Apr 302022
 
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Daniel Bellinger, San Diego State Aztecs (November 26, 2021)

Daniel Bellinger – © USA TODAY Sports

On the final day of the 2022 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected:

  • TE Daniel Bellinger (San Diego State University)
  • S Dane Belton (University of Iowa)
  • LB Micah McFadden (Indiana University)
  • DL D.J. Davidson (Arizona State University)
  • OG Marcus McKethan (University of North Carolina)
  • LB Darrian Beavers (University of Cincinnati)

Sy’56’s Scouting Report on TE Daniel Bellinger: Senior entry from Las Vegas, NV. Three-year starter than earned Honorable Mention All-Mountain West honors in 2020. Bellinger has the tool set and ability to play the traditional Y tight end spot. While his skill set is more receiver-friendly, he does show enough upside and ability to create impact as a blocker. He plays a twitchy, sudden game and understands his role well. Bellinger may not have the man-strength quite yet to have a big role, but he should fill the back end of a depth chart early on. He is a plus-athlete with some sneaky upside to him when it comes to getting open and making things happen after the catch.

*It would not surprise me one bit to see Bellinger sneak into the end of round two. The triangle numbers are really solid, and he didn’t drop a single ball over his last two seasons. I just wish he got more looks in the passing game at San Diego State. He will likely be a year two guy at earliest because he had a hard time with defensive linemen in the Mountain West. I think NFL guys will eat him early on.

Sy’56’s Scouting Report on S Dane Belton: Junior entry from Tampa, FL. Two-year starter that earned All Big-10 honors in both 2020 and 2021, first team in 2021. Belton played a hybrid safety/linebacker role that saw him involved in the box more often than not. He has a sturdy, strong frame with plus-power and straight line speed. He factors well in pursuit sideline to sideline and had a high success rate as a tackler. Belton started to turn a corner as a junior in coverage. He showed quality ball skills and plus-body control out of his breaks. He shows minimal wasted motion once he made up his mind. He can get into trouble when trying to forecast routes and throws, as he seems a step behind mentally and shows tightness in his hips laterally. He projects as a nickel or dime safety that can creep up toward the line and he will be a weapon on special teams.

Sy’56’s Scouting Report on LB Micah McFadden: Senior entry from Tampa, FL. Three-year starter that earned honorable mention All-Big 10 honors in 2019, first team in 2020, second team in 2021. Also a third team All-American in 2019. McFadden is a well-put together, quick and sudden linebacker that flies all over the field and brings a high success rate as a tackler. He can defend the inside run with stout power and will get to the sideline against the outside running game. He excels in pursuit. McFadden does have the occasional lapse in concentration and will over-pursue his intentions, leaving him vulnerable and top heavy. He does not factor well in man coverage, as his hip tightness and eager mentality can be easy to toy with. He projects as a solid special teamer that could develop into a rotational inside linebacker in a 3-4 front.

Sy’56’s Scouting Report on DL D.J. Davidson: Fifth year senior from Mesa, AZ. Took an additional year off between high school and college. Three-year starter that earned second team All-Pac 12 honors in 2021. Davidson will best project to a zero-tech in a 3-4 front. There, his natural power and ability to two-gap will be used most effectively. In an even front, he will not offer much as a pass rusher, but he could fit into a situational role as well. Davidson can play with quick feet in addition to a hard-to-move presence against the run. He has a natural sense to feel blocks and flow to the ball. He needs to work on lower body bend and techniques so his pad level can be better. The lack of leverage wins will eat him up at the next level. Davidson needs to fully buy into fixing his body and skill set for a couple years before he can be trusted.

Sy’56’s Scouting Report on OG Marcus McKethan: Fifth year senior from Barnwell, SC. Three-year starter that has the body of a tackle but played right guard all three seasons. Two-time Honorable Mention All-ACC. McKethan looks like a tackle prototype with elite girth and length from head to toe. His power and lockout game are enough to stop professional defenders in their tracks right away. The issue with him revolves around reaction time and bend. He does not keep the feet active post-engagement and he will always struggle to win the leverage battle. McKethan is a project that a team will want to develop in undrafted free agency most likely, as the holes in his game are both hard to fix and far away from being pro-ready.

Sy’56’s Scouting Report on LB Darrian Beavers: Fifth year senior from Cincinnati, OH. Spent 2017 and 2018 at Connecticut before transferring to Cincinnati. Four-year starter between the two programs. Second team All-AAC in 2020, first team in 2021. Was also a Butkus Award Finalist in his final season. Beavers brings a unique tool set to the table and it was used all over the front seven in college. He primarily lined up off the ball, but he saw over 250 snaps along the edge on-line over his three years at Cincinnati. The heaviness in his hands and overall ability to play both stout and fast should get the attention of versatile defensive schemes. He does not play very sudden and there are too many inconsistencies with his tackling and aggression in space. There won’t be a fit for him in every scheme but at the same time, he can bring versatility to a multiple-front defense that others cannot.

*I have in my notes from the 2021 season that Beavers “…looks like an old school Steeler or Patriot…” Some make the mistake that Baltimore (Martindale/Ryan) went after the same personnel. I don’t agree. Martindale wants a bit more speed and twitch in his linebackers and even though Beavers tested OK with times, he doesn’t always play fast. I will say this though: He is an alpha. Beavers is a mean, powerful dude and he did line up all over the front seven. That said, he was not a very successful outside rusher.

Media Q&A with General Manager Joe Schoen and Head Coach Brian Daboll (Video):

JOE SCHOEN: Daniel Bellinger was our first pick today, tight end out of San Diego State. A guy that we liked, size, speed, athleticism, should be able to help us on special teams, was in Senior Bowl, was at his pro day, too, and a guy we’ve liked throughout the process.

Dane Belton, another guy we liked, the versatility in the player, he’s got ball skills, he can play from depth and down in the box, can pay nickel.

So the common theme you’ll hear is versatility on a lot of these guys.

Micah McFadden from Indiana, another guy with very good size, speed. He was a captain, he’s athletic. I think he’ll help us out. He can play inside, outside, and he’s a good blitzer as well. Again, another versatile piece.

D.J. Davidson, see him more as a nose, out of Arizona State, be a good depth player that has some upside. We are excited about working with him inside, again, trying to add some depth up front there.

Marcus McKethan, another guy obviously we spent some time with, the North Carolina kids. Huge human being. Very good size, length. Again, some versatility, he’s played tackle and he’s played guard. Again, going to add depth and competition to the roster. We’ll probably start him at guard, but he does have tackle flex.

Darrian Beavers is another guy that we really liked, versatile piece, he played inside and he played outside. I was at his pro day. He did some stuff as an outside rusher and that looks like something that may be part of the package. Like his versatility to be inside, outside, and play on special teams.

Excited about the young men that we added today. Again, everybody is going to come in here and compete, no matter where you were drafted, and these guys are no different, so we are excited about the players we added.

Q. A few of the guys said that they had 30 visits here, the tight end had dinner with Brandon Brown. Did you identify these guys early and then honed in on? How does that process work?

JOE SCHOEN: Typically, that’s what happens. When I first got here, the first meeting with the scouts was in February. So we kind of identified players that we were interested in and then who we needed to get around a little bit more.

A lot of these guys — not to show my hand in the future, but you guys are good at tracking this stuff — but, yeah, we want to feel comfortable with the individuals as well as the player, and I think pretty much all these guys we spent significant amount of time with, whether it was coming here or going to see them.

Q. What did you think of your first draft? Anything surprise you?

JOE SCHOEN: Have to reflect on this tomorrow and throughout next week. It’s just different. You come in with a whole new staff, so you have a process in place, but where you used to look for answers when you had questions, you’re looking to different people, different scouts in the room that you haven’t worked with, and our staff did a tremendous job. The coaching staff did a tremendous job.

So just still getting to know our roster as it is. Again, not being around a lot of these guys for a while, getting to know the new coaches. That’s just all that will come with time in working with each other. But overall, it was a good process, and I really enjoyed it.

Q. Joe, did this go very much like you’ve been accustomed to the last four years in Buffalo and other places, or did you have to adjust this year?

JOE SCHOEN: It went pretty much how I would plan it to go. The only difficult part was with the players being in here two weeks early with the next head coach. So our schedule when we typically would have had an uninterrupted meetings for a week or two with the coaches involved, those days were a little choppy. We had to move our schedule around.

Overall, the process will stay the same that we had this year. It will start now. May and June, we’ll already start looking at the players for next season, and our scouts have already gotten a list of the Top-5 UFAs, Top-5 players from their areas. Next week, I may take a week, but we’ll start looking down the road what the players look like through free agency and the draft next week.

Q. You have a pretty big class with 11 players. Do you anticipate bringing in many undrafted free agents — how big of a class do you anticipate?

JOE SCHOEN: As soon as the Draft is over and we can start working on that, we will. We still have – defensively, I think is where we are going to have to add. Again, when we got here, where the roster was, we had to add a lot of pieces, and there’s only so many resources. So we did the best we could this weekend, and we’ll continue to do that in free agency.

Again, players might have gotten drafted over somebody else, so what that means is maybe next week there’s going to be some cuts and may be some veterans that are on the street because they drafted over players on their current roster. We don’t play until September. Our location in the claim order, the final cutdown will be important or as players are cut.

The roster is never finished. It won’t be finished during the season, and we’ll always be looking to upgrade.

Q. Doesn’t seem like you found a replacement for James Bradberry in this draft class. At some point, does the contingency plan to keep him become the plan?

JOE SCHOEN: We are going to work on that. We have had some conversations. I’ve talked to his representative. We’ll see where that goes. I don’t have a definitive answer on that right now, but we are working towards some contingency plans.

Q. When would you like to have an answer on that?

JOE SCHOEN: I’m not going to put a timeline on it as we are working through this. So I don’t know how long it will take, but we are working through some things.

Q. For years, people were saying fix the offensive line. Since you two have been here, I think you’ve brought in six free agents, drafted three guys, you have guys coming back who have been hurt, you have veterans. Do you have enough bodies?

JOE SCHOEN: I think so. We’ve got some big bodies, too.

I think I told you guys at the Combine, we had maybe five healthy bodies, offensive lineman, on the roster, and that’s my point. There were several holes, and we didn’t have a lot of depth throughout the roster.

So start there, start up front, let’s see the best version of Daniel Jones we can, and it starts by hopefully keeping him on his feet. And that’s going to help Saquon and that’s going to help the receivers because he’ll have more time to get him the ball. I think we upgraded the offensive line, which hopefully we did. We’ll see how the competition in training camp goes. But, yeah, I’m happy where we are with the depth overall.

Q. When it comes to the war room, when you were setting up who is in there, how many guys, the way the whole setup is, here in years past they have had coaches, coordinators. Did you put into the process who you wanted in there, why it was important to do certain things?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, I definitely wanted to be inclusive with the group. Those guys did a lot of the work. We had our pro department in there, too, so they could see the process and some professional development to see how the process works. And our pro scouts also sat in on some of the college meetings.

I’m a firm believer in that, we talk out loud, we have conversations, try to think big picture the best we can. And if I can surround myself with as many of those people as I can, it’s just going to bring ideas and we’ll all be better.

As for the setup of the room, I may want to change that a little bit. There was a different board this year, and I kind of like more of an open area in the middle, I’m a big pacer, where I can go to the scouts and talk to them. That’s something we’ll work on next year.

But as for the coaches, you may not have seen them, but they were in and out, coordinators, position coaches. If it came down to two guys on defense, Wink may come in, or Kafka came in a few times for the offensive guys.

Q. I was going off the other night when you said you had not seen Wink yet.

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, I had not, and specifically that night, because it was 5 and 7, it was back to back, so without having any commotion or distractions in there, we thought that was the best way to do it, and they kind of knew what we were going to do anyway.

Q. Do you anticipate making any changes to the personnel staff, subtractions, additions?

JOE SCHOEN: I haven’t even thought about that yet. I’m about ready to fall asleep on this microphone.

Q. In Buffalo, you concentrated on developing offensive lineman as well as drafting or acquiring starters. So have you brought that same kind of plan to the Giants, and is that where some of these picks are coming into play?

JOE SCHOEN: Really across the board, we have a really good coaching staff, and I think X’s and O’s are very important as a coach, but also developing players. And Bobby Johnson has a very good track record from my time with him, as does Dabs and Shea Tierney. You bring in guys in that are wired the right way and have traits, they are all hands on deck in terms of developing these guys. That’s just the O-line, but the defense, we have some good coaches over there, too. A lot of these players have upside.

Again, once you get in the second and third round, those players are in the third round for a reason, or fourth round for a reason, or sixth or seventh, when you take those guys, they are there for a reason. Nobody’s perfect. So the best we can do in terms of developing those guys and accentuating their strengths is what the coaching staff will try to do.

Q. What were you trying to accomplish in your first draft, and how successful were you with the goals that you came in with? I know things change as you move along.

JOE SCHOEN: Versatility, I mentioned earlier. Guys that have versatility, we wanted to add depth at competition to the roster, which I think we did. Again not every guy is going to come as a starter. It takes time. Guys have to develop. And Pat’s question, just develop and good coaching. Over time, you have to have depth players and frontline players. I think the idea was to get the best we could. Defensively, the guys with versatility. And offensively, as you’re around Brian, you’ll see, he’ll take the pieces and whatever we have and develop the offensive scheme around those pieces that we have, and Wink kind of adheres to the same philosophy.

Q. A big picture, team building question. Where do you stand on the theory of building a team to compete in the division against the teams that you’re going to be facing twice a year for the next — forever year?

JOE SCHOEN: You have to pay attention to that. There’s a lot of good D-Lines in our division, and I think that’s where the emphasis on the offensive line early on was important to us.

Yeah, we definitely always — I was in Miami forever, and they had Gronk there for awhile, how are you going to defend this guy, when they had Gronk and Hernandez. So you’re always paying attention because you have to play that team twice a year. And the ultimate goal is to win the division, and the rest will take care of itself is. Yeah, we’ll always be looking at that.

Q. When a guy like McKethan has some flex but mostly plays guard, would you rather him have the versatility to play both, or sometimes does a guy have a position and you’d rather hone in on that?

BRIAN DABOLL: You’ll see here in OTAs when you guys are around and in training camp, we are big believers in mixing and matching as many people as we can early on because you can only get so many to go to a game. And the more you can do, the more you can do.

Most of the players, unless you’re really, really, really good at one spot, and that probably goes throughout our team offensively and defensively, is as much versatility as you can have, the better it is for the team.

Q. On the defensive side of the ball, guys have multi-versatility. How excited are you that you can change your defensive scheme because of the diversity of the skillsets?

BRIAN DABOLL: Wink, he’s pretty diverse in what he’s done the past few years when he was in Baltimore. We are still working through some things, just figuring out what our guys can and cannot do.

So we’ll see. We’ll take it kind of day-by-day on that. But I think the smarter you can be as a football team, the better you are in terms of being able to put your best foot forward.

Q. I know Bobby Johnson was at the UNC pro day and worked those guys out. How valuable was getting his input and letting him get in there and coach them up?

BRIAN DABOLL: That’s always valuable. The process, Joe talked about this, the communication we’ve had from the scouting department, the coaching staff, the people that set up the trips, it was very well organized, thought out.

This morning I was watching a bunch of Zoom calls of potential guys we could pick. The coaches put a lot of time and effort into it. There were weekends off that they had they were out on the road, and the same thing with the scouting department. It’s been really good interaction with both sides.

So 11 picks, 11 players, we’ll throw them out there with the rest of the guys on the team when they get here and let them compete it out.

Q. Do you think you have an offensive line now you can work with and get done what you need to get done on offense?

BRIAN DABOLL: We’ll see once we get pads on and things like that. I know the guys are hard working. They are smart. They show some toughness when you watch them on tape. The people that we’ve had in the building are dependable. It’s been good to go into meetings with Bobby and Tony (Sparano) and those guys. They are eager.

Again, let’s not make it more than it is. Your job is to protect the inside part of the pocket and the width of the pocket and get moving in the running game, but that position you need five guys operating as one unit. And that is what will be really important.

You’ll see. I know I will get a lot of questions on it once we get out in OTAs, and I’ll tell you right now, there are going to be a lot of guys mixing and matching. You can write the lineup down each day, but it’s going to change from day to day.

Q. Guys have strengths and weaknesses, but evaluating players, guys are kind of the same, you say we want this guy, we want this guy, is there just something inside you that says we think he’s right for us?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, I would say after all the preparation, Zoom calls, interacting with the kids, going and seeing them or having them in your building, you’ve got enough information where you say, yeah, I’m good with this kid, can we all see the film, I’m good with this kid as a person and his ability to learn football and what he’ll bring to the organization. We try to get all that information so when we turn the card in with anybody, we are at that point.

BRIAN DABOLL: If they are close, you know, sometimes there is a gut feeling. It’s like when you’re getting ready to call a big play in the red zone, you like two plays and you’re anticipating something coming up. There’s a gut feel at times. Some of that is the same with when two guys are close, but the preparation leads you to that decision usually for the most part.

Q. Sometimes is it just like, you know what, close your eyes and say, I think I want to coach this guy?

BRIAN DABOLL: Three times this past week, Joe flipped a coin and decided who he was going to pick. We were calling heads and tails over there.

No, it’s a lot of work that goes into it. Joe has talked about it. I’ve talked about it. When you put a lot of hard work into it and you feel prepared, then you’re comfortable with the decisions that you make.

Q. When you get into the middle rounds, how much do you lean towards traits? Some guys rated well on tests. Was that a big factor, or did that happen to be the case?

JOE SCHOEN: After Wan’Dale being undersized and Flott, I figured I better go big guys today. You take that into account, but when you look at guys with developmental upside, if they have height, speed and character, the history of those guys developing is a little bit higher than others. Definitely when you get into day three, you do take that into account. It is important, I think.

Q. Knowing you had Daniel under contract and Tyrod to back up and you had Davis Webb, do you sit there and say, quarterback is not a priority this year?

JOE SCHOEN: I wouldn’t say we didn’t say it wasn’t a priority, because we did do work on those guys, and I think I said it yesterday that I had seen all those guys play live, and we did send a quarterback coach and coordinator to spend time with those guys and Zoom and other things.

Again we are going to evaluate the entire board across all positions, and when we think the time is right, regardless of position, we’ll pull the trigger if we think it’s best for us.

Q. What is it you guys think that you can get so much more out of Daniel Jones?

BRIAN DABOLL: I’ll just speak on the few weeks that I’ve been around him. I’ve been very pleased with how he’s approached things. He’s an intelligent — he’s picking up the stuff really well. Again, the pieces around him, we have a lot of work that needs to be done but I’m encouraged with my interactions with him up to this point.

Q. I asked you last night about the tight ends, you said it depends on the player?

BRIAN DABOLL: Yeah.

Q. You got one?

BRIAN DABOLL: We got six. Just trying to figure out exactly what they do. I’ve had years where I had Marty Bennett and Gronkowski and other years with Charles Clay, who is a completely different type of guy.

I would say we have a variety of guys right now on the roster, some bigger-type receivers. Some a little bit more blockers. Running around with shorts on, it’s good to see their movement skills and how they can track a ball. But once we get to training camp OTAs when they have to do things a little more quickly, we’ll figure that out.

But I would say we have a mix of guys that can get down in a three-point stance and block some defensive ends, and that’s getting harder to find each year. It’s just the nature of the game. If you have young kids that play football, you see how the game is being played. It’s a spread game. A lot of RPOs, even from the earliest stages, and then you get into high school, and I don’t need to talk about the evolution of game right now, but that’s kind of what it is.

You go to college and you see the same thing. It’s not — you’ve got to look at offensive linemen a little bit differently. You have to look at cover players a little bit differently. It’s a completely different game than it was even 22 years ago when I started, and I think you have to evolve as a coach, too, both how you evaluate players and how you design scheme.

Q. Joe, what would you tell Giants fans you think you accomplished with this draft?

JOE SCHOEN: I think we added competition and depth. Hopefully as many of these guys turn into starters as we can, but again we are not going to hand anybody anything. We want them to come in, compete, work hard, and, again, we want to see progress. I’ve said that since day one and I think this will lead us to that.

Media Q&As with Draft Picks: Transcripts of the media Q&A phone call sessions with the draft picks immediately following their selection are available in The Corner Forum:

Saturday’s Media Sessions with Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal: The video and transcript of Saturday’s media sessions with the team’s two 1st-round draft picks are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com.

Saturday’s Media Sessions with Wan’Dale Robinson, Joshua Ezeudu, and Cor’Dale Flott: The video and transcript of Saturday’s media sessions with the team’s second-day draft picks are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com.

Apr 292022
 
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Wan'Dale Robinson, Kentucky (March 3, 2022)

Wan’Dale Robinson – © USA TODAY Sports

On the second day of the 2022 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected:

  • 2nd Round: WR Wan’Dale Robinson (University of Kentucky)
  • 3rd Round: OG/OT Joshua Ezeudu (University of North Carolina)
  • 3rd Round: CB Cor’Dale Flott (LSU)

The Giants traded away their pick in the 2nd-round pick (36th overall) to the New York Jets for their 2nd-round pick (38th overall) for an additional 5th-round pick from the Jets (146th overall). The Giants also traded away that 2nd-round pick (38th overall) to the Atlanta Falcons for their 2nd-round pick (43rd overall) for additional 4th-round pick from the Falcons (114th overall).

