Apr 122020
 
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Tristan Wirfs, Iowa Hawkeyes (November 9, 2019)

Tristan Wirfs – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2020 NFL Draft Preview: Offensive Tackles

Format includes a quick position overview, my grading scale and what the number means, the summary and final grade from my final report on my top 15, a quick additional note on the player, and my ranks 16-25 with grades only.

*I AM NOT DOING NFL COMPARISONS

QUICK POSITION OVERVIEW

Dave Gettleman got aggressive in 2018, signing Nate Solder from NE to a 4 year $62 million contract. It was a move that put former top 10 pick Ereck Flowers at right tackle. Fast forward two seasons and Flowers is now a guard on the Dolphins after playing the 2019 season with the Redskins and Nate Solder grades out as one of the bottom third left tackles in the game despite having the third highest contract in the league. One has to assume they will move forward in 2020 with Solder on the left side but his $20.5 Million cap hit next year leads me to the notion he will not be playing for NYG beyond this season.

Mike Remmers left for KC in free agency to be a backup, which leaves the right side up to the winner of Nick Gates and the newly signed Cameron Fleming. Fleming has started 6 games over the past 2 seasons for Dallas and in fact has never started more than 7 games in a single season in his career. Gates saw three starts in 2019 and played both inside and outside. He showed promise but remember, the bar has been set so low here in regard to the offensive line and Gates would be best suited for a 6th or 7th blocker role. Chad Slade and Eric Smith are training camp bodies who can compete for a roster spot respectively. All in, the lack of quality both short term and long term at this position is incredibly weak.

GRADING SCALE

90+ All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

81-84: 1st rounder – should be able to play right away

79-80: 2nd rounder – Should be able to rotate right away – Year 2 starter

77-78: 3rd rounder – Should be able to rotate by end of rookie year – Year 2/3 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 / Development guy

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

  1. Tristan Wirfs / Iowa / 6’5 – 320

Grade: 86

Summary: Junior entry and three year starter from Mount Vernon, Iowa. After a record setting high school shot put and discuss career, Wirfs stepped in as a starting right and left tackle as a true freshman in 2017. He settled in on the right side as the Hawkeyes have another future NFL prospect manning the left side, Alaric Jackson. Wirfs is a physical freak in the weight room and keeping that in mind with his background as a thrower, it was a sight to see as his football skill set and performance started to catch up with his upside in 2019. The foot-quickness, hand-striking, and easy knee bend gives him the look of a franchise offensive tackle. There are multiple inconsistencies that remain, however. He overextends too often and the speed/power combination of NFL edge rushers can eat that up for breakfast if it isn’t fixed. The just-turned 21 year old has work in front of him to do but if he can correct the very correctable issues, he can be a star.

*Another really interesting pre-draft study here that I spent a ton of time on. Wirfs has shutdown ability. What I mean by that is no matter what kind of pass rusher he is up against, Wirfs has the physical ability to dominate. Against power he can anchor, re-anchor, and keep his hands locked inside. Against pure speed he can beat the defender to the meeting point without losing the width of his feet. Against quickness, he can adjust inside and out while keeping his hands in the right place and maintaining his knee bend. All of these skills and tools are there, but the snap to snap consistency isn’t there when it comes to balance and timing. That is the reason why he doesn’t approach the 90-point mark. With that said, we are talking about correctable issues here, not physical shortcomings. Wirfs is a dominant run blocker right now, he can project to both right and left tackle, and he is a week 1 starter on this team. Because of where the NYG situation resides and because I think we are looking at a Pro Bowl tackle, Wirfs gets my vote for who NYG should take at #4 unless Young somehow falls into their lap.

  1. Jedrick Wills / Alabama / 6’4 – 312

Grade: 85

Summary: Junior entry from Lexington, Kentucky. A two-year starter at right tackle who earned 1st Team All SEC and 2nd Team All American honors in 2019. Wills was the most physical blocker on the Crimson Tide offensive line but also turned heads with his quality, consistent performance as a pass blocker. It can be hard to locate a true dent in his armor outside of the fact he can get out-reached by longer defenders. His footwork and hands are as sure as it gets and he plays with an ever-present competitive streak that every team wants in the trenches. He has the look of a first-year starter who could move inside if the situation he is drafted into doesn’t initially demand a new face at tackle.

*Wills grew on me more and more as the scouting process got under way. Initially, he doesn’t have the traditional tackle body. He is a little light in the pants, he is a little short, and there isn’t a great reach-game. For those reasons I don’t see Gettleman considering him at #4, as he just doesn’t fit the profile. However, for me, I think Wills is probably the most polished and NFL ready tackle in the group. If these tackles all start in 2020, I bet Wills has the best rookie season. While he isn’t a road grader in the running game, he plays with some good fire and he can translate speed into power. He will be fine there. My question long term with him is stoutness against the ends who really bull rush under the blocker’s pads. All that in mind, I see a David Bakhtiari type tackle here, who is very good.

  1. Andrew Thomas / Georgia / 6’5 – 315

Grade: 83

Summary: Junior entry from Lithonia, Ga. A three year starter with experience at both tackle positions and a two-time 1st Team All SEC and All American. Thomas has the tools and more than enough quality tape over three years to sell himself as an elite left tackle prospect. The issue, however, is the amount of inconsistencies he shows in pass protection when it comes to technique. He doesn’t maximize those tools and has gotten used to playing catch-up football which will be much more difficult to do against NFL edge players. Thomas will be a plus-run blocker right away but whatever team ends up with him will need to be patient in his development as a pass blocker.

*When I look at who Dave Gettleman has drafted in the past at the offensive tackle position, Thomas looks like that guy. Big, thick, long-armed and really physical. He is a really fun player to watch when he’s pissed off. He moves guys into another zip code as a run blocker, he really gets after guys in space, and he finishes. The issues here are two-fold. His effort isn’t consistent and that is the number one red flag. In the intense moments, big games…etc Thomas gets after it. But too many times throughout the past two seasons I saw a guy who simply tried to get by on talent. The second issue, he looks like a train wreck in pass protection at times. He struggles to reach his point against speed and he shows his numbers to the ground too often. While his power and reach can partially make up for it, he simply needs to get better there or he will get eaten alive by the top end pass rushers. I’ll end with this: Thomas at his absolute best is better than Wirfs and Wills. But do you want to gamble on his work ethic and lack of athletic ability? More power to you if you do, but I only want him if it meant NYG traded down and the two guys above were off the board.

  1. Mekhi Becton / Louisville / 6’8 – 364

Grade: 82

Summary: Junior entry and three year starter from Highland Springs, Virginia. First team All ACC in 2019 as the team’s starting left tackle. Becton has played on both sides of the line and could project to either in the NFL. His game very much depends on the elite length and upper body explosion that can take over a one on one battle right away. Becton is rare physical force who gets movement at both the point of attack and in space the second he comes in contact with the defender. His issues are partially technique-based which, in theory, can be corrected but there are also movement issues. It can be hard for a player at his height to adjust with balance and precision and even his length can’t hide those issues in pass protection. His sometimes-inaccurate hands aren’t backed up by other physical attributes and techniques which gives him a rather large buyer-beware label. Boom or bust prospect who turns 21 just days prior to the draft.

*I don’t expect a guy this big to move like Tyron Smith from DAL, I get it. Yes, guys with this kind of length and width can get away with movement issues. Yes, I have been wrong a couple of times in recent years about mammoth tackles. All that in mind, I am placing a first round grade on Becton but I don’t think he is a top 10 pick for NYG, certainly not the guy I want at 4. Do I see NYG pursuing him? Sure. He is huge and explosive, he can be a dominant force in the running game, and he isn’t even 21 years old yet. There are a couple medical red flags that need to check out however. If a guy who weighs 360-380 pounds comes into the league with any injury red flag, I would be more worried than usual. Throw in some more red flags centering around his willingness to work and grind, I just don’t want to take the risk but I can see why some wouldn’t mind going for it. This is a rare specimen who has some quality tape.

  1. Ezra Cleveland / Boise State / 6’6 – 311

Grade: 79

Summary: Fourth year junior from Spanaway, Washington. A three year starter who earned Honorable Mention All Mountain West honors in 2017, and 1st Team honors in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Cleveland has a wrestling background and it shows on tape. His body control and balance are noteworthy, as he never seems to lose his feet and you rarely find him lunging for a defender or wind up on the ground. His techniques with his hand and feet create the notion that his learning curve in the NFL won’t be as steep as some others. The question for him will center around length and lockout and whether or not that makes him move inside. He could likely be a quality backup at both spots and a starter once he adds more strength and power to his arsenal.

*A huge part of my offensive tackle evaluation is balance and body control. If I had to rank which tackle in this class had the best of both, it is Cleveland. I am not comparing him to Joe Thomas, but that is how he moves. Just smooth and easy, movement across the line never seems to disrupt his approach. The issue? He has short arms, lacks a true power game, and his body may not be ready in year one. I can’t use a first rounder on someone like that and I don’t think he is in play at #36. If NYG ends up with an early third or late second somehow, then we can talk.

  1. Josh Jones / Houston / 6’5 – 319

Grade: 79

Summary: Fifth year senior from Richmond, Texas. A four year starter who earned 2nd Team All AAC honors in 2019. Jones put together a really solid season and earned an invite to the Senior Bowl where he performed well all week against the stiffest competition he faced. His length and power game are small red flags but he has the foot speed and techniques that can hide them. He is a really smooth operator who knows and trusts himself. He doesn’t over-set like most tackles do, he doesn’t abandon techniques when he doesn’t win the initial battle like most tackles do, and he still has ton of attainable upside to go before he is a finished product. If he can improve his power game and continue to progress his skill set, he can be a longtime starter in the league. With that said, he should be thrown into the fire right away.

*I know a scout in the league who has Jones on the same tier as the top tackles in the draft. While I don’t think that is a common opinion, I’m sure he isn’t the only one. Jones is a really fluid and easy athlete on the outside who simply needs a key to the weight room. I do think he can handle snaps right away, but I would prefer to him to wait at least half a season if possible. Power guys are going to beat him up pretty good. If he does enhance how own power game, he is a definite starter.

  1. Isaiah Wilson / Georgia / 6’6 – 350

Grade: 78

Summary: Redshirt sophomore entry from Brooklyn, New York. Two year starter who missed 2 games in 2019 with an ankle injury. 2nd Team All SEC in 2019. Wilson is a tools-rich tackle who still has a lot to learn and put into practice. He needs to take in NFL coaching so that his footwork can become second nature. He has a lot of ugly tape in that department but when he does line things up, his combination of length and power can be dominant. He is a high-upside prospect who shouldn’t be rushed into action.

*For all the talk Becton gets about his size, I’m surprised Wilson isn’t more talked up. He actually has a wider frame and the 350 pound mark is where I think Becton will come down to. Wilson also has top-shelf length and hand power. He is sloppy though, there is no denying it. Wilson’s hands get really wide and he loses track of the width of his base at times. However when he’s on, there isn’t a huge gap between him and Thomas and I mean that. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go in the top 40, but I would want to wait until the top of round 3 to take him. I bet he’s gone by that point.

  1. Lucas Niang / TCU / 6’6 – 315

Grade: 76

Summary: Senior entry from New Canaan, Connecticut. Three year starter who missed the second half of 2019 with a hip labrum injury that needed surgery. Earned 2nd Team All Big 12 in 2018, the only season he started every game. Niang’s size looks excellent on paper but he has work to do on his body. As he continues to rehab from his surgery, Niang is going to need a sleeping bag in the weight room. He doesn’t play an aggressive game and will too often try to catch defenders rather than impose his will. There is a lot of natural talent to work with however, as he moves very well and produced based on athletic ability and size. If he can combine that with more consistent footwork and effort, he has starter-potential. He simply needs to apply himself in the weight room for a year and clean other areas up.

*This is an interesting prospect. I had a hard time getting information on his hip injury and how much it impacted his play early in 2019. He didn’t look like the same guy as I saw in 2018. I had some really positive notes from his 2018 tape but it just didn’t match up. There is a chance somebody is going to get a starting caliber right tackle here at the end of round 3 or early round 4. You also have to account for the recovery from the hip injury, however. A lot of things to consider in his evaluation but if NYG doesn’t address tackle with their first three picks and he is there at the start of round 4, it would be tough to pass on.

  1. Austin Jackson / USC / 6’5 – 322

Grade: 75

Summary: Junior entry. Two year starter from Phoenix, Arizona. Grandson of Melvin, a five-year NFL lineman. First team All Pac 12 in 2019. Jackson has the tools and initial movement off the snap with an aggressive playing style and hustle that will get coaches excited about working with him. He can create solid torque and pop off the ball and he has enough athletic ability to play outside. However a deeper look into his game and there are several warts that absolutely need to be ironed out. He needs a lot of core strength and balance work before he can be asked to handle NFL pass rushers. His toughest opponents in college made him look silly at times, out of his league. This is an upside-based prospect who will need a couple years.

*Jackson is impressive initially. He has a good body and plays with good explosion off the snap. He can really get on top of a guy and gain the initial advantage. But when it comes to the secondary stuff, he was woefully inconsistent. I really didn’t like him against his toughest competition. Jackson has more reachable upside than a typical 4th/5th round grade, I will give him that. However the natural imbalance just sticks to my memory too hard.

  1. Matt Peart / Connecticut / 6’7 – 318

Grade: 75

Summary: Fifth year senior from Kingston, Jamaica. A four year starter who never missed a game. 1st Team All AAC honors as a senior. Peart is relatively new to the game, as he didn’t play football until he started high school. He is a physically gifted player who, when his feet are in the right place, showed dominant traits. He has incredibly strong hands with long arms and an athletic base, he simply just needs to hammer away at his lower body mechanics until they become more natural and consistent. If and when that happens, he is a starting caliber player.

*I did a quick recap of who Gettleman selected in his career as GM along the offensive line. One glaring tendency was his desire for length at tackle. Well, here you go. Peart has the longest arms in the class and the widest frame. Throw in the fact that he has a decently athletic lower body, and there is a chance he is going to hear his name called in round 2. NYG is going to like him, I’m sure of it. How much? Not sure. I personally see a guy who won’t be a factor in year one and he is going to need to really hammer away at lower body mechanics and power. I couldn’t get past the 4th/5th round tier but I can see why some are higher on him because of the ceiling.

  1. Trey Adams / Washington / 6’8 – 318

Grade: 72

Summary: Fifth year senior entry from Wenatchee, Washington. Four year starter who began his career on a high note. Adams was a 1st Team All Pac 12 and 2nd Team All American as a sophomore in 2016. However a back injury suffered in 2017 forced him to miss the second half of the year and the entire 2018 regular season. Adams was once viewed as a no-doubt first round pick but questions surrounding his back injury and inconsistent play since he’s come back has made the outlook cloudy. Adams is a plus-athlete with good size and aggression who plays smart and aware. He has enough athletic ability to play tackle in the pros, but the medical screening and how it relates to his potential to add strength and power will mean a lot for his final grade. He is going to need a year at least before he can be counted on as a starter.

*Adams was on his way toward being a sure-thing first round pick. But the back injury that kept him out so long is going to knock is grade down a bug chunk, maybe even make him undraftable to some. For me? If you are sitting there in round 5 or 6 and you need a young tackle to try and develop, I pull the trigger on him. He is a really feisty, nasty, aggressive blocker. It will be considered lucky to see him get completely over the injury but one has to take chances late in the draft at times. And to build a quality offensive line, you have to get lucky once or twice.

  1. Charlie Heck / North Carolina / 6’8 – 311

Grade: 71

Summary: Fifth year senior from Kansas City, Missouri. A three year starter who finished his career as a 2nd Team All ACC tackle. Heck has plenty of experience on both sides and shows the intelligence and natural ability to play on both sides in the NFL. The son of Kansas City Chiefs offensive line coach, Andy Heck, Charlie has the look of an eventual starter once he can enhance his staying power and core strength. He is outstanding off the ball but simply needs to clean up his hand placement and footwork that usually stems from his inconsistent pad level. Once he cleans that up, there is starter-potential and in the mean time, he is a solid swing tackle for a team needing to add depth.

*I almost went 3 or 4 points higher on Heck. I liked him a lot down the stretch and he was the best blocker at Shrine week. There is a plus-athlete here and you know he understands the ins and outs of the game as well as anybody. Heck’s height, like a couple others in this class, is a bit of an issue. He doesn’t have a powerful base and its just hard for him to play with consistent knee bend and pad level. That is a problem unless you have elite traits elsewhere, which he does not.

  1. Colton McKivitz / West Virginia / 6’6 – 306

Grade: 71

Summary: Fifth year senior from Jacobsburg, Ohio. A four year starter who has played both tackle positions. Two time Honorable Mention All Big 12 before being named 2nd Team in 2019. Was also named 3rd Team All American as a senior. McKivitz has average size and power that will need to be developed over the course of a year or two, but the former all state high school basketball player has light and quick feet with plus-balance. Combine that with a strong will to win the one on one battles that doesn’t have an off switch, a case can be made he is one of the top tackles who will be available day three. He won’t be ready right away, as he needs to improve his lower body power and hand strength, but if he can tidy those areas up he is proficient everywhere else. Swing tackle candidate.

*McKivitz is an intriguing athlete who simply didn’t lose much in college. He has plenty of work ahead to get his power presence up to par, but for a team that can stash him away for a year or two, there is a high ceiling.

  1. Yasir Durant / Missouri / 6’6 – 331

Grade: 71

Summary: Senior entry from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Three year starter for Missouri who spent a season at Arizona Western Community College where he played guard and tackle. Durant took over the left tackle job four weeks into 2017 and never looked back. He is going to cause a second look based on his size alone, as he is as wide as he is long. This kind of blocker doesn’t need to be the most twitched up, fastest player on the field. He is a tough guy to get around because of how well he stays within himself, how far his blocking radius extends to, and hoe powerful his punch can be. He may not be a year one guy, as there are some lower body techniques that must be cleaned up, but Durant has a potential starter label on him at either tackle spot.

*Durant is really interesting. It is widely known that he is going to struggle athletically, he is just a really heavy mover and the bend doesn’t come natural to him. But you know what? There aren’t many tackles who had higher graded tape, he just didn’t lose much. I noticed how patient he works at Shrine week. He just sits and waits, lets the defender make his move, and then calmly and powerfully reacts. I think there is something to this kid.

  1. Robert Hunt / Louisiana-Lafayette / 6’5 – 323

Grade: 71

Summary: Fifth year senior entry from Burkeville, Texas. Four year starter who has started games at left guard, left tackle, and right tackle. Was named 2nd Team All Sun Belt in 2018, 1st Team in 2019 despite missing games with a groin injury. Hunt projects to both tackle and guard at the next level. He was a good high school basketball player and that kind of foot-speed and quickness shows up on the gridiron with his attractive, moldable frame. He may not be ready for NFL action right away, as he has some footwork issues to clean up and lower body strength to pack on. Depending on where he is drafted, however, he has the look of an eventual starter inside or outside. It is hard to find guys with this kind of size, athletic ability, and body control capabilities. His best tape came against his toughest competition, a good sign in relation to his long term projection.

*I originally had a 3rd round grade on Hunt as a tackle, but because of a medical, had to bring him down to round 5/6 region. Good kid though and I am hoping for the best. On the field, Hunt has the feet to play outside but some question his length. Personally, I don’t see the move to guard because he plays too high and he isn’t stout enough. If he clears the medical stage, I like him as a versatile backup who may need to sit for a year and enhance his strength.

  1. Tyre Phillips / Mississippi State: 70
  2. Aaron McKinney / TCU: 69
  3. Terence Steele / Texas Tech: 67
  4. Darrin Paulo / Utah: 67
  5. Carter O’Donnell /Alberta: 66
  6. Matt Womack / Alabama: 66
  7. Alex Taylor / South Carolina State: 65
  8. Drew Richmond / USC: 64
  9. Jake Benzinger / Wake Forest: 63
  10. Brandon Bowen / Ohio State: 61

NYG APPROACH

It isn’t the sexy pick. It isn’t the name you are going to see in the box score or the highlight reel. You’re rarely going to walk away from a Giants win and talk about how good the tackles played. All of that said, this team isn’t going anywhere unless this offensive line improves on the outside. It would be one thing if they already had a solid piece on the left or right side. It would be one thing if they already had an up and coming stud who was in the development stages. The Giants have neither nor are they even close.

What is the point of drafting a Saquon Barkley #2 overall if you can’t get anyone up front to keep defenders out of the backfield? Quite literally he is getting contacted by defenders before he takes his third step with the ball as much as any back in the league! Daniel Jones was selected #6 overall and I have always believed the number one task to aid the maturation of a young quarterback is building the group up front. Keep him upright. Keep him confident. Make it easier for him to hold onto the football!

Credible and respectful arguments can be made to take defense, namely Simmons or Okudah, at #4. I disagree that it is the best path. While I am fully aware the NYG defense needs work, I think the offensive line is more important and NYG is absolutely hopeless at tackle right now. Throw in the fact that I have a Pro Bowl projection on Wirfs and Wills, the decision is even easier. Only a godsend like Chase Young being available will change my mind.

Apr 092020
 
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Saahdiq Charles, LSU Tigers (January 13, 2020)

Saahdiq Charles – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2020 NFL Draft Preview: Guards and Centers

Format includes a quick position overview, my grading scale and what the number mean, the summary and final grade from my final report on my top 15, a quick additional note on the player, and my ranks 16-25 with grades only.

*I AM NOT DOING NFL COMPARISONS

QUICK POSITION OVERVIEW

A valid argument can be made that the hole at center is the biggest one on the team. Jon Halapio likely won’t return, leaving Spencer Pulley in line to start after playing in just 4 games (1 start) in 2019. He started 9 games with the club in 2018 but over the course of the two years and multiple opportunities he was given, he has yet to prove he can be relied upon snap to snap, week to week. The Chargers thought the same thing after he started 16 games for them in 2017. There were multiple centers, all capable of at least contending for the starting job here, available in free agency but the team did not pursue them.

