Apr 102018
 
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Vita Vea, Washington Huskies (December 30, 2017)

Vita Vea – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Line

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*Note…these positions are based on what I think will be more of a 3-4 scheme. Edge guys get their own preview.

1 – Vita Vea – Washington – 6’4/347

Grade: 87

Strong Points:

-Rare blend of size and functional athleticism
-Plays hard all the time
-Crafty, savvy when it comes to getting off blocks in short spaces

Weak Points

-Lack of pure pass rush moves, needs more refinement there
-Tires easily, can’t be on field for long stretches
-Didn’t make a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. Could have come out last year and been a top 10 pick. Vea is a name I don’t see discussed often enough as a legit possibility for being the first defender taken in this class. If he had more pass rush production, something I still think there is some untapped upside with, he would be above the 90 mark. Vea is the closest thing we have ever seen to Haloti Ngata and if he can be matched with the right defensive mind that will move him around a lot, he is going to be a star. Don’t completely overlook NYG considering him if they trade down a few spots because he CAN be on the field at the same time as Harrison. He is a better athlete than most 3-4 DEs in the league.

NFL Comparison: Haloti Ngata / PHI

2 – Da’Ron Payne – Alabama – 6’2/311

Grade: 86

Strong Points:

-A boulder that won’t ever be pushed back, keeping gaps closed and LBs clean
-Showed promise as a pass rusher late in 2017
-Turns and shifts his weight while carrying elite presence when attacking the ball

Weak Points:

-Lack of production is noteworthy
-Doesn’t always fire out with proper leverage and hand placement
-Needs more violence post-snap

Summary:

Junior entry. 2 year starter but was a part of the DL rotation from day one. Payne will be NFL ready week one by whoever drafts him. He is the ideal inside run defender that has no issues taking on blocks, maintaining ground, and doing the dirty work to keep players around him free. Like Vea, his lack of production behind the line prevents him from the All-Pro status but he did take that part of his game to the next level late in 2017. Payne’s grade is partially based on projection, as I think if he is let loose as a pass rusher and/or penetrator, he can be a dominant force.

NFL Comparison: Linval Joseph / MIN

3 – Maurice Hurst – Michigan – 6’1/292

Grade: 82

Strong Points:

-Elite burst and pad level off the snap
-Excels at locating the ball when engaged in traffic
-Aggressive and surprisingly stout against the double team

Weak Points:

-Has a heart condition that still needs some questions answered
-On the very-small end when it comes to size inside
-May be too reliant on the initial movement

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Great story of a kid that really had to work his butt off to get some playing time and once he did, he took full advantage. When you try to teach DTs how to play the game with snap anticipation, leverage, and hand usage, pop in his tape. It is elite. I did downgrade him from 85 because of the heart issue that, from what I have been told, is scaring some teams to the point of taking him off their board. Bit if he clears that, his ability to impact the game as a gap shooter is big time. He may struggle to play a full load of snaps inside at that size, but the right coach and scheme can make him a star.

NFL Comparison: Mike Daniels / GB

4 – Rasheem Green – USC – 6’4/275

Grade: 81

Strong Points:

-Long and wide frame that will easily add weight
-Plus foot speed and bendability, making him a movement-threat in space and traffic
-Pro’s approach to the game when it comes to awareness and technique

¬Weak Points

-Gets high out of his stance and can be pushed around
-Needs to develop more lower body strength
-Lacks urgency and aggression at times

Summary:

Junior entry. Quietly recorded 10 sacks in 2017, earning 1st Team All Pac 12 honors. This is a name that doesn’t get discussed enough as one of the best 3-4 DL in the draft. Green already plays the game like a pro and that is a standout trait I noticed from day one of scouting him. He is an outstanding athlete with the kind of frame that coaches get excited about. He started to break out in 2017 and had he stayed another season, he may have been a top 10 pick in 2019. Really high floor and ceiling here.

NFL Comparison: Cameron Heyward / PIT

5 – Tim Settle – Virginia Tech – 6’3/329

Grade: 81

Strong Points:

-A force off the ball, can create a new line of scrimmage
-Plays low, fast, and physical
-Developed pass rush moves as 2017 progressed, versatile and reliable

Weak Points

-Conditioning has been an issue his entire career
-Inconsistent technique, will neglect hand placement too often
-Needs more control and balance, winds up on the ground or away from the action

Summary:

Third year sophomore entry. Was a bit of a surprise to see him come out in 2017, as he could have used another year of seasoning to potentially become a top 10 pick in 2019. I am high on him, I think he is a first round talent that may need some time, but in the end will be a versatile game changer. Settle was moved around a lot because of his size and burst off the snap. He is dominant at times and the light started to click over the second half of 2017. I would draft him knowing it may be a boom or bust, but the reward might be big time.

NFL Comparison: Marcell Darius / JAC

6 – RJ McIntosh – Miami – 6’4/286

Grade: 79

Strong Points:

-Active after the snap when needed, can change his style on the fly
-Powerful when engaged with run blockers, will hold his ground
-Very ball-aware, knows where to be and what to do, instinctive

Weak Points:

-Inconsistent use of leverage, plays high when he tires
-Doesn’t handle the double team well, lack of block awareness
-Will get out of control and spend too much time recovering off balanced

Summary:

Junior entry that has been a steadily growing presence in the ACC for the past 2 seasons. Overlooked in the exciting, playmaking, talent-loaded defense at Miami. McIntosh is a versatile playmaker that has a natural sense in the trenches. He is very good at getting his hands up against the short passes, very active against the run, and will make his presence known at some point. He had one of the more impressive performances against Quenton Nelson in 2017.

7 – Taven Bryan – Florida – 6’5/291

Grade: 79

Strong Points:

-Excellent athlete with a frame that can handle multiple roles
-Pursues sideline to sideline, will make plays all over, high motor
-Crafty and advanced technique when it comes to getting off blocks

Weak Points:

-Lacks a stout power game against the double team, gives up ground
-Will lose control and over pursue, too many recovery steps
-Needs more stability and lower body presence

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. Never quite broke out with big time production, but he was surrounded by a poor defense in the SEC. Bryan stands out on tape because of his movement skills on a frame that has a lot of potential. I think the Giants could have a lot of interest here, because he fits the playmaking 3-4 DE role like a glove. There is work to be done when it comes to strength and power, but this is the kind of kid that you know will come in and get it done. High upside.

NFL Comparison: Malik Jackson / JAC

8 – PJ Hall – Sam Houston State – 6’0/308

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Incredible burst and speed, top tier
-Can hold the point of attack when needed with elite strength and leverage
-Smart and savvy, reads the action while engaged fast

Weak Points:

-On the bottom tier of size requirements
-Lacks conditioning, tires easily and will take plays off
-Can be surprised by down blocks easily and won’t recover well

Summary:

Four time FCS All American. All time leader in sacks and tackles for loss in school history. 14 career blocked kicks which is unheard of. Has experience all over the line. I have been and continue to be higher on Hall than most out there. I think he is a legit 2nd round talent that will cause a lot of headaches in the NFL. He may not be an every down defender with the lack of size, but his burst and leverage while maintaining very good power will cause offensive linemen to really work. If Hall was coming from a bigger program, I think he would be in the 1st round discussion.

NFL Comparison: Geno Atkins / CIN

9 – BJ Hill – NC State – 6’3/311

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Derives more than enough power from his lower body
-Can play low and quick
-Versatile skill set, can shoot the gap and create a new line of scrimmage

Weak Points:

-Block awareness is lacking, fails to see down blocks and gets washed out
-Doesn’t deliver a quality bull rush, eyes get lost
-Production vs the double team was lacking, too much movement

Summary:

3+ year starter. Really solid player that has been quietly productive and even somewhat overlooked in that dominant NC State line. Hill has the body of a run stuffer but the movement of a pass rusher. He is a disruptor that would be at his best in a penetrating role. He shows potential as a space eater when the situation calls for it, as his quick twitch power and aggressive hands can make life difficult for a run blocker. I suspect NYG will be very interested in him if they are leaning to a true 3-4 as a DE.

NFL Comparison: Jarran Reed / SEA

10 – Derek Nnadi – Florida State – 6’1/317

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Natural leverage advantage but still has the length to keep blockers away
-Quick in a phone booth, has tackle to tackle range
-Developed technique when it comes to hand work and rush moves

Weak Points:

-If he doesn’t win off the snap, he struggles to recover
-Limited impact as a pass rusher in college
-Footwork needs to be improved, doesn’t play wide enough

Summary:

A four year contributor, made the all ACC team three years in a row. Coaches rave about him and his worth ethic. Nnadi doesn’t check all the boxes when it comes to the measureables. He is short and stocky and did not test well athletically. But pop in any FSU tape over the past few years and it is hard not to come way impressed. This guy is a player and he will impact the game. Ideally he is in at NT on rushing downs, as his weaknesses can be exposed elsewhere. He ma be a better fit for the 4-3 front, but with NYG needing to find 15+ snaps from a backup nose tackle each week, Nnadi would be on my round 3 radar.

NFL Comparison: Javon Hargrave / PIT

11 – Lowell Lotulelei – Utah – 6’2/315

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Quick power off the snap, sends the blocker backward
-Unreal hand strength, can control anyone when both of his mitts are on
-Easy knee bend with an upright chest, making it easy for him to anchor

Weak Points:

-Reaction speed is lacking, a step behind often
-Won’t factor much as a pass rusher
-Has had some work ethic issues over his career

Summary: Kyle Williams / BUF

Four year starter. Brother of Star Lotulelei, a Pro Bowl DT currently. Had a lot of hype surrounding him because of the bloodlines and fast start to his career, but Lotulelei never quite took that step towards being a dominant force. He flashes it here and there, but some work ethic issues and a limited athletic impact on the game might drive him down a tad. He would be a very solid backup NT early on in his career and if the light turns on, he has the goods to be a plus-starter.

NFL Comparison:

12 – Nathan Shepherd – Fort Hays State – 6’4/315

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Athletic frame that just screams upside
-Converts his plus speed to plus power with ease
-Has the range to make plays all over the field

Weak Points

-Enters the league very raw and a few steps behind when it comes to technique
-Gets tall out of his stance and loses track of foot positioning
-Making a major jump in competition

Summary:

I am taking a bit of a chance with this kid. He is a major boom or bust but I think as a 3-4 DE, he has sky high potential. Shepherd has gained over 100 pounds since high school and he looks like he was cut out of stone. His football skill set and instincts are coming along, but he will still need time before he can be trusted on the field. There is a nastiness to his game that I like and you won’t find many better athletic packages than him.

NFL Comparison: Henry Anderson / IND

13 – Harrison Phillips – Stanford – 6’3/307

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Hard to move, plants his feet into the ground
-Pro-caliber plus-power presence
-Plays the hand game exceptionally well

Weak Points:

-Stiff lower body, tight hips and ankles
-Lumbers in space, limited range and pass rush productivity
-Disciplined and assignment-savvy

Summary:

Fourth year senior with some minor injury concerns. Has been the rock in the middle for the Stanford defense over the past two years. Phillips is highly touted by some and by no means am I down on him, I just simply see a 2 down player that is a little lesser athletically than some of the other guys in that position. His lack foot speed and overall stiffness may make things tough for him when it comes to the speed of the NFL. I think Phillips will be a solid rotational player in the NFL that is dependable and consistent, but nothing more.

NFL Comparison: Ziggy Hood / WAS

14 – Dashawn Hand – Alabama – 6’4/297

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Disruptive playing style, has plus athletic ability at his size
-Violent swiped and punches with his hands
-Versatile skills and tools, can be moved around a lot

Weak Points:

-Inconsistent performer, very up and down
-Has had off field and effort issues surrounding him his entire career
-Loses control and sense of balance

Summary:

After being one of the top recruits in high school, Hand struggled to really make his consistent impact on the Alabama defense. He was always a part of the rotation but his snaps were limited. The program is always bringing in new top tier talent, so it may have held back some of his opportunities. But the maturity concerns are real with Hand. Even though the light started to turn on in 2017, there is risk here. He does fit into that 3-4 DE role very well, however.

NFL Comparison: Derek Wolfe / DEN

15 – Chad Thomas – Miami – 6’5/281

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-A violent bully that makes an power impact every play
-Consistently gets the blocker off balance via contact
-Instinctive, a good feel for run defense

Weak Points:

-Lacks elite burst off the edge as a pass rusher
-Looks stiff when reacting laterally
-Will play high and get his eyes lost in the backfield

Summary:

Played a 4-3 DE role for Miami but is one of the few prospects that can play out there in any front. His playing style is versatile, as he can alter his approach at the snap of a finger. Thomas plays with man power and will try to win the battle via power presence play after play. He certainly has the strength to do so and if he can add another 10-15 pounds, he could be exactly what NYG needs at DE. There is a quality pass rusher here as well, a true 3 down player. Limited upside but I am confident he will reach it.

NFL Comparison: Adrian Clayborn / NE

Kendrick Norton – Miami – 6’3/314 – GRADE: 74
Trent Thompson – Georgia – 6’3/288 – GRADE: 74
Justin Jones – NC State – 6’2/309 – GRADE: 74
Andrew Brown – Virginia – 6’3/296 – GRADE: 73
Breeland Speaks – Ole Miss – 6’3/283 – GRADE: 73
Poona Ford – Texas – 6’0/306 – GRADE: 73
Deadrin Senat – South Florida – 6’0/314 – GRADE: 71
Taylor Stallworth – South Carolina – 6’2/312 – GRADE: 70
Khalil McKenzie – Tennessee – 6’3/314 – GRADE: 70
John Franklin-Myers – Stephen F Austin – 6’4/283 – GRADE: 70

NYG APPROACH

Without truly knowing the scheme, it is almost a sure thing this new regime will bring in new talent along the DL. While it isn’t a pressing need, the depth is questionable and any time a new scheme is being put in, getting rookies in place is very important. They are primed for development and their bodies are still evolving into NFL-readiness. The 3-4 DE role isn’t too hard to find and I think there is a lot of depth at that spot in this class. I think one of the later picks will be used there and don’t overlook the importance of having a strong backup behind Harrison. While this isn’t a pressing need, Gettleman is big on infusing resources into the DL. One of these guys will be selected.

