May 072010

New York Giants 2010 NFL Draft Review

Draft Pick Scouting Reports
Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports
Eric’s Take on the 2010 Draft

2010 NFL Draft: New York Giants Picks

Round Pick in Round Overall Selection Player Selected
1 15 15 DE Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida
2 14 46 DT Linval Joseph, East Carolina
3 12 76 S Chad Jones, LSU
4 17 115 LB Phillip Dillard, Nebraska
5 16 147 OG Mitch Petrus, Arkansas
6 15 184 LB Adrian Tracy, William & Mary
7 14 221 P Matt Dodge, East Carolina

2010 NFL Draft Pick Scouting Reports

1st Round – DE Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida, 6-5, 270lbs, 4.73

SCOUTING REPORT: Junior entry. Pierre-Paul was born to Haitian immigrants and he did not begin playing football until his junior year in high school. A junior college transfer, due to academic woes, he could not play at South Florida until 2009. He played at the College of the Canyons in 2007 as a freshman and Fort Scott Community College in 2008 as a sophomore. Pierre-Paul was very sought after by major schools in 2009 and chose South Florida, where he only started seven games. Pierre-Paul is athletic freak with fine size. He is tall with long arms and legs. Pierre-Paul has an amazing first step and closing burst. Fast and quick, he runs like an athletic linebacker, and looks good playing in space. He also has tremendous balance and agility for a defensive end. Pierre-Paul plays with natural leverage. He is an explosive, penetrating, disruptive player who spends a lot of time in the opposition’s backfield. He makes a lot of big plays and plays hard. Pierre-Paul will chase plays down from behind. Good hitter, but he needs to play more under control as he fails to break down at times when he has the quarterback dead to rights. Very raw and he has a lot to learn in terms of technique and discipline, but he has probably the biggest upside of any player in the draft. Pierre-Paul has the frame to get bigger and he does need work in the weight room. Some say he is a boom-or-bust prospect, but he has been favorably compared to Jevon Kearse and Simeon Rice. He is a far better pass rusher than run defender, but Pierre-Paul has the physical ability to be an exceptional sack-artist.


From Thursday:

Q: This guy, what’d you like about him? A lot of the scouts said he’s a real hit or miss kind of player.

A: Well, you hear guys on TV say that. I don’t think you hear many scouts saying that. There’s a lot to like about him. He’s one of those guys where he has a lot of things you can’t teach. He’s a rare, gifted, talented kid. He is just uncommon, I think that’s a good word to use to describe his skill set. He’s long, fast, athletic, he has a great motor. We’re excited about having him and we are going to put him right into the mix with our three, four defensive ends, including Tollefson. We’re not trading Osi, so you don’t even have to ask that question. I know that is on everybody’s mind and we’re not trading Osi. We’re excited about having the defensive ends that we have. He’s a great pass rusher, and we like to pass in this league as we all know. This guy is really going to do a tremendous job coming in to help us rush the passer. We will also be helped on special teams with his speed and his length. We will always need some type of kick blocker and stuff in that respect as a special teamer.

Q: How about the fact that he didn’t have a lot of high level college experience?

A: You take that into consideration, but he played well in a big league this past season. We think the guy has the biggest upside out of any player in the draft. Any player in the draft. That’s how we really feel about this guy. We think that the sky is the limit. Robert Nunn and Perry Fewell are really excited about this player.

Q: How much input does Perry have in the process?

A: Well, our scouts have the most input. They go out and they know these guys. They have watched him for a couple of years. They know all the background so they are our number one source of information. Marc Ross and his staff, our coaches go out and do some work. They go to the pro days and they go to the combine. The coaches have input on it as well. Everybody in the room felt good about him, and that’s what we try and do. We want everyone to feel good about the pick and everyone is excited about him.

Q: What are these things he has that you can’t teach him?

A: The length, number one. He’s 6’4″, 270 lbs. The speed that he has and the long arms he possesses, the athletic ability that he has. Those kinds of things just come naturally raw, oozing with talent and the motor that he has. All those kind of things he has, you know, it’s hard to find a package like that. He has some freakish athletic skills that we’re excited about trying to hone and get him on a good path toward workouts.

Q: You say he has a good motor, is he a play-to-play kind of player?

A: Yeah, he has a great motor and plays hard. I have no problem with that at all, he motors.

Q: Do you think he’s similar to Jevon Kearse coming out?

A: Length-wise, he’s built similar to Jevon Kearse so yeah that’s a good comparison. The body type he has that’s kind of stringy looking. You rarely see guys with that kind of length and that type of body type. He does have a body type like Kearse, yeah.

Q: As the first round progressed and the 15th pick came closer, was it easy to pick him?

A: This was an easy pick for us. This was an easy pick for us. Obviously we have guys that we thought might be in our window. Again, when you pick in the middle of the round it’s really tough to target guys. We felt like he could be one of the guys there. We’re excited about him. If you pick in the top seven or eight, or bottom seven or eight, you can really target a player. Being right in the middle, guys come off the board all over the place. You’re really not sure. It got close with this guy, and obviously they were a lot of good players picked before him. We were very happy to see he was still up there.

Q: Was there any player you were really holding your breath on?

A: No, we don’t hold our breath on anybody. We just look for good players.

Q: How about on him, that another team might take him?

A: Not really. We don’t hold our breath on anybody. We felt like there were some good players on the board two or three picks away from ours that we liked. We knew we were going to get a good player right there.

Q: How close did you come to moving up or down?

A: You know, we always keep our options open. I can’t say we were close to moving up or down.

Q: We talk about this guy as a pass rusher, can Pierre-Paul play the run?

A: He can play the run. He can play the run, the pass; he has the whole package. We think that he has the entire package as a defensive end. Perry Fewell thinks he has good promise.

Q: Do you think he has the temperament and the maturity after limited time at the top level?

A: All the psychological elements were there. All of the interviews were good. We brought him in, on one of his visits here, and we wanted to find out everything about him. We don’t have any reservations about this player.

Q: You used the word ‘raw’…is he going to ease in this year or is he a contender to play?

A: When you pick a guy in the first round, you expect him to come in and play. We expect him to come in, and obviously, we like guys to come in and to play on special teams and we think he can do that. We expect him to get into the rotation pretty quickly.

Q: You mentioned not trading Osi before we could…are you worried about his reaction?

A: No.

Q: Will you talk to him about that?

A: Osi and I have talked. Osi knows that he is going to be here. Osi knows we are not looking to shop him. He knows he is going to be a Giant in the fall and he is looking forward to that.

Q: Did any teams try to get him, maybe for a bargain deal?

A: Well, there is always chatter in the media about what we’re doing and what we’re not doing. This time of year, there is so much false information flying around out there. We did get a couple calls. They were like, ‘Are you really serious about that?’ So, we did get some calls. We are not looking to shop Osi in any kind of way.

Q: At the point you picked him, was he your value board choice?

A: Let me just tell you that this guy was high on our board, okay. He was high on our board.

Q: Did you identify defensive end as a need?

A: We identified this player.

Q: So it wasn’t by position?

A: No. Our value board isn’t by position. It is about who the best players are for us that we think are in the first row. He was high in our first row.

Q: His height and weight is what right now?

A: At the combine he was 6’4.6″, 270 pounds.

Q: Does he have the frame to put on more?

A: He could be bigger, yeah. He is a lean 270 pounds so he can be a much bigger man.

Q: Do you think you will use him the way you used Tuck in his first year, playing all four positions?

A: We like that. That’s what we look for. We look for guys who have versatility and can play inside and outside. Guys who can play special teams. We target that kind of thing so we expect him to play all over the place.

Q: Rolando McClain went early to the Raiders…were you surprised by that? How high was he on your board?

A: Well, not really. Nothing surprises me. You should never be surprised by anything that happens in the draft. He is a good football player and I’m not surprised he went that early, no.

Q: Do you think middle linebacker is a priority going into tomorrow?

A: We are looking for good players.

Q: You said this was an easy pick but you used most of the ten minutes:

A: You know, we looked to see if there was a possibility of something else happening. We talked, and then talked to him on the phone for a while. We made sure he was okay, healthy, and ready to go. So we took our time.

Q: After giving up 427 points last year, do you think defense is a number one need?

A: I think we can do better all over our football team. Our offense can do better, our special teams can do better, our defense can be better. We can’t target anything. We win together and lose together. I don’t think the defense is the only reason we went 8-8 last year. I’m the reason, the head coach is the reason, the players are the reason. Everyone is the reason. We win together and lose together.

Q: You brought J.P.P. here on a visit, did you put him on the board to see about his football knowledge?

A: We put him on the board and we were satisfied with what we thought he is capable of. We did our work on him, we did.

Q: Is he the best back flipper on the defense?

A: Hmm…maybe so, probably. I don’t know.

Q: The other day you said you weren’t going to pick a gymnast…

A: Yeah, well, I’m not interested in that. He’s a good football player who can do flips, I guess. That’s a good thing, too.

From Saturday:

Reese: Jason Pierre-Paul, we talked about him. We think he can be a dynamic defensive end for us. Huge upside and we think he can be a really good player.


Q: Media tends to use words like riser/late riser. Was this a guy that was a riser? Did he make his way up as this process wore on?

A: In our eyes?

Q: Or did you identify him early?

A: He was a guy that during the season when I went to South Florida because I had four senior guys – where you put the tape on and you say, “Wow, who is the world is this guy?” Because you don’t know anything about him; he just got there. But he makes you take notice because he is jumping off the film. So of course you track him though the year. He was just a junior but the way he was playing it was a very strong indication that the guy was going to come out. So, no, he wasn’t a late riser for us. We had big grades on him throughout the year.

Q: Is it more difficult to grade a guy like this who has had a limited amount of playing experience?

A: Well, if you just base it off of when he played, it is very easy to grade the guy because he tremendous. And then you go, and just like any player that is my job – to scout these guys and dig deep and find out whatever – all players have strengths and weaknesses, red flags. It is our job to dig deep and feel comfortable with those and research them so that we know they are a good fit for us.

Q: Did the defensive coordinator, Perry Fewell, sort of come to you and say, “This is what I am looking for.”

A: No, not at all. We go through the process. We meet for weeks and our scouts write reports all year and we stack the board based on the best players. Of course, Coach and I will talk a lot but, no, the coordinators or the position coaches don’t come and say that.

Q: Given his limited playing time, how much actually did you guys put in terms of time to scout him? How many games did you see; how many films did you look at? And was there one that really stuck out and you said, “Hey, this guy would be great for us.”

A: Well, I have probably seen every game he has played this year. Our scouts, the way I have them do it, we have three scouts that do that area, they break down different parts of the season and do it. Of course the coaches get involved. Every game – Florida State – he jumps out on tape every game he played.

Q: You have three very good pass rushers – defensive ends. Is he like any of them – a body type like Kiwanuka?

A: He is rangy like Mathias in that kind of height. But when you see this guy – this guy is a freak of nature, really, some of the stuff that he can do and the way he looks. He is just a different guy. He has done things that I haven’t seen in scouting – in games – that I just haven’t seen.

Q:  Like what?

A: Combination of the length and power and speed – just running though people and rag dolling tackles. He is just a different breed of athlete.

Q: Did he play against any tackles or linemen that were rated high? Because that is how you judge him, I would assume?

A: When you watch any position you try to grab the best match-up. I was at the Rutgers game – that was referenced earlier and of course watched the tape several times. He lined up on Anthony (Davis). They went head to head maybe 15 times and actually contacted each other seven times. And he did fairly well. So that was probably the best competition that he had even though they weren’t the whole game up against each other.

Q: You guys are obviously comfortable with this pick. But is it tough to get comfortable with a guy who has such a limited body of major college work?

A: Of course you would like all guys to be fifth-year seniors or four-year starters and producers and all of that kind of stuff. But that is why you do the research. That is why we have the scouts and these guys that take a lot of pride in their job to make sure we get this thing right. And I take a lot of pride in what I do. And I wanted to make sure that we were totally comfortable with this guy.

Q: Is there athleticism or are the technical skills there right now?

A: No, when he learns how to really play, it is going to be “watch out.” Because he does some things just naturally just playing – in your back yard just going. And when he really learns –  when he gets his coaching and he keeps growing and developing like we think he will, he is going to be tremendous.

Q: Does this put a little pressure on your coaching staff – to get him where he needs to be?

A: How do you think I am going to answer that? Yes, of course. That is why you do it. With good teams you have to have that bond between the scouting staff and the coaches and that trust with one another with any player you take to hope that the kids do develop. They all are not ready made; they have to get better.

Q: How much did (George) Selvie, on the other side, how much did that benefit him?

A: We will talk about Selvie later. This kid is a great player. Selvie – not much; not much. This kid helped Selvie.

Q: Then how do you know he won’t – two years ago people were talking about Selvie kind of how there were talking about Jason PP now. How do you know he is not going to be another Selvie?

A: They are totally different players; totally different skill set; totally different athletic ability. The media was talking about Selvie – the guy had a tremendous sophomore year. He had 15 sacks or so. But his production has gone down and that is where you evaluate their skill set; their athletic ability; the height, weight, speed, the quickness, the strength, those things.

Q: There is a lot said about his ‘up side’ and when you look at  a guy a lot of times you have to weigh potential against what you think you can get out of him right away. How much did potential kind of outweigh what you can get right away in looking at this guy for long term?

A: If he was a bad player and we were just basing it on potential, then you don’t make the pick. But this guy is a very, very good player; tremendous player, an impact player who we still see with tons of upside, probably the most upside in the draft. But it is not like we are saying, “Man, we are hoping.” We see it. The guy does tremendous things on the field. And he is a good player that we are hoping still gets a lot better.

Q:  How much more weight can he carry on that frame?

A: This guy can be 280 easy, easy. He has almost 35 inch arms, tall, long legs, easy.

Q: Did you give the recommendation for Coach to go see him personally?

A: Of course I set it up to recommend to him that we should go see this group at South Florida. They had other good players, too, that we needed to see. So it was a good trip.


Coughlin: With our 15th pick we took Jason Pierre-Paul. We had an opportunity to investigate him quite thoroughly. We traveled down to South Florida for his pro day. We brought him in just prior to the draft and spent extra time with him with regard to that. Much has been said about his one-year stay at South Florida. But that is fine. That speculation is fine. He is a very, very talented young guy who is very healthy, who tests out in all categories very well; long arms, rushes the passer very well. He has played down inside on the guard. He gives you a nice mixture in combination of people utilized in pass rush combinations. I think he can play the run. He has played on both sides – left and right defensive end. He has done that. He is very well thought of by the coaching staff. His position coach was retained and we did have a chance to spend quite a considerable amount of time with him. He had a lot of very nice things to say this young guy. He comes from a very humble background. Interesting introduction to the sport – his high school coach got him to play in a playoff game when he was a junior in high school. He hadn’t played football – he was a basketball player. That started his career and of course his senior year in high school he became a football player. The rest is well documented. But this is a very, very talented young man with outstanding upside. It gives us tremendous flexibility in terms of the number of people that we have in our pass rush rotation. We expect that he will come in here and learn well. It will be an opportunity for him to spend a lot of time on the football – the playbook aspect of the game – probably something that he hasn’t had the opportunity to do in his short number of years that he has played the game. So it will be a very important part for him when he reports out here to our rookie camp first and then in mid-May.

Q: What did his college coach say?

A: That he is a very eager young man; eager to learn, obviously doesn’t have a great wealth of background in this sport but when you watch him play right away he certainly knows enough to adjust and maneuver on the field because he does. His pass rush arsenal includes inside moves and outside moves, a spin move. So he was very thorough in his description of this young guy and what he said is backed up by the tape.

Q: Did you get the impression that he can pick things up quickly?

A: I did. And according to all of the tests, that part of it is not an issue. The first thing that happens, as I have said many times before, is that the play book terminology is Chinese. It is something that they have to learn to understand what the terminology is. And that is the biggest problem for a young guy learning a new system. He has learned a new system each and ever year. But I think that he won’t have a problem with the learning part of it; some of which you will have some obvious inexperience, you will have some things that he is asked to do that he has never done before. But as I said, he has played down inside, he has played both left and right defensive end.

Q: At number 15, it is a relatively high pick; a little more of a risk/reward kind of pick?

A: Yeah, but I think one of the things that we all did was, as you looked at the grades that were given to this guy, he was substantially graded. All of his tests came through and verified exactly where he was taken in terms of not only his ability but his off the field – his medical and all of those kinds of things. And we felt that as the round unfolded that here was clearly a guy who had outstanding grades, who was the highest graded guy on board when we took him. And I think you could find something about a lot of people. Some of the players that went before him seemed to have some aspect of their game which is questionable. So I don’t think there is any greater risk here than another guy – a young guy who is very, very talented, who has tremendous upside, who we are looking forward to working with.

Q: When he played against Rutgers this year his name wasn’t called a lot in that game. Did you guys watch the film of that game?

A: Yeah, we saw it, sure. Although it wasn’t called a lot, am I wrong in saying there were two sacks in the game? Florida State, he had two sacks. So he may not have had his name called – maybe they didn’t know how to say his name. It is that P-P thing, you know what I mean?

Q: You have a lot of defensive ends now.

A: That is a good thing.

Q: Exactly. Some of them though have said things about wanting to start and not being really happy. With so many of them, do you have a delicate balancing act now?

A: Go play; let’s play the game. Let’s get on the field. Everybody has a chance to play. Everybody is going to contribute. It is a long season. We didn’t rush the passer very well last year, so let’s get back to playing football and rushing the passer and stopping the run and doing those kinds of things. And let’s go back to what we did a couple of years ago. And we didn’t do a whole lot of talking; we played. And I think that is something that we can do. We have had an outstanding offseason. With all of these defensive ends that are here, they are working hard. And we certainly would like to think that we have added to that group of young men who are good people and good football players. We have had success when we had depth and let’s work at that aspect of it again.

Q: When you have a new coordinator like Perry Fewell, do you go to him and say, “Okay, when we get this guy, how are we going to use him? Do you see if it is on his agenda?

