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 232023
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (September 21, 2023)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports


-Daniel Jones: 22/32 – 137 yards / 0 TD – 2 INT / 64.2 RAT

Jones added 5 yards on the ground. This was a matchup nightmare on paper. The Niners ability to put “quick pressure” on the passer, the makeshift offensive line, and not having their two best offensive players on the field made the margin for error miniscule. Jones had to play perfect and everyone around him had to play bigger than the sum of their respective parts for this to be competitive. The game-plan was full of dinks and dunks and I estimate about 50% usage of the full playbook even being an option. There were not a lot of positives to take away from this game when it comes to Jones. The few times where the team needed a play (and he had things working around him), he did not come through. The 3rd-and-11 miss to Waller in the fourth quarter with the score at 23-12 was the standout negative. Waller does not escape his share of the blame (I will discuss this in the tight end analysis), but that is an easy throw that needs to be made 99 out of 100 times. We’ve heard and saw all summer just how big and long Waller is, how he towers above everyone else. Jones had that target wide open (NFL standards) for a first down and he air-mailed it above his outstretched hands.

The positives remain the same. He stood tall in the face of pressure in a situation that had ‘loss’ written all over it. He went through progressions, he did not abandon mechanics, and he was accurate on almost all throws. While I will not call him Joe Montana when it comes to ball placement, he threw strikes most of the night on the quick-release throws. For the second time in three weeks, he was fighting uphill in mud, nothing to gain traction on and slowly having the ground slip from underneath him. He is now 1-11 in primetime games and while that is more of a correlation between the quality of opponents + the poor state of the NYG roster than the time of day that present his struggles, it is hard to get past the notion he is not rising to a better version of himself in situations like this. Daniel Jones just….is.


-With Saquon Barkley out again with another lower body joint injury (the story of his career so far unfortunately), the NYG backfield barely moved the needle. Matt Breida did score the lone NYG touchdown of the night on an impressive, aggressive downhill run of 8 yards. He had just 4 total carries for 17 yards and 3 catches for 1 yard. Gary Brightwell added 5 yards on 4 carries and had the team’s biggest gain of the night (18 yards) on a dump-off pass, but also dropped a pass. His sample size was small, but his overall impact was positive economically, just like in previous games where he has contributed.


-Wan’Dale Robinson was back on the field for the first time since tearing his ACL 10 months ago. That is an impressive turnaround from the second-year gadget receiver from Kentucky. He had 4 catches for 21 yards while fellow slot receiver Parris Campbell led the team with 6 catches, netting just 24 yards. The limitations of the offense overall made them key focal points underneath because their skill sets can get them open in a hurry and both are supposed to be effective after the catch. They struggled to break tackles, though. Neither made an impact there, neither stepped up to make plays on their own, which was a vital ingredient to any potential success they were hoping to have.

-Darius Slayton appears to be the number one receiver on this team. He is the guy who has the most experience with Jones, he is the guy with the most contractual commitment to the team, and he is the only player who is being targeted more than 9 yards downfield on average (minimum 4 targets). He ended with 3 catches for 32 yards and had a couple of open looks deep that did not come to fruition because of poor blocking. He is playing hard and confident right now, and with his speed, that matters.

-I am disappointed we, A) barely saw Jalin Hyatt (16 out of 50 snaps) and B) he did not get a single target. I know we should temper expectations from the rookie receiver, as I even said myself last spring following the draft his impact in 2023 would likely be minimal. Even with that in mind, not one target? The one guy on this team (with Barkley out) who can strike fear into the defense? The guy who made two the biggest non-touchdown plays in their historic comeback last week? If he truly is more than just a vertical threat, then the argument that Jones simply not having enough time is not good enough for me. He should have been given at least two or three looks.


-Darren Waller led the team with 7 targets, but he caught just 3 of them for 20 yards. He added a drop that led to an interception. After a summer full of optimism and beat reporters salivating when discussing how much of a threat he appeared to be, three games in and I am down on what his upside can be here. Sure, the underneath threat and security blanket component to his game are there and it will be all season. But there is a significant difference in his movement from what I saw from 2019-2021. Jones misfired on two throws in his direction, they were more on the passer. However, Waller’s attempt at what I call “late movement,” a reaction-based attempt to the ball looked like it belonged to a 275-pound blocking tight end. No abrupt, explosive leap to go up and get it. No sudden change of direction to snare the ball that hit his hands. Effort is not the issue from what I see, just a simple lack of ability. Perhaps the hamstring is a tighter constraint than I initially thought. My true fear is the 31-year-old does not, and will not, have the special athletic traits that made him a household name and we are simply looking at an average underneath threat. Not a bad thing, but not what some believed it would be.

-Daniel Bellinger played 30 snaps and seems to be having trouble finding his role within this team. One of the biggest surprises from the 2023 Rookie Class has taken a back seat to Waller for obvious reasons. He had 1 catch for 8 yards. He has seen 2 passes thrown his way in 3 games. His value is a guy who splits a blocker/receiver role, but because of Waller’s presence he has been way more biased toward the former and he simply is not good enough there. He allowed a sack, a hold, and was flagged for a false start. This two tight end package has been one of the more subtle disappointments for the offense through three games.


-A few days ago, I warned everyone to temper the enthusiasm regarding former Tar Heels Joshua Ezeudu at left tackle and Markus McKethan at right guard. Performing well against Arizona did carry some weight, but the truth is that defensive line can make a case to be the worst in football. I wanted to see what the line, and these two in particular, would bring to the table against one of the best fronts in football. Just a solid game against them would go a long way. It did not turn out well. Ezeudu allowed 5 pressures and was flagged for a face-mask penalty. He was clearly overmatched when he faced off against Nick Bosa. They offered help a few times from Bellinger, but big picture, Ezeudu cannot compete against the best in the league. McKethan struggled even more. He was charged with 4 pressures and a sack in addition to a holding penalty. His size and length appear to be weapons that can win a lot of battles, but it is a complete hit or miss due to a lower half that does not have enough shiftiness to it. Growing pains are allowed and we will need to see if these guys can improve with consistent snaps week to week.

-Despite a couple of ugly losses to Javon Hargrave, I ended with a positive grade on rookie center John Michael Schmitz. He allowed one pressure was driven back badly on an outside zone run (again) that caused a TFL. Besides that, I thought he moved well to the second level, provided quality help in pass protection, and anchored well. From my perspective re-watching the game, there appeared to be minimal communication issues up front. I credit that to Schmitz. Execution has not been good, we know, but the assignments have seemed cleaner than I remember over the past two-three years.

-A lot of eyes are on Evan Neal, and rightfully so. The 2022 seventh overall pick has not been good through 18 games. He allowed a sack on the two-point conversion attempt and two pressures. The bar has been set low, but I do believe this was an overall positive performance compared to what Neal has been putting out there. While it is not good enough and I still want to see substantial improvement, I did not walk out of this game lowering his status even further. Hopefully he can use this as a springboard to better play, more consistently. After all, that is what this comes down to.

-Shane Lemieux got the start over Mark Glowinski, something I did not see coming. He allowed 3 pressures and a sack, and the disheartening note I have from the live game was: “Not even competitive.” No anchor, minimal range in the running game, and inability to recover when beat.


-Kayvon Thibodeaux was on the field for 72 snaps. He finished with 3 tackles, 1 sack, and 2 hurries. Overall, it was a game that lacked impact. He was flagged for a questionable illegal contact penalty which I did not mark against him, as I thought it was within five yards from the line of scrimmage. The issue was a lack of feel, lack of flow to the action, and slight hesitation. That and the obvious fact he is not winning one-on-one battles. I am not comparing him to Bosa by any means, but the difference I see in those two off the ball is completely night and day. Bosa has tunnel vision. Thibodeaux has hesitation. Does he play scared? Does he lack situational awareness? I see both. And no, I am not seeing improvement (at all) despite a couple positives in the traditional box score. I will say it again. He needs to play better, period.

-Jihad Ward, Oshane Ximines, and Boogie Basham were the other rotational edge defenders. None within the trio has stepped up with Azeez Ojulari out. Ward can set the edge against the run, but the next time he comes off a blocker to make a big stop will be the first. Basham has been unimpressive in action since the trade from BUF, as he looks like the JV version of Ward. And we know what Ximines is. He did add a pressure with 2 tackles. I think it is time we see Tomon Fox on the field.


-Dexter Lawrence had another Dexter Lawrence game, finishing with 7 tackles, 3 pressures, and a TFL. Leonard Williams came to play as well, at least more so than the previous two weeks, and finished with a half-sack, 6 tackles, and 2 QB hits. He was flagged for a roughing penalty that was correct when looking at the rulebook, but it is the one I just do not support. I am all about protecting quarterbacks but expecting a guy to fall a certain way while moving at full speed is a garbage way of making life impossible for defenders.

-D.J. Davidson got the look over rookie Jordon Riley again, and he showed why. On just 19 snaps (9 run / 10 pass) he finished with a half-sack, 2 pressures, and a pass break up at the line. He was injured on a dirty play by Jake Brendel, a play he should be fined for. Davidson was pushing the interior SF linemen around every time he got on the field. The injury to the elbow appeared to be fairly serious.

-A’Shawn Robinson and Rakeem Nunez-Roches are, at least, playing physical and prideful. They are getting beat initially at the point-of-attack and they do not have the recovery quicks to make up for it. They are clearly frustrated because of the part they are playing in the defense getting beat up front against the run. Robinson did end up with 5 tackles and pursues the action with a lot of hustle. I am still holding onto hope the line can turn things around. The size, power, and effort are all there from all of the guys.


-Micah McFadden had a game. He led the team with 10 tackles, including 4 for a loss. He missed a tackle early on and I thought “here we go again”. But he made several tackles on plays away from the ball. He read the screen game exceptionally well and I guarantee other teams will be using his performance on film as “teach tape” throughout the season. He remains an easy target in the passing game but if he gets this kind of results downhill, they can deal with him being weak in backwards coverage.

-Bobby Okereke does not seem fully comfortable in the scheme. I say that because when he fills downhill hard, he is an absolute menace. But there still seems to be a lack of consistency to that part of his game and it is causing significant issues against the run. If I had to come up with a single catalyst to the issues the defense has there, it is him. He did finish with 9 tackles and 2 pressures (both untouched) but 3 missed tackles are way too many for a leader of the defense, the green dot.

-Isaiah Simmons saw a slight uptick in playing time, finishing with 4 tackles. His lack of feel for angles and blocking on a 3rd-and-13 conversion was an absolute killer. The speed and range are great assets but only valuable if he knows that to do. Very poor situational awareness by him on that play.


-Another rough night for the rookie corners. Deonte Banks suffered an arm injury and at the time of this writing, we do not have the MRI results. Tre Hawkins missed 2 (of his 3 on the night) tackles on the same play, something you could go an entire season never seeing. He got flagged for holding and allowed every target in his direction to be completed. He looked lost, unsure, and tight. He may not be the best fit for the number of snaps he is seeing and after three weeks (and as many penalties), it may be worth moving someone else into his starting spot.

-Adoree’ Jackson saw most of his snaps outside again, the spot I think he simply works best. He did allow a long touchdown pass to Deebo Samuel late in the game but I thought his coverage was solid most of the night. He broke up a pass over the middle on a great corner play.

-Darnay Holmes moved into the slot when Jackson went outside. He finished with two impact plays, a pass break up and a TFL on a screen, but he was also flagged for a hold on a third down stop. The issue we have seen since his rookie season continues to be his kryptonite and what simply makes him unreliable.


-Xavier McKinney and Jason Pinnock both played every snap again. They combined for 12 tackles and 3 missed tackles. They were targeted often, especially with SF tight end George Kittle. Pinnock made the biggest blunder of the night on the 3rd-and-14 conversion where they had everything lined up, he simply needed to make the tackle. He did not come close. He turned it up a bit in the second half with 2 pressures. McKinney seemed a bit lost. He was not anticipating routes and the precision of the SF passing game kept exposing it.


-K Graham Gano: 2/2 (Made 44, 57). The 57-yarder ties his career-long with NYG.
-Jamie Gillan: 6 punts / 52.7 avg – 49.0 net


-LB Micah McFadden, DT Leonard Williams, K Graham Gano


-CB Tre Hawkins, OG Markus McKethan, S Xavier McKinney


1. The best coach in football is Kyle Shanahan. That’s where I stand with him, and I know I’m not alone. What he has done over the years despite such injury turmoil (especially at QB) is something most (if not all) coaches would crumble under. He is a magician and trend setter when it comes to finding ways to play efficient football. Early down passing, motion pre-snap, versatile personnel packaging, etc. The scheme itself is fun to watch no matter who they play. Since 2017, they have been the 10th, 4th, 6th, 1st, 3rd, and 9th most injured team in the league, respectively. They made the NFC Championship despite zero games with their QB1, RB1, TE1, WR1, WR2 all healthy at the same time last season. How many teams could pull that off? I don’t think any. Coaching made the difference.

2. SF had 196 yards after the catch in this game alone. The Giants total net yards were 150. The thing is, SF is always among the league’s best in yards after the catch. They’re also near the top in explosive run plays. How come? Scheme is one, but also the kind of players they go after. They’re all strong and powerful relative to their positions and maybe the most overlooked component to their success is how hard they block downfield for each other. It is such a difference maker.

3. SF is one of the two or three best teams in the NFC. How did they get there? You may be surprised to see their early draft results in recent years. Since John Lynch took over in 2017, here are their first-round picks: DT Solomon Thomas (#3), OT Mike McGlinchey (#9), DE Nick Bosa (#2), DT Javon Kinlaw (#14), QB Trey Lance (#3). To be blunt, that is a terrible looking list outside of Bosa (the highest paid defender in the NFL). Only Kinlaw remains on the team. How is Lynch considered one of the top GMs in football and what can NYG learn from it? If you go back to 2017 and start going through their day 2/3 picks, you’re going to be wowed. TE George Kittle, DT D.J. Jones, CB D.J. Reed, LB Fred Warner, LB Dre Greenlaw, WR Jauan Jennings, OT Colton McKivitz, RB Elijah Mitchell, S Talanoa Hufanga, QB Brock Purdy, OG Spencer Burford. These guys in combination with the aggressive trades for OT Trent Williams and RB Christian McCaffrey are the catalysts to this being such a well-balanced team. Keep this in mind in the coming years with the NYG regime led by Joe Schoen. Even when you miss in the first, the doors are open later on to build the nucleus. You must find the right guys there.


1. So let’s not beat the dead horses. Is Daniel Jones worth the money? Are the #5 and #7 picks from the 2022 draft going to step up? Save it for another time, I’m sure history will repeat itself. Let’s turn the attention to Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale. It is hard to fully diagnose what is going on, but the results are scary. 98 points allowed in 3 games (let’s take off 14 for the special teams + defensive TDs from week 1). So, 84 points allowed. Sixth worst in yards per play allowed. Last in turnovers. Fourth most in yards per pass allowed. 14th most yards per rush allowed. Second worst in pressure percentage. Sixth most missed tackles. Seventh worst on third down. The personnel was upgraded. There are 7 returning starters. And everything has gone backwards. Has the league figured out Martindale? It is something that needs to be considered.

2. I’m not a fan of the “must win” label some put on games unless is mathematically eliminates someone from contention. So, no, Week 4 against Seattle is not a must win. But getting a 3-day rest advantage over a 1-1 team that is flying from the West Coast is one of the easier set ups they have and not taking advantage of it would be such a major blow to the vibe of this team.

3. The one time NYG scored a touchdown came on a drive where they had the biggest gain of the day. A 22-yard pass interference call on a deep ball to Waller. Getting the ball more vertical like this creates so many more opportunities for the offense. You can get that cheap penalty, which when it comes to results end up being the same as a long completion. It puts things on tape and in memories of defenders that needs to be accounted for, opening space up underneath. And it can change the entire mojo of a team. NYG needs to find ways to push the ball downfield at least a handful of times week in, week out. They have the speed.

Sep 192023
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (September 17, 2023)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports


Daniel Jones: 26/37 – 321 yards / 2 TD – 1 INT / 103.5 RAT

Check this out. With 1:09 left in the 2nd quarter, Jones was 6/12 – 43 yards / 0 TD – 1 INT. Now go take another look at the final stat line. From that moment he went 20/25 – 278 yards / 2 TD – 0 INT. Jones also had 59 yards on the ground with a rushing touchdown. You want a real-life look at a quarterback who has put a team on his shoulders to lead the best comeback this franchise has had in the modern era? This was it. We have seen the toughness Jones exudes since his rookie year. We have seen him make big time throws in the second half to all three levels. We have seen him make plays with his legs that, maybe, five other starting quarterbacks in the NFL can make. But we have never seen it all together in one half throughout a three-score comeback. This goes in the top five list of Jones’ best performances. What was so different in the second half? Three things came to mind after the two re-watches.

One, his targets stopped dropping balls. More support from the surrounding cast, which he had very little of in the first six quarters of the season, will always open the door to better potential results. The Waller/Barkley drops in the first half especially were killers. Two, Jones looked much more decisive and brave in the pocket. He abandoned the play too soon three times in the first half rather than stepping up and keeping his eyes downfield. Once he had some momentum build upon the third quarter (the long Hyatt completion was so key for that), he maneuvered the pocket with more precision and/or opted to tuck and run north. His time-to-decision was evidently faster. Three, his accuracy and timing were near-perfect. The underneath-to-intermediate throws were on the money, properly setting up his targets to allow them to move upfield right away after the completion. Jones made over a handful of big-time throws, the kind of throws everyone in the media would be pointing out if it were Joe Burrow (0-2) or Justin Herbert (0-2). Jones had the look of a winner in this one. Whatever it takes, whatever the situation. A lot went against him, and he rose up and led this team to a huge win.


-Saquon Barkley: 17 att – 63 yards – 1 TD / 6 rec – 29 yards – 1 TD

Unfortunately, Barkley on the second to last play of the game got caught between a pile of linemen and a defender coming in from the side, trapping his foot underneath a lineman while being twisted in the other direction. He will miss time, possibly a month.

As for his performance in this game, he was Robin to Jones’ Batman. A duo who came up with the big plays in key moments, the plays you pay these guys to make. The 3rd-and-9 touchdown pass was execution by both at the highest level we see in the sport. That was Mahomes-Kelce caliber, a score that very few pass catchers could make in this league. Barkley’s performance did come with a few warts. For the second straight week, he dropped a ball he should have held onto that resulted in an interception. For the second straight week, I have multiple runs where he danced/stutter stepped in the backfield while a crease was there (or about to be there) for the taking. 2nd-and-1 he turns sideways/runs backwards. These things cannot happen, and more situational awareness and better vision are needed. I’ll touch more on his replacement while injured at the bottom.

-Matt Breida had one carry for 5 yards, the play before Graham Gano’s winning-field goal. Eric Gray deserves credit for a 14-yard punt return in the fourth quarter to start the NYG possession that ended up tying the game at 28 in the fourth quarter. Both will be in for big roles just two days from now.


-I discussed how much this offense needs to generate more explosive plays from the passing game. It is near-essential for the team to take the next step. Enter Darius Slayton and Jalin Hyatt. Slayton had 3 catches for 62 yards. His completions were 29, 18, and 15 yards. Hyatt had just 2 catches, both resulting in explosive plays (one for 58 yards, one for 31 yards) and were the two longest plays of the afternoon. Slayton also had a catch in the fourth quarter where he (barely) landed out of bounds that would have been an all-time highlight had the field been a few inches wider. Jones also underthrew him in the first half on a play where he had 2-3 steps on the corner. Hyatt is the key, here. A lot to be put on a third rounder but the way he moves and way he is tracking the ball and how fast he can easily get over the top can change how defenses work the short to intermediate routes. Hyatt looks ready for more.

-Isaiah Hodgins did not contribute much from a volume perspective, but he did come down with the game-tying touchdown on a brilliant catch that was very high-difficulty. I did charge him with a drop in the third quarter on a fade pass from Jones, but I will admit it could have gone either way. Regardless, Hodgins is going to benefit the most if teams have to start respecting the deep passing game.

-Parris Campbell added a drop and was flagged for a false start on a potentially controversial two-point conversion attempt, which valid arguments could be made both for and against. After the penalty, Daboll opted to simply go for the extra point to make it 28-21 rather than the conversion in an effort to make it 28-22. Maybe it was one of those good mistakes. Sterling Shepard had 1 catch for 4 yards. He played just 10 snaps.


-We saw some of the biggest value Waller brings to the table in the second half. He finished with 6 catches for 76 yards (5/64 were in quarters three-four). Four of those went for a first down, which led the team and tied for the league-high among tight ends in Week 2. Watching the All-22 angle and everything makes simple sense. More vertical pressure on the secondary because of Slayton + Hyatt combined with linebackers who cannot hang with Waller creates separation and space. He seems to already have a strong chemistry with Jones and I expect it to further improve in time. The two negatives were a first quarter drop (knocked out by a defender) and the fact he does seem to struggle with stride length. The hamstring/nerve issue is real, and it may inhibit some of what I thought he could offer as a seam pusher up the field.

-Uneventful game for Daniel Bellinger, who played under half the snaps as the team was very heavy on 11 personnel usage (3 WR). He had two losses as a blocker that were a result of poor initial footwork, but he did throw a key block on Barkley’s touchdown run as he lined up in the backfield.


-Here is a good sign. The days and hours leading up to the game, Joshua Ezeudu and Markus McKethan were the main talking points. With Andrew Thomas being declared out with a hamstring injury early on, Ezeudu was placed into the left tackle spot over Matt Peart. He played 508 snaps in college there, but none in the NFL and almost zero practice time. McKethan, who was Ezeudu’s teammate at North Carolina, missed all of 2022 (his rookie season) after tearing his ACL during a scrimmage in training camp last August and would be taking his first pro snaps for the benched Mark Glowinski. The best part? All that pre-game chatter about the changes and it was the last time we heard anything about them.

How did they play? Ezeudu was flagged for a false start prior to the first play and allowed a one-yard sack on the second drive that was not a bad beat. From there? Nearly flawless. McKethan allowed a half-sack and 2 pressures. He struggled with two separate blitz pickups and getting to the linebackers at the second level. But what impressed me was how he never abandoned techniques. This guy is very big and long for a guard. His 35.5” arms and 85.5”wingspan are top five in the history of the position. Seeing him long-arm guys (even with his feet in the wrong spot) got him a few extra wins. Excellent firsts for both former Tar Heels and I will touch on the OL more below.

-Center John Michael Schmitz was rock solid all game. I still see him losing too much ground on these aggressive outside zone runs but he isn’t getting beat and that is what’s most important. I also saw him make a couple instinctive moves that I only see a handful of centers make in the league. Combine that with the perfect grade in pass protection and two QB sneak successes, his grade was very good.

-Ben Bredeson took a nasty blow to the head and was quickly diagnosed with a concussion. He allowed a TFL before exiting. Mark Glowinski came off the bench to play left guard, a spot he hadn’t played since 2017 with Seattle. After allowing a TFL right away, he also provided above average play.

-Evan Neal did look better than he did in week one but was still the one guy with a negative grade up front. He allowed 2 pressures, was flagged for a hold (that wiped out a touchdown), a false start, and received a ton of help throughout the game. I did note how important that help would be for the offense, but I still can’t get behind him as a player yet. Remember, I was very high on him as a prospect, and I still believe he can be a good player. But taking my bias out, Neal still struggles in pass protection way too much.


-Kayvon Thibodeaux has a lot of eyes on him, rightfully so. He was the 5th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. He is 0-for-2 this season on hitting just the minimum standard for what is expected of him. He had 1 pressure which resulted in a QB hit and even that was on a stunt where ARI left him unblocked up the middle. I was also disappointed on the lack of backside pursuit on the ARI outside zone runs. Two blockers in front of him pulling to the opposite side and he did not react fast enough. Now, it is possible he was playing assignment football and I do not question his effort. Thibodeaux plays hard. He simply does not always have the quick and natural football sense against the run on complex running plays. The conclusion here is that he has been a no-show through two weeks to start off the year.

-Azeez Ojulari missed the game with a soft tissue injury again (hamstring). He has now missed 11 of his last 18 games and that does not include playing under 20% of the snaps in their two playoff games last year.

-Oshane Ximines was activated and had a QB hit and a half-TFL on a play he went unblocked. He had one tackle and a missed tackle. Boogie Basham played a very quiet 13 snaps. The depth looks poor, the starters look poor. Nothing is set in stone, but that is the cold hard truth with the first 10% of the season now in the rear view mirror.


-Another week of solid rotations. Another week of solid Dexter Lawrence play. Another week of overall underwhelming group performance. Lawrence did end up shining and came up big when the team needed him the most. 4 tackles, one TFL (two separate half-TFL plays), and 3 pressures. Just another day at the office for the All-Pro. His impact on stuffing the run, even the outside runs, has been near make or break. When he gets doubled and neutralized, bad things are likely to happen. When ARI tried to single-man him, his push shrunk the creases to near-nonexistent.

