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 – JERELL 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 Jerell 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.

Apr 042016
 
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Laquon Treadwell, Mississippi Rebels (January 1, 2016)

Laquon Treadwell – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Wide Receivers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

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

WHERE THEY STAND

For such a highly ranked passing offense (#7 in the NFL last season), the NYG receivers sure are an unintimidating group. Odell Beckham is one of the most dangerous weapons in the league and proved his record setting rookie season was no flash in a pan. As long as he is on the field, defenses will fear every Eli Manning drop back. That doesn’t mean this is a group that is all set, however. Outside of Beckham, the team’s next leading wide receiver that is set to return in 2016 is Dwayne Harris who went for 36/396/4. Behind him? Myles White with 7/88/1. Yes, that’s on the season. Even though nobody was upset to see Reuben Randle leave for PHI, there is no denying the hole that exists. They are really banking on Victor Cruz returning to full strength. It will be almost 2 full years between his last game and week 1 of the 2016 season.

TOP 20 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – LAQUON TREADWELL – 6’2/221 – OLE MISS: 83

Third year junior. Some questioned his career after a broken fibula and dislocated ankle late in 2014. However Treadwell showed a tremendous drive and work ethic to fight his way back for an SEC leading 1,153 yards and 11 TD campaign. Treadwell has elite-level ball skills and strength for the position. He is a reliable target to throw to no matter where he on the field. He does things with and without the ball that impact the game from start to finish. Treadwell may still be bouncing back from his injury, as he’s been quoted saying he doesn’t quite trust his quick twitch yet. He is an immediate contributor in the NFL that has the drive to be great.

*Now I know there is a lot of negative talk about the poor 40 time and overall workout. I actually did decrease his grade a bit as a result. But I think he still is the top WR in the draft. He is a classic example of playing “faster than he times” and to be honest, speed isn’t what he’s built on. He can out-physical anyone and won’t need the room that some others do. You don’t lead the SEC in receiving and TDs without very good athletic ability. My Dez Bryant without the attitude comparison still exists.

Upside Pro Comparison – Dez Bryant/DAL

2 – COREY COLEMAN – 5’11/194 – BAYLOR: 82

Fourth year junior. All American and Biletnikoff Award winner, given to the nation’s most outstanding receiver. Coleman has proven to be one of the country’s top deep threats and playmakers over the past two years. Despite lacking ideal height and length of a number one receiver, he hauled in 31 touchdowns since the start of 2014. He outplays his size with a blend of aggression, ball skills, and toughness. The speed and quickness are NFL-ready, as he owns the top 40, 3-cone, and vertical among the Baylor team that is always known for having more than their share of workout warriors. Coleman has the ability to be a game changer but his lack of effort and consistency is worrisome. He will need to apply more effort to the small details if he wants to be a star in the NFL. Boom or bust type prospect.

*I really like the talent here. There may not be a better “mover” in the class when considering the explosion off the line and legit speed downfield. He has shown flashes of Steve Smith (not the NYG one) type toughness and attitude. There are simply inconsistencies in his game that I see every time I study him. I don’t think he is a level behind Treadwell at all, I just don’t trust him as much.

Upside Pro Comparison – Antonio Brown/PIT

3 – JOSH DOCTSON – 6’2/202 – TCU: 81

Fifth year senior that started off at Wyoming. Transferred to TCU after one productive season there. Two very successful years at TCU and was on pace to go after single season receiving records before a broken wrist ended his 2015 campaign a few weeks early. Doctson is an All American player that was somewhat a product of a friendly system. He essentially ran three routes weekly. He caught a lot of uncontested balls and was often put in position to make easy plays. That said, there is an undeniable skill set here that translates very well to the tools he possesses. Doctson has very good hands and ball skills. He is a very sure and balanced mover. He can be sneaky fast off the line and he tracks the ball with ease. While he may lack the ideal top end speed and agility, Doctson can get open in the NFL and make catches in traffic. There is an upside with him once he can learn the NFL system.

*There was a point early in the year where I thought he was going to be the top guy in this class. He is as fluid as it gets when it comes to tracking the ball and plucking it out of the air on the move. His top tier body control and savvy movement can make him a dangerous weapon with the right QB. My main concern is how tough he can be against NFL defenders. Will hr back off in traffic? Can he take hits? He looks on the frail side.

Upside Pro Comparison – AJ Green/CIN

4 – STERLING SHEPARD – 5’10/194 – OKLAHOMA: 81

Four year senior and three year starter. Has elite slot receiver potential. Shepard has all the movement ability to run himself open underneath but also the strength and toughness to factor in traffic. He has made plenty of receptions in traffic and shows no hesitation doing so. He has very good concentration and ball skills. Shepard will surprise defenses with his ability to run deep routes and make catches on the vertical move. His work ethic is second to none and the attention to detail is what makes receivers get to the next level in terms of production and consistency. Shepard may be limited to slot duty in the NFL, but it’s a role that almost every team is using more and more each year. He has a bright future.

*Although the long term upside of Shepard may not be as high as some of these guys, I think he is the safest bet among all the WRs to at least be a solid contributor. He has the ideal physical ability and mental approach for the vital slot presence. But when you watch him you notice he can do more than run quick routes over the middle. This kid competes as hard as anyone in the entire class. If NYG has any ounce of doubt about Cruz coming back all the way, Shepard needs to be strongly considered if he is there in round 2, which I highly doubt is the case.

Upside Pro Comparison – Doug Baldwin – WR/SEA

5 – CHARONE PEAKE – 6’2/205 – CLEMSON: 80

Five year senior. Came to Clemson as a top tier high school recruit but failed to break in to the consistent rotation in Clemson’s consistently star studded wide receiver groups. Peake finally got his every down opportunity in 2015 and thrived, finishing second on the team in both catches and yards. Peake has tremendous body control and ball skills. He is the kind of receiver that does not need to be open in order to be thrown to. He can beat most defensive backs in 50/50 situations.

*I don’t think you will find many people with a 1st round-ish grade on Peake like I do. But I started to think this way halfway through the season and it was only strengthened during their playoff run and pre-draft process. Peake’s biggest problem was how often he would disappear at Clemson but I think that was mostly a result of the Clemson offense just being stacked year after year with big time talent. Just not enough balls to go around. Peake’s skill set is unique and it something most of the NFL is looking for, NYG included.

Upside Pro Comparison – Alshon Jeffery/CHI

6 – TYLER BOYD – 6’1/194 – PITTSBURGH: 78

Third year junior that burst on to the scene right away in 2013. First player in ACC history that recorded 1,000+ receiving yards in both freshman and sophomore seasons respectively. Boyd was an All American in 2014. He failed to take the next step up in 2015 but he lacked star power around him and defenses were putting their sole focus on stopping him only. Boyd is a high floor, high ceiling type player. He does enough to make him a reliable player when it comes to getting open and catching the ball. His ability after the catch is something to note as well. His limits have more to do with speed and overall athletic ability. He can be an immediate contributor in the NFL with big time upside.

*I know some people that have Boyd at the top of this list and I really don’t blame them. He had a little bit of a raw deal at Pitt. I didn’t like the way he was used. I don’t say this often but I do think he could have been top 5 in this class if he was at Alabama these past few years. If the speed were better, he’d be in the top 10 discussion I think. Another guy that plays faster than he times with big time ball skills and concentration. I did have to take a few points off because of some off-field red flags.

Upside Pro Comparison – Eric Decker – NYJ

7 – PHAROH COOPER – 5’11/203 – SOUTH CAROLINA: 75

Third year junior. First Team All SEC two years in a row. Only player in the country that has rushed, thrown, and received touchdowns each of the past three years. Cooper is truly a jack of all trades threat. He has a running back type build and approach with the ball in his hands and is a threat to score every time he’s in possession. He has the potential to be a quarterback’s best friend because of his yards after catch and savvy movement when plays break down. He is a very smart, heady player. Cooper is a raw route runner and may not be a ideal fit for a strict system that requires a lot of responsibility out of receivers. If he can find a role that allows him to freelance a bit and just make plays after the catch, he can be a star.

