GIANTS CUT JEROME CUNNINGHAM AND G.J. KINNE…
The New York Giants have waived tight end Jerome Cunningham and quarterback/safety G.J. Kinne.
The Giants signed Kinne to the Practice Squad in September 2015. Kinne was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the New York Jets after the 2012 NFL Draft. Since then, he has spent time with the Jets (2012), UFL – Omaha Nighthawks (2012), AFL – Antonio Talons (2013), and Philadelphia Eagles (2013-15). After spending two years on Philadelphia’s Practice Squad in 2013-14, the Eagles converted him from quarterback to wide receiver and running back. The Giants used him at safety in practice at times in 2015.
Cunningham spent the first five weeks of the 2015 season on the 53-man roster, was waived and signed to the Practice Squad in October, and then re-signed to the 53-man roster in early November. In all, Cunningham played in nine games with three starts, catching eight passes for 59 yards. Cunningham played college football at Southern Connecticut State University from 2009-2012, but remained unsigned until the Giants signed him in August 2014.
JERRY REESE AND BEN MCADOO ON WFAN…
New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese and Head Coach Ben McAdoo were interviewed on WFAN Radio on Monday. The audio from both interviews is available at CBS New York’s website:
On the third and final day of the 2016 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected linebacker B.J. Goodson (Clemson University) in the 4th round, running back Paul Perkins (UCLA) in the 5th round, and tight end Jerell Adams (University of South Carolina) in the 6th round.
LINEBACKER B.J. GOODSON 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.
RUNNING BACK PAUL PERKINS 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.
TIGHT END JERELL ADAMS SCOUTING REPORT: The 6’5”, 247-pound Adams is a tall tight end with long arms who needs to add more strength and bulk. Adams has the tools and temperament to develop into a good blocker. He plays with toughness and works to finish his blocks. Adams has good speed for the position and can threaten a defense down the field. He adjusts well to the football, has good hands, and runs well after the catch. Adams is a bit of a developmental project as he does need to work on his route running and overall technique. His work ethic has been questioned. Big upside.
MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE: (Video)
Reese: 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.
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.
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.
Q: Did you accomplish everything you wanted to do in this draft?
A: We got the best six players that we could get. We accomplished that.
Q: Does it change anything for you moving forward that you didn’t get any offensive linemen?
A: We’re always trying to upgrade our roster every day.
Q: This is the first time in Giants history that you didn’t add a lineman. If I told you that three days ago, would you say that’s interesting?
A: I’m saying that now. Hmm. Interesting. We drafted the best players available for us. We have some offensive linemen and we have some defensive linemen. We’ll continue to try to improve everywhere on the roster, including the offensive and defensive line.
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.
Q: There are rumors floating around that Anthony Davis may be on the horizon for the Giants. Is there any truth to that?
A: I’m not talking about anybody else’s player.
Q: Do you feel you have to add an offensive lineman in your mind at some point?
A: We’re going to continue to upgrade our roster every day. Everyday we’ll continue to upgrade every position – offensive line, defensive line, defensive backs to receiver. Every position.
Q: You have a lot of roster spots. What’s realistic in terms of undrafted free agents and how many guys you’ll add?
A: We’re in the room and we’re working on that right now. We don’t have as many as some teams, but we’ve got enough to try to fill the roster with different positions and we’ll do that.
Q: It doesn’t appear that any of these players have injury or character issues. Was that a goal going into the draft?
A: We always try to do that. We don’t go out and say, ‘let’s draft some hurt guys or some guys with some character issues.’ We try to get clean guys all of the time. It’s been like that ever since I’ve been with the New York Giants. That’s nothing new.
Q: The three positions you addressed are positions where you seem to have volume, but not necessarily all set starters. Is that a coincidence?
A: We’re just looking to add good players on the roster and we thought those three players were three good players that create some competition and we think those guys will do that.
Q: All of the players you selected were from major programs, major conferences. Was that intentional?
A: No. We try to get the best players up there. They could have been from Tennessee-Martin or they could have been from UCLA. We just tried to get the best player available.
Q: Anybody from Tennessee-Martin come off the board yet?
A: Not yet. We’re still working on it.
MEDIA Q&A WITH VICE PRESIDENT OF PLAYER EVALUATION MARC ROSS: (Video)
Q: Can we get a summary of each guy?
A: 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. 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. 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.
Q: Were you surprised an offensive or defensive lineman didn’t fall your way?
A: Yeah, not surprised. You are never surprised by anything. We weren’t going to force anything. You always want big bodies, but you want the right big bodies. You can’t just go into it saying we want an offensive lineman and they throw somebody up there or we want a D-lineman. We spent a lot in the offseason on the D-line. We’ve got some high draft picks on the O-line, so we have some good players there right now and we weren’t going to force the issue at either one of those positions.
Q: Did you get close at any point or did the board just not fall your way?
A: There were discussions here and there, but nobody who was at the time the highest ranked on the board or close to that, but we discussed some guys.
Q: It is the first time in franchise history that the team did not draft a lineman.
A: Alright, historic.
Q: What did you think of the draft overall?
A: It was good. It was good. [We are] really excited about the type of players we got, on and off the field. Some playmakers, some football players as far as hard working guys who are going to come in here and be what we are all about here with the Giants.
Q: I don’t know if you want to characterize it this way but you took a lot of guys who played at big schools, who played a lot and were productive. Was that an effort that went into this year?
A: No, we never have a theme going into a draft or the scouting season. It materializes itself through our draft process and meetings and then especially when you get to draft day where we talk about our players and where we stack them. It just so happened that all these guys sort of have the same qualities. Like you said, big school guys that have been productive and have played a lot.
Q: When the draft ends and you are trying to get these undrafted free agents, do you still focus on your board or is it just a mad dash?
A: Well, we kind of set it now. It is funny you said that because we set it all now where we target people, but of course, “Well, this guy just got drafted, so let’s re-shuffle.” We still try to move the high priority players into position for free agents but it is such chaos between now and the next few hours that it is tough to. Draft day is calm and easy almost, but this free agent process is very hectic.
Q: At that point there when a guy comes down to a certain position, do you kind of look at a guy at that position to try and fill out your roster?
A: Yeah, this is the time where you prioritize the positions you think have to be filled in, positions of need and higher priority type players.
Q: Do you have a long list of free agents you would like to sign now?
A: Yeah, sure. Stack them up and our scouts and coaches go at them.
Q: You have a good amount of roster spots. What is a realistic number of undrafted free agents you bring in?
A: Probably like 12 or 15. Somewhere around there.
Q: Is that a big number for you?
A: Yeah, the last few years have been 10 or under so this has been the highest in the last few years.
Q: Will some of those just be invited to the rookie mini camp next week?
A: We will hit it hard tonight with priority guys and then kind of the guys that fall through the cracks and we have to fill it out for camp, we will call those guys the next couple of days but tonight, we will go after the guys we really want.
Q: But it is possible that if you do get all the guys you want with the 12 or 15, you may have to make some roster adjustments?
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.
Q: When you are going through the process, you get some positions like safety and running back where there is a crowd on the roster. Is there ever a hesitancy where you look at it as we see this guy on the top of our board but there is too much of a crowd?
A: Yeah, that comes into play certain times where we have five receivers and we don’t need a sixth but, again, if the player is just too good to pass up at that moment, you don’t want to give up a good player because you think you have depth. We have thought we’ve had depth certain times at other positions throughout the years and number one guy gets hurt, number two guy gets hurt and the number three guy gets hurt, and where is your depth? It is gone, so you always want to just keep putting good players on your football team.
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.
Q: Did you guys look at that because it’s a position where more successful guys are available in later rounds?
