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

Roger Goodell – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Review

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

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

2015 Draft Pick Scouting Reports

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

Ereck Flowers – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Is he polished enough to step in?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: When did you first get wind of him?

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

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

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

Q: How does his nasty streak manifest itself?

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

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

A: I won’t talk about that.

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

A: I won’t talk about that.

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

Q: What do you think about Ereck Flowers?

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

Q: Where do you see him position-wise?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A: I did.

Q: How did that conversation go?

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

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

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

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

A: Absolutely.

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

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

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

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

Q: Was offensive line the particular focus for you?

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

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

A: Absolutely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A: That was one of, yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What did you think about that visit?

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Is your father serving as your agent?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A: My favorite player coming in was Trent Williams.

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

A: I do. I feel I can.

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

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

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

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

Q: Have you ever played guard?

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

Back to Top


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

Landon Collins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Does he have a first round grade?

A: We have a good grade on him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Did you pay more than you expected to?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Did you have him in for a visit?

A: Did we have him here? No.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Did you talk to Nick Saban about him?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Did you really like [Landon] Collins?

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

Q: Did you suggest the trade?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Why did he fall?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Like who else?

A: No, do your own research.

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

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

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

A: He is a safety, thank you.

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

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

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

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

A: Definitely, I’m very motivated.

Q: What was the whole experience like for you?

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

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

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

Q: What were your expectations coming in?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Were you aware of their need at safety?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Owamagbe Odighizuwa – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

Q: He will be a defensive end for you?

A: He’s a defensive end.

Q: Any concern with the hip surgery he had?

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

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

A: We had some more guys.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What do you see as his top skill?

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

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

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

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

Q: What kind of a pass rusher is he?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A: It never crossed my mind.

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

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

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

A: Yeah.

Q: What makes him good at it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Do you see any Justin Tuck comparisons?

A: I certainly hope the results are that.

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

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

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

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

Q: Can he do that right away?

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

MEDIA Q&A WITH ODIGHIZUWA:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mykkele Thompson, Texas Longhorns (October 27, 2012)

Mykkele Thompson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

A: No.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MEDIA Q&A WITH THOMPSON:

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

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

Q: What’s surprising to you about it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What do you bring to the NFL?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What was the reaction when the phone rang?

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

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

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

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

A: Yes.

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

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

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

Geremy Davis – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Could Davis be a potential gunner?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MEDIA Q&A WITH DAVIS:

Q:  Did you think the Giants might be interested?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bobby Hart – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Did he play any inside?

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

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

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

MEDIA Q&A WITH HART:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What are your thoughts on Jameis Winston?

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

Q: Do you know Ereck Flowers?

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

Q: How would you describe yourself as a player?

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

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Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DE Brad Bars, 6’3”, 261 pounds, 4.78, Penn State University
Brad Bars was signed as a rookie free agent by the Giants in August 2015. Bars missed the entire 2013 season at Penn State after tearing his Achilles tendon. He played in all 13 games in 2014 but was only credited with 10 tackles. Bars lacks ideal size for the position, but he is a decent athlete.

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

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

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

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

S Justin Halley, 6’3”, 207 pounds, 4.54, Florida International University (Video)
Halley has a nice combination of size and athletic ability. He flashes at times against both the run and the pass.

S C.J. Conway, 6’0”, 205 pounds, 4.71, Montclair State University
Conway was the New Jersey Athletic Conference’s (NJAC) Defensive Player of the Year in 2014, when he was also chosen to the American Football Coaches Association Division-III Team and First-Team USA Football. Conway led the NJAC in passes defended with 17 and was second with eight interceptions, as he also registered 51 tackles and forced two fumbles.

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Eric’s Take on the 2015 Draft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

What the Giants Didn’t Accomplish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ereck Flowers, Miami Hurricanes (September 28, 2013)

Ereck Flowers – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

Landon Collins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA Bruins (August 30, 2014)

Owamagbe Odighizuwa – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

Mykkele Thompson, Texas Longhorns (October 27, 2012)

Mykkele Thompson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

Geremy Davis, Connecticut Huskies (September 6, 2014)

Geremy Davis – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bobby Hart – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

Summary

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

What the Giants Didn’t Accomplish

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

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

May 042015
 
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New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Analysis

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

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

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

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

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


Ereck Flowers, Miami Hurricanes (October 4, 2014)

Ereck Flowers – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Landon Collins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA Bruins (August 30, 2014)

Owamagbe Odighizuwa – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mykkele Thompson, Texas Longhorns (October 27, 2012)

Mykkele Thompson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Geremy Davis, Connecticut Huskies (September 6, 2014)

Geremy Davis – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Bobby Hart – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

NYG DRAFT

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

Sy’56 DRAFT

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

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

El Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Needs

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

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

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

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

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

Offensive Line

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

Defensive Line

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

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

Defensive Backs

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

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

Wide Receiver

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

Tight End

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

Linebacker

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

Summary

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

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

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

Landon Collins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Safeties

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

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

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

CURRENT SAFETIES on NYG ROSTER

Nat Berhe – 24 Years old – Signed through 2017

Cooper Taylor – 25 Years old – Signed through 2016

Thomas Gordon – 24 Years old – Signed through 2016

Josh Gordy – 28 Yeas old – Signed through 2015

WHERE THEY STAND

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

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Antrel Rolle/CHI

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

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

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

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

2 – Eric Rowe – Utah – 6’1/205 – 79

Upside Pro Comparison: Malcolm Jenkins/PHI

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Glover Quin/DET

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Devin McCourty/NE

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: T.J. McDonald/STL

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Kenny Vaccaro/NO

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: J.J. Wilcox/DAL

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Roman Harper/CAR

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Ryan Clark/RET

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Tyrann Matheiu/ARI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYG APPROACH

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

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

Apr 232015
 
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Jerry Reese, New York Giants (February 21, 2015)

Jerry Reese – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Jerry Reese’s 2015 Pre-Draft Press Conference: New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese held his annual pre-draft press conference today. The following is the transcript from the event (video is also available courtesy of Giants.com):

Q: Who are you picking?

A: A good player at nine.

Q: In a year like this and with some of the things that went on last year in the NFL, how much more important or different is the way you look at a player’s character and behavior when you are assessing them? Has that changed?

A: I think we are always mindful of a player’s character and background. That always goes into the equation. It is not really anything new for us. Obviously, like all teams, we have taken some guys on the back end of the roster, more risk-reward kind of situations on the back end of the roster. We are very conscious and have been for a long time about backgrounds and character.

Q: That seems to have changed last year when you guys wanted a lot of clean players… Whereas in the past you would have taken…?

A: The thing you have to think about when you are thinking about these young players is that they are young. They do young kid stuff. You can’t just absolutely kill them. You wouldn’t have anyone to draft. Kids do kid things and do college things and it happens. If a guy has a long list of issues, that is when you have to throw the red flag in there. Is this guy going to stop? If you have a couple things that college kids do, you can’t just throw it away.

Q: Is there anything concrete you do with that or is it just an eyeball test?

A: We do all the background checks and our scouts go out and dig the information that we can. We interview them and try to put it all together and make a decision on it.

Q: Is it kind of three strikes and you are out?

A: Not necessarily, it depends on how egregious the off-field issues are, more than anything else probably.

Q: Last year you seemed to have a guy pegged or a couple guys you thought would be available… Is it more unpredictable being at nine?

A: I think you always have a good idea, but it is always unpredictable. You never know what is going to happen. You can look up and some of those quarterbacks they think are going to be in the first couple picks could be – not off the board until 15 or 20. You never know. I learned that a long time ago in the draft. Funny things can happen, so expect everything to happen.

Q: Last year the wide receiver corps turned out to be a really good group… There are a lot of thoughts that this wide receiving corps could be just as good… Thoughts?

A: I think there are good receivers, just as there were last year. I think that is every year. I think there are good players at every position every year. I don’t know if that is a good answer or not, but I think there are good wide receivers…I think there are good players at every position.

Q: Given you have a lot of depth at receiver, would you have any qualms about drafting another receiver?

A: First of all, as soon as you say you have a lot of depth at any position, you don’t have depth. I know better than to say that. We will draft the best player available for us. It really doesn’t matter what position it is.

Q: How do you look at your offensive line at this point? Do you look at it saying you need to supplement it at least during one day of the draft?

A: Every position. We want to try and upgrade every position as best we can every opportunity we get. Offensive line won’t be excluded from that as well.

Q: In your mind right now, what does your offensive line look like? Is Justin Pugh still at right tackle?

A: That is something for Tom. You have to talk to Tom about that. Obviously Pugh has been a starter and is going to be a starter somewhere more than likely. [Geoff] Schwartz is coming back from injury. Hopefully he can fit in there somewhere. What we want to do is get as many good players as we can and create as much competition as we can in the offensive line.

Q: When you are picking as high as you are, is there a sense of a guy having to fit in at a premium position? In the past, you wouldn’t have drafted linebacker in the first round, but guys like defensive backs, wide receivers and left tackles… Is that part of your thinking when you are as high as you are?

A: If you draft at nine, whoever it is, is a premium position, regardless of the position that he is. If you draft at nine, it is a premium position, regardless of what it is. It doesn’t matter what position. If you draft him at nine, he is a guy you expect to come in and play and play quickly.

Q: Has the profile of offensive linemen changed at all in the last decade at all?

A: We just look for good players. Good profiles. Good players. Strong. Big, strong, fast and smart.

Q: The big lineman from Iowa is a guy everyone seems to love as a guard prospect… What do you see from him?

A: I think he can play both. I think he can play tackle and he can play guard. I think he can play somewhere.

Q: Where do you see him?

A: The coaches will have to figure that out.

Q: How do you look at this group of pass rushers?

A: There are some good pass rushers and edge rushers available.  Are you asking me to stack them or something like that? I can’t do that, but I do think there are some good pass rushers in this draft.

Q: You haven’t made a ton of trades as compared to other teams throughout the years… How do you explain that? Is that the way things worked out?

A: We will keep all of our options open on the draft. We can trade up and we can trade down. That doesn’t change. We are not looking to trade just to try to be cute to trade up or down. If we think we have an opportunity to move up, then we will move up. If we have an opportunity to move back, then we will do that as well.

Q: Back around the combine, in regards to Victor Cruz, you said you couldn’t think of him as a sure thing… Have you seen anything from him where you can have some kind of certainty of how he will be when he comes back?

A: I don’t think you can have certainty. [Cruz] looks good. He is running pretty good right now. He is scheduled to be back for the opener for us, but until you get out there and turn it loose, you never know what a guy is going to do. He looks great right now.

Q: Are you still approaching whatever he can give you guys next year as a ‘bonus?’

A: I am not counting it as a bonus, but I want to be prepared if he is not here.

Q: Is there any change in your perspective in the preparation on your part when you pick ninth instead of 12th like last year and going back to the Super Bowl when you picked last?

A: We just stack the board. Whoever we think the best player is in the first row, it doesn’t matter what position, which is how we do it. We stack them the same way. If you pick inside 12 picks, you should get a good football player.

Q: Does the expectation change as far as impact goes?

A: The higher you pick – that is how the system is. If you pick high in the draft – that is the way the whole system is built. If you pick high in the draft, you are supposed to get better players to help you have a better football team. If you are picking last in the draft, you get penalized for being successful. You get penalized, so you get lesser players. Whoever you pick at nine should be a better player than you pick at 32. That is the way the system is and obviously we are picking nine and expect to get a good player.  A really good player.

Q: Another general manager said there were eight to ten players who were real difference makers above other guys… Do you have a point in your estimation of how many guys are at a higher level than the rest of the group?

A: I think there is always a break. Everyone in the first row – that is why we call them rows; they are not first round picks. There are natural breaks. There may be eight and then there may be five more players, then there is another break. There are always breaks in the first row where you stack them, but you have to have 32 players in the first round.

Q: Where is that first break?

A: We’ll see.

Q: How are you looking at your safety position right now? Do you think it is a position of need?