Both guard spots are locked up through 2021 with Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler. While Hernandez has been up and down, he hasn’t missed a game in 2 years and he is more than solid enough to be relied on. Zeitler is a team leader, very solid player, and can help out a rookie on either or both sides of him, which may very well be the case. The one issue at guard is one can make the argument they are dangerously thin there. Even though Nick Gates can play inside (he will be in Sunday’s OT write up), he may be needed at tackle. NYG will likely bring in another veteran at some point but the case still exists, there is a hole in need of a rookie along the inside. Maybe even two.

GRADING SCALE

90+ All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

81-84: 1st rounder – should be able to play right away

79-80: 2nd rounder – Should be able to rotate right away – Year 2 starter

77-78: 3rd rounder – Should be able to rotate by end of rookie year – Year 2/3 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 / Development guy

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

  1. Matt Hennessey / Temple / 6’4 – 307

Grade: 80

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Bardonia, New York. Three year starter who finished 2019 as 1st Team All AAC. Brother of Jets long snapper Thomas Hennessey. A two time team captain who was awarded a single digit jersey number for Temple, given to the team’s toughest and hardest working players. Hennessey has the look of a long time starter at center. He is a well-balanced machine who stays within himself at all times, rarely being caught off balance or out of position. If and when he adds some man-strength and bulk to his frame, he will be ready for starting duties in any scheme. He could be a starter within the first year of service if a team can help him against elite power inside. He is smart and reliable with the upside of being a top-half center in the league.

*A big part of playing offensive line is the simple but hard to find ability to maintain balance at all times. Even very good prospects struggle with it, especially when they need to block in space. Hennessey has no such problem. He probably plays with the most body control of all the OL in this class. While he may struggle against power off the bat, most rookie centers do and you can hide that with help from the guards. Hennessey will likely bring to the table what Garrett Bradbury did for MIN in 2019; solid but limited impact. Reliable week to week, most notably in the running game. For a team that needs better run blocking as much as any team in the league, he may be an ideal round 2 fit.

  1. Saahdiq Charles / LSU / 6’4 – 321

Grade: 79

Summary: Junior entry from Jackson, Mississippi. A three-year starter who has seen the majority of his action at left tackle. Part of an offensive line that won the 2019 Joe Moore Award, given to the best offensive line in the country. Charles will likely make the move inside at the next level where he can immediately become a top tier athlete and zone-blocking scheme weapon. His burst and range from his stance will make a difference right away. The former high school soccer goalie still has a lot to learn and progress to as a blocker, but there is no denying the elite upside. Not many players his size can move and produce power like him. There are shoulder and maturity issues that need to be screened but if that checks out, he is a week 1 starter.

*Every year there are a handful of guys who I am much higher on than my boss and others I respect. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t but I don’t shy away from standing strong on my opinion. Charles is the poster boy of that group in this class. From what I hear, he is going round 4 or 5 but I am maintaining my 2nd round grade on him. He lacks control at times but I actually think this may be the best athlete of the bunch, certainly inside. Length concerns will likely move him from tackle to guard but I actually like him better in that role. He has tremendous power and explosion, he tries hard, and he developed a lot from a skill set perspective from 2018. All that said, there is a shoulder issue that needed screening, so that is a part of what will happen to him draft weekend. If he is there at the end of round 3 / start of round 4, I would scoop him up in a heartbeat if the team hadn’t addressed the OL yet.

  1. Prince Tega Wanogho / Auburn / 6’5 – 308

Grade: 78

Summary: Fifth year senior. Two-plus year starter from Montgomery, Alabama. Native of Nigeria and the son of a Prince and Princess. Earned 2nd Team All SEC honors in 2019. Wanogho was a sought after defensive recruit out of high school who made the move to full time offensive lineman when he arrived at Auburn. He had a rough-go early but evolved into one of the best linemen in the SEC. While there are still technique issues when it comes to consistent execution from snap to whistle, Wanogho still has plenty of untapped upside. At his best, in the SEC by the way, Wanogho had dominant stretches where he made everything look easy. The ability is there and it’s been showcased several times. A move from tackle to guard may be in the forecast and as long as he applies himself to the NFL coaching, he can be a quality starter in time.

*Depending on whom he is drafted by, Wanogho may end up a tackle. I think he has the ability to play both but I kept him in this group because his ideal spot is likely inside where his foot speed and length match up better. There was a period during the season where I was ready to put him in the round 1 talk because of how consistent he looked, how under control he played. A few issues popped up though and when you really break him down, there are sustainability problems. Also has a medical red flag but I am still looking at him as a day 2 guy.

  1. Nick Harris / Washington / 6’1 – 302

Grade: 78

Summary: Senior entry from Inglewood, California. Four year starter who has experience at all three interior spots. First Team All Pac 12 in 2019 and 2018, Honorable Mention in 2017. Harris is one of the best athletes among all offensive linemen in the class. He is incredibly twitchy and fast and it translates into power very well. While he could use more strength training below the waist to improve his anchor, he is more than powerful enough to make a physical impact. He can reach defenders that other centers simply cannot and he has a way of turning his body with full control while engaged to make himself stick to his target. Harris is potential big time difference maker in the middle of the line because of how much range he has stemming from his athletic ability . And make no mistake, he is not a finesse blocker, there is a nastiness in him that makes him an every down threat.

*Some are going to be turned off by Harris’ lack of size and true power, thus he won’t be a fit for every scheme. But an offense that wants a center with range and pop, you have to like this kid. Really smart player who started four years and will reach the second level looking like a fullback. There are anchor issues though and ultimately that did drop him a bit on my stack. Will NYG be interested? Hard to know what Jason Garrett is requesting at OC but from his tenure in DAL, I lean no.

  1. Cesar Ruiz / Michigan / 6’3 – 307

Grade: 78

Summary: Junior entry from Camden, New Jersey. A three year starter with experience at guard and center. Second Team All Big 10 in 2019, third team in 2018. Ruiz was a top tier athlete among linemen coming out of high school and he got onto the field in year one at guard. He then made the full time move to center and went onto start 26 games there. Ruiz is a powerful blocker when impressive tools. He is the kind of player who can be developed into a starter over time, but may be best suited for backup duty early on. He needs to work on his footwork and make it more precise, as his quickness and agility appears to be limited. He won’t be able to get by on hand power alone in the NFL.

*Ruiz is being discussed as a late 1st/early 2nd rounder and I’ve re-watched tapes a couple times. I just can’t put him up there because I don’t think he is going to be ready right away. He is a nice physical package but he as all over the place losing balance, hinging at the hip, and being inaccurate with his hands. I also think a lot of his issues were hidden by two guards who are going to be playing on Sundays. If Ruiz hits his potential then yes, he is number 2 or 3 on this list. But his tape was as inconsistent as anyone.

  1. Tyler Biadasz / Wisconsin / 6’4 – 314

Grade: 78

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Amherst, Wisconsin. A three year starter who never missed a game. 1st Team All Big 10 in both 2019 and 2018, 3rd Team All Big 10 in 2017. Unanimous 1st Team All American in 2019, Honorable Mention in 2018. And lastly, the 2019 Rimington Trophy Winner and Outland Trophy Finalist. Biadasz is obviously a widely respected and accomplished center for an offensive line that produced three straight 1,900 yard rush seasons. He was the leader of that group and one of the architects of the entire offense with how much he was responsible for at the point of attack mentally. He has NFL starter written all over him and even though there are some footwork warts in his arsenal, Biadasz has the tools to be an elite center and probable week 1 contributor. If he can fix some his technique red flags, there will be very few chinks in his armor.

*I can’t get my grade higher than this because of his balance and footwork issues, but there is a stubborn side of me that says Biadasz is a sure-thing to be a 10 year starter in the league. Maybe the ghost of Travis Frederick at Wisconsin weighs too much in my evaluation. But this kid hasn’t missed a start, every opposing coach speaks highly of him, and he won almost every accolade a center can win. If Jason Garrett pounds the table for a center, I think it is this one. The question is, when? Round 2 is too high but round 3 may be too late.

  1. Damien Lewis / LSU / 6’2 – 327

Grade: 77

Summary: Senior entry from Canton, Mississippi. Two year starter for the Tigers who spent two seasons in junior college. A 2nd Team All SEC performer in 2019. Lewis was a mainstay and physical leader of the offensive line that won the Joe Moore Award, given to the nation’s top offensive line. Lewis is the kind of guy you want behind you when walking into a fight. He play’s the game with a bully’s mentality and has the juice to back it up. As a run blocker, Lewis can create a new line of scrimmage with his pop out of his stance. As a pass blocker, he will always win the leverage battle but simply needs to refine his footwork and mental approach. He needs some work, but there is a starter here if a team is patient developing him.

*Lewis is a fun dude to watch if you like seeing legal violence on tape. He has heavy hands and plays with a low center of gravity. I would love to see more finesse in his game as a pass blocker where his strength alone can’t get the job done. He can get a bit stiff and top heavy so he will need time to refine a couple things but he will be able to handle NFL size and power right away.

  1. Lloyd Cushenberry III / LSU / 6’3 – 312

Grade: 77

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Carville, Louisiana. Two year starter who earned a 1st Team All SEC and 2nd Team All American honor respectively in 2019. The leader of the offensive line earned the much-respected #18 jersey honor for LSU which is revered for the leader of the team on and off the field. The LSU offensive line won the Joe Moore Award – given to the nation’s top unit – and Cushenberry was the one in front among that group. He is a smart player who is capable of making the calls and adjustments. Physically, his legs are roots which can make it very difficult for a defensive tackle to move, most notably against the run. He plays low and strong and keeps his hands intact. There are significant lateral movement issues, however, and he won’t be a fit for blocking schemes that want their centers to get from point A to point B quickly. In the right scheme, he is a good fit, but he isn’t for everyone.

*I may have Cushenberry a bit further down the stack than some, but I think most agree he is a day 2 prospect who needs the right scheme. He isn’t very light footed and it shows up when he face s off against lateral movers and linebackers. For a guy with such a strong base, and it really is strong, I wish he would simply keep the feet chopping more often. His issues are coachable and if his lack of lateral movement can be hidden, he is another good one who can play year one.

  1. Solomon Kindley / Georgia / 6’3 – 337

Grade: 76

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Jacksonville, Florida. A three-year starter who missed some time with separate ankle and knee injuries. Kindley is a brute-force blocker who consistently gets movement off the ball in the run game. He creates a new line of scrimmage and will open a different kind of lane for running backs. His weakness is against quick, lateral movement as a pass blocker but even with that, he was a productive pass blocker in his three seasons. He needs work on his body and overall lower body techniques, the ability is there to ensure improvement and he is a weapon for the running game right away.

*If I could forecast the future and see whether or not Kindley is going to put his best foot forward when it comes to working on his weight and footwork, he would be in the discussion to be the top guard in the class and a possible 2nd rounder. He is too heavy for his frame and if his suddenness can improve by simply weighing 20-30 pounds less, I think he can be a star. He is a dominant run blocker and his natural power can keep pass rushers at bay. He just needs to clean it up and stop being reliant on simply leaning on guys to get the job done. Maybe an ideal fit for a day three pick to try and develop for a year or two.

  1. Ben Bredeson / Michigan / 6’5 – 315

Grade: 76

Summary: Senior entry from Hartland, Wisconsin. Four year starter who was 1st Team All Big 10 as a senior, 2nd Team as a junior and sophomore. A 2019 3rd Team All American. Bredeson started 46 games over his career and was a two time team captain. He is on the higher end of experience, toughness, and on-field intelligence. He is rarely caught doing something he shouldn’t be doing when it comes to technique and he always seems to know how to respond to any situation. When it comes to physical ability and potential, he is limited but there is still a good chance he sees starter-duty at some point in his career. He will be in the league for a long time.

*You don’t see prospects coming out of big time programs like Michigan with 46 starts under their belt too often. Bredeson won’t be anyone’s favorite guard in the class but I bet he stays in the league as long as anyone on this list. There may be a chance he moves to center, as some teams are worried about his length shortcoming but they respect his intelligence and grit.

  1. Hakeem Adeniji / Kansas / 6’4 – 302

Grade: 75

Summary: Senior entry from Garland, Texas. Four year starter who has experience at both tackle spots. A 1st Team All Big 12 honoree. Adeniji spent his entire career at tackle, but because of his size and lateral movement issues he is destined for a move to guard. He is a really effective straight-ahead blocker who will fire out of his stance and get a violent pop on the defender. The issues with him are technique based, most notably with his footwork. He struggles to maintain the mirror and lock-on if the defender goes left or right. There are developmental tools here though and he could play tackle in a pinch.

*Even though he played tackle in college, he was moved inside at the Senior Bowl and that is usually a sign teams won’t use him outside. I will say it is always good to have a guy on the depth chart who can move out there in an emergency situation where multiple guys go down in the same game. I actually see some David Diehl here, a college tackle who began his career inside before moving back to tackle. They both have violent hands, sub-par foot speed, and a gamer’s mentality. Really nice day three option here.

  1. Ben Bartch / Saint John’s (MN) / 6’6 – 309

Grade: 72

Summary: Senior entry from Dayton, Oregon. Two year starter who only played the offensive line for two years after spending his first two seasons at tight end. Earned 1st Team All Conference honors and Conference Offensive Lineman of the Year Award in 2019 after being named 2nd Team in 2018. Bartch is an interesting athlete who simply bloomed late. He ran track in high school (hurdles and 4×400 relays) before going to college to play tight end. His body screamed offensive line as he continued to grow and once he moved there, he was home. Bartch absolutely dominated the Division III level and more than held his own at the Senior Bowl. He won’t be an immediate contributor in the NFL, as he needs to add power and bulk in addition to making the move to guard from tackle. However the upside is undeniable, as he is a rare athlete for the position who can at least somewhat make up for a lack of lower body strength.

*There was a lot of talk about Bartch toward the end of the fall. Some were comparing him to a recent Division III prospect, Ali Marpet, who Tampa Bay took in the second round of the 2015 draft and is now one of the top guards in the league. No disrespect to Bartch because I do have a draftable grade on him, but he is nowhere near the prospect Marpet was. He has a lot of work to do on his body, a lot of strength to gain. He doesn’t have the ideal body for development but he did play well at the Senior Bowl week but he is going to be a multi year project.

  1. Darryl Williams / Mississippi State / 6’2 – 304

Grade: 71

Summary: Fifth year senior from Bessemer, Alabama. Three year starter who played guard in 2017 and 2018 before moving full time to center as a senior. A team captain who coaches laud for his intelligence and quick mind. Williams is a tough, hard nosed, blue collar blocker who gets the most out of himself. He lack athletic ability and ideal size for the NFL trenches, but his interior versatility and productive blocking career in the SEC will get him a spot on a depth chart in the NFL. Maybe never a starter, Williams should be in the league for a long time.

*I’m not sure Williams is going to evolve into a pure starter, but I bet he starts games in the league. The reason I say that is the fact he can legitimately project to both guard and center. That is really important for teams that are trying to maximize their active game day roster. Williams is a limited mover, not a fit for zone blocking heavy schemes, but I can see NYG giving him a good look late. Good kid, hard worker, versatile.

  1. Shane Lemieux / Oregon / 6’4 – 310

Grade: 71

Summary: Fifth year senior from Yakima, Washington. Four year starter who never missed a game, 52 consecutive starts. Two-time 2nd Team All Pac 12 and 2019 2nd Team All American. Lemieux is a reliable, know-what-you’re-getting guard who won’t be a guy who consistently hurts an offense, but has a limited upside. He is big and plays with a blue collar attitude, often overpowering and out-hustling his man. However there are certain matchups and situations where his tight hips and inconsistent pad level pops up. He will need to be protected a bit, but he should at least be a solid interior backup early on with the potential to start down the road.

*I talked about how impressive and rare it is to see a lineman start 46 games over the course of a career. Lemieux started 52! Just amazing. I really wanted to grade him higher than this because I love his grit and style. However I just can’t get beyond the stiffness he shows when something unexpected comes his way. He might be a guy who can play early but he needs to be protected and you can’t have him move laterally that often. I just wouldn’t want to see him on an island against these quicker interior pass rushers.

  1. Jon Runyan / Michigan / 6’4 – 306

Grade: 71

Summary: Fifth year senior from Moorestown, New Jersey. A two year starter at left tackle who earned 1st Team All Big 10 honors both years. The son of former Eagles Pro Bowl offensive tackle Jon Runyan. A highly versatile and reliable player, Runyan will make the move inside in the NFL but will carry versatility onto the field which will only help his stock. He isn’t a “wow” player in any way when it comes to physical tools or when it comes to his skill set, but he gets the job done. There is a lot of intelligence and attention to detail in addition to him being a tough guy. I don’t see him being a starter, but rather a valuable inside backup who could shift outside in an emergency situation.

*I’ve spoken with a couple people who have been around Runyan during his pre-combine training and they were glowing about how good of an athlete he is. The lineage is going to help his stock because you can trust him, you know he can think his way through things. Another guy who won’t wow you on tape but he brings some position versatility and could be a guy who is a solid 6th or 7th lineman for a long time.

  1. Michael Onwenu / Michigan: 71
  2. Jack Driscoll / Auburn: 71
  3. Tremayne Anchrum / Clemson: 70
  4. Jonah Jackson / Ohio State: 70
  5. Netane Muti / Fresno State: 70
  6. Danny Pinter / Ball State: 70
  7. Cameron Clark / Charlotte: 70
  8. Kyle Murphy / Rhode Island: 69
  9. Calvin Throckmorton / Oregon: 69
  10. Luke Juriga / Western Michigan: 69

NYG APPROACH

When you look at the guards, NYG can go into the season confident they have their starters, which a lot of teams can’t say. NYG can go into the season confident they have their 2021 starters as well, which most teams can’t say. The glaring issue resides at center, the spot where I’m not sure if the starter is on the team right now. Spencer Pulley is the fallback option but as I said above, he needs to be the interior backup. No matter what NYG does at #4 (OT or defense), center will be in play with their second rounder. It will come down to the grade between their top 1-2 centers and how they compare to others that are on the board. I don’t think NYG will look past OC as a direct result of taking OT in the first.

One thing I noted about grading this class, there is an enormous cluster of draftable interior guys who will be available in rounds 6-7. Only an average of 22 OG/OC get drafted year, but I have 30 draftable grades on guys inside plus a few tackles who can possibly move to guard. A lot of this will come down to teams and their schemes, so I think they are going to have multiple guys on this back end list (16-25) available when they are on the clock in rounds 6-7. Considering the depth is so thin at OG, it would be wise to bring one of these bodies in who is worth trying to develop. Every good offensive line gets “lucky” one or two times and what I mean by that, they all have a late round draft pick and/or an undrafted free agent who ends up being a key cog. In recent NYG memory? Rich Seubert. Kevin Boothe. David Diehl.

Apr 082020
 
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Blake Martinez, Green Bay Packers (December 15, 2019)

Blake Martinez – © USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants have been an active player in free agency during the 2020 offseason. Through the beginning of April, the team has thus far signed 11 free agents. However, the Giants only made big investments on two of these players: cornerback James Bradberry (who was signed to a 3-year, $43.5 million contract) and Blake Martinez (who was signed to a 3-year, $30.75 million contract). Both were the first two free agents the team signed. Given that fact and the money doled out, it is obvious that these two were high-priority targets for the franchise. Let me emphasize that point again, Bradberry and Martinez were THE major “gets” for General Manager Dave Gettleman and new Head Coach Joe Judge in free agency this offseason.

While media and fan reaction to the signing of Bradberry was largely positive, many were underwhelmed by the acquisition of Martinez. “Overrated”, “he can’t cover”, “too many of his tackles were downfield”, and “the Packers and their fans don’t seem to be upset that he’s gone” were commonly heard refrains. Right or wrong, the widely-held perception is that Martinez is a smart, quarterback-of-the-defense type who lacks ideal physicality and overall athleticism for the position.

However, upon closer inspection, some of these claims don’t seem to hold up. Martinez was not a two-down linebacker for the Packers. He played in 98.46 percent of all defensive snaps in 2019, third most on the team. In 2018, he played in 98.59 percent of all defensive snaps. In 2017, he played in 93.06 percent of all defensive snaps. These are absurdly high numbers for an inside linebacker. It means that Martinez doesn’t miss games. But it also means he rarely comes off of the field. For three straight years, Martinez has been the linebacker the Green Bay Packers coaching staff kept on the field in third-down situations.

Martinez strongly believes he is an asset on the field in coverage. “There were probably two times last year… (in) man coverage somebody that I made my own mental mistakes on… my coach last year, he (said) ‘Oh yeah, you’re one of the best, if not the best, zone coverage linebackers I’ve ever been around’. Being able to see the field, see crossing routes, being able to communicate, do all those types of things… I can go and cover tight ends, I can go and cover running backs, I can play in zones, I can do all of the things that you need to do as an inside linebacker.”

The tackles argument doesn’t seem to hold up either. In the last three years, Martinez has averaged 148 tackles per season, with an average of 95 of those being solo tackles. Again, these are exceptionally high numbers. And they are consistent (144, 144, 155). The tackle totals are not an anomaly. For the sake of comparison, Alec Ogletree (the player Martinez is replacing) averaged 89 tackles per season the past three years, with 56 of them being solo. That’s a 40 percent difference in production. The Giants cut Ogletree in late February and signed Martinez two weeks later. That’s no coincidence. The team sees this as a major upgrade.

Martinez also seems to chaff a bit at the notion that he can’t make plays in the hole against the run. “I think that’s the one misconception of me, I guess the public view,” said Martinez. “The way we ran the defense, at least the last two years, is I’m kind of put into the clean-up crew guy. There’s a lot of situations where you see numerous other defenses where… you have A-B gap responsibility as an inside linebacker, you have one-gap responsibility. In our defense no matter what it was, since I was the only linebacker on the field, I was taught and told once again, to be the clean up crew guy. There wasn’t any gap responsibilities for me… I know there’s been things like you make tackles down the field, you make tackles here, you make tackles there. For the majority of the time there that’s what I was told to do. It’s just me I guess doing my job in that sense. Going into this defense, once I learn being whatever it ends up being how we play. I hope I am able to trigger it, solo gaps, do those type of things and make those type of impact plays.”