*There is something about this kid. He is just a gamer, plain and simple. Loves the game and plays it hard, always finding ways to make things happen. He lacks he ideal athletic ability but Cooper can make a big difference in several ways. He won’t be a guy that is running downfield and making plays. He is a guy you want underneath for the sole purpose of easily getting the ball in his hands. Cooper can make broken plays in to touchdowns. It’s hard to find anyone that plays harder and smarter than him.

Upside Pro Comparison – Julian Edelman – NE

8 – MALCOLM MITCHELL – 6’0/198 – GEORGIA: 75

Fifth year senior. Split time between cornerback and wide receiver in 2012. Missed the 2013 season after tearing an ACL in week one. Mitchell earned the team’s comeback player of the year award in 2014 and showed steady progress all around in 2015. Mitchell is a tough, hard nosed gamer. He is a guy that consistently finds a way to get the job done. He lacks size. He lacks top end speed. But he is a smart and savvy route runner that can adjust on the fly. Mitchell is the kind of receiver that quarterbacks love to throw to. He out-performs his tool set. He is very clean off the field and his intangibles could bring him to a higher level than what his talent tells.

*Mitchell might be the best route runner within this second tier of receivers. Don’t underestimate the importance of that, as it is something I feel a lot of people do not take seriously. It was one of Beckham’s main positives coming out of LSU. Mitchell is tough and hard nosed that does the little things right. Maybe not a high upside guy but has a high floor.

Upside Pro Comparison – Michael Crabtree/OAK

9 – WILL FULLER – 6’0/186 – NOTRE DAME: 75

Third year junior. Won the team’s Offensive MVP award in 2014 after a breakout campaign. All American in 2015. Fuller, in a traditional NFL style offense, showed consistent production that can be matched up with the nation’s top receivers over the past two seasons. He is a big play threat with the kind of speed that can take a top off a defense. He has a well developed skill set that came from a tireless work ethic. His approach is very professional. When combining talent, intangibles, and performance like his, it’s hard not to label him a safe bet to produce in the NFL.

*Fuller’s main negatives revolve around his hands. Physically, they are smaller than ideal. On the field, he has some of the worst drop rates among the names on this list. That’s something that usually carries over in to the NFL from college, so that has to bump him down a bit. He has decent ball skills though. Very good at tracking the deep ball while maintaining speed and body control. He isn’t just a fast guy that lacked production. Fuller has legit playmaking ability and he proved it for 2 years. He could be a huge get for the NYG offense.

Upside Pro Comparison – Mike Wallace/BAL

10 – LEONTE CAROO – 6’0/211 – RUTGERS: 75

Three year starter and Rutgers’ all time touchdown receptions leader. Team MVP award winner in 2015. Carroo has been a very productive big play receiver each of the past three seasons despite poor quarterback play. Carroo is a thickly built, sneaky fast receiver that already has pro-level ball skills and route running. His top end potential is limited due to a lack of vertical speed and short area agility, but he can be a part of a rotation. His off field concerns need to be looked in to, however. He will need to clear a lot of red flags in pre-draft meetings.

*Carroo’s pre draft process could not have gone better. The off field concerns were enough for some people to say he could be crossed off board but according to some people I know, they shouldn’t impact his draft grade too much. On the field and in workouts, Caroo has been “wow-ing” some people that didn’t know much about him. Carroo is a physical kid with toughness and ball skills. He is a better athlete than some think. He may not run himself open with ease but he can do it well enough considering how productive he is in traffic. Again, not a high upside guy but he can be a player that sticks for awhile if the maturity concerns don’t arise.

Upside Pro Comparison – Pierre Garcon/WAS

11 – BRAXTON MILLER – 6’1/201 – OHIO STATE: 75

Fifth year senior that spent his four years as a quarterback. While missing the 2014 season because of a shoulder injury sustained in practice, his position was taken over by younger, more capable players. Miller willingly made the unselfish move to wide receiver in 2015 despite being a Heisman Candidate at his original position. Miller’s greatest traits are better fits for receiver. He has explosive speed and agility. Once the ball is in his hands, his potential to score is a credible fear of any defense. Miller has a ways to go when it comes to route running and ball skills, but while he develops those he still poses as a gamebreaker. Miller has as much upside as any receiver in the draft.

*It’s been an up and down 7 months for Miller. He started the year off showing the natural ability to come down with the ball and make plays. As the year went on he had trouble getting open on more difficult routes. He showed poor ball skills. Telling him to do anything other than catch a screen pass just seemed so unnatural. He really is a raw WR that has athletic ability on his side but to be honest, guys like that can always be found. Miller’s name hypes his grade up higher for some than me. I think he is a 3rd rounder at best but I can see why people like him. His explosion and speed with the ball is dangerous.

Upside Pro Comparison – Randall Cobb/GB

12 – RICARDO LOUIS – 6’2/215 – AUBURN: 75

Fourth year senior that was in and out of the starting lineup for a few years. Had to wait his turn early in his career while Sammie Coates and Duke Williams formed the team’s 1-2 punch. Shined at moments in 2015 showing explosive straight line speed and big play ability. Has a very good size/speed combination. Was given more opportunity in 2015 when Williams was suspended and he responded well. He can make things happen with the ball in his hands. Simply put he is bigger, stronger, and faster than most defensive backs. Upside-based prospect but not a guy that failed to produce in college. He has some really good tape.

*I have a higher grade on Louis than most and I admit it’s based mostly on upside, much more so than his tape. However, he did show more versatility in 201t5 than I think people thought he had. Mainly Louis is a straight line athlete that can really burn through a secondary. When you tell him to change direction and show fluid hips, he doesn’t stand out as much. But remember this kid is 6’2/215 with toughness over the middle. Tools-wise he has a lot of “plus” marks. Maybe not an early contributor type but I love the upside.

Upside Pro Comparison – Kamar Aiken/BAL

13 – JALIN MARSHALL – 5’10/204 – OHIO STATE: 75

Third year sophomore entry. Was an overlooked redshirt in 2013, but performed his way on to the field and put together two playmaking seasons. Marshall is an ideal fit for the Urban Meyer scheme, but has a skill set that is questionable to work in the NFL. He has quickness and explosion to go along with reliable hands. He needs space to be effective though. Marshall gets overwhelmed by bigger defenders and will disappear a times. He was a jack of all trades player that ran the ball out of the backfield, returned punts and kicks, and of course caught the ball. Versatile threat that may need a gimmick type role to stick around.

*Marshall grew on me after the season ended when I focused more on what he is capable of rather than what he did at Ohio State. Simply put, this kid is a slot receiver that is thicker than most at that spot. He can break tackles in traffic, he can make defenders miss. He has quick acceleration and a good sense of where to go after the catch. I just think there are limitations with him that some of the other slot guys may not have.

Upside Pro Comparison – Golden Tate/DET

14 – KENNY LAWLER – 6’2/203 – CALIFORNIA: 74

Fourth year junior. Led the Bears in touchdown catches the past two seasons respectively. Lawler lacks standout physical attributes. He does however have a nice blend of length and body control. He can make plays with defenders draped all over him. He has a certain level of savvy-ness to him that quarterbacks love. He shows a lot of potential as a route runner as well. His upside is limited but his basement is high. Smooth receivers with easy hands and easy hips can be molded in to very good players.

*Lawler is a smooth operator that can easily move from point A to point B quickly while maintaining his balance and body control. Very good ball skills and underrates athletic ability. I think he has good potential for a team needing an outside guy.

Upside Pro Comparison – Terrence Williams/DAL

15 – DEVON CAJUSTE – 6’4/234 – STANFORD: 74

Fifth year senior. Didn’t really see the field until 2013 and when he did, it was pretty situational. He broke out in 2014 with a 16.4 yards per catch finish, proving to be the team’s deep threat. Has the big time size and strength advantage that can easily combat the more physical CBs in the league. Some teams view him as a TE. Has WR type physical ability when it comes to speed and quickness, however. Took a step back production wise in 2015 but that had more to do with the offense than anything. When looking at the combination of skills and tools here, Cajuste has to intrigue you. We aren’t talking about a big, stiff guy.

