Dec 302016
 
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Dalvin Cook, Florida State Seminoles (November 19, 2016)

Dalvin Cook – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2017 NFL Draft Prospects: December 30, 2016 Bowl Games

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

GEORGIA

#73 OT Greg Pyke – 6’6/323

Fifth year senior, three year starter. Has been one of the best SEC linemen over this past three year span. Very solid all around player who could project inside or outside. He needs to get stronger before he can be thrown out there in the NFL trenches. Doesn’t use his lower body enough and his punch is average at best. He can develop in to a nice, versatile backup in time. 5th/6th rounder.

Other Notables:

#54 C Brandon Kublanow 6’3/293

TCU

#66 OT Aviante Collins – 6’6/295

Fifth year senior who missed 2015 with an injury. Started at left tackle in 2012 as a true freshman and put himself on the radar, making a few Freshman All American teams. Since then, Collins has been in and out of the starting line up for a variety of reasons. He just hasn’t been on a steady incline when it comes to his progression, but his solid 2016 season has put some hope back in his tank. He has exceptional foot speed and quick hips. Very good frame that will handle more weight. Upside-wise, I think Collins is a late rounder who can be a starter when all is said and done.

#94 DE Josh Carraway – 6’4/255

Fifth year senior that broke out in 2015, earning 1st Team All Big 12 honors after finishing with 9 sacks. He added another 8 this season and shows attractive traits to his game. He can shoot out of his stance with good leverage and strong hands. Has shown progression as a versatile pass rusher, showing moves inside and outside. As of now he is a one-dimensional guy who struggles to defend the run with consistency. His ability against the pass with attractive tools will likely get him looked at in round 3 or 4.

#30 S Denzel Johnson -6’2/210

Fourth year senior, two year starter. Plays a hybrid S/LB type role. Very physical guy who can shoot downhill like a missile and make an impact at and behind the line of scrimmage. Has had 24.5 TFL for over the past two seasons. Covers a lot of tight ends and backs out of the backfield. I don’t think you can trust him against WRs in space, but he could be a valuable nickel/dime defender if you want a guy who can defend the run well just in case. Nice measureables. I see a 5th/6th rounder.

Other Notables

#40 James McFarland – 6’2/250

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STANFORD

#57 OG Johnny Caspers – 6’4/296

Fifth year senior and three year starter at RG. Lacks the ideal size, length, and power but Caspers is a mechanically sound, consistent player. He is very good on the move and could be very attractive to teams that run a zone blocking scheme. I question his ability to hold up by himself against bigger, more physical DTs. He could be a guy who moves to center in the NFL. I like him, just don’t love him. Early day 3 guy.

#3 WR Michael Rector – 6’1/190

Fifth year senior. Has some of the best speed among the WRs in this class. Long limbs, big hands. He is a guy who I’ve wanted to see more of and every time I did, I kept on wanting to see more. His upside is very high because he can outrun anyone. His issue is that he appears to be a much better athlete than he is a football player. He doesn’t run crisp routes and he can be jostled at the line by physical corners. He will get drafted by someone who sees a Ted Ginn type potential. Day three guy.

*#90 DE Solomon Thomas – 6’3/276

Third year junior. Was a top tier recruit out of high school and this season he started to show what he can be. Thomas is a kid with man’s strength already. Very powerful dude who will stifle blockers and drive ball carries through the ground. He may be the most versatile defensive lineman in this class, as he splits time lined up over interior blockers and outside the tackles. If he is used correctly at the next level, he is matchup nightmare depending on situations no matter where he is. He can be moved around and his impact is almost always the same. Very interested to see where this guy ends up. Potentially a top 10 guy.

Other Notables

#6 WR Francis Owusu – 6’3/219
#29 Dallas Lloyd – 6’3/213

NORTH CAROLINA

#3 WR Ryan Switzer – 5’10/185

Fourth year senior. Has led the Tar Heels in receptions 3 of his 4 years with the team. Has a shot to be the top slot receiver in this class with his combination of agility and awareness of the defense. He is the QB’s best friend type who will find the holes and lanes in coverage. He won’t burn anyone deep but he is effective after the catch and can always find the extra yards. Likely a 3rd/4th rounder.

#71 OT Jon Heck – 6’7/300

Fifth year senior and four year starter. Has missed some time here and there with various injuries, none of which were overly serious. Really tall and long frame who needs more bulk. Can play the game with his hands. Very long reach and strong enough hands to lock on to defenders. Just doesn’t use his lower body enough because he doesn’t bend well and he lacks power. He is a developmental, backup type. 5th-6th rounder at best.

#84 WR Bug Howard – 6’5/210

Fourth year senior who has been steadily contributing to the offense from the beginning of his career. Big time height/weight/speed guy who can make tough catches in traffic. Adjusts to the ball well. Will get behind a defense and beat one on one defenders downfield. Upside-based pick here who needs to refine his skill set all the way through. 6th/7th rounder.

#8 RB TJ Logan -5’10/190

Fourth year senior. Never been the go to guy in the backfield but he’s been a steady presence as a pass catcher and big play threat. Logan is explosive and fast. His 4 career kick return TDs will give him another look from most teams. He can bring up the rear of a RB depth chart and still add value as a pass catcher and return specialist. Late rounder.

Other Notables:

#68 C Lucas Crowley – 6’3/286

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NEBRASKA

#11 TE Cethan Carter – 6’4/244

Fourth year senior. Doesn’t have a ton of production to his name but I think part of that was the system he was in. Carter is an every down player who probably grades out better as a blocker than receiver. But again, I think he could have easily produced more in a different situation, much more. He is put together well and should be ready for the NFL very early on in his career for a guy who can be had on day 3 .

#25 S Nathan Gerry – 6’2/220

Fourth year senior who has been an important piece to that defense from the beginning. Top 5 in Nebraska history for career tackles and interceptions. Plays in the box a lot but showed in 2016 he can be a factor in deep coverage against receivers. Very solid mover in space and will come downhill hard and knock ball carries back. Good ball skills. He can be a 3rd/4th rounder if he tests well.

Other Notables:

#34 RB Terrell Newby – 5’11/190
#55 DT Kevin Maurice – 6’3/300
#52 LB Josh Banderas – 6’3/240
#88 Ross Dzuris – 6’3/255

TENNESSEE

*#6 RB Alvin Kamara – 5’10/215

Fourth year junior. He is coming out. Started off at Alabama but transferred after his freshman season when he realized how stacked the RB position there was. Also was in the Nick Saban doghouse for some minor infractions. In his two years at Tennessee, he averaged over 6 yards per carry and caught 67 passes for 637 yards. All great numbers. Kamara is a one of those guys who makes things look easy on the field. He is a versatile ball carrier than can out-move almost anyone but also shows the power to consistently break tackles.

*#3 WR Josh Malone – 6’3/200

Undeclared junior. I think he is coming out after two strong seasons in a row. One can rightfully make the argument that Malone is the WR in this class with the most upside. He is as explosive as it gets and he combines that with savvy movement after the catch and quality ball skills. Malone is a little raw as a route runner and drops some easy balls, but 18.9 yards per catch and 10 TDs in 2016 got a lot of people excited about his potential.

#11 QB Josh Dobbs – 6’3/210

Fourth year senior who has been starting since his freshman season. Was pretty low on the list of QBs before this season but I think this kid has something that is worth taking a look at for potential backup duty. He is a plus athlete who carries the ball well. Really improved his accuracy and division making. Led the team in some impressive late game comebacks. Dobbs has the tools and I would consider him late in the draft. He can be a quality backup.

*#9 DE Derek Barnett – 6’3/265

Several people have been waiting for this kid to finally be draft eligible. The true junior was a Ted Hendricks Award finalist and earned All-SEC honors all three years of his career. I wasn’t overly impressed with Barnett in my preseason scouting of him, but he was on another level in 2016. The relentless, powerful edge rusher excels at getting to the QB multiple ways. He has an array of rush moves and his skill set is versatile enough to be moved all over the line to create mismatches. Very good run defender as well. Barnett is a 1st rounder who could be a top 10 guy if he tests well. There are some concerns about his overall athleticism.

#23 CB Cameron Sutton 5’11/186

Fourth year senior. Had started every game of his career until a badly sprained ankle in 2016 forced him to miss 6 games. Has been highly regarded for years now and could be one of the top 5 corners in this class. Has a nice blend of footwork and instincts. Rarely gets fooled, very smart, heady player. Shows a physical side, good press guy. Will turn and run but has been burned deep his fair share of times. I see a day 2 corner here that translates to the NFL very well.

#50 DE Corey Vereen – 6’2/249

Fourth year senior who has been a starting the majority of the games since 2014. Really good burst and get off. Has a quick twitch and low center of gravity that can make it tough for blockers to get a hold of. Won’t blow anyone away but he can be a nice fit for a 3-4 team at OLB. 6th/7th rounder.

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SOUTH ALABAMA

#12 TE Gerald Everett – 6’4/240

Interesting situation here. Didn’t start playing football until his senior year of high school. Lightly recruited, went the JUCO route. Played a season at UAB before the program got shut down then transferred to South Alabama. They put his tools on display and is now considered one of the highest upside prospects in this class. Really nice frame that can handle more weight. Excellent movement ability from a speed and agility perspective. Makes tough catches in traffic away from his body. Not a strong blocker but he shows effort there. He can be a big time player in time. Day 2 possibly. Looking forward to his pre-draft process.

AIR FORCE

Other Notables:

#9 WR Jalen Robinette – 6’4/215
#8 S Weston Steelhammer – 6’0/200

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MICHIGAN

#88 TE Jake Butt – 6’6/250

Fourth year senior. Split time until 2015 where was given the majority snaps and broke out. 1st Team All American in 2015. A lot of people are excited about him and label him the top TE in the class. I don’t see it. Every time I watch him I feel under-impressed. He doesn’t move anyone as a blocker and we aren’t talking about an explosive pass catcher. He is average to above average across the board. Tough kid, good over the middle but nothing I am spending a top 45 pick on. I say 3rd rounder.

#82 WR Amara Darboh – 6’2/215

Fourth year senior who improved mightily from 2015 to 2016. Strong, physical guy with some size. Runs good routes and will make tough catches in traffic. Still has a hard time getting himself open against quality man coverage. 3rd/4th rounder.

#4 RB De’Veon Smith – 5’11/228

Fourth year senior with two years of starting experience. Absolute bull with the ball in his hands. He’ll break multiple tackles every week and he showed more wiggle and vision this year. Very good blocker, maybe the best in the class. Reliable guy who can be a great complement in someone’s backfield. 4th round type.

#86 WR Jehu Chesson – 6’3/203

Fifth year senior. Took a minor step back in production this season. He doesn’t have the upside of Darboh but he has shown flashes of being a solid underneath threat who uses length and size to position himself in front of defensive backs. Smart player with good route running ability. 5th/6th rounder.

#78 OT Erik Magnuson

Fifth year senior and two year starter. Had a very nice year and put himself on to the radar for day three linemen. Has a good combination of length and hand strength. Lacks the fast feet but he is technically further along than most. Projects as a solid backup at the next level.

*#5 S Jabrill Peppers – 6’1/205

Undeclared junior who is a sure thing to come out early. Projected by some to be a top 10 pick. I will get in to him more in the coming months, but I don’t see the special in him as a defender. Very solid and versatile, yes. But I actually think he is special with the ball in his hands. I look at him as a top tier RB prospect who can also be a top tier return specialist. He’s played all over the field for Michigan and if he can get in to the right system and role in the league, he can be a special one.

#43 DT Chris Wormley – 6’5/300

Fifth year senior. One of my favorite DL in the draft and a guy who I think should end with a top 15 overall grade. He doesn’t have eye popping production but that means almost nothing when evaluating him. Wormley is NFL-ready day one to play anywhere on the line you need. He can play inside and out-bend and out-move guards. He can play outside and simply overwhelm the edge blocking with his elite strength and power. He reminds me a ton of former Patriot Richard Seymour. 1st rounder.

#29 CB Jourdan Lewis – 5’10/179

Fourth year senior and three year starter. Two time All American. Owner of first place all time at Michigan for single season and career pass breakups. Really good footwork and ball skill guy. Love the body control and ability to stick to a receiver’s hip pocket and make plays on the ball. He’s not the star his numbers make him look like but he can be a very good nickel corner. Needs more strength and consistency from a decision making perspective. Early day two kind of guy.

#33 DE Taco Charlton – 66/272

Fourth year senior. Wasn’t really a factor on this defense until 2015. Had a breakout year this season, leading the team in sacks with 9. He’s a guy you can easily fall in love with when looking at the measurables. Very good triangle numbers. Shows good mechanics and technique and we saw flashes this year of a guy who had sky high potential. Could be a 2nd rounder if he tests well.

#96 DT Ryan Glasgow – 6’4/299

Fifth year senior, this will be his 33rd career start. Team considers him the top DL on the team. A dirty work guy who never gets pushed back. Plays low, strong, and quick. Will constantly fight his way through traffic and make plays in the backfield. Really impressive motor and consistency. Won’t be a star but he will be a reliable rotational guy. 4th/5th rounder.

#8 CB Channing Stribling – 6’2/175

Fourth year senior. Was a rotational guy until he got his shot as a senior this season and took advantage of it. 2nd Team All Big 10, led the team with 4 INTs. Triangle numbers guy who plays a physical brand, in your face style. Will beat guys up at the point of attack. Doesn’t have great agility or acceleration. Needs better footwork. This is a kid you can develop. 5h/6th rounder.

#25 S Dymonte Thomas – 6’2/199

Fourth year senior and two year starter. He is the safety net behind this talented Michigan defense. Roams the deep coverage areas, makes a lot of secondary calls. One career INT but is better at attacking the ball in the air than that would lead you to believe. Solid height, weight and speed. Late rounder who can be a solid backup and shows some starter potential if he can add some weight and play more physical.

Other Notables:

#67 OG Kyle Kalis – 6’3/305
#71 Ben Braden – 6’5/330
#19 FB Henry Poggi – 6’4/257
#44 S Delano Hill – 6’1/214
#42 LB Ben Gideon – 6’3/247
#99 DT Matthew Godin – 6’6/294

FLORIDA STATE

*#4 RB Dalvin Cook – 5’11/213

Third year junior. He is coming out of school. I could write a paragraph about his accolades alone. Most important, he is an All American and the all time leading rusher in FSU history. Cook will likely finish the grading process as my top overall back and possibly top 5 overall player. He is top tier when it comes to speed, quickness, vision, and adjustments. He runs harder and more physical than you think, catches the ball very well, and will make an impact as a blocker. Cook is the complete package, real deal.

*#77 OT Roderick Johnson – 6’7/311

Third year junior who has been starting since halfway through his freshman season. His potential is as high as any OT in this entire class but he didn’t take the step forward many were hoping for in 2016. Very inconsistent technique and performance as a pass protector. His hand placement and footwork are among the worst of the “top” OT prospects although his overall athletic ability is among the best. Johnson has shown flashes of very dominant play here and there, but I just don’t see the progress I need to in order to call him a 1st round talent. If he comes out someone may gamble early, but I think he is a 3rd rounder.

*#15 WR Travis Rudolph – 6’1/192

Another former top tier high school recruit, third year junior. Not sure if he will come out. Very smooth mover who has been the go to WR on that team for a couple years. Somewhat similar to Rashad Greene from a couple years ago. Can run himself open consistently and has smooth ball skills, easy pass catcher. My complaint about him is that he is very frail. He gets tossed around by physical DBs. He doesn’t do very well in traffic. I would love to see him go back for his senior season because there is a high ceiling here. If he comes out I think he is a 3rd rounder.

#72 OG Kareem Are – 6’6/325

Fifth year senior, spent two years at junior college. Showed a ton of improvement this year and put himself in to mid round discussion. Are is an enormous mauler. Very difficult for guys to get around him and now that he is moving his feet better, he is a tough matchup for anyone. He still really struggles in space and has limitations, but I see a potential starter here down the road. 3rd/4th rounder.

#8 WR Kermit Whitfield – 5’8/182

Fourth year senior. Has seen some up and down production throughout his career. His size is an issue. But Whitfield may be one of the fastest players in this class. His stop and go is a weapon that a good offensive mind in the NFL can use. Also adds some return value. Late rounder who needs the right system to succeed.

#44 DE Demarcus Walker – 6’4/280

One of my favorite defensive linemen in the class. Fourth year senior. Second in the nation with 15 sacks. I’ve been back and forth on whether or not he should be viewed as a DE or DT. It depends on the scheme but I do believe he can play both. He is a matchup nightmare for any kind of blocker. He can out-move you, out-leverage you, out-power you, out-smart you. Walker loves the game and is a very self-made guy who pays attention to small details to make himself better. Not the most gifted guy out there but I think he is one of the most reliable and versatile. I’ll have a 1st round grade on him.

#27 CB Marquez White – 6’0/184

Fourth year senior and two year starter. Also played basketball for the Seminoles in 2014. Has that kind of long, lanky body. Had a very strong year and put himself in to the mid round discussion. Makes plays on the ball and stays with receivers up and down the field. Not a very physical guy. Would like to see him ass some weight and clean up his backpedal. 4th/5th rounder who some teams may really like because of his length and upside.

Other Notables:

#23 FB Freddie Stevenson – 6’1/241

Dec 292016
 
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Jeremy Sprinkle, Arkansas Razorbacks (September 17, 2016)

Jeremy Sprinkle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2017 NFL Draft Prospects: December 29, 2016 Bowl Games

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

SOUTH FLORIDA

#87 WR Rodney Adams – 6’1/190

One of my favorite under the radar WRs in this class. Such and explosive change of direction guy who can get in and out of breaks with the best in this class. Plus ball skills in traffic, can get up over DBs and win a lot of one on one situations. He is on the skinny side and will struggle with physical CBs here and there. I would love to see this guy in a real offense with real talent around him. Day three guy I would take a flier on.

Other Notables:

#57 LB Nigel Harris – 6’0/231
#36 S Nate Godwin – 5’10/205

SOUTH CAROLINA

#74 OT Mason Zandi – 6’9/314

Fifth year senior who moved from RT to LT in 2016. I think his future will need to be at RT in the pros. Doesn’t have the feet and too easily gets beat on double moves inside to be trusted on a QB’s blind side. Zandi has elite-level length with good enough hand power to initially control pass rushers. He has some impressive tape against the nation’s top edge rushers. I don’t see starter potential here but he can make a roster. Day three guy.

#5 DE Darius English – 6’6/245

Fifth year senior. Has been the team’s top pass rusher over the past 2-3 years and finished 2016 with 9 sacks. He is very think and lacks power presence. Late round developmental type prospect. Tools are there but he is a ways away from being an NFL pass rusher.

Other Notables:

#11 LB DJ Holloman – 6’2/230

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ARKANSAS

#83 TE Jeremy Sprinkle – 6’6/256

Fifth year senior who has the tools and potential to get anyone excited. His upside is through the roof, arguably higher than last year’s TE Hunter Henry. A guy with this kind of height and length combined with the ball skills and aggressive nature is rare. He caught a lot of balls on the move in traffic over the past two years and his long strides in space could make him a dangerous weapon up the seam and after the catch. I’m not sure he can grab a first round grade but he’ll be close. He needs to show more ability as a blocker and needs to strengthen his lower body. If he can, we are talking about a starter with Pro Bowl potential.

