Apr 102018
 
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Vita Vea, Washington Huskies (December 30, 2017)

Vita Vea – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Line

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*Note…these positions are based on what I think will be more of a 3-4 scheme. Edge guys get their own preview.

1 – Vita Vea – Washington – 6’4/347

Grade: 87

Strong Points:

-Rare blend of size and functional athleticism
-Plays hard all the time
-Crafty, savvy when it comes to getting off blocks in short spaces

Weak Points

-Lack of pure pass rush moves, needs more refinement there
-Tires easily, can’t be on field for long stretches
-Didn’t make a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. Could have come out last year and been a top 10 pick. Vea is a name I don’t see discussed often enough as a legit possibility for being the first defender taken in this class. If he had more pass rush production, something I still think there is some untapped upside with, he would be above the 90 mark. Vea is the closest thing we have ever seen to Haloti Ngata and if he can be matched with the right defensive mind that will move him around a lot, he is going to be a star. Don’t completely overlook NYG considering him if they trade down a few spots because he CAN be on the field at the same time as Harrison. He is a better athlete than most 3-4 DEs in the league.

NFL Comparison: Haloti Ngata / PHI

2 – Da’Ron Payne – Alabama – 6’2/311

Grade: 86

Strong Points:

-A boulder that won’t ever be pushed back, keeping gaps closed and LBs clean
-Showed promise as a pass rusher late in 2017
-Turns and shifts his weight while carrying elite presence when attacking the ball

Weak Points:

-Lack of production is noteworthy
-Doesn’t always fire out with proper leverage and hand placement
-Needs more violence post-snap

Summary:

Junior entry. 2 year starter but was a part of the DL rotation from day one. Payne will be NFL ready week one by whoever drafts him. He is the ideal inside run defender that has no issues taking on blocks, maintaining ground, and doing the dirty work to keep players around him free. Like Vea, his lack of production behind the line prevents him from the All-Pro status but he did take that part of his game to the next level late in 2017. Payne’s grade is partially based on projection, as I think if he is let loose as a pass rusher and/or penetrator, he can be a dominant force.

NFL Comparison: Linval Joseph / MIN

3 – Maurice Hurst – Michigan – 6’1/292

Grade: 82

Strong Points:

-Elite burst and pad level off the snap
-Excels at locating the ball when engaged in traffic
-Aggressive and surprisingly stout against the double team

Weak Points:

-Has a heart condition that still needs some questions answered
-On the very-small end when it comes to size inside
-May be too reliant on the initial movement

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Great story of a kid that really had to work his butt off to get some playing time and once he did, he took full advantage. When you try to teach DTs how to play the game with snap anticipation, leverage, and hand usage, pop in his tape. It is elite. I did downgrade him from 85 because of the heart issue that, from what I have been told, is scaring some teams to the point of taking him off their board. Bit if he clears that, his ability to impact the game as a gap shooter is big time. He may struggle to play a full load of snaps inside at that size, but the right coach and scheme can make him a star.

NFL Comparison: Mike Daniels / GB

4 – Rasheem Green – USC – 6’4/275

Grade: 81

Strong Points:

-Long and wide frame that will easily add weight
-Plus foot speed and bendability, making him a movement-threat in space and traffic
-Pro’s approach to the game when it comes to awareness and technique

¬Weak Points

-Gets high out of his stance and can be pushed around
-Needs to develop more lower body strength
-Lacks urgency and aggression at times

Summary:

Junior entry. Quietly recorded 10 sacks in 2017, earning 1st Team All Pac 12 honors. This is a name that doesn’t get discussed enough as one of the best 3-4 DL in the draft. Green already plays the game like a pro and that is a standout trait I noticed from day one of scouting him. He is an outstanding athlete with the kind of frame that coaches get excited about. He started to break out in 2017 and had he stayed another season, he may have been a top 10 pick in 2019. Really high floor and ceiling here.

NFL Comparison: Cameron Heyward / PIT

5 – Tim Settle – Virginia Tech – 6’3/329

Grade: 81

Strong Points:

-A force off the ball, can create a new line of scrimmage
-Plays low, fast, and physical
-Developed pass rush moves as 2017 progressed, versatile and reliable

Weak Points

-Conditioning has been an issue his entire career
-Inconsistent technique, will neglect hand placement too often
-Needs more control and balance, winds up on the ground or away from the action

Summary:

Third year sophomore entry. Was a bit of a surprise to see him come out in 2017, as he could have used another year of seasoning to potentially become a top 10 pick in 2019. I am high on him, I think he is a first round talent that may need some time, but in the end will be a versatile game changer. Settle was moved around a lot because of his size and burst off the snap. He is dominant at times and the light started to click over the second half of 2017. I would draft him knowing it may be a boom or bust, but the reward might be big time.