Apr 092018
 
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Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (March 2, 2018)

Quenton Nelson – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Guards and Centers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

1 – Quenton Nelson – Notre Dame – 6’5/325

Grade: 85

Strong Points:

-Overwhelming size, power, and force immediately upon contact
-Relishes the role of an enforcer/bully on the field
-Very high IQ player, reacts to blitzes and stunts with ease

Weak Points

-Gets top heavy, making himself susceptible to the double moves
-Too reliant on upper body drive
-Feet get stuck in pass protection, doesn’t keep them active after engagement

Summary:

Fourth year junior. Widely proclaimed as the best OL in this class and I do agree, but not by the margin some say he is. Nelson is a dominant force that can win any 1 on 1 matchup power-wise in the NFL right now. But I am not sold on him as a pass blocker just yet, as there are tendencies with his footwork and leverage that concern me. If he cleans those areas up, and he certainly has the ability to do so, he will be a top tier OG right away. But if he doesn’t, guys like these can be maddening to watch.

NFL Comparison: Kelechi Osemele / OAK

2 – Braden Smith – Auburn – 6’6/315

Grade: 85

Strong Points:

-Sustains his block through the whistle, almost always
-Plays low, strong, and quick, excellent knee bend and ability to adjust
-Easy puller that is as comfortable in space as he is in traffic

Weak Points:

-Needs to develop more lower body power, the bull rush has given him issues
-Initial punch doesn’t deliver a jolt to defenders
-Will need time to adjust to a much more complex scheme than his college days

Summary:

Three year starter. 2 Time All SEC 2nd Team and 1st Team in 2017. With the versatility Auburn requires of its OL, Smith has seen time at both guard spots in addition to RT. No matter where he is, he plays with consistent technique from head to toe and a relentless style that is found going through the whistle. Smith is a superb athlete, among the best in the class along the OL, and constantly plays wit his feet moving and knees bent. Rarely would you ever see him not win the leverage battle. Smith could use more lower body strength and drive but he will be an immediate upgrade for almost every year at OG and maybe even OT.

NFL Comparison: Kevin Zeitler / CLE

3 – Martinas Rankin – Mississippi State – 6’4/308

Grade: 82

Strong Points:

-A boulder against the bull rush, gives up nothing
-Accelerates after contact, gets in and stays in control
-Very smart, capable of making line calls

Weak Points:

-Tight ankles, struggles to pivot and re-direct
-Doesn’t recover well in space
-Can lumber out of his stance, needs more explosion and quick reacting

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Spent two years in junior college before redshirting at Mississippi State in 2015. Played left tackle for two years but almost made a full tie move to OC in spring 2017. Rankin likely projects inside at the next level, where I can see him being a week 1 starter. The power presence is elite, his work in tight areas is very good, and his intelligence is some of the best in the class. I’m not sure he is the best athlete to pull out of his stance and lead block, but that can be hidden in some schemes. He is a week 1 starter and a solid emergency LT in case of injuries.

NFL Comparison: Cody Whitehair / CHI

4 – Isaiah Wynn – Georgia – 6’2/313

Grade: 81

Strong Points:

-Some of the best and most consistent techniques of all the OL in this class
-Foot speed is a plus, always under him providing balance and easy agility
-Hands are accurate and heavy

Weak Points:

-Less than ideal frame, short arms and small hands
-Recovering from shoulder surgery
-Struggles to fluidly move laterally as a pulling blocker

Summary:

Fourth year senior that has seen a balanced amount of time at guard and tackle. 2nd Team All American tackle in 2017. Played most of his senior year with a shoulder labrum tear and had surgery in January. Many think he will be a full-go by training camp. Wynn doesn’t exactly look the part, but back in October I said this guy was going to be a first round caliber guard and I am sticking to it. His best performances came against his best competition, something I love to see. He just wins and wins and wins. There is a chance you see him slide because of his less than ideal measurements, but this guy will be at least a very solid pro, I am confident in that.

NFL Comparison: Shaq Mason / NE

5 – Billy Price – Ohio State – 6’4/305

Grade: 80

Strong Points:

-Dependable snap to snap, week to week, month to month
-Smart and savvy, like an extra coach on the field
-Good initial punch and can usually keep his hands locked inside

Weak Points

-Struggles when initially beat, lacks the catch up quickness
-Doesn’t get enough separation with his upper body
-Lateral movement will be a struggle against speed

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Went on to start every game of his career (50+) at both guard and center. Probably can play either in the NFL but I think his best spot is OC. After all those consecutive starts, Price went and tore his pec during the Bench Press at the combine. Not a very quick injury to come back from but he should be ready sometime in August. It can hamper his rookie year, as he may need time to build himself back up. Price is a little short on athletic talent, but he is so savvy and understanding of where he needs to be. There are holes that can be exposed, but you know he can at least anchor against any bull rush and you know he will be an extra coach on the field. I don’t see a star, but I see a guy that will bring the same, solid level of play week in, week out.

NFL Comparison: Ryan Jensen / TB

6 – James Daniels – Iowa – 6’3/306

Grade: 79

Strong Points

-Top tier athlete post-snap, can reach defenders that most simply cannot
-Easy and natural mover at the second level
-Does everything right, from technique to line calls

Weak Points:

-Struggles against the power bull rush from big tackles
-Attaches himself to defenders, but won’t get a lot of movement
-Doesn’t react to different twists and stunts fast enough

Summary:

Junior entry. Most of his experience as been at center, but he has seen some time at OG. Daniels is a superior athlete compared to the other centers in this class. He can reach defenders off the snap that most cannot, his initial burst is rare. He is only 20 years old and one has to assume he is going to gain the power presence he needs in the coming years. In some schemes, he is a week 1 starter. In others, he may need a year.

NFL Comparison: Jason Kelce / PHI

7 – Frank Ragnow – Arkansas – 6’5/312

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Man among boys for long stretches, and that is in the SEC
-Keeps his hands inside with his feet chopping, technique on point
-Very good straight line, planned movement athlete

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t always react to late quickness and speed fast enough
-Pad level gets a little high
-Balance gets shaky when he is in space

Summary:

Three year starter that has played OC and OG. Some teams are looking at him strictly as an OG. I like his mental and physical presence at center. He is an extra coach on the field and brings the professional and reliable approach weekly. Ragnow has been dominating the SEC for three years. While I do see some weaknesses in his game when it comes to foot speed and leverage, I think he is the kind of guy that adjusts well and is able to always figure it out. Starter early in his career with a limited upside.

NFL Comparison: Travis Frederick / DAL

8 – Skyler Phillips – Idaho State – 6’3/324

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Strong initial punch, stands the defender up and gains control
-Gets movement on contact and will work hard to get more
-Shows good lateral movement to mirror pass rushers

Weak Points:

-Adjustments when it comes to footwork are lacking
-Over commits on his initial punch and will get caught leaning
-Hand placement gets inaccurate in pass protection

Summary:

Four year starter with experience at tackle and guard. I didn’t get to see much of Phillips until after the season and I had a few moments where I thought he was going to end up with a 1st round grade on my sheet. He is a dominant level run blocker in traffic and in space, and the experience he has at tackle does carry over in to a high ceiling as a pass blocker. He may struggle with how quickly he needs to adjust in the NFL but if that is a smooth transition, he is a top caliber guard. He could be a nice value-get in round 3 if NYG doesn’t go OL in round 2.

NFL Comparison: Larry Warford / NO

9 – Cole Madison – Washington State – 6’5/313

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Mobile and athletic footwork, can stick with speed and quickness
-Excellent mirror in pass protection, stays under control and balanced
-Accurate hands with a heavy punch

Weak Points:

-Has a steep learning curve ahead of him coming from the WSU scheme
-Doesn’t use enough leg drive as a run blocker
-Uncomfortable blocker in space

Summary:

Four year starter, mostly at RT. Will likely shift inside because of size limitations but I think that is where his upside is found anyway. Madison didn’t get a lot of attention but he was an extremely productive blocker. While the scheme helped a bit, his performances were pretty much the same week in, week out, no matter the situation. At the very least he will be a solid 6th lineman that will start games in the NFL.

NFL Comparison – Jack Mewhort / IND

10 – Will Hernandez – UTEP – 6’2/327

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-A bull when he is moving downhill off the snap
-Excellent leverage and initial punch, almost always wins the contact battle
-Quick feet as a side shuffle pass blocker

Weak Points:

-Slow out of his stance as a lateral mover
-Struggles to maintain separation from defenders
-Gets top heavy, shows his numbers to the dirt, doesn’t keep his head up

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Hernandez will be ready for NFL right away when it comes to the power game. He won’t be pushed back by anyone and he will excel as a straight ahead run blocker. I get nervous with him elsewhere, however. If he is up against speed and quickness inside on passing downs, a growing trend, I can see him having a hard time. He doesn’t lock guys up and there are some adjustment issues. He can be a stud in the right scheme, but a major liability in the wrong scheme. He is not a one size fits all lineman.

NFL Comparison: Gabe Jackson / OAK

11 – Austin Corbett – Nevada – 6’4/306

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Fluid and easy footwork that just seem to come natural to him
-Excellent initial hand punch with it comes to pop and placement
-Versatility is a major plus, has the brains to play anywhere

Weak Points:

¬-Too easily altered by a quality pass rush
-Struggles to recover if initially beat, doesn’t trust his lower half enough
-Doesn’t keep his legs driving after contact

Summary:

Fifth year senior, four year starter. Overcame knee injuries from high school and has started every game since week 2 of 2014. Thee time team captain. Corbett is a top tier athlete among this group that simply lacks a power game. He is smart and aware enough to somewhat make up for it, but he is likely a 1-2 year project before being able to be relied on as a starter. I see a 6th lineman or solid interior starter at that point.

NFL Comparison: Clint Boling / CIN

12 – Dejon Allen – Hawaii – 6’2/295

Grade: 73

Strong Points:

-Excellent athlete with short area quickness and burst in space
-Works hard to keep his hands inside, can lock guys up
-Fast to locate his man in space and will quickly pounce

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t keep his lower half moving in pass protection, too top heavy
-Inconsistent technique and concentration
-Won’t get movement off the ball against bigger, more powerful DTs

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Four year starter with experience at both guard spots and left tackle. Allowed just 1 sack in 2 years at guard. Saw similar success at tackle, but when it comes to his skill set and size, he is going to play inside at the next level. Allen is a 2 year project with the upside of all but maybe 2 or 3 guys in this OG/OC class. His foot speed and work with his hands are top notch, rare for a college guard. If he can learn to use his legs more productively while adding weight, he can be a well balanced player in this league.

NFL Comparison: Connor McGovern / DEN

13 – Bradley Bozeman – Alabama – 6’5/296

Grade: 72

Strong Points:

-Hands and feet are very in sync with each other
-Has a level of natural strength to him, easy country power
-Gets his hips in the hole and will anchor against size and strength

Weak Points:

-Slow in space, struggles to reach linebackers laterally
-Doesn’t get enough push as a run blocker
-Looks unathletic when he is trying to recovery, gets sloppy

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Took over for Ryan Kelly as a fu time starter in 2016. He isn’t the same caliber prospect but coaches say he had a similar level impact. He plays the game like a pro, mentally and physically. Learning curve wont be very high for him. He is a limited ceiling athlete but that isn’t too important for an OC. He is always at the right place, right time. There is a lot of fight to him. Day 3 pick that could start on some teams right now.

NFL Comparison: Brandon Linder / JAC

14 – Mason Cole – Michigan – 6’4/305

Grade: 71

Strong Points:

-Very smart and alert, can make guys around him better
-Versatile tool set, has a lot of experience inside and out
-Easy bender, can lower his pad level and really dig in

Weak Points:

-Too easily altered by power and strength
-Ducks his head on contact, leaving him very susceptible
-Lacks stability and presence in the power game

Summary:

Has started every game of his career. Has played tackle and center. I was expecting to see big things out of him as a LT in 2017 because of his prior tape and athleticism. He could have come out last year and been a day 2 pick, but 2017 took a turn for the worst. He just lacked strength and presence every time I saw him, and that was against college kids. You can blame it on being out of position, as I think he is an OC-only, but the tape doesn’t lie. He is made for a zone blocking scheme where he isn’t matched up one on one with a Damon Harrison ever, but it’s not a fit for a lot of teams. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him succeed, but he isn’t worth a pick until round 5.

NFL Comparison: Travis Swanson / NYJ

15 – Wyatt Teller – Virginia Tech – 6’4/301

Grade: 71

Strong Points:

-Powerful tackle mover, can really pop a guy when he lines it up
-Keeps defenders away from his body
-Anchors against the bull rush well

Weak Points:

-Tight hips and ankles, doesn’t react well when he has to open up
-Slow mover when he pulls out and moves laterally
-Effort switch is off and on too often

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Came to Virginia Tech as a defensive lineman and it took him a year and a half to really get the hang of OL. Settled in to left guard and ended his career 1st Team All ACC in 2017. Another high upside player that is found down here. Just a very inconsistent player week to week. Flashes dominance at times but also some head scratchers. Have heard some negatives about his attitude too. He can handle NFL power today, but not the speed and quickness just yet.