-Leonard Williams added 2 pressures but finished with no tackles. I expect more out of him, to be blunt. He is getting moved too easily in the running game and he has not been getting off blocks like he did last year. He needs to find his groove after playing just 12 snaps in preseason. Lawrence is doing his part, Williams needs to step up and do his. It will impact multiple facets of the defense.

-The trio of accessories all had stretches of solid play, but they’re all limited. Hence why they are backups, I suppose. A’Shawn Robinson finished with three tackles and a half-TFL. D.J .Davidson was active in place of Jordon Riley, which I like because these two will be competing for snaps all season and that will bring the best out them respectively. He added one tackle. Rakeem Nunez-Roches struggled to make any sort of impact besides giving Williams the occasional breather. He was overwhelmed by double teams on running plays. These three guys combined for 31 pass rush snaps, and they did not accrue a single pressure. On a team that is struggling to get to the passer, it is a bigger deal in my eyes than it admittedly probably should be. Somebody needs to step up there. And it’s not like they’re doing well against the run. They’re averaging 6th-most yards per carry allowed among the 28 teams that have played two games so far.


-Add Bobby Okereke to the list of guys who looked like completely different players in the second half than the first. Almost as if the real one showed up at halftime and put on the #58 jersey before they came back out of the tunnel. He finished with 8 tackles, one for a loss. Early on, Okereke was not filling his gap hard or fast enough. But when the team needed big stops, he rose to the occasion especially in the third quarter. On the flip side, he was flagged for a pass interference that called off an interception, he was flagged for a personal foul for hitting the quarterback’s helmet, and he abandoned his gap on the Dobbs rushing touchdown. Too many killer plays for one guy, the green dot guy. But he was a big factor in the second half and it took him off the dud list.

-Micah McFadden got on that list early as well but stayed on it, unfortunately. He had four missed tackles. One of them resulted in a touchdown, one of them would have been a take down for a short loss, and another one would have resulted in a major loss. We know what he is at this point. He is effective in traffic because he is quick, low to the ground, and powerful. He is not even half as good in space and/or while moving laterally. The missed tackles need to stop, it changes drives.

-Isaiah Simmons played 13 snaps, again as expected, nine of which he dropped into coverage. He finished with 2 tackles and a pressure on a scramble. The speed showed up and made a difference in two occasions. Do I expect him to play more? Not yet. Do I expect him to take over for McFadden? Absolutely not. That isn’t his position.


-Rookie Deonte Banks played all 64 snaps, a positive considering he left Week One early with cramps. He is a work in progress, which is stating the obvious. He flashes excellent sheer talent and ability. He is physical and his coverage is borderline too grabby. He was flagged for illegal contact for the second straight week. His biggest negatives came against the run. While it is not priority A or B for a corner, Banks needs to stop missing tackles (2) and losing track of his edge responsibilities. The game is too fast to make up for a bad initial read.

-Adoree’ Jackson also missed a tackle, playing every snap. He finished with 5 tackles and allowed 4 catches on 6 targets. Most of those passes were incredibly tough assignments on quick strikes but he did come up with two big pass breakups. He looks more comfortable in coverage, but as I said a few weeks ago, his lack of presence in tackling from nickel will be an issue this defense needs to cope with.

-Rookie Tre Hawkins was not involved much on his 40 snaps. He came up with an impressive deep ball pass break up where he stayed on top of the assignment and was inches away from the interception. He, too, missed a tackle and he also made a bad read on the Marquis Brown short touchdown catch. He looked hesitant and unsure, and like Banks, the game is too fast for that. He was taken off the field on their two-corner looks, where Jackson went back to the outside.


-Xavier McKinney played all 64 snaps and Jason Pinnock missed just one play while he had a contact lens replaced. The former had 7 tackles and a pass break up. He missed a tackle and was a flagged for a questionable personal foul in the first half. It was a solid game for a guy who may be the best blitzer on the team. Pinnock led the team with 10 tackles, but also missed 3. He plays so fast that at times it is too fast for his own good. I’ll take the fast mistakes though; you can live with those. He had an interception that was called back, he had 1.5 TFL, and easily looks like the fastest reactive player on the defense. This unit is not creating turnovers but if/when they do, the two safeties will be involved. I still think they miss Julian Love (off to a tough start in SEA), but the group overall is not even close to one of the concerns defensively.

-Bobby McCain and Dane Belton combined for just 8 snaps and made no impact.


K Graham Gano: 1/1 (made 34 and a long extra point)
P Jamie Gillan: 3 punts / 37.0 avg – 37.0 net


-QB Daniel Jones, OT Joshua Ezeudu, DT Dexter Lawrence


-LB Micah McFadden, ED Kayvon Thibodeux, OT Evan Neal


1. The talk surrounding ARI, for months, has centered around tanking for the 2024 NFL Draft. This franchise has their own pick (expected to be top 5) and the Texans pick (acquired in a draft-day trade, also expected to be top 5). That is realistically going to probably land them two top 5 picks. You can even set a solid market on them being two of the top three picks. They traded away a solid OL depth / starting guard in Josh Jones right before the season (again to HOU) and they traded Simmons to NYG. They cut DeAndre Hopkins. They traded for their starting quarterback in the final week of August. Who knows what they are doing with Kyler Murray? All of this in a year where the next big thing at quarterback is likely to declare for the 2024 Draft AND there is a generational wide receiver likely to be there as well. No, I do not think this team cares about the loss yesterday.

2. About 14 months ago, quarterback Kyler Murray signed a 5-year/$230 million extension with the club. $160 million guaranteed. Can they actually move on from this deal without crippling the team’s ability to spend? In short, yes. They could move him next offseason and absorb $46.2 million in dead money. Yes, a lot of money but we have seen worse. Atlanta recently did something in that tier with Matt Ryan. They could wait until after June 1 to trade him and absorb $13 million dead cap in 2023, $33.3 million in 2025. Considering what I know about General Manager Monti Ossenfort, I think they will make the move as soon as possible. The interesting debate is how much he plays in 2023. They may not want to fall into accidental wins (Murray can still take over a game backyard football style), but they do want to increase his value to QB-hungry teams that are ready to win. This will be incredibly interesting to follow.

3. Prior to 2023, here is the list of the first draft picks this team has made since 2014: TE Trey McBride, LB Zaven Collins, LB Isaiah Simmons, QB Kyler Murray, QB Josh Rosen (I was very wrong on him too), Haason Reddick, Robert Nkemdiche, D.J. Humphries, Deone Bucannon. There is more to a draft class than the first rounder, NYG fans know that. But that many misses in that short span of a time (including 5 picks in the front half of round 1) is the quickest way to getting fired. To be frank, I am surprised some guys in that front office have held onto their jobs for that long. But with some of the things I know about the management within that organization behind the scenes, I can’t say I am surprised. Not everyone in the NFL has a job because they truly deserve it. Previous ARI front offices (and even some coaches) are prime examples of that. Better days ahead.


1. The Saquon Barkley injury is, unfortunately, something we have grown somewhat used to over the years on a season-to-season basis. The multiple serious injuries (those that cause multiple consecutive games missed) suffered to the lower body are such a killer for a back who has a game built on shiftiness and burst. Instead of harping on him and running back contracts, the better discussion centers around how to replace the production. Nobody on this roster is replacing Barkley. But the Moneyball approach is where to go in discussion; how do they replace his yards and touchdowns? It needs to be a team effort, one that is so much more doable than the previous times this has happened because of better depth. Sure, Matt Breida and Eric Gray and Gary Brightwell will get the carries, but nobody needs to be the guy. Maybe Jones gets more designed (but safe) carries. Maybe we see more dump offs to Campbell and (eventually) Wan’Dale Robinson. Maybe Gray excels where Barkley struggles (vision, feel, decision making). Maybe they get more aggressive downhill burst from Breida/Brightwell. The options are plenty and it should not crush the offense.

2. Million dollar question. What is the ideal offensive line configuration now? Let’s discuss this from the perspective that Andrew Thomas is back, and Ben Bredeson is healthy. Both may be out Thursday, though. When they’re ready to go, I think they roll with Thomas-Ezeudu-Schmitz-McKethan-Neal for the time being. Glowinski and Bredeson off the bench are above average when considering depth around the league. Peart is the gameday swing tackle, but Ezeudu is the number one backup outside. I am not going down the path of replacing Neal with Ezeudu, it’s not even a thought. I am not considering Neal to guard, it’s not even a thought. The question I have is about Ezeudu. His snaps at guard have not been very good so far, but he was great at left tackle in his pro debut. As pleased as I was with his game, let’s not forget the Arizona group of pass rushers is a strong contender for worst in the NFL. We will have a clearer picture after the game Thursday night.

3. This defense just looks terrible. While they did step up in the second half, I am considering the entire game within my evaluation. They’re one of four teams that have played 2 games as of this writing that has not forced a turnover (Dallas has forced 7 and Philadelphia has forced 6). They are the ONLY team in the league without a single sack. They’re second to last in pressure rate. What is the solution? It seems Martindale is hesitant to blitz. His rate is middle of the league right now (after leading the NFL in 2022). The blitzes on pass plays resulted in 50% completion rate against ARI. Is he afraid of leaving the young corners on a true island play to play? Is he trying to play the game of deception when everyone plans for more blitzing? The front can’t get home with four pass rushers. The results can’t be too much worse than they are right now. I suggest Martindale go back to his roots and force things to happen.

4. A 38-7 loss against the Eagles in the Divisional Playoffs. A 40-0 loss to the Cowboys week one. A 20-0 deficit to one of the worst teams in the NFL after two quarters of football. That is a 10-quarter span where this team was being outscored 98-7. That is historically bad. Not just bad; historic. This brought back a memory that many have chosen to forget. In year one of the Ben McAdoo era, NYG went 11-5 and lost a closer playoff game to the Packers. Eli Manning threw for 4,000+ yards, Landon Collins and Damon Harrison both made the All-Pro Team, and Odell Beckham finished third in the NFL in both catches and yards. Things were looking better than they had in 5 years. Fast forward to the very next season (2017), NYG started off 0-5, 1-8, and 2-13. McAdoo was fired in early December. The results on the field here in 2023 were appearing like something we have seen. Building momentum under a new Head Coach just to see it fall off a cliff. But as I, and many others, have said, this regime is different. Simply, different. I hate the “must win” label a game has in Week 2, but I will say I think this win will have a spillover impact very much like Week 1 in Tennessee did last season when NYG went for 2 instead of tying it up with an extra point. But there is more to be done, more to prove. The Giants have played some of the worst football league wide in 6 of 8 quarters. And this coaching staff called consecutive timeouts in the 4th quarter (resulting in a penalty). The short week is a big test.

Sep 122023
New York Giants (September 10, 2023)

© USA TODAY Sports


Daniel Jones: 15/28 – 104 yards / 0 TD – 2 INT / 32.4 RAT

Jones also ran the ball 13 times and gained 43 yards on the ground. He fumbled twice, neither of which were recovered by DAL. It was a night to forget for too many reasons to count. Part of the expectation after signing the 4 year / $160 Million contract this offseason includes him playing better and creating more with what he is given. Jones was under pressure the entire night, he dealt with poor snaps in the shotgun that threw off timing and ball security, and it was wet. Add that to the fact he played against one of the top defenses in football and it all adds up to facing a wall. How did Jones respond to that wall? Did he scale it? Did he at least put a dent in it? No, he did not. The first interception was not on him, as Saquon Barkley should have held on to that ball. The second interception? The near-third? All on Jones and the play where he was running out of bounds and threw it back into traffic where more DAL defenders than NYG targets were, on first down, was about as bad as it gets. We saw Bryce Young and CJ Stroud and Anthony Richardson make those mistakes in their rookie debuts. Jones, a fifth year-veteran and $40 million quarterback absolutely cannot make that mistake.

A shutout cannot be solely placed on Jones’ shoulders. There are multiple components that led to one of the worst Week 1 losses the NFL has ever seen. But 0 points? Missed throws? Bad decisions? The same bad decisions he needs to be past by now? There are lot of people in this organization that need to look themselves in the mirror. Jones is, without question, one of them. Poor performance and not halfway up to par for a $40 million QB.


Saquon Barkley: 12 att – 51 yards / 3 rec – 12 yards

Barkley was charged with a drop (that turned into a Jones interception / pick six for the defense). It could have been charged a fumble. Either way, a major blow to the offense and team overall as it put seven points on the board for Dallas. Beyond that, Barkley looked solid early on pushing piles and putting his shoulder down. The issue I have is what he left on the field. I watched the game from the end zone and he had three different runs where the cutback lane was there, and he did not take it. The best-vision backs can anticipate those lanes, the good-vision backs can react to those lanes. The poor-vision backs never see it. Barkley went 0-for-3 there.

-Matt Breida added 9 yards on 2 carries and Gary Brightwell saw time late when things were out of hand, gaining 5 yards on his lone carry.


-It was a tough game to evaluate the wide receiver play between the weather and the time available in the passing game. Most of the Jones drop backs did not even allow the receivers to get into their routes. Darius Slayton had 3 rec / 15 yards, Paris Campbell had one catch for 2 yards and a drop, and Isaiah Hodgins had 1 catch for 24 yards that resulted in a lost fumble. Those were the receivers who played the most. As much as we discuss better targets in the arsenal for Jones and the offense, it still looks like an underwhelming group, does it not?

-Jalin Hyatt had one target in his debut, a poor throw by Jones but it should have been brought in by the rookie. He dropped a ball that hit both his hands and that was the last we saw of him. The league is already fearful of the speed. DAL corner Trevon Diggs was providing a lot of space underneath on routes when he was on Hyatt to protect from getting beat over the top. Unfortunately, Hyatt’s true impact will only be felt when the line does its job.


-Darren Waller: 3 rec – 36 yards

-Waller led the team in yards and targets, playing just over half the snaps. He was on a pitch count because of an aggravated hamstring, something to monitor. This is not the first time. He made two nice hand-grabs on balls away from his body. On the opening drive, Waller was going to be targeted on the 3rd-and-2 false start by Andrew Thomas. It was set up well for an easy touchdown. They are doing a lot to get him open underneath and over the middle. The few times he lined up with his hand in the dirt and was asked to block did not go well. He was the reason NYG failed a 3rd-and-2 conversion attempt on a Jones outside run. That isn’t why he is here, but for this offense to remain efficient with two tight ends on the field in the running game, he needs to show more there.

-Daniel Bellinger played almost two-thirds of the team’s offensive snaps, most on the team for the position. He did not receive a single target and graded poorly as a blocker. He allowed a sack to Demarcus Lawrence on a play where he was tossed to the ground as if he were a 180-pound receiver, a complete non-factor. There was talk about his strength gains among many in the media because they saw a picture with his shirt sleeve rolled up and his bicep looked big. It does not work that way. Bellinger’s power in the trenches was a problem. He did not look effective in that role at all.

-Lawrence Cager got a few snaps toward the end of the game and brought in 2 catches for 17 yards.


-Tough to figure out where to start. The newly signed Andrew Thomas pulled his hamstring early (on the blocked field goal) and gutted out 53 snaps the rest of the game. He was clearly playing through a lot of pain and at the time of this writing, we are waiting on MRI results. Regarding the game itself, Thomas was not the reliable force that he was in 2022. The 3rd-and-2 false start was one of the biggest plays of the night. He was also flagged for hold that got declined and he allowed 3 pressures, one of which caused a sack, and a half-TFL. I applaud and respect the effort, but the performance itself was not up to par. Unfortunately, 65% of Thomas is better than 100% of anyone else they can put in at left tackle.

-Ben Bredeson and rookie John Michael Schmitz both played all 70 snaps, and both graded out well below average. Bredeson allowed a pressure and a TFL. He was also flagged for a holding penalty. While he is the top left guard on this team, he has too many snaps where he looks like he is better suited for the interior backup role. The lack of bend and adjustment speed are issues against a fast defense like this. He looks the part in the running game, and he gets movement off the ball, but I am concerned about any potential progress he can make as a pass blocker. Schmitz is a step behind the power component to pro tackles. He wound up getting pushed back 3-4 yards on plays he needed to get lateral. It completely threw off the vital timing variables to the outside zone NYG likes to use. He, too, was better in the power game going downhill.

-Now, we move on the right side. The combination of Mark Glowinski and Evan Neal in this game was the worst one-side performances I have seen, possibly ever, in my personal history of watching the Giants. Glowinski allowed 3 sacks (and had another called off by a penalty) and 4 pressures. The 31-year old was signed last year to give the team a solid, yet unspectacular, veteran presence who at least had a high floor. There is a hole in the floor. His knee bend was not there, and he is not a very big, powerful guy. He can’t afford to play with poor bend. Another game like that and he should be put on the bench. Absolutely atrocious game and clearly unacceptable.

-As for Evan Neal. I’ve been vocal about him being the most important player on offense not named Daniel Jones. NYG was dead last in the league in explosive passing plays in 2022. Chicago was better. Houston was better. Improved pieces are in place but if Evan Neal cannot be trusted to maintain pass protection for 3 seconds, maybe even 4, they will be near or at the bottom again. Week 1 was a nightmare result of the biggest variable in this discussion. 5 pressures, 2 sacks, and 1 TFL for the 7th overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. No injuries to lean on for an excuse. No new positions. No new schemes. No new coaching. Just bad football by a player who will run out of excuses by November if he keeps this up. Don’t ask about a move to guard right now. The question is how long he can hold on to a starting role if he does not improve. Year 2, you’re on notice.

-We saw backups Matt Peart and Joshua Ezeudu get on the field late. Peart played 4 snaps before getting injured and Ezeudu saw 14 snaps at left tackle, a position he played in college. Ezeudu’s biggest gaffe was the missed block that led to the blocked field goal. The ONE thing you cannot do as the outside blocker is allow an untouched defender go through inside. That’s exactly what he did, and the result was, well you know.


-Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari combined for 74 snaps, 36 of which were rushing the passer. There was not one pressure accrued from them. Thibodeaux added 4 tackles and played some solid run defense, but Ojulari did not factor there. The concern I have with the 5th overall pick from the 2022 NFL Draft, Thibodeaux, is the lack of power in his game. I discussed this during training camp last summer, I brought it up again during the season, and it is still worry number one. His anchor and sheer strength are a notch below average. You have almost no chance at being a big-time pass rusher without a power element to your game. Look around the league and you will see what I mean.

-Newly acquired Boogie Basham saw most of his snaps late in the game. He, too, did not apply any pressure and added just one tackle. He and Jihad Ward, the one edge defender who did get a pressure (literally one), are the same player. Stout and strong, but slow and limited.


-Dexter Lawrence began his year where he left off in January. The best player on this defense was a bright spot, finishing with 4 tackles and 4 pressures, 2 of which were QB hits. Leonard Williams added a pressure and 2 tackles. Something to keep an eye on is the snap share. Lawrence played 64% of the snaps, Williams 55%. While this game is not the best gauge for what to expect, I do foresee this being closer to the norm than what we saw in 2022 where they were playing 80-90% of the snaps week in, week out.

-The rotational pieces all showed what they can do, albeit lacking some consistency against the run. Jordon Riley had a TFL on an impressive play usually reserved for Lawrence. I continue to be impressed with his play at his size. Veterans Rakeem Nunez-Roches and A’Shawn Robinson both gathered 3 tackles. Robinson looked rustier than anything after not playing a single snap in preseason. Although it is hard to be optimistic about anything right now, the Giants defensive front can still be viewed as a strong unit, and they showed enough against DAL.


-During preseason, I discussed how big of a difference I felt Bobby Okereke can make for the Martindale scheme. While he was not close to the biggest issue in this loss, like what I said about expectations that are now on Daniel Jones because of the contract, a similar argument can be made about Okereke. He found himself on the wrong side of the blocks way too often. He had 5 tackles, and he did force a fumble on a downfield play (recovered by DAL), but re-watching the tape showed late movement and awareness. We can chalk it up to a new scheme and new surroundings, but he cannot have many more performances like that.

-Micah McFadden, on the other hand, came to play. He had 10 tackles, the team lead, one of which went for a loss and one coming on special teams. The inside linebacker spot next to Okereke has been a topic of discussion and McFadden tightened his choke hold on it.

-Potential difference maker Isaiah Simmons played exactly the amount I have projected he would. I said 15-20 snaps per game, he played 15 snaps. He rushed the passer on 6, he dropped into coverage on 5, and defended the run on 4. He finished with 1 tackle and looked good in coverage. He covers a ton of ground in a hurry.


-For the first time since 2008, a team opened week one with two rookies starting at outside corner. How did Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins fare in their debuts? They were the two players on the defense that were flagged. Hawkins twice, one of which was a pass interference on a 3rd-and-12 stop that resulted in a 37-yard gain for the Dallas offense. He did finish with 7 tackles and showed a physical brand, which will be a difference maker, but his coverage looked grabby and unsure. Banks looked crisper and more confident with his technique and ability to read routes, but left the game early with cramps.

-Adoree’ Jackson’s debut as a starting nickel had mixed results. He was the biggest culprit on the longest play of the game, a 49-yard gain on a play where Jackson did not feel the unofficial pick coming and ended on the ground in man coverage against the Cowboys best receiver, a place you never want to be. Jackson’s ability is a solid, not great, fit for nickel. However, there are elements you have to deal with, such as traffic like he saw on that play, that he does not have a ton of experience with.

-Nick McCloud saw some action after Banks went down and Darnay Holmes played just 4 snaps. Neither made anything notable happen.


-Another bright spot can be the play of Xavier McKinney. He was on the field for all 58 snaps with 4 tackles and 2 pass breakups. He also showed some very smart play with chips on receivers that were crossing his face while he was moving downhill. I don’t see that often when watching safeties. It stems from incredible on-field IQ and fast reaction times. Jason Pinnock also played all 58 snaps, finishing with 5 tackles and a missed tackle.

-Dane Belton was the only other safety to play, and he was on the field for just 6 plays. He lost the edge on Tony Pollard’s second touchdown creating a walk-in.


-K Graham Gano: 0/1 (Missed 36)
-P Jamie Gillan: 3 Punts / 53.3 avg – 47.7 net


-S Xavier McKinney, LB Micah McFadden, DT Dexter Lawrence


-OG Mark Glowinski, OT Evan Neal, OLB Azeez Ojulari


1. What made this Dallas defense so dominant? It is never one answer, it is never one player. But if you want the start of something that is too long-winded to write here, here you go. The speed and power of their front seven with Micah Parsons looking like he is on a different level than a year ago (which is potentially very bad news) is where I start. They did not do anything overly complex up front. Some stunts and twists, some blitzing, some alignment changes for #11. But it was not anything extreme, it was something we see often across multiple defenses. They simply beat NYG blockers to spots over and over. And the few times those blockers engaged resulted in physical beat downs. Tough to compete with a defense that is both faster and stronger than you, plain and simple.

2. Part of my reason for my Dallas skepticism has centered around how reliant their defense and team overall has been on the turnover margin. They are +25 over the past two seasons. The second highest league wide? +15. Fifth highest? +9. A three-year run at this pace of 10+ per year would be historic. One game in, they’re +4. If they are indeed this level of elite, my 8-9 projection will likely be one of my biggest misses. And I hate to say it, but their speed and the fact they have the game’s top defensive player opens the door to that turnover number.

3. Where is the Achilles’ heel on this offense? We know the defense will be very good. In the NFC, the door is open to the point if you are dominant in one element, you can be merely average in the other and you’re in the postseason. Dak Prescott is what he is (and that is good enough). CeeDee Lamb now has a credible number two in Brandin Cooks. Tony Pollard is a potential star. I see the offensive line and Mike McCarthy holding the keys. Tyron Smith is still good, but he missed 15 games in 2020, 6 in 2021, and 16 in 2022. Their depth is an unknown. With Kellen Moore in Los Angeles now, McCarthy needs to prove he can avoid silly game management mistakes and not run Pollard into the ground, a guy who has never been an every down player.


1. My yearly reminder: Week 1 does not matter as much as you think it does. I would say the same thing if the Giants were on the opposite side of this debacle. The objective value of a week one loss is the same as a week 18 loss that prevents a team from making the playoffs, yes. But to change the perceived trajectory of a team based on one game, especially so early in the year, is foolish. Cincinnati isn’t doing it. Kansas City isn’t doing it. Different tiers of teams, I know. But the point remains that this 40-point loss counts the same as an overtime loss. I would rather see this week one than in week eight. Plus, I think this opens the door to learning what this entire roster and coaching staff have under the hood deep inside when they take the field in Arizona next week.

