New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Analysis
by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56
For those that don’t know, every year I make picks for NYG based on their current roster in real time. No going back and seeing who was available when. Make a pick for NYG at that time, and compare them years down the road. Keep in mind this is something to do for fun, and nothing more. This isn’t an attempt at bashing Reese nor am I touting myself as a “better evaluator” than who NYG employs. It’s simply a different spin on evaluating draft classes. For the record this is one of the best draft classes I think we’ve seen since Reese has been the GM, but only time will tell.
ROUND 1 – ELI APPLE – CB/OHIO STATE – 6’1/199
Third year sophomore entry. Former top tier high school recruit started 27 of 28 games for the Buckeyes. Apple has the tools and has shown enough performance to make coaches believe he can be a top tier cover corner in the NFL. The height and length in combination with his loose hips and quick feet make him a threat against any kind of wide receiver. He showed the ability to make plays on the ball and has the aggression to consistently get involved in the action. Apple needs to clean up certain man coverage technique issues in addition to more understanding of pre-snap reads. Teams will take a gamble on his upside but all signs point towards him being a very productive corner in time.
*I had a high grade on Apple. He was a top 11 overall player on my board and one spot behind Vernon Hargreaves on the CB board. This pick was not a reach by any means. Lets get that out there. Apple would have likely been a top 15 pick no matter what after what I’ve heard. And it doesn’t look like anyone made a legit offer to NYG for a trade down, so there cannot be any bashing there. What is NYG getting here with Apple?
Apple has the prototypical triangle numbers for today’s CB position. He is tall, long, and really fast. He shows great movement in all facets and you have to think he has some of the highest upside among all the CBs in this class. He shows a nice feel for man coverage and can easily change direction. He is probably the best turn and run CB in the class. I wouldn’t call him a project, but there is a small sense of raw-ness to him. Apple is not a smooth play-on-the-ball guy. There are some technique issues that can be cleaned up, but he also doesn’t have that quick eye to hand coordination in comparison to a Hargreaves. He struggles to find the ball sometimes. In addition, I think Apple needs to get stronger. You can get by in the NFL by not being an overly physical CB, yes. And he does have an aggressive nature about him but it doesn’t take long to notice he has no physical presence. He isn’t a good tackler and he gets pushed around too easily. If he could really commit to getting stronger and improve his press presence and technique, you could have something special here. I expect Apple to be their nickel CB week 1. They will move Jenkins inside and put Apple on the outside in this situations, I think. Down the road, he could replace Cromartie when they release him, which could be this time next year. Very good pick here by Reese and company.
**WHO I WOULD HAVE PICKED**
VERNON HARGREAVES – CB/FLORIDA – 5’10/204
Junior entry. Consensus All American and three year starter. It’s hard to find holes in Hargreaves’ game. His ability to move, make plays on the football, and anticipate the action are all top notch. He has elite body control and agility. The combination of skills and talent make him a top tier cover corner prospect. His lack of physical presence shows up on tape often, however. He doesn’t carry his pads very well and will need to prove he can jam bigger receivers at the point of attack and also handle the contact in jump ball situations. Hargreaves has elite potential and may be the safest among the top defenders in this class.
*I said before the draft that I expected Hargreaves to fall out of the top 9. He was sitting right there for NYG and even though I really wanted him, I’m not surprised they passed, as he simply isn’t the triangle-number corner that Reese usually wants. Ironically, just as Aaron Donald did 2014, Hargreaves ended up going right after NYG picked. Tampa Bay selected him at #11 overall.
The reason I wanted Hargreaves was a little short-term based. While I think he will be a good CB in the league for a long time, I thought his skill set fit in perfectly with what NYG really needed in their defensive backfield over the next two years at least. Hargreaves is made for the slot CB position. And as we all know, teams have 3 corners on the field more often than they do not in today’s NFL. Hargreaves isn’t that tall, he isn’t long, and his deep speed is pretty average. What I like, however, is the ability to react and change direction. Hargreaves can stick to anyone’s hip pocket and even better, he makes plays on the ball with ease. He has elite level ball skills and understands how to twist and turn his body without getting flagged often. Down the road I will say that if Hargreaves reaches his ceiling and Apple reaches his, Hargreaves ends up on the lesser side of the comparison. These guys are different players with different tools but in terms of immediate help and a higher floor, I think Hargreaves would have been the better pick. But by no means was the margin anything noteworthy.
