Aug 162015
 
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Brandon Meriweather, Washington Redskins (October 12, 2014)

Brandon Meriweather – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 16, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held another training camp practice on Sunday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The full training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

GIANTS SIGN SAFETY BRANDON MERIWEATHER, WAIVE KICKER CHRIS BOSWELL…
The New York Giants have officially signed unrestricted free agent Brandon Meriweather, who has played with the New England Patriots (2007-10), Chicago Bears (2011), and Washington Redskins (2012-14). The 31-year old Meriweather is a two-time Pro Bowler (2009 and 2010) who has a history of being suspended by the NFL for illegal hits.

The Giants also waived place kicker Chris Boswell and placed safety Mykkele Thompson (torn Achilles’ tendon) on season-ending Injured Reserve. Because Thompson is not a vested veteran, he will continue to count toward the Club’s 90-man roster limit.

INJURY REPORT…
Wide receiver Rueben Randle (knee tendinitis), left tackle Will Beatty (PUP – pectoral), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (stiff neck), cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin), cornerback Chykie Brown (knee), cornerback Jayron Hosley (neck/concussion), safety Landon Collins (knee sprain), and safety Nat Berhe (calf strain) did not practice.

The Giants provided the following updates on those who did not practice:

  • WR Rueben Randle (day-to-day)
  • CB Prince Amukamara (day-to-day)
  • CB Chykie Brown (week-to-week)
  • CB Jayron Hosley (concussion protocol; cervical issue still being evaluated)
  • S Landon Collins (day-to-day)
  • S Nat Berhe (day-to-day)

Amukamara and Berhe worked with the trainers on the side before practice.

Right guard Geoff Schwartz (ankle) and linebacker Jameel McClain (neck) returned to practice. Right tackle Marshall Newshouse left practice after overheating.

PRACTICE NOTES…
The Giants practiced in full pads today. Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Cornerback Trevin Wade received some first-team reps.
  • Geoff Schwartz saw reps both at right guard and right tackle, filling in for either right guard John Jerry or right tackle Marshall Newhouse.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning threw touchdown passes to wide receiver Odell Beckham, tight end Larry Donnell, and wide receiver Victor Cruz.
  • Wide receiver Victor Cruz looked quick and decisive in and out of cuts.
  • Quarterback Ryan Nassib threw a long completion to wide receiver James Jones.
  • Cornerback Mike Harris, playing left cornerback, had nice deep coverage on wide receiver Odell Beckham.
  • Left tackle Ereck Flowers looked good handling defensive ends George Selvie and Damontre Moore in team drills.
  • Wide receiver Corey Washington made a diving sideline catch on a pass from quarterback Ryan Nassib.
  • Safety Cooper Taylor intercepted a slant pass from quarterback Ryan Nassib to wide receiver James Jones in the red zone.
  • Wide receiver Odell Beckham made a leaping sideline catch over cornerback Trevin Wade.
  • Cornerback Trevin Wade then deflected a deep pass to wide receiver Preston Parker that safety/cornerback Bennett Jackson dove to intercept to end practice.

RUNNING BACKS COACH CRAIG JOHNSON…
Craig Johnson addressed the media on Monday (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: How much does Shane Vereen give you maybe a different dimension in regards to the backfield?

A: I think Shane brings a lot to the table. He’s a veteran, he knows what he’s doing, he’s smart, he’s tough, he can make a lot of plays both in the run game and the pass game. I think he brings a lot to the table from his experience and we can use him in a lot ways. We can use him on early downs, we can use him on third down, and so far he’s really acclimated to our system.

Q: With three talented running backs, how hard is it to get them all snaps and be able to even out playing time?

A: That’s a work in progress. We’re still trying to get through all that in the preseason and find out just how we’re going to get that done. It probably won’t be arrived at until we get ready to play our first game, but what we’re trying to do right now is put every guy in situations and find out what their strengths and weaknesses are in each situation and then when we get closer to game time, we’re going to try and figure out close to a rotation and try to make sure everybody gets their touches so they can help us win.

Q: It’s good to have this depth compared to last year, right?

A: There’s no coach that I know of who doesn’t want competition at their position. So yes, I think they all bring a lot to the table.

Q: Does Rashad Jennings look any different to you? Is there anything he did in the offseason that you look at him and say he’s taken his game up a notch at all?

A: I would probably say this about Rashad, he is one of the hardest workers I know. He trains religiously. I would say, like myself, both of us are second year in the offense. I think from that alone, he works hard for the game both on and off the field and that is where I think he is probably going to make his greatest improvements. It’s just being more comfortable in our system in his second year.

Q: What do you think about Andre Williams’ progression so far?

A: I think Andre did a really good job. He was our leading rusher as a rookie last year. I thought he started off kind of slow. He started understanding the game, understanding his pace and timing to get into the hole, he found out that in the NFL, holes close really quickly, but I think he’s done a really good job. He has tirelessly worked on the stuff he needed to work on. We all knew that when he came out of college he did not have a catch his last year and I can’t tell you how many hours he spent on catching the football. He knew that was something he had to get better at, he’s done that and he is walking around with the confidence of a guy that’s played (and) knows that he can get it done on this field and he’s continued to do that.

Q: What were your takeaways from the preseason game of your unit?

A: I would say because we did not win the game, I’m never happy. I would say that our guys, I thought, were okay. I don’t think they really stood out. They didn’t not lose the game, but they didn’t help win it. I told them all they need to pick it up as a unit. I think we can do a better job. One thing I will certainly single out is I thought Orleans Darkwa really had a good game in every phase. He did a good job running the ball, which everybody can see those stats, but he also did a really good job in his pass protection and his passing game routes where he was supposed to be. As I told him, that’s the kind of play I want to see out of all of them this year. Orleans was good last week, but as I told him, I don’t want to see one-week wonders, I want to see him continue to improve.

Q: Talking about how you want them to pick it up, it seems to be the underlying theme of the entire game. What did they need to do that you didn’t see them do on the field?

A: Well, I’d like to see them, if there’s something there, make more of it. If there’s nothing there, still have a positive play so we’ll stay on track on down and distance. So make sure we can get ourselves in the 2nd and 6 and 3rd and 2 and so on and so forth. So all a back can do is when his number is called to make the right read if it’s a run or the right protection or the right catch. I just think that we were playing at a higher level in practice and I’d just like to see that get carried over to the game.

Q: What is it about Orleans that sort of stood out to you about his game the other day?

A: I thought he really showed good speed to the hole, but I think even more so, I think he did a great job of setting up his blocks. And if you really go back and watch the film and verified that, that he was really in good timing with his line, and he knew how to get right to the hole and explode it through the hole and he had really good finishes. He did a really good job—all backs want to do is finish forward and get the extra yardage. That helps add up, it helps put that 3rd and 6, maybe a 3rd and 3 or 3rd and 2. I thought he really did a good job with that.

Q: You mentioned the work Andre’s done on improving as a receiver. Has it worked?

A: When I watch him, I can just tell you I got a chance to watch him in the Combine and I would say he’s a much changed player from the player I saw in the Combine coming out from Boston College to the player I see today. I think one of the greatest examples happened was the swing pass that he caught. It’s a very difficult catch in that he did not see the ball thrown, so when he turned around the ball was on him and as a back, that’s a tough situation. I would probably say in Boston College coming here, that would probably be a dropped pass. I think he’s worked really hard on his hands, he’s going to continue to work at that and he was able to execute the catch, which allowed him to catch the ball and run. As the backs know, I don’t care how they get the yardage, whether it’s in the pass catching game or the run game, I want anything they can do to help us win.

Q: We see him after practice on the Juggs machine, but something like you’re talking about, that’s a game situation. How does he simulate that and get better at that?

A: We try to put him in situations like that all the time in practice. I know he does a lot of work with catching tennis balls, he’s got a little thing he does that with someone in the training room and we have some drills that we do in the pregame. As I told him in our meeting today, we practice that exact scenario on the practice field. We do it as one of our pregame warmups and basically it’s a blind and draw ball drill and so the backs have got to turn around and locate the ball as it’s in the air, which is exactly what he had to do. So we were fortunate that sometimes you like as a coach when your drill carries over to the field. In that example it did.

