May 102016

New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Review

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

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

2016 Draft Pick Scouting Reports

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

Eli Apple – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Do you envision him starting immediately?

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

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

A: No, he’s a corner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Do you care about his cooking?

A: I don’t care about his cooking.

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

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

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

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


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

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

Q: When did Eli first catch your eye?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A: Really good.

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

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

Q: Was that a factor in picking him?

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Is he similar to DRC in any way?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: You personally met with him multiple times?

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A: I know.

Q: Did you think about that at all?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A: Maybe, it might have been a factor.

Q: He’s not a skinny guy, right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A: Probably not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Q: Is there a little Victor Cruz in him?

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Is he mostly a slot guy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A: Absolutely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: How is he as a blocker?

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Darian Thompson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Q: Did you see Darian Thompson in person?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: How is he in coverage in general?

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

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

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

Q: He was used as a linebacker in college?

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

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

A: Sure.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Q: Darian, congratulations.

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

Q: Are you at home right now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Why’d you think that?

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

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

B.J. Goodson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

A: I think middle of the three.

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

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


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

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

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

A: Yes sir, yes sir.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Can you cover in the pass?

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What does B.J. stand for?

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

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

Paul Perkins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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


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

Q: Where do you stand at running back?

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Was that sort of the norm?

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

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

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

Q: Do you see the skill set similarities?

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Did he tell you anything about the Giants?

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

Q: You FaceTimed him after you got picked here?

A: I did, right afterwards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jerell Adams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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


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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A: I was at home, at my mama’s house.

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

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

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

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

Q: How would you describe yourself as a player?

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

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

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

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

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

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Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Eric’s Take on the 2016 Draft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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May 032016
Paul Perkins, UCLA Bruins (September 12, 2015)

Paul Perkins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Analysis

by Contributor Sy’56

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


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

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

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



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

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

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


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

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

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




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

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

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



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

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

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


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

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

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




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

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

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



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

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

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


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

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

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



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

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

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

NYG Draft Class

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

Sy’56 Draft Class

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

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

Jalen Ramsey – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Safeties

by Contributor Sy’56

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


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


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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Eric Berry/KC

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Devin McCourty/NE

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Malcolm Jenkins/PHI

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Troy Polamalu/RET

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Will Hill/BAL

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: George Iloka/CIN


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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Dwight Lowery/SD

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Reshad Jones/MIA

9 – JEREMY CASH – 6’0/212 – DUKE: 75

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Da’Norris Searcy/TEN

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Tashaun Gipson/JAC

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Corey Graham/BUF


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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Kenny Vaccaro/NO

13 – DEON BUSH – 6’0/199 – MIAMI: 73

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Morgan Burnett/GB


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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Bernard Pollard/UFA


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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: James Ihedigobo/DET

THE REST (16-25)

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


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

Apr 212016
Jerry Reese, New York Giants (February 25, 2016)

Jerry Reese – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese held his annual pre-draft press conference on Thursday. The following is the transcript from the event (video is also available courtesy of

Opening Statement: Good morning. It’s draft time again. The scouts are (upstairs) working hard on the draft board. Coach (Ben) McAdoo is in there, Marc Ross, Chris Mara and all of our personnel people. It’s an exciting time for us like always and we’re looking forward to next week to try to help our team in the draft. Before you ask the question, we’re open to moving up, we’re open to moving back, and I’ll take any questions.

Q: Last week John (Mara) said that this draft is more important than others have been. Do you share that philosophy?

A: Not for me. All the drafts are important for me. I understand why John would say something like that, but all of the drafts are very important to me and I think all of the drafts are important to John as well. I think when you say something like that, I think it gets taken out of context a little bit, but I understand what he was saying. All of the drafts are important.

Q: You said you were willing to move up and move down. Have you had any offers?

A: I can’t talk about that, but we’re willing to move up or move down.

Q: Do you sense more activity in the draft this year? There already has been three trades in the top 10.

A: Not really. In the draft you never know what’s going to happen. You just try to prepare yourself for everything. There could be a lot of movement. There can be not much more movement. Who knows?

Q: In regards to trades, you’ve traded up more than you’ve traded down since you’ve been General Manager. Is that you’re philosophy?

A: It’s just how it unfolded. The draft changes after every pick. Sometimes you can move up and sometimes you can move back and so it happens we’ve been able to move up a couple of times.

Q: Back at the combine you said you would pick the best available player. Have you stuck to that philosophy?

A: Best player available.

Q: Two of your last three first round picks have been used on offensive linemen. Do you take that into consideration at all of how much of your resources you can put in a short period of time into one specific position group?

A: No. We’re just trying to put the guys up there in the best order that we can and pick the best player available when we pick.

Q: What is your philosophy when you look at rounds three, four and five?

A: It’s the same thing. We put guys in the first row. We put guys in the second row and the third row. When it’s our time to pick, we try to pick the best player in the row. Sometimes we can get two players out of the first row. We like it when we can get two players who we’ve got in the first row. We like it like that. In the first row, all of those guys are not really first round picks because we call them rows.

Q: How much of a difference has it been working with Ben and his staff versus former head coach Tom Coughlin’s staff?

A: Our coaches have always been a part of the process since I’ve been with the New York Giants for 21 years and nothing has changed in respect to that.

Q: After the season you and John Mara said you would study what went right and wrong in past drafts. How extensive was that self-analysis?

A: We looked at a lot of things. I’m not going to sit here and divulge what we talked about and what we discovered and what we looked at, but we worked hard on some things. I know this. I know our scouts work their behinds off. They do all of the work. They’re on the road for almost 200 days out of the year. They do the legwork for us and they do a tremendous job for us.

Q: Did you find anything interesting or things you can tweak moving forward?

A: There’s always things that you find interesting when you do some research and there were some interesting things that we found.

Q: How much does your team’s recent history with injuries affect the way that you evaluate the draft process?

A: I think we’ve had some bad luck with injuries. We had a medical meeting last night and we talked about the guys that are injury risks. We try to minimize our risks, but it’s football. It’s grown men hitting each other with helmets. Guys get injured. It’s a part of the business.

Q: There are some guys in the draft who have had injuries and missed a significant portion of the year. What kind of factors go into assessing that type of player?

A: We listen to our doctors. If our doctors say the risk is too high or reject guys, we don’t take them.

Q: You wouldn’t just drop guys in the round?

A: If the injury is so significant… It’s like school. F is bad and A is good. Anything in between… If it’s a C, there’s some risk. If there’s a D, there is a lot of risk, and if it’s an F, we’re not going to take them. It’s hard for us to take a D. We rarely take a D.

Q: Does it matter where you’re picking? Is it more likely you would take a risk if you were picking at the bottom of the first round?

A: You’re not going to take a risk on your first round pick if your guy is a D. You’re not going to take a risk like that with your first round pick. If you’re in the sixth round and you’ve got an extra pick or if you’re in the seventh round and have an extra pick, you can take more risks in the later rounds because the value is not the same.

Q: What was your impression of the trades that the Rams and Eagles made?

A: What other teams do is not really my business. I’m just worried about the Giants. If they felt like they needed to do that, they did what they had to do. That’s their business.

Q: Does that change your projections of who might be available to you?

A: We always thought that there were a couple of players up top that would push some players down to us and give us more players to pick from.

Q: If you stay at your current position in the draft, will you get a player who can instantly start and can be a contributor?

A: We sure hope so. If you pick inside the first 10, 12 picks, you’d like to get a starter who you can put out there to start to play right away and we sure hope we can get one. We believe we can.

Q: Aside from punters and placekickers, is there any player who you wouldn’t take with the 10th pick because of his position?

A: No.

Q: That includes the quarterback?

A: That includes any position, except punter and kicker.

Q: Do John Mara’s comments put any sense of urgency on this draft?

A: No. I put the urgency on myself. I know I come to work everyday and I work my behind off and that hasn’t changed since day one. I see how hard our personnel people work. The pressure is always there. Nobody puts more pressure on me than me.

Q: Do you take the criticisms of recent drafts personally?

A: You guys have your own opinion on the draft and you get paid to do that. It’s okay with me.

Q: What’s your opinion on recent drafts?

A: We work hard every time we draft and my opinions are my opinions and your opinions are your opinions. I’m not going to get into that.

Q: You have a lot more information at your disposal than we do. So your opinion on how you drafted is probably going to be much more valid than ours.

A: That’s your opinion.

Q: Ben McAdoo has been with the franchise for a couple of years now and has been involved with the draft. Now that he’s the head coach, what would you say is the biggest difference in terms of his involvement in previous drafts and this one?

A: He was the coordinator last year. In this draft, he’s in on all of the meetings. He’s in the defensive players, offensive players and the special teams. He’s in all of the meetings. Last year, he was just in the offensive player meetings. So that in and of itself is different.

Q: Some people have said there is a drop in talent after the 10th pick. Do you agree with that?

A: I think there are good players in all seven rounds.

Q: With what you were able to do in the beginning of free agency, does it become more challenging to not look at the draft and free agency as separate entities as far as building the roster or is it still possible to say it this serves one purpose and the draft serves as another?

A: We’re not oblivious to what we did in free agency, but the draft stands alone. We’re just trying to pick the best players out of this draft when we’re picking.

Q: How important is football character and personal character when you’re looking for guys who can come in and be sound draft picks, but also contribute to a winning and healthy culture?

A: That’s a part of building a football team. You want to get guys who are good team players and who want to be good locker room guys. Not a lot of “me” guys. A bunch of team-oriented players that are big, tough and smart guys who want to play together as a team. You win as a team and if you don’t play as a team, it’s hard to win in this league.

Q: Do you think you have a starting caliber right tackle who you’d be very comfortable with on your roster right now?

A: Sometimes the answer is on your roster. We do have some guys that we like. We’ll see moving forward.

Q: Do you view Bobby Hart as a guard or tackle?

A: I think Bobby has the ability to play guard and tackle.

Q: Are there any players in this draft who are off your board for non-football reasons?

A: Not right now. We’re still in the process and I’m sure there will be some guys that we take off.

Q: You used three high picks on that offensive line the last three years. Is that a position where you will target in this year’s draft?

A: We’re just trying to get good players every time we pick.

Q: Is your objective to leave the draft with players at a certain position?

A: No. We’re looking at it that we need help on offense. We need help on defense. We need help on special teams and we’re trying to get good players in every aspect of those positions. Offense, Defense and Special Teams.

Q: The top two quarterbacks in the draft seem like they’re going to go one and two in the draft. If you’re not looking at a quarterback, does it make it better for you?

A: If two quarterbacks get picked in front of us, that pushes some players down to us. That gives us a better chance to get the player that Kim (Jones) talked about, a player that can come in and impact our team.

Q: Eli Manning is getting up in age. Are you close to the point where you need to start thinking about drafting his replacement?

A: We think Eli has plenty of years left, but we’re always conscious of if there is a player in this draft or previous drafts or a draft coming up that there is a quarterback available because you always want to try to have a quarterback in line ready to go as your quarterback gets older and is on the backside of his career. You’re always conscious of that.

Q: How do you assess your running backs?

A: We think all of those guys are good enough to play in the league. All of these guys are pros. I think we have five guys that can play in this league.

Q: Josh Norman is a free agent. Is there any interest there?

A: We investigate everything.

Q: How surprised were you to see he became a free agent?

A: Nothing surprises me in this business.

Q: Are you basically finished with free agent signings?

A: There are still some free agents out there. Free agency really never stops. It’s the way we’re wired. Everyday there are guys on the waiver wire, but there’s a few more veterans out there that are still waiting around and we’re still taking a look at that we can do something.

Q: Will money play a factor?

A: Money always plays a factor.

Q: We haven’t had a chance to talk to you since free agency started. What was it about those three guys that made you go out and get them?

A: Those guys were really good players. We had them high on our free agent board. We had some money this time. We felt like we had a chance to go out and get some guys with the caliber of the players that we got. We went for them and we were fortunate enough to get some of the guys that we targeted.

Q: How important was it to you to bring back Jason Pierre-Paul for another season?

A: Jason is a terrific football player and we’re hoping that the procedure that he had on his hand after the season will continue to feel better for him and he will be able to play with that hand in the condition that it is and we expect him to do that. I said at the (combine) that it was kind of a miracle for me that he played last year. He’ll be that much better now, we think.

Q: Do you think you have a starting free safety on your roster right now with all of those young guys you brought in recently?

A: We have some guys. We’ll see. In every position somebody has got to be developed and at some point we hope that one of those young safeties can step up. There are a few more guys out there in free agency that we’ll take a look at, but we’re hoping that some of those young guys can step up and play a role here.

Q: Where do you stand at linebacker?

A: We’re still going to upgrade every position. Linebacker, safety, corner, defensive line, offensive line, tight end, receiver, running back and quarterback. All of them. If I left out something, those guys, too.

Q: How is Victor Cruz doing?

A: So far so good. He’s been out there. I’ve been peeking out the window and watching him run outside. We had our medical meetings last night and all of our doctors are pleased with his progress so far and we’re hoping that he’ll be the Victor that we know.

Q: What’s the plan with Victor Cruz moving into the summer?