ROUND 2 – STERLING SHEPARD – WR/OKLAHOMA– 5’10/194
Four year senior and three year starter. Has elite slot receiver potential. Shephard has all the movement ability to run himself open underneath but also the strength and toughness to factor in traffic. He has made plenty of receptions in traffic and shows no hesitation doing so. He has very good concentration and ball skills. Shepard will surprise defenses with his ability to run deep routes and make catches on the vertical move. His work ethic is second to none and the attention to detail is what makes receivers get to the next level in terms of production and consistency. Shepard may be limited to slot duty in the NFL, but it’s a role that almost every team is using more and more each year. He has a bright future.
*There are a few angles to this pick. I think the first one is a hedge to what happens with the comeback of Victor Cruz. When week 1 comes around this season, it will be almost 2 full years since Cruz last played an NFL game. Even if he does comeback strong, there is certainly room for the two of these guys to get their looks beyond Beckham. Just as important, the NYG passing attack appears to be short and quick in it’s ideal state. Having multiple slot receiver types is never a bad thing in that kind of scheme. And third, NYG needs players that can make things happen on their own. Shepard is the ideal pickup for this offense.
I think the impact that Shepard will make is going to immediate. If he stays healthy I think we are talking about a guy that gets on the field right away in three-receivers sets. His ideal role will be in the slot, where his elite-level change of direction and burst can be used a lot in this offense. He will be a tough guy to cover. Shepard is more than a quick-footed small guy though. He actually ran some tough routes in the Oklahoma scheme. It wasn’t just one cut-slants and hitches. He has experience running double and triple routes at a high level. Oklahoma actually put him outside quite a bit and that’s why I think he can work in this offense even if Cruz comes back strong and takes some snaps from the slot himself. That’s why I see some Doug Baldwin and even a little Steve Smith (BAL) in him. This kid competes hard down the field and will come down with a lot of catches in traffic. Now he is limited by size and he isn’t very strong either. There will be things he can’t do and NYG will know that. But this kid is a threat to get open on every single play and I bet he ends up being used by Manning often when 5-8 yards are needed. He is also very savvy when plays break down. The kid finds holes and creases to run through when his QB is scrambling but still looking to throw. The icing on the cake is what he offers after the catch with his ability to make guys miss. He will also provide NYG with an extra solid punt returner. Good chance Shepard leads the 2016 rookie WRs in receptions this season.
**WHO I WOULD HAVE PICKED**
STERLING SHEPARD – WR/OKLAHOMA – 5’10/194
ROUND 3 – DARIAN THOMPSON – S/BOISE STATE: 6’2/208
Four year starter. Leaves school as the Mountain West Conference’s all time leader in career interceptions with 19. He is equally comfortable and effective in space and approaching the line of scrimmage. His smooth movement and decisive actions constantly put him where he needed to be against both the run and pass. He lacks a big physical presence and he isn’t a top tier athlete, but he gets the most out of what he does have. There are legit ball skills here. The numbers are supported with his play.
*After watching what transpired over the first half of Friday night, knowing the current NYG roster situation and what Reese likes to do in the draft, I had a strong feeling NYG would go safety. Vonn Bell was selected towards the end of round 2 and even though I think NYG really wanted him, they were pleased to get the ballhawk Thompson. They have a lot of mediocrity at the position now and I think the hope is these guys are gonna compete hard for the starting spot next to Landon Collins and one of them will really rise to the top.
Speaking of competing hard, I think that’s what NYG is getting out of Thompson more than anything. This kid attacks the ball carrier downhill as hard as anyone. I wouldn’t call him an elite run defender or power presence, but he gets the job done. He will make the open field tackle and he will send a jolt to a running back with a head of steam. Some will look at his size and interception numbers and immediately fall in love. Thompson deserves credit for making plays, absolutely. He has good ball skills and will often be in the right place at the right time, not by sheer luck like some defensive backs. I didn’t have a low grade on Thompson at all, but there are holes in his game that concern me. Thompson is almost too aggressive. He spends a lot of time moving in the wrong direction, meaning he is easily fooled by play action and double routes. Being aggressive got him places and you don’t want to completely turn it off. But Thompson will need to prove that he can, at times, show a more conservative approach or else the deep end of this defense is going to get burned. Thompson doesn’t have the makeup speed to chase down NFL WRs from behind, so he will have to really be careful if he wants the coaches to trust him as a starter.
