Apr 272015
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (December 8, 2013)

El Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Needs

Teams that draft primarily for need usually are poor drafting teams. Just because you take a player at a certain position, that doesn’t mean you’ve “fixed” the position. Look at the 2011 NFL Draft. Did the Giants “fix” their needs at defensive tackle with Marvin Austin, wide receiver with Jerrel Jernigan, offensive tackle with James Brewer, or linebacker with Greg Jones? Force a pick and you’ll be drafting at that same position in a year or two again trying to replace the bum you over-drafted.

Also, one position that looks settled on paper at one moment can become a critical mess a year later. Look at the safety position for the Giants between now and this time last year. In April 2014, the Giants looked deep and talented at safety with Antrel Rolle coming of his best season, a rising star in Will Hill, the anticipated return of Stevie Brown, and the acquisition of Quintin Demps from the Chiefs. One-fourth to one-third of NFL rosters turn over each year now. How many Giants are left from the 2011 Championship team?

So keep in mind that this “needs” article does not suggest that the Giants should use their early picks at the most critical need positions. In fact, almost every position for every team is a “need” position. Teams can always get stronger and there is simply too much attrition in the NFL.

The Giants will only have eight picks in the NFL draft, with three of these picks coming in the top 100 players. At best, the Giants probably can get one or two immediate starters out of this draft unless they are extremely fortunate.

How do the Giants get better? By getting better football players across the board. One thing is clear: the New York Football Giants need to become a tougher, stronger, more physical, and more talented team in the trenches on both sides of the ball. The 2014 Giants couldn’t stop the run or run the football. They usually got their asses whooped up front.

Offensive Line

The Giants are expecting (and hoping) that four-fifths of the starting offensive line is set with Will Beatty at left tackle, Weston Richburg at center, Justin Pugh at right tackle or one of the guard spots, and Geoff Schwartz at the other guard spot. If the season were to start today, John Jerry would probably start at right guard and Schwartz at left guard. That’s not ideal. Moreover, is someone gets hurt, there isn’t a lot of depth with the journeyman Marshall Newhouse being the next best option on the roster. So the Giants could use at least two new offensive linemen, one talented enough to possibly start as a rookie and another developmental prospect who can provide better depth. God help the team if they are wrong about Pugh, Richburg, Schwartz, or Beatty.

Defensive Line

Johnathan Hankins is a stud. Jason Pierre-Paul is one of the best defensive ends in the game. JPP could be a free agent again next offseason, but the Giants could Franchise him again. The questions are at the other two starting spots. Much depends on how the Giants truly feel about Jay Bromley at defensive tackle and Damontre Moore at defensive end. If Bromley develops, I actually think the Giants are in good shape at tackle with Hankins, Cullen Jenkins, Kenrick Ellis, and Bromley. The bigger concern is at end. Today’s NFL defense is all about the pass rush.

Based on 2014, on paper, it looks like the Giants have one two-way player in JPP and then a bunch of situational guys in Moore (end pass rusher), Robert Ayers (end/tackle pass rusher), Kerry Wynn (run defender), and George Selvie (run defender). And linebacker Devon Kennard will likely be sent after the quarterback quite a bit by Steve Spagnuolo. At their best, the Giants had full-time players Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, and Justin Tuck coming off of the edges. Unless Moore develops into a much better run defender and consistent pass rusher, the Giants need another top tier guy to complement JPP. However, if they Giants think they have that already in Moore, then the defensive line may be more settled than we realize. But given Moore’s slight frame, I think the team would have to move JPP to left end and start Moore at right end.

Defensive Backs

On paper, the most critical need is clearly at safety. The reason I have OL and DL listed first is I don’t think you can scheme around bad players up front. You can scheme a bit in the secondary. If the season were to start today, the starters at safety would be unproven Nat Berhe and Cooper Taylor. The good news is both have talent. But it remains to be seen if Berhe has the athletic ability/range to excel in coverage at the NFL level and if Taylor can stay healthy. The Giants will most likely add a journeyman veteran at some point, but they really need to add another safety or safety/corner ‘tweener from the draft. The bad news is this isn’t a very good year to draft safeties. Keep in mind that the Giants could also move Bennett Jackson, Chykie Brown, and/or Josh Gordy to safety.

Corner is more unsettled than many realize. If Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara stay healthy (an issue for both last year), then the Giants have one of the stronger set of starting corners in the NFL. But Amukamara has been injury prone and he will be be an unrestricted free agent in 2016. In addition, with Walter Thurmond leaving for Philadelphia in free agency, depth is an issue. Trumaine McBride is now the leading nickel back (a de facto starter) and top reserve corner. After him, you are looking at castoffs Mike Harris, Chykie Brown, and Chandler Fenner. I’d be pretty shocked if the Giants didn’t draft one corner and I won’t be surprised if they take one with one of their first three picks.

Wide Receiver

Yes, wide receiver. Call me a pessimist but I think it is extremely unlikely that Victor Cruz will be anywhere near 100 percent in 2015. Call me an alarmist, but it is also possible that he never really regains his old quickness/explosiveness. Given Cruz’s huge cap number, the team could be forced to consider parting ways with Cruz in a year or two. Right now, the only sure thing the Giants have is Odell Beckham. We’ve seen what Eli Manning can do if you give him three serious pass receiving threads (Plaxico Burress-Amani Toomer-Steve Smith in 2007 and Victor Cruz-Hakeem Nicks-Mario Manningham in 2011). Cruz is a major question mark. So is the wildly inconsistent (and twice benched for violating team policies) Rueben Randle. This is a very deep draft at wide receiver. And personally, I don’t pass on Amari Cooper or Kevin White if one of them manage to fall to #9.

Tight End

I think Larry Donnell has a very bright future in the NFL. He’s well on his way to becoming a serious pass-receiving threat, jumping from a nobody to ninth in the NFL in tight end catches in one year. If he can improve as a blocker, the Giants have a good starter. Daniel Fells is an average player but the Giants can win with him as a back-up. The enigma is Adrien Robinson. The team has a lot of time invested in him, but time is running out and he looks replaceable. Keep an eye on practice squader Jerome Cunningham – he has a lot of physical talent.

Linebacker

The Giants could be in decent shape here if three things happen: (1) Devon Kennard continues his ascent, (2) Jon Beason stays healthy, and (3) either J.T. Thomas or Jonathan Casillas can adequately man the other outside spot. The riskiest assumption is that the fragile Beason will stay healthy, but if he does, the Giants could be in business finally at linebacker. Jameel McClain is still in the picture too. It will be interesting to see who starts and where. But regardless the Giants could use some homegrown talent for insurance and eventual replacements for some of these guys in a year or two.

Summary

So in a nutshell, I see the team’s top needs being offensive line (either a starting tackle or guard), defensive end (unless the team is sold on Moore), safety, cornerback, and wide receiver. I think there are lesser needs at tight end and linebacker. And unless the quality is there (best player available), I don’t see the team drafting a running back, fullback, or quarterback high or at all. Defensive tackle is a wild card. Much depends on how the team views Ellis and Bromley, but I’m more optimistic there.

I will say this, if some things break the Giants way (Moore and Bromley on the defensive line; Pugh, Beatty, Richburg, and Schwartz on the offensive line; Beason at linebacker; and Cruz at wide receiver), the Giants are not bad shape. If 4/5ths of the line is truly set and Cruz is back, then the offense is mostly set minus one more stud on the OL. If Beason stays healthy, the linebackers are fine. And if Moore and Kennard can terrorize QBs off the edge opposite JPP, then the pass rush will be improved. In such an optimistic scenario, the draft would could focus on getting that tackle or guard in round one and finding help for a shallow secondary.

Apr 242015
 
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Landon Collins, Alabama Crimson Tide (January 1, 2015)

Landon Collins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Safeties

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*Below are my published, abbreviated reports via Ourlads Scouting Services, LLC

**A note about Pro Upside Comparisons: These are comparisons that are based on the player reaching his ceiling. It does not necessarily mean I believe the player will “be as good as”.

CURRENT SAFETIES on NYG ROSTER

Nat Berhe – 24 Years old – Signed through 2017

Cooper Taylor – 25 Years old – Signed through 2016

Thomas Gordon – 24 Years old – Signed through 2016

Josh Gordy – 28 Yeas old – Signed through 2015

WHERE THEY STAND

NYG lacks both quantity and quality at the safety position and I think it’s the weakest position on the team’s depth chart. It’s been a pair that has lacked stability for years when considering both positions. Antrel Rolle fulfilled his FA contract from a few years ago but the team opted to let him walk in free agency which resulted in him signing with Chicago. There were reports that NYG went after Devin McCourty but ultimately failed to entice him to leave New England. The Giants are now left with young and unestablished safeties that even the optimist should be worried about. The scouts were high on Berhe at this time last year, saying he could play the versatile safety role that will bring him in the box to defend the run as well as match up with receivers in man coverage. Taylor hasn’t been healthy and he has the look of a special teamer, not a starting defender. Gordon and Gordy are training camp bodies at best. If NYG does make another move in the FA period, expect it to be safety. Stevie Brown is still out there.

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – Landon Collins – Alabama – 6’0/228 – 83

Upside Pro Comparison: Antrel Rolle/CHI

Strong Points: Versatile back end defender. Instinctual mover, consistently in the right position pre and post snap. Anticipates the action and reacts fast. Explosive downhill tackler that closes a 10 yard gap as fast as anyone. Has a strong power presence, built thick and plays thick. Sound tackler in space, will wrap up and hit with force. Soft hands, good ball skills. Shows the coordination and timing to get his hands on the ball while on the move. Explosive blitzer off the edge, times it well and can find his way through traffic. Has strong steps, a lot of balance and body control. Consistently shows the ability to recover and catch the man he his chasing in coverage. Rangy run defender that can reach either sideline with ease.

Weak Points: Seems a step behind as a coverage safety. Struggles to play the centerfielder role, may not have the deep range to play a deep half. Moves heavy in man coverage. Shows stiffness and may play too bulky. Inconsistent footwork and mechanics, depends on his athleticism too much.

Summary: Junior entry Defensive back that has played a few roles at Alabama, including free and strong safety, cornerback, and gunner on special teams. At his best when moving near the line of scrimmage and defending the run and underneath passing game. He is a reliable tackler in traffic and in the open field, and has shown the ability to anticipate throwing lanes and routes as a pass defender. He played the 2014 season at over 220 pounds and it may have slowed him down a bit and made him a heavy read and react cover man. He may need to quicken his reaction and hips if he wants to meet his sky high potential.

*There has been a healthy debate going back and forth regarding just how good the best safety in this class really is. Is he overrated as a result of such a poor overall group? Or is Collins a legit 1st round prospect that could be considered in the top 10? I think Collins is closer to a top 10 guy than he is a 2nd rounder, I’ll say that much. He is versatile to play any role you want a safety to fulfill. He is probably the best tackler among all the DBs and he’s shown he can run with the speed of the SEC. Collins lacks superstar production and superstar athletic ability, thus there are several people that rightfully downgrade him to an average prospect. I think Collins is a player. He does all the little things and he has shown on multiple occasions that he does have the upper tier coverage ability and ball skills. Day 1 starter that could be considered at #9 overall.

2 – Eric Rowe – Utah – 6’1/205 – 79

Upside Pro Comparison: Malcolm Jenkins/PHI

Strong Points: Versatile tools and skills for a defensive back with experience at safety and cornerback. Physical approach with consistent aggression, always competing. Anticipates and reacts well. Will reach his top speed with acceleration and explosion. Has long strides in space, can run with speed downfield. Will make quick adjustments. Can locate the ball and adjust his bodyweight. Good body control. Will make the tough tackle in space, uses his length and physical nature, wraps up well. Disciplined and smart.

Weak Points: Better off in zone coverage. Doesn’t have the effectiveness as a man defender as he does in zone. Struggles to make the quick 180 degree turns. Hips can lock up on him from time to time. Won’t deliver a violent blow as a tackler. Questionable lateral range in deep coverage.

Summary: Fourth year senior that started 45 games over his career. Played safety for three seasons and moved to cornerback in 2014. Rowe will be viewed as a cornerback for some teams and safety for others. His tool set can be used in both roles effectively. He has great triangle numbers (height/weight/speed) in addition to a developed skill set for either position. He is physical, quick-twitched, and smart. Rowe showed the ability to make plays on the ball and will consistently compete. For teams that want a cover-based safety, Rowe could be a high pick. He also brings Tampa-2 cornerback ability and showed production on special teams.

*Depending on who you ask and what defensive scheme you run, Rowe can be viewed as a CB or a S. I think with NYG he could play both but there is a brighter future and greater need at S. Rowe is physical enough to handle the enforcer/run support roles but to have a guy with this kind of speed and fluidity in his hips playing behind the defense would be a welcomed addition in round 2. Rowe is one of my favorite day 2 prospects for NYG.

3 – Chris Hackett – TCU – 6’0/195 – 76

Upside Pro Comparison: Glover Quin/DET

Strong Points: Quick and light feet with easy, smooth hips. Great body control, rarely looks off balance. Anticipates and reacts well. Has the suddenness in coverage to easily change direction. Explosive out of his breaks, can close a short gap in a blink. Reliable hands in traffic. Can adjust his body on the move and bring the ball in like a receiver. Understands angles and is aware of his speed in relation to his positioning on the field. Good range in deep coverage. Outperforms his speed because of his agile lower half and ability to diagnose and react. Makes the effort as a tackler, will wrap up and stick to the ball carriers. Reliable as a tackler in space. Confident and aggressive.

Weak Points: Lean frame that plays weak when it comes to presence as a tackler. Won’t deliver a big blow to the ball carrier. Won’t factor as physical defender within the box. Lacks the top end speed in deep space. Will struggle to recover and chase from behind.

Summary: Junior entry and three year starter. Hackett leaves TCU with 12 career interceptions and among the team’s leader in tackles over the past three years. He is a space-friendly athlete with such an easy moving lower half and great body control. He has proven to be a playmaker, showing the ability to create turnovers in coverage and as a tackler. He is a quick thinking, savvy defender. He lacks the physical presence as a tackler, thus may not be anything more than a deep coverage defensive back. The coverage ability and versatility in zone and man roles are always in demand, however. Hackett has starter potential if he can prove he has enough speed.

*The combine workouts were rough for Hackett but it hasn’t deterred my view of him. I went back and watched a few of his games again and I kept seeing what I initially liked, a cover-first safety that was quick to anticipate and react with easy movement and smooth ball skills. He is athletic enough to play single high if need be. He won’t add a physical presence back there but as a 3rd round target, NYG could do a lot worse.

4 – Damarious Randall – Arizona State – 5’11/196 – 75

Upside Pro Comparison: Devin McCourty/NE

Strong Points: Versatile defensive back with game experience at cornerback and safety. Explosive athlete. Can pursue across the field and make tackles on the move. Will close in on a ball carrier in a blink. Anticipates routes and throwing lanes. Competitive in coverage. Will get his hand on the ball in most one on one situations. Savvy defender when making his way through traffic towards the action. Shows toughness in a crowd. Playmaker type with the ball in his hands.

Weak Points: Inconsistent toughness and tackling. Too often he dives after the ankles of ball carriers when they have a head of team. Whiffs in space too much. May not have the size necessary to play an in-the-box safety role. Physical reactions to double routes aren’t fast enough. Takes too long to change direction in deep coverage. Too many recovery steps needed. Quick twitch doesn’t match his explosion and speed.

Summary: Fifth year senior. Played baseball at Butler Community College before playing beginning his All American football career as a cornerback and return specialist at Mesa Community College. Started for the Sun Devils for two seasons at safety. Randall has upper tier explosion and top end speed. He has the makings of a playmaker that can change games. However his skill set needs a lot of work and may be a guy that needs a very specific defensive back role in a very specific scheme. He isn’t a physical presence across the middle or in the box, and he struggles to react to double moves and quick twitch receivers. He could be a package player down the road, but his future may be best suited on special teams as a gunner.

*There are some people I respect with a top 45 overall grade on Randall. I’m not there but I have upgraded him since my initial view. He can move really well and there are coverage abilities that most safeties on this list do not have. He could be a versatile defensive back in the NFL that can line up over the slot on one play and play a single high role on the next. He won’t add anything as a run defender or enforcer, but he can be productive player in the right scheme.

5 – Cody Prewitt – Ole Miss – 6’2/208 – 74

Upside Pro Comparison: T.J. McDonald/STL

Strong Points: Built like a linebacker. Thick frame with a lot of length. Versatile tool set. Long strider with downfield speed. Also an explosive downhill player that will attack the run. Has tremendous lateral range as a run defender. Shows presence as a tackler, wraps up well and will make the open field tackle. Good blitzer that can explode out from a stand still position with functional power. Can turn and run in coverage. Has the range to play a deep half. Enforcer that will strike fear in to receivers with his presence alone. Has a natural flow towards the action. Reads the quarterback and can anticipate his throwing lanes. Makes plays on the ball and can control his body when leaping in traffic,

Weak Points: His movement in short space doesn’t match the speed he has in a straight line. Takes too many recovery steps. Won’t read the routes coming at him and is often less guessing. Struggles to stick with receivers on routes other than something deep. Takes too long to react to underneath action. Struggles to burst from a stand still, lacks the explosive element to his game.

Summary: Fourth year senior. Was a 1st Team All American in 2013. Has been starting since the end of his freshman season and hasn’t missed a game since. Prewitt is a unique player with a versatile tool set. He has the size and presence of a tackler, but has proven to be a factor in deep coverage. His best fit is strong safety in the NFL because he is at his best when he is attacking the action in front of him. He can be a force within a specific role, but he has shown weaknesses in coverage that teams will look to exploit if he is given too much responsibility.

*I had Prewitt graded at 77/78 for awhile and he was a day 2 target for NYG in my book. Recently was informed of some work ethic/approach issues that made me downgrade him quite a bit. I just don’t like hearing certain things and Prewitt’s talent will only take him so far. With that aside, I think he can still be a 3rd rounder. He has size and presence, almost appearing to be an extra linebacker at times. He is a long strider that may be a liability in coverage against quicker wide receivers, but he has some deep range to him when he starts high. I think he is a guy that NYG will like if the off the field stuff doesn’t deter them.

6 – Adrian Amos – Penn State – 6’0/218 – 74

Upside Pro Comparison: Kenny Vaccaro/NO

Strong Points: Versatile tools and skills. Has the movement ability to stick to receivers all over the route tree. Can change direction with precision and body control. Can turn his hips and run vertical with the speed receivers. Closes a gap ion front of him fast. Will make quick decisions, rarely caught out of position. Reliable tackler when he is in position, can get his hands on the ball carrier and stick to him.

Weak Points: Lacks a physical presence in the box. Won’t stifle blockers and doesn’t deliver much of a pop when tackling. Takes bad angles in pursuit towards the sidelines. Will lose track of cutback responsibilities. Gets caught looking in to the backfield, loses track of the action around him in coverage.

Summary: Fourth year senior. Amos has plenty of starting experience at both cornerback and safety. His ability to stick with receivers up, down, and across the field will be sought after by every team. His presence against the run is sub-par, however. He doesn’t tackle well and his angles in pursuit need work. His best role in the NFL will be within pass defense packages where his ability in both man and zone schemes can be used.

*Someone told me before the season that Amos was a similar style player to Kenny Vaccaro a couple years back but with more speed. I was a big Vaccaro guy and still am, thus it peaked my interest, I saw a lot of Amos in 2014 and he just never stood out to me. He is a little raw and he made the occasional flash here and there, but I just didn’t see him make enough football plays to warrant the Vaccaro comparison. Solid and versatile, but more of a 3rd round type because of the development he’ll need,

7 – Clayton Geathers – UCF – 6’2/218 – 73

Upside Pro Comparison: J.J. Wilcox/DAL

Strong Points: Enforcer over the middle that takes pride in making others players scared. Plays with an aggressive, downhill, heat seeking missile approach. Hard hitter that tackles with good form. Has the feet and awareness to stick with tight ends and some receivers in man coverage. Diagnoses and anticipates the action well. Will mentally react, makes the right decision and can put himself in to position. Has the speed to recover from mistakes, can make up ground.

Weak Points: Stop and go quickness when moving laterally or backwards in coverage does not match his downhill athleticism. Might be limited what you can do with him in deep coverage. Bit of a roamer that is constantly looking to make the big hit. Plays a dangerous game, will launch himself through the ball carrier too often. Doesn’t show quick twitch in zone coverage.

Summary: Fifth year senior and four year starter. Finished third in school history with 383 career tackles. Was second on the team in tackles four straight years. Geathers is one of the most aggressive defenders in this class. He relishes the role of enforcer and takes a lot of pride in altering the intentions of players that cross the middle of the field. His downhill explosion and consistent ability to finish off plays will be sought after by teams looking to improve their physical presence on defense. Geathers is an intimidator but lacks fluid movement in coverage, thus his role may be limited at the next level. Most teams have a role for this kind of prospect, however. In a weak safety class, this is a guy that could hear his name called earlier than expected.

*If NYG is looking for a safety that will bring a power presence to their secondary, Geathers is the guy. I’ve wanted the front office to add more physical players to their defense for years now and it is still lacking. Geathers can scare receivers. He can finish off running backs. He is a powerful, big safety with more than enough speed and explosion. He may have the highest upside among all the safeties in this class, he’ll just need to clean up his coverage mechanics.

8 – Anthony Harris – Virginia – 6’1/183 – 73

Upside Pro Comparison: Roman Harper/CAR

Strong Points: Easy mover with excellent body control and balance. Light feet and fluid hips. Can turn his body and accelerate fast. Seamless transitions. Aggressive pursuit of the ball carrier. Shows the sideline to sideline range as a run defender. Effective tackler, wraps and drags to the ground. Fast physical reaction. Can explode downhill and close a gap. Reacts to the ball in the air well. Shows the ball skills necessary to make plays on the ball. Can adjust his body on the move and get his hands in the way. Can stick with receivers in man coverage. Has the recovery time and speed to make up for poor reads. Can run deep with receivers.

Weak Points: Lacks the awareness of the action around him. Shows the tendency to look in to the backfield without keeping his head on a swivel. Often playing catch up coverage. Lacks a presence as a tackler and enforcer. Doesn’t deliver the violent jolt to ball carrier. Can be overpowered by blockers and ridden out of the play. Looks frail at times.

Summary: Harris has never missed a game over his four year career, including the past three as a starter. Has been very productive with 10 interceptions and 16 pass break ups over the past two seasons. Harris is a very good athlete that moves well all over the field. He has the body control and ball skills to make a difference in coverage. He just needs to become a smarter and more aware player in coverage. He doesn’t have the frame to enforce the physical brand of football, but he is an aggressive player that will put his body on the line. Starter potential that can impact the run and pass defense.

*Hard to figure this guy out. Harris was the epitome of dependability and durability during his accomplished 4 year career. He’s been fighting a lingering shoulder issue throughout the pre-draft process and there are whispers he may miss part of 2015. On tape, Harris is as quick and explosive as it gets. He can close fast downhill but can also easily turn and run downfield. The main issue, however, is that he is a tiny 183 pounds. Safeties at that size just don’t make it in the NFL. I’ll be interested to see what happens with him in the league.

9 – Derron Smith – Fresno State – 5’10/200 – 73

Upside Pro Comparison: Ryan Clark/RET

Strong Points: Ball hawk defensive back that has the ability to impact the play several ways. Gets his hands on a lot of balls and knows how to bring it in. Has receiver-type catching ability. Instincts and awareness in all situations are a plus. Can come crashing down like a missile when he diagnoses the running lane. Will go hard after the ball carrier and can deliver a violent pop. Has a short area burst to close a small gap. Showed he can run with speed downfield.

Weak Points: Lacks height and arm length and it shows up on tape. Doesn’t react to a crowd well. Struggles to wrap up, ball carries will shake free from him too often. Takes poor angles when exploding downhill. Change of direction when moving at a full speed is below average. Takes chances, which leaves him and the defense prone to giving up big plays.

Summary: Fifth year senior. Received a medical redshirt in 2011 after breaking his arm in the third game, missing the rest of the season. Smith had 15 career interceptions, including 13 over the span of his sophomore and junior seasons. A scheme that can move a safety around and put him in to different coverage roles will like Smith. He shows some cornerback-type movement but also has the anticipation skills of a safety. The size limits him a bit, but he plays a physical style and should be able to hide the length issues more often than not. He can be a valuable nickel and dime package player, a role that is becoming more and more important each year.

*Productive player here that some people like a lot. He shows ball skills and the ability to cover guys underneath. He moves well and he is pretty savvy, good combination. Has the thick frame but he is short with really short arms. He got overmatched by bigger receivers and crowds in college, not sure he can hack it as a starter in the league. Maybe a scheme-guy or package defender.

10 – Kyshoen Jarrett – Virginia Tech – 5’10/200 – 72

Upside Pro Comparison: Tyrann Matheiu/ARI

Strong Points: Versatile defender with the movement ability to play several roles. Quick in to and out of breaks. Easy feet and hips. Great body control and balance. Can play a deep half zone, showing the speed and acceleration to reach the sidelines. Very smart and aware, diagnoses and pounces fast. Aggressive run defender. Will fly in to the box and make sound, wrap up tackles.