A: We are not going to make do, just like any position, we are going to try to upgrade that position. Just like the rest of the positions. We are not going to make do. We have some young players that we think have some talent, but we are going to continue to try and upgrade that position as well.

Q: Last year we were saying you needed to get a tight end and you felt confident with some of the young guys… Is it the same thing now?

A: Every position we want to upgrade. We want to upgrade safety. We want to have competition at that position like we want to have at every position and we will try to do that.

Q: Tom talked about the possibility of converting Chykie Brown or Bennett Jackson to safety… Is that realistic in your mind and what goes into that?

A: It happens all the time. One of the best players we tried to get in free agency was the corner from New England. He was a corner and played safety. You see those conversions. That is not new to see something like that happen. That is a possibility as well.

Q: Are [Brown and Jackson] guys who could possibly convert in your eyes?

A: I think so. You never know. You have to experiment in the spring. Obviously you would like to get a guy who has played there and done the job, but you have to be creative in this day and age with your personnel.

Q: You went after [Devin] McCourty, so you wanted to upgrade that position… What happened after that? Do you look at Josh Gordy as a safety?

A: That is what he plays.

Q: What was the plan at that position after McCourty?

A: We thought he was the best player in free agency [at his position] and after that we thought there was a drop off and that is what happened.

Q: Now that Eli is back in the building and he said his attitude is to play the year and go from there… What is your thought on his contract?

A: It is inappropriate to talk about a contract right now. Eli is back in the building. He looks great. He is happy to be back. We are glad he is back. We will address that when it is appropriate.

Q: Do you sense that this a real opportunity for Eli this offseason, given that he is not coming off ankle surgery and he has already been in this offense for a year?

A: Yeah, I am excited. It should be a big year for him. He is not learning the offense. A lot of the players were in the offense last year. He’ll get another piece back hopefully with Victor Cruz coming back. The tight ends will have a little bit more experience. I hope the offense – we got [Shane] Vereen, who we think is a good piece to help our offense as well. I think our offense should be a pretty good offense.

Q: Re: Thought process in the signings of Vereen, [Dwayne] Harris, [J.T.] Thomas… What were you after?

A: We were trying to upgrade some positions that we already had. We knew we were going to lose some players. We felt Vereen was a really nice piece. Everyone knows what he does as a receiver out of the backfield, he can run the ball. He is a professional football player back there. He is really good on third down. Really good on any down, to be honest. We thought he would be a nice piece. Went after him and the two linebackers. We thought they were upgrades. They will battle for starting positions. Dwayne Harris, we thought the guy was kind of a four to five tool type player for us. We thought we were getting a lot of players out of one position. We played against him for a long time and he has been a good player for [Dallas]. Hopefully he will bring it over here to us and he will play for us in those capacities.

Q: Where do you view J.T. Thomas’s best position?

A: I don’t know. It is up to the coaches. He looked like a WILL linebacker to me, but that is up to the coaches.

Q: Are you still hoping to get Stevie Brown back?

A: We are going to keep all our options open.

Q: As one of the teams in the league that isn’t quarterback-needy, do you even look at those top two guys?

A: We look at everybody. You never say you aren’t quarterback-needy. You can’t say those kinds of things. Ralph just said we were deep at receiver and you are saying we don’t need a quarterback. I know better than to say something like that.

Q: What is your take on the two quarterbacks at the top of the draft?

A: They are good players. They are both good players. They are both different, but I think they are both, in what they do, I think they are both good players.

Q: Is your expectation that they are going to go one and two?

A: I don’t expect anything. Expect the unexpected in the draft. They may not go until 15, who knows?

Q: You have gone offense the last three years in the first round… Does that go into any decision making?

A: I didn’t even know that. Whoever the best player is at nine – we are going to pick them.

Q: Do you have any concern over Jason Pierre-Paul not being here for the offseason program and not signing the tender yet?

A: It is voluntary and it is inappropriate to talk about player contracts at this point in time. It is not mandatory that he should be here.

Q: After you get an Odell [Beckham Jr.]  and everything that he did in his first season and now you are picking at nine, are there heightened expectations?

A: You always want to get good players in the draft. Sometimes you hit on a guy like Odell and he is a terrific player, but the higher you pick, the better the player should be. When you are picking on the back end, it is obviously not the same caliber.

Q: When you look back at last year’s draft, from top to bottom, how do you evaluate it?

A: We don’t really look back on that draft that much. We draft them and that draft is over. We are moving on to this draft and we are excited about the players in this draft. We go back after two or three years and look and see why a guy made it or why a guy didn’t make it. After one year, it is really hard to evaluate.

Q: Was the approach different in the past two drafts?

A: No.

Q: This week, have you checked in with Odell and how his hamstring is feeling?

A: I just saw Odell a couple of minutes ago down in the weight room. He looks great and he didn’t say a word about his hamstring.

Q: Do you have any injuries that are long-term concerns?

A: There will be a couple guys we have concerns with, but we feel good about the vast majority of our players being ready to go for training camp.

New York Giants Player Q&As: Video clips of Thursday’s media Q&As with the following players are available at Giants.com:

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

Kevin Johnson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Cornerbacks

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

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

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

CURRENT CBs on NYG ROSTER

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

Prince Amukamara – 26 Years old – Signed through 2015

Trumaine McBride – 30 Years old – Signed through 2015

Chykie Brown – 29 Years old – Signed through 2016

Mike Harris – 26 Years old – Signed through 2015

Chandler Fenner – 25 Years old – Signed through 2015

Jayron Hosley – 25 Years old – Signed through 2015

Bennett Jackson – 24 Years old – Signed through 2015

Trevin Wade – 26 Years old – Signed through 2016

WHERE THEY STAND

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

TOP 20 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Terence Newman/MIN

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Johnathan Joseph/HOU

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Byron Maxwell/PHI

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Brandon Flowers/SD

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Sean Smith/KC

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Xavier Rhodes/MIN

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Keenan Lewis/NO

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Greg Toler/IND

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Buster Skrine/NYJ

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Casey Hayward/GB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 – Kevin White – TCU – 5’9/181 – 73

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

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

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

17 – Ifo Ekpre-Olomu – 5’9/192 – 73

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

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

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

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

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

20 – Josh Shaw – USC – 6’0/204 – 72

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

NYG APPROACH

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

NYG doesn’t need a CB, but it’s a spot that should always be added to every year with young talent. It has become such a vital position and there are a few examples around the league where this group has just destroyed a team’s chances of winning games. Personnel wise they don’t need to over-draft any of these guys, but it’s on the list of positions that should be considered. I like the idea of bringing in one of these guys that can possibly project to safety if things either don’t work out, or are too crowded at cornerback. Give me Gunter, Celiscar, or even Shaw on day 3 and I would be happy. There is some talk floating around with people I trust who are not just headline makers that NYG is going to consider Waynes at #9 overall.

Apr 202015
 
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Stephone Anthony, Clemson Tigers (December 29, 2014)

Stephone Anthony – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Linebackers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

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

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

CURRENT LBs on NYG ROSTER

Jon Beason – 30 Years old – Signed through 2016

Jameel McClain – 30 Years old – Signed through 2015

Devon Kennard – 24 Years old – Signed through 2017

JT Thomas – 27 Years old – Signed through 2017

Jonathan Casillas – 28 Years old – Signed through 2017

Mark Herzlich – 28 Years old – Signed through 2016

Terrell Manning – 25 Years old – Signed through 2015

James Davidson – 25 Years old – Signed through 2015

Uani Unga – 28 Years old – Signed through 2017

Victor Butler – 28 Years old – Signed through 2015

Ryan Jones – 24 Years old – Signed through 2015

WHERE THEY STAND

For years I have been calling for more talent at the linebacker positions via the draft. There is the argument that it is a group simply not needed for 4-3 defensive success but I have always strongly disagreed. The impact that three powerful, fast, and versatile linebackers can have on a defense is huge. This is a group that lacks star power but there are plenty of guys that can fill roles. Beason and McClain are now in their 30s with lateral movement issues, but they can more-than-get-by with their instincts and quick reactions. They are the vocal leaders of this defense. Kennard had the brightest upside of this group, showing inside/outside versatility and the talent to be an impact defender. Thomas and Casillas are both athletic linebackers that will bring an overly aggressive nature to this group, something they have lacked over the years. At the very least both of them will have a strong impact on special teams. Herzlich and Manning are easily replaceable and they will have to work hard to fend off younger, more athletic version of themselves throughout the preseason. The rest of the names up there are training camp bodies, although I had a high grade on Unga when he came out of BYU. I’d like to see what he can bring to the table in this defense.

TOP 20 GRADES and ANALYSIS

1 – Stephone Anthony – Clemson – 6’3/243 – 83

Upside Pro Comparison: Derrick Johnson/KC

Strong Points: Quick thinker and mover within the tackle box. Diagnoses the running lanes and takes the right angle towards the action to miss the meat of a block. Fast transition from shuffle to explosion downhill. Very agile and can play fast with easy bending. Closes the gap in front of him fast. Hard tackler with mechanics and consistent results. Very aware of the action around him. Shows a lot of necessary tools to defend the inside run. Good blitzing linebacker from all angles. Can wiggle his way through the line and reach the passer consistently.

Weak Points: Becomes less and less effective the more he moves away from the point of attack. Struggles to change direction in space. Can be outraced to the sideline by faster rushing attacks. The instincts in coverage do not match what he can diagnose against the run. Will play high at times, exposing too much of his chest to the blockers.

Summary: 1st Team All ACC defender that builds his game off of awareness, strength, and tackling ability. Anthony is a quality inside run defender with quick, powerful downhill ability. While he is athletic enough to play in the NFL, he may not be considered a 3 down linebacker. This brand of NFL defense has taken a slight step backward but he can still carve a nice niche for himself at the next level. Smart defenders with strength, power, and downhill ability will always be in demand. Probable starter for most schemes but he needs to use his athleticism in coverage more to be considered a great three down linebacker.

*I saw Anthony twice in September and both times I came away with a negative impression. I penciled in a 3rd round grade and went on from there. As the season progressed I kept on hearing his name from some people I really respect and I was convinced to take a look at some of his games from the second half of the season. With those in mind and what I saw during the pre-draft process, Anthony cemented himself as the top linebacker grade I’ve given out in 3 years. He is a guy that could likely start at MIKE or WILL in the Spags scheme from day one. He isn’t an elite cover guy but he can evolve in to a better one considering his top tier athletic ability. I’m not sure I could spend a top 10 pick on a guy like this, but he will be in my top 12 overall. He’d be a great 2nd rounder.

2 – Eric Kendricks – UCLA – 6’0/232 – 82

Upside Pro Comparison: Lavonte David/TB

Strong Points: Ultra productive and reliable tackling machine. Has a nose for the ball. Quick thinker, sees the offense well and has a natural flow towards the action. Can fight his way under blocks. Quick and light feet but maintains a power presence. Good lateral pursuit to reach the sidelines. Aggressive and strong on the move, can deliver a violent pop no matter where he is on the field. Will drive his body through the ball carrier and consistently get them to the ground. Efficient mover in coverage. Rarely gets caught out of position or moving in the wrong direction. Can turn his hips and stick with receivers up the seam. Can reach proper depth when dropping in to coverage.

Weak Points: Lacks the ideal size from a between-the-tackles linebacker. Light in the pants and doesn’t have a long reach. Average movement in pursuit. May not have the speed-based range to play all over the field. Won’t take blocks and anchor his position.

Summary: Butkus Award winner. Nation’s leader in solo tackles in 2014 and 2012. Two time team captain and has won a couple leadership awards. Kendricks lacks the ideal tool set that coaches look to use in the NFL. He is slightly undersized and lacks the top tier speed and strength. All he does is produce, however. He reads the action as good as any player in the nation is consistently in a position to make plays. He is a reliable, heady player that will direct traffic and quarterback the entire defense. His knack for locating the ball and taking down whoever is carrying it will get him on the field. His size may limit him to the weak side but he will be as reliable as it gets.