The Giants new defensive coordinator, Patrick Graham, coached Martinez in 2018 as Green Bay’s linebacker coach and run-game coordinator. That season, Martinez compiled 144 tackles and five sacks. And Martinez is thrilled to be back with Graham.

“We had that year together and we became super close, he was my inside linebacker coach,” said Martinez. “For me, what made me so excited to work with him this year and the following years is how smart he is. I think he is probably the smartest coach I’ve ever been around. The preparation he puts in every week, his intensity, just how much he cares about the game of football. It just allowed me to go in every Sunday or Monday or Thursday games fully prepared. I never felt like I didn’t know what play was going to happen next.”

Martinez is still a young, rising player. He turned 26 in January. Though a tad undersized (6’2”, 237 pounds), he can play the run. He has led the entire NFL in tackles since 2017. While we still don’t know how much 3-4 versus 4-3 defense the Giants will play, it is clear that Graham sees Martinez as a three-down player who will direct his unit on the field. The Giants also have the big bodies up front to help keep blockers from getting clean shots on Martinez. This includes Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill, and Austin Johnson.

If and when the Giants employ a base 3-4, Martinez’s inside flankmate is likely to be Ryan Connelly, who was extremely impressive starting three games before tearing his ACL. In reserve and serving as insurance is David Mayo, who the Giants re-signed to a 3-year, $8.4 million contract.

Outside, before the draft, the chief candidates at linebacker are Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, and Martinez’s teammate and roommate in Green Bay, Kyler Fackrell.

“I’m thrilled,” said Fackrell. “We came into Green Bay together and we were roommates all four years of training camp and during rookie mini-camp. We have a good relationship and he’s a great player. I was really excited to hear that he was going to the Giants as well… He does a great job. At inside linebacker, a big part of their job is kind of controlling everything and making calls and all that. He does a great job of that. He’s very versatile as well. He can do a lot of different things. Blitzing, there’s a lot of different things we can do, especially in those third down packages with the two of us and kind of trying to confuse quarterbacks.”

Martinez is also thrilled. “We were both excited we are going to be teammates again,” said Martinez. “He’s an amazing player and I think there is a lot of things that he hasn’t been able to show because of certain kind of depth chart things, certain roles he was placed into. Obviously, he had a 10-sack season two years ago. This last year he was a role player that stepped in and did a lot of great things. I think he is one of the best zone coverage linebackers in the NFL in my opinion. What he has been able to do for us and what he’s been asked to do, he’s done a phenomenal job and I know he is going to be a great asset to this team and show people a lot of great things this year.”

The challenge for Judge, Graham, Martinez, Fackrell, and company is turn around a defense that, outside of 2016, has been a bottom dweller for years. Martinez believes he knows what Graham’s defense will be like. And he knows he will be the quarterback of the unit.

“I think it’s just the aggressive nature. Everyone working together, everyone on the same page, everyone communicating. Everyone is going to know exactly where to be and what to do on every given call. There’s not going to be much, if any, mental errors at all. I know he stressed that a bunch. I don’t know if it is going to be simple but it will be understood by all 11 that are out there. Overall, there is going to be a lot of freedom for me to make checks, make calls and adjustments on a given play pre-snap to give guys chances to make plays. There is going to be a lot of communication across the board. I think it is going to be an awesome defense and I’m just waiting to finally be able to get to learn and see what he has for us.”

Apr 072020
 
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Chase Young, Ohio State Buckeyes (December 28, 2019)

Chase Young – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2020 NFL Draft Preview: Edge

Format includes a quick position overview, my grading scale and what the number mean, the summary and final grade from my final report on my top 15, a quick additional note on the player, and my ranks 16-25 with grades only.

*I AM NOT DOING NFL COMPARISONS

QUICK POSITION OVERVIEW

The “EDGE” position in this scheme is a bit of a gray area, so you may end up seeing a few names that you thought were defensive tackles. Even on the current NYG roster, Leonard Williams can be considered a defensive end but at the end of the day, the majority of his snaps are spent inside the offensive tackle. In regard to who I am talking about on the current NYG roster, you are looking at more traditional 3-4 outside linebacker types. Lorenzo Carter, who was drafted in 2018, is entering the near-vital third season of his career where it is time to put up or shut up. He is physically gifted but inconsistent. Rookie Oshane Ximines, in less snaps, matched Carter’s impact as a pass rusher with 4.5 sacks but really struggled against the run. Markus Golden, who led the team with 10 sacks, remains a free agent and it appears free agent signing Kyler Fackrell will replace him. He hasn’t missed a game in three years but he took a back seat to Preston Smith and ZaDarius Smith in 2019. Keep in mind that Fackrell had 10.5 sacks in 2018.

It’s important to know what exactly this team is trying to do on defense. I can’t say I know for sure, but NYG already has their “BUCK” and “SAM” candidates. The BUCK is essentially a pass rushing linebacker who can play SAM (strong side linebacker) when the front changes. The SAM plays strong side but can move to MIKE/inside when the front changes. I see Ximines, Carter, and Fackrell being those guys. What I’m not sure I see quite yet on this defense is a guy who can really play the CRASH end. They are hybrid 3-4/4-3 defensive end types. Usually these guys need to push 265+ pounds with 34+ inch arms. Can they put Williams in that role, make him more of an edge threat? Sure, but I think there may be better candidates in this draft class for the role. However I will say, it is a hard spot to fill because there aren’t many ideal candidates for that spot.

GRADING SCALE

90+ All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

81-84: 1st rounder – should be able to play right away

79-80: 2nd rounder – Should be able to rotate right away – Year 2 starter

77-78: 3rd rounder – Should be able to rotate by end of rookie year – Year 2/3 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 / Development guy

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

  1. Chase Young / Ohio State / 6’5 – 264

Grade: 91

Summary: Junior entry. Two year starter from Hyattsville, Maryland. After earning the 5-star recruit label out of high school and coming to Ohio State with sky high expectations, Young finished his career with an All American season and 1st Team All Big 10 honor. He led the nation with 16.5 sacks as a junior despite seeing countless double teams. Young is widely considered the best non-quarterback in the draft and will be a player who a franchise can build a defense around. He is no specialty pass rusher, Young can contribute on and impact all three downs. His tools and work ethic to be great make him the next big thing at defensive end to come out of a program that had produced some recent big time NFL talent at the position.

*Young breaks the 90-point barrier on my grading scale, reserved for guys who I am putting an All-Pro projection on. These aren’t handed out often. Young can do it all, he fits into every scheme, and he is going to be a player right away. I have him slightly below where I had Myles Garrett in 2017 simply because there is a little less juice out of his stance and he doesn’t play as low as I would like at times. But there is no denying how good this kid can be if he comes in and works hard. If NYG could get their hands on him (crazier things have happened), it would be the best-get they’ve gotten in a long time considering the position he plays and NYG’s weakness there. Cross your fingers and pray teams are going to get into bidding wars for the quarterbacks.

  1. Yetur Gross-Matos / Penn State / 6’5 – 266

Grade: 85

Summary: Junior entry. Two year starter from Spotsylvania, Virginia. When it comes to long term upside and tools, Gross-Matos can be considered one of the top defenders in the entire class. He has the height, length, and speed combination that is considered rare and salivating for coaches. Don’t make the mistake of labeling him just an upside player, however. He recorded 35 TFL and 17.5 sacks over his two seasons as a starter and has more than enough tape to prove he can get the job done early in his career. There are issues with his game, most notably when it comes to power and inside run defense, but Gross-Matos has a top shelf toolbox who may just need some time and strength development before being an every down player.

*If you want to know who I am going to be hoping for at the top of round 2, well here he is. The odds are he will be a first round pick, however. With that said, many have a cluster of edge talent below Young and if he isn’t the flavor other EDGE-needy teams are wanting, he could slip. Gross-Matos has some baby-deer in him still, a kid who simply needs to add core strength and grow into his own body. However I have multiple game notes with the name “Myles Garrett” in them. He plays with that rare combination of explosion, length, leverage, and strides. At his absolute peak, Gross-Matos is closer to Young than people think.

  1. AJ Epenesa / Iowa / 6’5 – 275

Grade: 82

Summary: Junior entry. Two year starter from Glen Carbon, Illinois. A two-time All Big 10 Defensive Lineman, including a first team honor in 2019. Epenesa is a big, long, and physical lineman who can be moved inside and out for a versatile-front scheme. He brings the proper mix of discipline and effort to the table every play. While he lacks some of the standout traits teams want in a pass rusher, Epenesa does a lot for a defense that won’t always show up in the box score. His ceiling doesn’t look as high as some others, but his floor is raised and will wear several hats at a high level when called on.

*There was a stretch where I thought Epenesa was going to end up as a top 10 prospect. I didn’t up with him there, but I still think he is a solid first round pick if he can find the right scheme. The CRASH end who I spoke of earlier? He is an ideal fit for that role in a defense that can change it’s front without taking guys off the field needs someone like Epenesa on the edge. He isn’t a plus athlete but he can win with his power and advanced hand usage. If he falls into round 2, NYG will be very interested.

  1. K’Laivon Chaisson / LSU / 6’3 – 254

Grade: 80

Summary: Redshirt sophomore entry. Two year starter from Houston, Texas. After a 5-star recruit caliber high school career, Chaisson started week 1 of his true freshman season, a true rarity for the program. He showed off plenty of upside that year but a torn ACL week 1 of his sophomore season caused him to miss the year. He had to fight through an ankle injury early in 2019, thus his experience as he enters the league is limited. With that said, Chaisson’s movement skills and leverage jump off the screen. He is a feisty, explosive straight line edge rusher who can cause the offensive line to change their approach. His body still has a lot of filling out to do, but nobody will question this kids work ethic. After all, he was a permanent team captain as a true junior who wore the heralded #18 jersey for the National Champion Tigers.

*Here is your classic high risk, high reward edge defender. I could see someone using a mid-first on him and while I wouldn’t look down on it, I simply wouldn’t use that early of a pick on someone like this. He has more than enough speed off the edge, he makes a lot of hustle plays. But he had a knee injury, he lacks power, and there isn’t enough advancement in his skill set. I see a 2nd rounder here but one who can easily end up being one of the top 10 players in this entire draft class 3 years from now.

  1. Zack Baun / Wisconsin / 6’2 – 238

Grade: 80

Summary: Fifth year senior entry from Brown Deer, Wisconsin. Two year starter who ended his career with a bang, earning 1st Team All Big 10 and 2nd Team All American honors. Baun missed all of 2017 with a foot injury but hasn’t missed a thing since. The former high school athlete quarterback made the full time transition to defense during his senior season and evolved into one of the top defensive prospects in the class. He has incredible movement skills as an edge rusher, showing the unique blend of speed, burst, and agility to beat a blocker several ways. He is far along in his development when it comes to technique and mental understanding of the game. He may not be an ideal every down defender right away because of a lack of size against straight ahead run blocking, but his style of play and intentions to mold himself will eventually make him a quality starter.

*A credible case can be made for putting Baun at linebacker, but whatever. He is a 2nd round pick in my eyes, one who could be higher than Chaisson depending on scheme and how you need to use them. Baun isn’t big enough to live on the outside as a pass rusher but he can be moved to an off-ball role. What many don’t see in him is the fact he can cover much better than other off ball linebackers. He didn’t get a ton of action in that role, but the former high school quarterback moves around back there like he really knows what he is doing. I think the versatility will be attractive to the Giants, but does he fit the physical profile of what they are looking for? I think if they go for a front seven defender in round 2, he won’t be at the top of their list.

  1. Jonathan Greenard / Florida / 6’3 – 263

Grade: 79

Summary: Fifth year senior from Hiram, Georgia. Spent four years at Louisville before grad-transferring to Florida. He was a 2 year starter in total and saved his best football for 2019, where he earned 1st Team All SEC honors after leading the conference with 15.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. Greenard has the kind of length and fast twitch play who will give tackles a headache off the edge. He plays with the proper blend of speed and power and should have plenty more bulk to add to his wide frame. When it comes to total production, Greenard’s last two real seasons accrued 31 TFL and 16.5 sacks over 25 games across two different conferences. There are some power issues, notably against the run, that need to be looked into but this is the kind of athlete and person a team wants to add to their team. His relentless, hard working style combined with quality tape and physical gifts make him a safe bet to be a productive player.

*I am surprised there isn’t more hype around Greenard. He didn’t have the best workout at the combine and I will say he is less explosive than Chaisson, but he plays heavier, has more length, and seems to have better decision making ability. I have seen some Osi Umenyiora in him for what it’s worth. He has some medicals that need to check out as well but if they do, he is a guy I would keep a close eye on in the 3rd round with the hope if he falls into NYG’s lap with that compensatory pick if they don’t address the EDGE spot by then.

  1. Marlon Davidson / Auburn / 6’3 – 303

Grade: 79

Summary: Senior entry from fro, Greenville, Alabama. A rare four year starter from the Auburn program. Davidson may not be an ideal fit for a cut and dry scheme, but with the amount of teams looking to “get multiple” in relation to their looks, Davidson can be a key target. He is a tweener without a true position and lacks a standout strength, but he can fill into multiple spots and perform well enough. Davidson is a powerful force who can create mismatches and do some of the dirty work to keep others clean and unoccupied. The reliable and caliber of a player who every good defense needs.

*Similar to Epenesa, Davidson appears to be a really nice fit if NYG is looking to add a legit CRASH end to the line. He played all over the edge at Auburn and was equally effective against the run and pass. Combine that with his mindset and blue collar attitude, I can see him being a favorite of this coaching staff during the scouting process to the point of him being in the discussion with their 2nd round pick.

  1. Terrell Lewis / Alabama / 6’5 – 262

Grade: 78

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Washington, D.C. A one year starter. 2nd Team All SEC in 2019. Lewis was a 5-star recruit out of high school who began his career strong as a rotational edge rusher, ended his career strong finishing second on the team with 11.5 TFL and leading the team with 14 pressures, but missed a combined 25 games over the two middle years with different injuries. He is a tools-rich, versatile athlete who can make things happen from a standup outside linebacker position, but his medicals will be a very important factor to his grade. His aptitude to play assignment football will be a welcomed addition for a defensive coaching staff that can use him on a rotational basis.

*If it weren’t for the injuries, one can realistically say Lewis is a first round prospect. But you can’t look past the fact he was a one year starter and has only played 16 career games. His tools are top notch, he plays a violent game, and he had a really strong Senior Bowl week. He plays a position that every team is looking for and he fits into every scheme, thus I don’t see his stock plummeting draft weekend.

  1. Jabari Zuniga / Florida / 6’3 – 264

Grade: 78

Summary: Fifth year senior from Marietta, Georgia. Started games all four years, but was considered the full time starter in 2018 and 2019 only. Zuniga began playing football as a senior in high school before hitting a growth spurt and evolving into an impressive specimen who had to be developed. His talent alone raised eyebrows in 2016, as he played sparingly but still led the team with 5.5 sacks. Ever since then, he has been used as a versatile inside-out player who can take advantage of interior blockers and tackles alike. He has a style that may be too quick for guards and centers and too powerful for the tackles. The tools are there to be developed and the flashes on tape go to show there is a ceiling higher than most edge prospects in the class. He had a hard time staying healthy but if a team can pinpoint the right role for him and he can stay on the field, watch out.

*Put this kid in the group of prospects who needs to be used correctly for him to reach even somewhere close to his ceiling. I’ve seen a lot of him over the past two years and it is hard to imagine there is a role for him on every defense. It could cause him to drop a bit. Does he fit on he NYG defense? I think he could be an undersized (slightly) CRASH end who I’ve spoken about a few times. If they really want to add a guy to that role but they miss out on one in rounds 1 and 2, check to see if this kid is there end of round 3 / early round 4. I think he can contribute year one.

  1. Darrell Taylor / Tennessee / 6’4 – 267

Grade: 77

Summary: Fifth year senior from Hopewell, Virginia. Three year starter who won the team’s MVP award in 2018. At this point, Taylor has come up a bit short when it comes to consistency and overall production when considering his upside and flashes. When it comes to physical traits, he has all the bend and power that will make him a handful for blockers to deal with off the edge. He makes a powerful impact upon contact and shows the ability to get off blocks with violence. The issues exist in his consistency and instincts. Tennessee coaches have been driven mad because of what he shows in flashes vs. his lack of consistency. He doesn’t react fast enough and will get caught out of position. The physical traits are hard to look past, however, and this is a guy who had 21 TFL / 16.5 sacks over the past two years and played really well against the SEC.

*Don’t sleep on this kid. Something didn’t click for him at Tennessee and I’ve been told it wasn’t all on him. I watch this kid for stretches and wonder why he isn’t dominating. He is more powerful than almost everyone he matched up against, he plays with tremendous leverage, and there is enough juice off the snap. Maybe one of those guys who just doesn’t feel the game OR maybe he ends up being a top 3 edge guy out of this class. I wouldn’t be surprised by either.

  1. Josh Uche / Michigan / 6’1 – 245

Grade: 76

Summary: Senior entry from Miami, Florida. A one year starter who made the 2nd Team All Big in 2019, Honorable Mention in 2018. Josh Uche was a heavy-rotational player as a junior and led the team in sacks on a unit that included Devin Bush, Rashan Gary, and Chase Winovich. He repeated as the team’s leading sack artist as the full time starter in 2019 as a senior. Uche has exciting potential that stems from his versatility, explosion, and bend. The twitchy defender plays smart and can be moved around based on the situation, but he will make his money off the edge. He needs to bulk up a bit so he can handle the pro-power game, but at the very least he will be a solid 3rd down defender who a creative mind can use in multiple roles.

*If you like Zack Baun for NYG, you have to like Uche a couple rounds later. Uche had to sit behind some really talented edge rushers at Michigan but when he got his shot in 2019, he proved he can handle it. Some teams hate the 1-year starters and I understand why, but I think he is worth the gamble if he is around at the start of day 3. He would be a perfect BUCK fit in the new scheme as long as his medicals check out.

  1. Julian Okwara / Notre Dame / 6’4 – 252

Grade: 76

Summary: Senior entry from Charlotte, North Carolina. A two year starter who had his 2019 cut short because of a broken leg. Brother of current Lions defensive end Romeo Okwara. A native of Nigeria who moved to the states when he was 8 years old. Julian will likely grade out slightly better than his brother but there are questions whether or not he will progress in the same manner. He had a very solid 2018 where his burst and bend were able to disrupt the opposition. However he disappeared and seemed like a different player before his injury as a senior. The position he plays, the last name, and his 2018 could cause a team to gamble but he is more developmental than he is ready for NFL action.

*High risk, high reward prospect who I think fits best as a stand up 3-4 outside linebacker. I think he ends up going higher than where I have him pegged right now for what its worth. I really didn’t like what I saw against Georgia, Michigan, and Southern California when he was matched up against pro-caliber linemen. Overmatched when it came to power and strength and we aren’t talking about a special athlete off the ball either. He looks the part and he was good in 2018, that’s all I have to go on really.

  1. Bradlee Anae / Utah / 6’3 – 257

Grade: 75

Summary: Senior entry from Laie, Hawaii. Three year starter who won the 2019 Morris Trophy Award, given to the Pac 12’s top lineman. Two time 1st Team All Pac 12 and 2019 All American. Anae’s production, competitive style of play, and strong week at the Senior Bowl create a lot of arrows toward him being a quality NFL starter. However there are a lot of warts on tape that center around his overall athletic ability and upside. He has tight hips, doesn’t play a good arm extension game, and won’t beat many tackles up the edge. He projects to be a rotational third down player who can be trusted to make things happen on occasion, but not consistently.

*From the beginning of the season through the entire process up to now, I have had Anae as an early day 3 pick. No. I’m not being stubborn. I’ve had dozens and dozens of grades fluctuate up and down multiple rounds since September. I simply just don’t see an every down impact guy here, but by no means do I dislike him. He brings great energy to a defense and he knows how to win in traffic. I just see a limit to how much impact he can make play to play and is best suited for a number three role who comes onto the field in specific situations.

  1. Alton Robinson / Syracuse / 6’3 – 264

Grade: 74

Summary: Senior entry from Converse, Texas. Three year starter for Syracuse after spending his freshman season at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. Earned 2nd Team All ACC honors in 2018 after finishing third in the conference with 17 tackles for loss and second with 10 sacks. Took a step back as a senior but still earned Honorable Mention honors. Robinson checks a lot of boxes that coaches and scouts look for in a high ceiling edge rusher prospect. He has a strong presence and showed flashes of proper pad level, agility, and finishing ability. There are a lot of inconsistencies in his arsenal but he has produced enough across multiple years against both the run and pass to show there is something to work with. He can be a rotational player early on with the upside of being a quality starter.

*Robinson is similar to Okwara. He just didn’t look the same in 2019 that he did in 2018, that is a red flag to me. It’s not like he saw a massive amount of double teams or anything but I think coaches saw his 2018 tape when scouting and they found ways to neutralize him. Still good enough to be a 4th or 5th rounder, but I was projecting early day 2 when the season began.

  1. Alex Highsmith / Charlotte / 6’3 – 248

Grade: 74

Summary: Fifth year senior from Wilmington, North Carolina. A former walk on who started for two years. In those two years, he earned 1st Team All Conference USA both seasons while adding a 3rd Team All American accolade in 2019. Highsmith set, and then broke, Charlotte’s single season tackle for loss record over his junior and senior seasons. He showed flashes of dominance and despite the lack of ideal tools when it comes to size and speed, created optimism around what he can be in the NFL. He has a lot of inconsistencies that stem from a lack of power and pure explosion, but in a game and specific role where a lot of the action is played in a phone booth, Highsmith’s quickness and low center of gravity along with crafty hands and footwork could carve out a role for him as a situational edge rusher.

*There are a few scouts who really like this kid and have projected him to go day 2. I liked him enough on tape to recommend him for Shrine week, but I never saw anything more than day three. I then got to see him up close and personal at Shrine and walked away with the same thought, day 3. He is similar to Oshane Ximines but a notch below across the board.