2. We can sit here and talk badly about the players, deservedly so. They got trounced all three phases from start to finish in embarrassing fashion. They will need to acknowledge and own it until they are on the field against the Cardinals. But what about the coaching staff? I am always hesitant to point the finger at coaching unless I know the facts of what is going on inside the building. Even with that, it is hard to walk away from this without putting at least some of the blame on the coaches. Daboll, Kafka, Martindale, McGaughey were disassembled on national TV. They were THE difference last year. But this is the NFL and innovation only lasts so long. Dallas had the response and speed ready for the bootlegs. They knew how to keep Prescott clean blitz or no blitz, and they simply had their players ready. Coaches, step it up. Success last year means absolutely nothing. Your last two games were against division rivals Philadelphia and Dallas. The combined score was 78-7.

3. The biggest issue, once again, is the offensive line. Captain Obvious. Do you make a move right away? What is the move? The answer partially resides in the Andrew Thomas MRI report. If he is out, are they relying on Matt Peart? Is he even healthy? What is plan C? Joshua Ezeudu? What if he needs to step in at right guard for Glowinski? The constants appear to be Neal at RT (you are not moving him this year), Schmitz at OC, and Bredeson at LG. If a move is coming, it will be Bredeson to RG and Ezeudu inserted into left guard after an underwhelming preseason. But as I said above, we will find an objective answer what is inside these players and I want Glowinski to be a part of that. No knee jerk reactions from me. I want the same five out there (pending the Thomas injury) to see what these guys are all about. They play the San Francisco front in 10 days, too.

Aug 282023
Eric Gray, New York Giants (August 26, 2023)

Eric Gray – © USA TODAY Sports


-Daniel Jones did not play, giving Tyrod Taylor his second start of the preseason. He stayed on the field for just 9 snaps. He was under pressure quickly, as the NYJ starting defense faced off against the backup NYG offensive line. He threw two deep balls up the right side to rookie Jalin Hyatt. One was inaccurate, landing out of bounds and the other was broken up by Sauce Gardner. Both were underthrown.

-Tommy DeVito: 19/29 – 210 yards / 1 TD – 1 INT / 84.0 RAT

DeVito played nearly the entire game. He is right up there with the league’s leaders in snaps by quarterbacks this preseason and has been one of team’s top pleasant surprises. The interception resulted in a pick-six for the Jets. It was a play that showed his inexperience. The Jets defense did not bite on a play fake, leaving multiple defenders in the intended passing lane to the backside. DeVito did not have his plan B on demand. He stared down the intention, hesitated before getting it out, and threw where he shouldn’t have. Sills did not run a great route either. Beyond that play, he put together another impressive performance. I went back and looked at some of my college summaries on him and found a couple of interesting parallels.

“…DeVito plays the position with unusual competitive energy. He needs to control it on the tempo throws that need to be layered over levels of the defense…he will struggle to make multiple reads from within the pocket… DeVito projects as a roster-hopeful but will likely bounce around practice squads because of the intriguing arm, but lack of development in his overall skill set”.

This kid has developed the skill set more than I thought he would at such an early stage. The issues are still there, but when I consider some of the recent third stringers NYG has employed (Davis Webb, Clayton Thorson, Kyle Lauletta), I look back at DeVito and come away with the fact this kid needs to be kept around. The question is, will it need to be on the 53?


-James Robinson, who did not make the final 53, saw the most action in a game since week 9 of last year while he was with the Jets. He had an impressive 55 yards on 10 carries including 41 yards after contact. He broke 5 tackles and ran with tremendous pop and pad level. He will be on a roster at some point this year. This was an important game for him.

-Eric Gray had another quiet game on the ground but his 48 yards on 4 catches (two of which he displayed ability to get to the ball away from his frame) were key. His hands were something I noted during the pre-draft process, very underrated component to his game. Throw in the fact they trust him on punt returns, this is where I think most of his value will be early on. But I did not see enough as a ball carrier as it looks like he hasn’t adjusted to the speed of the league yet.

-Jashaun Corbin’s final attempt to make an impression for the 53-man roster was quiet. He had just 6 yards on 6 carries and 2 catches for another 11 yards. The numbers game will likely land him on the practice squad, but he showed enough to warrant a spot if an injury pops up at running back.


-Jalin Hyatt got the start and was matched up against Sauce Gardner two times on plays where he ran deep routes. He was targeted both times, however both passes were not placed where they needed to be. But the positive I took from it was the fact he clearly had 2+ steps on the All-Pro corner on the first one. He then had a step on Gardner the second time, but he did not lengthen the separation because he had to gear down to track the underthrow. Gardner also got away with a little hold on that second one too. Hyatt won’t face a corner better than that, thus I took it as a significant positive.

-David Sills led the team with 81 yards and 6 catches, including a touchdown. He really is an impressive player during preseason, and he does a lot of the little things right. His ball skills are outstanding when it comes to framing the ball and getting through traffic. The issue, and it pops up every time he plays, is he can’t separate. The speed and quicks simply are not there and that is why he won’t ever be more than he is; a backup who gets stashed but will provide locker room and practice value.

-Jamison Crowder and Jaydon Mickens added 2 catches apiece. Crowder also got a look as a punt returner, reminding us there is some extra value he can add if he squeezes onto the roster. Wan’Dale Robinson’s end to the PUP list will likely coincide to Crowder being shown the door. That will likely happen this week.


-Lawrence Cager, who truly moves like a big wide receiver, caught all three of his targets for 24 yards. This is still a guy who is hard to peg in relation to the 53-man roster. He is a unique talent and I cannot imagine a scenario he where remains on the practice squad if he is placed there. Multiple teams will want him. The depth at receiver and lack of blocking impact may leave him off the roster though.

-Chris Myarick saw 11 snaps but was forced to leave early due to a hand injury. This opened the door for PS-hopeful Ryan Jones. He was on the field for 56 snaps. He added 2 more catches but also dropped one.


-With Tyre Phillips still unable to play as he rehabs his injury, Matt Peart and Korey Cunningham played the entire game. Peart started off as bad as it gets and ended with a line of 2 sacks, 2 pressures, and 2 penalties. The Jets pass rush is one of the best in football. What he put on tape over the first few drives is what I expect to see during live games if either Andrew Thomas or Evan Neal were to go down. The more I watch, the more important their health as a pair is vital to this team’s success. Peart did settle down after the first three drives; however that was against the third and fourth stringers. 147 of 148 preseason snaps were at left tackle, none were at right tackle. Does that really sound like the team’s swing tackle plan? I don’t think so. Cunningham on the other hand split time between right guard and right tackle. He allowed 2 pressures. I trust him as a backup more than I do Peart. The difference in balance, overall footwork, and sheer hustle is easy to see.

-Julién Davenport, who has 19 career starts in the league, appears to be near the end of his career. He showed terrible bend, inaccurate feet, and JV-caliber strength. He allowed a sack and a TFL in addition to 3 pressures. He was simply brought in to be a camp body and was the worst OL on the field in this game.

-This was a big game for Shane Lemieux. He had a solid start to preseason in week one, however the shift to OC in week 2 produced some ugly tape. He returned to guard and looked much more comfortable. I think he still has enough to offer at that spot. Does the fact he looks so much worse playing center significantly hurt his chances? NYG has a starter in Schmitz. They have a capable number two in Bredeson. Considering the lack of established depth inside, I still think it is worth keeping him around a bit longer. But it is safe to say, the four year starter at guard in college simply cannot be depended on to start plays with the ball in his hand. That could force him out.

-Marcus McKethan saw his first live game action against another team for the first time since being drafted in 2022. His size and strength were notable, but the two issues I had with him in college are still there. First, he plays way too high. The lack of knee bend at his size in combination with the lack of recovery quickness is going to make life very difficult as a zone blocker in the running game. He was slow to get across defenders laterally and the lack of consistency in his footwork created multiple early losses. He did settle in a bit and the upside he presents is worth keeping around, but part of me thinks he should be kept on the practice squad for the time being. He is not game-ready, not even close.

-Wyatt Davis was taken off the field on the cart with an ankle injury and Josh Ezeudu played just 8 snaps. I believe that will be the last we see of the former.


-Tomon Fox is going to be the number one backup on the edge for this team. He brings the power presence and versatility that the others do not. While he does not seem overly fluid in space, his hand-fighting and sheer power gets him a lot of wins initially. He had 2 tackles and 3 pressures. If he had just a little more juice, he could be a credible threat off the edge. But at the very least he can set the edge and grind his way to applying pressure. He still has some more to chew off when it comes to his upside too.

-Did any of Tashawn Bower, Oshane Ximines, or Habakkuk Baldonado show enough to warrant the final depth job at outside linebacker? Simply put, if they need another body outside, they will need to look at the cuts from around the league. Once cuts become public, I will write up a few suggestions. Ximines has the inside track because the staff did get some quality football out of him a year ago. He had a QB hit in this game, but we know what he is by this point. The depth can be better. Bower and Baldonado are practice squad options at best, as neither stood out in this game.


-Watching Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, and A’Shawn Robinson stand next to each other on the sideline was a nice reminder. NYG will have the biggest starting defensive line in football.

-None of the above played, rightfully so. Rakeem Nunez-Roches got his first live snaps in the first quarter. He had one pressure and a tackle. He is a high energy, hustler type. It was not enough to fully evaluate his game but that is fine. We know what NYG has in him based on his previous years with Tampa Bay and he is here for depth. Speaking of depth, Jordon Riley played early on and was taken out to keep him fresh for week one against Dallas. Between him and starting a 6th rounder at outside corner, I can’t say I saw this coming at all. Snap your finger and NYG all the sudden is loaded with depth along the defensive front. If they all stick and stay healthy, the rewards that stem from that will be huge.

-Once again, the trio of Kevin Atkins, Donovan Jeter, and Brandin Bryant failed to maintain gap integrity against the run, and none made an impact as a pass rusher. Kobe Smith added 2 tackles and is the one I want to see kept on the practice squad.


-While he only played 6 snaps, the story of the night was the newly acquired Isaiah Simmons. The 8th overall pick from the 2020 defense was purchased for a 7th rounder in next spring’s draft. I will touch on this more below, but this move could change the defense in a big way. He had a pressure and a missed tackle, spending most of his time lined up on the line of scrimmage.

-Carter Coughlin may have had a job secured on the 53-man roster before camp, maybe he did not. His play through the three games stood out to me, especially in this one. He had 2 TFL where he displayed excellent diagnosing and reaction speed. The angles to the ball carrier, the power presence upon contact with his target, and ability to finish were all impressive. Throw in his special teams prowess, he is a near lock to make this team.

-Game two for Darrian Beavers ended with just one tackle and some struggle to get to the action clean. He appears to be just a step slow post-snap and throw in some hip tightness; he just can’t get to point B fast enough yet. His contributions will be on special teams early, but he does have some potential as a package defender when they want to use the blitz on passing downs. Remember, he played all over the defensive front seven in college.


-This game was the final effort for several back-end corners to potentially swallow up the last spot on the cornerback depth chart. This is the one huge question mark on this entire team that many I have spoken to on the outside are focused on. Some NYG fans are excited about the future of the first rounder Deonte Banks and the surprise of camp, Tre Hawkins. Perhaps they will be cornerstone players down the road. 2023? The fact they are so easily put into starting roles should easily tell us something about the position group as a whole.

-Gemon Green, Darren Evans, and Amani Oruwariye all allowed 100+ passer ratings. As a trio, Jets passers went 15/19 for 169 yards and 2 touchdowns against them. Oruwariye likely gets the nod (if any of them) because of his veteran experience, and he continued to show he is the best tackler and most physical of the three. Zyon Gilbert left the game early with an injury after struggling against NYJ first stringers as well.

-A razor thin group of corners with not one but TWO rookies starting is about as risky as it gets in today’s NFL on the back end. Darnay Holmes played in the first half and will likely keep his spot as a rotational nickel. The staff still likes the 2024 free agent.

-Remember – NYG made two pickups off the street/waivers (Fabian Moreau / Nick McCloud) around this time last year. I get a sense we will see that kind of move again.


-I was looking forward to seeing some more Bobby McCain against the starting Jets offense. He took a cheap shot from Randall Cobb that left him concussed, thus playing just 2 snaps.

-Rookies Alex Cook and Gervarrius Owens played most of the game on the back end. They finished with 6 and 5 tackles, respectively. Owens added a QB hit. There is something about him I see that is different, to be blunt. This is always a dangerous thing to say in any sort of scouting assignment. But looking at his snap alignments through 3 games (23 snaps on the line, 41 in the box, 56 at FS, 23 outside the box), zero missed tackles, just one allowed reception, and just the gut feeling I have. Owens is going to be a big part this defense at some point.


-K Graham Gano: 3/3 (made 57, 40, 56)
-P Jamie Gillan: 5 punts / 49.2 avg / 44.0 net


-WR David Sills, LB Carter Coughlin, K Graham Gano


-OT Julién Davenport, CB Germon Green, DT Brandin Bryant


1. We’ve seen this before. Preseason hype around the Jets because of offseason acquisitions. We’ve even seen it with a future Hall of Famer coming to town from Green Bay when Brett Favre arrived in 2008 (they went 9-7 and missed the playoffs). Intra-city rivalry aside, I think this time is different for two reasons. Favre in 2008 had one of the worst seasons of his career and the supporting cast just wasn’t there. He did go on to MIN the next year, winning a playoff game. They had a top 5 defense and an All-Pro running back, however. Bring that back to Rodgers. He won the MVP in 2020 and 2021. He is on a team with a top 5 defense and the 2022 Offensive AND Defensive Rookies of the Year. Running back Breece Hall would have been a contender for that award that Garrett Wilson (man I wanted him in the ’22 draft) won. Point is this situation is set up well for Rodgers coming to NY. This team is going to the playoffs.

2. What is the one factor that can easily derail my projection? Like most teams, the offensive line. The issue they have, that several others do not, is the fact this group is not established yet. Everyone knows this is where they are potentially weak. Everyone knows this is how you minimize the benefit of adding Rodgers to the offense. Mekhi Becton is the NYJ version of Evan Neal. If he does not step up (and stay healthy) – the path to the peak is going to be filled with roadblocks.

3. Garrett Wilson. I am not huge into fantasy football, but I am very much aware how big of a market it is. For those who play (and have not drafted yet) – I am looking at him the same way I look at Justin Jefferson right now. I said it back when NYG was drafting #5 and #7 in 2022, and I am saying it now, this kid is going to be a production machine.


1. The cornerback and edge group need help. Isaiah Simmons may alter my opinion a bit, but because of the hybrid-ness to his role, I still think the front office will need to try and find another guy who can factor out there. Does a blitz-heavy scheme make it less than vital? Sure. But let’s keep in mind what this team is doing at corner. It would be a huge deal to find a pass rusher who shakes loose in the coming days. And as I said earlier, this corner group is an injury away from playing guys that do not belong in every down duty. If you think you’re a contender to win 10-11 games, that needs to be addressed.

2. The Isaiah Simmons trade. I said back in 2020 that whoever drafts him needs a specific plan. Not to force him into roles, but force roles around him. Be patient, develop. Hide the weaknesses (he has a few), exemplify his strengths. After watching the current NYG coaching staff work for a year-plus and knowing some behind the scenes things about the ARI organization, this move can be an absolute game changer or the team. I see a Derwin James type more than a Micah Parsons. Not the same caliber (yet), but the same kind of role. It will take a few weeks, but at the very least this kid can impact the pass rush. I’ve always wanted to see him rush the passer more. He has 239 rushes over his career with 32 pressures. The rate of 13.4% would be right up there with the top 20 edge rushers in football if sustained for a season.

3. My prediction for the 2023 season is 11 wins. The increase in weapons for the offense and year two of one of the top coaching staffs in football are the two key reasons. They have a kicker who will win games in close matchups. They have a better offensive line than what was put out there in 2022. Their best player is hungry on a prove-it deal. They have year-2 players (where we see the biggest gains in margin in guys) playing key spots. They have a credible inside linebacker who the scheme needs. Their depth is twice as good as it was a year ago. And most importantly I expect a step up a notch by the quarterback being in the same system with real talent and innovative minds calling the shots. They’re not on par with the Eagles yet, but they’re gaining ground and the entire organization is hungry. It feels different.

Here is my prediction for the 53:

QB (2): Daniel Jones, Tyrod Taylor
RB (4): Saquon Barkley, Matt Breida, Eric Gray, Gary Brightwell
WR (6): Isaiah Hodgins, Darius Slayton, Paris Campbell, Jalin Hyatt, Sterling Shepard, Wan’Dale Robinson
TE (3): Darren Waller, Daniel Bellinger, Tommy Sweeney
OT (4): Andrew Thomas, Evan Neal, Tyre Phillips, Matt Peart
OG (4): Mark Glowinski, Ben Bredeson, Joshua Ezeudu, Marcus McKethan
OC (1): John Michael-Schmitz

EDGE (4): Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, Jihad Ward, Tomon Fox
DT (6): Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, A’Shawn Robinson, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Jordon Riley, D.J. Davidson
LB (5): Bobby Okereke, Micah McFadden, Darian Beavers, Carter Coughlin, Isaiah Simmons
CB (5): Adoree’ Jackson, Deonte Banks, Tre Hawkins, Darnay Holmes, Cor’Dale Flott
S (6): Xavier McKinney, Jason Pinnock, Dane Belton, Bobby McCain, Gervarrius Owens, Nick McCloud
ST (3): Graham Gano, Jamie Gillan, Casey Kreiter

PUP: CB Aaron Robinson

Key Cuts:

WR Jamison Crowder
OT Korey Cunningham
OG Shane Lemieux
TE Lawrence Cager
RB Jashaun Corbin
ED Oshane Ximines
DL Ryder Anderson
LB Cam Brown

Aug 202023
Isaiah Hodgins, New York Giants (August 18, 2023)

Isaiah Hodgins – © USA TODAY Sports


-Daniel Jones: 8/9 – 69 yards / 1 TD / 0 INT / 135.6 6 RAT

The only incompletion came on a Darren Waller drop. Jones was near flawless. A slight misthrow to Parris Campbell near the end zone was the only real blemish within the one drive he spent on the field. If that was the main weak point to his performance, it is going to be a fun season. Jones executed his ball fakes and overall footwork at a high level. It translated to accurate ball placement and well-timed progressions. He was in complete sync with the scheme and play calls. This offense turned the corner from an efficiency standpoint in 2022. They avoided third down (a key metric to the best/winningest teams over multiple years) and the sixth-best rate last year, after finishing second worst in 2021. Of the ten plays on this opening drive, just once did third down come up.

-Both backup quarterbacks, Tyrod Taylor and Tommy DeVito, completed 9 passes for 90 and 88 yards respectively. Taylor, the unquestioned second stringer, also led the team with 21 yards rushing and threw a 33-yard touchdown. Taylor has been the same guy for years. He shows enough flashes to make you think he really can be a starting caliber quarterback. The consistency with his mechanics is not there, and it leads to erratic ball placement. DeVito looks like he is on a fast track to confidence in the pocket, but he still needs work on getting the ball out faster. He has a cannon.


-Saquon Barkley was in pads for warmups, but he did not play in the game.

-There seems to be an interesting competition between rookie Eric Gray and second-year veteran Jashaun Corbin. On paper, the fact this regime just spent a draft pick on Gray – along with Corbin being undrafted a year ago – and they keep trying to force him into the return role says Gray will be the guy. On film? Corbin is making it a discussion. He gained 22 yards on 3 catches and his 9-yard run displayed the hunger and urgency he moves with. He also had a 17-yard run that was negated by a penalty. Gray, while he had an impressive 9-yard run that resulted in a touchdown, is struggling to consistently get downhill quickly enough. The biggest issue right now, however, is often overlooked by fans but I can guarantee you the coaches are going to be all over him about it. If Gray does not improve his blocking, he will barely see the field on offense. He allowed two hurries and a QB hit. So far this preseason, Gray has been asked to pass block 8 times. He has allowed 6 pressures.


-From last week’s review: “Personally, I would like to see Hyatt more involved. They need to try and script a couple deep shots to him so they can see how he tracks the ball, fights for it, and plays the body position game in real live situations.”

-Hyatt went from just one target in the first game to five in this one. And Kafka/Daboll scripted a deep ball to him which resulted in a 33-yard touchdown. The fifth gear he has was on display. Carolina safety Eric Rowe had absolutely no shot at catching up once Hyatt had an inch of vertical space on him. You think he is moving at his top rate and then he hits the next level of fast forward. Fun play and a glimpse of what to expect from an offense that was starving for plays like this a year ago. Next up on the list, and this will be a big one, is getting more consistent at framing the football as a pass catcher on lateral routes. He had a drop on the play prior to the touchdown that stemmed from that particular ball skill.

-Parris Campbell caught all three targets for 23 yards and Isaiah Hodgins added 45 yards on two catches. Those two, along with Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard (1 rec / 6 yards), Jamison Crowder (2 rec / 18 yards), and Wan’Dale Robinson (PUP) make this receiver room arguably one of the top jumps in overall quality and depth at the position league-wide from 2022.

-Bryce Ford-Wheaton is the third/fourth stringer you can’t keep your eyes off of. He caught both of his targets for 24 yards. We know the size and speed are off the chart. We know his ball skills and route running need work. The power to his game is what stands out upon second look. Both as a gunner and off the line as a receiver. His rate of movement and sheer size add up to be very D.K. Metcalf-like. No, not even close to that level, but my point is how rare the combination is. The snaps he had as a gunner were very good. A team like this may have to find a spot for him as a special teamer because he won’t last long on the practice squad, as all 31 teams can snag him at any point.


-The quality Daniel Jones performance left a nice taste in everyone’s mouth. Darren Waller, however, was my favorite ingredient to the entrée. He played 8 snaps. He was targeted 4 times, caught 3, and had one jarred loose by safety Vonn Bell. The goal of that initial first-string drive was to get him the ball early. He took a couple big hits too. They coaching staff was smart to get him out when they did. Mission accomplished and Waller has the look of a focal point to this passing game.

-Daniel Bellinger, one of the top rookie tight ends in football a year ago, caught a touchdown from a unique 12-personnel look. Even with all the depth at receiver, the options that Waller and Bellinger present when on the field together can make this passing game even more efficient. The touchdown was the highlight, but the blocking was on point. His impact on contact is sending a different jolt to the defender than I remember. That was a key component to the Eric Gray touchdown run. All the talk surrounding Waller is warranted. Don’t forget about Bellinger. He is going to make some key plays this season.

-There is some difference in opinion surrounding the third tight end. I lean toward Tommy Sweeney (who did not play). Lawrence Cager (1 rec / 4 yards) does bring more to the table as a receiver, but as mentioned above, the weapons are now deep. The presence in the trenches would be of more service to the offense. Cager continues to get tossed around in that department.


-The story of the night was Evan Neal. After missing the better part of two weeks with a concussion, he both started and tied for the second most snaps on offense. He really had just one blemish. He failed to recognize a twist upfront and the defensive tackle worked around his outside shoulder and recorded a sack. It was Neal’s fault, no question. But when it came to breaking down his physical performance, I was pleased. He looks lighter on his feet and simply cleaner. He is showing a better first three steps and we already knew how stout he is. It is all about position and balance for him. If both get check marks, he is tough to beat. Encouraging night from the guy who may be the most important variable to NYG wanting to throw downfield more often.

-The one player who saw more snaps was Matt Peart, who continues to prove he cannot handle pro edge defenders. He allowed 2 pressures and was flagged for 2 holding penalties. Korey Cunningham had a bounce back performance and recent signing Julién Davenport got his feet wet. None of the above proved to be a solution for the issue this team has at backup tackle. The classic tell from all three is the simple but difficult ability to stay square. Quality defenders can get them to fall from the waist on up, making secondary rush moves much more effective.

-Inside, we saw Ben Bredeson and Joshua Ezeudu rotate at left guard, the one spot that is up for grabs in the starting lineup. If the decision was based solely on this game alone, Bredeson is the winner. He played a clean game with a strong latch. Ezeudu’s footwork (or lack thereof) made it hard for him to mirror his man. When he gets a guy in a phone booth, his power is notable. But space is not his friend and right now he cannot be trusted in pass protection on an island.

-At center, John Michael Schmitz appears to have the stating center job locked up, as expected. This was a pass-heavy game while he was in there (29:5 actually) and he allowed one pressure. That play was a poor display of foot speed and recovery. The one concern I have with him is exactly that. But the run-game impact and mere fact he is a rookie with a high floor lessens the concern.

-Shane Lemieux, after a solid week one in Detroit, saw 18 snaps at center and struggled mightily. He clearly was not comfortable in that role. His hand techniques were all over the place and he never found his anchor. He allowed a TFL and was flagged for a hold, as was third stringer Jack Anderson.

-Wyatt Davis, after a horrific experiment at tackle last week, returned to guard for just 13 plays. His comfort and skill set are much better inside, but there is still a lot more to be desired from his sustainability and reaction speed.