Sy’56’s Scouting Report on WR Wan’Dale Robinson: Junior entry from Frankfort, KY. Spent two seasons at Nebraska before transferring to Kentucky for the 2021 season. Honorable Mention All-Big 10 in both 2019 and 2020, second team All-SEC in 2021. Robinson has been a hybrid receiver/running back from the start of his career and will give an NFL offense the opportunity to create a big-time playmaker out of him. He has the well-balanced athletic ability and overall skill set to do multiple things, align from different spots, and create on his own. He is much more than an undersized, underneath threat that can occasionally take a jet sweep. He has had a lot of success in the deep passing game and plays with the kind of competitive fire that an at least somewhat make up for the lack of ideal size. Because he has lined up all over the offense, Robinson is a little rough around the edges when it comes release and route nuances, but all can be corrected in time. He is a big play threat every time he gets on the field no matter where he lines up.

*Robinson is a guy I have a feeling about. The quickness and burst he has the instant he touches the ball is exactly what gets overlooked by many when looking at measurables. He has the knack to find creases immediately. He is also one tough, strong dude that understands he can use the diminutive frame to his advantage, as a weapon. He is a gadget player, not someone that is always on the field. An argument can be made that only an established offense should be using a pick on a guy like this. I would not agree. Robinson is someone that can make things happen on his own. He can create big plays from nothing and that is what a growing offense needs. Robinson will make grown men hold their breath every time he gets the ball. The way Daboll used Isaiah McKenzie in Buffalo is a nice template: 77 catches – 27 rushes – 21 punt returns – 29 kick returns since 2019. I see Robinson being a better version of that. Keep an eye here.

Sy’56’s Scouting Report on OG/OT Joshua Ezeudu: Fourth-year junior entry from Lawrenceville, GA. Three-year starter that earned Honorable Mention All-ACC honors in 2021, second-team in 2020. Because of injuries and inconsistent play throughout the entire line, Ezeudu was moved around often. Throughout his career he played every spot along the line with some of his best tape coming from his snaps at left tackle. His top position will be inside at guard but that kind of versatility can boost his stock a bit. Ezeudu excels with his hands and displays quick feet, always a good place to start. The natural top-end athletic ability is limited, however, and it shows up when he needs to adjust laterally. His knee bend is inconsistent and there is a recoil in his reaction-times because of it. If he can improve some lower body techniques, there are some quality traits to work with.

*When looking to add offensive linemen early day three, I love the idea of getting a guy that has credible experience and ability at multiple spots. There is no question Ezeudu projects best to guard, but I do think he could be a swing tackle if needed. So many teams have depth issues there. You see a guy or two go down with an injury and all of the sudden the entire offense needs to change. Ezeudu looks pro ready on most levels. His movement just seems a step too slow right now but I think he is better than over half the backups in the league right now. Throw in the versatility and I think it is a brilliant pick if he can be had in the right slot.

Sy’56’s Scouting Report on CB Cor’Dale Flott: Junior entry from Saraland, AL. Two-year starter that saw time outside and at nickel. Cousin to fellow draft prospect Velus Jones, a wide receiver from Tennessee. Flott is a smooth mover that gets in and out of his breaks with no wasted motion. He plays faster than he times because of it. He lacks a physical presence on contact and there is not much of a frame to build on. Because of that, Flott will need to be near-flawless when it comes to route anticipation and reaction. He will likely project as a backup nickel that can see the field in deeper sub packages. He has some safety type traits against the pass only as well. He may be a guy without a true position and I’m not sure I see a ton of special teams upside.

Media Q&A with General Manager Joe Schoen and Head Coach Brian Daboll after 2nd round (Video):

JOE SCHOEN: We took Wan’Dale Robinson out of Kentucky. Good football player we’ve had our eye on, generator with the ball in his hands, very good run after the catch, very good route runner, can separate. And for what we are going to do offensively, we thought he would be a very good fit for us.

Q. Did you go into this day thinking, I want to trade down?

JOE SCHOEN: Yes.

Q. And the reason for that?

JOE SCHOEN: We just thought it was what was best for us at this time. More picks would benefit us the most we thought based on who was on our board.

Q. So would you stay at 36 or did you have a pick there?

JOE SCHOEN: We had deals in place before the Draft started. So we were confident. We knew we could move back. That was part of the plan.

Q. Both deals were in place?

JOE SCHOEN: We had a couple deals in place, and then the one at 38 wasn’t necessarily in place, but it was something that we had talked about we would potentially be able to do, and then we were able to do it.

Q. Seems like a similar type of skillset to Kadarius Toney. Does bringing him in impact —

JOE SCHOEN: Is that a bad thing?

Q. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. Does it impact Kadarius at all?

JOE SCHOEN: You guys saw Kadarius. I’ll take as many of those guys as we can on the field. Again, he’s a generator when the ball is in his hands. He can run after a catch. He can separate from DBs, he gets open. He played some running back at Nebraska. That’s a versatile piece you can use in your offense. If you look at some of the other guys, how you can use them, and if you look at Daboll’s past or you look at Kafka’s past in terms of the creativeness in their offense and the weapons they can utilize, I think you can kind of see what the vision may look like.

Q. Brian, is he the kind of guy you look at, do you start thinking about all the different pieces you have already?

BRIAN DABOLL: Yeah, I think you do that when you evaluate all these prospects, is make sure they are a fit for your team, whether it’s a receiver or a guy that plays in the back end or up front guys, what they can do for you.

Like Joe mentioned, versatile, got quickness, explosiveness, he’s tough even for a smaller guy. Been a very productive player really going back to high school when he played there in Kentucky. So a guy we’re anxious to get our hands on and work with and implement into our scheme.

Q. You’re not going to be able to coach him bigger. Is size a concern?

BRIAN DABOLL: I’ve coached a lot of small guys: Deion Branch, Super Bowl MVP, Isaiah McKenzie last year.

I mean, your job as a receiver is to get open and catch the ball, however that may be. Some guys are quicker. Some guys are faster. Some guys are bigger. But if they can find a way to generate and get open, then you use their skillset to the best of your ability.

Q. What was out there with Kadarius recently, would this affect his future with the team at all? Would you view it that way?

JOE SCHOEN: We like the player. If he can be like Kadarius when he’s on the field and he’s healthy, we’ll take as many of those guys as we can.

BRIAN DABOLL: Kadarius has had a good week.

Q. Did you expect Robinson to be available for you at this point?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, we were hoping so. When we looked at certain players that may be there, he was a guy we thought could potentially be there and we have a very clear vision for the player and look forward to utilizing him.

Q. Did I hear you say Kadarius had a good week?

BRIAN DABOLL: Yeah, I said Kadarius had a good week. Good to see him. Jumped right in and chugging along.

Q. Have you shut the door on trying to trade him?

JOE SCHOEN: We’re not shopping Kadarius Toney.

Q. So you’re not going to trade him?

JOE SCHOEN: Reflect on what I just said.

Q. When a cornerback went right before, was that someone on your radar, seemed like a guy that fit with your needs?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, he’s a guy we spent time on, good football player. It was Minnesota that took him. But yeah, we are happy with who we got in Wan’Dale?

Q. When you do trade down, you got a bunch of guys circled, you know you’re going to miss this guy, this guy and that’s just the way it is, do you have four or five guys that you say, we’re good with all these guys?

JOE SCHOEN: We had a bunch of guys circled. Some needs that we need to address, so we’re working on that and we’ll continue to work on that through tonight and tomorrow.

Q. Were you were shopping those picks —

JOE SCHOEN: Shopping, yes, that’s something I was shopping.

Q. Were you surprised that there weren’t many teams coming up for the quarterbacks?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, when teams call you and they want to make moves, you don’t really know what — you can speculate but you don’t really know what they are coming up for. We did get some calls from teams from further back today, and we speculated that that may be what it was. But you never really know what they are coming up for.

So you just have to be, hey, these are the players, this is how many picks I’m moving back and there’s a chance you’re going to lose a couple of these players, is there still going to be somebody there that you’re happy with. So that’s kind what have we take into account when we do consider moving back, who may or may not be there.

Q. Did you give any thought to taking a quarterback in the second round given the value?

JOE SCHOEN: No, we didn’t.

Q. Have teams been unwilling to trade picks in next year’s draft?

JOE SCHOEN: It’s come up in a couple conversations, but it was moves that really didn’t make sense for us. Wasn’t a win for us by any means in those conversations that we had.

Q. You guys both saw McKenzie when he grew up in Buffalo. Is Wan’Dale somebody like that? Do you see similarities to what you guys were able to do with McKenzie?

BRIAN DABOLL: I hate to compare guys from one system to the next. I understand the question relative to their size and some of their abilities. I’m just anxious to get him in here. He had good production on his college tape and a guy we thought we could utilize. Some of it will probably be like Isaiah, I would assume, but I don’t want to say that’s for certain until we get him in the building. But he was excited. It was a good call.

Q. Is this kid Robinson a slot or is he slot and outside too or what?

BRIAN DABOLL: Yeah, I think he can do both. You know, I think he can play inside, and I think he’s strong enough and fast enough, even though he’s a smaller, shorter guy, that he can contribute outside, too.

Again, what we’re trying to do is put as many generating pieces out there to create pace and stretch the field, whether it be vertical or horizontally, and this is another good guy that has ability to run after catch, which is an important aspect of it.

Again, receivers, and I understand the questions, they come in all different shapes. You know, there’s big, tall guys that can make unbelievable contested catches. There’s shorter quicker guys that give them five yards and they are going to create separation, and ultimately our job is to figure out what we have here between KG and KT and Shep. We have to figure out our pieces and put them in the right spot. Slayton.

Q. He had a bunch of drops. Do you see something in his hands or something you can fix?

BRIAN DABOLL: I think he’s got good hands, yeah.

Media Q&A with General Manager Joe Schoen and Head Coach Brian Daboll after 3rd round (Video):

Q. So Josh Ezeudu out of North Carolina?

JOE SCHOEN: So Josh Ezeudu out of North Carolina, a player we liked obviously. History of playing multiple spots on the offensive line. He’s got guard-tackle flex. Again, we’ll bring him in, I’m not sure, not going to say exactly where we’re going to start him, but we like the versatility that he can play guard, he can play tackle, compete to start probably inside, with outside flex.

And then Cor’Dale Flott is a guy we liked out of LSU, athletic kid, versatility, play inside, outside. Both kids we spent a lot of time with throughout the spring, and we’re happy to have them.

Q. How do you view your cornerback position? Can Aaron Robinson play 80, 60 snaps a game?

JOE SCHOEN: We are excited about him, just getting to know him, getting to see him move around the last couple weeks. That group, the coaching staff is back, so we’re excited about him. I’m not going to make any predictions or anything in terms of play time or any of that. We’ve still got a long way to go, but he’s definitely going to be competing for a starting job.

Q. Josh, in games, would switch spots.

JOE SCHOEN: Impressive. He’s impressive. It’s rare. I was fortunate enough to see him play live twice this year, Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh. He’s a big man, and it’s impressive. Again, he could play multiple spots not only on a week-to-week basis but within a game, within drives. So it’s very impressive, and he’s an outstanding kid. You guys will like getting to know him.

Q. Flott, he’s not the biggest guy, but do you see him as a guy who can play outside, or do you see him primarily as a guy who is better suited in the slot?

JOE SCHOEN: I think position one, ideally, he’s inside, but he can play inside and outside. He has height, and he does have length. And again, the kid is 20 years old. I believe he turns 21 in August or September. I think it’s August.

So still young, still developing. Three-year guy at LSU that played in a really talented backfield and a good conference.

We’re excited. He’s got really good movement skills to play inside, but with the size and length, can play outside as well.

Q. Seems like you were prepared for every possible situation. Did you see the quarterbacks slipping like they have so far? I think there was one in the first 73 picks. How has that affected the Draft for teams like you that are not picking a quarterback?

JOE SCHOEN: I’m a little surprised that there are a couple guys still on the board, at least they are when I walked down here. With all the pre-Draft chatter, I assumed a couple of those guys would already be gone.

Q. Does that push guys that you had lower, does that push them up?

JOE SCHOEN: Guys that were lower, push them up? Not really. The quarterback position, again, the amount of quarterbacks that are taken, it’s not like a different position group where there’s high volume. I wouldn’t say that’s the case there.

Q. Was there a point today where you started to maybe consider that because you didn’t expect these guys to fall to this point?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, we discussed every position. Again, I think up top, you know, you weren’t really thinking about it, but again, if you follow your board, and we did do work on all position groups. It came up in discussions, as every position does. But again we followed our board, and we typically go with the guys that are on the same line at that value.

Q. Does it bother you, when you’re talking about those kinds of guys that you guys maybe personally didn’t see a lot of them throughout?

JOE SCHOEN: No, we saw them all through. We were at the pro days. I saw every quarterback play live this year. We did our homework.

Q. You have five picks left tomorrow, right?

JOE SCHOEN: Two fours, three fives and a six.

Q. What do you want to accomplish tomorrow? You traded back and picked up those pieces.

JOE SCHOEN: Continue to build depth. Depth is important, whether it’s a backup role, compete for a starting role or special teams. Fourth down is going to be important to us as well. Just continue to build depth and competition.

Q. How realistic is it that you make all six of those picks, or do you feel like you have the ammo that you can trade up now and maybe go get somebody?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, we could do either or. Again, Draft picks are currency, It allows you to move up, down, whatever you may do, into next year, something happens. It just gives you flexibility throughout the Draft. I can’t really predict it right now, but there are still guys on the board that we like.

Q. Were you surprised a market for James Bradberry hasn’t materialized as much as you might have expected a couple months ago?

JOE SCHOEN: No. We’ve had conversations about James. Teams have called. He’s still a good player and a good person. The market is what it is.

Q. Have you received more interest during the Draft?

JOE SCHOEN: No.

Q. Why didn’t you exercise the option on Daniel?

JOE SCHOEN: It was the best decision for the Giants. After our conversations, that’s what we came up with, the best decision for us right now.

Q. Will you assess after today and tomorrow morning and say, all right, with these six picks, we kind of need these positions and we can look at these positions that we haven’t addressed?

BRIAN DABOLL: Yeah, we have conversations after every day of the Draft relative to where we’ve set the board and needs. And if those two match, that’s a great thing. We’re going to try to acquire as many good players as we can to try to make us as competitive as we can.

Q. How do you see the tight end role in your offense?

BRIAN DABOLL: It just depends.

Q. On what? The player?

BRIAN DABOLL: Yeah, it depends on who we have, yeah. So again, if we have — there was times last year we played with five receivers. There’s been times where we’ve played with three tight ends, sometimes four tight ends.

I think when you put together an offense, you try to build it around the strengths of the players that you have. And if that’s a bunch of receivers, it’s a bunch of receivers. If it’s one tight end, it’s one tight end. There were games last year where we went to the game with one active tight end. I think probably the last five or six weeks of the season.

So based on who we have, and look, there’s a long time to build our roster, too. It’s not just the Draft. We have, you know, awhile here. There’s a lot of different things that can happen.

Q. What do you look for in terms of traits out of a linebacker?

JOE SCHOEN: Outside or inside? Inside, instincts, athleticism, range, speed. You know, again, leadership, communication.

Q. Nakobe Dean is a guy, inside linebacker, a lot of people expected to be taken early in this Draft. Did you guys consider him? There’s been talks about him being flagged by a bunch of teams. What did you —

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, there’s a reason he’s drafting — I don’t know what’s all out there, what you have, but we can’t really talk much about that. But yeah, there’s a reason he’s fallen, I think. And, you know, he’s a great kid. He had a great career, and I’m sure he’ll go shortly.

Media Q&A with WR Wan’Dale Robinson:

Q. Were you surprised the Giants called you this early? Did you expect to go at this point in the draft?

WAN’DALE ROBINSON: I always felt like I was talented enough to be picked this early. I just felt like somebody just had to believe in me and not believe in the hype thing and just believe in the football player.

Q. What kind of player are the Giants getting? Give us your self-scouting report.

WAN’DALE ROBINSON: A tough, elusive, exciting — just a playmaker.

Q. How much contact did you have with the Giants during the pre-draft process?

WAN’DALE ROBINSON: I had talked to them at the Combine, and I talked to them through Zooms. Then I had a meeting a week or two right before with the GM and assistant GM.

Q. Do you know (Wide Receiver) Kadarius Toney? You played in the same conference with him, right?

WAN’DALE ROBINSON: Well, I didn’t — I wasn’t in the SEC the years that he was there. So, I didn’t get to see him in person but I know who he is.

Q. Do you think your game resembles his in any way?

WAN’DALE ROBINSON: I mean, I think we all have our separate ways and different types of games, and I think we probably do some of the things that are similar and can do things that are alike in the short game and intermediate game and things like that. But at the end of the day, we are just play-makers I think.

Q. When you talked to Coach Daboll, did he give you a clear vision of what he thinks you can do in his offense?

WAN’DALE ROBINSON: Just come in and be a versatile piece and just do a lot of different things for the offense. At the end of the day, I just want to come in and help the team win.

Q. How often have you heard over your career that you’re not big enough?

WAN’DALE ROBINSON: I’ve heard that my whole entire career, so it’s nothing new to me. At the end of the day just another obstacle you’ve got to overcome just with what people think. For myself, I don’t think it’s a challenge or anything.

Q. Do you liken your game to anybody else out there that we would know?

WAN’DALE ROBINSON: I try to take pieces of everybody’s game, all the top receivers in the game, (Rams Wide Receiver) Cooper Kupp, just being in the same offense that he was last year I had to watch a lot of him. (Raiders Wide Receiver) Davante Adams, (Bills Wide Receiver) Stefon Diggs, there are a lot of guys that I like to take pieces of their game from to try to make it my own. Not try to be anybody.

Q. How much do you think you went under the radar? I think you caught a hundred plus passes but when people were talking about the receivers in this Draft, your name was not coming up that often with the top guys.

WAN’DALE ROBINSON: I mean, at the end of the day, I just felt like everybody has their own opinion. I wasn’t trying to get caught up in that. I just felt like at the end of the day I was going to end up where I was supposed to. I just needed one team to take that chance on me and I was going it give them all I’ve got.

Q. Do you know anything about New York or New Jersey?

WAN’DALE ROBINSON: Not too much, no actually. I was just there a couple weeks for “Good Morning Football” and that was the first time I had ever been to New York. I’m ready.

Q. What did you think?

WAN’DALE ROBINSON: It was big. A lot of people (laughs).

Q. Who are you with? What was it like getting the call? Can you paint the picture for us?

WAN’DALE ROBINSON: I’m at this hotel here in Lexington. I’ve got a lot of family and friends, quite a bit of people. Really my entire family on both sides, my mom and dad, and a lot of my friends and teammates. It’s a full house.

Q. What do you like about lining up all over the field? I know you’ve played slot and you’ve even lined up at running back and you’ve done all this stuff. How much do you like your ability to do all that?

WAN’DALE ROBINSON: I mean that’s what I pride myself on. I like being a guy that can do all the things equally well, not just doing one thing, stand out well. Just being able to do everything on the field so that way the defense doesn’t know what I’m going to do whenever I’m in the game.

Q. How many times did (Kentucky Quarterback) Will (Levis) throw the ball in a game last season?

WAN’DALE ROBINSON: I can’t tell you exactly a number. There were games that we were more throw-heavy, just depending on the team. Then there were games that – our offensive line was very good – so if there were games we were able to run it the whole game, we were doing that.

Q. Capital D in your name after the apostrophe, right?

WAN’DALE ROBINSON: Yes. Yes, Mom will get mad if she sees that (laughs).

Media Q&A with OG/OT Joshua Ezeudu:

Q. Congratulations, Josh.

JOSH EZEUDU: Thank you so much. Thank you so much.

Q. What position would you say you play?

JOSH EZEUDU: I will play anything the team needs me to play. I’m a team player. I just can’t wait to get there and get to work.

Q. What was your reaction when you heard you were being selected and that it was going to be to New York and the Giants?

JOSH EZEUDU: It was very surreal. Like you think about it so much, but until it actually happens, it kind of shocks you. I was speechless. I didn’t know what type of emotions I had, then as soon as I heard my name being called, I let it all out. It was surreal. It took a lot of hard work to get here, but the hard work is still not done though.

Q. Are you with family or friends? Where are you?

JOSH EZEUDU: Yes, I’m with my family right now.

Q. In Georgia?

JOSH EZEUDU: Yes, in Georgia.

Q. Was it a surprise to you that it was the Giants and here in the third round?

JOSH EZEUDU: I mean, I would say for your name to be called is always a surprise. Everybody expects it to happen, but until it actually happens, it actually kind of shocks you. So, yes, it was a big surprise, but at the end of the day, I just thank God for everything.

Q. Did you have a hunch the Giants were interested throughout the process? What was your connection to them?

JOSH EZEUDU: I just met with (Offensive Line) Coach (Bobby) Johnson before my pro day, and he was also at my pro day too. So that was the only interaction I had with them.

Q. You played multiple positions in the same drive? How does that work?

JOSH EZEUDU: Yes, sir.