#70 OT Dan Skipper – 6’10/319

Fourth year senior who has been starting since his freshman season. Has experience at guard and tackle. Plays on the left side for Arkansas, may need to make a move to RT in the pros. With this kind of length, his lack of foot speed can be somewhat looked past. He doesn’t always look great out there but he is a very reliable presence in the trenches. Works hard, finishes blocks, very aware. He is also a weapon on special teams as a field goal defender. He’s blocked a handful over his career. I see a 3rd/4th rounder here.

#80 WR Drew Morgan – 6’0/193

Came out of nowhere to lead the team in catches and receiving yards in 2015, repeated that in 2016. He’s as tough as they come in traffic and after the catch. Plays WR as if he we a LB running with the ball. He turned in to the most reliable 3rd down threat on that offense. He won’t outrun anyone but he can get himself open and shows very good ball skills. Could be a nice slot prospect in the NFL. 5th-6th rounder.

#51 LB Brooks Ellis – 6’2/245

Fourth year senior and three year starter. Team leader in tackles in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Really smart, instinctive linebacker who can think his way to tackles. Might be be the most gifted athlete but his initial movement and positioning can make up for it. Excellent tackler in space. Hits hard, takes on blocks well. On-field general for the defense type but he may not be a three down guy in the NFL. 4th/5th rounder who will be limited, but reliable.

#29 CB Jared Collins – 5’11/173

Fourth year senior who has been seeing time since year one. Three year starter in the SEC with 34 career pass break ups. Very thin, bordering frail looking. Moves exceptionally well though with minimal wasted motion when tracking WRs. Doesn’t have the physical side to him but he is a decent form tackler and he can track receivers all over the field. Late rounder.

#55 DT Jeremiah Ledbetter – 6’3/280

Fifth year senior who started off at junior college. Father played a few years in the NFL. Slightly undersized DT who has natural power and strength to him. Delivers a nice jolt to blockers who try to lock on to him. Made a move to DE halfway through the 2016 season, showing versatility. I could see him being a very solid 3-4 DE who will do a lot of dirty work. This kid grew on me more and more as I watched Arkansas play. 5th/6th rounder who not every team will be looking at but the ones who are will like him a lot.

#48 DE Deatrich Wise Jr – 6’5/273

Fifth year senior. I had him on my short list of guys to watch in 2016 and he’s been a disappointment. After 7 sacks in his final 4 games last year, Wise finished with just 3.5 sacks total in 2016. It wasn’t because he saw double teams, either. He has the frame and power presence that can get you excited. Very aggressive after the snap with his hands, plays through the whistle. He struggles to beat blockers on one one because of poor pad level and too much wasted movement when changing direction. Someone will still gamble on his tools but I don’t see anything better than a 6th/7th rounder after seeing him a bunch this season.

Other Notables:

#4 WR Keon Hatcher – 6’2/204
#24 RB Kody Walker – 6’1/254
#37 P Toby Baker – 6’3/214

VIRGINIA TECH

*#7 WR Bucky Hodges – 6’7/245

Fourth year junior. Many are calling him a tight end but I am keeping him at WR because I haven’t seen him line up with his hands in the dirt once. He plays a WR role completely for the Hokies. I see a Kelvin Benjamin type with this kid. Moves well enough to be a WR and his size alone strikes fear in to anyone who covers him, and I mean anyone. Hodges is a little limited when it comes to the route tree but his impact will be felt early and often in the NFL if he comes out. Potential 1st rounder. 2nd rounder at worst.

*#1 WR Isaiah Ford – 6’2/195

Undeclared junior. The jury is split on whether or not he is coming out. Ford is the kind of kid who shows up to a workout/combine and gets everyone to nod their head. Very good triangle numbers. He;s long and fast with big hands. Catches the ball very well. Effortless top speed downfield. When I watch him on tape, however, I just don’t see the football-related movement. Struggles to change direction when moving at a full speed, doesn’t make much happen after the catch, struggles to make quick decisions. I think he is more of an athlete than a football player but two straight 1,000+ yard seasons with almost 150 catches says otherwise. There will be a lot of love/hate with this kid if he comes out. Potential 2nd rounder who could sneak in to the end of round 1.

*#31 CB Brandon Facyson – 6’2/197

Another undeclared junior here. There is a shot Facyson could be the first Hokie taken in next year’s draft. He has the triangle numbers that coaches and scouts alike drool over. Virginia Tech has put out some very solid DB talent over the past few years and Facyson might be the best of them all. His technique needs work, as he gets a bit lazy and too confident in his ability at times. But all in all, this kid has the tools to be a stud. Potential 1st round talent if he comes out.

#60 DT Woody Baron – 6’2/280

Fifth year senior. Projects as a 3 technique with his quick first step and ability to bend under blockers and find his way to the action. He finished 5th in the ACC with 17.5 TFL and with his ability to move around the line, he could be drafted late.

Other Notables:

#45 FB Sam Rogers – 5’11/230
#72 OG Augue Conte – 6’5/305
#71 Jonathan McLaughlin – 6’5/294
#4 DE Ken Ekanem 6’3/230
#8 DT Nigel Williams – 6’2/297
#19 S Chuck Clark – 6’0/205

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OKLAHOMA STATE

*#28 WR James Washington – 6’0/205

Undeclared junior. Proved his ability to get make plays downfield was more than a flash in the pan. Washington has elite-level speed and ability to track the ball in the air. Very good at high-pointing the ball and coming down with full awareness of his body and the field. He ran a limited route tree but the upside here is going to draw a lot of attention if he comes out. Potentially a sub 4.4 guy who can be had in round 2.

*#2 QB Mason Rudolph – 6’4/220

Undeclared junior. The people I know said he is going back for his senior season. Still need to mention him as a possibility in this wide open QB class. Has the pro-body and pro-arm and pro-release. He’ll need a year off in the NFL as he transitions from one of the more QB-friendly systems in the nation. He can make a lot of throws but lacks the consistent accuracy, especially when throwing downfield. Could be a mid rounder if he comes out, nothing higher than round 3.

#47 TE Blake Jarwin – 6’5/248

Fifth year senior and probably the best TE in the Big 12. Love the frame and speed here. Made some big plays downfield and moves very well for a guy his size. He isn’t a power blocker at all and will need to show some strength improvement before he is thrown out there in the NFL. Can be a nice project with big upside. 5th/6th rounder.

*#45 LB Chad Whitener – 6’0/243

Started off at California, transferred after 2013 and sat out 2014. Started two years for Oklahoma State earning 1st Team All Big 12 in 2015 and 2nd Team in 2016. One of those guys who always finds his way towards the action whether its against the run or pass. Very good first few steps. Sticks to the man he is tackling and comes with authority. Not sure if he is coming out but he will be just under the top tier guys in this class if he does. Day 2 pick.

Other Notables:

#77 OT Victor Salako – 6’6/335
#32 RB Chris Carson – 6’1/215
#13 S Jordan Sterns – 6’0/200
#6 CB Ashton Lampkin – 6’0/190
#20 LB Jordan Burton – 6’2/215

COLORADO

#4 CB Chidobe Awuzie – 5’11/205

Fourth year senior who started games from the beginning of his career. One of my favorite DBs in this entire class. Leader of one of the top pass defenses in the country. Aquzie doesn’t have your traditional CB build but he isn’t your traditional CB. He has actually played every position in the secondary and has been equally effective at all of them. He is arguably the most physical CB prospect I’ve seen in years. Very smart and instinctive. His only question is long speed, a big one I know. Awuzie can be a factor at any DB spot you put him in. There is a lot of value here. I say 1st round grade but he is likely a day two guy.

#9 S Tedric Thompson – 6’1/205

Another fourth year senior who has started games every season of his career. Had some concussion issues in 2014 that cut his year short. Thompson is one of my favorite safeties in the class. He is all over the field. Equally effective against the run and pass. Came down with 7 INTs in 2016 alone but is better in when he is near the line. There is a good amount of range here in deep coverage when he needs it. Just an all around guy who I think translates to the NFL very well. Late day two guy, maybe late round 2 if he tests well.

#58 DT Josh Tupou – 6’3/325

Fifth year senior. Redshirted in 2015 because of being suspended by the team for violating team rules. Was arrested for starting a brawl at a bar. Tupou showed signs of being a dominant inside force that every 3-4 team needs. He is a limited athlete and pass rusher, but his impact has been enormous this year. If he can clear his red flags, Tupou can be a 3rd/4th round pick.

#23 Ahkello Witherspoon – 6’2/190

Former JUCO transfer who has about 2 years total in starting experience. Led the nation in pas breaks ups (22) in 2016. I was really impressed with this kid at times, to the point where I was thinking potential 1st rounder. I’m not sure he’ll reach that level grade wise but man, this guy can get you excited. He is really competitive, really long, and reacts really well in man coverage. This is the kind of CB every team is looking for. If he runs well enough, he can be a 2nd/3rd rounder. If I had to guess, he is going to be a 4th/5th rounder and it wouldn’t surprise me if he out-performed most CBs drafted ahead of him.

#98 OLB Jimmie Gilbert – 6’4/230

Fourth year senior, three year starter. A third down weapon for the Buffaloes who excels at speed rushing the edge with his strong initial burst and length. 3rd Team All American. Has the frame that can get you excited. Even though he is high-hipped, he shows very fluid movement below his waist with easy reaction speed. He is an upside prospect more so than an immediate help. 5th/6th rounder.

Other Notables:

#74 C Alex Kelley – 6’2/310
#13 QB Sefo Liufau – 6’4/230
#31 Kenneth Olugbode – 6’1/220

Dec 282016
 
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Garett Bolles, Utah Utes (November 26, 2016)

Garett Bolles – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2017 NFL Draft Prospects: December 28, 2016 Bowl Games

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

PITTSBURGH

#53 OG Dorian Johnson – 6’5/315

Fourth year senior and my top rated guard in this class. I think he will end up with a 1st round grade, near top 20 overall. Johnson has steadily improved since last year and is now the rare combination of power and movement ability. He was the only guard I saw all year that consistently won the battles with the Clemson defensive tackles. That really left an impression on me. Despite his lengthy frame, he bends and gets under guys exceptionally well and displays the consistent technique you want to see. NFL-ready guard day one.

#69 OT Adam Bisnowaty – 6’6/305

Fifth year senior and another four year starter. He’s had a few minor injuries throughout his career but nothing that should really impact his final grade. The two time All-ACC left tackle is considered the top blind side protector by some. Really smooth athlete in pass protection that has an easy time staying balanced and quick. He has the ideal frame and footwork that will get a coach excited. The one thing that always popped up when I scouted him was a lack of finishing power. He has a hard time locking guys up and won’t get much of a push as a run blocker. More of a finesse blocker at this point. This LT group is very up in their air but Bisnowaty will likely finish in the top 3 of this group and be drafted in the first round.

*#23 RB James Conner – 6’2/235

Fourth year junior. Well documented story here. Led the team in rushing as a freshman in 2013 before earning All America honors in 2014 where he rushed for 1,765 yards and 26 TDs. He tore his MCL early in 2016 and was soon after diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma. He was declared cancer free in May 2016 and was the team’s starting RB week one of this season. On the field, he proved his talent is still among the best in the nation, earning 1st Team All ACC and declaring early for the draft. Conner is a bruiser that can bully tacklers up and down the field. There is more wiggle to his hips than you would think and he showed excellent hands this season. Conner is a complete back that will be a factor in the league right away. He can be a day 2 pick for sure.

#4 QB Nathan Peterman – 6’2/224

Fifth year senior that started off at Tennessee. Starting QB for Pittsburgh in 2015 and 2016. There is something to this kid that I really like. He shined the most against their toughest opponents. He has made some big time throws in big time moments in their wins against top 10 opponents. Peterman is tough, smart, and athletic. He can anticipate and read defenses well. He is coming from an NFL-style offense. There are several check marks next to his name and I think he can be had in the middle of the draft.

#83 TE Scott Orndorff – 6’5/255

Fourth year senior that had 23 career receptions entering 2016. Wasn’t really on my radar until I saw him against Clemson (9 catches-128 yards-2 TDs). This kid has the frame and ball skills that can get a coach excited. He averaged almost 17 yards per catch this year. He isn’t a plus blocker but a team looking for a TE to develop in the passing game, he’s on their radar. Late rounder.

#5 DE Ejuan Price – 6’0/255

6th year senior that missed two separate seasons with chest/pectoral injuries. Almost missed half a season with a back injury. Price is not your typical edge rushing prospect. He lacks length and doesn’t have that top tier explosion from his stance. What makes him stand out, however, is the top-tier technique and attention to detail. He understands how to use his low center of gravity and leg strength to get under and control blockers. Very effective use of his hands. Price has 23.5 sacks and 40 TFL over the past two seasons. He reminds me of James Harrison with the way he simply overpowers blockers, collapsing the pocket on one play and beating them to the edge on the next. I think he has an outside shot at getting his name called towards the end of day 2.

Other Notables:

#38 CB Ryan Lewis – 6’0/200
#47 LB Matt Galambos – 6’2/245

NORTHWESTERN

#80 WR Austin Carr – 6’1/200

Fifth year senior. Exploded in 2016, leading the Big 10 in receiving by a wide margin. If you’re looking for a guy to be labeled as the best slot WR in this class, Carr may be it. He wasn’t on y radar until just a few weeks ago but the more I see, the more I like. He is a very explosive route runner, meaning he can get in and out of breaks quicker than anyone can cover and his immediate speed after the catch is noteworthy. Carr is a very consistent presence that runs the entire route tree and will surprise you deep if you try to jump his short routes. If he can test well in workouts, he could sneak in to round 3.

*#1 LB Anthony Walker – 6’1/245

Fourth year junior. Broke out in 2015, earning All American honors after finishing fourth in the country with 21.5 TFL. He’s played the weak side and middle spots for that defense. I’ve seen him a handful of times now and I don’t see the dynamic playmaker his numbers would lead you to believe. He is pretty stiff when changing direction and won’t chase many guys down from behind. I see an NFL caliber player here but not someone that should come out early. If he does come out, I see a 3-4 ILB type that gets taken early day 3.

*#16 S Godwin Igwebuike – 6’0/205

Fourth year junior that hasn’t declared yet. Led the team in tackles and pass break ups. I’ve only put the microscope on him twice this year and if he comes out, I’ll have to get another two or three games of his on tape. From what I see, thee is potential here to be one of the top safeties in this class. He has cornerback-type hips and feet. Very fluid and balanced. Minimal wasted motion. He flies all over the field and shows good tackling ability and a physical nature. I question his deep speed and range in coverage but if he comes out, I’ll get that extra work in. Mid rounder with potential to be more.

Other Notables:

#76 OT Eric Olson – 6’6/305
#7 DE Ifeadi Odenigbo – 6’3/265

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WEST VIRGINIA

*#1 WR Shelton Gibson – 6’0/198

Undeclared junior. I would think he won’t come out but he did lead the nation with 23.2 yards per catch in an offensive scheme that isn’t exactly designed on a lot of downfield passing. Gibson shows efficient movement as a route runner and is further along than most WRs that come from these spread attacks. I don’t like hoe he double catches a lot of balls and he doesn’t have the speed you would think by looking at his numbers. As of now I see a mid rounder at best if he comes out.

#65 C Tyler Orlosky – 6’4/296

Fifth year senior, three year starter and two-year team captain. Leader of the offensive line. Power-based blocker with heavy hands and a strong upper body. He can overpower linebackers and anchor against defensive tackles. Sub-par mover in space that is late to react to quick stunts and rush moves. Wasn’t responsible for sustaining blocks in such a quick passing game. Struggles to consistently play with leverage and foot speed. Late rounder but I think he gets drafted.

#7 RB Rushel Shell – 5’10/225

Fifth year senior that started off at Pittsburgh. Was a top tier recruit out of high school who had some maturity issues early on in his career. Nothing major. He’s constantly be the guy that was about to break out, but never quite did. Part of that reason has been the abundance of talent at RB for West Virginia that has caused him to split much of the action. A nagging ankle injury this season didn’t help Shell is likely a late round pick but one of those guys that could not surprisingly come in to the league and rush for 800+ yards in year one. He is very strong, low to the ground, and quick in a phone booth. He can break a lot of tackles. Someone is going to see that in him and want him in their backfield.

#13 S Rasul Douglas – 6’2/203

Fourth year senior and former JUCO transfer. Got in to the starting lineup this season and shined in a versatile DB role. Douglas played a lot of CB for West Virginia, showing the ability to turn his hips and run with downfield speed. His ball skills are among the best in the Big 12 and his nation-leading 8 interceptions are sure to turn some heads. He projects as a versatile backup DB that can be a vital nickel/dime package guy. 5th/6th round.

Other Notables:

#57 OG Adam Pankey – 6’5/316
#6 WR Daikel Shorts – 6’1/202
#97 DE Noble Nwachukwu – 6’2/275
#95 DT Christian Brown – 6’2/305

MIAMI

*#86 TE David Njoku – 6’4/245

Third year sophomore that, if he comes out, will likely finish as my top overall TE in a talented group. He may end up with a higher grade than what I gave Hunter Henry a year ago. Njoku is a physical specimen that has shown dominant traits as a blocker and receiver. He gets up the seam as quick as anyone from the line, can make special moves after the catch combined with agility and power, and shows uncanny instincts when running option routes against zone coverage. He is a smart kid with a ceiling as high as any TE we have seen lately. 1st rounder on my board if he comes out.

*#15 QB Brad Kaaya – 6’4/215

True junior that is now the all time career passing yards leader in the storied program. His intentions for the draft have not yet been declared, but many think he’s coming out. He’s essentially the same kid we saw in 2015, which isn’t a good sign of you ask me. I don’ see it with him. I don’t like his arm and I’m not sold he will be able to handle the size and speed of the NFL. He looks frail to me in the way I have always felt about Sam Bradford. A lot of people like this kid, though. He is in the running for a first rounder if he comes out.

#3 WR Stacy Coley – 6’1/195

Fourth year senior that has put together a nice career. Capped his career off with 9 TDs. Coley is the top speed threat on this offense but he just didn’t get the looks he probably deserved. Kaaya struggled to throw the deep ball well and the offensive line was very inconsistent. Coley is likely a day three guy that will be pro-ready right away. He’s a guy that could factor earlier than many drafted before him.

#63 OG Danny Isidora – 6’4/305

Redshirt in 2012, missed most of 2013 with a foot injury. He’s started every game since and is one of the team’s leaders. Isidora is the guy you want inside when your team needs a yard or two. He can get a consistent push forward in the trenches and works through the whistle. He doesn’t look pretty as a pass blocker but you rarely see him get beat. I’m not sure he is a year one starter in the league, but I consider him an eventual one. Looking forward to seeing him at the Senior Bowl.

*#2 RB Joseph Yearby – 5’9/200

Junior that hasn’t declared yet but it sounds like he will for financial reasons. He was supposed to be the even, if not better replacement of Duke Johnson but he never quite ran away with the role. He is a solid all around back but doesn’t stand out anywhere. His quick adjustments at the point of attack can free himself of traffic but he doesn’t get away from defenders in space. Limited size and athletic ability. He can be a backup somewhere with the hope he reaches the potential that people think he once had.

#29 CB Corn Elder – 5’10/180

Fourth year senior that was considered one of the best two way recruits coming out of high school. Settled in at CB in his first year at Miami. I would say Elder, since halfway through the 2015 season, Elder has been one of the better CBs in the ACC. He has good length for his frame and shows the deep speed to run with anyone, and I mean anyone. His power presence is limited and he gives too much cushion underneath, but I think his style of play fits in well to the league. His speed may be elite. 4th-5th rounder and we will see him at the Senior Bowl.

