David Syvertsen

David Syvertsen, aka Sy'56, has worked for Ourlads Scouting LLC since 2013, starting off as a college depth chart manager and now a lead scout for one the most-sold NFL draft guides year-in, year-out. He has been scouting for over 10 years and will compile anywhere from 400-600 scouting reports per season, with that number increasing year by year. He watches and studies game films 20-25 hours per week throughout the entire year with his main focus being NFL Draft prospects.

Sep 162019
 
Share Button
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (September 15, 2019)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

ONLY TWO WEEKS LEFT – BBI ANNUAL CONTRIBUTION CAMPAIGN: Entering our 25th year, the annual BBI contribution campaign is nearing completion. This site is dependent on the support of its readers. Please consider helping to support BBI this year. For details, click here!

Buffalo Bills 28 – New York Giants 14

QUICK RECAP

It was a warm, sunny, end-of-summer type day at MetLife Stadium as the 0-1 Giants took on the 1-0 Buffalo Bills. The Bills were playing their second straight game at MetLife, as they defeated the New York Jets there in week 1. The Giants were without Sterling Shepard because of a concussion suffered last week, while the Bills nickel cornerback situation entered the game with their third stringer in the starting lineup.

Much like week 1 in Dallas, NYG came firing out of the gate. Starting at their own 25, they seamlessly marched down the field. Chunk gains of 6, 20, 14, and 8 led to a 27-yard touchdown run by Saquon Barkley. A week after we discussed that #26 wasn’t getting enough action in key moments, the team gave him the ball 4 times on this opening drive. The quick 7-0 lead confirmed that approach was the only way this team was going to consistently be a threat.

NYG forced a three-and-out highlighted by a Markus Golden and Lorenzo Carter combined sack, the first sack of the 2019 season for NYG. With the lead at 7-0 and Barkley having just owned the BUF defense on all levels, they gave him the ball right away on the second drive he gained 5 yards. They then proceeded to take him off the field for Wayne Gallman. Three plays later, NYG was punting the ball back to BUF.

BUF then went on to score touchdowns on three straight drives. Quarterback Josh Allen and rookie running back Devin Singletary rushed for scores respectively and Allen hit receiver Isaiah McKenzie on a shovel pass for a 14-yard score to put the visitors up by 14. Two things about this run that really set the tone for the rest of the contest: (1) BUF obviously came into this game wanting to challenge rookie cornerback Deandre Baker. They torched him on all three levels of the route tree and the 1st-round pick who was traded up for in last April’s draft looked absolutely lost. (2) The third scoring drive deflated the stadium to a point where it just never quite fully came back from. The drive began on the BUF 2-yard line after an amazing special teams coverage play by Antonio Hamilton. The stadium was very loud and the fans got behind the Giants. How did the defense respond? A 7-play drive that took just 4:26 to reach the end zone. The NYG defense didn’t even look competitive. “Here we go again” was the only thought one could muster at this point.

NYG actually put together a solid drive as the end of the half was approaching. Manning spread the ball out in the passing game and Barkley picked up a couple more chunk gains. Aldrick Rosas, the 2018 second-team All Pro, came out for a 48-yard field goal attempt but it sailed wide left. Again, the fans got their hopes up but Big Blue just couldn’t seal the deal. The defense forced a quick stop and the newly-signed, preseason-star T.J. Jones returned the punt 60 yards all the way to the BUF 33-yard line. NYG was going to get another crack at a score with just over a minute left.

Manning hit Bennie Fowler for a 12-yard gain but had his next pass tipped at the line by rookie Ed Oliver that luckily fell into the arm of BUF defensive end Trent Murphy. BUF took a knee and their 14-point lead into the half.

In this week’s version of “Hey at least….” in the world of moral victories (the majority of any positive thought NYG has had in recent years), the NYG defense stepped up in the second half. Three consecutive scoreless drives for the defense didn’t seem as impressive as it could have been because the Giants offense continued to sputter. They showed some hope with their opening drive of the second half, reaching the BUF 41, but a holding penalty by Nate Solder and a sack allowed by Kevin Zeitler and Jon Halapio reminded us all that these are still the New York Giants, one of the most-oft losing teams in the NFL over the past 6 years.

NYG did not give up or mail it in. With Cody Latimer out after a nasty helmet-to-helmet hit (that wasn’t called a penalty), Manning was back in the all-too-familiar position of dealing with street free agent-caliber receivers running routes. He found Jones in the back of the end zone, who made an impressive play on the ball considering he was mere inches away from being out of bounds as he double toe-tapped the blue paint. NYG was all of the sudden down 21-14 with momentum on their side for the first time since the opening drive of the game.

BUF responded with chunk gains to receiver John Brown and the rookie Singletary, who averaged 9.5 yards per carry by the way. NYG came up with a stop to force a BUF field goal attempt from the 3-yard line. The ball went through the uprights but a (very) questionable personal foul call on rookie Dexter Lawrence for grazing the snapper’s helmet gave BUF a fresh slate of downs from the NYG 2-yard line. Two plays later, Frank Gore, the 4th all time rushing leader, crossed the goal line for his first touchdown since 2017.

It was 28-14 with just under 6 minutes left and NYG was without their top 3 wide receivers. Manning threw a couple of desperate deep balls over the course of the next two drives, one of which landed in the hands of BUF safety Jordan Poyer.

Giants lose, 28-14.

QUARTERBACKS

-Eli Manning: 26/45 – 250 yards – 1 TD/2 INT – 62.3 QBR. Manning didn’t leave as much out there as he did in Dallas in relation to missed opportunities. Those opportunities were few and far between as he entered the game without his two top receivers and then lost his number three late in game with an injury. Excuses can be made, but at the end of the day, to make this as simple as possible, he didn’t make plays. He had multiple balls batted at the line that stemmed from him staring down his targets, having a slow release beginning with his footwork all the way up to his arm-action, and playing a predictable game altogether. Manning didn’t do enough to make things happen when the Bills started to slow down the NYG running game.

RUNNING BACKS

-Saquon Barkley: 18 att / 107 yards / 1 TD – 3 rec / 28 yards. The game could not have started better for the second-year back out of Penn State. Barkley touched the ball on 4 out of 5 plays, gaining 55 yards via the ground, and scored a touchdown on a 27-yard run. That was the peak of his game, however. Barkley struggled to find a consistent flow because of poor inside blocking, poor tight end blocking, and an overly stacked box. Taking him off the field during their second series of the game didn’t make sense to me at all. He is the kind of player who changes the entire approach to the game on both sidelines when he is on the field and nobody can convince me he needed a break that early, scheduled or not.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Bennie Fowler: 5 rec / 51 yards. Fowler led the team with 10 targets. He appeared to be the guy Manning was most often looking toward in important situations. As expected, he was underwhelming in this one. As he struggled to get any separation on any level of the route tree, but especially on deep passes. His biggest miss was a ball that he dropped after contact that would have been a first down inside the BUF 15-yard line. The next play, Rosas missed the field goal. It was an enormous play.

-T.J. Jones: 3 rec / 38 yards / 1 TD. Jones also handled the punts and returned one for 60 yards, but it didn’t end up in points because of a Manning interception. Jones was the surprise of camp and the team still opted to cut him. Because of the injuries to the position, Jones was brought back and he made things happen in his regular season debut with Big Blue. He caught a 4th-quarter touchdown to get the team within 7, and it was a high-skill play as he leapt, got the ball at its apex, and tip-toed his feet in the blue paint with a defensive back right there. He earned another week here, especially if Latimer is going to miss time.

-Cody Latimer caught 3 passes for 30 yards, and Cody Core, most known for his ability as a special teams gunner, also added 3 catches for 28 yards. Russell Shepard rounded out the group with 2 catches for 19 yards.

TIGHT ENDS

-Evan Engram: 6 rec / 48 yards. The Bills were the best defense in the NFL last year when it came to limiting tight end production. They are carrying that over in 2019 it seems, as Engram was contained. Engram’s biggest gain of the day – 33 yards – came in garbage time when the BUF defense was in prevent. Besides that, Engram was held to 5 rec / 15 yards.

-Both Engram and Ellison struggled on the edge blocking in this one. The BUF defense was collapsing the edge against the run over and over, making it near-impossible for Barkley to improvise when things weren’t there inside. Those two aren’t expected to get a ton of pus against defensive ends, but they were just getting walked into the inside gaps too often.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Tackles Nate Solder and Mike Remmers were inconsistent. Solder had a key holding penalty on a 17-yard gain that got NYG to the BUF 24-yard line. It was the opening drive of the third quarter, often a major tone setter for the rest of the game, and three plays later the NYG drive was over at midfield. Remmers allowed 2 pressures, with Solder allowing one.

-Inside, it was a rough day for center Jon Halapio after he played arguably his best game of his career at DAL. The BUF defensive line is one of the most underrated in the league, and they performed well in this one. Halapio allowed a sack, a TFL, and rolled a snap back to Manning. He also was losing out on the ground battle on inside runs, getting pushed around and not creating the running lanes we saw in DAL.

-Kevin Zeitler is fighting a shoulder injury. I’m not sure how public it will become but upon re-watching the group, it was obvious he is favoring it. Zeitler is usually heavy-handed and very controlling with his upper body, but he just didn’t have it in this one. He allowed sack with Halapio. Will Hernandez got off to a rough start, allowing 2 pressures but his play leveled off from there on out.

EDGE

-Markus Golden had an active game after a dismal performance week 1 in DAL. He had 6 tackles, 1 sack (on two separate half-sack plays), and a pressure. It was an encouraging sign for one of the worst pass rushes in football to see Golden disrupt the BUF passing game. The pessimistic would say he was up against a struggling rookie in Cody Ford and Allen is a QB that holds onto the ball way too long at times.

-Lorenzo Carter saw an increase in snaps with the injury to Kareem Martin. I stated he would be one of the most important players on the entire team back during my Training Camp reports, and now he has the real full-time opportunity for the first time. He had 4 tackles, a half-sack, and a pressure. Not a bad game, but too often he disappears for stretches. He needs to get more effective in traffic and not be overly reliant on space-pursuits. This will come down to power development and technique refinement, most notably from his hands.

-Oshane Ximines has 2 tackles and a shared sack with Golden. He is now the third pass rusher who will see more and more snaps as the season progresses. What he does with his hands, already in his young career, is exactly what I want to see out of Carter. The issue I see is the lack of athletic ability to beat guys off the snap or at least pose as a speed-rush threat.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

-Rookie Dexter Lawrence and B.J. Hill were active in this one. Lawrence seemed to be more aggressive than we saw in week 1, an encouraging sign as these kids have to process so much information pre-snap and post-snap compared to what they did in college. Lawrence finished with 4 tackles and 2 pressures, showing the ability we know he has to push the pocket. Hill had 3 tackles and pressure but what impressed me the most with him was how often he was around the action away from the ball. He is a keeper.

-Olsen Pierre had a sack and it could have been a major impact play had the refs not blown it dead too quickly. Because Josh Allen is so big and strong, it is tough for defenders to get him down quickly. Pierre got a hold of Allen and just before the play was whistled dead, his foot jarred the ball loose. This could have, maybe even should have, resulted in a defensive touchdown for NYG, but it was not reviewable. Even though BUF ended up punting soon after, that could have been a game-altering play.

LINEBACKERS

-Rookie Ryan Connelly got the start next to Alex Ogletree. He finished with 6 tackles, while Ogletree finished with 5 of his own, a pressure, and a pass break up. These two are the ones I expect to see in the middle for the rest of the season. The one issue that both seem to have right now is a lack of range and instincts in coverage. The middle of the field was still a weak point and while more can be attributed to the safeties than linebackers there, it is going to get exposed all year if these two don’t improve.

CORNERBACKS

-I watch a lot of pro football, especially over the last 6 years. This is not a pat on the back or a search for credibility. I state that because I am not exaggerating nor am I blindly saying that the performance we saw out of rookie Deandre Baker in the first half may have very well been the worst I have ever seen from the position. He was picked on over and over again with a variety of receivers and routes. He was lost out there. Baker is afraid of getting beat deep after what happened to him in week 1. There is so much hesitation in his game right now and it is allowing for too much space, a receiver’s best friend. The “bust” label isn’t even a thought of right now, as rookie CBs have it as tough as any position in football other than QB. He can take his lumps and NYG fans will have to accept that. But when simply analyzing the game, Baker just didn’t know what to do out there and it showed. Now he has something to work off of and we will see how he responds.

-Janoris Jenkins, as volatile as the position is around the league, played a solid game. He did get called for a hold at an important moment, though. With NYG just having gotten within 7 in the fourth quarter, Allen threw an incomplete pass to make it 3rd-and-9. Jenkins was called for the penalty, however, giving BUF a first down. They proceeded to march down the field and score a touchdown.

-Grant Haley was on the field for 47 plays. He made 1 tackle, didn’t break up any passes, and missed 2 tackles in space. The nickel corner is a legitimate starting position these days and the best defenses have a guy there who makes plays. Haley is a good story, he tries hard, he cares, but he isn’t making an impact.

SAFETIES

-Antoine Bethea, whom has a starting job by default, played better than what we saw in week 1 but he wasn’t tested nearly as much. He is still getting baited by play-action more than a veteran should and the athleticism isn’t there to make up for it. He did lead the team with 10 tackles.

-Jabrill Peppers, albeit just two games into the season and in a new scheme, hasn’t yet to prove he is capable of making plays. We can talk about the physical package all we want when it comes to the impressive strength and speed, but the football player in him hasn’t shown up yet. He was simply ineffective against the outside run, stemming from the inability to get off blocks. Too much fluff with him so far, not enough play-making.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 0/1 (missed 48). It was a big missed attempt for Rosas, as BUF had just scored three straight touchdowns to make the score 21-7 and NYG put together a solid drive.

-P Riley Dixon: 5 punts / 48.4 avg / 47.2 net.

-As previously stated, T.J. Jones returned one of his 3 attempts for 60 yards. NYG didn’t capitalize on it. Corey Ballentine handled kick returns, one for 23 yards and one for 17.

3 STUDS

-RB Saquon Barkley, WR T.J. Jones, EDGE Markus Golden

3 DUDS

-CB Deandre Baker, S Jabrill Peppers, OT Nate Solder

3 THOUGHTS ON BUF

  1. I have a strong appreciation for BUF, and not just because they are off to a 2-0 start. I was asked a few times during the week what I thought about the NYG vs BUF matchup and I said I wasn’t optimistic because of how well BUF is coached. The jury is still out on how well NYG is coached but things aren’t looking positive at the moment. BUF doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, especially on defense. Almost 10 years ago, I was told Sean McDermott was going to be a big time head coach someday. They have something here, just wait and watch.
  1. We don’t know what Josh Allen is yet. Personally, I had him graded out as a day 2 pick and I wasn’t impressed by his rookie season. With that said, I think Allen has some swagger and more than enough talent to be a dangerous player. I think he will be a guy who will go on stretches that make him look like a top 10 QB in the league, just to be followed by stretches where he looks like a questionable starter.
  1. How come BUF went from perennial loser (11 losing seasons since 2005) to a 2-0 team that is knocking on the door of being a legit contender? They have drafted exceptionally well. They have 4 solid starters from the 2017 and 2018 classes respectively, and 6 picks from the 2019 class who are already making positive impacts. Also to prove their strong drafting beyond their own roster, the following players were drafted by BUF since 2012: CB Stephon Gilmore, CB Ronald Darby, OT Cordy Glenn, LB Kiko Alonso, WR Marquise Goodwin, LB Nigel Bradham, WR Robert Woods, OT Seantrel Henderson, LB Preston Brown, WR Sammy Watkins, TE Nick O’Leary, and LB Reggie Ragland. That is some good stuff and if you want to go and count how many players NYG has drafted who became solid starters since 2012, don’t let it ruin your Monday.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  1. On purpose, I didn’t make the Eli Manning vs. Daniel Jones debate a thing last week. I don’t think it needs to be beat to death week in, week out. However here we are, 0-2 for the fifth time in six years, with a 1st-round rookie on the bench who looked fantastic in preseason. Once you take Manning out, you aren’t putting him back in. My plan would be to let Manning play the next 2 weeks (@ TB, vs. WAS), and if NYG still looks like they are stuck in the mud, turn it over to Jones and let him start 12 games.
  1. The NFC East has 2-0 DAL, 1-1 PHI, and 0-2 WAS. Because I have been around for long enough, I know it is foolish to give up this early in the season for any team. The positive remains this: the NYG schedule has very winnable games coming up. TB and WAS are the next 2 with ARI and DET on the horizon (after MIN and NE). NYG isn’t done yet, guys.
  1. My biggest coaching complaint in week 1 was the lack of devotion to Barkley in 3rd-and-short/4th-and-short situations in key moments of the game. NYG had just one 3rd-and-1, and then a 3rd-and-2, and a 4th-and-2. Barkley didn’t get a touch in any of those situations, although they did convert two of those for a first down. I won’t criticize that because of the results, but I still scratch my head here. I also think this team needs to get him split out more often, as this WR group is depleted. 13 running backs have more carries than Barkley. 10 running backs have more catches than Barkley. 8 running backs have more touches than Barkley. Food for thought.
Sep 092019
 
Share Button

At Least There Was Something Worth Looking At – © USA TODAY Sports

BBI ANNUAL CONTRIBUTION CAMPAIGN – ONLY 3 WEEKS LEFT!: Entering our 25th year, the annual BBI contribution campaign has only three weeks left. This site is dependent on the support of its readers. Please consider helping to support BBI this year. For details, click here!

Dallas Cowboys 35 – New York Giants 17

QUICK RECAP

For the fourth time in five years, Big Blue traveled to Dallas to kick off the regular season. That in and of itself is exceptionally odd but that can be a discussion for another time. The Giants changed their culture and roster nearly as much as any organization in pro football. Gone is arguably the top play-maker in franchise history, gone is arguably their top pass rusher, and in comes a real offensive line and surrounding cast who supports the kind of team that can revolve around their generational talent at running back, Saquon Barkley. This season has a fresh new feel to it and week 1 was as anticipated as its been in awhile.

That anticipation and dare-I-say optimism was rewarded early. The Giants forced a DAL punt on the first drive and proceeded to march down the field and get in the end zone via just 7 plays. The main-gain was a 59-yard run by Barkley through a wide open hole and speedy scamper down the left sideline. Manning hit Evan Engram for a 1-yard score that gave NYG their first, and last, lead of the game, 7-0.

DAL had a dominant offensive day and the warning signs were present on the very next drive. They converted two straight 3rd-and-4’s via the passing game near or inside the hashmarks, a glaring hole that was exposed all day in the NYG swiss-cheese defense. Dak Prescott hit tight end Blake Jarwin up the middle for a 28-yard touchdown without a defender anywhere near him. The Giants have had issues covering the position for years and most in particular against DAL. Let’s not forget that Jarwin was the no-namer last year that scored 3 touchdowns against NYG in week 17. Funny how some things simply do not change.

The refs didn’t do NYG any favors in this one and perhaps the biggest miss was an intentional grounding called on Eli Manning on the following drive. Manning was clearly hit while throwing by the untouched blitzing linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, which prevented the ball from reaching the line of scrimmage. This penalty took NYG out of field goal range and forced a punt.

