Apr 092018
 
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Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (March 2, 2018)

Quenton Nelson – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Guards and Centers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

1 – Quenton Nelson – Notre Dame – 6’5/325

Grade: 85

Strong Points:

-Overwhelming size, power, and force immediately upon contact
-Relishes the role of an enforcer/bully on the field
-Very high IQ player, reacts to blitzes and stunts with ease

Weak Points

-Gets top heavy, making himself susceptible to the double moves
-Too reliant on upper body drive
-Feet get stuck in pass protection, doesn’t keep them active after engagement

Summary:

Fourth year junior. Widely proclaimed as the best OL in this class and I do agree, but not by the margin some say he is. Nelson is a dominant force that can win any 1 on 1 matchup power-wise in the NFL right now. But I am not sold on him as a pass blocker just yet, as there are tendencies with his footwork and leverage that concern me. If he cleans those areas up, and he certainly has the ability to do so, he will be a top tier OG right away. But if he doesn’t, guys like these can be maddening to watch.

NFL Comparison: Kelechi Osemele / OAK

2 – Braden Smith – Auburn – 6’6/315

Grade: 85

Strong Points:

-Sustains his block through the whistle, almost always
-Plays low, strong, and quick, excellent knee bend and ability to adjust
-Easy puller that is as comfortable in space as he is in traffic

Weak Points:

-Needs to develop more lower body power, the bull rush has given him issues
-Initial punch doesn’t deliver a jolt to defenders
-Will need time to adjust to a much more complex scheme than his college days

Summary:

Three year starter. 2 Time All SEC 2nd Team and 1st Team in 2017. With the versatility Auburn requires of its OL, Smith has seen time at both guard spots in addition to RT. No matter where he is, he plays with consistent technique from head to toe and a relentless style that is found going through the whistle. Smith is a superb athlete, among the best in the class along the OL, and constantly plays wit his feet moving and knees bent. Rarely would you ever see him not win the leverage battle. Smith could use more lower body strength and drive but he will be an immediate upgrade for almost every year at OG and maybe even OT.

NFL Comparison: Kevin Zeitler / CLE

3 – Martinas Rankin – Mississippi State – 6’4/308

Grade: 82

Strong Points:

-A boulder against the bull rush, gives up nothing
-Accelerates after contact, gets in and stays in control
-Very smart, capable of making line calls

Weak Points:

-Tight ankles, struggles to pivot and re-direct
-Doesn’t recover well in space
-Can lumber out of his stance, needs more explosion and quick reacting

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Spent two years in junior college before redshirting at Mississippi State in 2015. Played left tackle for two years but almost made a full tie move to OC in spring 2017. Rankin likely projects inside at the next level, where I can see him being a week 1 starter. The power presence is elite, his work in tight areas is very good, and his intelligence is some of the best in the class. I’m not sure he is the best athlete to pull out of his stance and lead block, but that can be hidden in some schemes. He is a week 1 starter and a solid emergency LT in case of injuries.

NFL Comparison: Cody Whitehair / CHI

4 – Isaiah Wynn – Georgia – 6’2/313

Grade: 81

Strong Points:

-Some of the best and most consistent techniques of all the OL in this class
-Foot speed is a plus, always under him providing balance and easy agility
-Hands are accurate and heavy

Weak Points:

-Less than ideal frame, short arms and small hands
-Recovering from shoulder surgery
-Struggles to fluidly move laterally as a pulling blocker

Summary:

Fourth year senior that has seen a balanced amount of time at guard and tackle. 2nd Team All American tackle in 2017. Played most of his senior year with a shoulder labrum tear and had surgery in January. Many think he will be a full-go by training camp. Wynn doesn’t exactly look the part, but back in October I said this guy was going to be a first round caliber guard and I am sticking to it. His best performances came against his best competition, something I love to see. He just wins and wins and wins. There is a chance you see him slide because of his less than ideal measurements, but this guy will be at least a very solid pro, I am confident in that.

