Apr 272019
 
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Julian Love, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (November 24, 2018)

Julian Love – © USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, the New York Giants made six more selections in the 2019 NFL Draft:

  • 4th Round: CB Julian Love, 5’11, 195lbs, 4.54, University of Notre Dame
  • 5th Round: LB Ryan Connelly, 6’2”, 242lbs, 4.68, University of Wisconsin
  • 5th Round: WR Darius Slayton, 6’1”, 190lbs, 4.37, Auburn University
  • 6th Round: CB Corey Ballentine, 5’11, 196lbs, 4.46, Washburn University
  • 7th Round: OT George Asafo-Adjei, 6’5”, 306lbs, 5.03, University of Kentucky
  • 7th Round: DT Chris Slayton, 6’4”, 307lbs, 5.09, Syracuse University

CB JULIAN LOVE SCOUTING REPORTLove is a Junior entry who started three years in college. Love lacks ideal height and speed, but he is a quick, instinctive, dependable coverman. He sticks to his man in coverage and will make plays on the football. Love is not afraid to mix it up with a receiver and reacts well to double moves.

SY’56’s Take on CB Julian Love: Junior entry who was an All American in both 2017 and 2018. Leaves Notre Dame as the all time leader in pass break ups and was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award this past season. Love is a pro-ready corner that checks a lot of boxes when it comes to technique, reaction speed, and quickness. He is a weapon against the pass when covering the short and intermediate passing game. While his lack of size and strength can be exposed by certain match-ups, Love has the kind of game that can be moved inside-out. Safe and reliable corner that has starter written all over him.

*The thing that stood out to me about Love over and over was his safe, dependable play. He looked like a pro each week from an awareness and technique perspective respectively. Rarely did I ever find him out of position or lacking the control needed to make plays on the ball. I know I’m not getting a star here, but I am getting dependability and as I said earlier, that is what I want at the position.

LB RYAN CONNELLY SCOUTING REPORTConnelly was a 2-year starter in college. Instinctive, smart, tough inside linebacker. He has a nice combination of size and overall athleticism. Connelly is a good, solid run defender who is at his best when moving forward. He needs to become a more consistent tackler. Connelly is better in zone coverage than man-to-man. He should do well on special teams.

SY’56’s Take on LB Ryan Connelly: Inside guy who fits the Giants’ scheme well. Two-year starter who was productive and consistent in both a good and bad way. Won’t reach the sidelines via speed but he showed good instincts, good reactions. Not a guy you want in coverage. I think he will be a good special teamer, has a nose for the ball and gets through traffic on the move.

WR DARIUS SLAYTON SCOUTING REPORTSlayton is a junior entry who started two years in college. He combines good size with outstanding overall athletic ability and speed. Slayton stretches the field and can get deep. He is dangerous after the catch. Slayton needs to improve his route running and become more consistent catching the football.

SY’56’s Take on WR Darius Slayton: Fourth year junior entry. Slayton arrived at Auburn as an accomplished high school track athlete and enters the NFL with a very high ceiling. His speed and burst are functional and usable on the field, he is much more than a track athlete. He consistently averaged near-20 yards per catch over his career and displayed dominant stretches against SEC cornerbacks.. He is a deep threat who will make a defense account for him at all times. While there are limitations to his game underneath and at the point of attack, this kind of deep threat and ability to extend plays after the catch is worth the risk. Boom or bust.

*I am taking a chance on Slayton, I simply have too many plus game notes over the past two seasons to ignore it. The Auburn offense is difficult to scout as it could create numerous false opportunities but at the same time it may prevent a guy like Slayton from really showing everything he can do. I love the way he moves and his worst case may be a Ted Ginn caliber vertical threat.

CB COREY BALLENTINE SCOUTING REPORT: Ballentine was a 2-year starter at a Division-II college. He combines decent-size and excellent overall athletic ability, quickness, and speed. Raw, he will need a lot of technique work. Ballentine proved he can compete with the big boys at the Senior Bowl. He has experience returning kicks.

OT GEORGE ASAFO-ADJEI SCOUTING REPORT: A two year starter at right tackle in college, Asafo-Adjei combines decent size and athleticism with good effort. He was a team captain.

