May 192015
 
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Tom Quinn, Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (August 29, 2012)

Tom Quinn and Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

For a team that has not fired its head coach since January 2004, there has been a tremendous amount of assistant coach turnover on the New York Giants the last two offseasons. In 2014, the team “retired” their offensive coordinator and fired their running backs and tight ends coaches. The quarterbacks coach was “demoted” to wide receivers coach and the wide receivers coach was “demoted” to tight ends coach. In 2015, the Giants fired their defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach. The quarterbacks coach also left to pursue an opportunity in the collegiate ranks.

In short, the only coaching positions that have not changed in the last two offeasons are head coach, offensive line coach, defensive line coach, linebackers coach, safeties coach, and special teams coordinator. The amount of overall turnover in a two-year period has been remarkable.

Regardless if these coaches are old or new, all are now vulnerable on a team that has missed the playoffs three straight seasons. If the Giants miss the playoffs in 2015, with a schedule that includes only three playoff teams from 2014, there is a good chance the entire staff will be terminated. But let’s assume the Giants show enough progress to improve their overall record to 9-7 but miss the playoffs for a fourth season? Might John Mara and Jerry Reese retain Tom Coughlin and most of the staff for one more chance in 2016? It’s possible. And it’s also possible that they will only do so if other assistant coaches are let go.

In my opinion, there are three coaches on this team who are vulnerable to being released if their respective units do not improve. Each of these units have been very inconsistent in recent years, but the organization has dedicated a tremendous amount of personnel resources into improving the units. Now the pressure is on the coaches to turn these assets into improved results.

If you believe there is no way the entire coaching staff is retained if the team does not make the playoffs, then the work of these three coaches could prove decisive in the team’s overall success.

Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn

Tom Quinn, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Tom Quinn – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Tom Quinn has been the special teams coach of the New York Giants since 2007. Quinn probably gets more grief than he deserves from fans as his special teams did play an integral role in two NFL Championship runs in 2007 and 2011. In many of the playoff games, special teams were a critical factor in the victories. His units have also performed reasonably well in certain areas when given the tools. That said, special teams has far too often been the Achilles’ heel of the New York Giants.

In the last five seasons, the Giants have finished the regular-season 31st, 20th, 6th, 27th, and 17th in kick return average with only one kick return resulting in a touchdown. They have also finished 31st, 29th, 30th, 26th, and 19th in punt return average with no punt return touchdowns during that five-year span. David Wilson’s tremendous success as a kick returner in 2012 was the lone bright spot in the return game despite the fact the team has drafted prospects and signed free agents who were supposedly good return men. As the stats show, the Giants’ punt return game in particular has been anemic for a long time.

In terms of covering kickoffs, the Giants have finished 4th, 11th, 16th, 9th, and 2nd in the NFL with no kick return touchdowns allowed. In covering punts, the team finished 31st, 17th, 15th, 30th, and 27th with six punt return touchdowns allowed. In other words, kickoff coverage has been satisfactory but punt coverage has been dreadful and very costly at times.

During the last five years, the Giants have blocked two punts and have had two punts blocked. The kicking/punting game with Lawrence Tynes/Josh Brown and Steve Weatherford has been solid.

When taken as a whole, the special teams have been below average. Among fans, Quinn is the least popular coach on the team.

The team has dedicated a number of assets to Quinn this offseason, highlighted by Dwayne Harris, arguably the best all-around special teams player in the game. Harris not only returns punts and kicks, he also excels at covering punts and kicks. Harris was 2nd, 3rd, and 9th in the NFL in punt returns the last three seasons, with two scores. He was also also 2nd and 13th in the NFL in kickoff returns the last two seasons. Harris has been named “NFC Special Teams Player of the Week” three times. He was given an unprecedented 5-year, $17.5 million contract for a special teams player.

But the reinforcements don’t end with Harris. The Giants also signed special teams standout linebackers J.T. Thomas (3 years, $10 million) and Jonathan Casillas (3 years, $8 million) as well as re-signing linebacker Mark Herzlich (2 years, $2.6 million). Draft pick safeties Landon Collins and Mykkele Thompson excelled on special teams in college. The Giants project another draft pick, wideout Geremy Davis, as another special teams asset. And defensive ends Damontre Moore and Owamagbe Odighizuwa; linebacker Devon Kennard; cornerbacks Mike Harris and Chykie Brown; and safeties Nat Berhe, Cooper Taylor and Bennett Jackson should all be core special teamers.

Quinn should be out of excuses. He has a returner, kickers, blockers, and gunners.

Offensive Line Coach Pat Flaherty

Pat Flaherty, New York Giants (July 28, 2013)

Pat Flaherty – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Pat Flaherty has been the offensive line coach of the New York Giants ever since Tom Coughlin became the team’s head coach in 2004. Flaherty helped to construct one of the great offensive lines in team history: left tackle David Diehl, left guard Rich Seubert, center Shaun O’Hara, right guard Chris Snee, and right tackle Kareem McKenzie. This group peaked in 2008 when the Giants led the NFL in rushing. Since then, the line has had its moments but it has declined steadily despite a second NFL title in 2011.

The main problem is that the Giants have not done a good job of adequately replacing the five old foundation members – all of whom are now out of football. They got some solid play out of guard Kevin Boothe and center David Baas, but not much else (and both of those two players are now gone too).

The Giants have drafted a number of offensive linemen who have not performed well for the franchise, including Guy Whimper (4th round), Mitch Petrus (5th round), James Brewer (4th round), Brandon Mosley (4th round), Matt McCants (6th round), and Eric Herman (7th round). They also signed some veteran free agents last offseason who did not pan out: center J.D. Walton, guard John Jerry, and tackle Charles Brown.

Is the lack of development of these players the responsibility of Flaherty? Most likely not, but the team has spent resources to attempt to fix a sore spot that remains a sore spot. That does not help Flaherty’s case. The Giants were tied for 28th in the NFL last season in yards per rush. And while the Giants were 9th best in the NFL in sacks allowed with 30, that stat is misleading as Eli Manning was hit far too often in a West Coast offensive scheme based on a 3-step drop and a quarterback who historically does not take a lot of sacks.

The current Giants offensive line now has two first round draft picks (Ereck Flowers and Justin Pugh), two second round draft picks (Will Beatty and Weston Richburg), and one very expensive free agent acquisition (Geoff Schwartz, 4 years, $16.8 million). The expectation is that not only should the line no longer be one of the worst in the NFL, but it should develop into one of the league’s best. The pressure is on Flaherty for these pricey investments to perform.

Defensive Line Coach Robert Nunn

Robert Nunn, New York Giants (August 10, 2013)

Defensive Line Coach Robert Nunn – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Robert Nunn has been the defensive line coach of the New York Giants since 2010 when Mike Waufle was fired. His lines have risen and fallen depending on the inconsistent performances of ends Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, and Mathias Kiwanuka, and steadier performances from tackles Barry Cofield, Linval Joseph, and Chris Canty. In 2014, New York’s run defense was dreadful…dead last in the NFL in terms of yards per rush allowed.

Like Flaherty, a strong argument can be made that the coach has not had much to work with as the key older players have left the team. Gone are Michael Strahan, Tuck, Umenyiora, Kiwanuka, Canty, Cofield, and Joseph. The Giants have not adequately replaced these parts. But in the last two offseasons, significant assets have once again been focused on the line. The team has placed the franchise tag ($14.8 million) on Pierre-Paul. It has spent high draft picks on tackles Johnathan Hankins (2nd round) and Jay Bromley (3rd round) and ends Damontre Moore (3rd round) and Owamagbe Odighizuwa (3rd round). Free agent ends Robert Ayers and George Selvie and tackle Kenrick Ellis have been signed. The expectation is that once again the defensive line will become the foundation of Steve Spagnuolo’s defense. The pressure is on for this unit to perform at a high level.

It should be no revelation that two of the coaches in the hot seat are the line coaches. For the decline of the fortunes of the New York Giants since 2011 can be directly traced to the demise of the offensive and defensive lines. The Giants have been getting out-played up front. They have had problems running the football and defending the run. Pass rush and pass protection have been far too inconsistent. The franchise has dedicated a lot of resources to fix these problems. The outcome of the 2015 season will depend on how the lines perform.

Despite some playoff heroics, special teams has been a sore spot for years. Yet somehow Tom Quinn has avoided the executioner. The excuses to retain his services are running out. Ironically, Tom Coughlin’s fate may rest with Quinn. One or two games each year are won or lost because of special teams. Those one or two games could mean the difference between a playoff run or sitting home for the fourth time in a row in January.

May 132015
 
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Roger Goodell, 2015 NFL Draft (April 30, 2015)

Roger Goodell – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Review

Draft Pick Scouting Reports
Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports
Eric’s Take on the 2015 Draft

Round Pick in Round Overall Selection Player Selected Video
1 9 9 OT Ereck Flowers (Video)
2 1 33 S Landon Collins (Video)
3 10 74 DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (Video)
5 8 144 S Mykkele Thompson (Video)
6 10 186 WR Geremy Davis (Video)
7 28 245 OG Bobby Hart

2015 Draft Pick Scouting Reports

1st Round – OT Ereck Flowers, 6’6”, 329 pounds, 5.35, University of Miami.
Ereck Flowers, Miami Hurricanes (October 4, 2014)

Ereck Flowers – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SCOUTING REPORT: A junior entry, Flowers is very young and just turned 21 in April. At 6’6”, 329 pounds, Flowers is a massive player with outstanding strength. Flowers played both left and right tackle at Miami and the Giants feel he has the athleticism to play either tackle spot at the pro level. Flowers is a very powerful, physical, violent run blocker who plays with a mean, nasty streak. He can muscle and maul defenders and is able to effectively engage defenders at the second level. Flowers has the feet, agility, and overall athleticism to become a very good pass protector, but he needs technique work in that area. He also needs to do a better job of recognizing blitzes and stunts.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE: (Video) (Giants.com Interview)

Opening Statement: Ereck Flowers – Offensive Tackle, University of Miami. Highest guy on the board. A lot of things to like about him. Obviously he’s a gigantic human being. Really long arms. He was the strongest guy at the combine. Arms … I think his arms were 34 ½ inches. He can play left or right tackle. That’s up to Coach Coughlin where he plays, but we think he can be a long time tackle for the New York Giants. Any questions about him?

Q: What about him as opposed to some of the other offensive linemen?

A: There were some good offensive linemen up there, but he was the highest guy on our board where we picked him. We think it’s all upside with him. A couple of days ago, I think he just turned 21. So those are things that we like. He’s young, powerful, big, tough, he’s got a nasty streak. All of those things we like about him.

Q: Is he polished enough to step in?

A: All college players have to learn the speed of the game when they get up here and play against these defensive linemen and these defensive schemes in this league, but obviously he’ll have to catch up to the speed of the National Football League. But he’s played at a high level of competition and we think he’ll catch up pretty quickly.

Q: Can you see him playing guard or do you see him strictly playing tackle?

A: I think he can play anywhere. I think he can play guard. I think he’s naturally a tackle, but I think he can play guard.

Q: How would you rate his run blocking versus pass protection?

A: If I had to rate one versus the other, I think he’s good at both. I think if I had to grade one over the other, I think he’s probably a better pass blocker. He’s very productive as a pass blocker, but I think he’s a very good run blocker as well.

Q: Was he your guy all along or when Washington took (Brandon) Scherff, did that change any plans?

A: We liked both of those guys. I can tell you that. We liked both of them and we thought they would both be terrific players.

Q: Do you project him as a possible left tackle?

A: Yeah, you would think so. You would think he can play left tackle. He could play right tackle. We project him as a really good football player, first, and where he ends up, that’s up to our coaches.

Q: Was this a pretty good marriage in terms of the needs of the team?

A: We always talk about we’re going to take the best player, but we’re always cognizant of what our need is as well and we think this is a good need and a value pick for us. We think this can help solidify the offensive line, so hopefully this will settle the offensive line down and we don’t have to keep talking about the offensive line as much.

Q: Did you go check him out personally at his pro day? What did you see when you were down there?

A: I did go to the pro day and I saw a big guy. There were 32 teams there and probably 10-12 offensive line coaches, and they put him through a lot of drills. It was hot down there and he stayed out there and he went through every drill and never complained a bit. He did an outstanding job down there.

Q: When did you first get wind of him?

A: Our scouts. Our scouts do the work. They liked him and obviously Mark Ross liked him. Our coaches did work. Pat Flaherty was down there at the pro day. We liked him at the combine and we interviewed him at the combine. We brought him in here for one of our visits, so we’ve done a lot of work on him and we’re really happy to have a player of his caliber.

Q: Has it been a little frustrating for some draft picks to not have panned out?

A: You’re always trying to fix some problems you have on your team, and offensive line has been an issue for a couple of years and we’re trying to finally solidify the offensive line, and I feel like we’ve got some strong caliber players in the offensive line and we just need them to stay healthy and gel together and play well.

Q: How does his nasty streak manifest itself?

A: He’s just a big, tough guy. That’s one of the things when you talk to the coaches down there, it’s like this guy doesn’t take any crap from anybody. We like that and you can see that in his play. He likes to finish guys off and that kind of fits the offensive profile that we like. We like some big, tough guys with a little bit of a nasty streak.

Q: Did you ever consider trading up or down at any point?

A: I won’t talk about that.

Q: Was there any feeling to move up when Leonard Williams was dropping?

A: I won’t talk about that.

MEDIA Q&A WITH VICE PRESIDENT OF PLAYER EVALUATION MARC ROSS: (Video) (Giants.com Interview)

Q: What do you think about Ereck Flowers?

A: Ereck is, as you have probably heard, a physical, nasty, tough football player and you just don’t see that too often anymore in college football. He is a man-child physically. He is gigantic. He has long arms. He just turned 21 on Saturday. Super productive against the highest level of competition there, the Florida States and the Nebraskas. He is a good player who is just scratching the surface of how good he can be.

Q: Where do you see him position-wise?

A: Tackle, for sure. He can play [either side]. He has done that. He played right tackle as a freshman. He played left tackle the last two years, so wherever the coaches want to play him and feel most comfortable right now, but I feel he can do either tackle spot.

Q: Do you see that his weakness is with his techniques?

A: You read that stuff. The guy is 20. They all have technique flaws. Nobody is ready-made to play in the NFL. Even fourth- or fifth-year seniors. They all can improve. He is just learning to play, but even with technique flaws, the guy was a productive and dominant player at times.

Q: Do you have the belief that this pick could quiet the concern about the offensive line, as Jerry Reese expressed?

A: I feel strongly that we drafted a really good football player. Whether it is solving the problems or doing any of that, I don’t know. We were just super excited to get a really good football player.

Q: Is he the type of guy that is a good pass-blocker, as well as a run-blocker?

A: He has done that [at Miami]. He played left tackle. He’s nasty in the run game, but his length and his feet as a pass protector – he did that well, as well. He did both really well. We expect him to be a complete tackle who will excel as a punishing run-blocker and a nifty pass-blocker.

Q: Did you see that [Brandon Scherff] may be more polished, but [Flowers] has a higher ceiling?

A: Again, Scherff was a fifth-year senior. This guy is a 20-year-old, third-year junior. Scherff was a 22 or 23-year old fifth-year senior, so of course he has been around. He has played more and been around it more. He was slightly better with technique and playing, but there wasn’t that much of a major difference.

Q: How does he balance being quiet but having a nasty streak?

A: When we went down to Miami and talked to all the coaches and stuff and when we had him in here for a visit – we went down there and had dinner with him and spent some time with him. He is quiet. He is very quiet, but he is a smart quiet. He is all about football. He is a gym rat. They tell you at [Miami] that he just hangs around the facility. He works out all the time. He is real tight with his dad and they work out together. He will come back to the facility and work out some more. He doesn’t go out and hang out. He doesn’t party. You would think down in Miami and South Beach that he would be out, but he is one of the exceptions down there. He doesn’t go out. He just wants to play football. He doesn’t want to talk about it, he just wants to be about the action, as Marshawn Lynch said.

Q: Do you see him as a guy who could give Will Beatty a run for his money also?

A: We’ll see. A franchise left tackle is a rare commodity. There are not many of those guys around the league and we think this guy has the ability, the upside, the potential, the toughness, the smarts and the competitiveness to be a franchise left tackle for us.

Q: When you showed up at the office tonight did you have offensive lineman as your top priority?

A: We stack our players on the board and this guy was the best guy that we had up there. This was a really good year for offensive linemen. Of course, we discussed it and talk about it in our meetings. He was the highest guy on our board, so we took him.

Q: Was he the highest guy on the board at his position?

A: At the time we picked him, he was the highest guy up on our board.

Q: Did this first round pick play out as expected for you?

A: We thought there was a chance [Scherff] would go before us, maybe a pick or two, but not where he went. We felt really strongly going into it that he would go ahead of us. Just because he had a lot of momentum building up to this day. We go through a lot of scenarios before the draft and we talk about every possible scenario. Things that are just ridiculous that we talk about. What if [Marcus] Mariota, [Amari] Cooper and [Jameis] Winston are all there when we are picking? What do we do then? We talk about everything. We are not ever surprised. The draft is always something – a curveball gets thrown in there, but we always talk about every scenario possible, so we are not surprised when we are up on the clock.

Q: Did you see this as the most likely scenario the way it played out?

A: Pretty much. We felt good about this one.

Q: Is the expectation for [Flowers] to come in and hit the ground running?

A: Yes, sure, because of the intangibles. Last year we weren’t specifically looking for captains. Those guys just happened to be captains, but we were looking for clean football players. This guy is a clean player. He fits the mold of that crew last year because they say he is the hardest working guy on the team. They say he is a gym rat. They say he is the nastiest guy and you don’t want to mess with him because he is all about football and his love for the game. He is going to will himself to get on the field right way.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN: (Video) (Giants.com Interview)

Opening Statement: We are excited about Ereck Flowers. We had Jerry Reese, Pat Flaherty and Marc Ross – all of those gentlemen were at [Flowers’] workout in Miami. The kid is an outstanding athlete. He is very young, as you know. He is a battleship, an aircraft carrier or however you want to describe him at six-foot-six, 329 [pounds]. Strongest guy in the draft. Outstanding feet. [He] just turned 21 a couple of days ago here in mid- to late-April. Those things, together with the desire to improve both our offensive and our defensive lines, to be honest with you, we think we have made a good start here. You sit there and people start coming off the board and then the guy in front of you is a very prolonged amount of time and you are wondering if in fact…we had heard St. Louis would like an offensive lineman as well. Were they coming above? That was a factor, obviously. We are very excited about this young man and looking forward getting him in here and getting to work.

