Apr 272016
 
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Owamagbe Odighizuwa, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Owamagbe Odighizuwa – © USA TODAY Sports Images

APRIL 27, 2016 NEW YORK GIANTS MINI-CAMP REPORT…
The second day of the New York Giants 3-day, voluntary mini-camp was held on Wednesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. There will be no media access on the third and final day of the mini-camp on Thursday.

On-field workouts allowed under the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) include individual player instruction and drills as well as team practice conducted on a “separates” basis. No live contact or team offense vs. team defense drills are permitted. Players will wear helmets, but no shoulder pads.

“Second day back on the field, had a chance to work on the fundamentals a little bit, do some team periods, get a little offense and defensive action and we have a lot of work to do, but we are excited for the process,” said Giants Head Coach Ben McAdoo.

INJURY REPORT AND ABSENTEES…
Wide receiver Ben Edwards was carted off of the field after reportedly suffering an injury to his left knee. He appeared to be in a lot of pain. No word yet on the severity of the injury.

Several players are still recovering from injuries suffered last year and are slowly being brought along. Wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf) was kept out of drills and spent time with the trainers.

“We threw routes the past couple of weeks and he seemed good,” said quarterback Eli Manning of Cruz. “He was running routes. He seemed sharp and he was able to come out of breaks. He looked the same. Hopefully he can get back out here soon.”

Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (pectoral), linebacker Devon Kennard (foot) and safety Bennett Jackson (knee) were spotted working on the sidelines.

NJ.com reports that running back Orleans Darkwa (leg) has a small fracture in his tibia and is expected to be held out of football activities for about a month.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • NJ.com reports that once again, John Jerry was the starting right guard and Marshall Newhouse the starting right tackle. Bobby Hart was at right tackle and Sean McDermott at center with the second unit. Brett Jones was the third-team center.
  • In a three-wide receiver set, Odell Beckham and Myles White started outside with Dwayne Harris in the slot.
  • Trevin Wade lined up at slot cornerback.
  • Newsday reports that wide receiver Anthony Dablé looked more comfortable today and that his skill set is obvious.
  • Wide receiver Myles White beat cornerback Janoris Jenkins on a dig route.
  • Wide receiver Geremy Davis made a long, jumping touchdown catch on a pass from Ryan Nassib.
  • Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie picked off a pass from quarterback Ryan Nassib, but Rodgers-Cromartie was then beat for a touchdown by wide receiver Odell Beckham on a stop-and-go route.

GIANTS PICK UP 5TH-YEAR OPTION ON JUSTIN PUGH…
The New York Giants have picked up the fifth-year option on the contract for offensive guard Justin Pugh. The base salary in his fifth year is expected to be $8.821 million.

HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO…
The transcript of Ben McAdoo’s press conference on Wednesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
The following transcripts and video of player media sessions on Wednesday are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

ARTICLES…

Apr 262016
 
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Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham, New York Giants (July 31, 2015)

Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

APRIL 26, 2016 NEW YORK GIANTS MINI-CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants opened a 3-day, voluntary mini-camp on Tuesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

On-field workouts allowed under the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) include individual player instruction and drills as well as team practice conducted on a “separates” basis. No live contact or team offense vs. team defense drills are permitted. Players will wear helmets, but no shoulder pads.

“It’s good to get back out here on the field,” said new Giants Head Coach Ben McAdoo. “Third week of the offseason program, so we really just got out here and knocked the rust off a little bit, getting the guys orientated to the way we’re going to go about the business and we’ll build on it each day. We’ll do a little bit more tomorrow, a little bit more on Thursday and off we go.

“The building has been buzzing here for a few weeks, and the guys are excited to get back and get going. I think you felt that out here a little bit today. It was a good first day. We didn’t do much out here other than train the fundamentals. We didn’t do any offense or any defense, but the guys were into it.”

Video of practice highlights is available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT AND ABSENTEES…
Several players are still recovering from injuries suffered last year and are slowly being brought along. Wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf) was kept out of drills and spent time with the trainers.

“(Cruz) looks good,” said McAdoo. “He’s moving around. He’s doing a lot of things. He’s certainly ready to go if we needed him to go today, but he’s going to go when we deem him ready to go…Victor has come a long way and we’re going to take small steps with him. It’s the third week of the offseason program. We don’t want to rush into anything there. We want to take our time and when he’s ready to go, we’ll put him back out there when we deem him ready to go…He’s running routes. He’s working hard. He feels he’s 100 percent, but we’re going to take it slow and we’re going to take small steps with him. When we deem him ready, we’ll put him on the field.”

Linebacker Devon Kennard (foot) and safety Bennett Jackson (knee) were limited; they participated in some drills. Running back Orleans Darkwa (unknown) and place kicker Josh Brown (personal business) did not participate.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Newsday reports that defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa looked quick, wide receiver Geremy Davis looked bigger, and safety Mykkele Thompson looked agile.
  • NJ.com reports that Jason Pierre-Paul lined up with the first unit at left defensive end and Olivier Vernon at right defensive end.
  • John Jerry lined up with the first team at right guard and Marshall Newhouse at right tackle. Bobby Hart saw reps with the second-team unit at both right tackle and right guard.
  • Jasper Brinkley was with the first team at middle linebacker.
  • NJ.com reports that Landon Collins and Cooper Taylor started at safety with the first unit and that Nat Berhe and Bennett Jackson were with the second unit.

Good sign for #Giants: Safeties Nat Berhe and Mykkele Thompson back working with team after missing all of 2015

A video posted by Jordan Raanan (@jraanan) on

HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO…
The transcript of Ben McAdoo’s press conference on Tuesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
The following transcripts and video of player media sessions on Tuesday are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

ARTICLES…

Apr 222016
 
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Jalen Ramsey, Florida State Seminoles (November 14, 2015)

Jalen Ramsey – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Safeties

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*These rankings and grades are based somewhat on NYG schemes and perspective.

WHERE THEY STAND

Similar to LB, NYG has really struggled to find the right mix of talent and experience in the middle of their secondary for quite some time now. They’ve made several efforts to piece together their duo via middle of the road free agents and quite a few draft picks. Last year they traded up for Landon Collins and after an up and down rookie year, there are questions about his ability to be the guy that is going to make a real difference. Next to him there is an open competition between Bennett Jackson, Mykelle Thompson, Nat Berhe, and Cooper Taylor. The first three of those names all missed 2015 with injuries and offer minimal experience. Taylor appears to be a special teamer-only. This team needs a cover-first guy in the middle sorely.

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – JALEN RAMSEY – 6’1/209 – FLORIDA STATE: 88

Junior entry. Has been a starter in the defensive backfield since the day he arrived at Florida State. Also ran track for the Seminoles, winning the ACC indoor and outdoor Long Jump Championship. Ramsey is as athletically gifted as anyone in this draft class. His experience as a an All American caliber safety and cornerback make him a candidate for being the top overall grade. Ramsey is an ultra aggressive, talented, and smart defender that can do it all. If he can clean up some technique flaws, his future as a shutdown cornerback will arrive very soon. Some teams could however see him as a safety where his versatility can be more widely uses. Either way, he has special written all over him if he can simply mature.

*Ramsey appears destined for the top 5 and most people are thinking he’ll get a shot at CB before S. I don’t look down on that decision at all, as I think he could be a Richard Sherman type if he cleans up technique. But I will say this, Ramsey was much more impressive in 2014 than he was in 2015. He is a missile from the safety spot that can be a terror in the box but also shows range to own a deep half with ease. As a CB, Ramsey has a lot of sloppy mechanics and he is so high-hipped, quicker route runners can give him trouble. That issue doesn’t show up at safety nearly as much. If this kid wants to come in to the league and work, he immediately becomes one of the best safeties in the game.

Upside Pro Comparison: Eric Berry/KC

2 – VONN BELL – 5’11/205 – OHIO STATE: 82

Junior entry. Former top tier high school recruit that took awhile to really earn his playing time for the Buckeyes. Quickly became an All American safety mainly for his knack for the big plays when the biggest games were on the line. Bell can be a major factor in any kind of coverage role. He can move as well as some corners in man coverage but also shows the instincts and reaction ability to play in a deep zone. He is physical enough but lacks impact when moving downhill. He is best suited in space and away from traffic. Bell has the upside of a very good free safety that will, however, always have limits to his run defending impact.

*It took me a little bit of time to come around and put the 1st round grade on Bell. At first glance I wasn’t as impressed. He isn’t big and he didn’t make any plays in my first few games of his. But as the tapes came in I noticed how consistent and reliable this kid is on the back end. He might be the best tackler of the group and NYG has had an issue with that out of their safeties for far too long now. Bell is not a big time difference maker in the box but he shows such good instincts and anticipation that he constantly gets near the action. Bell saves his best for when the team needs it most. He’s shown the knack for making the savvy-big plays. He would be the perfect compliment to Landon Collins. Top 10? No. But round 2 or somehow a late round 1 target? Absolutely.

Upside Pro Comparison: Devin McCourty/NE

3 – SEAN DAVIS – 6’1/201 – MARYLAND: 81

Three year starter that has split time between cornerback and safety. Has consistently been one of the top tacklers on the Terrapins defense all three seasons. Davis excels at taking down ball carriers in space. He ranks among the all time leaders in Maryland history in solo tackles. It’s a trait that is very hard to find in this era of football. Davis may be viewed as a cornerback for some teams because of his ability to easily flip his hips in coverage and stick to a receiver’s back pocket. Davis’ glaring weakness is a lack of top end ball skills. He is often in position to make plays but he didn’t get his hands on a lot of balls in college. His versatility and consistency could land him an important role within an NFL defense very early on.

*Again depending on who you ask and what defensive scheme we are talking about, Davis is equally viewed as a S and CB. I picked S because of his skill set but he played a very good CB in 2014 against NFL-caliber competition. Davis is a competitor. He will come downhill hard and make tough tackles with no hesitation. He has really good ball skills and will be fully capable of running with anyone downfield. I think there are some zone coverage techniques that he needs work on and he could use some extra bulk for his style of play, but he has a really high ceiling. Davis can be a major weapon in the NYG secondary and probably has more CB ability than Ramsey. I really like this kid and his performance at the Senior Bowl was among the best down there. He can shine in the right role.

Upside Pro Comparison: Malcolm Jenkins/PHI

4 – KARL JOSEPH – 5’10/205 – WEST VIRGINIA: 80

Fourth year senior that has been starting since the day he stepped on campus and has been a stand out performer. Tore his ACL in a non-contact practice drill in the beginning of October. At the time Joseph was leading the nation in interceptions with 5 after just 4 games. His ability to impact the running game via physical nature and relentless pursuit can be used as a vital weapon to any defense in the league. If he can learn to temper his aggression enough to not miss tackles in space and be toyed with on double moves, he can be a high impact defensive back. Joseph may miss some time leading up to the 2016 season, but he is expected to be on the field at some point.

*If it weren’t for the injury, Joseph would be ahead of Bell and Davis. So if a team doctor is completely sure he is going to make a full recovery, I have no issues with this kid being on the top 15 of an overall board. Joseph has superstar potential. He excels at playing the roaming playmaker role. Put him 7-8 yards off the ball and tell him to chase, and I bet he turns over 100 tackles with multiple game changing plays year in, year out. Joseph’s knock was he wasn’t very good in coverage prior to 2015. He took it personal, worked his butt off on the practice field and in the film room, and ended up with a nation leading 5 interceptions through 4 games before he tore the ACL. Joseph probably won’t play until midseason and for rookies, that often leads to sitting out the whole year. Risky pick here but this kid has star written all over him.

Upside Pro Comparison: Troy Polamalu/RET

5 – JUSTIN SIMMONS – 6’2/203 – BOSTON COLLEGE: 80[/b[

Fourth year senior and two year starter. Has experience at safety and cornerback. 2nd Team All ACC in 2015 led the Eagles with 5 interceptions while racking up 67 tackles. Versatile skill set that allows him to be an every down force no matter the situation. Explosive from a standstill and will close that ten yard window as dast as anyone. Finishes plays off with force and reliable wrap up tackling. Has cornerback-caliber coverage ability when me mans a receiver up. Shows good instincts and reactions as a zone defender. Will need to add some bulk to his wory frame if he can sustain his style of play in the physical NFL. Needs to simply add more body control to his coverage movement. High upside prospect.

*There isn’t much to dislike here with Simmons. He tackles exceptionally well whether he is the last line of defense in space or on the move laterally. In coverage Simmons reacts well to the ball if he is manning someone up or sitting back in zone. He is still a bit raw when it comes to body control and locating the ball on the move, but I think he earned a 1st round grade here. Simmons is smart and productive across the board and would be an ideal fit net to Collins. He is in the discussion for a 2nd round pick.

Upside Pro Comparison: Will Hill/BAL

[b]6 – TYVIS POWELL – 6’3/211 – OHIO STATE: 77

Fourth year junior entry. Two year starter that works best in the box. The further Powell gets in to deep coverage, the more exposed he can be. His ability to roam the ten yard window within the line if scrimmage can be used effectively, however. He reads the quarterback well and is consistently moving towards the action. His upside is limited but this savvy defender with natural leadership qualities can find his way on to a roster and stick as a backup.

*My initial report on Powell was a very average one. But like Bell, the more tapes that came in the more I saw an NFL-caliber safety that could make a contribution early on. Powell struggles a bit in space and I don’t think he is the guy you want roaming CF next to Collins, but he has a tool set and good reaction skills that make me think he can be a very good contributor. Again,, reliable tackler with constant positive movement towards the action. He has a high ceiling.

Upside Pro Comparison: George Iloka/CIN

7 – DARIAN THOMPSON – 6’2/208 – BOISE STATE: 75

Four year starter. Leaves school as the Mountain West Conference’s all time leader in career interceptions with 19. He is equally comfortable and effective in space and approaching the line of scrimmage. His smooth movement and decisive actions constantly put him where he needed to be against both the run and pass. He lacks a big physical presence and he isn’t a top tier athlete, but he gets the most out of what he does have. There are legit ball skills here. The numbers are supported with his play.

*Thompson is well-liked by a lot of people. I think the draw here is that he can play multiple roles in the secondary on command without hesitation. He doesn’t have a specialty. So for the teams that like to interchange guys up and down will look at Thompson and see that he can do everything at a high level. I question his ability to make the same impact on the NFL as he did the MWC however. I’m hesitant to put a starter label on him unless you know he can bulk a little and hang with pro receivers downfield. At the very least he can be a very good backup.

Upside Pro Comparison: Dwight Lowery/SD

8 – KEANU NEAL – 6’0/211 – FLORIDA: 75

Junior entry and two year starter. Wiry frame capable of the missle role to support the run and easy hip movement in deep coverage. Can wear multiple hats and will always be near the action. Has a nose for the ball. Will show plenty of range to the sidelines whether he is pursuing the run or defending the pass. Needs to work on coverage techniques and mechanics but showed a lot of improvement in 2015 alone. Will give a coach the option where he wants to put him because of his versatility and ability to learn quickly.

*Neal has the upside of almost everyone above him on this list. He really turned it on at times in 2015 and stole the show while I watched Hargreaves tape. He is all over the place every week. You win with guys that are constantly flying around, swarming towards the action. His question is how good he can be in coverage? I would have like to see him move backwards a little better. Still a very solid prospect here.

Upside Pro Comparison: Reshad Jones/MIA

9 – JEREMY CASH – 6’0/212 – DUKE: 75

Fifth year senior that started off at Ohio State. Lasted only a year there and at out 2012 due to the transfer rules. Three year starter for the Blue Devils. ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 in a conference loaded with talent. Played a hybrid LB/S role for Duke and may need to do the same in the NFL. Sort of similar to what we see in ARI with Deone Bucanon. He can do everything really well against the run. Makes a ton of tackles. He wasn’t used much in deep coverage and WRs were able to separate from him. Cash needs a specific role in the NFL. If you don’t overload him with coverage responsibilities he can thrive. But put too much on his plate and he is likely going to struggle.

*Cash is a 1st rounder according to some. Personally I don’t see it. He is a lesser version of Landon Collins with not as much upside. He can be a very good fit on a team that wants a hybrid LB/S, but he wouldn’t fit in wit NYG unless they wanted to move him or Collins to full time LB. He can be a stud or dud that is very much dependent on the scheme and role he is put in to.

Upside Pro Comparison: Da’Norris Searcy/TEN

10 – KJ DILLON – 6’0/203 – WEST VIRGINIA: 74

Year and a half starter. Late bloomer type that helped his own stock as much as anyone via 2015 performance. He stood out to me early in the year when scouting Joseph with his versatile skill set that is actually similar to what Joseph brings to the table. Shows easy hips and light feet with good instincts and reaction. Has a physical side to him. Really stepped up after Joseph went down and took on the leadership role in their secondary. He can fill multiple roles back there. We are talking potential starter or package player.

*Dillon was impressive on tape. He looks slight at first but the more you watch, the more you see him fire down from the secondary and fill lanes hard. It’s always a good thing when you have to re-check the jersey number to make sure it’s not Joseph you are watching when he is on the field. He may not be a high ceiling talent but he can play a dependable role in the secondary as a primary backup and package guy.

Upside Pro Comparison: Tashaun Gipson/JAC

11 – JORDAN LUCAS – 6’0/201 – PENN STATE: 73

Fourth year senior. 2015 was cut short due to a shoulder injury that should be fully healed before training camp. Has experience at CB and S. Very productive player that got his hands on a lot of balls. Quick and efficient mover that reacts well to the ball in the air. Can alter his weight when moving hard after the ball with ease. Very smart and instinctive. Lacks the ideal size for the position and won’t make the physical impact in the box that you want out of a safety. Cover 2 defenses can still see him as a corner.

*Lucas doesn’t get a lot of attention. We aren’t talking star here but he is attractive to me as an early day 3 guy because of the position versatility. I view him as a safety that is fully capable of switching to a CB role in certain packages. He will be a a solid special teamer as well.

Upside Pro Comparison: Corey Graham/BUF

12 – DEANDRE HOUSTON-CARSON – 6’1/201 – WILLIAM & MARY: 73

Fourth year senior that started all four years. Was a highly decorated FCS player that ended his career as a Consensus All American and Colonial Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Really versatile guy that loves to chase down the action and will tackle anyone in space. Delivers a violent pop to ball carriers and shows tremendous range to the sidelines. Smooth and easy mover in coverage. Finds a way to make an impact on almost every player. A blue collar hustler that will work his way in to a lineup. Needs to show more production as a pass defender and may have a hard time adjusting to NFL speed.

