New York Giants 2007 NFL Draft Review
Draft Pick Scouting Reports
Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports
Eric’s Take on the 2007 Draft
||Pick in Round
||CB Aaron Ross, University of Texas
||WR Steve Smith, USC
||DT Jay Alford, Penn State University
||LB Zak DeOssie, Brown University
||TE Kevin Boss, Western Oregon University
||LT Adam Koets, Oregon State University
||S Michael Johnson, University of Arizona
||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.