Oct 252005
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By David Oliver

It is a day we all knew was coming; it comes for each of us. That doesn’t make it any less sad. Notwithstanding the Irish tradition of sending a loved one on his way with celebration and telling of tales, I must take a moment to grieve for football, for fans of the game, for us as Giants fans and family. Each of us here has been born to the Blue. Wellington Mara was the essence of Blue. He was the owner of our team, but more than that, as we do, he cheered, he mourned, he angered, he reveled in the game and in his players. Mr. Mara was not perfect; no man is. But his last action as scion of the Giants speaks volumes of the man. He hired a coach in whom he believed; a Coach he hoped in his heart could bring us a return to the Glory Days of Giants football. It was his final gift to us.

Those of us who have reached a certain age cannot remember a time when there were no Giants; and concomitant with that remembrance, there was Wellington Mara. He, Mr. Rooney and Papa Bear Halas were the NFL. They were patricians and they were Gentlemen. In a violent world, in a violent sport, Wellington Mara and his cohorts maintained a sense of dignity, a style, and as my mother once told me, you have to know your place in the world; Wellington Mara knew his place. He sacrificed personal gain for the good of the sport and although the sport was good to him, there may not have been a sport without him.

I spoke very little with Mr. Mara. We would nod to each other, say hello or good morning and pass on our respective ways. But he knew I was a long time fan and he smiled at me a lot. He would smile and nod as he walked the field at mini-camp, or summer camp; he would nod and smile in the locker room after a Giants win; and he smiled and nodded that cold day in February as I was leaving the Meadowlands after interviewing a Coach and he was coming to work, walking into the Stadium alone.

He loved his team and his players and the team’s fans. Every day, at practice, when he was younger, he would pace up and down the field; later he would be stationary, but intent on watching every player, every play. Although not gregarious with strangers, he was not isolated. He would answer a question; sign an autograph, treat each fan as if he was, what we are, members of the Giants’ family. I have seen him sign autographs for young men and I have seen him sign autographs for fans wearing the jersey of another team. Everyone respected him, and he respected everyone.

The game is changing once again. The players are different, the owners are different, and the fans are different. With the coming of free agency, heroes come and go. In the age of entertainment, PSLs are the acronym of the day, the cost of taking a family of four to a game is astronomical. Players take pens out of their socks or cell phones from hidden places. But I remember a day when players and fans took the same subway to the stadium, when Frank Gifford regaled us with stories of Wellington Mara slipping enough C notes in his shoes to enable him to go home to California or buy a present for his family, and when Wellington Mara answered the cry of the fans to end the horrid days of the 60s and 70s and return football, Giants’ football, to its proper place.

But most of all, I will remember a courtly middle aged man as he, and I, aged, walking the field before his players arrived, watching every practice, nodding and smiling in my direction. As he always thought of us as family, we likewise count him in our families. So for a moment we will grieve; then we will celebrate a life well lived. Thank you, Mr. Mara, and God Speed on your final journey.

Jul 212005
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New York Giants 2005 NFL Draft Review

Draft Pick Scouting Reports
Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports
Eric’s Take on the 2005 Draft

Round Pick in Round Overall Selection Player Selected
2 11 43 CB Corey Webster, LSU
3 10 74 DE Justin Tuck, Notre Dame
4 9 110 RB Brandon Jacobs, Southern Illinois
6 12 186 DE Eric Moore, Florida State

2005 Draft Pick Scouting Reports

2nd Round – CB Corey Webster (6-0, 199lbs, 4.55, LSU)

Scouting Report: Webster played at wide receiver for LSU in 2001. He was converted to cornerback in 2002 and saw time mostly in nickel packages. However, he finished the season with 36 tackles, 17 pass breakups, and 7 interceptions. Webster started all 14 games in 2003 and was credited with 45 tackles, 25 pass breakups, and 7 interceptions. He got hurt in the first game of the 2004 season and played hurt most of the season with knee and turf toe injuries. In 2004, Webster started 10-of-11 games and was credited with 33 tackles, 9 pass breakups, and 2 interceptions. Webster was rated as one of the top cornerbacks in the country entering the 2004 season before he got hurt. His play suffered due to the injuries but he showed toughness by continuing to play. Webster has good size and is a good athlete. He is instinctive and has a nose for the football as indicated by the high number of pass breakups and interceptions he has accrued in three seasons. Has excellent hands for the interception – Webster plays the ball like a wide receiver. Not a burner, but he has good speed and is quick, smooth, and fluid in coverage. Can stay with most wide receivers deep. Webster plays tight man-to-man coverage well, being very aggressive and physical. He also performs well in zone coverage, where he makes a lot of plays on the football. He needs to improve his footwork and technique. While he is a decent tackler who flashes the ability to be a good hitter and tackler, Webster needs to improve in this department and become more consistent. Competitive player. Struggled somewhat at the Senior Bowl, but he still was not 100 percent healthy (knee and toe).

Media Q&A With Director of Player Personnel Jerry Reese:

Q: Where you sold at his workout?

A: I was sold. At his workout there were a lot of defensive back coaches there. The complex where they workout was packed with people and when I left the workout I had my head down, like there was no way this guy was going to be there when we pick. The guy was brilliant at his workout. He walked in and said, ‘Guys, I was hurt all season. I’m 100% today and what you see is what you get.’ He was spectacular in his workout.

Q: What made him spectacular?

A: First of all, he got out there and ran fast. He ran fast for us and then all the drills, the ball drills and change of direction drills, all of them were spectacular and he looked outstanding. He looked big and strong.

Q: What were his injuries?

A: He had a number of injuries. I’d have to look at the medical report but he had a number of injuries during the season. I think he got hurt in the first game of the season. We had scouts going there early on and they were like, ‘Wow, this guy is really something.’ In training camp before the season started, Jeremiah Davis, our scout, he went down early on and he was like, ‘Wow!’ Then the guy got hurt early in the season, probably the first game of the season and missed a game, a couple games, I think he missed them after the first game, I’m not sure exactly how it went. But he was dinged the whole season. You watched a hurt player for most of the season. We feel fortunate to get a guy of this caliber where we picked.

Q: You think he’s injury prone?

A: I don’t think he’s injury prone. I just think the guy, as a sophomore he played and had seven interceptions. He had seven interceptions as a junior and only two as a senior. I don’t think he’s injury prone, he has played through it. You have to like his toughness for playing through an injury like that. He had some significant injuries so I think he’s a tough kid, number one, and you have to like guys who have played through injuries like that.

RE: Injuries.

A: I just know that he had three or four things that he was dinged up with that he tried to play through during his senior year. Again, when you’re evaluating the guy, you’re evaluating a hurt player.

Q: Why do you think he lasted that long?

A: I don’t think that there is any doubt that it was the injury concern that scared people off because again, you go back and look after his junior year and this kid is a top ten pick. It’s a slam dunk. If he comes out as a junior, he’s a top ten pick. A size, speed corner with seven interceptions and played like he played his junior year, it’s shocking that he didn’t come out at the time. If he played to the caliber that he played as a junior, he’s probably right up there, actually he’s probably better than the corner that got picked from Miami, Rolle, and of course, he’s five inches taller than PacMan. So this guy has value if he was still the same as he was as a junior. We’re very fortunate to get the guy. There is no question in my mind.

Media Q&A With Head Coach Tom Coughlin:

Q: What were the qualities that made you select Corey?

A: He had 16 interceptions, outstanding hands. He was a receiver when he was recruited. He played a year as a third or fourth receiver. As you know, he had an outstanding year in 2003 on their National Championship team. And had he decided to come out then, he would have been a top-15 pick and that is the exciting thing here. The one thing that I think that Corey showed all throughout his senior year, this last year, is the fact that he played hurt. Mentally he geared himself up after having been injured in really the first game of the year. He played as well as he could play throughout the season. His workout was outstanding; he answered any questions whatsoever were about whether or not he was fully recovered. When you sit there trying to plan the 43rd and you spend your week as you always do, bracketing players, who would you pick here. We had set this player aside because we had him ranked in the first round. If he along with a couple of other people might possibly fall forward into the second round, then we would be in a great position to have a player who would make a difference on our team and it just so happens that we did have that opportunity.

Q: How do you think he would fit into your defense on the inside or the outside?

A: I think he plays best as a corner on the outside, he does an extremely good job in the press position. As I said, he has a knack for locating the ball in the air, exceptional hands, can make the soft catch despite the fact that he is surprised by the ball. I see him in that way. At this point in and time, I don’t know that I see him in the slot in the third down package, but we hope obviously that he is going to make a contribution. We will know more when we have an opportunity to see him in the mini-camp.

Q: Do you think the 5-yard rule will affect his play and where do you think he fits in?

A: Quite frankly, I think he fits in anywhere, but he is very good in the press, he can get up at the line of scrimmage. He is very athletic. He is one of the taller corners that you see and I think he can play either up, he can play off. I don’t think the rules are going to be a factor. That is not the style he plays with. In other words, he is not one of those guys that tries to force contact at the 5-, 6-, 7-yard area that you see a lot of the college corners do to try to knock people off. No, I don’t think that is the way he plays.

Q: What made him attractive to the Giants?

A: The fact that he has had really an exceptional collegiate career and that he does have height, speed, size and the ball catching ability, I think makes him very attractive.

Q: Considering how late you picked, did you think a player with his talent with be available?

A: It was a very fortunate thing, as I said. There were a couple of other players that entered into that conversation also, but we had our eye on this for quite some time. As it developed, you can’t help but know that in the bottom of that first and then through those picks at the top of the second round, knowing full well that most people agree that the corner or the defensive wing position was a strong position. As you looked, three quarters of the teams in the league have that listed as a need, you have to say boy are we going to get to this spot and we were fortunate that it happened that way.

Media Conference Call With CB Corey Webster:

Q: How do you feel about coming to the Giants?

A: I feel great about it. I came down on my visit and really got comfortable with the coaches, had a good sit-down and meeting with them and I feel good.

Q: The Giants are saying that if you had came out after your junior year you would have been a top 15 pick, how come you stayed?

A: I didn’t think I was ready. I stayed to further my education and got a degree. I stayed for those reasons and also because I liked the team camaraderie. There was no need for me to come out in a rush or anything like that. I stayed in and I think it worked for the best and now I’m with the Giants.

Q: Did you ever think you made a mistake after you got injured early this year?

A: No, sir. I was always taught to not have any regrets. I didn’t regret anything. I just know everything happens for a reason. I strongly believe that. I just think everything took its course and it worked itself out for the best.

Q: Can you talk about the nature of your injuries?

A: I had a PCL that kind of gave me a drop foot. That was the biggest thing that I had and a drop foot that didn’t allow me to plant quite like I wanted to so it slowed me down. It slowed me down a few steps. For pro day when they came to work me out, I was just so happy to be healthy again. I went out and did my very best and a lot of people were really impressed with how I performed on my pro day. That was really the biggest injury the drop foot.

Q: Was the drop foot caused by the PCL problem?

A: Yes, sir. I had a sprained PCL, nothing major but the little swelling that I did have in my knee gave me a drop foot. It kind of compressed my nerves.

Q: Did you have an elbow injury?

A: No, sir.

Q: Did the PCL bother you the whole year pretty much?

A: Yes, sir, the whole year. What it really did was give me a drop foot and I couldn’t plant like I wanted to. I couldn’t plant strong because I would roll my ankle. So I really had to watch how I was planting. It kind of slowed me down a few steps. I’ve been working on it with the trainers at LSU and it has gotten back to where it needs to be. I couldn’t raise my foot up or down. I had no control whatsoever of my foot. That was my right foot.

RE: Coach Coughlin

A: I met Coach Coughlin when I came there on my visit. I just know he’s a real nice guy, kind of a Coach Saban type guy, because he demands excellence from you. I think that will give me an edge because I’ve been under Coach Saban and he’s one of those guys, hard-nosed, get-after-you and wants the best out of his players.

Q: When you left your workout did you think you had shown enough to get into the first round?

A: I just knew I had to go out and do my very best at my workout and everything else would take its course. I had to do what I could, which was my very best at everything that I could control. I could control the workout and I went out and I had a great workout but I didn’t control the draft. I just did whatever I could with the things I could control. I had no control over the draft but I thought I did pretty good.

3rd Round – DE Justin Tuck (6-5, 268lbs, 4.71, Notre Dame)

Scouting Report: Tuck is a junior entry who excels as a pass rusher. Owns Notre Dame’s career sack record with 24.5 sacks. In 2002, he served as a pass-rush specialist in nickel and dime packages, accruing 44 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, and 5 sacks. Tuck started 10-of-12 games in 2003, totaling 73 tackles, 19 tackles for a loss, and 13.5 sacks. However, he tore the ACL in his right knee in the 2003 season finale and underwent reconstructive surgery in December 2003. He started all 11 regular season games in 2004, accruing 47 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, and 6 sacks. Tuck missed Notre Dame’s bowl game due to swelling in his right knee. Tuck is a very athletic linemen with very good initial quickness. Very agile. He is a good pass rusher who can pressure the edge with his quickness and speed. Tuck has a variety of pass rush moves. Closes on the quarterback in a hurry. Against the run, he can play with leverage and stack the point-of-attack, but he needs to shed more quickly. Tuck can penetrate and disrupt, however he needs to get stronger.

What General Manager Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “Justin Tuck was part of our second-round discussion. He had a big junior year. He had 24½ sacks in three years, 13 in his junior year, six this year. He came out early. We really helped our defense. We helped our defense somewhat during free agency, but we really helped our offense. Today we added a pass rusher and a cover corner, so we really helped our defense. Defensive ends, obviously, are hard to find. We don’t have a lot of depth there. This gives us another end.”

What Head Coach Tom Coughlin Had to Say: “He is a guy that we recognize as an outstanding talent. He had 13½ sacks a year ago. The interesting thing about the kid is that he tore his ACL the last game of the year in ’03 and in the second game of the year last season against Michigan he had two sacks. He’s a tough kid and an exceptional athlete. He was a high-scoring basketball player and an exceptional athlete in high school. He’s an Alabama kid who went to Notre Dame and was their MVP this year. He has outstanding leadership skills. We think Tuck has a tremendous upside. We look for him to be a guy who has the toughness to play the run and he has a real upside as a pass rusher. Anybody can look at our depth chart. We wanted quality and we really did have this kid earmarked prior to the draft. We were wondering if he would last to this point. We’re happy that he did. He has played either side. That’s the way they played him. Whether or not he does that for us, who knows? We’ll see. You really need for a young guy to settle in and understand what you want him to learn from one spot. If we had our druthers, we’d start off that way.”

What DE Justin Tuck Had to Say: “It feels great to have an opportunity to work with Coach Coughlin and his staff and play alongside one of the best defensive ends to ever play the game in Strahan and learn some things from him. I’m very excited. Not to mention the city of New York and the market it provides. It’s a great opportunity for me and my family and I’m very excited. I didn’t come up for a visit but the staff and the D-line coach were at my pro day and they only had great reviews of me. We had a great conversation and I got a pretty good feeling of what type of people they were. Just talking to (defensive line) coach (Mike) Waufle at the pro day, he basically told me that if I was around for the second round he was going to fight his ass to get me. I kind of figure once I didn’t get drafted in the first round, I’d have a great opportunity as far as being a Giant.”

4th Round – HB Brandon Jacobs (6-4, 267lbs, 4.56, Southern Illinois)

Scouting Report: Jacobs originally signed with Auburn coming out of high school but was ruled academically ineligible. He attended Coffeyville College in 2001, where he rushed for 1,349 yards and 17 touchdowns. In 2002, he carried the ball 267 times for 1,896 yards and 20 touchdowns. He then transferred to Auburn where he found himself stuck behind Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown (both high first round draft picks). At Auburn, he rushed the ball 72 times for 446 yards and 3 touchdowns. Jacobs then transferred to Southern Illinois and in 2004 he carried the ball 150 times for 992 yards and 19 touchdowns. Jacobs was named the MVP of the Gridiron Classic college all-star game. Jacobs is a positively huge running back with surprising speed, agility, and balance for his size. He lacks ideal initial quickness and acceleration so he needs the play to be initially well-blocked in order to get going. Runs hard and can pound the football between the tackles. He will run over smaller defenders. Jacobs can bounce the play outside. Jacobs has decent vision and is competitive. He does need to play with better (i.e., lower) pad level. Because of his long legs, Jacobs can be tripped up by leg tackles. He has the size and demeanor to be a good blocker. Has good hands, but Jacobs needs a lot of work in the passing game in terms of running routes.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “The player that I got the most exited over in the two days is Brandon Jacobs. The biggest worry that I had was any time you have to sleep on it, you start looking at the board, size and speed usually catches people’s eyes. I was worried sick that he was going to get picked…we did not draft him as a fullback. He is a halfback. He is a one-back halfback. Obviously he has short-yardage specialization. But he can play anywhere on the field. It gives us a big back who can run. That was an important pick to us…(He is) a legitimate halfback, not as a short yardage specialist…He can run. At 267 pounds he has tremendous speed. He averages 6.6 yards per carry, 19 touchdowns. He gained 992 yards on a rotation. I don’t know what their record was, but they had two transfers and all-pro players. So he never really got a chance to get a lot of statistics, but his average speaks for itself and touchdowns. He can catch the ball…When you see his body, you will see he doesn’t need to lose any weight. It looks to me like an ideal weight for him. He has a chiseled frame. He is not soft in any way.”