NFL Comparison: TJ Lang / DET

16 – Kyle Bosch – West Virginia – 6’5/298 – GRADE: 71
17 – Brian Allen – Michigan State – 6’1/300 – GRADE: 71
18 – Rod Taylor – Ole Miss – 6’3/321 – GRADE: 71
19 – Will Clapp – LSU – 6’4/314 – GRADE: 71
20 – Colby Gossett – Appalachian State – 6’5/315 – GRADE: 71
21 – KJ Malone – LSU – 6’4/321 – GRADE: 70
22 – Sam Jones – Arizona State – 6’5/290 – GRADE: 69
23 – Scott Quessenberry – UCLA – 6’4/315 – GRADE: 68
24 – Toby Weathersby – LSU – 6’4/313 – GRADE: 68
25 – Taylor Hearn – Clemson – 6’4/330 – GRADE: 68

NYG APPROACH

With the signing of Nate Solder and the departure of Justin Pugh, the NYG approach to the offensive line can rightfully be pointed towards the interior. The current situation there can rightfully be considered a liability at this point, perhaps even worse than it was last year. If you want to settle on Brett Jones at OC, fine. But that means the OGs next to him need to be above average and I wouldn’t consider any option they currently have to be at that level. Round 2 is going to be a spot where one of the top 4-5 guys are available I think, and it is almost a must. I wouldn’t call it “shopping hungry”, as think the value will match up. If by some chance another prospect with a much higher grade is there, round 3 could still be an option to find a starting caliber OG/OC, but the odds significantly decrease. In terms of tackles, adding another body to the young group of question marks can be an option late because you can never have enough competition there, but the value needs to jump out considering the other holes this roster has.

Apr 052018
 
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Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (March 2, 2018)

Mike McGlinchey – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Offensive Tackles

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

1 – Mike McGlinchey – Notre Dame – 6’8/309

Grade: 81

Strong Points:

-Blue collar approach on and off the field, 24/7, a true professional
-Can get a lot of movement as a run blocker when everything is lined up
-NFL ready body and technique

Weak Points:

-Height becomes an issue at times, lack of leverage and consistent pad level
-Reaction speed is average at best
-Feet get stuck at times, putting too much attention on hands and arms

Summary:

Fifth year senior ad 4 year starter, 2 at RT and 2 at LT. All American in 2017. I think McGlinchey is better suited for the right side, he simply looked more comfortable there when it cam to footwork and angles, and that was over 2 years ago. He could be a rock solid presence on that side in the NFL week 1. There isn’t a lot of sexy to his game, but I think he is one of the safer picks in the draft. Very high floor because of his matured approach, attention to detail, and developed power.

NFL Comparison: Demar Dotson / TB

2 – Connor Williams – Texas – 6’5/296

Grade: 81

Strong Points:

-Very comfortable athlete in space and in a phone booth, balance always there
-Violent initial punch that consistently makes an impact
-Keeps his hands inside with plenty of knee bend

Weak Points:

-Knee injury limited him to only 5 games in 2017
-Doesn’t play fast up the edge, needs more depth on his kick slide
-Gets too grabby

Summary:

Junior entry. 3 year starter that missed a good chunk of 2017 with a knee injury that did not require surgery. Williams is projected at both guard and tackle in the NFL because he doesn’t have ideal length. The 2016 All American knows what he is doing though, inside or outside. He is really powerful and athletic, consistently making an impact on contact and has the ability to mirror. He was a little inconsistent from what I saw in 2017 technique wise, but everything is there. I feel safe with him if the knee checks out.

NFL Comparison: Jake Matthews / ATL

3 – Tyrell Crosby – Oregon – 6’5/309

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Elite power presence, can hold his ground against anyone
-A difference maker with his hands and reach
-Very smart and aware, understands stunts and blitzes

Weak Points:

-Feet get heavy and stuck in pass protection
-Reaction times are lacking
-Pad level is too high

Summary:

Four year starter with experience on both sides. Crosby has been the enforcer in the Pac 12 since the moment he stepped on the field, always at or near the top of the pancake leaderboard. He missed most of 2016 with a foot injury that required surgery and some say he hasn’t been the same since athletically. He played well in 2017, but wasn’t dominant. Crosby brings a professional approach and maturity to the table and I think he is a safe pick. Some project him inside because he is a dominant run blocker and average pass blocker. If that foot checks out, he is one of a few OTs I would consider in round 2.

NFL Comparison: La’el Collins / DAL

4 – Geron Christian – Louisville – 6’5/298

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Elite frame that will easily add bulk
-Light and balanced footwork, easy moving athlete
-Consistently puts himself in position post-snap with hands inside

Weak Points:

-Gets top heavy, loses track of knee bend and leverage
-Needs more lower body strength
-Struggles to reach the edge in his kick slide, needs technique work

Summary:

Junior entry. In a very weak OT class, Christian is the #3 guy but I only view him as a 3rd or 4th rounder. He is going to take some time to develop but I think there is as much upside here as any OT in the class. His frame and foot speed aren’t common and there is plenty of pop and violence in his game. He struggled against Bradley Chubb but I liked the way he competed. Sometimes an OL is at a disadvantage with a scrambling QB like Lamar Jackson and I think that was the case here.

NFL Comparison: Alex Lewis / BAL

5 – Orlando Brown – Oklahoma – 6’8/345

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Rare size/flexibility combination, can win with that combination alone at times
-Can send defenders flying when he properly squares them up
-Has ultra-productive pass rush numbers

Weak Points:

-Heavy footed, gets stuck in the mud too often and easily
-Loses balance, needs to keep feet wider
-Doesn’t bend at the knees, leans too much

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry with 3 years of starting experience and 2 time All American. Son of the late Zeus Brown, an 11 year veteran. Orlando Brown was projected by most as a 1st rounder throughout the fall, but I never saw it. The frame is impressive, and he knows how to use it. But he is a poor athlete that is overly reliant on that length and it won’t be good enough in the NFL. He has a lot of cleaning up to do.

NFL Comparison: David Sharpe / OAK

6 – Jamarco Jones – Ohio State – 6’4/299

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Has plenty of pop of the snap, he can be violent
-Has the foot speed and technique to be a good pass blocker
-Very good control and balance, very body-aware

Weak Points:

-Needs more power presence against the bull rush
-Inaccurate hands, gets wide which will force him to grab
-Inconsistent pad level and lower body usage

Summary:

Fifth year senior, 2 year starter. 2nd Team All Big 10 in 2016, 1st Team in 2017. Jones had me all in on him after his Penn State performance. He was dominant on all levels. However he might be one of the more inconsistent players in the class as a whole. Not sure why, exactly, but he had some awful tape towards the end of the year. Some say he has a conditioning/work ethic issue in-season. So that needs to be looked in to. Also, some teams say he is a guard-only. I have seen enough to grade him as an OT. Potential starter that can be had day 2/early day 3.

NFL Comparison: Chris Hubbard / CLE

7 – Kolton Miller – UCLA – 6’9/309

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Rare bend of size and athleticism that shows up on tape
-Plays an aggressive, violent game with his hands
-Can play a balanced game, wide feet and easy knee bend

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t always play under control, loses awareness of where he is
-Too reliant on the initial punch, all or nothing
-Doesn’t adjust well to quickness and low-leverage players

Summary:

Fourth year junior. Has dealt with a couple of lower body injuries, but put together a healthy 2017. Miller is going to get drafted higher than he should based on the weak OT class and his upside. Miller is an impressive physical package that has stretches of tape where you can see a case for him being a 1st rounder. He needs to develop his core strength because defenders will attack his leverage issues every week and if he cant anchor himself in to the ground, the QB will be in major trouble. He is a 2 year project before I would put him out there, but I won’t deny the upside.

NFL Comparison – Nate Solder / NYG

8 – Joseph Noteboom – TCU – 6’5/309

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Excellent height and length with some of the best knee bend in the class
-Consistent and repeated technique off the snap
-Mirrors against speed and quickness with ease, always under control

Weak Points:

-Needs a lot of strength work, upper and lower body
-Doesn’t play with enough edge, plays soft at times
-Lacks power as a run blocker, gets almost no movement off ball

Summary:

Fifth year senior, three year starter. Noteboom is another one of these OTs that has as much bad tape as good tape. His good tape looks like a kid that has elite body control, plus foot speed, and really natural knee bend. The bad tape looks like a high school senior matched against college players, as he just looks out of place when it comes to power presence. He is pretty polarizing. If his strength increases and he plays with more attitude, he has starter potential. But it’s going to take time.

NFL Comparison: DJ Humphries / ARI

9 – Brian O’Neill – Pittsburgh – 6’7/297

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Elite athleticism grades, on his own level in this class
-Carries a lot of power and presence on the move, excellent lead blocker
-Smart and aware, can forecast complex defensive schemes

Weak Points:

-Weak presence against the bull rush, has a hard time holding ground
-Plays with a high pad level
-Has a hard time sustaining blocks

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. Stepped on to the Pittsburgh campus as a 235 pound tight end. After redshirting, he was forced in to the lineup because of injuries and ended up performing well despite being undersized and lacking experience. The former high school basketball star played RT for 2 years and LT for 1. 1st Team All ACC in 2017. O’Neill will excite some because of how well he can move, but he was manhandled against his bigger, more physical opponents in college and at the Senior Bowl. He is a 1-2 year project at least, but one that offers left tackle upside.

NFL Comparison: Joe Staley / SF

10 – Chukwuma Okorafor – Western Michigan – 6’6/320

Grade: 72

Strong Points:

-Heavy hands, more than enough girth throughout his whole body promote power
-Anchors against the bull rush with ease, hard guy to move
-Gets a lot of movement in the run game

Weak Points:

-Balance and coordination aren’t always there
-Slow out of his stance
-Struggles to see the stunts and blitzes, lacks awareness

Summary:

-Four year starter, 1st Team All MWC 2 years in a row. Has experience at RT and LT. I think he projects to the right side in the NFL. Okorafor was one of my favorite OT prospects coming in to the year, he caught my eye last year a few times and I assumed he would take a step up in progression. It didn’t happen. He actually looked worse in 2017 and he just ever quite got back to the level I was hoping for. He really lumbers out of his stance and appears to be a step behind mentally. There is rawness to his game, as he started playing the game in 2011. The upside door is still cracked open, but I would have to wait until day 3 for him.

NFL Comparison: Jermon Bushrod / NO

11 – Brandon Parker – North Carolina A& T – 6’8/305

Grade: 72

Strong Points:

-Elite level frame that will easily hold another 15+ pounds
-Excellent out of his stance, accurate and quick, repeated technique
-Violent initial contact

Weak Points:

-Plays way too high
-Needs to adjust and react to the defense with more balance and quickness
-Base isn’t wide enough or strong enough

Summary:

Three time Offensive Lineman of the Year in the MEAC. Really impressive kid with the size and foot speed that will make you think starting tackle. Parker has more skills than you think, too. He displayed really good technique and violence at the Senior Bowl, but simply struggles with leverage because of his height and a lack of confidence in his lower body strength. He needs time, but the upside is there.

NFL Comparison: Bobby Massie / CHI

12 – Will Richardson – North Carolina State – 6’6/306

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Developed, NFL-ready frame and power presence
-Very consistent out of his stance in pass protection, very good balance
-Attacks defenders with his hands and will follow through with his legs

Weak Points:

-Loses track of his footwork when engaged, gets stagnant
-Off field issues have followed him his entire career
-Hand placement gets wide

Summary:

Fourth year junior. Has missed time all three of his playing-seasons due to injuries or suspensions. Has a few separate off-field problems dealing with alcohol and drugs. On the field, Richardson has the look of a pro. He is big and wide with strength and functional quickness. His power in a phone booth makes it easy for him to get movement and also hold ground against the bull rush. He struggles the further out in space he gets though and he may be better suited for OG. If his off field issues can be cleaned up, there is starter potential here.

NFL Comparison: Ricky Wagner / DET

13 – Timon Parris – Stony Brook – 6’6/320

Grade: 71

Strong Points:

-Ideal frame, will have an easy time getting his body to NFL caliber
-Excellent foot speed out of his stance in to his kick slide, easy
-Plays hard and violent, makes an impact initially

Weak Points:

-Plays high, needs more knee bend
-Inaccurate hands
-Balance and control aren’t always there, gets top heavy

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Four year starter that has experience on both sides. Will be the first Stony Brook player drafted in program history. Parris has the frame and movement skills that can get you excited. There is some snap to his game, short area power, which also promotes some upside. He has a ways to go technique wise and he is coming off a leg injury that is still giving him issues. Day 3 guy that might be closer to action than some of the guys ahead of him.

NFL Comparison: TJ Clemmings / WAS

14 – Alex Cappa – Humboldt State – 6’6/305

Grade: 69

Strong Points:

-Strong player head to toe, knows how to fully engage on contact
-Plays hard through the whistle always
-Good hand placement

Weak Points:

-Slow out of his stance, lumbers and looks difficult
-Major jump in competition
-Late to react to quick change of direction

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Still Offensive Lineman of the Year and 1st Team All Conference every one of his 4 years at Division II Humboldt State. All of that despite being relatively new to the offensive line. Cappa may get moved inside at the next level, as he just didn’t look good in pass protection at the Senior Bowl but he can handle the power game. His snap and quick twitch strength are solid. I see him as a potential 6th or 7th OL in the future.

