New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Guards and Centers
by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56
*These rankings and grades are based somewhat on NYG schemes and perspective.
WHERE THEY STAND
A lot of attention is put on the tackles and what NYG needs there. However if you go back and watch the games from last year where the offense was really struggling, you’ll notice the guards were getting dominated. John Jerry is slated to start as of now and he is simply not a starting caliber player in this league, especially the WCO. Justin Pugh has been solid since his move to LG but one can even question his long term fit within the offense. You can call him a keeper for now but when his contract is up and the agent starts chirping in his ear, we may quickly turn on just how good he is. Is he a guy you want to commit a lot of money to? It is debatable now. Weston Richburg put together a very solid sophomore season. As of now he is probably the one guy on this OL that NYG can count on for a long time. The depth leaves a lot to be desired. Bobby Hart could have a future but as of now his upside is that of a versatile backup..
TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS
1 – RYAN KELLY – 6’4/311 – ALABAMA: 81
Fifth year senior and three year starter. Consensus All American and Rimington Trophy winner, given to the nation’s top center. Has all the ability and intangibles that you want out of a center. Very smart and savvy, made all the line calls and some will tell you he was responsible for Coker’s turnaround late in the year. He is a brilliant player. Kelly excels at the point of attack. He can anchor himself against power defenders, as he is rarely pushed back. He also excels at reaching across gaps as a zone blocker and remains strong on the move. Kelly is a day one starter in the league that will be around for a long time.
*Kelly has a 1st round grade on my scale. Even though NYG appears to be set at center for now, I still view Kelly draftable in round 2 because he has the tool set to play guard. He can play at 310+ with ease and he has the necessary movement skills to play there. Having an extra guy that can play the center role at a high level never hurt anyone either. He is a darkhorse favorite for the Giants 2nd round pick.
Upside Pro Comparison: Marshall Yanda/BAL
2 – CODY WHITEHAIR – 6’4/301 – KANSAS STATE: 79
Fifth year senior. Has played plenty of tackle and guard during his career. Smooth and easy mechanics with consistent footwork and hand placement. Rarely caught out of position. Good reactions and anticipation. Has the smarts to put himself in position. Easy balance and body control. Delivers a violent and controlling initial punch. Natural bender at the knees. Has played plenty of guard and tackle. Needs to anchor his position better against power rushers. Loses some ground when forced to handle the bull rush. Struggles to recover when initially beat. Projects to the inside at the next level.
*Whitehair has the look of a pro when he is on the field. He has NFL ready feet and hands, something really uncommon. My issue with him is a lack of controlling upper body strength that you want guards to have off the snap. He is more of a guy that stays in front of his man rather than push them out of the way. Could be a better fit for the zone blocking scheme which works well with NYG. Whitehair can start week 1 and give an extra emergency left tackle on the team.
Upside Pro Comparison: Justin Pugh/NYG
3 – REES ODHIAMBO – 6’4/314 – BOISE STATE: 78
Fifth year senior and three year starter. Originally from Kenya. Played left tackle for the Broncos and ended up on the 1st Team All Mountain West team in 2015. Very good footwork and flexibility. Combines the necessary athletic ability with tenacious effort and hustle. Keeps his hands on and feet driving through the whistle and will overwhelm defenders. Will over commit to his initial reads and lose track of his weight distribution. Can be caught leaning. Has missed time three years in a row due to injury.
*If it weren’t for the points I took off his grade because of the injuries (most recently a broken ankle), Odhiambo would be competing with Kelly for the top spot on this list. I believe in this kid if he can stay on the field. If you want to know what kind of style I look for in offensive linemen, notably inside, watch this kid. He is a fighter. He wants to dominate defenders and he can do so with his feet and hands. Very well balanced athlete that will make a move inside and thrive. His grade will be very dependent on medicals, however.
Upside Pro Comparison: Zack Martin/DAL
4 – SPENCER DRANGO – 6’6/310 – BAYLOR: 78
Fifth year senior and four year starter. Two time All American with 48 career starts for the Bears. Drango may be best suited for guard in the NFL when considering how he moves and his lack of ideal length. He is a power blocker that shows consistent technique and strength. His game is NFL-ready and the versatility will only help his outlook. Drango may lack some of the ideal lower body agility, but he is a smart and savvy player with tremendous strength. He is a starter in the NFL right away that should have a long career as long as he can adjust to playing in a three point stance more often.