What Head Coach Tom Coughlin Had to Say: “He is a big, strong, powerful guy. He had a lot of numbers where ever he played. Lots of yardage. Obviously the 19 touchdowns, the short-yardage. You could see the short yardage goal-line power. I think there is more to him than just that, but that is a nice starting point. A guy that is 267 pounds, runs under 4.7, catches the ball, has had some kickoff returns in his past. A kid who I think has enough versatility but is a good starting place and as I said, with Derrick Ward, who will play at 235, 238 and then Mike Cloud, with his experience and the way we saw Mike in the short yardage package last year against Minnesota, I think Brandon fits in nicely and compliments the group that we have…He is a north-south guy. He is not an east-west guy. He can take the ball outside. That was demonstrated in the all-star game.”

Media Conference Call With HB Brandon Jacobs:

Q: What are your thoughts on being picked by the Giants?

A: I love it. I keep up with the New York Giants. I have two friends that play there in Corey Webster, who just got drafted, and Reggie Torbor. It’s a pretty good thing and I’m very excited about it and I can’t wait for it to start.

Q: How do you know Reggie?

A: I played at Auburn with Reggie.

Q: Do you know much about the Giants’ needs, they’ve been looking for a short yardage back for a couple years now?

A: I know Ron Dayne is now with Denver and I know he was really the only big guy that they had there. Short yardage, long yardage whatever the situation maybe, I just want to get the job done. I was just talking to someone and they said, ‘The Giants haven’t been able to get a third-and-1 in a long time,’ so this will stop finally because I will not be denied one yard.

Q: What do you weigh now?

A: I weigh 267. The same I weighed at the combine.

Q: Who told you the Giants haven’t gotten a third-and-1 in a long time?

A: Someone I just spoke to. It wasn’t one of the coaches, I can’t remember. He told me and it was kind of funny because I know the Giants have. It’s just an honor to be able to come to New York and put on that blue uniform and go to work.

Q: What led you to going to Southern Illinois?

A: I considered staying at Auburn behind those guys. It’s just that when I got there those guys were already there and established. I tried to stay there and coach didn’t want me to redshirt because he felt I was already into my college career. So he wasn’t going to redshirt me. So I made the decision to leave.

Q: Did they want to switch your position at one point?

A: Well, they tried and I actually tried. I was there for whatever they wanted me to do. But they didn’t like it and it didn’t work out. So me and Coach Tubbs sat down in his office and we made the decision that I should leave.

Q: When did they try, was it linebacker they tried to switch you to?

A: They tried linebacker and it was during the bowl preparation. I gave it a shot. It was a one game thing during the 2-3 weeks between the bowl game.

Q: Is there more to your game than just being a short yardage back?

A: Yes, there is most definitely more to my game. I think, as far as just being a short yardage back, I’m going to surprise a lot of people when they only ask for one yard and I take it the distance.

Q: What makes you good at short yardage?

A: When I know it’s short yardage I don’t pitter-patter behind the line of scrimmage. I know the down and distance. I know where I have to go so I get the rock and I barrel down and I just get in. Just one person won’t stop me from getting what I want. It’s going to be a couple people.

Q: Have you kept in touch with Ronnie and Carnell?

A: I talked to Ronnie just about 15 minutes ago. Ronnie is very happy. He just flew in from Miami so he’s back in Atlanta. Ronnie is a great guy. Carnell is a great guy. I’m glad for both of those guys because both of those guys deserve it. I’m glad both of them went so high so people could see that I didn’t have any problems at Auburn. Because a lot of people did think I did…I’m just really glad those guys were picked so high and rated so high so they can see why I really left.

6th Round – DE Eric Moore (6-4, 260lbs, 4.81, Florida State)

Scouting Report: Moore emerged as a starter at right defensive end for the Seminoles in 2003 when he finished the season with 25 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, and 7.5 sacks. He also had 15 quarterback hurries, 5 pass breakups, and 1 interception. Moore started four games at right defensive end in 2004 before spraining his left ankle and missing the next three contests. He returned to start the final five games and finished the season with 17 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, 8 quarterback pressures, 3 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery. Moore is an athletic player with good quickness, agility, balance, and speed. He is a solid pass rusher who can pressure off the edge and close on the quarterback in a hurry. Needs to develop pass rush moves. Moore lacks and ideal lower base and struggles to hold his ground at the point-of-attack against the run. He flashes ability to play with strength and leverage, but he usually plays too high – needs a lot of solid coaching and technique work. He needs to use his hands better in order to shed more quickly. Moore can play in space and may be able to play some 3-4 outside linebacker. However, he did poorly on the Wonderlic intelligence test at the NFL Combine.

What General Manager Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “In body structure and style there is not a lot difference between Moore and Tuck, big tall guys that have a lot of room to grow weight wise who are pass rushers. There are very similar in the way they play and what they look like…He is very much a pass rusher. The run stopping is crucial. That is obvious. And these guys have had a lot of tackles. But I have always been a believer, since I came into this league, that the guys who hit the home runs are the pass rushers on defense. You are not going to be able to compete if you don’t get to the passer.”

What Head Coach Tom Coughlin Had to Say: “Another guy that is a pass rusher. He played in an outstanding defense, an aggressive defensive scheme. He had eight sacks a year ago. He had one of those ‘high ankle’ deals this year. He played through it; played with it; he actually had two of them. We worked him out, he worked out very well. He ran well. His numbers were good; his gym numbers were real good coming out of the combine. His 10-yard time was very good. His short-area quickness was outstanding. I think he will be a guy – he is a muscular guy right now but he has enough height that he can put some weight on. His value for us in that round at that time was outstanding. We really couldn’t go any further. We just thought that that value drew us right to him.”

Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports

HB Ryan Grant (6-1, 215lbs, 4.47, Notre Dame): Ten teams were interested in Grant including the Vikings, Dolphins, Patriots, Packers, and Seahawks. Grant rotated with several backs as a starter at Notre Dame (he was also limited early in the season with a strained hamstring). He carried the ball 127 times for 515 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2004. Finished his career ranked 11th in school history with 2,220 rushing yards. He was the 13th Notre Dame player to run for 2,000 yards. Grant is a big back who is a good inside runner. A slasher with good vision and balance. Not very elusive and lacks ideal initial quickness. Aggressive and physical between the tackles, Grant will slam the ball up inside by dropping his shoulder and running through tacklers. Not a fumbler. Willing blocker, but he needs to improve in this area. Can catch the ball and has been productive on screen passes. Grant played well in the East-West Shrine Game. He was named the “New Jersey Player of the Year” in 2000 by USA Today. Grant played at Don Bosco Prep High School in Ramsey, N.J, a short distance from Giants Stadium.

HB Mike Jemison (5-11, 230lbs, 4.64, University of Indiana-PA): Jemison began his college career at the University of Pittsburgh, where he played in nine games as a backup halfback and fullback in 2001. Pittsburgh moved him to outside linebacker in 2002. In 2003, he transferred to Indiana University (PA). In 2003, he accrued 1,311 yards and 12 touchdowns on 220 carries. In 2004, he rushed 103 times for 456 yards and 2 touchdowns in the first four games of the season, but then was sidelined with a broken leg. Jemison is a big, tough inside runner with good balance. He lacks ideal speed, but he has some elusiveness to his game. Lacks ideal initial quickness. Not a fumbler. Decent blocker.

WR Brandon Smith (6-1, 197lbs, 4.38, Vanderbilt): The Titans, Packers, Bills, Texans, and Eagles expressed interest in Smith. Caught 108 passes for 1,497 yards and 5 touchdowns during his four years at Vanderbilt. In 2004, he recorded 41 receptions for 553 yards and three touchdowns. As a junior, had a career-high 595 receiving yards on 39 receptions and scored two touchdowns.

WR Charles Frederick (5-11, 194lbs, 4.81, Washington): Frederick started 9-of-12 games in 2003, catching 59 passes for 831 yards and 5 touchdowns. He also returned 29 punts for 340 yards and 1 touchdown and 11 kickoffs for 202 yards. In 2004, Frederick was limited with a hamstring injury, playing in only five games. He caught 17 passes for 253 yards and 1 touchdown. He also returned 13 kickoffs for 236 yards. Frederick lacks ideal size and speed (ran poorly at the NFL Combine), but he is athletic with good quickness. Has a knack for getting separation from defenders and getting open. Frederick is tough and will go over the middle, take a big hit, and hold onto the ball. Has good hands and is a good runner after the catch – dangerous in the open field. He is a good punt and kick returner. Frederick needs to improve his work ethic. Scored poorly on the Wonderlic intelligence test.

TE Darius Williams (6-5, 262lbs, 4.95, Georgia Tech): Georgia Tech’s blocking tight end. Started 12-of-24 games for the Yellow Jackets. Williams finished his collegiate career with nine receptions for 118 yards. He caught 6 passes for 81 yards as a senior and 3 catches for 37 yards as a junior.

TE Wade Fletcher (6-7, 243lbs, Columbia University): Fletcher was a two-time All-Ivy League tight end at Columbia University, where he transferred from Northern Colorado. He sat out the 2002 season because of NCAA transfer regulations. Fletcher had 1,449 receiving yards in two seasons at Columbia. He had his best season in 2003, when his 874 receiving yards led the nation’s tight ends. It was the fifth-highest single-season total in school history. Fletcher scored nine touchdowns that season. In 2004, Fletcher played in eight games and led the Lions with 52 catches for 575 yards and two scores. Fletcher is a quality pass-receiving-type with find speed and good hands. However, because Fletcher is a converted wide receiver who lacks bulk, he needs to dramatically improve his blocking if he is to make it in the NFL.

OT Kyle Wallace (6-5, 305lbs, 5.32, Georgia Tech): Wallace has some experience at left tackle, but he played mostly right tackle at Georgia Tech. Has good size with long arms. Hard-working lineman who plays with good technique. As a run blocker, Wallace needs to add strength and play with better leverage – does not create much movement at the line of scrimmage. He can block at the second level. More finesse than mauler – not aggressive. Decent pass protector with quick feet, but lacks ideal agility and can have some problems with quick changes of direction. Struggles picking up stunts. Usually does a good job of keeping his man away from the quarterback.

OT Myniya Smith (6-7, 325lbs, Southern University): Smith is a 6-7, 325-pound left tackle from Southern University. He was first-team All-SWAC as a junior, when he started all 13 games. Last year, he started all 10 games in which he played at left tackle. Smith was signed by the Houston Texans as a rookie free agent after the 2005 NFL Draft, but the Texans waived him in June.

OG Alex Bell (6-3, 330lbs, 5.15, Hobart): Bell was a four-year starter at guard for Hobart. He did not allow a sack in his final two seasons. As a senior last year, he was named to three All-America teams, including the American Football Coaches Association and D3football.com first-teams. In an individual workout, Bell was timed at 5.15 in the 40, registered a vertical of 31 inches, and had 27 reps on the bench press at 225 pounds.

OC/OG Andrew Tidwell-Neal (6-3, 310lbs, 5.41, Georgia Tech): Two-year starter on the offensive line, as well as one of Georgia Tech’s 2004 captains. Tidwell-Neal is a smart, tough, competitive player. Versatile – played guard as a junior and center as a senior. However, he is not very athletic and plays smaller than his listed size. Has short arms. Tidwell-Neal does not get much movement in his run blocks. He is a position blocker who is more finesse than mauler. Not really a good puller or blocker at the second level. As a pass protector, he lacks quick feet and lateral agility. Has problems anchoring against power as well. Overachiever.

DE Adrian Awasom (6-4, 279lbs, 5.01, North Texas): Awasom was a three-year starter at North Texas. Very productive. Accrued 41 tackles, 8 tackles for a loss, and 8 sacks in 2002; 44 tackles, 7 tackles for a loss, and 4 sacks in 2003; and 52 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss and 6 sacks in 2004. Also finished with 5 pass breakups, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries in 2004. Two-time All-Sun Belt selection. Has nice combination of size and athleticism. Has long arms and is quick and agile. Can be stout at the point of attack when he uses proper technique. Can play with leverage but tends to play too high. Awasom sheds well but needs to do so more consistently amd use his hands better. Works hard to push the pocket and get to the quarterback. Tips a lot of passes at the line of scrimmage. Not an explosive rusher – lacks first-step quickness – but he closes quickly. Still learning the game. Needs to become a more dedicated worker.

DE Bret Eddins (6-4, 269lbs, 4.85, Auburn): Eddins started all 13 games in 2004 and finished the season with 20 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss, and 2 sacks. He has good size, but has short arms and is not overly athletic. Eddins is a blue-collar, over-achiever. Very competitive and plays with a passion. Has good instincts. Eddins needs to play with better leverage – he plays too tall at times. Eddins struggles to shed blocks. Not a pass rusher. Camp fodder.

DE/LB Derek Wake (6-3, 239lbs, 4.66, Penn State): Wake played mostly linebacker at Penn State, but saw some time at defensive end. He finished his collegiate career with 191 total tackles, 8.5 sacks, and 24 tackles for losses. As a senior, Wake started 10 games and recorded 58 tackles, four tackles for losses, one sack, a fumble recovery, and a forced fumble. He rotated with another linebacker as a senior, limiting his production. In 2003, Wake posted his best season, with 71 tackles, four sacks, and eight tackles for loss. Wake was an athletic strongside linebacker with a good size/speed combination. Looks the part. Lacks some agility in terms of changing directions quickly. He has good strength to hold up at the point-of-attack. Flashes the ability to play with leverage and shed. Needs to use his hands better to shed more quickly, gets hung up on blocks. Good hitter and tackler. Has the ability to cover running backs and tight ends in man coverage on short routes; drops smoothly in zone coverage and breaks fast on the ball. Has the tools to be an NFL starter, but does not look instinctive.

DT Jonas Seawright (6-5, 325lbs, 5.31, North Carolina): Seawright started 6-of-12 games in 2003 and finished 10 tackles and 3 blocked kicks. He was named his team’s outstanding defensive lineman in 2004 for he started all 12 games and accrued 29 tackles, 2 passes defensed, and a blocked kick. Team captain in 2004 as well. Seawright is a big tackle with fairly good athleticism for his size. Has very long arms. Can 2-gap, but he needs to play with greater leverage – Seawright plays too high. Needs to shed blockers more quickly. Flashes power, but is not very quick or agile. Seawright has had weight issues with his weight sometimes nearing 350lbs.

MLB Joe Scott (6-2, 240, 4.50, Jackson State): Scott played his final two seasons at Jackson State, compiling 168 tackles, one fumble recovery, four pass breakups, and 2.5 sacks in 18 games played. As a senior, Scott recorded 129 tackles with 6.5 for losses, three pass breakups, and two sacks. Named All-Southwestern Athletic Conference first team in 2004.

LB Chase Blackburn (6-3, 247lbs, 4.80, Akron): Blackburn was a three year starter at Akron, playing both at linebacker and defensive end. He was named all-conference linebacker as a junior. Blackburn spent his senior season playing the “bandit” – a hybrid between the linebacker and defensive end positions. Voted a team captain. Finished the 2004 season with 71 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, and 5 sacks. Blackburn has good size for a linebacker, but he is not overly athletic. A bit on the stiff side. Plays hard. Plays well at the point-of-attack. OK in zone coverage but lacks the athletic tools to man up.

CB Ahmad Rashad Treaudo (5-10, 181lbs, 4.37, Southern): Treaudo started and ended his career at Southern, with a stop at Division II Delta State in-between. He did not start until the fourth game of his senior season, but still managed to lead the nation with nine interceptions for 166 return yards and a touchdown. Treaudo also finished the season with 28 tackles, a fumble recovery, and four passes defensed. He lacks ideal size, but he is quick and fluid with good speed. Raw – Treaudo will need a ton of solid coaching and technique work.

CB Michael Bragg (6-0, 190lbs, 4.42, Texas A&M-Kingsville): First Team All-Lone Star Conference. Bragg finished the 2004 season with 25 tackles, 9 pass breakups, 3 interceptions, 1 blocked kick, and 1 fumble recovery.

CB Antwain Spann (6-1, 185lbs, 4.48, Louisiana-Lafayette): Spann played his final two seasons at Louisiana-Lafayette after transferring from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Has experience at both free safety and cornerback. In 2004, Spann started all 11 games and had 68 tackles (36 solo), a team-high four interceptions (including one he returned 31 yards for a touchdown), 1.5 tackles for losses, and nine pass breakups. He also returned four kickoffs for 109 yards, a 27.2-yard average. Spann was also invited to partipate in the Colts’ mini-camp at the end of April. Athletic and aggressive. Good tackler.

SS Diamond Ferri (5-10, 223lbs, 4.63, Syracuse): Ferri came close to signing with the Texans. Starting strong safety for Syracuse in 2003, registering 120 tackles, 5 pass breakups, 2 interceptions, and 1 sack. In 2004, he accrued 99 tackles, 6 pass breakups, 4 interceptions, 6 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. Returned 24 kickoffs for 653 yards. Played some running back for Syracuse. Ferri lacks ideal height, but he is well-built. He is a good athlete with quick feet. Moves well in space. Ferri can stick with backs and tight ends and makes plays on the ball in front of him. However, he lacks the agility necessary to cover slot receivers in man coverage – loses a step in transition. Does not make plays on the deep outside pass (2-Deep coverage) as he is slow to read and react to the play. Has good hands for the interception. Inconsistent player against both the run and the pass, but he is still learning. Needs a lot of technique work and solid coaching. Not always consistently aggressive or focused. Flashes ability to make plays against the run as a big hitter, but he still misses too many tackles. Has experience as a kick and punt returner. Could surprise. Poor Wonderlic intelligence test score. Became the first player in Big East history to earn Offense and Defensive Player of the Week honors in the same game after rushing for 142 yards and two touchdowns and scoring on a 44-yard interception against Boston College.