Q. Is that by design?

JOSH EZEUDU: That’s just what happened based on whatever our team needed. If our team needed a left guard, then I would move to left guard. If we were struggling at tackle, I would move out to tackle.

Media Q&A with CB Cor’Dale Flott:

Q. How confident are you that you can play both inside and outside corner at the pro level?

COR’DALE FLOTT: I’m very confident. That’s one thing I feel as far as versatility-wise, coming to this program, this organization, I focus more on what’s going to be needed and what areas I’m going to be able to improve and help contribute to the team.

Q. Did you look at it as an opportunity this year when some of your outside guys got banged up and couldn’t play, that you getting more and more time on the outside, kind of showed part of your game that people weren’t anticipating?

COR’DALE FLOTT: Yeah, for sure. When that incident happened, I hate that for those players, but as far as me, it just gave me another opportunity to show more of what I can do and help contribute to the team – like I said I was going to do for this organization.

Q. Maybe some of the analysts didn’t have you going at this point in the Draft, but did you expect to go in the third round?

COR’DALE FLOTT: Yes, I expected it, but not from the Giants, it definitely caught me surprised. I’m very excited.

Q. Why? Why was it a surprise that it was the Giants?

COR’DALE FLOTT: You know, I got along well with the coaches, and I just hear different things from coaches and teams when I was on visits. But I kind of low-key felt like the New York Giants, and the staff, and the cornerbacks coach kind of clicked. So, when I got their call, it was very surprising.

Q. How many visits did you have?

COR’DALE FLOTT: I had seven.

Q. Do you know (Wide Receiver) Kadarius Toney?

COR’DALE FLOTT: Yeah, he played for Blount (High School). He played in high school in my region.

Q. What was that like? What was that rivalry like between those two teams?

COR’DALE FLOTT: He’s a real human joystick for real. I’ve seen it with my own eyes – all throughout his career and when I played him before. I’ll definitely be able to have another chance to go against him again.

Q. Who won that matchup?

COR’DALE FLOTT: He did. He won, and that was the last time I’ve seen him. But we’re definitely going to play again, though.

Q. Who is the toughest guy you had to cover this year?

COR’DALE FLOTT: Toughest guy I had to cover this year, I would say Wan’Dale Robinson from Kentucky.

Q. Are you aware he’s joining you here? Are you just blowing smoke, or is that legit and conveniently you guys are both here?

COR’DALE FLOTT: No, I’m for real. I’m not blowing smoke.

Q. What makes him so hard to cover?

COR’DALE FLOTT: He’s just quick and elite, one of those guys in the slot you’re not really going to be able to get your hands on right away. You’ve got to be able to create speed on top of the route. He’s a good receiver.

Q. Were you on him most of the game?

COR’DALE FLOTT: Yes, I was.

Q. The expectation I think is going to play a lot of man coverage in this defense. How comfortable are you in that type of scheme?

COR’DALE FLOTT: I’m very comfortable in that scheme. Coming to LSU, that’s one of the main things we’re known for and that’s one of the things you know you’re going to do when you first commit to come and play DB there. I’m very comfortable with man-to-man coverage, so I’m excited.

Q: What do you know about New York/New Jersey?

COR’DALE FLOTT: Man, I’m excited. I’ve only been to Jersey once, when I was on a visit, so I’ve definitely got a lot to experience and a lot to learn from as soon as I step my foot in the door.

Q. How do you spell your first name? I’ve seen it a couple of ways.

COR’DALE FLOTT: It’s apostrophe, capital D.

Apr 282022
 
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Kayvon Thibodeaux, New York Giants (April 28, 2022)

Kayvon Thibodeaux – © USA TODAY Sports

With the 5th pick and 7th picks in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux (University of Oregon) and offensive tackle Evan Neal (University of Alabama), respectively.

Sy’56’s Scouting Report on Kayvon Thibodeaux: Junior entry from South Central Los Angeles. Three-year starter that came out of school as a topflight, 5-star recruit and delivered. Earned 1st Team All-Pac 12 honors all three years, won the 2020 Morris Trophy, and landed on both the 2020 and 2021 All American squads. Thibodeaux has a long, explosive frame that can bend in and out of small creases with tremendous power and strength. His lockout game combined with a strong initial burst consistently gives him initial positional advantages on blockers. Sometimes, that alone is good enough as he can work through the shoulder of a blocker with consistent ease whether he is rushing the passer or defending the run. He is equally productive against both. Where Thibodeaux struggles, however, is when he is matched up against pro-caliber size and power when it comes to secondary rush moves. He needs to show more technique refinement and continue to try and strengthen his base, which plays small and gets too narrow at times. His lack of body control will cause issues as well when it comes to reaction-based action. His tool set is top shelf, but he is far from a finished product and will need to fix a lot prior to being labeled a dependable player.

*I am going to try and not make this too long because the Thibodeaux fans get really offended, really easily. First off: I have 800+ grades on my master sheet along with another 400+ “training camp body” labels. Thibdodeaux is in the top 15. So yes, I do like him, and I do project him to be a very good football player in the NFL. A starter with high, sky-high, upside. There is some Harold Landry in his game. That said, I do not see him being the All-Pro or even perennial Pro Bowl type. When it comes to the “effort” shortcomings, this is NOT a guy that walks up and down the field. He does NOT play with the “I don’t care” label. There is more to effort than sheer hustle, however.

My issues with Thibodeaux revolve around what he did against his best competition. If he lost initially, if he got locked onto, I did not see the secondary moves. I didn’t see the secondary wiggle to try and re-gain a position. The contrast between him and the other top 5 edge guys in the class in that department is obvious. He also had too many dumb penalties. When it isn’t easy for him (he matched up against some awful OTs), he got frustrated and immature. He didn’t pin his ears back and elevate his game. To me, that is effort and mental toughness that just isn’t there. It is a crucial, borderline vital trait to playing the edge.

That is where I left it with him. And then hearing how he talks about himself and a contract. I have a saying “…he works at his craft like he is above it all already…” simply rubs me the wrong way. Enough that I would be too nervous to use #5 or #7 on him with the other guys available. That is all.

Sy’56’s Scouting Report on Evan Neal: Junior entry from Okeechobee, Florida. Three-year starter at three different positions (LG, RT, LT). A 2019 Freshman All American that ended his career as a 2nd Team All American and 1st Team All SEC honoree. Neal, a team captain, is lauded by both the on-field coaches and support staff inside the walls. His attention to detail, intelligence, and work ethic have helped him deliver on his 5-star recruit profile out of high school. The fact he started right away as a true freshman for Nick Saban along the offensive line, a rarity, and progressed each season of his 3-year career while playing 3 different positions speaks volumes about his mental game. The obvious with Neal is the elite physical tools. His size is second to none, his power comes easy and natural, and the explosion within his blocking can put him in a rare tier of offensive line prospects. He did struggle with consistency throughout his career, as he showed low body awareness in several situations. He often oversets, leading to balance and control issues. Defenders were able to shake him off too many times. Neal’s upside is as high as it gets but the constant new-position he dealt with every year may have thrown off some important development. That versatility may help his outlook to some teams but once he is drafted, his true value will come when he settles into a position. Neal can eventually be one of the best linemen in the game.

*Prior to the start of the year, I had nearly no-doubt Neal was going to finish in the 90+ tier. But this is where you have to toss pre-conceived notions out the window when watching the tape. The truth is, Neal did not take a step forward. There are shortcomings within his skill set that arose weekly. The positive? These are all very correctable issues, and we see them corrected all the time. He has some of the same issues that Tristan Wirfs did coming out of Iowa in 2020. Wirfs was my OT1 in that class with a similar grade and is now an All-Pro. Neal can get on that path just as quickly, but I think he needs to settle into a position and remain there for a couple years. That hasn’t been the case since he was a high schooler. NYG would be an ideal destination for him. Insert him into the RT spot week 1 and they could have a top tier OT pair within a year or two. I would be excited to get this kid in blue.

Media Q&A with General Manager Joe Schoen and Head Coach Brian Daboll (Video):

JOE SCHOEN: First start off, we’re ecstatic with the two players we got, obviously getting Kayvon Thibodeaux, a really good pass rusher at five, we are excited about that. Thought of getting him there with Azeez on the other side and the pass rush is important to us, so two young pass rushers on the team now that we are definitely excited about.

Evan Neal, again, I’m sure it will come up, but starting off we’ll be putting him at right tackle. Obviously, we really like his versatility, 40 career starts in three different spots in the SEC, only missed one game in his career with COVID. So both 21 years old, young players, both still have upside to develop.

But, you know, it worked out great. We are happy with both of the players that we were able to procure tonight.

So open up for questions.

Q. Joe, what was it like sitting at five, three tackles, you obviously love Kayvon, how much decision-making, not just the players but the order?

JOE SCHOEN: We have been through these scenarios a million times. We had seven or eight cards, and we just kept switching them back and forth based on different scenarios, and this is a scenario we went over. And if there were tackles on board and the pass rusher, we were going pass rusher knowing we could get a tackle at 7. We were ecstatic when that scenario came up.

Q. Did you say Neal would be starting at right tackle?

JOE SCHOEN: I’m not saying starting. Yeah, we are going to — we are going to work him at right tackle, yes, knowing he has versatility to play left or play guard, which was attractive to us.

Q. Kayvon at the Combine said you gave him a hard time in interviews to see if he could handle it. What has been your impression of him?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, we spent a lot of time with him. We met with him at the Combine, I flew out there for his pro day along with a couple other individuals, and we had him in here for a visit.

He’s a very outgoing individual. He’s got a lot of personality. I’m sure you guys will enjoy your time with him meeting him, but a really good kid, likeable kid, works hard.

We had a good — Brian and I had several conversations with some of his coaches the last couple of days. We FaceTimed him last weekend and we got to know the kid maybe more than any player in this draft. Liked the personality and liked the player.

Q. You say you got to know him more than any other player in the draft. Is that because there was more you needed to know about him and how that personality would fit here?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, and it worked out that way, too, that I was able to get to his pro day and go to dinner with him. You can only do with so many players during that time, he was one of the players I was able to go to dinner with at a pro day, plus spend time with him here, plus at a Combine. There’s a lot of players and only so much amount of time.

Evan Neal is the same way. Had dinner with him here. I wasn’t able to go to pro day because of the owners meetings, but we had him in the room at the Combine too. A lot of very good interactions with both prospects.

Q. The physical traits that stood out to you about Kayvon and about Evan, what stood out?

BRIAN DABOLL: They both have good size, good length. Kayvon is quick off the ball. I think he has a wide variety of pass rush moves, but he can also set an edge for us on our defense, and it’s no secret we play multiple schemes with Wink as our defensive coordinator, and we envision Kayvon being able to do a lot of different things for us. He’s going to have to come in here and earn it, but a productive player the time he’s been at Oregon.

Evan has played multiple positions. He’s long — it takes a guy the long route to go to the quarterback. He’s got long arms. He’s a big, massive man, played multiple positions, had a lot of people down at Alabama that I trust and had a lot confidence in him and had a lot of good things to say about him and along with Bobby Johnson and Tony Sparano, the guys that have looked at him, we thought very highly of him.

Again, this situation that came up, Joe and I, we’ve been meeting the last three or four nights going through as many different scenarios as we can. He carries these magnets in his pockets and pulls them out. He had them in the draft room and moving them around and all that, and we did as many different scenarios as we could. I thought we were well-prepared for tonight, and when it fell the way it fell, we already had that in the plan.

Q. Brian, people think that the Giants stepped into pretty much the best-case scenario. How would you describe how the top of the Draft went?

BRIAN DABOLL: I credit Joe and his staff, along with the coaches, everyone putting so much time and effort. Even till last week, we were watching some guys in my office, Joe and myself and about eight other people for seemed like 12 hours a day, we just watched three guys.

We’re excited about what we have. Again, a lot of work to do with these guys. There always is when you draft young guys and come into your program, but certainly excited with their talent and also the type of people that they are.

Q. Joe, how many conversations did you have today about possibly making a trade back, and at what point did you realize you weren’t going to do that?

JOE SCHOEN: We had probably three teams that had talked about potentially moving up, and it was more to seven — there weren’t a lot of calls — actually, there weren’t any calls on anybody coming up to five. We had some conversations in a scenario where it was really six guys we coveted, and if one of them weren’t there, if all six went, then we would have probably considered moving back. But any scenario where two of the six guys we liked were there, we were going to stay. That would have been really the only chance we would have moved back in that scenario.

Q. In general, were teams low balling and reluctant to pay too much to move up just in this draft just in general talking to people?

JOE SCHOEN: I wouldn’t say that. You know, the two trades I had in place, it was like, hey let’s prepare, so if we’re on the clock, it’s already done, no haggling. With the two teams I talked to, it was fair. We both agreed it was fair. One of the teams actually called me and said, hey, we are out because a certain position was depleted that they were going to come up for.

We also had a contingency plan if our six guys that we liked were gone, we had a seventh, and if we had to make a pick and we couldn’t move back, we were prepared for that.

Brian is not kidding around. We had every possible scenario based on how the top of the Draft went, and it was really a unique draft. Typically you have an idea of who is going to be first and second, and there were rumors of it and rumors of who was going to go third, but you didn’t really know. Everybody was kind of speculating on that. So we were prepared for a lot of different scenarios.

Q. What would you say were differentiator when you had your choice of a couple tackles? And also, at some point, a hip injury or something, some people had mentioned that with regards to Neal — did you guys have a look at that, and would that factor in at all?

JOE SCHOEN: What he’s talking about, us sitting in an office and watching multiple players, multiple times. And I think if you asked around the league how everybody saw those tackles, you’d get a bunch of different opinions.

We did a lot of work on those guys, but after the pass rusher, after Thibodeaux, there was quite a drop. We like the tackles very similarly, so we thought it was best to let it play out and get the pass rusher first.

On the medical, a lot of times teams share medical grades, and, you know, I think it was 52 percent of the league, there was only 8 percent that had issues with anything with Evan. And circling up with that, I think that was a rumor that was out there, but the majority of the teams in the league, again, he started 40 career games; he missed one game because of COVID.

Q. Did you have to look into that again?

JOE SCHOEN: Our medical staff did a great job. They were on it. Before any of that came out, we went through all that and they mentioned what some teams had concerns with, and our doctors looked at it and they were fine with everything. His play history backs that up.

Q. How does not getting a corner impact James Bradberry?

JOE SCHOEN: That doesn’t affect James at all. I’ve said it all along, there are contingency plans. We still have three picks tomorrow night, a fourth, two fifths and a sixth. There are plenty of picks to be had.

Q. Joe, would you say even though the tackles were very close, would you say Neal was your No. 1 tackle?

JOE SCHOEN: They were very close, yeah. We had them side-by-side.

Q. So why did you pick him?

JOE SCHOEN: Because Ickey was gone at six.

Q. In terms of the other tackles —

JOE SCHOEN: We thought there was a drop off in pass rushers, and those two were still there, so it played itself out.

Q. There was a report earlier today that you guys were not going to pick up the fifth year on Daniel Jones. Is that true?

JOE SCHOEN: Yes, we exercised Dexter’s fifth-year option, and then we did not do Daniels.

Q. How does that affect the Draft? Are you looking for a quarterback now?

JOE SCHOEN: We are always open to all positions, but that doesn’t really affect our draft status. We met on it today, and it really doesn’t affect what we think about Daniel. We really like Daniel and the work he’s been putting in. And we are excited where he is, and we are excited to work with him. It was a decision we thought was best for the New York Giants at this time.

Q. What did Wink say? Have you spoken to him yet?

BRIAN DABOLL: Yeah, he gave me a fist pound back. Yeah, look, the Draft is an inexact deal, and you go through as many scenarios as you can and you prepare yourself. I’m not going to say it’s like preparing yourself for a game as a play caller.

We felt very comfortable yesterday. The defensive guys went out golfing today, and the offensive staff went out and did another thing. We felt comfortable. Credit to Joe and the scouting staff. They put the time in, along with the coaches. It was a team effort. Feel like we have two good players to help us, and now it’s going to be their job to come in here, work hard, learn how we do things, and help them develop.

JOE SCHOEN: Can I ask a question? I haven’t seen Wink, what is he wearing?

BRIAN DABOLL: Not a hat surprisingly. He’s got like a golf shirt on. Business casual for coaches tonight. First time I’ve seen them in normal clothes since I’ve been here.

Q. Your first time in the hot seat, what was the experience like for you in the war room?

JOE SCHOEN: Daboll was talking about it before. It was like when you go call a game, you’re at ease because you have all your third and five calls. If it’s third and plus 10, here are my calls we practiced all week, and we got it.

So when you’re up there, you’re calling a game. We had been through so many scenarios, the exact scenario that played out, we’ve been through it probably 15 times this week. We would stay in my office and move stuff around, what do we do here, what do we could here. We had a couple rhymes in place for different scenarios. It was very seamless. It was easy because where we were at five and seven, it was easy to plan for that and narrow your focus.

Tomorrow and Saturday may be a little bit different. You’ve got to look at our picks further down in the third round. Tomorrow might be easy for the first pick because we know if there’s four players that we like, and we are going to get one of those four if we stay where we are.

So overall it was good. Again, preparation, we have been through the draft process together, Dabs and I. Their taff did a phenomenal job like he said. They were very helpful and put in a lot of time and effort not just watching the film but Zooms. These guys were on Zooms with these prospects for like an hour, and we had a process in place and a test in place at each position that the coaches were given of these kids.

We took that into account when we talked about how they did on the football test they were giving them, how they learn, how they pick up information, how they communicate that information. It was a pretty extensive process, from the medical to the coaches to the psychological on all these guys, and I think our process will lead us to the best decisions ultimately.

Q. Do you think that the offensive line is finally fixed?

JOE SCHOEN: We haven’t been in pads yet. I hope so, but again, there’s going to be competition across all positions, and I feel like we’ve upgraded it from where I was here and we had four or five offensive linemen when you got here, and we’ve added some veteran guys we like, Jamil Douglas, Garcia, Feliciano, Glowinski. We are happy with those guys, Gono. And then now adding Evan Neal, I think it’s an interesting group and there’s some interior depth. And Matt Peart, when he comes back, all of a sudden, I think we could potentially be operating from a position of strength at that position.

Q. Did you recruit Evan and did the guys at Alabama help you in the process?

BRIAN DABOLL: No, didn’t recruit them, but certainly you have relationships in this business, whether it’s from team to team in the NFL or in this case, college teams. Obviously I know a lot of people down there. So they were very helpful. They are big proponents of Evan, rightfully so. He’s a good player, but you’re also trying to get to know the person and how does he treat the GAs and how is he in the cafeteria and the type of people that we want to build our program with, and he fit it to a T. And on top of that, you have to be a good football player and have some talent and love the game and love to compete.

We are happy he’s in our program, but now he’s got a lot of work to do.

Q. When you were on the clock, was there any conversation in the room about where to go?

BRIAN DABOLL: I’ll jump ahead of Joe. No, I told you he was prepared. There was not a lot of talking at all. It was calm, composed. And I think you can be that way when you’re prepared, when you put the time in and you have the conversations before they happen.

Again, I can’t tell you how many different scenarios we went through the past week, so we felt however it was going to unfold, that, you know, we would be ready for whatever decisions we had to make.

Q. Kayvon said on the TV when they were interviewing him on stage that before he got on the plane to go to Vegas, someone from the Giants FaceTimed him. Was it you?

BRIAN DABOLL: Yeah, Joe and I talked to him, again, just to say hello and wish him the best of luck in the draft process. We had good meetings with him. Good player. Just wanted to wish him luck.

Q. Can you talk about work ethic, his motivation, affinity for his brand, some people were concerned about that. Was there anything that eased your mind, something that you felt the need to look into or saw anything like that?

BRIAN DABOLL: I think you look into everything, but we sat down with the young man. He came up here on a visit, at the Combine. Joe did a Zoom. Did another Zoom with him. We felt very comfortable with him, his approach, both as a young football player and as a young man.

Q. Do you like coaching guys with big personalities, and how do you handle that?

BRIAN DABOLL: I like coaching good guys. Everybody has a different personality. When you’re coaching in the National Football League for 22 years, you come across a lot of different characters, and as long as they love football and they are a pro on and off the field. I have six kids, and they all have different personalities. And that’s the job of a coach, too, to learn your players, what makes them tick, how to push them when they need pushed, how to hug them when they need a hug. Felt very comfortable with him.

JOE SCHOEN: And these athletes are changing. The NIL stuff, these kids are making a lot of money in college. Freshmen in college, some are making $100,000, $200,000. It’s a different athlete and a different experience as a college football player, and we have to evolve and understand that kids are going to evolve, and what they have been exposed to when they were in college is going to be a little bit different.

Also with Kayvon, he had a serious ankle injury. And a lot of people, with his draft status and draft stock, could have hung it up and said, we’ll call it a season and I’m not going to play anymore. He fought back. And we talked to several people at the school, and he worked his way back and practiced, and a lot of people — he didn’t necessarily need to do that.

Q. Of the top tackles, Evan is the only one who played extensively at right tackle, how much did that come into play knowing you wanted to put him at right tackle?