NFL Comparison: Marcell Darius / JAC

6 – RJ McIntosh – Miami – 6’4/286

Grade: 79

Strong Points:

-Active after the snap when needed, can change his style on the fly
-Powerful when engaged with run blockers, will hold his ground
-Very ball-aware, knows where to be and what to do, instinctive

Weak Points:

-Inconsistent use of leverage, plays high when he tires
-Doesn’t handle the double team well, lack of block awareness
-Will get out of control and spend too much time recovering off balanced

Summary:

Junior entry that has been a steadily growing presence in the ACC for the past 2 seasons. Overlooked in the exciting, playmaking, talent-loaded defense at Miami. McIntosh is a versatile playmaker that has a natural sense in the trenches. He is very good at getting his hands up against the short passes, very active against the run, and will make his presence known at some point. He had one of the more impressive performances against Quenton Nelson in 2017.

7 – Taven Bryan – Florida – 6’5/291

Grade: 79

Strong Points:

-Excellent athlete with a frame that can handle multiple roles
-Pursues sideline to sideline, will make plays all over, high motor
-Crafty and advanced technique when it comes to getting off blocks

Weak Points:

-Lacks a stout power game against the double team, gives up ground
-Will lose control and over pursue, too many recovery steps
-Needs more stability and lower body presence

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. Never quite broke out with big time production, but he was surrounded by a poor defense in the SEC. Bryan stands out on tape because of his movement skills on a frame that has a lot of potential. I think the Giants could have a lot of interest here, because he fits the playmaking 3-4 DE role like a glove. There is work to be done when it comes to strength and power, but this is the kind of kid that you know will come in and get it done. High upside.

NFL Comparison: Malik Jackson / JAC

8 – PJ Hall – Sam Houston State – 6’0/308

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Incredible burst and speed, top tier
-Can hold the point of attack when needed with elite strength and leverage
-Smart and savvy, reads the action while engaged fast

Weak Points:

-On the bottom tier of size requirements
-Lacks conditioning, tires easily and will take plays off
-Can be surprised by down blocks easily and won’t recover well

Summary:

Four time FCS All American. All time leader in sacks and tackles for loss in school history. 14 career blocked kicks which is unheard of. Has experience all over the line. I have been and continue to be higher on Hall than most out there. I think he is a legit 2nd round talent that will cause a lot of headaches in the NFL. He may not be an every down defender with the lack of size, but his burst and leverage while maintaining very good power will cause offensive linemen to really work. If Hall was coming from a bigger program, I think he would be in the 1st round discussion.

NFL Comparison: Geno Atkins / CIN

9 – BJ Hill – NC State – 6’3/311

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Derives more than enough power from his lower body
-Can play low and quick
-Versatile skill set, can shoot the gap and create a new line of scrimmage

Weak Points:

-Block awareness is lacking, fails to see down blocks and gets washed out
-Doesn’t deliver a quality bull rush, eyes get lost
-Production vs the double team was lacking, too much movement

Summary:

3+ year starter. Really solid player that has been quietly productive and even somewhat overlooked in that dominant NC State line. Hill has the body of a run stuffer but the movement of a pass rusher. He is a disruptor that would be at his best in a penetrating role. He shows potential as a space eater when the situation calls for it, as his quick twitch power and aggressive hands can make life difficult for a run blocker. I suspect NYG will be very interested in him if they are leaning to a true 3-4 as a DE.

NFL Comparison: Jarran Reed / SEA

10 – Derek Nnadi – Florida State – 6’1/317

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Natural leverage advantage but still has the length to keep blockers away
-Quick in a phone booth, has tackle to tackle range
-Developed technique when it comes to hand work and rush moves

Weak Points:

-If he doesn’t win off the snap, he struggles to recover
-Limited impact as a pass rusher in college
-Footwork needs to be improved, doesn’t play wide enough

Summary:

A four year contributor, made the all ACC team three years in a row. Coaches rave about him and his worth ethic. Nnadi doesn’t check all the boxes when it comes to the measureables. He is short and stocky and did not test well athletically. But pop in any FSU tape over the past few years and it is hard not to come way impressed. This guy is a player and he will impact the game. Ideally he is in at NT on rushing downs, as his weaknesses can be exposed elsewhere. He ma be a better fit for the 4-3 front, but with NYG needing to find 15+ snaps from a backup nose tackle each week, Nnadi would be on my round 3 radar.