*This is an intriguing player. I got to watch Cajuste warm up pre game and you want an Odell Beckham type show (crazy 1 hand grabs), look no further than Cajuste. I think we are talking about a very unique player here. He stole the show at the combine at 230+ pounds and he is a physical presence on the field. He does a lot of things right. I don’t see him as a TE. He isn’t Aaron Hernandez. I think this kid is a legit WR that can be a dangerous player if used correctly.

Upside Pro Comparison – Vincent Jackson/TB

16 – MICHAEL THOMAS – 6’3/212 – OHIO STATE: 73

Fourth year junior. Redshirt in 2013 as a sophomore. Burst on to the scene in a crowded wide receiver group in 2014, but failed to take the leap many were expecting in 2015. Thomas is a specimen. He looks the part and will occasionally show big play ability. His size and strength can dominate. However as a route runner and overall movement athlete, he lacks the special attributes. Thomas has an upside that few can possess, but he will need time and a lot of work to get there. Raw, high risk/high reward prospect.

*This is an upside-based WR and I wouldn’t disagree that if Thomas reaches his ceiling, he can be the top guy in this class. There is a lot that needs to happen, however, and his weaknesses are things that always bother me extra in the scouting process. I just don’t like the guys that lack the suddenness to quickly react and adjust. Upside, yes. Unlikely to get there, yes.

Upside Pro Comparison – Allen Robinson/JAC

17 – KOLBY LISTENBEE – 6’0/197 – TCU: 73

Fourth year senior with several accolades as a sprinter for the TCU track team. Was a 2 year contributor for the football team after riding the bench prior. Was the team’s main top threat that almost averaged 20 yards per catch. One tricky pony that can outrun almost anyone downfield but struggles to make an impact underneath and intermediate. Looks frail and weak when in contact with defenders. Not sure he has the fire to really get after it. Doesn’t always hustle. For a team that wants to lengthen the secondary, he’ll be in demand. Deep threats are always nice to have and that’s what he can be.

*He might be the fastest WR in this class. He has very good acceleration and straight line movement but he doesn’t turn well. It’s just not how his body is programmed and/or trained. He isn’t only a track guy though. He has decent ball skills with good tracking and body control. But he did drop the ball too much and he seemed to struggle in workouts when getting to the ball in and out of routes. Upside is there enough to spend a mid round pick on him.

Upside Pro Comparison – Ted Ginn/CAR

18 – RASHAWN SCOTT – 6’1/199 – MIAMI: 73

Fifth year senior that has had a roller coaster career for the Hurricanes. His time on the field was very inconsistent because of injuries and suspensions. Very good mover with a combination of agility and explosion. Hard guy to cover because of the straight line deep speed and easy ability to stop and change direction. Good after the catch as well. Might not be the most physical player. Will shy from contact often and shows the lapse in concentration over the middle. All in all a very good prospect that could have been a top 100 guy if his injuries and suspensions never happened.

*Watch Scott for a few games and its hard not to raise your eyebrows. He has ability and there is no denying it. He’ll make catches that a lot of guys can’t, he’ll move with the ball in his hands that a lot of guys can’t, and he’ll run routes better than most. The consistency is the main issue with him. He’s immature and frail. Tough combination but if a team sees enough talent he could go pretty high.

Upside Pro Comparison – Marvin Jones/DET

19 – CAYLEB JONES – 6’3/205 – ARIZONA: 72

Fourth year junior that played one season as a backup for Texas. Redshirt in 2013 because of the transfer. Father, Robert, was a 10 year NFL veteran. Nephew to former NFL quarterback Jeff Blake. Jones has football in his blood and showed big time upside in his two years at Arizona despite inconsistent quarterback play. His frame alone is worth a second look, but he also possesses some natural ability to track balls downfield and out reach most defenders. He is a limited speed guy and has holes in his game when it comes to consistency and aggression, but there is no denying his long term upside. It can be hard to find the combination of tools and skills that Jones has in his arsenal.

*There are teams with a top 100 overall grade on Jones. I don’t think he is quite there but I can see why someone has him there. He has excellent ball skills and he has the size/toughness combination. I think he is a few pounds away from being that kind of guy in the NFL though. Another guy that may have been impacted a lot by poor surroundings. High upside.

Upside Pro Comparison – Reuben Randle/PHI

20 – RASHARD HIGGINS – 6’1/196 – COLORADO STATE: 72

Third year junior entry. Had a consensus All American season in 2014, leading the nation in yards and touchdowns. Leaves Colorado State as the school’s all time leader in receiving yards, receptions, and touchdowns after playing just three seasons. Higgins’ production took a few steps down in 2015, as the team implemented a new offensive system with a new quarterback. Higgins also fought through a nagging foot sprain. His production outweighs his talent and potential, but he still has the skills and tools to be a rotational receiver in the NFL. He shows a natural feel for the position and has enough speed to pose as a deep threat. His lack of strength and lateral quickness will limit him to specific roles.

*If you are someone that looks at stats-only, you probably had Higgins as one of the top WRs in this class heading in to 2015. That was never really the case but there are reasons to like him. He doesn’t get himself open that well but at the same time he has the ball skills to make catches in traffic. Although he could use some more meat on his bones, he is a tough kid. He’ll compete hard.

Upside Pro Comparison – Rishard Matthews/TEN

THE REST (21-30)

21 – CODY CORE – 6’3/205 – OLE MISS: 72
22 – DEMARCUS ROBINSON – 6’0/203: 71
23 – TREVOR DAVIS – 6’1/188 – CALIFORNIA: 71
24 – DEMARCUS AYERS – 5’9/182 – HOUSTON: 71
25 – MARQUEZ NORTH – 6’2/223 – TENNESSEE: 70
26 – JORDAN PAYTON – 6’1/207 – UCLA: 70
27 – DARIUS POWE – 6’3/220 – CALIFORNIA: 70
28 – KJ MAYE – 5’8/194 – MINNESOTA: 69
29 – BYRON MARSHALL – 5’9/201 – OREGON: 68
30 – TAJAE SHARPE – 6’2/194 – MASSACHUSETTS: 68

NYG APPROACH

Plain and simple here. There is less talent at the WR position than a good passing offense needs, even if the QB is playing at his all time best. Victor Cruz is the wild card here but I don’t think plans should be made around him returning to form. If he does, great. But NYG cannot waste the back nine of Manning’s career with their current WR group. They’ve had good success with rookie WRs coming in and making an impact and there are plenty of guys on here that could add to that. The question is now, how early do they look at one? Corey Coleman and Laquon Treadwell should be available at #10 overall but they are borderline top 10 talents. Josh Doctson could be there in round 2 presenting great value and Sterling Shepherd is a day one impact guy. The further in to the draft you get, the more these guys get grouped together grade wise. There are plenty of 3rd-4th round grades that could trickle down in to the 4th-6th round area of the draft. A lot of those guys really don’t stand out among each other so patience could be the way to go. NYG can’t be too patient though or else they are going to have to hope and pray Cruz returns to full strength and someone comes out of nowhere to contribute 50+ catches at least.

Mar 312016
 
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Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State Buckeyes (January 1, 2016)

Ezekiel Elliott – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Running Backs

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

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

WHERE THEY STAND

Over the past three years, the Jerry Reese regime has brought in 3 RBs to be a serious part of the rotation. 31 year old Rashad Jennings has been the group’s top option, averaging just over 4 yards per carry and adding a couple catches per game. Andre Willians is the lone draft pick of the trio and has been nothing worth discussing outside of a few solid preseason runs. Shane Vereen was signed last spring in an effort to enhance their pass catching out of the backfield. He was used sporadically and the scheme struggled to get him a consistent flow of touches. Orleans Darkwa showed off some young, fresh legs and ran hard when given the chance. He was the one back that has a sense of big play ability. NYG has struggled to piece together a strong rushing attack for years now. It’s partially a personnel issue and partially an OL issue.

