Apr 262018
 
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New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Review

Draft Pick Scouting Reports
Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports
Eric’s Take on the 2018 Draft

Round Pick in Round Overall Selection Player Selected Video
1 2 2 RB Saquon Barkley (Video)
2 2 34 OG Will Hernandez (Video)
3 2 66 LB Lorenzo Carter (Video)
3 5 69 DT B.J. Hill (Video)
4 8 108 QB Kyle Lauletta (Video)
5 2 139 DT R.J. McIntosh (Video)

2018 Draft Pick Scouting Reports

1st Round – RB Saquon Barkley, 6’0”, 233lbs, 4.41, Penn State University

SCOUTING REPORTJunior entry. Barkley is a complete three-down back who can make an impact running and catching the football. He has an outstanding combination of size, quickness, and speed. Home-run threat every time he touches the football. Barkley has great vision, instincts, and balance. He makes defenders miss and can accelerate to full speed in a heartbeat. Not limited, he is tough enough to run between the tackles and fast enough to turn the corner. In addition, Barkley is big enough to run through and athletic enough to leap over tackle attempts. Barkley is a very good pass receiver who can hurt a defense down the field in the passing game. Outstanding kick returner. His biggest negatives are that he isn’t a particularly powerful short-yardage back and he will sometimes try to do too much and dance around instead of taking what the defense gives him. Excellent intangibles. Team leader with a good work ethic.

SY’56’s Take:

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.

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

Gettleman: Obviously, we felt Saquon was the best player in the draft. In baseball, they call it a five-tool player. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to pick five tools, but I have not seen a guy like this in a long time and I have been around a long time. I have been doing this for 30-plus years. The kid is so unique because of his size and his speed. He has the ability to string together multiple moves. He has the ability to step on the gas. He can do what we call cross the formation. There are a lot of good backs in this league, but they don’t have the speed to go across the formation. We all know he can catch the heck out of the rock. He is smart in blitz pickup, he sees it. That is probably the biggest issue with all these young rushers now. He is powerful, he runs through tackles and he runs through hits. When we were in here before, we were talking about quarterbacks and if they make everyone better. If you think about it, this kid makes our quarterback better, he makes our receivers better, he makes our O-line better. He makes our defense better because he has the much stronger ability to hold the ball. He is a great kid and he will be great for our culture. He was the unanimous best player in our draft.

Q: What about the positional value argument?

Gettleman: You know what I say about that. It is a crock. At the end of the day, a great player is a great player. He is a touchdown maker. He is a threat to take it to the house every time he gets his hands on the ball. I think a lot of that stuff is nonsense. I think it is someone who had decided to get into the analytics of it and went through whatever. Jonathan Stewart is in his tenth year and he has not lost anything. I don’t believe in that. I don’t care who you take, they can all get hurt.

Q: Was this an easy pick for you?

Gettleman: At the end of the day? Do I have to tell the truth? Yes. Nothing changed. You can overthink it, it’s a running back this and that, you can make yourself crazy about it and you can overthink things. You have to go with your instincts and understand what it takes to put together a winning football team.

Q: You know who your starting quarterback is, but with the addition of Saquon, do you think this is a vote of confidence in Davis Webb?

Shurmur: I don’t know that. I think Dave said it, we thought that this was the best player in the draft. We know the value he brings to our team. He is a three-down running back. He can run it, catch it and pass protect. He can be on the field as long as he can handle it. Certainly, we are going to sub him at times. I don’t know if it is a vote of confidence in Davis. We loved what we saw this week. He got better every day. We certainly all know what Eli brings to the table. This is one pick. He is a tremendous player and he is going to do a lot for our offense and our organization. If everyone gets to know him as well as we got to know him, everyone is going to see how special this young man is.

Q: How much interest was there in the No. 2 pick?

Gettleman: We had such a strong conviction on Saquon. I was talking to people. Not a lot, but we all had such a conviction on this kid. At the end of the day, very frankly, today, Baker Mayfield goes. The only reason that pick wasn’t in at 9:58 was because we had to wait till the five-minute mark.

Q: Did you have any significant enough offers that made you consider a trade?

Gettleman: The short answer is no, not really. People call you and they want the second pick of the draft for a bag of donuts, a hot pretzel and a hot dog. Leave me alone. I don’t have time to screw around.

Q: Did Sam Darnold falling to No. 2 affect the trade talks?

Gettleman: They went Mayfield, we were taking Saquon. It’s that simple.

Q: How long have you been thinking about Saquon and where he can fit? Have you drawn anything up with him in mind?

Shurmur: In my spare time, certainly. I think every guy that we thought we would take, in my mind, we had a role for. The running back is an easy guy to fit in an offense. You have to turn around and hand it to him. It doesn’t take a genius to do that. Then, a lot of times when you try and throw the ball downfield and they cover them all, you can dump him off the ball, or you can feature him in the pass game. I have seen the effects of a really, really good running back not only on the offense, but on the team. You have to run the football not just for your offense, but for your team. I have seen the effect that a great running back can have on teams. I was excited about the fact that he was the best player in the draft and I was excited about the fact that we were able to draft him.

Q: Who does he remind you of?

Shurmur: He is unique for me because he has quickness and he has speed. He can score touchdowns from any part of the field and he has a couple of things I am looking for. Number one, he can catch the football. That is first and foremost. He has great vision and then he has what we call in coaching ‘collision balance’. When he goes through the hole and someone tries to tackle him, he can keep his balance, but also when he is stepping up to try and block someone, he has a good set of lowers to drop his weight on him. We are going to nitpick him, I’m sure, at some point, but this is a guy that can do everything.

Q: You were very clear that Saquon Barkley was the right pick? What was your second option?

Gettleman: I don’t think it is fair to the kid to answer that question.

Q: How much discussion was there about having to fall in love with one of the quarterbacks because you might need one soon?

Gettleman: That tells you your answer right there. If you have to try to make yourself fall in love with a player, it is wrong. You will never be happy with the pick. You have to go through the process. As Theo Epstein said, you don’t cheat the process. You get all the information and give everyone their say at the right time. At the end of the day, you shouldn’t have to talk yourself into a guy. If you talk yourself into a guy, you are making a mistake. There was a player on our board as recently as three days ago. We couldn’t figure him out. We didn’t know where he fit. Coaches weren’t sure if he was a fit and we as evaluators weren’t sure if he was a fit. You know what, at the end of the day, if you can’t picture it, don’t take him. That’s really what it is. If you have to make yourself fall in love with a guy, you are going to make a mistake.

Q: And that’s what it would have been with the quarterbacks?

Gettleman: If you have to make yourself fall in love with a guy… You’re not getting a quote.

Q: Eli is 37. What is the long-term plan at quarterback?

Gettleman: What’s the long-term plan with the quarterback? He’s going to play. What do you want me to tell you? He’s our quarterback, we believe in him, he threw the hell out of the ball for three days, he has not lost one bit of arm strength and I’m coming back five years later, watching a quarterback in his prime, and now he’s 37. You have to stop worrying about age. Oh, by the way, Julius Peppers played last year at 38, Mike Davis played at 37. There are some guys that are just freaks. Brady is 41. I mean c’mon. He is our quarterback.

Q: Eli Manning only has two years left on his deal. Do you think he can play past that contract?

Gettleman: We’re going to find out. We’re going to find out.

Q: The guy you passed on was drafted by the team across town right after you. They’re going to be compared to each other. Did you recognize that and what do you have to say about that?

Gettleman: Slow down. We passed on about 230,000 players. You guys have got to understand me, I don’t care. All I care about is the New York Football Giants and every decision we make will be in the best interest of the New York Football Giants. I don’t care about that stuff. It doesn’t bother me. I know you’re looking at me like I’m crazy. I don’t care. Every decision that we are going to make is going to be in the best interest of the New York Football Giants. It is going to be in the best interest of this iconic franchise.

Q: Who does Saquon remind you of?

Gettleman: You guys are going to have to called Ernie (Accorsi). The thing that makes him different is he has the feet and speed of a little guy, with the power and strength of a big guy. That’s what makes him so darn unique. He’s different. It’s like he was touched by the hand of God, frankly. I can’t give you a name. I wish I could. Call Ernesto, that’s what you’ve got to do.

Q: You’ve been pretty honest in your gold jacket test. Do you see Saquon Barkley as a potential Hall of Famer and how do you expect him to handle those kinds of expectations?

Gettleman: Listen, he’s a wonderful kid and there is going to be a load on him. He just had a kid, second pick in the draft, biggest media market in the country, coming to a 3-13 team. The advice I’m going to give Saquon when I see him tomorrow, I’m going to tell him to be Saquon. That is it. That’s all that I want you to be. I don’t want you to be everything to everybody. Just understand that you take care of your football, the world will be at your feet.

Q: He’s a great return guy. Do you risk him at that position?

Shurmur: We’re going to use him. We’re going to get him in the mix, we’re going to get him going as soon as we can get him here and then we’re going to train him as a running back. He’ll perform return duties – typically, not normally your first returner. You can give him the ball enough times. I think when it comes down to touches and whatnot, we can give him the ball other ways.

Q: For as complete of a player as Barkley is, what can he still learn and work on when he gets here and starts to work with the coaches?

Shurmur: There is a lot to learn. Even though he is extremely talented, he’s still a rookie. He’s got to get in here and learn our culture. Our offense is much more diverse than the one that he was just playing in. We’re going to ask him to do more things and colleges just run a whole bunch of plays sometimes. We don’t run quite that many and you have to be really good on the ones that you’re involved in. It’s everything from here is your locker to here is your helmet, here is where the field is and let’s play ball. He’s going to get indoctrinated like any rookie and we’re going to treat him like any rookie coming to our organization. Now with that being said, if he’s the best Saquon he can be, then he will find his way into the lineup if he does what he’s supposed to be doing and he will find a way to help lead this team and I think that’s the challenge for him. But, first and foremost, we’re going to treat him like a rookie when he comes in here.

Q: You mentioned Ernie Accorsi several times. We know all the stories about the conviction he had in 2004. Do you see any similarities about the conviction Ernie had with Eli compared to the conviction you had with Saquon?

Gettleman: Yes, I do. When you take a guy this high when you know you’ve got that pick. I got hired and four days later, I know we have the second pick in the draft. I’ve been thinking about it since then. I’ve got to evaluate our team, then go through all the draft processes. Again, like I told you guys last time – when I watched a player on the defensive side playing Penn State, I was like a 3-year-old, I was watching Saquon.

Q: Were you thinking that any other team had a conviction like that about Saquon?

Gettleman: We thought about it.

Q: You’re such a film guy, what was the one play that you saw when you said, ‘That’s our guy’?

Gettleman: Well, I don’t know who it was against, but he breaks into the second level and he’s got two linebackers there and the safety coming here and he strung together three moves and – he just took it to the house. I had to run it back a couple times and say to myself, ‘I know I wasn’t drinking.’ So when you get to that, you just watched it and you’ve seen all the other stuff and it’s like, ‘Okay, put the clicker down and go to the other guy.’

Q: Was it the Iowa run?

Shurmur: That’s one of them. There was one against USC that was tremendous. There are a handful of them that you guys can vote on. They were all pretty good.

Q: At what point was that when you were watching tape on Saquon?

Gettleman: I did Saquon probably in March when I finally started to look at the film because everybody around here kept telling me, ‘You have to watch Saquon. You have to watch Saquon.’ So I said, ‘All right, I’ll watch him.’ He’s just so gifted.

Q: Did you think that you were being too complimentary about Saquon during this process that you were giving too much away?

Shurmur: I didn’t do much talking at all. He is a terrific player.

Q: Do you see him as a Le’Veon Bell-type back that can handle 25-27 touches a game?

Shurmur: He could be. He could handle that type of a load if need be. We’ll just have to see as we go and put this thing together. He’s one of a bunch of guys that we’re going to get in the mix – Eli, him, Odell, Evan and ideally if we can spread the ball around and block him well, Shep. I mean we’ve got a lot of really good players and he’s going to be one of them.

MEDIA Q&A WITH SAQUON BARKLEY:

Q: What is it like to come to an offense that includes wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard and tight end Evan Engram?

A: Yeah, it’s exciting. The players you just named are very talented and you’ve got that offense led with Eli Manning, a proven quarterback in the NFL with Super Bowl rings. OBJ at wide receiver, probably the best wide receiver in the NFL. Being able to surround yourself with that talent, you’ve got a standard to hold, you’ve got a standard to come into and you’ve got to raise your level of competition and raise your level of talent to compete with those guys and to be able to help that offense out at a young age.

Q: What is your relationship like with Odell Beckham Jr.?

A: Odell and I started our relationship kind of in the offseason, I guess you could say, training for the NFL Draft. After the Combine, I went out to LA to train and that’s where he’s at and we kind of just hit it off. Built a great relationship and welcomed me in with open arms and gave me great advice, the good things and the bad things. I feel like it’s important to learn from people’s mistakes and he’s the guy at the top of the game right now and everyone’s looking at him. So, I’d be dumb not to try to learn from the lessons he has taught me and told me.

Q: How early in this process did you get a feeling that the Giants loved you and were going to take you?

A: You see all the reports and you hear all the reports, but I got a feeling after the visit, when I got to formally meet all of the coaches and GM and everybody in the building. Leaving there, I just felt like that’s home. That’s the place where I wanted to be. Obviously in the Draft, you don’t decide where you want to go, but if I had to pick, that would be the place that I would pick. Walking into that facility and you see the four Super Bowl rings just hanging in a trophy case, that right there just shows you the mindset and the standard of that place. And that’s where you want to be and that’s a place you want to be a part of.

Q: How nerve-wracking were the last few days for you, not knowing where you were going to end up?

A: Yeah, but the way I handled that is something that I learned in college, is to control what you can control and that’s how I came into this whole thing. If the Giants wanted to draft me and they draft me, I was going to be super proud and super happy to come to this organization and try to come off hot and ready at a young age and try to help the offense out as early as I can. But if they traded or if they did other things with the pick, I can’t control that. The only thing I can control is how I handle myself and my approach. But like I said, I’m just truly thankful and truly honored to be a part of the Giants.

Q: Was being caught in photos wearing Giants gear recently intentional?

A: I know you guys would love for me to say that it was intentional, but in all honesty, it was a sweatshirt that I got actually from the visit [to the facility]. You get that from other teams when you visit and I had to go get a haircut and I went to the barber shop and I was running late and I just got out of the shower, so I just grabbed it and went. And I put it on, not even thinking about anything, but someone snapped a picture of me and I guess it got to TMZ. But, hey, I guess it all worked out for the best.

Q: What kind of high are you on right now, having your baby daughter born two days ago and now getting drafted second overall?

A: Yeah, it’s honestly incredible, it’s amazing. First and foremost, you’re blessed for the opportunity of fatherhood and being able to have a daughter, a beautiful daughter, and being able to raise her and try to set an example and a standard for her of how she should be treated by a man and how she should follow her life. But then the icing on top and the cherry on top, to be able to get drafted to New York, the New York Giants. Like I said, how well known this franchise is and known for the four Super Bowl rings and championships and being able to come home. This is the place I was born. I was born in New York, I was born in the Bronx and I’m not far from home anyway. I’m only like an hour and 45 minutes from the Lehigh Valley and I’m just happy I’m able to stay close and be able to play for such a prestigious franchise.

Q: What is your mindset coming in with an expectation to wear a gold jacket one day?

A: Yeah, hearing that, you love that. That shows that this franchise believes in you and you’ve got to believe in them. And that’s a mindset I have for myself. Obviously, everyone in this Draft will tell you that they want a gold jacket one day. But it’s easier said than done and I’m aware of that, I’m strongly aware of that. And I know that I have to work my butt off every single day to get to where I want to go. And it’s not going to happen in one day. It’s going to take baby steps and it’s going to take a long trip up that mountain, but every single day I’m willing to work.

Q: Do you come in expecting to start?

A: No, sir. I want to earn everything. I want to earn everything. If I’m not doing what’s needed to be done to get that starting job, than I don’t want it. I’m a big believer in competition and I know there’s a lot of great backs there already. I believe Jonathan Stewart is there and I’m looking forward to being able to pick his brain and learn from him. He’s been in the NFL for a long time and I know there’s a lot of things that I can learn. But no, I don’t expect to start. I expect to come in and work and earn my job.

Q: Have you heard from any Giants players yet?

A: Yeah, actually I just got off of Facetime with Odell and Eli texted me right away, saying congratulations and if I ever need anything, let him know and let’s get ready to work.

Q: If there is one thing that you think you will have to polish up on as you become an NFL rookie, what is it that you would like to work on in the next several months?

A: In the next several months, just obviously getting into the playbook. The mindset and the mental part of the game is where I would like to improve. A guy that I want to (model) my game after is a guy like Marshall Faulk. I heard a lot of great things about him and just try to be like another quarterback out there. And obviously I know it’s not going to happen tomorrow and it’s not going to happen in one year. Continue to work and obviously continue to pick Eli’s brain and try to be as well prepared as I possibly can because the more you know the game and the more knowledge you have of the game, the better player you are. That’s something that I look forward to.

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2nd Round – OG Will Hernandez, 6’2”, 327lbs, 5.19, UTEP

SCOUTING REPORTFour-year starter who lined up at left guard in college. Hernandez lacks ideal height, but he is a big, tough, strong, powerful guard who does his best work in-line and not on the move. Hernandez is a mauler who plays with leverage and gets movement as a run blocker. He plays with an attitude and looks to finish his blocks and punish opponents. Hernandez lacks ideal foot quickness which hampers his game in space as a puller and at the second level. He is a very good pass protector who won’t be bull-rushed and can mirror and slide with pass rushers.

SY’56’s Take:

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.

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

Gettleman: One of the great gifts you can get in the draft is when value meets need and we had a solid first round grade on Willie, so we’re thrilled to get him. He’s exactly what we’re looking for. He’s a power blocker, he’s tough, he finishes strong. He played for an 0-13 team last year and if you look at him in game 13, you know the kid has pride, he has a tremendous amount of pride because he played as hard in that game as he played in game one. You know I love the hog mollies and this guy really has a lot of talent. He is a very athletic kid for his size. He can run, he can pull and he plays very smart. I’m thrilled we got him.