NFL Comparison: Javon Hargrave / PIT

11 – Lowell Lotulelei – Utah – 6’2/315

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Quick power off the snap, sends the blocker backward
-Unreal hand strength, can control anyone when both of his mitts are on
-Easy knee bend with an upright chest, making it easy for him to anchor

Weak Points:

-Reaction speed is lacking, a step behind often
-Won’t factor much as a pass rusher
-Has had some work ethic issues over his career

Summary: Kyle Williams / BUF

Four year starter. Brother of Star Lotulelei, a Pro Bowl DT currently. Had a lot of hype surrounding him because of the bloodlines and fast start to his career, but Lotulelei never quite took that step towards being a dominant force. He flashes it here and there, but some work ethic issues and a limited athletic impact on the game might drive him down a tad. He would be a very solid backup NT early on in his career and if the light turns on, he has the goods to be a plus-starter.

NFL Comparison:

12 – Nathan Shepherd – Fort Hays State – 6’4/315

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Athletic frame that just screams upside
-Converts his plus speed to plus power with ease
-Has the range to make plays all over the field

Weak Points

-Enters the league very raw and a few steps behind when it comes to technique
-Gets tall out of his stance and loses track of foot positioning
-Making a major jump in competition

Summary:

I am taking a bit of a chance with this kid. He is a major boom or bust but I think as a 3-4 DE, he has sky high potential. Shepherd has gained over 100 pounds since high school and he looks like he was cut out of stone. His football skill set and instincts are coming along, but he will still need time before he can be trusted on the field. There is a nastiness to his game that I like and you won’t find many better athletic packages than him.

NFL Comparison: Henry Anderson / IND

13 – Harrison Phillips – Stanford – 6’3/307

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Hard to move, plants his feet into the ground
-Pro-caliber plus-power presence
-Plays the hand game exceptionally well

Weak Points:

-Stiff lower body, tight hips and ankles
-Lumbers in space, limited range and pass rush productivity
-Disciplined and assignment-savvy

Summary:

Fourth year senior with some minor injury concerns. Has been the rock in the middle for the Stanford defense over the past two years. Phillips is highly touted by some and by no means am I down on him, I just simply see a 2 down player that is a little lesser athletically than some of the other guys in that position. His lack foot speed and overall stiffness may make things tough for him when it comes to the speed of the NFL. I think Phillips will be a solid rotational player in the NFL that is dependable and consistent, but nothing more.

NFL Comparison: Ziggy Hood / WAS

14 – Dashawn Hand – Alabama – 6’4/297

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Disruptive playing style, has plus athletic ability at his size
-Violent swiped and punches with his hands
-Versatile skills and tools, can be moved around a lot

Weak Points:

-Inconsistent performer, very up and down
-Has had off field and effort issues surrounding him his entire career
-Loses control and sense of balance

Summary:

After being one of the top recruits in high school, Hand struggled to really make his consistent impact on the Alabama defense. He was always a part of the rotation but his snaps were limited. The program is always bringing in new top tier talent, so it may have held back some of his opportunities. But the maturity concerns are real with Hand. Even though the light started to turn on in 2017, there is risk here. He does fit into that 3-4 DE role very well, however.

NFL Comparison: Derek Wolfe / DEN

15 – Chad Thomas – Miami – 6’5/281

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-A violent bully that makes an power impact every play
-Consistently gets the blocker off balance via contact
-Instinctive, a good feel for run defense

Weak Points:

-Lacks elite burst off the edge as a pass rusher
-Looks stiff when reacting laterally
-Will play high and get his eyes lost in the backfield

Summary:

Played a 4-3 DE role for Miami but is one of the few prospects that can play out there in any front. His playing style is versatile, as he can alter his approach at the snap of a finger. Thomas plays with man power and will try to win the battle via power presence play after play. He certainly has the strength to do so and if he can add another 10-15 pounds, he could be exactly what NYG needs at DE. There is a quality pass rusher here as well, a true 3 down player. Limited upside but I am confident he will reach it.

NFL Comparison: Adrian Clayborn / NE

Kendrick Norton – Miami – 6’3/314 – GRADE: 74
Trent Thompson – Georgia – 6’3/288 – GRADE: 74
Justin Jones – NC State – 6’2/309 – GRADE: 74
Andrew Brown – Virginia – 6’3/296 – GRADE: 73
Breeland Speaks – Ole Miss – 6’3/283 – GRADE: 73
Poona Ford – Texas – 6’0/306 – GRADE: 73
Deadrin Senat – South Florida – 6’0/314 – GRADE: 71
Taylor Stallworth – South Carolina – 6’2/312 – GRADE: 70
Khalil McKenzie – Tennessee – 6’3/314 – GRADE: 70
John Franklin-Myers – Stephen F Austin – 6’4/283 – GRADE: 70

NYG APPROACH

Without truly knowing the scheme, it is almost a sure thing this new regime will bring in new talent along the DL. While it isn’t a pressing need, the depth is questionable and any time a new scheme is being put in, getting rookies in place is very important. They are primed for development and their bodies are still evolving into NFL-readiness. The 3-4 DE role isn’t too hard to find and I think there is a lot of depth at that spot in this class. I think one of the later picks will be used there and don’t overlook the importance of having a strong backup behind Harrison. While this isn’t a pressing need, Gettleman is big on infusing resources into the DL. One of these guys will be selected.

