New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Analysis
by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56
This is my draft analysis of the NYG picks and what I would have done differently with each pick. I do this every year, as it’s fun to look back years from now and compare draft classes.
I make my picks in REAL TIME. Meaning when NYG picks a player, I choose who I wanted at the time. As you’ll see, I selected a guy in the 6th round who went undrafted. I don’t wait until the draft is over and choose guys who weren’t selected yet.
And I feel the need to say this so some of you don’t have a heart attack: in no way do I view my knowledge of these guys higher than the NYG front office. They have more access to information that I do from start to finish. I do what I can and have connections here and there, but it’s not close to the resources they have. This is just a fun exercise and slightly different approach to analyzing a draft class.
In all reality, we won’t know a thing about “grades” for another 2+ years at the very least.
ROUND 1 (#9 Overall)
Ereck Flowers – OT/Miami – 6’6/329
#5 OT/#61 overall
As seen with where I had Flowers ranked, I didn’t think NYG got their value out of the pick. In no way do I look down on the selection or the player, I simply felt there were better players there and more importantly, better offensive linemen.
That said, as I stated in the OT preview, Flowers has an upside that very few OL have. His size and movement alone are worthy of a draft pick. Factor in his constantly-aggressive nature, quality tape over the past two years, and left/right versatility…one can easily make the case that Flower was a very good selection.
What does he bring to the table? NYG has needed more bullies along their offensive line for years. Too often we’ve been watching them get tossed around and physically overmatched. It almost seemed these guys were lesser than their opponents and they knew it. Bring in a force like Flowers and immediately the personality can be altered. We all know he has the size, weight room strength, and overpowering presence. But if you watch him enough (and by enough I mean a series of 10-12 plays) and you’ll find that Flowers takes a lot of pride in protecting his teammates. He hates to see his QB sacked. He fumes when defenders take extra hits at the ball carrier. It’s obvious Flowers is a protector of the offense and that is a role he takes a lot pride in. NYG has lacked that. They used to have an OL full of guys who wouldn’t hesitate a second to get in the face of an opponent if they felt a line had been crossed.
Why the lower-than normal grade on Flowers? As confident as one can be in his upside and eventual dominance, you have to realize there is just as good of a chance he doesn’t take his game to the next level. Physical attributes only bring you so far and we wouldn’t need a lot of time to show you the countless examples of that in the NFL. Flowers has a lot of starting experience but he has some terrible, and I mean terrible, stretches where his mechanics and technique make him about as effective as a tight end. We all know he can be coached up and there are probably 200+ rookies entering mini-camps across the league who have the same line attached to their name. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. My fear with him is that he’s already had plenty of experience and some quality coaching to boot, yet he has several plays where he looked like a freshman OT who just made a switch to the offensive side last week. Time will tell.
Where do I see him down the road? I think Flowers will be a starting RT in the league for awhile. I would even venture to say that if things just “kind of” work out for him, he’ll have a starting role for a decade. The questions are will he ever play the left side? And will he be a Kareem McKenzie type? My unbiased guess for both is no. I think Flowers projects to be a little less than what we see Phil Loadholt being in Minnesota. Solid but unspectacular. A starter but not a guy who you put in stone for that long, as there will always be someone out there who can replace him.
WHO I WOULD HAVE PICKED
Andrus Peat – OT/Stanford – 6’7/313
#1 OT/#4 overall
It was tough to see Peat available (as I heard NYJ had him in their top 5 overall and I assumed he was going to be their pick at #6) and watch NYG pass on him. I’ve discussed Peat more than several times over the past 6+ months, so I won’t be overly repetitive here. Peat is a left tackle of the future type. He has better feet, better hand placement, better balance, and better flexibility than Flowers. There isn’t much debating that if you watch the two back to back. Peat, however, doesn’t have the body NYG was looking for and I am convinced that was the major factor between the two that led to NYG selecting Flowers. Peat had a slight pectoral issue, a minor elbow issue, and battled a sickness throughout pre-NFL Combine training. None of which were red flagged by NFL doctors anywhere but it hampered his training. Just bad timing. Even with that in the picture, Peat had a couple impressive workouts at the combine an pro day. This guy has football in his blood and I think he is further along and more equipped for dealing with NFL defensive linemen. There are a couple issues that need fixing, but I am a lot less nervous with Peat and his progression than Flowers. I feel Peat is starting off at a higher point and they have equally high ceilings. Very curious to see how he fares in New Orleans, where he will likely play RT.
