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

by Sy’56, New Era Scouting

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

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Top 3

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

Top Mid-Round Value

Al Woods – LSU

Top Sleeper

Corey Peters – Kentucky

***

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

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

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

LINEBACKER

Top 3

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

Top Mid-Round Value

AJ Edds – Iowa

Top Sleeper

Ryan Stamper – Florida

***

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

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

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

DEFENSIVE END

Top 3

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

Top Mid Round Value

Jermaine Cunningham – Florida

Top Sleeper

Willie Young – NC State

***

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

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

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

CORNERBACKS

Top 3

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

Top Mid Round Value

Chris Cook – Virginia

Top Sleeper

Walter Thurmond – Oregon

***

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

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

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

SAFETIES

Top 3

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

Top Mid Round Value

Darrell Stuckey – Kansas

Top Sleeper

Jeromy Miles – UMASS

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

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

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

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

by Colin Lindsay, Great Blue North Draft Report

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apr 142010
 
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New York Giants 2010 NFL Draft Needs

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

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

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

Draft Priority: Low

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

Draft Priority: Low

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

Draft/Trade Priority:  Low

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

Draft Priority:  Moderate

Offensive Line:

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

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

Draft Priority: Moderate

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

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

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

Draft Priority: Very high.

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

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

Draft Priority: Very high.

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

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

Draft Priority: Moderate

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

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

Draft Priority: Low

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

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

by Colin Lindsay, Great Blue North Draft Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 092009
 
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New York Giants 2009 NFL Draft Review

Draft Pick Scouting Reports
Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports
Eric’s Take on the 2009 Draft

Round Pick in Round Overall Selection Player Selected
1 29 29 WR Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina
2 13 45 LB Clint Sintim, Virginia
2 28 60 OT William Beatty, Connecticut
3 21 85 WR Ramses Barden, Cal Poly
3 36 100 TE Travis Beckum, Wisconsin
4 29 129 HB Andre Brown, North Carolina State
5 15 151 QB Rhett Bomar, Sam Houston State
6 27 200 CB DeAndre Wright, New Mexico
7 29 238 CB Stoney Woodson, South Carolina

2009 Draft Pick Scouting Reports

1st Round – WR Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina, 6-1, 212lbs, 4.50

SCOUTING REPORTJunior entry who started three years.  He is similar in style to Anquan Boldin of the Cardinals.  Super productive in college, he set school career-records for catches (181), yards (2,840), and touchdowns (21).  Nicks has a nice combination of size, strength, and athletic ability.  Nicks has long arms and big hands.  He plays faster than he times, but he is not a burner and he will not get much separation against NFL corners on deep balls.  Nicks can beat the jam at the line of scrimmage.  Nicks runs good routes and knows how to get open.  He has a burst out of his cuts.  He adjusts well to the football.  A natural pass-catcher, Nicks has superb hands and will make the circus catch.  He attacks the football when it is in the air.  He will make the tough catch in traffic over the middle.  Nicks is tough to tackle after the catch.  He is a confident competitor who makes plays in clutch situations.  Nicks does need to work on becoming an more aggressive run blocker.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE:

From Sunday

Hakeem Nicks – we felt like he was a really good value pick and a need position.  We got a little bit of both at that time; very productive, big body, long arms.  We like him.

Q:  You talked about the fact that Nicks may be a little more ready than some of the other guys because of the pro style that he played and things like that.  Is that the opposite of a guy like Barden?

A:  Well the level of competition is different but Nicks did play in a pro-style offense.  He has a pro-style body.  He is a young guy but he has a pro-style body.  He is a big, thick wide receiver.  And we like that about him.  He played in the pro-style. He understands defenses.  He lines up and plays any position.  He lined his teammates up so he is smart in that respect.  So he can line up in the slot, he can line up inside; he can line up outside, X, Z, wherever you want him, he can line up.  So there are a lot of things that I like about him in that respect.  Ramses has a lot to learn but he has a huge, huge upside.  We think he can come in and contribute right away as a threat down in the red zone.  He is one of those guys – if you get a little corner and there is a real matchup problem, you can just throw it out there and we would like to think that he can come down with it.  He did that a lot where he played football – at his college at Cal Poly.  So we expect him to be able to do some things like that while he is learning on the job.  And we expect him to play – all of these guys – we expect them to play on special teams.  That is a common theme – we always expect – if you are not a starter, you play on special teams in some aspect.

From Saturday

Q:  Did you get your man?

A:  We got a very good player; very good player.  We like him a lot.  He is a big, strong kid, very productive, strong body type that you like.  A lot of production.  He is a very young kid, I think he is only 20 years old.  So we feel good about picking this guy at 29.  A lot of production.

Q:  You said the other day you didn’t have a glaring need at WR.  You picked him.  Why?

A:  Well because we had a good grade on him and he was there at the right time.  We didn’t reach for anybody.  We feel good about where we picked him.  Again, he is a good football player, a lot of production – 12 touchdowns, over 1200 yards receiving, very good hands, ball skills, can absorb contact.  There are a lot of things that I like about this guy.  We are very happy to get him at 29.

Q: Can he return kicks, too?

A:  He is not a kick returner.  He probably can return kicks but he has a big, strong body, kind of reminds you, probably of the body type of Boldin.  But he is almost 6-2, he has very long arms, big hands.  So we are happy to have him.

Q:  There were some questions about his weight, some other things.  How much investigating did you do?

A:  Well everything is over exaggerated during the draft and so much of what I call chatter and a lot of false chatter.  But he did gain some weight after the Combine.  He tweaked his hamstring so he really was down and he really couldn’t do a lot of work with the hamstring.  When you do those hamstrings you have to rest.  And then he gained some weight, got his weight back down and I don’t think that is an issue at all for us.

Q: From what you know, what kind of impact can be make?

A:  We expect him to come in and compete for a job and be a contributor in some respect.  Any time you pick a guy in the first round, you expect him to be able to come in and be able to contribute for you.  Hopefully he will be able to do that.  Again, throw him in the mix with the rest of the receivers that we have.  And we will see how quickly he can come along.

Q:  What different elements does he provide that the current receivers do not?

A:  Well he is just a good receiver.  He has got size.  He has good speed.  He is not Heyward-Bey fast, but he has good speed.  He ran 4.51 at the Combine.  So we expect him to come in and get in the mix.

Q:  How close did you come to making a trade today?

A:  We didn’t come close at all.  We talked about it a couple of times but again, to reach in the first round is just not the right thing for us to do.  We don’t want to compromise the strength of our team by reaching for guys and reaching for need too early in the first round.  I think you make mistakes when you do that.  So we felt good about where we were at 29.  We knew we would get a good player at 29.  And we are very pleased with what we got.

Q:  Some receivers took awhile to drop – was there any more of a temptation then as some guys dropped?

A:  Yeah, there were some interesting guys as they started to drop a little bit.  But again, they started to drop because receivers in the first round – it is dangerous when you go up and try to get guys in the first round.  So we thought maybe that could happen; a possibility that could happen that some of the receivers might drop.  We had good grades on several receivers and Hakeem was one of them.

Q:  Is the hamstring a lingering issue?

A:  I expect to see him at a full go.  Our trainers and doctors gave us the okay on him.  And I don’t think that will be an issue at all.

Q:  What do you say about not having a veteran No. 1 receiver on your roster?

A:  I say some guys had better step up.  That is what I will say.  It is a great opportunity for guys to step up and we look forward to seeing who will step out of the shadows.

Q:  You said that you did not come close to a trade up.  How about trading for a veteran in the last couple of days? Have you come close at all for that?

A:  No.

Q:  Are you still open to that?

A:  I’m open to everything.  We are always open.  We will leave all of our options open, too.

Q:  You got to see him up close in person.  Did he jump on your radar then?

A:  We have four veteran scouts plus Marc (Ross), who is our College Director who really liked this guy.  Jeremiah Davis goes in there and liked him a lot; Steve Verderosa as well, and Joe Collins.  Those guys are veteran scouts.  All of those guys really liked him.  He was one of the guys we had targeted.  And we felt like if he…in our window.  We were a little worried that somebody might take him as well, because he is a talent.

Q:  Did you have him in for a workout or a visit?

A:  No, we saw enough of him.  We really didn’t need to do anything else with him.  People think it is a smoke screen when you bring guys in.  We really don’t play those games.  When we bring guys in there is a reason for it.  He really didn’t have anything for us to bring him in for.

Q:  Value vs. need.  Was this a value pick?

A:  It absolutely was a value pick.  It was a little bit of both.  So that is what we always target on.  And again if you get up there and start drafting for need you compromise the strength of your overall team and we don’t feel good about doing that kind of ‘picking for need.’  It is something that you always think about, talk about and have in the back of your mind.  But we always try to get value with our picks as well as need.  If need comes into it, that is good.  If you get a little bit of both, that is great.

Q:  Did you have a cluster of guys?

A:  We had our first row stacked pretty good; pretty much like how they came off.  So that was – Marc and his staff did a good job getting that first row looking like how it came off pretty much for the most part.

RE:  His ball skills.  Is this a kind of guy who plays bigger than he is?

A:  He is almost 6-2.  Again he has a very long wing span, big hands, plays big. He is one of those guys that absorb contact, hangs on to the ball, runs after the catch.  So, yeah, he plays bigger than probably his size.  But this guy is not a little guy.  This is a big, thick receiver.

Q:  Some people say that he compares to Boldin?

A:  Yeah, I just said that.  His body type – he is more similar to Boldin than he would be Heyward-Bey or Maclin.  Maclin kind of reminds us of Mario Manningham – the kind of body type and how he looked on tape.  And obviously he was a good player as well.  We liked all of those guys that got picked.

Q:  You mentioned you were worried that somebody would take him.  Did that make you nervous?

A:  It didn’t make us nervous.  It was a concern that one of those guys could take him.  But there were other names on the board that we liked at 29 as well.  So we had four players right there that we were ready to pick.  But these four guys were right together and we thought our best interest was to pick the receiver because they all had similar grades and we think this guy is talent.

Q:  Was Ray Maualuga one of them?

A:  Could have been.

Q:  How close did you come to trading down?

A:  We didn’t come close to trading down.

Q:  Or up?

A:  Or up.  Not really.  We talked about it a little bit but we felt good about 29 – that we were going to get a good player.  Again, we had four players – we could take either one of them and we would have been happy with them – the four players.

Q:  Did his performance in the bowl game influence you in any way?

A:  No, we just try to look at the entire body of work on players.  One game doesn’t make or break him for us.  A guy could have the best game of his life or the worst game of his life.  And we just try to look at the big picture and look at the whole body of work on all of the players we try to pick.

Q:  Is it fair to say he was the only receiver in the cluster of four?

A:  He was the only receiver at that time, yes.  Correct.

MEDIA Q&A WITH DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING MARC ROSS:

RE:  Nicks.  At what point did you get him on your radar?  Which specific game?

A:  We don’t look at juniors until they declare.  That is against NFL rules.  We don’t look at juniors until they declare.  Then we start evaluating them.  After he declared we looked at everything.  We have three scouts that go in there.  I have seen him.  Our receivers coach…once he declares then we just go at it just like anybody else – Combine, Pro Day.  We hit it all.

Q:  Was there any one thing or game that caught your eye about Nicks?

A:  His coup de grace was the West Virginia game that everybody talks about.  But you pull out any other tapes and he makes spectacular catches in the Duke – he catches one in the end zone going out the back of the end zone against his helmet. He is always going up making plays over people.  That is the most intriguing thing…a lot of guys can catch without people around them.  This guy catches with people, with bodies, around him in traffic, goes over people.  He is a strong, physical guy who has a big catching radius; big hands.  And in my opinion these kinds of guys are the successful receivers in the NFL.  The Larry Fitzgeralds, the Boldins, those strong physical guys are the ones who do well.  And I think he will do well.

Q: Does he have good enough speed to stretch the field?
A: I don’t know how coach is going to use him. That’s up to him. He’s not a Heyward-Bey or Maclin, a straight out run guy but again what receivers in the league that are great receivers just run fast and don’t have the other stuff. This kid has speed. He averaged 18 yards a catch. He gets down field and makes a lot of plays.

Q: A lot of people have compared his body to Anquan Boldin.

A: The physicalness they talk about, the run after catch. This guy catches and gets up field quick. He’s got a little shake to him. He’s got a great stiff arm. If you watch him, he’s always stiff arming guys off of him. He carries guys when they’re tying to tackle him. Those are the things that Anquan did. Anquan ran 4.8 coming out. This kid is a 4.5 guy. So, the body type and the hands are probably more polished. He stepped on campus as a freshman and produced.

Q: Is his weight gain after the combine a problem or negative at all?

A:  We talked about it. I went to his workout and I was as disappointed as anybody. I go down there and the guy gained some weight. The guy was hurt. He had a hamstring and couldn’t work out. Nothing up to that point or anything in his body of work led me to believe that this was typical of the kid. You took him for his word that he was legitimately hurt and gained some weight. He lost the weight. You just have to trust him.

Q: Do you rely on kids when their coaches have NFL experience? Do you talk to those coaches?

A: Yeah. We have scouts going there and some coaches on our staff have coached with some guys who are on the staff with the players. We use all of our resources. We dig and dig as much as we can to try and find out everything.

Q: If they give a high report, do you have to filter it because they like the kid?

A: Yeah. That’s when you have to build relationships with the college coaches and know who you can trust and who is going to tell you the straight scoop. They’re all pumping their guys. It’s rare you’ll get a guy to bang on one of their players. It’s more often than not it’s positive and they oversell them a little bit. They have personal attachment. They’re been around the guys. They recruited the kids and have been around them for four years. So, you can’t blame them. It’s like their kids almost.

Q: You mentioned the word polished. He played in a pro-style offense. Could he be ready right away to play?

A: That was one of the things that was most intriguing. We felt that he was. He played in that pro-style offense. He lined up in various different spots there. He helped other guys like the other receivers get lined up. Just the way he plays the game, he just has such a savvy feel for getting open and beating zones. We thought his style would easily transfer to our level where some of the other guys have played in the spread offenses or doing wildcat stuff, hybrid guys. This guy was a receiver, a pro-style receiver.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN:

Coughlin: Being in the position that we are in, to be able to pick a player of this ability, Hakeem Nicks is a guy that averaged 18 yards a reception his senior year. He’s got outstanding hands, big hands, long arms. Goes over the middle, catches the ball. If you saw the West Virginia game, there are two spectacular plays in that game that he makes. One is on a tipped ball. Long touchdowns, 217 yards of receptions that day. He’s a big strong receiver, a little more that 6 foot, 210-212. He had a hamstring injury as you know coming out of the combine. He was not able to run in his pro day. I just spoke with him and he says he feels good now. He feels good again. So, I think he’s pretty much ready to go. We’re excited to have the opportunity to have this quality receiver in. It’s obviously a position of need. We weren’t going to reach to take a player. If the player that we wanted at the receiver position wasn’t there, we were prepared to go elsewhere. There was no moving back for us because Tennessee took Kenny Britt right behind us. So, you know that they were in the market for a receiver as well

Q: Usually rookie receivers don’t make a huge impact right away. Do you think that maybe he could do that?

A: Well you certainly have to hope that he can. He is certainly going to have the opportunity. We’ve got some guys here that we’re looking forward to as well. So I don’t think he has to do anything except be a very good solid football player, learn as fast as he can. Certainly we are going to expect him to learn the offense and play the game at the high level that he’s played it throughout his collegiate career. As a freshman, he averaged 16 yards per reception. So he’s got those numbers. I think the real idea is that he comes in, he learns the offense, he gets an opportunity to compete with the good players that we have here. Through that experience we’re going to get the best out of that position.

Q: A lot of people think he’s the next Plax. Is that putting too much on the kid?

A: I think that is. He is his own man. We’re not into the comparison between players. I think we’ve got to give Hakeem an opportunity to come in here. His ability level is very high. Let’s let him be who he is. I think he’ll do very well.

Q: Do you have an idea of where he could play, what kind of role, and if he could play a couple of different spots?

A: He’s learned to play all of the positions at North Carolina. I don’t think that will be an issue.

Q: What kind of guy is he, personality-wise?

A: He’s a little bit on the quiet side. But, he’s the first one in line and he’s been that way as far as his position is concerned at North Carolina. I think you’ll like him.

Q: I know you didn’t want to reach for a wide receiver with a trade, but with the way the draft was breaking did you started to get a little worried that your wide receiver might not be there for you at 29.

A: That was a distinct possibility. Probably from 20 down that could’ve been something that happened. Fortunately, it didn’t. We were very much aware that there were a lot of phone call type things going on in the room, none of which materialized because some were opportunities for us to trade back, which we nixed.

Q: Your concern now is next year, not 5 years from now. Is it difficult to not have a veteran No. 1 wide receiver for next year?

A: Our concern is what’s best for our team. All of those things didn’t materialize the way some of this has been conjectured beforehand. I’m not concerned about that as much as I am the fact that let’s take the opportunity right now to recognize we did draft a very good collegiate receiver, a young, young receiver who’s got an exceptional body. As I said, he’s made a lot of plays in college. Let’s bring him in here and get him ready to go and compete with the guys we have.

MEDIA Q&A WITH PLAYER:

Q: How does it feel to be a New York Giant?

A: It feels great, just a great feeling. It’s a dream come true. I’m just ready to get to my team and just contribute my best way possible.

Q: As the draft process went along, did you have a feeling that it might be the Giants to select you?

A: That’s what I was hearing a lot but I really just didn’t get all into it. I was just waiting to hear my name called. Once it got called it was a great feeling and I’m excited to be where I’m at.

Q: How’s your hamstring?

A: I’ll be full go. Once I get up there it will be full go. It’s football time. My hamstring hasn’t been an issue. I’m back to a 100%. Got my weight back down and I’m ready to play football.

Q: Do you think the weight issue dropped you a lot further in the draft than you were expecting to go?

A: I don’t necessarily think it dropped me but really I can’t say because I really don’t know what everybody was thinking. As far as for myself, I knew my weight wasn’t going to be an issue. I just knew it was something that I had to be cautious of in the way I had to handle it.

Q: What do you expect to do as a rookie?

A: As a rookie, I just want to go in and get with the veterans of the group, learn my role early as a rookie and just contribute to my team the best way possible.

Q: How aware are you of the opportunity here with the loss of Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer?

A: I just want to get in the program and find my role and just be able to contribute the best way possible. I’m Hakeem Nicks and I want to get there and prove that I have talent and want to play in the National Football League.

Q: Can you describe yourself as a receiver?

A: Just a great physical receiver that has a motor.

RE: Comparisons to Anquan Boldin and Michael Irvin

A: I’ve been compared to them a lot throughout college, Michael Irvin a lot. Coach Davis compares me to him a lot and Anquan Boldin as well. I just want to keep doing what I’ve been doing to get me to this point. That’s what God has in store for me.

RE: Playing in New York.

A: I love it. New York is a great team. I’m ready to get up there and I’m ready to win.

Q: What do you know about Coach Coughlin from talking to him?

A: He seems like a pretty cool coach. I’m just ready to get in there and ready to be coached.

Q: How much of a deep threat are you?

A: I feel like I’m a very deep threat. It just wasn’t my role in our offense. We had three good receivers and each one of us had our different roles but early in my college career, that’s what I felt like I did best and I still feel like I do that very well.  My job is to catch the ball when it comes my way.

Q: Are you in North Carolina now?

A: Yes I’m in North Carolina. I’m in Charlotte.


2nd Round – LB Clint Sintim, Virginia, 6-3, 256lbs, 4.77

SCOUTING REPORTFour-year starter.   Productive player who accrued 245 tackles and 27 sacks in college.  Sintim is a big, strong, athletic linebacker who played in the 3-4 defense in college.  He will need to adjust to the Giants’ 4-3 scheme.  Sintim has very good size and long arms.  He lacks ideal speed.  Good run defender and pass rusher.  He can stack the point-of-attack, though he does need to improve his consistency in shedding blocks.  Physical, aggressive, tough, and instinctive.  Sintim is better attacking the line of scrimmage than moving in reverse.  He lacks experience in coverage and needs a lot of technique work in that department, but he does have the athletic ability to improve.  Sintim is probably better suited to zone than man coverage as he is a bit stiff in the hips.  He is a competitive player who will hustle and chase.  In the 4-3, he projects as a strongside linebacker, but he might be able to play middle linebacker as well.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE:

Clint Sintim – We will play him at SAM.  He is a powerful man, big powerful guy.  He can rush the passer.  He has played over the tight end.  Neutralizes the tight end for us in that respect.  We can see him doing some hybrid stuff as a rusher and as a linebacker and doing some dropping stuff as well.

MEDIA Q&A WITH DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING MARC ROSS:

Re: Clint Sintim’s pass rush ability

A:  I don’t know what (highlights) they showed (on TV), but he is a heck of a pass rusher.  That is what we liked about him.  He is a physical at the point of attack guy.  He can really rush the passer – 11 sacks this year.  He has played out of space for Virginia – played at the line as a D end and played linebacker.  So he is a smart guy that can play multiple positions. The way we use our guys in various ways, he will fit in there perfectly.  But he is a big guy who is physical.  And he is a presence at the line.

Q:  He played the 3-4 defense at Virginia.  Can he adapt to your scheme?

A:  Yeah, he will be fine.  Like I said, our SAM plays up on the line a little bit and on  third downs hopefully he can work in that pass rush rotation with the rest of those guys.  That is the strength of his.

Q:  Can he be a stand up defense end or he is a pure pass rusher?

A:  A stand up defensive end?

Q:  Up on the line?

A:  Yeah.  He is a linebacker for us but I wouldn’t want him to be a full time D end.

Q:  Did he play a lot of coverage in college?

A:  Yeah, they played him over the slot a lot there.  The 3-4, they don’t a lot of man coverage, they drop to a spot and read stuff.  And he is good.  He has a good understanding of the routes and that deal.  So he has done it all.  He has been out in space, he has been at the line, he has been on the line as a SAM.  So he has done everything.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN:

Q: Your first two picks both played in college for guys who coached in the NFL. Does that help their development and does that help you?

A: I think the way that it helps is really in the information gathering. When you talk to coaches that have been in this league and they know the process and they know what it takes and you want to find out if this player has what it takes, that helps.

MEDIA Q&A WITH PLAYER:

Q:  You come from a different system than the Giants play.  Have they spoken to you at all yet about where they see you fitting in here?

A:  Yeah, I actually had an opportunity to go out on a visit there and they really described where exactly I would be playing and what I would be doing.  So I’m pretty familiar with exactly what I would be doing.

Q:  What did they tell you?  What are you going to?

A:  Basically they just told me that I am going to be the SAM linebacker similar to what I played here at Virgina.  They asked me to do a little bit of other things. But I’m going to be the SAM linebacker and similar to what I do here at the University.

A:  What do you think you can do to contribute to this team?

A:  Honestly I’m not all about projections and what I can do.  All I really want to do is just come in there and just work hard and try to establish myself as a hard worker.  It is a great organization.  They have been for quite some time.  It is one of those organizations that is competing for championships every year.  I’m just going to come out there and just try to work hard and do whatever I can do to contribute.

Q:  You said that you had talked to the Giants.  How likely did you think they would be the ones to pick you?

A:  To be perfectly honest this whole thing is…just one of the events where you just didn’t know what.  I knew that my best shot to be picked in the first round would have been the Giants.  But there were so many teams that showed interest and everybody kind of keeps their focus based throughout this whole ordeal.  For me it was just watching and waiting – watching and waiting and just try to figure out who was going to take me.

Q: Are you more of a pass rushing linebacker or can you go pass rush and run defense?

A:  I’m just a linebacker.  At the end of the day I’m just a linebacker.  I had an opportunity to be coached by Coach…at the University of Virginia.  And he is a great coach and he taught me a lot about linebacker play.  I can’t sit here and say I’m the greatest at this or that but one thing I can say is that I’m willing to work and learn and just make myself a better player.  This organization is a great organization.  It is a great city.  I’m just trying to match my ability so I can do whatever I can to kind of help out.

Q:  What do you think the biggest adjustment will be coming into the NFL?

A:  Just learning; learning.  You have to understand – you play with grown men everyday.  This is a game that is physical and it demands a lot physically and mentally.  And you are playing with guys who have wives and kids and have been doing it for quite some time.  I’m just going to have to bring my hard hat everyday and just compete and really just try to be a playmaker – just do whatever I can to help the organization out.  I’ve been blessed to be in a situation that I am in.  This is a great day for me and my family but it doesn’t stop here.  We have to continue to work and continue to develop and get better day.

Q: Where are we talking to you from?

A:  You are talking to me from my house.  I’m sitting outside my house right now.  We have a couple of people in there – maybe about 20 or 30 people in there.  We are all just sitting there and they watched –even though we kind of found out together.  So it is pretty cool.

Q:  Did you come up for a visit to the Giants or did they come and see you?

A:  I actually came up for a visit with the Giants.

Q:  Who did you speak to?

A:  I had an opportunity to check out the facility and meet Coach Coughlin and everybody.  It was pretty cool.

Q:  When was that?

A:  I visited the Giants probably about two weeks ago.  It was myself and about 18 other guys.

Q:  How many teams did you visit?  You said it was your last visit.

A:  I visited four teams – Buffalo, New Orleans, Kansas City and the Giants.

Q:  RE:  switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3

A:  It is a little different. But the game of football remains constant.  Football players are football players at the end of the day.  And the 3-4 is a little different than a 4-3 but I’m just excited about the opportunity.  I’m excited to learn and just kind of transition from this 3-4 to 4-3.  There are a lot of players in this draft and I’m just ready to try to come out there and learn and be better.

Q:  You said your roll in this 4-3 would be similar to what you did down there.  How is it similar?

A:  Playing on top of the tight end is always the same.  I have always played the top of the tight end and I think that is one of the strong points of my game.  So it is just a matter of learning the new scheme, trying to develop and just trying to get better.  So really that is why I’m out to do – just try to get better for myself and try to help the team out.  And just try to simulate into the New York Giants culture.


2nd Round – OT William Beatty, Connecticut, 6-6, 307lbs, 5.08

SCOUTING REPORTTwo-year starter.  Beatty is a very athletic left tackle with good height and long arms.  He does not have a huge frame, but he is has very good feet and agility.  Beatty is a much better pass protector than run blocker.  Beatty is not a mauler and does not get a lot of movement in the ground game.  He is more of a finesse player who needs to play with more toughness and aggressiveness.  He also needs to get bigger and stronger.  He has the ability to engage defenders at the second level.  Beatty is raw and he will need a lot of technique work.  Some have questioned his passion for the game and mental toughness, while others have said is is a hard worker who is committed to the game.  Beatty has a big upside.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE:

William Beatty – Tackle.  We like him as a guy who can develop with no pressure on him to come in and play right away.  But he will create some competition.  This guy is an excellent athlete.  We thought he was the best athlete of the tackles in the draft.  So we expect him to come in and contribute in some way.  But our offensive line is in tact.  There is no pressure for him to do that.  But if he does that, it will be great.  We expect him to come in and compete.

MEDIA Q&A WITH DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING MARC ROSS:

Q:  William Beatty – what did you see in him?

A:  William, athletically, just raw athletic ability.  He could have been up at the top with some of those other guys that got taken up there – really top feet for a tackle – left tackle feet.  He has long arms.  The kid benched 29 for having 35 inch arms; smart kid and still growing and developing as a player.  A lot of upside.  With our situation he doesn’t have to come in right away.  He can learn from those guys that we have.  We are excited about his growth.

Q:  We read that he had a weak Senior Bowl.

A:  Yeah, he was up and down that week.  He was up and down. But he showed you the things that intrigue you.  But he was up and down.  A lot of people are.  It is tough.  We don’t kill people by the Senior Bowl or skyrocket them off…the Senior Bowl or Combine.  We go off the tape.  It is a tough environment sometimes in that Senior Bowl setting.

Q:  You just put him in at left tackle from the get go?

A:  He is a natural left tackle; natural left tackle.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN:

Q:  Did you have William Beatty ranked high with tackles.  Where was he on your board?

A:  He was in a good place.  He was over in that second round.  But his distinguishing factors were his left tackle feet.  And he is very athletic.  He has made very good improvement, even over the course of the one season this past season he has made outstanding progress.  I certainly called Randy Edsell who I coached in college and that coached for me and there were four players in the Connecticut program ranked very highly.  I went down through them all, Randy was very good about taking time from his busy schedule to talk to me about these guys.  I think that the big difference for some of these young people to come in here is just adapting to the professional game.  The fact that our game is 7:30 in the morning to 4:00 in the afternoon, people have to understand that and adjust themselves to that.  And of course our training camps and type of thing – all of those guys will have to work themselves through that.  One of the things that is very interesting about Will – he is very strong – long, long arms, but still benched 29 and 30.  So a guy having that kind of athleticism, that kind of leverage, the feet that he has, the long arms that he has – and obviously he has got things to learn about pass protection at this level – the timing and the people that he is going to play against – but he is going to be taught fast because of the guys he is working against.  But the ingredients, I think, are there.  And the fact that we have a solid offensive line that he has time to be groomed.

Q:  His skill set – compared to when you drafted Guy Whimper and Adam Koets?  Was it higher going in?

A:  I’m not going to do the comparison thing.  But he is talented, he is talented.  That tells you something right there.


3rd Round – WR Ramses Barden, Cal Poly, 6-6, 229lbs, 4.60

SCOUTING REPORTThe Giants traded up in the 3rd round with the Philadelphia Eagles to select Barden.  Four-year starter at a small school.  Barden finished 2008 with 67 catches for 1,257 yards and 18 touchdowns.  Physically resembles Plaxico Burress but lacks Burress’ athleticism.  Barden is a huge wide receiver with long arms and big hands.  Not a top athlete, he does lack ideal speed and quickness.  Barden does not separate well from defenders.  Not a deep threat.  He needs a lot of work on his route running and he rounds his cuts too much.  Barden adjusts well to the football and has very good hands.  He will catch the ball in traffic.  He is not much of a threat after the catch.  Good blocker.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE:

Ramses Barden – A big receiver.  He is long; he is very long.  He has long arms.  He is 6-6, dominates his level of competition out there.  He had 50 touchdowns.  His career average is over 20 yards.  He has got huge numbers.  People dinged him a little bit at the Senior Bowl but the thing that we liked about him is that he got better every day.  At the first day he looked a little bit out of place but he got better every day.  So we liked that about him; outstanding hands.  He is a huge, huge target down in the red zone.

Q:  You talked about the fact that Nicks may be a little more ready than some of the other guys because of the pro style that he played and things like that.  Is that the opposite of a guy like Barden?