#26 S Rayshawn Jenkins – 6’2/210

Fifth year senior. Missed 204 with a back injury but has had two healthy seasons since. Jenkins is a three year starter that has been productive across the board. He is a plus tackler with good instincts in coverage. He doesn’t have the kind of speed to factor in cover 2 or to stick with speed downfield, but in a role where he can play downhill, he can be a factor. 5th-6th rounder that will also play at the Senior Bowl.

Other Notables:

#6 S Jamal Carter – 6’1/215

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INDIANA

#67 OG Dan Feeney – 6’4/310

Fifth year senior, four year starter. Missed 2013 with a foot injury. Two time All American and considered by many to be the top guard in the draft. He missed some time in 2016 with a concussion and was also forced to play some left tackle because of injuries to their OL. Feeney hasn’t left the best impression on me yet. He is solid, yes. Top 75 pick, yes. But I see holes in his movement as a pass blocker and he doesn’t overpower anyone as a run blocker. His post-engagement with defenders is off and on. I can see the upside of a starter here but nothing I would touch in round 1, maybe not round 2.

Other Notables:

#4 WR Ricky Jones – 5’10/185
#87 Mitchell Paige – 5’7/180
#93 DT Ralph Green III – 6’5/305

UTAH

*#72 OT Garett Bolles – 6’5/300

Played just one year at Utah after being the top JUCO recruit last year. He showed enough to warrant being labeled a potential top 10 pick in my opinion. He has everything you want out of left tackle prospect. Length, feet, power, strength, finesse, and body control. Bolles had a very tough upbringing that included some legal and drug issues. He’s been out of trouble for years though. As of now, Bolles is the most impressive left tackle I’ve seen eligible for this class.

#28 RB Joseph Williams – 5’11/205

One of the more interesting stories in college football. His career began in 2012 at Connecticut, but he didn’t last long there and went the junior college route. He signed with Utah in 2015 to back up, and eventually replace, Devontae Booker. Things weren’t going well early this year and he abruptly retired after 2 games. Fast forward a month and Williams was back and taking the country by storm. He rushed for 332 yards/4 TDs against UCLA on October 22. Williams might be the fastest RB in this class. He is more of a straight line guy that a quickness based back which will worry some, but this kind of ability can’t go overlooked. If he can check mark the concerns off the field, he is a sleeper to end up in the second day of the draft.

#54 OG Isaac Asiata – 6’3/320

Fifth year senior. Will turn 25 at the end of his rookie season. Brother of Vikings RB Matt Asiata. Has started games all four years of his career. Will play inside in the NFL but has seen time at RT. Shows really good short area burst and power. Can overwhelm defenders at the point of attack and drive them out of a play. Slow feet in pass protection and struggles to factor in space against linebackers. Not a fit for every scheme but he can handle the size and power of the NFL right away. He will put on a show at the combine with the bench press and he is going to be featured at the Senior Bowl.

#12 WR Tim Patrick – 6’5/210

Has had a long road to where he is now. Will turn 24 during his rookie season. Started off at junior college where he starred in both football and basketball. Signed with Utah in 2014 but has missed 17 games in his three years with different injuries, including 4 in 2016. Still led the team in receiving, catches, and touchdowns. He is long and lean with good start up speed. Has the tools and rare height to go with it that will get him extra looks from scouts. Injuries aside, Patrick could be an early day 3 guy based on upside and potential.

*#93 DT Lowell Lotulelei – 6’2/310

Undeclared junior but all signs are pointing towards him coming out. Brother to Panthers star DT Star. Following a very similar path to the NFL. You have to watch a few games to truly appreciate Lotulelei and all he can do for a defense. He is such a strong presence inside that demands double teams and eats up space. He won’t make a ton of plays but he can get his hat in there when the opportunity arises. Borderline first round pick here.

*20 S Marcus Williams – 6’0/195

Third year junior that hasn’t declared yet but will likely turn pro after this game. Williams is a smart, versatile defender with 10 career interceptions. He doesn’t make a he impact against the run but he is more than physical enough and won’t hesitate to get after a downhill running back. Williams may be one of the best athletes at the position in this class if he comes out and his intangibles are top tier. If he comes out, we are looking at a day 2 pick here.

#49 DE Hunter Dimick – 6’3/272

Fifth year senior. After an shoulder-injury filled 205, Dimick came back strong in 2016. He was third in the nation in both TFL and sacks (21.5 and 14.5). He is a high energy, overly aggressive player that doesn’t turn off. Dimick lacks the tools you look for in an edge rusher. He isn’t explosive, he is tight hipped, and he won’t turn the edge without losing momentum. He will have a hard time adjusting to NFL pass blockers but his production and motor cannot be ignored. Day three prospect here that will have an uphill fight on his hands.

Other Notables:

#16 WR Cory Butler-Byrd – 5’10/180
#52 OT Sam Tevi – 6’5/305
#50 OLB Pita Taumoepenu – 6’1/245
#29 CB Reginald Porter – 5’11/185
#14 CB Brian Allen – 6’3/205
#39 K Andy Phillips – 5’11/210

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TEXAS A&M

#11 WR Josh Reynolds – 6’4/195

Fourth year senior that spent his first year in junior college. From week one I have been drawn to the length and movement of Reynolds. He is a long strider that can get behind a defense but also has the agility and balance to make sharp cuts in and out of his breaks. He’s been a big play receiver every year of his career and I don’t think his name is mentioned enough when discussing the top pass catchers in the class.

#65 OT Avery Gennesy – 6’5/305

Fifth year senior and two year starter. Spent two seasons in junior college. Bruiser-type that may need to move inside at the next level. Just doesn’t have the hands/feet combo that a player needs outside. He has a thick, powerful base and a solid first step that could be better suited at guard. 4th/5th

*#15 DE Myles Garrett – 6’5/270

Third year junior that is the favorite to be the top overall player in this draft class. Have to think he will be the #1 pick in May. He is a better prospect that former Aggie Von Miller was at this stage. Forget about the lack of production in 2016, he rarely saw plays where he wasn’t double or triple teamed. This is the kind of edge rusher that doesn’t come around often. He has it all.

#14 S Justin Evans – 6’1/200

Fourth year senior that spent two seasons in junior college. Started in both of his years with the Aggies. Also adds value as a solid kick returner. Very good speed in space and plays physical enough to be a multi-threat. Might be a little slight-framed for his style of play, so he will need to bulk up a bit. Very good reaction and hip movement. Reacts well in man coverage and should be able to play multiple roles. He’ll be at the Senior Bowl and could be a late day 2 guy.

#10 DE Daehson Hall – 6’6/260

If you saw Garrett and Hall line up pre-snap, you’d think you were looking at an NFL defensive line. Hall has measurables that coaches dream about. Garrett rightfully gets the publicity, but Hall can be a highly regarded edge guy himself. He has a consistent motor, plays with good technique, and will finish plays with violence. Hall will also be at the Senior Bowl and will likely be a day 2 pick.

#33 LB Shaan Washington – 6’3/240

Fourth year senior. Has been a tackle machine over the past three years. Really physical bruiser that showed more range in 2016 than he did last season. Not sure he is quite the athlete you want out there on every down, however. Could be a solid 2 down thumper and special teamer 6th/7th rounder.

Other Notables:

#8 QB Trevor Knight – 6’1/215
#72 OG Jermaine Eluemunor – 6’4/315
#31 LB Claude George – 6’2/240

KANSAS STATE

#75 DE Jordan Willis – 6’5/258

Three year starter. Really nice frame here with plenty of groom for growth. Physical, hard working, aggressive player that will pursue the action all over the field. Shows good initial movement with plenty of knee bend and power. Uses his hands well. Doesn’t have that elite burst around the edge but he is quick enough to keep a blocker honest. He will need to get stronger and continue to improve his technique for him to factor. Potential is high here. 3rd/4th rounder.

#22 S Dante Barnett – 6’1/194

Fifth year senior that received a medical hardship redshirt in 2015 after suffering an early season shoulder injury. Came back strong in 2016 proving he can still play his versatile safety role. Very good near the line of scrimmage. May not ave the speed to be in deep coverage by himself but he has the look of a special teams ace and solid backup. 5th/6th rounder.

Other Notables:

#6 WR Deonte Burton – 6’2/209
#52 LB Charmeachealle Moore – 6’0/228

Dec 272016
 
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Dion Dawkins, Temple Owls (October 2, 2015)

Dion Dawkins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2017 NFL Draft Prospects: December 27, 2016 Bowl Games

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

ARMY

Other Notables:

#11 LB Andrew King – 6’0/246

NORTH TEXAS

Other Notables:

#11 WR Thaddeous Thompson – 6’2/202

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TEMPLE

#66 OT Dion Dawkins – 6’5/318

Fourth year senior. Has had a windy road to where he is now including a couple of minor lower body injuries and an assault arrest. The red flags seem minimal, however and he is line to be a day two pick. Dawkins plays left tackle for Temple and was rewarded 1st Team All AAC in 2016, 2nd team in 2015. He is a very physical, mammoth kid that relishes the role of the enforcer. Technique wise he appears inconsistent and borderline lazy at times. But when he is lined up and mentally in it, Dawkins can beat anyone one on one. I need to see more to confirm my initial belief that he can be a starting caliber guard in year one.

#5 Jahad Thomas – 5’10/188

Fourth year senior. Led the team in rushing three straight years but his ability is limited. He is undersized and lacks ability to break tackles. Very good hands out of the backfield but without more presence as a blocker, he may have a hard time sticking at the next level. The gap between him and their sophomore RB Armstead is significant. Late rounder at best because of his pass catching ability.

#7 OLB Hasson Reddick – 6’1/230

Fifth year senior. Former walk on that has put himself among the school’s top all time defenders. Finished second in the nation with 21.5 tackles for loss. Will play at the Senior Bowl. Reddick plays a DE type role in their defensive scheme and will likely be sought after by 3-4 teams in the middle of the draft. Very hungry, aggressive player that can get under the pads of blockers and turn the edge. He lacks tools and won’t fit in to some schemes.

#50 DE Praise Martin-Oguike – 6’1/255

Started his career in 2011 and was not with the team in 2012 and 2013. Long story short, he was falsely accused of rape and had to deal with that before continuing his career. He led the team with 7.5 sacks in 2014, dealt with several injuries in 2015 but fought through them, just to come back in 2016 and seal the envelope with a solid season. If I had to choose between him and Reddick, it would be a coin flip as of right now. Martin-Oguike has the NFL body and short area reactions. Very strong kid that I think can be a fine 3-4 OLB rotational guy with the upside of being more. Every down player. He should be drafted late.

Other Notables:

#15 CB Nate Hairston – 6’0/193

WAKE FOREST

#8 LB Marquel Lee – 6’3/240

Fourth year senior, three year starter. 4th in the nation with 19 TFL in 2016, also led the team in tackles. I can see why someone could fall in love with Lee after watching him for a week or two. He is big and fast, very good at making initial reads. He can get in the action often, something you always want to see from a LB. I think the upside with him is big but I need to see more power presence before I can say I like him. He gets beat by blockers too often and he lacks violence as a tackler. Those are two red flags for me when I scout LBs. I think he will be a 5th-6th rounder that can be sought after by any defensive scheme.

*#53 DE Duke Ejiofor – 6’4/270

Fourth year junior that hasn’t declared yet. If I was advising him, I would say go back to school. Ejiofor broke out in a big way this season, finishing 4th in the ACC in sacks and 8th in TFL. I watched him plenty and while I do see the freakish upside, his skill set just isn’t there yet. If he goes back to school and improves that along with putting together another All ACC performance, we’re talking potential 1st rounder. He is very athletic (sub 4.6 40, 39 inch vertical, ran hurdles in high school) and it shows up from time to time on tape. The only thing that annoys me here is what the team does with him role-wise. He can be much more if they let him simply rush the edge but their DE role is a little too inside for me. Oh well. If he comes out he is a 5th/6th rounder right now unless a team falls in love with the athleticism.

#25 CB Brad Watson – 6’0/200

Fourth year senior and two year starter. He was on my list of guys to watch this season after an impressive 2015 campaign. He has the size and speed to match up with a variety of receivers. He is pretty good with his hands and will tackle ball carriers coming at him well. His struggles are maintaining his balance and speed when tracking the ball came up with each week I scouted him. He’ll need to be better there if he plans on sticking around. Still though, a solid cover man with his size and speed will likely get drafted. 5th-6th round.

Other Notables:

#26 LB Thomas Brown – 6’3/225
#40 DT Josh Banks – 6’4/290

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MINNESOTA

#79 OT Jonah Pirsig – 6’9/325

Fifth year senior and three year starter. Fought an ankle injury this season and missed 3 games but when healthy, I think he may be one of the top 10-12 senior tackles in this class. He likely needs to be on the right side, as footwork and speed to the edge are weaknesses here. He really knows how to use his length though and when he locks those hands on, its over. Very strong kid who has the potential to be a starter at the next level. I’ll say as high as round 4 for him right now.

#7 QB Mitch Leidner – 6’4/230

Three year starter that has the tools to get you excited but his 2016 was very disappointing. After showing signs in 2015, hopes were high but he just couldn’t put it together. Leidner can really spin it, he is a very good athlete, and he’s tough. But he fails to read defenses and just too often ends up throwing the ball in to traffic. He was woefully inconsistent this year. Someone could fall in love with the tools though and draft him late.

#7 S Damarius Thomas – 6’2/215

Fifth year senior that sat out most of 2015 with a severe hamstring strain. Came back strong in 2016 and showed the kind of versatility you want to see in today’s safety. He is a very solid run defender, to the point where some say he can play weak side linebacker in the NFL, but also has more than enough movement ability to cover WRs in space. Thomas won’t be a household name but he can fill a lot of holes in the back seven of a defense. Guys like this are becoming more and more popular. 4th-5th rounder.

#5 CB Jalen Myrick – 5’10/205

Fourth year senior, two year starter. Adds some value as a return specialist. Has a stocky build for the position but also can run downfield with anyone. Very good speed. Has some potential nickel corner in him I think. Plays a physical game but has the movement to stick with speed. May lack the length most are looking for but he can find a spot on a team looking for a DB/return specialist combo. Late rounder.

Other Notables:

#82 WR Drew Wolitarsky – 6’3/220

WASHINGTON STATE

*#4 QB Luke Falk – 6’4/215

Junior that hasn’t declared yet. There is an outside chance he could creep in to the first round with the QB class being very up in the air without a no-doubt-top-guy. Falk is coming from the Air Raid scheme put together by Mike Leach, an offense that has not produced any quality NFL QBs. Falk is a different passer than those other guys, however. I think he has legit NFL ability and could be a starter down the road in this league. Very good and consistent throwing mechanics along with toughness under pressure and ability to adjust when his initial reads aren’t there. If he comes out, I don’t see a major gap between him and the likes of Watson/Kizer to be honest.

#9 WR Gabe Marks – 5’11/190

Fifth year senior. All time Pac 12 leader in career receptions. Has certainly benefited from the Leach Air Raid system. Marks is a fun guy to watch because he lacks some of the god-given ability that some of these other WR prospects have, but he is out-playing almost everyone that tries to cover him and his consistency is noteworthy. Very clean and crisp route runner, very strong hands, and very tough in traffic. Marks can be an important slot receiver for someone early in his career. Limited upside? Sure. But I think he has a high floor. Mid rounder, maybe he sneaks in to the end of round 3 if he runs well.

Other Notables:

#21 WR River Cracraft – 6’0/200
#73 OG Eduardo Middleton – 6’5/318
#18 Shalom Luani – 6’0/205

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BOISE STATE

*#13 RB Jeremy McNichols – 5’9/215

Undeclared junior. Doak Walker Award semifinalist. Has had a ton of touches and production over the past two seasons since taking over for Jay Ajayi. I think he will come out. This kid is yoked from head to toe. Very well put together that won’t go down on initial contact but also showed speed to run away from defensive backs in space. Good vision and anticipation. Might be one of the best blockers AND receivers among this RB group. He is an every down guy that can handle the NFL speed and power day one. I see a day 2 pick here.

#73 OG Travis Averill – 6’3/295

Fifth year senior and three year starter. 1st Team All Mountain west in 2016. Really athletic guard that can dominate on the move at the second level. Zone blocking schemes are going to really like this kid. Plays with a low center of gravity and good hand placement. He was consistently impressive, but not dominant, in every game I saw. 5th-6th rounder.

#82 WR Jordan Sperbeck – 6’0/180

Fourth year senior. Two time 1st Team All Mountain West Conference and Boise State’s all time leading receiver. Lines up in the slot and outside. Very savvy mover in and out of his breaks than can quickly react to what the defense is showing and find the windows. Averaged over 16 yards over his career. Makes difficult catches appear routine. He has sneaky speed and agility. Early day three guy.

Other Notables:

#66 OG Mario Yakoo – 6’4/326
#51 LB Ben Weaver – 6’1/224
#49 K Tyler Rousa – 5’9/189

BAYLOR

*#9 WR KD Cannon – 6’0/180

Third year junior that was a blue chip recruit out of high school. Had a very strong first two seasons but didn’t take the step up I thought he would once Coleman left. Cannon has elite speed, likely a sub 4.4 guy. He had 5 games of a 50+ yard catch thus year alone. Definitely a guy that grabs the attention of defensive backs. I he comes out he is a 5th rounder type but big time speed has a way of getting guys bumped up a round or two.

#55 C Kyle Fuller – 6’5/315

Fourth year senior. This will be Fuller’s 39th straight start, the anchor of the Baylor offensive line. He’s been responsible for all the line calls and directing traffic in the pass-happy offensive scheme. He doesn’t move particularly well against quicker pass rushers and struggles to adjust his weight when they force him to react. He’ll be sought after late in the draft for a team looking for an interior backup.

#28 S Orion Stewart – 6’2/205

Fifth year senior. One of the best safeties in the Big 12 over the past three years. Initially it’s easy to really like Stewart, a guy with size, speed, and a physical nature. He can run downfield with fast receivers and pop a ball carrier coming across the middle. The more you watch him though, the more you notice he has issues tracking the ball and even more issues tackling in space. He seems hesitant and lacking instincts. The tools and production will get him drafted late. He could be a factor on special teams early on.

Other Notables:

#7 WR Lynx Hawthorne – 6’0/195
#20 LB Aiavion Edwards – 6’1/220
#9 CB Ryan Reid – 5’11/190

Dec 262016
 
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Harold Landry, Boston College Eagles (November 26, 2016)

Harold Landry (#7) – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2017 NFL Draft Prospects: December 26, 2016 Bowl Games

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

MIAMI (OH)

#6 WR Rokeem Williams – 6’1/198

Fifth year senior. Nephew of former NFL WR Troy Brown. Big play guy, has averaged 20+ yards per catch over the past three seasons. Straight line athlete that will get a second look from teams if he can run a sub 4.45, which most expect. This will be my first look at him.

Other Notables:

#91 DE JT Jones – 6’3/246

MISSISSIPPI STATE

#8 WR Fred Ross – 6’2/205

Fourth year senior. One of the best WRs in school history. 1st Team All SEC in 2015, 2nd Team in 2016. Smooth route runner that gets in and out of cuts very well for a guy with his length. His hands are inconsistent, double catches a lot of balls and had a case of the drops throughout this season. He isn’t very physical, won’t do a ton to break tackles. Ross is a mid rounder that can likely contribute early on.