DT CHRIS SLAYTON SCOUTING REPORT: Slayton was a 3-year starter in college. Versatile, he has experience at both tackle and end, and probably projects to the latter in the Giants’ 3-4 defense. He is strong with decent size, long arms, and first-step quickness. Slayton is a good run defender who plays with leverage. He can be disruptive and flashes at times, but he needs to do it more often. Team captain.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER DAVE GETTLEMAN AND HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR: (Video)

DAVE GETTLEMAN: We got 10 guys, seven on defense, three on offense. You know, really we feel like we addressed everything we pretty much wanted to with this group. You know, today we had a lot of speed today. Notre Dame kid, Wisconsin, Auburn, Ballentine, all those guys can run. Julian Love, we see him competing for the nickel and he can play outside, as well. Ryan Connelly, we see him as a versatile Mike linebacker, very smart, instinctive kid. Darius Slayton is a take the top off the coverage guy. He’s a 4.3 guys who plays 4.3, so he’s got big time speed. Corey Ballentine, another height, weight speed guy and just played at a small school, and he’s got ball skills, he’s got ball production. He has played the nickel, as well. We’ve got the big tackle from Kentucky, George (Asafo-Adjei). I’m not going to try to pronounce his last name. I don’t want to embarrass myself. But we see him competing at right tackle, and then we’ve got the Chris Slayton kid from Syracuse who’s a big, violent, inside banger.

So we just — I stated previously in the postseason presser and a couple times since then that we needed to help this defense, and I feel we addressed that and we filled in some holes with the offense.

PAT SHURMUR: These are all guys that are going to — the first few guys certainly come in and we’re going to expect a lot from them, and everybody here has got a role on our team. Julian Love is a really, really good football player. He can play in the slot. He can play high. He’s kind of got that tweener kind of corner safety ability, which makes him a unique player for us. Ryan Connelly we add to the linebacker group, he’s one of those guys, he can run sideline to sideline, very physical, and he’s a very, very effective, very productive guy. Darius Slayton is an outside receiver that has some inside characteristics, but the 4.3 speed shows up on tape. He’s extremely fast. He can get behind the defense, and we all know the effect that can have for an offense. And then Corey Ballentine, he’s just a good solid football player, and he’s a guy that’s going to come in and compete. And the one thing to remember is all these guys as they fight for a spot on 1st, 2nd and 3rd down, these guys all can run, so they’ll be contributing on 4th down, on special teams. And then the last two picks, the seventh-round picks, these were guys that we had targeted, so we picked an offensive and a defensive lineman to fill out the group The good thing about this, and as I watch the process, these are all players that we like for numerous reasons, and they were available and in the conversation when we were picking them, so we weren’t reaching around the board trying to find guys. In fact, we just kind of hit it right with these players, and so they’re medically fine, they’re great human beings, and they’re outstanding football players, so we’re glad to add them to our team.

Q. What’s the reason for three corners, not a safety or three corners before the offensive tackle?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: Well, I think that, again, I’m not going to reach. I mean, they were there. These guys were graded and evaluated, and again, what happened was — with the tackles and the defensive linemen, really after we took Dexter, it feels like three weeks ago, after we took Dexter two days ago, the defensive tackle group fell off the face of the earth, and once we got down through the — once the fourth round was over, our offensive tackles, that value was pretty much wiped out The Kentucky kid we had in the fifth round, and the Slayton kid, they were both fifth-round values for us. You can never have too many corners, either. Let’s let them compete. We’ve got some really good-quality — some good returning guys. Really another draft pick for us is Sam Beal. He had the surgery. He’s coming along well. The way the league is, you guys are the ones that keep banging at us, pass rushers, corners, that’s what we did. We listened to you, you know.

Q. Did you know — you ended up taking 10 guys. Did you know — you have to see how it all manipulates and you can’t force it, but did you pretty much go into this on Thursday and say we’re going to get a lot of defensive players, it’s not going to be three or four, we have to build this defense and we’re going to do that, whether it’s five, six, seven, eight, it’s got to be a lot of defensive players?
PAT SHURMUR: Well, I think from my perspective, when we were getting ready to pick, there were some offensive players that ended up being in the conversation on the same line, and we just made some decisions that directed us towards the defense. We knew we were going to make some significant changes to the defense, and we already have, two safeties, Markus Golden. So we’ve done some significant things on defense prior to the draft. We just want to try to improve our football team and make moves that are going to improve the whole team, and I think it’s pretty obvious by the way the season played out, there was a pretty — it was pretty bright that we needed to make some significant changes in some areas, so we went into the draft trying to make our team better. Each individual pick you go through the process of deciding, is this the guy or the guy next to him, and it kind of fell to where we probably picked maybe a corner or two more just because the value of those players was good. So that’s how it kind of filled out.

DAVE GETTLEMAN: I’ll give you an example. Corey Ballentine, he’s 5’10”, he’s 196 pounds, he runs 4.44 plays 4.44. He’s got ball skills, he’s played the nickel, he’s played outside. How do you pass him up?

Q. The natural reaction when you draft corners is, is Janoris still going to be on your roster. Is there any doubt in your mind that he won’t be here?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: No, Janoris has a bunch of puppies he’s got to train.

