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
Jan 262016
 
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Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning, New York Giants (January 3, 2016)

Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Philadelphia Eagles 35 – New York Giants 30

Overview

My apologies for this game review being three weeks late. But better late than never and now that we unofficially know that the Giants’ offensive, defensive, and special teams systems will remain in place in 2016, what transpired against the Philadelphia Eagles on January 3, 2016 does have more meaning.

The regular-season finale was a crappy end to one of the team’s crappiest seasons in its history. Let’s painfully – but briefly – rehash what transpired:

Will Beatty tears his pectoral muscle in May and never returns, causing a domino effect on the offensive line at tackle. Jason Pierre-Paul permanently disfigures himself on July 4th, misses half the season, and returns to play one-handed football. Giants safeties start dropping like flies before the season even starts. Victor Cruz’s “the return” never happens. Jon Beason breaks himself again. The Giants also lose Johnathan Hankins, Owa Odighizuwa, Devon Kennard, Prince Amukamara, Geoff Schwartz, Larry Donnell, and Daniel Fells for much of the season.

For the most part, the Giants play competitive football in 2015, but keep painfully losing in the final seconds due to questionable decisions, red zone ineptitude, bad defense, and untimely special teams mistakes. The Giants lost the opener in Dallas with a red zone meltdown combined with allowing Tony Romo to drive the length of the field in the final seconds. A red zone turnover against the Falcons and another defensive collapse left the Giants at 0-2. The Giants rebound with a three-game winning streak before being blown out by the Eagles. Dwayne Harris haunts his former team as the Giants defeat the Cowboys at home. Eli Manning throws six touchdown passes against the Saints but the Giants still lose.

Nevertheless, the Giants beat the Buccaneers to improve their record to 5-4. They are in first place in the terrible NFC East with seven games left to play. The 2-6 Cowboys and 4-4 Eagles are wounded and fading. The Redskins are 3-5. Even with the Patriots looming next, with Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning, and Odell Beckham, the Giants are the favorites to win the NFC East.

But in a far-too-common occurrence during the Tom Coughlin era, the Giants collapse in the second half of the season. They only win one of their last seven games. The Giants have the Patriots on the ropes but Beckham and Landon Collins can’t hold onto the football. With the division on the line, the Giants fail to show up in Washington. Coughlin’s eschews a late field goal against the Jets who win in overtime as Josh Brown misses a game-tying field goal. A heroic comeback against the Panthers falls short as the defense collapses late again. New York gets destroyed in the Minnesota cold.

Which brings us to Week 17. Both the Giants and Eagles are 6-9. In their last seven games, the Eagles have lost five contests and been badly beaten by the Buccaneers (45-17), Lions (45-14), and Cardinals (40-17). The Eagles are 15th in offense and 30th in defense. Chip Kelly is fired before the finale. On the other hand, it is widely speculated both inside and outside of the locker room that this will be Tom Coughlin’s last game as head coach of the Giants. There is talk about sending him out on a high note with an inspired effort against a team that has owned the Giants the last eight years.

Instead an Eagles team with nothing to play for soundly beat the Giants 35-30. Coughlin is left with one last sour memory as the Eagles have now beaten the Giants 13 times in the last 16 match-ups. Once again, bad defense and red zone inefficiency lead to defeat.

As the third Giants’ head coach to win two NFL Championships, Tom Coughlin is undeniably one of the top three coaches in franchise history. But in the end, he was done in by his inability to defeat his divisional rivals in recent years. In addition to the Eagles dominance over the Giants, the Cowboys have defeated the Giants six out of the last eight games. And although the Giants had fared much better against the Redskins, the Giants came up woefully short in both 2012 and 2015 against Washington with the division on the line.

Giants on Offense

The Giants accrued 30 points, 30 first downs, and 502 total net yards (208 rushing and 294 passing) against the Eagles. New York had 81 offensive snaps to Philadelphia’s 65. The Giants won the time of possession battle 31:54 to 28:06 and were 7-of-15 (47 percent on third down). With numbers like that, you would expect a victory. But the team’s defense was again poor. And offensively, the Giants were only 2-of-5 (40 percent) in the red zone. The biggest error of the game came late in the 3rd quarter. With the Giants up 27-21 and driving at the Eagles’ 14-yard line, Eli Manning was sacked. The ball was knocked out of his hands and returned 83 yards for a touchdown. It was at least a 10-point swing in the game, and possibly a 14- or 15-point swing.

After punting on their opening possession, the Giants scored on each of their four remaining drives of the first half with two field goals and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, the first field goal drive stalled after the Giants faced a 1st-and-goal from the 5-yard line. The second stalled after facing a 2nd-and-5 from the Eagles’ 7-yard line. The second half was not as kind as the Giants scored twice (touchdown and field goal), punted twice, had the fumble returned for a touchdown, and ended the game with a turnover on downs. There was one head-scratching call (or audible) on 3rd-and-10 in the 3rd quarter when a draw play was called.

Quarterback

Eli Manning had a solid day, completing 24-of-43 passes (56 percent) for 302 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions. His fumble that was returned for a touchdown was probably the difference in the game but that play was more on Ereck Flowers than him. Manning did miss a wide open Myles White in the end zone on the second drive that ended with a field goal. He also missed a wide open Odell Beckham in the 4th quarter on an errant throw and threw into double coverage a few plays later on a deep pass intended for Randle.