NFL Comparison: Marshall Newhouse / OAK

15 – Zachary Crabtree – Oklahoma State – 6’6/317

Grade: 67

Strong Points:

-NFL caliber body right now
-Gets a lot of movement on down blocks, carries force when moving downhill
-Heavy hands and a strong base

Weak Points:

-Lumbers up the edge as a pass rusher
-Played in a very simple offense, will have a lot to learn
-Plays too high, needs more knee bend

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Four year starter that has predominantly played on the right side. Has progressively added mass to his frame every year and carries a good amount of force on contact. He probably won’t ever have enough speed and quickness to protect the edge, but his ability backup-caliber.

NFL Comparison: Chaz Green / DAL

16 – Desmond Harrison – 6’6/288 – West Georgia – GRADE: 66
17 – Greg Senat – Wagner – 6’6/305 – GRADE: 66
18 – Matt Pryor – TCU – 6’7/337 – GRADE: 66
19 – Brett Toth – Army – 6’6/305 – GRADE: 66
20 – Elijah Nkansah – Toledo – 6’6/316 – GRADE: 66
21 – Christian Dilauro – Illinois – 6’5/300 – GRADE: 65
22 – Jamar McGloster – Syracuse – 6’6/330 – GRADE: 63
23 – Ike Boettger – Iowa – 6’6/307 – GRADE: 63
24 – Brett Kendrick – Tennessee – 6’6/305 – GRADE: 63
25 – Elijah Nkansah – Toledo – 6’6/316 – GRADE: 63

NYG APPROACH

For the second straight year, the OT class is pretty weak at the top. This is partially why I was saying it was essential they brought in Solder via FA no matter the price, and that they did. With Flowers moving over to the right side to compete against Wheeler and Bisnowaty for the starting job, there is a sense of competition over there that makes you think someone is going to rise up and provide quality play. RT has been a gaping hole for 2+ years now. With that said, there is a solid group of 3rd/4th round options in this class that can be thrown in to the mix. This class has some interesting upside in that part of the draft. Using a mid-round pick on OT would be wise, as there is no long term security on this roster as of now. Adding another young and able body to compete simply increases the odds that someone will rise up.

Apr 042018
 
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Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State Jackrabbits (March 2, 2018)

Dallas Goedert – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Tight Ends

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

1 – Dallas Goedert – South Dakota State – 6’5/256

Grade: 83

Strong Points:

-Was on a different level physically than his college opponents, dominant
-Tough, physical, and aggressive both as a blocker and receiver
-Excels at reaching balls away from his body

Weak Points

-Didn’t impact the game as a blocker the way he should have in FCS
-Doesn’t make sharp cuts as a route runner
-Pays stiff after the catch, needs more looseness in his lower half

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Three time 1st team all conference, two time All American. Goedert dominated a lower level of college football and that is the start of what you need to see from a FCS prospect. Beyond that, he has more tan enough tape proving top tier ball skills paired with a physical style. He can do things as a pass catcher that are going to “wow” people. He is a weapon in the passing game week 1 with the eventual upside of being one of the leagues top 2-way threats at TE.

NFL Comparison: Zach Ertz / PHI

2 – Hayden Hurst – South Carolina – 6’4/250

Grade: 80

Strong Points:

-Sudden burst and quickness, explosive route runner
-Makes the tough catch over the middle routinely, reliable hands
-Competes as a blocker, shows a lot of desire and hustle

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t use his body well enough to shield defenders away from the ball
-Needs more core strength as a blocker
-Forecasts his routes

Summary:

Junior entry. Will be 25 years old as a rookie. Spent 3 years in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system after being drafted as a senior in high school. Walked on at South Carolina in 2015. Hurst is more raw than the common prospect and with how well he played in 2017, that is a good thing. There is a lot of untapped upside to his game. Hurst dropped 1 pass over his career. He plays the quickness game really well. There are just some technique and mental aspects that need refinement, but with his hustle and maturity, he will get there.

NFL Comparison: Hunter Henry / LAC

3 – Mike Gesicki – Penn State – 6’5/247

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Top tier straight line athlete when it comes to speed and leaping
-Excellent ball location and timing of his lunges for it, dangerous in 1 on 1’s
-Toughness after the catch is there, will carry defenders

Weak Points:

-Comes across tight hipped with unplanned movement
-Weak lower body that shows up as a blocker, doesn’t get movement
-Has his fair share of concentration drops over the middle

Summary:

A top tier athlete and overall physical package. Gesicki was an All American basketball player and a record setting volleyball player in high school. The skills from those sports do translate to the gridiron, too. The ability to jump, burst, and run downfield make him a dangerous weapon week 1. He will have a ways to go before he can handle NFL defensive linemen in the trenches, but that is not necessarily a big deal if he is put in the right situation. I don’t see a dominant player here, but definitely a matchup problem in certain situations.

NFL Comparison: Jared Cook / OAK

4 – Dalton Schultz – Stanford – 6’5/244

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-An NFL ready blocker week 1, and may be one of the best right away
-Smooth and easy pass catching motion, sees the ball in with hand strength
-Can adjust his body on the fly with ease

Weak Points:

-Limited athleticism both in straight lines and when it comes to change of direction
-Production was very inconsistent
-Route running appears too manufactured, too much wasted movement

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. One of the more overlooked prospects in this class simply because he didn’t get a lot of looks as a receiver in that Stanford offense. He immediately comes in to the league as one of the best blocking TEs around and I think he can make plays in the passing game. He is very well balanced athlete, reliable hands, does things right. This is the kind of TE that would be perfect to pair with Engram for the long term.

NFL Comparison: Kyle Rudolph / MIN

5 – Ian Thomas – Indiana – 6’4/259

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Looks the part all around, passes the eyeball test as an athlete with flying colors
-Smooth mover in space, eats up yards fast
-A lot of presence after the catch, can break tackles and run away from guys

Weak Points:

-Lack of production until 2017 is something to consider
-Gets overwhelmed by assignment football as a route runner and blocker
-Doesn’t get enough movement as a blocker, doesn’t block like he wants it

Summary:

Spent two years in junior college prior to joining Indiana for 2 years. Basically a 1 year starter. Thomas is interesting. Of all the tight ends…if they were all to hit their peak potential, he would be the best in the class. He has the NFL body right now and he can move very well. His ability to accelerate effortlessly and change direction on a dime, if that can be turned in to quality route running he is going to be dangerous. He doesn’t play smart and he doesn’t always bring it as a blocker, so there are just times where you don’t know if he will every reach that ceiling. He is a gamble, but one with a big reward if it clicks.

NFL Comparison: Charles Clay / BUF

6 – Mark Andrews – Oklahoma – 6’5/256

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Carries a lot of weight and power but can play a nimble, soft footed game
-Hard nosed after the catch, will carry defenders for yards
-Effective blocker in space, dominates back 7 defenders with strength and quickness

Weak Points:

-Minimal impact in the trenches, almost looks like he is afraid/hesitant
-Too many drops, ball skills are inconsistent
-Doesn’t have the extra gear as a route runner, limited athlete in space

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. Has Type 1 Diabetes. Winner of the John Mackey Award, nations top tight end. Andrews has the production and highlight reels that can get you excited, but I think be benefitted from the OU scheme as much as anyone. He was often split out wide and faced a lot of single man coverage. Andrews does deserve credit for his ability to play the body position game and gain yards after the catch, but he won’t be a guy that gets open often and his toughness as an inline blocker was poor. Solid backup that can be a factor in the short passing game.

NFL Comparison: Cameron Bate / TB

7 – Christopher Herndon – 6’4/253

Grade: 71

Strong Points:

-Solid frame with room for more bulk
-Long strider that is comfortable running routes, vertical and east/west
-Gets to a lot of passes away from his body

Weak Points:

-Plays raw, makes lot of the same mistakes as a blocker
-Can’t hold his ground against defensive linemen
-Coming off an MCL injury that required surgery

Summary:

While scouting David Njoku a year ago, every now and then I found myself watching the wrong guy because he was moving just as well and making catches that were just as impressive. It was Herndon. He is a high upside prospect that has a ways to go when it comes to every down duty. Herndon has more than his fair share of plays that make you wanna look more in to him.

NFL Comparison: Tyler Kroft / CIN

8 – Cam Serigne – Wake Forest – 6’2/240

Grade: 70

Strong Points:

-Excels at creating separation underneath and up the seam
-Tracks the ball well with full balance and control
-Tough in traffic, comes out of a crowd with the ball

Weak Points:

-Struggles to hold point of attack against bigger defenders
-Long speed isn’t there, he won’t run away from anyone
-Lacks ideal size for the position

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Hard not to root for a guy like this, Serigne is as hard nosed as it gets. He is undersized but it doesn’t show up on tape often He ma be a guy that needs to play an H-Back type role, but it is one I think he can make a difference at. He will find a ay to stick somewhere.

NFL Comparison: Nick O’Leary / BUF

9 – Troy Fumagalli – Wisconsin – 6’5/247

Grade: 69

Strong Points:

-Detailed, professional approach to the game as a receiver and blocker
-Crafty route runner, can force himself open
-Productive near the end zone, quality ball skills

Weak Points:

-Too many drops, inconsistent hands
-Lacks presence as a blocker and with the ball in his hands
-Seems stiff and manufactured when forced to adjust his movement plans

Summary:

Fifth year senior. A solid statistic compiler that improved every year. Attractive frame tat coaches will want to work with. Fumagalli comes in to the league with a matured approach. He wont have a major learning curve like some guys, but he is a limited athlete that struggled with drops and blocking, nothing really stands out.

NFL Comparison: Gavin Escobar / CLE

10 – Durham Smythe – Notre Dame – 6’5/253

Grade: 68

Strong Points:

-Light footed, shows up as an intermediate route runner
-Can get plenty of movement on defensive linemen as a blocker
-Will make the tough catch in traffic, shows body control

Weak Points

-Lacks straight line speed and explosion
-Lacks urgency as a route runner, too slow out of his breaks
-Wasn’t used much as a blocker

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Has had some durability issues from knee and shoulder injuries. Smythe wasn’t really involved in the offense until 2017, so there is a lot of projecting with him. Smythe moves and plays like pro but lacks the ideal athletic ability. Solid depth player that can contribute early.

NFL Comparison: Luke Stocker / TEN

11 – Jordan Akins – Central Florida – 6’3/249 – GRADE: 68
12 – Tyler Conklin – Central Michigan – 6’3/254 – GRADE: 68
13 – Ethan Wolf – Tennessee – 6’6/258 – GRADE: 68
14 – Damon Gibson – Minnesota-Moorhead – GRADE: 6’4/236
15 – Marcus Baugh – Ohio State – 6’5/250 – GRADE: 67
16 – Ryan Izzo – Florida State – 6’5/250 – GRADE: 66
17 – Will Dissly – Washington – 6’4/267 – GRADE: 66
18 – Andrew Vollert – Weber State – 6’5/245 – GRADE: 66
19 – Adam Breneman – Massachusetts – 6’5/255 – GRADE: 65
20 – Shane Wiman – Northern Illinois – 6’4/250 – GRADE: 65

Apr 032018
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (December 24, 2017)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

According to Spotrac.com, the New York Giants currently have approximately $6,237,530 in salary cap space, not counting the estimated $9,794,270 the Giants will need to sign their 2018 draft class. Only the top 51 player salaries for a team count against the salary cap in the offseason.

(Note: NFL Player Association records say the Giants have $5,045,156 in salary cap room).

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

  • 2018 NFL Salary Cap: $177,200,000
  • 2017 Rollover Cap: $365,321
  • Adjustment: $0
  • New York Giants Adjusted Salary Cap: $177,565,321
  • All Contracts: $163,492,651
  • Top 51 Contracts: $151,297,651
  • 2018 Projected Draft Pool Cap: $9,794,270
  • Dead Money: $20,030,140
  • Total (All): $183,522,791
  • Total (Top 51 Contracts): $171,327,791
  • Cap Space (All):  $-5,957,470
  • Cap Space (Top 51 plus Draft Pool): $-3,556,740
  • Cap Space (Top 51 Contracts): $6,237,530

The top five sources of the dead money are:

  • Defensive End Jason Pierre-Paul ($15,000,000)
  • Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie ($2,000,000)
  • Wide Receiver Dwayne Harris ($1,600,000)
  • Punter Brad Wing ($1,000,000)
  • Defensive End Owamagbe Odighizuwa ($185,125)

The top-10 players currently counting the most against the team’s 2018 salary cap are:

  1. Quarterback Eli Manning ($22,200,000)
  2. Defensive End Olivier Vernon ($17,000,000)
  3. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins ($13,000,000)
  4. Left Tackle Nate Solder ($10,000,000)
  5. Defensive Tackle Damon Harrison ($9,600,000)
  6. Wide Receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. ($8,459,000)
  7. Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall ($6,156,250)
  8. Linebacker Alec Ogletree ($4,750,000)
  9. Right Tackle Ereck Flowers ($4,579,184)
  10. Cornerback Eli Apple ($4,132,451)

NFL Player Association listing of the teams with the most salary cap room:

  1. Cleveland Browns: $68,906,632
  2. Indianapolis Colts: $59,741,614
  3. San Francisco 49ers: $46,761,316
  4. Tennessee Titans: $41,761,817
  5. Houston Texans: $34,129,833
  6. Chicago Bears: $25,545,509
  7. New York Jets: $24,550,004
  8. Arizona Cardinals: $19,217,206
  9. Jacksonville Jaguars: $18,482,091
  10. Los Angeles Rams: $18,226,117
Apr 032018
 
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Michael Gallup, Colorado State Rams (August 26, 2017)

Michael Gallup – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Wide Receivers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

1 – Michael Gallup – Colorado State – 6’1/205

Grade: 82

Strong Points:

-Smooth and easy approach but plays fast and aggressive
-A weapon after the catch that fights through tackles and displays good vision
-Adjusts to the ball with full balance, control, concentration

Weak Points:

-Effort and energy output can be inconsistent
-Doesn’t track the deep ball well
-Ran a limited route tree and will have an uphill climb mentally

Summary:

Spent two years at Colorado State after a two year stint in junior college. Was originally committed to Georgia out of high school but didn’t have the grades. Gallup isn’t a household name but his game translates to the next level very well. He is physical, explosive, and an excellent hands-catcher. If he can learn the offensive system he is drafted in to, he can be a stud. Everything else is there.