Q: Have you had a chance to talk to him?

A: I did.

Q: How did that conversation go?

A: Very well, thank you. He is very excited. Did you see that picture of him slapping hands? I thought he was going to kill somebody.

Q: Is he a right tackle or a left tackle?

A: He can be either side. He [was] a left tackle last year, but he has the size and so on and so forth to play a lot of spots if you so desire. We think he is a tackle.

Q: Do you expect him to come in and compete for a starting spot?

A: Absolutely.

Q: Do you view Justin Pugh as a potential person to move inside?

A: We are talking about Ereck Flowers, and I am not going to comment on that until I have the opportunity to talk to our coaches about exactly how we are going to go about starting this.

Q: Would you say he is more ahead as a run-blocker or more of a pass-blocker?

A: He is both. He is athletic. He has good feet. He is big and strong and powerful. As I said, [he was] the strongest guy at the Combine. He can do both.

Q: Was offensive line the particular focus for you?

A: Yeah, but you know how the Giants operate – the best player on the board is going to get the majority of the consideration, and that was the case right here.

Q: Did it work out well in where he fell and your board ratings?

A: Absolutely.

Q: What have you seen from [Flowers] in regard to his nasty streak?

A: You see him on film. You see him at the second level trying to finish people off. Arriving in a bad humor at a pile. You see all that stuff.

Q: Do you feel like Pugh, Weston Richburg and Flowers are the nucleus of the offensive line going forward?

A: He is an addition to the players that we have here. We are excited about that. We do have some veteran players here as well. Hopefully the best will rise to the surface.

Q: What do you know about him as a person?

A: I can read and I have read page after page after page of interviews and summaries and evaluations and so on and so forth. Everything we hear – he is very, very close with his dad. His dad is with him all the time. At his workout, his dad was there. I think that is a very strong relationship and I think that points to a very solid young man. Maybe a little bit on the quiet side, but he is young. He is a guy that is always in the weight room, always hanging around, even as they practiced down there this spring, from what I understand.

Q: Do you see [Flowers] as competition for left tackle?

A: It is competition up front, period. It will be that. The better the competition, the better the results.

Q: Was this your first choice of a position in the first round?

A: That was one of, yes.

Q: Did [Brandon Scherff] going to Washington surprise you?

A: Well, there is always the chance. He [is] a very, very solid football player who is well thought of throughout the league. Ranked very highly by everyone. For him to go there is not a shock.

MEDIA Q&A WITH ERECK FLOWERS: (Giants.com Interview)

Q: How surprised were you that the Giants ended up picking you?

A: I was really surprised. I saw the phone light up and it was surreal.

Q: It seemed that the Giants did an extensive amount of research on you. You had to have known they were interested in you.

A: I took a visit. I saw the coaches and we had dinner.

Q: What did you think about that visit?

A: It was great. I got to sit down with Coach Flats (Flaherty) and the offensive line coaches. Jessie Armstead went to Miami, so there was a connection there. I think it was a pretty good vibe.

Q: Did you have any inclination that the Giants would be a landing spot?

A: I thought it could be a possibility, but in drafts you never really know. I was sitting here just waiting on the call.

Q: You’re close with your dad. What’s his first name and did he play football?

A: Everald Flowers. He played football at Washburn University. He played linebacker.

Q: Is your father serving as your agent?

A: We have a lawyer to do the contract, but he’s the one who has been representing me.

Q: A lot of the coaches have said you’re a quiet guy with a mean streak.

A: I like to really get into the game, and I really play with a lot of passion. I love the game of football.

Q: Could you give us a scouting report on what you think of yourself as a player and what you still think you might want to work on in the NFL?

A: I think I’m a player who needs to work on everything. I think I’ve got a long ways to go and I’m ready to go that way. I love everything about football, so I’m pretty happy about the confidence in myself. I’m just ready to take this next step.

Q: What do you believe you do so well that made you a high number one draft pick?

A: I think I’m a pretty good run-blocker. I think I show a good amount of athleticism. I think I’m a pretty good reach-blocker, but other than that, I think I can improve in everything, including the things that I would say I do pretty well at. I’m ready to make those improvements.

Q: Who have you styled your play on the field after?

A: My favorite player coming in was Trent Williams.

Q: You’re a pretty young guy. Do you think you can come in and play right away?

A: I do. I feel I can.

Q: What makes you think your game translates to the next level well?

A: I have a lot of confidence in myself and whatever I do or I wouldn’t be playing this sport at all or doing any of the stuff I do. It’s really just the confidence in myself and what I see in myself. I can’t really sit here and persuade you, but I’m confident in myself and what I do.

Q: Do you think of yourself as a left tackle in the NFL?

A: I see myself anywhere on the line. I’m ready to come in anywhere on the line to make a contribution. Whatever helps the team win.

Q: Have you ever played guard?

A: I’ve played it in practice. My team never really needed me to play guard. I played both tackles, so I’m ready to play wherever.

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2nd Round – S Landon Collins, 6’0”, 228 pounds, 4.48, University of Alabama
Landon Collins, Alabama Crimson Tide (January 1, 2015)

Landon Collins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SCOUTING REPORT: Collins is a junior entry. He’s a big safety (6’0”, 228 pounds) with good speed (4.48). Tough, physical, intimidating safety who is a big hitter and sure tackler. Collins excels in run defense; he is like having an extra linebacker on the field. Good blitzer. He is solid in coverage with good range but lacks ideal quickness and recovery speed. Field-smart, instinctive, and a team leader, Collins has an ideal defensive temperament. He is a superb special teams player.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE: (Video)

Opening Statement: We got a safety from Alabama, Landon Collins. He’s a big, versatile safety. He played a lot of positions for them. They asked him to do a lot at Alabama. We always like guys that have a lot of versatility like that and he’s played at a very high level of competition. He was very productive for them. We think he can play on the back end and we think he can play in the box. We think he can play like a sub linebacker… also as a special teams player. He’ll come right in and compete for a job at that position.

Q: Do you see him more as a strong safety, free safety or does that distinction matter?

A: I just see him as a safety. One or the other has to come down into the box at some point and they have to go back and play coverage at some point. I think he’s just a versatile safety. If you look at Alabama, you see them use him in all kinds of ways. He’s very smart, very productive, big, tough and can run.

Q: You don’t make a lot of trades up like this. Did you pick out particular players last night before you left the facility?

A: There were a couple of guys sticking out last night as we looked at the board before we left. We had a group of players right there together that we liked and we always try to combine value with need and so we made some calls last night and some calls today and it worked out for us.

Q: Does he have a first round grade?

A: We have a good grade on him.

Q: When you left last night, did you feel like you were going to get this player?

A: You never know. We just made contact last night with some teams in front of us because there were a couple of players that we liked still on the board right there, so I made some phone calls last night and some phone calls this morning and talked about it most of the day and we decided to make the deal.

Q: It seemed like a couple of players drafted at the end of the first round might have been on your draft board. Did that effect what you decided to do with this trade?

A: No, not really. There were a couple of good defensive players that we liked that got picked yesterday as well, but every draft, it happens like that. When that guy gets picked, move on to the next.

Q: You haven’t been able to bring a safety in through free agency up to this point. How much of a necessity was it for you to make sure you acquired a player at the safety position in this draft and did you need to make the pick at a certain point in the draft?

A: Not really. We just try to get good players when the opportunity presents itself, so we try to be aggressive. We liked this guy. He’s going to come in and compete with safeties we have on the roster right now and we’ll continue to see what’s out there and what’s available. It’s just April. There’s a long way to go before we play and so we’ll continue to try to upgrade that position like all of the other positions.

Q: Did you pay more than you expected to?

A: No. When you move up to that spot, you have buddies around the National Football League, but they’re not buddy enough to let you come up there for free. It’s a premium spot when you’re picking first in the second round, so you’ve got to pay to go up there and secure a guy.

Q: Did you pay less than you thought you might have to?

A: No. We paid a fair price for him. Very fair.

Q: What makes you think he can compete for a starting job, whereas many other rookies can’t?

A: A lot of rookies do compete for starting jobs every year. There are rookies that come in and play all over the National Football League at different positions, so why not him. He played at a very, very high level of competition. He’s smart. He can run. He’s tough. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t come in and compete.

Q: What are some reasons why he can compete for a starting job on this defense?

A: I think it’s just what I said, because he’s very accomplished at a very high level of competition, the highest level of competition. He’s been very productive there. He’s smart. We interviewed him. This is what I think is going to motivate him. I think a lot of people had him projected to go in the first row, so I think we’re going to get a very, very motivated player coming in here to prove some people wrong that didn’t take him in the first row. They missed out on a good player.

Q: Did you have him in for a visit?

A: Did we have him here? No.

Q: He’s been compared to Kam Chancellor as a heavy hitter. You acquired Ereck Flowers, who has a nasty streak. Are you trying to improve the physicality of this team?

A: You always want a physical football team, so the more physical guys you can acquire, the more physical your football team is going to be. That’s part of the method to who he is and why we want him and why we think he can be a good player for us.

Q: Did you view him as the top safety in the draft?

A: There were some more safeties we liked as well, but we had him ranked high.

Q: How important is it to you if a prospect has played in the SEC?

A: If they’re playing at a high level of competition, we think it’s an easier adjustment to play up here, but there’s plenty of guys that play at lower levels of competition that come in this league and do really well.

Q: Did you talk to Nick Saban about him?

A: We talked to everybody about him. Our scouts have talked to people. We saw him at the pro day. We saw him at the combine. We interviewed him, so we’ve done our homework on him.

Q: His last college game wasn’t his best.

A: I can’t remember what his last college game was like. Nobody plays a good game every week, I don’t think. We don’t penalize guys for having one bad game. He’s had a lot more good games than bad games for us.

Q: Is there a skill that stands out for him?

A: What really stood out to me was that they used him all over the place. They asked him to do a lot and that was very attractive to me because he lines up all over the place. They asked him to make calls, make checks and they used him in a variety of ways and that was very attractive to see a guy with so much versatility and how they use him. I liked that about him.

Q: Where does it rank on the priority list to gain back a pick later in the draft?

A: We’ll see how things unfold. We might get an opportunity to get some picks back. We’ll see. In the middle of the draft, it’s pick to pick with how things unfold for you. We’ll see how things unfold and we’ll play it that way.

Q: A lot has been made about his tackling prowess and being a hard-hitter. Do you see him as a guy who can cover tight ends?

A: Yeah. They used him in a lot of different ways. They used him down in the box. You see him go out there on slot receivers at times in their defense. He has cover skills. He’s a physical player. He can play in the box. He can play back on the hash. He can play back deep in the middle. He’s very versatile.

Q: If Landon Collins was not available, would you have been just as aggressive to get the 33rd pick?

A: I don’t know that, but if we couldn’t get this deal done, we were very confident that we were going to get a good player with our pick if we stayed at 40. We were going to get a very good player right there, but we thought it was in our interest to be aggressive to go after the safety in light of our safety situation to get a very good player who can compete for that job.

Q: Are you trying to get another draft pick in the second round?

A: We’ll see. You never know what will happen and we’ll just play it as each pick unfolds.

Q: Do you have expectations for the rest of the current safety group in light of this draft pick?

A: I expect all of those guys to come in and compete like crazy and see who’s the winner for the job. That’s what I expect. I expect all of them to come in and really compete. I think there will be some good competition for that position and we’ll continue to upgrade it as we go along.

Q: Can Landon Collins and Nat Berhe coexist as two safeties?

A: We’ll see. Whoever wins the job, that’s up to Steve Spagnuolo and Coach Coughlin to figure out.  I’m just trying to provide them with some good choices to choose from.

MEDIA Q&A WITH VICE PRESIDENT OF PLAYER EVALUATION MARC ROSS: (Video)

Q: Did you really like [Landon] Collins?

A: Of course, we did. We went and got him.

Q: Did you suggest the trade?

A: We talked about it last night. We de-brief and we look at our board and we see who is sticking out there. Let’s make something happen here.

Q: What is it about Collins that made you feel that way?

A: Landon is the consummate football player. This guy is smart. He is tough. He is physical. He carries himself like a pro since the day he got to Alabama. One of the best interviews at the Combine that we have had. This guy is going to bring an attitude and maturity, not only to our defensive backfield, but to the whole defense. This guy will be a leader for us. He was that for Alabama and we think he can do the same thing for us.

Q: What was it about the interview that impressed you?

A: He had an air of confidence about him. Very mature. He blew us away talking about the football aspects of it. That is what we do. We talk to him a little bit and then we put him on the film. He blew us away with his total package – his personality, his maturity, his confidence and then his knowledge of football.

Q: Have you sensed that he has a chip on his shoulder because he believed he would go in the first round?

A: Yeah. This guy has been a highly publicized, highly decorated player from high school all the way through [his time] at Alabama and this year in the draft. A lot of the mock drafts had him really high. I am sure he felt he was worthy of being a first round pick. After last night, I don’t know if you guys saw his tweet, which basically said he is not going let that define him of him not getting drafted in the first round. We talked to him about that and this guy is coming to prove that he is the best safety in the draft and one of the best football players in the draft, no matter where he gets taken.

Q: Why did he fall?

A: Just circumstances. I can’t answer that. I would think that his label of him being a box safety. Some people may have gotten scared away. He didn’t blow anybody away at the Combine with some of the gym numbers, which again scares teams away, but if you go back to the tape and watch this guy and take his whole body of work into account, then we felt he was first round worthy.

Q: Was this one of the scenarios that you go over that you thought had a chance of unfolding this way?

A: Throughout the week he was – you kind of think in your mind, alright second round, who is going to be around and you discount certain guys. You just put them away. He was one of those guys that we thought would be gone, so we weren’t really thinking he would be around the second go around.

Q: Did you have him as a first round pick?

A: He was up there. He was in our first row.

Q: When you see a safety with 103 tackles, is he that active or are people getting funneled to him?

A: No. If you know anything about Alabama, they have some other talented players. They are not funneling just to him. He gets to the football. He has excellent instincts and he is aggressive running to the ball. For a safety, those are key elements. You have to see it and then you have to react to it. Some guys can see it and they don’t want to react to it. Some guys can’t see it and they can start going once they finally do see it. This guy sees it fast and he reacts fast and he goes aggressively to the ball. That is why he has so many tackles and he is always involved. The way [Alabama] uses him, he plays everywhere on their defense. He knows where to line up. He gets everyone else lined up. He just has a nose for the football.

Q: Coach Coughlin said he was anxious to get a defensive player… How do you view that as a personnel staff member?

A: Coach wants everybody. We have to stick to the board and stick to what we do. We meet and talk about things for a reason and we rank the guys and stack them for a reason. He wants a pass rusher. He wants this. We will get the best players up there.

Q: Were most of the guys you liked at the beginning of tonight defensive guys?

A: Yeah, sure, there were some defensive guys.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN: (Video)

Opening Statement: We had a real nice relationship between a need and an outstanding player. A guy that was in the first round. It has already been said, Jerry [Reese] mentioned it, I’m sure, about how motivated this young man is. [It] couldn’t be a better situation for us. Everybody thinks of him as a solid hitter. They kept saying over and over on television about being in the box. That will be a part of it, but you can’t play in this level as a safety without having to defend the middle of the field. I think he will be able to do that. Many times you see on film [Collins] is down low and doesn’t get in a position where he can see the entire field. The deep of the deepest is going to be a factor, no doubt. He is very skilled and very motivated. He will help us on special teams. He will compete for a starting job. He is a smart guy. He has contributed at Alabama in many different ways, as a leader and as a guy in the secondary making the calls. We are excited about the pick.

Q: How difficult was it having to give up two picks? Was this a long discussion last night into today?

A: There was a lot of time during the day today to discuss a lot of things. Everyone was evaluated. Whether it was the top half of the second or the bottom half of the first, those left. Decisions were made in terms of the quality of the player and the need position. It went from there.

Q: Where were you on the confidence scale when you went home last night in regards to ending up with [Collins]?

A: There were any number of players that probably could have ended up in that category. I was anxious that it would be a defensive player. It turned out to be that way, but anxious not until this afternoon.

Q: Is this dealing with a position of strength in some ways? You guys had to make a big move and give up draft picks to fill up this pretty glaring need at safety?

A: I don’t know. I think it is a fair deal for both teams. Tennessee is obviously looking for picks to go along with their first round choice. If you want something and it is above you, you have to give it up. I thought it was a fair deal.

Q: How important was it to you to get another guy at the safety position?

A: Very important. Just like it always is when you feel like you want to increase the number of people to compete for the job. It is very important. The more competitive the situation is, the better off it is. I am happy about that.

Q: What do you mean when you say Collins is motivated?

A: He thought he would go in the first round. He needs to come in here and prove to everybody that he should have. That is a good situation. Any time we’ve have had that one, it has turned out pretty well for us.

Q: Like who else?

A: No, do your own research.

Q: Do you get the impression [that Collins is motivated] just from speaking with him?

A: I wouldn’t have brought it up if I didn’t. It was mentioned a couple of times. He mentioned it himself, according to the people that look at the Twitter business.

Q: If he gets bigger, could he be a linebacker?

A: He is a safety, thank you.

Q: Given his motivation, do you think he can develop into a young leadership voice in the locker room?

A: Yes, I do, but you are not going to see that right away. You’ll see it on the field, but you may not see it in terms of that. A rookie comes in here and he has a lot of work to do before he gets to that. You have to prove. You do it by how hard you work and you lead from the front – first in line [and so on]. If he does that on the field, he will establish a platform and that platform can be developed going forward.

MEDIA Q&A WITH COLLINS: (Giants.com Interview)

Q: You sound like you’re very motivated to show people what you can do?

A: Definitely, I’m very motivated.

Q: What was the whole experience like for you?

A: Yesterday was a disappointment for me missing out on the first round, but other than that, I’ll use it as a stepping stone and use it as motivation to showcase that I’m ready and ready to play and ready to step on the field and do what I’ve been doing since I was playing at four years old.

Q: Do you have preference as to which safety spot you play?

A: All over. I can play sides of the field, strong or free. It doesn’t matter. I’ve been doing it in college. It does not matter which safety I play.

Q: What were your expectations coming in?

A: As a kid, my dream was always was to go in the first round and walk across the stage and be a first round draft pick. But today I flew home to spend some time with my family and watch the draft with them because I only had a few of my family members up there and I wanted to see a lot of my family members and give them kisses and hugs. I just wanted to be around them and then my cousin and I took a drive to the lake and we got the phone call driving back to the house.