NFL Comparison: Shaq Mason / NE

5 – Billy Price – Ohio State – 6’4/305

Grade: 80

Strong Points:

-Dependable snap to snap, week to week, month to month
-Smart and savvy, like an extra coach on the field
-Good initial punch and can usually keep his hands locked inside

Weak Points

-Struggles when initially beat, lacks the catch up quickness
-Doesn’t get enough separation with his upper body
-Lateral movement will be a struggle against speed

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Went on to start every game of his career (50+) at both guard and center. Probably can play either in the NFL but I think his best spot is OC. After all those consecutive starts, Price went and tore his pec during the Bench Press at the combine. Not a very quick injury to come back from but he should be ready sometime in August. It can hamper his rookie year, as he may need time to build himself back up. Price is a little short on athletic talent, but he is so savvy and understanding of where he needs to be. There are holes that can be exposed, but you know he can at least anchor against any bull rush and you know he will be an extra coach on the field. I don’t see a star, but I see a guy that will bring the same, solid level of play week in, week out.

NFL Comparison: Ryan Jensen / TB

6 – James Daniels – Iowa – 6’3/306

Grade: 79

Strong Points

-Top tier athlete post-snap, can reach defenders that most simply cannot
-Easy and natural mover at the second level
-Does everything right, from technique to line calls

Weak Points:

-Struggles against the power bull rush from big tackles
-Attaches himself to defenders, but won’t get a lot of movement
-Doesn’t react to different twists and stunts fast enough

Summary:

Junior entry. Most of his experience as been at center, but he has seen some time at OG. Daniels is a superior athlete compared to the other centers in this class. He can reach defenders off the snap that most cannot, his initial burst is rare. He is only 20 years old and one has to assume he is going to gain the power presence he needs in the coming years. In some schemes, he is a week 1 starter. In others, he may need a year.

NFL Comparison: Jason Kelce / PHI

7 – Frank Ragnow – Arkansas – 6’5/312

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Man among boys for long stretches, and that is in the SEC
-Keeps his hands inside with his feet chopping, technique on point
-Very good straight line, planned movement athlete

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t always react to late quickness and speed fast enough
-Pad level gets a little high
-Balance gets shaky when he is in space

Summary:

Three year starter that has played OC and OG. Some teams are looking at him strictly as an OG. I like his mental and physical presence at center. He is an extra coach on the field and brings the professional and reliable approach weekly. Ragnow has been dominating the SEC for three years. While I do see some weaknesses in his game when it comes to foot speed and leverage, I think he is the kind of guy that adjusts well and is able to always figure it out. Starter early in his career with a limited upside.

NFL Comparison: Travis Frederick / DAL

8 – Skyler Phillips – Idaho State – 6’3/324

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Strong initial punch, stands the defender up and gains control
-Gets movement on contact and will work hard to get more
-Shows good lateral movement to mirror pass rushers

Weak Points:

-Adjustments when it comes to footwork are lacking
-Over commits on his initial punch and will get caught leaning
-Hand placement gets inaccurate in pass protection

Summary:

Four year starter with experience at tackle and guard. I didn’t get to see much of Phillips until after the season and I had a few moments where I thought he was going to end up with a 1st round grade on my sheet. He is a dominant level run blocker in traffic and in space, and the experience he has at tackle does carry over in to a high ceiling as a pass blocker. He may struggle with how quickly he needs to adjust in the NFL but if that is a smooth transition, he is a top caliber guard. He could be a nice value-get in round 3 if NYG doesn’t go OL in round 2.