-Kayvon Thibodeaux played the first two drives before spending the rest of the night on the sideline. We saw him win against Ikem Ekwonu on an impressive rush move where he played low, stifled with a violent punch, and ripped under the outside shoulder to hit Bryce Young as he was throwing the ball. He also beat the 2022 All-Rookie tackle for a sack on a play where some confusion up front gave the explosive Thibodeaux a clear path to Young. He looks faster and twitchier, a sign the confidence is growing. On the negative side, he lost the edge twice in the running game and on both occasions the lack of a true anchor was obvious. He needs to be more disciplined there, as his natural size below the waist is below average.

-Azeez Ojulari and Jihad Ward had quiet games. Ward had a QB hit and a hurry, playing an even split between outside and inside. That is where his true value is. Last year he played a 7:1 ratio outside to inside. I like his first step quickness against interior blockers as his movement issues show up in space.

-The backup edge defenders had a night. They were constantly putting pressure on the backup Carolina quarterbacks (albeit against a poor OL that was crushed last week as well). Tashawn Bower led the group with 3 pressures. Both Oshane Ximines and Tomon Fox recorded two themselves. Fox still seems to be the leader in the clubhouse, as he had 4 tackles and a half-sack. Habakkuk Baldonado added a QB hit and a tackle late in the game.


-Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams got the start and played 12 snaps a piece. Both are already in mid-season form. These two are the best players on this defense and the Carolina OL had no shot against them. They both did what they wanted and went where they wanted. The interior of the Carolina OL is a weakness, one of the most glaring ones in the league, but it was obvious Lawrence is simply on a different level. He did get flagged for offsides and a roughing the passer penalty (on a 3rd down stop) after an errant swipe for the pass, which also happened to be where Bryce Young’s head was. Man, he is small.

-The defensive game ball award goes to the draft pick I barely spent any time scouting last fall. Jordon Riley got an opportunity with A’Shawn Robinson, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, and D.J. Davidson sitting this one out. He had some snaps with the first-string defense and balled out. He had 3 tackles, 1 TFL, and a fourth-down run stop that was all him. He got movement off the ball, bench pressed the blocker off him, located the ball, and engulfed him at the point-of-attack. It was such a clean rep, and he went on to put a ton of quality tape together the rest of the night. He was abusing center Justin McCray, an eight-year veteran with starting experience.

-The back-end guys, Kobe Smith and Donovan Jeter, struggled in their second game of preseason. Neither held their gaps in the running game and neither pressured the quarterback on a combined 19 opportunities.


-What a refreshing sight to see Bobby Okereke on the field. I will touch on this more below, but the 2023 big ticket free agent addition played into the second quarter and led the team with 7 tackles. The power, instincts, and quick burst all showed up on multiple occasions. He will not turn around the run defense by himself, but it was easy to see how important he will be for the front seven. This is the classic NYG inside linebacker this defense has lacked for so long.

-Darrian Beavers was back on the field. His size and speed are similar to what they have in Okereke, but his reaction time and lack of precision with his footwork and overall techniques were the stark differences. He finished with 4 tackles and showed good range. His contact is what I call heavy. A classic thumper who will need to show some more progress with the ability to read and cover especially. I still think there is a good shot he starts by the end of the year over Micah McFadden, who finished with 1 tackle.


-Playing Adoree’ Jackson in the slot appears to be a real thing. Of his 21 snaps, he played inside on 16 of them. I feel confident with him anywhere on the field, but the one issue I can see with him at nickel is the lack of physical presence against more physical targets and the running game. He had a missed tackle on the night and has never been strong there.

-Rookies Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins continue to start on the outside and the 6th rounder from Old Dominion continues to play like the better player. Even Joe Schoen sounds surprised by how well he is playing this early on. The speed he is playing with, the run-game assignments he is executing at a high level, and the easy vertical burst at his size are all major attributes for this scheme.

-Cor’Dale Flott is playing good football. While his route anticipation is a step behind, his coverage is constantly right there underneath. I initially believed it was a battle between him and Darnay Holmes for the nickel job. The development of the rookie guys outside, which can shift Jackson inside, will likely push Flott into the versatile number four job. He can play both, but his run defense is a liability. He also missed a tackle and lost the edge twice.

-Darren Evans allowed a touchdown after getting beat off the line and failing to locate the ball.


-Xavier McKinney had a disruptive couple of plays and looked fast in coverage. He is the top dog in a deep safety group, but I still think he needs to show a full season of good football before even considering a long-term contract. Remember, there is not as much cap room now with the recent big signings. At his best, McKinney is the best safety NYG has had in a long time and would round out such a strong middle of the defense if he sticks around. He just needs to stay on the field.

-Dane Belton had 2 TFL, showing great instincts and downhill explosion. The winner of the night among the backups was rookie Gervarrius Owens, though. He also had 7 tackles and broke up a pass with picture-perfect technique and timing. He is such a natural on the back end, one who can wear every hat in the versatile safety scheme. He won’t be rushed into action, but it would be a crime to keep this kid off the field because of his draft status. This dude is a player who can defend the run and cover. His special teams impact will be strong as well. He had the most versatile alignment among all safeties in this game.


-P Jame Gillan: 3 punts / 43.0 avg – 36.3 net


-DT Jordon Riley, QB Daniel Jones, LB Bobby Okereke


-DT Kobe Smith, OT Matt Peart, OC Shane Lemieux


1. The story surrounding this team is the #1 overall pick, quarterback Bryce Young. Not only because of where he was drafted, but what the front office had to do to get him. After failing to come up with the strong-enough trade offer for Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford, and Deshaun Watson…after failing to move up in the draft for the likes of Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa…after failing to select Justin Fields when he was available, David Tepper was stuck watching the likes of Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, P.J. Walker, Cam Newton (v2), and Teddy Bridgewater for the first few seasons of his ownership. After firing Matt Rhule, he put an end to that by sending the #9 overall, #61 overall, a 2024 1st, a 2025 2nd, and wide receiver D.J. Moore to Chicago so they could get whoever they wanted in the draft. They end up with a Seneca Wallace-body type but in an era where Young’s style of play fits the current style of NFL football the best. Throw in the intangibles, something very important to Head Coach Frank Reich, and Carolina thinks they have their guy.

2. I’m not sure if I live under a rock or if there really is a lack of chatter around Carolina’s new Defensive Coordinator Ejiro Evero. He is one of the best young defensive minds in the game. He came over from Denver and prior to that he was with the Rams where he won a Super Bowl. He specializes in pass defense and the team has one of the top young corners in Jaycee Horn. The rest of the personnel lacks depth but there are a few pieces that can make this defense as a whole very good in 2023.

3. Just how far can Carolina take this in 2023? Not far. It will be a tough year. I project New Orleans and Atlanta to finish 1-2. Considering the fact Reich has been all-time bad at winning games early in the year and they start off @ATL, vs NO, @SEA, vs MIN, @DET, @MIA with a rookie quarterback and shaky offensive line, I see them starting in a deep hole and unable to get out. This franchise should be looking at 2024.


1. One could not ask for a much better drive out of the Daniel Jones-led offense. Would it have been nice to see a downfield pass? Sure. But when I watched the All-22, it was easy to see Carolina was protecting the back end with a shell. The best offenses simply take advantage of what is provided by the defensive personnel and alignment. Efficient offenses avoid third down. They kill you with a thousand paper cuts. And they protect the ball. NYG struggled to score points early in games and I like how hot they started in this one.

2. I’ve been banging the table for a linebacker for far too long. While some teams league-wide view it as a position to piece together cheaply (with success), I’ve always thought it was the missing piece (or a missing piece) to a defense that has been a roller coaster for two decades. They have not been top-16 in points allowed two straight seasons since 2002. Let that sit for a little. I always roll my eyes when media-types talk about Giants being an old school defensive-biased franchise. In all honestly, they haven’t been consistent on that side of the ball since Parcells/Belichick in the late 80’s. Almost 40 years! But before I go down that rabbit hole even deeper, my point remains this team has lacked the identity in the middle. Antonio Pierce gave them a glimpse. Okereke is the best they’ve had there since then and I’m all about it. The force he moves with, the diagnostic nature about his game, and the every-down ability will make a huge difference for this team.

3. Once game left. What to expect? There are several spots on this roster up for grabs. The backup receivers and running backs are interesting. Who gets the final OL/DL spots are interesting. The abundance of talent they have at safety is interesting. I do not want to see the key guys out there for more than 2-3 drives. I want to see the roster-competition spots filling most of the snaps because there are some very tough decisions to be made. I hope to have a projected 53-man roster out the morning after the final preseason game.

Aug 142023
Jason Pinnock, New York Giants (August 11, 2023)

Jason Pinnock – © USA TODAY Sports


-Daniel Jones did not dress, giving the start to Tyrod Taylor. He played just two drives (8 snaps), completing three of four passing attempts for seven yards and gaining another seven yards on the ground. There was not much to evaluate here and barring injury, there is no question he will be the unmatched number two this season. This game, at quarterback, was all about Tommy DeVito.

-DeVito, a North Jersey local, passed for 155 yards on 15/24 passing. He threw 1 touchdown, 1 interception, and was sacked 5 times. While the pass protection was poor overall, as we see often in preseason football across the league, I saw a couple of things I liked. First, DeVito improved in-game and moving through reads in a hurry. The All-22 tape told the story there. Progression to progression, layer to layer. Now, he did miss a few throws and early on his internal clock was too delayed. However, I like how he responded to a few big hits. He is a tough kid with sneaky athletic ability. He warrants the “let’s see more” label.


-Saquon Barkley did not dress and Matt Breida barely saw the field. Rookie Eric Gray and Jashaun Corbin saw the most snaps, but James Robinson got a few looks before them. He had an unimpressive 9 yards on 6 carries. It will be interesting to see how much his experience (and possible trustworthiness in pass protection) weighs when coaches knock the roster down. Gray and Corbin have a lot to prove before they can be relied upon. While their talent and youthfulness can make the decision look easy, the coaches need to trust they can get the job done outside of carrying the ball.

-Gray handled all return duties in addition to leading the position group in snaps. First, on offense, he lacked innovation and comfort to put himself off schedule when the Detroit front was owning the point of attack. I saw two carries where the cutback lane was there, Gray did not see it. He gained just 9 yards on 5 carries and added 2 catches for 10 yards. As a returner, Gray looked uncomfortable to say the least. But keep in mind, he barely did it in college and both of his punt return attempts in 2021 (the last time he did this in a game) resulted in muffs. My thought is they know he will not be the number two back right away (and he is competing for number three), thus they need to find other ways for him to contribute.

-Corbin looked more comfortable and ran with quicker tempo. It was easy to tell the difference between the two. His 33-yard run in the fourth quarter was the biggest play of the game for the NYG offense. Remember, this is an offensive scheme that produced the fourth best explosive rush percentage in the NFL last year. The play design (and Corbin’s tempo) was outstanding. When the execution is there, they will create big plays on the ground.


-The following receivers did not dress: Darius Slayton, Paris Campbell, Sterling Shepard, and Wan’Dale Robinson (PUP)

-With all of the hype from camp surrounding their first real deep threat in quite some time, Jalin Hyatt, I was hoping to see a long ball tossed his way at some point. It did not happen. His only target was a screen pass that ended up in a four-yard loss after he ran backwards. Two subtle observations on him. He did not line up in the slot at all (his primary spot in college). That is a good sign, it is too crowded in there for him. Second, his route running looks easy and smooth. He did struggle to fight through some cheap contact, but I was impressed by the joint fluidity from his hips down through the ankles. He came off the field so some of the fringe-guys could play more.

-To be blunt, I have no idea what the plan is at slot receiver. The two best NYG receivers were Cole Beasley (4 rec / 33 yards) and Jamison Crowder (2 rec / 32 yards). Between them and Shepard/Robinson, I simply cannot see a scenario where all of them are on this roster come week one. Beasley has the best route running and burst post-catch. He knows how to read a defender and can provide what Richie James did last season. Crowder stood out though. He has more presence against contact, and I trust his hands more. Perhaps they are just a hedge if there are physical issues with the guys mentioned above and I know they were matched up against backups. No need to get excited, but the floor is high with either of them.

-David Sills caught 2 passes for 36 yards, including a nice, contested catch for the biggest gain of the day for NYG via the air (22 yards). Mr. Reliable when it comes to backup roles, locker room presence, and familiarity. With all the competition at the position now, however, and the fact I expect to see Hyatt/Campbell outside, Sills is fighting uphill.

-Undrafted rookie Bryce Ford-Wheaton could end up challenging veteran Collin Johnson if the team wants more speed with the size. My guess is they both end up on the practice squad. The first NFL game action did not go well for him. He dropped a third down conversion pass, as he tried to body trap it for no reason. While he had some of the most impressive triangle numbers in the 2023 receiver draft class, his skill set (particularly ball skills) was bumpy. I also did not like some of the urgency / effort upon second look at the tape with some of his routes. He is straight line fast, but he is not very sudden. He needs to improve where he can as a route runner. The little things matter.


-Both Darren Waller and Daniel Bellinger did not dress. Expect to see NYG rank top seven in the league in 12 personnel (2 tight ends / 1 back) if they stay healthy.

-The battle for the number three job is Tommy Sweeney’s to lose, another North Jersey local. He scored the lone touchdown of the night on a 14-yard pass from DeVito. I keyed in on his blocking more than anything because that is where his biggest contributions will come. The NYG offense has struggled here for awhile. With Bellinger entering year two and the presence of Sweeney, I expect an uptick in impact. He did a nice job in the running game, but he did allow a pressure in pass protection.

-Undrafted rookie Ryan Jones is an interesting practice squad candidate. He had a 10-yard reception, 5 of which came after the catch with an impressive, sudden burst upfield. I had a draftable grade on Jones out of East Carolina. The 6’1/240 body simply does not fit at receiver of tight end. Can this scheme find a role for him? He can create. Among all tight ends in FBS last season, Jones ranked third in missed tackles forced. More than Sam LaPorta, more than Michael Mayer, more than Brock Bowers. On less catches.


-If there was a negative takeaway from the game itself, it came from the backup offensive linemen, specifically outside. Before that causes a panic, you’ll find the same from over 25 other teams in the league. The lack in supply of quality backup offensive linemen in the NFL is one of the most glaring deficits. Andrew Thomas, Mark Glowinski, and Evan Neal (concussion) did not play. Backup Tyre Phillips did not play either.

-We can start with the positive. Rookie center John Michael Schmitz did have two bad losses, one of which resulted in a tackle for loss, but his overall performance was solid. His transitions and ability to stay attached proved how much movement he can get in the running game. Creating creases on multiple levels in the middle of the defense for a back like Barkley will be a difference maker. Is he overly strong and powerful? Detroit rookie defensive tackle did not think so. Is overly fast and agile? The Detroit linebackers did not think so. But the intelligence, technique, and smoothness to his footwork can get the most out of what he has. I was encouraged by his first pro action, and I expect him to start week one.

-The next best takeaway from the game was Shane Lemieux, who came in at left guard in the second half. There is open competition between Joshua Ezeudu and Ben Bredeson (the leader in my eyes) at left guard. Did we push Lemieux out of the picture too soon? The game tape says yes. He was excellent and was the best at staying latched on with good positioning and bend. Most of his issues have been health related.

-The nightmare we saw at tackle was alarming. Wyatt Davis at right tackle absolutely cannot be a potential solution. This is an odd experiment to me. Davis played 1,707 snaps in college. All 1,707 of them were at right guard. He has one career snap at right tackle as a pro. One. I cannot imagine he is a credible candidate for a backup tackle spot and the 2-sack, 3-pressure, 2-penalty performance on just 27 snaps is about as bad as it gets. He was not even close to competitive. Fellow backup hopeful Korey Cunningham was not much better. He led the offense in snaps played, splitting time between both sides of the line, and allowed 2 sacks and 4 pressures. Lastly, Matt Peart (hanging on for dear life) allowed a pressure and was torched in the running game. The speed of the NFL is too much for him and I am afraid to say the same issues we saw with his fluidity as a rookie are still there. The Giants have a problem (possibly a significant one) at backup tackle.


-With the position group thinner than most want to believe, the trio of Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, and Jihad Ward all sat this one out.

-There is room for another edge defender, and it looks like it could end up being a close competition over the next two weeks with a possible solution currently on the street. The leader in the clubhouse if we are using this game only? Habakkuk Baldonado. Something about this franchise and names that are hard to pronounce on the edge. He had a 2 pressures and the team’s only sack. There was a nice string of plays in the fourth quarter where he sacked Adrian Martinez (canceled out by a questionable roughing penalty), just to record another one two plays later. The wins were technique and bend-based, both good signs.

-Tomon Fox hit the quarterback twice on 14 pass rush attempts, the first one aiding in the interception by Jason Pinnock. His power game has always been effective, and I have to think the defensive coaching staff (especially one led by Martindale) wants that behind the starters.

-Tashawn Bower and Oshane Ximines both graded out well. Ximines hit the quarterback twice but was beat on the edge in the running game twice. The fact we have seen him play a lot of football leaves out at least some potential hope, but I am interested to see how he responds to multiple guys on his level. Bower played a better, more well-rounded game against second/third stringers. He finished with 5 tackles, 1 TFL, and 2 pressures. This guy came into the league in 2017 from LSU. He has stuck around quite impressively and performs his best in hybrid fronts. I can’t say I’ve seen a fifth-year backup that has already been on four teams fight for a spot at such an important position. They see something in him.


-Inside is where the nucleus of this defense resides. I spoke of this a few times last year and I am glad that not only did both Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams return, but the A’Shawn Robinson and Rakeem Nunez-Roches signings give them such a strong spike in depth. None of the four played in this game.

-Rookie seventh rounder Jordon Riley played 43 snaps, third most on the defense. Ironically, I just got done watching two of 2022 Oregon defensive tapes for some 2024 NFL Draft work. Never thought I’d be watching three games of Riley’s within two days. The body is pro-caliber and when his leverage is on point, the upper body lockout and push can get the job done. This is a massive frame with good enough bend and forward lean to turn into a stout run defender. While I don’t think there is much to work with as a pass rusher, D.J. Davidson better realize his roster spot may not be there for long. Riley had a couple of ugly losses (again, stemmed from pad level) where he was trampled by a double team. But the one stop where he helped stuff the run after peeling off the block displayed what he can do at his size. There is real talent here on a frame that stands out.

– The trio of Donovan Jeter, Kobe Smith, and Brandin Bryant will likely produce one or two guys for the practice squad. Based on this game tape alone, Smith is the one that I am intrigued by the most. He has some penetrating skills from the 3-tech spot (where he played most of the night) and that is an area I think could use another body.


-The biggest free agency addition Bobby Okereke did not play, nor did Darrian Beavers.

-Micah McFadden got the start next to the versatile special teamer Carter Coughlin. Both are what they are until I see otherwise. Smart and physical but limited in space with minimal passing game impact.

-If there was a winner of the night from the position, it was Dyontae Johnson, an undrafted rookie. All of his action came against backups, and we see linebackers/safeties make plenty of tackles and impressive plays against the run with each preseason game. Johnson’s question will be like what we saw out of Tae Crowder. Can he make faster reads, and will he get off blockers? He did not look fluid in coverage either.


-Adoree’ Jackson did not dress for the game, as he remains one of the most important players on this team because there isn’t anything trustworthy behind him yet. In even better news, they did not have him return any punts either.

-Speaking of behind Jackson on the depth chart, the chatter is rightfully positive surrounding their two draft picks. First rounder Deonte Banks and sixth rounder Tre Hawkins got the starting nods on the outside. Take where they were selected out, and it was hard to see who the better player was. Hawkins really has started on the right foot and Banks showed the speed traits we know this team was hot after draft weekend. In this man-heavy scheme, both looked at home. Banks can clean up his ball location and Hawkins was a late to anticipate routes (more so in zone), but a very positive first look for both.

-Cor’Dale Flott and Darnay Holmes are going to be battling it out for the nickel spot, I think. Part of it could depend on the team’s plans for the first rounder Banks. Both Holmes and Flott saw most of their snaps inside and by this time, we know what Holmes is. If you can live with the inevitable penalties, he is a solid option. Watching Flott’s footwork and recovery speed with such little wasted motion was encouraging. He is undoubtedly more “natural” at covering receivers than Holmes.

-The fringe guys at the position need to be worried. The likes of Rodarius Williams and Zyon Gilbert are going to have a hard time making this team. Even former Lion Amari Oruwariye looked slow in pursuit after losing leverage on a crossing route. Aaron Robinson on the PUP will help one of their causes, but I also would not rule out another free agent being signed after preseason (like how they brought in Fabian Moreau and Nick McCloud last season).


-Xavier McKinney and Nick McCloud both did not play. I’m not sure how high the staff really is on McCloud, but these other safeties are making a name for themselves.

-If there was one position group that “won” the intra-roster position battle, it was right here. On just FIVE snaps, Jason Pinnock broke up two passes, intercepting one and breaking up a third down attempt on the other, and had a TFL. Talk about impact. There was not a single defender that played less than him, but he was the group’s top playmaker. He is an ascending player.

-Beyond him, it stayed strong. Undrafted rookie Alex Cook led the team with 7 tackles, 2 of which were near the line of scrimmage. Seventh round rookie Gervarrius Owens broke up a pass and added 2 tackles. His break up was a result of a fast read and react that had a break on the ball start before it was thrown. His size complements his game well.

-Bobby McCain is the closest thing to Julian Love this team has right now. While he does not (and the defense does not) need to fill those shoes the exact way Love did, McCain played multiple spots in the secondary and looked fast. He had 5 tackles and brings a physical brand. He is not as big and does not tackle like Love did, but this tape showed the quick reactions and ability to both close and cover in multiple forms.

-I hope nobody is overlooking Dane Belton. He added 2 tackles and an interception. The 2022 team leader in interceptions (along with Love) saw his share of ups and downs as a rookie, but now healthy and with a year under his belt, I would bet he is a huge part of the plans for the defense. I cannot remember a time with such a deep and versatile safety group on one NYG roster. This gives them such advantages week to week based on matchups.


K Graham Gano: 2/2 (Made 42, 47).
P Jamie Gillan: 5 punts / 47.6 avg – 28.2 net


-S Jason Pinnock, CB Deonte Banks, OG Shane Lemieux


-WR Bryce Ford Wheaton, OT Wyatt Davis, OT Korey Cunningham


1. Remember the name Ben Johnson. At this time next year, he will be a Head Coach in the NFL. The Offensive Coordinator for Detroit is just 37 years old and when it comes to getting the most out of personnel, there may not have been a more economic play caller in the league than him last season. Unless he falls apart in 2023, he will be the next young offensive-minded hire in the league. Washington seems like a real possibility to me, unfortunately. He has a few connections to that front office.

2. In the same breath, Detroit will not sneak up on anyone this season. And I question how smart the construction process of the roster was this past offseason. Running backs Jamaal Williams and DeAndre Swift? Gone. Wide receiver Jameson Williams is suspended 6 games. They are going to rely on a rookie tight end (odds are this will not work well) after trading T.J. Hockenson away last summer. Jared Goff has hit a peak and come crashing down a year later before. Can he create enough with the questions they have in the passing game?

3. Detroit is the hot pick to win the NFC North. We all know Minnesota was not near what their record said they were last season. Aaron Rodgers is finally out of Green Bay. Chicago was the second worst team in football last year. I believe the NFC North will be as close as any divisional race in football. I’m not ready to anoint the Lions yet, however. It’s been 20 years (!) since they won the North. The fact remains, this team was 3-6 against teams with winning records last year. They were 30th against the run. Their pass rush ranked 25th. They allowed the most first downs per game in the NFL. A few free agent signings won’t change all of that. I am keeping them in the 8-9 to 9-8 tier.


1. The rule of preseason football: Do not react strong to anything (besides injuries). These games almost never mean anything at the end of the day. They can confirm a few things (like the thin offensive line) but they will not answer nearly as much as people think. Watch some new players, start to take in their skill sets, and check for surprises. Do not make the mistake of over-thinking a rookie (good or bad). They still have such a long way to go.

2. Someone asked me what position group excites me the most. Right now, it is the secondary (little cheating there, I know). Between the group of safeties that credibly goes six-deep (maybe seven) along with some promising young guys on the perimeter has to get you amped up. That is how a defense can win games, and with a pass rush, I expect the Giants to be top half of the league. We are not even close to the best version of defensive football under this new regime. They are going to be fun to watch.

3. What are the improvements or changes we want to see from preseason game one to game two? Personally, I would like to see Hyatt more involved. They need to try and script a couple deep shots to him so they can see how he tracks the ball, fights for it, and plays the body position game in real live situations. Defensively, seeing a few different personnel packages on third down would be my next thing. Whether the starters play or not isn’t as important. I want to see some of the edge guys shift inside, some of the defensive backs come up on the edge, and some of the inside linebackers blitz. Nobody plays as aggressive as Martindale and watching the Jets get home against Carolina in week one preseason opens the door for NYG to do the same.