Q: Why did you leave Chicago? Did you think it was going to take a little more time for your name to get called?

A: I just wanted to come home and spend some time with my family because I haven’t seen them for a while. I had been training, being all over the country.

Q: Between the time the draft ended yesterday and you were drafted today, did you talk to the Giants at all?

A: Not at all. The last time the Giants and I spoke was at the combine.

Q: Did you hear about the Giants trying to move up to get you?

A: No. The Giants called me right after the draft had started. I could hear it in the background that they traded up and everything. It was a fantastic feeling.

Q: Does that put more pressure on you knowing they gave up quite a bit to select you?

A: Not just them moving up, but the player that I am, I’m a baller. All I’ve been doing is just balling. Once I touch the field, I’m a different animal. That’s what they’re going to get. That motor is in my blood and in my body.

Q: Were you aware of their need at safety?

A: I knew since I entered the draft. I knew they were in need of a safety, but it’s been a while since I knew that.

Q: A couple coaches said you blew them away in your interview with the team. Did you realize you had a good interview with them?

A: No. I was being myself. I was being the person I’ve always been and it’s the mantra that I have. It’s always taken me a long way. If they loved me… they picked me up. That’s all I can say.

Q: Is this the first time in your football career that you’ve been overlooked?

A: I was hurt overall. I was hurt because it was just my dream. My dream was to always go in the first round, so I was hurt more than anything.

Q: What went into the decision to go home from Chicago? Did you think about staying an extra night?

A: Definitely. It was a hard decision because it was like should I stay? I can go early. And then I was thinking about my family because if I do go early, I’ll fly back into town. So many thoughts were going through my mind, so I was definitely just trying to get answers from my family that was up there to see what I should do. We then decided to come home so we could be together and when I do have to leave, I could leave them and give them hugs and kisses.

Q: Was it tough walking out of there last night?

A: It was tough. It was definitely tough, but I walked out of there with my head held high because I know what kind of capabilities that I have as a player and whatever team gets me, I have a chip on my shoulder to prove why I should have been a first round candidate. That’s definitely what I will showcase when I start playing this upcoming season.

Q: How well do you know Odell Beckham Jr.?

A: We know each other pretty well. I met him my freshman year. He was a sophomore when I met him. They were up in Alabama chilling with us during their bye week and then we stayed in touch since then. We’re cool.

Q: Have you heard from him since you’ve been drafted?

A: I have to check my messages. I have over 200 messages right now, so I definitely don’t know who’s texting me right now.

Q: How much better do you think you can be with this chip on your shoulder?

A: That’s in God’s hands. All I know is that I’m going to be a dominant player when I touch the field.

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3rd Round – DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa, 6’4”, 267 pounds, 4.59, UCLA
Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA Bruins (August 30, 2014)

Owamagbe Odighizuwa – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SCOUTING REPORT: Odighizuwa is an extremely well-built (6’3”, 267 pounds) and athletic defensive end with long arms and huge hands. He plays with power and strength and is a good run defender. He is a versatile player who can play inside in pass rush situations. Odighizuwa flashes explosive pass rush ability (4.59 40-yard dash) but he needs more technique work in that area. Odighizuwa is a hard working, competitive team leader with a non-stop motor. He missed the 2013 season due to two hip labrum surgeries.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE: (Video)

Opening Statement: He’s a defensive end. Great athlete. Big and fast. Long arms. Big Hands. Really a clean player, captain. There are a lot of things to like about him. He plays hard. We think there’s a lot of upside. When you start picking guys in the third round, those are guys that have some things they have to get better at, some developmental qualities that they have to get better at, but this guy, all of his gymnastic stuff he did at the combine were really off the charts. You rarely see guys with this kind of athletic ability with respect with the gymnastic numbers show. There’s a lot of things to like about him. We just think we can get a guy in the third round who’s going to be a core special teams player while he’s learning how to adjust to the game up here. He’s a big, powerful guy. An amazing body. We’re hoping to hit on this guy as a pass-rusher. He can play inside. Our coaches like that he can go inside and play. We think he’ll be a matchup problem as an inside rusher as well.

Q: He will be a defensive end for you?

A: He’s a defensive end.

Q: Any concern with the hip surgery he had?

A: We talked about that, but our doctors think he’s fine and they cleared him, so we picked him. That definitely was a concern for us, but he has no restrictions at this point.

Q: Would you have considered him with the 40th pick in the second round if you did not trade up?

A: We had some more guys.

Q: You were or were not ready to talk about him at that pick?

A: We were not ready to talk about him at that point.

Q: You talked about his personality. He was a captain at UCLA.

A: He was a captain. He really blew us away in the interview process at the combine. He was really good. With the video stuff, he knew all the schemes and where people lined up and played. He was impressive that way. He has already graduated. He’s very smart. You guys will like him. He’ll be a media guy. You guys will like him.

Q: You’ve taken fliers on athletes in the draft.

A: I wouldn’t call him a flier because our defensive coaches say there’s a lot of things to like about him. They really like him. I wouldn’t call him a flier. Justin Tuck was a third round pick and he ended up being a pretty good player for us. We’re hoping that he can be in that same mold to come in and like Justin started out playing a lot on special teams and develop into a really good player. We think this guy can do the same thing.

Q: What kind of a pass-rusher is he?

A: He had six sacks. He’s a hard rusher. I think he can learn a lot of things with the pro coaching up here. I don’t think he’s an ultra pass-rusher at this point, but I think he has the tools to be a really good pass rusher.

Q: What do you see as his top skill?

A: I think he equally plays the run and plays the pass. I think he’s a good player both ways. With respect to what his top skill is, I’m not sure what his top skill is. His compete and his effort is what his top skill will be until he really learns how to hone his skills and play the type of technique that we like up here for the New York Giants.

MEDIA Q&A WITH VICE PRESIDENT OF PLAYER EVALUATION MARC ROSS: (Video)

Q: What about him did you personally see that you liked?

A: First thing you see when you see the guy on the field, he is built. He looks like an NFL football player. He is strapped up, put together. At this point, he is a big guy that plays hard. He plays physical. He is strong. Snap to whistle, he is going after it. He is a team captain. He loves ball. He loves playing. That is what we are looking for. Premier position. He has rushed from the inside and outside. That gives you some flexibility there. He has special teams temperament. He is a great young man.

Q: What kind of a pass rusher is he?

A: He is more of a power guy on the outside. They put him inside, so he uses his quickness a little more inside. He is actually more accomplished inside right now than outside. Outside, he is a power guy – let me try to run you over. He has some sneaky quickness inside, so they do both with him. That was definitely attractive to us and our defensive coaches.

Q: Did having [Coach Spagnuolo] here change anything that you were looking for in defensive players?

A: No, not really. It has been about the same. We look for productive guys that play hard and are good athletes. Spags has been here before, so when we first started meetings, nothing changed. Once we started meetings, we just jumped back in. The familiarity with him was great, but there was nothing that changed or he said, ‘Hey, I need this since I have been gone’ or ‘we need this, we need that.’ It has all pretty much been the same.

Q: You said before Coach Coughlin wanted a pass rusher… Did it just so happen that you ended up with a pass rusher?

A: It just happened to end up that way. We knew [Coughlin] liked him. I spent a lot of time with Tom after the season, once we do the Combine, pro days and all that. We spent a lot of time together. I have a good idea of the guys he really likes. Again, we are on the same page, Tom, Jerry [Reese] and I, and the scouts and coaches. We all talk it out and hash it out together and have a good synergy going on with everybody. There are really no surprises or guys jumping on the table pushing for people. We talk things out. We are prepared. We feel like we come to good decisions as a unit and as a team.

Q: Did you feel like you needed to come away from the draft with a pass rusher?

A: It is always good to get ends. If you can go into a draft and get a defensive end who everybody likes, then that is a good goal. We never set out and have a checklist of players that we say we have to get. We set the board up by the players we like. We hope they fill a position of need and value. We just attack in that kind of way.

Q: How would you describe how the draft has gone so far overall?

A: I think the biggest thing that jumped out is all three of these guys bring a physical toughness to our team. They are three different positions. A passion, a toughness, a physicalness at their position. I think that is the common thread with the three of them.

Q: Do you see anything there with him and Justin Tuck?

A: It never crossed my mind.

Q: Could you see him moving inside and being a successful pass rusher?

A: Yeah, he did that there. That is one of the things we like. We have been successful moving guys around and we think he brings us that versatility. [Robert] Ayers can do it, [Odighizuwa] can do it, so hopefully we have some versatility with a few of those guys.

Q: Did [Odighizuwa] rush from the inside at UCLA?

A: Yeah.

Q: What makes him good at it?

A: He has sneaky quickness inside. He has enough power and strength to power through the gaps. That is how he beat guys.

Q: Have you seen signs from studying him last year of medical conditions?

A: No, none at all. We have a great medical staff. Those guys go through the ringer with that. There were no limitations on the field, workout wise. The guy is a beast working out. It didn’t limit him at all.

Q: Is this the kind of guy profile-wise who pops out to you?

A: Yeah, at this point in the draft, when you are going through the checklist and talking about players. You say, ‘He is big. He is fast. He is a good athlete. He plays hard. He is smart. He is a captain. Okay, he is productive.’ You are going down all these things and saying, ‘Alright, in the third round, these are a lot of attractive attributes that he has.’ This is the kind of guy you need to try to work with. Throw him in the mix. He has the special teams temperament right away.  Hopefully he will get on the field and contribute in some sort of packages versus the run and pass. At this point in the draft, a guy with all these positive traits is very attractive.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN: (Video)

Opening Statement: This guy is a great effort player. When I got on the phone he was crying. He was so happy, so excited. He brings a lot to the table. His testing, his gym numbers out at the Combine are out of sight. 11 [inch] hands. Strong, very, very strong. We think he can rush from the inside or the outside. We think he can play certainly a 9 and a 6-I on first and second down. I am not sure he will be a five-technique. He is a strong player. Gives great effort. He is fast and can play on special teams. He will be a contributor that way. He gives us that force that could be a left-end. I am not going to nail that down just yet. He certainly can play on that side. We are excited to have him.

Q: Do you see any Justin Tuck comparisons?

A: I certainly hope the results are that.

Q: What is it about [Odighizuwa’s] game that you like?

A: Effort. I like the effort. I like to see a guy that just goes and goes and goes. He seems to have that kind of a motor. I like that. He plays hard.

Q: How important is that physicality that you guys talk about?

A: Very important. What I always talk about – you have to win the line of scrimmage with the defensive line and the offensive line. I think this guy gives us a chance to get back into that business, run or pass.

Q: Can he do that right away?

A: He is going to have to learn. He is relatively new to the game. He is going to have to learn the nuances. I just don’t want to slow him down while we are teaching him. We will try to anticipate those types of things. He is smart. He has graduated. He has been a captain. He played in a sophisticated system.

MEDIA Q&A WITH ODIGHIZUWA:

Q: Tom Coughlin said you were emotional when he spoke to you today. Can you explain what that call meant to you?

A: I was definitely very emotional. Just finally getting my name called and knowing that I’m going to be living out my dream and working and playing professional football was a very emotional moment for me.

Q: Is this around where you thought you would go and was there any indication it would be to the Giants?

A: Honestly, I wasn’t sure which team it was, but a lot of people were saying different things and I was just waiting it out to see who was going to call my name. But anything goes on draft day, so I was just excited to get my name called.

Q: Do you think your hip issues in 2013 caused your stock to drop a little bit?

A: I’m sure that could have played a part in it. There could be a lot of different factors. You just never know what teams are thinking when it comes to draft day. Regardless of what it was, that’s behind me. I’m looking forward to just being a part of this organization and competing and getting ready to play football.

Q: Where do you think your best position is going to be on that defensive line?

A: Honestly, I think I can play anywhere that the coaches want me to play, whether it’s strongside or weakside defensive end or even rushing as a three technique on passing downs. I think my versatility in what I bring to the table is an upside for what the coach wants for the defense and for the team.

Q: Could you describe your own game and your strengths?

A: I’m a relentless player. I’m physical. My athletic ability allows me to do a lot of different things, like I was saying with my versatility. I think that’s what really helps me as a football player.

Q: How much do you know about Justin Tuck and what he did here?

A: I know he’s a great player who was drafted out of Notre Dame in the (third) round and I know that I was watching him my sophomore year in high school when they were playing New England in the Super Bowl and the Giants’ defensive line inspired me and made me want to be a better defensive line with Osi Umenyiora, with Justin Tuck, I believe number 94 (Mathias Kiwanuka, who did not play in Super Bowl 42). But I know Justin Tuck is a great player. He’s really, really physical and that’s a guy that I try to learn some things from, but I know a lot about the Giants’ defensive line. I could go all day with what I know about their defensive line play. With Michael Strahan, obviously he’s a Hall of Fame player. He won a Super Bowl. He went out on a bang, so to speak. The last year he played, they won a Super Bowl, but he had a great career with the Giants. He was drafted out of Texas (Southern). I believe it was in the (second) round, which makes me put things in perspective with me. For me as a competitor, I want to be drafted as high as possible, it doesn’t work out but my thing is a lot of great players come in different rounds and make an impact. I know Michael Strahan was one of them. I know Osi Umenyiora was one of them. I know Justin Tuck is another guy. I know the Giants have a great tradition with drafting great defensive linemen. Jason Pierre-Paul is one of them. I looked up to him coming out of (South Florida). Is it South Florida? I can’t remember. I’m very excited about this opportunity that I get to learn. I think it’s going to help me develop as a football player. My goal is to just be the best that I can be and take my game to the next level. You’ve got to start somewhere and learn from guys who’ve been there and done that. I’m excited about it. I think it’s a great opportunity for me.

Q: How did you get to know so much from the Giants out on the West Coast?

A: It may sound weird, but I just love football. It’s just something that I like to study to get better as a player. When I tell you that the Giants’ defensive line inspired me as a player, it’s no joke. The way they played is really what sparked my thirst for wanting to be better as a d-lineman. I remember in college watching the year Osi Umenyiora had six sacks against the Philadelphia Eagles. I watched his highlights over and over again. I watched his drills that he did with the d-line coach who coaches guys out of Atlanta. There was a video of him on YouTube and I was watching it over and over again. I was doing every drill that he did. The list goes on and on. I was watching Michael Strahan and how he plays. I studied everything about the Giants defensive line. I studied Jason Pierre-Paul the year he went off. They know their defensive line.

Q: You get to play under defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. How excited are you for that opportunity?

A: I’m extremely excited. I’ve been waiting to be in this situation where I can just be a defensive end getting after the quarterback, playing physical against the run, just playing that traditional four down over, under defense. I’ve been looking forward to that for a very long time.

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Mykkele Thompson, Texas Longhorns (October 27, 2012)

Mykkele Thompson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

5th Round – S Mykkele Thompson, 6’2”, 191 pounds, 4.48, University of Texas

SCOUTING REPORT: Mykkele Thompson is a former quarterback and wide receiver converted to cornerback and then safety. Thompson is a  bit of a corner-safety ‘tweener. He is tall (6’2”) but thin (191 pounds) with good speed (sub-4.5) but not ideal quickness for corner. Thompson is raw and still learning the safety position, but he really improved as a player his senior season. Versatile, he can play safety, corner, and nickel corner. Thompson is a decent tackler, but he is not a physical player. He has good range, but does not make many plays on the football and has given up some big pass plays at the collegiate level. Thompson is smart with very good intangibles. He is a good special teams player who blocked three punts in college.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE: (Video)

Opening Statement: Our last three picks… Mykkele Thompson, safety from Texas. They used him in a lot of ways. They used him as a free safety. They used him as a nickel and they used him as a corner. We like the versatility about him. We project him more as a free safety because he can really run. He has range on the back end. Another thing that stuck out for me about this kid is that he’s a good tackler. He’s not really a smash-mouth hitter like Landon Collins, but he’s calm. You see some guys get in space and they miss tackles. This guy was a guy who got people down to give you another chance to play defense. I liked that about him.

Q: There’s a story on Mykkele Thompson and his contact lenses, which led to a drop in his production last year. Have you heard about it?

A: No.

Q: What makes you think Thompson can play free safety as opposed to playing closer to the box?

A: Because he’s not a guy that goes down in the box like Landon Collins does. He’s more of a coverage safety. He can really run. He’s played corner. He plays in the slot sometimes as a nickel. He plays in the back end. We project him as a free safety. Those are the kind of guys that you play on the back end and he’s about as heavy as Collins as well.

Q: Thompson said he almost expected to be an undrafted free agent. When you have a guy like that, do you contemplate taking a risk and waiting until later in the draft even if he’s at the top of your board?

A: It was a position that we talked about. He was in the group of players we were talking about with the skill set we were looking for. It fit what we wanted and we drafted him.

Q: It doesn’t sound like he’s going to come in with a chip on his shoulder.

A: Maybe not. You never know. If he talks to you guys, he’ll have a chip on his shoulder pretty quickly.

MEDIA Q&A WITH VICE PRESIDENT OF PLAYER EVALUATION MARC ROSS: (Video)

Q: What did you see in Mykkele Thompson that nobody else saw?

A: We told him when he was here that we were going to draft him. I guess he wasn’t paying attention. Just jokes. We did have him in here on a visit and he was really smart on the board. Playing-wise, he is a competitor, he is really smart and they played him in a bunch of different positions. He was in the slot, free and strong [safety spots]. He can handle that in game. He can run. The kid can run. He is not your classic corner, not your classic safety, but we think he can provide versatility. More of a free safety for us.

Q: Does that scare you off from a player if no one else shows interest in him?

A: Not at all. We trust our scouts. We trust our coaches. We trust our process and what the media writes or what other teams do [in regards to], if they like him or don’t like him, has very little to no bearing on what we do.

Q: Is that something you even know if other teams have interest?

A: Yeah, when we bring him in and talk to him and our scouts call guys during the week and ask what visits have you had and who has brought you in and who has worked you out. We keep a tab total of guys and the teams who may be interested. Our pro [personnel] guys do a great job of trying to track media things in the different cities and the players. We have a good idea.

Q: Did you think you could wait for someone like him or because he was on the top of your board…?

A: At times we think we can get him as a free agent, but if everybody feels strongly about the player at a certain time, then we just take him.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN: (Video)

Opening Statement: We felt like in [Mykkele] Thompson we had a guy that actually will go very well with Landon Collins. Thompson has played corner, as you know, the majority of his collegiate career. He is a good cover guy and he is fast. He can play in the centerfield position. There is no way around it, you are going to have to bring him down to the line of scrimmage on occasion. As we go forward, if we could create it, we would create it the other way around. It also has been said that Thompson can play some nickel. We do have some guys that can play over the slot. We will just have to play that out as we work.