JOE SCHOEN: It helps when you’re going to draft a player at number 7 and you get to see him do what you’re going to ask him to do. That makes you feel good. We definitely went back, we studied his tape from last season when he was at right tackle and even watched some of the stuff at guard. His versatility is important. One guy goes down in a game, it helps the eight guys you take on game day. If a guy can move around like that and help you out, that’s an added plus, too.

Q. Joe, you went to dinner with Kayvon. Before his pro day?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, Korean barbecue place. You have to ask him about it. I had never been to a Korean barbecue place before. It was a lot of fun.

Q. We see one side, one personality. Is he the same personality-wise in a different setting with you, or did you see a different side of him that appealed to you?

JOE SCHOEN: One-on-one, when Dabs and I just met with him on his visit, yeah, he’s very calm, cool, collect. And when I had one-on-one experiences with him, and when he’s out and about in front of you guys, you might see a little bit more personality on him. But all in all, a really good kid and got to like him throughout the process.

Re: Sam Prince announcing the selection at No. 5

SCHOEN: How about my man Sam?

DABOLL: We gotta mention Sam. You talk about juice.

SCHOEN: That’s the type of juice we’re looking for.

Media Q&A with Kayvon Thibodeaux:

Q. Congratulations.

KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Thank you, it’s been a blessing.

Q. You had said on stage that you were getting on a plane and you got a FaceTime from the Giants, what was that like and was that kind of the sign for you that something was happening?

KAYVON THIBODEAUX: They were surprised that I answered. But you know me I’m always authentic with it, so just being able to have that last minute conversation gave me that idea that yeah, they really care.

Q. Why are you made for New York? Why is New York the perfect landing spot for you?

KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Because I’m hungry. I’m really competitive and hungry and I feel like New York is the pinnacle of a dog-eat-dog world.

Q. Did you spend more time with the Giants than other teams or did you spend a lot of time with a lot of teams?

KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I spent the most time with the Giants, definitely.

Q. What did you think about getting to know (General Manager) Joe Schoen, (Head Coach) Brian Daboll and (Defensive Coordinator) Wink (Martindale) and the other guys here?

KAYVON THIBODEAUX: It was really dope because we really got to build a foundation, I don’t want to say relationship, but we built a foundation, and now I have a real understanding because when I get there, I can go to them for anything.

Q. What did you think you had to prove to them or were there any questions you felt like they needed answered when you kept going through the process and meeting them at different points?

KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I don’t necessarily know if there was anything specific that they needed answers, but I answered all of the questions without them asking. I was able to lay it all out on the line and I think they respected my delivery.

Q. There has been much said about Wink’s defense being multiple. How do you fit into that?

KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I’m a smart guy. I feel like his multiple defense is really going to give me the opportunity to be versatile and kind of just show everything I bring to the team.

Q. What’s your relationship like with (Former New York Giants Defensive End) Michael Strahan?

KAYVON THIBODEAUX: He literally is one of my mentors and he’s been talking to me throughout this process. He actually came to visit me when I was on my visit with the team, so seeing him out there that was really dope because he’s given me wisdom and he even was able to speak on my behalf because we have built a relationship over the year.

Q. How valuable will it be to have that resource when you get here do you think?

KAYVON THIBODEAUX: It’s really dope because he has literally walked in my footsteps and can show me the ropes on the field and off the field.

Q. What are the Giants getting as a player out of you?

KAYVON THIBODEAUX: They are getting a leader, they are getting a competitor and they are getting a guy who wants to win at any means.

Q. Did you think there were any misconceptions about you in this Draft process? Obviously, the Giants didn’t buy in to those, but did you think that you’re a little bit misunderstood as a player and a person and as a prospect?

KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I feel like anything that was said about me before this point is history, and now all we’re focused on is the future.

Q. What do you remember about the dinner you went on with Joe? He was talking how you took him to Korean barbecue for the first time.

KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Exactly, I took him to my house and we were able to break bread and do everything that we needed and I let them know that I eat, right. It was really dope, we got to break bread and we really got to build that relationship.

(celebratory noise) My bad, I’m sitting here with (Giants Tackle) Evan Neal and we’re sitting here – and it’s time.

Q. What’s that like to be there with Evan and knowing you guys just got picked together? I would imagine in your mind, you guys will be together for a while?

KAYVON THIBODEAUX: When you think about it, it’s a blessing when you have a complete competitor on the other side of the ball that you’re going to be able to go against every day knowing that you’re getting better because he’s getting better because we want to.

Q. It’s been said you’re probably the best edge rusher in the Draft. How are you against the run?

KAYVON THIBODEAUX: You’ve got to watch the tape.

Q. What do you say to that notion that your motor did not always run hot, that you took plays off? What do you say to that?

KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I say that the Giants believe in me, and me and Evan are going to go to work, and this is probably one of the greatest moments of my life.

Q. Who is going to win the one-on-one reps in rookie minicamp?

KAYVON THIBODEAUX: It’s going to be 50/50 every time. He’s going to hit me with an upper cut and I’m going to hit him with a right hook. He’ll hit me with a jab and I’m going to hit him with a stomach hit. We’re going to keep going back-to-back.

Media Q&A with Evan Neal:

Q. Did you talk to the Giants a lot through this process and did you have a feeling they were going to be a team that might take you tonight?

EVAN NEAL: Yeah, they had the fifth and the seventh pick and so I knew there was a possibility I could end up at the Giants for sure, but I’m just thankful they gave me an opportunity and I’m going to make the most of it.

Q. What was your reaction when they were on clock at five and didn’t take you?

EVAN NEAL: Hey, man, I was happy for Kayvon (Thibodeaux). I clapped for him. It’s a lot of uncertainty but I just controlling the things that I can control.

Q. What do you think of, you played right tackle obviously before you played left tackle. They are going to start you out at right tackle. What do you think of that? Is that a good spot for you?

EVAN NEAL: Yeah, I’m comfortable at all the tackle spots for sure.

Q. Do you know Andrew Thomas?

EVAN NEAL: I don’t think I’ve ever met him.

Q. What would you say to Giants fans that you’re bringing to the table as an offensive lineman if you’re describing yourself?

EVAN NEAL: The Giants are going to get a guy that is going to come in every day and work his hardest to be the best that he can be and just ultimately help the organization win.

Q. What were your reactions when the health rumors were coming out the last couple days about you?

EVAN NEAL: I was kind of shocked a little bit but at the end of the day I just control my controllables. I can’t control about the information that leaks out, but I played 41 games at Alabama, I didn’t miss a game, I didn’t miss a snap, I only missed one game due to COVID, so that’s your answer there.

Q. When you were sitting there just now when Kayvon was on with us and you see his personality busting out all over the place, what’s your reaction?

EVAN NEAL: He’s a funny guy, man. I’m just excited to continue to get to know him and spend time with him and compete against him.

Q. Do you get a sense that he’s the kind of guy that’s going to be talking to you in practice snap to snap?

EVAN NEAL: I really don’t care whether he does. I’m going to talk with my shoulder pads (Laughter).

Q. How would you describe your personality?

EVAN NEAL: Pretty much a laid-back guy. I’m kind of more of an introverted extrovert by nature, more reserved, quiet, but just talk to me. I’m a people person. I’m definitely a cool guy.

Q. Are you a better pass blocker or run blocker?

EVAN NEAL: Man, I feel like I’m good at both, honestly. I played well and I played at a high level at both, just turn on the film. That should give you your answer.

Q. You’re a real country boy. How does it feel playing in New York?

EVAN NEAL: A little bit of a culture shock, man, but I’m excited. I’m a country boy, but at the end of the day, I know how to fit in well with the city, so I’m just excited.

Q. Got some Alabama guys up here. Have you heard from them yet?

EVAN NEAL: Yeah, Xavier McKinney, when I was on my Top-30 visit, I got a chance to chop it up with him for a little bit. It’s going to be pretty cool being able to play with him.

Apr 282022
 
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New York Giants 2022 NFL Draft Review

Round Pick in Round Overall Selection Player Selected Video
1 5 5 Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux (Video)
1 7 7 OT Evan Neal (Video)
2 11 43 WR Wan’Dale Robinson (Video)
3 3 67 OG/OT Joshua Ezeudu (Video)
3 17 81 CB Cor’Dale Flott (Video)
4 7 112 TE Daniel Bellinger (Video)
4 9 114 S Dane Belton (Video)
5 3 146 LB Micah McFadden (Video)
5 4 147 DL D.J. Davidson (Video)
5 30 173 OG Marcus McKethan (Video)
6 3 182 LB Darrian Beavers (Video)

2022 Draft Pick Scouting Reports

1st Round – Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux, 6’4”, 254lbs, 4.58, University of Oregon

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Junior entry from South Central Los Angeles. Three-year starter that came out of school as a topflight, 5-star recruit and delivered. Earned 1st Team All-Pac 12 honors all three years, won the 2020 Morris Trophy, and landed on both the 2020 and 2021 All American squads. Thibodeaux has a long, explosive frame that can bend in and out of small creases with tremendous power and strength. His lockout game combined with a strong initial burst consistently gives him initial positional advantages on blockers. Sometimes, that alone is good enough as he can work through the shoulder of a blocker with consistent ease whether he is rushing the passer or defending the run. He is equally productive against both. Where Thibodeaux struggles, however, is when he is matched up against pro-caliber size and power when it comes to secondary rush moves. He needs to show more technique refinement and continue to try and strengthen his base, which plays small and gets too narrow at times. His lack of body control will cause issues as well when it comes to reaction-based action. His tool set is top shelf, but he is far from a finished product and will need to fix a lot prior to being labeled a dependable player.

*I am going to try and not make this too long because the Thibodeaux fans get really offended, really easily. First off: I have 800+ grades on my master sheet along with another 400+ “training camp body” labels. Thibdodeaux is in the top 15. So yes, I do like him, and I do project him to be a very good football player in the NFL. A starter with high, sky-high, upside. There is some Harold Landry in his game. That said, I do not see him being the All-Pro or even perennial Pro Bowl type. When it comes to the “effort” shortcomings, this is NOT a guy that walks up and down the field. He does NOT play with the “I don’t care” label. There is more to effort than sheer hustle, however.

My issues with Thibodeaux revolve around what he did against his best competition. If he lost initially, if he got locked onto, I did not see the secondary moves. I didn’t see the secondary wiggle to try and re-gain a position. The contrast between him and the other top 5 edge guys in the class in that department is obvious. He also had too many dumb penalties. When it isn’t easy for him (he matched up against some awful OTs), he got frustrated and immature. He didn’t pin his ears back and elevate his game. To me, that is effort and mental toughness that just isn’t there. It is a crucial, borderline vital trait to playing the edge.

That is where I left it with him. And then hearing how he talks about himself and a contract. I have a saying “…he works at his craft like he is above it all already…” simply rubs me the wrong way. Enough that I would be too nervous to use #5 or #7 on him with the other guys available. That is all.

Joe Schoen’s Take:We’re ecstatic with the two players we got, obviously getting Kayvon Thibodeaux, a really good pass rusher at five, we are excited about that. Thought of getting him there with Azeez (Ojulari) on the other side and the pass rush is important to us, so two young pass rushers on the team now that we are definitely excited about…He’s a very outgoing individual. He’s got a lot of personality. I’m sure you guys will enjoy your time with him meeting him, but a really good kid, likable kid, works hard…Also with Kayvon, he had a serious ankle injury. And a lot of people, with his draft status and draft stock, could have hung it up and said, we’ll call it a season and I’m not going to play anymore. He fought back. And we talked to several people at the school, and he worked his way back and practiced, and a lot of people — he didn’t necessarily need to do that.” (Full Transcript)

Brian Daboll’s Take:Kayvon is quick off the ball. I think he has a wide variety of pass rush moves, but he can also set an edge for us on our defense, and it’s no secret we play multiple schemes with Wink as our defensive coordinator, and we envision Kayvon being able to do a lot of different things for us. He’s going to have to come in here and earn it, but a productive player the time he’s been at Oregon.” (Full Transcript)

Media Q&A with Kayvon Thibodeaux: (Full Transcript)


1st Round – OT Evan Neal, 6’7”, 337lbs, 5.04, University of Alabama

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Junior entry from Okeechobee, Florida. Three-year starter at three different positions (LG, RT, LT). A 2019 Freshman All American that ended his career as a 2nd Team All American and 1st Team All SEC honoree. Neal, a team captain, is lauded by both the on-field coaches and support staff inside the walls. His attention to detail, intelligence, and work ethic have helped him deliver on his 5-star recruit profile out of high school. The fact he started right away as a true freshman for Nick Saban along the offensive line, a rarity, and progressed each season of his 3-year career while playing 3 different positions speaks volumes about his mental game. The obvious with Neal is the elite physical tools. His size is second to none, his power comes easy and natural, and the explosion within his blocking can put him in a rare tier of offensive line prospects. He did struggle with consistency throughout his career, as he showed low body awareness in several situations. He often oversets, leading to balance and control issues. Defenders were able to shake him off too many times. Neal’s upside is as high as it gets but the constant new-position he dealt with every year may have thrown off some important development. That versatility may help his outlook to some teams but once he is drafted, his true value will come when he settles into a position. Neal can eventually be one of the best linemen in the game.

*Prior to the start of the year, I had nearly no-doubt Neal was going to finish in the 90+ tier. But this is where you have to toss pre-conceived notions out the window when watching the tape. The truth is, Neal did not take a step forward. There are shortcomings within his skill set that arose weekly. The positive? These are all very correctable issues, and we see them corrected all the time. He has some of the same issues that Tristan Wirfs did coming out of Iowa in 2020. Wirfs was my OT1 in that class with a similar grade and is now an All-Pro. Neal can get on that path just as quickly, but I think he needs to settle into a position and remain there for a couple years. That hasn’t been the case since he was a high schooler. NYG would be an ideal destination for him. Insert him into the RT spot week 1 and they could have a top tier OT pair within a year or two. I would be excited to get this kid in blue.

Joe Schoen’s Take:Evan Neal, again, I’m sure it will come up, but starting off we’ll be putting him at right tackle. Obviously, we really like his versatility, 40 career starts in three different spots in the SEC, only missed one game in his career with COVID. So both 21 years old, young players, both still have upside to develop.” (Full Transcript)

Brian Daboll’s Take:Evan has played multiple positions. He’s long — it takes a guy the long route to go to the quarterback. He’s got long arms. He’s a big, massive man, played multiple positions, had a lot of people down at Alabama that I trust and had a lot confidence in him and had a lot of good things to say about him and along with (offensive line coaches) Bobby Johnson and Tony Sparano, the guys that have looked at him, we thought very highly of him.” (Full Transcript)

Media Q&A with Evan Neal: (Full Transcript)


2nd Round – Wan’Dale Robinson, 5’8”, 178lbs, 4.38, University of Kentucky

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Junior entry from Frankfort, KY. Spent two seasons at Nebraska before transferring to Kentucky for the 2021 season. Honorable Mention All-Big 10 in both 2019 and 2020, second team All-SEC in 2021. Robinson has been a hybrid receiver/running back from the start of his career and will give an NFL offense the opportunity to create a big-time playmaker out of him. He has the well-balanced athletic ability and overall skill set to do multiple things, align from different spots, and create on his own. He is much more than an undersized, underneath threat that can occasionally take a jet sweep. He has had a lot of success in the deep passing game and plays with the kind of competitive fire that an at least somewhat make up for the lack of ideal size. Because he has lined up all over the offense, Robinson is a little rough around the edges when it comes release and route nuances, but all can be corrected in time. He is a big play threat every time he gets on the field no matter where he lines up.

*Robinson is a guy I have a feeling about. The quickness and burst he has the instant he touches the ball is exactly what gets overlooked by many when looking at measurables. He has the knack to find creases immediately. He is also one tough, strong dude that understands he can use the diminutive frame to his advantage, as a weapon. He is a gadget player, not someone that is always on the field. An argument can be made that only an established offense should be using a pick on a guy like this. I would not agree. Robinson is someone that can make things happen on his own. He can create big plays from nothing and that is what a growing offense needs. Robinson will make grown men hold their breath every time he gets the ball. The way Daboll used Isaiah McKenzie in Buffalo is a nice template: 77 catches – 27 rushes – 21 punt returns – 29 kick returns since 2019. I see Robinson being a better version of that. Keep an eye here.

Joe Schoen’s Take:Good football player we’ve had our eye on, generator with the ball in his hands, very good run after the catch, very good route runner, can separate. And for what we are going to do offensively, we thought he would be a very good fit for us…He’s a generator when the ball is in his hands. He can run after a catch. He can separate from DBs, he gets open. He played some running back at Nebraska (before he transferred). That’s a versatile piece you can use in your offense. If you look at some of the other guys, how you can use them, and if you look at Daboll’s past or you look at Kafka’s past in terms of the creativeness in their offense and the weapons they can utilize, I think you can kind of see what the vision may look like.(Full Transcript)

Brian Daboll’s Take:Versatile, got quickness, explosiveness, he’s tough even for a smaller guy. Been a very productive player really going back to high school when he played there in Kentucky. So a guy we’re anxious to get our hands on and work with and implement into our scheme…I think he can play inside, and I think he’s strong enough and fast enough, even though he’s a smaller, shorter guy, that he can contribute outside, too…What we’re trying to do is put as many generating pieces out there to create pace and stretch the field, whether it be vertical or horizontally, and this is another good guy that has ability to run after catch, which is an important aspect of it.(Full Transcript)

Media Q&A with Wan’Dale Robinson: (Full Transcript)


3rd Round – OG/OT Joshua Ezeudu, 6’4”, 308lbs, 5.19, University of North Carolina

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Fourth-year junior entry from Lawrenceville, GA. Three-year starter that earned Honorable Mention All-ACC honors in 2021, second-team in 2020. Because of injuries and inconsistent play throughout the entire line, Ezeudu was moved around often. Throughout his career he played every spot along the line with some of his best tape coming from his snaps at left tackle. His top position will be inside at guard but that kind of versatility can boost his stock a bit. Ezeudu excels with his hands and displays quick feet, always a good place to start. The natural top-end athletic ability is limited, however, and it shows up when he needs to adjust laterally. His knee bend is inconsistent and there is a recoil in his reaction-times because of it. If he can improve some lower body techniques, there are some quality traits to work with.

*When looking to add offensive linemen early day three, I love the idea of getting a guy that has credible experience and ability at multiple spots. There is no question Ezeudu projects best to guard, but I do think he could be a swing tackle if needed. So many teams have depth issues there. You see a guy or two go down with an injury and all of the sudden the entire offense needs to change. Ezeudu looks pro ready on most levels. His movement just seems a step too slow right now but I think he is better than over half the backups in the league right now. Throw in the versatility and I think it is a brilliant pick if he can be had in the right slot.

Joe Schoen’s Take:So Josh Ezeudu out of North Carolina, a player we liked obviously. History of playing multiple spots on the offensive line. He’s got guard-tackle flex. Again, we’ll bring him in, I’m not sure, not going to say exactly where we’re going to start him, but we like the versatility that he can play guard, he can play tackle, compete to start probably inside, with outside flex…Impressive (at switching spots). He’s impressive. It’s rare. I was fortunate enough to see him play live twice this year, Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh. He’s a big man, and it’s impressive. Again, he could play multiple spots not only on a week-to-week basis but within a game, within drives. So it’s very impressive, and he’s an outstanding kid. You guys will like getting to know him.” (Full Transcript)

Media Q&A with Joshua Ezeudu: (Full Transcript)


3rd Round – Cor’Dale Flott, 6’0”, 175lbs, 4.40, LSU

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Junior entry from Saraland, AL. Two-year starter that saw time outside and at nickel. Cousin to fellow draft prospect Velus Jones, a wide receiver from Tennessee. Flott is a smooth mover that gets in and out of his breaks with no wasted motion. He plays faster than he times because of it. He lacks a physical presence on contact and there is not much of a frame to build on. Because of that, Flott will need to be near-flawless when it comes to route anticipation and reaction. He will likely project as a backup nickel that can see the field in deeper sub packages. He has some safety type traits against the pass only as well. He may be a guy without a true position and I’m not sure I see a ton of special teams upside.

Joe Schoen’s Take:Cor’Dale Flott is a guy we liked out of LSU, athletic kid, versatility, play inside, outside. Both kids we spent a lot of time with throughout the spring, and we’re happy to have them…I think position one, ideally, he’s inside, but he can play inside and outside. He has height, and he does have length. And again, the kid is 20 years old. I believe he turns 21 in August or September…So still young, still developing. Three-year guy at LSU that played in a really talented backfield and a good conference. We’re excited. He’s got really good movement skills to play inside, but with the size and length, can play outside as well.” (Full Transcript)

Media Q&A with Cor’Dale Flott: (Full Transcript)


4th Round – TE Daniel Bellinger, 6’5”, 253lbs, 4.63, San Diego State University

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Senior entry from Las Vegas, NV. Three-year starter than earned Honorable Mention All-Mountain West honors in 2020. Bellinger has the tool set and ability to play the traditional Y tight end spot. While his skill set is more receiver-friendly, he does show enough upside and ability to create impact as a blocker. He plays a twitchy, sudden game and understands his role well. Bellinger may not have the man-strength quite yet to have a big role, but he should fill the back end of a depth chart early on. He is a plus-athlete with some sneaky upside to him when it comes to getting open and making things happen after the catch.

