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New York Giants 2017 NFL Draft Preview: Guards/Centers
by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56
WHERE THEY STAND
As I said in my OT preview, serious resources have been put in to this group. When it comes to the interior guys, Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg were 1st and 2nd round picks respectively. The former will be a free agent next offseason and the latter has been more down than up so far in his career. At right guard, John Jerry was brought back on a 3-year deal but with that said, it’s an easy contract for the team to get out of after one season. As I said when he was signed, I think the signing of DJ Fluker to a one year deal had more RT intentions as Bobby Hart isn’t a guy you want in the starting lineup. The long term future of the interior is very much up in the air and you could make the argument none of these guys will be here next year. Pugh is worth keeping around but the contracts guards have been getting free agency have to make you think.
TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS
1 – Forrest Lamp – 6’4/309 – Western Kentucky: 84
Summary: Fifth year senior that started all four years. Has been their left tackle almost from the beginning of his career, capping it off with two straight First Team All Conference USA nominations. Lamp will likely have to move inside at the next level, where his size won’t be as much of an issue. His style of play may not be ideally suited in there because of a lack of moving power, but he proved against some of the best competition college football had to offer that he can simply get it done. Maybe never a star, but Lamp will be a solid starting caliber interior lineman for a long time.
*There may not have been an OL that performed better against Alabama than Lamp all year, and I mean that. He dominated Jonathan Allen, a guy that is destined to be a top 10 pick. His body control and consistency are as impressive as it gets in this draft class. Upside? Well he may not be an All Pro type, but I think he is as safe as you will find at the position. Can he shift outside in a pinch? I think so but I believe you are drafting this guy to be a rock inside for 10 years. NYG should consider him at 23.
Upside Pro Comparison: Zack Martin – DAL
2 – Cam Robinson – 6’5/328 – Alabama: 83
Summary: Junior entry. Nick Saban’s first ever true freshman full time starter at left tackle in 2014 never looked back and ended his career with unanimous All American Honors in addition to being the winner of the Outland Trophy (Nation’s top lineman) and Jacobs Blocking Trophy (SEC’S top lineman) respectively. If he can shore up some lower body technique issues, he is a top grade starter in the NFL. There could be some debate he is better suited for guard at the next level, but either way he is an immediate upgrade to almost every offensive line in football.
*The debate with Robinson is OT or OG and after all the hours I’ve spent on him, I still don’t have a hard answer. In terms of NYG, this is what I think. He is worth considering at #23 and he could be a week 1 starter at RG. I think NYG fans underrate Jerry but I’ve always thought Robinson has the upside of an All Pro, yes All Pro OG. He has things that NEED to be cleaned up though and I did take a few points off his grade for the gun issue last year. From all accounts I’m told he’s not a bad kid, but the gun stuff is almost no tolerance for me. Anyway, if Robinson dominates at guard, you’re set. But I do still believe there is high upside here at left tackle should NYG be looking for a new one in 2018. His balance in space is worrisome, but it can be corrected I think. That said, I wouldn’t draft him in round 1 to start at LT in 2017. RG? Sure.
Upside Pro Comparison: Kelechi Osemele – OAK
3 – Dion Dawkins – 6’4/314 – Temple: 81
Summary: Three year starter, mainly at left tackle, that ended his career with a First Team All-American Athletic Conference season. Dawkins has a little bit of raw still found in small areas of his game, but he has steadily improved each season of his career. Showing that he is very coachable and still very much on the rise. He has a natural and always-present level of power that you simply cannot teach. His future is likely at guard or right tackle in the league. If his technique continues to improve, he is a quality starter with some dominant traits.
*Some people see a left tackle here, I don’t. I think he is too sloppy and gets too top heavy. I think Dawkins has the upside of a Pro Bowl guard, year in and year out. What I want to see is a guy that has more consistency from quarter to quarter, as almost every one of my game notes have remarks concerning his difference in technique within the same contest. Conditioning may be his biggest issue and that can be corrected. Power, coachability, and short area athletic ability are all NFL-ready. Dawkins is another guy that could compete for a starting job week 1 at RG for NYG. And yes, there is some RT potential here as well, although I think his best fit is inside.