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – EZEKIEL ELLIOTT – 6’0/226 – OHIO STATE: 84

Third year junior. All American back that has rushed for 3,699 yards over the past two seasons combined, number one in the country. Elliott is a three down back with the body to take hits between the tackles and keep the chains moving, but also more than enough ability to break off the big runs. He has powerful acceleration and good-enough speed. He holds on to the ball and is a reliable, consistent rusher. His main issues revolve around a sense of self-entitlement, as he’s called out the coaching staff to the media following a loss. Elliott has some “all about me” in him. He will grade out above average-to-elite across the board physically, however. Definite long time starter potential. NYG will need to consider Elliott at #10 overall. He would be the second best skill position player (Manning not included) on this team right away. The notion that first round picks shouldn’t be 1st rounders is baseless. Elliott makes this offense more dangerous week 1 and there is no denying that. His running style is perfect for the NFL.

Upside Pro Comparison: Arian Foster – UFA

2 – KENNETH DIXON – 5’10/215 – LOUISIANA TECH: 80

Accomplished career. If it weren’t for Navy QB Keenan Reynolds, Dixon would have left college as the all time leader in TDs in FBS. Dixon is the best two way threat among the RBs in this class. He is an elite receiver out of the backfield with hands that are better than most of the WRs in this class, no exaggeration. He can even be split out wide and run routes like an accomplished pro WR. Dixon has Marshall Faulk in him. He is a hard nosed game that understands game situations and it shows every game. He can lower his shoulder and gain tough yards with a quick approach to the line. He can bounce things outside and play games with defenders in space. He understands the nuances of blocking and finding the blitzers. Dixon is a guy that wont need to come off the field. What’s not to like? He may have a hard time holding up in the league? He saw a lot of touches over his 4 year career in which he started from the beginning. He also has average top end speed. I care more about quickness and change of direction than I do straight line speed, but I have seen him get caught from behind a few times. Dixon is a starting back in the league and if he can stay healthy, could be an all purpose yard machine.

Upside Pro Comparison: Marshall Faulk – RET

3 – PAUL PERKINS – 5’10/208 – UCLA: 79

Fourth year junior. Team’s leading rusher in the 2014 and 2015 seasons respectively despite battling a nagging knee injury this past fall. Perkins may not have the body or running style to be an every down back, but his ability to make something out of nothing cannot go overlooked. He has the rare, hard to find ability to completely change direction while moving at full speed at anytime. His top end speed and lack of size may limit his touches week in, week out however he is a prime candidate for a committee approach. If he can find an offense that needs someone to offset a between the tackles, chain moving bruiser, Perkins will excel. I have a higher grade on Perkins than what I see out there. He has the kind of talent that can change how an offense approaches thing, which ended up happening at UCLA after 2013. Perkins may not have the ideal situation here in NY because of Vereen’s presence, but NYG hasn’t had a back that can move in and out of traffic like this since the early days of Tiki Barber. He may not be the ideal every down guy, but he is a dangerous playmaker that defenses are afraid to see with the ball in space.

Upside Pro Comparison: Lesean McCoy – BUF

4 – ALEX COLLINS – 5’10/217 – ARKANSAS: 76

Third year junior. SEC Freshman of the Year and Freshman All American in 2013. Has rushed for 1,000+ yards all three seasons respectively of his career. Collins has the goods. He is an explosive downhill runner that approaches the line with anger and aggression. Collins is tough to bring down on initial contact but he also has elite level footwork and balance that allow him to adjust at the last second in traffic. He can make defenders miss but also has the option to run them over at any point. His off-field maturity issues appear to be behind him now and his speed in space is average. One thing I’ve noticed inmy secondary review of him is how exposed his legs are to tacklers. He has a tendency to run high and he has a weird body shape. Very thin lower body, especially beneath his knees. He may be a guy that has a hard time staying healthy in the NFL. While I know it may seem I am over-analyzing to a fault, it’s a legit concern for me. All this in mind, I still think Collins can be a starter with big time upside, I’m just not as sure of him as I once was.

5 – DANIEL LASCO – 6’0/209 – CALIFORNIA: 74

Fifth year senior. Battled an injury-riddled career but showed glimpses of being an effective, explosive inside runner. Lasco has an aggressive nature about him when running north/south. He has the ability to improve the physical side of an offense with his bruiser mentality and willingness to block pass rushers. Lasco has been battling lower body injuries over the past two years, mainly hip and ankle tweaks in 2015. If you watched him on the wrong week, you would have thought Lasco was a below-average back with average athletic ability. But make no mistake here, Lasco has elite explosion and open field speed. There are some backs that jump off the screen when it comes to their approach to the line. Lasco is one of those guys. He is a borderline reckless runner. He is the complete opposite of the back that you hate to watch tip toe to the line and show fear when approaching tacklers. Lasco is angry and aggressive with a developing skill set. The extras are that he blocks extremely well and he proved to be an effective special team defender.

Upside Pro Comparison – Donald Brown – NE

6 – DERRICK HENRY – 6’2/247 – ALABAMA: 74

Junior entry. 2015 Heisman Trophy, Doak Walker, and Maxwell Award winner respectively. Set the all time single season SEC rushing and TD records. Elite production after an elite High School career. Henry was a man among boys most weeks throughout his entire career. He has a rare size and speed combination. His foot speed while moving downhill and in to the open field is very good. He has the speed to make big plays and the power to move the chains throughout an entire game. His struggles come from overly long legs and maybe too much height. Defenders get a ton of big hits on his lower half and will likely fight nagging injuries throughout his whole career. His lateral quickness and ability to cut in and out of lanes is also very limited. That’s the thing that deters me from making him a 1st or 2nd rounder. Backs that can change direction always make me look in another direction. One could make the argument that Henry could be a part of an elite rotation for sure. He can be a 10-15 carry per game guy that will get more in weeks where a team needs to grind out the clock in the second half. I’m just not confident he will stay healthy and I think there are power backs that can be just as effective but can also do more with the ball in their hands laterally. He will be a role player at the next level but in a committee approach, he can be an important piece.

Upside Pro Comparison – Latavius Murray – OAK

7 – DEVONTAE BOOKER – 5’11/219 – UTAH: 74

Spent two years at Utah following a two year stint at American River Junior College. Booker played a part time role in his first three games for Utah, but quickly took over the offense and performed his way to two straight First Team All Pac 12 seasons. Booker is an every down threat with his ability to dominate between the tackles, catch the ball out of the backfield, and pick up pass rushers and at the very least get in their way. He lacks the star-caliber speed and agility and he won’t be a big time power back, but he has stating potential because he is very good at everything a back needs to be good at. There are issues with his ball security and toughness to break tackles, two things that are major parts of the grading process for me. The offensive system at Utah was set up for well for Booker as well, so I’m not sure this kid would have been that productive in every situation. He is a risk but one with big potential dividends.

Upside Pro Comparison – Lamar Miller – HOU

8 – DEANDRE WASHINGTON – 5’8/204 – TEXAS TECH: 73

Fifth year senior that tore his ACL in late November of 2011, forcing him to miss the 2012 season. Scat back type that can be a playmaker in the right role. Can be a dangerous third down back that will create a lot by himself in space. Team player that will run hard, block hard, and make things happen. Washington was one of my favorite players to watch this past season. He is all out, all the time. He’s the guy that you forget about his size when watching him. He won’t ever be a move-the-chains rusher or a guy that gets 15-20 carries per game, but his impact can be there weekly. Very quick and savvy. Tougher to bring down than you would think. Lacks star power but can fill a role for a team looking for an offset to a big power back.

Upside Pro Comparison – Giovani Bernard – CIN

9 – JONATHAN WILLIAMS – 5’11/220 – ARKANSAS: 73

Fourth year senior entry that missed his final season because of a foot injury. Williams was part of a lethal two back attack that ranked among the nation’s leaders in yards. His bruiser approach is best suited for north/south running. He can be a hard guy to bring down initially especially if he can learn how to run with a lower pad level. Once in the open field, Williams has shown the ability to make things happen on his own as well. He has an upside of being versatile rushing threat and pass blocker, but most likely of backup caliber. Don’t sleep on his potential to be THE guy in a backfield. If it weren’t for the injury, Williams could have easily been a top 5 guy on this list. I wouldn’t be surprised if a team took a flier on him much earlier in the draft than where I have him pegged.