*It would not surprise me one bit to see Bellinger sneak into the end of round two. The triangle numbers are really solid, and he didn’t drop a single ball over his last two seasons. I just wish he got more looks in the passing game at San Diego State. He will likely be a year two guy at earliest because he had a hard time with defensive linemen in the Mountain West. I think NFL guys will eat him early on.

Joe Schoen’s Take:Daniel Bellinger was our first pick today, tight end out of San Diego State. A guy that we liked, size, speed, athleticism, should be able to help us on special teams, was in Senior Bowl, was at his pro day, too, and a guy we’ve liked throughout the process.” (Full Transcript)

Media Q&A with Daniel Bellinger: (Full Transcript)


4th Round – S Dane Belton, 6’1”, 205lbs, 4.43, University of Iowa

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Junior entry from Tampa, FL. Two-year starter that earned All Big-10 honors in both 2020 and 2021, first team in 2021. Belton played a hybrid safety/linebacker role that saw him involved in the box more often than not. He has a sturdy, strong frame with plus-power and straight line speed. He factors well in pursuit sideline to sideline and had a high success rate as a tackler. Belton started to turn a corner as a junior in coverage. He showed quality ball skills and plus-body control out of his breaks. He shows minimal wasted motion once he made up his mind. He can get into trouble when trying to forecast routes and throws, as he seems a step behind mentally and shows tightness in his hips laterally. He projects as a nickel or dime safety that can creep up toward the line and he will be a weapon on special teams.

Joe Schoen’s Take:Dane Belton, another guy we liked, the versatility in the player, he’s got ball skills, he can play from depth and down in the box, can pay nickel.” (Full Transcript)

Media Q&A with Dane Belton: (Full Transcript)


5th Round – LB Micah McFadden, 6’1”, 240lbs, 4.75, Indiana University

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Senior entry from Tampa, FL. Three-year starter that earned honorable mention All-Big 10 honors in 2019, first team in 2020, second team in 2021. Also a third team All-American in 2019. McFadden is a well-put together, quick and sudden linebacker that flies all over the field and brings a high success rate as a tackler. He can defend the inside run with stout power and will get to the sideline against the outside running game. He excels in pursuit. McFadden does have the occasional lapse in concentration and will over-pursue his intentions, leaving him vulnerable and top heavy. He does not factor well in man coverage, as his hip tightness and eager mentality can be easy to toy with. He projects as a solid special teamer that could develop into a rotational inside linebacker in a 3-4 front.

Joe Schoen’s Take:Micah McFadden from Indiana, another guy with very good size, speed. He was a captain, he’s athletic. I think he’ll help us out. He can play inside, outside, and he’s a good blitzer as well. Again, another versatile piece.” (Full Transcript)

Media Q&A with Micah McFadden: (Full Transcript)


5th Round – DL D.J. Davidson, 6’3”, 327lbs, 5.20, Arizona State University

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Fifth year senior from Mesa, AZ. Took an additional year off between high school and college. Three-year starter that earned second team All-Pac 12 honors in 2021. Davidson will best project to a zero-tech in a 3-4 front. There, his natural power and ability to two-gap will be used most effectively. In an even front, he will not offer much as a pass rusher, but he could fit into a situational role as well. Davidson can play with quick feet in addition to a hard-to-move presence against the run. He has a natural sense to feel blocks and flow to the ball. He needs to work on lower body bend and techniques so his pad level can be better. The lack of leverage wins will eat him up at the next level. Davidson needs to fully buy into fixing his body and skill set for a couple years before he can be trusted.

Joe Schoen’s Take:D.J. Davidson, see him more as a nose, out of Arizona State, be a good depth player that has some upside. We are excited about working with him inside, again, trying to add some depth up front there.” (Full Transcript)

Media Q&A with D.J. Davidson: (Full Transcript)


5th Round – OG Marcus McKethan, 6’6”. 340lbs, 5.31, University of North Carolina

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Fifth year senior from Barnwell, SC. Three-year starter that has the body of a tackle but played right guard all three seasons. Two-time Honorable Mention All-ACC. McKethan looks like a tackle prototype with elite girth and length from head to toe. His power and lockout game are enough to stop professional defenders in their tracks right away. The issue with him revolves around reaction time and bend. He does not keep the feet active post-engagement and he will always struggle to win the leverage battle. McKethan is a project that a team will want to develop in undrafted free agency most likely, as the holes in his game are both hard to fix and far away from being pro-ready.

Joe Schoen’s Take:Marcus McKethan, another guy obviously we spent some time with, the North Carolina kids. Huge human being. Very good size, length. Again, some versatility, he’s played tackle and he’s played guard. Again, going to add depth and competition to the roster. We’ll probably start him at guard, but he does have tackle flex.” (Full Transcript)

Media Q&A with Marcus McKethan: To be provided. (Full Transcript)


6th Round – LB Darrian Beavers, 6’4”, 237lbs, 4.85, University of Cincinnati

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Fifth year senior from Cincinnati, OH. Spent 2017 and 2018 at Connecticut before transferring to Cincinnati. Four-year starter between the two programs. Second team All-AAC in 2020, first team in 2021. Was also a Butkus Award Finalist in his final season. Beavers brings a unique tool set to the table and it was used all over the front seven in college. He primarily lined up off the ball, but he saw over 250 snaps along the edge on-line over his three years at Cincinnati. The heaviness in his hands and overall ability to play both stout and fast should get the attention of versatile defensive schemes. He does not play very sudden and there are too many inconsistencies with his tackling and aggression in space. There won’t be a fit for him in every scheme but at the same time, he can bring versatility to a multiple-front defense that others cannot.

*I have in my notes from the 2021 season that Beavers “…looks like an old school Steeler or Patriot…” Some make the mistake that Baltimore (Martindale/Ryan) went after the same personnel. I don’t agree. Martindale wants a bit more speed and twitch in his linebackers and even though Beavers tested OK with times, he doesn’t always play fast. I will say this though: He is an alpha. Beavers is a mean, powerful dude and he did line up all over the front seven. That said, he was not a very successful outside rusher.

Joe Schoen’s Take:Darrian Beavers is another guy that we really liked, versatile piece, he played inside and he played outside. I was at his pro day. He did some stuff as an outside rusher and that looks like something that may be part of the package. Like his versatility to be inside, outside, and play on special teams.” (Full Transcript)

Media Q&A with Darrian Beavers: (Full Transcript)


Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports

RB Jashaun Corbin, 6’0’’, 221lbs, 4.58, Florida State University (Video)
Corbin is is a north/south runner who does his best work between the tackles. He is a patient runner with good vision. He has some shiftiness to his game and can run through tackles. Corbin also can catch the ball out of the backfield, but he needs work in pass protection.

FB Jeremiah Hall, 6’2’’, 248lbs, 4.96, University of Oklahoma (Video)
Built more like an H-Back or fullback than tight end, Hall was used in the slot, inline, and out of the backfield in college. Hall is a good receiver who runs tough after the catch. Good blocker.

TE Andre Miller, 6’3’’, 220lbs, 4.54, University of Maine (Video)
Miller was a big receiver in college with good overall athletic ability. The Giants intend to convert him to tight end.

TE Austin Allen, 6’9’’, 255lbs, 4.83, University of Nebraska (Video)
Allen is a tall, narrow tight end with a big catch radius and sure hands. He gives an effort in the blocking department, but is more of a position blocker given his frame.

OG Josh Rivas, 6’6’’, 317lbs, 5.32, Kansas State University (Video)
Rivas is a big lineman with decent athleticism for his size. He needs a lot of technique work.

DE Ryder Anderson, 6’6’’, 4.92, 266lbs, Indiana University
Anderson has good size, strength, and length. He can control the point-of-attack against the run, but lacks ideal quickness to be factor rushing the passer.

DL Christopher Hinton, 6’4’’, 310lbs, 5.28, University of Michigan (Video)
Hinton lacks ideal size and athleticism, but he is a tough, strong run defender. He plays with leverage and holds his ground. Hinton does not offer much as a pass rusher. Reliable and he plays hard.

DL Jabari Ellis, 6’3’’, 278lbs, 4.77, University of South Carolina (Video)
Ellis was a team captain who played six seasons in college.

DL Antonio Valentino, 6’3’’, 312lbs, 5.27, University of Florida (Video)
Valentino is a big, strong, hard-working lineman who lacks ideal athletic ability and quickness.

OLB Tomon Fox, 6’3’’, 260lbs, 4.79, University of North Carolina (Video)
Fox lacks ideal athleticism, but he is instinctive, productive, and plays hard.

CB Darren Evans, 6’3’’, 174lbs, 4.53, LSU (Video)
Evans is a tall, thin corner who has decent overall athleticism. He is aggressive against the run. Evans needs to make more plays on the ball.

CB Zyon Gilbert, 6’1’’, 182lbs, 4.42, Florida Atlantic University (Video)
Gilbert played both safety and cornerback in college. He combines good size and overall athleticism and speed. Gilbert is aggressive against the run, but he needs work in coverage in terms of his anticipation skills and technique.

S Yusuf Corker, 6’0’’, 197lbs, 4.53, Kentucky, University of Kentucky (Video)
A physical, aggressive, and instinctive safety, Corker makes plays on the ball both as a run and pass defender. A bit stiff, he lacks ideal speed and change-of-direction skills. He needs to become a more consistent tackler.

S Trenton Thompson, 6’2’’, 200lbs, 4.58, San Diego State University (Video)
Despite playing six years in college, Thompson only became a full-time starter in his final season. He has good size, but lacks ideal speed. Instinctive, he does play faster than he times. Big hitter. Thompson is a good special teams player.

S Jordan Mosley, 6’1’’, 210lbs, 4.69, University of Maryland (Video)
Mosley has good size, but lacks ideal overall athleticism, speed, and agility. An instinctive player, Mosley is also a good tackler.

Apr 262022
 
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Malik Willis, Liberty Flame (December 18, 2021)

Malik Willis – © USA TODAY Sports

QUARTERBACKS

90+: All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

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

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

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

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

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

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

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

1: Malik Willis – Liberty – 6’0/219

Grade: 80

Summary: Fifth year senior from Atlanta, GA. Two-year starter at Liberty after two seasons as a backup at Auburn and a full season where had to sit out because of transfer rules. Willis, a late bloomer that was not highly recruited out of high school, is a pure boom or bust prospect. The talent is obvious and known. He can make plays with the ball in his hands like a running back and his frame fully supports that kind of role. His arm strength and torque created from his hips are both at the elite of the elite level. That is about where it ends, however. Willis appears light years behind when it comes to forecasting and reading a defense. The indecisiveness and lack of feel for where defenders are, both in the pass rush and in coverage, is alarming. Willis also has mechanical issues with his drop backs that create inconsistent ball placement. His ability to run will hide some of the issues but he will certainly need at least a season on the sidelines before he can be trusted to lead an offense.

*In a quarterback class that lacks clarity, Willis is the one standout that could flip this group (and entire draft class) upside down. While there is a lot of work to be done, Willis is the potential superstar. While I doubt we see him come off the board at #2 to Detroit, the value of the position in relation to team-success in this league can certainly lead to it happening. Someone is going to take a swing for the fence with this kid. Keep in mind, there isn’t a scout or coach or GM that doesn’t believe in Willis’ intangibles. He is a rock-solid kid that is going to be great for a locker room and will work hard at his craft. His ideal scenario is to get involved in an offense that will be tailored for him specifically, similar to what Baltimore did with Lamar Jackson and sit for an entire year. Is it worth considering NYG as a possible destination? I don’t think so. This ownership (they’re still very involved) will request Jones gets a shot with this new system (his third in four years).

2: Kenny Pickett – Pittsburgh – 6’3/217

Grade: 80

Summary: Fifth year senior from Oakhurst, NJ. Four-year starter who broke out in his final season, earning numerous accolades including first team All-American, ACC Player of the Year, and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm. Pickett’s late decision to skip the 2021 NFL Draft paid off and could end up being the first quarterback taken in 2022. His 42 touchdowns broke a conference record previously held by Deshaun Watson and Picket ended up re-writing the Pitt program’s passing records. When it comes to pro projection, he has several traits that carry over well. He is a plus-athlete with outstanding accuracy on the move to all levels of the route tree. He showed the ability to progress through multiple reads in a pro-style offense. And he plays with tremendous grit. Pickett does not have plus-arm strength, however, and turnovers were a problem. He threw over 30 interceptions and fumbled 38 times in 49 career starts. Pickett also struggled to see the entire field on traditional drop backs. He will get a starting nod at some point but will most likely end as a career backup.

*Gun to my head, I think Pickett goes before Willis and will be the top overall quarterback selected. He feels safer than some of these other guys because he appears to have at least a little bit of everything. If you were ranking all the physical and mental traits, Pickett may not rank number 1 in any of them but I bet he is second or third all of them (minus the hand size). Yes, the hand size matters when he has the high fumble number in his stat line. Is that what prevents him from a higher number? No. I simply don’t see Pickett as the one to step up and carry an offense. He can be a solid starter on a team that is strong around him, but I don’t see the guy the makes everyone else better. And then yes, I hate turnovers.

3: Desmond Ridder – Cincinnati – 6’3/211

Grade: 80

Summary: Fifth year senior entry from Louisville, KY. Four-year starter that earned first team All-AAC honors in both 2020 and 2021 while also taking home the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year Award. Ridder took over the job week one as a freshman and never looked back, re-writing several school and conference records respectively. He won over 40 games and shined in big moments. Ridder carries all of the intangibles and leadership qualities a coach could want at the position. He has a live arm with a quick, snappy, but smooth and repeatable release. The icing on the cake is a top shelf set of movement-based tools. He has elite speed in the open field and firecracker footwork as a passer. The overall upside and ceiling are a bit of an unknown considering he did not play against a lot of stiff competition in college and the accuracy is inconsistent. He also needs to process coverages quicker. Ridder will, and should, get an opportunity as a starter down the road. At the very least, he is someone that a team can feel good about as a backup.

*Ridder was a guy I did not give a ton of attention to until after the season. Nothing ever really jumped out at me when watching him play or as I was scouting players that he was on film with. A deeper dive exposed some solid truths for him, though. His footwork and overall mechanics are the best of the group. He is a dangerous athlete in the open field. And he shows good mental toughness and leadership qualities. This will simply come down to how talented of a passer he actually is. Everything else is there, but the gray area is a big one. There are too many inaccurate throws on tape, and he does not seem to see the whole field. There won’t be success for him in the league unless those two improve mightily. I can easily see him feeling “safe” for NFL decision makers though.

4: Matt Corral – Mississippi – 6’1/212

Grade: 78

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Ventura, CA. Three-year starter that earned 2nd Team All SEC honors in 2021. In a simple, quarterback-friendly offense Corral shows the occasional glimpse of greatness. His lightning-quick release along with a rocket-arm will create the opportunity for a play designer and caller to widen the possibilities with what can be done of offense. Corral also brings a high level of speed and easy vision when carrying the ball on both designed runs and scrambles. He can make every throw at a high level. Mentally, he is a risk taker that plays with a short memory when adversity arrives. Corral overlooks several key components to basic fundamentals too often, however. He air mails far too many deep balls, showing a lack of natural touch and accuracy. He has poor ball handling mechanics, with just under 25 career fumbles in 27 starts. His body type may not be able to handle a slew of NFL contact a scrambling quarterback normally absorbs over the course of the season. He needs to become a more precise passer and will need time to transition to the complexity of the league.

*Corral has had moments, and enough of them, to be rightfully considered the top quarterback prospect in this class. Even with that in mind, he is not a first rounder. There are too many shortcomings that quality starters in this league avoid on a routine basis. My biggest red flags are the ball security and body type. One of his key strengths revolve around his ability to run and create with his legs. His body type presents extra risk AND there are significant fumble issues. In fact, he was fortunate to not have fumbled more with how far away he gets that thing from his body with one hand on the ball. Corral’s release and live arm, however, are very attractive. He has some unique, borderline elite-level throwing traits that are worth trying to develop, but his upside is similar to what Jones brings to NYG, if not a little less.

5: Sam Howell – North Carolina – 6’1/218

Grade: 76

Summary: Junior entry from Indian Trail, NC. Three-year starter that earned All-ACC honors in both 2020 and 2021 in addition to a second team All-American honor in 2020. Howell was a big deal the moment he stepped foot on campus at Chapel Hill and ended up re-writing record books for the program and finishing as one of the most productive passers in ACC history. The short, but stout and powerful signal caller plays an innovative game with both his arms and legs. While he does not have blazing speed or quickness, the savvy ball carrier creates big plays when things break down in the pocket. He will need to clean up his throwing motion and overall mechanics, however, as he will not shake tacklers in the NFL the way he did in college. Howell is a quiet, but effective leader with a knack for the accurate deep ball. He is coming from an incredibly simple offense but there is enough on tape to warrant the idea of him becoming a top tier backup and potential starter in time.

*Everyone had huge expectations for Howell heading into 2021. If you asked me last summer who would be the guy that ends up at the top of the draft, it would have been Howell or Kedon Slovis (transferred to Pitt for 2022). I guess this is why we play the games. Anyway, Howell took a couple steps backward in 2021. I took a deep dive into his game all year and he was a mess. He had very little integrity and feel in the pocket. He jumped into scramble mode way too often. He rushed through mechanics, and it caused several errant throws weekly. He also played in a very simple offense even for college standards. Howell does not look like a pro to me even though he does throw the prettiest deep ball of the group. Everything else is backup caliber.

6: Bailey Zappe – Western Kentucky – 6’0/214

Grade: 76

Summary: Fifth year senior from Victoria, TX. Four-year starter for Houston Baptist (FCS) before grad-transferring to Western Kentucky where he started for one season. 2021 first team All-Conference USA and Conference USA most valuable player. In Western Kentucky’s high-powered attack, Zappe ended the season as the nation’s leader in yards and touchdowns. His 62 touchdowns are a new all-time NCAA record. He threw the ball 686 times. The third-place finisher (Bryce Young from Alabama) threw the ball 547 times. While the production is a tad inflated, Zappe is a credible pro prospect that broke out at the right time. He was a relative-unknown at Houston Baptist (8 wins in 4 years), but there are traits here that deserve a look at the next level. Zappe has incredible accuracy and ball placement along the short and intermediate portions of the route tree. He throws with excellent tempo and timing to pair with a quick release. His lack of size and sheer arm-power will make life difficult early on and he will need time to learn the nuances of playing under center within a complex pro offense. He will be in the league for a long time as a backup but should get a starting nod at some point.

*Zappe can make a push for being the fifth quarterback taken. I don’t think it will happen, but I think it should. Out of all the passers in this class, Zappe’s ball placement is the most consistent. Does he respond well to a dirty pocket? That is an unknown. I see a ton of Chase Daniel here. A guy that will be a welcomed back up in several cities for years and at some point, someone will want to give him a shot. Zappe is a competitive dude that did elevate his play in big moments. He plays with that underdog mentality that I love to see. Could NYG look here day three? I wouldn’t be against it at all.

7: Jack Coan – Notre Dame – 6’3/218

Grade: 75

Summary: Fifth year senior from Sayville, NY. Two-year starter at Wisconsin prior to transferring to Notre Dame in 2021, we he started 13 games. Honorable Mention All-Big 10 in 2019. Coan is a player that gets the most out of himself. He is smooth and calm in the pocket and fully understands how to play with tempo. He progresses through reads in a hurry and keeps his lower body in sync with his throwing motion consistently. The lack of arm strength has a tendency to show up on passes to the sideline and he does not strike fear in to defenses when it comes to the deep ball. Coan, however, excels at getting the ball out in a hurry and shows plus-accuracy with proper touch when needed. His upside is limited but he can be trusted to protect the ball, play within a system, and take what is given. He will be a backup for the first few years of his career but should see a starting gig at some point if/when injuries arise.

*I like Coan a lot, but I do understand the limited ceiling he plays with. His throws to the outside die before they reach the target. He does not have an easy release for the deep ball. His athleticism is average. But remember this: falling in love with tools when it comes to the quarterback while neglecting the mental capacity that is required, the overall mechanics, and toughness under pressure has forced many men to lose their jobs. Coan is on the opposite end of that spectrum. He does a lot of the little things right and plays a lot of mistake-free football. I feel good about having a guy like this as a backup and seeing if there is some physical development that can take place once in the league. I would applaud a day three pick used on Coan.

8: Carson Strong – Nevada – 6’3/226

Grade: 71

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Vacaville, CA. Three-year starter that earned first team All-MWC honors in both 2020 and 2021 while also winning the conference’s Player of the Year Award both seasons. Strong re-wrote the record book at Nevada while also protecting the ball at a record-rate. He went 299 attempts without throwing an interception. The team captain is an emotional player that will stare down the barrel of a gun while in the pocket. He has plus-arm strength and shows the ability to layer the ball to all levels of the route tree. Strong will be entering the league with a beat up knee and a severe lack of mobility. He will struggle to escape pressure and there are too many throws on tape where the lower half is not engaged. He is a long-term project that will have his upside very much dictated by the health of his knee.