FS James Butler (6-2, 213lbs, 4.61, Georgia Tech): The Cardinals, Titans, Cowboys, and Bills were interested in signing Butler, a two-year starter at free safety for Georgia Tech. Butler was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back as a senior in 2004, when he was named first-team All-ACC for the second straight season. In 2003, he registered 119 tackles, 6 pass breakups, 3 forced fumbles, and 5 interceptions. In 2004, he recorded 85 tackles, 4 pass breakups, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, and 1 blocked field goal. He has excellent size and good athleticism. However, Butler lacks ideal speed. Butler is a much better pass defender than run defender. He has quick feet and closes on the ball well. Can stick with a receiver in man coverage and reads the opposing quarterback well in zone coverage. Needs technique work to improve his footwork. Sometimes gets fooled on play-action. Has good hands for the interception. But Butler is a soft player in run support. He is not physical or aggressive enough in this area. Seems to avoid contact at times and is not a strong tackler.

The following players were invited to Giants’ rookie-mini-camp, but have not been officially signed:

QB Matt LoVecchio (6-3, 218lbs, 4.78, Indiana): LoVecchio, a transfer from Notre Dame and a two-year starter for the Hoosiers, completed nearly 57 percent of his passes for 1,951 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2004. In 2003, he started 11 games for the Hoosiers in 2003, completing 155-of-291 passes for 1,778 yards and three touchdowns.

WR Marvin Young (6-0, 165lbs, 4.71, Southern Mississippi): Young ended his collegiate career ranking third on Southern Mississippi’s career list with 17 receiving touchdowns, 115 receptions and 1,717 receiving yards. He was hampered most of his senior season by a serious turf toe injury. He enjoyed his best season as a junior in 2003 when he finished with 42 receptions for 703 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 16.7 yards per catch. Young also returned 33 punts for 450 yards, including an 87-yard touchdown run against Memphis.

WR Andy Bertrand (6-2, 195lbs, McNeese State): To be provided if signed.

TE Jocques Dumas (6-6, 263lbs, North Carolina): To be provided if signed.

OG Brian Kovolisky (6-7, 295lbs, Vanderbilt): To be provided if signed.

OG Brandon Harston (6-2, 300lbs, Minnesota): To be provided if signed.

DT Aaris Johnson (6-4, 320lbs, Morgan State): Johnson is a huge player and was one of the best players in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Has good quickness and strength. In 2004, he accrued 40 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss, and 2.5 sacks.

LB Dwan Wilson (6-3, 229lbs, Alcorn State): To be provided if signed.

S Zachary Barnett (6-2, 200lbs, Arkansas-Pine Bluff): To be provided if signed.

Eric’s Take on the 2005 Draft

It is difficult to analyze the Giants’ 2005 NFL draft without taking into account the impact of the 2004 Eli Manning trade. That trade had two important ramifications in the 2005 offseason: (1) the Giants were without their 1st and 5th round picks in the draft, and (2) because the Giants did not have to worry about signing a 1st rounder, they had more money to spend in free agency.

Ultimately, the 2004 and 2005 drafts will be judged on the future performance of Manning. The Giants spent two #1’s, a #3, a #5, and missed out on trading down with the Browns in 2004 for another #2 (according to Ernie Accorsi) on Manning. To justify that price, Manning has to develop into a perennial Pro Bowler and/or win an NFL Championship. As expected, Manning struggled as a rookie, but flashed ability late in the season. He is likely to experience more growing pains in 2005, but he will be helped by a much stronger supporting cast (assuming the Giants can stay relatively healthy). It will be interesting to see how good he can become and how fast that can happen.

The 2005 free agency class may end up being the best the team has had since the advent of free agency. If you saw my 2005 Free Agency and the Giants article, you know that I had Kareem McKenzie rated as the top offensive lineman available and Plaxico Burress rated as the top wide receiver available. I also had Antonio Pierce rated very highly at linebacker. Throw in PK Jay Feely, and this is an extremely impressive haul. (DT Kendrick Clancy is more of a stop-gap player). McKenzie, Burress, and Pierce are all young players who are still improving. I firmly believe each has Pro Bowl potential. McKenzie has received the least press, but may be the most important signing. His presence dramatically changes the very nature of the Giants’ offensive line, and therefore the entire offense. By playing him, a power player, right next to Chris Snee, another power player, the Giants have altered the persona of the line from more of a finesse, position-based group to a smash-mouth group. The Giants are going to maul some opposing defenses up front now.

Burress was another key signing because he is a very tall receiver who can get deep and stretch the opposing defense. Amani Toomer, even in his prime, was never able to consistently do that. Ike Hilliard (who was waived) was never a down-the-field guy. Burress should open things up for TE Jeremy Shockey and Toomer underneath. He should also develop into a big-play weapon for Manning, a quarterback who throws a beautifully accurate deep ball.

While ideally the Giants may have wanted to continue to upgrade the talent on the offensive line, their only true pressing need on offense heading into the 2005 NFL Draft was to find a power halfback to complement Tiki Barber. The Giants hope they have found that guy in 4th rounder Brandon Jacobs. Jacobs is a positively huge back with surprisingly nifty feet for someone so big. The big concern with him is his initial acceleration out of his stance. Since he is a bigger guy, it takes him a bit longer to get to full speed than most backs. This could be a problem in today’s game where defenses like to take chances and penetrate rather than 2-gap up front. But once Jacobs gets going, look out! This man can build up an impressive head of steam and run over people. Interestingly, the Giants feel Jacobs is a better prospect than the much smaller, but more heralded Ciatrick Fason, who was taken later in the 4th round. Time will tell.

The big concern for me heading into the 2005 NFL Draft was defense, and I was glad to see the Giants spend three-out-of-four picks on that side of the ball. The Giants’ arguably have the worst defense in the division right now. The Redskins dominated on defense last season and even though they lost MLB Antonio Pierce and CB Fred Smoot, they will have LB LaVar Arrington back and they did draft a top-ranked corner, Carlos Rogers, high in the first round. As much attention as Philadelphia gets from the media and the fans for their offensive players, it is their defense that has enabled them to win four NFC East titles in a row (not to mention the four Pro Bowlers on defense last year). And Dallas had a superb defensive offseason, adding such players as NT Jason Ferguson, CB Anthony Henry, CB Aaron Glenn, LB Demarcus Ware (1st rounder), DE Marcus Spears (1st rounder), LB Kevin Burnett (2nd rounder), and DE Chris Canty (4th rounder). Defensive coaching? Philadelphia’s Jim Johnson and Washington’s Greg Williams have more impressive credentials then Tim Lewis.

So the Giants NEEDED to draft defense. And they will have to do so next year as well. The Giants have no defensive Pro Bowlers on the roster other than DE Michael Strahan who is nearing the end. The Giants are defensively solid, but they don’t scare anyone.

Adding Antonio Pierce is a step in the right direction. Pierce is a super-smart and instinctive player who is a rarity in the NFL: a three-down middle linebacker due to his strong pass coverage skills. He also brings something to the defense that is desperately needed and that is leadership.

The Giants drafted CB Corey Webster in the second round, taking him instead of other such highly regarded defensive talents as DE Justin Tuck (who was under consideration here according to the Giants), DT Jonathan Babineaux, DE Matt Roth, and CB Justin Miller. Heading into the 2004 college season, Webster was widely regarded as one of the top defensive players in the country for his ability to man-up on top receivers and make plays on the football (14 total interceptions during his sophomore and junior campaigns). But various injuries, most notably a strained PCL ligament in his knee, affected his ability to run as well as plant and drive. Though Webster got high marks for his toughness for playing when many would have sat, his play suffered. Webster was slower and not able to close on the football as quickly. The knee and a toe injuries were still not completely healed at the time of Senior Bowl, where Webster did not impress. However, Webster helped to erase doubts about his physical well-being by putting on an excellent athletic display in a private workout for NFL teams before the draft. At this workout, Webster ran in the 4.45-range and once again demonstrated the ability to cut quickly and plant and drive on the football. To make a long story short, if Webster is healthy and has regained his previous form, he will give the Giants secondary something that they desperately need: a ball-hawking cornerback. While Webster is not likely to start in 2005, he should see extensive time in nickel and dime packages and he most likely will replace Will Allen in 2006 when the latter departs via free agency.

The Giants lucked out big time that DE Justin Tuck fell to their pick in the 3rd round. Tuck was widely regarded as a 1st round talent before tearing the ACL in his right knee during the finale of the 2003 collegiate season. That year he accrued 73 tackles, 19 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, and 13.5 sacks. But Tuck amazingly came back to play in 2004, accruing 47 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and 6 sacks – despite playing on a knee that was not likely to be 100 percent yet (indeed, Tuck missed Notre Dame’s bowl game because of swelling in the knee). The key to this pick is Tuck’s knee. If the knee is fine, then the Giants got a 1st round talent in the 3rd round. Tuck is a hard-working, athletic end who can get after the quarterback. He has experience at playing both on the strong- and weaksides. How good a player he will become will depend on the knee and how well he defends the run at the point-of-attack in the NFL.

In the 6th round, the Giants took another 4-3 pass-rushing-type defensive end in Eric Moore. Moore was projected by many to be a 3rd or 4th round pick so to get him in the 6th round was great value. Like Tuck, Moore’s play in 2004 was affected by injury as Moore played with two high-ankle sprains (very painful). And like Tuck, much of Moore’s future success in the NFL will depend upon his run defense at the point-of-attack. But with Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, Tuck, and Moore, the Giants now have four ends on the roster who can rush the passer.

As of May 17, 2005, the Giants have officially signed 18 undrafted rookie free agents: HB Ryan Grant, HB Mike Jemison, WR Charles Frederick, WR Brandon Smith, TE Darius Williams, OC/OG Andrew Tidwell-Neal, OG, Alex Bell, OT Kyle Wallace, DE Adrian Awasom, DE Derek Wake, DE Bret Eddins, DT Jonas Seawright, MLB Joe Scott, CB Ahmad Treaudo, CB Michael Bragg, CB Antwain Spann, FS James Butler, and SS Diamond Ferri. The most interesting guys are the halfbacks (both are good inside runners), Frederick (a very confident and highly regarded prospect heading into the 2004 collegiate season), Smith (excellent speed), Awasom (productive college player with a nice size/speed combination), Scott (excellent size/speed combination and production), Treaudo (very quick and intercepted 9 passes in his first year as a starter in 2004), Butler (looks the part and makes plays against the pass, but needs to get a lot tougher against the run), and Ferri (versatile athlete).

So in summary, I’m elated with the veteran free agent acquisitions of McKenzie, Burress, and Pierce. Back in February, I expected the Giants to be able to possibly sign only one of these guys. If you had told me that they would sign all three, I would have said you were crazy. I am also very pleased with the first day of the Giants’ 2005 draft. Webster and Tuck are both 1st round talents who fell due to injury problems in their final collegiate seasons. The selection of Brandon Jacobs seems a bit like a gamble-on-greatness-type of selection, but if the offensive line can give him some room to get up to speed, he can become a battering ram that this offense hasn’t had since Gary Brown (and Rodney Hampton before that). Moore was an excellent “best player available” selection in the 6th round.

But the ultimate key to all of this will be Eli Manning.

Aug 022004
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New York Giants 2004 NFL Draft Review

Draft Pick Scouting Reports
Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports
Eric’s Take on the 2004 Draft

Round Pick in Round Overall Selection Player Selected
1 1 1 QB Eli Manning, University of Mississippi
2 2 34 OG Chris Snee, Boston College
4 1 97 LB Reggie Torbor, University of Auburn
5 4 136 S Gibril Wilson, University of Tennessee
6 3 168 WR Jamaar Taylor, Texas A&M University
7 2 203 LT Drew Strojny, Duke University
7 52 253 DE Isaac Hilton, Hampton University

2004 Draft Pick Scouting Reports

1st Round – QB Eli Manning (6-5, 220lbs, 4.90, University of Mississippi)

Scouting Report:
As expected, the top of the draft was a strange, wild affair with the key characters being the San Diego Chargers and the New York Giants. San Diego milked their 15 minutes on the clock and then selected QB Eli Manning, who made it clear both before and after the selection that he did not want to play for the Chargers. After LT Robert Gallery was chosen by the Raiders and WR Larry Fitzgerald was chosen by Cardinals, the Giants picked QB Philip Rivers with the #4 selection. There was speculation on ESPN before all this happened that the Chargers and Giants would consummate a trade after each took the quarterback that the other team wanted. And that’s exactly what happened.

However, the Giants gave up a lot to do so. They traded to the Chargers next year’s first round draft pick, in addition to the third round pick in the 2004 draft and the fifth round pick in the 2005 draft. With two #1 picks invested in one player, Eli Manning will have a ton of pressure placed on his shoulders in a city infamous for putting a lot of pressure on athletes.

But enough of that for now. Let’s look at the player, Eli Manning. Manning was widely considered the best quarterback in the draft and was expected to be the #1 pick overall for months. He has “Franchise”-ability. By that we mean he is quite capable of being a perennial Pro Bowl quarterback who by his very skill leads his team to playoff contention year-in and year-out. Manning is capable of becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the league and a difference-maker.

Why? First of all, he has the tools. He is a big quarterback (6-5, 220lbs) with a strong arm. He can make all the throws, including the one that physically separates all quarterbacks – the deep out. While not a scrambler, Manning is a good athlete (4.90 40-yard dash) who moves around well inside the pocket, can buy time with his feet outside of the pocket, and throw well on the run. Eli is quick in his dropback, sets up quickly, and has a quick release. He is a very, very accurate quarterback, especially on short- to medium-range throws. Manning can both rifle the ball or throw with touch. Eli sells the play-action extremely well. His fundamentals are top notch, textbook really.

But what really makes him a likely impact player in the league is his head. He is a very smart and field-savvy player, like his brother Peyton. Eli is patient and does not fluster. Mistakes don’t bother him. Eli reads defenses very well before the snap of the ball and does an excellent job of quickly finding the open receiver. His field vision is outstanding. He makes good decisions. Mature for age and very intense. Eli truly lives and breathes football. And he is a very hard worker. This is what makes him so good.

Manning played on an undermanned University of Mississippi team in perhaps the toughest football conference in the country. By his very ability, he kept his team in contention in the SEC. In other words, he ELEVATED the performance of his entire team by his very presence.

The negatives? There really aren’t any other than the fact that he needs to add muscle. He also will have a ton of pressure placed on him in New York.

If Manning turns into the quarterback that most people expect, the only other quarterback who the Giants have had in their entire history (since 1925) who compares to him is Y.A. Tittle. Manning has the ability to one day become a League MVP. Will it happen right away? Of course not. He will be a rookie this year and all rookie quarterbacks struggle. However, because his fundamentals are so sound, because he reads defenses so well, and because he has been prepped for the NFL by his father and brother, he should be able to start and make an impact sooner than most.

The question is not will Eli be good? He will be. The question is how good will he be? If he doesn’t become a perennial Pro Bowler, the Giants overpaid. If he does become a perennial Pro Bowler and leads this team to a Super Bowl championship, the price will have been well worth it.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “I think he’s got a chance to be a great quarterback. What I saw in Manning was a classic prospect. (He has) size, arm, tremendous athletic ability, poise, class and probably more important than the obvious physical attributes that you have is the fact that he lifted his team. I thought this year in particular he made his teammates play better and that is an element that a lot of the top quarterbacks have.”

What Tom Coughlin Had to Say: “We’re excited. When you go through this process and do all the work and put the board together, and the number one player on the board is within striking distance for you as a franchise, you exercise every option that you can to try to see if that player could possibly be a New York Giant. This is a very special football player, obviously the pedigree is excellent. His performance in the workout was outstanding, his accuracy, he carried himself with a certain dignity and class. It was a very exciting thing to witness during a live workout. All the film had been studied, Ernie (Accorsi) told you about studying him as a junior and having a very good log of information and grades to back up the fact that he was the number one player on our board…I think he’ll be ready very shortly. There’s a learning curve, there’s a process that everyone has to go through, you’re going to pay the price. You can look at all the great quarterbacks along the line, everyone has a certain amount of adjustment to this league and that certainly would take place for any quarterback. Name the quarterback and you know the history of it. It’s not an easy league to just walk right into. But the talent, the ability, the pedigree, being able to perform under pressure, all those things are there.”

What Eli Manning Had to Say: “I think as an asset I love the game of football. I am very passionate about it. I work hard and am dedicated to getting better by watching film and I try and consider myself a smart football player…(In comparison with my brother, Peyton,)

I think we’re pretty similar quarterbacks. We’re pocket quarterbacks, we’re not going to scramble around too much. We try to be very knowledgeable about the game, know your offense, know good plays, study defenses and try to be as prepared as possible. Know what to do the ball when you’re in the pocket, we don’t like to hold it too long. Try to know what you’re doing, get it to the guy, get in the athletes hand, get it to the receivers and running backs and let them make plays.”

2nd Round – OG Chris Snee (6-3, 315lbs, 5.07, Boston College)

Scouting Report:
Talk about getting back to controlling the line of scrimmage. Giants’ fans will love this guy. Snee is a junior entry who would have likely been a first round pick if he had stayed in school one more year. Snee played right and left guard for Boston College. He was a starter since his freshman year. Snee is big, powerful, and tough. Very strong. A leader. Very good run blocker who gets movement at the point-of-attack. Very aggressive, but he needs to finish his blocks better. Athletic, Snee can pull and engage linebackers at the second level. Solid pass protector who anchors well. He is aware in picking up the blitz. Snee is technically sound and plays with a mean streak. Can dominate. Competitive. Hard worker. Has Pro Bowl potential.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “Chris Snee was the number one rated guard, and the number three offensive lineman, on our board. He was rated in the first round by our player personnel department. He was drafted as a good football player who has a chance to come in here and start…Chris Snee is by far the highest rated player at a need position; a critical position…He is just a tough, tough inside player with a very good athletic ability. He’s what we call an ‘I’ player, and an ‘I’ player has upside and a chance to really be good. He’s got that versatility of guard and center.”

