Sep 302014
 
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Todd Gurley, Georgia Bulldogs (September 27, 2014)

Todd Gurley – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft: Quarter-Point Thoughts

By Colin Lindsay (Great Blue North Draft Report)

What have we learned so far… Truth is we may not have actually learned a whole lot through the New York Giants first four games of the year. We did learn that the weeks after wins are a whole lot more fun than the weeks after losses.  We also learned that if the Giants are plus multiple turnovers (Houston, Washington) they probably win, but if they are a net minus multiple turnovers (Detroit, Arizona) they most likely lose.  Now the test for the Giants will be can win their share of games where there is no real difference in the turnovers.

And it is going to be a test because there are no gimmies over the next 7-8 weeks on the Giants’ schedule. However, with a offense that appears to be getting into sync – although they’d probably still like to see a few more big plays – and a defense that has guys who can rush the passer and other guys that can cover – although they’ll likely be having to paper over weaknesses at both linebacker and safety – the Giants figure to be reasonably competitive the rest of the way, again assuming they don’t end up -2 or more too many weeks in turnovers. At the same time, they may have just a few too many deficiencies (see above), not to mention the SOS difficulty, to win more than 9-10 games.

As such we are kind of thinking the Giants currently look like a team that will end up with a mid-round pick at the 2015 NFL Draft – say somewhere between 14 and 18 – although that’s why they actually play the games. We also note the qualifiers that (a) team needs can change quite literally from week to week, and (b) that the ultimate quality of the upcoming draft is still to be determined based on a number of factors including how many underclassmen opt to turn pro this winter. However, the draft is a process and to paraphrase “we are where we are!”

For starters, it certainly appears that much of the doom and gloom about Eli, the TEs and the offensive line – not that some of it wasn’t warranted at the time – may have been somewhat overblown hysteria. Certainly, the emergence of Larry Donnell as a legitimate receiving threat – for the record, he’s on pace to catch over 100 passes this season – has arguably been the best storyline for the Giants so far this season. If nothing else, should the emergence of Donnell continue the rest of the season, it will almost certainly take TE off the board for the Giants early at the 2015 Draft, although it is still possible the team could address the position in later rounds this coming May.

There is something of a similar story along the offensive line. Indeed, heading into the season it appeared that the Giants #1 priority heading into the 2015 off-season would be to figure out to do at LT with incumbent starter Will Beatty continuing to struggle through the pre-season. However, after a somewhat rocky start in the season opener against Detroit, Beatty has been pitching shutouts. And breaking down the game tape suggests that there are indeed some things Beatty appears to be doing differently of late. For starters, Beatty appears to be getting off the snap much more crisply that he did last year and in the pre-season. In particular, Beatty had been tending to just stand up off the snap before moving toward his assignment, whereas this year he‘s coming off the snap much lower and more assertively toward the point of attack. Beatty also appears to be taking somewhat better angles in the pocket. In the past, for example, Beatty has tended to drift out toward the DE when the latter takes a wide route, which in effect shortened the distance the DE had to go to get around him; this year, though, Beatty has been staying tighter to the pocket and has been letting the DE come to him. It also appears that Beatty has simply been battling harder his year. Against Washington, for example, he had his knees buckled on 2-3 occasions, but he still managed to throw his body between the rusher and the QB and disrupt the rush.

At the same time, though, Beatty still displays some really labored footwork, especially when back-peddling. Indeed, Beatty’s feet look like a couple of pistons when he’s moving in reverse; in particular, there’s just way too much up and down movement in his footwork which tends to limit his lateral range. And because he lifts his feet so far off the ground when back-peddling, Beatty struggles to maintain his balance when he has to absorb contact from a defensive linemen when one of his feet is off the ground. Meanwhile, anyone who wants to see how its supposed to be done only needs to look down the line at RT Justin Pugh who has a smooth, easy slide step and really does kind of glide around the pocket without a whole lot of wasted motion.

What it all may mean is that OT may not be quite the priority at the 2015 draft that it appeared to be at the start of the season. While he’s far from the most polished guy at the position, Beatty likely won’t be going anywhere – at least in the short term – this off-season, and even if the Giants did decide that #65 wasn’t worth the cap figure, it appears that Pugh is likely the LT in waiting. That doesn’t mean the Giants won’t address the position at the 2015 draft, it just may mean that it may be more a RT/depth type player rather than a pure LT with a premium pick. And that may be a good thing because the 2015 OT draft class hasn’t developed as well had been expected. Its still likely that the top LT prospects like Ogbuehi, Scherff and Peat will be off the board by the middle of the opening round, but there is something of a drop-off to the next level. And that may have the Giants looking at RT prospects like Corey Robinson of South Carolina, Oklahoma‘s Tyrus Thompson or Ty Sambrailo of Colorado State in the 3rd or 4th rounds. (And for anyone actually checking out Robinson, #50 next to him is A.J. Cann, arguably the best OG prospect in this year’s draft, who’d bring a little of that old Chris Snee intensity to the unit were he still there in the second round, although that’s probably a longshot.)

In fact, assuming that the Giants pick somewhere toward the middle of this year’s opening round, its not clear that there will necessarily be a great match between their needs and the talent available. Of course, the one thing about the draft is that its hardly static and a whole bunch can and likely will change between now and May. Right now, though, it also looks like there won’t be any mid-first round locks at DE to fill the Giants other big need for a quality edge rusher to pair with Jason Pierre-Paul. Again the elite DE prospects like Leonard Williams and Randy Gregory look like they will be long gone by the time the Giants get on the clock, and while the second tier group has some talent including guys like Mario Edwards of Florida State, Florida’s Dante Fowler or Shilique Calhoun of Michigan State there are no locks at the position outside the top 2-3 guys and the team might be just as well served looking at one of several underrated emerging prospects at the position rising like BYU junior or Alvin Dupree of Kentucky.

Of course, its almost impossible to project what other general goals a team like the Giants might have entering an off-season that is still months away. However, it would not be a surprise at all here if the Giants head into 2015 looking to upgrade both the speed and athleticism in the back seven, especially at WLB and at safety, on defense, as well as continue to add impact players on offense. Unfortunately, for a team like the Giants, it does not look like 2015 is going to be a very good year at all at either safety or linebacker. Alabama’s Landen Collins is a potential top ten pick at safety, but he’s another player likely to be off the board when the Giants make their opening round pick and there is a real drop-off at the position after that, although a team could get lucky  in the 3rd round with someone like Derron Smith of Fresno State, Ole Miss’ Cody Prewitt, Kurt Drummond of Michigan State or Syracuse junior Durrell Eskridge. Meanwhile, there’s a better than even chance no LB will be chosen at all in this year’s opening round, although Washington WLB Shaq Thompson and Miami ILB Denzel Perryman look to be good value in the middle of the second round.

On the other hand, the 2015 Draft looks like it will be very deep at the offensive skill positions. Indeed, WR is quietly emerging as the deepest position in this year’s draft. And while the Giants did select Odell Beckham with their #1 pick this past May, they are hardly set at the position behind Beckham and Cruz. In fact, if there is a player who could be described as a perfect fit for the Giants’ offensive scheme it could very well be Stanford WR Ty Montgomery, a bigger (6-1, 215), faster version of what the Giants had hoped they’d get in Jerrel Jernigan. For the record, Montgomery has already scored receiving, rushing and return TDs this fall, after catching 61 passes in 2013 when he also was #2 in the country in KO returns with an average of over 30 yards per pop. Like last ear, though, the 2015 draft looks like it will be rich with receivers such that teams should be able to get players who can contribute right through the second day and into the 4th round.

Meanwhile, the $64K question for the Giants at the 2015 draft just might be whether they pull the trigger if Georgia RB Todd Gurley were still available when they make their opening round pick. For those that don’t follow college football, Gurley is being described as the best player in all of college football this fall with AP type ability (as a football player not a parent!). Its possible, however, that he slips out of the top 10 because of the position he plays. You’d have to figure, though, that while Rashad Jennings has been solid enough this year, new OC Ben McAdoo would just love to get his hands on a big back like Gurley who can break tackles in the open field and really put pressure on opposing defenses to really have to think about devoting extra resources to stopping the Giants running game, in the process hopefully opening things up even more for the passing attack. And while ending up with a stud like Gurley is probably still something of a longshot, we’d still expect the Giants to look to add another back with a premium pick next year from a draft that like the situation at WR. is exceptionally deep at the position.

Aug 282014
 
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Brandon Scherff, Iowa State Hawkeyes (January 1, 2014)

Brandon Scherff – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Early New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview

By Colin Lindsay (Great Blue North Draft Report)

The college football season kicks off this weekend, and while it is way to soon – like by about 5-6 months – for people to start saying ’this is THE guy I want for the Giants in 2015,’ it is never too early to start watching the top prospects for the upcoming draft. And while there is still much sorting out to be done before next spring‘s draft, the early signs are that the strengths of the 2015 draft could match up reasonably well with the primary needs the Giants are likely to be trying to fill this coming off-season.

Offensive Line

For starters, it certainly appears that it could be yet another banner at OT, which could be good news for the Giants if LT Will Beatty continues to struggle this fall and the Giants feel they need to go in another direction at the position. Indeed, there are as many as 4-5 potential top-10 left tackles, including Cedric Ogbuehi of Texas A&M, Cameron Erving of Florida State, Iowa’s Brandon Scherff and La’el Collins of LSU. All four had expected to enter the 2014 draft where each was projected to be at least a first-round prospect, but they ultimately opted to return to class for one more year. Ogbuehi, for example, is a better overall athlete than former teammate Jake Matthews, the 6th player picked this past May, while the Hawkeyes’ Scherff is a little ragged around the edges, but he’s a huge guy with freakish strength and athleticism. Meanwhile LSU’s Collins is a rugged run blocker who could ultimately play inside at the next level, but he also has the long arms, light feet and surprising agility of a prototype left tackle. FSU’s Erving, who has played only one year at LT after converting from DT, may have the most upside of the bunch. In the end, though, the top OT prospect this year may end up being Stanford junior Andrus Peat, who hasn’t received as much national ink to date, but who has remarkable size and strength, along with excellent agility and a nasty disposition.

The bad news part of the OT story for the Giants, if in fact they head into the 2015 draft in search of an elite pass-blocker OT to pair with Justin Pugh, is that all the best ones could come off the board early and there is something of a drop-off to the next level at the position. However, there are several second-tier OTs this year who will be worth a look on the second day including 6-7, 350-pound Corey Robinson of South Carolina, along with Sean Hickey of Syracuse, Cincinnati’s Eric Lefeld, Daryl Williams and Tyrus Thompson of Oklahoma, Rob Havenstein of Wisconsin, Oregon’s Jake Fisher and unheralded Ty Sambrailo of Colorado State, who could just be the best prospect in the country nobody has heard of! And the depth at OT this year could be augmented if any of a small army of good, solid, although not yet elite, junior OT prospects enter the draft, including Spencer Drango of Baylor, D.J. Humpries of Florida, Le’Raven Clark of Texas Tech, Brandon Shell of South Carolina, Donovan Smith of Penn State, Miami’s Ereck Flowers, Jason Spriggs of Indiana, Taylor Decker of Ohio State, Tyler Marz of Wisconsin and Georgia’s John Theus.

Needless to say, the Giants also still have issues at OG, although they are probably less likely to use an early pick on the position than say at OT. Which is probably just as well as it does not look like there will be many, if any, OGs who are locks to be opening round picks next spring anyway, although Tre Jackson of Florida State and South Carolina’s A.J. Cann could be close. Jackson is a wide-body road-grader who is a dominating drive blocker with some short-area quickness, but isn‘t necessarily a great athlete, while Cann isn’t as big or physical, but is a better athlete and more polished technician. Meanwhile, there are some solid later second-day candidates at the position including Jackson’s FSU teammate Josue Matias and Alabama’s Arie Kouandjio, the brother of Cyrus Kouandjio who was considered to be a near-elite OT prospect last year, before a balky knee bumped him into the second round where he was selected by Buffalo. That second-day second-tier group could also get a boost if junior OGs Vadal Alexander of LSU and/or Landen Turner of North Carolina opt to enter the 2015 draft. However, even without much input from the underclassmen, there is some impressive depth at OG including the Miami’s Jon Feliciano, former teammate Malcolm Bunche who‘ll line up with UCLA this fall, 345-pound Quinton Spain of West Virginia, underrated Laken Tomlinson of Duke, John Miller of Louisville and Notre Dame’s Christian Lombard among others. Bottom line is that there could be potentially useful options at OG come next April/May well into the third day of the draft.

Defensive End

The Giants could also very well head to the 2015 draft looking to upgrade at DE if (1) Jason Pierre-Paul does not have a bounce back year this fall and/or (2) nobody really emerges to replace Justin Tuck on the other side. And like the situation at OT, defensive end looks like it will be one of the real strengths at the upcoming draft, although a lot will be depend on how many of this year’s top underclassmen ultimately opt to turn pro this winter. There are, for example, at least three junior DEs – Shilique Calhoun of Michigan State, Southern Cal’s Leonard Williams and Randy Gregory of Nebraska – with the top 5-10 potential, although they are very different players. USC’s Williams, for example, at 6-5, 295, is built more like a DT – and could ultimately play there in the NFL – but for now looks like a prototype 5-technique 3-4 DE in the J.J. Watt mold. The Huskers’ Gregory is a long, lean edge rusher who needs to add some bulk to better play the run – and at 6-6 has the frame to do so – but who has freakish athleticism and may have the most upside of the trio. Meanwhile, Calhoun won’t blow away anyone with his measurables, but he’s strong, quick, and relentless coming off the edge.

There is also some really intriguing potential depth at DE in this year’s draft class. Florida State’s Mario Edwards, for example, could ultimately challenge USC’s Williams for the top-grade among 5-technique DEs, while juniors Dante Fowler of Florida and Ohio State’s Noah Spence and Trey Flowers of Arkansas are solid second-day types. So is 6-8 Baylor junior Shawn Oakman, the former Penn State transfer who is still learning the game, but who has a really unique size/speed combination. However, no DE is likely to draw as much attention through the pre-draft process as former TCU redshirt sophomore DeVonte Fields, who won’t play at all this fall. Fields looked all of the part of an emerging pass-rushing star as a true freshman two years, but played little last fall because of a foot injury and then got suspended this year when he allegedly threatened an ex-girlfriend. Meanwhile, other solid DEs to watch include James Rouse of Marshall, Ray Drew of Georgia, Jermauria Rasco of LSU and Nate Orchard of Utah, while other juniors that could have an early impact at the upcoming draft include Danielle Hunter of LSU, Charles Tapper of Oklahoma, Eli Harold of Virginia, BYU‘s Bronson Kaufusi and Missouri’s Shane Ray.

Tight End

It is hard to imagine that the Giants won’t want to do something at TE this coming off season. (In fact its hard to imagine that the Giants wouldn’t really like to do something at the position this week!) Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t appear that 2015 will be a banner year at the position. Florida State’s Nick O’Leary, for example, is currently the only tight end even remotely close to carrying a first-round grade and even he’s no lock to be taken all that early. O’Leary, the grandson of legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus, is something of a throwback type in that he’s a willing blocker with nice hands and that 6th sense to get open. But he isn’t all that big at around 6-3, 240, and he lacks the explosive speed and athleticism to be a true field-stretching receiving threat. Plus, there are going to be health concerns after O’Leary was involved in a second serious motorcycle accident this past spring. Meanwhile, Ben Koyack of Notre Dame and Ohio State’s Jeff Heuerman are both solid two-way TE prospects with prototype size and decent athleticism, although neither has been all that consistently productive to date in their college careers. Moreover, neither brings the skill set that the Giants are now looking for at the position. And there is another drop-off to the next level of TEs which includes pass-receiving specialists like Rutgers junior Tyler Kraft, unheralded Wes Saxton of South Alabama, Rory Anderson of South Carolina, MyCole Pruitt of FCS Southern Illinois, Clive Walford of Miami and Gerald Christian of Louisville. E.J. Bibbs of Iowa State and USC’s Randall Telfer are the next best two-way type TEs.

Quarterback

For the record, the other real strong position at the 2015 draft will be QB with as many another 4-5 possible top-10 candidates including juniors Marcus Mariota of Oregon, Brett Hundley of UCLA, and Stanford’s Kevin Hogan leading the way, along with Florida State redshirt sophomore Jameis Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner, and senior Bryce Petty of Baylor. Let’s hope the Giants aren’t interested as it would mean Eli had another bad year, but throw 27 picks again and all best just might be off. Just saying …

The Rest

Meanwhile, other positions that appear that they could be relatively strong in 2015 include running back with Todd Gurley of Georgia, Wisconsin’s Mel Gordon and T.J. Yeldon of Alabama leading the way. Safety could also be something of a strength with a deep class headed by juniors Landen Collins of Alabama and LSU’s Jalen Mills, as well as underrated Derron Smith of Fresno State. There is also some real talent at outside linebacker, although many of the top guys there including Vic Beasley of Clemson and rising star Benardrick McKinney of Mississippi State are more 3-4 edge rushers. Juniors Shaq Thompson of Washington and Oklahoma‘s Eric Striker, though, do have more than a little Ryan Shazier-type speed and explosion. There should also be a relatively strong middle linebacker group, although the top guys – including Denzel Perryman of Miami, UCLA‘s Eric Kendricks, Ramik Wilson of Georgia and A.J. Johnson of Tennessee – all look more like second-day types.

On the other hand, it may be a down year at wide receiver, cornerback and defensive tackle, although there will certainly be some good players at those positions this year. The top wide receivers, for example, should include juniors Amari Cooper of Alabama, Nelson Agholor of USC, Jaelen Strong of Arizona State and Maryland’s Stefon Diggs, along with seniors Rashad Greene of Florida State, Davante Parker of Louisville (if healthy), Antwan Goodley of Baylor and Stanford’s Ty Montgomery. Meanwhile, Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is a potential top-10 cornerback, although he’s not overly long at just 5-9, while Florida State junior P.J. Williams also has mid-to-late first round potential. At the same time, Michael Bennett of Ohio State, appears to be the consensus #1 defensive tackle prospect this year, although he’s still not considered to be more of an early-to-mid second round prospect as he is somewhat undersized at barely 290 pounds and has limited upside. Indeed, if any defensive tackles are likely to have an opening round breakthrough this coming spring, it may come from one or more of a solid second-tier group at the position including rising juniors Ellis McCarthy of UCLA (an imposing 6-5 330-pound specimen), Arik Armstead of Oregon (who at 6-8 is also physically imposing), Rice’s Christian Covington, and Malcolm Brown of Texas, along with seniors Carl Davis of Iowa, 335-pound Washington, NT Danny Shelton and underrated Tyeler Davison of Fresno State. As of now, though, each of these guys rates as more a second or third rounder. If there is a positive angle to the 2015 DT picture, though, its that it is a pretty deep class, such that there could very well be some potentially useful prospects at the position well into the third day of selections.

May 172014
 
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (May 8, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2014 NFL Draft Review: Eric’s Take

The New York Giants are not reloading; they are rebuilding. And while this rebuilding project does not reach down to the foundational level (head coach and quarterback), the offensive coaching staff was almost completely revamped (three new coaches, two re-assigned); core players have retired or been allowed to leave via free agency; an unprecedented 16 players were added in veteran free agency; and an additional 18 players have been added since the draft started.

Despite all of these roster additions, the New York Giants were not able to address every need in the 2014 NFL Draft. Team leadership was surprisingly candid about this immediately after the draft.

“In personnel, sometimes you can’t get everything,” said General Manager Jerry Reese. “You can’t just waive a magic wand.”

“You get seven picks, and you can’t take everything you need,” said Marc Ross. “You can’t have first round picks at every pick that you want and things that you think you need.”

How does a team that has added 34 players in the past three months still have significant holes? Because for a variety of reasons, too many picks in the last six NFL Drafts have not worked out and are no longer with the team. Hence the need for a major rebuilding project.

So before we look at what the Giants accomplished, let’s look at what they did not accomplish.

Ideally, the Giants would have liked to have added premium draft picks at the offensive tackle, tight end, defensive end, and linebacker positions. But as Reese and Ross said, you can’t do everything you want in one draft when you have so many needs.

Tight end has gotten more attention from fans, but the Giants have a glaring question mark at tackle. Will Beatty is coming off of a bad season and a significant injury that will hamper his preparation for the 2014 season. If he isn’t ready or struggles again, the passing and running games will suffer. Charles Brown, a former 2nd round pick of the Saints who was brought in for depth and insurance, struggled in New Orleans with inconsistent pass protection and penalties. The Giants could shift Justin Pugh to left tackle, but then who plays right tackle? Geoff Schwartz? Even he admits he is a better guard. James Brewer? He hasn’t taken the bull by the horns since drafted in 2011. Brandon Mosley or Stephen Goodin? Still relative unknowns.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin was surprisingly honest about his desire to add a tight end in the draft. “It has to work out for you and all of a sudden, bang, a couple guys were gone in that 2nd round and you say, ‘Wait a minute, how deep is that position and then who?’ Two of them (who we liked) are (drafted by other teams),” said Coughlin. “Yeah it’s a concern.”

So the Giants will have to hope that one of the following step up: journeymen Daniel Fells or Kellen Davis, or the talented but so far disappointing Adrien Robinson or Larry Donnell. I still would not write off the possibility of signing free agent Jermichael Finley if he can pass a physical.

On paper, the strength of the Giants defense seems to have shifted from the defensive line to the secondary. If true, I can’t recall at time when that was ever the case. Now the Giants must pray that Jason Pierre-Paul regains his 2011 form after two bad seasons. They must also pray that Damontre Moore develops into a quality pass rusher. Mathias Kiwanuka and Robert Ayers are not bad players, but they don’t scare anyone. Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, and Justin Tuck are just memories now. In 2014, the Giants may struggle to rush the passer.

Jerry Reese learned a valuable lesson in 2013: a good linebacker can dramatically improve the entire defense. Jon Beason proved to be an impact addition, not just because of his play, but perhaps more importantly due to his leadership. But Beason has had some significant injuries and the Giants still lack big-time playmakers at the outside positions. In a perfect world, the Giants would have added a top linebacking prospect. Jameel McClain may help, but he was just a guy in Baltimore. The Giants can get by with what they have (Spencer Paysinger, Jacquian Williams), but there is little depth and no special players.