  1. Delontae Scott / SMU: 74
  2. Trevis Gipson / Tulsa: 74
  3. James Lynch / Baylor: 73
  4. Jonathan Garvin / Miami: 73
  5. Carter Coughlin / Minnesota: 73
  6. DJ Wonnum / South Carolina: 72
  7. Kenny Willekes / Michigan State: 72
  8. Jason Stowbridge / North Carolina: 72
  9. Nick Coe / Auburn: 72
  10. Azur Kamara / Kansas: 71

NYG APPROACH

While it is difficult to exactly pinpoint which kind of edge presence NYG will go after, I think this is going to be addressed with one of their first four picks. As I said earlier, you can look for the BUCK (pass rushing linebacker) or the CRASH (3-4/4-3 DE hybrid). Because of what they have in Carter, Ximines, and Fackrell, I think they are going to lean toward the CRASH end. This is a spot that will demand more size and presence, not just pure edge speed and explosion. I do think they will add both throughout the weekend, however. In addition, if a top value drops to them and it is more of a BUCK type presence, I think they pull that trigger.

Now, I think NYG will lean toward offensive line with their first pick at 4. That approach opens the door for this EDGE presence at the top of round 2. One of the CRASH end candidates could slip through the cracks right into their lap like Epenesa, Gross-Matos, Davidson, Lewis…etc. One of the BUCK guys could slip into their laps like Chaisson or Baun. These stacks (or ranks) could slightly alter based on what NYG feels they need more but no matter the case, there will be someone available who helps this team right away. Remember, this team wants real versatility and I think they will weigh a lot when their second pick is on the clock.

Apr 052020
 
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Derrick Brown, Auburn Tigers (January 1, 2020)

Derrick Brown – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2020 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Tackles

Format includes a quick position overview, my grading scale and what the number mean, the summary and final grade from my final report on my top 15, a quick additional note on the player, and my ranks 16-25 with grades only.

*I AM NOT DOING NFL COMPARISONS

QUICK POSITION OVERVIEW

As previously stated, the unknown surrounding what the NYG defense will actually look like can make this position group look pretty cloudy. No matter the case, it is widely considered the deepest and possibly the best position on the entire roster. Leonard Williams was franchised, Dalvin Tomlinson is coming off his best season, and Dexter Lawrence was one of the top 5 rookies in the league last year when it comes to overall grades. That is a really solid starting point for a defensive line that needs to be “multiple”, but the strength doesn’t end there. BJ Hill, even though he saw a dip in playing time, is a really reliable and solid fourth lineman who hasn’t missed a game in 2 years. Austin Johnson was signed from TEN to add a better backup nose tackle presence, he hasn’t missed a game in over three years. And lastly there are reasons to be optimistic about RJ McIntosh and Chris Slayton and their ability to provide quality depth and specific role playing. All in, this defensive line is capable of dominating the inside running game and keeping the linebackers clean. On passing downs, they would be an ideal compliment to an elite outside pass rush presence but they aren’t capable of being the primary force in that department.

GRADING SCALE

90+ All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

81-84: 1st rounder – should be able to play right away

79-80: 2nd rounder – Should be able to rotate right away – Year 2 starter

77-78: 3rd rounder – Should be able to rotate by end of rookie year – Year 2/3 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 / Development guy

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

  1. Derrick Brown / Auburn / 6’5 – 326

Grade: 84

Summary: Three year starter from Sugar Hill, Georgia. Two time All-SEC performer and unanimous 1st Team All American in 2019. Brown has been NFL-ready for multiple years now. This kind of power and speed don’t come around often but he also combines it with excellent on-field intelligence and an evolving skill set. He makes the kind of eye opening play week to week that makes him appear as a bidding star. While Brown doesn’t offer much variety as a pass rusher just yet, he is still considered a three down player because of how much his tool set and hustle can create. He is a fit for any scheme and can fill multiple spots along the defensive line.

*This is the exact kind of defensive tackle talent who Gettleman loves. Huge on all levels, violent and heavy on contact, dominant tendencies, and versatile. But could I really see him adding another DT talent to the team with as many roles they have elsewhere? Yes, I do. Both Tomlinson and Williams aren’t signed beyond 2020, and the draft is very much about your team moving forward. The defensive line is where he wants to be strong and deep. Brown is widely considered a top 10 player in this class, some have him in the top 5. All of that are reasons why DG could credibly go after him but I don’t think it will happen, especially if they stay at 4. At the end of the day though, I think NYG will have players graded higher and he will want to spread resources out after doing what he did along the defensive line over the past 12 months.

  1. Javon Kinlaw / South Carolina / 6’5 – 324

Grade: 83

Summary: Fourth year senior from Charleston, South Carolina. Started for three years at South Carolina after spending his freshman year at Jones County Junior College. After a childhood filled with adversity, Kinlaw molded himself from overweight junior college hopeful to a probable first round pick. The tool set is among the best in the class at the position and there is enough tape to conform he is much more than a blank slate with potential. Kinlaw has shown the ability to take over games from the middle with his ability to create a new line of scrimmage and close in on the action with violence, power, and speed. There are several technique-based parts to his game that need work and consistency, but he is very coachable and will make a difference early even while he tries to learn the game.

*If you have some time, read up on Kinlaw’s upbringing, it is a great story. I’ve read that he is going top 10 and there is a chance he goes in front of Brown. I don’t see it grade wise, but Kinlaw’s tools are more impressive. He is 324 pounds and he has minimal loose meat on his frame and he could likely hold another 10-15 pounds without losing juice. He already has rare tools, that could put him over the top. His issues revolve around consistency and effort. He doesn’t always try hard and he doesn’t really know what he is doing yet. A team will need to be patient with him and he will need to work really hard on developing the skill set. If he reaches his upside, he can be the most dominant DT in the league and I mean that.

  1. Neville Gallimore / Oklahoma / 6’2 – 304

Grade: 80

Summary: Fifth year senior from Ottawa, Ontario. A four year starter who has played up and down the Sooners defensive line. A two time All Big 12 honoree, including first team in 2019. Gallimore was the first ever Canadian to play in the high school US Army All-American Bowl. His combination of size, strength, and speed is hard to find and he progressed his skill set all five years in college. In a league where everyone is looking for more pass rushers, Gallimore is going to be a sought after asset. He is a really quick, disruptive force up the middle who can beat blockers off the ball and win post-engagement. He dropped about 25 pounds between 2018 and 2019 and even though he gave a little as a run defender, his ability to impact the passing game is tempting for any scheme.

*I was surprised to not see this kid in the draft last year. He went back to Oklahoma for his fifth year senior season, lost some weight, and showed he can wear another hat on the defensive line. Gallimore is really versatile, maybe the most versatile guy in this group. He can play big and stout, he can play leaner while adding more pass rush presence. There is an outside shot he slips into the end of round 1.

  1. Justin Madubuike / Texas A&M / 6’3 – 293

Grade: 79

Summary: Junior entry from McKinney, Texas. Two-year starter who posted 10+ tackles for loss two straight seasons with his best football coming against his toughest competition. Madubuike may not be a fit for every team, thus his value is going to be hard to pinpoint. However this is a quick, powerful, 290+ pounder who has a knack for finding creases and lanes to the football. He is an ideal fit for a team that wants a throwback three technique who can shoot gaps and cause havoc. If a team wants him on the field to stay at home and absorb blockers while maintaining his anchor, he will struggle. While he has to be carefully implemented into a scheme, he has the upside of being a top shelf interior pass rusher who can still make a difference on running downs.

*I don’t see the fit with NYG here, regardless of whether or not he drops draft weekend. As said in the summary, he won’t be a fit for every scheme but then again, he has a high pass rush ceiling and good coaches will always find a way to work with that.

  1. Ross Blacklock / TCU / 6’3 – 290

Grade: 79

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Missouri City, Texas. A two year starter who ended his career with a 2019 1st Team All Big 12 honor. Blacklock opened eyes as a redshirt freshman in 2017 but a torn achilles tendon prior to the start of 2018 forced him to miss the year. He bounced back with vengeance, sharing the team lead with 3.5 sacks while adding 9.5 tackles for loss. Blacklock is a disruptive penetrator who has excellent size and burst. He can close a gap in a hurry in pursuit but also shows a power game upon contact with blockers. He is an upside-based pick wjp can be a package defender right away with the potential of being a top tier interior pass rusher down the road.

*Some are putting this kid in the round 1 discussion, some have him going in round 3. The lack size and length is a concern for me when it comes to every down duty, but there is no denying his ability to burst through the line and find the ball. He can be a disruptor from the three-technique position, but I wouldn’t want him as a stay at home guy. Similar to Madubuike, he needs the right role.

  1. Raekwon Davis / Alabama / 6’6 – 311

Grade: 77

Summary: Senior entry. Three year starter from Meridian, Alabama. Three time All SEC defender and s 2019 All American. Davis put himself onto the national radar as a sophomore in 2017 with 69 tackles and 8.5 sacks. The tool set, as we are used to seeing from the Alabama program, was elite. He was wrecking havoc with his combination of hustle, length, and speed. Fast forward two years and hasn’t been able to match that production, most notably as a pass rusher. There is still a sense of rawness to his game and once can rightfully question how well he can perform week to week. The inconsistencies can be maddening at times but he still flashes dominant traits. He can be a solid starter or rotational player, but there are certain roles he needs to steer clear from.

*Davis may get drafted a lot higher than this because of his ceiling. He has shown in the past that he can be a dominant inside force. The inconsistency was maddening though and we can’t blame coaching. If he couldn’t put it together week to week coming from that program, I think there is plenty of credible reason to believe he will be best used on a rotation basis in the NFL.

  1. DaVon Hamilton / Ohio State / 6’4 – 320

Grade: 77

Summary: Fifth year senior entry. One year starter who finished 3rd Team All Big 10 in 2019. Hamilton was part of a really deep and talented defensive line group in is early years, which made it tough for him to see the field. He finally got his shot as a senior and did not disappoint. He had 10.5 tackles for loss and 6 sacks. He is a big, long, thick interior defender who will be able to handle the size and strength of the NFL right away. He needs to clean up hand techniques and time will tell if he is simply a role player or someone who can stay on the field. Even though his upside is limited, he can still be a solid, important player who best fits in a 4-3 front.

*It is a tough sell to use a day 1 or day 2 pick on a guy who was really a 1 year contributor/starter. But coaches reports on him are glowing and he is the kind of alpha-male you put on your defensive line and the overall presence of the group is elevated. Of all the talent on the OSU defense, it was this guy who everyone viewed as the power-force. Not the most talented, but he is a safe bet to at least be a solid player who can start in multiple schemes.

  1. Jordan Elliot / Missouri / 6’4 – 302

Grade: 76

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Missouri City, Texas. Two-year starter. Began his career at Texas after transferring following the 2016 season. Elliot is a penetrator with size and finishing power who can impose his will on ball carriers. He has plus-speed and quickness in space and can be a package-player at the next level. He doesn’t engage his lower half enough and gives too much ground against the running game and double teams to be viewed as an every down player at this point but with the amount of defensive line rotations the league has now, he will have a place.

*If you catch the right game, you will walk away from it saying Elliot is a 2nd round pick. He is a good athlete, pursues well, and moves like a guy who plays at 270 pounds. There are some things I don’t like about his game though revolving around pad level and hand usage. There is a lot of work to be done here but yes, he has pass rush potential which could get him drafted higher than this.

  1. John Penisini / Utah / 6’1 – 318

Grade: 75

Summary: Fifth year senior from West Jordan, Utah. Two year starter who was 2nd team All Pac 12 in both 2018 and 2019. Began his career at Snow College in 2015 and sat out 2016 before taking the field for Utah in 2017. Penisini is a dirty-work defender who doesn’t jump off the screen with talent of the box score with production. But his style of play, his body, and his smarts make him an incredibly effective player on running downs. He plays low and strong, rarely giving an inch, to free up defenders around him. When a play is there to be made, he will make it. Penisini isn’t going to be much of a pass rusher but this is the kind of 2-gapper every defense wants on their roster. A very underrated prospect.

*I’ll tell ya what, when I spent the week down at Shrine in January, Penisini was the guy who improved his stock the most via his play. He was dominant at times. I don’t think many will have a grade on him where I do, but I am really confident this kid is going to play early in his career and may end up being a top notch nose tackle in the league. Not a guy who fills up the stat sheet, but one who makes play to play impact and helps others out. Don’t be surprised if you see NYG add him to their DT group day 3, he can be multiple.

  1. Leki Fotu / Utah / 6’5 – 330

Grade: 74

Summary: Senior entry from West Valley City, Utah. Two year starter who was 2nd Team All Pac 12 in 2018 and 1st Team in 2019. Also added a 2nd Team All American honor as a senior. Fotu played just one year of high school football, as he had an extensive and accomplished history with rugby. His physical tool set is rare, as he possesses top tier size and thickness but is still a rather comfortable athlete. For a player this big and athletic, he doesn’t dominate the point of attack like he should but a case can rightfully be made that he is still figuring the game out. At the every least, Fotu can be a two gap run defender who frees up linebackers and will make the occasional play on the ball himself. He is a try-hard player who will stick around in the league for awhile, but may never be enough of a pass rusher to be considered an every down threat.

*Most have Fotu higher than this, and I won’t fault them for it. He is a really good body, he is still relatively new to the game, and he plays hard. Give a coach this kind of frame and hustle to work with, and they will be pleased. He plays a bit too high for my liking and there were long stretches where he disappeared. I still see day three value here though, he can play a role right away and there is some upside if he can figure out the skill set.

  1. Benito Jones / Ole Miss / 6’1 – 316

Grade: 73

Summary: Senior entry from Waynesboro, Mississippi. Four year starter who came to Ole Miss as a 5-star recruit and the 2016 Mississippi High School Player of the Year. Earned 2nd Team All SEC in 2019. Jones is the classic defensive tackle force who often gets overlooked when it comes to accolades and awards. He does a lot of dirty work that elevates players around him, but rarely gets his name called when outsiders discuss impact players. Coaches and scouts will see just how good of an every down force he is, and can be. He has always worked on the family farm during the offseason and that kind of power and natural strength shows up on tape. He is very effective with his hands and he shows surprising pop out of his stance. He has a quicker first step than most will assume and combined with his tool set, it will cause offensive lines to plan around him. He is the kind of player who impacts the game so many ways and he will outperform several players drafted ahead of him.

*It sounds like I have a higher grade on Jones than what is out there in the league. I re-watched a few things and it only assured me that I have the right outlook on him. Jones is going to be a really solid nose tackle. While that role may not be as widely uses as it used to be, there are still enough teams that use it. Jones screams PIT to me. That old school nose that makes a huge difference. I’m not sure NYG is confident in what is behind Lawrence in that role and if Jones actually does fall into late day three like I have been told, he would be a great get.

  1. Darrion Daniels / Nebraska / 6’3 – 311

Grade: 73

Summary: Fifth year senior from Dallas, Texas. Two year starter at Oklahoma State and a starter in his lone season at Nebraska as a grad transfer. Team captain who earned Honorable Mention All Big 10 honors in 2019. Daniels is a high-character player who will show no hesitation in doing the dirty work inside for a defense. He can swallow space and blockers consistently, freeing up linebackers to do their job against the run. He won’t be an every down player, as he simply doesn’t offer much against the pass athletically. He has limited range and doesn’t fight through contact. Daniels won’t be a fit for every scheme, but he will find a home as a backup nose tackle in a 3-4 front.

*The grad transfer situation really worked out for Daniels. Coming into the year, he was barely a thought for most but his performance in the unique Nebraska defense opened eyes. He got a the nod to play at the Senior Bowl and I thought he was one of the top interior run defenders there. He is a classic dirty work guy and that teams that use a 3-4 front will like him enough to call on him earlier than others.

  1. McTelvin Agim / Arkansas / 6’3 – 309

Grade: 72

Summary: Senior entry from Texarkana, Texas. A four year starter who played defensive end from 2016-2018 before moving inside for good as a senior. Agim was a five star recruit out of high school who had a blend of size, speed, and strength that was rare. He was a two time state champion in the shot put who was clocked sub 4.6 in the forty. While his speed has taken a hit as he put on 40 pounds since then, his tool set is still considered to be a major plus. Agim will flash good burst and power off the ball and now that he is inside full time, where he should have been all four years of his college career, he can develop at the position a bit better and get rid of the technique deficiencies. He isn’t a stout run defender and will disappear for stretches, but he is a solid rotational prospect who can be a very solid 3rd down option for 4-3 fronts.

*This is the kind of prospect who a coach will see on paper, pop in some film, and immediately put him on their list. Coaches always think they can develop the tools and Agim is no slouch there. He had an underwhelming career compared to what people projected, but he was moved around a ton. If a team can really hone in on a specific spot, Agim has the potential to be an oversized penetrator and disruptor. He has a lot of work to do, but the base is higher than most down here.

  1. Khalil Davis / Nebraska / 6’1 – 308

Grade: 72

Summary: Fifth year senior entry from Blue Springs, Missouri. A one year starter who was a significant part of their defensive line rotation for three seasons. Won the team’s Defensive Lineman of the Year Award in both 2018 and 2019. Honorable Mention All Big 10 in 2018, 3rd Team in 2019. Davis increased his production every year of his career to the point where he led the Cornhuskers in sacks with 8 as a senior while also leading the defensive line in tackles for loss as both a junior and senior. The plus-athlete has rare speed and pop for the position and he has experience lining up inside the tackle and outside the tight end. That kind of versatility will help him stick to a roster early and his long term outlook will heavily depend on him developing his skill set to hide his size and length issues. He is not stout against the run but he will create plays in space.

*Man, I watched the Davis twins and spoke with them at length down at Shrine week. Both are great kids and both had a great week down there in practice. Khalil is slightly better. He was dominating the one on ones against offensive linemen with is ability to get off the ball fast, low, and active. I’m not sure I want him as a stay at home run defender, as he just doesn’t have the size, but let this guy in on passing downs and let him shoot the gap. He is going to make things happen. His versatility is a plus.

  1. Robert Landers / Ohio State / 6’1- 285

Grade: 71

Summary: Fifth year senior entry from Dayton, Ohio. A rotational defensive lineman on a team that has been packed with NFL talent there for years. Landers has never been the most talented, or even close to it, defender in the room at Ohio State but it was hard to ignore him and the overachiever style of play. He is built low to the ground and his explosion out of his stance with tornado-hands make him a tough and annoying matchup for blockers. He has subtle but assertive and productive movement that can give him enough space to slip through beyond the line of scrimmage. Landers won’t be a fit for every scheme, but he is a solid bet to make an impact on a situational basis.

*I am taking a chance on Landers. He is undersized on multiple levels but in an era where defensive linemen rotate more than ever, I am trying to find a spot on the 53 man roster for him no matter what scheme I run. He gets off the ball so well, plays with such easy but powerful knee bend, and nobody was able to consistently lock him up. He made so much impact on that OSU front but he wasn’t an every down guy and there were others who simply got the attention.

  1. Malcolm Roach / Texas: 69
  2. Carlos Davis / Nebraska: 69
  3. Broderick Washington / Texas Tech: 69
  4. Tyler Clark / Georgia: 68
  5. Eli Hanback / Virginia: 68
  6. Brendon Hayes / Central Florida: 68
  7. Bravvion Roy / Baylor: 67
  8. Raequan Williams / Michigan State: 67
  9. Tershawn Wharton: 67
  10. Auzoyah Alufoahi / West Georgia: 67

NYG APPROACH

I have tried to break down what Miami did along their defensive front last season as best I could in an effort to try and find what the team needs up front. When it comes to the DT positions, I think they are all set for 2020. They have quality starters, quality backups, and a couple guys in the wings worth developing another season. The question resides in post-2020 though. We do not know if Leonard Williams and/or Dalvin Tomlinson will be in blue. Austin Johnson signed a one-year contract. If you believe in the approach of adding defensive line talent every year in the draft (I do, when you have 6+ picks), there needs to be one added.

Now within the scheme, one can make the argument they should look more at a 3-4/4-3 defensive end type (the Crash end) because that is where they are a bit thin right now. So maybe we take 1 or 2 guys from the EDGE preview which is coming up on Tuesday. If NYG can be patient and pursue an interior body on day 3 with one of those late picks, I would be pleased. I think you can find a guy back there who will add some competition to the back end group (McIntosh-Slayton) and potentially start to fill the hole that will be created if Tomlinson and/or Johnson and/or Williams don’t come back.

The only scenario where I can see them going after an early DT talent like Derrick Brown is if they have a Tomlinson trade planned. I can’t see it though, as he has one year left on a rookie deal and he isn’t that special. We have seen crazier things happen though and if DG is as stubborn as some make him out to be, well then here you go.

Apr 032020
 
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Isaiah Simmons, Clemson Tigers (December 7, 2019)

Isaiah Simmons – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2020 NFL Draft Preview: Linebackers

Format includes a quick position overview, my grading scale and what the number mean, the summary and final grade from my final report on my top 15, a quick additional note on the player, and my ranks 16-25 with grades only.

*I AM NOT DOING NFL COMPARISONS

QUICK POSITION OVERVIEW

Keep in mind I have an “EDGE” position preview coming up next week, so I may not go into some of those linebackers in this preview. I am mainly talking about the off-ball guys who primarily play between the tackles. Depending on what NYG uses as their base personnel, we are likely looking at the newly signed Blake Martinez and second year kid Ryan Connelly, who is coming off a torn ACL after raising some eyebrows in 4 games. Neither of them are worth getting overly excited about, but that doesn’t mean the position is a weak point, not at all. In fact, especially if Connelly recovers well, the two should provide really good run defense between the tackles and to the sidelines.

The question here is two-fold. Will they be exposed in the passing game? Is there enough depth and intra-roster competition? David Mayo will be back to provide both and while we can’t look down on his performance in 2019, he is best suited for the backup role. Josiah Tauaefa looks to be a solid special teamer and backup, maybe similar to what they had in Chase Blackburn and Calvin Munson in the past. I’m not sure I see Chris Peace or Nate Harvey sticking to a 53 man roster. I think the hole they have here is coverage, as none of the above mentioned guys can hang with quality tight ends or pass catching backs. It’s been an issue for years and there isn’t a current solution on the roster.