Apr 102018
 
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Apr 092018
 
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New York Giants Helmet (October 15, 2017)

© USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS OFFSEASON PROGRAM BEGINS…
The New York Giants offseason program began on Monday, April 9th, kicking off the 9-week “voluntary” program that by NFL rules is broken into three phases:

  • Phase One (Two Weeks): Consists of activities limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation only.
  • Phase Two (Three Weeks): Consists of on-field workouts that may include individual player instruction and drills as well as team practice conducted on a “separates” basis. No live contact or team offense vs. team defense drills are permitted.
  • Phase Three (Four Weeks): Teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity, or “OTAs”. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.

The team’s OTAs will be held on May 21-22, May 24, May 29-31, and June 4-7. A mandatory mini-camp will be held on June 12-14.

GIANTS RE-SIGN BRETT JONES…
New York Giants center/guard Brett Jones has signed his 1-year, $2.914 million restricted free agent tender. Jones took over the starting center spot for 12 games in 2017 after Weston Richburg was lost for the season.

Jones was originally drafted by the CFL Calgary Stampeders in 2013 and named the CFL’s “Most Outstanding Rookie” after that season. Jones was also named the CFL’s “Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman” in 2014. He signed by the Giants in February 2015 and placed on Injured Reserve in September 2015 after spraining the MCL in his knee on the preseason finale. In 2016, Jones was on the active roster for 14 regular-season games and made one start at left guard, but left the game very early with an injury.

ORLEANS DARKWA VISITS PATRIOTS…
New York Giants unrestricted free agent running back Orleans Darkwa is visiting the New England Patriots. The somewhat injury-prone Darkwa only missed one game in 2017 with a back issue and had his best season as a pro, starting 11 games and finishing with 171 carries for 751 yards (4.4 yards per carry) and five touchdowns. He also caught 19 passes for 116 yards. In his previous three seasons, Darkwa had started only two games carried the ball just 75 times for 287 yards and four touchdowns.

Darkwa was originally signed by the Miami Dolphins as a rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. He played in four games in September before being waived in October and signed to the team’s Practice Squad. The Giants signed him off of Miami’s Practice Squad in November 2014.

PAT SHURMUR CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants Head Coach Pat Shurmur addressed the media by conference call on Monday:

Opening Statement: We’re looking forward to having the guys back. I can only speak for us as coaches, it just gives us an opportunity to work with the players again and set a new direction heading into 2018. As you know, the first couple weeks here is basically strength training for the players, although we also will be able to meet with them. We are going to meet with them obviously as a team and then offensively, defensively, in terms of special teams and try to just kind of set a foundation and get going as we approach our first extra mini camp, which will be the three days leading up to the draft. It’s exciting to get back to work, it’s obviously great to see the players back in the building. I have my first team meeting with the players here at 9:15. We kind of schedule it where we have a lifting group, we sort of meet in the middle and then we have another lifting group, so at 9:15 will be my first time to address the team. I’m looking forward to it and I’ll try and answer some of your questions.

Q: You said before that the mini camp before the draft would be a showcase for Davis Webb. How are the reps going to work out between him and Eli Manning?

A: We’re working on that. Obviously Davis, with only two quarterbacks in the building, they’re obviously going to share the reps.

Q: What is the overall gist of the message you will send to the team when you address them this morning?

A: The idea is and, again, I’ll save it for when I talk to the team. But for the most part, we’re trying to get things started, take advantage of the extra time we have and we want to grow away from basically what happened a year ago, the 3-13 season. We want to grow away from that and try to grow into a team that’s competing to win a division, compete in the playoffs, and then hopefully hold up that fifth Lombardi trophy. That’s what we’re trying to do and just try to get better one day at a time, and I think it’s important for all the players to understand that getting better by themselves, it’s just as important for us to get better together, and I think that’s the beauty of being able to work together here.

Q: How important is it for all of the guys to be in the building for the entire offseason program?

A: We understand how this is structured here in the offseason, but it’s certainly important. In my mind, it’s important for everybody to be around so they can hear it, learn it and then do it together. This is the ultimate team game and we need to work together because it’s important that we are all on the same page as we move toward the fall.

Q: How important is it for Odell Beckham to be there for the duration of the program?

A: I think it’s all players. All players, it’s good and I think it’s important that they’re here working together.

Q: Have you seen Odell yet?

A: He is in the building. I have not seen him yet, but I know he’s in the building.

Q: Did you get a chance to talk to Odell after everything that came out of the meetings in Orlando and what was your message there?

A: Yeah, I’ve communicated with him and certainly that communication is between me and him.