A: We’re going to take it easy with him and make sure that he’s ramped up a little bit at a time and when training camp comes around, we’re hoping that he’s a full go. We’re expecting him to be full go.

Q: Last year at this time you weren’t counting on Cruz. Is that different this time?

A: He hasn’t played in two years. But he’s probably more healthy now than he’s probably been in the last couple of years. What we get from Victor will be a bonus and we’re hoping it’s a great bonus for us.

Q: How much does age play a factor for you guys in the draft?

A: We’re conscious of players’ ages, but how many players have played over four, five, six years? Age is not a huge factor. We don’t want to draft a 30-year-old in this draft, but I don’t think there are any 30-year-olds in this draft. We do look at what the age is.

Q: In spite of all you did in free agency, how much do you need the guys from the last couple of drafts to step up and become what you expected them to be?

A: We always expect those guys. You’ve got to develop players. In the last few drafts that we’ve had, we expect players to step up and continue to develop and be a core part of our football team.

Transcripts and video of Thursday’s media sessions with the following New Giants players are available in The Corner Forum and at

The video of an exclusive interview with New York Giants place kicker Josh Brown is available at


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

Vernon Hargreaves – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Cornerbacks

by Contributor Sy’56

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


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


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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Joe Haden/CLE

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Vontae Davis/IND

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Janoris Jenkins/NYG


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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie/NYG

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Brandon Flowers/SD

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Charles Tillman/CAR


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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Dre Kirkpatrick/CIN


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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: William Gay/PIT

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Jeremy Lane/SEA

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Antonio Cromartie/UFA

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Brent Grimes/TB

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Keenan Lewis/NO

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Perrish Cox/TEN

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Kyle Arrington/BAL

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

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

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

Upside Pro Comparison: Dontae Jonson/SF

THE REST (16-25)

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


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

Apr 172016
Leonard Floyd, Georgia Bulldogs (October 31, 2015)

Leonard Floyd – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Linebackers

by Contributor Sy’56

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


I sound like a broken record every year with this group. The Jerry Reese regime has been trying to piece this group together with veterans that most other teams don’t want and mid to late round draft picks that have not worked out. Devon Kennard came in to the league with major injury concerns and despite showing flashes of being a plus-starter, he is coming off a 9 game season shortened by a variety of lower body injuries. The newly signed Keenan Robinson will take over the MIKE role. He’s been up and down over his 4 year career and didn’t receive much interest from the league as an UFA. Jasper Brinkley played well in the little we saw him last year but it likely best suited for a 4th LB role that can backup multiple spots and play special teams. JT Thomas was a non factor in 2015 on the weak side and Jonathan Casillas was what he’s always been, an average backup. Uani Unga will have to fight hard to make this team in 2016 and Mark Herzlich’s clock is likely ticking as well now that Tom Coughlin is gone. At the end of the day, this team’s LB group continues to be below average and it shows up on tape almost weekly.


1 – MYLES JACK – 6’1/245 – UCLA: 92

Junior entry. Ideal weak side linebacker prospect but also saw a lot of time at running back for the Bruins, mainly as a short yard specialist. Jack is a rare prospect. He is arguably the best athlete pound for pound in this entire draft class and also shows a skill set that can do countless positive things for a defense. He plays with a level of awareness, violence, and speed that does not come around often. Jack’s injury will need to be looked in to, but all signs point to him being ready for the start of 2016 Training Camp. Elite prospect that will be a playmaker right away in the NFL.

*I’ve been vocal about Jack being my desire for NYG at #10 overall. He finishes with the top grade in this draft class overall. The 4-3 LB “not being a premium position” is a very weak argument. What Jack could do from the WILL position and what the NYG defense has been struggling with for years are a perfect match. Jack can cover WRs, let alone TEs and RBs. He is more violent against blockers than defensive linemen. He has easy sideline to sideline range. He doesn’t miss tackles. Jack can be a special player that a creative defensive coordinator can do big things with. The medicals are part of the equation here and with the limited information I have, it appears he’ll be back to 100%. I would trade a 1 and a 2 for Jack. I think he will be an All Pro.

Upside Pro Comparison: Patrick Willis/RET

2 – LEONARD FLOYD – 6’6/244 – GEORGIA: 81

Fourth year junior entry. Has elite pass rushing potential because of his burst, length, and flexibility off the edge. Floyd can consistently win off the snap and always cause the blocker to adjust to him. From his early days at Georgia all the way through the end of his fourth year, Floyd has been causing disruption in the pocket. He is a guy that opposing offenses always need to find pre-snap. Even though Floyd needs time in the weight room and isn’t overly effective against the run, his specialty is special enough to warrant a high draft pick.

*The tools here are obvious. You can make the argument that Floyd has a rare combination of skills and tools. I don’t think he is simply an edge rusher at all. As a matter off fact I think he would be best off in a 4-3 SAM role. This can flip his hips and cover with the best TEs in the game right now. For teams looking for a LB that can match up with the big, athletic pass catchers, Floyd can be there man. Throw in what he is capable of doing off the edge as a blitzer and you can understand why a lot of teams have top 15 grades on him. Floyd has been getting a TON of attention over the past few months. He wasn’t exactly a stand out producer in college but the potential here is through the roof if he can bulk up a bit and increase his power presence. I still think Floyd will be the NYG pick at #10 overall. They’ve tried filling the hybrid LB/DE role multiple times over the years and it hasn’t worked yet. Floyd has more talent than all of them.

Upside Pro Comparison: Anthony Barr/MIN

3 – BJ GOODSON – 6’1/242 – CLEMSON: 79

Fifth year senior. Was a backup and special teamer for 2-plus years, with only one and half season of starting experience. Goodson is an interior enforcer that can play equally tough against blockers and ball carriers. His stoutness and short area power make him a tough assignment for any blocker and his ability to finish plays can be an asset to a defense looking for run defending help. Goodson lacks the ideal athleticism for every down duty, but he has shown to be at least competent in zone coverage and has enough range to play at least two downs in the NFL.

*I saw a ton of Goodson in 2015 and #44 kept popping on to the screen. There were so many players on that defense that I was scouting and time after time Goodson was right in the middle of the action. After further review I almost had him as a 1st rounder. Goodson is thick but fast and quick-twitched. He has all the power you want and maintains it on the move. Goodson moves well enough in coverage to possibly stay on the field for three downs. He is smart and reliable, rarely misses tackles. I don’t see superstar here and he can get overwhelmed in traffic, but Goodson is a guy that simply brings it play after play, week after week. I think he can be a 100+ tackle guy year in, year out.

Upside Pro Comparison: Preston Brown/BUF

4 – REGGIE RAGLAND – 6’1/247 – ALABAMA: 78

Fourth year senior and All American as well as SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Developed frame that carries a lot of weight with ease. Thumper inside with the power presence to own multiple gaps. Meets blockers with force and shows the ability to shed and tackle. Smart, instinctive leader of the defense. Directs traffic. Good movement post-snap that can anticipate and get a head start to where the blocker wants to meet him. Strong finisher. Tight hipped. Lacks the speed to finish plays near the sideline. Shows a lack of reaction and speed in coverage. Might not be a three down guy.

*On the surface Ragland is a guy that seems to be the ideal fit for NYG’s defensive needs. He is an elite run defender and carries the intangibles you want in the middle of your defense. I think you know that, at least, Ragland is going to be a top tier 1st and 2nd round defender in the NFL like David Harris. His issues revolve around quick twitch movement in coverage. His lack of agility and top end speed can be exploited over the middle and its possible he will be taken off the field on passing downs. That can’t be taken at #10 overall but he can be in the discussion in the 2nd round if he falls.

Upside Pro Comparison: David Harris/NYJ

5 – DEION JONES – 6’1/222 – LSU: 78

Fourth year senior with limited experience. Was a 2015 Butkus Award Finalist. Quick twitch, rangy defender that make tackles all over the field. Plays with true sideline to sideline range. Reacts to misdirection and counters quickly. Can put himself in position to make plays consistently. High IQ player. Good form tackler that is reliable in space and in traffic. Rarely misses. Effective blitzer with good timing and the ability to make himself small. Started for just one year at LSU. Lacks bulk and doesn’t appear to have the body type for more. Can be washed out of a lane by power blockers.

*Interesting prospect here that someone is going to have to take a chance on. Jones only really played for a year but he excelled and has done really well throughout the entire pre-draft process. I’ve always heard he is a standout among the visits and interviews, coaches really like this guy and how he carries himself. Jones drawback is obvious. He is a little guy that will get lost in traffic, very true. But you have to like the violence he plays with and he repeatedly showed no hesitation when it came to taking on blockers and knocking them upright. Jones can play in this league but he needs to be on the weak side as much as possible. He’ll thrive in space and be average in traffic.

Upside Pro Comparison: Lavonte David/TB

6 – KYLER FACKRELL – 6’5/250 – UTAH STATE: 78

Fourth year senior that missed 2014 with a torn ACL. Married with a child. Excellent combination of size, strength, and speed. Showed the versatility to play on the edge and in space. Easy bender that derives power from his lower body and violence from his hands. Fights off blocks while maintaining his position. Productive all over the field. Instinctive player with good reaction time. Lacks the quick twitch in short areas. Needs to develop more pass rush moves when initially beat. Too reliant on the bull rush.

*I am pretty high on Fackrell compared to what I see out there. He is more than a rush LB. Fackrell saw a ton of snaps out wide matched up against WRs and looked natural out there. He can be a factor in coverage as well as a dominant point of attack run defender. As I discussed with Floyd above, NYG wants a guy that can play LB most downs but add something as an outside rusher. Fackrell can definitely be that guy.

Upside Pro Comparison: KJ Wright/SEA

7 – SU’A CRAVENS – 6’1/226 – USC: 77

Junior entry. Came to USC ad as a top tier safety recruit and slowly but surely migrated his way to linebacker. Cravens is at his best when he can be thrown in space near the line of scrimmage with the duty of chasing after the ball. He excels at tracking guys down from behind and more importantly, finishing them off. Cravens is a violent tackler that has all the ability in space. His versatility makes him a guy that can stay on the field no matter the situation. While his ability in space is notable, perhaps his greatest skill is blitzing the edge and finding his way to the ball behind the line of scrimmage. His 32 tackles for loss over the past two years prove that. Cravens can be a star at the next level, but will be very dependent on scheme and role.

*Cravens won’t be a fit for every scheme. Some teams see him as a safety and others will look at him as a LB. You need to be very careful with guys like this. He is similar to Deone Buchanon from ARI, a standout defender for that team. But I’ll tell you this; Bucahnon would not be nearly as good on some other teams. They created a role for him and even change their scheme up a bit to fit him in. You are gonna have to do that with Cravens to maximize his potential. Cravens can be a star defender in this league that can be a force in a variety of ways depending on the situation. He could be a 1st rounder if a team can create a plan for him.

Upside Pro Comparison: Deone Buchanon/ARI

8 – DERRON LEE – 6’1/232 – OHIO STATE: 77

Junior entry. Only two years of experience. Lee has elite closing speed and ability to move in space. He has defensive back-type movement, making him a weapon in a league where spread attacks are becoming more and more common. His game is limited to a weak side role where he can roam in space and stays away from traffic. His weaknesses are exposed the closer to the line he gets, as he struggles to get off blocks and lacks staying power against them. Lee can be a dynamic playmaker in a scheme that uses a linebacker far out in space, but won’t be a fit for everyone.

*Another speedy but undersized LB here. Lee is a top 15 player according to some but I never saw it. His standout combine performance didn’t change that. Lee has range and he can tackle well on the move. He is very good ad adjusting his body weight and making the tough tackles in space. NYG could use a guy like that for sure. I just think his physical-ness is limited. He lacks presence when tackling and won’t get off NFL blockers. And for a guy that is so athletic, I never saw top tier coverage ability. With Lee you are drafting an athlete and hoping.

Upside Pro Comparison: Malcolm Smith/OAK

9 – JAYLON SMITH – 6’2/223 – NOTRE DAME: 77

Junior entry. Elite level prospect with top tier talent and intangibles. Smith has played the 3-4 rush linebacker role and a traditional 4-3 outside linebacker role. Smith has been the top player on that defense for two seasons. His ability to bang heads with blockers at the point of attack but also pose as a major threat in space makes him a fit for every scheme in the NFL. His ability is off the charts. The most important question surrounding him will be the long term prognosis of a severe knee injury he suffered in Notre Dame’s 2015 season bowl game. If his medicals can pass, he still may have to sit out the 2016 season. However if he can fully recover, we are talking about a future Pro Bowler.

*The debate about Smith and his knee is everywhere. You can’t talk about this kid without mentioning the knee, which is so unfortunate. Smith would have been in the running for a top 5 overall pick if he was healthy. I’ve confirmed it’s likely he will have to sit out 2016 but there is a better than 50% chance he reaches a full recovery. Now that is where the gamble resides. You wont get anything out of him this season and then you are only hoping for the best. At what point do you take the chance on him? My guess is he will be a 2nd round pick somewhere, possibly to a team that has an abundance of selections to work with like Tennessee.

