Apr 272019
 
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Julian Love, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (November 24, 2018)

Julian Love – © USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, the New York Giants made six more selections in the 2019 NFL Draft:

  • 4th Round: CB Julian Love, 5’11, 195lbs, 4.54, University of Notre Dame
  • 5th Round: LB Ryan Connelly, 6’2”, 242lbs, 4.68, University of Wisconsin
  • 5th Round: WR Darius Slayton, 6’1”, 190lbs, 4.37, Auburn University
  • 6th Round: CB Corey Ballentine, 5’11, 196lbs, 4.46, Washburn University
  • 7th Round: OT George Asafo-Adjei, 6’5”, 306lbs, 5.03, University of Kentucky
  • 7th Round: DT Chris Slayton, 6’4”, 307lbs, 5.09, Syracuse University

CB JULIAN LOVE SCOUTING REPORTLove 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 on CB Julian Love: 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.

LB RYAN CONNELLY SCOUTING REPORTConnelly 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 on LB Ryan Connelly: 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.

WR DARIUS SLAYTON SCOUTING REPORTSlayton 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 on WR Darius Slayton: 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.

CB COREY BALLENTINE SCOUTING REPORT: Ballentine 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.

OT GEORGE ASAFO-ADJEI SCOUTING REPORT: A two year starter at right tackle in college, Asafo-Adjei combines decent size and athleticism with good effort. He was a team captain.

DT CHRIS SLAYTON SCOUTING REPORT: Slayton 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)

DAVE GETTLEMAN: We got 10 guys, seven on defense, three on offense. You know, really we feel like we addressed everything we pretty much wanted to with this group. You know, today we had a lot of speed today. Notre Dame kid, Wisconsin, Auburn, Ballentine, all those guys can run. 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. 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. 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. 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, and then we’ve got the Chris Slayton kid from Syracuse who’s a big, violent, inside banger.

So we just — I stated previously in the postseason presser and a couple times since then that we needed to help this defense, and I feel we addressed that and we filled in some holes with the offense.

PAT SHURMUR: These are all guys that are going to — the first few guys certainly come in and we’re going to expect a lot from them, and everybody here has got a role on our team. 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. 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. 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. And then 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. And then the last two picks, the seventh-round picks, these were guys that we had targeted, so we picked an offensive and a defensive lineman to fill out the group The good thing about this, and as I watch the process, these are all players that we like for numerous reasons, and they were available and in the conversation when we were picking them, so we weren’t reaching around the board trying to find guys. In fact, we just kind of hit it right with these players, and so they’re medically fine, they’re great human beings, and they’re outstanding football players, so we’re glad to add them to our team.

Q. What’s the reason for three corners, not a safety or three corners before the offensive tackle?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: Well, I think that, again, I’m not going to reach. I mean, they were there. These guys were graded and evaluated, and again, what happened was — with the tackles and the defensive linemen, really after we took Dexter, it feels like three weeks ago, after we took Dexter two days ago, the defensive tackle group fell off the face of the earth, and once we got down through the — once the fourth round was over, our offensive tackles, that value was pretty much wiped out The Kentucky kid we had in the fifth round, and the Slayton kid, they were both fifth-round values for us. You can never have too many corners, either. Let’s let them compete. We’ve got some really good-quality — some good returning guys. Really another draft pick for us is Sam Beal. He had the surgery. He’s coming along well. The way the league is, you guys are the ones that keep banging at us, pass rushers, corners, that’s what we did. We listened to you, you know.

Q. Did you know — you ended up taking 10 guys. Did you know — you have to see how it all manipulates and you can’t force it, but did you pretty much go into this on Thursday and say we’re going to get a lot of defensive players, it’s not going to be three or four, we have to build this defense and we’re going to do that, whether it’s five, six, seven, eight, it’s got to be a lot of defensive players?
PAT SHURMUR: Well, I think from my perspective, when we were getting ready to pick, there were some offensive players that ended up being in the conversation on the same line, and we just made some decisions that directed us towards the defense. We knew we were going to make some significant changes to the defense, and we already have, two safeties, Markus Golden. So we’ve done some significant things on defense prior to the draft. We just want to try to improve our football team and make moves that are going to improve the whole team, and I think it’s pretty obvious by the way the season played out, there was a pretty — it was pretty bright that we needed to make some significant changes in some areas, so we went into the draft trying to make our team better. Each individual pick you go through the process of deciding, is this the guy or the guy next to him, and it kind of fell to where we probably picked maybe a corner or two more just because the value of those players was good. So that’s how it kind of filled out.

DAVE GETTLEMAN: I’ll give you an example. Corey Ballentine, 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?

Q. The natural reaction when you draft corners is, is Janoris still going to be on your roster. Is there any doubt in your mind that he won’t be here?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: No, Janoris has a bunch of puppies he’s got to train.

PAT SHURMUR: He’ll become a good teacher. I admire Janoris. He’s tough. He’s competitive. He always answers the bell, and I’ve gained a huge appreciation for him coaching him over the last year or so, and so just keep — put all these young guys in a room with him, and I think Janoris will be Janoris, and if these young guys are smart enough to listen, then they’re going to learn a lot of really good stuff.

Q. We only talked to these guys for a couple minutes after you drafted them, but a lot of them seemed like extremely high-character guys, team captains, very grateful, very — what you’re looking for, right, as far as culture. Is it tough when you’re scouting these players to — because you don’t want to reach, right, to find a guy who has the value and talent and also has that character along with it, especially in a class that you assembled here with a lot of them who seem to have both?

DAVE GETTLEMAN: You know, it’s part of the evaluation process, and I bang on our scouts big time, you’ve got to vet these guys out. Very honestly, these are the kinds of kids we want to bring in here, smart, intelligent kids who hate to lose, and that’s what we’re looking for. This was an especially unique group. But we put blues on these kinds of guys, and we had a draft that was almost completely blue because that’s what you want to build around.

Q. What about George (Asafo-Adjei) specifically impressed you? On the phone he told us a little bit about his adversity, his background, single mom, all that, and obvious that he’s not a guy who’s on a lot of mock drafts, so something must have clicked, right?

DAVE GETTLEMAN: Well, 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.

Q. We know Remmers came in for a visit a month ago. Any update on where that stands?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: Well, he’s still rehabbing, and we’re continuing to talk with him, so we’ll see.

Q. Are you optimistic that that could happen?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: Time will tell. Got to rehab. Going to bring him in and take another look eventually.

Q. That’s essentially the plan then, bring him in another time?
PAT SHURMUR: We had a good visit when he was in.

Q. Did you feel like only taking one offensive lineman, it seems like you’re leaving yourself a little light, that’s why Remmers —
DAVE GETTLEMAN: Right, no, it makes sense.

Q. Do you have guys that you like now and in the drafting period that maybe you didn’t have grades to draft them but you like them coming —
DAVE GETTLEMAN: That’s what’s going on upstairs right now. There are a couple guys specifically, and we’re hoping to land them.

Q. Your son Kyle apparently is signing with Kansas City…
PAT SHURMUR: Yeah.

Q. How was that for you today, having to balance your draft and what was happening with your son?
PAT SHURMUR: No, I think it’s terrific. I think certainly my history with Andy (Reid) runs deep, and so as we’re watching the picks come off, certainly that was running parallel, hoping he was going to end up in a really good place, and I think regardless of whether he was picked or not, he’s ending up in a really good place, so he’ll go there and compete, and I think he’s going to be with a terrific team, and what I consider to be an outstanding quarterback culture, and that’s what you want for a young player that’s going to learn how to play the position at this level, so I’m happy for him.

Q. I know that you drafted a quarterback, but was that ever going to be an option here, or did you want that to be separate?
PAT SHURMUR: He and I talked about it, and I think that’s got to run separate. That’s the way we always parented, as well – listen, we’re here to support you, but go make your way in the world. We’re going to try to help you in every way possible, and as we all know, sometimes this is not very kind. And so he’s always known that, and he’s always known that he had to go out and do it and compete, and this is just the next step in that, next phase actually.