Q: You said that you talked to him about all things non-football related. Did you ask him if there were drugs in the video?

A: Again, that’s private between Odell and myself, but we talked about the video.

Q: Were you worried about how all of the trade rumors might affect Odell?

A: I’m not worried about it. I really believe that Odell is a professional and he wants to be great. He understands the importance of the offseason and he’s a competitive guy and, again, we had already started communicating before all that information kind of got out there and was talked about a great deal. He’s a professional and I’m glad he’s here today.

Q: Do you have any idea where Odell is physically?

A: With the players back in town, certainly we are going to assess where they all are in terms of physically and medically, and I’ll have more information as we approach the end of the week.

Q: What have been your impressions of the potential offers for Odell Beckham in the trade market?

A: Yeah, that’s the business. I’m the coach, so I’m just going to worry about trying to get each and every player and each and every coach as good as they can be, and I’ll focus on that part of it.

Q: How anxious are you to finally be able to talk football with the guys and specifically talking with Odell about your vision of what he can do in your offense?

A: It’s exciting, and obviously being this is the first opportunity to visit with the players, we just start to formulate our systems and our plans and really our vision for what we want our players to do. I would say this, this is what we as coaches look forward to. I can see as I look out my window here that the grass is starting to green up and the players are around and this is just naturally the time of year where we get back to work. It’s an exciting time for coaches and players, and we’re just looking forward to getting it started.

Q: What are some of the biggest changes that the players will notice when they arrive and see the Pat Shurmur Giants here in the building for the first time?

A: That’s probably a better question for them. I certainly have learned in the last couple of months how things were done in the past and there are some changes that I’ll let them discuss those with you. But, I think what’s important is — listen, this is a game that we all love to play, most great players love the training aspect of the game and getting better and being a little bit uncomfortable and working through that, and I think that’s part of where we’re at. I think anybody, when there is a new coach and a new general manager and some new players, there are some changes that they expect to see, but I think that is probably a better question for them as they move forward. I just think it’s very important that we’re very professional, we communicate well together and then there is going to be a transfer of information. I think we as coaches need to listen to the players, but also teach what we want them to know and then let them tell us what they’re seeing so that we know how we have to teach it further. That’s what we’re looking forward to, is the communication and then watch these guys develop also physically as they go through the weight lifting and the running.

Q: What has Odell told you about his attendance going forward after today?

A: Yeah again, I know he’s in the building. We haven’t had a chance to speak. I’ll speak to him a little bit more later, probably this afternoon. But we haven’t discussed that.

Q: Do you view Odell showing up today as a commitment by him showing that he wants to be a Giant long term? And in addition, would you like to see management use this as an opportunity to get a contract done with him soon, so that it doesn’t remain a distraction?

A: I’m not overthinking this. This is the first day of work, this is the first opportunity for all of us to be here together and I think it’s important that Odell is here and I’m looking forward to him getting one day better by being here and I’m looking forward to him inspiring some of his teammates to get better because he’s here and he’s a terrific player and I think we can all learn from one another. Quite frankly, I’m looking forward to the players challenging me to grow, so that we can grow towards some of the things that we were talking about earlier.

Q: You have a couple of former players that are on your coaching staff. What will they bring to the table in terms of relating with the players?

A: Well, we all have playing backgrounds. Obviously guys that have played in the NFL that are now career coaches, I think they bring some credibility to the room that the players can really, I guess, hang on to a little bit. The important thing though for an ex-player is they have to decide, they have to cross that bridge between player and coach, and I’m very fortunate that I have some guys here that are now really developed into career coaches, so I’m looking forward to really them working with our players. I think obviously if you coach this game and you’ve developed some credibility as a coach, certainly some of it comes from your days as a player and then it obviously continues your days as you coach through the profession. It’s important and staffs tend to be diverse. We all have different backgrounds and I think it’s important to put together a staff of guys that all come from different places.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts of Monday’s media conference calls with the following players are available in The Corner Forum:

ARTICLES…

Apr 092018
 
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Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (March 2, 2018)

Quenton Nelson – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Guards and Centers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

1 – Quenton Nelson – Notre Dame – 6’5/325

Grade: 85

Strong Points:

-Overwhelming size, power, and force immediately upon contact
-Relishes the role of an enforcer/bully on the field
-Very high IQ player, reacts to blitzes and stunts with ease

Weak Points

-Gets top heavy, making himself susceptible to the double moves
-Too reliant on upper body drive
-Feet get stuck in pass protection, doesn’t keep them active after engagement

Summary:

Fourth year junior. Widely proclaimed as the best OL in this class and I do agree, but not by the margin some say he is. Nelson is a dominant force that can win any 1 on 1 matchup power-wise in the NFL right now. But I am not sold on him as a pass blocker just yet, as there are tendencies with his footwork and leverage that concern me. If he cleans those areas up, and he certainly has the ability to do so, he will be a top tier OG right away. But if he doesn’t, guys like these can be maddening to watch.