Shurmur: Yeah, likewise. We had him graded in the first round, so we were excited and a little anxious at the end of the round last night. We were hopeful that he would be there and certainly being second today, we just had to wait out what Cleveland was going to do. We had a decent idea that they were going to go O-line, so we were kind of waiting to see and fortunately they didn’t pick our guy. But Will is going to give us strength in the middle, he’s good in the run game as well as the pass game. I think it’s very important to anchor the inside of the pocket and the passing game, which he can certainly do. He can do all the things that you need to see from a guard and he’s been very productive. He had an outstanding Senior Bowl. What’s lost in some of the scouting – the Senior Bowl is one of the first real events or exposures that we as coaches have with players and it’s a great way for us to get a kick start as coaches on what you’re going to see from the players because it’s good against good in kind of a pro setting and he had a really, really good week. Every exposure, we just continued to warm up to him as a guy that was going to fit our New York Giants culture, so we were pleased that he was there and we picked him.

Q: Did you have any thoughts of moving up back into the first round to get Will?

Gettleman: No. Right now, the bottom line is we’ve only got six picks, so if you’re moving up, you’re going to drop a pick and we just can’t do that. If you had a full complement of picks, we might have, but sometimes patience is rewarded.

Q: You were here when the Giants drafted Chris Snee. Do you remember how you felt about him and does Hernandez correspond there?

Gettleman: Will is bigger obviously. Will is a natural 320-pound guy. What made Chris unique is he had great quickness and he was strong as an ox and he was a very good athlete. Comparing Will to him, he is just a bigger guy but, again, strong as an ox and a really good athlete. I vividly remember that day.

Q: Is he a similar prospect in your mind?

Gettleman: Yeah, you don’t want to anoint him. This kid has a chance to be really, really good.

Q: In Carolina, you took a lot of big, long offensive linemen. Do you have a general theory on offensive linemen?

Gettleman: Body range is always great. It is always great to have the body range. In Carolina, you know (Panther G) Trai Turner is only 6-2 and change, but he’s a long armed guy and he’s athletic and powerful. It’s about watching film really and there are plenty of guys that are weight room strong that aren’t game strong and there are guys that you look at and you kind of scratch your head when you put the film on and they play with great power. My point is there are 320-pound guys that can play like they are 290 and there are 300-pound guys that can play 350. To me, the biggest thing is you obviously want them to be as athletic as they can be so that they can make all the blocks – you can reasonably expect and you want them to be smart because especially inside, people have this, there’s this thing in scouting, ‘Well, we’ll try him at tackle if he doesn’t work out inside.’ That’s a fallacy. It’s a different game inside, Pat (Shurmur) will tell you, he played there in his career. It’s a different game, it’s happening twice as fast. Basically a tackle or in some schemes, you tell the tackle, ‘You see that guy over there, the defensive end. Just block him all day long and I don’t care what number it is, but you block that defensive end.’ Inside, it is completely different because of the speed, so you’re looking for athletic ability, you’re looking for power, you’re looking for intelligence and instincts because the stuff happens so fast in there that if the kid is not instinctive, he’s going to fail. I’ve seen guys go inside and fail miserably because it was just too fast.

Q: When you talk about Hernandez playing as hard in his 13th game as he did in his first, does it say that this kid’s character matches his talent?

Gettleman: Just think about it. Just imagine you guys playing any sport and you’ve got an X game season and you haven’t won a game and you’re playing the last game. Fifty percent of the population is going to say, ‘Forget about it, I’m done.’ The toughness and the character of this kid in the 13th game was very, very impressive.

Q: How much debate went into other players at this pick?

Gettleman: When we took him, he was the guy on the board that was ranked the highest.

Q: You were part of a recent offensive line rebuild. Does what the Giants have done so far this offseason remind you of something that can be successful?

Shurmur: Eerily similar to a year ago actually. Dave and I were just talking about it and this really wasn’t planned, but it was part of the equation. But, a year ago in Minnesota we went out and got two free agents and then we drafted Pat Elflein, who played center for us and played at a level way above what a rookie would play. This year we went out and got two free agents and now we’ve drafted another offensive lineman and a year ago we brought in Dalvin Cook and we brought in Saquon Barkley. I don’t think it was planned that way, but it sort of worked out that way and we’ve got two more picks tonight, so we’ll see what happens. But I do know this, whether you coach offense, you coach defense, it doesn’t matter what position you coach – if you can’t block them, nothing works and so we’ve made obviously an effort here to improve ourselves up front, so all those guys that do the fancy stuff can do their thing.

Q: How much better did your running game get in the last two days?

Shurmur: A lot better. We’re all saying that with a smile. I think when you bring in a dynamic runner and then you bring in a guy that can block, certainly those are two pieces to the equation.

Q: Patrick Omameh has played left guard and so does Will. What are your initial thoughtd about that?

Shurmur: Will is going to play both sides to see where he fits in. He is going to get the same speech that I gave Saquon earlier. I gave him that ‘here is your locker, here is your helmet, here is the field’ speech. He is going to get the same speech.

Gettleman: Just so you know, Patrick started games at right guard early in his career.

Q: How is Hernandez pulling out on screens and stuff like that?

Gettleman: He is a really good athlete. For a guy at his size, he really is a good athlete. He can bend, he can change direction. Part of being a power blocker is the ability to pull your hips on contact. He can do that.

Q: Some of the clips you see, he looks a little nasty.

Gettleman: He’s a little cranky. He is cranky.
Shurmur: It is kind of a good thing in our sport. A lot of parts in our culture, that is not admired. Certainly in our sport it is something that we value. Cranky is good.

Q: Could he be ahead of the game because in his first four years at UTEP, he had a guy that was an NFL offensive line coach?

Shurmur: Yes, and I think that shows up in his play. You can see that he has been coached pretty well and that certainly starts the process. We talk about guys that can come in and play right away and there are other guys that are developmental. This is a guy that has a really good chance to come in, compete and play very early in his career.

Q: What kind of advantage is it for you to have two more picks tonight that are close together?

Gettleman: The advantage is that they are both at the top of the third. The board is holding up the way I believed it would. I think we are going to have a shot at two pretty good, young and talented players.

Q: How important is it to fill some defensive gaps with these next two picks?

Gettleman: I’m going to go with the board. You just can’t reach. Obviously we would like to balance it out and give the defense some help. They call me crazy, but it is the value of the pick. It is not about numbers. For example, I was with a team back in the past and we cut a wide receiver because the numbers said we needed X amount of receivers. This was when the cut was to 65, back in the day. We cut this kid who was having a damn good camp. We keep this fullback that was slipping, falling and just was not very good. I went into the GM’s office and asked, ‘What are we doing? We sent a better player out of here than the one we are keeping, this makes no sense.’ We talked about it some more and we ended up getting the kid as soon as he got off the plane, we told him to just stay at the gate and get back on the one coming back. The end of the day, the kid got cut and played nine more years in the league.

Q: What was Saquon’s reaction to the pick?

Gettleman: Didn’t you hear that loud scream?

Q: What about Eli Manning’s?

Gettleman: I’m waiting for the text.

MEDIA Q&A WITH WILL HERNANDEZ:

Q: How excited are you to join a Giants team that is showing a focus to the running game, after the selection of Saquon Barkley in the first round?

A: I’m beyond excited. The fact that I get to work with guys like that, it’s like, wow. The Giants all around is just a great, great team. The fan base is amazing. The coaching staff, when I met them on my private visit, was amazing. They were all real cool guys. I’m just excited to be a part of that team.

Q: What was last night like for you, were you expecting to go in the first round?

A: You know what, I always thought to prepare for the worst and expect the best. But honestly, I knew my range was one or two. Honestly, one through seven, I would’ve been fine. As long as I get the opportunity at the end to get picked up by a team, that’s really all that mattered to me.

Q: How hard was going through an 0-13 season last year in college?

A: Oh, it was one of the worst seasons I’ve ever experienced in my life. It taught me a lot, it made me so much stronger. The only thing I want to do is just make sure that never happens to me again because I just want to win. I just want to win games.

Q: Can you talk about your personality on the field?

A: On the field, I’m a completely different person than I am off the field. I take football very seriously. It’s more than a game to me, it’s who I am. So, whenever I get on that field, I take it with all seriousness. Of course, I have fun with it, but with a serious, controlled attitude. And I love playing the game, I love the feeling that it gives me before, during and after, especially after a win. And that’s just me on the field. I take it very seriously, I have fun with it, but that’s me.

Q: What stood out to you during your visit to the Giants facility?

A: The coaching staff. The coaching staff, I think, really got me excited. I got to meet everybody there. Everybody there was just really, really cool and you can tell that everybody there has one common goal, and that’s to win. I love surrounding myself with people like that and I’m just really excited I get to work with them.

Q: Are you more comfortable on the left or the right side?

A: Wherever they decide to put me, that’s where I’ll be. I’m comfortable on both sides. I’ve always practiced it, I always try to do what’s best for the team. I don’t really worry about what’s comfortable and what’s not. I do what my team needs me to do and that’s it.

Q: How ready do you think you will be to play right away?

A: You know what, that’s up to the coaches themselves. Like I said, they’re great coaches, I trust them 100 percent, but if you ask me, I feel like I can play right now. I’m fully confident in myself, but it’s just not up to me, it’s up to everybody. So, whenever the coaches call my name, I’ll be ready.

Q: Was quarterback Eli Manning at the facility when you visited?

A: Yes, he was.

Q: What was your conversation with Manning like?

A: I saw him from afar, didn’t get to meet him personally, but it was crazy to see him in person. He’s an awesome player. Obviously, I know so much about him. I see him all the time and it was just crazy that I was in the same room with him.

Q: Is it also a little crazy that now one of your jobs is to protect Manning?

A: Of course. It’s so much responsibility and ready to go, though. I got him, I got him 100 percent.

Q: Can you reflect on how far you have come from some of the adversity that you faced during high school?

A: Yeah, if you look at my life then and now, it’s completely night and day. I did go through a lot. A lot of it, I can’t complain too much about it because it shaped me into the player I am today and the person I am today. And honestly, I think if I wouldn’t have gone through all that, I don’t know if I’d be here. I’m telling you, it changed me. It changed my mindset, it changed my mentality, it completely made me the player I am. I took all of that and took it out on the field. I don’t wish it on anybody, but I’m thankful that it happened.

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3rd Round – LB Lorenzo Carter, 6’5”, 250lbs, 4.53, University of Georgia

SCOUTING REPORTLorenzo is tall, athletic 3-4 linebacker who moves very well for his size. He is a disruptive forward mover who flies around the field and has a knack for creating turnovers. Lorenzo causes problems with his quickness and closing burst but can get hung up on blocks at times. He flashes as a pass rusher. Lorenzo will need work in coverage but he is a good athlete. Improving player with a big upside.

SY’56’s Take:

Strong Points:

-Physically gifted with a rare combination of speed, height, length, and speed
-Progressed throughout the 2017 season as much as any defender in the class
-Versatile skill set that can be used in multiple roles, in space and in the trenches

Weak Points:

-Still a step behind mentally when it comes to reading defenses and reacting
-Hesitant when taking on blocks
-High hipped, too much of a straight line athlete

Summary:

A former 5 star recruit that earned the newcomer of the year award for UGA in 2014, Carter simply took awhile to blossom. He has always been packed with talent and ability, but the football sense wasn’t quite clicking for him until 2017. He was a situational guy, a good edge rusher with burst and long strides that would eat up a 5-10 yard window in a blink. But his role expanded in 2017 and he showed the kind of versatility and overall progress that could end up getting his name called in the 1st round. The NFL loves tools paired with a good attitude, and that he has. Carter is a little to manufactured for me, meaning he is only a top tier player when the role is simple and he can burst in to a straight line. He comes back down to earth when the game is quickly changing directions and quality reads need to be made. I love the upside here, but he is a 3rd round-only option for NYG in my book.

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

Gettleman: Okay, Lorenzo is an edge pass rusher, he’s a solid run player, he’s big, he can run – he has been a very good special teams player at Georgia and he’s going to give us flexibility. He’s going to be an outside player obviously and he’ll give us pass rush in addition to like I said, he’s a pretty darn good run player and he has really good special teams ability. B.J. Hill is an inside powerbroker, defensive tackle. Just like Lorenzo, he’s instinctive, he’s smart. B.J. is a powerful, tough son of a gun and sometimes as a defensive lineman at the college level, you’ll see them in these three-point stances and then you’ll see them in the four- point frog stance, and in the four-point frog stance they’re not going to get any pass rush. But when his hand is in the dirt in the three-point, he showed the ability to get up field, flip his hips and track the guy down, so we’re really pretty pleased. Again, both those guys had second round value for us, so we’re really pleased for that.

Shurmur: Yeah, I don’t have much to add. With Lorenzo, he can really run, he’s got length. As Dave mentioned, he’s a pass rusher, but yet he did a great job of setting the edge. He played his best football in his biggest games and that’s really what showed up and he’s a special teams player, so he’ll have an immediate impact there. But just a big, long guy that’s going to be an edge – you want a couple or three pressure-type players from the edge and he’ll compete for that spot for us. B.J. Hill, he’s tough to block. He’s good against the run, he’s kind of a little bit sneaky getting his pass rush, so we’ll get a little pass rush out of him as well and he played on a really good defensive line. He was a very, very productive guy and I’ll tell you what, when I had him on the phone, I could barely hear him – the people in the background were going absolutely crazy and he was probably as excited as anyone to get up here and get going. So that’s what you’re getting in those guys – two really good defensive players that we’re going to add to the mix, get them out there going and trained up and playing on Sunday.

Q: Getting back to what was said earlier, was getting these two guys about value or need?

Gettleman: Again, the perfect setup is when value meets need and I’ll be honest, we made an attempt to trade up but we couldn’t get anything and we couldn’t get it done. Sometimes patience is a virtue and obviously pass rush can come from a lot of different places, but in the ideal world you don’t need to blitz to get inside pressure. We feel strongly that B.J. Hill has the ability – he’s got things to learn, we’re talking the third round here. He’s got things to learn, but again, I like the way that he’s strong up field and the ability to flip his hips. If a guy can’t flip his hips, he can’t rush the passer unless the guy in front of him falls down.

Q: Did you say you tried to trade up for Carter?

Gettleman: Yes. We tried and thank God we didn’t have to.

Q: What changed? An hour ago you said you weren’t going to trade up.

Gettleman: That’s right, you caught me. He’s an outside edge pass rusher. We need pass rushers, every team needs pass rushers – c’mon.

Q: You mentioned a couple of times that you need to run the ball, stop the run and rush the passer. That is what you did with your first four picks. Is that a coincidence?

Gettleman: Again, I really believe in those three truths, I really do. Running the ball makes your defense better and there is that old saying that I told you guys, a good team runs when they want to and they run when they have to. If you don’t stop the run, you can take your pass rushers and tell them to go home because they’re not going to be able to rush the passer on 2nd-and-3 and 3rd-and-1, it just doesn’t work.

Q: As a former coordinator, did you sense excitement from James Bettcher when you took two defensive guys with these picks?

Shurmur: There was definitely excitement in the room because we had a consensus between the scouts and the coaches of what we thought of these guys and we liked them a great deal, so they were excited that they were available for us to pick. Yeah, we addressed a couple issues. (Hill) is probably the counterpart to Will Hernandez, kind of a gritty, tough guy on the other side of the line and he’s got youth, he’s got health on his side, plays extremely hard and we’re excited to have him.

Gettleman: That game inside between those hog mollies, that is a violent, violent workplace. If those guys aren’t tough, you’ve got no chance, you’ve got no chance and that’s what B.J. – he’s a tough kid just like Hernandez is a tough kid. Lack of toughness inside, it’s going to catch up to you somewhere along the line. At some point in your season, lack of toughness will catch up.

Q: Does a guy like Lorenzo Carter being 6-5, 250 and running a 4.5 and only having 15 career sacks worry you?

Shurmur: He was involved on a team that got a lot of pressure. Although he didn’t get sacks, there was a time where he did get pressure. There are some really dynamic rushes that he put on the quarterback where he was able to step up, move around and do something. He has got it in him. I think what you see on tape most of the time, you can tell he can set the edge and turn the run back in. We were joking that it looked to me like they were going to pull his scholarship if he didn’t set the edge. He set the edge pretty well. You can see the pass rush ability in a handful of rushes that were pretty dynamic.

Gettleman: Who doesn’t want to draft a kid that has 58,000 sacks? What you have to appreciate is his unseen production. If he is flying off the edge, he is creating pressure. Sometimes you are looking at guys that create plays for others. You have to look at that. That is part of it. At the end of the day, he does not have ginormous sack numbers, not a lot of these guys do. A lot of these kids don’t have pass rush plans or pass rush variety. Our job is to teach them that. Lorenzo has great speed off the edge. He is explosive. We really believe he is going to help be part of that pressure.

MEDIA Q&A WITH LORENZO CARTER:

Q: What is your reaction to getting drafted by the Giants?

A: I’m honored, first of all. It’s a blessing, I’m ready to get in with my family. It was a long couple of nights, but I’m honored. Thankful, very thankful to be in New York. I’m excited.

Q: Was it difficult waiting this long to get drafted?

A: A little bit, but I just knew God had everything planned out. This has been God’s plan a long time before me or you even thought about this. But I’m just going to trust the process and look forward to getting up there and getting to work.

Q: Do you know linebacker Alec Ogletree at all?

A: Oh, yeah.

Q: How well do you know Ogletree?

A: I know him a little bit, not too much. He was a little bit before my time. But I know he’s a legend, at Georgia especially.

Q: So, now you get to play with Ogletree, right?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Did you visit with the Giants during the Draft process?

A: I didn’t get a chance to make a visit up there, I was a little bit busy. But I talked to the Giants, I had a chance to visit with them at the Combine and I enjoyed it. The combine is crazy, as you guys know. So, it was a fast, very fast visit.

Q: How much of a pass rusher are you?

A: I guess we’ll see. I feel like I’m an elite pass rusher, but have got to go out there and show it. Looking forward to doing that.

Q: Do you fit into a 3-4 defense better than a 4-3?

A: I feel like I can fit into a lot of systems, especially being at Georgia, doing the things I did. I did some of everything. It wasn’t comfortable at first, it wasn’t what I really wanted to do, I wanted to pass rush. But being in that system, getting a chance to put my foot in the water, do a little bit of everything everywhere, I’m comfortable everywhere now. So, I’m comfortable in any defense. I’m just looking forward to getting there and getting a playbook.

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3rd Round – DT B.J. Hill, 6’3”, 311lbs, 4.99, North Carolina State University

SCOUTING REPORTHill is an average-sized defensive tackle who could project to defense end in the Giants’ 3-4 scheme. He is a quick, athletic player for his size. Hill plays with good leverage and is a tough, disruptive run defender although he can have issues at the point-of-attack. To date, he has not proven to be much of a pass rusher.

SY’56’s Take:

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.