A: His agenda is my agenda. That is how the discussions will go. Have we talked about how this particular player will be used? Not yet, but we will when we approach the mini-camp and beyond.


Pierre-Paul: I’m glad I’m a Giant. I was nervous at one point, I felt like I wasn’t going to get picked and then I got a call from the New York Giants. Drew (Rosenhaus) said it might be the New York Giants and it was. I was surprised because I visited a lot of teams and I didn’t know who was going to pick me. I’m just glad I got picked. Now I get to come in, settle down and become a great football player.

Q: Jason, what was it like last night after the pick? Were you able to even sleep afterwards?

A: I was pretty excited, but I got some rest. You know, I slept good. I knew where I was going.

Q: When did you get a sense that the Giants wanted you…did Coach Coughlin say anything on his visit to Tampa?

A: I found out when I came up for my visit.

Q: Well, what happened? What did they say that made you felt like it was a good fit?

A: They asked me a lot of questions. They asked me why I was on the football field. I got a pretty good vibe from it. That is basically it.

Q: Do you feel you can have an immediate impact when you start playing for the Giants?

A: Whatever they want me to do, I will do, you know. I’m ready to learn. I’m ready to be up front with them, basically.

Q: Have you heard from any of your new teammates yet?

A: I haven’t heard from any of my teammates yet. I’m still waiting for it.

Q: Jason, when are you going to come up here?

A: I’ll be up next Thursday.

Q: Jason, the Giants already have a lot of defensive ends as you know. How do you think you’ll fit in and do you think you’ll be able to get playing time with all the defensive ends there?

A: I know they have a lot of defensive ends. I’m ready to learn from them, you know. I’m ready for them to teach me (how) the whole process goes because they have been there and they know the defense. I’m ready to learn and help.

Q: You had a late start to the sport of football…can you tell us how that happened in high school?

A: My coach came in and got me. He dragged me into football. It was a pretty good gift, you know. I had just played basketball at first.

Q: How come he had to drag you, did you not want to play at first?

A: Nah, I wanted to play basketball. I had never played so I didn’t know what was going on. I was basically a basketball player and that was it.

Q: Did you like football immediately or did it grow on you over time?

A: It grew on me. It grew on me, you know. At first, I didn’t like it, at first. I didn’t really too much understand everything when I started to understand everything it grew on me.

Q: At what point did that change and at what point did you start to like football?

A: When I started to know what I was doing, I came around.

Q: Jerry Reese said that you’re ‘still very raw’, what percentage do you think is instincts and what part is from technical knowledge?

A: When I’m on the field, I do know what I’m doing. Otherwise I wouldn’t be on the field, you know. I don’t consider myself raw because I know what I’m doing. For the last three years, every where I went, they called me raw. At times they may call me raw but in the future they will see that I know what I’m doing. I don’t concern myself with that (being called raw). I’m still early in the process of learning, I guess.

Q: Obviously it worked out for you being a first round pick, what made you come out of college a year early?

A: Because I asked Coach Leavitt what he thought and he said he’d be selfish to tell me I need to stay. I felt like I had a good year at South Florida. The defensive coordinator said you had a great year, you should enter the draft, and I listened to him so that’s why I entered the draft. I also had the NFL system evaluate me before I declared and compared with other defensive ends, they came back with a 1st or 2nd round grade. So, now I’m here.

Q: Did you do any basketball stuff here for your visit, anything for Coach Coughlin?

A: I did not.

Q: What do you bring to a team? How good do you think you are at pass rushing?

A: I’m a very good pass rusher. Actually, I’m a great pass rusher. Pass rushing is just one of the things I can do though. I feel I can become better and better at that, and I want to come up to New York and hopefully become a better football player.

Q: The Giants coaches have called you a ‘freaky athlete’…do you think you have a physical advantage on the field?

A: I think that and I can say I am. I just think so when I’m on the field. I guess I am, I don’t know.

Q: Do you feel bigger, faster, and stronger than everyone else when you’re on the field?

A: Sometimes. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I feel like being faster doesn’t help, you know? It’s basically about what you do on the football field.

Q: Do you think that sometimes people don’t give you credit for actually being a football player and they just look at you as a freakish athlete?

A: No. I don’t really feel that way at all.

Q: You are joining a group of defensive ends that might not look kindly on a first round draft pick come into their position. Do you have a plan on dealing with that?

A: Not really. I’m going to come in and do what I have to. I can’t really say anything about that. Whatever the coaches need me to do, I’ll do, you know. Basically, if they need to do something, I’ll look at the coaches and see what they want me to do. Then, I’ll go all out. I’ll do what they want.

2nd Round – DT Linval Joseph, East Carolina, 6-4, 319lbs, 5.13

SCOUTING REPORT: Junior entry. Joseph has excellent size and has the long arms that teams crave in linemen. Very strong, Joseph bench-pressed 225 pounds 39 times at the NFL Combine. Stout – he can hold his ground against the double-team. Joseph does need to keep his pad level down more consistently. Strong tackler. Joseph is a good athlete for his size with fine quickness. He runs well for a big man. Joseph can push the pocket as a pass rusher, but needs to expand his pass-rush repertoire. Solid character. Joseph needs to improve his stamina and be more consistently competitive. He is raw and needs technique work, but he has a big upside. Very versatile – Joseph has the tools to play either defensive tackle position (1- or 3-technique) in the 4-3, or even nose tackle or defensive end (5-technique) in the 3-4.


From Friday:

Reese: Ok guys. Linval Joseph. Defensive Tackle, East Carolina. Gigantic Man. That’s where I can start with him. He’s a big human being. He’s powerful inside and a run stuffer. Push the pocket back toward the quarterback. Strong kid with a lot of upside for him as well. I’ll take any questions.

Q: You saying something about the defense with the first two picks?

A: We want to get better with our defense. We had a lot of points scored on us last fall. We are trying to upgrade our defense. We are trying to upgrade the entire football team, but we feel good about these past two picks, our first and second round picks.

Q: Do you see him as a nose tackle or will he play somewhere else on the line?

A: Yeah, he’s versatile. He can play the nose, he can play a three, he can play a three technique, he can play anywhere inside.

Q: There were questions about his pass rushing skills and some injury concerns…what are his strengths?

A: His strength is that he is a big man. He is a powerful force on a pass play. He doesn’t get pushed back an awful lot from the line of scrimmage and he holds his ground. He cleans up the lanes for the linebackers. I wouldn’t call him a pass rusher but he is disruptive. He can push the pocket and push the offensive linemen back in the quarterback’s lap. As far as his health concerns, we have no problem with his health concerns. We developed that stuff and don’t see anything as far as his health is concerned.

Q: After last year and the defensive line was brought down with injuries, are you more comfortable with the numbers and depth you have now?

A: Well, good. It is a good problem for us to have. We like to create competition at every position so we should see some good competition on our defensive line. Again, you’ve got to have some big people in this league. We play a lot of teams that have big offensive linemen like Dallas and Philadelphia and the Redskins. They have big offensive linemen and you have to match those guys.

Q: Is this a need pick as opposed to a value board pick?

A: No, it’s a value and a need pick. You know, he was in a good spot for us and we see a lot of value in this pick as well. We got a little bit of both from this guy.

Q: Did the round transpire as you expected?

A: I think you start to see a lot of guys pick a lot of need. We have our charts of who we think needs what. So, we kind of match up pretty good moving forward. We look at people and see what their need is. Sometimes you can’t always see what the needs are and teams reach for a guy. So, a couple guys came off a little differently than we had exactly on our boards. It is really not a need.

Q: Did the separation of a night keep the second round cooler or calmer?

A: No, I don’t think there is a big difference between starting at noon and starting at six. I don’t think there is anything different.

Q: With teams panicking, did you guys have a lot of discussion and find a need for middle linebacker?

A: We are looking for good players. If we can find a good linebacker, we will draft him. But, we feel good about the players that we drafted. A defensive end and a defensive tackle. Two really good football players.

Q: Did you discuss linebackers specifically? Were they in the conversation as well?

A: There were several positions we talked about, yeah.

Q: Is Jay Alford doing well in his recovery?

A: He is going to 100%. We’re looking forward for Jay to get back. Jay is one of those guys who can pass rush from the inside. He has that motor and quickness that you have to have when you play inside. He is working hard and we expect him to be 100%.

Q: He’s not slow in his recovery at all?

A: Not at all.

Q: Is this guy more of a Barry Cofield type player?

A: Well, this guy is a big anchor. He is a load inside and it’s hard to push this man back. He is kind of like one of those guys who is a presence and is like a human post. He’ll give the linebackers a chance to run to the ball and he will block the inside.

Q: What do your picks say about the defense?

A: It says we picked two good football players and we are adding some depth to our defensive line. There will be a lot of competition at the defensive front. You can never have enough good people inside. So, we have some depth right now, which can go quickly with a 16 game season. For right now, it looks pretty good.

Q: Does it say that the linebacker performance is predicated by the guys who are playing up front?

A: Well, that has a lot to do with it. If you have some big, good space eaters and block eaters up front, the linebackers can make a lot more plays. It sure helps if you have some guys who can pick up a lot more blocks. The linemen who help the linebackers can cut off the forward movement of the ball so you hope it helps.

Q: One of the scouting services had Joseph as a late riser…

A: I don’t think he was a late riser. Some people had him in the bottom of the first round. I don’t consider him a late riser. He is a junior and I think he has a huge upside for a young kid. The sky is the limit for him.

Q: With Canty playing over the nose, do you think Joseph comes in here and gives you more flexibility?

A: I think this guy is more of a nose. Chris can play inside and outside and he can play the three. We like linemen who give us a lot of flexibility. We picked two guys who can give us a lot of flexibility.

Q: I meant if he comes in and plays over the nose, does that give you more flexibility with Canty?

A: Yeah. I think Chris can play out in the three more. This kid is an anchor. They probably won’t try and let a three penetrate.

Q: Was he the highest rated player at the time of your pick? Does that carry forward? What if in the third round a defensive linemen is the highest player?

A: Well, if it is another defensive linemen, then we would consider it. You can’t play with 20 defensive linemen. We are cognizant of how many defensive linemen we do have. We are not over the limit yet.

Q: Then you go to need?

A: Well we go to good players. Again, we never try to get just need picks. We try and get a combination of both. I say this all the time, we stress that and try to do that. Sometimes we can and sometimes we can’t. Again, you can’t have 20 defensive linemen. Unless you have them go both ways, like you used to, Dave.

Q: So at what point do you have to consider need over value?

A: Yeah, I mean, need and value. It’s a combination of both thoughts. We continue to look for good football players, and that’s what is most important. We look for good football players. We are cognizant of what people consider our needs and what we consider to be our needs. Most importantly, is good football players.

Q: Do you agree that linebacker is an obvious need?

A: We are trying to create depth everywhere. Everywhere. All over the defense, all over the offense. Right now, we only have two picks and we picked two defensive linemen.

Q: Without identifying them, do you have obvious needs?

A: We have needs to get football players. Thanks guys.

From Saturday:

Reese: Linval Joseph is a big, powerful, point of attack defensive tackle. He gives us a big anchor inside and we talked about him.


Coughlin: Jerry (Reese) was just here and spoke to you about Linval Joseph. I will just tell you this, for another youngster, three-year player, he was 319 at his pro day, he ran 4.97, vertical jump 31.5 inches, he had a 20-yard shuttle that was very, very good under 4.7. He is an athletic young player, very strong – 39 reps on the bench. Stays down, very quick, you see a lot of athleticism and quickness in his play. You see more in terms of the tackles and the assists. He does have the ability to walk the offensive guard back. He doesn’t have a lot of production in the sack game. He does have thrown for losses, tackles for loss, pressures on the quarterback. A big, strong defensive tackle that can play on the center or as a three-technique, and a young guy, again, that we can work with.

Q: Is that why he is so impressive, he looks like he has a knack to get beyond the line of scrimmage.

A: I think he has outstanding quickness and power, obviously. When he stays down, keeps his pads down, he is very difficult to keep from penetrating. He is a penetrator.

Q: He is a nose?

A: No, he can be either way. When you watch him play on collegiate film you will see that he has played on the guard a lot.

Q: The last guy that was that big and could move that fast that you had here was Fred Robbins last year. Does he remind you at of him?

A: I think Fred is probably a little taller than Linval is, but the same kind of initial quickness – yeah.

Q: When you had Fred doing that kind of stuff for you, what did it do for your defense – when he was really healthy, before that knee thing and was able to get that quick push?

A: What we were able to do was to penetrate and of course to keep people off the linebacker level. No one was being pushed back into the linebacker depth. That is what has to be re-established again – keep some people clean so they can go to the ballcarrier.

Q: Speaking of linebacker, do you think you need to address that position quickly?

A: Well, we will see. It would be great if need and the valuation were at the same level – high. And we have a few more picks to make so we will see.

Q: Your first two picks haven’t come from big conferences. Any concern?

A: That is all taken into consideration when you put the grade on the player. I think there is some level of comp or number of years of service, however you want to say it, that may have been responsible for a tick or two being held back. But it still allowed the player to have an outstanding grade.

Q: Are you not surprised your first two picks were defensive players.

A: Am I surprised? Of course not.

Q: You are not surprised? This kind of makes sense?

A: I’m a part of the (process) – thank you.

Q: Did you speak with Skip Holtz about Linval?

A: Yes. We were at South Florida when Skip had taken that job.

Q: Can you share anything that he said?

A: About what I have just said – a real quality kid, first one in the weight room, shuts the lights out, hard worker.

Q: Since you have been here, has the Giants’ philosophy been to look at Combine numbers as one of the more important evaluations?

A: It has always been – it is a part of it. It has always been a part of the total picture. By itself? No, of course not. They always have to go on the field and play. But all of the factors – the interviews, the Combine, the Combine numbers, the speed, the height, weight speed, the medical – they are all put together to give you a final grade on the player.

Q: Did you have this guy in for a visit?

A: No. We were at his workout, sure. He had a very good workout, by the way. He had lost some weight and I think he was 328 at the Combine and probably 319 at his workout.

Q: Where would you like him to be?

A: Big, strong and as powerful as he can be. Whatever the weight is where he runs the fastest and is the strongest.

Q: How are you liking your defensive line now?

A: We are coming; we are coming. Get some of these guys that are here healthy and competitive again; that is a good thing.

Q: Does this kid have the explosion to split doubles?

A: (East Carolina) had a pretty good defensive front now. They did, they had some nice looking… But he has that ability, yes. As I said, if his pads stay down, it is very difficult to move him because of his strength. If he gets up a little bit – we all have issues.


Q: Linval, you come to a team that last year many thought had the deepest defensive line in the league. What do you think you can bring here?

A: First off, I can bring a big body. I’m ready to do anything. Whether it’s being outside and being explosive. I just want to help the team out anyway I can.

Q: Where are you more comfortable as far as positioning…over center or moving you out?

A: Man, it’s crazy. I can play inside or outside. I like to stop the run. I like to hit the running back, I don’t why. I just like to hit the running back. So, I like to play inside. I feel comfortable inside. But I also like getting outside and trying to hit the quarterback.

Q: After your freshman year, you woke up and lost the weight, what was your motivation there?

A: I don’t know. When I had the weight up, I was fine. It just got to a point where I was like this is disgusting. It’s hard for me to breathe, and it’s hard for me to tie my shoe. It was just too much. I guess when I got hurt and had back surgery that freshman year, I got tunnel vision. I saw that a lot of people don’t really care about me because I was in the hospital and three people called me. That’s when I really got tunnel vision and started caring about life and everything.

Q: What were you in the hospital for?

A: I had minor back surgery.

Q: Out of your whole entire team, only three people called you?

A: My mom, my coach came to see me, and a girl. I mean people called me but few people came to see me and try to support me to see if I was okay. It wasn’t a lot of people. Ever since then, I figured out my real friends from my fake friends. I just had tunnel vision, and I knew what I want to do and I knew what I had to do to do it.

Q: Sounds like loyalty is a very important thing to you. How important is it for you to pay the Giants back for them picking you and how are you going to do it?

A: By being a dominant player and helping them win games. Hopefully, we will win the Super Bowl and win playoff games. I just want to help them any way that I can.

Q: Did you have any idea the Giants were interested in you?

A: It’s hard to say because there were a lot of different teams. I don’t know. When I was at my pro day, and one of the scouts came up to me, I told him my story again. I had a feeling there that ‘Man, I’d really like to go to the Giants.’ Today, I played Madden and I play with the Giants. My brother had it. It’s crazy how everything came around this way and the Giants picked me. We were talking about them yesterday, and talking about them today. I played with them on the video game, and then they picked me. It’s crazy.

Q: Did they call and say ‘Hey, sit tight, we are going to pick you if you’re there?’

A: Yes. They called me a couple of picks earlier. It was crazy. I was excited and I was shocked. I didn’t know what to do. We talked for about 10-15 minutes and it was the best feeling of my life.

Q: Who called you?

A: Oh my god…who called me? So many people called me.

Q: Coach Coughlin? Jerry Reese? Who was it?

A: Hmm…which coach? I really can’t tell you off the top of my head?

Q: What else did you do today besides play Madden?

A: I got up this morning and went to the gym and worked out. I did some cardio. Came home, helped my mom around the house. Bought some supplies for the fish fry. I played a couple games and got ready. I pretty much got ready for the draft. Had a little party and I hoped for the best.

Q: You guys having a fish fry right now?

A: Right now they’re outside having a nice big fish fry.

Q: They going to leave you anything?

A: I already had my share.

Q: Do you see yourself as a nose or as a three technique?

A: I don’t know where I see myself right now until next week. Right now I’m ready to play the nose or the three, wherever I’m needed. Wherever I can help in or whatever position, I’m ready. I can play both so I’m ready for the opportunity.

Q: Tom said what impressed him was that you dropped 10 pounds between the combine and your pro day. What weight do you feel the most comfortable playing at?

A: Right now, I’m 315. I’m a strong and fast 315 and I can last for a long, long time at 315. But between 315 and 325, I feel pretty solid right there. 315 is where I like to be at.

Q: At 315, you’re not compromising any of your size and strength advantage?