Q: Would you be okay with two rookies starting at safety?

A: Let’s see how that plays out. We are glad to have those young men here and competing for that very situation, but let’s let it play out.

MEDIA Q&A WITH THOMPSON:

Q: Did this catch you by surprise getting drafted by the Giants in the fifth round?

A: It was a surprise to me. I don’t even know how to explain it right now.

Q: What’s surprising to you about it?

A: Just the place. It sounds right. This was the only team I took a visit up to. I’m just glad they believed in my ability and picked me up.

Q: What was the visit like? Who did you meet with and what was the impression you came away with?

A: I met with everybody. Of course, I was mainly with the defensive coaches and the defensive back coaches. It’s just a great vibe around there. They all really care and they want to win. I got a positive vibe from every one of them.

Q: Is this where you expected to go in the draft or did you have a different feeling heading into this process?

A: Honestly, I had no idea where I was going to go. Obviously, free agency was a possibility. Me thinking that I didn’t put that good of numbers up this past season, I thought free agency was going to be the main goal probably.

Q: Was there a reason for the numbers you put up this season?

A: There was no reason for it. I didn’t have too much action this past season.

Q: What do you bring to the NFL?

A: Honestly, I’ll play wherever they want me to. In college I played every defensive back position, so wherever they want me to go, that’s where I’ll play, and, of course, special teams is really big.

Q:  Is it your versatility or something else that you might say is your best quality?

A: My versatility, of course, and, of course, my length and my speed for my size.

Q: Do you know anything about the Giants’ second round pick, Landon Collins from Alabama?

A: I have seen a couple of games on him and of course I have seen his stats and everything.

Q: What were you doing today? Were you preparing for the possibility of being drafted or just taking it as it goes?

A: Of course, that is what I wanted to happen, but I was just here with my family. Nothing too big. We are just relaxing on the couch. I had no clue when or if my name would get picked, so I was just waiting by the phone.

Q: What was the reaction when the phone rang?

A: At first I just thought I was getting a text message. My phone has been blowing up. When I saw the New York area code, I was shocked, and I looked up at the TV and saw that [the Giants] had the next pick. I don’t even know how to explain it right now.

Q: Did you live in Italy very long as a kid?

A: My dad was in the Air Force. I lived in Italy for a couple years, but nothing that I can remember.

Q: When you started wearing contact lenses did that help you when playing football?

A: Yes.

Q: When did that start and how much of a difference did that make?

A: That started probably towards the beginning of this past season. Of course seeing better is always a one-up in your game. With my performance, it seemed like it helped.

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6th Round – WR Geremy Davis, 6’2”, 216 pounds, 4.47, University of Connecticut
Geremy Davis, Connecticut Huskies (September 6, 2014)

Geremy Davis – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SCOUTING REPORT: Davis is a big (6’2”, 216 pounds) wideout with excellent hands. Davis is well-built with long arms and very strong. While Davis has decent timed speed (sub-4.5), he’s more of a possession-type receiver than deep threat. He lacks ideal quickness and agility and may have problems separating from defensive backs at the NFL level. Davis has a good catch radius, adjusts well to the football, and will make the contested catch. He lacks run-after-the-catch creativity. Team leader.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE: (Video)

Opening Statement: Our sixth round pick… Geremy Davis, wide receiver from Connecticut. He’s a big, possession-type of receiver. He actually ran fast. He’s a height, weight, speed guy. He ran fast, but he doesn’t play to that time speed as much. We think he’s more of a possession receiver, first down-friendly-to-the-quarterback kind of player. He plays inside. He plays outside. He’s a big kid. He has the right attitude to play on special teams. The guy can use his body to post people up, jump balls, good route runner. We like him like that.

Q: How much do you think Geremy Davis’ injury affected his numbers last year?

A: That may have had something to do with it, but we’re kind of looking at him in how he played this past season. He’s a good football player. He kind of reminds you of Jason Avant. I think that was a name somebody brought up in our meeting. One of those kind of guys that could be your fourth, fifth receiver, play on special teams, has size, can block, good route runner, and catch the ball nice.

Q: Why is there a disparity from Geremy Davis’ combine speed and game speed?

A: He ran a fast time. I think he ran a 4.51, but we think he’s probably more like a 4.55, 4.56; those kind of guys. But you look at the time and this guy has got really good speed. He doesn’t quite play that fast for us, but he ran it and it’s on his card.

Q: Could Davis be a potential gunner?

A: He could be a gunner. We definitely think he’s a core special teams player. These kind of guys get jerseys because they play on special teams on Sunday.

MEDIA Q&A WITH VICE PRESIDENT OF PLAYER EVALUATION MARC ROSS: (Video)

Q: Do you think of [Geremy Davis] as someone who could fill a role like David Tyree did here?

A: You mean catch balls off his helmet? This guy is a big guy who is strong, competitive and more of a possession type receiver, even though he ran really fast at his pro day. He is more of a possession type. He catches the ball. A big guy like that is going to make it as your fourth receiver and special teams player if you want to say the Tyree role. Preston Parker did it for us last year. You need those utility backup guys to help you win. Be ready. Be prepared. If you get in the game, make a catch and play on all the core special teams. Every team needs has to have those kinds of guys to win and that is what we think this guy can do.

Q: Do you like the [Jason] Avant comparison with Davis?

A: Yeah, one of our scouts, Ryan Jones, compared him to Avant. That was a good one. Hopefully he can be an ‘Avant.’

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN: (Video)

Opening Statement: In Geremy Davis, we took a big wide receiver that also is going to be a contributor on special teams. You had a guy whose production isn’t the greatest. I am not going to – you guys know more about the collegiate numbers than I do and the different teams. Davis is a big, fast wide receiver who catches the ball well. I don’t know if he is going to separate the way some of people that we have would, but he is going to contribute on special teams as well.

MEDIA Q&A WITH DAVIS:

Q:  Did you think the Giants might be interested?

A: I know they are close to Connecticut, but I never really heard from them. During this whole process, you never know how teams work this thing out or if they show interest or they might be interested. There is so much that goes on.  I am just happy to see my name and do the best work I can for the Giants.

Q: What do you think you can bring to this team?

A: From a receiving standpoint, I am a big, physical guy. I am not afraid to open up big blocks for running backs and other receivers. I am not afraid to go across the middle. I have great hands. From a special teams standpoint, I can use my physicality on the front line for kickoff returns or blocking for the punt, running down on the kickoff and making a tackle. I am just going to give my all.

Q: You went from over 1,000 yards [receiving] as a junior to 700 yards this past year… What was the reason for that?

A: I missed two games with a high ankle sprain [on my left leg]. Then when I hurt my ankle, it was in the beginning of the ECU game so I pretty much missed three games. Prior to that, I was on pace for another year like I had, but unfortunately I had the injuries. I came back strong at the pro day, Combine and all-star games. I am happy that the Giants realized it.

Q: Can you make a catch like the one Odell Beckham Jr. made?

A: I always practice those muscle memory catches on the JUGS machine. [Beckham Jr.] is a great talent and I am happy to be working with him and a lot of the other guys like Victor Cruz and [Rueben] Randle. I just hope I can get under those guys’ wings and contribute on special teams and eventually at the wide receiver position.

Q: What do you think you can do on special teams?

A: I am a pretty big guy. Six-two, 215 [pounds]. I am a physical receiver. I am going to run down there and make tackles. I can be an in man on punt protecting for the punt. Front line on kickoff return. I am going to use all those traits that I have as a receiver on special teams.

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6th Round – OG Bobby Hart, 6’5”, 329 pounds, 5.67, Florida State University
Bobby Hart, Florida State Seminoles (August 30, 2014)

Bobby Hart – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SCOUTING REPORT: Hart played right tackle at Florida State but projects to guard at the pro level. He is very young – will turn 21 in August. Hart has excellent size (6’5”, 329 pounds) and good strength, but he lacks ideal overall athleticism and feet. Hart needs to play with better technique and leverage, but he is able to muscle and maul in the run game.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE: (Video)

Opening Statement: Our seventh round pick… Bobby Hart, guard from Florida State. Actually he played tackle a lot, but we project him as a guard up here for us. He has played a lot of football. I think he’s only 20 years old. I don’t want to say really long arms, but his arms are 33 inches. He has good arm length. He’s played a lot of ball at a high level of competition for Florida State. I see guys like that with his skill set. We see them every Sunday playing in the National Football League. But we do think he’s a guard and not a tackle.

MEDIA Q&A WITH VICE PRESIDENT OF PLAYER EVALUATION MARC ROSS: (Video)

Q: Would you have noticed a player like Bobby Hart if he had not come from such a prestigious school?

A: Yeah, I think so because the guy is 6-6 and 330 pounds. Those guys just don’t walk down the street and you don’t notice them. We would have noticed him. He is a big, competitive kid. He is smart. He is very young. He started as a freshman at Florida State, and he is still only 20-21 years old. He has played a lot of football for a young player at a high level, obviously for a winning program, so those are the things you have to think that he is not going to come here and be intimidated by anything. He is going to come here and come to work.

Q: What makes you view him as an inside prospect?

A: He’s more of a box-area athlete. He is not a nifty mover. He is a big, massive, mauling guard type of profile as opposed to a tackle with movement. He has excellent length and strength for an inside player.

Q: Did he play any inside?

A: Maybe when he was younger, but he has been a right tackle the last couple of years.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN: (Video)

Opening Statement: In Bobby Hart we took a guy that has played four straight years for a team that won a national championship. Truly a football university that has been outstanding in collegiate football for long, long time. A hard-nosed outfit. This guy has played a lot of football. There are some things we will have to do to shape exactly how that works with him, in terms the guard or tackle position. He has shown the ability to play both. We’ll establish that when we get him in here.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HART:

Q: The Giants project you playing guard at this level. When was the last time you played the position?

A: I played guard my sophomore year and then in practice a little bit this year. Guard is fine with me. Whatever they need me to play, that’s what I’m willing to play.

Q: What are the differences you find between the two positions? Was it an easy transition when you moved from tackle to guard?

A: Pretty easy. With any new position there are new challenges, but I’m up for all of the challenges ahead.

Q: How much did you talk to the Giants prior to the draft? Did you have any idea you would land with the Giants?

A: I had no idea I’d be landing here. I talked to them in Indianapolis briefly. It was definitely a shock, but I’m definitely happy to be here.

Q: What about all the big games you’ve played in at Florida State helps prepare you for the NFL?

A: It definitely has helped. We’re definitely battle-tested there. We’ve been through a lot. Just keeping my composure in those games we had.

Q: What are your thoughts on Jameis Winston?

A: Jameis is a great guy. I’m pretty sure he’d be successful wherever he went just by the time he puts into the game and his passion for it. Wherever he went, whether it was first or wherever, I know he’ll be successful.

Q: Do you know Ereck Flowers?

A: Not personally. Just playing against him and talking to him after the game. Nothing personal.

Q: How would you describe yourself as a player?

A: A very smart player. Tough player. Just a player that’s going to get the job done.

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Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports

RB Akeem Hunt, 5’10”, 190 pounds, 4.40, Purdue University (Video)
Hunt is a dynamic, diminutive running back who is a threat to score every time he touches the football as a runner, receiver, or returner. Not many running backs his size make it in the NFL, but he is an explosive player. Hunt is extremely fast and quick. He is elusive, but not powerful. He is easily tackled due to his size. Hunt has very good hands and has been used in a variety of pass-receiving roles, including split out wide and on screens. Hunt is probably too small to be effective in picking up blitzes and therefore faces an uphill battle to be a third-down back. He has excelled as a kick returner at the collegiate level. If he makes it, Hunt would be strictly a limited role player at the NFL level.

RB Kenneth Harper, 5’10”, 233 pounds, 4.64, Temple University
Harper is big back with decent speed and quickness for his size. He is more of a between-the-tackles runner with little elusiveness to his game. Harper is a well-rounded back who can block and catch the ball.

WR Ben Edwards, 5’10”, 197 pounds, 4.56, University of Richmond (Video)
Edwards was eligible to play in the NFL in 2014, but sat out the year recovering from an ACL knee injury. Edwards lacks ideal size and timed speed, but he is a quick receiver who plays faster than he times. Edwards runs very good routes, adjusts well to the football, and has good hands. He has experience playing in the slot.

TE Matt LaCosse, 6’5”, 261 pounds, 4.64, University of Illinois (Video)
LaCosse is a versatile player who has played tight end, H-Back, and fullback. LaCosse has a good frame, but needs to add bulk and get stronger. He does not get much movement as a blocker, but he works at it. LaCosse has good speed and catches the football well.

TE Will Tye, 6’2”, 262 pounds, 4.57, Stony Brook University (Video)
Tye was a Florida State transfer. Tye lacks ideal height but he is well-built athlete with very good speed for a tight end. Versatile, Tye lined up at tight end, in the backfield, and split out wide at Stony Brook University where he was a very productive receiver.

OT Sean Donnelly, 6’7”, 333 pounds, 5.48, Tulane University
Donnelly is a very tall tackle who needs to add bulk and strength. His lack of strength and power shows up in the running game as he does not generate a lot of movement in his run blocks. Donnelly has good good feet and is a solid pass protector. He has a good football temperament – tough and tenacious.

DE Brad Harrah, 6’5”, 265 pounds, 4.93, University of Cincinnati
As a senior in 2014, Harrah played in 13 games and had 32 tackles (16 solo) and 3.5 sacks.

DT Carlif Taylor, 6’2”, 319 pounds, 5.10, Southern Connecticut State University (Video)
Taylor is a raw Division-II prospect with a very nice combination of size and athletic ability. Taylor lacks ideal height, but he strong, quick, and plays with good natural leverage. Taylor hustles and plays hard.

LB Cole Farrand, 6’2”, 229 pounds, 4.75, University of Maryland
Farrand played inside linebacker at Maryland. He lacks ideal size and speed. However, he is a smart, tough, hard-working, instinctive linebacker who plays well against the run and is decent in coverage. Hard hitter and sure tackler.

LB Tony Johnson, 6’2”, 255 pounds, 4.81, Louisiana Tech University (Video)
Johnson is a big linebacker with decent overall athletic ability. As a senior, Johnson was credited with 69 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, three pass defenses, and two forced fumbles.

SS Justin Currie, 6’2”, 214 pounds, 4.63, Western Michigan University (Video)
Currie is a big safety who is better against the run than the pass. He is a good hitter and tackler. Currie is a decent athlete for his size.

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Eric’s Take on the 2015 Draft

There is a negative way and a positive way to look at the New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft class:

Negative: The Giants drafted a right tackle with a top 10 pick. They desperately drafted two safeties in a very weak draft at that position, actually spending four picks to do so. The team also drafted a defensive end with a bad hip, a wide receiver who had trouble separating from collegiate defensive backs, and a guard who can’t run.

Positive: The Giants drafted three players who many thought could have gone in the first round. In what was widely considered to be a weak draft class, the Giants drafted two immediate starters in offensive tackle Ereck Flowers and strong safety Landon Collins and possible eventual starters in defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa and free safety Mykkele Thompson.

I am going to lean towards the positive interpretation for this draft. If you told me before the draft that the Giants would come out with Flowers, Collins, and Odighizuwa, I would have said you were crazy. Even some of the most critical NYG fans were giving New York an “A” after the first two days of the draft. Day 3 left a bad taste with many, but regardless of how you feel about that day, it should not erase the fact that the Giants drafted three players who should have both an immediate and a long-term impact on the franchise.

Before we get into the pros and cons of the Giants first three players, let’s take a higher-level look at what these three players bring to the table: TOUGHNESS. Whether NYG fans want to admit it or not, the New York Giants since 2011 have not been a very tough or physical team. This is best demonstrated by their shoddy ability to run the ball and stop the run. But really, the issue has been even deeper than that. This is a team that has folded in some games after it got punched in the mouth. Ereck Flowers, Landon Collins, and Owamagbe Odighizuwa won’t put up with that shit. This team just got a lot tougher on both sides of the football. New York Giants are supposed to be tough. End of story.

Also looking at this draft from a more strategic level, two things stand out to me: (1) regardless of what the team says, the Giants drafted almost solely for need, and (2) unless one of the Day 3 picks really surprise, this may turn out to be a three-player draft.

OT Ereck Flowers, 6’6”, 329 pounds, 5.35, University of Miami

To be blunt, the team had to come out of this draft with a rookie starter on the offensive line. That’s why it was almost guaranteed that the Giants were going to draft Brandon Scherff, Ereck Flowers, Andrus Peat, or La’el Collins (pre-off-the-field issue). The Giants were clearly targeting Scherff, but were not surprised to see him drafted before they picked. Unless WR Amari Cooper somehow landed in their lap, it was going to be Scherff or Flowers. Now the big question here is were the Giants forced to reach for Flowers because their desperate need on the offensive line? Many who liked Flowers did not consider him a top 10 pick. Top 20 or 30, but not top 10. These people suggest that the Giants may have been better off drafting RB Todd Gurley, DT Danny Shelton, or WR Devante Parker. A few made a case for CB Trae Waynes. But all four of those players had their warts too: Gurley the ACL, Shelton being one dimensional, Parker’s mental make-up, and the grabiness of Waynes in coverage.

For weeks leading up to the draft, I thought that unless wideouts Amari Cooper or Kevin White fell to the Giants, from a value-need perspective, the pick was obviously going to be an offensive lineman. Scherff, Flowers, Peat, and Collins were all widely regarded as being worthy first round draft picks. All signs pointed to one of these four. The question really become, which one? The Redskins took Scherff out of the equation. Tragic circumstances took Collins out of the equation. So it came down to Flowers versus Peat. Each has their advocates. Peat is the smoother, more technically-sound left tackle; Flowers the meaner, more physical one. Most assume Peat will be an NFL left tackle; Flowers may be limited to right tackle (though the Giants don’t share this view). If I were making the pick, it would have been a coin flip between Peat and Flowers. I’m just glad the Giants got one of them. As I said, they needed to come out of this draft with an immediate starter on the offensive line. And they were fortunate that in this case, the value seemed to match up with the need. My only reservation? I do wonder if they missed out on a special player in Gurley. That said, this draft was simply too important for the Giants to screw up. They could not afford to take the risk on Gurley’s knee. The responsible pick was the offensive lineman.

