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New York Giants 2017 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Ends
by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56
WHERE THEY STAND
With the two bookends locked up for the long term, NYG appears to be mostly set at the position. They have young backups that have shown flashes in limited opportunities but is it enough to neglect the position as a whole? Odighizuwa and Okwara are tools-rich but at the end of the day, they haven’t proven much. Kerry Wynn is a hybrid DE/DT that can easily be replaced, but he does make an impact on specials. With the amount of pass rushers this defense tries to get on the field on 3rd downs, you could make the argument that there is a need for another young, fresh pass rusher.
TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS
1 – Myles Garrett – 6’5/262 – Texas A& M: 92
Summary: Third year junior entry. Unanimous All American. Initially called the next Von Miller but will likely finish the grading process regarded higher. If you manufactured an edge defender in a factory it would look and move like Garrett. His tool set is matched with a developed skill set that led to 48.5 tackles for loss and 32.5 sacks over his three-year career. Garrett is widely considered the top prospect in this class and will be a high impact edge defender day one.
*Not much else to say with this kid. He is as talented and possesses as much upside as any defensive prospect I’ve seen. The ability is through the roof and he’s only going to get bigger and stronger. If I had to discuss something negative with him, it would be the fact that he was hampered by lower body injuries a few times and it is a result of not protecting his legs. He can get a little lackadaisical out there and go through the motions. That won’t fly in the NFL. Whatever, this kid needs to be the #1 pick in the draft.
Upside Pro Comparison: Jadeveon Clowney – HOU
2 – Solomon Thomas – 6’3/273 – Stanford: 88
Summary: Third year sophomore entry. Former fie star recruit evolved in to a one man wrecking crew for the Cardinal defensive line. He earned 1st Team All Pac 12 honors in 2016, leading the team with 15 tackles for loss. A plus-plus run defender that shows enormous upside as an interior pass rusher, Thomas has the look of a guy that can be moved around the line to exploit matchups. His best role may be in a 3-4 scheme at defensive end, but his style of play can be used all over. A creative defensive mind could do wonders with him.
*Man I fell in love with this kid in October. Part of me knew back then it was foolish to think he could fall in to the NYG draft plans, and that will be the case. Thomas is actually in the running for #2 overall from what I have heard. He is the ideal outside/inside guy that can take advantage of matchups. He is extremely quick and powerful and plays the game like a pro already with his techniques and awareness. Thomas will work his tail off 24/7/365 for the team that hires him. He might be a special player.
Upside Pro Comparison: Lamaar Houston – CHI
3 – Jonathan Allen – 6’3/286 – Alabama: 85
Summary: Fourth year senior that ended his career with a bang, winning All American honors as well as both the 2016 Chuck Bednarik and Bronco Nagurski Awards. In a league where matchups are constantly trying to be exploited by defensive coordinators, Allen can be a fit in to any scheme. His short area quickness, power, and overall awareness can win most one on one situations. He can do the dirty work but also get plenty done behind the line of scrimmage. Allen is not a traditional edge rusher or interior defender, thus he shouldn’t be treated as one. With the right coach, Allen can be a star.
*I graded Allen out at both DE and DT and he ended up with an 84 at both, so you can put him in either. Allen needs to be watched from start to finish in a game numerous times to get a true appreciation. His ability to move inside and out and be equally effective is something every defensive coordinator wants. He can fill two desired roster spots by himself, very rare. Allen won’t wow anyone with athletic ability and I wonder if it will cause him to drop a little. If there is one guy that I could see dropping out of the top 15, it is him. NYG would be a perfect landing spot for him if that somehow happened.
Upside Pro Comparison: Malik Jackson – JAC
4 – Demarcus Walker – 6’4/280 – Florida State: 84
Summary: Four year senior that started games every season of his career. Capped it off with an All American campaign in 2016, finishing second in the nation with 16 sacks. Walker’s impact was felt both inside and outside, as the FSU coaching staff loved to move him around to exploit matchups and use his high on-field IQ to disrupt the opposing offense. Walker may not have a true every down position, but in a scheme that likes to move guys around, his potential is sky high. He may not thrive as well if someone puts him in one spot every down.
*A very similar version to what we see in Allen. Early in the year, Walker was put on my list of guys that I wanted for NYG. He has some of the most dominating tape of all the defensive linemen line in the class. He had stretches where no lone blocker, guard or tackle, could stick to him. Walker can beat guys so many different ways and the attention to detail is what will make him a productive player in the league. His arsenal is huge. Some say NYG should look at him in round 2. Well I think they should be looking at him in round 1.