*Some people that I really respect don’t think Drango can make the transition inside. I think he can but I wouldn’t doubt his ability to play tackle, either. I ultimately graded him as a guard but having him here only gives NYG more options to work with down the road. Drango is a physical bruiser that will find ways to get the job done. Doesn’t always look the part but I would have no issues with him in a week 1 starting lineup. He has man strength and a ton of experience blocking against quality defensive linemen. He’ll be a high floor player.
Upside Pro Comparison: Trai Turner/CAR
5 – NICK MARTIN – 6’4/299 – NOTRE DAME: 77
Fifth year senior and three year starter and left guard. Brother to Cowboys star OL Zach Martin. Injured his knee in 2013 that forced him to miss the final 3 games. Gritty player with a never-stop motor. Gets his hands on and will keep his feet moving through the end of the play. Always in the right position. Rarely flagged for penalties. Crafty blocker that will out-perform defenders far more talented than him. He won’t get a ton of movement at the point of attack. Speed rushers can bother him and he will get lost in space at times. Might not have the major upside you want but his floor is higher than most.
*During the season I wasn’t buying in to the Martin hype. I thought people liked him because of his brother and because of Mayock never shutting his mouth about how good he was. The more I watch, the more I appreciate though. His talent is average. His size is average. But Martin just doesn’t get beat often. If you chart guys out, I bet Martin grades out higher than most of the OL in the draft. Now, playing mostly center helps that but he deserves credit. He is a 2nd rounder in my book that could play guard, but would be better at center.
Upside Pro Comparison: Kory Lichtensteiger/WAS
6 – CONNOR MCGOVERN – 6’4/306 – MISSOURI: 77
Fifth year senior and four year starter. Played RT, RG, and LT for Missouri. Excellent athlete between the sidelines with elite strength. Quick out of his stance and shows the ability to stick with linebackers in space. Comfortable bender. Strong punch that brings elite weight room power to the field. Smart player that has played three different positions during his college career. Brings consistent technique each play. Can be fooled by stunts and blitzes. Has holes in his game as a pass protector. Fails to anchor his feet in the ground. Susceptible to powerful, low to the ground defenders.
*Justin Britt. Mitch Morse. Now Connor McGovern. These are all guys from Missouri that I had 2nd round grades on during the season that nobody wanted to talk about. It looks like people have caught up on McGovern because some have told me he could be a top 45 pick. If you want a zone blocking guard, McGovern needs to be on your short list. This guy can play. He may need a year to get acclimated back to guard in an NFL scheme, but long term I think he has a future as a staple for an offense in zone schemes.
Upside Pro Comparison: JR Sweezy/TB
7 – JOSH GARNETT – 6’5/312 – STANFORD: 76
Two year starter and team captain for the Cardinal. A typical Stanford interior blocker with elite run blocking ability that lacks the essential footwork in pass protection. Garnett will show flashes of dominance when he can fire out of his stance and run block. He has overwhelming power presence when he gets his hands locked on. The issues arise when he asked to adjust to speed rushers and move in space. He needs time to refine his mechanics but there is natural ability here that could be starting in the NFL within two years.
*I was off on my David Yankey grade a couple years ago. I am trying to not let it affect my outlook on Garnett who is coming from the same position and from the same school. They have similar playing styles and have eerily close workout numbers. I do want to keep Garnett in the 2nd/3rd round discussion however because he plays with tremendous pop on the move. That was Yankey’s weakness along with pass blocking struggles. Garnett bends better and shows more versatility inside. I think he can be a starter in most schemes right away but may not have the upper tier potential.
Upside Pro Comparison: Larry Warford/DET
8 – JOE DAHL – 6’4/310 – WASHINGTON STATE: 76
Fifth year senior. Played a year at Montana prior to transferring to Washington State. Dahl has a lot of experience, starting one year at left guard and two at left tackle. He lacks ideal size and bulk but in time, Dahl has the potential to starter in the NFL. He is very good mechanically from top to bottom. There is some pop out of his hands and he understands how to use his feet to his advantage. Once he gets stronger and more comfortable in the three point stance, he can be a steady contributor inside. For a player that had minimal three point and run blocking experience in college, he proved to be one of the best blockers at the Senior Bowl. There is some hidden talent and potential here.