A: Yeah, once you start talking about it, that is it but then also it is what players are available. If you have a stud in the first round and he is available and part of the conversation, you take him there, but it just so happened that where we were picking and the players that were available, this is where we like him and where we took him.
Q: Does not having a 7th rounder help you with the undrafted guys?
A: I hope so. I hope so. Usually you are just focusing on drafting, but now we can just focus on the free agents and get the plan going even quicker.
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. 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. 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: 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: 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: Are you surprised the board fell is such a way that you didn’t get an offensive lineman or a defensive lineman?
A: That’s probably pretty unique. The last thing you want to do is reach down and reach for a guy. That’s how it went this year.
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: 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.
Q: This was your first draft in the role of head coach. Overall, what’d you think of it? How’d you think it went for you?
A: A lot of work went into it. I think we did a nice job of not having any kneejerk reactions and just trusting the board and trusting the work that everyone puts into it. The scouts put a ton of work into it, the coaches evaluate a lot of players, and you put all the input up, get it on the board and just trust the process.
Q: For you personally, in these three days, how much more were you involved and did you do maybe more than as the offensive coordinator?
A: I was in the room the whole time. Had a chance to bounce some things off of Jerry, but at the end of the day, we both sat there and trusted the board and trusted the whole body of work. It’s been a long time coming when you get to this process and you just have to trust everything that you put into it.
Q: As the offensive coordinator, you’re not in the room the whole time?
A: As the offensive coordinator, I was a major part of the process, yes.
Q: When you look at this draft, the first round you got a defensive back that will probably be on the field maybe 60 percent of the time; second round, maybe a slot player. Did you make your team deeper, because it doesn’t seem like there’s one guy you got who is a superstar? It just seems like you got six guys who can help.
A: Well, we may have zero starters out of the mix, we may have six starters in the mix…no one knows at this point, it’s too early to tell. But we know we have high character guys, good football players who play the game the way we want them to play the game. And depth is just as important as anything else in this league, and we feel like we have six good players to work with.
Q: Are you okay with the right side of your offensive line as it is right now or are you going to look to upgrade with a free agent or something like that?
A: The right side of the offensive line, the story is yet to be written on the right side of the offensive line. We’re just starting the 2016 offseason. We’re going to look at every possible combination, give guys a chance to compete, and see where it goes from there. It’s still early.
Q: Would you like to add somebody though to that right side to even add more competition to it? Do you feel like you need to?
A: If the right somebody shows up.
Q: During the course of the draft, did things happen elsewhere that really surprised you? A player you thought wouldn’t be that high or a player you thought would and he slipped down?
A: I guess when it comes to the draft, all it takes is one team or one general manager, one head coach, to fall in love with a guy. They don’t want to lose that guy or miss out on the player, so I guess that doesn’t surprise me.
Q: Are you guilty of that?
Q: Just looking ahead to the minicamp, do you have a set of objectives that you want to see, want to accomplish with these guys as well as the undrafted free agents?
A: The rookie minicamp? Yeah, the rookie minicamp is more of an orientation. We want to bring them in, introduce them to the first install with normal down and distance install, teach them how we’re going to practice, let them know where the restrooms are, and just get their feet wet a little bit. We’re not going to be out there for three hours practicing, we’re just going to introduce them to things. It’s more of an orientation than anything…to see the building for the first time so when they get a chance to come in here with the vets and mix it up with the older guys, there’s not much young bull going on and they at least know where they’re going.
Q: Just going to be looking at retention of information? I imagine you’re probably going to throw a lot at them as far as the install and the playbook?
A: Absolutely. Their hair will be fire once they hit the building until they leave. A lot of the vets have had the installs for a couple seasons…defense, for one year now. They’ve gone through a couple installs already with the minicamp and with the phase one work, so we are going to throw a lot at them and we’ll see how fast they can catch up. But we’ll have a chance to spend more time—you can spend more time in the afternoons with these rookies when the vets are out of here. That’s really their time to grow and digest the information.
Q: You’ve gone through the two big phases where you add players to this team in free agency and the draft. Do you like what you have so far?
A: You certainly would rather add them than take them away, that’s the worst part of the job. But absolutely, the free agency process and the draft process have been fairly clean and straight forward. You have a plan in place and you trust the plan, you stick with the plan, and have no knee-jerk reactions to anything…stay the course and that’s what we’ve done.
Q: It doesn’t appear that any of the players you took have character red flags or injury red flags. We talked to you a couple days ago about a couple of high profile guys you passed on early maybe because of that. Was it important for you to have clean players where you didn’t have to necessarily sweat out a doctor’s report or other issues?
A: The medical question and the character question, I think, are two different questions. I think it’s important that when you bring in young players, you bring young players who can be potential pros, not just potential NFL players. I think we did that with all six of these guys.
Q: Will there be any overlap with the veterans and the rookies coming in for the minicamp this week or is that not going to be until the following week?
A: They may run into each other a little bit on Thursday afternoon, but we’ll get the vets out of here and then bring the rookies—have everything be a little bit separate, but nothing formal.
Q: Once the rookies get here, they’re here?
A: The following Monday, they’ll be intermixed, yes.
MEDIA Q&A WITH LINEBACKER B.J. GOODSON:
Q: Where were you when you learned the news that you were going to be a New York Giant?
A: I’m home right in Lamar, South Carolina. I’m just excited, man…excited and ready to go to work.
Q: You visited the Giants—pre-draft visit, correct?
A: Yes sir, yes sir.
Q: What was your takeaway, your feeling after you left the facility?
A: Definitely wanted to be there. Definitely a legendary place…a place where football is very, very important. They talk about the New York Football Giants, man, and finding out how much that means to the city and the community…it’s really, really big.
Q: You talk about going to a place where a city is beloved…you come from a college where football is almost like a religion down there. What was it like playing at Clemson? What was it like helping Clemson rise on the national stage and getting them eventually to the national title game?
A: It was destined to happen. It was empowering, as far as my leadership and helping those guys win all of the games that we won and having the phenomenal year that we had. Definitely just a blessing. I really, really enjoyed the ride. I’m ready to see where this journey will take me in New York. I’m ready.
Q: The draft list had you listed as an outside linebacker. Is that what you would classify yourself as or you think you’re a guy who can play inside as well?
A: Inside as well, can play inside as well. Great help on special teams. I’m ready to get with the veterans and get up under their wings and learn as much as I can and get ready to help that team get ready to win another Super Bowl.
Q: When you visited, did the Giants mention to you what they kind of envisioned you as?
A: Definitely a great linebacker. They saw me helping out on special teams. The special teams coach really likes me a lot. I really, really enjoyed the relationship with the linebackers coach. I really, really just fell in love with everything on my visit.
Q: Can you cover in the pass?
A: Yes sir, definitely. At Clemson I played as a three-down linebacker. It’s normal, it’s natural to me. To me, it’s not a question, just something I want to work on every day and just something to get better at, perfecting my craft. You can never be too satisfied or never not be hungry, there’s always room for improvement.
Q: What was behind the move to MIKE linebacker? Was that because there was an opening there? Is that where they thought you were a better fit for this past year?
A: No sir, that was home for me. I actually moved out to outside linebacker my junior year because Coach saw a fit. He saw how dedicated I was, he saw the talent in me, and he wanted to get me on the field. With having Stephone and Tony Steward, having those guys out there, just being able to get me out there with those guys. So I learned the SAM linebacker position, and then once Stephone left, I went back home to the MIKE position and it played out from there.
Q: What was it like working with a personality like Dabo Swinney?
