Apr 302015
 


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With the ninth pick in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the New York Giants select offensive tackle Ereck Flowers from the University of Miami.

SCOUTING REPORT: A junior entry, Flowers is very young and just turned 21 in April. At 6’6”, 329 pounds, Flowers is a massive player with outstanding strength. Flowers played both left and right tackle at Miami and the Giants feel he has the athleticism to play either tackle spot at the pro level. Flowers is a very powerful, physical, violent run blocker who plays with a mean, nasty streak. He can muscle and maul defenders and is able to effectively engage defenders at the second level. Flowers has the feet, agility, and overall athleticism to become a very good pass protector, but he needs technique work in that area. He also needs to do a better job of recognizing blitzes and stunts.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE: (Video) (Giants.com Interview)

Opening Statement: Ereck Flowers – Offensive Tackle, University of Miami. Highest guy on the board. A lot of things to like about him. Obviously he’s a gigantic human being. Really long arms. He was the strongest guy at the combine. Arms … I think his arms were 34 ½ inches. He can play left or right tackle. That’s up to Coach Coughlin where he plays, but we think he can be a long time tackle for the New York Giants. Any questions about him?

Q: What about him as opposed to some of the other offensive linemen?

A: There were some good offensive linemen up there, but he was the highest guy on our board where we picked him. We think it’s all upside with him. A couple of days ago, I think he just turned 21. So those are things that we like. He’s young, powerful, big, tough, he’s got a nasty streak. All of those things we like about him.

Q: Is he polished enough to step in?

A: All college players have to learn the speed of the game when they get up here and play against these defensive linemen and these defensive schemes in this league, but obviously he’ll have to catch up to the speed of the National Football League. But he’s played at a high level of competition and we think he’ll catch up pretty quickly.

Q: Can you see him playing guard or do you see him strictly playing tackle?

A: I think he can play anywhere. I think he can play guard. I think he’s naturally a tackle, but I think he can play guard.

Q: How would you rate his run blocking versus pass protection?

A: If I had to rate one versus the other, I think he’s good at both. I think if I had to grade one over the other, I think he’s probably a better pass blocker. He’s very productive as a pass blocker, but I think he’s a very good run blocker as well.

Q: Was he your guy all along or when Washington took (Brandon) Scherff, did that change any plans?

A: We liked both of those guys. I can tell you that. We liked both of them and we thought they would both be terrific players.

Q: Do you project him as a possible left tackle?

A: Yeah, you would think so. You would think he can play left tackle. He could play right tackle. We project him as a really good football player, first, and where he ends up, that’s up to our coaches.

Q: Was this a pretty good marriage in terms of the needs of the team?

A: We always talk about we’re going to take the best player, but we’re always cognizant of what our need is as well and we think this is a good need and a value pick for us. We think this can help solidify the offensive line, so hopefully this will settle the offensive line down and we don’t have to keep talking about the offensive line as much.

Q: Did you go check him out personally at his pro day? What did you see when you were down there?

A: I did go to the pro day and I saw a big guy. There were 32 teams there and probably 10-12 offensive line coaches, and they put him through a lot of drills. It was hot down there and he stayed out there and he went through every drill and never complained a bit. He did an outstanding job down there.

Q: When did you first get wind of him?

A: Our scouts. Our scouts do the work. They liked him and obviously Mark Ross liked him. Our coaches did work. Pat Flaherty was down there at the pro day. We liked him at the combine and we interviewed him at the combine. We brought him in here for one of our visits, so we’ve done a lot of work on him and we’re really happy to have a player of his caliber.

Q: Has it been a little frustrating for some draft picks to not have panned out?

A: You’re always trying to fix some problems you have on your team, and offensive line has been an issue for a couple of years and we’re trying to finally solidify the offensive line, and I feel like we’ve got some strong caliber players in the offensive line and we just need them to stay healthy and gel together and play well.

Q: How does his nasty streak manifest itself?

A: He’s just a big, tough guy. That’s one of the things when you talk to the coaches down there, it’s like this guy doesn’t take any crap from anybody. We like that and you can see that in his play. He likes to finish guys off and that kind of fits the offensive profile that we like. We like some big, tough guys with a little bit of a nasty streak.

Q: Did you ever consider trading up or down at any point?

A: I won’t talk about that.

Q: Was there any feeling to move up when Leonard Williams was dropping?

A: I won’t talk about that.

MEDIA Q&A WITH VICE PRESIDENT OF PLAYER EVALUATION MARC ROSS: (Video) (Giants.com Interview)

Q: What do you think about Ereck Flowers?

A: Ereck is, as you have probably heard, a physical, nasty, tough football player and you just don’t see that too often anymore in college football. He is a man-child physically. He is gigantic. He has long arms. He just turned 21 on Saturday. Super productive against the highest level of competition there, the Florida States and the Nebraskas. He is a good player who is just scratching the surface of how good he can be.

Q: Where do you see him position-wise?

A: Tackle, for sure. He can play [either side]. He has done that. He played right tackle as a freshman. He played left tackle the last two years, so wherever the coaches want to play him and feel most comfortable right now, but I feel he can do either tackle spot.

Q: Do you see that his weakness is with his techniques?

A: You read that stuff. The guy is 20. They all have technique flaws. Nobody is ready-made to play in the NFL. Even fourth- or fifth-year seniors. They all can improve. He is just learning to play, but even with technique flaws, the guy was a productive and dominant player at times.

Q: Do you have the belief that this pick could quiet the concern about the offensive line, as Jerry Reese expressed?

A: I feel strongly that we drafted a really good football player. Whether it is solving the problems or doing any of that, I don’t know. We were just super excited to get a really good football player.

Q: Is he the type of guy that is a good pass-blocker, as well as a run-blocker?

A: He has done that [at Miami]. He played left tackle. He’s nasty in the run game, but his length and his feet as a pass protector – he did that well, as well. He did both really well. We expect him to be a complete tackle who will excel as a punishing run-blocker and a nifty pass-blocker.

Q: Did you see that [Brandon Scherff] may be more polished, but [Flowers] has a higher ceiling?

A: Again, Scherff was a fifth-year senior. This guy is a 20-year-old, third-year junior. Scherff was a 22 or 23-year old fifth-year senior, so of course he has been around. He has played more and been around it more. He was slightly better with technique and playing, but there wasn’t that much of a major difference.

Q: How does he balance being quiet but having a nasty streak?

A: When we went down to Miami and talked to all the coaches and stuff and when we had him in here for a visit – we went down there and had dinner with him and spent some time with him. He is quiet. He is very quiet, but he is a smart quiet. He is all about football. He is a gym rat. They tell you at [Miami] that he just hangs around the facility. He works out all the time. He is real tight with his dad and they work out together. He will come back to the facility and work out some more. He doesn’t go out and hang out. He doesn’t party. You would think down in Miami and South Beach that he would be out, but he is one of the exceptions down there. He doesn’t go out. He just wants to play football. He doesn’t want to talk about it, he just wants to be about the action, as Marshawn Lynch said.

Q: Do you see him as a guy who could give Will Beatty a run for his money also?

A: We’ll see. A franchise left tackle is a rare commodity. There are not many of those guys around the league and we think this guy has the ability, the upside, the potential, the toughness, the smarts and the competitiveness to be a franchise left tackle for us.

Q: When you showed up at the office tonight did you have offensive lineman as your top priority?

A: We stack our players on the board and this guy was the best guy that we had up there. This was a really good year for offensive linemen. Of course, we discussed it and talk about it in our meetings. He was the highest guy on our board, so we took him.

Q: Was he the highest guy on the board at his position?

A: At the time we picked him, he was the highest guy up on our board.

Q: Did this first round pick play out as expected for you?

A: We thought there was a chance [Scherff] would go before us, maybe a pick or two, but not where he went. We felt really strongly going into it that he would go ahead of us. Just because he had a lot of momentum building up to this day. We go through a lot of scenarios before the draft and we talk about every possible scenario. Things that are just ridiculous that we talk about. What if [Marcus] Mariota, [Amari] Cooper and [Jameis] Winston are all there when we are picking? What do we do then? We talk about everything. We are not ever surprised. The draft is always something – a curveball gets thrown in there, but we always talk about every scenario possible, so we are not surprised when we are up on the clock.

Q: Did you see this as the most likely scenario the way it played out?

A: Pretty much. We felt good about this one.

Q: Is the expectation for [Flowers] to come in and hit the ground running?

A: Yes, sure, because of the intangibles. Last year we weren’t specifically looking for captains. Those guys just happened to be captains, but we were looking for clean football players. This guy is a clean player. He fits the mold of that crew last year because they say he is the hardest working guy on the team. They say he is a gym rat. They say he is the nastiest guy and you don’t want to mess with him because he is all about football and his love for the game. He is going to will himself to get on the field right way.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN: (Video) (Giants.com Interview)

Opening Statement: We are excited about Ereck Flowers. We had Jerry Reese, Pat Flaherty and Marc Ross – all of those gentlemen were at [Flowers’] workout in Miami. The kid is an outstanding athlete. He is very young, as you know. He is a battleship, an aircraft carrier or however you want to describe him at six-foot-six, 329 [pounds]. Strongest guy in the draft. Outstanding feet. [He] just turned 21 a couple of days ago here in mid- to late-April. Those things, together with the desire to improve both our offensive and our defensive lines, to be honest with you, we think we have made a good start here. You sit there and people start coming off the board and then the guy in front of you is a very prolonged amount of time and you are wondering if in fact…we had heard St. Louis would like an offensive lineman as well. Were they coming above? That was a factor, obviously. We are very excited about this young man and looking forward getting him in here and getting to work.

Q: Have you had a chance to talk to him?

A: I did.

Q: How did that conversation go?

A: Very well, thank you. He is very excited. Did you see that picture of him slapping hands? I thought he was going to kill somebody.

Q: Is he a right tackle or a left tackle?

A: He can be either side. He [was] a left tackle last year, but he has the size and so on and so forth to play a lot of spots if you so desire. We think he is a tackle.

Q: Do you expect him to come in and compete for a starting spot?

A: Absolutely.

Q: Do you view Justin Pugh as a potential person to move inside?

A: We are talking about Ereck Flowers, and I am not going to comment on that until I have the opportunity to talk to our coaches about exactly how we are going to go about starting this.

Q: Would you say he is more ahead as a run-blocker or more of a pass-blocker?

A: He is both. He is athletic. He has good feet. He is big and strong and powerful. As I said, [he was] the strongest guy at the Combine. He can do both.

Q: Was offensive line the particular focus for you?

A: Yeah, but you know how the Giants operate – the best player on the board is going to get the majority of the consideration, and that was the case right here.

Q: Did it work out well in where he fell and your board ratings?

A: Absolutely.

Q: What have you seen from [Flowers] in regard to his nasty streak?

A: You see him on film. You see him at the second level trying to finish people off. Arriving in a bad humor at a pile. You see all that stuff.