GRADING SCALE

90+ All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

81-84: 1st rounder – should be able to play right away

79-80: 2nd rounder – Should be able to rotate right away – Year 2 starter

77-78: 3rd rounder – Should be able to rotate by end of rookie year – Year 2/3 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 / Development guy

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

*Zack Baun, Terrell Lewis, Azur Kamara, Carter Coughlin are all graded in EDGE group

  1. Isaiah Simmons / Clemson / 6’4 – 238

Grade: 89

Summary: Fourth year junior entry and two year starter from Olathe, Kansas. After an accomplished high school football and long jump career, Simmons redshirted his first year on campus at Clemson. When he finally got on the field in 2017, his upside jumped off the screen and the coaches knew they had a budding star who couldn’t be kept to one position. They moved him around a lot, seeing snaps at linebacker, nickel corner, safety, and edge rusher. It resulted in two straight years of production across the board, leading the team in tackles in 2018 and 2019 respectively in addition to 25.5 TFL and 9.5 sacks. Simmons also intercepted 4 passes, broke up 13 others, and forced 4 fumbles over that span. Simply put, he is a defensive playmaker who will wear several hats for a defense if schemed properly. He is a very non-traditional player, thus putting him into a traditional role would be a massive mistake. Simmons is the player you scheme around, not the other way around.

*I have done more research and re-watching of tape on Simmons than any non-QB I have ever scouted. No, not because I wasn’t sure of him being elite or close to elite, but because he has played in countless roles against countless style-offenses. He plays to a sub 4.4 (which he ran at the combine), his stats are NOT inflated, and what really puts me over the hill on him are the reports I got on his character and intelligence. If you are going to gamble on an athlete at the top of the draft, make sure the intangibles are there. Simmons’ role within this defense is unknown to me – that is above my pay grade.

Do I think it can work? Absolutely. Do I think this kid is going to make plays on a defense that doesn’t have a playmaker? Absolutely. Do I think this kid can cover tight ends, spy the most athletic quarterbacks, and rush the passer? Absolutely. You just have to make sure you aren’t keeping him in one spot. As said in my summary, you need to build the scheme around him, not the other way around. If this new, motivated, young, innovation-hungry scheme is confident they can do with Simmons, pull the trigger. But one must know, he isn’t instinctive or stout against the run. He flashes power on the move but he won’t handle NFL linemen and blocking tight ends well. Put him in the wrong role, he is a day 2 kind of player.

  1. Kenneth Murray / Oklahoma / 6’3 – 241

Grade: 87

Summary: Junior entry. Three year starter from Missouri City, Texas. Murray burst onto the scene in 2017, winning the Big 12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year Award. He was a part of the All-Big 12 team all three years and ended his career as an All American. He started all 42 games of that career and has been the heartbeat to the defense. Murray has been touted for both his leadership and play by coaches and opponents alike. He is the kind of player who any team can stick into the middle of their defense and know they have a true three down player who will make others around him better. Murray has the physical tools and mental acuity to be a star in the middle.

*It is possible, that if it weren’t for Simmons, Murray would be in the discussion for the 4th overall pick in my eyes. I don’t think he would end up being my guy, but this is the first LB I have really wanted to compare to Patrick Willis or Luke Kuechly. Everything about this kid is what the modern inside linebacker needs. Speed, burst, power, range in coverage, and true leadership. I was pretty high on Devin Bush and Devin White last year, both of which had good rookie years. Murray is better. There are a couple medical red flags that need to be looked into further.

  1. Logan Wilson / Wyoming / 6’2 – 241

Grade: 81

Summary: Fifth year senior from Casper, Wyoming. He arrived at Wyoming as a 185 pound defensive back. After his redshirt year, Wilson moved to linebacker and earned the Mountain West Freshman of the Year Award. He was a three time All Mountain West honoree and finished his career as an All American. The high school track standout blends the new and old age linebacker into one package. He has the NFL body but can move like a safety. His strengths are on display when he is in space pursuing the action and covering tight ends and backs. He does struggle mightily when taking on blocks, but he is entering the league at the right time as cover linebackers are in high demand and Wilson brings that to the table without giving up too much against the run.

*10 years ago we would have labeled this kid as a linebacker who wasn’t stout enough. To be real, stoutness is less of a factor than it has ever been and the ability to run, chase, and cover are more important. Wilson, with good size, moves really well and was really productive. Smart kid, will start early in his career. Can play multiple spots.

  1. Patrick Queen / LSU / 6’0 – 229

Grade: 81

Summary: Junior entry. Two year starter from Ventress, Louisiana. Over the course of his final two years on campus, Queen started just over a full season’s worth of games. By the end of LSU’s championship run he was arguably the top defensive player on the team. He evolved into a weapon who was all over the field on every down. The NFL’s desire for speed and coverage ability will make Queen a sought after commodity, as his tools in space are near the elite level. He is still growing and evolving as an interior run defender and there are mental lapses that show up from time to time, but this is the kind of linebacker who every team wants now. High upside player.

*I have Queen as a late first round talent as you can see but I can confirm that many don’t see a round 1 guy. As good as he looks at times, the two things NFL coaches and scouts won’t like are the lack of size (especially his short arms) and the fact he was a 1 year starter. And to build off that, he wasn’t the starter at the beginning of the season. He only got in there when he did because Michael Divinity got in some off-field trouble that led to a suspension.

  1. Akeem Davis-Gaither / Appalachian State / 6’2 – 224

Grade: 77

Summary: Fifth year senior from Thomasville, North Carolina. Two year starter. Finished 2018 off with a 2nd Team All Sun Belt honor before really taking off as a senior. 2019 Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year. Davis-Gaither was a team captain and obvious leader of the defense that set the tone each and every week. His speed and burst were just too much to handle for his opponents and it was able to impact the game in several ways. He lined up as an edge rusher and showed plus-blitzing ability, he lined up as an inside run defender and was able to move through traffic well enough, and he lined in space as an effective cover linebacker. He won’t be a schematic fit for several teams but a defense that wants to add speed and versatility but can also keep him out of downhill run stuffing responsibilities will have a high outlook on him.

*I see some Telvin Smith here. Undersized, short reach, slight frame. But this dude can move at a different speed than his opponents and he will evade blockers well. Really fun player to watch but he needs to be protected. I don’t see him impact the game as a blitzer or interior run defender, but he will fly around and cover backs with ease.

  1. Troy Dye / Oregon / 6’3 – 231

Grade: 77

Summary: Senior entry from Norco, California. Four year starter who led the Ducks in tackles all four seasons. Three time 2nd Team All Pac 12 defender following his Honorable Mention 2016 season. Dye finished his career near the top of the program’s all time tackles list. He has been a productive player across the board and it showed both on the stat sheet and on tape. He lined up all over the field and got to the action one way or another, proving his intelligence and athleticism. His slight frame will need work if he is going to be playing between the tackles at the next level but his ability to factor in space and potential to be a credible every down linebacker is enough to hide his deficiencies. He is a new-age linebacker who doesn’t give up too much as a thumper.

*Dye was as the top of my senior LB stack last summer. I love this kid’s game and more important, I love his consistency. You know what you’re getting week to week. Dye is another current-age linebacker who will be more effective in space than he is in traffic, but he stays plays tough between the tackles. He won’t be a star, but he will contribute on special teams right away and offer some potential as a starting weak side presence.

  1. Malik Harrison / Ohio State / 6’3 – 247

Grade: 77

Summary: Senior entry from Columbus, Ohio. Two year starter who earned 1st Team All Big 10 honors in 2019, Honorable Mention in 2018. Also 3rd Team All American as a senior. Harrison has the NFL-ready size and power presence to factor right away against the run. He can handle NFL offensive lineman with his combination of man-strength and top tier length. Once in the open field, he can really get moving with long stride speed, which will be an asset against athletic tight ends. He came to Ohio State as a former high school quarterback who wanted to play wide receiver for the Buckeyes, so that is the kind of athlete we are talking about here. He could end up projecting to the strong side in a 4-3 front long term as a starter with the option of providing some middle-type roles.

*Harrison is overlooked a bit when it comes to how freaky of an athlete he is. He has some of the best triangle numbers (height + weight + speed) at the position. Remember, this kid came to Ohio State to play wide receiver! When I watched his tape, I saw a lot of rawness, indecision, and inconsistency. But when he did line things up, when he did make proper reads, he looked dominant. Harrison is a high upside, really athletic linebacker who simply needs time to sit back on the depth chart and get acclimated. If it clicks, watch out. Really nice fit for NYG’s situation if they can find a way to get their hands on him round 3 or 4.

  1. Jordyn Brooks / Texas Tech / 6’0 – 240

Grade: 77

Summary: Senior entry from Houston, Texas. Four-year starter who led Texas Tech in tackles three of those years. Honorable Mention All Big 12 in 2016, 2017, and 2018 respectively before going onto being named 1st Team All Big 12 and 2nd Team All American in 2019. Brooks is an aggressive, fast, attacking downhill defender who made 20 tackles for loss as a senior. That number was a tad inflated as he was almost-always sent on blitzes, but his athletic ability and closing style make him an attractive prospect. He is quick enough to factor in coverage, he just didn’t have a ton of experience in that role. Brooks has the ability to start in the NFL but at the very least will be a special teams contributor and plus-run defender.

*Brooks is going to be a gamble, I think some teams won’t even look at him. He has very little experience in coverage, he was purely a downhill guy. But there are still plenty of schemes that need the thumper inside and that he is. However he also brings 4.6 speed to the table, a nasty, physical guy. He screams Ravens to me. And I always love how their linebackers perform and help them win games.

  1. Anfernee Jennings / Alabama / 6’2 – 256

Grade: 74

Summary: Fifth year senior from Dadeville, Alabama. Three year starter. 1st Team All SEC in 2019. Jennings has been a mainstay on the Tide’s defense for three seasons. He is one of the more versatile players in the class, as he has seen plenty of experience as an edge rusher and inside linebacker. He will likely make a full time move to middle as a two down thumper between the tackles who can add something as a pass rusher on 3rd down. He lacks standout physical traits, most notably when it comes to movement, but he is instinctive and tough. Smart players who have produced the way he has against the highest level of competition find a way on the field at the next level.

*Some are leaving an EDGE position on him, which is fine I guess. But we saw him move to off-ball linebacker a lot in 2019 and he spent the majority of Senior Bowl week there too. Jennings is really smart and really physical, I could see NE being all over this kid draft weekend early day 3. 25+ TFL and 13+ sacks over the past two years coming from Alabama? Can play inside as a thumper, can provide quality pass rush on 3rd down? Sign me up.

  1. Willie Gay Jr. / Mississippi State / 6’1 – 243

Grade: 73

Summary: Junior entry from Starkville, Mississippi. Two year starter but only started 11 games total over his career. Missed a significant amount of time in 2019 because of academics. Gay was a explosive rushing quarterback in high school and it is easy to notice just how fast he can play on the defensive side. He is an aggressive downhill force who will make the offense adjust to him. He is not someone who a ball carrier wants to meet in space, as the power Gay brings upon force when he has a head start is as physical as it gets. There will need to be extra screening in regard to his off field habits, but he is a potential game changer if everything checks out and he learns the game a bit more.

*If the Giants are looking to take a risk at LB on day 3, this is the guy to go after. I had glowing game notes on Gay Jr and the comparison of Devin Bush came up multiple times. Short but stout, plus length for his frame, top-shelf speed. There is no denying that NYG needs more juice, more speed at the second level. Gay Jr blew the combine up, he is in the same tier athletically speaking as Simmons. He is as violent a player as you will find. There are a couple character red flags, however, and he only has 11 career starts. If NYG wants to turn their defense around, they are going to have to take a couple chances. This would be taking a chance but I feel good about it in round 4 or 5.

  1. Dante Olson / Montana / 6’2 – 237

Grade: 71

Summary: Fifth year senior from Medford, Oregon. Two year starter who certainly made the most of those two years. Set, and the re-set, the all time single season record for tackles in program history. A two time FCS All American and the recipient of the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year Award. Buck Buchanan Award winner finalist in 2018 and 2019 respectively, given to the top defensive player of the year in FCS. Olson is the son of a coach with really good speed and a finisher’s mentality. He runs around like he’s on fire and with the demands of today’s linebacker in the pros, he could be a sneaky-good fit. He lacks some important agility-based movement skills but he can be molded into a quality player in time. At the very least, he will be a stud-special teamer.

*Olson won’t impress anybody with his tools, but they are good enough and he has the combination of intelligence and toughness on the field to factor. He would be a reliable backup and quality special teamer. My question, in relation to the Giants, would center around how “multiple” he can be. I see a weak side / middle guy only. Every team has a linebacker like him, but I can see why some would rather go for someone faster. I saw him at Shrine and was impressed, I am keeping him near the top of this cluster of mid to late day 3 linebackers.

  1. Shaquille Quarterman / Miami / 6’1 – 234

Grade: 71

Summary: Senior entry from Orange Park, Florida. Four year starter who finished All-ACC every season, including the 1st Team honor in both 2018 and 2019. Quarterman evolved into the Alpha Male of the Miami defense over his final two years, producing at a high level against both the run and pass. He has the kind of intelligence and on-field IQ that every good linebacker possesses and he knows how to finish. While he is a bit of a throwback who may currently struggle to play in space against the passing game, he still has the potential and even likelihood to make an impact. He shows stiffness but if a scheme can hide that a bit, he will help a defense much more than hurt it. He will be in the league for a long time and likely start at some point.

*A lot of people were juiced up about this kid before and during his freshman season. I feel like he’s been at Miami for a decade. 52 starts, a ton of tackles, multiple schemes, and a true leader of the group. I got to speak with him down at St. Pete during Shrine week and came away really impressed. He won’t add a lot of athleticism to the group though, he isn’t that big, and he may be a 2-down guy. The physical upside isn’t good enough for me to use anything more than a 3rd day pick here.

  1. Tanner Muse / Clemson / 6’2 – 227

Grade: 71

Summary: Fifth year senior entry from Belmont, North Carolina. Three year starter who earned 3rd Team All ACC honors in 2018, 1st Team in 2019. Also a 3rd Team All American as a senior. Muse looks too tight to stay at safety, as his hips and feet just don’t move well enough to be trusted in coverage against pro receivers. However he shows potential as a cover linebacker who can handle the running game from the weak side. The winner of the Special Teams Player of the Year Award at Clemson in 2016, Muse brings the kind of straight line speed and power-impact to make an impact in that department at the next level and his role on defense will need to be specific but he has proven to be a factor against the pass if he is protected.

*I have no issues with those who label Muse a late day 2 pick. He has some old school, blue collar in him but don’t look past the fact he is incredibly fast and explosive. Ohio State running back JK Dobbins out-ran Isaiah Simmons in space during the CFB playoffs, Muse caught him from behind. Then he went to the combine and ran a 4.41. Muse is too tight to play safety in my eyes, but he is more than physical enough for linebacker duty and his coverage for the position would be considered a plus. I have this mid to late day 3 grade here, but I’ll say this, his versatility, intelligence, and physical nature could be an exact fit for what NYG plans to do on defense. Look for this kid draft weekend.

  1. Davion Taylor / Colorado / 6’1 – 228

Grade: 70

Summary: Senior entry from Magnolia, Mississippi. Two year starter who spent two seasons in junior college prior to transferring to Colorado in 2018. Finished with Honorable Mention All Pac 12 honors as a senior. Also an accomplished sprinter for the Colorado track team. Taylor has as interesting a background as anyone in the class. Because of religious beliefs, he was not allowed to play in football games Fridays or Saturdays during high school until his senior year. Thus, he was under-recruited and simply did not bank much football experience. After two impressive seasons in junior college, Colorado scooped him up and put him into the starting lineup 20 games over 2 years. Taylor had a hard time finding a permanent home in regard to position, but his speed was top shelf and he flashed playmaking ability from time to time. He is still very much considered a developmental player who is incredibly raw, but he has elite special teams potential and could mold into a quality weak side, space-happy linebacker down the road.

*One of the more unique prospects in the class considering his background and tools. Many are putting this kid into the day 2 tier because of his strength and speed. He is an excellent run and chase guy but I don’t see instincts or flow to the action. I thought he looked out of place at the Senior Bowl. While I do respect the upside here that stems from his frame and speed, he is a project.

  1. Jacob Phillips / LSU / 6’3 – 229

Grade: 70

Summary: Senior entry from Nashville, Tennessee. Two year starter who finished second on the team in tackles in 2018, first in 2019. After sitting behind Devin White for two years, a future top 10 pick, Phillips took over the job in the middle of the Tigers defense and excelled. He was a 5-star recruit coming out of high school and flashed over his two seasons. The straight line speed, attractive frame, and sure tackling is sure to catch the eyes of defensive coaches who want to try and develop a player for a year or two. He shows weaknesses in coverage but he physical upside is there to warrant the idea he could improve enough in that area. He is a day three pick who has the upside of a starter, ideally in a scheme that can let him run around and chase.

*Phillips isn’t in the same tier as a some of these recent LSU linebackers, but I think he is a reliable bet to provide quality depth and special teams play. He plays smart, he works hard, he is very coachable. Don’t forget he was a 5-star recruit and even though one could argue he had an underwhelming career, he was an important piece these past two seasons. Not a good cover linebacker but he will be reliable against the run.

  1. Mykal Walker / Fresno State: 70
  2. Francis Bernard / Utah: 70
  3. Evan Weaver / California: 70
  4. Cam Brown / Penn State: 69
  5. Jordan Mack / Virginia: 69
  6. Khaleke Hudson / Michigan: 69
  7. Justin Strnad / Wake Forest: 69
  8. Michael Divinity / LSU: 69
  9. Michael Pinckney / Miami: 68
  10. Jordan Glasgow / Michigan: 68

NYG APPROACH

For the record, I could talk about the possible Simmons selection for an hour straight, it is fascinating. I won’t go too deep here, as we can discuss further in the comments, but I will echo what I stated earlier. NYG can certainly go for him at #4 and I won’t say a negative thing about it. But so much of his potential, even more so than other prospects, will be based on how the team would use him. Build the scheme around him, do not try to fit him into a scheme. This coaching staff yelled from the top of the mountains that they want to be able to change their scheme week to week to exploit the opponent’s weaknesses. Simmons is quite literally the kind of player WHO can change week to week based on what the team needs, and he can do so at a high level. However, if they put him at ILB routinely, he will get crushed because his instincts are average at best and he plays high. If they put him at EDGE routinely, he will get crushed because he doesn’t have an array of rush moves and he doesn’t use his hands well in that situation. If they put him at safety routinely, he will get crushed because he is high hipped and doesn’t play more athletic than NFL receivers like he did in college.

As for the rest of the LB group, whether they draft Simmons or not, speed needs to be added. Connelly, Martinez, and Mayo can get the job done against the run but they are going to get exposed when true speed and coverage are needed. If you need to convert 3rd and 5, attack those guys and a good passing game will almost always come out on top especially on a team that lacks quality pass rushers. This draft’s LB group as a whole is a little thin after those top 7-8 guys. Because it is such a scheme-based position, NYG doesn’t have to rush here. They can be patient, wait for value (even if it is round 7), and add the athleticism there.

Mar 312020
 
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Jeff Okudah, Ohio State Buckeyes (October 26, 2019)

Jeff Okudah – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2020 NFL Draft Preview: Cornerbacks

Format includes a quick position overview, my grading scale and what the number mean, the summary and final grade from my final report on my top 15, a quick additional note on the player, and my ranks 16-25 with grades only.

*I AM NOT DOING NFL COMPARISONS

QUICK POSITION OVERVIEW

The Giants released their CB1 during the 2019 season, Janoris Jenkins. He was the one stabilizer in the group, the one corner who could be relied onto cover and make plays. 2019 was a growing season for the three young corners who this team is really banking onto evolve into quality players. After trading up for Deandre Baker in the first round of the 2019 Draft, he was thrown into the fire rather early and he came out burned badly. There was no denying how poor he played and when given the opportunity, fellow rookie Corey Ballentine and Sam Beal, who was on the game-day roster for the first time since being a supplemental pick in 2018, didn’t instill any confidence either. The one positive sign was Baker improving as the second half of the year progressed and he actually put together a few solid performances late in the year.

The signing of James Bradberry takes down the need at the position a bit but there are significant questions behind him, zero assurances. Grant Haley remains the primary nickel even though his play took a turn in the wrong direction in his second year. Between Haley, Baker, Beal, and Ballentine the odds are one of them will turn out to be starter-caliber, one will turn out to be rotational-caliber, and two will be gone within a year or two. That said, there is a spot for a new guy in the group.

GRADING SCALE

90+ All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

81-84: 1st rounder – should be able to play right away

79-80: 2nd rounder – Should be able to rotate right away – Year 2 starter

77-78: 3rd rounder – Should be able to rotate by end of rookie year – Year 2/3 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 / Development guy

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

  1. Jeff Okudah / Ohio State / 6’1 – 205

Grade: 87

Summary: Junior entry. Two year starter from Grand Prairie, Texas. The former five star and number one cornerback recruit did not disappoint once he got onto the field late in 2017. The most recent “DB U” has produced handfuls of NFL talent in recent years and the Ohio State coaches have labeled him the best of the bunch in those recent years. Okudah is an elite physical talent who plays with an elite mindset and aggressiveness. The tools are there, the mental capacity is there, and the short memory is there. Okudah is the kind of corner you want out there on an island against the opposition’s number one receiver. He owns that island and charges rent for anyone who wants to live there. Okudah is a week 1 starter in the league with an upside of being one of the best in the game at a position that is incredibly hard to fill.

*Okudah is the top corner I have scouted in quite some time. Physically and mentally, you are going to have a hard time telling anyone with a credible opinion that this kid isn’t going to be a Pro Bowler early in his career. The one thing that keeps him out of the rare 90+ tier on my grading sheet is the lack of discipline when it comes to technique as a press corner. If that issue gets cleaned up and a defense protects him early in his career, watch out. Is he in play for NYG at #4? I think he will be but the signing of Bradberry in combination with this front office trading up into round 1 last year for a corner makes me think they won’t consider him there.

