New York Giants 2014 NFL Draft Preview: Offensive Tackles
by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56
DISCLCAIMER: I broke the OL previews in to two categories, guards/centers and tackles. This can be difficult to organize because a few of these guys have the skill set to play different positions. But keep in mind that versatility is part of their grade and I am grading these guys where I think they would best fit for NYG.
Current OT on the NYG Roster:
William Beatty – 29 – Signed through 2017
Justin Pugh – 24 – Signed through 2016
Charles Brown – 27 – Signed through 2014
Steven Baker – 26 – Signed through 2015
Tony Kropog – 28 – Signed through 2015
Where They Stand:
The Giants have a lot of question marks along the outside of the line. However, the performance of Pugh throughout his rookie season was admirable to say the least. He locked down the RT position and appears to already be the most reliable tackle this team has. The question surrounding him is, does he stay at RT? Or would NYG consider moving him over to the position he played in college, left tackle. Part of that discussion revolves around the healthy of Beatty, who is recovering from a broken leg that could linger in to the summer. Even if he does return healthy, has Beatty done enough to possess the most important position on this OL? He is locked up long term but that can’t sway the coaches in to putting him back in the starting lineup. He was a low level starter in 2013 and he could put a strict limit on how good this team can be. Beyond the two starters, NYG has little-to-no long term promise. Brown, Baker, and Kropog are replaceable right now. They shouldn’t sway NYG from making any draft weekend decisions at this position.
Top 10 Grades:
1 – Greg Robinson – Auburn – 6’5/332: 84
2 – Jake Matthews – Texas A&M – 6’6/308: 83
3 – Taylor Lewan – Michigan – 6’7/309: 82
4 – Zach Martin – Notre Dame – 6’4/308: 81
5 – Joel Bitonio – Nevada – 6’4/302: 80
6 – Cyrus Kouandijo – Alabama – 6’7/322: 77
7 – Morgan Moses – Virginia – 6’6/314: 77
8 – Wesley Johnson – Vanderbilt – 6’5/297: 73
9 – Antonio Richardson – Tennessee – 6’6/336: 72
10 – Ju’waun James – Tennessee – 6’6/311: 72
Day One Target:
Greg Robinson – Auburn
I would put the chances of Robinson falling outside of the top 8 at less than 50%, but I think the view on him around the league is very mixed. His top 5 potential didn’t really catch on until halfway through the college 2013 season, but scouts have been talking about him for a couple years now. When looking for the “blue goose” left tackle prospect, Robinson is the kind of guy that coaches/GMs want. He has the size and movement ability of the elite, once-every-three-or-four years guy. My issue with him is there will be a lot of development and learning that needs to be done prior to him being put outside. The Auburn scheme was VERY friendly to him, in that they ran the ball a ton and rarely asked him to play in a traditional pass blocking set up. When it comes to how he fits in with NYG, I actually think he could be an elite guard. Down the road he could make the move to left tackle, but that could take a year or two. If Robinson somehow drops to NYG, they could have themselves an All-Pro caliber guard right away as well as a future left tackle.
Runner Up: Jake Matthews – Texas A&M
Day Two Target:
Joel Bitonio – Nevada
The more tape I have seen of Bitonio over the best two months, the more I believe he can be a very good starter in the NFL. NYG needs to increase their power presence up front. They simply need the blue collar guys that want to beat people up and drive them through the ground, which is the approach I see out of Bitonio every time I put his tape on. There is some underrated athleticism to his game as well. His feet are light, he can easily bend at the knees while keeping himself upright, and he has a pair of heavy hands. Bitonio graded out as a first rounder for me, but I think he could be had in round 2. He would provide some position-versatility for a unit that has questions across the board. I am thinking NYG could have another Justin Pugh-type guy here, possibly even with more upside.
Runner Up: Morgan Moses – Virginia
Day Three Target:
Wesley Johnson – Vanderbilt
I’ve watched a lot of SEC football over the past few months. One tackle stands out every time he is on the screen, and it is Johnson. He won’t wow anyone with his movement or power, and he is a little undersized when it comes to his girth. But Johnson was as productive as any offensive tackle in the conference outside of Matthews/Robinson. There is some talk of him moving inside, but I don’t see why. He outplayed Clowney and Ealy by a landslide. He has 51 straights starts to his name, majority of which were at left tackle. He is a guy that knows the game, works hard, and consistently does the little things right. I think he can be a starter down the road once he adds some strength to his game.
Runner Up: Parker Graham – Oklahoma State
Billy Turner – North Dakota State
I think there are a lot of analysts that try too hard to label the diamond in the rough of a group from a small school. Many have been all over Turner because of his size/movement combination. But truth be told, Turner is a really bad lineman. He has minimal use technique with poor footwork and light hands. He is constantly chasing after pass rushers, rarely do you see him sit and anchor a position. I’ve seen his name in some 2nd round talk, and I don’t think he is a guy you take before round 6.
Runner Up: Antonio Richardson
Like the guards/centers, there is instability at offensive tackle right now. Pugh is solid, but I’ve never been a Beatty guy and last year almost shut the door on him. He may be the starter though simply because there is nothing else on the roster than could upgrade the position. I think his contract was very short-sighted and may have been one of the worst moves this front office has made in a long time. Despite him being signed long term, I think NYG needs to address this position early on. They can’t have any more repeats of what happened last year. Their entire offense was dragged down to a lower level because of the poor play up front. There will be an opportunity with one of their first three picks to bring in a nice value pick that could potentially contribute right away. In this deep overall draft class, I think we are going to see a tackle drop way beyond his actual ranking. NYG would be foolish to pass on him at that point. This unit needs to get back to dominant, consistent, reliable football. Their starting personnel and back ups can be replaced right now with some of these rookies.