Upside Pro Comparison – Marion Barber III – RET

10 – CJ PROSISE – 6’0/220 – NOTRE DAME: 73

Fourth year junior. Made the move to RB in 2015 after spending two years as a wide receiver and top special teams defender. Prosise has the triangle numbers and hustle-approach that coaches will want to work with. Just one year’s worth of carries will make him attractive as well considering he’ll have taken a much lesser beating than most college running backs. All in all, he lacks the vision, natural feel, and quick twitch of a difference maker. He is a developmental back that can excel as a special teams gunner early in his career while he tries to figure out the position. I don’t think we are looking at elite upside but there are tools here that NFL coaches like to work with.

Upside Pro Comparison – Rashad Jennings – NYG

11 – TRA CARSON – 5’11/227 – TEXAS A& M: 72

Fifth year senior. Started off at Oregon and was the Ducks’ fourth leading rusher in 2011. Transferred to the Aggies in 2012 and ended up as the team’s leading rusher in 2014 and 2015. Carson appears to be a short yardage specialist in the NFL. He runs behind his pads and can carry defenders downfield consistently. He is very consistent at breaking through initial contact with defenders and falling forward. You can call him one dimensional but I think with these rotations becoming a team by team thing almost, there is value with him. While he lacks dynamic speed and agility, he can carve himself a role somewhere.

Upside Pro Comparison – Joique Bell – DET

12 – JORDAN HOWARD – 6’0/230 – INDIANA: 72

Third year junior. Played 2013 and 2014 seasons at UAB prior to the program shutting down. Set the single season rushing record there in 2014 (1,587 yards). First Team All Big 10 in 2015 Howard appears to be a short yardage specialist when looking at his body type and ability to deliver blows to defenders. He has more breakaway ability than you think if he reaches the second and third level of the defense. His struggles revolve around initial contact with the ball if his running lane isn’t there. He takes too long to locate or anticipate running lanes. His power can be used in short yardage situations but when considering his running style in combination with a lack of receiving and blocking skills, his role in the NFL will be tough to create. For a guy this thick,, you would think he has a more physical side to him. I have heard some off-field concerns about him as well. Lacks the versatility and specialty of one aspect to the position. Guys like that are a risk but Howard is a guy that some people really like. High ceiling, low floor.

Upside Pro Comparison – Terrence West – BAL

13 – KENYAN DRAKE – 6’0/210 – ALABAMA: 72

Fourth year senior. A lot of hype surrounding this kid early on, as he’s always been a part of the RB rotation. Drake has been marred by injuries the past two years. When he’s on the field though, you are talking about elite level explosion and speed. He scares defenses every time he touches the ball. And we aren’t talking about a little guy here, he’s got some meat on those bones. If he can get the ball in space, he can outrun anyone. He won’t do much to create on his own though and he just doesn’t have the feel for finding lanes and creases. Dynamic threat but he is not a fit for every team.

Upside Pro Comparison – Reggie Bush – UFA

14 – KELVIN TAYLOR – 5’10/207 – FLORIDA: 70

Third year junior. Son of former NFL Running Back Fred Taylor, 16th on the all time NFL rushing list. Somewhat of a surprise early declaration here considering Taylor never quite had a breakout season. His tools are limited when looking at his triangle numbers and there isn’t anything that overly stands out about his game. He can be a productive runner in a zone scheme with his easy cut and go ability, but a lack of size and top end speed could make him disappear in to the pack of running backs in this class. The relation to his father is something scouts and GMs alike take very seriously. He is a feel-runner in that the anticipation and reactions make him play faster than he times. There is a shot his best football is way ahead of him.

Upside Pro Comparison – James White – NE

15 – PEYTON BARBER – 5’10/228 – AUBURN: 69

Third year sophomore entry that surprised many with his early declaration. There are family financial issues he is chasing after. Barber has an ideal running back body. He has a very thick lower half and understands how to win the leverage battle to take advantage of it. He shows jump cut ability and can really explode when moving downhill. He may be restricted to inside running in the league but he can be a very effective short yardage specialist.

Upside Pro Comparison – Alfred Morris – DAL

THE REST (16-25)

16 – JOSH FERGUSON – ILLINOIS – 5’9/198: 68
16 – DEVON JOHNSON – 6’0/238: 68
17 – TYLER ERVIN – 5’10/192 – SAN JOSE STATE: 68
28 – KEITH MARSHALL – 5’11/219 – GEORGIA: 66
19 – KEENAN REYNOLDS – 5’11/205 – NAVY: 68
20 – JORDAN CANZERI – 5’9/192 – IOWA: 67
21 – MARSHAUN COPRICH – 5’8/207 – ILLINOIS STATE: 66
22 – JHURREL PRESSLEY – 5’10/203 – NEW MEXICO: 66
23 – DWAYNE WASHINGTON – 6’2/226 – WASHINGTON: 66
24 – AARON GREEN – 5’11/202 – TCU: 63
25 – WENDELL SMALLWOOD – 5’10/208: 63

NYG APPROACH

To start off, I am in the camp that believes NYG needs a massive upgrade at RB. Just as I am against the general flow when it comes to LBs still being very important in the 4-3 defense, I believe a special talent in RB should not be passed on if you can grab one. This really is a one-back class. Ezekiel Elliott is the only one worth considering in the top 25-30 picks. With NYG sitting at #10, I think they need to at the very least consider him a strong option. The issue is, Reese has spent a draft pick and two straight years of free agency money on the position. Is he too proud to admit those assets simply aren’t enough and he needs to use another prime pick on the group? Or will he understand this may very well be his last shot and bringing in a day one starter and potential game-changer could literally save his job? Elliott is NFL-ready for all three downs. He is better than any NYG running back and I don’t care what Vereen did with the Patriots years ago, I don’t care what Jennings did late in the year, and I don’t care what Williams looked like during preseason. The decision whether or not to draft Elliott at #10 should have nothing to do with them. If you’re asking me, he is on a very short list of guys I am considering at that pick. After him, I think NYG can find a value after round 3 or 4. There are a lot of RBs graded very closely and some of them will slip. But then you are bringing in another “eh” back. There are some names in here with interesting upside (Lasco/Collins/Booker to name a few) that would be nice to have on the bottom of the depth chart. I understand “you can get good RBs late in the draft” but look around, there are a lot of VERY GOOD running backs taken in the 1st. And there are a lot of VERY GOOD players at other positions taken late in the draft. Going in with certain “rules” for specific positions will limit a team from getting to the next level.

Mar 292016
 
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Jake Coker, Alabama Crimson Tide (January 11, 2016)

Jake Coker – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Quarterbacks

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

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

WHERE THEY STAND

Eli Manning is signed through 2018, when he will be 38 years old. Fortunately the hire of former Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo to head coach will keep Manning in the same system. Arguably he looks more comfortable in this attack than any other scheme he’s played in since being with NYG. Backup Ryan Nassib hasn’t seen any legit time since being traded up for 2013. He is a free agent next year and some are expecting the league to be somewhat aggressive with him on the market.

TOP 10 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – JARED GOFF – 6’4/215 – California: 86

Third year junior. Two time team captain. Semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Quarterback Award in 2015. Has started all 38 possible games over his three year career. Goff has been re-writing the California record book since the day he stepped on campus. He checks off almost every box on the list when it comes ability, leadership, and off-field behavior. He has elite-level accuracy and touch in addition to consistent lower body mechanics and release points. Goff is as poised and as tough as it gets. His only main drawback a lack of bulk. He will need to gain weight and strength to ensure he can bounce back from the increasing physical nature of the game. There is a sense of smoothness, toughness, and patience here that is tough to find wrapped up in to one QB. While the frame concerns me like it did with Sam Bradford a few years ago, I think Goff will be able to handle the hits and stay on track. All in all, Goff will be one of the class’ elite prospects and very possibly the first quarterback taken.

Upside Pro Comparison: Aaron Rodgers – GB

2 – CARSON WENTZ – 6’5/237 – North Dakota State: 82

2 year starter at the FCS level. Missed 2 months in 2015 with a broken wrist. So we are talking about a guy with a lack of starting experience in general, and that experience being at a lower level of college football. There are a ton of pro-ready and attractive traits to his game, but he may be more developmental than most think. Wentz is a tremendous athlete. Tough kid. Takes over a room the second he walks in and has a passion for the game. Very clean off the field. Wentz plays almost too confident. He forces throws and lowers his shoulder when he probably shouldn’t. He may learn the hard way that his approach in the NFL will need to change. I think most people will like Wentz more because of what the end-upside is. I fear it a little because there is a lot more that needs to happen progression wise than Goff. Still a very good grade here but not as high as Goff.