What Tom Coughlin Had to Say: “Chris Snee was listed toward the bottom of our first round, and was the top of the position board at his position. There were three players right there and they were all of outstanding value because of where they were coming from and in Chris Snee what we end up with is another player who was the highest rated at his position, who can play Center in a pinch, who is an outstanding football player, a physical football player, a guy that will probably play at 320 and be athletic and be able to pull and do those kinds of things. And fits a need for us, obviously we have some needs on the offensive line and we need to establish again some ability and some depth. This is a pick which allows us to do that.”

4th Round – LB Reggie Torbor (6-2, 255lbs, 4.66, University of Auburn)

Scouting Report: Tobor was an undersized defensive end in college, but he will be converted to linebacker by the Giants. For a linebacker, Torbor has great size (6-2, 255lbs) and athleticism (4.66 40-yard dash). Excellent intangibles – Tobor is intense and hustles all of the time. Quick and strong. Good pass rusher with a variety of moves. Can rush both inside and outside the offensive tackle. His senior season, he led Auburn in tackles for loss (14), sacks (9.5), and quarterback pressures (17). Has some experience dropping coverage but he will need a lot of technique work and reps in that department. Showed well at the NFL Combine in the linebacker drills.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “Torbor, is listed on this as a defensive end, we drafted him as a linebacker. He played linebacker his first two years at Auburn, they put him down this year because he is such a good rusher. Until he adjusts to be a “sam” or a “will,” which either side he adjusts to. Right now he can line up as a pass rusher in a three point stance, because he can run and he’s got pretty good size, until he can adapt to being a linebacker again, he gives us that. So he is a real good prospect as an outside linebacker.”

What Tom Coughlin Had to Say: “Reggie Torbor, who had 10 ½ sacks this year and has played with his hand on the ground. He was worked out as a linebacker. He is a guy who will give us that straight ahead speed for good special teams play, also I think good flexibility on third down is potentially a guy who can be used as an athlete in the mix to create pressure as well as drop in the path.”

5th Round – S Gibril Wilson (6-0, 195lbs, 4.50, University of Tennessee)

Scouting Report: Junior college transfer who earned a starting berth as soon as he arrived at Tennessee. Improving player with a big upside. Wilson has only ordinary size for a safety, but he has the frame to add more muscle. Wilson is an athlete who runs in the 4.45-4.50 area. Faster than most safeties – he has good range. Instinctive and aggressive against the run. Normally tackles well, but needs to breakdown on a more consistent basis. Big hitter. At this point, Wilson is better against the run than the pass. Like most safety prospects, he lacks ideal agility in pass coverage. Not overly instinctive against the pass and needs to work on his pass coverage technique and recognition skills. Excellent work ethic and character. Team leader.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “Wilson, there were other safeties up there, but he was the fastest. And because of that, our big question with him is, “can he track the ball.” Because we can see him as a weak or strong safety. We were not looking for an “in the box,” “play close to the line of scrimmage” run defend only safety. That’s not what we were looking for. We were looking for someone that can do that but who also had the ability to play free safety and play centerfield. And because of his speed, we picked him. He also played “slot” corner for them, so he has that kind of athletic ability.”

What Tom Coughlin Had to Say: “I think that one thing, which is quite obvious, is that we gained – in a number of these picks on the second day – speed and special teams help. Wilson for example is a guy who has a legitimate 4.4 speed, a guy who has amassed a lot of tackles coming out of the safety position in the South East Conference, has excellent special teams ability. However you want to use him as a gunner, however you want to use him on coverage teams, I think that was a big factor.”

6th Round – WR Jamaar Taylor (6-1, 197lbs, 4.45, Texas A&M University)

Scouting Report: Taylor slipped in the draft because he tore an anterior cruciate ligament in his knee during the middle of his senior year. Has made a faster-than-expected recovery to perform for scouts before the draft. Productive receiver with good size and good speed. Has a burst and can get deep, but he is not really a consistent deep threat. Fluid athlete with good body control. Quick and agile. Needs route-running refinement – crisper and sharper cuts. Decent, but not great hands. Tough runner after the catch. Needs a lot of technique work, but he has an upside.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “Taylor was probably was probably the most intriguing pick for us, and the one that we sort of marked early on. I can’t predict what he was on other boards, but I feel pretty confident he was on other clubs boards where he was on ours, which was a high second round pick. He tore his ACL in October, which usually takes ten months to a year for a full recovery to be able to play. He worked out for us, and his agent told us that he would not change direction; he would just prove that he had a good repair, which he proved in our physicals in Indianapolis. He would just run for us at half speed, he actually ran a pretty good time; not as fast as he can but he also did “COD” (change of direction) work for us in our workouts. Ronnie (Barnes) feels that he had a great repair and it’s just a matter of waiting for him. He should be participating in training camp before we leave Albany. That’s someone we decided to pick who has a chance to be a much better than a sixth rounder. We were going to wait a little bit, but we started to get concerned when a couple of players in that category, injured players who were highly rated, starting to get picked by other clubs and then we decided we better pick him and not wait until the seventh round.”

What Tom Coughlin Had to Say: “Jamaar Taylor is an outstanding receiver who was injured – as you know – this year. (He) had the ACL surgery in October and he actually worked out, which was real interesting, and ran a 40 time. At this stage in his recovery he was not supposed to do any maneuvering, but he did give us straight ahead speed which was a very acceptable speed for a lot of people who are healthy. I would be excited about his continued progress and to be honest with you, the value of this young man in terms of how he was evaluated prior to the injury is substantial. He is very well thought of. We are counting on a full recovery and I think that he will be a guy that can push people out of there from the standpoint of a wide receiver. He will be a deep threat and also can give us special teams help.”

7th Round – LT Drew Strojny (6-7, 325lbs, 5.36, Duke University)

Scouting Report: Left tackle. Starter since his freshman year. Huge prospect who actually needs to add more muscle and has the frame to get even bigger. Needs to get stronger. Despite his size, he is not a mauling run blocker. Works to sustain, but does not get a lot of movement. Good athlete for his size. Can engage linebackers at the second level. Good footwork in pass protection. Sets up quickly. Not real strong in his anchor. Needs better pass blocking technique. Improving, but needs to be more aggressive. Will play hurt. Intelligent – rarely misses assignments. A team leader who works hard. Has an upside and could develop if he gets stronger.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “The Duke tackle, Strojny is just a big athletic left tackle with very good feet. He needs to get up here and get stronger, and he is very, very smart as you can expect; considering where he went to school.”

What Tom Coughlin Had to Say: “The big tackle from Duke – Strojny – good feet, big man, obviously (in a) very competitive league; we watched him against all the top people in the league and he faired very well. We are excited to have a big guy at that point of the draft who does have good athleticism.”

7th Round – DE Isaac Hilton (6-3, 265lbs, 4.57, Hampton University)

Scouting Report: An undersized defensive end who may project to linebacker, but he has the frame to carry more muscle mass and could stay at defensive end. Very productive player. Excellent athlete with superb speed and good quickness. Plays relatively stout at the point-of-attack against the run, but needs to play with leverage more consistently. Penetrates. Disruptive. Sometimes gets fooled by misdirection. Needs to locate the ball better. Could be tougher. Good pass rusher with a fine combination of power and athleticism. Can rush outside or inside the tackle. Can blow by the offensive tackle. Closes on the quarterback well. Very raw and will need a ton of technique work, especially if he is moved to linebacker, but Hilton has a huge upside.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “Isaac Hilton is a speed pass rusher. He can really give us pressure. The guys we picked today were athletes, and that was really our objective.”

What Tom Coughlin Had to Say: “Issac Hilton has in my opinion nothing but upsides. He is a big man who has progressively gained in weight each year, good speed off the edge and can give us some pass rush ability as well.”

Rookie Free Agent Signings

QB Jared Lorenzen (6-3, 288lbs, 5.20, University of Kentucky): Offered a contract by the Giants, Titans, Bills, and Bengals. Absolutely huge quarterback. Known as the “Hefty Lefty” due to his girth and being left-handed. Strong arm and has decent touch. Good field vision. Not overly accurate. Not very good at reading defenses – forces too many passes into coverage. Comfortable on the move, but not real mobile. Tough to sack and a tough runner when scrambling due to his size. Obviously needs to lose weight. Needs to improve his work habits. Played better as a junior, but part of the regression may have been due to a new offense and injury problems his senior season. Interesting prospect.

HB Chris Douglas (6-0, 200lbs, 4.55, Duke University): Douglas ranks first in Duke history in both career rushing yards (3,122) and all-purpose yards (5,655). As a senior in 2004, he picked up 1,138 yards on the ground en route to earning First Team All-ACC honors. In addition, Douglas became just the third player in ACC history to rush for 500+ yards and catch 20+ passes in four consecutive seasons. Quick and elusive back who does very well as a receiver out of the backfield. Not an instinctive runner and lacks power between the tackles. Needs a lot of work on his blocking. Smart and hard-working.

HB Derrick Knight (5-9, 205lbs, 4.70, Boston College): Knight was originally signed by the Carolina Panthers as a rookie free agent after the 2004 NFL Draft. At Boston College, Knight became the school’s all-time leading rusher with 3,725 yards. He averaged 5.3 yards a carry and scored 25 touchdowns. As a senior last year Knight led the Big East in rushing with 1,721 yards, an average of 132.4 yards a game. He also set a school record with 321 rushing attempts. The Panthers waived him in June and the Houston Texans claimed him off of waivers. The Texans then waived him in late July. Knight lacks size (5-9, 205lbs), but he is stocky and runs with a low center of gravity. Shifty and patient; reads blocks well. Runs with good pad level. Tough runner who breaks some tackles, but not very powerful. So-so receiver. Good at picking up the blitz.

HB Jermaine Green (5-10, 221lbs, 4.60, Washington State University): Big halfback who runs better between the tackles than outside. Runs with good pad level and is tough to tackle. Not very elusive, fast, or quick. Good receiver out of the backfield.

HB Keylon Kincade (5-11, 204lbs, 4.80, SMU): Extremely productive player on a terrible football team. Rushed for 1,280 yards as a senior and 1,279 yards as a junior. Lacks ideal size and speed, but plays bigger and faster than his measurables. Tough and durable. Has good vision. Instinctive. Runs with good pad level and body lean. Cuts back well and gains yards after contact. Powerful for his size. An between-the-tackles runner who struggles running to the outside. Does not catch the ball very well. Could develop into a solid, situational player as a short-yardage back.

FB Edgar Cervantes (6-1, 250lbs, 5.00, University of Iowa): Former linebacker who was switched to fullback in 2001. Still learning the position. Looks the part. Has excellent size. Very good blocker. Can catch the football. Decent short-yardage runner. Good special teams player. Has good intangibles – a competitor with a strong work ethic. Plays with a fiery attitude. Has an upside, but may take some time to develop.

WR Chris Davis (6-0, 182lbs, Southern University): Davis led the Southwestern Athletic Conference in 2003 in receptions (56) and receiving yards (897). He scored eight touchdowns and returned two kickoffs for 27 yards.

WR Andrae Thurman (5-11, 192lbs, 4.51, Southern Oregon University): Thurman caught 55 passes for 845 yards and 4 touchdowns his senior season after transferring from the University of Arizona (lost academic eligibility). Also returned 8 punts for 105 yards and 15 kicks for 330 yards and a touchdown. Thurman has average size and good speed. Quick. Runs good routes and sets up defenders well. Accelerates well out of his cuts. Has good hands. Runs well after the catch. Needs to work on his blocking. Played well at the Blue-Gray Game and Hula Bowl.

TE Beau Fullerton (6-2, 247lbs, 4.68, Tennessee Tech University): Teams interested in signing him included the Giants, Jets, and Eagles. Caught 17 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns as a junior and 12 passes for 205 yards as a senior. Receiving-type tight end who lacks ideal size. Run well. Has good hands. Better athlete than player at this point. More of an H-Back, position-type blocker. Not strong blocking at the point-of-attack as an in-line blocker. Very raw.

OT/OG Greg Walker (6-5, 341lbs, 5.50, Clemson University): Walker started 26 consecutive games at Clemson, playing right tackle in 2003 and right guard as a junior in 2002. Last year, he was voted second-team All-ACC by the Associated Press. He was a reserve in each of his first two seasons after redshirting in 1999. Walker was not drafted this year and signed as a free agent with the Detroit Lions on April 30. The Lions released him on May 6 and the Giants signed him in early June.

DE Khaleed Vaughn (6-4, 276lbs, 5.01, Clemson University): Three-year starter with very good size for a defensive end. Credited with 50 tackles, 5 tackles for a loss, 2 sacks, 17 quarterback pressures as a senior, and 3 pass breakups as a senior. Has long arms. Good intangibles – smart, tough, and hard-working. A leader. Inconsistent motor. Not that athletic – not very quick or fast. Does not stand out as a run defender or pass rusher.

SLB Jim Maxwell (6-4, 242lbs, 4.55, Gardner-Webb University): Small school prospect with excellent size and speed. Maxwell was highly sought after by NFL teams after the draft. He received contract offers from the Giants, Lions, Falcons, Redskins, Seahawks, Titants, Ravens, Dolphins, Jets, and Eagles. Maxwell had his best year as a senior, registering 116 total tackles (70 solo), 15 tackles for loss, 10 pass break-ups, 16 quarterback pressures, and three forced fumbles. He was named first-team “All-Big South” and was also selected Division I-AA first-team All-East Region by The Football Gazette.

MLB Lewis Moore (6-1, 247lbs, 4.80, University of Pittsburgh): Has experience at both strongside and middle linebacker. Started at middle linebacker his senior season and registered 137 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, and 1 interception. Good intangibles – tough, competitive, and instinctive. Solid character and plays hard. Good run defender who plays well at the point-of-attack. Sheds blockers well. Has good lateral quickness and is a good tackler. Lacks ideal athleticism, which hurts him in pass coverage. Not overly agile or quick. Stiff in the hips and lacks ideal range. Plays better in close quarters than he does in space.

MLB Robert Peace (6-2, 237lbs, 4.60, University of Tennessee): Peace’s development has been slowed by a broken foot suffered in 2002. Good run defender. He has good size and speed for a linebacker, but he needs a lot of technique work – especially in coverage. Peace started all 13 games as a senior and was named second-team All-SEC after posting a career-high 103 tackles (72 solo), two sacks and 12 tackles for losses. His career totals were 162 tackles (110 solo), three sacks and 19 tackles for losses.

WLB T.J. Hollowell (6-0, 235lbs, 4.55, University of Nebraska): Lacks ideal height, but he is an athlete who has good speed and range. Can get engulfed at the point-of-attack by big blockers. Makes plays in space and can cover backs. Good tackler. Good intangibles – good motor and work ethic. Has special teams experience. Has been somewhat injury-prone with numerous ankle and shoulder injuries.

WLB Levi Madarieta (6-3, 241lbs, 4.80, BYU): Madarieta began his career at the University of Washington before transferring to BYU, where he played for three seasons. In 32 games, he had 117 tackles (61 solo), two sacks, and five interceptions.

CB Dewitt Ellerbe (6-0, 190lbs, South Carolina State University): Ellerbe was a fourth-year starter at South Carolina State. As a senior he had 50 tackles (37 solo) and two interceptions for 78 yards. Ellerbee also blocked a field goal attempt and a punt.

CB Charles Jones (5-10, 182lbs, 4.50, University of Alabama): Jones started every game for Alabama the last two seasons. As a senior, he had a career-high 91 tackles, four interceptions, and two forced fumbles. Jones had 15 tackles against Tennessee.

CB/S Jamaine Winborne (5-10, 204lbs, 4.55, University of Virginia): Winborne started the final 27 games of his career and 33 overall for the Cavaliers, finishing with 168 tackles (127 solo), five interceptions, 12 tackles for losses, and two sacks. As a senior in 2003, he was an honorable mention All-ACC selection after starting seven games at cornerback and six at safety. Winborne had a career-high 69 tackles (51 solo), two interceptions, eight tackles for losses, and two sacks.

CB/FS/Punt Returner Curtis DeLoatch (6-2, 217lbs, 4.48, North Carolina A&T University): Has experience at both cornerback and free safety, but most likely projects to safety at the pro level. Excellent size and athletic ability. Lacks quickness and agility to play corner. Not very instinctive in coverage. Not a good tackler or hitter in run support. Needs to become tougher and more physical. Excellent punt returner with some experience returning kick-offs. Returned five punts for touchdowns in 2001. In 2003, he returned 28 punts for 269 yards (9.6 yard average).

P Mark Gould (6-2, 214lbs, Northern Arizona University): Gould received offers from the Giants and Dolphins. Gould averaged 44.8 yards a punt in his career, the best mark in Division 1-AA history. His 48.2-yard average as a junior in 2002 was also a division record. In the last two years, 71 of Gould’s 123 kickoffs (57.7 percent) were touchbacks.

Eric’s Take on the 2004 Draft

As always occurs when a pro sports team makes a dramatic decision such as when the Giants spent two 1st rounders on QB Eli Manning, controversy ensues. Most “experts” and fans contend the Giants paid too step a price for Manning. But before we get into all of that, I do have one serious bone of contention to pick. This issue has dominated sports talk for days, yet no one seems to focusing at all on the fact that the Ravens gave up a future 1st rounder for QB Kyle Boller and the Bills gave up a future 1st rounder on QB J.P. Losman. And yet those two quarterbacks are far less-talented prospects than Manning. Does this make sense to anyone? I guess the media just loves to bash the Giants.

