New York Giants 2013 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Tackle

by Contributor Sy’56

Current Defensive Tackles on the Giants Roster:

Linval Joseph – 24 Years Old – Signed through 2013

Cullen Jenkins – 32 Years Old – Signed through 2015

Shaun Rogers – 34 Years Old – Signed through 2013

Mike Patterson – 29 Years Old – Signed through 2013

Marvin Austin – 24 Years Old – Signed through 2014

Markus Kuhn – 26 Years Old – Signed through 2015

Bobby Skinner – 28 Years Old – Signed through 2014

Where They Stand:

The Giants are deep along the inside of the defensive line with a good blend of youth and experience.  This is a group, when healthy, that could give opposing offenses a lot of problems because of the versatility they bring to the table.  The Giants run defense in 2012 was a problem when looking at the big picture.  The root of that problem resided at tackle where injuries piled up and lack of quality depth was exposed.  Linval Joseph is the reliable mainstay of this group.  He brings a Keith Hamilton type approach, occupying both space and blockers which can free up linebackers to roam free and make tackles.  There is actually some upside as a pass rusher and playmaking presence with him as well considering the size/quickness combination.  Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins were brought in via free agency to join 2012 acquisition Shaun Rogers to add a sense of physical presence inside.  Between those three, there could be a economic rotation of reliable and effective line-of-scrimmage-controllers.  Both Austin and Kuhn have the upside to make a difference as role players within a rotation.  They are coming off injuries and entering a crowded and competitive group of guys that are vying for roster spots and playing time.  Neither are locks to maintain a roster spot.  Skinner is a training camp body that has minimal chances of making this team.

Top 10 Grades:

Star Lotulelei – 6’3/311 – Utah: 91

Sheldon Richardson – 6’3/294 – Missouri: 87

Sharif Floyd – 6’3/297 – Florida:  84

Kawann Short – 6’3 /299– Purdue: 78

Jesse Williams – 6’4/323 – Alabama: 76

Josh Boyd – 6’3/310 – Mississippi State: 76

Johnathan Hankins – 6’3/320 Ohio State: 75

Brandon Moore – 6’5/317 – Texas: 75

Montori Hughes – 6’4/329 – Tennessee-Martin: 74

Sylvester Williams – 6’3/313 – North Carolina: 73

Early Round Target (1st-2nd):

Sheldon Richardson – Missouri

Top tier explosion off the snap.  Plays low, strong, quick.  Repeatedly beat some of his best competition one on one.  Demands a lot of attention as a pass rusher.  Quick hands with refined rush moves.  Avoids the meat of blocks, plays slippery.  Mobile behind the line of scrimmage, hard to believe he can move this way at nearly 300 pounds.  Versatile.  Plays inside and outside, handand in dirt and standing up.  Angry player that brings it week in, week out.  Can be blown off the line of scrimmage when run defending.  Does not handle the double teams well.  May not be suited for a lot of assignment football.  Background and coachability need to be looked at closely.

Richardson ends the grading process with a higher grade than Floyd on my grading sheet.  Most of what I see out there leads me to believe that Floyd will be taken way before him though.  While the need isn’t a glaring one, Richardson may have to be the pick if he somehow falls to #19.  The character concerns are there but he’s been praised by the Missouri staff for how much he has turned it around over the past year and a half.  Richardson would be a tremendous inside presence against the pass early on.  His athletic ability could make him a weapon against the popular stretch running plays and pistol offense.  He is a guy that can get in to the backfield consistently and disrupt the action.  There is always room for this kind of difference maker on any roster as long as his off the field concerns are looked in to.

Mid Round Target (3rd-5th):

Josh Boyd – Mississippi State

May lack the elite size, but Boyd is a big time presence against the inside run.  Controls the point of attack with a low, strong base and powerful punch.  Can keep blockers away from his numbers.  Quick reaction guy that can make plays along the tackle box.  Hustler that plays with excellent stamina throughout a game.  His best games were against his toughest competition.  Won’t be a pass rusher at the next level.  Doesn’t have the moves to beat guys one on one.  Doesn’t stand out as a high upside guy on any level.

Boyd was a guy that I was pleasantly surprised with when I took a closer look at him as an individual.  I saw a lot of Mississippi State in 2012, but rarely noticed him in live action.  He is one of the better blue-collar defensive linemen in this class.  There is a constant physical presence that controls the point of attack and demands attention.  He will be the kind of guy that linebackers love to play behind.  He is smart in the way he reads blocks off the snap.  Very good body control and positioning allow him to swallow double teams.  He lacks the upside of a notable player on the stat sheet, but good defensive fronts always have a guy like him in the mix.

Late Round Target (6th-Undrafted):

Brandon Moore – Texas

Has elite upside.  Huge frame that carries 315+ pounds comfortably, minimal bad weight.  Can really move in pursuit, has a quick burst and light feet.  Long arms that he uses well to keep blockers away from his numbers.  Can fire out of his stance and gain the initial advantage at the point of attack.  Strong bull rusher that collapses the pocket consistently.  Doesn’t shed blocks with his hands.  Plays too high, but it is more of a technique issue rather than a physical limitation.  Raw athlete that shows signs of dominance on one play but will look like a 3rd stringer on others.

Moore has had an interesting path to the 2013 NFL Draft.  He started off at Alabama, primed to take over for Marcell Dareus and Josh Chapman.  He was suspended and ended up in junior college prior to transferring to Texas.  He had one more year of eligibility left, but he left for financial reasons.  Moore is a diamond in the rough.  He has the tool set and athletic ability to be a terror in the NFL.  He needs to be coached up and the work ethic has to be there for him to reach his potential.  He certainly looks the part when considering his height, length, and girth.  He has shown flashes on tape of being a complete presence inside that needs to be accounted for on every down.  If he puts his best effort in to becoming a better player, Moore will be a long time starter in the NFL.

The Plan:

The Giants are host to a very deep and versatile unit along the inside of their defensive line.  With two free agent additions and the hopeful return of Rogers, Austin, and Kuhn from their respective injuries, Reese could afford to ignore this position on draft weekend.  If there is a tremendous value that falls in to their lap at any point, they will have to consider bringing one more guy in.  While the current depth chart looks strong, there are some aging veterans being relied upon.  You can never have too many defensive linemen.  Ideally, the Giants can look elsewhere during the first 5-6 rounds and look to add a Brandon Moore type in round 7 or during the undrafted free agency period.  Intra-squad competition never hurts, especially when some of the younger players in the picture have yet to prove anything that warrants a roster spot set in stone.  This is a pretty deep class of defensive tackles and a patient approach will likely be the best strategy to use.