ROUND 2 (#33 Overall)
Landon Collins – S/Alabama – 6’0/228
#1 S/#15 overall
When I saw NYG made the trade up, I didn’t think of a single prospect other than Collins. I’ve been saying since the beginning of the process that NYG would have a nice grade on him, as he fits exactly what they lost out on in Rolle. I also stated that Collins plays the game very similar to what we saw in Rolle throughout his NYG career, however he is obviously a younger and more athletic version.
What exactly is NYG getting in Collins? Your typical answer is going to be that he is an in-the-box safety with the size and tackling ability of a linebacker. That’s true. But if you took the time to watch his games in their entirety over the course of the past two years, there weren’t enough roles in the Alabama defense for this guy. Strong safety? Check. Free safety? Check. Nickel cornerback? Check. Cornerback? Check. Weakside linebacker? Check. He can do it all and when you have a guy in the secondary who can do that at a high level, the options you have are limitless. Collins won’t stick with Dez Bryant in man coverage. He won’t roam the deep Cover 1 role like Earl Thomas. I get it. How many safeties can? I am more concerned with a safety’s ability to tackle, be in the right place at the right time, direct traffic, and have the versatility to prevent a quarterback from knowing where he is going to be and what his role is on a given play. Collins does all of that for the defense.
Where will Collins struggle? When he is asked to play with his back towards the quarterback, he can become lesser of a player. He has all the downhill and lateral pursuit speed and quickness you can ask for. But when he is roaming in deep coverage and needs to make left/right reads and decisions, there is definitely stiffness there. Besides that, Collins doesn’t have a glaring weakness and I think that is what NYG likes most about him.
For those that say he isn’t fast enough or he doesn’t make plays, I think you are wrong (respectfully). I have a guy who clocked him at 4.45 and 4.49 at the combine. Those “official” numbers are not used by everyone. And I would venture to say that they are not used more so than they are by teams. He carries 220+ with ease. He has really long arms. He is always moving in the right direction. He gets others moving in the right direction. Coaches and teammates always talk about his impact on others. That’s the kind of defender who needs to be brought in to play this up-and-down, left-and-right type role. And the icing on the cake? He’s been one of the best special teams gunners Nick Saban has ever had.
WHO I WOULD HAVE PICKED
Landon Collins – S/Alabama
#1 S/#15 Overall
Nothing else to add here, Collins was without a doubt my top available player left. Love the trade up and wouldn’t lose sleep over a 4th rounder (less than 15% success rate). Collins was needed on this defense and getting him at #33 was great value.
ROUND 3 (#74 Overall)
Owa Odighizuwa – DE/UCLA – 6’3/267
#1 DE/#17 Overall
As you can see, my grades are my own and the rankings of others will never deter me from my own thoughts. My rankings are based on how I think these guys will perform over their career, not how high they will be drafted over the weekend. For the first time in a few years, I let out a very loud “YES!” after a NYG selection on day 2 of the draft. The Odi selection was the best value pick NYG has made ever since I’ve been grading players and he was also the top value pick of the weekend (among all teams).
When you watch Odi on tape, it’s hard not to admire two things from start to finish. His body and his relentless motor. Odi looks like he’s been etched out of stone for the NFL 4-3 DE position. He’s evenly distributed muscle wise, he has long arms and huge hands and his joints are surrounded with an abundance of stable muscle. Ironic that his main red flag was a hip injury. Oh well. Odi brings an explosive and flexible edge rusher who can power his way through a tackle or run by him on one play, and an inside match-up problem on the next. He can certainly be moved around. I know we all think about pass defense when looking at DEs, but Odi may come in and give NYG another JPP-caliber run defender for the outside. That is a huge factor here that can impact this defense in a big way.