#58 OT Justin Senior – 6’5/305

Fourth year senior, three year starter primarily at RT. His future may be inside at the next level, just not a guy that looks good when he is sliding out to the edge. Senior has really good hands though, good technique and a powerful bunch. I think he gets drafted late. Higher upside at OG than OT.

#11 S Kivon Coleman – 6’3/205

Fourth year senior and two year starter. Coverage-savvy defensive back with good hips to turn and run against deep speed. Quick to diagnose, plays the game with his eyes and reacts quickly. Not the most physical guy but will stick his hat in the mix against downhill ball carriers. Late rounder based on being reliable on the back end and some nice tools to work with.

#88 DT Nick James – 6’4/325

Fifth year senior with some off field baggage that needs to be looked in to. Was arrested in August, but was never prosecuted. Lacks production but this is a guy that deserves another look from teams. He is a big body that moves very well. Does a lot of the dirty work inside and can be a handful for interior blockers. Big time weight room guy that has tools. Late rounder.

Other Notables:

#60 C Jamaal Clayborn – 6’4/320

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MARYLAND

Other Notables:

#76 OT Michael Dunn – 6’5/300
#19 WR Teldrick Morgan – 6’0/190
#27 CB Alvin Hill – 6’0/200

BOSTON COLLEGE

*#7 DE Harold Landry – 6’3/250

Junior that hasn’t declared yet, if I had to guess I’d say he will be in this draft class. Landry has a legit shot at round 1 if he does. Probably best suited for the 3-4 OLB role, Landry is one of those short area burst guys that can beat anyone off the edge but also has a level of lower body balance and power that can be hard to find. He isn’t just fast in space, he is strong and quick in a phone booth. His pass rush moves have evolved and it showed, as he led the nation in sacks this year with 15. Every down defender that I could see going as high as the top 10 overall if he works out well.

#9 S John Johnson – S – 6’0/204

Fourth year senior, two year starter. A few initial looks at Johnson and you won’t see anything eye popping. But you really have to see him play more than a few times to appreciate all he can do for a defense. He has starts at S and CB in addition to seeing some time at LB. Very good special teams defender. Johnson is a fluid player that reacts well, reads the QB well, and will forecast correctly often. Smart and reliable guy to have on your back end. He’ll play at the Senior Bowl and could see him drafted on day 2.

#28 Matt Milano – 6’1/220

Two year starter that played a role that created production. His stats may inflate him a tad but he is still a solid three down defender that can do a few things for a defense. Fast to react, tough and hard nosed, Milano is a nice weak side fit for most teams. He can track the back side well and he’ll make the plays when he’s there. Maybe limited but still a guy that most teams will want towards the end of the draft.

Other Notables:

#36 FB Bobby Wolford – 6’2/248
#93 DE Kevin Kavalec – 6’2/260
#97 Truman Gutapfel – 6’3/288

*******************************************************************

NC STATE

#21 RB Matthew Dayes – 5’9/203

Fourth year senior. Has led the team in rushing each of the past two years. Very well balanced runner with a strong stout frame. Has more speed in the open field than you think, can run away from guys. Can also wiggle his way out of a tackle. Very good pass catcher, very good blocker. Dayes does everything well, but won’t stand out in any lone aspect. Most will say 5th-6th round, but I think he deserves a 3rd-4th round grade.

#66 C Joe Scelfo – 6’1/295

Fifth year senior, graduate transfer from South Alabama. Had a nice career there and proved he could perform at a high level in the ACC. Faced some big time competition this year and did well. Scelfo is very good on the move, excels as a run blocker in space and lateral mover. He isn’t very big or powerful, thus has a hard time with the bigger bull rushers when he is one on one. Maybe not a starter in the league but I think he can stick somewhere. Late rounder.

Other Notables:

#29 CB Jack Tocho – 6’0/200

VANDERBILT

#74 OT Will Holden – 6’7/314

Fifth year senior, three years of starting experience, two of which at left tackle. 2nd Team All SEC in 2016. Not a household name here but if you watch him 3 times, you realize he doesn’t get beat often in the SEC. He wins most of his one on one battles against both speed and power. Very smart, very sound technique. His athletic ability and power don’t stand out, but he consistently gets the job done. I’d be comfortable with him as a backup tackle with the potential of him evolving in to a starter. 4th or 5th rounder.

*#41 LB Zach Cunningham – 6’4/230

Fourth year junior that hasn’t declared yet, most are assuming he will enter the draft. Unanimous All American and 1st Team all SEC after leading the conference in tackles. I don’t see the star in him as I do with the other SEC linebackers in this class. He is very long and lean and doesn’t always have the body control I want to see when in traffic. What he does have is big time speed and versatility. He may be faster than some WRs in this class and he knows how to use it. Cunningham makes tackles all over the field and if he can find the right role, he can be an important piece to a good defense. In the same breath I could see him really struggling if he’s put in to the wrong role. Likely a day 2 guy.

Other Notables:

#4 CB Torren McGaster
#69 DT Adam Butler – 6’5/295

Dec 172016
 
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Elijah McGuire, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns (November 19, 2016)

Elijah McGuire – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2017 NFL Draft Prospects: December 17, 2016 Bowl Games

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

HOUSTON

#1 QB Greg Ward Jr – 5’11/190

Three year starter with 27 winds under his belt. Had a very solid dual-threat career, completing 67+% of his passes three straight seasons. He will make a move to WR or RB at the next level. Very shift and savvy ball carrier that can add some bulk to his frame and be a threat in the open field. He will likely get drafted in the final round.

#94 DE Cameron Malveuax – 6’6/270

Fifth year senior and two year starter. Dirty work-type guy with tools. Will be attractive to teams looking to develop a 3-4 DE, as he is a guy that will be able to add 20 pounds to his frame. Plays a physical, tough brand but won’t be the play-making type. Late rounder at best.

#26 CB Brandon Wilson– 5’11/200

Fifth year senior, three year starter. Actually has seen starts at CB and RB over the past two years in addition to be a dangerous kick returner. There is a chance some teams see him as a RB at the next level. He isn’t the most fluid ball skill guy and will struggle in downfield coverage. He has a physical style to him though, risky type that will take chances. I like him as a late rounder, you can do a few things with him. In the era of short rosters, he has game-day versatility.

Other Notables:

#51 LB Steven Taylor– 6’1/225
#81 LB Tyler Bowser– 6’2/340

SAN DIEGO STATE

#56 OG Nico Siragusa – 6’5/330

Fifth year senior and three year starter. 1st Team All Muntain West 2 straight years. Some call him the best OL in school history. Has played both guard spots but primarily on the left side. Road grader type that gets off the snap well and will win a lot of one on one battles. He can handle big guys in the NFL right away. Doesn’t have the foot quickness to be a factor in space against linebackers. Needs better balance and body control on the move. 3rd-5th rounder is where I would peg him now.

#19 RB Donnel Pumphrey – 5’8/180

Record setting all purpose back. His name was thrown in to the Heisman discussion about mid-way through the year. Doak Walker Award finalist. Currently the #2 career rusher in NCAA history, behind only Ron Dayne. Anyone that rushes for over 6,000 yards in 4 years needs to be looked at. He doesn’t carry a ton of weight, he won’t break tackles, and his presence as a tackler is minimal. However I think there is some Dexter McCluster in him and he could find a spot somewhere in the league as a rotational back and return man. 5th or 6th round,

#23 CB Damontae Kazee – 5’11/190

2015 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year and many consider him the favorite to win it in 2016. 40+ career starts and 15 IN Ts over the past two seasons despite teams often trying to throw away from him. Kazee is very physical, very aggressive. He shows no hesitation in going after ball carrier and fullbacks alike. I didn’t get to see him challenged in coverage that much yet. He really does have shut-down potential because of his speed and playing strength. He is smart, experienced, quick reactions. He is a darkhorse for a guy that could creep up in to that 1st/2nd row area.

Other Notables:

#75 OT Miller, Kwayde – OT – 6’7/315
#71 OT Brunskill, Daniel – OT – 6’5/265
#54 OLB Munson, Calvin – 6’1/245
#58 DE Barrett, Alex – 6’3/258
#12 S Smith, Malik – 6’0/190

***************************************************************************

APPALACHIAN STATE

#75 C Parker Collins– 6’2/295

One of my favorite centers to watch this year. I don’t think he is the top guy in the class but he plays really hard and will make an impact in the league. I see an eventual starter here if he can add some bulk and strength. Three year starter with experience at OG and C, his future will likely be at C. He is one of the better ones in this class when it comes to blocking on the move at he second level. Real competitor here. Late rounder that will be very attractive to teams that move their centers laterally often.

#14 RB Marcus Cox– 5’10/205

Downhill slasher that will shoot upfield when the lanes are there. He has some explosion and violence to him that will get him to break tackles and gains yard after contact, something I always look for. Pretty good receiver out of the backfield. He didn’t do well in limited pass blocking opportunities from what I saw but I would need to see more before I put a negative label there. Late rounder.

Other Notables:

#6 LB Gilchrist, Kennan – 6’2/225
#3 S Gray, Alex – 6’3/225

TOLEDO

#3 RB Kareem Hunt – 6’0/225

Four year starter that has had a very long, productive career. He has gained nearly 5,000 career total yards, averaging over 6 yards per carry. Hunt isn’t very shifty or fast, but he has a good downhill approach with a low pad level and consistent ability to break tackle and fall forward. He has shown more versatility this year with soft hands out of the backfield and quality pass blocking. Reminds me of NYG RB Rashad Jennings coming out of Liberty. 5th-6th rounder.

#91 DT Treyvon Hester – 6’3/300

Fifth year senior, three year starter. Really quick and active interior guy that will get in on a lot of action. Moves well in traffic, shows a natural flow to the ball. He isn’t a very stout guy but he does play strong and powerful.. Violent player that could do well on an attacking, aggressive defense. 5th-6th rounder.

Other Notables:

#23 S Rogers, DeJuan – 6’0/190

***************************************************************************

UCF

#10 CB Shaquill Griffin – 6’1/200

I’ve only seen him once this year but he fits the mold of tall, long, fast corners that a lot of teams are searching for right now. He showed me that he can turn and run with legit speed as well as make plays on the ball. He is a physical, aggressive guy. I want to see more but he is someone that can shoot up the board in the coming months. 25 pass break ups over the past two years.

Other Notables:

#21 S Drico Johnson – 6’2/205
#24 CB DJ Killings – 6’0/185

ARKANSAS STATE

#93 DE Chris Odom – 6’3/255

Son of former NFL linebacker Cliff Odom, a 13 year veteran. Tools are there, teams will like the height/weight/speed combination and he put together a 12.5 sack season this year. Odom bends well off the snap and turns the edge, does a lot of little things right. Scouts and coaches alike are always intrigued by prospects with NFL in their blood. I think he will test well and some will see a high ceiling edge rusher here. Potentially a 4th or 5th rounder.

Other Notables:

#55 LB Xavier Woodson-Luster – 6’1/207
#94 DT Waylon Roberson – 6’1/342

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SOUTHERN MISS

#9 QB Nick Mullens – 6’1/200

Accurate thrower that has started for four years. Didn’t have the 2016 some of us thought he would, could even say he took a step back. 90+% of his snaps came from the shotgun and he wasn’t forced to make multiple reads pre and post snap. Will need a lot of development. He protects the ball well and will fit the ball in to tight windows. Does a nice job of timing his throws and anticipating lanes. Just doesn’t have the measurables or arm power that some want to see.

Other Notables:

#70 C Cameron Tom, 6’2/287
#12 LB D’Nerius Antoine – 6’1/215

UL LAFAYETTE

#15 RB Elijah McGuire – 5’11/215

Top prospect in the game. Will leave school as their all time career yards leader by a long shot. Dual-threat type that averaged 35 catches per season since 2014. He’s put on about 25 pounds over the past three years and I think the best is yet to come with him. He truly is an every down threat and I would say his hands out of the backfield are among the best in the class. I haven’t seen him tested much as a blocker just yet, so that will factor in to his grade but when we are talking about what he can do with the ball, he excites me. Versatility and high ceiling type.

Other Notables:

#7 LB Otha Peters 6’2/228

May 102016
 
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New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Review

Draft Pick Scouting Reports
Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports
Eric’s Take on the 2016 Draft

Round Pick in Round Overall Selection Player Selected Video
1 10 10 CB Eli Apple (Video)
2 9 40 WR Sterling Shepard (Video)
3 8 71 S Darian Thompson (Video)
4 11 109 LB B.J. Goodson (Video)
5 10 149 RB Paul Perkins (Video)
6 9 184 TE Jerell Adams (Video)

2016 Draft Pick Scouting Reports

1st Round – CB Eli Apple, 6’1”, 199lbs, 4.40, Ohio State University
Eli Apple, New York Giants (April 28, 2016)

Eli Apple – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SCOUTING REPORT: Third-year sophomore who turns 21 in August. Apple started 27-of-28 games for the Buckeyes. Apple combines good size with excellent overall athletic ability, speed, and quickness. He has the physical tools and plays a physical game. He demonstrates very good aggressive man coverage skills and makes plays on the football (22 pass defenses the past two seasons). However, Apple needs to improve his overall coverage technique and reading routes. Apple makes a lot contact with receivers in coverage, drawing flags. He has a big upside.

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

Reese: Eli Apple, cornerback, Ohio State. A really good, young player. Height, weight, speed. Big school. Only 20 years old. Has all the tools. He holds all the tools to be a starter. He was the highest graded player on our board, beyond the guys with issues.

Q: Were you concerned going in that the Titans and Bears might do what they did?

A: You never know what people are going to do during the draft. We knew there were going to be nine picks in front of us. People say they knew or thought something was going to happen in front of us, you don’t know that, nobody knows until the name is turned in. We’re very happy to have this player, this is a good player. He’s a terrific young player, and it’s a need pick. It’s a value pick where we had him ranked, and it’s absolutely a need pick. Look out there and see our corner depth, you guys can see that.

Q: You mentioned big school…does that upgrade a prospect?

A: You like to get kids who’ve played in big time programs. It’s not the end all, but kids that come from big programs are usually more ready to jump in and play at this level.

Q: Can he play in the slot? Is that something you envision?

A: I think he can play all over. He is big, he’s over six foot. He’s a 200 pounder, ran 4.4. He can play somewhere back there for us.

Q: Do you envision him starting immediately?

A: Everybody has to come in and earn their spot for the New York Giants, but we think he has starter caliber tools.

Q: Do you look at him as only a cornerback or do you think he’s a guy who can play safety?

A: No, he’s a corner.

Q: Because Vernon Hargreaves plays the same position and went one pick later, can you explain to us from a scouting perspective the difference in the two players?

A: We thought (Eli) was a better player, that’s all you need to know. We thought he was a better player. We had him ranked higher, we thought he was a better player. We think Hargreaves is a good player, we thought this guy was a better player.

Q: Prospect-wise, how would this guy compare with Prince Amukamara when Prince came out?

A: Yeah, that’s been so long ago…I’ve looked at hundreds of guys since Prince came out. I don’t know if it’s fair to try to couple him with Prince. We just know that he’s a terrific young player with a huge upside, highest guy on our board, and a need pick. We’re very excited to have him.

Q: No disappointment at all when the Bears jumped ahead of you and took Floyd?

A: No, you don’t get disappointed up here. You just stay with your board and when they come off, they come off. Nobody’s crying in there when somebody gets picked. You know, “Okay, who’s the next best guy available?” We think we got a really good player.

Q: You talked about a need…most of the time there’s only two cornerbacks on the field. Are one of the other two corners possibly a safety—DRC or Jenkins?

A: No. When you have two corners in this league, you’re short one because the offensive teams throw the ball so much and you’ve got to have three quality corners to really get out there and function at a high level, I think. This guy gives us three quality guys that we think we can play with anybody around the league with these three kind of guys.

Q: Eli Apple was talked about recently in the last 24-48 hours and referred to by an anonymous scout questioning his life skills. Is that anything that you guys worried about?

A: You hear everything. It’s all people talk about, the draft, it’s a phenomenon now. Half the stuff people we’re talking about, they don’t know what they’re talking about. There’s stuff spewed all over the place. We listen to our scouts, we do the work. Hey, this guy is a good player, he’s clean. We don’t have any issues with him.

Q: Do you care about his cooking?

A: I don’t care about his cooking.

Q: Can you clear up the perception about whether you could have gotten him further down in the round?

A: You can always say that and you’ll say, “We’ll be cute and we’ll move back,” and the next pick is the guy you want. You can always speculate on about where you could have got him. People might say, “Well, they could have moved back later and got him.” Nobody knows that…nobody knows that.

Q: Eli has some great experience on college football’s biggest stage. He was the MVP of the 2016 Fiesta Bowl, he has a Big Ten championship, he has a college football national championship. How much did that play into your decision?

A: All that’s part of the equation, but what he does on the field, how he played, he’s a big time player, big time program. He’s 20, he’s got a huge upside, he was the highest player on our board, it’s a need pick. We’re very happy to have Eli Apple on the New York Giants football team.

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

Q: What was it about Eli Apple that stuck out to you guys?

A: We like Eli just because he’s the number one corner on our board. The guy is big. He’s fast. He’s athletic. He’s clean off the field. He’s got tremendous upside. He played at a high level on a quality defense with a lot of other playmakers and guys that were going to be drafted. We just felt this guy would come in, and with the cornerback group we have, fit in right away and give you some versatility. It was a need position. It was value and need and it worked out good for us.

Q: When did Eli first catch your eye?

A: In the fall, when you go to Ohio State, you know you’re coming there for some seniors, but you’re coming for this star-studded class of juniors that they have there that are coming off the board and more to come. You’ve got your eye on them, and then obviously once he declares, then you hit it hard. We’ve got three area guys going to Ohio State. I’ve been there for the Pro Day, Combine, and the whole deal. He’s been vetted thoroughly.

Q: Was there a specific game when you were there that stuck out to you at all?

A: No. Practice was my first exposure to him.

Q: Is Eli a guy that can play in the slot right away or is he an outside guy?

A: No. He can do both. The guy can bend. He’s very flexible. However Spags wants to use those guys, it’s up to him. But I think all three of those guys can give you a little something different. I’m talking about the two starters we have and now Eli. We’ve got some big, athletic, fast guys.

Q: With the way the league is throwing the ball, is it almost a necessity to have three guys who can play corner?

A: For sure. What is it up to, 60% now, that teams are in three wide or more? So your third corner is essentially a starter now and that’s the way you’ve got to look at it. A guy like Eli, with size, is almost more than a third corner. You can use him in different ways.

Q: What do you think when you hear the cooking comment about Eli?

A: It’s ridiculous. You look at players and you scout them for the qualities that are important. Somebody asking about cooking is ridiculous.

Q: You said you’d use him in different ways. Do you see him at the line of scrimmage?

A: Spags was excited. Our corners coach was excited because he’s got a really good feel for the game. I’m sure in different packages we can move those guys around. This guy, although he’s only played two years, has a really good feel. He’s not raw in terms of his football mind. His film study is excellent as far as analyzing the game on the tape. He studies tons of film. He’s got a smart football mind.

Q: He didn’t have a high interception number the past year. Does that bother you at all and how does that factor in?

A: No. Sometimes stats lie. There’s true stats and when you watch the film, there’s production. So stat production and then real production. If you watch this guy, he can lock people down and they don’t even throw his way. Whereas you have some corners where balls just fall on them and they could be standing there and balls fall on them. The guy that set an NCAA record in interceptions last year went undrafted. We think (Eli’s) production was more so shutting people down as opposed to getting interceptions.

Q: How were his ball skills when you saw him at the combine?

A: Really good.