OK, so let’s look at what the Giants did accomplish in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Adding an impact wide receiver was critical and the Giants appear to have done just that with the selection of Odell Beckham, Jr. in the 1st round. Last season, teams simply took Victor Cruz out of the game and dared the other receivers and tight ends to hurt them. They couldn’t. If Beckham develops into the player as hoped, the Giants will have the outside threat they have lacked since Week 2 of the 2012 NFL season when Hakeem Nicks became a shadow of himself. Beckham has it all except height. Since Eli Manning tends to throw the ball high, additional height would help but Beckham is very quick and fast, runs great routes, can make circus catches, and perhaps most significantly in the new Giants offense, is a tremendous run-after-the-catch receiver. Eli Manning has worked with Beckham in passing camps and fully endorses the selection. Unusually, there already seems to be chemistry there. Most encouraging is that there are reports that at least a half-dozen teams were trying to trade up to snag Beckham. He was picked right where the rest of the NFL seems to have expected him to go. Now if Rueben Randle could just develop, the Giants will be in very good shape at wide receiver.

In round two, most fans thought the Giants would draft an offensive tackle or tight end. But many were also thinking guard or center and the Giants arguably picked the best center in the draft with the selection of Weston Richburg. Richburg lacks ideal size, but most NFL centers are in the same size range (6’3”, 300lbs). He has everything else – strength, agility, quickness, smarts, work ethic, leadership qualities. Temperament wise, he has been compared favorably to Richie Seubert. J.D. Walton may start, but Richburg has the look of a 10-year starter. The Giants may even consider moving Richburg or Walton temporarily to guard if necessary. Richburg was expected to be drafted in this area of the draft and the only criticism that can be leveled here is that he was a “luxury” pick given the needs at tight end and tackle.

Fans debated before the draft how big a need was the defensive tackle position, especially given the free agent departure of Linval Joseph. Some said it was a big need. Others said they were relatively comfortable with the players behind Cullen Jenkins and Joseph’s replacement, Johnathan Hankins. But with the selection of Jay Bromley in the 3rd round, the Giants made it clear they wanted to add another quality prospect to compete with Mike Patterson and Markus Kuhn, as well as groom behind the 33-year old Jenkins. Bromley is the most controversial selection by the Giants. Most “draft experts,” and even Bromley’s agent, expected him to be drafted in rounds 4-6. Fans such as myself who have watched YouTube clips of him (always a dubious exercise) have come away with mixed evaluations. Some see a prospect who struggles at the point-of-attack while others have seen a guy who can penetrate and disrupt. Regardless, how Bromley develops or doesn’t develop will be a big factor in how this draft is evaluated years from now. To be brutally frank, the Giants have really struggled with their 3rd round selections (Jayron Hosley, Jerrel Jernigan, Ramses Barden, Travis Beckum, Gerris Wilkinson) not to mention bad luck with others (Chad Jones and Jay Alford). What we do know about Bromley is he is a guy who is easy to root for (see this outstanding New York Daily News article), he’s a New Yorker who grew up a Giants fan, and he does have good quickness and tenacity for the position. In addition, Bromley was a team captain at Syracuse. The Giants feel he can get bigger and stronger without affecting quickness. Jerry Reese went so far as to compare him to a shorter version of Chris Canty. In my personal view, ultimately, for Bromley to work out, he has to play far more stout at the point-of-attack then I saw on the limited YouTube video that I watched.

There was an intriguing post from BigBlueInteractive.com contributor Ross. Through the grapevine, he heard the following from a former employee of the Philadelphia Eagles:

Each year, teams think they found a few guys that are off the radar and can get them later in the draft for various reasons: injury, small schools, overshadowed etc. This year, one of those guys was Bromley. He said there was a buzz about him in recent weeks and thought he would get drafted earlier that the so called draft experts projected. He’s a “sleeper” and thought many teams wanted him. He said that he is the type of guy that no one talks about as so many teams are interested and they hope he slips. He said no one will work harder than him and Giants got a really good player. Said he was a sure 3rd round pick in his mind and also used the Chris Canty comparison as player type. Thought the Steelers or Bears would grab him in the 3rd which means that he didn’t think it was a reach at all.

As disappointed as many fans were with the “reach” of Bromley, they were equally excited about the Giants drafting RB Andre Williams, the nation’s leading rusher and Heisman Trophy candidate, in the 4th round. Name recognition goes a long way in making the average fan happy around draft time. That said, Williams looks like a very good value selection. A little oddly, running back was not perceived as big need by most Giants fans. This probably had to do more with talent issues at other positions than the true state of affairs, especially given David Wilson’s unsure status. In addition, while I’m a fan of Rashad Jennings, it’s still unknown if he can be the “bell cow” at running back. Williams is a throwback. He’s a big, powerful, bruising running back who seems more out-of-style in today’s pass-happy game. The biggest knock on Williams is his hands. He did not have a single reception in 2013 at Boston College. He also needs to hold onto the ball better (10 fumbles in three seasons). The Jennings-Williams duo gives the Giants backfield an entirely different feel. This is a sledgehammer combination that can wear down a defense if – and this is big “if” – the Giants can block for them up front.

Nat Berhe, the first of the Giants two 5th rounders, is an undersized heat-seeking missile who loves the physical side of the game. He is a big hitter and aggressive tackler. He also is another smart guy and former team captain. At worst, he should excel on special teams. At best, he could become the new in-the-box safety/linebacker in Perry Fewell’s three-safety package. “Well, you can compare it to the third safety role, that Deon Grant role as we’ve called it,” said Marc Ross. “That would be the most natural fit. This is what (Berhe) did and this is what that role was (in college).” The biggest knock on Berhe, other than his size, is that does not make many plays on the football in the air (five interceptions in three seasons).

The second 5th rounder, Devon Kennard, is one of those DE/LB ‘tweeners who the Giants have liked to draft in recent years, but who may not be a good fit for a 4-3 defense. Kennard is big, physical, smart, a team leader, and flashes as a pass rusher. But what we don’t know is if he has the quickness, agility, and speed to play linebacker at the pro level against pass-happy NFL offenses. I envision him as the equivalent to Mathias Kiwanuka (when he played at weakside linebacker), but the Giants have talked about him possibly being a candidate at middle linebacker. I question if he has the overall athleticism for that move. Some had projected Kennard to be drafted much earlier than the 5th round so this at least appears to be a good value selection.

The Giants final pick – CB Bennett Jackson in the 6th round – is also a good value pick. He was projected by some to go higher than this as well. Jackson is a former wide receiver who was converted to corner for the last two years of school at Notre Dame. Another team captain, he was limited his senior season by a shoulder injury. He is size-speed project with good intangibles but he faces stiff competition and numbers at the corner position on this roster. His best immediate prospect may be the Practice Squad unless he kicks ass on special teams in the preseason.

As for the 10 rookie free agents signed after the draft, the three most intriguing are TE Xavier Grimble, DT Kelcy Quarles, and DT Eathyn Manumaleuna. Safeties C.J. Barnett and Thomas Gordon also started a ton of games in the Big 10. Even had the Giants not had a huge need at tight end, Grimble would be an interesting signing. He has a nice combination of size, overall athleticism, and hands. His productivity at USC was hampered by injures and Lane Kiffin’s offense. He could surprise. Quarles was expected by some to be drafted as high as the 2nd-3rd round, but some have questioned his maturity and character. Manumaleuna may lack ideal size and athleticism, but he’s a disruptive football player who can play the run. The Giants also loaded up on defensive ends (Kerry Wynn, Emmanuel Dieke, and Jordan Stanton) and linebackers (Dan Fox and Justin Anderson), hoping one may be a diamond in the rough. Interestingly, 9-out-of-10 of the rookie free agent signings were on the defensive side of the football. None were on the offensive line.

Overall, this appears to be a respectable group. The Giants look like they have future starters in Beckham, Richburg, and Williams. Much depends on Bromley. Did the Giants reach again in the 3rd round or find a gem? The Giants will have to wait until 2015 to address their other needs at offensive tackle (unless Beatty rebounds), tight end (unless someone surprises), defensive end (unless Damontre Moore turns into a stud), and linebacker. The rebuilding project continues.

May 172014
 
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Video – CBS Sports: 2015 NFL Draft Preview

Early New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Running Backs

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Will Allen/Peterson

A few things to start this off…

  • These are not rankings because ranking prospects this far out from the 2015 Draft would be pointless.
  • This article is strictly about draft-eligible RBs.
  • It’s premature for me to allege that next year’s RB class will be the best in a decade. People were talking about how strong the 2014 QB crop would be, but then Oregon QB Marcus Mariota stayed in school, several others saw their stock decline dramatically, and a position that was initially projected to be a major strength in its draft class didn’t come anywhere close to living up to expectations. That being said, the potential is there for the 2015 RB class to be absolutely stacked.

Now let’s get started…

Todd Gurley, Georgia Bulldogs (November 23, 2013)

Todd Gurley – © USA TODAY Sports Images

A high ankle sprain suffered against LSU in late September hampered Georgia’s Todd Gurley (6’1”, 232 pounds) throughout his sophomore season, forcing him to miss three games and deleteriously affecting his level of play when he pushed through the pain. Head coach Mark Richt publicly acknowledged that Gurley was not yet 100 percent healthy at the start of spring practices. But reports surfaced in the following weeks that he was completed healed by late March and looked like his old self in the spring game.

Gurley is a violent runner with the power to explode through would-be tacklers and methodically wear down defenses as the game progresses. But what makes him a unique talent is his ability to see the hole, make a decisive cut, and accelerate through the opening with a sudden burst for a back of his size. It would also be unfair to classify his speed as deceptive because he ran 10.7 in the 100m coming out of high school and has shown breakaway speed on numerous occasions in each of the last two years.

To go along with his combination of speed and power, Gurley also flashes a great stiff arm, tremendous balance after absorbing contact to bounce off defenders, underrated agility, and a ton of value as a pass receiver out of the backfield.

The ultimate wild card in next year’s running back class will be Florida State’s Karlos Williams (6’1”, 219 pounds), a freak athlete with tremendous physical tools and unlimited potential who began the 2013 season as a safety before switching to offense in early September.

Williams, the No. 4 overall recruit in the nation in 2011 according to 247 Sports’ composite rankings, struggled to earn playing time in a loaded secondary and failed to live up to the lofty expectations that surrounded him when some compared him to Sean Taylor coming out of high school. However, Williams finally embraced the position switch and went on to have a very productive season in a supporting role as a complimentary back.

With a rare blend of size, power, speed, quick feet, and a lethal jump cut, Williams has as much potential as any running back in the country. Williams will likely be the lead back in a multi-headed attack that will also feature five-star freshman Dalvin Cook and sophomore Ryan Green.

Before he suffered a torn ACL in his right knee last October against Tennessee, Georgia’s Keith Marshall (5’11”, 219 pounds) wasn’t getting enough recognition as one of the best running backs in all of college football. Largely overshadowed by his more heralded running mate, Todd Gurley, Marshall was the lightning to Gurley’s thunder in Georgia’s backfield.

Marshall, an explosive home run hitter who was known for his sudden explosiveness through the hole and breakaway speed in the open field, bulked up to 219 pounds and was running with more power and physicality that added another dimension to his game. The season-ending injury robbed Marshall of an opportunity to seize an expanded workload with Gurley sidelined due to an ankle injury that hampered him throughout the year.

Although Marshall is reportedly ahead of schedule in his recovery, Georgia has not ruled out the possibility of redshirting him for the 2014 season and having him return in 2015 with two years of eligibility remaining. The Bulldogs’ backfield would still be loaded with Gurley, sophomore J.J. Green, and heralded five-star freshmen Nick Chubb and Sony Michel forming an outstanding rotation of backs. But Marshall is a terrific talent to monitor no matter when he returns to action.

A total package runner with a dynamic blend of power and speed, South Carolina’s Mike Davis (5’9”, 216 pounds) has a very strong lower half, runs behind his pads, and flashes relentless leg drive on contact to push the pile and pick up additional yardage. Davis is as tough and competitive as any back in the country, as evidenced by the way he consistently finishes his runs with authority.

Most known for his physical running style, Davis is a deceptively well-rounded back with impressive balance, burst out of his cuts, elusiveness to make defenders miss in space with quick feet, and the ability to break off explosive plays on the ground. He also showed natural hands out of the backfield as a sophomore and should continue to be featured heavily as a pass receiver.

Although Davis runs with a low center of gravity and is often the one delivering punishment in collisions with defenders, nagging shoulder, rib, and ankle injuries had a noticeable effect on him physically down the stretch of his first full season as the Gamecocks’ workhorse back.

Having bulked up this offseason, Davis says he’s fully healthy and ready to continue handling a sizable workload, though he should be complemented nicely by promising redshirt freshman David Williams.

Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon (6’1”, 207 pounds) would have easily been the top-rated running back prospect in the 2014 class had he chosen to declare for the draft following his redshirt sophomore season. But Gordon opted to stay in school to continue to develop and chase a Heisman Trophy, despite the fact that the 2014 running back class was considered weak and next year’s has the potential to be the best in years.

A natural slasher whose running style is eerily reminiscent of Jamaal Charles’, Gordon is a very fluid runner and natural home run hitter with impressive burst and top-end speed. The biggest question mark surrounding Gordon is that he is completely unproven as a pass receiver, as he has just three receptions to this point in his college career.

While his decision to stay in school meant that he’ll be competing with several other premier talents as opposed to being the consensus top-rated running back – which he would have been had he declared for the 2014 NFL Draft – Gordon will almost certainly be an early-round selection as long as he avoids injury.

The next running back from the Crimson Tide’s pipeline to the NFL who’s set to attract early-round attention is Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon (6’2”, 218 pounds), a three-down contributor with a gliding style of running who has great vision and a natural feel for the position.

The lead back in what promises to be the deepest and most talented stable of runners in the entire country, Yeldon displays patience when running between the tackles and has great feet for such a big-bodied back. Not only does he possess enough elusiveness to make defenders miss in space on occasion, but he has also become a physical runner who fights for yards after contact. While Yeldon has proven to be a workhorse with dynamic qualities, he also runs very upright and has had serious ball security issues.

Yeldon will be complemented in Alabama’s backfield by a sophomore standout who’s workload should steadily increase as the season progresses (Derrick Henry), an explosive change of pace back with great top-end speed who has also been in the coaching staff’s doghouse for fumbling issues (Kenyan Drake), and a five-star freshman who faces an uphill battle to earn immediate playing time (Bo Scarbrough).

Next year’s draft has the potential to be loaded with productive high-profile running backs from power conferences, many of whom who were once highly recruited and have been in the national spotlight ever since. But Boise State’s Jay Ajayi (6’0”, 215 pounds) is an exception to that rule who has a chance to enter the conversation as one of the premier draft-eligible backs in the country this year.

Ajayi has tremendous acceleration, impressive balance, and quick feet for a 215-pound back. He’s a powerful, physical runner who accumulates yards after contact and also flashes an effective spin move. With former Boise State coach Chris Petersen taking over at Washington, it’s expected that the Broncos will be implementing a new offensive philosophy predicated on more of a power run game.

While he must clean up ball security issues that put him in the doghouse at times during his redshirt sophomore season, Ajayi is expected to be a workhorse and the focal point of Boise State’s offense this season.

A quick, shifty ball carrier who runs with deceptive power for a back his size, Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah (5’9″, 195 pounds) opted to stay in school for his senior season in order to earn his degree before heading to the next level. Abdullah, who led the Big 10 in rushing yards last season, seemed to get stronger as games progressed last year.

A multi-dimensional back who flashed potential as a receiver out of the backfield, Abdullah is a player who should be featured more predominantly in the passing game in 2014. He runs with a low center of gravity and doesn’t go down easily, displaying powerful leg drive to accumulate yards after contact as well as elusiveness in space to make defenders miss.

Abdullah’s lateral agility and acceleration out of his jump cuts are very impressive. But the most glaring weakness in his game is ball security, as he has fumbled 20 times in his first three seasons at Nebraska.

A multidimensional weapon who has changed his style of running over the past couple years is Miami’s Duke Johnson (5’9”, 206 pounds), who’s still recovering from surgery to repair a broken right ankle he suffered last November. Johnson arrived at Miami as a 180-pound scatback who was heavily reliant on speed and quickness, but he’s bulked up to 206 pounds over the past two offseasons and become a different type of runner.

While the added weight has clearly taken away a bit of Johnson’s top-end speed, he flashes a powerful stiff arm and fights for yards after contact as well as anyone in the ACC. Johnson led the conference with an average of 3.3 yards after contact per rush before his season ended prematurely due to injury.

Johnson, who suffers from migraines, must answer questions about his durability and ball security this season. Not only did he play through a nagging foot injury as a freshman when he was in a timeshare with current Bucs RB Mike James, but he was also unable to finish games against South Florida and North Carolina last season. Johnson also had issues protecting the football, as he coughed up the rock twice inside the opposing five-yard line against South Florida and fumbled again a week later against Georgia Tech.

There is no question, however, that Johnson is an invaluable cog of the Hurricanes’ offense and that he’s primed for a big year if he’s able to stay healthy. The arrival of prized recruit Joseph Yearby and hopeful emergence of Gus Edwards (ran 4.54 at 232 pounds during spring workouts in late April) could help to keep Johnson’s workload manageable throughout the season.

Indiana’s Tevin Coleman (6’1”, 210 pounds), who was unable to play in the final three games of the 2013 season due to an ankle injury, is one of the most intriguing and underrated draft-eligible running backs in the country. Guys like Coleman, Melvin Gordon, and Ameer Abdullah are currently breaking the mold and shattering the stereotype of Big 10 running backs from years past that lacked top-end speed and home run ability.

If Coleman manages to stay healthy, there’s a legitimate chance that he could join the two aforementioned runners as well as Jeremy Langford as one of the premier backs in the conference. Coleman, who has said he expects to be more involved in the passing game this season after flashing potential as a receiver out of the backfield last year, is a dangerous space player with impressive burst and outstanding top-end speed.

Coleman is currently ranked by CBS Sports as the 31st-best running back among those eligible to declare in 2016. I believe he’s a much, much better prospect than that ranking indicates.

A fourth-string running back until the midseason firing of then-head coach Lane Kiffin, USC’s Javorius Allen (6’1”, 215 pounds) exploded onto the scene when given an opportunity to crack the lineup as a result of injuries to other backs and a recommendation to interim replacement Ed Orgeron from RB coach Tommie Robinson.

Tre Madden suffered a hamstring injury against Arizona in mid-October, causing him to play sparingly down the stretch. And Justin Davis went down for the season with an ankle injury against Notre Dame a week later. While Silas Redd initially became the primary ball carrier in their absence, he also missed time with a knee ailment and was unable to reclaim the starting job when he returned to action against UCLA.

Allen capitalized on the opportunity by becoming a big-play machine in the month of November, surpassing the 120-yard rushing mark in four out of five games and scoring 11 total touchdowns during that span.

A one-cut downhill runner with good speed for his size who was utilized effectively as a pass receiver on screens a year ago, Allen should continue to receive plenty of carries despite improved depth at the position. It’s worth noting that Allen is an older prospect who turns 23 in August.

Texas A&M’s Trey Williams (5’8”, 195 pounds) is an extremely dynamic talent who jumped off the screen every time I watched the Aggies play a year ago. Williams has tremendous feet, excels at making people miss, and flashes an impressive burst as well as top-end speed. His elusiveness and home run ability serve him well on special teams, as he was one of the most dangerous kick returners in the nation as a redshirt freshman.

Former starting running back Ben Malena was the one A&M’s coaching staff trusted the most in pass protection, which is why he saw the most playing time among a group of more talented backs that included Williams, Brandon Williams, and Tra Carson. Now that Malena has graduated, Williams is in line for a much-expanded role. Watch for him to be one of the most exciting skill players to watch in the SEC.

A pair of talented senior running backs in line for expanded workloads should have ample opportunity to audition for the next level in the nation’s most prolific rushing offense. Auburn’s Corey Grant (5’11”, 205 pounds), who originally signed with Alabama back in 2010 before transferring after his freshman season, possesses blazing speed and has shown the ability to turn the corner with ease as an outside runner. But Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has also cited his improvement at running in between the tackles, which projects as a major factor behind the expectation that he’ll be able to handle double-digit carries per game in a timeshare of sorts.

Auburn’s Cameron Artis-Payne (5’11”, 210 pounds), a three-star JUCO transfer who was an effective change of pace back in a limited role last season, will likely do much of the heavy lifting as an inside runner. Artis-Payne, whose running style should complement Grant’s nicely, has quick feet in the hole and sets up his blocks effectively before sprinting to daylight. Running backs coach Tim Horton has said that there is no clear favorite at the moment to fill the void left by Tre Mason. But Grant and Artis-Payne, who split reps with the first-team offense throughout spring practice, are both expected to earn significant roles in the Auburn backfield. However, five-star freshman Roc Thomas may threaten for early playing time.

When Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin were sidelined due to injury, Baylor’s Shock Linwood (5’8”, 200 pounds) proved in two consecutive games that their ground attack wouldn’t skip a beat when the aforementioned backs left the program at the end of the season. Linwood – who posted consecutive 180+ yard outings on the ground against Oklahoma and Texas Tech, respectively, in mid-late November – displayed the potential that he could develop into one of the best backs in the Big 12 as early as this season.

A quicker-than-fast back with a compact build who runs with great balance and a low center of gravity, Linwood is expected to be the primary ball carrier as part of a three-headed attack in Baylor’s backfield. But he’ll have to fend off redshirt freshman Johnny Jefferson, a phenomenal athlete who had a monster spring.

Others to watch…

Oregon RB Byron Marshall (5’10”, 201 pounds) – Faded down the stretch before suffering an ankle injury against Arizona in late November. But Marshall and sophomore Thomas Tyner, both of whom have also been getting reps at wide receiver this spring, should form one of the top 1-2 punches in the country.

Michigan State’s Jeremy Langford (6’0”, 205 pounds) – A model of consistency for the Spartans as a sophomore, Langford surpassed the 100-yard mark on the ground in eight consecutive games to close the regular season. He is a tough, rugged runner who excels at generating yards after contact and possesses underrated speed, though he was more of a chain mover than a home run threat last season.