*Houston-Carson is on a lot of sleeper lists. His lower level of competition will make it a tough transition to the league but his style of play is what a lot of us want to see out of a safety. He can support the run very well but he also shows the movement in coverage. Guys that were close to that level of college football say he is the best safety to come out of there in over a decade. There may be something here with this kid if you can be patient.

Upside Pro Comparison: Kenny Vaccaro/NO

13 – DEON BUSH – 6’0/199 – MIAMI: 73

Fourth year senior that has been making an impact on that defense from the beginning. Named the team’s newcomer of the year in 2012 and hopes were high. He made a lot of highlight reel plays early on but as his career went on, he never quite took the next step. He fought through some nagging injuries throughout his career and had some off field family issues. A lot went against this kid and nobody can deny his upside. He can be a player. He is very inconsistent on tape with poor tackling in the open field and stiff hips in man coverage. He doesn’t have the feel in deep coverage either. He needs a specific role but there is promise.

*Bush is a guy that someone is going to take a chance on. What we saw out of him early in his career and this past season is enough for some to think he is a top 100 guy. He has good triangle numbers, enforces the middle of the field, and shows the off field intangibles you want out of a defensive leader. Bush doesn’t have the ideal ability or skill set that I look for, especially for what NYG needs at the moment, though.

Upside Pro Comparison: Morgan Burnett/GB

14 – MILES KILLEBREW – 6’2/217 – SOUTHERN UTAH: 72

Four year starter. 1st Team All American at the FCS level in 2015. Physical bruiser type that makes his presence known consistently. You hear a different sound when he hits someone on the move. He can really bring it. Explosive from a standstill and will close gaps in pursuit very fast with power. Will make the effort to wrap up and tackle with proper mechanics. Stiff in deep coverage and won’t run with receivers downfield. Shows promise as an underneath cover man though. Will be making a big jump in competition and some teams still see him as a linebacker despite a strong combine.

*Killebrew is a fun defender to watch. He lays the lumber week in and week out and you pretty much know what you are getting there. He will be a fourth linebacker essentially but I am unsure of his ability to cover NFL WRs and TEs. He performed well at the combine but his feet looked heavy at the Senior Bowl. He isn’t as instinctive when defending the pass. Maybe not the fit NYG needs unless they want a backup for Collins.

Upside Pro Comparison: Bernard Pollard/UFA

15 – KAVON FRAZIER – 6’0/217 – CENTRAL MICHIGAN: 72

Fourth year senior and three year starter. 2nd Team All MAC. Freight train type strong safety that defends the run like a linebacker. Some teams may view him as an undersized but speedy WILL prospect. Has good straight line speed and reaction. Explosive downhill guy that will fill lanes and cover tight ends. Has tight hips and unsure feet in coverage. He won’t excel in deep coverage and he probably can’t stick with receivers in space.

*Frazier looks like a special teams stud that could evolve in to a box threat on defense. A guy that you have approaching the line of scrimmage consistently and providing extra support against the run. I wouldn’t feel confident with giving him major responsibilities in coverage though. He lacks the feel and quick hips to change direction and stick to a receiver. There are guys that really like him though. He could sneak in to the top 100 overall.

Upside Pro Comparison: James Ihedigobo/DET

THE REST (16-25)

16 – JAMES BRADBERRY – 6’1/211 – SAMFORD: 70
17 – TEVIN CARTER – 6’1/218 – UTAH: 70
18 – ELIJAH SHUMATE – 6’0/216 – NOTRE DAME: 70
19 – TJ GREEN – 6’2/209 – CLEMSON: 70
20 – DERRICK KINDRED – 5’10/207 – TCU: 68
21 – MICHAEL CAPUTO – 6’1/205 – WISCONSIN: 68
22 – TRAE ELSTON – 5’11/195 – OLE MISS: 67
23 – AJ STAMPS – 5’11/193 – KENTUCKY: 67
24 – JAYRON KEARSE – 6’4/216 – CLEMSON: 65
25 – JORDAN LOMAX – 5’10/202 – IOWA: 65

NYG APPROACH

Similar to linebacker, the safety spot has been a position of constant change. They’ve tried to piece it together cheaply with late draft picks and under the radar free agents. You only have so many picks and so much money to spend though, so your approach at a few positions needs to be that way. This would be a good year to get aggressive at the safety position in the draft. I have 1st round grades on guys that you could likely grab in round 2, possibly round 3. Landon Collins is a solid strong safety but he will be even better if there is a more reliable presence next to him. There isn’t anyone on the roster that will enter my mind when trying to decide if grabbing a safety at any point in the draft is the right move. NYG will have an opportunity day 2 to bring in a kid that can start in year one and considering how easily they get beat in the middle of the field, it may be time.

Apr 192016
 
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Vernon Hargreaves, Florida Gators (December 5, 2015)

Vernon Hargreaves – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Cornerbacks

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*These rankings and grades are based somewhat on NYG schemes and perspective.

WHERE THEY STAND

There is a lot of veteran, established talent on top of the depth chart with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and the newly signed Janoris Jenkins. Both are locked in to long term deals although there have been whispers that DRC won’t be in the picture beyond 2016 because of his high cap number. No matter what happens there, he’s been a very solid CB since signing with the team. Jenkins fits the Spagnuolo mold, showing ability to be left on an island against quality WRs. The depth behind them could be worse when looking at what’s out there on other teams, but there is a definite need for more talent there. Trevin Wade showed flashes when he was forced in to action last season and the team has a thing for Leon McFadden. Bennett Jackson can likely play a hybrid S/CB role but he hasn’t shown much anyway so far in his young, injury-prone career. NYG is an injury to one of their top guys away from being left searching the street for a replacement.

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – VERNON HARGREAVES – 5’10/204 – FLORIDA: 85

Junior entry. Consensus All American and three year starter. It’s hard to find holes in Hargreaves’ game. His ability to move, make plays on the football, and anticipate the action are all top notch. He has elite body control and agility. The combination of skills and talent make him a top tier cover corner prospect. His lack of physical presence shows up on tape often, however. He doesn’t carry his pads very well and will need to prove he can jam bigger receivers at the point of attack and also handle the contact in jump ball situations. Hargreaves has elite potential and may be the safest among the top defenders in this class.

*The grade of 85 is a high one, just not the elite level that some people have him in. I think in this era of the NFL, Hargreaves can find a role as an almost-every-down slot corner because of how often three receivers are split out wide. He is made to cover the Antonio Browns and Julian Edelmans of the world. He is so quick and sure footed with elite body control and reactions. He is strong enough to support the run and hold up against more physical WRs. My main fear with him is a lack of top end speed that shows up on tape and in workouts. He gives such a big cushion when he’s left alone on the outside and that can be exploited. I also question his ability to man up WRs like Julio Jones, AJ Green, Dez Bryant…etc. Hargreaves is a guy that I can see dropping on draft day because when all is said and done, his triangle numbers are below average. I still like him enough to warrant a selection at #10 overall and I think he is exactly what the NYG CB group needs. But this guy isn’t ever going to be a Revis type.

Upside Pro Comparison: Joe Haden/CLE

2 – ELI APPLE – 6’1/199 – OHIO STATE: 84

Third year sophomore entry. Former top tier high school recruit started 27 of 28 games for the Buckeyes. Apple has the tools and has shown enough performance to make coaches believe he can be a top tier cover corner in the NFL. The height and length in combination with his loose hips and quick feet make him a threat against any kind of wide receiver. He showed the ability to make plays on the ball and has the aggression to consistently get involved in the action. Apple needs to clean up certain man coverage technique issues in addition to more understanding of pre-snap reads. Teams will take a gamble on his upside but all signs point towards him being a very productive corner in time.

*Apple is an under the radar guy when it comes to who NYG will be taking at #10 overall. I think Reese and company will like him a lot, enough to warrant that pick. Apple has more upside than any of the CBs in this class and I don’t consider him far off from Hargreaves at all. He has more size and speed with very easy lower body movement. Apple is more physical than you would think initially, too. This guy can get up at the point of attack and really alter guys with the confidence that he can catch up if initially beat. He needs technique work, however. He gets flagged a lot and got away with even more in the games I scouted. His hands are all over the receiver and I’m not sure he trusts his technique enough to rely on his lower half completely. Again, really high upside here but may not be an early contributor.

Upside Pro Comparison: Vontae Davis/IND

3 – MACKENZIE ALEXANDER – 5’10/190: 80

Third year sophomore entry. Had to redshirt in 2013 because of a groin injury. Two years of starting experience including a Freshman All American campaign in 2014. Despite paying 27 games, Alexander never intercepted a pass at Clemson. He screams talent and upside. He can move with anyone, he plays aggressive, and there are flashes of being mechanically sound. However he seems to lack the pre-snap, pre-movement reads that can put him in proper positions. He still seems a bit raw. Alexander is a top tier talent but he is a gamble considering the lack of experience and production he is coming in to the league with. He still has a lot to learn.

*There was a point during the season where I was almost sure Alexander was going to be my top CB in the class. If you catch him on the right week, he is a guy that looks like he has all the goods. Speed, quickness, strength. What stands out the most here is the confidence and aggression he plays with every play. Alexander is a high energy kid that has the look of someone that wants to be the best. There is a little diva in him, however. He doesn’t pay attention to the details and fine parts of the technique aspects to the position. But man, this kid can cover. I still think he is a potential top 10 pick because he is an easy guy to fall in love with. Again, possibly more upside than Hargreaves here.

Upside Pro Comparison: Janoris Jenkins/NYG

4 – WILLIAM JACKSON III – 6’0/189 – HOUSTON: 80

Spent one year in junior college prior to joining Houston in 2013. Led the nation in passes defended in 2015 with 28. Jackson has been on the steep and steady incline for the past two years. His evolvement has shown flashes of being a shut down cornerback. The blend of size and downfield speed matched with his to tier ball skills is exactly what NFL teams are constantly searching for. Jackson still has strength work to do and he may not be the most fluid mover, but the upside is hard to ignore. His tools and skills have the upside of what every team is always wishing they had, a shut down cornerback that can own an island.

*Tall and fast with WR-caliber ball skills. Jackson is going to be a favorite of teams looking for the now-popular size/speed combination at CB. He had a huge year in 2015 and may have helped himself more than any senior in this class via his performance on the field. Throw in the fact that he ran a 4.37 at the combine and we are talking an almost-sure thing for round 1 grades across the board. Jackson is raw when it comes to defending passes underneath, but his ability to turn, run, and locate the ball are ideal traits for what NYG likes to do on defense. I don’t think he has a top 10 grade anywhere but if NYG ends up in the teens or 20s somehow, he could be a target.

Upside Pro Comparison: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie/NYG

5 – ERIC MURRAY – 5’11/199 – MINNESOTA: 78

Fourth year senior and three year starter. Team’s defensive player of the year. Physical corner well versed in man coverage both up at the point of attack and off the line. Really physical guy that explodes downhill and attacks the action with no hesitation. Really tough kid that you want on the outside of your defense. His main issues have more to do with dealing with speed receivers when left alone on an island. He had issues with those guys ina few occasions but if he can be protected over the top, he’s as good as any of these guys when defending the short and intermediate routes. You could see he is a little limited but he can be a star at what he does.

*Murray has some haters and lovers. Some say he can’t stick to a receiver all over the field, especially when he has to turn and run downfield. Others will tell you the physical brand and anticipation skills can make him a factor. I think Murray would worry be left alone against a big time WR. But if the defense can protect him over the top, he can be dominant. Murray has limited upside but he would fit in nice with that NYG needs at the moment.

Upside Pro Comparison: Brandon Flowers/SD

6 – KEIVARAE RUSSELL – 5’11/192 – NOTRE DAME: 76

Fourth year senior that was forced to sit out the 2014 season because of academic dishonesty, which caused him to leave Notre Dame for a year. He was initially a running back recruit for the Fighting Irish that made a move to cornerback in the summer of 2012, where he started every game and ended up making almost every Freshman All American team. Russell has a ton of experience under his belt and showed functional tools that can be hard to find. He has all the size and speed you can ask and a developed skill set in man coverage. He didn’t make a lot of plays in college but the kid can cover big receivers with speed. He is expected to be fully healed from a broken tibia that forced him to miss the end of the 2015 season.

*The injury doesn’t factor much in to the discussion here. It was a clean break and he should be ready for rookie mini camp. Russell may be the most physical corner on this list and some teams may view him as a safety because of it. Russell can be a really good player in the NFL. He isn’t one of those top tier movers but he can make up for it with a blend of instincts and presence as a press corner. He offers a lot of scheme versatility as well and I think he is going to go earlier than some people think.

Upside Pro Comparison: Charles Tillman/CAR

7 – DEIONDRE HALL – 6’2/195 – NORTHERN IOWA: 76

Three year starter and 2015 FCS All American. Has experience at both safety and cornerback and it’s more likely he will get a shot at CB first. He plays fast when he can turn and run. Very good at tracking the ball and has some of the most freakishly long arms you will ever find. May not be a good 40 time guy but his height and length can at least somewhat make up for it. Physical, go getter even though he doesn’t have the ideal body type for his attacking style. May need some time to develop but these are tools and mindsets that coaches want to work with.

*Hall can get you excited. He looked really good at the Senior Bowl. If he can develop his technique and ball skills just a bit more, he’ll be a guy that QBs don’t want to throw near. His reach radius is rare. Hall needs to be tested at CB first because of the ceiling but he may end up being a package defender that plays a pass defending safety role. He can be a guy that a defense wants to create a role for. It would be nice to have another versatile backup in the NYG defensive backfield because there are questions everywhere.

Upside Pro Comparison: Dre Kirkpatrick/CIN

8 – KENDALL FULLER – 5’11/184 – VIRGINIA TECH: 75

Junior entry. One of four brothers that have all played and/or currently playing in the NFL. Fuller fought through a broken wrist in 2014, having surgery after his All American campaign. He then had his 2015 cut short after a meniscus injury. Injuries aside, Fuller put together a top tier two season career for the Hokies. He proved to be a dynamic playmaker with the confidence and aggressive style of play that can change a defense. While the upside is obvious, Fuller may struggle with the quick speed of the NFL and the complexity of passing schemes. He will need to learn how to use his reaction skills more than his ability to guess. Fuller has the size and movement ability to excel as a zone corner right away and the eventual upside to be more down the road.

*If it weren’t for the name, I think general concencus on Fuller would be 3rd/4th round. He lacks ideal speed and he isn’t exactly a big, physical corner. He takes so many chances and in early 2015 he was often wrong. He plays such a high risk, high reward style that is based on guessing, not instincts. So when he’s on, everyone sees superstar. But when he is off, and it happened too much in his limited 2015 tape, he looks like a liability. I think there is a skill set worth working with for a year or two, but he isn’t a 2nd rounder in my book. I have doubts about round 3.

Upside Pro Comparison: William Gay/PIT

9 – RASHARD ROBINSON – 6’1/171 – LSU: 75

Third year junior that was repeatedly suspended by the team because of academic issues. Played in 12 games in 2013 after missing most of preseason. Was a very solid piece to a very good defense. Played in 8 games in 2014 before being suspended again and was kept away from the team in 2015 for more of the same. On the field, Robinson has an exciting skill set that every team is looking for now. He is tall, very long, and very fast. He is more than an athlete but the lack of game experience puts a big “raw” label on him. Robinson can get drafted based purely on upside but he’ll have to do well in interviews.

*So I haven’t heard anything negative about Robinson from a character perspective. No drugs. No fights. No severe legal issues. The kid simply didn’t go to class and he had no desire to get an education. If anything, he needs to be downgraded for simply not being mature enough to think long term. On the field I like Robinson a lot. The tape is limited on him but I have notes on him from when I scouted Mike Evans in 2013. Robinson absolutely shut him down, as a freshman. There is upside here and I bet someone can get him late day 3. Sit him for a year and make sure he’s all in on football now that school is out of the picture and you might have the biggest steal of the draft.

Upside Pro Comparison: Jeremy Lane/SEA

10 – ARTIE BURNS – 6’0/193 – MIAMI: 75

Junior entry and two year starter. Also an All American track athlete for Miami. Upside-based prospect that may have the best blend of tools and talent in the group. Very tall and long with the kind of speed that doesn’t come around often. Has excellent turn and chase ability and can catch up to anyone downfield. Has highlight-reel ball skills and will out reach almost everyone in the 50/50 situations. Lacks a power presence when jamming receievers and tackling. Will shy from contact and make the occasional “business decision”. Lacks the feel for the game you want out of a position that needs feel and anticipation. Will be drafted high based on what he can be if he puts things together.

*I’m not as high as some are on Burns. Some label this guy a 1st rounder because of the top tier height, speed, and length. In addition to that Burns started to really break out in 2015, hauling in 6 interceptions. I get nervous about a guy like this, however. He has almost no feel for underneath coverage and he doesn’t seem to care throughout an entire game. He has talent and he knows it. But his technique is poor and he doesn’t know it. How coachable is he? I’m not entirely sure nor am I plugged in to the Miami program but there are maturity concerns with him. He is a polarizing prospect and I don’t blame those that have a 1st round grade on him.

Upside Pro Comparison: Antonio Cromartie/UFA

11 – JONATHAN JONES – 5’9/186 – AUBURN: 75

Fourth year senior that ended his career as a 1st Team All SEC player. Lacks the size you want but he’s as tough minded as you will find. Plays with a fighter’s mentality and put himself on the radar in 2014 when he finished with 6 INTs. Shows the competitor in him weekly. Elite mover in short space with a burst that is unmatched among most CBs in this class. Has the deep speed as well and will maintain his body control when tracking the ball. He’ll be limited with the roles he can play because of the height issue, but Jones can be a player.

*I like Jones as a slot corner. He can stick to a receiver all over the field and his ability to react to quick route runners is something a lot of defenses could use. Jones will get overlooked by a lot of people because he doesn’t meet the minimum size requirements but he will find a niche somewhere. Look for this guy to out-produce several CBs drafted ahead of him.