Upside Pro Comparison: Clay Matthews/GB

10 – NICK VIGIL – 6’2/239 – UTAH STATE: 76

Fourth year junior entry. His brother Zach is a LB for the Dolphins. Two time 1st team all Mountain West defender and was sixth in the nation with 144 tackles. Vigil plays a versatile role within the defense from the inside. He can blitz, cover, defend the inside run, and reach the sidelines in pursuit. He is a complete package, every down defender. He is coming from a slightly lower level of college football but he produced at a very high level two straight seasons and scored well athletically. He has the upside of an athletic 4-3 MIKE that can start for a long time.

*Vigil actually reminds me of Myles Jack. He is not nearly on the same level overall but he is the kind of guy that can wear a lot of hats for a defense. He is violent and fast. Always has a good step and was even used on offense as a power running back. Vigil may need time to adjust to the speed and strength of NFL blockers but he has the look of a guy that will finagle his way in to a starting role at some point and excel.

Upside Pro Comparison: Demario Davis/NYJ

11 – JOSH PERRY – 6’4/254 – OHIO STATE: 76

Fourth year senior and three year starter on the strong side and in the middle. Second on the team in tackles in 2014 and 2015. Top tier intangibles off the field. Big, physical defender that excels between the tackles and did a lot of dirty work for the OSU defense that goes unnoticed by the common fan. Very good at filling lanes and at least anchoring his position against blockers. Has more straight line speed than agility, but can still reach the sidelines fast enough. His tight hips and heavy feet may make it hard for him to factor in coverage. Perry’s ideal role is a 4-3 SAM or 3-4 ILB at the next level.

*I think NYG will have a high enough grade on Perry to consider him in round 2 if they wanted to go in that direction. He has the triangle numbers they love and if they really liked Keenan Robinson enough to sign him, they could see a younger, healthier version of him in Perry to put on the depth chart. Perry is a solid guy to have on your defense but I think he is limited athletically. He lacks the quick twitch I would want from a guy in the middle but I think he can be a good point of attack defender. He is really good at taking blocks on and maintaining his position. That’s important for run defense.

Upside Pro Comparison: Brandon Marshall/DEN

12 – JORDAN JENKINS – 6’3/259 – GEORGIA: 75

Fourth year senior and two year starter. Struggled to replace former star outside linebacker Jarvis Jones early in his career but evolved in to a reliable, solid edge defender. At his best when defending the run, using his powerful frame to hold his position and strong hands to shed blockers upon diagnosing the action. Jenkins fits best in the 3-4 defense as an outside linebacker. He will be limited as a pass rusher but his aggressive nature and violent style can be used in specific but important roles.

*I questioned Jenkins’ fit in to the 4-3 scheme. He isn’t a guy you want in space covering anyone. He can’t do it. But he was one of my favorite run defenders to watch all year. He is a country-strong guy with easy thickness and power. Really stout at the point of attack and can dominate across the line. Really explosive in short spaces and I think he has some untapped pass rush upside. I really didn’t like how Georgia used him all the time. I have to grade him down here because I think he is limited at the moment, but I am intrigued by his upside.

Upside Pro Comparison: Manny Lawson/BUF

13 – TYLER MATAKEVICH – 6’0/238 – TEMPLE: 75

4 year starter that is the heart and soul of the Temple team, not just the defense. Appears to be a thumper between the tackles but he has enough range in coverage to stay on the field. He is a very solid but unspectacular MIKE prospect. I don’t think he is the gamechanger that some will say he is, but he can be a starter. I think he is slow to the sidelines and he gets caught up with blockers too often and those are really important attributes for me when grading LBs. He does show natural flow to the action and his game doesn’t require top tier athletic ability. In the right system he can be a 100+ tackle per season guy easily. You won’t find many, if any, defenders in this class with the career production he has.

*Usually I like guys with this level of on field IQ and instints. And not to say that I don’t like him, but I don’t see gamechanger in him. I think his lack of speed outside of a 3-4 yard window gets exposed too often. It shows up on every tape and it showed up at the Senior Bowl. I’d be curious to see him sit for a year and try to up his movement and strength for a year. If he can get just a little faster and stronger, I think he can be a good MLB.

Upside Pro Comparison: Dannell Ellerbe/NO


Fifth year senior and three year starter. Led the nation in tackles in 2015. Made a few All American teams in 2015 as well as being names 1st Team All SEC. Crafty, instinctive LB that can sort his way through the garbage to locate the football consistently. Brothers may have the best first step among the LBs in this class and he shows really good change of direction. He lacks the power presence to take on blockers head on and won’t deliver the violent tackles, however. He is a reliable, yet unspectacular LB that can easily fill the valuable 4th LB spot right away with the potential to start someday.

*Brothers will be a favorite among many people and rightfully so. He was a tackling machine over the past two years in the SEC and I think anyone would agree this is a guy that will constantly be around the ball when he’s on the field. You want as many of these guys on your defense as you can find. Personally I think he is a liability in coverage although some would argue against that. He just doesn’t move as well moving back and I think there is a significant lack of athleticism against the pass that doesn’t show up when he defends the run. He is good, but there are a few of these guys available every year.

Upside Pro Comparison: Demeco Ryans/UFA

15 – De’Vondre Campbell – 6’4/235 – MINNESOTA: 75

Fourth year senior that started off at Junior College. Started for 2+ years at Minnesota and things started to click for him in 2015. Has the combination of size and speed to go along with an unfinished frame that will excite scouts and coaches. Campbell is a high energy player that will at the very least excel on special teams. His straight line speed and explosion can make you think he has a outside pass rush ceiling that hasn’t been tapped in to just yet. He’ll likely get drafted much higher than people think based on the upside that a lot of prospects simply don’t have.

*Campbell is hard to not like. He plays hard. He’s big with the room for more weight easily. He runs. He changes direction. He hits hard. He didn’t show a lot of easy decision making though and he was often a step behind mentally. That may take some time but if he can improve the on field IQ, we are talking about a potential game changer. Reese is going to like the tools here and we’ve seen him go after guys like this before.

Upside Pro Comparison: Akeem Ayers/LA

THE REST (16-25)

16 – JOE SCHOBERT – 6’1/244 – WISCONSIN: 74
17 – KAMALEI CORREA – 6’3/243 – BOISE STATE: 74
18 – CASSANOVA MCKINZY – 6’1/248 – AUBURN: 72
19 – TRAVIS FEENEY – 6’4/230 – WASHINGTON: 72
21 – YANNICK NGAKOUE – 6’2/252 – MARYLAND: 70
22 – DEON KING – 6’1/230 – NORFOLK STATE: 70
23 – BLAKE MARTINEZ – 6’2/237 – STANFORD: 70
25 – ANTONIO MORRISON – 6’1/233 – FLORIDA: 68


Yes, I am still under the school of thought that LBs, even in the 4-3, can be a huge source of production for the defense. A source NYG has not been able to consistently pull from for years. Myles Jack will finish this whole process as my #1 overall player and target for NYG. I don’t expect him to be there and I won’t have any other LB in the discussion at #10 for me personally, although I think NYG will go hard after Floyd. The thing about this class is that I think it’s the deepest group of LBs I have ever seen when it comes to the day two prospects. Guys that are on the unspectacular side but either offer big time upside or a high floor. NYG has gotten in trouble with those kinds of players in the past but I simply think they went after the wrong guys. I am content if NYG wants to wait until round 3 or 4, as I think there will be a good group to choose from at the points respectively.

Apr 132016
Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (October 30, 2015)

Vernon Butler – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Tackles

by Contributor Sy’56

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


NYG found at real fast how thin they were at DT last year when Johnathan Hankins went down with a with a pectoral injury in early November. They finished 24th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game and it wasn’t only because teams ran on them a lot carry-wise. They were also last in the league against the pass. This group has really struggled to both hold the point of attack and rush the passer. Cullen Jenkins registered 3 sacks but he was a hybrid and won’t be back. Markus Kuhn recorded 0.5 sack and has since signed with NE. Nikita Whitlock had 1 sack and will be on the roster bubble if he doesn’t make it as the team’s fullback. All that means it is possible none of the returning DTs registered a single sack combined in 2015. The signing of Damon Harrison is a huge help, but that is just a start. Once again, this group is one injury away from contending with the league’s worst interior defensive linemen group.


1 – DEFOREST BUCKNER – 6’7/291 – OREGON: 87

Fourth year senior and three year starter. 2015 Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year. First Team All American. Elite frame with functional strength and movement. Very bendy for a player his size. Plays a low pad level game with active hands and quick feet. Versatile threat that can pose as a matchup problem across the line. Developed skill set after he engages with the blocker. Shows range as he attacks the action across the line. Lacks the power from his legs to consistently hold ground against double teams. Can be beat by straight ahead power blockers.

*A few months ago I said if there was any shot to get this kid on NYG’s roster they had to take it (unless Jack or Ramsey was there too). After the grading process was completed, I can say I still feel the same way. I think Buckner is a game changer for any defense he plays for. He is a nightmare for opposing offensive lines to try and match up. He has the traits and skills to be a dominant interior pass rusher but also proved for three years in a row that he can be big time presence against the run. We are talking about a rare tool set here. He may not be the best assignment-based defender and the scheme up front may need to be tweaked a little, but this is potentially a rare prospect.

Upside Pro Comparison: Calais Campbell/ARI


Fourth year senior. All Conference USA performer in 2015. Butler has all the ability to go with a tenacious style of play to be a dominating force in the NFL. He has easy and natural size and power with surprising ability to move. Butler can pursue hard laterally and make plays away from the line of scrimmage, but also will control the inside gaps with his overwhelming power presence. Butler can get consistent movement on interior blockers and he knows how to finish. His upside is as high as any defensive tackle in this class. He fits in to multiple schemes as a starter right away.

*I have Butler higher than anyone I see out there and I am fine with that. I’ve seen this kid so much and I can’t deter myself from considering him an immediate starter and every down threat. At the Senior Bowl people were in awe when seeing hiw easy it was for him to pursue to the sideline at his size. And that isn’t even his greatest strength. Butler can overwhelm a blocker at the point of attack, he doesn’t get pushed back, and he has NFL-caliber technique when it comes to getting off linemen. His crafty and talented, always hustling. Butler is a much better pass rusher than you probably think too. If NYG could somehow get him in round 2… about value. NYG fans, I think this kid’s FLOOR is Linval Joseph.

Upside Pro Comparison: Marcell Dareus/BUF

3 – JARRAN REED – 6’3/307 – ALABAMA: 82

Fourth year senior that spent two years at Alabama after two seasons in Junior College. Led the Alabama defensive line in tackles in both of his seasons with the Crimson Tide. Reed is a violent run defender that consistently wins off the snap with is strong upper body and flexible lower half. He is a gritty, blue collar type that may lack standout physical attributes but can make an impact in the right role. Reed is a fit for any kind of scheme because of his versatile skill set. He is very well developed player from both a physical and mechanical perspective. His attributes are NFL ready right now.

*Another day one starter here that can factor on every down. Reed is really big and really active. He isn’t guy that will just stay home and eat up space. If he is single teamed he will get free and pursue hard. Reed stole the show at the Senior Bowl, as some told me he was the best OL/DL there by a good margin. I think he is one of the safest prospects in the draft. He may not offer top tier pass rush but he is serviceable enough there for sure.

Upside Pro Comparison: Star Lotulelei/CAR


Fourth year senior. Broke out in his first year as a starter in 2014 with 8 sacks and 13.5 TFL. Added another 6 sacks and 12 TFL in 2015. Compact, hard to touch bull that can consistently win off the snap with his first step and ability to change his path right at the last second. Crafty and advanced hand work. Very far along technique wise. Smart player that will diagnose right away and alter his body position in a way that makes it almost impossible for a blocker to lock on. Quickness, power, and functional strength. Smaller than most prospects at the position with a maxed out frame. Won’t hold ground against double teams. May not be an every down threat.

*Because of the emergence of Aaron Donald, Rankins has become a favorite for a lot of people. Nobody liked Donald as much as I did in 2014 and Rankins does have some similarities, but I don’t think he is quite on that level. Rankins is tough to touch, let alone block. But he didn’t live in the backfield like Donald did in college. But enough with the negatives, I really think Rankins can be a good player. He shows such quick feet and easy change of direction and combining that with the low center of gravity makes him a nightmare for big, tired blockers. He may not be the every down threat but at the very least I think he can be a very good pass rush presence.

Upside Pro Comparison: Mike Daniels/GB

5 – KENNY CLARK – 6’3/314 – UCLA: 81

Junior entry. First Team all Pac 12. Very productive and active interior defender that shows the ability to beat blockers in a variety of ways. Clark shows an elite combination of power and quickness. He has some freakish type traits and shows the potential to be an all around playmaker. His ability to bend, punch, shed and finish is sought after by every scheme in the league. He can fit in multiple roles. Clark showed inconsistencies and may have had a conditioning issue. He did not always play to his talent level, so there may need to be some additional background checking here. At his best, Clark is a dominant defender. However he showed on several occasions to be a guy that completely disappears. Risky, high ceiling/low floor player.