A: At 315, I’m perfect. I’m strong at 315. When I get smaller than 315, I drop off a little bit strength wise. When I get down to 310 or 305, I’m not as strong as I’d be at 315 or a little heavier.

Q: The Giants a few years back went to the Super Bowl and the defensive line was an important part of that…did you follow that at all?

A: Actually I did. Michael Strahan on the sideline said ‘One more series, one more drive, we get the ball back and win this game.’ That’s what they did. They got the ball back and pretty much won the game.

Q: Were you rooting for the Giants?

A: Actually I was.

Q: You didn’t happen to watch them at the end of last season, did you?

A: At the end of last season, no not really. I was pretty busy.

Q: They only gave up 85 points in the last two games…

A: Oh man. Hopefully I can help with that.

3rd Round – S Chad Jones, LSU, 6-2, 221lbs, 4.59

SCOUTING REPORT: Junior entry. Jones has excellent size for a safety. He is a very good athlete – surprisingly fluid and agile for his size with nice quickness and decent range. Jones is a big hitter who can intimidate receivers. He is sometimes inconsistent in run support. Solid tackler. Jones needs to get stronger. There are conflicting scouting reports on his instincts against the pass. He has experience in both man and zone coverage. Jones is a good special teams player who has returned punts. Some have questioned his devotion to football since he also played baseball. Jones has the tools and has a big upside.


Reese: Athletic, big safety who gives us some depth at the safety position. He has some special teams ability. We think he has a big upside as well.


Q: What did you like about him?

A: Chad is a young, versatile player. He is a safety who plays in the box, and they play him deep. He returns punts. I don’t know if you guys know but he plays baseball, too. This kid has a nice, versatile skill set of things that he can do. He’s a big kid…221 pounds, 6’2″. He can run and he’s strong. He plays baseball so he hasn’t had a lot of offseason football training but we’re looking forward to what he can do in full-time football.

Q: He sounds like a nickel back, does he have cover skills?

A: Yeah, the kid is an athlete. He may have some of the best pure hands in the draft, out of any position. You can really see this kid’s baseball skills like hand-eye coordination catching the football. He can really catch it.

Q: I thought I saw that he was projected a little higher maybe…were you surprised he was still there?

A: I don’t know, man. The mock drafts had that I’m sure but we thought there was a chance that he could go a little earlier because of his skills. We are happy to get him when we did.

Q: You talk about him returning punts…is that something he can do at this level?

A: Yes. The way he catches it. At LSU, they had a couple guys but when they needed a safe return, they put him back there to secure catches. He had a 93-yard touchdown against Mississippi State. He can move with it, too. Our special teams coaches are excited. He’s done other things on special teams. He’s been the gunner, he’s been a personal protector on the punt so he has done other things on special teams.

Q: By not having full-time football training, is he missing some size and some strength?

A: He was 221 at the combine and was 225 at his pro day. He could be about 230 with some full time training. He is still not developed in his upper body and his chest. Obviously, with some baseball stuff, you don’t want to get too bulky and big. He could probably carry 230 easily, he might not want to be that big. With weight training, he’ll get more up there.

Q: He almost sounds linebacker size?

A: Yeah. The way they play linebackers nowadays, he is bigger than some of these linebackers who are barely six feet and 220 pounds.

Q: Is that something you guys thought about…moving him there?

A: Nah, he is strictly a safety.

Q: Strong or free safety?

A: He can do both. The way we use our guys, they have to be able to do a little bit of everything. And he fits right in with that. Because that is the way they used him there. You see him up in the box like a linebacker, sometimes you see him back deep playing cover two and single-high stuff.

Q: Sounds like he could be a good nickel linebacker?

A: He could be a good nickel safety, yeah.

Q: Are his cover skills as good as his tackling skills right now?

A: He shows you a little bit of everything. He is an explosive hitter. When he gets down in the box he is a big strong man, 221 pounds down in there. Sometimes during the year he played even higher than that. So he can do a little bit of both. I can’t really say one instead of the other right now.

Q: How would you compare him to a guy like Taylor Mays?

A: Taylor is probably more straight-line fast. This kid is a little more instinctive and athletic in his change of direction. Ball skills – definitely this kid is much better.

Q: When you were looking at him over time, was there ever any question of whether he was going to choose football over baseball?

A: He pitched on – they won a national championship a couple of years ago and he pitched and he was an outfielder. And that is definitely a concern. You have to figure that out with all baseball players. But he is fully committed to football. He sees himself as a football player. He is passionate about football. I think he is one of those kids that that could really could play ping pong or pool, he has that kind of skill set that whatever he picks up he will be good at. And I think that is what it was with baseball.

Q: With the philosophy here being value/need, the first three rounds not picking a linebacker, was that because the need isn’t what we perceive it to be – that you needed one in the first three rounds? Or was it more because value for linebackers was not there?

A: I’m sure Jerry and Coach answered that a lot. But when I set the board up I set it up by value and then we pick from there. Of course, if we have need picks in the same value range, then we talk about that. But what we have done so far is that we have value picks.

Q: This is the third guy that you have gotten that has come out of college early. Do you sort of have to tilt your equation in scouting a guy like that?

A: When you are scouting a junior?

Q: Yes, if he is coming out.

A: No, you may have to do a little more digging. You actually may do more work on juniors than the seniors because during the year with the seniors you have a few scouts that are in there. And then when the juniors come out you are almost more intensely going after the information and trying to find out just to make sure. But historically the juniors are the better players. You are identifying them. They are showing up on tape anyway so you are kind of looking at them throughout.

Q: The way your scouting system works, how many guys actually saw him play live?

A: Saw him play a live game or practice? Well, we have three scouts that do that area. I go down there. The coaches have seen him at the Combine.

Q: But in actual games does that mean that four of your saw him play?

A: I didn’t actually see him in a game. I saw him in practice, his pro day. Games are good to see but practices sometimes are just as good as a game look. LSU is one of the better teams where they have intense practices and you can see all of the skills that you need to see in a practice setting. We watch tape of all of the games.

Q: How would you rate the middle linebacker class in this draft? Is it not that strong?

A: I wouldn’t say that. Obviously McClain and then there may have been a big drop off. I don’t want to say it was weak but for us we didn’t have a lot of guys at high value there.

Q: For someone to excel in the SEC because that competition is so high it says a lot about his athletic ability.

A: Yeah, whenever you take a guy from the SEC you always – that is the best of the best. If you are good in the SEC, that is where the best athletes are and that is the way we look at it. So we are excited about that.

Q: Did you ever draft a closer?

A: No.

Q: That said, how do you project a kid from a East Carolina or even South Florida when you know the best athletes come out of the SEC? How do you make that projection? How do you rate a kid in terms of that type of competition?

A: You try to watch them against a better competition. Doing this and getting a data base of what a powerful guy looks like compared to powerful guys in the SEC. Is this guy more powerful? His individual skill set comparing it to other people at his position which will carry over no matter who he is playing against – his speed, the quickness, the intelligence. Whatever their individual skill set is, you just try to compare it from doing this for so long.


Q: Were you excited to learn your fate and come here?

A: Oh yeah. It’s a great place. I love that I went to a team where I have a guy on the team that I’m kind of familiar with. That has helped me out a lot with Corey Webster being on the team, especially since he’s a defensive back. Hopefully, he will show me the ropes and show me how to be a New York Giant.

Q: How well do you know Corey? Have you heard from him?

A: I haven’t talked to him in these last couple days, but I know him really good. I almost try and talk to him three days a week. We have a good relationship going.

Q: Was it a tough decision to stay with football and abandon the baseball career?

A: Not when I weighed out my options, you know. The number one thing is what I love more; what I would love to do more in my life. I chose football, so it wasn’t that bad of a decision. It wasn’t that hard of a decision. I know I made the right one.

Q: You think you could have made it in baseball?

A: You know, it’s a little bit slower game with a longer process. Yeah, I believe I have the tools to make it to the big show. I believe I had the tools to make it.

Q: Can you still throw a 91 mph fastball?

A: Yeah, I can still throw it. That’s what I average, 89-91 or 92. I could bump it up there pretty high to 95.

Q: Sounds like you like the game of football better…is that accurate, and why?

A: Yeah, that’s definitely accurate. Football games are much more exciting, and the fan bases are much better, you know. I like the commotion going and I like the excitement. There is so much more excitement on the football field. I just love the atmosphere, and that just fits me.

Q: Do you think because you played two sports that you’re a little behind in football now?

A: I wouldn’t say behind, but I didn’t get as much football maybe that I think would make me a better player. I think now that I’m focusing on football year round, I think you’re going to see the best of me. I feel that the best is yet to come. I think I had some good games at LSU and I had some strong points. But I think there is so much more to see what I have.

Q: How much did you talk to David Merritt, the Giants’ safeties coach?

A: Well, I took a visit out there, and me and him got along really good. He put me up on the board and taught me a few things. Honestly, I impressed him enough for him to want me on his staff, the defensive back staff. We had a few good conversations, and things worked out good between me and him.

Q: What impressions did you get of Merritt as a person and a coach?

A: First thing, when I got there, I knew that he knew what he was talking about. He was telling me about defensive schemes and he taught me so many things in such little time. There is so much more I can learn from him, you know. I feel that he’s a great teacher, and I think as a man he has a great character. So you have kind of like a role model and you want those type of guys around you, especially when you are trying to work to get somewhere.

Q: You think you can be an NFL punt returner?

A: I definitely can. I believe I definitely can. I have secure hands with the ball, so I definitely want the special teams coaches to put me out there. I hope things work well.

Q: When you played baseball, did you limit your size? Can you get bigger now as a football player?

A: No, I actually think I actually got bigger during baseball season. I was a pitcher, and I didn’t really do much running because I was in shape from football. I was basically one of the best players when it comes to conditioning wise on the team. I kind of blew up during baseball as a pitcher because I only pitched once a week. I would pitch 2-3 innings as a closer, and at night time they would actually give you a box of pizza. Sometimes we would have five games a week, so I’d get five boxes of pizza. It kind of sat on my stomach, without me doing much exercise or running, and I blew up. When I got back to football, the weight cut really quick because it was all extra and I didn’t need it on my body.

Q: Why’d you quit baseball? They gave you pizza.

A: Yeah, I know. They gave me pizza. I had the good life. I just felt that football was where I wanted to be. I had been playing that since I was four or five years old. I grew up in a football family. That’s just how it is.

Q: Do they actually know how to make pizza in Louisiana?

A: Yeah man. They got all that down, you know.

Q: Have you ever been to New York?

A: Other then when I came up on my visit, no. I didn’t really get to see much of the city. I hear it’s amazing. I just can’t wait to get out there for football, you know. I can’t wait to get out there.

Q: You said you are from a football family…did you put in a good word for your brother (LSU DE Rahim Alem) when you came on your visit?

A: When I went to the New York Giants on my visit, I talked about him. With me being close enough to my brother, I tried to say everything that I could about him to the Giants and all the teams I visited. I definitely put in a good word for him. Hopefully, in the next few hours, they will pull the trigger and bring my brother up there, too.

4th Round – LB Phillip Dillard, Nebraska, 6-0, 245lbs, 4.73

SCOUTING REPORT: Dillard lacks ideal height but he is a strong, well-built player with decent athleticism. He runs well, but lacks ideal speed, agility, and range. Instinctive, tough, and physical. He is tough against the run at the point-of-attack. Dillard is a good hitter and solid tackler, though he needs to break down more consistently in space. He also is a little stiff in coverage, but solid in that department. Smart and a good leader.


Reese: The new guy is Phillip Dillard, middle linebacker from Nebraska. Phillip is a rugged inside linebacker, tough, instinctive, smart, hard-hitting inside middle linebacker. We had him targeted for a while and we are happy he was still up there in the fourth round for us. We talked about him a little bit earlier but there were some more guys up there who we thought had the value that, at the time, was better. So, we rolled the dice and we came out with the guy we wanted at middle linebacker. We feel like he can come in and start competing right away for that job with some of the guys we already have.

Q: Dillard’s not the biggest linebacker, but is he big side-to-side?

A: Well yeah, he’s rangy and he’s smart. He can play in coverage. He is 6 foot 245 pounds. He’s not tall but he’s 245 pounds so right now he is probably the biggest linebacker on the team besides Sintim, just trying to think of our linebackers here. Maybe Jon Goff, he’s probably a little bit bigger. Heavier, I should say.

Q: I heard he played weakside…

A: He played in the middle. Middle linebacker.

Q: I thought he started at weakside…

A: He might have played some weakside but most of the time, he played in the middle.

Q: What makes you think this fourth rounder can come in and compete for the starting job as a rookie?

A: Well, we are going to put him in there and give him a chance with the rest of the guys. That’s what makes me think that. He’s going to have to earn the job just like the other guys we have here. We have some unproven guys so we are going to throw them all in the till and see who gives us the best shot to win games.

Q: Did you talk to the Pelini’s and his linebacker coach? Did he give you some type of advice or frame of reference?

A: We talk to all of their coaches. Our scouts have good relationships and they go in there in the fall all the time. They endorsed this guy and they think he is going to be a really good player. We brought him in for one of the visits we had with them and our linebackers coach really liked on the board what he saw and brought to the table. He thought that he could be a smart, tough inside linebacker that we’ve been looking for, and we’ll see.

Q: He butted heads with some of the staff there, do you have concerns about that?

A: Well, we researched all that as well. Again, that happens sometimes with players and staffs, and he did everything to get back in their good graces. They endorse him to the fullest right now, so we don’t have any problems with that.


Q: Talk about Dillard…

A: Phillip is a high energy, fast kind of player. He is a little on the short side but the guy is 245 pounds. He’s thick, and we expect him to play in the middle and compete for that job there. He’s a smart kid and he’s really been a tough worker there at Nebraska so we are excited about him.

Q: Did he play middle, weakside?

A: He played middle and WIL. He played both.

Q: He’s an interesting guy. We asked him how much he was helped by having Suh in front of him and he said that his coach was telling scouts that he helped Suh out as well.

A: Any time you have Suh in front, you know. He did, he did help the kid. I’m glad Phil tried to take some but he was lining things up and made a lot of the calls. I’m sure that’s what he was really referring to because he set the defense, called the fronts, and all that stuff.

Q: If he has to step in, is he capable of doing that here?

A: We have spoken to the defensive coordinator and everything. He’s another kid we had on the visit and we put on the board. He did a great job with that.

Q: You mentioned yesterday that there is a gap from the top linebackers from the next group, was Dillard in the next group?

A: Yeah, we had him in that next group. We actually talked about him at three (third round) and there was some good discussion about it. We thought there was a chance that he’d be available and that Chad wouldn’t be, so we decided to go that route and hold our breath, and we got him. It was a restless night’s sleep but it was worth it.

Q: Was there then another guy? You were getting to the point where everyone thought you needed to take a middle linebacker at some point?

A: We had some other guys later, but not really at that range where we took him. We weren’t going to force anything. We don’t do that and I know we come down here and say it, but we’re not going to force it. When you force players and you think it’s a need and then you get burned, and then don’t play anyway, then you have a bad pick. We were going to wait for the right person at the right time and we feel strongly that Phillip is that guy.

Q: Do you think that was the plan if you didn’t get McClain, that Dillard was the next plan?

A: Yeah, he was in that group when we would meet and talk about those things and set up scenarios. He was part of that scenario where if we don’t get a guy here in the top tier group then this guy will look good in that third and fourth round range.


Coughlin: Phillip Dillard is a linebacker that really fit a need and had the grade at that particular time in the fourth round for us to take him. The scouts were very impressed. There were some outstanding conversations. Jim Herrmann talked to the coaches at Nebraska. The scouts had an opportunity to watch the career of Dillard there and the way that he performed in his last year in terms of being an outstanding special teams player – a guy who had the ability to play coverage but also was physical, has the size, weighs about 245 pounds. So we feel like he can stand in there against the run. So we look forward to bringing him in as well.


Q: Your reaction to going to a team that has a dire need for a middle linebacker. I assume that has to be better for you than going somewhere with an established starter, right?

A: Oh, it is, definitely. I am ecstatic. When my name went across the screen, I knew what their needs were and after going down there on my visit I was like, “Wow, everything just fell into place.” It is amazing.

Q: It seems like they brought you in for a visit and maybe had some other conversations. Did you think they were a real possibility for you here?

A: Yeah, I did think they were a possibility. Talking to the coaches and the new defensive coordinator there – they were doing everything, they watched the film, they knew everything. They told me what my strengths and my weaknesses were. And they were accurate. I was like, “They were obviously watching the film.” And the Giants are a great organization. So I don’t think they would bring anyone here just to learn. I was ecstatic just to go on the visit. I knew there was a possibility and a chance and I’m glad it worked out the way that it did.

Q: How high did you expect to go and what did people tell you that may have led you to believe you could drop?

A: I was expecting to go like second or third. No one told me anything that would have expected me to drop. That is just the way the draft works. Every year things never go the way they are supposed to or planned. So I just had to sit there and wait for my name to be called. And it did.

Q: Just reading some stuff up on you recently – the injuries and having to earn the starting job back, it sounds like it was a tumultuous college career that kind of ended on the upswing there. What led you to maybe turn things around? Or what was it about your situation that allowed you to kind of regroup there?

A: It wasn’t really about turning things around. My mom had passed during that January. And I told her that I was going to do something that would honor the family and stay out of trouble and do the right thing. So all I had to do was work and not complain and not moan, knock the attitude, show great character, be happy, and not be a cancer in the locker room. And not be mad because things don’t go my way because that is just how life goes. Things don’t always go your way so I am going to have to work through that to be a man. And that is what I did and it worked out for the best.

Q: Do you think having gone through that makes you better prepared than the average prospect?

A: I wouldn’t say it makes me better prepared. Just the things I went through and the things and the knowledge that the coaching staff and everything that Nebraska as of me, yeah, I do have kind of a lead on and going through a lot. Everyone has a story to tell and everyone has a different story. But I do know that I am ready to make the transition and this is something that I have waited for a long time that I have worked for and I can’t wait to get it started.

