful resurgence of Snee could lead to the needed confidence of the starting pair of guards. However the issue resides behind them on the depth chart and between them at the starting center spot. JD Walton has some impressive tape attached to his name and I think he could be the guy in the middle, but there needs to be a better secondary option should his injuries arise or his level of play doesn’t return. When it comes to the depth, NYG has a bunch of guys with limited upside. It would be a major gamble to go in to the season with this current group. They have enough bodies for sure, but is the quality there? I don’t think so.
Top 10 Grades:
1 – David Yankey – Stanford – 6’6/315: 79
2 – Travis Swanson – Arkansas: 6’5/312: 78
3 – Cyril Richardson – Baylor – 6’5/329: 77
4 – Trai Turner – LSU – 6’3/310: 77
5 – Xavier Su’a-Filo – UCLA – 6’4/307: 77
6 – Gabe Jackson – Mississippi State – 6’3/336: 76
7 – Conor Boffeli – Iowa – 6’4/298: 76
8 – Dakota Dozier – Furman – 6’4/313: 76
9 – Gabe Ikard – Oklahoma – 6’4/304: 75
10 – Weston Richburg – Colorado State – 6’3/298: 74
Day One Target:
David Yankey – Stanford
Before I discuss Yankey, just know that I don’t have any guards or centers with a first round grade. I would only support a selection here after a trade down in to the late 20s. But that aside, I do really like Yankey for the Giants offense. His versatility is a plus, as he played tackle and guard at a really high level. Yankey’s greatest trait is his straight and run blocking. He is a well-put-together 315 pounds with a strong base and heavy hands. He was heading towards a first round grade late in the year, but I noticed a deficiency in his pass blocking on closer examination. He struggles to keep his balance and his feet will get stagnant. Yankey may not be the day one starter that I initially thought he would be, but the high ceiling is certainly there. If he can be had, one way or another via trade, at the end of round 1, it may be worth it down the road.
Runner Up: Cyril Richardson
Day Two Target:
Travis Swanson – Arkansas
I have a much higher grade on Swanson than most. Although he graded out as a 2nd rounder, I think he could be there for the Giants 3rd pick. He is a huge body inside that moves exceptionally well at the second level against linebackers. I am most impressed by his ability to neutralize pass rushers up the middle though. That was a major problem for NYG this past year and I’m not so sure it has been solved. Swanson could make a move to guard, as he showed the movement ability necessary to do so at the Senior Bowl. If NYG wants to get bigger up front, Swanson would be the ideal center to bring in.
Runner Up: Trai Turner – LSU
Day Three Target:
Conor Boffeli – Iowa
I recently finished up my scouting of Boffeli; he almost slipped under the radar. I was really impressed with his ability to both anchor his position against bigger defensive linemen as well as move in space in a zone blocking scheme. His performance against Minnesota’s Rashede Hageman left an impression on me. He is a blue collar guy that I think would have fit in perfectly with the NYG offensive line a few years ago when it was considered one of the best in football. He is undersized and may need some extra time before he can be thrown in to the mix. That said, I would want a guy like him developing behind the starters more so than Brewer or Mosley.
Runner Up: Trey Hopkins – G – Texas (74)
Marcus Martin – C – USC (66)
I’ve seen it in a few different places that Martin is being considered the top center in this class. I didn’t see much of him during the season, but I have seen 4 games of his in the past two months. I don’t see a guy that can handle the NFL speed or power. He gets stood up way too easily and his feet are very heavy. Martin is not an impact run blocker, but merely a guy that just tries to get in the way. It worked at USC, but I think he’ll struggle to succeed that way in the league. Poor center play can be exploited really fast. I have him graded as a day three guy, round 5 or 6.
Runner Up: Jon Hilapio – Florida (52)
As I stated earlier, I don’t see a round one value with any of these guys. By no means does that mean I am down on this group though, as I see a lot of potential value throughout the draft here. NYG needs to bring in another interior guy from what I can see. I understand they are trying to develop Mosley, Brewer, and Herman but I would be fine with one of them getting the boot after training camp if a rookie comes in a shows more upside. The center position would be a main focus here if the value presents itself, as there talent there is questionable at best. If NYG wants to get back to a quality rushing attack as well as keep Manning upright for the back nine of his career, the situation inside needs to be addressed. Waiting too long could end up being a major limiting factor for this team.