PAT SHURMUR: He’ll become a good teacher. I admire Janoris. He’s tough. He’s competitive. He always answers the bell, and I’ve gained a huge appreciation for him coaching him over the last year or so, and so just keep — put all these young guys in a room with him, and I think Janoris will be Janoris, and if these young guys are smart enough to listen, then they’re going to learn a lot of really good stuff.

Q. We only talked to these guys for a couple minutes after you drafted them, but a lot of them seemed like extremely high-character guys, team captains, very grateful, very — what you’re looking for, right, as far as culture. Is it tough when you’re scouting these players to — because you don’t want to reach, right, to find a guy who has the value and talent and also has that character along with it, especially in a class that you assembled here with a lot of them who seem to have both?

DAVE GETTLEMAN: You know, it’s part of the evaluation process, and I bang on our scouts big time, you’ve got to vet these guys out. Very honestly, these are the kinds of kids we want to bring in here, smart, intelligent kids who hate to lose, and that’s what we’re looking for. This was an especially unique group. But we put blues on these kinds of guys, and we had a draft that was almost completely blue because that’s what you want to build around.

Q. What about George (Asafo-Adjei) specifically impressed you? On the phone he told us a little bit about his adversity, his background, single mom, all that, and obvious that he’s not a guy who’s on a lot of mock drafts, so something must have clicked, right?

DAVE GETTLEMAN: Well, it’s the length. It was the toughness. You know, he’s played in the SEC — he’s going to see good pass rushers every week. He’s kind of getting a little taste of what’s ahead of him. Like I said, the length, the toughness, and the ability to fight through, lining up in the SEC every Saturday.

Q. We know Remmers came in for a visit a month ago. Any update on where that stands?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: Well, he’s still rehabbing, and we’re continuing to talk with him, so we’ll see.

Q. Are you optimistic that that could happen?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: Time will tell. Got to rehab. Going to bring him in and take another look eventually.

Q. That’s essentially the plan then, bring him in another time?
PAT SHURMUR: We had a good visit when he was in.

Q. Did you feel like only taking one offensive lineman, it seems like you’re leaving yourself a little light, that’s why Remmers —
DAVE GETTLEMAN: Right, no, it makes sense.

Q. Do you have guys that you like now and in the drafting period that maybe you didn’t have grades to draft them but you like them coming —
DAVE GETTLEMAN: That’s what’s going on upstairs right now. There are a couple guys specifically, and we’re hoping to land them.

Q. Your son Kyle apparently is signing with Kansas City…
PAT SHURMUR: Yeah.

Q. How was that for you today, having to balance your draft and what was happening with your son?
PAT SHURMUR: No, I think it’s terrific. I think certainly my history with Andy (Reid) runs deep, and so as we’re watching the picks come off, certainly that was running parallel, hoping he was going to end up in a really good place, and I think regardless of whether he was picked or not, he’s ending up in a really good place, so he’ll go there and compete, and I think he’s going to be with a terrific team, and what I consider to be an outstanding quarterback culture, and that’s what you want for a young player that’s going to learn how to play the position at this level, so I’m happy for him.

Q. I know that you drafted a quarterback, but was that ever going to be an option here, or did you want that to be separate?
PAT SHURMUR: He and I talked about it, and I think that’s got to run separate. That’s the way we always parented, as well – listen, we’re here to support you, but go make your way in the world. We’re going to try to help you in every way possible, and as we all know, sometimes this is not very kind. And so he’s always known that, and he’s always known that he had to go out and do it and compete, and this is just the next step in that, next phase actually.

Q. You’re lined up to have a lot of cap space the next off-season?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: Right.

Q. Is that a big part of your plan, are you looking ahead knowing that that’s a deliberate thing, it didn’t just kind of happen that way?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: It was kind of both. You know, it’s funny, if you have confidence in your drafting skills, you know that two, three years with the — you’re going to be able to start extending, and you always want to be in a position to extend. It was like when I was in Carolina this — I’m holding on to cap space, and they’re screaming about why aren’t you doing this, why aren’t you doing that. I said, I don’t know, call me crazy, there’s this guy Luke Kuechly we’re going to have to extend and some guy named Cam Newton you’re going to have to extend, and these things are going to happen. It’s one of those deals where there’s obviously different theories on how to manage that cap, but at some point in time, shame on you if you can’t keep your good young players home. In Carolina there were a couple times where I just couldn’t do it. Financially we had to pick between Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei, had to pick between Trai Turner and Andrew Norwell. They’re both going to cost a fortune, so you had to make decisions and keep moving and take the comp picks. But to answer your question here, no, it’s part of it, because you can’t — you don’t want to get in a position where you’re kicking cans down the road and you’re restructuring and you’re adding cap issues down the road. In an ideal world you clear it and then you can do what you call — you can get the long-term contracts with flat paragraph 5s and back loading and doing all that kind of crazy stuff. So to answer your question, the short answer is, yes, it’s part of the plan.