Q: You played other positions at Nebraska – outside, weakside, middle. Is middle your best position? What kind of middle linebacker are you?

A: I can play middle or outside. Both I am great in the middle, too. I am great between the tackles. I always stay square. I never cross over. I am very physical and if you watch my film at times I might not get a play because I’m running downhill as I’m trying to knock out the pulling linemen because he is a threat to me, and I just love contact. I love being physical and aggressive. And my mental aspect is that I love to be in control of the checks and make the checks. And if you look at our defense, I made all of the checks from blitzes to checking high coverages, to checking man coverages and telling our corners or safeties or dimes what they are going to do and what check to make. That is just something that I love to do. I love to lead and have that on my shoulders, the quarterback of the defense. And if I get that responsibility, I am going to handle it with care.

Q: You did that this year from the weakside?

A: I did it this year from the MIKE because we were mostly in dime and nickel because of our conference. But even when I played WILL playing base, sometimes I would still make the checks and I would still make calls. I have to check blitzes though.

Q: You sound very much like Antonio Pierce. Have you followed his career?

A: Yeah, I have. And that is another thing that I knew. I know that he left, and that he is off the team. So I knew that it would be a good possibility and a good fit for me. And I mean it’s a great organization, the Giants organization is great. All you hear is good things about how they take care of their players and they respect the players and everything. I’m stuttering right now and I never stutter.

Q: How much did Bo Pelini prepare you for this draft and what pointers has he given you knowing that he has been an NFL linebacker coach before?

A: If he wasn’t my coach, I don’t think I would be in this position right now – and Coach Eckler and Coach Carl (Pelini, defensive coordinator). It is the whole mindset of everything that he has taught me. Like he will come into our meetings and give me the pointer and say, “What would you do here? What check would you make here? What do see about this offense.” And you have to know it and you have to say it. He won’t get mad, he would just go, “No, there is another thing.” There are always certain possible plays they can do from each formation. But the knowledge of the game that he has instilled in me is beyond reason.

Q: You obviously know there is an opportunity here. Do you expect that you will come in and win the starting job?

A: No, I don’t expect it. I expect to come in and make an impact on the team regardless of what they ask me to do. Whether it is to play special teams, learn the playbook, master the playbook, get the playbook down, then earn a spot, that is what I am willing to do. I just want to be a part of the team. I want to make an impact on the team. And I want to help this team go to a Super Bowl because I know that is the ultimate goal.

Q: I’m sure by now you know how the scouting process works, and I’m sure you have heard this before, people mention the fact that you played behind Suh and say, “Oh, that probably led to his production.” I’m guessing that you don’t agree. So if I said that to you, how would you counter that?

A: He is a great player; he is a phenomenal player – one of the best that I have seen in years. The thing I was always talking about is Coach Bo and Coach Carl told some of the scouts that if I wasn’t behind him that he wouldn’t have made a couple of plays because they had to game plan for me, too. And that I hadn’t expected them to say because everything I say is always, “Well, he is a great player and that whole D-line is and the secondary behind me is great. So I have to be great, I have to play great in order to not let my teammates down.” So that is how it started. I have to play up to their level to not let them down. So he is phenomenal player. But everything that Coach Bo and his staff taught me made me a good player.

Q: Am I hearing this correctly, you are questioning the second overall pick?

A: No, I didn’t say that – never. That man is a monster. He is a busy man, and he deserves all of the credit. I just help out; I just help out.

Q: You have no residuals from the ACL?

A: No, after I tore it I went through the rehab and I haven’t hurt it since. I don’t know the injury I got was just a freak accident. Someone pushed me on kickoff and I was going the other way and they pushed me opposite way and it popped. But no, it has been great ever since.

Q: It sounds like you are a real good film study guy. So what do you think the biggest adjustment is going to be as you try to compete for a job in the NFL?

A: Now that I don’t have to worry about classes. I get to watch film even more. So I’m just going to go in there and I’m going to be in there with the coaches, be on his ears and I will probably get on his nerves. “Coach, what do I do here?” I want to know everything, I want to know the in’s and out’s of everybody that we play, and then go to me watching the film and then me being able to pick out the offensive linemen’s stance – is it full; is too high, is it buzzsaw, is he standing on his feet when he backpeddles. Just everything. I watch for every little thing. I really watch film because I love giving a heads up on the players. It makes it look like I’m doing good out there but really I’m just doing my research and I’m playing off of it.

5th Round – OG Mitch Petrus, Arkansas, 6-3, 307lbs, 5.35

SCOUTING REPORT: Petrus is a versatile player who has played some tight end and fullback. Petrus is a tough, competitive, blue-collar-type who lacks ideal size. He plays hard, works to finish, and has a bit of a mean streak. Petrus is a good athlete. Petrus is extremely adept at pulling and engaging defenders at the second level – he adjusts well on the move. Though he is super strong (benched-pressed 225 pounds 45 times at the Combine), Petrus is more of position-blocker than mauler – he does not show that type of strength on the playing field. He does play with good leverage. Adding more bulk and getting stronger in his legs could help his power game. Petrus is a solid pass blocker due to his fine footwork and agility. But he needs to improve his hand technique and adding bulk may help him better against the bull rush. Because of his position switches and missing the 2008 season due to academic problems, Petrus is still raw and has an upside. He could project to center.


Reese: Mitch Petrus is the guard from Arkansas: tough, rugged, in-your-face guard. That’s what this guy is. He is hard-nosed, aggressive. He can pull and do all the things we ask our guards to do. This guy has a vicious nature about him, and we like his skill set for what we do with our guards…We think that the guard can go in and compete right away because he has a vicious nature about him. He wants to come in and compete right away. He’s a strong, strong kid. We think we have improved defensively, and the guard will create competition at the guard spot.


Q: Regarding Petrus jumping around – tight end, fullback – how much did that hurt his development?

A: It may have helped some, just having some versatility and having a different mindset with the different positions on the field. But he is a guy that is going to attack it from day one. When we called him he was excited. He is ready to go right now. If we told him to walk up here right now, he would be here ready to practice. So that is the kind of guy that he is.


Coughlin: Petrus, the offensive guard – powerful, the guy that set the stage with the outstanding number of reps out at Indianapolis; a strong, physical player; a guy who gives us some added depth inside. He was the right pick at that time for us as well.

6th Round – LB Adrian Tracy, William & Mary, 6-2, 248lbs, 4.76

SCOUTING REPORT: Tracy played defensive end in college but projects to linebacker in the pros. He has top intangibles – team captain, smart, hard worker, and a non-stop motor. Tracy has good size for linebacker and is a good athlete. Instinctive – he was a very productive college football player at a low level of competition. The big question is can he make the conversion to linebacker?


Reese: Adrian Tracy is from William & Mary, we are going to play him at outside linebacker on the strong side. He’s a projection. He was a defensive end and he had a bunch of sacks out there. We worked him out as a SAM linebacker and we think he can project to a SAM. He is a really good athlete, really smart kid and big kid. We think he has upside to project to a SAM linebacker and give us some depth at that position as well.

Q: With Tracy, wondering if he adjusted well to linebacker drills, did you see that?

A: Yeah, that’s one of the things that was, because they are guys who are projections. He had his hand on the ground most of the time when he was at school there. At his workout, there were a lot of people at his workout. One of our scouts was there and he really worked out well at his workout as a linebacker. The movement skills that you have to have at that position. He did a good job and we think he can project. If you think back, he kind of has a body type like Reggie Torbor, who we had here for a few years back. We think he is a little bit better athlete than Reggie Torbor was. Reggie was a defensive end at Auburn, too.


Q: Where are you on this Tracy kid as far as how quickly you think he can adjust?

A: We are real excited because he is a smart kid, obviously, going to William and Mary. Another guy we had in here. We researched extensively down there and he was probably the best note taker we had when we put him on the board of all the guys we had up in our visit. Very conscientious kid. When we interviewed him, the guy shows he is very bright and we have no problems with that whatsoever. We think he’ll pick it up really fast.


Coughlin: Tracy – we just had people that continued to speak about how highly they felt about his ability. Even though he played with his hand on the ground a great deal of the time, the projection was to linebacker. He played linebacker in the all-star games and there wasn’t any question on the part of the scouts that had seen him play that he could play from a stand-up position and be a linebacker at this level. So that is how that came about.

7th Round – P Matt Dodge, East Carolina, 6-1, 224lbs, 5.1

SCOUTING REPORT: In 2009, Dodge ranked second in the country in punting average – 45.8 yards per punt. Dodge has a very strong leg and gets good hang time on his punts. He also demonstrates good directional punting skills – 24 kicks downed inside the 20-yard line in 2009. Dodge can kickoff too, averaging 61.6 yards a kickoff in 2009 with six touchbacks.


Reese: The last guy we just drafted was Matt Dodge, a punter from East Carolina. Big legged, powerful, I mean this guy can hit some moon shots. There are some inconsistencies which most young punters have that we feel like he can come in and our special teams coaches can get him on the right track. I think he can be a good punter for us. He will be in the mix competing for that job.

Q: With Dodge, can he kick off, too?

A: Dodge can kick off, but I wouldn’t call him a kickoff guy now. Our coaches think he can get better as a kickoff guy so we end up having some versatility in that way. He is not a holder though, so that’s something he would have to learn. He does not hold for his college team. He does have some experience as a kickoff man.


Q: The punter…strong leg, weak leg? Obviously you guys think he has a strong leg:

A: Yeah, strong leg. When you see him, he’s not a typical punter looking guy. He’s muscular and 224 pounds. You’ll think he’s a safety when you see him walk up because he’s real jacked up. He loves to lift with his other teammates and stuff, and he’s an intense kid. He has a strong leg and we like those big guys. We don’t want those scrawny punters that can’t last a whole season so he has a lot of developmental qualities to him.

Q: Those reports that say he didn’t have a strong leg?

A: He didn’t have any of those. We didn’t have any, maybe some other ones in the league. We thought the kid had a strong leg.

Q: It also said he doesn’t mind going downfield and trying to make a tackle…

A: Yes. That’s what I’m saying. It’s the way the kid looks. He wants to be a football player. He kicks off and punts. So we love that. He wants to be a football player as either a kicker or punter.


Coughlin: We felt like that we would go ahead and not pass on this punter who was one of the two people that we felt were draft-worthy in this particular draft.

 Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports

QB Dominic Randolph, Holy Cross, 6-3, 223lbs, 5.00 (WAIVED)
Randolph played at a lower level of competition. He lacks ideal height but he is well-built. Good intangibles – smart, competitive, and a leader. Randolph sees the field well and makes good decisions on where to throw the ball. Accurate short thrower, but he lacks arm strength. Randolph needs to get rid of the ball more quickly.

QB Riley Skinner, Wake Forest, 6-1, 200lbs, 4.95
Skinner lack ideal height and arm strength, which hurts his game. Skinner reads defense well, makes good decisions, has a quick release, and is an accurate quarterback.  He has very good intangibles – he is smart and a leader.

WR Tim Brown, Rutgers, 5-8, 165lbs, 4.45
Brown is a tiny slot receiver who has good speed and very good quickness. He runs good routes, gets open, adjusts well to the football, and has good hands. Brown is tough for his size. He is dangerous with the football in his hands. Brown has experience as a kickoff returner but he is not explosively fast.

WR Duke Calhoun, Memphis, 6-4, 205lbs, 4.50
Calhoun led Memphis in receiving yards (923), receptions (68), receiving touchdowns (5), and in average yards per reception (13.6).

WR Victor Cruz, Massachusetts, 6-1, 200lbs, 4.47
Cruz has a nice combination of size and quickness. However, he is not field fast and struggles at times to create separation from cornerbacks. Cruz runs good routes, adjusts well to the football, and has solid hands. Tough, he will catch over the middle, but he is not terribly elusive after the catch. Productive, he finished his collegiate career with 131 catches for 1,958 yards. Cruz has experience in the return game.

TE Jake Ballard, Ohio State, 6-6, 256lbs, 4.90
Ballard is a tall tight end who has the frame to add more bulk. He is a good run blocker. Ballard has solid hands, but he is not much of an athlete. Thus, he is limited as a pass receiving threat. He is a lumberer, lacking speed and quickness.

OC/OG Jimmy Cordle, Ohio State, 6-4, 297lbs, 5.12
Cordle is a versatile lineman who has played four different offensive line positions. He projects be to inside at guard or center. However, he really struggled with shotgun snaps in 2008. Cordle has good size. However, he is not very strong or athletic. Smart.

OG Dennis Landolt, Penn State, 6-4, 306lbs, 5.10
Versatile – Landolt played both tackle spots in college but projects to guard in the NFL. Landolt combines nice size, arm length, and athleticism. Smart, tough, and hardworking. While Landolt is physical, he is more of a position blocker than mauler. He needs to play with better leverage and get stronger. Landolt has good foot quickness and can pull and engage defenders at the second level.

DE Ayanga Okpokowuruk, Duke, 6-3, 250lbs, 4.85
Okpokowuruk lacks ideal size and the dynamic athletic skills usually needed for a smaller defensive lineman. Okpokowuruk needs to play with better leverage and shed blockers more quickly. He does play hard.

DT Nate Collins, Virginia, 6-2, 290lbs, 5.10
Collins lacks size. He is a decent athlete with some explosiveness, quickness, and range. Versatile – he has played both nose tackle and defensive end. He probably is best suited to 3-technique defensive tackle. Collins plays hard and is tough and instinctive. However, he lacks strength and power and can be overpowered at the point-of-attack. Collins did show well at the East-West Shrine Game practices.

LB Lee Campbell, Minnesota, 6-3, 246lbs, 4.84
Campbell is an experienced three-year starter. Blue-collar type. Campbell has excellent size, but is limited athletically. Top intangibles – tough, physical, aggressive, and competitive. He is a two-down, run-stuffing linebacker. Campbell lacks range but is strong between the tackles. While he is usually strong at the point of attack, he does need to shed blockers more consistently. His lack of athleticism shows up in space when attempting to tackle nimble athletes and in coverage.

LB Micah Johnson, Kentucky, 6-2, 258lbs, 4.84
Johnson has classic middle linebacker size. He is a strong run defender between the tackles. Instinctive and physical. There are questions about Johnson’s lack of speed, range, and agility in space. According to some scouting reports, Johnson can be exposed in pass coverage and when attempting to tackle quicker athletes in the open field. He is not much of a blitzer. Basically, Johnson appears best suited as a 2-down run defender. Johnson tore his MCL in Kentucky’s bowl game and that clearly affected his his draft prospects.

CB Leon Wright, Duke, 5-8, 181lbs, 4.40 (WAIVED)
Wright lacks ideal size but he has proven to be a consistent player with decent speed and quickness. He is aggressive tackler, but he needs to wrap up more securely.

CB Seth Williams, Richmond, 5-11, 185lbs, 4.49

S Michael Greco, Central Florida, 6-3, 217, 4.40
Greco is a former quarterback who switched to safety his senior season. Obviously he is very raw. He has an excellent combination of size and athletic ability.

 Eric’s Take on the 2010 Draft

Overall, I am pleased with this draft. However, in the interests of full disclosure, I must admit that I am usually very pleased after each Giants’ draft. If you read my draft preview article for the Giants, you saw that I listed my number one need for the team being defensive line (both defensive tackle and defensive end), followed by linebacker. My focus was completely on the front seven of the defense. And the Giants addressed the front seven with more than half their selections (4 of 7).

Jason Pierre-Paul, or “Flippy” as I call him, is not a popular selection among many Giants’ fans. On the surface, it is easy to see why. We’re talking about junior who started only seven games at South Florida. Before that, he was playing for such collegiate powerhouses as the College of the Canyons and Fort Scott Community College. Seriously, with the 15th player in the entire draft? How the heck can the Giants take such a player so high, with so little experience against serious competition?

What IS interesting with Pierre-Paul is that many former NFL coaches or personnel men who are now media analysts like the selection. Furthermore, Rich Eisen of The NFL Network said on the broadcast that the Giants “crushed” the Tennessee Titans who apparently targeted him. And Pierre-Paul was widely discussed in the local and national media as a possible pick for the Giants at #15. Thus, it does not appear the Giants “reached” or made a Thomas Lewis-like selection that had more informed experts left scratching their heads.

Say what you will, but the Giants and Titans know defensive linemen. Right or wrong, if you believe team Director of College Scouting Marc Ross, the Giants had “Flippy” rated as the sixth-best player in the entire draft. It is pretty apparent that the Giants wanted middle linebacker Rolando McClain, but the Giants would have had to give up at least their #2 draft pick to move up that far. That was not a serious option. McClain is good, but he’s not that good.

When I look at internet highlights/lowlights of Pierre-Paul, I see a tall, long-limbed, incredibly athletic player who disrupts – even on those plays where he did not finish because he missed the tackle because he did not break down completely, bringing himself under control. The latter should come with improved technique and experience. He can play on the right or left side and he is going to give tackles fits with his first step. He also seems to be a good kid and a hard worker. Some scouting reports say he struggles against the run. “He can play the run,” says General Manager Jerry Reese. “He can play the run, the pass; he has the whole package. We think that he has the entire package as a defensive end.”

But a defensive end? The Giants don’t need a defensive end you say. Again, as I said in my draft preview, I disagree. Justin Tuck has been injury prone. Osi Umenyiora was benched last year and we still don’t really know where his head is at. Mathias Kiwanuka is a nice player, but he has not proved to be a difference maker. And it is VERY likely that Kiwanuka (free agent) or Umenyiora (unhappy) will be ex-Giants in 2011. In addition, while it is certainly possible that all of these guys MAY have stellar seasons in 2010, it is also certainly possible that all will not (again). Or perhaps only one or two will. The Giants’ defensive scheme is predicated on having three or four excellent pass-rushing defensive linemen. In a 4-3, your best players need to be on the defensive line. It’s why many 4-3 teams, including the Giants and Eagles, do not tend to spend a lot of high draft picks on linebackers. Now if the Giants ran a 3-4, then you focus more on the linebackers. It would be great to do both, but you can’t.