  1. CJ Henderson / Florida / 6’1 – 204

Grade: 85

Summary: Junior entry from Miami, Florida. A three-year starter who earned All SEC honors all three seasons, including a first team honor in 2019. Henderson brings elite triangle numbers to the table, perhaps best in the class. He has the best combination of height, weight, speed, and leaping ability. However his greatest trait trumps all of those numbers, and it is the ability to stick to a receiver’s hip pocket with a rare combination of quickness, agility, and body control. Henderson makes his elite burst and acceleration look smooth and easy. He has the kind of speed that can stick to the NFL’s fastest deep threats but also the quickness to stick to the NFL’s shiftiest slot receivers. His poor tackling and tendency to avoid contact will hurt his team at times, but for what a corner is first asked to do, cover the receiver, it is hard to find someone better than Henderson.

*I’ll say this, if Henderson was more physical against the run, he would be higher than Okudah. As a scouting mentor (and former NFL coach) once told me, “You pay the other 10 guys to tackle”. If a team doesn’t care about a corner’s ability to tackle, Henderson could easily make a case to be higher than Okudah on the board. He is so smooth and easy, it almost looks like he isn’t even trying. He has some things to clean up as well but talent wise, this kid has it all.

  1. Kristian Fulton / LSU / 6’0 – 197

Grade: 80

Summary: Senior entry from New Orleans, Louisiana. Two-year starter who finished his career with a 2nd Team All SEC honor. Fulton was nearly suspended for two years in 2016 for messing with a performance enhancing drug test. After a couple of appeals, he was only suspended for the 2017 season. He then put together two solid years and stayed clean off the field but had to cope with a nagging ankle/foot injury both seasons. Fulton has tools and the ball production that will cause for the hope of upside, but there are significant movement issues both in short and long areas. He may need to be in a zone-based scheme to hide those issues. He shouldn’t be trusted on an island.

*Last year when Greedy Williams was getting a lot of national hype, I was telling everyone who would listen Fulton was the top guy. Williams went in the middle of the 2nd round in a weaker CB group, I think Fulton has a shot at going round 1. It has been a rocky career for him though with off field issues and a nagging lower body injury that hampered him a lot in 2019. There is some unknown here but when I have seen him at his best, he is first round caliber.

  1. Trevon Diggs / Alabama / 6’1 – 205

Grade: 79

Summary: Senior entry from Gaithersburg, Maryland. Two year starter who peaked as a senior, earning All American and first team All SEC honors. The brother of MIN receiver Stefon Diggs.. The former number one wide receiver recruit out of Maryland, Trevon appeared on track to follow in the footsteps of his brother. He played a hybrid offense/defense/special teams role in 2016 before making the full time move to corner in 2017. Diggs still has a raw-style to his game but one could make the argument he is the top physical press corner in the class. He obliterates receivers at the line and has the kind of size, speed, and ball skills that have become largely in demand in the league. Diggs still has a lot to clean up though and his most ideal role may be in a Cover 2 scheme. He has a hard time reacting in small spaces and needs to clean up a lot of technique bases areas across the board. If he progresses in those areas, he ca be a force.

*For what it’s worth, I know of at least one team that is grading him at safety. So to continue the NYG-safety talk, I think this is another name who can be considered. Top of round 2? I don’t think so. But if they end up with a late 2 or early 3 via trades, it is a possibility. Diggs is long, fast, strong. Teams love that at corner so I think he gets a shot there first.

  1. Noah Igbinoghene / Auburn / 5’10 – 198

Grade: 79

Summary: Junior entry from Trussville, Alabama. Two year starter who began his career as a wide receiver for the Tigers. Igbinoghene is the son of two Olympic-level track stars and he had quite the track career himself that carried on at Auburn. The star-athlete made the move to cornerback in 2018 and was abruptly inserted into the starting lineup. His two years at the position in the SEC saw a lot of flags, as his hand work and overall feel for the position just wasn’t quite there. With that said, the improvements he made over that span in combination with his elite speed and burst gives the notion that he may have some of the most attainable upside at the position in the class. Igbinoghene can play both outside and the nickel, but his tools as a press corner combined with the elite speed would best be served in a man-scheme outside. High risk, high reward prospect.

*This is a kid I am taking a chance on. There are a few corners behind him on this list who most have Igbinoghene behind. I saw the light switch on for him later in the year and that is what I want to see. If he had another full season worth of tape that I saw down the stretch, we are talking about a potential first rounder. He is going to go day 2 and he will be a corner who someone can throw in the slot or on the outside pretty early. Can’t say that about a lot of rookie corners. He turns 21 after Thanksgiving 2020.

  1. Jaylon Johnson / Utah / 6’0 – 193

Grade: 78

Summary: Junior entry from Fresno, California. Two year starter and two time 1st Team All Pac 12 in addition to 2019 All American. Johnson passes a lot of the initial eye ball tests when looking for corners who have both size and speed who can play in multiple coverage schemes. He shows a good feel for reading the routes, giving him an advantage against the underneath passing game. The instinctive corner has 7 career interceptions and 28 passes defended. The production is there. He still has a lot of work to do, however, when it comes to technique and ball location. He is a big play waiting to happen if he is matched up against a quality outside receiver with size and ball skills. He is an upside-based pick who may not be ready right away.

*Johnson has good size and long speed. Johnson has good production to look back on. He is a smart kid and very coachable. Some have a late 1st / early 2nd grade on him. Why am I putting him in the round 3 discussion? I don’t see natural ball location and he has some ugly tape against his best competition. I think there is a good chance he develops into a quality starter who can make plays, but it is going to take time. I don’t want to see him on an island against pro receivers in year one, he won’t be ready.

  1. Troy Pride Jr. / Notre Dame / 6’0 – 193

Grade: 78

Summary: Senior entry from Greer, South Carolina. A two year full time starter who also started sporadically in his first two seasons. Pride was also a member of the Notre Dame track team where he set team bests in the 60 and 200 meters. At this point, Pride may still be a better athlete than he is a football player, as seen in his struggles to maintain awareness of the ball. However the improvements he has shown over the years and his flashes of top tier man-cover ability, there is a significant reason to believe his best is far ahead of him. Pride is a hard working, smart kid who simply lacks confidence in his ability at this point. If given time, he can be molded into a quality starting corner.

*There was a point early in the process where I was flirting with Pride as a late first round grade. Once I got my hands on more tape, however, I had to bump him down a couple tiers. I think there is a solid upside here, someone who could rotate in right away but won’t be ready for a starting role until 2021 at the earliest. He is a lesser prospect than Julian Love from 2019, but one with more physical upside.

  1. Jeff Gladney / TCU / 5’10 – 191

Grade: 78

Summary: Fifth year senior from New Boston, Texas. Four year starter and three time All Big 12 honoree, including a 1st Team nomination in 2019. Gladney has the rare combination of plus-length and plus-twitch that translates into downfield speed. He can stick himself to receivers on all levels of the route tree and when the ball does come his way, he makes plays on it. He led the Big 12 in pass breakups over the past two seasons in addition to providing good run defense on the outside where he is willing and able to make a difference. Gladney has some minor technique issues to fix, namely his pre-snap set up, but he should be ready for NFL duty right away, possibly even a starting role.

*I like the way this kid competes. So much of playing cornerback is between the ears, revolving around confidence, swagger, and intelligence. Gladney takes all of those and it positively impacts how well he competes. I don’t want him in my starting lineup right away, but I do think he can be an important nickel/dime defender at some point. He has technique issues to clean up and the big 12 isn’t exactly a hotbed for NFL defensive back talent, but I am confident he will at least be a solid backup and eventual starter.

  1. Michael Ojemudia / Iowa / 6’1 – 200

Grade: 78

Summary: Fifth year senior entry from Farmington Hills, Michigan. Two year starter who earned 3rd Team All Big 10 honors in 2019. Ojemudia was somewhat slow on the progression scale but he did get better every year of his career and flashed some of the traits that the new age of cornerbacks possess. He has above average size and long speed, making him a tough guy to get the ball around especially when noting his receiver-caliber ball skills. He has some glaring issues that may make him a man-only type corner, as he simply allows too much separation underneath and doesn’t play with instincts. He lacks a true feel for the game but there will be roster spot for him, likely in a defense that can keep him in man concepts.

*This kid will be a scheme-based pick who I could see being in the round 2 discussion or dropping to the back end of round 4. I am staying right in the middle. Iowa has been putting quality defensive back talent into the league for a few years and he’s flashed some upside to be considered the best one I have seen over the past 4-5 years from that program.

  1. Cameron Dantzler / Mississippi State / 6’2 ‘ 188

Grade: 77

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Hammond, Louisiana. Two year starter who earned 2nd Team All SEC honors in 2018. To get a full appreciation for Dantzler and his game, one must watch him over and over. His stats won’t jump off the screen but since the start of 2018, he was one of the toughest SEC corners to complete a pass on, most notably near the end zone. His height, length, and springy athletic ability make him a guy who nobody will have confidence throwing downfield or in contested situations. He has some footwork to clean up so he can be more effective against underneath throws, but the tools and attitude are there to make Dantzler a quality starting corner very early in his career.

*Dantzler was another one I flirted with in round 1 at the beginning of the process. The first tape I watched was the Alabama game, and he won. He beat those guys. But there were some speed concerns that popped up a few times and then we went out and ran a 4.64, not good. He also didn’t measure as long as I was told he would. That in combination with some red flags in further tape study, I put him in round 3. Still think he can be a starter down the road or quality backup.

  1. AJ Terrell / Clemson / 6’1 – 195

Grade: 77

Summary: Junior entry from Atlanta, Georgia. Two year starter who earned 3rd Team All ACC honors in 2018, 1st Team in 2019. The former 5-start recruit has a lot of experience, as he was a key cog to an-always talented secondary since the minute he arrived at Clemson. When it comes to the tools and what the league desires, Terrell is going to impress many. He plays tall and long and has proven he can run downfield against speed. Terrell also has produced in some of Clemson’s biggest games. There are issues between the ears, however. He fails to recognize route combinations, struggles to find the ball, and he doesn’t trust his techniques. He gets too grabby in traffic, showing a lack of trust in his techniques. He has the tools to be a quality starter but there is plenty of work to be done before he gets there.

*I am a tad lower on Terrell than most. There are some who put him the tier below the top 2, but I don’t see it. Terrell wasn’t overly productive, he is way too grabby, and there isn’t a natural sense to his game. The tools and program are going to get him drafted higher than where I have him.

  1. Bryce Hall / Virginia / 6’1 – 202

Grade: 76

Summary: Senior entry from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. A four year starter who hadn’t missed a game until his season ending ankle injury halfway through 2019. Hall was an All American and 1st Team All ACC corner in 2018 after leading the nation with 22 pass break ups. He has the desired height and length for the outside corner spot and his performance since the start of 2018 proved he is more than a set of tools. He really came together over his career and teams that primarily run zone coverage will have a high outlook on him. He does have a hole in his arsenal when it comes to long speed. He can be burned and there isn’t a catch-up gear. His surgery is in the rear view mirror and he should be ready by training camp if not sooner. He has many starter traits but he will be scheme specific.

*Depending on which coach you talk to and what scheme they run, Hall can be where I have him (early day 3) or somewhere in the middle of the 2nd round. He would be an ideal fit for a zone scheme where he has some protection over the top. He is tall and long, he plays with a physical brand, and he shows plus instincts. But man, that long speed is an issue and he a team can put him on an island with their speed guy, the defense is in trouble.

  1. Amik Robertson / Louisiana Tech / 5’8 – 187

Grade: 74

Summary: Junior entry from Thibodaux, Louisiana. A three year starter who was 1st Team All Conference USA two seasons in a row. Robertson made a name for himself via production and on-field swagger. He had 14 interceptions and 34 pass break ups over his 3 year career, albeit against a slightly lower level of competition. He plays with the kind of short memory you want all defensive backs to possess, never lacking confidence and playing with a borderline nasty attitude. His lack of size will likely keep him at nickel where his techniques and over-aggression could be a problem. He has a lot of discipline to pick up early in his career if he wants to stick around.

*Robertson is a hot name among some, I never put him took him out of the day three tier. I see a nickel-only who will be able to make plays, but he has the kind of game that hurts just as much as it helps a defense. Personally that isn’t my preference at cornerback but I can see why some don’t mind. There aren’t many corners at his size in the league, so it is another red flag but if he sticks at nickel, it is less of an issue.

  1. Lamar Jackson / Nebraska / 6’2 – 208

Grade: 74

Summary: Senior entry from Elk Grove, California. Three year starter who earned 2nd Team All Big 10 honors in 2019. Jackson, a former high school safety, made the move to cornerback when he arrived at Nebraska and carved his niche. His size and speed numbers are among the best in the class and after how he turned things around in 2019, it is safe to assume he is undervalued when it comes to his upside. Jackson was benched for immaturity reasons in 2018. Things turned around after the birth of his son and he put together the best year of his career as a senior. Jackson is nowhere near his peak and if he continues on the track he went on between 2018 and 2019, Jackson could be one of the top values in the entire class. Some schemes may even consider moving him back to safety.

*I have a character red flag on Jackson, nothing overly serious but it did bring him down slightly. Jackson plays faster than what he timed at the combine. I actually have it written in game notes from the fall that this kid will play as fast as he needs to and then he went onto the Senior Bowl, where they were able to gauge how fast everyone moved, and Jackson was among the fastest. He is one of my favorite day three targets and I would be equally eager to put him at safety and I am corner.

  1. Damon Arnette / Ohio State / 6’0 – 195

Grade: 74

Summary: Fifth year senior from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Three year starter who has played outside and nickel on a loaded defense. Was named 2nd Team All Big 10 in 2019 after almost declaring for the draft after his 2018 Honorable Mention All Big 10 season. Arnette is going to impress with his triangle numbers during workout season. He has more than enough size and speed to play with and coaches will see the energy he brings to the table and try to channel it toward improving his techniques that occasionally arise and burn him. Arnette projects to backup duty, ideally on the outside, with the physical ability and upside to start down the road.

*Arnette is likely going day 2 from what I have been told, I’m not there on him. He never quite reached the upside many have been talking about for years and one has to wonder, if Ohio State couldn’t get him there, what makes you think the light will click in the NFL? OSU is arguably the top cornerback factory in the country. There is no denying the ability, but I didn’t see enough progression or consistency.

  1. Dane Jackson / Pittsburgh: 74
  2. Javaris Davis / Auburn: 74
  3. Trajan Bandy / Miami: 72
  4. Javelin Guidry / Utah: 71
  5. Essang Bassey / Wake Forest: 71
  6. Grayland Arnold / Baylor: 71
  7. Darnay Holmes / UCLA: 71
  8. Josiah Scott / Michigan State: 71
  9. Thakarius Keyes / Tulane: 70
  10. Lavert Hill / Michigan: 70

NYG APPROACH

I am all about NYG adding another CB talent to the pool. They are one injury and one lack of development away from this being a bottom tier group at a position that good offenses can expose with ease. Does Okudah make sense at #4? Sure, when looking at him and his grade by himself. But I don’t think NYG is going to use another prime resource on the position. Remember, this front office traded up into the first round for Baker and they just spent a ton of dough on Bradberry. Now, use the 4th pick of the draft on a good corner, but not a great one, over players with similar if not better grades who play a position where NYG needs help? I don’t see it.

I think there is a lot of early day 3 talent in this draft who can drop into round 5, possibly even round 6. I am looking at guys like Lamar Jackson, Dane Jackson, and Javaris Davis. These are guys who offer some versatility and, to be honest, more upside than what I see in Corey Ballentine and Sam Beal. So at the end of the day, I see the real opportunity for CB value to start day 3 for NYG in relation to the likely value available at other positions.

Mar 292020
 
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Grant Delpit, LSU Tigers (January 13, 2020)

Grant Delpit – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2020 NFL Draft Preview: Safeties

Format includes a quick position overview, my grading scale and what the number mean, the summary and final grade from my final report on my top 15, a quick additional note on the player, and my ranks 16-25 with grades only.

*I AM NOT DOING NFL COMPARISONS

QUICK POSITION OVERVIEW

Julian Love made the move from cornerback to safety prior to the season. The 4th round rookie (who I had a 1st round grade on) didn’t see the field much until Jabrill Peppers went down with an injury. Love filled the role well, a role that was more nickel linebacker / slot defender than it was a true deep half safety. Peppers will be back, but Antoine Bethea will not. One can quickly assume Love will move into vacated role created by Bethea’s departure but it can be disputed if he can handle the deep coverage responsibilities, as that wasn’t the role he stepped into last year. You don’t want Peppers back there, either. Sean Chandler and Nate Ebner are best suited for special teams.

This is a position I have been banging the table for NYG to address. Safety has become such an important piece to the defense with rule changes and abundance of tight ends + slots + running backs running routes. Last year I wanted them to draft Chauncey Gardner-Johnson over Ximines, in 2017 I wanted to draft Desmond King over Wayne Gallman, and in 2016 I wanted them to draft Justin Simmons over Darian Thompson. In diagnosing what this team needs most, I am surprised many don’t speak about safety as it has been such a weak point to the defense for years.

GRADING SCALE

90+ All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

81-84: 1st rounder – should be able to play right away

79-80: 2nd rounder – Should be able to rotate right away – Year 2 starter

77-78: 3rd rounder – Should be able to rotate by end of rookie year – Year 2/3 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 / Development guy

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

  1. Grant Delpit / LSU / 6’3 – 213

Grade: 82

Summary: Junior entry. Three year starter from Houston, Texas. A two time consensus All American. Winner of the 2019 Jim Thorpe Award. Delpit came into the 2019 season with sky-high, borderline unrealistic expectations to reach after his All American, Nagurski Award Finalist 2018 campaign. A bum ankle and a slightly less productive season caused credible and legitimate questions surrounding who and what Delpit is on the field. Make no mistake here, Delpit can be the face of a defense that will produce across the board. He is the kind of player who every defensive coach wants to work with because of his versatility and toughness. He will be an important, productive player in the league.

*Delpit didn’t reach the elite tier that many placed him in prior to the season. I think he is somewhat a victim of unfair expectations that ultimately led to many placing the “overrated” label on him. I never saw Delpit as a top 10 kind of guy. But he does everything you want a safety to do, some of his 2019 tape has to be taken with a grain of salt because of the ankle injury, and he is a coach’s favorite. Don’t expect Derwin James or Earl Thomas here, but you are safe to assume he is a year 1 contributor, if not solid starter.

  1. Xavier McKinney / Alabama / 6’0 – 201

Grade: 81

Summary: Junior entry. Two year starter from Roswell, Georgia. 2019 All American and First Team All SEC. McKinney was a do-it-all safety for Nick Saban’s defense, making plays against the pass, the run, and on special teams. He is a versatile, rangy, aggressive weapon for the defense that reacts and closes as fast as anyone can at the position. He is a hustler who will bring swagger to the defense he gets drafted to. He has some on-field discipline issues that can get exposed in the NFL, thus he will need some extra time to adjust to the speed and complexity of the game. His upside is sky-high if he is put into the right situation and he applies himself.

*McKinney plays a high risk, high reward style which isn’t a fit for every scheme. But for the teams that can tolerate, borderline feet of that, he is going to be graded highly and I do think he has a shot at being the top safety off the board. I love his burst and ability to close, if he can develop that movement into coverage, watch out.

  1. Kyle Dugger / Lenoir-Rhyne / 6’1 – 217

Grade: 79

Summary: Sixth year senior entry from Decatur, Georgia. A two time 1st Team All South Athletic Conference honoree and one time 2nd Team. Winner of the 2019 Cliff Harris Award, given to the best defensive player in Division II despite playing in an injury shortened season (hand). Dugger has the attractive tool set and dominant- play at a lower level of college football to make him a credible draft prospect. He looked like a man among boys and that was evident athletically whenever he got the ball in his hands. He was just too big and fast, thus why he was an All American punt returner, a spot he netted 6 touchdowns. As good as Dugger looks on paper, he will be a 24 year old rookie, has had a couple durability issues, and is making an enormous jump on competition and speed. Safety is a tough position to walk off the bus from Division II and play right away, but it has been done before. His role should be limited early but the upside could be Pro Bowl-caliber.

*Another guy here who could end up being the top safety selected based on scheme and team need. Dugger is a wildcard. He dominated the combine, he looked excellent at the Senior Bowl, he was on another level among his opponents in college. He was offered to play up in competition in 2019 but he wanted to stay loyal to his teammates and coaches at Lenoir-Rhyne. He checks almost every box but the jump in speed/size is going to be a major adjustment and there are some red flags stemming from durability. I like him, but I am keeping my round 2 grade on him despite many telling me not to do so.

  1. Antoine Winfield Jr / Minnesota / 5’9 – 203

Grade: 79

Summary: Fourth year sophomore entry. Four year starter (including his two 4-game seasons) from The Woodlands, Texas. The son of former Jim Thorpe Award winner and 14-year NFL cornerback Antoine Winfield. A 2019 1st Team All American and Big 10 Defensive Back of the Year. 2019 Bronko Nagurski Finalist. After a hot start to his career as a true freshman in 2016, Winfield played in just 8 games over the next 2 years combined with separate lower body injuries. He bounced back in a big way in 2019, his true senior season, leading the country with 7 interceptions while also leading the Gophers in tackles. Winfield gets around the action as often as anyone and he proved he can make things happen when he gets there. He plays bigger and tougher than his size, making him a solid last line of defense in any scheme. Winfield will have durability and red flags next to his name, but this kid is a gamer who impacts the game in several ways.

*I’ll say this, if Winfield hadn’t had durability issues early in his career and he was just a few inches bigger/longer, he would likely be the top safety on my board. I love his style, I love the bloodlines, I love his versatility. I actually think he could come in and be a starting nickel right away if needed, but will also be able to play an Earl Thomas-type deep safety role down the road.