Q. Going back to day one, when you come into a draft off two tough seasons where you’ve won eight games, is it tough to make a pick for a future quarterback? You’re using a 6 and you know he’s probably not going to play until next year so there’s no immediate benefit?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: That’s a great question, and that’s why I always say, I’m on a tightrope. I’ve got to think short-term, and I’ve got to think long-term. That’s the box I’m in. That’s the position I’m in. Coaches have to win now, and I ask myself — I’ve told you guys a million times, I ask myself that question, am I giving Pat and the guys enough players to win with, okay. And really, you know, it’s tough. But I can say this to you guys right now. When we got in here Thursday night, the question was posed, why didn’t you wait until 17. Well, I know for a fact there were two teams that would have taken him in front of 17. I know that for a fact. So it’s tough, it really is. It wasn’t easy for me to pass up Josh Allen. For me, my background, that was very, very difficult. But I think that much of Daniel Jones and his future as an NFL quarterback.

Q. How much did you try and move up with that 17 pick, maybe get ahead of those two teams so you had two first-round picks, let’s say in the top 10?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: After we picked Daniel?

Q. Or did you contemplate it beforehand?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: No, I didn’t — no, did not contemplate beforehand. We were going to make the pick at 6 and then go from there. I had no intention of moving up. None.

Q. You guys both said Thursday night that you talked to Eli and he was okay, then there was a report on the radio yesterday that he was upset. Anything you guys — do you guys still believe he’s okay? And did you talk to Lauletta?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: Oh, gosh.

PAT SHURMUR: We saw Lauletta in the training room the next day.

Q. So you talked to him?
PAT SHURMUR: Yeah, our people talked to him.

Q. And he was okay?
PAT SHURMUR: Yeah, as far as we know.

Q. Do you want to comment on the radio?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: I’m not going to respond to that. Come on, now.

Q. How much better do you feel about walking the tightrope and having the long-term and short-term crunch, how much clearer is that long-term vision? How much better do you feel about it now after this draft?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: I feel much better. I thought we had a very — a real quality draft. And time will tell. We’re going to know how good this draft was in three years. That’s when we’ll know. We’ll know how good last year’s draft was in two more years.

Q. Without being flippant, but do you ever sit here after a draft and look at the things and say to yourself, this didn’t work out for us this year, I don’t have a good feeling about this?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: You mean like tonight I’m going to look at these tonight and have that feeling?

Q. Yeah.
DAVE GETTLEMAN: I’m telling you right now, no.

Q. I don’t mean this year, I mean in any year would you ever think that? Or do you always think I picked these guys that are good players?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: Of course. You know, as far as I’m concerned, we had a hell of a weekend, you know? I mean, gosh. They’re good players here.

Q. Is there — with Oshane Ximines, you’ve got interior pressure on the D-line too, is there more you’d still like to add to the pass rush from the outside?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: We’ll see. You know, we’ll see. Again, you guys are forgetting, Markus Golden two years ago before the ACL had 14 sacks. He’s coming back, whatever he had, five last year. We added him. Lorenzo (Carter) is going to be better. He had the five last year. They get better. The young kids do improve, you know? And really at the end of the day — listen, my first year at Carolina, we had 60 sacks. It was nuts, okay. Do I want to have 60 sacks every year? Who doesn’t? I know Pat wouldn’t be upset. But at the end of the day, it’s about moving guys off their spots. It’s about all the other stuff. So you know, it’s a game within a game.

Q. Pat, what do you need to see from Daniel when he gets here on Thursday, Friday or Saturday?
PAT SHURMUR: We’re just going to get him started, put him through the paces, and I think every time they go on the field, you want them to execute what we’ve given him to do that day, and so we’ll start at square one with him and get him up and running and see how far he can take it and how quickly he can learn it. Our anticipation is he’s going to learn quickly, and we’ve seen that he can perform at a high level. It’s just got to look like good football, and I think that’s make good decisions, throw on time, be accurate, execute well, be smart with the football, all the things you’re looking for on Sunday you want to see it in practice, and you give him a little bit at a time, as time goes on, it builds up, and you just hope he builds on that.

Q. Is there a number of slots for the UDFA’s that you’re looking for?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: Well, we started with 67, 67 plus 10 is 77. I’m counting in my head, I’m not making fun. So basically got 13 — we may sign just half a dozen guys. I’m not in a rush — I think I told you guys yesterday, I’m not in a rush to get to 90. In an ideal world you want 90 guys that belong in a camp. So we’re — upstairs those guys know, if he doesn’t belong in a camp, we’ll wait. We’ve got rookie mini-camp coming in, we’ll have tryout guys, rookie mini-camp next weekend. There will be guys there on tryouts. The first team to 90 doesn’t win the Super Bowl, so we’ll just kind of do that.