Upside Pro Comparison: Joel Bitonio – CLE
4 – Isaac Asiata – 6’3/335 – Utah: 80
Summary: Sixth year senior. Put his career on hold for a church mission trip in 2012. Finished his career with a 2nd Team All Pac 12 nomination. Cousin to Minnesota running Matt Asiata. When looking at the more physically imposing linemen in this draft, Asiata’s name is near the top of the list. He can move guys like few can and his experience at right tackle as well as both guard spots will only increase his grade. His struggles are athletically based but he has shown enough there to convince teams he can at least be a credible, versatile backup early on.
*I’m not sure we are looking at an elite-upside player here, but I think he can start early in his career and be a rock inside for years. Asiata will handle NFL power presence the second he steps on the field and for the rest of the guys below his name on this list, that will be the issue for most of them. It is an overlooked part of scouting interior guys in my opinion. They need to be able to anchor and not give up ground. Asiata will do that right away and he is a good enough mover to be a factor on trap blocks. Can he be a weapon in space? I’m not as confident but that’s not a factor the way it used to be.
Upside Pro Comparison: Mike Iupati – ARI
5 – Dan Feeney – 6’4/305 – Indiana: 79
Summary: After making several Freshman All American teams in 2012, Feeney sat out 2013 with a foot injury. After that, he went on to become a two time team captain, All American, and anchor of the Hoosiers offensive line. Hs future is inside in the NFL, but he did fill in a right tackle when the team needed him to in 2016. Feeney gets by on good initial contact and high on-field IQ. He understands important nuances to protecting the passer and staying on his man as a run blocker. His best fit is in a zone blocking scheme where a team can let him move laterally and not have to drive defenders backward.
*Feeney may not be the ideal fit for every scheme, but I think some teams will end up with a 1st round grade on him. He gets out of stance exceptionally well and shows proper mechanics/technique consistently. He came in to the year as my top guard, and the only guys that “passed” him weren’t on my guard board entering the year other than Asiata. Classic blue collar prospect that won’t ever be a star blocker, but you know what you are getting.
Upside Pro Comparison: Andy Levitre – ATL
6 – Dorian Johnson – 6’5/300 – Pittsburgh: 78
Summary: Former blue chip recruit began his career as a tackle, but was moved inside and blossomed in to a First Team All American by the end of his career. Johnson is the frame and foot quickness to excite anyone when pondering is long term potential. He has all the tools and more than enough quality tape to be the top guard in the class. He showed several glimpses of dominance across the board and proved he could be the guy a team relies on week in, week out. With some added man-strength and power, he could be a perennial Pro Bowler.
*For most of the year, Johnson was my top rated guard without the official grading process. From the naked eye, he has it all. A nice frame, excellent footwork, and a pair of hands that can control blockers. I do wonder if some teams are looking at him as a potential RT because he does have experience on the outside and his frame suggests he can hack it out there. I will say the pre-draft process hasn’t been great for Johnson, however. His workouts have been less than what I thought and he was one of those guys that you have to go back and re-watch tapes. He does struggle with some movement basics but not enough for me to bump him out of the day 2 area. He needs more core strength as well. A nice guy to have on the bench for a year and I think he can be a starter within a couple seasons.
Upside Pro Comparison: Jermon Bushrod – MIA
7 – Ethan Pocic – 6’6/310 – LSU: 75
Summary: 1st Team All SEC center that has also played guard and tackle throughout his career at LSU. Very natural athlete and leader for the position. Pocic won’t ever be a dominant force inside but he can hold his own and make a plus-impact as a lateral blocker. Teams with zone blocking schemes will have a good outlook on him.
*Probably the thing I like the most here is Pocic could likely play all over the line. I’m not sure I would want to enter the season with him starting right away, as he needs to add some strength to his game, but he would ease some confidence in the picture as a versatile backup. Pocic moves very well and he is really smart. Two traits you want to see at center. Can he handle an NFL bull rush? Maybe next year.