Weak Points: Undersized. Lacks playing strength and won’t make a physical impact on the game. Not an enforcer. Can be overwhelmed by blockers. Doesn’t get this hands on a lot of balls. Will be out-positioned by bigger receivers in traffic, making it tough for him to make a play.

Summary: Has never missed a game over his four year career. Capable of playing safety and cornerback because of his versatile skill set and athletic ability. Smart and heady player that can force his way on to the field. Also a good punt returner. Jarrett lacks the ideal size of a safety and movement of a cornerback, but he is a reliable defender that can do almost anything a defensive coach asks for.

*Like Jarrett in the same way I liked Mathieu a couple years ago. He is shorter than ideal but he is a gamer. Jarrett was stuck on a bad team but every time I saw them play, he stood out head and shoulders above despite the shorter frame. Jarrett could be a solid nickel defender and special teams ace/return man. He’ll make a team and he’ll make an impact.

11 – Ibraheim Campbell – Northwestern – 5’11/208 – 72

*In the box safety more than anything. He is one of the best tacklers in this group with a nice power presence and open field ability. He is a reliable last line of defense and can do enough in coverage to not hurt you. Special teamer with eventual starting potential.

12 – Jordan Richards – Stanford – 5’11/211 – 72

*Intriguing tool set and an overly aggressive style will make him a fan favorite for some if he can get on the field. He reminds me a little of Gibril Wilson when he first broke in to the league. He really puts his body on the line but I don’t think there is a lot of upside as a cover man. He is always playing catch up and the body control isn’t there. Could be a nice player on special teams and as a run defender.

13 – Cedric Thompson – Minnesota – 6’0/208 – 72

*Love his game speed. Thompson may be one of the top pure-game speed defensive backs in the class. He has legit range. He shows some raw-ness to his game when it comes to the parts of his game that require more skill, but he has talent that is worth trying to develop.

14 – Anthony Jefferson – UCLA – 6’1/198 – 70

*Physical more than he is fast. Can be a solid run defender and special teamer. Not sure he has the ceiling you look for in day 3 picks but he will be a solid guy that has a job as a backup for awhile. He is smart and showed plenty of versatility at UCLA.

15 – Durrell Eskridge – Syracuse – 6’3/208 – 70

*This is a guy that NYG will like, I have a feeling. He is tall and long and showed he can long stride his way in to deep coverage. He has range. I don’t like the lack of physical presence and he isn’t a quick twitch defender. I think the upside is worth gambling on but I just don’t see the football player in him.

NYG APPROACH

There is no secret this group of safeties is a weak one overall. As always, however, there are players listed here that will be quality defenders in the NFL. NYG needs to find one of them, plain and simple. The biggest debate revolves around the grade and status of the top dog Landon Collins. Because he “wasn’t a playmaker”, many believe he should be pegged towards the end of round 1. Collins is a more than solid defender than can do several things at a high level. He isn’t the best athlete out there but that rarely shows up on tape. He plays fast and he plays even more physical. Collins deserves to be taken in the top 15 and it can be argued he is a top 10 player in this draft class.

When does NYG go after a safety? If they don’t get Collins or Rowe, I think it’s worth waiting until day 3. Try to find a player that excels as a cover man or excels as a run defender and implement him in to the defense. They may not need to find the superstar, do it all type. If they can find a role player, their safety group is immediately upgraded because what they have now likely won’t cut it. Don’t reach for one when there are better players at other positions available though, again.

Apr 222015
 
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Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest Demon Deacons (February 23, 2015)

Kevin Johnson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Cornerbacks

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*Below are my published, abbreviated reports via Ourlads Scouting Services, LLC

**A note about Pro Upside Comparisons: These are comparisons that are based on the player reaching his ceiling. It does not necessarily mean I believe the player will “be as good as”.

CURRENT CBs on NYG ROSTER

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – 29 Years old – Signed through 2018

Prince Amukamara – 26 Years old – Signed through 2015

Trumaine McBride – 30 Years old – Signed through 2015

Chykie Brown – 29 Years old – Signed through 2016

Mike Harris – 26 Years old – Signed through 2015

Chandler Fenner – 25 Years old – Signed through 2015

Jayron Hosley – 25 Years old – Signed through 2015

Bennett Jackson – 24 Years old – Signed through 2015

Trevin Wade – 26 Years old – Signed through 2016

WHERE THEY STAND

When everyone is healthy, this CB group has everything a defense would need out of the group. We all know that counting on an injury-free season from everyone on that list could be considered foolish. DRC is a favorite of mine when looking at all the CBs around the league without bias. He is the most talented CB NYG has had in a very long time, possibly ever. Amukamara has been up and down, as most young corners are, but he’s struggled to stay on the field and he is expected to hit the FA market next winter. A lot of that will depend on the contract statuses of Manning and JPP, however. McBride is a tough veteran that I trust in the nickel and backup roles. Brown and Harris showed a pretty good level of play in their limited exposure last season. Coincidentally, I wanted the Giants to draft Harris back in 2012. Glad to see he eventually made his way here. Fenner and Hosley could compete for the final CB spot but don’t overlook Jackson, one of my top value picks NYG made last year. He may have some FS in his future though.

TOP 20 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – Kevin Johnson – Wake Forest – 6’0/188 – 81

Upside Pro Comparison: Terence Newman/MIN

Strong Points: Easy and fluid mover. Top tier quickness and reaction. Can go 0-60 with a few steps. Shows the speed to pursue and/or catch up with anyone. Has an aggressive style that suits him well against both the run and pass. Quality ball skills, shows the easy hands and eye-hand coordination when going after passes. Strong tackler that makes the attempt to wrap up. All-out hustler when moving downhill while attacking the run. Closes the gap fast. Can play with lateral and vertical range with his smooth hips and light feet. Confident player that plays with a certain swagger on the field, very competitive.

Weak Points: Over-aggressive and takes too many gambles. Fooled by the double moves too often. Very thin and light. Can be pushed around by blockers. Doesn’t have the consistent footwork you want to see in man coverage. Takes too long to diagnose. Doesn’t always see what’s going on around him, looks at things in a tunnel too much. False steps put him in a catch up position to often.

Summary: Thee year starter. Had to redshirt in 2011 for being academically ineligible. This 2nd Team All ACC corner is one of the toughest defenders you can find. Despite a lack of size, he shows no hesitation when attacking the ball and/or ball carrier. He displays outstanding speed and quickness, sticking with some of the best receivers in the country. Johnson’s attitude on the field is that of a player that loves the game and is extremely competitive. He has a lot of tools and skills that make up a quality cover corner in the NFL.

*The first game of Johnson’s that I scouted was against FSU. Despite the teams being on different levels, Johnson looked like he was the best player on the field for both teams, on both sides of the ball. He is very lean but there may not be a more aggressive player in the entire class than Johnson. He attacks each play with a certain level of reckless abandon that I would want every defender on my team to. Johnson is the only first round grade I have at the CB position this year. I think he goes somewhere in the 15-25 range. If he fell to the 2nd, should NYG consider him? I say yes.

2 – Trae Waynes – Michigan State – 6’0/186 – 80

Upside Pro Comparison: Johnathan Joseph/HOU

Strong Points: Fast and quick twitched athlete. Has a wiry but strong frame. Can flip his hips and accelerate with ease. Seamless transitions when changing direction. Good balance and body control when the action is in front of him. Diagnoses the action quickly, reacts well. Rangy defender that can be trusted on an island. Has long arms and good eye-hand coordination. Productive defender. Competitive and aggressive in coverage, has the stop and go quickness to go along with deep speed. Can stick with receivers all over the field. Pursues the action well.

Weak Points: Lacks a true physical presence when it comes to jamming receivers and tackling. Doesn’t deliver a violent jolt when doing either. Struggles to locate and track the ball in deep coverage. Loses body control when playing the ball downfield. Gets too hands on and grabby. Doesn’t trust his feet enough. May not have the ball skills necessary to be an impact playmaker.

Summary: Junior entry. One of the top cover corners in the country. Two year starter with consistent production and reliable ability. Waynes can stick to a receivers pocket all over the field, whether it be lateral, underneath routes or deep patterns over the top. He is a quick decision maker that can match it with just-as-quick movement from his hips and feet. He will need to improve his ball tracking downfield while maintaining body control and balance. He is also a penalty flag waiting to happen with how grabby he gets. He is too hands on and won’t get away with it as much in the NFL. Potential NFL starter early in his career with a really high upside.

*I just haven’t seen it with Waynes the way some have. It’s a weak DB group overall and I don’t mind those that label him the top guy, but I see the same holes in his game every time I watch his game tapes. Waynes is a good straight line athlete but the adjustment and reactions appear to be a step slow consistently. I think that is a bad combo for the position. The fact that he ran a 4.31 weighs very little in my mind, as the deep speed is a very small aspect of the position. If he does go in the top 15, I think it is poor value.

3 – Jalen Collins – LSU – 6’1/204 – 78

Upside Pro Comparison: Byron Maxwell/PHI

Strong Points: Tall, lean, and very long. Great body awareness and control all over the field. Covers with an aggressive style, shows no fear or hesitation when squared off against elite-level receivers. Can get his hands on, re-direct and disrupt his man at the point of attack. Long strider with good range underneath. Good instincts, reads the action well. Good eye-hand coordination, can react to wherever the ball is thrown without hesitation. Great leaper. Can close in on the ball carrier and/or receiver with just a few steps. Very good acceleration to his top speed. Easy bender with good flexibility. Confident player that will compete hard every down.

Weak Points: May not have the deep speed to hang with the fast receivers downfield. Lacks the speed to catch up to receivers running deep that initially beat him. Lacks presence as a tackler. Rarely gives a jolt to the ball carrier. Tries to catch the ball carrier and drag him down. Reaction to quick underneath routes is slow.

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Collins is a smart player that is very aware of himself and the players around him. He has the elite size and body for the teams looking for length at cornerback. His reach radius combined with easy movement make him solid in man coverage. While he does lack power and strength, Collins is aggressive at the point of attack and has shown the ability to disrupt routes with his hands and feet. He has starter potential in any scheme. If his lack of deep speed can be hidden by the safeties over the top, Collins can be a star.

*This is the CB that I think has the most upside of all the guys in the group. He has outstanding length for the position to go along with good-enough movement. There are really good movement aesthetics here and I think there is still a good amount of physical progress to go with him. Collins was in and out of the lineup at LSU because he was inconsistent with assignments and mechanics. If a team can be on the patient side with him, he has the capability of being a top flight CB in the NFL.

4 – Justin Coleman – Tennessee – 5’11/185 – 77

Upside Pro Comparison: Brandon Flowers/SD

Strong Points: Consistently aggressive and angry style of play. Shows no hesitation when going at the action whether he is defending the run or pass. Good form tackler as well. Explosive athlete. Has all the speed and quickness a cornerback needs. Has the speed to recover if he is initially beat. Can hang with speed downfield. Good length combined with eye-hand coordination enables him to make plays on the ball without too much contact with the receiver.

Weak Points: Under-developed skill set. Too high with his backpedal. Sloppy after the snap and will rely too much on his speed and quickness. Doesn’t anticipate, won’t read the action around him. Hips are too tight and will need an extra recovery step or two when turning around. Is often a second too late. Dropped too many interceptions. Prone to penalties when facing off with the better receivers,

Summary: Fourth year senior. Finished his career with 35 straight starts. Coleman was shifted in to the nickel role in 2014 because the Tennessee coaching staff wanted to take advantage of his physical brand and tackling ability. Coleman is one of the best athletes in this draft. He is fast, explosive, and strong. At the 2015 East/West Shrine, multiple receivers said he was the top cornerback there. His talent is undeniable. He has all the tools but lacks a lot of skills. His mechanics are inconsistent and he has not yet figured out how to read the action and anticipate routes and throws. He will need time, quality coaching, and dedication to the little things if he wants to meet his high upside.

*Coleman is as aggressive as it gets but there is a level of speed and quickness that can allow him to play the finesse game as well. He is very fluid on one play but the next one you’ll see him beat the crap out of a much bigger receiver that himself. What I like a lot here is that when you hear SEC coaches and players talk about their toughest competition, Coleman’s name always pops up. This kid is a gamer that loves to compete and there is more than enough talent.

5 – Ladarius Gunter – Miami – 6’1/202 – 76

Upside Pro Comparison: Sean Smith/KC

Strong Points: Tall and long with big hands. Good speed downfield with the ability to track the deep ball with good body control and balance. Self aware, understands how to use his body to his advantage. Efficient mover, minimal wasted motion. Can turn and accelerate. Changes direction well. Willing to throw his hat in to he mix against the run. Can deliver a violent hit to ball carriers. Smart and savvy in zone coverage, reads the action around and in front of him,

Weak Points: Lacks experience and proven ability to back pedal efficiently. Will bail out of it too fast and leave the underneath routes open. Doesn’t have the quick twitch to stick with the receivers underneath that excel at changing direction.

Summary: Gunter has two-plus years of starting experience for Miami after playing un Junior College for one season. He is a long strider with good deep speed and ball skills. He was visibly avoided by a lot of teams in 2014. Gunter performed cornerback and safety duties for the Miami defense and could likely fit in at both spots on a starter level in the NFL.

*I’m as high on Gunter as anyone you’ll find and to be honest, I’m not sure what position fits him best at the next level. He was a hybrid for the Hurricanes, playing on an island at CB, defending the slot, and dropping in to a center-fielder-type free safety role. Gunter’s game is very much based on versatility but I think his best impact will be felt at corner. He doesn’t have the sexy 40 time but I care less about that when a guy has size and quick acceleration. Gunter reacts as smooth as anyone when defending good route runners. He was arguably the best DB at the Senior Bowl all week. I’ll take a chance on Gunter in round 3 all day.

6 – Marcus Peters – Washington – 6’0/197 – 75

Upside Pro Comparison: Xavier Rhodes/MIN

Strong Points: Big and physical cover corner that loves to get his hands on receivers and push them around at the line of scrimmage. Confident, aggressive, and ultra-competitive player. Can turn his hips, plant his foot and accelerate fast. Explosive out of his breaks. Has a strong punch in jam coverage. Can send a violent jolt to the receiver’s body. Good ball skills and will time his attack on the pass well. Has the long speed to hang with almost anyone down the field. Closes a 10 yard gap as fast as anyone. Consistently explodes downhill against the run and throws his hat in there without hesitation.

Weak Points: Can be over-aggressive at times and be fooled by double moves. Will over pursue ball carriers. Doesn’t make quick decisions in zone coverage. Stands too tall and waits for the action to come to him. Doesn’t stay square to receivers, will get caught looking in to the backfield, not being aware of the action around him. Backpedal is inconsistent, he won’t stay in it long enough. Trusts his own speed too much and will neglect technique to covering receivers. Major red flags off the field that need to be investigated.

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Might be the most physically talented cornerback in this class. Peters was put in to a press-man coverage scheme in 2013 and he broke out in a big way. His combination of size, speed, and aggression will suit him well at the next level. He shows weakness in zone coverage where he has to move with his head more than his feet. In addition, his technique is inconsistent, as he trusts his athleticism to be good enough. There are issues with his coachability. He was thrown off the team in early November for reasons having to do with his strong, stubborn personality. He was constantly butting heads with the coaching staff and it eventually led to him being dismissed. Talent wise, Peters is the top or one of the top cover corners in this class that can make a difference early on.

*If it weren’t for the temper and coachability issues, Peters could be considered a top 20 talent in this class. But you can’t ignore the fact that he had multiple run-ins with the coaching staff at Washington. The kind of behavior is proving to be something that holds players and teams back in the NFL and NYG has always steered clear of this kind of situation. If he cleaned that up, there is a lot to like on the field. He is physical, aggressive, and smart. I like his game a lot but he needs to prove in interviews that he isn’t a locker room cancer.

7 – P.J. Williams – Florida State – 6’0/194 – 75

Upside Pro Comparison: Keenan Lewis/NO

Strong Points: Tall, long and fast cover corner that excels in man coverage. Quick thinker with the ability to diagnose. Can make the quick adjustment. Accelerates in a blink. Can explode downhill or turn his hips and run with receivers. Great tackler who shows no hesitation mixing it up with a ball carrier that has a head of steam. Ultra-aggressive and will throw himself in to traffic full of tight ends and linemen. Quick and efficient back pedal. Can make the transition and break in any direction with balance and speed. Effective in press coverage with a strong jab. Smooth turn and run cover man that can hang with any receiver.

Weak Points: Shows a lack of reading ability in zone coverage, late to react when he doesn’t have a man to man assignment. Will mistime his leaps for the ball. Eye-hand coordination is suspect. Will over pursue and lose track of his lane assignments against the run. Goes for the big hit and will not always wrap up the ball carrier.

Summary: Junior entry. 2nd Team All ACC and 2014 National Championship game MVP. Williams has the physical goods to play cornerback at a high level in the NFL. He has the size, strength, and physical style of play to handle any role thrown his way. His ability to beat up a receiver at the line of scrimmage as well as stay in their hip pocket all over the field is heavily sought after. In addition, he can defend with a presence against the outside run. His aggression and ability to move with balance and precision is the exact combination the NFL looks for in cornerbacks.

*Another guy that could have been a 1st round grade if it weren’t for issues off the field. Williams has an aggressive style that could actually fit in to a safety role if need be. His game speed is what I want out of a corner but he is another one that simply didn’t test well at the combine. He has a natural feel for the game, a he might have the best diagnosing ability of all the corners in the class.

8 – Quinten Rollins – Miami (OH) – 5’11/195 – 75

Upside Pro Comparison: Greg Toler/IND

Strong Points: Quick physical reactions to the action. Displays full body control and balance, can twist and turn his body with ease while maintaining speed. Can change direction quickly, plants his foot and explodes out of his breaks. Physical, hands on cover man that can stick to a receiver underneath. Shows the easy hip movement to stick with his man. Recovers well, doesn’t take long to find his balance and pounce back on to the receiver. Strong tackler that will deliver a pop to the ball carrier. Wraps up and shows consistent technique as an open field tackler. Very body aware with the eye/hand coordination to break up passes within his reach. Times his leaps and lunges for the ball well.

Weak Points: Plays a step behind mentally. Takes too long to read the action. Often caught out of position and will spend most plays trying to recover. His mind speed doesn’t match his physical speed. Does not have the long speed to run with receivers downfield. Has a hard time catching ball carries from behind. Lacks the technique of a drop back corner. Poor footwork and will get too grabby.

Summary: Played four years for the Redhawks basketball team and had an accomplished career. Played just one season of football at Miami and really turned it on the second half of the 2014 season. Rollins has the physical ability to be a player in the league, but will fight an uphill battle when it comes to the speed and complexity of NFL passing games. He was visibly a step behind mentally and showed poor footwork on tape, most likely a result of being away from the game for a few years. He has limited speed and may be best suited for a Cover 2 scheme or nickel type role.

*NYG likes to go after players that have a sense of raw upside to their game as a result of a lack of experience. Rollins has exactly that. Because he played only one year of college football after a more-than-solid basketball career, Rollins has an upward arrow after showing a rather-well developed tool set for the CB position. Some are saying he is more suited for safety in the NFL but I would want to see what he can do at CB first. I think he can hack it there if if can clean up mechanics Worst case scenario he can be a nickel-type but a solid one, a spot that is becoming more and more important.

9 – Steven Nelson – Oregon State – 5’10/191 – 74

Upside Pro Comparison: Buster Skrine/NYJ

Strong Points: Explosive in short space, easy acceleration to top speed. Changes direction with all of his balance and body control. Light feet, explosive hips. Brings a physical nature to the field. Willingly throws his hat in to the action as a run defender and consistently wraps up. Reliable open field tackler. Has the speed to stick with speed receivers down field and the agility to stick with quicker receivers underneath.

Weak Points: Doesn’t make a big physical impact in press coverage. Won’t redirect the receiver at the point of attack. Struggles to read routes and quarterbacks. Allows too big of a cushion in zone coverage. Struggles to anticipate the action.

Summary: Spent two years at Oregon State after his first two seasons in junior college. A two time 2nd Team All Pac 12 player. Nelson has the short area quickness and long speed to matchup with any kind of receiver. He is also a physical player against the run, leading the Beavers cornerbacks in tackles two years in a row. He can be trusted in any kind of role on the field and will likely outperform several cornerbacks that are drafted ahead of him.

*Hard not to like Nelson when you watch him. He outplays his size and it’s hard to find plays where he got overmatched physically. Nelson has all the movement you need out of a guy that needs to shadow receivers all over the field. In addition, he may be the best tackler among all the CBs in the class. He is more physical than you would first assume and he takes a lot of pride in his form. He has a limited upside but he can play right away in the NFL.

10 – D’Joun Smith – Florida Atlantic – 5’10/187 – 74

Upside Pro Comparison: Casey Hayward/GB

Strong Points: Smooth and easy mover. Has the balance and body control to stick with receivers all over the field. Changes direction with ease. Good decision maker, very aware and smart. Has a patience about him. Times his breaks well, never seems over-anxious or unsure of himself. Makes plays on the ball consistently. Has receiver type ability when the ball is in the air. Willing tackler and will throw his hat in to traffic. Pursues the action hard.

Weak Points: Small across the board. Lacks height, length, and girth. Played in a lower level of college football and never stood out when it came to speed and quickness. Doesn’t make much of an impact when pressing the receiver at the line. Lacks the upper body strength and hand power to re-direct.

Summary: Fourth year senior. Made his way on to the national radar in 2013 with 20 passes defended and 7 interceptions, both top 3 statistically in the country. Smith is a competitor that shows consistent skills. He is a smart and savvy defender that appears to be a step ahead mentally in comparison to his counterparts. His athletic ability appeared to be good enough at a lower level of college football, but he may need time to adjust to NFL speed. While he lacks a big time physical presence, he can make up for it by playing with his eyes and feet. Could be destined for a nickel role in the NFL.

*Small school corner that looks as smooth as anyone when he’s on the field. I had limited looks at him this past year but it doesn’t take much to notice his easy movement and body control. Smith locates the ball and pounces with minimal wasted motion, something I always look for in CBs. He will need more time than most but I think he has top 5 upside among this CB group.

11 – Alex Carter – Stanford – 6’0/196 – 74

*Physically there is a lot to like with Carter. He’s tall, long, fast, explosive, quick…all of the above. Teams are going to like his package and I think there is a shot he ends up being a top 45 pick, the upside is huge and teams like to take chances on high-end athletes at this position. Carter underachieved at Stanford, though. He doesn’t have the ball skills and he doesn’t anticipate. Worthy of a 3rd rounder for sure but not much earlier. I think he will be on the NYG roster.

12 – Garry Peters – Clemson – 6’0/191 – 74

*Quicker than he is fast, which I am fine with at the CB spot. He may be best suited for the Cover 2 scheme because he can really anticipate throws and routes. It was common to see him jump routes before receivers made their break. If he didn’t miss 2013 with a foot injury, we could have been talking about him as a 2nd rounder.

13 – Donald Celiscar – Western Michigan – 5’11/197 – 73

*Not sure if he is better suited at S or CB. His athleticism can be questioned when it comes to long speed, although he is more than quick footed and balanced enough for CB. I just don’t think he is a good enough tackler or big enough for safety. Celiscar is a great press corner, he can beat guys up at the point of attack and he shows the initial quick movement to stick with guys underneath. He could be a deep liability but I like him enough to warrant a 3rd/4th round grade.

14 – Craig Mager – Texas State – 5’11/201 – 73

*Mager is a package-defensive back that is becoming more and more popular as time passes. He may not be the ideal press corner due to a lack of length, but he can come in and play mix coverages from the slot. He even has some over the top safety coverage skills to work with. I like the ball skills and I like his approach. He can be drafted as a CB but he’ll show the necessary versatility to play multiple roles within nickel and dime packages.

15 – Kevin White – TCU – 5’9/181 – 73

*There is one cornerback that faced off against West Virginia’s WR Kevin White that won the matchup from start to finish. And that is TCU’s Kevin White. Confusing, I know. White is an easy mover with the right blend of patience and aggression. He can run with anyone downfield and stick to anyone’s hip pocket underneath. I think there is a good shot he can outperform several of the guys in front of him on this list.

16 – Quandre Diggs – Texas – 5’9/196 – 73

*After a former favorite of mine Kenny Vaccaro left Texas for the NFL, the belief was that Diggs would step in and take over his role and production. It didn’t work out as planned, as Diggs simply doesn’t have the frame and skill set for safety. He does impress me as a nickel corner though and I think he is going to stick somewhere in the NFL. There is a lot of demand for these smaller, but quicker athletes that can run with the slot receivers underneath. He is limited role-wise but I would trust him as much as anyone in that specific role.

17 – Ifo Ekpre-Olomu – 5’9/192 – 73

*He suffered a serious injury this past December and there is a good chance he will miss some, or even all of the 2015 season. Because of that I had to downgrade him by a few points. Without the injury, Ekpre-Olomu would have been a 2nd round grade. He has natural cover ability and instincts with the necessary make up speed and underneath change of direction. As an athlete, he has everything you want out of a CB. The issue is his size and it does show up on tape when he’s faced off with more physical receivers. He had a couple rough stretches in 2014 but all corners have them. If he comes back healthy he will present good value for where you can get him.