Q: Did you throw the ball to him in that drill or is it a machine?

A: No, I actually throw the ball. I was a quarterback in my other days, but it’s only about a four or five-yard distance because I know my limitations.

LINEBACKERS COACH JIM HERRMANN…
Jim Herrmann addressed the media on Monday (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: What did you see from your group, what is your overview of them this summer?

A: The biggest thing that I was looking at when we went in the game, as a group, we were talking about block destruction. Getting off blocks and getting to the ball. There’s quite a few plays in there where we did that. We can always improve. There were spaces in there where we can get better at, that was what I was looking for—block destruction, being where you’re supposed to be, knocking guys back, getting off the ball and making some plays. A couple of the guys did a good job in there, and we’re always looking to improve, but that was the biggest thing going into the game was, knock back and getting off and making plays.

Q: Looked like Unga had a good night for you guys. Can you talk about his development?

A: He did a great job, as a young player. I don’t know how long exactly it’s been since he’s actually played in a game because he was hurt his senior year, didn’t play last year. So it’s been about a year and three quarters since he’s played in a true game. I thought he did a great job of taking over the role as the Mike backer and making calls, he made a great call in there and got the guys lined up. Did a good job, and I like his development. I think he’s doing a great job of—he got in on a few plays, made a hell of a play tipping the ball. I think he’s going to get better and better as he goes.

Q: Do you have any idea of when you’re going to get Jameel McClain back?

A: You have to ask the medical guys. I’m not a doctor, unfortunately.

Q: Unga seems like he’s got some athleticism.

A: He does, he’s got some range. He’s a stocky young man, but he has range. He can move around in there, so that’s what we saw on his college film prior to his injury coming out of college. That’s why we brought him in, he showed some good stuff.

Q: How did Jon Beason look to you?

A: Good. I think Jon [Beason]—it’s been awhile since he’s played, too. He did a great job of commanding the defense and getting the calls out and getting himself in position to make plays. Made a couple plays, and I like what I saw in his limited snaps.

Q: What are your options at middle linebacker if Jameel isn’t there behind Jon? Who would you move around if you needed to? Devon Kennard or J.T. Thomas or Mark Herzlich?

A: What we’ve always done, to me, every guy has their position and they all have alternate positions based on what we know about different guys. So there’s a lot of different options you can go to. Normally you go into a game maybe five, maybe six backers on the 46 [game day roster.] So everybody is going to have to play dual roles. You just have to, each week that changes because of injuries. All the guys know how to go in there and do it. I feel confident that all those guys could take over that role. The guys that are alternates, they could do it.

Q: Is that an option for Devon, or would you rather keep him outside?

A: Yeah, but this past spring and even some of last year, we put him some at Mike. He has an ability, he does a great job of getting the calls out, and knowing where to play. He’s a big backer, big man. He does a good job with that.

Q: How much has Kennard’s pass rush improved?

A: I think it’s better and better now that we’re asking him to do some of that. The quandary that you come into is he’s got to cover and do cover stuff, and then we want him to rush. You’ve just got to be able to balance that as a staff and decide when he can go down and do some rush stuff and when he can do the coverage stuff, because you can’t do all just, so he’s got to do both. He does a good job. He’s played out there in college, so it’s not like it’s foreign to him. Very similar to Victor Butler, he’s played out there, he’s done that, so it’s not foreign to him. Just have to keep getting their reps when they can.

Q: What do you see from J.T.? What are some of his strengths and some of the things that you’re trying to work on?

A: I think both those new guys, J.T. [Thomas] and [Jonathan] Casillas, both have a lot of range, they can run, their speed, they’re both tough guys. Just the ability to have a speed guy out there, it helps when we go to sub [package], if they have to cover down on a tight end. That’s really what you see out of those type of guys, they can walk out on a guy and not feel uncomfortable. So that’s what you get. Then, the fact that they can run. In this game you have to be able to run, and you’re a backside pursuit guy—being able to run the ball down and do those types of things. Both those guys show that kind of stuff.

Q: You see Casillas in certain packages and J.T. as well, is that the way you’re looking at it? You’re going to try and fit these guys in based on their skill as much as possible?

A: Right now we’re just trying to get our stuff in, our package in, and where they fit and that kind of stuff. As we narrow it down, it’s going to about, ‘Okay, who best fits where? How are we going to play this game? It is going to be a three-backer game, two-backer game? How are we going to play that?’ A lot of that will depend on the opponent. So they give you a lot of flexibility because they can play either-or, so the flexibility is nice as a coach.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
The following transcripts and video clips of player media Q&As are available at BigBlueInteractive.com and Giants.com:

RELATED ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The next training camp practice will be held on Monday but is closed to the public. For a complete listing of training camp practices as well as a handy fan Q&A about training camp, see our Training Camp section of the website. Only three remaining training camp practices at Quest Diagnostics Training Center will be open to the public this year:

  • Wednesday, August 19: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Thursday, August 20: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Tuesday, August 25: 2:30 – 4:30PM
Aug 152015
 
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Mykkele Thompson, New York Giants (August 14, 2015)

Mykkele Thompson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Mykkele Thompson Lost for Year; Landon Collins MCL Sprain: As feared, New York Giants safety Mykkele Thompson’s season is over. The 2015 5th-round draft pick ruptured his Achilles’ tendon in the team’s 23-10 preseason loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Friday night.

It also appears the Giants will be without fellow rookie safety Landon Collins for at least a couple of weeks. Collins sprained the MCL in one of his knees in the game. Collins was the team’s 2nd-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

“I would say it’s longer than a week (that Collins will be out),” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin.

Coughlin could not provide an update on cornerback Jayron Hosley, who suffered a neck injury and a possible concussion in the game as well. “I don’t have any information for you yet (on Hosley). I’m hoping that this is not a long term deal,” said Coughlin.

Cornerback Trumaine McBride also left the contest early with a hamstring injury, but there was no update.

Wide receiver Rueben Randle (knee tendinitis) left the game after only a few plays. “He had struggled when we first got to the practices,” said Coughlin of Randle. “His tendinitis, his patellar tendinitis had bothered him after a couple days off of his feet. He thought he could play, he did not warm-up well, we probably should have shut him down right away, but he had played a few snaps. He definitely was not himself and he was in pain.”

Coughlin was asked about three defensive backs who did not play in the game: cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin), cornerback Chykie Brown (knee), and safety Nat Berhe (calf).

“I don’t see (Brown) coming back right away this week,” said Coughlin.

Coughlin was hopeful that Berhe could return soon, but did not provide much clarification regarding Amukamara.

August 15, 2015 Head Coach Tom Coughlin Conference Call: The following is the transcript from Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s conference call on Saturday afternoon:

Good afternoon everyone, I just had a staff meeting and I spent most of the day looking at the tape. I said just about everything I needed to say last night. It’s the first preseason game. We were able to get everybody dressed into the football game, which was good. We didn’t play well with our ones and perhaps didn’t play well throughout the entire night. We still had chances. As you all know, we ran a kickoff back to the 35, accepted the ball and ran it back to the 35, and then did really nothing with it after we got it in to that point.

Our first group gave up an easy touchdown with Cincinnati driving the ball with their ones then they took primarily their first group out of the game. Offensive team, Eli (Manning) played 15 plays, and the offensive line played 24 plays. I think with Eli we had one opportunity and we did not make it on 3rd and 1. We had a pass in there that was dropped, which would have been our only third down opportunity. Otherwise we really were just three and out, three and out, three and out type things, so not pleased at all with that.

I expected much more, don’t know what the issue was with that, but it does put into perspective the entire day, the work that has to be done and put in here. Questions are going to be asked about the offensive line, we did some things okay. Everybody wants to know how (Ereck) Flowers played, I thought he played okay. I just think as a group we weren’t able to execute together in any capacity that allowed us to have total success with a play. For example, the ball would be run to the left, it would look like we would get to the perimeter and be able to make a nice run with it, and perhaps one of the backside people would have been beaten and a defender was there for a potential cutback or caught the ball carrier before he got to the corner.