Upside Pro Comparison: Matt Birk – RET
8 – JJ Dielman – 6’5/309 – Utah: 75
Summary: Fifth year senior. Cousin to former Pro Bowl guard Kris Dielman. Dielman was the team’s starting right tackle in 2014 and 2015, earning 2nd team All Pac 12 honors as a junior. For the sake of the team and because of what was on Utah’s roster, Dielman made the move to center for his senior year. He accepted the role nicely and played a solid 5 games before suffering a season ending leg injury. He appears ready for action and could be viewed as a starting caliber center prospect.
*Dielman was catching my eye early in the year every time I watched Asiata. He got off the exceptionally well and did a nice job with his hands. He wasn’t a guy that was really moving people, but he was able to stick to defenders and the dude played really hard. I like his ability as a mobile center but he may struggle against NFL power.
Upside Pro Comparison: Weston Richburg – NYG
9 – Danny Isidora – 6’3/306 – Miami: 74
Summary: Fifth year senior. Ended his career on a 39 consecutive start streak. Lacks some of the ideal physical traits and abilities, but Isidora was a guy that constantly got the job done. He didn’t always make it look pretty, but he’s a fighter will NFL caliber power right now. Limited upside but has some starter potential down the road.
*Not much to say about Isidora other than the fact he was a guy that just almost never got beat. The catch is, it rarely looked pretty. And I know, who cares what the bug uglies look like and to a point I agree. But I think there may be some technique issues that NFL defensive linemen will be able to constantly take advantage of, whereas in college the kids didn’t know the game well enough. He would be a depth upgrade for most teams, but you aren’t getting a starter right away here.
Upside Pro Comparison: John Miller – BUF
10 – Kent Perkins – 6’5/326 – Texas: 73
Summary: Three year starter that finished his career with a 2nd Team All Big 12 honor. Perkins split time between right tackle and right guard, shown the kind of versatility teams look for in the middle of the draft. His power presence and surprising foot speed could get him on the field sooner that players drafted ahead of him. Perkins has serious short area pop but lacks consistency when it comes to technique and balance. The two are tied together and with proper coaching and progression, he could be a starter early in his career. His ideal fit is likely at guard but could be a backup to the outside spots as well.
*His 2015 tape was much better than what I saw in most of 2016, but I think he dealt with some lower body injuries and his size, it really hampered his play. Perkins is a JV version of what we see out of Dawkins and Robinson. Doesn’t match their upside but I do think he is worth taking a chance on day 3. He has the ability to be a starter, a good one, if things fall right and he applies himself.
Upside Pro Comparison: Quinton Spain – TEN
11 – Pat Elflein – 6’3/303 – Ohio State: 73
Summary: Fifth year senior. Two year starter at guard and finished his career off with a season full of starts at center, a position he was an All American at. The three time 1st Team All Big 10 lineman is a terror to deal with when he gets his hands inside. He is very powerful and efficient when engaged. He was a high level wrestler in high school and he plays the game like one. He doesn’t excel athletically in space, as there is plenty of tightness in his hips when he moves laterally, but if you can keep him at center he will get the job done much more often than not.
*He’s the top center on most boards from what I’ve heard but that won’t impact by day 3 vie of him. He is really solid in tight spaces but more and more we see centers having to move around a bit. I don’t think he can handle NFL speed and quickness. He does play stronger than his listed size but if power is one of his strengths, it’s not strong enough.
Upside Pro Comparison: Corey Linsley – GB
12 – Jordan Morgan – 6’3/320 – Kutztown: 73
Summary: Former walk on for a Division II program. Played left tackle and earned All American honors two straight years. Winner of the Gene Upshaw Award, given to Division II’s top blocker. Morgan is making a huge jump in competition, but his if his day to day improvement in Mobile is any indicator, he is a diamond in the rough once he adjusts to the playing speed in the NFL. The tools are there, he will simply need time to take in coaching and experience.
*If there was one player that I felt had the biggest progression from Tuesday to Saturday at the Senior Bowl, it’s Morgan. His power presence and ability to pop a defender off the ball was always present, but early on his couldn’t stick to anyone and kept losing his balance. Fast forward to later in the week, including the game, and we saw a kid that was able to beat anyone in one on one matchups. There is a ton of margin for this kid to gain. Day three pick because he won’t help out year one, but I think there is some starter in him down the road.