*If you caught Clark on the right week, you would have walked away with the notion that he was the top DT in the class. He shows those kind of flashes. He can be very stout and powerful with a first step quick enough to blow by blockers before that look up. He might be the best bull rusher in the class. There is some well developed technique and awareness here as well. Clark really is a complete package player but you just wish he was a little more consistent. I’d take a chance on him for sure.

Upside Pro Comparison: Ahtyba Rubin/SEA

6 – JONATHAN BULLARD – 6’4/285 – FLORIDA: 80

Fourth year senior that came to Florida with big expectations. Has been back and forth between defensive end and tackle, finoishing his career as a 3rd Team All American and 1st Team all SEC. Has tree trunk legs with long arms, big heavy hands. Does a nice job of anticipating and reacting to the snap, firing out nice and low. Wins the leverage battle consistently. More stout than you think even though that isn’t his game. May be too much of a tweener for some schemes but has the potential to be a matchup nightmare.

*You can call Bullard a DE or DT and I wouldn’t argue against you. I graded him out at both spots and he received very similar grades, which is actually kind of rare. Bullard can be a very good player in the right role but at the same time, he could be a weak link in the wrong one. He isn’t a universal defender. So if you draft this guy you have to have a specific plan for him.

Upside Pro Comparison: Cory Redding/ARI

7 – ANDREW BILLINGS – 6’0/311 – BAYLOR: 78

Junior entry. 2015 Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year. Record setting weightlifter with rare strength and power. There are strong players, then there is Billings. Billings has elite, and more importantly functional, power in the trenches that shows up on a weekly basis. He can be a rock in the middle of any defense. He has shown playmaking ability in addition, as he is not just a stay at home space eater. Billings has an interesting tool set and uses his natural leverage advantage as an extra weapon. His low center of gravity and quick strength can give him a constant initial advantage at the point of attack. He can fit in to any scheme because of his versatility and rare combination of tools and skills.

*If I am a 3-4 team looking for a fresh NT, Billings may be a top 25 overall player on my board. Within the NYG scheme, he can still be a dangerous player but not nearly as effective. At his worst, Billings could be a run stuffer that keeps the LBs clean and running free. At his best, Billings can be a first and second down threat that will make plenty of plays inside the tackle box. I’m not sure I see the pass rush potential though.

Upside Pro Comparison: Steve McClendon/NYJ

8 – ROBERT NKEMDICHE – 6’3/294 – OLE MISS: 78

Junior entry. Two time Second Team All American. Was the number one high school recruit in 2013. Incredibly versatile athlete that rushed and received touchdowns for the Rebels in 2015. Nkemdiche was moved all over the defense because of his rare tool set. He can exploit any kind of blocker’s weaknesses because of his rare combination of power, size, and quickness. Nkemdiche can fit in to any scheme. His pop at the point of attack can control the blocker and his phone-booth athleticism can be hard for an opponent to control. Talent wise Nkemdiche is as good as it gets. He was suspended at the end of his 2015 season for marijuana possession and has some other off-field concerns that need extra investigating. He has elite talent but the questions off the field are something to note.

*There may not be a prospect that has been talked about more than Nkemdiche. I still think there is an outside shot this kid pops in to the top 15 overall. If he was completely clean off the field, he’d be in there for sure. His talent is undeniable and when it really turns it on, he can’t be stopped by anyone and I mean it. There is tremendous risk associated with him and that well documented. More than anything, people I know say he is simply “weird”. Like he is just in a different world. I keep hearing this guy is seriously messed up. But drug wise he has been relatively clean. If you want to kill him for pot, then you are gonna have to kill Bosa too. You can’t pick and choose there. From what I do know about this kid, I downgraded him a little (not a crazy amount) because of off field issues but he is still a top 50 player at worst. Again if he is there in round 2, he has to be talked about. Round 3, might as well go for it.

Upside Pro Comparison: Darnell Dockett/UFA

9 – ASHAWN ROBINSON – 6’4/307 – ALABAMA: 76

Junior entry. Consensus All American. An immediate contributor to any scheme, Robinson has shown NFL-ready ability for a couple years now. His size and power will make him a weapon against the run right away. Robinson shows the ability to anchor himself in to the ground against single and double teams alike. He can be a guy does the dirty work to keep linebackers clean and roaming. Besides that, Robinson has always been an inconsistent playmaker. His effort after engagement is very hot and cold. He has a high floor because he will always be a power presence inside, but his upside beyond that is very questionable.

*Robinson receives some extra love and attention because of the program he went to and his “look”, in addition to the fact he was top tier HS recruit. If Bama’ supporters are being honest, they will tell you his career was on the disappointing side. There are tools to be worked with however and he has the physical presence to factor in to a lineup right away. He can eat space and hold his ground. In addition he will occasionally show the ability to make plays far away from the point of attack. At his size it makes you think there is a lot of upside here.

Upside Pro Comparison: Arthur Jones/IND

10 – DJ READER – 6’3/327 – CLEMSON: 76

Fourth year senior that was in and out of the starting lineup until being a full time starter in 2015. Also lettered in baseball for the Tigers. An absolute bully inside with the strength and presence to hold his ground against anyone. Will make a lot of plays within the inside gaps, finishes hard and violent. Will show the ability to bull rush consistently. Good presser with tremendous use of leverage and lower body pop. May be limited when it comes to his versatility and capability of different roles. Lacks the true pass rush skill set and tires easily. First and second down run plug type.

*This kid has some rare ability. Some see him as a late rounder that only fits in to the 3-4 NT role, but he is someone I would take a chance on day 2. He has all the the size and strength you want, nobody can question that. But Reader was a power hitting right fielder for the Tigers that also threw 90+ when on the mound. I think there is some freak in him that goes unnoticed. Reader could be a terror in the league and I think his upside rivals a lot of guys ahead of him on this list.

Upside Pro Comparison: Vince Wilfork/HOU


Junior entry. Came out of high school as one of the top recruits in the nation. Jones never quite showed every down type dominance but he has the potential to be a dominant run defender in the NFL. His natural tools are there and his surprising jump off the snap and easy knee bend make him a very tough guy to move. He is a dirty work type player that will keep linebackers clean and own the inside gaps. Jones showed versatility as well, playing outside in some 3-4 looks. His ability is there. The hope with him will be that he develops the skills and finer aspects of the position in time. High ceiling player.

*Another high ceiling, big framed player that could handle the physical side of the game right away. Jones is a maddening prospect because he has stretches where he looks like a legit top 20 overall guy. Big, physical, athletic. Then he takes a few series’ off and will get pushed back 4-5 yards on straight ahead running plays. Jones isn’t the cleanest guy off the field either. If a team is confident they can keep him on the right track, he’s worth going after on day 2.

Upside Pro Comparison: Desmond Bryant/CLE


Fifth year senior and three year starter. Ended up 1st Team All ACC in 2015. Very low to the ground, well-built fire hydrant with tremendous lower body strength. Quick enough feet to get off his blocks and keep himself free. Strong enough to anchor himself in to the ground against the double team. Has plus athletic ability for the position but will fight an uphill battle in the NFL. Lacks the natural size and girth. Doesn’t explode off the snap and does most of his work after initial engagement. Can be overwhelmed. Not a fit for everyone, needs a specific role.

*I have a very high grade on Wujciak compared to what is out there. He lacks true talent and size, this it will be an uphill fight for him. But when you watch Kyle Williams from BUF, I can see how Wujciak could make it in the league. The more you watch, the more you appreciate what he can do inside the trenches. He is a blue collar guy that can surprise you with his down to down consistency. Limited upside, sure. But I think you can trust a guy like this.

Upside Pro Comparison: Kyle Williams/BUF

13 – MATT IOANNIDIS – 6’3/299 – TEMPLE: 75

Three year starter that was the unquestioned leader of the Temple defensive line. Wore a single digit number, reserved for the toughest guys on the team according to coaches. Ioannidis is a blue collar defender that works best against the run. He lacks the ideal length but his staying power and ability to keep linebackers clean are traits always in demand. He’s a guy that you won’t hear much about but he can contribute as a quality backup. He shows some scheme versatility as well, as 3-4 teams looking for an can like him.

*The question here is does Ioannidis fit in to the 4-3 scheme? It can be questioned. I don’t think this kid’s frame is maxed out at all. He has room for growth. Ioannidis is another guy you have to watch over and over again to truly appreciate what he can do. He is a vey consistent, steady presence inside that will eventually make his way to the ball. He can be an active guy that is best suited for that #3 DT role.

Upside Pro Comparison: Tom Johnson/MIN

14 – MALIEK COLLINS – 6’2/311 – NEBRASKA: 74

Junior entry. Team captain with consistent intangibles and approach. Speed rusher with the ability to wreck havoc at the point of attack. Needs technique work awareness improvement after the snap. Collins has the speed and explosion to cause problems inside but his ineffectiveness against his toughest competition stand out on tape. He needs to learn how to depend on his head as much as he can depend on his legs. Success in the NFL trenches has a lot more to do with speed off the snap.

*A lot of people like this guy as one of the top pass rushers up the middle in the draft. He can definitely get out of his stance well and make the blocker adjust. He has the talent to be a factor on passing downs for sure. He really disappears though and I think he could disappoint you if you are coming in with high expectations. I am comfortable with this kid on the bench while you try to develop his technique as a pass rusher, but I wouldn’t want to bank on him.

Upside Pro Comparison: Nick Fairley/NO


Fourth year senior and three year starter. Made a couple All American teams in 2015. Started off at DE but was moved inside in 2014 which was a smart decision. Has the frame you want to work with and showed flashes of being a dominant inside defender. Very heavy hands and easy flexibility in his lower half. Controls single blockers and can get off his man to make plays within the tackle box. Struggles against the double team though. Needs more consistent technique and awareness. Lacks the NFL-ready mechanics. Has some off field issues that likely hampered his progression.

*Washington has the look of a guy that can really play. If you catch him on the right week he looks like a first rounder. Very strong and powerful. When he gets a clean look at a ball carrier he can obliterate them. Washington isn’t a very good dirty work kind of guy though. He seems uninterested at times when it comes to mechanics and anchoring himself against double teams. He has the upside of a good pass rusher if he can clean his technique up. Washington was also suspended for his last game for being arrested and had a couple of other minor issues with discipline at OSU. Upside is there.

Upside Pro Comparison: Al Woods/TEN

THE REST (16-25)

16 – ADAM GOTSIS – 6’4/287 – GEORGIA TECH: 74
17 – JOEL HEATH – 6’5/293 – MICHIGAN STATE: 72
18 – ANTHONY ZETTEL – 6’4/277 – PENN STATE: 72
19 – SHELDON DAY – 6’2/293 – NOTRE DAME: 72
21 – ANTWAUN WOODS – 6’0/318 – USC: 71
22 – WILLIE HENRY – 6’3/303 – MICHIGAN: 71
23 – ANTHONY JOHNSON: 6’4/313 – PENN STATE: 71
25 – DARIUS LATHAM – 6’4/311 – INDIANA: 69


The closer we get to the draft, the more I think there is going to be urgency in that war room to bring in a pass rusher. One could say the DE group is good enough in that department, although I wouldn’t fully agree. But I don’t think anyone can make the argument that this DT group is gonna get to the passer a lot. While it may not be priority A for this scheme, it is still obvious this group needs another guy inside that can get the job done. Harrison and Hankins are a solid 1-2 punch. Bromley has had a couple nice plays over his two years and he looks like he’s gotten stronger and more powerful. But there is so much talent in the Draft group, it’s hard to pass on them especially considering there will be big values available days 2 and 3. You can have the approach of trying to bring in a potentially “special” talent in Butler, Clark, Rankins, even Nkemdiche. Or look to add another “serviceable”, rotational type in the later rounds like anyone of the guys ranked from 10+. I think this is a high priority position for the draft and fortunately its probably the deepest group of the class.

Apr 112016
Shaq Lawson, Clemson Tigers (December 31, 2015)

Shaq Lawson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Ends

by Contributor Sy’56

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


NYG is playing a risky game at the DE position but it’s a group that could be much worse off. Jason Pierre-Paul almost lost his career last offseason but he showed enough to warrant another full year opportunity. He still has the explosive, bendy legs and I think we could be in for a big year for him. Olivier Vernon was signed to a monster contract but really hasn’t been a force in the league just yet. There is potential there though. It was a rough rookie season for Owamagbe Odighizuwa injury-wise and that was perhaps his biggest red flag coming out of UCLA. This will be a big year for him. Kerry Wynn gives them an above average #4 DE if you want to compare depth charts around the league, but his upside is limited. This is far from the dominant group they used to have and there is tremendous risk all around. You can rightfully say that not one of these guys is an established edge rusher that will scare teams. That isn’t a position you want to be in at DE.


1 – JOEY BOSA – 6’5/269 – OHIO STATE: 87

Junior entry. All American in 2014. Took a step back production wise in 2015 but that had a lot to do with the extra attention he was receiving from opposing offenses. Bosa is an elite prospect. He is not a super, top level athlete but his power presence, intelligence, and versatility levels are. Bosa can be moved all over the line to exploit matchups. He plays too low and quick for the power blockers and too powerful for the finesse blockers. His hustle is off and on, and there have been issues off the field, albeit somewhat minor. Bosa can start right away in any scheme and immediately upgrade a defense. He will be a good starter for a long time.