Upside Pro Comparison: Brent Grimes/TB

12 – DARYL WORLEY – 6’1/204 – WEST VIRGINIA: 75

Third year junior entry. Came out after a breakout year in 2015 where he finished 1st Team All Big 12. May be a candidate for a move to safety. Lacks the ideal straight line speed but he shows burst and acceleration. Put that with his elite-level length and this is a guy that can play CB with 4.6-ish speed. No matter where you view him, he can be a dangerous guy. Very good in the 50/50 situations and has legit WR-caliber ball skills. Worley is a strong, tough kid as well. He’ll come up and support the run without hesitation. I think he needs a shot at CB first, but wouldn’t be surprised to see him move to S.

*The West Virginia secondary was loaded this year when everyone was healthy. Worley is a guy that kept popping up when scouting their safeties. He is all over the place and you don’t see that from a CB that often. I’ve been back and forth on his CB and S prognosis. Some will tell you he is too high and tight to stick with WRs underneath and without the necessary deep speed. If that ends up being the case, he has the legit potential to play safety tomorrow. He is worth an early day 3 look for sure.

Upside Pro Comparison: Keenan Lewis/NO

13 – LESHAUN SIMS – 6’0/203 – SOUTHERN UTAH: 74

Fifth year senior. A physical, big, nasty corner that some people think will make a move to safety at the next level. Attacks the action hard with good, violent tackling ability. Can jam guys at the point of attack with accurate punches and quick feet. Has more hip fluidity than you initially think. He can turn and run very well for a such a big and thick corner. Will need time to adjust to the jump in competition but has some unique upside. He is one of the more physical corners in the class.

*Sims intrigues me a lot. He won’t be an early contributor but I think you can create a role for this kid as a backup defensive back that comes in on certain packages. He can win most battles at the point of attack with his accurate, powerful jab but also shows the ability to turn and run. Another candidate to make a move to safety here.

Upside Pro Comparison: Perrish Cox/TEN

14 – KENNETH CRAWLEY – 6’0/187 – COLORADO: 73

Fourth year senior with a lot of production and experience. Very good mover with easy hips and light feet. Has plus height and will get his hands on a lot of balls. Can match up with WRs in several different roles. Has the body control and concentration to stick with the ball when moving at full speed downfield. May not have the physical presence you want at the point of attack but shows good tackling ability in space.

*Crawley doesn’t stand out in any area but you have to like a 6 foot corner that shows the easy movement and burst of Crawley. Very smooth guy that showed ball skills and the ability to minimize separation from quicker receivers. He has the tool set that coaches want to work with and could be a solid #3 or #4 CB down the road.

Upside Pro Comparison: Kyle Arrington/BAL

15 – XAVIEN HOWARD – 6’0/201 – BAYLOR: 73

Fourth year junior entry. All Big 12 defender that has the tools to fit in with the new demand for sizeable corners that can alter receivers at the line of scrimmage. Howard has ideal triangle numbers for teams that want more presence in the defensive backfield, particularly at cornerback. His rawness and inability to stick with receivers laterally will hold him back for at least a season, however. Howard is a developmental prospect with the upside that few day three corners have.

*Another upside guy here that some people have a top 45 grade on. I like his approach and his hustle. He is a pretty consistent, know what you are getting type cornerback. But I get nervous about him when I see him struggle to stay away from false steps. He is easily fooled and takes too long to change his weight and stick to a receivers pocket. He needs work and it may end up that he is a Cover 2 corner-only.

Upside Pro Comparison: Dontae Jonson/SF

THE REST (16-25)

16 – ANTHONY BROWN – 5’11/192: 72
17 – JALEN MILLS – 6’0/191 – LSU: 72
18 – ZACK SANCHEZ – 5’11/185 – OKLAHOMA: 72
19 – RYAN SMITH – 5’11/189 – NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL: 72
20 – DJ WHITE – 5’11/193 – GEORGIA TECH: 72
21 – BRIEAN BODDY-CALHOUN – 5’9/193 – MINNESOTA: 71
22 – KEVON SEYMOUR – 5’11/186 – USC: 71
23 – JUSTON BURRIS – 6’0/212 – NC STATE: 70
24 – CYRUS JONES – 5’10/197 – ALABAMA: 70
25 – TAVON YOUNG – 5’9/183 – TEMPLE: 70

NYG APPROACH

I really like the guys at the top of this list. And even though CB may not be at the top of the priority list for NYG, it’s a spot that should be addressed at some point. I wouldn’t say the “need” to spend a pick on (let’s remember, they only have 6 selections), but I would be nervous about the depth in this group. There are so many teams that have gotten beat up against the pass because their #3, #4, #5 CBs can’t get the job done. It’s a spot that needs a constant infusion of talent because if one injury pops up, this could be a nightmare even if the pass rush improves. The thing about this group is there are a ton of slower than normal CBs that may need a transition to safety. NYG already has a guy like that in Bennett Jackson. I think NYG could use a pure CB somewhere in the draft, even as early as #10 overall, that can be relied on early. I’m not sure one of the high ceiling but developmental guys is the way to go this year.

Apr 172016
 
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Leonard Floyd, Georgia Bulldogs (October 31, 2015)

Leonard Floyd – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Linebackers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*These rankings and grades are based somewhat on NYG schemes and perspective.

WHERE THEY STAND

I sound like a broken record every year with this group. The Jerry Reese regime has been trying to piece this group together with veterans that most other teams don’t want and mid to late round draft picks that have not worked out. Devon Kennard came in to the league with major injury concerns and despite showing flashes of being a plus-starter, he is coming off a 9 game season shortened by a variety of lower body injuries. The newly signed Keenan Robinson will take over the MIKE role. He’s been up and down over his 4 year career and didn’t receive much interest from the league as an UFA. Jasper Brinkley played well in the little we saw him last year but it likely best suited for a 4th LB role that can backup multiple spots and play special teams. JT Thomas was a non factor in 2015 on the weak side and Jonathan Casillas was what he’s always been, an average backup. Uani Unga will have to fight hard to make this team in 2016 and Mark Herzlich’s clock is likely ticking as well now that Tom Coughlin is gone. At the end of the day, this team’s LB group continues to be below average and it shows up on tape almost weekly.

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – MYLES JACK – 6’1/245 – UCLA: 92

Junior entry. Ideal weak side linebacker prospect but also saw a lot of time at running back for the Bruins, mainly as a short yard specialist. Jack is a rare prospect. He is arguably the best athlete pound for pound in this entire draft class and also shows a skill set that can do countless positive things for a defense. He plays with a level of awareness, violence, and speed that does not come around often. Jack’s injury will need to be looked in to, but all signs point to him being ready for the start of 2016 Training Camp. Elite prospect that will be a playmaker right away in the NFL.

*I’ve been vocal about Jack being my desire for NYG at #10 overall. He finishes with the top grade in this draft class overall. The 4-3 LB “not being a premium position” is a very weak argument. What Jack could do from the WILL position and what the NYG defense has been struggling with for years are a perfect match. Jack can cover WRs, let alone TEs and RBs. He is more violent against blockers than defensive linemen. He has easy sideline to sideline range. He doesn’t miss tackles. Jack can be a special player that a creative defensive coordinator can do big things with. The medicals are part of the equation here and with the limited information I have, it appears he’ll be back to 100%. I would trade a 1 and a 2 for Jack. I think he will be an All Pro.

Upside Pro Comparison: Patrick Willis/RET

2 – LEONARD FLOYD – 6’6/244 – GEORGIA: 81

Fourth year junior entry. Has elite pass rushing potential because of his burst, length, and flexibility off the edge. Floyd can consistently win off the snap and always cause the blocker to adjust to him. From his early days at Georgia all the way through the end of his fourth year, Floyd has been causing disruption in the pocket. He is a guy that opposing offenses always need to find pre-snap. Even though Floyd needs time in the weight room and isn’t overly effective against the run, his specialty is special enough to warrant a high draft pick.

*The tools here are obvious. You can make the argument that Floyd has a rare combination of skills and tools. I don’t think he is simply an edge rusher at all. As a matter off fact I think he would be best off in a 4-3 SAM role. This can flip his hips and cover with the best TEs in the game right now. For teams looking for a LB that can match up with the big, athletic pass catchers, Floyd can be there man. Throw in what he is capable of doing off the edge as a blitzer and you can understand why a lot of teams have top 15 grades on him. Floyd has been getting a TON of attention over the past few months. He wasn’t exactly a stand out producer in college but the potential here is through the roof if he can bulk up a bit and increase his power presence. I still think Floyd will be the NYG pick at #10 overall. They’ve tried filling the hybrid LB/DE role multiple times over the years and it hasn’t worked yet. Floyd has more talent than all of them.

Upside Pro Comparison: Anthony Barr/MIN

3 – BJ GOODSON – 6’1/242 – CLEMSON: 79

Fifth year senior. Was a backup and special teamer for 2-plus years, with only one and half season of starting experience. Goodson is an interior enforcer that can play equally tough against blockers and ball carriers. His stoutness and short area power make him a tough assignment for any blocker and his ability to finish plays can be an asset to a defense looking for run defending help. Goodson lacks the ideal athleticism for every down duty, but he has shown to be at least competent in zone coverage and has enough range to play at least two downs in the NFL.

*I saw a ton of Goodson in 2015 and #44 kept popping on to the screen. There were so many players on that defense that I was scouting and time after time Goodson was right in the middle of the action. After further review I almost had him as a 1st rounder. Goodson is thick but fast and quick-twitched. He has all the power you want and maintains it on the move. Goodson moves well enough in coverage to possibly stay on the field for three downs. He is smart and reliable, rarely misses tackles. I don’t see superstar here and he can get overwhelmed in traffic, but Goodson is a guy that simply brings it play after play, week after week. I think he can be a 100+ tackle guy year in, year out.

Upside Pro Comparison: Preston Brown/BUF

4 – REGGIE RAGLAND – 6’1/247 – ALABAMA: 78

Fourth year senior and All American as well as SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Developed frame that carries a lot of weight with ease. Thumper inside with the power presence to own multiple gaps. Meets blockers with force and shows the ability to shed and tackle. Smart, instinctive leader of the defense. Directs traffic. Good movement post-snap that can anticipate and get a head start to where the blocker wants to meet him. Strong finisher. Tight hipped. Lacks the speed to finish plays near the sideline. Shows a lack of reaction and speed in coverage. Might not be a three down guy.

*On the surface Ragland is a guy that seems to be the ideal fit for NYG’s defensive needs. He is an elite run defender and carries the intangibles you want in the middle of your defense. I think you know that, at least, Ragland is going to be a top tier 1st and 2nd round defender in the NFL like David Harris. His issues revolve around quick twitch movement in coverage. His lack of agility and top end speed can be exploited over the middle and its possible he will be taken off the field on passing downs. That can’t be taken at #10 overall but he can be in the discussion in the 2nd round if he falls.

Upside Pro Comparison: David Harris/NYJ

5 – DEION JONES – 6’1/222 – LSU: 78

Fourth year senior with limited experience. Was a 2015 Butkus Award Finalist. Quick twitch, rangy defender that make tackles all over the field. Plays with true sideline to sideline range. Reacts to misdirection and counters quickly. Can put himself in position to make plays consistently. High IQ player. Good form tackler that is reliable in space and in traffic. Rarely misses. Effective blitzer with good timing and the ability to make himself small. Started for just one year at LSU. Lacks bulk and doesn’t appear to have the body type for more. Can be washed out of a lane by power blockers.

*Interesting prospect here that someone is going to have to take a chance on. Jones only really played for a year but he excelled and has done really well throughout the entire pre-draft process. I’ve always heard he is a standout among the visits and interviews, coaches really like this guy and how he carries himself. Jones drawback is obvious. He is a little guy that will get lost in traffic, very true. But you have to like the violence he plays with and he repeatedly showed no hesitation when it came to taking on blockers and knocking them upright. Jones can play in this league but he needs to be on the weak side as much as possible. He’ll thrive in space and be average in traffic.

Upside Pro Comparison: Lavonte David/TB

6 – KYLER FACKRELL – 6’5/250 – UTAH STATE: 78

Fourth year senior that missed 2014 with a torn ACL. Married with a child. Excellent combination of size, strength, and speed. Showed the versatility to play on the edge and in space. Easy bender that derives power from his lower body and violence from his hands. Fights off blocks while maintaining his position. Productive all over the field. Instinctive player with good reaction time. Lacks the quick twitch in short areas. Needs to develop more pass rush moves when initially beat. Too reliant on the bull rush.

*I am pretty high on Fackrell compared to what I see out there. He is more than a rush LB. Fackrell saw a ton of snaps out wide matched up against WRs and looked natural out there. He can be a factor in coverage as well as a dominant point of attack run defender. As I discussed with Floyd above, NYG wants a guy that can play LB most downs but add something as an outside rusher. Fackrell can definitely be that guy.

Upside Pro Comparison: KJ Wright/SEA

7 – SU’A CRAVENS – 6’1/226 – USC: 77

Junior entry. Came to USC ad as a top tier safety recruit and slowly but surely migrated his way to linebacker. Cravens is at his best when he can be thrown in space near the line of scrimmage with the duty of chasing after the ball. He excels at tracking guys down from behind and more importantly, finishing them off. Cravens is a violent tackler that has all the ability in space. His versatility makes him a guy that can stay on the field no matter the situation. While his ability in space is notable, perhaps his greatest skill is blitzing the edge and finding his way to the ball behind the line of scrimmage. His 32 tackles for loss over the past two years prove that. Cravens can be a star at the next level, but will be very dependent on scheme and role.

*Cravens won’t be a fit for every scheme. Some teams see him as a safety and others will look at him as a LB. You need to be very careful with guys like this. He is similar to Deone Buchanon from ARI, a standout defender for that team. But I’ll tell you this; Bucahnon would not be nearly as good on some other teams. They created a role for him and even change their scheme up a bit to fit him in. You are gonna have to do that with Cravens to maximize his potential. Cravens can be a star defender in this league that can be a force in a variety of ways depending on the situation. He could be a 1st rounder if a team can create a plan for him.

Upside Pro Comparison: Deone Buchanon/ARI

8 – DERRON LEE – 6’1/232 – OHIO STATE: 77

Junior entry. Only two years of experience. Lee has elite closing speed and ability to move in space. He has defensive back-type movement, making him a weapon in a league where spread attacks are becoming more and more common. His game is limited to a weak side role where he can roam in space and stays away from traffic. His weaknesses are exposed the closer to the line he gets, as he struggles to get off blocks and lacks staying power against them. Lee can be a dynamic playmaker in a scheme that uses a linebacker far out in space, but won’t be a fit for everyone.

*Another speedy but undersized LB here. Lee is a top 15 player according to some but I never saw it. His standout combine performance didn’t change that. Lee has range and he can tackle well on the move. He is very good ad adjusting his body weight and making the tough tackles in space. NYG could use a guy like that for sure. I just think his physical-ness is limited. He lacks presence when tackling and won’t get off NFL blockers. And for a guy that is so athletic, I never saw top tier coverage ability. With Lee you are drafting an athlete and hoping.

Upside Pro Comparison: Malcolm Smith/OAK

9 – JAYLON SMITH – 6’2/223 – NOTRE DAME: 77

Junior entry. Elite level prospect with top tier talent and intangibles. Smith has played the 3-4 rush linebacker role and a traditional 4-3 outside linebacker role. Smith has been the top player on that defense for two seasons. His ability to bang heads with blockers at the point of attack but also pose as a major threat in space makes him a fit for every scheme in the NFL. His ability is off the charts. The most important question surrounding him will be the long term prognosis of a severe knee injury he suffered in Notre Dame’s 2015 season bowl game. If his medicals can pass, he still may have to sit out the 2016 season. However if he can fully recover, we are talking about a future Pro Bowler.

*The debate about Smith and his knee is everywhere. You can’t talk about this kid without mentioning the knee, which is so unfortunate. Smith would have been in the running for a top 5 overall pick if he was healthy. I’ve confirmed it’s likely he will have to sit out 2016 but there is a better than 50% chance he reaches a full recovery. Now that is where the gamble resides. You wont get anything out of him this season and then you are only hoping for the best. At what point do you take the chance on him? My guess is he will be a 2nd round pick somewhere, possibly to a team that has an abundance of selections to work with like Tennessee.

Upside Pro Comparison: Clay Matthews/GB

10 – NICK VIGIL – 6’2/239 – UTAH STATE: 76

Fourth year junior entry. His brother Zach is a LB for the Dolphins. Two time 1st team all Mountain West defender and was sixth in the nation with 144 tackles. Vigil plays a versatile role within the defense from the inside. He can blitz, cover, defend the inside run, and reach the sidelines in pursuit. He is a complete package, every down defender. He is coming from a slightly lower level of college football but he produced at a very high level two straight seasons and scored well athletically. He has the upside of an athletic 4-3 MIKE that can start for a long time.

*Vigil actually reminds me of Myles Jack. He is not nearly on the same level overall but he is the kind of guy that can wear a lot of hats for a defense. He is violent and fast. Always has a good step and was even used on offense as a power running back. Vigil may need time to adjust to the speed and strength of NFL blockers but he has the look of a guy that will finagle his way in to a starting role at some point and excel.

Upside Pro Comparison: Demario Davis/NYJ

11 – JOSH PERRY – 6’4/254 – OHIO STATE: 76

Fourth year senior and three year starter on the strong side and in the middle. Second on the team in tackles in 2014 and 2015. Top tier intangibles off the field. Big, physical defender that excels between the tackles and did a lot of dirty work for the OSU defense that goes unnoticed by the common fan. Very good at filling lanes and at least anchoring his position against blockers. Has more straight line speed than agility, but can still reach the sidelines fast enough. His tight hips and heavy feet may make it hard for him to factor in coverage. Perry’s ideal role is a 4-3 SAM or 3-4 ILB at the next level.

*I think NYG will have a high enough grade on Perry to consider him in round 2 if they wanted to go in that direction. He has the triangle numbers they love and if they really liked Keenan Robinson enough to sign him, they could see a younger, healthier version of him in Perry to put on the depth chart. Perry is a solid guy to have on your defense but I think he is limited athletically. He lacks the quick twitch I would want from a guy in the middle but I think he can be a good point of attack defender. He is really good at taking blocks on and maintaining his position. That’s important for run defense.