  1. JR Reed / Georgia / 6’1 – 202

Grade: 78

Summary: Fifth year senior from Frisco, Texas. Began his career at Tulsa, as an injury sustained his senior year of high school nearly derailed his recruitment. Son of former NFL wide receiver Jake Reed and nephew of former NFL defensive back Dale Carter. Reed transferred to Georgia in 2016 and proceeded to start three years for the Bulldogs. He earned All SEC honors twice and was named a 2019 All American and Thorpe Award finalist. Even though Reed will be a 24 year old rookie, his potential to be a long time starter in the league is as high as anyone. He lacks the ideal standout physical traits, but the intelligence he plays with and knack to locate the action quickly will make him an asset for any defense. His playing speed and strength is good enough, and the coach’s favorite with NFL bloodlines will get himself onto the field early.

*I had Reed at the top of this group early in the year. The top trait I look for in a safety centers around instincts and quick decision making. There may not be a safety in the class who gets near and to the action as much as Reed does, but I do have to acknowledge there is less talent here, he is playing with a lesser deck of cards. I still see a guy who will start at some point though, he’s no slouch when it comes to speed and strength. Maybe just a limited ceiling type.

  1. Ashtyn Davis / California / 6’1 – 202

Grade: 77

Summary: Sixth year senior from Santa Cruz, California. Three year starter who saw the majority of his time at safety, but has also started at cornerback and filled the nickel corner spot sporadically. 2nd Team All Pac 12 in 2019 after being named 1st Team in 2018 when he led the Pac 12 with 4 interceptions. Davis originally arrived at Cal as a track athlete where he was a very accomplished hurdler. His athletic gifts are noteworthy and he translates them to the field well. Davis is a fast and rangy safety who can fill cornerback roles where needed. He was also an incredibly effective special teamer and returner. There is a lot a team can do with Davis and if his body continues to develop, he will be an every down threat for a defense against the run and pass.

*Davis has a plus-versatility grade that may cause a team to take him as high as the top of round 2. He has proven he can play corner, nickel, and deep safety. He is one of the best athletes in the entire safety group, too, maybe the best. I get a little nervous with his ability to hold up physically and there were too many negative plays I had from tape to put him up there, but I still see a guy who could end up starting in the league.

  1. Julian Blackmon / Utah / 6’0 – 187

Grade: 77

Summary: Senior entry from Layton, Utah. Three year starter who made the move from cornerback to safety in 2019. Two time 2nd Team All Pac 12 at corner and a 1st Team All Pac 12 safety in addition to being named 2nd Team All American as a senior. Blackmon’s move to safety was likely in the forecast as a pro and the fact he did so before his senior season and excelled the way he did is a good sign. His lack of fluidity in his hips isn’t as much of an issue there and this is the spot he can really use his range in pursuit and downhill pop as a weapon. Blackmon is a fast read and react player who will be physical but also make plays on the ball. His knee injury suffered in the Pac 12 Championship will delay the start of his career, but he should be ready to contribute towards the second half of the 2020 season. A versatile defensive back who should be able to start within a year or two.

*The knee injury caused me to bump him down a notch, thus you can see I had a higher grade on him than most. Blackmon’s position change to safety was one that benefited him greatly. The lack of size is a concern, he will need to add functional bulk over his first year or two in the league. But I still see a guy who can contribute as a nickel safety at some point in 2020.

  1. Geno Stone / Iowa / 5’10 -207

Grade: 76

Summary: Junior entry from New Castle, Pennsylvania. A two year starter who was 2nd Team All Big 10 in 2019, Honorable Mention in 2018. Stone was a jack of all trades chess piece for the Iowa defense who was all over the field. He was used in a variety of ways because of his quickness to the ball and ability to finish. He is a blue-collar player who will help a defense in multiple roles. He shouldn’t be trusted in deep coverage, as he doesn’t have the range and catch up speed and it won’t be ideal to have him in consistent man coverage. Allow him to play downhill and pursue the action and he will be a productive player. He will be an effective special teamer early on and can provide solid-package defense with the upside of being a starter down the road.

*Stone is a fun player to watch, plain and simple. He flies around the field, he is short but stout, and he instills energy into others. Because of that, some place too high of a grade on him. There are speed and size issues here and while they aren’t deal breakers, he is going to be fighting an uphill battle. He is a solid, early day 3 guy who could play the Peppers role as a backup.

  1. Jeremy Chinn / Southern Illinois / 6’3 – 221

Grade: 76

Summary: Senior entry from Fishers, Indiana. Four year starter who earned 2nd Team All MVFC honors in 2017, 1st Team in both 2018 and 2019 in addition to being named a 2nd Team All American as a senior. Chinn played a versatile role throughout college and there is a chance his tool set will cause some teams to experiment with him at cornerback. He may be oversized for the position, but Chinn plays really fast and long. His range and physical play could be a matchup nightmare for tight ends and receivers alike, but his feel in zone coverage just isn’t there. He will come into the league with a tool set that needs to be patiently developed, but he has starter upside.

*Chinn is probably going to go day 2 from what I’ve heard. I am keeping him at the top of day 3 though, and I won’t budge. I see a high upside athlete with plus size but he doesn’t play with fast eyes and I don’t see him forecasting very well. Maybe in a reaction-based role he can get a higher outlook, but he is similar to Dugger just a notch below in pretty much everything across the board.

  1. Terrell Burgess / Utah / 5’11 – 202

Grade: 75

Summary: Senior entry from San Marcos, California. One year starter who has been changed positions multiple times. Was a hybrid receiver/defensive back as a freshman before making the full time move to defense. Burgess played both cornerback and safety as a backup to both spots before being named the starting strong safety as a senior in 2019. He took his opportunity and ran with it, being named Honorable Mention All Pac 12. He was the leader of that defense and was lauded for his preparation, on-field IQ, and versatility. Burgess has some physical limitations but his intelligence and ability to change his skin in the defensive backfield is an attractive asset. He can be a third safety who gets on the field right away in nickel situations.

*All the NYG coaches seem to be on the same page in regard to their value on versatility and football intelligence. Burgess has pretty much played every role that exists in the secondary, he was the mental-leader of the Utah defense, and he ran a 4.46 at the combine. The fact he only started for a year is a red flag, but it could also mean someone is going to get a bargain with him because he isn’t even scratching the surface of what he can be yet. I see a nickel/dime defender here, roles that are becoming more and more important.

  1. Brandon Jones / Texas / 5’11 – 198

Grade: 75

Summary: Senior entry from Nacogdoches, Texas. Three year starter who finished with All Big 12 honors both seasons. Jones is the kind of player who is going to find multiple ways to help a defense. He can play a single high role, stemming from his ability to anticipate and quickly react to the ball. He can play in the box, stemming from his aggressive downhill nature and finisher’s punch as a tackler. He can contribute on special teams, as seen with his career that includes multiple blocked punts and 11+ yards per punt return. Jones is a smart player with sneaky speed who does a lot for a defense that won’t show up in the box score. He is going to produce more than many players drafted ahead of him.

*Jones doesn’t have the ideal size or speed, but his feel for the game and consistent production across multiple roles will get him drafted by a team that wants a fourth or fifth safety who can backup different spots. This kind of player can find a fit in any scheme.

  1. Josh Metellus / Michigan / 5’11 – 209

Grade: 75

Summary: Senior entry from Pembroke Pines, Florida. Three year starter who was named All Big 10 three straight years. Metellus has been a mainstay on the Wolverines defense for years, playing a leader-of-the-secondary role who is often lining up in different spots down to down. He makes good reads both pre and post snap and will make the plays that are in front of him. Metellus doesn’t have any standout physical traits but he is dependable and versatile. He won’t be a playmaker week to week, but the safety net he provides across multiple roles is often exactly what teams need as their last line of defense.

*I like this guy as a key special teams contributor and extra run defender. You know, nickel corners/safeties need to be able to tackle. A growing trend in the league is for offenses to audible to running or screen passes when extra defensive backs come on the field. Metellus can tackle like a linebacker and he has shown good production against the pass. He can be an important player right away, but don’t expect too much.

  1. Jordan Fuller / Ohio State / 6’2 – 203

Grade: 75

Summary: Senior entry from Old Tappan, New Jersey. Three year starter who ended his career on the 1st Team All Big 10 squad. The two-time team captain was a standout student who graduated early and has received a lot of positive attention for what he does off the field, a very high character young man. On the field, Fuller is a balanced threat in the secondary who has the pro-caliber triangle numbers and every down capabilities. He is best when the action is in front of him, as he can explode downhill with fast reactions. He doesn’t always show ideal instincts and feel, but if he is put into the right role in the right safety tandem, he can be a quality starter.

*Fuller is pretty average across the board but what I like about him, he doesn’t hurt the defense. It was hard to find real negative plays on his tape. I don’t know if I can trust him in deep coverage and I don’t see him taking on receivers in man, but he can be a guy who helps prevent big plays if there is enough help around him. Smart, good kid who coaches will want in the locker room.

  1. K’Von Wallace / Clemson / 5’11 – 206

Grade: 74

Summary: Senior entry from Highland Springs, Virginia. Three year starter who earned Honorable Mention All ACC in 2018, 3rd Team in 2019. Wallace lacks standout traits to sill a specific role at a high level, but he is a physical downhill force who will bring energy to a defense and special teams. His lack of long speed and fluidity in his hips can make him a liability in man and/or deep coverage, but he can perform well in the box most notably in a zone scheme. His upside has a low cap on hit but he is a safe bet to provide quality backup presence and solid special teams play.

*Wallace is a quick and physical downhill guy who controlled a lot of the calls on the Clemson defense. Like Fuller, it is hard to find plays where he really hurts the defense. I think he is a safe and reliable bet to provide quality depth but, also like Fuller, don’t expect him to make a lot of plays in coverage.

  1. Antoine Brooks Jr./ Maryland / 5’11 – 220

Grade: 71

Summary: Senior entry from Lanham, Maryland. Three year starter. Two time 2nd Team All Big 10 and one time Honorable Mention. 2019 Team MVP Award winner. Brooks was a high school quarterback who made the full time move to the defensive side upon arrival and steadily increased his level of play. He is an aggressive, downhill attacker who will make plenty of tackles in space and help enhance a team’s physical outlook. His capabilities and overall upside against the pass will be limited, however. He can’t stick to slot receivers, won’t be big enough against tight ends, and doesn’t have lateral range in deep zone. Perhaps not an every down player, Brooks can still make an impact but teams can’t put a ton on his plate.

*Be careful with where you put Brooks, as he will be the guy an opposing offense looks at and attacks in the passing game. He needs to be protected. That said, he is a force against the running game and will enforce a physical nature across the middle. Also, he will be a special teams weapon.

*PLEASE NOTE – Khaleke Hudson (Michigan) and Tanner Muse (Clemson) are on my LB board

16: Kenny Robinson / West Virgina: 70

17: L”Jarius Sneed / SMU: 70

18: Rodney Clemons / Louisiana Tech: 69

19: Brian Cole II / Mississippi State: 69

20: Jalynn Hawkins / California: 69

21: Chris Miller / Baylor: 68

22: Alohi Gilman / Notre Dame: 68

23: Shyheim Carter / Alabama: 68

24: James Hendricks / North Dakota State: 68

25: Jalen Elliot / Notre Dame: 68

NYG APPROACH

As I said earlier, the deep safety spot has been a weak point to this defense for years. I think the Peppers/Love duo has some potential, but I don’t think either one of them fills exactly what NYG needs back there. It is a door that is WIDE open, not in a good way. There won’t be any safeties in this class worth taking at #4, or even if they trade down unless we are talking about the last 7-9 picks of round 1. Round 2 the safety discussion can begin if one of the top 3 or 4 guys are available, although Dugger isn’t the fit for NYG’s current situation. The more I try to project, the more I see this being an option in rounds 3-4-5. The names I think are worth considering for the role they need to fill are and likely will be available are JR Reed, Julian Blackmon, and Jordan Fuller. Otherwise, you are looking at a late day 3 gamble who you can cross your fingers on.

Mar 062020
 
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Joe Judge, New York Giants (January 9, 2020)

Joe Judge – © USA TODAY Sports

Head Coach Joe Judge

One of the hallmarks of a bottom-tier sports franchise is how often it cycles through new coaches. In the last five years, the Giants have fired three head coaches and more assistant coaches than I care to count. With fan ire now rightfully shifting towards ownership, John Mara took a tremendous gamble in hiring Joe Judge, a 38-year old who has never served as a head coach at any level.

  • 2020-Present: Head Coach, New York Giants
  • 2019: Special Teams Coordinator/Wide Receivers Coach, New England Patriots
  • 2015-2018: Special Teams Coordinator, New England Patriots
  • 2012-2014: Special Teams Assistant, New England  Patriots
  • 2009-2011: Special Teams Assistant/Football Analyst, University of Alabama
  • 2008: Special Teams/Linebackers Coach, Birmingham-Southern College
  • 2005-2007: Graduate Assistant, Mississippi State University

On the surface, Judge’s resume appears almost entirely based on praise from two living football legends who he has worked under: Nick Saban and Bill Belichick. Other than that, Judge served at the coordinator level for only five seasons (2015-2019).

“He’s an excellent coach,” said Belichick. “He understands the game well, works extremely hard and is a very good teacher of fundamentals. Joe picks up concepts and coaching points quickly. He is an exceptional leader and one of the best coaches I have been around. He has been responsible for coaching units comprised of nearly every player on the roster. That requires an ability to handle many moving parts, make constant adjustments and immediate decisions.”

“Joe did a fantastic job for our program early on in our tenure in Tuscaloosa,” said Saban. “He went on to have a lot of success on Bill’s staff in New England. Joe is one of the brightest young coaches in our profession, and I think he will do a tremendous job as the head coach of the New York Giants. They are getting an extremely smart football coach who is very loyal, organized and diligent about getting the job done.”

At least in the short-term, Judge won over many doubting fans during his introductory press conference, evincing a no-nonsense, take-charge attitude and a sense of urgency that seems to have been lacking in recent years. But make no mistake, Mara is taking a big risk here on an unproven commodity with virtually no track record on the offensive and defensive sides of the football.

Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett

Despite his 85-67 regular-season record as head coach and earning “coach of the year” honors in 2016, most Cowboys fans were eventually glad to see Garrett let go. That said, his temperament and overall ability is probably best suited to offensive coordinator. Hiring Garrett was a major “get” for Judge and the Giants as his very presence gives the coaching staff some much-needed gravitas. Indeed, many had expected the Giants to pursue Garrett for the head coaching vacancy. When asked about Garrett, Judge pointed to Garrett’s ability run multiple schemes, putting pressure on defenses, and being an excellent teacher.

“There were guys I worked with that I came across in my career at both Alabama and at the New England Patriots that worked with Jason through their time in Miami with him,” said Judge. “They consistently all reflected on how smart he is, how great a teacher he is and how his perspective of the game was through a different lens than most coaches. And when he sees it, he’s able to communicate it and paint that mental image to the players. And he does a fantastic job of making in-game adjustments… It’s a great system he brings with great teaching that will allow our players to go out there and play aggressively.”

  • 2020-Present: Offensive Coordinator, New York Giants
  • 2011-2019: Head Coach, Dallas Cowboys
  • 2010: Interim Head Coach, Dallas Cowboys
  • 2008-2010: Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator, Dallas Cowboys
  • 2007: Offensive Coordinator, Dallas Cowboys
  • 2005-2006: Quarterbacks Coach, Miami Dolphins

Quarterbacks Coach Jerry Schuplinski

After serving four years as an assistant quarterbacks coach with two teams, Judge hired Schuplinski as the primary quarterbacks coach for the Giants. Schuplinski has received praise from former pupils young and old, including Jimmy Garoppolo and Ryan Fitzpatrick. While Schuplinski will be under pressure to develop Daniel Jones, keep in mind that Jason Garrett began his NFL career as both a quarterback and quarterback coach.

“Jerry is an incredible teacher,” said Judge. “He has done a phenomenal job of developing young quarterbacks in this league. He simplifies the game so the quarterback can play fast in terms of understanding our scheme and analyzing the opponent’s defense.”

  • 2020-Present: Quarterbacks Coach, New York Giants
  • 2019: Assistant Quarterbacks Coach, Miami Dolphins
  • 2016-2018: Assistant Quarterbacks Coach, New England Patriots
  • 2013-2015: Coaching Assistant, New England Patriots
  • 2007-2012: Linebackers/Special Teams Coach, Case Western Reserve University
  • 2002-2006: Head Coach, Trinity High School (Ohio)
  • 2000-2001: Running Backs/Special Teams Coach, John Carroll University
Running Backs Coach Burton Burns

The oldest member of the staff, the 67-year old Burns actually transitioned from legendary running backs coach at Alabama to assistant athletic director for football two years ago. Yet the coaching bug appears to still be in his veins.

“I’ve worked with Burton, so I knew first-hand the impact he has on the players he coaches,” Judge said. “He’s coached a number of great backs, he’s coached on a lot of championship teams, and he knows how to get the most out of his players. He’s tough. That’s one thing you’re going to find out about Burton right away. He’s tough. He’s hard-nosed, he coaches tough, he demands his players to play tough. But he has as deep a care for the players he coaches as anybody out there. They respond to him because they know he’s in a foxhole with them. I’m excited to have Burton here, very excited to have Burton here. I know he’s looking forward to working with the guys on the roster.”

Burns was credited with helping to develop Heisman Trophy winners Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry. One has to think that the lure of coaching Saquon Barkley was a major factor in bringing Burns out of coaching retirement.

  • 2020-Present: Running Backs Coach, New York Giants
  • 2018-2019: Assistant Athletic Director for Football, University of Alabama
  • 2007-2017: Running Backs Coach, University of Alabama
  • 1999-2006: Running Backs Coach, Clemson University
  • 1994-1998: Assistant Coach, Tulane University
  • 1986-1993: Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator, Saint Augustine High School (New Orleans, LA)
  • 1981-1985: Assistant Coach, Southern University
  • 1980: Assistant Coach, Booker T. Washington High School (New Orleans, LA)
  • 1977-1979: Assistant Coach, Saint Augustine High School (New Orleans, LA)
Wide Receivers Coach Tyke Tolbert

One of the few coaches to survive the purge, Tolbert was hired by Pat Shurmur two years ago after serving as wide receivers coach with a number of franchises including the Cardinals, Bills, Panthers, and Broncos. From an outsider’s perspective, the major reason he was brought back appears to be the development of Darius Slayton. Others such as Sterling Shepard and Cody Latimer, the latter also being with Tolbert in Denver, have not developed as hoped. Judge may have been impressed with his work with previous teams as well as the job he did with a slew of bottom tier wide receivers the Giants have had to rely on the past two seasons.

“Tyke’s a guy I knew throughout the league from going against him,” Judge said. “He’s a guy that came recommended by a lot of people that I know very personally. But ultimately, the deciding factor on Tyke is you turn his tape on, and his guys play hard, they play fundamentally sound, he’s been able to develop a number of receivers in different systems, and ultimately, the video tapes are what tells you how a guy is coaching.”

  • 2018-Present: Wide Receivers Coach, New York Giants
  • 2011-2017: Wide Receivers Coach, Denver Broncos
  • 2010: Wide Receivers Coach, Carolina Panthers
  • 2004-2009: Wide Receivers Coach, Buffalo Bills
  • 2003: Wide Receivers Coach, Arizona Cardinals
  • 2002: Tight Ends Coach/Recruiting Coordinator, University of Florida
  • 1999-2001: Wide Receivers Coach/Recruiting Coordinator, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
  • 1998: Tight Ends Coach, Auburn University
  • 1995-1997: Tight Ends Coach, Northeast Louisiana University
  • 1995: Wide Receivers Coach, Ohio University
  • 1994: Graduate Assistant, Northeast Louisiana University
  • 1994: Graduate Assistant, Louisiana State University
Tight Ends Coach Freddie Kitchens

A lightening rod for many fans given his disastrous debut season as a head coach with the Cleveland Browns in 2019, Kitchens was not long ago considered a rising offensive mind in the League. Indeed, it was speculated that Judge may have considered Kitchens for the offensive coordinator spot. Kitchens has a wide array of position coaching experience, including running backs, tight ends, and quarterbacks. He also was an offensive coordinator for one season in Cleveland before becoming head coach. Kitchens replaces Lunda Wells, who now ironically is the tight ends coach for the Dallas Cowboys.

“I think any position on offense is good for Freddie,” Judge said. “He’s got a lot of experience at different positions. He’s been head coach, he’s been a coordinator, he’s been a position coach. He sees it through a lot of different perspectives. What I love about Freddie is he brings an element of toughness and discipline to his room. He brings outside the box thinking a lot of times to how he approaches the game from a game plan perspective. I think he’ll be an asset to working with our offensive coaches and developing the game plan throughout the week. But ultimately, I’ve worked with Freddie, I’ve played for Freddie, and I’ve called against Freddie, and I understand what his players are about.”

  • 2020-Present: Tight Ends Coach, New York Giants
  • 2019: Head Coach, Cleveland Browns
  • 2018: Offensive Coordinator, Cleveland Browns
  • 2018: Associate Head Coach/Running Backs Coach, Cleveland Browns
  • 2017: Running Backs Coach, Arizona Cardinals
  • 2013-2016: Quarterbacks Coach, Arizona Cardinals
  • 2007-2012: Tight Ends Coach, Arizona Cardinals
  • 2006: Tight Ends Coach, Dallas Cowboys
  • 2005: Running Backs Coach, Mississippi State University
  • 2004: Tight Ends Coach, Mississippi State University
  • 2001-2003: Running Backs Coach, University of North Texas
  • 2000: Graduate Assistant, Louisiana State University
  • 1999: Running Backs/Tight Ends Coach, Glenville State College

(NFL has blocked the following video from BBI, click on link to see “Freddie Kitchens: The Most Selfless Man in the NFL”).

Offensive Line Coach Marc Colombo

Most Giants fans were pining for long-time offensive line guru Bill Callahan, but Cleveland hired Callahan in late January. Judge instead chose 41-year old and relatively still green offensive line coach Marc Colombo over the more experienced Dave DeGuglielmo, who couldn’t seem to stay in one place very long. One of the primary selling points had to be Colombo’s preexisting relationship and experience with Jason Garrett in Dallas. As a player for the Cowboys, Colombo was also a favorite of then Dallas Head Coach Bill Parcells.