Q. You’re lined up to have a lot of cap space the next off-season?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: Right.

Q. Is that a big part of your plan, are you looking ahead knowing that that’s a deliberate thing, it didn’t just kind of happen that way?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: It was kind of both. You know, it’s funny, if you have confidence in your drafting skills, you know that two, three years with the — you’re going to be able to start extending, and you always want to be in a position to extend. It was like when I was in Carolina this — I’m holding on to cap space, and they’re screaming about why aren’t you doing this, why aren’t you doing that. I said, I don’t know, call me crazy, there’s this guy Luke Kuechly we’re going to have to extend and some guy named Cam Newton you’re going to have to extend, and these things are going to happen. It’s one of those deals where there’s obviously different theories on how to manage that cap, but at some point in time, shame on you if you can’t keep your good young players home. In Carolina there were a couple times where I just couldn’t do it. Financially we had to pick between Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei, had to pick between Trai Turner and Andrew Norwell. They’re both going to cost a fortune, so you had to make decisions and keep moving and take the comp picks. But to answer your question here, no, it’s part of it, because you can’t — you don’t want to get in a position where you’re kicking cans down the road and you’re restructuring and you’re adding cap issues down the road. In an ideal world you clear it and then you can do what you call — you can get the long-term contracts with flat paragraph 5s and back loading and doing all that kind of crazy stuff. So to answer your question, the short answer is, yes, it’s part of the plan.

Q. Going back to day one, when you come into a draft off two tough seasons where you’ve won eight games, is it tough to make a pick for a future quarterback? You’re using a 6 and you know he’s probably not going to play until next year so there’s no immediate benefit?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: That’s a great question, and that’s why I always say, I’m on a tightrope. I’ve got to think short-term, and I’ve got to think long-term. That’s the box I’m in. That’s the position I’m in. Coaches have to win now, and I ask myself — I’ve told you guys a million times, I ask myself that question, am I giving Pat and the guys enough players to win with, okay. And really, you know, it’s tough. But I can say this to you guys right now. When we got in here Thursday night, the question was posed, why didn’t you wait until 17. Well, I know for a fact there were two teams that would have taken him in front of 17. I know that for a fact. So it’s tough, it really is. It wasn’t easy for me to pass up Josh Allen. For me, my background, that was very, very difficult. But I think that much of Daniel Jones and his future as an NFL quarterback.

Q. How much did you try and move up with that 17 pick, maybe get ahead of those two teams so you had two first-round picks, let’s say in the top 10?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: After we picked Daniel?

Q. Or did you contemplate it beforehand?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: No, I didn’t — no, did not contemplate beforehand. We were going to make the pick at 6 and then go from there. I had no intention of moving up. None.

Q. You guys both said Thursday night that you talked to Eli and he was okay, then there was a report on the radio yesterday that he was upset. Anything you guys — do you guys still believe he’s okay? And did you talk to Lauletta?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: Oh, gosh.

PAT SHURMUR: We saw Lauletta in the training room the next day.

Q. So you talked to him?
PAT SHURMUR: Yeah, our people talked to him.

Q. And he was okay?
PAT SHURMUR: Yeah, as far as we know.

Q. Do you want to comment on the radio?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: I’m not going to respond to that. Come on, now.

Q. How much better do you feel about walking the tightrope and having the long-term and short-term crunch, how much clearer is that long-term vision? How much better do you feel about it now after this draft?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: I feel much better. I thought we had a very — a real quality draft. And time will tell. We’re going to know how good this draft was in three years. That’s when we’ll know. We’ll know how good last year’s draft was in two more years.

Q. Without being flippant, but do you ever sit here after a draft and look at the things and say to yourself, this didn’t work out for us this year, I don’t have a good feeling about this?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: You mean like tonight I’m going to look at these tonight and have that feeling?

Q. Yeah.
DAVE GETTLEMAN: I’m telling you right now, no.

Q. I don’t mean this year, I mean in any year would you ever think that? Or do you always think I picked these guys that are good players?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: Of course. You know, as far as I’m concerned, we had a hell of a weekend, you know? I mean, gosh. They’re good players here.

Q. Is there — with Oshane Ximines, you’ve got interior pressure on the D-line too, is there more you’d still like to add to the pass rush from the outside?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: We’ll see. You know, we’ll see. Again, you guys are forgetting, Markus Golden two years ago before the ACL had 14 sacks. He’s coming back, whatever he had, five last year. We added him. Lorenzo (Carter) is going to be better. He had the five last year. They get better. The young kids do improve, you know? And really at the end of the day — listen, my first year at Carolina, we had 60 sacks. It was nuts, okay. Do I want to have 60 sacks every year? Who doesn’t? I know Pat wouldn’t be upset. But at the end of the day, it’s about moving guys off their spots. It’s about all the other stuff. So you know, it’s a game within a game.

Q. Pat, what do you need to see from Daniel when he gets here on Thursday, Friday or Saturday?
PAT SHURMUR: We’re just going to get him started, put him through the paces, and I think every time they go on the field, you want them to execute what we’ve given him to do that day, and so we’ll start at square one with him and get him up and running and see how far he can take it and how quickly he can learn it. Our anticipation is he’s going to learn quickly, and we’ve seen that he can perform at a high level. It’s just got to look like good football, and I think that’s make good decisions, throw on time, be accurate, execute well, be smart with the football, all the things you’re looking for on Sunday you want to see it in practice, and you give him a little bit at a time, as time goes on, it builds up, and you just hope he builds on that.

Q. Is there a number of slots for the UDFA’s that you’re looking for?
DAVE GETTLEMAN: Well, we started with 67, 67 plus 10 is 77. I’m counting in my head, I’m not making fun. So basically got 13 — we may sign just half a dozen guys. I’m not in a rush — I think I told you guys yesterday, I’m not in a rush to get to 90. In an ideal world you want 90 guys that belong in a camp. So we’re — upstairs those guys know, if he doesn’t belong in a camp, we’ll wait. We’ve got rookie mini-camp coming in, we’ll have tryout guys, rookie mini-camp next weekend. There will be guys there on tryouts. The first team to 90 doesn’t win the Super Bowl, so we’ll just kind of do that.

MEDIA Q&A WITH CB 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.

MEDIA Q&A WITH LB 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.”

MEDIA Q&A WITH WR 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.”

MEDIA Q&A WITH CB 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.

MEDIA Q&A WITH OT 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.

MEDIA Q&A WITH DT 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.

Apr 272019
 
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Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion (March 2, 2019)

Oshane Ximines – © USA TODAY Sports

With the 32nd pick in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected outside linebacker Oshane Ximines of Old Dominion University.

LB OSHANE XIMINES SCOUTING REPORT: Ximines 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.

Q: What are you expecting tomorrow? You have six picks — do you expect to make all six, move around, maybe trade and get some future capital?
A: Gettleman: Like I said, the Draft is really, it is a full Draft. There are guys in the fourth and fifth rounds that we really like, and we still have third-round guys available. Right now, as the mood moves us, I don’t know that we’re going to move around right now — I’d like to sit and take the three picks — I don’t want to move the fours and the fives, as of right now, but who knows.

Q: You have one comp pick tomorrow — you are also slated to get a good one with Landon (Collins) next year. How much does that factor into just your overall decision making, the comp pick and the value of those?
A: Gettleman: Well, they have become even more valuable because you can trade them, so that’s where they are valuable, but you think about it all the time. You have to look at it as picks are capital, OK, so everybody starts with $7. This year, we started with $12. So that is the way you have to look at it. It is capital. Obviously, the lower the picks, the less they are worth so to speak in terms of moving up, but at the end of the day, you are much better off having more than less. My first year in Carolina, we had five picks. Last year, same thing. You’re sitting there and you are throwing things in the air, and as a new GM going into both places, I didn’t want to steal from the next year. Now, there are some GMs that will do that — they feel like they are up against it, maybe they have a quarterback and, again, they are willing to continually trade next year’s first for this year’s first. Again, that depends upon the situation you are in. I don’t know if you guys remember, but Bobby Beathard who just went into the Hall of Fame used to do it all the time. He would trade next year’s one to get a one this year, and he’d just continue. But, you know, you can never have too many picks, and you just have to be prudent in how you use them.