**WHO I WOULD HAVE PICKED**
JUSTIN SIMMONS – S/BOSTON COLLEGE – 6’2/202
Fourth year senior and two year starter. Has experience at safety and cornerback. 2nd Team All ACC in 2015 led the Eagles with 5 interceptions while racking up 67 tackles. Versatile skill set that allows him to be an every down force no matter the situation. Explosive from a standstill and will close that ten yard window as fast as anyone. Finishes plays off with force and reliable wrap up tackling. Has cornerback-caliber coverage ability when me mans a receiver up. Shows good instincts and reactions as a zone defender. Will need to add some bulk to his wiry frame if he sustains his style of play in the physical-ness of the NFL. Needs to simply add more body control to his coverage movement. High upside prospect.
*Simmons is a guy I didn’t dive too deeply until late in the process. I didn’t scout his game tapes until late January, right before the combine. I jotted down a bunch of notes applauding his change of direction and short area explosion. Then, in Indianapolis, he tore it up. This kid is a bit of a freak athlete with really high upside. He ended up being picked #98 overall and I thought it was one of the better value grabs of day 2.
What I like about Simmons in comparison to Thompson mainly has to do with his decision making and overall awareness of whats going on around him. It can take awhile to see this in a safety because of the amount of games you need to watch, but Simmons can change his style of play on a whim based on game situations. You really don’t see that often enough and its something I look for when scouting safeties. Simmons also has ideal triangle numbers for the position. He is tall and pretty long with elite-level agility and explosion. He is a good decision maker and proved to be a guy that can cover in multiple roles and make plays on the ball. I think Simmons’ has the kind of ceiling that could make him one of the top safeties in the game. We aren’t talking about a huge project, either. He could use a little more strength and bulk over time, but Simmons would be good enough to start right away for NYG. He is smart and works hard on and off the field. I’ll follow his career closely.
ROUND 4 – BJ GOODSON – LB/CLEMSON – 6’1/242
Fifth year senior. Was a backup and special teamer for 2-plus years, with only one and half season of starting experience. Goodson is an interior enforcer that can play equally tough against blockers and ball carriers. His stoutness and short area power make him a tough assignment for any blocker and his ability to finish plays can be an asset to a defense looking for run defending help. Goodson lacks the ideal athleticism for every down duty, but he has shown to be at least competent in zone coverage and has enough range to play at least two downs in the NFL. Not a fit for every scheme and/or role, but he can be a core special teamer and run defender.
*As the rounds go on, it is always less and less likely I will want the same player as NYG. Goodson was a name I talked about pretty much from round 3 on and even further than that, I’ve been talking about wanting this guy for the past 4 months. Goodson is a player fans will absolutely love to watch, especially as I expect him to be a special teams guy early on in his career. If you have been around here for awhile, you know I’ve been begging for new talent at LB for years here. It is a position I think still has a ton of value and I also believe their lack of talent there has been a huge reason why their defense has been torched in recent years.
Goodson could project at any of the three LB spots in this scheme. I think he is best suited for weak side because he works in space better than he does in traffic. Goodson is really fast in pursuit. I mean, really fast. He can reach the opposite sideline with ease and he could thrive as a back side pursuer. Goodson is a consistent finisher as well, meaning the kid doesn’t miss tackles. If he gets his hands on the ball carrier, it’s over. He doesn’t drag or trip up, he drives himself through the chest of his target. Good, form tackling has become a lost art in the NFL and I truly believe it plays a role in the increase in scoring among other variables. Will Goodson start right away? I doubt it. But I think he will be the fourth LB that backs all three spots up if he can pick up the playbook. By season’s end, I think he’ll be starting whether the injuries pile up or not (to the starters). That said, I’m not sure he is a sure-thing to be a 3 down guy. He moves well in coverage but he really isn’t someone that will stop a Jordan Reed or Jason Witten-type. He is a read and react guy, not so much someone you want moving backwards trying to anticipate throwing lanes. He will offer something as a blitzer, however. Overall probably my favorite pick of the draft here and I think he will be a 100+ tackle guy year in, year out once he gets the starting job.
**WHO I WOULD HAVE PICKED**
BJ GOODSON – LB/CLEMSON – 6’1/242
ROUND 5 – PAUL PERKINS – RB/UCLA – 5’10/208
Fourth year junior. Team’s leading rusher in 2014 and 2015 seasons respectively despite battling a nagging knee injury this past fall. Perkins may not have the body or running style to be an every down back, but his ability to make something out of nothing cannot go overlooked. He has the rare, hard to find ability to stop completely change direction while moving at full speed at anytime. His top end speed and lack of size may limit his touches week in week out, however he is a prime candidate for a committee approach. If he can find an offense that needs someone to offset a between the tackles, chain moving bruiser, Perkins will excel.