*Superstar linebacker? I don’t think so. But Kendricks is going to be a very solid player in the NFL and I have no doubt about it. He is a really safe pick. He lacks a couple of ideal size aspects but he is as smart as it gets and doesn’t miss tackles. Down the road I think he can be a MIKE but I think he could be a 100+ tackle WILL right away. He would fit this defense right now as well as any linebacker in the class. Spending a 2nd rounder on him would be a solid value.

3 – Denzel Perryman – Miami – 5’11/236 – 80

Upside Pro Comparison: Jon Beason/NYG

Strong Points: Thick, country strong linebacker that can drive himself through a ball carrier with consistency. Angry tackler with a power presence. Quick mover and an even quicker thinker. Brings a lot of force to every hit he makes. Can react to the action right after the snap and get himself in to position. Makes himself small to blockers and will sneak his way to the action. Low center of gravity. Great body control and balance. Explosive when moving downhill. Head is always on a swivel. Able to diagnose plays based on what is going on around him.

Weak Points: Lateral range is average. Struggles against the faster offenses to reach the sidelines. The further in space he gets, the lesser of an athlete he looks like. Won’t get off blocks fast enough. Looks overwhelmed when linemen have a free path to him. Gets lost in the traffic. Will have a hard time seeing through and/or over blockers. Size and speed may be a limiting factor at the next level.

Summary: 3rd Team All American and Finalist for the Butkus Award. Has been the leading or second leading tackler for Miami all four years of his career. Equally productive as an outside or middle linebacker. Perryman is an instinctual mover that is almost always in position to make a play against the run. He is an elite tackler that combines form and power. Leader of the defense with a lot of responsibility directing traffic around him. There are holes in his game that mainly come from a lack of size and speed but he is a true gamer that will find a way to make an impact each week. Future starter in the NFL at almost any linebacker position other than the 3-4 OLB spot.

*There are some people that hate Perryman and some that love him. I’ll be very interested to see where he goes draft weekend, as I have him graded as a 1st rounder but I’ve heard as low as round 4 from people with connections to teams. Perryman would be an ideal WILL in the Spags scheme from a run defending perspective. Yes, he may need to be taken off the field on passing downs but you know what? You need to get to third down. If you can’t stop the run, you won’t make it to 3rd down. Perryman is a bigger asset against the run and short passing game than he is a liability against the intermediate and long passing game. He is worth NYG’s 2nd rounder for sure.

4 – Bernardrick McKinney – Mississippi State – 6’4/246 – 79

Upside Pro Comparison: Emmanuel Lamur/CIN

Strong Points: Athletically gifted and tools-rich. Versatile athlete that lines all up all over the field, capable of wearing different hats. Explosive and fast athlete in space. Can turn speed in to power quickly. Functionally strong in short areas, can deliver a violent pop to blockers and ball carriers. Incredible wingspan and reach as a tackler. Wraps up and swallows his target after powerful initial contact. Effective blitzer. Can get off blockers using different ways to shake free. Bends well and can play a low pad level game. Strong hands to grip and rip off a blocker. Effective in coverage with loose hips and quick acceleration. Has the speed to hang with receivers in space.

Weak Points: Better athlete than he is a football player. Lacks the quick reactions and plays a lot of catch up. Delayed reads when in traffic. Doesn’t keep his head on a swivel and will be tricked by play action and counters. Takes too many false steps. Doesn’t get himself in position to make plays against the inside run consistently. Struggles to anchor his position via strong presence from his base.

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. All American. Top tier athlete for the position that gradually improved his overall level of play throughout the 2014 season. Was also an accomplished high school quarterback and basketball player. McKinney is one of the most explosive 250 pound athletes in the nation. He is an easy mover that creates a tremendous amount of force in short areas. His physical gifts outweigh his skill set at the moment, but he is steadily improving the nuances and reading ability of the linebacker position. His upside and potential are among the best in this draft class.

*When a prospect is a better athlete than what he shows on tape, I’m always worried. McKinney has all the size you can ask for and he is as explosive as some of the top wide receivers in this draft class. The issues is he doesn’t always display that kind of ability on tape but even his biggest opposers have to admit the light started to come on for him in 2014. He showed enough to me to warrant a high 2nd round grade because of where I think he will be in another year or two. McKinney is a similar talent to Kennard but I think there is a higher upside with him. If he continues to mentally and physically develop, he could be a star in the NFL. But I would project a potential “bust” with him more so than anyone on this list. Huge risk/reward.

5 – Shaq Thompson – Washington – 6’0/228 – 78

Upside Pro Comparison: DeAndre Levy/DET

Strong Points: Explosive, all over the field type athlete. Easy mover in space, has defensive back-caliber hips and footwork in coverage. Closes a ten yard gap as fast as any defender in the nation. Aggressive downhill tackler, will meet the ball carrier at the point of attack and stifle him with a strong initial pop. Hits hard with or without a running start, shows enough quick twitch power to handle between the tackles duty. Easily reaches the edge and tackles well on the move to the outside. Diagnoses quickly and reacts to the action without hesitation. High football IQ, aware of his positioning and where he needs to be. Has a knack for the big play.

Weak Points: Gets lost in traffic and overwhelmed by the bigger blockers. Will over pursue and create cutback lanes for ball carries. Chooses to run around the action rather than filling lanes. Struggles to consistently follow assignment football. Doesn’t wrap up consistently, needs to show more discipline with wrapping up. Needs more strength and size to handle a head on blocker.

Summary: Junior entry. First Team All American. Scored four touchdowns as a defender in 2014. Also played running back, finishing the year with 61 carries (7.48 avg) and 2 touchdowns. Versatile athlete that can fit in to several roles on defense. Former safety five start high school recruit. The speed and explosive athletic ability are elite. Thompson has developed the power and strength elements of his game, giving him the all around skill set to play every down in the NFL. He has sideline to sideline range and can even cover wide receivers in space. If he can continue to physically develop, Thompson has All-Pro potential at the next level.

*Interesting prospect here. Watching highlights of him and it’s hard not to dream of what he could do for the NYG defense. To get a real feel for who he is though, you need to watch 2-3 games in their entirety. Thompson looks overwhelmed for 3-4 plays in a row, then all of the sudden blockers can’t touch him and he’s finishing ball carriers off like Ray Lewis. Thompson is very role-specific and that’s what prevented me from giving him a round 1 grade. However, if a defense can let him do what he does best, he’ll deliver. And you know what? It wouldn’t hurt to have him in the offensive backfield as a short yardage back as well. I think he’ll eventually get in to that role in addition to being a defender. He showed very good RB skills.

6 – Cole Farrand – Maryland – 6’2/231 – 78

Upside Pro Comparison: Kiko Alonso/PHI

Strong Points: Wiry-strong frame with easy bend and mobility. Shows light feet with an explosive lower half. Can change direction with ease and will reach his top speed quickly. Smart player that reads the action. Consistently puts himself in position post-snap to impact the play. Can be slippery to blockers with his combination of bend-ability and quickness. Violent tackler. Delivers a strong jolt to the ball carrier, will snap helmets back. Easy mover in coverage, can flip his hips and react to the passer’s eyes.

Weak Points: Body control isn’t always there. His mind moves faster than his body. Will over-pursue and lose track of backside pursuit responsibilities. Speed to the sidelines is sub-average. Gets too hands-on in coverage. Struggles to break free from blockers that get their hands inside. Gives up too much ground against straight ahead blockers.

Summary: Fourth year senior and three year starter. Led the Terps in tackles two of the past three years. Farrand is an overlooked but fully capable linebacker with the tools, skills, and toughness to be an NFL starter. He is smart and instinctive before and after the snap. He pursues like his hair is on fire and finishes his tackles as if the ball carrier just kicked his puppy. Farrand is a three down player that may lack some top end speed, but has more than enough to factor in any kind of scheme in almost any kind of linebacker role. He will out produce many linebackers that are drafted ahead of him.

*So every year there is a linebacker or two that I am MUCH higher on than everyone else. This year, it’s Farrand. He wasn’t invited to the combine or the Senior Bowl and a lot of people I respect say he may not get drafted. It hasn’t deterred me from having a 2nd round grade on him. Farrand is a fun player to watch, the motor never turns off and he can fly all over the field. I like LBs that are constantly around the action. Farrand is rarely found away from the ball at the end of a play, he is a natural read and react defender. Athletically he has good size and put together a very impressive Pro Day performance. He is a much more athletic and more physical version of what NYG has in Herzlich. He is going to out-produce several guys drafted ahead of him.

7 – Taiwan Jones – Michigan State – 6’3/245 – 77

Upside Pro Comparison: David Harris/NYJ

*Jones is another thumper that could excel as an NFL run defender day one. When looking at his size, he has the natural gifts that NYG usually looks for with long arms and big hands to go along with a thick frame. Jones is as physical as it gets when it comes to taking on blockers at the point of attack and will make plenty of plays in the tackle box. He is likely a MIKE-only and may be best suited in the 3-4 scheme, but he could be a nice option for NYG to have is Beason doesn’t work out due to age and injuries.

8 – Martrell Spaight – Arkansas – 6’0/236 – 76

Upside Pro Comparison: Demeco Ryans/PHI

Strong Points: Fast reaction and great pre-snap reads. Gets himself in to position to make plays consistently. Minimal false steps, almost always moving in the right direction. Sure mover that can generate speed and power. Does not get fooled by counters or play action. Gets proper depth in coverage. Keeps his head on a swivel and will read the routes and quarterback simultaneously. Sneaks by blockers and has a nose for the ball. Good tackler, wraps up with good technique and good power. Effective blitzer, times it well and explodes out of his two point stance. Can use his hands and feet to get off blocks. Aggressive and sure minded.

Weak Points: Undersized for playing between the tackles as much as he does. Light in the pants. Doesn’t have staying power against blockers. Can be ridden out of a play if he doesn’t get the initial positional advantage after the snap. Limited athlete when pursuing to the outside, may not have that lateral range to reach the sidelines. Limited starting experience at the Division I level.

Summary: 2014 SEC leader in tackles. Former JUCO All American that has only one season of starting experience at the Division I level. Broke out in a big way in 2014. Spaight forced his way on to the national radar with a consistently productive season. He is one of the smartest pre and post snap defenders in the nation. He is constantly moving in the right direction and he knows how to locate the football and finish. He is not an elite mover and there are athleticism deficiencies, but players like this find a way on to the field and produce when given the opportunity. He may never be elite, but he will be reliable.

*Leading a conference like the SEC in tackles doesn’t weight lightly in my mind. Spaight lacks some of the talent and explosion of some of the top guys in this group, but it’s hard not to really like him after watching a few games. He is as good as it gets when it comes to taking a correct first step and working his way to the action. He is smart and savvy, a perfect general for the middle of any defense. Is he better suited for the 3-4? Sure. But he can hack it as a future MIKE for NYG while possibly bringing something to the table as a WILL right away.

9 – Hayes Pullard – USC – 6’0/240 – 75

Upside Pro Comparison: Manti Te’o/SD

Strong Points: Packs a hue punch, outplays his size. Violent and powerful tackler that will deliver a jolt to the ball carrier. Generates a lot of power within a short space. Attacking, downhill-type defender. Has the speed to reach the sidelines as well. Diagnoses quickly and moves with his eyes. Can get in to position with savvy decision making and quick, last second movement. Can make himself small and wiggle his way through traffic. Will meet blockers at the point of attack with aggression. Reliable tackler in traffic and in space, can make any kind of tackle.

Weak Points: Lacks the ideal size for play between the tackles. Will get overwhelmed and driven out of the play by blockers with a clean shot at him. Doesn’t use his hands to shed blockers, gets locked on to. Stiff in coverage, doesn’t turn and change direction with fluidity. Needs a lot of recovery time as a pass defender.