MEDIA Q&A WITH LB 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.

Apr 262019
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (April 25, 2019)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

With the 6th and 17th picks in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected quarterback Daniel Jones (Duke University) and nose tackle Dexter Lawrence (Clemson University), respectively. The Giants also traded up into the first round, the 30th overall pick, and selected cornerback Deandre Baker (University of Georgia). In exchange, the Giants traded away 2nd (#37 overall), 4th (#132 overall), and 5th (#142 overall) round picks to the Seattle Seahawks.

QB DANIEL JONES 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 on QB Daniel Jones: 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.

NT DEXTER LAWRENCE SCOUTING REPORT: Lawrence 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 on NT Dexter Lawerence: 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.

CB DEANDRE BAKER SCOUTING REPORT: Baker 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 on CB Deandre Baker: 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)

Opening statement:
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.

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.

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: 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.

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

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: 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: 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.

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: 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.

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 QB 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.

MEDIA Q&A WITH NT 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.

MEDIA Q&A WITH CB 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.

Apr 252019
 
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Apr 242019
 
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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
 
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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
 
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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.

Apr 192019
 
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T.J. Hockenson, Iowa Hawkeyes (January 1, 2019)

T.J. Hockenson – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2019 NFL Draft Preview: Tight Ends

*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.

TIGHT END

WHERE THEY STAND

The Giants offense is leaning towards a run-heavy attack with a quick strike passing game. Their QB’s arm is declining year by year and he can’t evade in the slightest form of pressure, their top deep threat is off the team, and the front office traded resources to beef up the offensive line. I talk about this because Evan Engram, as much as he has flashed and as athletic as he is, may not be the fit this personnel grouping needs. He is a below average blocker in the trenches and unless the team plans on using more two tight end sets and/or splitting Engram out as a WR, his days here may be numbered. Rhett Ellison and Scott Simonson both fit the bill more so but neither are anything to write home about. While NYG can survive with these three, I’m not sure they are ideal fits.

TOP 20

1: TJ Hockenson – Iowa – 6’5/251

Grade: 81

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. A steady piece of the two-tight end rotation the Iowa offense employed throughout his career. Broke out in a big way in 2018, winning the Mackey Award despite sharing snaps and looks with fellow Hawkeye tight end prospect Noah Fant. Hockenson is a throw back, hard-nosed player who has unusual short-area quickness and reliable ball skills for a player his size. He still has a ways to go when it comes to physical development and blocking presence, but the body type and mindset are both there. In time, Hockenson can be a solid every down player and starter with the ceiling of being a matchup nightmare.

*If there is one tight end I would be looking at in the first round, at 17-not 6, it is Hockenson. He is a true every down trench player who is athletic and effective enough in the passing game. While I do think some have gotten carried away with touting his blocking and athletic ability, he is on the plus-side in both departments. If NYG really did want to go with a two tight end offense to fit their approach, Hockenson does make sense but a case could be made it is still a reach at 17.

NFL Comparison: Greg Olsen / CAR

2: Dawson Knox – Ole Miss – 6’4/254

Grade: 79

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. A former high school receiver and quarterback who was a highly touted track athlete. Knox will “wow” many in workouts with top tier explosion and speed at his size, but still has a little ways to go when it comes to the football skill set. Knox didn’t get a lot of looks in the loaded Ole Miss passing attack but when he did, he often delivered. The former walk on has a grinder-mentality that, matched with his natural ability and improving techniques, can be molded into a difference maker at the next level.

*If it is determined that the two TE offense is the way to go but the agreement in the room says Hockenson isn’t worth pick 17, Knox is a very solid fall back option who doesn’t get a ton of attention from the media. But from what I see, he is the kind of kid teams want to develop. Talent is there and the dude plays hard, really hard. Not hard to believe he just didn’t get to show the world what he can do playing in that WR-heavy offense at Ole Miss.

NFL Comparison: David Njoku / CLE

3: Noah Fant – Iowa – 6’4/249

Grade: 77

Summary: Junior entry. First team All Big 10 in 2018. Burst on to the scene in 2017 with 11 touchdowns and 16+ yards per catch, both school records for the tight end position. Fant continued his progression in 2018 despite the ball being spread around even sharing duties with fellow position-group teammate and NFL Draft prospect TJ Hockenson. Fant is the kind of athlete who will cause the opposition to game plan around him. His blend of size, speed, and ball skills are near-impossible to stop with one player alone. He still plays and comes across raw at times, but he has shown enough in two years to, at the very least, be dangerous threat in the passing game. His ceiling is as high as any pass catcher in the class.

*Fant was the flavor of the fall but when I really dove into his game from a big picture perspective, there are multiple holes. As good of an athlete as he is, and we are talking elite, Fant doesn’t make much happen without space. He doesn’t cut well, he doesn’t break tackles. Blocking, well you are drafting him to block. A team that wants a mismatch in the passing game but shortcomings elsewhere can value him higher than where I do, but I see an end of day 2 type guy. I think someone takes him top 15 though.

NFL Comparison: Eric Ebron / IND

4: Drew Sample – Washington – 6’5/255

Grade: 77

Summary: Fifth year senior. Three-plus year starter and two time Honorable Mention All Pac 12. Sample is a classic tight end prospect who has blossomed from blocker to all around threat. He is a tough, hard nosed competitor who may rank among the best blockers in this class at the group. However he showed that defenses cannot sleep on him as a pass catcher. He shows the necessary twitch and ball skills to keep them honest and similar to Will Dissly a year ago in SEA, could be a guy who breaks out as a pass catcher in the NFL.

*Keep an ear out for this kids name come draft weekend. NFL teams that want every down duty from a new tight end are going to like this kid’s game. He can do everything at a good enough level to factor right away and his pre-draft process checked a lot of gray boxes.

NFL Comparison: Kyle Rudolph / MIN

5: Irv Smith Jr – Alabama – 6’2/242

Grade: 77

Summary: Junior entry. One and half year starter who stood out on a few occasions in 2018, earning 2nd Team Al SEC honors. While undersized, Smith plays bigger than he looks, most notably as a blocker in space. There is more power in that frame than you think and it makes a difference after the catch. He is a really balanced and under control, with route running that really developed as the year went. I got more and more impressed with him but I would be lying if I said I thought he was ready for the league now. He also may have a hard time blocking in line. Get him into an H-Back type role and he can be a difference maker.

*People love players from Alabama, which I understand. However every year I think some guys get a tad overrated for wearing the Crimson, and I think Smith fits that bill because I have heard a few say he might be a first rounder. Simply put, Smith is way undersized and while his speed is good, we aren’t talking elite. I think Smith can carve a nice role for himself but he is a day 2 guy, not even close to round 1.

NFL Comparison: Trey Burton / CHI

6: Jace Sternberger – Texas A& M – 6’4/251

Grade: 76

Summary: Fourth year junior who has jumped around a bit. Started off at Kansas before dropping to the junior college level in an effort to kind of re-do his recruiting process. Was highly sought after but settled in at Texas A& M and put together an All American season. Sternberger is wiry-framed, solid straight line athlete with plus ball skills and ability after the catch. His aggression and desire as a blocker is a good sign of what he can be once the weight is added over time. He can be a complete, every down tight end with starter potential down the road.

*Sternberger snuck up on a few people this year. There is a lot to like when it comes to his playing style, straight line burst, and ball skills. He needs some extra time in the weight room because the power presence isn’t there, but he is a guy who plays hungry and simply made a lot of plays this year against stiff competition. High upside player, but he needs time.