NFL Comparison: Kelechi Osemele / OAK

2 – Braden Smith – Auburn – 6’6/315

Grade: 85

Strong Points:

-Sustains his block through the whistle, almost always
-Plays low, strong, and quick, excellent knee bend and ability to adjust
-Easy puller that is as comfortable in space as he is in traffic

Weak Points:

-Needs to develop more lower body power, the bull rush has given him issues
-Initial punch doesn’t deliver a jolt to defenders
-Will need time to adjust to a much more complex scheme than his college days

Summary:

Three year starter. 2 Time All SEC 2nd Team and 1st Team in 2017. With the versatility Auburn requires of its OL, Smith has seen time at both guard spots in addition to RT. No matter where he is, he plays with consistent technique from head to toe and a relentless style that is found going through the whistle. Smith is a superb athlete, among the best in the class along the OL, and constantly plays wit his feet moving and knees bent. Rarely would you ever see him not win the leverage battle. Smith could use more lower body strength and drive but he will be an immediate upgrade for almost every year at OG and maybe even OT.

NFL Comparison: Kevin Zeitler / CLE

3 – Martinas Rankin – Mississippi State – 6’4/308

Grade: 82

Strong Points:

-A boulder against the bull rush, gives up nothing
-Accelerates after contact, gets in and stays in control
-Very smart, capable of making line calls

Weak Points:

-Tight ankles, struggles to pivot and re-direct
-Doesn’t recover well in space
-Can lumber out of his stance, needs more explosion and quick reacting

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Spent two years in junior college before redshirting at Mississippi State in 2015. Played left tackle for two years but almost made a full tie move to OC in spring 2017. Rankin likely projects inside at the next level, where I can see him being a week 1 starter. The power presence is elite, his work in tight areas is very good, and his intelligence is some of the best in the class. I’m not sure he is the best athlete to pull out of his stance and lead block, but that can be hidden in some schemes. He is a week 1 starter and a solid emergency LT in case of injuries.

NFL Comparison: Cody Whitehair / CHI

4 – Isaiah Wynn – Georgia – 6’2/313

Grade: 81

Strong Points:

-Some of the best and most consistent techniques of all the OL in this class
-Foot speed is a plus, always under him providing balance and easy agility
-Hands are accurate and heavy

Weak Points:

-Less than ideal frame, short arms and small hands
-Recovering from shoulder surgery
-Struggles to fluidly move laterally as a pulling blocker

Summary:

Fourth year senior that has seen a balanced amount of time at guard and tackle. 2nd Team All American tackle in 2017. Played most of his senior year with a shoulder labrum tear and had surgery in January. Many think he will be a full-go by training camp. Wynn doesn’t exactly look the part, but back in October I said this guy was going to be a first round caliber guard and I am sticking to it. His best performances came against his best competition, something I love to see. He just wins and wins and wins. There is a chance you see him slide because of his less than ideal measurements, but this guy will be at least a very solid pro, I am confident in that.

NFL Comparison: Shaq Mason / NE

5 – Billy Price – Ohio State – 6’4/305

Grade: 80

Strong Points:

-Dependable snap to snap, week to week, month to month
-Smart and savvy, like an extra coach on the field
-Good initial punch and can usually keep his hands locked inside

Weak Points

-Struggles when initially beat, lacks the catch up quickness
-Doesn’t get enough separation with his upper body
-Lateral movement will be a struggle against speed

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Went on to start every game of his career (50+) at both guard and center. Probably can play either in the NFL but I think his best spot is OC. After all those consecutive starts, Price went and tore his pec during the Bench Press at the combine. Not a very quick injury to come back from but he should be ready sometime in August. It can hamper his rookie year, as he may need time to build himself back up. Price is a little short on athletic talent, but he is so savvy and understanding of where he needs to be. There are holes that can be exposed, but you know he can at least anchor against any bull rush and you know he will be an extra coach on the field. I don’t see a star, but I see a guy that will bring the same, solid level of play week in, week out.

NFL Comparison: Ryan Jensen / TB

6 – James Daniels – Iowa – 6’3/306

Grade: 79

Strong Points

-Top tier athlete post-snap, can reach defenders that most simply cannot
-Easy and natural mover at the second level
-Does everything right, from technique to line calls

Weak Points:

-Struggles against the power bull rush from big tackles
-Attaches himself to defenders, but won’t get a lot of movement
-Doesn’t react to different twists and stunts fast enough

Summary:

Junior entry. Most of his experience as been at center, but he has seen some time at OG. Daniels is a superior athlete compared to the other centers in this class. He can reach defenders off the snap that most cannot, his initial burst is rare. He is only 20 years old and one has to assume he is going to gain the power presence he needs in the coming years. In some schemes, he is a week 1 starter. In others, he may need a year.