Texas A&M’s Tra Carson (6’0”, 230 pounds) – The thunder back in the Aggies’ running back rotation, Carson is in line for a much-expanded workload and has reportedly earned the coaching staff’s trust in pass protection more than the others competing for playing time.

Texas A&M’s Brandon Williams (6’0”, 200 pounds) – The Oklahoma transfer saw limited playing time a year ago and was slowed this spring by a minor injury. But he brings an added dimension to the Aggies’ backfield and has a tremendous amount of potential if the light finally comes on.

Alabama’s Kenyan Drake (6’1”, 201 pounds) – Severe ball security issues and the team’s remarkable depth at the position could jeopardize his ability to earn consistent playing time. But Drake, who’s built like a wide receiver, is a nice potential complement to Yeldon and Henry because of his burst, agility, and home run ability.

Washington’s Dwayne Washington (6’2”, 221 pounds) – The possible successor to Bishop Sankey in the Huskies’ backfield, Washington overcame early-season fumbling problems to show flashes late in his redshirt freshman campaign. Shaq Thompson, an elite linebacker prospect who may play on both sides of the ball this season, could also see snaps at running back for Washington.

Texas’ Malcolm Brown (6’0”, 225 pounds) – The former five-star recruit overcame injury setbacks from earlier in his career to be a workhorse in the Longhorns’ offense once Johnathan Gray suffered a torn right Achilles’ tendon against West Virginia in early November. Brown is a between-the-tackles banger who runs with power and finishes consistently.

Louisville’s Michael Dyer (5’9”, 215 pounds) – A once-heralded talent who has run out of second chances because of past off-the-field incidents involving guns and marijuana, Dyer will have to work his way up the depth chart after recovering from a sports hernia injury for which he underwent surgery in December. Dyer still has plenty of ability and potential, but he turns 24 in October and must prove that his baggage is in the past.

Oklahoma State’s Tyreek Hill (5’9”, 185 pounds) – Head coach Mike Gundy says the explosive JUCO transfer is “at a different level, speed-wise, than anybody I’ve ever coached.” Hill, who generated rave reviews this spring, is expected to be a movable chess piece who will receive touches from multiple spots along the formation, including running back.

May 082014
 
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New York Giants 2014 NFL Draft Review

Draft Pick Scouting Reports
Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports
Eric’s Take on the 2014 Draft

Round Pick in Round Overall Selection Player Selected Video
1 12 12 WR Odell Beckham, Jr., LSU (Video)
2 11 43 OC Weston Richburg, Colorado State (Video)
3 10 74 DT Jay Bromley, Syracuse (Video)
4 13 113 RB Andre Williams, Boston College (Video)
5 12 152 S Nat Berhe, San Diego State (Video)
5 34 174 LB Devon Kennard, USC (Video)
6 11 187 CB Bennett Jackson, Notre Dame (Video)

2014 Draft Pick Scouting Reports

1st Round – WR Odell Beckham, Jr., 5’11”, 198lbs, 4.38, LSU
Odell Beckham, New York Giants (May 8, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SCOUTING REPORT: Beckham was junior entry but a three-year starter at LSU. Beckham lacks classic size, but he is a well-built receiver with the speed, quickness, agility, and acceleration to separate and threaten defenses vertically. He has an explosive element to his game. Beckham has long arms and big hands, giving him a very good catch radius. Beckham runs very good routes, adjusts well to the football in the air, and has good hands catching the ball though he is guilty of an occasional drop. He is very elusive and dangerous with the football in his hands after the catch. He is a tough, aggressive, physical, competitive receiver who does not shy away from contact. Smart and hard working. Beckham is also a dangerous kickoff returner.

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

Odell Beckham, wide receiver and return specialist from LSU. It was a really good pick for us. We obviously wanted to address the wide receiver position, as well as other positions. He was the highest guy on our board, number one, and he brings a lot to the table for us. He’s a dynamic receiver, dynamic punt returner and a dynamic kickoff returner. You are getting a guy that can score touchdowns in three different ways for you. There’s no way we would pass him up.

Q: Were you at all surprised at the way things panned out, I know you said Beckham was number one on your board, but were there other alternatives that could have helped you as well?

A: Yeah, there were a couple more guys up there that we talked about that we liked. Beckham had too much value and need for us at that spot. He is speed on the outside. There are guys he plays with in the SEC, that whatever side [Beckham] goes to, those guys back up. He is that big speed that you need on the outside that can go get that ball. He is almost pro-ready. We obviously think he is going to get better with pro coaching, but we think he is pro-ready now. He is a terrific route runner, and we love the pick.

Q: As you saw the way the round was going, were you really happy at 12 when you saw it was going the way you wanted?

A: I think it went well for us. They came off the board good for us. We were hoping a quarterback or two would go up there, and then when those secondary guys went, that pushed some guys down that we were talking about.

Q: Does the pick speak to the “punch” the offense needed after last year?

A: We are talking about the quarterback needing some help, and this guy is a weapon. He needs a weapon on the outside, and Victor [Cruz] is more of an inside receiver. Victor can’t play outside. Rueben Randle, [Jerrel] Jernigan, and we got Mario [Manningham] back, so we are trying to get the quarterback some weapons. You need weapons in this league. We think this guy is a weapon.

Q: Is [Beckham’s] size at 5-11 what you were looking for?

A: When you look at the Super Bowl, how tall were the receivers [the Seahawks] won with? Tall receivers don’t always correlate to Super Bowl wins. Would you love to have a 6-5 guy that can run routes, and do the things that [Beckham] can do? Sure, but I do not think you need to have that to win Super Bowls. Again I think the Seahawks showed that last year.

Q: Can you describe the emotion in the room when you realized you were going to get the guy that was number one on your board?

A: We just try to keep our composure in there. We saw that it was falling our way, but you never know. We have had several times where the guy that we want gets picked right in front of us. If somebody would have taken him, I think it was Tennessee who picked right in front of us, if they had taken him, we would have been happy with a couple of the other guys we had on our board there.

Q: Did you get any action on the phones for that pick?

A: We got a couple of phone calls, but nothing significant. It was just guys fishing around for cheap moves.

Q: When you pick this early what do you do for the rest of this round?

A: We will just look at it, and see if there is anyone on our board that we really like who starts to fall down. We could possibly trade back into the first round. We will monitor it and watch it and see what happens. If there is a guy up there who we feel can help take us to the next level, and we think we can move back up into the first round, then we would contemplate doing that.

Q: When was the first time you saw [Beckham]?

A: First time I saw him myself was on tape. Obviously we had scouts to see him all year long. We had a lot of eyes on him and I went to his pro day workout. I saw him at the Combine and he has been dynamic every time I have seen him.

Q: Did you talk to Rueben Randle much about [Beckham]?

A: No, I really did not talk to Rueben about him.

Q: But [Randle] knows him?

A: He played with him, so he knows him, but I talked to his coaches and people like that and the scouts obviously. I did a lot of homework on him. He comes from great genes. His mom was a track star and his dad played running back at LSU. He’s got good genes and he’s a good kid.

Q: Are there ever any concerns that two receivers can be too similar. [Beckham] said he models his game after Victor?

A: No, I do not worry about that. Victor is an inside receiver, [Beckham] is an outside receiver. [Beckham] has more speed than Victor on the outside. I don’t think they are similar, I think [Beckham] said he likes Victor because they are similar in size. He is a little bit taller than Victor maybe. His body type and the way he moves around on the field are what I think [Beckham] likes about Victor, but I think they are two different receivers.

Q: In former Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride’s offense, there was always an adjustment period with new receivers. With Ben [McAdoo] do you think [Beckham] can come in and contribute right away?

A: We hope so. Anytime you pick a guy at 12 you expect him to come in and be a contributor for you. He definitely can come in and be your first punt and kick returner right out of the gate. We think that this guy is a lump-in-your-throat kind of kick and punt returner. If he gets some blocks, he can go with it. That was very attractive because you are getting a two-for-one kind of guy. To answer your question, is he going to take some type of adjustment, all rookies take some adjustment to play up here, but we think he’s pretty close to get ready to go.

Q: You now have a pretty good group of receivers. Do you expect them to feed off each other?

A: I hope so. All the research and the word on [Beckham] is how hungry this guy is and he practices hard and works hard. All of the teams use the GPS like we use, and early in camp, they said his GPS registered from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. That is how hard he works. Because he does all of the special teams stuff as well, he gets a lot of mileage on his GPS. He has great stamina and is a hard worker and he’s a hungry guy. The comment I like most is when he comes in he feels like he is a number one wide receiver. He will work to try to prove that to people, so we like those things about him.

Q: You mentioned his return ability. How does he compare to the return guys you brought in during Free Agency?

A: It doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t matter. The more return guys you have in the building, the better. We haven’t had any in the building in some time. The more, the merrier. Whoever wins the job is fine with me, but we have some options there.

Q: How is his speed relative to the guys brought in during Free Agency?

A: [Trindon] Holliday is a fast guy. [Beckham] is a fast guy, but speed kills.

Q: Did you always think you were going to go offense first?

A: We try to stay with our board the best we can, and he was the highest player on our board then. It was an easy pick for us.

Q: Was it safe to say [Beckham] was a top-10 guy on your board?

A: That’s correct.

Q: Was it safe to say [Beckham] was a top-5 guy on your board.

A: Not safe to say that.

MEDIA Q&A WITH DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING MARC ROSS: (Giants.com Q&A)

Q: As the whole round went on, the first 11 picks, it seemed like everyone was very happy with the way it transpired.

A: Us? Yeah, for sure. We always, when we meet leading up to the draft, have scenarios that we go over. This was one of the scenarios that we talked about a lot: if these two guys, three guys, four guys that we had there, if they were there, what we would do. It kind of fell the way we thought it would.

Q: Why did he jump off the screen for this football franchise?

A: Well, I mean, we think he’s a dynamic receiver and returner, by far the most versatile receiver in the draft. He can make explosive plays in a variety of ways – receiving, punt returns, kick returns. He’s polished, smart, great work ethic, so he just fit all the criteria that we look for.

Q: Are you sure he has the size for the outside?

A: Sure. He’s not the biggest guy in the draft but his size is fine. There are plenty of receivers that have been extremely successful with similar size. But he can play slot, he can play outside, move him around and he’s done that.

Q: As you look at fixing an offense that John Mara mentioned was broken a few months ago, was what you did in free agency and the particular pick tonight, what do you feel better about the offense right now compared to before all of this?

A: Before the offseason and the draft tonight? I think we’ve gotten better. We’ve solidified the line with some of the free agent signings, we definitely think we’ve gotten a playmaker for our offense tonight and helped out our return game, putting our offense in great field position with Odell being a returner and some of the return guys that we signed in the offseason. So overall, obviously, we’re happy with what we’ve done but there’s still a lot of work to be done and it’s got to play out on the field.

Q: Tom mentioned that Beckham’s interview at the combine was outstanding. You’re nodding. What do you remember about it?

A: When we do those interviews, certain ones stick out as soon as you come in the room, the way they carry themselves, the way they communicate, the way they talk about football. Those are the things we look for. He was outstanding. A humble guy, great upbringing, great pedigree and just talking film, talking football with him, he was one of the sharpest ones that we had.

Q: Usually receivers have a little bit of diva in them. Does this kid have that personality or do you think he’s a little different?

A: Not really. He’s a worker. I wouldn’t call him a diva; I would call him a worker. He loves to compete, he loves to train, he loves to practice, he can run all day. So he’s a worker.

Q: Do you think he’s like anybody? Any other receivers?

A: No. He was one of our ‘watch’ guys. Certain players, ‘Oh yeah,’ instantly but him, him, to us, to me, I think he kind of has a unique skill set. Nobody that immediately I thought of.

Q: Was it a tough call when you were on the clock with him and maybe one other guy?

A: No. We always talk about guys but he was the highest guy on our board, so it makes it easy, at a position that we thought that we could get better at so it made it easy.

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

We’re excited, let’s put it that way. This particular individual was somebody that, quite frankly, we favored on the board all along. We had a great impression by him in Indianapolis, the scouts stood up for him. He is a guy that can run kicks back, run punts back, play the wide receiver position. He has great speed, he’s polished, he’s talented, he has big hands, he has played at the top of the level in college football. His head coach speaks very, very highly of him as a worker in addition, as a great example to the other receivers, so we felt like this is someone who would help us a great deal to put the ball in the end zone, be a guy that we can count on to help us score some points, be another weapon that we can utilize as a wide receiver but in addition we can certainly feature him in the kicking game as well. This was one of those deals where you speculate right away as to how they’re going to come off the board. There were a couple of things up there that looked like we had a chance to get the players that we wanted in position there and so when we had the opportunity to pick Beckham we were certainly excited about doing that.

Q: How do you think he compliments Victor Cruz as far as his size and his speed?

A: Speed, again, the ability to make the big play. He’s a crafty route runner; he has a lot of polish with regard to that. He has very good stamina. I think he’ll do a great job in the receiver room. I think he’ll be on the same page with the quarterback right away. He’s intelligent and he’s excited to be here.

Q: You must have been pretty pleased with each pick. If this guy is, you know, going to be there.

A: A lot of the picks were… you set them up that way. The first round looked a lot like that. There were a couple things that happened, the trade coming when it did with Cleveland going back. For the most part it went pretty much the way we thought it would. A couple of the things that happened up there made us feel like the players that we wanted to be in position when we picked would be there and they were, at least two of them were.

Q: When you look at this draft, was getting weapons for Eli a pretty big priority for you?

A: That was a priority. Obviously we did some work in the offensive line in the free agency period, but you know, you look at your roster and you think in terms of how can we put ourselves in position again to be a high-scoring team. The good thing, I would think, as an offensive player coming in here is our veterans have a three-week head start on the rookies, which is not much in learning a new system. I think for a young man of Odell’s skill and his level of intelligence, that he will pick this up relatively quickly.

Q: Can you just speak to already being excited about your offense heading into next year? It took enough criticism coming out of last season so is there a potential for a whole different level of…?

A: Well, obviously we’re excited to think that. I’m not much of a talker, I would rather see us be productive and then talk about it. We’re trying to get there and we’re making progress.

Q: Receivers in this offense, in the offense before, sometimes had trouble getting on the field right away, very technical, a lot of things they haven’t learned. Given the fact that you have a new offense and what you said about this player, do you think an impact right away is very possible?

A: I think you take that position right now with every guy that comes in the door. They better all contribute right away, whether it be on special teams, defense, offense, whatever it is they’re going to be… there’s no waiting around in this game today. We will expect right throughout the draft that there will be a strong contribution from each of the players that select and hopefully it will create the kind of competition that we need as well.

Q: Was Beckham the guy that you had targeted as you were mapping it down?

A: He was one of them, yeah.

MEDIA Q&A WITH ODELL BECKUM: (Giants.com Insider Video)

Q: What’s your reaction to being a New York Giant?

A: I’m still trying to get everything in check. It’s an overwhelming experience. I’m so happy to be a Giant.

Q: What do you think you can bring to this offense right away?

A: I definitely think that I can come in and, if I get the opportunity to play, I could bring a lot of things – a deep threat or whatever the team needs me to do. Hopefully I get to return some punts and kicks.

Q: What do you think it will be like playing with Victor Cruz?

A: It’s going to be great. That’s kind of one of the guys who I style my game after and who I look up to, so to be able to learn from him and the other receivers that they have is just going to be, it definitely will help me improve my game.

Q: What about playing with Rueben Randle?

A: My big brother. He kind of taught me the ropes when I came into LSU and now I’m back with him again. It’s pretty incredible.

Q: What do you think about catching balls from Eli Manning and just tell us a little bit about what you’ve known about him growing up in the same high school (Isidore Newman).

A: I remember walking through the school and seeing his jersey, along with Peyton and the Mannings as well. Every single day it was just kind of motivation to me. I threw with them a couple times, so I know exactly what he has in store and what he has to offer. I’m really looking forward to getting back together with him.

Q: I know it’s been a whirlwind. Have you heard from Rueben yet?

A: Actually I don’t even have my phone with me right now. I heard from him earlier. He told me good luck but he didn’t tell me that they were going to pick me.

Q: Were you hoping that it was going to be the Giants? Did you have in your mind where you might fall in the first round? In your heart of hearts, did you say, ‘Boy, it would be great to be a Giant?’

A: Of course it would be great to be a Giant. I had no idea that I was going to get taken by them. Honestly I hadn’t heard much from them so it was all kind of just a blur to me.

Q: Do you consider yourself a number one receiver? Is that, obviously I would imagine, your goal?

A: To be the number one receiver for the Giants? There are guys there who already have themselves established. I’m really looking forward to coming in and competing, competing for a spot with these guys. Wherever I may fall, I may fall but at the end of the day you always want to be that number one as a competitor, in everything you do.

Q: What do you think you bring in the return game?

A: I’m definitely looking forward to doing punt returns. It’s kind of one of the things I love doing most, just being able to get the ball back there and just use your natural ability. You have guys out there blocking for you, it’s something that I look forward to doing.

Q: Who do you get your athletic ability from more, your father or your mother?

A: Obviously I don’t know. I guess genetically it’s split 50/50. My mom’s got a pretty good track history, my dad played football as well. I won’t make either one of them mad and I’ll say it was a 50/50.

Q: Did you bring enough stuff to stay in New York now or do you have to go back and get your belongings?

A: I’m definitely going to have to go home and come back. I did not bring enough stuff.

Q: Could this have worked out any better for you in terms of the draft? A week ago you were projected 18, 19. You end up 12 overall and you end up with the Giants. Could it have worked out any better for you at all?

A: Absolutely not. It couldn’t have worked out any better. It’s a perfect situation.

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2nd Round – OC Weston Richburg, 6’3”, 298lbs, 5.08, Colorado State
Weston Richburg, Colorado State Rams (November 2, 2013)

Weston Richburg – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SCOUTING REPORT: Richburg was a 4-year starter at Colorado State. Richburg combines decent size with very good overall athleticism for a center. Good pass protector who has the size and strength to anchor against big tackles and the feet and balance to keep up with quick rushers. Richburg lacks ideal power as a run blocker, but he plays with very good leverage and tenacity. Mobile and agile, Richburg, can block at the second level and pull on outside runs. Smart, tough, aggressive, competitive, and a team leader. Versatile, Richburg can also play guard. Richburg played well at the Senior Bowl practices against DT Aaron Donald.

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

Richburg, center, Colorado State. A versatile player, a really good athlete. He can play guard or center. High test score. Centers are very important, a very integral part of our new offensive scheme, so obviously we brought J.D. in as a free agent but we tried to create some depth there as well and some competition. This guy is a really good, athletic center. He’s one of those guys, one of those bonus guys. Not a lot of centers can pull, this guy can snap the ball and pull and get out on the perimeter. He was terrific. He was an ideal pick for us, a clean pick. A lot of things we liked about him. I’ll take any questions.

Q: You say an integral part of the new offensive scheme, can you talk a little bit about how that’s different from…?

A: Well, you know, I don’t know how different, I just know that the new coordinator likes the center to be very involved with some of the protection scheme things and this guy is really smart. He was outstanding when we interviewed him at the combine so he fits the mold of what we want, besides being a very good football player.

Q: You mean in terms of making protection calls?

A: Yes.

Q: He had to do that for a while at Colorado State, right?

A: Yeah, I think he’s like a 50-game starter. He’s played a lot of football games out there. What we’re looking for.

Q: How much do you like the size? 6-3, 300 for a center is a little bit bigger than normal.

A: We like big guys. We like big and fast and smart and tough, we like all that. The thing about him, he’s got long arms. His arms are almost 34-inch arms, most centers’ arms are not that long so that’s a bonus in itself.

Q: What does this say about Walton? How has he recovered from whatever injuries he’s had? I know he hasn’t played.

A: He missed last season but he’s been out here and he looked like he was 100 percent out there. He’s doing great for us. We expect him to be the guy who Richburg is going to battle for that center position. Obviously you need depth at every position and that’s the position that we think Richburg will provide for us, some depth at center which is his natural position but we think he could play guard as well. Again, last year we had a couple injuries early on the offensive line and it was pretty devastating, we had to bring some guys in that struggled some at those positions so we’re trying to make sure we have enough depth at every position. This guy will help provide that for us.

Q: Were you intent on getting an offensive lineman in the first two rounds?

A: We were just intent on getting good players. We know what we feel like our needs are and positions that we need to create some depth on our roster but right now we’re focused on getting good football players and he fits the mold of being a good football player for us.

MEDIA Q&A WITH DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING MARC ROSS: (Video)

Q: When you look back at the last three rounds how do you view the picks compared to what you were expecting coming into the draft? A: It went pretty well. First round, for sure, went how we liked; second round, for sure; and even this last pick we had a good idea [Bromley] was going to be there. There were not any shockers like in years past where guys were rated real high and falling. This year we targeted and guys fell right where we thought they would.

Q: Coming into today were [Richburg] and [Bromley] two guys you were zeroed in on?

A: Not zeroed in, but there were a lot of discussions about these being two quality players we would like to have, and we think they will fall right for us.

Q: John Mara said a couple months ago in regards to the draft that he wanted to take fewer risks. Are [Richburg] and [Bromley] more of a sure thing?

A: Yes, these guys are high character, team captains, hard workers, smart, competitive guys with no issues whatsoever. These are the things we look for all the time. It does not always happen. Certain things you take a little more calculated risks on at certain times. This just happened to fall right for us where we felt these guys were at the very highest in regards to character.

Q: What do you like specifically about [Richburg] and [Bromley]?

A: It’s not just one quality. Richburg is a throwback. He’s a football player. He is smart, competitive, a good athlete and he’s going to give you everything he’s got every play. Jay Bromley has been an underdog his whole life, so he is going to come in here and you are going to have to kill him to get him off the field. There is nothing to deter that guy with what he has been through. That shows with how he plays. It’s great when the best asset for a player is determination and desire, and that is Jay Bromley.

Q: Jerry Reese mentioned how good of a fit [Richburg] is with what Ben McAdoo is going to do on offense. How much do you ask [McAdoo] what he is looking for in a center moving forward?

A: Yes when we have draft meetings we talk about everything. The scouts and their reports, coaches talk about their reports of the players and then we talk about how everybody fits and how guys can be used and the value to the team. One thing Ben [McAdoo] talked about was how important the center was. It was not like we elevated Richburg because of that. We already had a high grade on him because of that, so that just added to his value.