Summary: Fifth year senior, started all four seasons in the middle or the weak side. Led USC in tackles three of his four seasons. Pullard came to USC with a lot of hype and he performed at a high level through the end of his career there. He may not have the ideal size, but Pullard plays big and can add a violent, aggressive element to an NFL defense right away. He may be restricted to the weak side because of his lack of size and ability to deal with blockers, however. He will need to improve his performance against the pass if he wants to be more than a two down linebacker at the next level. At the very least, Pullard has the potential to be a star special teamer with the potential to be a solid contributor on defense as an athletic, rangy run defender.

*Pullard may have never reached his superstar status that many thought he would, but he is still a very good LB prospect. He can fit in to any scheme and will likely be able to play all three downs if need be. Pullard lacks explosion but he is quick at the point of attack and he knows how to finish. Very reliable tackler and he’ll make more plays than you think. Special teams demon and probably starter within a year or two at WILL or MIKE.

10 – Jake Ryan – Michigan – 6’2/240 – 75

Upside Pro Comparison: Chad Greenway/MIN

Strong Points: Sound technician. Quick thinker with consistent flow towards the action. Hard hitter that wraps up while trying to run through the ball carrier. Good back side pursuit. Takes good angles towards the ball and will make plenty of tackles on the other side of the line. Good straight line speed. Comfortable in space. Easy mover in coverage with light feet and loose hips. Productive and effective blitzer.

Weak Points: Gets lost in traffic. Reacts too slowly after diagnosing the blockers. Will play too high and gets locked on to by linemen. Short area quickness and explosion isn’t there. Torn ACL in the Spring of 2013.

Summary: Fifth year senior and two time team captain. Considered to be the leader of the Wolverines defense. Blue collar player. Ryan has played a couple of different positions, proving to be productive no matter where he lined up. He led the team in tackles in both 2012 and 2014 while showing the ability to be a true three down player. He may not have the movement ability and natural nose for the ball to be a starter right away, but he can factor as a quality backup and special teamer.

*A couple years ago Ryan was heading towards an eventual 1st round grade but a torn ACL and lack of speed development later, he’s entering his class with a 3rd round grade on my sheet. He is definitely a serviceable guy that will get a shot at some point, just not sure there is an upside here that you would choose over others guys in the class. He did have a few games in 2014 where he showed flashes of prospect with a higher grade. I like his approach and toughness. You could do much worse than him but he may need a specific role.

11 – Ramik Wilson – Georgia – 6’2/237 – 74

*He ran a 4.77 at the combine but I think Wilson may have the best lateral range from inside of all the LBs in this class. He is a quick accelerator that constantly plays with top tier effort and toughness. He could use more lower body strength but I think he’s a guy that screams Cover 2 defense type roles. He can help a defense looking for more athletic ability.

12 – Kwon Alexander – LSU – 6’1/227 – 73

*Undersized but tougher than everyone he plays against. It is fun to watch a guy weighing under 230 pounds beat the crap out of tackles and guards. Alexander does that but also shows the speed to reach the sidelines and shadow tight ends in coverage. Put him in the right scheme and you may have a Lavonte David type defender.

13 – Paul Dawson – TCU – 6’0/235 – 73

*He was viewed as a 1st rounder by some this past fall. He had a horrific combine and some reports have surfaced that he is a bad teammate and poor practice guy. I downgraded him a few points because of it. As a between the lines player, Dawson is versatile and brings playmaking ability. He isn’t a guy that fits a role though, as he roams too much and can really hurt a defense because of his approach. There is a lack of discipline here that appears on and off the field.

14 – Geneo Grissom – Oklahoma – 6’3/262 – 73

*Has the NFL body already and could handle the physical part of the game week 1 of the season. Some view him as a 3-4 OLB only but I think this could be a hybrid that NYG has been searching for but with enough movement ability to factor in coverage packages as well. He could be a nice SAM here in NY.

15 – Josh Keyes – Boston College – 6’2/230 – 71

*Interesting guy here. If I had to give another name of a guy that I think will out-perform several others that are drafted ahead of him, it’s Keyes. He played an interesting, rush linebacker type role for the BC defense. There were times where looked unblockable against some of his best competition. I think this kid is a gamer and he’s added some needed weight in addition to an impressive pro day performance. If he can show he is more than an undersized rush linebacker, I think he can be a big time defender.

16 – Bryce Hager – Baylor – 6’1/234 – 70

Tackling machine that excelled at moving his way through traffic and locating the ball. He is fast, smart and savvy. He can avoid the meat of blocks and doesn’t need much to produce. He can create on his own with a combination of instincts and quick feet. Special teamer that could produce his way in to a bigger role.

17 – Mike Hull – Penn State – 6’0/237 – 70

*Similar to Hager and Heeney from a read and react point of view but a slightly lesser athlete. Hull can get locked on to and will get overwhelmed more often than I like. But he simply won’t miss tackles and could likely give a team 100+ of them in year one if he started right away. Just not sure I see the upside here.

18 – Ben Heeney – Kansas – 6’0/232 – 68

*Another tackling machine here that raised eyebrows at the combine with probably the best workout among all the LBs. He put up defensive back type results. Heeney can play with that kind of speed and quickness but there are countless examples on tape that he struggles to finish off plays. He missed more tackles than any defender in the country in 2014. He is a special teamer that can backup spots in the NFL, but I think he lacks “it”.

19 – Quinton Alston – Iowa – 6’1/235 – 68

*Between the tackles thumper that has more speed to his game that I initially thought. He can reach the edges and he maintains power on the move. Quality MIKE/WILL blend in the Spags scheme that could add some special teams presence as well.

20 – Jordan Hicks – Texas – 6’1/236 – 68

*One of the most impressive athletes of all these linebackers and he is a guy that started to click mentally in 2014. Someone is going to him enough to spend a day 2 pick on I think. I’m not as high but the upside is higher than most of the guys he is grouped with. I would rather this kind of athlete factor better in coverage than what Hicks showed.

NYG APPROACH

This LB group is stronger and deeper than any of what I’ve been grading over the past 5 years. There are several MIKE-type linebackers that could fill in at WILL and even a few that could play an athletic SAM role. There isn’t a whole lot of demand for LBs in the draft, as it seems really good grades always fall to day three. With the amount of depth in this group, I could see a good amount of day 2 grade being available in rounds 4 through 6. With that in mind, it may be too tempting to keep passing on these guys despite the need at LB not being huge.

There are a lot of LBs on this roster already. One could make the argument that NYG is fully stocked there and bringing in a rookie would force an unnecessary cut. While the need at LB isn’t what I labeled it to be over the past few years, I would gladly bring in anyone of these kids and get Herzlich off the roster. I know he brings special teams presence and backs up multiple positions, but I’m confident a lot of these kids could as well while offering more long term upside. The MIKE is filled by Beason, fine. Kennard will play SAM and possibly roam through different spots depending on the package. But the rest of the names are not far and away better than the top guys on this list. LB is definitely an option on day two. As I said earlier, if NYG can bring in a big time player to the second level of the defense, we could see things change in a way some simply don’t know exists.

Apr 172015
 
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Dante Fowler, Florida Gators (November 15, 2014)

Dante Fowler – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Ends and Edge Rushers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*DISCLAIMER* – I am putting all the edge rushers in this group. If I think the player is a primarily a pass rusher (whether it be OLB or DE) he will be in this group, no matter the size.

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

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

CURRENT DEs on NYG ROSTER

Jason Pierre-Paul – 26 Years old – Signed through 2015

Robert Ayers – 30 Years old – Signed through 2015

Damontre Moore – 23 Years old – Signed through 2016

Kerry Wynn – 24 Years old – Signed through 2016

George Selvie – 28 Years old – Signed through 2015

Jordan Stanton – 24 Years old – Signed through 2016

WHERE THEY STAND

We still have to say this group is a strength of the team no more. Gone are the days of NYG having “too many” quality edge rushers. The pass rush did improve in 2014 from 2013, however and there is reason to hope this can be a quality group if things line up and they all stay healthy. JPP was franchised and is fully capable of being a top 10 DE in the game. His performance against the run goes overlooked, he really is a true three down player. Ayers was arguably the best NYG defender in 2014, showing left/right and inside/outside versatility. When I talk about presence, approach, and attitude, Ayers is a perfect example of what this team needs more of. I think Moore has been under-utilized throughout his young career and his has he potential to be a very disruptive player. He may be a bit of a liability against the run, showing a lack of anchor-type strength but he is a tough guy to block off the edge on passing downs. He needs more snaps. Wynn showed promise in preseason 2014 and finally got a few looks late in the season and produced. Selvie was brought in to rotate with the guys mentioned above. The light has turned on for the tools-rich edge rusher and can easily be a 8-sack guy every year if the snaps are there. Stanton is a training camp body.

TOP 20 GRADES and ANALYSIS

1 – Dante Fowler – Florida – 6’3/261 – 84

Upside Pro Comparison: Cliff Avril/DET

Strong Points: Versatile edge player with the tools and skills to be moved around all over the defense. Has the short area explosion and turns speed in to power on a whim. Bendy and stout at the same time. Can get under the blocker’s pads with force and all of his balance. Has the speed in space to run with backs and receivers. High effort, aggressive nature that plays hard through the whistle. Pursues to the sidelines and shows the functional speed and strength to factor all over the field in any role. Heavy hands and powerful leg drive. Has an array of rush moves that appear natural for him to use.

Weak Points: Technique and mechanics have flaws every time I see him on tape. Inconsistent presence and approach. Struggles to recover after being beat off the ball. Won’t disengage from the more powerful blockers. Timing off the snap isn’t always there. Limited exposure in coverage, may be a downhill-only type player. Light in the pants, needs more weight below his waist.

Summary: Junior entry. All American season in 2014. Won the team’s MVP award in 2014 as well. Turned in to the feature player on this defense once Dominique Easley went down with an injury in 2013. Easley is a disruptor off the edge that played standing up and with his hand in the dirt. Fowler lost over 20 pounds over his three year career with the Gators and it looks like that may one of the main reasons he broke out in a big way this past season. He is a lot more explosive and fluid when he is playing at or below 260 pounds. His best role is at outside linebacker in a 3-4 front where he can be turned loose and blend his short area power and explosion. He will need to improve his approach from a mechanical perspective and he could use more lower body strength, but he is an immediate impact guy on the edge.

*Fowler isn’ the athletic freak that some make him out to be. He really gets by on grit, hustle, and a level of aggression that a lot of players don’t have. His production in college was back and forth because of his constantly-changing role and body. He was 20 pounds heavier at one point, putting his hand in the ground and playing inside gaps at times. In 2014 Fowler found his best role with 20 pounds off his frame and he’s now a top 10, possibly top 5 prospect. He can play DE in a 4-3 but I don’t think it’s his best role. He performs better standing up and he could play a Von Miller/Khalil Mack type role. If he is there at #9 somehow, NYG has to consider him strongly.

2 – Shane Ray – Missouri – 6’3/245 – 84

Upside Pro Comparison: Trent Cole/IND

Strong Points: Explosive pass rusher with the ability to reach the passer several ways. Explosive first step gives him the initial advantage. Turns the corner low and fast. Flexible hips allow him to explode from the lower half with plenty of strength. Violent tackler. Sends a jolt to his target. Can be stunted inside where he is just too quick and agile for the interior blockers. Consistent aggression, motor is always on. Pursues hard and fast, will make plenty of plays away from the line of scrimmage.

Weak Points: Lacks the ideal build for a defensive end. Light in the pants. Does not anchor his position against the run right at him. Will over pursue and create cutback lanes for running backs. Does not recognize the trap blocks, won’t read the offensive line to get himself in position. Ineffective bull rush against his toughest one on one competition.

Summary: Junior entry. Fourth year junior that has played on an incredibly talented defensive line all three years. Has been used as part of a rotation. Broke out in a big way in 2014 with 21 TFL and 12.5 sacks. Ray is ultra-talented from an athleticism perspective. He can beat blockers with straight line speed, change of direction, balance, leverage, and agility. He is a skilled player in addition, showing a variety of pass rush moves and routes to the quarterback. He may lack the ideal size, power, and strength for some schemes but plain and simple, he can reach the quarterback. His intensity and passion for the game should create even more opportunities for him to make plays. He may be somewhat scheme-specific but his impact in the NFL could be Pro-Bowl caliber.