Upside Pro Comparison: Ryan Tannehill – MIA

3 – DAK PRESCOTT – 6’2/226 – MISSISSIPPI STATE: 78

2 time All-SEC QB that turned the Mississippi State program essentially all by himself. Prescott has a running back build with a strong torso and overly thick legs. When the team needed tough yards between the tackle, he got them. When the team needed big plays downfield, he threw them. Prescott is much more than a running QB. Very quick release and puts all the zip one needs on the ball. He makes players around him better. Good student of the game with leadership qualities. Prescott’s main negatives revolve around footwork mechanics that ultimately lead to inconsistent accuracy. He misses really easy throws too often. He may have a hard time adjusting to NFL schemes as well, both as leader of the offense and reader of the defense. If he cleans that up he can be a quality starter. I’ve always seen some Donovan McNabb in him.

Upside Pro Comparison: Donovan McNabb – PHI

4 – PAXTON LYNCH – 6’7/244 – MEMPHIS: 75

Three year starter that surprised some when he declared a year early. He hadn’t exactly had a big time career but the tools are intriguing and borderline rare for the position. It’s hard to find QBs this big with this kind of athletic ability. Lynch had a stretch through the 2015 season where everyone was trying to label him a potential number one pick. I never saw it. He came down to earth late in the year with poor performances where the pressure got put on and he lost track of simple reads and mechanics. Negatives aside, Lynch is intriguing when you look at him as a developmental prospect. He can rifle the ball. He can run. He can break tackles and stand strong in the pocket. Lynch understands ball protection and has the proper blend of aggression and patience. I think he can be a quick thinker but there is more development and learning that needs to be done here than any other QB in this class. He is a guy that likely needs 2+ years on the bench. But there are tools here that none of these guys will ever have.

Upside Pro Comparison: Joe Flacco – BAL

5 – CHRISTIAN HACKENBURG – 6’4/223 – PENN STATE: 74

Third year junior. Started all 38 games of his career. Arrived to Penn State with huge expectations and hype but he never quite reached the level many were thinking he would. Hackbenberg checks off most of the initial boxes. Good height, weight, and speed. Tremendous work ethic. Great genetics. The mechanics and arm strength look elite during workouts. However his career was very underwhelming for a variety of reasons. He was sacked over 100 times in his three years, underwent a coaching change that did not suit his abilities, and lacked true star power around him. There are whispers that he is a “me” guy. He throws others under the bus when things go south, which you never want to hear. Hackenberg has the talent to succeed in the NFL and his learning curve won’t be as steep as some others. The questions with him revolve around confidence, leadership qualities, and a consistent approach. Three essentials of being an NFL QB.

Upside Pro Comparison – Mark Sanchez – DEN

6 – CODY KESSLER – 6’1/220 – USC: 74

Coming in to the year, I had Kessler near the top of my QB ratings. I kept seeing Drew Brees when watching him in 2014. He is consistently accurate all over the field. Short, medium, deep, left, right…he can put the ball where it needs to be. Very controlled passer. One of the few prospects that came from a pro style offense. Has patience and assertion. Very protective of the ball. In his 3 years as the starter, he threw 88 TDs and 19 INTs. Kessler has a feel in the pocket that is hard to find. His lack of height doesn’t appear to be the issue that some make it out to be. He naturally moves in and out of pockets to find his throwing lanes. Very smart kid, too. I watched a lot of Kessler in 2015 and had to keep my bias aside. I just didn’t see the difference maker in him this year. He was bailed out by some big time plays from his supporting cast. He wasn’t making things happen the way I want a college prospect to. Personally I would love to draft this kid and feel good about my backup, but I’m not sure I would draft him expecting starter upside.

Upside Pro Comparison – Brian Hoyer – HOU

7 – JAKE COKER – 6’5/236 – ALABAMA: 71

Started off at Florida State, sitting behind EJ Manuel and Jameis Winston, both 1st round picks. In his one year as starter for the Crimson Tide, he steadily improved as thr weeks went by and won the National Championship. If there is one late round QB that I think comes out of nowhere and ends up a top 10 NFL QB, it’s Coker. I think there is still a good amount of the unknown with him. Really good deep ball thrower. Really good size and room for more bulk. Tough and smart. He looked nervous and uneasy during the beginning of the season but he has a different look about himself towards the end of the year when the pressure was really on. If Coker had another year of eligibility, I think he’d be in contention for 1st round talk in 2017. He isn’t overly impressive when it comes to arm strength and athletic ability. He may never be a dominant guy but NYG fans, I see some Manning in him.

Upside Pro Comparison: Eli Manning – NYG

8 – CONNOR COOK – 6’4/217 – MICHIGAN STATE: 70

Big 10 QB of the Year in 2015. Three year starter that set several school records. Came in to 2015 as a candidate for being the top QB of the class. If you watch the right tape, you can certainly see why. Cook has a smooth, quick release with plenty of zip Easy flick of the wrist and he can send the ball 50 yards downfield. Protected the ball very well throughout his whole career. Pure pocket passer with good feel in and out of pressure. Cook had a somewhat rough season though, and each time I watched him there were a few things missing. I question his toughness. I question his ability to process information with the blitz bearing down on him. He wasn’t voted team captain and honestly, that is a big deal to me. The QB is almost always a team captain. What gives there? I don’t have all the necessary information with him to fully evaluate who he is off the field but I’ve always hated how he carried himself on the sidelines. You can piece together a few things and come up with the assumption he probably isn’t the guy you want playing the most important and influential position on the field. Talented? Yes. But not enough so to look past the other stuff.

Upside Pro Comparison – Nick Foles – LA

9 – BRANDON ALLEN – 6’1/217 – ARKANSAS: 69

Three year starter. Was an after thought in the scouting community until 2015. He kept getting better and better against some really tough situations. Allen is as tough as they come. A pure gamer. He got the most out of himself and the players around him. Very smart and aware. Plays fast and will hit his target more often than not. Allen has less than ideal size, strength, and athletic ability. Some wonder if his performance was a direct result of no pressure being put on him. He had a very solid offensive line and a running game that opponents were constantly focusing on. That could very well be the case. I wouldn’t mind having a guy like Allen back my QB up though. You know he is going to be ready if his number is called and he won’t back away from the challenge. You can’t say that about everyone. Allen probably doesn’t have starter upside but that doesn’t mean he can’t be drafted.

Upside Pro Comparison – Ryan Fitzpatrick – NYJ

10 – JEFF DRISKEL – 6’4/234 – LOUISIANA TECH

You can look at Driskel one of two ways. Classic overhyped high school recruit that failed to use his tools to mold himself in to a quality football player or a guy that just got the raw end of the deal at Florida. I go back and forth with him. Driskel has an impressive physical package. He’s big, strong, and fast. He is a power player one drive and a finesse guy on the next. I think he can wear several hats. The broken leg and unstable coaching staff at Florida really hurt his chances at progressing there. Playing for Louisiana Tech may have been the best thing that ever happened to him. I know guys that think he is a top 5 QB in this class. He does have the upside to be called that. His issues revolve around touch and accuracy. He struggles to complete the tough throws. He is often a step behind or in front of his target, both physically and mentally. I think he is a guy worth trying to develop. He has talent that some guys on this list will never have.

Upside Pro Comparison – Blake Bortles – JAC

BEST OF THE REST (11-15)

11 – CARDALE JONES – 6’5/253 – OHIO STATE: 69
12 – JACOBY BRISSETT – 6’4/231 – NC STATE: 66
13 – JOEL STAVE – 6’5/236 – WISCONSIN: 65
14 – NATE SUDFELD – 6’6/234 – INDIANA – 64
15 – VERNON ADAMS – 5’11/200 – OREGON – 63

NYG APPROACH

The next NYG draft pick QB is coming. Maybe not this year but if not, it will be in 2017. Ryan Nassib hasn’t seen the field, obviously a good thing., but after what will be 4 seasons in the league and demand for his services, I expect him to be playing elsewhere next year. I am always a supporter of the notion that Manning needs a very capable backup. Not because he has an injury tendency, but because he is approaching his upper 30s and this team needs to be ready for when he’s done and/or when he gets hurt. Not having a quality backup has ruined so many teams with otherwise solid rosters. The draft is the best way to do it for financial reasoning. There is chatter among some that they will use a top 100 pick on one if the value presents itself. I don’t think so. If Nassib is gone at this time next year, I could see it being the case. But as long as he is here, NYG will only consider the position late if a value drops. I think the team will like Coker and Driskel.