Q: Were certain skills stressed in needing to play center in this offense?

A: Yes, I think with this offense the center is more of a communicator, pointing things out. He is the quarterback of the offensive line, and he helps the quarterback out by identifying certain things about the line front and the MIKE.

Q: As a talent evaluator, what skill sets are you looking for in order to successfully play center in this offense?

A: You can just tell a guy by watching them, especially with an offensive lineman in regards to their IQ, how he plays, his savvy and his instincts. With centers you look for how they are pointing guys out or some centers just put their head down and snap the ball. Those are some things Richburg clearly does on tape, and being around him and his interview at the combine was tremendous. The guy scored a 31 on the Wonderlic. This guy is a smart guy. Those are things that were very intriguing.

Q: It is fair to say he was your highest-rated center?

A: Yes

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

Good Evening. Second pick was a very good athletic young center. He was a captain and leader while being a four-year starter at Colorado State. All of the scouts raved about this guy. When the coaches got a chance to study him, he can pull, he can block the zone schemes and he makes all the calls. The center position here for us is one of responsibility in terms of dictating to the rest of the offensive line exactly how the scheme is going to go. This guy will fit right in in terms of that. Interesting story about him: He broke his right hand in 2012 and finished the year snapping the ball with his left hand, so you know he can do that as well. We feel like we have a good solid young center who is very smart. He did a good job despite his long arms on the bench press, so he is strong. He is a good worker, and as I said, he has earned his stripes. He is the leader of his offensive line and offensive team. He was voted captain. We are pleased to have Weston [Richburg] on board.

Q: At the extent to who makes the call [for the O-line] Jerry [Reese] just said that could change with the new offensive coordinator?

A: No, the center is very much involved, but in this scheme there will be more responsibility on the center.

Q: How much in regards to responsibility differs for the center? Jerry [Reese] mentioned pulling possibly. He seems more athletic than some of the centers you have had in the past.

A: There may be a possibility of [the center pulling]. He can [pull] if asked to. Whether that happens or not, we will see. He does and has done that in college.

Q: Is [pulling] something that JD Walton cannot do?

A: No. Not necessarily. It is one of the attributes that is very noticeable when you do grade [Richburg], so it is worth mentioning.

Q: [Pulling] was not a trait that you thought was necessary when you think of playing center?

A: Well, it gives you more versatility. Even more, there would be no restrictions in terms of what you would ask [the center] to do. If you were going to pull or there was an opportunity based on the front you’re playing against, where the guard is not in the position to pull, then the center would or could pull. It has been done and you can count on [Richburg] to do that. He would be able to get out in front and make a block etc.

Q: The offense line in the past years has had some versatility. Richburg has had some experience playing guard. How much does that play into drafting him?

A: You always look for versatility if you have it, but this guy is a center. He has been a center, and he is a young center in the fold here. We are first and foremost going to talk about him as a center.

Q: Was he the top player on your board coming into today?

A: I am not going to go into where he was [on our board]. He was among those at the top.

Q: How about his size? He seems to be bigger than most centers at 6-3 300 pounds.

A: Pro Bowl centers are 304-305 [pounds]. He is right in there.

MEDIA Q&A WITH WESTON RICHBURG: (Giants.com Insider Video)

Q: Is this about where you expected to go and were you surprised with the Giants or did you think maybe that was a good chance?

A: I wanted to be the first center selected and it turns out I was. I’m just so excited to be selected by such a great organization.

Q: What was in like when you met with them?

A: I just met with them at the combine, we had a formal meeting at the combine, I got to speak with Coach Coughlin a bit and we talked a lot of football and film. We reviewed a lot my film and kind of just went over X and O details with those guys.

Q: What was your impression from that point?

A: You could tell how professional these guys are and how well-run the organization is. Just after seeing that, I’m so excited to be a part of it.

Q: Why was it important for you to be the first center selected?

A: I’ve always been a guy from a smaller school. Even though Colorado State is a Division 1 school, it’s in the Mountain West so we don’t get a lot of respect sometimes. When it comes to going against other big school guys, it’s always been my dream to be the best center in the country. Today I kind of got that recognition by being the first center selected.

Q: Tom Coughlin seemed to love the fact that you broke your regular snapping hand and finished the season with the other. How tough of an adjustment was that to switch hands?

A: That’s something I take a lot of pride in. You don’t see a lot of guys doing that. It was tough, it was a tough kind of change but I took it with open arms. Looking back at it, it was something that I’m really prideful about.

Q: Did you actually have a club on the broken hand while you were snapping with the other?

A: I did, yeah. A big old, goofy looking cast club type of deal on my hand.

Q: I think you started every game at Colorado State. Have you ever missed a game?

A: In high school I only played offensive line one year, my senior year. I had an ACL injury that kept me out my sophomore and junior seasons and before that I played quarterback my freshman year of high school. I’ve kind of been all over the place but when I got to college I started every game on the offensive line.

Q: Do you think you can play right away in the NFL?

A: I do, I think I can come in and contribute. It’s going to take a lot of work but I think that’s something that’s carried me this far is my work ethic. I enjoy working and now it’s my job, that’s even the cool part about it. It’s my job to lift weights, to watch film, to get better playing football. I want to come in and try to contribute to this year and really help this organization be as successful as it can be.

Q: How much did you pull at Colorado State and how much do you think your athleticism allows you to do that kind of stuff?

A: We pull quite a bit. Since I was able to do that, our coaches felt more comfortable using me in that type of way. It’s something I really enjoyed as well and I think I was athletic enough to get out, quick enough, and get out and set up some good blocks for our running backs on the outside.

Q: When you came into tonight did you zero in on a spot that you thought you might go? Did you think the Giants were a team that might take you?

A: I knew there were several teams that were looking at a center. I had been hearing the second round was probably a good spot for me. I didn’t really know specifically what team it would be but I knew the second round was probably going to be when I was going to get the phone call.

Q: Do you think it has helped you and your versatility in the fact that you participated in other sports in high school like throwing shot and playing basketball?

A: I think just being involved as much as you can in every sport you can be really helps your athleticism. With me, I tried to be as involved as I could be, shot put, discus, basketball kind of stuff, so yeah, as involved and active as you can be I think can definitely translate over.

Q: Did you watch the draft tonight from home? Where are you tonight?

A: I’m out in Bushland, Texas, my hometown. I’m actually at my classmate Crockett Gillmore’s house. We’ve got our families together and we’re just having a good time right now.

Q: When do you expect to be here in New York?

A: I’ll fly out on Sunday.

Q: How much more of a challenge is it without a rookie minicamp, the veterans are already going kind of into phase two of their offseason program. Have you talked to the organization about how quickly they can get you up to speed?

A: Yeah, I just talked to coach Flaherty and he said it would be kind of more difficult than normal but I think they have an understanding of what we’re going through. We’re going to work through it. Like I said, I’m just so excited to be a Giant and have an opportunity to come in there and really contribute this year.

Q: Are there any centers that you look up to or pattern your game after maybe?

A: I like the Pouncey twins a lot. I think they have a lot of really good athletic traits. I like to kind of emulate them. I like Logan Mankins. Even though he’s not a center, I think he plays really kind of nasty in the interior and I try to get after people like he does.

Q: What do you know about Eli Manning and what are your expectations? You’ll probably be spending a lot of time working with him.

A: Just talking about how great the Giants organization is, they’ve got one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL right now. It’s kind of crazy, I was just watching the Mannings the other day and now I’m going to have a chance to be snapping to the guy. To be able to learn from a guy like that as a rookie is priceless and I’m really looking forward to being around him and learning from a pro like Eli Manning.

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3rd Round – DT Jay Bromley, 6’3”, 306lbs, 5.06, Syracuse
Jay Bromley, Syracuse Orange (October 12, 2013)

Jay Bromley – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SCOUTING REPORT: Bromley was a 3-year starter at Syracuse. He combines decent size and strength with good athletic ability. Bromley is more of a 3-technique disruptor than 1-technique run stuffer. He has good initial quickness and will penetrate into the backfield against both the run and the pass. Bromley hustles and pursues well. When Bromley plays with good leverage, he can be very difficult to block. But he plays too high at times. Bromley is a very hard worker both on and off the field. Team leader. Giants want him to add weight.

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

Bromley, defensive tackle, Syracuse. Size, speed, another team captain. We like team captains. We think this kid has a lot of upside, 10 sacks from the inside position. Lots of things to like about the kid, long arms, all the things that you like for your defensive tackle to have. I’ll take any questions.

Q: Does he compare to any of the recent guys…?

A: I’m not sure, I can’t recall anybody off the top of my head to compare him to.

Q: How much could he do some of the things that Linval Joseph used to do for you guys?

A: Well, this guy, he’s big, he’s got some two-gap ability, he can stand in there and hold the point of attack. He’s got speed, the guy ran 4.9 and some change at the combine so he can get up the field and finish on the quarterback. Like I said, he had 10 sacks. He can hold the point, he can run, he has some range to run lateral and make plays down the line of scrimmage.

Q: Could he line up at defensive end at this level?

A: I don’t think he’s a defensive end. Just body type of sort of reminds me of Canty, a shorter Chris Canty how he looks in his uniform.

Q: When you came into the day was he a guy that you kind of targeted or was it just how the board…?

A: Well it was just how the board unfolded for us. We had him at a value spot and obviously we could use some depth on our defensive line as well. It’s a combination of stuff like we try to get all the time.

Q: Even as a second-round pick?

A: We had him at a good spot on the board to take him right now.

Q: Given the fact that you’ve talked about the importance of the first three picks, you say that a lot, how comfortable, how gratified are you that you’ve got these three guys?

A: We feel good about the… obviously we feel good about the receiver, we have the center who we think will be a starting center at some point. It gave us some depth and will battle right now for that center spot and have some versatility, play guard for us. We’ve got a defensive lineman that can definitely start and jump in our rotation and help us out.

Q: It seemed that the common threads were that football acumen was key; they’re all nearly pro-ready. Are these things that were clearly important on your characteristic chart?

A: They’re all, as you go down, as you get into the later rounds, there’s something wrong with all of them. If they were all clean and perfect, you’d pick them all in the first row. All of those guys you can pick in the first row. None of these guys are perfect but we think they’re all really good football players that are going to help our football team. They’re all clean. Like I said, they’re all captains. They’ve got a lot of things that we like with our first three picks. Those are the kinds of things we look for when guys are going to come in and be good players and good contributors to our football team.

Q: Have you devolved a comfort level at all with Syracuse?

A: I don’t know anything about Syracuse except the football players. It has nothing to do with comfort level. They’re all just good football players. It’s just a coincidence that we’ve had a couple players from Syracuse. You could say that about LSU, we’ve got several players from LSU.

Q: Obviously you do a lot of planning coming into this event, how did this unfold compared to what you were expecting?

A: I think things broke our way pretty good from where we were sitting on the board. It didn’t make sense for us to try to move up or down, we had good players that we like available on the board so we were set where we were and made good picks we think on the players that we picked.

Q: At the end of today you look at it and say, ‘We’ve got a receiver, we’ve got a center and we’ve got a defensive tackle.’ Do you think there could have been any scenario where at the end of this day you would have looked at it and said, ‘We’ve got this, this and this. Humf, I never would have thought of that?’

A: Not really. You never know in the draft. Those are positions that we think can really help us, all three of those positions, but we could have used three positions, three other players at different positions as well. We’re happy to get the three players that we have at those positions but it could have gone a different way and we would have been just as happy.

Q: Was it a goal to go for a defensive lineman somehow?

A: If you don’t have big people, it’s hard to win in this league. If you don’t get big guys, it’s hard to win. Most of the time you’re going to lose so you’ve got to have big people up front, you’ve got to have guys in your rotation on your defensive line, you’ve got to have some depth in your offensive line. That’s where it all starts. You’ve got to have some playmakers. We got a combination of all three of those things I think with our first three picks.

Q: Do you feel Bromley is a playmaker?

A: He had 10 sacks. When you play at a high level of competition, he had 10 sacks, he can run, he has long arms, plays hard. I think our coaching staff is going to really like this kid.

Q: Does what you’ve done so far change anything for how you look at moving forward at this point? Maybe you wouldn’t grab a center but maybe in regards to the other positions are you still… getting more bodies on the defensive line, getting more bodies at wide receiver?

A: We’re just trying to get good players as we move forward. The next best player on our board, in the fourth row, in the fourth round – we’ll try to pick him. It really doesn’t matter that much to me right now what position it is, we’re just trying to get good players to create competition and depth on our team. You may get a starter somewhere in the fourth row. It happens all the time.

Q: Do you seem Bromley as a guy who can come in and play right away?

A: We hope so. He’s a big kid, he’s played at a high level of competition and he’s a strong kid. He had good reps at the combine, big, clean, hardworking, tough football player. We expect him to come in and be part of the rotation.

Q: Was that big to you? Tom mentioned it yesterday that you get guys that can play right away or is that just the way…?

A: Well we try to, we try our best. Most kids are developmental no matter how you cut it. Most college kids that come up and play at this level, they’re developmental in a lot of ways. But the guys that we get that can come in and be contributors for us, we look for that. We hope we can get that because, in this day and age, there aren’t many guys you can sit around and red shirt and wait on for a long time. It happens and everybody… you have to develop players. With all of the young players coming out, the juniors coming out, the draft is younger and younger every year with all of the juniors coming out.

Q: Is that why, I’m not saying targeting but you said you like team captains, seniors…?

A: We like captains. We like captains because we think they’re character guys, they have leadership ability. It’s not easy to be picked captain for your football team and these guys have been captains and that’s attractive to us.

Q: But in terms of accelerating them…?

A: Yeah, we think they’re mature if a guy’s a captain because if you’re a captain on your team, there’s some kind of leadership role that you have to take as a captain. Again, that’s attractive to us.

MEDIA Q&A WITH DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING MARC ROSS: (Video)

Q: When you look back at the last three rounds how do you view the picks compared to what you were expecting coming into the draft? A: It went pretty well. First round, for sure, went how we liked; second round, for sure; and even this last pick we had a good idea [Bromley] was going to be there. There were not any shockers like in years past where guys were rated real high and falling. This year we targeted and guys fell right where we thought they would.

Q: Coming into today were [Richburg] and [Bromley] two guys you were zeroed in on?

A: Not zeroed in, but there were a lot of discussions about these being two quality players we would like to have, and we think they will fall right for us.

Q: John Mara said a couple months ago in regards to the draft that he wanted to take fewer risks. Are [Richburg] and [Bromley] more of a sure thing?

A: Yes, these guys are high character, team captains, hard workers, smart, competitive guys with no issues whatsoever. These are the things we look for all the time. It does not always happen. Certain things you take a little more calculated risks on at certain times. This just happened to fall right for us where we felt these guys were at the very highest in regards to character.

Q: What do you like specifically about [Richburg] and [Bromley]?

A: It’s not just one quality. Richburg is a throwback. He’s a football player. He is smart, competitive, a good athlete and he’s going to give you everything he’s got every play. Jay Bromley has been an underdog his whole life, so he is going to come in here and you are going to have to kill him to get him off the field. There is nothing to deter that guy with what he has been through. That shows with how he plays. It’s great when the best asset for a player is determination and desire, and that is Jay Bromley.

Q: With Bromley, how much could you tell by talking to him how little he has been handed to him in his football career?

A: That is what our scouts do in the fall when they go to the schools and talk to all the people they talk to at the universities. That is their job, to get this information. Throughout this whole process, we do more digging and research. We interview the player. [The scouts] start it off and they establish a foundation and we work from there.

Q: Could you personally tell by talking with [Bromley] that nothing has been handed to him football-wise?

A: Yeah, you could tell with his personality. You get a good feel for how they are. You can tell he is a hungry kid.

Q: Can you develop a comfort level with certain [college] programs?

A: For sure. I think you build a trust level with certain schools as opposed to others where you know the information you are getting based off of how the players have performed once they leave school. When you go in there the next year, you get certain coaches that you trust more than others. It’s not like we targeted Syracuse guys. I know that is probably your follow-up question. It just happens to fall that way. [Justin] Pugh is a guy we really liked as well as [Ryan] Nassib at the time and now Jay [Bromley].

Q: [Jerry] mentioned LSU as well…?

A: Our scouts do a really good job and they have great contacts at most schools. It is not as if LSU and Syracuse are the only exceptions.

Q: Does Bromley remind you of any former Giants defensive lineman?

A: No.

Q: What do you view [Bromley’s] top skill as? Obviously the 10 sacks this past year jump out at you.

A: As I said earlier, his desire and determination on the field. That grit that he has is his number one quality. He is still young and developing some skills such as his pad level and hand use and other things of that nature. He is still a young guy. Really his motor is just tremendous. I think that is his best asset. He is a big guy that worked out really well, and he produced. The motor and determination are his best attributes.

Q: Do you see [Bromley] as a rotational guy along the defensive line or more of a passing down situation type of player?

A: He can do a little bit of both. He is a big body; he will throw them in there. I’m not going to say this guy is going to come in and start right away, but hopefully he develops into that. It is a big man’s game. As many of those big guys that you have, the more successful you are, so hopefully [Bromley] can get in there and bang around and make some plays for us.

Q: Do you see more room for him to grow in his frame?

A: Yes, he can get bigger. He is 307 [pounds] now, but eating right up here and getting great meals and lifting every day, football will become his full-time job. He is going to develop and thicken up.

Q: How much would you like him to weigh?

A: 315-320 pounds. He will probably put that on very easily.

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

It’s interesting, Jerry (Reese) comes down and I come down, we’re talking about the same thing, probably using the same references because when you talk about the players that you’re getting ready to draft, what happens is you maybe set aside five or six names and you try to start it early enough where you go to the area scouts and you go to anyone else that’s been asked to go in there and grade the player and then you go to Chris Mara and you go to the defensive coach or the offensive coach, regardless of which side of the ball it’s on, and eventually it comes back to my grade on the individual and Jerry gives his grade on the individual, so there’s a lot of discussion about every player and it’s important that you start out early enough so that you can hear from everybody. That’s usually what we do in this round because it’s five-minute rounds, you’re out there seven or eight picks when you start talking about these guys, so you do hear the comments from the scouts, from the coaches, from Marc Ross, from Jerry, from Chris Mara. You hear all of the comments so that’s why when we come into the room following one another, a lot of what you hear is probably a ditto.

Nevertheless this young man, Jay Bromley, of course, went to a great school, played defensive tackle, had 10 sacks, which is really interesting. You stop and think about it, a kid playing basically a three technique who has 10 sacks, runs very well, he’s quick, he plays hard. He plays hard, he runs well for a defensive lineman, he’s a captain of his football team, he’s well-respected, he’s a quiet guy, he’s some, although you wouldn’t tell by the answer on the phone that I just went through because mom was there and mom was yelling and screaming. And when they heard it was the Giants, being from Jamaica, Queens, they were very, very excited. It’s fun to share in the excitement of someone who is truly, truly… it meshes geographically because this guy is very close to his mom, because he played at Syracuse, because he is a man that’s worked very hard for what he’s got and will be asked to work even harder because he’s around the 310 mark. You’d like him maybe to be a little bit bigger than that and to get back in the weight room and work.

One thing he does do is work so we have no question about this kid’s character, his work ethic, his focus and how serious he is about the job that he’s about to undertake. Those things being said, they speak very highly of what we’ve tried to do throughout this draft up to this point. We’re excited about having this kid. It was great to hear him on the other end of the line and the excitement, which is genuine excitement, with which he answered the phone.

Q: You haven’t talked about the significance of drafting three captains so far. In your experience in football, what does that tell you about a guy when he’s a captain of his college team?

A: It tells me that he is an individual that not only is a good football player but he’s someone that’s well respected and trusted on the part of his teammates. Many times it’s, I remember when I played it was pretty much a selection by the coach. That’s probably not the case most of the time now. The players do have an opportunity to evaluate. When you have an individual, first of all, who is courageous, who is strong of character, strong of belief, an individual believes in the program who’s willing to sacrifice and willing to pay the price when in fact he’s being evaluated by those around him while it’s taking place. Usually it speaks for a guy that gives his all, puts his heart into what he does, is not afraid to be an individual who leads by example that may be helpful to younger players in terms of how they direct themselves. He’s not afraid to do that because he’s putting his best foot forward.

It’s not always perfect, it’s not always the best, but he tries as hard as he possibly can and, by virtue of that, leads by example. Leading by example is the one sure way in which to indicate to people how it’s done. It isn’t about talking; it isn’t about all that stuff. It’s about playing hard, being consistent, having virtues and values that you believe in and are not willing to sacrifice them for popularity. I believe that’s the kind of individuals that we would like to have working for the New York Giants in our program, guys that we can trust, guys that are football players and dedicate their minds and work ethic to becoming the very best that they can be.

Q: How much more of an emphasis was placed on this this year?

A: It’s always an emphasis but I think it’s probably been talked about more this year in the room than maybe last year or two years ago or whatever.

Q: Why do you think that is?

A: Why is it? Because we would like to feel like the people that come here are absolute football players, devoted to it. Let’s face it, where we are, there are areas that could be distractions. We need to have people that can operate in this environment and stay focused and do the job they were brought here for and not get off track.

Q: Is that something that has been a problem?

A: Not necessarily, you’re not going to get any names; you’re not going to get any major discussion. It’s what you want; it’s the desire that you want perhaps when you start at the top of the board. If, in fact, it’s being talked about more now, it’s obviously been talked about by us in the room.

Q: Could part of that be because some of the team players — Tuck, Diehl and other guys — are gone, guys that you used to rely on for that kind of leadership in the locker room?

A: That’s a good point. The fact that some of these players that have been looked upon as outstanding leaders have gone on and we have others here who will take that role, I’m sure. But it’s always good to have a self-starter, it’s always good to have somebody that is completely devoted to their job.

Q: Does that maturity also help when you need to get these guys in as quickly as possible and get going in your program without a rookie minicamp, without being able to bring them along as a group of rookies?