Running Backs

Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams, and Shane Vereen had the type of day that the Giants dreamed they would have on a regular basis in 2015. Jennings carried the ball 27 times for an inspiring 170 yards (6.3 yards per carry) and a touchdown. Williams chipped in with 26 yards on five carries (5.2 yards per carry) and Vereen 12 yards on four carries (3.0 yards per carry). Vereen also caught 6-of-8 passes thrown in his direction for 72 yards (12.0 yard average). He was a big factor on the team’s second TD drive when he ran for four yards on 3rd-and-2 and then caught three passes for 41 yards on three consecutive plays. But obviously the story was Jennings who ran with toughness and purpose. Remarkably, half his 863 yards on the season came in the last four games.

Wide Receivers

Aside from one big touchdown play to Rueben Randle, the wide receivers were surprisingly quiet against a secondary that they should have destroyed. One game after his NFL suspension, Odell Beckham was held to 5-of-7 passes thrown in his direction for just 54 yards. He was also flagged with a false start. Randle caught a 45-yard touchdown pass but was held to three receptions on his other six targets for just 34 yards. He lazily couldn’t come down with a 3rd-and-7 pass on the opening drive. Hakeem Nicks caught just 2-of-4 targets for 24 yards and Myles White did not have a catch despite three passes thrown in his direction. Nicks had a chance to be a hero late in the game but dropped a deep pass from Manning on the last desperate drive.

Tight Ends

Will Tye finished his surprising year on a strong note with five catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. Tye’s run blocking is noticeably improving as well, though he did miss one block that led to a 2-yard loss.

Offensive Line

From left to right, the offensive line was Ereck Flowers, Dallas Reynolds, Weston Richburg, John Jerry, and Justin Pugh. Adam Gettis also saw some time at left guard. The good news was the 208 yards rushing. And the line looked sharp on a number of pulling efforts, especially by Pugh and Reynolds. Richburg also stood out with his effort to make an initial block, then come off his man and engage a second defender. The bad news was that pass protection was shaky at times. Eli Manning was only officially hit four times, but two of those were sacks. The line had pass protection issues on the first drive as Flowers and Reynolds gave up back-to-back pass pressures. Then Jerry was flagged for holding on a play where Manning was pressured. Early in the 2nd quarter, on 3rd-and-7, Flowers gave up the first sack when he was beat by an outside rush and Reynolds blocked his man into Flowers. Of course, the decisive play of the game was the gimpy Flowers being beat for a sack-forced fumble that resulted in at least a 10-point swing. The line did a poor job of protecting Manning on the last desperate drive as both tackles and Reynolds gave up pressure.

Giants on Defense

The NFL’s 32nd-ranked defense played terribly. The Eagles scored three offensive touchdowns on their five first-half possessions as they easily drove 80 yards in five plays, 85 yards in six plays, and 80 yards in 16 plays. While the Giants did force two punts and caused a fumble in the second half, the defense also allowed a 13-play, 91-yard touchdown drive that for all intents and purposes put the game away. The Giants made the inconsistent Sam Bradford look like an all-star as he completed 30-of-38 passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Zach Ertz caught all nine passes thrown in his direction for an astounding 152 yards receiving (16.9 yards per catch). Wide receiver Jordan Matthews caught two touchdown passes. Running backs DeMarco Murray and Darren Sproles carried the ball 15 times for 93 yards (6.2 yards per carry) and two touchdowns.

Most damning of all? The Giants’ “defense” (and I use that term loosely) allowed the Eagles to convert 10-of-13 third down opportunities, a 77 percent success rate that was the highest by a Giants’ opponent since 1970.

What’s worrisome moving forward is how uninspired and confused Steve Spagnuolo’s defenders looked. Are there talent issues? You bet. But the players on the field didn’t appear to play with much effort and there were too many easy plays for the Eagles simply because defenders were out of position. For example, there was one 3rd-and-1 play where the Eagles had two wideouts split to the left with only one defensive back in the picture. It was an easy uncontested pitch-and-catch for a first down. The defense also came up small again at the end of a game, allowing the Eagles to pick up two first downs, 37 yards, and run almost three minutes off of the clock after the Giants had cut the score to 35-30 with 4:30 left to play.

Defensive Line

The starters up front were Jason Pierre-Paul at left end, Cullen Jenkins at left tackle, Jay Bromley at right tackle, and Robert Ayers at right end. Ayers played a strong game with 7 tackles, 1 sack, 3 tackles for a loss, and 2 quarterback hits. Sadly, no other Giant officially hit Sam Bradford. Pierre-Paul had six tackles and two pass defenses, Bromley five tackles, and Jenkins three tackles. As reserves, George Selvie chipped in with two tackles and a fumble recovery. He was flagged with a neutral zone infraction. Montori Hughes had two tackles and one tackle for a loss, but was easily blocked on Murray’s 54-yard TD run. Hughes did flash on a few occasions with his hustle in run defense. Pierre-Paul was successfully blocked on Darren Sproles’ 6-yard touchdown run as Sproles ran around him. JPP did bat a pass up into the air that was intercepted by Jonathan Casillas, setting up the Giants’ first touchdown drive on a short field. Jenkins was easily blocked on a 3rd-and-5 draw play that picked up a first down on the Eagles’ third touchdown drive of the first half.