A: Oh man, brings great, great energy. Fun, fun, fun coach to play for. That guy, he’s phenomenal, he’s about the right things. I don’t have nothing but great things to say about Coach Swinney. He’s a great guy off the field, I love Coach Swinney.
Q: What does B.J. stand for?
A: B.J. is a name that was given to me from my mother. My first name is Billy, my middle name is Javaris. My mother, she just wanted to call me B.J. It was something that just stuck with me from a kid.
MEDIA Q&A WITH RUNNING BACK PAUL PERKINS:
Perkins: I’m just honored to be here and going to New York. This is awesome. I can’t even put this into words right now.
Q: Did you have any sense it would be the Giants and it would be now?
A: I had no idea. I can’t even really put this into words right now. Sorry if I’m speechless.
Q: What do you think you bring to an NFL team?
A: I think I can bring it all. I can definitely come in there with hard work and definitely come in there with the mentality to improve the team.
Q: How has UCLA head coach Jim Mora Jr. prepared you for the NFL?
A: Our whole coaching staff was NFL-ready and they prepared us very well. All the way from coach Mora to the running backs coach to our (graduate assistants), they all did a tremendous job. I’m thankful for them.
Q: What has your interaction been with the Giants during this process?
A: I only talked to them one time. I think it was last week and they were just checking if this was the right number.
Q: Was that sort of the norm?
A: It was the norm. I was getting a lot of calls from a lot of teams with the same type of questioning. I’m glad I got this one. This is the best one so far.
Q: Someone compared you to a poor man’s Tiki Barber.
A: Tiki Barber is not a bad person to get compared to. He’s been a great running back for a long time. I idolized him growing up and to be compared in the same breath as him is an honor.
Q: Do you see the skill set similarities?
A: We’re similar. I’m not sure how tall or big he was, but I feel like we’re about the same height and we have the same type of abilities.
Q: How much did UCLA use you catching the ball out of the backfield and how much is that a part of your game?
A: I think I can be utilized in the passing game. I just need a team to utilize me like that and I feel like the Giants will use me to my full capabilities.
Q: Are you going to give Owa Odighizuwa a call after you’re done with us?
A: I was actually talking to Owa not too long ago. I FaceTimed him. Now I just can’t wait to go up there.
Q: Did he tell you anything about the Giants?
A: No. He said he would call me back because he had to do something. He’s going to call me back in a little while after I get off the phone with you guys. We’ll chat it up.
Q: You FaceTimed him after you got picked here?
A: I did, right afterwards.
Q: I assume you’re pretty close with him?
A: All of the NFL players do a good job of coming back and talking to the younger players and Owa just happened to be one of the players that helped me and mentored me.
Q: How does it feel to be selected immediately after one of the guys who blocked for you in Caleb Benenoch?
A: It was awesome. I’m honestly speechless right now. I’m feeling great right now.
Q: Do you think you can be an every down, between the tackles runner, as well?
A: Yes sir. I think I can do it all. There’s a lot of great running backs. I feel like I can do it all.
MEDIA Q&A WITH TIGHT END JERELL ADAMS:
Q: Did you meet with the Giants at the Senior Bowl or was it later in the process?
A: The last time I met with the Giants was at the combine.
Q: Did you have a good amount of contact with them?
A: I had a formal interview with them and it went great and they said they liked me and they drafted me.
Q: Do you consider yourself an all-around tight end or more of a pass catcher?
A: I feel like I am more of an all-around tight end. I feel like I can block very well and catch very well.
Q: What was your expectation coming into the draft and what was it like having to sit there and wait until this point today?
A: My expectations coming into the draft were just to get drafted. I was blessed to go through the process and I am just happy to have gone through it and to get drafted by the Giants.
Q: Where were you when you found out you were going to become a New York Giant?
A: I was at home, at my mama’s house.
Q: What was the raw feeling you felt when you picked up that phone?
A: It was the best feeling ever. It was a phone call I was waiting for forever. It was a dream come true.
Q: When you look on the surface at your numbers, people don’t see huge numbers. What do you attribute that to?
A: Honestly, I didn’t have the progress yet that I wanted at South Carolina because of the quarterback situation but I felt like I made the best out of it and did what I could do.
Q: How would you describe yourself as a player?
A: I feel like I can block very well and catch very well. My weakness, I would say is me coming out of my breaks out of my routes. I can use some improvement on that but there is always work to be done, no matter how good you may think you are.
Q: You really did well at the combine athletically. Was that one of your goals for this process? To kind of show that your numbers were not indicative of your ability.
A: Yes, sir, that was my goal for the Senior Bowl and the combine, to just show how athletic and how good I felt I was. At the Senior Bowl and combine, I just felt like I had a chance to show them how good I am.
Q: Do you feel like you accomplished what you had to get done?
A: Yes, sir. I felt like I accomplished everything I needed to.
With the eighth pick in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected safety Darian Thompson from Boise State University.
SCOUTING REPORT: The 6’2”, 208-pound Thompson is a big, physical safety who lacks ideal overall athleticism and speed. Big hitter and aggressive in run support. He is an intelligent, disciplined, instinctive center-fielder against the pass who makes plays on the football (19 career interceptions). Plays faster than he times – smooth with no wasted motion. Hard working and competitive. Team leader.
MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE: (Video)
Reese: Darian Thompson, free safety, Boise State. Big kid, center fielder, checks a lot of boxes for us. We really like how he makes plays on the football. We think he’s a solid tackler back there. Makes the calls. Captain. High test score. A lot of things to like about him. Any questions?
Q: Was Darian once again at the top of your board?
A: There were a couple of guys we talked about right here with this pick…a couple guys.
Q: Did you like him because how he would team up with Landon Collins?
A: Well, we think he’s a free safety. He makes the calls back there for his team, he’s a ball hawk back there. We think he’s going to create a lot of competition in the secondary at that safety position. Looking forward to getting him in here.
Q: Does he free up Landon though to come down to the box?
A: Well, that’s up to the coaches…that’s up to Ben (McAdoo) and Steve (Spagnuolo), whatever they want to do with him. I think his skillset is a free safety skillset. I do think he’s a tough tackler, can come down in the box. I think he’s interchangeable. I think he’s one of those safeties that can do both.
Q: You don’t seem like you have a lot of guys on the roster with that kind of productivity as far as the interceptions, the guy gets the ball. Do you see that translating to the next level?
A: Well, we sure hope so. Never translate until you get them out there and they have to do it. But we sure think he has a skillset to do that. Again, he checks a lot of boxes for us.
Q: You said there were a couple guys in this one…what was it about him that sort of pushed him over the top?
A: It was just the guys we have there…we thought where we are right now and the skillset we’re looking for, we thought he had the best skillset at this point.
Q: Now that this round is done and your top three players are in the books, will you go into tomorrow—I hate to say it—just looking for the best available player?
A: We’re always looking for value and need…we’re always trying to couple those two things together. We try our best to get that.
Q: Does “need” mean you’ll be looking for an offensive lineman?
A: We’re going to look for the best player. We’re going to try to couple value with need.
Q: Do you feel like you have to get an offensive lineman with one of those last three picks, maybe not in one specific one, but you’d like one of those three picks to come away with that position?
A: No, we just feel like we can try to get a value pick and a need pick as well. Whatever we think the value is and what we think the need is, we can try to couple those things together.
Q: What are the chances of you guys making some sort of trade to earn yourselves another pick tonight?
A: We’ll keep all our options open.
Q: Have you had many phone calls tonight?
A: We’ve made phone calls, we’ve taken phone calls, yeah.
Q: Were you close to a trade before the second round pick?
A: I don’t think we were close to a trade. I can’t remember that far back.