“Continuity is very important, especially between the offensive coordinator and the offensive line coach, that they can be on the same page starting out,” Judge said. “One of the challenges of a new staff is getting on the same page and working through some of the differences that maybe we’ve had from past experiences but making sure we’re working to one goal. I’d say with Marc, the deciding factor wasn’t his past experience with Jason. The deciding factor was he’s a tremendous coach. His body of work as you turn on the tape and watch how his guys play with technique, execution and toughness is ultimately what the deciding factor was.”

  • 2020-Present: Offensive Line Coach, New York Giants
  • 2018-2019: Offensive Line Coach, Dallas Cowboys
  • 2016-2018: Assistant Offensive Line Coach, Dallas Cowboys
Assistant Offensive Line Coach Ben Wilkerson

Wilkerson is another Pat Shurmur hire who survived the purge. He worked under unimpressive offensive line coach Hal Hunter, who was out of coaching in 2017 before Shurmur hired him and currently remains unemployed as a coach. Judge has not publicly commented on the retention of Wilkerson. He must see something in him.

  • 2018-Present: Assistant Offensive Line Coach, New York Giants
  • 2015-2017: Assistant Offensive Line Coach, Chicago Bears
  • 2014: Assistant Football and Track Coach, North Shore Senior High School (Texas)
  • 2012-2013: Offensive Line Coach, Grambling State University
  • 2011: Offensive Administrative Intern, Louisiana State University
  • 2010: Offensive Graduate Assistant, Louisiana State University
Senior Offensive Assistant Derek Dooley

Dooley is the third assistant coach on the offensive side of the football who has served as a head coach in the NFL or at a major collegiate program. He also worked with Jason Garrett in Dallas for five seasons as wide receivers coach. He also has experience as an offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, tight ends coach, running backs coach, and special teams coordinator.

  • 2020-Present: Senior Offensive Assistant, New York Giants
  • 2018-2019: Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach, University of Missouri
  • 2013-2017: Wide Receivers Coach, Dallas Cowboys
  • 2010-2012: Head Coach, University of Tennessee
  • 2007-2009: Head Coach, Louisiana Tech University
  • 2005-2006: Tight Ends Coach, Miami Dolphins
  • 2004: Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs Coach/Special Teams Coordinator, Louisiana State University
  • 2003: Running Backs Coach/Special Teams Coordinator, Louisiana State University
  • 2000-2002: Tight Ends Coach/Recruiting Coordinator, Louisiana State University
  • 1997-1999: Wide Receivers Coach/Co-Recruiting Coordinator, Southern Methodist University
  • 1996: Graduate Assistant, University of Georgia

At the very least, he is quite the character (see video below).

Offensive Assistant Stephen Brown

It seems Brown was probably brought onboard due to his preexisting relationship with Jason Garrett, serving in the same role in Dallas for four seasons. Judge has not commented on Brown.

  • 2020-Present: Offensive Assistant, New York Giants
  • 2016-2019: Offensive Assistant, Dallas Cowboys
  • 2013-2014: Assistant to the Head Coach/Special Teams Assistant, Buffalo Bills
  • 2009-2012: Quality Control Coach/Director of Recruiting, Syracuse University
  • 2006-2008: Student Assistant, University of Tennessee
Offensive Quality Control Coach Bobby Blick

Blick survived both the Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur firings. However, Judge moved him from the defensive to the offensive side of the ball. Judge has not commented on Blick. Typically, quality control coaches prepare the statistical analysis as well as the initial video study of upcoming opponents several weeks in advance of playing them.

  • 2020-Present: Offensive Quality Control Coach, New York Giants
  • 2017-2019: Defensive Assistant, New York Giants
  • 2016: Director of Player Personnel, Army
  • 2015: Special Teams Coordinator/Director of Recruiting, Samford University
  • 2014: Tight Ends/Slot Receivers Coach, Samford University
  • 2014: Special Teams Quality Control Coach, Georgia Tech
  • 2011-2013: Tight Ends/Running Backs Coach, Elon University
  • 2008-2010: Offensive Graduate Assistant, North Carolina State University
  • 2004-2007: Undergraduate Assistant, North Carolina State University
Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham

The selection of Graham as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator may be the most head-scratching hire Judge made. In his only season as defensive coordinator, an admittedly undermanned Miami Dolphins defense finished 30th in yardage allowed and 32nd in points allowed. Furthermore, since Graham was still under contract, the Dolphins voluntarily allowed Graham to go to the Giants.

  • 2020-Present: Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator, New York Giants
  • 2019: Defensive Coordinator, Miami Dolphins
  • 2018: Defensive Run Game Coordinator/Inside Linebackers Coach, Green Bay Packers
  • 2016-2017: Defensive Line Coach, New York Giants
  • 2014-2015: Linebackers Coach, New England Patriots
  • 2012-2013: Defensive Line Coach, New England Patriots
  • 2011: Linebackers Coach, New England Patriots
  • 2010: Defensive Assistant Coach, New England Patriots
  • 2009: Coaching Assistant, New England Patriots
  • 2009: Defensive Line Coach, University of Toledo
  • 2007-2008: Defensive Graduate Assistant, University of Notre Dame
  • 2005-2006: Tight Ends Coach, University of Richmond
  • 2004: Defensive Line Coach, University of Richmond
  • 2002-2003: Graduate Assistant, Wagner College

When asked about Graham, Judge repeats the same word: multiple. The good news about Graham is that Belichick thought enough of him to keep him around for seven years, coaching both the defensive line and linebackers. Ironically, he also served two years on Ben McAdoo’s staff in 2016 and 2017.

Defensive Line Coach Sean Spencer

Spencer was not Judge’s first preference as this job was first offered to University of Mississippi Defensive Line Coach Freddie Roach, who apparently first accepted and then backed out of the job. Despite not having any pro coaching experience, Spencer appears to be a solid fallback option as “Coach Chaos” was widely respected for his work at Penn State.

“I’ve known Sean through the business,” Judge said. “The most impressive thing about Sean is the players he’s developed through his time at both Vanderbilt and Penn State, among other stops in his career. Sean has a great energy about him, he has great command within a room, his players respond to him, they play hard and they play fundamentally sound.”

  • 2020-Present: Defensive Line Coach, New York Giants
  • 2018-2019: Associate Head Coach/Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach, Penn State University
  • 2014-2017: Defensive Line Coach, Penn State University
  • 2011-2013: Defensive Line Coach, Vanderbilt University
  • 2009-2010: Defensive Line Coach, Bowling Green State University
  • 2007-2008: Defensive Line Coach/Special Teams Coordinator, University of Massachusetts
  • 2006: Defensive Line Coach, Hofstra University
  • 2005: Linebackers Coach, Villanova University
  • 2004: Defensive Line Coach, College of the Holy Cross
  • 2001-2003: Defensive Line Coach, University of Massachusetts
  • 2000: Defensive Line Coach, Trinity College
  • 1998-1999: Running Backs Coach, Trinity College
  • 1996-1997: Running Backs Coach, Shippensburg University
  • 1995: Running Backs/Tight Ends Coach, Wesleyan University

Outside Linebacker Coach/Senior Assistant Bret Bielema

Bielma’s career path is a bit odd and he is somewhat a controversial and “colorful” figure. As head coach, he led the Wisconsin Badgers to a 68-24 overall record and three straight Big Ten Championships. But Bielma surprisingly left Wisconsin for the head coaching position at Arkansas, where he struggled, compiling just a 29-34 record. He was fired after five seasons. Bill Belichick then hired Bielma as a consultant in 2018 and then shifted him to defensive line coach in 2019. After being the only coach Judge poached off of Belichick’s staff, Bielma interviewed for head coaching jobs at Michigan State and Colorado. However, as of now, he will be a New York Giant in 2020.

“There’s a lot of things (to like) about Bret,” Judge said. “I think Bret brings a great personality to the group, brings a great perspective on how he sees the game, he’s coached the front for some time, he’s coordinated defenses at a high level. Players respond to Bret in a positive way. He has a great way of teaching, he has a great way of getting the guys motivated, and he gets the most out of his players. He brings experience from the NFL, as well as college, so not only does he understand what’s going on in the league now, he understands what the players coming from college are used to and how to better translate the trends they’re going to see.”

  • 2020-Present: Outside Linebacker Coach/Senior Assistant, New York Giants
  • 2019: Defensive Line Coach, New England Patriots
  • 2018: Consultant to the Head Coach, New England Patriots
  • 2013-2017: Head Coach, University of Arkansas
  • 2006-2012: Head Coach, University of Wisconsin
  • 2004-2005: Defensive Coordinator, University of Wisconsin
  • 1996-2001: Linebackers Coach, University of Iowa
  • 1994-1995: Graduate Assistant, University of Iowa
  • 2002-2003: Co-Defensive Coordinator, Kansas State University

Inside Linebackers Coach Kevin Sherrer

Like Sean Spencer, Kevin Sherrer has never coached at the pro level. So it remains to be seen how well he will adjust to the pro game. Interestingly, he coached linebacker Lorenzo Carter at the University of Georgia.

“Kevin is just an old ball coach,” Judge said. “When I met Kevin, he was coaching at Hoover High School in Alabama. The next year, he was on the staff with us at Alabama. I’ve watched him progress through his career as defensive coordinator at South Alabama, his time in Georgia, his time in Tennessee. I think Kevin is a phenomenal football coach, and he coaches from the ground up with fundamentals, his players play sound and they play hard.”

  • 2020-Present: Inside Linebackers Coach, New York Giants
  • 2019: Special Teams Coordinator/Inside Linebackers Coach, University of Tennessee
  • 2018: Co-Defensive Coordinator/Inside Linebackers Coach, University of Tennessee
  • 2014-2017: Outside Linebackers Coach, University of Georgia
  • 2013: Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs Coach, University of South Alabama
  • 2010-2012: Director of Player Development, University of Alabama
  • 2007-2009: Defensive Coordinator, Hoover High School (Alabama)
  • 2005-2006: Defensive Assistant, Hoover High School (Alabama)
  • 2001-2004: Defensive Backs Coach, Spain Park High School (Alabama)
  • 1998-2000: Graduate Assistant, University of Alabama
  • 1996-1997: Assistant, Tuscaloosa County High School (Alabama)
Defensive Backs Coach Jerome Henderson

On the surface, Henderson doesn’t seem like an overly inspiring hire as his passing game defenses in Atlanta ranked 28th, 12th, 27th, and 22nd the last four seasons. The Falcons fired him in January. Before that, he served as defensive backs coach for the Dallas Cowboys for four seasons.

“Jerome has a great resume, he’s coached a lot of good players in a lot of good schemes,” Judge said. “I think the more you check around with Jerome, I talked to guys that he coached, the way they responded to him and the way they respected him in the room definitely said a lot about him as a coach.”

  • 2020-Present: Defensive Backs Coach, New York Giants
  • 2016-2019: Defensive Passing Game Coordinator, Atlanta Falcons
  • 2012-2015: Defensive Backs Coach, Dallas Cowboys
  • 2009-2011: Defensive Backs Coach, Cleveland Browns
  • 2008: Defensive Backs Coach, New York Jets
  • 2007: Assistant Defensive Backs Coach/Director of Player Development, New York Jets
  • 2006: Director of Player Development, New York Jets

Assistant Defensive Backs Coach Anthony Blevins

Blevins was another Pat Shurmur assistant who Judge chose to keep. However, Judge moved him from assistant special teams coach to assistant defensive backs coach. Blevins did coach defensive backs at the collegiate level.

“I’ve known Blev for some time now, and he’s coached on all three sides of the ball,” Judge said. “He brings great experience that he can contribute to a lot of different parts of developing players. One thing you learn working with the special teams is you’re learning how to develop techniques of a total player. He could easily have gone over to the offense and worked with a skilled position. He could have stayed on special teams and have been an asset. We thought right now, the best fit for Blev was to help with our defense and bring some experience he brought from the other sides of the ball and work with Jerome.”

  • 2020-Present: Assistant Defensive Backs Coach, New York Giants
  • 2018-2019: Assistant Special Teams Coach, New York Giants
  • 2013-2017: Coaching Assistant/Special Teams, Arizona Cardinals
  • 2012: Cornerbacks Coach, University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • 2011: Special Teams Coach/Cornerbacks Coach, Tennessee State University
  • 2009-2010: Cornerbacks Coach/Recruiting Coordinator, Tennessee State University
  • 2008: Cornerbacks Coach/Recruiting Coordinator, University of Tennessee-Martin
  • 2005-2007: Graduate Assistant, Mississippi State University
  • 2003-2004: Defensive Backs/Running Backs Coach, Meadow Creek High School (Georgia)
Defensive Assistant Jody Wright

Judge has not publicly commented on Wright, who will serve as a defensive assistant.

  • 2020-Present: Defensive Assistant, New York Giants
  • 2019: Offensive Assistant, Cleveland Browns
  • 2018: Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach, University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • 2015-2017: Director of Player Personnel, University of Alabama
  • 2014: Running Backs Coach, University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • 2013: Passing Game Coordinator/Tight Ends Coach, Jacksonville State University
  • 2010-2012: Graduate Assistant/Offensive Analyst, University of Alabama
  • 2009: Assistant Athletic Director for Football Operations, Mississippi State University
  • 2006-2008: Graduate Assistant, Mississippi State University
  • 2005: Volunteer Coach, Mississippi State University
  • 2002-2004: Student Assistant Coach, Jacksonville State University
    Defensive Quality Control Coach Mike Treier

    Judge also has not commented on Treier, who will serve as defensive quality control coach. Typically, quality control coaches prepare the statistical analysis as well as the initial video study of upcoming opponents several weeks in advance of playing them.

    • 2020-Present: Defensive Quality Control Coach, New York Giants
    • 2019: Safeties Coach/Recruiting Coordinator, Marshall University
    • 2018: Defensive Backs Coach, Marshall University
    • 2017: Defensive Analyst, Marshall University
    • 2016: Co-Defensive Coordinator/Secondary Coach, University of Tennessee at Martin
    • 2014-2015: Graduate Assistant, Marshall University
    Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey

    McGaughey deservingly survived the latest coaching purge as his special teams performed decently the past two years.

    “I’ve known T-Mac from going against him as well as being in the business and I have a good relationship with him professionally and personally,” Judge said. “I have a lot of respect for him as a coach and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a person. He gets the most out of his players. I’ve competed against him and I knew it was always going to be tough sledding in the game there. From the perspective of having to go against him, you understand you don’t want to get him out of the building; you want to hold onto guys like that. They’re definitely key assets. He and Tom Quinn do an outstanding job of working together, coaching the players in techniques and coming up with schemes for game plans that allow them to apply pressure on the opponents.”

    • 2018-Present: Special Teams Coordinator, New York Giants
    • 2017: Special Teams Coordinator, Carolina Panthers
    • 2016: Assistant Special Teams Coach, Carolina Panthers
    • 2015: Special Teams Coordinator, San Francisco 49ers
    • 2014: Special Teams Coordinator, New York Jets
    • 2011-2013: Special Teams Coordinator/Defensive Assistant, Louisiana State University
    • 2007-2010: Assistant Special Teams Coordinator, New York Giants
    • 2005-2006: Assistant Special Teams Coordinator, Denver Broncos
    • 2004: Special Teams Coordinator/Cornerbacks Coach, University of Houston
    • 2003: Special Teams Coordinator, University of Houston
    • 2002: Special Teams Intern, Kansas City Chiefs
    • 2002: Special Teams Coordinator/Defensive Backs Coach, Scottish Claymores (NFLE)
    • 2001: Pro Scouting Assistant, Houston Texans
    • 2001: Minority Intern, Kansas City Chiefs
    • 1998-2001: Special Teams Coordinator/Defensive Backs Coach, Willowridge High School (Houston, TX)
    • 1998: Graduate Assistant, University of Houston

    Assistant Special Teams Coach Tom Quinn

    Quinn must have been reincarnated from a cat because he definitely has nine lives. Quinn miraculously not only has survived Tom Coughlin, Ben McAdoo, and Pat Shurmur, but some dreadful special teams units during his tenure as special teams coordinator for a decade with the team.

    “The experience is important, but the success is more important,” Judge said. “(McGaughey and Quinn have) been doing it at a high success rate for a long time. The fact that they had a relationship working together already, I had a relationship with both guys from going against them and have known them within the profession for some time now. T-Mac and Tom do a tremendous job. I love the way they relate to the players, I love the way they coach their guys. You know when you go against their units that they’re going to be sound and they’re going to play hard, and that’s critical. I have a lot of respect for both of them.”

    • 2018-Present: Assistant Special Teams Coach, New York Giants
    • 2007-2017: Special Teams Coordinator, New York Giants
    • 2006: Assistant Special Teams Coach, New York Giants
    • 2004-2005: Special Teams/Outside Linebackers Coach, Stanford University
    • 2002-2003: Special Teams/Tight Ends Coach, Stanford University
    • 1999-2001: Special Teams/Linebackers/Tight Ends Coach, San Jose State University
    • 1996-1998: Defensive Coordinator, College of the Holy Cross
    • 1995: Defensive Coordinator, Boston University
    • 1992-1994: Special Teams Coach/Recruiting Coordinator, James Madison University
    • 1991: Linebackers Coach, Davidson College
    Assistant Coach – Special Projects and Situations Amos Jones

    Amos was the last coach Judge hired. His title is a new one for the New York Giants franchise.

    “Amos is someone I’ve known for quite some time,” Judge said. “I have a high trust factor with him. He’s definitely somebody who has worked consistently throughout his career with a number of organizations dealing with situations. He’s got an eye for all sides of the ball. He’ll help with a lot of special projects that will come up throughout the season with evaluation of ourselves and our opponents… Amos brings a wealth of experience to our team.”

    • 2020-Present: Assistant Coach – Special Projects and Situations, New York Giants
    • 2019: Assistant Special Teams Coach, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    • 2018: Special Teams Coordinator, Cleveland Browns
    • 2013-2017: Special Teams Coordinator, Arizona Cardinals
    • 2012: Special Teams Coordinator, Pittsburgh Steelers
    • 2007-2011: Assistant Special Teams Coach, Pittsburgh Steelers
    • 2006: Outside Linebackers Coach, Mississippi State University
    • 2004-2005: Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers Coach, Mississippi State University
    • 2003: Tight Ends/Special Teams Coach, James Madison University
    • 1999-2002: Running Backs/Special Teams Coach, University of Cincinnati
    • 1998: Assistant Coach, East St. John High School (Louisiana)
    • 1997: Assistant Coach, BC Lions
    • 1995-1996: Linebackers Coach, Tulane University
    • 1993-1994: Assistant Coach, Eau Gallie High School (Florida)
    • 1992: Kicking Game Coach, University of Pittsburgh
    • 1990-1991: Special Teams Coach, University of Alabama
    • 1989: Assistant Coach, Shades Valley High School (Alabama)
    • 1986-1988: Defensive Line Coach, Temple University
    • 1983-1985: Tight Ends Coach, Temple University
    • 1981-1982: Graduate Assistant, University of Alabama
    Feb 092020
     
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    Dave Gettleman, New York Giants (November 10, 2019)

    Dave Gettleman – © USA TODAY Sports

    According to Spotrac.com, the New York Giants currently have approximately $61,282,080 in salary cap space, not counting the yet-to-be-determined amount set aside to sign 2020 draft picks. Only the top 51 player salaries for a team count against the salary cap in the offseason.

    Spotrac.com overview of the New York Giants salary cap situation:

    • 2020 NFL Salary Cap: $199,000,000
    • 2019 Rollover Cap: $1,529,568
    • Adjustment: $0
    • New York Giants Adjusted Salary Cap: $200,529,568
    • All Contracts: $138,292,705
    • Top 51 Contracts: $135,232,705
    • 2020 Projected Draft Pool Cap: TBD
    • Dead Money: $4,014,783
    • Total (All): $142,307,488
    • Total (Top 51 Contracts): $139,247,488
    • Cap Space (All): $58,222,080
    • Cap Space (Top 51 Contracts): $61,282,080

    The top two sources of the dead money are:

    • Cornerback Janoris Jenkins ($3,500,000)
    • Quarterback Kyle Lauletta ($353,849)

    The top-15 players currently counting the most against the team’s 2020 salary cap are:

    1. Offensive Tackle Nate Solder ($19,500,000)
    2. Offensive Guard Kevin Zeitler ($12,500,000)
    3. Linebacker Alec Ogletree ($11,750,000)
    4. Wide Receiver Golden Tate ($10,500,000)
    5. Running Back Saquon Barkley ($8,507,659)
    6. Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard ($8,500,000)
    7. Tight End Rhett Ellison ($7,188,384)
    8. Linebacker Kareem Martin ($5,966,668)
    9. Quarterback Daniel Jones ($5,832,740)
    10. Tight End Evan Engram ($3,410,371)
    11. Defensive Lineman Dexter Lawrence ($3,010,918)
    12. Safety Antoine Bethea ($2,875,000)
    13. Offensive Center Spencer Pulley ($2,750,000)
    14. Punter Riley Dixon ($2,725,000)
    15. Cornerback Deandre Baker ($2,392,208)

    Dead money and cap savings if these players are cut before June 1st:

    1. Offensive Tackle Nate Solder ($13,000,000/$6,500,000)
    2. Offensive Guard Kevin Zeitler ($5,000,000/$7,500,000)
    3. Linebacker Alec Ogletree ($3,500,000/$8,250,000)
    4. Wide Receiver Golden Tate ($7,058,823/$3,294,119)
    5. Tight End Rhett Ellison ($2,188,383/$5,000,000)
    6. Linebacker Kareem Martin ($1,166,668/$4,800,000)
    7. Safety Antoine Bethea ($125,000/$2,750,000)
    8. Offensive Center Spencer Pulley ($0/$2,750,000)
    9. Quarterback Alex Tanney ($37,500/$1,000,000)