18 – Byron Jones – Connecticut – 6’1/199 – 72

*Jones is one of the best athletes in the country. He stole the show at the combine this year and because of that, some people are putting a 1st round grade on him. I think that is irresponsible. When you watch Jones on tape, and I’ve seen a lot of him, you don’t see anything more than a 4th rounder. He has long speed and size, yes. But he had a hard time sticking with guys all over the field. He shows poor adjustments and reactions and was too often playing a game of catch up. I understand potential based on physical gifts, but he is a clear example of a guy that keeps getting boosted by some people the further away from the actual game you get. Someone will overdraft him.

19 – Doran Grant – Ohio State – 5’10/200 – 72

*Grant lacks a little in the tools department. He isn’t tall or long, and his long speed can be rightfully questioned. What I love about his game and it boosted him quite a bit is the consistent approach he showed to compete. He plays as hard as anyone. He loves to play a physical game at the point of attack and he will tackle hard and consistently. Grant will compete his way on to the field and he’ll create a role for himself somewhere.

20 – Josh Shaw – USC – 6’0/204 – 72

*I really don’t know what to make of Shaw. I had to watch his junior tape because of his year-long suspension as a result of that weird situation last summer. Shaw looks the part, no doubt. But I watched him at the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl and he looked rusty, which was to be expected. But then I watched his junior tape and he looked similar. Kind of stiff and unsure. But every now and then he makes a play on the ball that makes you raise your eyebrows. He has the upside I want but just not sure how long it will take for him to get there. He is risky. Some may view him as a safety.

NYG APPROACH

Cornerbacks are a tough grade to dish out. So much of a player’s success is based on scheme and surrounding players. Sure, you have your elite corners that will excel within any defense, but the majority of these CB prospects will have a wide range of grades across the league. It is very likely a prospect will carry a 2nd round grade in one war room, but a 7th/UDFA in another. It happens every year. This year’s class has a good amount of physical corners that may lack some elite movement ability. Teams that have their corners in a lot of Cover 2 roles will really like this group. What is NYG looking for, though?

NYG doesn’t need a CB, but it’s a spot that should always be added to every year with young talent. It has become such a vital position and there are a few examples around the league where this group has just destroyed a team’s chances of winning games. Personnel wise they don’t need to over-draft any of these guys, but it’s on the list of positions that should be considered. I like the idea of bringing in one of these guys that can possibly project to safety if things either don’t work out, or are too crowded at cornerback. Give me Gunter, Celiscar, or even Shaw on day 3 and I would be happy. There is some talk floating around with people I trust who are not just headline makers that NYG is going to consider Waynes at #9 overall.

Apr 202015
 
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Stephone Anthony, Clemson Tigers (December 29, 2014)

Stephone Anthony – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Linebackers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*Below are my published, abbreviated reports via Ourlads Scouting Services, LLC

**A note about Pro Upside Comparisons: These are comparisons that are based on the player reaching his ceiling. It does not necessarily mean I believe the player will “be as good as”.

CURRENT LBs on NYG ROSTER

Jon Beason – 30 Years old – Signed through 2016

Jameel McClain – 30 Years old – Signed through 2015

Devon Kennard – 24 Years old – Signed through 2017

JT Thomas – 27 Years old – Signed through 2017

Jonathan Casillas – 28 Years old – Signed through 2017

Mark Herzlich – 28 Years old – Signed through 2016

Terrell Manning – 25 Years old – Signed through 2015

James Davidson – 25 Years old – Signed through 2015

Uani Unga – 28 Years old – Signed through 2017

Victor Butler – 28 Years old – Signed through 2015

Ryan Jones – 24 Years old – Signed through 2015

WHERE THEY STAND

For years I have been calling for more talent at the linebacker positions via the draft. There is the argument that it is a group simply not needed for 4-3 defensive success but I have always strongly disagreed. The impact that three powerful, fast, and versatile linebackers can have on a defense is huge. This is a group that lacks star power but there are plenty of guys that can fill roles. Beason and McClain are now in their 30s with lateral movement issues, but they can more-than-get-by with their instincts and quick reactions. They are the vocal leaders of this defense. Kennard had the brightest upside of this group, showing inside/outside versatility and the talent to be an impact defender. Thomas and Casillas are both athletic linebackers that will bring an overly aggressive nature to this group, something they have lacked over the years. At the very least both of them will have a strong impact on special teams. Herzlich and Manning are easily replaceable and they will have to work hard to fend off younger, more athletic version of themselves throughout the preseason. The rest of the names up there are training camp bodies, although I had a high grade on Unga when he came out of BYU. I’d like to see what he can bring to the table in this defense.

TOP 20 GRADES and ANALYSIS

1 – Stephone Anthony – Clemson – 6’3/243 – 83

Upside Pro Comparison: Derrick Johnson/KC

Strong Points: Quick thinker and mover within the tackle box. Diagnoses the running lanes and takes the right angle towards the action to miss the meat of a block. Fast transition from shuffle to explosion downhill. Very agile and can play fast with easy bending. Closes the gap in front of him fast. Hard tackler with mechanics and consistent results. Very aware of the action around him. Shows a lot of necessary tools to defend the inside run. Good blitzing linebacker from all angles. Can wiggle his way through the line and reach the passer consistently.

Weak Points: Becomes less and less effective the more he moves away from the point of attack. Struggles to change direction in space. Can be outraced to the sideline by faster rushing attacks. The instincts in coverage do not match what he can diagnose against the run. Will play high at times, exposing too much of his chest to the blockers.

Summary: 1st Team All ACC defender that builds his game off of awareness, strength, and tackling ability. Anthony is a quality inside run defender with quick, powerful downhill ability. While he is athletic enough to play in the NFL, he may not be considered a 3 down linebacker. This brand of NFL defense has taken a slight step backward but he can still carve a nice niche for himself at the next level. Smart defenders with strength, power, and downhill ability will always be in demand. Probable starter for most schemes but he needs to use his athleticism in coverage more to be considered a great three down linebacker.

*I saw Anthony twice in September and both times I came away with a negative impression. I penciled in a 3rd round grade and went on from there. As the season progressed I kept on hearing his name from some people I really respect and I was convinced to take a look at some of his games from the second half of the season. With those in mind and what I saw during the pre-draft process, Anthony cemented himself as the top linebacker grade I’ve given out in 3 years. He is a guy that could likely start at MIKE or WILL in the Spags scheme from day one. He isn’t an elite cover guy but he can evolve in to a better one considering his top tier athletic ability. I’m not sure I could spend a top 10 pick on a guy like this, but he will be in my top 12 overall. He’d be a great 2nd rounder.

2 – Eric Kendricks – UCLA – 6’0/232 – 82

Upside Pro Comparison: Lavonte David/TB

Strong Points: Ultra productive and reliable tackling machine. Has a nose for the ball. Quick thinker, sees the offense well and has a natural flow towards the action. Can fight his way under blocks. Quick and light feet but maintains a power presence. Good lateral pursuit to reach the sidelines. Aggressive and strong on the move, can deliver a violent pop no matter where he is on the field. Will drive his body through the ball carrier and consistently get them to the ground. Efficient mover in coverage. Rarely gets caught out of position or moving in the wrong direction. Can turn his hips and stick with receivers up the seam. Can reach proper depth when dropping in to coverage.

Weak Points: Lacks the ideal size from a between-the-tackles linebacker. Light in the pants and doesn’t have a long reach. Average movement in pursuit. May not have the speed-based range to play all over the field. Won’t take blocks and anchor his position.

Summary: Butkus Award winner. Nation’s leader in solo tackles in 2014 and 2012. Two time team captain and has won a couple leadership awards. Kendricks lacks the ideal tool set that coaches look to use in the NFL. He is slightly undersized and lacks the top tier speed and strength. All he does is produce, however. He reads the action as good as any player in the nation is consistently in a position to make plays. He is a reliable, heady player that will direct traffic and quarterback the entire defense. His knack for locating the ball and taking down whoever is carrying it will get him on the field. His size may limit him to the weak side but he will be as reliable as it gets.

*Superstar linebacker? I don’t think so. But Kendricks is going to be a very solid player in the NFL and I have no doubt about it. He is a really safe pick. He lacks a couple of ideal size aspects but he is as smart as it gets and doesn’t miss tackles. Down the road I think he can be a MIKE but I think he could be a 100+ tackle WILL right away. He would fit this defense right now as well as any linebacker in the class. Spending a 2nd rounder on him would be a solid value.

3 – Denzel Perryman – Miami – 5’11/236 – 80

Upside Pro Comparison: Jon Beason/NYG

Strong Points: Thick, country strong linebacker that can drive himself through a ball carrier with consistency. Angry tackler with a power presence. Quick mover and an even quicker thinker. Brings a lot of force to every hit he makes. Can react to the action right after the snap and get himself in to position. Makes himself small to blockers and will sneak his way to the action. Low center of gravity. Great body control and balance. Explosive when moving downhill. Head is always on a swivel. Able to diagnose plays based on what is going on around him.

Weak Points: Lateral range is average. Struggles against the faster offenses to reach the sidelines. The further in space he gets, the lesser of an athlete he looks like. Won’t get off blocks fast enough. Looks overwhelmed when linemen have a free path to him. Gets lost in the traffic. Will have a hard time seeing through and/or over blockers. Size and speed may be a limiting factor at the next level.

Summary: 3rd Team All American and Finalist for the Butkus Award. Has been the leading or second leading tackler for Miami all four years of his career. Equally productive as an outside or middle linebacker. Perryman is an instinctual mover that is almost always in position to make a play against the run. He is an elite tackler that combines form and power. Leader of the defense with a lot of responsibility directing traffic around him. There are holes in his game that mainly come from a lack of size and speed but he is a true gamer that will find a way to make an impact each week. Future starter in the NFL at almost any linebacker position other than the 3-4 OLB spot.

*There are some people that hate Perryman and some that love him. I’ll be very interested to see where he goes draft weekend, as I have him graded as a 1st rounder but I’ve heard as low as round 4 from people with connections to teams. Perryman would be an ideal WILL in the Spags scheme from a run defending perspective. Yes, he may need to be taken off the field on passing downs but you know what? You need to get to third down. If you can’t stop the run, you won’t make it to 3rd down. Perryman is a bigger asset against the run and short passing game than he is a liability against the intermediate and long passing game. He is worth NYG’s 2nd rounder for sure.

4 – Bernardrick McKinney – Mississippi State – 6’4/246 – 79

Upside Pro Comparison: Emmanuel Lamur/CIN

Strong Points: Athletically gifted and tools-rich. Versatile athlete that lines all up all over the field, capable of wearing different hats. Explosive and fast athlete in space. Can turn speed in to power quickly. Functionally strong in short areas, can deliver a violent pop to blockers and ball carriers. Incredible wingspan and reach as a tackler. Wraps up and swallows his target after powerful initial contact. Effective blitzer. Can get off blockers using different ways to shake free. Bends well and can play a low pad level game. Strong hands to grip and rip off a blocker. Effective in coverage with loose hips and quick acceleration. Has the speed to hang with receivers in space.

Weak Points: Better athlete than he is a football player. Lacks the quick reactions and plays a lot of catch up. Delayed reads when in traffic. Doesn’t keep his head on a swivel and will be tricked by play action and counters. Takes too many false steps. Doesn’t get himself in position to make plays against the inside run consistently. Struggles to anchor his position via strong presence from his base.

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. All American. Top tier athlete for the position that gradually improved his overall level of play throughout the 2014 season. Was also an accomplished high school quarterback and basketball player. McKinney is one of the most explosive 250 pound athletes in the nation. He is an easy mover that creates a tremendous amount of force in short areas. His physical gifts outweigh his skill set at the moment, but he is steadily improving the nuances and reading ability of the linebacker position. His upside and potential are among the best in this draft class.

*When a prospect is a better athlete than what he shows on tape, I’m always worried. McKinney has all the size you can ask for and he is as explosive as some of the top wide receivers in this draft class. The issues is he doesn’t always display that kind of ability on tape but even his biggest opposers have to admit the light started to come on for him in 2014. He showed enough to me to warrant a high 2nd round grade because of where I think he will be in another year or two. McKinney is a similar talent to Kennard but I think there is a higher upside with him. If he continues to mentally and physically develop, he could be a star in the NFL. But I would project a potential “bust” with him more so than anyone on this list. Huge risk/reward.

5 – Shaq Thompson – Washington – 6’0/228 – 78

Upside Pro Comparison: DeAndre Levy/DET

Strong Points: Explosive, all over the field type athlete. Easy mover in space, has defensive back-caliber hips and footwork in coverage. Closes a ten yard gap as fast as any defender in the nation. Aggressive downhill tackler, will meet the ball carrier at the point of attack and stifle him with a strong initial pop. Hits hard with or without a running start, shows enough quick twitch power to handle between the tackles duty. Easily reaches the edge and tackles well on the move to the outside. Diagnoses quickly and reacts to the action without hesitation. High football IQ, aware of his positioning and where he needs to be. Has a knack for the big play.

Weak Points: Gets lost in traffic and overwhelmed by the bigger blockers. Will over pursue and create cutback lanes for ball carries. Chooses to run around the action rather than filling lanes. Struggles to consistently follow assignment football. Doesn’t wrap up consistently, needs to show more discipline with wrapping up. Needs more strength and size to handle a head on blocker.

Summary: Junior entry. First Team All American. Scored four touchdowns as a defender in 2014. Also played running back, finishing the year with 61 carries (7.48 avg) and 2 touchdowns. Versatile athlete that can fit in to several roles on defense. Former safety five start high school recruit. The speed and explosive athletic ability are elite. Thompson has developed the power and strength elements of his game, giving him the all around skill set to play every down in the NFL. He has sideline to sideline range and can even cover wide receivers in space. If he can continue to physically develop, Thompson has All-Pro potential at the next level.

*Interesting prospect here. Watching highlights of him and it’s hard not to dream of what he could do for the NYG defense. To get a real feel for who he is though, you need to watch 2-3 games in their entirety. Thompson looks overwhelmed for 3-4 plays in a row, then all of the sudden blockers can’t touch him and he’s finishing ball carriers off like Ray Lewis. Thompson is very role-specific and that’s what prevented me from giving him a round 1 grade. However, if a defense can let him do what he does best, he’ll deliver. And you know what? It wouldn’t hurt to have him in the offensive backfield as a short yardage back as well. I think he’ll eventually get in to that role in addition to being a defender. He showed very good RB skills.

6 – Cole Farrand – Maryland – 6’2/231 – 78

Upside Pro Comparison: Kiko Alonso/PHI

Strong Points: Wiry-strong frame with easy bend and mobility. Shows light feet with an explosive lower half. Can change direction with ease and will reach his top speed quickly. Smart player that reads the action. Consistently puts himself in position post-snap to impact the play. Can be slippery to blockers with his combination of bend-ability and quickness. Violent tackler. Delivers a strong jolt to the ball carrier, will snap helmets back. Easy mover in coverage, can flip his hips and react to the passer’s eyes.

Weak Points: Body control isn’t always there. His mind moves faster than his body. Will over-pursue and lose track of backside pursuit responsibilities. Speed to the sidelines is sub-average. Gets too hands-on in coverage. Struggles to break free from blockers that get their hands inside. Gives up too much ground against straight ahead blockers.

Summary: Fourth year senior and three year starter. Led the Terps in tackles two of the past three years. Farrand is an overlooked but fully capable linebacker with the tools, skills, and toughness to be an NFL starter. He is smart and instinctive before and after the snap. He pursues like his hair is on fire and finishes his tackles as if the ball carrier just kicked his puppy. Farrand is a three down player that may lack some top end speed, but has more than enough to factor in any kind of scheme in almost any kind of linebacker role. He will out produce many linebackers that are drafted ahead of him.

*So every year there is a linebacker or two that I am MUCH higher on than everyone else. This year, it’s Farrand. He wasn’t invited to the combine or the Senior Bowl and a lot of people I respect say he may not get drafted. It hasn’t deterred me from having a 2nd round grade on him. Farrand is a fun player to watch, the motor never turns off and he can fly all over the field. I like LBs that are constantly around the action. Farrand is rarely found away from the ball at the end of a play, he is a natural read and react defender. Athletically he has good size and put together a very impressive Pro Day performance. He is a much more athletic and more physical version of what NYG has in Herzlich. He is going to out-produce several guys drafted ahead of him.

7 – Taiwan Jones – Michigan State – 6’3/245 – 77

Upside Pro Comparison: David Harris/NYJ

*Jones is another thumper that could excel as an NFL run defender day one. When looking at his size, he has the natural gifts that NYG usually looks for with long arms and big hands to go along with a thick frame. Jones is as physical as it gets when it comes to taking on blockers at the point of attack and will make plenty of plays in the tackle box. He is likely a MIKE-only and may be best suited in the 3-4 scheme, but he could be a nice option for NYG to have is Beason doesn’t work out due to age and injuries.

8 – Martrell Spaight – Arkansas – 6’0/236 – 76

Upside Pro Comparison: Demeco Ryans/PHI

Strong Points: Fast reaction and great pre-snap reads. Gets himself in to position to make plays consistently. Minimal false steps, almost always moving in the right direction. Sure mover that can generate speed and power. Does not get fooled by counters or play action. Gets proper depth in coverage. Keeps his head on a swivel and will read the routes and quarterback simultaneously. Sneaks by blockers and has a nose for the ball. Good tackler, wraps up with good technique and good power. Effective blitzer, times it well and explodes out of his two point stance. Can use his hands and feet to get off blocks. Aggressive and sure minded.

Weak Points: Undersized for playing between the tackles as much as he does. Light in the pants. Doesn’t have staying power against blockers. Can be ridden out of a play if he doesn’t get the initial positional advantage after the snap. Limited athlete when pursuing to the outside, may not have that lateral range to reach the sidelines. Limited starting experience at the Division I level.

Summary: 2014 SEC leader in tackles. Former JUCO All American that has only one season of starting experience at the Division I level. Broke out in a big way in 2014. Spaight forced his way on to the national radar with a consistently productive season. He is one of the smartest pre and post snap defenders in the nation. He is constantly moving in the right direction and he knows how to locate the football and finish. He is not an elite mover and there are athleticism deficiencies, but players like this find a way on to the field and produce when given the opportunity. He may never be elite, but he will be reliable.

*Leading a conference like the SEC in tackles doesn’t weight lightly in my mind. Spaight lacks some of the talent and explosion of some of the top guys in this group, but it’s hard not to really like him after watching a few games. He is as good as it gets when it comes to taking a correct first step and working his way to the action. He is smart and savvy, a perfect general for the middle of any defense. Is he better suited for the 3-4? Sure. But he can hack it as a future MIKE for NYG while possibly bringing something to the table as a WILL right away.

9 – Hayes Pullard – USC – 6’0/240 – 75

Upside Pro Comparison: Manti Te’o/SD

Strong Points: Packs a hue punch, outplays his size. Violent and powerful tackler that will deliver a jolt to the ball carrier. Generates a lot of power within a short space. Attacking, downhill-type defender. Has the speed to reach the sidelines as well. Diagnoses quickly and moves with his eyes. Can get in to position with savvy decision making and quick, last second movement. Can make himself small and wiggle his way through traffic. Will meet blockers at the point of attack with aggression. Reliable tackler in traffic and in space, can make any kind of tackle.

Weak Points: Lacks the ideal size for play between the tackles. Will get overwhelmed and driven out of the play by blockers with a clean shot at him. Doesn’t use his hands to shed blockers, gets locked on to. Stiff in coverage, doesn’t turn and change direction with fluidity. Needs a lot of recovery time as a pass defender.

Summary: Fifth year senior, started all four seasons in the middle or the weak side. Led USC in tackles three of his four seasons. Pullard came to USC with a lot of hype and he performed at a high level through the end of his career there. He may not have the ideal size, but Pullard plays big and can add a violent, aggressive element to an NFL defense right away. He may be restricted to the weak side because of his lack of size and ability to deal with blockers, however. He will need to improve his performance against the pass if he wants to be more than a two down linebacker at the next level. At the very least, Pullard has the potential to be a star special teamer with the potential to be a solid contributor on defense as an athletic, rangy run defender.

*Pullard may have never reached his superstar status that many thought he would, but he is still a very good LB prospect. He can fit in to any scheme and will likely be able to play all three downs if need be. Pullard lacks explosion but he is quick at the point of attack and he knows how to finish. Very reliable tackler and he’ll make more plays than you think. Special teams demon and probably starter within a year or two at WILL or MIKE.

10 – Jake Ryan – Michigan – 6’2/240 – 75

Upside Pro Comparison: Chad Greenway/MIN

Strong Points: Sound technician. Quick thinker with consistent flow towards the action. Hard hitter that wraps up while trying to run through the ball carrier. Good back side pursuit. Takes good angles towards the ball and will make plenty of tackles on the other side of the line. Good straight line speed. Comfortable in space. Easy mover in coverage with light feet and loose hips. Productive and effective blitzer.

Weak Points: Gets lost in traffic. Reacts too slowly after diagnosing the blockers. Will play too high and gets locked on to by linemen. Short area quickness and explosion isn’t there. Torn ACL in the Spring of 2013.

Summary: Fifth year senior and two time team captain. Considered to be the leader of the Wolverines defense. Blue collar player. Ryan has played a couple of different positions, proving to be productive no matter where he lined up. He led the team in tackles in both 2012 and 2014 while showing the ability to be a true three down player. He may not have the movement ability and natural nose for the ball to be a starter right away, but he can factor as a quality backup and special teamer.

*A couple years ago Ryan was heading towards an eventual 1st round grade but a torn ACL and lack of speed development later, he’s entering his class with a 3rd round grade on my sheet. He is definitely a serviceable guy that will get a shot at some point, just not sure there is an upside here that you would choose over others guys in the class. He did have a few games in 2014 where he showed flashes of prospect with a higher grade. I like his approach and toughness. You could do much worse than him but he may need a specific role.

11 – Ramik Wilson – Georgia – 6’2/237 – 74

*He ran a 4.77 at the combine but I think Wilson may have the best lateral range from inside of all the LBs in this class. He is a quick accelerator that constantly plays with top tier effort and toughness. He could use more lower body strength but I think he’s a guy that screams Cover 2 defense type roles. He can help a defense looking for more athletic ability.

12 – Kwon Alexander – LSU – 6’1/227 – 73

*Undersized but tougher than everyone he plays against. It is fun to watch a guy weighing under 230 pounds beat the crap out of tackles and guards. Alexander does that but also shows the speed to reach the sidelines and shadow tight ends in coverage. Put him in the right scheme and you may have a Lavonte David type defender.

13 – Paul Dawson – TCU – 6’0/235 – 73

*He was viewed as a 1st rounder by some this past fall. He had a horrific combine and some reports have surfaced that he is a bad teammate and poor practice guy. I downgraded him a few points because of it. As a between the lines player, Dawson is versatile and brings playmaking ability. He isn’t a guy that fits a role though, as he roams too much and can really hurt a defense because of his approach. There is a lack of discipline here that appears on and off the field.

14 – Geneo Grissom – Oklahoma – 6’3/262 – 73

*Has the NFL body already and could handle the physical part of the game week 1 of the season. Some view him as a 3-4 OLB only but I think this could be a hybrid that NYG has been searching for but with enough movement ability to factor in coverage packages as well. He could be a nice SAM here in NY.

15 – Josh Keyes – Boston College – 6’2/230 – 71

*Interesting guy here. If I had to give another name of a guy that I think will out-perform several others that are drafted ahead of him, it’s Keyes. He played an interesting, rush linebacker type role for the BC defense. There were times where looked unblockable against some of his best competition. I think this kid is a gamer and he’s added some needed weight in addition to an impressive pro day performance. If he can show he is more than an undersized rush linebacker, I think he can be a big time defender.

16 – Bryce Hager – Baylor – 6’1/234 – 70

Tackling machine that excelled at moving his way through traffic and locating the ball. He is fast, smart and savvy. He can avoid the meat of blocks and doesn’t need much to produce. He can create on his own with a combination of instincts and quick feet. Special teamer that could produce his way in to a bigger role.

17 – Mike Hull – Penn State – 6’0/237 – 70

*Similar to Hager and Heeney from a read and react point of view but a slightly lesser athlete. Hull can get locked on to and will get overwhelmed more often than I like. But he simply won’t miss tackles and could likely give a team 100+ of them in year one if he started right away. Just not sure I see the upside here.

18 – Ben Heeney – Kansas – 6’0/232 – 68

*Another tackling machine here that raised eyebrows at the combine with probably the best workout among all the LBs. He put up defensive back type results. Heeney can play with that kind of speed and quickness but there are countless examples on tape that he struggles to finish off plays. He missed more tackles than any defender in the country in 2014. He is a special teamer that can backup spots in the NFL, but I think he lacks “it”.