A: There are reasons for why there isn’t a rookie minicamp. They will be here. It’s never been done before. In the past you’ve had to work it so that when they came for the minicamp they stayed. Well we’re into the program, we’re on the field four days a week, so to shut this thing down so we can have a rookie minicamp or do something, a one-day camp on the weekend, we could have them on the field Tuesday. It is integrating them right into the program but it’s not a reason for us not to have a rookie minicamp and certainly they’ll be right with our veteran players right from the get-go. That really isn’t a motive behind what we’re talking about. You like to have mature people, no matter what their age is. We’ve all seen it where a rookie comes in and he gets it and we’ve all seen it where they come in and they don’t get it. If I had, if we had our preference, we’d take the ones that get it.

Q: How much of a priority was it to get a defensive lineman in this draft?

A: Well it was very important. We’ve had some people move on, so we have an offensive line and a defensive line and what we’re trying to do is play New York Giant football, get back to the physical aspect of how we play, the camaraderie, the believing in each other, the ability to be the stronger unit on the field.

Q: You said Bromley is at 310. And you want him to put more weight on?

A: I’d like him to be stronger, bigger as he grows a little bit older and spends a lot of time in our weight room. Sure, absolutely – bigger, stronger, faster.

Q: And you’ve envisioned him as mostly a three-technique kind of guy?

A: He’s a defensive tackle. He’ll be asked to do more than there here. That’s what he did play, yeah, he played defensive tackle. He will be a defensive tackle here.

Q: Does he give up some stoutness against the run, with the sacks?

A: No, I don’t think so. That would not be a concern.

MEDIA Q&A WITH JAY BROMLEY:

Q: Congratulations.

A: Thank you.

Q: How surprised were you when your phone rang and you were told it was the Giants on the line?

A: I thought they were joking, to be honest. I was in the grocery store, I thought they were joking.

Q: Obviously you weren’t sitting at that moment expecting for the phone to ring. What was your night like? When did you think you might get a call?

A: Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to go today. I was just expecting, like everybody else, trying to see how many people in my position went in the second and third round and seeing how everything fell. I didn’t’ expect the call at all tonight.

Q: So how long did it take you to realize that it actually was the Giants on the line?

A: When I talked to Coach Coughlin and it was just surreal, it was like, ‘Man, this is really happening right now. This is why I worked so hard.’ It’s just amazing.

Q: I would guess this was the number one choice for you, is that correct?

A: Oh, the home team, my favorite team. It’s crazy, this is my favorite team – Big Blue. And then I get picked by them, that’s crazy. It’s amazing.

Q: What were you doing tonight? What were your plans? You’re in a grocery store at 10 o’clock at night.

A: I was at the grocery story with my girlfriend getting some juice and getting a movie from RedBox. I’m about to get the movie from RedBox and it’s like, ‘Oh, man.’

Q: Who called you and what did they say? What was your response to them at that point?

A: At first it was the Giants scout before he gave me over to Coach Coughlin. He was just like, ‘Is this Jay Bromley?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, this is Jay.’ He said, ‘I’m a scout for the New York Giants’ and I was like, ‘Yeah this is Jay.’ He was like, ‘I’m calling you because we’re about to pick you.’ I was like, ‘No, you’re lying.’ He said, ‘No, we’re not joking.’ I said, ‘Oh, this is crazy.’ He said, ‘Let me get you over to Coach Coughlin,’ and he was just like, ‘Just get ready to come in and get to work.’ I’m just like, ‘I’m ready.’

Q: You said you went to RedBox to get a movie, has the movie night been put on hold a little bit?

A: Oh man, the movie’s been completely put on hold. The movie’s an afterthought now, to be completely honest.

Q: What movie did you end up choosing?

A: I think we were going to watch Gravity.

Q: They talked about you putting on weight, adding more muscle, maybe even getting up to 315, 320. What did you play at last year? What do you feel most comfortable playing and what do you think about getting up to that weight? How hard would that be for you?

A: I played at 296 last year during the season then I played at 307 during the all-star game. As long as I make sure I get in good condition and make sure I put on more muscle than fat and I can still keep my quickness, add some flexibility, I don’t know, maybe 315 might be a good weight for me, maybe not. I’ll just have to wait and see.

Q: What do you view as your strengths as a player? Obviously the sack number pops out. What do you view as some of your top skills?

A: Getting to the quarterback. It’s really fun to me to rush the passer, to learn different moves and to try different moves to get to the quarterback. I feel like that’s an asset that I bring to the team, just getting in the backfield. If I’m not sacking the quarterback, just disrupting the pocket a little bit.

Q: You obviously said you weren’t expecting to get drafted today. Where did you expect to get drafted? What kind of stuff were you hearing even though you ended up being a third-round pick?

A: I’m one of those guys that think in the worst-case scenario, so I didn’t expect to be drafted. I heard four to six, but the way the draft works, players start going and it’s just a whole bunch of sliding scales that I didn’t understand, so I just thought of the worst-case scenario – going tomorrow at the earliest.

Q: What were your plans for tomorrow? Did you plan on that being your draft day or were you going to do your thing tomorrow also the same way?

A: I did plan on that being my draft day. I graduate tomorrow at 4 p.m. so I was just expecting everything, just to get up tomorrow and do the graduation and then the draft in my head as well, just waiting for it.

Q: Coach Coughlin said he heard a lot of screaming when he was talking to you as well. Who was that and what was their reaction?

A: I was with my girlfriend and my teammate and a couple other people I go to Syracuse with and I got the call and I was like, no. I hit them on the shoulder and was like, ‘Bro, this can’t be.’ I was like, ‘No, no.’ Coughlin started talking and I was like, ‘Man, this is real.’ Everybody started going crazy. It was just a dream come true.

Q: Have you spoken to Ryan Nassib or to Justin Pugh about the Giants yet?

A: I haven’t. I look forward to talking to these guys, get to go to a team I’m familiar with the boys I know. I can’t wait.

Q: Obviously you’re a Giants fan, you know about the legacy here on the defensive line. What does it mean to now be a part of that?

A: That’s the thing. The defensive line, that’s why I love the Giants. The defensive line back with Osi and Strahan and it’s like, ‘Man, I grew up watching that.’ When they beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl with the sacks they got and with the pressure, it’s just so exciting because I love to sack the quarterback and it’s like that’s what they do.

Q: You’re graduating tomorrow, have they given you any idea of when you’re going to be heading down here to the facility?

A: They told me that we start on Monday and I graduate tomorrow. I don’t know how soon I’ll be there; probably the latest will be Sunday. Then we get things going from there.

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4th Round – RB Andre Williams, 5’11”, 230lbs, 4.56, Boston College
Andre Williams, Boston College Eagles (November 23, 2013)

Andre Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SCOUTING REPORT: Williams led the country in rushing in 2013 with 2,177 yards and 18 touchdowns, but he did not have one pass reception. Williams is a big, powerful, instinctive, north-south, downhill runner with decent speed. He is not terribly quick or elusive but he runs with good balance and body control. Williams breaks tackles and gains yards after contact. Williams has a tough, physical running style. He likes to punish opponents and is a good short-yardage back. Williams obviously needs to become more of a factor in the passing game but he reportedly caught the ball well at his Pro Day. Smart and competitive.

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

Andre Williams, running back, Boston College – well-known, big back, a lot of production, power runner, can bang inside and has speed to take it for big runs if he breaks into the secondary. A very good value for us, gives us some more depth at our running back position, creates a lot of competition. We’re still hoping that David Wilson comes back and is able to go, but again, we said out of the gate that we weren’t’ going to count on that until the doctors say that he can practice full-contact and he hasn’t been released to do that. We think he’s going to be there but we couldn’t pass up the value of a running back like this, of this caliber, at this point in the draft.

Q: Were you impressed with the way that Williams handled that workload at Boston College this year? That was a lot of carries but it seems like he came out…?

A: Yeah, he’s got a lot of carries under his belt and the thing about it, he comes through the line of scrimmage and 22 eyes are looking at him and he still rushes for 2,000 yards. We’re very impressed with that and, again, this is the kind of guy that if you want to pound the rock, this is the kind of guy you can pound the rock with. If you get up in a game and you’re trying to run the clock out in that four-minute drill at the end, this is the kind of guy that you can get the ball to over and over and over and he’ll get first downs for you.

Q: Is his blocking encouraging, too?

A: He’s not asked to block. He carries the ball most of the time but the few times you get to see him block, we think he can do that. Obviously he will have to learn technique and pass pro, those kinds of things, but he’s smart and tough so we think he could be a blocker.

Q: He hasn’t caught the ball much in his career, he said it wasn’t something he did much in high school or college. Is that something that you think he can do and just hasn’t had the opportunity or is it kind of raw there?

A: We think, we hope, he can develop and be able to catch. I don’t think we’re going to use him in that role. I’m not the coordinator, they’ll use him however they want to use him, but they really like his skill set. I think mostly he’ll be carrying the football instead of catching the football. All backs need to be able to catch the ball at some point in your offense. You’re right, he hasn’t caught a lot of balls but hopefully he’ll be able to do the few options they have for him as a receiver out of the backfield.

Q: I was going to ask pretty much the same kind of question about his pass catching ability?

A: If it’s a weak point, that’s what it is. They haven’t used him a lot as a receiver out of the backfield.

Q: You’re not going to put a running back on the field unless he can protect the quarterback.

A: Yeah, he has the size, he’s tough, he’s smart so we don’t think he’ll have any problems adjusting and picking up the blitzes and things like that. We expect him to be a guy who can come in and perform those duties.

Q: Any of the four today that dropped into your lap that you were a little surprised?

A: We’re a little bit surprised by the BC running back because he had so much production coming out. He’s a big back, we were a little bit surprised that he was there. He was kind of sticking out. Last night when we looked at the board before we left he was kind of sticking out there.

MEDIA Q&A WITH DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING MARC ROSS: (Video)

Andre Williams, I am sure you have seen or heard that this guy is a big, strong, downhill violent runner. He is going to break tackles and pound out yards. He is going to be physical.

Q: Were you surprised [Andre] Williams was there where he was in the 4th round?

A: A little bit. We were kind of worried he would get taken right before us in the fourth, especially when a couple backs got taken. And then seeing some teams up there that might have needed a back. With his skill set, we think it transfers well up here, and we thought somebody might take him there.

Q: Did you have a 2nd round grade on him?

A: We had a good grade on him. A real good grade. Second or third-ish kind of grade.

Q: In other years would [Andre Williams] be valued higher?

A: It is hard to say. Each year, there have been no first round backs the past two years. Why? I don’t know. Is it just that there aren’t any more great backs or they are getting devalued or is it both? Who knows? We will see what happens in two years, what the trend is and maybe they come back in value if teams start running the ball. You just never know.

Q: Do you think Andre Williams can play right away?

A: He can run the ball so we can just turn around and hand him the ball. He can do that. He has done that pretty well. Of course all these college guys have to learn to pass block. It is rare nowadays where a guy is ready-made to pass block. Throughout camp and pre-season… he is willing, he is a big body and the times he does [pass block] he likes to do it. He should transition to that fairly easily.

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

We had Andre Williams in a good spot and we were hoping that we would have a chance to draft him and it did work out. There are so many, they seem to go on runs. There was a run on running backs and he made it through that so he got to us. You’ve already recognized that five of these guys are captains, which is a good thing, weaving through the character, the leadership, the responsibility, the accountability weaving through this group is a good thing.

Q: In other years, I would think a Heisman Trophy finalist and the leading rusher in the country would not have been a fourth-round pick. The way that running backs are, does he look like a fourth-round pick to you?

A: No, not at all. Quite frankly, we had him in at least the second. Some guys had first-round grades on him. You kind of start to accept what is the common verbiage out there, we didn’t have a running back go in the first round. It looked like they were all going to bunch up there in the second round and there were good players, don’t get me wrong. But we had this young man graded high and we were fortunate to be able to get him.

Q: You said at the combine that you had to maintain your commitment to the run. How important is bringing in a guy like Andre to do that?

A: Very, very important. Along with what we currently have here, this is a big, powerful guy, basically a first and second down runner, can run the zone scheme. When you stop and think about what Boston College was able to accomplish this year, I don’t know how much tape you guys have seen, but they would come out sometimes in two or three tight ends, which would bring the entire defense down and actually have the offensive formation contained almost hash mark to hash mark in college football. And yet this kid still rushed for (2,100) plus yards. He’s able to break tackles, he’s fast enough that when he gets in the open he can go all the way. He’s demonstrated that. He runs outside, he runs inside, he’s run the counter game, the gap scheme stuff, the power and he breaks arm tackles, he runs through people, he’s strong, he’s not big, strong legs that allow him to drive through people and fall forward, which is another nice thing. Yes, that does give us a chance. I think that also makes our offensive linemen realize that… you wouldn’t take a guy like that unless you were committed to the run. We’ve got to get going up front again and be the dominating force up front, which can move the defense.

Q: Are you concerned at all that the kid had 355 carries?

A: It’s only one year. That gets talked about. But that was only the one year, I think he had 170 something maybe the year before. That gets discussed, there’s no doubt he’s taken a lot of hits but he’s dished out a lot of hits, too.

Q: With young running backs, you usually nurture them a little bit before you throw them in. The way I hear you talking about Williams, are you expecting him to come in and contribute right away?

A: I said last night or two nights ago that I expect everybody to contribute right away. This is not one of those deals. We need people to come in and play, that’s why we’ve done a good job of selecting them. If there are five captains here, then there is some maturity here. If there’s maturity here, hopefully they can make the adjustment. Sure, it’s new. Yeah, it’s different. Yes, it is a life-long dream. Yes, I have to get over that part of it. I’ve got to realize that it’s hard work, get back to it, but if that’s the case then we’ll have some guys that will be a little bit ahead of the curve.

MEDIA Q&A WITH ANDRE WILLIAMS:

Q: Thoughts on joining the Giants?

A: Honestly, I’m just elated right now. Honestly, the Giants are just the team from the beginning that I really resonated the most with. I had a great interview at the combine with coach Coughlin and everybody, the whole staff there. We really just had a good vibe flowing in the room. I just had a feeling from the moment that this would be the team that would end up picking me up. It’s right in an area that I’m really familiar with in the northeast, so I’m just glad that it worked out this way.

Q: Were you surprised that you didn’t go yesterday? A lot of people were saying that you were possibly a second or third round pick. What was it like waiting yesterday to today?

A: It’s not necessarily when I got picked up, it’s where I got picked up. Like I said, from the start I had a feeling it was going to be the Giants and it really ended up turning out that way. I’m really just glad that it turned out that way. Patience is a really valuable thing. It worked out the best possible way it could, no matter what round it ended up being. Whether it was after the fourth round had I came to the Giants, I would have been just as happy. The round doesn’t really bother me at all.

Q: What do you think it says about the value of running backs in the draft that you led the nation in rushing and were a Heisman finalist and there were 110 guys picked before you?

A: I think the running back position is such a versatile position in the league. The trend might be for them to go later on in the draft but I think they’re just as valuable to an offense. There’s no other position that’s called upon to protect the quarterback, convert downs in hard situations and control the clock. I think the running back is just as valuable as it was back in the day even though the trend is for running backs to go later on in the rounds.

Q:  I noticed you didn’t have any receptions last year, I guess, because of the increase in carries. Did you also do a lot of pass protection for the quarterback?

A: I did do a lot of pass protection last year and in years past. I’ve been through about five different offensive coordinators, different offenses I was called upon to do different things. This year I was just called upon to run the ball and we had a lot of success with that. I think I am solid in pass protection.

Q: You only caught 10 passes in your career, how much was it that you weren’t given the opportunity and how much did teams, when they worked you out, asked you about that and tested you on that?

A: Catching the ball has not been my strong point in my career. I wasn’t called upon to do it a lot in high school or in college just because I was such a great runner but it is something that I’ve continued to work on throughout the years and especially in the last offseason a lot. It’s something that I’m continuing to get better at.

Q: When you met with the Giants and had their interviews, did they give you any indication how they might use you if they picked you or what they expected of you?

A: I don’t think the interview really went that in depth.

Q: Do you compare yourself to any running backs? Did you have a running back that you looked up to growing up?

A: I don’t compare myself to any running backs but growing up I did really watch Adrian Peterson a lot. I drew a lot of inspiration from him in high school and in college. Marshawn Lynch as well.

Q: What do you think you bring to the team?

A: I think I’m going to bring consistency to a team, competitiveness on every down. When I get the ball I’m going to have the potential for a big play every time just because of my size and speed. I’m just going to be a great team player.

Q: You carried the ball 355 times last year; I guess that shows a lot about your durability. Did that take anything out of you? Or do you feel like you’ll be ready to perform here at this level with the same type of durability?

A: I did take a lot of carries this year but the last three years that I played before that I didn’t take nearly as many carries. I think it was good for me to take that many carries, to be so close to the professional level at that time, it was good to get that many carries and show that I could be durable, I could take a lot of carries. My body is built for it. I’m 230 pounds. It doesn’t really faze me to take that many carries. It was a lot of fun doing it this year.

Q: The thing that keeps rookie running backs off the field a lot is pass protection. That seems to be one of your strengths. Do you think you can come in and contribute right away?

A: Absolutely. I’m just going to come in this offseason and compete and work as hard as I can and push everyone around me and have everyone push me as well. If that translates for me getting on the field early, then I’m welcome to that idea.

Q: Have you already worked on plans of getting down here, when you’re going to be down? Do you expect to be able to jump right into the program?

A: I’m really excited. I’m really excited to jump into the program. It’s funny because I’m at my house right now, everybody is looking at this moment as the biggest moment in my career, but really I’m more focused on what’s coming after because I know that the work starts here. I’m just really excited to get up there and meet everybody and get into the program and have some stability in my life over the next four years and however long my career with the Giants will last, just ingrain myself in the program.

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5th Round – S Nat Berhe, 5’10”, 195lbs, 4.56, San Diego State
Nat Berhe, San Diego State Aztecs (December 20, 2012)

Nat Berhe – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SCOUTING REPORT: Berhe was a 4-year starter at San Diego State where he played a hybrid safety/linebacker position. He projects to safety or slot corner in the pros. Berhe lacks ideal size and speed, but he is an instinctive, tough, aggressive, productive defender who plays hard all of the time. Berhe is a fluid athlete. He flies around the field and plays faster than he times. Berhe hits hard and makes a ton of tackles. He does not make many plays on the football in the air. A team leader, Berhe is a very competitive, smart, and confident player who loves the game. He should do well on special teams.

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

Berhe is a safety from San Diego State. This guy is really productive, a tackling machine, a little bit undersized but you just can’t deny how this guy is a football player. We use the term ‘football player;’ this guy is one of those guys, a football player. He’s all over the place; he’ll play on all of your special teams. You expect guys like Andre Williams to play on special teams as well. Very productive, a really good football player.

Q: In past years we’ve seen you guys taking kind of some height, weight, speed guys like Cooper Taylor and Jacquian Williams. It seemed like this year a guy like Berhe is a little bit undersized.

A: He’s the only guy that’s not a height, weight, speed guy. He’s the only one.

Q: Like Andre Williams, he’s a height, weight, speed guy?

A: Absolutely.

Q: Where do you see Berhe kind of fitting in and playing? Free safety, strong safety, in the nickel, corner?

A: Wherever Perry Fewell wants to use him. Obviously, again, he’s one of those kids that’s a football player. He gets his uniform by playing on special teams first and I think he can back up and spot play at either one of the safety spots. How they used him at San Diego State, they used him close to the line of scrimmage.

Q: It seemed like he had a lot to do with calling the defense there at San Diego State?

A: Yeah, he’s smart, he’s a good leader. He’s kind of the patrol back there.

MEDIA Q&A WITH DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING MARC ROSS: (Video)

[Nat Berhe] is a football player. This guy is a team captain. He plays a hybrid role as a safety, corner and linebacker role where he is all over the place. Different defenses call it something different, but this guy knows multiple positions and again it is a guy that plays hard and has a high motor. He is very instinctive and physical for a small guy, but that is his trait. He is very physical.

Q: How does the Aztec position that Nat Berhe plays, how does that transition to how you would use him here?

A: Well, you can compare it to the third safety role, that Deon Grant role as we’ve called it. That would be the most natural fit. This is what [Berhe] did and this is what that role was. Whatever Perry [Fewell] wants to do, if he wants to play him high, if he wants to play him at wherever, it is up to them. We like that he is just a player.

Q: Is the [Aztec] position becoming more of an actual position that players are specializing in?

A: Yes, I think so. You are seeing more hybrid positions at all positions. With the nature of these offenses, the spread offenses, you are seeing defensive ends who are smaller and are linebacker size, and linebackers who are smaller, more DB size, and safeties and corners that are interchangeable because of the nature of being spread out. It is basketball-on-grass kind of deal that is going on now.

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

The safety is an all-around football player that we think can come in and right away be a backup and help us on special teams. He is a throw-your-body-around kind of guy, really sharp, loves football, the whole deal. He was a guy that stood out on the board and would be used in that capacity.

MEDIA Q&A WITH NAT BERHE:

Q: What are your immediate thoughts on coming to the Giants? Did you have much interaction with them throughout the process?

A: Not really. I got a phone call from them a week ago. They asked for my phone number. They wanted to make sure it was the right phone number to reach me on draft day. I knew they needed safeties, but that was about it.

Q: What would you say your greatest quality is to come in here and have a chance to contribute?

A: My instincts. I have great eyes. You watch my film, and I am able to dissect plays and get to the ball. I led the team in tackles two years in a row. Getting to the ball and being very disruptive on the defensive side of the ball are what I do really well.

Q: Are you more of a strong safety? A free safety? Can you play both?

A: I can play both. At San Diego State, I played the Aztec position. The Aztec position plays linebacker and blitzes off the edge. I played a little bit of free safety and kind of did it all. I am very comfortable playing either role.

Q: What’s the Aztec position? Give us a little background on that and how it is different from a natural safety or a natural linebacker?

A: The Aztec position used to be called the Lobo, and was played by Brian Urlacher at New Mexico. His coaching staff came over to San Diego State and we implemented it there, and called it the Aztec. It basically is a hybrid linebacker/safety. It can be used in different ways, such as blitzing off the edge or being brought down in the box as an extra linebacker. He can play deep pass or safety or line up in the slot and play guys man-to-man. The position makes a lot of the adjustments on defense as well. He has to be a smart guy.

Q: What have teams told you about where you will play, how you kind of transition to the pro level position wise? Do they view you as a free safety or a strong safety?