NFL Comparison: Jeff Heuerman / DEN

7: Josh Oliver – San Jose State – 6’5/249

Grade: 75

Summary: Four year starter. The former linebacker made the move to tight end during his freshman season and it was a move that paid off. Oliver earned 1st Team All Mountain West honors as a senior. The team captain shows glimpses of elite movement and ball skills, giving him the high-ceiling label. The body control combined with size and speed in the receiving game can make him a major matchup problem for defenses. He will need a year or two to add more power and mass to his frame, but the list is short when it comes to players with this kind of ceiling.

*I’ll tell you what, this 75 grade may not be the best reflection of how I think about this kid and his upside. If he can add more power to his blocking and toughen up a little, he has elite potential. The size, the way he moves, how he catches the ball, it is a thing of beauty that won’t come around often. But the fact he plays soft and doesn’t seem interested in the physical components of the game bother me. Boom or bust type, but the boom could rightfully warrant someone taking him in round 2.

NFL Comparison: Zach Ertz / PHI

8: Kahale Warring – San Diego State – 6’5/251

Grade: 74

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Late comer to the game, as he played football for just one year in high school. A preferred walk on, Warring developed nicely in his time at San Diego State and ended up Honorable Mention All Mountain West in 2018. He is very much a projection-type prospect but there is so much natural talent oozing out of his nicely developed frame that he could end up going a lot higher than people think. Warring has size, speed, ball skills, and a really hungry approach as a blocker. There is still a little ways to go when it comes to skill set, but he can be a starter within 2-3 years.

*A surprise declaration turned into a prospect who has the high ceiling label with a higher-than-initially-perceived floor. This kid is so raw and new to the game but there are traits here that raise eyebrows. I bet if Warring went back to school in 2019, he would be in the top 60 overall discussion next draft. Like Oliver, a guy who I could see going much higher than this.

NFL Comparison: Ryan Griffin / HOU

9: Foster Moreau – LSU – 6’4/253

Grade: 73

Summary: One and a half year starter. Wore the #18 jersey for the Tigers, given to the team’s leader and one who exemplifies grit, hard work, and competitive spirit. Moreau will be drafted based on his ability to block both in space and in-line. He has some fullback capabilities to his game as well. Moreau has a soft pair as hands as well and will make the easy but often overlooked catches. He is a little lethargic and late as a route runner and he wont scare anyone athletically, but he can factor on all three downs. He looks like a really solid backup and rotational player who will stick around for awhile.

NFL Comparison: Geoff Swaim / JAC

10: Trevon Wesco – West Virginia – 6’3/267

Grade: 72

Summary: Fifth year senior, former junior college player who missed a season with injury. Wesco was a little off the radar coming into the 2018 season but he broke out and earned 1st Team All Big 12 honors. He is best known for his blocking prowess but now that he is entering the league and into a pro offense, Wesco could be a guy who produces more regularly. His game translates well into the role of a tight end who splits time between the trenches and the backfield. He has violent pop as a blocker but also excels as a short to intermediate pass catcher. He is limited athletically and there is a medical red flag here, but he will be drafted and I bet he plays relatively early.

*Interesting kid here. I wouldn’t want him as a starter in my offense, but I would find a role for him on at least 30% of the snaps. He can play tight end, h-back, and fullback. I do get worried about some lower body stiffness and some awkward movement, but he is a dirty-work guy who can fill some needed holes. Versatility is key for day 3 guys and he has plenty of it.

NFL Comparison: Rhett Ellison / NYG

11: Alize Mack – Notre Dame – 6’4/249: 71
12: Kendall Blanton – Missouri – 6’6/262: 70
13: Kaden Smith – Stanford – 6’5/255: 70
14: Zach Gentry – Michigan – 6’8/265: 69
15: Andrew Beck – Texas – 6’3/257: 68
16: Keenan Brown – Texas State – 6’2/250: 68
17: Isaac Nauta – Georgia – 6’3/244: 68
18: David Helm – Duke – 6’4/249: 67
19: Tommy Sweeney – Boston College – 6’4/251: 67
20: Donald Parham – Stetson 6’8/237: 67

**TOP UDFA SLEEPER**

Jerome Washington – Rutgers – 6’2/243

A Fifth year senior who has previous stops at junior college and 1 year stint at Miami, Washington has the look that caught my eye back in 2017. Well, his senior year was marred by injuries but when looking at the physical package, I think he can fit somewhere as an H-Back/Tight End mix. Rutgers’ leading receiver in 2017, Washington shows nice ball skills and tested well athletically.

NYG APPROACH

As stated earlier, much of this depends on the team’s approach to Evan Engram and his fit within this offense. Personally, he is not a talent I would want to give up on and he really turned it on late in the year when he got healthy. This kid can be a big time difference maker. However, if NYG decides to trade him for other assets that fit in with their long term plan, this is a top heavy group that offers what they ma be looking for. True 3 down tight ends who can play right away can be had in the top 3-4 rounds but it is a drop off after. This group isn’t particularly strong and I think it shouldn’t be a top priority especially with Engram in the picture.

Apr 172019
 
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Jonah Williams, Alabama Crimson Tide (January 7, 2019)

Jonah Williams – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2019 NFL Draft Preview: Offensive Tackles

*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.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

WHERE THEY STAND

The Ereck Flowers experiment finally came to an end in 2018, as the team cut him loose and after JAC wanted nothing to do with him, he currently sits as a backup in WAS. That left undrafted free agent Chad Wheeler to take over at right tackle, a role that looked overwhelming for him at several points in his second year. 2019 will be telling as to whether or not he has a long term future with the club. Nate Solder had a year to forget on the other side after signing a monster contract with the team last offseason. A lingering neck injury didn’t help and his play did stabilize a bit down the stretch, but there is some long term concern there. Similar to their situation inside, the depth leaves a lot to be desired. Jylan Ware and Brian Mihalik have not impressed in their limited playing time on Sundays and Victor Salako may not be athletic enough to handle the speed of the NFL. This group needs talent and depth.

TOP 25

1: Jonah Williams – Alabama – 6’4/302

Grade: 87

Summary: Junior entry. A three year starter dating back the beginning of his freshman season, a rarity under the Nick Saban era along the offensive line. One year at right tackle before settling in for two seasons at left tackle. First Team All SEC in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Williams is likely to be the unquestioned top offensive lineman in the class. He has the pro-caliber technique and control that can mirror just about anyone with a sense of ease and consistency. While he does have some work to do in the weight room, his upside is that of a 10+ year starter at a position that can be very hard to fill for some clubs. What he lacks in current power presence can be more than made up for with his arsenal of blocking-tools. Some will view him as a guard early on in his career, but his fit will depend on the team that drafts him. Week 1 starter regardless.

*The entire pre-draft process, Williams has been my guy for NYG at #6, cat is out of the bag (unless they sign Remmers). I believe in this kid both as a player and as a person and if there is one guy I am the most confident will be at least a very solid player for a long time, it’s this kid. Williams has experience at right tackle and I think he is a week 1 starter who can handle the Ryan Kerrigans, the Demarcus Lawrences…etc right away. After watching how badly this OL has impacted the potential of this offense and team overall, this could be the final piece that, in combination with Zeitler, creates a right side of the line that can be one of the best in the league coming up from one of the worst.

NFL Comparison: David Bakhtiari / GB

2: Andre Dillard – Washington State – 6’5/315

Grade: 84

Summary: Fifth year senior. Three year starter and two-time First Team All Pac 12. The jury may still be out if he is better suited inside or on the edge, but no matter the case Dillard will be a long-time solid pro. His movement-efficiency and contact-balance will be a weapon against any kind of defender whether it be at the point of attack or in space. Dillard checks a lot of boxes and will give a team multiple options how to use him both right away and in the future.

*Over and over again, Dillard just screamed smooth and consistent. The term “dancing bear” that I have heard Gettleman use several times fits Dillard very well. I do question some power and aggression traits, but not to a point where I bumped him down out of the top 15-20 overall. If NYG goes defense early, I think Dillard will very much be in play at 17. Another guy who can handle RT right away and gives the offense a lot more confidence.