NFL Comparison: Larry Warford / NO

9 – Cole Madison – Washington State – 6’5/313

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Mobile and athletic footwork, can stick with speed and quickness
-Excellent mirror in pass protection, stays under control and balanced
-Accurate hands with a heavy punch

Weak Points:

-Has a steep learning curve ahead of him coming from the WSU scheme
-Doesn’t use enough leg drive as a run blocker
-Uncomfortable blocker in space

Summary:

Four year starter, mostly at RT. Will likely shift inside because of size limitations but I think that is where his upside is found anyway. Madison didn’t get a lot of attention but he was an extremely productive blocker. While the scheme helped a bit, his performances were pretty much the same week in, week out, no matter the situation. At the very least he will be a solid 6th lineman that will start games in the NFL.

NFL Comparison – Jack Mewhort / IND

10 – Will Hernandez – UTEP – 6’2/327

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-A bull when he is moving downhill off the snap
-Excellent leverage and initial punch, almost always wins the contact battle
-Quick feet as a side shuffle pass blocker

Weak Points:

-Slow out of his stance as a lateral mover
-Struggles to maintain separation from defenders
-Gets top heavy, shows his numbers to the dirt, doesn’t keep his head up

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Hernandez will be ready for NFL right away when it comes to the power game. He won’t be pushed back by anyone and he will excel as a straight ahead run blocker. I get nervous with him elsewhere, however. If he is up against speed and quickness inside on passing downs, a growing trend, I can see him having a hard time. He doesn’t lock guys up and there are some adjustment issues. He can be a stud in the right scheme, but a major liability in the wrong scheme. He is not a one size fits all lineman.

NFL Comparison: Gabe Jackson / OAK

11 – Austin Corbett – Nevada – 6’4/306

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Fluid and easy footwork that just seem to come natural to him
-Excellent initial hand punch with it comes to pop and placement
-Versatility is a major plus, has the brains to play anywhere

Weak Points:

¬-Too easily altered by a quality pass rush
-Struggles to recover if initially beat, doesn’t trust his lower half enough
-Doesn’t keep his legs driving after contact

Summary:

Fifth year senior, four year starter. Overcame knee injuries from high school and has started every game since week 2 of 2014. Thee time team captain. Corbett is a top tier athlete among this group that simply lacks a power game. He is smart and aware enough to somewhat make up for it, but he is likely a 1-2 year project before being able to be relied on as a starter. I see a 6th lineman or solid interior starter at that point.

NFL Comparison: Clint Boling / CIN

12 – Dejon Allen – Hawaii – 6’2/295

Grade: 73

Strong Points:

-Excellent athlete with short area quickness and burst in space
-Works hard to keep his hands inside, can lock guys up
-Fast to locate his man in space and will quickly pounce

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t keep his lower half moving in pass protection, too top heavy
-Inconsistent technique and concentration
-Won’t get movement off the ball against bigger, more powerful DTs

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Four year starter with experience at both guard spots and left tackle. Allowed just 1 sack in 2 years at guard. Saw similar success at tackle, but when it comes to his skill set and size, he is going to play inside at the next level. Allen is a 2 year project with the upside of all but maybe 2 or 3 guys in this OG/OC class. His foot speed and work with his hands are top notch, rare for a college guard. If he can learn to use his legs more productively while adding weight, he can be a well balanced player in this league.

NFL Comparison: Connor McGovern / DEN

13 – Bradley Bozeman – Alabama – 6’5/296

Grade: 72

Strong Points:

-Hands and feet are very in sync with each other
-Has a level of natural strength to him, easy country power
-Gets his hips in the hole and will anchor against size and strength

Weak Points:

-Slow in space, struggles to reach linebackers laterally
-Doesn’t get enough push as a run blocker
-Looks unathletic when he is trying to recovery, gets sloppy

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Took over for Ryan Kelly as a fu time starter in 2016. He isn’t the same caliber prospect but coaches say he had a similar level impact. He plays the game like a pro, mentally and physically. Learning curve wont be very high for him. He is a limited ceiling athlete but that isn’t too important for an OC. He is always at the right place, right time. There is a lot of fight to him. Day 3 pick that could start on some teams right now.