A: I’ve heard multiple things. I’ve heard strong safety. I’ve heard nickel. I’ve heard free safety. I have heard it all, honestly.

Q: Your bio said you had a lot of experience on special teams. Was that by design? Was that something that you wanted to do?

A: I think that was by design. At my school I played a lot of special teams in my freshman and sophomore years. My junior and senior years not so much. I think that is just how the coaches wanted it to be done. I played almost every snap both years. It was kind of a thing that just happened.

Q: What were your expectations here in the draft? What were you being told about where you thought you would be going?

A: You hear multiple things from different teams. I heard from the Steelers that if I was available in the third round they would get me in the third or the fourth. I heard fourth of fifth. It was all in the same area. I mostly heard fourth or fifth.

Q: I saw some of your tweets right after you got picked; it seemed like you had a bit of a chip on your shoulder. Do you play like that?

A: Absolutely, if you look at my film, I try to be the biggest and baddest dude out there every time. It is just the way I play. It was the way I was taught to play. I just play with a lot of emotion and anger and I try to take people’s heads off, it’s what I do. I think that is how the safety position is supposed to be played.

Q: Obviously you’re not the biggest guy in the world, do you compensate for your lack of size with aggression and intensity?

A: When you talk about my size, what are you exactly talking about? If you look at some of the guys out there, like Earl Thomas, he’s 5-10. Devin McCourtney is 5-11. If you look at some of the safeties that are starting in the NFL, they are 5-10 or 5-11. I have actually put on weight. I now weigh 200-201 [pounds].

Q: Is that weight where you’d like to play at or do you want to put on even more weight than that?

A: During the season I played at 202 [pounds]. I mean it just varies on what the coaching staff wants me to do.

Q: Were you a team captain at San Diego State?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: What does that mean do you think? What does it show teams when you’re a team captain?

A: It shows them that you are a leader. You are a guy willing to stay after and get extra reps in, whether it is in the film room or the weight room. To be a great leader, what I have found out is that you have to be willing to serve. I did stuff like setting up team barbeques and paying with my own money. You have to be willing to get the guys together and willing to give your time.

Q: Do you already have your travel plans? When you’re planning on heading here?

A: Yes, I am going to make sure I have everything correct. [The Giants] said they are going to fly me out tomorrow. I will get there and then Monday I will start working out with the team. I will double-check that and make sure.

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5th Round – LB Devon Kennard, 6’3”, 249lbs, 4.69, USC
Devon Kennard, USC (September 21, 2013)

Devon Kennard – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SCOUTING REPORT: Kennard is is DE/LB ‘tweener who played 4-3 defensive end, strongside linebacker, and middle linebacker, as well as 3-4 outside linebacker at USC. He has good size and strength for a linebacker, but lacks ideal overall athleticism for the position. Kennard has long arms, good strength, and plays with leverage. He tackles well and is not bad in coverage. He has been injury prone with significant injuries to his knee (ACL), thumb, hip, and chest in his career, all requiring surgery. Team captain and highest GPA on team at USC.

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

Kennard, the linebacker from USC, we feel like he’s a versatile player. He’s a nine-sack guy, led the team in sacks. He played middle linebacker at one point for them and then they moved him outside with the coaching change so we think he can play all three positions for us. He can be a rusher, a situational pass rusher for us and obviously play on all of the special teams. A hard-nosed football player. A bunch of these guys, again, are captains as well. Captains, clean guys.

MEDIA Q&A WITH DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING MARC ROSS: (Video)

[Devon] Kennard has great blood lines. He is another guy that is physical and tough. He has played outside backer in the 3-4. He’s played middle backer in a 4-3 under a couple different defensive coordinators. We had him in here on a visit. This guy is one of the sharpest guys that we have had in terms of football knowledge. Another captain. Face of the program. Leader of the team.

Q: With Devon [Kennard] how much does his experience at defensive end kind of help him move back to outside linebacker and was that a factor in selecting him?

A: Sure, you always like versatile players, and just the fact that he was able to do that and transition to those positions easily each year shows you his football sense and IQ and that was one of the most intriguing things when we had him here was his ability to communicate about all positions up on the front. It was very impressive. Hopefully going forward when we get him here, he is a guy that in the middle of a game, middle of a week, whatever, we can say go here, go here, go there and he will be able to do it very easily.

Q: Is that what you see [Devon] Kennard as, a hybrid type of guy?

A: He can rush the passer from the edge and he has been in the middle so we are going to throw him in there and see if he can play middle backer, outside backer, SAM and put his hand down sometimes, too. It is up to Perry [Fewell] how he wants to use him, but he has done all three and we feel like he definitely right away can be thrown in at middle [linebacker] and then go from there.

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

Kennard, we had a guy that when he came and visited with us he made a great impression. He’s played multiple positions. He’s a tough, hard-nosed football player. He was great on the board, he did an excellent job of that. He really convinced the coaches that he was a really sharp football player, a multiple position guy, a guy that would come in here and play the linebacker position for us, which is what he’ll do. So we’re excited about that.

MEDIA Q&A WITH DEVON KENNARD:

Q: Did you have any high expectations coming into the draft and where you might fall? What is your reaction about coming to the Giants?

A: I didn’t really come into the draft with any high expectations, I just wanted an opportunity; the earlier, the better, of course. I just wanted to go to a good fit and a great opportunity. That’s what the Giants have given me. I couldn’t be happier. I had a great visit when I visited them and I really connected with the coaching staff. I’m very excited to go contribute and help win.

Q: What was the motivation behind your move from defensive end to outside linebacker? Do you prefer playing in either spot? Do you think you’re a better fit in either spot?

A: I definitely feel like I have the ability to do both, but I feel very comfortable at the outside linebacker spot. Being able to drop into coverage and blitz at times and do different things like that is something that I feel very comfortable with and it provides me more versatility. I think I’m a smart player, so I feel like I could bring something on that aspect to the Giants organization.

Q: What kind of defensive front have you played in your college career, a 3-4 or 4-3?

A: I played in both, but for the majority of my career it was a 4-3, and I played a lot of different positions. I came in as a defensive end and then I played SAM linebacker in a 4-3 and then defensive end in a 4-3, middle linebacker in a 4-3 and then this past season I played outside linebacker in a 3-4. I feel very well-versed doing a lot of different things.

Q: What kind of feedback did you get back from teams that run a 4-3 a a position for you?

A: Pretty much every team, including the Giants, saw me as a SAM, a SAM in a 3-4 or a 4-3 team. That’s what I definitely feel most comfortable with, that’s what I feel like my athleticism and versatility allow me to do. I think it’s a very good fit for me.

Q: When did you come in for a visit and who did you meet with? What was that like?

A: It was a couple weeks ago. I came in, got to meet the whole coaching staff, the head coach, the GM, everybody, the linebackers coach and it was a great experience. We had some great conversations and I got to show them my football knowledge. I feel like, with all of the different things I’ve done in college, I really have a good understanding of football and defenses and understanding concepts. I was able to kind of really express that message in some of the meetings.

Q: Where else did you visit, and when you left here, did you feel it was a strong possibility?

A: I definitely felt like the conversations were great. Everyone kind of keeps what they do in the draft close to their vests so it was hard to tell but I knew the conversations went great and I felt like I had a great relationship with the linebackers coach and the coordinator and the head coach. I think I left them with a good impression, too. When my name came across I definitely wasn’t surprised it was them, but I was very grateful.

Q: You had some injuries throughout your career. Did you sense teams were taking an extra look at you because of that and did you need to prove anything to them health-wise?

A: I’ve had a few injuries, like you said, but they were all unfortunate deals. If you play this game long enough, you’re going to get a few injuries. I think it’s more important to look at how I responded to all of those injuries. I’ve had a couple of injuries and I’ve only missed one college season and it was because I tore my pec right before the season. All of the other injuries, I came back and played from right away. If you go and talk to anyone at USC, they’ll tell you about my work ethic and the kind of person and the kind of character and intensity I bring every day. I think those are the things you really have to look at.

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6th Round – CB Bennett Jackson, 6’0”, 195lbs, 4.48, Notre Dame
Bennett Jackson, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (October 26, 2013)

Bennett Jackson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SCOUTING REPORT: Jackson converted to cornerback from wide receiver at Notre Dame and could project to safety. He has good size and decent speed for a corner, but may lack ideal quickness for the position. His overall instincts have been questioned, but Jackson seems to make a lot of plays. He is a good hitter and tackler. Team captain at Notre Dame and a good special teams player.

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

Jackson, cornerback from Notre Dame. Formerly a wide receiver, played a couple years at corner. We think he has some upside, has some intangibles that we like – height, weight, speed. I think we could hit on a guy like this. Again, he’s our kind of guy, he’s a captain, a leader, going to play on all of your special teams while he’s developing into a corner.

MEDIA Q&A WITH DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING MARC ROSS: (Video)

Bennett Jackson: Another captain, size, speed corner who is still kind of developing into his position. He is a former wide receiver. We think he has a lot of upside, one of these guys late in the draft. These big corners that have been taken that can run and you work with, you hit on. making their way on teams for a couple years and then you got a player.

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

Bennett Jackson is also a captain who is a guy who had played the wide receiver position, he’s a defensive corner and will help us on special teams. He’s long, he’s very fast, he’s played at the highest level of competition so we’re very pleased with that.

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Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports

TE Xavier Grimble, 6’4”, 257lbs, 4.75, USC (Video)
Grimble has good size and size potential. While Grimble is not overly quick, he is agile and has deceptive speed. As a receiver, he is a solid short-to-intermediate threat with good hands and run-after-the-catch ability. He is more of a position blocker who can struggle to get movement, but he does work at it.

OT Adam Gress, 6’7”, 300lbs, 5.43, Penn State
The Giants signed Gress in August 2014. Gress tried out with the Steelers in May after the 2014 NFL Draft but was not signed. Gress has good size but lacks athleticism.

DE Kerry Wynn, 6’5”, 266lbs, 4.87, Richmond
Wynn has a nice combination of size, strength, and overall athletic ability. He needs to play with better leverage to make it at the next level as he is too easily blocked. Team captain. In 2013, Wynn started all 10 games in which he played and finished with 56 tackles, 5.5 tackles for losses, and 2.5 sacks.

DE Emmanuel Dieke, 6’6”, 261lbs, 4.81, Georgia Tech
Dieke has a nice size combination of size and overall athleticism.

DE Jordan Stanton, 6’4”, 262lbs, 4.94, James Madison (Video)
Stanton earned All-Colonial Athletic Association accolades for recording 56 tackles, 11.5 for loss, 8 sacks in 2013.

Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina Gamecocks (January 1, 2014)

Kelcy Quarles – © USA TODAY Sports Images

DT Kelcy Quarles, 6’4”, 297lbs, 5.03, South Carolina (Video)
Quarles was a junior entry who was a 2+ year starter at South Carolina. He lacks ideal size but he has long arms and fine initial quickness and some power to his game. Quarles plays hard and hustles. He makes noise as an interior pass rusher. When he plays with leverage, Quarles flashes against the run. However, at times he far too easily blocked and needs to improve in that area in order to make it. Named first-team All-Southeastern Conference.

DT Eathyn Manumaleuna, 6’2”, 296lbs, 5.16, BYU (Video)
Manumaleuna was an extremely versatile 4-year starter at BYU as he played nose tackle and defensive end in the 3-4 and defensive tackle in the 4-3. Manumaleuna lacks ideal size but he is strong, quick, and athletic. He is stout at the point-of-attack and sheds blockers well. Manumaleuna is more of a run stuffer than pass rusher. Competitive.

LB Dan Fox, 6’3”, 233lbs, 4.70, Notre Dame
Fox has decent size, but he lacks ideal overall athleticism for the position. Fox is a smart, tough player who directed Notre Dame’s defense. However, he did not make many impact plays.

LB Justin Anderson, 6’2”, 235lbs, 4.70, Louisiana-Lafayette
Anderson lacks ideal size, but he is deceptively athletic. Anderson was a very instinctive, productive tackler in college from the middle linebacker position. In 2013, he led his team with 131 tackles.  Named first-team All-Sun Belt.

S Thomas Gordon, 5’10”, 213lbs, 4.50, Michigan
Gordon lacks ideal height, but he is well-built and a decent athlete. He is a good run defender who hits and tackles well. He started 38 games at Michigan.

S C.J. Barnett, 6’0”, 204lbs, 4.59, Ohio State (Video)
Barnett lacks ideal size and athleticism. He is an aggressive, instinctive player. Barnett is a team leader who is very competitive and smart. He started 37 games at Ohio State.

S Kyle Sebetic, 5’11”, 194lbs, 4.53, Dayton (Video)
The Giants signed Kyle Sebetic as an undrafted rookie free agent in June 2014. He tried out with the Giants and Chicago Bears in May after the draft but was not signed. Sebetic played cornerback at the University of Dayton, where he started 11 games his senior season and accrued 63 tackles and one interception. Sebetic may project to safety at the pro level. He is a bit of cornerback/safety ‘tweener as he lacks ideal size for safety and ideal speed for cornerback. He is a good hitter and tackler. Smart.

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Eric’s Take on the 2014 Draft

The New York Giants are not reloading; they are rebuilding. And while this rebuilding project does not reach down to the foundational level (head coach and quarterback), the offensive coaching staff was almost completely revamped (three new coaches, two re-assigned); core players have retired or been allowed to leave via free agency; an unprecedented 16 players were added in veteran free agency; and an additional 18 players have been added since the draft started.

Despite all of these roster additions, the New York Giants were not able to address every need in the 2014 NFL Draft. Team leadership was surprisingly candid about this immediately after the draft.

“In personnel, sometimes you can’t get everything,” said General Manager Jerry Reese. “You can’t just waive a magic wand.”

“You get seven picks, and you can’t take everything you need,” said Marc Ross. “You can’t have first round picks at every pick that you want and things that you think you need.”

How does a team that has added 34 players in the past three months still have significant holes? Because for a variety of reasons, too many picks in the last six NFL Drafts have not worked out and are no longer with the team. Hence the need for a major rebuilding project.

So before we look at what the Giants accomplished, let’s look at what they did not accomplish.

Ideally, the Giants would have liked to have added premium draft picks at the offensive tackle, tight end, defensive end, and linebacker positions. But as Reese and Ross said, you can’t do everything you want in one draft when you have so many needs.

Tight end has gotten more attention from fans, but the Giants have a glaring question mark at tackle. Will Beatty is coming off of a bad season and a significant injury that will hamper his preparation for the 2014 season. If he isn’t ready or struggles again, the passing and running games will suffer. Charles Brown, a former 2nd round pick of the Saints who was brought in for depth and insurance, struggled in New Orleans with inconsistent pass protection and penalties. The Giants could shift Justin Pugh to left tackle, but then who plays right tackle? Geoff Schwartz? Even he admits he is a better guard. James Brewer? He hasn’t taken the bull by the horns since drafted in 2011. Brandon Mosley or Stephen Goodin? Still relative unknowns.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin was surprisingly honest about his desire to add a tight end in the draft. “It has to work out for you and all of a sudden, bang, a couple guys were gone in that 2nd round and you say, ‘Wait a minute, how deep is that position and then who?’ Two of them (who we liked) are (drafted by other teams),” said Coughlin. “Yeah it’s a concern.”

So the Giants will have to hope that one of the following step up: journeymen Daniel Fells or Kellen Davis, or the talented but so far disappointing Adrien Robinson or Larry Donnell. I still would not write off the possibility of signing free agent Jermichael Finley if he can pass a physical.

On paper, the strength of the Giants defense seems to have shifted from the defensive line to the secondary. If true, I can’t recall at time when that was ever the case. Now the Giants must pray that Jason Pierre-Paul regains his 2011 form after two bad seasons. They must also pray that Damontre Moore develops into a quality pass rusher. Mathias Kiwanuka and Robert Ayers are not bad players, but they don’t scare anyone. Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, and Justin Tuck are just memories now. In 2014, the Giants may struggle to rush the passer.

Jerry Reese learned a valuable lesson in 2013: a good linebacker can dramatically improve the entire defense. Jon Beason proved to be an impact addition, not just because of his play, but perhaps more importantly due to his leadership. But Beason has had some significant injuries and the Giants still lack big-time playmakers at the outside positions. In a perfect world, the Giants would have added a top linebacking prospect. Jameel McClain may help, but he was just a guy in Baltimore. The Giants can get by with what they have (Spencer Paysinger, Jacquian Williams), but there is little depth and no special players.

OK, so let’s look at what the Giants did accomplish in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Adding an impact wide receiver was critical and the Giants appear to have done just that with the selection of Odell Beckham, Jr. in the 1st round. Last season, teams simply took Victor Cruz out of the game and dared the other receivers and tight ends to hurt them. They couldn’t. If Beckham develops into the player as hoped, the Giants will have the outside threat they have lacked since Week 2 of the 2012 NFL season when Hakeem Nicks became a shadow of himself. Beckham has it all except height. Since Eli Manning tends to throw the ball high, additional height would help but Beckham is very quick and fast, runs great routes, can make circus catches, and perhaps most significantly in the new Giants offense, is a tremendous run-after-the-catch receiver. Eli Manning has worked with Beckham in passing camps and fully endorses the selection. Unusually, there already seems to be chemistry there. Most encouraging is that there are reports that at least a half-dozen teams were trying to trade up to snag Beckham. He was picked right where the rest of the NFL seems to have expected him to go. Now if Rueben Randle could just develop, the Giants will be in very good shape at wide receiver.

In round two, most fans thought the Giants would draft an offensive tackle or tight end. But many were also thinking guard or center and the Giants arguably picked the best center in the draft with the selection of Weston Richburg. Richburg lacks ideal size, but most NFL centers are in the same size range (6’3”, 300lbs). He has everything else – strength, agility, quickness, smarts, work ethic, leadership qualities. Temperament wise, he has been compared favorably to Richie Seubert. J.D. Walton may start, but Richburg has the look of a 10-year starter. The Giants may even consider moving Richburg or Walton temporarily to guard if necessary. Richburg was expected to be drafted in this area of the draft and the only criticism that can be leveled here is that he was a “luxury” pick given the needs at tight end and tackle.

Fans debated before the draft how big a need was the defensive tackle position, especially given the free agent departure of Linval Joseph. Some said it was a big need. Others said they were relatively comfortable with the players behind Cullen Jenkins and Joseph’s replacement, Johnathan Hankins. But with the selection of Jay Bromley in the 3rd round, the Giants made it clear they wanted to add another quality prospect to compete with Mike Patterson and Markus Kuhn, as well as groom behind the 33-year old Jenkins. Bromley is the most controversial selection by the Giants. Most “draft experts,” and even Bromley’s agent, expected him to be drafted in rounds 4-6. Fans such as myself who have watched YouTube clips of him (always a dubious exercise) have come away with mixed evaluations. Some see a prospect who struggles at the point-of-attack while others have seen a guy who can penetrate and disrupt. Regardless, how Bromley develops or doesn’t develop will be a big factor in how this draft is evaluated years from now. To be brutally frank, the Giants have really struggled with their 3rd round selections (Jayron Hosley, Jerrel Jernigan, Ramses Barden, Travis Beckum, Gerris Wilkinson) not to mention bad luck with others (Chad Jones and Jay Alford). What we do know about Bromley is he is a guy who is easy to root for (see this outstanding New York Daily News article), he’s a New Yorker who grew up a Giants fan, and he does have good quickness and tenacity for the position. In addition, Bromley was a team captain at Syracuse. The Giants feel he can get bigger and stronger without affecting quickness. Jerry Reese went so far as to compare him to a shorter version of Chris Canty. In my personal view, ultimately, for Bromley to work out, he has to play far more stout at the point-of-attack then I saw on the limited YouTube video that I watched.

There was an intriguing post from BigBlueInteractive.com contributor Ross. Through the grapevine, he heard the following from a former employee of the Philadelphia Eagles:

Each year, teams think they found a few guys that are off the radar and can get them later in the draft for various reasons: injury, small schools, overshadowed etc. This year, one of those guys was Bromley. He said there was a buzz about him in recent weeks and thought he would get drafted earlier that the so called draft experts projected. He’s a “sleeper” and thought many teams wanted him. He said that he is the type of guy that no one talks about as so many teams are interested and they hope he slips. He said no one will work harder than him and Giants got a really good player. Said he was a sure 3rd round pick in his mind and also used the Chris Canty comparison as player type. Thought the Steelers or Bears would grab him in the 3rd which means that he didn’t think it was a reach at all.

As disappointed as many fans were with the “reach” of Bromley, they were equally excited about the Giants drafting RB Andre Williams, the nation’s leading rusher and Heisman Trophy candidate, in the 4th round. Name recognition goes a long way in making the average fan happy around draft time. That said, Williams looks like a very good value selection. A little oddly, running back was not perceived as big need by most Giants fans. This probably had to do more with talent issues at other positions than the true state of affairs, especially given David Wilson’s unsure status. In addition, while I’m a fan of Rashad Jennings, it’s still unknown if he can be the “bell cow” at running back. Williams is a throwback. He’s a big, powerful, bruising running back who seems more out-of-style in today’s pass-happy game. The biggest knock on Williams is his hands. He did not have a single reception in 2013 at Boston College. He also needs to hold onto the ball better (10 fumbles in three seasons). The Jennings-Williams duo gives the Giants backfield an entirely different feel. This is a sledgehammer combination that can wear down a defense if – and this is big “if” – the Giants can block for them up front.

Nat Berhe, the first of the Giants two 5th rounders, is an undersized heat-seeking missile who loves the physical side of the game. He is a big hitter and aggressive tackler. He also is another smart guy and former team captain. At worst, he should excel on special teams. At best, he could become the new in-the-box safety/linebacker in Perry Fewell’s three-safety package. “Well, you can compare it to the third safety role, that Deon Grant role as we’ve called it,” said Marc Ross. “That would be the most natural fit. This is what (Berhe) did and this is what that role was (in college).” The biggest knock on Berhe, other than his size, is that does not make many plays on the football in the air (five interceptions in three seasons).

The second 5th rounder, Devon Kennard, is one of those DE/LB ‘tweeners who the Giants have liked to draft in recent years, but who may not be a good fit for a 4-3 defense. Kennard is big, physical, smart, a team leader, and flashes as a pass rusher. But what we don’t know is if he has the quickness, agility, and speed to play linebacker at the pro level against pass-happy NFL offenses. I envision him as the equivalent to Mathias Kiwanuka (when he played at weakside linebacker), but the Giants have talked about him possibly being a candidate at middle linebacker. I question if he has the overall athleticism for that move. Some had projected Kennard to be drafted much earlier than the 5th round so this at least appears to be a good value selection.