Linebackers

The Giants started in the nickel with Jasper Brinkley and Jonathan Casillas starting at linebacker. Brinkley finished the game with 9 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, and 1 forced fumble. Casillas had 7 tackles and 1 interception. Others spotted in the game included Mark Herzlich (1 tackle) and Nico Johnson (0 tackles). The Giants linebackers looked slow, unathletic, and lethargic in coverage. The Eagles’ game plan was obvious and successful. Alternate throws to the middle of the field with short passes to the outside perimeter. Force the linebackers and safeties to run to the ball and make plays. Let this one astounding fact sink in: Bradford was 21-of-23 for 243 yards throwing to the tight ends and running backs!!!

Casillas was slow to react to receivers out of the backfield and to fill the gap on Murray’s 54-yard touchdown run. Johnson got faked on a misdirection boot to his side. Later, Zack Ertz (who caught all nine passes in his direction for 152 yards) was left all alone on a 60-yard gain. Casillas did not run with Ertz and there seemed to be confusion between defensive backs Landon Collins and Prince Amukamara on the play when the tight ends crossed. Brinkley couldn’t stay with Ertz on a 19-yard completion on 2nd-and-11 down to the Giants’ 3-yard line. Brinkley did make a number of nice plays in the 3rd quarter, including the forced fumble, an aggressive tackle in the hole against the RB, and then a sure tackle after a short pass. Casillas was beat by TE Brent Celek for 24 yards on 3rd-and-5 on the Eagles’ last touchdown drive. Both Casillas and Brinkley looked awful in coverage on this drive, including Brinkley embarrassingly whiffing on an open-field tackle attempt that set up the Eagles at the Giants’ 3-yard line.

Defensive Backs

The Giants started the game with Landon Collins and the recently re-signed and gimpy Brandon Meriweather at safety, Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie outside at cornerback, and Trevin Wade playing nickel corner. Trumaine McBride was forced to play safety after Meriweather injured his knee. The only defensive back with a pass breakup was Wade with just one.

The safeties were just dreadful in coverage as indicated by the receiving productivity of the tight ends. In addition, Meriweather was caught flat-footed on Murray’s 54-yard TD run. He also made a pathetic, flailing effort to tackle Ertz on his 60-yard catch-and-run. Collins looked lost out there at times. He got blocked and couldn’t make a play on Sproles’ 6-yard TD run. He later badly missed a tackle on Ertz too. On the Eagles’ third touchdown drive, on 3rd-and-10, Collins was cleanly picked off of Ertz, resulting in an easy first down. Collins was beat again by Ertz for 21 yards in the 3rd quarter. He gave up two more catches to Ertz late in the 4th quarter when the Eagles were running out the clock.

Wade got beat deep on 3rd-and-3 by Jordan Matthews who thankfully dropped a perfect pass, leading to the Eagles only punt of the first half. Only two Eagles’ wide receivers caught passes and only one caught more than two passes. The wideouts were limited to a combined 11 catches for 77 yards. But Matthews caught two touchdowns. One of those was also against Wade, who struggled at times with Matthews out of the slot. He did knock away one pass intended for Matthews on one of the Giants only three third down stops. Jayron Hosley was beaten easily by Matthews for his second touchdown on 1st-and-goal from the 3-yard line. Rodgers-Cromartie and Amukamara were never really tested.

Giants on Special Teams

Josh Brown finished a strong season 3-of-3 on his field goal kicks, including a 48 yarder. Five of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. The other two kickoff returns went for only 24 yards combined. Brad Wing punted three times with all three punts downed inside the 20-yard line, including at the 2-, 3- and 9-yard lines. None were returned. All six Eagles kickoffs resulted in touchbacks with no returns. The only punt returned was by Odell Beckham for five yards.

(Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants, January 3, 2016)
Jan 112016
 
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A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama Crimson Tide (December 31, 2015)

A’Shawn Robinson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2016 NFL Draft Prospects: January 11, 2016 National Championship

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

ALABAMA

*#2 RB Derrick Henry – 6’3/242

Third year junior. Heisman winner. Old school bruiser that would have been a top 10 pick a decade ago. Henry isn’t the most exciting guy to watch but he’s effective. He wears a defense down. Always pushing the pile, always delivering blows to defenders. He needs space though. If he can’t get to the open field, he isn’t as effective. He doesn’t elude defenders, he won’t miss contact in short spaces. I don’t like how upright he is and long limbed he is, it just screams injury because defenders will be diving at his knees from day one.

*#88 TE OJ Howard – 6’6/242

Hasn’t declared yet, many expect him to. Some think he is the top TE prospect in then nation. I don’t see it. He is very tools rich and could develop in to a matchup problem at the next level. He is a sub par blocker though and I don’t see anything special about his speed or quickness. Maybe he just doesn’t get the looks because of the scheme. I don’t know. Some say he is a 2nd rounder, I think more like 4th/5th.

#70 C Ryan Kelly – 6’5/297

Fifth year senior. Team leader. Three year starter. Very good interior blocker that has the size and strength to stone defensive tackles. Active feet and good flexibility. He can be a day one starter in the NFL. High upside center that I have a 2nd round grade on.