19 – Quinton Alston – Iowa – 6’1/235 – 68

*Between the tackles thumper that has more speed to his game that I initially thought. He can reach the edges and he maintains power on the move. Quality MIKE/WILL blend in the Spags scheme that could add some special teams presence as well.

20 – Jordan Hicks – Texas – 6’1/236 – 68

*One of the most impressive athletes of all these linebackers and he is a guy that started to click mentally in 2014. Someone is going to him enough to spend a day 2 pick on I think. I’m not as high but the upside is higher than most of the guys he is grouped with. I would rather this kind of athlete factor better in coverage than what Hicks showed.

NYG APPROACH

This LB group is stronger and deeper than any of what I’ve been grading over the past 5 years. There are several MIKE-type linebackers that could fill in at WILL and even a few that could play an athletic SAM role. There isn’t a whole lot of demand for LBs in the draft, as it seems really good grades always fall to day three. With the amount of depth in this group, I could see a good amount of day 2 grade being available in rounds 4 through 6. With that in mind, it may be too tempting to keep passing on these guys despite the need at LB not being huge.

There are a lot of LBs on this roster already. One could make the argument that NYG is fully stocked there and bringing in a rookie would force an unnecessary cut. While the need at LB isn’t what I labeled it to be over the past few years, I would gladly bring in anyone of these kids and get Herzlich off the roster. I know he brings special teams presence and backs up multiple positions, but I’m confident a lot of these kids could as well while offering more long term upside. The MIKE is filled by Beason, fine. Kennard will play SAM and possibly roam through different spots depending on the package. But the rest of the names are not far and away better than the top guys on this list. LB is definitely an option on day two. As I said earlier, if NYG can bring in a big time player to the second level of the defense, we could see things change in a way some simply don’t know exists.

Apr 172015
 
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Dante Fowler, Florida Gators (November 15, 2014)

Dante Fowler – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Ends and Edge Rushers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*DISCLAIMER* – I am putting all the edge rushers in this group. If I think the player is a primarily a pass rusher (whether it be OLB or DE) he will be in this group, no matter the size.

*Below are my published, abbreviated reports via Ourlads Scouting Services, LLC

**A note about Pro Upside Comparisons: These are comparisons that are based on the player reaching his ceiling. It does not necessarily mean I believe the player will “be as good as”.

CURRENT DEs on NYG ROSTER

Jason Pierre-Paul – 26 Years old – Signed through 2015

Robert Ayers – 30 Years old – Signed through 2015

Damontre Moore – 23 Years old – Signed through 2016

Kerry Wynn – 24 Years old – Signed through 2016

George Selvie – 28 Years old – Signed through 2015

Jordan Stanton – 24 Years old – Signed through 2016

WHERE THEY STAND

We still have to say this group is a strength of the team no more. Gone are the days of NYG having “too many” quality edge rushers. The pass rush did improve in 2014 from 2013, however and there is reason to hope this can be a quality group if things line up and they all stay healthy. JPP was franchised and is fully capable of being a top 10 DE in the game. His performance against the run goes overlooked, he really is a true three down player. Ayers was arguably the best NYG defender in 2014, showing left/right and inside/outside versatility. When I talk about presence, approach, and attitude, Ayers is a perfect example of what this team needs more of. I think Moore has been under-utilized throughout his young career and his has he potential to be a very disruptive player. He may be a bit of a liability against the run, showing a lack of anchor-type strength but he is a tough guy to block off the edge on passing downs. He needs more snaps. Wynn showed promise in preseason 2014 and finally got a few looks late in the season and produced. Selvie was brought in to rotate with the guys mentioned above. The light has turned on for the tools-rich edge rusher and can easily be a 8-sack guy every year if the snaps are there. Stanton is a training camp body.

TOP 20 GRADES and ANALYSIS

1 – Dante Fowler – Florida – 6’3/261 – 84

Upside Pro Comparison: Cliff Avril/DET

Strong Points: Versatile edge player with the tools and skills to be moved around all over the defense. Has the short area explosion and turns speed in to power on a whim. Bendy and stout at the same time. Can get under the blocker’s pads with force and all of his balance. Has the speed in space to run with backs and receivers. High effort, aggressive nature that plays hard through the whistle. Pursues to the sidelines and shows the functional speed and strength to factor all over the field in any role. Heavy hands and powerful leg drive. Has an array of rush moves that appear natural for him to use.

Weak Points: Technique and mechanics have flaws every time I see him on tape. Inconsistent presence and approach. Struggles to recover after being beat off the ball. Won’t disengage from the more powerful blockers. Timing off the snap isn’t always there. Limited exposure in coverage, may be a downhill-only type player. Light in the pants, needs more weight below his waist.

Summary: Junior entry. All American season in 2014. Won the team’s MVP award in 2014 as well. Turned in to the feature player on this defense once Dominique Easley went down with an injury in 2013. Easley is a disruptor off the edge that played standing up and with his hand in the dirt. Fowler lost over 20 pounds over his three year career with the Gators and it looks like that may one of the main reasons he broke out in a big way this past season. He is a lot more explosive and fluid when he is playing at or below 260 pounds. His best role is at outside linebacker in a 3-4 front where he can be turned loose and blend his short area power and explosion. He will need to improve his approach from a mechanical perspective and he could use more lower body strength, but he is an immediate impact guy on the edge.

*Fowler isn’ the athletic freak that some make him out to be. He really gets by on grit, hustle, and a level of aggression that a lot of players don’t have. His production in college was back and forth because of his constantly-changing role and body. He was 20 pounds heavier at one point, putting his hand in the ground and playing inside gaps at times. In 2014 Fowler found his best role with 20 pounds off his frame and he’s now a top 10, possibly top 5 prospect. He can play DE in a 4-3 but I don’t think it’s his best role. He performs better standing up and he could play a Von Miller/Khalil Mack type role. If he is there at #9 somehow, NYG has to consider him strongly.

2 – Shane Ray – Missouri – 6’3/245 – 84

Upside Pro Comparison: Trent Cole/IND

Strong Points: Explosive pass rusher with the ability to reach the passer several ways. Explosive first step gives him the initial advantage. Turns the corner low and fast. Flexible hips allow him to explode from the lower half with plenty of strength. Violent tackler. Sends a jolt to his target. Can be stunted inside where he is just too quick and agile for the interior blockers. Consistent aggression, motor is always on. Pursues hard and fast, will make plenty of plays away from the line of scrimmage.

Weak Points: Lacks the ideal build for a defensive end. Light in the pants. Does not anchor his position against the run right at him. Will over pursue and create cutback lanes for running backs. Does not recognize the trap blocks, won’t read the offensive line to get himself in position. Ineffective bull rush against his toughest one on one competition.

Summary: Junior entry. Fourth year junior that has played on an incredibly talented defensive line all three years. Has been used as part of a rotation. Broke out in a big way in 2014 with 21 TFL and 12.5 sacks. Ray is ultra-talented from an athleticism perspective. He can beat blockers with straight line speed, change of direction, balance, leverage, and agility. He is a skilled player in addition, showing a variety of pass rush moves and routes to the quarterback. He may lack the ideal size, power, and strength for some schemes but plain and simple, he can reach the quarterback. His intensity and passion for the game should create even more opportunities for him to make plays. He may be somewhat scheme-specific but his impact in the NFL could be Pro-Bowl caliber.

*I’ve been on Ray from the beginning. There are size and strength concerns here and you would be silly to not admit it. He in’t long, He isn’t thick. He doesn’t have a wide frame. What Ray has that others lack however is a level of explosion, speed, and aggression with pads on that others simply do not. Ray is a guy that will fight harder than the player assigned to block him every down of every game. While he struggles to anchor his position against straight ahead power blockers, Ray still has a presence. He delivers violent hits and pops to ball carriers. He can stifle offensive tackles in their tracks. Ray is a passionate player that finds ways to beat his man. Is he a 3 down player right away? Probably not. But the impact he can have on a game is enormous. He is worth the #9 pick.

3 – Owamagbe Odighizuwa – UCLA – 6’3/264 – 82

Upside Pro Comparison: Osi Umenyiora/FA

Strong Points: Gifted tools from frame and athleticism perspectives. Explosive out of his stance. Can get in to a blocker right away and initiate the engagement. Wide array of pass rush moves that seem refined and ready to go at all times. Really quick and powerful hands when using a swim or rip. Easy bender that can cut the corner of the edge with ease. Functionally strong, can turn speed in to power in a blink. Hyper-active athlete, motor is always on. Shows a passion for the game. Good tackler that uses his length to swallow the ball carrier. Defends the run well. Stays under the pads of his blocker to maintain and anchored position. Late and sudden movement to get off the blocks and in position to make the tackle.

Weak Points: Shows the tendency to get locked on to when rushing the passer. Needs to add more generate more power from his base, doesn’t offer much as a bull rusher. Will over pursue and create cutback lanes. Won’t read the action and is often late to react. Missed all of 2013 with a hip injury.

Summary: Has the talent and style of play to far exceed the production he put up in college. Odighizuwa has a blend of power, speed, and flexibility that is rare to come across. When he puts all of his tools together with his hyper motor, he can be a nightmare for a lone blocker to deal with. He needs to become a smarter player and learn to shed blocks when defending the run. If he can do that, there is a very high ceiling when looking at his potential. Starting-caliber defensive end here with a blend of everything one can ask for in a defensive end.

*From the first game I scouted of Owam, I’ve felt this guy has the goods to be an elite pass rusher in the NFL. He has the get off, he has the easy flexibility, he has the hand power, he has the pass rush moves and most importantly the motor never turns off. The slight issue here is a hip problem that has hampered him in the past. Even though he’s been at full strength for almost two years now, there are medical reports out there that will dictate how far he drops. I did factor that in to his final grade and if it wasn’t in the picture, Owam would be one of my top 8 grades in the class. If he somehow fell in to round 2, he is a guy I would even consider trading up for from #40 overall.

4 – Vic Beasley – Clemson – 6’3/246 – 81

Upside Pro Comparison: Von Miller/DEN

Strong Points: Explosive edge rusher that can accelerate quickly. Bends well and can sneak both by and under offensive tackles. Good uses of hands, he can use them with power and quickness. Can deliver a violent swipe on the move when a blocker tires to lock him up. Violent hitter and tackler. He can really make his presence felt when he reaches the ball carrier. Consistent aggression. Hustles across the field with top tier pursuit speed. Combination of pass rush moves can be called upon at any point. At his best from a pure speed rush stance, but he can rip/spin/uppercut his way to the inside shoulder. Developed upper body with explosive power in space.

Weak Points: Lack of size, especially below the waist. Doesn’t fill the back side of his pants. In tight space, his strength and power appear to be on the weaker side. His impact play to play isn’t there. Doesn’t factor much against the run when it’s right at him. Struggles to control the engagement and get rid of blockers going right at him. Doesn’t break through the double team, nor does he anchor his position against them. Most likely not a fit for every scheme.

Summary: Beasley is an All American and Clemson’s all time leading sack artist. His game is based purely on speed, quickness, and hustle. There are some developed skills to his game as well when it comes to pass rush moves of different sorts. His struggle, however, has always been and will likely always be strength-based. He is light in the pants and he struggles to hold up against the bigger blockers in traffic. Boom or bust type player that needs a scheme that will boost his strengths and really hide his weaknesses. Could end up being strictly a situational player at the next level.

*Clemson was one of my main schools I was assigned to last summer, so I’ve seen pretty much every single one of Beasley’s games over the past two years. I was on him being a top 15 guy right away and I think there is still a shot he is the first edge guy taken. His get off and bend-ability are top tier. He has good upper body strength with powerful, quick hands and the foot speed of a wide receiver. Beasley is a pass rush specialist that will make tackles look downright silly, and good ones too. He is a hard guy to touch, let alone block out on an island. Are there concerns with his lower body strength and run defense? Absolutely. He isn’t a perfect, elite prospect. But the upside here may be the highest among all these guys. If NYG took him at #9, it could be the perfect fit for the role they have tried to create with much lesser athletes.

5 – Preston Smith – Mississippi State – 6’5/271 – 80

Upside Pro Comparison: Cameron Jordan/NO

Strong Points: Versatile pass rusher with the speed to rush the edge and the strength to rush the interior. Tough guy for blockers to move. Anchors his position against the run with a strong lower body and stiff arms. Sees the action and pursues the ball in traffic. At his best when bull rushing the inside shoulder of the offensive tackle. Gets out of his snap and hands on the blocker quickly. Wins a lot of battles post-engagement because of the initial hand and body position. Technically sound pass rusher. Creates matchup problems for any kind of blocker.

Weak Points: Doesn’t have the initial jump out of his three point stance. Won’t win the battles with a blocker on athleticism. Tight-hipped and won’t show the wiggle and late movement. Takes too long and too many steps to change direction. Doesn’t get near the action enough, will disappear for long stretches within a game.

Summary: First team all SEC defensive end that broke out in 2014 with a consistently productive season. Smith is a power rusher that displayed a developed and versatile skill set. He can be moved inside and out, exploiting matchup problems for the opposition. He gets to the passer a few different ways. His strength, and hand positioning allow him to rush between the tackles successfully but there is also a little pop to the outside that he can use when the offensive tackles lean to far inside. Smith has an ideal frame for the position and while there may be a slight athleticism deficit, he more than makes up for it with strength and consistent technique.

*Every year I feel NYG is looking for their next Justin Tuck. It’s hard to find a defender with really powerful presence, easy quickness, and inside/out versatility that is created from a combination of refined skills and high-upside tools. Smith is that guy. I think NYG is going to have a VERY high grade on Smith. #9 pick? I don’t think so but he is going to be a guy that will move around to get on their team. Smith is a legit day one starter in a 4-3 scheme and the inside/out versatility he showed at Mississippi State would be a godsend for Spagnuolo. He’s lost about 15 pounds since his playing weight in college and the athleticism he has shown over the past few months leads me to believe this guy has Pro Bowls in his future.

6 – Randy Gregory – Nebraska – 6’5/235 – 80

Upside Pro Comparison: DeMarcus Ware/DEN

Strong Points: Explosive edge rusher that moves well with ease. Smooth athlete with the frame to put on bulk. Easy bender with freakish flexibility and quickness. Changes direction with balance and power. High effort player, works hard on the field to do the little things right. Uses a variety of rush moves to the outside. Diagnoses the blocker’s strategy and pounces on to where is vulnerable. Can explode off the snap from a three point stance or standing up starting position. Gets his hands inside with plenty of knee bend. Disciplined and patient pass rusher. Can set his man up and bounce off to accelerate past him. Finishes his tackles. Wraps up and drives to the ground.

Weak Points: Has a thin and almost lanky frame. Lacks a power game. Doesn’t play the inside run well, struggles to get himself off the power blockers. Won’t drive tackles back as a bull rusher. Can be stifled easily when he rushes the inside shoulder. Needs to be in space to be effective, not a traffic player. Has had a laundry list of injuries in 2014 (knee, toe, foot, concussion) after missing time over the summer with a minor knee surgery. There are questions concerning his ability to physically hold up in the NFL.

Summary: Gregory may be the top edge rushing prospect in this class. He has elite athleticism and the frame to put on more weight. He explodes off the snap and changes direction as if he were ice skating. He can bend his body in any direction at the snap of a finger. His struggles revolve around a lack of power and strength. He can be ineffective against the run to his inside shoulder and he won’t get much of a push. His long list of injuries need to be looked in to as well. The upside is huge but there are always players with this kind of situation that don’t pan out in the NFL, so buyer beware.

*It’s easy to see what everyone loves about this player. Gregory has top tier flexibility and ability to move. He is so fluid and easy and there is more power behind him than one thinks. He needs to get stronger but I don’t think he necessarily needs to add 30 pounds. He can out-muscle several guys that outweigh hum by a lot. Gregory can be a top tier edge player in this league but the question that made me downgrade him by 3-4 points was the drug concern. I have a hard time thinking football is Priority A when you fail a drug test that you know is coming. The NFL is not taking this stuff lightly and he will be on their radar from day one. There is talent here but he isn’t head and shoulders above these other guys, I’d rather go with lesser off the field risk.

7 – Arik Armstead – Oregon – 6’7/292 – 78

Upside Pro Comparison: Calais Campbell/ARI

Strong Points: Massive size from every perspective. Long and thick limbs. Can still bend well at the point of attack and can deliver as violent a punch as anyone in the nation. Shows the physical ability to dominate any matchup that is put in front of him. Has a suddenness to his game. Quick reaction and can move within a five yard window as fast as anyone. Makes the effort to get his pad level down. Can hold his ground at the very least, showing the short area power to get a constant push when he wants to. Explosive, hard hitting tackler that can put a ball carrier through the ground. Effective bull rusher with top tier driving power. Elite power presence with good and balanced footwork.

Weak Points: Pad level is inconsistent. Ineffective when he exposes his chest, giving blockers a massive target to lock on to. Effort runs hot and cold. Will lose track of his mechanics and rely too much on his size and ability. Was not nearly as productive as his talent would indicate. Does not have a natural flow towards the action, spends too much time away from the ball.

Summary: Junior entry. Played for the Oregon basketball team in addition for two years. Elite level tool set that has shown several flashes of being a rare player. Armstead is a big, thick body but moves like a basketball player. He has quickness, agility and grace in the open field. When his motor is on, Armstead can dominate anyone at the point of attack. His presence isn’t always felt on the stat sheet, but offenses will always need to know where he is. He is versatile enough to play on the outside of any scheme and could end up being an elite player if he continues to develop.

*In January I talked about Armstead as a top 10 caliber guy with his blend of size, power, and short area explosion. I dove deeper in to his game and found there are a few maddening inconsistencies but at his best, I think he is better than Leonard Williams. At almost 300 pounds, he can athletically handle 4-3 DE responsibilities as a pass rusher and simply dominate against the run. When his technique and effort were on, he was tossing blockers around like rag dolls. For the most part Armstead plays hard and physical and he would add a versatile option to this defense that could make an enormous difference on this defense. His long term upside can be discussed with the best young names in the game.

8 – Bud Dupree – Kentucky – 6’4/269 – 77

Upside Pro Comparison: Cameron Wake/MIA

* I do think the talks about him being a top 10 pick are real. I don’t want to claim to be on the inside but I keep hearing from people I trust that there are 3 teams in the top 10 that want him. Time will tell. I think it is a common, but rarely ever successful, situation where the guy has some explosion on tape and puts together a top tier workout which leads to an overly high grade. He does have a nice get off and there is above average flexibility, but I don’t see a guy that is going to consistently win the one on one battles. He’ll get his share and I do have him graded as a 2nd rounder, but I don’t see the special in him. He gets locked on to and struggles to disengage. I don’t see any bull rush ability. I see a guy that dances around too much. Can he fit in to a 4-3 DE role? Sure, but ideally you get a guy with better urn defense for the level of production he will offer as a pass rusher.

9 – Lorenzo Mauldin – Louisville – 6’4/259 – 77

Upside Pro Comparison: Jabaal Sheard/NE

Strong Points: Savvy edge rusher. Understands how to set up blockers throughout a game. Can dip and change direction with a natural flow. Explosive off the snap. Good body control and awareness. Pursues well, often found near the action. Strong tackler with good mechanics and power presence. Aggressive, high motor athlete that will make plenty of plays based on hustle alone. Understands how to use his length to his advantage. Will play with a low base and high hands. Can anchor his position against the run and get off blocks with quick, last second movement. Long strider in space.

Weak Points: Lacks a bull rush type presence to his game. Doesn’t push blockers back in to the pocket. Would rather dance around a blocker than drive through him. Lacks awareness and experience in coverage. Doesn’t play with his head on a swivel, will be tricked by blocking schemes involving traps and counters. Needs more strength and girth.

Summary: Mauldin is a tools-rich edge rusher with experience as a 4-3 DE and a 3-4 OLB. He is a comfortable athlete with plenty of ability to change direction in a small box and work his way to the pocket. He was used in a variety of ways at Louisville, constantly changing sides of the line, playing standing up and with is hand in the dirt, and rushing inside and outside shoulders. Very easy bender with short area pop. Mauldin will need to add strength and power to his repertoire but he is a natural, savvy edge player with the tools to be an effective player early on in his career.

*I struggled with the decision of Mauldin being a LB or DE/Edge. He played both at Louisville and he is the one guy on this list that is actually a factor when he drops back in to coverage. I’ll keep him here for now. Mauldin is a smart, smart player that can get himself in position to make plays quicker than others. There is legit talent here too. He can be explosive on one play, bull rush on the next, and use one of his refined moves after. He has a nose for the ball. He reminds me of DaMontre Moore in college actually. He can fit in to this scheme a few different ways.

10 – Henry Anderson – Stanford – 6’6/294 – 77

Upside Pro Comparison: Datone Jones/GB

Strong Points: Long and wiry strong type frame. Bends exceedingly well and is often found being the low man between him and the blocker. Quick and explosive out of his stance. Shoots the gaps well. Keeps his body low and strong hands in front. Works hard to get the inside position. Sheds blocks consistently and will get near or in on the action often. Wide array of rush moves. Rip, swim, and uppercut are all well developed. Accelerates hard within a short space. Shows tackle to tackle range. Good tackler, wraps up hard and aggressively finishes. Has surprising ability to speed rush the edge and turn the corner. Can hold the point and get rid of the blocker after diagnosing. Very good instincts and reaction.

Weak Points: Gets driven back by the double team. Once he gets stood up he has a hard time holding his position. Limited speed in the open field, lacks the extra gear in pursuit. Won’t explode in to the blocker and deliver a violent jolt. May have a limited power output at his current weight. Missed 6+ games in 2013 with a knee injury.

Summary: Fifth year senior with a lot of starting experience. Anderson is moved all over the line because of his versatile skill set. With his height and length, he can be a weapon between the tackles to combat the short, quick passing game with his ability to cloud the throwing lanes. There is also a good amount of flexibility and quickness that makes him a very good one-gap rusher. His reach for the blocker off the snap allows him to control the engagement and his skill set of shedding blocks while maintaining body control allows him to get in on a lot of action. High upside, versatile player that can wear a lot of hats.

*During the season I thought I would have Anderson graded as a first rounder. Once I started to really break him down, I found more holes in his game but I still think he can be a versatile difference maker in a 4-3. Some label him as a 3-4 only guy, and I wholeheartedly disagree. He would fit perfect as a LDE that shifts inside on passing downs. He is a classic pass rusher that can be too quick for power blockers, but too strong for the fast-footed blockers. At 6’6+, Anderson plays with a really low pad level and considering he has almost 300 pounds on that frame, he is simply a tough guy to block in any situation for any blocker. He lacks the superstar ceiling, but Anderson is the kind of guy that wins games. Every winning team as an Anderson on their team.

11 – Nate Orchard – Utah – 6’3/250 – 77

*Maybe the player I was impressed by the most at the Senior Bowl. Orchard lacks size and strength below the waist, but he was consistently productive against the run and pass. He is crafty more than he is talented but he showed a good combination of tools and skills against some stiff competition. He gave Peat, an OT I really respect, a headache for a few plays in their matchup.

12 – Eli Harold – Virginia – 6’3/241 – 76

*I remember watching Harold play in October and saying that was gonna be a guy I couldn’t wait to scout next year. He just looked like an NFL edge guy. I was surprised to see him come out early and I think he could have been a top 10 guy after another year of college football. I scouted him after the season and comparing him to the top edge guys on this list, he just isn’t on their level. He has good get off by the lacks hand strength and won’t disengage from blockers. There are a couple pieces missing but he is still a guy I think has the upside to be an impact player down the road.

13 – Mario Edwards – Florida State – 6’3/279 – 74

*There are a few guys telling me Edwards is going to be a 1st round pick. That may be the case but I think he is a day 3 guy. Edwards will be a solid role player with a high floor, you know what you are getting with him. He is big and powerful, can defend the run. Even has some surprising ability to move in space but there isn’t the quick twitch. I don’t see him as a pass rush factor or a guy that disrupts the backfield. Solid but unspectacular.

14 – Markus Golden – Missouri – 6’2/260 – 74

*I’ll tell you what, Golden was one of my favorite players in the nation this past year to watch. He is a mean, mean dude that has muscles growing on muscles. I want to grade him higher but he is lacking in several physical traits that are really important. He is short and he lacks length. He isn’t fast and he isn’t explosive. In the NFL, that’s a combination of weaknesses that rarely works out. But I will still put a 4th round grade on him and he is guy I would welcome with open arms at that point. He plays as hard as anyone and he will be good for physical presence and intensity, if nothing else.

15 – Danielle Hunter – LSU – 6’5/252 – 74

*Prime example of two players with the same grade but they leave a different taste in my mouth when looking at Hunter and Golden. Hunter is a guy I don’t like right now, but he is blessed with a tool set that can be developed in to superstar status. He has height, length, strength, speed, explosion, and flexibility. Those are important check marks. Hunter wasn’t productive at all in college but you can’t deny his upside. He is a multi-year project that I think will be drafted way before I would consider him an option for NYG.