Q: Do you feel like Pugh, Weston Richburg and Flowers are the nucleus of the offensive line going forward?

A: He is an addition to the players that we have here. We are excited about that. We do have some veteran players here as well. Hopefully the best will rise to the surface.

Q: What do you know about him as a person?

A: I can read and I have read page after page after page of interviews and summaries and evaluations and so on and so forth. Everything we hear – he is very, very close with his dad. His dad is with him all the time. At his workout, his dad was there. I think that is a very strong relationship and I think that points to a very solid young man. Maybe a little bit on the quiet side, but he is young. He is a guy that is always in the weight room, always hanging around, even as they practiced down there this spring, from what I understand.

Q: Do you see [Flowers] as competition for left tackle?

A: It is competition up front, period. It will be that. The better the competition, the better the results.

Q: Was this your first choice of a position in the first round?

A: That was one of, yes.

Q: Did [Brandon Scherff] going to Washington surprise you?

A: Well, there is always the chance. He [is] a very, very solid football player who is well thought of throughout the league. Ranked very highly by everyone. For him to go there is not a shock.

MEDIA Q&A WITH ERECK FLOWERS: (Giants.com Interview)

Q: How surprised were you that the Giants ended up picking you?

A: I was really surprised. I saw the phone light up and it was surreal.

Q: It seemed that the Giants did an extensive amount of research on you. You had to have known they were interested in you.

A: I took a visit. I saw the coaches and we had dinner.

Q: What did you think about that visit?

A: It was great. I got to sit down with Coach Flats (Flaherty) and the offensive line coaches. Jessie Armstead went to Miami, so there was a connection there. I think it was a pretty good vibe.

Q: Did you have any inclination that the Giants would be a landing spot?

A: I thought it could be a possibility, but in drafts you never really know. I was sitting here just waiting on the call.

Q: You’re close with your dad. What’s his first name and did he play football?

A: Everald Flowers. He played football at Washburn University. He played linebacker.

Q: Is your father serving as your agent?

A: We have a lawyer to do the contract, but he’s the one who has been representing me.

Q: A lot of the coaches have said you’re a quiet guy with a mean streak.

A: I like to really get into the game, and I really play with a lot of passion. I love the game of football.

Q: Could you give us a scouting report on what you think of yourself as a player and what you still think you might want to work on in the NFL?

A: I think I’m a player who needs to work on everything. I think I’ve got a long ways to go and I’m ready to go that way. I love everything about football, so I’m pretty happy about the confidence in myself. I’m just ready to take this next step.

Q: What do you believe you do so well that made you a high number one draft pick?

A: I think I’m a pretty good run-blocker. I think I show a good amount of athleticism. I think I’m a pretty good reach-blocker, but other than that, I think I can improve in everything, including the things that I would say I do pretty well at. I’m ready to make those improvements.

Q: Who have you styled your play on the field after?

A: My favorite player coming in was Trent Williams.

Q: You’re a pretty young guy. Do you think you can come in and play right away?

A: I do. I feel I can.

Q: What makes you think your game translates to the next level well?

A: I have a lot of confidence in myself and whatever I do or I wouldn’t be playing this sport at all or doing any of the stuff I do. It’s really just the confidence in myself and what I see in myself. I can’t really sit here and persuade you, but I’m confident in myself and what I do.

Q: Do you think of yourself as a left tackle in the NFL?

A: I see myself anywhere on the line. I’m ready to come in anywhere on the line to make a contribution. Whatever helps the team win.

Q: Have you ever played guard?

A: I’ve played it in practice. My team never really needed me to play guard. I played both tackles, so I’m ready to play wherever.

Apr 292015
 


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Stevie Brown Agrees to Terms With Houston Texans: According to the NFL Network, unrestricted free agent safety Stevie Brown (New York Giants) has agreed to terms with the Houston Texans. NJ.com is reporting the contract is a 1-year deal. The Giants were believed to be interested in re-signing Brown, but not at the price tag that Brown was looking for.

Brown played in all 16 games for the Giants last season. He started the first three games of the season, lost his starting job for eight weeks, then regained it for the last five weeks of the season. Brown finished with 38 tackles, one sack, and one pass defense.

Brown was originally drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the 7th round of the 2010 NFL Draft. The Raiders released him in September 2011 and he then spent time with the Panthers and Colts. The Giants signed him in April 2012. Brown had a tremendous season in 2012, intercepting more passes in a single season by a Giant in 44 years. He was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2013 after tearing the ACL in his left knee in the preseason.

Brown is the sixth unrestricted free agent to leave the Giants this offseason, joining linebacker Spencer Paysiner (Dolphins), tackle James Brewer (Jets), safety Antrel Rolle (Bears), cornerback Walter Thurmond (Eagles), and cornerback Zack Bowman (Dolphins).

For a complete listing of the Giants’ free agent activity, see the 2015 Free Agency Scorecard section of the website.

Giants Place Troy Kropog on PUP List: The New York Giants have placed offensive lineman Troy Kropog on the Reserve/Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List. Kropog was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2014 with a foot injury that he suffered in training camp.

While on the PUP, Kropog will not count against the offseason 90-man roster limit.

Kropog was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. The Titans waived him in September 2012 and he then spent time with the Jaguars (2012), Vikings (2012-13) and Redskins (2013). The Giants signed Kropog to a reserve/future contract in January 2014.

Articles on the Giants and the 2015 NFL Draft:

Apr 292015
 


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Giants Talking to Browns About Trading Down in Draft?: According to BleacherReport.com, the New York Giants have had initial discussions with the Cleveland Browns about the Giants trading down from the #9 spot in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. The Browns have two selections in the first round at #12 and #19. The Browns are supposedly interested in trading up for University of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota if he slips in the draft.

Giants Targeting Offensive Tackle Andrus Peat?: According to DraftInsider.net, the New York Giants are targeting Stanford University offensive tackle Andrus Peat in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. DraftInsider writes: “League insiders tell me right now it looks as though the first round selection for the New York Giants will be Andrus Peat of Stanford. The game plan would be to line up Peat at right tackle then push 2013 first round pick Justin Pugh into guard.”

Articles on the New York Giants Safety Position:

Articles on the New York Giants and the 2015 NFL Draft:

Article on Giants Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Chris Mara: Giants Exec’s Kentucky Derby-draft dream day of chaos by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Apr 272015
 


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New York Giants Waive Running Back Michael Cox: The New York Giants have waived running back Michael Cox.

Cox was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. In 2013, he played in 14 games as a rookie with one start, carrying the football 22 times for 43 yards (2.0 yards per carry) and catching three passes for 12 yards. Most of his work came on special teams where he returned 20 kickoffs for a 21.8 yards-per-return average.

In 2014, Cox was on the Practice Squad of the team until October, played in four games, and was then placed on Injured Reserve in November 2014 with a fractured lower leg. He finished 2013 with four carries, two catches, and 11 kickoff returns.

The Giants now are currently carrying five halfbacks on the roster, including Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams, Shane Vereen, Orleans Darkwa, and Chris Ogbonnaya.

Because of this move, we have updated the Transactions, Roster, and Depth Chart sections of the website.

Articles on QB Eli Manning:

Article on QB Eli Manning and WR Victor Cruz: Eli Manning hopeful Victor Cruz will be able to return by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on WR/Returner Dwayne Harris: What the Giants saw in Dwayne Harris by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Article on the New York Giants and the 2015 NFL Draft: Giants look for attitude in linemen, not necessarily finesse or beef by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on Former New York Giants OG Chris Snee: Chris Snee helps Giants evaluate offensive linemen by Tom Rock of Newsday

Apr 272015
 
Eli Manning, New York Giants (December 8, 2013)

El Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Needs

Teams that draft primarily for need usually are poor drafting teams. Just because you take a player at a certain position, that doesn’t mean you’ve “fixed” the position. Look at the 2011 NFL Draft. Did the Giants “fix” their needs at defensive tackle with Marvin Austin, wide receiver with Jerrel Jernigan, offensive tackle with James Brewer, or linebacker with Greg Jones? Force a pick and you’ll be drafting at that same position in a year or two again trying to replace the bum you over-drafted.

Also, one position that looks settled on paper at one moment can become a critical mess a year later. Look at the safety position for the Giants between now and this time last year. In April 2014, the Giants looked deep and talented at safety with Antrel Rolle coming of his best season, a rising star in Will Hill, the anticipated return of Stevie Brown, and the acquisition of Quintin Demps from the Chiefs. One-fourth to one-third of NFL rosters turn over each year now. How many Giants are left from the 2011 Championship team?

So keep in mind that this “needs” article does not suggest that the Giants should use their early picks at the most critical need positions. In fact, almost every position for every team is a “need” position. Teams can always get stronger and there is simply too much attrition in the NFL.

The Giants will only have eight picks in the NFL draft, with three of these picks coming in the top 100 players. At best, the Giants probably can get one or two immediate starters out of this draft unless they are extremely fortunate.

How do the Giants get better? By getting better football players across the board. One thing is clear: the New York Football Giants need to become a tougher, stronger, more physical, and more talented team in the trenches on both sides of the ball. The 2014 Giants couldn’t stop the run or run the football. They usually got their asses whooped up front.

Offensive Line

The Giants are expecting (and hoping) that four-fifths of the starting offensive line is set with Will Beatty at left tackle, Weston Richburg at center, Justin Pugh at right tackle or one of the guard spots, and Geoff Schwartz at the other guard spot. If the season were to start today, John Jerry would probably start at right guard and Schwartz at left guard. That’s not ideal. Moreover, is someone gets hurt, there isn’t a lot of depth with the journeyman Marshall Newhouse being the next best option on the roster. So the Giants could use at least two new offensive linemen, one talented enough to possibly start as a rookie and another developmental prospect who can provide better depth. God help the team if they are wrong about Pugh, Richburg, Schwartz, or Beatty.

Defensive Line

Johnathan Hankins is a stud. Jason Pierre-Paul is one of the best defensive ends in the game. JPP could be a free agent again next offseason, but the Giants could Franchise him again. The questions are at the other two starting spots. Much depends on how the Giants truly feel about Jay Bromley at defensive tackle and Damontre Moore at defensive end. If Bromley develops, I actually think the Giants are in good shape at tackle with Hankins, Cullen Jenkins, Kenrick Ellis, and Bromley. The bigger concern is at end. Today’s NFL defense is all about the pass rush.

Based on 2014, on paper, it looks like the Giants have one two-way player in JPP and then a bunch of situational guys in Moore (end pass rusher), Robert Ayers (end/tackle pass rusher), Kerry Wynn (run defender), and George Selvie (run defender). And linebacker Devon Kennard will likely be sent after the quarterback quite a bit by Steve Spagnuolo. At their best, the Giants had full-time players Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, and Justin Tuck coming off of the edges. Unless Moore develops into a much better run defender and consistent pass rusher, the Giants need another top tier guy to complement JPP. However, if they Giants think they have that already in Moore, then the defensive line may be more settled than we realize. But given Moore’s slight frame, I think the team would have to move JPP to left end and start Moore at right end.