Upside Pro Comparison: Brandon Marshall/DEN

12 – JORDAN JENKINS – 6’3/259 – GEORGIA: 75

Fourth year senior and two year starter. Struggled to replace former star outside linebacker Jarvis Jones early in his career but evolved in to a reliable, solid edge defender. At his best when defending the run, using his powerful frame to hold his position and strong hands to shed blockers upon diagnosing the action. Jenkins fits best in the 3-4 defense as an outside linebacker. He will be limited as a pass rusher but his aggressive nature and violent style can be used in specific but important roles.

*I questioned Jenkins’ fit in to the 4-3 scheme. He isn’t a guy you want in space covering anyone. He can’t do it. But he was one of my favorite run defenders to watch all year. He is a country-strong guy with easy thickness and power. Really stout at the point of attack and can dominate across the line. Really explosive in short spaces and I think he has some untapped pass rush upside. I really didn’t like how Georgia used him all the time. I have to grade him down here because I think he is limited at the moment, but I am intrigued by his upside.

Upside Pro Comparison: Manny Lawson/BUF

13 – TYLER MATAKEVICH – 6’0/238 – TEMPLE: 75

4 year starter that is the heart and soul of the Temple team, not just the defense. Appears to be a thumper between the tackles but he has enough range in coverage to stay on the field. He is a very solid but unspectacular MIKE prospect. I don’t think he is the gamechanger that some will say he is, but he can be a starter. I think he is slow to the sidelines and he gets caught up with blockers too often and those are really important attributes for me when grading LBs. He does show natural flow to the action and his game doesn’t require top tier athletic ability. In the right system he can be a 100+ tackle per season guy easily. You won’t find many, if any, defenders in this class with the career production he has.

*Usually I like guys with this level of on field IQ and instints. And not to say that I don’t like him, but I don’t see gamechanger in him. I think his lack of speed outside of a 3-4 yard window gets exposed too often. It shows up on every tape and it showed up at the Senior Bowl. I’d be curious to see him sit for a year and try to up his movement and strength for a year. If he can get just a little faster and stronger, I think he can be a good MLB.

Upside Pro Comparison: Dannell Ellerbe/NO

14 – KENTRELL BROTHERS – 6’0/245 – MISSOURI: 75

Fifth year senior and three year starter. Led the nation in tackles in 2015. Made a few All American teams in 2015 as well as being names 1st Team All SEC. Crafty, instinctive LB that can sort his way through the garbage to locate the football consistently. Brothers may have the best first step among the LBs in this class and he shows really good change of direction. He lacks the power presence to take on blockers head on and won’t deliver the violent tackles, however. He is a reliable, yet unspectacular LB that can easily fill the valuable 4th LB spot right away with the potential to start someday.

*Brothers will be a favorite among many people and rightfully so. He was a tackling machine over the past two years in the SEC and I think anyone would agree this is a guy that will constantly be around the ball when he’s on the field. You want as many of these guys on your defense as you can find. Personally I think he is a liability in coverage although some would argue against that. He just doesn’t move as well moving back and I think there is a significant lack of athleticism against the pass that doesn’t show up when he defends the run. He is good, but there are a few of these guys available every year.

Upside Pro Comparison: Demeco Ryans/UFA

15 – De’Vondre Campbell – 6’4/235 – MINNESOTA: 75

Fourth year senior that started off at Junior College. Started for 2+ years at Minnesota and things started to click for him in 2015. Has the combination of size and speed to go along with an unfinished frame that will excite scouts and coaches. Campbell is a high energy player that will at the very least excel on special teams. His straight line speed and explosion can make you think he has a outside pass rush ceiling that hasn’t been tapped in to just yet. He’ll likely get drafted much higher than people think based on the upside that a lot of prospects simply don’t have.

*Campbell is hard to not like. He plays hard. He’s big with the room for more weight easily. He runs. He changes direction. He hits hard. He didn’t show a lot of easy decision making though and he was often a step behind mentally. That may take some time but if he can improve the on field IQ, we are talking about a potential game changer. Reese is going to like the tools here and we’ve seen him go after guys like this before.

Upside Pro Comparison: Akeem Ayers/LA

THE REST (16-25)

16 – JOE SCHOBERT – 6’1/244 – WISCONSIN: 74
17 – KAMALEI CORREA – 6’3/243 – BOISE STATE: 74
18 – CASSANOVA MCKINZY – 6’1/248 – AUBURN: 72
19 – TRAVIS FEENEY – 6’4/230 – WASHINGTON: 72
20 – NICK KWIATKOWSKI – 6’2/243 – WEST VIRGINIA: 71
21 – YANNICK NGAKOUE – 6’2/252 – MARYLAND: 70
22 – DEON KING – 6’1/230 – NORFOLK STATE: 70
23 – BLAKE MARTINEZ – 6’2/237 – STANFORD: 70
24 – STEVEN DANIELS – 5’11/243 – BOSTON COLLEGE: 70
25 – ANTONIO MORRISON – 6’1/233 – FLORIDA: 68

NYG APPROACH

Yes, I am still under the school of thought that LBs, even in the 4-3, can be a huge source of production for the defense. A source NYG has not been able to consistently pull from for years. Myles Jack will finish this whole process as my #1 overall player and target for NYG. I don’t expect him to be there and I won’t have any other LB in the discussion at #10 for me personally, although I think NYG will go hard after Floyd. The thing about this class is that I think it’s the deepest group of LBs I have ever seen when it comes to the day two prospects. Guys that are on the unspectacular side but either offer big time upside or a high floor. NYG has gotten in trouble with those kinds of players in the past but I simply think they went after the wrong guys. I am content if NYG wants to wait until round 3 or 4, as I think there will be a good group to choose from at the points respectively.

Apr 132016
 
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Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (October 30, 2015)

Vernon Butler – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Tackles

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*These rankings and grades are based somewhat on NYG schemes and perspective.

WHERE THEY STAND

NYG found at real fast how thin they were at DT last year when Johnathan Hankins went down with a with a pectoral injury in early November. They finished 24th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game and it wasn’t only because teams ran on them a lot carry-wise. They were also last in the league against the pass. This group has really struggled to both hold the point of attack and rush the passer. Cullen Jenkins registered 3 sacks but he was a hybrid and won’t be back. Markus Kuhn recorded 0.5 sack and has since signed with NE. Nikita Whitlock had 1 sack and will be on the roster bubble if he doesn’t make it as the team’s fullback. All that means it is possible none of the returning DTs registered a single sack combined in 2015. The signing of Damon Harrison is a huge help, but that is just a start. Once again, this group is one injury away from contending with the league’s worst interior defensive linemen group.

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – DEFOREST BUCKNER – 6’7/291 – OREGON: 87

Fourth year senior and three year starter. 2015 Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year. First Team All American. Elite frame with functional strength and movement. Very bendy for a player his size. Plays a low pad level game with active hands and quick feet. Versatile threat that can pose as a matchup problem across the line. Developed skill set after he engages with the blocker. Shows range as he attacks the action across the line. Lacks the power from his legs to consistently hold ground against double teams. Can be beat by straight ahead power blockers.

*A few months ago I said if there was any shot to get this kid on NYG’s roster they had to take it (unless Jack or Ramsey was there too). After the grading process was completed, I can say I still feel the same way. I think Buckner is a game changer for any defense he plays for. He is a nightmare for opposing offensive lines to try and match up. He has the traits and skills to be a dominant interior pass rusher but also proved for three years in a row that he can be big time presence against the run. We are talking about a rare tool set here. He may not be the best assignment-based defender and the scheme up front may need to be tweaked a little, but this is potentially a rare prospect.

Upside Pro Comparison: Calais Campbell/ARI

2 – VERNON BUTLER – 6’3/323 – LOUISIANA TECH: 84

Fourth year senior. All Conference USA performer in 2015. Butler has all the ability to go with a tenacious style of play to be a dominating force in the NFL. He has easy and natural size and power with surprising ability to move. Butler can pursue hard laterally and make plays away from the line of scrimmage, but also will control the inside gaps with his overwhelming power presence. Butler can get consistent movement on interior blockers and he knows how to finish. His upside is as high as any defensive tackle in this class. He fits in to multiple schemes as a starter right away.

*I have Butler higher than anyone I see out there and I am fine with that. I’ve seen this kid so much and I can’t deter myself from considering him an immediate starter and every down threat. At the Senior Bowl people were in awe when seeing hiw easy it was for him to pursue to the sideline at his size. And that isn’t even his greatest strength. Butler can overwhelm a blocker at the point of attack, he doesn’t get pushed back, and he has NFL-caliber technique when it comes to getting off linemen. His crafty and talented, always hustling. Butler is a much better pass rusher than you probably think too. If NYG could somehow get him in round 2…..talk about value. NYG fans, I think this kid’s FLOOR is Linval Joseph.

Upside Pro Comparison: Marcell Dareus/BUF

3 – JARRAN REED – 6’3/307 – ALABAMA: 82

Fourth year senior that spent two years at Alabama after two seasons in Junior College. Led the Alabama defensive line in tackles in both of his seasons with the Crimson Tide. Reed is a violent run defender that consistently wins off the snap with is strong upper body and flexible lower half. He is a gritty, blue collar type that may lack standout physical attributes but can make an impact in the right role. Reed is a fit for any kind of scheme because of his versatile skill set. He is very well developed player from both a physical and mechanical perspective. His attributes are NFL ready right now.

*Another day one starter here that can factor on every down. Reed is really big and really active. He isn’t guy that will just stay home and eat up space. If he is single teamed he will get free and pursue hard. Reed stole the show at the Senior Bowl, as some told me he was the best OL/DL there by a good margin. I think he is one of the safest prospects in the draft. He may not offer top tier pass rush but he is serviceable enough there for sure.

Upside Pro Comparison: Star Lotulelei/CAR

4 – SHELDON RANKINS – 6’1/299 – LOUISVILLE: 81

Fourth year senior. Broke out in his first year as a starter in 2014 with 8 sacks and 13.5 TFL. Added another 6 sacks and 12 TFL in 2015. Compact, hard to touch bull that can consistently win off the snap with his first step and ability to change his path right at the last second. Crafty and advanced hand work. Very far along technique wise. Smart player that will diagnose right away and alter his body position in a way that makes it almost impossible for a blocker to lock on. Quickness, power, and functional strength. Smaller than most prospects at the position with a maxed out frame. Won’t hold ground against double teams. May not be an every down threat.

*Because of the emergence of Aaron Donald, Rankins has become a favorite for a lot of people. Nobody liked Donald as much as I did in 2014 and Rankins does have some similarities, but I don’t think he is quite on that level. Rankins is tough to touch, let alone block. But he didn’t live in the backfield like Donald did in college. But enough with the negatives, I really think Rankins can be a good player. He shows such quick feet and easy change of direction and combining that with the low center of gravity makes him a nightmare for big, tired blockers. He may not be the every down threat but at the very least I think he can be a very good pass rush presence.

Upside Pro Comparison: Mike Daniels/GB

5 – KENNY CLARK – 6’3/314 – UCLA: 81

Junior entry. First Team all Pac 12. Very productive and active interior defender that shows the ability to beat blockers in a variety of ways. Clark shows an elite combination of power and quickness. He has some freakish type traits and shows the potential to be an all around playmaker. His ability to bend, punch, shed and finish is sought after by every scheme in the league. He can fit in multiple roles. Clark showed inconsistencies and may have had a conditioning issue. He did not always play to his talent level, so there may need to be some additional background checking here. At his best, Clark is a dominant defender. However he showed on several occasions to be a guy that completely disappears. Risky, high ceiling/low floor player.

*If you caught Clark on the right week, you would have walked away with the notion that he was the top DT in the class. He shows those kind of flashes. He can be very stout and powerful with a first step quick enough to blow by blockers before that look up. He might be the best bull rusher in the class. There is some well developed technique and awareness here as well. Clark really is a complete package player but you just wish he was a little more consistent. I’d take a chance on him for sure.

Upside Pro Comparison: Ahtyba Rubin/SEA

6 – JONATHAN BULLARD – 6’4/285 – FLORIDA: 80

Fourth year senior that came to Florida with big expectations. Has been back and forth between defensive end and tackle, finoishing his career as a 3rd Team All American and 1st Team all SEC. Has tree trunk legs with long arms, big heavy hands. Does a nice job of anticipating and reacting to the snap, firing out nice and low. Wins the leverage battle consistently. More stout than you think even though that isn’t his game. May be too much of a tweener for some schemes but has the potential to be a matchup nightmare.

*You can call Bullard a DE or DT and I wouldn’t argue against you. I graded him out at both spots and he received very similar grades, which is actually kind of rare. Bullard can be a very good player in the right role but at the same time, he could be a weak link in the wrong one. He isn’t a universal defender. So if you draft this guy you have to have a specific plan for him.

Upside Pro Comparison: Cory Redding/ARI

7 – ANDREW BILLINGS – 6’0/311 – BAYLOR: 78

Junior entry. 2015 Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year. Record setting weightlifter with rare strength and power. There are strong players, then there is Billings. Billings has elite, and more importantly functional, power in the trenches that shows up on a weekly basis. He can be a rock in the middle of any defense. He has shown playmaking ability in addition, as he is not just a stay at home space eater. Billings has an interesting tool set and uses his natural leverage advantage as an extra weapon. His low center of gravity and quick strength can give him a constant initial advantage at the point of attack. He can fit in to any scheme because of his versatility and rare combination of tools and skills.

*If I am a 3-4 team looking for a fresh NT, Billings may be a top 25 overall player on my board. Within the NYG scheme, he can still be a dangerous player but not nearly as effective. At his worst, Billings could be a run stuffer that keeps the LBs clean and running free. At his best, Billings can be a first and second down threat that will make plenty of plays inside the tackle box. I’m not sure I see the pass rush potential though.

Upside Pro Comparison: Steve McClendon/NYJ

8 – ROBERT NKEMDICHE – 6’3/294 – OLE MISS: 78

Junior entry. Two time Second Team All American. Was the number one high school recruit in 2013. Incredibly versatile athlete that rushed and received touchdowns for the Rebels in 2015. Nkemdiche was moved all over the defense because of his rare tool set. He can exploit any kind of blocker’s weaknesses because of his rare combination of power, size, and quickness. Nkemdiche can fit in to any scheme. His pop at the point of attack can control the blocker and his phone-booth athleticism can be hard for an opponent to control. Talent wise Nkemdiche is as good as it gets. He was suspended at the end of his 2015 season for marijuana possession and has some other off-field concerns that need extra investigating. He has elite talent but the questions off the field are something to note.

*There may not be a prospect that has been talked about more than Nkemdiche. I still think there is an outside shot this kid pops in to the top 15 overall. If he was completely clean off the field, he’d be in there for sure. His talent is undeniable and when it really turns it on, he can’t be stopped by anyone and I mean it. There is tremendous risk associated with him and that well documented. More than anything, people I know say he is simply “weird”. Like he is just in a different world. I keep hearing this guy is seriously messed up. But drug wise he has been relatively clean. If you want to kill him for pot, then you are gonna have to kill Bosa too. You can’t pick and choose there. From what I do know about this kid, I downgraded him a little (not a crazy amount) because of off field issues but he is still a top 50 player at worst. Again if he is there in round 2, he has to be talked about. Round 3, might as well go for it.

Upside Pro Comparison: Darnell Dockett/UFA

9 – ASHAWN ROBINSON – 6’4/307 – ALABAMA: 76

Junior entry. Consensus All American. An immediate contributor to any scheme, Robinson has shown NFL-ready ability for a couple years now. His size and power will make him a weapon against the run right away. Robinson shows the ability to anchor himself in to the ground against single and double teams alike. He can be a guy does the dirty work to keep linebackers clean and roaming. Besides that, Robinson has always been an inconsistent playmaker. His effort after engagement is very hot and cold. He has a high floor because he will always be a power presence inside, but his upside beyond that is very questionable.

*Robinson receives some extra love and attention because of the program he went to and his “look”, in addition to the fact he was top tier HS recruit. If Bama’ supporters are being honest, they will tell you his career was on the disappointing side. There are tools to be worked with however and he has the physical presence to factor in to a lineup right away. He can eat space and hold his ground. In addition he will occasionally show the ability to make plays far away from the point of attack. At his size it makes you think there is a lot of upside here.

Upside Pro Comparison: Arthur Jones/IND

10 – DJ READER – 6’3/327 – CLEMSON: 76

Fourth year senior that was in and out of the starting lineup until being a full time starter in 2015. Also lettered in baseball for the Tigers. An absolute bully inside with the strength and presence to hold his ground against anyone. Will make a lot of plays within the inside gaps, finishes hard and violent. Will show the ability to bull rush consistently. Good presser with tremendous use of leverage and lower body pop. May be limited when it comes to his versatility and capability of different roles. Lacks the true pass rush skill set and tires easily. First and second down run plug type.

*This kid has some rare ability. Some see him as a late rounder that only fits in to the 3-4 NT role, but he is someone I would take a chance on day 2. He has all the the size and strength you want, nobody can question that. But Reader was a power hitting right fielder for the Tigers that also threw 90+ when on the mound. I think there is some freak in him that goes unnoticed. Reader could be a terror in the league and I think his upside rivals a lot of guys ahead of him on this list.

Upside Pro Comparison: Vince Wilfork/HOU

11 – CHRIS JONES – 6’6/310: MISSISSIPPI STATE: 76

Junior entry. Came out of high school as one of the top recruits in the nation. Jones never quite showed every down type dominance but he has the potential to be a dominant run defender in the NFL. His natural tools are there and his surprising jump off the snap and easy knee bend make him a very tough guy to move. He is a dirty work type player that will keep linebackers clean and own the inside gaps. Jones showed versatility as well, playing outside in some 3-4 looks. His ability is there. The hope with him will be that he develops the skills and finer aspects of the position in time. High ceiling player.

*Another high ceiling, big framed player that could handle the physical side of the game right away. Jones is a maddening prospect because he has stretches where he looks like a legit top 20 overall guy. Big, physical, athletic. Then he takes a few series’ off and will get pushed back 4-5 yards on straight ahead running plays. Jones isn’t the cleanest guy off the field either. If a team is confident they can keep him on the right track, he’s worth going after on day 2.

Upside Pro Comparison: Desmond Bryant/CLE

12 – CONNOR WUJCIAK – 6’2/291 – BOSTON COLLEGE: 75

Fifth year senior and three year starter. Ended up 1st Team All ACC in 2015. Very low to the ground, well-built fire hydrant with tremendous lower body strength. Quick enough feet to get off his blocks and keep himself free. Strong enough to anchor himself in to the ground against the double team. Has plus athletic ability for the position but will fight an uphill battle in the NFL. Lacks the natural size and girth. Doesn’t explode off the snap and does most of his work after initial engagement. Can be overwhelmed. Not a fit for everyone, needs a specific role.