This was a risky trade for the Giants. They gave up two 1st rounders, a 3rd rounder, and a 5th rounder for Manning – that’s four picks right there. Plus, the Giants had a deal in place with Cleveland where they could have traded down to the seventh spot and picked up another 2nd rounder. That’s five picks, including two 1st rounders and a 2nd rounder.

With the seventh pick in the 1st round, the Giants would have drafted QB Ben Roethlisberger. The big question is this: will Manning be a dramatically better quarterback in the NFL than Roethlisberger? Only time will tell. If they are comparable, then the Giants obviously made a big mistake. If Manning turns out to be an elite quarterback, the Giants made the right move.

Some fans argue that the Giants could have picked Rivers at the seventh spot, made the same deal with the Chargers, and had that extra 2nd rounder. However, the problem with that scenario is that each team is allocated a rookie salary cap based on where their picks fall, especially in the 1st round. If the Giants took Rivers at the seventh spot and then traded him to the Chargers, the Giants would have been forced to try to sign Eli with the money a player picked at the seventh spot receives. General Manager Ernie Accorsi also said he did not want to take a risk that another team would make a deal with the Chargers before the seventh pick. Accorsi felt that whoever drafted Rivers was going to have the most important playing card in obtaining Manning because it was Rivers who the Chargers wanted most of all and everyone knew that. There was a fear on Accorsi’s part that Cleveland would use the #4 pick to obtain Manning themselves. Now you can argue about the latter point, but the former one regarding the economics of the selection process are pretty much set in stone.

Who blinked first on this trade? In addition to swapping the 1st round picks, the Giants offered the 3rd rounder in 2004, the 2nd rounder in 2005, and a player. The Chargers asked for the 2nd and 3rd rounders in 2004 plus DE Osi Umenyiora, who was a 2nd rounder in 2003. The Giants managed to hold onto the 2004 2nd rounder and Umenyiora, but they threw in the 1st and 5th rounders in 2005.

Confused? In effect, the Giants could have given San Diego the 2nd rounder in this draft plus Umenyiora instead of the 1st and 5th rounders in 2005. Obviously, the Giants felt the 2nd rounder in this draft was an extremely valuable commodity. And they certainly did not want to part with Umenyiora. But losing the 1st rounder was a steep price to pay.

Was it still too much? Should Accorsi have held his ground and insisted the 2nd rounder but not the 1st rounder in 2005 be included? Would the deal have fallen apart or were the Chargers bluffing? How good will Manning really be? I can’t answer those questions.

But one thing is 100 percent clear. This was not just an Accorsi pick. It is readily apparent that Tom Coughlin was as enamored with Manning as Accorsi, if not more so. All you have to do is listen to Coughlin talk about Manning. It also says a lot about what Coughlin felt about QB Kerry Collins. If you blast Accorsi for this trade, you have to blast Coughlin as well. Coughlin signed off on the cost of trading up and felt that it was worth it.

Now let’s get to Manning the prospect. I am going to let you in on a little secret. While some scouts think he won’t be quite as good as his brother Peyton, there are some that actually think he will be better. The two quarterbacks are practically clones of each other. Eli has a little stronger arm and is more willing to take chances and throw the football down the field. Eli has good tools, but like his brother, it is his head that really sets him apart. He doesn’t get flustered. Pre-snap, he reads defenses well and will make the correct audibles. And Eli sees the whole field. These attributes allow him and his team to beat the blitz or whatever else the defensive coordinator may throw in his direction. Obviously, college defenses are not NFL defenses, but these cerebral skills should translate to the NFL.

It will be fun to watch Head Coach Tom Coughlin, Offensive Coordinator John Hufnagel (a former quarterbacks coach), and Quarterbacks Coach Kevin Gilbride develop Manning. He will have very good teachers. The big unknown is how well will Eli deal with the pressure of being a high-priced quarterback in New York City? Will he just be good, or will he be an elite quarterback? How soon will he be able to produce at a high level? Should the Giants get him onto the field immediately, or should they groom him a bit from the bench? Stay tuned.

Let’s move on to the rest of the draft.

Another issue that is pissing me off with the media is the assertion that the Giants’ offensive line is still in a state of chaos. Nothing irritates me more than the statement that Luke Petitgout is best suited for right tackle. The fact is that Luke Petitgout played his best season in the pros in 2002 as a left tackle. Last year, he struggled with a back injury that eventually cost him most of the season. He’s back now. The other top offensive lineman on the Giants, Rich Seubert, is ahead of schedule on his rehab. If both of these guys stay healthy, the left side of the Giants’ offensive line is a real strength. I have been told that the new coaches love David Diehl as much as the old coaches. Plus, both coaching staffs seem to think that his final destination may be right tackle. That will be determined in camp. The Giants added Shaun O’Hara at center and Barry Stokes as a tackle/guard swingman. O’Hara was displaced in Cleveland by a #1 draft pick. Stokes was forced to play left tackle for the Browns in 2003, but proved in earlier seasons that he is a decent guard. He also can play right tackle. Depth? Wayne Lucier looks like a player at center/guard and the Giants added another veteran in Ed Ellis at tackle.

Then there is Chris Snee. When talking about Manning, those looking at the draft say the Giants ignored the offensive line. What?!? I had Snee as the third best offensive lineman in the entire draft behind Robert Gallery and Vernon Carey. He is a big, tough, powerful guard in the Alan Faneca mold. He has Pro Bowl potential. “This guy is a darn good player,” said a general manager from another team. “In a lot of years, he would have been taken in the first round. He’s a bargain where they got him.” So to say that the Giants ignore the offensive line is beyond incompetence. Last year’s starting offensive included Ian Allen, Jeff Roehl, Wayne Lucier, David Diehl, and Chris Bober. This year’s offensive line will likely be Luke Petitgout, Rich Seubert (or Stokes), Shaun O’Hara, Chris Snee (or Stokes), and David Diehl (or Stokes or some yet-to-be signed veteran). See the difference? Morons!

(On a side note, the other player the Giants were very interested in drafting in the 2nd round was LB Carlos Dansby. Both Accorsi and Coughlin said as much in recent radio interviews. I am glad they took Snee because I personally consider him the far superior player. Dansby isn’t physical enough in my opinion.)

The Giants also added LT Drew Strojny in the seventh round. He’s a project. He needs a ton of work in the weight room and he has to become more aggressive on the field. But he is huge and he has good feet for the position. It will be a matter of time and attitude for him, but keep in mind, he’s a 7th rounder.

The other offensive player (four of the seven picks were on offense) is WR Jamaar Taylor, a guy who the Giants had rated as a second rounder before he tore his ACL in October. The ACL is apparently healing very nicely and Taylor is already running (as evidenced by his sub-4.5 40-yard dash time recently). Another NFC general manager told Jay Glazer the following about Taylor, “He has a knee injury that will probably make him iffy for camp, but he has a heck of an upside. We had him rated as a second-round talent. They may have to sit on him for a year, but that was a great value at that spot. Based just on talent, he’s a terrific prospect.”

Some have asked why another wide receiver? Because the Giants have Amani Toomer and a bunch of question marks. Ike Hilliard and Tim Carter can’t stay healthy. And no one really knows all that much about Willie Ponder or David Tyree.

Let’s look at the three defensive guys. I’m kicking myself because I came very close to putting LB Reggie Torbor on my draft preview. Each year, I look at the defensive ends who I think may project to linebacker. I had Torbor circled, but for some reason I didn’t put him in my write-up. Contrary to what most are saying, I don’t think the Giants see Torbor as strictly a 3-4 situational linebacker. I am pretty darn sure they see him as an eventual starter at linebacker in a 4-3 defense. He probably will replace Carlos Emmons or Barrett Green one day. Torbor is huge, physical, athletic, and he can rush the passer. The big question for him is how well will he be able to play in reverse when dropping into pass coverage? The good news is that he did very well in the linebacker agility drills at the NFL Combine. Accorsi said that one of the teams that called the Giants trying to trade up for their 4th round pick were trying to do so in order to take Torbor. The Ravens said Torbor was the highest rated player on their board after the first day.

Safety Gibril Wilson is the guy I really have the least amount of info on. And I am always misjudging safeties. Heck, I thought Adrian White and Greg Lasker were terrific picks. The Giants seem to like Wilson because he is physical and he can run. Most draft reports say he is a good run defender, but that he struggles a bit in coverage despite his athleticism. The Giants themselves haven’t really said yet whether they will first work him out at free or strong safety.

The only reason DE Isaac Hilton fell until late in the 7th round was off-the-field concerns. In terms of talent, some teams had him rated as a third or fourth rounder. He was the fastest defensive end in the draft and shows a lot of pass rush potential. If he can keep his screwed on straight, the Giants really got a steal because Hilton has tremendous ability.

So to summarize, I really like most of the selections. Manning was clearly the best quarterback in the draft and I feel strongly that Snee was the best guard in the draft. Torbor has the size, attitude, and production you look for in a linebacker and the agility drills seem to suggest he could handle the transition. Taylor and Hilton fell farther than they should have and were very good value picks. Strojny is a good gamble for a 7th rounder. Wilson is the guy who I am most unsure of. My biggest concern? Giving up that #1 pick in 2005. What if the Giants, as most people expect, finish last in the NFC East next year? That pick could be a very high selection.

Final point on Manning: I am sick to death of the national media, non-Giant players on the NFL Network, and non-Giant fans knocking the Giants for this pick. The competitive side in me wants nothing more than for Manning and the rest of the Giants to beat up on the rest of the league this Fall and rub their faces in it. I am ready to start football right now. And I’m angry about it.

As for the rookie free agents, it is interest to note that the Giants signed five linebackers and no offensive linemen. Competition for the back-up spots at linebacker is going to be fierce. Both middle linebackers are interesting prospects and Jim Maxwell was pursued by 10 NFL teams after the draft. Edgar Cervantes will compete with Jim Finn for the fullback position and Jared Lorenzen has a real shot to be the #3 quarterback. WR Andrae Thurman has talent and one of the two halfbacks could bump someone off of the roster. Chris Jones is a direct threat to Delvin Joyce and Jermaine Greene is a tough inside runner. Punter Mark Gould has an NFL-caliber leg and has experience kicking off.

May 022003
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New York Giants 2003 NFL Draft Review

Round Pick in Round Overall Selection Player Selected
1 25 25 DT William Joseph, Miami
2 24 56 DE Osi Umenyiora, Troy State
3 27 91 TE Visanthe Shiancoe, Morgan State
4 26 123 CB Roderick Babers, Texas
5 25 160 OT/OG Dave Diehl, Illinois
6 26 199 WR Willie Ponder, Southeast Missouri State
6 34 207 CB Frank Walker, Tuskegee
6 38 211 WR David Tyree, Syracuse
7 26 240 S Charles Drake, Michigan
7 35 249 OC Wayne Lucier, Colorado
7 41 255 WR Kevin Walter, Eastern Michigan

Draft Summary

Head Coach Jim Fassel said before the draft that defensive line, cornerback, and tight end were the priorities and the Giants came out of the first day of the draft with a defensive tackle, a defensive end, and a tight end.

The Giants, who picked 25th in the first round, did try to trade up in the first round with a number of teams, but apparently the teams the Giants talked with wanted too much in return for the Giants’ tastes. The speculation is that the Giants were trying to draft a defensive end such as Terrell Suggs (who went at #10), Michael Haynes (who went at #14), and Jerome McDougle (who went at #15).

So the Giants stood pat in the first round and managed to select DT William Joseph from the University of Miami, who was figured to go in the draft much higher than the #25 spot. With nine of the first eighteen picks in the first round being defensive linemen, it was fortunate that the Giants were able to select Joseph.

“Everyone saw what happened,” said General Manager Ernie Accorsi. “Nine defensive linemen got picked in the first eighteen picks, at that point we really did not like our chances, we had a couple left and thankfully no more got picked. We had given some thought to moving up earlier but the price was just too high and where we were the price always included the second round pick and that doesn’t mean top ten, I’m talking about eighteen and we weren’t giving up the second round pick. When that didn’t work out we decided to just hold.”

In the second round, the Giants picked DE Osi Umenyiora (pronounced “You-men-your-a”) from Troy State. In the third round, they selected TE Visanthe Shiancoe (nicknamed “Shank”) of Morgan State. Both are tremendous athletes who have a huge upside but carry some risk because of their small school background and the need for development. “These two guys have an enormous upside and I think they will be ready to play and when they get ready to play they will be better,” said Accorsi.

On the second day of the draft, the Giants selected three defensive backs: CB Roderick Babers (Texas) in the 4th round, CB Frank Walker (Tuskegee) in the 6th round, and S Charles Drake (Michigan) in the 7th round. They also added five players on offense on the second day. Two offensive linemen: OT/OG Dave Diehl (Illinois) in the 5th round and OC Wayne Lucier (Colorado) in the 7th round. Three wide receivers: WR Willie Ponder (Southeast Missouri State) in the 6th round, WR David Tyree (Syracuse) in the 6th round, and WR Kevin Walter (Eastern Michigan) in the 7th round.

“We didn’t give any picks away and these are the highest grades we’ve ever had for players late in the draft,” said Accorsi. “Why? I don’t know, unless we over-graded them. We did not strain at all…We had two situations where we were discussing between two corners and we ended up getting both and we had a discussion between two wide receivers and we ended up getting both.”

“What we did all through this draft, and there really are no exceptions, we just picked size and speed,” continued Accorsi. “We’ve picked some players in the past, late in the draft and you know who they are, who were probably pretty solid players who couldn’t get any better because they weren’t big and fast and we didn’t do that this time. We didn’t pick a player to fill a need, we picked a player and they’re not all going to make it but at least they have the size and speed to make it…Basically we targeted a bunch of guys and we got them, the only question now is were we right.”

“Right now we only need to sign three or four free agents and even when we do that we are going to need to release a few players.”

Here’s the scoop on each of the players selected:

1st Round – DT William Joseph (6-5, 308lbs, 5.02, University of Miami)

Scouting Report: William Joseph combines good size and athleticism. Quick, powerful, and instinctive. Has long arms. Can dominate, but needs to play with greater consistency and effort. Quality run defender and pass rusher from the inside spot. Before his senior season, many predicted he would be a top ten pick. Sacks fell from 10 to 5 his senior season, but his quarterback pressures increased from 16 to 29.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “He’s clean, he hasn’t been hurt, he’s got good speed, he’s fast, he is a size and speed athlete…This player has an upside, he is untapped. Hopefully we can get it out of him. He is going to come here with a strong personality and he’ll play well.”

What Jim Fassel Had to Say: “We got a guy that is a quality player. If you start for the University of Miami for four years, you have done some things. I like those Miami guys because they come in here with an attitude…He’s got great numbers as far as size and speed. He’s a big guy. He’s a big physical guy inside and initially he’ll be a guy that we can use on the run stopping downs and he’ll learn how to rush the passer. I think he can get better. I think this guy can continue to get better…A perfect case scenario is that he’s a guy that comes in and learns what we’re doing and he can contribute right away. He can be in there on a rotational basis. He has to beat the guys out that we have that are in those backup roles. But you would think he would have a good chance of doing that.”

What Jerry Reese Had to Say: “To be honest we thought (William Joseph) would be gone at (#25). He was projected to be a top 15 round pick. He’s a four-year starter at Miami, he’s a size, speed, defensive tackle and we are happy to have him.”

What William Joseph Had to Say: “I was kind of mad (at falling to the 25th spot) but now I need to go out there and prove a point. I need to show people what I am capable of doing.”

2nd Round – DE Osi Umenyiora (6-3, 280lbs, 4.7, Troy State)

Scouting Report: Outstanding athlete for his size, but raw. Has a big upside if he can master NFL technique. Has long arms and good size. Strong. Can play the run and the pass. Plays hard. Accrued 16 sacks, 20.5 tackles for a loss, and 43 quarterback hurries his senior season.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “We wanted this guy so bad that we kind of singled him out. Originally we didn’t think we would’ve been able to get him second round but once we got a tackle he became more important to us and its always been the same two, we just would have had to give up the third. Patience has helped us this year, it’s been the opposite of the last two years. In each case, the second and third round, we did not trade up and we got the players we wanted anyway.”

What Jerry Reese Had to Say: “Osi is a guy we had targeted. We are trying to bolster up our defensive line, we wanted to get a big guy, a guy with some speed on the outside and this guy really impressed us at his pro workout, this guy can run, this guy can fly off the edge and he’s not a little guy, this kids got some size, he’s not like an undersized situational pass rusher, this kid can be a full time player. He is a little bit raw, he has a limited background playing football but he has played all over the defensive line for Troy State. He has played nose guard, defensive tackle, the past couple years he has played a true defensive end position, and we felt like he has a big upside…He had sixteen sacks last year. Right now he is probably a better pass rusher than he plays the run at this point but he is going to get some specialized coaching here, (Defensive Line Coach Denny Marcin) is going to make a player out of this kid. Number one, this kid can run. He’ll probably be a situational pass rusher for us, I’m not coaching that’s Jim’s job but I would say that early on he will probably be a situational pass rusher and I think he can grow into a full time player.”

What the Osi Umenyiora Had to Say: “Excuse the cliché but that is a dream come true (playing with DE Michael Strahan), he is the best defensive end in the league right now. And just being over there being able to learn from him that is going to be ridiculously beautiful.”