Defensive Backs

On paper, the most critical need is clearly at safety. The reason I have OL and DL listed first is I don’t think you can scheme around bad players up front. You can scheme a bit in the secondary. If the season were to start today, the starters at safety would be unproven Nat Berhe and Cooper Taylor. The good news is both have talent. But it remains to be seen if Berhe has the athletic ability/range to excel in coverage at the NFL level and if Taylor can stay healthy. The Giants will most likely add a journeyman veteran at some point, but they really need to add another safety or safety/corner ‘tweener from the draft. The bad news is this isn’t a very good year to draft safeties. Keep in mind that the Giants could also move Bennett Jackson, Chykie Brown, and/or Josh Gordy to safety.

Corner is more unsettled than many realize. If Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara stay healthy (an issue for both last year), then the Giants have one of the stronger set of starting corners in the NFL. But Amukamara has been injury prone and he will be be an unrestricted free agent in 2016. In addition, with Walter Thurmond leaving for Philadelphia in free agency, depth is an issue. Trumaine McBride is now the leading nickel back (a de facto starter) and top reserve corner. After him, you are looking at castoffs Mike Harris, Chykie Brown, and Chandler Fenner. I’d be pretty shocked if the Giants didn’t draft one corner and I won’t be surprised if they take one with one of their first three picks.

Wide Receiver

Yes, wide receiver. Call me a pessimist but I think it is extremely unlikely that Victor Cruz will be anywhere near 100 percent in 2015. Call me an alarmist, but it is also possible that he never really regains his old quickness/explosiveness. Given Cruz’s huge cap number, the team could be forced to consider parting ways with Cruz in a year or two. Right now, the only sure thing the Giants have is Odell Beckham. We’ve seen what Eli Manning can do if you give him three serious pass receiving threads (Plaxico Burress-Amani Toomer-Steve Smith in 2007 and Victor Cruz-Hakeem Nicks-Mario Manningham in 2011). Cruz is a major question mark. So is the wildly inconsistent (and twice benched for violating team policies) Rueben Randle. This is a very deep draft at wide receiver. And personally, I don’t pass on Amari Cooper or Kevin White if one of them manage to fall to #9.

Tight End

I think Larry Donnell has a very bright future in the NFL. He’s well on his way to becoming a serious pass-receiving threat, jumping from a nobody to ninth in the NFL in tight end catches in one year. If he can improve as a blocker, the Giants have a good starter. Daniel Fells is an average player but the Giants can win with him as a back-up. The enigma is Adrien Robinson. The team has a lot of time invested in him, but time is running out and he looks replaceable. Keep an eye on practice squader Jerome Cunningham – he has a lot of physical talent.

Linebacker

The Giants could be in decent shape here if three things happen: (1) Devon Kennard continues his ascent, (2) Jon Beason stays healthy, and (3) either J.T. Thomas or Jonathan Casillas can adequately man the other outside spot. The riskiest assumption is that the fragile Beason will stay healthy, but if he does, the Giants could be in business finally at linebacker. Jameel McClain is still in the picture too. It will be interesting to see who starts and where. But regardless the Giants could use some homegrown talent for insurance and eventual replacements for some of these guys in a year or two.

Summary

So in a nutshell, I see the team’s top needs being offensive line (either a starting tackle or guard), defensive end (unless the team is sold on Moore), safety, cornerback, and wide receiver. I think there are lesser needs at tight end and linebacker. And unless the quality is there (best player available), I don’t see the team drafting a running back, fullback, or quarterback high or at all. Defensive tackle is a wild card. Much depends on how the team views Ellis and Bromley, but I’m more optimistic there.

I will say this, if some things break the Giants way (Moore and Bromley on the defensive line; Pugh, Beatty, Richburg, and Schwartz on the offensive line; Beason at linebacker; and Cruz at wide receiver), the Giants are not bad shape. If 4/5ths of the line is truly set and Cruz is back, then the offense is mostly set minus one more stud on the OL. If Beason stays healthy, the linebackers are fine. And if Moore and Kennard can terrorize QBs off the edge opposite JPP, then the pass rush will be improved. In such an optimistic scenario, the draft would could focus on getting that tackle or guard in round one and finding help for a shallow secondary.

Apr 242015
 
Landon Collins, Alabama Crimson Tide (January 1, 2015)

Landon Collins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Safeties

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*Below are my published, abbreviated reports via Ourlads Scouting Services, LLC

**A note about Pro Upside Comparisons: These are comparisons that are based on the player reaching his ceiling. It does not necessarily mean I believe the player will “be as good as”.

CURRENT SAFETIES on NYG ROSTER

Nat Berhe – 24 Years old – Signed through 2017

Cooper Taylor – 25 Years old – Signed through 2016

Thomas Gordon – 24 Years old – Signed through 2016

Josh Gordy – 28 Yeas old – Signed through 2015

WHERE THEY STAND

NYG lacks both quantity and quality at the safety position and I think it’s the weakest position on the team’s depth chart. It’s been a pair that has lacked stability for years when considering both positions. Antrel Rolle fulfilled his FA contract from a few years ago but the team opted to let him walk in free agency which resulted in him signing with Chicago. There were reports that NYG went after Devin McCourty but ultimately failed to entice him to leave New England. The Giants are now left with young and unestablished safeties that even the optimist should be worried about. The scouts were high on Berhe at this time last year, saying he could play the versatile safety role that will bring him in the box to defend the run as well as match up with receivers in man coverage. Taylor hasn’t been healthy and he has the look of a special teamer, not a starting defender. Gordon and Gordy are training camp bodies at best. If NYG does make another move in the FA period, expect it to be safety. Stevie Brown is still out there.

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – Landon Collins – Alabama – 6’0/228 – 83

Upside Pro Comparison: Antrel Rolle/CHI

Strong Points: Versatile back end defender. Instinctual mover, consistently in the right position pre and post snap. Anticipates the action and reacts fast. Explosive downhill tackler that closes a 10 yard gap as fast as anyone. Has a strong power presence, built thick and plays thick. Sound tackler in space, will wrap up and hit with force. Soft hands, good ball skills. Shows the coordination and timing to get his hands on the ball while on the move. Explosive blitzer off the edge, times it well and can find his way through traffic. Has strong steps, a lot of balance and body control. Consistently shows the ability to recover and catch the man he his chasing in coverage. Rangy run defender that can reach either sideline with ease.

Weak Points: Seems a step behind as a coverage safety. Struggles to play the centerfielder role, may not have the deep range to play a deep half. Moves heavy in man coverage. Shows stiffness and may play too bulky. Inconsistent footwork and mechanics, depends on his athleticism too much.

Summary: Junior entry Defensive back that has played a few roles at Alabama, including free and strong safety, cornerback, and gunner on special teams. At his best when moving near the line of scrimmage and defending the run and underneath passing game. He is a reliable tackler in traffic and in the open field, and has shown the ability to anticipate throwing lanes and routes as a pass defender. He played the 2014 season at over 220 pounds and it may have slowed him down a bit and made him a heavy read and react cover man. He may need to quicken his reaction and hips if he wants to meet his sky high potential.

*There has been a healthy debate going back and forth regarding just how good the best safety in this class really is. Is he overrated as a result of such a poor overall group? Or is Collins a legit 1st round prospect that could be considered in the top 10? I think Collins is closer to a top 10 guy than he is a 2nd rounder, I’ll say that much. He is versatile to play any role you want a safety to fulfill. He is probably the best tackler among all the DBs and he’s shown he can run with the speed of the SEC. Collins lacks superstar production and superstar athletic ability, thus there are several people that rightfully downgrade him to an average prospect. I think Collins is a player. He does all the little things and he has shown on multiple occasions that he does have the upper tier coverage ability and ball skills. Day 1 starter that could be considered at #9 overall.

2 – Eric Rowe – Utah – 6’1/205 – 79

Upside Pro Comparison: Malcolm Jenkins/PHI

Strong Points: Versatile tools and skills for a defensive back with experience at safety and cornerback. Physical approach with consistent aggression, always competing. Anticipates and reacts well. Will reach his top speed with acceleration and explosion. Has long strides in space, can run with speed downfield. Will make quick adjustments. Can locate the ball and adjust his bodyweight. Good body control. Will make the tough tackle in space, uses his length and physical nature, wraps up well. Disciplined and smart.

Weak Points: Better off in zone coverage. Doesn’t have the effectiveness as a man defender as he does in zone. Struggles to make the quick 180 degree turns. Hips can lock up on him from time to time. Won’t deliver a violent blow as a tackler. Questionable lateral range in deep coverage.

Summary: Fourth year senior that started 45 games over his career. Played safety for three seasons and moved to cornerback in 2014. Rowe will be viewed as a cornerback for some teams and safety for others. His tool set can be used in both roles effectively. He has great triangle numbers (height/weight/speed) in addition to a developed skill set for either position. He is physical, quick-twitched, and smart. Rowe showed the ability to make plays on the ball and will consistently compete. For teams that want a cover-based safety, Rowe could be a high pick. He also brings Tampa-2 cornerback ability and showed production on special teams.

*Depending on who you ask and what defensive scheme you run, Rowe can be viewed as a CB or a S. I think with NYG he could play both but there is a brighter future and greater need at S. Rowe is physical enough to handle the enforcer/run support roles but to have a guy with this kind of speed and fluidity in his hips playing behind the defense would be a welcomed addition in round 2. Rowe is one of my favorite day 2 prospects for NYG.

3 – Chris Hackett – TCU – 6’0/195 – 76

Upside Pro Comparison: Glover Quin/DET

Strong Points: Quick and light feet with easy, smooth hips. Great body control, rarely looks off balance. Anticipates and reacts well. Has the suddenness in coverage to easily change direction. Explosive out of his breaks, can close a short gap in a blink. Reliable hands in traffic. Can adjust his body on the move and bring the ball in like a receiver. Understands angles and is aware of his speed in relation to his positioning on the field. Good range in deep coverage. Outperforms his speed because of his agile lower half and ability to diagnose and react. Makes the effort as a tackler, will wrap up and stick to the ball carriers. Reliable as a tackler in space. Confident and aggressive.

Weak Points: Lean frame that plays weak when it comes to presence as a tackler. Won’t deliver a big blow to the ball carrier. Won’t factor as physical defender within the box. Lacks the top end speed in deep space. Will struggle to recover and chase from behind.

Summary: Junior entry and three year starter. Hackett leaves TCU with 12 career interceptions and among the team’s leader in tackles over the past three years. He is a space-friendly athlete with such an easy moving lower half and great body control. He has proven to be a playmaker, showing the ability to create turnovers in coverage and as a tackler. He is a quick thinking, savvy defender. He lacks the physical presence as a tackler, thus may not be anything more than a deep coverage defensive back. The coverage ability and versatility in zone and man roles are always in demand, however. Hackett has starter potential if he can prove he has enough speed.