May 012023
Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee Volunteers (November 16, 2022)

Jalin Hyatt – © USA TODAY Sports

1) Draft Pick Number (round) : Name – Position / School – height/weight

2) NFL Comparison (Skill set and style of play – not future projection)

3) Summary from Report (from early spring) + Pre-Draft Giants focus (from early April)

4) Post-Draft focus and my perception of strategy, usage (short and long term), and value

1) #24 (1): Deonte Banks – CB/Maryland – 6’0/197

NFL Comparison: Kelvin Joseph / DAL

Senior entry. Three-year starter but two of those years summed to just five starts combined because of Covid-19 (2020) and a shoulder injury that kept him out of all but two games (2021). Honorable Mention All-Big Ten in 2022. Banks is a bit of an unknown because the lack of experience over that two-year span. That said, he did start as a true freshman in 2019 (11 games, 8 starts) and looked fantastic in 2022 (12 games, 8 starts). The movement traits are nearly off the charts and his aggressive playstyle will be attractive to defensive schemes that want to use a lot of man coverage. His rapid-fire footwork allows him to stay sticky and the long speed pairs with acceleration traits to stay on top of pro deep threats. There are not a lot of plays made on his tape and I’m not sold he completely understands what he is doing yet. Banks is a wildcard that could make a case to be the top corner in the draft because of talent and traits, but there are question marks in a few of the mental areas of the grade sheet.

*Banks tore it up at the Combine and this is a position that everyone wants to see traits at, then gamble. Banks’ movement ability shows up on the film, there is no denying his ability to play against NFL speed. The question will be how quickly he adapts mentally. He simply did not play a lot in college, and he was not challenged often enough. Like a lot of these other corners in the group, this will be a big swing for the fence and his shortcoming centers around size/length.

*A quick note on what I mean by a lack of experience and him not being challenged. Of the first six outside corners taken, Banks played the lowest number of snaps and was targeted the least (by a lot). It is not a negative, and I did not hold it against him in the grading process. I simply believe it should be known there is a rawness to him, a few boxes unchecked. That lengthens the spectrum of what he could evolve into over time. It seems rather clear to me that this was the corner Martindale wanted. He fits the mold of the Baltimore corners that were drafted when he was calling the shots there. Blazing speed, easy turn and run ability, play strength, and ball skills. I expect him to start in year one, possibly as soon as week one if he has a strong camp and preseason. Let’s use Marlon Humphrey as an example. He was a first-round pick in 2017 (16th overall) while Martindale was the linebacker coach (Martindale was also considered assistant DC and took over the DC role a year later). Humphrey, who had a very similar profile to Banks both as an athlete and amount of college experience, began his rookie season in a rotational role. They eased him into more and more playing time and then he ended up starting the final four games. He has been essentially their number one or two ever since. That is where I see Banks heading.

Prior to the draft, I was asked on multiple platforms where NYG would go in round one. My answer was always corner or receiver. Sure, a value could have fallen at another spot but if was going bet money on it, the CB/WR was always option A. Hearing Schoen discuss the mindset as two corners and four receivers came off the board from picks 16-23 caused the trade up one slot with JAX. The value of the trade, by the way, was completely within market value. It was not an overpay. NYG had reason to believe that pick was going to be traded regardless because they likely had intel JAX was going for a tackle (which could be had later in round one). JAX ended up taking Anton Harrison at 27 following another trade down. Year one of this regime was about starting the rebuild of the trenches and enhancing the quality depth. Year two was about getting the explosive playmakers and preventing explosive plays by the opposition. Macro-level, this is the right approach. Micro-level, Banks was the right fit considering what Martindale wanted and the untapped upside Banks has.


2) #57 Overall (2): John Michael Schmitz – OC/Minnesota – 6’3/301

NFL Comparison: Ted Karras / CIN

Sixth year senior. Four-year starter from Flossmoor, IL. Named All-Big Ten three straight years including a first team honor in 2022. Also named a first team All-American in his final season. Schmitz is the point guard of the offensive line, fully capable of making all the calls and directing traffic. He does all the little things right and it adds up to consistent, reliable play. He excels in the running game with his combination of heavy contact and excellent footwork. While he is not the most natural athlete, he makes up for a lot of the shortcomings with proper angles, spacing, and timing. Schmitz has a great feel for when to peel off to the next man and his hands do a lot of damage. The shortcomings as a pass blocker on an island and occasional lapse in body control can cause some concern, but the floor is high for him. Schmitz has the mental capacity and reliable run blocking to fit into any situation right away and compete for a starting job, but this is a low ceiling, high-floor kind of player.

*Want a plug and play center that will immediately become the mental leader of your line? Schmitz is your guy. Want a high-upside athlete that is going to eventually be one of the top players at the position in the league? Look elsewhere. Schmitz is a classic “is what he is” type prospect. You know what you are getting, you know what you are not. One negative I could see NYG having on him is the fact he never played a position other than center. In addition, the already-24 year-old simply lacks more area to chew up on the progression curve. Will he provide the best OC play this team has had since…O’Hara? Probably. The question is about positional value, and everyone has an opinion on that. I like Schmitz, as do many in the league. But he only becomes an option for me in round 3, and I think he is gone by then.

This just seemed right. That was the thought that immediately came to mind when the pick was made. Round 1 for Schmitz would have been way too high. Round 3 for Schmitz probably would not have been possible. Schoen opted to stay put, not trade up, and get a starting center that will be in the league a long time. Regardless of what is said by Daboll, I fully expect Schmitz to be the starting center week 1. This locks in four spots along the line with a competition for the left guard job that will be incredible to watch throughout camp/preseason. Schmitz will improve the run blocking and eventually the overall cohesion of this line. While he may not be a star, he is going to be the guy for four to five years, at least. That alone improves chemistry and chemistry alone raises the bar of an offensive line.

As stated above and as I said leading up to the draft, the process of building the offensive line was not over and it had to be addressed in this draft with the mindset of getting a starter in the building. Center was a hot topic, as it was the lone spot where the team did not have a set starter (a case can be made for left guard as well). This prompted many to bang the table for a center in the first round and that is a move we may have gotten used to with the previous three General Managers. This is yet another sign things really have changed inside those walls. The lone question that can be asked here is, what is the gap between Schmitz and another center that could have been had later? Not always a fair question, I know. But Olu Oluwatimi (Michigan) went in round 5, Luke Wypler (Ohio State) went in round 6, Jake Andrews (Troy) went in round 4, Ricky Stromberg (Arkansas) went in round 3. Was the value of Schmitz right? In a vacuum? Sure. When considering the big picture while also knowing they passed on the likes of WR Marvin Mims and OG O’Cyrus Torrence, it can be questioned. But to repeat myself from earlier, NYG seemed to value him and there was not shot he would have been there round 3. He likely would have come off the board to Houston or Buffalo just a few picks later.


3) #73 (3): Jalin Hyatt – WR/Tennessee

NFL Comparison: Will Fuller / RET

Junior entry. One year starter from Irmo, SC. First Team All American and SEC honors in addition to winning the Biletnikoff Award. Hyatt was one of the country’s breakout performers in 2022, leading the power five conferences with 15 touchdowns. Coming into the year, he had just 502 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He nearly tripled that in his junior season alone. This is the kind of speed that changes how an opposing defense plays. There is a lot of unknown in his game, however. He is inexperienced in contested situations, he rarely lined up outside, and the route running on anything besides vertical-routes needs a lot of refinement. While the speed is next-level and he will immediately become one of the best deep threats in the NFL early in his career, there is a lot that needs to be gained for Hyatt to be considered a formidable number one threat.

*The one prospect in this group that I would label THE swing for the fence is Hyatt. If you can recall my comparison for him, Will Fuller, and what he did for the Houston offense pre-injury (#1 in NFL in yards per target in 2020, #3 in 2018) you may want to consider taking him in the first round. Even though he is such a one-dimensional guy, his ability within that dimension is potentially special. And that dimension is also what every team in the league wants on offense and fears defensively. Credible deep speed that can get over and stay over the top of the defense. Throw in the fact he tracks and catches the ball at a high level and yes, he could easily end up a first rounder. Personally, I struggle with number of boxes that remain unchecked. The route tree, strength against contact, sudden change of direction, yards after contact. There is a lot to unwind here but I would be lying if I said he doesn’t excite me.

How does a guy like this fall out of the first two rounds? If you asked me to bet on him being taken in round one or round three, all my chips would have been put on the former. While almost all of his production in college came in one season and there are several boxes unchecked, speed kills in the NFL. Everyone wants it. Hyatt’s elite movement was the easiest thing to scout in the world. Watching him separate vertically in such a hurry and then lengthen that space with each step against SEC defenses really was something. He has a standout trait that nobody in this NYG position group has. Sure, Campbell and Slayton can get downfield, but Hyatt is on a different level. In addition, the trait he has but very few talk about because they are obsessed with the speed centers around his ball skills. Hyatt can track the ball over his shoulder, and he snags it with his hands. It is one thing to be a burner that gets over the top, but not everyone can track the ball with balance while maintaining speed. That is why I am optimistic about his upside.

The trade value chart I use says this was a dead-even exchange. NYG gave up their 3rd and 4th to move up 16 spots. This is an evaluation I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for. I discussed (and so has everyone else) the upside and element he brings to the table. Hyatt truly is the most exciting player in this NYG draft class. But there is no denying the risk. Hyatt has been thrown the ball 151 times over his career. Jordan Addison was targeted 144 times in 2021 alone. Zay Flowers, 124 times in 2022 alone. Just 14 career starts for a kid that played in an offense that almost never had guys change sides of the field or alter alignments. There were passing plays where he did not even have to run a route because of the half-field concept. The 176-pounder rarely dealt with contested situations. According to PFF, he had a grand total 13 of them his entire career. Addison? 49. Flowers? 41. Johnston? 54. Mims? 30. Tillman? 39. Now, perhaps it is unfair to throw some of those names in there because all of them besides Tillman were taken way ahead of Hyatt, but the point is that Hyatt is such an unknown. After a year of the Daboll/Kafka offense, however, I feel optimistic this is going to work out. Hyatt can change this offense. Both the trade up and selection were undoubtedly warranted.


4) #172 (5): Eric Gray – RB/Oklahoma – 5’9/207

NFL Comparison: Mark Ingram / NO

Senior entry. Three-year starter from Memphis, TN. Spent two years at Tennessee before transferring to Oklahoma for his final two seasons. Second team All-Big 12 in 2022. Ended his career with almost double the usage and production of any other season in his career, finishing with the ninth most single-season rushing yards in Oklahoma history. Gray brings a tremendous physical profile and body to the table. He looks like he is manufactured in a running back factory and has the quality tape to back it up. He can fit into any running scheme but will be best suited for action between the tackles. There is where he can truly maximize the plus-burst, balance, and strength. Gray also has proven to carry a pair of elite hands as a receiver. While he may not end up with the best long speed in the group, Gray will create explosive plays with how decisive and violent he can run downhill while always maintaining the ability to abruptly stop and change direction. Gray is an ideally-built, versatile team player that fits into the every down role at the next level.

*Gray was a favorite of mine when it came to the surface level scouting. He is not a very big guy, but he is huge in the right places. His lower half is put together almost like Saquon. His short limbs work well with the kind of movement we need to see out of running backs. Short, choppy, balanced movements that can get in and out of small spaces in a hurry. When he reaches the open field, he can be caught from behind but do not overlook just how much his burst can create initially. Gray is a guy that, if he hooks up with the right team (SF, PHI, BAL) – he is going to be a 1,000-yard rusher. An overlooked attribute in his game shows up as a receiver. He was targeted a lot (102 times last three years combined) and dropped just two of them, a very good number for anyone let alone a back with power.

It was a long start to day three for NYG. Because of the two trade ups, they had to watch 99 players come off the board before selecting again. Because of the difference in values from team to team, this is the area of the draft where players “drop” frequently. It must have been hard for Schoen to see so many guys go, some of which I am sure they had high value on. #128 overall and #160 overall formerly belonged to them but they had to watch other teams make those picks because they wanted Banks and Hyatt. Many speculated NYG taking a running back at some point in this draft. In a 7-round mock I did with one of the other scouts from Ourlads for the Draft Guide, I took Jahmyr Gibbs for NYG in round two (who ended up going #12 overall Thursday). I bring that up because I think the position was on the table all weekend. The long-term status of Saquon Barkley is very much an unknown. My gut is leaning toward 2023 being the final year we see him in blue.

This selection gives NYG a solid year to find out what Gray can be at the next level. I have long viewed him as a pro back, a guy that will outlast multiple running backs drafted ahead of him. Seeing him on tape and you think he is a 225 pounder. The lower body is thick, almost Saquon-thick. But the lower-than-perceived weight stems from the fact he is not a broad guy at all. In fact the sub 72” wing span was the fifth smallest of all the backs at the Combine. He has short limbs and a specific body type. It helps him with power production and short area burst but will cap his long-stride speed and ability to pass protect and keep tacklers away from his frame via the stiff arm. Very similar body type to Ahmad Bradshaw. Gray can take Gary Brightwell’s spot on this depth chart by the end of 2023, but it will not come easily. His receiving skill set is an overlooked component to his game but then again, those short arms will pop up on third down the most. And Brightwell will not be giving anything up without a fight. I see Gray as the second-best pure runner on this team and even if he isn’t THE guy long term, I trust his skill set and its ability to translate to the league a lot. NYG fans will love the natural ability to see and cut like a classic ideal zone runner. Great value here at the end of round five.


5) #209 (6): Tre Hawkins III – CB/Old Dominion – 6’2/188

NFL Comparison: Greedy Williams / PHI

Fifth year senior from Temple, TX. Spent two seasons at Trinity Valley Community College before transferring to Old Dominion. Had his first season there canceled due to Covid-19. He started two years on the outside and produced across the entire stat sheet. He puts together an impressive blend of tools catapulted by elite vertical speed and burst. Once he diagnoses the route, his reactionary skill are sudden, twitchy, and explosive. He does not hesitate against the run and will attack the ball carriers hands, forcing fumbles (six over his career). Hawkins III lacks the feel in zone coverage and is late to notice underneath routes, but the tools are all there to develop him into a quality backup down the road. PFA.

*I did not write more than that on Hawkins III leading up to the draft. I had three Old Dominion tapes, and I left the scouting process with a PFA grade on him. His name came back across my email after an alert that comes from a certain echelon of Pro Day workout performances. I gave the numbers a look and while they did boost his overall grade on the stack, it kept him below the mark. Apologies if that isn’t enough on him.

There was something interesting I noted, however. The 4.40 surprised me. One of my game notes says “Potential move to S”. The school at him listed at 6’3”. The scouting list I get over summer had him as a projected 4.60 forty (that is from a pro scout). His tape then showed some lack of lateral fluidity, but he was obviously a physical kid that played downhill with violence. He was good tackler, and I trusted his ability to catch up to receivers vertically. All of that and his name was introduced as a “defensive back”. This has me wondering if he is the guy they play to move into the hybrid CB/S role or even someone they will try to develop as a straight safety. On paper, it makes sense to me. The film backs it up, too. Regardless, this was a traits-led selection that also brings a physical/aggressive approach to the table. Remember that day three is also about building special teams (returners and coverage units). That is where Hawkins III will start off and he has a path to the 53-man roster.


6) 246 (7): Jordon Riley – DT/Oregon – 6’5/338

NFL Comparison: Jonathan Ford / GB

Sixth year senior from New Bern, NC. One year starter that arrived at Oregon (his fourth stop) after stints at North Carolina, Nebraska, and Garden City Community College. Riley is a mammoth-sized interior defensive lineman that played his best football in his final year of eligibility. The natural bender shows an accurate punch with quality lockout. The ball location skills need work, and he does not have much of a pass rush repertoire. He is overly reliant on the bull rush because of past knee issues, there is not much drive behind it. He is a long-term project that is older than the average prospect and will not offer a lot of versatility. The lack of baseline athleticism will limit the ceiling beyond a camp body.

*I can see what NYG liked in Riley. He is a massive body in every direction. He will fit right in next to the likes of Dexter Lawrence and A’Shawn Robinson. The initial hand strike and lockout strength will look good, and he is simply a hard guy for linemen to get movement on. This is a classic 3-4 nose tackle all the way. Remember last year’s 5th rounder DJ Davidson was the emerging backup interior run defender before he tore his ACL. Riley could be a safety net for that role, but my guess is he will stick to the practice squad while this defensive staff tries to enhance his pass rush repertoire. Where is the upside? It will stem from the power, length, and technique because his athletic ability is bottom of the barrel.


7) 254 (7): Gervarrius Owens – S/Houston – 6’0/195

NFL Comparison: Kerby Joseph / DET

Fifth year senior. Four-year starter from Moore, OK. Spent three seasons at Houston after transferring from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M where he also started and was a JUCO All-American. Owens was a cornerback for a year before transitioning to safety in 2020. His size and movement traits better with what we see in the middle but there is enough speed and fluidity to occasionally play a corner role here and there. Owens is an explosive, well-built missile from the back end that can really put his foot in the ground and go. His closing speed gets him to where he needs to be in a blink. Owens will flash big play ability but he also flashes big mistake potential. He sells out on his initial read and will get caught by looks-offs and double routes routinely. The missed tackle rate also strengthens the “all or nothing” feel to his game. If he can channel some of the aggression and improve his ability to finish plays, Owens can be a starting caliber safety. If not, he will be a special teamer and quality backup. 4th-5th round.

*Owens is a guy I remember first watching in November. As I have said a few times, my focus had to be majority offense this year and I was forced into playing some catch up on the defensive guys. Anyway, I watched two plays of his and immediately put him in the draftable tier of the my safety stack. Two plays. I think he could have gone a lot higher than this too but the numbers game caught up to him. Owens could have easily been a 5th round pick. The trait I like the most is ball tracking and it is easy to see the former receiver/corner in him. The safety group now has a lot of competition and I would say Owens will fit right into the tier of the guys that hope to be backups and special teamers. He is just as talented. This will breed the best results from these guys throughout preseason.


Overall, this seven-player draft class was simply the next step in their rebuilding plan. As I said earlier, this is a front office and coaching staff with a real plan. Both from the personnel side and player development side. They came into the draft knowing they would not be able to solve every issue. This was and is a roster with several holes and it was not realistic, considering the resources available, to patch them all up with a few picks. They have had two drafts together so far and it included 8 draft picks in rounds one through three combined. 3 offensive linemen. 2 wide receivers. 2 cornerbacks. 1 outside linebacker. Assuming their key picks pan out, expect year three to continue the trend of those premium positions (pass rusher would be next). Start prepping for the 2024 Draft!

Apr 262023
Bryce Young, Alabama Crimson Tide (November 26, 2022)

Bryce Young – © USA TODAY Sports


Layout of the Preview:

1) Brief Positional Overview
2) Top 10 Prospects. Includes Grade, NFL Comparison, Summary, Extra Thoughts

*Comparisons are more about physical profile and play style, NOT projection

3) Grades only: 11 – 16

*Grading Scale:

90+: All Pro
85+ Pro Bowl
81-84: 1st Round / Year 1 Contributor / Starter
79-80: 2nd Round / Year 1 Contributor / Year 2 Starter
77-78: 3rd Round / Contribute by end of Year 1 / Year 2 Starter
74-76: Early Day 3 / Special Teams / Future Backup / Possible Starter
71-73: Mid-Day 3 / Special Teams / Future backup / Gamble Starter
68-70: Late Day 3 / Back End of Roster / Practice Squad / Developmental
65-67: Preferred UDFA
60-64: UDFA

4) Positional Approach – Draft Weekend


What a difference a year can make. The new leadership of NYG decision makers declined the fifth-year option on Daniel Jones a year ago. It was not punch to the gut, as Jones was drafted by a previous regime and did not have a lot of success in his early years. What it was, however, was a mark in the sand for Jones to get past. He had to prove it the hard way. Even during training camp when I saw some struggles in person, I was already thinking about the 2023 Draft class and what it was going to offer at quarterback. Well, nine months later he is locked into a long-term contract that currently averages top ten in the league when it comes to per-year spending and guaranteed money at signing. While this does not cross off the position from overall draft needs (backup Tyrod Taylor has just one year left on his deal), Jones is the guy for the foreseeable future.


1) Bryce Young – Alabama – 5’10/204

Grade: 83

NFL Comparison: Russell Wilson / DEN

Junior entry. Two-year starter from Pasadena, CA. 2021 Heisman Trophy Winner, SEC Offensive Player of the Year, and All-American. Two-time first team All-SEC. Young is an elite innovator that has a special ability to create on his own. He knows when to stay within the scheme, makes the right decision to adjust at the right time, and plays his best football in the most difficult moments. The initial hesitation that stems from his diminutive frame is credible. There are almost no long-time quarterbacks that have sustained success in the league at his size. His two years of tape, however, show countless flashes of high-level playmaking, leadership, and productive play. Young is simply the player you want with his hands on the ball in tight games. His versatility is hard to defend, and his maturity is way beyond his years. Young has proven over and over that his brain, unique skill set, and leadership traits can overcome the issues that could come from a lack of sheer size in more ways than one and is fully capable of being the face of a franchise under center.

*Man, what a long process this was. Young has been the quarterback I have spent the most time on since I started scouting professionally. The voice inside my head kept saying “No”. You can’t have a guy this small playing quarterback, you just can’t. But the film says otherwise, the QB coaches I speak with say otherwise, and big moments say otherwise. In a very bizarre quarterback class to say the least, Young is the guy I want with the ball in his hands at the end of the game if my life was reliant on his result. I trust his decision making, I trust his arm talent, I trust his innovation. Young will be fighting an uphill battle his entire career and every time a Dexter Lawrence fall on top of him, I am going to shut my eyes and hold my breath. Every, single, time. He does finish as my QB1 – but man this would be a hard card to hand in if my job relied on it.

2) CJ Stroud – Ohio State – 6’3/214

Grade: 82

NFL Comparison: Derek Carr / NO

Third-year sophomore entry. Two-year starter from Inland Empire, CA. Two-time first team All-Big Ten, two-time All-American, two-time Heisman finalist, and two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Stroud finished first and second respectively in the country in passing efficiency in 2021 and 2022. Ohio State went 21-4 in his starts. He is atop the single game passing records in the historic Rose Bowl. Keep discussing Stroud and you will run out of breath talking about how many things he accomplished in the two years after Justin Fields left for the NFL. Stroud is simply next in line from the program’s productive list of passers to make their way into the NFL. The production is off the charts. He won a lot of games. The question will be how much of these results derived from the system and elite talent at receiver and how much of it came from Stroud? The tools and intangibles pass all the tests and Stroud can make a strong case to be considered the best pure passer Ohio State has ever produced. Stroud is coming from a program that can cause at least some hesitation when it comes to projecting his college success to the NFL, but his ascent and performance on the toughest stages of his career combined with his outstanding arm talent are worth taking a chance on to be a credible, big-time NFL quarterback.

*What gave Stroud a fighting chance to finish as my QB1 was the arm talent. Simply put, I believe his ability to throw the ball is better than everyone in the class. Not just power, not just accuracy, not just touch – but the sum of them all. Stroud is smooth, he is confident, and he got better in big moments when comparing 2021 to 2022. Does the recent history of OSU quarterbacks strike some fear into you? I would not look down on anyone that felt that way. It isn’t just the system – but the receivers and O-Line. You would have a hard time finding a better combination of talent AND a bigger gap between his team and weekly opponents than what Stroud had at his disposal. If he did not elevate his game the way he did in 2022 in big moments – I may have kept him out of round 1.

3) Anthony Richardson – Florida – 6’4/244

Grade: 80

NFL Comparison: Cam Newton / FA

Junior entry. One year starter from Gainesville, FL. A career that started off in the Covid season and the decision to play Emory Jones in front of him in 2021, Richardson had to oddly wait until 2022 to get the full-time starting job for the Gators. It was his lone full season atop the depth chart, thus he enters the league with 13 starts under his belt. When looking at the combination of elite tools that he has put into motion on multiple occasions, it is hard to see just how high the ceiling is from where he currently stands. He has the body of a tight end, the speed of a receiver, and the contact balance of a running back. He complements that with top-shelf arm strength and a lightning-quick release that produces a tight spiral throw after throw. Richardson’s inconsistent ball placement and footwork are fixable indeed, but the near-blank canvas will present a lot of risk. There is a lot of unknown simply because he did not get on the field enough in college and the track record for quarterbacks in this situation is not a good one. The tools are the best in the class at the position and an offense that can build the scheme around him with patience is the most ideal route for him to trek on. Richardson brings to the table but the contrast between his good and bad combined with a lack of experience makes him a tremendous boom or bust prospect.

*What is your detailed plan for him? That is the first question I am asking the Head Coach / Offensive Coordinator prior to drafting him. Baltimore set the template with how they handled Lamar Jackson and the fact they constructed an offense for and around him. The amount of starts he had scares me the most. Sure, the inconsistent ball placement/accuracy woes are frustrating. The turnovers are too many. The adjustment to the NFL will take him some extra time. But since 2010, here is the list of guys that started under 18 games in college: Cam Newton, Mitch Trubisky, Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, Trey Lance, Mac Jones. I don’t love the idea of taking him round one but there are generational traits here. I see a lot of Newton by the way. Newton without the weird personality could have been special.