*I have a very high grade on Wujciak compared to what is out there. He lacks true talent and size, this it will be an uphill fight for him. But when you watch Kyle Williams from BUF, I can see how Wujciak could make it in the league. The more you watch, the more you appreciate what he can do inside the trenches. He is a blue collar guy that can surprise you with his down to down consistency. Limited upside, sure. But I think you can trust a guy like this.

Upside Pro Comparison: Kyle Williams/BUF

13 – MATT IOANNIDIS – 6’3/299 – TEMPLE: 75

Three year starter that was the unquestioned leader of the Temple defensive line. Wore a single digit number, reserved for the toughest guys on the team according to coaches. Ioannidis is a blue collar defender that works best against the run. He lacks the ideal length but his staying power and ability to keep linebackers clean are traits always in demand. He’s a guy that you won’t hear much about but he can contribute as a quality backup. He shows some scheme versatility as well, as 3-4 teams looking for an can like him.

*The question here is does Ioannidis fit in to the 4-3 scheme? It can be questioned. I don’t think this kid’s frame is maxed out at all. He has room for growth. Ioannidis is another guy you have to watch over and over again to truly appreciate what he can do. He is a vey consistent, steady presence inside that will eventually make his way to the ball. He can be an active guy that is best suited for that #3 DT role.

Upside Pro Comparison: Tom Johnson/MIN

14 – MALIEK COLLINS – 6’2/311 – NEBRASKA: 74

Junior entry. Team captain with consistent intangibles and approach. Speed rusher with the ability to wreck havoc at the point of attack. Needs technique work awareness improvement after the snap. Collins has the speed and explosion to cause problems inside but his ineffectiveness against his toughest competition stand out on tape. He needs to learn how to depend on his head as much as he can depend on his legs. Success in the NFL trenches has a lot more to do with speed off the snap.

*A lot of people like this guy as one of the top pass rushers up the middle in the draft. He can definitely get out of his stance well and make the blocker adjust. He has the talent to be a factor on passing downs for sure. He really disappears though and I think he could disappoint you if you are coming in with high expectations. I am comfortable with this kid on the bench while you try to develop his technique as a pass rusher, but I wouldn’t want to bank on him.

Upside Pro Comparison: Nick Fairley/NO

15 – ADOLPHUS WASHINGTON – 6’3/301 – OHIO STATE: 74

Fourth year senior and three year starter. Made a couple All American teams in 2015. Started off at DE but was moved inside in 2014 which was a smart decision. Has the frame you want to work with and showed flashes of being a dominant inside defender. Very heavy hands and easy flexibility in his lower half. Controls single blockers and can get off his man to make plays within the tackle box. Struggles against the double team though. Needs more consistent technique and awareness. Lacks the NFL-ready mechanics. Has some off field issues that likely hampered his progression.

*Washington has the look of a guy that can really play. If you catch him on the right week he looks like a first rounder. Very strong and powerful. When he gets a clean look at a ball carrier he can obliterate them. Washington isn’t a very good dirty work kind of guy though. He seems uninterested at times when it comes to mechanics and anchoring himself against double teams. He has the upside of a good pass rusher if he can clean his technique up. Washington was also suspended for his last game for being arrested and had a couple of other minor issues with discipline at OSU. Upside is there.

Upside Pro Comparison: Al Woods/TEN

THE REST (16-25)

16 – ADAM GOTSIS – 6’4/287 – GEORGIA TECH: 74
17 – JOEL HEATH – 6’5/293 – MICHIGAN STATE: 72
18 – ANTHONY ZETTEL – 6’4/277 – PENN STATE: 72
19 – SHELDON DAY – 6’2/293 – NOTRE DAME: 72
20 – JASON HARGRAVE – 6’2/309 – SOUTH CAROLINA STATE: 71
21 – ANTWAUN WOODS – 6’0/318 – USC: 71
22 – WILLIE HENRY – 6’3/303 – MICHIGAN: 71
23 – ANTHONY JOHNSON: 6’4/313 – PENN STATE: 71
24 – VINCENT VALENTINE – 6’4/329 – NEBRASKA: 70
25 – DARIUS LATHAM – 6’4/311 – INDIANA: 69

NYG APPROACH

The closer we get to the draft, the more I think there is going to be urgency in that war room to bring in a pass rusher. One could say the DE group is good enough in that department, although I wouldn’t fully agree. But I don’t think anyone can make the argument that this DT group is gonna get to the passer a lot. While it may not be priority A for this scheme, it is still obvious this group needs another guy inside that can get the job done. Harrison and Hankins are a solid 1-2 punch. Bromley has had a couple nice plays over his two years and he looks like he’s gotten stronger and more powerful. But there is so much talent in the Draft group, it’s hard to pass on them especially considering there will be big values available days 2 and 3. You can have the approach of trying to bring in a potentially “special” talent in Butler, Clark, Rankins, even Nkemdiche. Or look to add another “serviceable”, rotational type in the later rounds like anyone of the guys ranked from 10+. I think this is a high priority position for the draft and fortunately its probably the deepest group of the class.

Apr 112016
 
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Shaq Lawson, Clemson Tigers (December 31, 2015)

Shaq Lawson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Ends

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*These rankings and grades are based somewhat on NYG schemes and perspective.

WHERE THEY STAND

NYG is playing a risky game at the DE position but it’s a group that could be much worse off. Jason Pierre-Paul almost lost his career last offseason but he showed enough to warrant another full year opportunity. He still has the explosive, bendy legs and I think we could be in for a big year for him. Olivier Vernon was signed to a monster contract but really hasn’t been a force in the league just yet. There is potential there though. It was a rough rookie season for Owamagbe Odighizuwa injury-wise and that was perhaps his biggest red flag coming out of UCLA. This will be a big year for him. Kerry Wynn gives them an above average #4 DE if you want to compare depth charts around the league, but his upside is limited. This is far from the dominant group they used to have and there is tremendous risk all around. You can rightfully say that not one of these guys is an established edge rusher that will scare teams. That isn’t a position you want to be in at DE.

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – JOEY BOSA – 6’5/269 – OHIO STATE: 87

Junior entry. All American in 2014. Took a step back production wise in 2015 but that had a lot to do with the extra attention he was receiving from opposing offenses. Bosa is an elite prospect. He is not a super, top level athlete but his power presence, intelligence, and versatility levels are. Bosa can be moved all over the line to exploit matchups. He plays too low and quick for the power blockers and too powerful for the finesse blockers. His hustle is off and on, and there have been issues off the field, albeit somewhat minor. Bosa can start right away in any scheme and immediately upgrade a defense. He will be a good starter for a long time.

*The top 10 of this draft is so back and forth and I still believe there is a chance he drops. Bosa isn’t a special athlete and teams have a tendency to go after athletic upside at the top of the draft and I think some people will talk themselves in to saying you can get a Bosa-type player in the middle rounds. Not me. I think Bosa is a legit day one starter that will be an elite run defender and above average pass rusher. He is as savvy as it gets and he shows tremendous short area power and hand-work. Bosa was a pro two years ago. He’s a safe pick and will be a long time starter.

Upside Pro Comparison: Justin Smith/RET

2 – SHAQ LAWSON – 6’3/270 – CLEMSON: 81

Junior entry. Played a rotational role over his first two years, playing second fiddle to Vic Beasley, the 8th overall selection of the 2014 Draft. Lawson was given his full time starting role opportunity in 2015 and shined. The All American led the nation with 25.5 tackles for loss, including an ACC leading 12.5 sacks. Lawson doesn’t jump off the screen with explosion and speed, but more so his relentless effort and power presence. His motor and passion are always on. He is a tough, blue collar type player that came back from an MCL sprain in just one week to start and perform well in the National Championship. Lawson is a starter in the NFL right away that will shine against the run and pass. His intangibles will help any physical shortcomings that he may have.

*Lawson is not an elite defender and I won’t consider him at #10 overall. But that doesn’t mean I dislike him, as he will likely finish in my top 20 overall. Lawson is very disciplined and smart. His on-field IQ rivals Bosa. While he lacks the important burst out of his stance, he can consistently get off blocks. He can change direction with a low pad level and heavy hands. Lawson is a tough hustler that plays with a fire you wish you stars played with. The injuries he suffered scare me a little, and I took a couple points off because of it. There is some bust potential with him but I think he can thrive in the right role.

Upside Pro Comparison: Terrell Suggs/BAL

3 – EMMANUEL OGBAH – 6’4/273 – OKLAHOMA STATE: 79

Fourth year junior entry. Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year Award winner in 2014. Saw a lot of attention from opposing offenses in 2015 but still showed the ability to produce. Ogbah is a first class kid off the field and has a very disciplined approach between the lines as well. His strength and quick power are NFL ready. He can be a dominant run defending end in the 4-3 scheme early in his career with the upside of molding in to a upper tier pass rusher as well. His pad level and rush moves need work but knowing how hard he works off and on the field, Ogbah is a safe bet to eventually become an every down threat in the league.

*I still think NYG is going to like Ogbah enough to potentially take him at #10 overall. The combine only confirmed that thought. Personally I see too many movement limitations on the field for me to consider him in round 1. He has good straight line movement and is fully capable of man-handling blockers. He had plays where he looked like he was playing against high schoolers with how easily he tossed guys to the side. My concerns are a lack of quick twitch and change of direction. He plays too high and NFL tackles love to play against that. If Ogbah develops more NFL-caliber technique he can be the best DE in this class, no doubt. But he has a ways to go.

Upside Pro Comparison: Ziggy Ansah/DET

4 – KEVIN DODD – 6’5/277 – CLEMSON: 77

Fourth year junior entry. Missed 2013 with a knee injury. There may not have been a player in the country that helped his own draft stock via performance in 2015 as much as Dodd. The tool set was always there but he started to really put things together and showed the potential to be an every down threat in the NFL. Dodd finished behind only teammate Shaq Lawson nationally with 23.5 tackles for loss. His best games were when the lights shined the brightest in the National Semifinal and Championship games where he totaled 8.5 tackles for loss and 4 sacks. Dodd has the tools and style of play to be a star. His skill set is still developing but when at his best, he has as much upside as any pass rusher in this class. He didn’t show a top level of play for very long and there is more risk with him than others, but knowing his top tier work ethic and intangibles leads me to believe there is a long time productive starter here.

*I know people that have Dodd ahead of Lawson by a pretty decent margin. He has more of the traditional NFL body and skill set that coaches may want to work with. Dodd only really has a year of tape to look at but man, his week 1 tape vs the National Championship tape make him look like two different guys. He just got better and better as the year went on and you have to like that. Dodd has more upside than Lawson but I don’t think he is as ready to contribute right away. He needs technique work and doesn’t have enough power presence yet. But that could be simply one year away. Some teams are a little scared by the knee, by the way.

Upside Pro Comaprison: Jared Allen/RET

5 – STEPHEN WEATHERLY – 6’4/267 – VANDERBILT: 77

Fourth year junior entry. Started off at defensive end and made the transition to pass rushing OLB in 2014. Lacked the stats that jump off the screen but was a high impact player that showed more and more promise as his career went on. Tremendous power presence that made some of the best blockers in this draft look silly at times. Delivers a violent punch with long arms and easy knee bend. Won’t be pushed back. Can adjust well after contact and slither his way through traffic very well for such a big man. Loses track of body control and balance too often. Needs to grow in to his body more and understand proper footwork and its advantages. Was a bit of a freelancer. Will likely have to move to DE in the NFL but his experience at 3-4 OLB will only open up doors.

*Weatherly is the guy on this list that I like more than anyone I know, which is fine. He is an example of why I do stuff like this. I would gamble on a kid like this in round 3 or 4, knowing he needs to transition back to playing with his hand in the dirt instead of standing up. Weatherly was a man among boys in a few games I watched. He stifles blockers and swallows ball carriers. Weatherly has some craftiness to him as well, something most of the best pass rushers possess. He could be a little ways away technique wise but I see something in him that I think went.

Upside Pro Comparison: Carlos Dunlap/CIN

6 – CARL NASSIB – 6’6/273 – PENN STATE: 76

Fifth year senior that started his career off as a preferred walk on. Brother of Giants backup quarterback Ryan Nassib. Worked his way in to a scholarship in 2013 and then waited his turn to start in 2015. Nassib made the most out of that one season, leading the nation in sacks and forced fumbles. Despite not having the ideal movement traits, Nassib showed the consistent ability to defeat blockers and reach his target. His all out hustle and efficient use of height, length, and bendability make him a multi-down threat. Nassib plays the run and pass equally well and could be the ideal fit for the left defensive end in a 4-3 scheme.

*Nassib is a guy you can depend on right away but need to know will never be a star, which is more than fine. You can definitely win with a bunch of Nassib’s on your team. He is disciplined and smart. Plays well to his assignments and abilities and will make the occasional play that makes you raise your eyebrows. Nassib is dependable and could either start or give you the ever-important third DE that every good DL has. You are safe with this kid in your rotation.

Upside Pro Comparison: Chandler Jones/ARI

7 – NOAH SPENCE – 6’1/251 – EASTERN KENTUCKY: 76

Fourth year senior. His struggles off the field have been well-documented. Was heading towards being the next big thing in 2013 where he finished as a 1st Team All Big 10 defender for Ohio State. Severe drug issues pushed him out and he opted to spend a year at Div I AA Eastern Kentucky instead of bolting for the NFL to prove he matured. An All-American season and zero failed drug tests have led many to believe he is past the drug issue. On the field he has the explosive first step you want, easy bendability, and fast, powerful hands. Spence has a lot of tools and skills that teams are looking for. His lack of size and strength are apparent but it didn’t stop him from dominating all week at the Senior Bowl. Without the drug issues from a couple years back, some say Spence would be top 10 overall in this draft.

*Everyone has to downgrade Spence a little bit at least because of the off field problems. But even without them, I don’t see the special in Spence, especially for a 4-3 scheme. He doesn’t show a ton of moves and there isn’t much he can do If he doesn’t get the initial advantage. Can he add some bulk and lower body strength? Will he pay enough attention to the little details to improve the subtle but important parts of rushing the passer? Without those he won’t be a factor, again especially in the 4-3. Teams in a 3-4 scheme may have a slightly higher grade I’m sure, but man I don’t see 1st round talent here. Teams gamble on edge rushers though. For what its worth some people were very turned off by his combine interviews.

Upside Pro Comparison: Cameron Wake/MIA

8 – CHARLES TAPPER – 6’3/271 – OKLAHOMA: 76

Run defending specialist that spends a lot of time in the opposing backfield. Very stout at the point of attack. Has pro-caliber strength right now and should have no issues adjusting to the size and power of the NFL blockers. Tapper may be a but too slow for strict 4-3 DE duty, but too small to be a 3-4 defensive end. He can be a very solid role player with scheme versatility, as he played inside and outside roles for the Sooners already. Limited upside but a high floor. He will contribute somewhere.

*Tapper was one of my biggest surprises at the combine. He looked a lot more explosive there than he did on tape. I had to go back and take a look and you have to admit he really wasn’t used that well in their scheme, He didn’t really get that many opportunities to display his pop off the edge. Is there some hidden ability here? Possibly. But I’m not catapulting him in to the 1st round because he did well in tights. Tapper is versatile and smart, yes. He can play the strength game well and he often ends up near the ball, I like that. There is a good amount of upside here.

Upside Pro Comparison: Cameron Jordan/NO

9 – DEAN LOWRY – 6’5/296 – NORTHWESTERN: 75

Fourth year senior that saw steady improvement year after year. Started for three seasons. Showed flashes of being a down after down dominant presence in 2015. Stout at the point of attack that can be a plus run defender. Lowry has very good quickness in short areas. He can play low and strong and he gets off blocks very well. He is very short-armed though and needs to show more rush moves if he is going to stick in a 4-3 scheme at DE. He won’t scare anyone off the edge but the gritty, smart style of play he shows can lead him to out-produce more talented and gifted athletes.

*Lowry wasn’t really on my radar until late in the season. But when I saw the size of him and how easy he could bend, I knew how rare it was and put more attention on him. If you like Nassib, you have to at least somewhat appreciate what Lowry brings to the table. He was dominant against the run and showed ability to beat pass blockers one on one. You can feel secure with a guy like this on the bench. Some people think he can bulk and play inside too.

Upside Pro Comparison: Tyson Jackson/ATL

10 – SHILIQUE CALHOUN – 6’4/251 – MICHIGAN STATE: 73

Fifth year senior. Three time All Big 10 performer and has had several All American mentions over the past two seasons. Calhoun has been a very productive edge player over his career. He has the body that coaches will want to work with and his explosion off the edge alone is enough to warrant extra attention. Calhoun shows glimpses of being a big time edge prospect. He lacks consistency however. There is a lack of lower body strength and power presence that can be exploited at the next level. In addition, Calhoun has too many plays where he doesn’t factor. He is a one dimensional player that lacks the special ability to be considered a top guy.

*I’ve been pretty open about my dislike of Calhoun compared to what is out there. I am fully aware he is a guy that could come in to the league and be a 10-sack guy. But too many times he left me disappointed when it came to details and hustle. I’ve seen him take too many plays off. He isn’t stout enough and if he doesn’t win off the snap, he turns it off. There are some things to like here though and because of the position he plays, someone is going to take him much earlier than where I have him.

Upside Pro Comparison: Jason Babin/ARI

11 – JIHARD WARD – 6’5/297 – ILLINOIS: 73

Spent two years in junior college prior to transferring to Illinois in 2014. Ward is an evolving athlete with some rare traits that will be sure to catch the eyes of coaches. The former high school wide receiver carries his weight with ease and shows relentless effort from sideline to sideline. It is rare to see a player that splits time between end and tackle making plays all over the field that way Ward does. He is a versatile talent with upside. Ideally his best fit is left defensive end in a 4-3.

*Another guy here I can see NYG being high enough on to spend a mid round pick on. Ward can be moved around more than most of the guys on this list, seamlessly. Very active guy that probably has the best football ahead of him. NYG could use a guy like this that needs a year of development behind what appears to be a trial year for 2 or 3 of their current DEs.