*I’ve been on Ray from the beginning. There are size and strength concerns here and you would be silly to not admit it. He in’t long, He isn’t thick. He doesn’t have a wide frame. What Ray has that others lack however is a level of explosion, speed, and aggression with pads on that others simply do not. Ray is a guy that will fight harder than the player assigned to block him every down of every game. While he struggles to anchor his position against straight ahead power blockers, Ray still has a presence. He delivers violent hits and pops to ball carriers. He can stifle offensive tackles in their tracks. Ray is a passionate player that finds ways to beat his man. Is he a 3 down player right away? Probably not. But the impact he can have on a game is enormous. He is worth the #9 pick.

3 – Owamagbe Odighizuwa – UCLA – 6’3/264 – 82

Upside Pro Comparison: Osi Umenyiora/FA

Strong Points: Gifted tools from frame and athleticism perspectives. Explosive out of his stance. Can get in to a blocker right away and initiate the engagement. Wide array of pass rush moves that seem refined and ready to go at all times. Really quick and powerful hands when using a swim or rip. Easy bender that can cut the corner of the edge with ease. Functionally strong, can turn speed in to power in a blink. Hyper-active athlete, motor is always on. Shows a passion for the game. Good tackler that uses his length to swallow the ball carrier. Defends the run well. Stays under the pads of his blocker to maintain and anchored position. Late and sudden movement to get off the blocks and in position to make the tackle.

Weak Points: Shows the tendency to get locked on to when rushing the passer. Needs to add more generate more power from his base, doesn’t offer much as a bull rusher. Will over pursue and create cutback lanes. Won’t read the action and is often late to react. Missed all of 2013 with a hip injury.

Summary: Has the talent and style of play to far exceed the production he put up in college. Odighizuwa has a blend of power, speed, and flexibility that is rare to come across. When he puts all of his tools together with his hyper motor, he can be a nightmare for a lone blocker to deal with. He needs to become a smarter player and learn to shed blocks when defending the run. If he can do that, there is a very high ceiling when looking at his potential. Starting-caliber defensive end here with a blend of everything one can ask for in a defensive end.

*From the first game I scouted of Owam, I’ve felt this guy has the goods to be an elite pass rusher in the NFL. He has the get off, he has the easy flexibility, he has the hand power, he has the pass rush moves and most importantly the motor never turns off. The slight issue here is a hip problem that has hampered him in the past. Even though he’s been at full strength for almost two years now, there are medical reports out there that will dictate how far he drops. I did factor that in to his final grade and if it wasn’t in the picture, Owam would be one of my top 8 grades in the class. If he somehow fell in to round 2, he is a guy I would even consider trading up for from #40 overall.

4 – Vic Beasley – Clemson – 6’3/246 – 81

Upside Pro Comparison: Von Miller/DEN

Strong Points: Explosive edge rusher that can accelerate quickly. Bends well and can sneak both by and under offensive tackles. Good uses of hands, he can use them with power and quickness. Can deliver a violent swipe on the move when a blocker tires to lock him up. Violent hitter and tackler. He can really make his presence felt when he reaches the ball carrier. Consistent aggression. Hustles across the field with top tier pursuit speed. Combination of pass rush moves can be called upon at any point. At his best from a pure speed rush stance, but he can rip/spin/uppercut his way to the inside shoulder. Developed upper body with explosive power in space.

Weak Points: Lack of size, especially below the waist. Doesn’t fill the back side of his pants. In tight space, his strength and power appear to be on the weaker side. His impact play to play isn’t there. Doesn’t factor much against the run when it’s right at him. Struggles to control the engagement and get rid of blockers going right at him. Doesn’t break through the double team, nor does he anchor his position against them. Most likely not a fit for every scheme.

Summary: Beasley is an All American and Clemson’s all time leading sack artist. His game is based purely on speed, quickness, and hustle. There are some developed skills to his game as well when it comes to pass rush moves of different sorts. His struggle, however, has always been and will likely always be strength-based. He is light in the pants and he struggles to hold up against the bigger blockers in traffic. Boom or bust type player that needs a scheme that will boost his strengths and really hide his weaknesses. Could end up being strictly a situational player at the next level.

*Clemson was one of my main schools I was assigned to last summer, so I’ve seen pretty much every single one of Beasley’s games over the past two years. I was on him being a top 15 guy right away and I think there is still a shot he is the first edge guy taken. His get off and bend-ability are top tier. He has good upper body strength with powerful, quick hands and the foot speed of a wide receiver. Beasley is a pass rush specialist that will make tackles look downright silly, and good ones too. He is a hard guy to touch, let alone block out on an island. Are there concerns with his lower body strength and run defense? Absolutely. He isn’t a perfect, elite prospect. But the upside here may be the highest among all these guys. If NYG took him at #9, it could be the perfect fit for the role they have tried to create with much lesser athletes.

5 – Preston Smith – Mississippi State – 6’5/271 – 80

Upside Pro Comparison: Cameron Jordan/NO

Strong Points: Versatile pass rusher with the speed to rush the edge and the strength to rush the interior. Tough guy for blockers to move. Anchors his position against the run with a strong lower body and stiff arms. Sees the action and pursues the ball in traffic. At his best when bull rushing the inside shoulder of the offensive tackle. Gets out of his snap and hands on the blocker quickly. Wins a lot of battles post-engagement because of the initial hand and body position. Technically sound pass rusher. Creates matchup problems for any kind of blocker.

Weak Points: Doesn’t have the initial jump out of his three point stance. Won’t win the battles with a blocker on athleticism. Tight-hipped and won’t show the wiggle and late movement. Takes too long and too many steps to change direction. Doesn’t get near the action enough, will disappear for long stretches within a game.

Summary: First team all SEC defensive end that broke out in 2014 with a consistently productive season. Smith is a power rusher that displayed a developed and versatile skill set. He can be moved inside and out, exploiting matchup problems for the opposition. He gets to the passer a few different ways. His strength, and hand positioning allow him to rush between the tackles successfully but there is also a little pop to the outside that he can use when the offensive tackles lean to far inside. Smith has an ideal frame for the position and while there may be a slight athleticism deficit, he more than makes up for it with strength and consistent technique.

*Every year I feel NYG is looking for their next Justin Tuck. It’s hard to find a defender with really powerful presence, easy quickness, and inside/out versatility that is created from a combination of refined skills and high-upside tools. Smith is that guy. I think NYG is going to have a VERY high grade on Smith. #9 pick? I don’t think so but he is going to be a guy that will move around to get on their team. Smith is a legit day one starter in a 4-3 scheme and the inside/out versatility he showed at Mississippi State would be a godsend for Spagnuolo. He’s lost about 15 pounds since his playing weight in college and the athleticism he has shown over the past few months leads me to believe this guy has Pro Bowls in his future.

6 – Randy Gregory – Nebraska – 6’5/235 – 80

Upside Pro Comparison: DeMarcus Ware/DEN

Strong Points: Explosive edge rusher that moves well with ease. Smooth athlete with the frame to put on bulk. Easy bender with freakish flexibility and quickness. Changes direction with balance and power. High effort player, works hard on the field to do the little things right. Uses a variety of rush moves to the outside. Diagnoses the blocker’s strategy and pounces on to where is vulnerable. Can explode off the snap from a three point stance or standing up starting position. Gets his hands inside with plenty of knee bend. Disciplined and patient pass rusher. Can set his man up and bounce off to accelerate past him. Finishes his tackles. Wraps up and drives to the ground.

Weak Points: Has a thin and almost lanky frame. Lacks a power game. Doesn’t play the inside run well, struggles to get himself off the power blockers. Won’t drive tackles back as a bull rusher. Can be stifled easily when he rushes the inside shoulder. Needs to be in space to be effective, not a traffic player. Has had a laundry list of injuries in 2014 (knee, toe, foot, concussion) after missing time over the summer with a minor knee surgery. There are questions concerning his ability to physically hold up in the NFL.

Summary: Gregory may be the top edge rushing prospect in this class. He has elite athleticism and the frame to put on more weight. He explodes off the snap and changes direction as if he were ice skating. He can bend his body in any direction at the snap of a finger. His struggles revolve around a lack of power and strength. He can be ineffective against the run to his inside shoulder and he won’t get much of a push. His long list of injuries need to be looked in to as well. The upside is huge but there are always players with this kind of situation that don’t pan out in the NFL, so buyer beware.

*It’s easy to see what everyone loves about this player. Gregory has top tier flexibility and ability to move. He is so fluid and easy and there is more power behind him than one thinks. He needs to get stronger but I don’t think he necessarily needs to add 30 pounds. He can out-muscle several guys that outweigh hum by a lot. Gregory can be a top tier edge player in this league but the question that made me downgrade him by 3-4 points was the drug concern. I have a hard time thinking football is Priority A when you fail a drug test that you know is coming. The NFL is not taking this stuff lightly and he will be on their radar from day one. There is talent here but he isn’t head and shoulders above these other guys, I’d rather go with lesser off the field risk.

7 – Arik Armstead – Oregon – 6’7/292 – 78

Upside Pro Comparison: Calais Campbell/ARI

Strong Points: Massive size from every perspective. Long and thick limbs. Can still bend well at the point of attack and can deliver as violent a punch as anyone in the nation. Shows the physical ability to dominate any matchup that is put in front of him. Has a suddenness to his game. Quick reaction and can move within a five yard window as fast as anyone. Makes the effort to get his pad level down. Can hold his ground at the very least, showing the short area power to get a constant push when he wants to. Explosive, hard hitting tackler that can put a ball carrier through the ground. Effective bull rusher with top tier driving power. Elite power presence with good and balanced footwork.

Weak Points: Pad level is inconsistent. Ineffective when he exposes his chest, giving blockers a massive target to lock on to. Effort runs hot and cold. Will lose track of his mechanics and rely too much on his size and ability. Was not nearly as productive as his talent would indicate. Does not have a natural flow towards the action, spends too much time away from the ball.

Summary: Junior entry. Played for the Oregon basketball team in addition for two years. Elite level tool set that has shown several flashes of being a rare player. Armstead is a big, thick body but moves like a basketball player. He has quickness, agility and grace in the open field. When his motor is on, Armstead can dominate anyone at the point of attack. His presence isn’t always felt on the stat sheet, but offenses will always need to know where he is. He is versatile enough to play on the outside of any scheme and could end up being an elite player if he continues to develop.

*In January I talked about Armstead as a top 10 caliber guy with his blend of size, power, and short area explosion. I dove deeper in to his game and found there are a few maddening inconsistencies but at his best, I think he is better than Leonard Williams. At almost 300 pounds, he can athletically handle 4-3 DE responsibilities as a pass rusher and simply dominate against the run. When his technique and effort were on, he was tossing blockers around like rag dolls. For the most part Armstead plays hard and physical and he would add a versatile option to this defense that could make an enormous difference on this defense. His long term upside can be discussed with the best young names in the game.

8 – Bud Dupree – Kentucky – 6’4/269 – 77

Upside Pro Comparison: Cameron Wake/MIA

* I do think the talks about him being a top 10 pick are real. I don’t want to claim to be on the inside but I keep hearing from people I trust that there are 3 teams in the top 10 that want him. Time will tell. I think it is a common, but rarely ever successful, situation where the guy has some explosion on tape and puts together a top tier workout which leads to an overly high grade. He does have a nice get off and there is above average flexibility, but I don’t see a guy that is going to consistently win the one on one battles. He’ll get his share and I do have him graded as a 2nd rounder, but I don’t see the special in him. He gets locked on to and struggles to disengage. I don’t see any bull rush ability. I see a guy that dances around too much. Can he fit in to a 4-3 DE role? Sure, but ideally you get a guy with better urn defense for the level of production he will offer as a pass rusher.