A:  Well the level of competition is different but Nicks did play in a pro-style offense.  He has a pro-style body.  He is a young guy but he has a pro-style body.  He is a big, thick wide receiver.  And we like that about him.  He played in the pro-style. He understands defenses.  He lines up and plays any position.  He lined his teammates up so he is smart in that respect.  So he can line up in the slot, he can line up inside; he can line up outside, X, Z, wherever you want him, he can line up.  So there are a lot of things that I like about him in that respect.  Ramses has a lot to learn but he has a huge, huge upside.  We think he can come in and contribute right away as a threat down in the red zone.  He is one of those guys – if you get a little corner and there is a real matchup problem, you can just throw it out there and we would like to think that he can come down with it.  He did that a lot where he played football – at his college at Cal Poly.  So we expect him to be able to do some things like that while he is learning on the job.  And we expect him to play – all of these guys – we expect them to play on special teams.  That is a common theme – we always expect – if you are not a starter, you play on special teams in some aspect.

Q:  You mentioned at one point that you didn’t necessarily think you needed a tall, long receiver.  But now that you have one, is that a pretty nice luxury to have on your team with a guy that size?

A:  Sure it is.  Like I said, you always want a big ‘spider man.’  And we think we have a young kid who can develop and really could hit big with him.  So we are looking forward to getting him out there and trying to get him acclimated to the National Football League.

Q:  I know you are hesitant to make a comparison, but do you see a lot of the comparisons to Plaxico?  Did he do a lot of the same stuff?  I know the speed isn’t necessarily the same.

A:  They have similar body types.  The Plax we saw was a seasoned veteran.  This guy is just a young kid coming from Cal Poly with a huge wing span.  But he was very productive.  Small school guys, we like for them to dominate their level of comp.  He stood out like a sore thumb – like Kevin Boss at his level of comp.  This guy stands out at his level of comp because he dominates that level of competition.  So you don’t want the guys at that level of competition to blend in.  He didn’t do that at all.

Q:  Did you fear that someone might take Barden?

A:  Well, we wanted to move up because we really like this guy.  We really think he has a huge upside.  So we had an opportunity not to give up a lot to move up so we gave up the second five and we moved up a few slots to secure him.  So we thought that was the right thing to do.  We wouldn’t do that unless we thought this guy had tremendous upside.

Q:  You mentioned when all of the Plaxico stuff was going on this team would have to find some other ways to win.  Is some of this going into that – you have a young H-back who creates some of the nightmare stuff you talked – you have a 6-6 receiver who is probably pretty raw but maybe on a couple of isolated plays he can create problems. Is that part of the thinking? You don’t have that one guy, but maybe a few guys can do different things to make up for that?

A:  I think our offense is well diversified but we consider ourselves a power running football team.  I don’t think that is going to change.  We are going to run the ball.  We have a veteran quarterback who is a Pro Bowler.  We are going to throw it when we want to but we want to be able to run it when we want to as well.  So I think we will be a very even keel, so to speak, football team.  We can do a little bit of both; a lot of both.

Q:  Barden – do you envision him being anything like a situational type player at the beginning with the learning curve he is going to have?

A:  That is another thing that jumped out as we – he is one of the kids that we brought in.  We wanted to make sure he could – we put him on the board, we put him in the classroom.  He was outstanding in that respect.  So we don’t think that will be a problem for him.  He just has to learn the speed of the game here.  It is going to be a big difference.  But he did play well and when they played Wisconsin, he played well.  He didn’t make all of the plays you wanted him to make in that game, but he did score a couple of touchdowns in the game.  And the Wisconsin coach raves about him; about how they had to prepare for this big guy.  Again, you put the tape on; he makes big play after big play.  The big play is kind of fun to watch.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN:

Q: A guy like Barden, where he puts up all these numbers against a lower level of competition, how can you project him in the NFL? Is it more difficult?

A: Just athletic ability, I think, and production. You’ve still got a guy with over 200 catches. You have 50 touchdowns. You have a guy with a 20 yard average per catch. So, we’ve got a guy with a lot of production. He came from a smaller brand of football, a smaller division. The level of comp is not the same. However, he played in the Senior Bowl. He played against Wisconsin. When he had those opportunities, he improved on a daily basis. He’s very impressive in his interviews and the opportunity to talk to him. He’s excited about coming to New York. He was here a couple of weeks ago and has family in the area. He was excited about that. When we study the college film, you can sit there and just think in terms of looking at the various receivers that were in the draft. When it came to the green zone, it was very obvious to anybody watching the significance of the bigger receiver working against the smaller opponent in that area of the field. I think that’s where you start out. Obviously he’s got to do everything. He does have a lot to learn. People did not think that they could contest with his physical ability so they got back off of him, which is not what will happen at our level. He’ll have to go through that. We can help him some; maybe start him at the Z so that he’s off the ball a little bit, in motion. But, he’ll quickly learn that the way in which the big receivers do get off the ball against the smaller corners, for example, is just to come off and be as physical as you can. You saw that with Fitzgerald. You’ve seen it with Plaxico Burress. You’ve seen it with a lot of the bigger receivers in our business. They just make it very physical on the smaller defensive backs. All of those things are in front of this guy. He’s very smart. He’s very excited. He’s highly, highly motivated. He worked out with Sanchez. From the time of working and preparing here, from the combine, until now, he’s had a chance to be with Sanchez to work out. He’s had many opportunities. People would maybe want to see Sanchez and they would of course notice the big receiver as well. He does have an awful lot of very fine physical attributes. He must be developed, no doubt. His speed and ability, as you always have to do with big receivers, is to get them to top speed as fast as they can. Those are the things. He’s very talented. It’s a very good option for us, obviously. You’ve got a 6’6” guy in the green zone. He does create a lot of problems for the opponent.

Q: They say that he hasn’t had to face the press coverage. How can you tell that he’s tough enough?

A: I think he’s tough enough. That’s not going to be the issue. It’s just learning how to contend with it and how to have enough patience for it. I’m not sure where he’ll end up right now, but there are ways to help him, initially anyway, become more familiar with it. You guys have been to our camp. Every practice there’s some form in individuals of either press or squat coverage that they have to work against. They’re either jammed or pressed every practice. He’ll learn fast. How fast can he keep from getting his feet tied up, get himself in position to get off the ball, and learn to be powerful with his hands? Those things are all in front of him.

Q: Having added Nicks and Barden early in the draft, do you feel a lot better about your receiving corps? It’s still very young. Do you have any interest in veteran receivers available?

A: That’s for the future to hold. At this point in time, having accomplished what we have, I’m excited about getting them in here. I’d be the last one to tell you that other than the pure practical nature of it, they’ve got to come in and practice and get themselves in a position where we think they can compete against these great players that they’re going to face. Having said that, that’s why we drafted them. We drafted these players with a specific purpose and need in mind. We felt they were of very good value. When both of those receivers were picked, they’re the highest guys on our board.

MEDIA Q&A WITH PLAYER:

Q: We knew the Giants needed size at the receiver position. You came in for a visit. You were rumored to be a target. Are you surprised at all with this one?

A: This process, you never really know. You hear all the time about somebody jumping up to snatch somebody who you didn’t expect them to get. Teams just really come out of the blue. There are no surprises by this. I did have a great time out in New York. I’d like to think that I made a little bit of an impression on the coaching staff and the personnel. I’m ecstatic to be a part of the team. I wouldn’t say that I’m excited. If anything, I’m just thrilled.

Q: How do you describe yourself? Do you describe yourself as more of a goal line guy or a down the field guy?

A: I’m a complete receiver. That’s my goal all the time, to be able to do everything you would ask a receiver to do whether it be down the field, immediate, short game, quick drops, run blocking, leadership. Those are the things that I want to bring to the table. The…ability is the completeness of the receiver. Of course seeing that it’s a major jump from college level to the NFL, there’s plenty to work from. As far as my goals and where I want to be, I want to be that complete receiver.

Q: Like running that fade?

A: Definitely. If that’s what’s needed, I want to bring down those balls. I want to help us score and move the chains.

Q: What do you think about the opportunity here? Obviously the two starting receivers from last year, Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer, are gone. So there is a pretty big chance to make an immediate impact.

A: I’m excited about it. There are a number of veteran guys that are already there who have a leg up. I want to go in and compete. I want to make whatever you think I can make. I won’t know what my opportunities are really until I get to the city, get into a practice uniform, and start working. I can’t wait to compete and try to earn the job. That’s what it’s going to have to be. It’s going to be earned. Nobody is going to give me anything.

Q: A lot of times we hear that rookie receivers have a tough time making it right away in the NFL because of the press coverage and the physicality of the league. Given your size, do you believe you’ll have an easier time overcoming that than most?

A: I don’t know if it will be any easier. I’ll have to put the same work in and I’ll have to really earn everything that I get. I think my size will give me an advantage in getting off the line of scrimmage, competing for the ball, and with this game being physical, when the ball is in the air, enabling me to make plays. It’s going to take work. Nothing is really going to come naturally in the next level.

Q: You played on the I-AA level, but you had that big game against Wisconsin. Did that give you the idea that, hey, I can play with the big boys, too?

A: I guess you could say it was part of it, but I’ve always had a lot of confidence in my ability and I’ve always really gotten excited to challenge myself and go against higher levels of competition and just challenge and test consistently. That’s what that game was. It was another opportunity to win a game, put another W in the column, and go against the top level of competition, and have fun doing it. You’re playing the game that you love. You always have fun playing. It was an opportunity to test myself at a national stage. I enjoyed it. It just helped me prepare myself for this more recent process of the pre-draft training and the pre-draft combine and all of that stuff.

Q: We saw your highlight video on YouTube and it just seemed like it was fade after fade. Was that part of the game plan, just once you got down there, throw it up to Ramses?

A: It was well put together. It was kind of a last minute thing just to give the everyday fan and everyday person an opportunity to see where I’m coming from and see who I am and what kind of player I am. I think that’s only the tip of the ice berg as far as my ability and the things that I can do. Like I said, things are going to take work. The fade was in our offense for a number of years when I got there. We still use it today. I like to think we added more variety over the years. You can’t go wrong when you’ve got certain red zone threats and you just have to take advantage of them.

Q: Did you hit it off with Mike Sullivan, the receivers coach?

A: I like to think so. We got a chance to sit down a couple of times, most recently in New York last week. I really enjoyed his company. I liked his approach to the game. He was a really intelligent person. It seemed like he was really dedicated to bringing in young guys and making them better. I really liked that a lot. Of course that doesn’t make him necessarily like him just because I like him. But, I’d like to think that the feelings are mutual and I was able to have similar effect on him.

Q: Knowing the guy the Giants got rid of, did they ask you about any off the field issues that were a concern?

A: Every team I ever talked to asked if there are any off the field issues that were concerns. But, no, I’ve never been in trouble. I’ve never been suspended from the team. I’ve never been arrested or anything like that. I’m fairly clean cut off the field. I have moderate fun with my friends and that’s it, most of which is in house and definitely out of trouble.


3rd Round – TE Travis Beckum, Wisconsin, 6-3, 243lbs, 4.62

SCOUTING REPORTTwo-and-a-half year starter.  Beckum has been compared to Dustin Keller of the Jets.  Beckum broke his left fibula during his senior season; the injury required surgery. He only played in four games as a senior and finished with 23 catches for 264 yards.  Beckum is a much better receiver than blocker.  Lacking size, he looks more like a big receiver than a tight end; he is more of an H-Back than true tight end.  He is a very good athlete.  Agile and fast.  He runs good routes.  Beckum can separate from linebackers and get down the field and threaten a defense vertically.  He adjusts well to the football and has good hands.  He will make the tough catch in traffic.  Beckum runs well after the catch.  Strong, but he doesn’t play that way as a blocker.  Beckum is a position-blocker, and he needs to be a more serious, aggressive, and physical player in that department.  There have been some concerns about his maturity and ability to learn a pro offense.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE:

Travis Beckum – Tight end, more of an H-back for us.  He will play more of an H-back type for us.  And obviously he is not the blocking type but we expect him to block to a degree in some of the stuff that we will do.  We think this guy could be a nightmare as a matchup problem for linebackers and strong safeties.  We like him in that respect. Also when it gets cold out here – when the wind starts to swirl out here and it gets cold in November, December, a shorter pass to a guy who can get open on the inside, a bigger target, will probably help our quarterback in that respect.  Because it is hard to throw the ball outside in this stadium as you all know.  So we think he could be a real nightmare for some matchup problems with (linebackers) and strong safety types.

Q:  Over the last couple of years any time you had the H-back, the move guy, it seems like they were primarily blockers. Did you look at that and say, “Boy it would be great if we had a guy like that who could catch the ball?”

A:  Well that is what we talked about regarding these type guys.  We had changed the categories from tight ends and H-backs.  We had H-back categories and we had tight end categories.  This guy was in the H-back category.  And this is a guy – these type H-backs— there are H-back kind of blockers and H-back kind of receivers.  He is more of the receiving type.  So we envision him as being a guy – not so much a blocker but more of a receiver and a playmaker as a receiver for us.

Q:  You mentioned when all of the Plaxico stuff was going on this team would have to find some other ways to win.  Is some of this going into that – you have a young H-back who creates some of the nightmare stuff you talked – you have a 6-6 receiver who is probably pretty raw but maybe on a couple of isolated plays he can create problems. Is that part of the thinking? You don’t have that one guy, but maybe a few guys can do different things to make up for that?

A:  I think our offense is well diversified but we consider ourselves a power running football team.  I don’t think that is going to change.  We are going to run the ball.  We have a veteran quarterback who is a Pro Bowler.  We are going to throw it when we want to but we want to be able to run it when we want to as well.  So I think we will be a very even keel, so to speak, football team.  We can do a little bit of both; a lot of both.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN:

Q: Travis Beckum, is that a dimension you didn’t think that you had, a classic H-Back?

A: It’s another aspect of matchup problems. A lot of speed. It’s going to be very difficult for a safety or a linebacker to be in position to cover this guy. Obviously you’re not going to be able to utilize him in the same way that all four of those lined up tight ends are going to be utilized. But, we always have had a move guy. We’ve always had people that have had to play the back-up fullback position. It allows you to do any number of things right off the top where you’d have Kevin Boss in the game and Beckum. Perhaps you could even envision him as the tight end in the game with the receivers when it’s clearly a third down situation. Again, all of those things are in front of him. We’re very excited and interested in putting this particular aspect of personnel on the field and having an opportunity to recognize it as something we can develop.

Q: When you get a guy like this that you haven’t had, do you have to go back to the offensive drawing board?

A: It’ll be fun to do that. Over the years, we’ve had those kinds of guys. You remember Pete Mitchell. We’ve had those kind. There are certain things you try to feature or develop with that particular kind of player. I just think it gives us another athletic option than a lot of people that play the “tight end” position. There may be teams that will try to cover an individual like that with some of the smaller linebackers you see today. You’re always searching for advantages.


4th Round – HB Andre Brown, North Carolina State, 6-0, 224lbs, 4.46

SCOUTING REPORTBrown shared time at running back in college, only starting 17 games in three seasons.  As a senior at NC State, Brown carried the ball 175 times for 767 yards and seven touchdowns.  He also caught 29 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns.  Brown is a big, strong, tough back with good athleticism and decent speed.  He is a power back who runs well between the tackles.  Brown moves the pile on contact.  Breaks tackles.  He is more of a North-South slasher and not overly elusive.  He has good vision, instincts, and balance.  Brown can catch the football.  Solid pass blocker.  Good character and smart.  Brown has a history of foot injuries.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE:

Andre Brown – Running Back.  We really like him.  We had him targeted for awhile.  We think this guy is very, very similar to Derrick Ward.  You have to look at a lot of tape because he had a foot injury and he was rotated almost 50% with another back, who is a good, young player for them.  So you had to look at a lot of tape to really do your homework and find out who this guy really is.  But just watching the tape you could almost – I think is he (number) 24. He almost looked like (number) 34, like Derrick Ward, and he runs the draws and the screens.  They put him out wide.  They put him in the slot.  He is a big boy.  He is 224 pounds, I believe.  He ran 4.48 so he has got the size and the speed stuff that you like.  He is very, very versatile; catches the ball really nice.  He is a very good pass protector.  So we like that pick a lot.  So we expect him to come in and compete at the running back position as well to give us four really good backs that compete for jobs right there.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN:

Q:  People have been comparing Andre Brown to Derrick Ward.  Do you see the similarity?

A:  I see Andre as a slasher; someone with the style that we like to work with.  He has got the – if you will – the pro running back body.  He has got the build, if you will.  He is carrying and packing some weight.  He ran well in his time.  He catches the ball well.  Jerry (Reese), I think, is the one that has seen the Derrick Ward comparison.  But he is, again, another guy that at the right time was a talented addition and will create the kind of competition that we are looking for?

Q:  Is his foot okay?

A:  The medical people tell me yes.


5th Round – QB Rhett Bomar, Sam Houston State, 6-2, 225lbs, 4.73

SCOUTING REPORTBomar originally was at Oklahoma and started 10 games in 2005. But Bomar was kicked off the team for violating NCAA rules and transferred to Sam Houston where he sat out the 2006 season.  He missed two games in 2007 with a torn ACL.  In 2008, he completed 245-of-436 passes for 3,355 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.  Bomar is a good athlete with a strong arm.  He can make all the different kind of throws required of an NFL quarterback.  Tough and competitive.  Bomar stands in tall against the pass rush.  He needs to improve his decision making.  Like most young quarterbacks, Bomar will lock onto one receiver.  He has a quick release.  Very inconsistent accuracy.  At times, he flashes good accuracy, but then he is way off the mark too much.  Too streaky.  He needs a lot of technique work (footwork, throwing motion, overall mechanics).  Bomar has a presence about him on the field. Can run with the football if necessary.  Smart and hard working, but a bit of a hot head.  Bomar has the tools to become an NFL starter.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE:

Rhett Bomar – Quarterback.  We thought it was too much value at the time.  We had some guys that really liked this player.  It was a lot of value.  We always talk about the quarterback situation – developing a quarterback.  We drafted (Andre’) Woodson last year.  We still like Woodson.  I know people will start to write him off right away, but that is not true.  Who knows how long David Carr will be here.  So there will be a lot of competition at that position.  It was too much value at the time for us to pass him up.

Q:  When Bomar was recruited by Oklahoma, he was obviously a well-thought of high school kid.  And then when he left and went to a school like Sam Houston State, doesn’t that put a downside a little bit on this initiative.  Shouldn’t he have wanted to go to another major program?

A:  I don’t know.  You guy can ask him that when he gets here but when you go down a level you can play right away.  If you transfer to another Division 1 school, you can’t play, you have to sit out for a year.  So he probably wanted to move down and play.  So I think that is probably what he did but I don’t know that for sure.  You guys can ask him that.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN:

Q: Who really pushed for Bomar?

A: The scouts had very good grades on Bomar. Chris Palmer had studied him. I had watched him. Kevin (Gilbride) had watched him. There were a lot of people in the room that, when Bomar was picked, stood up and talked about the value of that individual at that time. That’s the part of the draft that kind of is unique. You sit there and you’re picking at 29 or at the bottom of most rounds and you’re always trying to calculate who’s going to be there. Believe me, you don’t always know how these things are going to fall. You have to make decisions based on value. We stuck with what we really believe in and that was that he was a highly rated player at that time and much more deserving to be taken than someone else.

Q: Have you met him personally? Do you have a take on this?

A: I haven’t met him personally, no. I did talk to him on the phone right afterwards. We studied his tape and did all of the homework.

Q: Did you think you’d draft a quarterback going into this draft?

A: You always have it in the back of your mind, if the right situation comes up at the right time. There are so many different options with having a quarterback or a young quarterback on your team. I think it’s always talked about, always discussed. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. We’ve been fortunate the past couple of years. We’ve been in that position. Andre Woodson has been working his tail off. He’s definitely done an awful lot of things for his improvement. He’s worked very hard in this offseason. He’s headed in the right direction. We’ve hoping we can do the same here.


6th Round – CB DeAndre Wright, New Mexico, 5-11, 198lbs, 4.53

SCOUTING REPORTWright is a tough player who has battled through some painful shoulder injuries.  Wright has a decent combination of size and overall athleticism.  He lacks ideal speed, but he is fluid with quick feet.  He right has a feel for coverage and makes plays on the football.  Aggressive run defender.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE:

DeAndre Wright – DB.  At this point in the draft you are looking for some redeeming qualities.  This guy’s height, weight and speed – Marc Ross can give you more details about him.  But there are some things that jumped out about him.  He has some height, weight and speed that you like for the position.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN:

Q:  Were the last two DBs corners or safeties?

A:  They are corners, yes.  They are corners.

Q:  Can they play on special teams?

A:  They have speed, though.  They have some speed and they have some special teams abilities.  They have some size.  They are not necessarily real tall but they certainly do fit the height deal for a corner.  And they can run.


7th Round – CB Stoney Woodson, South Carolina, 5-11, 196lbs, 4.55

SCOUTING REPORTWoodson is a bit of mystery.  He has good size.  He timed in the 4.55 range at his Pro Day, but supposedly has also been timed under 4.40.  Quick.  Woodson is instinctive in coverage.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE:

Stoney Woodson – DB.  The same thing – height, weight and speed.  You look for some redeeming qualities and that is what these guys had.  And so hopefully you can hit on something with these kinds of guys down at the bottom.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN:

Q:  Were the last two DBs corners or safeties?

A:  They are corners, yes.  They are corners.

Q:  Can they play on special teams?

A:  They have speed, though.  They have some speed and they have some special teams abilities.  They have some size.  They are not necessarily real tall but they certainly do fit the height deal for a corner.  And they can run.


 Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports

OC Alex Derenthal, Temple, 6-4, 298lbs, 5.33
Four-year starter at Temple. Derenthal has good size, but he lacks athleticism and strength. Quick, but lacks speed and he may struggle when pulling or engaging defenders at the second level. Derenthal is smart, hard working, and plays with an attitude. Overachiever.

DE Tommie Hill, Colorado State, 6-6, 245lbs, 4.96
Hill is a tall, lean defensive end with good quickness. Hill lacks speed and explosiveness however. He also needs to add strength and bulk. He plays very hard all of the time. Hill was a team leader at Colorado State.

DE/DT Alex Field, Virginia, 6-7, 270lbs 4.94
First-year starter as a senior in a 3-4 defense. Field has good size. He lacks ideal athleticism, quickness, and agility.  Field plays hard and uses good technique. He needs to play stronger at the point of attack.

DE/DT Maurice Evans, Penn State, 6-2, 264lbs, 5.00
Junior entry.  Evans started 12-of-13 games in 2007 as a sophomore and finished that season with 54 tackles and 12.5 sacks.  However, he lost this starting job the following season when he was suspended by the team for a drug possession arrest.  Evans finished 2008 with 34 tackles and three sacks.  Evans lacks ideal height, speed, and explosion.  But he is a decent athlete with long arms and some quickness.  Evans flashes both in run defense and as a pass rusher.  Evans is somewhat of a DE/DT tweener.  He needs to get stronger.

DT Dwayne Hendricks, Miami, 6-4, 300lbs, 5.05
Classic looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane prospect.  Hendricks looks the part.  He has good size and athleticism.  Quick and agile for his size.  However, he is too often easily blocked and not very productive on the playing field.

LB/S Kenny Ingram, Florida State, 6-5, 239lbs
Ingram has experience at safety (hybrid rover) and linebacker.  He played linebacker his senior season.  Good athlete.  Ingram is very tall, with the frame to carry much more mass if he plays linebacker.  Very good special teams player.

S Sha’reff Rashad, Central Florida, 6-0, 198lbs, 4.60
Three-year starter.  Rashad lacks ideal size, speed, and agility.  But he is an instinctive player with good range.  Rashad makes plays on the football.  Productive, he finished 2008 with 72 tackles, five interceptions, and 10 pass breakups.  Smart and a solid character.

CB Bruce Johnson, Miami, 5-11, 182lbs, 4.50
Two-year starter.  Johnson lacks ideal size, but he is a fluid athlete with fine quickness.  He is an aggressive cover corner, but he plays with poor technique and is therefore inconsistent.  He had only two interceptions in 42 college games, which seems to indicate a lack of anticipation.  Due to his size, he can struggle in run defense.

CB/S Vince Anderson, Webber International, 6-2, 205lbs
Anderson transferred to Webber International after being suspended at Nicholls State for academic fraud by the NCAA.  Anderson played both cornerback and safety at Webber Int’l. He tore his ACL in 2006.


 Eric’s Take on the 2009 Draft

On the surface, the 2009 Draft Class looks like another strong effort by General Manager Jerry Reese’s college scouting department, led for the second year in a row by Director of College Scouting Marc Ross.

Originally armed with 10 picks, the Giants kept nine of them, trading a 5th round selection to the Philadelphia Eagles in order to move up in the 3rd round in order to select their second wide receiver of the draft.

What the Giants did not do, despite rumors to the contrary leading up to the draft, was obtain Cleveland Browns’ WR Braylon Edwards via trade.  Edwards represents the veteran vertical deep threat that the Giants’ offense is now lacking with the waiving of Plaxico Burress.  For better or worse, the Giants now arguably have the most inexperienced wide receiving and tight end corps in the NFL.  It remains to be seen if the young targets can produce against top defenses in critical situations.

Absent a trade for a veteran receiver, it was pretty obvious that the Giants were going to take a receiver or two early and that’s exactly what they did.  Many expected the Giants to take Hakeem Nicks in the first round.  Nicks is a strong, well-built receiver who reminds some in style of Anquan Boldin of the Cardinals.  He is not a blazer, but he is fluid, smooth, and quick.  He has great hands.  Most importantly, despite his young age (21), he is a very polished receiver and more likely than most rookies to contribute early.  A junior, Nicks started all three years of college and was super-productive.  It will be interesting to see if the Giants see him more as a split end or flanker, meaning a #1 or #2 receiver.  All in all, Nicks was a very solid selection at the #29 spot in the first round.

Clint Sintim was a little bit of a surprise choice in the second round, not because he doesn’t have talent (he does), but because he played exclusively in a 3-4 defense in college while the Giants run a 4-3.  But based on comments of team officials after the draft, it’s clear they wanted to draft somebody at strongside linebacker who was more of an attacking, forward-moving player rather than somebody who excels more when operating in reverse in coverage.  If that’s what they want, then that’s the guy they got.  Sintim is a big, strong, powerful linebacker in the mold of the Giants’ 3-4 linebackers of the 1980’s.  He’s as big as some defensive ends, very tough to move out against the run, and a very good pass rusher.  Right now, the Giants say he will be a SAM on first and second down and part of the pass rush package on 3rd down.  But Sintim is a linebacker, and by definition, he is going to have to be able to cover people or other teams will target him with their short passing game.  That’s the big question mark with him.  But again, Sintim was drafted about where many expected him to be drafted.  In fact, the Giants said after the draft that they felt he has a first-round grade.

William Beatty was another value and need selection.  Some thought Beatty was worthy of first round consideration, though most felt he would go somewhere in the second round.  The fact that the Giants got him late in the second round was a bit of a nice surprise.  The Giants say Beatty was the most athletic left tackle in the draft.  He has very good feet, and he excelled in strength tests at the NFL Combine.  But he will need a lot of technique development and there are scouting reports that say he is a finesse player who needs to improve his toughness.  He has the tools to excel – athleticism, size, strength.  But you have to play tough and physical in this league – and you have to want it.

Ramses Barden is a gamble-on-greatness selection in the third round who is worth the risk (3rd and 5th round picks).  Some felt that Barden went too high, but it’s clear that the Giants did not want to risk losing him to another team and traded up six spots in the 3rd round to ensure that they got him.  In terms of stature, Barden is a bit of Plaxico clone.  He’s very, very tall with a long legs and a long wingspan.  And like Burress, he has very good hands and will go up high to snatch a ball away from defenders.  What remains to be seen is how he compares to Burress in terms of athletic-ability, pro production, and clutch performance.  Many scouting reports say that Barden is not the athlete that Plaxico is, but Barden did perform well in athletic tests leading up to the draft.  Many say he will have problems separating from NFL defensive backs.  That remains to be seen and is the biggest question mark surrounding his game.  Like Nicks, Barden was super-productive in college.  Against a lower level of competition, Barden looked like a man playing against boys.

I thought the Giants next two picks were absolute steals.  Getting TE/H-Back Travis Beckum late in the 3rd round and HB Andre Brown late in the 4th round really makes this draft to me.  Beckum compares favorably to Dustin Keller of the Jets – strictly a pass-receiving-type tight end (really an H-Back), but a damn good one at that.  Reese was positively giddy after the draft when talking about Beckum and for good reason.  Most NFL linebackers won’t be able to cover him.  The reason he fell so far in the draft was he missed the bulk of his senior season with a broken leg that also prevented him from working out at the Combine.  If he had not been hurt, he might have snuck into the first round of the draft.

Those who read my draft preview know that I didn’t see halfback as a need position, but when you have value like Brown staring at you in the face at the bottom of the fourth round, you take that player.  Many thought Brown was a second-round talent.  He’s a big, strong running back with good speed who catches the ball well out of the backfield.  And unlike most rookies, he is a willing and able pass blocker.  I think very highly of Ahmad Bradshaw and Danny Ware, but Brown was too good to pass up.  And Brown may play sooner than many think because of his receiving game.

Most Giants’ fans don’t seem to like the Rhett Bomar pick and/or they assume it means the Giants had soured on Andre’ Woodson.  Again, this was a value selection.  Reese said that Bomar stood out on the Giants’ draft board and if the team was going to remain true to their board, Bomar was too good to pass up.  How can you fault that logic?  Plus, David Carr signed a 1-year contract.  There is a good chance he won’t be here in 2010.  Bomar was once the top high school prospect in the country.  He was forced out of Oklahoma for violating NCAA rules by accepting money from a source he shouldn’t have.  But Bomar has a lot of talent.  He is big and athletic.  He can hurt defenses with his strong arm or his legs.  He is a fiery leader who has a presence about him on the playing field.  Most New Yorkers will love his demeanor (though in reality Eli’s demeanor is better suited for the City).  So what about Woodson?  Let the best man win.  And if both look sharp, you trade one and recoup your costs.  Woodson was only a 6th round pick.

It’s hard to critique the last two picks – 6th round CB DeAndre Wright and 7th round CB Stoney Woodson.  These are the kind of picks that make average NFL fans angry because when they open their draft guides, they don’t see any write-up on them, while “much better players” are still available.  (Of course, the fact that these “much better players” have been ignored by all 32 teams up until this point seems to be lost on these enlightened souls).  Look, this is where the Giants’ large and experienced scouting department comes into play.  We are counting on Marc Ross and his scouting team to find those gems late in the draft.  The Giants have proven to be very good at doing so, so why not give them the benefit of the doubt?  We’re talking a late 6th and late 7th rounder here after all.  There is a need for cornerbacks on this team.  The Giants carried six last year and let Sam Madison and R.W. McQuarters go.  Kevin Dockery will be an unrestricted free agent next year.