NFL Comparison: DeAndre Hopkins / HOU

2 – Courtland Sutton – SMU – 6’3/218

Grade: 81

Strong Points:

-Overly physical and a borderline bully that wants to beat up defensive backs
-Pure hands catcher, swallows the ball on contact
-Effective and experienced with yards after the catch, can create on his own

Weak Points:

-Struggles to separate down field because of a lack of long speed
-Route running needs a lot of work
-Relied on being more talented rather than doing things right

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. Enters the league with a massive amount of production, mainly a result of the scheme he played in. Caught a lot of uncontested passes, ran a lot of easy routes. Sutton is a gamble because of how much progression and learning he will need to under go, but the upside is enormous. He already has the ability to come down with the ball in traffic and he has shown the ability to burst, change direction, and jump. He may need more time than the common first round WR, but his potential is elite.

NFL Comparison: Dez Bryant / DAL

3 – Calvin Ridley – Alabama – 6’0/189

Grade: 80

Strong Points

-Lightening quick off the line, in and out of hs breaks, immediate separation
-Attacks the ball with his hands, very goo mechanically
-Competitive, fiery player that will play with an edge

Weak Points:

-Weak presence against the press, can be tossed around
-Too may drops over his entire career, ongoing issue
-Doesn’t win enough of the 1 on 1 battles downfield

Summary:

¬Junior entry. It has been a rough ride for Ridley. He came in with really high expectations and everyone labeled him the next Amari Cooper, but he never quite reached that level. Part of why that was the case was the Alabama offense and inconsistent passing game. I was looking to give this kid a top 10 overall grade but too many things kept popping up. A lack of presence and inconsistent hands stood out to me. Still a 1st round talent that is NFL ready right now, but I don’t see a star.

NFL Comparison: Malcolm Mitchell / NE

4 – Equanimeous St. Brown – Notre Dame – 6’5/214

Grade: 80

Strong Points:

-Long but easy moving limbs, very fluid
-High points the ball, times his leaps and lunges for the ball
-Has the long stride speed to be a factor in the open field

Weak Points:

-Struggles to get off the strong jam at the point of attack, not very physical
-Needs more core strength, his lack of it shows up on tape
-Needs more urgency as a route runner

Summary:

Junior entry. Had a strong 2016 season with Kizer throwing the ball and everyone as excited about him heading in to 2017, but the horrid QB play took away a third of his production. St. Brown is an upside based pick, as he just doesn’t look ready to handle the physical side of the NFL yet. But Gettleman loves big WRs that display ball skills and smoothness to their moving, and those are stand out traits with St. Brown.

NFL Comparison: Tyrell Williams / LAC

5 – DJ Moore – Maryland – 6’0/210

Grade: 80

Strong Points:

-Tough, hard nosed, fiery player that wants it
-Has a running back type mentality and ability after the catch
-Can shoot out of a cannon, excellent burst straight line and laterally

Weak Points:

-Lack of height and length limit him in traffic, especially downfield
-Ran a limited route tree
-Separation as a route runner isn’t near what it should be

Summary:

Junior entry. 2017 Big 10 Offensive Player of the Year. Moore turned in to one of my favorite players to watch towards the end of the year. He wasn’t really on my radar, then I saw 3 straight games and just loved how how competed. He has some of the Steve Smith (CAR/BAL) fire in him. He checked a lot of boxes, then I got some really good information on his intangibles and attitude, and then he crushed the combine. Put him with a real QB and I think you are talking about a big time difference maker over time.

NFL Comparison: Sammy Watkins / KC

6 – Anthony Miller – Memphis – 5’11/201

Grade: 80

Strong Points:

-Feisty, tough, and hard nosed with and without the ball, he will compete
-Explosive in short areas, can burst from a standstill both as a runner and jumper
-Hard to hang with as a route runner, consistently separates

Weak Points:

-Lack of size shows up on tape
-Too many drops on easy, catchable balls
-Saw a lot of production come on uncontested catches

Summary:

Fifth year senior. It took me 2-3 games to really convince myself that Miller was more than a gimmicky pass catcher. Once I did come around, I was sold hard. Miller looks small but can play big in certain situations. His movement and toughness stand out, as he is a guy that will succeed in the slot early but could make plays on the outside as well once he learns the NFL game. You may need to be patient with him, but I also don’t bet against talent that plays with passion.

NFL Comparison: Antonio Brown / PIT

7 – Daesean Hamilton – Penn State – 6’1/203

Grade: 80

Strong Points:

-Excellent route runner with explosive, quick feet and powerful re-direction
-Aggressive and brave in traffic
-Hard worker on and off the field that understands the game and his role

Weak Points:

-Too many concentration drops on easy throws
-Lacks the final gear to outrun corners on deep routes
-Isn’t a natural-vision ball carrier after the catch, will leave some yards on the table

Summary:

Fifth year senior that left Penn State as one of the most accomplished receivers in the program’s history. Hamilton is made for the slot initially, but can be a playmaker on the outside as well. His ball skills are very good, but just a bit inconsistent. Hamilton is a first class, mature beyond his years individual that you know will come in and work his butt off. The talent is there, as he will be a kid tat can get open right away and he is tough over the middle. In the right situation, he is the kind of WR that caches 80+ passes in year one.

NFL Comparison: Randall Cobb / GB

8 – Trey Quinn – SMU – 5’11/203

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Pro caliber route runner and hands catcher right now
-Light feet and easy change of direction, can explode in small areas
-Crafty and smart, understands how to create space and take advantage of it

Weak Points:

-Might be an underneath threat-only, doesn’t get behind corners downfield
-Lacks range as a pass catcher, not a big one on one guy
-Ran a limited route tree, will have a lot to learn

Summary:

Fourth year junior. Began his career at LSU after setting the national high school record for catches in high school. Had a hard time breaking in to the regular rotation and transferred to SMU, sitting out 2016. In his one year there, he led the nation in catches despite sharing the field with fellow prospect Courtland Sutton Quinn has top-tier slot receiver written all over him. He is one of the more reliable hands catchers, changes direction on a dime, and simply plays smarter than others. He won’t be stat anywhere, but he can be a big difference maker.

9 – Dylan Cantrell – Texas Tech – 6’3/226

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Physical pass catcher that wins the majority of his one on one battles
-Top tier athlete, both straight line and short area agility
-Tough matchup in space with the ball in his hands, breaks tackles with ease

Weak Points:

-Coming from a WR-friendly offense, needs time to adjust
-Needs to get out of his breaks better
-Doesn’t have a natural sense of vision and escapability

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Missed 2015 with a back injury but played all but 2 games over 2016 and 2017. Cantrell was on my radar heading in to 2017 as a potential day 3 pick, but he quickly grew on me with his straight line burst at 220+ pounds and physical style. Cantrell toys around with defensive backs like he is a 250 pound tight end. He always wins the physical battle and his athleticism leads me to believe there is a lot of untapped potential as a route runner.

NFL Comparison: Demaryius Thomas – DEN

10 – Christian Kirk – Texas A& M – 5’10/201

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Elite straight line burst with the ball
-Good concentration in traffic, plays bigger than he is
-Route running has come a long way, he is very detailed and advanced

Weak Points:

-Too much of a straight line athlete that struggles to adjust on the fly
-Limited range as a pass catcher
-May be a slot-only receiver

Summary:

Junior entry. Burst on to the scene in 2015 as a record setting freshman, looked like the next big thing. After catching 80 passes for 1,009 yards and 8 TDs in addition to 3 punt return TDs, Kirk was labeled a 1st rounder too early. He did have to deal with inconsistent QB play, but he never developed some of the top tier physical traits you want out of a slot WR. Those guys need to have more short area quickness and ability change direction, while think Kirk is more of a straight-line guy. He is a solid day 2 guy that can add value as a returner, but I don’t see enough to put a 1st round grade on him at WR.

NFL Comparison: Kenny Stills / MIA

11 – James Washington – Oklahoma State – 5’11/213

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Powerfully built with long arms and big hands, and he plays like it too
-Tracks the deep ball exceptionally well, with balance and accuracy
-Can play at different speeds, good at playing the mental game with DBs

Weak Points:

-Ran a very limited route tree in college
-Doesn’t have the true runaway speed as a deep threat
-Doesn’t explode out of his breaks, separation isn’t always there

Summary:

Ultra-productive 4 year career that made a living on catching the deep ball. Has been the top downfield receiver over the past 2 seasons. Washington benefited from the scheme and conference he played n when considering his production, but there is still plenty of quality tape here. He may even be a guy that is better made for the NFL because of how strong he can play in traffic. Washington isn’t a blazer, but his ball tracking and power presence make him a threat in one on one situations. Interesting prospect here.

NFL Comparison: Mohamed Sanu / ATL

12 – Braxton Berrios – Miami – 5’9/184

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Dangerous from the slot with his easy, top notch agility and route running
-Adjust to the poorly thrown ball, always has full control of his body
-Feisty competitor that will find ways to create on his own

Weak Points:

-He is at the bottom tier of size in the NFL
-Doesn’t have the deep speed to put a corner on his heels
-Hips don’t fluidly change direction

Summary:

The kind of guy you want playing the slot is smart, quick, reliable, consistent, and tough. Berrios checks all those boxes with flying colors. He will be a limited contributor in the passing game, but a valuable one. He can also bring value as a punt returner.

NFL Comparison: Trent Taylor / SF

13 – Simmie Cobbs – Indiana – 6’3/220

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Physical, plays the role of a bully when the ball is in the air
-Excels with the back shoulder throws, able to control his body while adjusting
-Able to win in traffic often

Weak Points:

-Lacks both the short area burst and long speed to create separation
-Isn’t very explosive way to get in and of breaks laterally
-Lacks the quickness and looseness in his hips after the catch

Summary:

Has been the downfield threat in the IU offense for 3 years in a row. There are holes in his athleticism but he doesn’t have to be open to make the impact. Cobbs makes a lot of catches with defenders draped all over him, he wins more than his fair share of 50/50 balls. He is an interesting outside WR in a class that doesn’t have a lot of them.

NFL Comparison: Mike Evans / TB

14 – Javon Wims – Georgia – 6’3/215

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-No hesitation in playing the physical game
-Boxes out defenders from the ball, knows how to use his body
-Tracks the ball well, good balance and accuracy

Weak Points:

-Drops too many of the easy passes
-Lacks the over the top speed, may be limited on the route tree
-Seemed to struggle making reads against zone coverage

Summary:

Junior college transfer that really broke out in 2017, leading the Bulldogs in catches, yards, and TDs. The former basketball player is a solid possession receiver prospect that is very body and space aware, something you need to see for someone that lacks deep speed. Backup early on in his career that still comes across raw and therefore a higher ceiling than most.

NFL Comparison: Allen Robinson / CHI

15 – DJ Chark – LSU – 6’3/199

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Top tier long speed, immediate deep threat
-Good vision with the ball in his hands
-Has a smoothness to his game that makes things look easy

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t play physical enough, gets tossed around
-Struggles to locate, track, and attack the ball with balance
-Sloppy route runner

Summary:

Suffered through some poor QB play at LSU in an offense that always favored the running game. Chark had his moments of brilliance and then went to the combine and tore it up. There is a lot of excitement surrounding him but I went back and watched all the LSU tape I had and I just don’t see the ball skills. It is hard to be a deep threat without ball skills…maybe he can be like Ted Ginn and evolve as his career goes, but there is too low of a floor here for me to consider him early day 2.

NFL Comparison: Torrey Smith / SF

16 = Antonio Callaway – Florida – 5’11/200 – GRADE: 75
17 – Deon Cain – Clemson – 6’2/202 – GRADE: 75
18 – Dante Pettis – Washington – 6’0/186 – GRADE: 75
19 – Auden Tate – Florida State – 6’5/228 – GRADE: 75
20 – Korey Robertson – Southern Miss – 6’1/212 – GRADE: 73
21 – Justin Watson – Pennsylvania – 6’3/225 – GRADE: 73
22 – Cam Phillips – Virginia Tech – 6’0/195 – GRADE: 73
23 – J’Mon Moore – Missouri – 6’3/207 – GRADE: 73
24 – Jordan Lasley – UCLA – 6’1/203 – GRADE: 72
25 – Byron Pringle – Kansas State – 6’1/205 – GRADE: 71

Apr 022018
 
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Saquon Barkley, Penn State Nittany Lions (December 30, 2017)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Running Backs

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

“NFL Comparisons” are more about playing style, not career projections.

1 – Saquon Barkley – Penn State – 6’0/233

Grade: 94

Strong Points:

-Top tier movement when it comes to agility, explosion, speed
-Able to see diagnose and adjust on the fly, balance and control are at a rare level
-A big time factor as a pass catcher

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t take what the defense gives, too often looking for the home run
-Too much dancing as he approaches the inside running lanes
-Doesn’t impact pass rushers the way he can

Summary:

Junior entry. The top player in this draft, something I have been saying since early October. Barkley is a generational talent that does almost everything at the top level. He is built to carry a load when he has to and has the versatility to impact the game in several ways. He can be a focal point of an offense much like what Elliot and Gurley have provided for DAL and LAR, respectively.