Q: Was he destined to be here as the other Eli?

A: We’ll see. Hopefully he makes a name for himself. He’s got the perfect name for New York and here.

Q: Was that a factor in picking him?

A: Of course. Just like the cooking was and ironing and laundry.

Q: You joke about that, but how much of a concern is it when you draft a kid who is that young?

A: This guy came from a good family, went to college and we’re asking about cooking. We’re talking about practice… Come on. The guy plays football. He shows up to practice. He goes to class. He’s got great parents and we’re talking about cooking? It’s not a factor at all. It’s that he does things that are football related that work out.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO: (Video)

McAdoo: Hope you are all doing well tonight. [It is an] exciting time for us.  [We] drafted a young man, Eli Apple, have a chance to bring him home, exciting time, young player, 20 won’t be 21 until, I think, August 9th. [He is a] combative, physical corner who interviewed great. [He] tackled well on tape. We like his size, we like his length, good ball skills — that showed up, which is something that he is working on, and we are excited to get him in here.

Q: What was the experience like for you watching everything happen in the nine picks before you?

A: That was exciting. I mean it is like anything else, you go through the process, trust your board, you see how things come off and you hope you have somebody sitting up there you like when it comes time to pick, and we obviously did and we are excited we have Eli.

Q: It did not look from an outside perspective that things went according to plan. Is this a scenario you planned for?

A: We planned to pick the highest guy on the board and Eli is a guy who is an outstanding young man, high character, good football player, his best days are ahead of him as a player and we are excited to have him.

Q: When you have a young guy, do you give him a little bit of a longer leash when you coach them up because they may not be as developed as a 22 or 23 year old?

A: He is young but he is mature. He showed that in the interview where he could — he did a great job communicating with us about football, about things that weren’t about football, about his personal life. He did a great job when the film was on. He can jump on the board and communicate that way, so he is a mature young man who comes from an outstanding program that has a lot of great players and he shined there.

Q: His interception total went down this year. Were people staying away from him or what?

A: That is a good question. I think he has some things that he needs to work on. I think he shows that he has the ball skills to do it. It is tough when you are playing press man coverage to intercept the ball if you are playing a man not with vision. When you play with vision, it is a lot easier to intercept the ball than it is when you are playing press man. That is where we like him. When he learns to catch the flash of the ball a little bit better, which he will and he showed he improved on, he will have more opportunities for picks, for sure.

Q: Do you see his skills as somebody who can play in the slot?

A: He can play in a variety of roles for us. We will take a look at him everywhere and we are not going to pencil him into any role right now. We are going to get him in here, get a feel for his skill set — he will be in here for two weeks in phase two after this week. We will get him in the rookie minicamp and he will have an opportunity to get out there versus Frank Air in phase two and work on his skills that way, without anyone across from him, and then we will get a chance to look at him there.

Q: Is he similar to DRC in any way?

A: I think they are a little bit different of a player. He may like to press a little bit more but I think he is a — I’m not going to compare him to anybody at this point but I think he is a young, combative, physical guy. He likes to tackle, he can make plays pressuring off the backside edge to the boundary. He is aggressive in the run game and again, it is hard to find guys of that size, that young, that have his skill set.

Q: You mentioned a few times how well he interviewed. The one anonymous scout stated that his life skills weren’t great. Are you telling us that that was not your experience with him?

A: As far as the life skills, I am not sure what you are referring to. I just know from the interview, I thought he did an outstanding job at the interview. He was very well read, he knew football, he got ball and that was important to us, and he seemed like a high character young man and I’m sure he is and we look forward to getting him in here.

Q: Was there any temptation from you to maybe roll the dice based on how crazy those first nine picks were?

A: No, I think you trust your board and we got exactly what we wanted, where we wanted.

Q: What was your interaction with him during the process? Where did you meet him, where did you talk to him and did you send someone to go work him out at Ohio State?

A: Yeah, we have had plenty of opportunities to look at him. We viewed him in a bunch of different situations and at a bunch of different locations and he made a great impression on us.

Q: You personally met with him multiple times?

A: We had a variety of looks at him at a variety of different locations and he made a great impression.

MEDIA Q&A WITH ELI APPLE:

Q: Did you think the Giants at number 10 could be a possibility?

A: Not really, honestly.  They talked to me one time at the combine, but that was about it. It’s kind of crazy to see myself on the screen (at) like number 10 and all that stuff, but I’m excited.

Q: You’re going to have a chance to work with a great coaching staff here in New York. Who have you talked to so far and how confident are you that you can contribute immediately to this team?

A: I’m very confident. I talked to the defensive coordinator and a couple of the other guys as well on the phone. They’re just very excited to have me come, and I am as well.

Q: How does it feel to be part of something that’s absolutely historic right now going on at Ohio State? So many guys being picked in the first round here…

A: It’s the greatest feeling. Those are guys that you battle with, guys that have just been through so much. So to see us succeed right now and go through all this good stuff is a great celebration.

Q: I know it’s 90 minutes or so from where you grew up, but you’re kind of coming home.

A: I know.

Q: Did you think about that at all?

A: Yeah, that was like the first thing I thought about. When I saw them calling me and it was a New Jersey number, it looked kind of familiar. I didn’t know if I had to pick it up. I was like, “Oh my goodness, this is probably one my friends trying to prank call me.” My mom was like, “Yeah, don’t pick it up.” My coach was like, “What you mean? Pick it up.” So I pick it up and it was one of the Giants coaches and I was very happy.

Q: When you picked it up first were you worried it could still be a prank?

A: Yeah, I was just a little guarded like, “Okay, this better be a coach or something.” I didn’t know who it was, but then it was the dude from the Giants, so I was very happy.

Q: Who was it? Do you remember who it was?

A: I believe it was the head coach, McAdoo.

Q: You said you were surprised…did you ever think you’d go this high?

A: I didn’t know where I was going to go, honestly, you hear a lot of things. My sister was telling my all the different stuff, my parents were telling me all this different stuff…you never know. I was just playing it by ear, just expecting everything.

Q: How do you see yourself fitting in right away with this team and this defense? Have you given yourself an opportunity to look over the depth chart, look at the names, see the guys who are here?

A: Yeah, I got it. It’s DRC, it’s going to be Janoris Jenkins. I’m excited to get with those guys and really get to work and try to build a great secondary and be legendary, that’s the goal.

Q: You had a couple of sort of weird controversial things come up in your pre-draft process back at the Combine and then again yesterday. What was it like to go through that and be at the center of those couple of things?

A: It’s all good. That’s the part of the process, I knew it was going to be crazy. I didn’t think it was going to be like this crazy, but now that it’s over, I’m happy. I can’t wait to start playing football and do something I actually love to do, so I’m excited.

Q: What’d you think of the cooking comment when you first saw it?

A: I just laughed at it…it was something very funny. You don’t think too much of it, it’s just something funny, I guess. It’s whatever.

Q: Do you know where that came from? Did you mention that to anybody in an interview or something?

A: No, I never talked about it. I never talked about it. It’s weird.

Q: You’re from Voorhees…were you an Eagles fan?

A: I was not an Eagles fan, I was kind of a fan of a lot of players. My dad was an Eagles fan, he still is a little bit, but he’s not going to be for too long. I wasn’t really a fan of anybody.

Q: Have you talked to Urban Meyer at all since the selection?

A: Of course. He was showing me good love, he told me he loved me and everything after I got selected. So yeah, he talked to me.

Q: Have you ever played in the slot. If so, how much and when and where?

A: Only when I was tracking the number one receiver. So I played it a couple times, and that’s something I can be comfortable in. As long as I’m out there on the field playing man or playing anything—just playing corner, playing football—I’m cool.

Q: They joked about your name a little bit as being suited for being here, obviously with Eli Manning but also the Big Apple. What are your thoughts about that? I would imagine it would make for some attractive headlines.

A: Yeah, of course. I guess it fit. Changing my name coming out of high school and now being drafted by the New York Giants, going to the Big Apple, it’s definitely going to mean a lot.

Q: The NFC East has a lot of elite receivers—you’ve got Dez Bryant, you’ve got Jason Witten, you’ve got Pierre Garcon, you’ve got Jordan Reed, you’ve got Jordan Matthews. How do you think playing in the Big Ten against some pretty good offenses prepared you for that?

A: That definitely will prepare me a lot, just going against great guys, especially in practice as well, like Michael Thomas. A lot of the guys in the Big Ten, they’re physical and that’s how the receivers in the NFC East are. I think I’ll be ready.

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2nd Round – WR Sterling Shepard, 5’10, 194lbs, 4.43, University of Oklahoma
Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma Sooners (November 21, 2015)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SCOUTING REPORT: The 5’10”, 194-pound Shepard may lack ideal size, but he was arguably the best slot wide receiver available in the draft. Shepard is a very strong, extremely quick, and super-productive receiver with good speed. He plays bigger than his size due to his strength and excellent leaping ability. Shepard is an excellent route runner who knows how to get open. Sudden and creates separation. He is tough, fearless, and super-competitive. He attacks the football and has excellent hands. Runs well after the catch. Shepard has an outstanding work ethic and plays with a chip on his shoulder. He has experience returning punts.

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

Reese: Sterling Shepard, wide receiver, Oklahoma. Slot receiver. Has some return specialist to him. Terrific competitor. Just everything you want in a slot wide receiver. Our coaches believe he can play on the outside as well. The highest player on our board. I know you guys think I’m kidding when I say that, but highest player on our board, and an easy pick for us. Had a couple more names around that we liked as well, but it was too much value for us to pass this guy up. We think he’s going to come in and he’s NFL-ready —ready to play right now. He’ll be right in our receiver corps, and get a lot of competition in there, we hope. Any questions?

Q: Is he a little bit like a young Victor Cruz?

A: Yeah, some of scouts—that name came up when our scout group talked about him. That’s one of the names that came up, a young Victor Cruz. Very similar in some ways, body type. The one thing about this kid is he’s 5’10 and some change, but his strike zone—what we call a strike zone—is bigger than that. He’s got a 41-inch vertical jump, he’s got big hands…he’s a tenacious slot receiver, run after the catch. Get the ball to him quick and he does some nice things after that catch as well. Yeah, Victor Cruz was one of the names that came up.

Q: Does that worry you at all? Is that anything you guys even think about? Obviously Victor is a smaller guy, Odell plays bigger but under six foot, now a third guy under six foot.

A: You’d like to have all of them 6’5 that run 4.4 and all that, but it’s just not the way it is all the time. I think that there’s a lot of tall receivers in the Hall of Fame that probably never even played in a Super Bowl, if you look at that history. We think he’s plenty tall enough, and we think he’s a terrific young receiver.

Q: You said he’s NFL-ready…what are some of the things he has picked up to be able to play?

A: He plays in the slot…he’s just crafty and knows how to get open in his routes. He has the quickness, the explosion in his route, the run after the catch, and the toughness to go over the middle, those kinds of things. Good bloodline, too; he’s been around football all his life.

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

Q: What did you like about Sterling Shepard as a player that drew you to him?

A: He’s a guy that you go to Oklahoma, especially over the last few years – you go to certain schools and there are young guys, and you think ‘Who is that guy?’ He’s been that guy at Oklahoma because he’s always made plays. He’s quick, athletic, competitive and savvy. He’s has been a playmaker for them since the time he stepped on campus.

Q: Does his height matter to you and how much do you take that into consideration?

A: You like 6’5”, 200 pounds and run a 4.4 and all that, but this guy overcomes his lack of height with his other skills. He’s got a 41-inch vertical. He’s competitive to the ball. His catch radius is bigger – he plays bigger than his actual size. His catch radius is where he can go up and get the ball. So short receivers who play small are our concern. Short receivers who play big are not a concern.

Q: On tape he looks very tough, like he could break a tackle. Do you see that as well?

A: He’s very tough. That’s the knock on the little guys. They’re tough, but can they play big? He does both. He is very tough. He’ll go inside with no fear, catch the ball, take the hit, make guys miss and keep going.

Q: Do you think his lack of height kept him out of the first round?

A: Maybe, it might have been a factor.

Q: He’s not a skinny guy, right?

A: He’s rocked up. He’s not a frail, short guy. He’s thick and muscled up.

Q: Is he the type of guy to run the entire route tree?

A: Yes, he runs it all. The offense they run at Oklahoma, he runs all the routes, unlike some other college systems where they run up the field and turn around. This guy runs an NFL route tree.

Q: Everyone is saying he’s a young Victor Cruz, who wasn’t drafted. Do you see that?

A: It’s been thrown around. It’s been in our meetings. The comparison has come up. The stature, the quickness, the toughs, the ‘make you miss’ – those things are very similar. But I never like to say guys are the next somebody or compare them like that. But I can definitely see why the comparisons are made.

Q: You said that Shepard was the one you wanted. Were the first eight who went ahead of him not as important to you as he was?

A: All of the players are important. We stacked the board the way we like the guys and the way we think they’re going to fall. Obviously the first round is kind of predictable. The second round is predictable. But once you start getting into the third round, it just goes all over the place. But we stack our guys and say: first round, we like this group of guys, second round we like this guy. But coming into today, this was a guy we really liked to get.

Q: What does it say about how the league has changed, when your first two picks are nickel corner back and slot receiver?

A: It’s basketball on grass. Guys throw the ball. You need athletes getting in space. You still need to block. You’ve got to protect. But the more athletes you have out there, the better. It’s not ground and pound anymore. We throw the ball and a lot of teams do that.

Q: Was Shepard the top-rated receiver you had on your board since the start of the draft?

A: Probably not.

Q: Was this a guy you had your eye on prior to this year’s draft process?

A: Yes. He’s a senior, which is rare. You never see a top player stay for all four years. He had a nice body of work, as opposed to a junior who does one year and comes out of nowhere. This guy has done it for a few years. So when you go to Oklahoma, you always hear about Sterling Shepard – the guy who makes plays.

Q: Do you wait for positioning as you move along in the draft to get a specific position player?

A: We always try to match the need and the value, so hopefully we have a group of guys of equal value and need. We’ll take those guys.

Q: Did someone from the scouting department see all of Oklahoma’s games last season? Either in person or on film?

A: Yes, throughout our process, we had three scouts that go there. We break it down to early, middle and late, where our scouts go in and watch film that particular time of year. I immerse myself in the tape; Jerry, the receivers coach, as well.  We’ve pretty much seen anything this guy has done.

Q: Was there any particular game that made him pop out?

A: The Tennessee game. That’s a quintessential game if you want to see what he’s all about. They were down and he’s making big touchdowns at the end to win the game.

Q: How instrumental was Ben McAdoo in the process given he’s an offensive coach?

A: No more than any other one. He was instrumental in that he liked him, which makes it good.

Q: Do you see Shepard augmenting or helping a guy like Odell Beckham Jr. go to another level?

A: I hope so. The more playmakers you have around a guy like Odell, the better. You want to double Odell, this guy will kill you. If he’s healthy, that’s a nice scenario for us.

Q: Is the goal of the draft to find a guy to complement Odell?

A: We definitely had our eye on the receiver position.

Q: Does it concern you that a guy you had your eye on has a big Senior Bowl week?

A: Without a doubt. That’s happened in the past, where we think we had a guy who wasn’t as highly rated as you think he is and then he blows up at the combine or the Senior Bowl. Then everyone jumps on him.

Q: Do you hope that doesn’t happen when you have a guy you like?

A: Yes, for sure, especially the combine. You like a guy, then he blows it out and becomes a combine superstar. Then it’s over with for you.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO: (Video)

McAdoo: Hope is everyone is well tonight. We got a great pick tonight, Sterling Shepard, tremendous young man, high character, plays the game the right way, plays the game the way it should be played, feisty player, can separate both inside and outside, strong hands, he’ll block you and we’re fortunate to have him, fortunate that he was on the board when he was.

Q: Is there a little Victor Cruz in him?

A: There are times when you see him make some moves inside where you see that strength and that explosiveness that Victor has, yes, but they are different players.

Q: Is he a classic example of a player who plays bigger than his size?

A: Absolutely. He has a bigger catch radius than someone who is 5’10. He has big hands, so he is not afraid to reach out and pluck it away from his body and he is very confident after the catch.

Q: Does he remind you of anyone who has played or currently plays in the NFL?

A: There are some similarities between he and Victor [Cruz]. There are some similarities that I have seen with some of the guys I have coached in the past in Green Bay. He is a high character guy and when you take a look, there may be a little Randall Cobb in him, you see that. He will reach back and pluck the ball the way James Jones did a little bit in Green Bay in the past, so he has that in him; strong, confident hands as far as being a hands catcher but there are some guys out there that he reminds you of.

Q: Is he mostly a slot guy?

A: No, he is like the rest of the guys we have. You look at Odell, he can play inside and outside and Victor can play inside and outside, as well, and Sterling is no different that way. He has been productive in the past on the outside, this year he played more on the inside but they need to be flexible that way and they are definitely bright enough to do that and he certainly fits that role for us.

Q: Is it mandatory for him to contribute as a rookie being a 2nd round pick?

A: Well, he is going to get an opportunity to compete just like everybody else and the cream will rise to the top there.

Q: You obviously mentioned Cruz and Odell. Can you see those three on the field at the same time?

A: Yeah, absolutely. We play a lot of receivers and we like to use a lot of different guys there. Dwayne Harris factors there as well. He had a nice year. Geremy Davis is coming along, Myles [White] has done some good things for us and there are a lot of guys who are in the mix as far as that goes and the more the merrier, the better the competition.

Q: Does it make it harder for teams to match up when you have three guys who can play all of the positions?

A: It gives you more flexibility. Obviously, Odell is a difference-maker and Odell is a guy that is going to play inside and outside, he is going to be on the single side, he is going to be to the three-receiver side, he is going to be in the backfield, he is going to be a little bit of everywhere, so the other positions have to have flexibility.

Q: How important was it for you to get a compliment to Odell in this draft?

A: We had the minicamp last week. We have confidence in the guys that are already in the locker room and we expect that they will continue to push each other. They are certainly not going to make it easy on Sterling and that is how we want it, we want competition in that room.

Q: You would have been alright going at it with what you had if the draft had unfolded that way?

A: Absolutely.

Q: What do you find are some of the toughest things receivers have to pick up and learn as they come into the NFL?

A: Well, I think the offenses are different from where they are coming from. He has been maybe in a little bit more of a pro style type offense than some that we see. There will certainly be a little bit of a learning curve for him so that is probably the number one adjustment. We are a little bit different than maybe most because we will spend a lot of time in the no-huddle, so that may help him with the learning curve a little bit. The defenses that he is going to see. He is going to see a lot of big, physical, gifted athletes playing the corner spot. That will be a big adjustment for any receiver coming into the league.

Q: Sterling had some experience at Oklahoma on punt return. Do you envision him fulfilling that role in New York?

A: We will certainly add him to the mix there. He will be a guy that is going to get some opportunities there, yes.

Q: You said the no-huddle with help him a little bit?

A: Yeah, I think it streamlines things as far as the information that they get and how they get it. It is a little more visual than it is verbal and some guys learn a little easier that way.

Q: He made a big jump between 2014 and 2015. Is there anything that you saw on film with that? Maybe a better quarterback?

A: I think the natural maturation of a young player and their quarterback play was better this year. That is a good point.

Q: How is he as a blocker?

A: He gets after you. I like that. He is a complete player. He is not a finesse guy by any stretch of the imagination.

MEDIA Q&A WITH STERLING SHEPARD:

Q: When you found out you were drafted by the Giants, how much did you think about playing with Odell Beckham Jr?