MEDIA Q&A WITH CB JULIAN LOVE:

Q: What do you think you demonstrated at Notre Dame to show that you can be a starter at this level?
A: I had a pretty great three years at Notre Dame. I started a lot of games, played in all my games. I was healthy, I competed with the best at Notre Dame. So I know I can do a lot of things, so I think that’s what teams saw. I’m excited to showcase that going forward.

Q: What do you do best?
A: I think I’m a pretty physical player, I don’t shy away from contact at all. If anything, I show a lot of effort, I’m a smart player and I make plays. That’s what I’ve done my whole life and I’m excited to do that going forward. I’m just going to continue to be a playmaker.

Q: Do you have a chip on your shoulder about how it ended, not being able to finish what you started in the Cotton Bowl?
A: I do, there’s a lot of pride with my friends from Notre Dame and the community. I did want to end this perfect season the right way. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do that and I’m carrying that with me. You can’t take anything for granted. You have to finish the job no matter what. That’s definitely on my mind, in the back of my head.

Q: Do you like being in the slot?
A: I do, I think my skillset allows me to be inside, which is great. I can play outside or inside. Wherever they need me, I am going to compete to the best of my abilities. I feel pretty good about playing inside.

Q: Did you have much contact with the Giants during this process?
A: Not fully, no. This process was a lot, I talked to a lot of teams, but I’m happy to be in New York. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

MEDIA Q&A WITH LB RYAN CONNELLY:

Q: Did you have any idea of where you might go? Were you surprised when you got the call?
A: “Yeah, I was a little surprised. I knew somewhere around this time was kind of when I was slotted to go. We were just kind of waiting for the call, and it came.”

Q: What do you think you can bring to the table for this team?
A: “I’m just really excited to see all my new teammates and get going on this defense, learning the defense. That’s probably going to be the first thing, is figure out everything I need to figure out, just so I can help the team in any way I can.”

Q: Can you talk about your journey from walk-on to today?
A: “It’s pretty surreal just coming from a high school quarterback, to walking on at Wisconsin, and now getting to play for the New York Football Giants. It’s pretty crazy, and it doesn’t even seem real to me yet.”

Q: You said you played high school quarterback. When did you make the switch to linebacker?
A: “Right when I got to Wisconsin.”

Q: Was it your choice? Or, was it a coaches’ decision?
A: “No, it was a coaches’ decision. I think they needed some people to fill up the inside linebacker room, and that’s just kind of where I ended up, and I’ve been there ever since.”

Q: What was your interaction with the Giants before today? Any meetings with coaches at Pro Day or bowl games?
A: “Yeah, I met with them at the Combine. I talked to the linebacker coach at Pro Day. Those went well, obviously. So, that was my interaction before today.”

Q: How much special teams did you play in college?
A: “I played a lot my first two years, and then my last two years, I was on punt and kickoff. That’s definitely something I’m willing to do.”

Q: Did I read something that your season was ended by a surgery?
A: “Yeah, I had a sports hernia at the end of last season that I had been playing through, and finally decided to get it fixed back in December, but I’m fully healed. That hasn’t affected me at all to this point.”

Q: Are you going to any Islanders playoff games?
A: I’m gonna try to now, for sure.”

Q: You played inside linebacker at Wisconsin, right?
A: “Correct.”

Q: Is that where you see yourself suited for with the Giants in their 3-4 (defense)?
A: “Yeah, that’s where I’m definitely most comfortable, but like I said, I’ll play wherever they need me.”

Q: How would you evaluate yourself in the coverage game? How comfortable are you with covering tight ends and running backs?
A: “At Wisconsin, we did a little bit of everything – whether it features zone (coverage) or man (coverage), man (coverage) on the tight end, man (coverage) on the running back, we kind of switched it up a lot. Kind of experienced kind of doing all those different things there.”

Q: What did (Defensive Coordinator) James Bettcher just tell you when you talked to him on the phone when they picked you?
A: “Just welcome to the Giants, and that they’re happy to have me, and happy to get started. I don’t know, honestly, it’s just kind of all a blur at that point. I was just trying to pay attention as close as I could.”

Q: How’s your mom doing?
A: “She’s doing great, thanks for asking.”

Q: Yesterday was the big day, right?
A: “It actually got pushed back one week. Next Friday will be the next day.”

Q: What is he referring to Ryan?
A: “My mom’s cancer treatment will be ending next Friday, and then hopefully the checks will be all clear for lung cancer.”