Mar 182016
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (October 4, 2015)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

According to Spotrac.com, the New York Giants currently have approximately $24.67 million in salary cap space with 64 players currently under contract. Only the top 51 player salaries for a team count against the salary cap in the offseason.

Overview of the New York Giants salary cap situation:

  • 2016 NFL Salary Cap: $155,270,000
  • 2015 Rollover Cap: $11,193,231
  • Adjustment: $856,928
  • New York Giants Adjusted Salary Cap: $167,320,159
  • All Contracts: $138,869,076
  • Top 51 Contracts: $132,944,076
  • Draft Pool: $5,938,031
  • Dead Money: $9,705,632
  • Total (All): $148,574,708
  • Total (Top 51 Contracts): $142,649,708
  • Cap Space (All): $18,745,451
  • Cap Space (Top 51 plus Draft Pool): $18,732,420
  • Cap Space (Top 51 Contracts): $24,670,451

The top five sources of the dead money are:

  • Offensive Tackle Will Beatty ($5,000,000)
  • Offensive Guard Geoff Schwartz ($1,916,667)
  • Linebacker Jon Beason ($1,466,668)
  • Punter Steve Weatherford ($875,000)
  • Defensive End Damontre Moore ($143,813)

The top-10 players currently counting the most against the team’s 2016 salary cap are:

  1. Quarterback Eli Manning ($24,200,000)
  2. Defensive End Olivier Vernon ($13,000,000)
  3. Defensive End Jason Pierre-Paul ($9,400,000)
  4. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie ($8,000,000)
  5. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins ($8,000,000)
  6. Defensive Tackle Damon Harrison ($6,600,000)
  7. Running Back Shane Vereen ($4,916,667)
  8. Wide Receiver Victor Cruz ($4,700,000)
  9. Linebacker J.T. Thomas ($4,000,000)
  10. Wide Receiver/Returner Dwayne Harris ($3,800,000)

The following Giants are currently not under contract and unrestricted free agents:

  • WR Rueben Randle
  • WR Hakeem Nicks
  • TE Daniel Fells
  • OC Dallas Reynolds
  • OG Brandon Mosley
  • DE George Selvie
  • DT Cullen Jenkins
  • DT Markus Kuhn
  • DT Barry Cofield
  • LB Jasper Brinkley
  • CB Jayron Hosley
  • CB Trumaine McBride
  • S Craig Dahl
  • S Brandon Meriweather
  • LS Danny Aiken
  • PK Josh Brown

The following Giants have been tendered as exclusive rights or restricted free agents:

  • RB Orleans Darkwa (exclusive rights free agent)
  • WR Myles White (exclusive rights free agent)
  • TE Larry Donnell (restricted free agent)
  • TE Will Tye (exclusive rights free agent)
  • TE Jerome Cunningham (exclusive rights free agent)
  • OG Adam Gettis (exclusive rights free agent)
  • P Brad Wing (exclusive rights free agent)
Feb 172016
 
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Steve Spagnuolo and Jonathan Casillas, New York Giants (November 1, 2015)

Steve Spagnuolo and Jonathan Casillas – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Now that the dust has settled and the New York Giants have officially announced the make-up of Ben McAdoo’s coaching staff, let’s take a closer look at its composition.

Overall, not counting the head coach, there are 20 coaching positions. Eight of the 20 coaches are new to the organization. All three coordinators are holdovers from the Tom Coughlin era, with Mike Sullivan being promoted to offensive coordinator.

Offensive Coaching Staff (8 Coaches)

There are three offensive coaches new to the organization: Quarterbacks Coach Frank Cignetti, Jr., Wide Receivers Coach Adam Henry, and Offensive Line Coach Mike Solari. The holdovers are Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan (brought to the Giants by Tom Coughlin in 2004 and again in 2015), Running Backs Coach Craig Johnson (came aboard with McAdoo in 2014), Tight Ends Coach Kevin M. Gilbride (hired in 2010 and son of former offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride), Assistant Offensive Line Coach Lunda Wells (hired in 2012), and Offensive Assistant Ryan Roeder (hired in 2013).

McAdoo pursued former Miami Dolphins Head Coach and Green Bay Packers Offensive Coordinator Joe Philbin as an assistant head coach, but Philbin accepted the same position with the Indianapolis Colts instead. Philbin was McAdoo’s boss in Green Bay for five years. He probably would have served as a crutch for McAdoo if had come to New York.

It is interesting to note that five of the eight offensive coaches have experience as offensive coordinators with other teams, including Sullivan (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Cignetti (St. Louis Rams, Rutgers University, University of Pittsburgh, University of California, University of North Carolina, Fresno State, Indiana University of Pennsylvania), Johnson (University of Maryland and Virginia Military Institute), Henry (McNeese State University), and Solari (Kansas City Chiefs and University of Pittsburgh).

Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan: With McAdoo being promoted to head coach, the offensive coordinator position became vacant. To fill it, the 49-year old Sullivan was promoted to offensive coordinator. It remains to be seen how much influence Sullivan really will have. Other than 2015, Sullivan’s background is not based on the West Coast offensive system. And McAdoo has not yet publicly announced who will even call the plays. Sullivan was highly respected by Coughlin, but his two years in Tampa as offensive coordinator did not go well. With the Giants, Sullivan has coached wide receivers (2004-2009) and quarterbacks (2010-2011, 2015).

Quarterbacks Coach Frank Cignetti, Jr.: The 50-year old Cignetti is a well-travelled coach with a ton of experience as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He has never really worked with a quarterback the quality of Eli Manning. He replaces Sullivan, who was promoted to offensive coordinator.

Running Backs Coach Craig Johnson: The 55-year old Johnson arrived with McAdoo in 2014. Assuming McAdoo had some sort of influence in Johnson’s hiring, it is not surprising that that McAdoo retained him. Most of Johnson’s experience is actually coaching quarterbacks. He also served as assistant head coach of the Titans for one season.

Wide Receivers Coach Adam Henry: Odell Beckham, Jr. is extremely tight with the 43-year old Henry, who coached OBJ at LSU. At the pro level, Henry coached the 49ers’ wide receivers in 2015 and the Raiders’ tight ends in 2009-2011. He replaces Sean Ryan, who the Giants decided not to retain.

Tight Ends Coach Kevin M. Gilbride: The 36-year old Gilbride is now the longest-tenured Giants’ offensive coach, having arrived in 2010. When Gilbride was hired, fans feared it was pure nepotism on the part of the team given the fact that his father was the offensive coordinator at the time. Gilbride’s work as wide receivers coach in 2012-2013 was nondescript and he was re-assigned as the tight ends coach in 2014. Under his tutelage, Larry Donnell and Will Tye developed from no-name, small-school rookie free agents to viable pro targets.

Offensive Line Coach Mike Solari: The 61-year old Solari is the oldest coach on the team. He is considered one of the best offensive line coaches in the game, having coached very solid lines in Kansas City and San Francisco. Solari spent last season with Mike McCarthy in Green Bay, so he also now has a better understanding of the West Coast system. Solari replaces Pat Flaherty, whom the team chose not to retain.

Assistant Offensive Line Coach Lunda Wells: Interestingly, rather than bring in two new offensive line coaches, the Giants decided to part ways with Pat Flaherty and retain the popular Lunda Wells. The 33-year old Wells joined the Giants in 2012 and became the assistant offensive line coach in 2013 when Matt Rhule left to become Temple University’s head coach. Before coming to the Giants, Wells did assistant coaching work at LSU.

Offensive Assistant Ryan Roeder: The 36-year old Roeder came to the Giants in 2013 after serving as the tight ends coach at Princeton University for three seasons.