3rd Round – TE Visanthe Shiancoe (6-4, 251lbs, 4.58, Morgan State)

Scouting Report: A sleeper pick who was rapidly rising up the charts immediately before the draft. Has good size and size potential. Very athletic with excellent speed for a tight end. Can stretch the field. Has excellent hands and will make tough catches in traffic. Good runner after the catch. Works hard at his blocking and is a decent blocker, but needs to work on his strength, bulk, and technique in order to improve his power as an in-line blocker. Good blocker on the move as an H-Back. Small school background so he is raw and needs a lot of route running refinement. However, his college team used him at tight end, H-Back, and in the slot as a receiver – something the Giants will most likely do as well. As a senior, he caught 25 catches for 510 yards (20.4 avg.) and 5 touchdowns.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “This was a target for us, this is a very talented player. He is an A medical but he only played eight games and he has a twenty-yard average, one was a seventy-five yarder and we picked him off of that. He just absolutely knocked the lights out of Indianapolis (the Combine), he was the star of Indianapolis, he was at the top level on all the drills and he caught the ball, it wasn’t just the gymnastics. The thing our coaches have made very clear was that our best, most productive formation was two tight-ends, two wide-outs and one back. We lost (TE Dan) Campbell, this guy will have to learn to be as good a blocker as Campbell but he’s faster and he’s got great hands so we were very excited. We didn’t think we’d get him, we thought he would go earlier and we weren’t going to pick a tight-end in the first round. We were thinking about trading up to get him in the second round…He’s not Campbell, he is kind of the opposite, he’s not this big, powerful blocker, I think he has the kind of body and athletic body that he could become an excellent blocker but he just has more receiver skills. He’ll become an outstanding blocker, they just haven’t had the program there that they had years and years ago but if we didn’t think he was going to be an outstanding blocker we wouldn’t have drafted him…I mean he obviously won’t beat out (TE Jeremy) Shockey but in the formation he is going to have to play.”

What Shiancoe’s College Coach Had to Say: “He’s like a wide receiver who can block. We changed our offense because of the things he could do.”

4th Round – CB Roderick Babers (5-9, 191lbs, 4.46, University of Texas)

Scouting Report: Lacks ideal height, but is built solidly with good speed. Agile, quick, and can leap. Has long arms for his size and good strength. Good man-to-man cover corner; needs work in zone coverage. Sometimes a bit too aggressive in coverage and will bite on double moves occasionally. Tough for his size. Aggressive against the run, but he needs to tackle more consistently. Experienced – started for three years at Texas. Excellent work habits and plays with an attitude.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “I told you yesterday that I felt we really needed to get a corner that can compete for the third corner, we’re not giving him the job but the only thing that kept Babers from being a higher pick was his height. He has a thirty-seven inch vertical jump and if you’re short you have to jump. He has everything else, speed, he plays for a big time program against a lot of big time receivers. There were a couple there and he was the shortest one but that was the only draw back.”

5th Round – OT/OG Dave Diehl (6-6, 310lbs, 5.29, Illinois)

Scouting Report: Has experience at both guard and tackle. Combines good size with fine athleticism. Has long arms. Quick for his size with good agility. Quick hands. Better pass blocker than run blocker. Needs to become a more physical and aggressive run blocker, as well as play with better leverage. Intelligent.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “We felt a lot better about the tackle situation than the guard situation on the right side. He has the potential to come in here and start. He can play tackle but versatility is a bonus because we already have two or three people that (Offensive Line Coach Jim) McNally feels comfortable with but guard was the position that we were most concerned about. We were almost awarding it to (OG Tam) Hopkins and now he has competition.”

6th Round – WR Willie Ponder (6-0, 205lbs, 4.55, Southeast Missouri State)

Scouting Report: Combines good size and athleticism. Hard worker. Has good hands and makes clutch catches. Adjusts well to poorly thrown passes. Some scouting reports say he runs good routes, other say he needs a lot of route running development. Creates separation and gets open. Gets open deep. Runs well after the catch. Caught 87 passes for 1,453 yards and 15 touchdowns his senior year. One newspaper report said Ponder ran a sub-4.4 for the Titans and Packers in a pre-draft workout.

6th Round – CB Frank Walker (5-11, 200lbs, 4.51, Tuskegee)

Scouting Report: Smooth and fluid athlete with good size. Does well in bump-and-run coverage. Can run with receivers deep and has burst. Raw – needs development. Big hitter. Aggressive against the run, but needs to wrap up better when tackling. One draft report said he has been timed in the 4.35-range and did not give up a reception in six games his senior season.

6th Round – WR David Tyree (6-1, 197lbs, 4.56, Syracuse)

Scouting Report: Combines good size and athleticism. Excellent special teams player. Does a great job of covering kicks and blocking punts. Team leader. Needs a lot of work as a wide receiver and running routes. Has good hands, but only average speed and explosion. Caught 36 passes for 559 yards and 3 touchdowns his senior season. Recorded 50 special teams tackles (36 solos) with a forced fumble and 5 blocked kicks during his career.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “We picked him as a special teams player, he can be listed as a wide receiver and he is certainly a decent wide receiver but that is not why we drafted him. If there was a category for special teams he was a high draft choice…Everyone that saw him said he was one of the best special teams players they’d seen all season. If he plays as well for us in training camp as he did at Syracuse, he’ll force his way onto the roster.”

What Jim Fassel Had to Say: “He jumped out at me. He’s special. Where is he as a receiver? He’s a guy that’s got to grow. Is he ready right now? No, he’s not. If he had no special teams play, I’m not sure where we are with him right now. But I’ll let him grow as a receiver because he can be an absolute terror on special teams. Whoever is going to grab that fifth wide receiver spot is going to have to be a contributor on special teams.”

7th Round – S Charles Drake (6-1, 205lbs, 4.55, Michigan)

Scouting Report: Former running back who moved to defense. Played at strong safety his senior season, but can play free safety. Very good athlete with good speed and agility. Raw – needs overall development. Flashes in coverage. Will hit and tackle, but needs greater consistency there. Has an upside if he can put it all together, but is no sure thing.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “We don’t really need a safety but he had a really high grade. He’s a big guy who can run from a big time program.”

7th Round – OC Wayne Lucier (6-4, 300lbs, 5.17, Colorado)

Scouting Report: Has experience at guard as well where he started as a sophomore, played center as a junior and senior. Has good size potential with long arms. Needs to add bulk and get stronger. Is a decent athlete who can pull and get out on the second level. Led Colorado in downfield blocks. Not powerful straight ahead run blocker at this point. Good pass blocker, but sometimes has problems with bull-rush. Did not allow a sack as a senior. Intelligent and hard working.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “(He) had missed some time because of injury and we just wanted to make sure that he was cleared medically. Pretty much we just added to depth.”

7th Round – WR Kevin Walter (6-3, 222lbs, 4.59, Eastern Michigan)

Scouting Report: Has excellent size and strength. Deceptive speed, but more of a possession receiver. Adjusts well to the poorly thrown pass and has good hands. Athletic. Good in jump ball situations because of his height and he is a good leaper with big hands. Raw – will need time to develop. Caught 93 passes for 1,168 yards and 9 touchdowns his senior season.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “I’m not comparing him to Jurevicius and McCaffrey but that is the type of receiver he is, he’s big, he runs at a good speed for that size. He caught a million passes.”

Rookie Free Agent Signings

DT David Thompson (6-4, 290lbs, 5.00, Ohio State):

Scouting Report: Was a key reserve for the National Champion Buckeyes. Good size and has the frame to get even bigger. Needs to get stronger. Still developing and improving. Decent athlete. Plays with leverage. Works hard. Accrued 42 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, and 4.5 sacks his senior season.

What David Thompson Had to Say: “I couldn’t ask for anything better. I’m very excited. I’ve always watched the Giants, since they had Lawrence Taylor, Dave Meggett and all those guys. A lot of my friends are Giants fans, and I’m a Giants fan, too, so to actually get to play for the team I watched since I was a little boy will be great. Hopefully, everything will work out like it should and in September I’ll be wearing a Giants uniform…(The Giants) told me, ‘This is a good program for you. We run the same type of defense that Ohio State runs. We really think you can come in and help out a lot, help us win.'”

DE Cliff Washburn (6-5, 275lbs, 4.95, The Citadel):

Scouting Report: Combines excellent size with athleticism (27” vertical jump and 9’01” broad jump at the Combine). Can and should get bigger. Extremely raw – played only one season of college football after playing four seasons of basketball for the Citadel. Obviously, he needs a lot of technique work, but he flashed in a big way his lone football season, accumulating 56 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, and 12 sacks. Needs to play with greater leverage and power against the run. Needs to get stronger in his lower body (strong in the upper body – 22 reps at the Combine). Shows promise as a pass rusher, but needs to learn how to disengage from blockers quicker. Has good initial quickness and a burst. Still learning how to play the game which sometimes makes him look slow on the playing field (as he is thinking too much), but he is a quick athlete.

What Cliff Washburn Had to Say: “(The Giants) say my chances are pretty good. They said they really want to develop me as a defensive end and tackle. They saw me at the combine and watched a lot of my game film, and they were one of the teams talking to me even before the draft.”

LB Eddie Strong (6-2, 242lbs, 4.90, Mississippi):

Scouting Report: Has experience at all three linebacker positions. Has a nice combination of size and athleticism. Strong. Good hitter, tackler, and blitzer. Lacks ideal speed, balance, and agility, but has decent range and a burst. Struggles to change direction (though that may be partly due to a severe ankle sprain he suffered – see below). Better against the run than playing the pass. Not that instinctive – needs to read-and-react quicker on a more consistent basis. Didn’t have the year expected of him in 2002. Slowed by an ankle sprain his senior season (missed two games) in which he accrued 53 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, and broke up 4 passes.

OG Jeff Roehl (6-4, 300lbs, 5.17, Northwestern):

Scouting Report: Has experience at both tackle and guard – projects to guard at the pro level. OK size and athleticism. Very smart, tough, hard-working, aggressive, and competitive. Plays with an attitude. Not an overly-powerful player. More of a position blocker than a mauler in the run blocking department. Can block at the second level and pull, but he needs greater consistency in doing both. Sets up quickly in pass protection and is aware. A bit on the stiff side and lacks ideal agility. Solid and steady, but not special. Very good intangibles.

Eric’s Take on the 2003 Draft

Eleven draft picks! I was surprised, but somewhat pleased, the Giants didn’t trade any of them away. It reminded me of the not too distant days of the 12 round NFL drafts that I used to enjoy so much. Then they went to 8, then 7. For those of us who love the draft, watching the number of draft choices dwindle was depressing. But on Saturday and Sunday, it felt like the good old days.

Getting DT William Joseph in the first round without having to trade up was a major coup. It appears that the Giants preferred to have drafted DE Michael Haynes or DE Jerome McDougle by trading up, but both were gone before pick #16 (Kansas City – the team most likely to be the Giants’ trading partner). I’m not so sure why the Giants felt so much strongly about McDougle as I consider Joseph not only the safer pick, but the also the one that fits a greater need at a position that is extremely tough to find an exceptional player. My only thought is that the Giants preferred McDougle’s outgoing, gregarious attitude to the quieter Joseph. Perhaps they were looking for a Shockey-like personality for the defense. Makes sense. However, I would NOT have traded the #2 for a chance to draft McDougle. He has a chance to be an exceptional outside pass rusher, but he is no sure thing.

So what do the Giants have in Joseph? They have a big, strong, quick, and sometimes explosive defensive tackle who can stuff the run and rush the passer. He has no major negative and a big upside. The biggest knock on him was that he wasn’t as productive his senior season. His sacks dropped from 10 to 5 (but note that his quarterback pressures increased from 16 to 29). Why the drop-off? Well, for one, super-impressive then-sophomore DT Vince Wilfork was sharing time with Joseph on the field. Secondly, scuttlebutt says that Joseph (who would have been a top 10 pick in 2001) was persuaded to stay in school by his parents in order to graduate. He apparently coasted much of the season, feeling less than challenged on a team that had not lost a game in two seasons and not being able to improve his draft stock. There are no “sure things” in any draft. Giants’ fans know this first hand (Derek Brown, Tyrone Wheatley, Ron Dayne, etc.), but Joseph was a slam-dunk, no-brainer pick. He was the last of the exceptional defensive linemen at maybe the biggest need position on the team. In fact, it would not have shocked anyone to have seen the Giants trade up into the middle of the first round to pick Joseph. He needs to develop a better variety of pass rush moves/technique, but so does every rookie coming into the NFL at the position. Long-term, Joseph is a perfect complement to Cornelius Griffin inside. Short-term, he provides superb depth and a top notch guy to rotate with both Griffin and Hamilton, keeping everyone fresh.

The second pick, Osi Umenyiora, is more of a boom-or-bust, gamble-on-greatness pick. When the Giants’ turn came up, you still had guys like DE Dewayne White, DE Kenny Peterson, DT Rien Long, and DT Nick Eason on the board. I thought the pick would be White or Peterson as I was sure the Giants would go defensive end after going defensive tackle in the first round. Well, they did go defensive end, but the pick was surprising to most “draftniks” except BBI’er Matt in Syracuse, who had been touting Osi for weeks. Umenyiora has the tools. He’s big (6-3, 280lbs), fast, and quick. He was a big-time pass rusher (16 sacks and 43 QB hurries his senior year) at a small school that played against some big schools (Arkansas, Marshall, Mississippi State, Iowa State, and Nebraska were all on the 2002 schedule). But he’s raw and will need a lot of technique work (and perhaps patience). How tough, instinctive, and hard-working the kid is will determine a lot. The safer pick would have been White or Peterson. It will be interesting to compare these three players in three years. To me, this is the pick that will make or break this draft. If Osi develops into an excellent pass rusher and Joseph is what he should be, then the Giants did a great job. If Osi is a bust, then the Giants will have to wait yet another year to find a quality outside pass rusher opposite of the aging Michael Strahan.

I didn’t have TE Visanthe Shiancoe on my draft board because I thought the Giants would go with a more traditional, big, blocking tight end in the Howard Cross/Dan Campbell mold later in the draft. However, this pick makes sense in a lot of ways. First of all, Visanthe is not a bad blocker. In fact, he is quite good, especially when he is playing in the H-Back (or “move” tight end) position, which the Giants use a ton. He is very strong for his size (the strongest of all the tight ends in the draft). He simply needs to add more bulk and learn pro blocking techniques in order to become a better blocker in the down (“true”) tight end position. But it is as a pass receiver where Visanthe provides the most potential excitement. Like Jeremy Shockey, he has superb hands, agility, and speed (the best athlete at the tight end position in the draft). Like Shockey, he plays more like a wide receiver than a clumsy tight end out there in the passing game. He also appears to have Shockey’s bravado, telling Giants’ scout Rosie Brown that he is “better than Shockey”. The negatives? Aside from improving his down blocking, Visanthe comes from a small school program and has a lot to learn. It’s a big jump from Morgan State to the NFL. But if Visanthe is what the Giants’ think he is, then NFL defensives are going to face a double tight end nightmare. This was a ballsy pick by the Giants, but one that could have a huge impact on an offense already loaded at the skill positions.

I have no problem at all with the selection of Roderick Babers in the 4th round, other than the fact that it is going to be tough not getting tongue-tied saying Babers, Barber, and Bober. Good grief! Babers was an excellent performer for three years on a very strong University of Texas defense. He is a good athlete with the speed, quickness, and agility to stick with receivers at the pro level. What he lacks is ideal height (just under 5’9”). However, he makes up with that a bit by having relatively long arms (for his size) and good leaping ability (37” vertical jump). Babers could contend for the nickel job immediately as he is very experienced and talented.

I always consider the first four rounds the heart of the draft. After those rounds, it is virtually impossible to find a prospect who somebody hasn’t criticized for this or that. Most of these guys end up being quite ordinary and don’t have exceptionally long careers in the NFL. Some don’t make it at all. Others go down in NFL sports history as late round steals. Not all the guys the Giants drafted will make the team this year. Why? Simply because there is not enough room on the roster. What the Giants also did (because they had so many picks) is take pot shots at a couple of positions and hope they strike gold with two of the four picks at cornerback and wide receiver. The Giants not only drafted Babers, but they also drafted CB Frank Walker. As long as one delivers, they will be happy. Walker appears to be a very good athlete (one report said he has run under 4.4) with decent size (5’10”, 193lbs). He must have caught the Giants’ attention when they were scouting his teammate, the highly regarded CB Florence Drayton. The Giants also took two wide receivers, Willie Ponder and Kevin Walter. Both were incredibly productive at smaller schools. Ponder caught 87 passes for 1,453 yards and 15 touchdowns last year and Walter caught 93 passes for 1,168 yards and 9 touchdowns. Ponder appears to be the fluid speedster and Walter the big receiver in the Joe Jurevicius mold. The Giants’ fifth receiving spot is open and the Giants may want to stash someone away for next year if Ron Dixon leaves in free agency in 2004. I won’t criticize 6th or 7th round picks…the Giants have too good of a track record in finding gems late.

Two receivers – didn’t the Giants draft three? David Tyree will practice with the other receivers, but he will live or die in the NFL with his special teams play. I am overjoyed that the Giants actually drafted a special teams coverage stud. I miss the old days of Larry Flowers and Reyna Thompson making special teams tackles that change the tempo of a game. Long-time readers know I’ve been bitching about this for years – the Giants finally did something about it.

The two offensive line the Giants drafted (OG/OT David Diehl and OC Wayne Lucier) and the rookie free agent they signed (OG Jeff Roehl) are typical Jim McNally picks. They are all SMART. McNally doesn’t want guys who can’t grasp his more involved blocking techniques and schemes. He wants guys who can think on their feet and pick off the right guy when the defense adjusts. They are all hard-working and competitive. They are all good pass blockers because they have good feet and agility. They can all pull and block on the second level. None of them are smash-mouth maulers in the running game. Typical McNally – love him or hate him. But in McNally we trust because he’s turned no-names such as Jason Whittle, Chris Bober, and Rich Seubert into NFL players.