Ereck Flowers brings size, strength, toughness, and nastiness to an offensive line that needed all four of those attributes. He looks born to play right tackle in the NFL and the combination of Flowers and Geoff Schwartz will give the Giants almost 700 pounds of beef on the right side of the line. Flowers’ biggest negative – technique – is correctable. You can’t teach size, athletic ability, or toughness. Moreover, if the Giants are right and Flowers can eventually be a franchise left tackle, then there is no arguing against this pick. But it will be interesting to track the careers of Flowers versus Peat.

S Landon Collins, 6’0”, 228 pounds, 4.48, University of Alabama

The inability to sign Devin McCourty from the Patriots and the departure of Antrel Rolle in free agency left the Giants desperately thin at safety, both in terms of numbers and talent. While Nat Berhe and Cooper Taylor may end up being very good NFL players, they are relative unknowns. The problem for the Giants was the 2015 NFL Draft was obviously weak at safety. There were some suggesting that the Giants should consider drafting the consensus #1 safety in the draft – Landon Collins – in the first round, either at the #9 pick or after trading down. I was not among those people as I saw Collins as more of a strong safety-type and drafting him in the top 20 would have been a reach. But drafting Collins at the top of the second round is almost a no-brainer, again from a need-value perspective.

Collins is a big, physical, tough strong safety type who hits and tackles well. He was a team leader and versatile, having played strong safety, free safety, slot nickel, and probably even some linebacker in Nick Saban’s pro-style defense. After meeting with Collins before the draft, New York Giants Safeties Coach David Merritt told Tom Coughlin that Collins could orchestrate and direct traffic in an NFL defense from day one as a 21-year old rookie. Let that set in for a moment! Collins will bring leadership, stability, gravitas, and a physical presence to the secondary, middle of the field, and defense as a whole.

There are still detractors about the decision to surrender a 4th and 7th round pick to move up just seven spots in the second round. It may very well be there were better options for the Giants – with or without the trade up. A few names mentioned at the time included DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (ironically taken by the Giants a round later), DE Preston Smith (taken five picks later by Redskins), DT Eddie Goldman (taken six picks later), CB Jalen Collins (taken nine picks later), LB Eric Kendricks (taken 12 picks later), CB/S Eric Rowe (taken 14 picks later by Eagles), and DE Randy Gregory (taken 27 picks later by Cowboys). Others will point to Collins’ stiffness/lack of range in coverage (though the Giants insist he is not just a strong safety). Nevertheless, it’s hard to argue against the Collins pick. And another team known for drafting good defensive players, the Pittsburgh Steelers, was supposedly also trying to trade up to draft Collins. I don’t like giving up draft picks, but Collins should have a MAJOR impact on the Giants defense immediately and the foreseeable future.

DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa, 6’4”, 267 pounds, 4.59, UCLA

To me, Owamagbe Odighizuwa was one of the steals of the draft for where the Giants selected him. Of course, this assumes his the twice-surgically repaired torn labrum in his hip is fine. The Giants doctors cleared him, but some teams reportedly took him off their draft boards. Three weeks ago I told my wife the Giants would draft Odighizuwa simply because it would be another pain-in-the-ass name I would have to repeatedly type in the tradition of Umenyiora, Kiwanuka, and Amukamara. Thanks Giants!

Odighizuwa is one of the rare collegiate defensive end prospects who can play the run from the left (strongside) defensive end position AND rush the passer. In fact, of all of the defensive end prospects in this draft, he is the one who interested me the most. The icing on the cake is he is one of those 100 percent motor-is-always-running guys. He’s no dummy either. Minutes after he was selected, Odighizuwa was regaling the New York media about his admiration and knowledge of Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Osi Umenyiora, and Jason Pierre-Paul. “I studied everything about the Giants defensive line,” said Double-O.

I agree with former Redskins and Texans General Manager Charlie Casserly in saying that Odighizuwa may be a better pro than college player. In college, he played more of a 5-technique in a 3-4 defense, meaning his primary role was to two-gap and occupy blockers to allow the linebackers to make the play. In New York, Odighizuwa will have his superb athleticism unleashed as he will be allowed to immediately attack up the field. If the Giants wanted to keep Jason Pierre-Paul at right end, they needed to draft a potential impact two-way, strongside end. The fact that they may have gotten that guy in the third round is astounding. Talk about need meeting value.

S Mykkele Thompson, 6’2”, 191 pounds, 4.48, University of Texas

Before Day 3 began, I posted in The Corner Forum that this class had the look of a three-player draft. I still stand by that as the three players taken on Day 3 in rounds 5 (safety Mykkele Thompson), 6 (wide receiver Geremy Davis), and 7 (offensive guard Bobby Hart) were not highly regarded prospects by most. Now, if one of these guys or more proves the experts wrong, then New York deserves a tremendous amount of respect for its effort in a very shallow NFL draft.

Thompson is not without talent. He has a good combination of size and athleticism. He’s a corner-safety ‘tweener, but that appears the direction the free safety position is heading in today’s NFL. Thompson is also versatile, having the ability to play nickel slot corner or outside corner in a pinch. He has good speed and reportedly made big strides as senior after converting from quarterback and wide receiver to cornerback and safety. The knock against this pick is that many argue he would have been available later in the draft or after the draft. How anyone can know that is beyond me, but Thompson himself was somewhat surprised he was drafted. Also, more importantly, those who followed the Texas Longhorns say that Thompson never really stood out to them as a collegiate player. He certainly wasn’t a play-maker with the ball in the air (only two career interceptions). The keys with him will be his tackling (Giants say he is a good tackler) and his intelligence (Giants say he is smart). It seems as if the Giants are betting that the arrow is really pointing up with Thompson and that he has only scratched the surface given his late conversion to safety. I will say this, he has one of the stranger builds I’ve seen on an NFL defensive back…he has very, very long and thin legs…I would imagine that it is difficult for him to make sharp, quick cuts, hence the reason he was probably moved to safety by the coaching staff of the Longhorns. After the draft, the Giants remarked that Thompson would be a nice complement to Collins…so they clearly think he has starting potential.

WR Geremy Davis, 6’2”, 216 pounds, 4.47, University of Connecticut

Unless Geremy Davis is a kick-ass special teams player along the lines of Larry Flowers, Reyna Thompson, and David Tyree, his selection made the least sense to me. And worse, Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Chris Mara said the team almost drafted Davis in the 5th round. Davis has good size, strength, and excellent hands. My problem is that he simply is not very quick or fast. And while he doesn’t play to his timed speed (sub-4.5), the quickness issue is more disconcerting. How is a receiver who had issues separating from collegiate defensive backs going to separate from NFL defensive backs?

“He doesn’t play to that time speed as much,” said Jerry Reese.

“A big guy like that is going to make it as your fourth receiver,” said Marc Ross.

“I don’t know if he is going to separate the way some of people that we have would,” said Tom Coughlin.

Talk about setting a low bar. I don’t get it. These types of guys are a dime-a-dozen and you can sign them usually after the draft. Either this was an exceptionally weak draft class or Davis is quicker than advertised or the Giants screwed up. On the surface, this feels like a lazy pick. If he turns out to be Reyna Thompson, good pick. But that’s a really high bar.

OG Bobby Hart, 6’5”, 329 pounds, 5.67, Florida State University

I have no problem with the last pick. Bobby Hart played right tackle at Florida State but is strictly a guard at the NFL level. For a 20-year old, he has a ton of experience, having started nine games as a 17-year old freshman and starting all 28 games for FSU as a junior and senior. He’s another huge 330 pounder who can maul you in the run game. He started three years at tackle on one of the best teams in college football. The question with him is does he have the feet/mobility to play guard at the NFL level? He ran in the 5.6 range – which is really bad. But I think he’s good value for a 7th round selection. And Heaven knows the Giants can certainly use some quality offensive line depth.

Summary

Six players. On paper, three “good picks” and three “questionable” ones. Usually that sounds like a “C” grade for a team. But you have to give much higher value to the the top three picks. The Giants may have come out of this draft with three of the top 50 players available. If true, and they can get any serious contribution from Thompson, Davis, or Hart, this draft is a home run.

What the Giants Didn’t Accomplish

You can only do so much, especially with only eight picks (which turned into six after the Collins trade). The talent/depth situation at cornerback makes me nervous. While Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and the injury-prone Prince Amukamara look very strong, Trumaine McBride is a de facto starter as the nickel back. And depth is VERY thin unless you believe in Mike Harris, Chykie Brown, Chandler Fenner, Jayron Hosley, Trevin Wade, or Bennett Jackson.

Pray Victor Cruz rebounds near 100 percent because right now there is Odell Beckham and a whole lot of questions marks (yes, that includes Rueben Randle in my eyes). Adrien Robinson may be safe another year at tight end, but the Giants did sign two interesting rookie free agents in Matt LaCosse and Will Tye. It looks like the Giants are counting on the winner of the Cullen Jenkins/Kenrick Ellis/Jay Bromley/Markus Kuhn competition to become a viable starter alongside Johnathan Hankins. The Giants also did not draft a linebacker, although Cole Farrand, who they signed after the draft, is a very interesting pick-up.

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May 092015
 
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Ben McAdoo, New York Giants (September 14, 2014)

Ben McAdoo – © USA TODAY Sports Images

MAY 9, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS ROOKIE MINI-CAMP REPORT…
The second day of the New York Giants three-day rookie mini-camp was held on Saturday. Sixty-six players – draft picks, signed rookie free agents, first-year players who have not completed a season of credited service, and street and rookie free agent tryout players – were in attendance.

NEWLY SIGNED…
The New York Giants announced that they have officially signed WR Geremy Davis, their 6th round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (3rd round), S Mykkele Thompson (5th round), and OG Bobby Hart (7th round) were signed earlier this week. Only OL Ereck Flowers (1st round) and S Landon Collins (2nd round) remain unsigned.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • “Former Illinois TE Matt LaCosse made a few nice catches today during both 1-on-1 and 7-on-7 drills. The top play was his diving grab from ex-Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova on a ball contested by safety Bennett Jackson.” (Giants.com)
  • “Safety Landon Collins, the Giants’ second-round draft pick, moved around a lot as coaches want to see the way he handles the responsibilities they would require of their free safety.” (ESPN.com)
  • “The Giants’ other safety draft pick, fifth rounder Mykkele Thompson, looked pretty good in one-on-one drills, showing off his speed and staying close to the receiver he was covering, but I noticed he had trouble getting his head turned around in time to make a play on the ball. (NJ.com)
  • Michael Bamiro, an offensive lineman who was signed to a reserves/futures contract earlier this year, is an impressive-looking offensive tackle. He stands 6-8 and is listed as 341 pounds and earned himself some “atta-boys” in drills from offensive line coaches Pat Flaherty and Luda Wells.” (InsideFootball.com)

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR BEN McADOO…
Ben McAdoo addressed the media after the morning practice (video is available at Giants.com).

Q: Is it a night and day type of thing now looking back to this time last year?

A: No, we put a lot of work in. We did a little more this offseason than we did last year because we had the cut-ups to go through. That took us four weeks and change. We went back and retooled the offense a little bit. We spent a lot of time on scheme and tying it into the personnel that we had and some of the new toys that we added. It is not a system anymore, it is our offense. We are excited to get that going.

Q: Where do you stand on Victor Cruz’s status?

A: We are going to take the same approach on offense that we always do. We have a group of guys that we are going to go out and play with. We are pulling for Victor and we hope for the best. He certainly looks good moving around out there right now in rehab. We are going to let Victor take care of what he needs to take care of and come back when he is ready. When he is ready to come back, we will welcome him back.

Q: What does Shane Vereen add to this offense?

A: Vereen is a good player. He is a talented player. Unique skill set. He gets a lot of credit for what he does in the passing game. He is probably underappreciated as a pass protector and as a runner. We are glad to have him.

Q: What are a few things you liked/disliked about your first year?

A: I usually don’t think that way. There isn’t a lot that I look back and I am real happy about. We didn’t win enough ballgames. We don’t like to spend a lot of time talking about that. We like to chase execution. I think the last six games we started to play the way that we wanted to play. We started to execute and produce the way we wanted to produce. The way we completed the ball and the number of plays in a game. We just have to continue to chase execution and start where we left off.

Q: Is it too simple to draw the parallel to those last six games and when Odell [Beckham Jr.] started to take over? Are they one in the same?

A: I think it is a combination of a lot of things. We settled down up front a little bit. I think the quarterback started feeling better about the offense at that point. It takes some time. I think Odell is a unique player and I give him credit for paying attention in meetings and making meetings important so that he can transfer it onto the field, even though when [he] didn’t get reps on your feet, he still gets mental reps. That was a big part of his success last year.

Q: Teams are obviously going to game plan for [Beckham Jr.]… Do you feel like you have to find different ways and move him around even more now?

A: Everyone learns to play everywhere on the perimeter. Whether you are a running back, a tight end or a receiver, you need to learn concepts. You need to be able to execute those concepts. It doesn’t matter if you are a back, a tight end or a receiver, you have to be able to play one, two and three receiver. We ask that of all our guys. Whether we pull that out each week depends on who we are seeing and how we are tailoring our plan.

Q: With [Ereck] Flowers here now, is Justin Pugh a guard?

A: That remains to be seen. Justin Pugh, right now, is the starting right tackle for the Giants.

Q: Where do you see Flowers fitting in?

A: We are going to play our best five and if he is one of them, he will find a spot.

Q: What do you see out of Flowers that you like so far this week?

A: He looks like he likes football, and that is a great place to start. He is a conscientious young man and I look forward to watching him grow.

Q: What have you seen from Gary Nova and what do you look for from the quarterbacks at rookie minicamp?

A: We threw a lot at them. We try not to take it easy on them. We change their fundamentals. We threw a lot at them schematically. They did a nice job bouncing back here the second day and played a little better and a little faster here. They were able to digest the information, take it to the field, adjust their fundamentals and have a chance to execute. That is really what every day boils down to in this league. He did a nice job.

Q: Which side do you figure Flowers will be starting at?

A: That remains to be seen.

Q: Does that mean anything to you that most of the work Flowers has done out here has been on the left side? Do you try to move him around as much as possible?

A: We believe that he has a skill set to play left tackle in this league. We are going to give him opportunities to train out there. We will give him opportunities to train at multiple spots. That doesn’t mean we are going to pencil him in to one spot right now.

Q: Is there any reason why you can’t hit the ground running after the way the offense finished the last six games of last year?

A: It is a loser’s mentality to think you can come in here and not miss a beat and pick up where you left off. Any success in this league is earned. If you come walking in thinking you don’t have to do any work and you can pick up where you left off and we can execute the way we were at the end of the season, that is a loser’s mindset.

Q: What does it mean that it is not a system anymore, it is an offense?

A: That means it is tailored to the players we have in the room. It is about the players, not the plays. We tailored it. You put some stuff out in the storage shed that you may like, but you may not get to because it doesn’t fit with who you are.

Q: How do you feel? More comfortable?

A: I always battle being over-confident. I always battle that. I may hide that sometimes. I have confidence in the guys in the locker room and the guys in the staff room upstairs. We have assembled a good group of men and we are excited about the season.

Q: How much longer until Eli Manning hits that ceiling?

A: Usually when you put in changes or change the system or address fundamentals, it usually shows up in year two. I like the look in his eye. I am excited for what is on the plate this year.

Q: What do you see from a guy like Dwayne Harris?

A: Dwayne is a guy we are going to throw into the mix. We already have right away. He is a guy that brings in a little bit of attitude and a little bit of toughness. I like that.

Q: Is he primarily a guy who will play in the slot?

A: He is another receiver who is going to get opportunities to play all the spots and he will be a big contributor on special teams for us.

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR STEVE SPAGNUOLO…
Steve Spagnuolo addressed the media after the morning practice (video is available at Giants.com).

Q: Was it a hard decision to come back here?

A: Not really. There’s a lot of reason to come back here. There’s a lot of reasons for anybody to come here; the tradition of Giants football, the ownership, the Maras, the Tisches, Coach Coughlin, Jerry Reese… You do the checklist, if I did one at all, which I’m not saying I did. It would be fully loaded on one side. I was at a really good place in Baltimore and I just want to send a shout out to Steve Bisciotti and Ozzie (Newsome) and John (Harbaugh). I loved the two years there. Any time you can go to a different place, you can learn more. A little bit of wisdom was gained. It was terrific to work with such a good friend. John Harbaugh and I were together in Philadelphia for eight years and we had a lot of conversations in those eight years. We could sit and bounce things off as head coach and former head coach and it was a lot of fun, so I enjoyed that.

Q: What’s been your priority here the first couple of months?

A: At the top of the list is the bottom of the foundation. That’s probably the best way I can say it. We’ve got to build this thing gradually and the coaches all believe you can’t do anything until you get all of the basics right. Some of the basics go all the way back to things that have nothing to do with talent, have nothing to do with being out here on the field, but believing in what we’re doing, the character of the guys in unity, integrity and then we go from there. So we started from ground one and began to build it up. We get to a certain point here and we just keep on going, but it’s going to take a little while.

Q: Why is it so important for you to show this team the history of the franchise?

A: Maybe that comes from having been there, but the whole staff just felt like when you understand the tradition of defensive football here at the Giants, you embrace it. When you embrace something you have a little pride in it. If you’ve got a little pride in something like your family, you tend to protect it. The only other thing I added to them was let’s grow our own tradition and history here. We’ve been going back and feeding the guys all the greats here and we’ll eventually start feeding great defensive games. We’ve got some picked out. I think we all should embrace that. There should be a passion about it, and that should carry it out right here on the field. That’s the goal.

Q: Do you sense a different task than when your first time around here?

A: New building. When I ran out there the first day, I was looking for the bubble. I didn’t see a bubble. I just saw a nice indoor facility. What was really nice is when you can step into a building and you know people and they know you. That was really, really comfortable. That doesn’t always happen that way. There were a lot of kinks that were already worked out. It was just comfortable. The New York Giants and the leadership is pretty much the same as when I was here. I certainly knew exactly the type of people and the type of organization I was going to and that’s why I ran here instead of walking.

Q: How about as far as the team goes and the roster?

A: I believe that any year in this business, in the NFL, it’s a different challenge and this one is certainly different than 2007. There were hurdles. There were hurdles then and there will be hurdles now, but that’s a part of coaching. That’s what we embrace. That’s what we enjoy. That’s the challenge of it and if all of us accept it and work together to get over the hump, hopefully we’ll build something successful.

Q: How do you envision your defense schematically compared to when you were here before?