*There has been some chatter about Strong going higher than where I have him, that he could be the number 6 guy in the class. I can see why. He has the look of a pure, old school pocket passer that can hit every throw. He throws a nice deep ball. But when I looked further into his game, there were too many things I did not like. He seemed a bit too emotional for the position, very up and down. His knee (think of it as a knee that belongs to a 50-year-old) impedes his ability to really activate his lower half when throwing the ball hard/far. He can’t move. And there were a ton of throws where it was just a simple, thoughtless “chuck it” and hope. That won’t fly in the league. There are too many reasons why I would not touch him anywhere near day 2.

9: Kaleb Eleby – Western Michigan – 6’1/208

Grade: 70

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Maryland Heights, MO. Three-year starter that earned second team All-MAC honors in 2021, third team in 2020. Eleby is a risk taker that shows no fear when it comes to trying to fit the ball into tight windows. He has a quick release and powerful snap to his throws. He was deeply involved in a RPO attack that did not require him to make many reads. Because of that, he will need extra time to adjust to a pro passing attack. He rarely saw snaps under center and there are inconsistencies with his release point that will cause the occasional errant throws. Eleby also needs to improve his ball handling. He does not have the athletic ability to constantly evade defenders, thus he needs to protect the ball better. Eleby will likely need a redshirt year in the NFL before battling for a backup job.

*I was surprised Eleby came out. 23 starts from a MAC program while having another year of eligibility probably was not the smartest move. He had D’Wayne Eskridge and Skyy Moore, two pro receivers, to throw to in a conference full of defensive backs that will not play in the league. With Moore in this draft class, that could be why he wanted to leave but they have another kid, Jaylen Hall, that will be a pro prospect at this time next year. He could have used another year of seasoning because I do see some pro traits that could have gotten him drafted in the round 3-4 area in 2023. Now? He might get his name called late day three.

10: EJ Perry – Brown – 6’1/211

Grade: 70

Summary: Fifth year senior from Andover, MA. Two-year starter at Brown after transferring from Boston College where he was a backup for two seasons. Two-time first team All-Ivy and 2021 Ivy Offensive Player of the Year and All American. Perry is a gimmicky quarterback that has a way of creating on his own. He shows a great feel in the pocket for where the pressure is coming from and will make quick decisions to avoid it. His ball placement and consistency in that department on the move can extend plays and keep the defense on their heels. The overall arm talent and bad habits show up too often to project him as a starting quarterback at the next level. Perry has a hard time seeing through the traffic on plays that go beyond one simple read. He turned the ball over a lot and does not have the natural, powerful trigger to make all the throws. He will live on the back end of a depth chart.

*Perry looked solid at the East-West Shrine Game. That was my first exposure to him, and I did a deep dive on five of his game tapes afterward (less than ideal for QB). There were a lot of nuances to his game that I did not like. He has an overly-crouched position after he gets the ball and drops back. He is already on the short side, and I felt that, along with slow decisions as a passer, really hurt his odds at seeing and anticipating. He got away with a lot in college that he has not shot at getting away with in the NFL. Solid competitive juice and a real athlete (played basketball for Brown and received a scholarship offer to play baseball for Boston College) can get him a look, but there is a lot of work to be done and I don’t see enough upside in the arm.

BEST OF THE REST

11: Dustin Crum – Kent State – 6’1/210: 69
12: Cole Kelley – Southeastern Louisiana – 6’7/249: 69
13: Chase Garbers – California – 6’2/215: 69
14: Skylar Thompson – Kansas State – 6’2/217: 68
15: Brandon Peters – Illinois – 6’4/228: 68
16: Brock Purdy – Iowa State – 6’1/212: 67
17: Aqeel Glass – Alabama A& M – 6’4/231: 67
18: Zerrick Cooper – Jacksonville State – 6’2/230: 66
19: Anthony Brown – Oregon – 6’1/217: 65
20: Jawon Pass – Prairie View A& M – 6’4/240: 65

NYG APPROACH

Simply put here, I do not see NYG being in the market for a new franchise quarterback. Reason one: The franchise still has an unknown in Daniel Jones and even though he is sliding towards a no-go, he is better or on the same level as all these top guys. Reason number two: Next year’s crop of QBs will likely be much better than what this draft class is producing. And reason number three, there are too many good players rounds 1-3 that NYG would be passing on in order to take one of these guys. I do not see the point in going for anyone unless we are talking about day three and hoping to find the next backup and/or long term project. The number one reason why I want NYG to consider trading back (if the opportunity is there) would be to net extra picks in 2023 (ideally a first) so they can march into next draft with some money in the bank should they need to make an aggressive move up for a quarterback at the top. These guys simply are not worth it although I am intrigued to see what becomes of Willis.

Apr 242022
 
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Kenny Walker, Michigan State Spartans (March 4, 2022)

Kenny Walker – © USA TODAY Sports

RUNNING BACKS

90+: All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

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

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

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

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

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

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

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

1: Kenny Walker III – Michigan State – 5’9/211

Grade: 80

Summary: Junior entry from Arlington, TN. Two-year starter that starred in his one season at Michigan State after transferring from Wake Forest. 2021 Doak Walker Award recipient, unanimous first-team All American and Big 10 Offensive Player of the Year. Walker III is a no-nonsense runner that will excel between the tackles. He has enough lower body strength to complement his quick, high feet that enable him to work through traffic well. He breaks a lot of tackles and can win in space a variety of ways. The quick-trigger acceleration and ability to make fast decisions will make him a dangerous threat as he gets through traffic. He needs some work to be considered an every down player, as he is a poor blocker and does not seem to have a natural receiving skill set. That will determine just how useful he can be overall but at the very least he will be a solid addition to an inside-running game.

*There is one medical issue from his high school days that COULD scare some teams off, just FYI. Walker has two of the biggest traits I look for in a back: yards after contact and vision. If I had to rank all of these backs in those two departments, Walker ranks at the top of both. You may look at the size and assume he is not a power back, but that would be wrong. This kid is as strong as you will find at that size and runs bigger than most backs that weigh 220+. The one thing that prevents him from approaching the 85+ tier, and it is a big one, is the lack of impact he has in the passing game. His receiving is simply an unknown and his blocking is poor. Not a good combo there. I do not see him being on the NYG radar.

2: Breece Hall – Iowa State – 5’11/217

Grade: 80

Summary: Junior entry from Wichita, KS. Three-year starter that won the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and was a first team All American in both 2020 and 2021, respectively. The two-time finalist for the Doak Walker Award re-wrote 11 school records and scored a touchdown in 24 consecutive games, a NCAA record. Hall is a highly decorated back that brings a combination of size, natural power, and burst that will fit best into a zone-based scheme. His patience comes from the confidence he has to reach his top gear in a hurry while running through arm tackles. While he isn’t the fastest or most agile ball carrier, his ability in a phone booth (where most of his game is played) is top notch. He is a smart runner that understands how to read and manipulate the situation in front of him on the fly. He has number one running back ability for teams that a horse to lead the group but can also be an accessory piece to a two-back system that needs a sizeable part. Either way, his ability to produce will be there from day one and has big upside. Imposing figure that carries 220+ pounds with ease.

*If I had to gamble on it, I think Hall goes before Walker. I just prefer Walker, but the two are graded out the same. Hall is going to need a better offensive line to produce. He gets a little too patient in the backfield and the speed of the NFL could make that a glaring negative. I do like his ability to turn on the jets and he can be really heavy on contact. A decade or two ago I bet this guy is a top 15 pick but, like Walker, I’m not sure he will impact the passing game enough to warrant anything higher. Again, a guy I don’t see NYG pursuing.

3: Isaiah Spiller – Texas A& M – 6’0/217

Grade: 79

Summary: Junior entry from Spring, TX. Three-year starter that earned All-SEC honors in both 2021 and 2020, first team in 2020. Spiller is a jack of all trades, master of none type back. He can be a fit in any role out of the backfield with his blend of size and athleticism. He proved over his three-year career in the SEC that his blend of tools and knack for coming up with the big play in big moments will create a skill set that a team can work with. While there is a limit to his upside, Spiller feels safe and secure when projecting his floor. He would be an ideal number two back.

*Texas A& M has an underclassman running back that may end being a “special” caliber kid. We will see. He ate into Spiller’s playing time quite a bit, but that may not be a bad thing. I like the fact he did not get too many touches because he was used a lot in 2019 and 2020. Spiller is the kind of back that makes the most out of whatever is thrown at him. If he has space, he will make guys miss and run away from them. If he is in traffic, he finds the available crease and falls forward. I feel safe with him, but expectations should not be too high.

4: Brian Robinson Jr – Alabama – 6’2/225

Grade: 78

Summary: Fifth year senior from Tuscaloosa, AL. One-year starter that earned first team All-SEC honors in 2021. Robinson at one point was above Najee Harris on the Alabama depth chart. He played behind multiple future pro running backs throughout his career and patiently waited for his time as a fifth year senior. He did not disappoint. Robinson thrived as a feature back and proved he can handle a full load of snaps as an every down player. His greatest impact will be found between the tackles as a bruiser picking up the tough yards. He pushes piles and rips through cheap contact by a defense. He won’t ever go down easily and is the kind of back that can wear down a defense. Robinson’s athletic upside may not be overly explosive, and his running style may lead to injury here and there. He would be an ideal complement to a backfield looking for a power piece, one that shows up as a runner and blocker.

*This is the first name I would strongly consider for NYG, likely in round 3. There is a possibility he makes it to day three, however. May be worth the gamble since there is not an overly pressing need at the position. Robinson is a bruiser that actually runs to his size and frame unlike the other 225-pound back in blue right now. I trust running backs from this program on multiple fronts. They are physical, but not poor athletes. They specialize in running between the tackles, but they can do well enough as blockers and receivers. And, most importantly, they freakin’ play hard. NYG needs more toughness in the backfield and Robinson will, at least, give you that. It looks like this team needs to prepare for life after Barkley and Robinson would be a nice start.

5: James Cook – Georgia – 5’11/199

Grade: 77

Summary: Senior entry from Miami, FL. Two-year starter that has been a steady part of the backfield rotation since 2018. The brother of Vikings running back Dalvin, James brings a similar level of natural feel and elite burst to the table. He looks like he plays the game on ice skates with how fluidly his hips swivel in and out of breaks. The cuts he can make while moving at a high rate of speed are sharp enough to rip through a bone. Cook’s greatest value will be found in space. Simply put, there are not many backs under 200 pounds that can stick around in the league for a long time. Cook can carry the ball, but he needs to be in the open field. His skill set could even pass for a slot receiver with how well he runs routes and the fact he doesn’t have a single drop on his resume over the past two years. Put in the right situation and he can be an excellent accessory piece to an offense as a big play threat.

*If NYG really wants Cook, it may have to be with their early 3rd rounder. I just don’t see him being there past that point. One caveat to that statement, though, is the history of backs that weigh under 200 pounds drafted in the first 3 rounds is incredibly low over the past decade. Cook’s counter point to that is the elite level route running and hands. Also, and yes this means something, his brother (Dalvin) having enormous success in the league will help him draft weekend. They move similarly. If NYG wants to add an element to the passing game via the backfield, this is the top option. He will be an impact guy right away. He will not be his brother, a true every down force you give the ball to 20+ times every week, but that isn’t as important anymore. He would be a fun kid to watch in this offense.

6: Rachaad White – Arizona State – 6’0/214

Grade: 77

Summary: Senior entry from Kansas City, MO. Spent two seasons at Mt. San Antonio College prior to transferring to Arizona State where he started for two years. Earned second team All-Pac 12 honors in 2021. White makes the game look easy and smooth. He never looks out of control or off-balanced. He plays at different gears and understands timing-plus-angles so well that it almost appears as if he is playing slow at times. He then shoots out of a cannon and explodes through a crease. He is an ideal back for a zone blocking scheme but will also add a dangerous element to the passing game. He uses that movement skill set to run good routes and his concentration on the ball is high-caliber. White does not bring a lot of power to the table as a runner or blocker, but his impact on a backfield can be huge if the right system and situation brings him in.

*White is one of my favorite pass-catching backs in the class. The grade is steered in that direction. Although I do think he is good for 5-6 carries per game, I would bring him in to help the passing game more than anything. He is a receiver-caliber route runner and has better ball skills that several of the players at that position as well. He can be a big play back in the regard and another name I think NYG could use behind Barkley. I want a bruiser or a pass catching specialist behind him, and White brings the latter along with some size and credible ability as an inside runner on occasion.

7: Kyren Williams – Notre Dame – 5’9/194

Grade: 77

Summary: Third year sophomore entry from Saint Louis, MO. Two-year starter that earned second-team All ACC honors in 2020 and won the conference’s Rookie of the Year. 2021 first team All-American. In a league where very few teams use a one-back system, Williams can be viewed as the ideal third down back in any offense. His skill set fits any role you want from that kind of player. He can run routes and catch the ball like a receiver, he can be fully trusted as a blocker, and he can create as a rusher in space. The team-first, tougher-than-nails attitude and play style will be highly sought after by coaches if they have much say in the draft room. He is a safe pro, albeit with a limited upside, that will be dependable on multiple levels. A rusher, pass catcher, and returner all wrapped into one that can handle 15+ touches weekly.

*I am just a tad down on Williams. The size is near-bottom tier, and his workout was below the ideal line as well. I did not move him down much, however. It’s hard not to love this kid’s tape and overall approach to the game. He is one of the best blockers in this entire group despite the frame and anchor. He catches the ball, he makes guys miss, he has excellent vision. I think the numbers tell you he will not be an every down guy, which is fine with me. NYG would be a solid destination for him if he can be had day three. He may not grade as high as some of other prospects at other positions but if Daboll sees that use in him, I am fine with it round 3 or 4. He is a good culture guy and I trust him to get whatever he has in him on to the field.

8: Zamir White – Georgia – 6’0/214

Grade: 76

Summary: Senior entry from Laurinburg, NC. Two-year starter that has been a key piece to the Bulldogs’ backfield rotation from the beginning. The team’s leading rusher each of the past two seasons and team captain brings a physical, no-nonsense approach to carrying the football. He consistently runs behind his pads and gains yards after contact. He shows the ability to make aggressive, explosive cuts left and right but will also show no hesitation in putting his head down and pushing the pile. The two glaring negatives here are a lack of experience in the passing game (17 career receptions) and past injuries (tore both ACLs). While the lack of creativity and wiggle can limit his running style, he excels at what he does so much that it will warrant a spot as a power back on a pro depth chart. Well-built below and above the waist with minimal bad weight.

*The medicals are crucial here. It could bump him all the way to end of the draft or it may not be a huge deal to some teams. I am grading him without access to those reports. I love the way this kid runs with the ball. He takes on contact and delivers the blow as hard as anyone. He will change the personality of a running game, but it is hard to ignore the potential issues.

9: Dameon Pierce – Florida – 5’10/218

Grade: 75

Summary: Senior entry from Bainbridge, GA. Technically a one-year starter but has been a steady presence in the rotation for three seasons. Pierce was under used at Florida which, considering the position he plays, can be considered a good thing as he will enter the league with less wear and tear. He had ten carries in a game just eight times in four years. When it comes to his tape, Pierce shows all the tools and skills to be an effective inside runner that can pick up all the difficult, hard-to-find yards. He has functional thickness and strength below the waist along with light, easy footwork. He can run with several different tempos and speeds and there is a sense of hunger to his style. Pierce shows enough to be used on third down as well, but his biggest impact will be found in short yardage and near the goal line. If he can find a role as a complement to a space-friendly, pass catching back he will be an early and often contributor.

*Florida’s offense was not an ideal fit for Pierce. He is a traffic-back that can move the chains, run with success between the tackles, and break tackles. His contact balance is top notch. But in an offense that creates space, likes to throw, and predicates on speed, he was more of an accessory. I see a similar role and usage at the next level. Pierce is dependable but won’t offer much more than you see. Two things that coaches will like and could end up getting him into day two is the quality blocking and special teams defense. He has a linebacker-feel to his game, and it shows up. A strong and powerful dude that would be a complement to Barkley who struggles as a blocker and does not run with enough success in short yardage. Pierce will need a very good line though.

10: Kennedy Brooks – Oklahoma – 5’11/209

Grade: 74

Summary: Fifth year senior from Mansfield, TX. Three-year starter that sat out the 2020 season due to Covid-19. Honorable Mention All-Big 12 in 2019, second team in 2020. Brooks walked a bumpy road over his career. He came to Oklahoma with a recurring shoulder injury that began in high school which led to a redshirt. He was accused of mental and physical abuse by a woman which had to be investigated by the school (he was cleared). And lastly, he sat out 2020 because of the Covid pandemic. When looking strictly at the film, however, Brooks is easy to like. He runs like a pro when looking at several angles. His tempo, vision, and decision making will bring him to a much higher level than his tools suggest. Brooks does not have stand out triangle numbers. He won’t be a blazer in the open field, nor does he play overly big. However, this is a back that fully understands the intricacies of the position. He stays within the scheme and knows when to get to the next gear. The contact balance and mental side will create production as a sold complementary back.

*I am taking a bit of a risk here. But I can’t get away from what my gut says after watching him run. Some guys have natural and ever-present tempo when they get the ball. It is rare. When someone truly has it at the pro level, it is a near-automatic success. Brooks runs with several different gears and just feels the spacing and timing exceptionally well. The asterisk there is the fact he played in the Big 12. The OU scheme creates more space than what he will see in the league and the defenses in that conference are a joke. I just have the good feeling here. There was an incident (he was fully cleared) that centered on physical and mental abuse with an ex-girlfriend. Never know with that stuff but he will be looked into. Athletically, nothing special either.

11: Tyler Badie – Missouri – 5’8/197

Grade: 73

Summary: Senior entry from Memphis, TN. Three-year starter that capped off his career earning first team All-SEC and second team All-American honors after finishing second in the nation in yards from scrimmage. Badie has the natural instincts and vision to gain the obtainable hidden yards both inside and outside. He lacks the standout physical traits when it comes to size and speed, but he has proven to be a productive asset for an offense both as a rusher and receiver. He is a reliable pass catcher and moves with savvy, subtle quickness in small areas to create bigger runs than he should be able to obtain. He can be a solid number two or three back that is situationally dependent

*I like Badie as a consolation prize day three if NYG wants a pass catcher but does not get one of top guys in that department. He plays bigger than his size. He is stout and runs with excellent contact balance. The catch radius isn’t great, and I question the ability to really get out in space and make moves. But when backs like James White make such a strong impact in the right passing scheme, I can see Badie coming in and making similar plays. Never a feature guy, but potentially an important part to an offense.

12: Jerome Ford – Cincinnati – 5’10/210

Grade: 72

Summary: Senior entry from Tampa, FL. One year starter that began his career at Alabama before transferring to Cincinnati prior to the 2020 season. First team All-AAC in 2021. Ford had to wait his turn after a slow start to his career in the crowded Crimson Tide backfield. Even at Cincinnati, he did not get more than ten carries until mid-December in 2020. He then took off as a senior and gave the league a glimpse what he could be. Ford is a big play back with the kind of burst and acceleration that will not be caught from behind once in the open field. His play speed is excellent. He runs like a back that needs more experience, however. There is not much feel or innovation to his game but at the same time, he will come in with substantial tread on the tires.

*Ford is a big play back. The kind of guy that gets a few yards and will create a touchdown run from it. He truly runs away from guys in space. I don’t see the kind of guy that comes in and makes the impact of Jamaal Charles, though. He fumbled too much, and his vision lacks consistency. For an offense starving for big plays, however, Ford is a nice guy to have on the depth chart for 3-5 runs per game. I liked what I saw in his increased receiving role in 2021 as well.

13: Pierre Strong – San Jose State – 5’11/207

Grade: 72

Summary: Fifth year senior from Little Rock, AR. Four-year starter with enough accolades to fill a bookshelf. Won the MVFC Freshman of the Year award in 2018. First team All-MVFC three times and a three-time All American. Strong was a dominant force on the FCS level since the day he stepped foot on campus. His production speaks for itself. Physically he plays fast and tough with good reaction time as an inside runner. He is the kind of back that will make the most out of what is given to him. Once in the open field, he does have the juice to create more with his movement abilities. There are some concerns with his overall build and lower body mechanics. He may not ever be an every down, top of the depth chart guy but he can fit in as a backup for a team that has a no-nonsense approach to the running game. He will need to improve as a receiver and blocker to really stick.

*Strong is a candidate to be the day three back in this class that comes out of nowhere and ends up being a force early on. He has a solid combination of explosion, long speed, and toughness. Is he going to break tackles in the NFL? That is my one concern. The speed and power jump he is making will be a hard adjustment for his body type and he lacks some of the late wiggle in his hips to really avoid hits. He can get away with that when matching up against boys. The question will be if that shows up against men.

14: Keontay Ingram – USC – 6’0/221

Grade: 71

Summary: Senior entry from Carthage, TX. Spent three seasons at Texas where he started off and on all three years. Transferred to USC for 2021 and earned the starting role which led to an honorable mention All-Pac 12 recognition. Ingram is a physical, strong runner between the tackles with excellent running back mechanics. He stays behind his pads with a solid forward lean that will rip through arm tackles. He can gain a lot of yards after the catch and plays hungry. Ingram also proved he can factor on third down both as a pass catcher and blocker. This is a back that can do it everything across the board with a physical brand.