4) Will Levis – Kentucky – 6’4/229

Grade: 80

Fifth year senior. Two-year starter from Madison, CT. Began his career at Penn State where he redshirted and started two games, backing up Sean Clifford. Levis, a two-time team captain, played under two NFL offensive coaches. His 2021 coordinator was Liam Coen, who previously coached quarterbacks for the Rams. His 2022 coordinator Rich Scangarello, who previously coached quarterbacks for the Niners. That exposure will give him a slight head start into pro-caliber scheming, game planning, and overall demands. Levis has the prototype profile for today’s quarterback. He is a big, strong, and physical kid that could fit in with the linebackers. His muscle mass if functional. He has a cannon for arm and his base is incredibly thick and strong. The two-time team captain was a brilliant student, one that graduated undergrad in three years and then obtained his masters over the course of his two years at Kentucky. He is a tough kid with intelligence and good leadership traits. All the talent and tools are there but the consistency was not. Levis had such a roller coaster tenure with Kentucky, and he did not win the starting job at Penn State. At some point, the tools need to evolve into dependable play that can be relied upon week to week. He never quite got there. Levis will come into the league with top ten talent for the position, but it will take a quality coach and system to bring him along slowly but surely if they want him to play at a dependable level of consistency.

*Levis was the guy I projected to be number one heading into the 2022 season. A foot injury and poor supporting cast hurt his case in a big way. But we can’t pretend the issues started and ended there. Levis did not play well, he did not make those around him better. He did not elevate his game in big moments. It is hard to ignore the fact he looks, moves, throws like a prototype. The fact he played under two separate NFL offensive minds is a positive. When all is said and done, Levis just has the feel of a first-round pick. What ends up happening with him is a mystery and I have asked myself if I needed a QB in the top 10, do I take him? After a long time scouting his tape, I am a no.

5) Hendon Hooker – Tennessee – 6’3/217

Grade: 79

NFL Comparison: Joshua Dobbs / CLE

Sixth year senior. Four-year starter from Greensboro, NC. Spent four seasons at Virginia Tech and two at Tennessee. 2022 SEC Offensive Player of the Year and Third Team All-American. Hooker took over the starting job for Tennessee a couple weeks into the 2021 season and changed the trajectory of the program. A year later, he took home the SEC Offensive Player of the Year Award and nearly led them to the College Football Playoffs. Playing under the Air Raid scheme, Hooker proved he can drop the ball in a bucket downfield, create with his legs, and play a tough brand of football. A torn ACL late in the year and the fact he is already 25 years old can cause some hesitation when looking at the long-term projection. This is a top-shelf young man with talent and proven success at the highest level of college football. At the very least, he is a great addition to the quarterback room with the upside of a solid starter. Hooker is a mature, battle-tested leader with an equal distribution of talent from his arm and legs with that will be a great addition to a quarterback room with quality starter-upside.

*I like the intangibles of Hooker enough to consider him in round one. The knee and age (combined) are enough to bump him down a notch. He will be 26 when he sees his first NFL action. That is approaching Brandon Weeden territory. But even if you don’t see a starter – he will be important for a team. Remember, one can make an argument the backup QB is more important than some of the starting spots in today’s NFL. He is tough, he is a leader, he is smart. I think someone is going to trade up for him toward the end of round one to let him compete for a job in 2024.

6) Jake Haener – Fresno State – 6’0/207

Grade: 76

NFL Comparison: Taylor Heinicke / ATL

Fifth year senior. Three-year starter from Danville, CA. Spent one season at Washington before transferring to Fresno State in 2019. Three-time All Mountain West including the first team honor in 2022 despite missing four weeks due to injury. Haener falls below the ideal measurables for the position. He barely stands at six feet and further lessens the reach and radius with below average arm length and wingspan. He is going to fight an uphill battle off the snap his entire career. Beyond that, however, this is a tough gamer that can stand figuratively tall and brave in the face of pressure. The lightning-fast release and ability to put some extra RPM’s on the ball from his torque can make up for some of the physical shortcomings. He scored 81 touchdowns and threw just 18 interceptions over his career. The constant ascent in his game is a positive sign of what is to come at the next level. Haener will be a smart and usable presence in the quarterback room even if he does earn a starting job. He brings a noticeable level of energy and leadership to the offense that can hold the ship together if the starter goes down. Do not sleep on his potential to evolve into a quality starter as well. Haener projects as a backup at the next level but there is a sense of intrigue around the combination of talent and intangibles that are worth considering as a starter down the road if the system is friendly to his skill set.

*In a class where the likely #1 overall pick is being heavily scrutinized for a lack of size, not enough is made about Haener and his diminutive frame. I know it is at least somewhat different because Haener is being projected for backup duty, but it still needs to be discussed. His wingspan is smaller than Young’s. His playing weight was under 200 pounds. He tied for the smallest hands among quarterbacks at the combine. I do not want to beat him down further, but these are things that need to be considered if you are at all concerned by the Bryce Young size; it would not make sense otherwise. Anyway, I like the style in which Haener plays with and it reminds me so much of Heinicke. It was one of my favorite comparisons in the class, I saw it instantly.

7) Dorian Thompson-Robinson – UCLA – 6’1/203

Grade: 75

NFL Comparison: Tyrod Taylor / NYG

Fifth year senior. Four-year starter from Las Vegas, NV. Three-time All-Pac 12 honoree. Thompson-Robinson turned his back to the NFL after a strong 2021 season where he led the conference in several passing metrics, including total touchdowns and yards per game. He left his mark on the UCLA program, leaving as the all-time leader in total offense, passing yards, completions, and touchdowns. Over the course of 48 career starts, Thompson-Robinson scored 116 times. This is a dynamic and versatile threat that plays the game with unshakeable passion and toughness. There is a competitive juice to his game that very few can match and if channeled correctly, it can elevate his game. He fits in well with what the league wants out of its quarterbacks. There will be plenty to work on both as a passer and reader of the defense, but the traits are worth a day three gamble. Thompson-Robinson is an athletic, high-powered thrower that can make all the plays both as a runner and passer if he stays on a disciplined path.

*I am higher on DTR than the market and I will tell why. This is not algorithm-based, this is not based on analytics. It is a feeling. NYG would be smart to maintain an athletic presence behind Jones on the depth chart. The QB-running is a big part of the scheme and success. Let’s stay away from a Mike Glennon or Jake Fromm type, even if they look good throwing the ball. They need a competitive gamer behind Jones. Someone that is standing on the sideline, foaming at the mouth waiting to get his shot. They need a good teammate, one that will do things away from the field and on his own to make the team better. And lastly, they need someone that can bring energy to the field should Jones go down. DTR checks all those boxes at adamantly. Again, not the biggest guy, but I am OK with it. The league is shifting toward this kind of quarterback, and I think there are elements to DTR many overlook. I would invest an early day three pick in him even if it meant keeping three quarterbacks on the 53 all year.

8) Clayton Tune – Houston – 6’3/220

Grade: 72

NFL Comparison: Tom Savage / RET

Fifth year senior. Four-year starter from Carrollton, TX. First Team All-AAC in 2022. The three-time team captain set a conference record with 40 touchdowns in his final go-round. He finished his career top five in school history across multiple key categories, including wins. Tune is a sizeable framed, well put together, classic pocket passer that can drop dimes down the field. He has a knack for putting the ball in a bucket on vertical routes with the pocket awareness plus maneuverability to stay alive under pressure. He is not a great athlete and there are a few shortcomings on the move, but if he can be protected just long enough, he has the skill set to move the ball and score points. Tune has the experience and has shown the ability to lead his team to a pile of wins. How smoothly he can morph into an NFL-style offense will dictate a lot when it comes to his trajectory and ceiling. Tune projects to the backup tier of quarterbacks at the next level but there is a wide spectrum of outcomes when transitioning from a Dana Holgorsen scheme to the NFL.

*The classic drop back, downfield thrower has some of the best sustained production in the class. He also threw 10 interceptions each of the past three seasons. He also comes from an offensive scheme that has struggled to produce NFL talent. Tune has his fans, some that think he is the #6 guy in this class. I don’t see anything special, although the arm talent is real, and he is a big, thick kid. The pre-draft meetings for him will be very important when it comes to how well he does on the whiteboard and with interactions between coaches.

9) Jaren Hall – BYU – 6’0/207

Grade: 71

NFL Comparison: Sam Howell / WAS

Fifth year senior. Two-year starter from Spanish Fork, UT. Will turn 25 years old before the draft. He is married and has a daughter. Hall comes from an athletic family, as his brothers and parents have played different sports for BYU. Hall himself was a two-sport athlete in college, also playing Baseball for the Cougars for two seasons. He missed 2020 with an injury, the final year Zach Wilson was the starter. Since then, he has scored 54 touchdowns, thrown just 11 interceptions, and went 18-8 as the starter. His arm talent jumps off the screen and he is an excellent scrambler. Hall does some of his best passing work on the move. There are multiple issues with his footwork, and he has multiple shortcomings when it comes to size. The NFL will have to weigh the risk / reward of his consistent glitches found on tape with his plus-talent as both a thrower and runner. Hall’s maturity and intangibles will be a welcomed addition to any quarterback room. Hall makes several NFL-caliber throws look routine and there is a mature competitive mindset here that can maximize his talent. He projects to a backup role but there is something in him that can evolve into much more.

*Similar to the comment about Haener and his lack of size, Hall is in the same discussion. His wingspan is even smaller than Haener (almost 2 inches smaller than Bryce Young). Hall has more thickness to him, however. When I see the best of Hall, there is some Zach Wilson arm talent in him. Very snappy thrower that can change up the angles with ease. He is an underrated athlete, too. Hall can make a strong case for himself but the adjustment to the NFL scheme will be tough (Wilson’s lack of success does not help him) but this is a mature kid that will do the work. I like him as a backup prospect to look at day three if that is a goal of this front office.

10) Aidan O’Connell – Purdue – 6’3/213

Grade: 71

NFL Comparison: Ryan Finley / RET

Sixth year senior from Long Grove, IL. Two-year starter full time, but also started three games in both 2019 and 2020 respectively. Two-time All Big Ten. After beginning his career as a walk on, O’Connell had to scratch and claw his way to the top of the depth chart. He finally got ahold of the starting job during 2021 season and took off. He went over 500 yards twice that year, a first in program history. He also set school records in completion percentage and passing efficiency. The production was paired with turnovers (24 interceptions over his last two years) and a lack of impact in the running game. He is a pure pocket passer that excels at getting the ball out quickly but there are times he doesn’t seem to know what he is throwing into. With a player this old and experienced and one that lacks plus-athleticism, O’Connell simply needed to be better by this point. He projects to a backup role, and nothing more. O’Connell can be a valuable intangible-based asset to a quarterback room, but the below average anticipation and talent put a severe cap on his potential.

*I have been told a couple times by people I trust to re-consider my grade here, that he needs to be higher. I did go back and look at everything – my opinion remained unchanged. O’Connell is an awkward mover in multiple ways. He moves away from pressure like he has cinderblocks tied to his cleats. The throwing motion is inconsistent. Now, if you are looking for intangibles out of your backup more so than talent, I can see it. He will be a nice addition to a QB room, he can be an extra coach. That may even be his future in the league like Kellen Moore.

11 – 16

11) Tanner McKee – Stanford – 6’6/231: 71
12) Stetson Bennett – Georgia – 5’11/192: 70
13) Tyson Bagent – Shepherd – 6’3/213: 70
14) Chase Brice – Appalachian State – 6’2/236: 69
15) Max Duggan – TCU – 6’1/207: 69
16) Adrian Martinez – Kansas State – 6’2/221: 68


There is still a high demand for quarterbacks in the league. I’m not sure everyone understands how big that demand is (it was a key reason why Jones got the contract he did). Add in the fact there are at least two 2024 quarterbacks who are going to grade out higher than everyone in this class (and last class too), the unpredictability of this market is wild right now, maybe an all-time high. I could see four quarterbacks going in the top ten (a first-time ever). I could see just two quarterbacks going in all of round one. Simply put, NYG is fortunate not to be caught up in the mess of trying to find their next franchise guy right now considering where they are picking. Nobody will criticize or feel uneasy if they ignore the position altogether, either. They have a solid backup in Taylor and what they need behind Jones can be found rather easily year-to-year. With that said, if they see a real QB value, the position could be a strong consideration to use a day-three asset on a player. Locking in a backup for below-market value pricing for three to four years can allow more spending elsewhere. The one stipulation would be the fact they would have to use a 53-man roster spot on a third quarterback. When injuries pile up elsewhere on the roster, that can be prohibitive. Drafting a quarterback would be much more about 2024, 2025, and 2026 than it would be about 2023. That is the consideration and then you have to also love the player. Interesting situation to follow here.

Apr 242023
Bijan Robinson, Texas Longhorns (October 2, 2022)

Bijan Robinson – © USA TODAY Sports


Layout of the Preview:

1) Brief Positional Overview
2) Top 15 Prospects. Includes Grade, NFL Comparison, Summary, Extra Thoughts

*Comparisons are more about physical profile and play style, NOT projection

3) Grades only: 16 – 31

*Grading Scale:

90+: All Pro
85+ Pro Bowl
81-84: 1st Round / Year 1 Contributor / Starter
79-80: 2nd Round / Year 1 Contributor / Year 2 Starter
77-78: 3rd Round / Contribute by end of Year 1 / Year 2 Starter
74-76: Early Day 3 / Special Teams / Future Backup / Possible Starter
71-73: Mid-Day 3 / Special Teams / Future backup / Gamble Starter
68-70: Late Day 3 / Back End of Roster / Practice Squad / Developmental
65-67: Preferred UDFA
60-64: UDFA

4) Positional Approach – Draft Weekend


Saquon Barkley was the #2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. A much-debated pick because the value of running backs in relation to the economics of production that lead to wins and the usage of salary cap allocation, Barkley played out the five years of his rookie deal. He won Offensive Rookie of the Year and finished as a Pro Bowler. The next three seasons saw 21 missed games and just eight rushing touchdowns. Under his fifth-year option in 2022, Barkley bounced back, playing in 16 games and making his second Pro Bowl. This led to the franchise tag, as the NYG front office has not fully committed to his long term future with the organization. Matt Breida was re-signed to back him up along with the ascending Gary Brightwell. Only Brightwell and the 2022 undrafted free agent, Jashaun Corbin, are under contract beyond 2023. While the group looks strong on paper, the future is very unknown.


1) Bijan Robinson – Texas – 5’11/215

Grade: 88
NFL Comparison: Dalvin Cook / MIN

Junior entry. Three-year starter from Tucson, AZ. 2022 Doak Walker Award winner and unanimous All-American. Two-time first team All-Big 12. Robinson is the factory-made prototype for any offense, any era. His skill set will present weapons for the running and passing games respectively right away. The combination of elusiveness and contact balance makes him a tough ball carrier to get on the ground but then he adds the finishing touch of elite runaway speed and short area quickness to create and lengthen separation from defenders. He has wide receiver-caliber hands, understands how to protect himself, and shows the knack for the big play in big moments. Robinson is a day one starter in any scheme with the ceiling of quickly being one of the top backs in the league. Robinson is an elite playmaker that left the Texas program as one of most productive backs in school history and has every tool in the box to be a superstar at the next level.

*Not much needs to be discussed here. Robinson is one of the best running back prospects I have ever scouted. I still think he is going top 10, but many think he will not. It will be interesting and fun to see what happens because this is not a traditional running back with traditional value. Robinson could grade out as a day two wide receiver if he wanted to. What sets him apart is the ability to break tackles and gain yards after contact. That is the number one trait I look for and he is the best to ever do it. There are a few holes in his game, and he is the typical new age guy that wants every play to be a highlight. If he can do some of the dirty work and always fall forward, he will be a better player. If NYG had a shot at him at #25? I’ll plead the fifth. “Trade down”.

2) Jahmyr Gibbs – Alabama – 5’9/199

Grade: 83

NFL Comparison: James Cook / BUF

Junior entry. Two-year starter from Dalton, GA. Spent two seasons at Georgia Tech where he earned first team All ACC and second team All American honors as an all-purpose player in 2021 before moving on to Alabama, where he earned second team all SEC in 2022. Gibbs chose to take a step up in competition, both in-house and with his opponents. He responded with a career year, leading the Crimson Tide (by over 2x) with 132.3 all-purpose yards per game, second in the conference. He can wear multiple hats on offense and special teams, as the only objective here is to simply get the ball in his hands. Gibbs has such fluid movement patterns below the waist in all directions. It looks like he is on ice skates with how easily he can change direction and explode. He has home-run speed, receiver-caliber hands, and a good feel for where the creases will appear. This is an ideal skill set for today’s pro running back. Gibbs will be an immediate asset to any passing game and has shown the elite movement traits both in crowded areas and in the open field to create explosive plays weekly.

*Gibbs is one of the fastest 12 running backs to run at the combine since 2000. The other names on that list are exciting including the likes of Isiah Pacheco, DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, Jahvid Best, CJ Spiller, Chris Johnson, Reggie Bush…etc. The smaller guys on that list? They all had durability issues. Even though he was a pretty durable back in college, he’s never had more than 200 touches. Gibbs is a weapon for any offense and if I think he is deserving of a first round slot. Just know he can’t be the guy that gives you 20 touches a game. But his hands, routes, and movement traits are exactly what defensive coaches hate to deal with. Gibbs may see a fall because of positional value and if someone does get him round 2, it will be one of the top values of Friday night.

3) Zach Charbonnet – UCLA – 6’0/214

Grade: 80

Grade: Adrian Peterson / RET

Senior entry. Started games in both years he spent at Michigan before transferring to UCLA in 2021 where he also started for two years. Two-time All-Pac 12, first team in 2022. Charbonnet hit a bump in the road after a strong freshman season in Ann Arbor, where he earned third team All-Big Ten honors. His playing time diminished the next season and it led to the transfer. He was then able to put his full ability on display week to week, getting just under 500 carries over his two seasons under Chip Kelly. Charbonnet’s body and body of work scream NFL. He has well-distributed muscle mass with tremendous thickness around his hips and calves. That size along with precise footwork and forward lean breaks a lot of tackles. He has the look of a guy that can handle a full dosage of carries in addition to providing excellent hands in the passing game and upper tier blocking. He does it all. This is an ideal fit for a starting job in a gap-heavy scheme. Charbonnet is everything a starting caliber back needs to be when looking at the well-balanced skill set, body, and mentality.

*Rewind 15 years ago and I strongly believe Charbonnet is a first-round pick. I think he played closer to 225 pounds by the way but likely shed some weight for the sake of his workout. Just above I wrote that Gibbs may be the ideal fit for today’s running back. While Charbonnet may be a decade too late to be considered a top-notch prospect, there is still a place for a guy like this. 566 carries, 2 fumbles. Targeted 90 times, just 5 drops as a receiver. His footwork is so precise and the way he breaks through cheap contact and will constantly “fall forward” leads me to believe he can be the leading ball carrier on a team right away. This is as pro-ready as possible no matter what role you need a back to do. Will also be one of the top pass blockers at the position in the league right away.

4) Tank Bigsby – Auburn – 6’0/210

Grade: 78

NFL Comparison: Isaiah Crowell / RET

Junior entry from LaGrange, GA. 2020 SEC Freshman of the Year and second team all-conference. Bigsby exploded on to the scene right away with 834 yards, second most in program history by a true freshman. Even though the team around him went backwards, especially up front on the offensive line, Bigsby continued to evolve and make plays. He has explosive movement traits on a well-sized frame that can break through cheap tackle attempts and get away from defenders in space. When things are timed well, Bigsby can break off big plays as both a rusher and receiver. He is a high-upside player that brings some extra unknown because of the lack of talent he played with over his career. Bigsby has enough potential to be labeled a dynamic threat at the next level but there are concerns about his vision, ball security, and consistency of effort.

*Ball security and overall impact as a receiver. Those are the two red flags that bumped him down a few notches. Beyond that, I am a high on Bigsby. It took me some time to finally get to him but after doing the deep dive, I see the vision and aggressive run-style that can make big difference at the next level. Bigsby will be line-dependent more than most backs. He is not overly explosive or shifty when it comes to reactions. He simply just gets the ball and runs to his point as fast as he can. Fun kid to watch with big upside if he cleans up his issues. Quietly left Auburn as one of best backs from a program with a storied tradition at the position.

5) Kendre Miller – TCU – 5’11/215

Grade: 78

NFL Comparison: Alvin Kamara / NO

Junior entry. One-year starter from Mount Enterprise, TX. First team All-Big 12 honors in 2022. His third year with the program was the first and only time Miller was the team’s top used back. He responded with the fifth most single season rushing yards in program history. Miller has the NFL body and run style to adjust smoothly into the NFL. He carries most of his weight above the waist, promoting his sudden quickness and ability to play shifty in traffic. He is a physical player that welcomes violence and knows how to stay centered against it. Miller gains plenty of yards after contact and shows the gear to get away in space. He is an every-down back that will favor a physical downhill attack preferably with zone tendencies. Miller brings a well-balanced skill set to the table and was a consistent force after contact throughout his entire career, a trait that translates well to the NFL.

*The Kamara comparison is more about measurables and running style. Miller’s contact balance and vision are special and that is a big reason why Kamara has had success. The other half of Kamara’s game that is elite shows up in the passing game. I’m not sure I see that with Miller. Just as a pure runner, Miller is one of my favorite backs in the class. He will not be a big play guy, but he is going to annoy the heck out of defenses. Broken tackles, excellent vision, and yards after contact. This is a guy that presents starter-value possibly in round four, which is where I project him to go.

6) Zach Evans – Mississippi – 5’11/202

Grade: 77

NFL Comparison: Chuba Hubbard / CAR

Junior entry. Spent two seasons at TCU where he started games both years. Transferred to Mississippi for 2022 where he was also split starting duties. Evans is a complete package back with the prototype combination of speed and size to immediately contribute in the NFL. He has elite movement traits across the board that look loose and flexible, but twitchy and explosive. He is a home-run hitter (6.9 yards per carry over career) with the right mentality. While his greatest attributes are movement-based, Evans shows plenty of toughness and grit. He opted to challenge his skill set in the SEC by transferring, showing the inherent competitive mindset. He only improved his stock with how he played against the country’s top week to week talent. Evans flashed superstar potential but needs to clean up specific components to his skill set before being relied upon as a top back. Evans was never the focal point of a running game, but it could work in his favor. He comes into the league with plenty of tread left on the tires in addition to his combination of size and speed complementing his running style well.

*Evans is a little shaky when it comes to character and maturity. There will need to be some extra digging into off-field habits. On the field, I sometimes use the work “unique” and “stand-out”. Evans averaged 7 yards per carry with just under 300 carries in his career. That really is an amazing number. The 3 fumbles in 2022 bothered me a bit and there are some holes when it comes to vision. But when it comes to pure running, acceleration, and upside, Evans is one of the top three in this class.

7) Tyjae Spears – Tulane – 5’10/201

Grade: 77

NFL Comparison: Shane Vereen / RET

Fourth year junior entry. First team All-AAC in 2022 and won the Conference’s Player of the Year award, the first time a non-quarterback has taken home the hardware. Spears missed most of the 2020 season with a torn ACL and then bounced back with just under 2,500 yards on just 360 carries (6.8 avg) in two years. This is a big play back with elite burst, balance, and runaway speed. The size and bendiness make him a weapon after contact, and he was among the nation’s leaders in explosive runs. Spears is an ideal complement to a power back that can fit into any scheme that will excel in space, but will not be big enough to carry an every down load. Spears will be a good secondary threat in the backfield, one that specializes in explosive plays in space.

*Spears is a kid I boosted up quite a bit later in the process. The combination of his Senior Bowl and bowl game against USC is not a huge sample size, but there were a lot of “wow” moments. I love this kid’s running style. He is aggressively patient, tough, and wants every inch. He has a lot of dog in him. Can he hold up at that size with this style? That will be the question. A kid that tore his ACL in 2020 came back and produced just under 7 yards per carry over the following two season, Spears simply has the natural traits that will show up when opportunities are there. Get him a #2 job and be ready to hear his name called.

8) Deuce Vaughn – Kansas State – 5’5/179

Grade: 76

NFL Comparison: Tarik Cohen / CHI

Junior entry. Two-year starter from Round Rock, TX. Three time All Big 12 and two-time first team All American as an all-purpose player. The 2020 Big 12 Freshman of the Year is the son of Cowboys Assistant Director of College Scouting, Chris Vaughn. Deuce exploded on to the scene right away as a true freshman and never looked back. He ranked sixth in the country in all-purpose yards in both 2021 and 2022 respectively. While his frame is nearly off the charts in the wrong direction, Vaughn is one of the few that can play running back in the NFL at the diminutive size. He is hard to find in traffic and moves with tremendous agility, burst, and long speed. His greatest impact will likely come as a pass catcher, but do not sleep on what he can do as a rusher. Vaughn will need a specific role and scheme to be most effective, but the unique skill set and impact on the passing game will be viewed as a hard-to-defend weapon in the passing game especially.