NFL Comparison: Marshall Faulk / RET

2 – Sony Michel – Georgia – 5’11/214

Grade: 81

Strong Points:

-Violent, competitive, and fearless runner that can run through anyone
-Has a knack for finding windows and lanes, has a nose for space
-Can accelerate in a blink once he reaches the open field

Weak Points:

-Can be caught from behind, long speed is limited
-Can be a little stiff as a lateral runner
-Needs to hold the ball tighter to his body

Summary:

An overlooked senior because of the superstar status of Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb a few years ago. He finally got the attention he deserved in 2017 after he broke the 1,000 yard mark for the second time in three years. Michel is a blue collar runner. No-nonsense, hits the hole hard, plays with the proper blend of wiggle and toughness. Won’t ever be a superstar but he is the kind of back that sticks around for a long time and is appreciated more and more later in his career, a la Frank Gore.

NFL Comparison: Frank Gore / IND

3 – Ronald Jones – USC – 5’11/205

Grade: 80

Strong Points:

-Easy, natural explosion that reaches a top speed (sub 4.4) in a blink
-Easily adjusts his intentions, loose hipped and top tier balance
-Consistently shakes off initial contact

Weak Points:

-Slight frame, likely can’t handle a full load
-Made no impact as a receiver or blocker in college
-Runs with his feet too close together, needs a sturdier base

Summary:

Junior entry. Former track athlete. One of the top RBs in USC history. One of my favorite backs to watch all year, he just screams “big play” when he gets the ball in his hands. Jones isn’t an every down guy, but that doesn’t matter too much. Pair him with a bruiser and he might be one of the most dangerous players in the league. If he can prove to be a pass catcher, this could be the next Kamara.

NFL Comparison: Chris Johnson / FA

4 – Nick Chubb – Georgia – 5’11/227

Grade: 79

Strong Points:

-Ideal frame, thickness all around with some extra muscle throughout his legs
-Excellent vision, can anticipate and react equally fast
-Balance and control are always there through traffic

Weak Points:

-Struggles to quickly adjust his weight laterally, not an outside runner
-Doesn’t miss contact
-Injury history can cause some shelf life concerns

Summary:

Had a start to his career that immediately labeled him a future first round pick, a high one. Chubb suffered a gruesome knee injury in 2015 but he came back and put together two quality years. He finished as the 2nd all time leading rusher in the SEC. He did have 3+ years to compile, but I can see a similar career in the NFL. Productive, consistent, reliable. Not a superstar but I think you know what you are getting here.

NFL Comparison: Mark Ingram / NO

5 – Derrius Guice – LSU – 5’10/224

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Aggressive running style that will fight for every inch on every carry
-Runs with the forward lean but shows the ability to stop and go to avoid contact
-Impacts the game as a pass catcher and blocker, a true every down back

Weak Points:

-Vision isn’t always there, delayed reactions, struggles to adjust
-Takes too many hits and it has created credible concern of durability
-Stiff hips, lacks wiggle

Summary:

Junior entry. Looked much better in 2016 than he did in 2017, partially because of injuries and a broken offense. Well documented from rags to riches type story, a good kid that will work his tail off. Guice has a sturdy frame and hard nosed style that could be a big factor early, but can he stay on the field? Is there enough diversity to his game?

NFL Comparison: Thomas Rawls / FA

6 – Kerryon Johnson – Auburn – 5’11/213

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Smooth and easy mover with a loose lower body, great balance
-Patient but assertive, knows when to pounce and when to wait
-Top tier blocker

Weak Points

-Inconsistent lean and pad level, slows himself down and vulnerable to big hits
-Needs to add bulk, doesn’t push the pile, lacks lower body power
-Doesn’t break enough tackles in the box

Summary:

Junior entry. Took over the top tailback spot for Auburn in 2017 because of an injured and troubled Kamryn Pettway. He really turned it on over the second half of the year and showed 3-down ability. Johnson can slither in and out of contact, he is very agile for a tall, high hipped runner. He needs more strength on that frame though, as Alabama showed him what a pro-caliber defense can do to him. Upside is big here for a day 2 back.

NFL Comparison: Damien Williams / FA

7 – Jaylen Samuels – NC State – 5’11/224

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Versatile, has played every skill position for NC State
-Smart and savvy, played at a different IQ level than his opponents
-Doesn’t go down easy, will break tackles via strength, desire, and quickness

Weak Points:

-Average athlete across the board, won’t be a big play threat
-Slow to diagnose running lanes outside the tackle
-Tight hipped and doesn’t adjust to lanes that disappear, not innovative

Summary:

You won’t find many players like this. Samuels was a running back at the Senior Bowl, tight end at the combine, and Mr. Everything at NC State. I wouldn’t call him a gimmick guy though, I think his best role is at RB where he can impact the game as a receiver and inside runner. There isn’t a natural feel or flow to him, but he is just a gamer that plays smart situational football. This is the kind of kid that goes to NE and tears it up. Right system makes this kid a stud.

NFL Comparison: Ty Montgomery / GB

8 – Royce Freeman – Oregon – 5’11/229

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Consistently gains yard after initial contact
-Quick north/south acceleration, can shoot out of a cannon
-Can wear different hats as a ball carrier, power back or space friendly

Weak Points:

-Stiff lower body as he approaches traffic, needs the extra step
-Poor blocker, doesn’t play physical and doesn’t sustain
-Runs too high and too hesitant

Summary:

A productive four year career, the Pac 12’s all time leading rusher. A couple years ago Freeman was being discussed as a soon-to-be top 15 pick. His production tailed off, he started to get nicked up, and the warts in his game arrived. Freeman is a dangerous runner in the open field because of his sneaky speed and violent power. He is the kind of back that wears a defense down and force tacklers to make business decisions. Give him a quality OL and he will take advantage more than most.

NFL Comparison: CJ Anderson / DEN

9 – Nyheim Hines – NC State – 5’8/198

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Track speed that shows up on the field
-Stop and go quickness is top tier, reacts to the defense
-Excellent feel on outside zone runs, instinctive runner

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t have the frame to handle a full load of touches
-Won’t factor between the tackles, lacks power and inside vision
-Won’t break tackles, goes down on initial contact too easily

Summary:

Junior entry. Hines has been used all over the field. He has been a returner, a slot receiver, and mostly a RB in 2017. His performance this past season really put him on the radar and one must think what this grade could have been had they committed to him in this role earlier in his career. Hines is one of the better big play offensive weapons in this draft.

NFL Comparison: Dion Lewis / TEN

10 – Rashaad Penny – San Diego State – 5’11/220

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Excellent straight line speed for his size
-Excels at breaking through initial contact and gaining the extra yards
-Anticipates running lanes and will burst to them before they open up

Weak Points:

-Stiff lateral movement, doesn’t have a lot of wiggle to his game
-Struggles to miss contact, runs high
-Poor blocking presence and technique

Summary

After three years of backing up NCAA all time rushing leader Donnell Pumphrey, Penny got his shot to prove he was more than return specialist in 2017. He excelled, winning the conference player of the year award and finishing 5th in the Heisman voting. Penny has the frame and toughness but I question the short area quickness and ability to adjust. The up tick in competition he will experience wil expose that, but this is still a back worth getting excited about when it comes to potential.

NFL Comparison: Jeremy Hill / NE

11 – Kalen Ballage – Arizona State – 6’1/228

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Violent downhill runner capable of sending tacklers in to tomorrow
-Light feet that can dance and plant with power and explosion
-Easy hands catcher that has untapped ability as a receiver

Weak Points:

-Inconsistent production and habits
-Not a quick decision maker, struggles to make timely reads
-Doesn’t run hungry, too often settles

Summary::

A physical specimen that has some tape that will remind Giants fans of Brandon Jacobs. A downhill runner that will make defenders think twice about sticking their pads in front of him. Ballage didn’t fulfill his potential at ASU, as he struggled with the mental side of the game. If he can be put in to a simple role, there are things he can make happen that other backs cannot. He was one of the more impressive players at the Senior Bowl.

NFL Comparison: Chris Carson / SEA

12 – Darrel Williams – LSU – 6’0/229

Grade: 73

Strong Points:

-Downhill bruiser capable of delivering the violent blow to tacklers
-Surprising jump cut and acceleration ability for his size
-Quick and easy vision inside, natural

Weak Points:

-Gets heavy footed on the outside runs, takes too long to reach his point
-Will run high and slow when looking for space
-Isnt very innovative, won’t create on his own

Summary:

Played behind Fournette and Guice but because both had stretches of being banged up, Williams got his fair share of looks and produced. He averaged 5 yards per carry and has enough quality tape spread out over his career to prove he can be a rotational back. He is a simple bruiser. Give him the ball between the tackles, keep his role simple, and he can get the job done.

NFL Comparison: Zach Zenner / DET

13 – Bo Scarborough – Alabama – 6’1/223

Grade: 73

Strong Points:

-Long stride speed that can run away from defenders once in the open field
-Explosive, big play potential
-A violent downhill force that can make defenders think twice

Weak Points:

-Long limbed, making it very hard for him to run with proper pad level
-Takes a lot of hits to his legs, gets nicked up often
-Takes too long to get going, lacks quick and agile lower half

Summary:

Junior entry. Has missed time all three years with separate lower body injuries. It is almost a given he is going to struggle to stay on the field with a full workload, but his rare abilities are enough to get me excited. He plays faster than he runs and I think there is a high upside with his pass catching and blocking. Could be a very non-traditional but very effective 3rd down back.

NFL Comparison: Darren McFadden / FA

14 – Josh Adams – Notre Dame – 6’2/213

Grade: 72

Strong Points:

-Good straight line burst and acceleration to break off the big run
-Good feel between the tackles, has the blend of patience and aggression
-Good ball security, protects the ball always

Weak Points:

-Slow to make decisions on outside runs, too indecisive
-Needs too many recovery steps when forced to adjust
-Not a physical runner, seems hesitant and can be shaken off his game easily

Summary:

Junior entry. Leading rusher for the Irish in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Was in the Heisman discussion for awhile this past year. As the year went on and the more taped I watched, I think it was obvious Adams was the beneficiary to a dominant offensive line more than anything. A guy with this kind of frame and long speed looks god at first, but a lot of running back traits I look for simply aren’t there. He really disappointed against some of their more physical opponents.

NFL Comparison: Alfred Blue / HOU

15 – Ito Smith – Southern Miss – 5’9/195

Grade: 72

Strong Points:

-Tough to get a hold of with his low pad level and quick feet
-Very balanced and under control through traffic
-Fast decision maker and reaction runner

Weak Points:

¬-Has a hard time pushing piles and break tackles that have him squared up
-Long speed is average at best, can be caught from behind
-Not enough wiggle in his hips in relation to his footwork

Summary:

A fourth year senior that has carried the ball over 800 times in his career, a high number. Also coming from a lower level of college football and his quickness may not be enough at this level. What I like about Smith is how feisty he is. He plays tough, runs angry, and moves like he has something to prove. Smith is a back-of-the-depth-chart player but I’ll be curious to see what he can do after a year of pro strength work.

16 – John Kelly Tennessee – 5’10/217 – GRADE: 72
17 – Mark Walton – Miami – 5’11/202 – GRADE: 72
18 – Akrum Wadley – Iowa – 5’10/197 – GRADE: 70
19 – Ryan Nall – Oregon State – 6’2/232 – GRADE: 70
20 – Jeffrey Wilson – North Texas – 5’11/210 – GRADE: 68
21 – Justin Jackson – Northwestern – 6’0/193 – GRADE: 67
22 – Lavon Coleman – Washington – 5’11/223 – GRADE: 66
23 – Chris Warren – Texas – 6’2/250 – GRADE: 66
24 – Chase Edmonds – Fordham – 5’9/205: 66
25 – Justin Crawford – West Virginia – 5’11/203: 66

Mar 052018
 
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Andrew Norwell, Carolina Panthers (December 17, 2017)

Andrew Norwell – © USA TODAY Sports

2017 was an utter disaster for the New York Giants. The 13 losses were a team record for a team that has suffered through some horrific seasons in its 93-year old history. It was so bad that team ownership took the incredibly rare steps (for them) of firing the general manager and head coach a month before the season ended.

What made this all the more shocking is that in many quarters, the Giants were expected to be a Super Bowl contender. Instead, they became arguably the worst team in the NFL with atrocious play on offense, defense, and special teams. It wasn’t just bad. It was really, really bad. And the demise began well before the injury bug hit once again.

Enter Dave Gettleman as the new general manager and Pat Shurmur as the new head coach. Both are uninspiring, safe, conservative choices. And for better or worse, the Giants did not completely break with their institutional past that was created by George Young in 1979. The GM search was largely telegraphed and settled as soon as the team hired former George Young-disciple Ernie Accorsi to consult in the selection process. It’s probably the easiest money Accorsi ever made. Gettleman is experienced and well-traveled, but spent 14 years with the Giants from 1999-2012 under both Accorsi and Reese. While the Giants fired Vice President of Player Evaluation Marc Ross, everyone else in the personnel department (at least for now) has been retained. This is hardly any sort of institutional change in thinking.