*The top 10 of this draft is so back and forth and I still believe there is a chance he drops. Bosa isn’t a special athlete and teams have a tendency to go after athletic upside at the top of the draft and I think some people will talk themselves in to saying you can get a Bosa-type player in the middle rounds. Not me. I think Bosa is a legit day one starter that will be an elite run defender and above average pass rusher. He is as savvy as it gets and he shows tremendous short area power and hand-work. Bosa was a pro two years ago. He’s a safe pick and will be a long time starter.

Upside Pro Comparison: Justin Smith/RET

2 – SHAQ LAWSON – 6’3/270 – CLEMSON: 81

Junior entry. Played a rotational role over his first two years, playing second fiddle to Vic Beasley, the 8th overall selection of the 2014 Draft. Lawson was given his full time starting role opportunity in 2015 and shined. The All American led the nation with 25.5 tackles for loss, including an ACC leading 12.5 sacks. Lawson doesn’t jump off the screen with explosion and speed, but more so his relentless effort and power presence. His motor and passion are always on. He is a tough, blue collar type player that came back from an MCL sprain in just one week to start and perform well in the National Championship. Lawson is a starter in the NFL right away that will shine against the run and pass. His intangibles will help any physical shortcomings that he may have.

*Lawson is not an elite defender and I won’t consider him at #10 overall. But that doesn’t mean I dislike him, as he will likely finish in my top 20 overall. Lawson is very disciplined and smart. His on-field IQ rivals Bosa. While he lacks the important burst out of his stance, he can consistently get off blocks. He can change direction with a low pad level and heavy hands. Lawson is a tough hustler that plays with a fire you wish you stars played with. The injuries he suffered scare me a little, and I took a couple points off because of it. There is some bust potential with him but I think he can thrive in the right role.

Upside Pro Comparison: Terrell Suggs/BAL


Fourth year junior entry. Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year Award winner in 2014. Saw a lot of attention from opposing offenses in 2015 but still showed the ability to produce. Ogbah is a first class kid off the field and has a very disciplined approach between the lines as well. His strength and quick power are NFL ready. He can be a dominant run defending end in the 4-3 scheme early in his career with the upside of molding in to a upper tier pass rusher as well. His pad level and rush moves need work but knowing how hard he works off and on the field, Ogbah is a safe bet to eventually become an every down threat in the league.

*I still think NYG is going to like Ogbah enough to potentially take him at #10 overall. The combine only confirmed that thought. Personally I see too many movement limitations on the field for me to consider him in round 1. He has good straight line movement and is fully capable of man-handling blockers. He had plays where he looked like he was playing against high schoolers with how easily he tossed guys to the side. My concerns are a lack of quick twitch and change of direction. He plays too high and NFL tackles love to play against that. If Ogbah develops more NFL-caliber technique he can be the best DE in this class, no doubt. But he has a ways to go.

Upside Pro Comparison: Ziggy Ansah/DET

4 – KEVIN DODD – 6’5/277 – CLEMSON: 77

Fourth year junior entry. Missed 2013 with a knee injury. There may not have been a player in the country that helped his own draft stock via performance in 2015 as much as Dodd. The tool set was always there but he started to really put things together and showed the potential to be an every down threat in the NFL. Dodd finished behind only teammate Shaq Lawson nationally with 23.5 tackles for loss. His best games were when the lights shined the brightest in the National Semifinal and Championship games where he totaled 8.5 tackles for loss and 4 sacks. Dodd has the tools and style of play to be a star. His skill set is still developing but when at his best, he has as much upside as any pass rusher in this class. He didn’t show a top level of play for very long and there is more risk with him than others, but knowing his top tier work ethic and intangibles leads me to believe there is a long time productive starter here.

*I know people that have Dodd ahead of Lawson by a pretty decent margin. He has more of the traditional NFL body and skill set that coaches may want to work with. Dodd only really has a year of tape to look at but man, his week 1 tape vs the National Championship tape make him look like two different guys. He just got better and better as the year went on and you have to like that. Dodd has more upside than Lawson but I don’t think he is as ready to contribute right away. He needs technique work and doesn’t have enough power presence yet. But that could be simply one year away. Some teams are a little scared by the knee, by the way.

Upside Pro Comaprison: Jared Allen/RET


Fourth year junior entry. Started off at defensive end and made the transition to pass rushing OLB in 2014. Lacked the stats that jump off the screen but was a high impact player that showed more and more promise as his career went on. Tremendous power presence that made some of the best blockers in this draft look silly at times. Delivers a violent punch with long arms and easy knee bend. Won’t be pushed back. Can adjust well after contact and slither his way through traffic very well for such a big man. Loses track of body control and balance too often. Needs to grow in to his body more and understand proper footwork and its advantages. Was a bit of a freelancer. Will likely have to move to DE in the NFL but his experience at 3-4 OLB will only open up doors.

*Weatherly is the guy on this list that I like more than anyone I know, which is fine. He is an example of why I do stuff like this. I would gamble on a kid like this in round 3 or 4, knowing he needs to transition back to playing with his hand in the dirt instead of standing up. Weatherly was a man among boys in a few games I watched. He stifles blockers and swallows ball carriers. Weatherly has some craftiness to him as well, something most of the best pass rushers possess. He could be a little ways away technique wise but I see something in him that I think went.

Upside Pro Comparison: Carlos Dunlap/CIN

6 – CARL NASSIB – 6’6/273 – PENN STATE: 76

Fifth year senior that started his career off as a preferred walk on. Brother of Giants backup quarterback Ryan Nassib. Worked his way in to a scholarship in 2013 and then waited his turn to start in 2015. Nassib made the most out of that one season, leading the nation in sacks and forced fumbles. Despite not having the ideal movement traits, Nassib showed the consistent ability to defeat blockers and reach his target. His all out hustle and efficient use of height, length, and bendability make him a multi-down threat. Nassib plays the run and pass equally well and could be the ideal fit for the left defensive end in a 4-3 scheme.

*Nassib is a guy you can depend on right away but need to know will never be a star, which is more than fine. You can definitely win with a bunch of Nassib’s on your team. He is disciplined and smart. Plays well to his assignments and abilities and will make the occasional play that makes you raise your eyebrows. Nassib is dependable and could either start or give you the ever-important third DE that every good DL has. You are safe with this kid in your rotation.

Upside Pro Comparison: Chandler Jones/ARI


Fourth year senior. His struggles off the field have been well-documented. Was heading towards being the next big thing in 2013 where he finished as a 1st Team All Big 10 defender for Ohio State. Severe drug issues pushed him out and he opted to spend a year at Div I AA Eastern Kentucky instead of bolting for the NFL to prove he matured. An All-American season and zero failed drug tests have led many to believe he is past the drug issue. On the field he has the explosive first step you want, easy bendability, and fast, powerful hands. Spence has a lot of tools and skills that teams are looking for. His lack of size and strength are apparent but it didn’t stop him from dominating all week at the Senior Bowl. Without the drug issues from a couple years back, some say Spence would be top 10 overall in this draft.

*Everyone has to downgrade Spence a little bit at least because of the off field problems. But even without them, I don’t see the special in Spence, especially for a 4-3 scheme. He doesn’t show a ton of moves and there isn’t much he can do If he doesn’t get the initial advantage. Can he add some bulk and lower body strength? Will he pay enough attention to the little details to improve the subtle but important parts of rushing the passer? Without those he won’t be a factor, again especially in the 4-3. Teams in a 3-4 scheme may have a slightly higher grade I’m sure, but man I don’t see 1st round talent here. Teams gamble on edge rushers though. For what its worth some people were very turned off by his combine interviews.

Upside Pro Comparison: Cameron Wake/MIA

8 – CHARLES TAPPER – 6’3/271 – OKLAHOMA: 76

Run defending specialist that spends a lot of time in the opposing backfield. Very stout at the point of attack. Has pro-caliber strength right now and should have no issues adjusting to the size and power of the NFL blockers. Tapper may be a but too slow for strict 4-3 DE duty, but too small to be a 3-4 defensive end. He can be a very solid role player with scheme versatility, as he played inside and outside roles for the Sooners already. Limited upside but a high floor. He will contribute somewhere.

*Tapper was one of my biggest surprises at the combine. He looked a lot more explosive there than he did on tape. I had to go back and take a look and you have to admit he really wasn’t used that well in their scheme, He didn’t really get that many opportunities to display his pop off the edge. Is there some hidden ability here? Possibly. But I’m not catapulting him in to the 1st round because he did well in tights. Tapper is versatile and smart, yes. He can play the strength game well and he often ends up near the ball, I like that. There is a good amount of upside here.

Upside Pro Comparison: Cameron Jordan/NO

9 – DEAN LOWRY – 6’5/296 – NORTHWESTERN: 75

Fourth year senior that saw steady improvement year after year. Started for three seasons. Showed flashes of being a down after down dominant presence in 2015. Stout at the point of attack that can be a plus run defender. Lowry has very good quickness in short areas. He can play low and strong and he gets off blocks very well. He is very short-armed though and needs to show more rush moves if he is going to stick in a 4-3 scheme at DE. He won’t scare anyone off the edge but the gritty, smart style of play he shows can lead him to out-produce more talented and gifted athletes.

*Lowry wasn’t really on my radar until late in the season. But when I saw the size of him and how easy he could bend, I knew how rare it was and put more attention on him. If you like Nassib, you have to at least somewhat appreciate what Lowry brings to the table. He was dominant against the run and showed ability to beat pass blockers one on one. You can feel secure with a guy like this on the bench. Some people think he can bulk and play inside too.

Upside Pro Comparison: Tyson Jackson/ATL


Fifth year senior. Three time All Big 10 performer and has had several All American mentions over the past two seasons. Calhoun has been a very productive edge player over his career. He has the body that coaches will want to work with and his explosion off the edge alone is enough to warrant extra attention. Calhoun shows glimpses of being a big time edge prospect. He lacks consistency however. There is a lack of lower body strength and power presence that can be exploited at the next level. In addition, Calhoun has too many plays where he doesn’t factor. He is a one dimensional player that lacks the special ability to be considered a top guy.

*I’ve been pretty open about my dislike of Calhoun compared to what is out there. I am fully aware he is a guy that could come in to the league and be a 10-sack guy. But too many times he left me disappointed when it came to details and hustle. I’ve seen him take too many plays off. He isn’t stout enough and if he doesn’t win off the snap, he turns it off. There are some things to like here though and because of the position he plays, someone is going to take him much earlier than where I have him.

Upside Pro Comparison: Jason Babin/ARI

11 – JIHARD WARD – 6’5/297 – ILLINOIS: 73

Spent two years in junior college prior to transferring to Illinois in 2014. Ward is an evolving athlete with some rare traits that will be sure to catch the eyes of coaches. The former high school wide receiver carries his weight with ease and shows relentless effort from sideline to sideline. It is rare to see a player that splits time between end and tackle making plays all over the field that way Ward does. He is a versatile talent with upside. Ideally his best fit is left defensive end in a 4-3.

*Another guy here I can see NYG being high enough on to spend a mid round pick on. Ward can be moved around more than most of the guys on this list, seamlessly. Very active guy that probably has the best football ahead of him. NYG could use a guy like this that needs a year of development behind what appears to be a trial year for 2 or 3 of their current DEs.

Upside Pro Comparison: Mario Williams/MIA

12 – MATT JUDON – 6’3/275 – GRAND VALLEY STATE: 72

Sixth year senior that missed a season because of a knee injury. Won the award given to Division II’s top defensive lineman in 2015. He finished the season with 20 sacks. He has the NFL ready frame and was one of the top combine performers. Judon has the tools and we aren’t talking about a guy that lacks the skill set. He does a lot of things right when it comes to hand placement and rush moves. He tracks the ball well and will make tackles all over the field, he is much more than a pass rusher. There is some stiffness to him, however and it is possible he is playing at a weight that is too heavy for his frame. Playing at a low level of college football will make the adjustment harder as well. He’ll need time in all likelihood but 4-3 and 3-4 teams alike will be interested in his upside.

*Judon could have finished higher on this list. The jump from Division II is a huge one though and it can’t just be overlooked. He is a tools-rich kid with talent and football skills though. He may not be as raw as most guys coming from Division II are. Judon can play DE in the 4-3 for sure but his better fit may be the 3-4 OLB role where he could play 10-15 pounds lighter with more ability to change direction and bend.

Upside Pro Comparison: Brian Orakpo/TEN

13 – VICTOR OCHI – 6’1/246 – STONY BROOK: 70

Fifth year senior. Steadily improved as his career went on and ended up leading the FCS in sacks in 2015. Played standing up and with his hand in the dirt. Shows tremendous ability to fire out of his stance with a low pad level, quickness, and strong legs. Ochi has the ability to give blockers headaches because of his low center of gravity and sneaky power. There are plenty of productive edge rushers like him in the NFL. He’ll always have to fight the size limitations and he won’t factor much against the run, but he’s got the danger-potential factor.

*Ochi is graded out as a DE for me. I don’t see him making a move to 4-3 LB, he isn’t built for it and the only reason he is a prospect is the pass rush ability. Ochi wouldn’t be an every down guy but he can be a pass rush weapon that comes off the bench and gives blockers fits. He is low to the ground with long enough arms and strong enough legs to really make a difference on the edge.