A: We’ve got some tweaks. We’re not going to venture too far personnel-wise because of what we have and try to change things too much, but the good thing about being in a lot of different places, whether it was St. Louis, New Orleans or Baltimore, is you can pick from other places. Nobody in this league is sharing information. So when you try to get little tidbits from other coaches, nobody is giving that info, but if you’re able over the course of whatever it was, five or six years, to come up with some different things, we’ll add those in and hopefully we’ll come up with something really good.

Q: There’s a lot of talk about the personnel you had in ’07 and ’08 and how those guys aren’t here now.

A: Yeah. Everybody gets older. I’ve seen some of them out here. I tried to put a helmet and pads on them.

Q: In terms of the personnel you have now, are there pieces you can identify right now that you’re excited about?

A: Yeah. The challenge for me will be real football doesn’t begin until you put the pads on and you get to training camp. That’s kind of the downside of what we’re going through right now, but as much as we can find out, there’s a lot of things I’m excited about. This may sound minimal to you all, but when I stand in front of that defensive group in the meeting room, I see attentive guys. I see people that want to learn, that are in tune to it, that are passionate about it, and I think it all begins there. Where we take that when we get out here, we’ll wait and see.

Q: Do you see the talent in your room?

A: There’s talent there. There are places where we need to fill some holes, but I think every team has that. That’s why you have a draft and you have free agency and we bring guys in to see what you can come up with.

Q: Was there ever a feeling when you initially left in ’08 to come back again?

A: This isn’t a on and off switch where, boom, all of a sudden we’re back to 2007 and we pick up where we left off. It doesn’t work that way and so to me I treat them differently. It would be no different than if I had left Baltimore and went to another team. It’s a different challenge. It’s a different year. It’s different personnel and we’re talking about all of these things right now. I’m not a magician. No coaches are magicians. Things aren’t going to happen like they may have happened in a different time, but hopefully something exciting will happen. At least that’s the goal.

Q: What did you learn from your experience from New Orleans and what are you taking from that time to do things differently here?

A: I firmly believe you learn more from adverse situations than you do when things just go like that. So there was a tremendous amount of wisdom and knowledge gained from my year in New Orleans. That was a tough year for a lot of different reasons. I’m not going to go back and speculate on why, but what I will do is I’m going to grab the things that we need to from that experience that will help us here. I will fully be doing that. There’s a good notebook about that thick with things I should have done, shouldn’t have done and things I can certainly do better. But that was a growth experience. Life is like that. It’s not just the NFL. I’ve been blessed to suffer in the last couple of years to make me what I am now and hopefully it resonates and it’s something good here.

Q: How do you see Landon Collins fitting in here? What do you want from him?

A: I want him to go to the Pro Bowl. That’s what we want all of our guys to do. I will say this, from practice one yesterday to just this morning, I saw a jump already. They come here initially and they’re feeling their way through. They don’t really want to say anything, but by the time we got to that last team period today, Landon was moving people around and directing, so if he can keep doing that every day, I think we’ll have exactly what we thought we had when we took him.

Q: Does the distinction between free safety and strong safety matter?

A: Right now, it doesn’t. Actually we want to get all of the safeties to learn both so we can figure out where we’ll put people. We’ve just got to line them up left and right for right now. That will probably stay like that for a pretty good duration and then when we feel like maybe we should hone in on a particular spot, we’ll do that, but we’re not going to do that right away.

Q: Jason Pierre-Paul has primarily stayed on the right side of the defensive line and you like to move guys around on the line. Do you plan on using him in different ways?

A: Sure, and Coach Nunn and I have talked about that, but one other thing I do believe in is you get guys in comfortable spots. I haven’t had enough of a long conversation with JPP to know what he’s more comfortable with, but when you’ve got a talented player, you try to put them in places where they can excel and help your defense. We’ll fill that out when he gets here.

Q: What about in terms of leadership? You had Antonio Pierce the first time you were here. Are you still feeling out the guys to see who that next guy will be?

A: That’s going to take a little bit of time. There are guys in that room that we’re working with right now that I know in the past, having listened to other coaches or watching the Giants from afar, that I think there’s some good leaders there and I think you always have got to develop more. Sometimes when leaders leave the program or system, some guys jump up that you would have never expected. Sometimes leadership lids are removed and guys that you never even would have thought would step to the forefront. I’m anxious to see who that might be. I’m just going to add this. Would I like to have AP back? Sure. He ran the show. He was pretty good.

Q: How important is the relationship between the defensive coordinator and the middle linebacker?

A: I think it’s pretty important.

Q: How have you and Jon Beason gotten along?

A: He’s been great. I remember Jon coming out of Miami and I have friends down in Carolina that were with him and I remember talking about Jon Beason before he even became a Giant. Everything was complimentary and you’ve got to love those guys that like the chess game. Jameel McClain is the same guy and I have some experience with him in Baltimore, so it’s nice to have a couple of guys like that and I’m sure there’ll be some other guys.

Q: Even though you weren’t Jameel McClain’s position coach, are you going to count on him maybe a little bit more since he is familiar with you?

A: I think it naturally happens that way and Jameel and I have had a couple of conversations. I was with Chykie Brown last year. You take the good from all of the places and it will be easier if I’m trying to feed something to the guys about maybe something that we did or the way we did it in Baltimore and they could probably back it up and say he knows a little bit about what he’s talking about because we were there, too.

Q: What are your expectations for Damontre Moore?

A: I’m not sure I have any except with all the guys. I said this to the group, that the main objective right now, from now until February, is to be better today than we were yesterday. I know that sounds cliché-ish, but I think that’s where we should be right now.

Q: Do you know anything about Damontre as a player?

A: From what the coaches have fed to me. I have spoken to him. I know he’s getting his degree, which I’m kind of proud of. I would love to have him here because that stuff is important, but we’ll just see where it goes when he gets here.

Q: What would be your definition of New York Giants defense?

A: As you asked that, in my mind, I’m going through what we’ve been watching with the Harry Carsons and the Lawrence Taylors… I’m seeing all of them. I grew up in the northeast, but before they were Patriots fans, they were Giants fans. I can just remember watching Giants football and Giants Stadium. Everybody gets infatuated with offense, but I just remember the linebackers and the D-linemen. That play that Jason Sehorn made against us when Philadelphia played at Giants Stadium with the interception… That was a playoff game. Those things are what resonates. It’s relentless. It’s attacking. Michael Strahan said this in one of the things we were watching. He said when he first got here, they — meaning all of his defensive players — they took pride in living up to the New York Giants defensive tradition. I thought that just spoke volumes. That’s a lot to live up to. So if we can shoot for that and get close to that, I think we’ll be pretty good.

Q: What is your plan for the nickel back position?

A: That’s one we’re trying to feel through, to be honest with you. You’ll probably see as we go through the OTA’s that there’ll be a number of guys working in and out of there. In this league nowadays, there are a lot of three wideout sets. That means you’ve got to match them in a lot of cases and put another DB out there, so I’m not sure I have an answer for that right now. There were some guys that did it a little bit last year and some guys that we added.

Q: Is Trumaine McBride a guy you could put in the nickelback position?

A: I thought he showed a pretty good feel for being there. He’s one of them. Josh Gordy has done it. Mike Harris did it a little bit last year. We’ve got some guys that we can try, but we need to get that solved and we need to identify who the nickel is.

Q: The Giants have used a lot of three-safety looks in the past. Is that something you’d like to use?

A: We’re going to have to work with the ebb and flow and the talent and personnel that we have, but sometimes the offenses force you to go that route and if we have to do that, we’ll do that. I’m going to start finding those people out.

Q: How was the interview process with Tom Coughlin?

A: You go through the process. It was a very comfortable job interview. For the greater part of it, it was being back with an old friend. Tom and I have always stayed in touch the whole time I’ve been gone, but we had to talk about things that related to the job and we did that. It was a little bit of business and it was a lot of just personal getting caught up and I enjoyed it. I’m glad it worked out.

SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR TOM QUINN…
Tom Quinn addressed the media after the morning practice (video is available at Giants.com).

Q: What do you expect is going to happen with the extra point?

A: That is a good question. I know they want to do something to it. Probably move it back to where it was in the preseason.

Q: Do you have a preference?

A: I have no preference at all. Whatever they tell us to do, we will do. We handled it well last year. Obviously nothing has been done with later in the year with the wind and cold. That would make it a little bit more challenging in the northeast.

Q: Think it would change much in regards to strategy for you guys?

A: It all depends on the game conditions. That is something [Coach Coughlin] would take care of.

Q: Re: Dwayne Harris?

A: It is good that it is someone we know so well. [He] is someone who we played twice a year against all his time in Dallas. I respected him coming out of college and how he plays and how physical he plays. He will add a good dimension. He is a returner that is also a gunner, so anytime you can get a guy that can do multiple jobs is a nice addition.

Q: Do you look at Harris as a guy who can do both, punt returning and kickoff returns?

A: Yeah, he has done it. It is there on tape. I feel very confident in him picking up those jobs. I think if you look across the league, you need a stable of guys you can rely on.

Q: Would you like to keep Odell [Beckham Jr.] off of punt return this year if you can?

A: That is not my decision. I think he wants to do it. Whatever helps the team. If he is needed, then he is needed.

Q: When you look at the new pieces that have been added to your unit, are you feeling pretty good about where they fit in?

A: Yeah. It is always exciting to add guys that have played at a high level in this league. [Jonathan] Casillas has done that. J.T. Thomas has done that. That is always nice to add them into the mix and get them into our culture and how we want them to do things. Really try to highlight what they do well. That is the fun part about it. It is always changing parts.

Q: How about [Geremy] Davis from UConn?

A: Little bit of an unknown. I know he has good height, weight and speed coming out. He didn’t do a lot of special teams coming out of college, but that is not unusual. We are excited to work with him and see what he can add to the mix.

Q: Who do you view as your core special teamers?

A: You try to, but a lot of times those guys end up starting, so that becomes their role. You just try to have a good, solid room. I think [Mark] Herzlich is a guy that has been a leader in that room. You always have a mix of young guys and old guys and guys that are starting and guys that are not starting. It is a little bit in flux. It is not like you have six to eight guys that you have had for three or four years with how much movement there is now in the league.

Q: What is it about Harris that makes him a good return man?

A: He is decisive. There isn’t a lot of wasted movement. He is physical. He has a good understanding of the return schemes and what is needed for each one. There is no hesitation. If he is catching the ball and you are running it to the right, he is going to get it to the right, which sets up all the blockers for him. They know where he is going to be. A lot of times when you are blocking, [the returner] is supposed to be over here, but the returner is running the wrong direction or in the middle and now your block is not set up for that. He is very decisive. He is a strong runner.

Q: How do you evaluate the overall performance of the special teams last season?

A: I was pleased with some areas of it, but obviously other areas have to get better. I thought Josh [Brown] had a very solid year. One of his better years.  I think his kickoffs continue to get better, which is a positive for him at his age and a tribute to how well he trains. I saw some sparks in the punt return game, especially when Odell got his feet wet and guys did a good job understanding the blocking. Kickoff was very solid. I was very pleased with that. Kickoff return – you are always trying to find some guys up front to block. I think we got better as the year went on. Punt is the one area that we did not meet our goal. You want to have a 40-yard net now and we are under that. We continue to emphasize with the hang time and the location of the punts. Get better at that and get better at covering it. I think we have done that with some of the acquisitions we have made.

Q: How much of the punting issues can be attributed to the fact that Steve Weatherford was hurt for most of the season?

A: He did. He had the ankle and then he had the back. He was banged up all year. It was really unfortunate for how hard he trains. He puts the time in the weight room to stay healthy. I think he might be lifting now as we are talking.

Q: When you say the acquisitions for punt return…?

A: I am talking about punt return and punt. Guys that we have picked up have played at a high level on those teams. Casillas has made a living doing it. J.T. Thomas has done it even though he was starting. He would still cover kicks. Adding those guys with speed and experience is always a positive.

PLAYERS SPEAK…
The following video clips of player media Q&As are available at Giants.com:

RELATED ARTICLES…

First-round pick Ereck Flowers doing drills. O-line coach Pat Flaherty doing the yelling. #giants

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May 082015
 
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Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (June 11, 2013)

Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

MAY 8, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS ROOKIE MINI-CAMP REPORT…
The first day of the New York Giants three-day rookie mini-camp began on Friday. Sixty-six players – draft picks, signed rookie free agents, first-year players who have not completed a season of credited service, and street and rookie free agent tryout players – were in attendance.

PARTICIPANTS…

2015 NFL Draft Picks (6):

  • OL Ereck Flowers, University of Miami
  • S Landon Collins, University of Alabama
  • DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA
  • FS Mykkele Thompson, University of Texas
  • WR Geremy Davis, University of Connecticut
  • OG Bobby Hart, Florida State University

2015 Signed Rookie Free Agents (6):

  • HB Akeem Hunt, Purdue University
  • TE Matt LaCosse, University of Illinois
  • OT Sean Donnelly, Tulane University
  • DE Brad Harrah, University of Cincinnati
  • LB Cole Farrand, University of Maryland
  • S Justin Currie, Western Michigan University

New York Giants First-Year Players (10):

  • FB Nikita Whitlock
  • TE Jerome Cunningham
  • OC Brett Jones
  • OT Michael Bamiro
  • DE Jordan Stanton
  • LB Uani Unga
  • LB Ryan Jones
  • CB Bennett Jackson
  • S Thomas Gordon
  • PK Chris Boswell

Tryout Players (44):

  • QB Gary Nova, Rutgers
  • QB Taylor Graham, Hawaii
  • QB Pete Thomas, Louisiana-Monroe
  • RB Reggie Whatley, Middle Tennessee St.
  • RB Anthony Cade, Lindenwood
  • RB Kenneth Harper, Temple
  • WR Taylor Belsterling, Huntington (Ala.) College
  • WR Lemar Durant, Simon Fraser University
  • WR Ben Edwards, Richmond
  • WR Derrick Johnson, Maine
  • WR Chris Perkins, Middle Tennessee State
  • WR Addison Richards, University of Regina
  • WR Andrew Robustelli, Jacksonville
  • TE Justin Jones, East Carolina
  • TE Matt Marfisi, Tulane
  • TE Will Tye, Stony Brook
  • OC Sean McEwen, University of Calgary
  • OG Sukh Chungh, University of Calgary
  • OG Mario Rodriguez, Western Michigan
  • OT Danny Groulx, Laval (Canada)
  • OT Kevin Murphy, Harvard
  • OT Jacob Ruby, Richmond
  • OT Richard Washington, Morehouse
  • DE Brad Bars, Penn State
  • DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe, Colorado
  • DT Donte Rumph, Kentucky
  • DT Carlif Taylor, Southern Connecticut
  • DT Rakeem Knight, Bethue-Cookman
  • DT Daryl Waud, University of Western Ontario
  • LB Brandon Golson, West Virginia
  • LB Byron Archambault, University of Montreal
  • LB Ron Omara, St. Francis Xavier
  • LB Takari Johnson, Concordia-Ann Arbor
  • CB Ian Williams, Fordham
  • CB Marc Anthony, California
  • CB Tevaughn Campbell, University of Regina (Saskatchewan)
  • CB Qua Cox, Jackson State
  • CB Willie Creear, Eastern Michigan
  • CB Thomas Finnie, Bethune-Cookman
  • CB Tyree Hollins, Grambling
  • S Chris Ackie, Wilfred Laurier
  • S C.J. Conway, Montclair State
  • P Bobby Cowan, Idaho
  • LS Luke Ingram, Hawaii

NEWLY SIGNED…
The New York Giants announced that they have officially signed DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa, their 3rd round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. S Mykkele Thompson (5th round) and OG Bobby Hart (7th round) signed on Thursday.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Bennett Jackson appears to have been moved from cornerback to safety. However, Tom Coughlin said Chykie Brown will remain at cornerback for now. The starting safeties were Landon Collins and Jackson. Collins spent time as the deep safety.
  • “Tight end Jerome Cunningham, who spent time on the practice squad last year, had a busy day and hauled in a handful of catches.” (Giants.com)
  • The starting offensive line was LT Ereck Flowers-LG Michael Bamiro-OC Brett Jones-RG Bobby Hart-RT Sean Donnelly. (Giants.com)
  • “The first-round pick (Erick Flowers) is huge (6-6, 329) and carries his weight so incredibly well. He moves effortless for a player that size, and it’s obvious he’s on a different level athletically than the rest of the linemen.” (NJ.com)
  • Multiple reports said DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa flashed very good first-step quickness.
  • Rookie tryout player WR Andrew Robustelli is the grandson of New York Giants Hall of Fame DE Andy Robustelli.
  • Rookie tryout player QB Taylor Graham is the son of former New York Giants quarterback Kent Graham.
  • Former New York Giants RB Brandon Jacobs and S Deon Grant were on hand to watch practice.

VICTOR CRUZ SIGHTING…
While he did not practice, WR Victor Cruz was spotted by the media rehabbing the torn patellar tendon in his right knee. “I just watched Victor Cruz go through a vigorous indoor workout, with lots of stopping and cutting. Impressive,” tweeted The New York Post.

HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
Tom Coughlin addressed the media after the morning practice (video is available at Giants.com). Some points of note:

  • On why he likes OT Ereck Flowers: “His athleticism. His ability to run, to pull, to run, his pass protection and the fact he is a big man that (defenders) are going to have to navigate a lot to get around him. Strong.”
  • On S Landon Collins: “Basically a guy who, as I saw today, went back to what I really do believe and that is that he can play in the middle of the field. He can play in the deep half as well as come down and be a physical force in the tackle box.”
  • On why the coaches have been informing the new players about the history of the New York Giants defense: “The tradition. The passion. The Giant tradition. The great defenses that have been played here in the past. The idea that we have to get back to that.”

PLAYERS SPEAK…
The following video clips of player media Q&As are available at Giants.com:

  • OC Brett Jones (Video)
  • S Landon Collins (Video)
  • DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (Video)
  • S Mykkele Thompson (Video)
  • WR Geremy Davis (Video)
  • OG Bobby Hart (Video)
  • QB Gary Nova (Video)
  • WR Andrew Robustelli (Video)
  • DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa on coming to the Giants (from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense): “Yeah, anytime you are in a ‘43’ system and your linemen are asked to attack up field and wreak havoc it is always exciting. I feel like my skill set is definitely fitting for that type of defense, so I am excited about it. I think it is going to be great for me and I am going to bring a lot to the defense. Working hard every day and staying versatile and staying coachable.”
  • S Bennett Jackson on converting to safety: “At the end of the day, I am a (defensive back). I think my strengths are my cover skills. I have good speed and great ball skills. The thing that it is going to take for me to get out there and make an impact is I have to learn the defense and communicate the calls fluently. That is really the main thing with learning a new defense, you just have to be accountable and allow people to trust that you are going to be out there and get the job done.”