16 – Trey Flowers – Arkansas – 6’2/261 – 73

*At first glance he is a ‘nothing special’ guy but the more you watch, the more football player you see in him. He is a coach’s favorite and if NYG is still on their obsession with team captains and top tier behavior off the field, Flowers is a guy that may want. He isn’t tall but he is long and he plays with a low pad level, tough guy to lock on to. He’s smart and he plays hard, there are some interesting tools here to work with. Limited upside but he could be a niche guy.

17 – Anthony Chickillo – Miami – 6’3/267 – 71

*Interesting guy here that some people I respect are very high on. He was in a tough spot at Miami, playing a 3-4 DE role and even shifting inside at times. He couldn’t display his combination of tools and skills until the pre-draft process, one he did very well with. I think NYG will be attracted to a guy like this, similar to the way they liked David Tollefson a few years back except Chickillo has more talent.

18 – Martin Ifedi – Memphis – 6’3/275 – 71

*Overlooked prospect by many but I think there will be a few teams with a high grade on him. Teams with hybrid fronts may even have a 3rd round grade on him. Ifedi excels once he engages with the blocker. He has quick feet and strong hands with long arms, making hum a tough guy to lock up. He isn’t explosive but he is crafty and times his reactions and movements well.

19 – Hau’oli Kikaha – Washington – 6’2/253 – 71

*Classic example of a guy that that had a productive, All-American type season and the draft community got too high on and immediately put him in the 1st round. I think I even saw one of the ESPN guys put him in the top 10 at one point. That has subsided and bit and I think he ends up exactly where I always thought he would, day 3. I love the energy/motor/aggression he brings to the table. He doesn’t have a power presence though and he won’t out-move NFL OTs. He can be a special teams weapon and situational guy at best.

20 – Zack Wagenmann – Montana – 6’3/247 – 71

Not sure this guy can hack it as a 4-3 DE, as I just don’t see the body type. But if NYG can create a role for a situational pass rusher from a LB type spot, Wagenmann is worth a day 3 look. At a lower level of college football, he looked like Clay Matthews with his explosion off the ball and relentless pursuit of the action. He is a physical guy that had a nice showing at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.

TOP UDFA SLEEPER

Andre Monroe – Maryland – 5’11/260

Yes that height is correct and yes some people won’t even look at him as a DE. If you want to see Iowa OT Brandon Scherff struggle, go watch him matched up against Monroe. Monroe is the all time sack leader at Maryland and he is a guy that makes any kind of blocker work extra hard from start to finish. I think this is a kid that will fight his way on to a roster and surprise people.

NYG APPROACH

From the early fall, I have viewed these edge prospects as a really strong and deep group. There are plenty of guys that fit the mold of an explosive speed rusher and plenty of guys that can play the every down role. I think there is a legit shot we see 5 of these kids go in the top 10 overall. If you miss out on one of the top guys, there will be plenty of options to go after an upside player in the rounds that follow. The main issue, however, several teams will be looking for edge help. It’s become such a high demand role, even for the teams that are considered to be strong there already.

My issue with NYG when it comes to pass rush is simple. I feel they have been hindering themselves from improvement by only targeting specific players that fit the traditional 4-3 DE roles. Guys that have to be a certain height/weight/length. Well, this year those guys simply are far and few between while there are several players that can help this team be more productive against the pass. I want NYG to be more innovative with their view and implementation of edge rushers in to their scheme. If they don’t select a Beasley, or Ray, or Fowler simply based on size and the traditional 4-3 DE “needs”, it will bother me. Hopefully Spags learned a thing or two in Baltimore about tweaking a system based on personnel. NYG has a decent group of DEs right now but who knows where JPP will be in a year and the adage remains, you can never have enough pass rushers. I would love to see NYG bring in one of those first 10 names I discussed.

Apr 142015
 
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Leonard Williams, USC Trojans (February 22, 2015)

Leonard Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Tackles

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*Below are my published, abbreviated reports via Ourlads Scouting Services, LLC

**A note about Pro Upside Comparisons: These are comparisons that are based on the player reaching his ceiling. It does not necessarily mean I believe the player will “be as good as”.

CURRENT DTs on NYG ROSTER

Johnathan Hankins – 23 Years old – Signed through 2016

Cullen Jenkins – 34 Years old – Signed through 2015

Kenrick Ellis – 28 Years old – Signed through 2015

Markus Kuhn – 29 Years old – Signed through 2015

Jay Bromley – 23 Years old – Signed through 2017

Dominique Hamilton – 26 Years old – Signed through 2015

WHERE THEY STAND

I wouldn’t call the current group of DTs a weakness but there is plenty of room for improvement across the board. Hankins has blossomed in to a quality three down player. He is a force against the run with his ability to control multiple gaps and make plays when he is single teamed. If you made a list of the top 10 DTs across the league, Hankins has a right to be on it. Jenkins and Ellis provide the balance of run and pass defense from the inside. Jenkins is a versatile and savvy defender that can take advantage of matchups inside and outside, while Ellis was brought in to add a much needed run defender to keep linebackers clean. The wildcard here is Bromley, a potential pass rush presence that NYG desperately needs. Many, including myself, believe he was over-drafted in round 3 last year. He has every opportunity to be a difference maker along this defensive line. Kuhn and Hamilton can compete for jobs, but neither have proven to be difference makers and decisions won’t be made based on them.

TOP 20 GRADES and ANALYSIS

1 – Leonard Williams – USC – 6’5/302 – 89

Upside Pro Comparison: Muhammed Wilkerson/NYJ

Strong Points: Physical marvel that has made an impact from day one of his career. Freakish combination of size, speed, and strength. Strong hands that grab on to the blocker and can toss them aside with ease. Plays with a low base and high hands. Holds the point of attack whether he is up against single or double teams. Powerful bull rusher up the middle with the ability to collapse the pocket. Can get to the quarterback a variety of ways from different spots along the defensive line. Versatile athlete. Can accelerate off his blocks. Can use his strength or quickness at any given point throughout the engagement. Explosive tackler that swallows ball carriers. Very aggressive, high effort player. Tough gamer, plays through injuries at a high level.

Weak Points: Doesn’t read the action around him. Will be forced in to compromising positions against trap blocks. Slow reaction to complex blocking schemes. Relies too much on strength and power rather than technique. Footwork is inconsistent. Doesn’t play the game with his feet as much as he does his hands.

Summary: Junior entry. Widely considered a top tier talent in this draft class as a whole. Williams is a true nightmare for offensive linemen. He is too big and fast for a lone blocker to take on. He can be moved around the defensive line in any scheme. His short area explosion and power presence can be a dominant force within the tackle box against the run. His speed out of his stance and variety of rush moves can collapse the edge of the pocket against the pass. There isn’t much that Williams cannot do and his impact on the NFL will be immediate.

*My top overall player in this class. He is expected by almost everyone to be one of the first two or three picks in the draft. He could fit the NYG scheme like a glove because of his inside-out versatility. He could legitimately play the 4-3 LDE role or the UT role. His length and foot speed make him a tough matchup for any kind of blocker. Combine that with his top tier intangibles and mental awareness on the field, Williams is probably the safest pick of the draft and offers All-Pro upside.

2 – Danny Shelton – Washington – 6’2/339 – 80

Upside Pro Comparison: Vince Wilfork/HOU

Strong Points: Powerful and high energy pocket collapser. Quick thinker that can read the action around him. Very smart and aware. Plays with a low and strong center of gravity. Can anchor his position against double teams. Generates a high amount of power from both his legs and hands. Stifles and controls the blocker with his initial punch. Pursues and hustles from sideline to sideline and all the way downfield. Gets near the action often. Can shed blocks several ways. And pull and jerk, undercut, and spin his way off the blocker. Light on his feet when he needs to be. Tenacious pass rusher with a violent and surprisingly athletic style. Can bull rush his way deep in to the pocket. Carries a lot of weight but moves surprisingly well.

Weak Points: Had several maturity issues early in his career. Weight will need to be monitored, as he carries a lot of loose meat. Initial explosion and quickness off the snap isn’t there. Will over pursue and neglect assignments. Struggles to change direction in short space. His momentum carries him out of the play.

Summary: 1st Team All American. Shelton has improved each and every season of his career both on and off the field. His maturity issues appear to be a thing of the past but those they still need to be investigated. Between the sidelines Shelton is a terror for linemen to block. He has tremendous functional power and strength. He is a high effort player that plays through the whistle with consistency. He outplays what his body type says he can do. He improves as the play goes on because of his rare ability to get off blocks and chase down the action. Shelton can fit in to any scheme and start from day one in the NFL.

*Shelton turned in to the favorite player of many people over the past 8 months. His senior season helped his draft grade as much as anyone in the class with All-American caliber production. I’ve seen a lot of him and I can’t say there is a “special” here, but by no means do I overlook his potential to be a terror for a defense from the inside. He can be a valuable run defender for any kind of scheme, not just the 3-4. He will absorb blockers but there is also a level of effort and ability that gets him involved on a lot of tackles. Pairing him with Hankins would create a sense of inside dominance against the run for NYG. He doesn’t fit the mold of what NYG usually goes for at DT, but I think there is still a good possibility he is their pick at #9 overall. NYG needs more consistent and reliable presence inside and pairing Shelton with Hankins would do exactly that. With a defense that needs more attitude, Shelton could be an immediate game changer.

3 – Carl Davis – Iowa – 6’5/320 – 79

Upside Pro Comparison: Haloti Ngata/DET

Strong Points: Big everywhere with a lot of functional strength. Long and thick frame that moves with plenty of athleticism and balance. Can play with proper leverage, bending easy at the knees with hands high. Can move his body quickly in tight spaces. Absorbs the double teams and anchors his position. Always seems to be in control of the engagement. Neutralizes the blocker and frees himself with a powerful grip and strong base. Swallows up the ball carrier when tackling. Wraps up well. Can fill an open lane while engaged with a blocker. Can diagnose by feeling the pressure from blockers and flow towards the action.

Weak Points: Strictly an in between the tackles player. Won’t make a lot of plays away from the line of scrimmage. Doesn’t explode in to the gaps. Will get too high once engaged, losing out on a lot of his strength. Limited pass rusher. Lacks the moves and hand work to free himself. Will almost always use a bull rush, needs more variety to his pass rush repertoire.

Summary: Two year starter that doesn’t jump off the stat sheet but makes his presence known every play. Huge frame that carries a lot of weight with ease. Consistently gets that push at the point of attack and will demand attention. He can keep the linebackers behind him free of blockers while clogging the inside running lanes. Davis has some sneaky athleticism to his game as well. When the action is near him, he can move his way towards the action and make a play. There is short area quickness and burst that very few players his size possess. He can be an impact player right away in the NFL in any defensive front.

*Davis is an intriguing case and prospect. There have been flashes from his time both at Iowa and the Senior Bowl where he looked like a top 10 player in the draft class. His size and presence was constant. He isn’t a guy that gets pushed back. He looked like a man among boys at times. His role in the Iowa defense was more about reading blockers and staying at home, absorbing space and bodies. Every now and then however, I would see him break out of his stance and carry multiple blockers in the backfield. After seeing him do the same at the Senior Bowl, I left with the impression there is some “special” in this kid. There are rumors of work ethic issues and he did seem to tire easily at Iowa, but I haven’t confirmed anything there. Davis is more than a run defender but very much like Shelton, his worst case scenario is a guy that is plus space eater with the upside of being another Hankins-type, true three down guy. Round 2 value would be very good here.

4 – Eddie Goldman – Florida State – 6’4/336 – 79

Upside Pro Comparison: Dan Williams/OAK

Strong Points: Thick from head to toe. Long arms and a wide frame, hold his weight comfortably. Fires out of his stance with his hands up and ready to go. Easy bender, stays below the pads of the blocker, consistently winning the leverage battle. Strong, heavy hands that are very functional. Aggressive at the point of attack. Shows the strength to anchor his position at the very least. Handles the double teams to keep linebackers clean. Effective bull rusher. Creates a tremendous amount of force to press the pocket. Can get in to a quarterback’s step up space in a blink. Has the quickness to jump out of his stance and in to the backfield. Can carry blockers in to the pocket.

Weak Points: Not as effective when he needs to use skill-based rush moves. He struggles to shed blocks if he doesn’t get the initial advantage off the snap. Lacks speed in pursuit, not a space player. Has lapses in concentration. Won’t read blocks and is often found out of position. Creates big cutback lanes and won’t always stay true to his assignment. Doesn’t always have the leg drive to produce maximum power.

Summary: Junior entry. Gifted athlete that has all of the physical traits that teams want out of a defensive tackle. Size, speed, flexibility, coordination are all there. Goldman often under-produced considering his ability. He has shown glimpses of being a terror to block inside, however. He is very quick off the snap and can bull rush the strongest of pass blockers deep in to the pocket. High potential athlete but still needs a lot of work on some of the finer, mental aspects of the game.

*It took me a few games to get a feel for Goldman and really appreciate the kind of player he is. I’ve known of him for a few years now, as I watched him play in high school here in NJ and I remember thinking NFL while watching him warm up. He is a little bit of a freak. He carries a lot of weight with ease, an athletic 330+ pounds. At FSU he never really broke out in to a playmaking, gap shooting defender but that doesn’t mean he didn’t perform. Goldman might be the best run stuffer in this class when it comes to eating blockers and chewing up space. He is the guy that rarely, if ever, gets pushed back regardless of having one or two blockers assigned to him. One thing that prevents him from a first round grade, however, is a lack of awareness and reading ability. He is late to recognize and won’t get near the action as much as someone like Shelton does. For the role he would play here in NY, Goldman would be a force. He is a better version, but similar player to Linval Joseph. And for those that like “inside info”, I have heard NYG has a high grade on him.

5 – Malcolm Brown – Texas – 6’2/319 – 78

Upside Pro Comparison: Randy Starks/CLE

Strong Points: Stout frame with equal thickness through his upper and lower body. Powerful and quick off the snap. Can explode out of his stance and reach the blocker before he is set up. Easy bender, consistently plays with a low pad level and body control. Incredibly strong hands. Can grip and rip the blocker away. Shows consistent ability to get off blocks and free himself up. Quick reaction. Can move fast within a phone booth and will make a lot of plays behind or at the line of scrimmage. Packs a big punch. Hits hard and can turn speed in to power right away. Accelerates off blocks and has range within the tackle box.

Weak Points: Shows a tendency to get stood up if he doesn’t win off the snap. Can get locked on to and struggles to get off the blockers that have a lot of hand strength. Lacks athleticism the further in to space he gets. Struggles to reach the blockers with his hands. Won’t always get inside position and it will take him longer to free himself. Will compromise his assignment but trying to get around blocks rather than stay in his gap, creating lanes.

Summary: Junior entry. 1st Team All American. Was nominated for some of the most prestigious defensive awards in college football. Is married with two children. Brown is a tough assignment for any blocker. He has the quickness off the snap to get in to the backfield within a blink of time, has the strength to toss blockers to the side, and has the instincts to naturally flow towards the action and always be around the ball. He knows how to finish. If he can stay on top of his technique, Brown has the potential to be one of the best in the league.

*There are some people I respect that have a top 10 overall grade on Brown. I like him, but not that high. There is a nice blend of talent here when looking at his size, movement off the snap, and ability to disengage from blockers. He lacks the standout quality though and too often I see him getting pushed off the ball. He doesn’t exactly anchor against power blockers. He is a gap shooter without top tier explosion ability. I think Brown is going to get over-drafted but that doesn’t mean I think he is a bust waiting to happen. He’ll be a player, just not the immediate star that some are saying. He can improve his game a lot with a simple in consistency of technique and mechanics. The talent is there, just not sure the skills are.

6 – Jordan Phillips – Oklahoma – 6’5/329 – 78

Upside Pro Comparison: Albert Haynesworth/RET

Strong Points: Massive presence. Tall, long, and functionally thick. Quick out of his stance and makes the offensive line react to him. Can get his hands on the blocker and control the engagement. Quickness to either side, moves well laterally. Hard hitter, can forcefully pound a ball carrier in to the ground. Has such a wide reach, can close a hole fast. Gets off blocks with sheer power or quickness. Consistently pulls and jerks offensive linemen out of the way. Elite strength from his base. Can anchor his position against double teams without giving up any ground. High effort player, consistent engine. Can press the pocket, bull rushes his way to the quarterback.

Weak Points: Limited athlete in space. Does not pursue well to the outside. Ball carriers can outrun his angles. Will play high out of his stance, exposing his numbers to the blockers. Lacks an array of refined pass rush moves. Lacks versatility and may not be a three down player. Doesn’t have that explosive element to his game. Back injury ended his 2013 season after 4 games.

Summary: Fourth year sophomore entry. Redshirt in 2011 and a medical redshirt in 2013. Limited experience player, but has the upside of a dominant inside force. Phillips demands the attention of multiple blockers every play. His combination of size, strength, and quickness off the ball consistently creates havoc. He is a space eater inside that is rarely pushed back by the double team. He can shorten a pocket when a blocker is left alone to pass block him. Phillips can be an immediate force inside at the next level as long as his back holds up. May never be a star, but he will be reliable.

*It took me awhile to catch on to Phillips, as I didn’t realize he was draft-eligible until December. There are games where Phillips reminded me of what Albert Haynesworth looked like the year prior to his free agency with Tennessee. There isn’t a blocker in the country that can keep Phillips from pushing the pocket. His combination of size, strength, and speed is too much for a lone man to handle. The problem for Phillips is actually one of his strengths, his height. He isn’t very well conditioned, so when he gets tired he stands straight up and makes it much easier for blockers to prevent from impacting the play. I don’t think there are effort issues here, but I’m just not sure he can be a 3 down guy. As part of a rotation, he is a guy that can be moved around to force an offensive line to shift a certain way, making things more predictable for linebackers. There is a back issue that needs to be looked in to, as I know some scouts have given him a big downgrade because of it. Not a good thing for a guy that already struggles with leverage from time to time. Fully healthy, Phillips can be one of the top players in this class.

7 – Marcus Hardison – Arizona State – 6’3/307 – 77

Upside Pro Comparison: Corey Liuget/SD

Strong Points: Quickness of the snap with a powerful upper body makes him a touch matchup. Exceptional athleticism for a player his size. Can overwhelm blockers with movement on one play and strength on the next. Gets his hands on fast and can shed blockers . Comfortable in space and in traffic. Can break through the pocket several ways from different spots. Can turn the corner with full body control while moving at full speed. Can bull rush and push the pocket.

Weak Points: Really only had one year of productivity at the D-I level. Lacks lower body size and strength. Lacks the ideal body type for play between the tackles. Doesn’t play with a low-enough pad level. Will bend at the waist and rely too much on movement and upper body strength. Won’t generate a pop to the blocker out of his stance.

Summary: Fourth year senior. Spent two years in junior college prior to joining the Sun Devils. Hardison was not an impact player at all in 2013 but broke out in a big way in 2014 with 10 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. He was a tough matchup for tackles, as he was simply to strong, quick, and powerful to consistently block. He had surprising ability to move quickly in a short space for a player over 300 pounds. In the right scheme he can be a very good interior pass rush presence and/or outside run defender. Teams that like to move their defensive linemen around based on matchups will love Hardison. As he continues to strengthen his lower body and improve the consistency of his technique, Hardison could end up being a big time presence.

*If NYG is looking to add an interior pass rush presence, Hardison needs to be given a hard look. He mostly played a DE role for ASU, but his body type and style of play can fit inside within a 4-3 front. He is quick off the ball and plays with heavy hands. Hardison doesn’t get the attention that I think he deserves. Very few defensive tackles in this class can do what he does. Is he an every down guy? Maybe not as a DT but I think you can get enough out of him as a run stuffing LDE and pass rushing DT. If he is there, starting in round 3 which I am sure he will be, he will have my attention.

8 – Michael Bennett – Ohio State – 6’2/293 – 74

Upside Pro Comparison: Sylvester Williams/DEN

Strong Points: Explosive north/south mover that can fire out of his stance and shoot the gaps. Consistently beats blockers to a point. Plays with a low center of gravity, making him a tough target for blockers to lock on to. Quick and powerful hands. Refined rush moves. Has a tenacious, almost wild get off when shooting the gaps as a pass rusher. Has the explosion to close a five yard gap in a blink. Productive and effective within the tackle box. Can react well to the action and flow towards the ball.

Weak Points: Lacks ideal size and length. May need more weight on his frame. Struggles to reach for the blocker and control the engagement with his hands. Struggles to anchor his position as a stay at home defender. Too easily moved by the blocker when he is locked on to. Won’t recover well after being initially beat after the snap. Doesn’t occupy space and multiple blockers at the same, time. Shows a lack of speed and effort once the action is outside the tackles.

Summary: Fourth year senior with almost 30 career starts. Son of parents that both went to West Point and served in the military. Team leader. Bennett is a one-gap penetrator that may be restricted to certain schemes in the NFL. His initial quickness and ability to break the pocket will be sought after by most 4-3 defenses in the league, most notably the Tampa-2 based schemes. He is consistently faster than the blocker, gaining the initial advantage. He lacks the staying power against the run and will need to get stronger before he is an every down player, however. Good role player type that can excel against the pass, always a trait in high demand.

*Another pass rush specialist here, however I am not as high on him as some are. Bennett has the quickness of the snap and he can be a solid gap shooter that makes guys adjust. I think he can fit in to pass rush-only type role but when it comes to every down duty, I think he will be a liability more than an asset. He gets pushed off the ball far too often and unless he gets the initial positional advantage post-snap, he can be rendered ineffective. He is the kind of guy that simply won’t keep the linebackers clean. If he could be had in round 4, I would think it’s good value but I think he ends up going in the first 3 rounds.

9 – Xavier Cooper – Washington State – 6’3/293 – 73

Upside Pro Comparison: Ziggy Hood/JAC

Strong Points: Exceptional athlete for his size. Carries 300 pounds with ease and moves like a player that is much lighter. Can explode out of his stance and get in to the blocker’s body right away. Gets his strong hands on right away and works hard to control the engagement. Can stick his feet to the ground and maintain his position against power blockers. Can feel the flow of the action and get himself in position to make an impact. Smart, quick reactions. Relentless pursuit of the ball carrier. Face up tackler that can deliver a violent impact. Top tier speed in pursuit, will reach the sidelines from his interior spot. Often found downfield, never gives up on a play.

Weak Points: Lacks the ideal bulk for interior defensive line positions. Light in the pants. Will need to enhance his upper and lower body strength. Gets by on hustle and grit, but doesn’t show a lot of pass rush moves. Needs to improve the skill-based aspects of the position. Will play too high and expose his chest to the blockers.

Summary: Junior entry. Three year starter. Cooper played a couple of different defensive line positions for the Cougars. He played in a 3-4 DE role, but also shifted inside in four man fronts and excelled in both roles. He is a long athlete with a lot of open field athleticism. His playing speed is rare for the position. Cooper was an accomplished high school basketball player and it shows when he is in space. At the point of attack, Cooper is a violent and quick defender that has plenty of functional strength to hold his ground and stifle ball carriers. There is a lot teams can do with him, and once he gains some strength and girth, he could be an every down force in any scheme.

*At first glance, after seeing two of his games, I had Cooper as one of the top pass rushing DTs in this class. He is another guy that can play inside/out, showing too much quickness for guards and too much strength for the tackles. He is a high-motor player that has more lower body strength than you would think by looking at him. He showed the ability to anchor his position against power blockers and the way he accelerates off blocks is noteworthy. He is a superb athlete with pads on. My biggest gripe with him is a lack of size. He isn’t thick enough and lacks the necessary to length. As a rotational, day three pick Cooper can be a steal.

10 – David Parry – Stanford – 6’1/308 – 73

Upside Pro Comparison: Barry Cofield/WAS

Strong Points: Stout and powerful at the point of attack. Tremendous use of leverage and lower body strength. Quick and low. Easy knee bender that can move quickly in a short space. Can press defenders off his body and get the separation he needs to make any sort of lateral movement. Turns a corner fast, easy change of direction. Constantly near the action and can tackle with force.

Weak Points: Limited athlete the further in to space he gets. Does not have the height or length that a typical defensive tackle prospect has. Limited skill set as a pass rusher.

Summary: Underrated, overlooked defender that wore a few hats for the Stanford defense. Does the dirty work inside, demanding attention and keeping linebackers clean. Parry can do more than eat space, he is a force between the tackles. He doesn’t stay blocked for long because of his consistent, relentless approach. His low center of gravity packed with power and quickness make him a tough assignment every down.

*There is a part of me that thinks Parry could go undrafted because he lacks tools. I’m keeping my 4th round grade on him though. He is a football player, pain and simple. I watched Stanford early in the year to get a look at some of their other notables, but Parry just kept on jumping off the screen. Talk about a disruptive presence inside, Parry plays the game with a wrestler’s type leverage and won’t be pushed back. He showed some ability to do more than occupy blockers with quickness and a nose for the action. He found the ball carrier often and finished off plays more than your common 3-4 NT. Does he fit in the 4-3? I think he does. There is demand for a presence like this when looking at the NYG interior defenders. He’ll be a favorite of the team’s linebackers and watch him out-produce several players drafted ahead of him.