MEDIA Q&A WITH VICE PRESIDENT OF PLAYER EVALUATION MARC ROSS: (Video)
Q: Did you see Darian Thompson in person?
A: I saw him in practice in the Senior Bowl and in the Combine.
Q: What makes him different from the other guys you have that are going to compete for that free safety spot.
A: We have a nice mix of guys who all have something different. Nat’s a box guy and real competitive. Mykkele’s a free range guy. This guy’s a free safety who can also play strong. He plays that way there. He has good ball skills, feel for the game, competitiveness and size. So they all give you something different.
Q: Do you project how he will play and how he will play off of Landon?
A: Sure. What we like is that this guy has played strong safety and the linebacker position, so they move him all around. His versatility definitely was intriguing.
Q: When it comes down to final two guys at the end, for you, what was the determining factor?
A: When you talk them through, you try to highlight the positives. And it comes down to who has the most positives in their profile on and off the field.
Q: I’m not sure of the history of all the other safeties, but this guy has more interceptions than any of them.
A: Yes, he has a ton of them, more than a lot of guys who have played.
Q: You talked yesterday about interceptions being a random statistic. What makes this guy different?
A: This guy’s a ball hawk. His instincts are what separates. He can anticipate where a route is, where a ball is going and he jumps on it. And that’s what distinguishes him with making interceptions.
Q: How is he in coverage in general?
A: You don’t want him covering quick slot guys. He’s better in zone using the field. He’s got some range, so that’s the optimal way to use him.
Q: Is it hard to rate him because she’s not a big conference guy?
A: Boise State is a big time program. They’re a different mid-major. They’re big time, so they’ve had players, first round picks, the whole deal. They’re up there with all of the other upper echelon teams.
Q: Was there anything that was different about how these two days unfolded, compared to the past?
A: No. Get up there, stack em up, talk about em and pick em. There’s nothing out of the ordinary.
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.
McAdoo: Darian Thompson, another good, smart player from a winning program, fortunate to have him, excited for him to get here.
Q: When you see 19 career interceptions, that must make your eyes light up a little?
A: Yeah, he is very instinctive. He has tremendous ball skills, but the instincts and the twitch make it happen for him.
Q: Is there a flip side to that? Sometimes a ball-hawking safety can be a gambling safety. Does he gamble sometimes?
A: I think it is more of instincts. He may have a little bit of a gambler in him, but I think it is more off of instincts.
Q: What is your role here with guys in the middle rounds? How much have you conversed with them?
A: It is more off of film study with Darian. I studied Darian on a couple different occasions with some film off of a point of attack tape and off of game film and he is someone that jumped out at me. High character guy, good ball skills, he can tackle in the open field and he plays in a variety of roles. He can play back in the post, he can play back in split safety looks and he can play down in the slot — he did that a lot in their fire zones.
Q: Jerry talked about there being a couple guys there with this pick. What differentiated Darian from those other picks?
A: Well, we had a cluster of guys there we were looking at. To me, the instincts, the twitch, very smart player, high character guy, fits what we are looking for that way and the ability to get the ball back to the offense and change the game that way. The game is about the ball and he can get the offense the ball.
Q: Are you hoping that if his skillset translates quickly enough that you can move Landon Collins more to strong safety?
A: We need to get them both in here and look at them. I think Landon had a nice camp this week. [He] did some nice things back deep and we feel that he is growing and doing a nice job there improving and I don’t think you can say always and never in this business.
Q: Is this any type of statement about the other guys you have at safety?
A: Oh, we have a lot of young guys in the safety mix and quite frankly, we haven’t seen them. They have been nicked up. They basically had a medical redshirt type year last year and it is good to get them back out there, they are working to get back out and get back out 100% so we are chomping at the bit to look at those guys and Darian is a guy we are going to throw into the mix and let them all compete.
Q: When you say he has a twitch, what do you mean?
A: He can stick his foot in the ground and go zero to sixty real quick.
Q: We saw Mykkele Thompson playing in the slot the other day. How much of that is planned for him and how much of that is because you guys are short on corners?
A: Probably a combination of both. We are going to look at guys in a variety of different roles. Mykklele is a guy who has played corner and has played safety and it is always nice to have some flexibility and versatility there.
Q: Is Darian as big as you are going to want him?
A: I think he is a pretty good size right now but I think that when they get here and they obviously have training table where they are coming from at Boise, but when they have a chance to get a little bit of money in their pocket and eat properly, their body composition usually changes a little bit.
Q: Can you use him perhaps as a surprise pass rusher?
A: We are going look at him in a variety of roles right there. I am not going to give you the keys to the kingdom as far as how he is going to show up on game day, but yeah, he is a versatile guy.
MEDIA Q&A WITH DARIAN THOMPSON:
Q: Darian, congratulations.
A: I appreciate that, thank you very much. I’m extremely blessed and excited to get out there and get to work.
Q: Are you at home right now?
A: I am, I’m in California—a little ways away, but I’m ready…I’m ready to make that trip.
Q: Where were you when you found out that you had been selected?
A: I’m back at home in Lancaster, California in the backyard at my girlfriend’s just wondering when the phone call was going to come through, and it happened. It’s truly a blessing and I’m extremely excited about it.
Q: How often did you meet with the Giants prior to tonight?
A: A couple of times, not too often. Not too often, but a couple of times. When I did, it went well. I’m excited that they pulled the trigger on me. I’m sure that they’re excited as well.
Q: If you had to summarize your skillset, what makes you unique from other candidates?
A: First of all, I’m an extremely smart football player. I know how to study film and diagnose plays and put myself in the right spot in order to make plays and make turnovers. I think that’s what I do best. I have a knack for the football, and I feel like an interception is just as much as a touchdown, so that’s what I’m going after.
Q: They used you in a lot of different ways when you were in college. Did you have a specific niche, if you will, out of all the things they asked you to do that you really liked?
A: No, not specific things that I liked. I honestly just like being out there on the field, being able to compete and have fun with the game that I love. So there’s no one thing that I liked over another, just being out there is perfectly fine with me.
Q: A lot of times when somebody gets picked, there’s maybe a veteran starter or somebody who’s already entrenched in that job. It seems like at this point it’s pretty wide open for you. What are your thoughts coming into this season and into camp once you get here?
A: Like I said, I’m extremely blessed to be there. When I get in there, have my best foot forward and just continue to work. I believe I have a great work ethic and nothing’s going to change from that, so whatever happens when I get there, it just happens. I’m excited; I’m going to give it all I have and see what happens when I get out there.
Q: Was that depth chart something that you noticed when the Giants called or when you were thinking about one of 32 landing spots?
A: It kind of didn’t really matter…because I know the type of player that I am. I know that I’m going to come in there and I’m going to work, regardless of whether there’s a veteran in front of me or not. I know I’ll be able to contribute to the team in multiple ways, so I was happy with that.
Q: Have you had a chance to watch the Giants in recent years?
A: I have had a chance to watch the Giants, and they’re always a good football team. To be able to get out there and play with some of those guys that we see all the time on TV and commercials and things like that, and to be a part of the team and to help them achieve their goal of winning the Super Bowl, is just awesome to me.
Q: You were at what is arguably the most renowned mid-major team in the country at Boise State. Can you talk about what it was like being with that team with the national spotlight on you guys? Can you talk about what is probably the biggest lesson you learned in your years with the Broncos?
A: Yeah, Boise State is a great program. Everybody on that team has a chip on their shoulder because they weren’t picked or chosen to go to a bigger school, so everybody has an attitude and everybody has a chip on their shoulder like I was talking about. I still have that chip. Regardless of where I would have gone tonight, or tomorrow, or whenever it would have been, I would have that chip. I’m just excited to bring it to New York. I’m excited to bring it to the Giants and to see what happens from there.