Upside Pro Comparison: Mario Williams/MIA

12 – MATT JUDON – 6’3/275 – GRAND VALLEY STATE: 72

Sixth year senior that missed a season because of a knee injury. Won the award given to Division II’s top defensive lineman in 2015. He finished the season with 20 sacks. He has the NFL ready frame and was one of the top combine performers. Judon has the tools and we aren’t talking about a guy that lacks the skill set. He does a lot of things right when it comes to hand placement and rush moves. He tracks the ball well and will make tackles all over the field, he is much more than a pass rusher. There is some stiffness to him, however and it is possible he is playing at a weight that is too heavy for his frame. Playing at a low level of college football will make the adjustment harder as well. He’ll need time in all likelihood but 4-3 and 3-4 teams alike will be interested in his upside.

*Judon could have finished higher on this list. The jump from Division II is a huge one though and it can’t just be overlooked. He is a tools-rich kid with talent and football skills though. He may not be as raw as most guys coming from Division II are. Judon can play DE in the 4-3 for sure but his better fit may be the 3-4 OLB role where he could play 10-15 pounds lighter with more ability to change direction and bend.

Upside Pro Comparison: Brian Orakpo/TEN

13 – VICTOR OCHI – 6’1/246 – STONY BROOK: 70

Fifth year senior. Steadily improved as his career went on and ended up leading the FCS in sacks in 2015. Played standing up and with his hand in the dirt. Shows tremendous ability to fire out of his stance with a low pad level, quickness, and strong legs. Ochi has the ability to give blockers headaches because of his low center of gravity and sneaky power. There are plenty of productive edge rushers like him in the NFL. He’ll always have to fight the size limitations and he won’t factor much against the run, but he’s got the danger-potential factor.

*Ochi is graded out as a DE for me. I don’t see him making a move to 4-3 LB, he isn’t built for it and the only reason he is a prospect is the pass rush ability. Ochi wouldn’t be an every down guy but he can be a pass rush weapon that comes off the bench and gives blockers fits. He is low to the ground with long enough arms and strong enough legs to really make a difference on the edge.

Upside Pro Comparison: Robert Mathis/IND

14 – BRONSON KAUFUSI – 6’6/285 – BYU: 70

Former two sport athlete for the Cougars. Played basketball in 2012/2013, getting consistent playing time at forward. Kaufusi is a high ceiling, low floor prospect that has a rare tool set. He has all the size to overwhelm life in the trenches. He can overpower blockers when his pad level is right and there is a quick twitch to his lower half off the snap. He has taken games over at times in 2015 and could be the next versatile inside/outside defensive linemen in the league. He needs more strength and technique work before he can be relied upon, however. Boom or bust type.

*Kaufusi can be a scary player in the league. I’ve seen him take over the trenches too many times to completely discount his potential because of awkward movement patterns. He struggles to change direction and burst, but he can be a stout guy inside with the ability to make things happen as a straight ahead interior rusher on passing downs. I see him as a situational guy more than anything but could be a dominant left DE type. Some guys love him. Some guys hate him.

Upside Pro Comparison: Derek Wolfe/DET

15 – RONALD BLAIR – 6’2/281 – APPALACHIAN STATE: 70

Fifth year senior that missed a season with a thumb injury. Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year in 2015. Lacks the ideal 4-3 DE tools and skills but Blair is an exciting guy to watch. Very powerful at the point of attack with long arms and ability to bend. Will eat up a short space in a blink and force the blocker to adjust to him, not the other way around. He won’t scare anyone off the edge but that’s not his game and that’s not what he did in college. He can stuff the run and exploit matchup problems up and down the line.

*Blair may not have the upside that you want when looking at DEs late in the draft, but I think you can depend on him to at least be a solid backup player. He has presence on the field and if you sleep on him, he will make the play no matter where it ends up. His tape against Clemson is very impressive. Pure gamer but won’t ever be a star.

Upside Pro Comparison: Chris Smith/JAC

THE REST (16-25)

16 – DADI NICOLAS – 6’3/235 – VIRGINIA TECH: 70
17 – ROMEO OKWARA – 6’5/275 – NOTRE DAME: 70
18 – LAWRENCE THOMAS – 6’3/286 – MICHIGAN STATE: 70
19 – JIMMY BEAN – 6’5/264 – OKLAHOMA STATE: 69
20 – SHAWN OAKMAN – 6’8/287 – BAYLOR: 64
21 – JASON FANAIKA – 6’2/271 – UTAH: 64
22 – BRANDON JACKSON – 6’4/273 – TEXAS TECH: 63
23 – RON THOMPSON – 6’3/253 – SYRACUSE: 63
24 – SILVERBERRY MOUHON – 6’3/255 – CINCINNATI: 63
25 – VONTARRIOUS DORA – 6’4/253/LOUISIANA TECH: 63

NYG APPROACH

While there are bigger holes on this roster, NYG needs to take a step back and consider what their current DE group has brought to the table. In 2015, these DEs combined for 43 games played and 8.5 sacks. Those numbers are scary bad. Yes, NYG can likely count on more from Pierre-Paul and Odighizuwa, but should they bank on it? DE in the 4-3 is a position that should never be passed on if the value is screaming at you. While I know NYG could use their early picks elsewhere, DE needs to always be considered. Having more capable pass rushers and a deeper group to call on will make other players better, the opposite is not necessarily true. This DE group is nothing to go crazy about but it can be a weird draft. There could be a top guy that falls further than you think and in my opinion you may have to pounce on the opportunity.

Apr 102016
 
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Ryan Kelly, Alabama Crimson Tide (December 31, 2015)

Ryan Kelly – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Guards and Centers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*These rankings and grades are based somewhat on NYG schemes and perspective.

WHERE THEY STAND

A lot of attention is put on the tackles and what NYG needs there. However if you go back and watch the games from last year where the offense was really struggling, you’ll notice the guards were getting dominated. John Jerry is slated to start as of now and he is simply not a starting caliber player in this league, especially the WCO. Justin Pugh has been solid since his move to LG but one can even question his long term fit within the offense. You can call him a keeper for now but when his contract is up and the agent starts chirping in his ear, we may quickly turn on just how good he is. Is he a guy you want to commit a lot of money to? It is debatable now. Weston Richburg put together a very solid sophomore season. As of now he is probably the one guy on this OL that NYG can count on for a long time. The depth leaves a lot to be desired. Bobby Hart could have a future but as of now his upside is that of a versatile backup..

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – RYAN KELLY – 6’4/311 – ALABAMA: 81

Fifth year senior and three year starter. Consensus All American and Rimington Trophy winner, given to the nation’s top center. Has all the ability and intangibles that you want out of a center. Very smart and savvy, made all the line calls and some will tell you he was responsible for Coker’s turnaround late in the year. He is a brilliant player. Kelly excels at the point of attack. He can anchor himself against power defenders, as he is rarely pushed back. He also excels at reaching across gaps as a zone blocker and remains strong on the move. Kelly is a day one starter in the league that will be around for a long time.

*Kelly has a 1st round grade on my scale. Even though NYG appears to be set at center for now, I still view Kelly draftable in round 2 because he has the tool set to play guard. He can play at 310+ with ease and he has the necessary movement skills to play there. Having an extra guy that can play the center role at a high level never hurt anyone either. He is a darkhorse favorite for the Giants 2nd round pick.

Upside Pro Comparison: Marshall Yanda/BAL

2 – CODY WHITEHAIR – 6’4/301 – KANSAS STATE: 79

Fifth year senior. Has played plenty of tackle and guard during his career. Smooth and easy mechanics with consistent footwork and hand placement. Rarely caught out of position. Good reactions and anticipation. Has the smarts to put himself in position. Easy balance and body control. Delivers a violent and controlling initial punch. Natural bender at the knees. Has played plenty of guard and tackle. Needs to anchor his position better against power rushers. Loses some ground when forced to handle the bull rush. Struggles to recover when initially beat. Projects to the inside at the next level.

*Whitehair has the look of a pro when he is on the field. He has NFL ready feet and hands, something really uncommon. My issue with him is a lack of controlling upper body strength that you want guards to have off the snap. He is more of a guy that stays in front of his man rather than push them out of the way. Could be a better fit for the zone blocking scheme which works well with NYG. Whitehair can start week 1 and give an extra emergency left tackle on the team.

Upside Pro Comparison: Justin Pugh/NYG

3 – REES ODHIAMBO – 6’4/314 – BOISE STATE: 78

Fifth year senior and three year starter. Originally from Kenya. Played left tackle for the Broncos and ended up on the 1st Team All Mountain West team in 2015. Very good footwork and flexibility. Combines the necessary athletic ability with tenacious effort and hustle. Keeps his hands on and feet driving through the whistle and will overwhelm defenders. Will over commit to his initial reads and lose track of his weight distribution. Can be caught leaning. Has missed time three years in a row due to injury.

*If it weren’t for the points I took off his grade because of the injuries (most recently a broken ankle), Odhiambo would be competing with Kelly for the top spot on this list. I believe in this kid if he can stay on the field. If you want to know what kind of style I look for in offensive linemen, notably inside, watch this kid. He is a fighter. He wants to dominate defenders and he can do so with his feet and hands. Very well balanced athlete that will make a move inside and thrive. His grade will be very dependent on medicals, however.

Upside Pro Comparison: Zack Martin/DAL

4 – SPENCER DRANGO – 6’6/310 – BAYLOR: 78

Fifth year senior and four year starter. Two time All American with 48 career starts for the Bears. Drango may be best suited for guard in the NFL when considering how he moves and his lack of ideal length. He is a power blocker that shows consistent technique and strength. His game is NFL-ready and the versatility will only help his outlook. Drango may lack some of the ideal lower body agility, but he is a smart and savvy player with tremendous strength. He is a starter in the NFL right away that should have a long career as long as he can adjust to playing in a three point stance more often.

*Some people that I really respect don’t think Drango can make the transition inside. I think he can but I wouldn’t doubt his ability to play tackle, either. I ultimately graded him as a guard but having him here only gives NYG more options to work with down the road. Drango is a physical bruiser that will find ways to get the job done. Doesn’t always look the part but I would have no issues with him in a week 1 starting lineup. He has man strength and a ton of experience blocking against quality defensive linemen. He’ll be a high floor player.

Upside Pro Comparison: Trai Turner/CAR

5 – NICK MARTIN – 6’4/299 – NOTRE DAME: 77

Fifth year senior and three year starter and left guard. Brother to Cowboys star OL Zach Martin. Injured his knee in 2013 that forced him to miss the final 3 games. Gritty player with a never-stop motor. Gets his hands on and will keep his feet moving through the end of the play. Always in the right position. Rarely flagged for penalties. Crafty blocker that will out-perform defenders far more talented than him. He won’t get a ton of movement at the point of attack. Speed rushers can bother him and he will get lost in space at times. Might not have the major upside you want but his floor is higher than most.

*During the season I wasn’t buying in to the Martin hype. I thought people liked him because of his brother and because of Mayock never shutting his mouth about how good he was. The more I watch, the more I appreciate though. His talent is average. His size is average. But Martin just doesn’t get beat often. If you chart guys out, I bet Martin grades out higher than most of the OL in the draft. Now, playing mostly center helps that but he deserves credit. He is a 2nd rounder in my book that could play guard, but would be better at center.

Upside Pro Comparison: Kory Lichtensteiger/WAS

6 – CONNOR MCGOVERN – 6’4/306 – MISSOURI: 77

Fifth year senior and four year starter. Played RT, RG, and LT for Missouri. Excellent athlete between the sidelines with elite strength. Quick out of his stance and shows the ability to stick with linebackers in space. Comfortable bender. Strong punch that brings elite weight room power to the field. Smart player that has played three different positions during his college career. Brings consistent technique each play. Can be fooled by stunts and blitzes. Has holes in his game as a pass protector. Fails to anchor his feet in the ground. Susceptible to powerful, low to the ground defenders.

*Justin Britt. Mitch Morse. Now Connor McGovern. These are all guys from Missouri that I had 2nd round grades on during the season that nobody wanted to talk about. It looks like people have caught up on McGovern because some have told me he could be a top 45 pick. If you want a zone blocking guard, McGovern needs to be on your short list. This guy can play. He may need a year to get acclimated back to guard in an NFL scheme, but long term I think he has a future as a staple for an offense in zone schemes.

Upside Pro Comparison: JR Sweezy/TB

7 – JOSH GARNETT – 6’5/312 – STANFORD: 76

Two year starter and team captain for the Cardinal. A typical Stanford interior blocker with elite run blocking ability that lacks the essential footwork in pass protection. Garnett will show flashes of dominance when he can fire out of his stance and run block. He has overwhelming power presence when he gets his hands locked on. The issues arise when he asked to adjust to speed rushers and move in space. He needs time to refine his mechanics but there is natural ability here that could be starting in the NFL within two years.

*I was off on my David Yankey grade a couple years ago. I am trying to not let it affect my outlook on Garnett who is coming from the same position and from the same school. They have similar playing styles and have eerily close workout numbers. I do want to keep Garnett in the 2nd/3rd round discussion however because he plays with tremendous pop on the move. That was Yankey’s weakness along with pass blocking struggles. Garnett bends better and shows more versatility inside. I think he can be a starter in most schemes right away but may not have the upper tier potential.

Upside Pro Comparison: Larry Warford/DET

8 – JOE DAHL – 6’4/310 – WASHINGTON STATE: 76

Fifth year senior. Played a year at Montana prior to transferring to Washington State. Dahl has a lot of experience, starting one year at left guard and two at left tackle. He lacks ideal size and bulk but in time, Dahl has the potential to starter in the NFL. He is very good mechanically from top to bottom. There is some pop out of his hands and he understands how to use his feet to his advantage. Once he gets stronger and more comfortable in the three point stance, he can be a steady contributor inside. For a player that had minimal three point and run blocking experience in college, he proved to be one of the best blockers at the Senior Bowl. There is some hidden talent and potential here.

*Another college left tackle that will most likely make the move inside. Dahl is also coming from a 2 point stance offense. He will need time but I think he has the tools and skills that coaches want to work with. He’s listed at 310 but I but he played at well under 300. He thrived at the Senior Bowl and I think he can be a very good player in a year or two if he works hard enough.

Upside Pro Comparison: TJ Lang/GB

9 – ISAAC SEUMALO – 6’4/303 – OREGON STATE: 75

Fourth year junior entry. Missed the 2014 season while healing from a broken foot which required two surgeries. Was a highly touted high school recruit. Seumalo has experience all over the line, mostly at center. His future is definitely inside at the next level but the versatility will only help. Seumalo has average tools but his intelligence and initial power stand out. If he can clean up technique flaws in space, he has the upside of a solid starter. He needs time to work those kinks out.

*If it weren’t for the nasty foot injury that kept him off the field in 2014, Seumalo would have finished in the top 5 of this group. What stands out the most here is the versatility. He played 4 out of 5 spots along the line and I think he can he the valuable 6th linemen on any team with the upside of being a starter. I’d like to see more strength and second level blocking ability but with his intelligence and approach, I think he can get there. He isn’t a sexy name but he can stick in this league.

Upside Pro Comparison: Andy Levitre/ATL

10 – VADAL ALEXANDER – 6’5/326 – LSU: 75

Fourth year senior that started all four years for the Tigers. Played mainly LG and RT. Mammoth frame with all the length and functional weight one could ask for. Shows a natural feel for blocking. Smart and good reactions based on mental awareness and savvy reads. Overwhelming upper body power. Can lock a defender up and render him unable to move. Has experience at both guard and tackle. Stiffness in space can be exposed by good double moves. Will be late to react when forced to continually moving laterally. Hinges at the hips too often.

*I’ve been back and forth on Alexander. I had to watch him a lot to get my final grade on him and I think this is where he belongs. That 3rd/4th round tier. He will be ready for the power of the NFL trenches right away but I see the quickness and change of direction really bothering him. He is a hit or miss guy that will either overwhelm everyone he touches or will be a step too slow to stick with the speed based defenders. He has some ugly tape, really ugly. But the majority of his snaps are plus-marks. Tough guy to peg.

Upside Pro Comparison: Orlando Franklin/SD

11 – DOMINIQUE ROBERTSON – 6’5/324 – WEST GEORGIA: 75

Has had a bit of a roller coaster ride throughout his college career. He started off at junior college, then on to Texas Tech, and then finished out at Division II West Georgia, where he played left tackle. He doesn’t have the feet to play outside. His balance in space is weak and he gets caught leaning too much. As a run blocker he showed dominant traits at a lower level of college football and teams will look at that frame and short area power with wide eyes. He has a high ceiling.

*Robertson is probably my top OG/C sleeper that is off the radar of most. I think he can be considered in that 3rd/4th round area but some people say he is an UDFA only. He is raw and won’t help much early in his career, but I think this kid has tools that you want the developmental prospects to have. The question is, is he worth a roster spot early on? Because if you think he is, you need to be ready to put him in the game in most cases.

Upside Pro Comparison: DJ Fluker/SD

12 – GRAHAM GLASGOW – 6’6/307 – MICHIGAN: 73

Fifth year starter with 37 career starts. Had a drinking/partying problem early in his career but appears to be clean now. Quick feet to make adjustments and reactions. Smart, heady blocker that can make line calls. Gives an aggressive, powerful punch. Anchors well against power, can chase down speed in space. Versatility is a plus with his experience at guard and center. Tough kid with an angry playing style. Has the frame for more weight. Better run blocker than pass blocker. Will lose his pad level and foot speed when protecting quarterback. Hand placement is inconsistent.

*Glasgow is a tall interior player but he bends well and showed very good footwork everywhere I saw him. He is an athlete with a frame that should be able to hold more weight easily Ever since Harbaugh came to Michigan, this kid’s game shot up big time. I think he will respond to the NFL pretty well and someone is going to get a good late round value on him. I think he can start down the road, possibly anywhere on the line.

Upside Pro Comparison: Chris Watt/SD

13 – CHRISTIAN WESTERMAN – 6’3/298 – ARIZONA STATE: 73

Fifth year senior. Spent two years at Auburn, playing in just one game. Two year starter for the Sun Devils. Westerman has top tier weight room strength. His body just screams NFL guard and his skill set doesn’t need a lot of development in comparison to other prospects. He is close to being ready for the pro trenches. He lacks the top end upside however. He doesn’t move guys and seems be overmatched when up against speed and quickness. He has backup ability but limited potential.