Defensive Coaching Staff (7 Coaches)

There are three defensive coaches new to the organization: Defensive Line Coach Patrick Graham, Assistant Defensive Line Coach Jeff Zgonina, and Linebackers Coach Bill McGovern. The holdovers are Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo (brought to the Giants by Tom Coughlin in 2007 and again in 2015), Cornerbacks Coach Tim Walton (came aboard with Spagnuolo in 2015), Safeties Coach David Merritt (the only coach remaining who came to the Giants with Tom Coughlin in 2004), and Defensive Assistant Rob Leonard (hired in 2013). In a nutshell, at the position coach level, the Giants decided to part ways with their front seven defensive coaches and keep their secondary coaches.

The big story here is the retention of Steve Spagnuolo despite the Giants not only finishing dead last in defense, but having the third-worst defense in NFL history. Alarmingly, Spagnuolo’s defense in New Orleans in 2012 was also the worst in NFL history. Since Spagnuolo is reportedly admired by ownership and was interviewed for the team’s head coaching position, one wonders if McAdoo had full autonomy to decide his fate.

Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo: It’s been eight years since the 56-year old Spagnuolo coached a decent defense as defensive coordinator. Since then, two of his defenses have ended up being the worst in NFL history. Spagnuolo has to prove that he can oversee even a competent defense without an all-star defensive line. Spagnuolo has NFL experience as a linebackers and defensive backs position coach, mainly with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was also head coach of the St. Louis Rams (2009-2011) and assistant head coach of the Baltimore Ravens (2014).

Defensive Line Coach Patrick Graham: The 37-year old Graham was highly respected and popular in New England. He has served as both defensive line coach (2012-2013) and linebackers coach (2011, 2014-2015) under Bill Belichick. Graham replaces Robert Nunn, whom the team chose not to retain.

Assistant Defensive Line Coach Jeff Zgonina: The assistant defensive line coach position is a new position on the Giants. The 45-year old Zgonina has only one year of coaching experience, but he played an astounding 17 years in the NFL as a tough, blue-collar, overachieving defensive tackle for seven teams.

Linebackers Coach Bill McGovern: The Giants passed on Mike Singletary to hire the 53-year old McGovern. McGovern coached linebackers at Boston College for 13 years before serving as the Philadelphia Eagles’ outside linebackers coach for three seasons. He replaces Jim Herrmann, whom the team chose not to retain.

Cornerbacks Coach Tim Walton: The 44-year old Walton came aboard with Steve Spagnuolo in 2015 so it isn’t a surprise that he was retained. Walton has experience as a defensive coordinator with the University of Miami, University of Memphis, and St. Louis Rams. He was the defensive backs coach for the Detroit Lions for four years (2009-2012).

Safeties Coach David Merritt: The 44-year old Merritt has been with the Giants now longer than any other coach, having arrived with Tom Coughlin in 2004. Since 2006, he has coached the team’s safeties and worked with Steve Spagnuolo on the Giants in 2007-2008 and 2015.

Defensive Assistant Rob Leonard: The 30-year old Leonard joined the Giants’ staff in 2013. Before that, he only did graduate assistant coaching work at North Carolina State University.

Special Teams Coaching Staff (2 Coaches)

No major change here given the fact that Tom Quinn will remain the team’s special teams coordinator, a position he took over in 2007. Larry Izzo, who had been the assistant special teams coach, departed as he received a promotion from the Houston Texans as their new special teams coordinator.

Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn: The much-maligned, 48-year old Quinn had arguably his best season as special teams coordinator in 2015. That said, special teams play was a factor in four losses (Saints, Patriots, Jets, Panthers). Like with Spagnuolo, one wonders if McAdoo had full autonomy to retain or dismiss Quinn.

Assistant Special Teams Coach Dwayne Stukes: The Giants probably preferred to keep Izzo. But with his departure, a vacancy had to be filled. The 39-year old Stukes has special teams coaching experience with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears.

Strength and Conditioning Coaching Staff (3 Coaches)

The major change here was at the top. After six consecutive injury-plagued seasons in a row, the team replaced Jerry Palmieri with Aaron Wellman. Palmieri had been with the Giants since 2004.

Strength and Conditioning Coach Aaron Wellman: The 41-year old Wellman has never coached at the pro level. But he is well-respected in the business and on top of the latest trends in sports training. He has worked at the university level at Indiana, Michigan State, Ball State, San Diego State, Michigan, and Notre Dame.

Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach Markus Paul: The 49-year old Paul has been with the Giants since 2007 after having spent time with the Saints (1998-1999), Patriots (2000-2004), and Jets (2005-2006).

Performance Manager Joe Danos: The 35-year old Danos has been with the Giants since 2013. Before coming to the team, he spent time at the college level at LSU, SMU, and Florida State.

Overall, McAdoo decided to part ways with five coaches: Sean Ryan (wide receivers), Pat Flaherty (offensive line), Robert Nunn (defensive line), Jim Herrmann (linebackers), and Jerry Palmieri (strength and conditioning). The vacancies filled by the three other new guys were created by Mike Sullivan’s promotion, Larry Izzo receiving a promotion from the Texans, and the new assistant defensive line coaching position. Replacing the wide receivers, offensive line, defensive line, and linebackers coaches is no small move. But all three coordinators are holdovers from Coughlin’s staff plus the running backs, tight ends, cornerbacks, and safeties coaches.

Feb 152016
 
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Jerry Reese, New York Giants (February 21, 2015)

Jerry Reese – © USA TODAY Sports Images

According to Spotrac.com, the New York Giants currently have approximately $58 million in salary cap space with 50 players currently under contract. Only the top 51 player salaries for a team count against the salary cap in the offseason.

Overview of the New York Giants salary cap situation:

  • 2016 NFL Salary Cap: $154,000,000
  • 2015 Rollover Cap: $11,193,230
  • New York Giants Adjusted Salary Cap: $165,193,230
  • Top 51 Contracts: $97,410,576
  • Dead Money: $9,708,966
  • Total (with Top 51 Contracts): $107,119,542
  • Cap Space (with Top 51 Contracts): $58,073,688

The top five sources of the dead money are:

  • Offensive Tackle Will Beatty ($5,000,000)
  • Offensive Guard Geoff Schwartz ($1,916,667)
  • Linebacker Jon Beason ($1,466,668)
  • Punter Steve Weatherford ($875,000)
  • Defensive End Damontre Moore ($143,813)

The top-10 players currently counting the most against the team’s 2016 salary cap are:

  1. Quarterback Eli Manning ($24,200,000)
  2. Wide Receiver Victor Cruz ($9,900,000)
  3. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie ($8,000,000)
  4. Running Back Shane Vereen ($4,916,667)
  5. Linebacker J.T. Thomas ($4,000,000)
  6. Wide Receiver/Returner Dwayne Harris ($3,800,000)
  7. Offensive Tackle Ereck Flowers ($3,270,845)
  8. Linebacker Jonathan Casillas ($3,166,666)
  9. Wide Receiver Odell Beckham ($2,838,054)
  10. Running Back Rashad Jennings ($2,812,500)

The following Giants are currently not under contract and scheduled to be unrestricted free agents:

  • WR Rueben Randle
  • WR Hakeem Nicks
  • TE Daniel Fells
  • OC Dallas Reynolds
  • OG Brandon Mosley
  • DE Jason Pierre-Paul
  • DE Robert Ayers
  • DE George Selvie
  • DT Cullen Jenkins
  • DT Markus Kuhn
  • DT Barry Cofield
  • LB Jasper Brinkley
  • CB Prince Amukamara
  • CB Jayron Hosley
  • CB Trumaine McBride
  • S Craig Dahl
  • S Brandon Meriweather
  • LS Zak DeOssie
  • LS Danny Aiken
  • PK Josh Brown

The following Giants are not under contract and currently scheduled to be exclusive rights or restricted free agents:

  • RB Orleans Darkwa
  • WR Myles White
  • WR Marcus Harris
  • TE Larry Donnell (restricted free agent)
  • TE Will Tye
  • TE Jerome Cunningham
  • OG Adam Gettis
  • S Bennett Jackson
  • P Brad Wing