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Kony Ealy, Missouri Tigers (January 3, 2014)

Kony Ealy – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2014 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Ends

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*DISCLAIMER: These are Defensive End grades/rankings for the NYG 4-3 scheme. Barr and Mack are NOT included, as I have put them in my LB preview.

Current Defensive Ends on NYG Roster:

Jason Pierre-Paul – 25 – Signed through 2015

Mathias Kiwanuka – 31 – Signed through 2015

Damontre Moore – 21 – Signed through 2016

Robert Ayers – 29 – Signed through 2015

Kendrick Adams – 26 – Signed through 2015

Where They Stand:

Long gone are the days of NYG defensive ends wrecking havoc on opposing offenses week in, week out. 2013 was a rough year for this group and their leading sack artist (Justin Tuck) is no longer a part of it. The five players listed above combined for 11.5 sacks last season (Adams did not play in any games) and they are going to be counted on to all reverse their production in the right direction. Pierre-Paul may get a little pass because of his back injury that certainly lingered and prohibited him from ever playing at 100%. His talent and upside are still up there. Kiwanuka and Ayers are reliable veterans that play a physical style, but won’t scare anyone off the edge. They don’t have the explosion and neither will demand double teams. Moore could be the wildcard here. His combination of youth and tools will get him the chance to make consistent contributions to this defense. Can he handle the physical side of the game well enough? We’ll find out. He could be the guy that makes this group as a whole much better. These five guys can get the job done but as I said earlier, they are nowhere near the echelon of domination NYG fans were watching just a few years ago.

Top 10 Grades:

1 – JaDeveon Clowney – South Carolina – 6’5/266: 93

2 – Kony Ealy – Missouri – 6’4/273: 80

3 – Aaron Lynch – South Florida – 6’5/249: 76

4 – Will Clarke – West Virginia – 6’6/271: 76

5 – Marcus Smith – Louisville – 6’3/251: 76

6 – Jeremiah Attaochu – Georgia Tech – 6’5/252: 75

7 – Trent Murphy – Stanford – 6’5/250: 74

8 – Adrian Hubbard – Alabama – 6’6/257: 74

9 – Dee Ford – Auburn – 6’2/252: 70

10 – Kareem Martin – North Carolina – 6’6/272: 70

Day One Target:

JaDeveon Clowney – South Carolina

I don’t think there is any DE worthy of taking in round one other than Clowney, although I understand this is completely unrealistic, I didn’t want to leave this blank. Clowney is one of a few prospects that I would make an aggressive trade up for. However the price for NYG to move up in to the top 5, let alone top 3, will likely be astronomical and likely counterproductive. That said, if he somehow slips to the 6-8 area, I would make an aggressive move up for him. He is a once-in-a-generation type talent that could be one of the top defenders in the NFL within two years. NYG could really use a guy like this but I am fully aware the chances of this happening are almost zero.

Runner Up: Kony Ealy – Missouri

Ealy is a borderline first rounder on my board and even that may be a bit high. His grade is based purely on upside because of his size and movement ability. He looked raw in a lot of games I saw. Just unaware of the action around him and showed inability to get off blocks effectively. He is a top-notch kid though with some tools to work with and he plays really hard. I think he can mold himself in to a fine player.

Day Two Target:

Will Clarke – West Virginia

Clarke comes from a different kind of scheme but I think he is a guy that moves well enough to play DE in this scheme. He doesn’t have the elite burst but he does have short area quickness and he plays a physical brand. Clarke consistently showed the ability to get off blocks and make plays. His size appears to be NFL ready and I think he gives NYG a better version of what they have in Kiwanuka right away. If he can be had in the third round, you are talking about a big time value grab.

Runner Up: Marcus Smith – Louisville

I have a higher grade on Smith than most do. His lack of height and length hurt his grade a bit, but this versatile pass rusher plays fast and strong. He is a tough guy to block because of his relentless pursuit and incredibly strong and balanced lower half. I think he’ll prove to be a consistent 7-9 sack per year guy that also defends the run.

Day Three Target:

Aaron Lynch – South Florida

Lynch may be one of the most polarizing prospects in this entire class. Talent wise, he may be the number two guy in this class. He can make some impressive plays in a variety of ways, using his short area burst and length to gain an advantage over the blocker. When he plays hard and focused, he can change a game by himself. Not many defensive ends can say that in college. His issues off the field downgraded him quite a bit, but his potential is too high to pass on throughout day three. He is a year or two away from playing with dominant ability in the league much like Greg Hardy from the Panthers.

Runner Up: Adrian Hubbard – Alabama

Hubbard played a hybrid rush linebacker role but I have always seen him as a potential DE in a traditional 4-3 scheme. He can explode off the edge and play a low, strong game using his length and power to keep blockers from locking on to him. He could take an extra year or two to get acclimated to the position, but that’s ok for NYG. They have enough on depth chart to allow a player to develop properly.

Most Overrated:

Scott Crichton – Oregon State (63)

I’ve watched and re-watched a few Oregon State games and I still don’t see what there is to like about Crichton. He plays hard but he doesn’t make the impact I want out of a DE. He can’t get off the good blockers and he won’t burst by anybody. Crichton is an average player across the board that you can find in the later rounds, if not undrafted free agency. By no means do I think he should be a day 2 pick.

Runner Up: Kareem Martin

The height, length and workout numbers have led some to believe that Martin is the perfect prospect for a team looking for a 4-3 DE. But when you really watch him, you see a guy that struggles to read the action and react. He is a slower mover on the field than you think and he won’t push anyone around. Martin really struggles to make a physical impact on the game and I think he’s a guy that will be doomed for permanent backup duty. Don’t spend a day two pick on that.

NYG Approach:

One look at the current depth chart and one could make the statement that bringing in a new DE to the group is not high on the priority list. I can understand that opinion but lets not forget just how valuable the abundance of pass rushing talent is for a team. That was such a major factor in the Giants past two Super Bowls. This DE class as a whole doesn’t impress me at all outside of the Clowney. A lot of these guys have a lot of potential bust factor to them. Some have glaring size issues and others simply don’t have the speed and/or quick movement ability. With that said, there will be some opportunity to bring in a guy between rounds 3-5 that present good enough value. Defensive End is NOT a position where you want to be thin on the depth chart. It can end up breaking a defense. Without a sense of urgency, NYG can be patient here but somewhere in the draft I think one of these guys should be brought in.

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