*The combine workouts were rough for Hackett but it hasn’t deterred my view of him. I went back and watched a few of his games again and I kept seeing what I initially liked, a cover-first safety that was quick to anticipate and react with easy movement and smooth ball skills. He is athletic enough to play single high if need be. He won’t add a physical presence back there but as a 3rd round target, NYG could do a lot worse.

4 – Damarious Randall – Arizona State – 5’11/196 – 75

Upside Pro Comparison: Devin McCourty/NE

Strong Points: Versatile defensive back with game experience at cornerback and safety. Explosive athlete. Can pursue across the field and make tackles on the move. Will close in on a ball carrier in a blink. Anticipates routes and throwing lanes. Competitive in coverage. Will get his hand on the ball in most one on one situations. Savvy defender when making his way through traffic towards the action. Shows toughness in a crowd. Playmaker type with the ball in his hands.

Weak Points: Inconsistent toughness and tackling. Too often he dives after the ankles of ball carriers when they have a head of team. Whiffs in space too much. May not have the size necessary to play an in-the-box safety role. Physical reactions to double routes aren’t fast enough. Takes too long to change direction in deep coverage. Too many recovery steps needed. Quick twitch doesn’t match his explosion and speed.

Summary: Fifth year senior. Played baseball at Butler Community College before playing beginning his All American football career as a cornerback and return specialist at Mesa Community College. Started for the Sun Devils for two seasons at safety. Randall has upper tier explosion and top end speed. He has the makings of a playmaker that can change games. However his skill set needs a lot of work and may be a guy that needs a very specific defensive back role in a very specific scheme. He isn’t a physical presence across the middle or in the box, and he struggles to react to double moves and quick twitch receivers. He could be a package player down the road, but his future may be best suited on special teams as a gunner.

*There are some people I respect with a top 45 overall grade on Randall. I’m not there but I have upgraded him since my initial view. He can move really well and there are coverage abilities that most safeties on this list do not have. He could be a versatile defensive back in the NFL that can line up over the slot on one play and play a single high role on the next. He won’t add anything as a run defender or enforcer, but he can be productive player in the right scheme.

5 – Cody Prewitt – Ole Miss – 6’2/208 – 74

Upside Pro Comparison: T.J. McDonald/STL

Strong Points: Built like a linebacker. Thick frame with a lot of length. Versatile tool set. Long strider with downfield speed. Also an explosive downhill player that will attack the run. Has tremendous lateral range as a run defender. Shows presence as a tackler, wraps up well and will make the open field tackle. Good blitzer that can explode out from a stand still position with functional power. Can turn and run in coverage. Has the range to play a deep half. Enforcer that will strike fear in to receivers with his presence alone. Has a natural flow towards the action. Reads the quarterback and can anticipate his throwing lanes. Makes plays on the ball and can control his body when leaping in traffic,

Weak Points: His movement in short space doesn’t match the speed he has in a straight line. Takes too many recovery steps. Won’t read the routes coming at him and is often less guessing. Struggles to stick with receivers on routes other than something deep. Takes too long to react to underneath action. Struggles to burst from a stand still, lacks the explosive element to his game.

Summary: Fourth year senior. Was a 1st Team All American in 2013. Has been starting since the end of his freshman season and hasn’t missed a game since. Prewitt is a unique player with a versatile tool set. He has the size and presence of a tackler, but has proven to be a factor in deep coverage. His best fit is strong safety in the NFL because he is at his best when he is attacking the action in front of him. He can be a force within a specific role, but he has shown weaknesses in coverage that teams will look to exploit if he is given too much responsibility.

*I had Prewitt graded at 77/78 for awhile and he was a day 2 target for NYG in my book. Recently was informed of some work ethic/approach issues that made me downgrade him quite a bit. I just don’t like hearing certain things and Prewitt’s talent will only take him so far. With that aside, I think he can still be a 3rd rounder. He has size and presence, almost appearing to be an extra linebacker at times. He is a long strider that may be a liability in coverage against quicker wide receivers, but he has some deep range to him when he starts high. I think he is a guy that NYG will like if the off the field stuff doesn’t deter them.

6 – Adrian Amos – Penn State – 6’0/218 – 74

Upside Pro Comparison: Kenny Vaccaro/NO

Strong Points: Versatile tools and skills. Has the movement ability to stick to receivers all over the route tree. Can change direction with precision and body control. Can turn his hips and run vertical with the speed receivers. Closes a gap ion front of him fast. Will make quick decisions, rarely caught out of position. Reliable tackler when he is in position, can get his hands on the ball carrier and stick to him.

Weak Points: Lacks a physical presence in the box. Won’t stifle blockers and doesn’t deliver much of a pop when tackling. Takes bad angles in pursuit towards the sidelines. Will lose track of cutback responsibilities. Gets caught looking in to the backfield, loses track of the action around him in coverage.

Summary: Fourth year senior. Amos has plenty of starting experience at both cornerback and safety. His ability to stick with receivers up, down, and across the field will be sought after by every team. His presence against the run is sub-par, however. He doesn’t tackle well and his angles in pursuit need work. His best role in the NFL will be within pass defense packages where his ability in both man and zone schemes can be used.

*Someone told me before the season that Amos was a similar style player to Kenny Vaccaro a couple years back but with more speed. I was a big Vaccaro guy and still am, thus it peaked my interest, I saw a lot of Amos in 2014 and he just never stood out to me. He is a little raw and he made the occasional flash here and there, but I just didn’t see him make enough football plays to warrant the Vaccaro comparison. Solid and versatile, but more of a 3rd round type because of the development he’ll need,

7 – Clayton Geathers – UCF – 6’2/218 – 73

Upside Pro Comparison: J.J. Wilcox/DAL

Strong Points: Enforcer over the middle that takes pride in making others players scared. Plays with an aggressive, downhill, heat seeking missile approach. Hard hitter that tackles with good form. Has the feet and awareness to stick with tight ends and some receivers in man coverage. Diagnoses and anticipates the action well. Will mentally react, makes the right decision and can put himself in to position. Has the speed to recover from mistakes, can make up ground.

Weak Points: Stop and go quickness when moving laterally or backwards in coverage does not match his downhill athleticism. Might be limited what you can do with him in deep coverage. Bit of a roamer that is constantly looking to make the big hit. Plays a dangerous game, will launch himself through the ball carrier too often. Doesn’t show quick twitch in zone coverage.

Summary: Fifth year senior and four year starter. Finished third in school history with 383 career tackles. Was second on the team in tackles four straight years. Geathers is one of the most aggressive defenders in this class. He relishes the role of enforcer and takes a lot of pride in altering the intentions of players that cross the middle of the field. His downhill explosion and consistent ability to finish off plays will be sought after by teams looking to improve their physical presence on defense. Geathers is an intimidator but lacks fluid movement in coverage, thus his role may be limited at the next level. Most teams have a role for this kind of prospect, however. In a weak safety class, this is a guy that could hear his name called earlier than expected.

*If NYG is looking for a safety that will bring a power presence to their secondary, Geathers is the guy. I’ve wanted the front office to add more physical players to their defense for years now and it is still lacking. Geathers can scare receivers. He can finish off running backs. He is a powerful, big safety with more than enough speed and explosion. He may have the highest upside among all the safeties in this class, he’ll just need to clean up his coverage mechanics.

8 – Anthony Harris – Virginia – 6’1/183 – 73

Upside Pro Comparison: Roman Harper/CAR

Strong Points: Easy mover with excellent body control and balance. Light feet and fluid hips. Can turn his body and accelerate fast. Seamless transitions. Aggressive pursuit of the ball carrier. Shows the sideline to sideline range as a run defender. Effective tackler, wraps and drags to the ground. Fast physical reaction. Can explode downhill and close a gap. Reacts to the ball in the air well. Shows the ball skills necessary to make plays on the ball. Can adjust his body on the move and get his hands in the way. Can stick with receivers in man coverage. Has the recovery time and speed to make up for poor reads. Can run deep with receivers.

Weak Points: Lacks the awareness of the action around him. Shows the tendency to look in to the backfield without keeping his head on a swivel. Often playing catch up coverage. Lacks a presence as a tackler and enforcer. Doesn’t deliver the violent jolt to ball carrier. Can be overpowered by blockers and ridden out of the play. Looks frail at times.

Summary: Harris has never missed a game over his four year career, including the past three as a starter. Has been very productive with 10 interceptions and 16 pass break ups over the past two seasons. Harris is a very good athlete that moves well all over the field. He has the body control and ball skills to make a difference in coverage. He just needs to become a smarter and more aware player in coverage. He doesn’t have the frame to enforce the physical brand of football, but he is an aggressive player that will put his body on the line. Starter potential that can impact the run and pass defense.

*Hard to figure this guy out. Harris was the epitome of dependability and durability during his accomplished 4 year career. He’s been fighting a lingering shoulder issue throughout the pre-draft process and there are whispers he may miss part of 2015. On tape, Harris is as quick and explosive as it gets. He can close fast downhill but can also easily turn and run downfield. The main issue, however, is that he is a tiny 183 pounds. Safeties at that size just don’t make it in the NFL. I’ll be interested to see what happens with him in the league.

9 – Derron Smith – Fresno State – 5’10/200 – 73

Upside Pro Comparison: Ryan Clark/RET

Strong Points: Ball hawk defensive back that has the ability to impact the play several ways. Gets his hands on a lot of balls and knows how to bring it in. Has receiver-type catching ability. Instincts and awareness in all situations are a plus. Can come crashing down like a missile when he diagnoses the running lane. Will go hard after the ball carrier and can deliver a violent pop. Has a short area burst to close a small gap. Showed he can run with speed downfield.

Weak Points: Lacks height and arm length and it shows up on tape. Doesn’t react to a crowd well. Struggles to wrap up, ball carries will shake free from him too often. Takes poor angles when exploding downhill. Change of direction when moving at a full speed is below average. Takes chances, which leaves him and the defense prone to giving up big plays.

Summary: Fifth year senior. Received a medical redshirt in 2011 after breaking his arm in the third game, missing the rest of the season. Smith had 15 career interceptions, including 13 over the span of his sophomore and junior seasons. A scheme that can move a safety around and put him in to different coverage roles will like Smith. He shows some cornerback-type movement but also has the anticipation skills of a safety. The size limits him a bit, but he plays a physical style and should be able to hide the length issues more often than not. He can be a valuable nickel and dime package player, a role that is becoming more and more important each year.

*Productive player here that some people like a lot. He shows ball skills and the ability to cover guys underneath. He moves well and he is pretty savvy, good combination. Has the thick frame but he is short with really short arms. He got overmatched by bigger receivers and crowds in college, not sure he can hack it as a starter in the league. Maybe a scheme-guy or package defender.