#17 RB Kenyan Drake – 6’1/210

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. The injury woes may bump him down to round 5 or 6.

#76 RT Dominick Jackson – 6’6/315

Transferred from JUCO in 2014. Didn’t start until this year. Big physical guy that has interesting tools. Long and stout. Good feet in space as a run blocker. He can drive guys back consistently. Struggles against speed to the outside. Has the ability to play inside in the NFL I think. Day three guy.

*#86 DT A’Shawn Robinson – 6’4/312

Third year junior that has been dominating from day one. All American DT. Plays DE and NT in their multi front scheme. He is a major matchup problem for any lone blocker. He can beat you in several ways. He doesn’t jump off the stat sheet but that isn’t his game. You have to watch him to appreciate it. He demands a lot of attention. He doesn’t get pushed back. He shows a lot of range in pursuit, just a crazy good athlete. 1st rounder, maybe a top 10 guy.

#90 DT Jarran Reed – 6’4/315

Fourth year senior, JUCO transfer. Early in the year I said Reed was a better player than Robinson. I’m not sure I still believe that but Reed makes up for less natural talent with a relentless, overly aggressive style. This guy can help change a culture of a defense. All out kind of guy all the time. He makes a ton of tackles from the DT position. Shows tremendous hand power, always delivering a violent blow to blockers. I like Reed a lot, maybe as a top 20 guy.

*#4 FS Eddie Jackson – 6’0/194

Third year junior. Haven’t heard much about his decision to stay or go but I think 2015 proved he is one of the top safeties in the nation, if not the best. All American. Made the move to FS from CB and he has 6 INTs with an amazing 230 return yards and 2 TDs. He is a game changer. Very rangy. Very fast. Won’t shy from contact and makes a lot of difficult tackles. Everything I want in a safety, Jackson has and I think the best has yet to come. I may have a 1st round grade on him if he comes out.

#19 LB Reggie Ragland – 6’2/252

Fourth year senior. This school just continues to pump out NFL caliber inside linebackers. Ragland is the next one. He’s not the athlete that CJ Mosley was a couple years back but he is just as good of a run defender. He can own the inside running game. Great tackler. Takes on blocks. I think he has a lack of range to the outside though and he may be a two down guy only or a 3-4 only guy. Still valuable but not to every scheme. Day 2 pick.

*#93 DL Jonathan Allen – 6’3/283

Third year junior. Pass rush specialist that may have played his way in to a 2nd round selection this year. Led the team with 10.5 sacks. He’s not on the field for a large percentage of plays and in college, that bothers me a little. I need to see more of him defending the run, playing more assignment based football. Some are saying he has 1st round potential but I’ll probably have him as a day 2 guy if he comes out.

#5 CB Cyrus Jones – 5’10/196

Fourth year senior. Jones could be drafted in the top 100 overall based on his return ability alone. He is the best in the country. Very shifty and fast. Great vision. Could potentially see a move to WR down the road a la Devin Hester. As a CB, Jones has struggled with consistency. He doesn’t stick to WRs in man coverage the way you would think he can based on his workouts. I don’t see the natural feel for coverage, which is essential for the position. Not sure where to peg him. Probably a 3rd or 4th rounder.

Other Notables:

#14 QB Jake Coker – 6’5/234
#16 WR Richard Mullaney – 6’3/208
#30 LB Denzel Devall – 6’2/252
#25 LB Dillon Lee – 6’4/242
#24 S Geno Matias-Smith – 6’0/194

CLEMSON

*#10 MLB Ben Boulware – 6’0/235

Third year junior. Hasn’t declared yet and I am split on whether or not he will. If he comes out, he will likely be my top LB in this class. I may even have a top 15 overall grade on him. Boulware is always around the ball, run or pass. Very instinctive and quick to the action. Low center of gravity and appears slippery to blockers. He is fast and powerful. Very good tackler that delivers a violent pop to ball carriers. Emotional leader of this team and is always on fire. Boulware is a 10 year starter in the NFL.

*#2 CB Mackenzie Alexander – 5’11/190

Third year sophomore. Broke on to the scene in 2014 with a Freshman All American season. I’ve been watching him all year and he has the goods from a physical perspective. Length, strength, speed, quickness, agility….it’s all there. Alexander is a fighter, constantly mixing it up with the opponent. If I had to nitpick, I’d say he struggles to maintain his physical ability when the ball is in there air. He loses balance and traction and has a tendency to get very grabby downfield. All in all he has the talent to be a star but there are several mechanical components to his game that need to be worked on. If he comes out he can be a top 15 guy.

*#90 DE Shaq Lawson – 6’3/275

Third year junior. Hasn’t announced a decision yet. Lawson wasn’t much of a factor until this year, playing behind Vic Beasley for his first two years. He really broke out this year and put himself in to 1st round territory. Lawson leads the nation with 22.5 tackles for loss. He is a complete defensive end that excels against both the run and pass. I can’t quite make up my mind on him. He’s good, but is he top 10 good? He lacks a couple of ideal physical traits but he has a technique-savvy player with a relentless motor. That is usually a nice combination when scouting a guy with such good production. I’ll spend more time on him in the coming months but he has a legit shot at being my #1 DE. I don’t see a major difference between him and Bosa.