The field of head-coaching candidates this offseason seemed underwhelming. Two Bill Belichick disciples, the relatively-inexperienced Panthers defensive coordinator, and the previously-fired, milk toast Shurmur. In hindsight, thank God the Giants passed on Josh McDaniels (or he passed on them) as he unbelievably screwed the Colts at the last minute. Shurmur may be bland, but he is respected around the league as probably has the highest floor. The question is how high is his ceiling? Can he manage, lead, and inspire an NFL team towards greatness? Or is he a middle-of-the-pack-type of coach? And while there were significant changes in the assistant coaching staff, Shurmur did keep a few Tom Coughlin-Ben McAdoo holdovers to not completely break with the past here either.

Then there is the third most important figure in the equation: the quarterback. For better or worse, the Giants are going to continue to hitch their wagon to the seemingly fading 37-year old Eli Manning. Gettleman and Shurmur keep pointing to the second game against Philadelphia as somehow indicative of Eli’s still-current vitality, while apparently ignoring the other 15 contests. Of course, the ultimate proof of their continued faith (or lack thereof) will be what the Giants do with the #2 pick in the draft. But that is a topic of discussion best suited for another day.

In sum, though not to the serious degree of January 2016, this still has the feel of somewhat half-assed approach to it. This was somewhat predictable in that it would be difficult to see John Mara completely breaking with the almost 40-year old institutional structure. He simply wasn’t willing to blow it all up. It’s not in his DNA. Only future results will determine if this was the correct decision or not.

On the surface, the biggest change appears to be the hiring of a new defensive coordinator (James Bettcher) who may shift the Giants back to the 3-4 defense that they abandoned in 1994. Honestly, at this point, we don’t really know what Bettcher and the Giants will do on defense. And that obviously will determine which type of players they pursue in free agency and in the draft.

“We had a meeting with all the college personnel and all the pro personnel and we sat in there for an hour and a half and James gave us a clinic,” Gettleman said recently. “He did a great job and now I feel like we really have a full understanding of what we’re looking for… There’s not a huge change (in the secondary). It’s the front seven.”

QUARTERBACKS: Much depends on whether or not Pat Shurmur wants to keep two or three quarterbacks on the roster and if the Giants plan on drafting a quarterback. Unless he is traded, which appears unlikely at this point, Eli Manning will be the starting quarterback in 2018. And unless he is traded, Davis Webb will be a back-up. If the Giants don’t plan on drafting a quarterback and want to carry three quarterbacks, signing a cheap veteran as insurance is a likely possibility. Geno “the Earth is flat” Smith is an unrestricted free agent and probably will be moving on. (Need Level – Low to Medium)

RUNNING BACKS: There could be significant changes at this position. Orleans Darkwa and Shane Vereen are both unrestricted free agents and could be moving on. That leaves only Wayne Gallman (who played decently as a rookie), Paul Perkins (who had a very disappointing sophomore season), and a couple of long shots (Jalen Simmons and Terrell Watson). This is an area to watch in free agency and the draft. This looks like a strong and deep draft class at running back. Yet the Giants may choose to sign a veteran presence in free agency too. The question is how much money do they want to spend? For example, do you want to spend more on Carlos Hyde (49ers) or a cheaper alternative such as Alfred Morris (Cowboys)? It remains to be seen how important the fullback position is to Shurmur; Shane Smith is still on the roster. (Need Level – High)

WIDE RECEIVERS: It will be interesting to see the working relationship between Shurmur and the diva Odell Beckham, who is showing signs of restricting his on-field time until he gets a mega $20 million per season deal. Assuming Odell plays and plays well, the focus really is on the complimentary pieces. Sterling Shepard will be the slot receiver. But who will start opposite of Beckham and what about depth? Brandon Marshall was extremely disappointing before he got hurt and probably will be let go. Dwayne Harris has had two injury-plagued years since his stellar 2015 debut with the Giants. He also makes too much money. Harris could return if he accepts a pay cut for the second year in a row. Behind them are 10 no-names who are easily replaceable. One of them could surprise, but that is doubtful and it might be smarter to move on. (Indeed, it is surprising that some of these players haven’t already been cut). Long story short, this is a VERY thin position where the Giants could use a lot of help. Don’t think so? Imagine the state of the position if Beckham gets hurt again. Don’t be surprised if the Giants both sign a veteran and draft a rookie at this position. (Need Level – High)

TIGHT ENDS: A year after the Giants spent big bucks on Rhett Ellison and selected Evan Engram in the first round, this is one position where the Giants are in good shape. Ellison was overpaid and underutilized, but he is a solid, versatile player. If Engram can cut down on the drops, he has All-Star potential. Jerell Adams is a good third tight end and the Giants claimed H-Back Kyle Carter off of waivers from the Vikings in January. Ryan O’Malley is an exclusive rights free agent. (Need Level – Low)

OFFENSIVE LINE: This position is a mess. The Giants have invested three high draft picks on the OL and so far none of them have panned out. Justin Pugh has been solid, but injury prone and may be looking for greener pastures. Weston Richburg had a very good year at center in 2015 but has struggled since then. And the Giants still don’t know what they really have in the very inconsistent and often awful Ereck Flowers. Guard John Jerry is an overpriced, average-at-best player. D.J. Fluker can maul in the run game but has had issues in pass protection; he also is a free agent. Brett Jones is an undersized player who struggled at times. The Giants re-signed 33-year old John Greco to a 1-year contract. The Giants may have found a player in Chad Wheeler, but that remains to be seen as the rookie was also up and down. The problem for the Giants is the offensive line free agent market is extremely thin as evidenced by the fact that Pugh and Richburg are widely considered two of the better players available. The offensive linemen reaching the market will be overpriced and mostly overrated. The Giants may need to add as many as four potential starters. Making matters worse is that almost every team will be looking to sign a lineman and most teams have have far more cap room than the Giants. My expectation is the Giants may make a push to sign one high-profile lineman (Andrew Norwell) but after that they will have to bargain-basement shop for older, over-achieving types who have serious warts to their game. The 2018 NYG line is likely to be a patchwork affair. (Need Level – Desperate)

DEFENSIVE LINE: Analyzing the defensive line needs is extremely difficult in that we don’t know what kind of defensive base James Bettcher will employ. While he will be multiple in his fronts, will the emphasis be on the 4-3 or 3-4 defense? If the latter, then things could get confusing and messy. Even messier if it simply some sort of chaotic hybrid. Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon are coming off of disappointing seasons. Both are vastly overpaid, to the point where the the cap hit may prohibit them from being cut or traded. Worse, neither is physically suited to play defensive end in a 3-4 system. Bettcher does have a history of converting athletic defensive ends to 3-4 linebacker. So there is a possibility that JPP and Vernon may be changing positions. If so, that is a risky proposition as it remains to be seen if they can handle the switch. If the Giants make the conversion to the 3-4, restricted free agent Kerry Wynn will probably be moving on and Romeo Okwara is not a good fit. On the other hand, the athletic Avery Moss can probably handle the transition to linebacker. The good news is that Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson can play in the 3-4, Harrison on the nose and Tomlinson at end. But the Giants would need to add more 3-4-type players at both positions. (Need Level for 3-4 – Extremely High)

If the Giants choose to remain in the 4-3, the Giants would ideally like to bring in talented defensive ends to compete with Pierre-Paul and Vernon. At some point in the future, the team will have to move on from JPP, and perhaps Vernon, unless they dramatically improve their play. However, that influx in talent would more likely come from the draft than free agency. Good defensive ends rarely hit the open market, including this year. At tackle, the question is one of depth. Jay Bromley will be a free agent and may be moving on. Robert Thomas is replaceable. I could see the Giants adding a veteran defensive tackle in free agency. (Need Level for 4-3 – Average)

LINEBACKERS: Right now, only five of the team’s 12 linebackers are under contact. And they are the injury-prone B.J. Goodson, Calvin Munson, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Derrick Mathews, and Thurston Armbrister. Yikes! That’s as bad as it gets. It also may be time to move on from free agents Jonathan Casillas, Keenan Robinson, Kelvin Sheppard, and Mark Herzlich.

Like the defensive line, this position is confused because of the 4-3 vs. 3-4 issue. If the Giants shift to the 3-4, as mentioned above, Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, and Avery Moss become linebacking candidates. Unrestricted free agent Devon Kennard’s worth increases as well as he has always been better suited to the 3-4. The issue at that point becomes adding additional inside linebacker to compete with B.J. Goodson and Calvin Munson unless the team wants to re-sign Sheppard or Herzlich for cheap veteran depth. (Need Level for 3-4 – Average assuming DEs can handle transition)

If the Giants stay in the 4-3, it means Pierre-Paul, Vernon, and Moss are staying put on the defensive line. It also means that Kennard is less likely to re-sign. In that case, the cupboard looks awfully barren, particularly at both outside linebacking spots. Given that there are very few impact 4-3-type linebackers in the NFL that ever hit the open market, the Giants would most likely have to take the bargain-basement approach here as well in free agency unless they want to make a strong  play for Nigel Bradham of the Eagles. (Need Level for 4-3 – Desperate)

CORNERBACKS: The Giants appear much thinner at this position with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie moving to free safety. Much now depends on how the Giants truly feel about Eli Apple and whether or not Apple is going to mature. When focused, Apple can play. The problem is that he wasn’t focused for most of 2017 and his play deteriorated significantly. Worse, he pissed off his teammates with his shitty attitude. For a new GM who harps on team chemistry, Apple is probably on a very short leash. Janoris Jenkins was also suspended last year for detrimental conduct, but he’s only a year removed from a Pro Bowl/All-Pro season and there has been no indication that the Giants are moving on from him. Ross Cockrell was a pleasant surprise last year and probably had his best season as a pro. Ironically, he’s probably the team’s most important free agent. He could sign elsewhere. Brandon Dixon flashed a little bit but is still a long shot. So are Donte Deayon, Jeremiah McKinnon, and Tim Scott. (Need Level – Average to Very High depending on the status of Apple and Cockrell)

SAFETIES: The strong safety position is in good hands with Landon Collins. Darian Thompson was serviceable at free safety but he had his ups and downs, and the Giants are now reportedly moving Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC) to free safety to compete for the starting job. DRC has always been a bit of an odd fish. Some coaching staffs have put up with him; others have not. (He was also suspended last season for detrimental conduct). DRC is aging, expensive ($8.5 million cap hit in 2018), and while he doesn’t miss many games, he’s a fragile player whose snaps have been managed. It remains to be seen if he can handle the physical nature of the safety position. That said, the switch is intriguing as DRC could thrive as a ball-hawk in the middle of the field. Andrew Adams is replaceable. Nat Berhe is an injury-prone free agent who simply hasn’t worked out here. Ryan Murphy is a journeyman. Look for the Giants to address this position in free agency or the draft. (Need Level – Average)

KICKERS: Brad Wing’s game declined markedly in 2017 as he became one of the NFL’s least effective punters. Austin Rehkow has already been signed for competition but do the Giants bring in a veteran punter or hope Wing rebounds? A media report said the Giants are interested in place kicker Graham Gano, who is coming off a Pro Bowl season. If true, Aldrick Rosas may be toast. Rosas has exceptional ability but simply missed too many kicks. The patience level with the Giants doesn’t appear to be there. That’s hurt the Giants in the past with some green kickers who have moved on to have very good careers. Incidentally, the Giants have already added another place kicker in Marshall Koehn. (Need Level – Above Average)

SUMMARY: This roster is not in good shape. The offensive line is a mess. The Giants are thin at wide receiver and running back. The front seven has talent problems regardless if the team plays the 3-4 or 4-3. And a secondary that was once considered a team strength is now an issue because of attitude concerns. If that wasn’t enough, the kicking and return games are up the air. While the Giants are about $24 million under the cap, they have a lot of unsigned players, and relative to the rest of the NFL, their cap shape isn’t that great. Worse, the available talent pool in free agency once against appears shallow.

Jan 032018
 
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Steve Spagnuolo and Eli Manning, New York Giants (December 31, 2017)

Steve Spagnuolo and Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 18 – Washington Redskins 10

RECAP

The best part about turning the calendar to 2018 is the fact that the Giants 2017 season is officially done with. I have never been so wrong when it came to forecasting a Giants season and it seemed like forever ago when we were at training camp labeling this team a Super Bowl contender. And here we are, week 17 and the duo of John Jerry and Eli Manning were the only 2 offensive starters left on the field against the Redskins.

In front of a half-empty stadium, the Giants and Redskins played through a painful game to watch. An early touchdown by the Giants was the peak of the action as both teams seemed more interested in getting out alive than trying to win a game. The small sense of urgency by NYG stemming from a new General Manager aided the team towards their 18-10 bleeder and 3rd win of the season.

QUARTERBACKS

  • Eli Manning: 10/28 – 132 yards – 1 TD/1 INT. If this were a game full of meaning, the outlook on Manning might be a little lesser. But considering he was playing behind, and throwing the ball to, players who see the majority of their time in the 4th quarter of preseason games, he gets a slight pass. Manning had a season high 8 passes dropped in this one, lengthening his lead among all NFL quarterbacks in that category. Was this Manning’s last game with NYG? My gut says no, he will be back for at least one more year. Whether anyone thinks he still has it or not, there is no denying the fact evaluating his 2017 without acknowledging the fact he had the worst situation to deal with across the board in the NFL this year is not fair. Manning didn’t play well, I will say that. But I’m not sure who would have in this mess of a season.