10 – Kyshoen Jarrett – Virginia Tech – 5’10/200 – 72

Upside Pro Comparison: Tyrann Matheiu/ARI

Strong Points: Versatile defender with the movement ability to play several roles. Quick in to and out of breaks. Easy feet and hips. Great body control and balance. Can play a deep half zone, showing the speed and acceleration to reach the sidelines. Very smart and aware, diagnoses and pounces fast. Aggressive run defender. Will fly in to the box and make sound, wrap up tackles.

Weak Points: Undersized. Lacks playing strength and won’t make a physical impact on the game. Not an enforcer. Can be overwhelmed by blockers. Doesn’t get this hands on a lot of balls. Will be out-positioned by bigger receivers in traffic, making it tough for him to make a play.

Summary: Has never missed a game over his four year career. Capable of playing safety and cornerback because of his versatile skill set and athletic ability. Smart and heady player that can force his way on to the field. Also a good punt returner. Jarrett lacks the ideal size of a safety and movement of a cornerback, but he is a reliable defender that can do almost anything a defensive coach asks for.

*Like Jarrett in the same way I liked Mathieu a couple years ago. He is shorter than ideal but he is a gamer. Jarrett was stuck on a bad team but every time I saw them play, he stood out head and shoulders above despite the shorter frame. Jarrett could be a solid nickel defender and special teams ace/return man. He’ll make a team and he’ll make an impact.

11 – Ibraheim Campbell – Northwestern – 5’11/208 – 72

*In the box safety more than anything. He is one of the best tacklers in this group with a nice power presence and open field ability. He is a reliable last line of defense and can do enough in coverage to not hurt you. Special teamer with eventual starting potential.

12 – Jordan Richards – Stanford – 5’11/211 – 72

*Intriguing tool set and an overly aggressive style will make him a fan favorite for some if he can get on the field. He reminds me a little of Gibril Wilson when he first broke in to the league. He really puts his body on the line but I don’t think there is a lot of upside as a cover man. He is always playing catch up and the body control isn’t there. Could be a nice player on special teams and as a run defender.

13 – Cedric Thompson – Minnesota – 6’0/208 – 72

*Love his game speed. Thompson may be one of the top pure-game speed defensive backs in the class. He has legit range. He shows some raw-ness to his game when it comes to the parts of his game that require more skill, but he has talent that is worth trying to develop.

14 – Anthony Jefferson – UCLA – 6’1/198 – 70

*Physical more than he is fast. Can be a solid run defender and special teamer. Not sure he has the ceiling you look for in day 3 picks but he will be a solid guy that has a job as a backup for awhile. He is smart and showed plenty of versatility at UCLA.

15 – Durrell Eskridge – Syracuse – 6’3/208 – 70

*This is a guy that NYG will like, I have a feeling. He is tall and long and showed he can long stride his way in to deep coverage. He has range. I don’t like the lack of physical presence and he isn’t a quick twitch defender. I think the upside is worth gambling on but I just don’t see the football player in him.

NYG APPROACH

There is no secret this group of safeties is a weak one overall. As always, however, there are players listed here that will be quality defenders in the NFL. NYG needs to find one of them, plain and simple. The biggest debate revolves around the grade and status of the top dog Landon Collins. Because he “wasn’t a playmaker”, many believe he should be pegged towards the end of round 1. Collins is a more than solid defender than can do several things at a high level. He isn’t the best athlete out there but that rarely shows up on tape. He plays fast and he plays even more physical. Collins deserves to be taken in the top 15 and it can be argued he is a top 10 player in this draft class.

When does NYG go after a safety? If they don’t get Collins or Rowe, I think it’s worth waiting until day 3. Try to find a player that excels as a cover man or excels as a run defender and implement him in to the defense. They may not need to find the superstar, do it all type. If they can find a role player, their safety group is immediately upgraded because what they have now likely won’t cut it. Don’t reach for one when there are better players at other positions available though, again.

Apr 232015
 
Jerry Reese, New York Giants (February 21, 2015)

Jerry Reese – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Jerry Reese’s 2015 Pre-Draft Press Conference: New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese held his annual pre-draft press conference today. The following is the transcript from the event (video is also available courtesy of Giants.com):

Q: Who are you picking?

A: A good player at nine.

Q: In a year like this and with some of the things that went on last year in the NFL, how much more important or different is the way you look at a player’s character and behavior when you are assessing them? Has that changed?

A: I think we are always mindful of a player’s character and background. That always goes into the equation. It is not really anything new for us. Obviously, like all teams, we have taken some guys on the back end of the roster, more risk-reward kind of situations on the back end of the roster. We are very conscious and have been for a long time about backgrounds and character.

Q: That seems to have changed last year when you guys wanted a lot of clean players… Whereas in the past you would have taken…?

A: The thing you have to think about when you are thinking about these young players is that they are young. They do young kid stuff. You can’t just absolutely kill them. You wouldn’t have anyone to draft. Kids do kid things and do college things and it happens. If a guy has a long list of issues, that is when you have to throw the red flag in there. Is this guy going to stop? If you have a couple things that college kids do, you can’t just throw it away.

Q: Is there anything concrete you do with that or is it just an eyeball test?

A: We do all the background checks and our scouts go out and dig the information that we can. We interview them and try to put it all together and make a decision on it.

Q: Is it kind of three strikes and you are out?

A: Not necessarily, it depends on how egregious the off-field issues are, more than anything else probably.

Q: Last year you seemed to have a guy pegged or a couple guys you thought would be available… Is it more unpredictable being at nine?

A: I think you always have a good idea, but it is always unpredictable. You never know what is going to happen. You can look up and some of those quarterbacks they think are going to be in the first couple picks could be – not off the board until 15 or 20. You never know. I learned that a long time ago in the draft. Funny things can happen, so expect everything to happen.

Q: Last year the wide receiver corps turned out to be a really good group… There are a lot of thoughts that this wide receiving corps could be just as good… Thoughts?

A: I think there are good receivers, just as there were last year. I think that is every year. I think there are good players at every position every year. I don’t know if that is a good answer or not, but I think there are good wide receivers…I think there are good players at every position.

Q: Given you have a lot of depth at receiver, would you have any qualms about drafting another receiver?

A: First of all, as soon as you say you have a lot of depth at any position, you don’t have depth. I know better than to say that. We will draft the best player available for us. It really doesn’t matter what position it is.

Q: How do you look at your offensive line at this point? Do you look at it saying you need to supplement it at least during one day of the draft?

A: Every position. We want to try and upgrade every position as best we can every opportunity we get. Offensive line won’t be excluded from that as well.

Q: In your mind right now, what does your offensive line look like? Is Justin Pugh still at right tackle?

A: That is something for Tom. You have to talk to Tom about that. Obviously Pugh has been a starter and is going to be a starter somewhere more than likely. [Geoff] Schwartz is coming back from injury. Hopefully he can fit in there somewhere. What we want to do is get as many good players as we can and create as much competition as we can in the offensive line.

Q: When you are picking as high as you are, is there a sense of a guy having to fit in at a premium position? In the past, you wouldn’t have drafted linebacker in the first round, but guys like defensive backs, wide receivers and left tackles… Is that part of your thinking when you are as high as you are?

A: If you draft at nine, whoever it is, is a premium position, regardless of the position that he is. If you draft at nine, it is a premium position, regardless of what it is. It doesn’t matter what position. If you draft him at nine, he is a guy you expect to come in and play and play quickly.

Q: Has the profile of offensive linemen changed at all in the last decade at all?

A: We just look for good players. Good profiles. Good players. Strong. Big, strong, fast and smart.

Q: The big lineman from Iowa is a guy everyone seems to love as a guard prospect… What do you see from him?

A: I think he can play both. I think he can play tackle and he can play guard. I think he can play somewhere.

Q: Where do you see him?

A: The coaches will have to figure that out.

Q: How do you look at this group of pass rushers?

A: There are some good pass rushers and edge rushers available.  Are you asking me to stack them or something like that? I can’t do that, but I do think there are some good pass rushers in this draft.

Q: You haven’t made a ton of trades as compared to other teams throughout the years… How do you explain that? Is that the way things worked out?

A: We will keep all of our options open on the draft. We can trade up and we can trade down. That doesn’t change. We are not looking to trade just to try to be cute to trade up or down. If we think we have an opportunity to move up, then we will move up. If we have an opportunity to move back, then we will do that as well.

Q: Back around the combine, in regards to Victor Cruz, you said you couldn’t think of him as a sure thing… Have you seen anything from him where you can have some kind of certainty of how he will be when he comes back?

A: I don’t think you can have certainty. [Cruz] looks good. He is running pretty good right now. He is scheduled to be back for the opener for us, but until you get out there and turn it loose, you never know what a guy is going to do. He looks great right now.

Q: Are you still approaching whatever he can give you guys next year as a ‘bonus?’

A: I am not counting it as a bonus, but I want to be prepared if he is not here.

Q: Is there any change in your perspective in the preparation on your part when you pick ninth instead of 12th like last year and going back to the Super Bowl when you picked last?

A: We just stack the board. Whoever we think the best player is in the first row, it doesn’t matter what position, which is how we do it. We stack them the same way. If you pick inside 12 picks, you should get a good football player.

Q: Does the expectation change as far as impact goes?

A: The higher you pick – that is how the system is. If you pick high in the draft – that is the way the whole system is built. If you pick high in the draft, you are supposed to get better players to help you have a better football team. If you are picking last in the draft, you get penalized for being successful. You get penalized, so you get lesser players. Whoever you pick at nine should be a better player than you pick at 32. That is the way the system is and obviously we are picking nine and expect to get a good player.  A really good player.

Q: Another general manager said there were eight to ten players who were real difference makers above other guys… Do you have a point in your estimation of how many guys are at a higher level than the rest of the group?

A: I think there is always a break. Everyone in the first row – that is why we call them rows; they are not first round picks. There are natural breaks. There may be eight and then there may be five more players, then there is another break. There are always breaks in the first row where you stack them, but you have to have 32 players in the first round.

Q: Where is that first break?

A: We’ll see.

Q: How are you looking at your safety position right now? Do you think it is a position of need?

A: We are not going to make do, just like any position, we are going to try to upgrade that position. Just like the rest of the positions. We are not going to make do. We have some young players that we think have some talent, but we are going to continue to try and upgrade that position as well.

Q: Last year we were saying you needed to get a tight end and you felt confident with some of the young guys… Is it the same thing now?

A: Every position we want to upgrade. We want to upgrade safety. We want to have competition at that position like we want to have at every position and we will try to do that.

Q: Tom talked about the possibility of converting Chykie Brown or Bennett Jackson to safety… Is that realistic in your mind and what goes into that?

A: It happens all the time. One of the best players we tried to get in free agency was the corner from New England. He was a corner and played safety. You see those conversions. That is not new to see something like that happen. That is a possibility as well.

Q: Are [Brown and Jackson] guys who could possibly convert in your eyes?

A: I think so. You never know. You have to experiment in the spring. Obviously you would like to get a guy who has played there and done the job, but you have to be creative in this day and age with your personnel.