*#98 DE Kevin Dodd – 6’5/278

Fourth year junior. Missed 2013 with injury. Dodd doesn’t get the attention that Lawson does but some people will have a higher grade on him. He has an NFL-ready body. A true 4-3 DE here that could start early in his career. He hasn’t seen the attention from opposing OLs that Lawson has, but I don’t want to use that against him too much. Power defender that shows proper mechanics across the board. Could be another 1st rounder.

#44 LB BJ Goodson – 6’1/250

Fifth year senior. Probably won’t get the attention that Boulware does but this guy is a player. Very physical, mean linebacker. A perfect fit for what we used to see in Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Might not be the elite athlete that some are looking for but some LBs have a way of using sneaky speed and that’s Goodson for you. He can change a run defense from day one.

*#1 FS Jayron Kearse – 6’4/210

This year junior with some nice bloodlines. Nephew of former DE Jevon Kearse, cousin to former CB Philip Buchanon. Very experienced. Solid triangle numbers. Some love this kid but I think he is too long for his own good. Takes a long time to react and change direction. Misses too many tackles for a safety. He just isn’t comfortable or fluid as a mover. I think he is a late rounder if he comes out, others will say top 100.

Other Notables:

#19 WR Charone Peake – 6’3/215
#78 LG Eric Mac Lain – 6’4/305
#74 RT Joe Gore – 6’5/290

Jan 042016
 
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Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (February 5, 2012)

Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

In January 2004, the New York Giants appeared to be a broken franchise. The team that had come tantalizing close to an NFL title in 2000 had once again begun to slip into mediocrity. It had been 13 years and three head coaches since the team’s sixth NFL title in 1990. And after a horrific 4-12 season in 2003, the Giants appeared far from ending their championship drought. The Giants had only made the playoffs four times since Bill Parcells quit and yet another coach had just been let go.

On January 6, 2004, Tom Coughlin became the 16th head coach of the New York Football Giants. After he was introduced by then-General Manager Ernie Accorsi at his introductory press conference on January 7, Coughlin addressed the media.

“What we must be all about right now, immediately, is the restoration of pride; self pride, team pride, the restoration of our professionalism and the dignity of which we conduct our business,” said Coughin. “We must restore our belief in the process by which we will win. We must replace despair with hope and return the energy and the passion to New York Giant football.”

“My job is to convince these young men that with the parity that exists in this league today, the difference is in the preparation and that our formula will earn us the right to win,” said Coughlin, prophetically using the very words that would become the title of his book nine years later.

The rebuilding process began in 2004 with the draft-day mega-trade for quarterback Eli Manning and the selection of Coughlin’s eventual son-in-law, guard Chris Snee, in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft. In free agency, the Giants added quarterback Kurt Warner, center Shaun O’Hara, and defensive tackle Fred Robbins. New York started the season 5-2, but after falling to 5-4, Coughlin decided to bench Warner and begin the Eli Manning era. Manning only won one game that season, the finale against the Cowboys, as the Giants finished the year 6-10.

More pieces arrived in 2005. Wide receiver Plaxico Burress, right tackle Kareem McKenzie, and linebacker Antonio Pierce were signed in free agency. Cornerback Corey Webster, defensive end Justin Tuck, and running back Brandon Jacobs were drafted. Both co-owners, Wellington Mara and Bob Tisch, passed away from cancer within three weeks of each other during the season. The Giants surprised everyone by finishing 11-5 and winning the NFC East before being knocked out in the first round of the playoffs 23-0 by the Carolina Panthers.

In 2006, the Giants added cornerbacks Sam Madison and R.W. McQuarters in free agency and drafted defensive end/linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka and defensive tackle Barry Cofield. Despite a second straight playoff appearance, the 2006 season was a disappointment. After starting 6-2, the Giants lost six of their last eight games and finished 8-8. They were one-and-done again in the playoffs, losing to the Philadelphia Eagles 23-20. In just his third season, Coughlin was already on the hot seat and many wanted him gone. He was forced fire both his offensive (John Hufnagel) and defensive (Tim Lewis) coordinators. Mike Sweatman, the special teams coordinator, also retired.

The 2007 New York Giants ended up being one of the most remarkable teams in all of sports history. Coughlin softened his approach and listened more to his players. New additions included kicker Lawrence Tynes, linebacker Kawika Mitchell, cornerback Aaron Ross, wide receiver Steve Smith, tight end Kevin Boss, and running back Ahmad Bradshaw. With a completely new set of coordinators on offense (Kevin Gilbride), defense (Steve Spagnuolo), and special teams (Tom Quinn), the team lost its first two games, won six straight, and looked very shaky down the stretch, playing .500 football in the last eight games, and barely making the playoffs for the third year in a row. Nobody – and I do mean nobody – gave the 10-6, #5 seed Wild Card Giants a shot at winning three straight road playoff games. Up until that point, in their entire history since 1925, the New York Giants had only cumulatively won three post-season away games. The “road warrior” Giants went on to double that total by defeating the #4 seed Buccaneers, #1 seed Cowboys, and #2 seed Packers before shocking the sports world by beating the AFC’s #1 seed, the “best team of all time” 18-0 New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. In a matter of a few games, Eli Manning developed into a true franchise quarterback. Coughlin became the fifth head coach in team history to win an NFL Championship, New York’s seventh overall.