Upside Pro Comparison: Robert Mathis/IND

14 – BRONSON KAUFUSI – 6’6/285 – BYU: 70

Former two sport athlete for the Cougars. Played basketball in 2012/2013, getting consistent playing time at forward. Kaufusi is a high ceiling, low floor prospect that has a rare tool set. He has all the size to overwhelm life in the trenches. He can overpower blockers when his pad level is right and there is a quick twitch to his lower half off the snap. He has taken games over at times in 2015 and could be the next versatile inside/outside defensive linemen in the league. He needs more strength and technique work before he can be relied upon, however. Boom or bust type.

*Kaufusi can be a scary player in the league. I’ve seen him take over the trenches too many times to completely discount his potential because of awkward movement patterns. He struggles to change direction and burst, but he can be a stout guy inside with the ability to make things happen as a straight ahead interior rusher on passing downs. I see him as a situational guy more than anything but could be a dominant left DE type. Some guys love him. Some guys hate him.

Upside Pro Comparison: Derek Wolfe/DET


Fifth year senior that missed a season with a thumb injury. Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year in 2015. Lacks the ideal 4-3 DE tools and skills but Blair is an exciting guy to watch. Very powerful at the point of attack with long arms and ability to bend. Will eat up a short space in a blink and force the blocker to adjust to him, not the other way around. He won’t scare anyone off the edge but that’s not his game and that’s not what he did in college. He can stuff the run and exploit matchup problems up and down the line.

*Blair may not have the upside that you want when looking at DEs late in the draft, but I think you can depend on him to at least be a solid backup player. He has presence on the field and if you sleep on him, he will make the play no matter where it ends up. His tape against Clemson is very impressive. Pure gamer but won’t ever be a star.

Upside Pro Comparison: Chris Smith/JAC

THE REST (16-25)

16 – DADI NICOLAS – 6’3/235 – VIRGINIA TECH: 70
17 – ROMEO OKWARA – 6’5/275 – NOTRE DAME: 70
19 – JIMMY BEAN – 6’5/264 – OKLAHOMA STATE: 69
20 – SHAWN OAKMAN – 6’8/287 – BAYLOR: 64
21 – JASON FANAIKA – 6’2/271 – UTAH: 64
22 – BRANDON JACKSON – 6’4/273 – TEXAS TECH: 63
23 – RON THOMPSON – 6’3/253 – SYRACUSE: 63


While there are bigger holes on this roster, NYG needs to take a step back and consider what their current DE group has brought to the table. In 2015, these DEs combined for 43 games played and 8.5 sacks. Those numbers are scary bad. Yes, NYG can likely count on more from Pierre-Paul and Odighizuwa, but should they bank on it? DE in the 4-3 is a position that should never be passed on if the value is screaming at you. While I know NYG could use their early picks elsewhere, DE needs to always be considered. Having more capable pass rushers and a deeper group to call on will make other players better, the opposite is not necessarily true. This DE group is nothing to go crazy about but it can be a weird draft. There could be a top guy that falls further than you think and in my opinion you may have to pounce on the opportunity.

Apr 102016
Ryan Kelly, Alabama Crimson Tide (December 31, 2015)

Ryan Kelly – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Guards and Centers

by Contributor Sy’56

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


A lot of attention is put on the tackles and what NYG needs there. However if you go back and watch the games from last year where the offense was really struggling, you’ll notice the guards were getting dominated. John Jerry is slated to start as of now and he is simply not a starting caliber player in this league, especially the WCO. Justin Pugh has been solid since his move to LG but one can even question his long term fit within the offense. You can call him a keeper for now but when his contract is up and the agent starts chirping in his ear, we may quickly turn on just how good he is. Is he a guy you want to commit a lot of money to? It is debatable now. Weston Richburg put together a very solid sophomore season. As of now he is probably the one guy on this OL that NYG can count on for a long time. The depth leaves a lot to be desired. Bobby Hart could have a future but as of now his upside is that of a versatile backup..


1 – RYAN KELLY – 6’4/311 – ALABAMA: 81

Fifth year senior and three year starter. Consensus All American and Rimington Trophy winner, given to the nation’s top center. Has all the ability and intangibles that you want out of a center. Very smart and savvy, made all the line calls and some will tell you he was responsible for Coker’s turnaround late in the year. He is a brilliant player. Kelly excels at the point of attack. He can anchor himself against power defenders, as he is rarely pushed back. He also excels at reaching across gaps as a zone blocker and remains strong on the move. Kelly is a day one starter in the league that will be around for a long time.

*Kelly has a 1st round grade on my scale. Even though NYG appears to be set at center for now, I still view Kelly draftable in round 2 because he has the tool set to play guard. He can play at 310+ with ease and he has the necessary movement skills to play there. Having an extra guy that can play the center role at a high level never hurt anyone either. He is a darkhorse favorite for the Giants 2nd round pick.

Upside Pro Comparison: Marshall Yanda/BAL


Fifth year senior. Has played plenty of tackle and guard during his career. Smooth and easy mechanics with consistent footwork and hand placement. Rarely caught out of position. Good reactions and anticipation. Has the smarts to put himself in position. Easy balance and body control. Delivers a violent and controlling initial punch. Natural bender at the knees. Has played plenty of guard and tackle. Needs to anchor his position better against power rushers. Loses some ground when forced to handle the bull rush. Struggles to recover when initially beat. Projects to the inside at the next level.

*Whitehair has the look of a pro when he is on the field. He has NFL ready feet and hands, something really uncommon. My issue with him is a lack of controlling upper body strength that you want guards to have off the snap. He is more of a guy that stays in front of his man rather than push them out of the way. Could be a better fit for the zone blocking scheme which works well with NYG. Whitehair can start week 1 and give an extra emergency left tackle on the team.

Upside Pro Comparison: Justin Pugh/NYG

3 – REES ODHIAMBO – 6’4/314 – BOISE STATE: 78

Fifth year senior and three year starter. Originally from Kenya. Played left tackle for the Broncos and ended up on the 1st Team All Mountain West team in 2015. Very good footwork and flexibility. Combines the necessary athletic ability with tenacious effort and hustle. Keeps his hands on and feet driving through the whistle and will overwhelm defenders. Will over commit to his initial reads and lose track of his weight distribution. Can be caught leaning. Has missed time three years in a row due to injury.

*If it weren’t for the points I took off his grade because of the injuries (most recently a broken ankle), Odhiambo would be competing with Kelly for the top spot on this list. I believe in this kid if he can stay on the field. If you want to know what kind of style I look for in offensive linemen, notably inside, watch this kid. He is a fighter. He wants to dominate defenders and he can do so with his feet and hands. Very well balanced athlete that will make a move inside and thrive. His grade will be very dependent on medicals, however.

Upside Pro Comparison: Zack Martin/DAL

4 – SPENCER DRANGO – 6’6/310 – BAYLOR: 78

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

*Some people that I really respect don’t think Drango can make the transition inside. I think he can but I wouldn’t doubt his ability to play tackle, either. I ultimately graded him as a guard but having him here only gives NYG more options to work with down the road. Drango is a physical bruiser that will find ways to get the job done. Doesn’t always look the part but I would have no issues with him in a week 1 starting lineup. He has man strength and a ton of experience blocking against quality defensive linemen. He’ll be a high floor player.

Upside Pro Comparison: Trai Turner/CAR

5 – NICK MARTIN – 6’4/299 – NOTRE DAME: 77

Fifth year senior and three year starter and left guard. Brother to Cowboys star OL Zach Martin. Injured his knee in 2013 that forced him to miss the final 3 games. Gritty player with a never-stop motor. Gets his hands on and will keep his feet moving through the end of the play. Always in the right position. Rarely flagged for penalties. Crafty blocker that will out-perform defenders far more talented than him. He won’t get a ton of movement at the point of attack. Speed rushers can bother him and he will get lost in space at times. Might not have the major upside you want but his floor is higher than most.

*During the season I wasn’t buying in to the Martin hype. I thought people liked him because of his brother and because of Mayock never shutting his mouth about how good he was. The more I watch, the more I appreciate though. His talent is average. His size is average. But Martin just doesn’t get beat often. If you chart guys out, I bet Martin grades out higher than most of the OL in the draft. Now, playing mostly center helps that but he deserves credit. He is a 2nd rounder in my book that could play guard, but would be better at center.

Upside Pro Comparison: Kory Lichtensteiger/WAS

6 – CONNOR MCGOVERN – 6’4/306 – MISSOURI: 77

Fifth year senior and four year starter. Played RT, RG, and LT for Missouri. Excellent athlete between the sidelines with elite strength. Quick out of his stance and shows the ability to stick with linebackers in space. Comfortable bender. Strong punch that brings elite weight room power to the field. Smart player that has played three different positions during his college career. Brings consistent technique each play. Can be fooled by stunts and blitzes. Has holes in his game as a pass protector. Fails to anchor his feet in the ground. Susceptible to powerful, low to the ground defenders.

*Justin Britt. Mitch Morse. Now Connor McGovern. These are all guys from Missouri that I had 2nd round grades on during the season that nobody wanted to talk about. It looks like people have caught up on McGovern because some have told me he could be a top 45 pick. If you want a zone blocking guard, McGovern needs to be on your short list. This guy can play. He may need a year to get acclimated back to guard in an NFL scheme, but long term I think he has a future as a staple for an offense in zone schemes.

Upside Pro Comparison: JR Sweezy/TB

7 – JOSH GARNETT – 6’5/312 – STANFORD: 76

Two year starter and team captain for the Cardinal. A typical Stanford interior blocker with elite run blocking ability that lacks the essential footwork in pass protection. Garnett will show flashes of dominance when he can fire out of his stance and run block. He has overwhelming power presence when he gets his hands locked on. The issues arise when he asked to adjust to speed rushers and move in space. He needs time to refine his mechanics but there is natural ability here that could be starting in the NFL within two years.

*I was off on my David Yankey grade a couple years ago. I am trying to not let it affect my outlook on Garnett who is coming from the same position and from the same school. They have similar playing styles and have eerily close workout numbers. I do want to keep Garnett in the 2nd/3rd round discussion however because he plays with tremendous pop on the move. That was Yankey’s weakness along with pass blocking struggles. Garnett bends better and shows more versatility inside. I think he can be a starter in most schemes right away but may not have the upper tier potential.

Upside Pro Comparison: Larry Warford/DET

8 – JOE DAHL – 6’4/310 – WASHINGTON STATE: 76

Fifth year senior. Played a year at Montana prior to transferring to Washington State. Dahl has a lot of experience, starting one year at left guard and two at left tackle. He lacks ideal size and bulk but in time, Dahl has the potential to starter in the NFL. He is very good mechanically from top to bottom. There is some pop out of his hands and he understands how to use his feet to his advantage. Once he gets stronger and more comfortable in the three point stance, he can be a steady contributor inside. For a player that had minimal three point and run blocking experience in college, he proved to be one of the best blockers at the Senior Bowl. There is some hidden talent and potential here.

*Another college left tackle that will most likely make the move inside. Dahl is also coming from a 2 point stance offense. He will need time but I think he has the tools and skills that coaches want to work with. He’s listed at 310 but I but he played at well under 300. He thrived at the Senior Bowl and I think he can be a very good player in a year or two if he works hard enough.

Upside Pro Comparison: TJ Lang/GB

9 – ISAAC SEUMALO – 6’4/303 – OREGON STATE: 75

Fourth year junior entry. Missed the 2014 season while healing from a broken foot which required two surgeries. Was a highly touted high school recruit. Seumalo has experience all over the line, mostly at center. His future is definitely inside at the next level but the versatility will only help. Seumalo has average tools but his intelligence and initial power stand out. If he can clean up technique flaws in space, he has the upside of a solid starter. He needs time to work those kinks out.

*If it weren’t for the nasty foot injury that kept him off the field in 2014, Seumalo would have finished in the top 5 of this group. What stands out the most here is the versatility. He played 4 out of 5 spots along the line and I think he can he the valuable 6th linemen on any team with the upside of being a starter. I’d like to see more strength and second level blocking ability but with his intelligence and approach, I think he can get there. He isn’t a sexy name but he can stick in this league.

Upside Pro Comparison: Andy Levitre/ATL

10 – VADAL ALEXANDER – 6’5/326 – LSU: 75

Fourth year senior that started all four years for the Tigers. Played mainly LG and RT. Mammoth frame with all the length and functional weight one could ask for. Shows a natural feel for blocking. Smart and good reactions based on mental awareness and savvy reads. Overwhelming upper body power. Can lock a defender up and render him unable to move. Has experience at both guard and tackle. Stiffness in space can be exposed by good double moves. Will be late to react when forced to continually moving laterally. Hinges at the hips too often.

*I’ve been back and forth on Alexander. I had to watch him a lot to get my final grade on him and I think this is where he belongs. That 3rd/4th round tier. He will be ready for the power of the NFL trenches right away but I see the quickness and change of direction really bothering him. He is a hit or miss guy that will either overwhelm everyone he touches or will be a step too slow to stick with the speed based defenders. He has some ugly tape, really ugly. But the majority of his snaps are plus-marks. Tough guy to peg.