11 – Gabe Wright – Auburn – 6’3/300 – 73

*I like the frame and movement off the snap. He can be an early contributor with his power presence on the move, but may lack the ability to anchor his position against the run.

12 – Derek Lott – Tennessee-Chattanooga – 6’4/314 – 72

*One of my top small school prospects. Started off at Georgia but struggled to see the field. Went to a lower level of college football and showed flashes of dominance, as he should have. A player with this size and pass rush ability shouldn’t be overlooked. Day 3 value would be nice here, I like the upside.

13 – Grady Jarrett – Clemson – 6’1/304 – 71

*Undersized, yes. But you’ll struggle to find a DT that plays harder than this guy. His lack of size shows up on tape here and there, but you won’t go more than a few plays without seeing him make an impact. Not a fit for every scheme and his role is pretty specific, but he can help a team looking for interior rush.

14 – L.T. Walton – Central Michigan – 6’5/319 – 71

*Another small school guy with an intriguing tool set and developed skills. Walton is more than a run plug, he showed some good movement between the tackles and if the light turns on, you are looking at a starting caliber player that can fit multiple schemes. He’s a guy I think sneaks in to the top 3 rounds.

15 – Darius Philon – Arkansas – 6’1/298 – 71

*Yet another undersized pass rusher from the inside. Philon was really productive and looked unblockable at times. For awhile I questioned if he was a better prospect than the well known Trey Flowers, a DE we will talk about later in the week. The lack of length will hurt him in the NFL but he can carve himself a niche somewhere.

16 – Tyeler Davison – Fresno State – 6’2/316 – 70

*Limited athlete but a dependable run defender. He can anchor his spot with consistent leg drive and leverage. Won’t make plays but he is a guy that fills out a roster and will have a job as a backup run defender.

17 – Leon Orr – Florida – 6’5/323 – 70

*If it weren’t for the confusing off-field issues, Orr could have been a top 10 guy on this list. He left the team after being taken out of the starting lineup, which is odd. His story has been tough to look in to but when I watch him, I see upside. He can really move and he carries 320+ pounds with ease. He just screams NFL defensive tackle and I think he fits the 4-3 really well.

18 – Darius Kilgo – Maryland – 6’2/310 – 69

*Played a 3-4 NT role but he can fit multiple schemes. Made plays in 2014 that most people probably didn’t see because if they did, he would have been at the combine. He is a lot better than several guys that were there. Run defender first, but showed the short area quickness to take advantage of opportunities.

19 – James Castleman – Oklahoma State – 6’2/300 – 67

*Really strong upper body, a guy that just bench presses blockers off him and will locate the ball. Might be undersized for the role he plays but he is tougher than nails. I saw Oklahoma State 4 times and each time I had positive notes on him.

20 – Christian Covington – Rice – 6’2/289 – 67

*Undersized and beat up, but watch his 2013 tape and you cant help but wonder if this guy should be a 1st rounder. Covington has the blend of quickness and power that gives blockers a headache. He had a pretty nasty knee injury last fall though and some teams have crossed him off their board after failed physicals.

TOP UDFA SLEEPER

Angelo Blackson – Auburn – 6’4/318

*Overlooked defender on an underrated SEC defense that has a few defenders getting a lot of attention for next year’s draft. Blackson kept linebackers clean with his disruptive nature off the snap and was rarely pushed back. Dirty work guy that has the frame to add more good weight. He has more mechanics and consistent technique than some of the top guys on this list.

NYG APPROACH

While some may view DT as a lesser need of the roster, it’s a position that really hurt this defense in 2014. Hankins is evolving in to a force but he can’t do it by himself in a 4 man front, there needs to be another presence along side of him that makes the opposing offense gameplan around. This prospect group is an interesting one in that there are a lot of guys that can help the run defense or pass rush, but not both. What does NYG need more? A credible argument can be made for both but finding a guy that can do both is going to be very tough.

I don’t think any of these prospects (outside of Williams at the top) will be worth their #9 overall selection. But once they are on the clock in round 2 and from there on out, NYG needs to be looking at some of these prospects with the thought that one of them can take this unit’s run defense to another level. The pass rush prospects are worth looking at as well, but they are all undersized and counting on them would strike some fear in to me and may not be worth the risk. They may be better off going after an edge rusher and getting creative with pass rush packages, shifting some of their more physical ends inside.

Apr 102015
 
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Cameron Erving, Florida State Seminoles (August 30, 2014)

Cameron Erving – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Guards and Centers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*Below are my published, abbreviated reports via Ourlads Scouting Services, LLC

**A note about Pro Upside Comparisons: These are comparisons that are based on the player reaching his ceiling. It does not necessarily mean I believe the player will “be as good as”.

CURRENT OG/C on NYG ROSTER

Geoff Schwartz – 29 Years old – Signed through 2017

John Jerry – 29 Years old – Signed through 2016

Weston Richburg – 24 Years old – Signed through 2017

Brandon Mosley – 27 Years old – Signed through 2015

Eric Herman – 26 Years old – Signed through 2015

Adam Gettis – 27 Years old – Signed through 2015

Dallas Reynolds – 31 Years old – Signed through 2015

Brett Jones – 24 Years old – Signed through 2017

WHERE THEY STAND

One can easily make the argument that the combination of starters and backups here are among the worst in the league. I can look at 20 depth charts from the NFL and rightfully say I would rather take their interior guys over what NYG has to offer at the moment. They lack true presence and won’t get a push off the point of attack when faced off against the more physical defensive lines. It created massive problems throughout the 2014 season when NYG tried to run the ball. Chris Snee was never replaced and there is a gaping hole at LG right now. Geoff Schwartz had a year to forget in 2014, missing the majority of the season with injuries. There is the hope he returns to 100% and can offer NYG a reliable presence at RG. However even when he was healthy, he looked very lethargic and over-matched. Jerry was a favorite of mine coming out of Ole Miss a few years back, but I have to admit his career performance to this point has been sub-par. If he is on the team as a primary backup, fine. But he can’t be a starter. I didn’t like the Richburg selection last year but he out-performed expectations in year one, a season that I would assume NYG wanted to be a redshirt year for him to add strength, but was forced in to action at an unnatural position. I think he can be the guy at C but he will need to prove he can get more push. The rest of the names up there lack long term potential. They are training camp body-types. I am intrigued to see what Canadian Brett Jones can bring to the table, however. He has some decent tape from the CFL that will remind NYG fans of a young Rich Seubert. This is a poor group that doesn’t have the nastiness nor do they have star power.

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – Cameron Erving – Florida State – 6’5/313 – 82

Upside Pro Comparison: Jahri Evans/NO

Strong Points: Versatile offensive lineman that could likely play any position along the front at a high level. Good use of leverage, plays with a low base and high hands. Strong use of his upper body. Can lock on to a defender and drive him out of a play. Quick feet and hips that can get himself between his man and the running lane. Hustles downfield and looks to throw the extra block. Long arms and thick legs with room to grow. Flawlessly made the move to center from left tackle halfway through the 2014 season. Patient blocker that allows the action to come to him. Can pounce on the inside defender quickly and lock him up.

Weak Points: Loses his power presence as an outside pass blocker. Feet get stuck in the mud against the faster, quicker, more agile pass rushers. Gives up too much pressure off the edge. Doesn’t roll his hips in to the defender enough, losing out on power output. Does not show the kind of control of engagement you want out of a pass blocker. Still raw around the edges.

Summary: Erving redshirted his first season at FSU because of a back injury. In 2012 he was one of the team’s primary run stuffing defensive tackles until he made the move to left tackle prior to the 2012 season. He’s been locked in as a starter ever since and has made several All-American teams. His performance as a pass blocker held him back from the elite grade. He struggled against some of his toughest competition, allowing too much pressure to the outside speed rush and double moves inside. His pad level and road-grading style was always best suited inside. He showed his versatility in 2014, moving to center and playing at a very high level. Best suited at center or guard where his weakness as a lateral mover in pass protection can be hidden. His raw strength and power is NFL ready and versatile linemen like this are always in high demand.

*Erving has moved all over the field. He was a solid run stuffing DT. The he made a move to LT where many viewed him as a potential top 10 pick. He really struggled there and I said back in the fall he’d be lucky to be a 3rd round pick. I was hoping to see him get moved inside because I thought his skill set was best suited there. Well my wish was granted and Erving really delivered. This guy can be a dominant interior player. He plays with great pad level and heavy hands. He can adjust well in short space and his ability to reach the second level is up there with the best in the class. I think Erving has the highest upside of all the interior blockers. He would present outstanding round 2 value with his ability to back up several spots and even start from day one at one of the three interior positions. I think someone will take him in the top 25 overall.

2 – A.J. Cann – South Carolina – 6’3/313 – 79

Upside Pro Comparison: Ben Grubbs/KC

Strong Points: Ideal frame for the position. Thick but athletic and powerful with long arms. Can plant his feet and anchor his position against the biggest of defenders. Shows the initial pop out of his stance to stifle his defender and drive him out of a play. Can lock on with his hands inside and keep his feet moving forward. Creates elite power with his combination of speed and strength. Good knee bend with a low base and upright torso in pass protection. Gets the initial punch and can control pass rushers with his hands.

Weak Points: Shows a lack of mobility in space and has a hard time reacting to late movement. Struggles to adjust his weight on the move. Not as effective as a pulling lead blocker. Will be slow to reach his spot in space. Relies too heavily on his upper body strength, needs to show more consistent footwork.

Summary: Cann is an All-American guard that has started the second most games in South Carolina history. He is a two year team captain with rave reviews from the coaching staff when it comes to his work ethic and leadership ability. He wins a lot of one on one battles with initial movement and power, consistently firing out of his stance and getting his hands on the defender. He is at his best as a straight ahead, power run blocker. He may struggle with speed and quickness in space. The further away he gets from the line of scrimmage, the more his footwork and lack of reaction speed are exposed. He shows dominant traits but will need to become a better athlete if he wants to stay at left guard. He could be an early starter at right guard in the NFL.

*Cann could easily be the top interior guy in this class. He is a much better athlete than you think. He got better as the year went on and while I won’t say his blocking on the move is a strong point, he showed that he can get the job done well enough to play in a moving role here and there. He’s at his best in a straight-ahead role, as he can produce the necessary power out of his stance and can jolt a defender with his punch. The amount of experience and the fact that he is a top notch worker off the field will be attractive to NYG. He is the only one of these top guys that has played LG as well, something you shouldn’t overlook when projecting who NYG will like. If I had to pick a guard that I think will both be available in round 2 and liked by NYG, Cann is it.

3 – Laken Tomlinson – Duke – 6’3/323 – 77

Upside Pro Comparison: Larry Warford/DET

Strong Points: Experienced and productive interior blocker with plenty of power and strength. Ideal frame for the position. Wide frame with thick legs, long arms. Easy bender at the knees with light, but powerful feet. Excels as a run blocker, getting a strong pop out of his stance and can win the initial battle after the snap. Good body control and balance when he keeps his chest upright. Can anchor his position against the strongest of bull rushers. Uses his weight well.

Weak Points: Gets top heavy at times and will dip his head. Won’t lock on to defenders, leaving him very susceptible to double moves. Doesn’t find to maintain an inside hand position. Late to pickup blitzes and stunts to his outside shoulder. Doesn’t recover well after being initially beat. Technique needs a lot of work.

Summary: Over 50 career starts after beginning his football career in high school. Grew up in Jamaica and moved to Chicago, getting a later than usual start to his football career. Has the physical makeup and talent to be a dominant player but is still raw around the edges. Tomlinson will look like a top tier prospect on some plays but then show a lack of skills on others. He needs to be coached up at the next level but everything about him off the field leads me to believe the work ethic will be there. High upside prospect here.

*Traditional guard prospect here. Has that wide, square frame and he consistently makes it tough for guys to get around him. Really wide wingspan. I don’t get a lot of “inside” information regarding NYG and when I do, I’m not always confident it’s legit. NYG is pretty tight lipped. With that in mind I have been told they like Tomlinson a lot but they may view him as a RG-only player. If Schwartz is going to be there, maybe the view Tomlinson as a guy that will sit a year? With all the OL talent in this draft it’s hard to imagine them bringing in a guy they know will be a backup. Tomlinson doesn’t have any wow-factor to his game but he can hold up against the elite power players day one in the NFL. He doesn’t block as well on the move though and I think it’s enough to knock him down more than people think. He would be a solid round 2 value but I think there will be several guys available with a higher grade.

4 – Tre Jackson – Florida State – 6’4/330 – 77

Upside Pro Comparison: Chance Warmack/TEN

Strong Points: Powerful, squatty type blocker that gets off the ball quickly and delivers a violent punch to the defender. Thick and strong frame that appears to be maxed out. Easy bender at the knees, can produce a lot of power from his legs. Quick in a phone booth, works hard to get across the face of a defender when he needs to. Can shift his feet to stay in front a pass rusher. Shows the balance and body control as a pass blocker when the action is in front of him. Can anchor his position and hold ground against the bigger, more powerful defenders. Smart player that can mentally anticipate the stunts and blitzes that defenses throw at him.

Weak Points: Lack of athleticism shows up in space. He isn’t nearly as effective as pulling blocker to the outside or at the second level when he needs to deal with linebackers. Too often the defender will get off his blocks with lateral movement, needs to show more control of the engagement with his hands. The quick-twitch reaction isn’t always there. Has the tendency to get top heavy, forgetting to move his feet and leaving him in a prone position to get beat.

Summary: Three year starter at Right Guard that has never missed a game since earning that spot. Received a 3rd round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board in the winter of 2014. Jackson may be the top RG in the nation after displaying his ability to produce equally as a run and pass blocker. He can handle the power game of the NFL right away, but may struggle with the speed/quickness/complexity of blitzing and stunting fronts. Jackson is not a fit for every scheme because he appears uncomfortable in space and on the move. In a power scheme however, Jackson can be a day one starter at the next level.

*I like Jackson every time I watch the FSU game tapes. He is a guy that rarely gets beat. He doesn’t make it look pretty always but watch him play after play and the defender he is assigned to rarely gets in on the action. He can lock defenders up and play the power game, but also moves his feet quickly with balance in pass protection. I question his explosion and short area quickness when moving with linebackers in space. He had some trouble reacting at times and there are several guards that are better when it comes to pulling out of his stance and lead blocking. If NYG can use a straight ahead power blocker rather than a lateral mover, Jackson is worth a day 2 look.

5 – Andy Gallik – Boston College – 6’2/306 – 77

Upside Pro Comparison: Joe Hawley/ATL

Strong Points: Squatty and quick off the snap. Very good body control and balance from start to finish. Easy bender at the knees. Hands are constantly fighting to get inside with a violent punch or stab. Sets up in pass protection quickly. Plays with a low center of gravity and can deliver a lot of power from his lower half and hands. Stays square to the pass rusher. Functionally strong. Quick to pull out of his position and reach the outside as a lead blocker. Effective in space against the faster defenders. Quick twitch reaction. Forecasts the action well, showing the anticipation and instincts teams want from a center.

Weak Points: Struggles to adjust to the quicker, more advanced pass rushers. Won’t lock on to a defender and finish his blocks. Doesn’t change direction well in space. Lacks the physically dominant traits.

Summary: Fifth year senior and four year starter. Second team All ACC. Gallik is a consistent presence inside that shows a lot of effort throughout a game. He can do a lot of different things from the inside. He shows quick hands and feet after the snap, consistently getting his hands on the defender first and sticking to his man. Very good athlete that can pull to the outside and lead block. Experienced and smart, Gallik has a lot of starting-caliber traits to his game. His strong, athletic, squatty frame could start early on at the next level.

*If NYG was in dyer need of a center, I would be calling for Gallik on day 2. I love his game and his consistency. He rarely gets beat at the point of attack and he is always in position at the second level to seal off backside defenders. Would NYG possibly view him as an OG? Probably not. He doesn’t have the width that your typical OG has and his frame is likely close to being maxed out. He needs to play C in the NFL. Would NYG draft Gallik and keep Richburg at LG? Another probably not. If this guys keeps falling in to day three however, there may be a point where you just need to pull the trigger on bringing him in because he is going to be a quality player.

6 – Jamil Douglas – Arizona State – 6’4/304 – 77

Upside Pro Comparison: TJ Lang/GB

Strong Points: Gifted tool set with top tier strength numbers. Has a long, lean frame. Able to bend at the knees and sustain good balance and body control. Plays a violent game with his upper body. Goes after the defender, consistently initiating contact and delivering a strong punch. Can keep his feet moving to mirror defenders. Able to stick to his man up and down the pocket. Can crash down and reach the inside gaps in a blink. Shows good quickness while maintaining his balance. Hustles downfield and will look to make the extra block. Easy mover in space, very good speed and change of direction. Can pull out of his stance and accelerate to lead block. Powerful presence on the move. Works hard to sustain and finish his blocks.

Weak Points: Will get sloppy with technique the further from the line he gets. Spends too much time with his chest facing the ground. Needs to be more consistent with posture and body positioning. Late to react to blitzes and stunts, needs to be more aware. Will often rely too much on his upper body, leaving him prone to the double move and penalties.

Summary: Fifth year senior. Spent two years playing guard, but moved to left tackle in 2014. Most likely a guard in the NFL. Douglas is one of the more impressive linemen in the nation when it comes to workouts and tools. He has great length but is a monster in the weight room and has elite level speed for the position. He has shown steady improvement from a skill set perspective and is beginning to prove that he has everything a coach could want out of a guard in the NFL. If he can clean up specific technique issues, he can be a long term starter.

*Douglas is a better athlete than what he showed at the combine. I actually think he is one of the top athletes among all OL prospects. I love the position versatility he presents. He has both the skills and tools to be a guy that backs up guards and tackles early in his career but I think his talent will eventually shine bright enough to get him a starting nod somewhere. Quality player that plays hard and has the aggression NYG needs in there.

7 – Reese Dismukes – Auburn – 6’3/296 – 76

Upside Pro Comparison: Ben Jones/HOU

*A lot of what I said about Gallik can be applied to Dismukes here. He is widely considered the top C of the class outside of Erving, thus I think he can be a 2nd rounder. I would consider him in round 3 but I think Gallik will be available longer than Dismukes. Dismukes is a better mover but lacks the power against power defenders. When it comes to overall upside they are comparable but Dismukes fits in to the zone schemes more while Gallik is more of a power guy. Depending on your scheme they are both good values in round 3 or 4.

8 – John Miller – Louisville – 6’2/304 – 75

Upside Pro Comparison: Andy Levitre/TEN

Strong Points: Powerful presence inside with a lot of experience on both sides of the line. Gets out of his stance quickly and will get his hands inside. Can create a lot of power from his lower body. Quickly turns his hips in to the hole and will push his man out of a running lane. Reliable and forceful run blocker. Smart and savvy. Reads the defensive front post-snap and is rarely caught off balance. Plays with a low center of gravity and can bend his knees with ease. Effective on the move. Can pull out of his stance to trap blocks. Adjusts on the run, processes information quickly while maintaining his power presence. Recovers well from being initially beat.

Weak Points: Feet get stagnant as a pass blocker. Will rely on strength and power too much, neglecting constant foot movement and placement. Lacks the lateral range to effectively pull to the outside and lead block. Body control isn’t always there when he’s in space.

Summary: Four year starter that has dealt with a few minor injuries over his career but for the most part has been a mainstay on that offensive line. Miller plays in a scheme that puts him on both the left and right sides, respectively. His game is based on power and awareness. Typical squatty build for the position. Has good enough foot quickness and strength to start in the NFL. He will need to learn how to equally rely on athleticism and overall strength. He has the tools to be a quality player but will need to shore up his footwork and mechanical issues first.

*There wasn’t a more impressive OL at the East/West Shrine Game than Miller. He was a favorite of mine heading in to the 2014 season. He can be a dominant run blocker with his power and length. He took a step back as a pass blocker though once I started to track his plays. He needs technique work more than anything, thus I don’t see him as a long term project or anything. He’ll get a starting job somewhere in the league within a couple years. Not as great as I initially projected but you can do much worse than him with your 3rd rounder.

9 – Mark Glowinski – West Virginia – 6’4/307 – 75

Upside Pro Comparison: Kevin Zeitler/CIN

Strong Points: Quick start, gets set up out of his stance in a blink. Consistently puts himself in to good position, ready to engage. Knee bend is there with light feet and high hands. Works hard to stay inside the shoulders of his man. Can swing his hips in to the hole, athletic ability is there. Aggressive but patient pass blocker. Can wait to see what is going on prior to attacking hard with his hands. Has the speed and quickness to pull out of his stance and get in front. Good second level blocker, can adjust to the speed of linebackers. Can pivot and turn his bodyweight quickly.

Weak Points: Struggles to recover after being initially beat. Doesn’t always roll his hips in to the defender, will get too upper body dependent. Will over-commit his bodyweight and leaves himself prone to double moves. Mental reaction to stunts and blitzes are delayed. Inconsistent footwork.

Summary: Fifth year senior. Spent his first two seasons Lackawanna Junior College. Redshirt in 2012 and a two year starter at right guard for the Mountaineers. Glowinski is a former tackle that made the move to guard prior to the 2014 season. He has the quick feet, set up, and knee bend to handle the speed and quickness of the NFL. He is a gritty blocker that loves to use upper body strength and power to dominate defenders. There are a lot of tools combined with an admirable style of play that coaches will want to work with. He needs to improve a couple of vital mechanical flaws before he can be depended on. If he can do that, there is starter potential here.

*I have a decent amount of OG/C graded in the 74-75-76 range. I think the best value in terms of where you can draft these guys is going to be Glowinski. Most see him as a 6th or 7th rounder and I would sign for him in round 5 right now and consider it one of the steals of the draft no matter what. Glowinski is quick out of his stance, quick to get his hands on, and quick to swing his hips. He is a former left tackle that can still move like one. He needs to become more lower body dependent if he is going to anchor against NFL-caliber DTs, but this is simply a guy that knows how to play and I would bet a good amount of money on him being a starter down the road and is one of those guys you never hear from because he is always getting the job done.

10 – Hroniss Grasu – Oregon – 6’3/297 – 75

Upside Pro Comparison: Evan Dietrich-Smith/TB

Strong Points: Right away, sudden type quickness to his game right after the snap. Can set his feet and get his hands up fast while maintaining all of his balance and body control. Easy mover with agile hips and light feet. Shows proper footwork consistently. Stays square to his, able to mirror. Good knee bender. Can shift his weight laterally without a problem. Comfortable in space, can stick with linebackers. Can pull out of his stance and work his way through the line and in to the second level fast. Smart and savvy, responsible for making line calls and adjustments. Quick reaction both mentally and physically.

Weak Points: Not overly stout at the point of attack. Gets pushed back by the bigger, more powerful defensive tackles. Doesn’t stifle a defender with a strong punch. Won’t always finish his blocks. Needs to add a more physical, more aggressive approach. Will need to add strength and bulk to his frame.

Summary: Fifth year senior and four year starter. All-American center that has been the leader of the Oregon offensive line for a few years now. Grasu plays with exceptional agility and quickness, moving out of his stance as fast as any interior linemen in this class. He is comfortable at the point of attack as well as in space. He will need to spend some time adding a power element to his game, however. His ability to anchor against the bull rush will be challenged in the NFL and he needs to be able to move guys out of running lanes. He can get by in certain schemes right now, most notably zone, but he may not be as NFL-ready as some other players with these accolades.

*This is a four-center draft and Grasu brings up the rear of the group, but by no means does that mean I don’t like him. As you can see, he finished with the same grade as Dismukes and not far below Gallik. Grasu is on the undersized side but the Oregon scheme called for him to play under 300 pounds so he could maintain a fast pace of play. He can likely add some bulk at the next level. Grasu is one of the more natural athletes of this entire group and he may be the smartest center I’ve seen since Alex Mack. He had a ton of responsibility at Oregon. Talent wise I think he needs a year before he can handle NFL power but some schemes can really hide a guy like this. If you want a smarter, athlete-type in the middle, Grasu may be your guy.

11 – Ali Marpet – Hobart & William Smith – 6’4/307 – 75

*He’s been a fun story to watch and follow. Rarely do you see a D-III player finish with this high of a grade, no matter the position. His strong week at the Senior Bowl really helped. We are still talking about a guy that likely won’t contribute until 2016. Hard not to think of Rich Seubert when I watch him.

12 – Jeremiah Poutasi – Utah – 6’5/335 – 74

*. Has experience at right and left tackle, but is a candidate to move inside in the NFL. Poutasi has all the power a team could ask for. He is hard to push back and can control the defender right in front of him with leg drive and heavy hands. His weaknesses arrive when he is asked to slide to the left or right. His athletic ability is very limited in space as a pass blocker. He can carry a lot of weight comfortably and has shown the ability to dominate when moving straight ahead with minimal lateral duties. His future will most likely reside as a guard in the NFL where he could someday be a quality starter.

13 – Adam Shead – Oklahoma – 6’4/338 – 74

*Five year senior with over 40 career starts. Shead has the potential the top run blocking guard in this class. His frame and initial pop out of his stance along with good technique allows him to play a physical, power-based game. He needs to work on pass blocking footwork and movement, but the tools are there. He can be a backup with a long term future as a starter.