A: I mean that’s one of the guys I look at. I look at (Beckham’s) game every week and I try to pattern my game after him. I was excited to be able to get drafted by the New York Giants and be able to play alongside him, as well as Victor Cruz—another guy that I look at, too. I’m excited.

Q: Odell Beckham recently tweeted out that the Giants got themselves a good receiver or something like that. How does that make you feel to get the Odell Beckham Jr seal of approval?

A: That’s always good. He’s now a teammate so I’m excited to be alongside of him, like I said. To have his approval is great, it’s a great feeling.

Q: How much contact did you have with the New York Giants coming into tonight? Did they talk to you at all at the Combine at all? Did you interview with them?

A: No, that’s the funny part. I hadn’t talked to them very much at all. I went to the Combine, I went to the Senior Bowl and I hadn’t talked to them at all. I think I may have filled out a questionnaire, but that was about it.

Q: You had some good times over at Oklahoma…you had one of college football’s best coaches, Bob Stoops, helping you out down there. How did it feel to play at such an elite program, a program that was nationally recognized and made the college football playoff? How did the experience at Oklahoma prepare you for the NFL?

A: It’s a huge program, and it comes along with a lot of history. A lot of the guys that came before you that made a name for that program, so it was an honor to play there. I got to play after my father and wear the same number as him. It was an honor to put that jersey on every week and go out and give them my all. I loved it, I loved my experience at Oklahoma.

Q: A lot of people here with the Giants know Victor Cruz very well and say you remind them a lot of him. Do you see some of that?

A: Yeah. Like I said, that’s one of the guys that I look at a lot. Victor Cruz is a great receiver…we’re kind of the same size, same stature. I definitely look up to that guy. I can see some similarities.

Q: Do you consider yourself a slot receiver or do you think you’re a guy who can play on the outside? What would you call yourself?

A: Honestly, I play so big, I don’t limit myself to just the inside. A lot of people think that that’s all I can do is play inside just because of my size, but I think guys like Odell and Victor have proven that that’s not the case. I’m definitely one of those guys that can be bounced around and move all around.

Q: Is that something that motivates you — that people look at your size and pigeon hole you as just a slot receiver?

A: Yeah, man. I listen to it and I take it in and move on because I know what I can do. Just gives me a little bit more fire.

Q: Do you know Odell? Do you have any relationship with him? Have you ever met him?

A: No…I mean we have some mutual friends—Kenny Stills—those guys know each other. But no, I’ve never met him or anything like that.

Q: What do you anticipate with that when you do get to meet him?

A: It’s going to be like we’re going straight to work. Everybody is ready to work. I feel like we’ll click when I get there.

Q: In what ways do you feel like you benefitted from going all the way through your senior year as a player and a student-athlete?

A: One, I got my degree…that’s one of the things I’ve always wanted to accomplish since I was a little kid, is graduating from Oklahoma, so I was able to accomplish that. Then I got to mature just as a young man. I got to accomplish those two things. As a player, I got to get bigger and stronger and faster. Coach Smitty does a great job with the weight program and the conditioning, so I just developed.

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3rd Round – S Darian Thompson, 6’2”, 208lbs, 4.65, Boise State University
Darian Thompson, Boise State Broncos (January 30, 2016)

Darian Thompson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SCOUTING REPORT: The 6’2”, 208-pound Thompson is a big, physical safety who lacks ideal overall athleticism and speed. Big hitter and aggressive in run support. He is an intelligent, disciplined, instinctive center-fielder against the pass who makes plays on the football (19 career interceptions). Plays faster than he times – smooth with no wasted motion. Hard working and competitive. Team leader.

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

Reese: Darian Thompson, free safety, Boise State. Big kid, center fielder, checks a lot of boxes for us. We really like how he makes plays on the football. We think he’s a solid tackler back there. Makes the calls. Captain. High test score. A lot of things to like about him. Any questions?

Q: Was Darian once again at the top of your board?

A: There were a couple of guys we talked about right here with this pick…a couple guys.

Q: Did you like him because how he would team up with Landon Collins?

A: Well, we think he’s a free safety. He makes the calls back there for his team, he’s a ball hawk back there. We think he’s going to create a lot of competition in the secondary at that safety position. Looking forward to getting him in here.

Q: Does he free up Landon though to come down to the box?

A: Well, that’s up to the coaches…that’s up to Ben (McAdoo) and Steve (Spagnuolo), whatever they want to do with him. I think his skillset is a free safety skillset. I do think he’s a tough tackler, can come down in the box. I think he’s interchangeable. I think he’s one of those safeties that can do both.

Q: You don’t seem like you have a lot of guys on the roster with that kind of productivity as far as the interceptions, the guy gets the ball. Do you see that translating to the next level?

A: Well, we sure hope so. Never translate until you get them out there and they have to do it. But we sure think he has a skillset to do that. Again, he checks a lot of boxes for us.

Q: You said there were a couple guys in this one…what was it about him that sort of pushed him over the top?

A: It was just the guys we have there…we thought where we are right now and the skillset we’re looking for, we thought he had the best skillset at this point.

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

Q: Did you see Darian Thompson in person?

A: I saw him in practice in the Senior Bowl and in the Combine.

Q: What makes him different from the other guys you have that are going to compete for that free safety spot.

A: We have a nice mix of guys who all have something different. Nat’s a box guy and real competitive. Mykkele’s a free range guy. This guy’s a free safety who can also play strong. He plays that way there. He has good ball skills, feel for the game, competitiveness and size. So they all give you something different.

Q: Do you project how he will play and how he will play off of Landon?

A: Sure. What we like is that this guy has played strong safety and the linebacker position, so they move him all around. His versatility definitely was intriguing.

Q: When it comes down to final two guys at the end, for you, what was the determining factor?

A: When you talk them through, you try to highlight the positives. And it comes down to who has the most positives in their profile on and off the field.

Q: I’m not sure of the history of all the other safeties, but this guy has more interceptions than any of them.

A: Yes, he has a ton of them, more than a lot of guys who have played.

Q: You talked yesterday about interceptions being a random statistic. What makes this guy different?

A: This guy’s a ball hawk. His instincts are what separates. He can anticipate where a route is, where a ball is going and he jumps on it. And that’s what distinguishes him with making interceptions.

Q: How is he in coverage in general?

A: You don’t want him covering quick slot guys. He’s better in zone using the field. He’s got some range, so that’s the optimal way to use him.

Q: Is it hard to rate him because she’s not a big conference guy?

A: Boise State is a big time program. They’re a different mid-major. They’re big time, so they’ve had players, first round picks, the whole deal. They’re up there with all of the other upper echelon teams.

Q: He was used as a linebacker in college?

A: Well, not a real linebacker, but nowadays because so many teams play spread, they’ll put their safeties down in maybe a rover or a spur – every team calls it something different, so they used him in that kind of role. It’s not a true linebacker position. It’s just a hybrid safety/linebacker role.

Q: Can you see him doing that in the NFL?

A: Sure.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO: (Video)

McAdoo: Darian Thompson, another good, smart player from a winning program, fortunate to have him, excited for him to get here.

Q: When you see 19 career interceptions, that must make your eyes light up a little?

A: Yeah, he is very instinctive. He has tremendous ball skills, but the instincts and the twitch make it happen for him.

Q: Is there a flip side to that? Sometimes a ball-hawking safety can be a gambling safety. Does he gamble sometimes?

A: I think it is more of instincts. He may have a little bit of a gambler in him, but I think it is more off of instincts.

Q: What is your role here with guys in the middle rounds? How much have you conversed with them?

A: It is more off of film study with Darian. I studied Darian on a couple different occasions with some film off of a point of attack tape and off of game film and he is someone that jumped out at me. High character guy, good ball skills, he can tackle in the open field and he plays in a variety of roles. He can play back in the post, he can play back in split safety looks and he can play down in the slot — he did that a lot in their fire zones.

Q: Jerry talked about there being a couple guys there with this pick. What differentiated Darian from those other picks?

A: Well, we had a cluster of guys there we were looking at. To me, the instincts, the twitch, very smart player, high character guy, fits what we are looking for that way and the ability to get the ball back to the offense and change the game that way. The game is about the ball and he can get the offense the ball.

Q: Are you hoping that if his skillset translates quickly enough that you can move Landon Collins more to strong safety?

A: We need to get them both in here and look at them. I think Landon had a nice camp this week. [He] did some nice things back deep and we feel that he is growing and doing a nice job there improving and I don’t think you can say always and never in this business.

Q: Is this any type of statement about the other guys you have at safety?

A: Oh, we have a lot of young guys in the safety mix and quite frankly, we haven’t seen them. They have been nicked up. They basically had a medical redshirt type year last year and it is good to get them back out there, they are working to get back out and get back out 100% so we are chomping at the bit to look at those guys and Darian is a guy we are going to throw into the mix and let them all compete.

Q: When you say he has a twitch, what do you mean?

A: He can stick his foot in the ground and go zero to sixty real quick.

Q: We saw Mykkele Thompson playing in the slot the other day. How much of that is planned for him and how much of that is because you guys are short on corners?

A: Probably a combination of both. We are going to look at guys in a variety of different roles. Mykklele is a guy who has played corner and has played safety and it is always nice to have some flexibility and versatility there.

Q: Is Darian as big as you are going to want him?

A: I think he is a pretty good size right now but I think that when they get here and they obviously have training table where they are coming from at Boise, but when they have a chance to get a little bit of money in their pocket and eat properly, their body composition usually changes a little bit.

Q: Can you use him perhaps as a surprise pass rusher?

A: We are going look at him in a variety of roles right there. I am not going to give you the keys to the kingdom as far as how he is going to show up on game day, but yeah, he is a versatile guy.

MEDIA Q&A WITH DARIAN THOMPSON:

Q: Darian, congratulations.

A: I appreciate that, thank you very much. I’m extremely blessed and excited to get out there and get to work.

Q: Are you at home right now?

A: I am, I’m in California—a little ways away, but I’m ready…I’m ready to make that trip.

Q: Where were you when you found out that you had been selected?

A: I’m back at home in Lancaster, California in the backyard at my girlfriend’s just wondering when the phone call was going to come through, and it happened. It’s truly a blessing and I’m extremely excited about it.

Q: How often did you meet with the Giants prior to tonight?

A: A couple of times, not too often. Not too often, but a couple of times. When I did, it went well. I’m excited that they pulled the trigger on me. I’m sure that they’re excited as well.

Q: If you had to summarize your skillset, what makes you unique from other candidates?

A: First of all, I’m an extremely smart football player. I know how to study film and diagnose plays and put myself in the right spot in order to make plays and make turnovers. I think that’s what I do best. I have a knack for the football, and I feel like an interception is just as much as a touchdown, so that’s what I’m going after.

Q: They used you in a lot of different ways when you were in college. Did you have a specific niche, if you will, out of all the things they asked you to do that you really liked?

A: No, not specific things that I liked. I honestly just like being out there on the field, being able to compete and have fun with the game that I love. So there’s no one thing that I liked over another, just being out there is perfectly fine with me.

Q: A lot of times when somebody gets picked, there’s maybe a veteran starter or somebody who’s already entrenched in that job. It seems like at this point it’s pretty wide open for you. What are your thoughts coming into this season and into camp once you get here?

A: Like I said, I’m extremely blessed to be there. When I get in there, have my best foot forward and just continue to work. I believe I have a great work ethic and nothing’s going to change from that, so whatever happens when I get there, it just happens. I’m excited; I’m going to give it all I have and see what happens when I get out there.

Q: Was that depth chart something that you noticed when the Giants called or when you were thinking about one of 32 landing spots?

A: It kind of didn’t really matter…because I know the type of player that I am. I know that I’m going to come in there and I’m going to work, regardless of whether there’s a veteran in front of me or not. I know I’ll be able to contribute to the team in multiple ways, so I was happy with that.

Q: Have you had a chance to watch the Giants in recent years?

A: I have had a chance to watch the Giants, and they’re always a good football team. To be able to get out there and play with some of those guys that we see all the time on TV and commercials and things like that, and to be a part of the team and to help them achieve their goal of winning the Super Bowl, is just awesome to me.

Q: You were at what is arguably the most renowned mid-major team in the country at Boise State. Can you talk about what it was like being with that team with the national spotlight on you guys? Can you talk about what is probably the biggest lesson you learned in your years with the Broncos?

A: Yeah, Boise State is a great program. Everybody on that team has a chip on their shoulder because they weren’t picked or chosen to go to a bigger school, so everybody has an attitude and everybody has a chip on their shoulder like I was talking about. I still have that chip. Regardless of where I would have gone tonight, or tomorrow, or whenever it would have been, I would have that chip. I’m just excited to bring it to New York. I’m excited to bring it to the Giants and to see what happens from there.

Q: How surprised were you that this ended up being the landing spot?

A: I was pretty surprised. Pretty surprised…and I’m happy. This is the one place I thought before the draft that I could end up, and I’m happy that it happened to be there.

Q: Why’d you think that?

A: Just agent talk and things of that sort. They say, “Maybe this, maybe that.” Nothing’s ever set in stone, and as we see, the draft can go in all different types of ways. I’m happy where I am now, I couldn’t be more excited. Like I said earlier, I’m just ready to get to work.

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4th Round – LB B.J. Goodson, 6’1”, 242lbs, 4.66, Clemson University
B.J. Goodson, Clemson Tigers (December 31, 2015)

B.J. Goodson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SCOUTING REPORT: The 6’1”, 242-pound Goodson has a nice combination of size and strength with just enough overall athleticism. Goodson is a stout, physical run defender who can stack and shed at the point-of-attack. He is also adept at avoiding blockers and getting to the ball carrier. Goodson will hit you and is a strong, reliable tackler. He lacks ideal range, recovery quickness, and closing burst. Though not a strong suite, Goodson is better in coverage than advertised, showing good awareness. He also flashes as a blitzer. Goodson is a smart, tough, consistent player and team leader. Versatile, Goodson can play all three linebacker spots.

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

Reese: B.J. Goodson. Middle linebacker from Clemson. He can actually play all three positions. The thing we like about him is that he’s a football player. He’s a tackling machine, lots of tackles. I think he had 5.5 sacks and a couple of interceptions. He was a really productive player. I think he’ll create some competition in the linebacker level.

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

Ross: B.J. (Goodson) is, I am sure you heard, competitive, tough guy, plays the game the right way, has played multiple positions there, probably best as a middle backer going forward for us. You know, thick, strong body. [He has a special] teams temperament. We had him in on a visit and he did an excellent job. He handled himself very well and just a pro there at Clemson.

Q: With B.J. Goodson, does he remind you of anybody? Maybe a Jon Goff?

A: Goff wouldn’t have come to mind, but not really, no, not really.

Q: When you are talking about him, he really only started one year. Is he a guy that you think can come in and play immediately?

A: Well, it is interesting at Clemson. Shaq Lawson was a one-year starter; Kevin Dodd was a one-year starter, Vic Beasley. For some reason, even their better players only start one year. Some guys are late developers, so what he did this year, the production, the leadership on and off the field, he has the mindset and the temperament to come in here and compete. The guy wants it and so is he going to start? I don’t know, but he is going to push people and he is going to work his butt off to get on to the field.

Q: You don’t think the gap of being NFL-ready is large for him?

A: No. Temperament, mindset, football intelligence, competitiveness, he is NFL-ready in those aspects. He is not raw by any stretch of the imagination. The guy plays the game the right way and knows how to play the game.

Q: The thing that was missing last year seemed to be the ability to cover underneath in passing routes. With what you took, did you address that?

A: Well, you can’t answer every problem with one pick or two picks. So is he that guy? He has the smarts. Do we have other people that can do that? Sure. Do we have other additions that can help out? Yeah. We will see how Spags draws it up and see what players he puts on the field and we will go from there.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO: (Video)

McAdoo: B.J. Goodson. Talented linebacker. Made a move from outside to inside, he can play all three spots if you need him to. Very productive, sound football player.

Q: What’s Goodson’s ideal position in your mind? What’s his ideal role?

A: I think middle of the three.

Q: What is it about him that makes him a middle linebacker to you?

A: I think he’s smart, I think he has good instincts, good wrap tackler, can be physical between the tackles.

MEDIA Q&A WITH LINEBACKER B.J. GOODSON:

Q: Where were you when you learned the news that you were going to be a New York Giant?

A: I’m home right in Lamar, South Carolina. I’m just excited, man…excited and ready to go to work.

Q: You visited the Giants—pre-draft visit, correct?

A: Yes sir, yes sir.

Q: What was your takeaway, your feeling after you left the facility?

A: Definitely wanted to be there. Definitely a legendary place…a place where football is very, very important. They talk about the New York Football Giants, man, and finding out how much that means to the city and the community…it’s really, really big.

Q: You talk about going to a place where a city is beloved…you come from a college where football is almost like a religion down there. What was it like playing at Clemson? What was it like helping Clemson rise on the national stage and getting them eventually to the national title game?

A: It was destined to happen. It was empowering, as far as my leadership and helping those guys win all of the games that we won and having the phenomenal year that we had. Definitely just a blessing. I really, really enjoyed the ride. I’m ready to see where this journey will take me in New York. I’m ready.

Q: The draft list had you listed as an outside linebacker. Is that what you would classify yourself as or you think you’re a guy who can play inside as well?

A: Inside as well, can play inside as well. Great help on special teams. I’m ready to get with the veterans and get up under their wings and learn as much as I can and get ready to help that team get ready to win another Super Bowl.

Q: When you visited, did the Giants mention to you what they kind of envisioned you as?

A: Definitely a great linebacker. They saw me helping out on special teams. The special teams coach really likes me a lot. I really, really enjoyed the relationship with the linebackers coach. I really, really just fell in love with everything on my visit.

Q: Can you cover in the pass?

A: Yes sir, definitely. At Clemson I played as a three-down linebacker. It’s normal, it’s natural to me. To me, it’s not a question, just something I want to work on every day and just something to get better at, perfecting my craft. You can never be too satisfied or never not be hungry, there’s always room for improvement.

Q: What was behind the move to MIKE linebacker? Was that because there was an opening there? Is that where they thought you were a better fit for this past year?

A: No sir, that was home for me. I actually moved out to outside linebacker my junior year because Coach saw a fit. He saw how dedicated I was, he saw the talent in me, and he wanted to get me on the field. With having Stephone and Tony Steward, having those guys out there, just being able to get me out there with those guys. So I learned the SAM linebacker position, and then once Stephone left, I went back home to the MIKE position and it played out from there.

Q: What was it like working with a personality like Dabo Swinney?

A: Oh man, brings great, great energy. Fun, fun, fun coach to play for. That guy, he’s phenomenal, he’s about the right things. I don’t have nothing but great things to say about Coach Swinney. He’s a great guy off the field, I love Coach Swinney.

Q: What does B.J. stand for?

A: B.J. is a name that was given to me from my mother. My first name is Billy, my middle name is Javaris. My mother, she just wanted to call me B.J. It was something that just stuck with me from a kid.

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5th Round – RB Paul Perkins, 5’10”, 208lbs, 4.53, UCLA
Paul Perkins, UCLA Bruins (September 12, 2015)

Paul Perkins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SCOUTING REPORT: Fourth-year junior. The 5’10”, 208-pound Perkins lacks ideal size and speed but he is a super-productive and competitive play-maker with excellent vision, balance, patience, and instincts. He can make something out of nothing in tight quarters and bursts through the hole. Perkins is very quick and elusive with superb change-of-direction ability. Perkins is a tough runner who plays bigger than his size, but he lacks power. Perkins is also very productive catching the ball out of the backfield. Team leader.