I didn’t think our receivers played well. I thought our execution left a lot to be desired and I thought the details and the route work was not very good. We did have a couple opportunities that we let get away from us, particularly there was a post ball that I thought we could have hit for a touchdown, and we didn’t get that done. The quarterback was forced out of the pocket, but prior to that, I thought he could have made a play possibly and got the ball down the field. It was one of those deals where their secondary perhaps was making an error.

As I said, we played a lot of people, had some chances and didn’t do very well with the ones that we had, and then the backup players had an opportunity to get plenty of snaps, and they did get play time, but it wasn’t of a productive nature as such.

We did have a couple of injuries. We all know today the achilles injury to (Mykkele) Thompson. I feel really bad for that young guy and (Landon) Collins has a MCL sprain, and you’re going to ask me how long, but I really don’t know. We’ll see. A lot of that is up to the individual.

Q: Is the season over for Thompson?

His season is over, yes.

Q: Speak on (Rueben) Randle’s knee injury

He had struggled when we first got to the practices. His tendinitis, his patellar tendinitis had bothered him after a couple days off of his feet. He thought he could play, he did not warm-up well, we probably should have shut him down right away, but he had played a few snaps. He definitely was not himself and he was in pain.

Q: You usually don’t play guys who don’t practice, why was it different this time?  Was it because this is the preseason?

No, I don’t necessarily agree with your statement. He missed two practice days but the trainers felt and he wanted to go, and he felt like he could go, and with that regard, the number of snaps that anyone was going to get made that a little bit easier decision when the trainers said he can play.

Q: What’s your level of concern after losing the two rookie safeties?

The level of concern has been there since day one because of the nature of where we are. Even going back to Nat Berhe being unable to come in here and practice, one of the few remaining safeties from our roster of a year ago. We obviously drafted two young players that we know were going to be able to help. Now we’ve lost one of those guys, the other issue is how quickly Landon can come back so he doesn’t miss out on anything, because he definitely needed last night. To be honest with you, he needed it. In order to be able to be in position, I think to where he’s seen a great deal of what takes place in the National Football League, and has been in games, and has had a chance to prepare and play, he needed last night. He didn’t get much last night, so certainly there’s concern.

Q: Where does Berhe stand? Is there any update on that? Any closer to maybe coming back than in the past week or so?

A: Well, I hope so. I hope so. I really don’t have much information yet from Ronnie (Barnes) or today’s medical, but I’m hoping that he’s—when we brought him back before, we thought he was going to be able to work his way through this thing before and then all of a sudden he got sore again. Whenever we do get the green light to bring him back, we will do so and we will always have to, and I think until proven, we will have to keep our fingers crossed that he can spend some consistent time on the field and get himself in position to where he can play.

Q: What did you see from the safeties who were out there? Specifically Jeromy Miles and Cooper Taylor?

A: Miles knows the defense and he’s been around Steve Spagnuolo. There’s a guy who we’re fortunate that we have here, to sign now, because of all that. Cooper is learning. He’s learning, he’s come in and after having had all that time off—so he’s started to come back and hopefully he’ll keep growing and learning and so on and so forth. That’s the way, those are the guys that we have and we will work hard to get those guys ready to play.

Q: What did you think about how the safeties performed overall last night when you watched the tape? And what kind of happened on that first touchdown? I know you kind of ran a safety onto the field and it seemed like one of them wasn’t in the right spot on the first touchdown.

A: Yeah, I saw what you saw, but how did they play last night? They did okay. There wasn’t anything overly, overly glaring. Certainly there were some penalties down the field, not that they were involved but it seemed to be as much of anything the big plays. Let them play. Let’s let them play and then we will take it step by step. Certainly as teams become more sophisticated and more comfortable with what they’re going to eventually be represented of their offense, we’ll see more of the ball in the air and we’ll see more of the safeties having to be involved in the play, not only coming to the line of scrimmage but also playing the pass. I can’t answer the questions you want because we’ve got to play some games with these guys back there and see how they go, see how they do.

Q: Is there a chance that Collins is in practice next week? Or is it thinking something longer?

A: I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that. I would say it’s longer than a week.

Q: Now that Bennett Jackson is that sort of a nickel-cover guy, slot-cover guy, is he going to have to move to safety full-time now?

A: Well, we were able to bring him down from safety to play the nickel position and he also plays the safety position in that first and second down. So hopefully we can continue to do that. Certainly, he’s going to have to play more safety now.

Q: Did you have an update for Jayron Hosley? With his neck?

A: I don’t have any information for you yet. I’m hoping that this is not a long term deal. See if he can get back in there because he needs the play time and he showed that he certainly can get himself in position and do some of the things we have to do at the corner spot. Didn’t have a bad night at all prior to getting the injury and the injury came flying to  the line of scrimmage and he made a tackle in which he got his head banged around a little bit. I don’t have anything for you yet from today, but we’re hoping that Hosley can be cleared to go here real quick.

Q: Is the expectation that Prince is going to be back this week? And either way, do you need to add corners just to have numbers now? Do you feel like you’re getting short at that position?

A: Well, you can certainly count as well as I can and you can never have enough of those guys anyways. If Prince comes back and we get even short-term notice on when some of these other guys will be back, we probably do have enough but otherwise, you’re right, we’ll be down in numbers.

Q: Do you know anything on Chykie Brown? What is the injury first of all and what was the original diagnosis?

A: I don’t see him coming back right away this week.

Aug 072015
 
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (July 31, 2015)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 7, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their seventh summer training camp practice on Friday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The full training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

GIANTS SIGN SAFETY JUSTIN HALLEY, WAIVE CHRIS HARPER…
The New York Giants have signed rookie free agent Justin Halley (Florida International) and waived/injured wide receiver Chris Harper.

INJURY REPORT…
Right guard Geoff Schwartz (coming off of ankle surgery), left tackle Will Beatty (PUP – recovering from pectoral surgery), linebacker Jameel McClain (neck), and safety Nat Berhe (calf) did not practice.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin was asked if there was an update on McClain. “No, he will be a while,” responded Coughlin. “He has had some issues in the past and they are trying to rule out a bunch of things. I’m not going to rush a guy back in, forget that stuff. It is just like a head [injury], we aren’t going to rush anyone back in who has an injury like that.”

Cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin) was limited.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Today’s practice was only a jog-thru. “The purpose is we went two hard [practices] in a row and we have a hard one tomorrow, so this would be the natural down curve and we thought this was the time to go with a mental day, a learning day, rather than anything physical so we can get something done tomorrow,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin.

Some snippets from various media sources:

  • With Geoff Schwartz out, the starting offensive line was left tackle Ereck Flowers, left guard Justin Pugh, center Weston Richburg, right guard John Jerry, and right tackle Marshall Newhouse.
  • Landon Collins and Jeromy Miles were the starters at safety.
  • Dominique Hamilton received some reps with the first-team at defensive tackle alongside Johnathan Hankins. The first-team defensive ends were Owamagbe Odighizuwa and Robert Ayers.
  • Jordan Stanton also saw some time with the starters at right defensive end and inside as a pass rusher.
  • Shane Vereen and Rashad Jennings worked with first-team today; Andre Williams worked with the second-team.
  • At one point Victor Cruz motioned into the backfield and lined up at tailback.

HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
Tom Coughlin addressed the media after the afternoon practice (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: What was purpose of this practice?

A: The purpose is we went two hard [practices] in a row and we have a hard one tomorrow, so this would be the natural down curve and we thought this was the time to go with a mental day, a learning day, rather than anything physical so we can get something done tomorrow.

Q: You’re hurting your reputation a little bit here running games and easing down here?

A: A new, changed scientific approach.

Q: Any updates on Jameel McClain?

A: No, he will be a while.

Q: Is there something structural there? A herniated disk on McClain?

A: No, but he has had some issues in the past and they are trying to rule out a bunch of things. I’m not going to rush a guy back in, forget that stuff. It is just like a head [injury], we aren’t going to rush anyone back in who has an injury like that.

Q: Is it his neck or his back or his spine?

A: It is in that area, I think.