NFL Comparison: Jake Matthews / ATL

3: Jawaan Taylor – Florida – 6’5/312

Grade: 84

Summary: Junior entry. Three year starter who has seen the majority of his action on the right side and that is where he likely ends up in the pros. Taylor is a massive, silver-back who can dominate on contact time after time. When his lower body is bent enough which keeps his feet in the game, there isn’t much that can be done to beat him in pass protection. The awareness and confidence are apparent, as he never seems to lose himself no matter who he is matched up against. Taylor has as high a ceiling as any lineman in this entire class as long he puts the work into shore up simple, but vital, technique components.

*There is more boom or bust in Taylor’s projection than most of the guys at the top of this list, but the more I scouted the more I liked. He has heavy hands and such a sturdy base that if his footwork and leverage can be just OK, he will win the one on one battles. I think there is a strong chance he is the first OT off the board if I am predicting what will actually happen. Looking hard at JAC.

NFL Comparison: Ja’Wuan James / DEN

4: Cody Ford – Oklahoma – 6’4/329

Grade: 79

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Former left guard with just seven career starts entering 2018. Ford made the move to right tackle and earned 1st Team All Big 12 honors. He projects equally well at both spots in the NFL but his technique shortcomings and inconsistency may keep him inside initially. The footwork, triangle numbers, and desire all have checks in their respective boxes. Drafting him is a gamble because there is an assumption is he will continue to develop the notable shortcomings, as he just doesn’t have a lot of experience to look back on.

*I think most teams are looking at Ford as a tackle and if NYG brings him in, that will be the case. I am split on where he fits best but with tackles being harder to find, that is where I think he ends up. Getting past that debate, Ford was really hot and cold on my sheet when it came to grades. He was inconsistent but when he was on, he looked as reliable as anyone. The sticky hands and play-through-the-whistle mindset are attractive but I’m not sold on him being ready right away.

NFL Comparison: La’el Collins / DAL

5: Max Scharping – Northern Illinois – 6’6/327

Grade: 78

Summary: Fifth year senior who has had one of the most successful careers in MAC history. He started all 52 games of his career split between both tackle spots and some action at guard. Scharping was a three time 1st Team All MAC honoree and a top tier kid off the field. His jump to higher competition at the senior bowl exposed some core strength and functional athleticism issues, but Scharping is as advanced as anyone when it comes to technique and consistency. His hands and feet are constantly where they need to be and he rarely compensates them based on what the defender is doing. If his ability can catch up to his skill set, Scharping will be a solid starting caliber tackle.

*During the year I had a 1st round outlook on Scharping. I always have a thing for tackles who play with plus technique and consistency because at the end of the day, I want reliability from that spot. But when the Senior Bowl came around, Scharping struggled more than I thought and it made me re-think the grades a tad. I still like him but I view it more as a Day 2-like meaning I think he needs a year before he can be thrown in there. But I mean it, if this kid can get stronger and more stable, he can be one of the best OTs coming from the class. He checks a lot of boxes.

NFL Comparison: Ryan Ramczyk / NO

6: Yodny Cajuste – West Virginia – 6’5/312

Grade: 76

Summary: Sixth year senior who overcame knee issues early in his career to eventually earn All Big 12 honors in 2017 and 2018. Cajuste showed stretched of play where he looked like a first rounder and week 1 starter in the NFL. However it was almost always followed by stretches of play where he looked like a day 3 prospect at best. Throw in the notion that scouting and projecting tackles from the West Virginia offense can be difficult and makes Cajuste one of the riskier prospects in the class. He will bring physicality and toughness to the trenches but the hope will reside in how he develops the skill set. If he does, he will be a long time starter.

*Another guy who, early on in the year, I was all over and had him heading towards round 1 territory. However the more I watched and after seeing him in a different light, his grade went backwards. Cajuste isn’t completely clean off the field, either. There is a heavy handed beast who lives inside though and when he really gets after it, it is bad news for the opponent. It just comes down to him always playing like that and taking in NFL coaching. If he does, look out. Also a shot he moves inside to guard.

NFL Comparison: Bobby Massie / CHI

7: Dennis Daley – South Carolina – 6’5/317

Grade: 76

Summary: Former junior college All American who started for two years in the SEC at left tackle, matching up against some of the best edge defenders college football had to offer. Daley has been a very up and down player throughout his career. His low points make him look undraftable but his best tapes make him look like a day 2 pick. He is somewhere in the middle of those two and lot of his success will depend on how hard he works at his craft and a team not rushing him into action. Daley is a solid left tackle prospect worth taking a chance on if you can promise he sits and cleans himself up for at least a year.

*Daley really has the upside of a top end starting tackle if he can apply himself and clean the little things up. He isn’t far away but it will come down to the situation he is brought into and how hard he grinds. He has the goods and he has proven they are fully functional on numerous occasions, the consistency just needs to show up.

NFL Comparison: Reilly Reiff / MIN

8: Yosh Nijman – Virginia Tech – 6’7/324

Grade: 76

Summary: Fifth year senior. Former defensive end who was quickly moved to tackle during his redshirt year. Nijman has starting experience at both tackle spots but missed time in both 2017 and 2018 with injuries. There is still a lot of rawness to his game but he has flashed some really good tape against some really good competition. Nijman has natural power and heavy hands combined with a mammoth frame that can end things quickly if he is accurate with his hands. The stiffness and inconsistent technique along with the medicals are all red flags, but there is something about this kid that screams upside.

*I didn’t get a full medical report on Nijman like I do on most others, so there is a little asterisk mark here. That aside, I have been drawn to Nijman for the past few months. I really like what I saw in flashes and even though there are movement limitations, I think he has enough length and hand power to keep tackles from reaching the edge. A 1-2 year project who has the upside of a really good starter.

NFL Comparison: Rob Havenstein / LAR

9: Chuma Edoga – USC – 6’3/308

Grade: 76

Summary: After some spot duty in 2015 and 2016, Edoga put together two very solid years as the starting right tackle for the Trojans. He ended his career with a 2nd Team All Pac 12 season and is viewed as one of the best athletes at the position. He lost over 50 pounds of bad weight since arriving at USC, but the athletic tools were always there and now he needs to put some more quality weight back on. His gifted lower body in terms of athleticism and flexibility can make him a weapon if he enhances his strength and power. He is likely a guard in the NFL and one who zone blocking schemes will be especially attracted to.

*I’m not all in on the idea that tackles need to be a certain height and I think the league is past that as well. Edoga has the necessary length and footwork to handle the best speed rushers in the game, but he lacks power presence and hand strength. There is enough stand out tape to his name, but I wouldn’t want him in there right away similar to what MIN ideally wanted to do with Brian O’Neill a year ago. However he was forced into action because of injuries and fared OK down the stretch. Edoga could be in a similar situation.

NFL Comparison: Charles Leno Jr / CHI

10: Greg Little – Ole Miss – 6’5/310

Grade: 75

Summary: Junior entry with 2+ years of starting experience. First Team All SEC in 2018 after being named second team in 2017. Little has the ideal physical package for the hard-to-find left tackle position and more than enough to tape to warrant the belief he can be a solid player there in the NFL. The athletic ability is there and while his power presence appears good enough against the bull rush, he struggled to lock defenders up over and over all year. The hand-techniques are vital to success in the NFL and it may be his biggest issue. A lot of work to be done for Little and if he consistently works at it, his future is bright. But the one thing a team will need to be sure about is his work ethic/passion/drive.

*I know I have Little a lot lower than where most people project. But this is a kid everyone touted as a first rounder last summer. Halfway through the year he “dropped” if you will, into the 20’s. Now most don’t think he is a first rounder. Well his stone dropped into the deeper end of the pool for me, as I think his potential is solely based on the tool set but nothing to do with his skill set of drive. Little doesn’t have a great reputation among coaches and looks to be yet another gifted but chronic underachiever. Day 3 is the soonest I would look at him.