Coughlin’s best regular season with the Giants came in 2008 as the team went an NFC best 12-4 and won the NFC East. However, the Plaxico Burress shooting incident and mounting injuries derailed a team that had beaten both eventual Super Bowl participants, and the Giants were one-and-done in the playoffs against the Eagles again. The Giants missed the playoffs in 2009 and 2010 with 8-8 and 10-6 records and Tom Coughlin was once again on the proverbial hot seat. Spagnuolo departed and was replaced first by Bill Sheridan and then Perry Fewell. New additions during these three years included wide receivers Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Mario Manningham; tight end Jake Ballard; defensive linemen Jason Pierre-Paul, Chris Canty, and Linval Joseph; linebacker Michael Boley; and safeties Kenny Phillips, Antrel Rolle, and Deon Grant.

In 2011 came miracle season #2, so eerily reminiscent of the storybook 2007 campaign. Center David Baas and punter Steve Weatherford arrived in free agency. Foreshadowing future personnel problems, that year’s draft didn’t provide much help. Like 2007, the Giants started off 6-2, but struggled in the second half of the season. The Giants lost four games in a row and looked dead until saving their season by defeating the Jets and sweeping the Cowboys to win the NFC East. The Giants were terrible running the football (32nd in the NFL) and on defense (27th in the NFL), but the passing game led by Manning, Cruz, and Nicks carried the team to a 9-7 record, with six 4th-quarter comebacks. The #4 seed Giants then proceeded to beat the #5 seed Falcons, #1 seed Packers, and #2 seed 49ers, before dispatching the #1 seed Patriots, Tom Brady, and Bill Belichick for the second time in four years in Super Bowl XLVI. Coughlin became the third Giants coach to win multiple championships and the 13th NFL coach in history to win multiple Super Bowls.

The 2012-2015 seasons were not kind to Coughlin as his team missed the playoffs each of his final four years in New York with 9-7, 7-9, 6-10, and 6-10 records. Poor drafting and numerous career-impacting injuries hollowed out the roster. Blowouts and heart-breaking 4th-quarter defeats mounted. Offensive and defensive coordinators were let go and many position coaches were fired with no improvement to the overall record. Approaching the ripe old age of 70, ownership decided to make a change.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as head coach of the New York Football Giants,” said Coughlin on the day he stepped down. “Obviously, the past three years have not been what any of us expect, and as head coach, I accept the responsibility for those seasons. I think it has been evident these last 12 years here how much pride I take in representing this franchise. I am gratified and proud that we were able to deliver two more Lombardi trophies to the display case in our lobby during that time.”

Alongside Steve Owen and Bill Parcells, Tom Coughlin is indisputably one of the greatest head coaches in the history of the New York Giants. Coughlin coached the Giants to a 102-90 regular season record and 8-3 post-season record. He had more wins in franchise history than any coach except for Owen, and tied Parcells for the most post-season wins in team history. In 12 seasons, Coughlin guided his team to five playoff berths, three division championships, two NFC Championships, and two NFL Championships. One-quarter of the team’s eight titles came under his helm.

Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (February 2008)

Mission Accomplished

There was never a hidden agenda with Tom. His only goal was to make the New York Giants a winner. And with two of the most stunning playoff runs in sports history, Coughlin accomplished that objective. He was tough on his players, but in the end, they loved him for it.

“Thank you Tom Coughlin for demanding the very best from myself (and my) teammates every single day,” said offensive lineman David Diehl, who played for Coughlin from 2004-13. “Respect is not given, it’s earned.”

“It has been one of the greatest honors of my life and career to be led by Tom Coughlin; my life will forever be changed,” said current place kicker Josh Brown.

If someone would have predicted in January 2004 that Tom Coughlin would win two Super Bowls in the next 12 years with the Giants, any fan of the team would have signed up for that deal in a heartbeat. Mission accomplished Coach Coughlin. You will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Jan 022016
 
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Tyler Johnstone, Oregon Ducks (October 3, 2015)

Tyler Johnstone – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2016 NFL Draft Prospects: January 2, 2016 Bowl Games (Late Games)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

OREGON

#64 LT Tyler Johnstone – 6’6/295

38 career starts. One of the best athletes you’ll find along the OL this year. Undersized and will need bulk if he wants to stick. Great footwork. Aggressive and loves to get physical despite not being a heavy guy. Some say a Joe Staley kind of guy. Could be a 1st rounder.

*#11 WR Bralon Addison – 5’10/190

Hasn’t declared yet. Missed 2014 after suffering an injury in spring. He looked like a big time player in 2013. Been playing OK in 2015 but inconsistent QB play has hurt him. Very good out of the slot. Gets open with ease and dynamic after the catch. Could be a 3rd/4th rounder.

#44 DE DeForest Bruckner – 6’7/300

One of the top DL in this class. Has a shot at being top 10. He bounces inside and out, big time matchup problem. Really big, really physical. 39 TFL and 13.5 sacks over past two years. Elite run defender that blockers can’t attach to in pass protection. He is the real deal and complete package. 1st rounder for sure.

#35 LB Joe Walker – 6’2/240

Need to see more of him. Has three down ability. Will tackle well in space and run with tight ends up the seam, also a very good inside run defender that can get off blocks. Middle rounder.