The Giants final pick – CB Bennett Jackson in the 6th round – is also a good value pick. He was projected by some to go higher than this as well. Jackson is a former wide receiver who was converted to corner for the last two years of school at Notre Dame. Another team captain, he was limited his senior season by a shoulder injury. He is size-speed project with good intangibles but he faces stiff competition and numbers at the corner position on this roster. His best immediate prospect may be the Practice Squad unless he kicks ass on special teams in the preseason.

As for the 10 rookie free agents signed after the draft, the three most intriguing are TE Xavier Grimble, DT Kelcy Quarles, and DT Eathyn Manumaleuna. Safeties C.J. Barnett and Thomas Gordon also started a ton of games in the Big 10. Even had the Giants not had a huge need at tight end, Grimble would be an interesting signing. He has a nice combination of size, overall athleticism, and hands. His productivity at USC was hampered by injures and Lane Kiffin’s offense. He could surprise. Quarles was expected by some to be drafted as high as the 2nd-3rd round, but some have questioned his maturity and character. Manumaleuna may lack ideal size and athleticism, but he’s a disruptive football player who can play the run. The Giants also loaded up on defensive ends (Kerry Wynn, Emmanuel Dieke, and Jordan Stanton) and linebackers (Dan Fox and Justin Anderson), hoping one may be a diamond in the rough. Interestingly, 9-out-of-10 of the rookie free agent signings were on the defensive side of the football. None were on the offensive line.

Overall, this appears to be a respectable group. The Giants look like they have future starters in Beckham, Richburg, and Williams. Much depends on Bromley. Did the Giants reach again in the 3rd round or find a gem? The Giants will have to wait until 2015 to address their other needs at offensive tackle (unless Beatty rebounds), tight end (unless someone surprises), defensive end (unless Damontre Moore turns into a stud), and linebacker. The rebuilding project continues.

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May 072014
 
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Zack Martin, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (February 22, 2014)

Zack Martin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2014 NFL Draft Preview: What Will Happen vs What Should Happen

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

Now that my positional previews and top 10 grades are out, I’d like to put something together that combines the overall draft approach with what I think will happen. As I have done in recent years, I will make picks for NYG in real time and compare them with analysis following the draft.

Two things I’m really not in to are mock drafts and a ranking order of team needs. I think the overhype of draft media has blown up what the draft process really is. There are far too many “experts” out there spewing out pointless lists of needs and likely destinations for players and it has really clouded the process for fans. What NYG needs here is very plain and very simple; they need better football players on offense and defense. There are spots available for better players all over the place. We need to accept that as a fact and make the decisions from there. This process isn’t as complicated as some fans make it out to be. Simply grade out a lot of players, check your current roster for space available, and find value with every draft pick you make. You need to avoid the situations where you limit yourself to a certain position of players because Mel Kiper considers it to be the top need for a team. Value will be there every time your team is on the clock and it’s foolish to overlook that.

With that off my chest, here is what I think NYG will do, and should do these next few days.

ROUND 1

This is a deeper-than-usual draft and I’m sure a lot of teams will be looking to move down. Staying put is by far the most likely thing we are going to see on Thursday night. I can’t stress enough that this selection needs to be the top player available on the grade board, regardless of position (unless of course we are talking about a QB). I can make a legit case for OT, LB, DT, DE, S, WR, G and even CB. When looking at the current NYG depth chart, there is a spot for a guy at all those positions. So with that in mind, this decision shouldn’t be a difficult one. I place a lot of value in players in the trenches on both sides and I think there is going to be a match when NYG is on the clock. It’s almost impossible and pointless to try and project the top 11 selections, but we can get a general idea here.

What I think NYG will do:

Zack Martin – OT/Notre Dame

They will have a similar outlook/grade on him as they had on Pugh and his skill set is NFL ready for a few spots. With the instability at guard and tackle, Martin could be the smartest selection this team can make. Will he be an All-Pro? I don’t think so. But that isn’t the point of the draft. Just find good players that can get their job done at a high level. The versatility is a plus here. He could start from day one at a few spots and help revamp this offense.

What I think NYG should do:

Aaron Donald – DT/Pittsburgh

I’ve been on team-Donald for a few months now and I won’t change between now and the first round. Donald is a difference maker and will make plays, no question. The lack of weight doesn’t bother me and his short frame with long arms will make him a terror for linemen to deal with. We are talking about one of the best athletes the DT position has ever seen here. Donald will help the players around him because he can’t be handled by one lineman. How long has it been since we’ve seen that here? The impact Geno Atkins has had on the league has strengthened this notion. If he is available, he should be the pick without hesitation.

ROUND 2

Because NYG can go in so many different directions with their first pick, this will be a little more difficult to project, which is fine. Because of where they pick and this being such a strong class, there is a good chance they will have the opportunity to bring in another top 32 talent on their grading board. As I said earlier, they are not in a spot where they can afford to be picky with positions. Find the good football players and bring them in to compete for spots on the roster and/or provide the much needed depth. This WR class has, rightfully so, received a lot of attention. It is the deepest we’ve seen in a long time and I think there is going to be a big time talent available that you wouldn’t see in years past. In addition, I can see the top RB on their board still being there when NYG is on the clock. The demand for them isn’t high this year and we could see the top guys fall an extra 15-20 spots. The value will be there for NYG.

What I think NYG will do:

Cody Latimer – WR/Indiana

I’ve been talking up Latimer for months now, back to the day where the draft media had him as a 3rd/4th rounder. His performance on tape was outstanding in 2013 despite having a low level of talent to play with at Indiana. NYG is going to look to add a WR with size and speed in somewhere in this draft. They really need a guy that can play the outside and bring a physical presence to the passing game. I think they will have a high grade on Latimer because he brings exactly that to the table with a high upside. His movement ability at 210+ pounds is impressive and we aren’t talking about a raw talent. Latimer has a legit set of WR skills to work with that could make an early impact.

What I think NYG should do:

Joel Bitonio – OT/Nevada

I would take Latimer in a heartbeat in round 2. I have him graded as a top 32 overall guy. But to keep the variety for this piece, I went with someone else. Bitonio is a first round caliber player on my board that can play a few different spots along the line. If there is one attribute I’ve wanted added to this team over the past few years, it is toughness. I always want physical, aggressive, mean guys that want to beat people up on my team. Bitonio brings that approach to the trenches every time he steps on the field. I think he projects best at guard but he could be a factor at tackle if need be. I think Pugh could give NYG more stability at LT and while it’s not my most ideal approach, he would be better than Beatty. That opens things up for Bitonio at RT or at one of the guard spots because I think Schwartz could fare well outside if the team needed. This would really upgrade the NYG line by a lot.

ROUND 3

The start of round three is where I start to get really in to this thing. Rounds 3-5 are where drafts are won and lost. If NYG goes OL/WR with their first two picks, the options are still wide open but they may need to take a harder look at the defensive side of the ball. By no means do they restrict themselves to a few groups of positions, but there needs to be additions made to a defense that has been so up an down over the past few years. In an ideal world, there would be some defensive line talent there but when looking at this class, I don’t see the depth there. It could be slim pickings at this point and they can’t afford to reach for position-based prospects just yet.

What I think NYG will do:

CJ Fiedorowicz – TE/Iowa

NYG hasn’t exactly left the approach of traditional tight ends and I don’t expect them to as long as Coughlin is here. Their TE situation was awful last year and there isn’t anything on this roster that leads one to believe that it will be a formidable group in 2014. FIedorowicz may not be the athletic-based receiver that can take the top off a defense, but he is a reliable pass catcher and a very good run blocker. The Giants OL woes increase the value of a guy like Fiedorowicz. His impact can be felt right away in both the run and passing games, respectively. This is a low risk pick that may not have the enormous upside, but will provide some stability to a position without it as they currently sit.

What I think NYG should do:

Montavious Bryant – WR/Clemson

I think Bryant has as good shot as any WR in this class to be the top guy out of the group in a few years. He has big time ability downfield and there is more wiggle to him underneath with the ball in his hands than given credit. NYG needs a “danger-factor” in this passing game. A guy that can get off the point of attack and knife through the secondary in to the deep route tree. They have some other pieces already in place that will make it a bit easier for a talent like Bryant, and I think he could make an early impact. His potential was a little hidden at Clemson because of the scheme and what was already there. I think this is a serious talent worth going after at this point.

ROUND 4

Day three will be a fun one to watch. This is the area of the draft where you can start going after positions a little bit more because chances are there will be value everywhere. This is where the grading process across the league is really different. At this point of what I think NYG will do, they have gone OL, WR, and DE. There are enough spots of need where the high grade can stand out.

What I think NYG will do:

Anthony Johnson – DT/LSU

Even though I’m not personally high on Johnson, I think NYG is going to like him enough to bring him in day four. He is a tools-rich player that shows flashes of dominance throughout his three years at LSU. NYG will like the blend of size, power, and speed. In his defense, he was put in to different roles along that LSU defensive front, some of which simply didn’t fit his game. He can be the attacking presence inside that this defense really needs. Paired up with Hankins down the road, this could be a nice balance of staying power and upfield penetration that all 4-3 front are looking for. Johnson has upside that remains untapped.

What I think NYG should do:

Travis Swanson – C/Arkansas

From what I can gather, Swanson is going to be available at the beginning of day three. He is my top graded center and this is position that NYG really needs to try and upgrade. The middle of that line has been tossed around for the past few years and it needs to stop. Swanson would be a nice initial presence to have in there. He has a big body with powerful, but light legs which allows him make an impact every down. He’s been the top center in the SEC for a few years now (Barrett Jones included) and I think he can be yet another rookie that makes the early impact.

ROUND 5

There are good players taken in the fifth round every year. Again, this is where the scouts can really make their mark because even though the talent starts to thin out, there are impact guys available. You’ll start to see more small school prospects being taken at this point and Reese has made it a point to scour those markets for NFL-caliber players with the upside. If they are missing out on offensive skill players by this pick, you can be assured they’ll go after one here. Don’t overlook the DB positions either, there are always some available here that nobody expected.

What I think NYG will do:

Bryan Stork – C/Florida State

In what I think NYG will do, this is their second offensive line pick. I think they will look to acquire two players along that line this weekend. Stork is a good athlete in space but showed some impressive power presence against his bigger, tougher opponents. He could definitely come in right away and compete for a center job that appears to be up for grabs. Stork is an NYG type player when it comes to his blue collar approach and consistent level of play. Likely deemed for backup duty, Stork could be the security blanket should Walton not bounce back.

What I think NYG should do:

Jordan Zumwalt – LB/UCLA

Overlooked prospect that would fit the NYG scheme perfectly, Zumwalt was one of the most underrated defenders in the country last year. Physically I love what he brings to the table. There is a good amount of speed and quickness to him in space, but he plays a power game between the tackles. Zumwalt is an old school tough guy that will try to beat guys up. He showed good diagnosing ability and he can cover up the seam while chasing tight ends and backs in pass defense. I think he is going to be a starter down the road.

ROUND 6

The final picks of the draft may not get as much attention from fans as the early selections, but you need to consider it just as important. There are going to be plenty of guys here that will make an impact in the coming years. These can be an experimental picks on an athletes with impressive tools, or it can be a guy that lacks the tool set but was a productive player in college. I just want these pick to be guys that you know will come in with a chip on their shoulders trying to make this team and open up some eyes. I don’t want character concerns here.

Ahmad Dixon – S/Baylor

NYG will be looking to add an athletic safety at some point and even though I’m not high on him, Dixon has ability that could put him in to a contributing role right away. He is really aggressive and physical, showing the consistent ability to close gaps and finish off a ball carrier. He struggled to make good, quick decisions though. He doesn’t read the action around him and was often caught out of position. I think it takes time for him to learn the mental side of the game but I think Reese will see some Will Hill in him when it comes to the ability to fly around and create opportunities for the defense as a whole.

What I think NYG should do:

Marcel Jensen – TE/Fresno State

I’ve spoken about Jensen a few times here. I think he has more upside of any TE in this class outside of Niklas because of the size/speed/power presence combination. He stood out in every Fresno State game I watched. He doesn’t dominate at the point of attack the way someone as big as him should, but the approach is there. He isn’t a soft player, I just think the scheme did not give him the opportunity to develop his blocking ability as much. The NYG TE situation is as bad as its been in awhile and I don’t think the solution is on the current roster. I think this would be a good opportunity for Jensen to come in to and show what he’s got over the next 2-3 seasons.

ROUND 6 (2)

The final pick of the draft may not get as much attention from fans as the early selections, but you need to consider it just as important. There are going to be plenty of guys here that will make an impact in the coming years. This can be an experimental pick on an athlete with impressive tools, or it can be a guy that lacks the tool set but was a productive player in college. I just want this pick to be a guy that you know will come in with a chip on his shoulder trying to make this team and open up some eyes. I don’t want character concerns here.

What I think NYG will do:

Carlos Fields, Jr – LB/Winston-Salem State

Division II player that was a two time conference player of the year. Fields is a violent player that I think the NYG coaching staff thinks they need. There has been a lack of physical, tough play for awhile and I truly think that’s been one of the major downfalls here. Fields has the frame and natural presence to play the strong side down the road. But he can really move as well and may end up being a guy to fill the weak side if need be. Initially he could be a force on special teams which we all know is necessary at this point.

What I think NYG should do:

Travis Carrie – CB/Ohio

Personally, Carrie is my favorite sleeper from a small school in this entire draft class. I’ve seen him play enough to know he can move well enough to play CB at the next level. He can play in any scheme that wants a physical corner, which is where I see most schemes heading if not already there. Carrie is a top-notch intangible type prospect that does all the little things right. He will be a dependable young player that will take the necessary steps to evolve in to an NFL-quality player. I think the talent is a hidden gem here and I would love to see what he can do for NYG.

In short, here are the pre-draft comparisons

What I think WILL happen

1 – Zack Martin – OT/Notre Dame

2 – Cody Latimer – WR/Indiana

3 – CJ Fiedorowicz – TE/Iowa

4 – Anthony Johnson – DT/LSU

5 – Bryan Stork – C/Florida State

6 – Ahmad Dixon – S/Baylor

6 – Carlos Fields, Jr – LB/Winston-Salem State

What I think SHOULD happen

1 – Aaron Donald – DT/Pittsburgh

2 – Joel Bitonio – OT/Nevada

3 – Montavious Bryant – WR/Clemson

4 – Travis Swanson – C/Arkansas

5 – Jordan Zumwalt – LB/UCLA

6 – Marcel Jensen – TE/Fresno State

6 – Travis Carrie – CB/Ohio

There you have it guys….thanks again for contributing to the discussions and I look forward to recapping the mayhem in the coming weeks!

May 062014
 
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Derek Carr, Fresno State Bulldogs (December 21, 2013)

Derek Carr – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2014 NFL Draft Preview: Quarterbacks

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

**NOTE** – I altered the format for the QBs.  I don’t see NYG going after one here unless a tremendous value drops to one of their final picks.  I am going to offer a few thoughts on all of my top 10 guys.

Current Quarterbacks on NYG Roster:

Eli Manning – 33 – Signed through 2015

Curtis Painter – 29 – Signed through 2014

Josh Freeman – 26 – Signed through 2014

Ryan Nassib – 24 – Signed through 2016

Rusty Smith – 27 – Signed through 2015

Where They Stand:

There is already a lot of in-house competition for the backup QB spots and it should be a good one to watch.  NYG has guys coming from a bunch of different walks here and at least two of the names above won’t be around come September.  Manning had one of his worst seasons to date in 2013.  By no means does he appear to be done or on the downfall, but one can’t help but be somewhat alarmed.  He consistently made poor decisions with the ball in his hands and no matter how bad the situation around him, an 18:27 TD/INT ratio is simply awful and unacceptable.  The upgrade in OL talent will help and I think the new scheme will breathe new life in to what was a stagnant offense, however.  A replacement for Manning is not needed quite yet but the thought has to be in the back of your mind after watching last season and knowing about a somewhat serious ankle injury that seems to be lingering.  Painter is a below average backup that hasn’t shown anything on game tape that would hand him the backup job.  He’ll have to compete with the newly signed Freeman.  Freeman isn’t far removed from being considered one of the top young signal callers in the league.  Youth and an impressive tool set are still on his side and I look forward to seeing what he can do in a much better surrounding situation with NYG.  Nassib received a pass for his rookie campaign and I can’t say we know enough to make a legit analysis of him.  A lot of his evaluation comes from practice and what he does by himself between practices.  He should have the #3 spot locked down barring a major letdown throughout preseason.  Smith is a training camp body that won’t factor in to the team’s plans from what I can see.

Top 10 Grades:

1 – Derek Carr – Fresno State – 6’2/214: 82

I love the poise, toughness, and accuracy of Carr.  He has it all between the ears and in a QB class full of prospects with huge question marks when it comes to the intangibles and/or durability, I’m taking Carr above all.  He has the arm talent, he can move well, and he knows the game as well if not better than everyone on this group.  Carr is the kind of guy you trust to lead a team on and off the field.  He elevates others to another level.

2 – Johnny Manziel – Texas A&M – 6’0/207: 81

Love the excitement and danger-factor he brings to every play of every game.  He is more than a scrambler, he is a true playmaker with elite movement in short areas.  My issues with him mainly revolve around his style of play that doesn’t exactly fit with his frame.  Can he play 16 games every year?  Not if he plays like he did in college because he’s no longer taking hits from college kids.  These are angry, aggressive men that will aim to take him out of a ball game.  That combined with questionable maturity prevents him from having a top 10 overall grade on my board.  I have to admit the upside here is intriguing and if I were a team in need of a QB, he would be really hard to pass on.

3 – Blake Bortles – Central Florida – 6’5/232: 75

Bortles has it all minus the big time arm when considering tool sets and upside.  I love how he can move in and out of the pocket.  He’s a big boy but he can really move in a similar way to what we saw out of Big Ben in 2004.  Does he have the arm power though?  I don’t see it.  He doesn’t throw the ball as well as I want when going beyond 20 yards either.  The quick decisions aren’t there as often as they should be and I think there is a lot more progression needed here than most are saying.  I wouldn’t take him in round 1.  There isn’t a big gap between him and the rest of the class.

4 – Aaron Murray – Georgia – 6’1/207: 74

I never liked Murray in college up until this past season.  I think he’s as tough as it gets both mentally and physically.  He has a quick release that is accurate with some underrated power.  Murray is coming off the torn up knee and if that weren’t the case I would have had him above Bortles.  He played at a really high level against his best competition and was rarely the reason they lost some big games.  He was the one that kept them in it despite an awful offensive line and banged up skill position group.  I trust him.

5 – Teddy Bridgewater – Louisville – 6’2/214: 73

I’ve never been high on Bridgewater.  Not so long ago everyone was pointing to him as the top overall guy in this class and I disputed it from the beginning.  Now he may not even go in round 1 despite a handful of teams really needing a franchise QB.  I think he has good intangibles with very good accuracy and average arm strength.  I never liked his throwing motion though.  I also question his ability to take hits in the NFL, he just looks frail to me.  I see a decent amount of comparisons to Sam Bradford here.  He is a 3rd/4th rounder in my books but he’ll go earlier.

6 – Zach Mettenberger – LSU – 6’5/224: 73

There are some off the field things that need to be looked in to with him and he is coming off a knee injury.  But when it comes to throwing talent, Mettenberger might be the top guy in this class.  He has a lot of zip on his short and intermediate passes but he can also rifle the ball downfield with ease.  He showed quicker decision making in 2013 and I think the upside is legit.  He would be a top 45 overall guy  if there wasn’t an injury in the picture and his off-field investigating checked out OK.  Reliable backup that I think will be in demand to start somewhere within a few years.

7 – Jimmy Garoppolo – Eastern Illinois – 6’2/226: 73

I only saw Garoppolo three times, which is about 3 less than I ideally get to watch when it comes to QBs.  With that said, I think he can be a Matt Moore type.  A guy who could be one of the top backups in the league but won’t ever be THE guy for a winning team.  That’s fine if you are taking him on day three as early as round 4 in my book.  Backup QBs have more value than most fans think.  I would trust him as mine.

8 – Tom Savage – Pittsburgh – 6’4/228: 72

Yes, a very good thrower with a nice release and powerful frame that can handle the physical side of the game.  I want to like Savage a lot.  I talked about him last August as a guy who could break in to the first round but I was disappointed in 2013.  He was woefully inconsistent and made some of the worst throws I saw all year out of this group.  Such volatile QBs like this are guys I simply will stay away from unless you are talking about day three.  At that point you can take a flier on him and hope for the best.

9 – AJ McCarron – Alabama – 6’3/220: 72

I’ve always appreciated the way McCarron handled himself at Alabama.  That position at that school during this era had more pressure than some of the NFL programs.  McCarron has some deep ball ability to him and can make safe, sound, quick decisions quickly.  That’s a good combination for a QB to start with in this league.  He may be destined for backup duty his whole career but that’s more than OK with me if we are talking day three.

10 – Jeff Mathews – Cornell – 6’4/223: 72

I am as intrigued as someone can be after watching a QB play three times when it comes to Mathews.  I think he has a big time arm with legit toughness and presence in the pocket.  Mathews is really good at the mental side of the game and will bring other players to another level.  There is a lot of progression that needs to be made with footwork and consistent arm angles, but there is upside here.  He could end up being a top 5 QB from this class and he can be had late day three from what I see.

NYG Approach:

Fans need to realize that they should never say never when it comes time to project what a team will do in the draft.  Anything is possible and that is where the debate ends.  With that said, I don’t think they will take a QB in this draft.  Nassib deserves another year or two to prove his future worth via practice and preseason.  In addition to him, NYG has two veterans battling it out for the spot behind Manning.  They appear to be set for 2014 but if there is a big time value available late day three, it may be worth going after.  I think Manning has a few good enough year left in him but you need to be prepared for the worst.  Having too many quality QBs is a GREAT problem to have.