NFL Comparison: DJ Humphries / ARI

11: Donnelle Greene – Minnesota – 6’5/335

Grade: 75

Summary: Fifth year senior. After two years in junior college, Greene transferred to Minnesota and started his last two and a half years. He locked himself into left tackle and earned Honorable Mention All Big 10 honors two straight seasons. Greene is a wide, physical power blocker who is capable of winning most matchups when he locks his bear paws on defenders. He has a way of putting defenders through the ground and really controlling his gaps as a run blocker. His issues reside in pass protection where his balance and inconsistent foot and hand placements can hurt him. If he can take in coaching and work hard at his craft for a year or two, he has starting tackle or guard written all over him.

*If a team really wants to enhance their run blocking with a little loss in pass protection, Greene can be a higher target than this. He is a nasty, angry dude when he gets to move north and push defenders around. He doesn’t look nearly as efficient or confident when he has to drop back and play the balance game. Still a decent amount to work with here.

NFL Comparison: Brandon Shell / NYJ

12: Justin Skule – Vanderbilt – 6’7/320

Grade: 74

Summary: Four year starter in the SEC who checks a lot of boxes but his weaknesses are obvious every week. Skule is a well oiled, technique-savvy veteran who knows how to play the game with his feet. His balance and control make it easy for him to adjust in space, but the lack of lower body strength and overall aggressiveness came back to bite him over and over. The base is there, but he needs time to really improve his body and core strength.

*A multi year project who has a lot of things going for him from a coachability and technique perspective. Throw in the really wide long frame, Skule could be a candidate to throw in the weight room with a sleeping bag and tell him to come out in 2021 ready for action.

NFL Comparison: Anthony Castanzo / IND

13: Tytus Howard – Alabama State – 6’5/322

Grade: 74

Summary: Fifth year senior. Four year starter from Monroeville, Alabama. The former high school quarterback and basketball star progressed year by year into a 1st Team All SWAC tackle who played on both sides of the line. Howard’s background and body scream upside, but his tape doesn’t always agree. While he shows some natural combat ability, his lower body is slow and heavy and he is going to need a lot of time and work to improve vital techniques. Howard needs to replace some of his bad weight so he can sustain his power on them move outside. A move inside may even be in the forecast.

*Howard is a really hot name who many are projecting as a 2nd rounder. Trust me I went back a couple times and I just didn’t see it. There is so much sloppiness to his game and he is not the athlete many make him out to be. I see a backup caliber guy who you just don’t want to see in there because he loses too many battles inside and outside. I can understand the desire to bring him in late, there was some quality tape from the Senior Bowl week, but he is a major project.

NFL Comparison: Germain Ifedi / SEA

14: Paul Adams – Missouri – 6’6/317

Grade: 74

Summary: Fifth year senior and three year starter. Two time team captain. Adams has had a lot of ups and downs, but he put together a solid pre-draft process and the thought is that his best days are ahead. He is a tough, hard nosed competitor who was up against some of the best competition college football had to offer. He fought through a couple injuries as a senior but when he’s right, he proved to be capable of handling speed, but not power. There is a lot of extra core strength needed here but if he can acquire that in time, he could be a very capable, versatile backup.

*Adams is in a cluster of tackles who project to backup roles, but I want to keep him at the top of that cluster. I like his game from an athleticism point of view and he plays really hard. Constantly the guy downfield looking to pick up the extra block. Some are saying he will move inside, but I think he gets a shot at tackle initially.

NFL Comparison: Ty Sambrailo / ATL

15: Mitch Hyatt – Clemson – 6’5/303

Grade: 74

Summary: Four year starter with 59 starts to his name, a school record. Freshman All American in 2015, Two time All American, two time winner of the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, given to the best offensive lineman in the ACC. Hyatt has more experience and more accolades that can fit on a normal sized shelf. He has been a steady piece to arguably the top team in the nation in recent years. His tools aren’t overly impressive, as he lacks a lot of push and hand power, but he is a consistent and constantly repeated player who can project to a few spots. Hyatt may not translate into an NFL starter, but he is the kind of quality backup every team is looking for.

*Just looking as his career experience for maybe the best college football team in the nation in recent years, Hyatt should be projected a lot higher. There are some initial tests that he passes with flying colors, but for the past two years I have seen a ton of him and the same issues exist. He doesn’t have a power game and he isn’t a very gifted mover in space. I just see a very limited ceiling here, although I wouldn’t mind a guy like this backing up a few spots.

NFL Comparison: Chris Hubbard / CLE

16: Ryan Pope – San Diego State – 6’7/320: 73

17: Williams Sweet – North Carolina – 6’6/313: 73

18: Trey Pipkins – Sioux Fallas – 6’6/309: 73

19: Bobby Evans – Oklahoma – 6’4/312: 72

20: Oli Udoh – Elon – 6’5/324: 72

21: Calvin Anderson – Texas – 6’4/297: 71

22: David Edwards – Wisconsin – 6’6/308: 71

23: Jackson Barton – Utah – 6’7/310: 71

24: Martez Ivey – Florida – 6’5/315: 70

25: Joe Lowery – Ohio – 6’6/300

**TOP UDFA SLEEPER**

Christian Harris – Duke – 6’5/300

A fifth year senior who really only started for a year. A late bloomer who still has a ways to go physically, Harris stood out to me on several occasions from a balance and technique point of view. I look for that more than most, and I think he has the base you want to work with when talking about candidates for your practice squad. I liked what I saw against Clemson, his stiffest competition and I think he can be a guy you revisit in a year to see what kind of power improvements he made, because the other things are there.

NYG APPROACH

A lot depends on the Mike Remmers situation, as the need for a starter significantly decreases if he is brought in. Ideally that situation is figured out before the draft, but who knows. Anyway, the Giants marching Chad Wheeler out there isn’t the worst thing in the world because this line has potential to be strong enough elsewhere, but if there is a possibility to bring a highly graded player to take that spot, I think they need to go for it. A quality offensive line is near-mandatory with the current personnel and situation at the NYG skill positions. Jonah Williams at #6 or Andre Dillard/Jawaan Taylor at #17 needs to be heavily discussed. I think NYG fans have lost track of just how much of a difference a quality line can be, especially for a team with an immobile, nearly done QB and a superstar RB. If they look past OT early, fine. But they need more talent on this team at that spot at some point, plain and simple.

Apr 162019
 
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Chris Lindstrom, Boston College Eagles (September 9, 2017)

Chris Lindstrom – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 2019 NFL Draft Preview: Guards and Centers

*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.

GUARDS/CENTERS

WHERE THEY STAND

The interior of the NYG offensive line in 2018 was a major road block at any consistency on that side of the ball as a whole. Will Hernandez will be back after a strong finish to his rookie season and the team acquired Kevin Zeitler from CLE in the Vernon trade. Zeitler was one of my favorite guard prospects backs in 2012 and since then, he’s been one of the league’s top guards. Center was a revolving door as the team traded Brett Jones last summer and Jon Halapio missed almost the entire season with a leg injury. Spencer Pulley was brought back for depth after an underwhelming 2018 with the team a he joins the unknowns Evan Brown, Chad Slade, and Kristjan Sokoli on the depth chart.

TOP 25

1: Chris Lindstrom – Boston College – 6’4/308

Grade: 82

Summary: Son of former NFL lineman, Chris. A four year starter who ended his career as a 1st Team All ACC lineman. A very solid run blocker who can make an impact in traffic and in space, Lindstrom has the playing style and athletic ability to make an impact early in his career. He needs to prove he can handle the power of interior defensive linemen, but the nasty streak who always appears to be on combined with his more-than-solid technique translate well. The former tackle will be most sought after by teams that employ zone blocking concepts.

*In a class full of solid interior blockers, Lindstrom is the lone prospect who I am confident can start in year one and be a impact guy on multiple levels. He has the hustle and grit combined with plus foot speed and technique. He is a fun player to watch and no matter what scheme he gets put into, he will be able to more than hold his own in year one. There is some sloppiness here and there that needs to be cleaned up, but he is a sure-bet to be a long time player.