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

Reese: Running back Paul Perkins from UCLA. All-around player. He can run it. He can catch it. He can block. He’ll play on all of the core teams, just like Goodson will, as well. Solid football player. People say he doesn’t have homerun speed, but I saw him on an 82-yard touchdown against Colorado. Really good, solid football player. I like him a lot. He’s a three-down player.

Q: Where do you stand at running back?

A: We have some good players in there, there’s some good competition and we’ll see where that goes.

Q: Some have likened Paul Perkins to a poor man’s Tiki Barber.

A: I’m not sure about that. We just think he’s a really good football player. We like that he’s going to create some competition in the running back room. That’s a big key on your roster when you can create competition and he’ll help do that.

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

Ross: Paul Perkins, another guy [who is] productive, obviously great pedigree football player, hardest working guy on the team, really good skill set as far as catching the ball out of the backfield. He blocks, makes big plays for them and just another good football player.

Q: On that topic, you have a lot of running backs. What does [Perkins] bring, trait-wise, that you didn’t think you already had?

A: I don’t think it is anything different. I don’t want to say that, but his qualities are: he is a complete back, he has great vision, he has got one-cut quickness, excellent hands, competitive in the blocking game and outstanding off the field, so those were his traits we were attracted by.

Q: It seemed like this was a deep running back draft. How much did that factor into that decision today?

A: It definitely was a deep draft. Maybe not at the top but then later rounds and a lot of successful backs in the league, as you guys know, have been later round picks and he just was there at the time. We felt comfortable taking a guy, the highest rated guy at the time, we felt could help us.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO: (Video)

McAdoo: Paul Perkins, running back from UCLA. He’s a complete back—can carry it, can protect the quarterback and can protect ball, and is good in the passing game.

Q: You talked about the different skills and the different traits your running backs have now. You describe Perkins as a complete back…is that something you felt like you needed to bring in, somebody who can do all the jobs?

A: The two most important things for a running back: number one, protect the ball; number two, protect the quarterback. He certainly fits that role.

Q: You have a crowded group there now. What’s the plan going forward there?

A: We have a lot of competition in the room. We like all those guys, they all have distinct things they do well, and there will be a lot of competition. It will be exciting to watch and see how it unfolds.

Q: Is the running back more of a classic third down back or do you see him as an every down back?

A: No, he can play first, second and third down.

MEDIA Q&A WITH RUNNING BACK PAUL PERKINS:

Perkins: I’m just honored to be here and going to New York. This is awesome. I can’t even put this into words right now.

Q: Did you have any sense it would be the Giants and it would be now?

A: I had no idea. I can’t even really put this into words right now. Sorry if I’m speechless.

Q: What do you think you bring to an NFL team?

A: I think I can bring it all. I can definitely come in there with hard work and definitely come in there with the mentality to improve the team.

Q: How has UCLA head coach Jim Mora Jr. prepared you for the NFL?

A: Our whole coaching staff was NFL-ready and they prepared us very well. All the way from coach Mora to the running backs coach to our (graduate assistants), they all did a tremendous job. I’m thankful for them.

Q: What has your interaction been with the Giants during this process?

A: I only talked to them one time. I think it was last week and they were just checking if this was the right number.

Q: Was that sort of the norm?

A: It was the norm. I was getting a lot of calls from a lot of teams with the same type of questioning. I’m glad I got this one. This is the best one so far.

Q: Someone compared you to a poor man’s Tiki Barber.

A: Tiki Barber is not a bad person to get compared to. He’s been a great running back for a long time. I idolized him growing up and to be compared in the same breath as him is an honor.

Q: Do you see the skill set similarities?

A: We’re similar. I’m not sure how tall or big he was, but I feel like we’re about the same height and we have the same type of abilities.

Q: How much did UCLA use you catching the ball out of the backfield and how much is that a part of your game?

A: I think I can be utilized in the passing game. I just need a team to utilize me like that and I feel like the Giants will use me to my full capabilities.

Q: Are you going to give Owa Odighizuwa a call after you’re done with us?

A: I was actually talking to Owa not too long ago. I FaceTimed him. Now I just can’t wait to go up there.

Q: Did he tell you anything about the Giants?

A: No. He said he would call me back because he had to do something. He’s going to call me back in a little while after I get off the phone with you guys. We’ll chat it up.

Q: You FaceTimed him after you got picked here?

A: I did, right afterwards.

Q: I assume you’re pretty close with him?

A: All of the NFL players do a good job of coming back and talking to the younger players and Owa just happened to be one of the players that helped me and mentored me.

Q: How does it feel to be selected immediately after one of the guys who blocked for you in Caleb Benenoch?

A: It was awesome. I’m honestly speechless right now. I’m feeling great right now.

Q: Do you think you can be an every down, between the tackles runner, as well?

A: Yes sir. I think I can do it all. There’s a lot of great running backs. I feel like I can do it all.

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6th Round – TE Jerell Adams, 6’5”, 247lbs, 4.64, University of South Carolina
Jerell Adams, South Carolina Gamecocks (November 21, 2015)

Jerell Adams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SCOUTING REPORT: The 6’5”, 247-pound Adams is a tall tight end with long arms who needs to add more strength and bulk. Adams has the tools and temperament to develop into a good blocker. He plays with toughness and works to finish his blocks. Adams has good speed for the position and can threaten a defense down the field. He adjusts well to the football, has good hands, and runs well after the catch. Adams is a bit of a developmental project as he does need to work on his route running and overall technique. His work ethic has been questioned. Big upside.

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

Reese: Tight end Jerell Adams from South Carolina. Big kid. Really good down the seam. He can stretch the seam; can stretch the defense down the seam. He’s a better blocker right now than a receiver, but our coaches really liked him. Our scouts liked him. They think he has a nice upside and can work in that tight end group.

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

Ross: Jerell Adams, big, tall, long guy. Fastest tight end in the draft. [It is] rare to see a guy that gives block effort like this guy. You don’t see these guys actually give effort. He does it, he uses his length to get on people, fast down the seam, a little raw on his route running and hands but in the sixth round of the draft a big, fast, competitive guy who is a good person off the field, we thought, was worth a chance.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO: (Video)

McAdoo: Jerell Adams. Explosive in-line type tight end. Can run down the middle of the field and stress the defense out in that matter, and can block in-line.

Q: The tight ends’ blocking was an issue after Daniel Fells went down last season. Do you think Jerell is someone who can hit the ground running as a blocker?

A: There’s always a learning curve coming into this league. Hitting the ground running, that’s tough to say at this point. But getting him in the building next week will obviously help—see where he is and see how he can handle the terminology that we’re going to throw at him. But we certainly feel that he has traits that we can develop into a good in-line player. He also has good speed down the middle of the field, he’s a big target. He has a unique skillset for the position that we like.

MEDIA Q&A WITH TIGHT END JERELL ADAMS:

Q: Did you meet with the Giants at the Senior Bowl or was it later in the process?

A: The last time I met with the Giants was at the combine.

Q: Did you have a good amount of contact with them?

A: I had a formal interview with them and it went great and they said they liked me and they drafted me.

Q: Do you consider yourself an all-around tight end or more of a pass catcher?

A: I feel like I am more of an all-around tight end. I feel like I can block very well and catch very well.

Q: What was your expectation coming into the draft and what was it like having to sit there and wait until this point today?

A: My expectations coming into the draft were just to get drafted. I was blessed to go through the process and I am just happy to have gone through it and to get drafted by the Giants.

Q: Where were you when you found out you were going to become a New York Giant?

A: I was at home, at my mama’s house.

Q: What was the raw feeling you felt when you picked up that phone?

A: It was the best feeling ever. It was a phone call I was waiting for forever. It was a dream come true.

Q: When you look on the surface at your numbers, people don’t see huge numbers. What do you attribute that to?

A: Honestly, I didn’t have the progress yet that I wanted at South Carolina because of the quarterback situation but I felt like I made the best out of it and did what I could do.

Q: How would you describe yourself as a player?

A: I feel like I can block very well and catch very well. My weakness, I would say is me coming out of my breaks out of my routes. I can use some improvement on that but there is always work to be done, no matter how good you may think you are.

Q: You really did well at the combine athletically. Was that one of your goals for this process? To kind of show that your numbers were not indicative of your ability.

A: Yes, sir, that was my goal for the Senior Bowl and the combine, to just show how athletic and how good I felt I was. At the Senior Bowl and combine, I just felt like I had a chance to show them how good I am.

Q: Do you feel like you accomplished what you had to get done?

A: Yes, sir. I felt like I accomplished everything I needed to.

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Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports

QB Josh Woodrum, 6’3”, 231lbs, 4.78, Liberty University (Video) (Since Waived)
Woodrum combines excellent size with good arm strength. Smart, tough, and competitive. Developmental type who did not play in an NFL-style offense and will need a lot of work reading defenses and improving his accuracy. He has decent mobility for his size.

RB Marshaun Coprich, 5’8”, 207lbs, 4.46, Illinois State University (Video)
Coprich lacks ideal size but he is a tough, well-built, instinctive running back with good vision, balance, acceleration, and elusiveness. He lacks power and won’t run through many tackles. Coprich has had some drug issues.

WR K.J. Maye, 5’8”, 191lbs, 4.50, University of Minnesota (Video)
Maye is a very short, but well-built receiver who is more quick than fast. Maye is a good route runner, adjusts well to the football, and has excellent hands. Fearless and very competitive.

WR Roger Lewis, 6’0”, 196lbs, 4.51, Bowling Green State University (Video)
Lewis combines decent size and overall athletic ability. Lewis lacks ideal speed, quickness, and strength, but he makes big plays. Competitive, passionate, productive receiver who adjusts well to the football and has good hands. Film junkie.

WR Darius Powe, 6’3”, 220lbs, 4.49, University of California (Video)
Powe combines excellent size and speed. He caught 47 passes for 560 yards and eight touchdowns his senior season.

TE Ryan Malleck, 6’4”, 249lbs, 4.75, Virginia Tech
Malleck is a tall but thin H-Back type. Malleck is a tough, smart overachiever who plays hard, but lacks bulk strength to be an effective blocker. He is a limited athlete in the passing game, but is a heady receiver with very good hands.

TE Cedrick Lang, 6’7”, 269lbs, 4.95, UTEP (Since Waived)
Former basketball player who only recently switched to football. Superb size but extremely raw. Only played one year of college football, starting one game and finishing the year with only 11 catches for 72 yards and one touchdown. Mainly used as a blocker. Lang could project to offensive tackle.

DE Romeo Okwara, 6’5”, 265lbs, 4.87, University of Notre Dame (Video)
Okwara has excellent size and arm length. He is a good athlete with fine first-step quickness. He looks the part and plays hard. Okwara is physical and an aggressive tackler. He flashes as both a run defender and pass rusher but needs more development. Okwara plays too high and gets hung up on blocks too frequently. He doesn’t appear overly instinctive.

DE Mike Rose, 6’2”, 261lbs, 4.66, North Carolina State University (Video)
Rose lacks ideal height, but he is well-built, strong, and a better athlete than advertised. Rose can set the edge in run defense and really flashes as a pass rusher. Instinctive and plays hard.

DE/LB Ishaq Williams, 6’4”, 253lbs, 4.92, University of Notre Dame
Other than a January all-star game, Williams last played football in 2013 after being implicated in an academic dishonesty scandal at Notre Dame. A good athlete, Williams played both defensive end and linebacker in college.

DT Melvin Lewis, 6’2”, 343lbs, 5.43, University of Kentucky
Mammouth nose tackle who missed half the 2015 season with a broken leg. Team leader and a hard worker.

DT Greg Milhouse, 6’1”, 295lbs, 4.91, Campbell University (Video)
Milhouse is an active, undersized, athletic defensive tackle. He disrupts with a nice combination of quickness and power. Milhouse plays with natural leverage and flashes on the pass rush.

CB Michael Hunter, 6’0”, 186lbs, 4.40, Oklahoma State University
Hunter has a nice combination of size and speed. He is a physical, press corner.

CB Donte Deayon, 5’9”, 158lbs, 4.48, Boise State University (Video)
Deayon is a fluid, dimunitive corner with very good quickness and leaping ability. Tough, confident play-maker. He has experience returning punts.

CB Matt Smalley, 5’10”, 195lbs, 4.40, Lafayette College (Video)
Smalley lacks ideal size but he has good quickness and speed. Smalley has experience returning punts and kickoffs.

S Andrew Adams, 5’11”, 202lbs, 4.54, University of Connecticut (Video)
Adams lacks ideal height and speed but he is a well-built, athletic safety with good quickness. He is a good hitter and tackler. Adams has an instinctive feel for coverage, but needs to be more aggressive in run defense. Active and productive.

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Eric’s Take on the 2016 Draft

To me, in judging this draft, there are two distinct areas of analysis: (1) what transpired in the 1st round and (2) what transpired after that.

When a team drafts in the top 10, the expectation and hope are that the team will acquire an “impact” player, that is, a true difference-maker who is likely to become one of the game’s best at his position. Did the Giants get that type of player in cornerback Eli Apple? Most pundits don’t think so. Many don’t even think he was the best player available at the cornerback position. Only time will tell, but it’s critically important for the future of the Giants that Apple turns out to be a stellar selection.

Let’s breakdown how the Giants came to draft Apple. First of all, the Giants were badly affected by some unfortunate circumstances. The two most-talented linebackers in the draft – Myles Jack and Jaylon Smith – had major injury question marks. In addition, one of the perceived sure-fire top-5 players – Laremy Tunsil – slipped due to some on-field and off-field concerns. And he became a public relations problem with the draft-day release of his drug use.

It is widely assumed that the Giants’ #1 target in the draft was linebacker Leonard Floyd. That had been the word for weeks from sportswriters who cover the team and rumors from those supposedly in the know. The Giants have not since denied those reports and rumors. If he was indeed their target, the telegraphing of the pick came back to haunt them as the Chicago Bears traded ahead of the Giants to take Floyd. There are also conflicting reports if the Giants had any true interest in offensive tackle Jack Conklin, who the Titans traded up to take before the Giants.

My biggest problem with the Giants in this draft? Not keeping their mouths shut. The word was out in 2015 that they wanted Ereck Flowers and the word was out this year that they wanted Floyd. This time it hurt them. Now some may argue that teams would have been able to figure this out on their own. I don’t agree with that. In fact, you can present false narratives to hide or confuse your real intent. Regardless, I think the Giants made the correct decision not to give up another one of their six draft picks to take Floyd – an intriguing pass rusher and cover linebacker, but not a very physical player. It will be interesting to see what kind of pro career Floyd has, however.

So what were the options for the Giants at #10? With Floyd and Conklin gone, the prevailing opinion among pundits and fans was that the Giants would consider Tunsil, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, or possibly even wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. Many fans were probably looking for a trade down.

Going into the draft, I felt the Giants could have used help at every single position other than quarterback and kickers. But I believed the two biggest need areas on the team were wide receiver and cornerback. A quick look at the depth chart would tell you that. Outside of Odell Beckham and a nice 3rd/4th receiver in Dwayne Harris, the Giants had nothing but question marks or “just guys” at wide receiver. And I’ve argued for years that the third cornerback on any team is a de facto starter. That fact is more true in 2016 than ever. In addition, depth at the cornerback position was woefully inadequate with only Trevin Wade, Tramain Jacobs, and Leon McFadden behind the top two corners.

So when the Giants were on the clock, my gut told me they were going to go Hargreaves or Treadwell. Right or wrong (probably wrong), the Giants simply don’t trade down. I didn’t think they would take Tunsil.

Hargreaves was considered by most to be the best cornerback in the draft. But the Giants shocked many by taking Apple, who likely would have gone off of the board fairly quickly after the Giants picked. It’s important to emphasize two things here: (1) the Giants obviously felt Apple was the best cornerback in the draft, and (2) their interest in Apple was not advertised; his name was never connected with the Giants. Indeed, Apple himself said he was shocked the Giants picked him. So while I condemn the Giants for having loose lips with Floyd, I applaud them for keeping their interest in Apple unknown.

Apple is bigger and faster than Hargreaves. Because of that, he has a bigger upside and he matches up better with bigger receivers. Apple is a great kid, an exceptionally hard worker, and a very pesky coverman. The concerns are his grabbiness (he makes a lot of downfield contact), his lack of interceptions, and his lack of physicality as a run defender and tackler. To be frank, I’m not sold on the pick yet. He will forever be judged against Hargreaves, who was taken one pick later, and Tunsil, who was taken three picks later.

It is very hard to complain about the rest of the Giants’ draft. Did they address all of their needs, such as the offensive and defensive lines? No. But the Giants only had five more picks and a ton of needs. The Giants absolutely had to get at least one QUALITY cornerback in this draft and that was likely only to have happened in rounds 1-3. Had the Giants not drafted Apple or Hargreaves in round one, they would have had to look at that position in rounds 2-3 or have a mammoth area of concern at that position.

Getting Sterling Shepard in round two was huge. Not only is he a perfect fit for this offense, but it took off another primary area of need off of the board. Shepard should thrive in McAdoo’s offense and I would not be shocked if years from now people say he was the best wide receiver taken in this draft.

The next two picks were defensive players at clear-cut need positions: safety and linebacker. Both were under-the-radar types who will add play-makers, physicality, and leadership to a defense that desperately needs all three qualities. Darian Thompson is a better-than-advertised athlete and center-fielding free safety who will allow Landon Collins to move back to his more natural strong safety position. Linebacker B.J. Goodman is a throwback linebacker. You don’t see many guys coming out of college anymore who can stack-and-shed at the point-of-attack like he can. When he hits you, you know it. The Giants have lacked that at the position for years.

The final two picks on offense were absolute steals where the Giants got them. It’s often unfair or inaccurate to make comparisons to other great players, but I have to admit there are similarities with running back Paul Perkins to Tiki Barber (minus the fumbling). Both are undersized running backs with great vision, patience, balance, and elusiveness. Both can catch the ball. Both can break the big play. Jerrell Adams was the fastest tight end in the draft. The Giants have said they also think he was the best blocking tight end in the draft. In watching highlights, you see a big man who can get down the seam, adjust well to the football, and do damage after the catch. If his head is screwed on right, Adams could be a major addition to the team.

Most teams only can really hope to get 2-4 eventual starters out of a draft class. Many – if not most – of the picks end up being role players or back-ups. When looking at the Giants’ 2016 draft class, it really is not out of the realm of possibility that all six picks could be eventual starters – and good ones at that. To me, the key is Apple. Will he be “just a guy” – a Will Allen or Prince Amukamara type – or will he become one of the game’s best corners? As for the other picks, something tells me that Shepard, Perkins, and Adams are going to be significant offensive contributors for years to come.

The Giants were not able to address the offensive line and the defensive line so there are no new big men for the trenches. That’s a bit troubling. But had the Giants taken Floyd or Conklin in round one, cornerback would not have been addressed and/or there would have been a domino effect on the rest of the draft. The Giants are still rebuilding and the additional building blocks will have to come in 2017. This is what happens when you have a string of bad drafts in a row like the Giants have had. They are now paying the price.

Lastly, the Giants brought in a huge undrafted rookie free agent class. There are a number of very interesting players who have a legitimate shot at making the roster at wide receiver, defensive line, and in the secondary.