#33 LB Tyson Coleman – 6’1/233

Speed linebacker that loves to play the pursuit game. Has range but also plays with some power to him. Limited in traffic and isn’t good in coverage. 5th/6th rounder.

#56 DT Alex Balducci – 6’4/310

Haven’t watched him much. He carries the weight comfortably and he gets out of his stance fast. Not great after engaged but he plays hard and through he whistle. He’ll make plays 30 yards downfield. I want to see him a few more times.

#48 LB Rodney Hardrick – 6’1/250

Thick bodied, powerful bull type. Very good instincts and reactions. Limited athlete in space that won’t wow anyone. May need to be in a 3-4 scheme if he’s gonna stick.

Other Notables:

#62 LG Matt Pierson – 6’6/290
#72 C Matt Hegarty – 6’4/295
#3 QB Vernon Adams – 5’11/202

TCU

#7 WR Kolby Listenbee – 6’1/183

Big play guy. Averaging over 20 yards per catch over past two seasons. Might get more looks with Doctson out. He looks like a track athlete stillt trying to figure the game out. Project WR but with elite speed.

#74 LT Halapoulivaati Vaitai – 6’6/315

Three year starter. Not a fluid mover but he’s a tough guy to get around. Big time wingspan and hand power. He got away with a lot of holding in games I saw. He’s a little sloppy but I think he can stick somewhere as a backup caliber OT. Maybe eventual starter. Day three guy.

#22 RB Aaron Green – 5’11/206

Has been very solid over past two years. Over 6 yards per carry 2014/2015 combined. Part of a committee approach. Benefits from their spaced out offense. Solid all around but doesn’t stand out. Wasn’t used as a blocker or receiver as much as I want. Late rounder if he runs well in workouts.

#26 S Derek Kindred – 5’10/210

Undersized but good tackler, very physical. Fills the lanes hard. Good in zone coverage, anticipates well but is tight hipped. Late rounder best case.

Other Notables:

#55 C Joey Hunt – 6’3/295
#90 LB Terrell Lathan – 6’5/280

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WEST VIRGINIA

*#4 RB Wendell Smallwood – 5’11/201

Hasn’t declared yet but he submitted paperwork and he had a big year. I haven’t scouted him yet. I’m excited to because he has some really good movement ability. Very quick and fast, waterbug type. Little undersized but he has the frame for more weight.

#35 LB Nick Kwiatkoski – 6’2/235

Three year starter, has been the team’s leading tackler all three years. Need more looks at him but from what I’ve seen he can be a mid round prospect that starts early in his career. Smart and aware, reads the action, right place right time type.

#9 S KJ Dillon – 6’1/203

In the box safety that can be a force in the right role and scheme. Very good tackle and enforcer. Struggles to stick with WRs in space but he can make plays in coverage. Just can’t handle too much responsibility.

#36 LB Shaq Petteway – 6’0/230

Athletic in short space. Has a lot going against him but I like him from the little I have seen. He is a great tackler. Good blitzer that can feel the action. Late rounder.

Other Notables:

#78 LT Marquis Lucas – 6’4/318
#42 Jared Barber – 6’0/232

ARIZONA STATE

#55 LG Christian Westermann – 6’4/300

Fifth year senior, started off at Auburn. Widely know for his freakish weight room strength. He moves like a weightlifter. Stiff and slow to react to players. He is a good bender and wins off the snap initially often, but needs work on what happens after. I see a mid rounder, others think top 45.

#15 WR Devin Lucien – 6’2/195

Finally got his opportunity in 2015 and he shined. He made a ton of plays downfield. Really competes for the ball and showed some nice ball skills. He could be a big time value grab if he falls to day 3.

#8 WR DJ Foster – 6’0/195

Jack of all trades guy. He’s been a hybrid WR/RB his entire career. Fought some nagging injuries in 2015. I think he projects best to the slot in the NFL but he will need to refine his route running. Some people really like this guy. I think he is a mid rounder.

#2 QB Mike Bercovici – 6’2/210

He’s in that third or fourth tier of QBs but I think he is draftable. Nice arm and he had a lot of responsibilities in this offense. Throws a tight ball, puts the ball on the money downfield. Late rounder.

#81 WR Gary Chambers – 6’4/215

A deep sleeper of mine. Only saw him once and it was against Oregon, probably his best game in his 2 years at ASU. I see tools in this kid. Ball skills, long strides, physical. May lack some speed but this is the kind of kid I want to see at East/West Shrine or in private workouts. I think there is something here that ASU never got out of him.

#8 CB Lloyd Carrington – 6’0/195

Nice body for a a CB. Strong and long presence. Can run downfield with speed. QBs don’t look his way often, he can lock guys up. 2nd or 3rd rounder.

#32 OLB Antonio Longino – 6’2./230

Huge senior season. Plays a position that let shim roam and blitz all day. 19 TFL and 10 sacks is still noteworthy. Hustler that will pursue hard. Bends will and can punch the blocker hard. Fun player to watch. Still a day 3 guy.