So what to expect from Pierre-Paul in 2010? The odds are that he will be a very valuable reserve who sees a lot of playing time in the Giants’ “four aces” pass-rushing package that became so famous during the 2007 NFL Championship season. Pierre-Paul, Tuck, Kiwanuka, and Umenyiora all on the field together? Offensive lines are going to have problems with that if everyone is focused and healthy. Keep this in mind too when evaluating Pierre-Paul’s rookie season: former NFL team personnel man Mike Lombardi said on The NFL Network that defensive linemen usually take a year to adjust to the pro game. His comments were in reference to the two top defensive tackles in the draft (Suh and McCoy). So the odds are that Pierre-Paul won’t seriously contend for a starting job his rookie year. But I would not count out the possibility. With proper coaching, he may quickly become the best defensive end on the team.

OK, second-rounder Linval Joseph. This is easily my favorite pick. As long as I have been watching the Giants, they have not had this type of 325+ pound mountain inside. Sure, the Giants have had good tackles – Jim Burt, Erik Howard, Keith Hamilton, Fred Robbins, etc., but no one with this kind of combination of size, power, and athleticism. It’s why I was pushing hard for Dan Williams in the first round. I wanted a HUGE nose-tackle type to plug inside along with Chris Canty, potentially forming a massive wall to keep opposing linemen off the Giants’ linebackers. Reese seems to concur: “This guy is a big anchor. He is a load inside and it’s hard to push this man back. He is kind of like one of those guys who is a presence and is like a human post. He’ll give the linebackers a chance to run to the ball and he will block the inside…If you have some big, good space-eaters and block-eaters up front, the linebackers can make a lot more plays. It sure helps if you have some guys who can pick up a lot more blocks.”

Now why not someone like Terrence Cody (Alabama) instead? Well Cody is limited athletically. He’s really only a 3-4 nose-tackle type while Joseph can play nose or 3-technique in a 4-3. Why? Because Joseph has better movement skills. He’s a better athlete. Joseph’s pass rush is really only the bull rush, but he can disrupt and penetrate too with good quickness for his size. Honestly, I can see Joseph starting as a rookie.

I do not have a good feel for third-round safety Chad Jones. Most fans expected the Giants to take a safety at some point as (1) insurance for Kenny Phillips, (2) someone to groom for 2011 since Deon Grant was signed for only one season, and (3) possibly force Michael Johnson off the roster. Jones is a guy with a lot of upside. He has a super combination of size and athleticism. The big question with him is instincts. Is he a player? Some are more optimistic than others. We shall see. But he is now easily the biggest safety on the team – almost linebacker-like in size. And based on comments from Ross after the draft, it is clear that the Giants thought he was a better prospect than Taylor Mays (USC).

The Giants finally addressed the middle linebacker spot in the fourth round. Phillip Dillard, who the Giants also considered in the third round, is a very interesting prospect. First of all, he has ability. Dillard has a nice combination of size and athleticism. He can play the run and, while not a strong suit, can cover. Just as importantly, he appears Antonio Pierce-like in being a big part of the Nebraska defense in making defensive calls, diagnosing plays, and getting fellow defenders set properly before the snap. “I am great between the tackles,” says Dillard. “I always stay square…I just love contact. I love being physical and aggressive. And my mental aspect is that I love to be in control of the checks and make the checks. And if you look at our defense, I made all of the checks from blitzes to checking high coverages, to checking man coverages, and telling our corners or safeties or dimes what they are going to do and what check to make. That is just something that I love to do. I love to lead and have that on my shoulders, the quarterback of the defense. And if I get that responsibility, I am going to handle it with care.” If Dillard pans out to be a younger, bigger, more athletic Antonio Pierce, what a coup that would be! Dillard has a decent shot to start as rookie.

There is a lot of confusion by fans regarding OG Mitch Petrus, a great value pick for the Giants in the fifth round. Because Petrus benched the most reps at the Combine (225 pounds 45 times), many think he is a mauling, root-them-out run blocker. He is not. That strength of his does not translate to the playing field. He is more of a position blocker than mauler. It is because of his build and lack of natural power in his lower body. But Petrus is very good guard who fits the Giants’ system. He may be the best pulling guard in the entire draft. And Jerry Reese described him as “vicious” a couple of times. This guy loves the game and will likely become a fan favorite. There is a good chance that he the Giants’ new starting left guard in year or two. But don’t count out Rich Seubert, one of my favorite Giants, just yet.

The Giants took Adrian Tracy in the 6th round – a small school, DE-to-LB conversion project. Those are two big obstacles to overcome to make it in the NFL. The good news is that Tracy is big, athletic, and very smart and hardworking. “He kind of has a body type like Reggie Torbor,” said Reese. “We think he is a little bit better athlete than Reggie Torbor was.”

In the seventh round, the Giants selected a punter who many felt was the second best punter available. This decision to do this became obvious immediately after the draft when it was revealed that Jeff Feagles is probably retiring. Matt Dodge has a strong leg and apparently has some decent directional punting skills. He will compete with Jy Bond for the punting job in training camp. One would figure that Dodge has a good chance to earn the starting job as a rookie.

Summary: Much obviously depends on Pierre-Paul. But if he pans out, there is a reasonable chance that the Giants came out of this draft with five eventual starters: Pierre-Paul, Joseph, Dilliard, Petrus, and Dodge. Unless Phillips’ knee is permanently screwed up, Jones will be stuck behind him and Antrel Rolle, but provide excellent depth. Tracy is insurance/depth behind Clint Sintim.

Apr 202010
The Offensive Approach to the New York Giants 2010 NFL Draft

by Sy’56, New Era Scouting

The perception among many resides around the concept that the New York Giants offense is set for both the present and future.  However the Giants are good, not great, across the board on this side of the ball.  While the offensive talent is not as strong at the top in comparison with the defensive prospects, there will be opportunity for Reese to upgrade the team speed and play-making ability on an offense that, at times, appears to be a step behind the rest of the league.  The Giants will look at the offensive line, tight end, running back, and possibly even the wide receiver positions this weekend.


Top 3

1 – Russell Okung – Oklahoma State – 91
2 – Bryan Bulaga – Iowa – 88
3 – Trent Williams – Oklahoma – 85

Top Mid Round Value

Kyle Calloway – Iowa

Top Sleeper

Chris Scott – Tennessee


After a very strong offensive tackle group in 2009, 2010 brings the draft another solid crop of athletes to the top two rounds.  Okung graded out higher than any of the tackles from last year’s crop, and I think he is going to be the next Chris Samuels for the Redskins.  Similar player that fits in well with what Shanahan wants out of his left tackle.  I’ve seen him absolutely dominate as a run blocker, sending defenders flying on to their backs.  He has the elite feet that are light and sound.  Bulaga was up and down for me, but he is a young athlete that showed flashes of dominance against some of his toughest competition.  Outstanding knee bend and NFL ready technique from top to bottom could warrant a #15 selection if he is there.  He plays with the low center of gravity that the Giants like in their offensive linemen.  Trent Williams was a name I had high expectations for because I was higher on Phil Loadholt (2nd round pick in 2009) than anyone I talked to at this time last year.  However the people I respect most told me that Williams will be the better pro player, and his 2009 campaign that would finally get him on the left side would prove it.  He did not meet my expectations but he is a legit first round talent.  Is he an option at #15?  Yes, but I believe there will be better players at positions of greater need.

Despite the top notch economic contribution of David Diehl at left tackle, I do not believe he is the answer for the long term there.  William Beatty will receive his opportunity, but he did not give me the amount of confidence I want in Eli’s blind side protector.  There may very well be the proper value available for this position at #15, and Reese should bite if it is there.  The offensive line must return to the dominant form we saw in 2008 if the Giants want to remain a consistent contender.  While they can survive with that is on the roster, they should look to locate the best value spot to add depth both inside and out.

I saw a lot of Iowa football in 2009, and their right tackle Kyle Calloway stood out to me each time.  He is a very long athlete that has light feet, natural knee bend, and strong hands.  While he could play the left side because of his tool set, he is a nice middle round target that could supply the proper depth at right tackle behind the oft-injured McKenzie.  Chris Scott was an unexpected addition to the South’s Senior Bowl roster, and he performed very well in each practice and in the game.  He played all over the line, mostly at left tackle, within the fastest conference in college football and performed well there too.  I want a lineman (offense and defense) that plays well with his hands.  Scott exerts massive pop from his bear paws and controls his man play in and play out.  A poor man’s Phil Loadholt here that could be a quick impact player if needed.


Top 3

1 – Maurkice Pouncey – Florida – 89
2 – Mike Iupati – Idaho – 85
3 – John Jerry – Ole Miss – 80

Top Mid-Round Value

Zane Beadles – Utah

Top Sleeper

Thomas Austin – Clemson


The grade that I placed on Pouncey will raise a few eyebrows I suspect, but I am confident in saying he is going to be one of the top linemen to come out of this class.  We have seen the bigger nose tackles in the league maul Shaun O’Hara to a point where the Giants interior rushing attack turns in to a non-factor.  Pouncey is a big body that moves well and one of the top performance’s I’ve seen out of him came against Terrence Cody.  He responds to the top competition very well and he brings one of the meanest attitudes in to the trenches every week.  Iupati’s stock soared sky high following the Senior Bowl week, mainly because that was the first  time the national audience really watched him.  Sure he is fun to watch and when he is on technique-wise, he obliterates 300+ pounders with ease.  But there is a lot of work that needs to be done with him.  Sheer power only gets you so far in the NFL.  He would not present the proper value at #15 overall, but if the Giants find themselves somewhere in the 20’s, he could be the pick.  Jerry is a guy I liked on tape, and loved in person down at the Senior Bowl.  Great body and he is a tremendous athlete that carries 320+ pounds with comfort.  He plays with natural nee bend and is capable of delivering a Leonard Davis type punch at the point of attack.  He should be there in the 2nd, possibly even in the 3rd and I would take him at either spot.

There is a lot to consider when it comes to the interior portion of the Giants offensive line.  Will Diehl eventually make the move back inside?  How much to O’Hara and Seubert have left in the tank?  No matter what, the Giants have room for one or two rookies in there.  Ideally they can grab a guy that projects at both center and guard if need be.  Adam Koets and Kevin Boothe as the backups can easily be upgraded with mid round selections and as I said before, the offensive line is not something you want to gamble on.  I would gladly sacrifice the possibility of selecting a play-maker for a top notch blocker up front.  Reese needs to keep this unit strong and deep because without that, it won’t matter how good your play-makers are.

Beadles is a versatile guy that I did not give a lot of attention to until late in the season.  He played left tackle at Utah and was 1st team all MWC in 2008 and 2009.  I think his future resides inside, and it is a spot where he performed well at in Mobile.  Very good drive blocker that plays low and quick, just how the Giants like them.  If the Giants are looking to add depth, I want a guy that can play across the line. Beadles has experience inside and out, and he would provide the security that the Giants do not exactly have.  Austin is another versatile option, but not on the outside.  He played center in 2008, winning 1st team all ACC honors and was a 2nd team all ACC guy as a guard in 2009.  C.J. Spiller raves about his leadership inside, very smart player that can provide the Giants with the eventual replacement to O’Hara.  Something they may need sooner than most want to believe.


Top 3

1 – Dez Bryant – Oklahoma State – 89
2 – Golden Tate – Notre Dame – 84
3 – Demaryius Thomas – Georgia Tech – 83

Top Mid Round Value

Jordan Shipley – Texas

Top Sleeper

Freddie Barnes – Bowling Green


We are starting to see rookie wide receivers make that early impact more and more with each season that passes.  Dez Bryant, despite not playing for the majority of the 2009 season because of a suspension, is going to enter the league as one of the most NFL  ready receivers I have seen in a long time.  He is built like a young Terrell Owens and I love his ability on game day.  He is a tough, physical receiver that shows the deep speed.  Excellent tracker of the football that is at his best near the end zone.  The Giants seem to have a strong unit already in place at WR, but selecting Bryant could prove to give Manning a legit #1 receiver.  I did not give Tate a ton of attention during the season, but luckily I got to watch 4 of his games on tape after he declared for the draft.  He does everything you want a receiver to do, especially in the Giants scheme.  A big time threat with the ball in his hands, Tate could bring that much needed play-making ability to New York if the Giants can make a move up or down in to the 20’s.  I’ve spoken at great length already when it comes to Thomas.  His upside his higher than any of the other receivers in this class.  If he can fully get over this foot injury, he will need a year to learn the nuances of an NFL offense.  He ran a limited route tree at Georgia Tech and he is coming off a broken foot, which only slows down his much needed progression.  While he is a risk, Thomas has the ability to be a special player.

A quick glance at the roster and one could easily believe that there is zero chance we see Reese going after a receiver early in the draft.  While they can win with what they’ve got, they still lack a true #1 threat that consistently demands double teams.  If the proper value presents itself anywhere in the draft, Reese should look to add another body in there.  Hixon and Manningham are far from sure-things, and in today’s NFL you need at least three quality receivers.  This is a pretty average group across the board, but if there is one thing I think the Giants offense could use more of, it is yard-after-catch ability.  Nicks showed flashes, but grabbing a receiver that can do a lot after he makes the catch would give this offense a different look, something they have not had in quite some time.

Shipley, despite being one of the more productive receivers on one of the best teams in the nation over the past few years is a guy that is being overlooked.  He plays with outstanding game speed, as I’ve seen him run away from numerous speedy defensive backs.  He is a bigger version of Wes Welker.  Having him and Steve Smith roam the underneath and intermediate route tree will give Manning a ton of confidence as well as open up lanes down the field for Nicks and Manningham.  He will be a 3rd or 4th round consideration for me.  Freddie Barnes, yet another highly productive receiver (155 catches in 2009 alone) impressed me in his week of practice at the Shrine Bowl.  Literally catches everything within reach and he is one of the most route-savvy receiver’s I’ve ever seen.  He lacks the speed of the Giants own Steve Smith, but he can be a similar player to him right away.  Projected as a 7th round/FA type, Reese should give him a serious look if their draft class is WR-less late.


Top 3

1 – Rob Gronkowsi – Arizona – 84
2 – Logan Paulsen – UCLA – 77
3 – Jermaine Gresham – Oklahoma – 76

Top Mid Round Value

Garrett Graham – Wisconsin

Top Sleeper

Logan Paulsen – UCLA


Not a very strong group of balanced tight ends that can do it all here.  However the class has a good amount of guys that can really block, or really move well and create mismatches in space as receiving threats.  With that said, Gronkowski is one of the more complete tight ends I’ve scouted.  He missed all of 2009 with a back injury that needs to be investigated but the games I have been able to watch from 2008 were very impressive.  Tremendous drive blocker with a pair of big, soft hands.  He will be a first round pick but the fit is not here with the Giants.  Every year I have at least one guy that I have a much higher grade on than anyone out there.  This year?  Logan Paulsen from UCLA.  He was used in a tight end rotation at UCLA that hindered his ability to show his skill, but I am confident he can be a big time threat at the next level.  He is the best blocker in the group, and he has shown surprising athletic ability with the ball in his hands.  NFL-ready body.  NFL-ready technique.  NFL-ready mentality.  I’ll discuss him more in the final tight end paragraph.  Gresham needed to have outstanding workouts for me to put him in to the first round tier because the notes I had on him from 2008 were merely average.  He lacks the top tier athleticism I want in a receiver, but also does not play with the physicality one should at his size.  He will likely be off the board before I feel the value is right for him as a Giants draft pick.

Kevin Boss is the present and future at the tight end position, and this is a spot that does not give a notion of big time need.  But in a system where the team asks a lot out of the backups, there could be better depth.  I was not a fan of the Travis Beckum selection in 2009 and while he deserves a shot to be a difference maker, he is not a guy that I would base draft day decisions around.  The talent the Giants have competing for the third spot is less than appealing.  There are some outstanding late round blockers that could fit in well here, and I expect Reese to go after one of them.

I got to see a lot of Garrett Graham in 2009 and to be honest, I feel he is entering the league as a more attractive player than Beckum was coming out.  Very good catcher of the football that shows high effort each play.  He needs to add bul so he can compete as an in-line blocker, but he showed surprising ability to lock on to a defensive lineman and take him out of a play.  Chris Cooley type here.  And back to Paulsen, a guy that may not even be drafted.  I watched him completely dominate both Tyson Alualu and Everson Griffen at the point of attack.  He plays low and strong, showing tremendous lower-half flexibility.  He was always found locked on to this defender he was assigned to, keeping his feet chopping and playing through the whistle.  As a receiver, he has a few long plays to his name that show his sneaky speed and efficient route running.  On top of that, he does not just move a pile forward, he carries it a la Bavaro.  He is going to be one of the top late round steals in this class and he fits in perfectly with what the Giants need at the position.


Top 3

1 – C.J. Spiller – Clemson – 88
2 – Ryan Mathews – Fresno State – 81
3 – Jahvid Best – California – 78

Top Mid Round Value

LeGarrette Blount – Oregon

Top Sleeper

Deji Karim – Southern Illinois


From day one I have been a huge supporter of selecting C.J. Spiller should he fall in to the Giants lap at 15.  I don’t see it happening because of the league wide desire for speed and versatility, arguably Spiller’s top two traits, but it is still a possibility.  Giving him 8-10 carries, 4-5 passes, and a return responsibilities early on would give the Giants another dimension on this team that they have not had since Barber’s early days.  He is a tough, hard nosed kid that plays through pain and pours his heart out on to the field.  That mentality with that talent, it just does not get much better than that.  Mathews is one of the safer bets in this class because of the skill set he brings to the table.  He is the best inside runner in this draft, and his ability to rip off the big run in key situations is not something that should not go overlooked.  Does not fit the value for the Giants in round one however.  Jahvid Best is a hard guy to figure out, but the potential reward here is enormous.  His speed and explosion is in that Chris Johnson tier, but he shows no ability to break tackles and that is the number one thing I look for in a back.  Because of that, he is a 2nd or 3rd round option for the Giants but will likely be off the board before then.