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Paul Perkins, UCLA Bruins (September 12, 2015)

Paul Perkins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Analysis

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

For those that don’t know, every year I make picks for NYG based on their current roster in real time. No going back and seeing who was available when. Make a pick for NYG at that time, and compare them years down the road. Keep in mind this is something to do for fun, and nothing more. This isn’t an attempt at bashing Reese nor am I touting myself as a “better evaluator” than who NYG employs. It’s simply a different spin on evaluating draft classes. For the record this is one of the best draft classes I think we’ve seen since Reese has been the GM, but only time will tell.


ROUND 1 – ELI APPLE – CB/OHIO STATE – 6’1/199

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

*I had a high grade on Apple. He was a top 11 overall player on my board and one spot behind Vernon Hargreaves on the CB board. This pick was not a reach by any means. Lets get that out there. Apple would have likely been a top 15 pick no matter what after what I’ve heard. And it doesn’t look like anyone made a legit offer to NYG for a trade down, so there cannot be any bashing there. What is NYG getting here with Apple?

Apple has the prototypical triangle numbers for today’s CB position. He is tall, long, and really fast. He shows great movement in all facets and you have to think he has some of the highest upside among all the CBs in this class. He shows a nice feel for man coverage and can easily change direction. He is probably the best turn and run CB in the class. I wouldn’t call him a project, but there is a small sense of raw-ness to him. Apple is not a smooth play-on-the-ball guy. There are some technique issues that can be cleaned up, but he also doesn’t have that quick eye to hand coordination in comparison to a Hargreaves. He struggles to find the ball sometimes. In addition, I think Apple needs to get stronger. You can get by in the NFL by not being an overly physical CB, yes. And he does have an aggressive nature about him but it doesn’t take long to notice he has no physical presence. He isn’t a good tackler and he gets pushed around too easily. If he could really commit to getting stronger and improve his press presence and technique, you could have something special here. I expect Apple to be their nickel CB week 1. They will move Jenkins inside and put Apple on the outside in this situations, I think. Down the road, he could replace Cromartie when they release him, which could be this time next year. Very good pick here by Reese and company.

**WHO I WOULD HAVE PICKED**

VERNON HARGREAVES – CB/FLORIDA – 5’10/204

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

*I said before the draft that I expected Hargreaves to fall out of the top 9. He was sitting right there for NYG and even though I really wanted him, I’m not surprised they passed, as he simply isn’t the triangle-number corner that Reese usually wants. Ironically, just as Aaron Donald did 2014, Hargreaves ended up going right after NYG picked. Tampa Bay selected him at #11 overall.

The reason I wanted Hargreaves was a little short-term based. While I think he will be a good CB in the league for a long time, I thought his skill set fit in perfectly with what NYG really needed in their defensive backfield over the next two years at least. Hargreaves is made for the slot CB position. And as we all know, teams have 3 corners on the field more often than they do not in today’s NFL. Hargreaves isn’t that tall, he isn’t long, and his deep speed is pretty average. What I like, however, is the ability to react and change direction. Hargreaves can stick to anyone’s hip pocket and even better, he makes plays on the ball with ease. He has elite level ball skills and understands how to twist and turn his body without getting flagged often. Down the road I will say that if Hargreaves reaches his ceiling and Apple reaches his, Hargreaves ends up on the lesser side of the comparison. These guys are different players with different tools but in terms of immediate help and a higher floor, I think Hargreaves would have been the better pick. But by no means was the margin anything noteworthy.


ROUND 2 – STERLING SHEPARD – WR/OKLAHOMA– 5’10/194

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

*There are a few angles to this pick. I think the first one is a hedge to what happens with the comeback of Victor Cruz. When week 1 comes around this season, it will be almost 2 full years since Cruz last played an NFL game. Even if he does comeback strong, there is certainly room for the two of these guys to get their looks beyond Beckham. Just as important, the NYG passing attack appears to be short and quick in it’s ideal state. Having multiple slot receiver types is never a bad thing in that kind of scheme. And third, NYG needs players that can make things happen on their own. Shepard is the ideal pickup for this offense.

I think the impact that Shepard will make is going to immediate. If he stays healthy I think we are talking about a guy that gets on the field right away in three-receivers sets. His ideal role will be in the slot, where his elite-level change of direction and burst can be used a lot in this offense. He will be a tough guy to cover. Shepard is more than a quick-footed small guy though. He actually ran some tough routes in the Oklahoma scheme. It wasn’t just one cut-slants and hitches. He has experience running double and triple routes at a high level. Oklahoma actually put him outside quite a bit and that’s why I think he can work in this offense even if Cruz comes back strong and takes some snaps from the slot himself. That’s why I see some Doug Baldwin and even a little Steve Smith (BAL) in him. This kid competes hard down the field and will come down with a lot of catches in traffic. Now he is limited by size and he isn’t very strong either. There will be things he can’t do and NYG will know that. But this kid is a threat to get open on every single play and I bet he ends up being used by Manning often when 5-8 yards are needed. He is also very savvy when plays break down. The kid finds holes and creases to run through when his QB is scrambling but still looking to throw. The icing on the cake is what he offers after the catch with his ability to make guys miss. He will also provide NYG with an extra solid punt returner. Good chance Shepard leads the 2016 rookie WRs in receptions this season.

**WHO I WOULD HAVE PICKED**

STERLING SHEPARD – WR/OKLAHOMA – 5’10/194


ROUND 3 – DARIAN THOMPSON – S/BOISE STATE: 6’2/208

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

*After watching what transpired over the first half of Friday night, knowing the current NYG roster situation and what Reese likes to do in the draft, I had a strong feeling NYG would go safety. Vonn Bell was selected towards the end of round 2 and even though I think NYG really wanted him, they were pleased to get the ballhawk Thompson. They have a lot of mediocrity at the position now and I think the hope is these guys are gonna compete hard for the starting spot next to Landon Collins and one of them will really rise to the top.

Speaking of competing hard, I think that’s what NYG is getting out of Thompson more than anything. This kid attacks the ball carrier downhill as hard as anyone. I wouldn’t call him an elite run defender or power presence, but he gets the job done. He will make the open field tackle and he will send a jolt to a running back with a head of steam. Some will look at his size and interception numbers and immediately fall in love. Thompson deserves credit for making plays, absolutely. He has good ball skills and will often be in the right place at the right time, not by sheer luck like some defensive backs. I didn’t have a low grade on Thompson at all, but there are holes in his game that concern me. Thompson is almost too aggressive. He spends a lot of time moving in the wrong direction, meaning he is easily fooled by play action and double routes. Being aggressive got him places and you don’t want to completely turn it off. But Thompson will need to prove that he can, at times, show a more conservative approach or else the deep end of this defense is going to get burned. Thompson doesn’t have the makeup speed to chase down NFL WRs from behind, so he will have to really be careful if he wants the coaches to trust him as a starter.

**WHO I WOULD HAVE PICKED**

JUSTIN SIMMONS – S/BOSTON COLLEGE – 6’2/202

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

*Simmons is a guy I didn’t dive too deeply until late in the process. I didn’t scout his game tapes until late January, right before the combine. I jotted down a bunch of notes applauding his change of direction and short area explosion. Then, in Indianapolis, he tore it up. This kid is a bit of a freak athlete with really high upside. He ended up being picked #98 overall and I thought it was one of the better value grabs of day 2.

What I like about Simmons in comparison to Thompson mainly has to do with his decision making and overall awareness of whats going on around him. It can take awhile to see this in a safety because of the amount of games you need to watch, but Simmons can change his style of play on a whim based on game situations. You really don’t see that often enough and its something I look for when scouting safeties. Simmons also has ideal triangle numbers for the position. He is tall and pretty long with elite-level agility and explosion. He is a good decision maker and proved to be a guy that can cover in multiple roles and make plays on the ball. I think Simmons’ has the kind of ceiling that could make him one of the top safeties in the game. We aren’t talking about a huge project, either. He could use a little more strength and bulk over time, but Simmons would be good enough to start right away for NYG. He is smart and works hard on and off the field. I’ll follow his career closely.


ROUND 4 – BJ GOODSON – LB/CLEMSON – 6’1/242

Fifth year senior. Was a backup and special teamer for 2-plus years, with only one and half season of starting experience. Goodson is an interior enforcer that can play equally tough against blockers and ball carriers. His stoutness and short area power make him a tough assignment for any blocker and his ability to finish plays can be an asset to a defense looking for run defending help. Goodson lacks the ideal athleticism for every down duty, but he has shown to be at least competent in zone coverage and has enough range to play at least two downs in the NFL. Not a fit for every scheme and/or role, but he can be a core special teamer and run defender.

*As the rounds go on, it is always less and less likely I will want the same player as NYG. Goodson was a name I talked about pretty much from round 3 on and even further than that, I’ve been talking about wanting this guy for the past 4 months. Goodson is a player fans will absolutely love to watch, especially as I expect him to be a special teams guy early on in his career. If you have been around here for awhile, you know I’ve been begging for new talent at LB for years here. It is a position I think still has a ton of value and I also believe their lack of talent there has been a huge reason why their defense has been torched in recent years.

Goodson could project at any of the three LB spots in this scheme. I think he is best suited for weak side because he works in space better than he does in traffic. Goodson is really fast in pursuit. I mean, really fast. He can reach the opposite sideline with ease and he could thrive as a back side pursuer. Goodson is a consistent finisher as well, meaning the kid doesn’t miss tackles. If he gets his hands on the ball carrier, it’s over. He doesn’t drag or trip up, he drives himself through the chest of his target. Good, form tackling has become a lost art in the NFL and I truly believe it plays a role in the increase in scoring among other variables. Will Goodson start right away? I doubt it. But I think he will be the fourth LB that backs all three spots up if he can pick up the playbook. By season’s end, I think he’ll be starting whether the injuries pile up or not (to the starters). That said, I’m not sure he is a sure-thing to be a 3 down guy. He moves well in coverage but he really isn’t someone that will stop a Jordan Reed or Jason Witten-type. He is a read and react guy, not so much someone you want moving backwards trying to anticipate throwing lanes. He will offer something as a blitzer, however. Overall probably my favorite pick of the draft here and I think he will be a 100+ tackle guy year in, year out once he gets the starting job.

**WHO I WOULD HAVE PICKED**

BJ GOODSON – LB/CLEMSON – 6’1/242


ROUND 5 – PAUL PERKINS – RB/UCLA – 5’10/208

Fourth year junior. Team’s leading rusher in 2014 and 2015 seasons respectively despite battling a nagging knee injury this past fall. Perkins may not have the body or running style to be an every down back, but his ability to make something out of nothing cannot go overlooked. He has the rare, hard to find ability to stop completely change direction while moving at full speed at anytime. His top end speed and lack of size may limit his touches week in week out, however he is a prime candidate for a committee approach. If he can find an offense that needs someone to offset a between the tackles, chain moving bruiser, Perkins will excel.

*Another pump of the fist as the selection was announced and to be quite honest, I was surprised. Not by the grade and value of the pick, but I wasn’t so sure Reese would look at RB in this draft. He has put a lot of resources in the position over the past few years and all those guys are still on the roster. I think this means Andre Williams or Orleans Darkwa will be pushed off the team at some point in August because in all honesty, I think Perkins immediately becomes the best RB on this team. He just won’t be an every down guy, at least not right away.

What stands out the most with Perkins is the ability to change direction while moving at full speed. I’m talking near 180 degrees in the middle of his stride. If Perkins were playing two hand touch football, he’s excel because it gets to a point where tacklers literally can’t even get their hands on him at times. He has extremely light feet and excellent vision. Perkins doesn’t need a lot of room to create something out of nothing and if there is one gripe I had about the NYG RBs as a whole before the weekend, it was exactly that. They all struggled to create. Perkins likely starts off the year at the bottom of depth chart but at the end of the day, McAdoo will have a hard time keeping him off the field for long. We aren’t talking about just a scat back, either. Perkins is an effective, tough, hard nosed blocker. There are countless notes where I have “++” marks next to the blocking and toughness portions of the grading sheets. Perkins also has really good hands and catches the ball on the move seamlessly. Lastly, Perkins doesn’t fumble. There really isn’t much not to like here other than the fact that he won’t be a big time tackle-breaker. He would benefit from a real dedication to NFL weight training because he is too easily altered by defenders. Perkins may not start, but he is a guy you want on the field as much as possible.

**WHO I WOULD HAVE PICKED**

SPENCER DRANGO – OT/BAYLOR – 6’6/315

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

*One of the bigger draft weekend surprises for me was watching how far Drango fell on day 3. I thought he had a good shot at being a 3rd rounder, but I was way wrong. He ended up going #168 overall (5th round) to Cleveland. I went in to the weekend thinking NYG could have really used another blocker to add to the mix, especially on the right side. At this point in the draft, however, you have to know that you are looking for depth, not a starter. It’s not the smartest approach to enter round 5 of a draft looking for a starting offensive lineman. I think that is partially why NYG overlooked the position group and opted for playmakers with high ceilings. You really can’t knock that approach because an argument can easily be made that there are available veteran FAs that will fill the need along the OL much more so than a 5th round rookie.

*That being said, I believe Drango would have been exactly what the doctor ordered for the NYG offensive line. He wouldn’t come in and start, I know that. But what I like here is that he could project to be a backup to multiple spots in this scheme. His main issue, however, is that he played in an offensive scheme where more often than not, he was not asked to hold on to his blocks and he didn’t play much out of a three point stance. Blocking in the NFL would have been a completely different process from the start for Drango, thus its possible he wouldn’t even be an option to step on the field in 2016. But man, this guy started 48 games and early in his career everyone was calling him a future first rounder. He didn’t progress the way many of us thought he would but there is no denying that he can play. Size? Check. Power? Check. Strength? Check. Lateral movement? Check. Drango will need time to adjust to the pro blocking style and he could use some more body control work. But his main issues I think are null if he is moved inside. Drango will be a starter in the NFL within 2 years, I’m confident with that. The debate might be where he ends up but in the mean time I think he is a valuable 6th lineman that every team wants.


ROUND 6 – JERELL ADAMS – TE/SOUTH CAROLINA – 6’5/247

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

*I want to say something about this pick really quick. Prior to the draft and after the selection I noted there were some red flags with him. People in his own camp were down on him during the pre-draft process but there was nothing legal-related there. I have zero interest in being a loser-media guy that gets off on reporting false news just so I can get attention. Rappaport, Miller, Myers….go ahead and have fun with that stuff. I am simply relaying information that was given to me that could perhaps give color on why such a talented kid could drop despite one of the weakest TE classes in years. There is nothing earth shattering here information-wise. Adams is a good kid by all accounts, but I was told he didn’t work hard off the field and he made the same mental mistakes repeatedly. Maybe his position coach sucked? Maybe someone had an axe to grind? Maybe he is a slow learner? Whatever. But I think there is legit reasoning why he dropped but none of it has to do with his ability or legal issues.

Back to the fun stuff, NYG got a major steal here in round 6. I really was ready to give him the #2 TE spot on my board at one point. He is that good and he not as developmental as some people will tell you. He is the fastest TE in this draft on the field by a pretty good margin and he has almost 35 inch arms on a 6’5 frame. That is just a freakish combination. This kid has the potential to be a matchup nightmare for linebackers and defensive backs. He can really get up the seam in a hurry and he knows how to use his body to shield defenders from the ball. He has legit make-you-miss ability with the ball in his hands after catch as well so this is yet another weapon added to the offense that can make something out of nothing. What I like the most about Adams is the level of effort he shows on game day week after week. This kid plays hard. He hustles and is constantly looking for more whether he ‘s blocking or running with the ball. Combine that with the gifts we talked about earlier and you could easily make the argument that the right surroundings can mold this kid in to star. He is a guy to be really excited about. Adams will need to bulk up a little and he has the frame to do so. If they can keep his work-light on, Adams will be a starting caliber, every down threat within 2 years. I’m not sure he will see the field much in 2016 but I wouldn’t immediately toss the idea out the window. I think he will have more impact than Jared Cook has had on the league and McAdoo might see a pre-injury Jermichael Finley here.

**WHO I WOULD HAVE PICKED**

CHARONE PEAKE – WR/CLEMSON – 6’2/209

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

*I think I had a similar train of thought here as Reese and Ross. Sure, you could have added a body for depth along the trenches but at this point, is there really someone out there that is better than what you already have? And better than what is available on the market? I’m not so sure. I think tbe better decision was to add a potential playmaker to an offense that, at the end of the day, really only has one guy on offense that scares people. On a team full of small-ish receivers, Peake stood out to me as a guy that has the tools this position group lacks. Height, length, speed and strong hands. A combination that this team has always looked to obtain.

I’ve been pretty vocal about Peake and his upside. I was very surprised to see him drop towards the middle of round 7 to the cross town rival Jets. He checks off a lot of boxes when trying to narrow down a list of WRs worth going after. He is tall and fast. He plucks the ball out of the air with strong hands and runs crisp routes. He changes direction well and will make tough catches in traffic. He had a couple knee injuries earlier in his career and it really made it hard for him to break in to the WR rotation at Clemson. If you take a step back and look at the talent that school has had at that position during Peake’s career, one can understand why it was hard to get the looks he may have gotten at a school like North Carolina, Boston College, Auburn….etc. Peake is going to have a much better pro career than what we saw in college, I’m confident in saying that. His tools are there and the skill set is more developed than a lot of WRs coming out. I think Manning misses having a big, long target to loft the ball to near the end zone. It’s a pass he’s had plenty of success with in the past but there simply isn’t a guy on this roster that can get up after it. They have tried with Donnell in the past with some success but I’m not sure he will be the guy Manning trusts. Perhaps Adams can turn in to that guy but I think Peake would have been a great fit for this team.


NYG Draft Class

1 – Eli Apple – CB/Ohio State
2 – Sterling Shepard – WR/Oklahoma
3 – Darian Thompson – S/Boise State
4 – BJ Goodson – LB/Clemson
5 – Paul Perkins – RB/UCLA
6 – Jerell Adams – TE/South Carolina

Sy’56 Draft Class

1 – Vernon Hargreaves – CB/Florida
2 – Sterling Shepard – WR/Oklahoma
3 – Justin Simmons – S/Boston College
4 – BJ Goodson – LB/Clemson
5 – Spencer Drango – OT/Baylor
6 – Charone Peake – WR/Clemson

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

Jalen Ramsey – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Safeties

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

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

WHERE THEY STAND

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

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Eric Berry/KC

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Devin McCourty/NE

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Malcolm Jenkins/PHI

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Troy Polamalu/RET

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Will Hill/BAL

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: George Iloka/CIN

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Dwight Lowery/SD

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Reshad Jones/MIA

9 – JEREMY CASH – 6’0/212 – DUKE: 75

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Da’Norris Searcy/TEN

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Tashaun Gipson/JAC

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Corey Graham/BUF

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Kenny Vaccaro/NO

13 – DEON BUSH – 6’0/199 – MIAMI: 73

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Morgan Burnett/GB

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Bernard Pollard/UFA

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: James Ihedigobo/DET

THE REST (16-25)

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

NYG APPROACH

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

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

Vernon Hargreaves – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Cornerbacks

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

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

WHERE THEY STAND

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

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Joe Haden/CLE

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Vontae Davis/IND

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Janoris Jenkins/NYG

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie/NYG

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Brandon Flowers/SD

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Charles Tillman/CAR

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Dre Kirkpatrick/CIN

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: William Gay/PIT

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Jeremy Lane/SEA

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Antonio Cromartie/UFA

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Brent Grimes/TB

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Keenan Lewis/NO

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Perrish Cox/TEN

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Kyle Arrington/BAL

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Dontae Jonson/SF

THE REST (16-25)

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

NYG APPROACH

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