In summary, let’s look at the big picture.  It was clearly an offensive draft – six of the first seven players were offensive players.  It was a draft heavy on the letter B – Beatty, Barden, Beckum, Brown, Bomar.  With the possible exception of wide receiver, the Giants did not have to come out of this draft with an immediate starter.  While it is hoped and expected that most of these guys will contribute immediately as role players, this is largely a draft for the future.  The Giants’ top seven picks were well-regarded prospects by most and all seven may have enough talent to eventually start in the NFL.  If that ends up being the case, this is a great draft.  In the short term, the focus of many Giants’ fans will be on filling the shoes of Burress, so much attention will be on Nicks and Barden.  But don’t be surprised if Beckum and Brown make an immediate impact as role players in the short passing game.  However, unless someone gets hurt, Beatty and Bomar won’t be a factor for a couple of years.  It will be interesting to see how the Giants use Sintim – you can only send so many players after the quarterback.

Any regrets?  The only glaring hole not filled was back-up center.

The aborted effort to land Edwards could be a blessing.  But it might not be.  Edwards’ personality might not have been well-suited for New York.  And he would have cost a lot of money against the cap and cost the Giants draft picks.  But there is a TON of pressure on the passing game to perform with very, very inexperienced wide receivers and tight ends.  Eli will be the target of much of the blame if the passing game does not click, but it probably won’t be his fault if it doesn’t.  Edwards would have helped him, and helped the running game by forcing the safeties back.  Let’s pray that Hixon, Smith, Manningham, Nicks, Barden, Boss, and Beckum can deliver.

Jun 232008
 
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New York Giants 2008 NFL Draft Review

Draft Pick Scouting Reports
Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports
Eric’s Take on the 2008 Draft

Round Pick in Round Overall Selection Player Selected
1 31 31 S Kenny Phillips, University of Miami
2 32 63 CB Terrell Thomas, University of Southern California (USC)
3 32 95 WR Mario Manningham, University of Michigan
4 24 123 LB Bryan Kehl, Brigham Young University (BYU)
5 30 165 LB Jonathan Goff, Vanderbilt University
6 28 194 Traded to Steelers to move up in 4th round.
6 32 198 QB Andre’ Woodson, University of Kentucky
6 33 199 DE Robert Henderson, University of Southern Mississippi

2008 Draft Pick Scouting Reports

1st Round – S Kenny Phillips, University of Miami (6-2, 212lbs, 4.50)

SCOUTING REPORT: Junior entry.  Three-year starter, but only seven career interceptions.  Phillips played better as a sophomore than as a junior.  He finished the 2007 season with 82 tackles, five pass breakups, and two interceptions.  He combines very good size with good athleticism.  Phillips has good speed and range.  He is agile for a bigger defensive back.  Phillips has solid coverage skills with experience in both zone and man coverage, including some experience at cornerback.  He does not make a lot of plays on the football in the air.  He is a physical, aggressive player and a good tackler.  Good run defender.  Hard worker and smart.  He reads and reacts quickly – alert and quick to diagnose plays.  Competitive, confident, and plays with a swagger.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE:

Question:  What do you like about him?

Reese: There are a lot of things we like about Kenny Phillips.  We like his size; we like his speed.  He is multi-dimensional.  We like those kinds of players – guys that have played corner before.  We think he can do down and play on your third receiver if he has to.  He is smart and he is a good person.  We like all of that stuff about him.  He was clean.  He has been a three-year starter at a high level of competition.  And he is young kid that is going to only get better; nothing but upside for this guy.

Question: He said he had not really had a lot of contact with you guys since the Combine…

Reese: Some guys are clean and you really don’t have to do a lot of extra work on.  So we had him targeted and he was clean.  You don’t spend a lot of extra time with clean guys.  You spend a lot of extra time with guys you may have some issues with and you need to clear some things up about.  So we didn’t have a lot to clear up about him.  We like Kenny; we like him a lot.

Question: Player of need?

Reese: Absolutely.  We got nice value and we got a need position as well.  So that is what we like to do in the draft.  We talk about it all of the time.  We don’t want to reach for guys.  We got what we wanted.  We got the need and we got value with the player; with this pick.

Question: Some picks are ‘easy’ for you?

Reese: Yeah, I think it was a pretty good pick.  You never know what you are going to get with these guys.  But it was a pretty good pick for us.  We felt good about him; we felt great about him, as a matter of fact – that the guy fell down to us.  We felt like he was a really good player in the first row.

Question: Was there much discussion of other guys?

Reese: There were several other guys.  We always discuss enough guys in your window to have enough to pick when it is your time to pick.  So if your number one guy goes, you have several other guys to pick from.  So we had several discussions about several other people; players we had in the first row.

Question: Does the Miami safety pedigree play into this at all?

Reese: Not for us.  Obviously they have had good safeties to come out of there.  We just left like he was a good player; not that he played in Miami.  We just felt like he was a really good football player that was only going to continue get better and have a lot of upside.

Question: Is he more of a free or strong safety?

Reese: I think he can play both. He is a free safety.  He can invert and do anything you want him to do back there.  So we love those kind of guys; versatile guys; versatile guys.  I talked to one of his coaches.  He said, “This guy is a really good athlete.  He can play corner.”  At Miami they think he can play corner.  So that is what kind of athlete we have with him.  So it is exciting to get a good, young player like that.

Question: Were you sure he would slide to 31?

Reese: Absolutely not.  I didn’t think he would make it that long.

Question: How hard was it to judge him due to fact that his team did not do well?

Reese: That didn’t play into anything for us.  We look at the player.  We really don’t look at the record and what is going on.  Just like Kawika Mitchell.  People probably said that about him.  He didn’t play on a good defense.  But we look at the player.  We really don’t care if the defense is not very good.  We are looking at what the player is doing.  So that is how I try to evaluate players.

Question: Will he get on the field as a rookie?

Reese: Well obviously he is going to come in and play on special teams anyway, if nothing else, until he learns what to do.  And we feel like in time he should challenge for some playing time back there and eventually become a starter for us I think.

MEDIA Q&A WITH DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING MARC ROSS:

Question: It does look that way as you lost a safety and then drafted a safety in the first round?

Ross: You can look at it however you want, but we don’t look at it like that, no.  We like Kenny Phillips, he was the highest rated guy on our board and we took Kenny Phillips.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN:

Coughlin: We were pleased to have the opportunity to draft a player of Kenny Phillips’ ability when we did in the bottom of the first round.  We had him ranked high.  We had him as the best safety on the board.  It is a need position for us.  He is an excellent football player.  He is a guy that will come down in the box and tackle and can play in coverage.  He has played over wide receivers during his career.  He has a career which gives you the balance and the versatility of a player of his ability with his interceptions, his tackles, etc.  We are excited to have an opportunity to draft this player.  There is great value in this pick and it is a need position, so therefore we have been able to accomplish a bunch of things here with Kenny Phillips.

Question: Everyone says he is not Ed Reed or Sean Taylor?

Coughlin: He is Kenny Phillips.  He is not either one of those guys.  He is Kenny Phillips and that is a plenty good football player.

Question: Do you see him as more of a free or strong safety?

Coughlin: I don’t know.  We are going to look at that.  They do have to be interchangeable to a great extent.  We have talked about this before.  You can motion or whatever and put people in position where whoever you think is free is down and whoever you think is strong is back deep.  There is so much four across the board coverage and rolled up coverage one way or the other that they end up with multiple responsibilities anyway.  We will talk about exactly where, but as I said, he is a good football player and we certainly will find a spot for him.

Question: He can play in the box versus going back and playing center field?

Coughlin: That is what you see when you study him, too.  He is down and he does play well when he is down and he also plays well…his range is good, you can see that on film.  He can go to the sideline for a ball.

Question: Do you think you were fortunate that he was there at 31?

Coughlin: Well, we do because we had him ranked as high as we did.  I think what happens when you talk about that is you may have some people in the mix in terms of who you are talking about who have, for some reason or another, not that same evaluation.  In other words, it may be a medical, it may be a character, or it may be something.  This is a very, very sound, solid young man who does have all these attributes going for him.  This was good.

Question: At what point did you think you could get him?

Coughlin: I think we started talking probably around 22 or 23.  We quickly discussed four or five players and then held for a minute and then saw a guy go off the board and then jumped back into discussions.  We were pretty well set with four, I think four, guys with three picks to go.

Question: Do you think he can come in and make an impact on this team next year?

Coughlin: I do.  I think that he will compete.  Obviously he is a young player with a lot to learn.  I think he has demonstrated that attitude to you and he is a sharp kid.  He is going to come in and he is going to be humble and try to learn as much as he possibly can, but there is no doubt that he has to be excited because of the opportunity.

Question: What did you say to him when you spoke on the phone?

Coughlin: My job is really to greet, to tell him how excited we are to be in a position where we are going to make the pick, to ask him if they are excited about being a New York Giant, and just make sure that they are healthy and their status is exactly the same as we knew it when we went into the draft.  That is basically the conversation.  There are three or four people that do get involved.  Position coach Dave Merritt talked to Kenny right after that and then all the arrangements etc., etc.

MEDIA Q&A WITH SAFETY KENNY PHILLIPS:

Question: You seemed to be the consensus as to who they were going to pick?  Were you surprised at all?

Phillips: Yeah, I am.  Because I knew a lot of mock drafts have said that I was going to go to the Giants.  But I really don’t feed into all of that, and I haven’t talked to them a lot.  So I definitely was surprised.

Question: What do you bring to the table?

Phillips: I bring versatility.  I can come down and stay in the box.  I can go back there and be a ball hawk.  I can go down there – be that guy on special teams.  Or just whatever the team needs me to do I, can do that.

Question: How does it feel to be joining a team and the defense that won the Super Bowl last year?

Phillips: To me it is a blessing.  A lot of guys want to go as high as possible and they don’t fall into teams and fall into situations just like I did.  I am going to the reigning Super Bowl champs with a great defense.  So I’m going to come in and I’m going to learn and try to make a statement.

Question: What kind of statement do you think you are going to make?

Phillips: Just basically the statement they want me to make.  They want me to come in and be that playmaker, they want me to come in and make tackles, make big plays and just be a difference-maker.

Question: With that kind of confidence do you expect that you will be competing for a starting job for opening day?

Phillips: That is the goal.  When it all falls down I definitely want to be competing for the starting job.  But I am not going to rush into the game.  I’m just going to come in, listen to the veteran players and learn from the coaches, and just try to get my feet wet.

Question: There have been a lot of safeties recently that come from Miami.  You are the fourth one to get drafted in the first round this decade.   Is there anything you can point to for that or is it just a coincidence?

Phillips: The safety position at Miami is huge. We have great secondary coaches.  And the reason I think there’s such a tradition is because those guys that went before us like Ed Reed, Bennie Blades and Brandon Meriweather, those guys come back and they teach the young guys like us.  They tell us the stuff that made them successful in college and we can add it to our game.

Question: Were you worried that Miami might not have a first rounder this year?

Phillips: No.  Every year there is a big write up down here in our papers saying, “Will the streak end here?”  I definitely thought about it but in the end it really wasn’t something I felt that was going to end.  I definitely thought I was going to go in the first round.  And it happened so I’m just happy.

Question: Are you strictly a free safety do you think?

Phillips: No sir.  I played both in college.  We were interchangeable.  So I can do either one; whatever they want me to do.

Question: There seemed to be some mixed feelings that you would go a lot higher and then there were others who thought you might actually drop as far as 31 to the Giants.  Why do you suppose you dropped down to 31?

Phillips: I am really not too sure.  I had a great record at the Combine, Pro Day.  I had a great junior season…We just didn’t do well as a team.  And I think organizations don’t want to take someone from a losing team.  And I think the team record kind of hurt me.

Question: Being a Miami guy, do you know Jeremy Shockey at all?

Phillips: I know him.  I haven’t spoken to him or anything like that.  But I do know him.  But I am really close with Sinorice Moss.

Question:  Are you looking forward to playing with Jeremy Shockey?

Phillips: Oh yeah, definitely man.  I watched him come along.  The intensity that he brings to the game is amazing.  So I’m looking forward to playing with him.

Question: Are you sure that is going happen, because we are not?

Phillips: Well, I hope it does.  And if not I wish him the best.  But right now I’m just glad to have him as a teammate.

Question: Who called you from the Giants?  Was it Coach Coughlin?

Phillips: No, I spoke to him second.  I can’t remember what the first guy’s name was because it was so loud.  But he passed me along to Coach Coughlin.

Question: What do you know about Coach Coughlin?

Phillips: Honestly I don’t know much.  I don’t know a lot about him.  I’m looking forward to learning a lot about him.  I want to be there for the next few years.  Pretty much to me, seeing him on TV, he seems like a real cool guy; a really nice guy; someone who is going to push you and expect the best.

Question: Did you have any experience talking to Steve Spagnuolo?  And what did you get from him?

Phillips: I’m not sure.  I probably talked to him…when they first called.  I remember going into the meeting room and drawing up some plays on the board and stuff like that at the Combine.  But other than that I really didn’t have any interaction with him.

Question: Was that the last time you spoke to the Giants before today?

Phillips: Yes.  One of the guys came to the Pro Day but other than that, no.

Question: Did you watch parts of the Giants defense last year in the playoffs?

Phillips: Yes, basically I was just watching the guys up front.  They set out to be the most — they…a young guy like me needs those guys in front.  Putting that pressure on the quarterback; allow the corners and DBs to make plays.

Question: To some people, playing in New York especially as a first round pick can be very intimidating?  What you are expecting from yourself in order to melt in here and not get caught up in the spotlight?

Phillips: Just come and just learn; learn from the players, the veterans, listen to the coaches.  And just go out there and play football.  Of course guys are going to be bigger, faster, and stronger.  But I’m not slow; I’m not small.  So I definitely feel that I’m going to come in and make an impact.


2nd Round – CB Terrell Thomas, USC (6-1, 202lbs, 4.50)

SCOUTING REPORT: Two-year starter who allowed only two touchdowns the past two seasons.  In 2007, Thomas started 13 games and accrued 45 tackles, 1 sack, 4.5 tackles for a loss, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 7 pass defenses, and 4 interceptions.  Thomas combines very good size and athletic ability for a bigger corner.  Quick and agile for his size.  Very long arms.  He needs to become a more consistent run defender.  Thomas has the ability to play cover-2 as well as man-to-man.  He is physical with receivers and can press receivers at the line.  Thomas has a good feel for zone coverage.  He needs to improve his footwork technique.  Thomas is instinctive and productive.  He is very smart.  Diagnoses well.  Intense and competitive.  Injury issues caused him to slide, including surgeries on both his shoulders and his right knee.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN:

Question: Were you concerned at all about Terrell Thomas’ injury history?

Coughlin: We know he played through some things, the last year in particular with the shoulder, but we rely heavily on what our doctors tell us.  His grade is more than acceptable.

MEDIA Q&A WITH DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING MARC ROSS:

Question: What do you like about Terrell Thomas?

Ross: Terrell has excellent size for a corner.  Really a top-notch athlete.  Big, fast corner who has played at a high level and has been productive.  Really a smooth, fluid athlete, and has played in big games.  He won’t be intimidated when he gets on this stage because at SC obviously they have played a lot of big games and this guy performed well in those.

Question: Is he projected as a corner or a safety?

Ross: We drafted him as a corner.  We like him as a corner.

Question: Are you surprised that you went defense with both selections today?

Ross: We are happy we got two good football players.  We didn’t go in saying we have to take two defensive guys or two offensive guys.  We went in and stuck with our board and took two football players we really like.  We didn’t have a game plan in mind of what positions or what side of the ball.  We just wanted to get good football players.

Question: Do you think both picks were need picks?

Ross: Again, we don’t draft like that, by need.  I think that is when you get hurt is when you say, ‘we need this, we need to take a corner, we need to take this.’  How the board falls and how we have them stacked, that is how we take them.  No, I wouldn’t classify them as need picks.

Question: It does look that way as you lost a safety and then drafted a safety in the first round?

Ross: You can look at it however you want, but we don’t look at it like that, no.  We like Kenny Phillips, he was the highest rated guy on our board and we took Kenny Phillips.

Question: The previous injuries are not a concern with Thomas?

Ross: No.  We have a top-notch medical staff here and when Ronnie Barnes says the guy is okay, I trust him 100 percent.  Everybody has their job to fulfill during the draft and leading up to this process.  Obviously I am new here but I trust people here 100 percent.  When Ronnie says it is okay, then I don’t even think twice about it.

Question: How did your first year go with the Giants?

Ross: Yeah, I knew when I got hired that we were going to win the Super Bowl…

Question: Your first draft as college scouting director?

Ross: It is great.  This is a great group of guys here, a great staff, coaches, Jerry (Reese) is great to work with, and Coach Coughlin, and Mr. Mara.  It is just such a great environment here and it has been really smooth.  This day was smooth; the whole draft meetings were smooth.  A professional group here at the Giants.

Question: Had you met more with Thomas before the draft than Phillips?

Ross: Kenny, we were looking at him and he just didn’t know, but Terrell, we went to his workout, we looked at him at the combine, we interviewed him at the combine, so we did a lot of work with him.  The kids, sometimes they have no idea what is going on.  It is just like this, there is a room full of scouts that they don’t know, but we are always evaluating throughout the whole process.

Question: Is Thomas ready to get playing time in the NFL?

Ross: Playing time, I don’t know.  As a player, yes, mentally he will be fine, the kid is a very smart guy.  They used him in a bunch of different roles there at SC, on the slot, outside, and that is one of his strengths, his mental and his savvy and his football instincts.  I don’t think he will be intimidated by this setting at all and I think he will be ready to compete from day one.

Question: How is his speed?

Ross: Speed is good.  His speed is good.  He runs well, he is a big man who runs well and smooth.

Question: What kind of resource was Steve Smith with this pick?

Ross: Steve Smith?  None.  We didn’t call Steve up and ask him what he thought about Terrell.  I asked Terrell about Steve and he said he shut him down every day in practice so I figured that would be good enough.  We didn’t ask him.

Question: How much did these guys’ grades change from the end of their seasons to now?

Ross: They were pretty steady.  These guys didn’t make drastic ascensions or anything because they ran fast or worked out great or had great 40s.  These guys were steady.  Some of the picks that happen, guys skyrocket a little bit, but I don’t think these guys did at all.  You didn’t hear any buzz about them so I think they were steady guys.

Question: Did you have clusters of guys who you were interested in around the time of your picks?

Ross: Well, you always want to have a group of guys in the discussion.  Two or three players you want to talk about and that brings out people’s passions for players.  Let’s see how much they really are going to step up if they like them or not.  Now ultimately somebody has to make the decision but when you talk about a group of players together it brings more clarity to the situation.

Question: Was there a lot of passion for Thomas?

Ross: Yeah, we picked him, I hope so.

Question: Was there someone who really liked him?

Ross: A few guys, yeah.  It was a lively discussion, a lot of looks at him.  It was a lively discussion.

Question: How much talk did you have about moving up or down from those spots?

Ross: I let Jerry handle that kind of stuff.  When he tells me that we are going to pick, I pick, but you would have to ask him that stuff.

Question: Did you do most of the picking at the end?

Ross: We pick as a group.

Question: Who had the final call?

Ross: I will let Jerry answer that as well.

Question: A lively discussion on Thomas?

Ross: No, I don’t want to say lively like it was negative or anything.  I just think we get in the draft room and guys have done a lot of work, so they want to be heard and the way we structure it, everybody has their say.  That brings about good discussion.  I don’t want to say it was back and forth, I meant lively and very positive discussion.


3rd Round – WR Mario Manningham, Michigan (6-0, 181lbs, 4.59)

SCOUTING REPORT: Junior entry.  Two-year starter at Michigan.  In 2007, Manningham caught 72 passes for 1,174 yards and 12 touchdowns.  Lacks ideal size – Manninghams needs to get bigger and stronger.  A play-maker who makes plays in the clutch.  He runs faster than he times and separates from defenders.  Smooth athlete who is quick in and out of his cuts.  He runs good routes.  Manningham has great body control and adjusts well to the football.  Good hands.  He runs well after the catch.  Tough and competitive.  He sometimes loses focus.  Until very recently, he was considered a first-round talent, but Combine workout, past drug issues, and poor interviews (lied about previous drug use) caused his stock to drop.  Some reports say he is moody and immature.  “He can be special,” one scout said. “The guy’s explosive, quick, fast, great route runner, makes spectacular catches.  Just very inconsistent with his hands.  A little bit is just his mental strength is not there (6 on the Wonderlic test).  He should be a first-round guy if mentally he was OK and he worked.”

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE:

Question: You were not scared off by Mannigham’s marijuana use?

Reese: We did our homework on him.  Yesterday you guys talked about Kenny Phillips and why didn’t we bring him in.  There really wasn’t a lot to bring him in for.  We brought this young man in.  Our coaches spent a lot of time with him.  We interviewed him at the Combine.  We did our homework on him.  He has tremendous value right now where we are picking.  We think he will be okay.

Question: Did he convince you that it is over?

Reese: He did.  He convinced me, he convinced our coaches – and it’s well documented – that he made a couple of mistakes.  He is a young kid.  He is a junior.  So hopefully he learned from his mistakes and he will come in here and he will give us a big play threat on the outside.  This guy has got the production you want.  He has got a big strike on the outside.  He gets big strikes on the outside.  And that was attractive for us.

Question: Talent-wise is he greater than a third rounder?

Reese: Oh yeah, talent-wise I think the guy could have really gone in the first row.  Talent-wise he really could have gone in the first row.  But at this point at the bottom of the third row for us we think this is a guy that has great value and he is talented.  He is really talented.  He has talent to go on the first row over there.  And again we did our homework on him.  We have a couple of different testing agencies, physiological testing and stuff that we did with him. We are satisfied that he will be okay.  And obviously when he comes in, probably kind of like Ahmad (Bradshaw) last year, we will bring him in and say, “Look, this is what it is going to be and we expect you to do that.”  And hopefully he will do that.

Question: Will you treat him as you did Ahmad last year and tell him he is on a short leash.  Do you do the same with a guy who is taken this high in the draft?

Reese: Sure you can do that.  You can do that with anybody.  If you are screwing up, we are not going to spend a lot of time on you.  You are on a short leash, just like Ahmad last year – I don’t care if you are seventh round or third round.  If you come in here and do the wrong things, we are not going to tolerate that.  We don’t think he will do that.

Question: Was he your highest rated receiver?

Reese: There were a bunch of receivers in this draft with similar kind of value.  We had him grouped with some of the guys who have already gone.  So we didn’t have a lot of guys that could have gone in our first row.  We thought there was a lot of second-round kind of picks up there.  We had a couple of guys we thought could probably go in the first.  Actually I don’t think anybody went in the first.  But we had a couple of guys that could have probably gone in the first.  And he was one of the guys that we felt like had the skill sets to be in the first row if we had some guys in there.

Question: He was reported to have a score of six on the Wonderlic.  How does that translate?

Reese: I’m not talking about people’s Wonderlics in here.  But we brought him in; we put him on the board.  He is good football player.  He has good football intelligence so we don’t think that is an issue.

Question: How high did last year’s rookie class set the bar around here for rookies?  And how much do you think it will serve as an example for all of these kids?

Reese: I just think that you always want to get good players in the draft.  Again, I always say you try to get more right than you get wrong.  You don’t get them all right all of the time.  Sometimes you get lucky like we did last year and get a few more right.  But we have high standards every year.  We want to go in and get good players coming out of there – coming out of the draft.  And that is what we try to do every year.  It just doesn’t work like that all of the time.

Question: Can you use last year’s success as leverage with this year’s group?

Reese: I think they will see how well the draft class did last year and I think they will come in with some things they feel like they probably have to prove to try to match this year’s class.  When the players come in they are not thinking about how last year’s class did.  They are just thinking about making the team and learning what to do and getting a chance to play. I think they think about that more than what last year’s class did.

Question: Mario’s letter to NFL.  Did that have any influence on you?

Reese: No, not really.  We get letters from all kinds of guys saying, “I’m sorry for this, I’m sorry for that.”  If we have an issue with them, we usually send a coach or bring them in here.  We brought him in and spent a lot of time with him.  We interviewed him at the Combine.  So he satisfied all of our concerns when we brought him in here.

Question: Are there other players who are off the board due to character issues?

Reese: Sure.  Yeah, we have plenty of guys that are off our board, yeah.

Question: Is Mario ready to play now?

Reese: Yeah, I think he is going to come in because this guy has a strong skill set for that position now.  I’m telling you, you guys are going to say, “Wow, this guy has got the stuff.”  So we are pleased with him that he can come in and give us some help on the outside.  I think the kid can be a punt returner as well.  Because they had guys in front of him – he was probably the number one guy as a receiver over there.  But I think he could return punts as well.

Question: This is the second year in a row you have picked a receiver high.  Does that say anything about Sinorice Moss?

Reese: Well, no it doesn’t say anything about Sinorice Moss.  It says we are trying to pick good players.  This guy is a good player.  We are trying to pick good players.  We are not giving up on Sinorice Moss.  I think he is going to come in and have a big year for us because, again, last year to me with Sinorice Moss was like a rookie season for him because he missed most of the time his rookie season with injuries.  So Sinorice has got something to prove.  And I love players coming in that have something to prove.  So he definitely has something to prove and I think he will do.  We are definitely not giving up on Sinorice Moss.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN:

Coughlin: I think the wide receiver Mario Manningham gives us what we wanted, which was an ability to put the fear of the deep ball to try to do some things with our compensation for the way in which coverages occur as we play not only in this division but in this league.  It gives us another young receiver who does have the ability to go deep and to be productive in terms of the deep ball.

Question: Are you concerned about the off the field issues with Mario Manningham?

Coughlin: Well you are always concerned but you also hope that as the individual matures and he looks at what he has to gain and what he has to lose that he makes some serious decisions about his life.  We felt really good about talking with him.  Mike Sullivan had some excellent sessions with him.  Our offensive coaches visited with Mario.  I had an opportunity to visit with him just briefly, but we felt that due to the fact that we obviously brought him in for a reason, we wanted to get to know him better.  We felt like because of the support services that we can provide for him, because of our coaching staff, because of our veteran players, that we he would be a young man who would quickly recognize the fact that he can be a very successful player in this league, but it can be taken away very, very quickly if he would fall into some of these problems.  He has assured me that he has learned from his mistakes and I think that with all of the support that we can give him that I think he will be a guy that will come in and hopefully do well.

Question: What do you see from him that means that he will turn things around and listen whereas another guy maybe wouldn’t?

Coughlin: I just think that you do your research, you spend your time, obviously he was here for a reason, and we talked to him exactly about the problems that he has had and recognized the fact that it is just is not something that he can do to participate at this level and to be in the good graces of the league and the New York Giants.  You have to have some faith in him.  We do have a very, very good communication with the people at Michigan and have some strong opinions about this young man going forward.

Question: Do you think the character issues are why he dropped to the third round?

Coughlin: That would be for you to say and I have listened to all that stuff too.  All I can tell you is he was there for our pick and we were glad to make that pick and we look forward to working with him to make sure that he understands how important it is for him to conduct himself the right way.

Question: Is it a difficult call for a coach to draft a guy with character issues?

Coughlin: It is always a difficult call because you want the right people in your locker room.  You want the influences to be strong and you want the individual to be pulled, if you will, in the right direction.  I think we do have people in our locker room that will help us with regard to this.  As I mentioned a minute ago, I think the leadership of the guys that we have in the locker room proved to be an important factor in the success we had a year ago and I expect it to be ongoing.

Question: Is Manningham a true deep threat?

Coughlin: I think he has the speed, the elusiveness, the make-you-miss kind of ability, and I do think that he does have the long ball speed along with other things.  He is a gifted receiver.  His workout was very good.  Mike Sullivan was there for his workout.  Mike Sullivan was right there with the instructions about the routes, the sound that a receiver makes when he is a quality guy and catches the football, and he liked his board work.  He put him on the board and the kid responded well.  He responded well when he came in here so we believe and are willing to bring that young man here, surround him with good people, a good support system, and we believe that he will make the next step.

Question: What about punt returns with him?

Coughlin: He did that but I don’t believe he was ever the featured guy, he was in a backup capacity, but he has done it.

Question: How are his hands?

Coughlin: I think the hands are good.

Question: Soft hands?

Coughlin: Got that nice sound when the ball is caught.  He is not small; he is just under six feet and 187, 188 pounds, so he is not a small guy by any means.

MEDIA Q&A WITH WIDE RECEIVER MARIO MANNINGHAM:

Question: What was your feeling when you were drafted?

Manningham: I was just happy knowing that it is the New York Giants, the Super Bowl champs.  You can’t ask for anything better than that.

Question: Did you have hopes of going much earlier than you did?

Manningham: I mean the draft is crazy every year.  You just have to relax and when your name gets called you just have to be ready.

Question: Can you talk about your off-field situation and how it may have affected your draft stock?

Manningham: The past is the past.  It happened.  Hey, I am just excited to play.  The off the field issues that is really nothing or whatever everyone is talking about or whatever.  I am just ready to play.  I am not really thinking about the past.  The past is the past.  I am ready to just come in and make my team better.

Question: Were you aware of how many rookies contributed for the Giants last season?

Manningham: No, I am not.

Question: All eight picks played; do you think you can make that kind of impact?

Manningham: I think I can come in and make my team better and help my team win.

Question: What do you remember about your visit with the Giants at Giants Stadium?

Manningham: Like I was telling Coach Sullivan, I love it.  When I came up there he was just explaining to us how the system was.  He showed us around real nice.  I like the facility and the players seem to be nice.

Question: Which players did you talk to?

Manningham: I don’t remember the players’ names, we just went down to the locker room and everyone was just talking, everyone was just cool in the weight room.  It was like a different bond from other teams that I went to.  New York is all about business.

Question: Did you welcome the chance to tell your side of the story to the Giants about your off the field issues?

Manningham: I talked to the Giants when I was at the combine and I talked to them when I went to visit them.  I let them know what was going on and stuff.  Evidently they believed in me just like I believe in me and they went and picked me.

Question: How much do you think your past problems hurt your draft status as the draft went on?

Manningham: Like I told you, you never know what can happen because some players that they had going early, they didn’t go early, and some players they had going late didn’t go late.  I am just thankful to get drafted.  I am just thankful to be in the position that I am in, playing for the Super Bowl champions and trying to make a return there next year.

Question: Did you have any regrets about how you handled the whole thing?

Manningham: No, I don’t have any regrets.  The past is the past.  The past is the past.  It happened and you can’t take back what happened.  Like I told you, I am just going to come in here with a clean head and meet my team’s coaches and do what I have to do to just come in there and play and make my team better.