Upside Pro Comparison: Orlando Franklin/SD


Has had a bit of a roller coaster ride throughout his college career. He started off at junior college, then on to Texas Tech, and then finished out at Division II West Georgia, where he played left tackle. He doesn’t have the feet to play outside. His balance in space is weak and he gets caught leaning too much. As a run blocker he showed dominant traits at a lower level of college football and teams will look at that frame and short area power with wide eyes. He has a high ceiling.

*Robertson is probably my top OG/C sleeper that is off the radar of most. I think he can be considered in that 3rd/4th round area but some people say he is an UDFA only. He is raw and won’t help much early in his career, but I think this kid has tools that you want the developmental prospects to have. The question is, is he worth a roster spot early on? Because if you think he is, you need to be ready to put him in the game in most cases.

Upside Pro Comparison: DJ Fluker/SD

12 – GRAHAM GLASGOW – 6’6/307 – MICHIGAN: 73

Fifth year starter with 37 career starts. Had a drinking/partying problem early in his career but appears to be clean now. Quick feet to make adjustments and reactions. Smart, heady blocker that can make line calls. Gives an aggressive, powerful punch. Anchors well against power, can chase down speed in space. Versatility is a plus with his experience at guard and center. Tough kid with an angry playing style. Has the frame for more weight. Better run blocker than pass blocker. Will lose his pad level and foot speed when protecting quarterback. Hand placement is inconsistent.

*Glasgow is a tall interior player but he bends well and showed very good footwork everywhere I saw him. He is an athlete with a frame that should be able to hold more weight easily Ever since Harbaugh came to Michigan, this kid’s game shot up big time. I think he will respond to the NFL pretty well and someone is going to get a good late round value on him. I think he can start down the road, possibly anywhere on the line.

Upside Pro Comparison: Chris Watt/SD


Fifth year senior. Spent two years at Auburn, playing in just one game. Two year starter for the Sun Devils. Westerman has top tier weight room strength. His body just screams NFL guard and his skill set doesn’t need a lot of development in comparison to other prospects. He is close to being ready for the pro trenches. He lacks the top end upside however. He doesn’t move guys and seems be overmatched when up against speed and quickness. He has backup ability but limited potential.

*A lot of guys have Westerman in the top 5 of this group. As you can see I don’t have huge gaps between him and the guys up there point wise, but I just don’t see the upside here. He gets beat too much for my liking and for such a strong weight room guy, he really doesn’t move people. He can be a guy that helps a team early on but I don’t think he’ll be a rock anywhere. He may be near his peak performance.

Upside Pro Comparison: Josh Sitton/GB

14 – JAKE BRENDEL – 6’4/303 – UCLA: 71

Fifth year senior. Four year starter that has been a team captain since his redshirt sophomore season. One of the top centers in the Pac 12. His weaknesses are not something I want to see at the position. He is often late out of his stance and he has a hard time playing low and strong. Brendel is going to struggle with the combination of speed and power you see from NFL defensive tackles. He is smart, very experienced, and knows the mental side of the game very well. But there will need to be a fair amount of physical development before he can be relied on. Late rounder.

*Brendel has developmental backup written all over him. I don’t think he is stout enough to handle the NFL trenches but he does have movement ability. He can get out of his stance well but he doesn’t make the impact you want. He’ll be drafted and teams in need of a backup zone blocking center may have a higher grade on him. I don’t see position versatility though.

Upside Pro Comparison: Mike Person/ATL

15 – DOMINICK JACKSON – 6’5/313 – ALABAMA: 70

Fourth year senior that transferred to Alabama in 2014. Only started one year at RT. Tough and hard nosed player that will play hard through the whistle. Gets his hands inside and will keep his pad level down. May not have the feet for the outside, just doesn’t protect the pass well enough. He is at his best when run blocking, showing ability to do well at the second level. He lacks upside but has the potential to be a reliable backup.

*I’ve liked Jackson all year. These sneaky guys that don’t play much at major programs but do well in their limited opportunities intrigue me. If Jackson was a 4 year player at a lesser school like Tennessee, I think we could be viewing him as a 3rd or 4th rounder. Jackson lacks the adjustment ability to pass block defensive ends but I believe in him as a guard prospect. He is worth taking a look at day 3.

Upside Pro Comparison: Andrew Norwell/CAR

THE REST (16-25)

17 – COLE TONER – 6’5/306 – HARVARD: 70
18 – JOE THUNEY – 6’5/304 – NC STATE: 70
19 – ALEX REDMOND – 6’5/294 – UCLA: 67
20 – SEBASTIAN TRETOLA – 6’4/314: 66
21 – MAX TUERK – 6’5/298 – USC: 66
22 – MATT SKURA – 6’3/329 – DUKE: 66
23 – ALFREDO MORALES – 6’3/316 – TEXAS TECH: 65
24 – DENVER KIRKLAND – 6’4/335 – ARKANSAS: 65


NYG needs to add an OG talent to this team before the season starts, whether it is through leftover free agency or the draft. As I said earlier, Justin Pugh is set for the next few years at LG and Weston Richburg can be a long term C, especially in this offense. That RG spot could potentially be a glaring hole with no solution in sight. Ryan Kelly in round 2 would be a consideration for me. Sure, he played C at Alabama but he has the skill set for OG and he is more than smart enough to make a simple move. But if you want to go elsewhere with that pick, it could be fine. I think this OG/C group is one of the deepest in the draft when it comes to the day 2 and early day 3 prospects. I think NYG can get a guy with any one of their picks in rounds 2-5 that could factor in year one. One or two of these guys will fall I think. Again, like OT, you are playing a risky game by hoping someone falls but you’re gonna have to do that with a few positions when you only have 6 picks. There are starters in this group, I think a lot of them.

Apr 082016
Taylor Decker, Ohio State Buckeyes (January 1, 2016)

Taylor Decker – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Offensive Tackles

by Contributor Sy’56

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


Two of the past three first round picks have been spent on prospects that played left tackle in college. Both appear to be keepers for the offensive line but I’m very hesitant to call Pugh or Flowers top tier left tackles in this league, or even top half. Pugh appears to be settled in nicely at LG where I always said he would was destined for. It is nice to know he could move outside if a bad injury situation arose. Flowers is the X factor here and I think what NYG sees him as will be a major factor in what ends up happening at #10 overall Flowers did play on a bum ankle in 2015 but I think the same way about him as I did when he was drafted…he is best suited for the RT spot. That isn’t a knock on him at all and as the NFL pass rush game gets better and better, the gap between RT and LT lessens. The point remains though, Flowers ability is better suited for RT even though he could pass as a serviceable LT. In addition, I’m not convinced NYG is confident with Marshall Newhouse being a starter. He had an up and down 2015 (more down than up) and there is very little quality depth on this team at OT. I think NYG has a lot of concerns and questions within this group and it will only become more important as Manning ages.


1 – TAYLOR DECKER – 6’7/310 – OHIO STATE: 84

Mr. Consistency after starting every game of his four year career. Smooth operator that never seems fooled. Always has his feet under him with good knee bend and his chest up. Clean mechanics. Does the little things right to make himself better. Powerful six inch punch. Gets to the second level fast and will overpower linebackers with ease. Reliable edge protector. Average foot speed. Doesn’t always maintain his power through the end of a play. Needs more leg drive. Will get grabby in pass protection.

*As you will see, my top OTs have very close grades. I don’t think one stands out among the others at all. But gun to my head if I had to choose one, I am going with the smooth, always in control Decker. This guy has the perfect mix of aggression and patience. I don’t think any of these OTs show the control and repetitive mechanics/technique that Decker does. Blockers with this kind of height often have a hard time bending but I don’t see that here, Decker plays a low game with knee bend and inside hand position. He can overwhelm defenders with his size and some of his best tape came against his top competition. I’ll take Decker as my LT anyday.

Upside Pro Comparison: Joe Thomas/CLE

2 – LAREMY TUNSIL – 6’5/310 – OLE MISS: 84

Junior entry. Was a blue chip recruit out of high school and started all three years. Two time 2nd Team All American. Suspended seven games in 2015 for receiving impressible benefits. Tunsil is a gifted and rare athlete for the position. He has all the foot speed and easy movement to hang with anyone off the edge. His performance as a run blocker against second level defenders is NFL ready. He can finish blocks and his effort is consistent. Tunsil’s biggest struggle will be the jump in power and strength that he will face in the NFL trenches. He does not derive enough force from his lower body yet. He will need to apply himself in the weight room, as finesse tackles have a hard time in the league.

*I don’t see the elite in Tunsil that others do. I’ve looked at him over and over and I just don’t see it. The footwork is outstanding. The hands are always on point. He can move in space well. But at the end of the day his warts pop up in literally every game I watch. He plays with poor pad level and doesn’t hold his ground against power rushers. Sure he could develop the strength over time and paired with his movement ability, you could have an elite tackle. But he is not a #1 overall guy to me. Tunsil was such a highly touted high school recruit and I honestly think that is partially why guys put the elite label on him. Tunsil is good. He isn’t elite.

Upside Pro Comparison – Tyron Smith/DAL


Fourth year Junior entry. Three year starter, primarily at left tackle. 2nd Team All American in 2015 despite battling a nagging knee injury. Conklin is a blue collar type that lacks talent (originally walked on to the MSU roster) but puts forth a ton of effort and fight in to his game. Conklin is a massive body that can move well enough to handle outside responsibility, but may need to be kept on the right side. He lacks the natural foot speed and flexibility to be trusted on the left side without earning it. His size, strength and head down approach will get him a starting job in the NFL for a long time.

*A lot of discussion has surrounded Conklin in recent months. For people that watch his games, you love him because of his consistency and approach. For those that see the clips of him say that he lacks the ideal kick slide and doesn’t have the “sexy” factor to his game. Conklin is a gamer. There is no such thing as a sure-bet in the NFL Draft but Conklin is on a small list of players in this class that I am confident will have a long career in the league barring injury. I question his ability to play left tackle but there are worse athletes in the NFL that play that spot than Conklin, and NYG has one of those guys. Conklin should be in the discussion at #10 overall, absolutely.

Upside Pro Comparison – Sebastian Vollmer/NE

4 – RONNIE STANLEY – 6’6/312 – NOTRE DAME: 83

Fourth year junior. Has one season of starting experience at right tackle and two seasons at left tackle. Underwent elbow surgery in 2012. Stanley has all the ideal physical tool set and more than enough ability to play left tackle in the NFL. His arm length and hand strength consistently control the power rushers. His feet move fast enough to beat speed rushers to the edge. He passes the initial eye test but there are several holes in his game from a mechanical and consistency perspective, respectively. Stanley has elite potential but there are far too many question marks for him to receive an elite grade.

*Stanley is another name I see out there with the elite label next to his name. I don’t agree. I think he is a quality player and a starter in the league but the holes in his games worry me. We aren’t talking about the hardest working kid in the world, either. He didn’t take care of his business in college and this league will eat those kinds of players up really fast. Stanley has as much talent as all the guys above him and if a coach can get him to apply himself off the field and make him truly care, he could approach the sky high upside. But only if all the guys above are gone am I considering him.

Upside Pro Comparison: Brandon Albert/MIA

5 – JASON SPRIGGS – 6’7/305 – INDIANA: 81

Fourth year senior with 47 career starts. 2015 All American. Elite athlete with a frame that can easily add more bulk. Uses his length and knee bend effectively. Repeats his technique in pass protection over and over. Explodes out of his stance with good positioning. Effective second level blocker. Will look to end plays with the last lick. Mean and aggressive. Lacks the staying power against a big bull rusher. Doesn’t move guys in the run game. Will overshoot his target on the edge and lose his inside protection. Needs more urgency out of his stance.

*I sound like a broken record here but when looking at Spriggs, we are talking about a guy with very high level upside. I think he is the best athlete of the bunch but simply needs time to increase his power presence and off-snap mechanics. For such a good mover, Spriggs really struggles with initial movement and set up at times. He needs to clean that up if he can factor at LT in the NFL. I don’t think he is going to be a major factor in year one. He can control guys with his hands but he doesn’t get a lot out of his lower body, something he’ll need in the NFL. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go anywherer between #15 and #45 overall.

Upside Pro Comparison: Terron Armstead/NO

6 – GERMAIN IFEDI – 6’6/324 – TEXAS A& M: 78

Fourth year junior entry. Has played right guard and both tackle spots for the Aggies. Ifedi started his career off hot, earning Freshman All American honors in 2013 but failed to take the next step. His frame and overall ability to move could make a lot of coaches dream of elite upside, but in the end Ifedi has proven to be an underachiever time and time again. He can be a quality backup initially that will need to really apply himself on and off the field if he wants to be anything more. That is something he has yet to show himself being capable of.

*It’s hard not to get excited about Ifedi when you watch him. He can simply dominate with his combination of size, power, and initial quickness. He just looks like an NFL starter right now. Ifedi is really inconsistent though and I can’t tell if it’s an effort thing or a conditioning issue. Perhaps a bit of both. Either way this guy is as gifted as anyone in this group but fails to consistently play up to the level in which he is capable of. He will excite you and disappoint you. Ifedi could be a top tier RT in this league right away if he wants to.