RUNNING BACKS

  • Orleans Darkwa: 20 att/154 yards – 1 TD. On the game’s second play, Darkwa ran right and cut back inside thanks to two pre-snap audibles by Eli Manning at the line of scrimmage. It was the longest run of his career and 5th TD of the season. Darkwa averaged 4.1 yards per carry throughout the rest of the game and, as usual, dropped a pass. Where the team goes with him from here is very much up in the air, but I respect how hard he runs. This was a breakout year for Darkwa, as prior to this game, his career SEASON high was 153 yards, 1 less than he gained in this game alone.
  • Wayne Gallman: 15 att/89 yards – The explosive, quick accelerator had his share of big runs and outstanding adjustments to the defense. Gallman’s speed and elusiveness were one of the best surprises of 2017 and he needs to be factored into what this team plans on doing in 2018. If they bring in a back, it should be someone who excels in the play-to-play pounding and short-yardage situations. Gallman should have the change-of-pace spot locked up for a couple years, at least. Two things he absolutely needs to clean up, however, both occurred in this game. He had a drop and a fumble. Time to get in the weight room, too.

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • Hunter Sharp: 3 rec/29 yards – 1 TD. Overall a very solid game for the second-year pro who was signed just 3 weeks prior. He brought in his first career touchdown pass on the second drive of the game. He showed quality routes throughout but also suffered two drops on consecutive plays later.
  • Travis Rudolph: 1 rec/29 yards. I was hoping to see more opportunities for one of the training camp studs who has been inching his way towards more and more playing time. His one play was an excellent catch and turn up field for a 29 yard gain, the biggest passing gain of the day.

TIGHT ENDS

  • Rhett Ellison: 5 rec/63 yards. A career-high 5 catches for Ellison, a guy the Giants underused all year. He was making catches and plays most are unaware he can make. This guy is much more than a blocking tight end who works hard and the next play caller needs to understand he can be a valuable weapon next year.
  • Jerrell Adams: 0 rec/0 yards. Adams looks the part and will occasionally make the catch in practice that can get you excited. But he had two opportunities, one of which was for a touchdown, and he dropped both. Two years in and looks like he won’t ever be anything more than a quality blocker. That is fine, but it won’t give him a ton of long-term security here.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Tackles: The two long-haired rookies who I got mixed up a few times during training camp were the starters for this game. A rookie 6th round pick on the right side and an UDFA on the left side – that is who was in charge of protecting the immobile Giants quarterback. As run blockers, they both graded out above average. Bisnowaty had a bad game elsewhere. He allowed 2 sacks and 2 pressures in addition to 2 holding penalties. It was the second-worse RT performance of the year only to former Giant Bobby Hart. And boy does it sound good to say former Giant there. Wheeler didn’t play as badly on the left side, but still was shaky with a slightly below average performance. He exceeded what almost every UDFA did in the NFL this year, thus nobody can look down on him. I do think he is in the picture for RT next year.
  • Interior: After a few bad weeks by OC Brett Jones, he put together a very solid performance. He was borderline dominant in the run game and didn’t have any mishaps as a pass blocker. John Greco subbed for John Jerry (concussion) at LG and I’ll tell you what, he played well. The 32-year old had 66 starts to his name prior to this game and he graded out right there with Jones. Right Guard Jon Halapio finished right below the average mark. He allowed 2 pressures and led the line in allowed tackles. Overall a solid year but he won’t be more than a backup moving forward.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Ends: Very solid game from the ends for the second week in a row. Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul combined for 2 sacks and 4 pressures. They were up against backup tackles and provided good gap integrity against the run as well. Neither had a good year or came even close to earning their high cap numbers. With this team being locked into those contracts for at least another year, they are going to be the 2018 starters.
  • Tackles: Damon Harrison ended his second straight season of dominance with NYG. He has been the best player on this team since the beginning of 2016 and will be a building block for next year. If this team runs a 4-3 or a 3-4, he will be the guy in the middle who makes other players better no matter what. Rookie Dalvin Tomlinson had his second best game of the season, totaling 4 tackles and 2 pressures. He had arguably the best year of all the rookie DTs in the league and will be a reliable starter on this team for a long time, no matter the scheme.

LINEBACKERS

  • Kelvin Sheppard intercepted 2 passes and finished with 6 tackles. For a guy who was a street free agent during the beginning of the season, he had a very solid year with the Giants. He probably won’t be a guy that sticks to the roster moving forward, but he had a very respectable year here. Solid inside defender who brings a physical presence to the defense.
  • Devon Kennard recorded his 4th sack of the season and broke up a pass. The versatility this kid has shown all year needs to be factored into his place on this team moving forward. He made a big impact as a pass rusher but is very limited in coverage. If this defense needs an edge presence who can fill LB roles here and there, Kennard will be a keeper.
  • Ray-Ray Armstrong and Calvin Munson are opposite linebackers. Armstrong is a plus athlete who lacks instincts and discipline while Munson is a step slow but has mightily improved his movement post-snap via reads and awareness from the beginning of the season. Neither are guys you make future personnel decisions around, but they do have a shot to stick around.

CORNERBACKS

  • In all honesty with no bias, Ross Cockrell may have played the CB position better than anyone in the NFL over the past 4 weeks. While he hasn’t been overly tested when it comes to quality of his opponent, Cockrell has been dominant. He broke up 4 passes and intercepted another one. He is in the running for a starting job next year and it would be a help when it comes to their approach in FA and the draft if they know he is gonna be the guy.
  • Brandon Dixon and Darryl Morris played the majority of the snaps at CB otherwise, as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie played just about a third of the snaps. Cromartie has a valuable role on this defense, but if his playing is going to hover around 50% or less of the plays, he may not be worth keeping considering his cap number. Dixon earned a right to fight for a roster spot next year with his impressive size, speed, and aggression. He doesn’t have the feel though, as every week I noticed him getting beat by double routes and lacking the balance and body control as he turned.

SAFETIES

  • With Landon Collins out, Andrew Adams took his place. Adams is impressive when the action is in front of him. Other than him missing a tackle, he finished with an impact across the board. He had 6 tackles, one TFL, and a pass breakup. Adams also added a pressure. His coverage is solid underneath, but his stiffness and lack of speed makes him a liability against WRs on an island and in deep coverage. Darian Thompson finished with 7 tackles and no misses. He has been solid in his first season as the starter, but the upside with him is limited. He doesn’t make an impact as a tackler and the deep coverage responsibilities are somewhat hampered by a lack of long speed and acceleration. He would be a very good third safety, but merely an average starter.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • K Aldrick Rosas: 2/2 (Made 23,28). Rosas had yet another extra point blocked early in the game. Hard to say if it his fault or the guys up front blocking. Rosas did not have a good year, too many misses. Kicker might need to be a priority this offseason if a reliable veteran shakes free.
  • P Brad Wing: 9 Punts – 40.3 avg / 33.0 net. A quiet game from Wing with a couple ducks. This was a bad year for Wing overall, especially the stretch early in the year where his late-game mishaps heavily contributed to multiple NYG losses. He should be put on notice.

3 STUDS

  • CB Ross Cockrell, LB Kelvin Sheppard, RB Orleans Darkwa

3 DUDS

  • OT Adam Bisnowaty, TE Jerell Adams, OG Jon Halapio

3 THOUGHTS ON WAS

  • Kirk Cousins had a very poor game. While the surrounding cast can be somewhat blamed, it is games like this that lead some to believe he just cant be the guy a team spend $20+ million on per year.
  • WAS has been in the middle of the pack for 3 straight years. Their progress has been halted and they always seem to be the team that is merely solid, but not scary. It looks like Gruden will get another year, but what is going to change? This is a team that is very well put together in the trenches but there isn’t enough star power at the playmaking positions. At some point Gruden needs to push for an aggressive move personnel wise.
  • Ryan Kerrigan has 47 sacks over the past 4 years and has never missed a game in his career. In 14 career NFC East games, he has 29 sacks which is over 2 per game. If there was one edge rusher in the league who I would call overlooked, it is him. I think he is one of the best players in the NFL. WAS has him locked up through 2020.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  • Initially I was indifferent about the Dave Gettleman hiring but the more I study his tenure in CAR and hear him speak, I think he is exactly what the team needs. Back to “old school”, no-nonsense type approaches on both sides of the ball and in the locker room. He is a guy huge on team culture and laser focus on the big picture. Get the bad apples out, the guys that don’t want to work, and slowly but surely increase the quality of people and players. Odell Beckham will be the most interesting case here. He will definitely will be here in 2018 but if the antics worsen, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him playing elsewhere in 2019. For the record, I want ODB here long term if he can mature at least a little bit.
  • The #2 pick discussion is now the main focus of NYG talk. This has the potential to be a monumental pick for the franchise. It will somewhat be based on what the team does in FA leading up to it. This is my thought, though a lot of us will over-think it and over-complicate it. This is a simple situation, really. Get the best player and I don’t care what position it is. RB, QB, WR, OT, DE…etc. If  a QB meets the grade, it will likely be the best decision for the future of this team over the other spots. If one doesn’t meet the grade, all bets are off. Get a special player and don’t look back.
  • Let’s not overlook that NYG is potentially heading into the offseason without any starting caliber OTs. Flowers had a solid year, but does he want to be here? Is he going to work hard for 365 days? Is he better suited at RG or RT? Wheeler, is he a 3rd tackle or a starter? Remember this, Gettleman values the trenches as much as anyone. With this current group in shambles, he may put a ton of resources into it via FA and the draft before he tries to plug other holes.
Dec 292017
 
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John Mara, New York Giants (December 29, 2017)

John Mara – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Washington Redskins at New York Giants, December 31, 2017

THE STORYLINE:
The most disappointing season in the 93-year old history of the New York Giants finally ends on Sunday. 2017 was an utter disaster on every level, causing the conservative franchise to take steps it rarely has done such as firing a general manager and firing a head coach in-season.

And while many fans want to forget 2017 and focus on the future, it is important to understand the magnitude of the organization’s ineptness. Ownership failed. Team management failed. The coaching staff failed. The public relations staff failed. The training staff failed. Offense, defense, special teams failed. The players behaved like immature assholes from Odell Beckham to Eli Apple to Landon Collins.

The organization failed, from top to bottom. And that does not bode well moving forward. Don’t think so? Keep this in mind:

  • Ownership picked and Ernie Accorsi lobbied for Jerry Reese over Dave Gettleman as the team’s next GM in early 2007. Fast forward a decade later and Accorsi lobbied Mara and Tisch for Gettleman. Oh the irony.
  • In early 2016, ownership decided Tom Coughlin, and not Jerry Reese, was the problem. Ouch.
  • Ownership rushed to hire Ben McAdoo, a man who was clearly over his head, fearing the Philadelphia Eagles would snag him. In hindsight, the Eagles may have successfully goaded the Giants into making a disastrous coaching move. On top of that, McAdoo’s assistant coaching staff was virtually identical to Coughlin’s. Did ownership meddle and mandate the retention of coaches like Steve Spagnuolo, Mike Sullivan, and Tom Quinn?
  • Ownership/management were convinced the 2017 New York Giants were a Super Bowl contender. Instead, no team in Giants’ history has lost more games in one season. If the Giants and Browns played on Sunday, the Browns would probably win. One would hope that the leaders of the franchise would have a better capability for self-analysis.
  • Ben McAdoo was made the scapegoat for the Eli Manning benching, a move that both ownership and management signed off on, but then hid from. The disastrous PR handling of this move caused the Giants to backtrack on a decision that actually had merit, resulting the worst possible outcome. Eli Manning saw his consecutive game streak end and felt pissed on, yet the team still didn’t get a read on Davis Webb. What a waste!

Dave Gettleman has been hired as the team’s next general manager. He may be the perfect selection, the worst, or something in between. Only time will tell. What we do know is the GM search was a farce. Three of the four candidates interviewed were intimately connected to the Giants’ organization and existing culture. Marc Ross was a courtesy and Rooney Rule interviewee. Louis Riddick has been out of the NFL since 2013. Kevin Abrams may have been the only other serious candidate considered, and that’s not a given. Right or wrong, ownership decided to not even seriously consider other options.

  • Pros: No surprises. Gettleman worked for the Giants from 1998 to 2012. He knows the team’s culture from the owners down to the secretaries and janitors. Gettleman is experienced and knows how to evaluate talent. He’s been a GM in the league and knows how to do the job. He was the safe pick. If Gettleman was the pick all along, delaying the inevitable through a dog-and-pony show would have been a waste of time and could have cost the Giants an opportunity to hire a head coach of their choosing.
  • Cons: While he may tweak things here and there, Gettleman is a product, and therefore a representative, of the current team culture. It is highly unlikely there will be many – if any – structural changes in the way the Giants conduct their business. This was clear to many as soon as it was announced that Accorsi would be consulting ownership. It is somewhat disturbing that no outside candidates/approaches were even seriously considered. Mara should not insult our intelligence in claiming that all options were on the table. While Gettleman was the safe choice, he may not have been the best. And at 66, his age is a factor and he will likely only be a short-term solution, which in itself could influence the way he approaches his job.

An interesting indicator to watch will be Marc Ross, the team’s Vice President of Player Evaluation (really Director of College Scouting). If he stays, be worried.

Let’s be clear about one thing: other than ownership, nothing matters more than the general manager. If the Giants have picked the right general manager, they will be OK. If they have picked the wrong guy, the Giants may be entering the 1970s again. But the risks don’t stop there. Gettleman has to pick the right coaching staff and make the right decision at quarterback, including with what to do with either the #2 or #3 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Making the wrong decisions with the coaches or quarterback could set this team back years. And in 2022 or so, we may be going through all of this again as the Giants remain a laughing stock. This is the most critical phase the Giants have gone through since 1979. That year, Pete Rozelle forced George Young on the Giants, which led to Ray Perkins and then Bill Parcells, and Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor.

So as of late December 2017, here’s where we are at in terms of the big picture:

  1. General Manager: Dave Gettleman
  2. Head Coach: ???
  3. Quarterback: ???

The success of those three selections will ultimately determine the fate of the team possibly for the next decade.