Q: You haven’t been asked in a while. Have you spoken to Jason Pierre-Paul yet?

A: No, but I think I will speak to him [shortly].

Q: Shortly today?

A: I have not talked to him yet, but I am anticipating talking to him perhaps before the end of the week.

Q: What makes you say that?

A: I just have a premonition. So far my premonitions, none of them have worked.

Q: What do you think that conversation will be like?

A: If and when it happens, I am concerned about knowing how he feels. Where is he? How is he coming along? I won’t even ask about the extent of the injuries but I’ll let him tell me. Why isn’t he here?

Q: Richburg and Flowers obviously feeling good enough to be out there today; I know you didn’t go hard. Do you anticipate them being out there tomorrow?

A: I hope so. They are not going to get the full green light. They are going to be restricted, but I’m thinking they will be out there.

Q: I didn’t see Odell out there at all. Was there something to that?

A: No, nothing to that.

Q: What was your reaction to Shaun O’Hara’s comments?

A: I don’t have any reaction. I am not going to comment on that.

Q: Any update on Geoff Schwartz?

A: No.

Q: Will you bring everyone to Cincinnati? Even guys who aren’t going to participate?

A: No, but they have to be ruled out of the game not to go. They may be ‘can’t work today but we’ll see’ kind of people and they will come.

Q: Do you have to prepare any differently even with the practices maybe than you would with the first preseason game because you are going out there and going against a [different] offense or defense?

A: That is the purpose. The purpose is to go and get good, hard work against someone else instead of beating on your own people.

Q: Do you think Victor is a no-go for that first game?

A: Probably, but again — ask me next week in the middle of the preparation for the game.

Q: But he will come with you?

A: Ask me next week after I get there.

OFFENSIVE LINE COACH PAT FLAHERTY…
Pat Flaherty addressed the media on Monday (video is available at Giants.com).

Q: I know you really can’t control it, but the level of frustration when you look and see three projected starters on the side yesterday, how frustrating is that?

A: I don’t think it’s frustrating. I probably have my feelings go towards those guys because I think, I believe, they want to be out there and they can’t be out there for various reasons because they’re injured. My feelings of whatever I have is really for those guys that they want to be out there and get better. As a group, we need them out there to get better. There are some things as a coach that you can control, there are some things you can’t control. The one thing that I always want to stay focused on as a coach is do the best job with what we have to work with and what I can control. That’s the players out there practicing at the moment.

Q: But still you can’t build continuity when you have guys coming in and out. How do you comb that over, if you comb that over?

A: You try to do it with the things that those guys can do, whether it’s walk-throughs, in the meetings, trying to keep that continuity. You’re not getting 100 percent, as you mentioned, you just get the best of what you can do, whether it’s sitting in a chair and talking about things and letting them call things out in the meeting rooms. We try to keep that exercise going each and every day.

Q: Where do you stand at right tackle at this point? I saw the other day you rotated Newhouse and Schwartz..

A: We just want to make sure that we get guys working at various positions because if something else happens at a position, you want to be able to say, ‘Okay, we’re going to do this.’ So we’re going to let guys work at positions and see how they do and one of them was Geoff at the time. Now he’s not totally healthy right now so for him to go out there for Marshall really is not the best indication we can get at this point, but we’ll continue to work with that. So right now, Marshall Newhouse is the starting right tackle and we will have other options. I think the more competition you develop, and that’s what we’re trying to do as the New York Giant offensive line, which we’re going to also get a starting five and always have competition right nipping at their heels. I know we’ve used a term here ‘the next guy up’ but, really, what that means is you’re ready to take over because you’re pushing the starter.

Q: Prior to the injury bug starting, Justin (Pugh) and Weston (Richburg) spoke about being tougher, being like that 2008 line. Are you seeing that from them yet?

A: Yeah, I’m seeing that. You can’t—we have a saying in our offensive line room and I’ll share it with you, “We talk with our pads.” I know they are sharing that with you, I heard that before and that’s fine, but it’s not going to get done just verbally talking about it. You have to do it with pads. One thing I have seen each and every day by these guys is they are coming off the ball better with their pads. We always have to work on our leverage on our pads and if we continue to progress like that, we are going to be a good offensive line. We are talented enough. I know sometimes we question that, but we are talented enough. Whether or not we do it, I’m part of that equation as a coach.

Q: How is Brandon Mosley coming along? I see him getting worked into the mix.

A: He is out there at tackle now. We are trying to keep him in one spot. We moved him and worked a couple reps at the guard position and it is a little bit different out there at tackle in terms of the pass protection, so he is getting a feel for that with his technique, he has some work to do.

Q: Missed practices at this time of the year, what do they mean, especially for Flowers?

A: Well, it is critical, it is. It is nothing that you take lightly with a young player. The only guys that you would actually kind of, as a coach, breathe okay with is a guy that is a veteran, a guy that has played year after year after year. A young player needs every snap that he gets, so my job is when he’s not in there, in particular in our jog-throughs and walk-throughs, is he’s right beside me and he’s telling me his assignment so he’s getting mental reps. Mental reps aren’t going to get the job done, you have to get out there and physically do it. Obviously, right now he can’t physically do it, so we’re going to do whatever we can to keep getting him ready to play.

Q: Do you have a sense on when you will get Flowers and Richburg?

A: No, I don’t. I think Ronnie (Barnes) can answer that. If you ask me, I’d say my fingers were crossed for today, but that’s asking me. I have no idea. I’m just hoping that the guys get back sooner than later but when you get them back you don’t want that reoccurring. Ereck is a little different now. He wants to—he’s chomping at the bit, he’s in my ear, and I say, ‘Hey, listen, you’ve got to understand we have the best training staff in the world.’ And I said, ‘They’re going to put you out there when you’re ready so you don’t re-injure it.’ It’s no good to get out there and then go back to square one now. So he’s missing some time now but the objective is when he gets out there, he’s not looking back, he’s going straight ahead. So when that is, I really couldn’t tell you.

Q: Were you aware of the tweets by Shaun O’Hara questioning the offensive linemen?

A: I don’t have one of those accounts. I don’t even know if I can pronounce it but I can’t say. I’m not going to stand before you and say I don’t read your articles because I do when I have time, but when I come in the morning, and whatever time it is right now and whatever day it is, I haven’t done that.

Q: Did you hear about it though?

A: What are you…

Q: He’s basically questioning the toughness, saying offensive linemen shouldn’t be sitting out practice coming off a day off basically.

A: That’s one man’s opinion from that standpoint. When you get into the inner circles and really into our organization and all the discussion we have with Coach Coughlin each and every day from head coach to assistant coach, I don’t question the toughness because I know and I understand what they’re going through. Now I don’t know what Shaun’s saying, but maybe he’s saying, ‘Hey, listen. Sometimes if you have a little bit of soreness, you have to play through it,’ but that’s different. These guys don’t have that, they have an injury and that’s why they’re not practicing. One thing in training camp that I know is in Shaun’s back of the mind because we’ve always talked about it in our room with all those guys, you have to develop the calluses on your hands, you have to develop the soreness with the pads and next is going to be a little stiffness and all those things that come with playing this game that they love to play. If they don’t love to play it, okay we’re missing the boat there somewhere. That’s what you have to be able to do —you do have to work through some hurts and some pains, you do. The injuries, that’s totally different. That’s controlled. So whatever the opinion is, mine is if they’re injured and they’re hurt, my job is to make sure they get the mental reps.

Q: (O’Hara’s) around here a lot, though. How much is he in the guys’ ears in regards to..?

A: That’s a great question. I think all those guys—first of all, whether it’s Shaun or Richie (Seubert) or Chris (Snee), they love the New York Giants. You guys have heard it before, once a Giant, always a Giant and those guys are going to do everything they can to help this organization, whether it’s with players or outside talking to the fans, whatever it is. I’m sure they’re going to—the one thing I’ve always, as a coach, told the younger guys is reach out to the veterans, watch them, absorb everything you can, see what kind of passion they have because the true veterans have been through it. The veterans are going to reach out to the retired guys possibly from that standpoint.