*I bet grades on this kid will be all over the place. But if you remember what the Patriots did with Dion Lewis and James White or the Eagles did with Darren Sproles and Brian Westbrook, that is where I envision Vaughn. He is not the number one of number two back, he simply has his own position. A scat-back that will destroy linebackers in the passing game. He carried the ball 293 times in 2022, 235 times in 2021. In a 17-game season, I would not expect him to see even half that load. But what he can do in the passing game can be such a big-time asset. I am saying it right now – if NYG can get him day three I will be all over it.

9) Roschon Johnson – Texas – 6’0/219

Grade: 76

NFL Comparison: Chris Carson / SEA

Senior entry from Port Neches, TX. Started games each of his last three seasons but was never considered the number one back. Earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors in 2022. Was a dual threat quarterback recruit out of high school. Moved to running back because of injuries at Texas and never looked back. Johnson is a football player above all else. He can make things happen as a runner, receiver, blocker, and a tackler on special teams. He shows all-out effort all the time. He packed on weight after making the transition to the backfield and special teams but was able to maintain his plus-speed. Paired with the aggression and power, Johnson makes his presence felt weekly. He is not the most graceful runner with the ball and his style highly favors gap over zone schemes. But if a team gets him on the back end of a depth chart and finds ways to use the skill set and mentality, Johnson is going to create the hidden elements that win games. Johnson is the ideal teammate and 48th gameday player that will wear several hats, and wear them dependably.

*When a program has an absolute star at a position from the beginning of his career, always give the backup an extra look. That is principle of mine every cycle. Bijan has been a star at Texas from day one. Add in the fact Johnson was a quarterback until 2019 (and in high school), one can only wonder just how early on the progression curve he is. Johnson lacks polish and feel as a runner, but this dude can pick up yards in an NFL offense. His value as a top-notch cover man on special teams and the fact he is incredibly smart/coachable will get him extra looks draft weekend. This is a high-floor player with the mindset everyone wants in the locker room.

10) Eric Gray – Oklahoma – 5’10/207

Grade: 76

NFL Comparison: Mark Ingram / NO

Senior entry. Three-year starter from Memphis, TN. Spent two years at Tennessee before transferring to Oklahoma for his final two seasons. Second team All-Big 12 in 2022. Ended his career with almost double the usage and production of any other season in his career, finishing with the ninth most single-season rushing yards in Oklahoma history. Gray brings a tremendous physical profile and body to the table. He looks like he is manufactured in a running back factory and has the quality tape to back it up. He can fit into any running scheme but will be best suited for action between the tackles. There is where he can truly maximize the plus-burst, balance, and strength. Gray also has proven to carry a pair of elite hands as a receiver. While he may not end up with the best long speed in the group, Gray will create explosive plays with how decisive and violent he can run downhill while always maintaining the ability to abruptly stop and change direction. Gray is an ideally-built, versatile team player that fits into the every-down role at the next level.

*Gray was a favorite of mine when it came to the surface level scouting. He is not a very big guy, but he is huge in the right places. His lower half is put together almost like Saquon. His short limbs work well with the kind of movement we need to see out of running backs. Short, choppy, balanced movements that can get in and out of small spaces in a hurry. When he reaches the open field, he can be caught from behind but do not overlook just how much his burst can create initially. Gray is a guy that, if he hooks up with the right team (SF, PHI, BAL) – he is going to be a 1,000-yard rusher. An overlooked attribute in his game shows up as a receiver. He was targeted a lot (102 times last three years combined) and dropped just two of them, a very good number for anyone let alone a back with power.

11) Devon Achane – Texas A&M – 5’8/188

Grade: 76

NFL Comparison: Trenton Cannon / TEN

Junior entry. One-year starter from Missouri City, TX. Earned first team All-SEC honors in 2022. Also a member of the Texas A&M track and field team, running short distance races and posting some of the fastest times in school history. Achane is near the Olympic level when it comes to speed, and it shows up on film. The easy burst and next gear are always enough to outrun angles. He is not a player that will be caught from behind. His play style fights the stereotype of track athletes that put the pads on. He is tough and hard-nosed. He puts his shoulder down into a pile of tacklers. And he succeeds between the tackles. Achane is an elite, explosive athlete that can show up in the passing game, obviously in the running game, and on special teams. While there are a few physical restrictions that come with a frame this size, the right usage is going to inject explosive plays into the offense and points on to the scoreboard. Achane’s game is built on speed and burst that can be used in more ways than one but should not be the feature back early in his career.

*The speed is Chris Johnson-caliber. The kind of speed that can change an offense in a hurry. But how many backs were drafted and sustained a 5+ year career at running back that weighed in under 190 pounds at the combine since 2000? Besides the 5’6” Darren Sproles? Zero. You need to consider that when deciding whether to draft him. Is the idea of him realistic? It is fun, but what are the odds he can hold up? Of course, he can put some weight on and I am sure he will, but most backs do. And how much does that eat into his movement traits? And it’s not like his shuttle/3-cone times are great. Achane is worth a gamble at some point, I agree. Day three is the only time I think about it.

12) Israel Abanikanda – Pittsburgh – 5’10/216

Grade: 75

NFL Comparison: Jay Ajayi / RET

Junior entry. Two-year starter from Brooklyn, NY. First Team All-ACC and a consensus All-American in 2022 after leading the country with 11.6 points per game and finishing second in all-purpose yards per game. The former high school track star (100 M) plays an explosive brand of football attached to a credible NFL-dimensioned body and advanced vision. He has the kind of do-it-all skill set that screams number one back in specific schemes. Abanikanda is a little thin below the waist, but he can accelerate in such a hurry that is transforms into power. He can run with force between the tackles but what makes him a true threat is what happens in the open field. He erases angles of pursuers and only lengthens the gap between him and the other team the further into space they get. Abanikanda will bring life to any backfield with a bias toward a zone scheme and there is icing on the cake with is kick return value. Abanikanda will not be a fit for every scheme, but his size/speed combination will be among the best in the class, and he has true home-run ability every time he gets the ball.

*I am surprised there is not more chatter about this kid. We did not see a full exposure of him during the Kenny Pickett era. Pickett (and Addison) leave town and Abanikanda breaks out, leading the ACC in rushing and finishing as an All-American. He is such an aggressive downhill runner that turns that plus-speed into power. Maybe he doesn’t always know what he is doing or where to go, but what he showed in one year of being a feature guy behind a shaky-at-best offensive line and no other talent to speak of on offense? This may be one of the top five sleepers in the class.

13) Chase Brown – Illinois – 5’10/209

Grade: 75

NFL Comparison: Chris Evans / CIN

Fifth year senior. Three-year starter from Ontario, Canada. Three-time All-Big Ten and a consensus second team All-American. Son of Darren Issac, a running back that played in the CFL. Brother, Sydney, is also a 2023 draft prospect on the defensive side of the ball. Chase transferred to the Illinois from Western Michigan following the 2018 season. The high school track star redshirted after barely seeing the field in 2019 and then became their feature back from there. His usage was brought to another level in 2022, nearly doubling his career touches to that point. He ended up a Doak Walker finalist, the first in school history. Brown is a hard-nosed blazer with the kind of home-run ability that can change an offense in an instant. He was among the nation’s leaders in runs over ten and fifteen yards. He is best suited for a zone-running scheme where he can search for the crease and turn on the jets to beat defenders to a spot. The fumbles need to be cleaned up (he had a nation-high five in 2022 alone) and he may not be an every-down guy between the tackles. As a part of a committee though, Brown is the explosive threatBrown is at his best in space where he can fully utilize his plus-speed and sharp cutting ability to create big plays.

*Production played a huge part in his evaluation by the media and public. The All-American finished third in the nation in yards, second in the nation in carries. He has the look of what a back needs to look like. Thick but also fast explosive enough to create big plays. The fumbles bothered me and what he did in the passing game both as a receiver and blocker left me a bit underwhelmed. His ideal spot is a #2 or #3 behind a back or a dual-back system. He does not have a specialty, but he can play football. He can do a lot of things well enough. You need a guy like this somewhere on depth chart.

14) Sean Tucker – Syracuse – 5’9/207

Grade: 75

NFL Comparison: Chase Edmonds / MIA

Junior entry. Three-year starter from Owing Mills, MD. Two-time All ACC, including first team honors in 2021 after setting the program single season rushing yards record, a season that also earned him All-American honors. Tucker has elite athleticism in every sense of the word. The former state champion sprinter is a danger to the defense every time he is in space. All of the necessary movement traits are there both as a rusher and receiver. He has the size and pad level to hide in the shadows of his blockers just long enough to wait for a crease to open up before he shoots out of the cannon. Tucker is an advanced route runner and shows an understanding of timing and tempo to maximize the space he can create from defenders. This is a big play threat that is reliable with the ball in his hands and will work like a blue collar, seasoned veteran right away. Tucker has the traits to be an explosive playmaker and enough versatility to stay on the field in all situations, but is best suited for a number two, complementary job.

*It has not been a great pre-draft process for Tucker. He did not workout for scouts at the Combine or Pro Day due to a medical issue. The workouts are where he was supposed to shine. The former track standout had 112 carries of 10+ yards in the last two years alone, an amazing number. At his size, he had some workhorse in him. Tougher than you would think but maybe not the receiver you would think. Tucker is a nice guy to have on the back end of a depth chart because he is dangerous with the ball if he gets some space to work with. Also, a guy that won’t hurt you. Medicals will be big.

15) Mohamed Ibrahim – Minnesota – 5’8/203

Grade: 73

NFL Comparison: Giovani Bernard / TB

Six-year senior. Redshirt in 2017 and used the extra Covid year. Starter all five seasons he was on the field but missed nearly all of 2021 with a torn achilles. Two-time All American and three time All-Big Ten (’18, ’20, ’22). The 2020 Big Ten Running Back of the year left Minnesota as second all-time leading rusher and atop the career touchdown list. Because of multiple injuries below the knee, he played in just 40 games over the course of five seasons. His production and consistency were vital components to the program that was turned around by Head Coach PJ Fleck. He is simply a back that understands the nuances of the position inside and out. He displays great vision and toughness in addition to elite ball security. He always picks up the sure yards and gains yards after contact on a consistent basis. The question with him will revolve around past injuries and the amount of tread left on the tires. Ibrahim plays the position the way it should be played, a lot of teach-tape can come from his film. Whether or not he can hold up at the next level is the question.

*If one could guarantee me Ibrahim will hold up physically, he is the kind of back I am taking a chance on. I love his play-style and toughness. This kid’s picture is next to the word “gamer” in the football dictionary. The injury history, volume of touches in college, and diminutive frame do not add up to strong odds there. But for my money if this kid is there toward the end of the draft, this is a risk that is worth taking. He plays running back at a higher level right now than 90% of the backs in this class.

16 – 31

16 – Kenny McIntosh – Georgia – 6’0/204: 73
17 – Keaton Mitchell – East Carolina – 5’8/179: 72
18 – Travis Dye – USC – 5’10/201: 72
19 – Tyron Evans – Louisville – 5’10/225: 72
20 – Chris Rodriguez – Kentucky – 6’0/217: 71
21 – Camerun Peoples – Appalachian State – 6’1/213: 71
22 – Dewayne McBride – UAB – 5’10/209: 71
23 – Deneric Prince – Tulsa – 6’0/216: 71
24 – Evan Hull – Northwestern – 5’10/209: 70
25 – Hunter Luepke – North Dakota State – 6’1/230: 70
26 – Xazavian Valladay – Arizona State – 5’11/204: 69
27 – Lew Nichols III – Central Michigan – 5’10/220: 68
28 – SaRodorick Thompson – Texas Tech – 5’11/204: 68
29 – Jordan Mims – Fresno State – 5’10/206: 68
30 – Emari Demercado – TCU – 5’9/213: 68
31 – Isaiah Bowser – Central Florida – 6’0/217


This is a running back class that I like a lot. I was asked during the season which position groups were the strongest/deepest. My answer was EDGE, TE, and RB. I have not answered with RB in a quite some time. There are different flavors of backs to the point where I have a hard time projecting where guys go. It will likely come down to when teams want to pull the trigger on a position that is now becoming undervalued by the public. A good running back room is still ultra-important to offensive success in today’s NFL. If your guy is there in round one, so be it. You can find a good one day three, but then again, we can say that about every position including Brock Purdy and quarterback.

NYG should use one of their day three picks on the position. Create some competition and depth for Matt Breida and Gary Brightwell. But the elephant in the room – Saquon Barkley’s long-term future – needs to be considered. If you know he will not be here in 2024, does it change your outlook on this year’s draft? Or do you simply push this to the side and leave this position alone for a year and maybe add a piece or two in undrafted free agency? I can go either way. If a back is drafted, he needs to have a specialty whether it is special teams and/or receiving. If a big-time value present itself day two, do you bite? This offense needs playmakers and because of that, yes I take a hard look if the value is right. Everything is on the table.

Apr 222023
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State Buckeyes (January 1, 2022)

Jaxon Smith-Njigba – © USA TODAY Sports


Layout of the Preview:

1) Brief Positional Overview
2) Top 20 Prospects. Includes Grade, NFL Comparison, Summary, Extra Thoughts

*Comparisons are more about physical profile and play style, NOT projection

3) Grades only: 21-49

*Grading Scale:

90+: All Pro
85+ Pro Bowl
81-84: 1st Round / Year 1 Contributor / Starter
79-80: 2nd Round / Year 1 Contributor / Year 2 Starter
77-78: 3rd Round / Contribute by end of Year 1 / Year 2 Starter
74-76: Early Day 3 / Special Teams / Future Backup / Possible Starter
71-73: Mid-Day 3 / Special Teams / Future backup / Gamble Starter
68-70: Late Day 3 / Back End of Roster / Practice Squad / Developmental
65-67: Preferred UDFA
60-64: UDFA

4) Positional Approach – Draft Weekend


The November waiver claim of Isaiah Hodgins saved the 2022 outlook of this group. Had it not been for him, who knows where this offense would have ended up? Not bad for a guy Buffalo waived in the third year of his career after being a sixth round draft pick from Oregon State with four catches to his name. Sterling Shepard and Wan’Dale Robinson were both on injured reserve by Thanksgiving (they combined for 9 games played and 36 catches), the duo of Darius Slayton + Richie James lacked any sort of consistency, Kadarius Toney was traded to Kansas City, and Kenny Golladay…well you know. Simply put, this was arguably the worst receiver group in football. Slayton was re-signed, Golladay was released, and James left for Kansas City. The team brought back Shepard and Slayton, signed Paris Campbell, and will let Jamison Crowder compete for a roster spot. The new faces in town can lead one to the notion things look improved, and perhaps they are. Time will tell. But the needle has not been moved, NYG still has one of the worst groups of wide receivers in football until proven otherwise.


1. Jaxon Smith-Njigba – Ohio State – 6’1/196

Grade: 87

NFL Comparison: Julian Edelman / RET

Junior entry. Two-year starter from Rockwall, TX. Played in just three games (62 snaps) in 2022 because of a hamstring injury and the Covid-shortened season led to just seven games (162 snaps). Thus, 2021 was his lone full year of action. He set the Big Ten single season receiving record, leading the Buckeyes in both catches and yards on a team that included eventual first rounders Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, landing him third team All American honors. Smith-Njigba entered the 2022 season with high expectations after leading all power five programs with 1,606 yards and finishing number one in the nation with an 84.8% reception percentage in 2021. The Big Ten record-setter lined up primarily in the slot and showed advanced route running and ball skills. The standout attribute, however, is the ability to create extra yards after the catch. He is a stocky receiver with some running back-flavor to his game when working against defenders in space once he has the ball. The vision, body control, and incredible balance make him incredibly tough to take down. That physical nature shows up in contested situations as well, another area he ranked number one in the country in by a wide margin. While his soft tissue concerns will need extra screening, Smith-Njigba is a pro-ready slot receiver day one that will be a dangerous weapon in offenses that scheme yard-after-catch opportunities. Smith-Njigba carries concerns into the league that center around a lack of experience and a nagging hamstring injury but there is no denying the ability shown on tape when projecting how quickly he can make a big impact at the next level.

*Last year I graded Garrett Wilson at 85, the top WR in the class. During my real-time draft selections I do every year for NYG – I picked him for NYG at #7 overall. Smith-Njigba is the better player. They are very different, but gun to my head I am taking this kid every time. After I decided on that, I hear that Ohio State coaching staff (including great WR coach Brian Hartline) proclaim the same thing. Then I hear Wilson himself (and Chris Olave) agree that Smith-Njigba is the best of them three. Then quarterback CJ Stroud piled on. Maybe some get weary of the average (at best) forty time, I get that. But did you pay attention to the 3-Cone and Short Shuttle? They are Odell Beckham caliber, and it shows up on the field. They are all-time great. Throw in the power/strength he runs with after the catch, throw in the elite feel he shows as a route runner. This is a player I would strongly consider trading up for if he somehow got out of the top 12 and I mean it. It would likely cost the NYG 1st and 2nd rounder. This guy could change how NYG plays football.

2) Zay Flowers – Boston College – 5’9/182

Grade: 83

NFL Comparison: Jaylen Waddle / MIA

Fourth year senior entry. Four-year starter from Fort Lauderdale, FL. Three time All-ACC and a third team All-American in 2022. Flowers re-wrote the program’s record book, leaving school as the all-time leader in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. He plays in fast forward mode when comparing him to everyone else on the field. His movement traits are elite in all directions, all situations. Flowers creates separation both with and without the ball and a sense of sudden explosion. The ability to sharply change direction without any loss of speed and full balance is rare. A creative offensive mind will be able to use him on dump and runs, vertical routes, and underneath crossers at the snap of a finger. The lack of size and power against contact will need to be schemed around a bit, but that should not be a major hurdle between him and his playmaking ability. Flowers is an ideal fit for specific offenses that understand how to use the skill set he brings to the table and will create explosive plays from any and all angles.

*Flowers comes with some risk. That risk may be increased even further because of the NYG receiver group. He is nearly off the charts when considering weight, wingspan, and height. But let’s not make the mistake of calling him a slot-only. He lined up wide almost twice as often as he did in the slot. He knows both spots – something I have heard Daboll speak of multiple times with NYG and BUF. I have put together multiple projections of round 1 (mock drafts) – and Flowers has been the guy at #25 in almost all of them. Would it be more ideal to use a pick on a guy with more size? Yes. Is it a requirement with the Kafka/Daboll duo? Absolutely not. In some ways, this could be the identity of their passing game. A bunch of hard-to-touch guys that are impossible to cover with one defensive back and will create after the catch. Perhaps that is most ideal for a Daniel Jones-led offense, as we are a bit unsure about his deep vertical passing ability. If I had to make a bet on who NYG ends up with if they go WR, it is Flowers.

3) Quentin Johnston – TCU – 6’3/208

Grade: 83

NFL Comparison: AJ Green / ARI

Junior entry. Three-year starter from Temple, TX. Earned All Big 12 honors all three seasons, first team in both 2021 and 2022. Johnston is a long, strong, explosive talent that has the kind of presence that changes how a defense approaches the passing game. The long strider with elite build-up speed and leaping ability is more than just a physical marvel. Johnston is a tough, hard-nosed, physical gamer that plays bigger than his already-big frame. He is a menace to tackle, he has a credible runaway gear, and there isn’t a group of defenders or space on the field where he feels too vulnerable heading into. Johnston lacks some of the experience needed to run a quality route tree right away and he has had some ugly concentration drops but match the top-notch intangibles with the top-notch physical gifts and set them up next to the glimpses of domination and production, Johnston has superstar potential. Johnston has credible number one receiver upside both physically and mentally, but his ascent will require patience as there is still considerable rawness in his game.

*A swing for the fence that has the more-than-normal chance of ending up in a strikeout. On one end, Johnston is in very rare territory historically when matching the radius, leaping ability, and production together. Of over 800 receivers since the 2010 combine, Johnston is almost in a tier of his own when matching up all of the above. But one look at his tape and one can easily pick up on the fact he just isn’t there yet. Whether it is the above average drop rate or the fact the TCU scheme had these guys line up on the same side of the ball almost EVERY snap, there are simply a ton of boxes that remain unchecked. The one receiver that played under Sonny Dykes that fits this profile, and has had some success in the league, is Courtland Sutton. Johnston’s ceiling is special, and his skill set would be an ideal complement to what NYG has on the roster right now, absolutely ideal. Whether or not he is the guy at #25 will largely depend on the value of risk/reward when it comes to the final grading process.

4) Cedric Tillman – Tennessee – 6’3/213

Grade: 81

NFL Comparison: Tee Higgins / CIN

Fifth year senior. Two-year starter from Las Vegas, NV. Father played four seasons in the NFL in the mid-1990’s. Tillman’s initial standout trait revolves around his physical presence and play strength. He measures big and plays even bigger. He has the NFL body, and it is paired with quality movement traits that show up as a route runner across all levels of the route tree. He is a powerful and aggressive player that will pick fights on the field week after week. While receivers do not get drafted to block on the perimeter, Tillman is going to impact the game with how hard he works and how reliable he is in that department. As a pass catcher, he checks a lot of boxes when it comes to running routes and ball skills. The width of his radius and competitive nature will create an attractive target for passers. Tillman fought through an ankle injury that impeded his 2022 impact. His rehab will be important to monitor and if he bounces back fully, this is a starting outside receiver in the NFL early on. Tillman did not respond well to a strong 2021 season but part of that was injury-based, he still presents a strong offer that is derived from size, speed, and a fiery competitive nature.

*If there is a receiver that comes out of nowhere and ends up being the second one taken behind Smith-Njigba, it is this guy. Watch the 2021 tape and an argument can be made it is better than both Flowers and Johnston in addition to everyone behind him on this list. What I like the most about a guy that may not have the elite gear downfield is the fact he is dominant when he gets his hands on the ball. His drop rate is low, he attacks the ball with his hands, and his contact is strong against defensive backs. This is another guy that lined up near exclusively on the right side of the line. There may be some adjustment time needed as he gets inserted into an NFL offense. One other thing that may not make him an ideal fit here is the lack of ability after the catch. He has never been very good there. It did not impact his grade much – but it may be something this coaching staff looks down upon.

5) Jordan Addison – USC – 5’11/173

Grade: 80

NFL Comparison: Diontae Johnson / PIT

Junior entry. Three-year starter from Frederick, MD. Spent two years at Pittsburgh where he led the team in catches and yards, capping off 2021 by setting a program record with 100 receptions on his way to earning first team All American honors and winning the Biletnikoff Award. Even though the second half of his 2022 season at USC was hindered by a lower body injury, Addison showed improvement across multiple components of the position. He saw more snaps outside after lining up primarily in the slot at Pittsburgh and showed notable improvements with his ball skills. Addison is an elite route runner, showing precise and explosive cuts in and out of breaks. He understands spacing, timing, and how to keep defenders from anticipating his direction. A reliable underneath threat and excellent downfield pass tracker, there is not one level of the route tree he cannot be effective. Addison is an elite, sudden, and explosive route runner with snappy hands that will be an excellent security blanket for any passing game.

*I’m not sure where I fall in line of being “old” or “young” compared to most of you. But the name that jumps out to me the most when it comes to projecting Addison to the NFL is Marvin Harrison Sr (IND). I did not put him in the comparison slot above – but for those of you that remember watching him, there you go. Addison may have been the victim of having the bar set too high for him after winning the Biletnikoff Award and then transferring to such a high-profile situation. Anyway – this kid is an easy pro and will be around for a while. But it is hard for me to project anything special here for a guy that is slender, lacks length, has had drop issues, and may have a hard time holding up physically. The skill set is there, no question. Like Harrison, if he has the right system and quarterback, he will be very productive. But I don’t see him being someone that produces a ton on his own. Addison feels safe and I could still see him being the guy at #25 if he does well in interviews. That is one area I have not heard great things about, though.

6) Marvin Mims Jr. – Oklahoma – 5’11/183

Grade: 79

NFL Comparison: Mecole Hardman / NYJ

Junior entry. Two-year starter from Frisco, TX. Led team in receiving and earned All-Big 12 honors all three seasons including first in 2022. Set a Texas state high school record for most career and single season yards. Mims is a production-machine with home-run ability. His explosive-play potential shows up in multiple ways week to week. He can and did line up anywhere on the field, including the backfield and runs the entire route tree like an established veteran. His smooth, but sudden acceleration creates and builds separation that very few lone corners can stick with. Mims will give an offense plenty of options when it comes to alignment and play design. He simply creates production via big plays and has several pro-ready traits. Mims will be a consistent big play threat on offense and as a punt returner that can be used in a variety of ways.