Q: You went after [Devin] McCourty, so you wanted to upgrade that position… What happened after that? Do you look at Josh Gordy as a safety?

A: That is what he plays.

Q: What was the plan at that position after McCourty?

A: We thought he was the best player in free agency [at his position] and after that we thought there was a drop off and that is what happened.

Q: Now that Eli is back in the building and he said his attitude is to play the year and go from there… What is your thought on his contract?

A: It is inappropriate to talk about a contract right now. Eli is back in the building. He looks great. He is happy to be back. We are glad he is back. We will address that when it is appropriate.

Q: Do you sense that this a real opportunity for Eli this offseason, given that he is not coming off ankle surgery and he has already been in this offense for a year?

A: Yeah, I am excited. It should be a big year for him. He is not learning the offense. A lot of the players were in the offense last year. He’ll get another piece back hopefully with Victor Cruz coming back. The tight ends will have a little bit more experience. I hope the offense – we got [Shane] Vereen, who we think is a good piece to help our offense as well. I think our offense should be a pretty good offense.

Q: Re: Thought process in the signings of Vereen, [Dwayne] Harris, [J.T.] Thomas… What were you after?

A: We were trying to upgrade some positions that we already had. We knew we were going to lose some players. We felt Vereen was a really nice piece. Everyone knows what he does as a receiver out of the backfield, he can run the ball. He is a professional football player back there. He is really good on third down. Really good on any down, to be honest. We thought he would be a nice piece. Went after him and the two linebackers. We thought they were upgrades. They will battle for starting positions. Dwayne Harris, we thought the guy was kind of a four to five tool type player for us. We thought we were getting a lot of players out of one position. We played against him for a long time and he has been a good player for [Dallas]. Hopefully he will bring it over here to us and he will play for us in those capacities.

Q: Where do you view J.T. Thomas’s best position?

A: I don’t know. It is up to the coaches. He looked like a WILL linebacker to me, but that is up to the coaches.

Q: Are you still hoping to get Stevie Brown back?

A: We are going to keep all our options open.

Q: As one of the teams in the league that isn’t quarterback-needy, do you even look at those top two guys?

A: We look at everybody. You never say you aren’t quarterback-needy. You can’t say those kinds of things. Ralph just said we were deep at receiver and you are saying we don’t need a quarterback. I know better than to say something like that.

Q: What is your take on the two quarterbacks at the top of the draft?

A: They are good players. They are both good players. They are both different, but I think they are both, in what they do, I think they are both good players.

Q: Is your expectation that they are going to go one and two?

A: I don’t expect anything. Expect the unexpected in the draft. They may not go until 15, who knows?

Q: You have gone offense the last three years in the first round… Does that go into any decision making?

A: I didn’t even know that. Whoever the best player is at nine – we are going to pick them.

Q: Do you have any concern over Jason Pierre-Paul not being here for the offseason program and not signing the tender yet?

A: It is voluntary and it is inappropriate to talk about player contracts at this point in time. It is not mandatory that he should be here.

Q: After you get an Odell [Beckham Jr.]  and everything that he did in his first season and now you are picking at nine, are there heightened expectations?

A: You always want to get good players in the draft. Sometimes you hit on a guy like Odell and he is a terrific player, but the higher you pick, the better the player should be. When you are picking on the back end, it is obviously not the same caliber.

Q: When you look back at last year’s draft, from top to bottom, how do you evaluate it?

A: We don’t really look back on that draft that much. We draft them and that draft is over. We are moving on to this draft and we are excited about the players in this draft. We go back after two or three years and look and see why a guy made it or why a guy didn’t make it. After one year, it is really hard to evaluate.

Q: Was the approach different in the past two drafts?

A: No.

Q: This week, have you checked in with Odell and how his hamstring is feeling?

A: I just saw Odell a couple of minutes ago down in the weight room. He looks great and he didn’t say a word about his hamstring.

Q: Do you have any injuries that are long-term concerns?

A: There will be a couple guys we have concerns with, but we feel good about the vast majority of our players being ready to go for training camp.

New York Giants Player Q&As: Video clips of Thursday’s media Q&As with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Apr 232015
 
Larry Donnell, New York Giants (December 28, 2014)

Larry Donnell – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants Re-Sign Tight End Larry Donnell: The New York Giants have re-signed exclusive rights free agent tight end Larry Donnell. Terms of the deal are not yet known but Donnell most likely signed his 1-year, $585,000 tender.

Donnell went from a little-known player to the team’s primary tight end in 2014, playing in all 16 games with 12 starts. Donnell finished the season with 63 catches for 623 yards and six touchdowns. His 63 catches were tied for ninth-most in the NFL among tight ends.

Donnell originally went undrafted and unsigned in 2011. The Giants signed him as a street free agent in March 2012 and Donnell spent 2012 on the team’s Practice Squad. Donnell made the 53-man roster in 2013 and was active for all 16 games, starting one contest. He finished the season with only three catches for 31 yards.

Cornerback Chandler Fenner was the only other exclusive rights free agent of the Giants and he was re-signed earlier this week. For a complete listing of the Giants’ free agent activity, see the 2015 Free Agency Scorecard section of the website.

Stevie Brown Visits the Texans: According to NFL.com, unrestricted free agent safety Stevie Brown (New York Giants) visited the Houston Texans on Tuesday. Per an earlier update, the Giants are believed to still be interested in re-signing Brown, but at what the team considers a reasonable price.

Giants.com Q&A with CB Prince Amukamara: The video of a Giants.com interview with CB Prince Amukamara is available at Giants.com.

Article on LB Jonathan Casillas: Jersey City native Jonathan Casillas hopes to start for Giants by Yueh Ho for NJ.com

Article on Super Bowl XLII: Spike Lee film looks back at David Tyree’s ‘Greatest Catch Ever’ by Neil Best of Newsday

Apr 222015
 
Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest Demon Deacons (February 23, 2015)

Kevin Johnson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Cornerbacks

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*Below are my published, abbreviated reports via Ourlads Scouting Services, LLC

**A note about Pro Upside Comparisons: These are comparisons that are based on the player reaching his ceiling. It does not necessarily mean I believe the player will “be as good as”.

CURRENT CBs on NYG ROSTER

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – 29 Years old – Signed through 2018

Prince Amukamara – 26 Years old – Signed through 2015

Trumaine McBride – 30 Years old – Signed through 2015

Chykie Brown – 29 Years old – Signed through 2016

Mike Harris – 26 Years old – Signed through 2015

Chandler Fenner – 25 Years old – Signed through 2015

Jayron Hosley – 25 Years old – Signed through 2015

Bennett Jackson – 24 Years old – Signed through 2015

Trevin Wade – 26 Years old – Signed through 2016

WHERE THEY STAND

When everyone is healthy, this CB group has everything a defense would need out of the group. We all know that counting on an injury-free season from everyone on that list could be considered foolish. DRC is a favorite of mine when looking at all the CBs around the league without bias. He is the most talented CB NYG has had in a very long time, possibly ever. Amukamara has been up and down, as most young corners are, but he’s struggled to stay on the field and he is expected to hit the FA market next winter. A lot of that will depend on the contract statuses of Manning and JPP, however. McBride is a tough veteran that I trust in the nickel and backup roles. Brown and Harris showed a pretty good level of play in their limited exposure last season. Coincidentally, I wanted the Giants to draft Harris back in 2012. Glad to see he eventually made his way here. Fenner and Hosley could compete for the final CB spot but don’t overlook Jackson, one of my top value picks NYG made last year. He may have some FS in his future though.

TOP 20 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – Kevin Johnson – Wake Forest – 6’0/188 – 81

Upside Pro Comparison: Terence Newman/MIN

Strong Points: Easy and fluid mover. Top tier quickness and reaction. Can go 0-60 with a few steps. Shows the speed to pursue and/or catch up with anyone. Has an aggressive style that suits him well against both the run and pass. Quality ball skills, shows the easy hands and eye-hand coordination when going after passes. Strong tackler that makes the attempt to wrap up. All-out hustler when moving downhill while attacking the run. Closes the gap fast. Can play with lateral and vertical range with his smooth hips and light feet. Confident player that plays with a certain swagger on the field, very competitive.

Weak Points: Over-aggressive and takes too many gambles. Fooled by the double moves too often. Very thin and light. Can be pushed around by blockers. Doesn’t have the consistent footwork you want to see in man coverage. Takes too long to diagnose. Doesn’t always see what’s going on around him, looks at things in a tunnel too much. False steps put him in a catch up position to often.

Summary: Thee year starter. Had to redshirt in 2011 for being academically ineligible. This 2nd Team All ACC corner is one of the toughest defenders you can find. Despite a lack of size, he shows no hesitation when attacking the ball and/or ball carrier. He displays outstanding speed and quickness, sticking with some of the best receivers in the country. Johnson’s attitude on the field is that of a player that loves the game and is extremely competitive. He has a lot of tools and skills that make up a quality cover corner in the NFL.

*The first game of Johnson’s that I scouted was against FSU. Despite the teams being on different levels, Johnson looked like he was the best player on the field for both teams, on both sides of the ball. He is very lean but there may not be a more aggressive player in the entire class than Johnson. He attacks each play with a certain level of reckless abandon that I would want every defender on my team to. Johnson is the only first round grade I have at the CB position this year. I think he goes somewhere in the 15-25 range. If he fell to the 2nd, should NYG consider him? I say yes.

2 – Trae Waynes – Michigan State – 6’0/186 – 80

Upside Pro Comparison: Johnathan Joseph/HOU

Strong Points: Fast and quick twitched athlete. Has a wiry but strong frame. Can flip his hips and accelerate with ease. Seamless transitions when changing direction. Good balance and body control when the action is in front of him. Diagnoses the action quickly, reacts well. Rangy defender that can be trusted on an island. Has long arms and good eye-hand coordination. Productive defender. Competitive and aggressive in coverage, has the stop and go quickness to go along with deep speed. Can stick with receivers all over the field. Pursues the action well.

Weak Points: Lacks a true physical presence when it comes to jamming receivers and tackling. Doesn’t deliver a violent jolt when doing either. Struggles to locate and track the ball in deep coverage. Loses body control when playing the ball downfield. Gets too hands on and grabby. Doesn’t trust his feet enough. May not have the ball skills necessary to be an impact playmaker.

Summary: Junior entry. One of the top cover corners in the country. Two year starter with consistent production and reliable ability. Waynes can stick to a receivers pocket all over the field, whether it be lateral, underneath routes or deep patterns over the top. He is a quick decision maker that can match it with just-as-quick movement from his hips and feet. He will need to improve his ball tracking downfield while maintaining body control and balance. He is also a penalty flag waiting to happen with how grabby he gets. He is too hands on and won’t get away with it as much in the NFL. Potential NFL starter early in his career with a really high upside.