Some information (nothing earth-shattering) regarding the hip: there are teams in the league that didn’t even factor it in to his final grade. There are teams that took him off their board entirely. It’s crazy how there can be such differing opinions about a player’s injury past. From what I have heard and read, NYG didn’t downgrade him at all from it and he was likely a #30-#45 overall guy on their board. Their biggest issue is likely what I discussed in my report of him, he has a hard time disengaging from blockers far too often at the collegiate level. When he gets the initial pop out of his stance and his hands inside, he usually fared pretty well. But if he was hit from an unexpected angle or didn’t get off the ball fast enough, he was very ineffective. There are mechanical flaws here and there but what I noticed the most was a consistent lack of awareness and/or instinctual movement. Odi is a fast-twitched, good reaction guy but he rarely got himself in position prior to the action. He got by because he was simply that much more talented than everyone he played against.
It’s hard to tell what his role will be in the Steve Spagnuolo defensive scheme. But I think we can eventually expect a Justin Tuck type when he learns the scheme and earns his stripes. From everything I am told, he is very coachable and brings the blue collar approach on a daily basis. I think he’ll be a coach’s favorite, media favorite, teammate favorite, and fan favorite. He is exciting to watch, he works hard, and his limit is through the roof.
WHO I WOULD HAVE TAKEN
Owa Odighizuwa – DE/UCLA – 6’3/267
Again, another pick I was on the same exact page with but in all honesty, he would have been a round 2 option for me if Collins was off the board. Ecstatic about this guy and I think he will be a game changer.
ROUND 5 (#144 Overall)
Mykkel Thompson – S/Texas – 6’2/191
#31 S/#324 overall
Based on what I read on the surface, this has been the most “controversial” pick of the bunch. But getting bent out of shape about it is just wrong. Disagree? Fine. But totally blasting anyone for making a pick this late in the draft is just foolish. Thompson has size and speed, good versatility grades and was held in very high regard by the coaches and support staff at Texas. He has the traits the front office and coaches were looking for, end of story.
Many people don’t know much about Thompson and what can bring to a defense. He is tall and lean but showed a good amount of functional strength on the field. He is a long strider with the speed to catch up to guys from behind and to be honest, he may play even faster than a 4.45 guy normally would. I spent a lot of time scouting the Texas CB Quandre Diggs. He was a favorite of mine three years ago and he didn’t do very well in the eyes of people I respect over 2013 and 2014, thus I gave him lot of looks to see if there was still something there. Naturally, I got to see a lot of Thompson as well. He does have the athletic traits you want out of a guy who is paired with Landon Collins at the safety spots. He is easy and fluid in space, shows some intelligence out there. You want a deep cover man to have a lot of range, and that he does.
Why did I have a guy like this graded so low you ask? I think Thompson won’t be a good tackler in the NFL and he doesn’t have the quick-reaction to the ball. He lacks ball skills and doesn’t use his athleticism the you would think he should. We can talk about his speed and easy hips all day and rightfully so, but at the end of the day, he appears to be a better athlete than he is a football player. I just don’t like that type and I never will. They much more often than not, never pan out.
Thompson was a classic Reese/Ross mid to late round pick. A guy they could have gotten later but they took anyway because they like what he can do movement-wise. I won’t be critical of their selection but he isn’t a guy who makes me want to pass on players at other positions with much higher grades, that’s all. I feel you can get a Thompson-type every year in the UDFA period. Why use a 5th rounder on him? Regardless of that, I understand their idea to give Collins another young safety to work with as they grow up with different approaches and skill sets. But I don’t think this guy ever makes an impact on the defense long term.