DAL opened the 2nd quarter with a 9-play drive that saw Prescott go 7/7 – 95 yards – with a touchdown to Jason Witten. No you aren’t reading a repeat game review from years ago. The 2018 Monday Night Football announcer, in his first game back from retirement, scored his 16th career touchdown against NYG. He doesn’t have 10 total against any other team in the NFL. DAL took a 14-7 lead and they were just getting started. NYG went 3-and-out on the next drive before DAL put together a 13-play, 6:43-game clock drive that ended in Prescott’s third touchdown of the game, this time to Amari Cooper who burned rookie Deandre Baker. All of the sudden halftime was here, DAL was up 14 after having the ball for nearly twice as long as NYG.

The Giants began the second half with the ball and crossed midfield quickly. They were faced with a 4th-and-8 and contrary to what Pat Shurmur opted for in the past, they went for it. That resulted in a conversion via a nice pitch-and-catch to Bennie Fowler but they were unable to create much more. Aldrick Rosas came on to nail his first field goal of the year, a 28-yarder to make the score 21-10.

NYG defense needed to show they could make the halftime adjustment and set the tone. The result? A 45-yard pass to Amari Cooper. A 5-yard run by Ezekiel Elliot. A 25-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb that looked like a practice play on air. “On air” means no defense on the field. Nobody even looked at Cobb running his route up the middle of the field, let alone tried to cover him.

NYG was down by 18, albeit with plenty of time on the clock. They made it to the DAL 8 yard line and it was 3rd-and-2. At this point they were in a go-for-the-touchdown mode no matter what. The play call on 3rd-and-2 was a run to fullback Elijhaa Penny. They gained 1 yard. The 4th-and-1 call was a rollout passing play that resulted in Manning not getting rid of the ball, trying to juke 3 DAL defenders, and getting sacked while fumbling the ball. Barkley didn’t touch the ball on either play.

DAL starting deep in their own territory (89 yards away from the end zone), needed just 7 plays to put another 7 points on the board. Deeply aided by a 62-yard pass to WR Michael Gallup, up the middle yet again, Elliot dragged two NYG defenders into the end zone on a 10-yard touchdown run. It was 35-10 at the end of the 3rd quarter.

The two teams traded a few possessions after that without anything noteworthy taking place. The Giants scored a touchdown via a Wayne Gallman 2-yard run in the classic too-little, too-late situation. Daniel Jones then got his first NFL regular season action on their next drive. He completed 3-of-4 attempts before scrambling and fumbling, a reoccurring theme we saw out of him in preseason. DAL re-took the ball and confirmed their win.

Giants lose 35-17.

QUARTERBACK

  • Eli Manning: 30/44 – 306 yards – 1 TD/0 INT. Manning also lost a fumble on a 4th-and-1 passing attempt, a turnover either way. Manning’s overall performance was not a poor one. He protected the ball and made a few big-time throws to both the intermediate and deep levels. He was sacked just once in this one and for the most part, had a pretty clean pocket to work with. The issues with Manning may not have been obvious in the initial look, but after watching this again he made a few major mistakes. When NYG was down 28-10, there was just a crack-in-the-door left in terms of hope. On that drive, Manning was about to have Barkley run past safety Xavier Woods with no safety help over the top. It would have been an easy, long touchdown pass. Instead, Manning got rid of it too fast and ended up hitting Barkley in the back. Later in the drive, Manning had a 4th-and-1 play-action rollout where there was nothing to lose. The initial read was Sterling Shepard, who was running along the goal line more than open enough. Manning hesitated, again, and held onto the ball with multiple DAL defenders closing in on him. The cement-footed QB did his best version of a juke but it resulted in a sack-fumble. A turnover. He has to know by now that in a situation where you are down 18 in the second half and you are that close to the end zone, you have to throw it. Even a blind, toss-it-up-and-hope-for-the-best throw would have been better than holding onto it. Manning’s reaction time, his sluggish movement on long-developing screen plays, and underlying fear to make things happen are going to get him on the bench at some point.

RUNNING BACK

  • Saquon Barkley: 11 att / 120 yards – 4 rec / 19 yards. Barkley averaged 11 yards per carry, including a 59-yard highlight-reel play on the first drive. His vision, grit, and balance stood out in this one. He did fumble on the first touch of the game, the first fumble of his career, but luckily it did not result in a turnover. Barkley wasn’t used enough and Manning’s misread on the pass that hit him in the back would have likely ended in a long touchdown. More on this team misusing him later on.
  • Wayne Gallman: 2 att / 17 yards / 1 TD – 3 rec / 24 yards. Gallman picked up some garbage stats when DAL was up 35-10 in the 4th quarter. Still a solid showing for the underrated backup.

WIDE RECEIVER

  • Cody Latimer: 3 rec / 74 yards. Latimer was on the receiving end of the longest, and second-longest passing gains of the game for the Giants. His one-handed reception at the beginning of the first half that resulted in 43 yards was yet another reminder that there is something here that NYG has to exploit. The triangle numbers are there and his ball skills continue to improve. At some point, the eyebrow-raising ball skills and propensity to finish need credit. And by credit, I mean a more consistent dosage of opportunities. He was also interfered with twice but the refs opted to keep the flag in their pants
  • Sterling Shepard and Bennie Fowler combined for 11 rec / 84 yards. Fowler made arguably the nicest catch of the night on 4th-and-8 where he fully extended up and out while approaching the sideline, and was able to tap both feet in bounds as he completed the dive towards the ground.

TIGHT END

  • Evan Engram: 11 rec / 116 yards / 1 TD. There has been chatter revolving around Engram taking over the #1 pass-catcher role in this offense with Beckham out of the picture. If week 1 is the indicator, be ready for a top-3 season at the position in the NFL. Engram was targeted 14 times on all levels and he looks just as explosive as he ever has. He also made the key block on Barkley’s 59-yard run in the first quarter.
  • Rhett Ellison and Eric Tomlinson played sparingly, with Ellison still holding onto the main number-2 TE role. He made a few nice inside blocks on the move to spring Barkley free from the initial trash at the point-of-attack. Otherwise, a quiet game.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Overall, the increase in overall quality of the group was apparent from the beginning. The left side was solid in the run game especially. Nate Solder and Will Hernandez were powerful and effective off the snap. Hernandez got flagged for a hold (the interior pass rush again) but Solder kept the blindside under control for the most part besides one pressure where he lost his balance.
  • Jon Halapio has been highly-touted by Pat Shurmur, a former center himself, for a couple years now. And besides one pressure from a very unorthodox stunt where DE DeMarcus Lawrence looped all the way to the center of the line, he was dominant. Halapio was clearing inside running lanes by himself and perhaps the most impressive block of the entire game came from him 10+ yards downfield near the sideline on a screen-type pass to Engram. He tossed his man multiple yards into the air, which allowed another few yards of gain. He was the highest-graded NYG lineman.
  • The right side was solid inside with Kevin Zeitler, not so much outside with Mike Remmers. The latter allowed 2 pressures, was blown up twice in the running game that ended up causing TFLs, and was flagged for a false start.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • The trio of Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill, and Dexter Lawrence is a group to get excited about when it comes to run defense. They occupied multiple blockers all game and they did their part in keeping Ezekiel Elliot under wraps (4.1 yards per carry is under his 4.7 career average). But one thing about the three of them, they didn’t make plays and I wouldn’t expect much more out of them. Hill did break through the line a few times. The trio combined for 7 tackles, 0 pressures, 0 sacks.
  • Olsen Pierre actually played two more snaps than Lawrence. That is likely a result of him knowing the scheme a bit more and he can offer more as a pass rusher. At the same time, perhaps Lawrence hasn’t quite yet earned it or his lack of conditioning is still an issue? Pierre and fellow backup R.J. McIntosh were quiet for the most part.

EDGE

  • Markus Golden and Lorenzo Carter saw the most snaps off the edge. Carter recorded 1 pressure and broke up a pass downfield but was otherwise quiet. Golden saw nearly 80% of the snaps so he was on the field, but he may as well been on the sideline. His attempts at rushing the passer were, to be kind, rusty.
  • Rookie Oshane Ximines saw a decent amount of action in is NFL debut, as Kareem Martin left the game with a knee injury. Ximines got violently introduced to the league by Tyron Smith, who remains in the discussion for the top OT in football. Ximines showed some fight, however, which was nice to see. He lost outside contain on a 3rd-down rushing play, as he just wasn’t able to recover after being fooled by misdirection. It resulted in a first down.

LINEBACKER

  • Maybe Alec Ogletree is still hurt? Maybe he is rusty from all of the practice and preseason action he missed? But the perennial up-and-down player was downright awful in this one. Stats aside (6 tackles and a PD), Ogletree was downright abused by play-action. For the leader of the defense, he sure seemed like he had no idea what DAL was trying to do nor did he show any awareness or reaction to what was going on around him.
  • I like how they swapped Tae Davis and Ryan Connelly in and out. I’m not going to call for a lineup change right now, but those two were the best LBs that NYG had on the field in this one. Davis had 3 tackles and a pressure but still makes aggressive mistakes. I would still rather live with those than the other way around, though. Connelly finished with 2 tackles and a TFL, with the TFL being arguably the best defensive play of the night stemming from instincts, reaction, and closing ability.

CORNERBACK

  • Janoris Jenkins was probably the top NYG defender on the night. He had 5 tackles (3 of which were against the run) and DAL rarely looked his way when passing.
  • The reason for that? Antonio Hamilton and rookie Deandre Baker were on the field. They were absolutely toyed with, torched, beaten…whatever else you want to throw in there…all night. It was ugly and it never got better and there weren’t any positives that came from it. Hamilton was being targeted nearly-non stop but he also missed 3 tackles. One of which was on a 3rd-and-9 pass to Randall Cobb five yards shy of the first down marker. Hamilton had Cobb in front of him, sideline next to him, both hands on, and Cobb barely had to try to get right past him and past the marker. DAL scored a touchdown on the next play to make the score 14-7.
  • Grant Haley, the nickel, was just a hair too late on several occasions no matter where the ball was thrown. The nickel spot is as important as any DB position on the field these days and his feel-good, UDFA-story is wearing off. He isn’t making plays.

SAFETY

  • A sore spot on this defense for a while now. Week 1 didn’t seem any better and if anything, it may have been even worse than what we saw last year. Antoine Bethea has had an overly-impressive career. But the 35-year old who the 20th-ranked IND defense didn’t want after 2013, the 32nd-ranked SF defense didn’t want after 2016, and the 20th-ranked ARI defense didn’t want after 2018 is now starting for NYG. He was fooled, very badly, nearly every time DAL showed misdirection. The play-action fakes had him running in the wrong direction as wide open pass catchers (both tight ends and wide receivers alike) trotted right by him almost as if it was a joke. The worst play of the night was the 62-yard gain to WR Michael Gallup via a short slant pass where Bethea took an awful angle to the action but was still within a yard or two of Gallup when he caught the ball. He simply didn’t have the twitch to just touch him, let alone make a tackle. It was atrocious.
  • Jabrill Peppers and Michael Thomas won’t escape this without blame. They too looked overly stiff and out of position. They are both aggressive, physical defenders but neither showed the ability to forecast and react. By the time they knew what DAL was doing, by the time they were actually moving in the right direction, it was too late. You can be sure future opponents are going to watch this game tape and salivate over their inability to read-and-react.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • K Aldrick Rosas: 1/1 (Made 28) – 2/2 XP.
  • P Riley Dixon: 4 punts – 41.5 avg – 41.5 net – 3 inside 20

3 STUDS

  • RB Saquon Barkley, OC Jon Halapio, TE Evan Engram

3 DUDS

  • S Antoine Bethea, CB Antonio Hamilton, EDGE Markus Golden

3 THOUGHTS ON DAL

  1. Michael Gallup. The number 1 graded WR on my draft board in 2018. The WR who I said will out-produce Amari Cooper in the coming years starting right now. Be afraid of this kid, guys. His combination of speed, agility/looseness, ball skills, and knack for special awareness can make him a household NFL name.
  1. Should they pay Dak Prescott? Or do they have possibly the best possible situation around him that makes him seem better than he really is? I think a valid argument can be made either way but the truth is simple. This team is 32-16 with him as the starter and there isn’t a position in football that messes with team chemistry more than QB. Maybe Zeke is more responsible for their and his success than anything, maybe it is the OL, maybe it is the improving young defense. But messing around with QB could damn then for a long time. Pay him.
  1. Pretty quiet night for the DAL pass rush. I think that is still the question with this team and whether or not they can make a big push in the postseason. DeMarcus Lawrence is legit, but who else is getting through a quality offensive line? At this moment in time, I don’t see that guy yet. And they won’t be able to purchase anyone in the near future.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  1. 158.3 – The perfect passer rating. The Giants defense was fully healthy. They had two new safeties. They had a 1st-round pick at corner and a 1st-round pick at DT. They contained the running game for the most part. However Dak Prescott put together one of the best passing performances, maybe even THE best, in DAL franchise history. There are bad games and every defense is allowed to have them. But “bad” doesn’t do just how poor this was. It was an embarrassment and to be honest, DAL shot themselves in the foot via penalties by OG Zack Martin (who rarely commits penalties) and drops. This could have been so much worse, if you have the stomach to imagine that.
  1. 3rd-and1. 3rd-and-2. 4th-and-1. Three situations where NYG was losing and the game was starting to slip out of their grasp. Saquon Barkley, whom ended up averaging over 10 yards per carry (best in the NFL week 1 for backs with 7+ touches), Saquon Barkley, whom is a “generational talent”, Saquon Barkley, whom has this offense built around, did not touch the ball on any of those plays. Two passes and a hand off to the fullback. Those 3 plays resulted in a gain of 1 yard and a turnover. I can understand and respect that you can’t be too predictable, that you need to put other things on tape. But when your struggling offense needs to make things happen and your best player is literally dominating every time he touches the ball, give him the ball. “Keep it simple, stupid.”
  1. You can’t think of many worse ways to start off a year but at least the offense showed the ability to make some plays. Barkley, Engram, and Latimer raised a few eyebrows. The offensive line was stout and consistent. The ship isn’t completely broken but the defensive side of it needs to at least look like a pro unit against BUF next week at home. If something like this happens against Josh Allen and company, let’s start talking 2020 NFL Draft.
Aug 312019
 
Share Button
Spencer Pulley, New York Giants (August 29, 2019)

Spencer Pulley – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 31 – New England Patriots 29

QUICK RECAP

Preseason game number 4. The point where coaches have made most of their roster decisions and are now hoping for no serious injuries to their backups and rotational players. The Giants headed to New England to face off against the Patriots, as per usual, in the final game prior to the regular season. The Giants kept their starters on the bench for this one, giving roster hopefuls a shot at showing what they can do with an extended amount of snaps.

The Patriots, led by rookie Jarrett Stidham, marched down the field and put NE up 3-0 after the first drive. He had Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Demaryius Thomas running routes and catching balls for him. If this were 2013, that could have passed for the best WR trio in the NFL. It was a good, true test for the youthful NYG defensive backs to be up against such established pass catchers even though they are past their primes.

Daniel Jones started for NYG, pulling an Eli Manning and staying out there for just one series. He remained near-perfect on the preseason, going 4/4 and 47 yards. The fact that Shurmur pulled him after one series has to tell you something.

The Giants forced a turnover via pressure from Jake Ceresna, which caused an errant pass by Stidham, landing in the arms of safety Sean Chandler. With Alex Tanney at the helm on ensuing drive, it took just two plays for NYG to reach the end zone. A perfectly thrown ball to Alonzo Russell gave them the 35-yard score, putting Big Blue up 7-3. It didn’t take long for the Giants to get the ball back, one play actually. A poor exchange on an attempted reverse resulted in the ball being put on the ground, which was recovered by Keion Adams. The Giants turned that turnover in 3 points, giving them a 10-3 lead as the first quarter came to an end.

With the all-2013 wide receiver group still in, Stidham was able to get the NE offense back on track, hitting Thomas for a 35-yard score. After a NYG three-and-out, Stidham again hit Thomas, this time for a 3-yard score and all of the sudden NE was up 16-10. Things were getting ugly for the NYG offense via penalties and eventually an interception by Tanney. It was the first of two INTs by Tanney on the night.

The Patriots offense took over the rest of the first half and entered halftime with a commanding 29-10 lead. The Giants offense couldn’t convert on 3rd down and the Pats offense was continuing to play their simple but efficient style of football.

Kyle Lauletta came out under center to start off the second half and led a nice resurgence. He was on the money for the rest of the night and led this team to within striking distance. Despite several dropped balls and some of his targets going down with lower body injuries, he looked very smooth and efficient. He threw a perfect deep pass to Scott Simonson for his first of two touchdowns. Wayne Gallman, who saw the most preseason action of the year, scored a physical 6-yard touchdown and Aldrick Rosas hit a 27-yard field goal.

The Giants defense came up with several key stops and applied a lot of pressure from the middle of the line. John Jenkins and Ceresna were standouts.

The dramatic finish had NYG facing a 29-25 deficit with 4 seconds remaining. Lauletta, who was dominant on 3rd down all night, was in his highest-pressure situation of the night, one play left from the NE 14-yard line. He hit Russell for the touchdown as time expired to complete the 19-point comeback and 21 unanswered points.

Giants win 31-29 and end the preseason a perfect 4-0.

QUARTERBACKS

-Starter Eli Manning didn’t play in this one, giving Jones his first unofficial start of his career. He was able prepare for the game as the number one guy on the depth chart all week, another check mark on the QB progression list. Jones had a quick night, just one series, and completed all 4 of his attempts. Two of those completions were to Golden Tate, a combo we are sure to see later in the year. Jones has a superb preseason and instilled as much confidence as one can during preseason action.

-Alex Tanney had a night to forget while Kyle Lauletta had arguably his best half as a Giant. The former went 4/12 – 1 TD – 2 INT, while the latter went led a 19-point comeback, going 22/40 – 247 yards – 2 TD. He was also the victim of multiple drops and could have easily wound up over 300 yards, in just one half. Perhaps the most impressive part of his game was the performance on 3rd and 4th down. He went 12/15-166 yards-2 TD. It was truly dominant.

RUNNING BACKS

-Paul Perkins ended the preseason strong with two straight strong weeks. He rushed for 54 yards on 11 carries, displaying outstanding ability in space to miss tacklers and gain yards after contact. Still not a good between the tackles runner who can push piles, though.

-Wayne Gallman added 29 yards on 7 carries to go along with 3 receptions for 24 yards. His 6-yard touchdown run caught me by surprise with how physically he finished it off and pushed multiple defenders into the end zone. I was surprised to see him get so much action late in the game, but I’m glad he did. It is important for running backs to knock heads a few times in live action before the season starts.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Long-winded night for the likes of Alonzo Russell, Reggie White Jr., and T.J. Jones. It was the most they all played during preseason and you could tell it impacted their performance late in the game. Russell was the star of the group, going 5-92-2 on an amazing 15 targets. Some analysts who are overly-obsessive about numbers will tell you that was an inefficient game, but Russell all but stamped his name onto the roster. He ran good routes, he tracked the ball well, and made physical catches. With the uncertainty at WR early in the year, he will get his shot. He did, however, drop a pass and another one on a 2-point conversion.