*I just haven’t seen it with Waynes the way some have. It’s a weak DB group overall and I don’t mind those that label him the top guy, but I see the same holes in his game every time I watch his game tapes. Waynes is a good straight line athlete but the adjustment and reactions appear to be a step slow consistently. I think that is a bad combo for the position. The fact that he ran a 4.31 weighs very little in my mind, as the deep speed is a very small aspect of the position. If he does go in the top 15, I think it is poor value.

3 – Jalen Collins – LSU – 6’1/204 – 78

Upside Pro Comparison: Byron Maxwell/PHI

Strong Points: Tall, lean, and very long. Great body awareness and control all over the field. Covers with an aggressive style, shows no fear or hesitation when squared off against elite-level receivers. Can get his hands on, re-direct and disrupt his man at the point of attack. Long strider with good range underneath. Good instincts, reads the action well. Good eye-hand coordination, can react to wherever the ball is thrown without hesitation. Great leaper. Can close in on the ball carrier and/or receiver with just a few steps. Very good acceleration to his top speed. Easy bender with good flexibility. Confident player that will compete hard every down.

Weak Points: May not have the deep speed to hang with the fast receivers downfield. Lacks the speed to catch up to receivers running deep that initially beat him. Lacks presence as a tackler. Rarely gives a jolt to the ball carrier. Tries to catch the ball carrier and drag him down. Reaction to quick underneath routes is slow.

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Collins is a smart player that is very aware of himself and the players around him. He has the elite size and body for the teams looking for length at cornerback. His reach radius combined with easy movement make him solid in man coverage. While he does lack power and strength, Collins is aggressive at the point of attack and has shown the ability to disrupt routes with his hands and feet. He has starter potential in any scheme. If his lack of deep speed can be hidden by the safeties over the top, Collins can be a star.

*This is the CB that I think has the most upside of all the guys in the group. He has outstanding length for the position to go along with good-enough movement. There are really good movement aesthetics here and I think there is still a good amount of physical progress to go with him. Collins was in and out of the lineup at LSU because he was inconsistent with assignments and mechanics. If a team can be on the patient side with him, he has the capability of being a top flight CB in the NFL.

4 – Justin Coleman – Tennessee – 5’11/185 – 77

Upside Pro Comparison: Brandon Flowers/SD

Strong Points: Consistently aggressive and angry style of play. Shows no hesitation when going at the action whether he is defending the run or pass. Good form tackler as well. Explosive athlete. Has all the speed and quickness a cornerback needs. Has the speed to recover if he is initially beat. Can hang with speed downfield. Good length combined with eye-hand coordination enables him to make plays on the ball without too much contact with the receiver.

Weak Points: Under-developed skill set. Too high with his backpedal. Sloppy after the snap and will rely too much on his speed and quickness. Doesn’t anticipate, won’t read the action around him. Hips are too tight and will need an extra recovery step or two when turning around. Is often a second too late. Dropped too many interceptions. Prone to penalties when facing off with the better receivers,

Summary: Fourth year senior. Finished his career with 35 straight starts. Coleman was shifted in to the nickel role in 2014 because the Tennessee coaching staff wanted to take advantage of his physical brand and tackling ability. Coleman is one of the best athletes in this draft. He is fast, explosive, and strong. At the 2015 East/West Shrine, multiple receivers said he was the top cornerback there. His talent is undeniable. He has all the tools but lacks a lot of skills. His mechanics are inconsistent and he has not yet figured out how to read the action and anticipate routes and throws. He will need time, quality coaching, and dedication to the little things if he wants to meet his high upside.

*Coleman is as aggressive as it gets but there is a level of speed and quickness that can allow him to play the finesse game as well. He is very fluid on one play but the next one you’ll see him beat the crap out of a much bigger receiver that himself. What I like a lot here is that when you hear SEC coaches and players talk about their toughest competition, Coleman’s name always pops up. This kid is a gamer that loves to compete and there is more than enough talent.

5 – Ladarius Gunter – Miami – 6’1/202 – 76

Upside Pro Comparison: Sean Smith/KC

Strong Points: Tall and long with big hands. Good speed downfield with the ability to track the deep ball with good body control and balance. Self aware, understands how to use his body to his advantage. Efficient mover, minimal wasted motion. Can turn and accelerate. Changes direction well. Willing to throw his hat in to he mix against the run. Can deliver a violent hit to ball carriers. Smart and savvy in zone coverage, reads the action around and in front of him,

Weak Points: Lacks experience and proven ability to back pedal efficiently. Will bail out of it too fast and leave the underneath routes open. Doesn’t have the quick twitch to stick with the receivers underneath that excel at changing direction.

Summary: Gunter has two-plus years of starting experience for Miami after playing un Junior College for one season. He is a long strider with good deep speed and ball skills. He was visibly avoided by a lot of teams in 2014. Gunter performed cornerback and safety duties for the Miami defense and could likely fit in at both spots on a starter level in the NFL.

*I’m as high on Gunter as anyone you’ll find and to be honest, I’m not sure what position fits him best at the next level. He was a hybrid for the Hurricanes, playing on an island at CB, defending the slot, and dropping in to a center-fielder-type free safety role. Gunter’s game is very much based on versatility but I think his best impact will be felt at corner. He doesn’t have the sexy 40 time but I care less about that when a guy has size and quick acceleration. Gunter reacts as smooth as anyone when defending good route runners. He was arguably the best DB at the Senior Bowl all week. I’ll take a chance on Gunter in round 3 all day.

6 – Marcus Peters – Washington – 6’0/197 – 75

Upside Pro Comparison: Xavier Rhodes/MIN

Strong Points: Big and physical cover corner that loves to get his hands on receivers and push them around at the line of scrimmage. Confident, aggressive, and ultra-competitive player. Can turn his hips, plant his foot and accelerate fast. Explosive out of his breaks. Has a strong punch in jam coverage. Can send a violent jolt to the receiver’s body. Good ball skills and will time his attack on the pass well. Has the long speed to hang with almost anyone down the field. Closes a 10 yard gap as fast as anyone. Consistently explodes downhill against the run and throws his hat in there without hesitation.

Weak Points: Can be over-aggressive at times and be fooled by double moves. Will over pursue ball carriers. Doesn’t make quick decisions in zone coverage. Stands too tall and waits for the action to come to him. Doesn’t stay square to receivers, will get caught looking in to the backfield, not being aware of the action around him. Backpedal is inconsistent, he won’t stay in it long enough. Trusts his own speed too much and will neglect technique to covering receivers. Major red flags off the field that need to be investigated.

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Might be the most physically talented cornerback in this class. Peters was put in to a press-man coverage scheme in 2013 and he broke out in a big way. His combination of size, speed, and aggression will suit him well at the next level. He shows weakness in zone coverage where he has to move with his head more than his feet. In addition, his technique is inconsistent, as he trusts his athleticism to be good enough. There are issues with his coachability. He was thrown off the team in early November for reasons having to do with his strong, stubborn personality. He was constantly butting heads with the coaching staff and it eventually led to him being dismissed. Talent wise, Peters is the top or one of the top cover corners in this class that can make a difference early on.

*If it weren’t for the temper and coachability issues, Peters could be considered a top 20 talent in this class. But you can’t ignore the fact that he had multiple run-ins with the coaching staff at Washington. The kind of behavior is proving to be something that holds players and teams back in the NFL and NYG has always steered clear of this kind of situation. If he cleaned that up, there is a lot to like on the field. He is physical, aggressive, and smart. I like his game a lot but he needs to prove in interviews that he isn’t a locker room cancer.

7 – P.J. Williams – Florida State – 6’0/194 – 75

Upside Pro Comparison: Keenan Lewis/NO

Strong Points: Tall, long and fast cover corner that excels in man coverage. Quick thinker with the ability to diagnose. Can make the quick adjustment. Accelerates in a blink. Can explode downhill or turn his hips and run with receivers. Great tackler who shows no hesitation mixing it up with a ball carrier that has a head of steam. Ultra-aggressive and will throw himself in to traffic full of tight ends and linemen. Quick and efficient back pedal. Can make the transition and break in any direction with balance and speed. Effective in press coverage with a strong jab. Smooth turn and run cover man that can hang with any receiver.

Weak Points: Shows a lack of reading ability in zone coverage, late to react when he doesn’t have a man to man assignment. Will mistime his leaps for the ball. Eye-hand coordination is suspect. Will over pursue and lose track of his lane assignments against the run. Goes for the big hit and will not always wrap up the ball carrier.

Summary: Junior entry. 2nd Team All ACC and 2014 National Championship game MVP. Williams has the physical goods to play cornerback at a high level in the NFL. He has the size, strength, and physical style of play to handle any role thrown his way. His ability to beat up a receiver at the line of scrimmage as well as stay in their hip pocket all over the field is heavily sought after. In addition, he can defend with a presence against the outside run. His aggression and ability to move with balance and precision is the exact combination the NFL looks for in cornerbacks.

*Another guy that could have been a 1st round grade if it weren’t for issues off the field. Williams has an aggressive style that could actually fit in to a safety role if need be. His game speed is what I want out of a corner but he is another one that simply didn’t test well at the combine. He has a natural feel for the game, a he might have the best diagnosing ability of all the corners in the class.

8 – Quinten Rollins – Miami (OH) – 5’11/195 – 75

Upside Pro Comparison: Greg Toler/IND

Strong Points: Quick physical reactions to the action. Displays full body control and balance, can twist and turn his body with ease while maintaining speed. Can change direction quickly, plants his foot and explodes out of his breaks. Physical, hands on cover man that can stick to a receiver underneath. Shows the easy hip movement to stick with his man. Recovers well, doesn’t take long to find his balance and pounce back on to the receiver. Strong tackler that will deliver a pop to the ball carrier. Wraps up and shows consistent technique as an open field tackler. Very body aware with the eye/hand coordination to break up passes within his reach. Times his leaps and lunges for the ball well.

Weak Points: Plays a step behind mentally. Takes too long to read the action. Often caught out of position and will spend most plays trying to recover. His mind speed doesn’t match his physical speed. Does not have the long speed to run with receivers downfield. Has a hard time catching ball carries from behind. Lacks the technique of a drop back corner. Poor footwork and will get too grabby.

Summary: Played four years for the Redhawks basketball team and had an accomplished career. Played just one season of football at Miami and really turned it on the second half of the 2014 season. Rollins has the physical ability to be a player in the league, but will fight an uphill battle when it comes to the speed and complexity of NFL passing games. He was visibly a step behind mentally and showed poor footwork on tape, most likely a result of being away from the game for a few years. He has limited speed and may be best suited for a Cover 2 scheme or nickel type role.

*NYG likes to go after players that have a sense of raw upside to their game as a result of a lack of experience. Rollins has exactly that. Because he played only one year of college football after a more-than-solid basketball career, Rollins has an upward arrow after showing a rather-well developed tool set for the CB position. Some are saying he is more suited for safety in the NFL but I would want to see what he can do at CB first. I think he can hack it there if if can clean up mechanics Worst case scenario he can be a nickel-type but a solid one, a spot that is becoming more and more important.