Upside Pro Comparison: Derrick Morgan – TEN
5 – Jordan Willis – 6’5/250 – Kansas State: 84
Summary: Three year starter and team captain. Lauded for his intangibles by long time Head Coach Bill Snyder. Winner of the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2016. Willis does a lot of the little things right and his top tier intangibles are what every coach wants to work with. He playing strength and power presence are a notch below NFL caliber right now. His relentless pursuit of the ball and ability to get to the action consistently can get him on the field, however. In time he will need to show strength and size gains to hack it as an every down player in the 4-3 scheme. As a 3-4 outside rusher, his talent may not be enough to warrant starting roles.
*Like Walker, Willis is a guy I think NYG should be looking at with the 23rd pick. His upside is bigger, as I think he is a guy that will add 15+ pounds to his frame pretty quickly. Willis is such an all around, diversely talented defender that also carries all the intangibles you want in a young player. I think this would be a nice stop for him because he won’t be forced in to action right away. Let him add some weight to take on NFL blockers and refine some moves, and in time his presence will be felt. Remember, a third DE is borderline vital to a defense’s success.
Upside Pro Comparison: Demarcus Ware – RET
6 – Derek Barnett – 6’3/259 – Tennessee: 83
Summary: Third year junior entry. Only player in SEC history with three straight 10 sack seasons. 29 of his 33 career sacks came against SEC opponents. Barnett takes over games for stretches and seems unblockable at times. His hand power and lower body strength consistently give him the initial advantage over blockers and he can finish them in multiple ways. Barnett won’t win any awards in workouts nor does he look the part of your typical top tier defensive end prospect. He lacks the length and speed, but his on-field IQ and well-developed technique can make up for any physical shortcomings that he may have. He is a consistent three-down threat that shows passion and fire for the game. He will find ways to impact the game weekly.
*If any f you have kids that play football, show them some Barnett tape. He plays the game as hard as anyone from start to finish each week. He is short on tools and talent when it comes to comparisons to the other top guys in this class, but he gets the most out of himself. A case can be made that this kid is going to struggle against the sheer size and speed of NFL tackles. Effort helps, but we are talking about different breeds of pass blockers in the league. Even with that in mind, Barnett is a guy worth looking at should he fall in to the Giants lap.
Upside Pro Comparison: Terrell Suggs – BAL
7 – Tanoh Kpassagnon – 6’7/289 – Villanova – 78
Summary: Fifth year senior. Top tier intangibles and off field intelligence with an educational background that is rare. On the field, Kpassagnon showed steady improvement throughout all five years at Villanova. After tearing his MCL in 2014, the light clicked and he was named to the 1st Team All Colonial Athletic Conference Team. In 2016, he took it to another level and was named an FCS All American. His blend of tools and intangibles don’t come around often. Plain and simple, he may be a risk but he offers a level of upside that very few do in this entire class at a premium position.
*It’s hard not to fall in love with this kid when you initially watch him. He is a very rare prospect. The tools are top tier, his intangibles are there, and he had some dominant stretches at the Senior Bowl. If he can take in NFL coaching and strengthen his core up a bit, he’ll be a difference maker. I still think there is an outside shot at him sneaking in to round 1 because of he hits the upside, watch out.
Upside Pro Comparison: Carlos Dunlap – CIN
8 – Daeshon Hall – 6’6/260 – Texas A& M: 78
Summary: Four year contributor that made a full time position move from outside linebacker to defensive end in 2015. Hall still has some rawness to his game but the tools and ability cannot be overlooked. He has some of the best natural talent and overall upside in the entire class. His strength needs to catch up to his weight gain but when it does, every other trait is ready to go. Hall has uncanny bend-ability and straight line explosion, making him a nightmare for any blocker. His versatility as an inside-outside rusher could really get a defensive coordinator excited. Enormous upside.
*I’ve been back and forth on Hall a few times. Whenever I would scout Garrett, I kept noting that the guy on the other side of the line was quite the tools-rich prospect himself. They looked like two NFL DEs playing against college kids. Upon further review, I noticed that Hall lacked a physical presence when engaged with blockers. He didn’t get much push and struggled to disengage from quality players. I really saw this at the Senior Bowl. Re-watching some of his game tapes I noticed some of the same things. His talent and upside are high, but I wish I saw some more physical play from him. This is a guy NYG will have a high grade on.