Question: Do you think you are a risky pick?

Manningham: I don’t think I am a risky pick.  I don’t think that is the issue.  Everyone’s picks are the same; I mean everyone’s picks are different.  If different coaches believe in different players, they are going to pick those players, but some players go to other places.  I don’t think I am a risky pick.

Question: How much do you know about the Giants wide receivers?

Manningham: I know Plaxico (Burress) and Amani (Toomer).  They all are talented.  I don’t really know too much about them.  I watch them, they ball, they play hard, and I am looking forward to going up under one of their wings and buying into what their coaches have to tell me and buying into what they have to coach me.

Question: Do you feel like you had to sell yourself more than other players when you came in here and other places for an interview?

Manningham: When I came to the interviews they got to know me and got to know how I learn and got to know about my past and everything, so I really don’t think that I had to sell myself.  I just feel like I had to just be myself.


4th Round – LB Bryan Kehl, BYU (6-2, 242lbs, 4.68)

SCOUTING REPORT: Two-year starter.  Finished the 2007 season with 91 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, and 3 interceptions.  Kehl combines good size and athleticism.  He is a three-down linebacker with good speed and agility.  Changes direction well.  Strong.  He is not the most aggressive linebacker out there and sometimes struggles to shed.  He has very good intangibles – smart, instinctive, intense, and hard working.  “Wow, he is really something when you talk to him,” one scout said. “He might have been the best interview at the entire Combine.  He’s the kind of person you want on your team.”  Scored a 29 on the Wonderlic.  “Kehl is just a flat-out player,” said Kehl’s college coach.  “He is one of those guys who is always around the football and is a ball hog and makes a lot of plays.  I have talked to some people out there and they tell me one thing about this guy, he is not only an athlete but he has got a mind that is absolutely unreal and football is important to him.”

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE:

Reese: Bryan Kehl is a linebacker from BYU.  We liked him.  He is a big athlete, can run, very, very smart, good in coverage.  He played in a 3-4 defense as an outside backer.  So we think he can play SAM or WILL for us.  They are kind of interchangeable in our defense, to be honest with you.  So those are things we liked about him.  We moved up to get him because there were so many positive things about him.  We had some extra picks in the sixth round so we moved up a few spots to pick him.  But there is a lot of positive stuff about him – a clean guy.  We think he will be a good football player for us; play on all of the special teams right away.  We like him that way.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN:

Coughlin: The linebacker situation; we lost two linebackers in free agency.  We really did a good job here because these two young men, not only are they good football players but they are smart, they have been in sophisticated systems, and I think that both of these guys are going to come in and they are going to be people who will challenge because I think mentally they will be in good shape and they also are going to be outstanding special teams players because both of them have the ability to run.


5th Round – LB Jonathan Goff, Vanderbilt University (6-2, 245lbs, 4.72)

SCOUTING REPORT: Three-year starter.  Goff finished the 2007 season with 113 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks, and 2 interceptions.  Goff has good size and is well built.  There are conflicting reports on his overall athleticism and range.  A little on the stiff side and not overly agile.  Active and productive.  Strong.  Goff takes on blocks well and plays strong at the point of attack.  He is not strong in man coverage.  Excellent intangibles – smart, hardworking, and plays with an attitude.  Twice voted team captain.  Scored a 29 on the Wonderlic.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE:

Reese: The next man is Jonathan Goff, linebacker from Vanderbilt.  We think he is a middle linebacker; very productive; very smart.  He can play on all of the special teams.  That is a common theme with us – got to play on all of the special teams; a young kid to bring into the fold, start developing some as a backup middle linebacker.  He is smart.  All of the things that we like about football players, those last two guys.  So that was two good picks for us to give us some depth at linebacker and create some competition at some of those positions as well.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN:

Coughlin: The linebacker situation; we lost two linebackers in free agency.  We really did a good job here because these two young men, not only are they good football players but they are smart, they have been in sophisticated systems, and I think that both of these guys are going to come in and they are going to be people who will challenge because I think mentally they will be in good shape and they also are going to be outstanding special teams players because both of them have the ability to run.


6th Round – QB Andre’ Woodson, University of Kentucky (6-4, 229lbs, 4.85)

SCOUTING REPORT: Three-year starter.  In 2007, Woodson completed 63 percent of his passes for 3,709 yards, 40 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.  He has ideal size and a very strong arm.  Pocket passer – not much of a scrambler.  Inconsistent accuracy.  He has an unusual delivery and a bit of a slow windup on his deep ball.  Cool, calm, and poised.  Will stand in the pocket and take the hit.  However, he will hold onto the ball and take too many sacks.  Woodson needs to throw the ball away more.  He will force the ball.  Good play action passer.  Woodson will bird dog his primary receiver.  Not a vocal leader.  Smart and competitive.  There are some questions about his ability to absorb an NFL playbook – scored a 14 on the Wonderlic.  “He made a winning team out of a doormat,” Tampa Bay consultant Jim Gruden said. “He’s got good touch and throws the deep ball well.  I don’t think he’s real mobile.  His problem is he’s got a long windup similar to some guys that haven’t made it.”

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE:

Reese: We took Andre Woodson, the quarterback from Kentucky.  For years we have talked about bringing in a young quarterback; drafting a young quarterback, and developing the quarterback in our system.  Let him grow up here.  This guy has got a strong skill set.  We like a lot of things about him.  He is very productive playing for Kentucky.  He has a lot of production over his years there as a quarterback for Kentucky.  He has a skill set.  He has the arm to make all of the throws.  He is a pretty good athlete for that position.  So there are a lot of positive things about him down there in the draft room.  So we are going to bring him along and see if he can challenge for some of our quarterback position – our backup quarterback spots.

Question: Why did Woodson last this long?

Reese: Why did Tom Brady?  It is different things for different quarterbacks.  You never know.  This is the draft and things happen in the draft.  A lot of guys get overlooked. How many guys were free agents who were really good players.  Why did they get passed over so many times?

Question: Were you tempted to go for him earlier?

Reese: No.  We thought that was a good spot for him.  We have talked for years about bringing in a young quarterback and developing him.

Question: Will you take five quarterbacks to camp?

Reese: I doubt that we bring five quarterbacks to training camp.  So the competition will start quickly.

Question: Woodson went into the season very highly rated and then seemed to tail off.

Reese: Very highly rated.

Question: Heisman candidate and all of that.  By the end of the year he fell off.  Yet he had a productive season.

Reese: He had 40 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and threw for 3,700 yards.  That is pretty good production I think.  But it is just fickle in college football.  If you fall off a little bit, they don’t like you as much.  He got out of the Heisman race I guess but he was still very productive I thought.  Over the last couple of years he has thrown for I think 71 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.  So he has been incredibly productive.  I don’t know how strong his supporting cast has been, too, in Kentucky.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN:

Coughlin: In Andre’ Woodson, this was just too good a pick for us to pass up.  This is a guy that was rated highly on our board.  We found ourselves in a position where we felt like he was a guy we wanted to bring in as a young quarterback who could work in our system and be a guy who we could develop as we went forward.  That was the idea as we made that pick in the sixth round.

Question: Jerry said you would try to bring Woodson along, does that mean you need to make a decision on some of the other QBs on the roster?

Coughlin: We will make those decisions going forward.  For now we are okay because we can go ahead and have the numbers because the rookies are obviously not signed.  For now we will do one day at a time.  Let’s take today and then digest some of this stuff.  As soon as the seventh round is over we do have to jump hard into the free agency stuff.  As you know we have had success doing that, we take great pride in that, our coaches are cranked and ready to go, all the instructions are given out a couple of weeks ahead of time.  We look at the players that remain on the board, we know what our positional needs are, our numbers, we have had that all figured out in advance so that is a real important part of our day and a very, very serious part to the overall success of the draft; what you can do with the quality of players that you sign as free agents.

Question: A lot of times when you see a team with an established quarterback take one in the later rounds they develop them and then trade them. Is that the situation with Woodson?

Coughlin: We are all aware, we are all aware of how these things are maneuvered.  The Patriots taking O’Connell in the bottom of the third, which is almost like what we did when we had the break at the bottom of the third round and then the next day you worry about people going back into the room saying, ‘oh there is a player that we will take right here at the top,’ so you have to take him in the bottom of the third.  There are theories, there is practicality, there is the way in which things are done within a draft, and there is the way in which things are done within a roster.  This is a good, young, and talented kid who we really were excited about and we drafted him for that purpose and we will see what the future holds.


6th Round – DE Robert Henderson, Southern Mississippi (6-3, 280lbs, 4.87)

SCOUTING REPORT: In 2007, in 13 games, Henderson accrued 64 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery.  Henderson combines good size and athleticism.  Quick and agile.  He can rush the passer.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE:

Reese: Our last pick was Robert Henderson, a defensive end from Southern Mississippi.  He is kind of a size-speed defensive end.  He is 278 pounds.  I think he is about 6-3.  A developmental kind of a kid — ran real fast.  So he has some things to develop that we like about him.  He is a big, thick guy with some athletic ability.  We think he can develop into something for us in a year or so.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN:

Coughlin: Robert Henderson is a guy that we brought in and visited.  Manningham, as you know, was here, Henderson was here.  We spent time with these guys and we really felt good about Henderson.  We had him graded in a position on our board where in this last round it was a guy of value that we felt would help us because of the ability, again, to rush the passer, to be a strong guy who could play end, and also could maybe slide inside on third down in the pass situation.


 Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports

WR D.J. Hall, Alabama (6-2, 195lbs, 4.60)
Four-year starter.  Productive, Hall finished the 2007 season with 67 receptions for 1,005 yards and 6 touchdowns.  He caught 13 passes in one game against Tennessee.  Hall combines excellent size and athleticism.  He plays faster than he times and can separate and get deep.  Not physical, he has some issues with press coverage.  He needs to improve his route running.  Hall adjusts well to the football and has good hands.  Elusive after the catch.  He makes plays in the clutch.  Hall has a reputation for not being a great worker.  Gives a good effort as a blocker.

TE Eric Butler, Mississippi State (6-3, 255lbs, 4.76)
In 2007, Butler played in 13 games with five starts and had eight receptions for 71 yards.  In four years at Mississippi State, Butler caught 50 passes for 635 yards and eight touchdowns.

OC Glenn “Digger” Bujnoch, Cincinnati (6-5, 285lbs, 5.17)
Bujnoch has experience at both tackle spots.  He lacks the ideal height and arm length to play tackle in the pros.  He is a good athlete.  Bujnoch obviously needs to get bigger and stronger.  He struggles with power.  Bujnoch is more of a finesse player than mauler.  He is a better pass blocker than run blocker.  Quick and understands angles.  Good intangibles – smart and hardworking.

OG Andrew Bain, Miami (6-3, 344lbs, 5.13)
Bain started all 13 games as a junior but was only a part-time starter his senior season.  He has very good size, but lacks athleticism and agility.  He does not get a lot of movement in his run blocks.  Bain struggles blocking in space at times.  Plays hard.  Could project to center.

OG Carnell Stewart, LSU (6-5, 311lbs, 5.22) - Waived 5/9/2008
Stewart is a converted defensive lineman who was moved the offensive line in 2006.  Started 14 games at right tackle in 2007.  Stewart has very good size, but looks stiff and not very agile.  Very raw.

OT Dylan Thiry, Northwestern (6-8, 315lbs, 5.37)
Three-year started at left tackle, but most likely projects to right tackle in the pros.  Thiry has very good height and growth potential.  Lacks ideal athleticism.

DE Wallace Gilberry, Alabama (6-3, 267lbs, 4.97)
Gilberry started all 13 games in 2007 and finished the season with 80 tackles, 27 tackles for a loss, and 10 sacks.  He ranked third nationally in tackles for a loss.  Gilberry is a good run defender and tackler who sometimes struggles to get off blocks.  He plays faster than his 40-time.  Quick and fluid.  He needs to get stronger.  Good intangibles – plays hard and hustles.  Gilberry struggled at the Senior Bowl.  “Wallace is a really good pass-rusher,” said Nick Saban, Wallace’s college coach.  “He’s very athletic, he can run pretty good for his size, he’s big enough.  You always take speed and power.  He makes a lot of plays because of his quickness and his athleticism, and he’s going to be able to make a significant impact because of what he brings in certain downs.”

DE Antonio Reynolds, Tennessee (6-3, 270lbs, 4.85) - Waived 5/14/2008
Reynolds played all 14 games at right defensive end in 2007, finishing with 31 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss, and 3 sacks.  Reynolds has good size and long arms.  Reynolds is a decent athlete with some quickness and agility to his game, but he is not overly fast.  Reynolds is a better run defender than pass rusher.  Flashes power, but he needs to get stronger.  Inconsistent.  His effort and passion for the game have been questioned.  He has been labeled an underachiever.

DE Alex Morrow, USC (6-6, 270lbs, 4.76)
In 2007, Morrow was a backup defensive end and special teams player at USC.  In 13 games, he finished the season with 5 tackles and 2 sacks.

DT Ogemdi Nwagbuo, Michigan State (6-4, 290, 5.15)
Nwagbuo played in 13 games in 2007, starting 12 at nose tackle, and finished the season with 31 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, 1 sack, and 1 fumble recovery.  Nwagbuo has decent size and the frame to get bigger.  Strong, he can push the pocket.  Nwagbuo flashes quickness, but he not overly athletic or fast.  He does not provide much of a pass rush.  Smart.  Very raw, he did not play football until his senior year in high school.  Nwagbuo needs a lot of technique work.

DT Josh Muse, Louisiana Tech (6-3, 315lbs) - Waived 5/12/2008
In 2007, Muse started all 12 games at defensive tackle and finished the season with 47 tackles, 8 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble.  He was named second team All-WAC.

DT Nate Robinson, Akron (6-3, 315lbs, 5.11)
Robinson transferred to Akron from Rutgers after he was released from the team for an undisclosed team violation.  He started 6-of-10 games at nose tackle in 2007, finishing the year with 26 tackles, 5 tackles for a loss, and 2 sacks.  Robinson missed time due to ankle and shoulder injuries.  Robinson is well built and powerful.  He is stout and can hold his ground in run defense.  Not overly quick or explosive.  His work ethic, competitiveness, commitment to the game, and intensity have been questioned.  Robinson has been labeled an underachiever.  He had offers from the Chiefs and Dolphins after the draft as well.

S Nehemiah Warrick, Michigan State (6-1, 208lbs, 4.57)
Two-year starter.  Warrick finished the 2007 season with 61 tackles.  Warrick combines good size and athleticism.  He is quick, agile, and strong.  Warrick has decent speed, but plays with a hesitation in his game that makes him look slower at times.  Physical, tough, and competitive.  He is a much better run defender than pass defender.  Warrick is not overly instinctive in pass defense and struggles at times in coverage.  He does not make plays on the football in the air.

S Miguel Scott, North Carolina State (6-0, 203lbs, 4.42) - Waived 6/20/2008
Scott was a three-year starter at safety for North Carolina State.  In 2007, he was credited with 43 tackles and one interception.

S Terrance Stringer, Tuskegee (6-3, 213)
In 2007, Stringer finished the season with 41 tackles and 3 pass breakups.

P/PK Owen Tolson, Army (6-2, 199, 5.05) - Waived 5/12/2008
In 2007, Tolson was 8-of-15 on field goal attempts (53 percent) and averaged 45 yards per punt on 73 punts (26 punts downed inside the 20 and a net average of 36.5 yards per punt).  Tolson has a strong leg.  “I spoke to the (Giants’) kicking coach, and I will have the opportunity to compete for a starting kickoff spot, and will backup Feagles,” said Tolson.  “He is there for another year, but I will have the opportunity to learn from him and take over the starting role when he retires.  I will be practicing my kickoffs and field goals immediately and look forward to competing for a starting job this fall.  If all else fails, I want to at least be on the practice squad.”  Tolson also received interest from the Cowboys, Steelers, and Lions.


 Eric’s Take on the 2008 Draft

I’m going to start this draft review with the same EXACT statement that I made at this time last year:

Let’s get this out of the way up front – there isn’t a man or woman alive on this planet who can accurately predict how the Giants fared in the 2007 NFL Draft (obviously now the 2008 NFL Draft).  That will be determined on the playing field and we probably won’t really have a good idea how the Giants actually did until 10 years have passed.  What we are all doing right now – especially fans like myself – are talking out of our asses.  Even the so-called “experts” at ESPN and The NFL Network can’t agree on how the Giants did.  The former thinks the Giants did poorly; the latter thinks the Giants did well.  The personnel departments of NFL teams would also probably have much varied opinions.

But talking about the draft is fun.  Many of us enjoy the speculation and analysis leading up to Draft Day, watching the draft unfold on Draft Weekend, and then critiquing how each team fared, especially the Giants. So here are my thoughts on how I think the Giants did.

So here is my take on the Giants and the 2008 NFL Draft:

If you read my 2008 Giants Draft Needs article, you know that the positions of need that I identified were defensive back, linebacker, and wide receiver.  And those are exactly the positions the Giants addressed.

It is very interesting to note that four of the Giants first five selections were on the back seven of the defense, and the first two selections were in the secondary.  To me, that’s very telling.  It suggests that the Giants’ organization saw their primary needs as defensive and in spots other than the defensive line.

As for the specific picks themselves, I think the Giants got very good value almost across the board.  Keep in mind that the Giants drafted at the end of each round.  So the first-round pick was a borderline second-round pick.  The second-round pick was a borderline third-round pick.  If you take that into consideration, the Giants picks look even better.

Safety Kenny Phillips was not a glamorous pick, but it was a very solid selection that addressed the Giants’ #1 need area.  Widely regarded by most as the best safety in the draft, Phillips combines very good size and athleticism.  It’s tough to find a safety with his size who can play man coverage.  Indeed, Phillips has some experience playing corner.  That will serve the Giants well against the athletic tight ends in the NFC East.  It is also tough to find a safety who is equally adept at defending the run and the pass, and Phillips is good at both.  The knock on him?  He doesn’t make many plays on the football – only seven career interceptions at Miami despite starting there three years.  He also is not a “light-you-up” hitter like Sean Taylor was.  That said, Phillips was asked to do a lot at Miami and he may end up being a better pro when his responsibilities are more clearly defined on an already strong defense.  He is a good kid too.  It may not be a stretch to say that Phillips has the tools to become the Giants’ best safety in decades.

I like the selection of Terrell Thomas more than most.  I saw cornerback as an area of need despite the emergence of Aaron Ross and Corey Webster.  Thomas has very good size (he looks even bigger than his listed size) and athleticism.  He has really long arms and plays a physical, aggressive game with receivers at the line.  In my view, he looks like the prototypical press corner.  He’s the kind of guy you match up against a big receiver like Terrell Owens – but not against a quick water bug receiver like a Santana Moss.  The big questions on him are his health (he has had shoulder and knee injuries in his past) and speed.  Regarding the former, Thomas did not miss a game in 2006 and 2007.  He’s a tough guy.  Regarding the latter, that remains to be seen but the Giants believe he is plenty fast enough (he did time at 4.45 – a very good time).

Also keep this is mind, Phillips and Thomas are big defensive backs.  So are Corey Webster, James Butler, Michael Johnson, and Sammy Knight.  Aaron Ross has decent size.  The Giants have put together a secondary with a lot of size that can knock people around.

Mario Manningham wasn’t on my draft board because of his character issues (drugs).  But I did not expect him to last to the bottom of the third round.  At that point, it is worth the risk for the defending Super Bowl champions to take a shot at a guy who has the ability to become a dangerous starting receiver in the NFL.  We’re talking about a pick that was almost a 4th rounder.  It’s a good situation for Manningham.  He doesn’t need to come in right away and excel.  He can learn from guys like Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer about what it takes to be a professional football player.  Of course, the big issue is the marijuana use.  The NFL will test him and if he continues to smoke and gets caught, he will get suspended.  The guy who really needs to have a heart-to-heart talk with him is David Tyree, who had similar issues until he cleaned up his life.  As for his talent, my only concern with him is his size.  He is tall enough, but he has to add muscle and bulk without reducing his speed and quickness.  If he can do that, Manningham has the ability to replace Toomer as the starting flanker in a year or two.  One gets the sneaky suspicion that we will be hearing “Manning to Manningham” for a long time.

Both linebacker selections in the ensuing two picks were very solid selections.  Not only did they address a need (albeit not as large as some assumed), but they were both good value picks.  Many had expected Bryan Kehl and Jonathan Goff to be drafted earlier.  Indeed, the Giants told Kehl they would draft him in the third round, but backed off when Manningham slid.  The Giants then traded up seven spots in the fourth round to ensure that they got Kehl.  Kehl has ideal character and intelligence.  On top of that, he’s a good football player.  He has the athletic ability to be a three-down linebacker.  He can play the run and cover.  It will be interesting to see what kind of blitzer he is in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense.  The Giants think he can play both outside spots.

As for Goff, the Giants are looking at him as a middle linebacker, but he probably has the ability to play on the strongside as well.  He’s a big, physical run defender.  Like Kehl, he is really smart.  There are conflicting reports over his overall athletic ability and his ability to drop into coverage.  Some say he is stiff and struggles in man coverage.  We shall see.  When you take into account the fact that the Giants already have Gerris Wilkinson and Zak DeOssie on the roster, the Giants have some very good young talent at linebacker now.  That said, I wouldn’t assume that Goff will beat out Chase Blackburn.  Goff is not guaranteed a roster spot and he could run into a numbers game.

The drafting of Andre’ Woodson most likely spells doom for Anthony Wright and Jared Lorenzen.  The Giants will only keep three quarterbacks.  David Carr will likely be one and Woodson the other unless one or both completely flop in training camp and the preseason.  The Giants heavily scouted quarterbacks in advance of the draft so I don’t completely buy the line the Giants are using that Woodson represented “too much value to pass up”.  I do think he was an excellent value pick at the bottom of the sixth round, but I think the Giants wanted to come out of this draft with a quarterback.  Woodson will be under contract with the Giants for the next four years before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.  Hopefully, by that time – and after providing 2-3 years of quality back-up service – the Giants can trade him for a high pick.  Keep in mind Carr will likely leave in free agency in 2009.

I could find very little information on 6th rounder Robert Henderson.  But the Giants know defensive ends so I am intrigued to see him.  The Giants say he is raw but has the ability to play both inside and outside (like Justin Tuck).  However, he’s going to have fight like crazy to make this team.

Overall, I am very pleased with this group.  There were no picks that caused me to go, “What the hell?!”  I think the Giants significantly upgraded themselves in the secondary, at linebacker, and at wide receiver.  The only position that makes me a tad nervous is defensive tackle.  It’s not that I don’t like Fred Robbins, Barry Cofield, and Jay Alford, but there isn’t much depth at this position for training camp and the preseason.  If someone gets hurt, the Giants will be in trouble.  It’s too bad that Manny Wright didn’t work out.

Jul 192007
 
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New York Giants 2007 NFL Draft Review

Draft Pick Scouting Reports
Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports
Eric’s Take on the 2007 Draft

Round Pick in Round Overall Selection Player Selected
1 20 20 CB Aaron Ross, University of Texas
2 19 51 WR Steve Smith, USC
3 18 81 DT Jay Alford, Penn State University
4 17 116 LB Zak DeOssie, Brown University
5 16 153 TE Kevin Boss, Western Oregon University
6 15 189 LT Adam Koets, Oregon State University
7 14 224 S Michael Johnson, University of Arizona
7 40 250 HB Ahmad Bradshaw, Marshall University

2007 Draft Pick Scouting Reports

1st Round – CB Aaron Ross, Texas (6-0, 193lbs, 4.54)

Scouting Report: Ross did not start until his senior season at Texas because the Longhorns were loaded at cornerback. He would have been a 4-year starter at another school. Ross combines very good size and athleticism for a cornerback. Long arms. Has good quickness and plays faster than he timed at the NFL Combine. Fluid and smooth. Instinctive in coverage, he makes plays on the football. Plays well in bump-and-run, man-to-man coverage. Not as strong when he plays off the receiver. Reacts and recovers quickly. Sometimes will gamble and get burned. Has good hands for the interception. Will stick his nose in there against the run – physical, but he needs to become a more consistent tackler. Excellent intangibles – high character guy who works hard. Competitive and confident. Very good punt returner. Respected NFL.com analyst and former assistant NFL personnel director Pat Kirwan says: “There are a few teams right behind this selection that are upset. He was the target of a lot of teams in the bottom of the first round. Good ball hawk with 10 INTs and 33 passes defended. He was the third corner on everyone’s board.” In 2006, he started all 13 games for the Longhorns and was credited with 80 tackles, 19 pass defenses, 6 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries.

Media Q&A With General Manager Jerry Reese:

Q: What was it about Aaron Ross that you liked?

A: His has played at a high level. He has size, he has speed. He fits our scheme. He fits our scheme – a big guy with long arms who can battle big receivers. He can play that press coverage that our coordinator thinks that we are probably are going to play more of this year. So he fits what we want to do. He was productive – six interceptions, 19 pass breakups. He has returned three punts for touchdowns in his career. So he had a lot of value. Will he cover Terrell Owens better than he will cover Santana Moss? Absolutely he will because he is a big guy, he is long-armed. Is he going to get some balls caught on him from little guys in front of him? He probably will, but he is going to battle those big guys that we play with the in the National Football League, which is a big-receiver league. So we felt good about him in that aspect. Very productive.

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

A: We tried to move up a couple of times and they wanted too much for us to move up. We just decided that we will stay the plan. We actually kind of thought this is where we would be at this point in the draft. A couple of guys kept falling. Let’s get up and try to get a couple of them, a couple of corners that we liked. They fell farther than we thought they would. We tried to get up a couple of times but the price was too high. So we moved on.

Q: Was the corner position the one that you wanted?

A: It was one of the positions. Obviously we can use some help in the secondary. So we wanted to address that. We didn’t want to reach for a corner but we saw the high-rated corners start to fall so, you get a little antsy and go up and take a stab at some of them.

Q: Was this more of a need pick or was it a value pick?

A: It was a need and a value pick for us. So we didn’t reach for this guy. With the players on the board, we did not reach for this player. So it was a need and a value pick for us. So that is a good place to be in when you can get a need and a value pick. Seldom do you get it like that.

Q: Was he the second corner picked?

A: He was the third corner picked. Revis was the first corner picked, then Hall, then Ross. He was the third corner picked.

Q: How high were you looking to go? Were you looking to get up close to the top 10?

A: No, we were not trying to get up in the top 10 because those guys were past the top 10; they fell past the top 10. We thought those guys might go in the top 10. And when they started to fall past the top 10 that’s when we investigated moving up to try maybe to secure one of those guys. But the price was too steep and we passed.

Q: Ross is going to be 25 starting this season? Is that a factor?

A: Twenty-five is not old. Twenty-five years old – we are not worried about that. We know he is going to be 25. That’s not an issue for us.

Q: Does that lead you to believe that he will be more prepared for this than if he were 22 or 23?

A: Not necessarily. Twenty-three, 25, is really not that big of a difference. That’s nitpicking.

Q: You said you were very interested in two other corners and you picked this one. Cornerback was obviously something you were interested in.

A: Sure, we were interested in corners. There were several other defensive positions that we were interested in. But this guy was sitting there with all of the production so it was the right time and the right place for us to pick him. So we picked him.

Q: Is it fair to say you felt cornerback was a bigger need than the linebacker position?

A: No necessarily. But where we had this guy ranked compared to some of the linebackers we had ranked, he was the best choice for us at the time; how we had him ranked on our board.

Q: How much is this a reflection of your new coordinator? The Eagles always tried to stock up on the defensive backfield.

A: Coach Spagnuolo gave us the type of players that he liked in his system. He didn’t say, “Well, I want this player.” He didn’t tell us, “I want Aaron Ross or I want Leon Hall.” He said, “These are the type of players that I like in the system that we are going to run.” So we have a description of corners, we have a description of safeties. And we had the same thing with Tim Lewis as well. So it’s not new for us. This guy fits what we are going to try to do.

Q: At what point did you know that Ross was going to be a serious consideration? Was it the Combine, was it is workout?

A: Obviously we were looking at corners and we felt like he was the third corner. We had the other two guys that went before us. We had those guys ranked ahead of him and he was the third corner. So if those two guys went, obviously like we thought they would, he would probably be in the conversation at some point if the right people were still not on the board for us. And they were not on the board so he was a value pick and a need pick for us.

Q: Was it his Combine, or his workout, or just his season in general that left the biggest impression on you?

A: His whole body of work; what he did in the Combine, what he did during the season and over his career. He played at a high level on some championship football teams. So his whole body of work intrigued us.

Q: When the Jets moved up to 14th, was that when the conversations stopped about moving up?

A: When the Jets moved up?

Q: When they picked the corner is that when the conversation stopped for you?

A: No, we still made a couple of calls after that.

Q: Re: Offers to move down?

A: There were some offers to move down but for us to move down seven or eight spots, the guy had too much value for us to move down seven or eight spots. We talked about these scenarios. We talked about it and really we thought this guy may be a guy that could be there. And he was one of the guys that we talked about that could be there at the right time. We would sit and wait and see if somebody wanted to move up to our spot. We did get a couple of calls but they were nickeling and diming us and we picked.

Q: Do you expect this guy to be a big factor in the punt return game?

A: I expect him to challenge. Hopefully he will. I expect him to challenge because he has done it. He has three returns for touchdowns at a high level…So I definitely expect him to challenge and be back there at some point.

Media Q&A With Head Coach Tom Coughlin:

Opening statement: I think that in Aaron Ross we’ve certainly found a guy that is an outstanding physical corner; he can play in the press position. He is a physical guy who has been a good tackler while at Texas. Obviously he’s played in an awful lot of big games. He is a guy that uses the run away or bail technique when he is in the off position. He likes to press; he is physical as I’ve said with his hands. He is a guy that has also had tremendous numbers. His production is outstanding. Jerry (Reese) probably went over it with you, the 19 pass breakups in addition to the six interceptions. The fact that you have an aggressive secondary and he has played in the run support position; these have all been really positive things. The other thing about him is the punt return ability. That is a big plus for us right now as you know. Here is a guy that has done this. He has three touchdowns in his career on punt returns. He has a nice punt return average for his career. He gives you that added ability there. He has a good first step. He is a guy that has the ability to split it and go for it. He has good size, you are talking about a guy that is a little over six foot and 196 or seven pounds and has very good speed. We are excited about that. Whenever you are in a position like that in the draft you watch all these people leave the board and you are hoping that you’ll have an opportunity to combine value with need. I think in this situation we have been able to do that.

Q: How much of an impact do you expect him to have as a rookie?