Other Notables:

#73 RG VI Teofilo – 6’3/315
#50 C Nick Kelly – 6’2/296
#94 DT Demetrius Cherry – 6’6/300
#10 S Kwelshi Brown – 6’0/210

Jan 022016
 
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Cody Whitehair, Kansas State Wildcats (September 18, 2014)

Cody Whitehair – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2016 NFL Draft Prospects: January 2, 2016 Bowl Games (Early Games)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

PENN STATE

*#14 QB Christian Hackenburg – 6’2/228

Fourth year junior. Has always been a high ceiling kid but he’s been as inconsistent as it gets. Has had a rough situation with the poor OL. Would love to see him go back to school, he needs more time. If he comes out maybe a day 2 pick but I don’t see it. Too many negatives.

*99 DT Austin Johnson – 6’3/323

Hasn’t declared yet. Solid space eater inside with the quicks and strong punch. Has the upside of a starter. He seems stiff to me after engagement. Might be a day 2 guy if he comes out.

#98 DT Anthony Zettel – 6’3/288

Active and and quick off the snap. Plays low and strong. Annoying guy to block but I think his upside is limited. Wasn’t much of a factor in 2015. 3rd or 4th rounder.

#95 DE Carl Nassib – 6’7/272

Broke out in 2015. Had 15.5 sacks after just 2 in his career prior to. Lacks quick twitch. Won’t beat guys off the snap but does well after engagement. Another limited upside guy. 3rd or 4th round best case.

Other Notables:

#10 CB Trevor Williams – 6’1/200

GEORGIA

#26 WR Malcolm Mitchell – 6’1/195

Team leader type. Has seen time at WR and CB. He has the tools for both in the NFL. Tough kid with good ball skills but isn’t a great athlete. Day three pick.

#71 RT Jon Theus – 6’6/303

Started off as a Freshman All American in 2012. Hasn’t lived up to the hype since. Struggles with speed and quickness. Has a long frame though but needs time to develop physically. He’s sloppy. Late rounder.

#59 OLB Jordan Jenkins – 6’2/246

Not a big time athlete but he is a guy that controls the point of attack and adds a physical element to the defense. Tough as nails. Strong and powerful. Very reliable player assignment wise. He can start day one in the NFL. 2nd rounder.

*#84 OLB Leonard Floyd – 6’4/231

Hasn’t declared yet. Some will love this kid and put a 1st round grade on him. Typical explosive edge athlete that needs bulk. Can run with WRs. Has length. Easy bender, very agile. Athletic upside is as good as it gets but he gets moved by blockers too easily. Could be a top 45 guy on my board but right now he is a 3rd rounder.

Other Notables:

#4 RB Keith Marshall – 5’11/212
#51 LB Jake Ganus – 6’2/227
#93 DT Chris Mayes – 6’4/323
#58 DT Sterling Bailey – 6’3/282

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KANSAS STATE

#55 LT Cody Whitehair – 6’4/309

Has played all over the OL. He projects to OG in the NFL and he may finish as my top guy at that spot. I like him a lot. Incredibly strong and powerful from head to toe. He can bend guys backward. Very good athlete off the edge. Has an easy time with speed and quickness. Won’t lose the strength game. 1st round possibly.

#33 CB Morgan Burns – 5’11/202

Could be drafted on his return ability alone. Fastest guy on team, some say 4.35 guy. Returned 4 kickoffs for TDs in 2015 alone which is amazing. As a CB alone he could be a 4th or 5th rounder. Combine the two and he could sneak in to day 2. High upside pick.

Other Notables:

#77 LG Boston Stiverson – 6’4/316
#68 RG Luke Hayes – 6’6/295
#65 RT Matt Kleinsorge – 6’5/310
#48 DT Travis Britz – 6’4/293
#45 DE Marquel Bryant – 6’3/254

ARKANSAS

*#84 TE Hunter Henry – 6’5/253

Hasn’t declared yet. My favorite prospect of the day. He’ll be my top tight end if he comes out. He is the prototype. Has the athletic ability to move outside and create mismatches. Has the size and strength to start with his hand in the dirt and block. He can be a starter right away, a good one at that. Does it all and could be a premier TE in this league.

*#3 RB Alex Collins – 5’11/215

Hasn’t declared yet. May finish as my top overall RB in this class. Love his running style. Very good vision, very decisive. He breaks tackles almost every time he has the ball. NFL caliber footwork and hip agility. Changes direction, fast in the open field. Team player. Great blocker.

*#55 LT Denver Kirkland – 6’5/340

Hasn’t declared. Moved to LT this year but I think he makes a move back inside in the NFL. Maybe a RT. Huge frame but not a good bender and he has heavy feet. Size helps but doesn’t solve his movement issues. I think he needs another year, right now I see a 4th rounder.

#73 LG Sebastian Tretola – 6’5/334

Has bounced around over past 5 years. Good run blocker. Little sloppy and lacks great lateral movement but he gets the job done often. May need time to develop physically and get in better shape, clean up some stuff but has solid backup potential. Day three guy.

#10 QB Brandon Allen – 6’2/210

Played his way in to serious draft consideration this year. I saw him plenty and while he lacks ideal triangle numbers and arm strength, he put out some of the mosrt gutsy performances I saw all year. Tough as nails. Accurate and decisive. He impressed me on a lot of occasions. Still a late round, backup type player.

Other Notables:

#93 DT DeMarcus Hodge – 6’1/340
#26 SS Rohan Gaines – 5’11/195