NFL Comparison: Jason Kelce / PHI

7 – Frank Ragnow – Arkansas – 6’5/312

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Man among boys for long stretches, and that is in the SEC
-Keeps his hands inside with his feet chopping, technique on point
-Very good straight line, planned movement athlete

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t always react to late quickness and speed fast enough
-Pad level gets a little high
-Balance gets shaky when he is in space

Summary:

Three year starter that has played OC and OG. Some teams are looking at him strictly as an OG. I like his mental and physical presence at center. He is an extra coach on the field and brings the professional and reliable approach weekly. Ragnow has been dominating the SEC for three years. While I do see some weaknesses in his game when it comes to foot speed and leverage, I think he is the kind of guy that adjusts well and is able to always figure it out. Starter early in his career with a limited upside.

NFL Comparison: Travis Frederick / DAL

8 – Skyler Phillips – Idaho State – 6’3/324

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Strong initial punch, stands the defender up and gains control
-Gets movement on contact and will work hard to get more
-Shows good lateral movement to mirror pass rushers

Weak Points:

-Adjustments when it comes to footwork are lacking
-Over commits on his initial punch and will get caught leaning
-Hand placement gets inaccurate in pass protection

Summary:

Four year starter with experience at tackle and guard. I didn’t get to see much of Phillips until after the season and I had a few moments where I thought he was going to end up with a 1st round grade on my sheet. He is a dominant level run blocker in traffic and in space, and the experience he has at tackle does carry over in to a high ceiling as a pass blocker. He may struggle with how quickly he needs to adjust in the NFL but if that is a smooth transition, he is a top caliber guard. He could be a nice value-get in round 3 if NYG doesn’t go OL in round 2.

NFL Comparison: Larry Warford / NO

9 – Cole Madison – Washington State – 6’5/313

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Mobile and athletic footwork, can stick with speed and quickness
-Excellent mirror in pass protection, stays under control and balanced
-Accurate hands with a heavy punch

Weak Points:

-Has a steep learning curve ahead of him coming from the WSU scheme
-Doesn’t use enough leg drive as a run blocker
-Uncomfortable blocker in space

Summary:

Four year starter, mostly at RT. Will likely shift inside because of size limitations but I think that is where his upside is found anyway. Madison didn’t get a lot of attention but he was an extremely productive blocker. While the scheme helped a bit, his performances were pretty much the same week in, week out, no matter the situation. At the very least he will be a solid 6th lineman that will start games in the NFL.

NFL Comparison – Jack Mewhort / IND

10 – Will Hernandez – UTEP – 6’2/327

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-A bull when he is moving downhill off the snap
-Excellent leverage and initial punch, almost always wins the contact battle
-Quick feet as a side shuffle pass blocker

Weak Points:

-Slow out of his stance as a lateral mover
-Struggles to maintain separation from defenders
-Gets top heavy, shows his numbers to the dirt, doesn’t keep his head up

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Hernandez will be ready for NFL right away when it comes to the power game. He won’t be pushed back by anyone and he will excel as a straight ahead run blocker. I get nervous with him elsewhere, however. If he is up against speed and quickness inside on passing downs, a growing trend, I can see him having a hard time. He doesn’t lock guys up and there are some adjustment issues. He can be a stud in the right scheme, but a major liability in the wrong scheme. He is not a one size fits all lineman.

NFL Comparison: Gabe Jackson / OAK

11 – Austin Corbett – Nevada – 6’4/306

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Fluid and easy footwork that just seem to come natural to him
-Excellent initial hand punch with it comes to pop and placement
-Versatility is a major plus, has the brains to play anywhere

Weak Points:

¬-Too easily altered by a quality pass rush
-Struggles to recover if initially beat, doesn’t trust his lower half enough
-Doesn’t keep his legs driving after contact

Summary:

Fifth year senior, four year starter. Overcame knee injuries from high school and has started every game since week 2 of 2014. Thee time team captain. Corbett is a top tier athlete among this group that simply lacks a power game. He is smart and aware enough to somewhat make up for it, but he is likely a 1-2 year project before being able to be relied on as a starter. I see a 6th lineman or solid interior starter at that point.

NFL Comparison: Clint Boling / CIN

12 – Dejon Allen – Hawaii – 6’2/295

Grade: 73

Strong Points:

-Excellent athlete with short area quickness and burst in space
-Works hard to keep his hands inside, can lock guys up
-Fast to locate his man in space and will quickly pounce

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t keep his lower half moving in pass protection, too top heavy
-Inconsistent technique and concentration
-Won’t get movement off the ball against bigger, more powerful DTs

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Four year starter with experience at both guard spots and left tackle. Allowed just 1 sack in 2 years at guard. Saw similar success at tackle, but when it comes to his skill set and size, he is going to play inside at the next level. Allen is a 2 year project with the upside of all but maybe 2 or 3 guys in this OG/OC class. His foot speed and work with his hands are top notch, rare for a college guard. If he can learn to use his legs more productively while adding weight, he can be a well balanced player in this league.