*A lot of guys have Westerman in the top 5 of this group. As you can see I don’t have huge gaps between him and the guys up there point wise, but I just don’t see the upside here. He gets beat too much for my liking and for such a strong weight room guy, he really doesn’t move people. He can be a guy that helps a team early on but I don’t think he’ll be a rock anywhere. He may be near his peak performance.

Upside Pro Comparison: Josh Sitton/GB

14 – JAKE BRENDEL – 6’4/303 – UCLA: 71

Fifth year senior. Four year starter that has been a team captain since his redshirt sophomore season. One of the top centers in the Pac 12. His weaknesses are not something I want to see at the position. He is often late out of his stance and he has a hard time playing low and strong. Brendel is going to struggle with the combination of speed and power you see from NFL defensive tackles. He is smart, very experienced, and knows the mental side of the game very well. But there will need to be a fair amount of physical development before he can be relied on. Late rounder.

*Brendel has developmental backup written all over him. I don’t think he is stout enough to handle the NFL trenches but he does have movement ability. He can get out of his stance well but he doesn’t make the impact you want. He’ll be drafted and teams in need of a backup zone blocking center may have a higher grade on him. I don’t see position versatility though.

Upside Pro Comparison: Mike Person/ATL

15 – DOMINICK JACKSON – 6’5/313 – ALABAMA: 70

Fourth year senior that transferred to Alabama in 2014. Only started one year at RT. Tough and hard nosed player that will play hard through the whistle. Gets his hands inside and will keep his pad level down. May not have the feet for the outside, just doesn’t protect the pass well enough. He is at his best when run blocking, showing ability to do well at the second level. He lacks upside but has the potential to be a reliable backup.

*I’ve liked Jackson all year. These sneaky guys that don’t play much at major programs but do well in their limited opportunities intrigue me. If Jackson was a 4 year player at a lesser school like Tennessee, I think we could be viewing him as a 3rd or 4th rounder. Jackson lacks the adjustment ability to pass block defensive ends but I believe in him as a guard prospect. He is worth taking a look at day 3.

Upside Pro Comparison: Andrew Norwell/CAR

THE REST (16-25)

16 – LANDON TURNER – 6’4/330 – NORTH CAROLINA: 70
17 – COLE TONER – 6’5/306 – HARVARD: 70
18 – JOE THUNEY – 6’5/304 – NC STATE: 70
19 – ALEX REDMOND – 6’5/294 – UCLA: 67
20 – SEBASTIAN TRETOLA – 6’4/314: 66
21 – MAX TUERK – 6’5/298 – USC: 66
22 – MATT SKURA – 6’3/329 – DUKE: 66
23 – ALFREDO MORALES – 6’3/316 – TEXAS TECH: 65
24 – DENVER KIRKLAND – 6’4/335 – ARKANSAS: 65
25 – DARRELL GREENE – 6’3/321 – SAN DIEGO STATE: 63

NYG APPROACH

NYG needs to add an OG talent to this team before the season starts, whether it is through leftover free agency or the draft. As I said earlier, Justin Pugh is set for the next few years at LG and Weston Richburg can be a long term C, especially in this offense. That RG spot could potentially be a glaring hole with no solution in sight. Ryan Kelly in round 2 would be a consideration for me. Sure, he played C at Alabama but he has the skill set for OG and he is more than smart enough to make a simple move. But if you want to go elsewhere with that pick, it could be fine. I think this OG/C group is one of the deepest in the draft when it comes to the day 2 and early day 3 prospects. I think NYG can get a guy with any one of their picks in rounds 2-5 that could factor in year one. One or two of these guys will fall I think. Again, like OT, you are playing a risky game by hoping someone falls but you’re gonna have to do that with a few positions when you only have 6 picks. There are starters in this group, I think a lot of them.

Apr 082016
 
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Taylor Decker, Ohio State Buckeyes (January 1, 2016)

Taylor Decker – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Offensive Tackles

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*These rankings and grades are based somewhat on NYG schemes and perspective.

WHERE THEY STAND

Two of the past three first round picks have been spent on prospects that played left tackle in college. Both appear to be keepers for the offensive line but I’m very hesitant to call Pugh or Flowers top tier left tackles in this league, or even top half. Pugh appears to be settled in nicely at LG where I always said he would was destined for. It is nice to know he could move outside if a bad injury situation arose. Flowers is the X factor here and I think what NYG sees him as will be a major factor in what ends up happening at #10 overall Flowers did play on a bum ankle in 2015 but I think the same way about him as I did when he was drafted…he is best suited for the RT spot. That isn’t a knock on him at all and as the NFL pass rush game gets better and better, the gap between RT and LT lessens. The point remains though, Flowers ability is better suited for RT even though he could pass as a serviceable LT. In addition, I’m not convinced NYG is confident with Marshall Newhouse being a starter. He had an up and down 2015 (more down than up) and there is very little quality depth on this team at OT. I think NYG has a lot of concerns and questions within this group and it will only become more important as Manning ages.

TOP 20 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – TAYLOR DECKER – 6’7/310 – OHIO STATE: 84

Mr. Consistency after starting every game of his four year career. Smooth operator that never seems fooled. Always has his feet under him with good knee bend and his chest up. Clean mechanics. Does the little things right to make himself better. Powerful six inch punch. Gets to the second level fast and will overpower linebackers with ease. Reliable edge protector. Average foot speed. Doesn’t always maintain his power through the end of a play. Needs more leg drive. Will get grabby in pass protection.

*As you will see, my top OTs have very close grades. I don’t think one stands out among the others at all. But gun to my head if I had to choose one, I am going with the smooth, always in control Decker. This guy has the perfect mix of aggression and patience. I don’t think any of these OTs show the control and repetitive mechanics/technique that Decker does. Blockers with this kind of height often have a hard time bending but I don’t see that here, Decker plays a low game with knee bend and inside hand position. He can overwhelm defenders with his size and some of his best tape came against his top competition. I’ll take Decker as my LT anyday.

Upside Pro Comparison: Joe Thomas/CLE

2 – LAREMY TUNSIL – 6’5/310 – OLE MISS: 84

Junior entry. Was a blue chip recruit out of high school and started all three years. Two time 2nd Team All American. Suspended seven games in 2015 for receiving impressible benefits. Tunsil is a gifted and rare athlete for the position. He has all the foot speed and easy movement to hang with anyone off the edge. His performance as a run blocker against second level defenders is NFL ready. He can finish blocks and his effort is consistent. Tunsil’s biggest struggle will be the jump in power and strength that he will face in the NFL trenches. He does not derive enough force from his lower body yet. He will need to apply himself in the weight room, as finesse tackles have a hard time in the league.

*I don’t see the elite in Tunsil that others do. I’ve looked at him over and over and I just don’t see it. The footwork is outstanding. The hands are always on point. He can move in space well. But at the end of the day his warts pop up in literally every game I watch. He plays with poor pad level and doesn’t hold his ground against power rushers. Sure he could develop the strength over time and paired with his movement ability, you could have an elite tackle. But he is not a #1 overall guy to me. Tunsil was such a highly touted high school recruit and I honestly think that is partially why guys put the elite label on him. Tunsil is good. He isn’t elite.

Upside Pro Comparison – Tyron Smith/DAL

3 – JACK CONKLIN – 6’6/308 – MICHIGAN STATE: 84

Fourth year Junior entry. Three year starter, primarily at left tackle. 2nd Team All American in 2015 despite battling a nagging knee injury. Conklin is a blue collar type that lacks talent (originally walked on to the MSU roster) but puts forth a ton of effort and fight in to his game. Conklin is a massive body that can move well enough to handle outside responsibility, but may need to be kept on the right side. He lacks the natural foot speed and flexibility to be trusted on the left side without earning it. His size, strength and head down approach will get him a starting job in the NFL for a long time.

*A lot of discussion has surrounded Conklin in recent months. For people that watch his games, you love him because of his consistency and approach. For those that see the clips of him say that he lacks the ideal kick slide and doesn’t have the “sexy” factor to his game. Conklin is a gamer. There is no such thing as a sure-bet in the NFL Draft but Conklin is on a small list of players in this class that I am confident will have a long career in the league barring injury. I question his ability to play left tackle but there are worse athletes in the NFL that play that spot than Conklin, and NYG has one of those guys. Conklin should be in the discussion at #10 overall, absolutely.

Upside Pro Comparison – Sebastian Vollmer/NE

4 – RONNIE STANLEY – 6’6/312 – NOTRE DAME: 83

Fourth year junior. Has one season of starting experience at right tackle and two seasons at left tackle. Underwent elbow surgery in 2012. Stanley has all the ideal physical tool set and more than enough ability to play left tackle in the NFL. His arm length and hand strength consistently control the power rushers. His feet move fast enough to beat speed rushers to the edge. He passes the initial eye test but there are several holes in his game from a mechanical and consistency perspective, respectively. Stanley has elite potential but there are far too many question marks for him to receive an elite grade.

*Stanley is another name I see out there with the elite label next to his name. I don’t agree. I think he is a quality player and a starter in the league but the holes in his games worry me. We aren’t talking about the hardest working kid in the world, either. He didn’t take care of his business in college and this league will eat those kinds of players up really fast. Stanley has as much talent as all the guys above him and if a coach can get him to apply himself off the field and make him truly care, he could approach the sky high upside. But only if all the guys above are gone am I considering him.

Upside Pro Comparison: Brandon Albert/MIA

5 – JASON SPRIGGS – 6’7/305 – INDIANA: 81

Fourth year senior with 47 career starts. 2015 All American. Elite athlete with a frame that can easily add more bulk. Uses his length and knee bend effectively. Repeats his technique in pass protection over and over. Explodes out of his stance with good positioning. Effective second level blocker. Will look to end plays with the last lick. Mean and aggressive. Lacks the staying power against a big bull rusher. Doesn’t move guys in the run game. Will overshoot his target on the edge and lose his inside protection. Needs more urgency out of his stance.

*I sound like a broken record here but when looking at Spriggs, we are talking about a guy with very high level upside. I think he is the best athlete of the bunch but simply needs time to increase his power presence and off-snap mechanics. For such a good mover, Spriggs really struggles with initial movement and set up at times. He needs to clean that up if he can factor at LT in the NFL. I don’t think he is going to be a major factor in year one. He can control guys with his hands but he doesn’t get a lot out of his lower body, something he’ll need in the NFL. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go anywherer between #15 and #45 overall.

Upside Pro Comparison: Terron Armstead/NO

6 – GERMAIN IFEDI – 6’6/324 – TEXAS A& M: 78

Fourth year junior entry. Has played right guard and both tackle spots for the Aggies. Ifedi started his career off hot, earning Freshman All American honors in 2013 but failed to take the next step. His frame and overall ability to move could make a lot of coaches dream of elite upside, but in the end Ifedi has proven to be an underachiever time and time again. He can be a quality backup initially that will need to really apply himself on and off the field if he wants to be anything more. That is something he has yet to show himself being capable of.

*It’s hard not to get excited about Ifedi when you watch him. He can simply dominate with his combination of size, power, and initial quickness. He just looks like an NFL starter right now. Ifedi is really inconsistent though and I can’t tell if it’s an effort thing or a conditioning issue. Perhaps a bit of both. Either way this guy is as gifted as anyone in this group but fails to consistently play up to the level in which he is capable of. He will excite you and disappoint you. Ifedi could be a top tier RT in this league right away if he wants to.

Upside Pro Comparison: Gosder Cherilus/TB

7 – SHON COLEMAN – 6’5/307 – AUBURN: 76

Fifth year junior entry. Missed the 2011 season while battling cancer and needed a redshirt in 2012 to complete his recovery. Coleman was granted four years of eligibility starting in 2013 by the NCAA. He started for two years at left tackle and molded himself back in to a potential star blocker. Coleman has elite size and power presence with good enough feet to handle outside duty. He is best suited for the right side where his pad level and movement in space issues are not as severe. Coleman is more than a feel-good story. He has starter potential.

*Coleman will need a good amount of time to develop in to an NFL lineman. The Auburn scheme is such a quick paced offense and Coleman will need to adjust to consistently playing in a 3 point stance. In addition he has mechanical tendencies that will need to be cleaned up. Some people think he can play the left side in the NFL but I see him as a RT, possibly even a guard at the next level. He has a lot of natural power to him and will be a guy that moves defenders. If he can clean his footwork and pad level up, he’ll be a good one.

Upside Pro Comparison: Donald Stephenson/DEN

8 – HALAPOULIVAATI VAITAI – 6’6/320 – TCU: 76

Fourth year senior. Three year starter that has seen time at both left and right tackle. Vaitai is a smooth operator that has some of the cleanest technique in the class. He could be just a year or two of strength training away from being a starting tackle, and a good one at that. He hustles hard and shows the awareness to make up for any slight physical shortcomings. Vaitai has the body of a future tackle but will simply need time to get stronger. He has a very high upside.

*This is one of my biggest sleepers of the entire draft. Vaitai is another one that needs time to develop NFL-caliber technique, coming from fast paced offense. But I see a guy with really good body control and set up. He mirrors guys in space and gets his hands inside consistently. I think he could use more strength development and likely needs a year to live in the weight room, but he has it all together when he’s up against quality pass rushers. I think he is ideally a RT in the league but he matched up athletically with some of the best pass rushers the country had to offer at LT.

Upside Pro Comparison: Andrew Whitworth/CIN

9 – PARKER EHINGER – CINCINNATI – 6’7/318: 76

Fifth year senior and 3 year starter. Quick out of his stance and shows a consistent set up and initial punch. Brings a physical presence to line and makes the effort to put his man through the ground each play. Takes pride in defeating his man and playing through the whistle. Shows good balance and body control from start to finish. Shows good quickness to the edge and when chasing after second level defenders. May not have the length for the outside. Will lose to leverage-based pass rushers. Needs to show more ability to adjust to double moves. Over commits to his initial read.

*If you want someone more physical on your line, Ehinger could be a guy you look at. I think he projects at RT and OG in the league. He isn’t a great athlete but he shows very easy body control and balance. Ehinger is a gamer that will be in the league for a long time, but I question the upside. He can be a solid but not great blocker, definitely starter-caliber though.

Upside Pro Comparison: Doug Free/DAL

10 – WILLIE BEAVERS – 6’5/324 – WESTERN MICHIGAN: 75

Fifth year senior and three year starter. Has some impressive tape against some of the best pass rushers the nation has to offer. He held his own against Joey Bosa and Shilique Calhoun, showing flawless and consistent mechanics, lower body strength, and easy awareness. He can reach the edge like a left tackle and there is enough head to toe strength to handle power rushers. He doesn’t bend that well and there is a lot of forward lean to him. He lacks ideal measurements as well and it shows up on tape. Beavers can be a solid backup with the potential to start anywhere on the line if he can up his technique and lower body strength.

*Beavers has a lot of guys in is corner. People like his long term potential and think he can be a starting LT in the league. I still see a guy that may need to make a move inside. For a guy with good athletic ability, he sure does get beat in space a lot. Not very good at adjusting on the move along the edge. He showed flashes though of being a good player. I’m just not sold enough to put him in round 2.

Upside Pro Comparison: Kelvin Beachum/JAC

11 – JOHN THEUS – 6’6/313 – GEORGIA: 75

Fourth year senior, four year starter. Was in and out of the starting lineup early in his career and was probably rushed in to the action. Has the feet to play the left side in the NFL, carries his weight with ease. Needs more weight room development, has an obvious strength and power deficit when matched up against bigger defenders. Does a nice job on the move though, dominates second level defenders. Plays with a chip on his shoulder. Will be a backup for awhile but has the tools to be a starter.

*I liked Theus the more I saw of him as the season went on. I’ve seen a ton of Georgia the past 2-3 years and I really had a low outlook on him coming in to 2015. The light turned on a bit and I think he is a guy you can be confident in to backup both tackle positions. That’s an important role in the NFL. He really needs to get stronger though and clean up his body.

Upside Pro Comparison: J’Marcus Webb/SEA

12 – FAHN COOPER – 6’4/303 – OLE MISS: 72

Fourth year senior that played at Bowling Green and a Junior College prior to joining Ole Miss in 2014. Started both years for the Rebels at RT and LT. Stepped in seamlessly at LT when Laremy Tunsil was suspended for the first half of 2015. Underrated athletic ability with good short area power and suddenness. Has good reach with heavy, fast hands. Very good technique player that has been starting wherever he’s been playing. Might not have the ideal upside but guys like this can tend to stick around for a long time.

*You know, watching Ole Miss early in the year while Tunsil was suspended, you really couldn’t tell a difference at the LT position. I think Cooper opened a lot of eyes with his play this year. And its another reason why I don’t have the elite grade on Tunsil Cooper can be a solid backup and eventual starter in the league. I actually think he can be more NFL ready right now than some of the guys above him on this list. He does a lot of little things very well and he doesn’t have any major holes in his game.

Upside Pro Comparison: Michael Harris/MIN

13 – BRANDON SHELL – 6’5/324 – SOUTH CAROLINA: 71

Four year starter with 47 career starts to his name. Right tackle prospect that will impress most with the initial eyeball test. Has supreme size and shows the capability of winning off the snap. His issues are in space and they are apparent. He needs technique work but also has to step up his foot quickness if he wants to stick around. Shell has gifts but he’s not a football player yet.

*At the East/West Shrine game, I found out there are scouts that think Shell is a 2nd rounder and could be the #5 or #6 guy on the OT board for some teams. Some people love his upside. Personally I think he is too stiff for the NFL edges and won’t play low enough to play guard. I think he is a guy that excites you but at the end of the day he won’t be able to get it done as a starter. He’ll be a long term project for someone.

Upside Pro Comparison: Phil Loadholt/MIN

14 – JOEL HAEG – 6’6/304 – NORTH DAKOTA STATE: 71

Fifth year senior and four year starter. Started 60 games and ended his career with 2 straight FCS All American seasons. He played 2 years at RT and 2 years at LT. Haeg is a top tier athlete with the kind of athletic upside that coaches get excited about. He pops out of his stance in to his kick slide as seamlessly as anyone with full body control and ability to change direction on a dime. He really doesn’t move people, however. He is a guy that need a year-plus of weight training and eating before he can be thrown in to the mix. Upside athlete that already has the technique down, just needs strength.

