New York Giants 2013 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive End

by Contributor Sy’56

Current Defensive Ends on the Giants Roster:

Justin Tuck – 30 Years Old – Signed through 2013

Jason Pierre-Paul – 24 Years Old – Signed through 2015

Mathias Kiwanuka – 30 Years Old – Signed through 2015

Adwale Ojomo – 24 Years Old – Signed through 2014

Adrian Tracy – 26 Years Old – Signed through 2013

Justin Trattou – 24 Years Old – Signed through 2013

Matt Broha – 23 Years Old – Signed through 2014

Where They Stand:

What was once considered to be the one area the Giants stood out among the rest of the league has become a situation with several long term question marks.  Justin Tuck still brings the versatility to play inside-out, creating mismatches across the point of attack.  Even though his production dipped and his injuries seem to be intensifying, he still brings value because of the presence he has against blockers.  As he enters his 30 year old season, his role has changed from focal point to role player.  Where he will be over the next couple years is up in the air.  Pierre-Paul and Kiwanuka may be the starting duo we see over the next few seasons.  Both have the length, athletic ability, and power to stay on the field for a lot of snaps and produce at a high level.  Is Pierre-Paul still considered a top tier talent?  Or is he closer to the guy we saw last year?  The one that finished with 6.5 sacks and had a hard time beating tackles on on one is not what we thought he would be at this time last year.  The backups leave a lot to be desired.  They offer a current level of sub-par performance and minimal long term upside.  This is now a unit one must worry about if an injury or two arise at some point.  Ojomo and Tracy have the tools and can hold their own, but neither will be big time pass rushers.  Trattou and Broha might make the team, but won’t factor in to the team’s plans over draft weekend.

Top 10 Grades:

Ezekiel Ansah – 6’5/271 – BYU: 83

Datone Jones – 6’4/283 – UCLA: 82

Malliciah Goodman – 6’4/276 – Clemson: 80

Bjoern Werner – 6’3/266 – Florida State: 78

Sam Montgomery – 6’3/262 – LSU: 78

Cornellius Carradine – 6’4/276 – Florida State: 75

Margus Hunt – 6’8/278 – SMU: 75

William Gholston – 6’6/281 – Michigan State: 74

DaMontre Moore – 6’5/250 – Texas A&M: 74

Alex Okafor – 6’5/264 – Texas: 70

Early Round Target (1st-2nd):

Datone Jones – UCLA

Incredibly strong hands that can control and shed.  Exerts power from his base and delivers a violent punch that jolts the blocker.  Versatile.  Can play multiple spots, multiple roles along the front line.  Played in the 3-4 and 4-3 scheme.  Surprising quickness and speed off the edge.  Smart player after the snap that reads blocks well.  Follows the action and gets in on a lot of plays.  Not a true edge rusher that will beat blockers to the edge.  May need to play an inside role to be effective.  A little slow to pursue in space.  Plays too high at times, taking away power advantages.

Jones earned a first round grade on my board last fall because of his power presence and versatility.  This is a game of matchups.  Jones is a guy that can overpower the pass blocking tackles, but out-quick the interior blockers.  Either way, he is a productive and effective player that can stay on the field no matter the situation.  Finding a guy with this kind of versatility is exactly what the Giants defense is looking for after the departure of Osi Umenyiora and the future of Tuck being unknown.  He is certainly worth a top 20 pick and will likely be my choice for the Giants at #19 overall.

Mid Round Target (3rd-5th):

Malliciah Goodman – Clemson

Freakish tool set with incredibly long arms (36+ inches), big hands (11 inches).  Has a developing frame that will need more girth, but has plenty of room for it.  Mechanically sound with consistent approach.  Plays a violent game with strong hands a plenty of knee bend.  Quick arms and quick feet.  Initial pop off the edge is average.  Loses his power presence when playing the run.  May be a situational guy rather than an every down player.

I gave Goodman a 1st round grade as well, much higher than anything I have seen out there.  He is the kind of college player that NFL coaches will fall in love with because of the upside and coachability.  Goodman is well known and respected for his work ethic between seasons.  There is some natural talent here and a tool set that some NFL players only wish they had.  Goodman played behind some NFL defensive ends early in his career but has impressed me enough over the past two seasons to convince he can be a productive starter.  He will be on the radar starting in round 2 or 3 for the Giants, as this would be an ideal situation for him to play in.

Late Round Target (6th-UDFA):

Quanterus Smith – 6’5/250 -Western Kentucky –  (Grade: 68)

Top tier quickness and fluidity in a phone booth.  Very effective in short space with quick feet and active hands.  Bends well and can play a low, strong game.   Well-developed rush moves that can make him a terror to deal with.  Stronger against the run in between the tackles than you would think by looking at him.  Tore ACL in November, but should be ready by training camp.  Loses track of leverage at some points and gets pushed around.  Will allow blockers to get inside too often.  Not a quick reaction player.  Questionable on-field IQ.

Smith led the nation in sacks (12.5) prior to the injury to his knee.  While he played against a lower level of competition, he did put together a 3-sack game against Alabama.  He showed in that game that he has the NFL caliber athleticism and power to play at a high level in the league.  Smith may not time well in workouts, but he is clearly a guy that can beat blockers with his feet and hands.  He is very quick and balanced with enough upper body power to become an effective pass rusher.  He needs to recover from his knee and add some bulk before he can play in a 4-3 though.  The upside is there to be a starter and he should be available late.  If the Giants want to address other spots on the depth chart early, Smith should get a hard look late.

The Plan:

If the Giants want to bring their defense back to a respectable level, they need to strengthen their group in the trenches.  They have already brought in a couple veteran defensive tackles via free agency, but they remain thin outside with some serious questions when looking at the future.  Bringing in multiple defensive ends via the draft year after year was a great approach that helped bring a lot of success to New York.  With that in mind, Reese will likely look to add another quality piece that can contribute early.  The draft’s top defensive end, Ezekial Ansah, will be gone prior to them being on the clock.  As I said earlier, Jones is a picture-perfect fit for the Giants defense and if he is available at 19, he should be the pick barring a big time value elsewhere falling in their lap.  If they do in fact go elsewhere with that first rounder, there will be enough value somewhere in the middle rounds.  This is a pretty deep class of defensive ends when looking for guys that can fill multiple roles.  There are not a lot of true edge rushers but this is a scheme that will rotate a lot of guys inside and out.  Bringing in competition will push the current contributors and add a sense of long term security to the most vital position on the defensive side of the ball.