Upside Pro Comparison: Michael Johnson – CIN
9 – Taco Charlton – Michigan – 6’6/272: 76
Summary: Charlton was a rotational, situational player up until his senior season. He was a late bloomer but took full advantage of his opportunities as a senior, finishing third in the Big Ten with 10 sacks, earning 1st Team All Conference honors. It’s hard to believe that a player with this tool set took this long to make the impact. His triangle numbers are some of the best in the class and the skill set is on the way up. The upside here is enormous and he could see more progress than most, as his uptick has only just begun.
*One year starters always have to worry you, but there were a few stretches during the season where I was going to have Charlton with the top 3-4 guys in the class at DE. If you are looking at these guys in pads and watching them get off the ball, Charlton has the goods. He looks like JPP and even showed some flashes of playing like him as well. There is some information that he wasn’t a hard worker, wasn’t very coachable. Little bit of a red flag but at some point you have to give in to the upside he presents.
Upside Pro Comparison: Jason Pierre-Paul – NYG
10 – Ifeadi Odenigbo – Northwestern – 6’3/258: 76
Summary: Fifth year senior that was forced in to a redshirt n 2012 because of a shoulder injury. Over the next three seasons, Odenigbo was a pass rush specialist that showed flashes, but he never quite took over every down duties. He added 15 pounds prior to his senior season and broke out, finishing 2nd in the Big 10 with 12 sacks. There is a blend of strength, quickness, and pro-caliber technique here that coaches will love when scouting him. He has day 2 potential.
*It took me awhile to get around to Odenigbo, as he never quite stood out when I scouted Anthony Walker (LB). But as the pre-draft process transpired, I noticed a guy that was very controlling of blockers and athletic enough to out-move his opponents. He is a very smart, very effective every down player. He looks like a solid rotational DE that can evolve in to a starter.
Upside Pro Comparison: Olivier Vernon – NYG
11 – Takkarist McKinley – UCLA – 6’2/250: 75
Summary: Two year starter for the Bruins after spending a year in junior college then a year as a backup. Earned 1st Team All Pac 12 honors in 2016 after finishing second in the conference in both tackles for loss and sacks. High upside prospect that shows glimpses of tools that are tough to come by. McKinkley is a plus-straight line athlete that has some of the best speed of all pass rushers in the class in addition to the strength to play a stout role against the run. A true every down impact type player. There is a skill set that needs to be developed though, as he shows several inconsistencies from a technique point of view. He needs to prove he can stay healthy, as well.
*He is a hot name but I think his better fit is in the 3-4 scheme. I don’t think he is a guy that will come in and make the every down impact as a 4-3 DE, nor do I think he warrants a high pick as a specialty player. He has some good get off and uses leverage to turn the edge, but he is a very beatable player. He’ll be gone before I would consider him.
Upside Pro Comparison: Demarcus Lawrence – DAL
12 – Derek Rivers – 6’4/248 – Youngstown State: 74
Summary: Three time 1st Team All Missouri Valley Conference defender. Leaves Youngstown State as the program’s career sack leader with 38.5. Rivers is a high upside prospect but will need time to mature his body. He needs more weight and strength so that he can deal with NFL tackles and avoid simply getting locked on to upon contact. There is a combination of tools and skills here, however, that is difficult to find. His ability to play low, fast, quick, and explosive can make a tackle think twice about being a step late out of his stance. Rivers is a top notch kid that will bring a chip on his shoulder in to the league. 3-4 teams will especially be interested.
*Again, a guy that needs to be graded much higher if you are a team looking for a 3-4 OLB. Rivers isn’t the ideal fit for NYG but this is a guy that plays more physical than his size but also has the short area burst to put any blocker on his heels. This is one of my favorite early day 3 options but recently heard some teams have a top 32 overall grade on him. I can see why, but very dependent on scheme.
Upside Pro Comparison: Whitney Mercilus – HOU
13 – Tim Williams – 6’4/244 – Alabama: 74
Summary: Played four seasons for Nick Saban, really contributing for his final two. 2nd Team All American in 2016 and was the top edge rushing threat for the nation’s top defense. Williams has the straight line burst and agility to make him a nightmare for tackles to get their hands on. He showed that he is more than an athlete in 2016, however. His rush move repertoire took a step up as he diversified his approach to reaching the passer. His ideal fit would be a 3-4 rush linebacker. The drug and gun issues are major red flags however, thus he will have a lot to answer in the pre-draft process.