The Giants actually feel pretty good about their safety position. Shaun Williams and Omar Stoutmire are the starters. Johnnie Harris provides veteran depth. Clarence LeBlanc lacks ideal speed, but he’s a big guy who has a knack for intercepting passes and returning them for touchdowns (NFL Europe, NFL preseason). And don’t discount Ryan Clark who was a pleasant surprise as a rookie free agent last year – he can cover and hit. However, the Giants said they couldn’t pass up Charles Drake as he was clearly the highest rated guy on their draft board at that spot in the 7th round. Drake is an athlete with an upside, but he has to become a tougher football player to make it.

The Giants only signed four rookie free agents, but all of them are such quality prospects that no one would have complained had they been late round draft picks. Roehl is solid. LB Eddie Strong was highly regarded before his senior season (some people thought he might be a 2nd or 3rd rounder in the 2003 draft before the season started) but was hampered by a high ankle sprain in 2003. DT David Thompson was a key reserve on an impressive National Championship defense that stymied vaunted Hurricanes and has an upside. He was usually the first defensive lineman off the bench for Ohio State and is improving. Incredibly, DE Cliff Washburn only played football his senior year in college (staring in basketball for four years at the Citadel). But he looked like he was born to rush the passer, accumulating 12 sacks in 2003. He also didn’t look out of place at the East-West Shrine Game (where Umenyiora, Roehl, and Strong also played).

In summary, the only pick of the top four I’m unsure about is Umenyiora. I pray the Giants are right on that one because we need an outside pass rusher. I’m still giddy over getting Joseph; Shiancoe is an athletic freak; Babers is a quality coverman. They also got three McNally offensive linemen, a fast corner with an upside, two super-productive receivers with upsides, a special teams stud, and an athletic safety who is still developing. In addition, they signed another pass rushing defensive end, a developing defensive tackle, and a linebacker looking to redeem himself. On the surface, not a bad effort. But check back in three years!

Eric’s Early Roster Projection

Trying to predict what the Giants’ 53-man roster will look like four months away from the start of the season may be an exercise in futility. Players will get hurt. The Giants will still be looking at veteran free agents on the open market. Some current players will disappoint, others will surprise. But we thought it might be fun to take a stab at it. Please note that we are making an educated guess at how many bodies the Giants may keep at each position.

Special Teams (5):

Have the Inside Track: P Jeff Feagles, PK Mike Hollis, LS Ryan Kuehl, and KR/PR Brian Mitchell. These four are sure bets.

Big Roster Battle: 6th rounder WR David Tyree versus TE Darnell Dinkins. I’ve never heard a head coach or general manager rave about a 6th round draft pick as much as Fassel or Accorsi did after the draft about Tyree who is supposedly a special teams stud covering punts and kickoffs, as well as blocking punts and field goals. Darnell Dinkins demonstrated similar special teams prowess in NFL Europe and in camp last season. It would be great if the Giants could keep both, but it is unlikely unless Dinkins somehow can beat out Marcellus Rivers for the third tight end spot. However, keep in mind that Rivers was the Giants’ best special teams player last season.

Outside Looking In: PK Matt Bryant, PK Owen Pochman, P Steve Cheek, LS Dan O’Leary, and LS Mike Malczyk.

Quarterbacks (3):

Have the Inside Track: Kerry Collins, Jesse Palmer, and Jason Garrett. No debate.

Outside Looking In: Ryan Van Dyke

Halfbacks (3):

Have the Inside Track: Tiki Barber, Dorsey Levens, and Ron Dayne. Dayne is apparently working out like a fiend and since the Giants didn’t draft a halfback, it is pretty safe to assume he will be the insurance policy in case Barber gets hurt. However, Levens will cut into his playing time, especially in short-yardage and the red zone. Keep in mind that Brian Mitchell could be a factor here in spot duty.

Outside Looking In: Delvin Joyce and Antonio Warren.

Fullbacks (1):

Have the Inside Track: No one.

Big Roster Battle: Jim Finn versus Charles Stackhouse. My money is on Finn to win the job, but Stackhouse has the ability to keep this job if he improves his work ethic and blocking.

Tight Ends (3):

Have the Inside Track: Jeremy Shockey, 3rd rounder Visanthe Shiancoe, and Marcellus Rivers. Rivers has to be careful that Dinkins doesn’t steal his job due to special teams play, but Rivers was a stud on special teams last season.

Outside Looking In: Mark Inkrott and Taman Bryant.

Wide Receivers (5):

Have the Inside Track: Amani Toomer, Ike Hilliard, Ron Dixon, and Tim Carter.

Big Roster Battle: Battle royale here between Daryl Jones, Derek Dorris, Chris Taylor, 6th rounder Willie Ponder, and 7th rounder Kevin Walter for one spot. Keep in mind that if Tyree makes the roster, he will be the sixth receiver.

Offensive Line (9):

Have the Inside Track: LT Luke Petitgout, LG Rich Seubert, and OC Chris Bober are sure bets. RT Ian Allen, LT/RT Jeff Hatch, RT/OG Barrett Brooks, RG Tam Hopkins, 5th rounder OG Dave Diehl, and 7th rounder OC Wayne Lucier have the inside track in my opinion, but are not sure things. Hopkins’ position could be in jeopardy if the Giants sign another veteran guard, which is a possibility. The Giants really like Allen, Hatch, and Diehl. Brooks is a veteran swingman who provides good insurance. Lucier should provide the Giants with a quality reserve center; he can also play guard.

Outside Looking In: OC/OG Dusty Zeigler, OC Omar Smith, OT Char-Ron Dorsey, OG Jeff Roehl, OG Pat Crummey, OG Vincent Sandoval, and OG Sean O’Connor. I’m 90 percent sure Zeigler will be released after June 1st in order to help pay for the rookie draft picks. I just don’t see him coming back from two serious surgeries on the same knee. Roehl is an interesting guy who may simply get caught up in a number’s game as the Giants don’t have the room to keep too many rookies here – especially on a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

Defensive Line (8):

Have the Inside Track: DE Michael Strahan, DE Kenny Holmes, DE Keith Washington, 2nd rounder DE Osi Umenyiora, DT Cornelius Griffin, DT Keith Hamilton, and 1st rounder DT William Joseph.

Big Roster Battle: Battle royale for the last defensive tackle spot between Lance Legree, Dwight Johnson, Matt Mitrione, Ahmad Miller, David Thompson, and Brad Harris.

Outside Looking In: Frank Ferrara, Sean Guthrie, and Cliff Washburn. Guthrie or Washburn would have to beat out Washington.

Linebackers (7):

Have the Inside Track: MLB Mike Barrow, MLB Nick Greisen, LB Kevin Lewis, WLB Dhani Jones, WLB Wes Mallard, SLB Brandon Short, and SLB Quincy Monk.

Outside Looking In: Josh Hotchkiss, Brad Rice, and Eddie Strong.

Cornerbacks (5):

Have the Inside Track: Will Allen and Will Peterson.

Big Roster Battle: Huge battle for three spots between Kato Serwanga, Ralph Brown, Ray Green, 4th rounder Roderick Babers, and 6th rounder Frank Walker.

Safeties (4):

Have the Inside Track: SS Shaun Williams and FS Omar Stoutmire.

Big Roster Battle: Really good competition here for two spots between Johnnie Harris, Clarence LeBlanc, Ryan Clark, and 7th rounder Charles Drake.

Aug 202002
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New York Giants 2002 NFL Draft Review

FIRST ROUND – TE Jeremy Shockey, University of Miami, 6-5, 255lbs, 4.65: This is a good pick for the Giants and the team feels it is a superb pick as they see Shockey as a true impact football player. The only thing that stinks is that the Giants gave up their 4th round selection to the Titans in order to move up one spot to ensure, at least in the minds of the Giants’ hierarchy, that no other team would steal Shockey from them. Press reports indicate that Seattle was very interested in Shockey, but if the Giants’ feared Seattle, I think they got snookered. No way the Titans drop down to Seattle’s pick as they would have lost any chance to draft DT Albert Haynesworth or CB Phillip Buchanon (incidentally, I don’t buy the reports that the Seahawks didn’t want Shockey – that is damage control PR on their part). But if the fear was that Cleveland was the more serious threat, then trading up made sense – provided the Giants are correct in assessing that Shockey is a much better prospect than TE Daniel Graham. Personally, I do think it was Cleveland who scared the Giants the most. Regardless, let’s hope Shockey turns out to be a heck of a football player – especially since they passed on Haynesworth themselves.

Before I discuss Shockey’s talent and how he will help the Giants, I do want to mention to things: (1) losing the coin flip to the Titans cost the Giants a 4th round pick; (2) the Giants really need to plug the leaks coming from inside the organization. In 2000, all the New York/New Jersey papers knew that Dayne was the halfback they wanted and this year they knew that Shockey was the man from the get-go. Heck, Paul Needell even reported the morning of the draft that the Giants were willing to trade up to make sure they got Shockey. These loose lips may have cost them a 4th round draft pick as well. Next time, they will lose another pick or lose the player.

Now on to Shockey. Shockey combines good size with excellent athletic ability. He is fast (has been timed in the 4.55-range), quick, and fluid for a tight end. As a receiver, he gets a clean release from the line, runs good routes, gets open, adjusts well to ball, and has excellent hands. Simply put, Shockey is a top notch receiver. Unlike most tight ends, he has the speed to get deep and make big plays. He also is a clutch player who wants the football at crunch time. He is very confident in his ability to make an impact in every game. Jeremy runs well after the catch too.

Shockey is solid, improving blocker, but he needs to continue to develop in this phase of his game. Adding more strength should help him. Right now, he’s more of a positional blocker than a blaster, but he does sustain his blocks pretty well. He’s quick off of the snap, plays with fine leverage, and has a little pop in his blocking. His agility will help him hitting targets at the second level. Remember, the Giants like to put their tight ends/H-Backs in motion quite a bit and have them lead at the point-of-attack.

Shockey has that “special player aura” around him. It’s not just because he is a talented prospect, but it is the belief in himself, the ability to make clutch plays, and his leadership that separate him from other prospects. If he stays healthy, Shockey should be a Pro Bowl regular and give the Giants their second “scary” player on offense after Tiki Barber. His mere presence alone will help to open things up for both the passing and running game. Opposing safeties and linebackers will now be less able to keep an eye on the wide receivers and Barber. “I know in my first year I want to dominate and I want to make a lot of plays and do what I can to make plays and stretch the defense to get the receivers open on the outside,” said Shockey after he was drafted.

Fassel on Shockey: “I’m really happy because he brings a lot to the organization, not only from the standpoint of ability. The thing that got me really excited about him were the things I heard about and saw about his competitiveness and his desire to be a winner. When he was here for a visit and we sat down and talked, he expressed an interest to be here and he’s not the type of guy that tells every team he wants to be there. I really think he had a genuine interest in wanting to be here. He was excited when I got him on the phone. There are three things that I thought about: he has tremendous ability to be a great tight end, I think he has big upside potential, and he’s still raw in his ability to continue to get better. He’s going to get better. One of the key things we have to do is not only pick the best player right now, but we have to say who’s going to be the best player in two, three, four years from now. I think he will. The other thing is the competitiveness…I think with the maturity level that he has and his competitiveness, the league is not going to be too fast for him right off the bat. He’s a competitive guy, so he’s not going to come in and be shy and timid and all that type of stuff. He’s a respectful person, so there won’t be any arrogance. I think he has the ability. The type of tight end that I’ve always wanted since I came here was a guy that has big play pass catching capability. Although I really think that Dan Campbell and Marcellus Rivers have improved, I think this guy can bring some things to us that can help. You have to look at the trends and how people start to play. People are playing a lot of cover two in passing situations and the number one thing for that is to get to the middle of the field. Unless you’ve got a guy that will scare them, they can just roll up on your receivers and make it very difficult for them to get the ball.”

At Miami’s Pro Day: Did 16 reps at 225lbs and ran times of 4.57-4.61.

SECOND ROUND – WR Tim Carter, University of Auburn, 6-0, 190lbs, 4.35: At this point in the draft, I thought the Giants would draft a receiver, defensive lineman, linebacker, or offensive lineman. If you read my draft preview, you know that I had a feeling that the Giants were eyeing Carter. What is interesting is that they liked him more than such available receivers as Antonio Bryant, Andre Davis, and Reche Caldwell. It will be interesting to compare how Carter does vis a vis these other players. According to Carter, the Chiefs and Jaguars had interest in drafting him in the second round.

Carter was one of the fastest players in the draft along with WR Donte Stallworth and WR Javon Walker (both first rounders). Carter saw limited playing time as a receiver at Auburn until his senior season. Before that, he was mainly used on special teams where he excelled as both a kick returner and gunner (the Giants REALLY need a top-notch gunner). In 2001, he was Auburn’s leading receiver and the guy on their team who the opposition focused on stopping.

Carter is an excellent athlete with outstanding speed (sub 4.4) and quickness. He also has the extra gear to pull away from people. Carter uses this as a returner, receiver, and on end-arounds. As a receiver, he has decent (not great) hands, but he will need work on his route running. He’s very quick in and out of his cuts and adjusts well to the football. There are a couple of draft reports that say he needs to be a bit tougher going over the middle of the field, but the Giants say that toughness is one of his attributes.

Carter made a strong impression at the Senior Bowl practices with his ability as a receiver. He should make an immediate impact on special teams as both a returner and gunner. How fast he learns to run routes at the pro level will determine how quickly he sees the field as a receiver.

Marv Sunderland on Carter: “Carter brings you a lot of athletic ability, speed, return ability, special teams. All you have to do is take a look at his background and find out the people in his family that have been special, and I think this kid can be the same way. I don’t think there is any question that he has the athletic skills, that he is a tough kid, a competitor and he is smart. He has everything that you are looking for production wise. A lot of players are under certain circumstances on offenses, what is used, what is not used, rotations. That is not an indictment on the schools or the coaches, that is just what people have to do to be productive. This kid was productive when he had the ball in his hands and that’s all you can ask for. He showed us enough to be special. At the Senior Bowl, he jumped out at everybody with the top players in the country, so I think his upside is huge.”

At the Combine: Ran 4.34, had a 39” vertical jump, and a 10’6 broad jump.

THIRD ROUND – LT Jeff Hatch, University of Pennsylvania, 6-7, 300lbs, 5.10: At this point in the draft, it was pretty obvious that the Giants would draft offensive or defensive line or linebacker. Jeff Hatch is interesting developmental prospect who the Giants considered the last truly talented left tackle in the draft. He’s a small school prospect who the big colleges had some interest in, but he chose to go to the Ivy League for the superior education.

Hatch combines excellent size with athleticism. For a big man, he’s very light on his feet. Even though he is 300lbs, he looks thin. He has the ability – and the need – to add much more strength (in his lower body) and bulk. Great intangibles – smart, hard-working, and competitive. Has a bit of a nasty streak. His excellent athleticism shows up in the pass blocking department where he demonstrates quick feet. Has long arms which help him keeping pass rushers away as well. Works hard at his run blocking, but he needs to play with better technique and add strength to his lower body. Stood out at the Blue-Gray All-Star Game. Hatch is the kind of lineman that Offensive Line Coach Jim McNally loves working with. The big question is how quicky can the Giants get him ready to compete as a starter at the pro level?

Accorsi on Hatch: “We feel he’s got certainly everything you’d ever want in size, intelligence, quickness and toughness. If you watch the Blue-Gray game, they were taking runs at him and he didn’t give any quarter at all. There was a time in the game when a kid hit him late and snapped his helmet back and he turned around with one hand and knocked the kid’s helmet off and knocked him to the ground. There’s enough nastiness in him that he didn’t give in at all down there and I think he won their respect.”

Sunderland on Hatch: “Hatch is a kid that can play major college football. He showed that when he was dominant in the Ivy League. He is big, athletic, smart, and there is not much he can’t do. He can play at any level and he dominated throughout his career at Penn. He played pretty much the whole Blue-Gray Game against so-called upper level players, but he has all the physical attributes and the one thing I like about him is he is mean. He doesn’t play like a kid that hasn’t played major college football. He plays with attitude, he plays with strength, he plays with competitiveness and he is definitely smart.”

At Penn’s Pro Day: Hatch ran 5.08 and benched 225lbs 31 times.

FIFTH ROUND – WLB/MLB Nick Greisen, University of Wisconsin, 6-1, 240lbs, 4.88: I expected the Giants to focus on defense from here on out after taking three offensive players with their first three picks and that’s pretty much what they did with the exception of the quality receiver they got with the first 7th round pick. However the selection of Greisen really surprised me as he didn’t really fit the Giants’ new mold of going after speed players on both sides of the ball.

Greisen is an old-fashioned tough guy linebacker who was super-productive at Wisconsin. He accrued an amazing 146 tackles in 2000 and 167 tackles in 2001. Greisen has top intangibles – he’s smart, instinctive, competitive, and works very hard. He always seems to be around the ball. However, he is not a gifted athlete and doesn’t time particularly fast – this deficiency shows up in coverage at times. Also, he’s not a particularly powerful player. Yet despite his lack of speed, Greisen is often seen chasing from sideline-to-sideline so he seems to play faster than he times. His ability to play pass defense and continue to demonstrate adequate range at the pro level will be the key to his success.