*Ingram is one of my favorite day three players in the class. Not because I think he will be the Elijah Mitchell of the group, but because I think he can come in right away and contribute. He is a back you feel safe with in multiple roles. Never a starter, but always a reliable backup and rotational force. Ingram has pro-ready vision and tempo. He can break tackles and he can block. If NYG waits until late to add a back, this is one of my guys that I think fits the situation well.

15: Sincere McCormick – UTSA – 5’8/204

Grade: 71

Summary: Junior entry from Converse, TX. Three-year starter that has been earning accolades since his career began at UTSA. 2019 Conference USA Freshman of the Year, 2020 and 2021 Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year, two-time 1st Team All-Conference USA and two-time All American. McCormick broke, and the re-broke the program’s single season rushing record en route to becoming UTSA’s all-time leader in the department. The natural runner anticipates running lanes with ease and has the burst to couple with it to create big play after big play. In a league that is filled with committee-approaches in the backfield, McCormick will be a highly sought after back for teams looking to complement a power back. He runs inside and outside equally well in addition to offering a steady presence as a receiver. The quick-hit mentality and aggressive finishes to his runs will make an impact early and often.

*I’ve had a thing for McCormick since the early part of the season. I saw a potential star here. He has a lot of big plays on his resume and there is a sense of quick vision and toughness that drew me in. His no-nonsense approach was refreshing to watch. The running back position has changed so much to the point where I cringe watching some of these kids dance around while missing out on what is right in front of them. Not McCormick. He takes what is there and will create big plays from that approach. Does that carry over to the next level against much faster defenses? We will see. But I wanted NYG to draft Khalil Herbert last year in the 7th round for similar reasons. He had over 530 yards as a rookie on just 117 touches and made some noise as a kick returner. I bet he starts games in the league at some point. I have a similar feel here with McCormick.

BEST OF THE REST

16: Tyler Allgeier – BYU – 5’11/224: 71
17: Abram Smith – Baylor – 6’0/213: 71
18: Ty Davis-Price – LSU – 6’0/211: 70
19: Zonovan Knight – North Carolina State – 5’11/209: 70
20: D’Vonte Price – Florida International – 6’1/210: 70
21: Max Borghi – Washington State – 5’9/210: 70
22: Ty Chandler – North Carolina – 5’11/204: 70
23: Snoop Conner – Mississippi – 5’10/222: 70
24: Tyler Goodson – Iowa – 5’9/197: 69
25: Kevin Harris – South Carolina – 5’10/221: 69
26: Leddie Brown – West Virginia – 6’0/213: 68
27: ZaQuandre White – South Carolina – 6’0/206: 68
28: CJ Verdell – Oregon – 5’8/196: 68
29: Hassan Hankins – Michigan – 6’2/228: 68
30: Isaih Pacheco – Rutgers – 5’10/216: 68

NYG APPROACH

Only if the opportunity presents itself for solid value can I see NYG using a pick at running back. That could be as early as day 2 (I would still be surprised), it could be early day three (still not likely), but probably with one of their final two picks. I see the spot on the depth chart for a rookie, no question. One can easily make the case that backups Matt Breida, Gary Brightwell, Antonio Williams, and Sandro Platzgummer are number 3-4 backs at best. From that perspective, NYG does not have a true backup behind a running back that has missed 21 games in 3 years (18 over the past 2). Then, the kicker…it is very realistic NONE of the backs, including Barkley, will be on this roster a year from now. Sounds like I could end up talking myself into an earlier pick on a running back. Yes, of course, there are more pressing needs on this team, and it is easier to find day three value at this position in any draft. I do see a huge cluster of those day three backs who make sense here. You want a power guy because Barkley runs too soft on urgent situations? Snoop Conner and both of the kids from South Carolina can be a nice add. You want a pass catcher? Leddie Brown and Max Borghi will likely be there late and could play right away. I think the debate is, do you want to grab a James Cook, Brian Robinson, Dameon Pierce, Rachaad White in round 3? Or do you wait to see which guy falls into your lap in day three? Again, I am looking at this draft not for this upcoming season, but for 2023. With that in mind, I look at this position as a group that can use an asset as early as round 3 if the value is right.

Apr 222022
 
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Garrett Wilson, Ohio State Buckeyes (January 4, 2022)

Garrett Wilson – © USA TODAY Sports

WIDE RECEIVERS

90+: All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

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

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

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

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

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

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

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

1: Garrett Wilson – Ohio State – 6’0/186

Grade: 85

Summary: Junior entry from Austin, Texas. A former 5-star recruit that also had Division I offers out of high school for basketball. Two-year starter, two-time 1st Team All Big 10 honoree and a 2021 2nd Team All American. Wilson is the kind of dynamic and explosive playmaker that is a threat to score each time he steps on the field. The size and speed are, respectively, both good enough but neither are top shelf traits. What makes him different is the elite body control and special awareness. He can twist and turn late in ways that most others simply cannot. The game slows down for him when defenders are near and the second, he makes his move, those defenders are often found wondering what just happened. Wilson can project to both the outside and the slot depending on the offense that brings him in. No matter what, expect him to make plays right away and ascend to one of the more dangerous threats in the league at the position.

*In a strong receiver class that lacks anyone near the elite-tier, Wilson gets the nod for the top spot. This could easily belong to one of the next few guys based on the style of offense a specific team plays. Wilson likely fits into any offense, however, as the skill set can go in a variety of ways. He is going to get open on all levels of the route tree and he can make special plays look easy. There is a looseness and flexibility to his core than screams playmaker. I do wish he had a little more presence against contact after the catch, as he goes down fast too often, but that is a negative I’ll deal with as long as he keeps everything else together. Wilson’s ceiling is similar to what we see in Stefon Diggs (a 5th round pick). I wouldn’t sleep on NYG making an aggressive move at WR in this draft. There are a lot of questions there on this team and the new regime did not bring any of the current ones on to this roster.

2: Jameson Williams – Alabama – 6’1/179

Grade: 84

Summary: Junior entry from St. Louis, MO. One year starter for Alabama after spending two seasons at Ohio State where he started six out of 22 games played. First team All-SEC and first team All-American in 2021. Finished the season number three on the program’s all-time single season receiving list behind only DeVonta Smith (2020) and Amari Cooper (2014). Williams sure did capitalize on the transfer away from Ohio State where he would have been competing with three other future first round picks for targets. He can play as fast and smooth as it gets. The ability to call on different gears at any point, whether he is running routes or carrying the ball, can change an offense. His movement is so sure with nothing wasted no matter what he is asked to do. To match that athleticism is an aggressive mindset and gamer’s mentality. Williams was also known as one of the team’s hardest working players in practice, he is often found making downfield blocks, and he was used on special teams as both a gunner and returner. The torn ACL will impact his rookie season but when it is fully recovered, we are looking at a top tier talent that can be one of the best playmakers in the NFL.

*The tape-grade was the same as Wilson’s. The torn ACL, even though he is expected to recover fully, did bring him down a point. You just never quite know and that goes deeper than just the ligament and knee itself. The soft tissue problems that can stem from this are part of the fear. Regardless, Williams’ body type can be a small concern as well. If he had more size and contact-strength, we could be talking about a guy near the 90-range. Williams has the movement and playmaking skills that can truly change an offense. There could be some Justin Jefferson here if he bounces back. The lack of game experience does create some extra gray area here, but that really could go in both directions. This is a tough, physical dude that will not shy from contact when needed. If he gets on the right offense, which is the case for a lot of skill position players, watch out.

3: Chris Olave – Ohio State – 6’0/187

Grade: 83

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from San Marcos, California. Three-year starter that earned 2nd Team All American honors in 2021 in addition to 1st Team All Big 10 in both 2021 and 2020, 3rd Team in 2019. Olave is a smooth and easy operator that moves with the kind natural suddenness to constantly get open underneath and intermediate. No matter where lines up, he will find the holes in coverage and become a quarterback’s best friend. In a league where separation is key, Olave may be the most reliable in that department. His attention to detail and ability to glide while moving at his top rate will bring him to open space. While his response to traffic and approach the catching the ball needs some refining, Olave is a safe bet to an ideal complementary, number two target in any kind of passing attack.

*You have to feel safe with Olave. I think he is the one guy up here that you know exactly what you’re getting out of when you draft him. He is such a smooth and easy mover, and it shows up every snap, every week. If he can be put into a role that gets him in space, I really don’t see a cornerback being able to stick to him. Olave is just too quick, too fast, and the body control is too easy for him. It would be a mistake to project him to be a true number one guy, however. He gets tossed around at the catch point and I don’t love the catching mechanics. He is an Isaac Bruce type. If GB or KC gets their hands on him, that is the type of situation where he starts catching 90+ balls per year. Put him on the wrong offense and he struggles to make an impact. Again, not an earth-shattering statement but he, more than most of these guys, needs that kind of plus-situation around him.

4: George Pickens – Georgia – 6’3/195

Grade: 82

Summary: Junior entry from Hoover, AL. Spent one season as a starter but was a on the field a ton in his first season in. addition to missing almost all of 2021 with a torn ACL. Pickens put the nation on notice as a true freshman when he led the Bulldogs in catches, yards and touchdowns all by wide margins. While he has not taken it to the next level since, the tools and ball skills are worth an extra look. He has a lot of natural talent and easy movement about him. The suddenness combined with his size can create a lot both off the line and in contested situations. He showed something when he came back from the torn ACL suffered in March before playing games in November. This is a competitive player with the NFL size and speed and plus ball skills. If his maturity can be polished, Pickens has the ceiling of a first rounder but there are several bullet points under the risk factor.

*Yet another player that I had to go back to 2019 to find his best tape. I was surprised Pickens declared after missing nearly all of 2021 with a torn ACL. While I am impressed he fought hard to get back on the field just 8 months after the injury, there are several maturity question marks with Pickens. When I think about what Schoen wants on the field and in the locker room, I don’t see a potential marriage here. But I do want to say this: Pickens has the ability and upside of every WR in this class. If his head is on straight (and stays on straight), there will be a very lucky offense out there when he puts their uniform on. This is not the time for NYG to take that kind of risk, but I would be lying if I said I never thought about taking him in round 2. He has credible WR1 ability.

5: Drake London – USC – 6’4/219

Grade: 82

Summary: Junior entry from Moorpark, California. Three-year starter that earned 2nd Team All-Pac 12 honors in 2020, 1st Team in 2021 in addition to 3rd Team All American honors in his injury-shortened junior campaign. London fractured his ankle in USC’s eighth game of the season. He was the only receiver in the country to average 11 catches per contest and he finished second in the nation with 135.5 yards per game. The former Division I basketball player brings a combination of size, grace, and power presence to the table that can make him a threat in traffic at all times. There have been some maddening inconsistencies in his game as a ball catcher, however. He allowed too many balls to bounce off his hands and hit the turf. Considering he also lacks the final gear to separate downfield, London’s ceiling falls short of a true number one threat. He can be an asset short, intermediate, and in the red zone but don’t bank on him being a top dog.

*At the time of this writing, London still has not had his private Pro Day. I’m not overly concerned by that situation in relation to his ankle, though. I have London as a first rounder, but not someone I am considering really high. There are too many little things about his game that add up to a grade that I feel is lower than what is out there. I see a cheap version of Mike Evans. Maybe he could evolve into something close to him, and in that case would be fully worth a high first rounder, but I think there will be issues separating from pro corners at the next level. I want my size-guys to catch the ball at a high level. I want to see them rarely let the ball hit the turf when they get near it. London needs to prove more in that department. I don’t see him being in the plans of NYG unless they trade down into the 20s, maybe late teens.

6: Jahan Dotson – Penn State – 5’11/178

Grade: 80

Summary: Senior entry from Nazareth, PA. Four-year starter that left Penn State top five in program history across all major career receiving records. Earned second team All-Big 10 honors in 2021, third team in 2020. Dotson, a high school state champion long jumper and anchor in the 4×100 meter relay, brings elite movement in all directions to the table. His burst, quickness, and acceleration give him constant space to work with. He can run himself open on all levels of the route tree and once the ball is in the air, his ability to seal the deal with a catch is as good as it gets. His hands are like magnets to the ball and the body control is always there. Dotson’s lack of size and contact presence can hinder his impact in specific situations, but he often played bigger than what he looks like. Add the dynamic ability with the ball in his hands after the catch and in the return game, Dotson has potential to be a game-changing force at the next level.

*Which receiver has the best hands in the draft? Here you go. There are guys with excellent hands and there is Dotson. In this class, he is in a class of his own. His looseness below the waist as a route runner and the core flexibility when reaching for the ball in any direction makes him an inviting target to throw to despite the lack of true size. Dotson’s weight and presence against contact does concern me. That is what prevents him from a first round grade. He would be an excellent number two or three option in a high-powered offensive attack. With where I project him to possibly go (maybe late round 1), he could find himself in an offense like GB and KC and that is where he could be overlooked and evolve into a 100+ catch per year guy. Does he fit in with NYG? I can see Daboll liking him but again, I think he is an ideal complement to a true number one guy. Still very important, yes. Not sure I see NYG going in this direction though. I won’t ever bash a pick on a guy with this level of ball skills, though.

7: Treylon Burks – Arkansas – 6’2/225

Grade: 80

Summary: Junior entry from Warren, AR. Three-year starter that capped his career off earning first-team All SEC honors. The versatile offensive weapon fits the mold of a growing trend in the NFL; strong and thick enough to make a difference with the ball in his hands and fast enough to pose as a downfield threat in the passing game. Burks lined up all over the field and produced from a variety of roles. In addition to his 146 career receptions, he also carried the ball 41 times and returned 12 punts. Simply put, no matter the situation or role, Burks is the kind of player that will create in a unique way when the opportunity is there. His skill set as a route runner and ball catcher are still developing, but the strides he made in 2021 were enormous and showed he has some number-one-receiver upside in him.

*The idea of Burks may exceed his physical potential. With that said, there are a few offensive minds that could truly get the most out of this versatile skill set. Are the Giants one of those teams? I’m not quite sure yet because even though Daboll has proven himself with Josh Allen and Buffalo, the talent here is not even close to that. Burks is a long strider. That isn’t a bad thing, but his speed only shows up after he gets a decent head start. I don’t see the sudden route runner that will get him open consistently. Now, I do like the strength at the catch point, and he does track the ball well downfield. I may be a bit low on him, but I think he is closer to Cordarelle Patterson than he is Deebo Samuel. Still a very good player, but someone I would slot into round 2.

8: Christian Watson – North Dakota State – 6’4/208

Grade: 79

Summary: Fifth year senior from Tampa, FL. Three-year starter that earned All-MVFC honors all three seasons, first team in both 2020 and 2021. Also, an All-American in his final year. Watson is the son of former NFL safety Tim Watson. The tall, long, and explosive receiver is dripping with tools that are enticing. He was a big play threat throughout his career at North Dakota State, averaging over 20 yards per catch. His ability to run, jump, and play with toughness can go a long way at the next level. He is making a significant jump in competition and overall athleticism; thus, his adjustment curve will likely be steep. Watson needs to shore up some techniques as a pass catcher and route runner, but this short-term project should add a significant downfield threat to a vertical passing game.

*On paper, I can see why there are some that view Watson as a potential first rounder. It is incredibly rare for a receiver from FCS to break into round 1, just for the record (has not happened since 2001, and just once since 1989). Watson is a physical freak with tools that many will create dreams from. I like the ceiling here and I think it is worth looking into day two. But his issues with drops, lack of a variety in routes, and soft tissue problems after a 2019 knee surgery concern me enough to keep him closer to round 3.

9: Skyy Moore – Western Michigan – 5’10/195

Grade: 79

Summary: Junior entry from New Kensington, PA. A lightly recruited former high school cornerback and quarterback that transitioned to wide receiver right away at Western Michigan. Three-year starter that earned first team All-MAC honors in both 2021 and 2019, second team in 2020. Moore has the elite quickness and precision as a route runner to consistently gain initial separation at the next level. He split time evenly between lining up at the slot and out wide, but he will likely project inside. His toughness and ability after the catch that stems from balance and vision can make him a force with the ball. He plays stronger and bigger than he looks. His lack of size and long speed will likely keep him from being an outside threat but there should not be a need to put him out there considering how refined and ready his skill set it to impact the game from the slot.

*For teams that need a slot, it is very possible he ends up with a top-of-second-round grade. He is the best pure slot guy in the class and in some offenses, the role of importance there is just as high as the outside receiver. Moore is a tough dude that plays at a high speed at all times. He makes some plays that scream Wes Welker. He has a long way to go to reach that level but the urgency, suddenness, and toughness are in that tier. I hope he finds a quality offense; he can be fun to watch. NYG will need a slot at this time next year, I think. Shepard’s days are numbered, and I would not be opposed to getting a guy in right now to learn the system and take over that role full time in 2023. If he falls to round 3, he is an option.

10: John Metchie III – Alabama – 5’11 – 187

Grade: 78

Junior entry from Brampton, Canada. Two-year starter full time and also started four games as a freshman because of injuries. Earned second-team All SEC in 2021. In a very crowded wide receiver room, Metchie III caught 151 passes in 26 games. Built like a slot receiver, his inside-out versatility will help him get on the field early on. The play speed and burst can make things happen after the catch. He did not make a lot of deep catches over his career, but he can do a lot of damage within the short to intermediate portions of the route tree. While his top end potential may not be high, his impact within a quality passing game can be strong off the bat. He plays fast, moves with power, and is still developing the overall skill set that has shown quality flashes throughout his career.

*Metchie’s medicals are going to be very important. He has had multiple lower body injuries over the past two seasons, including a torn ACL this past December. He also had surgery the year prior, and he has an enlarged heart. This is one of those situations where you could see him drop multiple rounds over the course of the weekend and everyone is left wondering what happened. On the field, Metchie is potentially a top tier slot receiver. His routes and lower body stability have left several NFL-caliber corners dead in their tracks. He can stick in the league for a long time if he passes the medicals.

11: Jalen Tolbert – South Alabama – 6’1/194

Grade: 77

Fifth year senior from Mobile, Alabama. Three-year starter that earned first team All-Sun Belt honors in both 2020 and 2021. Tolbert was a late bloomer in high school and did not receive a lot of attention from major programs. He then suffered a knee injury in 2017, forcing him to redshirt. He started to show glimpses of greatness in 2019 before really taking off a season later. Tolbert went on to set, and then re-set school records. The silky-smooth athlete makes certain components of playing the position look easy that certainly are not. His ability to play at different gears and attack the ball with precision and strength can make him a dangerous threat on all levels of the route tree. His skill set needs a lot of work, however, and a team will need patience before they throw him on the field. Tolbert drops too many balls and his body control as a route runner is inconsistent. These things are correctable, and his natural gifts are noteworthy.

*Tolbert is going to need some extra time to truly develop as a route runner and pass catcher. He is no longer going to be the top athlete on the field. He is going to longer have substantial size advantages over others. That said, the physical package this kid brings to the table is attractive. Perhaps NYG is looking at this receiver group knowing most of them will not be around in a year? That would be a good situation for a receiver like Tolbert to come into. No urgency to get on the field, learn the offense, enhance the skill set, and hopefully be the number one or two guy in 2023.

12: Wan’Dale Robinson – Kentucky – 5’8/178

Grade: 76

Summary: Junior entry from Frankfort, KY. Spent two seasons at Nebraska before transferring to Kentucky for the 2021 season. Honorable Mention All-Big 10 in both 2019 and 2020, second team All-SEC in 2021. Robinson has been a hybrid receiver/running back from the start of his career and will give an NFL offense the opportunity to create a big-time playmaker out of him. He has the well-balanced athletic ability and overall skill set to do multiple things, align from different spots, and create on his own. He is much more than an undersized, underneath threat that can occasionally take a jet sweep. He has had a lot of success in the deep passing game and plays with the kind of competitive fire that an at least somewhat make up for the lack of ideal size. Because he has lined up all over the offense, Robinson is a little rough around the edges when it comes release and route nuances, but all can be corrected in time. He is a big play threat every time he gets on the field no matter where he lines up.

*Robinson is a guy I have a feeling about. The quickness and burst he has the instant he touches the ball is exactly what gets overlooked by many when looking at measurables. He has the knack to find creases immediately. He is also one tough, strong dude that understands he can use the diminutive frame to his advantage, as a weapon. He is a gadget player, not someone that is always on the field. An argument can be made that only an established offense should be using a pick on a guy like this. I would not agree. Robinson is someone that can make things happen on his own. He can create big plays from nothing and that is what a growing offense needs. Robinson will make grown men hold their breath every time he gets the ball. The way Daboll used Isaiah McKenzie in Buffalo is a nice template: 77 catches – 27 rushes – 21 punt returns – 29 kick returns since 2019. I see Robinson being a better version of that. Keep an eye here.