DEFENSIVE LINE COACH ROBERT NUNN…
Robert Nunn addressed the media on Monday (video is available at Giants.com).

Q: What kind of correspondence have you had with DE Jason Pierre-Paul?

I’ve spoken to him on the phone. I’ve texted him back and forth and mostly about things other than football. The first thing you know, it’s been talked about before, and it was a tragic thing that happened, major accident. Everybody has their beliefs on what happened, what should have happened, and make of it what they want to, but the guy went through a tough thing. It was a tough situation to be in so when I talk to him we talk more about where he is from a mental standpoint. I texted him back and forth, just to let him know that we’re here for him. Whatever he needs, we’re here for him, and his response has been, “Coach, I’m good, I want to get myself right, and I’ll be back.” That’s kind of where it stands. I don’t know any more than what you guys know from that standpoint. Most of my conversations with him have been about things other than football.

Q: Do you have any idea on when to expect Pierre-Paul?

No. Everybody is guessing. Nobody knows right now, and he texted me just this morning to tell he’s good today. I kind of keep up with him like that. Every day or every other day I’ll shoot something at him with text. Again, it’s all usually about something other than football. We talked about we miss him in meetings and busting his chops in meetings and we kind of laugh about it. That’s kind of where it goes. I don’t know any more than that.

Q: How do you balance the confidentiality established with Pierre-Paul and sharing information with the organization?

Jerry (Reese) and I talk almost daily when I talk to him. If he (Pierre-Paul) asks me not talk about it, I don’t talk about it, but we don’t really get into that. It’s not anything everyone knows, you know. I just want to know where he is from an emotional and mental standpoint, and we’ve told him, everybody in this building has told him, we’re here for him. Whatever you need, just let us know how we can help, and so that’s been the conversation, but there’s really not any more to it other than that. He shoots me a funny text every so often and I’ll shoot one back. Some of the guys have talked to him, I think, and texted him about the meetings and we have some laughs. He’s not here to defend himself when we bust his chops and so we laugh about that. It’s that kind of conversation.

Q: Do you have to prepare as if you have to move on without Pierre-Paul?

We’ve talked about it in our room as far a defensive line room and that’s kind of been how it is. We’re going on and he’ll be here when he’ll be here and those other guys have a great opportunity and we’re going from there.

Q: Are you at the point where you’re sending Pierre-Paul defensive information?

I haven’t lately. We’ve discussed a little bit of that but I haven’t been sending a lot of stuff yet. He’s got up until the accident happened. He’s got most of everything in front of him, so when the time comes, we’ll get on it, and I’ll spend day and night doing that, and getting him ready to go.

Q: Do you get the sense that Pierre-Paul misses being here?

There’s no question, yeah.

Q: Do you know the extent of Pierre-Paul’s injury and if he’ll be as effective as he once was?

I don’t really know any more than what’s been printed. I told him that we’ll just tie one hand behind his back because he’s that kind of player. We joke about it a little bit like that, but I don’t know. I don’t know anything more than you guys know as far as the extent of the injury.

Q: Were you expecting Pierre-Paul to have a big year?

Oh yeah. He’s been an outstanding player. When he’s been healthy, he’s been as good as there is in the league and so we were all looking forward to that. Hey, it was a crazy thing that happened, but it happened. It was an accident, a horrible accident, life-changing experience, and so we’re going to move on from there and make the best of it.

Q: How do you plan moving forward? Do you have to plan as if Pierre-Paul is not going to be here?

Right now that’s what we’re doing as far as a group and everyone. We’re all pulling for him in that room. Everyone in there is very close and stays in touch with each other, and so we’re all pulling for him to be back, but right now we’ve got a job to do and that’s what we’re doing.

Q: How do you see filling that right defensive end spot?

The situation right now, as far as the defensive ends, we’ve got a group of defensive ends that have come in here with the right frame of mind, and I really feel good about the rotation. Right, left, starter, non-starter, we’ve got a good group, and we’re going to keep building every day and stacking successes. Young guys come in and are doing what we ask them to do, and I like where we are. Preseason games will tell us where we stack up as far as against other offenses, but I like where we are going into this practice here Saturday, and going to Cincinnati next week and we’ll see where we stand.

Q: Do you have to tweak the defense because of the absence of Pierre-Paul?

No, not necessarily. Spags (Steve Spagnuolo) has his package and we’re putting it in and we’re putting it in as best we can. We’re going to continue to tweak it and adjust it just like we would if he was here, he’s not here. No we haven’t changed very much.

Q: Have any of the defensive ends jumped out at you?

In certain areas they’ve all jumped out. I really like where Robert Ayers has come in from a mental standpoint. Kerry Wynn, when he got his opportunity, he made the most of it as far as production. Kerry Wynn, when the pads come on, he’s a different player than when the pads are not on, and I’ve coached players like that.

Q: Does Wynn become a different player when the pads are on because of his strength?

Yeah. He’s a strong, young player and they all do some things that the other ones don’t. Owa (Odighizuwa), you know we have to get him in better condition but he’s showed some good things. He’s a strong kid that wants to do what you ask him to do. Damontre (Moore) has come in and done some good things. They all have something that they can do that maybe somebody else doesn’t do. The group of defensive ends, I like where they are. George Selvie is a professional, hard-working, every day he shows up, does what you ask him to do, and that bleeds through that entire room.

Q: Did (Jonathan) Hankins show you enough as a pass-rusher last year?

Oh yeah. He kind of started showing up a year ago, when we would get in one-on-one pass rush, he was doing some good things, and he got his opportunity and took advantage of it. If he’s producing, he’s definitely going to be in there. He’s definitely going to have that opportunity to get in there in some rush situations.

Re: playing Hankins on third down passing situations versus lining up with four defensive ends

A lot of that will be controlled by down and distance. If it’s a truly long yardage situation, then Jonathan probably won’t be in there just because of what you can see. He’ll be in there, he’ll have some opportunities.

Q: Why have the defensive ends been moving inside? Is it because it’s early or do you want to see what guys can do in those spots?

Both, it’s early and you know we can get some of those other guys some opportunities. We’ll continue to tweak that and look at it and give everybody a shot.

Q: Have you seen any early indication that you’ll be better against the run?

It’s hard to tell until you get in real games. When real bullets are fired you is when find out. I know we challenged them, we’ve challenged them to come in here, and we have to be able to stop the run better than we did last year. I like where we are, Hankins has come in here in a great frame of mind, and I can’t say enough positive things about where he is. Markus Kuhn has come in and is ready to give himself a shot. Jay Bromley, the one thing I love about coaching Jay is when you give him something to work on, he works on it every day. He tries to correct it as you talk to him each day, each practice, and Kenrick Ellis, they’ve got their opportunity in front of them, so we’ll see when the real bullets fire.

Q: What is it that you see in Kuhn that is giving him an opportunity?

He’s got himself in that position. Markus didn’t have a lot of production last year but he still did some things that caused production. There are a lot of those times that the defensive tackles, there’s hidden productivity, now there’s also some times he has to make some plays that he should have made. That’s the thing that we talked about in the off-season, he and I did, and it’s some things that you have to improve on. He’s gotten himself ready to have that opportunity going into preseason.

Q: What is different about Kuhn this year?

Foot quickness, I think he’s continuously worked on that, and his agility inside and his balance. He seems to be further along than he’s ever been with the foot speed and the quickness. Markus is another one, you give him something to work on, and he’ll work on it over and over. He’s a lot of fun to coach.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
The following transcripts and video clips of player media Q&As are available at BigBlueInteractive.com and Giants.com:

RELATED ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The eighth training camp practice will be held on Saturday from 2:30-4:30PM but it is not open to the public. For a complete listing of training camp practices as well as a handy fan Q&A about training camp, see our Training Camp section of the website. Only four remaining training camp practices at Quest Diagnostics Training Center will be open to the public this year:

  • Sunday, August 16: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Wednesday, August 19: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Thursday, August 20: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Tuesday, August 25: 2:30 – 4:30PM
Jun 242015
 
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Landon Collins, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Landon Collins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With New York Giants training camp beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com breaks down each of the team’s positional groups until the players report at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Safeties

2014 YEAR IN REVIEW: Like the cornerbacks, the New York Giants safeties were supposed to be an area of strength in 2014 but ended up being a big disappointment. The team decided to cut super-talented but super-idiotic Will Hill after he failed yet another drug test. And Antrel Rolle followed up arguably his best season as a safety with one of his worst. Stevie Brown returned from an ACL injury but lost his starting job to Quintin Demps who later lost it back to Brown. Obviously neither stood out. Second-year safety Cooper Taylor missed the entire season with a foot injury. Rookie 5th Nat Berhe rounder played all 16 games but was primarily used on special teams. The Giants finished 18th in the NFL in pass defense and the safeties were missing in action far too often against both the run and the pass.