-T.J. Jones hobbled off the field a couple times, the second appearing more serious. He has had a few issues staying healthy and even though I think his versatility can land him a roster spot, I’m not sold he has a spot locked in.

TIGHT ENDS

-Scott Simonson, whom has had a problem with drops this preseason, made arguably the best catch of his Giants career on a 27-yard touchdown. He got downfield in a hurry and made a diving grab. Unfortunately, he injured his ankle on the play and had to be carted off. As of typing the review, no final result has been publicized but it didn’t look good.

-C.J. Conrad stepped up and had a nice game in the trenches. Very stifling blocker who rarely gets beat. He has been a consistent player all preseason and continued to show he can catch the ball when it is thrown his way as well. Jake Powell got some extra action after the injury, catching three passes and dropping another.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-As I have been saying all preseason, the NYG second-string offensive line is the best it has been in quite some time, most notably on the right side. Chad Slade and Nick Gates are playing powerfully and balanced. Their footwork has been on point and both play a violent game with their hands.

-Really rough game for left tackle Brian Mihalik. He was flagged 3 times, gave up 2 pressures and allowed 1 TFL. He may win the backup left tackle job by default unless this team thinks Gate or Slade can handle it, which I would prefer.

-Evan Brown and James O’Hagan both struggled to contain the NE interior defenders. They got minimal push, if anything. There appeared to be some miscommunication on blitzes as well.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Really active game from R.J. McIntosh and that is a word that keeps coming up every time I watch him. He gets off the ball fast and there is plenty of quick-twitch reaction and movement to his game.

-One of my NYG favorites of the preseason has been Jake Ceresna. I first noticed him in practice and then he popped up a few times in the games. He saved his best effort for last, as he finished with 2 TFL, 1 sack, and 2 pressures. This kid still has some developing to do, but the second-year undrafted free agent has done everything a back end roster player can do to make a spot for himself on the practice squad.

-John Jenkins had 2 tackles and a sack. He has really improved his quickness and game speed since coming into the league from Georgia back in 2013. The former 3rd round pick makes me feel good about the depth on the interior of this defensive line.

LINEBACKERS

-B.J. Goodson is proving he belongs on this team and can make an impact when called upon. I won’t bang the table for him to start (yet) because he isn’t the ideal schematic fit, but this guy needs to make the team. He is a tackling machine and plays with a lot of speed. He finished with a team high 6 tackles in addition to a sack. He also showed some solid downfield coverage on two occasions.

-There may be a quiet roster battle going on between Josiah Tauaefa and Nate Stupar. The latter is a leader on special teams but the former has been making plays when he gets on the field. Really fast reaction and sure tackling in addition to fitting the scheme well. Interested to see what happens there.

-Avery Moss is likely to get another shot here in 2019, but I think Jake Carlock has earned the right to take his roster spot. He had a sack taken away by a defensive hold and we have already noted the energy he brings to the table every play. Moss just doesn’t seem to have it.

CORNERBACKS

Terrell Sinkfield got beat up by the savvy veteran Demaryius Thomas. He continues to show a lack of ability to track and locate the ball. He has an impressive physical package but the skill set is inconsistent. Henre’ Toliver got some good experience in as well against the rusty but still effective Josh Gordon. His results were a bit more mixed, as he did flash here and there.

-Ronald Zamort had arguably his best performance of the preseason as he makes a push for a roster spot or a practice squad allocation. He broke up 2 passes early on.

SAFETIES

-Sean Chandler intercepted a pass and broke up 2 others. He is the one guy who I think this coaching staff really likes, as he can play multiple roles back there and has a knack for the ball.

-Solid game for Julian Love, who I loved coming out of Notre Dame but even I am surprised by how quickly he seems to have taken in both S and CB roles. Smart player who showed a physical side in this one. His future can be wherever this team needs him most, a really valuable asset.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 2/2 (Made 32 and 27). Perfect on the preseason.

-P Riley Dixon and P Johnny Townsend continued to split duties with the latter outperforming the former yet again.

3 STUDS

-QB Kyle Lauletta, WR Alonzo Russell, LB B.J. Goodson

3 DUDS

-OT Brian Mihalik, CB Terrell Sinkfield, QB Alex Tanney

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-Now comes the most active day of the personnel/team building year. At the time this is posted, several cuts may already have been made. Before you get surprised by anything both with the NYG and around the league, just consider there is a lot of information we don’t have access to when it comes to the “why”? Money, undisclosed injuries, schematic needs…etc.

-If there is one guy I really want NYG to keep around, it is B.J. Goodson. If he an stay healthy and readily available, I think he can be a difference maker in the middle especially with what they have up front along the defensive line. He has holes in coverage, but I think he has shown improvement there and the attitude he brings as a run defender elevates the physicality of this defense.

-When it comes to my outlook of the 2019 season, I have to say I have leaned more towards being optimistic. Much more so than last year, anyway. There is something to this team and the way they come together. Nobody is walking around like they are bigger than everyone else. The team is relatively healthy. The trenches are strong. There are legitimate concerns at a few spots, namely the pass rush, but I think this team will be in the wild card hunt for most, if not all of the season.

Aug 242019
 
Share Button
Brittan Golden, New York Giants (August 22, 2019)

Brittan Golden – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 25 – Cincinnati Bengals 23

QUICK RECAP

The Giant took their show away from MetLife Stadium for the first time in 2019, as they matched up against the Cincinnati Bengals, led by the youngest coach in the NFL, Zac Taylor. The Giants opted to keep RB Saquon Barkley on the sideline as well as WR Sterling Shepard (thumb) and WR Golden Tate (concussion). Defensively they were without LB Alec Ogletree and CB Deandre Baker, among others.

Eli Manning, for the third week in a row, played one series. It was a long, 15 play drive that saw a nice run/pass balance but had some sloppiness to it. Cody Latimer dropped two passes, the second of which would have been a touchdown and the Giants had to settle on a short field goal to get the initial lead, 3-0. Daniel Jones took over the offense with the rest of the night’s first string still in. The two teams traded three-and-outs and then CIN QB Andy Dalton picked up chunk gain after chunk gain. He completed five straight passes, the last of which was a 26-yard touchdown to TE C.J. Uzomah on a perfectly placed ball, beating S Jabrill Peppers.

The sloppiness ensued as the second quarter began, as both sides of the ball were getting flagged too often. Perhaps the two best throws of the night came on the second drive of the quarter with Jones hitting Brittan Golden for 35 yards and Darius Slayton for 27 yards, which got them to the CIN 1-yard line. They were both big time throws respectively and this was on a drive where Jones got absolutely clocked by both CIN edge rushers at the same time. RB Rod Smith soon after burst through the pile for a 1-yard touchdown run, which gave NYG their lead back, 10-7.

The NYG defense remained iffy at best on the next drive with missed tackles and a huge hands-to-the-face by Olsen Pierre which negated a 3rd-down stop. This allowed the 12-play drive to cut out most of the remaining time on the clock in the first half and led to a 50-yard field goal that tied the game up.

The Giant gave the second half to the two QBs who are competing for the the number three job, Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta. The third quarter saw the two teams trade scoreless possessions multiple times. CIN was moving the ball well thanks to poor tackling by the backup NYG defenders, particularly at the second and third levels. Offensively the three standouts were Lauletta, RB Paul Perkins, and WR Brittan Golden.

CIN took a 17-10 lead early in the fourth quarter on a 3-yard pass from Jacob Dolegala to Damian Willis. NYG responded with a touchdown scoring drive of their own ending with a Jon Hilliman 1-yard dash across the goal line that saw him push the pile on the right side of the line. Lauletta was 3-out-of-4 for 66 yards, making passes on all levels of the route tree from both the pocket and on the move. NYG went for 2, because why not, and successfully got the 2 points via a pass to Alonzo Russell, who continued to impress on multiple levels in this game.

Golden, who had his loudest performance of the entire preseason/training camp process, returned a punt for a 68-yard score thanks largely to the aforementioned Russell throwing two outstanding downfield blocks. A strong receiving night and a punt return touchdown was going to possibly put his name in the mix for the last WR spot on the 53-man roster but a muffed punt, which resulted in a turnover, on the next drive put a damper on his night. CIN turned that fumble in to 7 points via another short pass from Dolegala, this time to Justin Hunter.

With a 25-23 lead and under three minutes left, NYG was able to burn the rest of the clock and walk away with their third preseason win in as many chances.

Giants win 25-23.

QUARTERBACKS

-Eli Manning played just one drive for the third straight week, going 4/8 for 41 yards. It was a 15-play drive that gained NYG the initial 3-0 lead. Manning continues to look sharp and more decisive than in the past which, as I have stated a few times, stems from the improved OL play in my opinion.

-Daniel Jones played the remainder of the first half, also continuing his superb preseason. He got the most snaps he’s had with the first string and he passed yet another test. He went 9/11 for 141 yards including two downfield passes for gains of 35 and 27 yards. Jones did get sacked, causing a fumble (his third of the preseason) but it did not result in a turnover. The glaring positive that came from that was the fact that on the very next play, he hit fellow rookie Darius Slayton for a 27-yard gain that was 1-yard shy of a touchdown. Jones is proving to be tough and even keel, an absolute must for success at the position in this league.

-The Alex Tanney vs. Kyle Lauletta competition is going to come down to the wire. Lauletta looked better in this one, as he was hitting his targets on all levels of the route tree from both the pocket and on the move. Two of his incompletions were drops by the receivers on nicely-placed balls. Tanney was overthrowing his deep passes and never really got into a flow.

RUNNING BACKS

-Saquon Barkley sat out again as it appears his first live action will be week 1 in Dallas. The running game altogether was ugly, as the middle of the NYG offensive line did not get enough movement. Wayne Gallman did show a nice cutback-and-burst run that gained 14 yards. He is the unquestioned backup and won’t need much more work.

-Paul Perkins had a solid night via the passing game, catching 3 balls for 27 yards showing excellent burst and balance on a couple of occasions. Rod Smith had a hard time, gaining 8 yards on 5 attempts. He is a guy who absolutely needs space to work with because he isn’t a quick-acceleration back. Jon Hilliman scored a touchdown in the second half and continues to compete for a final roster spot, although I don’t think it will happen for him.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-With the two top targets out (Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate), the opportunities for roster hopefuls continued to be present from start to finish. Brittan Golden was the one who jumped off the screen with receptions of 35 and 24 yards in addition to a punt return touchdown. His muffed punt that resulted in a turnover left a poor taste on the night overall, however. Not catching the ball is a major no-no.

-Cody Latimer had a night to forget, as he had two drops on balls that hit him square in the chest. The second one would have likely been a touchdown pass on the opening NYG drive and had that been a regular-season game, it would have been a big deal. Those are the kinds of mistakes that really swing the outcome of a game and it cannot happen. He has the opportunity of a lifetime in 2019, especially weeks 1 through 4.

-Reggie White vs. Alonzo Russell is an interesting roster battle. Russell has been here longer and continues to make things happen on special teams. We have noted the vertical speed and size, which is lacking elsewhere in this WR core. However, White keeps popping up during practice and it is carrying over into game action. White seems to have more natural pass catching ability and it was shown on the 36-yard downfield grab he brought in.

-Darius Slayton finally got his first game action with the club. I expect him to get a lot of reps next week because as I said back in the spring when the team drafted him, he is going to factor at some point this season. He is going to need some time but the speed and ball skill he possesses creates a much needed deep threat for this offense. He was 1-yard shy of a touchdown on his 27-yard catch.

-Brittan Golden has never really been a guy who I thought would make this team and even though he had the night of his life against CIN, I still don’t see the 30-year-old journeyman taking a spot away from the guys who are younger and bigger.

TIGHT ENDS

-Evan Engram played just 10 snaps, as this team is being more cautious than in the past with their top expected playmakers. Rhett Ellison had 2 catches for 26 yards, including some tough YAC. We know what we have in him.

-Is there more competition for that third TE spot than most are thinking? Scott Simonson had another drop and did not stand out as a blocker. If you are going to consistently drop the ball, you better dominate the trenches. Garrett Dickerson on the other hand caught 2 passes for 30 yards and showed sneaky YAC ability with his power and balance with the ball. He definitely has more play-maker in him. C.J. Conrad also caught his lone target on the night for 11 yards and is a prime candidate for the practice squad.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-The left side of the line had a night to forget, not something we want to see in week 3 of the preseason. Guard Will Hernandez was flagged three times and Nate Solder allowed a sack and pressure. Hernandez is still struggling with the late inside move, something that bit him hard multiple times in 2018. Solder just looks stiff and weak if I am going to be honest. I think the veteran in him can make up for some physical deficiencies but at some point this guy is going to need to anchor himself better. Too much lack of presence when moving laterally as a run blocker in addition to pass protection.

-Solder’s backup, Brian Mihalik, was back in game action and also had a rough night. He allowed a sack and a pressure as well. There isn’t much hope behind Solder, as Mihalik looks like his little brother in terms of stiffness and weakness.

-Kevin Zeitler and Mike Remmers were quiet for the most part. The latter allowed a pressure that would have been a sack had Solder’s man not reached Jones first on the fumble-causing sack.

-I continue to be impressed with the combination of Chad Slade and Nick Gates. I think these two are going to make the team because of the position-versatility they bring to the table.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-A much better night from rookie Dexter Lawrence in this one. He was more disruptive and mobile after initial contact, and he also batted a pass down. He came off on passing downs, which I expect to see more of because if there is one thing I keep on noticing, he isn’t very well conditioned. He tires easily and gets sluggish. He didn’t play much, the same with Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill.

-R.J. McIntosh looked active and disruptive despite not recording any tackles or pressures. He made the offense adjust to him on a couple of occasions, however the stoutness isn’t there yet. John Jenkins and Olsen Pierre, on the other hand, both held their ground and kept the LBs clean. Pierre was flagged for a costly illegal-hands-to-the-face pnealty though.

-Jake Ceresna had a pressure and despite not seeing a ton of time, has been very disruptive every week. I hope they have a spot for him on the practice squad.

LINEBACKERS

-Rookie Oshane Ximines had a mini-breakout game. He recorded 2 sacks, the second of which he was untouched. He played crafty and efficient. The coaches are noting how far along he is with hand techniques and if the pass rush stalls at some point, he could end up being the feature guy – as early as week 1.

-Lorenzo Carter and Markus Golden played sparingly, not making much of an impact. Same with Kareem Martin who seems to be entrenched as the #3 guy, a role that is ideal for him.

-Alec Ogletree remained out with his calf injury, thus Ryan Connelly and Tae Davis got the starting nod again. Davis missed a tackle but also recorded a pressure on a well-timed and schemed blitz. His lack of size equally helps and hurts him, as does the athletic ability as he overshoots angles sometimes.

-Nate Stupar took a major step back in this game. He missed 4, yes 4, tackles. That is a number that is simply unacceptable for a linebacker. IF a decision needs to be made between him and B.J. Goodson, that’s an easy one if you are asking me. Goodson is showing he can, at least, still lay the lumber and be a reliable run defender. Stupar is a solid special teamer which I know the coaches love, but I don’t want him anywhere near the defense.

-Outstanding game for the LB that nobody is talking about, but everyone notices. Josiah Tauaefa led the team with 7 tackles and also recorded a sack. The knock on him coming out of college was a lack of speed but he is showing excellent reaction time and really good pursuit angles. He finishes what he starts too.

-Once again, don’t sleep on Jonathan Anderson. He had 2 tackles, including a TFL. I am thinking practice squad for him, especially if the team isn’t fully confident in Ogletree’s calf heading in to week 1. Those injuries can really linger.

CORNERBACKS

-Corey Ballentine got the starting nod with Deandre Baker and Antonio Hamilton missing the game with respective injuries. He was picked on early and often and also missed 2 tackles. The talent is there and we all know it, but there are some serious growing pains with him. He is late to recognize which is understandable but once teams get deep into scouting this defense, he will be a focal point. I look forward to seeing how he responds. He did stay aggressive all night and finished with 7 tackles and a TFL.

-Ronald Zamort and Terrell Sinkfield both allowed short touchdown passes. The latter was a result of poor footwork and too much concentration on his hands, something he was getting grilled for at practice last Monday. I don’t think either of these guys have a shot at making the team unless the injuries to Baker, Beal, and Hamilton are serious.

SAFETIES

-Jabrill Peppers was playing fired up again but that aggression hurt the defense as he bit hard on play-action and didn’t realize until it was too late that the CIN tight end got behind him. Dalton threw a perfect pass and it ended up putting 6 on the board for the bad guys. Other than that, he was solid across the board but those plays can’t happen.

-Kenny Ladler missed a tackle and gave up a long gain in the passing game, but on a play-to-play basis, I have been impressed with him this preseason. I think they have something in him. Sean Chandler recorded a sack and 2 tackles in addition to breaking up a pass. This coaching staff likes him a lot.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-P Johnny Towsend got 3 punts in while Riley Dixon got only one. I wonder if this has been an overlooked intra-team position battle.

-Brittan Golden got his opportunity to show what he has in the return game and he responded with a 68 yard touchdown but also muffed one that ended in a turnover.

3 STUDS

-QB Daniel Jones, OL Nick Gates, LB Josiah Tauaefa

3 DUDS

-LB Nate Stupar, WR Cody Latimer, OT Nate Solder

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-One can easily make the argument that this preseason could not have gone any better for Daniel Jones. I agree that his command of the offense, his accuracy, and his toughness all have checks on the QB list. However, we are now looking at 3 fumbles in 3 games. He has to clean that up.

-Why not another week of Jones vs. Manning debate? Sorry to say it but we are going to hear this non-stop until it happens. Two thoughts I want to leave you with: What does Manning do that Jones cannot? And why does this team have to be losing, or out of the playoff picture, for Jones to take the job? Eli Manning took the job from Kurt Warner in 2004 when Big Blue was 5-4.

-I don’t think I can remember a year where so many rookies are in line to start OR be major pieces to the rotation puzzle on defense. Ryan Connelly, Dexter Lawrence, Deandre Baker, and Oshane Ximines are going to be starting or playing in serious game situations within the first few weeks, if not week 1. Is that an indictment of a lack of talent on the team? Or do we finally have a legit scouting staff running the personnel department?

Aug 182019
 
Share Button
New York Giants Defense (August 16, 2019)

New York Giants Defense – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 32 – Chicago Bears 13

QUICK RECAP

Week 2 of the preseason brought in a team coming off the “worst-to-first” season. The Bears, who won just 5 games in 2017, took the NFC North in 2018 with 12 victories. Jim Nagy won Coach of the Year, the Bears defense allowed a league low 17 points per game, and QB Mitch Trubisky took a big step in his progression. This had the look of a solid test for where NYG stood at this point. However Nagy, who appears to be anti-preseason football, sat nearly his entire first string on both sides of the ball. The Giants test would have a different outlook, but the game still was to be played.

Eli Manning partook in just one drive for the second week in a row, however this one was much more impressive. He attempted 4 passes, completing all 4 to different targets, the last of which an 8-yard touchdown to Bennie Fowler. It was a smooth and easy grouping of plays for the first string offense.