Upside Pro Comparison: Gosder Cherilus/TB

7 – SHON COLEMAN – 6’5/307 – AUBURN: 76

Fifth year junior entry. Missed the 2011 season while battling cancer and needed a redshirt in 2012 to complete his recovery. Coleman was granted four years of eligibility starting in 2013 by the NCAA. He started for two years at left tackle and molded himself back in to a potential star blocker. Coleman has elite size and power presence with good enough feet to handle outside duty. He is best suited for the right side where his pad level and movement in space issues are not as severe. Coleman is more than a feel-good story. He has starter potential.

*Coleman will need a good amount of time to develop in to an NFL lineman. The Auburn scheme is such a quick paced offense and Coleman will need to adjust to consistently playing in a 3 point stance. In addition he has mechanical tendencies that will need to be cleaned up. Some people think he can play the left side in the NFL but I see him as a RT, possibly even a guard at the next level. He has a lot of natural power to him and will be a guy that moves defenders. If he can clean his footwork and pad level up, he’ll be a good one.

Upside Pro Comparison: Donald Stephenson/DEN


Fourth year senior. Three year starter that has seen time at both left and right tackle. Vaitai is a smooth operator that has some of the cleanest technique in the class. He could be just a year or two of strength training away from being a starting tackle, and a good one at that. He hustles hard and shows the awareness to make up for any slight physical shortcomings. Vaitai has the body of a future tackle but will simply need time to get stronger. He has a very high upside.

*This is one of my biggest sleepers of the entire draft. Vaitai is another one that needs time to develop NFL-caliber technique, coming from fast paced offense. But I see a guy with really good body control and set up. He mirrors guys in space and gets his hands inside consistently. I think he could use more strength development and likely needs a year to live in the weight room, but he has it all together when he’s up against quality pass rushers. I think he is ideally a RT in the league but he matched up athletically with some of the best pass rushers the country had to offer at LT.

Upside Pro Comparison: Andrew Whitworth/CIN


Fifth year senior and 3 year starter. Quick out of his stance and shows a consistent set up and initial punch. Brings a physical presence to line and makes the effort to put his man through the ground each play. Takes pride in defeating his man and playing through the whistle. Shows good balance and body control from start to finish. Shows good quickness to the edge and when chasing after second level defenders. May not have the length for the outside. Will lose to leverage-based pass rushers. Needs to show more ability to adjust to double moves. Over commits to his initial read.

*If you want someone more physical on your line, Ehinger could be a guy you look at. I think he projects at RT and OG in the league. He isn’t a great athlete but he shows very easy body control and balance. Ehinger is a gamer that will be in the league for a long time, but I question the upside. He can be a solid but not great blocker, definitely starter-caliber though.

Upside Pro Comparison: Doug Free/DAL


Fifth year senior and three year starter. Has some impressive tape against some of the best pass rushers the nation has to offer. He held his own against Joey Bosa and Shilique Calhoun, showing flawless and consistent mechanics, lower body strength, and easy awareness. He can reach the edge like a left tackle and there is enough head to toe strength to handle power rushers. He doesn’t bend that well and there is a lot of forward lean to him. He lacks ideal measurements as well and it shows up on tape. Beavers can be a solid backup with the potential to start anywhere on the line if he can up his technique and lower body strength.

*Beavers has a lot of guys in is corner. People like his long term potential and think he can be a starting LT in the league. I still see a guy that may need to make a move inside. For a guy with good athletic ability, he sure does get beat in space a lot. Not very good at adjusting on the move along the edge. He showed flashes though of being a good player. I’m just not sold enough to put him in round 2.

Upside Pro Comparison: Kelvin Beachum/JAC

11 – JOHN THEUS – 6’6/313 – GEORGIA: 75

Fourth year senior, four year starter. Was in and out of the starting lineup early in his career and was probably rushed in to the action. Has the feet to play the left side in the NFL, carries his weight with ease. Needs more weight room development, has an obvious strength and power deficit when matched up against bigger defenders. Does a nice job on the move though, dominates second level defenders. Plays with a chip on his shoulder. Will be a backup for awhile but has the tools to be a starter.

*I liked Theus the more I saw of him as the season went on. I’ve seen a ton of Georgia the past 2-3 years and I really had a low outlook on him coming in to 2015. The light turned on a bit and I think he is a guy you can be confident in to backup both tackle positions. That’s an important role in the NFL. He really needs to get stronger though and clean up his body.

Upside Pro Comparison: J’Marcus Webb/SEA

12 – FAHN COOPER – 6’4/303 – OLE MISS: 72

Fourth year senior that played at Bowling Green and a Junior College prior to joining Ole Miss in 2014. Started both years for the Rebels at RT and LT. Stepped in seamlessly at LT when Laremy Tunsil was suspended for the first half of 2015. Underrated athletic ability with good short area power and suddenness. Has good reach with heavy, fast hands. Very good technique player that has been starting wherever he’s been playing. Might not have the ideal upside but guys like this can tend to stick around for a long time.

*You know, watching Ole Miss early in the year while Tunsil was suspended, you really couldn’t tell a difference at the LT position. I think Cooper opened a lot of eyes with his play this year. And its another reason why I don’t have the elite grade on Tunsil Cooper can be a solid backup and eventual starter in the league. I actually think he can be more NFL ready right now than some of the guys above him on this list. He does a lot of little things very well and he doesn’t have any major holes in his game.

Upside Pro Comparison: Michael Harris/MIN


Four year starter with 47 career starts to his name. Right tackle prospect that will impress most with the initial eyeball test. Has supreme size and shows the capability of winning off the snap. His issues are in space and they are apparent. He needs technique work but also has to step up his foot quickness if he wants to stick around. Shell has gifts but he’s not a football player yet.

*At the East/West Shrine game, I found out there are scouts that think Shell is a 2nd rounder and could be the #5 or #6 guy on the OT board for some teams. Some people love his upside. Personally I think he is too stiff for the NFL edges and won’t play low enough to play guard. I think he is a guy that excites you but at the end of the day he won’t be able to get it done as a starter. He’ll be a long term project for someone.

Upside Pro Comparison: Phil Loadholt/MIN

14 – JOEL HAEG – 6’6/304 – NORTH DAKOTA STATE: 71

Fifth year senior and four year starter. Started 60 games and ended his career with 2 straight FCS All American seasons. He played 2 years at RT and 2 years at LT. Haeg is a top tier athlete with the kind of athletic upside that coaches get excited about. He pops out of his stance in to his kick slide as seamlessly as anyone with full body control and ability to change direction on a dime. He really doesn’t move people, however. He is a guy that need a year-plus of weight training and eating before he can be thrown in to the mix. Upside athlete that already has the technique down, just needs strength.

*Haeg is a lesser version of Jason Spriggs. He has all the movement tools and technique that will lead you to initially believe he can play LT in the NFL. The more you watch though, the more you will notice he doesn’t push anyone around. He struggles to run block with purpose and bull rushers can get under his pads and drive him back. He is making a big jump in competition as well, thus he is a developmental guy that will probably need more than a year. Upside is there, though.

Upside Pro Comparison: Joe Staley/SF

15 – CALEB BENENOCH – 6’5/311 – UCLA: 68

Junior entry. Born in Nigeria. Started for three years primarily at right tackle but did also see some time inside at guard because of injuries to teammates. Benenoch is a high upside athlete for the position. He shows easy foot speed, a good reach, and proper flexibility throughout. There is a sense of rawness to his game still, however. He shows lapses in concentration and will lose out on his technique, relying too much on his athleticism. Benenoch is not a weak body, but there is more lower body strength especially that needs to be added. He cannot handle NFL power defenders yet. He has starting potential down the road, possibly even on the left side.

*Every time I watched Benenoch, I was somewhat intrigued. He had the look and the occasional flashes of a guy that could really get the job done. But then he would have stretches where a good pass rusher would routinely beat him a variety of ways. He will need time to sit and develop but I could see him being a guy that was really worth gambling on.

Upside Pro Comparison: Bryan Bulaga/GB

16 – STEPHANE NEMBOT – 6’7/322 – COLORADO: 69

Fifth year senior wth an interesting story. Was born in Cameroon and didn’t play football until his junior year of high school. He was a defensive end when he stepped foot on campus and satyed there for his redshirt year. He kept growing and the coaches moved him to OL where he started to show signs of special potential. He started 36 straight games, mostly at RT, and wowed scouts on occasion. He is very raw but there are tools here that are actually functional. He struggles to pivot and change direction, but he has such great length and hand power. He is an interesting prospect.

*I like Nembot as a late round project. He is a scary, scary dude when he gets a head full of steam downhill. He is quicker than he times but there is still consistent footwork that needs to be worked on. He looked really bad at times. He had an impressive Shrine week and some scouts left there raving about his progress from day 1 to day 6. You have to like that.

Upside Pro Comparison: Marcus Gilbert/PIT

17 – JERALD HAWKINS – 6’6/305 – LSU: 68

Fourth year junior entry. Started for two seasons at right tackle, one on the left side. Hawkins has a nice frame and good athletic ability. His feet are good enough for the left side but his lack of staying power and inconsistent pad level need a lot o work before he can be thrown in to the mix. Hawkins has an upside that few prospects do, but he will need at least a year of development before he can be considered for contribution.

*Some “experts” were talking about Hawkins as a first rounder during the season. No way. He has a frame that you will want to work with but I was unimpressed with him athletically. I’m not even sure he can hack it as a LT in the league. He may have to be in a scheme specific guard role at the end of the day. He plays with pop and good short area quickness though. I see him as a versatile, solid backup.

Upside Pro Comparison: Vinston Painter/MIA

18 – KYLE MURPHY – 6’6/305 – STANFORD: 68

Two year starter, once on right and left side respectively. All Pac 12 performer. Murphy looks the part right after the snap. He has proper foot quickness and knee bend but his form breaks down as the play ensues. He does not have the pro caliber strength to handle protection duties yet. He is a developmental prospect that has the upside of a starter if he can gain strength and improve his post-engagement mechanics.

*I had an impressed outlook on Murphy when I watched him earlier in the year but towards the end of the season and especially at the Senior Bowl, I kind of took a 180 and I think he is a backup at best-type. When he isn’t run blocking, Murphy is pretty sloppy. He doesn’t have the strength or the foot speed to make up for it. I don’t think we are looking at a ton of talent here with him. Some guys are up on him though.

Upside Pro Comparison: Marshall Newhouse/NYG

19 – LE’RAVEN CLARK – 6’5/316 – TEXAS TECH: 68

Fifth year senior and four year starter. Has one year of experience as a guard and the rest have been at left tackle. Clark has hard-to-find length and power. He can dominate guys at the point of attack but the second he asked to play the game with his feet, his inconsistencies pop up. He has a long ways to go in terms of technique. Developmental prospect here that needs a ton of work.

*Someone is gonna spend a top 100 overall pick on him. Someone recently told me he is in the 2nd round discussion. I don’t see it. I think he is a guy scouts go nuts over because of the hard to find tools. Clark does have elite length and hand power, but he gets beat all the time by guys that won’t play in the league. He is not a good bender and he lacks instincts. Plus, he played in an offense where he was almost never in a 3 point stance. He needs a ton of work.

Upside Pro Comparison: DJ Fluker/SD

20 – ALEX LEWIS – 6’6/312 – NEBRASKA: 66

Fifth year senior that started off at Colorado, where he primarily played guard. After sitting out 2013, Lewis was a 2 year starter at left tackle where he finished as a 2nd Team All Big 10 performer. Lewis has the body and the foot speed that coaches will want to work with. He played below 290 pounds in college, so he will need time to add functional weight that will stay on his frame. He can handle it. Lewis isn’t a power player but he was a very reliable run blocker. If he can add strength without losing his movement ability, he could be a solid backup for both tackle spots.

Upside Pro Comparison: Breno Giacomini/NYJ

THE REST (20-25)

21 – AVRERY YOUNG – 6’5/328 – AUBURN: 66
22 – TYLER JOHNSTONE – 6’5/301 – OREGON: 65
23– TYLER MARZ – 6’7/316 – WISCONSIN: 65
24 – JOE GORE – CLEMSON – 6’6/300: 63
25 – PEARCE SLATER – 6’7/329 – SAN DIEGO STATE: 63


There is a lot of chatter that NYG is going with an OT with their first pick. From the outside, some will kill the decision because they spent a #9 overall pick on one last year and they have another recent first round tackle playing guard now. You know what? This team has a significant hole at RT right now and there is no denying it. If the value matches up early, NYG needs to strongly consider going OT. I really don’t see a big gap between the top 5 guys and I think NYG can realistically grab one of them to start week one. You could play a slightly riskier game by drafting one of those second tier guys day 2 but there is always the risk they aren’t there. NYG can’t be a team that tries to get cute with the OL as Manning enters the slow years of his career. While I wouldn’t go in saying OT or bust, it needs to be constantly on their minds. They need better depth and a more legit starter at RT. The option of moving Flowers over is still alive and well in my book.