Mykkele Thompson, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Mykkele Thompson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants gutted the position in the offseason as they made little to no effort in re-signing free agents Antrel Rolle (signed with the Bears), Stevie Brown (signed with the Texans), and Quintin Demps (still unsigned). The team also waived practice squader Thomas Gordon in May.

The only remaining safeties from 2014 are Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe. Bennett Jackson, who spent his rookie season in 2014 on Injured Reserve, was switched from corner to safety this spring. The Giants signed corner/safety ‘tweener Josh Gordy in free agency but he saw most of his spring work for the Giants at cornerback. Three of the six safeties on the roster are rookies: Landon Collins (2nd round), Mykkele Thompson (5th round), and Justin Currie (rookie free agent).

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: On paper, the Giants have some interesting talent at safety in the form of one second rounder, three fifth rounders, a sixth rounder, and a rookie free agent. However these players are all young and inexperienced. Five of the six were acquired in 2014-15 from the college ranks, and the other (Taylor) was a 2013 draft pick. There is absolutely no veteran presence to speak of despite the fact that Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s system is cerebral and complicated. And like most if not all systems, the safeties make the defensive calls in the secondary.

“It’s the most complex system I’ve been in,” said linebacker Jon Beason. “This is my fifth defensive coordinator. It is the most complex because we will not sit back and be dictated to by anybody…Offenses create problems by formations, moving people around, shifts and motions…Every call we (the defense) can make a change.”

So the chief story line will be how fast can the young pups grow up, and how many growing pains will there be?

“I think it is extremely hard (for a rookie to start in this defense),” said New York Giants Safeties Coach David Merritt. “(The safety is) an extension of the defensive coordinator. Whatever call comes in, you need to be able to hear the call, accept the call, and then spit it back out to your fellow teammates. For a rookie to come in and have that pressure, to be the extension of the defensive coordinator, it is extremely difficult.”

“Young,” said Spagnuolo of the safeties. “There is youth and inexperience there. It doesn’t matter what system you are in, in my opinion, defensively, (the starting safeties) are really important. Everyone else relies on them. The quicker we can get to the other nine trusting them, the better off we will be. I am not sure we are there yet. I think it is going to be a work in progress, but we will get there.

“Right now it is a challenge… It is a challenge for our patience and our trust in them. Everyday it gets better, I can tell you that… (But) we have a long ways to go in my opinion.”

Complicating matters is that Nat Berhe, who was pegged early by the coaching staff to start alongside rookie Landon Collins, missed all of the spring practices with a calf injury. Taylor, Thompson, Jackson, and Currie benefited from the additional practice snaps, but both Tom Coughlin and safeties coach David Merritt have said that Berhe’s development has been set back by the missed time.

With Collins sure to start at one spot, it is most likely that Berhe and Taylor will battle for the other starting position.

There is not a lot of time. The Giants face Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten on September 13.

ON THE BUBBLE: The Giants will likely carry four or five safeties. Bennett Jackson, Mykkele Thompson, and Justin Currie are most likely fighting for one or two roster spots.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: David Merritt on Landon Collins: “He has to make the calls and get everyone lined up…Now when you are trying to line up grown men who have wives and children at home and they need that call from you, it is a little different than lining up a freshman. The call has to be right. Right now, he is slow to go, which was expected, but he has to pick it up quickly for us to be successful…I really do (think Collins can do it). He is starting to realize that these missed alignments and the minus plays, I have to cut those out of my game in order for the guys around me to trust me. That is what he wants to be. He wants to be a leader. Okay, we are putting him out there. I think he is going to be ready to go, definitely, for Dallas.”

Merritt on Cooper Taylor: “Cooper is coming along well. Mentally, I never doubted Cooper would be able to pick up the defense. It is just now getting Cooper’s body to move in the proper direction once he receives the call and allows himself to line up and just see what is happening in front of him. The mental part, Cooper is fine, but it is now the physical part. We have to make sure the durability factor – he has to be durable for us because he has missed the past two seasons. Mentally, I am not concerned about him. Physically hoping that he will be able to step up and be durable for us.”

Merritt on Nat Berhe: “(Him missing spring practices) hurts tremendously because all the reps that Cooper (Taylor) and Landon (Collins) and Mykkele (Thompson) and some of the other guys have taken, Nat would have been right in there with all the other guys. By him standing on the sideline and taking mental reps – I understand you are taking mental reps, but it is different. It is not the same as putting your body through the motions and making your body react to different movements that the receivers are stemming at you. It is going to definitely hurt him and set him back a little bit, but hopefully he can come back at training camp and be ready to fight for a starting job.”

Merritt on Mykkele Thompson: “Mykkele, I knew was a smart kid. He came here and he is a cerebral kid, that is for sure. He is going to take what I say literally and take my word for it and go out and try to execute it. Now I am starting to see that the kid actually has some football awareness, where I didn’t think he had much of it when we first started off. The (missed alignments) that started at the beginning of rookie mini-camp and OTAs have drastically gone down. Mentally, he has excelled past my expectations…Long arms. We did a drill the other day where he was having to punch a bag and escape from the blocker and to see his arms and the extension of his arms, that was good to see. I am definitely interested to see him in the pads.”

Merritt on Bennett Jackson: “(His conversion to safety) has been good. You are going from the outside where you are playing on an island and then all of sudden, you go to a back end position where you have to see the formation and play, the moving parts, and put people in the right position. Jackson, in his situation right now, there has been a learning curve for him, which has been hard for him. It has been a struggle at first, but out of all the guys, that is one kid that when he puts his foot in the ground, he can go. He can go. I am looking forward to seeing Bennett at camp with pads on because I truly believe he will hit as well.”

Merritt on Justin Currie:  “Justin Currie has done a great job, as well, our free agent. Big kid, as well. I am interested to see what he can do once the pads are on his shoulders and hopefully he will be able to be a thumper for us.”

PREDICTIONS: There will be growing pains. The young safeties will make mental mistakes that will lead to big plays and touchdowns. How bad this inexperience will hurt the Giants in terms of lost games in 2015 remains to be seen. But it’s the nature of the game that old players will eventually be replaced by young ones. Some of those young players will wither while others blossom. In his last interaction with the press, Tom Coughlin seemed generally pleased by the progress of the two rookie draft picks. “We have a good feel for the rookies, we really do. Thompson (has) been doing well and starting to come along and that was a key thing,” said Coughlin. “Collins has done a good job, has gotten better and has really done a good job of starting to direct back there, and I think the coaches are excited about him going forward.”

I believe the players who are currently on the roster will develop into fine players. What I don’t know – and no one really does – is how fast that process will take. The overall effectiveness of the entire defense and the fate of the team’s playoff chances may depend on how quickly Collins, Taylor, and Berhe become assets rather than liabilities. Based on coaching comments, one thing is clear – the team is looking for someone to take charge at safety as a vocal leader.

“You need to have one leader back there, and that’s what I’m still looking for,” said Merritt. “It’s elusive. I’m searching for it. If it’s Landon, great. If it’s Cooper, great. If it’s Nat, great. If it’s Mykkele, great. But I need to have a leader come up and emerge out of this mini-camp and emerge out of training camp…(We’ve had) very slow leadership as far as making calls and controlling the defense. The guys right now are very slow at making those checks.”

FINAL DEPTH CHART: The Giants will keep four or five safeties. I think they will keep five: Landon Collins, Nat Berhe, Cooper Taylor, Mykkele Thompson, and Bennett Jackson. Jackson not only provides special teams value but he can play corner too. Justin Currie is intriguing but his best shot is probably the Practice Squad.