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OL drills

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May 062015
 
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There is a negative way and a positive way to look at the New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft class:

Negative: The Giants drafted a right tackle with a top 10 pick. They desperately drafted two safeties in a very weak draft at that position, actually spending four picks to do so. The team also drafted a defensive end with a bad hip, a wide receiver who had trouble separating from collegiate defensive backs, and a guard who can’t run.

Positive: The Giants drafted three players who many thought could have gone in the first round. In what was widely considered to be a weak draft class, the Giants drafted two immediate starters in offensive tackle Ereck Flowers and strong safety Landon Collins and possible eventual starters in defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa and free safety Mykkele Thompson.

I am going to lean towards the positive interpretation for this draft. If you told me before the draft that the Giants would come out with Flowers, Collins, and Odighizuwa, I would have said you were crazy. Even some of the most critical NYG fans were giving New York an “A” after the first two days of the draft. Day 3 left a bad taste with many, but regardless of how you feel about that day, it should not erase the fact that the Giants drafted three players who should have both an immediate and a long-term impact on the franchise.

Before we get into the pros and cons of the Giants first three players, let’s take a higher-level look at what these three players bring to the table: TOUGHNESS. Whether NYG fans want to admit it or not, the New York Giants since 2011 have not been a very tough or physical team. This is best demonstrated by their shoddy ability to run the ball and stop the run. But really, the issue has been even deeper than that. This is a team that has folded in some games after it got punched in the mouth. Ereck Flowers, Landon Collins, and Owamagbe Odighizuwa won’t put up with that shit. This team just got a lot tougher on both sides of the football. New York Giants are supposed to be tough. End of story.

Also looking at this draft from a more strategic level, two things stand out to me: (1) regardless of what the team says, the Giants drafted almost solely for need, and (2) unless one of the Day 3 picks really surprise, this may turn out to be a three-player draft.

OT Ereck Flowers, 6’6”, 329 pounds, 5.35, University of Miami

To be blunt, the team had to come out of this draft with a rookie starter on the offensive line. That’s why it was almost guaranteed that the Giants were going to draft Brandon Scherff, Ereck Flowers, Andrus Peat, or La’el Collins (pre-off-the-field issue). The Giants were clearly targeting Scherff, but were not surprised to see him drafted before they picked. Unless WR Amari Cooper somehow landed in their lap, it was going to be Scherff or Flowers. Now the big question here is were the Giants forced to reach for Flowers because their desperate need on the offensive line? Many who liked Flowers did not consider him a top 10 pick. Top 20 or 30, but not top 10. These people suggest that the Giants may have been better off drafting RB Todd Gurley, DT Danny Shelton, or WR Devante Parker. A few made a case for CB Trae Waynes. But all four of those players had their warts too: Gurley the ACL, Shelton being one dimensional, Parker’s mental make-up, and the grabiness of Waynes in coverage.

Ereck Flowers, Miami Hurricanes (September 28, 2013)

Ereck Flowers – © USA TODAY Sports Images

For weeks leading up to the draft, I thought that unless wideouts Amari Cooper or Kevin White fell to the Giants, from a value-need perspective, the pick was obviously going to be an offensive lineman. Scherff, Flowers, Peat, and Collins were all widely regarded as being worthy first round draft picks. All signs pointed to one of these four. The question really become, which one? The Redskins took Scherff out of the equation. Tragic circumstances took Collins out of the equation. So it came down to Flowers versus Peat. Each has their advocates. Peat is the smoother, more technically-sound left tackle; Flowers the meaner, more physical one. Most assume Peat will be an NFL left tackle; Flowers may be limited to right tackle (though the Giants don’t share this view). If I were making the pick, it would have been a coin flip between Peat and Flowers. I’m just glad the Giants got one of them. As I said, they needed to come out of this draft with an immediate starter on the offensive line. And they were fortunate that in this case, the value seemed to match up with the need. My only reservation? I do wonder if they missed out on a special player in Gurley. That said, this draft was simply too important for the Giants to screw up. They could not afford to take the risk on Gurley’s knee. The responsible pick was the offensive lineman.

Ereck Flowers brings size, strength, toughness, and nastiness to an offensive line that needed all four of those attributes. He looks born to play right tackle in the NFL and the combination of Flowers and Geoff Schwartz will give the Giants almost 700 pounds of beef on the right side of the line. Flowers’ biggest negative – technique – is correctable. You can’t teach size, athletic ability, or toughness. Moreover, if the Giants are right and Flowers can eventually be a franchise left tackle, then there is no arguing against this pick. But it will be interesting to track the careers of Flowers versus Peat.

S Landon Collins, 6’0”, 228 pounds, 4.48, University of Alabama

The inability to sign Devin McCourty from the Patriots and the departure of Antrel Rolle in free agency left the Giants desperately thin at safety, both in terms of numbers and talent. While Nat Berhe and Cooper Taylor may end up being very good NFL players, they are relative unknowns. The problem for the Giants was the 2015 NFL Draft was obviously weak at safety. There were some suggesting that the Giants should consider drafting the consensus #1 safety in the draft – Landon Collins – in the first round, either at the #9 pick or after trading down. I was not among those people as I saw Collins as more of a strong safety-type and drafting him in the top 20 would have been a reach. But drafting Collins at the top of the second round is almost a no-brainer, again from a need-value perspective.

Landon Collins, Alabama Crimson Tide (October 18, 2014)

Landon Collins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Collins is a big, physical, tough strong safety type who hits and tackles well. He was a team leader and versatile, having played strong safety, free safety, slot nickel, and probably even some linebacker in Nick Saban’s pro-style defense. After meeting with Collins before the draft, New York Giants Safeties Coach David Merritt told Tom Coughlin that Collins could orchestrate and direct traffic in an NFL defense from day one as a 21-year old rookie. Let that set in for a moment! Collins will bring leadership, stability, gravitas, and a physical presence to the secondary, middle of the field, and defense as a whole.

There are still detractors about the decision to surrender a 4th and 7th round pick to move up just seven spots in the second round. It may very well be there were better options for the Giants – with or without the trade up. A few names mentioned at the time included DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (ironically taken by the Giants a round later), DE Preston Smith (taken five picks later by Redskins), DT Eddie Goldman (taken six picks later), CB Jalen Collins (taken nine picks later), LB Eric Kendricks (taken 12 picks later), CB/S Eric Rowe (taken 14 picks later by Eagles), and DE Randy Gregory (taken 27 picks later by Cowboys). Others will point to Collins’ stiffness/lack of range in coverage (though the Giants insist he is not just a strong safety). Nevertheless, it’s hard to argue against the Collins pick. And another team known for drafting good defensive players, the Pittsburgh Steelers, was supposedly also trying to trade up to draft Collins. I don’t like giving up draft picks, but Collins should have a MAJOR impact on the Giants defense immediately and the foreseeable future.

DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa, 6’4”, 267 pounds, 4.59, UCLA

To me, Owamagbe Odighizuwa was one of the steals of the draft for where the Giants selected him. Of course, this assumes his the twice-surgically repaired torn labrum in his hip is fine. The Giants doctors cleared him, but some teams reportedly took him off their draft boards. Three weeks ago I told my wife the Giants would draft Odighizuwa simply because it would be another pain-in-the-ass name I would have to repeatedly type in the tradition of Umenyiora, Kiwanuka, and Amukamara. Thanks Giants!

Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA Bruins (August 30, 2014)

Owamagbe Odighizuwa – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Odighizuwa is one of the rare collegiate defensive end prospects who can play the run from the left (strongside) defensive end position AND rush the passer. In fact, of all of the defensive end prospects in this draft, he is the one who interested me the most. The icing on the cake is he is one of those 100 percent motor-is-always-running guys. He’s no dummy either. Minutes after he was selected, Odighizuwa was regaling the New York media about his admiration and knowledge of Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Osi Umenyiora, and Jason Pierre-Paul. “I studied everything about the Giants defensive line,” said Double-O.

I agree with former Redskins and Texans General Manager Charlie Casserly in saying that Odighizuwa may be a better pro than college player. In college, he played more of a 5-technique in a 3-4 defense, meaning his primary role was to two-gap and occupy blockers to allow the linebackers to make the play. In New York, Odighizuwa will have his superb athleticism unleashed as he will be allowed to immediately attack up the field. If the Giants wanted to keep Jason Pierre-Paul at right end, they needed to draft a potential impact two-way, strongside end. The fact that they may have gotten that guy in the third round is astounding. Talk about need meeting value.

S Mykkele Thompson, 6’2”, 191 pounds, 4.48, University of Texas

Before Day 3 began, I posted in The Corner Forum that this class had the look of a three-player draft. I still stand by that as the three players taken on Day 3 in rounds 5 (safety Mykkele Thompson), 6 (wide receiver Geremy Davis), and 7 (offensive guard Bobby Hart) were not highly regarded prospects by most. Now, if one of these guys or more proves the experts wrong, then New York deserves a tremendous amount of respect for its effort in a very shallow NFL draft.

Mykkele Thompson, Texas Longhorns (October 27, 2012)

Mykkele Thompson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Thompson is not without talent. He has a good combination of size and athleticism. He’s a corner-safety ‘tweener, but that appears the direction the free safety position is heading in today’s NFL. Thompson is also versatile, having the ability to play nickel slot corner or outside corner in a pinch. He has good speed and reportedly made big strides as senior after converting from quarterback and wide receiver to cornerback and safety. The knock against this pick is that many argue he would have been available later in the draft or after the draft. How anyone can know that is beyond me, but Thompson himself was somewhat surprised he was drafted. Also, more importantly, those who followed the Texas Longhorns say that Thompson never really stood out to them as a collegiate player. He certainly wasn’t a play-maker with the ball in the air (only two career interceptions). The keys with him will be his tackling (Giants say he is a good tackler) and his intelligence (Giants say he is smart). It seems as if the Giants are betting that the arrow is really pointing up with Thompson and that he has only scratched the surface given his late conversion to safety. I will say this, he has one of the stranger builds I’ve seen on an NFL defensive back…he has very, very long and thin legs…I would imagine that it is difficult for him to make sharp, quick cuts, hence the reason he was probably moved to safety by the coaching staff of the Longhorns. After the draft, the Giants remarked that Thompson would be a nice complement to Collins…so they clearly think he has starting potential.

WR Geremy Davis, 6’2”, 216 pounds, 4.47, University of Connecticut

Unless Geremy Davis is a kick-ass special teams player along the lines of Larry Flowers, Reyna Thompson, and David Tyree, his selection made the least sense to me. And worse, Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Chris Mara said the team almost drafted Davis in the 5th round. Davis has good size, strength, and excellent hands. My problem is that he simply is not very quick or fast. And while he doesn’t play to his timed speed (sub-4.5), the quickness issue is more disconcerting. How is a receiver who had issues separating from collegiate defensive backs going to separate from NFL defensive backs?

Geremy Davis, Connecticut Huskies (September 6, 2014)

Geremy Davis – © USA TODAY Sports Images

“He doesn’t play to that time speed as much,” said Jerry Reese.

“A big guy like that is going to make it as your fourth receiver,” said Marc Ross.

“I don’t know if he is going to separate the way some of people that we have would,” said Tom Coughlin.

Talk about setting a low bar. I don’t get it. These types of guys are a dime-a-dozen and you can sign them usually after the draft. Either this was an exceptionally weak draft class or Davis is quicker than advertised or the Giants screwed up. On the surface, this feels like a lazy pick. If he turns out to be Reyna Thompson, good pick. But that’s a really high bar.

OG Bobby Hart, 6’5”, 329 pounds, 5.67, Florida State University

Bobby Hart, Florida State Seminoles (August 30, 2014)

Bobby Hart – © USA TODAY Sports Images

I have no problem with the last pick. Bobby Hart played right tackle at Florida State but is strictly a guard at the NFL level. For a 20-year old, he has a ton of experience, having started nine games as a 17-year old freshman and starting all 28 games for FSU as a junior and senior. He’s another huge 330 pounder who can maul you in the run game. He started three years at tackle on one of the best teams in college football. The question with him is does he have the feet/mobility to play guard at the NFL level? He ran in the 5.6 range – which is really bad. But I think he’s good value for a 7th round selection. And Heaven knows the Giants can certainly use some quality offensive line depth.

Summary

Six players. On paper, three “good picks” and three “questionable” ones. Usually that sounds like a “C” grade for a team. But you have to give much higher value to the the top three picks. The Giants may have come out of this draft with three of the top 50 players available. If true, and they can get any serious contribution from Thompson, Davis, or Hart, this draft is a home run.

What the Giants Didn’t Accomplish

You can only do so much, especially with only eight picks (which turned into six after the Collins trade). The talent/depth situation at cornerback makes me nervous. While Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and the injury-prone Prince Amukamara look very strong, Trumaine McBride is a de facto starter as the nickel back. And depth is VERY thin unless you believe in Mike Harris, Chykie Brown, Chandler Fenner, Jayron Hosley, Trevin Wade, or Bennett Jackson.

Pray Victor Cruz rebounds near 100 percent because right now there is Odell Beckham and a whole lot of questions marks (yes, that includes Rueben Randle in my eyes). Adrien Robinson may be safe another year at tight end. It looks like the Giants are counting on the winner of the Cullen Jenkins/Kenrick Ellis/Jay Bromley/Markus Kuhn competition to become a viable starter alongside Johnathan Hankins. The Giants also did not draft a linebacker, although Cole Farrand, who they signed after the draft, is a very interesting pick-up.

May 042015
 
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New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Analysis

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

This is my draft analysis of the NYG picks and what I would have done differently with each pick. I do this every year, as it’s fun to look back years from now and compare draft classes.

I make my picks in REAL TIME. Meaning when NYG picks a player, I choose who I wanted at the time. As you’ll see, I selected a guy in the 6th round who went undrafted. I don’t wait until the draft is over and choose guys who weren’t selected yet.

And I feel the need to say this so some of you don’t have a heart attack: in no way do I view my knowledge of these guys higher than the NYG front office. They have more access to information that I do from start to finish. I do what I can and have connections here and there, but it’s not close to the resources they have. This is just a fun exercise and slightly different approach to analyzing a draft class.

In all reality, we won’t know a thing about “grades” for another 2+ years at the very least.


Ereck Flowers, Miami Hurricanes (October 4, 2014)

Ereck Flowers – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ROUND 1 (#9 Overall)
Ereck Flowers – OT/Miami – 6’6/329
#5 OT/#61 overall

As seen with where I had Flowers ranked, I didn’t think NYG got their value out of the pick. In no way do I look down on the selection or the player, I simply felt there were better players there and more importantly, better offensive linemen.

That said, as I stated in the OT preview, Flowers has an upside that very few OL have. His size and movement alone are worthy of a draft pick. Factor in his constantly-aggressive nature, quality tape over the past two years, and left/right versatility…one can easily make the case that Flower was a very good selection.

What does he bring to the table? NYG has needed more bullies along their offensive line for years. Too often we’ve been watching them get tossed around and physically overmatched. It almost seemed these guys were lesser than their opponents and they knew it. Bring in a force like Flowers and immediately the personality can be altered. We all know he has the size, weight room strength, and overpowering presence. But if you watch him enough (and by enough I mean a series of 10-12 plays) and you’ll find that Flowers takes a lot of pride in protecting his teammates. He hates to see his QB sacked. He fumes when defenders take extra hits at the ball carrier. It’s obvious Flowers is a protector of the offense and that is a role he takes a lot pride in. NYG has lacked that. They used to have an OL full of guys who wouldn’t hesitate a second to get in the face of an opponent if they felt a line had been crossed.

Why the lower-than normal grade on Flowers? As confident as one can be in his upside and eventual dominance, you have to realize there is just as good of a chance he doesn’t take his game to the next level. Physical attributes only bring you so far and we wouldn’t need a lot of time to show you the countless examples of that in the NFL. Flowers has a lot of starting experience but he has some terrible, and I mean terrible, stretches where his mechanics and technique make him about as effective as a tight end. We all know he can be coached up and there are probably 200+ rookies entering mini-camps across the league who have the same line attached to their name. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. My fear with him is that he’s already had plenty of experience and some quality coaching to boot, yet he has several plays where he looked like a freshman OT who just made a switch to the offensive side last week. Time will tell.

Where do I see him down the road? I think Flowers will be a starting RT in the league for awhile. I would even venture to say that if things just “kind of” work out for him, he’ll have a starting role for a decade. The questions are will he ever play the left side? And will he be a Kareem McKenzie type? My unbiased guess for both is no. I think Flowers projects to be a little less than what we see Phil Loadholt being in Minnesota. Solid but unspectacular. A starter but not a guy who you put in stone for that long, as there will always be someone out there who can replace him.

WHO I WOULD HAVE PICKED
Andrus Peat – OT/Stanford – 6’7/313
#1 OT/#4 overall

It was tough to see Peat available (as I heard NYJ had him in their top 5 overall and I assumed he was going to be their pick at #6) and watch NYG pass on him. I’ve discussed Peat more than several times over the past 6+ months, so I won’t be overly repetitive here. Peat is a left tackle of the future type. He has better feet, better hand placement, better balance, and better flexibility than Flowers. There isn’t much debating that if you watch the two back to back. Peat, however, doesn’t have the body NYG was looking for and I am convinced that was the major factor between the two that led to NYG selecting Flowers. Peat had a slight pectoral issue, a minor elbow issue, and battled a sickness throughout pre-NFL Combine training. None of which were red flagged by NFL doctors anywhere but it hampered his training. Just bad timing. Even with that in the picture, Peat had a couple impressive workouts at the combine an pro day. This guy has football in his blood and I think he is further along and more equipped for dealing with NFL defensive linemen. There are a couple issues that need fixing, but I am a lot less nervous with Peat and his progression than Flowers. I feel Peat is starting off at a higher point and they have equally high ceilings. Very curious to see how he fares in New Orleans, where he will likely play RT.


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

Landon Collins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ROUND 2 (#33 Overall)
Landon Collins – S/Alabama – 6’0/228
#1 S/#15 overall

When I saw NYG made the trade up, I didn’t think of a single prospect other than Collins. I’ve been saying since the beginning of the process that NYG would have a nice grade on him, as he fits exactly what they lost out on in Rolle. I also stated that Collins plays the game very similar to what we saw in Rolle throughout his NYG career, however he is obviously a younger and more athletic version.