Q: How surprised were you that this ended up being the landing spot?
A: I was pretty surprised. Pretty surprised…and I’m happy. This is the one place I thought before the draft that I could end up, and I’m happy that it happened to be there.
Q: Why’d you think that?
A: Just agent talk and things of that sort. They say, “Maybe this, maybe that.” Nothing’s ever set in stone, and as we see, the draft can go in all different types of ways. I’m happy where I am now, I couldn’t be more excited. Like I said earlier, I’m just ready to get to work.
With the ninth pick in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected wide receiver Sterling Shepard from the University of Oklahoma.
SCOUTING REPORT: The 5’10”, 194-pound Shepard may lack ideal size, but he was arguably the best slot wide receiver available in the draft. Shepard is a very strong, extremely quick, and super-productive receiver with good speed. He plays bigger than his size due to his strength and excellent leaping ability. Shepard is an excellent route runner who knows how to get open. Sudden and creates separation. He is tough, fearless, and super-competitive. He attacks the football and has excellent hands. Runs well after the catch. Shepard has an outstanding work ethic and plays with a chip on his shoulder. He has experience returning punts.
MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE: (Video)
Reese: Sterling Shepard, wide receiver, Oklahoma. Slot receiver. Has some return specialist to him. Terrific competitor. Just everything you want in a slot wide receiver. Our coaches believe he can play on the outside as well. The highest player on our board. I know you guys think I’m kidding when I say that, but highest player on our board, and an easy pick for us. Had a couple more names around that we liked as well, but it was too much value for us to pass this guy up. We think he’s going to come in and he’s NFL-ready —ready to play right now. He’ll be right in our receiver corps, and get a lot of competition in there, we hope. Any questions?
Q: Is he a little bit like a young Victor Cruz?
A: Yeah, some of scouts—that name came up when our scout group talked about him. That’s one of the names that came up, a young Victor Cruz. Very similar in some ways, body type. The one thing about this kid is he’s 5’10 and some change, but his strike zone—what we call a strike zone—is bigger than that. He’s got a 41-inch vertical jump, he’s got big hands…he’s a tenacious slot receiver, run after the catch. Get the ball to him quick and he does some nice things after that catch as well. Yeah, Victor Cruz was one of the names that came up.
Q: Does that worry you at all? Is that anything you guys even think about? Obviously Victor is a smaller guy, Odell plays bigger but under six foot, now a third guy under six foot.
A: You’d like to have all of them 6’5 that run 4.4 and all that, but it’s just not the way it is all the time. I think that there’s a lot of tall receivers in the Hall of Fame that probably never even played in a Super Bowl, if you look at that history. We think he’s plenty tall enough, and we think he’s a terrific young receiver.
Q: You said he’s NFL-ready…what are some of the things he has picked up to be able to play?
A: He plays in the slot…he’s just crafty and knows how to get open in his routes. He has the quickness, the explosion in his route, the run after the catch, and the toughness to go over the middle, those kinds of things. Good bloodline, too; he’s been around football all his life.
MEDIA Q&A WITH VICE PRESIDENT OF PLAYER EVALUATION MARC ROSS: (Video)
Q: What did you like about Sterling Shepard as a player that drew you to him?
A: He’s a guy that you go to Oklahoma, especially over the last few years – you go to certain schools and there are young guys, and you think ‘Who is that guy?’ He’s been that guy at Oklahoma because he’s always made plays. He’s quick, athletic, competitive and savvy. He’s has been a playmaker for them since the time he stepped on campus.
Q: Does his height matter to you and how much do you take that into consideration?
A: You like 6’5”, 200 pounds and run a 4.4 and all that, but this guy overcomes his lack of height with his other skills. He’s got a 41-inch vertical. He’s competitive to the ball. His catch radius is bigger – he plays bigger than his actual size. His catch radius is where he can go up and get the ball. So short receivers who play small are our concern. Short receivers who play big are not a concern.
Q: On tape he looks very tough, like he could break a tackle. Do you see that as well?
A: He’s very tough. That’s the knock on the little guys. They’re tough, but can they play big? He does both. He is very tough. He’ll go inside with no fear, catch the ball, take the hit, make guys miss and keep going.
Q: Do you think his lack of height kept him out of the first round?
A: Maybe, it might have been a factor.
Q: He’s not a skinny guy, right?
A: He’s rocked up. He’s not a frail, short guy. He’s thick and muscled up.
Q: Is he the type of guy to run the entire route tree?
A: Yes, he runs it all. The offense they run at Oklahoma, he runs all the routes, unlike some other college systems where they run up the field and turn around. This guy runs an NFL route tree.
Q: Everyone is saying he’s a young Victor Cruz, who wasn’t drafted. Do you see that?
A: It’s been thrown around. It’s been in our meetings. The comparison has come up. The stature, the quickness, the toughs, the ‘make you miss’ – those things are very similar. But I never like to say guys are the next somebody or compare them like that. But I can definitely see why the comparisons are made.
Q: You said that Shepard was the one you wanted. Were the first eight who went ahead of him not as important to you as he was?
A: All of the players are important. We stacked the board the way we like the guys and the way we think they’re going to fall. Obviously the first round is kind of predictable. The second round is predictable. But once you start getting into the third round, it just goes all over the place. But we stack our guys and say: first round, we like this group of guys, second round we like this guy. But coming into today, this was a guy we really liked to get.
Q: What does it say about how the league has changed, when your first two picks are nickel corner back and slot receiver?
A: It’s basketball on grass. Guys throw the ball. You need athletes getting in space. You still need to block. You’ve got to protect. But the more athletes you have out there, the better. It’s not ground and pound anymore. We throw the ball and a lot of teams do that.
Q: Was Shepard the top-rated receiver you had on your board since the start of the draft?
A: Probably not.
Q: Was this a guy you had your eye on prior to this year’s draft process?
A: Yes. He’s a senior, which is rare. You never see a top player stay for all four years. He had a nice body of work, as opposed to a junior who does one year and comes out of nowhere. This guy has done it for a few years. So when you go to Oklahoma, you always hear about Sterling Shepard – the guy who makes plays.
Q: Do you wait for positioning as you move along in the draft to get a specific position player?
A: We always try to match the need and the value, so hopefully we have a group of guys of equal value and need. We’ll take those guys.
Q: Did someone from the scouting department see all of Oklahoma’s games last season? Either in person or on film?
A: Yes, throughout our process, we had three scouts that go there. We break it down to early, middle and late, where our scouts go in and watch film that particular time of year. I immerse myself in the tape; Jerry, the receivers coach, as well. We’ve pretty much seen anything this guy has done.
Q: Was there any particular game that made him pop out?
A: The Tennessee game. That’s a quintessential game if you want to see what he’s all about. They were down and he’s making big touchdowns at the end to win the game.
Q: How instrumental was Ben McAdoo in the process given he’s an offensive coach?
A: No more than any other one. He was instrumental in that he liked him, which makes it good.
Q: Do you see Shepard augmenting or helping a guy like Odell Beckham Jr. go to another level?
A: I hope so. The more playmakers you have around a guy like Odell, the better. You want to double Odell, this guy will kill you. If he’s healthy, that’s a nice scenario for us.
Q: Is the goal of the draft to find a guy to complement Odell?
A: We definitely had our eye on the receiver position.
Q: Does it concern you that a guy you had your eye on has a big Senior Bowl week?
A: Without a doubt. That’s happened in the past, where we think we had a guy who wasn’t as highly rated as you think he is and then he blows up at the combine or the Senior Bowl. Then everyone jumps on him.