Q: Were you a Vikings fan or a Packers fan?
A: “I grew up as a Packer fan.”

Q: Position wise, what did teams view you as? Where do you think you fit best in this defense?
A: “I’m more of an off the ball linebacker – a ‘WILL’ (weak side linebacker), a little ‘MIKE’ (middle linebacker). Those were kind of the main things they talked to me about.”

MEDIA Q&A WITH WR DARIUS SLAYTON:

Q: Do you think the way you ended your college career kind of sent you over the top?
A: “I definitely think it was a nice exclamation point to my career, for sure.”

Q: How would you describe your game? What have teams told you about what they like about you?
A: “I think my biggest strength is my speed. I’m able to push the field vertically, as well as catch the ball intermediately, and I have ability to go and score. That’s probably some of the biggest things I’ve heard from teams that I hope to be able to bring the Giants. Just help take the top off the defense and help us win games.”

Q: Where do you see your speed paying off the most? Long deep balls, or catch-and-run concepts?
A: “I can do either/or, but obviously the deep ball is probably the main area. I just want to go out there and show that I can do it all. I can do underneaths, I can do deep, I can do whatever they need me to do.”

Q: You don’t return kicks or punts, right?
A: “No sir, I didn’t in college.”

Q: You ran the entire route tree in college, didn’t you?
A: “For the most part, yes ma’am.”

Q: What’s it like playing in that Auburn offense, because it’s not exactly the same as playing in the Washington State office. Do you have to block a lot there?
A: “Yes, but that’s anywhere in the SEC. There’s big-time running backs, so you obviously have to do a little more blocking probably in the SEC as opposed to the Pac-12. I feel like on the pro level, especially somewhere like the Giants when they have a back like (RB) Saquon (Barkley), you got to do your part and block for him, as well when it comes time to run routes and catch the ball, then do your own job. I think it’s prepared me to come into this situation and be successful.”

Q: You seem pretty subdued. Is this later in the draft than you expected to go? Or, are you just a calm guy?
A: “No, I’ve had a couple of minutes to collect myself. If this had been five minutes ago, I couldn’t talk at all (laughter), but I’ve had a couple of minutes to collect myself. Just trying to manage my excitement. Everybody says first-round slip, or whatever you want to call it, but at the end of the day, getting drafted into the NFL is a really hard thing to do. I’m just grateful for the opportunity.”

Q: What was your initial thought of how you’re going to fit in the offense, and what your role can be here?
A: “The phone just went off, and it actually shows up as New Jersey. So, my brain didn’t register New York Giants at first until the coach on the phone said the New York Giants, and I was like, ‘That’s crazy.’ I remember they took the quarterback in the first-round, and obviously have Eli Manning, who has been a really good vet. I feel like they’re going to have good quarterbacks and have had some good receivers over the past few years. Like I said, just hope I can get in there and do my part.”

Q: What do you want to show them that you don’t feel like you’ve shown the league yet?
A: “Just that I’m a complete player. I think through this process, I was fighting people putting me in a box as just a deep guy, or just a this guy, just a whatever guy. Just to have a complete game – that I can run the full route tree, I can get in and out of breaks, as well as beat you deep with my speed. I think that’s the biggest thing I have to show as soon as I get there.”

Q: How much were you personally limited by the offense this year?
A: “It was just one of those things where sometimes you just don’t always execute on all cylinders as a team, but at the end of the day, I had opportunities to make plays while I was there this year and last year. I did what I could with my opportunities.”

Q: Have you had a chance to study the Giants? Do you know much about the offense they run other than having Eli Manning here?
A: “When (Browns WR) Odell (Beckham Jr.) was there, I watched a fair amount of Odell film, but I haven’t had the chance to dive deep into their scheme, personally. Honestly, just kind of on the surface. Looking at receivers like Odell, like (WR) Sterling (Shepard). I actually had a high school teammate of mine who signed on with the Giants as a free agent a couple of years ago. It’s been a team I’ve watched a little bit.”

Q: Who was that teammate?
A: “(Free agent WR) Kalif Raymond – played for the Giants a little while. I don’t think he’s on the team anymore.”

Q: What did you think of the Patriots drafting (Former Auburn QB) Jared (Stidham) behind (Patriots QB) Tom Brady?
A: “I’m happy for Jared. I think he’s really going to excel, especially in that offense where he’ll be able to – I think he can be Tom Brady-esque, because Jared is really smart, he throws very well from the pocket, he’s good at making quick decisions. So, I think that’s a great fit for him, and he loves Tom Brady to death. I’m sure that’s like getting drafted by God for him. I’m happy for him.”