Jun 192015
 
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Landon Collins Signs: According to multiple press reports, the New York Giants have signed safety Landon Collins, the team’s second-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Terms of the deal are not yet known but it is expected the contract will be in the 4-year, $6 million range. All of the team’s 2015 NFL Draft picks are now signed.

Eli Manning on WFAN: The audio of Friday’s WFAN interview of quarterback Eli Manning is available at CBS New York. Some of the points raised by Manning:

  • On his contract status: “I never got concerned about contract stuff…I started (with the Giants)…I don’t want to change teams…I want to stay here. Hopefully it works out that way.”
  • On Odell Beckham getting ribbed by teammates for missing practice: “We have a great relationship. You’re not practicing, people will get on you a little bit. It’s usually in fun. I am sure he is sick of it. He wants to be out there practicing…It’s in fun. Guys are not mad at him…Sometimes when things go wrong and you’re not practicing, you just got to sit there and take it, and be a man and learn from it.”
  • On the West Coast Offense: “I like the West Coast (Offense)…It all makes sense. There is a reason for the footwork…It’s quarterback friendly.”
  • On Shane Vereen: “It’s a little different even for (Offensive Coordinator Ben) McAdoo, having a running back with those abilities…we have some stuff where the running back is your first read…sometimes we will have both of them (Vereen and Rashad Jennings) in the game at the same time.”
  • On 2014: “Last year I had so many doubts or unknowns about how I was going to adjust to a new offense…after being in the same offense for 10 years. Now changing all of your footwork…and so many new guys.”

Article on the New York Giants Injury Situation: Giants injury update: Where everyone stands after minicamp and OTAs by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Articles on the New York Giants Spring Practices:

Article on the New York Giants Rookies: Ereck Flowers, Landon Collins, Mykkele Thomson could start for New York Giants by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Article on Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham: Giants’ Victor Cruz takes on role of a mentor by Tara Sullivan of The Bergen Record

Article on Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo: Why Steve Spagnuolo’s reunion may not have fairy tale ending by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on S Landon Collins: Giants’ Landon Collins an eager student by Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record

New York Giants Spring Practice Videos (Giants.com):

  • All-Access: Coach Coughlin wired during practice (Video)
  • Highlights: Best plays from offseason practices (Video)
May 242015
 
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Giants to Practice Against Bengals Before Preseason Game?: According to the official website of the Cincinnati Bengals, the New York Giants and Bengals will hold “a few” joint practices at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati before the August 14 Giants-Bengals preseason game. The August 14th game is the first preseason game the Giants will play in, followed by contests against the Jaguars (home), Jets (home), and Patriots (away).

Late Update: The practices will be held on August 11 and 12.

Details for the full pre- and regular-season schedules are available in the Schedule section of the website.

Giants.com Q&A with S Mykkele Thompson: A video of a recent Giants.com interview with S Mykkele Thompson is available at Giants.com.

Article on the 2015 New York Giants: Home improvements: How much better are the Giants than at this point last year? by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on OT Ereck Flowers: Ereck Flowers’ college position coach confident he can step in for injured Will Beatty by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on S Bennett Jackson: Giants corner eager to switch positions for chance to make impact by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

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Giants.com Player Q&As: Video clips of recent Giants.com Q&A sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Article on the New York Giants Offensive Line: Open competition: Nothing set in stone on the Giants offensive line by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa: What Owa Odighizuwa needs to do to earn playing time for the Giants this season by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Articles on the New York Giants Defensive Backs:

Articles on the 2015 New York Giants Rookie Free Agents:

Article on the 2007 New York Giants: Giants’ Steve Spagnuolo recalls figuring out how to beat the Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Whoever said hard work pays off was right. We're getting closer ladies and gentlemen. #TheReturn

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

Roger Goodell – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Review

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

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

2015 Draft Pick Scouting Reports

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

Ereck Flowers – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Is he polished enough to step in?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: When did you first get wind of him?

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

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

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

Q: How does his nasty streak manifest itself?

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

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

A: I won’t talk about that.

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

A: I won’t talk about that.

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

Q: What do you think about Ereck Flowers?

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

Q: Where do you see him position-wise?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A: I did.

Q: How did that conversation go?

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

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

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

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

A: Absolutely.

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

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

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

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

Q: Was offensive line the particular focus for you?

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

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

A: Absolutely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A: That was one of, yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What did you think about that visit?

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Is your father serving as your agent?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A: My favorite player coming in was Trent Williams.

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

A: I do. I feel I can.

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

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

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

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

Q: Have you ever played guard?

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

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

Landon Collins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Does he have a first round grade?

A: We have a good grade on him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Did you pay more than you expected to?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Did you have him in for a visit?

A: Did we have him here? No.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Did you talk to Nick Saban about him?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Did you really like [Landon] Collins?

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

Q: Did you suggest the trade?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Why did he fall?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Like who else?

A: No, do your own research.

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

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

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

A: He is a safety, thank you.

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

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

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

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

A: Definitely, I’m very motivated.

Q: What was the whole experience like for you?

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

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

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

Q: What were your expectations coming in?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Were you aware of their need at safety?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Owamagbe Odighizuwa – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

Q: He will be a defensive end for you?

A: He’s a defensive end.

Q: Any concern with the hip surgery he had?

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

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

A: We had some more guys.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What do you see as his top skill?

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

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

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

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

Q: What kind of a pass rusher is he?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A: It never crossed my mind.

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

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

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

A: Yeah.

Q: What makes him good at it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Do you see any Justin Tuck comparisons?

A: I certainly hope the results are that.

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

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

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

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

Q: Can he do that right away?

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

MEDIA Q&A WITH ODIGHIZUWA:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mykkele Thompson, Texas Longhorns (October 27, 2012)

Mykkele Thompson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

A: No.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MEDIA Q&A WITH THOMPSON:

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

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

Q: What’s surprising to you about it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What do you bring to the NFL?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What was the reaction when the phone rang?

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

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

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

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

A: Yes.

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

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

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

Geremy Davis – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Could Davis be a potential gunner?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MEDIA Q&A WITH DAVIS:

Q:  Did you think the Giants might be interested?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bobby Hart – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Did he play any inside?

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

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

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

MEDIA Q&A WITH HART:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What are your thoughts on Jameis Winston?

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

Q: Do you know Ereck Flowers?

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

Q: How would you describe yourself as a player?

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

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Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Eric’s Take on the 2015 Draft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

What the Giants Didn’t Accomplish

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

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

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May 082015
 
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Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (June 11, 2013)

Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

MAY 8, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS ROOKIE MINI-CAMP REPORT…
The first day of the New York Giants three-day rookie mini-camp began on Friday. Sixty-six players – draft picks, signed rookie free agents, first-year players who have not completed a season of credited service, and street and rookie free agent tryout players – were in attendance.