I feel there is a greater need than most want to believe at the running back spot on the Giants roster.  If there is one aspect of the offense I have soured on, it is the lack of speed and receiving ability coming out of the backfield.  Jacobs is what he is, a mauler that can wear down defenses but has major issues staying on the field.  Bradshaw is a gutsy runner that can handle 10-15 carries per game.  Danny Ware and Andre Brown are unproven but show the ability to add more power to an already strong rushing attack.  However none of those guys are players that really run away from defenses.  None of those guys can come out of the backfield and give you the receiving skill set that Barber left with.  Adding a speed dimension to the backfield would balance out the slow footed offense and put more points on the board for a team that is a bit behind the curve in that realm in comparison with the league’s elite.

When it comes to Blount, I have to be honest and say I’ve only seen two game tapes.  One of which was his horrid performance at Boise State.  However what I saw out of him down in Mobile was enough for me to believe that he has legit first round talent.  The character concerns are noted, but its not like he has been in and out of rehab or spending years in jail.  He has a temper issue, and he plays like it.  I want that on the Giants.  He has surprising speed in the open field, not just a bruiser inside.  He also blocks better than any back in this class by a wide margin.  I could see the value for him in the 4th round and I think he will be there.  I discussed Deji Karim with you guys last week I believe, and he finished with a grade just under Jahvid Best.  Very fast runner with excellent short area burst.  Has the NFL-ready bulk to his body.  I’d like to see him come here and compete with the guys at the bottom of the depth chart and simply let the best man win.

Apr 192010
The Defensive Approach to the New York Giants 2010 NFL Draft

by Sy’56, New Era Scouting

In a draft where there is very solid crop of high grades on the defensive side of the ball, the New York Giants are going to be in great position to add a fine talent to a unit that really underachieved in 2009. I am going to cover the four defensive positions that I feel will be addressed this week. Defensive Tackle – Linebacker – Cornerback – Defensive End. The way I am formatting this is that I will give you my top three grades for each spot, my top mid-round value (by mid-round I am talking about a player that is being projected for that region by guys I trust), and my top “sleeper” of you will.


Top 3

1 – Ndamukong Suh – Nebraska – 91
2 – Gerald McCoy – Oklahoma – 90
3 – Jared Odrick – Penn State – 84

Top Mid-Round Value

Al Woods – LSU

Top Sleeper

Corey Peters – Kentucky


This is a very strong group at the top, with Suh and McCoy receiving grades at or above that 90 mark, which is reserved for the elite talents according to my scale. Neither will be options for the Giants however, unless Reese feels like emptying the cabinet. Jared Odrick is a guy I really like, but he doesn’t fit the need the Giants have along that defensive front. He is a penetrator that can get off the ball and slip blocks with consistency, but he is not a space/blocker eater. If the Giants wanted to add another pass rushing force in there, Odrick would be my guy after the top two of course. However with Canty, Alford, and even Tuck already in place as the team’s 3-Technique type, I don’t see Reese making that kind of move.

If the Giants don’t get a DT with that first pick, I think it would be a smart idea to wait until the middle rounds to go after one. I don’t see the value after those top 3 in the first or second round. Dan Williams is a name we see a lot of on this board and even though I was one of the first to discuss him back in September, he is not a top 15 prospect on my board. I feel he is too one-dimensional for a 1st round pick. Cam Thomas is a 2nd round name I see tossed around, but I think he is too much of a reach in the 3rd. Reese cannot afford to sacrifice value for a big body, because what the Giants already have on that defensive line combined with what they can acquire later in the draft is good enough.

Al Woods was a guy that never quite reached his full potential at LSU, but he has enormous talent. Huge body that can play a variety of roles, won’t need a lot of time before he can be thrown in to the trenches. I love his ability to demand and eat up double teams. Exerts a lot of power from his hands and he brings the attitude that New York has lacked inside for a few years. Peters is a guy that most don’t know about, but he caught my eye in 2008 when I scouted Myron Pryor (New England). Definitely the better player among the two and he is an Alford-type. He gets off the ball well, disrupts the offense consistently. Had a nice career in the SEC and he steadily improved throughout his tenure down there. Has room for another 10-15 pounds easily.


Top 3

1 – Rolando McClain – Alabama – 92
2 – Sean Weatherspoon – Missouri – 85
3 – Koa Misi – Utah – 85

Top Mid-Round Value

AJ Edds – Iowa

Top Sleeper

Ryan Stamper – Florida


In a year where the Giants are going to enter the offseason with just one of the three starting linebacker positions secured, there is going to be plenty of opportunity to add the right fit for this defense. McClain is one of the highest-graded linebacker’s I’ve ever done, and there is a legit shot he falls in to the Giants lap at #15 very much like Brian Cushing did to Houston last year at…#15 overall. He is a gamer that will control the opposing interior running game every week, provide the leadership we had in Pierce, and bring a swagger to a lackluster defense. He is a physical tackler that is athletic enough to control the tackle-to-tackle box. NFL ready from day one. Weatherspoon is BBI favorite and I do like him, but he is not the immediate impact player that McClain will be. There is a lot to like with him, but I am hesitant on him because of a few game tapes I watched and saw him really struggle in space. Now that is not a major issue when it comes to the MLB spot, but I think there is better value at his position later in the draft. Misi is a name we rarely talk about here, mainly because he was a defensive end that occasionally dropped back in Utah’s unique scheme. But he shocked me with his athletic ability down in Mobile and he put up some impressive workout numbers. He is a natural SAM linebacker and would be a nice fit for what the Giants are going to do on defense. Brings a lot of versatility to the table and he is a much better cover guy in space that most know.

Now if McClain is off the board by the time New York is on the clock, I think the best strategy would be to wait on the position. The linebacker position is very unique when it comes to the draft in that the wide variety of schemes really provide a huge discrepancy on the grading sheet for these players. Some teams may have a guy that is a top 50 player, while other teams may cross him off their board because of the skill set or lack thereof. This provides the opportunity for good players at the position to “fall” to your slot. There will be a nice value every time the Giants are on the clock and while I feel it is the top need on the Giants roster, Reese must be patient and make the most efficient move here.

AJ Edds is a guy that, I’ve been told, will be a 4th-5th rounder. Personally, I feel he warrants a top 100 pick and the Giants third. He is a big body that does need to add some bulk, but he is an outstanding athlete on the field. Moves naturally in coverage and is always around the action. He was overshadowed by Angerer at Iowa, but Edds is by far the better pro prospect and gives the Giants a versatile athlete that could make the transition to the middle a la Stewart Bradley. Ryan Stamper is a projected undrafted free agent, but I really don’t see a huge gap between him and Brandon Spikes. Stamper lacks the NFL-ready size but he showed a knack for big plays and he reads the action in front of him quicker than Spikes. Very good athlete that has plenty of range and has the ability to make himself small and slippery to blockers. Spending a 7th round pick on him would provide outstanding value.


Top 3

1 – Derrick Morgan – Georgia Tech – 90
2 – Brandon Graham – Michigan – 87
3 – Jerry Hughes – TCU – 83

Top Mid Round Value

Jermaine Cunningham – Florida

Top Sleeper

Willie Young – NC State


My grades for the defensive end position stand out the most when I contrast them with other analysts across the web. Morgan is a coach’s dream, and he would be a welcomed addition to the Giants defense. Problem is, there are a few names that love this kind of player and have a need for the position as well (Holmgren and Parcells being the top two). The endless motor combined with his sky-high potential physically makes him one of the safer bets in the class. Versatile weapon that can be used like another Justin Tuck…inside-out and left-right. He is one of the few players I would make an aggressive trade up offer for. Graham’s grade is very up and down with the people I talk with, and I am obviously one of the evaluators that really likes his game. His ability to get off a block and explode within a five yard window makes him the perfect fit for the NFL trenches. I think he is a legit option for the #15 pick and while it would be a surprise, he’ll pay off enormous dividends. Hughes reminds me of a young Osi, but with a more developed frame coming out of college. Outstanding levels of production. Not just a 3-4 OLB prospect, has the body and strength to play a 4-3 DE spot. Won’t be a top 15 value but he could be a surprise 2nd rounder that falls in to the Giants’ lap.

With Kiwanuka-Tuck-Umenyiora-Tollefson already in place, the Giants could afford to wait a few rounds until they address the position. That is a solid rotation that is fully capable of being a top notch unit. However at the same time, the importance of the position and the up and down of play of Umenyiora and Kiwanuka on top of their status’ with the franchise (contracts and attitude), gambling on the concept of passing on good talent off the edge is not the right strategy. The second Reese sees the proper value, no matter what round, he needs to grab hold of it and run. Good defenses use a wide rotation up front and there is certainly space for another defensive end here.

Every year there are a few underclassmen that jump out at me when I’m scouting another player. Well in 2008, I thought there was a good chance Brandon Spikes would declare after his junior year, thus I started to grade his games. Jermaine Cunningham jumped out at me play after play and I started to jot down some notes about him. He is very explosive off the snap and he plays with tremendous, NFL ready, technique. He uses his hands well and constantly plays lower than the blocker. He has a bright future in the NFL as long as he can stay at 265+. Willie Young enters the draft as a similar talent to what Kiwanuka was after his sophomore year. He is very long and lean (6’5 – 250) but he obviously has the frame to hold another 20 pounds easily. He has the explosion off the edge that can be matched up with anyone in this class. I actually have him graded right under Jason Pierre-Paul, but he is a talent that can be had in the later rounds. He is a developmental athlete that has shown flashes of top notch ability against solid competition. If he can find and keep the motivation, he is a 10-12 sack per year guy.


Top 3

1 – Joe Haden – Florida – 90
2 – Kyle Wilson – Boise State – 89
3 – Kareem Jackson – Alabama – 84

Top Mid Round Value

Chris Cook – Virginia

Top Sleeper

Walter Thurmond – Oregon


A quick look at the roster and you may think the Giants are not even considering a cornerback at the #15 spot. But I can almost guarantee (as much as someone that is not “in the know” can) that Reese would not pass on a talent such as Joe Haden. Haden is the prototypical cornerback for the Giants defense, as he can maul a receiver at the point of attack but has the athletic ability to shadow a receiver in man coverage. While some have a concern with his lack of top end speed (timed anyway), I believe he is going to be a Charles Woodson clone in the NFL. Wilson is a guy that I did not get to see a lot of on tape. But he sold me down in Mobile because I literally struggled to find a single weakness in his game. Just watching him live, the way he shadowed receivers, anticipated throws, and how he beat players up at the point of attack was incredible. He is an Asante Samuel clone that will shine in the NFL. He would make any decision difficult at #15 if he were available. Whenever I watched Alabama in 2009, I was impressed with the way Jackson played in relation to what the Giants ask out of their corners. I think he is the top press corner outside of Wilson in this class. He lacks the great top end speed but he is a savvy defender that got the job done against his toughest competition. Very physical corner that can support the run. Not worthy of a top 15 pick, but there is a shot he is still on the board in the 2nd and that would be an outstanding value selection.

I differ with a lot of BBI’ers when it comes to the evaluation of the Giants cornerbacks. I firmly believe there is room for another early pick if the value matches. Corey Webster (who didn’t have a strong 2009) is the only guy I feel completely confident in as an every down cover man. Ross has had major issues staying on the field, and Terrell Thomas is a #3 guy in my eyes. There may very well be the opportunity to grab a player that can step up as the #1 guy over the next few years. However with that said, the talent that is already on the roster at this position is good enough to help form a top notch unit. And keeping that in mind, there are a handful of prospects on my sheet that will provide solid value in the middle rounds. So if Wilson-Haden are both off the board in round one and Jackson isn’t there in the second, Reese should wait until the middle rounds to find the proper scheme fit.

Speaking of scheme-specific defensive backs, Chris Cook out of Virginia is a guy that would fit in perfectly. The long armed, 6’2 corner showed surprising athletic ability at the Senior Bowl and I don’t think he will be forced to make a position move at the next level. Somewhat similar to Sean Smith from the Dolphins, Cook is a guy that understands the advantages of his length and how to hinder the weaknesses. Thurmond is the one guy in this class that you look for when it comes to looking for a injury-related value. He tore his ACL early in the season, ending his bid to be the top senior cornerback in this class. Prior to the injury, he was arguably the top defensive playmaker in the country. He was an exciting talent that displayed outstanding anticipation and ball skills. He should be at full strength by the time training camp comes around and even if the issue persists, he can be placed on IR for a year and return to live action 2011. That would give the team an opportunity to really find out what they have on the roster at cornerback with the knowledge that they will have a guaranteed talent in the wings.


Top 3

1 – Eric Berry – Tennessee – 95
2 – Earl Thomas – Texas – 87
3 – Morgan Burnett – Georgia Tech – 86

Top Mid Round Value

Darrell Stuckey – Kansas

Top Sleeper

Jeromy Miles – UMASS

Eric Berry sits atop of my 2010 big board, receiving the second highest grade I have ever given to a player since I started the process (1st being Calvin Johnson with a 96).  In January I was able to convince myself he could drop into the 10-12 area, making a trade up possible.  But the more I read and the more people I talk to, Berry is a top 7 lock, making him a very tough player to trade up for.  Earl Thomas is a fun player to watch, but he is a buyer-beware guy at the next level because of his reckless style in combination with his lack of size.  Somewhat similar to Bob Sanders on the field, Thomas is a true play-maker that is willing to put his body on the line, perhaps too willing.  He is still an option however at #15 despite the Giants being set at the safety position for 2010.  He can play some corner and give the Giants multiple options on passing downs, as well as secure the middle of the secondary for the long term future.  Burnett is somewhat of a sleeper.  Not in the sense that he will be available late in the draft, but he has top 15 ability.  Exceptional anticipation and ball skills with a great NFL body for the position.  Physical player that brings it each week.  An option at #15?  Most likely not but there could be bigger surprises.

With the signings of Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant combined with the hopeful healthy return of Kenny Phillips, the Giants appear to be set at safety.  However I would not rule out a surprise pick at the position because Fewell likes to mix and match his defensive backs if what he did in Buffalo was any sort of indicator.  One of the strengths of this draft resides in the middle rounds at safety, with 11 players receiving a grade of 74 or above in contrast to just 5 a year ago.  There may not be that true center-fielder type outside of the top two rounds, but there are several guys that can play the box well and provide the solid coverage of athletic tight ends.

Darrell Stuckey has had weeks over the past few years where he looked like a first round caliber talent.  And its not like he would completely disappear, as he was always a consistent and steady player at the very least.  He has tremendous speed on the field that recovers well over the top and he is very quick within a phone booth.  Seems like the perfect fit for a strong safety that is given the responsibility of shadowing the likes of Jason Witten, Brent Celek, and Chris Cooley.  I’ve actually seen a lot of UMASS football over the past few months, and Miles is a guy that jumps out at me every time.  Actually fairly similar talent to Stuckey, but played at a lower level of college football.  Good vision when looking downhill and he reads routes exceptionally well.  Very aware of his own talent and the players around him.  Late rounder that could push Michael Johnson out of New York.

Apr 142010
New York Giants 2010 NFL Draft Preview: Process and Picks

by Colin Lindsay, Great Blue North Draft Report

Just about every year there comes a point in the draft process when the amount of information and misinformation out there passes a critical point and one is tempted to simply say “Enough! Let’s get to the picking.” We probably hit that point sometime over the weekend and there is still over a week and a half to go until the draft. Indeed, the 2010 NFL Draft has been characterized by as much fluidity as any we have seen in recent years. And while trying to predict how a draft will evolve is usually right up there with herding cats, this year’s is especially hard to get a hold on. On the one hand, the top 5-6 prospects appear to reasonably well set, however, there continues to be a lot of movement pretty much through the rest of the top 45-50 prospects. On the one hand, there are a lot of very talented prospects in the 2010 draft. However, many have some kind of wart or two and as a result there has been a lot of ‘yo-yoing’ going on.

Of course, NFL teams don’t have the luxury of simply throwing up their hands in despair and throwing a dart at the proverbial draft board hoping! Indeed, as we speak, the New York Giants personnel staff, like their counterparts around the league east of Oakland, are putting in 13-14 hour days squirreled away in the team’s war room assembling their final draft board. Starting with the defense and then moving on to the offense, they assign grades to just about every prospect available this year. Then once individual grades have been assessed, the staff will cluster players with equivalent grades into levels or rows. The essence of the ‘Best Player Available’ theory is that teams take a player from the highest level or row which still ha players available.

What makes the whole process so difficult to predict, of course, is that every team will have its own board. And of course the Giants are no exception; indeed, the Giants’ board may actually vary a little more from the consensus board that a lot of other teams. That said, the chart below would appear to be something close to a typical NFL value board at this time, at least based on the thinking of the more respected draft analysts around. Of course one could argue ad infinitum as to which exact row several players belong in, however, the bottom line for the Giants is that picking 15th overall, they’d really like to come away with a player from either of the top two rows. At worst, they will want to come away from the draft with a player from at least the 3rd row, although again, as noted, it is almost impossible to know which particular players the Giants have graded in that level. The one thing one can take to the bank is that the Giants will stay true to their board meaning that they aren’t likely to reach for a player in the opening round simply based on perceived need if that particular player isn’t in the top remaining level on their board.