*Haeg is a lesser version of Jason Spriggs. He has all the movement tools and technique that will lead you to initially believe he can play LT in the NFL. The more you watch though, the more you will notice he doesn’t push anyone around. He struggles to run block with purpose and bull rushers can get under his pads and drive him back. He is making a big jump in competition as well, thus he is a developmental guy that will probably need more than a year. Upside is there, though.

Upside Pro Comparison: Joe Staley/SF

15 – CALEB BENENOCH – 6’5/311 – UCLA: 68

Junior entry. Born in Nigeria. Started for three years primarily at right tackle but did also see some time inside at guard because of injuries to teammates. Benenoch is a high upside athlete for the position. He shows easy foot speed, a good reach, and proper flexibility throughout. There is a sense of rawness to his game still, however. He shows lapses in concentration and will lose out on his technique, relying too much on his athleticism. Benenoch is not a weak body, but there is more lower body strength especially that needs to be added. He cannot handle NFL power defenders yet. He has starting potential down the road, possibly even on the left side.

*Every time I watched Benenoch, I was somewhat intrigued. He had the look and the occasional flashes of a guy that could really get the job done. But then he would have stretches where a good pass rusher would routinely beat him a variety of ways. He will need time to sit and develop but I could see him being a guy that was really worth gambling on.

Upside Pro Comparison: Bryan Bulaga/GB

16 – STEPHANE NEMBOT – 6’7/322 – COLORADO: 69

Fifth year senior wth an interesting story. Was born in Cameroon and didn’t play football until his junior year of high school. He was a defensive end when he stepped foot on campus and satyed there for his redshirt year. He kept growing and the coaches moved him to OL where he started to show signs of special potential. He started 36 straight games, mostly at RT, and wowed scouts on occasion. He is very raw but there are tools here that are actually functional. He struggles to pivot and change direction, but he has such great length and hand power. He is an interesting prospect.

*I like Nembot as a late round project. He is a scary, scary dude when he gets a head full of steam downhill. He is quicker than he times but there is still consistent footwork that needs to be worked on. He looked really bad at times. He had an impressive Shrine week and some scouts left there raving about his progress from day 1 to day 6. You have to like that.

Upside Pro Comparison: Marcus Gilbert/PIT

17 – JERALD HAWKINS – 6’6/305 – LSU: 68

Fourth year junior entry. Started for two seasons at right tackle, one on the left side. Hawkins has a nice frame and good athletic ability. His feet are good enough for the left side but his lack of staying power and inconsistent pad level need a lot o work before he can be thrown in to the mix. Hawkins has an upside that few prospects do, but he will need at least a year of development before he can be considered for contribution.

*Some “experts” were talking about Hawkins as a first rounder during the season. No way. He has a frame that you will want to work with but I was unimpressed with him athletically. I’m not even sure he can hack it as a LT in the league. He may have to be in a scheme specific guard role at the end of the day. He plays with pop and good short area quickness though. I see him as a versatile, solid backup.

Upside Pro Comparison: Vinston Painter/MIA

18 – KYLE MURPHY – 6’6/305 – STANFORD: 68

Two year starter, once on right and left side respectively. All Pac 12 performer. Murphy looks the part right after the snap. He has proper foot quickness and knee bend but his form breaks down as the play ensues. He does not have the pro caliber strength to handle protection duties yet. He is a developmental prospect that has the upside of a starter if he can gain strength and improve his post-engagement mechanics.

*I had an impressed outlook on Murphy when I watched him earlier in the year but towards the end of the season and especially at the Senior Bowl, I kind of took a 180 and I think he is a backup at best-type. When he isn’t run blocking, Murphy is pretty sloppy. He doesn’t have the strength or the foot speed to make up for it. I don’t think we are looking at a ton of talent here with him. Some guys are up on him though.

Upside Pro Comparison: Marshall Newhouse/NYG

19 – LE’RAVEN CLARK – 6’5/316 – TEXAS TECH: 68

Fifth year senior and four year starter. Has one year of experience as a guard and the rest have been at left tackle. Clark has hard-to-find length and power. He can dominate guys at the point of attack but the second he asked to play the game with his feet, his inconsistencies pop up. He has a long ways to go in terms of technique. Developmental prospect here that needs a ton of work.

*Someone is gonna spend a top 100 overall pick on him. Someone recently told me he is in the 2nd round discussion. I don’t see it. I think he is a guy scouts go nuts over because of the hard to find tools. Clark does have elite length and hand power, but he gets beat all the time by guys that won’t play in the league. He is not a good bender and he lacks instincts. Plus, he played in an offense where he was almost never in a 3 point stance. He needs a ton of work.

Upside Pro Comparison: DJ Fluker/SD

20 – ALEX LEWIS – 6’6/312 – NEBRASKA: 66

Fifth year senior that started off at Colorado, where he primarily played guard. After sitting out 2013, Lewis was a 2 year starter at left tackle where he finished as a 2nd Team All Big 10 performer. Lewis has the body and the foot speed that coaches will want to work with. He played below 290 pounds in college, so he will need time to add functional weight that will stay on his frame. He can handle it. Lewis isn’t a power player but he was a very reliable run blocker. If he can add strength without losing his movement ability, he could be a solid backup for both tackle spots.

Upside Pro Comparison: Breno Giacomini/NYJ

THE REST (20-25)

21 – AVRERY YOUNG – 6’5/328 – AUBURN: 66
22 – TYLER JOHNSTONE – 6’5/301 – OREGON: 65
23– TYLER MARZ – 6’7/316 – WISCONSIN: 65
24 – JOE GORE – CLEMSON – 6’6/300: 63
25 – PEARCE SLATER – 6’7/329 – SAN DIEGO STATE: 63

NYG APPROACH

There is a lot of chatter that NYG is going with an OT with their first pick. From the outside, some will kill the decision because they spent a #9 overall pick on one last year and they have another recent first round tackle playing guard now. You know what? This team has a significant hole at RT right now and there is no denying it. If the value matches up early, NYG needs to strongly consider going OT. I really don’t see a big gap between the top 5 guys and I think NYG can realistically grab one of them to start week one. You could play a slightly riskier game by drafting one of those second tier guys day 2 but there is always the risk they aren’t there. NYG can’t be a team that tries to get cute with the OL as Manning enters the slow years of his career. While I wouldn’t go in saying OT or bust, it needs to be constantly on their minds. They need better depth and a more legit starter at RT. The option of moving Flowers over is still alive and well in my book.

Apr 062016
 
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Hunter Henry, Arkansas Razorbacks (September 12, 2015)

Hunter Henry – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Tight Ends

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*These rankings and grades are based somewhat on NYG schemes and perspective.

WHERE THEY STAND

Starter Larry Donnell missed 8 games with a neck injury but has been cleared to come back for 2016. He still shows the look of a guy that has rare ability when attacking the ball with his combination of body control, leaping ability, and length. Backup Will Tye stepped up and finished the season with 32/368/3 over the final 7 games, very solid numbers. Jerome Cunningham will compete for the third spot now that Daniel Fells will walk in free agency. Manning likes to use the tight end and McAdoo has them as an important piece to the puzzle within his scheme. There is enough talent here to stay put personnel wise, but no one that should prevent them from trying to grab a guy they like.

TOP 10 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – HUNTER HENRY – 6’5/250 – ARKANSAS: 82

Junior entry. 2015 Consensus All American and John Mackey Award winner, given to the nation’s top tight end. Henry has all the tools and skills an every down tight end needs in the NFL. His size and speed to go along with his smooth moving and catching can get him on the field right away. Henry needs to get stronger, however. His power presence will be a weakness among NFL defenders that can easily be exploited. He is a tough, gritty player that performed well despite nagging injuries in 2015. His approach and skill set are there. He will be a starter in the NFL that performs better as a receiver than a blocker.

*Henry is the top tight end in this group by a pretty decent margin. After him there is a significant drop off and considering that along with the fact that the TE has become a very important piece to NFL offenses, I think Henry is going to go earlier than some think. He is potentially a top 15 pick that very few are discussing. Henry’s blocking is good enough but I wouldn’t call it a strength. He needs to live in the weight room if he is going to reach his Jason Witten ceiling. But man this guy is as smooth a pass catcher as you will find and with his size and speed, has the potential to be a star.

Upside Pro Comparison – Jason Witten/DAL

2 – NICK VANNETT – 6’6/257 – OHIO STATE: 77

Fifth year senior that only started for a year, but was a part of the offense for the past three seasons. Vannett has been a slight victim of an offense that doesn’t feature the tight end often. The talent elsewhere overshadowed the skill set of Vannett. He can fill different tight end roles right away for a team. He has all the size, strength, and flexibility to handle blocking duties right away but he has also shown sneaky ability to run up the seam and make difficult catches on the move. There is some hidden talent and potential with Vannett. At the very least he can handle blocking duties but there are several starting tight ends in the league that Vannett favorably compares to.

*Taking Vannett in round 2 or 3 (which is about where I have him) would be a bit of a gamble based on tools and limited exposure to the action in college. If you watch him workout, you have no choice but to be impressed. He has size and athletic ability. He catches the ball well. He runs good routes. There is a lot to like with him. I know he doesn’t have a ton of impressive tape but like the report said, he really didn’t get the chances that he would have if he was in another scheme. High upside player.

Upside Pro Comparison – Coby Fleener//NO

3 – DAVID MORGAN – 6’4/260 – TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO: 76

Fifth year senior that was forced to redshirt in 2012 because of a leg injury. Team captain and emotional leader of the offense. Morgan was a high school wide receiver that has put on over 45 pounds since his freshman year. He is an underneath weapon for the passing game because of his ability to use quickness and strength to out-maneuver defenders when the ball comes his way. He shows the elite-level toughness and grit over the middle that is needed on those vital 3rd down passing plays. Morgan is an asset to any kind of offense that likes to use their tight end as a blocker and receiver equally. He may need a year to develop more NFL-caliber strength to handle duties in the trenches but he has the upside of a starter at the next level.

*Interesting story with Morgan. I casually watched a UTSA game and five minutes in I was hooked on this kid. Made a few calls and very few knew who he was. Fast forward a few months and I am helping this kid get in to the East/West Shrine game. Unfortunately he tweaked his knee and could not play in the game. Morgan is not a burner and he doesn’t have elite size, but his short area quickness and ball skills need to be considered. He far exceeds his talent level when it comes to producing as a blocker and 3rd down target. I think he has starter potential but even if he doesn’t, he will find a way to contribute.

Upside Pro Comparison: Luke Wilson/SEA

4 – BEAU SANDLAND – 6’4/253 – MONTANA STATE: 74

Fifth year senior that was overlooked in high school and started off playing at a Junior College. He played a year Miami after several schools were coming after him. Didn’t last long there and transferred back home to play for Montana State where he became an FCS All American with tools that would make anyone want to get a second look. His grade will revolve around upside more so than currenty ability, as he is currently still growing in to his body and trying to improve the skill side of his game. Sandland is going to be a guy NFL coaches want to work with.

*Sandland showed explosion and NFL size/power at the combine and it made me take a deeper look in to his game tapes. This kid has the upside that most TEs in this class don’t. He can be an every down guy with his currently ability to block in the trenches but sneaky ability in space to run away from defenders. I wouldn’t consider him a natural pass catcher just yet but he has the tools and good-enough ability to be a factor in year one.

Upside Pro Comparison: Brent Celek/PHI

5 – JERRELL ADAMS – 6’5/247 – SOUTH CAROLINA: 72

Fourth year senior. Has a freakish frame and shows flashes of being an absolute terror to cover. Size and speed are there. Looks like he is easily adding the needed bulk to his frame. Adams is still considered a raw prospect that is long on talent and tools, but short on skills. He still shows awkward movement in short space at times. Adams is a high effort player that can get up the seam in a blink and easily catches the ball with his hands. He doesn’t make a big impact as a blocker but he gets after his man hard. He bends well and he knows how to use his long arms. Adams has the upside to be an all around tight end if he can continue to add weight and refine his route running. There is an upside here that very few tight ends possess.

*I was ready to have a 2nd round grade on Adams. Talent wise I think he has the goods to be a big time matchup problem for opposing defenses. Speed and length with nice ball skills are always a good combination. I got some information on Adams inability to stay consistent off the field, however. He doesn’t work hard and didn’t take care of his business. People from his own camp were pretty down on him. That’s rare because it’s usually the other way around to a fault. Upside is enormous with this kid if he can turn that around,

Upside Pro Comparison – Ladarius Green/PIT

6 – AUSTIN HOOPER – 6’4/254 – STANFORD: 71

Third year sophomore entry. 3rd Team All American. Hooper lacks the ideal height for the position but his frame and length slightly make up for it. He has enough athleticism and size to pose as a matchup problem for linebackers and safeties alike. His raw ability is intriguing and the skill set continues to improve, therefore his upside is high. If he can add strength while maintaining his speed, he can be molded in to a starter. Hooper is a hard nosed player that can overcome his few physical shortcomings.

*This is the kind of guy I can see NYG going after if they wanted to add to their TE group. I don’t think he will be an early pick but I think he can be an early contributor. He isn’t a huge upside guy but he will be able to block in the NFL day one and he is a safe, reliable underneath receiver.

Upside Pro Comparison – Anthony Fasano/TEN

7 – TYLER HIGBEE – 6’6/249 – WESTERN KENTUCKY: 70

Long and lean tight end that needs physical development if he plans on playing in the NFL trenches. Higbee was a top tier receiving threat for Western Kentucky’s all time leading passer Brandon Doughty. He was the offense’s security blanket that was incredibly reliable all over the route tree. Very good hands catcher that can bring the ball in away from his body and on the move. Very good space athlete. Higbee isn’t a very good bender and had an obvious lack of strength and power when blocking. He will need to beef up if he plans on sticking around. He isn’t special enough as a receiver to neglect that.

*If you want a tight end to develop over the next few years, Higbee could be your guy. He has WR caliber ball skills and hands. Very capable of turning and twisting his body in the air to come down with the ball. With his height and length that can be a dangerous weapon in the passing game But this is a guy that needs to live in the weight room and cafeteria. He isn’t ready for the physical side.

Upside Pro Comparison – Ryan Griffin/HOU

8 – JAKE MCGEE – 6’5/250 – FLORIDA: 68

Sixth year senior that missed a year because of a gruesome injury where he broke both bones in one of his legs. Came back strong to his steady self in 2015 with his short passing game prowess. He started off at Virginia and put together a nice career there, leading the team in receiving in 2013. McGee is a body-controlled mover that can be hard to cover because of his size and short area quickness. He catches a lot of contested balls and will show no hesitation over the middle. He is a tough guy, blue collar type. His body still needs more girth and strength. There is a strength deficit when blocking, especially from his lower half. He can be a solid backup type in the league soon.

*A few years ago I thought McGee was heading towards an eventual 1st round pick. I really liked him at UVA despite poor QB play. A few years later I am still concerned about his strength and power. He may not ever be an every down TE and his receiving skills aren’t good enough to be drafted for that area alone. I would still like him as a backup on my team.

Upside Pro Comparison – Rhett Ellison/MIN

9 – TAMMARICK HEMINGWAY – 6’5/244 – SOUTH CAROLINA STATE: 66

Fourth year senior that saw steady production progress throughout his career. Smooth athlete that can be explosive up the seam and has a sense of violence about him when he’s around defensive backs. Easy hands catcher that shows WR caliber ball skills and body control. High ceiling player that creates matchup problems. Shows a lot of effort as a blocker but there are definite technique issues there and he wasn’t asked to do a lot there in college. Might be a practice squad guy for a year but teams will like his athletic ability and size.

*I didn’t get to see as much as Hemingway as I hoped. Oh well. His ability to dominate defensive backs is apparent, however. He can be a bully in space and we aren’t talking about your average TE movement ability. He can really get going and he can change his direction on a dime. He has the ceiling of a guy that can make an impact on passing downs.

Upside Pro Comparison: Jordan Cameron/MIA

10 – BRYCE WILLIAMS – 6’6/257 – EAST CAROLINA: 65

Fifth year senior that spent his redshirt season at Marshall. Came on to the scene in 2013 and put together a productive career. Williams has a nice frame with even more room for additional weight. He has a wiry frame and carries the weight with ease. High effort, intense guy that will be brave over the middle and make touch catches in traffic. Good catcher of the ball underneath and near the end zone. Williams doesn’t dominate the point of attack as much as you think. He plays with a high pad level and doesn’t have a high level of quick twitch. He has some straight line ability though. If he can get stronger and more fluid beneath the waist, he has starter or backup potential.

*I like the frame here. Williams is a tough blue collar type that just needs time to make himself a more powerful athlete below the waist. If he can do that you are talking about a guy that could start. He has the mindset of all the good TEs in the league that are dangerous over the middle and reliable in the trenches.

Upside Pro Comparison: Brandon Pettitgrew/DET

THE REST (11-18)

11 – HENRY KRIEGER-CABLE – 6’3/248 – IOWA: 65
12 – STEPHEN ANDERSON – 6’2/230 – CALIFORNIA: 64
13 – BEN BRAUNECKER – 6’3/250 – HARVARD: 64
14 – THOMAS DUARTE – 6’2/231 – UCLA: 64
15 – DARION GRISWOLD – 6’5/255 – ARKANSAS STATE: 63
16 – RYAN MALLECK – 6’4/247 – VIRGINIA TECH: 63
17 – DAVUD GRINNAGE – 6’5/248 – NC STATE: 63
18 – MATT WEISER – 6’5/255 – BUFFALO: 63

NYG APPROACH

I think NYG will go in to the season with their current three TEs and I don’t think it’s a bad approach. I am still in the camp that says we haven’t seen the best of Donnell as long as he can stay healthy. And Will Tye intrigues me. Manning has done well with TEs like him and I think his best days are ahead of him as well. This TE class as a whole is very weak. But, and this is a big but, if Hunter Henry is there in round 2 (which I doubt to be the case) it would be very hard to pass on him. It may be a waste of a valuable resource because he may not start in year one, but I really think Henry is going to be a good one. He doesn’t lack size, speed, or hands. He has them all. Behind him the guys in the draft are pretty much able to be found any year however I do have a thing for David Morgan and I bet he could be had on day three. Some of the other project types aren’t worth making any major plans around. If the team thinks they can keep Jerrell Adams’ head on straight, you could have a big time value there. All in all, I don’t think NYG will be using a pick on any of these prospects.