Upside Pro Comparison: Gabe Jackson – OAK
13 – Nico Siragusa – 6’4/319 – San Diego State: 73
Summary: Fifth year senior. Two time First Team All Mount West selection. Road grader that can excel in a power run scheme. Showed that he can handle strength and power with a natural ease but struggles with any sort of quick twitch defenders that can play low and fast. Siragusa projects as a backup that needs work on foot quickness and mechanics.
*Again, some people really like this guy and consider him a day 2 pick. Teams looking for a road grading type (NYG) may be looking hard at him. Siragusa can hack it as a run blocker week 1, but there are too many holes in his game as a pass blocker for me to consider him anything more than a day 3 backup.
Upside Pro Comparison: Ronald Leary – DEN
14 – Chase Roullier – 6’4/312 – Wyoming: 73
Summary: Fifth year senior that played two seasons at guard before making the transition to center for his senior season. The team captain earned 1st Team All Mountain West honors in 2016. Roullier gets the job done inside against any kind of defender. He is very effective in a phone booth. With his combination of lower body strength and quick hands, he has the potential to start at center down the road.
*I got to see a lot of Wyoming this year and Roullier was one of the more consistent blockers, albeit against a lower level of competition. He plays really aggressive and smart, two things you want from a center. He will have a hard time early on adjusting to the size and strength of NFL DTs, but in time he may be able to hack it.
Upside Pro Comparison: Russell Bodine – CIN
15 – Ben Braden – 6’6/329 – Michigan: 71
Summary: Fifth year senior with starting experience at both tackle spots and left guard. His size and athletic ability can be suited for inside and outside spots in the NFL, although he was most comfortable at guard. The 2nd Team All Big 10, blue collar blocker has a limited but high floor type ability. He doesn’t take over any one on one matchups, but he does consistently get the job done. Versatile backup that could give some potential as a starter down the road.
*I like Braden because I feel you know what you will get. I scouted the Michigan offensive line as much as any in 2016, and Braden was the most consistent. Never the best, never dominating, but he was the same guy every week. That is a nice trait to a player when teams are looking for backups. He has a great frame and could likely be a #7 OL on a team week 1.
Upside Pro Comparison: David Diehl – RET
BEST OF THE REST (15-30)
16 – Jon Toth – 6’5/305 – Kentucky: 71
17 – Max Halpin – 6’3/295 – Western Kentucky: 71
18 – Travis Averill – 6’3/304 – Boise State: 71
19 – Collin Buchanan – 6’5/316 – Miami (OH): 71
20 – Kareem Are – 6’6/325 – Florida State: 70
21 – Geoff Gray – Manitoba – 6’5/319: 69
22 – Sean Harlow – Oregon State – 6’4/303: 69
23 – Tyler Orlosky – 6’3/298: 69
24 – Jermaine Eluemunor – 6’4/332 – Texas A& M: 68
25 – Adam Pankey – 6’5/316 – West Virginia: 68
26 – Erik Magnuson – 6’4/303 – Michigan: 67
27 – Zack Johnson – North Dakota State: 67
28 – Nate Theaker – 6’5/315 – Wayne State: 67
29 – Kyle Fuller – 6’5/315 – Baylor: 66
30 – Damien Mama – 6’4/325 – USC: 65
The closer the draft gets, the more I think NYG is strongly considering using #23 overall on a starting right guard. Yes, it would be yet another 1st/2nd round pick on the OL, but when looking at what this is struggling with the most, it may be necessary. If Lamp or Robinson is there, I wouldn’t be at all surprised or disappointed if NYG went in that direction. Jerry, although liked by the coaching staff, is really only locked up for one year when considering the buyout option. In addition, drafting someone like Robinson or Lamp (or even Dawkins) gives them options. They can play guard or tackle if need be, and who knows what the Justin Pugh contract situation will be like next offseason. As I always say, a bad O-line can absolutely ruin an otherwise fine team. The interior needs to be addressed with one of the first 3-4 picks.