MEDIA Q&A WITH CB COREY BALLENTINE:

Q: How did you end up at Washburn?
A: I wasn’t really highly recruited for football coming out of high school. I was a late bloomer, I was recruited more for track. Washburn was one of my few football offers that believed in me. They believed they could help me grow and get better as a player. I met with the coaches and I figured it being close to home and I was comfortable with my coaches and teammates, it would be the best option for me. That’s why I chose it over other schools. I had a couple other D2 offers but I figured Washburn was the best one out of the other offers.

Q: Is it satisfying you never had to transfer to get to this moment?
A: No, I never transferred. I was at Washburn for 5 years, I redshirted, and I was a three-year starter so I never went anywhere else.

Q: You only played 2 years in high school, right?
A: I played all four years but I wasn’t on varsity until my junior year. I played varsity for two years.

Q: Inside/outside, you do it all as far as what you can handle in the secondary?
A: I used to play free when I was in high school. I got recruited to Washburn as a corner. When I started playing, I started as a down safety in our defense, so kind of like nickel. I played nickel for two years then I played corner in 2017 and 2018. I’m comfortable playing both positions inside and outside. I don’t have a problem with either.

Q: How important was the Senior Bowl for a guy coming from a small school?
A: It was definitely very important for me. I’ve always felt like I could compete with that type of competition as far as being with those D1 guys. This was kind of like my first real opportunity and I think I went out there and I did well. My real goal was just to improve every day. I knew I wasn’t going to go out there and immediately just lock everyone down, but as long as I was growing mentally and growing physically and getting my technique better, I felt like that was more important. I ended up starting the game, so I felt like someone was seeing the improvements I was making as well. It was definitely important, kind of an eye opener for me because there is a lot of things I haven’t seen as far as routes, route combinations that I haven’t seen in Division II. When I got to the practices and one on ones and stuff, I saw that for the first time. It kind of opened my eyes and let me know I need to be more on my p’s and q’s. There are certain things I can get away with in Division II football that I can’t get away with there or in the NFL. I am definitely prepared for the challenge, but I’m glad I went there. I am definitely grateful for the opportunity.

Q: Did the Giants give you any sense of where they would like to start you off?
A: No, we never really talked about it too much yet. I’m happy to fill in wherever I need to, I’m not too worried about what position I’m going to be playing because I feel like I can learn and adjust. I feel like that’s what the game is about, adjustments and adjusting to adversity. I’ll take whatever (inaudible) we haven’t really talked about it. I’m assuming corner and maybe a little bit of nickel corner, it doesn’t really matter to me.

Q: Are you also a return guy?
A: I’ve been returning for a while. In 2017, I averaged 30 yards a return. They stopped kicking to me in 2018. I’m definitely a return guy, I didn’t do punt returns but I will do it, I don’t have a problem with it. I’m on every special team, so I will definitely be on special teams with the Giants as well.

Q: They put up a graphic that said you were born in Jamaica?
A: Yeah, that’s right, I was born in Montego Bay and moved to Kansas when I was about six years old around 2001, 2000.

Q: What was it like getting the call from the Giants?
A: It was surreal, I’m sure you have heard it a lot, but this is something I have always dreamed of. It took me back to the moment when I got recruited to college and I told my coaches this is something I wanted to do, I wanted to go to the NFL. We were all kind of giggling and here the moment is, I’m getting the call from the New York Giants. It’s just surreal because I didn’t know how I was going to do it, I know I wanted to do it, I just didn’t know how. Now that the moment is here, I’m trying to soak it in really. I worked so long to prepare for this moment, going to the combine and the Senior Bowl not knowing what my future was holding. Now I’m finally getting to figure out my destination. I’m really just trying to soak in the moment. I have already talked to the head coach and the defensive coordinator and my position coach. I’m definitely getting a feel for them already. I’m enjoying the ride already.

Q: In the Senior Bowl did you play against Daniel Jones?
A: I’m sure I did. They rotated the quarterbacks every quarter so I’m sure I was in there at some point. I’m not sure.

Q: What were your pre-draft meetings with the Giants like?
A: They had sent scouts out to my school during the season maybe three times. I met with them at the Senior Bowl as well. I met with the D-coordinator and I talked with him. I had at least a 30-minute, 40-minute conversation with him just going through schemes and things that we do at my school compared to things that they do and my strong suits and whatnot. I talked to him for a while and he kind of let me know enjoy the process and embrace the grind. That’s what I have been trying to do. I also had a conversation about a week ago about how I would adjust to living in New York being from a small city and whatnot. I think I’ll adjust fine. I haven’t really had any visits to or been to New York. Like I said, it’s an adjustment that I will have to get used to. I don’t think it will be a problem for me, I have no character issues, I have none of those issues, so I’m looking forward to it.