NFL Comparison: Brandon Linder / JAC

14 – Mason Cole – Michigan – 6’4/305

Grade: 71

Strong Points:

-Very smart and alert, can make guys around him better
-Versatile tool set, has a lot of experience inside and out
-Easy bender, can lower his pad level and really dig in

Weak Points:

-Too easily altered by power and strength
-Ducks his head on contact, leaving him very susceptible
-Lacks stability and presence in the power game

Summary:

Has started every game of his career. Has played tackle and center. I was expecting to see big things out of him as a LT in 2017 because of his prior tape and athleticism. He could have come out last year and been a day 2 pick, but 2017 took a turn for the worst. He just lacked strength and presence every time I saw him, and that was against college kids. You can blame it on being out of position, as I think he is an OC-only, but the tape doesn’t lie. He is made for a zone blocking scheme where he isn’t matched up one on one with a Damon Harrison ever, but it’s not a fit for a lot of teams. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him succeed, but he isn’t worth a pick until round 5.

NFL Comparison: Travis Swanson / NYJ

15 – Wyatt Teller – Virginia Tech – 6’4/301

Grade: 71

Strong Points:

-Powerful tackle mover, can really pop a guy when he lines it up
-Keeps defenders away from his body
-Anchors against the bull rush well

Weak Points:

-Tight hips and ankles, doesn’t react well when he has to open up
-Slow mover when he pulls out and moves laterally
-Effort switch is off and on too often

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Came to Virginia Tech as a defensive lineman and it took him a year and a half to really get the hang of OL. Settled in to left guard and ended his career 1st Team All ACC in 2017. Another high upside player that is found down here. Just a very inconsistent player week to week. Flashes dominance at times but also some head scratchers. Have heard some negatives about his attitude too. He can handle NFL power today, but not the speed and quickness just yet.

NFL Comparison: TJ Lang / DET

16 – Kyle Bosch – West Virginia – 6’5/298 – GRADE: 71
17 – Brian Allen – Michigan State – 6’1/300 – GRADE: 71
18 – Rod Taylor – Ole Miss – 6’3/321 – GRADE: 71
19 – Will Clapp – LSU – 6’4/314 – GRADE: 71
20 – Colby Gossett – Appalachian State – 6’5/315 – GRADE: 71
21 – KJ Malone – LSU – 6’4/321 – GRADE: 70
22 – Sam Jones – Arizona State – 6’5/290 – GRADE: 69
23 – Scott Quessenberry – UCLA – 6’4/315 – GRADE: 68
24 – Toby Weathersby – LSU – 6’4/313 – GRADE: 68
25 – Taylor Hearn – Clemson – 6’4/330 – GRADE: 68

NYG APPROACH

With the signing of Nate Solder and the departure of Justin Pugh, the NYG approach to the offensive line can rightfully be pointed towards the interior. The current situation there can rightfully be considered a liability at this point, perhaps even worse than it was last year. If you want to settle on Brett Jones at OC, fine. But that means the OGs next to him need to be above average and I wouldn’t consider any option they currently have to be at that level. Round 2 is going to be a spot where one of the top 4-5 guys are available I think, and it is almost a must. I wouldn’t call it “shopping hungry”, as think the value will match up. If by some chance another prospect with a much higher grade is there, round 3 could still be an option to find a starting caliber OG/OC, but the odds significantly decrease. In terms of tackles, adding another body to the young group of question marks can be an option late because you can never have enough competition there, but the value needs to jump out considering the other holes this roster has.

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David Syvertsen

David Syvertsen, aka Sy'56, has worked for Ourlads Scouting LLC since 2013, starting off as a college depth chart manager and now a lead scout for one the most-sold NFL draft guides year-in, year-out. He has been scouting for over 10 years and will compile anywhere from 400-600 scouting reports per season, with that number increasing year by year. He watches and studies game films 20-25 hours per week throughout the entire year with his main focus being NFL Draft prospects.

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