WHO I WOULD HAVE PICKED
Tony Lippett – WR/Michigan State – 6’2/192
#9 WR/#55 overall
I discussed Lippett at great length a few times as a guy I would want to target on early day three of the draft. I knew he would be available and even though I didn’t consider WR a huge need, there was space on the roster for a rookie without a doubt. Lippett is a faster-than-he-runs player with a set of skills that very few receivers have when they enter the league. When you watch Lippett track a deep ball, go up in traffic, and move after the catch you’ll see what I mean. He has longer arms and bigger hands than a lot of offensive linemen and moves with the fluidity and easy-ness of an NFL caliber WR. He passed all of the tests in workouts besides the 4.6 forty. Sure, that hurt his grade but it didn’t kill him. Lippett played plenty fast in the MSU offense on tape. And a little extra here that I thought NYG would be interested in: he played some CB for the Spartans and he played it at a high level. That tells me he could have easily been a force on special teams as a core guy. But you know what? If he just didn’t pan out as a WR, it would be nice to see him get a shot at CB. His tool set would make scouts drool if that’s where he played all four years at Michigan State. It didn’t really factor in to his grade, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t factor in to the decision to draft him.
ROUND 6 (#186 Overall)
Geremy Davis – WR/UCONN
#26 WR/#175 overall
Slightly puzzled by the selection but again, I refuse to be critical of a 6th round pick. NYG sees something in this kid and they think he will be able to make an impact. There is a trend here with the selection of Davis that we’ve seen this front office use in the past. He came in to 2014 with pretty high expectations after a record setting junior year. Statistically he went backwards and the pre-draft workouts didn’t go as well as anticipated. Davis was expected to be a 4th/5th rounder if we discussed him at this time last year. NYG thinks they are getting a big time value here.
Davis is big and physical. He has a ton of length with big hands. He is limited as a route runner but a guy with this kind of size and catching ability can be used for sure. He is aggressive in a crowd and tough over the middle. Even with that said, I think this pick was primarily about special teams with the long term hope that he can develop a better WR skill set. He has an aggressive nature to him and will work his way up the special teams depth chart.
Why don’t we discuss his WR ability more? There just isn’t much there from an NFL perspective. NYG admitted he is a guy who doesn’t separate from defensive backs and that was my most glaring, consistent weakness that I had on him. It’s tough to get excited about a guy like this because Manning likes to have those quicker-than-fast receivers who can create room. Davis lacks the fluidity and assurance that gets a young player on the field.
I don’t think he will factor into this offense unless the injuries pile up. And when you look at special teams, we aren’t talking about a special guy there. I think there were several options that could have helped in that area more so than what we will see in Davis.
WHO I WOULD HAVE PICKED
Cole Farrand – LB/Maryland – 6’2/231
#6 LB/#58 overall
Here is proof that I make picks in real time, as Farrand ended up going undrafted and coincidentally picked up by NYG in the free agency period. In all honesty, I would be shocked if he didn’t make this team. He is exactly what this depth chart needs and I think he’ll be a starter down the road.
Farrand is a fiery player who is constantly playing through the whistle and trying to finish off each play with a sense of violence and power. He can read the action before and right after the snap, putting himself in position to make an impact. He is savvy when working his way through traffic towards the ball carrier. Rarely does he get locked on to and his late, explosive gear makes him a tough catch for linemen. Farrand has the sideline-to-sideline range and he is a guy who makes tackles at full speed with finishing power. I wasn’t expecting big time workout numbers but he finished with times that rival some of the best athletes at the position in the entire draft. I think this kid has it all.
Why does a kid like this slip in the draft? Well I think he is playing a position that has simply lost value in the eyes of many teams. He would have been a 2nd or 3rd rounder a decade ago but with the amount of roster spots designated to defensive backs and pass rushers these days, teams are simply showing less demand for this kind of player. Farrand lacks some bulk for between-the-tackles play as well. He weighed in at 231 but I wouldn’t be surprised if he played sub 225 his entire career at Maryland. That is just tough to do in the NFL. He is a guy who needs strength work.