*Another pump of the fist as the selection was announced and to be quite honest, I was surprised. Not by the grade and value of the pick, but I wasn’t so sure Reese would look at RB in this draft. He has put a lot of resources in the position over the past few years and all those guys are still on the roster. I think this means Andre Williams or Orleans Darkwa will be pushed off the team at some point in August because in all honesty, I think Perkins immediately becomes the best RB on this team. He just won’t be an every down guy, at least not right away.
What stands out the most with Perkins is the ability to change direction while moving at full speed. I’m talking near 180 degrees in the middle of his stride. If Perkins were playing two hand touch football, he’s excel because it gets to a point where tacklers literally can’t even get their hands on him at times. He has extremely light feet and excellent vision. Perkins doesn’t need a lot of room to create something out of nothing and if there is one gripe I had about the NYG RBs as a whole before the weekend, it was exactly that. They all struggled to create. Perkins likely starts off the year at the bottom of depth chart but at the end of the day, McAdoo will have a hard time keeping him off the field for long. We aren’t talking about just a scat back, either. Perkins is an effective, tough, hard nosed blocker. There are countless notes where I have “++” marks next to the blocking and toughness portions of the grading sheets. Perkins also has really good hands and catches the ball on the move seamlessly. Lastly, Perkins doesn’t fumble. There really isn’t much not to like here other than the fact that he won’t be a big time tackle-breaker. He would benefit from a real dedication to NFL weight training because he is too easily altered by defenders. Perkins may not start, but he is a guy you want on the field as much as possible.
**WHO I WOULD HAVE PICKED**
SPENCER DRANGO – OT/BAYLOR – 6’6/315
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.
*One of the bigger draft weekend surprises for me was watching how far Drango fell on day 3. I thought he had a good shot at being a 3rd rounder, but I was way wrong. He ended up going #168 overall (5th round) to Cleveland. I went in to the weekend thinking NYG could have really used another blocker to add to the mix, especially on the right side. At this point in the draft, however, you have to know that you are looking for depth, not a starter. It’s not the smartest approach to enter round 5 of a draft looking for a starting offensive lineman. I think that is partially why NYG overlooked the position group and opted for playmakers with high ceilings. You really can’t knock that approach because an argument can easily be made that there are available veteran FAs that will fill the need along the OL much more so than a 5th round rookie.
*That being said, I believe Drango would have been exactly what the doctor ordered for the NYG offensive line. He wouldn’t come in and start, I know that. But what I like here is that he could project to be a backup to multiple spots in this scheme. His main issue, however, is that he played in an offensive scheme where more often than not, he was not asked to hold on to his blocks and he didn’t play much out of a three point stance. Blocking in the NFL would have been a completely different process from the start for Drango, thus its possible he wouldn’t even be an option to step on the field in 2016. But man, this guy started 48 games and early in his career everyone was calling him a future first rounder. He didn’t progress the way many of us thought he would but there is no denying that he can play. Size? Check. Power? Check. Strength? Check. Lateral movement? Check. Drango will need time to adjust to the pro blocking style and he could use some more body control work. But his main issues I think are null if he is moved inside. Drango will be a starter in the NFL within 2 years, I’m confident with that. The debate might be where he ends up but in the mean time I think he is a valuable 6th lineman that every team wants.
ROUND 6 – JERELL ADAMS – TE/SOUTH CAROLINA – 6’5/247
Fourth year senior. Has a freakish frame and shows flashes of being an absolute terror to cover. Size and speed are there. Looks like he is easily adding the needed bulk to his frame. Adams is still considered a raw prospect that is long on talent and tools, but short on skills. He still shows awkward movement in short space at times. Adams is a high effort player that can get up the seam in a blink and easily catches the ball with his hands. He doesn’t make a big impact as a blocker but he gets after his man hard. He bends well and he knows how to use his long arms. Adams has the upside to be an all around tight end if he can continue to add weight and refine his route running. There is an upside here that very few tight ends possess.