9 – Lorenzo Mauldin – Louisville – 6’4/259 – 77

Upside Pro Comparison: Jabaal Sheard/NE

Strong Points: Savvy edge rusher. Understands how to set up blockers throughout a game. Can dip and change direction with a natural flow. Explosive off the snap. Good body control and awareness. Pursues well, often found near the action. Strong tackler with good mechanics and power presence. Aggressive, high motor athlete that will make plenty of plays based on hustle alone. Understands how to use his length to his advantage. Will play with a low base and high hands. Can anchor his position against the run and get off blocks with quick, last second movement. Long strider in space.

Weak Points: Lacks a bull rush type presence to his game. Doesn’t push blockers back in to the pocket. Would rather dance around a blocker than drive through him. Lacks awareness and experience in coverage. Doesn’t play with his head on a swivel, will be tricked by blocking schemes involving traps and counters. Needs more strength and girth.

Summary: Mauldin is a tools-rich edge rusher with experience as a 4-3 DE and a 3-4 OLB. He is a comfortable athlete with plenty of ability to change direction in a small box and work his way to the pocket. He was used in a variety of ways at Louisville, constantly changing sides of the line, playing standing up and with is hand in the dirt, and rushing inside and outside shoulders. Very easy bender with short area pop. Mauldin will need to add strength and power to his repertoire but he is a natural, savvy edge player with the tools to be an effective player early on in his career.

*I struggled with the decision of Mauldin being a LB or DE/Edge. He played both at Louisville and he is the one guy on this list that is actually a factor when he drops back in to coverage. I’ll keep him here for now. Mauldin is a smart, smart player that can get himself in position to make plays quicker than others. There is legit talent here too. He can be explosive on one play, bull rush on the next, and use one of his refined moves after. He has a nose for the ball. He reminds me of DaMontre Moore in college actually. He can fit in to this scheme a few different ways.

10 – Henry Anderson – Stanford – 6’6/294 – 77

Upside Pro Comparison: Datone Jones/GB

Strong Points: Long and wiry strong type frame. Bends exceedingly well and is often found being the low man between him and the blocker. Quick and explosive out of his stance. Shoots the gaps well. Keeps his body low and strong hands in front. Works hard to get the inside position. Sheds blocks consistently and will get near or in on the action often. Wide array of rush moves. Rip, swim, and uppercut are all well developed. Accelerates hard within a short space. Shows tackle to tackle range. Good tackler, wraps up hard and aggressively finishes. Has surprising ability to speed rush the edge and turn the corner. Can hold the point and get rid of the blocker after diagnosing. Very good instincts and reaction.

Weak Points: Gets driven back by the double team. Once he gets stood up he has a hard time holding his position. Limited speed in the open field, lacks the extra gear in pursuit. Won’t explode in to the blocker and deliver a violent jolt. May have a limited power output at his current weight. Missed 6+ games in 2013 with a knee injury.

Summary: Fifth year senior with a lot of starting experience. Anderson is moved all over the line because of his versatile skill set. With his height and length, he can be a weapon between the tackles to combat the short, quick passing game with his ability to cloud the throwing lanes. There is also a good amount of flexibility and quickness that makes him a very good one-gap rusher. His reach for the blocker off the snap allows him to control the engagement and his skill set of shedding blocks while maintaining body control allows him to get in on a lot of action. High upside, versatile player that can wear a lot of hats.

*During the season I thought I would have Anderson graded as a first rounder. Once I started to really break him down, I found more holes in his game but I still think he can be a versatile difference maker in a 4-3. Some label him as a 3-4 only guy, and I wholeheartedly disagree. He would fit perfect as a LDE that shifts inside on passing downs. He is a classic pass rusher that can be too quick for power blockers, but too strong for the fast-footed blockers. At 6’6+, Anderson plays with a really low pad level and considering he has almost 300 pounds on that frame, he is simply a tough guy to block in any situation for any blocker. He lacks the superstar ceiling, but Anderson is the kind of guy that wins games. Every winning team as an Anderson on their team.

11 – Nate Orchard – Utah – 6’3/250 – 77

*Maybe the player I was impressed by the most at the Senior Bowl. Orchard lacks size and strength below the waist, but he was consistently productive against the run and pass. He is crafty more than he is talented but he showed a good combination of tools and skills against some stiff competition. He gave Peat, an OT I really respect, a headache for a few plays in their matchup.

12 – Eli Harold – Virginia – 6’3/241 – 76

*I remember watching Harold play in October and saying that was gonna be a guy I couldn’t wait to scout next year. He just looked like an NFL edge guy. I was surprised to see him come out early and I think he could have been a top 10 guy after another year of college football. I scouted him after the season and comparing him to the top edge guys on this list, he just isn’t on their level. He has good get off by the lacks hand strength and won’t disengage from blockers. There are a couple pieces missing but he is still a guy I think has the upside to be an impact player down the road.

13 – Mario Edwards – Florida State – 6’3/279 – 74

*There are a few guys telling me Edwards is going to be a 1st round pick. That may be the case but I think he is a day 3 guy. Edwards will be a solid role player with a high floor, you know what you are getting with him. He is big and powerful, can defend the run. Even has some surprising ability to move in space but there isn’t the quick twitch. I don’t see him as a pass rush factor or a guy that disrupts the backfield. Solid but unspectacular.

14 – Markus Golden – Missouri – 6’2/260 – 74

*I’ll tell you what, Golden was one of my favorite players in the nation this past year to watch. He is a mean, mean dude that has muscles growing on muscles. I want to grade him higher but he is lacking in several physical traits that are really important. He is short and he lacks length. He isn’t fast and he isn’t explosive. In the NFL, that’s a combination of weaknesses that rarely works out. But I will still put a 4th round grade on him and he is guy I would welcome with open arms at that point. He plays as hard as anyone and he will be good for physical presence and intensity, if nothing else.

15 – Danielle Hunter – LSU – 6’5/252 – 74

*Prime example of two players with the same grade but they leave a different taste in my mouth when looking at Hunter and Golden. Hunter is a guy I don’t like right now, but he is blessed with a tool set that can be developed in to superstar status. He has height, length, strength, speed, explosion, and flexibility. Those are important check marks. Hunter wasn’t productive at all in college but you can’t deny his upside. He is a multi-year project that I think will be drafted way before I would consider him an option for NYG.

16 – Trey Flowers – Arkansas – 6’2/261 – 73

*At first glance he is a ‘nothing special’ guy but the more you watch, the more football player you see in him. He is a coach’s favorite and if NYG is still on their obsession with team captains and top tier behavior off the field, Flowers is a guy that may want. He isn’t tall but he is long and he plays with a low pad level, tough guy to lock on to. He’s smart and he plays hard, there are some interesting tools here to work with. Limited upside but he could be a niche guy.

17 – Anthony Chickillo – Miami – 6’3/267 – 71

*Interesting guy here that some people I respect are very high on. He was in a tough spot at Miami, playing a 3-4 DE role and even shifting inside at times. He couldn’t display his combination of tools and skills until the pre-draft process, one he did very well with. I think NYG will be attracted to a guy like this, similar to the way they liked David Tollefson a few years back except Chickillo has more talent.

18 – Martin Ifedi – Memphis – 6’3/275 – 71

*Overlooked prospect by many but I think there will be a few teams with a high grade on him. Teams with hybrid fronts may even have a 3rd round grade on him. Ifedi excels once he engages with the blocker. He has quick feet and strong hands with long arms, making hum a tough guy to lock up. He isn’t explosive but he is crafty and times his reactions and movements well.

19 – Hau’oli Kikaha – Washington – 6’2/253 – 71

*Classic example of a guy that that had a productive, All-American type season and the draft community got too high on and immediately put him in the 1st round. I think I even saw one of the ESPN guys put him in the top 10 at one point. That has subsided and bit and I think he ends up exactly where I always thought he would, day 3. I love the energy/motor/aggression he brings to the table. He doesn’t have a power presence though and he won’t out-move NFL OTs. He can be a special teams weapon and situational guy at best.

20 – Zack Wagenmann – Montana – 6’3/247 – 71

Not sure this guy can hack it as a 4-3 DE, as I just don’t see the body type. But if NYG can create a role for a situational pass rusher from a LB type spot, Wagenmann is worth a day 3 look. At a lower level of college football, he looked like Clay Matthews with his explosion off the ball and relentless pursuit of the action. He is a physical guy that had a nice showing at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.

TOP UDFA SLEEPER

Andre Monroe – Maryland – 5’11/260

Yes that height is correct and yes some people won’t even look at him as a DE. If you want to see Iowa OT Brandon Scherff struggle, go watch him matched up against Monroe. Monroe is the all time sack leader at Maryland and he is a guy that makes any kind of blocker work extra hard from start to finish. I think this is a kid that will fight his way on to a roster and surprise people.

NYG APPROACH

From the early fall, I have viewed these edge prospects as a really strong and deep group. There are plenty of guys that fit the mold of an explosive speed rusher and plenty of guys that can play the every down role. I think there is a legit shot we see 5 of these kids go in the top 10 overall. If you miss out on one of the top guys, there will be plenty of options to go after an upside player in the rounds that follow. The main issue, however, several teams will be looking for edge help. It’s become such a high demand role, even for the teams that are considered to be strong there already.

My issue with NYG when it comes to pass rush is simple. I feel they have been hindering themselves from improvement by only targeting specific players that fit the traditional 4-3 DE roles. Guys that have to be a certain height/weight/length. Well, this year those guys simply are far and few between while there are several players that can help this team be more productive against the pass. I want NYG to be more innovative with their view and implementation of edge rushers in to their scheme. If they don’t select a Beasley, or Ray, or Fowler simply based on size and the traditional 4-3 DE “needs”, it will bother me. Hopefully Spags learned a thing or two in Baltimore about tweaking a system based on personnel. NYG has a decent group of DEs right now but who knows where JPP will be in a year and the adage remains, you can never have enough pass rushers. I would love to see NYG bring in one of those first 10 names I discussed.

Apr 142015
 
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Leonard Williams, USC Trojans (February 22, 2015)

Leonard Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Tackles

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

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

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

CURRENT DTs on NYG ROSTER

Johnathan Hankins – 23 Years old – Signed through 2016

Cullen Jenkins – 34 Years old – Signed through 2015

Kenrick Ellis – 28 Years old – Signed through 2015

Markus Kuhn – 29 Years old – Signed through 2015

Jay Bromley – 23 Years old – Signed through 2017

Dominique Hamilton – 26 Years old – Signed through 2015

WHERE THEY STAND

I wouldn’t call the current group of DTs a weakness but there is plenty of room for improvement across the board. Hankins has blossomed in to a quality three down player. He is a force against the run with his ability to control multiple gaps and make plays when he is single teamed. If you made a list of the top 10 DTs across the league, Hankins has a right to be on it. Jenkins and Ellis provide the balance of run and pass defense from the inside. Jenkins is a versatile and savvy defender that can take advantage of matchups inside and outside, while Ellis was brought in to add a much needed run defender to keep linebackers clean. The wildcard here is Bromley, a potential pass rush presence that NYG desperately needs. Many, including myself, believe he was over-drafted in round 3 last year. He has every opportunity to be a difference maker along this defensive line. Kuhn and Hamilton can compete for jobs, but neither have proven to be difference makers and decisions won’t be made based on them.

TOP 20 GRADES and ANALYSIS

1 – Leonard Williams – USC – 6’5/302 – 89

Upside Pro Comparison: Muhammed Wilkerson/NYJ

Strong Points: Physical marvel that has made an impact from day one of his career. Freakish combination of size, speed, and strength. Strong hands that grab on to the blocker and can toss them aside with ease. Plays with a low base and high hands. Holds the point of attack whether he is up against single or double teams. Powerful bull rusher up the middle with the ability to collapse the pocket. Can get to the quarterback a variety of ways from different spots along the defensive line. Versatile athlete. Can accelerate off his blocks. Can use his strength or quickness at any given point throughout the engagement. Explosive tackler that swallows ball carriers. Very aggressive, high effort player. Tough gamer, plays through injuries at a high level.