NFL Comparison: Joe Thuney / NE

2: Dalton Risner – Kansas State – 6’5/312

Grade: 79

Summary: Fifth year senior who has starting experience at center and right tackle. A three time 1st Team All Big 12 honoree and 2018 All American. Risner was the leader of the Kansas State offensive line for three years and leaves the program as arguably the top player at the position group in school history. Risner is an old school, punch-you-in-the-mouth type blocker who uses a lot of upper body and desire to get the job done. His farm-boy hands can stifle even the most powerful defenders but if he doesn’t clean up his footwork, he will struggle in pass protection. He got away with a lot in college that he simply will not in the NFL. His future is inside where some of those issues can be hidden and his ability to move people in the running game can be used more often.

*I forecast a move inside for Risner at the next level, as I jus don’t love his bending in space in pass protection. He is at his best inside where he can beat guys up in a phone booth. He does have experience at center and tackle and he could be the valuable 6th lineman right away and fill in where needed as the season progresses in year one. Risner is a tone setter, the kind of young buck you want in the trenches based solely on hustle, aggression, and mindset.

NFL Comparison: Brandon Scherff / WAS

3: Garrett Bradbury – NC State – 6’3/306

Grade: 79

Summary: Fifth year senior. Began his career as a tight end and ended it as a three year starter and 2018 Rimington Trophy Award winner. Mentally, Bradbury is exactly what every team wants in the middle of their offensive line. He is a coach who wears pads and bangs helmets with the opponents. Bradbury’s intelligence combined with his top tier movement skills and ability will make him a major draw to teams that demand a lot of lateral movement from their center position. There are legitimate fears about his ability to maintain ground and position against the bigger defenders in the NFL, but that can be hidden inside. Bradbury is a week 1 starter and a long time pro.

*I like Bradbury but I am not on the first round train like many are. If I am drafting a center in round 1, he needs to be a guy who can handle the big, powerful nose tackles by himself. I’m not sure I trust Bradbury there. Movement wise, intelligence wise, he has the goods. I trust him to be a solid player but I would wait until round 2 to take him, that’s all.

NFL Comparison: Cody Whitehair / CHI

4: Elgton Jenkins – Mississippi State – 6’4/310

Grade: 78

Summary: Fifth year senior. Has started games at both tackle spots and at left guard before settling in at center for the past two years. Jenkins is a mammoth for the position and considering his versatility he showed throughout his college career, he can be viewed as a versatile backup right away. He is intelligent enough and if the scheme is a right fit, he may be viewed as a better guard prospect. Wherever he plays, his stoutness and ability to get movement will make him an asset to any running game, but whether or not he improves his foot speed and balance in space will be the biggest determining factor when it comes to his impact.

*Antonym to Bradbury, Jenkins is the kind of stonewall you want inside against power rushers. He anchors really well and is always fighting through the whistle, but the late start that I saw out of him from time to time could make him a liability against the smaller but quicker interior guys who are becoming more and more popular. Jenkins is the kind of kid who will work his butt off and in time, I think he is a reliable starter especially for a team that wants to run the ball.

NFL Comparison: Travis Frederick / DAL

5: Nate Davis – North Carolina-Charlotte – 6’3/316

Grade: 78

Summary: Fifth year senior with three years of starting experience at right guard and one at right tackle. The two time All-Conference USA selection did miss time early in the 2018 season due to a NCAA suspension, but the quality tape he put out as a right tackle was more than enough for him to warrant day 2 consideration. Davis is built like the ideal guard with a stout presence, athletic feet, and ability to adjust. He is really twitchy for a lineman and that translates very well to the next level. His solid week at the Senior Bowl confirmed he is one of the better guard prospects in this class.

*The quality tape Davis has at tackle is only going to help his overall grade not because anyone is actually going to play him out there, but it showed twitch and comfort in space that scouts didn’t know he had. He is more than a power guy. If it weren’t for some immaturity issues that have popped up a few times in recent years, Davis would be a 1st round grade. I do think he can play right away for any blocking scheme that brings him in. Keep him in mind towards the end of round 1, he has a shot at hearing his name called.

NFL Comparison: Joel Bitonio / CLE

6: Hjate Froholdt – Arkansas – 6’5/306

Grade: 78

Summary: After moving to the United States as a high school senior, Froholdt put himself on the radar as a raw but highly talented defensive tackle. After a year on the defensive side of the ball at Arkansas, he was moved to the offensive line where he started three straight seasons. Most of his time was spent at guard, but he did see some action at center as a senior. Considering how new he is to the game in comparison to other prospects, Froholdt’s level of play and consistent techniques are overly impressive. He projects to both inside spots at the next level but his lack of length may keep him at center long term. No matter the case, Froholdt is an elite pass blocker with perhaps the best tape all year against Alabama’s star tackle Quinnen Williams. He is going to be an early starter in the league.

*This is a guy I am really targeting day 2, and there is a shot he is there early day 3. I am higher on Froholdt than what I see out there, but for what we consider to still be “raw and learning”, Froholdt’s tape is come of the cleanest out there. He is a big guy who plays with plenty of knee bend, light feet, and inside hands. I think his ideal role is at OC, but early on when he isn’t in the starting lineup he would be valuable interior backup.

NFL Comparison: Nick Easton / NO

7: Erik McCoy – Texas A&M – 6’4/303

Grade: 78

Summary: Fourth year junior. A three year starter who didn’t miss a game since the start of 2016. The team captain and coach’s favorite started to turn heads as 2018 progressed where he was putting together multiple big time performances against the stiffest competition in the SEC. McCoy brings plus athleticism and a stout frame to the table. His game can wear multiple hats, as he shows fullback type movement in space as a lead blocker but more than enough leg drive to anchor against the power tackles. McCoy is a safe bet to be a solid starter in the league for a long time.

*A popular name among many when it comes to teams looking for a week 1 starter, McCoy jumps off the screen with athleticism and range. He really can cover the B gap with ease in either direction, as seen how often they pulled him outside to lead block on outside runs. I’m not completely sold on immediate contribution unless it is an ideal scheme fit though. He is inaccurate with his hands and he doesn’t get a ton of push. Solid but not much more, yet. High upside.

NFL Comparison: Pat Elflein / MIN

8: Mike Jordan – Ohio State – 6’6/312

Grade: 77

Summary: Junior entry. Jordan was the first true freshman to start right away on the offensive line for Ohio State in 23 years when the great Orlando Pace did so. He was a Freshman All American and followed that with two All Big 10 performances in consecutive years at different positions. Jordan doesn’t play with the ideal quickness of a center and he did struggle with shotgun snaps. He best projects at right guard in a scheme where he won’t need to move laterally often. His size and power are natural and ever-present. He does a lot of little things right but he will need to improve balance and quickness before he can be thrown into the fire.

*I was excited about Jordan at the start of the 2018 season. Rarely do you see a guy with this kind of body play with his kind of leverage and lateral range, but I just don’t think OC was the spot for him. I prefer his tape at OG and that will likely be the spot he ends up at in the NFL. He won’t be a fit in every scheme, but some power run-game offenses could end up having a 2nd round grade on him.

NFL Comparison: James Carpenter / ATL

9: Keaton Sutherland – Texas A&M – 6’5/322

Grade: 76

Summary: Three-plus year starter who has battled injuries throughout his career. 2018 was a solid campaign for the senior, as he earned the honor of playing in the East West Shrine game after coming into the year as a near-unknown. Sutherland has the frame and athletic ability that will make a coach salivate. The techniques are pretty far along and he shows easy, natural knee bend. There is a lot to like here and had his injuries stayed away earlier in his career, we may be discussing him as a top 32 pick.

*Really like this kid when day 3 rolls around. He was a pretty awful miss by those that select who goes to the combine and what not. His 2018 tape combined with his tools and athletic ability is among the best in this group. I do think he will need an extra year to build up his body since much of his college career revolved around recovering from injuries but there is no denying the fact this kid has eventual starter written all over him.