A: They have to make an impact at this point in time. We expect him to come right in and compete and to be in a position where he can help us. He has played on the nickel teams, he has played inside, and he has played outside. As we said he is a good tackler and punt returner. He will help us. He has special teams value as well even if it is not as a punt returner.

Q: Did the first round progress as you expected it to?

A: There were some surprises. For a long time there were no trades in this draft. People were just waiting to see what is going to happen and players seemed to fall. I think the two offensive tackles in the first five; some people had it projected that way and some did not. Brady Quinn not having gone at this time, you’ve got an outstanding player that is going to go somewhere and have a nice career. I hate to see everybody zooming in on him as if something is wrong there. When the corners did go we had a little disparity in when the first corner and the second corner were taken. The top three were gone off the board as soon as that happened. To say that it is a typical draft; I don’t know if you can say that. Most people had these players pegged that this point in time and they are gone.

Q: Was cornerback your biggest need going into this draft?

A: Obviously we have some needs to fill. I think you try to balance all these things out, that being one of our needs. Certainly the opportunity to take the value and put it along with a need is what you are trying to do always. There are a few things we want to get done in this draft and we hopefully at this point on in the first day we can answer some more of our needs along with being able to stay with good quality picks.

Q: How do you feel about the moves the team made this off season?

A: I feel good about that. Obviously the development of some of our younger players is going to be a very big factor in our improvement and I can tell you honestly I do see some very good things taking place here in the offseason. Until we get on the field and until we line up in the fall obviously it is just going to be speculation, but I do feel pretty good about it.

Media Q&A With Player:

Q: How does it feel to be selected by the Giants in the first round?

A: It is wonderful. I was outside playing catch with my little nephew and my mom called me because I guess they had my name at the bottom of the screen as a projection. I went in and got the call and immediately my hands started shaking, my heard started pounding, but I am full of excitement right now. I really don’t know how to explain it.

Q: Did you know how seriously the Giants were looking at you?

A: Not at all. Honestly they did not show me any answers. I did not go in to visit with the Giants and they did not call me like other teams. So if it was a poker game, they won.

Q: What can you do to help this team as a rookie?

A: I compete. I am a competitor. I compete in everything I do. With that value I’d never change myself. I am a driven player, a driven person, and I am very personable. I can get along with the team and figure I can fit in with the team pretty easily.

Q: Do you think you’ll be able to step in right away and compete for a job here?

A: Yes. I have to say that I am a competitor so I am not coming there to sit on the bench. I am coming there to battle for a position, but of course respect the veteran players and get under some of the veteran’s wings to learn the plays and to learn the systems. It is a job; you have to compete for a starting position. I am going to get under the players, let them teach me, learn from them, and see what happens.

Q: How much press coverage did you play in college?

A: We played quite a bit my freshman, sophomore, and junior years. This past year we played a lot of quarters due to injuries in the secondary.

Q: Is playing press coverage a strength of yours?

A: Yes. I feel like that is my strength to get down there and lock up on a guy. That is something I did in high school and like I said in my first three years of college. I really love to man up on guys and take them out of the game.

Q: What do you think the toughest adjustment will be at the NFL level?

A: I think being star struck. Facing T.O. Facing Chad Johnson. Making myself realize that they are not on a video game anymore or on Sunday Night Football. I am up against them on the other side. Once I get over that I feel like I will be straight.

Q: Who did you talk to when the Giants called?

A: I am not sure.

Q: What did they tell you about how they saw you fitting in?

A: They said they liked me a lot. They did not really get into details. They just said they really liked me as a player and as a person and that you are a Giant. That is when I heard my name called and they were calling me back to get on conference calls.

Q: You are a little older than the average rookie; do you think that is an advantage?

A: Yes. It has made me mature a lot faster. I had to sit out for two years. Those two years were really good for me. I had a chance to be with my mom, to be with my pastor, and everyone. It kept my mind right.

Q: Where did you think you were going to go in the draft?

A: The whole projection I kept hearing was between 17 and 27 so I am excited I went at 20. I thought I was going to be at least 26 or 27.

Q: What kept you out two years?

A: Transfer issues. I went to two high schools and one of the schools did not have one of my grades on the transcript and it was mixed up for two years. It cost me two years.

Q: Do you like returning punts?

A: Yes, I love returning punts, I love doing that. Especially since I have an offensive mind, that is my way to play a little bit of offense.


2nd Round – WR Steve Smith, USC (6-0, 197lbs, 4.45)

Scouting Report: Average size and not a blazer. However, Smith is a tough, productive receiver who knows how to change speeds and set up defenders. Quick and smooth. Reads defenses well, runs good routes, and has a feel for getting open against zone coverage. Can create separation on shorter routes with his burst out of cuts. Will go over the middle and work back to the quarterback. Smith adjusts well to the football and has good hands. Clutch player. Dependable. Very productive in college. He could struggle with press coverage and gaining separation at the pro level. Some scouting reports say he can get open against man coverage due to his quickness. He was not really a deep threat at USC. However, that may have been due to the way he was utilized as Smith was primarily the Trojan’s underneath receiver. Works at his run blocking. Most project him as a #2 or #3 receiver. Started 12 games as a senior and finished the season with 71 receptions for 1,083 yards and 9 touchdowns.

Media Q&A With General Manager Jerry Reese:

Q: What did you like about Steve Smith?

A: We liked Steve Smith because he is a gamer. He has played a lot of football, he has been real steady the whole time. Quarterbacks like this kind of receiver. This guy is polished, he is fast. He has the size. He can catch the ball and do something after the catch. So we like him for all of those characteristics. He is a real polished receiver that quarterbacks like. Quarterbacks like these kind of guys because they can depend on him. He can go in traffic and make plays. So we like that stuff about him.

Q: Does this have a lot to do with insurance in case Amani Toomer’s recovery doesn’t go as fast as expected?

A: We think about that. We think if Amani is not coming around like we hope he will, we have another guy in the receiver fold that we can throw in there. We think he is polished enough to put in there right away and he could play for us.

Q: Aaron Ross said something interesting. He said he had not heard from the Giants; you hadn’t called him, he had not visited. Is that unusual for you to take a player in the first round without that type of communication?

A: We did all of the work we needed with Aaron Ross at the Combine. We don’t bring everybody in. We felt good about him. We didn’t have any extra stuff that we needed to do with him so we felt good about our interview with him at the Combine. We didn’t feel like we needed to bring him in for any extra interviews or anything like that.

Q: Was picking Smith a case of the best available athlete at the time?

A: The best available athlete. There was value there and there was need there for us as well we thought. It was both; just like the first pick, it was value and need for us.

Q: Did you try to get up at all in the second round?

A: We did try to get up a couple of times. There were a couple of players up there that we tried to get up and get. But again the price was too high. So we just stood pat.

Q: Did Cleveland try to take your first round pick?

A: No. In the first round there were guys who were trying to nickel and dime us to move seven spots back. We weren’t going to do that.

Q: Is Smith more of a slot kind of guy?

A: No, I think he can play in the slot and I think he can play on the outside. He can play anywhere you want to put him.

Q: Scouting reports talked about him as a possession guy. He ran a 4.44.

A: He ran 4.48 on our clock. We think he is fast. We think he is faster than the other receivers up there. So he is fast enough.

Q: Would you compare him to an Ike Hilliard-type player?

A: No, I think he is faster than Ike. Ike is a slot; this guy is not a slot. This guy can play out wide and make plays. What happens to us, guys, is they double-team number 17; they double-team number 80 and you have to have somebody. So we have three different guys. Now, we hope one of those guys can beat somebody one-on-one. That is what you have to have. So we have three guys now that we think that maybe somebody can beat somebody.

Q: You have been looking at somebody like this for awhile; a dependable option.

A: A dependable option. So if they are going to take away number 17, they are going to take away number 80, you have to have somebody else. Toomer went down and then we had some guys that just didn’t do it for us. Sinorice – we think he can do it – but he was hurt most of the season last year. So now we have a couple of options. David Tyree is in the mix as well.

Q: So it is no reflection on Sinorice?

A: No, it’s no reflection on Sinorice at all. We will go into the season with five receivers easy. We do it every year.

Q: If Sinorice had played last year, there might not have been as pressing a need for a receiver.

A: Maybe not. If Amani was healthy and didn’t have to have the knee – we don’t know if we would have taken a receiver right here. We don’t know if he would’ve had that much value for us at this time. So there are a lot of things that went into us taking this pick. So I think there was need and a lot of value for us as well.

Q: You talked about Smith being the kind of guy a quarterback can trust. It sounds almost like you are describing Amani. Is he similar to Amani?

A: They are similar in a lot of ways, I think. But I think this guy would probably run a little faster than Amani did we he came out. People see him as a possession type receiver, but he does run fast. He plays fast. He carries his pads fast. He runs fast and he carries his pads fast.

Q: Not having selected a linebacker, how comfortable are you at that position right now?

A: We have linebackers. Will we look to try to get another linebacker? We might. So we will see how the draft continues to unfold. But if that position presents itself for us, we will see what is there.

Media Q&A With Player:

Q: Reaction to being picked?

A: I was relieved to hear my name and definitely being in the Big Apple is exciting.

Q: Did you know the Giants were interested in selecting you?

A: No I did not, not at all. I got a call from the Seahawks saying that they were going to pick me up and I was really happy that the Giants came before them.

Q: Do you have an idea how you will fit in here?

A: Coach Coughlin, I talked to him. He said I will fit in well with the offense and that they are excited for me to get out there and get to mini-camp May 11th.

Q: Would you describe yourself as a possession receiver?

A: Not necessarily. I had multiple plays in my offense at USC. I wouldn’t really say that about my game, I am a multiple threat as a receiver.

Q: Do you see yourself as the heir apparent to Amani Toomer?

A: Is he still there?

Q: Yes. He is coming off of knee surgery?

A: I have seen him many times watching games and he is just a solid player. Definitely one of the guys that moves the chains and really consistent out there. Hopefully he gets back from that injury and can help us out.

Q: Did you feel overshadowed by Dwayne Jarrett at USC?

A: Not quite. He was catching a lot of the touchdowns. You can’t really be upset with all the winning we had. We won so many games and national titles; really that overrides all the individual notoriety.

Q: How difficult was it to come back from injury?

A: It was not difficult at all. I came back and finished the season strong. I had three big touchdowns in the National Championship game.

Q: Where are you calling from?

A: I am at my high school coach’s house. In southern California.


3rd Round – DT Jay Alford, Penn State University (6-3, 304lbs, 5.19)

Scouting Report: Alford lacks ideal size, but he is a quick penetrator who is instinctive, heady, intense, and active. Agile and has very quick hands. Makes plays. Hardworking. Hustles and chases. Disruptive and closes well. Can have problems at the point-of-attack against the double-team block. Needs to play with better leverage against the run on a more consistent basis. One-gap-type. Can rush the passer. Needs to get stronger. Started all 13 games in 2006 and finished the year with 32 tackles, 14.5 tackles for a loss, 8 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries.

Media Q&A With General Manager Jerry Reese:

Q: Re: Jay Alford?

A: Jay Alford is a defensive tackle that has played at a high level, very productive. We really like his motor and how hard he plays. He has 16½ sacks for the last couple of years. He has been a productive player for them. We really like how he would fit in our rotation as a hard charger, an inside player to help shore up our defensive front.

Q: Is this another example of matching value with need?

A: It is similar to our first two picks. We wanted to get another guy inside to help our defensive front, so it was a need and there was value there as well. We had a nice grade on him. Again, he has been productive. You win football games with this kind of player.

Q: Is he more of a run stopper or pass rusher – how would you characterize him?

A: He has a lot of production as a pass rusher. But over his career he has 32 tackles for a loss. So he is more of a penetrating gap-charger than a point-of-attack two-gapper. But he is 304 pounds.

Q: Just how would you characterize the three picks today in general?

A: We helped ourselves with some quality high-level football players. Defensively we just talked about the guy up front, we like him. You win football games with guys like that player. The corner we drafted in the first round, he fits our defensive scheme that our new defensive coordinator is going to try to run. So he has been productive and making plays on the ball all of his career. He played at a high level. He also returned punts, so we will give him a shot in there to see how he does as a punt returner. And also Steve Smith, the receiver – a gamer. That is how I would describe him – he is a gamer. He has been steady the whole time at USC and played at a high level the entire time; he is polished. I think we can stick him in there and shore up the receiver corps. Quarterbacks like these kind of players. You throw the ball to them and they make something happen with it. And he is polished in his understanding and reading the defenses. So we feel good about the first pick. They are good football players who are team players. We feel like these guys are all team-type players. I want guys who buy into the team concept and all of these guys do that.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin on Alford: “This is a guy who we were very, very impressed with. A real penetrating inside pass rusher who I think, and (Defensive Line Coach) Mike Waufle agrees, is going to be a very good football player for the New York Giants. A guy that can play the run as well. Just very, very quick and athletic, and not only that, a guy that really wants to be a Giant. That was pretty exciting for me, that he wants to be a Giant…He has played over the center. He has a very, very quick move which is something that jumps right out at you. First of all his sack total for his career was very productive compared to some of the other guys at that position. He has played on the nose, or on the center, and he has played very effectively there, but he has also played in the three-technique position. His versatility is something we will take advantage of. Certainly on third down he can play at either spot. I would say probably at this point in time in first and second down he would be a three-technique. We are going to get him in here and get him on the weight program and he will come in at 304 or 305 right now and probably maybe when we go to camp 307 or 308 with that quickness which is really going to help.”

Media Q&A With Player:

Q: RE: Overall feeling about being drafted by the Giants?

A: I can’t even explain it right now. I’ve been watching the draft all day just waiting for my name to be called. Just to hear it being called is unbelievable. Unbelievable.

Q: Where are you right now?

A: I’m on my way back home. I’m just coming back from Hooters. On my way home to talk to my grandmother.

Q: Where is the Hooters?

A: Hooters in Wayne, New Jersey.

Q: Did you grow up a Giants fan?

A: Yeah, I definitely did. I grew up a Giants fan. It’s right around the corner, so of course I had to grow up a Giants fan.

Q: Thoughts on playing for your childhood team?

A: I get to play for my childhood team and it’s unbelievable. I can’t even explain how I feel right now. I’m so ecstatic right now. It’s tough. I’m trying to talk to you and get it together but it’s tough.

Q: What went down when your name was called? Were you still at the restaurant?

A: Well, we were on our way back (to my house in Orange, NJ) and I got the call from coach and I stopped the car and I got out. I couldn’t drive anymore. I got out and I pretty much ran down the street. Not down the street, I ran down the sidewalk. So I was good.

Q: Which coach called you?

A: I think it was coach Waufle. He called me as soon as it happened, I think, because like I said I wasn’t watching the TV. As soon as he called me, I got out of the car and then I knew that’s what it was.

Q: What are you going to tell your grandmother?

A: That I’m home and I don’t have to go anywhere. So I’m happy. I’m home.

Q: What’s her name?

A: Diane Reynolds. She raised me my whole life.

Q: Was she hoping you’d be drafted by the Giants?

A: She wanted me to be but she was being that grandmother. So she was like, ‘Jay, wherever you go I will be happy for you but I’m hoping you go and am praying for you.’


4th Round – LB Zak DeOssie, Brown (6-5, 250lbs, 4.63)

Scouting Report: Son of former Giants’ linebacker Steve DeOssie. Zak combines prototype size with good speed. Long arms. Most likely projects to strongside linebacker but he also might be able to play inside at the pro level. Smart. Reads and reacts to plays well. Pursues well. Runs well for his size, but he is on the stiff side. Can run with tight ends in coverage. Shows good awareness in zone coverage. Aggressive hitter and blitzer, but DeOssie needs to take on and play off blocks more aggressively – needs to shed quicker. Will miss some tackles in the open-field and over-pursue. Somewhat raw given his collegiate level of competition – he needs technique work. Long snapper who should be a special teams standout. Started all 10 games and accrued 110 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, and 1 sack as a senior.

General Manager Jerry Reese on DeOssie: “Zak has the size and he has the speed. It was the same theme as the other guys (the team’s three first-day selections). It was value and it was need for us. We helped ourselves at linebacker, plus he can long snap. We have a long snapper (Ryan Kuehl), but we don’t know how long he’s going to go. He can help us as a long snapper and play on all the core special teams. We like that about him.

“He had an outstanding workout at the Combine. He’s the biggest linebacker we discussed. He is 6-4 and 250 pounds. And he runs fast; his best time at the combine was 4.58. He has size, speed and great character. He’s a team guy, just like other three guys we picked. We think we got a good player here, a productive player.

“The level of competition bothers you some. But there are plenty of guys that come from low-level competition and are good players in the National Football League. You try to evaluate everybody the same. You have to weigh that he plays at Brown and not at Auburn. But you evaluate him the same.”

Reese’s post-draft comments on DeOssie: “I think he has a lot of value. Number one, he is big, he is fast, he is athletic. His gymnastic numbers at the Combine were off the charts. The low level of comp, you have to weigh that. But you evaluate everybody the same. So we weigh in that he played at Brown. So we also weigh in that he is big, he is fast, he plays hard, he has great character, he long snaps. Ryan Kuehl is going to be here for a couple more years, maybe, but after that, this kid could be your long snapper, save you a roster spot. So he had value in a lot of ways. He can actually run down the field and probably make a tackle. And he will play on all special teams…He is always going to play on the core special teams. You want big, fast athletes on your core special teams. The long snap is something (that adds value). At some point in his career the guy is going to battle for a starting spot…We did talk about him in the third (round). But the defensive tackle had more value at that time for us. He was still there in the fourth (round) and we were very pleased that he was still here. I think we got a real value pick right there.”

Media Q&A With Head Coach Tom Coughlin:

Q: On Linebacker Zak DeOssie

A: Zak DeOssie is a guy who has multiple value for us, because he is a long snapper, a special teams performer and a physical linebacker – a big linebacker who runs very well and has tested very, very well. His numbers at the Combine were outstanding. We think in Zak DeOssie we have a very versatile football player.

Q: On DeOssie’s level of competition in college?

A: You do worry about it. But with this young man, because of his bloodlines, you worry less. His dad played in the league for a long time and was a very, very physical football player. He was a long snapper. I know his dad very well. I was on the staff when his dad was here with the Giants and I was on the staff at Boston College when his dad was in college there.

Coughlin’s later post-draft comments: “Zak is a guy that brings multiple versatility to your football team. He is a long snapper much as his dad was. He is a big linebacker who runs extremely well. He has outstanding numbers when you think about the Combine and the things that he was able to accomplish there. He will be an outstanding special teams performer. He will be a physical linebacker much as his dad was. He runs better and will cover. If he ever becomes the long snapper, he will cover and do a good job from that standpoint. We feel like in Zak DeOssie we have a guy who fits a need obviously as a linebacker, a big linebacker, a big physical linebacker. He will also help us on all special teams but has the ability also to contribute as a long snapper…This is a big strong, fast, physical, and healthy football player that has nothing but upside.”

Media Q&A With Player:

Q: Reaction to being picked?

A: I am very excited.

Q: Did you have any idea the Giants were looking at you?

A: I always considered it, especially since I visited last week. I knew I was up there on their list somewhere, but you never know how it goes. Like I said, I’m honored to play for the New York Giants.

Q: Is it special to be drafted by a team your father played for?

A: I broke down right when it happened. My old man was right next to me. Football is a big part of my life, a big part of my family’s life, and I couldn’t see a better fit for myself.

Q: Did your father give you any tips about playing in New York?

A: He said look for a spot in Hoboken, it’s a great place. I am just ecstatic. It still hasn’t hit me. I am just excited to play.

Q: Did you see playing in the NFL as a goal coming from Brown?

A: Not necessarily going into college. I just knew I wanted to play good college ball and get my degree, which was my main concern. Once football started taking off and I started getting bigger, stronger, and faster I entertained the thought a little more. It finally materialized after my senior year and I haven’t looked back. I know the Ivy League stereotype is there. Non-scholarship, small school; it’s all there but you just have to ignore it and keep doing what you can do. That is all I have control over and I am just happy where I am today.

Q: What was your father’s reaction to you being selected by the Giants?

A: It hasn’t hit him either. He is ecstatic. My whole family is just going nuts. We couldn’t be happier.

Q: What does it mean to have seen the NFL game before through your father?

A: Fortunately I was old enough to remember when my father was playing. He retired when I was in the 5th grade. I used to go to the Patriots training camps. As you guys know I was a ball boy for the Pats. I know how these organizations run. I know how the players compose themselves as well as the coaches. I am hoping that I can do the same. Having my father at my side the entire time has been a huge help. It has given me somewhat of an edge and to know what to expect. It has been a good deal for me.

Q: Was long snapping something you worked on to make yourself more marketable?

A: I certainly focused on it my senior year because I knew it was a great asset to have. I never really focused on it until this year. It is just a great asset to have going into the draft. I figured why not and I’m going to run with it. My old man did it and it is just another chance to run down the field and get a tackle as well. I am all about it.

Q: Did you do all the long snapping this past season?

A: Yes I did. I did short and long snapping.

Q: What kind of linebacker do you see yourself as?

A: I think I am going to fit in as an outside SAM. I think my body type, my height, and my weight is a little more suitable for that position but you never know. It is up to the coaches. I will do whatever they ask.

Q: Did your father tell you any stories about the Giants leading up to the draft?

A: No. I have heard quite a few. Some of them might not be suitable for the press. I have heard quite a few. Actually it was a great moment when I walked into the Giants locker room when they were showing me around last week. I immediately called my father and asked him where his locker was. He directed me toward the locker and I was looking inside of it and he asked me over the phone if I could feel the greatness coming out of it. It was a nice little moment for my father and I. I can’t believe I am with New York. Like I said, it is just an honor.

Q: Where was his locker?

A: Right across from LT’s. Actually right in the middle there.

Media Q&A With Zak’s Father, ex-Giant Steve DeOssie:

Q: So you found the kid a job?

A: Go figure, right? I really felt the kid was going to get a job somewhere, it just turned up being one of the best places possible.

Q: Reaction to Zak being picked and how did you hear?

A: We heard it on the TV. The family is all together, the extended family is all together, and some of his buddies from school are here, and we are all sitting around the television. Zak was downstairs in the playroom and I heard him say a little something and then all of a sudden I saw it flashing on the TV and the whole place went wild. We didn’t know who, we were hugging, there was so much excitement around here.

Q: How serious did you take the Patriots and Giants interest?

A: I knew that you had some coaches there that knew Zak very well and knew what kind of kid he is in terms of his work ethic and all that. You look at the two organizations and the two coaches in particular and the work ethic of a player and a young man is very important to both of those organizations. I think when you looked at it and realized the possibilities and thought about where things might fit and how it might drop a lot of people were talking about that 110th pick. The Randy Moss deal came up and you can’t fault the Patriots for making that kind of move. When that happened then the next thought was the Giants. I think Tom Coughlin knowing Zak as well as any head coach other than Belichick was probably part of the equation.

Q: How influential were you in making him learn to long snap?

A: Absolutely none. I never even taught him to long snap. He taught himself. I saw him in high school one year and I looked out on the field and he was long snapping. He has tweaked it very slightly, hardly any at all, and I told him when he wants to get good at it just let me know and I’ll teach him how to really do it. That was just one of those things in high school and in college where the coach said they needed someone to do it and Zak is always at the front of the line when something needs to be done. It was him. It was him deciding he wanted to snap. The only thing his mother and I ever emphasized with him was his need for an education and the benefits of hard work. He took it not only on the football field but in the classroom. You can tell he has a world class education between Phillips-Andover and Brown University. It does not get much better than that. His taking up long snapping was just another indication of him trying to help a team win. That is all he has ever thought about when he plays sports.

Q: Any Giants stories you’ve shared with him?

A: Of course we all tend to edit our young lives to our children, otherwise a lot of us would horrify them to a point where they would wonder what they were doing with such crazy parents. I told him what made some of those Giants teams special and why they were capable of winning a Super Bowl when there were probably two, three, maybe four teams out there that were more talented. The kind of individuals that we had on those teams, guys that would work so hard and that would do everything and anything at all to win a football game. The type of guys that just loved to play and loved to compete. I couldn’t speak for the 1986 team, they were an outstanding team, but that 1990 team was a bunch of guys that just wouldn’t hide and found ways to get the job done. If a slow, fat, short, white linebacker like myself could contribute to that team then you know something is special about it. It is a situation where a group of guys came together and did some special things through sheer effort and desire and all that stuff. In terms of the off-the-field stuff I can still point out a few places where he does not need to go that I pre-scouted for him 20 years ago or 17 or 18 years ago. The names might change but the places don’t really change all that much. He will have a leg up in terms of knowing where not to go.

Q: What similarities/differences does Zak have to you as a player?

A: First off, he is more athletic. When you look at him he is tall, he is lean, he is athletic, he is good looking, and he is smart. As I am saying this, I’m thinking I need a DNA test to justify all that child support payment I’ve had the last years. He is just a different kind of athlete in terms of his athletic ability. By the time I was 14 years old I was already 6’2 ½ ” and 240lbs, so by the time I got to the pros I was very accustomed to my body and had no issues about it. He came out of high school at 6’2″ 205lbs and now he is 6’4½ ” 250lbs. I look at him and he’s like a young colt that is just getting his legs underneath him. Once he understands and gets a feel for being the size that he is and playing at the speed that he does he will be even that much better of a player. For similarities he loves football. Absolutely loves football. He loves learning about football; he loves finding ways to get the job done, loves the violence, loves the action, and loves the challenge. All those things we have in common. In terms of sheer athletic ability, there is very little similarity. He is a thoroughbred and I was a Clydesdale.

Q: Do you think he’ll translate to the NFL as an Ivy League player?

A: A kid can go into the Ivy League and dominate and still be an inch too short, a step too slow and maybe 10 or 15 lbs too light for the NFL. Even if he dominated the Ivy League it really doesn’t matter. You look at that and you look at the Combine and he probably averaged about two and a half inches taller and about 15 to 18 lbs heavier than all the other linebackers at the Combine. That wasn’t something that was a big mark against his game. He will have to step it up, there is no two ways about it. He has done it every chance he’s had. Here is a kid that every coach, every person that has been in touch with him there has been a common theme. Everybody says that he is one of the hardest working young men that they have ever come across. I saw some things that they looked at him going into the draft as an unpolished player which is a surprise considering his father played in the NFL. We emphasized academics, we emphasized family, we emphasized doing things the right way. We did not emphasize trying to get to the NFL, we emphasized his real life. He is the kind of kid where his work ethic is not only beneficial to him but he just loves to play. That is what is going to get him to the next level. His numbers are all fine, his numbers are there. His competitive edge and his willingness to work extremely hard are the things that will get him to be a successful NFL player.


5th Round – TE Kevin Boss, Western Oregon University (6-6, 252lbs, 4.78)

Scouting Report: Raw, but athletic talent. Boss played at the Division II-level. Played collegiate basketball as well. Combines excellent height and growth potential with athletic ability. Tested very well at NFL Combine. Better receiver than blocker. Will need time to learn how to read NFL defenses. Needs to improve routes. Adjusts well to the football and has good hands. More of a position-blocker than mauler – needs to improve his technique (leverage) as a blocker. Needs to become a more physical and stronger player. Smart and a hard worker. Missed time his senior season with a shoulder injury. Started the six games he did play in and finished the season with 33 catches for 403 yards and 5 touchdowns.

General Manager Jerry Reese on Boss: “Kevin Boss is a gigantic tight end who runs well. He played at a low level of comp, but he dominated his level of competition. He’s more of a receiver right now than a blocker. He can catch it, he can run with it after he catches the ball. We think Kevin can come in and develop as a number two tight end for us. He’ll start out as a three and develop into a solid number two tight end for us.

“As a receiver, you either have natural ability or you don’t. I think it’s harder to develop your receiving skills than your blocking skills. The blocking skills come when you get stronger and you get pro coaching and the technique is better for you. It’s much easier to develop a blocker than a receiver.

“We wanted to get a tight end out of the draft and where we had him ranked, he was in a nice spot on the board. It goes back to the theme with the players we’re picking. It was a value pick and it was a need pick. It was a character pick and a team player pick. That’s our theme.”

Reese’s later post-draft comments on Boss: “He is a pass catcher right now more than he is a blocker. But I think he can develop as a blocker. He just has to get stronger, get in the weight room. He can develop. I think you can develop much easier as a blocker than you can a pass catcher. You can catch or you can’t, pretty much. It’s hard to develop guys that aren’t pass catchers. You can get stronger and develop.”

Head Coach Tom Coughlin on Boss: “Kevin Boss is a young man who did play at a lower level of comp, but he is an extremely talented tight end. He was used in multiple-alignment positions. He showed his ability to catch the ball and run after the catch. He will need some work on his blocking. But he is a physically gifted kid. And we think with some strength development he’ll be a good blocker for us. He does have the size and strength to be able to do that, and there will be further strength development. What we’re counting on there is the natural ability. We definitely wanted to come out of this draft with another tight end. We embrace numbers at that spot because of the multiplicity of the position and what you utilize him for. Some of that is also as the fullback coming out of the backfield, as well.”

Coughlin’s later post-draft comments on Boss: “Kevin Boss is a kid that comes from Division II football that was extremely impressive as we studied the tape. We brought him in about a week ago and had an opportunity to sit and talk with him. Mike Pope did some real serious studying with regard to Kevin Boss. He is an athletic guy that is used in multiple capacities as a receiver, as a tight end, and as a blocker at Western Oregon. He is going to have to get stronger and become a better blocker. He does have some developmental aspects to him but I think this is a guy that will help us on special teams. He is a big kid. He is going to fill out. He is going to be able to play on the point, we know he can move, and we know he can catch the ball. He can be a strong contributor in a lot of ways.”


6th Round – LT Adam Koets, Oregon State University (6-5, 298lbs, 5.09)

Scouting Report: Experienced player with 37 starts at left tackle in college. Better pass blocker than run blocker. A finesse player. Athletic player with quick feet. Natural knee bender. Plays with good balance, leverage, and technique. Can handle outside speed and stunts. Needs to get bigger and stronger – can be bull rushed. Not a mauler and does not get much movement at the point-of-attack. Position blocker. Can get out and block at the second level. Good puller. Struggled at the Hula Bowl. Smart. One scouting report questioned his desire and toughness.

General Manager Jerry Reese on Koets: “Koets, obviously he has some strength issues. We think he is a really good athlete; a big kid. Everything with him is going to be strength related right now. But we do feel like he can get stronger and contribute at some point.”

Media Q&A With Head Coach Tom Coughlin:

Q: On Tackle Adam Koets?

A: Adam Koets is a very interesting guy in that he played left tackle at a very high level at Oregon State. He is a guy who is athletic, who has done a good job in pass protection. We think he’s a guy that has great upside and has it all in front of him. He’s very smart. You want to put a little strength into his game and teach him to be a run blocker as well as a pass protector. So there is some developmental in this player, but I think it can be accomplished.

