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 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.