May 042014
 
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Bishop Sankey, Washington Huskies (December 27, 2013)

Bishop Sankey – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2014 NFL Draft Preview: Running Backs

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

Current Running Backs on NYG Roster:

Rashad Jennings – 29 – Signed through 2017

David Wilson – 23 – Signed through 2015

Peyton Hillis – 28 – Signed through 2015

Michael Cox – 26 – Signed through 2016

Kendall Gaskins – 24 – Signed through 2015

Where They Stand:

It’s been awhile since NYG has had a deep backfield filled with players that were legit 1,000+ yard caliber backs. While they never were centered around the running game, Coughlin always took pride in being able to control the clock with a reliable power rushing attack. This group really struggled last year. The offensive line took most of the blame but there simply wasn’t a guy that could handle the ball 20+ times per game. Jennings was brought in to provide the offense with an every down guy; one that can run between the tackles, beat defenders to the sideline, and catch the ball on the move. While he is older, Jennings has not spent much time as a feature back. He has a few good years left in him. Wilson continues to be the unknown. There is still legit hope that he can provide the big play ability. His issues with vision, ball security, and now a neck injury have slowed down his progress but there is still hope. He has an elite level of speed, agility, and explosion to work with. Hillis surprised many of us last year with an above average performance. He is a solid between the tackle runner that plays the game hard. Cox was given a few opportunities in 2013 but failed to show any big time upside. He’ll have to perform this offseason if a rookie is brought in if he plans on being in blue the whole year. Gaskins is a training camp body that doesn’t stand out in any one area of the game.

Top 10 Grades:

1 – Tre Mason – Auburn – 5’9/207: 81

2 – Bishop Sankey – Washington – 5’10/209: 79

3 – Carlos Hyde – Ohio State – 6’0/230: 76

4 – Jerick McKinnon – Georgia Southern – 5’9/209: 76

5 – Storm Johnson – Central Florida – 6’0/209: 76

6 – Jeremy Hill – LSU – 6’1/233: 75

7 – Ka’Deem Carey – Arizona – 5’9/207: 75

8 – Andre Williams – Boston College – 5’11/230: 73

9 – Tim Cornett – UNLV – 6’0/209: 73

10 – LaDarius Perkins – Mississippi State – 5’7/195: 72

Day One Target:

Tre Mason – Auburn

By no means do I think NYG should go after a RB in round 1 but for the sake of this preview, I’ll discuss Mason. I think Mason has the ideal frame/body to handle a full load of carries in the NFL. He is really strong and powerful below the waist with really good agility and flexibility. He played in a very run-oriented offense at Auburn which led to big time production on the stat sheet. That isn’t why I like him, however. Mason rarely goes down on initial contact and he can avoid big hits with late movement. He lacks the runaway speed but he is so quick out of the gate and can locate running lanes right away. He is the kind of reliable back you want in your backfield. I think he can be a better back than NYG has had since Barber.

Runner Up: NONE

Day Two Target:

Bishop Sankey – Washington

Sankey is a day back that I really like. I think he is a Barber-type back that looks a tad undersized and may not time out to be the most athletic player, but has the ability to make things happen all over the field. He shows outstanding vision on tape and is constantly making the right decisions. NYG will love his ability to block. He takes a lot of pride in it and was certainly a factor at Washington there. Sankey has every down potential and could be a guy that sneaks his way to the top level of NFL running backs within a few years.

Runner Up: Storm Johnson – Central Florida

I’ve spent a lot of time watching the UCF offense over the past 6 weeks and Johnson stood out to me just as much as Bortles did. There are some vital inconsistencies to his game but he showed big time ability every now and then. I like his running style because he’ll try to run through linebackers but also dance around defensive backs. I think he is a guy that can do it all but just needs to work on consistent pad level and leg drive. I have him graded higher than what I see out there, this grabbing him in round 3 would be a solid value pick.

Day Three Target:

Jerick McKinnon – Georgia Southern

The first time I saw McKinnon was against the Florida defense, a formidable SEC unit with a lot of talent. McKinnon appeared to be the best player on the field by a fairly wide margin. His short area explosion and runaway speed were obvious. McKinnon is powerfully built and he plays even stronger than he looks. If I had to make a list of 3 small school prospects that will make an impact in the NFL, McKinnon would be on it. If I can get him on day three, I would do it in a heartbeat.

Runner Up: Tim Cornett – UNLV

Cornett brings a high level of speed and explosion to the offense that translates well to the next level. He isn’t just a burner that needs the open field. He has an aggressive, almost reckless style to his game that I love to see out of young backs. He makes decisive cuts towards the running lane and can lower his shoulder with balance and power in to defenders. He isn’t a fun guy to play against. The UNLV all time leading rusher can be a factor at the next level as long as his body can hold up with his physical style.

NYG Approach:

There are a lot of holes on the NYG roster and I can’t see anyone coming up with the idea that it is near the top of the priority list. They have enough talent and diversity in their current group to get through the next couple of seasons. If they didn’t address the position, I wouldn’t have any problem with it. With that said, I think there is going to be some enormous opportunity for a value grab on day three. This RB class is actually pretty deep but the demand across the league is lower than its been in awhile. With that in mind, I would make it a point to see what is available at the position in round 6 and scoop someone up. While the confidence is there with the current NYG group, there is room for one more pair of fresh legs with the upside of one day being an steady contributor.

Apr 282014
 
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Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt Commodores (October 5, 2013)

Jordan Matthews – © USA TODAY Sports Images

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*NOTE: I lengthened and changed the format of this piece for a few reasons….mainly because this is the deepest WR group I’ve ever seen and NYG needs to bring someone in at the position. There are so many directions they can go with this talented, deep group. A few of you have requested this, and here you go….

Current Wide Receivers on NYG Roster:

Victor Cruz – 28 – Signed through 2018

Rueben Randle – 23 – Signed through 2015

Jerrel Jernigan – 25 – Signed through 2014

Mario Manningham – 28 – Signed through 2014

Trindon Holliday – 28 – Signed through 2014

Julian Talley – 25 – Signed through 2015

Marcus Harris – 25 – Signed through 2015

Kris Adams – 27 – Signed through 2014

Preston Parker – 27 – Signed through 2015

Travis Harvey – 24 – Signed through 2014

Where They Stand:

The loss of Hakeem Nicks to free agency was something I personally didn’t even give a second thought to. He underachieved for the past two seasons and his weekly approach wasn’t something you want on a winning team, plain and simple. With his departure opens up a spot for a lot of targets in the passing game. There are in-house options in Randle and Jernigan, both of whom have at least shown flashes of being productive. They are battle tested to an extent and they will receive the opportunity to be go-to guys for Manning. The signing of Manningham is a hopeful shot in the dark that he could rekindle his level of play now that he is back in a familiar setting. Holliday is almost completely a return specialist that may see some action for trick plays. Beyond that, the rest of those names are bodies for training camp. Could one of them break through and be part of the rotation? Sure. I actually like Talley and/or Parker to potentially make this team. While there are worse groups of WRs in the league, I’m not overly confident that these guys are going to scare anyone. There isn’t a real speed/deep threat, nor is there a guy that will win one-on-one battles against quality corners outside of Cruz. They could really use someone for the outside that can get downfield and catch the ball in traffic.

Top 20 Grades

1 – Sammy Watkins – Clemson – 6’1/211: 85

2 – Jordan Matthews – Vanderbilt – 6’3/212: 85

3 – Brandin Cooks – Oregon State – 5’10/189: 83

4 – Odell Beckham – LSU – 5’11/198: 81

5 – Corey Latimer – Indiana – 6’3/215: 79

6 – Martavis Bryant – Clemson – 6’4/211: 79

7 – Mike Evans – Texas A&M – 6’5/231: 78

8 – Marqise Lee – USC – 6’0/192: 78

9 – Kevin Norwood – Alabama – 6’2/198: 77

10 – DaVante Adams – Fresno State – 6’1/212” 75

11 – Josh Huff – Oregon – 5’11/206: 75

12 – Robert Herron – Wyoming – 5’9/193: 75

13 – Jarvis Landry – LSU – 6’0/205: 75

14 – Jared Abbrederis – Wisconsin – 6’1/195: 74

15 – Bruce Ellington – South Carolina – 5’9/197: 74

16 – Allen Robinson – Penn State – 6’3/220: 74

17 – Kelvin Benjamin – Florida State – 6’5/240: 73

18 – Devin Street – Pittsburgh – 6’3/198: 73

19 – Jeremy Gallon – Michigan – 5’8/185: 73

20 – Damian Copeland – Louisville – 5’11/184: 73

Day One Target:

Sammy Watkins – Clemson (85)

Watkins is widely considered the top WR in this draft. He is an explosive playmaker with tremendous ability once he gets the ball in his hands. There isn’t an elite, blue chip receiver in this class but Watkins is pretty close. He lacks the ideal size you look for in a number one guy, but he can’t be considered small by any means. What I like most here is the ability to make things happen after the catch. He looks and moves like a running back, breaking tackles and finding the cutback lanes to gain extra yards. While I would bet he’ll end up in the top 5 overall, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him slip a bit. This WR group is so strong and deep which could force teams in to attacking their other needs at the top of the draft. Trading up for Watkins from the #12 slot may be over-aggressive, but he may be worth sending a day three pick over to someone if he falls near the #10 slot.

Runner Up: Jordan Matthews – Vanderbilt (85)

I actually started off cold on Matthews, thinking he was a product of easy statistics via a friendly offensive scheme. But the more I watched, the more tools I saw to work with. Matthews has the height and length to go with a thick, strong frame that leads me to believe he’ll be one of the more physical receivers in the game. He too plays with the aggressive style that will make defensive backs alter their game. Matthews is an outstanding route runner that can get himself open no matter where on the route tree he is placed. I love the short area burst and ability to change direction. I realize I have a higher grade on Matthews than most, but I think we are talking about a first round pick here that has a high floor/high ceiling type status. His game will translate very well to the next level.

Runner up #2: Brandin Cooks – Oregon State (83)

I’ve been calling Cooks a first rounder since last September. He was better than Markus Wheaton in 2012 and after a year of gaining some weight while maintaining his elite movement ability, Cooks performed his way in to potential top 15 talk. If you liked Tavon Austin last year, you have to see the high ceiling in Cooks. Where he fits with NYG is the only question, though. I think he works best out of the slot, where Cruz and Jernigan will be playing. He has some very accomplished tape playing on the outside, however. He can run by anyone and he’s a big time competitor in traffic. He’ll come down with more balls than you think. Simply put, the NYG offense needs more athletes that can run themselves open, giving Manning space to work with. There may not be a better WR in this class at doing it than Cooks.

Day Two Target:

Corey Latimer – Indiana (79)

Latimer caught my eye the first time I watched Indiana in October. His size and movement ability are easy to notice, as he can run away from some defensive backs but bull over others. He is a matchup problem for a lot of defenses. In addition, Latimer does a lot of the little things right. He sees the ball in to his hands, rarely using his body to bring the ball in. He runs crisp routes and understands how to use the field to his advantage. Often I would see Latimer be the guy to come to the rescue on broken plays, working towards his quarterback and finding the vacant areas of a defense. On top of all that, Latimer is a high-effort blocker. He is a borderline first round talent that can be had on day two, perhaps even in round 3.

Runner Up: Montavious Bryant – Clemson (79)

Bryant is a high risk/high reward prospect that I gave a really high grade to considering that kind of status. I think he was overshadowed the past two seasons at Clemson because of Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins. Those two were outstanding receivers for the Tigers, but Bryant may be the best pro of them all. His height and length are assets that every QB wants to have to work with when throwing their receivers the ball. Bryant is a much better mover in space and in short areas than you would think. There is some legit explosion to this kid and I think he could be a big time downfield threat in the league. NYG could really use a receiver like this on the outside. I think there are some raw parts to his game, thus it might take some extra time for him to evolve in to am every down threat. But would be a great value grab in round 3.

Marquis Lee – USC (78)

I’m not sure where to put Lee in relation to where he will actually be drafted. I think he can be a first rounder, but he had a rough 2013 injury-wise and a lot of people will question how well his frame can hold up in the NFL. That said, there is some hidden value here. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him being the top WR in this class a few years from now. Lee is as explosive as you’ll find in the open field. He is smart, tough, and savvy. He can wear a few hats in the passing game, making him a guy that can exploit matchup problems against every defense in the league. A quality offensive scheme can get him 100+ receptions every year if he can stay on the field. Let’s not forget what he did in 2012 as a WR and return man.

Day Three Target:

Kevin Norwood – Alabama (77)

This kid could be one of the top draft weekend steals because of where you can get him. I wouldn’t classify Norwood as an elite receiver by any means, but a lot of people don’t give him credit for what he is. He is a big, physical receiver that runs great routes and will come down with a lot of balls in traffic. The Alabama offense is so stacked with young receivers and running backs to a point where Norwood was almost being forgotten about. I think his game translates very well to the next level, especially for a team that needs someone for the outside.

Runner Up: Josh Huff – Oregon (75)

It can be easy to lose track of Huff when watching the Oregon offense. That unit was so strong and so diverse with a lot of individual star power. But if you watched closely, Huff was one of the more reliable and consistent parts to that group. He doesn’t have the elite size, nor will be blaze by anyone. But Huff is tougher than nails and can do a lot of the little things for an offense. He somewhat reminds be of a young, undrafted Victor Cruz. He has the short area burst the separate himself from defensive backs and he’ll catch anything near his body. After the catch, Huff has a elite burst and quickness. I think he can be had mid-day 3 and considering everything he can do for a team, that’s a steal.

Jared Abbrederis – Wisconsin (74)

Abbrederis broke out a couple seasons ago when he was the go-to guy for Russell Wilson. He evolved in to a deep threat for him that made a lot of big plays. What intrigues me the most here however, is the ability to get open and consistently catch the ball whenever his hands can get to it. He may have some of the best hands in the draft. His routes are always clean and crisp and there is some underrated movement ability here. His performance against Bradley Roby (Ohio State) was one of the best ones I saw all year. He abused him all over the field despite having less physical ability. I think you are talking about a limited upside prospect here, but one that will be dependable. Sometimes that’s all you need.

Most Overrated:

Donte Moncrief: Ole Miss (72)

I want to like a WR like Moncrief because of the size and timed speed, but I just can’t get past the lack of ability to get himself open. Moncrief is a poor route runner that takes too long to change direction. The weaknesses in his game are the ones I don’t want to see when scouting receivers. He has trouble locating the ball when running downfield with a defensive back, and he won’t run away from anybody on game day. The size and after-the-catch toughness are intriguing, which is mainly why he still earned a 3rd/4th round grade from me. But round 2 is where I see most projecting him, and I just don’t see it.

Runner Up: Kelvin Benjamin – Florida State (73)

I spoke highly of Benjamin throughout the fall. I even labeled him a potential top 15 pick after watching him in passing. He makes some of the most difficult catches you’ll ever see and there is some ability with the ball in his hands that has to intrigue you. But on closer examination, Benjamin does a lot of little things wrong. His route tree was so limited at FSU and his quick-twitch just isn’t there when trying to get open. Now, a receiver his size doesn’t need to excel at running himself open which is why he still earned a late 3rd/4th grade. I can see and understand the upside, but Benjamin seems to be one of those one-trick ponies that someone will overdraft based on upside. Receivers like this exist in every draft and they rarely work out. I always prefer speed/agility/smarts over size and length. There is more to the position that jump balls in the red zone.

NYG Approach

I am very interested to see how NYG will handle this position in the draft. There isn’t a right or wrong way, so let me get that out there. Part of me says, wait a couple rounds because with such a deep group, it’s almost a sure thing that a great value will be around in the middle rounds, allowing them to address other areas with their high picks. The other part of me would really struggle to pass on a Watkins, Matthews, or Cooks. This offense has lost it’s big play ability and there isn’t anyone outside of Cruz that will scare the defense. The quickest way to change that is bringing in a WR that can torch a defense all over field; short, intermediate, and deep. I wouldn’t go in to the weekend restricting myself to taking a WR early, or ignoring the position early. Let the board play out and see what happens. But I would say one of these top 10-15 WRs needs to be brought in. The opportunity will be there.

Apr 232014
 
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Kony Ealy, Missouri Tigers (January 3, 2014)

Kony Ealy – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2014 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Ends

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*DISCLAIMER: These are Defensive End grades/rankings for the NYG 4-3 scheme. Barr and Mack are NOT included, as I have put them in my LB preview.

Current Defensive Ends on NYG Roster:

Jason Pierre-Paul – 25 – Signed through 2015

Mathias Kiwanuka – 31 – Signed through 2015

Damontre Moore – 21 – Signed through 2016

Robert Ayers – 29 – Signed through 2015

Kendrick Adams – 26 – Signed through 2015

Where They Stand:

Long gone are the days of NYG defensive ends wrecking havoc on opposing offenses week in, week out. 2013 was a rough year for this group and their leading sack artist (Justin Tuck) is no longer a part of it. The five players listed above combined for 11.5 sacks last season (Adams did not play in any games) and they are going to be counted on to all reverse their production in the right direction. Pierre-Paul may get a little pass because of his back injury that certainly lingered and prohibited him from ever playing at 100%. His talent and upside are still up there. Kiwanuka and Ayers are reliable veterans that play a physical style, but won’t scare anyone off the edge. They don’t have the explosion and neither will demand double teams. Moore could be the wildcard here. His combination of youth and tools will get him the chance to make consistent contributions to this defense. Can he handle the physical side of the game well enough? We’ll find out. He could be the guy that makes this group as a whole much better. These five guys can get the job done but as I said earlier, they are nowhere near the echelon of domination NYG fans were watching just a few years ago.

Top 10 Grades:

1 – JaDeveon Clowney – South Carolina – 6’5/266: 93

2 – Kony Ealy – Missouri – 6’4/273: 80

3 – Aaron Lynch – South Florida – 6’5/249: 76

4 – Will Clarke – West Virginia – 6’6/271: 76

5 – Marcus Smith – Louisville – 6’3/251: 76

6 – Jeremiah Attaochu – Georgia Tech – 6’5/252: 75

7 – Trent Murphy – Stanford – 6’5/250: 74

8 – Adrian Hubbard – Alabama – 6’6/257: 74

9 – Dee Ford – Auburn – 6’2/252: 70

10 – Kareem Martin – North Carolina – 6’6/272: 70

Day One Target:

JaDeveon Clowney – South Carolina

I don’t think there is any DE worthy of taking in round one other than Clowney, although I understand this is completely unrealistic, I didn’t want to leave this blank. Clowney is one of a few prospects that I would make an aggressive trade up for. However the price for NYG to move up in to the top 5, let alone top 3, will likely be astronomical and likely counterproductive. That said, if he somehow slips to the 6-8 area, I would make an aggressive move up for him. He is a once-in-a-generation type talent that could be one of the top defenders in the NFL within two years. NYG could really use a guy like this but I am fully aware the chances of this happening are almost zero.

Runner Up: Kony Ealy – Missouri

Ealy is a borderline first rounder on my board and even that may be a bit high. His grade is based purely on upside because of his size and movement ability. He looked raw in a lot of games I saw. Just unaware of the action around him and showed inability to get off blocks effectively. He is a top-notch kid though with some tools to work with and he plays really hard. I think he can mold himself in to a fine player.

Day Two Target:

Will Clarke – West Virginia

Clarke comes from a different kind of scheme but I think he is a guy that moves well enough to play DE in this scheme. He doesn’t have the elite burst but he does have short area quickness and he plays a physical brand. Clarke consistently showed the ability to get off blocks and make plays. His size appears to be NFL ready and I think he gives NYG a better version of what they have in Kiwanuka right away. If he can be had in the third round, you are talking about a big time value grab.

Runner Up: Marcus Smith – Louisville

I have a higher grade on Smith than most do. His lack of height and length hurt his grade a bit, but this versatile pass rusher plays fast and strong. He is a tough guy to block because of his relentless pursuit and incredibly strong and balanced lower half. I think he’ll prove to be a consistent 7-9 sack per year guy that also defends the run.

Day Three Target:

Aaron Lynch – South Florida

Lynch may be one of the most polarizing prospects in this entire class. Talent wise, he may be the number two guy in this class. He can make some impressive plays in a variety of ways, using his short area burst and length to gain an advantage over the blocker. When he plays hard and focused, he can change a game by himself. Not many defensive ends can say that in college. His issues off the field downgraded him quite a bit, but his potential is too high to pass on throughout day three. He is a year or two away from playing with dominant ability in the league much like Greg Hardy from the Panthers.

Runner Up: Adrian Hubbard – Alabama

Hubbard played a hybrid rush linebacker role but I have always seen him as a potential DE in a traditional 4-3 scheme. He can explode off the edge and play a low, strong game using his length and power to keep blockers from locking on to him. He could take an extra year or two to get acclimated to the position, but that’s ok for NYG. They have enough on depth chart to allow a player to develop properly.

Most Overrated:

Scott Crichton – Oregon State (63)

I’ve watched and re-watched a few Oregon State games and I still don’t see what there is to like about Crichton. He plays hard but he doesn’t make the impact I want out of a DE. He can’t get off the good blockers and he won’t burst by anybody. Crichton is an average player across the board that you can find in the later rounds, if not undrafted free agency. By no means do I think he should be a day 2 pick.

Runner Up: Kareem Martin

The height, length and workout numbers have led some to believe that Martin is the perfect prospect for a team looking for a 4-3 DE. But when you really watch him, you see a guy that struggles to read the action and react. He is a slower mover on the field than you think and he won’t push anyone around. Martin really struggles to make a physical impact on the game and I think he’s a guy that will be doomed for permanent backup duty. Don’t spend a day two pick on that.

NYG Approach:

One look at the current depth chart and one could make the statement that bringing in a new DE to the group is not high on the priority list. I can understand that opinion but lets not forget just how valuable the abundance of pass rushing talent is for a team. That was such a major factor in the Giants past two Super Bowls. This DE class as a whole doesn’t impress me at all outside of the Clowney. A lot of these guys have a lot of potential bust factor to them. Some have glaring size issues and others simply don’t have the speed and/or quick movement ability. With that said, there will be some opportunity to bring in a guy between rounds 3-5 that present good enough value. Defensive End is NOT a position where you want to be thin on the depth chart. It can end up breaking a defense. Without a sense of urgency, NYG can be patient here but somewhere in the draft I think one of these guys should be brought in.