Q: On whether Koets is strictly a left tackle or will get a look at other positions?

A: It depends on how he fits after we get him here. But we think he can pull well. Right now the position that we’d really like to try him at is left tackle.

Coughlin’s later post-draft comments on Koets: “Adam Koets is an individual who played at Oregon State that has been a left tackle and is an athletic guy. He is very quick and a good pass protector. I think he will have to do some work in the weight room as well to help in the run game but he is a guy that we were very happy to see last if you will until we had a chance to talk about him and eventually pick him in the sixth round.”


7th Round – S Michael Johnson, University of Arizona (6-3, 205lbs, 4.66)

Scouting Report: Johnson combines nice size and athletic ability. Long arms and a good leaper. Better against the pass than the run. Plays faster than he times, has good range, and plays the deep ball well. Demonstrates good zone coverage awareness. Can cover receivers out of the slot. Flashes in run defense, but he must become a more consistently physical and aggressive run defender. Needs to improve his tackling. Not a hitter. Hard worker. Not overly instinctive as his production is not what it should have been. Lacks consistency. Started 10 games as a senior, missing the last two with a hamstring injury. Finished the season with 47 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception, and 4 pass defenses.

General Manager Jerry Reese on Johnson: “Michael Johnson is a big safety and has played a lot out there in the PAC 10. He has a lot of range. He worked out pretty good at the Combine. He is a seventh-round pick. But again, when you get down in the seventh round you start, ‘What can the guy do; what does he have?’ He is big, he has speed, you have to concentrate on what the people can do when you get down that far.”

Head Coach Tom Coughlin on Johnson: “Michael Johnson is a big, strong safety who will come down to the line of scrimmage. He does have range from the middle of the field and who will contribute in a special teams capacity as well. He was very attractive. We were able to match a need, if you will, with a strong value in the seventh round there and so we picked Michael Johnson.”


7th Round – HB Ahmad Bradshaw, Marshall University (5-9, 198lbs, 4.66)

Scouting Report: Junior entry. Off-the-field risk. Originally enrolled at the University of Virginia, but left the school before classes started after being caught drinking underage and running away from the cops. Walked on at Marshall. Was arrested in January 2006 on charges of burglary and petit larceny after robbing a dorm room. Started all 12 games in 2006 and finished with 1,523 yards on 249 carries (6.1 yards-per-rush) and 19 touchdowns. Also caught 17 passes for 129 yards and 2 touchdowns. Super-productive against questionable competition. Bradshaw lacks ideal size and speed. Short, but stocky. Smooth, instinctive, deceptive runner with good balance. Follows his blocks well. More quick than fast – however not overly elusive. Bradshaw doesn’t run with a lot of power, but he will break arm tackles. Has a burst. Doesn’t create much on his own – is not explosive. Catches the ball well. Needs to improve his blocking in pass protection. Has character concerns.

General Manager Jerry Reese on Bradshaw: “The last guy we picked (the compensatory pick) he has some (character concerns) on him. But he is going to be on a short leash. We are not going to have guys come in here and disrupt things. All of the background stuff we did on him we think he is a good kid. He needs a little bit of structure. But he was worth taking a shot on. He is very productive, change of pace; he can catch the ball out of the backfield. So we will give him a shot.”

Head Coach Tom Coughlin on Bradshaw: “Ahmad Bradshaw is a very, very productive running back at Marshall University who caught the ball coming out of the backfield, who ran the ball. He didn’t really return kicks because quite frankly he was a guy that was very busy with the other aspects of his game in terms of being a contributor in both the run and the pass aspect of the game. Again we felt that at this point in time here is a guy who was a style of runner that we perhaps do not have and his production really was like a magnet. We were attracted to that in the seventh round with the compensatory pick. We were happy that a player of his value was still there on the board.”


Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports

WR Brandon Myles, West Virginia University (6-1, 183lbs, 4.45): Myles is a thin receiver with decent height and good speed. He can stretch the field vertically. Has long arms. Smooth, quick, and agile. Needs to get stronger – he struggles with press coverage. Myles is not overly aggressive or physical. He has good hands. Played well at the Senior Bowl. Myles was underutilized at West Virginia given the ground-based nature of their offense. Raw – he will need a lot of work on technique, reading defenses and running routes. Was ruled academically ineligible in 2002, but he did graduate. In 2006, in 13 games, Myles caught 36 passes for 522 yards (14.5 yards per catch) and 8 touchdowns. (Waived 5/15/2007)

WR Brandon London, University of Massachusetts (6-4, 214lbs, 4.55): London was an All-Atlantic 10 performer in 2006 as he led UMass in in receiving with 50 catches for 781 yards (15.6 yards per catch) and 9 touchdowns. London has a lot to learn as he comes from a small-school program, but he has a very nice combination of size and speed. Has good hands. NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock said the following before the draft: “(London) doesn’t have the same explosion as (Saints’ rookie star Marques) Colston, he probably won’t even get drafted, which Colston almost didn’t, but he has a similar body type to Colston. Not as explosive, but good hands.”

WR Marco Thomas, Western Illinois University (5-11, 171lbs, 4.38): Thomas lacks size, but he is a smart, tough, feisty receiver. Smooth, quick, and fluid. Thomas ran under 4.4 at his pro day, but he does not play that fast. Not explosive. Thomas runs good routes. Has a feel for getting open and has good hands. In 2006, Thomas caught 58 passes for 738 yards (12.7 yards per catch) and 4 touchdowns. In 2005, he caught 43 passes for 794 yards (18.5 yards per catch) and 5 touchdowns. After the draft, Thomas also received contract offers from the Eagles, Bears, Steelers, Jets, and Lions.

TE Michael Matthews, Georgia Tech University (6-4, 270lbs, 4.78): Matthews split tight end duties at Georgia Tech for in 2005 and 2006. Matthews was used primarily as a blocker. He also has played some fullback. He finished his collegiate career with only nine catches.

TE/LT Rob Austin, Troy State University (6-5, 290lbs, 4.93): Austin has experience at both tight end and on the offensive line. The Giants have told him that they want to try him at tight end, his original position at Troy. He also played left tackle in college. Austin is a good athlete with superb size for a tight end. He has long arms. Quick feet. Did not allow a sack as a tackle as senior. Raw for either position, Austin will need a lot of technique work and reps. He only had 10 catches as a tight end in college. He will probably have to drop his playing weight back down to 270lbs for the Giants if he is going to play tight end. Smart. Austin has an upside. (Waived 5/24/2007)

TE Rodney Burgess, Coastal Carolina University (6-4, 245lbs, 4.70): Burgess was originally pursued by the Lions, Vikings, and Redskins after the draft. He signed with the Lions, but was waived in mid-May. The Giants signed him nine days later. At Coastal Carolina, Burgess was shifted from wide receiver to tight end before his junior season. In 2005, he finished the season with 11 catches for 147 yards; in 2006, Burgess caught 18 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns. Burgess lacks classic size for a tight end and most likely projects to an H-Back, receiving-type tight end at the pro level. He’s an athletic player with good speed, but his small-school background hinders his chances. Burgess will need a lot of coaching and technique work.

LT/LG Chris Patrick, University of Nebraska (6-5, 298lbs, 5.28): Patrick is a converted defensive end who was moved to left tackle at the University of Nebraska in 2004. Started two games at left tackle in 2005 and 12 games at the position in 2006. Relatively inexperienced with only 14 career starts. Patrick decided to skip his senior season due to family issues (not academics) and enter the NFL Supplemental Draft in July 2007, but he was not selected. Smart and a good athlete. Patrick only surrendered two sacks his junior season. Some think he projects best to guard at the NFL level due to his short arms and lack of lateral quickness.

OT/TE Gabe Hall, Texas Tech University (6-4, 313lbs, 4.94): Hall actually came to Texas Tech as a receiver, then shifted to tight end, then the offensive line. The Giants have told him that they may shift him back to tight end. Raw – he is still learning to play on the offensive line or tight end. Hall started all 13 games at right tackle in 2006, but he could also project to guard or center. A finesse player as a lineman – not a mauler. Hall is a very good athlete with very quick feet. Has long arms. However, he played for a pass-happy school that did not run the ball much. He doesn’t create much movement at the point-of-attack as a lineman. Hall plays too tall and he isn’t very physical, tough, or aggressive. He has the athletic ability to position block and engage defenders well at the second level. Hall has the quickness, agility, and long arms to be a good pass blocker. He received contract offers from the Cowboys, Saints, 49ers, Colts, and Buccaneers. (Waived 6/19/2007)

OT Justin Jones, University of Central Arkansas (6-6, 292lbs, 5.4): Jones combines good size and growth potential with fine athletic ability. He needs to get bigger and stronger. Raw – Jones needs a lot of technique work. Smart and mature. He was an All-Gulf South Conference first-team selection in 2005.

RT Joel Clinger, University of Missouri (6-6, 315lbs): Clinger has good size, but is not much of an athlete. Blue-collar, hard-nosed player. Plays hard. Strong run blocker at the point-of-attack who plays with an attitude. Can position block as well. Tends to play tall however and isn’t very agile. Can get exposed in pass protection and isn’t much of a puller. Might project to guard. (Failed physical, nullifying contract.)

OG Ryan Keenan, Northwestern University (6-4, 295lbs, 5.14): Former defensive lineman who moved to the offensive side of the ball. Keenan played right guard in 2005 and right tackle in 2006. He projects to guard at the pro level. Improving player who is still learning the position. Keenan is a good athlete with good feet. Smart, hardworking, and competitive. He needs to get bigger and stronger. Keenan plays with natural knee bend and leverage. Physical, tough, and aggressive. He has good quickness that allows him to get into an opponent quickly. He works to sustain and finish blocks. Keenan is a solid pass protector who stays balanced with good knee bend and agility.

OG Matt Maddox, University of Illinois (6-3, 310lbs, 5.40): Maddox is an experienced college player who started 44 games at the Illinois, splitting time between guard and center. In 2005, he was named his team’s outstanding offensive lineman. (Waived 7/18/2007)

DE Marquies Gunn, Auburn University (6-4, 260lbs, 4.83): Well-built and athletic player. Somewhat of a DE/LB ‘tweener. Has good speed and quickness. Tough, aggressive, and he plays hard. Not overly instinctive. Better pass rusher than run defender. Can get mauled at the point-of-attack. Needs to play with better leverage and shed quicker. Not an explosive outside rusher, but he can beat tackles with his quickness.

DE Charrod Taylor, Georgia Southern University (6-2, 248lbs): A two-time All-Southern Conference pick, Taylor was his team’s second leading tackler in 2006 with 48 tackles. He also recorded 6.5 tackles for a loss, 2.0 sacks, and four quarterback hurries. Taylor also received offers from the Vikings and Saints.

DE/DT Dek Bake, Texas Tech University (6-5, 272lbs): Bake transferred to Texas Tech in 2004 after playing at Fresno City Junior College. After sitting out his junior season with a knee injury in 2005, Bake played in all 13 games in 2006 and finished the year with 47 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss, and 5.5 sacks. Bake played defensive tackle at Texas Tech, but could project outside at defensive end. Bake is a tough player who plays hard.

LB Jason Mitchell, University of Tennessee (6-1, 227lbs, 4.55): As a junior in 2004, Mitchell started 13 games (two outside and 11 inside) and accrued 57 tackles and two sacks. However, in 2005, Mitchell’s production fell to 31 tackles and a sack as Mitchell played with a torn ACL and MCL that he suffered in his left knee in the first game of the season. Mitchell had surgery on the knee in November 2005, ending his collegiate career. Because of the injury, Mitchell was not drafted or signed by a pro team in 2006. Tennessee Defensive Coordinator/Linebacker Coach John Chavis said Mitchell was the most talented linebacker he has coached in 26 years. At Tennessee’s Pro Day in March 2007, Mitchell weighed in at 240 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds. (Waived 6/19/2007)

CB Darren Barnett, Missouri State University (6-0, 181lbs, 4.37): Barnett lacks ideal size, but he is a very good athlete. Confident – he feels he can compete with the best. He tested extremely well at Missouri State’s pro day workouts. Barnett has huge character concerns. He has not played football since 2004. After playing well for Michigan State as a sophomore in 2003, he was kicked off the team for testing positive for drugs. He transferred to Missouri State in 2004 and earned first-team All-Gateway honors after tying for the conference lead with 7 interceptions. Barnett was ruled academically ineligible in 2005. His college career was over. He did not play football in 2005 and 2006. (Waived 6/19/2007)

CB/S Travonti Johnson, University of Central Florida (6-2, 192lbs, 4.59): Johnson has collegiate experience at cornerback, safety, and nickelback. He has a nice combination of size and speed. Johnson has had some off-the-field issues. He was suspended for five games in 2006 for violating team rules. In the six games that he did play, he accrued 24 tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, 0.5 sacks, 1 interception, 1 pass defense, and 1 forced fumble.

S Craig Dahl, North Dakota State University (6-2, 216lbs, 4.59): Three-year starter. Dahl has prototypical size for the position. He is instinctive, competitive, confident, dedicated, and smart. Tough. Better against the run than the pass. Dahl was more of an in-the-box safety in college but flashes good pass-defense skills. Has good quickness and a burst for his size. Lacks ideal speed. Physical and aggressive run defender. Should be a very good special teams player.


Eric’s Take on the 2007 Draft

Let’s get this out of the way up front – there isn’t a man or woman alive on this planet who can accurately predict how the Giants fared in the 2007 NFL Draft. That will be determined on the playing field and we probably won’t really have a good idea how the Giants actually did until 10 years have passed. What we are all doing right now – especially fans like myself – are talking out of our asses. Even the so-called “experts” at ESPN and The NFL Network can’t agree on how the Giants did. The former thinks the Giants did poorly; the latter thinks the Giants did well. The personnel departments of NFL teams would also probably have much varied opinions.

You can look back on my old draft reviews and see where I was dead wrong about some picks and right on about others. I thought Tyrone Wheatley was a good pick and Charles Way was not. What I have learned over the years – as I approach 40 – is that it is unwise to get too positive or too negative about the picks right after the draft. The truth is we simply don’t know. The guy who was supposed to be a sure-thing (i.e., Derek Brown) flops while a guy who many criticized (i.e., Osi Umenyiora) becomes a Pro Bowler.

But talking about the draft is fun. Many of us enjoy the speculation and analysis leading up to Draft Day, watching the draft unfold on Draft Weekend, and then critiquing how each team fared, especially the Giants. So here are my thoughts on how I think the Giants did.

Overall, I think the Giants had a solid draft. My general impression is that they really did not reach with their picks and took guys either around the area they were “supposed” to have been picked or were “supposed” to have been picked earlier. The one possible exception to that is DT Jay Alford who many did not have going that high.

Those who read my posts in the months and weeks before the draft knew that I saw the Giants’ most pressing needs – in no particular order – in the back seven on defense (cornerback, safety, and linebacker) and wide receiver. I also had lesser – but important – concerns at defensive tackle and tight end. I wasn’t as worried about the offensive line as many, partially because I wasn’t thrilled with the crop of left tackles in this draft, especially after Joe Thomas and Levi Brown. I also would have liked to have nabbed a more physical fullback; that’s why I was bothered when the Texans matched our offer to Vonta Leach earlier in the offseason.

With those needs in mind, you can see that I think the Giants addressed the areas that concerned me the most. What I find very interesting is this – last year, probably more so than ever since 1984 when the Giants drafted Carl Banks, the Giants drafted a player based purely on VALUE. Mathias Kiwanuka in no way, shape, or form was a NEED selection. And it has been reported that it was General Manager Jerry Reese, who was then the director of player personnel under Ernie Accorsi, who pushed for Kiwanuka. This year, after listening to Reese and Head Coach Tom Coughlin talk after the draft, it seems clear that the Giants saw cornerback as their most pressing NEED and that they were hell bent on drafting a cornerback in the first round. They definitely had their sight set on Darrelle Revis, Leon Hall, or Aaron Ross. And the Giants freely admit that Ross was their third preference. So in two separate drafts, Reese appears to have taken exact opposite approaches.

Now, that said, Reese and Coughlin have argued that Ross was a NEED and a VALUE pick. I do think that is at least partially correct. Regardless of whether you liked the selection or not, Ross was supposed to be picked in this area of the first round. In addition, Pat Kirwan, an analyst with The NFL Network and a former assistant personnel director with the Jets, said that Ross was the third cornerback on every team’s draft board and that quite a few teams behind the Giants were not happy when the G-Men made the selection. Not that my opinion matters, but back in early April, I posted the following in The Corner Forum:

I’m not impressed with (the corners in the draft). In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked if we don’t draft a corner on day one. Too many of the top prospects are cover-2 zone corners and I assume Spags’ defense will not be a cover-2 zone system. If it is, that changes everything, but Philly didn’t operate that style of defense. And it doesn’t fit Madison, McQuarters, Webster, and some of our other corners already on the roster. Too much love for Chris Houston – there is a significant boom-or-bust factor with him. The guy who is not getting enough attention on BBI is Aaron Ross. If we draft a corner early, it could be him.

Just a few days later, I posted this:

There has been a lot of talk about the various team needs the Giants have – LB, DT, CB, S, WR, TE, OT, etc. But I wonder if we – including myself – are missing the big picture?

Let’s keep things simple. Where are most of the talent issues on this team – offense or defense? I suspect most of us believe the defense is the problem. It has given up too many big third downs, too many big drives, not holding leads, not providing the offense with a short field, etc.

On defense, where are the long-term issues? The defensive line appears mostly set except for adding another defensive tackle. The Giants have one Pro Bowl-caliber linebacker in Antonio Pierce and a few guys who may or may not be players (Wilkinson, Blackburn, Torbor). Assuming we stay in the 4-3 (which I personally see as a given due to the types of defensive linemen we have), how important is the linebacking position? In the nickel, which teams play just as much as the base defense, only two linebackers are on the field. So I would argue that if we were going to spend a premium pick at linebacker, it would have to be a 4-3-type weakside linebacker who plays all three downs. That said, 4-3 weakside linebackers are usually smaller, faster guys who you find after the first round. You usually don’t have to spend a premium pick on this position unless the guy is really something special.

Colin of the Great Blue North Draft Report effectively argues that the long-term position of need on this team is the secondary. With Madison and McQuarters not being long-term solutions, he says now is the ideal time to draft heavy and hard at defensive back, and cornerback in particular. As has been posted already, his latest mock has us taking two corners early. And in his recent newsletter, he said safety fits into this equation as well. I think some of us would like to think that guys like Webster, Underwood, Dockery, Cobbs, and McPhearson might turn out to be good players, but we simply don’t know if they will and the Giants probably don’t either.

The point of all of this? Isn’t our biggest need really what many of us talked about before last season even ended and that is cornerback?

I’m not trying to toot my own horn here (well, maybe a little), but I think this was the thought-process at work at Jints Central. Right or wrong, they wanted to address the back seven and they saw cornerback as the hardest and most important hole to fill. As I wrote in early April, Ross makes a lot of sense. In fact, I honestly think he may be the best fit for the Giants even though he was their third choice. Revis and Hall to me seem ideally suited to the cover-2 scheme. And I think both players are not as fast as they timed at the Combine. I think Ross and Houston are better suited to the press coverage that Steve Spagnuolo will likely employ.

Ross is a big, fast, improving player. He makes plays on the football (something the Giants’ sorely lack in the secondary) and he is a confident, personable character who should add to team chemistry. And – as has been talked about – he is a dangerous punt returner. I have no problem with the pick. What will be interesting, however, is to compare his career to four other guys who the Giants were probably considering – LB Jon Beason, FS Reggie Nelson, FS Brandon Merriweather, and possibly Houston. Before the pick was announced, I thought it would be one of those guys or Ross. And as BBI‘ers know, I have long had a thing for big, run-stuffing, two-gap defensive tackles. If he is healthy, it will be interesting to see how DT Alan Branch fares out in Arizona with another Michigan defensive tackle who I was high on a year ago – Gabriel Watson. I have a subjective bias in favor of big, two-gap tackles such as the Ravens employed in 2000 and the Jaguars do now.

What kind of impact can Ross have on the team in the short-term? I think he has a shot to start. Much depends on where they line him up. In college, he seemed to play mostly left corner his senior year. I believe Corey Webster played mostly right corner his final year in school. Personally, I would seriously consider moving Webster over to right corner to compete with Sam Madison for the starting job there and then have Ross compete with McQuarters for the left cornerback job.

Before I move off of the first-round pick, two last thoughts. I am glad the Giants did not trade up. As I said, I think Ross may turn out to be the better corner for the Giants and I would have hated to have lost a high pick for one of the other corners (of course, if Revis or Hall go on to be All-Pro and Ross does not, I’ll be eating my words). Secondly, I don’t think we’ll ever honestly know if Cleveland offered the Giants’ the trade package that gave Dallas. If they did, and the Giants refused to trade down and take Cleveland’s 2008 #1 pick, then that was a huge mistake. Even if Cleveland improves in 2007, they are in a murderous division and are not likely to break the .500 mark. Reese said the Giants were “nickel and dimed” by other teams with offers, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

It’s hard for anyone to really argue against the second-round selection of WR Steve Smith. Again, this was about the area where Smith was supposed to be drafted, if not earlier. Smith reminds me of a bigger and slightly faster version of Ike Hilliard. And as much as many Giants’ fan loved Hilliard, it was a big mistake for the Giants to make him the seventh player selected in the 1997 Draft. Hilliard wasn’t an impact player because he wasn’t a game-breaker. He was a very solid #2 receiver. And the Giants passed on Tony Gonzalez. Smith will likely be a very solid #2 receiver in the NFL. And drafting that type of guy in the second round is perfectly acceptable. Smith should eventually replace Amani Toomer as the go-to receiver for Eli Manning in clutch situations where the team needs a big first down. In the short-term, assuming Amani Toomer gets healthy, there is going to be a hell of a competition between Smith and Sinorice Moss for playing time. What will be interesting to see is how field fast Smith is at the NFL level. In college, the Trojans used him primarily as an underneath, over-the-middle receiver. Like Hilliard, he is very tough for his size and fearless over the middle. But his 40-time suggests that he might have a bit more down-field potential than some think. We’ll see. Regardless, a very solid selection. The other guys who might have been an option here include CB Eric Wright (yes, another corner), WR Jason Hill, or LB Quincy Black.

I think the Jay Alford selection in the third-round is very enlightening. I think it tells us that the Giants under Steve Spagnuolo want more one-gap, penetrating-type tackles than the big, two-gap guys that I like. The former is what the Eagles employ so it makes sense that Spagnuolo would follow that model. The pro to this is that the Giants have added a guy who can disrupt and penetrate. Alford can rush the passer and this will only help the overall pass defense. People forget that pass coverage and pass rush go hand-in-hand in terms of the overall pass defense. And it was the Giants’ pass defense that was the big problem the last few years. If Alford can come on the field in obvious pass-rush situations and exert any form of consistent inside pressure, that will open up not only the outside rush (Strahan, Umenyiora, Tuck, Kiwanuka) but also various blitz packages. Alford and Robbins inside is a pretty good pass-rush combo. The con is that Alford is a bulked up 285lb defensive tackle. At 285lbs, he will get crushed against the double-team run block in the NFL. Can he carry the extra weight (305lbs) and not lose the quickness that is his game? Let’s keep in mind that the Giants don’t have a great history of picking players in the third round – Marcus Buckley, Gary Downs, Rodney Young, Ryan Phillips, Brian Alford, Ron Dixon, Jeff Hatch, and Visanthe Shiancoe immediately come to mind. What I do love about this pick is that this kid wants to be a Giant. That means something to me as a fan. Don’t look for him to start anytime soon. But he should become a very important player in the Giants’ three-tackle rotation. The Giants needed to add someone to push William Joseph or push him off the team. With the additions of Alford and unrestricted free agent Marcus Bell (a two-gap run defender), the Giants have done that. The guy who I hated to see us pass on here was LB Stewart Bradley, who ended up with the Eagles. But we got our strongside linebacker with our next pick.

How long has it been since the Giants last won a Super Bowl? Well, now we can say honestly that it has been a generation. What are the odds that Zak DeOssie would wind up on the team that his dad won a Super Bowl with? How can you not root for this kid after reading the transcript to his post-draft media conference call? Or that of his father’s? Zak will likely be a starting linebacker on the Giants in 2-3 years. He will be a core special teams player. He’s the kind of guy who will probably have a 10-year career. He reminds me of the kind of linebackers that the Patriots have on their roster. To get him in the middle of the fourth round looks like a coup.

5th-rounder Kevin Boss is the type of player Ernie Accorsi would draft in the 3rd round – a small-school, athletic player with a big upside as well as a big downside (see Visanthe Shiancoe). This kind of selection makes more sense in the 5th round than it does in the 3rd round. What Boss is not is a mauling, run-blocking tight end in the mold of Howard Cross and Dan Campbell. He may (or may not) develop as a run blocker, but he will need a lot of strength training and technique work in that area. I am not sure he’ll see the field much as a blocker at first – he will probably see more time as an occasional receiving-type tight end and special teams player. Boss is a very good athlete and was a play-maker at a lower level of competition. We’ll have to see if he can make the jump to the pro level.

It’s hard to really dissect or complain about 6th or 7th rounders. You just have to have faith that the Giants’ scouting staff has done their homework here and that one or two of these guys surprise. All three – LT Adam Koets, S Michael Johnson, and HB Ahmad Bradshaw – were supposed to go higher than they were drafted. So the Giants didn’t reach. Simply put, Koets has to get bigger, stronger, and more physical. He will be a project. We’ll have to see if the Giants can stash him someplace in order for him to develop (keep in mind that Practice Squad players are not protected). Johnson flashes as a player and was hurt as a senior. He could surprise, but he has to become more physical and play the run better. Bradshaw has some character issues. But he’s been referred to as a poor man’s Tiki Barber. He certainly can catch the football and he looks more elusive on highlight tapes than the scouting reports suggest. He has a real shot at making the squad.

In summary, I think the Giants got three future starters or starting-caliber players out of this draft in Ross, Smith, and DeOssie. I’m not sure Alford has the potential to be a full-time 3-technique tackle in a couple of years, but if he does, he’ll push Robbins. There are examples of undersized tackles like him being successful in the NFL. The Giants have to be careful not to have him bulk up too much and then have him lose his quickness. Boss has a real upside and fills the spot created by Shiancoe’s departure, but the Giants may still lack that blocking tight end unless Darcy Johnson or someone else comes on. The last three picks were good value picks. Overall, I think this was a solid effort.

Jun 062006
 
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New York Giants 2006 NFL Draft Review

Draft Pick Scouting Reports
Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports
Eric’s Take on the 2006 Draft

Round Pick in Round Overall Selection Player Selected
1 32 32 DE Mathias Kiwanuka, Boston College
2 12 44 WR Sinorice Moss, University of Miami
3 32 96 LB Gerris Wilkinson, Georgia Tech
4 27 124 DT Barry Cofield, Northwestern University
4 32 129 OT Guy Whimper, East Carolina University
5 26 158 S/CB Charlie Peprah, University of Alabama
7 24 232 CB Gerrick McPhearson, University of Maryland

2006 Draft Pick Scouting Reports

1st Round – DE Mathias Kiwanuka, Boston College (6-6, 265lbs, 4.71)

Scouting Report: Kiwanuka was an odd selection given the Giants’ quality and depth at defensive end, but the Giants clearly must have felt he was too good to pass up. In 2003, he accrued 83 tackles, 16 tackles for a loss, and 11.5 sacks. Kiwanuka was named “Big East Defensive Player of the Year” in 2004 when he totaled 67 tackles, 25.5 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks, and two interceptions. An sprained ankle and knee limited him in 2005, but he still finished the year season with 51 tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss, and 9.5 sacks. Kiwanuka has excellent size for a defensive end and has long arms. He is very athletic – fast, agile, and quick. Better pass rusher than run defender. Kiwanuka needs to play with better leverage at the point-of-attack on running plays. Kiwanuka has Pro Bowl-potential, but he needs to become a more aggressive and intense player. Needs to get stronger. Very good intangibles – smart and a solid character.

Media Q&A With General Manager Ernie Accorsi:

Accorsi: We selected Mathias Kiwanuka, a defensive end from Boston College. I’ll just say this, it is my philosophy and is shared by the people in our organization, you never, never have enough pass rushers. And he is a pass rusher. Obviously every team in the league says this, but we no had inkling that he would be down there. When we traded down we felt pretty confident that we had three or four names that we would have been happy with. And he was at the top of our list at all times. He was the highest rated player in that whole group. You can talk to Tom when he comes down on how he is going to be used, but suffice it to say that we wouldn’t have picked him if we didn’t feel he was going to be on the field. And I know that he is at a position where we have two Pro Bowlers, but there are different ways to use pass rushers. As I said before, you never have enough pass rushers. And like home run hitters and pitchers, you just never have enough of them, because we have other needs, too. But when you put pressure on the passer, everybody else’s job is easier.

Q: What did you see on tape?

A: He is just a big, fast pass rusher. That is what he is. He will probably get bigger weight-wise. There are games he just dominates. You can turn the tape on and see him against certain teams. Or he just burns the edge. He can run around the corner. He has great speed. And they are just hard to find.

Q: Trading down from 25 to 32 with Pittsburgh and picking up a third and fourth?

A: We thought, to get two extra picks – we had several offers because, obviously, there were some teams – and you saw one that traded with Chicago right behind us, that were obviously trying to get up there for players and you can see obviously who they were – running backs and receivers. But we felt – and we talked to some teams that were three or four spots below – this was seven and there was a risk to it, but we had five players that we felt if we had to survive two – and if those five would have been gone we did have two other players that we would have been pleased with and to get two extra picks we thought it was worth it. We ended up, like I said, I don’t blow smoke around here – this was the top rated player. We lost a couple of those five in that wait. But we didn’t lose our top rated player.

Q: Value vs. need?

A: He was picked when we were picking. We were not going to pick just a need pick – we were going to pick the best. And I have said this before, if it was close, we would have gone with need; but it wasn’t close on the grade.

Q: More on Kiwanuka’s ability?

A: He is an outside player, he is a pass rusher. And I learned years and years ago that number one is pass rusher for a defensive end. But he is a big guy and he came back from a pretty critical injury which you are all aware of – when a player was suspended. He came back and played his best games at the end of the year. So he is tough; I’m not worried about his toughness. We just think that he has an upside. He is big and tall and fast. And we can put out there now in different combinations our two great ends, Arrington and him as far as pass rush. That is a lot of pass rushing going on. And that is a scary thought, I would think, to try to block.

Q: Deployment of pass rushers?