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

Gettleman: Okay, Lorenzo is an edge pass rusher, he’s a solid run player, he’s big, he can run – he has been a very good special teams player at Georgia and he’s going to give us flexibility. He’s going to be an outside player obviously and he’ll give us pass rush in addition to like I said, he’s a pretty darn good run player and he has really good special teams ability. B.J. Hill is an inside powerbroker, defensive tackle. Just like Lorenzo, he’s instinctive, he’s smart. B.J. is a powerful, tough son of a gun and sometimes as a defensive lineman at the college level, you’ll see them in these three-point stances and then you’ll see them in the four- point frog stance, and in the four-point frog stance they’re not going to get any pass rush. But when his hand is in the dirt in the three-point, he showed the ability to get up field, flip his hips and track the guy down, so we’re really pretty pleased. Again, both those guys had second round value for us, so we’re really pleased for that.

Shurmur: Yeah, I don’t have much to add. With Lorenzo, he can really run, he’s got length. As Dave mentioned, he’s a pass rusher, but yet he did a great job of setting the edge. He played his best football in his biggest games and that’s really what showed up and he’s a special teams player, so he’ll have an immediate impact there. But just a big, long guy that’s going to be an edge – you want a couple or three pressure-type players from the edge and he’ll compete for that spot for us. B.J. Hill, he’s tough to block. He’s good against the run, he’s kind of a little bit sneaky getting his pass rush, so we’ll get a little pass rush out of him as well and he played on a really good defensive line. He was a very, very productive guy and I’ll tell you what, when I had him on the phone, I could barely hear him – the people in the background were going absolutely crazy and he was probably as excited as anyone to get up here and get going. So that’s what you’re getting in those guys – two really good defensive players that we’re going to add to the mix, get them out there going and trained up and playing on Sunday.

Q: Getting back to what was said earlier, was getting these two guys about value or need?

Gettleman: Again, the perfect setup is when value meets need and I’ll be honest, we made an attempt to trade up but we couldn’t get anything and we couldn’t get it done. Sometimes patience is a virtue and obviously pass rush can come from a lot of different places, but in the ideal world you don’t need to blitz to get inside pressure. We feel strongly that B.J. Hill has the ability – he’s got things to learn, we’re talking the third round here. He’s got things to learn, but again, I like the way that he’s strong up field and the ability to flip his hips. If a guy can’t flip his hips, he can’t rush the passer unless the guy in front of him falls down.

Q: You mentioned a couple of times that you need to run the ball, stop the run and rush the passer. That is what you did with your first four picks. Is that a coincidence?

Gettleman: Again, I really believe in those three truths, I really do. Running the ball makes your defense better and there is that old saying that I told you guys, a good team runs when they want to and they run when they have to. If you don’t stop the run, you can take your pass rushers and tell them to go home because they’re not going to be able to rush the passer on 2nd-and-3 and 3rd-and-1, it just doesn’t work.

Q: As a former coordinator, did you sense excitement from James Bettcher when you took two defensive guys with these picks?

Shurmur: There was definitely excitement in the room because we had a consensus between the scouts and the coaches of what we thought of these guys and we liked them a great deal, so they were excited that they were available for us to pick. Yeah, we addressed a couple issues. (Hill) is probably the counterpart to Will Hernandez, kind of a gritty, tough guy on the other side of the line and he’s got youth, he’s got health on his side, plays extremely hard and we’re excited to have him.

Gettleman: That game inside between those hog mollies, that is a violent, violent workplace. If those guys aren’t tough, you’ve got no chance, you’ve got no chance and that’s what B.J. – he’s a tough kid just like Hernandez is a tough kid. Lack of toughness inside, it’s going to catch up to you somewhere along the line. At some point in your season, lack of toughness will catch up.

Q: How do you get him on the field with having Snacks at that spot?

Shurmur: Ideally, there will be a rotation there, so they’ll roll through it. I think that’s what you’re seeing now. Whether you play a five-on-the-line front or a lot of the time you’re in a four-man front, you see a rotation and that’s the best way to play our guys. So hopefully when we have good candidates to play those positions we can get a little rotation there that will keep them all fresher throughout the game and then limit their reps throughout the season, so that they can play longer, hopefully into the playoffs.

Gettleman: When I was in Carolina, we had eight guys, just roll them in and out, and the ability to keep those guys fresh is really a terrific thing. It’s one of those deals where you’d like to keep your starters in around 75 percent. You’d like your backups to be good enough to be 35, take away the three, 25 percent instead of 35. That’s the ideal world. You look at what Philly did last year and they were rolling them in and out. What that does and the other thing that is the kind of unseen part of it is that if you’re playing Philadelphia and you’re an offensive lineman, you might see seven different guys in a pass rush situation – those guys better study for those seven different guys or else they’re going to get their fannies beat. Back in the day, you know if we played Dallas, Larry Allen was the left guard and Keith Hamilton was the right tackle and they were going to bang away on each other all day long every game. It’s different now – they’re rolling them in and out and you’re seeing defensive ends playing inside. Look at what we did with Justin (Tuck) in the Super Bowl and what Brandon Graham did for the Eagles this past Super Bowl. You’ve got to understand the rotation and the ability because the other thing that you have to think about and John Fox had a statement, which was kind of interesting – he said, the biggest mismatch in the world is the smaller, quicker defensive tackles against the offensive guard and that’s true, but I’m going tell you right now, if I’m 285 and I’ve got this 325-pounder banging on me all day long and I can’t get a breath, the fourth quarter is going to be owned by the offense.

Q: You guys did a lot of work on Bradley Chubb. When you looked at it the tape, did you notice B.J. Hill?

Shurmur: We go through it four times and watch each guy specifically. I think the important thing is that you want an outstanding front liner at all positions, but you have to develop big body depth on both sides of the line. This is one of those picks, talking about B.J. specifically. Then, you need edge and you need pressure. Edge-type guys. That plays into that third component of getting pressure on the quarterback. Really, look at the Super Bowl. There was, what, 2,000 yards of offense? It came down to one pass rush, knocking the ball out of Brady’s hands. Graham on the guard. That is where the pass rush comes in.

MEDIA Q&A WITH B.J. HILL:

Q: What do you think you bring to the Giants?

A: I think I bring a smart player and a physical [player] who loves to compete with the best of the best. That’s what my dream is, play with the best of the best and compete against them. And I bring hard work. I bring everything to the table. My leadership, just going down the line, I bring it all.

Q: How do you think you fit in a 3-4 defense?

A: I think I fit well in it. I played a little bit of it in college and I think I’ll be fine in the next level as well. So, I don’t think it will bother me at all.

Q: When you played in a 3-4 system in college, were on the nose or in a gap?

A: It was both. I played a lot of nose in college. I played head up on the center most of the time. So, that’s what I played.

Q: Have you talked with former teammate and Broncos first round pick Bradley Chubb the last two days?

A: I haven’t had a chance to call him yet. I’m going to call him in a little bit. We texted a little bit today, earlier today. I told him congratulations last night and he texted me not long ago congratulations. I haven’t had the time to respond to him yet, but we always keep in touch and I’m ready to see my other teammate defensive linemen come off the board too.

Q: Did you know that you sacked Head Coach Pat Shurmur’s son (Kyle) in college?

A: Who did he play for? I did not know that.

Q: Vanderbilt’s quarterback.

A: Oh, that is right, yup. I do remember that, we did talk about that. That did come up not too long ago.

Q: Did you take an official visit to the Giants facility?

A: I did not, I wish I did. But I’m planning on coming up there tomorrow and visiting and meeting the coaches and everybody.

Q: What was your interaction with the Giants in the Draft process?

A: They came down, the D-line coach, I don’t remember when it was, but I met with them at some point. I had so many visits, meeting with the teams and stuff like that. But yeah, I came in contact with them and met them.

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4th Round – QB Kyle Lauletta, 6’2”, 222lbs, 4.83, University of Richmond

SCOUTING REPORTLauletta was a three-year starter who led his conference in passing each of those seasons. Lauletta lacks ideal height, but he’s a well-built quarterback. Lauletta knows how to run an offense, makes smart decisions, is poised, has a quick release, and is an accurate thrower. A good short- to intermediate-passer, Lauletta’s lack of arm strength limits his game outside the hashmarks and down the field. Most pundits see him more as a career back-up than potential NFL starter. MVP of the Senior Bowl.

SY’56’s Take:

Strong Points:

-Quick release, holds it high and has no wasted motion on short throws
-Excellent foot speed and balance, keeps him under control
-Advanced eye-work, can move and manipulate the defense

Weak Points:

-Arm strength is a problem on intermediate throws where the ball needs to be placed into small window
-Too quick to tuck and run
-Deep ball has too much loft

Summary:

Fifth year senior that started for four years. Lauletta wasn’t really on the radar until Senior Bowl week. I thought he did a favor for someone by even getting on to one of the rosters. As the week progressed he was consistently proving to be a really effective short to intermediate passer. The release stood out to me. It was so quick and repeatable and the ball was almost always put on the money. I went back and was able to get 4 of his games in from 2017, 2 from 2016. There is a hole in his power game, as he just can’t put the ball on the rope and his throws outside the hash marks lack zip. But in a system that can hide those issues somewhat, Lauletta does a lot of other things at a high level. I think he is a career backup, but a dependable one that can stay under control and keep things sane.

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

Gettleman: Kyle Lauletta of Richmond. He was just too good of a value to pass up there. He’s got all the stuff – he’s tough, he’s not shy in the pocket, he’s got pocket presence, patience and feel, which, again, those are instinctive things that you can’t teach. He throws a really nice ball, he’s accurate, he’s got a sense of anticipation and timing and the other part is he’s a runner. He’s got legitimate escape dimensions and we’re really pleased about that. He was just too good of a value there for us. We’re really thrilled to get him there. I really expected him to be long gone.

Shurmur: With Kyle, I think Dave said it, we want to develop a good and a solid quarterback culture here. This is a guy that’s a winner. I think there are people that say he doesn’t have enough arm strength. I disagree. I think he’s got all the traits, all the things you’re looking for in a quarterback – he’s tall enough, he’s got good mobility and really arm strength is about fourth on the list. You have to be a good decision-maker, you have to have a sense of timing and you have to throw an accurate ball, which he does. He does all those three things well and he uses his feet to get the ball where he needs to get it and that’s really what I was impressed by – he’s got a good set of legs, he’s tall enough, he’s a winner, he’s got moxie, he’s very competitive and so we’re glad to add him to the group and he’s one of those guys that’s going to come in and compete and be as good as he can be. If at some point he is not the starter, then he is going to do what he can to help the starter be good and that’s what I’m talking about when I say we want a great quarterback room. I’m really thrilled that we could bring him in and try to develop him and see how good he can be.

Q: You talked last week about the balance of long-term and short-term. Is Lauletta a good example of that?

Gettleman: Where we had him on the board, we couldn’t pass up the value. Very honestly and very frankly. I always am. I had a GM send me a text – they wanted to pull the trigger in the second round, but they got into team needs or whatever. At the end of the day, like Pat said, you want a good quarterback culture in the room and I think it’s going to be really healthy. This kid is driven just like Davis is driven and just like Eli is driven and you can’t put a price tag on that. Were we thinking long-term? Yeah, you have to because if you’re not thinking long-term, you always give into that situation where a guy retires or you cut him and you have nobody in line to replace him. You’ve put yourself in a very uncomfortable situation.

Q: Was it always your intention to have three quarterbacks and what does this say about Davis Webb?

Shurmur: Yeah, I think once again to your point, I think it’s good to have three quarterbacks. I think this league and our game is about good quarterback play and I think it’s about development of the quarterbacks. So the longer they’re around you, the longer they can develop in your system. We wanted to go to camp with three and we’ll probably add another one – four quarterbacks — and go through camp that way and then just see where it goes. For a very long time, I was on teams where we would just keep three quarterbacks active. Another model is to have two and one on the practice squad, so we’ll see where it goes. Picking Kyle has less to do about Eli and Davis and more to do about Kyle. We liked the player and we wanted to add him to our team and then just let them compete. The one good thing about quarterbacks is I’ve watched it with my son, they’re always drafting, or in the case of college, they’re always recruiting the guy to replace you, so they’re used to competition. I don’t think you’re going to be a very good quarterback if you don’t look forward to it, so there is competition in the room – Kyle is going to be smart enough to learn everything he can from Eli and Davis and they’ll all try to be as good as they can be and then whoever becomes the starter, the other two guys can help him during the week, so that they can perform at a high level. So that’s a long answer to your question.

Q: But neither Webb nor Lauletta of those guys have taken any regular season snaps. Does that worry you?

Shurmur: No. We put the best guy in there and you can only go with the information that you have. We’ll try to get them as good as they can be within our practice format and then in the preseason and then just see where it takes us. There’s a reason why not all first round draft pick quarterbacks make it and all late round quarterbacks don’t make it. You just put them out there, let them play and see what happens.

Q: How much did the uncertainty of Davis not playing at all last year play into taking Lauletta?

Shurmur: Not at all. Like I said, it was all about Kyle and less about Davis and Eli.

Q: Did his Senior Bowl do something to shoot him up the board for you?

Gettleman: It’s interesting. There is a rule of thumb about All Star games – they can’t hurt you, they can only help you and watching him during the week and watching him play in the game, the cliff note answer is yes. He was impressive and he made some strong throws into tight windows, anticipated things and for me, that’s what really peaked my curiosity. I heard all the stuff about him from the scouts, but after watching that Senior Bowl, I said, ‘We’ve got to dig into him. You guys have to dig into him. There is something here. We just have to figure out what it is.’

Q: Did you see him in a private workout?

Shurmur: Yeah, we had a private with him. The one thing I would add to what Dave would say about his performance is when you see a Senior Bowl setting for a guy that played a lower level of competition, it’s the first time you can see ? competition and see how they perform and he did an excellent job. Again, being a coach, that’s our real first exposure to the players is at the Senior Bowl, so guys that perform well there, as Dave said, a good performance there then all of sudden we dig deeper. We found out there was a lot there that we liked.

Gettleman: When I was in Denver, John Mobley was at Kutztown and he just dominated that level of competition. I saw him play a game and in the second quarter he knocked the kid out, he just whacked him and I said, ‘Okay, I can go home now.’ So he got invited to the Blue-Gray game and played well, handled himself well and then he goes to the Senior Bowl and he steps up again, and that’s what convinced me that he was a first round pick and he had a nice eight, nine-year career.

MEDIA Q&A WITH KYLE LAULETTA:

Q: Did you see the Giants on your radar and what was your emotion when you got the call?

A: They were definitely on my radar. That was actually, the Giants were actually the very first team that I worked out for and Coach (Ryan) Roeder and I, I just feel like I hit it off with him and we connected really well and I was thrilled. Just the mix of emotions, getting that call, I’ve been dreaming about that for a long long time and just to have my whole family here, it was a dream come true.

Q: What are your thoughts on just walking into this quarterback situation?

A: Yeah, I mean obviously Eli has had a heck of a career and Davis, too, and honestly I just want to get in there and just get to know the guys and I believe it’s so important in the NFL to have a strong quarterback room and have a strong relationship with each other. There are so many times where you can help each other out and learn from each other, so first and foremost, I just want to get to know those guys and just get in front of the playbook and like I said, just get to know my teammates and just try to add value to that quarterback room.

Q: A lot of times when a team picks a quarterback, a team looks at you as the quarterback of the future. With Davis already here, is that a little strange for you to have to come in and compete with another guy that’s in a similar situation to you?

A: No, I don’t think so at all. They only have two guys, so they needed a third guy one way or another, and I don’t really look at it like that. Obviously in the NFL, you’re always going to bring guys in and you’re always trying to improve your team and that’s what training camp is for. I’m not really thinking about any of that right now. First and foremost, you’ve just got to get to know the guys and work hard and gain the respect of your teammates, and I’m looking forward to meeting Davis and Eli and I’ve heard a lot of great things. It’s interesting, going to the University of Richmond, there have been quite a few players that have gone to the Giants and they all say great things. Like I said, I’m just excited to get to know the guys and I just couldn’t be happier. I think it’s a great fit and I can’t wait to get started.

Q: Do you come here feeling like you have something to prove?

A: I don’t know. It’s kind of been the story for me my whole career, being doubted and kind of being the underdog. In high school I didn’t have all those big time offers that some of the other guys had and even coming out of college after my senior season, the scouts had me rated lower than I ended up getting picked, but I don’t worry about that. I’ve always been a firm believer in just honestly controlling what you can control and God has a plan and God saw fit that I would land with the New York Giants and I couldn’t be happier. I’m not coming here with something to prove. Obviously I want to compete and give the organization my everything and do my best to improve and be the best version of myself and in the end, that’s really all you can do and I’m just excited. This offseason has been long and especially these past two weeks before the draft just seems to drag on, but once you get that call, it’s just a big sigh of relief and I’m just excited to move in and just get to work and start building those relationships, because in football it’s such a great team sport and that’s the most important thing, is having a unified team and I just want to be a great teammate and help the team out however I can.

Q: What do you think when you hear comparisons to San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz?

A: Well, that’s good company to be compared to. I think obviously the comparison because of the FCS connection. I don’t know, I think maybe my game resembles a little bit more of Garoppolo than Wentz, but two great young players, two smart guys, good people, too. That’s what I’ve heard around the league, is that they’re both great guys with great futures. So, if I’m mentioned in the same breath as those two, I’m thrilled. I’m just excited, like I said. I’m excited to be here and excited to get to work.

Q: Has it sunk in yet, being a teammate to Eli Manning after growing up a fan of his brother, Peyton?

A: You know, it has. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Eli and like I said, having the Richmond connection, a lot of players have over the years, I’ve kept in contact with those guys and they’ve told me about Eli and what a great guy he is and I can’t wait to meet him. Definitely Peyton Manning was one of my idols growing up and I admired his game, but I admired Eli’s game, too, and the fact that he won a Super Bowl and he has the pedigree that he has and the family that he has, I just can’t wait to learn from him and just kind of watch the way he goes about his business and kind of take away anything that I can to help my game out. But it’s awesome. I’ve watched so much NFL football and Eli has done it at a high level for a long time, so can’t wait to get in front of him and just hear what he has to say and just learn.

Q: How would you describe your game?

A: I think, first and foremost, I’m a very accurate passer. I think I understand the game well. I’ve had four offensive coordinators in four years at Richmond. I’ve been exposed to so many different offenses and I think I have good feet, I think I throw the ball on time and just have a good understanding of where to go with the football and throwing it on time and putting it on the money. And I think there’s a lot of hype about sometimes how big you are, or how big your arm is and those sort of things, but Eli’s a perfect example. He’s not the biggest physical specimen in the NFL, but he’s incredibly intelligent, he understands the game and he’s accurate. And if I can model my game around a guy like that, like I said, I’d be absolutely thrilled. So, just excited for the opportunity.