NFL Comparison: Kyle Long / CHI

10: Brandon Knight – Indiana – 6’4/314

Summary: Three year starter from Noblesville, In. After earning the team’s Newcomer of the Year award in 2015 as a rotational tackle and blocking tight end, Knight earned a starting role. After missing a combined 7 games over 2016 and 2017, Knight was an every week starter as a senior and earned Honorable Mention All Big 10 honors. He is at his worst the further into space he gets and his body type screams interior lineman. Knight will move to guard, maybe even center, and develop into a quality starter with the upside of being more. His technique and combination of fast feet and hands translate well and once he enhances his strength and power presence, he could be a blocker who has it all.

*Another guy a really high on if he can be there early day 3. Knight will almost surely make the move to guard at the next level where his body type and ability in space is more natural. He had some of the nicest looking techniques in spurts that I saw all year, but just didn’t bring it all year. He fought through injuries and it sounds like there may still something going on with him that could hamper his next few months, but I want this kid on my team to mold and strengthen up for a year or two.

NFL Comparison: Kevin Zeitler / NYG

11: Kaleb McGary – Washington – 6’7/317

Grade: 76

Summary: Fifth year senior. 3+ year starter who made the full time transition to tackle from defensive end during his redshirt year. Two time 1st Team All Pac 12. McGary played tackle his entire career but there is some debate whether or not he will stay out there or move inside at the next level. Athletically he moves with fast feet but there are balance issues and enough poor tape to make me think he has to stay inside. He is a violent, try-hard player who can really do damage in the running game. Early on he projects as a solid, versatile backup but in order for him to take the next step, plenty of work needs to be done.

*McGary is a guy who I could equally project inside and outside. If I had to choose, I am going for guard because of his style and over-aggressive manner that can sometimes get him into trouble in space. While guards who stand this tall don’t often pan out, McGary is a different kind of athlete which has teams looking at him really hard as a day 2 guy. I am not quite there, but I won’t deny the upside. Blocking is so much about grit and desire, McGary has all of it. It may not sound sexy, but I would draft this kid to be my 6th lineman for a long time, a guy who backs up every spot other than OC.

NFL Comparison: Alex Lewis / BAL

12: Dru Samia – Oklahoma – 6’5/305

Grade: 76

Summary: A three year starter who earned 1st Team All Big 12 honors in 2018. Samia was an overlooked part of the OU offensive line coming into his senior season, but he came out of it as maybe the second best pro prospect among the group. Samia checks the size, speed, and strength boxes but what sets him apart from others is the consistent desire and effort to be physical and aggressive. He gets everything out of himself and more. Teams looking for more presence inside, particularly in the running game, will love Samia. He can be a starter, a solid one at that, within a year or two.

*Samia is one of those prospects who earned his way on to the radar with quality play week after week. I went into the OU games looking at other players but he kept standing out not because of talent or tools, but his nasty mean streak and constant desire to play through the whistle. I want those guys on my team, especially in the trenches and especially in an offense that wants to run the ball early and often. He is sloppy and lacks some tools, but I think he can will himself into a starting role over time.

NFL Comparison: Andrew Norwell / JAC

13: Connor McGovern – Penn State – 6’5/308

Grade: 76

Summary: Junior entry. Three year starter who has played multiple interior spots and could project to any of the three at the next level. A two time All Big 10 performer, McGovern was the leader of that PSU offensive line on and off the field. He has the body and athleticism combined with an aggressive, hands on approach to blocking. Offensive line coaches will love his dedication and grit along with his versatility. The concerns around his pad level and lower body engagement will need to be addressed over time, but he can be a very solid backup with the potential to be more.

*I think McGovern will go higher than where I have him. He has the pro-body and with a little more fine tuning below the waist, he could have the complete package. I wouldn’t say I look down on him at all, but I just think he is going to struggle if he gets thrown in there right away. Athletically I think he can handle it, but there are several moments on tape where his reactions are a hair too slow and he couldn’t make up for it. I see him as a long time, quality backup.

NFL Comparison: Justin Britt / SEA

14: Michael Dieter – Wisconsin – 6’5/309

Grade: 75

Summary: Fifth year senior with a school record 54 consecutive starts ranging from left tackle, left guard, and center. The two time first team All Big 10 and 2018 All American enters the draft as one of the most versatile linemen in the class. The flexibility he can bring to a team’s depth chart can raise his overall value a tad, but at the end of his day his talent and upside are limited. He doesn’t show consistent lateral movement and his anchor against the quality bull rush looks weak at times. Dieter does bring a lot of consistent effort to the table and should help full multiple spots on the bench, but his potential as a starter is limited.

*I often left the Wisconsin scouting assignments being more impressed with Deiter than Benzschawel. It is ironic I had them graded exactly the same when all was said and done. Anyway, Deiter’s versatility will help his cause because a guy who can actually play multiple spots and has experience doing so can make game day roster decisions a lot easier. I’m not sure I want to rely on a guy like this to start, but I am comfortable him my sixth or seventh lineman.

NFL Comparison: Caleb Benenoch / TB

15: Beau Benzschawel – Wisconsin – 6’6/309

Grade: 75

Summary: Fifth year senior who started 49 games over his career. Three time All Big 10 honoree, first team in 2017 and 2018. A tall and rangy blocker who specializes in run blocking stemming from strong initial contact and powerful hands. Benzschawel has a lot of attractive and ugly tape each week, as he struggles with pad level and lower body balance. While he brings the right mentality to the field week in, week out, the inconsistencies and struggles with staying upright with proper leverage can be eaten up in the NFL. He can be an eventual solid starter in the NFL, but it will take time to get there.

*Benzschawel may have been one of the more disappointing prospects of the year for me personally. In my preseason stacks, I had him as a 1st round player who could eventually sneak into the top 10 overall, boy was I wrong. The size and flashes of dominance make me think there is still more than enough to work with, but he is just way too stiff and awkward to be considered anything more than a 4th or 5th rounder on my board. I think a few NFL coaches will want to work with him so he could go earlier, but buyer beware.

NFL Comparison: Spencer Long / BUF

16: Tyler Jones – NC State – 6’3/306: 75

17: Ross Pierschbacher – Alabama – 6’4/307: 75

18: Lamont Gaillard – Georgia – 6’3/305: 74

19: Wes Martin – Indiana – 6’3/311: 74

20: Fred Johnson – Florida – 6’7/326: 72

21: Phil Haynes – Wake Forest – 6’4/322: 72

22: Sam Mustipher – Notre Dame – 6’5/324: 71

23: Ryan Bates – Penn State – 6’4/306: 70

24: Stefano Millin – Pittsburgh – 6’3/300: 70

25: Oshea Dugas – Louisiana Tech – 6’4/335: 69

**TOP UDFA SLEEPER**

Joshua Miles – Morgan State – 6’5/300

Fifth year senior who started 3 years and was forced to sit out 2017 because of academic reasons. Miles had a solid week at the Shrine Game and considering the tool set, there is an upside and enough quality tape to warrant a decent amount of attention. He is a sloppy mover but I think it is more technique based than what he is physically. He is a practice squad type who, if he grows into his frame with quality weight and keeps his head on the details, could be a very solid backup.

NYG APPROACH

With the acquisition of Kevin Zeitler and the assumption that Will Hernandez will build off his fine rookie season, the Giants appear to be set at both guard spots. Their lack of young depth at center showed up in 2018, however, as Jon Halapio went down with a severe leg injury early on and there simply wasn’t anyone to step up. Expecting Halapio to come back and offer a high level of play is a risk in and of itself, thus I think NYG needs to look at OC at some point in the first 4 rounds. In addition, we have all seen what a lack of depth can do to an offensive line when the near-inevitable injuries arise. Does NYG have that? I don’t think so. While they won’t be drafting a candidate to start in 2019, that isn’t always the point of the draft. This offensive line needs to be built in the draft year after year and with the amount of quality prospects with 2nd-4th round grades, there is a strong chance a strong value grab will be there early day 3.