Three more positives: (1) the Dolphins tried to trade up to draft Greisen in the 5th round by offering their 2003 4th round selection; (2) Greisen showed very good quickness in agility drills; and (3) Greisen should help out on special teams as both a coverage man and long-snapper.

Accorsi on Greisen: “Greisen is one of those guys that the scouts and coaches just had a special feeling for. He’s not going to look good when it comes to the stopwatch, but he’s just one of those guys. He’s one of those guys that makes plays. He had 101 tackles and he’s just the type of guy that coaches will fall in love with. He can play Will (weakside linebacker) or in the middle. He doesn’t run particularly fast in the 40 yards, but he’s got terrific quickness. He’s just one of those guys that when you diagnose, the way some of these guys do, he saves you three steps. That is what he does…You’ll see what I mean when you see Greisen, he’s just one of those guys that hits everything that moves.”

Fassel on Greisen: “To me, he has great instincts. We have all the times, the 10, the 20, the 40, but that is the one position that is so instinctive that you may not have a great 40 time but when you watch a guy, he can look so much faster than timed speed. You see something and you attack it, and that’s reaction. I watched him play and I’m thinking this guy plays like a 4.5 guy, but he’s quick and sometimes quickness is quicker than fast. More than any other position, that is the one that will jump out at you. You’ll see a guy and say he’s quick and then you get a 4.9 time on him or you have guys who are 4.6s who play like a 5 flat. He’ll come in here, and I think he can probably play Will (weakside linebacker) and Mike (middle linebacker). Because Dhani (Jones) is in his first year as a starter, that’s probably where we will start Greisen and create some competition with Dhani.”

SIXTH ROUND – WLB Wesly Mallard, University of Oregon, 6-1, 221lbs, 4.50: With the selection of a second linebacker in a row (and the later selection of a third linebacker), it is obvious that the Giants not only felt it imperative to improve the quality of their back-ups, but also provide more depth and competition overall. Mallard fits the Giants’ new emphasis on speed much more than the Greisen pick.

Mallard has played both linebacker and safety, but the Giants see him as a nickel linebacker. In actuality, I see him as legitimate competition for the weakside starting spot. Critics will point to Mallard’s lack of size, but he is no smaller than Jessie Armstead when Jessie came to the Giants and plays a similar style of game. Mallard is very athletic with outstanding speed for a linebacker. Has the tools to stand out in coverage, but he needs work in that department as he was primarily a forward-mover at Oregon. Tough and physical for his size with good strength. Takes on blocks well, but must disengage quicker. Not real instinctive…sometimes hesitates. However, due to his great speed, once he makes a decision, he closes incredibly fast.

Mallard is also an excellent special teams player – a constant theme in all the Giants’ picks. He should become a real factor on both coverage teams. As for his potential future as a linebacker, it all depends on his ability to play the run tough at the point-of-attack.

Accorsi on Mallard: “He’s a nickel linebacker who can run. He’s one of those smaller guys that have a lot of speed…The one that is really exciting to me is Mallard because he can run so fast and because he’s such a good special teams player.”

At the Combine: Ran a 4.5 with a 41” vertical leap, a 9’10” broad jump and did 22 reps of 225lbs. His 1.55 10 yard sprint time was the best of any linebacker.

SEVENTH ROUND – WR Daryl Jones, University of Miami, 5-9, 180lbs: Jones is a guy who I was very high on going into the draft and a guy who I thought could be a steal (see my “Draft Prospects” article). Jones didn’t have the career at Miami that most expected from him. He was hampered both by injury and the fact that Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne (both first rounders last year) were on the roster much of the same time. Sprained his right knee in the season opener in 2001 and played in only six games. Later was hampered by an ankle injury.

Jones is short, but he is a well-built player with very good speed and quickness. Has a burst to his game as well. Due to his lack of size, he operates best out of the slot. Runs good routes and has decent (not great) hands. Elusive – runs well after the catch. Confident in his own ability. Very good punt returner with the quickness to make people miss and the speed to go the distance.

Accorsi on Jones: “I wanted to get a (punt) return guy. He’s also a receiver and we just felt we didn’t want to get involved in a bidding war after the draft. First of all, we thought we would lose him to Cleveland because of his former coach. If not in the draft because they had a pick between us, then certainly in free agency. We had information that they probably had interest. He averaged 16 yards a punt return in his junior year and that was with Santana Moss. Last year, he got hurt and missed five games with a high ankle sprain. When we went down to look at Shockey, he worked out and ran a blazing speed on the wet grass that day. We essentially got him as a return guy, but he can play receiver. We wanted a return guy and once the draft was over, it was going to be a dogfight to try to sign one. We didn’t want to mess around with it…Jones really has the potential to be weapon…When we went to the work out, he really caught your eye.”

SEVENTH ROUND – SLB Quincy Monk, University of North Carolina, 6-3, 250lbs, 4.80: Monk is more like Greisen in that he is a slower linebacker than I anticipated the Giants looking at. The Giants see him as a possible back-up to Brandon Short on the strongside as well as a special teams performer. With the selections of Greisen, Mallard, and Monk – provided they all make the squad – the Giants really upgraded their depth at linebacker in this draft.

Monk, like Greisen, is an old-fashioned, tough linebacker who plays a physical game. Also like Greisen, he was super-productive in college with 125 tackles accrued his senior season. He’s a fairly instinctive guy who is improving and plays quicker than he times. Has a burst and good short-area agility. However, he is not a real fluid athlete and this can cause him problems in pass coverage at times. Takes on blocks well against the run – has some power – but he needs to shed quicker. Like Greisen, his success at the pro level will largely be determined by his ability to play in space in coverage.

Accorsi on Monk: “(Monk) is strictly a Sam linebacker, a strong, stout, big guy that Jim really felt that we needed to make sure that we had depth at linebacker. We’re young but we’ve now protected ourselves with depth at the linebacker position…Monk is just a big guy.”

Sunderland on Monk: “Monk is a kid that is a tough, hard-nosed player. He is a strong kid with good instincts, productive, athletic, big and I think he brings something from the standpoint of playing inside or SAM linebacker. I also think he can play special teams.”

Rookie Free Agent Signings

QB John Welsh, University of Idaho, 6-1, 223lbs, 4.90: Welsh is interesting prospect. He was a 4-year starter for the University of Idaho. Has good arm strength and a quick release. Played well as a senior when he completed 183 of 284 passes (64.4 percent) for 2,215 yards (276.9 per game), 18 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. Showed well at the Blue-Gray game and practices.

FB Darian Barnes, Hampton University, 6-0, 245lbs: Barnes was signed by the Giants right before training camp started after he was by-passed in the 2002 Supplemental Draft. Barnes transferred to Hampton University from Rutgers.

FB Charles Stackhouse, University of Mississippi, 6-2, 252lbs, 4.90: Signing Stackhouse would be a major coup for the Giants as he has a good chance to be the Giants’ starting fullback on opening day. I had Stackhouse rated as the #1 fullback in the draft. Stackhouse started 25 games in his career, including 10 in each of the last two seasons. In 2001, he started eight games at fullback and two at tailback. Selected to the Senior Bowl after rushing for 330 yards and five touchdowns on 75 carries. Also caught 21 passes for 172 yards and two scores. Finished career with 125 carries for 549 yards and six touchdowns and 35 receptions for 334 yards and three scores. Charles has classic fullback size and toughness. Plays quicker than he times. Good runner and receiver out of the backfield for a big man. Runs with power. Adjusts well to the pass and has good hands. Flashes good leading blocking skills, but needs more consistency in that department. Was the lead blocker for Deuce McAllister. Needs better technique in keeping his pad level down and adjust better when blocking on the move. Picks up the blitz well – an unusual quality for a rookie. Frank Coyle of DraftInsiders.com believes he has future Pro Bowl ability. At the Combine, Stackhouse ran 5.00 with 29” vertical leap and a 9’3” broad jump. Benched 225lbs 20 times.

FB KaRon Key, Tennessee State University, 5-9, 235lbs, 4.80: Key was signed as a rookie free agent after the 2002 NFL Draft by the Titans but waived in mid-May. The Giants claimed him off of waivers. Key finished his senior season at Tennessee State with a team-high eight touchdowns. He had 52 carries for 358 yards and five receptions for 86 yards on the season. Key is a bit on the short side, but he is an athlete who flashes quickness between the tackles as a runner. Good runner on the goalline. Good blocker.

WR David Thompson, College of the Holy Cross, 6-3, 194lbs: Thompson led Holy Cross in receptions (46), receiving yards (603), and touchdown catches (nine) and was selected to the All-Patriot League second team last season. In 2000, he led team in same categories with 50 catches for 594 yards and seven touchdowns. Had 96 career receptions in 21 games at Holy Cross after transferring from Grambling State, where he started 10 games and caught 32 passes in 1998. Thompson is a big receiver with fine athleticism. Thompson supposedly was impressive at a workout for the Giant the week before the draft and the team supposedly considered selecting him with one of their 7th round draft picks.

OT Vincent Sandoval, Oregon State University, 6-4, 313lbs, 5.30: Sandoval started 23 consecutive games at Oregon State, playing left tackle as a junior and right tackle as a senior. He was an All-Pac 10 honorable mention selection in 2001.

OT Ryan Deterding, Chadron State College, 6-5, 275lbs: Deterding started at right tackle the last two seasons for Chadron State, a Division II school in Nebraska that was 10-0 last season. He was a first-team All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference selection. Deterding played some defensive end as a redshirt freshman in 1998.

OG Sean O’Connor, Syracuse University, 6-4, 300lbs, 5.35: O’Connor had been signed by the Cardinals after the 2002 NFL Draft, but they waived him on July 16th. O’Connor was named first-team All-Big East after his senior season. He is smart and hard-working. Not naturally explosive or athletic.

OG Dwayne Pierce, Louisiana State University, 6-2, 320lbs, 5.45: Pierce is a quality rookie free agent signing by the Giants. This is a guy who has a good chance to make the roster. Pierce was LSU’s best blocker over the past two years. Pierce started 11 of LSU’s 13 games last season at right guard. In 2000, he started the final 10 games of the season, including the Peach Bowl. Was Tigers’ co-offensive player of the week for his performances against Auburn and Utah State. Pierce lacks height, but he is a powerfully built prospect with a wide body who gets movement as a drive blocker and works to finish his blocks. Strong. He’s a decent athlete, but he’s more at home as a blaster than a lineman who pulls. However, when he keeps his weight down, he does show the ability to engage defenders successfully at the second level. Steady pass protector. He didn’t lift at the Combine. Ran a 5.51 time with a 26” vertical leap.

OG Pat Crummey, Youngstown State University, 6-3, 288lbs, 5.50: Played tackle in college, but projects to guard in the pros. Crummey was named to several All-America teams after his final season at Youngstown State (AFCA, Associated Press, Sports Network, AAFF, Walter Camp). He was Youngstown’s 2001 Male Athlete of the Year and a two-time first-team All-Gateway Conference choice. Crummey started 37 of his last 38 games at offensive tackle, including all 11 last year. Pat has excellent intangibles – he’s a hard-working, blue-collar-type. Tough. Plays quicker than he times and plays with leverage. Needs to add strength and size as well as sustain his blocks better.

OG Jimmy Fitts, University of South Florida, 6-2, 321lbs, 5.30: Versatile, Fitts started 11 games at three positions on the offensive line as a senior at the University of South Florida during the 2001 season. Fitts finished his career with 33 starts.

OC Terence Wagner, California State University at Sacramento, 6-2, 290lbs, 5.18: Wagner started all 44 games in his career for Sacramento State and was a four-time All-Big Sky Conference selection.

DE Sean Guthrie, Boston College, 6-4, 270lbs, 4.85: Guthrie was a two-year starter at defensive end for Boston College. Last season he had a career-high 51 tackles, including a team-high nine sacks and a team-high tying 12 for losses. Named Big East Defensive Player of the Week after a 12-tackle performance vs. Rutgers in 2000. Started in six games, plus the Insight.com Bowl, as a sophomore and saw action in six games as a redshirt freshman in 1998. Sean is an intense, competitive player who flashes as a pass rusher. Has long arms. Lacks ideal athleticism, but has some quickness to his game. Needs to play with better leverage and technique. Interesting developmental type.

DE Nick Myers, Michigan State University, 6-3, 270lbs, 4.94: In his four-year career with the Spartans, Myers accumulated 134 tackles with eight sacks. In 2001, Myers posted 53 tackles and finished third on the team in tackles for losses with 11.

DT Matt Mitrione, University of Purdue, 6-2, 295lbs, 5.10: Mitrione was a four-year starter at Purdue who finished fifth on the school’s career list with 50 tackles for losses. In 2001, he was a first team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and a second team pick by the media. Mitrione tied for second on team and tied for eighth in Big Ten with 14 tackles for loss. He finished the season with 40 tackles (27 solo,) and four sacks. His string of 35 consecutive starts was snapped in the season opener at Cincinnati while he recovered from a foot injury. Mitrone lacks ideal size and athleticism, but he is a tough, physical, instinctive player who works very hard. Has decent initial quickness.

DT Rachman Crable, Ball State University, 6-3, 282lbs: Crable posted 56 tackles, including a team-high 13 for losses, and had three sacks and fumble recovery last season for Ball State.

DT Brad Harris, Pittsburgh State, 6-3, 285lbs: Harris started all 25 games on the defensive line the last two seasons at Pittsburg State after transferring Itawamba Community College. He was a first-team All-Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association selection after recording 34 tackles (22 solo) with 15 tackles for losses and an MIAA-leading seven sacks.

WLB Brad Rice, University of Idaho, 6-1, 231lbs: Rice arrived at Idaho as a quarterback, redshirted a year, spent three seasons in the secondary, then switched to linebacker as a senior. He led the Vandals with 106 tackles, 39 more than the runnerup. Rice also three of the team’s four interceptions, as well as two fumble recoveries and three tackles for losses.

SLB Josh Hotchkiss, Western State College, 6-1, 244lbs, 4.75: Hotchkiss is the all-time leading tackler at Western State and a two-time Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year. In four seasons, Hotchkiss accumulated 504 total tackles, including 221 unassisted tackles, 67 tackles for losses and 21 sacks. Last year, he had 128 total tackles, 54 unassisted tackle, 21 tackles for losses and 5.5 sacks. Hotchkiss was selected to the Cactus Bowl, the Division II All-Star Game, and was an AP Little All-America first-team selection. Hotchkiss lacks ideal height, but he has good bulk and excellent intangibles. He was the leader of his college defense and an instinctive, play-maker. Sheds well against the run. Not a top athlete and struggles some in coverage.

CB Calvin Coleman, University of Montana, 5-10, 181lbs, 4.60: Coleman is an inexperienced player with interesting tools. Calvin was a two-time All-Big Sky first-team selection at cornerback. He was a three-year starter at right cornerback for the Grizzlies, who were 45-10 (including playoff games) during that span and won the 2001 Division 1-AA national championship with a 15-1 record. Coleman missed two games, but finished with 62 total tackles. He had 14 tackles, eight pass deflections and an interception in Montana’s four playoff games. Coleman lacks ideal height but is a good athlete who is improving as a cornerback. Plays faster than he times, but needs to further develop a feel for pass coverage.

CB Tony Badger, University of West Alabama, 5-10, 170lbs, 4.54: Badger appeared in 42 games for West Alabama and completed his career with 133 tackles, four interceptions, 24 passes defensed and one sack. A part-time punt returner his first three seasons, he averaged 7.9 yards and scored one touchdown on 21 returns. As a senior in 2001, Badger started all 11 games and recorded 33 tackles, two interceptions and nine pass breakups. He scored a touchdown on a 79-yard interception against West Georgia.

CB Kendrick Llorens, Northwestern State University, 5-11, 172lbs, 4.61: Llorens accumulated 108 tackles, 8 interceptions, and 23 pass break-ups in his four-year career at Northwestern State University. In his senior season, he registered 36 tackles, 2 interceptions and 10 pass break-ups. One of Llorens’ two interceptions during the 2001 season was returned 41 yards for a touchdown in 47-14 win over Nicholls State.

SS Nate Coggins, State University of West Georgia, 6-0, 202lbs, 4.65: Coggins set West Georgia career records for most career solo tackles (253), total tackles (416), fumble recoveries (9), and consecutive games started (45). Also had nine career interceptions. He was the 2001 Gulf South Conference Defensive Player of the Year, a 2001 Consensus Division II All-America and 2001 All-South and All-GSC First Team selection. As a sophomore, he was the first West Georgia underclassman to be named captain since 1989. Coggins is a very aggressive player who plays the run well and excels on special teams. However, he lacks ideal athleticism and speed.

FS Ryan Clark, Louisiana State University, 5-11, 192lbs, 4.70: Clark started 36 consecutive games at free safety for LSU. In 2000, he was selected to the All-SEC second team by the league’s coaches. Ranked third on the Tigers in 2001 with 88 tackles, including 63 solo. Also intercepted three passes. Recorded five tackles, including a 13-yard sack, in the Sugar Bowl. Was LSU’s Special Teams Player of the Year in 1998. Ryan lacks ideal speed, but he is a very instinctive player who makes a lot of plays against the pass. Plays faster than his timed speed and bigger than his listed size. A bit stiff and he needs to tackle better.

S Tad Golden, University of Tennessee, 6-1, 190lbs: Golden was one of Tennessee’s six captains last season, despite not starting a game. An outstanding special teams player, he finished the 2001 season with 11 special teams tackles, including nine solos. Golden had three special teams tackles against Syracuse. On defense, Golden had 16 tackles, including 12 unassisted. As a junior in 2000, he started at strong safety against Florida and LSU. Golden had five tackles and blocked a field goal against LSU.