New York Giants 2000 NFL Draft Review

FIRST ROUND – HB Ron Dayne, 5-11, 255lbs, 4.60, Wisconsin: Well, for months most prognosticators felt the Giants would take the Heiman Trophy winner and in the end, they proved to be correct. The New York media pretty much had this pegged as well, with only Dayne and HB Shaun Alexander being mentioned prominently as options. I like the pick; the only regret I have is that I wish the Giants were able to trade down a few spots and take Dayne.

Dayne is a huge back with surprisingly quick feet for his size. He doesn’t have very good initial quickness, but once he gets underway, he is a very tough customer to bring down. Dayne is big all over with huge, powerful legs. He gets yardage after the initial hit due to his size and strength. He runs with good pad level and shows very good vision and patience. Dayne follows his blocks very well and has the ability to make people miss with a little side step. He can beat you with power and run over you, but he keeps defenders honest with his agility too. Ron has proved to be super-productive – he rushed for over 7,000 yards in college – and many of those were very long touchdown runs despite the lack of a fast 40-yard dash time.

The big negatives on him are that he is relatively inexperienced as a receiver (though he supposedly has decent hands) and he hasn’t had a lot of exposure in a non-I-Back offense. He will take a little bit of time to get adjusted to the different pro sets and the receiving game as well as picking up the blitz in the passing game. He also must keep his weight in check and not allow himself to get too heavy.

Provided Dayne plays as well as expected and the Giants can get their offensive line to play at a reasonable level, Dayne should force opposing defenses to play closer to the line of scrimmage in order to defend him. This should help to free up the deep passing game for QB Kerry Collins and his receivers.

SECOND ROUND – DT/DE Cornelius Griffin, 6-3, 295lbs, 4.85, Alabama: I thought the Giants might take a defensive tackle here. In my draft prediction, I had them taking DT Darwin Walker. Walker, LB Brandon Short, CB Ike Charlton, CB Lewis Sanders, WR Dez White, and WR Joey Porter are other guys who interested me when I saw they were still available. However, Griffin is a very good pick at this point in the draft and he fills a vital need the Giants had up front on defense.

Griffin could project to defensive end. He combines good size and athleticism. Cornelius is an improving player and he demonstrates fine instincts. He has good short-area quickness for his size and has good agility and speed for a tackle. Cornelius has a burst and has some explosion off the ball. He does need to get stronger and play with better leverage against the run – he has some problems at the point-of-attack – but he is very active and is a solid overall run defender. Griffin is also a fine pass rusher with a nice spin move. He showed very well at the Senior Bowl and the Combine.

Griffin most likely will not start his rookie year, but he should become a very important situational pass rusher and a guy who can spell Christian Peter.

THIRD ROUND – WR Ron Dixon, 6-1, 183lbs, 4.45, Lambuth (TN): This pick was certainly a shocker. Especially with talented guys like LB Brandon Short, LB Nate Webster, LB Corey Moore, OC John St. Clair, and CB Lewis Sanders still available. My initial gut reaction was, “Wouldn’t have this guy been available in round 4, 5, or 6?” But what do I know? I’ll tell you one thing – this was a ballsy pick for the Giants.

Dixon splashed onto the scene after his very strong performance at the Gridiron All-Star Classic in Florida. This game was filled with a number of big-time NFL prospects from major schools in Florida and Dixon showed very well against them in practices leading up to the game. Dixon has decent size and very good athleticism. He is fast (being timed by the Giants at 4.45 on a grass field), quick, and agile. Dixon accelerates out of his breaks, adjusts well to the ball, and has good hands. Some reports say he runs good routes; others say he needs to improve in that area (I tend to believe the latter given his small-school background). Dixon definitely will need some time to read pro-style coverages. However, he showed dramatic improvement during the All-Star practices. Head Coach Jim Fassel said he is raw and will take some time to develop as a regular receiver, but the Giants feel that he will make an instant impact in the return game along with Bashir Levingston.

Dixon began his college career at Itawamba Community College (1994-1995) and then attended West Georgia (1996), before stepping away from football for two years. In 1999, he caught 89 passes for 1,735 yards and 19 touchdowns (he had 22 touchdowns overall). He also averaged 25.5 yards per return as a kick returner.

With Amani Toomer and Ike Hilliard firmly entrenched as the starters in 2000 and the expectation that Joe Jurevicius will step it up, there is not pressure on Dixon for him to perform right away in the receiving department. His selection does not bode well for Brian Alford, however, unless Alford steps it up. At the very least, Dixon should team with Levingston in 2000 to form a dangerous kick return duo.

FOURTH ROUND – MLB/OLB Brandon Short, 6-3, 255lbs, 4.80, Penn State: This was a very good pick for the Giants at the spot where they drafted him. Indeed, he is a guy who I was looking at in the second and third rounds. Short could be a prospect in the middle (where he played at Penn State) or on the strongside. Brandon is a big, strong, physical linebacker who lacks top athleticism and instincts. However, he does have decent speed and movement skills for a big linebacker and at times he can flash an explosive quality. Brandon is a good run defender and tackler. He can fill the hole, but he needs to shed and avoid low blocks better. Brandon has long arms which should enable him to play off of blocks better than he does. He does need to improve in coverage, but he is a fine blitzer. Short has fine leadership qualities and is smart.

FIFTH ROUND – CB Ralph Brown, 5-10, 185lbs, 4.55, Nebraska: This was another quality selection at this point in the draft. Brown lacks ideal size and stop-watch speed, but he is an instinctive play-maker who plays faster than he times. Ralph is a pretty good athlete – he has good agility and quickness in coverage. Fluid and agile. Brown demonstrates a fine feel for defending passes. Ralph reads opposing quarterbacks well and shows a nice break on the ball. He is a solid hitter and tackler. He is a hard worker both on an off the field.