14 – Max Garcia – Florida – 6’4/309 – 73

*Coaches favorite and team captain. Has a good amount of experience at guard and center. An underrated athlete with really good weight room strength. Garcia started to break out a little and I know a few guys that think he is better than any of the centers I discussed above. He might be a guy you look for day 3 and becomes a starter in year 1.

15 – Jarvis Harrison – Texas A& M – 72

*Three year starter. Had high hopes for the 2014 season but was slow returning to his former self after a shoulder surgery during the offseason. Showed poor conditioning throughout the season. Was bounced back and forth between LG and LT as a result of injuries along the Texas A& M front. Considered to be the most athletic lineman on the team but didn’t display that kind of ability in 2014. His power and strength are best suited inside at guard where he could be a starting caliber player if he can stay healthy and improve his conditioning.

16 – Arie Kouandjio – Alabama – 6’5/310 – 72

*All American and All SEC performer. Fifth year senior that has overcome a couple of major knee injuries to finish his career as a two-year starter. He is a high upside lineman with enough physical ability to play right away in the NFL. He is a wide shouldered, long limbed, athletic blocker that has improved his skill set by a wide margin since last year. He can be an equally effective run and pass blocker that can match up against any kind of defensive lineman. His medicals will have a big impact on where he gets drafted but talent wise, Kouandjio can be one of the best interior linemen in this class.

17 – Jake Cotton – Nebraska – 6’7/300 – 72

*I’ve always had a thing for Cotton and I am surprised he didn’t get more attention leading up to the draft. He is an easy mover and maintains his power/strength on the move. Really good fit for teams that use a zone blocking scheme.  Cotton maintains his power on the move and can reach guys in space that most guards cannot. He is behind schedule when it comes to strength and power levels, but he’ll eventually develop in to a quality backup and possible starter in the right scheme.

18 – Josue Matias – Florida State – 6’5/309 – 70

*I had a much higher grade on Matias earlier in the pre-draft process and thought he could have been a 2nd rounder. But the deeper I look in to his game, the more I noticed his significant mechanical issues and inconsistent use of his tools. He isn’t the athlete I initially thought he was, either. Matias can be a player down the road but hr won’t offer much as a backup because he appears to be a RG-only type guy.

19 – Greg Mancz – Toledo – 6’4/301 – 69

*Fifth year senior that has started every game of his playing career. Has starts at tackle, guard, and center. Mancz is making a big jump in competition and will need a year of NFL weight training before being thrown in to the mix. With that said, he does all the little things right and is ahead of the curve compared to other prospects when it comes to his technique and mechanics. He certainly moves like an NFL caliber blocker after the snap whether he is in traffic or in space. There is a lot to like about his approach and performance. He has starter potential if he can physically develop in to a stronger, more powerful athlete.

20 – Shaquille Masion – Georgia Tech – 6’0/300 – 69

*Always have to be weary of OL coming out of this program because it’s so run-heavy and they lack NFL technique. Mason was a dominant straight ahead blocker and surprised many with his ability to drop back at the Senior Bowl. There is a size issue here but he can be hidden at C, the spot most are projecting him to move to in the pros.

NYG APPROACH

This group from a depth perspective is a more impressive one that what we had to work with a year ago. There are several guys that could come here and backup both guard spots, but also compete for the starting LG spot. I really like the centers at the top of the group as well and even though NYG thinks they have their long term starter in Richburg, bringing in one of them if the value is there wouldn’t be a bad idea. NYG has the flexibility to use Pugh at LG if they draft a quality OT, but I can’t say I would want him in that spot over one of the top guys on this list.

The good value of G/C in any draft is usually found from round 3 on. It is no secret that NYG needs to bring someone new in to the mix. The question is, do they gamble by waiting and hoping a value falls, which usually happens at this position, or do they “panic” and grab one of these guys in round 2. It’s tough to argue against either side but I have always believed that a good OL makes everyone else better than they really are. It’s not a group you should want to get cute with. NYG is in a tough spot with who is on the current roster at the position. Waiting almost appears to be not an option. NYG needs a guard, and it ideally they can get one before their 4th round pick. A few of those names will be available when they are on the clock in round 3 and the value will warrant that selection being used on one of them. It would almost seem foolish to pass on unless of course they use their first pick on one of the top OTs. Don’t forget that some of the quality OT prospects have the tools and skill to shift inside and play guard, a trend that is very popular around the league these days.

Apr 082015
 
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Victor Cruz, New York Giants (November 17, 2013)

Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Special players enable teams to win games and championships. The greatest single roster addition for the New York Giants in 2015 will not likely come from free agency or the NFL Draft, but hopefully the return of a healthy and dynamic Victor Cruz.

The Giants won their last NFL Championship in 2011. During team’s 9-7 regular season, the Giants finished dead last in rushing and 27th in total defense. It was quarterback Eli Manning (nearly 5,000 yards and six regular-season 4th-quarter come-from-behind victories) who was the catalyst for the team’s winning record. But the other two impact players on offense were wide outs Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. In one of the great Cinderella stories in all of sports, the undrafted free agent Cruz caught 82 passes for 1,536 yards (18.7 yards per catch) and nine touchdowns in first full season. In addition, 2009 1st rounder Nicks caught 76 passes for 1,192 yards and seven touchdowns. Together, Cruz and Nicks were responsible for over 55 percent of Manning’s yardage total as New York finished 5th in the NFL in passing.

The Giants barely squeaked into the playoffs in 2011, but they went on an astounding four-game post-season winning streak where the team defeated the 10-6 Atlanta Falcons, 15-1 Green Bay Packers (#1 NFC seed), 14-3 San Francisco 49ers (#2 NFC seed), and 15-3 New England Patriots (#1 AFC seed). Fortunately for the Giants, the team’s defense and ground game finally came alive in the playoffs, Eli brought the team back twice more in the fourth quarter, and Nicks went on a monster 4-game stretch (28 catches, 444 yards, 4 touchdowns).

But it was Manning, Cruz, and Nicks who got them to the dance. They were the difference makers.

Now obviously there is more than one path to the playoffs and Super Bowl glory. The 2007 New York Giants finished 10-6 with an inconsistent Eli Manning and passing game and the League’s 4th-ranked rushing attack and 7th-ranked defense. It was those latter two units who got the Giants to the playoffs before Eli went on his first post-season tear.

However, it will be easier for the Giants to improve their passing game (7th in the NFL in 2014) to elite status than to elevate their defense (29th in the NFL in 2014) and rushing game (28th in yards per rushing attempt in 2014) from the bottom of the NFL to top 10 status in one season. For one, Manning is coming off one of his best seasons and should be far more comfortable in Ben McAdoo’s West Coast-style of offense. Second, Odell Beckham has already arguably become the most dangerous receiver in the NFL. If Cruz can return to his 2011-12 form (168 catches, 2,228 yards, 19 touchdowns), the Giants will have one of the most dangerous passing attacks in the game. Manning-Beckham-Cruz could surpass the 2011 productivity of Manning-Cruz-Nicks.

The potential fly in the ointment is obviously Cruz’s right knee. Cruz tore the patella tendon in his right knee in October 2014. Cruz immediately underwent surgery that same month. At the time, a series of articles were written by sports reporters who consulted medical specialists who questioned whether Cruz would be ever be the same player again.

“While it heals after surgery, it’s a very difficult injury for a speed guy to come back from,” Dr. Craig Levitz, chairman of orthopedic surgery at South Nassau Communities Hospital and chief of sports medicine, told Newsday. “I don’t recall a speed player that has made it back anything close to their former self. He will be ready to play next season, but he may not be good enough to play after he heals.”

“How well he does depends on a number of factors,’’ Dr. James Gladstone, Co-Chief, Division of Sports Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told The New York Post. “He could get back 100 percent, but it’s also possible if he doesn’t get his range of motion.”

After the surgery, Cruz’s trainer predicted the opposite.

“I expect him to attack the rehab just like he’s attacked everything else,” Sean Donellan told The New York Post in October. “He loves proving people wrong. He’s been told his entire life, ‘The doors are closed.’ He wasn’t a Notre Dame guy, a Michigan guy. He wasn’t a big-time D-1 recruit. He wasn’t a draft pick. He scrapped his way onto the field, and he’ll scrap his way back from this.

“I know a lot of people are saying he can’t or won’t be the same after the surgery, and they have pointed out other players who haven’t come back the same, but I have worked with some of those guys and the difference is Victor will outwork them.

“And he will be back. I have no question about that whatsoever.”

Publicly, comments from Giants’ officials have ranged from cautious to optimistic.

“When a guy has a big injury like Victor had, you can’t put all your eggs in his basket,” said Reese on February 21. “Our doctors said he looks good. I see him down in the training room working out with our trainers and doctors and he looks good. Until you get out there – his game is quickness. Until you get out there and move around, you never know how he is going to recover from that. We are hoping and praying that he comes back 100 percent and be the Victor Cruz that we know, but you can’t put 100 percent in that basket.”

“I think (Cruz) will be back to the player that he was and hopefully better,” said Coughin on March 25. “Victor looks really good, he’s starting to run, I was in the field house watching him rehab, he’s coming along well… I don’t know (when he will be able to fully practice). I shouldn’t say this, because medically I really do not have a definite answer, but by training camp, hopefully. He will work his way through.”

Predictably, Cruz says he will be back.

“The injury’s going well, the rehab’s going very, very well,” Cruz said on March 4. “I’m a little more than halfway there, we’re building the strength back in my leg. The rehab’s been hard, it’s been difficult, it’s been long, it’s been grueling, but I’ve been going through it, man, and it’s definitely paying off now. The strength is coming back slowly but surely.

“(The Giants’ medical staff does) a good job of when I’m feeling good, they still tell me things I need to hear to bring me back down to earth a little bit. So they do a good job of keeping me humble and keeping me mindful of the fact that I still have a little ways to go. These steps that I’ve taken so far have been great ones, and they always remind me to send me videos of myself eight weeks ago, ten weeks ago just to remind me how far I’ve come.

“Obviously the next couple of months are very, very important in terms of building the strength (in my knee) and continuing to mold my body back into running shape and things like that. And I just want to take these next couple of months to do that and really focus on that. Training camp is definitely the timetable. More importantly, even before training camp, I’ll be feeling almost 100 percent around May-ish, June-ish and I can really start rehabbing and strengthening it and start running routes and things like that, hopefully.”

#TheReturn

A video posted by Victor Cruz (@teamvic) on

If Cruz isn’t the same player, it will be a hard hit for the Giants. Without Cruz, Beckham is the only receiver on offense that consistently scares opposing defenses. Wide receiver Rueben Randle and tight end Larry Donnell have flashed, but it remains questionable how good they will become. In fact, a strong argument can be made that if one of the top receivers are available in the first two rounds of the upcoming draft, the Giants should considering adding another potential impact player at a position that once looked settled with Cruz and Nicks. The disaster scenario for Manning and the Giants? What if Beckham gets hurt and Cruz isn’t the same player?

Some also point to Cruz’s disappointing season in 2013. Cruz not only missed the last two games of that season with a concussion and left knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery, he was held scoreless and only had one 100-yard receiving game after Week 4. He was also a bit up-and-down in the six games he played in 2014. Though Cruz is an incredibly hard worker, the naysayers will point to off-the-field distractions (both business and social) as well as level of comfort derived from a Super Bowl ring and a huge 5-year, $43-million contract.

Cruz isn’t big. He isn’t blazing fast. But when he’s on top of his game, his quickness and ability to read coverages, run good routes, and get open make him one of the best slot receivers in football. New York Giants fans only got to see Cruz and Beckham play together for a little more than a game and a half. They want more.

Cruz is clearly at a crossroads… and so might be state of the New York Giants passing offense. No other offseason move can equal the impact of the return of the 2011-12 version of Victor Cruz.

Apr 072015
 
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Andrus Peat, Stanford Cardinal (October 18, 2014)

Andrus Peat – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Offensive Tackles

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*Below are my published, abbreviated reports via Ourlads Scouting Services, LLC

**A note about Pro Upside Comparisons: These are comparisons that are based on the player reaching his ceiling. It does not necessarily mean I believe the player will “be as good as”.

CURRENT OTs ON NYG ROSTER

Will Beatty – 30 Years old – Signed through 2017

Justin Pugh – 25 Years old – Signed through 2016

Marshall Newhouse – 27 Years old – Signed through 2016

Tony Kropog – 29 Years old – Signed through 2015

Michael Bamiro – 25 Years old – Signed through 2016

Emmett Cleary – 25 Years old – Signed through 2016

WHERE THEY STAND

There are more questions than answers for NYG at OT. In a league where teams are constantly adding to their pass rush arsenal, paralleled with a the slowing down of Eli Manning, these questions need answers. Will Beatty was signed to a long term deal and it appears the Giants brass is okay with him protecting Manning’s blind side at least for another year or two. His contract isn’t the worst in the league and they were in a tough spot considering the availability within the market at the time, but the odds of NYG ever getting their money’s worth out of the deal are slim to none. He is woefully inconsistent and there simply isn’t a sense of trust, dominance, or dependability there. Pugh was drafted to play RT, and so he has the past two seasons. But do not forget what Reese said when he was drafted (which he repeated again this offseason), he can play inside if the situation warranted it. Pugh’s physical shortcomings were exposed in 2014 and he had flashes of really poor performance. I think he can still be a part of the team’s long term plans, but by no means should he be cemented in to the RT spot. Newhouse is a solid backup caliber player, better than what NYG had in 2014. Between Kropog, Bamiro, and Cleary, there is a chance all three will be off the roster by the beginning of the season. Kropog is the most reliable but I think Cleary has some upside to him.

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – Andrus Peat – Stanford – 6’7/313 – 84

Upside Pro Comparison: Andrew Whitworth/CIN

Strong Points: Overwhelming size and power. Can explode out of his stance and dominate at the point of attack. Has a long reach with strong, heavy hands. Generates a lot of power from his lower half and can play the leverage game. Plays with a wide and balanced base. Holds his ground against the bull rush with ease, doesn’t get pushed back. Technically sound from top to bottom. Has a “dancing bear” movement ability when dropping back in to pads protection. Can be light on his feet when he needs to be. Recovers well after being initially beat. Shows quick and balanced reaction to late movement, blitzes, and stunts. Passionate about the game, works hard to do the little things right.

Weak Points: Limited athlete the further in to space he gets. Struggles to hang with the speed and quickness of linebackers on the second level. Sloppy body, needs to refine his conditioning work. Will get top heavy when fatigued, bending at the waist and reaching. The power presence and aggression aren’t always there in pass protection. Athletic upside is limited.

Summary: 2nd Team All American and three year starter. Father (Todd) played six seasons in the NFL. Peat has all the size, length, and power presence of an elite left tackle in the NFL. His consistent ability to fire out of his stance and dominate his man at the point of attack will catch the eye of every offensive coach in the league. There is work to be done on his knee bend and lateral range from a consistency perspective, but he has shown the ability to do everything at a high level. He is a rare athlete with a burning passion and knowledge of the game and position.

*So I came in to the NFL Draft “season” with Peat atop my OT rankings, but I downgraded him a bit due to a lack of performance at the combine and what appeared to be poor conditioning. I did extra digging and used my limited availability of resources to get some information on him and all I got back was that he was as dedicated a football player as you can find. Peat is naturally massive kid that is still ridding himself of baby fat is what I was told. His genetics are getting in the way a little bit but there are no reasons to believe he won’t be in football shape. I took a step back and realized I over-analyzed Peat. I went back to my game notes and told myself, this is the top OT of the class and there is no question about it. He has the best footwork. He has the most length and girth. He can produce more short area power than any OTs in the class. Peat is what I said he was all year, a fantastic football player. I don’t consider him to be elite and he may need a year at RT. But Peat is definitely an option for #9 overall and I think he can be a long term solution at LT.

2 – La’el Collins – LSU – 6’4/305 – 83

Upside Pro Comparison: Zack Martin/DAL

Strong Points: Versatile three starter with both the tool and skill sets to play either guard or tackle in the NFL. Long arms with a wide frame and light feet. Punishing run blocker that makes the consistent effort to drive defenders through the ground. Finishes blocks. Tremendous reach blocker. Makes the effort to get downfield and throw his weight around among smaller defenders. Strong hands that can lock on to a defender’s chest and control engagement. Gets out of his stance quickly and sets up precisely in pass protection. Can stay square to a speed rusher.

Weak Points: Feet will get heavy when engaged, loses track of keeping them chopping. Leverage isn’t always there, will lean too far forward at the waist. Has struggled against the lower, stronger defenders. Won’t always reach the edge in time against speed rushers. Double moves and stunts expose an athleticism deficit in his game.

Summary: After leading the team in knockdown blocks as the left guard in 2012, Collins made the move to left tackle prior to 2013 and has been on the steady incline since. His improvement as a pass blocker has been constant with each month. He is very powerful and strong. His physical contact with defenders carries a lot of force, as seen with the amount of players he puts on the ground. His position versatility in combination with his impressive improvement as a pass blocker should get him drafted very high. The weaknesses in his game can be coached up and erased with more experience as a left tackle. He has all the speed, strength, size, and intangibles necessary to be a big time player at the next level.

*By no means did I downgrade Collins with my recent upgrade of Peat. Collins is still one of my favorite players in this draft. The question with him is whether or not he should play guard in the NFL. Physically he is better built for the inside and the more I’ve watched of him, the more I notice his weaknesses are hidden when he plays inside and his strengths are enhanced. So while I do think he could play either tackle spot, Collins is best suited inside. I think in terms of immediate contribution, he is the best of the top three. His violence and effort are what the NYG offensive line needs the most. I love how hard he plays and it’s rare to find a player that so commonly takes his defender out of a play. He takes pride in being a protector of his teammates. NYG needs more attitudes like this one. I think he could be a day one starter at LG or RT for NYG.

3 – Brandon Scherff – Iowa – 6’5/319 – 83

Upside Pro Comparison: Joe Staley/SF

Strong Points: Punishing run blocker that generates tremendous, dominating power on the move. Tenacious and consistently aggressive. Stays upright with good nee bend as he shuffles to the edge in pass protection. Has the athleticism to mirror the pass rusher and keep himself squared up. Athletic, quick feet. Comfortable in space and it doesn’t take much for him to completely blow a linebacker up and push him out of the play when moving on to the second level. Can reach and seal off a defender in either direction. Swings his hips in to the hole and anchors his position. Recovers well with good last second punches and lunges. Versatile blocker with a developed skill set.

Weak Points: May not have the ideal frame or length for the tackle position. Too often his man will make tackles or an assist. Needs to do a better job of locking on and finishing blocks. Will lose his sense of strength and power in pass protection. Short area change of direction after he commits is slow. Does not always appear to be aware with quick reactions to the defense.

Summary: First Team All American. Interesting athletic background that explains some of his physical traits. He was a 5 sport athlete in high school which included a couple years of playing quarterback. Scherff is a freak in the weight room and it translates to tremendous power on the field. When his balance is in the right place, Scherff looks like one of the most dominant linemen in the nation. There are holes in his game when it comes to consistency of mechanics with hand and foot placement that he needs to refine. His future in the NFL may be best suited at guard when considering his strengths and weaknesses. High ceiling, low floor type prospect.

*Scherff finishes with the same grade as Collins. I wouldn’t mind either but I just prefer Collins to Scherff if you put a gun to my head. Out of these too top three guys, Scherff is the best athlete and I’ve been saying it for months. The label of him being too unathletic for LT that some were using was erroneous. This guy can really move. He, like Collins, plays hard and will make the effort to drive defenders through the ground consistently. When he has everything clicking mechanically, he can block anyone in any situation. My main issue with him is a lack of consistency and a lack of ability to finish plays. Way too often did I see his defender make tackles, sacks, hurries…etc. He was probably tested the least among the top OTs in this class when it came to playing against eventual NFL caliber players in college but probably allowed the most tackles and hurries. Another guy I think is best suited inside a la Joel Bitonio and Zack Martin.

4 – Jake Fisher – Oregon – 6’6/306 – 77

Upside Pro Comparison: Ryan Clady/DEN

Strong Points: Elite level quickness and body control out of his stance. Fast to get his hands on the defender with an inside position. Natural knee bender, shows zero struggle in playing with a low pad level. Strong stab, stifles the defender and allows him to swing his hips in to position. Easy looking ability to mirror a pass rusher up and down the pocket. Explosive and fast in space. Can be counted on to get to the second level and impact the linebacker’s route to the ball. Can redirect players in space. Has the suddenness to reach lateral defenders and seal them off. Rolls his hips and maintains proper posture and mechanics. Fiery player, works hard to protect his teammates and do the little things in a consistently aggressive manner.

Weak Points: Needs more bulk to play in the NFL. Light in the pants, has a hard time anchoring his position against the bigger, more powerful defenders. Won’t get much of a push when trying to down block. More of a body position dependent blocker that doesn’t look to drive through his target. Struggles to recover when initially beat. Loses track of strength and balance, can be pushed in to the quarterback’s space.

Summary: Fifth year that has bounced around the offensive front. Was a high school tight end converted to guard, but earned the starting right tackle job in 2012. He started there for two seasons and then shifted to left tackle as a result of injuries along the starting Oregon offensive line. Fisher has the athletic ability to play either tackle spot in the pros but before he can be thrown in to the mix, he needs to add weight and strength. He has the ability and attitude to be a quality starter down the road.

*Fisher may have upped his stock more than any OT with his play in 2014. It started with the opportunity to move from RT to LT following an injury to the Ducks’ starting blind side protector. Fisher showed off great foot speed, easy bending, and an aggressive style. He was mentioned as the piece to the offense that held everything together. He is a blue collar type that lacks a couple of physical tools, but makes up for it with grit and consistent technique. He puts on a show in workout ad there are some people I respect that say he can be the top OL in this draft 3 or 4 years down the road. He needs to build up lower body strength but by no means do I consider him a player that has a power-deficit. I think Fisher can be had in round 2 and he could play the RT spot for NYG day one. Don’t overlook him.

5 – Ereck Flowers – Miami – 6’6/329 – 76

Upside Pro Comparison: Phil Loadholt/MIN

Strong Points: Big and powerful run blocker with the feet and length to play left tackle in the pros. Overwhelming strength and presence to swallow up a defender and take him out of the play. Assertive blocker that can stifle his man with a violent punch to the numbers. Shows rare athletic ability for a player his size. Shows light feet. Can reach the edge with an efficient kick slide. Will stay square to the defender and try to overpower him right away. Looks downfield to make the extra block. Will play with a mean and aggressive style. Shows the desire to put his opponents through the ground.

Weak Points: Inconsistent technique and mechanics. Puts his head down when engaged with a defender. Lapses in concentration, slow reaction to blitzes and stunts. Will neglect the knee bend and try too hard to win the battle with his upper body only. Sloppy set up as a pass blocker, trusts his tool set to get the job done too often.

Summary: Junior entry. Three year starter with experience on the right and left side. Flowers shows the ability to dominate his opponent on every play when he maintains the proper body position and technique. He has all the ability a player needs to be a quality left tackle in the NFL. He moves well, has tremendous power and functional strength in addition to the size to factor as an immediate contributor at the next level. His nasty on-field demeanor and talent can make him one of the top run blocking tackles in the league. He needs to refine his pass blocking technique and mechanics before he is trusted to protect the blind side of a quarterback, though.

*There is a good amount of speculation that Flowers is being targeted by NYG at #9. I haven’t head anything that gives that rumor credence and I just can’t imagine how they could believe he is one of the top 10 overall players in this draft class. I wouldn’t say that I dislike him. He is graded as a 2nd round caliber player and I do think he can start for a team, possibly even right away. Flowers has the size and power to factor as a RT day one. I can’t watch a quarter of his on tape without seeing significant technique and mechanical issues though. It is pretty maddening. He can improve there with good coaching and a good approach, thus the upside may be a solid starting left tackle. I’m just a little scared off by the fact there are more questions than answers with him.

6 – D.J. Humphries – Florida – 6’5/307 – 75

Upside Pro Comparison: Russell Okung/SEA

Strong Points: Excellent athlete in space. Fast and sudden with a long, slender frame capable of putting on more bulk. Consistent motor and effort. Very active and always on the lookout for extra defenders to pick off. Strong hands, can stifle a defender in his tracks and control engagement. Easy knee bender. Can kick slide his way to the edge with the balance and power to block power and speed rushers.

Weak Points: Lean body type that needs at least a year’s worth of weight training before being depended on. Late out of his stance and will force himself in to playing a lot of catch up. Inconsistent footwork from a mechanical point of view. Does not always play up to his athletic ability.

Summary: Junior entry. Suffered a serious knee injury in 2013 and missed two games in 2014 with an ankle. Former elite high school recruit that never lived up to the expectations. Humphries still has a high ceiling because of his length and ability to move. He can generate a lot of power from his upper body and shows that he can move in space with anybody. He will need time to adapt to the quickness of the league and add weight, but he has starter potential down the road.