Weak Points: Doesn’t read the action around him. Will be forced in to compromising positions against trap blocks. Slow reaction to complex blocking schemes. Relies too much on strength and power rather than technique. Footwork is inconsistent. Doesn’t play the game with his feet as much as he does his hands.

Summary: Junior entry. Widely considered a top tier talent in this draft class as a whole. Williams is a true nightmare for offensive linemen. He is too big and fast for a lone blocker to take on. He can be moved around the defensive line in any scheme. His short area explosion and power presence can be a dominant force within the tackle box against the run. His speed out of his stance and variety of rush moves can collapse the edge of the pocket against the pass. There isn’t much that Williams cannot do and his impact on the NFL will be immediate.

*My top overall player in this class. He is expected by almost everyone to be one of the first two or three picks in the draft. He could fit the NYG scheme like a glove because of his inside-out versatility. He could legitimately play the 4-3 LDE role or the UT role. His length and foot speed make him a tough matchup for any kind of blocker. Combine that with his top tier intangibles and mental awareness on the field, Williams is probably the safest pick of the draft and offers All-Pro upside.

2 – Danny Shelton – Washington – 6’2/339 – 80

Upside Pro Comparison: Vince Wilfork/HOU

Strong Points: Powerful and high energy pocket collapser. Quick thinker that can read the action around him. Very smart and aware. Plays with a low and strong center of gravity. Can anchor his position against double teams. Generates a high amount of power from both his legs and hands. Stifles and controls the blocker with his initial punch. Pursues and hustles from sideline to sideline and all the way downfield. Gets near the action often. Can shed blocks several ways. And pull and jerk, undercut, and spin his way off the blocker. Light on his feet when he needs to be. Tenacious pass rusher with a violent and surprisingly athletic style. Can bull rush his way deep in to the pocket. Carries a lot of weight but moves surprisingly well.

Weak Points: Had several maturity issues early in his career. Weight will need to be monitored, as he carries a lot of loose meat. Initial explosion and quickness off the snap isn’t there. Will over pursue and neglect assignments. Struggles to change direction in short space. His momentum carries him out of the play.

Summary: 1st Team All American. Shelton has improved each and every season of his career both on and off the field. His maturity issues appear to be a thing of the past but those they still need to be investigated. Between the sidelines Shelton is a terror for linemen to block. He has tremendous functional power and strength. He is a high effort player that plays through the whistle with consistency. He outplays what his body type says he can do. He improves as the play goes on because of his rare ability to get off blocks and chase down the action. Shelton can fit in to any scheme and start from day one in the NFL.

*Shelton turned in to the favorite player of many people over the past 8 months. His senior season helped his draft grade as much as anyone in the class with All-American caliber production. I’ve seen a lot of him and I can’t say there is a “special” here, but by no means do I overlook his potential to be a terror for a defense from the inside. He can be a valuable run defender for any kind of scheme, not just the 3-4. He will absorb blockers but there is also a level of effort and ability that gets him involved on a lot of tackles. Pairing him with Hankins would create a sense of inside dominance against the run for NYG. He doesn’t fit the mold of what NYG usually goes for at DT, but I think there is still a good possibility he is their pick at #9 overall. NYG needs more consistent and reliable presence inside and pairing Shelton with Hankins would do exactly that. With a defense that needs more attitude, Shelton could be an immediate game changer.

3 – Carl Davis – Iowa – 6’5/320 – 79

Upside Pro Comparison: Haloti Ngata/DET

Strong Points: Big everywhere with a lot of functional strength. Long and thick frame that moves with plenty of athleticism and balance. Can play with proper leverage, bending easy at the knees with hands high. Can move his body quickly in tight spaces. Absorbs the double teams and anchors his position. Always seems to be in control of the engagement. Neutralizes the blocker and frees himself with a powerful grip and strong base. Swallows up the ball carrier when tackling. Wraps up well. Can fill an open lane while engaged with a blocker. Can diagnose by feeling the pressure from blockers and flow towards the action.

Weak Points: Strictly an in between the tackles player. Won’t make a lot of plays away from the line of scrimmage. Doesn’t explode in to the gaps. Will get too high once engaged, losing out on a lot of his strength. Limited pass rusher. Lacks the moves and hand work to free himself. Will almost always use a bull rush, needs more variety to his pass rush repertoire.

Summary: Two year starter that doesn’t jump off the stat sheet but makes his presence known every play. Huge frame that carries a lot of weight with ease. Consistently gets that push at the point of attack and will demand attention. He can keep the linebackers behind him free of blockers while clogging the inside running lanes. Davis has some sneaky athleticism to his game as well. When the action is near him, he can move his way towards the action and make a play. There is short area quickness and burst that very few players his size possess. He can be an impact player right away in the NFL in any defensive front.

*Davis is an intriguing case and prospect. There have been flashes from his time both at Iowa and the Senior Bowl where he looked like a top 10 player in the draft class. His size and presence was constant. He isn’t a guy that gets pushed back. He looked like a man among boys at times. His role in the Iowa defense was more about reading blockers and staying at home, absorbing space and bodies. Every now and then however, I would see him break out of his stance and carry multiple blockers in the backfield. After seeing him do the same at the Senior Bowl, I left with the impression there is some “special” in this kid. There are rumors of work ethic issues and he did seem to tire easily at Iowa, but I haven’t confirmed anything there. Davis is more than a run defender but very much like Shelton, his worst case scenario is a guy that is plus space eater with the upside of being another Hankins-type, true three down guy. Round 2 value would be very good here.

4 – Eddie Goldman – Florida State – 6’4/336 – 79

Upside Pro Comparison: Dan Williams/OAK

Strong Points: Thick from head to toe. Long arms and a wide frame, hold his weight comfortably. Fires out of his stance with his hands up and ready to go. Easy bender, stays below the pads of the blocker, consistently winning the leverage battle. Strong, heavy hands that are very functional. Aggressive at the point of attack. Shows the strength to anchor his position at the very least. Handles the double teams to keep linebackers clean. Effective bull rusher. Creates a tremendous amount of force to press the pocket. Can get in to a quarterback’s step up space in a blink. Has the quickness to jump out of his stance and in to the backfield. Can carry blockers in to the pocket.

Weak Points: Not as effective when he needs to use skill-based rush moves. He struggles to shed blocks if he doesn’t get the initial advantage off the snap. Lacks speed in pursuit, not a space player. Has lapses in concentration. Won’t read blocks and is often found out of position. Creates big cutback lanes and won’t always stay true to his assignment. Doesn’t always have the leg drive to produce maximum power.

Summary: Junior entry. Gifted athlete that has all of the physical traits that teams want out of a defensive tackle. Size, speed, flexibility, coordination are all there. Goldman often under-produced considering his ability. He has shown glimpses of being a terror to block inside, however. He is very quick off the snap and can bull rush the strongest of pass blockers deep in to the pocket. High potential athlete but still needs a lot of work on some of the finer, mental aspects of the game.

*It took me a few games to get a feel for Goldman and really appreciate the kind of player he is. I’ve known of him for a few years now, as I watched him play in high school here in NJ and I remember thinking NFL while watching him warm up. He is a little bit of a freak. He carries a lot of weight with ease, an athletic 330+ pounds. At FSU he never really broke out in to a playmaking, gap shooting defender but that doesn’t mean he didn’t perform. Goldman might be the best run stuffer in this class when it comes to eating blockers and chewing up space. He is the guy that rarely, if ever, gets pushed back regardless of having one or two blockers assigned to him. One thing that prevents him from a first round grade, however, is a lack of awareness and reading ability. He is late to recognize and won’t get near the action as much as someone like Shelton does. For the role he would play here in NY, Goldman would be a force. He is a better version, but similar player to Linval Joseph. And for those that like “inside info”, I have heard NYG has a high grade on him.

5 – Malcolm Brown – Texas – 6’2/319 – 78

Upside Pro Comparison: Randy Starks/CLE

Strong Points: Stout frame with equal thickness through his upper and lower body. Powerful and quick off the snap. Can explode out of his stance and reach the blocker before he is set up. Easy bender, consistently plays with a low pad level and body control. Incredibly strong hands. Can grip and rip the blocker away. Shows consistent ability to get off blocks and free himself up. Quick reaction. Can move fast within a phone booth and will make a lot of plays behind or at the line of scrimmage. Packs a big punch. Hits hard and can turn speed in to power right away. Accelerates off blocks and has range within the tackle box.

Weak Points: Shows a tendency to get stood up if he doesn’t win off the snap. Can get locked on to and struggles to get off the blockers that have a lot of hand strength. Lacks athleticism the further in to space he gets. Struggles to reach the blockers with his hands. Won’t always get inside position and it will take him longer to free himself. Will compromise his assignment but trying to get around blocks rather than stay in his gap, creating lanes.

Summary: Junior entry. 1st Team All American. Was nominated for some of the most prestigious defensive awards in college football. Is married with two children. Brown is a tough assignment for any blocker. He has the quickness off the snap to get in to the backfield within a blink of time, has the strength to toss blockers to the side, and has the instincts to naturally flow towards the action and always be around the ball. He knows how to finish. If he can stay on top of his technique, Brown has the potential to be one of the best in the league.

*There are some people I respect that have a top 10 overall grade on Brown. I like him, but not that high. There is a nice blend of talent here when looking at his size, movement off the snap, and ability to disengage from blockers. He lacks the standout quality though and too often I see him getting pushed off the ball. He doesn’t exactly anchor against power blockers. He is a gap shooter without top tier explosion ability. I think Brown is going to get over-drafted but that doesn’t mean I think he is a bust waiting to happen. He’ll be a player, just not the immediate star that some are saying. He can improve his game a lot with a simple in consistency of technique and mechanics. The talent is there, just not sure the skills are.

6 – Jordan Phillips – Oklahoma – 6’5/329 – 78

Upside Pro Comparison: Albert Haynesworth/RET

Strong Points: Massive presence. Tall, long, and functionally thick. Quick out of his stance and makes the offensive line react to him. Can get his hands on the blocker and control the engagement. Quickness to either side, moves well laterally. Hard hitter, can forcefully pound a ball carrier in to the ground. Has such a wide reach, can close a hole fast. Gets off blocks with sheer power or quickness. Consistently pulls and jerks offensive linemen out of the way. Elite strength from his base. Can anchor his position against double teams without giving up any ground. High effort player, consistent engine. Can press the pocket, bull rushes his way to the quarterback.

Weak Points: Limited athlete in space. Does not pursue well to the outside. Ball carriers can outrun his angles. Will play high out of his stance, exposing his numbers to the blockers. Lacks an array of refined pass rush moves. Lacks versatility and may not be a three down player. Doesn’t have that explosive element to his game. Back injury ended his 2013 season after 4 games.

Summary: Fourth year sophomore entry. Redshirt in 2011 and a medical redshirt in 2013. Limited experience player, but has the upside of a dominant inside force. Phillips demands the attention of multiple blockers every play. His combination of size, strength, and quickness off the ball consistently creates havoc. He is a space eater inside that is rarely pushed back by the double team. He can shorten a pocket when a blocker is left alone to pass block him. Phillips can be an immediate force inside at the next level as long as his back holds up. May never be a star, but he will be reliable.

*It took me awhile to catch on to Phillips, as I didn’t realize he was draft-eligible until December. There are games where Phillips reminded me of what Albert Haynesworth looked like the year prior to his free agency with Tennessee. There isn’t a blocker in the country that can keep Phillips from pushing the pocket. His combination of size, strength, and speed is too much for a lone man to handle. The problem for Phillips is actually one of his strengths, his height. He isn’t very well conditioned, so when he gets tired he stands straight up and makes it much easier for blockers to prevent from impacting the play. I don’t think there are effort issues here, but I’m just not sure he can be a 3 down guy. As part of a rotation, he is a guy that can be moved around to force an offensive line to shift a certain way, making things more predictable for linebackers. There is a back issue that needs to be looked in to, as I know some scouts have given him a big downgrade because of it. Not a good thing for a guy that already struggles with leverage from time to time. Fully healthy, Phillips can be one of the top players in this class.