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5th Round – DT R.J. McIntosh, 6’4”, 286lbs, 5.03, University of Miami

SCOUTING REPORTJunior entry. McIntosh is a tall, athletic defensive tackle who could project to defensive end in the Giants’ 3-4 defense. He has a very quick first step, is agile, and will chase in lateral pursuit. Active, hustling play-maker who is able to penetrate into the backfield. McIntosh can have issues at the point-of-attack against the double team. He flashes as a pass rusher.

SY’56’s Take:

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.

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

Gettleman: As far as RJ McIntosh is concerned, he’s an inside player, an inside defensive tackle. You can never have too much power in there. The kid has good power, he’s a good athlete and the other thing is – I talk about pass rush and everybody rolls their eyeballs at me upstairs. He’s got inside pass rush potential and there is stuff going around that he is 285, 290 – he really played at 300 pounds and had some kind of thyroid condition and got a little out of whack, so by the time they put him on the scale he was light. I’m not concerned about that at all. He’s young and he’s got upside, I know you guys hear it all the time, but this kid is athletic, he’s got power and he has the ability to develop into an inside pass rusher.

Shurmur: Not much more to add. I think he can play a three-technique, he can play the critical five-technique for us. He’s developmental in some ways with his body, we feel like he can be a really, really big man and that’s what you’re looking for. He’s got a really good skillset and good traits in terms of movement and he was productive and played well on a really good team, not to mention he’s a high character guy as well. We finished the draft with six guys we all really liked as players, so we feel really good about him being our sixth.

Q: Can you explain where all the defensive tackles will fit?

Gettleman: Let me tell you something, okay? You can never have too many good players at a position. You don’t reach for need. There was one year in Carolina and we came out and we had 11 defensive linemen on the active [roster]. I don’t sit there and say, ‘I’ve got to have two of these, three of these, five of these.’ When we cut to 53, they will be the 53 best players on our football team regardless of position. Regardless. And the reason you want – first of all, you want competition. The fewer guys that you have – guys have got to understand that they’re not on scholarship anymore. You’ve got to earn your spot. And you don’t want anybody to feel like all they’ve got to do is show up, breathe, get their cleats on properly and not fall down getting out of the tunnel. The more competition, the better. You cannot have too many good players at a position. Whether it’s defensive tackle, quarterback, o-line, I don’t care. And the other thing you’ve got to understand is, the problem you get into, and I’ve seen it a number of times, you have a really good 11 or 12 guys and you don’t have quality depth behind them. What happens is the coaches, and rightly so, don’t want to put in the backups that aren’t very good. Okay? So, what happens is, guys end up playing 95-98 percent. In the fourth quarter, their tongues are hanging out. They are gassed. Let me tell you something right now, you see teams that consistently blow fourth quarter leads. Obviously that’s on the defense. I promise you they’ve got no depth. They’ve got no depth. You have to have quality depth. This is not about here or here, here, here. And I’ll tell you this: you’ve got a powerful defensive line and you can get pressure with four, you and I can play back there.

MEDIA Q&A WITH MCINTOSH:

Q: Are you going to bring University of Miami’s ‘turnover chain’ with you to the Giants?

A: I wish I could [laughs].

Q: Do you think the Giants are a good fit for you?

A: Yeah, definitely. I think it’s a great fit. I think especially with the history of the D-line they have there and the players who are there. Definitely, a great fit.

Q: How would you describe your game?

A: I think I’m a good player, I’m a quick player off the ball. I’m a hard worker and I think the New York Giants just got a great player. I’m ready to work.

Q: You’ve played both 3-4 tackle and end at Miami, right?

A: Yes, my first year I played at end and my sophomore and junior years, I played D-tackle.

Q: Do you know defensive end Olivier Vernon at all?

A: Not much. I’m sure I will get to know him a little bit more.

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Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports

RB Robert Martin, 5’11”, 207lbs, 4.67, Rutgers University

WR Jawill Davis, 6’0”, 191lbs, 4.43, Bethune-Cookman University
Davis is an average-sized receiver. He is a very good athlete with excellent speed.

H-Back Garrett Dickerson, 6’2”, 244lbs, 4.79, Northwestern University
Dickerson is a versatile player who can play a variety of positions including tight end, fullback, and H-Back.

TE Stephen Baggett, 6’5”, 251lbs, 4.90, ECU
Baggett started just 17 games in college with 23 career receptions.

OC Evan Brown, 6’2”, 302lbs, 4.97, SMU
Brown is a versatile player with experience at guard and center. He lacks ideal size and athleticism, but Brown is an aggressive, fundamentally sound and consistent player. Better in-line, he is not adept blocking on the move.

OG/OT Nick Gates, 6’5”, 295lbs, 5.48, University of Nebraska
Gates played tackle in college but could project to guard in the NFL. Gates is a tough, durable lineman with decent overall athleticism. He plays with good fundamentals and a bit of a nasty attitude. Gates is a better pass protecter than run blocker. He can have issues anchoring against power and needs to get stronger.

OT Tyler Howell, 6’8”, 300lbs, 5.32, University of Missouri
Howell is a huge lineman with good quickness for his size. He has had issues with his leverage and balance.

DT Tyrell Chavis, 6’3”, 305lbs, 5.33, Penn State University

LB Tae Davis, 6’1”, 220lbs, 4.78, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Davis is a special teams standout who has experience at both safety and outside linebacker.

CB Aaron Davis, 5’11”, 194lbs, 4.54, University Georgia
Davis is a decent-sized corner who lacks ideal speed. Smart player and team leader.

CB Grant Haley, 5’9”, 185lbs, 4.43, Penn State University
Haley is a short, but well-built corner with good speed and agility. He has experience playing both outside and the slot nickel positions. So-so ball skills.

CB Bryon Fields, 5’11”, 180lbs, 4.51, Duke University
Fields played in 52 games with 39 starts in college, where he also was a team captain.

CB Mike Jones, 5’9”, 18lbs, 4.72, Temple University

S Sean Chandler, 5’11”, 195lbs, 4.66, Temple University
Chandler is a short, but well-built safety who has experience at slot cornerback. He is tough, physical, and aggressive against the run. Chandler lacks speed which hurts his range and ability to stick with receivers down the field. Better covering underneath routes. Good special teams player.

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Eric’s Take on the 2018 Draft

For better or worse, the 2018 NFL Draft will likely go down as one of the most important in franchise history. The last time the Giants had a top four pick was 2004 (Eli Manning trade) and the last time the team had a top two pick was 1981 (Lawrence Taylor). We’re talking about two New York Giants legends who changed the course of the team’s direction.

Hamstrung by a series of dreadful drafts since 2011 that culminated in one of the worst seasons in team history, new general manager Dave Gettleman was in position to make another rare franchise-altering decision. The options appeared obvious: (1) select the widely-regarded best and safest pick (Saquon Barkley), (2) use a rare opportunity to select a “franchise” quarterback in the twilight of Eli’s career, or (3) trade down and accumulate much-needed draft picks to address the talent issues all over the roster.

Gettleman chose Barkley. It will likely be the biggest decision of Gettleman’s long professional career and the one he will be ultimately judged on. In some ways, it was the safe pick in that Barkley is the least likely to be a bust and most likely to be a star. In other ways, it was incredibly risky. Gettleman could have easily defended a decision to select Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen. While he would have taken more flak for doing so, he could have also rationally defended trading down to accumulate more picks. Gettleman admitted on ESPN Radio that he has one very reasonable offer to trade down. We obviously have the benefit of hindsight, but with Rosen falling to the 10th spot, the Giants probably surrendered an opportunity to draft Rosen AND accumulate picks. (In other words, a super-attractive combination of options #2 and #3).

The NFL is a passing league. To many, drafting a running back with the #2 pick when your current starting quarterback appears to be nearing the end is short-sighted and a luxury a 3-13 team can’t afford. From here on out, the careers of Barkley, Darnold, and Rosen will be compared… especially with Darnold playing in the same stadium. Gettleman knew this and didn’t care. I give him credit for sticking with his conviction that Barkley was simply the better player. I personally would have traded down. I wanted to fall in love with one of the quarterbacks at #2, but I just couldn’t. It would have been more tolerable to trade down and draft Bradley Chubb, Quenton Nelson, or then take a chance on Rosen or one of the other quarterbacks – and get some more premium picks.

That all said, I’m thrilled Saquon Barkley is a New York Giant. Even back in February when I was advocating for the Giants to take a quarterback, I posted how amazing it would be to have Barkley on the field together with Odell Beckham. I took some criticism when I said I had never seen a running back with Barkley’s skill set. He doesn’t remind me of any other back I’ve ever seen. Right or wrong, Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur said the same thing immediately after Barkley was selected on Thursday. Barkley has ideal size and speed. We’re talking perfect. Moreover, his vision, elusiveness, and balance are all first rate. And many fans failed to take into account how much of a factor Barkley will be in the passing game. Barkley has natural hands and can used on routes DOWN THE FIELD, not just short passes out of the backfield. Barkley is a threat to score EVERY TIME he touches the football. Period. There are not too many people in the NFL you can say that about. Beyond all of this, Barkley appears to be the poster boy of the type of character you want in your locker room. He’s polite, well-spoken, confident, humble, team-oriented. He’s good and he knows it. But he doesn’t need to advertise it. Old school.

Everyone expected the Giants to draft an offensive lineman in the second round given the Giants needs and the available talent in this particular draft. Many Giants fans were pining for Will Hernandez and the Giants did not disappoint them. Gettleman said the team had a 1st-round grade on Hernandez and I believe him. Hernandez is the type of guard the Giants have missed since Chris Snee was in his prime. He’s a road grader with an attitude. And his pass protection may be vastly underrated. At the Senior Bowl practices, Hernandez simply stonewalled pass rushers. Hernandez was the obvious choice with the #2 pick. He will be a very important part of the attempt to rebuild an offensive line that has been in disarray since 2011.

After the first two rounds, the Giants spent three of their last four picks addressing the front seven of the defense. Gettleman said the Giants had 2nd-round grades on both 3rd-round picks: linebacker Lorenzo Carter and defensive tackle/end B.J. Hill. In fact, Gettleman said the Giants tried to trade up for Carter and was glad he didn’t have to. Carter is further proof the Giants appear to moving more to a 3-4 defense as his skill set seems better suited for that system. Carter has the tools and flashes big-time ability, but the consistent production wasn’t there in college. That’s a bit of a red flag as the NFL graveyard is littered with players with tremendous potential who simply couldn’t make enough plays. Carter is probably the boom-or-bust pick of this Giants’ draft.

Some fans asked why the team drafted two defensive tackles. While the Giants are not going to play a traditional 2-gap 3-4 defense, athletic 4-3 defensive tackles can convert to defensive end in a one-gap 3-4 defense. My guess is that the Giants see Hill as flexible enough to play some nose tackle (in a 3-man front), some defensive tackle (in a 4-man front), and some defensive end (in a 3-man front). I think they see R.J. McIntosh as a defensive tackle (in a 4-man front) and a defensive end (in a 3-man front). Beyond all of this, look at the Giants depth chart. Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson were the only givens. Everyone else is a question mark. And depth was non-existent. If you don’t have the horses up front on both offense and defense, you can’t be a tough and physical football team. Hill is a run-stuffing plugger in the Linval Joseph/Jonathan Hankins/Dalvin Tomlinson mold. A front with him, Harrison, and Tomlinson should be very difficult to run against. McIntosh is more of play-making penetrator. I would expect to see him used more situationally. Regardless, it is good to see the Giants address the front seven. Trenches…trenches…trenches.

Lastly, we come to Kyle Lauletta. At least at first, most Giants fans didn’t like this pick. Those arguing for a quarterback in round one should not have a problem with the Giants taking a quarterback later in the draft. The team need was still there. And while the likelihood is much higher for a 1st-round quarterback to out-perform a 4th-round quarterback, it’s not a given. And the selection had nothing to do with Davis Webb. Best case scenario for the Giants is that Eli Manning rebounds in a big way and plays a few more years at a very high level for the team. Worst case scenario is that Eli continues his 2-year decline and it becomes increasingly apparent that he is a liability rather than an asset. In either case, the Giants need to groom someone behind him. It might be Davis. It might be Lauletta. It might be someone not on the roster yet. But the grooming process has officially begun and the Giants now have two options, instead of one. Reading between the lines, Shurmur really liked what he saw of Lauletta at the Senior Bowl, where he was MVP. Shurmur said he doesn’t consider arm strength as important as most others do. Only time will tell whether Lauletta is an NFL starter or just a career back-up.

I always tend to be optimistic after the draft. If you can’t be happy after the NFL’s version of Christmas, I’m not sure why you follow football. On the surface, this looks like a strong draft with a focus on the trenches. Barring injury, Barkley is likely to be a superstar and perhaps even surpass Odell Beckham as the face of the franchise. Hernandez was a no brainer. Carter is the boom-or-bust pick. But he and the two defensive tackles are pretty much universally regarded as value picks where the Giants drafted them. All three will be important in reshaping the defense to the hybrid 3-4/4-3. Lauletta? What an amazing draft this could be if he ends up being a legitimate NFL starter! We’ll see. If he’s just back-up material, taking him high in the 4th round was a mistake.

Ultimately, Barkley will be compared with Darnold and Rosen. And many eyes will also be on Webb and Lauletta given Eli’s age and recent play. For those who are still fuming over not taking a quarterback, the following comment by Gettleman was very telling. To me – right or wrong – it means that the Giants simply did not think the quarterbacks were as good as other people did.

If you have to try to make yourself fall in love with a player, it is wrong. You will never be happy with the pick… At the end of the day, you shouldn’t have to talk yourself into a guy. If you talk yourself into a guy, you are making a mistake.

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Apr 232018
 
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Josh Rosen, UCLA Bruins (November 18, 2017)

Josh Rosen – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Quarterbacks

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

1 – Josh Rosen – UCLA

Grade: 89

Strong Points

-Knows and understands the game inside and out, very intelligent on the field
-Advanced footwork and release, consistent mechanics
-Excels at passes within the intermediate range

Weak Points:

-Deep ball accuracy is inconsistent
-Slight frame plus concussion issues plus tennis background causes for some durability concern
-Doesn’t pose much of a threat as a passer on the move

Summary:

Junior entry. Has had the look of a pro passer since his freshman season. The 3 year career at UCLA didn’t pan out the way many were hoping for, but it can’t be pinned on him. His supporting cast was dreadful. The pass catchers dropped more balls than any of the other QBs in this top-of-the-draft discussion, there was no running game to lean on, and the offensive line was very leaky up the middle. With all of that, Rosen still threw for 9,342 yards and 59 touchdowns. One red flag, however, is that he missed 8 games over the past 2 years with various injuries. And another nugget here is that more teams are fearful of his knees not holding up, as that is a consistent occurrence with tennis players when they get in to their late 20’s-early 30’s. Rosen was a big time tennis player in his teen years, so it is something to consider.

Here is something I am confident can be put to bed. Rosen is not a character risk. He is not going to be an issue with the media, he is not going to be a problem with the coaches and players. He is not going to be a problem socially. This kid knows more about football than a lot of current professionals. He studies it hard, practices hard, and was head and shoulders on another level than his teammates mentally and physically. If you could guarantee be Rosen can stay on the field, his grade would be 90+, elite. NYG could be the perfect spot for him as it will allow him to add bulk to his frame for a year or two, use his intelligence to pick up the schemes and tendencies of the NFL, and be ready to rock in 2019 or 2020. During that time, you let Davis Webb handle backup duties and if he proves to be a solid player, you have a very good problem on your hands, one that several teams will pay up for.

NFL Comparison: Matt Ryan / ATL

2 – Baker Mayfield – Oklahoma

Grade: 86

Strong Points:

-Brings a level of charisma, confidence, and swagger to a team that is rare
-Accuracy is on point through all levels of the defense
-Maintains his eyes downfield and arm ability on the move to both sides

Weak Points:

-Gets antsy in a crowded pocket, will lose track of mechanics
-Lacks the desired size of an NFL passer and he over-strides in addition, making him shorter
-Hasn’t proven he can handle adversity

Summary:

A record setting quarterback that started off as a walk on at Texas Tech, losing his job to none other than Davis Webb. Talk about a potential complete 180 degree turn. Mayfield transferred to Oklahoma, won over the staff, and never looked back over his 3 years as starter. He ended his career with a Heisman Trophy-earning performance in addition to re-writing the OU record books. Mayfield threw for 119 TDs /21 INTs and an amazing 12,296 yards in his 3 years with the Sooners.

I was split on Mayfield and Rosen for a long time. I would be equally excited about either, but Mayfield carries more risk. His competitive spirit and on-field bad boy image can be viewed as both good and bad. I actually think it makes him a better player, as he is constantly trying to prove himself and his worth. He is hungry to win, hungry to succeed. It is actually a refreshing thing to watch these days, to be honest. However my fear is this: How will he act when a stadium starts to boo him? The team around him is falling apart, guys are chirping to the media, coaches throw him under the bus. Can he handle that? Honestly, I’m not sure. And having that at QB would scare the hell out of me. Talent and ability, however, he has it. I rarely give a second thought about his height. It is not ideal but the way you can manipulate an offense with playaction and rollouts, Mayfield’s height won’t be a major factor. This kid is a winner and will out-kick his coverage when it comes to overall talent.

NFL Comparison: Russell Wilson / SEA

3 – Sam Darnold – USC – 6’3/221

Grade: 81

Strong Points:

-Makes things happen with his feet, dangerous on the move
-Has the demeanor and presence you want in high pressure situations and games
-Excellent touch between layers of the defense

Weak Points:

-Gets too hoppy in the pocket, rushes in to decisions without lining up mechanics
-Has a hard time reading the entire defense
-Doesn’t protect the ball

Summary:

A 2 year starter that came in to the 2017 season as the poster boy of this draft class. After a 9 game run in 2016 that was capped off with one of the best Rose Bowl performances in history, Darnold had everyone thinking he was the next big thing. Maybe expectations were unfairly high, maybe not. But truth of the matter is, his 2017 season was nowhere near those expectations. He turned the ball over 24 times, most in the nation. Every time you thought he was turning a corner, he put up another head scratching performance. It was a year that created more questions than answers.