SIXTH ROUND – MLB/OLB Dhani Jones, 6-1, 240lbs, 4.65, Michigan: Yet another good value selection from a major college program.Jones has experience at middle and outside linebacker – probably a better candidate outside. Jones lacks ideal height, but has good bulk. He is a good, but not great, athlete. He moves well for his size and has good speed. He is not overly instinctive and he needs to shed blocks in better fashion, but he is an aggressive run defender. Tough guy. He is a good blitzer. Jones is so-so in coverage, but he should improve in that area due to his athleticism . Dhani plays hard and is a fine competitor. Like Brandon Short, he is a smart guy and a leader. He should play well on special teams.

SEVENTH ROUND – DE Jeremiah Parker, 6-3, 265lbs, 4.85, California: Parker is more of a finesse, pass rushing defensive end who displays fine athleticism – he is fast, quick, and agile. Has long arms. He is not a physical run defender however and he does need to play with better leverage and toughness at the point-of-attack. Very inconsistent player. At times his flashes very good ability; at other times he disappears for stretches of the game. Parker could come on once he adds more strength and bulk.

Rookie Free Agent Signings

QB Bill Burke, 6-4, 200lbs, 5.04, Michigan State: Burke has good height, but he needs to add more strength and bulk. He has a good arm and has decent mobility. Burke is also tough in the pocket. A very streaky thrower – he needs more consistency (i.e., accuracy). Bill needs a lot of work on his throwing mechanics. This is a decent signing by the Giants because Burke could surprise – he has the tools and comes from a major college program.

HB Cordell Mitchell, 6-0, 195lbs, 4.55, Penn State: Mitchell was a back-up at Penn State. He is a strong, tough, competitive runner with fine vision and instincts. Cordell lacks quick feet and is more of a north-south, between-the-tackles runner (he’s not real elusive). Not real explosive – he’s a “meat-and-potatoes”-type of runner.

HB Omar Bacon, 6-1, 208lbs, 4.75, Utah: I have very little information on this prospect.

WR Jeremy Watkins, 5-11, 175lbs, 4.60, Montana: Lacks size and speed, but he is a quick, smart, and tough player who makes plays. Has been compared to a poor-man’s “Wayne Chrebet.”

OT Jim Goff, 6-4, 305lbs, 5.10, Lafayette: Jim Goff was a highly-sought after rookie free agent after the draft due to his long-snapping-ability. Supposedly six other teams were interested in signing him. Due to his long-snapping-ability alone, he has a good chance to stick on the roster. Goff played tackle in college, but could project to guard or center in the pros.

OT Chris Bober, 6-5, 321lbs, 5.35, Nebraska-Omaha: Played left tackle in college, but could project to guard in the pros. Bober has very good size, but he is a limited athlete. Chris is tough, aggressive, and competitive. Works to sustain on his run blocks, but needs to player with better leverage. Lacks mobility and is a bit on the stiff side. Anchors well in pass protection, but quickness can give him problems.

LT Pita Elisara, 6-4, 287lbs, 5.45, Indiana: Played left tackle in college; could project to guard. Pita lacks ideal size, but he is a decent athlete with fine quickness. Plays with leverage, but needs to sustain in better fashion. Tough, aggressive, and competitive lineman. Needs to get stronger and add more bulk. May have problems dealing with outside quickness as the next level.

OT Chris Ziemann, 6-7, 283lbs, 5.20, Michigan: Could project to guard. Tough, aggressive player who plays hard all the time. Needs to add strength and bulk. Limited athlete on the stiff side who has problems with quickness. Needs to play with better leverage, but he works to sustain. Long shot to make team.

OT John Kuzora, 6-5, 315lbs, Montclair State: I have very little information on this prospect.

DE Cedric Pittman, 6-4, 260lbs, 4.70, Nevado-Reno: Athletic player with very good speed and quickness. Plays with leverage, but he needs to shed blocks better in run defense. Gets taken out of the play too much, but does flash ability. Decent pass rusher. Needs to play with more intensity. Could surprise.

DT Faiva Talaeai, 6-4, 290lbs, Oregon: I have very little information on this prospect.

WLB Jack Golden, 6-1, 230lbs, 4.75, Oklahoma State: Jack missed the 1998 season with a serious knee injury. Golden lacks good size, but he is a good athlete. Jack is a tough, aggressive player against the run, but he can be overpowered at the point-of-attack at times. He has good strength, but he needs to shed better. Good blitzer. He has the athleticism to do well in pass defense, but he needs to improve in that department. Golden is a good special teams performer. Golden is talented enough to stick with the Giants as a back-up on the weakside.

WLB Kevin Lewis, 6-1, 225lbs, 4.70, Duke: Lewis lacks size, but he is a decent athlete with good range. Needs to shed blocks better against the run. Should do well on special teams.

CB Fred Lewis, 5-10, 175lbs, 4.50, Louisiana Tech: Lack ideal size, but he is a good athlete with fine speed. Makes a lot of plays, but also gives up some. Needs to improve his run defense and be more physical with receivers in pass defense.

S Tinker Keck, 6-1, 217lbs, 4.55, Cincinnati: Tinker was once a fairly-highly regarded prospect who suffered a serious knee injury in 1998. He did not play well after the injury, but if he can regain some of his earlier form, this is a good signing for the Giants. When healthy, he is a good athlete with quick feet who makes big-plays. Keck is a better zone player than man-on-man guy – he’s a tad on the stiff side. A smart, instinctive competitor who plays hard. He is an aggressive run defender, but he needs to tackle better. Good special teams player.

P/PK Brian Schmitz, 6-0, 168lbs, 4.80, North Carolina: Has decent leg strength, but he is not very consistent. Can placekick and punt. Had a solid senior year.