Q: Have you ever been to New York?
A: I have never been to New York. This will be my first time. I’m definitely looking forward to the change of scenery. I’m in Kansas right now, so it is probably way different, but I’m definitely ready for it.

MEDIA Q&A WITH OT GEORGE ASAFO-ADJEI:

Q: How exciting is it to get the call that you are coming to the Giants?
A: Oh my gosh, I feel like the luckiest man in the world. I’m blessed, truly blessed.

Q: Were you surprised it was the Giants?
A: Honestly, I was a bit surprised. I was not expecting that, I had been in contact with them before, but like I said it was a surprise honestly. God is good.

Q: What was your experience like building up to the draft, what were your expectations?
A: My expectations were just work hard in the off-season. I have had a passion for the game since I started playing. I haven’t played my whole life, I gained a love for it and I saw what it did taking me out of situations at home and all that kind of stuff. I’m just blessed, and I kept pursuing it because I believed this was my ticket. I worked hard in the off-season, did well in the pro day, got a lot of hype and I’m just blessed to be in this position right now.

Q: What was it like going up against a top ten pick in Josh Allen every day, how much better did he make you?
A: It was a great experience. We both sharpened each other honestly. He had troubles going against me, I’m a speed guy I’m good with the pass rush. He’s a great edge rusher, I gave him problems, we both helped each other. You saw it in the outcome of the season and the outcome of our play. It’s just a blessing to be on a team like that with multiple other players.

Q: You were born in the Bronx?
A: Yes, sir I was born in the Bronx.

Q: Did you grow up here, where did you grow up?
A: I moved from the Bronx when I was about 8 years old and moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. I remember the Bronx. I have visited there almost every summer.

Q: Are you a Yankees fan?
A: No, I don’t follow baseball.

Q: You alluded earlier to what football did for your life, what kind of adversity did it help you through?
A: My mom works hard, she has worked hard since I was born. She has been working 3 jobs, literally 3 jobs every day. She probably gets 4 hours of sleep every day, we went through some rough patches in life, but we overcame thanks to God. He’s taken me out of that situation, and he has taken our family out of that situation. I’m happy for our blessings. I don’t have a father in my life, that’s been much harder as well. I thank God, God is good and he answers prayers.

Q: Do you have a lot of family in New York?
A: Yes, for sure I do.

Q: You went on a mission to Ethiopia?
A: Yes, we went to Ethiopia last year in May. I’m from Africa, I’m not from Ethiopia I’m from Ghana. It was still good to be back in the homeland of Africa. It was a blessing to be a blessing to others and help others and pray for people. It was a very beautiful thing and I loved that experience. It’s even shaped me to continue that in my life and I even opened a LLC. I want to give back to any poor countries and any poor communities around here. It’s eye opening to see those people don’t have anything, but they are the happiest people in the world. Anyone can take something from that, just seeing them struggle I want to give back to them so bad.

Q: When you said you didn’t have a father, was your mother a single mom?
A: Yes, she was a single mother. It’s been rough growing up, but by God’s grace she was able to provide. We went through rough patches between me and her. By God’s grace we were okay, and we’ve overcame. Forgiveness is a big part, I’m just happy to be in the situation I’m in right now. God is more than good.

Q: Is it just you and your mother or do you have brothers and sisters?
A: I have a sister, but I didn’t meet her until I was 14 because the process to bring people from Ghana is a long process. My mom had to work on it since I was born, and it took that many years just to accept her into the U.S. and get a visa. That’s a blessing too, I love my sister she has overcame a lot herself, so it’s just a blessing for us all to be together as a family.

Q: What was you Mom‘s reaction when you got drafted?
A: She was screaming, going crazy. I’m happy for her, she gets to see her boy make it. I’ve worked really hard for this. I’m going in there not to just goof around, but I’m going in there to take a job, I’m going in there to make a name for myself. I truly believe I’m a dog. I can’t wait for you guys to see that.

MEDIA Q&A WITH DT CHRIS SLAYTON:

Q: What was your reaction when you heard it was going to be the Giants who was taking you?
A: It was a great reaction man. I was excited. My mom called me as soon as it happened. They’re excited for me. All around, it’s a big moment for us.

Q: Who are you watching the draft with?
A: Right now, I’m alone at my apartment. I was going to meet my parents afterwards.

Q: What was your pre-draft interaction with the Giants? Did you meet with them at a bowl game or a Pro Day?
A: I first met them down at the East-West Shrine Game week, and at the Combine. I liked them a lot, and they liked me, so it all worked out.

Q: Are you a three-tech or a one-tech? Where do you play exactly on the defensive line?
A: Either or, both.

Q: What do you bring to this team?
A: Just a strong work ethic. I love to compete. I’m a high competitor.

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Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of BigBlueInteractive.com, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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