9 – Steven Nelson – Oregon State – 5’10/191 – 74

Upside Pro Comparison: Buster Skrine/NYJ

Strong Points: Explosive in short space, easy acceleration to top speed. Changes direction with all of his balance and body control. Light feet, explosive hips. Brings a physical nature to the field. Willingly throws his hat in to the action as a run defender and consistently wraps up. Reliable open field tackler. Has the speed to stick with speed receivers down field and the agility to stick with quicker receivers underneath.

Weak Points: Doesn’t make a big physical impact in press coverage. Won’t redirect the receiver at the point of attack. Struggles to read routes and quarterbacks. Allows too big of a cushion in zone coverage. Struggles to anticipate the action.

Summary: Spent two years at Oregon State after his first two seasons in junior college. A two time 2nd Team All Pac 12 player. Nelson has the short area quickness and long speed to matchup with any kind of receiver. He is also a physical player against the run, leading the Beavers cornerbacks in tackles two years in a row. He can be trusted in any kind of role on the field and will likely outperform several cornerbacks that are drafted ahead of him.

*Hard not to like Nelson when you watch him. He outplays his size and it’s hard to find plays where he got overmatched physically. Nelson has all the movement you need out of a guy that needs to shadow receivers all over the field. In addition, he may be the best tackler among all the CBs in the class. He is more physical than you would first assume and he takes a lot of pride in his form. He has a limited upside but he can play right away in the NFL.

10 – D’Joun Smith – Florida Atlantic – 5’10/187 – 74

Upside Pro Comparison: Casey Hayward/GB

Strong Points: Smooth and easy mover. Has the balance and body control to stick with receivers all over the field. Changes direction with ease. Good decision maker, very aware and smart. Has a patience about him. Times his breaks well, never seems over-anxious or unsure of himself. Makes plays on the ball consistently. Has receiver type ability when the ball is in the air. Willing tackler and will throw his hat in to traffic. Pursues the action hard.

Weak Points: Small across the board. Lacks height, length, and girth. Played in a lower level of college football and never stood out when it came to speed and quickness. Doesn’t make much of an impact when pressing the receiver at the line. Lacks the upper body strength and hand power to re-direct.

Summary: Fourth year senior. Made his way on to the national radar in 2013 with 20 passes defended and 7 interceptions, both top 3 statistically in the country. Smith is a competitor that shows consistent skills. He is a smart and savvy defender that appears to be a step ahead mentally in comparison to his counterparts. His athletic ability appeared to be good enough at a lower level of college football, but he may need time to adjust to NFL speed. While he lacks a big time physical presence, he can make up for it by playing with his eyes and feet. Could be destined for a nickel role in the NFL.

*Small school corner that looks as smooth as anyone when he’s on the field. I had limited looks at him this past year but it doesn’t take much to notice his easy movement and body control. Smith locates the ball and pounces with minimal wasted motion, something I always look for in CBs. He will need more time than most but I think he has top 5 upside among this CB group.

11 – Alex Carter – Stanford – 6’0/196 – 74

*Physically there is a lot to like with Carter. He’s tall, long, fast, explosive, quick…all of the above. Teams are going to like his package and I think there is a shot he ends up being a top 45 pick, the upside is huge and teams like to take chances on high-end athletes at this position. Carter underachieved at Stanford, though. He doesn’t have the ball skills and he doesn’t anticipate. Worthy of a 3rd rounder for sure but not much earlier. I think he will be on the NYG roster.

12 – Garry Peters – Clemson – 6’0/191 – 74

*Quicker than he is fast, which I am fine with at the CB spot. He may be best suited for the Cover 2 scheme because he can really anticipate throws and routes. It was common to see him jump routes before receivers made their break. If he didn’t miss 2013 with a foot injury, we could have been talking about him as a 2nd rounder.

13 – Donald Celiscar – Western Michigan – 5’11/197 – 73

*Not sure if he is better suited at S or CB. His athleticism can be questioned when it comes to long speed, although he is more than quick footed and balanced enough for CB. I just don’t think he is a good enough tackler or big enough for safety. Celiscar is a great press corner, he can beat guys up at the point of attack and he shows the initial quick movement to stick with guys underneath. He could be a deep liability but I like him enough to warrant a 3rd/4th round grade.

14 – Craig Mager – Texas State – 5’11/201 – 73

*Mager is a package-defensive back that is becoming more and more popular as time passes. He may not be the ideal press corner due to a lack of length, but he can come in and play mix coverages from the slot. He even has some over the top safety coverage skills to work with. I like the ball skills and I like his approach. He can be drafted as a CB but he’ll show the necessary versatility to play multiple roles within nickel and dime packages.

15 – Kevin White – TCU – 5’9/181 – 73

*There is one cornerback that faced off against West Virginia’s WR Kevin White that won the matchup from start to finish. And that is TCU’s Kevin White. Confusing, I know. White is an easy mover with the right blend of patience and aggression. He can run with anyone downfield and stick to anyone’s hip pocket underneath. I think there is a good shot he can outperform several of the guys in front of him on this list.

16 – Quandre Diggs – Texas – 5’9/196 – 73

*After a former favorite of mine Kenny Vaccaro left Texas for the NFL, the belief was that Diggs would step in and take over his role and production. It didn’t work out as planned, as Diggs simply doesn’t have the frame and skill set for safety. He does impress me as a nickel corner though and I think he is going to stick somewhere in the NFL. There is a lot of demand for these smaller, but quicker athletes that can run with the slot receivers underneath. He is limited role-wise but I would trust him as much as anyone in that specific role.

17 – Ifo Ekpre-Olomu – 5’9/192 – 73

*He suffered a serious injury this past December and there is a good chance he will miss some, or even all of the 2015 season. Because of that I had to downgrade him by a few points. Without the injury, Ekpre-Olomu would have been a 2nd round grade. He has natural cover ability and instincts with the necessary make up speed and underneath change of direction. As an athlete, he has everything you want out of a CB. The issue is his size and it does show up on tape when he’s faced off with more physical receivers. He had a couple rough stretches in 2014 but all corners have them. If he comes back healthy he will present good value for where you can get him.

18 – Byron Jones – Connecticut – 6’1/199 – 72

*Jones is one of the best athletes in the country. He stole the show at the combine this year and because of that, some people are putting a 1st round grade on him. I think that is irresponsible. When you watch Jones on tape, and I’ve seen a lot of him, you don’t see anything more than a 4th rounder. He has long speed and size, yes. But he had a hard time sticking with guys all over the field. He shows poor adjustments and reactions and was too often playing a game of catch up. I understand potential based on physical gifts, but he is a clear example of a guy that keeps getting boosted by some people the further away from the actual game you get. Someone will overdraft him.

19 – Doran Grant – Ohio State – 5’10/200 – 72

*Grant lacks a little in the tools department. He isn’t tall or long, and his long speed can be rightfully questioned. What I love about his game and it boosted him quite a bit is the consistent approach he showed to compete. He plays as hard as anyone. He loves to play a physical game at the point of attack and he will tackle hard and consistently. Grant will compete his way on to the field and he’ll create a role for himself somewhere.

20 – Josh Shaw – USC – 6’0/204 – 72

*I really don’t know what to make of Shaw. I had to watch his junior tape because of his year-long suspension as a result of that weird situation last summer. Shaw looks the part, no doubt. But I watched him at the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl and he looked rusty, which was to be expected. But then I watched his junior tape and he looked similar. Kind of stiff and unsure. But every now and then he makes a play on the ball that makes you raise your eyebrows. He has the upside I want but just not sure how long it will take for him to get there. He is risky. Some may view him as a safety.

NYG APPROACH

Cornerbacks are a tough grade to dish out. So much of a player’s success is based on scheme and surrounding players. Sure, you have your elite corners that will excel within any defense, but the majority of these CB prospects will have a wide range of grades across the league. It is very likely a prospect will carry a 2nd round grade in one war room, but a 7th/UDFA in another. It happens every year. This year’s class has a good amount of physical corners that may lack some elite movement ability. Teams that have their corners in a lot of Cover 2 roles will really like this group. What is NYG looking for, though?

NYG doesn’t need a CB, but it’s a spot that should always be added to every year with young talent. It has become such a vital position and there are a few examples around the league where this group has just destroyed a team’s chances of winning games. Personnel wise they don’t need to over-draft any of these guys, but it’s on the list of positions that should be considered. I like the idea of bringing in one of these guys that can possibly project to safety if things either don’t work out, or are too crowded at cornerback. Give me Gunter, Celiscar, or even Shaw on day 3 and I would be happy. There is some talk floating around with people I trust who are not just headline makers that NYG is going to consider Waynes at #9 overall.

Apr 212015
 
Odell Beckham, New York Giants (November 23, 2014)

Odell Beckham and Giants face Cowboys in opener – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants 2015 Schedule Released: The New York Giants 2015 regular-season schedule has been released. The schedule includes two Sunday night games (the season opener in Dallas and a home game vs. San Francisco), two Monday night road games (at Philadelphia and at Miami), and a Thursday night home game vs. Washington.

The Giants will play three of their first five games at home and four of their first six games at night.

  • Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13 – at Dallas Cowboys, 8:30 p.m.
  • Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20 – vs. Atlanta Falcons, 1:00 p.m.
  • Week 3: Thursday, Sept. 24 – vs. Washington, 8:25 p.m.
  • Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4 – at Buffalo Bills, 1:00 p.m.
  • Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11 – vs. San Francisco 49ers, 8:30 p.m.
  • Week 6: Monday, Oct. 19 – at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:30 p.m.
  • Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25 – vs. Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m.
  • Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1 – at New Orleans Saints, 1:00 p.m.
  • Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8 – at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4:05 p.m.
  • Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15 – vs. New England Patriots, 4:25 p.m.
  • Week 11: BYE WEEK
  • Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 29 – at Washington, 1:00 p.m.
  • Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6 – vs. New York Jets, 1:00 p.m.
  • Week 14: Monday, Dec. 14 – at Miami Dolphins, 8:30 p.m.
  • Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20 – vs. Carolina Panthers, 1:00 p.m.
  • Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27 – at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m.
  • Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3 – vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 1:00 p.m.

“This is a difficult schedule that includes many formidable opponents,” Head Coach Tom Coughlin said. “We will face a challenge every week, not only in who we play, but with the different elements of our schedule. In the first six weeks of the season, we play two Sunday night games, a Thursday night game and a Monday night game.

“We open the season in the NFC East at Dallas, which won the division last year. We’re playing some teams that are growing with new coaches. The AFC East includes the Super Bowl champions, a Miami team that just missed the playoffs last year and two teams, the Jets and Bills, which have new coaches. We have an unusually late bye this season, which we will hopefully use to our advantage.”

Giants.com Q&A with Odell Beckham: A video of a Q&A session with WR Odell Beckham is available at Giants.com.

Article on DE Damontre Moore: Giants defensive end Damontre Moore will not attend offseason program while finishing classes by Nick Powell for NJ.com