*Another college left tackle that will most likely make the move inside. Dahl is also coming from a 2 point stance offense. He will need time but I think he has the tools and skills that coaches want to work with. He’s listed at 310 but I but he played at well under 300. He thrived at the Senior Bowl and I think he can be a very good player in a year or two if he works hard enough.
Upside Pro Comparison: TJ Lang/GB
9 – ISAAC SEUMALO – 6’4/303 – OREGON STATE: 75
Fourth year junior entry. Missed the 2014 season while healing from a broken foot which required two surgeries. Was a highly touted high school recruit. Seumalo has experience all over the line, mostly at center. His future is definitely inside at the next level but the versatility will only help. Seumalo has average tools but his intelligence and initial power stand out. If he can clean up technique flaws in space, he has the upside of a solid starter. He needs time to work those kinks out.
*If it weren’t for the nasty foot injury that kept him off the field in 2014, Seumalo would have finished in the top 5 of this group. What stands out the most here is the versatility. He played 4 out of 5 spots along the line and I think he can he the valuable 6th linemen on any team with the upside of being a starter. I’d like to see more strength and second level blocking ability but with his intelligence and approach, I think he can get there. He isn’t a sexy name but he can stick in this league.
Upside Pro Comparison: Andy Levitre/ATL
10 – VADAL ALEXANDER – 6’5/326 – LSU: 75
Fourth year senior that started all four years for the Tigers. Played mainly LG and RT. Mammoth frame with all the length and functional weight one could ask for. Shows a natural feel for blocking. Smart and good reactions based on mental awareness and savvy reads. Overwhelming upper body power. Can lock a defender up and render him unable to move. Has experience at both guard and tackle. Stiffness in space can be exposed by good double moves. Will be late to react when forced to continually moving laterally. Hinges at the hips too often.
*I’ve been back and forth on Alexander. I had to watch him a lot to get my final grade on him and I think this is where he belongs. That 3rd/4th round tier. He will be ready for the power of the NFL trenches right away but I see the quickness and change of direction really bothering him. He is a hit or miss guy that will either overwhelm everyone he touches or will be a step too slow to stick with the speed based defenders. He has some ugly tape, really ugly. But the majority of his snaps are plus-marks. Tough guy to peg.
Upside Pro Comparison: Orlando Franklin/SD
11 – DOMINIQUE ROBERTSON – 6’5/324 – WEST GEORGIA: 75
Has had a bit of a roller coaster ride throughout his college career. He started off at junior college, then on to Texas Tech, and then finished out at Division II West Georgia, where he played left tackle. He doesn’t have the feet to play outside. His balance in space is weak and he gets caught leaning too much. As a run blocker he showed dominant traits at a lower level of college football and teams will look at that frame and short area power with wide eyes. He has a high ceiling.
*Robertson is probably my top OG/C sleeper that is off the radar of most. I think he can be considered in that 3rd/4th round area but some people say he is an UDFA only. He is raw and won’t help much early in his career, but I think this kid has tools that you want the developmental prospects to have. The question is, is he worth a roster spot early on? Because if you think he is, you need to be ready to put him in the game in most cases.
Upside Pro Comparison: DJ Fluker/SD
12 – GRAHAM GLASGOW – 6’6/307 – MICHIGAN: 73
Fifth year starter with 37 career starts. Had a drinking/partying problem early in his career but appears to be clean now. Quick feet to make adjustments and reactions. Smart, heady blocker that can make line calls. Gives an aggressive, powerful punch. Anchors well against power, can chase down speed in space. Versatility is a plus with his experience at guard and center. Tough kid with an angry playing style. Has the frame for more weight. Better run blocker than pass blocker. Will lose his pad level and foot speed when protecting quarterback. Hand placement is inconsistent.
*Glasgow is a tall interior player but he bends well and showed very good footwork everywhere I saw him. He is an athlete with a frame that should be able to hold more weight easily Ever since Harbaugh came to Michigan, this kid’s game shot up big time. I think he will respond to the NFL pretty well and someone is going to get a good late round value on him. I think he can start down the road, possibly anywhere on the line.