Where would he fit in to this roster? Farrand is a much more athletic version of Mark Herzlich. I would love to see him replace Herzlich this year but I know the staff loves him. Farrand can be a special teams demon with his blend of speed and movement in tight spaces. He tackles well on the move and he plays like his hair is on fire. I think NYG needs more guys like this on defense. They are trending towards a more athletic LB group and Farrand only adds to that. I think he will be a starting NFL linebacker who can stay on the field all three downs.
ROUND 7 (#226 Overall)
Bobby Hart – OT/Florida State – 6’5/329
#29 OT/#321 overall
Another young (20-year old) kid who is still growing in to his body. Perhaps this is a trend we’ll look for in the draft for NYG. Hart was part of the best offensive line in the country last year. I think his future resides inside and it appears that’s where he is headed after seeing what the NYG decision makers discussed.
Hart is young but he already has a power presence that rivals guys that are older and stronger than him. He has heavy hands and knows how to use his hips to get a drive. Hart is considered a people mover and could likely hack it as a run blocker right away in the NFL. I think he could have been a higher draft pick had he been playing guard his entire career. His use of leverage and inside hand position shows he understands some of the finer points to playing along the OL.
Hart is a poor space athlete. He was exposed on several occasions at FSU and their protection schemes had to be shifted to aid him too many times. I would be surprised if NYG had any intention of keeping him at OT. Hart shows sloppy footwork and struggled to adjust to double moves and speed rushers. He isn’t ready for the speed and complexity of the NFL defensive pass rush schemes.
I think Hart will be a practice sqiad guy. He’ll be safe there because nobody is bringing this kid in to play in the league this year. Considering what he does have going for him now and the fact that he is still a baby in terms of physical progression, this can be considered a nice gamble by NYG. 7th rounders pretty much never work out statistically but this was a solid pick for them because of where he can be if he just tunes up a couple parts. He already has some things going for him that most OL selected this late need a couple years to develop.
WHO I WOULD HAVE PICKED
Ben Koyack – TE/Notre Dame – 6’5/255
#2 TE/#67 overall
As I said earlier, taking players this late in the draft is such a crap shoot. What I was looking for here was a guy who had a realistic shot at making the roster at a position of instability. I look at the NYG TE situation and I see a spot for a rookie who can play two ways (blocking/receiving). Koyack comes from a program that has been putting some quality TEs in to the league over the past decade and he will keep the trend going.
Koyack is a two-way tight end. Prior to the 2014 season he was know for his quality blocking and presence at the point-of-attack. He gets his big mitts on a defender with inside hand position and locks on well. Very quick-footed and easily won the battles in space against linebackers. This past season, however, Koyack was given the opportunity to run more routes and I think he showed glimpses of being a guy who could catch a lot of underneath passes. I gave him a top tier grade for hands and consistency of catching the ball. He is so reliable and will sneak by defenders up the seam if you sleep on him, he isn’t just a blocker who can catch easy balls. Koyack is a complete tight end who was stuck behind some quality guys on the depth chart for the majority of his career.
Koyack lacks the physical ability (speed/explosion/agility) that some are always needing when scouting a tight end. I think it’s less important in a situation that NYG is working with. I think there is a lot of value in a guy like Koyack, very much like what Jake Ballard gave NYG in 2011. I’ll be curious to see what he does in JAC but again, he will find himself behind some quality TEs for a year or two at least.
There you have it, guys. For the millionth time I do this for fun and to compare years down the road. In no way is this a negative post about the NYG decision makers. If anything…I feel they did as good a job on this draft as they’ve ever done. As always though, we’ll have to wait and see.
1 – Ereck Flowers – OT/Miami
2 – Landon Collins – S/Alabama
3 – Owa Odighuzuwa – DE/UCLA
5 – Mykkel Thompson – S/Texas
6 – Geremy Davis – WR/Connecticut
7 – Bobby Hart – OT/Florida State
1 – Andrus Peat – OT/Stanford
2 – Landon Collins – S/Alabama
3 – Owa Odighizuwa – DE/UCLA
5 – Tony Lippett – WR/Michigan State
6 – Cole Farrand – LB/Maryland
7 – Ben Koycak – TE/Notre Dame