Q: Do you hope that doesn’t happen when you have a guy you like?
A: Yes, for sure, especially the combine. You like a guy, then he blows it out and becomes a combine superstar. Then it’s over with for you.
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?
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: What are you looking to get out of your final four selections?
A: The highest guy on the board.
Q: You said the no-huddle with help him a little bit?
A: Yeah, I think it streamlines things as far as the information that they get and how they get it. It is a little more visual than it is verbal and some guys learn a little easier that way.
Q: He made a big jump between 2014 and 2015. Is there anything that you saw on film with that? Maybe a better quarterback?
A: I think the natural maturation of a young player and their quarterback play was better this year. That is a good point.
Q: How is he as a blocker?
A: He gets after you. I like that. He is a complete player. He is not a finesse guy by any stretch of the imagination.
MEDIA Q&A WITH STERLING SHEPARD:
Q: When you found out you were drafted by the Giants, how much did you think about playing with Odell Beckham Jr?
A: I mean that’s one of the guys I look at. I look at (Beckham’s) game every week and I try to pattern my game after him. I was excited to be able to get drafted by the New York Giants and be able to play alongside him, as well as Victor Cruz—another guy that I look at, too. I’m excited.
Q: Odell Beckham recently tweeted out that the Giants got themselves a good receiver or something like that. How does that make you feel to get the Odell Beckham Jr seal of approval?
A: That’s always good. He’s now a teammate so I’m excited to be alongside of him, like I said. To have his approval is great, it’s a great feeling.
Q: How much contact did you have with the New York Giants coming into tonight? Did they talk to you at all at the Combine at all? Did you interview with them?
A: No, that’s the funny part. I hadn’t talked to them very much at all. I went to the Combine, I went to the Senior Bowl and I hadn’t talked to them at all. I think I may have filled out a questionnaire, but that was about it.
Q: You had some good times over at Oklahoma…you had one of college football’s best coaches, Bob Stoops, helping you out down there. How did it feel to play at such an elite program, a program that was nationally recognized and made the college football playoff? How did the experience at Oklahoma prepare you for the NFL?
A: It’s a huge program, and it comes along with a lot of history. A lot of the guys that came before you that made a name for that program, so it was an honor to play there. I got to play after my father and wear the same number as him. It was an honor to put that jersey on every week and go out and give them my all. I loved it, I loved my experience at Oklahoma.
Q: A lot of people here with the Giants know Victor Cruz very well and say you remind them a lot of him. Do you see some of that?
A: Yeah. Like I said, that’s one of the guys that I look at a lot. Victor Cruz is a great receiver…we’re kind of the same size, same stature. I definitely look up to that guy. I can see some similarities.
Q: Do you consider yourself a slot receiver or do you think you’re a guy who can play on the outside? What would you call yourself?
A: Honestly, I play so big, I don’t limit myself to just the inside. A lot of people think that that’s all I can do is play inside just because of my size, but I think guys like Odell and Victor have proven that that’s not the case. I’m definitely one of those guys that can be bounced around and move all around.
Q: Is that something that motivates you — that people look at your size and pigeon hole you as just a slot receiver?
A: Yeah, man. I listen to it and I take it in and move on because I know what I can do. Just gives me a little bit more fire.
Q: Do you know Odell? Do you have any relationship with him? Have you ever met him?
A: No…I mean we have some mutual friends—Kenny Stills—those guys know each other. But no, I’ve never met him or anything like that.
Q: What do you anticipate with that when you do get to meet him?
A: It’s going to be like we’re going straight to work. Everybody is ready to work. I feel like we’ll click when I get there.
Q: In what ways do you feel like you benefitted from going all the way through your senior year as a player and a student-athlete?
A: One, I got my degree…that’s one of the things I’ve always wanted to accomplish since I was a little kid, is graduating from Oklahoma, so I was able to accomplish that. Then I got to mature just as a young man. I got to accomplish those two things. As a player, I got to get bigger and stronger and faster. Coach Smitty does a great job with the weight program and the conditioning, so I just developed.
With the tenth pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected 6’1”, 199-pound cornerback Eli Apple from Ohio State University.
SCOUTING REPORT: Third-year sophomore who turns 21 in August. Apple started 27-of-28 games for the Buckeyes. Apple combines good size with excellent overall athletic ability, speed, and quickness. He has the physical tools and plays a physical game. He demonstrates very good aggressive man coverage skills and makes plays on the football (22 pass defenses the past two seasons). However, Apple needs to improve his overall coverage technique and reading routes. Apple makes a lot contact with receivers in coverage, drawing flags. He has a big upside.
MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE: (Video)
Reese: Eli Apple, cornerback, Ohio State. A really good, young player. Height, weight, speed. Big school. Only 20 years old. Has all the tools. He holds all the tools to be a starter. He was the highest graded player on our board, beyond the guys with issues. I’ll take any questions about Eli.
Q: Did you take Tunsil off your board after the video?
A: I’m not talking about that. I’m not talking about who’s on our board, who’s off our board.
Q: How surprising was it the way this played out?
A: We’ve got scouts who did a nice job with our board and the board came off very similar…the names came off very similar to how we had them stacked up.
Q: Was trading down ever a possibility?
A: I don’t know if it was ever a possibility. We got a call, we didn’t like it, and we stayed where we were.
Q: Was there ever a possibility to trade up?
A: Was there ever a possibility to trade up? There’s always a possibility to trade up if you want to pay the price to trade up. Yeah, there’s always a possibility to do that.
Q: Was the price too high?
A: Yeah, absolutely the price was too high.
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: Did you have to alter your board at the last minute here today?
A: I tell you guys every year…every year during the draft, something funny happens. It’s no different this year.
Q: I know you don’t want to speak specifics about players you might take of the board, but you said “the highest player on our board, beyond the guys with issues.
A: I’m not calling anybody’s name. I said just beyond the guys who had some issues, he was the highest guy on our board. It’s not fair to call anybody’s name.
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: When the Bears traded up, did you assume that that’s who they were going for?
A: Well, you never know. You never know what guys do. People can say, “Yeah, we knew or we thought something was going to happen.” There were some possibilities that it could happen, but it happened and we’re not looking back.
Q: You go through scenarios non-stop in the days leading up to the draft. Is this one that you went through?
A: We try to go through every scenario.
Q: Did you go through this one?
A: Yeah, we try to go through every scenario.
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: If teams were willing to deal tonight, perhaps if you got another first round pick, would you entertain the offer?
A: We keep all our options open.
Q: Eli Apple was talked about recently in the last 24-48 hours and referred to by an anonymous scout questioning his life skills. Is that anything that you guys worried about?
A: You hear everything. It’s all people talk about, the draft, it’s a phenomenon now. Half the stuff people we’re talking about, they don’t know what they’re talking about. There’s stuff spewed all over the place. We listen to our scouts, we do the work. Hey, this guy is a good player, he’s clean. We don’t have any issues with him.
Q: Do you care about his cooking?
A: I don’t care about his cooking.
Q: Can you clear up the perception about whether you could have gotten him further down in the round?
A: You can always say that and you’ll say, “We’ll be cute and we’ll move back,” and the next pick is the guy you want. You can always speculate on about where you could have got him. People might say, “Well, they could have moved back later and got him.” Nobody knows that…nobody knows that.
Q: Eli has some great experience on college football’s biggest stage. He was the MVP of the 2016 Fiesta Bowl, he has a Big Ten championship, he has a college football national championship. How much did that play into your decision?
A: All that’s part of the equation, but what he does on the field, how he played, he’s a big time player, big time program. He’s 20, he’s got a huge upside, he was the highest player on our board, it’s a need pick. We’re very happy to have Eli Apple on the New York Giants football team.