7 – Marcus Hardison – Arizona State – 6’3/307 – 77

Upside Pro Comparison: Corey Liuget/SD

Strong Points: Quickness of the snap with a powerful upper body makes him a touch matchup. Exceptional athleticism for a player his size. Can overwhelm blockers with movement on one play and strength on the next. Gets his hands on fast and can shed blockers . Comfortable in space and in traffic. Can break through the pocket several ways from different spots. Can turn the corner with full body control while moving at full speed. Can bull rush and push the pocket.

Weak Points: Really only had one year of productivity at the D-I level. Lacks lower body size and strength. Lacks the ideal body type for play between the tackles. Doesn’t play with a low-enough pad level. Will bend at the waist and rely too much on movement and upper body strength. Won’t generate a pop to the blocker out of his stance.

Summary: Fourth year senior. Spent two years in junior college prior to joining the Sun Devils. Hardison was not an impact player at all in 2013 but broke out in a big way in 2014 with 10 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. He was a tough matchup for tackles, as he was simply to strong, quick, and powerful to consistently block. He had surprising ability to move quickly in a short space for a player over 300 pounds. In the right scheme he can be a very good interior pass rush presence and/or outside run defender. Teams that like to move their defensive linemen around based on matchups will love Hardison. As he continues to strengthen his lower body and improve the consistency of his technique, Hardison could end up being a big time presence.

*If NYG is looking to add an interior pass rush presence, Hardison needs to be given a hard look. He mostly played a DE role for ASU, but his body type and style of play can fit inside within a 4-3 front. He is quick off the ball and plays with heavy hands. Hardison doesn’t get the attention that I think he deserves. Very few defensive tackles in this class can do what he does. Is he an every down guy? Maybe not as a DT but I think you can get enough out of him as a run stuffing LDE and pass rushing DT. If he is there, starting in round 3 which I am sure he will be, he will have my attention.

8 – Michael Bennett – Ohio State – 6’2/293 – 74

Upside Pro Comparison: Sylvester Williams/DEN

Strong Points: Explosive north/south mover that can fire out of his stance and shoot the gaps. Consistently beats blockers to a point. Plays with a low center of gravity, making him a tough target for blockers to lock on to. Quick and powerful hands. Refined rush moves. Has a tenacious, almost wild get off when shooting the gaps as a pass rusher. Has the explosion to close a five yard gap in a blink. Productive and effective within the tackle box. Can react well to the action and flow towards the ball.

Weak Points: Lacks ideal size and length. May need more weight on his frame. Struggles to reach for the blocker and control the engagement with his hands. Struggles to anchor his position as a stay at home defender. Too easily moved by the blocker when he is locked on to. Won’t recover well after being initially beat after the snap. Doesn’t occupy space and multiple blockers at the same, time. Shows a lack of speed and effort once the action is outside the tackles.

Summary: Fourth year senior with almost 30 career starts. Son of parents that both went to West Point and served in the military. Team leader. Bennett is a one-gap penetrator that may be restricted to certain schemes in the NFL. His initial quickness and ability to break the pocket will be sought after by most 4-3 defenses in the league, most notably the Tampa-2 based schemes. He is consistently faster than the blocker, gaining the initial advantage. He lacks the staying power against the run and will need to get stronger before he is an every down player, however. Good role player type that can excel against the pass, always a trait in high demand.

*Another pass rush specialist here, however I am not as high on him as some are. Bennett has the quickness of the snap and he can be a solid gap shooter that makes guys adjust. I think he can fit in to pass rush-only type role but when it comes to every down duty, I think he will be a liability more than an asset. He gets pushed off the ball far too often and unless he gets the initial positional advantage post-snap, he can be rendered ineffective. He is the kind of guy that simply won’t keep the linebackers clean. If he could be had in round 4, I would think it’s good value but I think he ends up going in the first 3 rounds.

9 – Xavier Cooper – Washington State – 6’3/293 – 73

Upside Pro Comparison: Ziggy Hood/JAC

Strong Points: Exceptional athlete for his size. Carries 300 pounds with ease and moves like a player that is much lighter. Can explode out of his stance and get in to the blocker’s body right away. Gets his strong hands on right away and works hard to control the engagement. Can stick his feet to the ground and maintain his position against power blockers. Can feel the flow of the action and get himself in position to make an impact. Smart, quick reactions. Relentless pursuit of the ball carrier. Face up tackler that can deliver a violent impact. Top tier speed in pursuit, will reach the sidelines from his interior spot. Often found downfield, never gives up on a play.

Weak Points: Lacks the ideal bulk for interior defensive line positions. Light in the pants. Will need to enhance his upper and lower body strength. Gets by on hustle and grit, but doesn’t show a lot of pass rush moves. Needs to improve the skill-based aspects of the position. Will play too high and expose his chest to the blockers.

Summary: Junior entry. Three year starter. Cooper played a couple of different defensive line positions for the Cougars. He played in a 3-4 DE role, but also shifted inside in four man fronts and excelled in both roles. He is a long athlete with a lot of open field athleticism. His playing speed is rare for the position. Cooper was an accomplished high school basketball player and it shows when he is in space. At the point of attack, Cooper is a violent and quick defender that has plenty of functional strength to hold his ground and stifle ball carriers. There is a lot teams can do with him, and once he gains some strength and girth, he could be an every down force in any scheme.

*At first glance, after seeing two of his games, I had Cooper as one of the top pass rushing DTs in this class. He is another guy that can play inside/out, showing too much quickness for guards and too much strength for the tackles. He is a high-motor player that has more lower body strength than you would think by looking at him. He showed the ability to anchor his position against power blockers and the way he accelerates off blocks is noteworthy. He is a superb athlete with pads on. My biggest gripe with him is a lack of size. He isn’t thick enough and lacks the necessary to length. As a rotational, day three pick Cooper can be a steal.

10 – David Parry – Stanford – 6’1/308 – 73

Upside Pro Comparison: Barry Cofield/WAS

Strong Points: Stout and powerful at the point of attack. Tremendous use of leverage and lower body strength. Quick and low. Easy knee bender that can move quickly in a short space. Can press defenders off his body and get the separation he needs to make any sort of lateral movement. Turns a corner fast, easy change of direction. Constantly near the action and can tackle with force.

Weak Points: Limited athlete the further in to space he gets. Does not have the height or length that a typical defensive tackle prospect has. Limited skill set as a pass rusher.

Summary: Underrated, overlooked defender that wore a few hats for the Stanford defense. Does the dirty work inside, demanding attention and keeping linebackers clean. Parry can do more than eat space, he is a force between the tackles. He doesn’t stay blocked for long because of his consistent, relentless approach. His low center of gravity packed with power and quickness make him a tough assignment every down.

*There is a part of me that thinks Parry could go undrafted because he lacks tools. I’m keeping my 4th round grade on him though. He is a football player, pain and simple. I watched Stanford early in the year to get a look at some of their other notables, but Parry just kept on jumping off the screen. Talk about a disruptive presence inside, Parry plays the game with a wrestler’s type leverage and won’t be pushed back. He showed some ability to do more than occupy blockers with quickness and a nose for the action. He found the ball carrier often and finished off plays more than your common 3-4 NT. Does he fit in the 4-3? I think he does. There is demand for a presence like this when looking at the NYG interior defenders. He’ll be a favorite of the team’s linebackers and watch him out-produce several players drafted ahead of him.

11 – Gabe Wright – Auburn – 6’3/300 – 73

*I like the frame and movement off the snap. He can be an early contributor with his power presence on the move, but may lack the ability to anchor his position against the run.

12 – Derek Lott – Tennessee-Chattanooga – 6’4/314 – 72

*One of my top small school prospects. Started off at Georgia but struggled to see the field. Went to a lower level of college football and showed flashes of dominance, as he should have. A player with this size and pass rush ability shouldn’t be overlooked. Day 3 value would be nice here, I like the upside.

13 – Grady Jarrett – Clemson – 6’1/304 – 71

*Undersized, yes. But you’ll struggle to find a DT that plays harder than this guy. His lack of size shows up on tape here and there, but you won’t go more than a few plays without seeing him make an impact. Not a fit for every scheme and his role is pretty specific, but he can help a team looking for interior rush.

14 – L.T. Walton – Central Michigan – 6’5/319 – 71

*Another small school guy with an intriguing tool set and developed skills. Walton is more than a run plug, he showed some good movement between the tackles and if the light turns on, you are looking at a starting caliber player that can fit multiple schemes. He’s a guy I think sneaks in to the top 3 rounds.

15 – Darius Philon – Arkansas – 6’1/298 – 71

*Yet another undersized pass rusher from the inside. Philon was really productive and looked unblockable at times. For awhile I questioned if he was a better prospect than the well known Trey Flowers, a DE we will talk about later in the week. The lack of length will hurt him in the NFL but he can carve himself a niche somewhere.

16 – Tyeler Davison – Fresno State – 6’2/316 – 70

*Limited athlete but a dependable run defender. He can anchor his spot with consistent leg drive and leverage. Won’t make plays but he is a guy that fills out a roster and will have a job as a backup run defender.

17 – Leon Orr – Florida – 6’5/323 – 70

*If it weren’t for the confusing off-field issues, Orr could have been a top 10 guy on this list. He left the team after being taken out of the starting lineup, which is odd. His story has been tough to look in to but when I watch him, I see upside. He can really move and he carries 320+ pounds with ease. He just screams NFL defensive tackle and I think he fits the 4-3 really well.

18 – Darius Kilgo – Maryland – 6’2/310 – 69

*Played a 3-4 NT role but he can fit multiple schemes. Made plays in 2014 that most people probably didn’t see because if they did, he would have been at the combine. He is a lot better than several guys that were there. Run defender first, but showed the short area quickness to take advantage of opportunities.

19 – James Castleman – Oklahoma State – 6’2/300 – 67

*Really strong upper body, a guy that just bench presses blockers off him and will locate the ball. Might be undersized for the role he plays but he is tougher than nails. I saw Oklahoma State 4 times and each time I had positive notes on him.

20 – Christian Covington – Rice – 6’2/289 – 67

*Undersized and beat up, but watch his 2013 tape and you cant help but wonder if this guy should be a 1st rounder. Covington has the blend of quickness and power that gives blockers a headache. He had a pretty nasty knee injury last fall though and some teams have crossed him off their board after failed physicals.

TOP UDFA SLEEPER

Angelo Blackson – Auburn – 6’4/318

*Overlooked defender on an underrated SEC defense that has a few defenders getting a lot of attention for next year’s draft. Blackson kept linebackers clean with his disruptive nature off the snap and was rarely pushed back. Dirty work guy that has the frame to add more good weight. He has more mechanics and consistent technique than some of the top guys on this list.

NYG APPROACH

While some may view DT as a lesser need of the roster, it’s a position that really hurt this defense in 2014. Hankins is evolving in to a force but he can’t do it by himself in a 4 man front, there needs to be another presence along side of him that makes the opposing offense gameplan around. This prospect group is an interesting one in that there are a lot of guys that can help the run defense or pass rush, but not both. What does NYG need more? A credible argument can be made for both but finding a guy that can do both is going to be very tough.

I don’t think any of these prospects (outside of Williams at the top) will be worth their #9 overall selection. But once they are on the clock in round 2 and from there on out, NYG needs to be looking at some of these prospects with the thought that one of them can take this unit’s run defense to another level. The pass rush prospects are worth looking at as well, but they are all undersized and counting on them would strike some fear in to me and may not be worth the risk. They may be better off going after an edge rusher and getting creative with pass rush packages, shifting some of their more physical ends inside.