PARTICIPANTS…

2015 NFL Draft Picks (6):

  • OL Ereck Flowers, University of Miami
  • S Landon Collins, University of Alabama
  • DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA
  • FS Mykkele Thompson, University of Texas
  • WR Geremy Davis, University of Connecticut
  • OG Bobby Hart, Florida State University

2015 Signed Rookie Free Agents (6):

  • HB Akeem Hunt, Purdue University
  • TE Matt LaCosse, University of Illinois
  • OT Sean Donnelly, Tulane University
  • DE Brad Harrah, University of Cincinnati
  • LB Cole Farrand, University of Maryland
  • S Justin Currie, Western Michigan University

New York Giants First-Year Players (10):

  • FB Nikita Whitlock
  • TE Jerome Cunningham
  • OC Brett Jones
  • OT Michael Bamiro
  • DE Jordan Stanton
  • LB Uani Unga
  • LB Ryan Jones
  • CB Bennett Jackson
  • S Thomas Gordon
  • PK Chris Boswell

Tryout Players (44):

  • QB Gary Nova, Rutgers
  • QB Taylor Graham, Hawaii
  • QB Pete Thomas, Louisiana-Monroe
  • RB Reggie Whatley, Middle Tennessee St.
  • RB Anthony Cade, Lindenwood
  • RB Kenneth Harper, Temple
  • WR Taylor Belsterling, Huntington (Ala.) College
  • WR Lemar Durant, Simon Fraser University
  • WR Ben Edwards, Richmond
  • WR Derrick Johnson, Maine
  • WR Chris Perkins, Middle Tennessee State
  • WR Addison Richards, University of Regina
  • WR Andrew Robustelli, Jacksonville
  • TE Justin Jones, East Carolina
  • TE Matt Marfisi, Tulane
  • TE Will Tye, Stony Brook
  • OC Sean McEwen, University of Calgary
  • OG Sukh Chungh, University of Calgary
  • OG Mario Rodriguez, Western Michigan
  • OT Danny Groulx, Laval (Canada)
  • OT Kevin Murphy, Harvard
  • OT Jacob Ruby, Richmond
  • OT Richard Washington, Morehouse
  • DE Brad Bars, Penn State
  • DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe, Colorado
  • DT Donte Rumph, Kentucky
  • DT Carlif Taylor, Southern Connecticut
  • DT Rakeem Knight, Bethue-Cookman
  • DT Daryl Waud, University of Western Ontario
  • LB Brandon Golson, West Virginia
  • LB Byron Archambault, University of Montreal
  • LB Ron Omara, St. Francis Xavier
  • LB Takari Johnson, Concordia-Ann Arbor
  • CB Ian Williams, Fordham
  • CB Marc Anthony, California
  • CB Tevaughn Campbell, University of Regina (Saskatchewan)
  • CB Qua Cox, Jackson State
  • CB Willie Creear, Eastern Michigan
  • CB Thomas Finnie, Bethune-Cookman
  • CB Tyree Hollins, Grambling
  • S Chris Ackie, Wilfred Laurier
  • S C.J. Conway, Montclair State
  • P Bobby Cowan, Idaho
  • LS Luke Ingram, Hawaii

NEWLY SIGNED…
The New York Giants announced that they have officially signed DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa, their 3rd round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. S Mykkele Thompson (5th round) and OG Bobby Hart (7th round) signed on Thursday.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Bennett Jackson appears to have been moved from cornerback to safety. However, Tom Coughlin said Chykie Brown will remain at cornerback for now. The starting safeties were Landon Collins and Jackson. Collins spent time as the deep safety.
  • “Tight end Jerome Cunningham, who spent time on the practice squad last year, had a busy day and hauled in a handful of catches.” (Giants.com)
  • The starting offensive line was LT Ereck Flowers-LG Michael Bamiro-OC Brett Jones-RG Bobby Hart-RT Sean Donnelly. (Giants.com)
  • “The first-round pick (Erick Flowers) is huge (6-6, 329) and carries his weight so incredibly well. He moves effortless for a player that size, and it’s obvious he’s on a different level athletically than the rest of the linemen.” (NJ.com)
  • Multiple reports said DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa flashed very good first-step quickness.
  • Rookie tryout player WR Andrew Robustelli is the grandson of New York Giants Hall of Fame DE Andy Robustelli.
  • Rookie tryout player QB Taylor Graham is the son of former New York Giants quarterback Kent Graham.
  • Former New York Giants RB Brandon Jacobs and S Deon Grant were on hand to watch practice.

VICTOR CRUZ SIGHTING…
While he did not practice, WR Victor Cruz was spotted by the media rehabbing the torn patellar tendon in his right knee. “I just watched Victor Cruz go through a vigorous indoor workout, with lots of stopping and cutting. Impressive,” tweeted The New York Post.

HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
Tom Coughlin addressed the media after the morning practice (video is available at Giants.com). Some points of note:

  • On why he likes OT Ereck Flowers: “His athleticism. His ability to run, to pull, to run, his pass protection and the fact he is a big man that (defenders) are going to have to navigate a lot to get around him. Strong.”
  • On S Landon Collins: “Basically a guy who, as I saw today, went back to what I really do believe and that is that he can play in the middle of the field. He can play in the deep half as well as come down and be a physical force in the tackle box.”
  • On why the coaches have been informing the new players about the history of the New York Giants defense: “The tradition. The passion. The Giant tradition. The great defenses that have been played here in the past. The idea that we have to get back to that.”

PLAYERS SPEAK…
The following video clips of player media Q&As are available at Giants.com:

  • OC Brett Jones (Video)
  • S Landon Collins (Video)
  • DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (Video)
  • S Mykkele Thompson (Video)
  • WR Geremy Davis (Video)
  • OG Bobby Hart (Video)
  • QB Gary Nova (Video)
  • WR Andrew Robustelli (Video)
  • DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa on coming to the Giants (from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense): “Yeah, anytime you are in a ‘43’ system and your linemen are asked to attack up field and wreak havoc it is always exciting. I feel like my skill set is definitely fitting for that type of defense, so I am excited about it. I think it is going to be great for me and I am going to bring a lot to the defense. Working hard every day and staying versatile and staying coachable.”
  • S Bennett Jackson on converting to safety: “At the end of the day, I am a (defensive back). I think my strengths are my cover skills. I have good speed and great ball skills. The thing that it is going to take for me to get out there and make an impact is I have to learn the defense and communicate the calls fluently. That is really the main thing with learning a new defense, you just have to be accountable and allow people to trust that you are going to be out there and get the job done.”

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May 072015
 
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Cole Farrand, Maryland Terps (November 3, 2012)

Cole Farrand – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The New York Giants announced on Thursday that they have signed two of their six draft picks in the 2015 NFL Draft: safety Mykkele Thompson (5th round) and offensive guard Bobby Hart (7th round).

The Giants also confirmed on Thursday evening that they have signed the following undrafted rookie free agents:

RB Akeem Hunt, 5’9”, 189 pounds, 4.40, Purdue University
Hunt is a dynamic, diminutive running back who is a threat to score every time he touches the football as a runner, receiver, or returner. Not many running backs his size make it in the NFL, but he is an explosive player. Hunt is extremely fast and quick. He is elusive, but not powerful. He is easily tackled due to his size. Hunt has very good hands and has been used in a variety of pass-receiving roles, including split out wide and on screens. Hunt is probably too small to be effective in picking up blitzes and therefore faces an uphill battle to be a third-down back. He has excelled as a kick returner at the collegiate level. If he makes it, Hunt would be strictly a limited role player at the NFL level.

TE Matt LaCosse, 6’6”, 250 pounds, 4.64, University of Illinois
LaCosse is a versatile player who has played tight end, H-Back, and fullback. LaCosse has a good frame, but needs to add bulk and get stronger. He does not get much movement as a blocker, but he works at it. LaCosse has good speed and catches the football well.

OT Sean Donnelly, 6’8”, 307 pounds, 5.48, Tulane University
Donnelly is a very tall tackle who needs to add bulk and strength. His lack of strength and power shows up in the running game as he does not generate a lot of movement in his run blocks. Donnelly has good good feet and is a solid pass protector. He has a good football temperament – tough and tenacious.

DE Brad Harrah, 6’5”, 258 pounds, 4.93, University of Cincinnati
As a senior in 2014, Harrah played in 13 games and had 32 tackles (16 solo) and 3.5 sacks.

LB Cole Farrand, 6’3”, 245 pounds, 4.75, University of Maryland
Farrand played inside linebacker at Maryland. He lacks ideal size and speed. However, he is a smart, tough, hard-working, instinctive linebacker who plays well against the run and is decent in coverage. Hard hitter and sure tackler.

SS Justin Currie, 6’2”, 204 pounds, 4.63, Western Michigan University
Currie is a big safety who is better against the run than the pass. He is a good hitter and tackler. Currie is a decent athlete for his size.

Because of these moves, we have updated the Transactions, Roster, and Depth Chart sections of the website.

The six New York Giants draft picks, six signed rookie free agents, first-year players currently on the roster, and tryout players arrived at the Meadowlands today in preparation of the rookie mini-camp that begins on Friday and ends Sunday. Roughly 60 players are expected to be in attendance. A video of the players arriving is available at Giants.com.