Darnold is still generally considered the top quarterback in this class among people I have spoken to and the media. The thought here is that if he can learn to play within himself, read defenses, and make his mechanics more consistent, he has the goods. Those are all correctable issues. Some of what people don’t like about him is what evaluators were nervous about with Eli Manning. Another parallel there is they both seem to rise to the occasion in big games/moments. I do like Darnold, just not enough to use a top 5 pick on him and not enough to take him in front of Mayfield or Rosen. There is a lot of boom and bust. His ability to create on his own his a big deal. His calm demeanor can be a big help. I just hated to see a lack of progress over his 2 year career. He didn’t get better and if anything, he got worse as time went on. If NYG brings him in, he can sit a year and not be rushed which would be in his best interest. However his issues need to be ironed out playing, not sitting. I think there are better situations for him than NYG and I still expect him to go #1 overall, anyway.

NFL Comparison: Andy Dalton / CIN

4 – Lamar Jackson – Louisville – 6’2/216

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Elite level explosion and speed in the open field
-Quick release, can reach his top arm strength with a flick of the wrist
-Shows nice touch on intermediate-to-deep throws

Weak Points:

-Erratic accuracy, fails to hit his target on simple throws too often
-Too quick to tuck the ball and scramble without his eyes downfield
-Poor lower body usage and mechanics when throwing

Summary:

Junior entry. Three year starter that had his coming out party in 2016, winning pretty much every piece of individual hardware a quarterback can, including the Heisman. Production is off the charts here with Jackson. He is the first player in history to amass 3,000 yards passing AND 1,000 yards rushing two consecutive years. In a league where putting points on the board is an absolute must, Jackson is walking away from a two year run that saw him score an amazing 95 touchdowns. There are some character red flags and overall shortcomings as a passer that need to be overcome, but there is no denying how dangerous this player can be.

Jackson is an athlete first, runner second, and passer third. If I want to be simple and blunt, that pretty much doesn’t work in the NFL. His ability to run with the ball does and always will strike fear in to opposing defenses. His presence on the field alone will make them adjust, it will make them uncomfortable. He is one of those rare players that doesn’t have a cap to his speed. He is simply faster than the guy chasing him, end of story. Jackson, however, has a ways to go as a passer. He struggles to make multiple reads and progressions, his lower body is as inconsistent as it gets, and he doesn’t keep his eyes downfield while he is on the move. If he takes just half the hits in the NFL that he did in college volume wise, his career won’t be long. The body type isn’t there. Jackson’s only option is to improve mightily as a passer and it will take a ton of time and work. I don’t have a ton of access or inside information, but there have been things said that worry me when it comes to how much he is going to try and change his game at the next level. He is not Mike Vick. Even more, he is nowhere near Mike Vick.

NFL Comparison: Robert Griffin III / BAL

5 – Josh Allen – Wyoming – 6’5/237

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Has a cannon for an arm, rare power that comes easy
-Has the ideal frame for the position, can take hits and keep moving, tough to bring down
-Excellent downfield passer on the move

Weak Points:

-Struggles to consistently put the ball where he needs to
-Doesn’t have the proper touch on throws between layers
-Played his worst football against his toughest competition, by far

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. After a lightly recruited high school career, Allen spent a season in community college before being recruited to Wyoming, home of Carson Wentz’s former college coach. After breaking his collar bone in 2015, Allen finally hit his groove at the FBS level as a redshirt sophomore in 2016. His performances were very up and down but there was no denying the ceiling his talent presented. Allen entered 2017 as one of the darkhorses to overtake the top spot on the QB stack, however we simply saw more of the same. He missed two more games with a shoulder injury but did return for their bowl game, throwing 3 touchdowns against Central Michigan.

Allen earned a day 2 grade on my sheet. By no means does that mean I have the “Do Not Touch” label on him, but the thought of using a top 5 overall selection here is too risky for me. Allen has a long ways to go and lacks a lot of passer-traits that are essential to consistent QB success in the NFL. When the first, second, and third things people say about Allen all have to do with how far he can throw the ball, or how much velocity he can put on it, it is an immediate red flag to me. He has failed to show the ability to put touch on the ball up the seam between levels of the defense. He doesn’t look comfortable in the pocket either. His footwork is very sloppy and it causes a lot of erratic throws on what should be simple gains. I also didn’t like how he carried himself during games where he struggled. Just didn’t scream “leader” to me. And the last glaring stat that I can’t seem to get out of my head: In 2017 he played against 5 teams that finished with winning records. His combined stats in those games? 65 for 130 (50%) – 661 yards – 4 TD – 5 INT. One more…in 2016/2017 combined he played against 3 opponents from power 5 conferences. His stats in those games: 48 for 96 (50%) – 427 yards – 1 TD – 8 INT. Not exactly someone that brings his best against the best, and that is not a small sample size.

NFL Comparison – Ben Roethlisberger / PIT

6 – Kurt Benkert – Virginia – 6’3/218

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Quick and violent, but controlled release, gets a lot of zip on the ball
-Excels at downfield passing, proper blend of touch and accuracy
-Confident risk taker, won’t second guess himself

Weak Points:

-Struggles to maintain his poise and presence when pressured
-Too many turnover-prone mistakes against the blitz
-Loses accuracy and awareness on the move

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Began his career at East Carolina. Was the backup after his redshirt year before winning the job in 2015. He was injured before the season began, however and when he didn’t get the starting gig back, he left for Virginia as a graduate transfer. He then spent 2 years with the Cavaliers and got off to a hot start, setting some all time single season records. Benkert went on to start all but 1 game over 2 years, throwing 46 TDs and 20 INTs. When things are comfortable for him, his release looks good and there are plenty of pro-caliber throws in his arsenal. He has had several stretches that scream upside but the consistency issues against pressure were a constant. He just couldn’t seem to overcome his loss of mechanics and decision making when the pocket got dirty. Benkert has some impressive tools and natural arm talent to work with, but I don’t see more than backup-caliber potential.

NFL Comparison: Mark Sanchez / UFA

7 – Mason Rudolph – Oklahoma State – 6’5/235

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Stands tall in the pocket, confident in making reads
-Has the body to take hits and keep getting up
-Productive downfield passer

Weak Points:

-Very immobile both in and out of the pocket
-Needs to drive the ball, almost puts too much air under the downfield pass
-Doesn’t feel pressure in the pocket, needs more awareness

Summary:

An accomplished collegiate passer that threw for 86 TDs over the past three years. He actually received some Heisman talk in 2017, leading the nation with 377 yards per game and 37 touchdowns. Rudolph comes from a spread attack that never saw him call plays from a huddle of handle snaps under center. While that has become more and more common with kids coming out of college, he will still have a lot of footwork-based adjustments to make. Rudolph is a very stiff athlete, he moves like a 35 yard old veteran already. While that just isn’t his game in general, he does look way too immobile in the pocket. He has heavy feet and struggles to evade any sort of pressure when his quick read isn’t there. Rudolph doesn’t show a ton of zip on his passes and there is too much loft on his deep ball. He got away with a lot in college that he simply will not at the next level. I think he is a career backup but one that will be around for a long time. He is a top notch kid that has some “extra coach” in him.

NFL Comparison: Derek Anderson / CAR

8 – JT Barrett – Ohio State – 6’1/224

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Physically and mentally tough, keeps his head in pressure situations
-Anticipates throwing lanes and gets the ball out
-Still a passer when he is on the move

Weak Points:

-Lacks the desired ideal size
-Too often struggles to make the simple throws
-Makes too many incorrect reads against complex schemes

Summary:

Fifth year senior. The only 3 time team captain in Ohio State history. Unreal production over his career as both a passer and runner. Barrett took over for an injured Braxton Miller, lost his job to Cardale Jones, then took back the job and left the program with several all time school records. I don’t see Barrett as being a guy you want driving the bus, but I think he will be one of those invaluable backups in the league. He has top notch intangibles and I think he can make things happen in a pinch. His arm talent is very limited, but there are other parts to his game that can make things happen. He is a legit day 3 option for the purpose of having a long term backup locked in for years.

NFL Comparison: Blaine Gabbert / TEN

9 – Chase Litton – Marshall – 6’5/232

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Big and powerful arm, full body engagement
-Maintains accuracy on the move
-Excels with short area touch throws

Weak Points:

-Lacks innovation and confidence when forced to adjust on the fly
-Turnover prone
-Front leg gets stiff and will force errant throws

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. Three year starter with tools and a few stretches of quality tape. Litton has the look. He is big and strong, he can rifle the ball in to tight windows, and he has a really clean release. When he’s on, there is a level of touch and accuracy to his throws that make you raise your eyebrows. What is frustrating wit him, however, is the lack of consistency as a decision maker. He isn’t very calm, cool, or collected when the pocket gets crowded. I’m not sure he is a kid that really understands defensive schemes and tendencies. He is a certainly a developmental prospect but I think his upside is higher than most of the names in this tier.

NFL Comparison: Tom Savage / NO

10 – Kyle Lauletta – Richmond – 6’3/222

Grade: 73

Strong Points:

-Quick release, holds it high and has no wasted motion on short throws
-Excellent foot speed and balance, keeps him under control
-Advanced eye-work, can move and manipulate the defense

Weak Points:

-Arm strength is a problem on intermediate throws where the ball needs to be placed into small window
-Too quick to tuck and run
-Deep ball has too much loft

Summary:

Fifth year senior that started for four years. Lauletta wasn’t really on the radar until Senior Bowl week. I thought he did a favor for someone by even getting on to one of the rosters. As the week progressed he was consistently proving to be a really effective short to intermediate passer. The release stood out to me. It was so quick and repeatable and the ball was almost always put on the money. I went back and was able to get 4 of his games in from 2017, 2 from 2016. There is a hole in his power game, as he just can’t put the ball on the rope and his throws outside the hash marks lack zip. But in a system that can hide those issues somewhat, Lauletta does a lot of other things at a high level. I think he is a career backup, but a dependable one that can stay under control and keep things sane.

NFL Comparison: Case Keenum / DEN

11 – Nic Shimonek – Texas Tech – 6’3/225

Grade: 71

Strong Points:

-Powerful arm, puts the ball on a rope
-Maintains his level of accuracy on the move
-Tough minded, stands tall in the pocket and will take on pressure situations

Weak Points:

-Erratic on intermediate throws
-Doesn’t put enough touch on the ball
-Needs more situational awareness

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Began his career at Iowa but quickly transferred to Texas Tech. Was a backup until 2017. Shimonek doesn’t have a ton of experience as a starter but there are tools here to work with. For those that like Josh Allen and the arm talent based ceiling, Shimonek could be your day 3 backup plan. He can really wing it and has made several deep throws that make you want to look twice. Shimonek was in and out of the lineup under Kliff Kingsbury, who is slowly stating to lose his status in college football. He is a tough kid that can leave the negative thoughts out, a very important mental trait.

NFL Comparison: Nick Foles / PHI

12 – Mike White – Western Kentucky – 6’5/224

Grade: 70

Strong Points:

-Has plus accuracy, consistently puts the ball where it needs to be
-Calm and cool, stays under control at all times
-Understands his own arm strength and will anticipate his windows well

Weak Points:

-Needs more consistent power on his throws
-Lacks the athletic ability and feel in the pocket to avoid pressure
-Too quick to tuck the ball when his initial target is covered

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Began his career at South Florida where he had a pretty poor 2 year run. He transferred to Western Kentucky and started for 2 more years. The wide open offense enabled him to produce some gaudy stats but there is more to him than that. White is a really talented thrower. He has enough arm strength to make all the throws but he doesn’t use it enough. He has almost gotten too used to trying to place and drop the ball in to buckets rather than firing it in there. White will also have a ways to go when it comes to making reads and working through progressions from the pocket, but there is arm talent here that most in this class don’t have.

NFL Comparison: AJ McCarron / BUF

13 – Luke Falk – Washington State – 6’4/215

Grade: 70

Strong Points:

-Touch thrower, high success rate on throws to all levels
-Tough in the pocket, stares pressure in the pocket
-Accurate passer on the move

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t have the arm strength to drive the ball in to tight windows
-Needs more mass on his frame
-Loses track of footwork when moving within the pocket

Summary:

Fifth year senior with 3 years of starting experience. Left Washington State with a handful of career passing records in Pac 12 history. After a couple years of excellent production in the Mike Leach scheme, Falk was on the radar for being a 1st round pick at the beginning of the season. I never saw it, however. He does control the system and himself very well in addition to being a very accurate passer. Against college defenses, a guy like this can really dominate and that, he did. But when looking for QB traits when it comes to pocket movement, reading defenses, and firing the ball in to tight windows, he has too many negatives for me to think he can ever be a starter.

NFL Comparison: David Fales / MIA

14 – Alex McGough – Florida International – 6’3/214

Grade: 69

Strong Points:

-Extends the play consistently, keeps his eyes downfield
-Dangerous thrower on the move, a lot of zip on the ball when he is rolling out
-Experienced and smart, understands how to read defenses

Weak Points:

-Coming from a lower level of college football, slower defenses and less complexity
-Lacks success and accuracy as a downfield passer
-Has struggled in poor weather

Summary:

Four year starter. I’ve been told McGough has had some of the more impressive visits with coaches and teams when it comes to whiteboard talk. Very smart and advanced football IQ. McGough occasionally made plays that most guys in this class haven’t, plain and simple. Really innovative with the ball in his hands against pressure and he makes the difficult, athletic throw look natural. He didn’t have to make a ton of deep throws, however. He needs to show he can be more of a downfield passer but who knows what will happen once he is put in to a more sophisticated situation. He is worth a shot in the dark.

NFL Comparison: Kevin Hogan / WAS

15 – Riley Ferguson – Memphis – 6’3/212 – GRADE: 68

Grade: 67

Strong Points:

-Gunslinger mentality, consistently puts the necessary zip on the ball
-Excellent thrower on the move, especially rolling out to the left
-Steps up in to the pocket, will complete difficult throws

Weak Points:

-Frail looking frame
-Release gets long
-Too reliant on arm talent, doesn’t engage his lower body enough

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Began his career at Tennessee. After battling a leg injury and losing the quarterback competition job to Josh Dobbs, Ferguson walked away from the game. He lost his passion for a year but ended up starting from the bottom at a community college in 2015. Memphis took notice and he took over the starting gig once Paxton Lynch left for the NFL. He had a really nice 2-year run. Ferguson has matured and comes in to the draft with one of the most “sling it” mentalities in the class. He is a hard nosed player with good arm talent but has a long ways to go mechanically and schematically.

NFL Comparison: Austin Davis / SEA

16 – Tanner Lee – Nebraska – 6’4/212 – GRADE: 68
17 – Brandon Silvers – Troy – 6’2/220 – GRADE: 68
18 – Matt Linehan – Idaho – 6’3/230 – GRADE: 68
19 – Logan Woodside – Toledo – 6’1/201 – GRADE: 65
20 – Danny Etling – LSU – 6’2/215 – 6’2/215 – GRADE: 64

NYG APPROACH

From day one, I’ve said this team needs to go QB at #2 overall if, and only if, they have a guy that meets the grade. This team has rightfully committed to Eli Manning for at least another year (I think it will be 2) but John Mara has said multiple times that he loved how GB passed the torch from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers, whom sat for 3 years prior to taking over as the starter. I can see that being the case with a QB here and even though the immediate dividends wouldn’t exist, it would be the best long term move for the organization.

Now, if the coin flip between a QB and Barkley lands in favor of former, who will it be? I can’t imagine anyone in those walls being convinced Josh Allen is the guy and Baker Mayfield has had too many immaturity-based issues for me to think he is the next NYG franchise guy. I think it comes down to Darnold vs. Rosen if both are available. If CLE goes with one of them at #1, the decision is obviously much easier. Darnold has more Eli in him when it comes to personality But after his career, does NYG really want that along with the turnovers? I hope not. Rosen is a perfect fit for the situation here. He will be able to learn the offense inside and out (and you know he will) in addition to building up his body and also allowing Davis Webb to build up his resume to impress the league via preseason play. If Rosen checks out medically, it could be a homerun pick and one that I support fully.

But here we are, months after the debate started. Rosen vs Barkley. And we aren’t any closer to a consensus than we were back then. It is a good problem to have, as I think both would be excellent choices.

Apr 172018
 
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Derwin James, Florida State Seminoles (September 23, 2017)

Derwin James – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Safeties

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

1 – Derwin James – Florida State – 6’2/215

Grade: 90

Strong Points:

-Rare blend of size and speed to go with natural instincts
-Can be put in t multiple roles
-Downhill force that has legit sideline to sideline range in pursuit

Weak Points:

-Long legged which can make it difficult for him to fluidly change direction
-Flipping his hips doesn’t come natural for him
-Too often goes for knockout punch and won’t wrap up

Summary:

Junior entry. Missed almost all of 2016 with a knee injury. After watching him in 2015, I thought this kid would be the next Sean Taylor and that is a comparison I have ever really used before. Such a rare blend of tools and showed the knack to make plays all over the field The versatility he offers is unmatched and if the right defensive coordinator gets his hands on him, watch out. There are some movement issues in coverage however. I’m not sure I would fully trust him in deep coverage against receivers but that can be hidden a bit. He is an elite prospect.

NFL Comparison: Reshad Jones / MIA

2 – Minkah Fitzpatrick – Alabama – 6’0/204

Grade: 87

Strong Points:

-Versatility is through the roof, can credibly play any role in the secondary
-Pursues the action all over the field with proper angles and explosion
-Elite physical presence, really aggressive

Weak Points:

-More of a reaction player, doesn’t show natural flow in coverage
-Hips get stiff in man coverage
-Will over pursue and be susceptible to cutbacks

Summary:

Junior entry. Has been a three year contributor/starter for the best defense in college football. Fitzpatrick is known as “Nick Saban’s Son” on campus. His intangibles are top notch and they are paired with talent that is NFL ready right now. Some teams may view him as an outside corner while others see a nickel corner and safety. He could play anywhere in the secondary. Sometimes those players can be dangerous, however. His game still looks raw at times because there may not have been enough attention on specific skill sets. I think his best role is a safety that can spend most of his time near the line of scrimmage but will have no issues in coverage. Get this guy on the field and he will improve the defense right away.

NFL Comparison: Malcolm Jenkins / PHI

3 – Armani Watts – Texas A& M – 5’10/202

Grade: 80

Strong Points:

-Excels in both man and zone coverage when it comes to instincts and reaction speed
-Plays fast with his head on a swivel, easily alters his plans
-High level of production all four years

Weak Points

-Size and long speed are below average
-Too many missed tackles, needs more consistent technique
-Too much of an all or nothing approach

Summary:

Four year starter that has had some issues staying healthy over his career. At his size, durability is a concern at the next level and it did impact his grade a bit. Watts ended his career making a few All American teams. For some time, Watts was my favorite pure cover safety in the class. He has the instincts, easy moving lower half, and ball skills to be a major factor. The size is an issue, as is the inconsistent tackling style, but I still think he is a difference maker. His intangibles are top notch and the weaknesses in his game will be worked on. He is worth the gamble because this kid is going to make plays.

NFL Comparison: Jimmie Ward / SF

4 – Ronnie Harrison – Alabama -6’2/207

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Can change the outlook of a secondary week 1 with his bone jarring hits
-Rangy tackler that uses size and speed effectively
-Can plant his foot and burst, breaks on the ball and ball carrier in a blink

Weak Points:

-High hipped and stiff, not a good change of direction cover man
-Long speed and catch up speed are suspect
-Over pursues to the sideline, needs to contain his aggression

Summary:

Junior entry. 2 year starter that has led the Alabama defense over the past 2 years combined. The enforcer of the secondary, perhaps even the defense as a whole. Big time power and presence, he is the kind of guy that will strike fear in to NFL pass catchers over the middle. As a cover man himself, Harrison struggles to stick with his man. He allows separation because he lacks some fluidity in his hips. However when it comes to reaction speed in combination with his size, he can still impact the game in all phases. If he is used correctly, he is an impact guy right away.

NFL Comparison: TJ McDonald / MIA

5 – Damon Webb – Ohio State – 5’11/209

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Excellent range as a deep cover man, ,reaches the sideline in a blink
-Always moving in the right direction, first few steps are always productive
-A step ahead mentally, forecasts everything well

Weak Points:

-Falls under the desired size across the board
-Struggles to make an impact against tight ends in coverage
-Lacks pop as a tackler

Summary:

Fourth year senior that has started games at CB and S. The instincts are what jump off the screen here and it is arguably the most important trait I look for in a free safety. Webb has consistently shown the knack to anticipate throws and routes with the best of them. If I had to rank these safeties based on feel, Webb would be at the top. He lacks some of the desired tools, mainly size, but in a system where a true centerfielder is needed, he is a prized asset.

NFL Comparison: Rodney McLeod / PHI

6 – Marcus Allen – Penn State – 6’2/215

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Sure tackler, wraps up and hits hard consistently
-Very well timed with it comes to his leaps, lunges, and dives for ball and ball carrier
-High IQ player, very aware and assignment savvy

Weak Points:

-Too late to react to vertical routes, plays a lot of catch up
-Gets too grabby in coverage, needs to be more confident in his footwork
-Route recognition needs to be better

Summary:

3+ year starter. Led Penn State in solo tackles each of the past 2 years, a rare feat for a defensive back from that program. Allen was the leader of that defense with his ability to make big plays in big spots and his overall awareness of game situations. He was an extra coach on the field. He is a rangy tackler that can be relied on in space, but he needs to be somewhat protected in coverage. He has good-enough speed but the quick reactions and natural hip turn isn’t there. Can be a solid starter in the right situation.

NFL Comparison: Barry Church / JAC

7- Justin Reid – Stanford – 6’0/207

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Really good plant and burst movement, accelerates fast downhill
-Smart player, makes quick decisions and can put other players in place
-Plus ball skills in traffic, times his leaps and lunges well

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t flip his hips and get vertical fast enough
-Too much guess work in coverage, susceptible to big plays
-Can be looked off and faked routinely

Summary:

Junior entry. Brother of current free agent safety Eric Reid. Ended his career with a 2nd Team All American season. Some view this kid as a 1st rounder but I just haven’t seen him play consistently enough to put him anywhere near there. He has tools and he plays fast, but there is a lot of guess work with him. I value the natural flow and instincts at safety as much as anything and he doesn’t grade out well there. If you can hide that in your scheme, he can be solid.

NFL Comparison: Marcus Gilchrist / OAK

8 – Quin Blanding – Virginia – 6’2/207

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Recognizes route combinations consistently
-Light feet, very good body control gets him where he needs to be in a blink
-Reliable tackler in space

Weak Points:

-Long speed isn’t there, will have a hard time keeping pace with speed
-Doesn’t impact the ball carrier enough on tackles
-Can be outmuscled and out jumped in 50/50 situations

Summary:

Four year starter. All time leading tackler in UVA history. Blanding has been a highly touted, award winning safety for a few years now. He lacks the desired talent and ceiling but I don’t ever overlook safeties that produce a lot and play the game smart. He was head and shoulders above his opponents mentally. I think there is a spot for him somewhere, just wouldn’t count on him being a star.

NFL Comparison: Chris Conte / TB

9 – Tony Brown – Alabama – 6’0/199

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Top tier athlete that can playa physical, bad boy brand
-Sideline to sideline range, reacts fast and finishes
-Versatility all around, can be put in to multiple DB roles

Weak Points:

-Not a fluid mover when it comes to change of direction
-Lacks instincts and natural flow in coverage
-Has had some off field issues

Summary:

After being suspended for the first 4 games of 2016, Brown got in to the regular rotation wearing several hats. Some view him as a slot corner but I think he is better suited for safety. He doesn’t mirror quickness that well, but when he has some space to work with his can explode and burst in to the spot he needs to be. Brown, a All American track star, has tools that weren’t always put on display at Alabama. I actually think he would be higher-touted had he not been surrounded by so much talent at Alabama.

NFL Comparison: Tony Jefferson / BAL

10 – Deshon Elliot – Texas – 6’1/210

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Disciplined in deep coverage, maintains his position in relation to route runners
-Can play physical as a tackler
-Proved to be a ball hawk over his career

Weak Points:

-Too easily tricked by misdirection, play action, and look-offs
-Plays too high, lacks forward lean
-Balance and body control when playing the deep ball needs improvement

Summary:

Junior entry. After an All American season in 2015 as a freshman, the national spotlight got put on Elliot. Over the next two years, he never seemed to come close to those expectations. He ended up seeing his production and playing time go down a tad and there have been whispers of him not being a great team guy. Elliot has the tools and past production to give him the high ceiling label, but it’s been too long since I have seen any consistent high level play. Mid rounder that will have more potential than most drafted in that area.

NFL Comparison: Adrian Amos / CHI

11 – Jessie Bates – Wake Forest – 6’1/200

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Foot speed and ability to turn can be a major factor in deep coverage
-Very smart and instinctive, doesn’t waste time or steps
-Rangy against the run and pass, he is everywhere

Weak Points:

-Small frame that may not be handle downhill runners
-Lacks presence and power on contact
-Didn’t make enough plays on the ball

Summary:

Redshirt sophomore entry that surprised a lot of people with his declaration. He did have two strong years production wise with his ability to read the action and get involved consistently. He has the natural flow towards the action and foot speed to really get involved. But I question his frame and lack of power presence, something most will overlook when scouting safeties. I think he can be a solid player in time, but not early on.

NFL Comparison: Darian Thompson / NYG

12 – Godwin Iqwebuike – Northwestern – 5’11/213

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Long and productive career, a lot of experience and consistency
-Really well developed frame, good blend of power and agility
-Plants his foot and will burst in to his reads

Weak Points:

-Gets fooled badly by playaction and double routes
-Doesn’t bring his athleticism to plays on the ball
-Struggles to keep his head on a swivel in zone coverage

Summary:

Fifth year senior. One of the more consistent performers on the Northwestern defense for 4 straight seasons. Has been an All Big 10 performer 2 straight years. There are some out there that really like this kind, calling him a 2nd rounder. I can see why if you are looking for an extra run defender that can play the hybrid S/LB type role. He is a good tackler, shows range, and reacts well. But in coverage he never took the step up over the past couple years. He just looks a little lost and stiff out there. He has the athletic ability, but it doesn’t carry over enough. He will be an excellent special teamer and run defender, but he will be limited in coverage.

NFL Comparison: Kurt Coleman / NO

13 – Tray Matthews – Auburn – 6’1/213

Grade: 72

Strong Points:

-Versatile skill set, comfortable in multiple roles
-A mauler in the run game, he makes ball carriers feel his impact
-Rangy against the run, flies all over the place

Weak Points:

-Stiff hips in coverage, needs the extra step or two to change direction
-Struggles to consistently make plays on the ball
-Has dealt with shoulder issues which is a problem with the style he plays

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Began his career at Georgia and they were really excited about him. Made a few dumb mistakes and got kicked out of the program. He spent 3 years as a starting safety for the Tigers. He has shown major improvement with his character, he turned in to the leader of the Auburn defense. He is an excellent run defender, maybe one of the best among this group. He is a liability in coverage against WRs though. Poor man’s Fitzpatrick but one that can make an impact on special teams and run defense.

NFL Comparison: Jonathan Cyprien / JAC

14 – Van Smith – Clemson – 5’11/186

Grade: 71

Strong Points:

-Really efficiency mover with advanced footwork and fluid hips
-Plays bigger than his size, has toughness and grit
-Can shift in to the slot and cover receivers as well as some CBs

Weak Points:

-Falls well below the desired size for the position
-Struggles to wrap up ball carriers, too many missed tackles
-Didn’t make enough plays on the ball

Summary:

Junior entry. I was surprised he came out because another year in college could have thrown him in to Budda Baker territory if he showed the ability to make more plays in coverage. Smith is very small to the point where some teams won’t even look at him because of it. But rarely did I watch him and think it was a major issue. He is a tough, hard nosed defender that gets involved against the run often. Can he hold up? That’s the question. Smith didn’t make enough plays on the ball in coverage and some will say it is because of his size. He can be a package player early on but may have a very low ceiling. I still think there is some hidden nickel CB in him that could be a very good value.

NFL Comparison: Lamarcus Joyner / LAR

15 – Tracy Walker – Louisiana-Lafayette – 6’1/206

Grade: 70

Strong Points:

-Ideal measureables for the position with a frame that can handle more weight
-Quick twitch reactions to the offense, doesn’t waste time
-Played his best football against his toughest competition

Weak Points:

-Downhill-based, struggles to turn and run deep fluidly
-Lacks the natural and easy feel
-Will tackle high in space

Summary

Fifth year senior. Has led the program in interceptions each of the past 2 years and was their leading tackler in 2018. One of the top prospects coming out of the Sun Belt conference. Walker has my attention and I think my grade could have been a little higher on him had he moved better in deep coverage. As a downhill, reaction based defender, he has the goods. Really high ceiling here.

NFL Comparison: Jordan Power / BUF

16 – Rashaan Gaulden – Tennessee – 6’1/197 – GRADE: 70
17 – Josh Kalu – Nebraska – 6’0/203 – GRADE: 70
18 – Jeremy Reaves – South Alabama – 5’11/205 – GRADE: 70
19 – Tyree Robinson – Oregon – 6’2/202 – GRADE: 70
20 – Troy Apke – Penn State – 6’1/200 – GRADE – 69
21 – Kyle Quiero – Northwestern – 6’2/215 – GRADE: 67
22 – Tarvarius Moore – Southern Miss – 6’1/195 – GRADE: 67
23 – Jordan Whitehead – Pittsburgh – 5’10/198 – GRADE: 67
24 – Terrell Edmunds – Virginia Tech – 6’0/217 – GRADE: 67
25 – Tre Flowers – Oklahoma State – 6’3/202 – GRADE: 66

NYG APPROACH

When I look at the Giants defense, I note that I have been bothered by the lack of presence next to Landon Collins since he was drafted. While he has gotten off to a nice start to his career and I do view him as a long term leader on this defense, he would be much more productive with a playmaker next to him. One that can roam deep coverage and actually make plays on the ball. While I don’t consider his a major need, or even a secondary need for that matter, I wouldn’t pass on a big value if one presented itself. I am looking at that day 3 area if someone like Damon Webb was there. There are high ceiling guys available late, as well. As highly as I view Derwin James, he isn’t someone I would consider early because he is too similar to what Collins brings to the table.

Apr 162018
 
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Isaiah Oliver, Colorado Buffaloes (October 14, 2017)

Isaiah Oliver – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Cornerbacks

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

1 – Isaiah Oliver – Colorado – 6’0/201

Grade: 86

Strong Points:

-Ideal physical make up with elite length
-Shows a feel for deep coverage, stays under control and locates the ball
-Very aware of body positioning, avoids penalties

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t have a ton of experience, still looks raw at times
-Needs to be more assertive as a downhill run defender
-Struggles to stick with quickness and agility underneath

Summary:

Junior entry. Was behind current starting NFL corners Ahkello Witherspoon and Chidobe Awuzie for a couple years, but he has a lot of quality tape from the 2016 and 2017. Oliver has the ideal size for the position and more than enough speed to work with. What makes him close-to-special is the ability to locate and track the football once it is in the air. His control and balance is top tier and I think he is only scratching the surface in terms of his potential. 2017 was his only year of consistent play to play snaps and he got better and better as the year went. 2016, a growing year for him, he still had 13 PDs. Oliver was an All Pac 12 decathlete for 2 years as well. You are getting a potentially special athlete with a top tier skill set. He screams upside.

NFL Comparison: Darius Slay / DET

2 – Denzel Ward – Ohio State – 5’11/183

Grade: 86

Strong Points:

-Elite change of direction and burst
-Proper blend of physical and avoiding penalties in coverage
-Excels when it comes to reaction and instincts in both man and zone coverages

Weak Points:

-Size can limit him, he can be outmuscled and pushed around
-Too much ankle diving as a tackler
-Doesn’t make enough plays on the ball, needs to locate better

Summary:

Junior entry. Widely considered the top CB in the draft. I think it comes down to what a specific team is looking for. Ward is the best athlete among the top guys. He has elite burst and change of direction, capable of breaking on passes at a level that none of the others can. He is a starting corner, but could thrive against the slot in nickel situations as well. The issue I have with him, as I do with most CBs out of Ohio State, is their transition out of their scheme. They are trained to play the man, not the ball, there. That will need to change in the NFL. Ward will be an immediate impact player in the NFL, I expect him to go top 10.

3 – Josh Jackson – Iowa – 6’0/196

Grade: 86

Strong Points:

-Has wide receiver-caliber ball skills
-Has the quick twitch reaction and downfield speed
-Anticipates passes and routes, good forecaster

Weak Points:

-Balance and body control are inconsistent against the deep ball
-Plays high at times, needs to burst out of his backpedal
-Not a big impact hitter or tackler

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. Came to Iowa as a WR, quickly made the move to CB. Had to wait until 2017 to get a starting gig, but he flourished. Led the nation with 8 INTs and 26 PDs, 1st Team All American. Some are worried that Jackson was a one year wonder and there simply isn’t enough tape. I am on the other side of it. I think Jackson is just approaching the point of who he can be and should be a stud in the NFL. I haven’t seen a CB with his kind of ball skills in a long time, he is so natural at getting to it and showing the coordination to get on the ball. His INTs were not by luck. Jackson has some rawness still, but I think with NFL coaching and more physical development, he can be a shut down corner.

NFL Comparison: Casey Hayward / LAC

4 – Mike Hughes – Central Florida – 5’10/189

Grade: 85

Strong Points:

-Aggressive downhill defender that shows no hesitation attacking the ball carrier
-Locates and pounces on the ball, very coordinated and well-timed
-Top tier physical nature as a press corner, makes a difference at the point of attack

Weak Points:

-Undersized, lacks the desired height, weight, and length of a number one
-Can be over aggressive at times and may not have the body to handle it
-Lacks discipline with reads and technique

Summary:

Junior entry. Began his career at North Carolina but after an incident off the field that left him suspended, transferred to junior college prior to joining the UCF team in 2017. He wasn’t on anyone’s radar for the first half of the season but as the fall progressed, the name kept popping up in emails. I watched all of their regular season games prior to their bowl game against Auburn and thought he had a chance to be the top CB in this class. I still think that way. Hughes has elite upside if he can progress his decision making and techniques. There is a level of aggression, confidence, and reaction here that the others do not have. If he somehow makes it to the NYG second pick, the value may be too much to pass on.

NFL Comparison: Marcus Peters / LAR

5 – Jaire Alexander – Louisville – 5’10/196

Grade: 82

Strong Points:

-Excellent, maybe even elite plant and go explosion
-Hard nosed and aggressive, plays a mean game
-Excels in the slot, can stick to a guys pocket and react fast

Weak Points:

-Gets too caught up in the backfield, will be fooled easily
-Needs to tone it down a notch, could be a penalty machine
-Instincts aren’t there in zone coverage, he is a wild-guess type

Summary:

Junior entry. Many assumed he would go back to school in 2018 because his 2017 was slowed down by a couple of injuries. Sure enough, however, the mighty mouse speedster with an attitude came out and I know of two scouts that say he is the second ranked CB in the class. I think there is a lot of guessing with him, not enough mental capacity yet. But you have to love the aggression and ability to move. If he figures this game out a bit and is a coachable player, watch out.

NFL Comparison: Brent Grimes / TB

6 – Duke Dawson – Florida – 5’11/197

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Easy speed and change of direction
-Can mirror all kinds of receivers, has a versatile skill set
-Has the right blend of physical force and graceful footwork

Weak Points:

-Can be tight hipped against underneath routes
-Slow to get his head around downfield
-Late to reach to deep routes, plays too much catch up

Summary:

Senior that had to wait his turn, played behind current NFL cornerbacks Tabor and Wilson for a couple years. Dawson did make an impact at safety and nickel prior to 2017, however. He doesn’t jump off the screen athletically or when it comes to production, but if you really zero in on him for long stretches, he doesn’t get beat often. He understands coverage and how to blend patience and aggression together. Safe player that can fit in to any role.

NFL Comparison: Kendall Fuller / DEN

7 – Nick Nelson – Wisconsin – 5’11/200

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Competitive and fiery with the ball in the air
-Good feel and instincts whether he is in zone or man coverage
-Won’t be fooled by double routes and pump fakes, very disciplined

Weak Points:

-Lacks the desired size across the board
-Doesn’t always get his head around fast enough
-Tight hips, struggles to effectively turn and run with real speed

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. Spent his first two seasons at Hawaii before sitting out 2016 to transfer to Wisconsin. In his one year with the Badgers, Nelson earned 1st Team All Big 10 honors, finishing 3rd in the nation with 21 PDs. Nelson lacks some of the desired physical tools but he can make up for it somewhat with really heady play and a competitive spirit. Nelson is one tough dude that understands how to cover, plain and simple. He might have a limited upside, but he is a safe bet to produce.

NFL Comparison: Chris Harris / DEN

8 – Donte Jackson – LSU – 5’10/178

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Elite, blazing speed that shows up on tape every week
-Can afford to be over aggressive off the snap, has all the makeup speed
-Easy agility and body control when changing direction underneath

Weak Points:

-Lacks the needed bulk and strength to play with a physical style
-Didn’t make a lot of plays on the ball over his career
-Lacks the instincts and natural flow towards the ball in zone coverage

Summary:

Junior entry. 2 year starter that earned 2nd Team All SEC honors in 2017. One of the fastest players in the entire class, has spent time on the LSU track squad. Jackson gets you excited because of how easily he moves at such a high speed. The movement skills are elite, there is no doubting that. Sometimes that movement is nullified by a lack of physical presence at the point of attack and slow decision making process. Jackson is a physical reaction type corner, not someone that has the feel or natural flow. You can still work with guys like this, especially from the slot, but they are limited to certain roles.

NFL Comparison: Nickell Robey-Coleman / LAR

9 – Carlton Davis – Auburn – 6’1/206

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Mauls receivers at the line, very physical and aggressive with size and strength
-Can turn and run with speed, solid long strider
-Wrap up tackler that will make an impact in space

Weak Points:

-A little too hands-on with receivers, could be a penalty machine if he doesn’t change
-Lack of body control in small areas, high hipped and struggles with change of direction
-Doesn’t always take in assignment football

Summary:

Junior entry. Three year starter. One of the more physically imposing corners in the class. His aggressive style jumps out at you the second the tape starts rolling, and he doesn’t stop. Very relentless approach. Davis, at a stretch during the season, was lined up to be my top CB in this class actually. Everything about him screamed what the NFL is looking for these days. However the more time I spent scouting and not just watching, I found a lot of holes in his game. He needs to be better at playing the game with his feet or else he will get burned or flagged in the NFL consistently. There are tools to work with and there will be things he excels at week 1, he just needs to clean things up. High risk, high reward and a candidate to move to safety in some schemes.

NFL Comparison: Trumaine Johnson / NYJ

10 – Holton Hill – Texas – 6’2/196

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Physically impressive all around when it comes to height, length, and speed
-Good ball skills, times his leaps and lunges for the ball well
-Understands angles and boundaries, knows where to be and when to be there

Weak Points:

-Inconsistent performer, very up and down
-Doesn’t always show the balance and body control when changing direction
-Maturity issues are a concern

Summary:

Junior entry. 2017 ended early for him, as he was suspended for the final few games. A very up and down career for Hill, one of the more physically intriguing CB prospects in the class. He has still has some growing to do in to that tall and long frame, but the tools are there. Hill has flashed a very high level of play. He can run with anyone, explode downhill, and make plays on the ball. It appears he still has a ways to go when it comes to fully understanding schemes and roles, but there is a natural sense to his game. Hill can be a starting CB, and a very good one, within a year or two if he stays clean off the field.

NFL Comparison: Artie Burns / PIT

11 – Anthony Averett – Alabama – 5’11/183

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Plus-athlete with top end speed and burst, recovers downfield well
-Can stop and adjust this path while moving at top gear
-Aggressive and physical

Weak Points:

-Lack of size and strength show up on tape
-Instincts aren’t there, he doesn’t anticipate routes or passes well
-Spends too much time in recovery mode, gets initially beat often

Summary:

Fifth year senior, two year starter. Somewhat reminiscent of last year’s CB prospect from Alabama, Marlan Humphrey. However I think Averett is a notch below him. Averett lacks the size and strength to be a physically imposing guy. Some say he is destined for the slot at the next level. The issue I have with that, however, is that he doesn’t have a very good feel post snap for the action. He is often a step behind reaction wise and the quickness step to step is average. Averett is a good straight line athlete. I see him as a backup that will be in the league for awhile, but nothing I would get overly excited about.

NFL Comparison: Quinton Dunbar / WAS

12 – Brandon Facyson – Virginia Tech – 6’1/203

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Well developed frame, tall, long and strong
-Brings the physical approach to the game week in, week out
-Will make receivers work to both get off the line and catch the ball

Weak Points:

-Tight hips, won’t fluidly change direction
-Doesn’t forecast short and intermediate routes, plays too much catch up
-5 interceptions in 2013, zero since

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Has had some pretty serious durability issues throughout his career and it did impact his final grade. On tape, I like Facyson and his combination of tools and size. He is best suited in a role where he has help over the top and he can jam guys up at the line. He is very good at that and he does impact the receiver that way. He just can’t seem to hang with speed and quickness. His issues can be exploited at the next level but he is the kind of player that could make a successful move to safety if he couldn’t hang at CB.

NFL Comparison: James Bradberry / CAR

13 – Kevin Toliver – LSU – 6’2/192

Grade: 73

Strong Points:

-Smooth and easy mover, has natural flow and reaction
-Quick to diagnose routes and throws
-Physical and savvy when it comes to defending balls in the air

Weak Points:

-Has battled major durability and work ethic issues entire career
-Lacks discipline with techniques related to hand-work and backpedal routine
-Deep speed isn’t there, struggles to recover against fast receivers

Summary:

Junior entry. Had a hot start to his career but then the injuries started to mount up. He had multiple shoulder injures in addition to a knee injury early in his career. Toliver also fell out of favor with the coaches on a few occasions as he battled to get back in to the lineup. LSU is a CB factory and Toliver thought he was entitled to more playing time. Not a bad kid, doesn’t get in to trouble, just had to mature a little. He has starter-traits. If he stays healthy and keeps his head down and focused, the ceiling is high.

NFL Comparison: Aquib Talib / LAR

14 – Davontae Harris – Illinois State – 5’11/203

Grade: 73

Strong Points:

-Has the quick acceleration and long speed to stick with speed
-Aggressive plays on the ball without crossing the line of being too physical
-Top notch tackler when it comes to technique and power

Weak Points:

-Gets sloppy with his footwork in press coverage, too much attention on contact
-Doesn’t close on underneath routes with enough burst
-Has a hard time flipping his hips

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Had a near-death injury as a senior in high school with internal organ repercussions. Some schools backed off their recruitment because of it. Harris had the talent to play at a bigger school but Illinois State was the one school that stuck with him. He ended his career with an FCS All American season. Harris was a tough scout because teams didn’t throw his way much. He was, talent wise, head and shoulders above his opponents. He still plays raw and tight, but there is potential here for backup duty.

NFL Comparison: Jamar Taylor / CLE

15 – Quenton Meeks – Stanford – 6’1/209

Grade: 72

Strong Points:

-Advanced techniques and overall level of discipline
-Easy movement out of his backpedal, can pounce in reaction to throws in front of him
-Accurate and physical hands as a press corner

Weak Points:

-Struggles to stick with speed and quickness, too much separation
-High hipped, will get stuck when having to reach to unplanned movement
-Lacks consistent balance and control

Summary:

Junior entry. Son to former NFL defensive coach Ron Meeks. Started 2+ years for the Cardinal and as you would expect, Weeks stood out with pro caliber technique and approach. He may not be the best athlete, but there is value in his ability to understand schemes on both sides of the ball. To add, he is a physical player that shows an aggressive style. Maybe not the starting type, but he can fill the depth chart with some upside.

NFL Comparison: PJ Williams / NO

16 – Levi Wallace – Alabama – 6’0/182 – GRADE: 72
17 – Greg Stroman – Virginia Tech – 5’11/182 – GRADE: 72
18 – Tarvarus McFadden – Florida State – 6’2/204 – GRADE: 72
19 – Isaac Yiadom – Boston College – 6’1/190 – GRADE: 71
20 – Chris Jones – Nebraska – 6’0/200 – GRADE: 71
21 – DJ Reed – Kansas State – 5’9/188 – GRADE: 70
22 – Parry Nickerson – Tulane – 5’10/182 – GRADE: 70
23 – Darius Phillips – Western Michigan – 5’10/193 – GRADE: 68
24 – Avonte Maddox – Pittsburgh – 5’9/184 – GRADE: 68
25 – Jordan Thomas – Oklahoma – 6’0/187 – GRADE: 68

NYG APPROACH

With all this talk about the offensive line woes, lack of pass rush, and a lack of long term stability at the quarterback position, there is a hole at CB that is glaring. This is a potential issue that could really haunt NYG in 2018. While some veterans have been signed in FA, they are really banking on Eli Apple turning things around. This CB class as a whole is really strong with a few guys that are potential shut down guys. If one slips to the top of the 2nd round, it may have to be a serious conversation between him and the OL talent. I expect Gettleman to use one of the first 4 picks on this position. CBs can be tricky to scout because a lot depends on the scheme, but I’m not sure I would want to go in to day 3 without a new corner.

Apr 122018
 
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Darius Leonard, South Carolina State Bulldogs (December 5, 2017)

Darius Leonard – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Linebackers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

1 – Darius Leonard – South Carolina State – 6’2/234

Grade: 86

Strong Points:

-Physically gifted athlete, top notch speed and burst with an ideal frame
-Reads and reacts in a blink, easy change of direction to pounce on the action
-A sure tackler in space

Weak Points:

-Needs more core strength to handle NFL blockers
-Coming from a lower level of college football
-Doesn’t have a lot of pop behind his hits

Summary:

Two time MEAC Defensive Player of the Year. Four straight years of leading South Carolina State in tackles. I am taking a chance on this kid, as I don’t think anyone has him graded as a 1st round player and I have him in my top 10, maybe top 5 overall. Leonard’s game is impactful all over the place, pop in any game tape and you will see what I mean. This kid can fly all over the place. Leonard is the best cover LB I have seen in a long time. There is a natural sense of decision making and reaction to him. Combined with top tier speed and quickness, he will be a playmaker. Leonard may need a year of a real professional NFL weight training program to get his core strength up to caliber, but when he does he is going to be very dangerous.

NFL Comparison: Telvin Smith / JAC

2 – Roquan Smith – Georgia – 6’1/236

Grade: 84

Strong Points:

¬-Excellent pursuit angles to the outside
-Has the long speed to factor sideline to sideline
-Maintains full power and tackling ability on the move

Weak Points:

-Struggles mightily against straight ahead run blockers
-Staying power isn’t enough for inside run defense
-Has some lower body stiffness when it comes to change of direction in short areas

Summary:

Junior entry. The leader of the SEC in tackles with 137. Smith is a favorite among almost everyone I talk to. A reliable, smart, instinctive, sure tackling, rangy LB that fits in with what the top LBs in the league are doing right now. Smith really got my attention late in the year. He was downright dominant down the stretch in their biggest games. Smith lacks some size and agility that I look for, but his best traits are the most vital. He is almost always in the right place at the right time. If you can put him in a role next to a thumper so that he can roam and make plays on the move, he will be a star. There are limitations though, he may struggle to be THE inside run defender if he isn’t protected.

NFL Comparison Jonathan Vilma / RET

3 – Rashaan Evans – Alabama – 6’2/232

Grade: 83

Strong Points:

-Versatile and capable of handling multiple roles
-Explodes out of his breaks with full power and ability to change direction
-Smart and instinctive

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t maintain his power presence against run blockers
-Over pursues, doesn’t track the cutback lane assignments
-Struggles to make correct reads in coverage

Summary:

2 year starter, most were assuming Evans would be the next first round linebacker from Alabama. He struggled to find a true role, as the coaching staff was bouncing him back and forth, inside/outside. While he was inconsistent, Evans brings the skill set and overall approach that translates to the NFL very well. I think his best role is an inside spot as a thumper that can make the occasional athletic play. Evans is really good at missing the meat of a block with his burst and change of direction. He has the strength and power to make an impact inside and in some situations can rush the edge on passing downs. He is a safe pick that is put in the right scheme can mold in to a star defender.

NFL Comparison: Demario Davis / NO

4 – Tremaine Edmunds – Virginia Tech – 6’4/253

Grade: 80

Strong Points

-Rare blend of size and speed at just 20 years old
-Makes an impact in all phases, perfect for the middle level of the defense
-A weapon on third down as a pass rusher and cover man

Weak Points:

-Instincts are a few steps behind
-Fooled easy on counters and misdirection, poor vision
-Power backs will run through his arm tackles, lacks core strength

Summary:

Junior entry. Will be just 20 years old draft weekend. Has been extremely productive over the past two years across the entire stat sheet. Edmunds is a favorite of scouts and evaluators that are looking for potential upside. His tools are unmatched and he has proven to be more than just an athlete. Edmunds can continue to grow in to his massive frame and end up being an excellent edge rusher, or stay put where he is and be an answer for pass catching tight ends. He is that versatile. However I struggle to see the star in him because he seems to struggle with the game mentally. He doesn’t make fluid and easy decisions and that athleticism can sometime be a detriment. I like him, but I don’t think he is elite.

NFL Comparison: De’Vondre Campbell / ATL

5 – Genard Avery – Memphis – 6’0/248

Grade: 79

Strong Points:

-A violent, borderline reckless truck when it comes to taking on blocks
-Excellent straight line speed that can stop and go on a dime
-Versatility, a three down threat that can wear almost every hat in any scheme

Weak Points:

-Short-limbed that can get locked up by longer, better linemen
-Initial reads are a step behind, gets caught in traffic
-Over pursues, will miss tackles in space

Summary:

Three year starter. 33 TFL and 13.5 sacks over the past two years. Avery has been bounced around the defense not because they couldn’t find a niche for him, but because he does everything at a high level. Avery might be the most powerful LB in this class and he moves exceptionally well. His best role would be an inside thumper that will make the occasional play outside and as a pass rusher, but not one that needs to come off the field on 3rd down. Avery is higher on my board than anything I see out there. I think he is one of the top sleepers in the draft.

NFL Comparison: Jon Bostic / PIT

6 – Leighton Vander Esch – Boise State – 6’4/256

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Attractive frame with plus long speed and flexibility
-Aware and quick reacting, understands the game and applies it
-Rangy tackler, will reach ball carriers in traffic that others simply do not

Weak Points

-Plays too high, making him an easy target for blockers
-Hesitant with tight ankles, doesn’t play fast between the tackles
-Needs more core strength, can be knocked off his intended path too easily

NFL Comparison: Jake Ryan / GB

7 – Malik Jefferson – Texas – 6’2/236

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Explosive downhill defender that brings the heat on contact
-3 down player that is a fluid and easy mover in coverage
-Violent tackler that blends proper technique and pop, doesn’t miss often

Weak Points:

-Lack of quality movement post-snap, doesn’t move in the right direction
-Too reliant on speed and quickness, not enough on instincts
-Poor angles in lateral pursuit

Summary:

Junior entry. Three year starter that has been all over the stat sheet since coming to Texas. Jefferson has the ability to fly all over the field and make plays against the run and pass. He is a physical downhill defender that has enough size to factor in the power game and enough athleticism to factor in the speed game. He fails to make consistent, simple reads post snap and I think that could limit him in the NFL, however if he is paired with the right surrounding players he can be the mobile playmaker.

NFL Comparison: Zach Brown / WAS

8 – Matthew Thomas – Florida State – 6’3/236

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Long, wiry frame that will hold more weight
-Speed and explosion are both near top notch
-Assignment savvy, plays within his role and shows discipline

Weak Points:

-Needs to be more physical at the point of attack
-Doesn’t factor against the inside run enough
-Needs to be a bigger factor in coverage

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Teams will need to look in to his medicals, as he’s been banged up a few different times throughout his career and there have been whispers about some internal sicknesses in the past. I don’t know enough about that to factor it in to the grade, however. Thomas screams upside. His speed and quick twitch matched with a frame that can be molded in to a sturdier piece of work can give off a notion of high upside that can be used in a variety of ways. Thomas plays smart and disciplined. He quietly led the Seminoles in tackles over the past 2 years while adding 21 TFL, most among LBs. There is a really high ceiling here.

NFL Comparison: Jamie Collins / CLE

9 – Devante Downs – California – 6’2/252

Grade: 76

Strong Points

-Has plus power and speed as a downhill defender
-Diagnoses post-snap and swallows a gap in a blink
-Smart and savvy, right place/right time defender

Weak Points:

-Torn ACL halfway through 2017 season, still recovering
-Plays high, needs to trust his footwork and leg drive more
-Long speed can be questioned

Summary:

Three year starter that I started to really zero in on during the 2017 season. He had a credible shot at earning Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors had he stayed healthy. The concern here is that he tore the other ACL in high school, so you can make the argument this prospect is damaged goods that isn’t worth drafting. I don’t feel that way, as I think Downs is the kind of kid I would take a chance on. He looked like a 1st round talent and he is a first class person as well. In a pretty weak LB class overall, Downs can be a big time player if he can stay on the field.

NFL Comparison: Avery Williamson / NYJ

10 – Josey Jewell – Iowa – 6’1/234

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Productive, consistent, reliable, always plays within himself
-Makes quick decisions and won’t waste any time acting on it
-Low to the ground and will find his way to the ball one way or another

Weak Points:

-Lack of speed shows up in lateral pursuit
-Struggles to hang with speed and quickness in coverage
-Doesn’t play the power game well against blockers

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Three time team captain. Has been first or second in the Big 10 in tackles for three straight seasons. Jewell is the classic Big 10 linebacker that will impress with production and instincts, but disappoint with overall athleticism and range. I usually like guys like Jewell, but I think there is too much bad tape on him to put him any higher than the mid round region. While I wouldn’t be surprised to see him starting somewhere year one and racking up the tackles, I just don’t see the fit for most schemes. I have a lot of notes on him just being outclassed athletically. Every team can use a guy like this on special teams and the depth chart, but that’s about it for me.

NFL Comparison: Antonio Morrison / IND

11 – Oren Burks – Vanderbilt – 6’3/233

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Top tier athlete for the position
-Excels in coverage, easy moving, quick reactions, quality reads
-Plays hard and aggressive against the run

Weak Points:

-Still relatively new to the position, and he plays like it against the run
-Over pursues on outside runs, fails to break down and stay under control
-Doesn’t make a power impact on contact, too many missed tackles

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Began his career as a safety and actually led Vanderbilt in interceptions in 2015. Since then, he has put on almost 20 pounds and could be the best cover LB in the class. Burks still moves like a safety, as he excels in man coverage and shows the kind of range that can factor all over the field. He still lacks the power game inside and as a tackler, but as with most LBs like this, if he finds the right scheme he can be a major weapon. I’m just not sure it will be an every down impact. High ceiling.

NFL Comparison: Tahir Whitehead / OAK

12 – Fred Warner – BYU – 6’3/236

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Quick twitched and fast to accelerate straight lines, makes an impact athletically
-A hard nosed bruiser, wants to punch guys in the mouth
-Scrapes over the top of the blockers and finds his lanes

Weak Points:

-Lacks consistent techniques when it comes to tackling and taking on blocks
-Gets lost in traffic as a downhill defender
-Doesn’t carry over his athleticism to coverage

Summary:

3+ year starter. Team leader in tackles and 2nd in TFL each of the past two seasons. Warner is a jack of all trades run stuffer. He hits hard, plays with an aggressive style, and will make tackles all over the field. He enjoys the role of an on-field bully. Warner is a plus athlete that can fit in to multiple roles, but he hasn’t been very good in coverage. That was the case at the Senior Bowl as well. A plus special teamer with a possibility to be more down the road.

NFL Comparison: Jonathan Casillas / FA

13 – Jerome Baker – Ohio State – 6’1/229

Grade: 71

Strong Points:

-Top notch speed and explosion
-Sure tackler on the move, reliable in space
-Shows good instincts and blocker awareness outside the tackles

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t always look like the athlete he is in coverage
-Won’t take on blocks between the tackles well
-Leaves gaping cutback lanes

Summary:

Junior entry. Has received a decent amount of attention because of his plus-athletic ability and big performances on the national stage. But the more I watch of Baker, the less I like. He isn’t a very physical guy and you would think he would be better in coverage. For a team needing some speed on the weak side to pursue, he will have value. But other than that, there are a lot of red flags.

NFL Comparison: Darron Lee / NYJ

14 – Nyles Morgan – Notre Dame – 6’1/230

Grade: 70

Strong Points:

-Active feet when diagnosing plays, always ready to pounce
-Brings the punch as a downhill defender
-Makes himself small to blockers

Weak Points:

-Too many missed tackles in space, needs to wrap up
-Doesn’t adjust well, too much momentum for him to break
-Non factor in coverage

Summary:

Two year starter. Played among some really good talent at the LB position and it both helped and hurt his production. Morgan is a smart player that is at his best between the tackles as a thumper. He needs to clean up his game as a wrap up tackler, however. His impact against the pass won’t be enough to make up for poor tackling. There are some things to work with here, and he will be a very good special teamer.

NFL Comparison: Anthony Hitchens / KC

15 – Micah Kiser – Virginia – 6’0/238

Grade: 69

Strong Points:

-Smart and quick decision maker, like another coach on the field
-Strong and stout against blockers, will knock them back
-Aggressive and sure tackler

Weak Points:

-Lacks range and athletic versatility
-The quick twitch and burst in coverage aren’t there
-Heavy feet, needs a few extra steps to change his path

Summary:

3 year starter. Led the ACC in tackles in 2017 and 2016, 3rd in 2015. Really smart, hard nosed, old school run stuffer than needs a certain role and scheme. If he finds it, he will make an impact against the run. Kiser is smart enough to factor in coverage, but there are holes in his movement that can be exploited.

NFL Comparison: Vince Williams / PIT

16 – Dorian O’Daniel – Clemson – 6’0/223 – GRADE: 69
17 – JaWhuan Bentley – Purdue – 6’2/246 – GRADE: 69
18 – Mike McCray – Michigan – 6’1/243 – GRADE: 69
19 – Travin Howard – TCU – 6’1/220 – GRADE: 68
20 – Skai Moore – South Carolina – 6’2/226 – GRADE: 68
21 – Jack Cichy – Wisconsin – 6’2/238 – GRADE: 67
22 – Garrett Dooley – Wisconsin – 6’2/248 – GRADE: 67
23 – Shaquiem Griffin – Central Florida – 6’0/227 – GRADE: 67
24 – Kenny Young – UCLA – 6’1/236 – GRADE: 66
25 – Tegray Scales – Indiana – 6’0/230 – GRADE: 66

NYG APPROACH

When it comes to the new NYG defensive scheme, it appears they are set with their two starters inside. Goodson is the thumper and Ogletree is the rangy playmaker. Behind them, however, there isn’t much to speak of. As we saw last year, there can be talent brought in off the street that can, if they fit the scheme and role, keep the middle of the defense “good enough.” Depth is an issue, but I’m not sure that issue is strong enough to overlook the other holes in this roster. This isn’t a spot I would look to until the end of the draft unless you see a plus-plus value available. Someone like Leonard in round 2/3 or Avery in round 5 is something that could happen. But it would be hard to pass on OL value at that point for an inside LB.

Apr 112018
 
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Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State Wolfpack (November 18, 2017)

Bradley Chubb – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Preview: Edge Rushers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

1 – Bradley Chubb – NC State – 6’4/269

Grade: 86

Strong Points:

-Violent, aggressive, and downright nasty player that loves the physical game
-Far along and well developed techniques against the run and pass
-Every down threat

Weak Points:

-Quick twitch when moving upfield won’t scare NFL pass blockers
-Loses focus and track of his assignments
-Needs to harness his emotions and use them for his advantage

Summary:

Three year starter. The top edge defender in this class and while some may say it is a result of a lack of top end talent in the group overall, it’s hard not to label Chubb a stud. After gaining 25 pounds between the 2015 and 2016 season, Chubb went on to amass 46.5 TFL and 20 sacks. If you want to alter the toughness as a defense, you can start with a guy like this. He walks the line of too dirty and dirty enough like Suh was in college, but coaches rave about his leadership and fire. Chubb will very much be in the picture for NYG, whether it is at #2 overall or back a few spots.

NFL Comparison: Joey Bosa / LAC

2 – Kemoko Turay – Rutgers – 6’5/253

Grade: 83

Strong Points:

-Easy burst off the line, puts a blocker on his heels
-Translates speed to power, violent punch that will get a blocker off balance
-Leverage comes easy for him with chest up and a long reach

Weak Points

-Has battled, and continues to battle, injuries
-Slow to pick up schemes and responsibilities
-Needs more core strength to maintain ground against power blocks

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Began his career off with a Freshman All American season in 2014, recording 7.5 sacks. He then was on and off the field via coaching decisions and injuries. From what I was told, he isn’t the brightest player and the coaches didn’t trust him in certain roles. Others will say the coaches there just didn’t know what they were doing with him. Whatever the case, Turay has enormous upside at a premium position. He is worth the gamble because of that ceiling. Watching the discomfort he gives pass blockers via physical pop and explosion can be thrown in to an NFL role right now. Pair him up with the right situation and you might have a top10 caliber pass rusher that can be had in round 2.

NFL Comparison: Whitney Mercilus / HOU

3 – Marcus Davenport – UTSA – 6’6/254

Grade: 82

Strong Points:

-A frame that will make coaches and scouts drool
-Has plenty of pop and violence in his game, finishes hard
-Bends easily, flexibility throughout, keeping his pad level low

Weak Points:

-Needs more staying power, lacks NFL core strength
-Lacks urgency in some situations, gives up too easily
-Very dependent on the initial movement, lacks secondary moves

Summary:

A big time athlete in 3 sports in high school, Davenport was overlooked on the national scouting scene. He started to break out in 2016, showing glimpses of top tier movement with a frame that gets all talent evaluators excited. He went on to finish with 17 TFL and 8.5 sacks in 2017 in addition to being one of the top performers at the combine and Senior Bowl, respectively. Davenport doesn’t get the elite grade from me like some have on him, as I think his power game and lack of ability to get off blocks will be an issue early on. He will have to work his butt off and play more aggressive at the point of attack. If those two parts of his game evolve, he can be a good one.

NFL Comparison: Danielle Hunter / MIN

4- Harold Landry – Boston College – 6’2/252

Grade: 81

Strong Points:

-Elite movement when it comes to both burst and change of direction
-Plays low and fast, tough for a blocker to get a hold of
-Excellent anticipation of the snap, gets the head start

Weak Points:

-Underachieved in 2017, struggled through injuries and lack of playing time
-Effort switch goes off and on too often
-Struggles against the run that goes right at him

Summary:

Could have come out last year and been a top 15 pick after his 22 TFL/16.5 sack season. He was the guy in this class that was supposed to be the elite pass rusher but a few injuries and a coaching staff that mishandled him in my opinion made 2017 a down year. Landry might not be an every down threat because of his struggle in the power game, but pass rushers like this are still sought after. His burst, agility, and leverage are traits that a blocker has a hard time dealing with. I think the NYG scheme may be a perfect fit for him and if he is there in the 2nd round, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit to see them bite.

5 – Lorenzo Carter – Georgia – 6’5/250

Grade: 78

Strong Points:

-Physically gifted with a rare combination of speed, height, length, and speed
-Progressed throughout the 2017 season as much as any defender in the class
-Versatile skill set that can be used in multiple roles, in space and in the trenches

Weak Points:

-Still a step behind mentally when it comes to reading defenses and reacting
-Hesitant when taking on blocks
-High hipped, too much of a straight line athlete

Summary:

A former 5 star recruit that earned the newcomer of the year award for UGA in 2014, Carter simply took awhile to blossom. He has always been packed with talent and ability, but the football sense wasn’t quite clicking for him until 2017. He was a situational guy, a good edge rusher with burst and long strides that would eat up a 5-10 yard window in a blink. But his role expanded in 2017 and he showed the kind of versatility and overall progress that could end up getting his name called in the 1st round. The NFL loves tools paired with a good attitude, and that he has. Carter is a little to manufactured for me, meaning he is only a top tier player when the role is simple and he can burst in to a straight line. He comes back down to earth when the game is quickly changing directions and quality reads need to be made. I love the upside here, but he is a 3rd round-only option for NYG in my book.

NFL Comparison: Connor Barwin / FA

6 – Sam Hubbard – Ohio State – 6’5/270

Grade: 77

Strong Points:

-Power presence against run is elite, he wins the power battle almost always
-Developed technique and approach, very detail-attentive
-Plays within the scheme, rarely caught out of position

Weak Points:

-Athletically limited, burst and agility are average at best
-Struggles to get movement as a bull rusher, gets locked up
-Never reached the production level that was projected of him

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. Was being labeled the next Joey Bosa but he never came close to that level. Hubbard was overrated by the national spotlight for a tad, but I still think he has a very solid role in the NFL in the right scheme. He plays the run well, very aware and savvy, and will finish when he gets to the ball. Hubbard’s ceiling is limited, but he is a safe and reliable edge player that will get the job done as long as his role is right.

NFL Comparison: Jordan Jenkins / NYJ

7 – Kylie Fitts – Utah – 6’4/263

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-Violent off the snap, plays aggressive and powerful
-Really quick burst and light footed
-Can turn the edge at a fast rate with good pad level

Weak Points:

-Has been marred by injuries throughout his career
-Can be stood up too easily by a strong, low blocker
-Moved backward by the power run block and double team too easily

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Spent a year at UCLA before transferring to Utah. Missed most of 2016 with a foot injury and was hampered by multiple injuries in 2017. He got a green light in his medicals at the combine and I think this might be one of the best day 2/3 values in the draft. Fitts plays with the quick twitch violence that can factor off the edge. There are a lot of physical traits to like here and if he can actually stay on the field for a full year for the first time since 2015, he could evolve in to a first round caliber talent.

NFL Comparison: Derrick Morgan / TEN

8 – Jalyn Holmes – Ohio State – 6’5/283

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Has the NFL ready frame and power presence right now
-Flashes an array of developed rush moves
-When the light is on, his impact is near top notch when he punches the blocker

¬Weak Points:

-Inconsistent all around when it comes to production and effort
-Urgency and quick reactions aren’t there
-Pad level gets too high, makes him an easy target

Summary:

Senior that struggled to get a ton of playing time because of the overcrowded defensive line at OSU. Holmes gets people excited because of what he would flash on a weekly to bi-weekly basis. His size and short area burst is enough to send power blockers back a couple steps. He has also shown the ability to rip under blockers and make plays in the backfield. I think if he played a little lighter, 10-15 pounds, he could be a terror. He could break out in the NFL if he ever gets more consistent snaps, but at the same time his intensity needs to be there no matter what when his number is called, something I didn’t always see in college.

NFL Comparison: Cameron Jordan / NO

9 – Uchenna Nwosu – USC – 6’2/251

Grade: 76

Strong Points:

-NFL caliber technique from head to toe
-Smart, aware player that understands situations and his role
-High effort hustler, is found all over the place

Weak Points:

-Doesn’t jump off the screen when it comes to speed and burst
-Undersized and it shows up when a quality blocker gets his hands inside
-Doesn’t move guys to create a new line of scrimmage

Summary:

Two year starter. A coach’s favorite because of his attention to detail when it comes to techniques and awareness. Plays his butt off each week. Nwosu needs to be watched week after week to truly appreciate what he is. He won’t impress anyone with his tools, although he is a solid athlete with length and easy leverage. When it comes to burst and power presence, he falls just short of what you want in an every down starter. I do think he will find a role and produce at a good enough level to warrant a day 2 pick, but it will be hard to get a lot out of him play after play.

NFL Comparison: Kyle Van Noy / NE

10 – Arden Key – LSU – 6’5/238

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Explosive first step, can get his hands on the blocker in a hurry
-Good flexibility, can make himself small as he bends the edge sharp
-Rangy defender, swallows a lot of space in a blink

Weak Points:

-Effort and passion for the game are rightfully in question
-Inconsistent pad level, gets too high and easily rendered ineffective
-Doesn’t use a wide variety of rush moves, techniques are behind

Summary:

Junior entry. At this time last year, everyone had Key as a probable future top 10 pick after his 12 sack breakout season. The offseason leading up to the 2017 season wasn’t kind to Key, as he recovered from a couple of injuries and started to question if he wanted to play anymore. He actually left the team for a bit and even though he returned, he was a shell of his former self. He did flash, however. Key has the tools when it comes to size and burst, but doesn’t have much power or strength to work with yet. He is someone could look at round 3 or 4 and see a project that could be worth trying for, but I suspect he will be gone way before then.

NFL Comparison: Chandler Jones / ARI

11 – Peter Kalambayi – Stanford – 6’3/252

Grade: 75

Strong Points:

-Well developed frame, wiry strong with plenty of functional quick twitch
-Fast in the open field, can factor in space
-Power on the move is there, he is violent with blockers

Weak Points:

-Reaction speed isn’t there, often late on reads
-Instincts are in question, doesn’t feel the action before it happens
-Burst up the edge as a pass rusher won’t scare tackles

Summary:

Fifth year senior and two time team captain. Kalambayi is one of my sleepers for the position. He moves really well for a guy his size. Kalambayi is a hard worker on the field that can make his presence felt on contact with developed power from his lower body. I think his best football is ahead of him and he is entering the league at the right time for a mid round value grab.

12 – Tyquan Lewis – Ohio State – 6’3/269

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Power game is already pro caliber, he can create a new line of scrimmage
-Plays hard, loves to be physical with his hands
-Plays low, plenty of knee bend and will get in to the blocker fast

Weak Points

-Lacks variety as a pass rusher, it is bull rush or bust
-Takes a lot of energy for him to change direction, quick twitch isn’t there
-Struggles to bet blockers up the edge with speed

Summary:

Fifth year senior that has a lot of experience. Has been a consistent power force on that like that will likely be a plus run defender in the NFL. Lewis loves to play the role of a violent bully. He will deliver a punch the blocker and look to finish off a ball carrier hard. His effort is consistent and while the overall talent as pass rush skills may lack, he can find a role somewhere. I just don’t see an every down guy.

NFL Comparison: Vinny Curry / PHI

13 – Ogbonnia Okoronwo – Oklahoma – 6’2/253

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Fluid lower half, easy moving and easy bending
-Change of direction and reaction to the offense is natural and fluid
-Flattens the edge with no loss of speed

Weak Points:

-Plays small, overly reliant on movement and space
-Gets too high and when he does, he is an easy block
-Doesn’t stifle a blocker with his hands

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Was a two year factor for the Sooners, finishing with 29.5 TFL and 17 sacks over that time. A very good mover off the snap that, when he anticipates the snap well enough, can simply out race blockers up the edge. His quickness and body control and make it easy for him to adjust, making him an inside/double move threat as well. Okoronwo is highly touted by some, but he is one dimensional. If an NFL OT gets his hands on him, it’s over. He doesn’t have the strength to get off them and he won’t be much of a run defender. Not a fit for every scheme.

NFL Comparison: Dion Jordan / SEA

14 – Hercules Mata’afa – Washington State – 6’2/254

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Crafty against blockers, understands leverage and hand usage
-Has a nose for the ball, quick to locate and pounce
-Comfortable playing low to the ground

Weak Points:

-Very short arms and it shows up on tape, can be locked up
-Won’t be a speed rushing threat off the edge
-Power game is lacking, if he doesn’t get a head start he can be driven back

Summary:

Fourth year junior entry. Played a unique nose tackle role for the WSU defense. Despite being vastly undersized for the position, he was a very disruptive player. He constantly was in the backfield because of his snap anticipation, reaction, and ability to make himself small to defenders. As an NFL edge rusher, Mata’afa lacks the speed and size you want, but has proven to be crafty with his feet and hands. Might be a gimmick type player, so buyer beware.

NFL Comparison: Matt Longacre / LAR

15 – Davin Bellamy – Georgia – 6’4/255

Grade: 74

Strong Points:

-Man’s power presence already
-Gets his hands on the blocker first and will control the initial engagement
-Good instincts and feel for the action

Weak Points:

-Struggles with lateral movement and adjustment
-Speed up the edge is average at best
-Needs toe extra step or two when recovering

Summary:

Fifth year senior. Has been the run defending edge presence for the Bulldogs over the past two years that will occasionally surprise with burst in traffic. Bellamy is a an aggressive player that has the grown man’s style to playing. Against college kids, he was too powerful at times. I don’t think that will translate in to the NFL but I think there is some hidden potential here as a pass rusher. He is smart and crafty. A solid backup edge rusher that will be a weapon on special teams.

NFL Comparison: James Cowser / OAK

16 – Jeff Holland – Auburn – 6’1/249 –GRADE: 74
17 – Javon Rolland-Jones – Arkansas State – 6’2/253 – GRADE: 73
18 – Dorance Armstrong – Kansas – 6’4/257 – GRADE: 70
19 – Josh Sweat – Florida State – 6’5/251 – GRADE: 70
20 – Marquis Haynes – Ole Miss – 6’2/235 – GRADE: 68
21 – Joe Ostman – Central Michigan – 6’3/255 – GRADE: 68
22 – Duke Ejiofor – Wake Forest – 6’4/264 – GRADE: 68
23 – Anthony Winbush – Ball State – 6’1/249 – GRADE: 67
24 – Trevon Young – Louisville – 6’4/258 – GRADE: 66
25 – James Hearns – Louisville – 6’2/239 – GRADE: 66

NYG APPROACH

Without fully knowing the scheme, I think there is an obvious need for more edge presence on this roster. Whether it be a starter or a backup, NYG will need to address this at some point. Bradley Chubb is a real possibility with their first pick, I firmly believe that. Otherwise, they can sit back and wait for the right value. They can take a chance on Turay, Carter, or even Key on day 2 and hope their high ceiling is reached. Or they can play if safe with a Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, or Uchenna Nwusu. Those guys won’t ever be stars but they play smart and assignment-based, which is what I think they are looking for before anything else.

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