Row Players #s
1. QB Sam Bradford; DTs Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy; FS Eric Berry 1-4
2. RB C.J. Spiller; OTs Russell Okung and Trent Williams; LB Rolando McClain; CB Joe Haden; FS Earl Thomas 5-10
3. QB Jimmy Clausen; WR Dez Bryant; OT Brian Bulaga; OG Mike Iupati; DE Derrick Morgan, DT Dan Williams; OLB Sergio Kindle 11-17
4. OT Anthony Davis; C Maurkice Pouncey; TE Jermaine Gresham; DT Jared Odrick; DEs Jason Pierre-Paul and DE Brandon Graham 18-22

At the same time, the Giants will also be putting together a short list of players that they really like, either because the player is simply a terrific prospect or would fill a major need or priority or both. Again its hard to know for sure exactly which players are on the Giants short list this year, but it would certainly appear that given the attention they have paid him that Alabama MLB Rolando McClain is on the Giants’ short list, unless they are overly concerned about the Crohn’s issue. In particular, McClain is both a likely top 10 prospect and addresses one of, if not the Giants most pressing remaining issue. Indeed its possible that McClain is the only player on the Giants’ A-list at the time. There is a better than 50-50 chance though that McClain could well be off the board by the 15th pick. Denver at #11, for example, also has a major need at MLB, while neither Miami at #12 nor San Francisco at #13 have totally ruled him out, although both of the latter teams would also appear to have more pressing needs at those respective points in the draft. With Denver looming out there, though, the Giants would almost be forced to try and trade up with Jacksonville at #10 to ensure getting McClain if he was indeed the guy they were targeting. And trading up wouldn’t be cheap as the Giants would likely have to part with at least their 3rd round pick, in what is shaping up to be a very deep draft, to acquire the 10th pick. The Giants, though, have never been reluctant to move up in the past to get a player they had targeted – CB Will Allen in 2001, Shockey in 2002, Eli in 2004, Sinorice Moss in 2006, and Bryan Kehl in 2008 – although to be honest, with decidedly mixed results.

How much the Giants are tempted to move up will be impacted by whether the Giants feel they have a Super Bowl-caliber team and will be primarily looking for a player or two to help them get over the hump at the 2010 draft, or whether they are looking at some major reconstruction that would dictate hanging onto as many picks as possible. That’s something of a tough question to answer for the Giants this off-season in the wake of last season’s disappointing 8-8 season. In particular, did the second half collapse, especially on the defensive side of the ball, reflect a lack of talent or was it primarily a function of the spate of injuries that affected so many units? In fact, no one is really going to know the answer until the season gets underway in September, but the Giants themselves seem to have come down on the side of the injuries, at least as reflected in their free agent activity. They were very aggressive reshaping the deep secondary, which was admittedly a national embarrassment last season after safety Kenny Phillips went down with a career-threatening knee condition – with the addition of veteran free agent safeties Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant – but they have done almost nothing else in free agency to date. If in fact the Giants had real concerns at other positions one would have expected wholesale changes through free agency. In fact, even at MLB the Giants have indicated that they feel that they can get by with the returning cast of characters. Same story as regards the health of injured players other than Phillips. Remember also that the Giants have a small army of medical professionals who work with the players every day so they will have a much better idea than the average fan on the street how all the injured players are actually doing and whether they can reasonably be expected to be back at full speed this coming fall. Of course, the Giants could also simply be waiting until after the draft to see what holes remained before jumping into the free agent market, but in the past they have been pretty aggressive upfront signing free agents when there were holes to be plugged.

Before they make any move up, though, Jerry Reese and company will have to ask and try to answer a myriad of questions that have to be weighed out. If, for example, McClain is gone at #15, are the Giants still likely to get a quality player, preferably off their short list, at that spot? The short answer is that yes there will be some outstanding prospects at that point, although none is necessarily a perfect fit (see below). Second question is if McClain is gone at #15 will the Giants have other options at the position? Indeed, the $64K question heading into the draft is where the Giants have Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon rated. ‘Spoon’ as he is affectionately known would likely be a popular choice among Giants’ fans; in fact, it wasn’t all that long ago that there were whispers that the Giants actually had the more athletic Weatherspoon rated ahead of McClain. However, Weatherspoon’s stock has reportedly slipped across the league in recent weeks, particularly among 4-3 teams looking to fill a hole at MLB. Weatherspoon, who played almost exclusively on the outside in college, is considered to be more a ‘run-and-chase’ type who is very effective in space, but who may not be as physical taking on blockers and stacking the point of stack. Time will tell whether the Giants fall into the latter category and have down-graded Weatherspoon on their board. The other question to be asked is whether if McClain was gone at #15 could the Giants adwquately address the position in later rounds? Indeed, the major factor in any decision regarding McClain could revolve around whether the Giants think that Penn State MLB Sean Lee would be a decent option in the second round. Lee, the only legitimate top 50 prospect the Giants brought in for one of their 30 allotted out-of-town visits other than McClain, in fact, was once considered to be a top 10 prospect before tearing up a knee. Lee, though, reportedly passed the medicals in pre-draft testing with flying colors; in fact, it’s possible that the Giants might even have to consider trading up in the second round to get Lee if it came to that as he is reportedly one of the fastest risers in this year’s draft class. There are some very good depth at MLBs in the 2010 draft including guys like Donald Butler of Washington, Mississippi State’s Jamar Chaney, Phillip Dillard of Nebraska and Iowa’s appropriately named Pat Angerer, although none would appear ready to come in play a whole lot right away.

And while we’re talking LBs, we’re still not sure what it means, but there appears to be something rather interesting going on with the Giants and the back seven on defense. On the one hand, the Giants appear to have a surfeit of defensive backs. Indeed, they could have as many as 6 starting quality DBs this Fall if Phillips is able to come back at close to 100%. One could even make it 7 as safety Michael Johnson isn’t all that bad when working in the box. On the other hand, the Giants currently really have only one proven starting quality LB (WLB Michael Boley) and, if fact, don’t appear to have a SSLB at all. If the season were to start today, for example, Clint Sintim would presumably be the nominal starter at the position, but he’s a long, long way from being a finished product at the position. Indeed, one would have expected the Giants to have addressed the issue in free agency. Of course, we are just speculating here, but we can count and are wondering if the Giants could possibly be seriously considering using some combination of nickle defense as the base defense. The team already uses a nickle on as many as 50% of snaps and given the fact they put so much emphasis on rushing the passer up front, it wouldn’t be that big a stretch to shift that focus to the back seven. In fact, with so many big safeties in college football these days, we have been a bit surprised that no team to date has experimented with a 4-2-5 defense which replaces their SLB with a big safety, at least on early downs. Obviously, one would be giving up something in run defense with such a move, but the fact is that the NFL has morphed into a passing league whereas the traditional 4-3 defense really has changed little from the 1960s. Again, we are just speculating here, but it is also worth noting that the Giants were the team that worked out Florida State safety Myron Rolle, a 217-pounder who fits the model of combo-buck LB/S. Other players who fit that bill in this year’s draft include 220-pound LSU SS Chad Jones (whom the Giants have had in for a visit), Kam Chancellor of Virginia Tech, Toledo’s Barry Church, Harry Coleman of LSU, Justin Woodall of Alabama and Marcellus Bowman of Boston College. Of course, we are also talking about the Giants here and neither head coach Tom Coughlin nor new defensive co-ordinator Perry Fewell is known as an innovator – in fact both are about as traditionalist as they come – but as we say we can count and right now the numbers just don’t add up!

As well, in this scenario, adding a physical run-stuffing MLB Rolando McClain actually may take on added significance. In fact, it may matter on added significance no matter what the scheme because as mentioned the Giants already use a nickel the majority of the time anyway and if one is only going to have two LBs on the field much of the time then having someone in the middle who can take on blockers and stack the point of attack like McClain takes on added importance.

Then there’s the elephant in the room that we suspect an awful lot of Giants fans really don’t want to acknowledge, but nonetheless is looming over the team’s 2010 draft plans! Indeed, perhaps the greatest difference between fan-think and the way many NFL teams actually approach the draft is that the average fan on the street tends to focus almost exclusively on plugging the most obvious holes in the line-up. In contrast, pro teams, while they will obviously be cognizant of areas of weakness, will also tend to be oriented as much to answering the question “what do we need, or want to do, to get to the Super Bowl?” And the betting here is that the answer in spades in the Giants’ war room is that the one element more than any other that the team really needs to get back to the top of the heap in the NFL is a RDE that minimally can get them 10-12 sacks and ideally would produce 12-14. Indeed one can make the case, with apologies to all the left tackles of the world, that other than QB, RDE is the most critical position on the team. And quite simply the elephant in the Giants’ room right now wears #72. If the Giants feel that there is legitimate reason to expect that DE Osi Umenyiora will get back to playing at his pre-injury level this coming fall then the question becomes rather moot. However, contrary to some popular opinion, we would be very surprised if the Giants are prepared to simply sit back and give Umenyiora another full season to prove himself, not with reputations, not to mention jobs, possibly on the line. Indeed, by now the Giants should have a pretty good sense where Umenyiora is physically and emotionally. He reportedly has sat down and talked with G.M. Jerry Reese; he’s had a long talk with head coach Tom Coughlin; he’s talked with incoming defensive co-ordinator Perry Fewell. Meanwhile, the position coaches will have had several weeks watching him workout. And, Eli Manning’s recent positive assessment aside, if the Giants aren’t confident where Umenyiora is today, then at least minimally they will want to have a better back-up plan at the position than they did last season. Mathias Kiwanuka is a hard-worker who can be a useful guy in the DE rotation, however, through three years in blue he has yet to show either the quickness off the snap or the strength to consistently beat NFL OTs when lining up with his hand on the ground and as such probably isn’t the long-term solution.

In fact, nobody should be totally shocked if the Giants take a DE with an early pick this year; indeed, nobody should be shocked if they use their #1 selection on the pick. Just don’t throw the remote at us! The Giants, for example, have reportedly done a lot of homework on South Florida DE Jason Pierre-Paul, a freakish athlete with as much upside as any player in the 2010 draft. Unfortunately, Pierre-Paul is also as raw as they come having played less than a full season of major college football, making him one of the bigger boom or bust prospects in the 2010 draft (although truth be told every player in the draft is a boom-or-buster.) Like Weatherspoon, though, Pierre-Paul may have seen his stock fall in recent days, although again like Weatherspoon we won’t know until draft day whether that trend extends to the Giants.  Georgia Tech DE Derrick Morgan may also be getting some consideration at #15. Morgan is potentially a better all-around player than Pierre-Paul, who is more a pure edge rusher, but the former likely lacks the explosion and closing speed to be a double digit sacker on a yearly basis at the NFL level, which as noted is what the Giants are probably looking for. Meanwhile, Michigan DE Brandon Graham may also figure in the mix. Most of the attention directed Graham’s way tends to be from 3-4 teams looking for an edge rushing OLB, however, he has Dwight Freeny type size and intensity – although he lacks Freeney’s 4.4-type foot speed. Graham is also a little shorter than the Giants like their DEs. He also has short arms and can be engulfed by big OTs, but he is relentless, has a very quick first step, as well as a nice array of solid pass rush moves. What further complicates the issue further at DE for the Giants is the fact other than the top 2-3-4 prospects at the position, one just isn’t likely going to be able to address the issue much past the first round. Sure there are plenty of potentially useful DEs in the 2010 draft, but other than the guys mentioned, there really aren’t many, if any at all, later round DEs with the quickness and explosion to rate as elite edge rushers.

What would be most interesting next Thursday would be if the Giants got on the clock at #15 with McClain gone, and the team didn’t think any of the DEs were worth going quite that high (if of course they were even seriously interested in the position.) In that scenario the Giants will almost certainly be looking at some very good football players as the first tier of 2010 prospects looks to be 18-20 players deep. What will be interesting to know is how the the Giants have these players rated and whether any are actually on the Giants’ short list. In no particular order these players likely include:

Tennessee DT Dan Williams: Arguably the best DT this year other than top-rated prospects Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy. He’s wide-body, physical NT type who is almost impossible to root off the line of scrimmage who would also be a strong run-stuffing presence in a 4-3 scheme. Williams certainly would also make who ever plays MLB a better player and likely could also contribute to DT rotation right away. He is not overly fast or athletic, but has some short-area quickness and a great motor. He  also has the strength to collapse the pocket, but otherwise isn’t much of a pass rusher and likely would only be a 2-down player in the Giants.

Penn State DT Jared Odrick: Late riser who could be something of a sleeper for the 15th pick. The Giants’ though, tend to live and die by the motto one can never have enough pass rushers and Odrick is one of the top 2-3 pass-rushing DTs in the 2010 draft with a polished swim move and surprising athleticism for a 305-pounder. Rangy sort who needs to work at keeping pads low to anchor when defending the run, but is a high-motor type who will pursue the ball to the whistle. Very similar in style to Chris Canty.

Rutgers OT Anthony Davis: Top 10 physical talent who absolutely dominated Big East opponents last year, but could be available at #15 because of character issues; doesn’t run all that well, but has goo balance and reasonably light on his feet; sets up well and can change direction on the move; also a long way around protecting the pocket with long arms and a devastating punch along with a thick lower body; can also engulf smaller opponents at the point of attack. However, doesn’t always play with passion or intensity; too often leans into blocks rather than exploding off line of scrimmage; also has issues with weight control and and physical conditioning and is thought be very immature.

Idaho OG Mike Iupati: Easily the best OG in the 2010 draft and just maybe the best prospect at the position in the 2000s; physical run-blocker who gets to the second-level as well as any collegiate OG since Alan Faneca; has long arms and athletic feet and could ultimately play OT at the next level, although his technique needs refining. The question for the Giants regarding Iupati, though, would be whether they wanted to invest their highest selection since 2004 on a player who likely isn’t going to play for a year or two and when he does isn’t going to play what is usually thought of as an impact position.

Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham: Gresham is another late entry in the top 20 sweepstakes; in fact, was considered to be a possible top 10 prospect before injuring his knee prior to the 2009 season; has been linked to the Giants in some recent buzz, although the fact that the Giants have not brought him in for a final physical flies in the face of that; outstanding pass receiver with soft hands and the speed to get into the seam; also runs good routes, but only an average blocker. Better athlete than incumbent starter Kevin Boss, but plays the same kind of game. Indeed, while the Giants do need a second quality TE, surely they aren’t going to bring in yet another essentially bulked up WR (Shockey, Boss) only to have head coach Tom Coughlin turn him into yet another block first slug.

In fact, a pretty good case can be made that there could be as many as 7-8 players that the Giants could take at #15 that would represent good value at the #15 pick and it would be fascinating to have a peek at their board to see just how they have these guys graded. At the same time, though, it is possible it is not hard to see a scenario in which if McClain were off the board, and the Giants didn’t feel that either Weatherspoon or any of the DEs were full value at that point, that the Giants would find themselves in a situation where they had 3-4-5 players graded relatively equally. In that case they could actually go in the opposite direction and explore trade down options, figuring that at least one of those players will be around for awhile. Of course, it takes two to do the draft-day trade tango, however, there could be some takers because as mentioned the Giants are selecting near the end of the first tier of prospects for the 2010 draft and there likely will teams selecting a little further on down that would like to get a player from that tier themselves.

Whatever they accomplish in the opening round, figure the Giants likely have a number of areas they would at least like to upgrade other than MLB and DE through the draft. Figure, for example, that they would like to add another big DT to the rotation if they don’t end up with a Dan Williams or Jared Odrick in the opening round. The good news is that the 2010 draft is incredibly deep at the position and teams could quite legitimately get a DT who can come in and contribute early on well into the draft’s third day. At the same time, the Giants probably would like to add another safety at some point in the draft, particularly one that can play in the box and push Michael Johnson for the 4-5 safety spot. Same at CB where they probably would like to add someone to compete with Bruce Johnson for the 4-5 CB slot. On the other hand, the Giants appear to have fewer immediate concerns on offense. They probably would like to add some depth on the OL especially inside at OG and C. They probably would also like to bring in some competition at FB and blocking TE, but those are issues that can be addressed in the later rounds or even post-draft rookie free agency.

For the record, here’s what the Giants short list at later round picks might look like (although we include the proviso that we are seldom very accurate with these predictions):

Pick #46 (2nd): LB Sean Lee; CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah; DB Morgan Burnett and DTs Lamarr Houston and Tyson Aluala

Pick #76 (3rd): S Chad Jones; CB/S Chris Cook; DTs Torrel Troup and Linval Joseph; DE Corey Wootton; LBs Donald Butler and Navarro Bowman; OG Jon Asamoah

Pick #115 (4th): OT Jared Veldheer; DT Earl Mitchell; CB Amari Spievey; DB TJ Ward; DT Boo Smith; LBs Jamar Chaney and AJ Edds

Pick 147 (5th): QB John Shelton; LBs Phillip Dillard and Daryl Sharpton; DTs Nate Collins and Corey Peters; DEs Daniel Te’O-Neisham; RB James Starks; G/T Marshall Newhouse

Pick 184 (6th): LBs Pat Angerer and Travis Goethel; DBs Myron Rolle, Robert Johnson and Terrell Skinner; CB Nolan Carroll; TE Nate Byham; C Eric Olsen

Pick 221 (7th): CB Robert McClain; FB Jameson Konz; PK Leigh Tiffin; SS Harry Coleman, DT Sean Lissimore; OT Thomas Welch; OG Sergio Render

In the end, though, please remember the absolute #1 rule of the draft. And that is that good teams ultimately do not draft positions – they draft players. The Giants are not going to take a McClain or a Pierre-Paul or a Dan Williams with their opening round pick for the sake of taking a MLB, DE or DT. They are going to take a McClain, a Pierre-Paul or a Williams or whomever because they believe that the guy is first and foremost a really good football player with the potential to help get the Giants back to the Super Bowl sooner rather than later. So hang on to those remotes!

(Ed note: Also everyone can do an old draft guy a favor and keep the “I’d prefer so-and-so…” or “I wouldn’t trade up…” comments to a minimum. No disrespect intended, but nobody really cares what ‘you’ would do. Truth be told nobody should much care what I would like to see the Giants do. Nice as it would be, Jerry Reese has never yet taken my advice on draft matters; heck he won’t even return my calls so what I would do is irrelevant. On the other hand, I do care what people think what the Giants will do based on their past track record etc. because after all in the end all that matters is what the Giants actually do! Thanks … cl)

Apr 142010
New York Giants 2010 NFL Draft Needs

2009 was a disaster.  The Giants tumbled from one of the elite teams to a joke.  It is easy to blame former defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan for all the team’s evils, but probably not wise.  This is not the same team it was in 2007-08.  Key contributors such as Michael Strahan, Fred Robbins, Antonio Pierce, Kawika Mitchell, Sam Madison, Amani Toomer, and Derrick Ward are gone, among others.  There will be more turnover by the time camp ends.