What exactly is NYG getting in Collins? Your typical answer is going to be that he is an in-the-box safety with the size and tackling ability of a linebacker. That’s true. But if you took the time to watch his games in their entirety over the course of the past two years, there weren’t enough roles in the Alabama defense for this guy. Strong safety? Check. Free safety? Check. Nickel cornerback? Check. Cornerback? Check. Weakside linebacker? Check. He can do it all and when you have a guy in the secondary who can do that at a high level, the options you have are limitless. Collins won’t stick with Dez Bryant in man coverage. He won’t roam the deep Cover 1 role like Earl Thomas. I get it. How many safeties can? I am more concerned with a safety’s ability to tackle, be in the right place at the right time, direct traffic, and have the versatility to prevent a quarterback from knowing where he is going to be and what his role is on a given play. Collins does all of that for the defense.

Where will Collins struggle? When he is asked to play with his back towards the quarterback, he can become lesser of a player. He has all the downhill and lateral pursuit speed and quickness you can ask for. But when he is roaming in deep coverage and needs to make left/right reads and decisions, there is definitely stiffness there. Besides that, Collins doesn’t have a glaring weakness and I think that is what NYG likes most about him.

For those that say he isn’t fast enough or he doesn’t make plays, I think you are wrong (respectfully). I have a guy who clocked him at 4.45 and 4.49 at the combine. Those “official” numbers are not used by everyone. And I would venture to say that they are not used more so than they are by teams. He carries 220+ with ease. He has really long arms. He is always moving in the right direction. He gets others moving in the right direction. Coaches and teammates always talk about his impact on others. That’s the kind of defender who needs to be brought in to play this up-and-down, left-and-right type role. And the icing on the cake? He’s been one of the best special teams gunners Nick Saban has ever had.

WHO I WOULD HAVE PICKED
Landon Collins – S/Alabama
#1 S/#15 Overall

Nothing else to add here, Collins was without a doubt my top available player left. Love the trade up and wouldn’t lose sleep over a 4th rounder (less than 15% success rate). Collins was needed on this defense and getting him at #33 was great value.


Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA Bruins (August 30, 2014)

Owamagbe Odighizuwa – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ROUND 3 (#74 Overall)
Owa Odighizuwa – DE/UCLA – 6’3/267
#1 DE/#17 Overall

As you can see, my grades are my own and the rankings of others will never deter me from my own thoughts. My rankings are based on how I think these guys will perform over their career, not how high they will be drafted over the weekend. For the first time in a few years, I let out a very loud “YES!” after a NYG selection on day 2 of the draft. The Odi selection was the best value pick NYG has made ever since I’ve been grading players and he was also the top value pick of the weekend (among all teams).

When you watch Odi on tape, it’s hard not to admire two things from start to finish. His body and his relentless motor. Odi looks like he’s been etched out of stone for the NFL 4-3 DE position. He’s evenly distributed muscle wise, he has long arms and huge hands and his joints are surrounded with an abundance of stable muscle. Ironic that his main red flag was a hip injury. Oh well. Odi brings an explosive and flexible edge rusher who can power his way through a tackle or run by him on one play, and an inside match-up problem on the next. He can certainly be moved around. I know we all think about pass defense when looking at DEs, but Odi may come in and give NYG another JPP-caliber run defender for the outside. That is a huge factor here that can impact this defense in a big way.

Some information (nothing earth-shattering) regarding the hip: there are teams in the league that didn’t even factor it in to his final grade. There are teams that took him off their board entirely. It’s crazy how there can be such differing opinions about a player’s injury past. From what I have heard and read, NYG didn’t downgrade him at all from it and he was likely a #30-#45 overall guy on their board. Their biggest issue is likely what I discussed in my report of him, he has a hard time disengaging from blockers far too often at the collegiate level. When he gets the initial pop out of his stance and his hands inside, he usually fared pretty well. But if he was hit from an unexpected angle or didn’t get off the ball fast enough, he was very ineffective. There are mechanical flaws here and there but what I noticed the most was a consistent lack of awareness and/or instinctual movement. Odi is a fast-twitched, good reaction guy but he rarely got himself in position prior to the action. He got by because he was simply that much more talented than everyone he played against.

It’s hard to tell what his role will be in the Steve Spagnuolo defensive scheme. But I think we can eventually expect a Justin Tuck type when he learns the scheme and earns his stripes. From everything I am told, he is very coachable and brings the blue collar approach on a daily basis. I think he’ll be a coach’s favorite, media favorite, teammate favorite, and fan favorite. He is exciting to watch, he works hard, and his limit is through the roof.

WHO I WOULD HAVE TAKEN
Owa Odighizuwa – DE/UCLA – 6’3/267

Again, another pick I was on the same exact page with but in all honesty, he would have been a round 2 option for me if Collins was off the board. Ecstatic about this guy and I think he will be a game changer.


Mykkele Thompson, Texas Longhorns (October 27, 2012)

Mykkele Thompson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ROUND 5 (#144 Overall)
Mykkel Thompson – S/Texas – 6’2/191
#31 S/#324 overall

Based on what I read on the surface, this has been the most “controversial” pick of the bunch. But getting bent out of shape about it is just wrong. Disagree? Fine. But totally blasting anyone for making a pick this late in the draft is just foolish. Thompson has size and speed, good versatility grades and was held in very high regard by the coaches and support staff at Texas. He has the traits the front office and coaches were looking for, end of story.

Many people don’t know much about Thompson and what can bring to a defense. He is tall and lean but showed a good amount of functional strength on the field. He is a long strider with the speed to catch up to guys from behind and to be honest, he may play even faster than a 4.45 guy normally would. I spent a lot of time scouting the Texas CB Quandre Diggs. He was a favorite of mine three years ago and he didn’t do very well in the eyes of people I respect over 2013 and 2014, thus I gave him lot of looks to see if there was still something there. Naturally, I got to see a lot of Thompson as well. He does have the athletic traits you want out of a guy who is paired with Landon Collins at the safety spots. He is easy and fluid in space, shows some intelligence out there. You want a deep cover man to have a lot of range, and that he does.

Why did I have a guy like this graded so low you ask? I think Thompson won’t be a good tackler in the NFL and he doesn’t have the quick-reaction to the ball. He lacks ball skills and doesn’t use his athleticism the you would think he should. We can talk about his speed and easy hips all day and rightfully so, but at the end of the day, he appears to be a better athlete than he is a football player. I just don’t like that type and I never will. They much more often than not, never pan out.

Thompson was a classic Reese/Ross mid to late round pick. A guy they could have gotten later but they took anyway because they like what he can do movement-wise. I won’t be critical of their selection but he isn’t a guy who makes me want to pass on players at other positions with much higher grades, that’s all. I feel you can get a Thompson-type every year in the UDFA period. Why use a 5th rounder on him? Regardless of that, I understand their idea to give Collins another young safety to work with as they grow up with different approaches and skill sets. But I don’t think this guy ever makes an impact on the defense long term.

WHO I WOULD HAVE PICKED
Tony Lippett – WR/Michigan State – 6’2/192
#9 WR/#55 overall

I discussed Lippett at great length a few times as a guy I would want to target on early day three of the draft. I knew he would be available and even though I didn’t consider WR a huge need, there was space on the roster for a rookie without a doubt. Lippett is a faster-than-he-runs player with a set of skills that very few receivers have when they enter the league. When you watch Lippett track a deep ball, go up in traffic, and move after the catch you’ll see what I mean. He has longer arms and bigger hands than a lot of offensive linemen and moves with the fluidity and easy-ness of an NFL caliber WR. He passed all of the tests in workouts besides the 4.6 forty. Sure, that hurt his grade but it didn’t kill him. Lippett played plenty fast in the MSU offense on tape. And a little extra here that I thought NYG would be interested in: he played some CB for the Spartans and he played it at a high level. That tells me he could have easily been a force on special teams as a core guy. But you know what? If he just didn’t pan out as a WR, it would be nice to see him get a shot at CB. His tool set would make scouts drool if that’s where he played all four years at Michigan State. It didn’t really factor in to his grade, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t factor in to the decision to draft him.


Geremy Davis, Connecticut Huskies (September 6, 2014)

Geremy Davis – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ROUND 6 (#186 Overall)
Geremy Davis – WR/UCONN
#26 WR/#175 overall

Slightly puzzled by the selection but again, I refuse to be critical of a 6th round pick. NYG sees something in this kid and they think he will be able to make an impact. There is a trend here with the selection of Davis that we’ve seen this front office use in the past. He came in to 2014 with pretty high expectations after a record setting junior year. Statistically he went backwards and the pre-draft workouts didn’t go as well as anticipated. Davis was expected to be a 4th/5th rounder if we discussed him at this time last year. NYG thinks they are getting a big time value here.

Davis is big and physical. He has a ton of length with big hands. He is limited as a route runner but a guy with this kind of size and catching ability can be used for sure. He is aggressive in a crowd and tough over the middle. Even with that said, I think this pick was primarily about special teams with the long term hope that he can develop a better WR skill set. He has an aggressive nature to him and will work his way up the special teams depth chart.

Why don’t we discuss his WR ability more? There just isn’t much there from an NFL perspective. NYG admitted he is a guy who doesn’t separate from defensive backs and that was my most glaring, consistent weakness that I had on him. It’s tough to get excited about a guy like this because Manning likes to have those quicker-than-fast receivers who can create room. Davis lacks the fluidity and assurance that gets a young player on the field.

I don’t think he will factor into this offense unless the injuries pile up. And when you look at special teams, we aren’t talking about a special guy there. I think there were several options that could have helped in that area more so than what we will see in Davis.

WHO I WOULD HAVE PICKED
Cole Farrand – LB/Maryland – 6’2/231
#6 LB/#58 overall

Here is proof that I make picks in real time, as Farrand ended up going undrafted and coincidentally picked up by NYG in the free agency period. In all honesty, I would be shocked if he didn’t make this team. He is exactly what this depth chart needs and I think he’ll be a starter down the road.

Farrand is a fiery player who is constantly playing through the whistle and trying to finish off each play with a sense of violence and power. He can read the action before and right after the snap, putting himself in position to make an impact. He is savvy when working his way through traffic towards the ball carrier. Rarely does he get locked on to and his late, explosive gear makes him a tough catch for linemen. Farrand has the sideline-to-sideline range and he is a guy who makes tackles at full speed with finishing power. I wasn’t expecting big time workout numbers but he finished with times that rival some of the best athletes at the position in the entire draft. I think this kid has it all.

Why does a kid like this slip in the draft? Well I think he is playing a position that has simply lost value in the eyes of many teams. He would have been a 2nd or 3rd rounder a decade ago but with the amount of roster spots designated to defensive backs and pass rushers these days, teams are simply showing less demand for this kind of player. Farrand lacks some bulk for between-the-tackles play as well. He weighed in at 231 but I wouldn’t be surprised if he played sub 225 his entire career at Maryland. That is just tough to do in the NFL. He is a guy who needs strength work.

Where would he fit in to this roster? Farrand is a much more athletic version of Mark Herzlich. I would love to see him replace Herzlich this year but I know the staff loves him. Farrand can be a special teams demon with his blend of speed and movement in tight spaces. He tackles well on the move and he plays like his hair is on fire. I think NYG needs more guys like this on defense. They are trending towards a more athletic LB group and Farrand only adds to that. I think he will be a starting NFL linebacker who can stay on the field all three downs.


Bobby Hart, Florida State Seminoles (August 30, 2014)

Bobby Hart – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ROUND 7 (#226 Overall)
Bobby Hart – OT/Florida State – 6’5/329
#29 OT/#321 overall

Another young (20-year old) kid who is still growing in to his body. Perhaps this is a trend we’ll look for in the draft for NYG. Hart was part of the best offensive line in the country last year. I think his future resides inside and it appears that’s where he is headed after seeing what the NYG decision makers discussed.

Hart is young but he already has a power presence that rivals guys that are older and stronger than him. He has heavy hands and knows how to use his hips to get a drive. Hart is considered a people mover and could likely hack it as a run blocker right away in the NFL. I think he could have been a higher draft pick had he been playing guard his entire career. His use of leverage and inside hand position shows he understands some of the finer points to playing along the OL.

Hart is a poor space athlete. He was exposed on several occasions at FSU and their protection schemes had to be shifted to aid him too many times. I would be surprised if NYG had any intention of keeping him at OT. Hart shows sloppy footwork and struggled to adjust to double moves and speed rushers. He isn’t ready for the speed and complexity of the NFL defensive pass rush schemes.

I think Hart will be a practice sqiad guy. He’ll be safe there because nobody is bringing this kid in to play in the league this year. Considering what he does have going for him now and the fact that he is still a baby in terms of physical progression, this can be considered a nice gamble by NYG. 7th rounders pretty much never work out statistically but this was a solid pick for them because of where he can be if he just tunes up a couple parts. He already has some things going for him that most OL selected this late need a couple years to develop.

WHO I WOULD HAVE PICKED
Ben Koyack – TE/Notre Dame – 6’5/255
#2 TE/#67 overall

As I said earlier, taking players this late in the draft is such a crap shoot. What I was looking for here was a guy who had a realistic shot at making the roster at a position of instability. I look at the NYG TE situation and I see a spot for a rookie who can play two ways (blocking/receiving). Koyack comes from a program that has been putting some quality TEs in to the league over the past decade and he will keep the trend going.

Koyack is a two-way tight end. Prior to the 2014 season he was know for his quality blocking and presence at the point-of-attack. He gets his big mitts on a defender with inside hand position and locks on well. Very quick-footed and easily won the battles in space against linebackers. This past season, however, Koyack was given the opportunity to run more routes and I think he showed glimpses of being a guy who could catch a lot of underneath passes. I gave him a top tier grade for hands and consistency of catching the ball. He is so reliable and will sneak by defenders up the seam if you sleep on him, he isn’t just a blocker who can catch easy balls. Koyack is a complete tight end who was stuck behind some quality guys on the depth chart for the majority of his career.

Koyack lacks the physical ability (speed/explosion/agility) that some are always needing when scouting a tight end. I think it’s less important in a situation that NYG is working with. I think there is a lot of value in a guy like Koyack, very much like what Jake Ballard gave NYG in 2011. I’ll be curious to see what he does in JAC but again, he will find himself behind some quality TEs for a year or two at least.


There you have it, guys. For the millionth time I do this for fun and to compare years down the road. In no way is this a negative post about the NYG decision makers. If anything…I feel they did as good a job on this draft as they’ve ever done. As always though, we’ll have to wait and see.

NYG DRAFT

1 – Ereck Flowers – OT/Miami
2 – Landon Collins – S/Alabama
3 – Owa Odighuzuwa – DE/UCLA
5 – Mykkel Thompson – S/Texas
6 – Geremy Davis – WR/Connecticut
7 – Bobby Hart – OT/Florida State

Sy’56 DRAFT

1 – Andrus Peat – OT/Stanford
2 – Landon Collins – S/Alabama
3 – Owa Odighizuwa – DE/UCLA
5 – Tony Lippett – WR/Michigan State
6 – Cole Farrand – LB/Maryland
7 – Ben Koycak – TE/Notre Dame

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

El Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Needs

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

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

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

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

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

Offensive Line

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

Defensive Line

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

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

Defensive Backs

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

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

Wide Receiver

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

Tight End

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

Linebacker

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

Summary

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

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

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

Landon Collins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Safeties

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

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

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

CURRENT SAFETIES on NYG ROSTER

Nat Berhe – 24 Years old – Signed through 2017

Cooper Taylor – 25 Years old – Signed through 2016

Thomas Gordon – 24 Years old – Signed through 2016

Josh Gordy – 28 Yeas old – Signed through 2015

WHERE THEY STAND

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

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Antrel Rolle/CHI

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

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

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

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

2 – Eric Rowe – Utah – 6’1/205 – 79

Upside Pro Comparison: Malcolm Jenkins/PHI

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Glover Quin/DET

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Devin McCourty/NE

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: T.J. McDonald/STL

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Kenny Vaccaro/NO

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: J.J. Wilcox/DAL

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Roman Harper/CAR

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Ryan Clark/RET

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Tyrann Matheiu/ARI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYG APPROACH

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

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

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

Kevin Johnson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Cornerbacks

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

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

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

CURRENT CBs on NYG ROSTER

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

Prince Amukamara – 26 Years old – Signed through 2015

Trumaine McBride – 30 Years old – Signed through 2015

Chykie Brown – 29 Years old – Signed through 2016

Mike Harris – 26 Years old – Signed through 2015

Chandler Fenner – 25 Years old – Signed through 2015

Jayron Hosley – 25 Years old – Signed through 2015

Bennett Jackson – 24 Years old – Signed through 2015

Trevin Wade – 26 Years old – Signed through 2016

WHERE THEY STAND

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

TOP 20 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Terence Newman/MIN

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Johnathan Joseph/HOU

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Byron Maxwell/PHI

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Brandon Flowers/SD

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Sean Smith/KC

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Xavier Rhodes/MIN

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Keenan Lewis/NO

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Greg Toler/IND

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Buster Skrine/NYJ

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Casey Hayward/GB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 – Kevin White – TCU – 5’9/181 – 73

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

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

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

17 – Ifo Ekpre-Olomu – 5’9/192 – 73

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

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

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

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

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

20 – Josh Shaw – USC – 6’0/204 – 72

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

NYG APPROACH

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

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

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

Stephone Anthony – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Linebackers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

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

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

CURRENT LBs on NYG ROSTER

Jon Beason – 30 Years old – Signed through 2016

Jameel McClain – 30 Years old – Signed through 2015

Devon Kennard – 24 Years old – Signed through 2017

JT Thomas – 27 Years old – Signed through 2017

Jonathan Casillas – 28 Years old – Signed through 2017

Mark Herzlich – 28 Years old – Signed through 2016

Terrell Manning – 25 Years old – Signed through 2015

James Davidson – 25 Years old – Signed through 2015

Uani Unga – 28 Years old – Signed through 2017

Victor Butler – 28 Years old – Signed through 2015

Ryan Jones – 24 Years old – Signed through 2015

WHERE THEY STAND

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

TOP 20 GRADES and ANALYSIS

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Derrick Johnson/KC

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Lavonte David/TB

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Jon Beason/NYG

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Emmanuel Lamur/CIN

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: DeAndre Levy/DET

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Kiko Alonso/PHI

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: David Harris/NYJ

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Demeco Ryans/PHI

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Manti Te’o/SD

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Chad Greenway/MIN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13 – Paul Dawson – TCU – 6’0/235 – 73

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYG APPROACH

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

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