NFL Comparison: Connor McGovern / DEN

13 – Bradley Bozeman – Alabama – 6’5/296

Grade: 72

Strong Points:

-Hands and feet are very in sync with each other
-Has a level of natural strength to him, easy country power
-Gets his hips in the hole and will anchor against size and strength

Weak Points:

-Slow in space, struggles to reach linebackers laterally
-Doesn’t get enough push as a run blocker
-Looks unathletic when he is trying to recovery, gets sloppy

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Took over for Ryan Kelly as a fu time starter in 2016. He isn’t the same caliber prospect but coaches say he had a similar level impact. He plays the game like a pro, mentally and physically. Learning curve wont be very high for him. He is a limited ceiling athlete but that isn’t too important for an OC. He is always at the right place, right time. There is a lot of fight to him. Day 3 pick that could start on some teams right now.

NFL Comparison: Brandon Linder / JAC

14 – Mason Cole – Michigan – 6’4/305

Grade: 71

Strong Points:

-Very smart and alert, can make guys around him better
-Versatile tool set, has a lot of experience inside and out
-Easy bender, can lower his pad level and really dig in

Weak Points:

-Too easily altered by power and strength
-Ducks his head on contact, leaving him very susceptible
-Lacks stability and presence in the power game

Summary:

Has started every game of his career. Has played tackle and center. I was expecting to see big things out of him as a LT in 2017 because of his prior tape and athleticism. He could have come out last year and been a day 2 pick, but 2017 took a turn for the worst. He just lacked strength and presence every time I saw him, and that was against college kids. You can blame it on being out of position, as I think he is an OC-only, but the tape doesn’t lie. He is made for a zone blocking scheme where he isn’t matched up one on one with a Damon Harrison ever, but it’s not a fit for a lot of teams. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him succeed, but he isn’t worth a pick until round 5.

NFL Comparison: Travis Swanson / NYJ

15 – Wyatt Teller – Virginia Tech – 6’4/301

Grade: 71

Strong Points:

-Powerful tackle mover, can really pop a guy when he lines it up
-Keeps defenders away from his body
-Anchors against the bull rush well

Weak Points:

-Tight hips and ankles, doesn’t react well when he has to open up
-Slow mover when he pulls out and moves laterally
-Effort switch is off and on too often

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Came to Virginia Tech as a defensive lineman and it took him a year and a half to really get the hang of OL. Settled in to left guard and ended his career 1st Team All ACC in 2017. Another high upside player that is found down here. Just a very inconsistent player week to week. Flashes dominance at times but also some head scratchers. Have heard some negatives about his attitude too. He can handle NFL power today, but not the speed and quickness just yet.

NFL Comparison: TJ Lang / DET

16 – Kyle Bosch – West Virginia – 6’5/298 – GRADE: 71
17 – Brian Allen – Michigan State – 6’1/300 – GRADE: 71
18 – Rod Taylor – Ole Miss – 6’3/321 – GRADE: 71
19 – Will Clapp – LSU – 6’4/314 – GRADE: 71
20 – Colby Gossett – Appalachian State – 6’5/315 – GRADE: 71
21 – KJ Malone – LSU – 6’4/321 – GRADE: 70
22 – Sam Jones – Arizona State – 6’5/290 – GRADE: 69
23 – Scott Quessenberry – UCLA – 6’4/315 – GRADE: 68
24 – Toby Weathersby – LSU – 6’4/313 – GRADE: 68
25 – Taylor Hearn – Clemson – 6’4/330 – GRADE: 68

NYG APPROACH

With the signing of Nate Solder and the departure of Justin Pugh, the NYG approach to the offensive line can rightfully be pointed towards the interior. The current situation there can rightfully be considered a liability at this point, perhaps even worse than it was last year. If you want to settle on Brett Jones at OC, fine. But that means the OGs next to him need to be above average and I wouldn’t consider any option they currently have to be at that level. Round 2 is going to be a spot where one of the top 4-5 guys are available I think, and it is almost a must. I wouldn’t call it “shopping hungry”, as think the value will match up. If by some chance another prospect with a much higher grade is there, round 3 could still be an option to find a starting caliber OG/OC, but the odds significantly decrease. In terms of tackles, adding another body to the young group of question marks can be an option late because you can never have enough competition there, but the value needs to jump out considering the other holes this roster has.

Apr 092018
 
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