MEDIA Q&A WITH VICE PRESIDENT OF PLAYER EVALUATION MARC ROSS: (Video)
Q: Did the draft unfold the way you expected?
A: We plan out scenarios basically the last couple of days leading up to the draft with how we think it will play out and who we’ll be comfortable drafting. It just played out kind of like we thought it would.
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: Did you think there were going to be a couple of teams that would trade up ahead of you before you picked?
A: We don’t worry about what other people do or think or plan. We do our plan. We do our work. We’ve got great scouts. The coaches are heavily involved. We do a lot of planning. We’re comfortable with how we do it and it’s what we thought would happen.
Q: Were you comfortable sitting at the 10th pick or did you consider trading up?
A: No. We were comfortable sitting right there. That’s part of the thing that gets discussed the last few days. Should we move up? But this guy is here. Should we move down? What happens there? This was a scenario where we were comfortable just sitting right there where we were.
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: One of the surprises of the draft was Laremy Tunsil sitting at 10. Was his video a factor?
A: We factor everything in.
Q: What about Myles Jack?
A: We factor everything in.
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: If someone sees this as a reach, what would you say?
A: We’ve heard it before. We’ve taken other players that (were called) a reach. Nobody knows. If you get a dime for every expert, I could retire. Come on. Experts? People analyze. People have opinions. What’s it based on? Nobody has seen the tape. Nobody goes to practice. Nobody puts in the work like the scouts do. It’s easy to second-guess and pick and say get everybody’s pick right and tell them what they should do, but you’ve just got to put in the work and trust what you do.
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.
MEDIA Q&A WITH ELI APPLE:
Q: Did you think the Giants at number 10 could be a possibility?
A: Not really, honestly. They talked to me one time at the combine, but that was about it. It’s kind of crazy to see myself on the screen (at) like number 10 and all that stuff, but I’m excited.
Q: You’re going to have a chance to work with a great coaching staff here in New York. Who have you talked to so far and how confident are you that you can contribute immediately to this team?
A: I’m very confident. I talked to the defensive coordinator and a couple of the other guys as well on the phone. They’re just very excited to have me come, and I am as well.
Q: How does it feel to be part of something that’s absolutely historic right now going on at Ohio State? So many guys being picked in the first round here…
A: It’s the greatest feeling. Those are guys that you battle with, guys that have just been through so much. So to see us succeed right now and go through all this good stuff is a great celebration.
Q: I know it’s 90 minutes or so from where you grew up, but you’re kind of coming home.
A: I know.
Q: Did you think about that at all?
A: Yeah, that was like the first thing I thought about. When I saw them calling me and it was a New Jersey number, it looked kind of familiar. I didn’t know if I had to pick it up. I was like, “Oh my goodness, this is probably one my friends trying to prank call me.” My mom was like, “Yeah, don’t pick it up.” My coach was like, “What you mean? Pick it up.” So I pick it up and it was one of the Giants coaches and I was very happy.
Q: When you picked it up first were you worried it could still be a prank?
A: Yeah, I was just a little guarded like, “Okay, this better be a coach or something.” I didn’t know who it was, but then it was the dude from the Giants, so I was very happy.
Q: Who was it? Do you remember who it was?
A: I believe it was the head coach, McAdoo.
Q: You said you were surprised…did you ever think you’d go this high?
A: I didn’t know where I was going to go, honestly, you hear a lot of things. My sister was telling my all the different stuff, my parents were telling me all this different stuff…you never know. I was just playing it by ear, just expecting everything.
Q: How do you see yourself fitting in right away with this team and this defense? Have you given yourself an opportunity to look over the depth chart, look at the names, see the guys who are here?
A: Yeah, I got it. It’s DRC, it’s going to be Janoris Jenkins. I’m excited to get with those guys and really get to work and try to build a great secondary and be legendary, that’s the goal.
Q: You had a couple of sort of weird controversial things come up in your pre-draft process back at the Combine and then again yesterday. What was it like to go through that and be at the center of those couple of things?
A: It’s all good. That’s the part of the process, I knew it was going to be crazy. I didn’t think it was going to be like this crazy, but now that it’s over, I’m happy. I can’t wait to start playing football and do something I actually love to do, so I’m excited.
Q: What’d you think of the cooking comment when you first saw it?
A: I just laughed at it…it was something very funny. You don’t think too much of it, it’s just something funny, I guess. It’s whatever.
Q: Do you know where that came from? Did you mention that to anybody in an interview or something?
A: No, I never talked about it. I never talked about it. It’s weird.
Q: You’re from Voorhees…were you an Eagles fan?
A: I was not an Eagles fan, I was kind of a fan of a lot of players. My dad was an Eagles fan, he still is a little bit, but he’s not going to be for too long. I wasn’t really a fan of anybody.
Q: Have you talked to Urban Meyer at all since the selection?
A: Of course. He was showing me good love, he told me he loved me and everything after I got selected. So yeah, he talked to me.
Q: Have you ever played in the slot. If so, how much and when and where?
A: Only when I was tracking the number one receiver. So I played it a couple times, and that’s something I can be comfortable in. As long as I’m out there on the field playing man or playing anything—just playing corner, playing football—I’m cool.
Q: They joked about your name a little bit as being suited for being here, obviously with Eli Manning but also the Big Apple. What are your thoughts about that? I would imagine it would make for some attractive headlines.
A: Yeah, of course. I guess it fit. Changing my name coming out of high school and now being drafted by the New York Giants, going to the Big Apple, it’s definitely going to mean a lot.
Q: The NFC East has a lot of elite receivers—you’ve got Dez Bryant, you’ve got Jason Witten, you’ve got Pierre Garcon, you’ve got Jordan Reed, you’ve got Jordan Matthews. How do you think playing in the Big Ten against some pretty good offenses prepared you for that?
A: That definitely will prepare me a lot, just going against great guys, especially in practice as well, like Michael Thomas. A lot of the guys in the Big Ten, they’re physical and that’s how the receivers in the NFC East are. I think I’ll be ready.
VICTOR CRUZ SAYS HE’S 100 PERCENT… NJ.com spoke with New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz on Friday. Cruz did not play in any preseason or regular-season games in 2015. Cruz was placed on Injured Reserve in November 2015 due to a left calf injury suffered in August that never healed and required surgery. It was the third leg injury that Cruz has suffered since signing his big 6-year contract in July 2013, including arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in 2013 and career-threatening patellar tendon surgery on his right knee in 2014.
“I’m feeling great,” said Cruz. “Workouts have been going amazing. Each day, it gets better and better. I’m excited to continue to train, continue that pattern, and see where it takes me…I’m 100 percent. I feel good. No injuries, no ailments, nothing hurts, no pain.
“This offseason program is using the OTA days as building blocks. We’re using these days to build up as we go along, and then when I go on my own (in the summer), my personal trainer will have a rapport with the Giants staff in order to keep that building block process going. By training camp, I should be pretty much ready to go.”
GIANTS EXPRESSED INTEREST IN JOSH NORMAN… National Football Post reported that the New York Giants were one of nine teams that expressed interest in unrestricted free agent cornerback Josh Norman (Carolina Panthers). The Panthers recently removed their Franchise designation from Norman. However, the Washington Redskins signed Norman to a 5-year, $75 million contract on Friday.
JERRY REESE’S 2016 PRE-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE…
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 Giants.com):
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?
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.
JERRY REESE, BEN MCADOO, AND STEVE TISCH TALK GIANTS…
New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese, Head Coach Ben McAdoo, and Chairman/Executive Vice President Steve Tisch each weighed in on the team’s offseason at the NFL spring meetings in Florida on Monday.