*I had a higher grade on Williams, but point blank this guy is gonna have trouble staying away from failed drug tests. I hope I’m wrong because he has the kind of talent every team, no matter the scheme, is looking for on the edge. He can burst and bend with the best in this class and we aren’t talking about a string bean. Williams was one of the most powerful lower body lifters at Alabama. He can be a big time impact player in the right role if he stays clean.
Upside Pro Comparison: Bruce Irvin – OAK
14 – Ejuan Price – 5’11/241 – Pittsburgh: 73
Summary: Sixth year senior. Began his career as an inside linebacker but then missed serious time with multiple chest and back injuries. He missed the entire 2012 and 2014 seasons, respectively. After a move to defensive end, Price became one of the most productive defenders in the country over the past two seasons. He ended up on multiple All American teams in 2016 in addition to two straight 1st Team All SEC placements. Price will be overlooked by many because he lacks some of the “vital” tools. However he is OCD about his technique and understands how both mentally and physically beat a blocker. He is a nightmare for tackles to handle. There are lot of tricks up his sleeve and he understands how and when to use him.
*I don’t think I have ever graded a sub 6-foot defensive higher than the UDFA tier. But I’ve seen Price as much as any prospect in the class I think he is probably the most consistent player on this list.. Sure, there will be limitations and he may struggle to be an every down player, but for where you can get him in the draft and what he can do in specific situations, I think he is worth looking hard at day 3. Price is powerful, hard to get a hold of, and incredibly advanced when it comes to pass rush techniques. I can see a lot of production with him if he lands in the right spot. 4-3 DE may not be that spot, but I wouldn’t hesitate to give him hard look.
Upside Pro Comparison: James Harrison – PIT
15 – Tarrell Basham – 6’4/269 – Ohio: 73
Summary: Was having a very solid career until he really blossomed as a senior, winning MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors in addition to setting Ohio’s all time career sack record with 29.5. Basham has a lot of tools and skills, in addition on-field aggression, that every team wants in their pass rush repertoire. He needs to develop certain vital components, namely agility and flexibility, before he can be labeled a difference maker in the NFL. His top tier intangibles, glimpses of dominant tape, and a solid Senior Bowl week should give the notion he is heading in that direction.
*There were some whispers early in the pre draft process that Basham was going to be a first rounder. Those talks have been tempered but I still think he will end up in the second day. I’m not as high n him, as he really just beat up on mediocre talent. Some of the tools are there but when you put him on the field as the other legit prospects, he looks pretty average. I think he is a solid option for a rotational defensive end.
Upside Pro Comparison: Ryan Kerrigan – WAS
BEST OF THE REST (15-30)
15 – Dawuane Smoot – 6’3/265 – Illinois: 73
16 – Hunter Dimick – 6’3/272 – Utah: 72
17 – Charles Harris – 6’3/253 – Missouri: 72
18 – Carl Lawson – 6’2/261 – Auburn: 72
19 – Trey Hendrickson – 6’4/266 – Florida Atlantic: 72
20 – Deatrich Wise Jr – 6’5/273 – Arkansas: 69
21 – Fadol Brown – 6’4/276 – Ole Miss: 68
22 – Josh Carraway – 6’3/242 – TCU: 68
23 – Keionta Davis – 6’4/270 – Chattanooga: 68
24 – Al-Quadin Muhammed – 6’3/253 – Miami: 68
25 – Bryan Cox – 6’3/265 – Florida: 68
26 – Collin Bevins – 6’6/285 – Northwest Missouri State: 67
27 – Garret Sickels – 6’3/261 – Penn State: 67
28 – Ken Ekanem – 6’3/257 – Virginia Tech: 66
29 – Tashawn Bower – 6’5/250 – LSU: 66
30 – Avery Moss – 6’3/264 – Youngston State – 66
I am split on what NYG should do with the position. Part of me says they have their two starters locked in long term, they have upside-based, talented backups and a guy that can move around a bit. With that in mind, use their picks to build other areas of their roster that lack depth. But man, I look at this DE class and I see so much talent that I want on this roster. There are a handful of guys that bring the kind of versatility that Spags loves to use on passing downs. I ask myself the question, if one of the starters goes down with an injury, what’s the outlook? I have a negative perception at that point and because of that, I think NYG can look for the DE value at any point in the draft and if its right, go for it.
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