*Yet another receiver that may be considered undersized, especially if you want to use him outside, near the top of the WR stack. Mims does not have many differences in his game from the guys listed above him. The area I think he stands out among them is the vertical speed and ball tracking. He gets to his top speed in a hurry and has a way of avoiding contact by defensive backs. The area I think he falls short is with the change of direction and the ability to break tackles. He does not have a power trait to his game. I like my Hardman comparison – but I think Mims is cleaner with the skill set – but there is also some Richie James I see in his game when it comes to body type and sheer strength. When a guy does not play strong (or physical) – there need to be some key components to make up for it. That is the unknown with Mims. A second rounder all day that I would feel pretty good about if increase explosive play frequency was the goal.

7) Josh Downs – North Carolina – 5’9/171

Grade: 79

NFL Comparison: Elijah Moore / CLE

Junior entry. Two-year starter from Suwanee, GA. Earned first team All-ACC honors in both 2021 and 2022. Left North Carolina as the program’s all-time single season reception and receiving yards leader after set as a sophomore. Downs is a slot-only that can run himself open on all levels of the route tree. The accomplished triple and long jumper in high school moves with tremendous short area burst underneath and couples that with the final gear to run away from cover men downfield. While the diminutive frame can pop up in traffic, Downs plays a strong and stable game which stems from his thick hips and thighs. He is the kind of underneath threat that an accurate passer can consistently rely on and one that will do more than his fair share of damage after the catch. Downs is the prototypical slot receiver that has all of the movement traits, toughness, and ability after the catch to come into the league right away and provide the much-needed third down security blanket.

*Downs is in a cluster of receivers in this class. He could be at the top or bottom of it based on what a specific team needs. You want a traditional slot? You probably will not find a better option than him. You want someone that can line up outside in certain looks and can win in contested situations? I would advise going with him last. I do not want to get too repetitive here with all of this small receiver talk, but Downs is more of what NYG currently has on the roster. The difference between him and a guy like Flowers is the fact Downs lined up outside under 8% of the snaps in college. This truly is a “slot only” that you may not want to force into an outside role.

8) Jalin Hyatt – Tennessee – 6’0/176

Grade: 79

NFL Comparison: Will Fuller / RET

Junior entry. One year starter from Irmo, SC. First Team All American and SEC honors in addition to winning the Biletnikoff Award. Hyatt was one of the country’s breakout performers in 2022, leading the power five conferences with 15 touchdowns. Coming into the year, he had just 502 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He nearly tripled that in his junior season alone. This is the kind of speed that changes how an opposing defense plays. There is a lot of unknown in his game, however. He is inexperienced in contested situations, he rarely lined up outside, and the route running on anything besides vertical-routes needs a lot of refinement. While the speed is next-level and he will immediately become one of the best deep threats in the NFL early in his career, there is a lot that needs to be gained for Hyatt to be considered a formidable number one threat.

*The one prospect in this group that I would label THE swing for the fence is Hyatt. If you can recall my comparison for him, Will Fuller, and what he did for the Houston offense pre-injury (#1 in NFL in yards per target in 2020, #3 in 2018) you may want to consider taking him in the first round. Even though he is such a one-dimensional guy, his ability within that dimension is potentially special. And that dimension is also what every team in the league wants on offense and fears defensively. Credible deep speed that can get over and stay over the top of the defense. Throw in the fact he tracks and catches the ball at a high level and yes, he could easily end up a first rounder. Personally, I struggle with number of boxes that remain unchecked. The route tree, strength against contact, sudden change of direction, yards after contact. There is a lot to unwind here but I would be lying if I said he doesn’t excite me.

9) Jonathan Mingo – Mississippi – 6’2/220

Grade: 78

NFL Comparison: AJ Brown / PHI

Senior entry. Four-year starter from Brandon, MS. Missed seven games in 2021 because of a broken foot suffered in practice midseason. Mingo is the next pro receiver coming from this program with a standout frame. His has the thickness of a running back but enough speed and juice to create plays down the field and after the catch. There is a uniqueness to his game that many other receivers do not bring to the table. Mingo’s physical nature and experience both from the slot and outside will only open more doors to his potential impact at the next level. This is the kind of player that can be used on all levels of the route tree according to matchups and situations. Mingo will have the ability to play all receiver roles for an offense that likes to move their targets around. His versatile skill set will provide options.

*It is almost scary how similar Mingo is to Brown. Both from Mississippi, height/weight almost identical, near-matching workout numbers, and similar play style. Brown was a bit more polished and productive – but I can see it with Mingo. He has a few traits this small receiver filled class do not. He stands out and whenever we see standouts that can play football well, you must consider them going high. If NYG goes into day 2 looking for size to balance out their current pass catchers, keep him in mind. There is some domination in his game – the kind of guy that can take over a game.

10) Jayden Reed – Michigan State – 5’11/187

Grade: 77

NFL Comparison: Anthony Miller / PIT

Fifth year senior from Naperville, IL. Spent one season at Western Michigan before transferring to Michigan State for the duration of his career. Four-year starter. Career has been filled with production both as a receiver and returner respectively. Freshman All-American in 2018. Two-time All-Big Ten and a 2021 All-American as an all-purpose player. Reed is an ultra-quick, ultra-explosive threat that can produce in a variety of ways. The ability to put his foot in the ground and burst into any direction at any given moment is a headache for cover men to deal with. That same loose, but assertive speed shows up with the ball in his hands both after the catch and as a returner as well. The competitive spirit is high. He is a gamer that makes big plays in big moments, coming across as a guy that is bigger than he is listed. This inside-out threat can line up and be used all over the offense and special teams. Get him the ball, enjoy the touchdowns. Reed is a dynamic playmaker with toughness that will give an offense multiple options in addition to a weapon in the return game.

*The good tape on Reed is right up there with some of the top guys in this class. He has a lot of snappy movement to his game and a tough, competitive style of play. He was not very consistent though. Some will say it was the offense he played in, which I somewhat agree with. But the drops and lack of ball security showed a lack of concentration. Add in the fact he isn’t very big, and the movement traits are rather average – some are going to struggle to see the true pro upside. Others are going to say the gap between him, and a Jordan Addison is so minuscule that it makes them feel better about passing on WR early.

11) Rashee Rice – SMU – 6’0/204

Grade: 77

NFL Comparison: Russell Gage / TB

Senior entry. Three-year starter from Richland Hills, TX. Two-time All AAC and a 2022 All-American. Set the all-time school record for single season receiving yards in 2022. Rice has been the number one pass catcher on this team for three straight years. But it was his final run that stood out the most. Playing on a bad foot for most of the year, Rice was used in a different way, seeing more downfield looks, and he nearly doubled his previous single season high in yards. Rice specializes in ball skills and making the difficult look easy. The body control and contact-strength he shows in traffic with the ball in the air is special. There are issues with some of the other skill-components to his game, mainly route running. He is far from a finished product and there is a boom or bust feel to his game. The right coach can mold him into a solid number two receiver that can impact every level of the route tree. Rice has the ability to make plays on the ball at a high level with a blend of size and toughness, but he has a long way to go before he can be considered dependable every-down player.

*Always a bit of a risk taking a receiver from an offensive system like this. Some are going to make the mistake of saying his 4.51 at the combine will make his speed questionable. His 10-yard split (1.49) was third best of every WR there and his 41” vertical tied for the best mark. On the field, Rice had a spurt during the season that put him in round 1 discussions. The size (just under 33” arms, one of the longest in class) in combination with his burst and ability in traffic to go up and get it is an attractive combination of traits. The sloppiness in his game screams need for development. In addition, there were some maturity question marks a couple years ago. A lot to unwind here but a guy that has exciting upside.

12) Tyler Scott – Cincinnati – 5’10/177

Grade: 77

NFL Comparison: TY Hilton / FA

Junior entry. Two-year starter from Norton, OH. Second team All-AAC in 2022. Scott, a multi-sport star in high school, plays with top-shelf speed and fluidity. He has the kind of straight-line burst and final Mach 3 gear to get and stay over the top of the secondary. There is more to his weaponry as an athlete, however. Scott has loose and bendy lower body joints that allow him to play free, light, and easy. He should be able to get himself open on all portions of the route tree and he excels at tracking the football. Combine those traits, mix it in with a sense of competitiveness, and a receiver that ranked top four in the AAC in his two seasons as a starter respectively comes out. Scott needs to strengthen his hand-catching and smooth out the inconsistencies, but he will immediately become one of the more explosive threats in the league. Scott brings the kind of explosion that immediately changes how the opposing defense plays and if he can strengthen his ball skills, he will be a credible deep threat.

*Are we not hearing enough about Scott? Take the timed speed out of the picture for a moment. Scott may be the fastest game-receiver in the group. Add in the fact he did not play receiver until he got to college, the former running back and track star is still early on the progression curve. The track speed is functional, he brings a lot of upside for post-catch ability, and was an effective gunner on special teams. That should give you an idea on about his toughness. Scott dropped too many balls and there are concerns about his ability to hold with his style of play. But this is the kind of speed you cannot teach and there is a credible reason to believe he still has a lot to chew off when it comes to development. Sneaky prospect that is going aa little under the radar.

13) AT Perry – Wake Forest – 6’4/198

Grade: 76

NFL Comparison: Marquez Valdes-Scantling / KC

Fifth year senior. Two-year starter from Lake Worth, FL. Two-time first team All-ACC. The former high school basketball player and long jumper left Wake Forest atop the single season and career touchdown reception rankings. His 1,293 yards in 2021 and 1,096 in 2022 rank second and third among single season highs in program history. When it comes to on-field impact, Perry was a bit of a late bloomer but once he got going, the train never slowed down. Perry has an incredibly unique athlete with a rare combination of size, bend, and balance. He does not jump off the screen when it comes to speed, but the suddenness and agility he can play with, and elite-level catch radius can do serious damage short and intermediate. He needs a well-timed passing game and there is a cap on his potential impact but in a league that favors the passing game in that 7-10 yard window, Perry can do damage. Perry has a few traits that can be considered high-end, but he does not play through contact well and struggled to get over the top of college secondaries.

*If a team wants size at WR and they strike out days 1 and 2 – Perry will be the focal point in round 3. His radius is huge (right there with Johnston and bigger than Tillman), he can jump out of the building, and his body control is top-notch. Perry has such a unique blend of traits that are hard to find. Part of the reason I do not always like giving out comparisons is that it can eat up time. I am a perfectionist with them, and it took me awhile to find the ideal fit for Perry. There just aren’t many guys with his blend of length, speed, jumping and most importantly, bendy lower half joints. The way he can move is rare. It can set him up to be an elite route runner, but he needs to clean up the drops and he isn’t a tough guy at all. Perry has some softness in him. Not a fit for every team but he has things most of the guys in this class do not.

14) Nathaniel Dell – Houston – 5’8/165

Grade: 75

NFL Comparison: Greg Dortch / PHI

Fifth-year senior. Three-year starter at Houston after playing his first two seasons at Alabama A&M and then Independence Community College. Two-time first team All-AAC and earned All-American honors in 2022 after leading the country in receiving yards and touchdowns. Dell is an elite mover in all forms of the word. The joystick quickness, burst, and agility enables him to get all open all areas of the route tree. With the ball in his hands, he creates and lengthens separation from defenders with those movement traits but he also exudes toughness and high-IQ. Dell will need every ounce of those physical and mental strengths to overcome his diminutive frame. Playing and consistently producing at under 170 pounds in the NFL is a rarity, no matter what other tools are in the shed Dell is the best slot receiver Dana Holgorsen has worked with according to the coach himself, a group that includes former top ten pick Tavon Austin. If a team with an accurate passer gets their hands on Dell, he will be an immediate weapon out of the slot.

*I liked Dell enough to put him in round 3 consideration throughout most of the process. The movement is so dynamic on tape. The kind of joystick-change of direction we would occasionally see from Kadarius Toney? Dell has that, maybe even better. But I can’t get away from the size. Since 2010, 13 out of 826 combine receivers weighed in as light as Dell or less. The guys in that size-tier that did make an impact in the league were blazers. Dell is quick and explosive, but he is not a blazer. There just aren’t good odds of this kid holding up in the NFL and there are also a few boxes that remain unchecked from a skill set perspective. I like him day three because the risk is not as high. There are things he can do movement-wise that almost nobody else can.

15) Ronnie Bell – Michigan – 6’0/191

Grade: 75

NFL Comparison: Robert Woods / HOU

Fifth year senior. Four-year starter from Kansas City, MO. Missed all but one game in 2021 because of a torn ACL. Came back to lead the team in both catches and yards for the third time, earning third team All-Big Ten honors. Was the team offensive skill player of the year in both 2019 and 2022. Bell is a player that is greater than the sum of his parts. He has average size and speed but tremendous competitive spirit and smarts. He knows both slot and outside receiver roles well and shows the ability to impact games both on and off the traditional box score. Bell is tough and dependable, albeit with a limited tool set. He fits well on the bottom half of a depth chart where he can backup multiple receiver positions, add some return value, and increase the needed competitive intangibles of a football team. Bell will create more than what his tools provide and has value as a back-end roster player that can wear a lot of hats and increase the energy of a team.

*Bell is my guy for day three if he is there and NYG goes elsewhere in the draft with their first four-five picks. I think this is a reliable, versatile, team-guy that will find ways to contribute week to week. His measurables ended up better than I thought they would. Remember that 2022 was a year away from his ACL injury and the notion is still out there it takes 12+ months before a guy can be considered fully back. He is not a burner, but he knows how to play fast and sudden. The fact his best seasons were in 2019 and 2022 with the turmoil in between (Covid Year / ACL year) tells me a lot about the kid’s character. A kid that originally was going to play college basketball and ended up one of the lowest-rated recruits in the Michigan program.

16) Kayshon Boutte – LSU – 5’11/195

Grade: 75

NFL Comparison: Jarvis Landry / NO

Junior entry. Three-year starter from New Iberia, LA. After earning Freshman All-American honors in 2020, Boutte continued to flash but never quite put it all together on a consistent basis. The explosive, well-proportioned receiver had his 2021 season cut short because of an ankle injury that required two surgeries. He then had a baby in September 2022. His final season on Baton Rouge was the worst of his career on a per-game basis despite seeing a major uptick in quarterback-quality. His drop rate increased, his effort looked questionable, and he was back and forth on commitment to his future at LSU and the Draft. Boutte has the talent, body, and past tape that can create long term hope for a successful career, but there is a lot that needs to be answered for. Boutte’s talent and upside are undeniable, but the lack of consistency and versatility give him a high-risk label that will cause teams screen him extra and make a decision if he is worth spending the much-needed time on trying to develop him.

*Boutte recorded a vertical of 29” at the combine. Of the 825 names I have in by database since 2010, only 11 of them put up a lower number. He also ran a below average 4.50 forty and a below average 7.14 three-cone among drafted receivers. I do not obsess over workout numbers, but I do want it to be known when we have an outlier. Boutte was a top three receiver in my stack at the start of the year. It did not last long. His effort looked poor on tape, he was dropping balls left and right, and some information came my way about his maturity. Boutte also had a rough recovery from a 2021 ankle injury that required two surgeries and then he had a baby in September. The apologists will say life got in the way of his ascent to the next start receiver from the program. Others will call it true colors. This is a kid that opted to return to school for 2023 – but an off-field incident would have likely led to a suspension. So he pulled the plug and declared for the draft. His pre-draft process has been poor. One can only make so many excuses until you just move on. I suspect some teams will cross him off the board, but others will look at the tape from early in his career and see the next Jarvis Landry.

17) Charlie Jones – Purdue – 5’11/175

Grade: 75

NFL Comparison: Dede Westbrook / GB

Sixth year senior from Deerfield, IL. Spent two seasons at Buffalo, three at Iowa, and one at Purdue. One year starter, his final year. In that final year, Jones went from obscurity to All-American and first team All-Big Ten. He led the nation with 110 receptions after totaling just 39 from 2018-2021. This was a breakout performance of epic proportions. Jones left the anemic Iowa offense to play in high octane, spread attack. He re-kindled the chemistry with fellow draft prospect, quarterback Aidan O’Connell, as the two played youth football and baseball together. Jones’ program single season record setting year showed the NFL what he can do if the looks are there. The routes and sure hands will be the attractive traits but there will be questions around his talent upside. He measures below average when it comes to both size and speed and even though 2022 was dynamite, the overall career production is low. He may need to permanently move inside to slot at the next level while offering return value. Jones deserves a back-end spot on the roster, one that can also add return value, but he will fight an uphill battle based on tool set.

*Jones is a guy worth gambling on. The fact he bounced around, stuck with it, and absolutely dominated in a way very few have in the history of the Big Ten is worth something. Jones played against Joey Porter Jr (Penn State), Garrett Williams (Syracuse), and Devon Witherspoon (Illinois). All three will be in the NFL next year. The snaps he matched up against them? Jones won. That means something even if you feel his production was manufactured via scheme. Get this guy a shot.

18) Parker Washington – Penn State – 5’10/204

Grade: 74

NFL Comparison: Amari Rodgers / HOU

Junior entry. Three-year starter from Sugar Land, TX. Earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in his final season. Cousin of 2022 Titans quarterback Josh Dobbs. Washington is a uniquely built slot receiver that looks like be belongs in the running back room. He carries evenly distributed muscle mass that is used effectively to break tackles after the catch and remain balanced through traffic. While the reach radius is small, Washington has proven over and over that he can make contested catches and get to balls away from his body. He is tough, hard-nosed, and creates big plays on his own. Washington is a slot-only prospect that has a unique body and play style for the position which may need the right system to be effective, but has the ability to create on his own consistently.

*In a receiver class saturated with small, shift, and speedy guys Washington is a standout. No, he does not move like some of the guys higher on the list. But this dude is a thick 204 pounds and could pass as a running back. He has 20-30 pounds on some of these other guys. Maybe not a fit for everyone, but he is unique. The biggest question mark on him is speed and agility. I saw some tightness and we rarely saw him gain any vertical separation. The ankle injury that ended his 2022 season lingered and he does not have any testing data for teams to objectify. That could cause a big drop draft weekend. Stay tuned. This is a guy I would give a look to late.

19) Rakim Jarrett – Maryland – 6’0/192

Grade: 74

NFL Comparison: Jalen Reagor / MIN

Junior entry. Three-year starter from Palmer Park, MD. Three-time Honorable Mention All-Big 10. Jarrett is an elite athlete whose game centers around explosion and toughness. His burst off the line is next level but he brings more to the table than speed alone. Jarrett shows the feel for finding available creases with the ball in his hands and he has tremendous grit against tacklers. He welcomes contact and borderline looks for it. This is a physical, aggressive football player capable of creating the big play on multiple fronts. There are some rough edges to his game when it comes to skill set and knowing when to take the gamble on the tools will determine where he goes in the draft. Jarrett is a swing for the fence type prospect with game breaking speed and burst, but has a lot to clean up as a pass catcher and route runner before he can be an every-down asset.

*I’ll tell you what. In a scenario where NYG ignores receiver for 4-5 picks (I would be surprised, but you never know), Jarrett is a guy I am intrigued by. This is a credible vertical threat but also a thick, strong, tough dude that can be a weapon on reverses and in the return game. He plays with some swagger, the kind of guy that just catches your attention every time he is on the tape. There is some DJ Moore here (a former Terp) but I felt like Jarrett was not used correctly. The drops bother me enough and I know there is quite the learning curve after being a slot only and his skill set does not match up there. But there are very few receivers this far down with his upside.

20) Xavier Hutchinson – Iowa State – 6’2/203

Grade: 74

NFL Comparison: Jakobi Meyers / LV

Fifth year senior from Jacksonville, FL. Three-year starter at Iowa State after transferring from Blinn Junior College. Burst onto the scene right away in 2020, winning Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year. First Team All-Big 12 all three seasons and a 2022 First Team All-American. Hutchinson led the Big 12 in receptions all three years, a first in conference history. His 254 receptions set a program record and were the most ever in Big 12 history among receivers that spent just three seasons in school. To sum that up simply, Hutchinson was Mr. Automatic and had stretches of play where he appeared to be a man among boys. He did all of this despite not having any standout, dominant physical traits. He is an example of a guy that can win over and over by doing things right. Route running, attacking the ball with his hands, coordination, and awareness are lasting qualities that will continue into the future. Hutchinson is not a true number one, but he has the game that enables him to stick as a quality number two for a decade. Hutchinson is a quarterback’s best friend that will make the touch catches in traffic, get open underneath, and get the most out of himself but the lack of speed and length will limit his impact that matches up with a number two-caliber receiver.

*There is a good chance Hutchinson outlasts multiple guys ahead of him on this list. He needs the right scheme/system and make sure you know what you’re getting. He is big and he is polished. He comes across as a guy that just knows what to do. Can every offense take advantage of that? No. But an offense with a quarterback that can manipulate space, time things well, and accurately put the ball where it needs to be on a consistent basis will get a lot from Hutchinson.


21) Elijah Higgins – Stanford – 6’3/235: 73
22) Andrei Iosivas – Princeton – 6’3/205: 73
23) Michael Wilson – Stanford – 6’2/213: 72
24) Trey Palmer – Nebraska – 6’0/192: 72
25) Malik Knowles – Kansas State – 6’2/196: 72
26) Bryce Ford-Wheaton – West Virginia – 6’4/221: 72
27) Tre Tucker – Cincinnati – 5’9/182: 72
28) Jalen Moreno-Cropper – Fresno State – 5’11/172: 72
29) Justin Shorter – Florida – 6’4/229: 71
30) Deuce Watts – Tulane – 6’1/196: 71
31) Dontayvion Wicks – Virginia – 6’1/206: 70
32) Jadon Haselwood – Arkansas – 6’2/215: 70
33) Demario Douglas – Liberty – 5’8/179
34) Jake Bobo – UCLA -6’4/206: 70
35) Grant DuBose – Charlotte – 6’2/201: 70
36) Aron Cruikshank – Rutgers – 5’9/165: 69
37) Derius Davis – TCU – 5’8/165: 69
38) Joseph Ngata – Clemson – 6’3/217: 69
39) Matt Landers – Arkansas – 6’4/200: 69
40) Jacob Copeland – Maryland – 5’11/201: 69
41) Antoine Green – North Carolina – 6’2/199: 69
42) Michael Jefferson – Louisiana – 6’4/199: 69
43) Jalen Wayne – South Alabama – 6’2/210: 68
44) Dontay Demus – Maryland – 6’3/212: 68
45) Kearis Jackson – Georgia – 5’11/196: 68
46) Malik Heath – Mississippi – 6’2/213: 68
47) CJ Johnson – East Carolina – 6’1/224: 68
48) Jason Brownlee – Southern Miss – 6’2/198: 68
49) Xavier Smith – Florida A&M – 5’9/174: 68


Maybe the most interesting position group to discuss in regard to NYG and the 2023 NFL Draft. A unit that left the 2022 season hanging on by a thread did see multiple changes (in addition to a high-end receiving tight end). Were the changes good enough? Are the additions of Paris Campbell and Jamison Crowder and the return from injuries by Sterling Shepard and Wan’Dale Robinson going to move the needle? This was a group that was starving for more big plays. Did NYG truly get better here? Or did they shuffle around personnel and simply find a new way to bake the same pie? Time will tell but there is no disputing the fact there is a shortage within this receiver group (no pun intended). In a league, and in an era, where exciting talent is plentiful at receiver, NYG has several question marks and very few answers.

NYG is in play for a receiver at #25. I think they could even be in play for a trade up for someone like Smith-Njigba if he falls. “They do not need another slot” is a tired argument. “They need more size” is another one. Sure, in a perfect world there is big, physical, vertically fast guy there at some point that can round out the group but by no means is a deal breaker. What NYG needs is a guy that will create more explosive plays for an offense that ranked dead last in that category in 2022. If he is small, he is small. If he is big, he is big. Beggars can’t be choosers in this scenario. The one question I have a hard time figuring out is when to draft a receiver. It is a must-get for this team, but a strong argument can be made the more necessary-get is at cornerback.

I have been on quite a few shows lately and this topic has come up often. The more I talk about it and the more I get into projecting what will happen, it is becoming more and more clear they may be best suited taking the risk of waiting until day two to get their playmaker. The gap between the top receivers in this class and the next tier is there, no question. But how big is it? And look at how many guys fit within that cluster (tiers 2 and 3). Now the longer you wait, the stronger the odds are you don’t get the difference maker you are looking for. It is a dangerous game, one that may require some draft weekend maneuvering via trades. After much debate and after going back and forth, I believe NYG will end up passing on WR at #25 overall, beef up the defense (up front or in the defensive backfield), and pursue their WR day 2. Also consider the fact that day three will be loaded with the big receivers. Look at the sizes I have on guys in that 21-49 listing. One after the other has the desired size but drafting two guys is going to cause an over-crowded receiver room. Don’t forget about Colin Johnson – he is going to get a shot at that size spot.