Chase Daniel started for the Bears, the same Chase Daniel who lost to NYG last December in a 2-interception game. A couple of NYG mistakes enabled them to drive down the field and eventually hit a 41-yard field goal. The score was 7-3 as the end of the first quarter approached and rookie Daniel Jones was ready to take over with the first string offense surrounding him. After three straight completions, the last of which went for 40 yards to Cody Latimer, Jones fumbled a snap and turned the ball over in the red zone.

Quality offensive football took a nap, as the two teams produced 5 straight 3-and-outs, one of which ended with Jones’ second fumble of the night and then a missed CHI field goal attempt. He was able to recover well enough and thanks to quality offensive line play, NYG was able to put another 3 points on the board with a 47-yard field goal. On the ensuing drive, an errant snap produced a safety and a 12-3 lead for NYG. Jones had under 3 minutes left and he finished the half with arguably his best drive of his young career.

With urgency in the no huddle offense, Jones went a perfect 4-4 including a beautiful touch pass to T.J. Jones in the end zone. The 15-yard touchdown gave the Giants a commanding 19-3 lead with a little over 1 minute left in the half. That was enough for the Bears to get themselves back into field goal position with time expiring which they took advantage of, making the score 19-6 at the halfway point.

The full list of backups took over in the second half with Alex Tanney appearing to still have a firm grip on the number three job. His night didn’t begin in ideal fashion, as his offense went 3-and-out on drive number one and the second ended in a poor interception with NYG just one yard away from a touchdown on first down. An under throw, ill-advised decision ended up in the hands of CHI rookie corner Clifton Duck. The Bears turned that in to a touchdown and got within 6 as the fourth quarter got under way. Tanney did bounce back with one more TD-scoring drive, this one by roster-hopeful Ronnie Hilliman, making the score 25-13.

NYG took advantage of poor CHI play that produced penalties and fumbles. With Kyle Lauletta leading the offense at this point, they scored another 6 on a pass to Garrett Dickerson. The Giants had a 32-13 lead and after another Bears turnover, the game was all but over. Not the cleanest win, but NYG improved their record to 2-0.

Giants win 32-13.

QUARTERBACKS

Eli Manning: 4/4 – 42 yards – 1 TD. Manning was on the field for just one drive for the second straight week. It was a smooth and efficient drive with the highlight play being an absolute rope to Latimer over the middle. It was a tight-window throw that traveled 20+ yards in the air. The reports of Manning’s arm being stronger than in years past are credible.

-Daniel Jones: 11/14 – 161 yards – 1 TD. Add 2 lost fumbles to the stats for Jones, something that absolutely needs to be cleaned up. Turnover margin is the ONE stat that correlates to wins and losses more than any other. Besides that, Jones expanded the throw-arsenal in this one. He pushed the ball downfield for a 40-yard gain to Latimer and it was a nicely placed ball. Some will say he should have led Latimer more, but that could have easily resulted in the safety bearing down on the ball and breaking it up. With the cornerback running with his back to Jones, I think that is where the throw was meant to land. Jones’ touchdown pass to T.J. Jones was something we saw in college. Perfect placement, perfect touch, easily catchable. Some pro QBs never fully grasp the ability to alter touch and air under the ball throughout all levels of the passing tree and it looks like it comes so natural to Jones. This was another excellent passing performance by Jones, but the fumbles can’t be overlooked.

-The battle for the number three job between Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta appears all but over. Tanney did throw an interception on 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line, a major mistake, but he still showed more ability to push the ball downfield. Lauletta did end the night with a touchdown and had a solid 15-yard rushing gain. I expect Manning and Jones to get almost all the snaps in week 3, so the last shot in game action will likely come in two weeks.

RUNNING BACKS

-With both Saquon Barkley and Wayne Gallman on the sideline, it was an opportunity to shine for Rod Smith and Paul Perkins. Smith’s size is something these other potential backups don’t bring to the table, he can really push the pile. He finished with 10-42 on the ground and 2-8 via the air. He fumbled once but it was recovered by Nick Gates, the backup NYG left tackle. Perkins, who was a complete dud in week 1, put together arguably his best game-performance in a Giants uniform. 6-35 on the ground and 2 catches for 30 yards. He displayed the quickness, burst, and balance on a couple of occasions that got me originally excited about him years ago. I still think it is unlikely he makes the team if this coaching staff wants to just keep 3 backs on the roster in addition to fullback Elijah Penny.

-Jon Hilliman bounced back after taking a nasty hit and missing a couple days while in concussion protocol last week. He had a team-high 16 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown. Hilliman gets downhill in a hurry and runs with a low pad level. He has always been a solid between the tackles runner but that role on this team won’t be there barring injury to the guys in front of him.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-T.J. Jones continues to impress, whether it be in practice or in a game. He walked away from this one with 3 catches – 32 yards – 1 TD. For a small guy, Jones gets to the ball in contested situations exceptionally well. He is more than just an underneath threat. Great find by the Pro Personnel staff here, because I think Jones is going to be the #3 or #4 on this team while Tate is suspended.

-Cody Latimer was targeted twice and he ended with 2 catches – 60 yards. This is the one guy who can consistently get downfield and with the size/long stride combo, he is going to get plenty of deep looks. You don’t hear much about him in camp reports but I think some are overlooking how solid and reliable he can be. If his health stays in check, I am expecting 65+ catches from him with some big plays in the vertical passing tree.

-Bennie Fowler caught the touchdown from Manning on the first drive. He consistently gets open underneath on the quick slants and hooks. But what may not be obvious to the naked eye is how physical he is. Fowler is 6’1/218 and even looking back at my college scouting report of him, he has always been a guy who can overpower defensive backs. While Tate is suspended those first four weeks, he may be a really important piece to the passing game when those 3-6 yard gains are needed over the middle. He has been proving his worth there so far.

-Nice downfield grabs by Da’Mari Scott (38 yards) and Brittan Golden (27 yards).

TIGHT ENDS

-Evan Engram didn’t play. Rhett Ellison was only on the field for 14 snaps with Scott Simonson only seeing 16 snaps. That left it up to roster hopefuls C.J. Conrad and Garrett Dickerson. Conrad did a nice job blocking with powerful contact and sticky hands while Dickerson showed more in the passing game with 2 catches – 17 yards – 1 TD. They are both interesting players who can, like Ellison, move around to the backfield as a lead blocker, mixing it up in the trenches, and being dependable underneath pass catchers. Simonson had a drop but I think he is firmly in place as the #3 guy.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-The first-string OL got more action in this one, and they did a fine job. No pressures, no sacks, no TFL. I focused on Mike Remmers because of how much that RT spot has hurt the offense in recent years. He is a blue-collar guy who reminds me of a tackle-version of Rich Seubert. Little short on talent and tools but there is a lot of grit, a lot of competitor in him. Center Jon Halapio had a nice game too, very stout and hard to move. When he gets on his target, there is never any movement in the wrong direction. That will be very important.

-Nick Gates is turning into the surprise of the preseason for me personally. He and Chad Wheeler did allow a sack, but other than that Gates was more than solid. There is a lot of twitch and reaction to his game and there is a natural presence about him. The staff is talking about how they are comfortable putting him anywhere along the line and I think he has locked up a spot. Wheeler, on the other hand, is officially on the hot seat. Another sack and pressure again. At some point, there will be a veteran available on the waiver wire who will come in and replace him.

-Don’t sleep on Chad Slade who still has sloppiness about him (1 sack allowed), but he moves guys as well as any of the backups. He, too, brings some inside-out versatility.

-Evan Brown had a holding penalty and was beat badly once on an inside rush, but he is a gritty blocker with quality footwork and balance. I think he has the top inside-backup role locked up other than Spencer Pulley, who I think is a center-only.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

-The trio of Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill, and Dexter Lawrence had a better game than week 1, but they still are leaving something to be desired. Nothing to overreact to at all, but there is just too much movement at the point-of-attack against the second string CHI offensive line. Lawrence is going to learn really fast that his size and power won’t do as much for him as it did in college. That alone just isn’t going to cut it if you want to be an every-down guy.

-Olsen Pierre recorded a sack and played with violence at the point-of-attack. He and John Jenkins are going to be a solid backup rotation should someone go down. Jenkins has a nice mix of disruptive and stout based on his playing style and tool set.

-One name that is continuing to jump at me, and this applies to practice as well, is Jake Ceresna. He, against 3rd-string OL, is constantly breaking through the line and shows quality athletic adjustments to the action. He had 2 tackles, one of which was for a loss. Also have to give attention to Terrence Fede, who had a nice week 1 and recovered a fumble along with recording a TFL in this one.

EDGE

-The edge rushers, which I think is, as of right now, the weakest group on the defense, had a quality night. Markus Golden recorded a sack via excellent hand-battling and a short area burst to close in on Chase Daniels. Oshane Ximines recorded the first sack of his pro-career via nice post-engagement footwork and balance. It is pretty easy to see he is still a ways away power-wise though.

-Lorenzo Carter had a pressure via a rush move I didn’t think he could pull off. He dipped completely under the blocker’s chest while turning the corner with complete balance and control. For a guy who has the size and straight-line speed to show that kind of movement is a good sign.

-Kareem Martin, albeit limited as a pass rusher, is a really dependable run defender. He is the most physical guy in the group and his backside pursuit made a difference in two occasions. He comes downhill hard and angry. If this defense ends up exceeding expectations, I bet he is a really important piece of the puzzle.

LINEBACKERS

-With Alec Ogletree nursing the calf, Tae Davis and rookie Ryan Connelly got the start and played 21 snaps. Neither recorded a tackle and while that isn’t the only barometer to be used for this success, I think they both struggled. Davis gets lost in traffic if he doesn’t get the initial jump and while that is common at the position, it happens too often with him. Connelly, on the other hand, made several key reads but was just a step or two too slow and couldn’t close the deal. He will have to adjust his angles a tad, as the speed of the game especially on outside runs isn’t anything close to what he is used to.

-Nate Stupar had a nice game: three tackles and pass break up. He is well thought of by the coaches and his presence with the other players is another check in his box. He has assumed a bit of a leadership role. B.J. Goodson, again, had to wait his turn. But once he got on the field, he made a couple plays, one of which was a nice pursuit and finish to the outside. Personally I really hope he sticks around this year, I think he can make things happen and he deserves a shot. I’m not sold on Connelly getting a higher spot on the depth chart than him just yet.

CORNERBACKS

-Janoris Jenkins and Antonio Hamilton got the start. With Baker out for the time being, which I don’t think will be long, it is interesting to compare these backup corners. I trust Hamilton the most because he seems to make the reads more consistently, whereas Henre’ Toliver was late to notice things and could have been burned deep a couple times had CHI 3rd-stringer Tyler Bray made accurate downfield passes.

-Corey Ballentine and Grant Haley are both very grabby. It is a gamble that, with the way these refs are throwing flags, could end up hurting this defense more than expected. Ballentine, as we talked about last week, has the tools that will make us drool. Haley is a solid nickel presence that has had a knack for making things happen but I get worried about seeing how much they grab.

SAFETIES

-Jabrill Peppers vs. Landon Collins will be a interesting comparison. Peppers actually plays more physical and that was apparent on how forcefully he was filling gaps. The question with him is reactive coverage, more notably zone, as I saw him exposed a couple of times in the all-22 tape. Fortunately it didn’t hurt them, this time.

-Kenny Ladler made another impactful, physical tackle. He continues to impress and it will be important to have another physical guy behind Peppers ready to step in should he go down. Peppers does have a slight injury history dating back to his days at Michigan, although he did play all 16 games in 2018.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 1/1 (Made 47).

-P Riley Dixon: 3 Punts – 40.3 avg / 45.3 net

-T.J. Jones had a 43-yard kick return but also muffed a punt that he ended up recovering himself. The more he can prove to do, the more likely he makes this team and the active game day roster.

3 STUDS

-RB Paul Perkins, OC Jon Halapio, OLB Lorenzo Carter

3 DUDS

-OT Chad Wheeler, TE Scott Simonson, LB Ryan Connelly

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-This offense is passing the preliminary tests. The main reason? The offensive line is controlling the point-of-attack and sustaining their blocks. While they haven’t been truly tested just yet, they are giving plenty of time and mental security to the passers. We haven’t seen that in preseason in recent years.

-Do we need to see Saquon Barkley this preseason? I think we do and yes, the fear of an injury is real. But this is football and I don’t want weeks 1 and 2 to be, in any fashion, players getting “the rust off”. I think it would benefit Barkley to get at least 6-7 touches in against CIN in the third preseason game.

-The emergence of T.J. Jones at receiver is good news for the offense but it has to mean someone may get the boot who we didn’t initially expect. The Tate suspension could end up helping someone stick around but if this team keeps six receivers not including Tate, the likes of Alonzo Russell, Alex Wesley, and Da’Mari Scott are going to be on the outside looking in.

Aug 112019
 
Share Button
Russell Shepard, New York Giants (August 8, 2019)

Russell Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 31 – New York Jets 22

QUICK RECAP

After a busy offseason filled with drama stemming from the trade of star receiver Odell Beckham and the selection of a quarterback at number 6 overall, it was finally time to get down to the important, objective things. Real football against another team. The Giants began their live action against their November 10th opponent, the cross-town rival New York Jets. With several players sitting out because of either protection or injuries or both, this game had a very “backup” feel to it. However these games are the most important part of the evaluation process when it comes to roster decisions. No matter who is on the field or what is going on, there are always multiple players and situations to keep a keen eye on.

The Jets started with the ball and, quite easily, marched down the field for the game’s first score. A Sam Darnold pass to his brand new toy, slot receiver Jamison Crowder, on the drive’s seventh play put Gang Green up 6-0, missing the extra point because of an errant kick by Chandler Catanzaro, his first of two on the night. Eli Manning got one whole drive with the first team offense; a drive that lasted three plays and 4 total yards. The night was clearly planned for the rookie Daniel Jones and his inauguration to NFL game action, and he didn’t disappoint. The first completion of his (preseason) career landed in the hands of Cody Latimer, a simple 5-yard slant to the right side. He then proceeded to fire near-perfect throw after near-perfect throw four more times, the last of which ended up in the hands of Bennie Fowler in the end zone for 6. The night could not have gone better for Jones, albeit in limited action. The storm clouds rolled in and put the game on delay for about an hour, and Head Coach Pat Shurmur decided that Jones had enough for the night.

Alex Tanney came out of the rain delay and hit Russell Shepard on a quick slant to the right and he took it from there. A broken tackle and a foot race, which he won with ease, resulted in a 51-ard touchdown that put the Giants up 14-6. The Jets answered with a touchdown drive of their own, with a Deandre Baker 26-yard pass interference on third down being a key play. Trevor Siemian hit running back Elijah McGuire in the right flat for the score. The two teams traded field goals to end the half and Big Blue led 17-15.

After a shortened halftime (5 minutes), the two teams went scoreless on their first drives respectively. Former Giants 3rd round pick Davis Webb came out for the Jets and threw an interception to, as Pat Shurmur puts it, “the fan favorite within the team” Jake Carlock. Carlock returned it for a 59-yard score and the team absolutely erupted on the sideline like we haven’t seen in quite some time. Webb came back on the next drive and, you guessed it, threw another pick. This time it landed in the arms of Corey Ballentine, the late round draft pick who was shot the same weekend he heard his name called by the Giants. This kid is going to be one of the better stories in the NFL before long, not everyone knows it just yet.

The Giants led 24-15 heading in to the fourth quarter and Kyle Lauletta was now getting his shot to prove he should be the number three guy on the depth chart. He, along with several backup quarterbacks around the league on opening night, put together a solid performance of his own. His highlight of the night was a 31-yard, back-shoulder throw to T.J. Jones for a touchdown. NYG had a commanding 31-15 lead with just over 7:30 left on the clock. Luke Falk, who Adam Gase signed after his former team (MIA) claimed him off waivers last fall, led the longest drive of the night. A 15-play, 7:17 series that ended with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Greg Dortch, one of the hot names coming out of Jets camp. This, too, was a toss and catch to the right flat (the third one of the night, more on that later).

Giants knelt on the ball with just a few seconds left and walked away with victory number one on the season.

Giants win 31-22.

QUARTERBACKS

-Daniel Jones: 5/5 – 67 yards – 1 TD – 0 INT. This all transpired in one drive and while you won’t hear me overreacting to anything in preseason, it couldn’t have started better. Two key things I see with him on the positive side were accurate ball placement and the athletic/quick release. I am not going to get in to comparing him and Manning just yet, but simply there are things a young, quick-twitched thrower can do that a 15-year veteran cannot.

-Alex Tanney: 14/19 – 190 yards – 1 TD – 0 INT. Tanney played over 50% of the team’s offensive snaps. Shurmur has been touting this kid every opportunity he gets and from the two times I have seen him in practice in combination with tonight’s game, there is something to be happy about. Crisp release and a tight ball, Tanney made a couple big time throws. He can really put some zip on it when he needs to.

-Kyle Lauletta: 9/12 – 116 yards – 1 TD – 0 INT. Gun to my head, Lauletta will be the odd man out when all is said and done after the preseason but he isn’t going to make the decision easy. He kept himself in the conversation with a couple of nicely placed balls, showing accuracy short, intermediate, and long. Job well done for him.

RUNNING BACKS

-Wayne Gallman: 5 att – 13 yards. Personally I don’t think there is any intra-team competition going on for the backup job behind Barkley (who didn’t play). Gallman was on the field for under 20% of the snaps and didn’t really have an opportunity to get going.

-Paul Perkins: 4 att – 9 yards / 2 rec – 8 yards / 1 fumble lost. After missing all of 2018 with a pec injury, the forgotten man (who was this team’s number one back at the start of 2017) had a rough first night back. He continued to show a lack of ability to break tackles, he dropped a pass and most importantly, fumbled the ball that eventually resulted in 3 points for the Jets. The one positive was effective pass protection.

-Rod Smith: 6 att – 12 yards. Nothing stood out from Smith in the game. He is a load and can push the pile, but he looks stiff and lethargic in traffic.

-Jon Hilliman: 2 rec – 16 yards. Hilliman took a nasty helmet-to-knee hit that ended his night early. He didn’t get a ton of time but the coaches have touted him after practice a couple times and I have always liked his north-south mentality. He doesn’t waste time and there is some pop behind his pads. I think there is a chance he can win the number three job.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-The competition for the backup spots will really be something to watch. Alonzo Russell (1 rec – 39 yards) looks like he is the best of the bunch. The sizable, long-strider got behind the defense a couple times but keeps on double-catching the ball. A possession receiver needs to have reliable hands and I am not sold on that aspect of his game yet. Local kid Reggie White, Jr. caught all 4 of his targets for 60 yards, including the best catch of the night where he dove near the sidelines and fully extended for the ball. He has my attention.

-Coaches love veterans because of how reliable they are when it comes to decision-making. Russell Shepard is a step below when it comes to talent compared to some of the younger guys, but his routes are crisp and he rarely drops the ball. His 59-yard touchdown was all him, as he broke up field the instant he grabbed the ball which gave him the angle advantage to burst upfield and outrun the Jets secondary. Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler also offer the veteran presence this team may need at some point. They combined for 4 catches – 56 yards – 1 TD.

-However the name that is continuing to appear on the positive side of the reports is T.J. Jones. He was targeted 6 times and ended with 6 catches for 72 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown pass where he made a great adjustment to the back shoulder with 2 defenders bearing down on him. Jones is playing hungry. The fact he handled all 3 punt returns for NYG strengthens the notion he is a likely candidate to make this team.

TIGHT ENDS

-With Evan Engram on the sideline, Scott Simonson and Rhett Ellison ran with the first and second string. Simonson made solid contact as a blocker. I can tell he added some power to the arsenal. Ellison continued his important, but quiet role with the team. He knows what he is doing out there and plays good assignment football.

-I am interested to see this C.J. Conrad vs. Garrett Dickerson competition should NYG want to keep a fourth tight end. Conrad caught a couple short passes, continuing his “easy hands” outlook and Dickerson caught one himself. There is more speed and twitch to his game.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Nate Solder and Mike Remmers started on the outside with Will Hernandez, Jon Halapio, and Kevin Zeitler manning the inside. That will be the starting five week 1 and it is going to be the best group they have had in a long time. They were on the field for just 11 plays. Solder got pushed around by NYJ linemen Quinnen Williams and Nate Shepherd on a couple of occasions, but other than that I don’t have anything negative to say. I look forward to seeing their snaps increase in the coming weeks.

-Backup tackles Nick Gates and Victor Salako got a lot of playing time, as the second stringers (Chad Wheeler and Brian Mihalik) were sideline with minor injuries.. Gates had a rough night, as he allowed 1 pressure, 1 TFL, and was penalized two times. He is a hustler downfield and plays with a violent style though, but I think he is best suited inside. Salako’s length is a weapon he continues to learn how to use, notably in pass protection. The footwork and balance looks choppy but he had a quiet night, in a good way.

-The interior backups struggled to get a push in the running game. Center Spencer Pulley allowed a TFL, 2 pressures, and was constantly making the backs adjust their initial rushing plans. I don’t think there is a competition for the OC job, Halapio is head and shoulders better. Evan Brown and Chad Slade stood out in pass protection when it came to their anchor in the ground and sticking with their assignments on deep drop backs.

EDGE

-Lorenzo Carter seems to have jumped over Kareem Martin on the depth chart. He and Markus Golden were on the field for 13 snaps. Carter’s offseason of bulk addition while maintaining his speed and explosion is something I discussed last week and I think he is the one guy that could bring this pass rush to the next level. He recorded a TFL. I will be looking for some improvement on post-engagement work from Golden next week.

-Jake Carlock, this year’s energizer bunny, intercepted a pass a returned it for a touchdown. He also recorded 2 tackles and a sack in just 13 plays. He is fighting an uphill battle to make this team but I’ll say this, multiple coaches are going out of their way to praise him, the teammates visibly feed off his energy, and now he is making plays. The pass-rush skill set still has a ways to go when it comes to his technique, but keep on eye on him.

-Oshane Ximines is going to be a part of the edge-rushing arsenal as a rookie, no question. I question the power and pure burst to the edge, but he knows what to do. He can get off contact and his ability to play low while turning the edge can give some blockers a handful. I don’t see big production coming right away, but he can hang.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Dexter Lawrence started off as an inside defender. On two occasions he was washed out by a blocker coming from his outside shoulder. In college he was big and powerful enough to take those unexpected hits and still hold his ground. Not up here. He will need to work on play-reading and awareness. However, in his limited action, it is easy to see how much space he is going to free up for others. Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill saw a handful of snaps and got into the backfield a couple times. Tomlinson looked quick and assertive, I think we are going to see more attacking-style football from him.

-John Jenkins had a solid game. His pad level gets sloppy but he makes plays and disrupts action at the point-of-attack. He batted a pass down and recorded a TFL.

-Roster hopefuls Terrence Fede and R.J. McIntosh were athletic and aggressive. Fede recorded a sack and McIntosh was pursuing in space like an oversized defensive end. 2018 was a washout for him because of medical reasons. I am glad to see him out there and able to work on the skill set because his tools are there.

-7th rounder Chris Slayton is going to be a factor in 2019. The crowded DL will make it tough for him to get on the field initially, but I think his ability to penetrate and locate the action is a weapon. He recorded a TFL.

LINEBACKERS

-Alec Ogletree started with Tae Davis. Davis is never going to win a lot of battles with the OL, but his speed and quickness created a lot in this game. He recorded 5 tackles, including 1 TFL where he snuck through a window and cut the angle of the back to the line beautifully.

-The most competition he has for snaps inside? Rookie Ryan Connelly, who may have had the most impressive night of all the team’s defenders. He finished with 5 tackles and was solid in coverage. When you look for quality LB play, most of it comes from instincts and being around the action. That is what I saw out of Connelly all night. Nothing seemed too fast for him. Looking forward to seeing more.

-B.J. Goodson was in with the 3rd stringers. Him and Jonathan Anderson are stout and physical. The question stems from ability in coverage and the ability to stay healthy. They combined for 7 tackles with Anderson also forcing a fumble. Goodson lost a match-up with slot WR Greg Dortch near the end zone which resulted in a touchdown.

CORNERBACKS

-Rookie Deandre Baker started along with Janoris Jenkins. Baker looks like a pro right now, as I think the learning curve with him is going to be minimal. Shurmur uses the word “gamer” when describing him and I couldn’t agree more, as I used that same description in his college scouting report. He was flagged for a deep pass interference, however.

-The main focus of the position was Corey Ballentine. After seeing him in practice a few times and just being impressed by the tool set, I wanted to see what carried over in to the game. While he did get flagged for a downfield pass interference, the ability is still jumping off the screen. He had a wide receiver-caliber interception at the hands of Davis Webb. He attacked the ball with his hands and came down with it. Really impressive play.

SAFETIES

-Jabrill Peppers dropped an interception on the first drive of the game. It was a great defensive play with a solid read and the catch would have been highlight-reel caliber.

-Julian Love started and ranked 3rd on the team in snaps played. He is playing a hybrid nickel/safety role it looks like. He finished with 3 tackles and a pass break up. He lost leverage on the first NYJ touchdown and one could make the argument that the result was on him.

-Kenny Ladler is making his presence felt with a physical presence coming downfield. He made three really nice hits that jarred the ball carrier backward. That is one barometer I look for in a tackler when determining how physical they are; can they knock them back? Ladler passed that test multiple times.

-I watched the All-22, the view from the end zone, and the safeties were solid in deep coverage all night.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-Aldrick Rosas hit a chip shot 23 yard field goal. Punters Riley Dixon and Ryan Anderson shared punting duties.

-Ballentine returned a kick for 40 yards, yet another avenue to get this kid on the active game day roster. T.J. Jones handled 3 punts and totaled 6 yards in return.

3 STUDS

-QB Daniel Jones, OLB Jake Carlock, WR T.J. Jones

3 DUDS

-OC Spencer Pulley, OT Nick Gates, RB Paul Perkins

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-One of the most common plays teams around the league will use when near the end zone is stacking multiple receivers on one side, use an unofficial pick-play, and quickly throw the ball in to the flat. Very hard play to defend. Misdirection combined with quick releases can make it look impossible for defenses to communicate quickly enough. NYJ scored all three of their touchdowns on similar patterns. With the inexperience at CB with Baker and S with Love, you can bet that will be noted by future opponents.

-Obviously coaches need to be guarded with what they say to the media. But I do find it odd that Shurmur will not openly commit to Manning being the number one guy when it comes to regular season play. This guy’s livelihood is on the line and there is a part of me that thinks Jones can be in the mix for week 1 more than some think. Odds are Eli is the guy, I know. But I don’t think the 100% commitment has been made yet.

-I was hoping to see more out of Nate Solder. He got a bit of a pass with me in 2018 because of the ongoing neck issue that quietly hampered him. However he doesn’t play nearly as powerful as he looks. It almost looks like the natural leverage disadvantage he has with his height is enabling him to get pushed around. The OL looks to be much improved, but we’ve seen around the league that if the LT is a weak link, it can destroy a passing game.

Apr 242019
 
Share Button
Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State Buckeyes (January 1, 2019)

Dwayne Haskins – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2019 NFL Draft Preview: Quarterbacks

*Grading Scale:

90+: Elite, All Pro

85-89: Immediate starter, building block for a decade, franchise player

80-84: First round talent, starter and/or majority of the snaps each week

77-79: Day 2 pick, starter within their first 16-24 games as a pro

75-76: Fourth rounder, has starter traits but needs development

71-74: Fifth/Sixth rounder, should develop into weekly contributor over rookie contract

68-70: Draftable, hopeful for special teams impact and long term development

67 and under: UDFA

*NFL Comparison are not a projection of how good they are, more so their style of play.

QUARTERBACK

WHERE THEY STAND

NYG is in a familiar place. They are “stuck” with an aging Eli Manning at QB, a top 6 pick in the draft, and unsure if they should use that pick on one of the class’ top rated signal callers or use it on a higher graded player who can help build the foundation of the current rebuild. Nobody believed this QB class was going to live up to anything special last summer and here we are days before the draft and that notion remains the same. Drafting a QB at 6 would be, by almost all accounts, a reach. But because we all value the position more than others and some believe a new, young QB alone is going to reverse the fortunes of this franchise, many want to go get our guy in round 1. I won’t say it is a bad idea, but buyer beware when you shop hungry. The Giants are building a better roster and culture around their two time Super Bowl MVP quarterback and even though there is no denying he as seen better days, Manning has not fallen off a cliff. He is still a threat to win games if the supporting cast is there. Behind him, there appears to be next to nothing.

TOP 25

1: Dwayne Haskins – Ohio State – 6’3/233

Grade: 81

Summary: Fourth year junior entry who was the main guy for Ohio State for just one season, although he got his feet wet initially in 2016. Haskins played behind all-time great (collegiately) JT Barrett. While he had to wait his turn, Haskins came in prepared and took full advantage of the starting role in 2018. He threw for 50 touchdowns and nearly 5,000 yards with his best football being played down the stretch. Haskins two standout traits; accuracy and intelligence. This is a kid who truly understands concepts and understands how to react quickly, swiftly, and efficiently. When it comes to throwing the ball, he rarely misses his target when he throws from a steady position. The issue that popped consistently was a lack of carry over to being under pressure. Haskins is not a good athlete, as he plays heavy-footed and tight-hipped. The lack of fluidity below the waist is a problem and could really impede his progress in the league. He projects as a starter but the fact he started for just one year and shows mechanical problems means he needs to sit for at least a year.

*Throughout the entire pre-draft process, Haskins has always been the guy who I trust the most. Accuracy, decisions, and swagger in big situations are standout traits that I think carry over into the NFL very well, especially a market like New York. Haskins has a few things that he really needs to clean up, however. His lower body is a mess and he didn’t respond well to productive pass rushes. I also have a few concerns with the fact that Ohio State was loaded with talent all over the place. There are also some concerns with weight management and being professional in his approach off the field. Not a troublemaker at all, but some question if he can change and lead a locker room. I thought that was notable. In the discussion at 6 I’m sure, but another one I would rather hold off on until 17.

NFL Comparison: Ben Roethlisberger / PIT

2: Daniel Jones – Duke – 6’5/221

Grade: 80

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. A three year starter and two time team captain. Despite playing with inferior talent both up front and at the skill positions nearly every week, Jones put together a productive career as both a passer and rusher. The prototypical quarterback when it comes to size and playing style showed glimpses over the past two years of what a first round QB should look like. His NFL-caliber mechanics from head to toe give him the look of a professional passer and him being coached by David Cutcliffe, the college coach of both Peyton and Eli Manning, only helps strengthen the notion of how ready he is. Jones pairs that with toughness and grit that doesn’t come around often. However, there were constant red flags in his tape that are hard to ignore. He didn’t see things well and his decisions were too inconsistent. There just seemed to be a lack of a true feel for the pocket, the defense, and angles. Jones checks a lot of boxes but there is a lot of gamble in the team that takes him even though he comes across as a “safe” bet to some.

*I wanted to like Jones more than this, I really did. I have a thing for tough quarterbacks and I do think he brought his teammates to another level. That’s a trend that can really make a kid break out in the NFL. While I do have a 1st round grade on him and I do think he can be in play at 17 because of the position he plays, I think NYG may need to steer clear here. Jones has enough arm strength, touch, and athletic ability. But there isn’t a quick mind here, he doesn’t see everything a top tier QB does whether it is coverage or pass rush based. After a long time scouting him, he is a pass for me.

NFL Comparison: Ryan Tannehill / TEN

3: Drew Lock – Missouri – 6’3/228

Grade: 77

Summary: Three-plus year starter from the SEC who was among the conference leaders in the big passing statistics each year despite multiple schematic and coaching changes. Lock’s special arm talent earned 2nd Team All SEC honors as a senior, the first time he completed over 60% of his passes as the program introduced more pro passing concepts to the offense. The upside with him is higher than any passer in the class, as he possesses the rare ability to flick to wrist and shoot the ball out of his hand deep downfield with no wind up or warning. Lock has several plays on tape that scream top tier first round pick but the lack of consistency when it comes to accuracy and mechanics are alarming. The two are usually tied together, thus the notion that he can hide the issues with time to work on the details of the position is out there. It’s hard to imagine, however, after 1,200 passing attempts in college and seeing where he ended mechanically that all of the sudden those issues will disappear. The margin between his floor and ceiling is as wide as anyone.

*I remember watching him for the first time in the fall of 2017 and I immediately thought Matt Stafford 2.0. The release, quick and easy zip on his balls, and athletic base were attractive but I can’t get past the inconsistencies across the board. There are so many easy throws that he missed, so many times where his mechanics were a train wreck. Sure, you can say these things will change once he gets into an NFL coaching environment but I am of the thought that after the amount of experience he’s had and the mistakes he is still making, we will see more of the same in the NFL. That, to me, is not a franchise QB.

NFL Comparison: Jay Cutler / FA

4: Kyler Murray – Oklahoma – 5’10/207

Grade: 77

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Initially began his career at Texas A&M but transferred to the Sooners program after just one year in Aggie country. Was a two-sport athlete at Oklahoma and was actually the 9th overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft, receiving a multi million dollar contract and signing bonus from the Oakland A’s. The fall of 2018 was supposed to be a farewell-to-football tour for Murray but a Heisman and Davey O’Brien award winning, All American season caused Murray to think otherwise about his future. Ultimately he returned the money to the A’s and entered the NFL Draft, where many expect him to the top overall pick. Murray is a dynamic athlete with quick, smooth, and accurate release. His short limbs and explosive twitch give him a unique level of speed as both a rusher and passer. The height alone makes him a major risk and he doesn’t enter the league with a lot of starting expedience, either. The Murray risk that someone will take in round 1 will be the ultimate case study and a true testament to how much weight analytics can, or cannot, trump over traditional scouting. Murray is a swing for the fences by Adam Dunn, meaning he will be a major whiff or a 500-foot homerun. Nobody would be surprised by his success, nor would it be a shock if he were playing baseball within 5 years.

*I actually think my 77 grade here is generous and part of me thinks his future in the league would be brighter as a running back. His athletic ability may actually be underrated by some because so much of the discussion surrounds his height and ability to throw the ball. But guys, this dude is a legit sub 4.4 runner with outstanding vision and change of direction. Do I want that to be the main weapon as a quarterback? No way, but he is intriguing. I wouldn’t put my job on the line with him, but there is no denying the excitement he brings to the table. But there are so many question marks, big question marks, that I just couldn’t handle him being my guy. There are a few major character question marks I have here too. Let someone else take him and enjoy the show, for better or worse.

NFL Comparison: Russell Wilson / SEA

5: Ryan Finley – NC State – 6’4/213

Grade: 77

Summary: Sixth year senior. Began his career at Boise State and had a career to forget there. After his redshirt season in 2013, Finley got a few starts in 2015 before breaking his ankle, forcing him to medically redshirt. He graduates in three years, which made the process of transferring to NC State simple. The three year starter for the Wolfpack put together three straight seasons of 60+% completion percentage and a 60:25 QB:INT ratio in the Wolfpack’s pro style offense. The two time All ACC quarterback had a span of 339 passes without an interception which approached Russell Wilsons school record 379 attempts, an FBS record. Finley is a smooth and under-control signal caller who makes good decisions in all situations. His body needs some more bulk to sustain NFL-caliber hits and he may lack the upside of a true starter, but he will be in the league a long time as a solid backup at least. He lacks the pop but can make up for it with intelligence and accuracy to a point. He will get a shot at some point in his career and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him succeed.

*Finley was my top senior prospect leading up to the 2018 season and finished #1 on #2 on that list. I trust this kid even though I will acknowledge his upside doesn’t approach the guys above. He has a lot of pro-caliber traits to his game, both on and off the field. He still has the high schooler-body and there seems to be something lacking with his twitch and explosion as a passer. He would greatly benefit from a situation like NY where he would fully take in the benefits from watching Eli Manning for a year or two while working on his strength and presence. Finley and the possibility of him being taken day 2 by NYG isn’t discussed enough, it is a real possibility.

NFL Comparison: Sam Bradford / FA

6: Jarrett Stidham – Auburn – 6’2/218

Grade: 75

Summary: Fourth year junior. Began his career at Baylor but left the school amid the school’s sexual assault scandal After skipping out on football for a year, Stidham took off once he earned the starting role at Auburn, earning SEC newcomer of the year in 2017. While he didn’t take off in year two, Stidham leaves school as a prospect who checks a lot of boxes and could have his best football ahead of him once he enters a pro offense. He throws a nice ball, plays with a good blend of athleticism and throwing ability, and is always a coach’s favorite. There seems to be a struggle when it comes to reading the entire field and making adjustments when his initial target isn’t there. Stidham will instill the belief he can be a starter in the league at moments but inconsistencies are all over the place.

*I wanted to like Stidham. I have heard great things about him from both in and out of his circle as a person and leader. You know he has the talent, as he’s been the favorite of many QB coaches and evaluators when it comes to workouts. However the tape just doesn’t match the expectations and I question if he has it. Another guy I am not touching until day 3, but I expect him to get drafted earlier.

NFL Comparison: Trevor Siemien / NYJ

7: Will Grier – West Virginia – 6’2/217

Grade: 74

Summary: Fifth year senior. The son of a coach, Grier began his career at Florida and lasted 2 years. He got on the field for 5 starts but had a couple run ins with the coaching staff and a suspension that stemmed from a performance-enhancing drug. He sat out 2016 so he could transfer to West Virginia where he started to reach the potential many saw in him as a highly touted recruit. Grier threw over 70 touchdowns and completed over 65% of his passes in the Mountaineers spread attack. The husband and father has some of the best highlight reel throws in the class but he proved to be overly dependent on space and timing. When his rhythm was thrown off and traffic approached his landing spots, Grier’s performance took a step backwards. The accuracy has been overblown, as he struggles to his points on the move. Grier still plays with a sense of entitlement via poor body language and repeatable mistakes. He projects as a backup at the next level.

*Another popular name connected to NYG if we are talking day 2 of the draft. Grier was a hot player in the fall but as the scouting process got deeper and deeper, too many boxes remained unchecked. I don’t see it with him. The arm talent is average, the dealings with pressure are average, his athleticism is average, and I don’t see a leader that elevates others. Grier has some body language issues that strengthen the notion that he is in his own world. I wouldn’t call him uncoachable by any means, but the debate is whether or not he’s worth even trying to work with is enough for me to pass on him unless we are talking day 3.

NFL Comparison: Kirk Cousins / MIN

8: Taylor Cornelius – Oklahoma State – 6’6/220

Grade: 74

Summary: Fifth year senior. The long time backup to record setting Mason Rudolph, Cornelius finally got his shot as a senior in 2018 and flashed enough to warrant day three consideration. The tall, wiry, strong armed signal caller has professional athlete bloodlines and high jump accolades dating back to high school. He is a very composed, even keel player who shows tremendous touch on his deep balls and more than enough zip throughout the intermediate route tree. A lack of experience and inconsistent accuracy are red flags, but to think of what this kid can evolve into once in an NFL system is worth the excitement. Day three project with starter upside.

*This kid was originally a walk on at Oklahoma State and won the starting job early over Mason Rudolph. However a change of heart in the 11th hour by the coaching staff put Rudolph atop the depth chart and we know what happened there. It’s hard not to think that could have been Cornelius and after that, it’s hard not to think Cornelius may be really undervalued. He has a lot of work ahead of him but he already proved he can be persistent and he has a lot of attractive tape.

NFL Comparison: Matt Schaub / ATL

9: Tyree Jackson – Buffalo – 6’7/249

Grade: 73

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Three year starter who missed some time in 2017 with a knee injury. The 2018 MAC Offensive Player of the Year, Jackson oozes talent and upside stemming from an enormous frame and elite-level arm. He has a knack for making the highlight reel throws on the move. The two way threat can handle a lot of contact as he plays strong and powerful. Coupling that with his big arm and the fact he is relatively raw compared to other quarterback prospects, Jackson is a day three target who teams will want to take a chance on. He has a lot to clean up when it comes to his long release and lack of lower body engagement. In addition, there will be an enormous learning curve, making Jackson a 2+ year project who teams need to be patient with.

*Those who were going gaga over Josh Allen at this time last year are going to like Jackson. He is similar in that he has a big time arm that is especially notable when he is on the move. Jackson is light years behind when it comes to reading defenses and trusting his mechanics. He is a pretty sloppy prospect who plays like he is in the school yard with a bunch of buddies. While the talent is there, it takes so much more to be a quarterback in this league and he really has a ways to do.

NFL Comparison: Paxton Lynch / SEA

10: Easton Stick – North Dakota State – 6’1/224

Grade: 72

Summary: Fifth year senior. Got his first exposure in 2015, filling in for an injured Carson Wentz, going 8-0 as the starter. As a redshirt sophomore in 2016, Stick was named a team captain. He won the national championship in 2017 and 2018, leading the way with a dual-attack approach and knack for making the big play in big moments. Stick is a little rough around the edges but he plays with swagger and grit. He has shown the ability to handle himself well against pressure, holding on to his mechanics and progressions. He will need time to adjust to the NFL but whoever gets this kid in their system will have a high upside player who has more potential than a lot, if not all of the other day 3 quarterbacks.

*Fans will like this kid a lot. He is a spark plug, an exciting, blue collar quarterback who can make a lot happen with his feet. While I do get nervous about guys who rely so much on their legs, Stick has shown enough on tape via his passing skill set to get him a backup spot somewhere in this league. I’m not sure I see a guy who will evolve enough, but having an athlete and competitor like this on the depth chart would be nice.

NFL Comparison: Drew Stanton / CLE

11: Gardner Minshew – Washington State – 6’1/225

Grade: 72

Summary: A former junior college national champion, Minshew transferred to East Carolina but never quite took grip of the full time starting gig. He did get some action via injuries to the guy in front of him and played pretty well. Washington State Head Coach and offensive guru Mike Leach took a liking to him and brought him in for a Gradate transfer year. It was the best thing that ever happened to Minshew, as he was won the Pac 12 Offensive Player of the Year award and was among the nation’s leaders in multiple passing categories. While statistics aren’t a great measureable coming from that offensive system, Minshew has something in him that is overly attractive. He has all the swagger and confidence that can make others better. Teammates and coaches at WSU loved him and I think there is a gamer in him that some don’t have. The talent is a little short, but I do think he has enough to get a shot at some point once he gets used to the NFL style.

*I would put it at under 10% odds that Minshew ends up being something in the NFL beyond a backup, but he has something that you don’t see often. The ideal blend of confidence and cockiness that doesn’t rub people the wrong way, but instead makes others better. He is the kind of guy who can make others better, plain and simple. There is a lot of contagious to him and if the talent can be enough and he works hard to clean up his game, he is the kind of backup who comes on the field halfway through a year and rejuvenates a club. Just not sure he can sustain long term success.

NFL Comparison: Case Keenum / WAS

12: Brett Rypien – Boise State – 6’2/210

Grade: 71

Summary: A four year starter and four time 1st Team All Mountain West Conference honoree. Ended his career winning the conference Player of the Year Award. Nephew to Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien. Rypien is a statistical compiler who did nothing but produce since the moment he stepped on the field. The debate on him will center around a lack of size, arm strength, and athletic ability. Mechanically and mentally, he has it. But the ceiling on him is capped.

*A lot of college fans like this kid a lot. He does look the part when he drops back and dishes the ball out, but he had it pretty easy in the MWC. He didn’t see a lot of pressure and the system he played in doesn’t necessarily translate to the league. I like him as a smooth and dependable backup with a lot of knowledge of the game, but I wouldn’t draft him with the mindset of him ever becoming more.

NFL Comparison: Brian Hoyer / NE

13: Trace McSorley – Penn State – 6’0/204

Grade: 70

Summary: Fifth year senior and a three time team captain for the storied program. McSorley is a gamer in every definition of the word who will lead his way into the discussion of a starting role at some point in his career. The size, arm strength, and overall style of play likely won’t fit in the league but he has made a habit out of proving people wrong. The winning attitude and approach does mean something in the grading process and while he has career backup written all over him, don’t completely count him out.

*Maybe it is the old school mentality I have, but despite the fact I have so many negatives from game notes and grades, I still consider this kid draftable late day 3. I don’t see a big time upside, but I do think he will have value in a QB room at the next level. He is a good team guy to have around and when it comes to the QB position, that is worth something. He had productive career too, so it’s not like we are talking about a stiff. He has talent, can make most of the throws too.

NFL Comparison: Taylor Heinicke / CAR

14: Clayton Thorson – Northwestern – 6’4/222

Grade: 70

Summary: Fifth year senior. Son of former Giants quarterback, Chad Thorson. Thorson tore his ACL late in 2017 but was back in time for the start of his senior year. The two time All Big 10 quarterback never had the sexy stats that some of the other prospects putout but the scheme he played in didn’t often give him the opportunity to air it out often. Thorson is a sneaky arm talent with enough foot speed to evade pressure un and out of the pocket. His experience and leadership will be a welcomed addition to any quarterback room but he won’t evolve into a starter.

*Not much to say or see here, except I think Thorson underachieved in 2018 because of the really quick ACL recovery and a lack of talent around him in addition to poor OL play. He is a better athlete than what we saw on tape and I like the maturity level. Carries himself well and plays really smart, but there is no starter upside.

NFL Comparison: Mason Rudolph / PIT

15: Jacob Dolegala – Central Connecticut – 6’6/240

Grade: 70

Summary: A three year starter who went under-recruited out of high school because of a shoulder injury. Dolegala was a relative unknown to many throughout the fall but he was on our list last August. The tools are there but his play at a low level of college football was far from dominant. He didn’t see many complex coverages but he still seemed to struggle when it came to multiple reads and progressions. But when this kid lines everything up, he can rifle it like a pro. Underrated athlete too who can take on contact with ease. Long term project but interesting tools.

*This is the kind of kid you draft late and try to hide on the practice squad but judging the amount of eyes that were on him at his Pro Day, you may have to keep him on the 53 to avoid someone grabbing him. Anyway, this is a shot in the dark based purely on tools but there isn’t anyone down this far on the list that has what he has.

NFL Comparison: Cardale Jones / LAC

Jake Browning – Washington – 6’2/211: 69

Eric Dungey – Syracuse – 6’3/222: 69

David Blough – Purdue – 6’’0/205: 69

Nick Fitzgerald – Mississippi State – 6’5/226: 69

Jordan Ta’amu – Ole Miss – 6’3/221

Kyle Shurmur – Vanderbilt – 6’4/230: 67

DrDrew Anderson – Murray State – 6’4/220: 66

Justice Hansen – Arkansas State – 6’4/218: 66

Kyle Kempt – Iowa State – 6’5/224: 66

Andrew Ford – Massachusetts – 6’3/210: 65

NYG APPROACH

Let me start off by saying 2 things. One, this QB class isn’t close to what the 2018 QB class was. Two, Josh Rosen is a couple tiers above all of these guys and as I said in February, I am willing to give up a 1st round pick for him if it came down to that. If WAS offered their 15th overall pick, can NYG maybe offer #6 and get back Rosen plus ARI #33 overall? I think it is a bargain to pay for a franchise QB. If you told me last year at this time that NYG could have Rosen AND Barkley AND 3 picks in the top 37 of the 2019 draft, I am not even thinking about it. That is a no brainer in my eyes.

As for this class, none of these guys should be in play at #6 in my opinion. I think Haskins and Jones stand out as the two guys I could see evolving into “franchise QBs” in the same sentence as someone like Mitch Trubisky, but we aren’t talking elite level guys. It really depends on what you want out of drafting a first round QB. DO you want someone who is simply “good enough” or do you want a guy who is going to take over games and be THE guy for a decade-plus? With where the Giants are now, I personally prefer to use the early picks on building a better team around Eli Manning and come back to the QB situation again in a year because I think you will always be able to find QB prospects with this kind of upside that Jones, Haskins, Lock…etc.

I will be the first to tell you Manning isn’t what he was. His feet are slowing down, his reaction times are slowing down, his arm is getting weaker. But this team can still win with him at the helm just as much as you can win with a fringe-first round talent youngster. A new face isn’t always a better face, remember that. There are red flags with each of the QB prospects in this class who could easily turn this offense into complete mush if they took over, and that wouldn’t even be until next year. Drafting a QB this year just for the sake of it is like covering a cut with a band aid when you really need to get stitches. It is a gamble that may, in the long run, make this awful run NYG is on even worse.

I would rather not see them use another mid round pick on a QB for the 3rd year in a row hoping to get lucky. Late day 3? Sure. But in 2017 NYG picked Davis Webb, I wanted them to choose DT Montavious Adams or CB Desmond King (an All Pro). In 2018 they picked Kyle Lauletta and I wanted them to choose Tyrell Crosby, a versatile backup OL. Point is, those selections are valuable.

If NYG loves one of these kids, then go for it. But not at 6. Draft an impact guy at 6 and trade up from 17 aggressively. Perhaps that is the thought in having 2 first rounders anyway. Time will tell.

Apr 222019
 
Share Button
Josh Jacobs, Alabama Crimson Tide (January 7, 2019)

Josh Jacobs – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2019 NFL Draft Preview: Running Backs

*Grading Scale:

90+: Elite, All Pro

85-89: Immediate starter, building block for a decade, franchise player

80-84: First round talent, starter and/or majority of the snaps each week

77-79: Day 2 pick, starter within their first 16-24 games as a pro

75-76: Fourth rounder, has starter traits but needs development

71-74: Fifth/Sixth rounder, should develop into weekly contributor over rookie contract

68-70: Draftable, hopeful for special teams impact and long term development

67 and under: UDFA

*NFL Comparison are not a projection of how good they are, more so their style of play.

RUNNING BACKS

WHERE THEY STAND

The Giants’ brass made the bold move to draft Saquon Barkley at #2 overall in 2019 over a few franchise quarterback. It is a move that will be under the microscope for years because of the fascination some have with the notion that running backs can’t be taken high because they aren’t that important. Well, Barkley ran away with the Rookie of the Year award after his NFL leading 2,028 total yards behind a terrible offensive line and next to a passing game that saw more than its fair share of struggles. Barkley is the real deal and will continue to be one of the best players in the NFL. Wayne Gallman is the team’s primary backup with the forgotten Paul Perkins and unknown Robert Martin peeking through the back of the depth chart. Elijhaa Penny offered solid fullback play and can bring something to the table as a ball carrier as well.

TOP 25

1: Josh Jacobs – Alabama – 5’10/220

Grade: 80

Summary: Junior entry. He forced his way into the rotation more and more as the 2018 season progressed. Jacobs brings an old-school approach to the game. In an era where the passing game and finesse style has become prominent, Jacobs has proven that the physical running game still trumps all. There is a no-nonsense style to his rushing plans in that he wants to get the ball and run over anyone who crosses his path. He plays like he has something personal against the defense and combining that with elite lower body strength and pop, it is a style that works. Jacobs rushed the ball just 251 times in his college career so while he does lack some experience, he pretty much enters the league with as much fuel in the tank as any running back in the class.

*You can view his lack of experience as a good thing if you like the fact he hasn’t been beat up as much or you can view it as a bad thing if you want to see a more proven skill set. I am going with the former, as I think Jacobs will enter the league as a physical downhill force who can make an impact right away. I don’t see an elite level back but there are several teams that could use this kind of presence in the backfield. I think someone takes him in round 1.

NFL Comparison: Jordan Howard / CHI

2: Damien Harris –Alabama – 5’10/216

Grade: 79

Summary: After the surprise decision to return for his senior season, Harris continued to show his NFL-ready, physical style that can keep the chains moving. While he lacks standout, top tier attributes within his game, Harris is as safe a pick as you will find in the 2019 Draft. His legs are bricks and his footwork more good enough to factor in space. He also showed more ability as a receiver in 2018 as the offense transformed to a more traditional passing attack in contrast to the previous two seasons. This is a week 1 contributor who will excel in power-back role but could end up being much more.

*This is a guy who you know can just get it done. Put him in any situation and you know what you will get. There are some slight delays and heavy movement within his game at times, but he doesn’t even need to be discussed that much. Get him in your rotation and you have a solid between the tackles back who will work hard, produce in spurts, and surprise you every now and then.

NFL Comparison: Jonathan Stewart / FA

3: Rodney Anderson – Oklahoma – 6’0/224

Grade: 79

Summary: Fourth year junior who has been through the ringer when it comes to injuries. Season enders to his leg, back, and knee have cut him short in 3 of his 4 years with the Sooners. The medicals with him could be the make or break when it comes to the final grade. On the field, Anderson is as impactful as any running back in the class. He has the kind of lower body ease and fluidity paired with a nice burst and long speed that can take a small window into a huge gain. Anderson moves exceptionally well and the fact he does it at 220+ pounds with excellent vision and feel make him a very attractive prospect. If the health stays on the positive side, Anderson could be one of the best players in this class a few years from now.

*One of the biggest injury risks in the draft, I won’t deny that. I did factor that into my grade and if he had a complete clean bill of health, we are talking about a top 10 overall player, as I think he does have that kind of ability. Anderson moves exceptionally well for a back with his size and there is a natural ability to find lanes and creases. I love his game but there is no denying his risky, to be kind, injury history.

NFL Comparison: Darrell Williams / KC

4: David Montgomery – Iowa State – 5’10/222

Grade: 78

Summary: Junior entry. A two-plus year starter who ended up on the All-Big 12 squad in both 2017 and 2018. Montgomery lacks some of the sexy highlights that some other running backs can put on display, but make no mistake about his final grade. He is a chains mover who constantly breaks through initial contact and picks up plenty of yards after contact with a running style that breeds contact balance and vision. His hands are a weapon and as long as he can improve his blocking presence, he has every-down starter written all over him. Never a star, but certainly a safe and reliable back you should not sleep on.

*In a complimentary fashion, Montgomery reminds me of a poor man’s Saquon. He doesn’t have anything near the tools Barkley has, but the way he can see things, change direction, and burst from a small position gets him a lot of extra yards. Montgomery is a tough dude too, one who will always fall forward and stay hungry to make things happen. Starting caliber back.

NFL Comparison: Mark Ingram / BAL

5: Trayveon Willians – Texas A&M – 5’8/206

Grade: 77

Summary: Junior entry. After two solid years for the Aggies where he led the team in rushing both times, Williams broke on to the national scene in 2018. The 1st Team All SEC running back led the conference in rushing while setting a school-single season rushing record. The big play back brings the kind of excitement and big play potential to the field the second he steps foot on it. Despite being on the small side, Williams is very effective in both space and traffic. He can see the field and make fast decisions, sneaking by defenders and wiggling his way into the open field. Once there, he can take it the house every time. While he isn’t the every down franchise back, Williams is a weapon right away that can change an offense.

*This kid is a gamer. He plays with the kind of attitude I want out of a back when it comes to hunger, desire, and hustle. He runs bigger than his listed size and even though I don’t see him as a 20+ touch per game guy, he would be a nice compliment to a backfield that needs spark. Impressed in interviews as well, although his workouts left a little to be desired. Really could see him in round 2 and round 5 based on what teams want.

NFL Comparison: Nyheim Hines / IND

6: Bryce Love – Stanford – 5’9/200

Grade: 75

Summary: After sitting behind Christian McCaffrey for 2 years, Love broke out in 2017 with a 2,000+ yard season, winning the Doak Walker Award. He opted to return for his senior season to finish his degree, which may help him with life after football, but on the field it did not. For the second straight year he fought through nagging ankle injuries before ultimately tearing his ACL late in the season. His pre-draft process is all about rehab rather than displaying his sub 4.4 speed. The recovery is key to his grade but even if he gets the green light, teams will have to be worried about a 200 pound back in the NFL. His best fit would be in an offense where is a package player early on, not a focal point.

*Love could have come out last year and been, at worst, a top 75 pick. Now that he went through another year if lower body injuries including the torn ACL late, Love is in the day 3 discussion. He could be one of the steals of the entire class if he can get and stay healthy but that appears to be a big if. Love runs bigger than his size and the stutter step-to explosion is top tier. He has a way of missing contact which is fun to watch. If a team wants to take a chance day 3, the dividends could be enormous.

NFL Comparison: James White / NE

7: Miles Sanders – Penn State – 5’11/211

Grade: 76

Summary: Junior entry. Former top high school recruit got stuck behind Saquon Barkley for two years. In his lone season as the guy, Sanders responded with a 2nd Team All Big 10 performance and replicated a version of Barkley at times. With excellent vision and versatility, Sanders can be a weapon in any role. The underrated power runner can consistently fall forward as well as break through initial contact to create on his own. His ability as a receiver far outweighs his impact as a blocker and he can be a weapon within a committee approach right away. Lacking star power, Sanders is a sure bet to be a contributor for awhile.

*There are some out there who think Sanders is the top back in this class. While I did like him early and projected him as a day 2 pick throughout the fall, I’m not as sold on him being more than a solid rotational guy. The ball security issues with him are bad and if they show up in training camp and preseason, that will be the quickest and most direct route to the bench.

NFL Comparison: Tevin Coleman / SF

8: Qadree Ollison – Pittsburgh – 6’0/228

Grade: 76

Summary: Fifth year senior. Ollison has had a back and forth career when it comes to both playing time and production. In a backfield that had a lot of changes via the James Conner situation early in his career, Ollison showed promise right away, winning ACC Rookie of the Year in 2015. Even though his role and playing time lacked consistency, Ollison is one of the more intriguing height/weight/speed backs in this class. In addition, he is more than just an athlete. His vision and short area burst combined with powerful downhill steam make him a dangerous back if he is thrown into the right situation. The versatile back enters the league with a good amount of tread left and could be one of the breakout performers early in his career.

*Ollison had a weird career and there may be a lot of untapped upside here. The whole James Conner situation through off the start of his career and Pitt was hell-bent on running the 2 back system n 2018. If Ollison had been in the right situation with the full slate of carries with a better program, we may be talking about a 2nd rounder. High upside guy here and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him as the top back in this class 3-4 years from now.

NFL Comparison: Todd Gurley / LAR

9: Alexander Mattison – Boise State – 5’11/221

Grade: 76

Summary: Junior entry from San Bernardino, California. Two year starter who was Honorable Mention All MWC in 2017 and first team in 2018. Mattison is an every down back who can help a team in several ways. He excels between the tackles and also carries standout blocking traits. His ability to naturally catch the ball and move north right away adds yet another dimension to his game that can keep him on the field at all times. The upside has a cap on it, but this kind of back is as safe a pick as a team can make especially in the late day 2, early day 3 area.

*Nothing stands out about this kid’s athletic ability but he is just so solid on all levels and if I had to pick one back in this class to pass protect, it is him. Now I know you aren’t gonna draft a kid based on that, but we’ve seen a lack of blocking really hurt young backs and their offenses. Mattison is better between the tackles than you think and could be an immediate guy right away.

NFL Comparison: Isaiah Crowell / OAK

10: Tony Pollard – Memphis – 6’0/210

Grade: 76

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. AAC Special Teams Player of the year in 2016 and 2017. Pollard had 7 career kickoff return touchdowns, an all time FBS record. While he made his name on special teams, Pollard proved that he can factor on offense in a variety of ways as well. He does a lot of little things right and constantly passed test after test as his role with the Tigers expanded. He is a jack-of-all-trades type who can fill multiple roles with one roster spot.

*When initially looking at this kid’s college career, you may be under the assumption I view him as a returner. To be honest, I barely accounted for his 7 return touchdowns and overall production throughout the process. I really like the versatility he can bring to an offense in all situations, he just needs the right offensive mind running the show.

NFL Comparison: Ty Montgomery / NYJ

11: Benny Snell – Kentucky – 5’10/224

Grade: 76

Summary: Junior entry with NFL lineage. Son and nephew to former NFL running backs. After his Freshman All American season in 2016, Snell went on to earn 1st Team All SEC honors in 2017 and 2018, leaving Kentucky as the program’s all time leading rusher. Snell has a lot to be impressed by on paper when it comes to production and consistency, but there are athletic holes in his game that can prevent his power running style to become a consistent presence in the NFL. He is an old fashioned, between the tackles back who can find a role and be reliable, but don’t expect much more.

*Don’t underestimate running backs who play with a high level of hustle and hunger. Snell may lack some of the twitch I like out of RBs, but he is a guy who consistently gets the most out of his touches and will impose that will on tacklers. He would be a nice guy to have on your team if you are looking for between the tackles production and a change of pace from a space-dependent back.

NFL Comparison: Jamaal Williams / GB

12: Alex Barnes – Kansas State – 6’0/226

Grade: 74

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. A 2nd Team All Big 12 back in 2018 who was the team’s focal point out of the backfield in Kansas State’s run-heavy offense. Barnes may not jump off the screen when it comes to versatility and dynamic playmaking ability, but the ultra-violent and powerful back can elevate the physical style of an offense right away. He carries 225+ pounds with ease and loves to bring the heat when his hands are on the ball. With an effective run blocking line, Barnes can be an excellent short yardage back who will provide good blocking and special teams play.

*This kid tested off the charts on some physical evaluation grading systems. It made a lot of scouts go re-check his tape and there are traits that are nice to see. If you want a short yardage back who essentially doesn’t really look where he is going but just explodes into the traffic and falls forward, Barnes is your guy. I don’t see every down duty but he can be a really effective role player.

NFL Comparison: Peyton Barber / TB

13: Darrell Henderson – Memphis – 5’8/208

Grade: 74

Summary: Junior entry. First Team All American in 2018 after he averaged nearly 9 yards per carry. A big play back in every sense of the term who scored 11 touchdowns from 50+ yards out in 2018 alone. Henderson is an all or nothing type player who doesn’t exactly have elite speed or agility, but he is a quick-reaction type mover who plays with hunger and desire. He is a smart runner that understands situations, not just a back that is always looking for the home run. While the stats may have been inflated from poor defensive play by the opponents, Henderson can’t be ignored. There is a natural feel and knack for finding space that will translate at the next level, albeit he won’t be an every down player.

*Hard to ignore the production here. I mean, 9 yards per carry in an FBS conference? Like I said before, you have to consider some of his opponents but he did play well against some of the better teams on their schedule too. Henderson shows vision and easy change of direction. While he won’t break tackles in the NFL routinely, there are traits to his game that will create big plays. I suspect he will go higher than where I have him.

NFL Comparison: Devonta Freeman / ATL

14: Mike Weber – Ohio State – 5’10/211

Grade: 74

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Winner of the Big 10 Freshman of the Year Award in 2016 and Honorable Mention All Big 12 in 2018. Weber is a plain, but effective back who can bring a physical presence to the backfield. He excels between the tackles and could be the ideal compliment to a team that already has speed and space-dependent backs on their depth chart. His ceiling may be limited, but a team will know exactly what they have in him.

*A no-nonsense runner and professional off the field, Weber is one of those day 3 backs who will earn his way into a rotation in year one. I’m not sure I see the very down back in him but he is a safe, reliable guy.

NFL Comparison: Lamar Miller / HOU

15: Justice Hill – Oklahoma State – 5’10/198

Grade: 74

Summary Junior entry. After a freshman season that ranked as one of the best in school history, Hill was a 1st Team All Big 12 back in 2017 after leading the conference in rushing. He was a name to watch as a junior, but nagging injuries and the emergence of James Conner-clone Chuba Hubbard, Hill didn’t have the season many were hoping for. However when looking at traits and what he can do for an offense that provides space, Hill is dangerous. He can explode and dart away from defenders but he can’t be the sole focus in a backfield, as the body just isn’t there. Complimentary back who will be a big play asset.

*If you watched Hill play early in his career, you would have made the assumption he was an eventual first round pick. The fear with him resides around durability within his sub-200 pound frame, not a common size for NFL backs. His straight line burst and speed in pads make him a big play threat, but he doesn’t show enough shake to prevent a lot of contact by defenders. The plan needs to be to limit his touches but the ceiling is high when it comes to potential impact.

NFL Comparison: Dion Lewis / TEN

16: Ryquell Armstead – Temple – 5’11/220: 74

17: Jordan Ellis – Virginia – 5’10/224: 74

18: Devine Ozigbo – Nebraska – 5’11/233: 73

19: Elijah Holyfield – Georgia – 5’10/217: 72

20: Reggie Gallaspy – 5’11/235: 72

21: Devin Singletary – Florida Atlantic – 5’7/203: 71

22: Karon Higdon – Michigan – 5’9/206: 71

23: DJ Knox – Purdue – 5’7/211: 71

24: Jordan Scarlett – Florida – 5’11/208: 69

25: AJ Oullette – Ohio – 5’10/209: 70: 69

**TOP UDFA SLEEPER**

Jalin Moore – Appalachian State – 5’10/212

Fifth year senior who finished as the 1st Team All Sun Belt Conference running back in both 2016 and 2017. A nasty, borderline horrific leg and ankle injury cut his 2018 short in October. There were talks about that injury being a career ender but he has recovered and shown enough in workouts in recent weeks to give the idea he will make a near-full recovery. Moore is a really well built, really strong, really decisive runner who can make something out of nothing. And my trend with RBs who I like is how hard they play, and Moore plays with the energizer bunny mentality. There will be some teams that think twice about the ankle/leg, but he is worth the gamble as a priority UDFA.

NYG APPROACH

It may be crazy to think about adding a running back the year after spending #2 overall on one in addition to the fact they have a solid backup in Gallman. I think there needs to be a discussion about a power/short yardage back though, more specifically towards the end of the draft where there will likely be a value available. The only reason I like the idea is if you want to keep Barkley as fresh as possible for as long as possible from both a macro and micro perspective, having him avoid the hits in a lot of traffic on short yardage situations could be a huge help. You don’t want to take the space-touches away from him and you want him catching a lot of balls, but if there is a spot to save him a bit, it would be on the 2nd and 2, 3rd and 1 situations during the middle of the game. In addition, if this team is truly going to be a run-based offense, depth is important. Gallman is solid, but it would be smart to get another body in there just in case.

Apr 202019
 
Share Button
A.J. Brown, Mississippi Rebels (November 22, 2018)

A.J. Brown – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2019 NFL Draft Preview: Wide Receivers

*Grading Scale:

90+: Elite, All Pro

85-89: Immediate starter, building block for a decade, franchise player

80-84: First round talent, starter and/or majority of the snaps each week

77-79: Day 2 pick, starter within their first 16-24 games as a pro

75-76: Fourth rounder, has starter traits but needs development

71-74: Fifth/Sixth rounder, should develop into weekly contributor over rookie contract

68-70: Draftable, hopeful for special teams impact and long term development

67 and under: UDFA

*NFL Comparison are not a projection of how good they are, more so their style of play.

WIDE RECEIVERS

WHERE THEY STAND

Put me in the crowd of onlookers who are completely shocked Odell Beckham won’t be wearing the NY uniform in 2019. Golden Tate and the newly -xtended Sterling Shepard will see the majority of the team’s WR snaps with Evan Engram sure to see some action out there as well. Beyond them they have a handful of roster hopefuls and/or guys who are best used for depth, not a serious amount of snaps. Bennie Fowler, Corey Coleman, Cody Latimer, Alonzo Russell, Russell Shepard, and Jawill Davis aren’t exactly fear-inducing pass catchers.

TOP 25

1: AJ Brown – Ole Miss – 6’0/226

Grade: 82

Summary: Junior entry. First team All SEC and Third Team All American. Drafted out of high school by the San Diego Padres and he has not completely thrown the idea out of pursuing professional baseball at some point. Not a traditional receiver by any means, Brown brings some extra size and strength to the position that can create major issues for defensive backs, in particular those who play the slot. His physical style and reliable hands to go with dangerous after-catch ability will be a tough matchup in the middle of the field. His toughness and grit can at least somewhat hide a lack of top end speed and burst. While his game may be limited when it comes to vertical speed and burst, his impact on short and intermediate routes will be force with the right quarterback.

*I don’t see the fit with NYG because I think Brown is best suited for the slot where his plus-size and toughness can really factor. But he still enters the draft as my top overall WR in a group that is very deep but a little light at the top. In a league where tackling seems optional at times, Brown is the kind of bruiser who will create a ton after the catch. A really good route runner with the intelligence who can take it to the next level will be a stud if he can get paired with the right QB.

NFL Comparison: JuJu Smith-Schuster / PIT

2: N’Keal Harry – Arizona State – 6’2/228

Grade: 81

Summary: Junior entry. Two time First Team All Pac 12 in which he caught 155 passes for 2,230 yards and 17 touchdowns on team that struggled to produce solid secondary targets. An all around, every-down difference maker who has enough explosion and agility to get enough space underneath. A force when the ball is in the air with his combination of power, strength, and size. Harry has the developed NFL body that will be tough for most defensive backs to hang with physically and more than enough athleticism to make plays after the catch. He has number one receiver written all over him.

*Harry was the top WR on my board last summer and he pretty much stayed there all season. Him and Brown are close enough to really label them 1A and 1B. One thing that worries me about Harry, though, is the lack of separation he can generate via route running and short area burst. That has made things very difficult for past prospects I have graded well with a similar skill set. But his competitiveness, toughness, and ability after the catch (which is very overlooked), can hide those issues a bit. He is a very healthy and twitchy 230 pounds, not something that may pro WRs can say.

NFL Comparison: Demaryius Thomas / NE

3: JJ Arcega-Whiteside – Stanford – 6’2/225

Grade: 80

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Son two professional European basketball players and has an accomplished background on the hardwood himself. After a breakout, 1st Team All Pac 12 season in 2018, Arcega-Whiteside vaulted into near-1st round consideration. He is a potentially dominant possession receiver who does not need to be open in order to be thrown the ball with confidence because of his plus-ability to gain the positional advantage over the cover man. He showed, over and over, both mental and physical prowess over defensive backs all year in traffic. While his speed and burst can be questioned, there is so much he can bring to the table. NFL ready right now.

*Another thicker-than-normal receiver with excellent ball skills and the competitive spirit you want out of a possession guy. Arecega-Whiteside caught my eye early in the year because of his skill set as a route runner and pass catcher. The more I saw, the more I realized his athletic ability was upper tier as well. The way he can plant his foot and burst through a window can be utilized exceptionally well in a quick passing attack. I don’t see a number one wideout here, but I do see a guy who is under appreciated around the league but whoever has him knows how valuable he really is.

NFL Comparison: Keenan Allen / LAC

4: Paris Campbell – Ohio State – 6’0/205

Grade: 78

Summary: After a very successful high school track career, Campbell arrived at Ohio State and had to wait awhile before he made a big impact on offense. He turned from athlete to football player and ended his career with two straight All-Big 10 seasons, 2018 being a 1st Team honor. The team captain showed glimpses of elite, game breaking talent who is based on speed and easy movement. He is one of those players who is simply playing at a different speed than his opponents, no matter who is on the field. He still has some rawness to his game but receivers in the Ohio State offense don’t always get the full opportunity to show what they can really do. There is a boom or bust label next to Campbell’s name, but at the very least he will be a dangerous return man and gimmick-player who opposing defenses do not want to deal with.

*I was recently told by someone I trust that Campbell is “definitely” going to be the first WR taken. The NFL loves his skill set and top tier explosion. Campbell has the look of a star but there are a couple things missing for me. First, I think he lacks some of the toughness that is required to be an effective slot and there is an inconsistent attention to detail that isn’t always needed in the OSU offense. Upside is undeniable and I do think he will make plays, but I wouldn’t want him to be my number one guy.

NFL Comparison: Michael Gallup / DAL

5: Darius Slayton – Auburn – 6’1/190

Grade: 79

Summary: 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.

NFL Comparison: Ted Ginn / NO

6: David Sills – West Virginia – 6’3/211

Grade: 79

Summary: Fifth year senior who had two different stints at West Virginia. After a highly-touted high school career at quarterback, Sills was put into the WR rotation in 2015 but left the program to pursue his QB career at junior college. Ultimately he realized his NFL future was solely at WR, thus he returned to the Mountaineers and put together two straight All American seasons. In West Virginia’s high-power spread attack, Sills was a touchdown machine who pushed 50/50 balls to 70/30 balls in his favor. 33 touchdowns over those two years were among the many highlights he has on tape. Sills lacks some important athletic and measurable testing numbers, but there is no denying how special his ball skills and awareness levels are. Pair him with an accurate thrower and Sills will be producing at a high level, but he is just a step shy of being a number one.

*I am a tad higher on Sills than the market, I think. He will have a hard time getting open via athletic ability but he is so savvy, so coordinated that I trust him as much as anyone in traffic. The internal debate I have with him centers around how physical he is. Does he have some dog on him? Or does the body type and lack of strength make him hesitant when an NFL safety is coming at him? Little bit of a boom or bust because I think he needs a specific quarterback throwing him the ball.

NFL Comparison: Tyrell Williams / OAK

7: Riley Ridley – Georgia – 6’1/199

Grade: 78

Summary: Junior entry. Brother to Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley. A two year starter for the Bulldogs, Ridley is a bit of an unknown as he enters the league. He was the top pass catcher albeit in a run first, run second, pass third offense. There are a few constants to his game that will translate to the NFL very well. One, he is a pro-caliber route runner who shows the understanding of the subtle but vital nuances. And second, his ball skills are near-top tier which can somewhat hide his lackluster movement tools. He won’t burn by anyone and may struggle to consistently create space between him and the defender underneath, but he is a safe bet to at least be a reliable possession receiver.

*Ridley is a different kind of receiver than his brother but they both ran routes like pros in college and they both attacked the ball with their hands. I like Riley with the ball in his hands a bit more, though. He has some running back caliber traits and toughness and I’m not sure there is a more competitive blocker in this group.

NFL Comparison: Tyler Boyd / CIN

8: DK Metcalf – Ole Miss – 6’3/228

Grade: 78

Summary: Third year sophomore entry. His 2016 season was cut short after just 2 games due to a broken foot and also missed the final 5 games of 2018 with a serious neck injury. That only leaves 2017 as his lone full season. The lack of experience is evident on tape and despite the rare combination of size and speed, Metcalf is rough around the edges. There isn’t a lot of cleanliness to his game, although his potential will be hard to ignore for long. Vertical threats like this don’t come around often and he does have impressive showings against multiple SEC schools. Boom or bust.

*Don’t mistake the #8 rank at the position for a label that I don’t like Metcalf. I was actually touting this kid back in September but the neck injury brought him down from an 80+ because even though some are giving him a clean bill of health, I know some have taken him off the board because of it. So there is something going on there. Anyway, Metcalf has some Terrell Owens in him. If he works hard at improving within the subtle areas of the game, he can be one of the top deep threats in the NFL right away. I just don’t use a 1st round pick on someone like this although I bet someone does.

NFL Comparison: Terrell Owens / RET

9: Deebo Samuel – South Carolina – 5’11/214

Grade: 78

Summary: After an early career that was marred by injuries (hamstring and broken leg), Samuel finally put together a full year in 2018, earning 1st Team All SEC honors. The very non-traditional receiver has shown the ability to use his thickness and strength as an asset while hiding them as a liability. Samuel plays a strong, blue collar game that shows up when it matters most. While his movement isn’t anything that will scare defenders and put them on their heels, Samuel understands how to get open and he will not be deterred by contact in traffic. He would be a different kind of slot receiver but much like Hines Ward, one who can get things done at a high level for a long time.

*The name Hines Ward that I used in the report-summary keeps popping up in my head when I watch this kid. Ward had a very good career for a few really good Steelers’ teams but I think they are both players that you can rightfully question, do they need the right situation? Throw in the fact that he has had multiple issues staying healthy and I had to keep him as a day 2 pick. I like Samuel’s game, but I think you can find a guy this good any year and I don’t see a 1st round grade.

NFL Comparison: Golden Tate / NYG

10: Hakeem Butler – Iowa State – 6’5/227

Grade: 77

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. A two year factor for the Iowa State offense, finishing Honorable Mention All Big 12 in 2017 and 2nd team in 2018. Butler set a school record for receiving yards this past season and showed several flashes of being a truly dominant player. They don’t come bigger than Butler, measuring in on the elite side across the board. He almost always has the advantage in 50/50 situations and a quarterback won’t ever be afraid to loft it up his way near the red zone. His issues revolve around attention to detail and effort, however. The question can be asked, does he truly care? Will he work hard? The tools are undeniable but that isn’t enough. Pre-draft interviews and his willingness to work are crucial.

*Butler’s public grade seems to be getting higher and higher as the game tapes get further and further from us. That is always a red flag to me. While his size is overly impressive, I can’t come away with the thought that it should be overshadowing his lack of consistency as a pass catcher and attention to detail. There are some ego problems here as well that make me keep him towards the back end of day 2 although I can see him going at the top of round 2.

NFL Comparison: Kenny Golladay / DET

11: Gary Jennings – West Virginia – 6’1/214

Grade: 77

Summary: Two year starter from Stafford, Virginia. Honorable Mention All Big 12 in 2018, 2nd Team in 2017. Jennings is an overlooked player in West Virginia’s high octane offense but he has a chance at being the top pro from this program in a long time. Jennings brings a solid combination of size, speed, and football awareness to the table that can be molded into a versatile every down threat at the next level. His playing speed outweighs his impressive timed speed and the ability to process information quickly can make him seem even more explosive. Jennings will need to clean up his routes and get his hands stronger, but there is an upside here that most receivers in the class cannot touch.

*I know a couple guys who I really respect that say Jennings is a borderline 1st rounder and could be the top value pick at the position in the entire class. His game wasn’t very versatile at West Virginia but that had a lot to do with the scheme more than his skill set. There is more speed here than people think and he can play outside and inside. He will likely need time to adjust more so than others, but someone may be able to get a very good #2 here towards the end of day 3.

NFL Comparison: Kenny Stills / MIA

12: Jamal Custis – Syracuse – 6’4/214

Grade: 77

Summary: Fifth year senior who was an afterthought coming into 2018. Custis entered his fifth year with 13 career receptions and a few durability issues. However a 2nd Team All ACC year with a lot of flashy tape put him right into day 2 talk. Custis is a big, physical, commanding pass catcher who started to show his true colors and the best is yet to come. His size and strength is a tough matchup for anyone who takes on the task of covering him. The ball skills and route running still have a little ways to go but he has shown enough in combination with his top tier tool set to give star-receiver thoughts when it comes to his potential.

*I am much higher on Custis than what I have seen out there, but I believe in the skill set and his mindset is in the right place. I do get nervous about a 1 year contributor, so there is a lot of risk here, but he is a guy who has the look of a better NFL player than college player. Those who love to tout Hakeem Butler as a big time prospect have to acknowledge the fact Custis has an awfully similar combination of tools and skills.

NFL Comparison: Devin Funchess / IND

13: Dillon Mitchell – Oregon – 6’1/197

Grade: 76

Summary: Junior entry. Broke out in 2018 with a school record 1,184 yards as he was the team’s top deep and intermediate target. Mitchell is a polarizing player because he flashes elite playmaking ability paired with above average long speed, however he has attitude problems and his work ethic isn’t anything to brag about. He is on the wrong side of the line between swagger and selfish, but if a team can get him focused on cleaning up the weaknesses in his game, he has an upside that most simply do not.

*I have a few games notes from earlier in the season where I wrote “Odell” under this kid’s name. Maybe not the same level of explosion and burst, but Mitchell showed similar movement patterns and ball skills in addition to the ability to find yards after the catch. While he didn’t quite reach that level overall when it came to the final scouting process, there is still a lot of excitement within his game. He needs extra screening though, as I had a near-first round grade on him but the character issues bumped him down quite a bit.

NFL Comparison: Robert Woods / LAR

14: Preston Williams – Colorado State – 6’4/211

Grade: 76

Summary: After two quiet years at Tennessee, Williams transferred to Colorado State and fell into trouble away from the field with a domestic violence incident. After being suspended and reinstated, Williams finally found his flow in 2018 and left an impression that left coaches saying he was the most talented receiver they have ever been around. Williams, also an accomplished triple jump track athlete, has a very unique blend of size, foot quickness, and ball skills. There simply aren’t many pass catchers who possess this combination of tools and skills. On a weekly basis, Williams would make multiple eye opening impressions with difficult catches made easy, route running, and body control. If he is and can stay clean off the field, he has star-potential.

*Similar to my top WR in last year’s class Michael Gallup, Williams comes into the league from the Colorado State program with off-field questions but enormous talent. Williams’ issues are bit more serious, however and he also didn’t impress in workouts. All things considered, Williams is worth a day 3 gamble because he has multiple flashes where he looks like an elite-ball skill guy who can get vertical as well as catch the ball in traffic. Love this kid’s upside but where you take him needs to be very calculated.

NFL Comparison: Mike Williams / LAC

15: Ashton Dulin – Malone – 6’1/215

Grade: 76

Summary: Three year starter from Reynoldsburg, Ohio. Chose the Malone program over Division I offers so he could play football and run track. A school-record setter in the 60 M, 200 M, and 60 M hurdles. Left the GMAC as record holder in 5 outdoor track events. 2018 GMAC Offensive Back and Special Teams Player of the Year. Dulin is a ball of clay who a team will want to mold for a couple years. If done correctly, the ceiling with him can rival a few of the best receivers in the class in addition to making impact in the return game. He is a big, strong, fast competitor who is more than just an athlete. Dulin is a football player in ever sense of the word who could be one of the best day 3 picks in the draft.

*Dulin is my favorite small school prospect at the position. He will need time, probably more than a year, but the tools and flashes he has shown can be molded in a legit #1 receiver in this league. He checks all the boxes physically and I’ve been told his workout/interview process was among the best in the class.

NFL Comparison: Davante Adams / GB

16: Xavier Ubosi – UAB – 6’3/215: 76
17: Terry Godwin – Georgia – 5’11/184: 76
18: Demarkus Lodge – Ole Miss – 6’2/202: 76
19: Anthony Johnson – Buffalo – 6’2/209: 76
20: Andrew Isabella – Massachusetts – 5’9/188: 75
21: Stanley Morgan – Nebraska – 6’0/202: 75
22: Hunter Renfrow – Clemson – 5’10/184: 75
23: Kelvin Harmon – NC State – 6’2/221: 75
24: Marquis Brown – Oklahoma – 5’9/166: 74
25: Miles Boykin – Notre Dame – 6’4/220: 74

**TOP UDFA SLEEPER**

AJ Richardson – Boise State – 6’0/212

Fifth year senior who has been the #2 guy in that Boise State passing offense for 2 years. Lacking in some ideal tools, Richardson has some of the strongest hands in the class and it is amazing how many balls he comes away with in traffic. I love the late hands and ability to adjust. He is the kind of WR I point to when discussing the importance of ball skills over speed and size. The WR’s job is to catch balls, and he does it as well as anyone in the class. I see a 1-2 year project and a guy who could eventually be on the same level as a Deebo Samuel.

NYG APPROACH

Before I go into how I think NYG should handle the WR position in this draft, know that this is the DEEPEST group of pass catchers I have ever seen by a wide margin. I almost posted by next 15 grades because I have 40+ who have a top 5 round grade. With that said, there will be enormous value available late day 3 and after the draft concludes. The Giants are not overly deep or very top heavy at the position, but also remember they have a plus-target at tight end and a major-plus target at running back. Would it be nice to grab one of these oversized targets in the first 3-4 rounds? Sure. But considering the holes on this team, the style they plan on playing to, and the fact there WILL BE value drops available at the end of day, I think they need to resist the urge. Wait until rounds 6 and 7 to address this spot.

Apr 192019
 
Share Button
T.J. Hockenson, Iowa Hawkeyes (January 1, 2019)

T.J. Hockenson – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2019 NFL Draft Preview: Tight Ends

*Grading Scale:

90+: Elite, All Pro

85-89: Immediate starter, building block for a decade, franchise player

80-84: First round talent, starter and/or majority of the snaps each week

77-79: Day 2 pick, starter within their first 16-24 games as a pro

75-76: Fourth rounder, has starter traits but needs development

71-74: Fifth/Sixth rounder, should develop into weekly contributor over rookie contract

68-70: Draftable, hopeful for special teams impact and long term development

67 and under: UDFA

*NFL Comparison are not a projection of how good they are, more so their style of play.

TIGHT END

WHERE THEY STAND

The Giants offense is leaning towards a run-heavy attack with a quick strike passing game. Their QB’s arm is declining year by year and he can’t evade in the slightest form of pressure, their top deep threat is off the team, and the front office traded resources to beef up the offensive line. I talk about this because Evan Engram, as much as he has flashed and as athletic as he is, may not be the fit this personnel grouping needs. He is a below average blocker in the trenches and unless the team plans on using more two tight end sets and/or splitting Engram out as a WR, his days here may be numbered. Rhett Ellison and Scott Simonson both fit the bill more so but neither are anything to write home about. While NYG can survive with these three, I’m not sure they are ideal fits.

TOP 20

1: TJ Hockenson – Iowa – 6’5/251

Grade: 81

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. A steady piece of the two-tight end rotation the Iowa offense employed throughout his career. Broke out in a big way in 2018, winning the Mackey Award despite sharing snaps and looks with fellow Hawkeye tight end prospect Noah Fant. Hockenson is a throw back, hard-nosed player who has unusual short-area quickness and reliable ball skills for a player his size. He still has a ways to go when it comes to physical development and blocking presence, but the body type and mindset are both there. In time, Hockenson can be a solid every down player and starter with the ceiling of being a matchup nightmare.

*If there is one tight end I would be looking at in the first round, at 17-not 6, it is Hockenson. He is a true every down trench player who is athletic and effective enough in the passing game. While I do think some have gotten carried away with touting his blocking and athletic ability, he is on the plus-side in both departments. If NYG really did want to go with a two tight end offense to fit their approach, Hockenson does make sense but a case could be made it is still a reach at 17.

NFL Comparison: Greg Olsen / CAR

2: Dawson Knox – Ole Miss – 6’4/254

Grade: 79

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. A former high school receiver and quarterback who was a highly touted track athlete. Knox will “wow” many in workouts with top tier explosion and speed at his size, but still has a little ways to go when it comes to the football skill set. Knox didn’t get a lot of looks in the loaded Ole Miss passing attack but when he did, he often delivered. The former walk on has a grinder-mentality that, matched with his natural ability and improving techniques, can be molded into a difference maker at the next level.

*If it is determined that the two TE offense is the way to go but the agreement in the room says Hockenson isn’t worth pick 17, Knox is a very solid fall back option who doesn’t get a ton of attention from the media. But from what I see, he is the kind of kid teams want to develop. Talent is there and the dude plays hard, really hard. Not hard to believe he just didn’t get to show the world what he can do playing in that WR-heavy offense at Ole Miss.

NFL Comparison: David Njoku / CLE

3: Noah Fant – Iowa – 6’4/249

Grade: 77

Summary: Junior entry. First team All Big 10 in 2018. Burst on to the scene in 2017 with 11 touchdowns and 16+ yards per catch, both school records for the tight end position. Fant continued his progression in 2018 despite the ball being spread around even sharing duties with fellow position-group teammate and NFL Draft prospect TJ Hockenson. Fant is the kind of athlete who will cause the opposition to game plan around him. His blend of size, speed, and ball skills are near-impossible to stop with one player alone. He still plays and comes across raw at times, but he has shown enough in two years to, at the very least, be dangerous threat in the passing game. His ceiling is as high as any pass catcher in the class.

*Fant was the flavor of the fall but when I really dove into his game from a big picture perspective, there are multiple holes. As good of an athlete as he is, and we are talking elite, Fant doesn’t make much happen without space. He doesn’t cut well, he doesn’t break tackles. Blocking, well you are drafting him to block. A team that wants a mismatch in the passing game but shortcomings elsewhere can value him higher than where I do, but I see an end of day 2 type guy. I think someone takes him top 15 though.

NFL Comparison: Eric Ebron / IND

4: Drew Sample – Washington – 6’5/255

Grade: 77

Summary: Fifth year senior. Three-plus year starter and two time Honorable Mention All Pac 12. Sample is a classic tight end prospect who has blossomed from blocker to all around threat. He is a tough, hard nosed competitor who may rank among the best blockers in this class at the group. However he showed that defenses cannot sleep on him as a pass catcher. He shows the necessary twitch and ball skills to keep them honest and similar to Will Dissly a year ago in SEA, could be a guy who breaks out as a pass catcher in the NFL.

*Keep an ear out for this kids name come draft weekend. NFL teams that want every down duty from a new tight end are going to like this kid’s game. He can do everything at a good enough level to factor right away and his pre-draft process checked a lot of gray boxes.

NFL Comparison: Kyle Rudolph / MIN

5: Irv Smith Jr – Alabama – 6’2/242

Grade: 77

Summary: Junior entry. One and half year starter who stood out on a few occasions in 2018, earning 2nd Team Al SEC honors. While undersized, Smith plays bigger than he looks, most notably as a blocker in space. There is more power in that frame than you think and it makes a difference after the catch. He is a really balanced and under control, with route running that really developed as the year went. I got more and more impressed with him but I would be lying if I said I thought he was ready for the league now. He also may have a hard time blocking in line. Get him into an H-Back type role and he can be a difference maker.

*People love players from Alabama, which I understand. However every year I think some guys get a tad overrated for wearing the Crimson, and I think Smith fits that bill because I have heard a few say he might be a first rounder. Simply put, Smith is way undersized and while his speed is good, we aren’t talking elite. I think Smith can carve a nice role for himself but he is a day 2 guy, not even close to round 1.

NFL Comparison: Trey Burton / CHI

6: Jace Sternberger – Texas A& M – 6’4/251

Grade: 76

Summary: Fourth year junior who has jumped around a bit. Started off at Kansas before dropping to the junior college level in an effort to kind of re-do his recruiting process. Was highly sought after but settled in at Texas A& M and put together an All American season. Sternberger is wiry-framed, solid straight line athlete with plus ball skills and ability after the catch. His aggression and desire as a blocker is a good sign of what he can be once the weight is added over time. He can be a complete, every down tight end with starter potential down the road.

*Sternberger snuck up on a few people this year. There is a lot to like when it comes to his playing style, straight line burst, and ball skills. He needs some extra time in the weight room because the power presence isn’t there, but he is a guy who plays hungry and simply made a lot of plays this year against stiff competition. High upside player, but he needs time.

NFL Comparison: Jeff Heuerman / DEN

7: Josh Oliver – San Jose State – 6’5/249

Grade: 75

Summary: Four year starter. The former linebacker made the move to tight end during his freshman season and it was a move that paid off. Oliver earned 1st Team All Mountain West honors as a senior. The team captain shows glimpses of elite movement and ball skills, giving him the high-ceiling label. The body control combined with size and speed in the receiving game can make him a major matchup problem for defenses. He will need a year or two to add more power and mass to his frame, but the list is short when it comes to players with this kind of ceiling.

*I’ll tell you what, this 75 grade may not be the best reflection of how I think about this kid and his upside. If he can add more power to his blocking and toughen up a little, he has elite potential. The size, the way he moves, how he catches the ball, it is a thing of beauty that won’t come around often. But the fact he plays soft and doesn’t seem interested in the physical components of the game bother me. Boom or bust type, but the boom could rightfully warrant someone taking him in round 2.

NFL Comparison: Zach Ertz / PHI

8: Kahale Warring – San Diego State – 6’5/251

Grade: 74

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Late comer to the game, as he played football for just one year in high school. A preferred walk on, Warring developed nicely in his time at San Diego State and ended up Honorable Mention All Mountain West in 2018. He is very much a projection-type prospect but there is so much natural talent oozing out of his nicely developed frame that he could end up going a lot higher than people think. Warring has size, speed, ball skills, and a really hungry approach as a blocker. There is still a little ways to go when it comes to skill set, but he can be a starter within 2-3 years.

*A surprise declaration turned into a prospect who has the high ceiling label with a higher-than-initially-perceived floor. This kid is so raw and new to the game but there are traits here that raise eyebrows. I bet if Warring went back to school in 2019, he would be in the top 60 overall discussion next draft. Like Oliver, a guy who I could see going much higher than this.

NFL Comparison: Ryan Griffin / HOU

9: Foster Moreau – LSU – 6’4/253

Grade: 73

Summary: One and a half year starter. Wore the #18 jersey for the Tigers, given to the team’s leader and one who exemplifies grit, hard work, and competitive spirit. Moreau will be drafted based on his ability to block both in space and in-line. He has some fullback capabilities to his game as well. Moreau has a soft pair as hands as well and will make the easy but often overlooked catches. He is a little lethargic and late as a route runner and he wont scare anyone athletically, but he can factor on all three downs. He looks like a really solid backup and rotational player who will stick around for awhile.

NFL Comparison: Geoff Swaim / JAC

10: Trevon Wesco – West Virginia – 6’3/267

Grade: 72

Summary: Fifth year senior, former junior college player who missed a season with injury. Wesco was a little off the radar coming into the 2018 season but he broke out and earned 1st Team All Big 12 honors. He is best known for his blocking prowess but now that he is entering the league and into a pro offense, Wesco could be a guy who produces more regularly. His game translates well into the role of a tight end who splits time between the trenches and the backfield. He has violent pop as a blocker but also excels as a short to intermediate pass catcher. He is limited athletically and there is a medical red flag here, but he will be drafted and I bet he plays relatively early.

*Interesting kid here. I wouldn’t want him as a starter in my offense, but I would find a role for him on at least 30% of the snaps. He can play tight end, h-back, and fullback. I do get worried about some lower body stiffness and some awkward movement, but he is a dirty-work guy who can fill some needed holes. Versatility is key for day 3 guys and he has plenty of it.

NFL Comparison: Rhett Ellison / NYG

11: Alize Mack – Notre Dame – 6’4/249: 71
12: Kendall Blanton – Missouri – 6’6/262: 70
13: Kaden Smith – Stanford – 6’5/255: 70
14: Zach Gentry – Michigan – 6’8/265: 69
15: Andrew Beck – Texas – 6’3/257: 68
16: Keenan Brown – Texas State – 6’2/250: 68
17: Isaac Nauta – Georgia – 6’3/244: 68
18: David Helm – Duke – 6’4/249: 67
19: Tommy Sweeney – Boston College – 6’4/251: 67
20: Donald Parham – Stetson 6’8/237: 67

**TOP UDFA SLEEPER**

Jerome Washington – Rutgers – 6’2/243

A Fifth year senior who has previous stops at junior college and 1 year stint at Miami, Washington has the look that caught my eye back in 2017. Well, his senior year was marred by injuries but when looking at the physical package, I think he can fit somewhere as an H-Back/Tight End mix. Rutgers’ leading receiver in 2017, Washington shows nice ball skills and tested well athletically.

NYG APPROACH

As stated earlier, much of this depends on the team’s approach to Evan Engram and his fit within this offense. Personally, he is not a talent I would want to give up on and he really turned it on late in the year when he got healthy. This kid can be a big time difference maker. However, if NYG decides to trade him for other assets that fit in with their long term plan, this is a top heavy group that offers what they ma be looking for. True 3 down tight ends who can play right away can be had in the top 3-4 rounds but it is a drop off after. This group isn’t particularly strong and I think it shouldn’t be a top priority especially with Engram in the picture.