Upside Pro Comparison: Chris Watt/SD
13 – CHRISTIAN WESTERMAN – 6’3/298 – ARIZONA STATE: 73
Fifth year senior. Spent two years at Auburn, playing in just one game. Two year starter for the Sun Devils. Westerman has top tier weight room strength. His body just screams NFL guard and his skill set doesn’t need a lot of development in comparison to other prospects. He is close to being ready for the pro trenches. He lacks the top end upside however. He doesn’t move guys and seems be overmatched when up against speed and quickness. He has backup ability but limited potential.
*A lot of guys have Westerman in the top 5 of this group. As you can see I don’t have huge gaps between him and the guys up there point wise, but I just don’t see the upside here. He gets beat too much for my liking and for such a strong weight room guy, he really doesn’t move people. He can be a guy that helps a team early on but I don’t think he’ll be a rock anywhere. He may be near his peak performance.
Upside Pro Comparison: Josh Sitton/GB
14 – JAKE BRENDEL – 6’4/303 – UCLA: 71
Fifth year senior. Four year starter that has been a team captain since his redshirt sophomore season. One of the top centers in the Pac 12. His weaknesses are not something I want to see at the position. He is often late out of his stance and he has a hard time playing low and strong. Brendel is going to struggle with the combination of speed and power you see from NFL defensive tackles. He is smart, very experienced, and knows the mental side of the game very well. But there will need to be a fair amount of physical development before he can be relied on. Late rounder.
*Brendel has developmental backup written all over him. I don’t think he is stout enough to handle the NFL trenches but he does have movement ability. He can get out of his stance well but he doesn’t make the impact you want. He’ll be drafted and teams in need of a backup zone blocking center may have a higher grade on him. I don’t see position versatility though.
Upside Pro Comparison: Mike Person/ATL
15 – DOMINICK JACKSON – 6’5/313 – ALABAMA: 70
Fourth year senior that transferred to Alabama in 2014. Only started one year at RT. Tough and hard nosed player that will play hard through the whistle. Gets his hands inside and will keep his pad level down. May not have the feet for the outside, just doesn’t protect the pass well enough. He is at his best when run blocking, showing ability to do well at the second level. He lacks upside but has the potential to be a reliable backup.
*I’ve liked Jackson all year. These sneaky guys that don’t play much at major programs but do well in their limited opportunities intrigue me. If Jackson was a 4 year player at a lesser school like Tennessee, I think we could be viewing him as a 3rd or 4th rounder. Jackson lacks the adjustment ability to pass block defensive ends but I believe in him as a guard prospect. He is worth taking a look at day 3.
Upside Pro Comparison: Andrew Norwell/CAR
THE REST (16-25)
16 – LANDON TURNER – 6’4/330 – NORTH CAROLINA: 70
17 – COLE TONER – 6’5/306 – HARVARD: 70
18 – JOE THUNEY – 6’5/304 – NC STATE: 70
19 – ALEX REDMOND – 6’5/294 – UCLA: 67
20 – SEBASTIAN TRETOLA – 6’4/314: 66
21 – MAX TUERK – 6’5/298 – USC: 66
22 – MATT SKURA – 6’3/329 – DUKE: 66
23 – ALFREDO MORALES – 6’3/316 – TEXAS TECH: 65
24 – DENVER KIRKLAND – 6’4/335 – ARKANSAS: 65
25 – DARRELL GREENE – 6’3/321 – SAN DIEGO STATE: 63
NYG needs to add an OG talent to this team before the season starts, whether it is through leftover free agency or the draft. As I said earlier, Justin Pugh is set for the next few years at LG and Weston Richburg can be a long term C, especially in this offense. That RG spot could potentially be a glaring hole with no solution in sight. Ryan Kelly in round 2 would be a consideration for me. Sure, he played C at Alabama but he has the skill set for OG and he is more than smart enough to make a simple move. But if you want to go elsewhere with that pick, it could be fine. I think this OG/C group is one of the deepest in the draft when it comes to the day 2 and early day 3 prospects. I think NYG can get a guy with any one of their picks in rounds 2-5 that could factor in year one. One or two of these guys will fall I think. Again, like OT, you are playing a risky game by hoping someone falls but you’re gonna have to do that with a few positions when you only have 6 picks. There are starters in this group, I think a lot of them.