Thus far, the Giants have signed defensive end Olivier Vernon (5-Years, $85 million), defensive tackle Damon Harrison (5-years, $46.25 million), and cornerback Janoris Jenkins (5-years, $62.5 million) to high-priced deals from other teams. The Giants have also signed linebacker Keenan Robinson (1-Year, $3.5 million) and re-signed defensive Jason Pierre-Paul (1-Year, $10.5 million) and linebacker Jasper Brinkley (1-Year).
“It’s all on paper,” said Reese. “They’ve got to get out there and play. We haven’t done anything yet. We haven’t won a game since we got those guys. We were 6-10 last year, that’s all I know. We just have to get better. Talk is cheap. There’s nothing for me to talk about…We had the money this time. You can be aggressive when you have the money…We’re off to a good start.”
“They’re good fits, not just good players,” said McAdoo of the new defensive free agents. “They’re guys who can come in and make an impact, who are young and have a lot of energy, and are excited to be a part of it…(Vernon) jumped off the tape as much as anybody we’ve seen going into a game. He offers a lot as far as getting after the quarterback, but he’s a complete player as well.”
“Jerry put the vision together, gotta give him credit,” McAdoo said. “(Assistant General Manager) Kevin (Abrams) put the contracts together, gotta give him credit. And there was great support from the ownership.”
McAdoo was also asked about if Ereck Flowers will remain at left tackle. “I’m excited for Ereck to develop as a left tackle,” McAdoo said. “Nothing is ever written in stone, but for him to go out there and battle the way he did as a rookie and have a chance to improve on his fundamentals and technique, we look forward to him developing there.”
McAdoo was asked if the team will be adding an offensive lineman in free agency. “We’re looking at every position, not just offensive linemen,” responded McAdoo. “It’s important that you don’t just find starters, you find depth out there. We’ll take help at any position we can get it.”
“I’m excited,” Tisch said. “I think it’s the right time to make these moves, these acquisitions. I think it’s sort of a perfect storm of new head coach, a lot of money to spend and some great players to bring onto the Giants, so I’m excited, I’m very excited. I think it’s going to make everybody from ownership on down excited about the 2016 season. I think you’ll see the enthusiasm at training camp, I think in the locker room, I think on the field. I know that Eli (Manning) is very excited. I know a number of the other veteran players are excited. It’s all about the fans, and the fans are thrilled. If we can improve this club in 2016, I can’t think of anything that’s going to make the fans and the Giants family happier.
“Clearly, the last couple of seasons we saw where we need to be better. Part of the way to be better is to get better players, get a better sense of just how to put players on both sides of the ball that are going to have more impact and make the New York Giants a much more competitive team in the NFL. So the moves that Jerry made, I’m thrilled about. I couldn’t be happier. And the players that are coming onto the Giants this year seem not only to be athletically gifted, but really, really good people and really good guys.”
“It’s the cost of doing business in the NFL,” Tisch said of the expensive contracts. “No one’s buying wholesale. The retail prices are high and there’s a reason – it’s a market, it’s supply and demand. Like any other market, there’s a seller and there’s a buyer, and the price is determined by who’s going to pay for what. I’m not arguing about the amount of money we spent and the cost of what our players are costing us, I just hope we’ve got a group of guys that are going to play their hearts out and really be contributors and proud to be playing for the New York Giants.”
Tisch was also asked about the team’s new head coach.
“I think he’s a first-rate guy,” Tisch said. “It’s a little premature, because he’s been great for me and John Mara to deal with and for Jerry to deal with and for his coaches to work with. But until he gets those players in front of him – which is coming up pretty soon – that’s when his job really starts. But I think he’s going to a terrific, terrific head coach. I think he’s going to be a leader, I think he’s going to be accessible to the players. I happen to think that a head coach who’s 38 years old is a good thing, not a bad thing. What he lacks in experience I think makes up for by what he’s got in his brain, in his enthusiasm, in his passion. And he knows the game. He’s just a great communicator. And I love his enthusiasm; I think that has tremendous value.”
A video of Tisch’s remarks is available at Giants.com.
JEROME CUNNINGHAM AND ADAM GETTIS SIGN TENDERS… The National Football Post reports that tight end Jerome Cunningham and offensive guard Adam Gettis have signed their exclusive rights free agent tenders. Safety/cornerback Bennett Jackson signed his tender earlier this month. Other exclusive rights free agents who have yet to sign their tenders include running back Orleans Darkwa, wide receiver Myles White, tight end Will Tye, and punter Brad Wing.
Cunningham spent the first five weeks of the 2015 season on the 53-man roster, was waived and signed to the Practice Squad in October, and then re-signed to the 53-man roster in early November. In all, Cunningham played in nine games with three starts, catching eight passes for 59 yards. Cunningham played college football at Southern Connecticut State University from 2009-2012, but remained unsigned until the Giants signed him in August 2014.
The Giants signed Gettis from the Practice Squad of the Oakland Raiders in December 2015 and he was on the active roster for the regular-season finale. Gettis spent two stints on the Giants’ Practice Squad earlier in the 2015 season (September 6 – October 15 and October 21 – November 4) before signing with Oakland. Gettis was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. The Redskins waived Gettis in August 2014. The Giants signed him off of the Practice Squad of the Pittsburgh Steelers in December 2014.
JERRY REESE COMMENTS ON FREE AGENT SIGNINGS…
The New York Giants officially announced the signings of unrestricted free agent defensive end Olivier Vernon, defensive tackle Damon Harrison, and cornerback Janoris Jenkins on Thursday.
“We went into free agency hoping to find help to improve our defense,” General Manager Jerry Reese said. “We believe signing JPP (defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul), Snacks (Harrison), J.J. (Jenkins), and Olivier Vernon gives us a good start in that direction.”
The Giants signed the 25-year old Vernon to a 5-year, $85 million contract.
“Vernon is a young pass rusher with all the tools,” said Reese. “He makes plays, and he plays the game with an edge. We believe he’s right at the beginning of his prime and will continue to improve.”
“Watching the Giants in the past, they’ve been known for great defense and having great defensive players, especially on the defensive line,” Vernon said. “Hearing all those good things, and especially being in New York, and also being on the big show and playing the best of the best, I couldn’t turn it down.”
“The possibilities are what we make it,” Vernon said of the Giants’ defensive front.
The Giants signed the 27-year old Harrison to a 5-year, $46.25 million contract.
“Harrison is a powerful inside run stopper,” said Reese. “He holds the point of attack and makes plays, and he pushes the pocket against the pass more than he gets credit for.”
“On paper (our defensive front) looks awesome, but if we can’t come together and jell as a unit, it will just be four individuals trying to look good,” Harrison said. “I think with JPP and Big Hank (defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins) having played with each other before, and with Olivier and myself coming in and trying to jell with them – because this is their team – I’m going to be a part of what they have going on.”
The Giants signed the 27-year old Jenkins to a 5-year, $62.5 million contract.
“Jenkins challenges wide receivers, he competes, and he makes plays,” said Reese. “He has outstanding transition skills.”
“I heard a lot of things about (Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo), I think I’ll fit in great,” said Jenkins. “What he runs, I’ll try to fit into the scheme, and play it to the best of my ability. I prefer man-to-man, cover zero. As far as coach Spags, I’m just going to try to figure out the defense as he gives it to me, and get it down pat as much as possible and just go play and have fun.”
GIANTS.COM “INSIDER” PLAYER Q&As…
Video of exclusive Giants.com Q&A sessions with the following recently signed free agents is available at Giants.com: