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

Saahdiq Charles – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2020 NFL Draft Preview: Guards and Centers

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

*I AM NOT DOING NFL COMPARISONS

QUICK POSITION OVERVIEW

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

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

GRADING SCALE

90+ All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

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

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

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

74-76: Early Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup/possible starter

71-73: Mid Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup / gamble starter

68-70: Late Day 3 – Back end of roster / Practice Squad / Development guy

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

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

Grade: 80

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

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

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

Grade: 79

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

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

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

Grade: 78

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

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

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

Grade: 78

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

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

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

Grade: 78

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

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

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

Grade: 78

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

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

  1. Damien Lewis / LSU / 6’2 – 327

Grade: 77

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

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

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

Grade: 77

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

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

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

Grade: 76

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

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

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

Grade: 76

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

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

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

Grade: 75

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

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

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

Grade: 72

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

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

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

Grade: 71

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

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

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

Grade: 71

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

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

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

Grade: 71

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

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

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

NYG APPROACH

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

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

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

Chase Young – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2020 NFL Draft Preview: Edge

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

*I AM NOT DOING NFL COMPARISONS

QUICK POSITION OVERVIEW

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

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

GRADING SCALE

90+ All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

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

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

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

74-76: Early Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup/possible starter

71-73: Mid Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup / gamble starter

68-70: Late Day 3 – Back end of roster / Practice Squad / Development guy

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

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

Grade: 91

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

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

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

Grade: 85

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

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

  1. AJ Epenesa / Iowa / 6’5 – 275

Grade: 82

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

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

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

Grade: 80

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

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

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

Grade: 80

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

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

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

Grade: 79

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

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

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

Grade: 79

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

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

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

Grade: 78

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

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

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

Grade: 78

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

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

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

Grade: 77

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

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

  1. Josh Uche / Michigan / 6’1 – 245

Grade: 76

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

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

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

Grade: 76

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

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

  1. Bradlee Anae / Utah / 6’3 – 257

Grade: 75

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

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

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

Grade: 74

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

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

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

Grade: 74

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

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

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

NYG APPROACH

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

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

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

Derrick Brown – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2020 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Tackles

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

*I AM NOT DOING NFL COMPARISONS

QUICK POSITION OVERVIEW

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

GRADING SCALE

90+ All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

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

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

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

74-76: Early Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup/possible starter

71-73: Mid Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup / gamble starter

68-70: Late Day 3 – Back end of roster / Practice Squad / Development guy

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

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

Grade: 84

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

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

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

Grade: 83

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

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

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

Grade: 80

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

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

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

Grade: 79

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

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

  1. Ross Blacklock / TCU / 6’3 – 290

Grade: 79

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

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

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

Grade: 77

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

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

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

Grade: 77

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

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

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

Grade: 76

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

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

  1. John Penisini / Utah / 6’1 – 318

Grade: 75

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

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

  1. Leki Fotu / Utah / 6’5 – 330

Grade: 74

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

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

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

Grade: 73

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

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

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

Grade: 73

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

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

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

Grade: 72

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

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

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

Grade: 72

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

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

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

Grade: 71

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

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

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

NYG APPROACH

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

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

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

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

Isaiah Simmons – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2020 NFL Draft Preview: Linebackers

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

*I AM NOT DOING NFL COMPARISONS

QUICK POSITION OVERVIEW

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

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

GRADING SCALE

90+ All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

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

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

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

74-76: Early Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup/possible starter

71-73: Mid Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup / gamble starter

68-70: Late Day 3 – Back end of roster / Practice Squad / Development guy

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

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

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

Grade: 89

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

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

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

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

Grade: 87

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

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

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

Grade: 81

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

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

  1. Patrick Queen / LSU / 6’0 – 229

Grade: 81

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

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

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

Grade: 77

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

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

  1. Troy Dye / Oregon / 6’3 – 231

Grade: 77

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

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

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

Grade: 77

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

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

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

Grade: 77

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

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

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

Grade: 74

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

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

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

Grade: 73

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

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

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

Grade: 71

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

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

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

Grade: 71

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

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

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

Grade: 71

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

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

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

Grade: 70

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

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

  1. Jacob Phillips / LSU / 6’3 – 229

Grade: 70

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

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

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

NYG APPROACH

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

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

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

Jeff Okudah – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2020 NFL Draft Preview: Cornerbacks

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

*I AM NOT DOING NFL COMPARISONS

QUICK POSITION OVERVIEW

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

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

GRADING SCALE

90+ All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

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

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

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

74-76: Early Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup/possible starter

71-73: Mid Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup / gamble starter

68-70: Late Day 3 – Back end of roster / Practice Squad / Development guy

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

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

Grade: 87

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

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

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

Grade: 85

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

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

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

Grade: 80

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

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

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

Grade: 79

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

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

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

Grade: 79

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

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

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

Grade: 78

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

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

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

Grade: 78

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

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

  1. Jeff Gladney / TCU / 5’10 – 191

Grade: 78

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

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

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

Grade: 78

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

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

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

Grade: 77

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

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

  1. AJ Terrell / Clemson / 6’1 – 195

Grade: 77

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

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

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

Grade: 76

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

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

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

Grade: 74

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

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

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

Grade: 74

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

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

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

Grade: 74

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

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

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

NYG APPROACH

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

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

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

Grant Delpit – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2020 NFL Draft Preview: Safeties

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

*I AM NOT DOING NFL COMPARISONS

QUICK POSITION OVERVIEW

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

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

GRADING SCALE

90+ All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

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

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

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

74-76: Early Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup/possible starter

71-73: Mid Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup / gamble starter

68-70: Late Day 3 – Back end of roster / Practice Squad / Development guy

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

  1. Grant Delpit / LSU / 6’3 – 213

Grade: 82

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

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

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

Grade: 81

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

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

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

Grade: 79

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

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

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

Grade: 79

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

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

  1. JR Reed / Georgia / 6’1 – 202

Grade: 78

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

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

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

Grade: 77

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

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

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

Grade: 77

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

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

  1. Geno Stone / Iowa / 5’10 -207

Grade: 76

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

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

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

Grade: 76

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

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

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

Grade: 75

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

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

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

Grade: 75

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

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

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

Grade: 75

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

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

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

Grade: 75

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

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

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

Grade: 74

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

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

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

Grade: 71

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

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

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

16: Kenny Robinson / West Virgina: 70

17: L”Jarius Sneed / SMU: 70

18: Rodney Clemons / Louisiana Tech: 69

19: Brian Cole II / Mississippi State: 69

20: Jalynn Hawkins / California: 69

21: Chris Miller / Baylor: 68

22: Alohi Gilman / Notre Dame: 68

23: Shyheim Carter / Alabama: 68

24: James Hendricks / North Dakota State: 68

25: Jalen Elliot / Notre Dame: 68

NYG APPROACH

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

Apr 252019
 
Share Button

New York Giants 2019 NFL Draft Review

Draft Pick Scouting Reports
Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports
Eric’s Take on the 2019 Draft

Round Pick in Round Overall Selection Player Selected Video
1 6 6 QB Daniel Jones (Video)
1 17 17 NT Dexter Lawrence (Video)
1 30 30 CB Deandre Baker (Video)
3 32 95 LB Oshane Ximines (Video)
4 6 108 CB Julian Love (Video)
5 5 143 LB Ryan Connelly (Video)
5 33 171 WR Darius Slayton (Video)
6 7 180 CB Corey Ballentine N/A
7 18 232 OT George Asafo-Adjei (Video)
7 31 245 DT Chris Slayton (Video)

2019 Draft Pick Scouting Reports

1st Round – QB Daniel Jones, 6’5”, 221lbs, 4.78, Duke University

SCOUTING REPORT: Jones is a junior entry and a 3-year starter at Duke. He was mentored by David Cutcliffe, who also coached Peyton and Eli Manning. Jones has classic quarterback size and is a good athlete who can hurt teams with his feet. He has decent but not great arm strength. Quick release. Jones is a fairly accurate quarterback who throws with good touch on the football. Jones is very competitive, smart, tough, and hard-working. He has a high football IQ and reads defenses well. His decision-making has been inconsistent at times.

SY’56’s Take: Fourth year junior entry. A three year starter and two time team captain. Despite playing with inferior talent both up front and at the skill positions nearly every week, Jones put together a productive career as both a passer and rusher. The prototypical quarterback when it comes to size and playing style showed glimpses over the past two years of what a first round QB should look like. His NFL-caliber mechanics from head to toe give him the look of a professional passer and him being coached by David Cutcliffe, the college coach of both Peyton and Eli Manning, only helps strengthen the notion of how ready he is. Jones pairs that with toughness and grit that doesn’t come around often. However, there were constant red flags in his tape that are hard to ignore. He didn’t see things well and his decisions were too inconsistent. There just seemed to be a lack of a true feel for the pocket, the defense, and angles. Jones checks a lot of boxes but there is a lot of gamble in the team that takes him even though he comes across as a “safe” bet to some.

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

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

Gettleman: It’s a wonderful thing when need and value match. We are thrilled to get Daniel (Jones). He was up there with everybody else on our board in terms of value and he was just perfect for us. I really believe in this kid. I really believe he is going to be a really nice, quality quarterback for us, for our franchise. He understands what’s in front of him. We’ve spoken to Eli (Manning) and talked to him and Daniel is coming in here to learn. Learn how to be a pro, learn how to be a professional quarterback. He’s the right kid for us. He’s just the right guy, he has the right head. He’s a very mature kid. I have no doubt he is going to come in and do everything he can to prepare himself to follow Eli.

Shurmur: Yeah, I don’t have anything other to add than Jones, for us, he’s very accomplished, he’s very smart, he’s very talented and when we spoke to Eli, I told this to Eli a couple times already, it’s not his job to teach the next quarterback that comes in here. It’s his job to be the very best player he can be and then the quarterback that we bring in, it’s his job to be smart enough to learn from Eli. And I think that’s the scenario that we are presented with. So we are thrilled. Here’s a guy that has played a lot of football, but he’s still very young, he’s tough, he’s competitive and he really has all of the things we are looking for. Good decision making, he has a sense of timing, he is an accurate passer, he’s athletic and mobile, which is important in today’s game. So we are thrilled about him.

Q: Was Daniel Jones your best player available at 6? Did you have a higher grade on him than Josh Allen?
Gettleman: First of all, it is legal for guys to have the same grade. So when we set up our horizontal, they were on the same line.

Q: At what point did you realize he was your guy?
Gettleman: For me, it’s been a while. It’s been a while, to be frank with you.

Q: What stuck out to you?
Gettleman: I loved him on film. I absolutely loved him. I loved everything about him. And then I went to the Senior Bowl and I watched him that week and I (had) decided to stay for the game. During the season, I had gone to see Dwayne (Haskins) at Ohio State, I had seen Kyler (Murray) and Will (Grier) play each other on that Friday night game (on) Thanksgiving weekend in West Virginia, so I had seen those two play each other. I saw Dwayne play in the Big (10) championship game in Indianapolis, so I’ve seen those three guys play and to me it’s really important to see quarterbacks play. Watching them on tape is one thing, seeing them in the environment is definitely, I think, very important. Saw Drew (Lock), Daniel, Jarrett Stidham, (Gardner) Minshew, (Trace) McSorley, all of these guys were at the Senior Bowl, so I decided to stay. I made up my mind that I was staying for the game and, frankly, he walked out there and I saw a professional quarterback after the three series that I watched, I saw a professional quarterback. I was in full bloom love.

Q: How much of your decision was Daniel Jones the quarterback on the field versus Daniel Jones, the person he is off the field?
Gettleman: That’s a nice piece. Obviously, (Duke Head Football Coach David) Cutcliffe, he’s a hell of a coach. He didn’t fall off a turnip truck yesterday. The kid has been well trained. The huge part of this, and I’ve said it before, a big part of this is his make-up. Every single kid that was taken in the first round has had very little adversity. So, we get into it and we talk about this when we have our meetings – and the scouts and the area guys will go out, the regional guys are out, (Director of College Scouting) Chris Pettit is out, and we talk about what kind of adversity has this kid ever had. That’s what you want to know, because what kind of adversity and how they’re going to react, which is huge – and very honestly, how they’re going to react to you guys. Not because you’re meanies, because some of you are nice, but really because of the volume – it’s the volume that’s different. Now, that’s a big part of it. That’s like a bonus here. This kid is really talented, a really talented football player, and the head makes him more better.

Q: Forgetting about the head for a second, what about his talent level did you like more than the other quarterback prospects?
Gettleman: I just thought his pocket presence and his poise were really important to me. I’ve been saying it for a long time: if you can’t consistently make plays from the pocket, you’re not going to make it in the NFL. You’ll be just another guy. You look at Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, they consistently make plays from the pocket. That’s what this kid can do, and he is not by any stretch of the imagination an average athlete. He’s a really good athlete. This kid can extend, make plays with his feet, buy time in the pocket. He’s got feel. He really has all the things you’re looking for.

Q: Does he remind you of Eli as a player? Or, how is he different?
Gettleman: That’s hard for me because very honestly, I didn’t scout Eli in college. I watched film of Eli. After we took him, I thought it would be a nice idea to watch some film. Back then, I was a pro (personnel) guy. Similar in that they both were playing, at that time, Eli at Ole Miss at that time, both playing in difficult conferences with maybe fewer players around them. Eli had a wide receiver that probably ran a 4.65 (40 yd. dash), and he had a little scat-back running back and an okay offensive line. Daniel had about the same thing.

Q: Do you think you could’ve gotten Jones at No. 17?
Gettleman: You never know.

Q: And you weren’t willing to risk it?
Gettleman: I was not willing to risk it.

Q: Is the goal for Eli to start 16 games next season and for Daniel to sit 16 games next season?
Gettleman: The goal is for Eli to be our quarterback, yes.
Shurmur: I told Eli when we visited, it’s your job to win games and keep this guy off the field.

Q: It’s a challenge almost.
Shurmur: Well, not necessarily. I don’t think you need to challenge him that way. I wouldn’t phrase it that way, but that’s the kind of things you talk about when you put quarterbacks together.

Q: When did you know Daniel was the right guy for this organization? Did you have a similar process as Dave?
Shurmur: Yeah, I went through the process. I probably spent more time even this year than last year on the quarterbacks – from watching them play, to interviewing them, all multiple times, to doing all the research on them, because I think it’s important to put these quarterbacks through the full process. We took a trip down to Duke and visited with Coach Cutcliffe, and he kind of connected some of the things, because there were some comparisons to Eli, and I’m not sure I would share them. How is he similar? How is he different? I knew by watching him play that he was tough. That’s very high on the spectrum for me, is toughness, and Daniel has that. As we went through it, when you watch guys throw – and there’s some very talented throwers, very talented, very accomplished quarterbacks in this year’s draft. It’s quick that you can fall in love with them at each exposure, but by the end of it, we really felt like he was our guy, and I felt the same as Dave.

Q: If I’m not mistaken, that was the week of the owners meetings, so you weren’t at his Pro Day, but were with him privately a couple days later. Do you get a different feel when you’re with a guy privately rather than at his Pro Day?
Shurmur: Yeah, but we had private meetings with all the quarterbacks. We had private meetings with them at the Senior Bowl. So, we had many exposures with all the quarterbacks in question, but yeah, I think when you’re with them privately, you get a feel for who they are. I think it’s really important to sort through how they’re wired above the neck. It’s so important for a quarterback. That’s why all these exposures are very important.

Q: When you look at Daniel Jones’ production, his production is not there. Is that a product of him playing at Duke, or is there something about the numbers that says something about him?
Shurmur: For me, I think when you watch him play, you can’t just look at the raw numbers and say this guy can do it or can’t do it? There’s reasons why a ball is complete or incomplete. I really wouldn’t share with you why that is. I thought he was very productive, I thought he was competitive and gritty, and he helped his team win football games. It’s not a fair comparison sometimes, so you have to watch the player compete and work with what he has. I thought he did a heck of a job leading the Duke football team.

Q: When did you talk with Eli and what is his reaction?
Shurmur: I’ve spoken to Eli throughout this process.

Q: When did you tell him that you were going to draft Daniel?
Shurmur: As it was happening. I spoke to Daniel and Dave called Eli. All along, we’ve spoken to Eli about how we are evaluating quarterbacks in this year’s draft, and there is a decent chance there may be a new guy here. It doesn’t bother Eli.

Q: Dave what do you think his reaction was?
Gettleman: He was fine. I told him it’s your job, let’s go.

Q: If Eli thinks he can play multiple seasons, does this end that possibility here?
Gettleman: Absolutely not. Maybe we are going to the Green Bay model, where Rodgers sat for three years. Who knows? It’s one of the deals where it doesn’t make a difference what position it is, you can never have too many good players at one position.

Q: Are you saying you drafted a quarterback number 6 and he might sit for 3 years?
Gettleman: Who knows? I may go out there in my car and get hit. You don’t know. We drafted a quarterback that we believe is a franchise quarterback. We feel he’s a franchise quarterback.

Q: If Eli plays 3 more years, wouldn’t you take somebody at 6 to help Eli do that?
Gettleman: It’s the same question, ‘why didn’t you wait until 17?’ We don’t know. Life’s too short, you don’t know how this is going to work. It’s people drafting defensive tackles when they already have two stud starters, why are you doing that? It’s where value fits and meets the draft pick.

Q: Have you considered extending Eli so he is not a lame duck quarterback?
Gettleman: That’s a hypothetical.

Q: Were you as enamored as early with Daniel Jones as Dave was?
Shurmur: I tried to slow my roll with all the quarterbacks. My first exposure to all of them was their tape. With the way technology is you can watch every one of their throws or any of their actions. As I got to know them, I wanted to go slow on them. I wanted to be deliberate. John Mara and Dave Gettleman said they wanted a consensus on this. I wanted to give them an educated answer as to who I thought was going to be our guy. I was very deliberate about it because this was going to be a big draft pick. We drafted a guy that we think can start and be a starter for a very long time, and when he gets on the field, we will see.

Q: Just curious of how serious the discussions with Arizona were about trading for (Cardinals QB) Josh Rosen?
Gettleman: There was no discussion. I admitted I had reached out and told them if things happen, then we might have an interest. That’s it.

Q: Daniel Jones was booed by Giants fans at MetLife Stadium tonight. What would you tell those fans who are angry and upset that you picked Daniel Jones?
Gettleman: In time, you’ll be very pleased.

MEDIA Q&A WITH DANIEL JONES:

Q: Is this beyond your wildest expectations to go to the Giants?
A: Yes, I didn’t have a whole lot of expectations going into tonight. I was just excited to be here, and however it worked out I was going to be thrilled. I’m certainly thrilled to be in New York and I can’t wait to get started.

Q: What do you think you did to impress the Giants?
A: I think I was confident in myself and showed the best version of myself throughout the process. The process is a long one where you are going to be tested in a number of ways. I think more than anything, I stayed confident in myself and stayed true to that.

Q: What is your relationship like with Eli Manning?
A: He’s been up at Duke a couple times to throw with his guys and workout so I have gotten to see him then. I have been down to the Manning (Passing Academy) camp a couple times, so I got to know him through those two things.

Q: I know you’ve been busy so far, have you heard from him tonight?
A: No sir.

Q: When did you know you were the Giants pick?
A: When they called me, 20 or 30 minutes ago.

Q: Did you have any inkling from your meetings with them that they liked you at (pick) six?
A: I thought they went well, and I certainly feel like I connected with them. I certainly liked them a whole lot, I wasn’t sure how it would work out. The draft is a tough thing to predict, I didn’t have a whole lot of expectations. I thought the meetings went well, I thought we connected and that certainly made me confident. Like I said I didn’t have any expectations or any idea what would happen.

Q: How do you feel about the possibility of sitting for a season behind Eli?
A: I think it’s a tremendous opportunity to learn for a young quarterback. He is a guy that’s had a whole lot of success in the NFL and there is a reason for that. I’m looking to understand that and do my best to learn as much as I can from him while he’s in New York.

Q: How do you feel being viewed as his successor?
A: I’m going to be myself and not try to be Eli or be anything but myself. I think staying confident in that and staying confident in who I am is what’s going to be key to that process.

Q: What was your interaction like with the head coach when you met him?
A: I thought it was great. I think we connected and he is certainly someone who I have a lot of respect for and he’s been a really good coach in the NFL for a long time. So getting to know him and being able to interact with him through this process was great and I thought it went well.

Q: For those of us who haven’t seen you, what do you do well?
A: I think physically, I can make every throw on the field. My accuracy is certainly I feel a strength of mine, and I think I have the athleticism to extend plays and play outside the pocket if I need to. So physically I think I can do both those things well.

Q: What can you get better at?
A: I think I can get better at times making that decision to lay the ball off or throw it away. Coach Cut (David Cutcliffe) at Duke said understanding when to stop competing, understanding when a play is over with. I think I can do better with that.

Q: How much did Coach Cutcliffe talk about the Manning brothers over the years?
A: Yeah, we certainly did watch a whole lot. It was cool going to Duke and being with Coach Cut and being able to hear those stories from when Eli and Peyton were in similar positions to me. Whether it was my first year there, second year, whenever it was just hearing those stories and being able to learn from some of those experiences was an awesome perspective for me and certainly a great situation.

Q: The Giants wanted a quarterback that has faced adversity before. What adversity have you faced?
A: If you look back at my recruitment, I came to Duke as a walk-on, a guy who wasn’t recruited very heavily and I think that was part of it. Not being immediately obvious that I would play college football somewhere or at the level I thought I could, but it worked out and Coach Cut gave me the opportunity to walk-on and I eventually earned a scholarship, but I had to overcome it and I’m glad it went the way it went and I wouldn’t do it any other way.

Back to Top


1st Round – NT Dexter Lawrence, 6’4”, 342lbs, 5.04, Clemson University

SCOUTING REPORTLawrence is a junior entry and a 3-year starter at Clemson. Lawrence is a prototypical run-stuffing nose tackle with excellent size and strength. He often needs to be double-teamed. While Lawrence can generate a power rush, he lacks dynamic pass rush moves.

SY’56’s Take: Junior entry. A blue chip recruit that made an impact right away, winning the ACC Freshman of the Year Award in 2016. He then went on to earn two straight 1st Team All ACC placements even though his production wasn’t anything noteworthy. Lawrence can be a missing piece to a defense that struggles against the run. His mere presence demands attention from multiple bodies and he is no slouch when it comes to pursuing the ball. Even though he is almost always the biggest and most powerful player on the field, Lawrence needs to shore up techniques and be more consistent. He is not an every down player, but certainly one that can dominate in stretches.

*If there is one non-QB I think NYG may be looking at with their 17th pick, it’s Lawrence. He fits the bill with what Gettleman wants up front and the trade of Harrison left that NT role wide open. Lawrence was the piece that made that loaded Clemson front go. I can remember seeing him play as a true freshman and at that moment in time, I said he was ready for the NFL. There is a rare combination of size, speed, and power to go along with more awareness and intelligence than you may think. Big time potential here that can change a defense right away.

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

Gettleman: The second guy, we got me a hog mollie! Dexter Lawrence, he might have been the biggest player in the draft, I don’t know. He’s a quality run player and he’s more than just a two-down run player. This kid can push the pocket and he can have an impact on the pass rush. That’s why we took him at 17 and we are thrilled. He is a great kid. All three of these kids are great kids. We had Dexter in here and he can play the one, the three and the five. He’s versatile, he’s got hips, he can flip to rush the passer and we are thrilled to have him.

Shurmur: Dexter, I was with (Vikings DT) Linval Joseph, who all of you know, in Minnesota and he sort of reminded me of him. He’s sneaky with the pass rush, but he’s really good on first, second down and the run game stuff. Tremendous human being and he’s a big guy and I think you win with big people

Q: Do you see Lawrence as a rotation with (DT B.J.) Hill and (DT Dalvin) Tomlinson? Or, do you see a guy that can play with all three of those guys across the defensive line?
Gettleman: We can play them all three across at the same time.

Q: When you traded (DT Damon Harrison) Snacks, you moved Tomlinson to the nose because you said that was the spot he was best-suited for…
Shurmur: That was the unintended consequence of that, but I would say this, when we play base defense, you have a five-technique, a three-technique and a one-technique, and we can certainly play all three of those guys. Then when we get into our even fronts, certainly there will a little bit of a rotation there, I think, which is good. Again, we can’t have too many good quarterbacks. You can’t have too many good corners, and when it comes to defensive linemen, you can’t have too many good front people. They’ve all got to compete. We’re really thrilled about him. If you haven’t been around him, this is a big human being. He moves well, he’s sneaky quick, and I think he’s going to be a really good addition to our front.

Q: He’s 345 pounds and has a screw in his foot. Did that play into the process at all?
Gettleman: Medically, he’s cleared.

Q: He’s only had four sacks in the past two years.
Gettleman: He was playing on a bad foot.

Q: So you attribute it to that?
Gettleman: Here’s what I want you to understand. This is where numbers don’t tell all the story. Defensive tackles can affect the pass rush if they get consistent inside push. How many times have you guys watched a game, and the ends come screaming off the corner, and the quarterback steps up, and there’s nobody there. You get inside pass rush, those ends come screaming off the corner, they’re going to affect it, and if the guy is getting push, the quarterback is going to step up and Dexter will give him a kiss.

Q: But who are the ends screaming off the corner?
Gettleman: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Oh and by the way, (LB) Lorenzo Carter had 5.5 sacks last year.

Q: But the Giants two most recent Super Bowl teams had around 50 sacks.
Gettleman: I was with them.

Q: But you know both of those teams really affected the quarterback.
Gettleman: Rome wasn’t built in a day, it wasn’t built in a day. This takes time.

MEDIA Q&A WITH DEXTER LAWRENCE:

Q: What were your interactions like with the Giants? Did you have any sense that they liked you in the first round?
A: Yeah, just my first meeting. I felt that, especially the first time I met them. Every interaction with them was pretty good. I was just being myself, honestly. That was kind of my goal throughout this whole process. Making a team like me for who I was, and not being somebody that I’m not. I feel like with the Giants, we were vibing a little bit. I’m just happy right now.

Q: When most people think of you, they’re going to think of Snacks (Lions DT Damon Harrison). Are you playing like Snacks?
A: I feel like my game is very powerful, a smart player, non-quit effort kind of guy. That’s just my mindset every play, and how I want to attack every snap.

Q: What was your reaction to finding out you landed in New York and with the Giants?
A: I grew up a New York Giants fan. So, it’s a great moment. My goal is to come in day one and challenge the defensive line as being the greatest unit in the world kind of thing. That’s just kind of what my mindset is going to be and what is has been since I’ve been in high school. Let’s not settle, let’s go get it. Right now, I’m real happy to be a Giant.

Q: How’d you end up a Giants fan?
A: Growing up watching the D-line, (former Giants DE) Justin Tuck, and (former Giants DE) Michael Strahan, and (former Giants DT) Fred Robinson, (former Giants DE) Osi Umenyiora. Growing up just watching them kind of inspired me.

Q: You had six and a half sacks as a freshman and only four the next two years. What was the key as a freshman, and what happened the last two years?
A: As a freshman, nothing changed with anything. I feel like my sophomore year, I was battling an injury playing on one leg kind of deal. My junior season, I got my confidence back a lot more the second half of the season. The first half of the season, I was kind of timid on it a little bit, but I’ve gotten over that hump.

Q: Do you consider yourself a pass rusher?
A: I do consider myself a pass rusher. I just got to unlock it, that’s all. A lot of times, I didn’t set myself up for things. I know that’ll be the difference, and that’s a big focus of mine is to stop all the doubting.

Q: What was the leg injury?
A: I got a screw in my fifth metatarsal, but that had healed. The problem was they did a nerve block in the back of my leg and it irritated the nerves in my leg and I couldn’t do a toe raise or push-off with it or do anything with it for like a year and a month.

Q: When did you feel like your old self again?
A: I felt like my old self probably halfway through my last season. Like the first half I was a little timid and I wasn’t quite confident with it and then I just had to sit down and talk to myself and be like, ‘You know how you felt playing on one leg, you got both of them back, take advantage of it. Just go out there and use it to the best of your abilities.’

Q: How much did you have to answer to the suspension throughout the process?
A: Every meeting, everywhere I went, every media source. But it was something I had to deal with. It was unfortunate that happened to me. I was innocent, but God had a plan for me and I felt like that helped people learn who I truly was. It got people to know me, I got to express myself. I had the choice to go to the media, I didn’t have to, but I wanted to so that I make the narrative kind of deal and not let people put their little spin on things that they do. So I mean it was really unfortunate, but I had to change my role as a player and I had to become a coach and support my team and make sure their minds were right and just be there for them and just let them know that it’s good, I’m still here and just play like you’ve been playing the whole season.

Q: What can you tell us about Daniel Jones?
A: I like him a lot. Playing against him when we played Duke, I gained a lot of respect for him. He did not quit and he’s deceptively fast. His arm is really accurate, I feel like a lot of his balls were dropped so his stats weren’t really there watching film, but I think he’s really special.

Q: Did you have any sort of bet with (Christian) Wilkins and (Clelin) Ferrell?
A: No, I wouldn’t say we had a bet. We were just all excited for each other. It’s something that we all worked hard for. The reason why those guys came back was to prove who they really were and that’s what all of our goals were me, Austin (Bryant), Clelin and Christian, just go in to this next season and give it our all and play balls out, play like you got to prove yourself right and others wrong kind of deal.

Q: How impressive is it that you have three guys from the same school, on the same line drafted in the first round?
A: It’s great. When I saw that those guys were up I could not stop smiling. I teared up, I felt like I got drafted with them kind of deal. It’s just special that bond that we have and it’s something that will never be broken.

Q: Your first game you get to face Ezekiel Elliott, how do you feel about that?
A: That will be fun, that will be fun. He’s a great running back and I’m ready to compete and help the Giants win some games.

Q: What do you weigh now?
A: Right now, I am 344. My playing weight is going to go down. I’m trying to play between 342 and 335. I’m trying to get my body fat down, that’s really been a focus of mine. I know becoming a pro that’s your number one objective, taking care of your body and that is just my mindset with the right food and the right exercise and everything.

Back to Top


1st Round – CB Deandre Baker, 5’11”, 193lbs, 4.58, University of Georgia

SCOUTING REPORTBaker was a 3-year starter at Georgia. He is an average-sized corner with average overall athleticism. However, he plays with fine instincts, football smarts, and confidence. Baker plays bigger and more athletically than his numbers indicate. He can play both man and zone coverage with equal adeptness with fine awareness and reaction time. He is a physical and aggressive player both against the pass and the run.

SY’56’s Take: Baker was a three year starter for the Bulldogs that progressively improved as a prospect from the beginning of 2017. The two-time all SEC defender (1st Team in 2018) brings the kind of confidence and swagger that can take on the numerous challenges of playing cornerback in the NFL. He can be left alone on an island and stick with anyone on all levels of the route tree as well as make plays on the ball like a receiver. His issues can be correctable, mainly the technique-based and mental ones. The lack of power presence can be an issue at times but in a league where contact is allowed less and less in coverage, the corners that can get the job done via instincts, agility, and speed stand out a bit more.

*Another safe pick here that may have a limited upside, but at this position you just want reliable. That is Baker is a nutshell. I love the competitive spirit, the swagger he shows on the outside. Do I trust him against a Michael Thomas on an island? Probably not. But at the end of the day that isn’t the job of a #1 corner on most teams. He can fit in to any coverage scheme and any role, right away.

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

Gettleman: The last guy we traded up for we feel is the best cover corner in the draft, the kid from Georgia, Deandre Baker. We feel like we got three guys that are going to impact this franchise for a long time.

Shurmur: And then Dave did it, he got Deandre Baker. He’s a cover corner. The thing that impressed me most on tape was how stinking competitive he is. He’s very confident and he’s very competitive and I think when he’s faced with a challenge of a good wide out, he’s going to accept the challenge. Again, as Dave mentioned, the fact that our board met with some of the needs and some of the things that we wanted to answer, we were fortunate enough to get those three players. So we are thrilled to have them and get them in here as quickly as we can and get them going.

Q: Can you talk about where (CB) Deandre Baker is going to fit into the equation? You have (CB Janoris Jenkins) Jackrabbit, you have (CB) Sam Beal, who I believe you said if he was coming out this year, he’d have a second-round grade. Where do you anticipate he can fit in?
Gettleman: He’s going to walk on, he’s going to compete for a starting job.

Q: Is he a slot cornerback? Can he play the nickel?
Gettleman: He’s really an outside guy, but he can play inside. We see him as an outside guy.

MEDIA Q&A WITH DEANDRE BAKER:

Q: When you are sitting there towards the end of round one, did you think your phone was not going to ring?
A: No, I just kept faith, I kept praying. I knew somebody was going to give me a chance. The Giants called and they made my day.

Q: Did you have an inkling that the Giants would be interested in you?
A: I met with them at the combine but that was my only meeting with them. I didn’t know they were going to draft me, I’m just happy right now.

Q: How would you describe yourself as a player?
A: A confident player who is always going to come work. A guy that teammates can always count on to be there on Sundays and any other day of the week. A player that my teammates can count on.

Q: Do you feel you were the best corner available in the draft?
A: Yes sir.

Q: Why is that?
A: Just by the production I put in, and the consistency throughout the years I played.

Q: You weren’t a guy that lit up the combine, how much do you think what you did on the field mattered to the Giants?
A: It mattered a lot. I didn’t have the top numbers at the combine, but nobody’s game film can match mine, nobody’s production can match mine. The Giants knew that, and they took me with the 30th pick.

Q: Do you remember the last touchdown you gave up?
A: It was 2016, the only touchdown I gave up in my career.

Q: What was it?
A: It was a back-shoulder fade from the 1-yard line against TCU in the bowl game.

Q: Does that say something about you, that you can go back and recall what happened on a play from 2 and a half years ago?
A: It just says that I’m up to date and I study the game. I watch the things I did wrong more than the things I did good.

Q: If there was a knock on you it was that you didn’t get enough interceptions?
A: It’s hard to get interceptions when you are not targeted much.

Q: Did you hear from Lorenzo Carter?
A: Not yet, I know Lorenzo Carter is probably trying to call me right now. I have a million calls at one time right now. I’m just waiting to call them when I finish everything.

Q: What is your relationship with him?
A: That’s my boy, ever since I stepped on campus at the University of Georgia. My first day on campus he took me under his wing. I played a couple years with him, that’s my boy.

Q: Have you looked the Giants cornerback depth chart yet?
A: I know a few people. Jackrabbit (Janoris Jenkins) and one more person, but I forgot his name. I know Jackrabbit definitely.

Q: Do you expect to come in here and start?
A: I just want to come in and work. Wherever I land at on the depth chart, I’m ready to work. Go out there and compete with the guys and hopefully get a chance to help my team.

Q: What was it like being in the green room?
A: It was a dream come true. I knew one team would call me before the first round was over with. When the Giants traded back up (into the first round), I kind of had a feeling.

Q: Are you mostly an outside guy or can you play the slot too?
A: I can play outside or slot. I can adapt to any situation. Wherever the team needs me to win that’s where I will go.

Q: Do you consider yourself a shutdown corner?
A: Of course.

Q: How do you define the term shutdown corner?
A: In college I covered the opposing team’s number one receiver that’s how I got the term shutdown corner. In the league I just want to come in and work with my team.

Back to Top


3rd Round – LB Oshane Ximines, 6’3”, 253lbs, 4.81, Old Dominion University

SCOUTING REPORTXimines was an incredibly productive and disruptive player for a lower-level school. Ximines played at end in college but projects to outside linebacker in the Giants’ 3-4 system. He has a nice combination of size and overall athletic-ability. Ximines plays with a relentless style, can be difficult to block, and can get after the quarterback. He flashes against the run but needs to show greater reliability at the point-of-attack against big blockers. Ximines will need a lot of work in coverage. He is a hard worker with good intangibles.

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

Shurmur: “Oshane Ximines, ‘X-Man’ – he’s a scheme fit for us. He’s a guy that’s played a lot of football – 48 starts, has been very productive, many sacks. He’s got a good first step. He’s a good edge player. I think he’s going to be a real good fit for our defense in base, as well as in nickel. Not to mention, as good a player as he is, as productive as he is, he’s an even better person. He’s going to be another real good scheme fit for our locker room. I called him to tell him we were going to draft him, and he quickly said hello and dropped the phone. He’s probably as excited a player to hear that he was going to be a New York Football Giant as anybody that I’ve called in the last couple years. We’re excited to add him to our team, and I think he’s a really, really good scheme fit for us.”

Gettleman: “Yes, he is. As Pat had mentioned, he’s a terrific kid. He’s a three-time captain, and we’re thrilled to have him, and do all that stuff for us.”

Q: What does he do so well that makes him such a good pass rusher?
A: Shurmur: “He has a good first step, and he’s good with his hands. He’s got a good counter move. He’s developed some pass rush at the college level. He’s got it in his body. He’s got that initial quickness that you need as a rusher. Then, he’s got pretty good size. He’s 6’4”ish, in the 250s. That’s a really good sized man, and he’s still got room to grow – he’s young.”

Q: Was he your target going into the third-round?
A: Gettleman: “Very honestly, yes. As the boards break, and we had a second round value on him, the bottom of the second. As the board was breaking, we started talking with about 14 or 15 picks left. As we got closer and closer, we really started going through the process probably, we talked about three guys when we were about six picks away – we talked about three. Then, when a guy comes off, we talk about the next guy. That’s how it lines up. Bottom line is, we were thinking about trading up, but I said no, we’ll hold our water because I didn’t want to give uou our four (fourth-round pick) or two fives (fifth-round pick) for tomorrow, because of what our board looks like. So, he was a target for sure.”

Q: You were thinking about trading up late in the third-round?
A: Gettleman: “Yeah – where we were sitting, we’d have to give up the rest of the draft. We were at No. 95, and we were thinking six could get us up to No. 90, get us up five spots, but let’s just hold our water for now, and I’m glad we did.”

Q: Is it hard to project the talent of an edge rusher from a small school?
A: Gettleman: “Again, the litmus test is he went to Old Dominion, he went to ODU. It’s a Division I program, but obviously it’s not a Power Five. He’s at Old Dominion, so you say to yourself, would this kid start in the ACC? Could he possibly start in the SEC? You think about those things, and he can. The interesting thing about him is because he’s played so much and the kind of kid he is, as Pat said, he has legitimate counter pass rushing ability, counter pass rushing moves. Most of the kids coming out of college have their move when they come off the ball, or they come of the ball they know what they want to do, and if the tackle thwarts them, they don’t know what to do. They’re not power rushers, they get stuck. Oshane can counter punch, which is what made (Broncos LB Bradley) Chubb so special last year. Playing across from that (Broncos LB Von) Miller guy didn’t hurt him.”

Q: He’s forced a lot of fumbles, is that a skill you look at? Is that an innate thing or a taught thing?
A: Shurmur: I think it‘s mportant. You want defensive linemen that contact the ball. The ability to knock a ball out, there’s a feel to a lot of that. He has a good feel for it, he is very productive. You have seen guys from smaller schools go on and have terrific careers. Guys develop differently through their college years. He played a lot of football, but I still think he is young, and his best ball is in front of him. Some of those things that they do naturally are things that show up at whatever level of comp they play.

Q: Is he a third down player or every down player that can stop the run?
A: Shurmur: He’s an edge player for us, so he would play the outside backer spot for us when we are five on the line. We can take the nose out and he’s a pass rusher in a four-man front. He can be a three-down player
A: Gettleman: He’s not a designated pass rusher. He’s a legit three-down player.

Q: Where did the high character show up in your evaluation?
A: Gettleman: That’s a big part of that. It’s the scouts going in and vetting him out. We spent time with him and he is just a real quality kid.

Q: Do you see any of the same traits as Osi (Umenyiora) in him?
A: Gettleman: He has some stuff. As Pat said, the forcing of the fumbles has a lot to do with length and arm length and a knack, which he has. He’s got some things he’s gotta polish up before we put him in that category. To answer your question, the kid really is legitimate pass rush ability.

Q: How important was it to get an edge rusher early in the draft?
A: Gettleman: It was stated last night, we need pass rush help. We feel we have really addressed it with Dexter Lawrence and this kid. We got inside pass rush help and we got outside pass rush help. The quicker you get to the passer, the less time corners have to cover and good stuff happens.

Q: How comfortable are you with right tackle to have to wait until day 3?
A: Gettleman: What I’ll say is, it’s where the value of the board is. When we were picking at 17, after Dexter, the defensive tackle group was falling down the floor. To answer your question, there’s still tackles on the board we like. But again, we had Oshane at the bottom of our second round.

Q: Have you guys ever been in a Draft where you had this long of a wait between picks? What was this day like for you?
A: Shurmur: I haven’t. We had to wait quite a few hours, just like you. We felt good about the move we made yesterday, you saw we went up and got (Deandre Baker), and then all of the sudden today — bang, bang, bang — there was a move on corners, so we felt good about why we did that, so that kind of knocked us out of an early pick. I think when Dave and the guys put the board together, and it falls right on a player that is not only a good player but a player of need, I think it is a credit to the process, and I think as we all get to know this guy better — “The X-Man (Oshane Ximenes)” — I think everybody will see why we picked him.

Q: Dave, did this board fall the way you expected it to?
A: Gettleman: You know, there is always going to be wild card things. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and people have different ideas. The best way I can respond to that is, we have not had to reach for a pick. Daniel was where we had him graded, Dexter was right there. Deandre, you know he is sitting way up top, sitting up fairly high, we’re looking at what is going on and we’re saying, “We have to take him. We have to make a move and go get him.” And then the X-Man — generally speaking, everybody’s board is going to be different, OK? If things are working for you, more often than not after you get past the first round, more often than not you are going to get guys a round above (their grade) — so, for example, last year’s, we had a first-round grade on Will (Hernandez). We had second-round grades on B.J. (Hill) and Lorenzo (Carter), so it worked for us last year, it worked today.

MEDIA Q&A WITH OSHANE XIMINES:

Q: How does it feel to be drafted by the Giants?
A: Honestly, this is the best feeling I have ever had in my entire life. My family is from New York, everybody has been rooting for me to go to New York, and to actually have it happen. I have been waiting all day for this. I wouldn’t want to go to any other team. I’m just excited and ready to get to work.

Q: How much contact did you have with them during the draft process?
A: Honestly, not that much. I wasn’t expecting it. I saw them coming up with the pick and when I saw it, I was like, ‘please’. I got the call and I don’t know how to feel right now.

Q: What do you make out of being the first Old Dominion player ever drafted?
A: I’m extremely happy to set that standard for Old Dominion. Being the first player drafted, I hope to set a standard now and have the tradition continue and have more players drafted in the future.

Q: How good of a pass rusher are you?
A: I do what I can. I’m ready to come in and compete, learn the defense and contribute on special teams.

Q: When did you realize it was a realistic possibility that you could be drafted in the 3rd round of the NFL draft?
A: I figured the NFL was a possibility by my junior year of college. Agents started reaching out to me and it started to become a reality. I just tried to work as hard as possible to get picked as high as I could.

Q: How much did the Senior Bowl help you?
A: Very much. I had an awesome experience down at the Senior Bowl. Being able to compete against the best players in the country. I would recommend the Senior Bowl to any player coming out of college because you get that exposure to every NFL team.

Q: Did you meet with the Giants a lot there?
A: I met with them one or two times, but you basically meet with everybody throughout that process.

Q: You said earlier you wanted to be drafted by the Giants, what was the reason for that?
A: My family is from New York. I was born in New York and my entire family lives up there. Just to be on the team where I was born, that would have been awesome. My whole family was rooting for that and it actually happened. We are all excited for it, I’m just ready to get out there and compete.

Q: Where were you born?
A: Queens, New York.

Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I grew up in Ahoskie, North Carolina. My entire family lives in New York. Only my mom and my sisters live in North Carolina. My family up there was rooting for me to go to the Giants.

Q: So you must be jacked up about the tradition of pass rushing outside linebackers this franchise has had?
A: Oh, most definitely. I’m just ready to come in, and do my best, and just be ready to compete.

Q: What is it you do that you force so many fumbles?
A: When you get a free lane to the quarterback, the first thing you have to target is the ball. One thing my coach always preached was, ‘A sack is pretty good, but a sack-fumble is awesome,’ so every time I get off the ball, I try to go for the ball, try to create a turnover.

Q: Who have you modeled your game after? Who do you like studying?
A: I try to take bits and pieces from everybody. One person I’ve watched a lot is Yannick Ngakoue, and I watch Olivier Vernon a lot. There are a lot of people I just pick and choose from — if somebody has a good move, I try to emulate that.

Q: Have you played more with your hand in the dirt or as a stand-up guy?
A: I’ve done a good mix. I’ve played with my hand in the dirt, and I have stood up here at Old Dominion. It would all depend on the game plan that week and what my coach wanted me to do.

Q: Do you have a preference?
A: Not really, I just feel like it is pretty much the same. I don’t really have a preference.

Q: How about running with guys in coverage?
A: Yeah, we have a lot of sub three-down packages here at Old Dominion, and in that case, I had to drop into the flat or take the seam (and) cover up No. 2 a little bit, and some things like that.

Q: What do you think the jump in competition is going to be like?
A: I’m pretty sure it is going to be great. The NFL is the best of the best, so I’m ready to come in and just work as hard as I can to learn the defense and contribute on special teams. I’ll be ready to go.

Q: Were you disappointed you didn’t go in the second round, or is this kind of where you were expecting?
A: You know, my hope was I wanted to be first overall (laughter), but I’m thankful for the Giants believing in me and taking that shot on me. They are going to get everything I got.

Q: Where is your draft party right now? Where are you?
A: I’m actually just at home at my mother’s house.

Q: In North Carolina?
A: No — she lives in Suffolk, Virginia now.

Back to Top


4th Round – CB Julian Love, 5’11”, 195lbs, 4.54, University of Notre Dame

SCOUTING REPORT: Love is a Junior entry who started three years in college. Love lacks ideal height and speed, but he is a quick, instinctive, dependable coverman. He sticks to his man in coverage and will make plays on the football. Love is not afraid to mix it up with a receiver and reacts well to double moves.

SY’56’s Take: Junior entry who was an All American in both 2017 and 2018. Leaves Notre Dame as the all time leader in pass break ups and was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award this past season. Love is a pro-ready corner that checks a lot of boxes when it comes to technique, reaction speed, and quickness. He is a weapon against the pass when covering the short and intermediate passing game. While his lack of size and strength can be exposed by certain match-ups, Love has the kind of game that can be moved inside-out. Safe and reliable corner that has starter written all over him.

*The thing that stood out to me about Love over and over was his safe, dependable play. He looked like a pro each week from an awareness and technique perspective respectively. Rarely did I ever find him out of position or lacking the control needed to make plays on the ball. I know I’m not getting a star here, but I am getting dependability and as I said earlier, that is what I want at the position.

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

Gettleman: Julian Love, we see him competing for the nickel and he can play outside, as well. Ryan Connelly, we see him as a versatile Mike linebacker, very smart, instinctive kid.

Shurmur: Julian Love is a really, really good football player. He can play in the slot. He can play high. He’s kind of got that tweener kind of corner safety ability, which makes him a unique player for us.

MEDIA Q&A WITH JULIAN LOVE:

Q: What do you think you demonstrated at Notre Dame to show that you can be a starter at this level?
A: I had a pretty great three years at Notre Dame. I started a lot of games, played in all my games. I was healthy, I competed with the best at Notre Dame. So I know I can do a lot of things, so I think that’s what teams saw. I’m excited to showcase that going forward.

Q: What do you do best?
A: I think I’m a pretty physical player, I don’t shy away from contact at all. If anything, I show a lot of effort, I’m a smart player and I make plays. That’s what I’ve done my whole life and I’m excited to do that going forward. I’m just going to continue to be a playmaker.

Q: Do you have a chip on your shoulder about how it ended, not being able to finish what you started in the Cotton Bowl?
A: I do, there’s a lot of pride with my friends from Notre Dame and the community. I did want to end this perfect season the right way. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do that and I’m carrying that with me. You can’t take anything for granted. You have to finish the job no matter what. That’s definitely on my mind, in the back of my head.

Q: Do you like being in the slot?
A: I do, I think my skillset allows me to be inside, which is great. I can play outside or inside. Wherever they need me, I am going to compete to the best of my abilities. I feel pretty good about playing inside.

Q: Did you have much contact with the Giants during this process?
A: Not fully, no. This process was a lot, I talked to a lot of teams, but I’m happy to be in New York. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Back to Top


5th Round – LB Ryan Connelly, 6’2”, 242lbs, 4.68, University of Wisconsin

SCOUTING REPORT: Connelly was a 2-year starter in college. Instinctive, smart, tough inside linebacker. He has a nice combination of size and overall athleticism. Connelly is a good, solid run defender who is at his best when moving forward. He needs to become a more consistent tackler. Connelly is better in zone coverage than man-to-man. He should do well on special teams.

SY’56’s Take: Inside guy who fits the Giants’ scheme well. Two-year starter who was productive and consistent in both a good and bad way. Won’t reach the sidelines via speed but he showed good instincts, good reactions. Not a guy you want in coverage. I think he will be a good special teamer, has a nose for the ball and gets through traffic on the move.

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

Gettleman: Ryan Connelly, we see him as a versatile Mike linebacker, very smart, instinctive kid. Darius Slayton is a take the top off the coverage guy. He’s a 4.3 guys who plays 4.3, so he’s got big time speed.

Shurmur: Ryan Connelly we add to the linebacker group, he’s one of those guys, he can run sideline to sideline, very physical, and he’s a very, very effective, very productive guy.

MEDIA Q&A WITH RYAN CONNELLY:

Q: Did you have any idea of where you might go? Were you surprised when you got the call?
A: “Yeah, I was a little surprised. I knew somewhere around this time was kind of when I was slotted to go. We were just kind of waiting for the call, and it came.”

Q: What do you think you can bring to the table for this team?
A: “I’m just really excited to see all my new teammates and get going on this defense, learning the defense. That’s probably going to be the first thing, is figure out everything I need to figure out, just so I can help the team in any way I can.”

Q: Can you talk about your journey from walk-on to today?
A: “It’s pretty surreal just coming from a high school quarterback, to walking on at Wisconsin, and now getting to play for the New York Football Giants. It’s pretty crazy, and it doesn’t even seem real to me yet.”

Q: You said you played high school quarterback. When did you make the switch to linebacker?
A: “Right when I got to Wisconsin.”

Q: Was it your choice? Or, was it a coaches’ decision?
A: “No, it was a coaches’ decision. I think they needed some people to fill up the inside linebacker room, and that’s just kind of where I ended up, and I’ve been there ever since.”

Q: What was your interaction with the Giants before today? Any meetings with coaches at Pro Day or bowl games?
A: “Yeah, I met with them at the Combine. I talked to the linebacker coach at Pro Day. Those went well, obviously. So, that was my interaction before today.”

Q: How much special teams did you play in college?
A: “I played a lot my first two years, and then my last two years, I was on punt and kickoff. That’s definitely something I’m willing to do.”

Q: Did I read something that your season was ended by a surgery?
A: “Yeah, I had a sports hernia at the end of last season that I had been playing through, and finally decided to get it fixed back in December, but I’m fully healed. That hasn’t affected me at all to this point.”

Q: Are you going to any Islanders playoff games?
A: I’m gonna try to now, for sure.”

Q: You played inside linebacker at Wisconsin, right?
A: “Correct.”

Q: Is that where you see yourself suited for with the Giants in their 3-4 (defense)?
A: “Yeah, that’s where I’m definitely most comfortable, but like I said, I’ll play wherever they need me.”

Q: How would you evaluate yourself in the coverage game? How comfortable are you with covering tight ends and running backs?
A: “At Wisconsin, we did a little bit of everything – whether it features zone (coverage) or man (coverage), man (coverage) on the tight end, man (coverage) on the running back, we kind of switched it up a lot. Kind of experienced kind of doing all those different things there.”

Q: What did (Defensive Coordinator) James Bettcher just tell you when you talked to him on the phone when they picked you?
A: “Just welcome to the Giants, and that they’re happy to have me, and happy to get started. I don’t know, honestly, it’s just kind of all a blur at that point. I was just trying to pay attention as close as I could.”

Q: How’s your mom doing?
A: “She’s doing great, thanks for asking.”

Q: Yesterday was the big day, right?
A: “It actually got pushed back one week. Next Friday will be the next day.”

Q: What is he referring to Ryan?
A: “My mom’s cancer treatment will be ending next Friday, and then hopefully the checks will be all clear for lung cancer.”

Q: Were you a Vikings fan or a Packers fan?
A: “I grew up as a Packer fan.”

Q: Position wise, what did teams view you as? Where do you think you fit best in this defense?
A: “I’m more of an off the ball linebacker – a ‘WILL’ (weak side linebacker), a little ‘MIKE’ (middle linebacker). Those were kind of the main things they talked to me about.”

Back to Top


5th Round – WR Darius Slayton, 6’1”, 190lbs, 4.37, Auburn University

SCOUTING REPORT: Slayton is a junior entry who started two years in college. He combines good size with outstanding overall athletic ability and speed. Slayton stretches the field and can get deep. He is dangerous after the catch. Slayton needs to improve his route running and become more consistent catching the football.

SY’56’s Take: Fourth year junior entry. Slayton arrived at Auburn as an accomplished high school track athlete and enters the NFL with a very high ceiling. His speed and burst are functional and usable on the field, he is much more than a track athlete. He consistently averaged near-20 yards per catch over his career and displayed dominant stretches against SEC cornerbacks.. He is a deep threat who will make a defense account for him at all times. While there are limitations to his game underneath and at the point of attack, this kind of deep threat and ability to extend plays after the catch is worth the risk. Boom or bust.

*I am taking a chance on Slayton, I simply have too many plus game notes over the past two seasons to ignore it. The Auburn offense is difficult to scout as it could create numerous false opportunities but at the same time it may prevent a guy like Slayton from really showing everything he can do. I love the way he moves and his worst case may be a Ted Ginn caliber vertical threat.

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

Gettleman: Darius Slayton is a take the top off the coverage guy. He’s a 4.3 guys who plays 4.3, so he’s got big time speed.

Shurmur: Darius Slayton is an outside receiver that has some inside characteristics, but the 4.3 speed shows up on tape. He’s extremely fast. He can get behind the defense, and we all know the effect that can have for an offense.

MEDIA Q&A WITH DARIUS SLAYTON:

Q: Do you think the way you ended your college career kind of sent you over the top?
A: “I definitely think it was a nice exclamation point to my career, for sure.”

Q: How would you describe your game? What have teams told you about what they like about you?
A: “I think my biggest strength is my speed. I’m able to push the field vertically, as well as catch the ball intermediately, and I have ability to go and score. That’s probably some of the biggest things I’ve heard from teams that I hope to be able to bring the Giants. Just help take the top off the defense and help us win games.”

Q: Where do you see your speed paying off the most? Long deep balls, or catch-and-run concepts?
A: “I can do either/or, but obviously the deep ball is probably the main area. I just want to go out there and show that I can do it all. I can do underneaths, I can do deep, I can do whatever they need me to do.”

Q: You don’t return kicks or punts, right?
A: “No sir, I didn’t in college.”

Q: You ran the entire route tree in college, didn’t you?
A: “For the most part, yes ma’am.”

Q: What’s it like playing in that Auburn offense, because it’s not exactly the same as playing in the Washington State office. Do you have to block a lot there?
A: “Yes, but that’s anywhere in the SEC. There’s big-time running backs, so you obviously have to do a little more blocking probably in the SEC as opposed to the Pac-12. I feel like on the pro level, especially somewhere like the Giants when they have a back like (RB) Saquon (Barkley), you got to do your part and block for him, as well when it comes time to run routes and catch the ball, then do your own job. I think it’s prepared me to come into this situation and be successful.”

Q: You seem pretty subdued. Is this later in the draft than you expected to go? Or, are you just a calm guy?
A: “No, I’ve had a couple of minutes to collect myself. If this had been five minutes ago, I couldn’t talk at all (laughter), but I’ve had a couple of minutes to collect myself. Just trying to manage my excitement. Everybody says first-round slip, or whatever you want to call it, but at the end of the day, getting drafted into the NFL is a really hard thing to do. I’m just grateful for the opportunity.”

Q: What was your initial thought of how you’re going to fit in the offense, and what your role can be here?
A: “The phone just went off, and it actually shows up as New Jersey. So, my brain didn’t register New York Giants at first until the coach on the phone said the New York Giants, and I was like, ‘That’s crazy.’ I remember they took the quarterback in the first-round, and obviously have Eli Manning, who has been a really good vet. I feel like they’re going to have good quarterbacks and have had some good receivers over the past few years. Like I said, just hope I can get in there and do my part.”

Q: What do you want to show them that you don’t feel like you’ve shown the league yet?
A: “Just that I’m a complete player. I think through this process, I was fighting people putting me in a box as just a deep guy, or just a this guy, just a whatever guy. Just to have a complete game – that I can run the full route tree, I can get in and out of breaks, as well as beat you deep with my speed. I think that’s the biggest thing I have to show as soon as I get there.”

Q: How much were you personally limited by the offense this year?
A: “It was just one of those things where sometimes you just don’t always execute on all cylinders as a team, but at the end of the day, I had opportunities to make plays while I was there this year and last year. I did what I could with my opportunities.”

Q: Have you had a chance to study the Giants? Do you know much about the offense they run other than having Eli Manning here?
A: “When (Browns WR) Odell (Beckham Jr.) was there, I watched a fair amount of Odell film, but I haven’t had the chance to dive deep into their scheme, personally. Honestly, just kind of on the surface. Looking at receivers like Odell, like (WR) Sterling (Shepard). I actually had a high school teammate of mine who signed on with the Giants as a free agent a couple of years ago. It’s been a team I’ve watched a little bit.”

Q: Who was that teammate?
A: “(Free agent WR) Kalif Raymond – played for the Giants a little while. I don’t think he’s on the team anymore.”

Q: What did you think of the Patriots drafting (Former Auburn QB) Jared (Stidham) behind (Patriots QB) Tom Brady?
A: “I’m happy for Jared. I think he’s really going to excel, especially in that offense where he’ll be able to – I think he can be Tom Brady-esque, because Jared is really smart, he throws very well from the pocket, he’s good at making quick decisions. So, I think that’s a great fit for him, and he loves Tom Brady to death. I’m sure that’s like getting drafted by God for him. I’m happy for him.”

Back to Top


6th Round – CB Corey Ballentine, 5’11, 196lbs, 4.46, Washburn University

SCOUTING REPORTBallentine was a 2-year starter at a Division-II college. He combines decent-size and excellent overall athletic ability, quickness, and speed. Raw, he will need a lot of technique work. Ballentine proved he can compete with the big boys at the Senior Bowl. He has experience returning kicks.

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

Gettleman: Corey Ballentine, another height, weight speed guy and just played at a small school, and he’s got ball skills, he’s got ball production. He has played the nickel, as well… He’s 5’10”, he’s 196 pounds, he runs 4.44, plays 4.44. He’s got ball skills, he’s played the nickel, he’s played outside. How do you pass him up?

Shurmur: Corey Ballentine, he’s just a good solid football player, and he’s a guy that’s going to come in and compete. And the one thing to remember is all these guys as they fight for a spot on 1st, 2nd and 3rd down, these guys all can run, so they’ll be contributing on 4th down, on special teams.

MEDIA Q&A WITH COREY BALLENTINE:

Q: How did you end up at Washburn?
A: I wasn’t really highly recruited for football coming out of high school. I was a late bloomer, I was recruited more for track. Washburn was one of my few football offers that believed in me. They believed they could help me grow and get better as a player. I met with the coaches and I figured it being close to home and I was comfortable with my coaches and teammates, it would be the best option for me. That’s why I chose it over other schools. I had a couple other D2 offers but I figured Washburn was the best one out of the other offers.

Q: Is it satisfying you never had to transfer to get to this moment?
A: No, I never transferred. I was at Washburn for 5 years, I redshirted, and I was a three-year starter so I never went anywhere else.

Q: You only played 2 years in high school, right?
A: I played all four years but I wasn’t on varsity until my junior year. I played varsity for two years.

Q: Inside/outside, you do it all as far as what you can handle in the secondary?
A: I used to play free when I was in high school. I got recruited to Washburn as a corner. When I started playing, I started as a down safety in our defense, so kind of like nickel. I played nickel for two years then I played corner in 2017 and 2018. I’m comfortable playing both positions inside and outside. I don’t have a problem with either.

Q: How important was the Senior Bowl for a guy coming from a small school?
A: It was definitely very important for me. I’ve always felt like I could compete with that type of competition as far as being with those D1 guys. This was kind of like my first real opportunity and I think I went out there and I did well. My real goal was just to improve every day. I knew I wasn’t going to go out there and immediately just lock everyone down, but as long as I was growing mentally and growing physically and getting my technique better, I felt like that was more important. I ended up starting the game, so I felt like someone was seeing the improvements I was making as well. It was definitely important, kind of an eye opener for me because there is a lot of things I haven’t seen as far as routes, route combinations that I haven’t seen in Division II. When I got to the practices and one on ones and stuff, I saw that for the first time. It kind of opened my eyes and let me know I need to be more on my p’s and q’s. There are certain things I can get away with in Division II football that I can’t get away with there or in the NFL. I am definitely prepared for the challenge, but I’m glad I went there. I am definitely grateful for the opportunity.

Q: Did the Giants give you any sense of where they would like to start you off?
A: No, we never really talked about it too much yet. I’m happy to fill in wherever I need to, I’m not too worried about what position I’m going to be playing because I feel like I can learn and adjust. I feel like that’s what the game is about, adjustments and adjusting to adversity. I’ll take whatever (inaudible) we haven’t really talked about it. I’m assuming corner and maybe a little bit of nickel corner, it doesn’t really matter to me.

Q: Are you also a return guy?
A: I’ve been returning for a while. In 2017, I averaged 30 yards a return. They stopped kicking to me in 2018. I’m definitely a return guy, I didn’t do punt returns but I will do it, I don’t have a problem with it. I’m on every special team, so I will definitely be on special teams with the Giants as well.

Q: They put up a graphic that said you were born in Jamaica?
A: Yeah, that’s right, I was born in Montego Bay and moved to Kansas when I was about six years old around 2001, 2000.

Q: What was it like getting the call from the Giants?
A: It was surreal, I’m sure you have heard it a lot, but this is something I have always dreamed of. It took me back to the moment when I got recruited to college and I told my coaches this is something I wanted to do, I wanted to go to the NFL. We were all kind of giggling and here the moment is, I’m getting the call from the New York Giants. It’s just surreal because I didn’t know how I was going to do it, I know I wanted to do it, I just didn’t know how. Now that the moment is here, I’m trying to soak it in really. I worked so long to prepare for this moment, going to the combine and the Senior Bowl not knowing what my future was holding. Now I’m finally getting to figure out my destination. I’m really just trying to soak in the moment. I have already talked to the head coach and the defensive coordinator and my position coach. I’m definitely getting a feel for them already. I’m enjoying the ride already.

Q: In the Senior Bowl did you play against Daniel Jones?
A: I’m sure I did. They rotated the quarterbacks every quarter so I’m sure I was in there at some point. I’m not sure.

Q: What were your pre-draft meetings with the Giants like?
A: They had sent scouts out to my school during the season maybe three times. I met with them at the Senior Bowl as well. I met with the D-coordinator and I talked with him. I had at least a 30-minute, 40-minute conversation with him just going through schemes and things that we do at my school compared to things that they do and my strong suits and whatnot. I talked to him for a while and he kind of let me know enjoy the process and embrace the grind. That’s what I have been trying to do. I also had a conversation about a week ago about how I would adjust to living in New York being from a small city and whatnot. I think I’ll adjust fine. I haven’t really had any visits to or been to New York. Like I said, it’s an adjustment that I will have to get used to. I don’t think it will be a problem for me, I have no character issues, I have none of those issues, so I’m looking forward to it.

Q: Have you ever been to New York?
A: I have never been to New York. This will be my first time. I’m definitely looking forward to the change of scenery. I’m in Kansas right now, so it is probably way different, but I’m definitely ready for it.

Back to Top


7th Round – OT George Asafo-Adjei, 6’5”, 306lbs, 5.03, University of Kentucky

SCOUTING REPORTA two year starter at right tackle in college, Asafo-Adjei combines decent size and athleticism with good effort. He was a team captain.

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

Gettleman: We’ve got the big tackle from Kentucky, George (Asafo-Adjei). I’m not going to try to pronounce his last name. I don’t want to embarrass myself. But we see him competing at right tackle… It’s the length. It was the toughness. You know, he’s played in the SEC – he’s going to see good pass rushers every week. He’s kind of getting a little taste of what’s ahead of him. Like I said, the length, the toughness, and the ability to fight through, lining up in the SEC every Saturday.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GEORGE ASAFO-ADJEI:

Q: How exciting is it to get the call that you are coming to the Giants?
A: Oh my gosh, I feel like the luckiest man in the world. I’m blessed, truly blessed.

Q: Were you surprised it was the Giants?
A: Honestly, I was a bit surprised. I was not expecting that, I had been in contact with them before, but like I said it was a surprise honestly. God is good.

Q: What was your experience like building up to the draft, what were your expectations?
A: My expectations were just work hard in the off-season. I have had a passion for the game since I started playing. I haven’t played my whole life, I gained a love for it and I saw what it did taking me out of situations at home and all that kind of stuff. I’m just blessed, and I kept pursuing it because I believed this was my ticket. I worked hard in the off-season, did well in the pro day, got a lot of hype and I’m just blessed to be in this position right now.

Q: What was it like going up against a top ten pick in Josh Allen every day, how much better did he make you?
A: It was a great experience. We both sharpened each other honestly. He had troubles going against me, I’m a speed guy I’m good with the pass rush. He’s a great edge rusher, I gave him problems, we both helped each other. You saw it in the outcome of the season and the outcome of our play. It’s just a blessing to be on a team like that with multiple other players.

Q: You were born in the Bronx?
A: Yes, sir I was born in the Bronx.

Q: Did you grow up here, where did you grow up?
A: I moved from the Bronx when I was about 8 years old and moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. I remember the Bronx. I have visited there almost every summer.

Q: Are you a Yankees fan?
A: No, I don’t follow baseball.

Q: You alluded earlier to what football did for your life, what kind of adversity did it help you through?
A: My mom works hard, she has worked hard since I was born. She has been working 3 jobs, literally 3 jobs every day. She probably gets 4 hours of sleep every day, we went through some rough patches in life, but we overcame thanks to God. He’s taken me out of that situation, and he has taken our family out of that situation. I’m happy for our blessings. I don’t have a father in my life, that’s been much harder as well. I thank God, God is good and he answers prayers.

Q: Do you have a lot of family in New York?
A: Yes, for sure I do.

Q: You went on a mission to Ethiopia?
A: Yes, we went to Ethiopia last year in May. I’m from Africa, I’m not from Ethiopia I’m from Ghana. It was still good to be back in the homeland of Africa. It was a blessing to be a blessing to others and help others and pray for people. It was a very beautiful thing and I loved that experience. It’s even shaped me to continue that in my life and I even opened a LLC. I want to give back to any poor countries and any poor communities around here. It’s eye opening to see those people don’t have anything, but they are the happiest people in the world. Anyone can take something from that, just seeing them struggle I want to give back to them so bad.

Q: When you said you didn’t have a father, was your mother a single mom?
A: Yes, she was a single mother. It’s been rough growing up, but by God’s grace she was able to provide. We went through rough patches between me and her. By God’s grace we were okay, and we’ve overcame. Forgiveness is a big part, I’m just happy to be in the situation I’m in right now. God is more than good.

Q: Is it just you and your mother or do you have brothers and sisters?
A: I have a sister, but I didn’t meet her until I was 14 because the process to bring people from Ghana is a long process. My mom had to work on it since I was born, and it took that many years just to accept her into the U.S. and get a visa. That’s a blessing too, I love my sister she has overcame a lot herself, so it’s just a blessing for us all to be together as a family.

Q: What was you Mom‘s reaction when you got drafted?
A: She was screaming, going crazy. I’m happy for her, she gets to see her boy make it. I’ve worked really hard for this. I’m going in there not to just goof around, but I’m going in there to take a job, I’m going in there to make a name for myself. I truly believe I’m a dog. I can’t wait for you guys to see that.

Back to Top


7th Round – DT Chris Slayton, 6’4”, 307lbs, 5.09, Syracuse University

SCOUTING REPORTSlayton was a 3-year starter in college. Versatile, he has experience at both tackle and end, and probably projects to the latter in the Giants’ 3-4 defense. He is strong with decent size, long arms, and first-step quickness. Slayton is a good run defender who plays with leverage. He can be disruptive and flashes at times, but he needs to do it more often. Team captain.

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

Gettleman: Chris Slayton – kid from Syracuse who’s a big, violent, inside banger.

MEDIA Q&A WITH CHRIS SLAYTON:

Q: What was your reaction when you heard it was going to be the Giants who was taking you?
A: It was a great reaction man. I was excited. My mom called me as soon as it happened. They’re excited for me. All around, it’s a big moment for us.

Q: Who are you watching the draft with?
A: Right now, I’m alone at my apartment. I was going to meet my parents afterwards.

Q: What was your pre-draft interaction with the Giants? Did you meet with them at a bowl game or a Pro Day?
A: I first met them down at the East-West Shrine Game week, and at the Combine. I liked them a lot, and they liked me, so it all worked out.

Q: Are you a three-tech or a one-tech? Where do you play exactly on the defensive line?
A: Either or, both.

Q: What do you bring to this team?
A: Just a strong work ethic. I love to compete. I’m a high competitor.

Back to Top


Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports

QB Eric Dungey, 6’3”, 220lbs, 4.68, Syracuse University (Video)
Dungey was a four-year starter in college. He combines excellent size, overall athletic ability, and a strong arm. Although he improved as a senior, Dungey was an inconsistent quarterback throwing from the pocket, with his best plays usually created with his feet outside of the pocket or as a runner. He performs well in the clutch. Dungey is a developmental project who will need patient coaching. He has been somewhat injury prone.

RB Jonathan Hilliman, 5’11”, 216lbs, 4.50, Rutgers University (Video)
A transfer from Boston College, Hilliman is a big, strong, physical running back. He is not a dynamic runner, but steady and productive. Hillman can catch the ball out of the backfield.

WR Reggie White, Jr., 6’2”, 208lbs, 4.45, Monmouth University (Video)
White combines good size, speed, and overall athletic ability. He was a productive receiver at a lower level of competition. He has to prove he can separate from NFL-caliber defensive backs. He has a good catch radius but he must improve his route running skills.

WR Alex Wesley, 5’11”, 190lbs, 4.45, University of Northern Colorado (Video)
Wesley is an average-sized receiver with good speed, quickness, and overall athletic ability. He was a productive receiver at a lower level of competition. Wesley makes plays down the field and can be dangerous with the ball after the catch.

TE C.J. Conrad, 6’4”, 248lbs, 4.70, University of Kentucky (Video)
Conrad was a four-year starter in college. Versatile, he has played in-line, H-Back, and even some fullback. Strong, high-effort blocker who lacks the overall athleticism to be much of a factor in the passing game.

OC James O’Hagan, 6’1”, 300lbs, 5.31, SUNY Buffalo
O’Hagan was a three-year starter at a lower level of competition. He lacks ideal size but is strong and quick. O’Hagan is a high-effort player.

OT Paul Adams, 6’5”, 317lbs, 5.21, University of Missouri
Adams was a three-year starter and two-time team captain in college. He is a big right tackle with long arms and good power. Adams is a high-effort, relentless player with average athleticism. He is a better run blocker than pass blocker.

DE Freedom Akinmoladun, 6’3”, 284lbs, 4.94, University of Nebraska
Akinmoladun started 41 games in college, but finished with just 11 sacks in four seasons.

DE/LB Nate Harvey, 5’11”, 237lbs, East Carolina University (Video)
Harvey was named “AAC Defensive Player of the Year” after switching from running back to defensive end as a senior. He finished the year with 12 sacks and 24.5 tackles for a loss. Given his lack of size, Harvey projects to linebacker. He is a quick, but extremely green player who will need a ton of technique work both moving forward and dropping into coverage.

DE/LB Jeremiah Harris, 6’3”, 243lbs, 4.83, Eastern Michigan University
Harris played defensive end in college but could project to linebacker in the Giants’ 3-4 scheme. He had a productive senior season in college with 98 tackles, 14 sacks, 17 tackles for a loss, and 10 pass break-ups.

LB Josiah Tauaefa, 6’1”, 232lbs, 4.83, University of Texas-San Antonio (Video)
Tauaefa is a junior entry and a three-year starter in college. Inside linebacker with good strength. He lacks ideal size and overall athletic ability. Tauaefa is a high-effort player who is better moving forward than in reverse.

CB/LB/S Jake Carlock, 6’3”, 225lbs, Long Island University-Post
An instinctive play-maker at a low level of competition, Carlock played in a variety of roles in college including cornerback and linebacker, but most likely projects to safety given his size. He can also long snap.

S Jacob Thieneman, 5’11”, 205lbs, 4.57, Purdue University (Video)
Thieneman lacks ideal athleticism and size, but he is a smart, instinctive player.

S Mark McLaurin, 6’1”, 212lbs, 4.77, Mississippi State University (Video)
McLaurin looks the part and has good size. But he is a limited athlete who does not play a physical game. He needs to improve his play against the run and tackle better. McLaurin lacks speed and range in coverage.

S Tenny Adewusi, 5’11, 199lbs, 4.54, University of Delaware (Video)
Born in Nigeria, Adewusi converted from a high school quarterback to collegiate cornerback. He started as a senior after spending his first three years in college as a defensive reserve and special teams player.

Back to Top


Eric’s Take on the 2019 Draft

Before I review the team’s 2019 NFL Draft, I want to preface my remarks with one comment. Fans need to stop allowing ill-informed drama queens in the “media” to influence their opinions. The ugliness and viciousness of personal attacks by “professional journalists” and unhinged fans levied at 21-year old Daniel Jones are beyond the pale. The media’s need to constantly create controversy and negativity in order to generate revenue, combined with decay in polite decorum fueled by the anonymity of social media, have turned people into animals with a mob mentality.

The reaction to the drafting of Jones is comical. Before the draft, the prevailing opinion from media types and fans was that the Giants MUST draft a quarterback in the 1st round. It was widely argued that Eli Manning was nearing the end, and if anything, the Giants should have drafted a viable replacement a year earlier. It was also argued by many in the media and fans that if the Giants were going to draft a quarterback they had a conviction on, they should do it at #6 and not #17 to avoid risk losing him or sending a message that they didn’t have a strong conviction on him. “If you truly believe a quarterback is your franchise guy, why would you wait to #17?” they questioned.

As April 25th approached, only two quarterbacks in the draft were being associated with the Giants: Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins. And reports were that it was Jones who the Giants were higher on, while interest in Haskins appeared to be waning by the Giants and other teams.

My point in all of this is two-fold: First, how the hell was the selection of Daniel Jones at #6 a surprise to anyone? The Giants were either going to draft a quarterback or a defensive lineman/edge rusher at #6. Anyone paying attention knew that. Secondly, if you argued that the Giants needed to draft a quarterback, how can you complain after the fact that they did so? Many media types and fans had been arguing that Dave Gettleman was unwilling to seriously rebuild the team because they wouldn’t move on from Eli and draft his replacement. “There is no plan! If the Giants come out of this draft without a quarterback, the team is clueless!” I heard that said over and over again on ESPN and the NFL Network and read it over and over again in the print media. Hello, the Giants drafted a quarterback. They have set the wheels in motion to replace Eli. They did want you insisted they needed to do!!!

Kyler Murray was off the board. That left the options being Haskins (who they clearly did not like as much), Josh Rosen (who they clearly did not have much interest in, as did the rest of the NFL), a lesser option later in the draft, or the guy who they felt was the best quarterback in the draft. Now you may not agree that Jones was the best QB in the draft, but the Giants did. Right or wrong, they had a very strong conviction on the guy. What about trading down from #6 or up from #17? Those were certainly options but the Giants were clearly not willing to risk someone else trading in front of them. (Also note that the Broncos traded down as soon as the Giants drafted Jones).

So in a matter of days, we went from “the Giants must draft a QB in the first round!” to “why the heck did the Giants draft a QB at #6?” I feel like I’m taking crazy pills when I hear this stuff.

Full disclosure: when the Giants were on the clock, I was also hoping for the team to draft Josh Allen. But I knew there was a strong possibility it was going to be Daniel Jones or Dwayne Haskins. I wasn’t shocked. Neither should you have been.

Why did the Giants draft Jones? He’s a 6’5”, 221-pound quarterback (bigger than Sam Darnold) who runs a 4.78 40-yard dash (faster than Sam Darnold) and who carried an otherwise terrible Duke team to an 8-5 record. His line and receivers were not good. Only two of his teammates (one offensive, one defensive) were even invited to the NFL Combine. Being weaned by quarterback guru David Cutcliffe, Jones was the most pro-ready quarterback in this draft. He started 35 games in college, as compared to the 14 games that Haskins started on a super-talented Ohio State team.

That all said, everyone is missing one of the most important factors in why the Giants believe Jones is the right selection. Right before the draft, Gettleman said:

If we have a QB rated in the first round, we love him… A lot of it is physical ability to play the game. One of the things that I really believe is… Being a quarterback of a team in this type of market is a load. It is a mental load. You have to really vet out the background of these guys. Just like being the head coach of this team is a load, being a quarterback is a load, too. It is more than just looking at a guy’s physical talent. It is about his makeup. A lot of you guys were here Eli’s first year. He starts the last nine games of the year and there were a couple games early on, the Baltimore game, where he was what, 4 of 15? Something like that. He is there and then we are playing Dallas in the last game of the year. We are on the six-yard-line going in and we have no timeouts. There is 12 seconds left in the game and he has the cojones to audible to a draw. If we don’t score, we lose the game. You have to have a mental toughness about you to play the position here in New York. Or to play the position anywhere. That is a huge piece of it. It is important. If you don’t think it is, you need to re-think it.

Right or wrong, the Giants not only feel that Jones has physical talent, but he has the mental tools to succeed in New York. If you don’t understand that, you won’t understand why they made the selection.

Dexter Lawrence was the best nose tackle in this draft and a guy who many fans and I were hoping the team would selected at #17. The defensive line was a major need for this team with only B.J. Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson obvious candidates to start. Now the team has a 340-pound nose tackle who will demand double-team attention, forming one of the more-talented and youthful trios in the NFL. The Giants finished a disappointing 20th in run defense in 2018. If you can’t stop the run, you won’t be able to rush the passer. Lawrence is not your average nose tackle – he can dominate a game. Think Haloti Ngata or Vince Wilfork.

Leading up to the draft, I argued that cornerback was the team’s top need. The Giants only had 30-year old Janoris Jenkins, undrafted Grant Haley, the untested Sam Beal, and a bunch of no-name question marks at the position. The Giants must have agreed because they came out of this draft with arguably two of the best corner available in Deandre Baker and Julian Love. (Oddly, Baker was the first corner to be drafted when the Giants took him a #30, so they had the pick of the litter). Assuming Corey Ballentine fully recovers from a shooting incident, the Giants have now positioned themselves to be set at corner for the next four years, especially if Sam Beal develops. Baker and Love are not just good, but they will bring swagger to a unit that desperately needs it. When you think of the NFL’s best secondaries, they always seem to play with a chip on their shoulder. Also note that Love was expected to be drafted much higher than he was in the 4th round.

Not surprisingly, the 5-11 Giants had a ton of holes all over their roster. Even with 12 (eventually 10) draft picks, they couldn’t address all of their needs to the satisfaction of many. One obvious area was a pass-rushing linebacker. The only addition there was Oshane Ximines in the 3rd round. Ximines is a relentless player who will get after the quarterback, but it’s a big jump from Old Dominion to the NFL. He will also have to learn how to cover. As a rookie, at best, expect him mainly to be a situational pass rusher and special teams player.

Inside linebacker was also another area needing an infusion of talent. Ryan Connelly is a tough, instinctive, better-than-advertised athlete who could surprisingly press for playing time as a rookie. B.J. Goodson had better be on his toes.

Wide receiver was a major need and the Giants added one of the fastest players in the draft with Darius Slayton. But in order for him to receive significant playing time, Slayton will have to learn the pro game (Auburn runs a more simplistic scheme) and run better routes. But Slayton has the one thing you can’t teach – speed – and he was expected go higher than he was selected.

One of the surprises of the draft is the team did not address the offensive line until the last round. “Once the fourth round was over, our offensive tackles (on our draft board), that value was pretty much wiped out,” said Gettleman after the draft. Fans will demand, “Then why didn’t the team draft an offensive lineman earlier?!” The answers are obvious. The team had a ton of needs and you stick with your board.

Regardless, according to Gettleman, the Giants had 5th-round grades on both of their 7th-round picks. The first was SEC-tested right tackle George Asafo-Adjei. The second was “big, violent, inside banger” defensive lineman Chris Slayton.

Overall, the media and fan noise on Jones has unfortunately over-shadowed what appears to be a productive draft. For the first time in my lifetime, the Giants had three 1st-round picks. And one of those picks was spent on Eli Manning’s eventual replacement. Lawrence and Baker should start and have the ability to become two of the NFL’s better players. Love may also take over the nickel job (a de facto starting position) from Haley.

My guess is that players such as Ximines, Darius Slayton, and Ballentine will need some time to develop. But all three should be immediate contributors on special teams and Ximines could become a situational rusher on defense. I would not be shocked to see Connelly push for playing time. Both seventh rounder should supply much needed depth. I expect all 10 players to make the team, with 2-3 immediate starters.

But obviously, this draft will be judged on Jones. Regardless of the Giants say publicly, I have a hard time seeing the team re-signing Eli Manning at the end of this season unless something strange happens (i.e., the Giants go 12-4). In 2019, you don’t draft someone at #6 and ask him to sit 2-3 years. Barring the unforeseen, I expect 2019 will be Eli’s last season as a Giant. How effectively Jones picks up that mantle in 2020 and beyond will largely determine the fate of the franchise for at least the next five years. And Jones will constantly be compared to Haskins in Washington, Rosen in Miami, and LB Josh Allen in Jacksonville. Get ready for weekly “I told you so!” crap until Jones shuts up the naysayers.

Back to Top

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

Dwayne Haskins – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2019 NFL Draft Preview: Quarterbacks

*Grading Scale:

90+: Elite, All Pro

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

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

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

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

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

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

67 and under: UDFA

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

QUARTERBACK

WHERE THEY STAND

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

TOP 25

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

Grade: 81

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

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

NFL Comparison: Ben Roethlisberger / PIT

2: Daniel Jones – Duke – 6’5/221

Grade: 80

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

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

NFL Comparison: Ryan Tannehill / TEN

3: Drew Lock – Missouri – 6’3/228

Grade: 77

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

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

NFL Comparison: Jay Cutler / FA

4: Kyler Murray – Oklahoma – 5’10/207

Grade: 77

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

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

NFL Comparison: Russell Wilson / SEA

5: Ryan Finley – NC State – 6’4/213

Grade: 77

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

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

NFL Comparison: Sam Bradford / FA

6: Jarrett Stidham – Auburn – 6’2/218

Grade: 75

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

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

NFL Comparison: Trevor Siemien / NYJ

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

Grade: 74

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

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

NFL Comparison: Kirk Cousins / MIN

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

Grade: 74

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

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

NFL Comparison: Matt Schaub / ATL

9: Tyree Jackson – Buffalo – 6’7/249

Grade: 73

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

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

NFL Comparison: Paxton Lynch / SEA

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

Grade: 72

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

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

NFL Comparison: Drew Stanton / CLE

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

Grade: 72

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

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

NFL Comparison: Case Keenum / WAS

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

Grade: 71

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

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

NFL Comparison: Brian Hoyer / NE

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

Grade: 70

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

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

NFL Comparison: Taylor Heinicke / CAR

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

Grade: 70

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

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

NFL Comparison: Mason Rudolph / PIT

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

Grade: 70

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

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

NFL Comparison: Cardale Jones / LAC

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

Eric Dungey – Syracuse – 6’3/222: 69

David Blough – Purdue – 6’’0/205: 69

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

Jordan Ta’amu – Ole Miss – 6’3/221

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

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

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

Kyle Kempt – Iowa State – 6’5/224: 66

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

NYG APPROACH

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

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

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

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

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

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

Josh Jacobs – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2019 NFL Draft Preview: Running Backs

*Grading Scale:

90+: Elite, All Pro

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

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

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

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

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

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

67 and under: UDFA

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

RUNNING BACKS

WHERE THEY STAND

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

TOP 25

1: Josh Jacobs – Alabama – 5’10/220

Grade: 80

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

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

NFL Comparison: Jordan Howard / CHI

2: Damien Harris –Alabama – 5’10/216

Grade: 79

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

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

NFL Comparison: Jonathan Stewart / FA

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

Grade: 79

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

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

NFL Comparison: Darrell Williams / KC

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

Grade: 78

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

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

NFL Comparison: Mark Ingram / BAL

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

Grade: 77

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

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

NFL Comparison: Nyheim Hines / IND

6: Bryce Love – Stanford – 5’9/200

Grade: 75

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

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

NFL Comparison: James White / NE

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

Grade: 76

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

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

NFL Comparison: Tevin Coleman / SF

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

Grade: 76

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

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

NFL Comparison: Todd Gurley / LAR

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

Grade: 76

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

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

NFL Comparison: Isaiah Crowell / OAK

10: Tony Pollard – Memphis – 6’0/210

Grade: 76

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

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

NFL Comparison: Ty Montgomery / NYJ

11: Benny Snell – Kentucky – 5’10/224

Grade: 76

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

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

NFL Comparison: Jamaal Williams / GB

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

Grade: 74

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

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

NFL Comparison: Peyton Barber / TB

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

Grade: 74

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

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

NFL Comparison: Devonta Freeman / ATL

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

Grade: 74

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

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

NFL Comparison: Lamar Miller / HOU

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

Grade: 74

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

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

NFL Comparison: Dion Lewis / TEN

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

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

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

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

20: Reggie Gallaspy – 5’11/235: 72

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

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

23: DJ Knox – Purdue – 5’7/211: 71

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

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

**TOP UDFA SLEEPER**

Jalin Moore – Appalachian State – 5’10/212

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

NYG APPROACH

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

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

A.J. Brown – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2019 NFL Draft Preview: Wide Receivers

*Grading Scale:

90+: Elite, All Pro

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

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

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

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

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

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

67 and under: UDFA

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

WIDE RECEIVERS

WHERE THEY STAND

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

TOP 25

1: AJ Brown – Ole Miss – 6’0/226

Grade: 82

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

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

NFL Comparison: JuJu Smith-Schuster / PIT

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

Grade: 81

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

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

NFL Comparison: Demaryius Thomas / NE

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

Grade: 80

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

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

NFL Comparison: Keenan Allen / LAC

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

Grade: 78

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

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

NFL Comparison: Michael Gallup / DAL

5: Darius Slayton – Auburn – 6’1/190

Grade: 79

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Slayton arrived at Auburn as an accomplished high school track athlete and enters the NFL with a very high ceiling. His speed and burst are functional and usable on the field, he is much more than a track athlete. He consistently averaged near-20 yards per catch over his career and displayed dominant stretches against SEC cornerbacks.. He is a deep threat who will make a defense account for him at all times. While there are limitations to his game underneath and at the point of attack, this kind of deep threat and ability to extend plays after the catch is worth the risk. Boom or bust.

*I am taking a chance on Slayton, I simply have too many plus game notes over the past two seasons to ignore it. The Auburn offense is difficult to scout as it could create numerous false opportunities but at the same time it may prevent a guy like Slayton from really showing everything he can do. I love the way he moves and his worst case may be a Ted Ginn caliber vertical threat.

NFL Comparison: Ted Ginn / NO

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

Grade: 79

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

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

NFL Comparison: Tyrell Williams / OAK

7: Riley Ridley – Georgia – 6’1/199

Grade: 78

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

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

NFL Comparison: Tyler Boyd / CIN

8: DK Metcalf – Ole Miss – 6’3/228

Grade: 78

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

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

NFL Comparison: Terrell Owens / RET

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

Grade: 78

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

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

NFL Comparison: Golden Tate / NYG

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

Grade: 77

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

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

NFL Comparison: Kenny Golladay / DET

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

Grade: 77

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

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

NFL Comparison: Kenny Stills / MIA

12: Jamal Custis – Syracuse – 6’4/214

Grade: 77

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

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

NFL Comparison: Devin Funchess / IND

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

Grade: 76

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

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

NFL Comparison: Robert Woods / LAR

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

Grade: 76

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

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

NFL Comparison: Mike Williams / LAC

15: Ashton Dulin – Malone – 6’1/215

Grade: 76

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

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

NFL Comparison: Davante Adams / GB

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

**TOP UDFA SLEEPER**

AJ Richardson – Boise State – 6’0/212

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

NYG APPROACH

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