*I’ve been back and forth on Humphries to the point where I has him at the end of round 1 and towards the bottom of round 3. I think Humphries has the elite upside that most coaches and GMs are looking for when scouting left tackles. He is a great athlete and has tremendous natural hand power. He can really rough guys up at the line of scrimmage and it almost seems easy for him to mirror guys in space. What doesn’t he have? Well first of all I want to see him hold on to weight, as he’s never played at above 300 pounds and I need to see more leg drive. He had a hard time anchoring his position against power guys and he’ll see those every week in the NFL. Humphries is going to get drafted by someone in the first round, thus I don’t see NYG having to deal with the temptation of bringing him here in round 2. I think his real value is found in round 3.

7 – Mitch Morse – Missouri – 6’5/305 – 73

Upside Pro Comparison: Justin Pugh/NYG

Strong Points: Easy bender at the knees. Displays great balance and body control with a low base and high hands. Stays square to the defender, can strike at any point. Really light feet when dropping back to the edge in pass protection. Comfortable blocker at the second level. Can hang with the quickness and speed of linebackers. Gets out of his stance fast and will initiate contact.

Weak Points: Lacks a power game. Doesn’t stifle defenders, won’t deliver the violent punch. Won’t anchor his position against the powerful, bigger defenders. Doesn’t drive defenders out of a play. Needs to add more weight and strength.

Summary: Fifth year senior and three year starter. Has played center, right tackle, and left tackle for the Tigers. Underrated prospect with very good athletic ability and mechanics. Versatile blocker with a high upside. Has the feet to play left tackle, but also the low center of gravity and lateral quickness to play inside. Morse far-exceeded expectations in 2014 with his more-than-solid level of play at left tackle in the SEC all year, and he could be a diamond in the rough with legit ability to start in the NFL.

*Morse is a versatile athlete and versatile football player. He has both the tools and skills to play both inside and outside. I think he favorably compares to Pugh in several ways, including the fact that he lacks the length that many want out of an OT. I could put him in to the OG group but since he performed so well at LT in 2014, I kept him here. Morse was never overwhelmed against the speed of the SEC, as he always just looked so balanced and ready to pounce. He had the blend of aggression and patience that all good blockers have. Morse is a day 3 target that would fit in as a versatile backup and possible starter. Don’t overlook the NYG need for quality backups, as it’s been a terrible part of this team for years.

8 – T.J. Clemmings – Pittsburgh – 6’5/309 – 73

Upside Pro Comparison: Duane Brown/HOU

Strong Points: Quick and strong with wide shoulders and thick legs. Light and athletic feet that he keeps moving throughout engagement. Punishing run blocker that is at his best when moving downhill and driving the defender back. Will finish blocks, plays to the whistle. Violent punch that stifles the defender. Controls the defender and can stop them in their tracks. Gets to the second level fast and has the agility to move with linebackers. Good balance and body control in pass protection. Can stay square to his man. Reacts fast to the blitz at his inside shoulder, adjusts well. Can swing his hips in to place and rolls them in to the defender. Anchors his position, won’t be pushed back.

Weak Points: Still new to the position, only played offensive tackle for two years. Late to get out of his stance and will allow the defender in to his body. Hands are too wide and he will get grabby to the shoulder pads of the defender. Needs to show better footwork when pass protecting the edge. Shows hesitation as a pass blocker. Mis-times his jabs and foot movement.

Summary: Fifth year senior. Was a top tier defensive end recruit out of high school but made the move to RT prior to the 2013 season. He looks like a completely different player right now in contrast to last year. Clemmings is a fluid athlete that brings a power-style to the line. He is at his best as a run blocker, showing the ability to both drive straight ahead and move laterally with a presence. He has plenty of skill work ahead of him as a pass blocker but the ability is there and he has shown flashes of being a dominant overall lineman. High upside prospect that may need some extra time to smooth his rough edges.

*The way I feel about Humphries and his upside is how many people feel about Clemmings. The tools-rich, raw athlete put together a couple seasons of quality and improving performance. If that trend continues as he enters the league, someone will get a quality starter out of him. But also similar to Humphries, there is a certain level of inconsistency that will drive coaches mad. The one thing he never lacks however is a sense of violence and power. He is a guy that can get a lot of push and will control defenders with his hands on. There is a lack of power and flexibility under the belt and he really needs to develop more reliable mechanics. He will no longer be the big man on campus when he is in the NFL. I like him as a 4th rounder but some are saying he is a 1st round guy. Someone will take a chance on him.

9 – Ty Sambrailo – Colorado State – 6’6/311 – 73

Upside Pro Comparison: Luke Joeckel/JAC

Strong Points: Experienced left tackle with over 40 starts on his resume. Great body control and balance. Shows good footwork, can play the game with his feet. Does a nice job of staying square to his target. Gets his hands inside with a strong initial jab. Rolls his hips in to the defender. Remains active throughout the engagement, always making the effort to finish his blocks. Has the speed to reach the second level and close off linebackers. Bends at the knees and will prevent himself from leaning too far forward. Displays consistent technique from top to bottom. Durable and reliable.

Weak Points: Slow out of his stance, lacks the pop upon initial contact to the defender. Doesn’t control strong defenders with his hands. Lacks upper body strength and won’t overpower anyone. Struggles to anchor his position against the more powerful defensive linemen. Questionable reach in pass protection. Missed 2+ games with a knee in 2014.

Summary: 1st Team All Mountain West Conference. A lot of starting experience at left tackle. Sambrailo has been the leader of that offensive line for a couple seasons now and the coaches rave about his intangibles. On the field, he shows the ability to play the game with his feet, hanging with speed rushers and neutralizing them at the point of the attack. His balance and body control consistently put him in position to get the job done as a pass blocker. His struggles come from a slow pop out of his stance and a lack of upper body strength, both of which can be improved with coaching and hard work. Sambrailo may not be an immediate impact guy for most schemes, but he has a skill set that most tackles never get. He simply needs a year or two of strength and conditioning work and he could end up a solid starting left tackle at the next level.

*There may be a few physical tools that he lacks when searching for the ideal left tackle. But the one word I constantly walk away thinking about with him is “smooth”. Sambrailo can easily shift his weight in space and his hands are always high and inside. I can recall comparing his game to Joe Thomas after the first time I watched him, I really thought for a second he was gonna be a top 10 guy. The more I watch though, the more development I think he will need. He is pretty soft-bodied and lacks the power you want out of an NFL OL. I think he can be a starting LT down the road and for where you can get him (3rd/4th), it is good value.

10 – Donovan Smith – Penn State – 6’6/325 – 72

Upside Pro Comparison: D.J. Fluker/SD

Strong Points: Tools-rich offensive lineman. Big and physical with a long reach and quick feet. Has the rare movement ability for a player his size. Controls defenders with his hands and can wash them out of a play completely. Shows lateral range capability. Can get the push at the point of attack. Swings his hips in to the hole and will keep his feet moving as a run blocker.

Weak Points: Raw and inconsistent. Effort isn’t always there. Played heavier than his listed size and there might be a conditioning issue. Doesn’t play up to his physical potential. Reaches and lunges for pass rushers, leaving himself top heavy and unbalanced. Late out of his stance and is often playing catch up. Slow reaction to late stunts and blitzes.

Summary: Fourth year junior entry with three seasons of starting experience. Smith has never lived up to the hype and consistently under performs considering his tool set. He is big and strong and has the athletic ability to play left tackle. His issues are consistency and attention to detail. He fails to do the little, but vital, things right. Has physical upside but failed to put it together after 30+ starts in college.

*I had to downgrade Smith by a few points because of some work ethic and character concerns. He is talented, gifted, tools-rich but there has been a lack of effort put in during the past two offseasons by Smith. This year he has out his best foot forward and all of the sudden he is down about 20 pounds since December and had a Pro-Day that rivaled the best we’ve seen throughout the pre=draft process. Smith is huge and he has good footwork. He has power, strength, and nastiness to him. He can be a big time player if he applies himself. I think he can be a sure-thing RT in this league with the upside of a more-than-solid LT. He was just so inconsistent in college and there are the character issues that just always pop up when I talk to people about him.

11 – Darryl Williams – Oklahoma – 6’5/327 – 72

Upside Pro Comparison: Anthony Davis/SF

Strong Points: Mammoth-sized right tackle with a lot of starting experience. Tremendous reach and upper body strength. Powerful drive blocker. Functionally strong and powerful. Reaches the defenders down the line at on the second level. Reacts to the action around him well. Quick thinker. Controls the engagement upon contact.

Weak Points: Relies too heavily on his hands. Doesn’t use his feet as much as he should. Gets top heavy and will bend too far at the waist. Speed in space as a lead blocker is below average. Athletic ability looks worse the further from the line he gets. Plays too high. Quicker, smaller defenders can get under his pads and throw him off balance.

Summary: Over three years, Williams missed three games (knee) and started the rest at right tackle with the exception of the 2014 Sugar Bowl, where he manned the left tackle spot. He brings a physical presence to the line and rarely gets pushed around. He can make a big difference as a run blocker, showing the ability to be equally effective against linemen and linebackers alike. His ability in short space to physically dominate is consistent. He struggles against speed when he has to pass protect, relying too much on his upper body. His upside may be limited because of his footwork, but there is plenty of upside to warrant a selection.

*Williams caught my eye each time I saw Oklahoma on the screen. He moved and punched like an NFL right tackle playing college football. He has such great length that when he is reaching for defenders, he is in to their body before they have any shot at locking on to him. He consistently controls the engagement and when he has his feet under him, he’ll drive anyone back. The footwork is behind where it needs to be right now though. He can get heavy at times and he doesn’t bend that well. He needs to simply be a better athlete than he is now but keep in mind, a guy with this kind of size and length can make up for quickness limitations.

12 – Rob Havenstein – Wisconsin – 6’7/321 – 72

Upside Pro Comparison: Mitchell Schwartz/CLE

Strong Points: Good looking frame that carries plenty of weight with ease. Gets out of his stance quickly and will initiate contact as a run blocker. Sets up in pass protection like clockwork and maximizes his potential pre-engagement. Strong hands. Technically sound from head to toe. Will work hard to keep his hands locked on. Understands and practices good leverage to anchor. Always in control of his body and his very well aware of his ability and what needs to be done each play. Smart player with quick reactions and consistent awareness of his assignment and defensive alignment. Can recover well if he is initially beat. Consistently stays within himself.

Weak Points: Has a shorter than desired athletic ceiling. Strength and power from his lower half are average at best. Won’t overwhelm anyone. Foot speed in space isn’t there. Will overextend in space, showing his chest to the ground. Loses track of agility knee bend when moving to the second level. Doesn’t have the length that a player with his frame typically has.

Summary: Fifth year senior. All American in 2014. Tied a school record with 54 games played and started 41 straight at right tackle. Havenstein is exactly what most teams want out of a right tackle prospect. He is big, technically sound, and overly reliable. He is a better athlete than advertised as a pass blocker, showing the ability to move with some of the best pass rushers the country had to offer. He could stand to add a more consistent strength and power element to his game, but he could be a plug and play type prospect. That fact alone could get him drafted early day two even though his long term upside is limited. Smart blockers with this size and the ability to pass protect are always in high demand.

*There isn’t one way to block a defender. It doesn’t always need to look pretty and the number one thing I look for is how often a guy gets beat. Havenstein looks rough around the edges, doesn’t bend that well, and won’t wow anyone with movement. But what he consistently does is win the one on one battles whether they are in space or at the point of attack. He can lock on to his man and stay between him and the ball carrier, plain and simple. I think there is a limit to how good he will be, but he can be a quality backup and spot starter. NYG could have used a guy like this over the past 2-3 years.

13 – Cedric Ogbuehi – Texas A& M – 6’5/306 – 71

Upside Pro Comparison: Joe Barksdale/STL

Strong Points: Gifted, versatile lineman with all the tools and skills to be a starting left tackle in the NFL. Ideal frame and reach, long arms and looks comfortable holding 300+ pounds with the body type to hold more weight. Quick, light feet. Reacts fast to what the defense throws at him. Gets the initial hand position inside with a squared up body position. Bends at the knees with ease. Easy drop back step, slides out to the edge with speed and balance. Makes the effort to get downfield and throw the extra block. Easy mover.

Weak Points: Lacks the hand strength to control defenders. Loses out on body control in pass protection, balance isn’t always there. Inconsistent power presence, gets walked back in to pocket too often. Poor anchor strength. Loses track of technique as the play continues on. Wont drive defenders off the ball and stick to their chest through the end of a play. Tore his ACL following the 2014 season.

Summary: Fifth year senior. Received a first round grade from the Advisory Board last year. Has been shuffled around the offensive line with multiple starts at RG, RT, and LT. Failed to meet expectations at left tackle in 2014, showing a lack of power and consistency with his technique. Ogbuehi was viewed as one of the top OL prospects coming in to the season but the holes in his game left many questioning if he can play on the left side in the NFL. His work ethic and passion for the game are in question as well. While he may not be the elite prospect, Ogbuehi is still a quality player that could bring position versatility to an NFL team. The upside is there when you consider his size and athletic ability, he just needs to refine his technique and become a more consistent performer. His torn ACL suffered after the 2014 season will likely force him to miss the 2015 season.

*Ogbuehi is a guy that I really want to like. He is blessed with the necessary tools and natural ability. He has some outstanding tape at OG and RT. When he’s on, there is an easy sense of dominance. But there may not be a player in the country that hurt himself more in 2014 with his play than Ogbuehi. Week after week he was overwhelmed at the point of attack by strength and power. The footwork and movement was good enough but he failed to react with balance and body control He just always appeared to be uncomfortable and mentally behind. Combine that with a lack of hand strength and inconsistent mechanics, he was routinely beat. He’ll likely miss 2015 with the ACL injury, so the question is how hard will he approach this year when it comes to enhancing his strength and football IQ? Reports (unconfirmed by be) are that he doesn’t practice hard and is a on the lackadaisical side. NYG has had too many of those guys for a few years now. If he can be had in round 4 or 5, maybe, just maybe, go for it and give him a year and a half to prove himself. But I think someone will scoop him up prior to that.

14 – Jamon Brown – Louisville – 6’4/323 – 68

Upside Pro Comparison: Ramon Foster/PIT

Strong Points: Mammoth, versatile offensive tackle with experience on both sides. Creates a lot of force and power from his hands. Light feet, can really move well in space. Can stay balanced and adjust to the defense. Able to strike quickly at any time. Uses long arms and able legs to square himself up to defenders and stay there. Will control engagement and take his man where he wants to.

Weak Points: Doesn’t anchor well in pass protection for a player with his size. Will struggle to sustain presence the longer a play transpires. Questionable lateral range. Plays high and will bend at the wait instead of the knees. Over-commits and shows his numbers to the ground.

Summary: Brown is a three year starter with plenty of experience at both left and right tackle. Lost 25 pounds between the 2013 and 2014 seasons and it helped tremendously. He is not just a big, stagnant body that excels as a run blocker. Brown has the foot quickness to play on the left side but there needs to be work done on his consistency of mechanics with his hands and knee bend.

*Not sure where he will fit best in the NFL, RT or RG. I’ve seen flashes here and I think he can eventually be a capable versatile backup. He has outstanding length and hand strength, he can lock guys up when his balance is there but I question the foot speed and lateral movement. There are tools to be worked with and he is a violent guy but he needs a lot of coaching and time to develop.

15 – Tyrus Thompson – Oklahoma – 6’5/324 – 68

Upside Pro Comparison: Michael Harris/MIN

Strong Points: Physically gifted. Large frame with plenty of length and a strong upper body that produces a lot of force. Light, quick feet. Strong and productive run blocker. Can swing his hips in to the hole and lack on to the defender. Gets a lot of movement when he can move downhill. Quick hands off the snap, gets his hands on right away. Shows the speed to get to the second level.

Weak Points: Loses track of his footwork and will cross them in pass protection. Does not stay square to his defender. Inconsistent use of leverage. Gets driven back too easily as a pass blocker. Doesn’t show functional strength on the move in pass protection. Slow reaction to stunts and blitzes. Doesn’t move his feet when trying to react to lateral movement.

Summary: Fifth year senior, two year starter. Thompson can move well in space and has all the size you can ask for. His girth and reach alone make him a tough matchup for defenders. He can handle the physical side of the game. He shows weakness as a mover to the left and right but a lot of those issues are mechanical. He can be coached up over time in to a starting caliber offensive tackle.

*There have been scouts talking about Thompson as a guy that could be one of the best in the class down the road. I’ve never seen it with him. He produces no power from his lower body and he doesn’t react to the action. When it comes to speed rushers with double moves and defensive fronts that are moving guys around laterally, he repeatedly fails to perform. I don’t think this guy will be in the league very long.

16 – Takoby Cofield – Duke – 6’4/310 – 66
17 – Brey Cook – Arkansas – 6’7/325 – 65
18 – Austin Shepherd – Alabama – 6’4/313 – 65
19 – Rob Crisp – NC State – 6’6/301 – 65
20 – Corey Robinson – South Carolina – 6’7/324 – 65

TOP UDFA SLEEPER

Brett Boyko – UNLV – 6’7/301 – 64

*One of my favorite under the radar prospects here. He has the some of the best footwork you’ll find from a mechanical perspective. He can punch hard and he keeps his hands inside. Has the knee bend, balance, and body control you want out of a guy that works in space. Boyko measured in with 32 inch arms, which is the shortest of all the OL prospects. There are teams that obsess over numbers like that and I understand why, but Boyko is a guy I would take a chance on. He was so consistent in the 4 games I saw and the lack of length rarely showed up on the field. He really doesn’t look all that different than Justin Pugh when Pugh was coming out of Syracuse.

NYG APPROACH

This is an interesting group. More so than years past, there are a lot of guys (especially at the top) that many project to be better inside than outside. Scherff and Collins are legit, quality LT prospects but they do have the skill sets to be Pro-Bowl level guards in year one. The discussion then becomes…should NYG spend their #9 overall pick on a prospect that will play LG? It’s an interesting debate. Maybe you are under the impression that NYG should opt for an offensive playmaker or pass rusher with the first pick and opt for a 2nd/3rd round OL. Again, no right answer there but it seems to be there will be a lot of teams looking for fresh OL talent this year. Hoping that a value falls to you in round 2 or 3 could really backfire and result in NYG heading in to 2015 with the same OL they struggled with in 2014. If NYG wants a starter, the safe route would be to take one at #9,

The Peat/Scherff/Collins race to the top has been as back and forth as I can ever remember personally. I’ve had all three at the top respectively at some point during the pre-draft process. You can’t go wrong with any of them but when it comes down to what I think NYG will need over the next 4-5 years, Peat ends up as my guy. He has the most natural talent of the three and his work ethic is more than good enough. I think his issues are easier to correct than the other two. No matter the case, nobody can complain if one of them is the pick at #9. If someone like Cooper or White falls and NYG opts to bring in the playmaker, the question becomes do they opt for a second or third tier OT, or do they go for one of the top interior guys we will discuss later in the week? I don’t think the long-term solution at LT is on the roster, but I wouldn’t go in to the draft thinking you absolutely have to find him in this class.

Apr 062015
 
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George Selvie, Dallas Cowboys (December 15, 2013)

George Selvie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

As discussed in our spotlight on defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis, the defensive line of the New York Giants has been in a state of decline. This has been most noticeable at defensive end where the Giants have seen the deterioration and departure of Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, and Mathias Kiwanuka, not to mention the roller coaster productivity of Jason Pierre-Paul.

To help reinforce this unit, the Giants signed unrestricted free agent George Selvie from the Dallas Cowboys on March 20. The contract was reportedly a 1-year, $1.4 million deal that included a $200,000 signing bonus.

The 28-year old Selvie was a collegiate teammate of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul at the University of South Florida. And it is Selvie, and not JPP, who holds school records for career sacks, sacks in a season, and tackles for a loss in a season. In 2007, Selvie was named “Big East Defensive Player of the Year” when he accrued 14.5 sacks. Indeed, at one time, Selvie was considered a better pro prospect than Pierre-Paul. But not by the Giants and the rest of the NFL.

After the Giants drafted Pierre-Paul in 2010, Giants Vice President of Player Evaluation was asked why the Giants like JPP better than Selvie. “(Pierre-Paul) is a great player,” replied Ross. “Selvie – not much. This kid helped Selvie… They are totally different players; totally different skill set; totally different athletic ability. The media was talking about Selvie – the guy had a tremendous sophomore year. He had 15 sacks or so. But his production has gone down and that is where you evaluate their skill set; their athletic ability; the height, weight, speed, the quickness, the strength, those things.”

While Pierre-Paul was drafted in the 1st round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Giants, Selvie fell to the 7th round where he was drafted by the St. Louis Rams. The head coach of the Rams at the time was Steve Spagnuolo. Selvie only lasted one season with the Rams. He played in all 16 games as a rookie and finished the year with 21 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

Spagnulo waived Selvie in early September 2011 before the regular season started. Selvie was immediately claimed by the Carolina Panthers but then waived a month later after playing in four games as a backup. A month after that, in November, he was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he played in seven games as backup. In all, Selvie finished the 2011 season with only six tackles and half a sack.

Selvie missed the first five games of the 2012 season with a knee injury. When he returned, Selvie played in nine games as a reserve for the Jaguars, collecting 15 tackles and one sack.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Selvie as a free agent in April 2013 after the Jaguars decided not to tender him. However, Tampa Bay became the fourth NFL team to cut ties with Selvie when they released him a month later.

It was at this point in time where there would occur another connection between Selvie and the Giants. After being cut by Tampa Bay, Selvie was invited to try out at the Giants rookie mini-camp in May 2013. However, Selvie did not do enough to impress the team and he was not offered a contract.

At the time, that looked like the last hurrah for Selvie. But two months later, the Dallas Cowboys signed him after their training camp opened. Defensive end Anthony Spencer was having knee issues and defensive end Tyrone Crawford had just tore his Achilles. Although Selvie was not expected to make the team, the Cowboys were desperate for bodies. However, Selvie did more than that as he quickly earned first-team reps and was named the starter at left (strongside) defensive end in the preseason.

For the Cowboys in 2013, Selvie started all 16 regular-season games and finished the year with 45 tackles, seven sacks (second most on the team), 22 quarterback pressures, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. Selvie’s first sack as a Cowboy was on Eli Manning in the opener. Defensive Line Coach Rod Marinellis affectionately nicknamed him the “Bricklayer.”

“It’s something coach Marinelli came up with,” said Selvie. “You know sometimes you got guys who will just keep going out there and work, just through time lay bricks, lay bricks one at a time to get better. That’s an analogy they try to use with me, so it just kept.”

Selvie’s productivity in Dallas declined in 2014. He played in all 16 regular-season games with 13 starts at left defensive end. He also started both playoff games for the Cowboys. Selvie finished the regular season with 30 tackles, three sacks, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. He added six post-season tackles, including five against Green Bay. Selvie was credited with 20 quarterback pressures in the regular season, down by just two from 2013. And he continued to cause problems for the Giants, sacking Eli again and being credited with eight tackles in two games against Big Blue in 2014.

When Dallas signed one of the better defensive ends in free agency in Greg Hardy in March 2015, Selvie became expendable. The Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers – two teams that had already looked at him just two years earlier and had rejected him – were both interested once again. Selvie signed with the Giants, whose new defensive coordinator, Spagnulo, had also previously waived Selvie.

“I’m excited to be here,” Selvie said. “It’s a great opportunity for me. And I’m excited to be playing with JPP again, along with Spags. I’m excited for the opportunity to be here.

“There have been great defensive linemen that have played (with the Giants), and I want to be one of those. I felt like this was a great situation. With Jason being over there (at right defensive end), he gets a lot of attention. I hope I can get free with that. It’s a great opportunity and a great fit.”

Pierre-Paul also appears thrilled to be playing with his old collegiate teammate.

“I think that’s a great pickup,” Pierre-Paul said of the Giants signing Selvie. “He’s a good player. George can play the run and rush the passer. From the film I’ve watched, he’s gotten better as a player…He’s a dedicated worker, and I know he’s going to work to try to get better and better.”

So how does Selvie fit in with the Giants? At 6’4”, 270 pounds, the journeyman Selvie has demonstrated an ability to be a decent run defender at left end, where he has started 31 regular- and post-season NFL games since 2013. He also has 10 sacks and 42 quarterback pressures in the last two regular seasons. That alone gives him a decent shot a starting job at strongside end if the Giants choose to keep JPP at weakside end. Selvie will compete with Damontre Moore, Robert Ayers, and Kerry Wynn – along with any potential 2015 draft pick – for a starting job. No one yet has the inside track.

“George is going to fill in that gap that we have on that other side,” Pierre-Paul said. “He is going to fight for that starting spot. That’s a good thing. That will make everybody work harder.”

The big question is what is Selvie’s upside? Was 2013 his career year for a journeyman now with his sixth team? Is he the kind of guy you look to replace, or can become a valuable starter or reserve in New York? That remains to be seen. Like a bad penny, Selvie keeps turning up. Spagnulo, the Buccaneers, and Giants all wanted him back after cutting ties. At the very least, it will be interesting to see if Selvie’s presence on the team has an impact on JPP’s mental outlook and overall game.