*I want to say something about this pick really quick. Prior to the draft and after the selection I noted there were some red flags with him. People in his own camp were down on him during the pre-draft process but there was nothing legal-related there. I have zero interest in being a loser-media guy that gets off on reporting false news just so I can get attention. Rappaport, Miller, Myers….go ahead and have fun with that stuff. I am simply relaying information that was given to me that could perhaps give color on why such a talented kid could drop despite one of the weakest TE classes in years. There is nothing earth shattering here information-wise. Adams is a good kid by all accounts, but I was told he didn’t work hard off the field and he made the same mental mistakes repeatedly. Maybe his position coach sucked? Maybe someone had an axe to grind? Maybe he is a slow learner? Whatever. But I think there is legit reasoning why he dropped but none of it has to do with his ability or legal issues.
Back to the fun stuff, NYG got a major steal here in round 6. I really was ready to give him the #2 TE spot on my board at one point. He is that good and he not as developmental as some people will tell you. He is the fastest TE in this draft on the field by a pretty good margin and he has almost 35 inch arms on a 6’5 frame. That is just a freakish combination. This kid has the potential to be a matchup nightmare for linebackers and defensive backs. He can really get up the seam in a hurry and he knows how to use his body to shield defenders from the ball. He has legit make-you-miss ability with the ball in his hands after catch as well so this is yet another weapon added to the offense that can make something out of nothing. What I like the most about Adams is the level of effort he shows on game day week after week. This kid plays hard. He hustles and is constantly looking for more whether he ‘s blocking or running with the ball. Combine that with the gifts we talked about earlier and you could easily make the argument that the right surroundings can mold this kid in to star. He is a guy to be really excited about. Adams will need to bulk up a little and he has the frame to do so. If they can keep his work-light on, Adams will be a starting caliber, every down threat within 2 years. I’m not sure he will see the field much in 2016 but I wouldn’t immediately toss the idea out the window. I think he will have more impact than Jared Cook has had on the league and McAdoo might see a pre-injury Jermichael Finley here.
**WHO I WOULD HAVE PICKED**
CHARONE PEAKE – WR/CLEMSON – 6’2/209
Five year senior. Came to Clemson as a top tier high school recruit but failed to break in to the consistent rotation in Clemson’s consistently star studded wide receiver groups. Peake finally got his every down opportunity in 2015 and thrived, finishing second on the team in both catches and yards. Peake has tremendous body control and ball skills. He is the kind of receiver that does not need to be open in order to be thrown to. He can beat most defensive backs in 50/50 situations.
*I think I had a similar train of thought here as Reese and Ross. Sure, you could have added a body for depth along the trenches but at this point, is there really someone out there that is better than what you already have? And better than what is available on the market? I’m not so sure. I think tbe better decision was to add a potential playmaker to an offense that, at the end of the day, really only has one guy on offense that scares people. On a team full of small-ish receivers, Peake stood out to me as a guy that has the tools this position group lacks. Height, length, speed and strong hands. A combination that this team has always looked to obtain.
I’ve been pretty vocal about Peake and his upside. I was very surprised to see him drop towards the middle of round 7 to the cross town rival Jets. He checks off a lot of boxes when trying to narrow down a list of WRs worth going after. He is tall and fast. He plucks the ball out of the air with strong hands and runs crisp routes. He changes direction well and will make tough catches in traffic. He had a couple knee injuries earlier in his career and it really made it hard for him to break in to the WR rotation at Clemson. If you take a step back and look at the talent that school has had at that position during Peake’s career, one can understand why it was hard to get the looks he may have gotten at a school like North Carolina, Boston College, Auburn….etc. Peake is going to have a much better pro career than what we saw in college, I’m confident in saying that. His tools are there and the skill set is more developed than a lot of WRs coming out. I think Manning misses having a big, long target to loft the ball to near the end zone. It’s a pass he’s had plenty of success with in the past but there simply isn’t a guy on this roster that can get up after it. They have tried with Donnell in the past with some success but I’m not sure he will be the guy Manning trusts. Perhaps Adams can turn in to that guy but I think Peake would have been a great fit for this team.
NYG Draft Class
1 – Eli Apple – CB/Ohio State
2 – Sterling Shepard – WR/Oklahoma
3 – Darian Thompson – S/Boise State
4 – BJ Goodson – LB/Clemson
5 – Paul Perkins – RB/UCLA
6 – Jerell Adams – TE/South Carolina
Sy’56 Draft Class
1 – Vernon Hargreaves – CB/Florida
2 – Sterling Shepard – WR/Oklahoma
3 – Justin Simmons – S/Boston College
4 – BJ Goodson – LB/Clemson
5 – Spencer Drango – OT/Baylor
6 – Charone Peake – WR/Clemson