The major concerns involve the defense.  Hopefully, Head Coach Tom Coughlin has hired the right defensive coordinator this time.  With the Giants, Coughlin is one-for-three in picking good defensive coordinators and one-for-two in picking offensive coordinators.  New defensive coordinator Perry Fewell seems to have the high-energy, in-your-face style that Steve Spagnuolo had with the Giants.  But if Fewell cannot turn around what became the worst defense in the NFL, the whole coaching staff may be shown the door.

Quarterback: Eli Manning is a Super Bowl MVP and Pro Bowler.  He has improved every single year and is coming off his best season, despite playing with a serious foot injury for most of last season.  He is the best player on the team.  Jim Sorgi and Rhett Bomar will battle it out for the #2 and #3 spots.  Unless the Giants do not like Bomar (and I think they do), I don’t see the Giants drafting a quarterback.

Draft Priority: Low

Running Back: I know many disagree, but I think the Giants are in pretty good shape at this position.  The only way I draft a running back is if someone truly special – a difference maker – is available.  I don’t see a “good” prospect getting much playing time behind Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw, D.J. Ware, Andre Brown, and Gartrell Johnson.  But if the Giants think someone like C.J. Spiller can be an elite back, they may pull the trigger.  At fullback, Madison Hedgecock played 2010 with a torn labrum and it showed.  Expect him to bounce back.

Draft Priority: Low

Wide Receiver: This was supposed the only question mark on the team entering the 2009 season!  Just shows you how fast things can change.  Wide receiver – at the present moment (knock on wood) – is a team strength.  Steve Smith is the first Giants’ Pro Bowl receiver since the 1960’s.  Hakeem Nicks played very well as a rookie and is a much more explosive target than first advertised.  He flashes impact potential.  Mario Manningham had a breakout season and should continue to improve.  Domenik Hixon is fast and explosive.  Derek Hagan is one of the best special teams players on the team and even contributed as a receiver.  The Giants like Ramses Barden a lot – they just need to figure a way to get him on the field.

Draft/Trade Priority:  Low

Tight End: Kevin Boss is one of the better tight ends in the NFL.  He just doesn’t pound his chest and draw attention to himself.  If he wants to reach the next level, however, he must continue to improve his blocking.  Travis Beckum should contribute much more in 2010 as a dangerous receiving target/H-Back-type.  But there is a serious need for a blocking tight end.  Right now, Bear Pascoe is that man, but he is not overly athletic.  Ideally, the Giants need another Howard Cross or Dan Campbell.  Many of the botched running plays last year were due to poor tight end blocking.

Draft Priority:  Moderate

Offensive Line:

The starting five of Diehl, Seubert, O’Hara, Snee, and McKenzie had been intact since 2007, but in 2009, the injury bug finally caught up with this unit.  Seubert (shoulder/knee) played hurt all year and the old warhorse McKenzie (both knees, groin, concussion) suffered through a number of injuries.  Snee had leg/knee issues and O’Hara had offseason elbow surgery.  Personally, I expect these five to start again and rebound in a big way.  The Giants also have an up-and-coming player in Will Beatty who could play at either tackle spot.  He may push for playing time.  The needs here are for improved depth and grooming future starters.  How long do the Giants want to rely on O’Hara, Seubert, and McKenzie?  What if one of the interior three – especially O’Hara – gets hurt?  Do they see Diehl as their future right tackle and Beatty as their future left tackle?

The Giants could draft an offensive lineman as high as the first round.  Do they desperately need an offensive lineman?  No.  But if there is a stud available, they may pull the trigger.  Expect at least one lineman to be drafted at some stage of the draft.

Draft Priority: Moderate

Defensive Line: With all due respect to the linebacker-first crowd, defensive line is the #1 need area on this team.  The heart of a 4-3 defense is the defensive line.  And all of the Giants’ defensive linemen – starters and reserves – massively underperformed in 2009.  Some of that had to do with injuries, some coaching, some age.

There is a real need for another defensive tackle.  Chris Canty is penciled in as the 3-technique (penetrating) tackle; Barry Cofield the 1-technique (dirty work) tackle.  Jay Alford (coming off serious knee injury) and Rocky Bernard (played hurt and coming off horrible year) are two more 3-technique types.  Cofield is a good player, but the Giants could do better.  Plus, if he were to go down, the Giants probably would have to shift Canty to 1-technique.  A stud defensive tackle would make life easier for the high-priced ends and Canty.  It would also help whoever is at linebacker.  A great defensive tackle can make an average middle linebacker look good.  But the reverse is not true.  Defensive tackle could be the first pick.

The Giants are not set at defensive end.  Justin Tuck has been somewhat injury prone.  And Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka have both made it clear that they want to start.  Whoever is more disruptive on the field and less disruptive off the field will stay; the other will likely be traded next offseason.  Or if there is a new CBA, Kiwanuka might leave in free agency in 2011.  Given those scenarios, the Giants must give high consideration to drafting another defensive end with a premium pick now.  Do not be shocked if the first pick is a defensive end.  If you play a 4-3 defense, in today’s NFL, the pass rush depends on the defensive ends – both starters and reserves.

Draft Priority: Very high.

Linebackers: Michael Boley is being penciled in as the starting weakside linebacker; Clint Sintim is being penciled in as the starting strongside linebacker.  Boley flashed last year but Sintim did not.  There is a big question mark in the middle.  Antonio Pierce is gone.  Jonathan Goff did not impress in limited playing time in 2009.  Much depends on what the Giants truly think of Goff, but regardless the team probably needs to add at least two viable linebackers.

If the Giants want to get faster on defense – and that is the direction the league is going and the style of defense Fewell likes – look for athletic linebackers.  This means guys who can run to the football, but who may be smaller than ideal.  When critics say the Giants are slow on defense, they really are talking about the linebackers.

Draft Priority: Very high.

Defensive Backs: The Giants are pretty well stocked at cornerback as long as Aaron Ross’ hamstring woes are behind him – and he says they are.  With Ross, Corey Webster, and Terrell Thomas, the Giants have three quality corners.  In addition, Bruce Johnson was a pleasant surprise in 2009 and he should improve.  But teams like to carry at least five corners and the Giants could use another.

Everything depends on status of Kenny Phillips.  If Phillips can return and play like he did before he was hurt, the Giants are in fantastic shape at safety with him, Antrel Rolle, and Deon Grant.  Phillips and Rolle could be the most athletic safety combo in the NFL.  Grant is a steady veteran.  Michael Johnson played like excrement last season.  If he does not shape up, he’s gone.  Unless the Giants have strong feelings for Sha’reff Rashad and Vince Anderson, adding a fourth safety is a strong possibility.

Draft Priority: Moderate

Special Teams: I fully expect Jeff Feagles and Lawrence Tynes to be the kickers in 2010.  Tynes is coming off a very solid season and Feagles seems determined to rebound strongly.

With the development of Nicks and Manningham, Hixon should be able to focus more on the return game again in 2010.

Draft Priority: Low

Summary: I see the major needs as being in the front seven on defense.  Blockers on offense – linemen and a tight end – should be a focal point as well.  The wild card would be if an elite running back were available.

Sep 032009
An Early Look at the 2010 NFL Draft and the New York Giants

by Colin Lindsay, Great Blue North Draft Report

Editor’s Note: Of course, there is still a ton of football to be played in the 2009 season, but our motto here at the Great Blue North is that it is never ever too early to be looking ahead to the draft. While it is still way too early to be identifying ‘the’ guy for the Giants this year, this is the time to be watching a range of prospects for the upcoming draft. And watching is the operative word as there is nothing that drives us crazier than hearing someone say ‘I’d prefer so and so’ in September, especially when you just know that they probably have never actually seen the guy play on tape. Below is a quick preview of how the 2010 NFL Draft is starting to shape along with some of the players the New York Giants will likely be looking at as we head towards next April. Also just to remind everyone that the GBN also publishes a weekly Giants’ newsletter with lots of analysis and commentary on the passing Giants’ scene with more than a passing focus on the draft. Here’s how to order.

Entering the season, the New York Giants appear to have one of the most solid lineups in the league without any particular position that screams ‘must-address’ in the coming off-season either in free agency or the draft. That said, though, there are a number of areas that the Giants will surely look to upgrade their talent level. In no particular order, positions that could be addressed at the 2010 draft include:

Offensive Line The jury is still way out on William Beatty, the Giants second round pick in 2009, who is athletic, but not very strong or physical, as the future at left tackle. And even if Beatty comes on at left tackle after a very inconsistent preseason, RT Kareem McKenzie appears to be starting to break down so a second quality young OT could be on the bill, although incumbent LT David Diehl could ultimately end up on the other side where he‘d actually be a better fit. The Giants could also add some young beef at C and OG as the depth at those positions are all journeyman types

Defensive Tackle The Giants have a lot of bodies at defensive tackle but haven‘t had a real stud that opposing teams have to account for since the days of Keith Hamilton. Plus, like RT Kareem McKenzie, Fred Robbins may be starting to show some wear and tear, while Barry Cofield could be a free agent at the end of the year.

Safety Kenny Phillips looks to be a real keeper, but neither Michael Johnson or C.C. Brown is very good in coverage

Middle Linebacker Antonio Pierce has been slowing down for a couple of years now and has never been much more than a liability in coverage. Meanwhile, Chase Blackburn and Jonathan Goff offer decent depth, but neither is yet a proven front-liner.

Tight End Incumbent starter Kevin Boss has all the physical tools but its time to take off the training wheels or it may be time to look for a true dual-threat at the position.

Then, of course, there are positions like cornerback and defensive end where a team ‘can never have enough’ talent, as well as running back where teams like to keep a fresh supply of young legs on the roster.

The good news regarding the 2010 draft is that it appears there could be a decent match between the Giants needs and what is going to be available, although it is always important to keep in mind that which underclassmen ultimately enter the draft this year will have a huge impact on each position’s final grade. With that in mind here’s a quick overview of the potential strengths and weaknesses of the upcoming draft which overall looks to be a very good, although not quite great, draft class.

No question that the real strength of the 2010 draft will be the defensive line. Indeed, the top individual position could be defensive tackle. Nebraska 300-pounder Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma junior Gerald McCoy, for example, both have top 5 potential, while there are a number of later first round prospects at the position including 365-pound Terrence ‘Mount’ Cody of Alabama, Arthur Jones of Syracuse, junior Brian Price of UCLA, and Vince Oghobaase of Duke. The even better news at defensive tackle is that there are also several big, strong later first-day types that don’t get the same hype but will still be good value including Geno Atkins of Georgia, Jared Odrick of Penn State, Boo Robinson of Wake Forest, DeMarcus Granger of Oklahoma, Boo Smith of Louisiana Tech, Dan Williams of Tennessee, and Jay Ross of East Carolina, while Baylor junior Phil Taylor, a 355-pound transfer from Penn State who didn‘t play last fall, could also be one of the best of the bunch once he gets back on the field.

Meanwhile, there are a ton of college defensive ends who can get after the passer including tweener types like George Selvie of South Florida, Sergio Kindle of Texas, Greg Hardy of Ole Miss, Brandon Graham of Michigan, Jerry Hughes of TCU, and Brandon Lang of Troy, along with emerging juniors Greg Romeus of Pitt, Everson Griffin of USC and Jason Worilds of Virginia Tech. The top defensive end this year though could ultimately be freakish 6-5, 290-pound Florida junior Carlos Dunlap who could get some serious consideration as the #1 player selected this year. Meanwhile, other bigger DEs to watch include Corey Wooton of Northwestern, C.J. Wilson of East Carolina, Alex Carrington of Arkansas State, and John Fletcher of Wyoming. There are also a couple of lower level defensive ends worth a look, including 6-7 Austen Lane of Murray State (who reportedly runs in the mid-4.6 range for the 40) and James Ruffin of Northern Iowa.

It’s also not a bad year to be in the market for an offensive tackle as Russell Okung of Oklahoma State, Trent Williams of Oklahoma, and Ciron Black of LSU, as well as juniors Brian Bulaga of Iowa and Anthony Davis of Rutgers have first-round potential. There are questions about the overall athleticism of seniors Okung, Williams, and Black, all of whom may be downgraded as more right tackle prospects. Meanwhile, there is some good depth at the position including later first day prospects Charles Brown of USC, Sam Young of Notre Dame, and Adam Ulatoski of Texas, while 315-pound Zane Beadles of Utah is something of a sleeper.

Unfortunately, there isn’t anywhere nearly as much talent this year at either center or guard, although Alabama OG Mike Johnson and Clemson C/G Thomas Austin at least have top 60 potential. Teams looking to add some size at guard, though, should be able to find something in the mid-rounds. Meanwhile, the top interior offensive line prospect could be USC junior C Kris O’Dowd, although he’s currently out with a knee injury.

The 2010 draft will also be relatively strong at both the safety and middle linebacker positions that have tended to get short shrift at the draft in recent years. At safety, for example, both Taylor Mays of USC and Tennessee junior Eric Berry are considered top 5-10 talents. Both unfortunately will likely be long gone by the time the Giants pick this coming April, however. Other safeties to watch include juniors Reshad Jones of Georgia and Georgia Tech‘s Morgan Burnett, along with Darrell Stuckey of Kansas and Nate Allen of South Florida. Jones, in particular, looks like he might be very good value late in the opening round if he opts to leave school this winter.

Meanwhile, at middle linebacker, Brandon Spikes of Florida has the kind of athleticism that kept Rey Maualuga and James Laurinaitis out of the first round of the 2009 draft, while both Alabama junior Rolando McClain and Micah Johnson of Kentucky have excellent size for a mike backer as well as decent speed and agility. And there are a number of other solid tackling-machine middle linebacker types who maybe lack exceptional measurables, but have great instincts and motors including Joe Pawelek of Baylor, underrated Boris Lee of Troy, and the appropriately-named Pat Angerer of Iowa.

On the other hand, it could be something of a down year at outside linebacker. On the outside, Sean Witherspoon of Missouri, a potential mid-first rounder, is the top all-around prospect at the position, although he could get a push from either or both Michigan State junior Greg Jones and Sean Lee of Penn State, who is back after missing the 2008 season with a torn ACL. Meanwhile, South Carolina DE Eric Norwood could attract some early interest as a 3-4 rush LB with a big upside, while athletic Stevenson Sylvester of Utah could be an emerging sleeper. Pro scouts will also earn their keep grading juniors Rennie Curran of Georgia and Navorro Bowman of Penn State. Both are impact defenders, but Curran is undersized at barely 5-11, 220, while Bowman has had an array of off-field troubles.

It could also be something of a down year at cornerback, although the entry of juniors like Joe Haden of Florida and Virginia’s Ras-I Dowling would upgrade things and would provide at least a couple of potential mid-first round candidates at the position. Meanwhile, one player to watch later in the opening round is Trevard Lindley of Kentucky who lacks top-end recovery speed, but is very physical, instinctive, and aggressive and appears to fit the mold of what the Giants look in a cover corner. Other top corners include Syd’Quan Thompson of California, Kyle Wilson of Boise State, Brandon Ghee of Wake Forest, and Javier Arenas of Alabama, who is also one of the top kick returners in college football. But, as noted, it does not look like it will be a particularly strong year at the position.

There is a similar story at both running back and wide receiver, positions that will be especially dependent on juniors at the top of the board at the 2010 draft. Georgia Tech junior Jonathan Dwyer, for example, is the top RB prospect this year, but still likely won’t be rated much higher than the middle of the opening round, while fellow juniors Evan Royster of Penn State and USC‘s Joe McKnight could get some late first round consideration. There should be some pretty good depth at RB this year with speed guys like C.J. Spiller of Clemson, Cal‘s Jahvid Best, and Da‘rel Scott of Maryland; bruisers like LeGarette Blount of Oregon State and Toby Gerhart of Stanford; and productive all-around chain movers such as Charles Scott of LSU, Stafon Johnson of USC, and Chris Brown of Oklahoma.

The leading prospects at wide receivers are also juniors including Arrelious Benn of Illinois, a legitimate top 10 prospect, along with Dez Bryant of Oklahoma State, a potential mid-first rounder, and smooth Damian Williams, who could sneak into the late first round. Meanwhile, LSU’s Brandon LaFell is the top senior prospect at the position, but he may lack the pure foot speed to be more than a second round candidate. Other potential top 60 receivers include Mardy Gilyard of Cincinnati, Jordan Shipley of Texas, Minnesota’s Eric Decker, along with talented juniors Dezmon Briscoe of Kansas and Mike Williams of Syracuse.

The one offensive skill position that could be rated as above average in 2010 could be the tight ends. “Could” is the operative word, though, as Oklahoma’s Jermaine Gresham, the top-rated player at the position this year and one of the better prospects at the position in a while, may be sidelined for a while with a knee injury suffered at practice this week. Meanwhile, juniors Rob Gronokowski of Arizona and Aaron Hernandez of Florida are also solid prospects and likely will be available in the area where the Giants are likely to make their first pick this year. There should be good depth at the position this year, including veterans Dennis Pita of BYU, Ed Dickson of Oregon, Garrett Graham of Wisconsin, and Anthony McCoy of USC.

In the end, though, the top storyline in college football this fall will be the expected year-long dual among star quarterbacks Tim Tebow of Florida, Colt McCoy of Texas and Oklahoma junior Sam Bradford for player of the year honors. And while all three are outstanding talents, there is a wide divergence in their draft prospects. Bradford, for example, who was widely expected to be the first player taken at the 2009 draft before he opted to return to school for another year of seasoning, probably should be plying his trade with Detroit this fall. Meanwhile, McCoy looks to be a solid mid-first round prospect this coming April. Tebow, though, represents something of a major challenge for pro scouts. Tebow will likely go down as one of the greatest college players of all time, but still has yet to convince NFL personnel people that he has the accuracy and mechanics to play the position at the next level. Indeed, Ole Miss junior Jevan Snead currently probably ranks ahead of Tebow as a prospect for the 2010 draft. There is a major drop-off, though, after the top 3-4 QB prospects this year, although there are a number of interesting second-tier types at the position including Zac Robinson of Oklahoma State, athletic Dan LeFevour of Central Michigan, and Tim Hiller of Western Michigan among others.