A: I’m not trying to coach the team, believe me. But it is possible. You all know now, it has all changed. The defensive lines are rotated all of the time. He is going to play. Tuck played a lot. We picked him in the third round. And that is another pass rusher we have. Quarterback, pass rusher, left tackle and corner – those to me are the foundations of your team. But pass rusher comes second.

Q: Did Mathias’ stock drop?

A: I heard that after the Senior Bowl. Obviously people might have had him rated higher earlier, so he dropped, or we wouldn’t have gotten him. But we studied him pretty thoroughly. If he wouldn’t have dropped, we wouldn’t have gotten him, obviously.

Q: There were a lot of intriguing names available at 25. Were you tempted to just take a pick at 25?

A: Oh yeah, we were tempted. We weren’t as worried if we would have gone down two, three or four spots. We were worried at seven. This was still the player that we were going to pick. There are other linebackers, receivers and corners and we have a lot more picks. But this was the highest rated player, by far. And we made the trade. We thought we could lose him, certainly but we were pleased with what was left, the same type of players you are referring to, in case we started to lose some players.

Q: Players you were interested in when you made the trade?

A: Yeah, we had seven that we could have lived with, five that we would have been happy with. And it ended up when we picked, three of the five were there – of the original five.

Q: Three different positions?

A: Yeah.

Q: You had three different names…

A: I don’t want to get into that. Just look who is picked. You can figure it out. We weren’t going to pick a running back.

Q: Initial impressions of Kiwanuka?

A: Character is very important. You need character not only as a good citizen but as a competitor. I was in the interview in Indianapolis. I have watched him. I see Boston College play every year. So I have watched him since he was, maybe a freshman; I know for sure as a sophomore. I will say this. When you sit in his interview – I equate it to Hali of Penn State. They were both that way. You could hear a pin drop in our room. His story is unbelievable. And his response to it and the way he tells it. He is just an extraordinary person; there is no question about that. He had 37 ½ sacks. He has been productive. He had, as we said yesterday, he had to overcome quite an experience this year. It resulted in an offensive lineman being suspended. He came back, and I thought, had his two best games after he came back. But he is a special kid. We really drafted a lot of character so far in this draft.

Q: Timing of your first-round trade? Was that something that just came up when you guys got on the clock or something that you had set up earlier in the draft?

A: We hadn’t set it up earlier in the draft. There were three teams that were trying to get up there. We were talking to one team that was just a few notches below, but they wouldn’t give us what Pittsburgh was offering. And I gave them one last chance because obviously, we would rather go down a couple spots than go down seven. But, no, it was right down to the last second. We weren’t on the clock yet but it was getting close. Obviously what happened, there were teams going up there. We thought they were all going up there for running backs. As it turned out, Pittsburgh wasn’t. They were going up there for a receiver. But we knew there would be some interest for running backs. We kept hearing all along that Maroney was going to go to New England. If Maroney would have slipped, I think there would have been more action for our pick. Although the counter argument to that is that took one away. But I thought that is what the action was for, but they just wouldn’t give us the third that we wanted.

Media Q&A With Head Coach Tom Coughlin:

Coughlin: We’re excited about this pick. It’s truly a valuable pick at this point. Picking 32nd, you know we traded down and got extra picks. We had a group of players that we really liked and from that group, without a doubt, he’s the highest rated player and we’re excited because of 11.5, 11.5 and 9.5. Those were his sacks over the last 3 years. Everyone was aware of the fact that this year he was injured for a little bit. But you’re talking about a quality, quality football player. A quality young man, a two-time captain who played and performed well in the first year that Boston College was in the ACC. The ability to put pressure on the quarterback is a paramount need on any football team. We just felt that this particular individual was very good at that and with the combination of the players that we have, this will again allow us to continue to fortify our defense.

Q: Ernie said he wouldn’t have made this pick if he didn’t think he would see the field right away. How is that possible?

A: Scheme-wise we can arrange that. And we’ll work on that at this point. I think right away, when you have a young man with this kind of talent, you’re talking about all the second-and-long, third-and-long situations that are presented in our game. The personnel combinations that we might be able to utilize to create some problems with the defenses…I like those options going forward.

Q: He is a defensive end?

A: He can play standing up but I think he’s a pass rusher. He’s better in that role and I think that is the spot we will start with.

Q: What did you see on the tape and in his workouts that will translate to him playing on the NFL level?

A: 11.5, 11.5 and 9.5. The kid can rush the passer. He’s smart, he’s aware. He has a great sense and feel for the game even though he’s relatively new to the game, so we think it’s all in front of him as well.

Q: Waiting after trading down, is there any part of you that says, let’s just make this pick?

A: We had lengthy discussions as we saw this thing taking place and in each of those discussions every aspect of trading down or remaining where we are was discussed. So we felt thoroughly confident in going over all the options. We had players that were available that we really liked in a section there in our minds and on the board and we thought that by picking up extra picks, we’d help ourselves down the road. Give ourselves some flexibility, who knows how we might use them but give ourselves some flexibility and still have a player of very high quality that could help our team.

Q: If you didn’t make the trade would you have picked this guy at 25?

A: I think that Ernie answered that question before, didn’t he? As I said, he was very highly rated on our board and in all likelihood could have been our pick right there as well.

Q: Do you think you had him rated a little higher than most other teams?

A: I don’t think so. We didn’t think so at all. We did a very thorough analysis. We had a large number of people evaluate him. Our scouting staff. Our coaches. The young man had very, very high grades. We discussed in our meetings each individual as we do every year, we put a final grade on him and after discussing and reading the player and talking about it with all the people in the room, the grade was a very high grade and we felt good about it.

Q: Does this pick affect Justin Tuck at all?

A: No I don’t think so. Tuck is one more solid, solid young football player that we are excited about. Tuck has the ability as we saw a year ago to play on the outside and the inside.

Q: Is it a little surprising that you took a pass rushing defensive end when you already have two Pro Bowlers at the position?

A: No, because again the statement being that this player represents the highest rated player on the board at the time we made the pick. He is a solid defensive player. You can never have too many pass rushers. Again we’ve fortified our defense. It may not have been a specific need as pinpointed prior to, but this is a guy who will pay huge dividends.

Q: Kiwanuka’s life story?

A: I think the whole story. His family. I think the whole story of his. His experience, his grandfather’s experience. I think all of that was particularly interesting. I’ve known about the kid for a few years. The fact that he was at Boston College and some of the information and feedback that I get about the kid. People have been talking about him for a long time now. Since his sophomore year, really.

Media Q&A With Director of Player Personnel Jerry Reese:

Q: What are the positives?

A: We got another pass rusher; you can never have enough pass rushers. Just thinking back to the playoffs, when we played against the 49ers a couple years back, we ran out of guys, had no pass rushers and we lost the game because of that, in my opinion. You can never have enough guys that can rush the passer.

Q: Why this pass rusher?

A: He has got 21 sacks, he is 6-6, he runs 4.75. He got a 29 on his test, he played at a high level of competition. He plays hard, he is smart. It is all in front of him. Everything wrong with this guy is strength related. When this guy gets stronger he is going to be a really, really good player.

Q: Does he have the kind of frame that can add some pounds?

A: Most definitely. He is 6-6 and he weighs 266 pounds. He is going to be 275 pounds in a second. He has just got to get in the weight room and get a little stronger and learn the pro game.

Q: Did he slip because of strength issues?

A: It is probably strength issues, because you know he is not as strong as you like against the run but this guy makes plays against the run with his legs. He chases people down from behind and this guy plays hard. You’ll be surprised when you see this guy play, he plays hard.

Q: At what point in the scouting process did this guy kind of separate himself from the other cluster of guys you had an interest in?

A: This draft is kind of funny. It has a few good “A” players but it’s got a lot of good “B” players. You see players come off all over the board because there are a lot of good “B” players. We liked him from the very beginning. Again, you can never put your pass rushers up high enough on the board.

Q: What did you take away from the meeting you had with him face to face?

A: We came away with a very smart, driven young man who we felt that all you had to do was plug him in the mix with the Pro Bowlers that we have. This guy is going to help us on special teams. I always talk about this when I come down here with you guys; you always want to get guys who can help you on special teams. I can see this guy blocking kicks or field goals; he can run down on the kickoff team. This guy is a big athlete and he’s very smart and physical. It’s all in front of him. I can’t express to you how good this player has a chance to be for us.

Q: Where did you rank him among the defensive ends?

A: I don’t like to talk about our board and where we rank people. There is still a lot of draft left and I don’t want to say where we had a guy ranked. Of course he was after Mario Williams but we had him ranked pretty high. He’s a pass rusher; the guy had 21 sacks in the last two years. We had him ranked up there….we like him.

Q: Any concern with the knee injury?

A: It wasn’t an issue for our doctors. He limped around with it a little bit during the season trying to get it healthy. It probably wasn’t healthy after he got hit on that knee until the last couple of games of the season where he dominated the games. Look at the Maryland and N.C. State games and you’ll see a dominating football player. Maybe he got lost in the sauce because of that, he limped around a little bit and wasn’t really healthy, but he played through it and showed some toughness, so you like that about him. But you can see him healthy the last two games of the season and you see a dominating football player.

Q: Does his size make it possible to play him at another position?

A: Absolutely. At the combine he worked out as a linebacker as well. It’s not out of the question for this guy to stand up and play some kind of outside linebacker. Put them all in there, put him, Tuck, Osi, Strahan in there and let them all rush. Who says you can’t do that? On a passing down put them all in there and let them rush.

Q: Did you guys hold your breath at all after you traded back a few picks in fear that you may have lost him?

A: No, we didn’t hold our breath because there were several guys there that we liked. It was worth the risk for us to move back and get some extra picks because we still had five or six guys on the board that we liked. We felt safe about moving back and getting extra picks.

Media Q&A With DE Mathias Kiwanuka:

Q: Were you surprised at all by the pick?

A: I was a little bit surprised. I was waiting throughout the whole draft and knew somebody would take me, I just didn’t know who. When it got to that point I was surprised that the Giants took me but I wasn’t surprised that I went.

Q: Did the Giants show a lot of interest in you during the process?

A: I interviewed with them once before. Between the Senior Bowl, Combine and the individual workouts I had interviewed with almost every single team in the league so it’s kind of hard for me to get a feel for which teams were actually looking at me hard.

Q: What did they tell you about how you’d fit in with the other defensive ends?

A: They just told me not to worry about it and to come in and play hard and they’d find a spot for me. It’s kind of the same situation that I went into Boston College with and I’m assuming that the New York Giants felt like they saw a good athlete that they couldn’t pass up on. From my standpoint I’m not exactly sure how I’ll fit in, I just know that I will somewhere.

Q: You injured your knee last year against Virginia? Was it against D’Brickashaw Ferguson?

A: D’Brickashaw wasn’t playing. It was his backup. In my opinion that’s kind of why this injury happened because the player didn’t necessarily feel like he could match up against me. It was an unfortunate incident but I’ve put it in the past and I’m ready to move on. My knee is healthy now and I’m looking forward to just playing football.

Q: What was the damage to your knee?

A: I sprained my MCL. I missed one game and then I was fine after that.

Q: Did you have any surgery in the off-season?

A: No.

Q: Did you have a team you were hoping to end up with?

A: To tell you the truth, not really. I just wanted to play for an NFL team and from there I just wanted to go as high as I could. Throughout the whole interview process they’re looking at you and you don’t have an opportunity to scout the organization the way you do when you are going into college. All the teams that I met with were good solid teams and I was happy that I had the chance to interview with them and I was just looking forward to getting a chance to play.

Q: Not many defensive ends get to join two Pro Bowlers in their rookie year. What do you think of having Osi and Strahan as teammates?

A: I think it’s a great opportunity and in a lot of ways it’s going to be an honor to play with guys of that caliber. Hopefully a couple of years down the line people will be talking about me the way they talk about them. For now I’m going to try to learn everything I can, play hard and try to find my spot on the field.

Q: You have put a lot of weight on in the past few years; do you still think you can add more to your frame?

A: Yes, if that’s what coach asks me to do then I’ll be able to do that. I have no problem adding or losing weight at this point. I feel like I’m in a real flexible spot.

Q: What’s your weight?

A: 265.


2nd Round – WR Sinorice Moss, University of Miami (5-8, 184lbs, 4.39)

Scouting Report: Sinorice Moss is the brother of Redskins’ receiver Santana Moss. He finished the 2005 season with 37 catches for 614 yards and six touchdowns. Moss lacks size, but Sinorice is a very fast and quick receiver with excellent acceleration. He scares defenses with his ability to get deep and make the big play. Moss runs good routes and gets separation. Jumps well. He adjusts well to the football and has good hands. Moss is elusive and dangerous after the catch. Good intangibles – confident and a hard worker. Moss stood out at the Senior Bowl and was named game MVP. Could factor into the return game.

Media Q&A With General Manager Ernie Accorsi:

Q: Trading up?

A: We really wanted him. You guys know what he looks like; you have seen him play. He is a game-breaking receiver. He is not big but he can catch and he can run. For a short guy he is very powerfully built. He has a chance to be an outstanding receiver.

Q: Where Moss was rated?

A: Well, we weren’t going to take any other player but the guy that we took in the first round. But he was our highest-rated receiver. It was one of those years. It just happens at different positions, like the year we picked William Joseph. There were, what, 10 or 11 defensive linemen picked in the first round? There weren’t that many this year. There were not a lot of highly-rated receivers in this draft. He is not big. That is going to work against him in the overall picture, but it was somebody we obviously had our eye on. I just did not think he was going to last until we were picking in the second round. We had the extra pick.

Q: How much does he remind you of his brother?

A: I don’t want to put that on him. If he is as good as his brother, he will be great. I love his brother. He is similar, but he has to go do it. His brother was on a team that had a little better passing attack. He didn’t get that chance as much. But he is an explosive, high-speed, tough receiver. He is just not real big. Normally you like big receivers but you don’t want to sacrifice speed and game-breaking ability.

Q: Selecting a small receiver?

A: Absolutely. We do have big receivers. And I think you hear Tom talk too, we needed that type of receiver – that we needed one with speed, not just a possession guy. And he is not a possession guy.

Q: Bias against small receivers?

A: I don’t have that bias. I know a lot of people do, but I don’t. I remember there was a big receiver picked the year his brother came out. I heard, “We picked the bigger receiver.” But he wasn’t the better receiver. It is speed that kills. I’m not worried about that.

Q: Moss playing the slot position?

A: Well, yeah. That is what he was drafted for, but I will let the coach worry about playing him. I’m not coaching the team. I’m not Lou Lamariello. I just wrote him a note. I said, “You are my idol as a general manager but I’m not following you to the bench.”

Q: Moss not being a returner in college?

A: They had the great returner in Hester, so he didn’t do a lot but he can do it. He has got that, but we do have two awfully good returners in Morton and McQuarters, so that was a bonus. But we picked him as a receiver.

Q: He was your highest rated receiver on the board?

A: Yes.

Q: The whole board?

A: Yeah, I’m not counting Reggie Bush as a receiver. Yeah. It was obviously because of his height. But we wanted him. We were prepared to pick him in the first round if our other options were gone. We had other options. But we just didn’t think he would be there at 24 in the second round.

Q: Did you move up to where you did because that was your only opportunity?

A: No, we tried everybody in there. We came close with another team. We were trying every one in that range from 41 and beyond.

Q: He is not a pass rusher, right?

A: No, might be.

Q: You loved his brother? You almost tried to trade for Santana Moss when he came out, right?

A: Right, right. It is not fair for me to make that comparison. This kid is going to have to live with his brother.

Q: Moss’ physical stature?

A: Yeah. This guy, as you will see, is a powerfully built guy. He is strong. Physically he is short. But he has been durable. What impressed me was that he had surgery on his finger after the season and the workout, which I was at on March 3rd or 4th, that Saturday. No one even knew he had had the surgery. And we found out later and you never would have known the difference. He has a lot of talent.

Q: Did you start calling about a trade right after your first round pick at No. 32?

A: Not right away. We probably started in the mid-30′s; late 30′s. We weren’t really hitting clubs up there as much. We didn’t have enough to do that. What we had wasn’t going to be able to cover it. But we knew starting around 40, we knew that we had an equitable offer with our third.

Q: Was Baltimore on the clock?

A: Just as we made the trade New Orleans picked their player and when Ozzie called me back he said, “We are on the clock.”

Q: There would have been no trade had New Orleans picked him?

A: No. I was about to tell him, “If our guy is there”, and that is when (the New Orleans pick) flashed up the board.

Media Q&A With Head Coach Tom Coughlin:

Q: Sinorice Moss’s size being a concern?

A: No. What the concern was to try to present – we thought this guy could present a different look to the defensive people as well. We have some big targets; we have some speed as well, as you know. We’ve got various heights of individuals who also have speed. This guy gives us another dimension in terms of his quickness and that’s something that has to be considered from a defensive standpoint in how they are going to defend whether he’s in the slot or on the outside. The idea is that this guy presents a little different look and some more for them to have to plan on defending knowing full well what his quickness and speed brings.

Media Q&A With Director of Player Personnel Jerry Reese:

Q: Ernie said that Moss was the number one receiver on the board. How good does a 5-8 guy have to be to warrant that recognition?

A: First of all, he has to be fast. He has to be a guy that can take short pass or a reverse and make a big play out of it. That is what we have been lacking in our offense and we have kind of coveted that kind of guy, so he fills the bill for us. You would love for him to be taller, but he is not. He is a fast, explosive receiver that we feel can make some big plays for us. We have the big skyscraper guys. We just need a big hit underneath guy. I think he can do that for us.

Media Q&A With WR Sinorice Moss:

Q: What are your general feelings about coming to the Giants?

A: I feel great. The Giants have shown a great interest in me since the Senior Bowl and I always thought it would be wonderful to be a part of the New York Giants organization.

Q: Are you aware that the Giants have been in need of a speedy receiver literally since Homer Jones left about 35 years ago? Are you aware of the need around here for a fast receiver like you?

A: Yes, I have been hearing it from William Joseph and Plaxico. They told me they would love to have me on their team, and I’m just happy to be a part of it and I’m ready to come up there and work.

Q: Have you been working out with Plaxico, Shockey, and Joseph down there in Miami?

A: Yes, I’ve been working out with William down here in Miami.

Q: How do you feel about being in the same division as Santana?

A: That’s great; I get to face my brother twice a year. I get a chance to face him and beat up on the Redskins.

Q: Obviously your brother was a Pro Bowler last year; do you have a similar playing style to him?

A: I feel like we pretty much have the same playing style. Our body structure is pretty much the same if you look. We both have speed and quickness. We can turn a short play into a big play and to be able to help our football no matter what situation we are in?

Q: So who is faster?

A: I have no idea. We have never raced. I don’t think we will ever have a real race.

Q: How about the prospect of coming here to play with Eli Manning, who is obviously one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL?

A: To have an opportunity to play on the same team as Eli Manning, that is a big thing. He has a brother in the NFL and I have a brother in the NFL. So I’m sure me and him together will be wonderful.


3rd Round – LB Gerris Wilkinson, Georgia Tech (6-3, 231lbs, 4.67)

Scouting Report: Wilkinson is very versatile – has played all three linebacker positions. In 2004, he accrued 119 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, and one interception. In 2005, he was credited with 85 tackles, 9 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks, and two interceptions. He has a nice combination of size and athleticism. Wilkinson has excellent intangibles – smart and plays smart. He knows his assignments. Hardworking, instinctive, and productive. Wilkinson is a solid all around player who can defend the run, cover, and blitz. Has good range. He has long arms that allow him to play off blocks well.

General Manager Ernie Accorsi on LB Gerris Wilkinson: He’s an outstanding linebacker and a very versatile player. He’s big and fast – he’s 6-3, 231. He can run and he played four positions in four years. He started as a SAM his freshman year, a WILL his second year, a defensive end his third year and he played middle linebacker his fourth year. And he’s a captain. Our coaches think he can play all three positions. And his gymnastics are off the charts.

Wilkinson was a four-year starter at four different positions and a captain of his team. He was a SAM his first year, a WILL his second year, a defensive end his third and a MIKE his fourth. I think I have that sequence right. He can run. I think the coaches are probably more excited about that pick than any pick we have made. He is just a good solid, sound football player at a need position. And what we tried to do – we didn’t sacrifice grades – but we tried to – here is what happens when you get down into the third round and on, is the grades are pretty clustered – pretty close. We didn’t sacrifice grades but we did concentrate on need. There is no question about that. He is a WILL linebacker but for us he can play all three positions. Tim Lewis and Bill Sheridan both think he can play all three positions at our level.

Media Q&A With Director of Player Personnel Jerry Reese:

Q: Everyone seems to be excited about the LB you drafted out of Georgia Tech?

A: There were so many linebackers, it seemed like a really high spot for us early on. We signed some guys in free agency, but there were a lot of linebackers. There were a lot of good players that went in the second round because there were so many of them. So teams probably picked more need because they knew they could get a LB in the second-third round. He was attractive to us because number 1, he is very smart, he has size and speed, he can play all three positions and actually he can play four positions. He has played defensive end, So we feel he is a very valuable pick for us, because he is versatile and he can play on special teams. We are delighted to have him.


4th Round – DT Barry Cofield, Northwestern University (6-4, 303lbs, 4.97)

Scouting Report: Cofield has experience at both defensive end and defensive tackle, but projects inside for the Giants. In his senior season, he accrued 63 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. Cofield has good size and is strong. He can anchor against the double-team on running plays. Can two-gap and tie up blockers for his teammates to make the play. He plays with leverage and can penetrate. Can close in a hurry. Pursues well down the line. Cofield needs to improve his stamina. When he tires, he plays high and gets tied up too easily. He graded out as the most athletic defensive tackle at the Combine. Smart.

Media Q&A With General Manager Ernie Accorsi:

Accorsi: Cofield is a defensive tackle, a run stopper. There were a couple of them there, but this is the one that we thought could play the nose the best. He is big. Obviously that was a need position for us, as you all know.

Q: Defensive tackle was a need and seemed to be your biggest hole going into the draft. Is Cofield good enough and ready enough to step right in if necessary?

A: We didn’t think it was the hole that a lot of you people did. Seawright has gotten big. We have Robbins, we have Joseph. We have three or four people in there. We lost a nice little player, but we didn’t think of it as that big of a hole. Obviously if we felt that way, we would have done something earlier. He is going to be a rookie, but he is good enough to step in, absolutely. He is big run-stopper. That is what he is. On that defensive line, he took the brunt of the double teams and kind of had to get rid of all of the flack for other people. So he is smart. One thing we did, we have smart people, quality people. There were a number of defensive linemen up there. There were some that played defensive end that could have played defensive tackle. But we just needed the big inside guy who is a nose tackle.

Q: Some of the reports say “has trouble fighting off the double teams.” Is that accurate?

A: Well, he played at Northwestern. That is Ohio State, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and Penn State. He had a tough time in there. Obviously we don’t agree or we wouldn’t have picked him.

Q: Playing the nose?

A: Well, you have to talk to Tom about a lot of that. The concept of the nose and the way we play our line. I know that when we discuss defensive linemen, they will pretty much specify, “Well, this guy…” To me they are defensive tackles – I don’t think that much of drafting for the system; I draft a player which I think is the best player. But they have to fit them into what they do. And there is a difference between just a regular defensive tackle and a nose tackle. This guy can play the nose tackle. But I would ask Tom more on that. That is more of a coaching thing.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin on DT Barry Cofield: Barry Cofield was an opportunity in the fourth round that we felt, with our two picks to take two linemen, two big people there. In Cofield, we feel he can come in and give us what we are looking for in a physical nose tackle. A first and second down guy, if you will. A run defender who can anchor in there on the center and maintain leverage – he doesn’t get knocked off the ball – he’ll allow those linebackers and our other front seven to work with him holding his own.

Media Q&A With Director of Player Personnel Jerry Reese:

Q: Addressing the DT position?

A: We have some untested guys there. We have some guys that we have some confidence in that we think are going to be good players, but they haven’t been in the heat of the battle yet. We felt we could address that position with a guy that has played the position. Cofield has played that position for three years as a defensive tackle and he plays all over the place. He plays a ‘one’ technique over the nose. He played a ‘three’ technique outside of the guard. He plays outside on the end in the three-man front, like a 3-4 end. Big, strong, hard working guy inside. The production is not there because he does the hard work inside. He is a big player that holds a point, does all the dirty work for that team. We feel we can get a guy that frees up those linebackers and takes some double teams up in there, puts a little pressure up the middle.

Q: Some reports say he has problems fighting off the double teams?

A: Not for us. He is probably not a Pro Bowler fighting off double teams, but at this point in the draft, he is a big body that can hold his ground inside. We feel good about having him on board.


4th Round – OT Guy Whimper, East Carolina University (6-5, 305lbs, 4.95)

Scouting Report: Whimper is an athletic player who was used at linebacker, defensive end, and tight end in college. He was moved to right tackle his senior year, but he also started one game at left tackle. Whimper has good size and the frame to get bigger. He is a very good athlete and has had good feet – should be able to play left tackle. Obviously, he is very raw and will take some time to develop – he needs a lot of technique work. Impressed at both the Hula Bowl and the Combine.

Media Q&A With General Manager Ernie Accorsi:

Accorsi: We picked Guy Whimper as a left tackle. He played some left tackle. He played right tackle there because he really has never participated in spring practices. He has some eligibility problems and he was skipping spring practice. So they didn’t keep him over there. He is a great athlete. He is inexperienced. He is a little raw but he is a great athlete. And the reason we picked him was strictly because we think he can be a left tackle because of his athletic ability.

Q: Is it tough to judge a player like Whimper since he has only played one year at tackle?

A: Yeah. He played well. He is such an extraordinary athlete. And the things that you do see are so impressive that – for us if we are going to pick a tackle for the future, he has to have an ability to play left tackle. And that is a critical position because you can find right tackles; there are a lot of college players playing left tackle that can’t play left tackle in our league. To me, they are one of the critical positions on the team. He has that potential. He is an investment. But you have to pick them when you have a chance – they are just hard to find. They are not ready-made. Sure, Ferguson is, the Orlando Paces are, but they would be in the top four or five in the draft. So he has a real good chance. He also started four games at tight end. So he can be a short-yardage blocker, too, as a tight end.

Q: Are you concerned about his character?

A: No.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin on OT Guy Whimper: In Whimper, we took a very athletic, young offensive tackle who we think has the ability to be trained to play on the left side. In the Hula Bowl he played left tackle and our scouts were extremely impressed with his speed and his quickness. This guy runs under 5 flat for being a legitimate 300, 305-pounder. So we were very impressed with his athleticism, his quick feet, his ability to play on the left side in the Hula Bowl. That is what excited us about him…Whimper, as I mentioned, is a guy who may be athletic enough – did play tight end, which is interesting, in college as well. So if you’re talking about a guy that runs under 5 flat and you’re talking about a guy who has his athleticism, has quick feet, perhaps there is some goalline and short yardage versatility there that we might utilize in Guy Whimper.

Media Q&A With Director of Player Personnel Jerry Reese:

Q: Character of Whimper?

A: Number one, you project his character, then you project his athletic ability. The guy played defensive end, so he is a really good athlete. He has played left tackle and right tackle. This is a guy that came into his senior year and had no snaps as an offensive lineman. He just out-athletes everybody right now. He really doesn’t know what is going on. He is big, he has long arms, he is fast and this guy can play on special teams. We just feel like after he learns the position and gets stronger, we feel like he is going to be a steal at left tackle for us in a year or so.


5th Round – S/CB Charlie Peprah, University of Alabama (5-11, 202lbs, 4.56)

Scouting Report: Peprah has experience at both cornerback and strong safety. He played safety his last two years in college, but might project to corner in the pros. Peprah was credited with 43 tackles, five pass breakups, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries his senior season. He lacks ideal timed speed, but he is quick and agile. Plays faster than he timed at the Combine – has good range. Peprah has some corner cover skills. Good intangibles – smart, good recognition skills, tough, and instinctive. Very aggressive and physical in run support, but he needs to improve his tackling technique in order to become a more consistent tackler. Ran better at his pro day than the Combine (he ran in the 4.4-4.5 range).

Media Q&A With General Manager Ernie Accorsi:

Accorsi: Peprah, we drafted him as a safety but he was a two-year starter as a corner. So we have a two-way shot with him. Really we have some needs at both positions as far as depth on our team. So we pretty much went for need. We have filled just about everything that we thought was critical on our team and we still have another pick left. We won’t get a sixth I don’t think because we are not going to give up anything in next year’s draft. I don’t want to leave a draft with any holes in for whoever steps in here. I don’t want to leave next year’s draft with holes in it for anybody.

Q: Is Peprah another one of these character guys you are talking about?

A: Yeah, he is. I think he may be a captain, too. Wilkinson is a captain. Absolutely. They moved him to safety really for the good of the team. The kid had seven interceptions as a two-year starter as a corner. So he was playing fine as a corner. They just moved him there because that was the need for them.

Q: Is Peprah going to be a safety or a corner for you?

A: He is a two-way shot for us.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin on S/CB Charlie Peprah: In the Peprah pick, at that spot in the fifth, we were looking for a guy who had versatility. In this young man, he had played corner for two years with (seven) interceptions. Of course, playing at the University of Alabama, he played in a lot of big games. A guy who played his last two years as a safety, we think he’ll be an outstanding special teams performer as well…Peprah will be an outstanding special teams performer. We expect to start him out at safety but we could start him at corner and move him to safety. It’s just that the amount of quality time spent at the position without creating any real issues in terms of changing positions for him would be the only reason that we would just flat out start him out at safety. He’s a very intelligent kid, he made the calls and we think he can go ahead and do that on this level as well.


7th Round – CB Gerrick McPhearson, University of Maryland (5-10, 191lbs, 4.44)

Scouting Report: McPhearson started 10-of-11 games his senior season and finished with 37 tackles and six pass breakups. Lacks ideal height, but he is well-built and very athletic. Fast, fluid, and really can leap. Strong. McPhearson needs a lot of technique work, especially with his footwork in transition. Plays better in bump-and-run than man-off. He needs to improve his zone awareness. Not very instinctive and has poor hands for the interception. Played with a shoulder injury his senior year and could not hit consistently because of it, but he is an aggressive hitter and tackler. Has a big upside.

Media Q&A With Director of Player Personnel Jerry Reese:

Q: McPhearson?

A: Gerrick has good size and speed. He has some good skills and he has played against good competition. We project him as a cover cornerback.

Q: Concern about lack of interceptions?

A: There is some concern. But you’re picking in the seventh round. You’re looking for something in a player. Our defensive backs coach scouted him and liked what he saw. He has some of the attributes you look for in a good cornerback, like the speed and the awareness. We want to look at him as a cover corner.


Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports

DT Marcus Green, Ohio State (6-1, 285lbs, 5.17): Started 12 games his senior season and compiled 37 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, one sack, and one fumble recovery. Earned All-Big Ten honorable mention. Green lacks ideal size, but he is a good athlete. Has some quickness and can be disruptive. He is active and pursues well. Not real stout at the point-of-attack and does not shed blocks well. Green needs to get bigger and stronger. Good intangibles – tough, competitive.

DT Sir Henry Anderson, Oregon State University (6-3, 314lbs, 5.22): Anderson finished his senior season with 35 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. He was named second-team All-Pac 10 Conference. Anderson is well built and athletic with some quickness to his game. Flashes the ability to penetrate and disrupt. Can close. He can anchor at the point-of-attack and two-gap, but Anderson needs to play with better leverage. Plays too tall at times and gets driven off the ball.

DE/LB Willie Evans, Mississippi State University (6-1, 269lbs, 4.90): Evans was moved from fullback to defensive end before his junior season. He led the Southeastern Conference in sacks (15) and tackles for a loss (24.5) and was awarded All-SEC first-team honors. Evans also accrued 60 tackles, two forced fumbles, and one interception. Evans lacks ideal size, but he is a tough, smart, competitive football player with good quickness. Good pass rusher who struggles at time against the run from the defensive end spot. Could project to linebacker.

DE/LB Thomas Carroll, University of Miami (6-4, 239lbs, 4.86): Three-year starter at defensive end who could project to outside linebacker. Despite playing with an injured shoulder, Carroll finished his senior season with 25 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery. A bit of a ‘tweener – Carroll lacks size for a defensive end and ideal speed for a linebacker. He has good agility and quickness. Good intangibles – plays hard, tough, competitive. Carroll does not have much experience dropping into coverage.

LB Kevis Coley, University Southern Mississippi (6-1, 231lbs, 4.60): Coley was named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year in his first full year as a starter as a middle linebacker in 2005, accruing 150 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, 5 sacks, four fumble recoveries, and two forced fumbles. Coley lacks ideal size and athleticism, but he was very productive. Aggressive and hustling player. Team leader.

CB E.J. Underwood, Pikesville College (6-1, 185, 4.40): Transferred to Pikesville College from Ohio State due to academic woes in the summer of 2005. Underwood is a very good athlete who was expected to be a factor at cornerback for the Buckeyes his senior year. He had started six games at corner for Ohio State in 2004. Underwood finished his senior season at Pikesville with 49 tackles, one interception, two forced fumbles, and one blocked kick. Underwood has experience as a punt and kick returner. He drew a lot of NFL teams to his pro day workout, including the Giants.

CB Kevin Dockery, Mississippi State University (5-8, 188, 4.45): Dockery was a three-year starter in college and was credited with 53 tackles, 5 tackles for a loss, 1 sack, 3 interceptions, 9 pass defenses, and 1 fumble recovery his senior season. Dockery lacks height, but he is a well built player with good speed.

SS Trevis Coley, University of Southern Mississippi (6-1, 227lbs, 4.50): Coley has experience at both safety and outside linebacker. As a free safety, he finished the 2005 season with 109 tackles and two interceptions. Coley has good size/speed combination. Good run defender.

HB James Sims, Jr., University of Washington (6-0, 211lbs, 4.55): Sims played his first two years in college at safety before being moved to fullback in 2004 and tailback in 2005. He became the full-time starter towards the end of the season, yet still led his team in rushing last year with 495 yards on 112 carries and six touchdowns. Rushed for over 200 yards in the game against the University of Arizona. Very good athlete who has a track background. Sims plays bigger than his listed size – has some power to his game.

HB Jerod Void, Purdue University (6-0, 220lbs, 4.58): Void split time in a single-back, pass-oriented offense. In 2005, he carried the ball 130 times for 696 yards and 10 touchdowns. Void has good size and runs with good patience and balance. He lacks ideal speed to turn the corner – better inside runner. However, he runs too tall and does not break many tackles. Void does have good hands. There are some questions about his work ethic.

WR Anthony Mix, Auburn University (6-4, 235lbs, 4.45): A ‘tweener, Mix is a huge wide receiver who could also project to H-Back. Mix started three games as a senior and finished the season with 23 catches for 288 yards and two touchdowns. Mix is very big with long arms. Athletic, but he does not play to his timed speed and he is not very quick for a wide receiver. Needs to improve his routes. He has so-so hands and is not much of a blocker from the H-Back or tight end spot. Needs to run tougher after the catch. Some reports question his work ethic and maturity.

TE Darcy Johnson, University of Central Florida (6-5, 252lbs, 4.91): Johnson was a three-year starter at tight end for Central Florida. He finished his career there with 81 receptions for 919 yards, including six touchdowns. Johnson earned All-Conference USA second-team honors his senior season with 36 catches for 435 yards, and two touchdowns. Johnson is a good athlete with good hands.

OT Jai Lewis, George Mason University (6-5, 292lbs): Collegiate basketball star for a Final Four team who did not play football in college. Lewis last played tight end and defensive end in high school. Eleven NFL teams sent representatives to watch his workout in April, including the Giants. Some teams envision Lewis as a possible tight end, others an offensive lineman. The Giants will try him at tackle. Excellent size-speed combination, but a development project who is as green as one possibly could be. Long shot at best. “He’s a project. It’s not going to happen overnight,” Accorsi said. “Basketball teams are filled with great athletes. The question is, does he have the fortitude to play this sport, where you’re getting hit in the mouth every play? It’s going to depend on how hard he wants it and how hard he works…He’s a two-way shot. If we get him in the weight room and get him down to 275, he could be a tight end. If he gets even bigger than he is now, he can be a tackle, because he’s got great feet.”

OT Na’Shan Goddard, University of South Carolina (6-5, 315lbs, 5.31): Goddard has experience at right tackle, left tackle, right guard, and even center with 37 starts. He has decent size, strength, and athleticism, but his does not play up to his ability. Not consistently aggressive enough as both a run and pass blocker. Flashes at times. Needs to play with greater awareness – has problems with stunts and games on the pass rush. Goddard can pull, but he is an inconsistent blocker on the second level.

OC Todd Londot, Miami University (Ohio) (6-5, 301lbs, 5.14): Londot has experience at both center and right tackle, and he played at a variety of positions at the Hula Bowl in January. He was a four-year starter at Miami and a three-time second-team All-MAC selection. He started 42 games in college and was twice honored with the “Trench Warrior Award,” presented to Miami’s top offensive lineman. Londot has good size and is a decent athlete. San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, and New Orleans were all interested in signing Londot after the draft.

OG Matt Lentz, University of Michigan (6-6, 320lbs, 5.30): Lentz was two-time All-Big Ten first team (2004-05). He has started 36 games at right guard. Lentz has good size, but is limited athletically. He is a blue-collar overachiever. Tough, smart, competitive, and strong. Lentz is an aggressive run blocker, but he is not really a mauler at the point-of-attack. He will struggle against quickness in pass protection. Picks up stunts and blitzes well.

OG Tony Tella, University of Miami (6-4, 306lbs, 5.42): Tella started 23 games at Miami with experience at both right and left guard. He has decent size and athletic ability. Quick footed. Can pull and block on the second level although he will sometimes miss his target in space. He has the frame to get bigger and needs to get bigger and stronger. Tella needs to improve his blocking technique, especially in terms of playing with better leverage, and become more aggressive. Not a mauler.

OG Kevin McAlmont, Western Carolina University (6-2, 320lbs, 5.10): McAlmont was named second team All-Southern Conference in 2005. During his sophomore year, McAlmont was moved from defensive tackle to offensive tackle. The last two years he has played left guard for WCU. Has a track and field background. During the summer of 2005, McAlmont set a WCU record with a bench press of 505 pounds and ran a time of 4.98 in the 40-yard dash. McAlmont lacks ideal height and agility, but he is a strong, tough lineman. He was invited to the rookie mini-camps of the Redskins and Jets in May.


Eric’s Take on the 2006 Draft

My overall impression of the draft is favorable. I think the Giants addressed many of their needs that I talked about in my draft preview. They acquired a speedy, big-play wide receiver; a quality linebacker and eventual starter who can play all three linebacker positions; a two-gap nose tackle; and an athletic left tackle. The only position of need that may not have been adequately addressed is cornerback. Unless S/CB Charlie Peprah or CB Gerrick McPhearson really surprise, the Giants probably did not come out of this draft with a future starter at that critical position. But if the receiver, linebacker, nose tackle, and left tackle develop into quality football players, then the Giants accomplished more in this draft than I expected them to be able to do.

I do have a sense of unease at the first pick. But more on that in a moment. First, I will say that I loved the fact that the Giants traded down in the first round. By moving down seven spots, the Giants picked up an additional third and fourth round pick. If they do not do this, the team does not acquire WR Sinorice Moss or LT Guy Whimper. So you have to keep that in mind when thinking about the players who the Giants passed on by trading down. Some have argued that the Giants should have drafted WR Chad Jackson or WR Santonio Holmes, but the Giants had Moss rated as the #1 receiver in the draft so that was not an option (whether you agree with the Giants or not). The two players who the Giants may have missed out on were CB Kelly Jennings and DT John McCargo. Either would have made sense, but the Giants would have then missed out on all of the receivers if they did not trade down. (Still I wonder who the Giants would have truly had picked if both Jennings and McCargo were still there at #32).

My unease comes from the selection of DE Mathias Kiwanuka. It’s not that Kiwanuka is a bad player. Far from it, he could end up being a steal at that point in the draft. However, in my opinion, the Giants did not need a defensive end. It was the one position on the team where the Giants were rock solid. The Giants were in great shape there with Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Eric Moore, and Adrian Awasom. Tuck is a player who I really like. I think he is going to be a very, very good two-way defensive end. Moore is a guy who the Giants thought so highly of that they kept him on the active roster despite him missing almost all of camp and all of the preseason with an injury. While I certainly understand and appreciate the “best player available” strategy, I am concerned about what this move means for Tuck. In the Giants’ base defense, you can only play two defensive ends. When the Giants’ go to their more exotic pass rush packages in obvious pass-rushing situations, one would assume that Strahan, Umenyiora, LaVar Arrington, and William Joseph will be on the field. Indeed, Coughlin mentioned these four plus Kiwanuka in his WFAN interview after the draft as being part of the pass-rush package. He did not mention Tuck, one of the team’s best pass rushers. Well, one could argue put Tuck out there too, but you can only rush so many players on a given play. Someone has to cover. I really doubt the Giants are going to have all six players on the field at once except for possibly a few plays each game. So unless someone gets hurt, I think the selection of Kiwanuka marginalizes Tuck and completely erases Eric Moore from the picture. Furthermore, I see no reason for Tuck to want to stay with the Giants when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2009. I know that seems like a long way off and a lot of things can happen between now and then, but I really did envision Tuck and Umenyiora being our starters in a few years. Now I think the Giants have to consider trading him in 2008 before he hits the open market. After all, I wouldn’t want him to sign a lucrative deal with the Redskins or Eagles for example.

But let me reiterate. Kiwanuka is a good player and if he develops as the Giants hope, in the long-term he will be Strahan’s eventual replacement. Strahan is 34 years old (though there was a newspaper report that Strahan’s deal will be extended beyond 2008). In the short-term, he adds a dangerous component to the Giants’ pass rush packages and very valuable depth. Let’s just hope he turns out to be a much better player than Tuck or the Giants may have made a mistake.

OK, so who should have the Giants drafted after they traded down? That’s an excellent question. What about LT Winston Justice? There were concerns about his character and toughness by many teams. It looks like the Giants were one of those teams. It will be interesting to see how his career develops in Philadelphia. Linebackers DeMeco Ryans, D’Qwell Jackson, Roger McIntosh, or Thomas Howard? I truly get the sense that the Giants got a linebacker in Gerris Wilkinson that they felt was of similar talent. But how those four players do will be interesting as well. The guy who would have made a lot of sense in terms of his ability was CB Jimmy Williams, but there were huge character concerns with him. Still, let’s see how he does in Atlanta. In hindsight (and it is wonderful to have hindsight after the draft is over), I think I would have preferred to have the Giants trade down again (if there were any takers) and draft Moss. Or draft Moss at #32. Then they could have kept their original #2 pick and used it on CB Richard Marshall. That way, they keep their own #3 pick too (maybe use it on a guy like WR Maurice Stovall).

But what the heck do I know? After all, I was advocating taking Gabe Watson in the first round!!! If Kiwanuka becomes a Pro Bowler and Tuck an above average player, then the Giants did the right thing.

Enough of the first pick, let’s talk about the rest of the draft. I really like the selection of Moss. Kudos to the Giants for trading up to select him in the second round. I was not high on Chad Jackson and the only reason I listed Santonio Holmes above Moss was the three-inch height discrepancy – which cannot be completely discounted. But Moss is an incredibly dangerous player. He is going to be deadly on those wide receiver screens that Coughlin loves to call, especially with Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer blocking in front of him. He also will be a nightmare to cover out of the slot. What we don’t know is if he is capable of eventually replacing Amani Toomer down the road. Simply put, is he too short to be a starting wide receiver in the NFL? Regardless, I expect Moss to have a huge impact on the Giants immediately. He can take it to the house every time he touches the football.

Gerris Wilkinson is a perfect pick for the Giants. He can play all three linebacker spots. He is very athletic, smart, and hardworking. With the Giants starting Arrington on the strongside and Wilkinson competing on the weakside with Carlos Emmons and Brandon Short, it is not out of the realm of possibility that Wilkinson could make an impact sooner rather than later. Indeed, if the Giants planned to play Arrington on the strongside all along, then the weakside linebacker spot was truly a greater need heading into this draft than we all realized after the Giants signed Arrington. I bet you that Wilkinson is the starter at this position in 2007.

Barry Cofield is the type of defensive tackle that the Giants needed. He is a stout run defender who can two-gap and play the nose tackle position. He also has some athletic ability and could develop into a bit of a penetrator as well. I doubt he starts this year, but he will become an important factor in the rotation.

Guy Whimper is a very interesting developmental project. He has the size and athleticism you look for in a left tackle. He also is supposed to be a hard worker. He’s green so it will take a while, but he does have the physical ability to eventually replace Luke Petitgout in 2-3 years. Honestly, I am more comfortable with the pick of Whimper in the fourth round than Justice in the first round.

CB/S Charlie Peprah is a bit of a ‘tweener. At worst, he is probably an athletic safety. But he does have some corner cover skills and he runs faster than he timed at the Combine. If he or CB Gerrick McPhearson develop, the Giants may truly have hit a home run with this draft. Because, on the surface, cornerback is the one position that they did not address until late.

In summary, this appears to be a solid effort because they came away with good prospects at four need positions – wide receiver, linebacker, defensive tackle, and left tackle. They may have drafted the second best defensive end in the draft and a possible future impact player at that position. I just hope there is a way they can find a way to use (and keep) Justin Tuck.

Rookie Free Agents: As for the rookie free agents signed after the draft, this is a pretty good group of prospects (17 in all). However, the problem for these young men is that the Giants’ roster is both pretty deep and talented right now. For example, two interesting pass rushers who the Giants signed are DE Willie Evans (who led the SEC in sacks) and DE Thomas Carroll (who played hurt as a senior). But both are facing an almost impossible situation given the Giants’ depth situation at defensive end. The players with the greatest chance to stick are those who play at a position where the Giants are still a bit unsettled such as defensive tackle and cornerback. Both DT Sir Henry Anderson and DT Marcus Green were very good post-draft pickups. Both have ability and I could actually see one of these two making the active roster (though the Practice Squad is more likely). Anderson is a big guy with good athleticism, but he needs to play with better leverage. He could factor in at nose tackle. At cornerback, E.J. Underwood is an interesting pickup given his Big 10 background, size, and speed.

Another player worth watching is HB James Sims. With Ryan Grant out for the season, Sims could make the Practice Squad. WR Anthony Mix is a bit of a ‘tweener. He will have to lose some weight and increase his quickness in order to have a chance, but he is a tall target and a good athlete. And there are three intriguing interior offensive linemen. Matt Lentz started a ton of games at right guard for Michigan and is a tough, competitive player. Tony Tella is a more athletic left guard and was a two-year starter another major program (Miami). And center Todd Londott was pursued by a number of teams after the draft. Unless someone gets hurt, their best chance is the Practice Squad, but each of these three could develop down the road.

Feb 132006
 
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The recent election of Harry Carson into the Pro Football Hall of Fame spurred me to write this article. Carson, one of the greatest middle linebackers ever to play the game, was first eligible for the Hall of Fame in 1993. He had to wait 13 long years before receiving confirmation of his acceptance. But at least Carson is alive to enjoy his personal triumph. Unfortunately, for another Giant great, Benjamin “Benny” Friedman, the honor came far too late.

Most football fans today, including Giants fans, have never heard of Benny Friedman. That’s too bad because not only was Friedman one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play in the NFL, he, in fact, revolutionized the pro game by becoming the League’s first great passer. There are only four quarterbacks with ties to the Giants in the Hall of Fame: Y.A. Tittle, Fran Tarkenton, Arnie Herber, and Benny Friedman. The two longest tenured quarterbacks with the team – Phil Simms and Charlie Conerly – are not in the Hall. Yet Friedman’s induction in 2005 went barely noticed by the media and fans. Even the Giants organization did not publicize it much.

So who was Benny Friedman? Friedman, arguably the greatest Jewish athlete of all time, certainly did not look the part. He was approximately 5’8” and only 170 pounds. But the Giants were so enamored with his skills that they completely dismantled another NFL team in order to acquire him. During the NFL’s early days, no one could throw the football like Friedman.

Friedman was a two-time All-American quarterback at the University of Michigan and nationwide collegiate star of the first order. In 1925 and 1926, he led Michigan to back-to-back 7-1 seasons and first place finishes in the Big Ten. Against the University of Indiana in 1925 (the same year the Giants came into existence), Friedman accounted for 44 points, throwing for five touchdowns and kicking two field goals and eight extra points. At the time, only the legendary “Galloping Ghost,” Hall of Fame halfback Red Grange, received more attention with his decision to turn pro (Grange was as famous an athlete in those days as Babe Ruth). With no NFL Draft in existence, Friedman signed with and started his NFL playing career with the Cleveland Bulldogs in 1927. A year later, the franchise moved to Detroit and became the Wolverines. Following the 1928 season, then Giants’ owner Tim Mara made a strong push to obtain Friedman, who had burned his team a couple of times. But the Wolverines would not trade him. Mara made four ever-stronger offers, yet was rebuffed each time. Mara’s solution was to buy the financially-troubled Wolverines and disband them two days later. He kept Friedman, the head coach (as part of the deal), and a few other players. To make Friedman happy, Mara paid him an annual salary of $10,000 – the most ever for a football player at a time when most players were earning $50-100 a game.

Mara made the move to obtain Friedman both for player personnel and economic reasons. The Giants won their first NFL title in 1927 with an 11-1-1 record (the team’s only loss being to Friedman’s Bulldogs). However, in 1928, the Giants fell to 4-7-2. And worse, with the Great Depression looming on the horizon, the Giants were losing money and in dire financial straits. It was hoped that Friedman would not only turn around the win-loss record, but his star-power would also put the team in the black – and that’s exactly what he did, perhaps saving the franchise. It also didn’t hurt that Friedman was Jewish and would be playing in a city heavily populated with Jews. The Giants reportedly lost $54,000 in 1928. But upon Friedman’s arrival at the Polo Grounds, fans began showing up at Giants games and the team turned a profit in his first year in New York. The Giants made $8,500 in 1929, $23,000 in 1930, and $35,000 in 1931 in Friedman’s three Depression-era seasons with the team.

Friedman only played three years for the Giants. But those three years in New York solidified his status as the NFL’s first great passer. Back in those days, the game’s rules were not conducive at all to passing. Roughing the passer was legal. If a quarterback threw two consecutive incomplete passes, the team was penalized. An incomplete pass in the opposition’s end zone resulted in a turnover. Most importantly, the ball was much rounder and harder to grip. That did not matter to Friedman, who had incredibly strong hands. “I think the most amazing thing about him was the way he could throw the kind of football that was in use in his days,” said Giants’ co-owner Wellington Mara, who passed away in 2005 at the age of 89. “Did you ever see that ball? It was like trying to throw a wet sock.”

Benny Friedman With the Detroit Wolverines

Benny Friedman with the Detroit Wolverines

In each of his first four years in the NFL, including his first two with the Giants, Friedman won first-team All-NFL honors and led the league in passing touchdowns. Although complete statistics were not kept, it is believed that Friedman completed more than half of his passes at a time when a 35 percent completion percentage was considered a very good performance. He led the league in touchdown passes each of his first four years. He twice passed for more than 1,500 yards in a season – an unheard of total for that era. In fact, no other NFL passer would reach that mark until 1942. From 1927 to 1930, Friedman threw for 50 percent more yards and twice as many touchdowns than the next-best quarterback in the NFL.

In his first year with the Giants in 1929, Friedman threw 20 touchdown passes, including four in one game – the first player to do either in the League. No NFL team would surpass 20 passing touchdowns in a season until 1942 and that total would have still led the NFL as late as 1977. The Giants’ 312-point total that year marked only the second time the 300-point barrier had been broken in the League. But it would happen again in 1930 when Friedman quarterbacked the team to 308 more points.

In the multi-tasking, two-way days of the early NFL, Friedman could do more than pass the football. Friedman could run, kick, and play defense. In 1928, the year before he came to the Giants, he led the NFL in both rushing and passing touchdowns – something no other player in NFL history has accomplished. He also led the league in extra points that season. In one game against the Bears, he rushed for 164 yards. Friedman also played defensive back.

Benny Friedman, New York Giants (1931)

Benny Friedman, New York Giants (1931)

Friedman, whose jersey number with the Giants was #1, immediately turned around the Giants’ fortunes on the football field. From 4-7-2 in 1928, the Giants improved to 13-1-1 in 1929, finishing second in the NFL behind the 12-0-1 Green Bay Packers (NFL Championship Games were not played until 1933). In 1930, Friedman led the Giants to another second-place finish with a 13-4 record (a .765 winning percentage), barely missing out on their second NFL title to the Packers again (who had a .769 winning percentage with a 10-3-1 record).

The biggest event in 1930 for the Giants however was the charity exhibition game played on December 14th at the Polo Grounds against a Notre Dame All-Star team of former Irish football greats, including the legendary “Four Horsemen.” The game was played during the season-long pennant chase with the Packers, but many New Yorkers were starving. Despite New York City being gripped in the depths of the Great Depression, 55,000 fans came to watch and Tim Mara donated the entire gate receipt ($115,153 – an astronomical amount of money in those days) to the New York City Unemployment Fund. It was widely expected by many that the Notre Dame team would beat the Giants, but it was the G-Men who thrashed Knute Rockne’s Fighting Irish 22-0. Notre Dame never crossed midfield and was held to one first down. Friedman, the team captain for the Giants, scored two of New York’s three touchdowns.

“There are those who say Friedman is the greatest passer of all time,” said Rockne. “They are not far wrong. He could hit a dime at 40 yards; besides being a great passer, he hit the line, tackled, blocked, and did everything – no mere specialty man – that a fine football player should do.”

 

Benny Friedman (1), New York Giants (November 22, 1931)

Benny Friedman (1), New York Giants (November 22, 1931)

“He was the best quarterback I ever played against,” said Red Grange. “There was no one his equal in throwing a football in those days.” Grange later said, “Anybody can throw today’s football. You go back to Benny Friedman playing with the New York Giants…He threw that old balloon. Now who’s to tell what Benny Friedman might do with this modern football? He’d probably be the greatest passer that ever lived.”

“He is the greatest forward passer in the history of the game,” wrote a famed New York Daily News sportswriter. “No other passer has his accuracy, his judgment of distance, his intuitive ability to pick out the best receiver.”

Friedman’s productivity in 1931 began to decline. A knee injury slowed him on the field. He also became distracted as he was also serving as an assistant backfield coach at Yale. Indeed, he missed the first four games of the season because of his coaching duties (the Giants lost three of those games). In 1931, the Giants fell to fifth place in the NFL with a 7-6-1 record. After the season, Friedman demanded that Tim Mara give him a piece of the team. “(Mara) said, ‘No, I’m keeping it all for my sons,’” said Friedman. “That was that. I thought I deserved a piece of the club because I felt I had played a big part in moving it from the red ink to the black ink. And when Tim turned me down I felt I should move along, that I couldn’t stay with him.”

In 1932, Friedman left for the Brooklyn (Football) Dodgers as a player and coach. He led the league in completion percentage in his last full season as a player with Brooklyn in 1933, completing 53 percent of his throws or 10 percent better than the next most accuarate quarterback. He was named second-team All-NFL. Friedman retired from the NFL after the 1934 season at the age of 29. In his eight NFL seasons, Friedman played in 81 games, threw 66 touchdown passes, rushed for 18 touchdowns, and kicked two field goals and 71 extra points. He also caught five passes for 67 yards. His 66 career touchdown passes was an NFL record until Hall of Famer Arnie Herber passed him in 1944, the first of his two seasons with the Giants.

After his playing days, Friedman coached the City College of New York until World War II started for the United States in 1941. Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia personally asked Friedman to take the City College position. During the war, Friedman served with the Navy as a lieutenant commander aboard an aircraft carrier. He later became the athletic director (1949-1963) and head coach (1951-1959) at Brandeis University.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame was established in 1963 and Friedman lobbied hard for his inclusion. But by doing so, it is said that he turned off a number of voters. In fact, he was not even nominated from 1963 to 2004. Friedman reportedly became increasingly bitter toward the NFL. In 1970, he criticized the League for “brashness and arrogance beyond belief” for not including pre-1958 players in the NFL’s pension benefit program.

By the late 1970s and early 1980s, Friedman was a forgotten man living in obscurity. He suffered from heart problems and severe diabetes, the latter causing him to lose a leg. On November 23, 1982, Friedman turned a gun on himself and died at the age of 77. In the note he left behind, Friedman said he didn’t want to end up as “the old man on the park bench.”

Twenty-three years too late and 71 years after his playing days were over, the Seniors Committee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame finally honored him in 2005.

At the time of Friedman’s selection to the Hall of Fame, Wellington Mara said of Friedman, “He towered over his contemporaries and set the stage of the development of the passing game we see today.”

“Benny revolutionized football,” the Bears’ George Halas once said. “He forced defenses out of the dark ages.”

Sources:

  • “Battlin’ Benny – The Man Who Invented the Passing Game,” Lively-Arts.com, Willard Manus, March 2002.
  • “The Man That Fame Forgot,” The Boston Globe, January 30, 2005.
  • “A Long Wait That Will End Much Too Late,” The Washington Times, Dan Daly, February 5, 2005.
  • “Hall of a Snub for Carson,” Giants.com, Michael Eisen, February 5, 2005.
  • “Friedman Joining Pro Football’s Pantheon,” ESPN.com, Joe Goldstein, August 2, 2005.
  • “Hall of Fame 2005: NFL Pioneer Friedman Headed to Hall Posthumously,” Associated Press, Barry Wilner, August 4, 2005.
  • The Giants: From the Polo Grounds to Super Bowl XXI – An Illustrated History, Richard Whittingham, 1987.
  • New York Giants: Seventy-Five Years, Jerry Izenberg, 1999.
  • New York Giants: 75 Years of Football Memories, edited by Victoria J. Parrillo of The Daily News, 1999.
  • Wikipedia.com
  • ProFootballHOF.com
Nov 162005
 
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By David Oliver

There is a certain weltschmertz in sitting down to write about the Giants these days. First the passing of Wellington “Duke” Mara, and now the passing of Preston Robert “Bob” Tisch leave me feeling as if a heavy load has been placed on my all too quickly aging back. There have been so many down happenings in my life since my involuntary departure from the ‘family’ that they underscore my previously expressed feelings that the cycle of my life has moved in tandem with that of the Giants.

But before anything else is said, allow me to express my condolences to the Tisch family and the Giants family in the best way I know, by stating simply, that Bob Tisch was a real Mensch in a world of saccharine personalities. I have lived a long and pretty good life. I have supped with janitors and dined with the politically and financially powerful. Coming from a background of Newark and its working class sentiments, guided and befriended by own brilliant father who, by choice, spent his life as a factory worker, I have come to respect, or not respect men based on how they interact and treat those around them.

Bob Tisch was a caring man, interested in everyone who touched him or came into his sphere of being. Just as Wellington Mara, he knew his place in the world. His expression of joie differed from Wellington, but his curiosity, his respect and his emotions came from the same rootstock. I first met Bob Tisch at a mini-camp, when he walked over to a group of us, writers and photographers, and asked how we thought the team was coming along; asked what we liked or not. There was an embarrassed shuffling and silence as none of us were about to point out to the team owner our opinions on the strength or weakness of his team. Finally, someone said to Mr. Tisch that his coaching staff might be the more appropriate people to answer his question. Mr. Tisch, without missing a beat, told us that he valued our opinion, as we were the guys watching the team go through its workouts, we were the guys who interacted with the players, and that he valued an independent opinion.

That day opened up a whole new appreciation for me of Mr. Tisch, or Mr. T as we called him. Here was a man, who by his own admission did not know all his players when he became an owner. Here was a man who was so self-effacing that he wanted to learn the game and the players, and those who covered the game and its players. And he was the same in every business he owned. He was often on the field, particularly at away games such as Washington. He was joyous when the team won, and crestfallen when it lost. He was expressive in a guarded way with those he knew, not by words, but by body language. We were friendly with his personal assistant and his pilot, and we met employees from his Hotel chain. There was nothing but praise and enthusiasm about the man, so unlike many things those who know them from a subordinate relationship say that about those in power. We would convey our messages of support to him and he would likewise respond through these people.

Bob Tisch was an owner, a businessman, a fan and a Mensch – a Giants’ Mensch. Just ask Cathy from Maine who spent a night discussing the Giants, and other matters, with Mr. Tisch in the lounge of the hotel in Albany. He was one of us, in a way in which few owners of any enterprise are one of the populi. I can tell you of at least one instance when a photographer was faced with a family emergency on the road. There was no way to catch a flight after the game to get home. Mr. Tisch put him on the team plane and got him back that night. When my brother-in-law passed away, I wrote to Mssrs. Mara and Tisch to express my profound gratitude for Michael Strahan’s visits and encouragement to him. I wanted them to know that their feelings about the Giants’ family had filtered down to their players. Both responded, but Bob Tisch did so almost immediately, expressing his own personal condolences and telling me of his own sense of loss over the death of his brother, which had occurred recently. Soon thereafter, it was made public that he, himself, was ill.

The kindness, the generosity, the humanity of Duke Mara and Bob Tisch are reminders of an age past. These were not “me” generation men. These were not men of limp personality. These were genuine men who stood tall and lived with the same passion as we do for this thing we all know as the NY Football Giants.

We are all the lesser for their passing.