13: Alec Pierce – Cincinnati – 6’3/211

Grade: 76

Senior entry from Glen Ellyn, IL. Three-year starter that earned second team All-AAC honors in 2021. Pierce, an accomplished jumper and volleyball player in high school, has the kind of explosion and straight line burst to pose as a downfield threat the next level. He averaged over 17.5 yards per catch over his four-year career. His linear movement and plus-length can be a dangerous weapon for a vertical passing offense looking to add an outside threat. He is not the twitchiest underneath route runner and there are occasional issues with his ability after the catch when it comes to innovation and creating extra yards, but in his lane, he can be a solid player. He will be role-specific, but in that role, he has traits that are hard to find. He is a physical gem when considering the secondary set of tools beyond an-already impressive set of tools.

*The size and leaping ability here are a big deal. He is going to be a weapon in the vertical passing game and near the red zone. Pierce has the potential to be a menace on third down. There are going to be issues separating though, and that is a big enough concern for me to keep him in the day three tier. He would be an asset to an offense that had other movement-based options in the passing game.

14: Calvin Austin III – Memphis – 5’8/170

Grade: 75

Fifth year senior from Memphis, TN. Two-year starter that was also a key return specialist. Earned first team All-AAC honors in both 2020 and 2019. Also, a member of the school’s Track and Field Team where he earned multiple All Conference honors and was a 2019 All American. Austin was a nine-time state champion in high school on the track in several events. He will enter the league and immediately become one of the fastest players on the field every Sunday. What makes him different, however, is the suddenness and functional movement traits that show up on the field in multiple versions. He is a dangerous returner, he gets off press coverage with quickness, and can run routes with precision. Austin’s size and lack of natural ball skills will show up from time to time and will prevent him from being a steady and consistent player. With that said, a team that needs more juice on their offense will be able to use the speed of Austin to create opportunities for the offense as a whole right away and he should make an impact on special teams.

*Austin is a fun kid to watch, and it is easy to fall into the thoughts of “what if” with him. His long speed is elite but even better, the short area quickness and burst are next level. He is going to get open in the NFL as long as he doesn’t get eaten up by a quality press corner. He is going to run away from guys with the ball. This is how I felt about a guy with a scary-close profile, Marquise Goodwin. Goodwin battled significant injuries early in his career, but he has made plays. 2017 was his peak, catching 56 passes for 962 yards. He has 14 career touchdowns but never quite made the impact as a returner. If you could guarantee Austin would have a similar career, where would you draft him? That is what I think he will end up being.

15: David Bell – Purdue – 6’1/212

Grade: 74

Summary: Junior entry from Indianapolis, IN. Three-year starter that earned accolades all three seasons. Three-time All Big 10, 2019 Big 10 Freshman of the Year, and 2021 Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year. Capped off his career earning 1st Team All American honors. Bell is not the most physically talented receiver. He is no slouch athletically but where he made his money came from how advanced he is with the skill set of being a playmaker. His routes, releases, and ball skills all stand out in a big way. He is a smooth criminal that will steal the ball away from defenders in traffic, make them look silly in the open field, and show a nasty side to him after the catch. He is a football player, plain and simple. While he won’t be an elite downfield threat and his separation downfield will be limited, he will make a strong impact if the right team finds the right role for him.

*Bell falls below the minimum speed numbers for some teams at both the 20-yard shuttle and 40. It is possible some will not even view him as draftable. I am still looking at him in that late 4/early 5 area because of dependable he is when the ball gets in the air. He tracks it as well as anyone and there is a competitive fire in him that I like. Bell is also an advanced route runner. Watch his footwork in cohesion with his hips and core control. He has it down. There are some young receivers that never get to that level. But you do have to be careful here with the speed and lack of ability to create space. As much as I like his game, the corners at the next level are an entirely different level than what he played against.

16: Erik Ezukanma – Texas Tech – 6’2/207

Grade: 74

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Forth Worth, TX. Three-year starter that led the Red Raiders in receiving all three seasons. Earned All-Big 12 honors in 2020 and 2021. Ezukanma is a tough, hard-nosed receiver with excellent play-strength. He plays bigger than his above average-frame will suggest both with the ball in his hands and attacking a pass in traffic. His mechanics as a receiver of the ball are consistent no matter what angle he is coming from. Ezukanma trusts his hands and has an automatic turn upfield immediately after the catch. There is some rawness to his route running and his speed is just average. The skill set will need time to improve but there is a lot to like here if he can fine-tune some of the little things.

*This is an intriguing day three target. I do think this is where NYG will pursue a receiver, that round 5-6 area where you stash a guy toward the back end of the group and possibly use him on special teams. Ezukanma does not have a lot of experience as a gunner, but his skill set and toughness lead me to believe he can do it. As a receiver, guys from Texas Tech have always been hard to project to the next level. Their scheme is relatively simple and there is a lot of unknown. One thing that does stand out beyond the toughness is his straight line ability. He can really go north and he can really jump. Throw in the plus-hands and aggressive style, there are multiple facets to his game that add up. Also, a good situation for him to be in for a year.

17: Velus Jones Jr – Tennessee – 6’0/204

Grade: 73

Summary: Sixth year senior from Saraland, AL. Spent three seasons at USC prior to transferring to Tennessee in 2020. First team All-SEC in 2021 and second team All-Pac 12 in 2019 as a special teamer. Co-winner of the 2021 SEC Special Teams Player of the Year Award. Jones is going to make his initial and most likely mark in the league on special teams. He is a natural playmaker in the return game, stemming from his field vision and contact balance. His burst to speed and easy change of direction makes him an intriguing project at wide receiver as well. The body thickness is unique and could thrive in a quick-strike offense as an underneath target. There are multiple ways he can help and team and that should give his overall grade a boost. He did not get many intermediate-to-deep looks in the passing game at all and there are some catch radius issues, but Jones is a gamble at receiver with a high floor because of what he will offer on specials right away.

*Jones will turn 25 just days after the draft. He had a pretty rough path to Tennessee, but he was never in trouble and there are not any concerns there. Once he settled in, Jones started to show he was more than a special teams weapon. He gets off tight coverage in a hurry, he has the deep speed to get away from corners, and he may be one of the toughest dudes in this class with the ball in his hands. While I think his role should be centralized to the slot on offense, there is extra value he brings on special teams. He has a kick couple return touchdowns on his resume and I think there could be a potential gunner here too. Jones is a very poor man’s version of Deebo Samuel. My game notes on the two are scary-similar. Both have that running back thickness and power with the ball, but both will roast you in the passing game on multiple levels. Jones does not have some of the fluidity and his routes need work, but this is one of the bigger sleepers in the class.

18: Kevin Austin – Notre Dame – 6’2/200

Grade: 73

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Ft. Lauderdale, FL. One-year starter that played in just two games from the start of 2019 to the end of 2020. He was suspended from the team in 2019 for repeated violations and injured his foot multiple times in 2020, requiring multiple surgeries. Once on the field for good in 2021, Austin’s talent that had been lauded for a long time finally broke through. He led the Fighting Irish in receiving and proved to be a big play threat, averaging just under 19 yards per catch. What he brings to the table, physically, is as good as any receiver in the class. He is an explosive mover in all directions and his strength plus contact presence can be too much to handle for defensive backs. Because of injuries and the 2019 suspension, he simply did not gain the experience to properly develop his tools into refined skills. This is a super high risk, high reward prospect.

*Because of what I think this regime is going to pursue, especially in this draft, when it comes to “safety” in their picks, I don’t see Austin as a guy they will pursue. Remember the name though. This can be a worthy risk for an offense that is already explosive. If he hits, you have yet another weapon which makes the “embarrassment of riches” notion even stronger (KC? LV? LAC? MIN?) or it can make a decision easier when financial issues arise with a player coming off a rookie deal. For the record, there is one guy (a college coach) that I bounce thoughts off of when it comes to receivers and backs. He said Austin is a “top 3 WR in this class and nobody knows it”.

19: Tyquan Thornton – Baylor – 6’2/181

Grade: 73

Summary: Senior entry from Miami, FL. Three-year starter that earned second team All-Big 12 in 2021 and honorable mention in 2019. A former accomplished track star, Thornton is going to bring an element of speed and big play potential to the table right away. He is a smooth accelerator that maintains quality body control as he tracks the ball downfield. His length and concentration as he approaches the ball with his hands showed up several times on tape. There needs to be some more versatility to his game, notably after the catch and as an underneath route runner. He is not overly physical or strong, and that will need time to develop, but there are some sneaky-high end traits here worth taking a shot on day three.

*There are a lot of guys that like the tool set Thornton brings to the table. He has a lot of speed and showed the ball skills that give him a deep threat label. There may not be a ton of variety to his game, so I do think he will be a niche player, but still someone that can create the explosive plays. That is the craze of the NFL right now and because of that, you may see this kid go a little higher than where I have him. The height and length will make him appear even bigger and faster at times. He can get to balls that others come up just short on. There will be some extra transition time for him, as he didn’t run a deep route tree. Nice potential project pick for NYG if they can find him day three and a cheaper option than what Darius Slayton brings to the table.

20: Khalil Shakir – Boise State – 5’11/196

Grade: 71

Summary: Senior entry from Murrieta, CA. Three-year starter that earned All Mountain West honors all three seasons, first team in both 2020 and 2021. Shakir’s body type and water bug movement skills scream slot receiver at the next level. He also shows the necessary toughness and competitive streak to go headfirst into a crowd without hesitation. Shakir is the kind of asset on offense and special teams that could get the ball a combined ten times a game, three different ways. The drops and overall radius are both alarming, however. If he does not shore up the consistency, the speed and toughness he shows with the ball will be tough to utilize. His margin for error is very small. At the very least he should add value as a returner and does present upside as a hard-to-touch slot.

*If there was a separate grading stack for slot receivers, Shakir would be pretty close to the top of it. I could see him getting drafted toward the round 4 area if an offense wants a guy strictly for that role. He is quick and sudden but what I like the most is the contact balance post-catch. He is a tough guy to bring down. The issues with drops really bother me, however. It is a personal rule of mine that if you are going to be a slot-only, your hands need to be elite. Throw in length-issues and I just think he needs to be a mid to late day three guy.

BEST OF THE REST

21: Makai Polk – Mississippi State – 6’3/195: 71
22: Danny Gray – SMU – 6’0/186: 71
23: Romeo Doubs – Nevada – 6’2/201: 71
24: Braylon Sanders – Mississippi – 6’0/194: 71
25: Kyle Phillips – UCLA – 5’11/189: 70
26: Justyn Ross – Clemson – 6’4/205: 70
27: Bo Melton – Rutgers – 5’11/189: 70
28: Dareke Young – Lenoir-Rhyne – 6’2/220: 70
29: Tre Turner – Virginia Tech – 6’1/184: 69
30: Jacquarri Roberson – Wake Forest – 6’1/186: 69
31: Charleston Rambo – Miami – 6’1/177: 69
32: Jalen Nailor – Michigan State – 5’11/186: 69
33: Devon Williams – Oregon – 6’5/210: 69
34: Slade Bolden – Alabama – 5’11/193: 68
35: Isaiah Weston – Northern Iowa – 6’3/214: 68
36: Mike Woods – Oklahoma – 6’1/204: 68
37: Tanner Conner – Idaho State – 6’3/226: 68
38: Reggie Roberson – SMU – 5’11/192: 68
39: Jerreth Sterns – Western Kentucky – 5’7/178: 68
40: Tay Martin – Oklahoma State – 6’1/184: 68

NYG APPROACH

This is a position that is going to need a lot of attention in the next year or two. I can easily see all three of Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton not on this roster at this time next year. In fact, I would parlay that bet and be very confident in it. So, what is NYG left with? The unknown of Kadarius Toney (drafted by the previous regime), although we should get some clarity in the 2022 season. All of the other current receivers are roster-hopeful types. There will be more money to spend the next two offseasons, thus we can assume a mid-to-high priced free agent will be brought in, perhaps even a trade (similar to what BUF did with Diggs). That still will not be enough. They are going to use pick(s) on a receiver in the next year or two, no question. Daboll likes receivers who can play BOTH the slot and on the outside based on situations and matchups. They don’t need to be overly big, but they need to be tough at the catch point and run quality routes according to the pro standard. There are a few guys in every tier who I think profile best to that kind of role. It is a long shot, but Wilson in the first round (even in the top 10) is a fit there. Day two I see guys like Jahan Dotson and John Metchie III being the fit. On day three, which is where I am expecting them to probably use a pick on one, names like Calvin Austin, Erik Ezukanma, Makai Polk, Danny Gray, and Reggie Roberson are names to keep an eye on. In today’s NFL, you can never have enough playmakers. NYG is starting from the bottom tier in that department.

Apr 202022
 
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Trey McBride, Colorado State Rams (November 6, 2021)

Trey McBride – © USA TODAY Sports

TIGHT ENDS

90+: All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

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

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

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

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

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

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

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

1: Trey McBride – Colorado State – 6’4/246

Grade: 83

Summary: Senior entry from Fort Morgan, CO. Four-year starter. Winner of the 2021 Mackey Award and earned unanimous All-American honors, a first in the program’s history. Three-time All-Mountain West, first team in 2021 and 2019. McBride excelled in multiple sports growing up. He left high school as the all-time leading scorer in basketball and the all-time leader in home runs on the baseball field. His success on the gridiron, ending with the top award in the nation as a senior, speaks volumes of how much he can excel at anything he takes part in. McBride is not the top shelf athlete, and he falls just short of ideal size, but his production and feel for the game across multiple domains creates a near-sure thing at the next level. He is as competitive as it gets and there is a skill set both as a blocker and receiver that should land him a starting job early in his career. He specializes at coming away with the ball in traffic and will put everything he has into beating his man in the running game.

*McBride has been at the top of my TE stack since August and his 2021 season only hardened that position. I think this kid is a stud, and I am probably higher on him than most. I do wish he was a little bigger/longer. If he was, he would be in the 85+ tier, a credible Pro Bowl projection. McBride is a better athlete than most think (4.54 forty), he plays with tenacity across every aspect of the game, and he breeds success every time he gets on the field. This is what I want NYG to have at tight end. He is a crazy-close profile to George Kittle and I think the ball skills are even better. If he is there in round 2 (I don’t think he will be), there won’t be many guys I want more than him.

2: Jeremy Ruckert – Ohio State – 6’5/252

Grade: 80

Summary: Senior entry from Lindenhurst, NY. Two-plus year starter that earned honorable mention All-Big 10 honors in 2021. After being the number two overall tight end recruit from the 2018 class, Ruckert never quite matched the hype because of an overly crowded and talented wide receiver room at Ohio State. His looks in the passing game just weren’t frequent enough to showcase his talent. He saw just 71 targets over the three seasons he was a big part of the offense. He did, however, display his ability to block both in-line and up the field. Ruckert’s hands, physical nature, and high on-field IQ made him a weapon on plays he was not thrown to. His impact will be felt there right away, and he could end up showing more as a receiver at the next level than he did in college. This is a guy that dropped just one pass over his career and scored 12 touchdowns on those 71 targets. He can be a weapon and an asset, one that sneaks up on the league in a classic “Y” tight end role.

*Ruckert is another round 2 option (I think most are projecting round 3) for NYG in my eyes. This guy is a full blown starting tight end week 1 in his rookie year. I don’t say that about a lot of guys, as the transition from college to NFL for tight ends is just brutal. Ruckert is the best blocker of the group (besides guys that are only blockers). He has a lot of Dalton Schultz in his game in that he will be equally reliable as a receiver and blocker but if he gets consistent looks in the passing game, his production will be higher than any Giants tight end since Shockey. I think he is one of the safest picks in the draft, just don’t expect Travis Kelce.

3: Greg Dulcich – UCLA – 6’4/243

Grade: 80

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Glendale, California. Two-year starter that earned 1st Team All-Pac 12 honors in 2021, 2nd Team in 2020. Dulcich proved to be a big play threat from a position that is usually reserved for threats underneath. Over his two seasons as a starter, he led the Bruins in receiving (1,242) and yards per catch (18.2), uncommon for the position. He has a unique blend of burst, speed, and ability to play an acrobatic brand. While he still has some developing to do physically, he brings a high-effort and no-nonsense style to the field that can create mismatches across the board. Dulcich won’t be an every down player early on, but his contributions to the passing game can be immediate and if he adds enough power and mass to his frame, he can be a very good starter at the next level.

*Sometimes you watch a guy one time and just “have a feeling”. I watched Dulcich against LSU early in the year and immediately said he was going to be a 1st or 2nd rounder. Nobody even had him entering the draft at that point. I never wavered and here we are, Dulcich declared and may be the highest-upside receiver at the position in the class. He has a unique style of movement to him, and he can really go up and get it. The one issue beyond his low-level blocking? I’m not sure I would label him a “soft-hands” type. I think he may be a guy that drops some easy balls. The question is, will the big plays overshadow the lowlights? It didn’t work with Engram but there are situations where it does pan out. I have a high enough grade on him to be in the discussion round 2.

4: Jelani Woods – Virginia – 6’7/253

Grade: 78

Summary: Senior entry from Ellenwood, GA. Three-year starter at Oklahoma State prior to transferring to Virginia for the 2021 season where he also started for one year. Two-time honorable mention All-Big 12 and capped his career off earning first team All-ACC honors in 2021. Woods’ frame and long stride speed stand out. He is such a tall and wide target in the passing game with a raw feel. The former quarterback still has some nuances to fix as a route runner, but his ball skills and ability after the catch are noteworthy and present long-term promise. He may not be ready for life in the trenches early on, but the competitive streak and tools are there to be an all-around player at a classic tight end set up.

*I am excited about Woods’ upside. I see so many Marcedes Lewis comparisons with his tool set. However, him reaching that kind of ceiling will come down to what Lewis did after he was drafted. That dude took a lot of pride in his blocking and developing that skill set. The size, speed, and ability to catch the ball in traffic and on the move is already there. If Woods wants to be that kind of player, he needs to LOVE blocking and truly understand how much a team needs a presence from that role. I am not sure I see the fire in him, but Lewis didn’t either coming out of UCLA. Woods is a high risk, high reward guy.

5: Cade Otton – Washington – 6’5/247

Grade: 77

Summary: Fifth year senior from Turnwater, WA. Four-year starter that earned first team All-Pac 12 honors in 2021. Otton brings a very high floor to the table for teams that want a steady, long-term starter at tight end. He checks all the boxes when it comes to size, athletic ability, and ever down impact. He shows tremendous upside as a blocker with his explosive hands and sturdy base along with a keen sense of where to be and what to do. Otton also brings a sense of steadiness to the passing game with his ability to get suddenly open and fight through traffic for the ball. His greatest trait arises after the catch. He is a load to bring down and runs with a lot of will and toughness. He barrels over defensive backs and looks like the biggest kid at recess that nobody wants to deal with. Otton has some limitations when it comes to speed and agility but he is good enough in those departments to complement his style well. Has the ideal frame and body type for an every down role.

*The standout trait that I like here is how physical Otton plays with the ball in his hands. He will get those yards after contact that stem from defensive backs that don’t know how to tackle. The size and strength are solid, but it is the attitude and “want to” that he plays with. He will be a good, not great, blocker too. There are a few of the day two guys / projected starters that I prefer but he is a solid fall back option.

6: Charlie Kolar – Iowa State – 6’6/254

Grade: 77

Summary: Fifth year senior from Norman, OK. Three-plus year starter that earned first team All-Big 12 honors in 2019, 2020, and 2021 in addition to third team All-American honors in both 2019 and 2020. Kolar, an award-winning student as well, fits the mold of the “Y” tight end perfectly. His size from any and every angle is top tier and he proved to be a reliable pass catcher that can be key component to an air attack. The lack of speed and burst could limit the routes and depth of target he brings to the table, but his success in traffic over the years means something. Kolar does not have standout athletic traits and he needs to learn how to block with more urgency and toughness, but his floor is very high. Kolar will be a starter or second tight end that sees the field a lot. A sure thing to at least be useable and reliable week to week.

*Kolar has had a really solid pre-draft process. His workout at the Pro Day went better than expected and he showed well at Senior Bowl week. While I still don’t see a sudden mover on tape, Kolar’s size and strong catching mechanics in traffic are enticing. I think he may need a transition year before being depended on as an every down guy, but he had a weird role at Iowa State. They used so many tight ends and Kolar was split out way more than he was in-line. Get him stronger, get him more comfortable with his hand in the dirt, and view him as a starter in 2023.

7: Daniel Bellinger – San Diego State – 6’5/253

Grade: 76

Senior entry from Las Vegas, NV. Three-year starter than earned Honorable Mention All-Mountain West honors in 2020. Bellinger has the tool set and ability to play the traditional Y tight end spot. While his skill set is more receiver-friendly, he does show enough upside and ability to create impact as a blocker. He plays a twitchy, sudden game and understands his role well. Bellinger may not have the man-strength quite yet to have a big role, but he should fill the back end of a depth chart early on. He is a plus-athlete with some sneaky upside to him when it comes to getting open and making things happen after the catch.

*It would not surprise me one bit to see Bellinger sneak into the end of round two. The triangle numbers are really solid, and he didn’t drop a single ball over his last two seasons. I just wish he got more looks in the passing game at San Diego State. He will likely be a year two guy at earliest because he had a hard time with defensive-linemen in the Mountain West. I think NFL guys will eat him early on.

8: Jake Ferguson – Wisconsin – 6’5/250

Grade: 74

Summary: Fifth year senior from Madison, WI. Three-year starter that earned first team All-Big 10 honors in both 2021 and 2020, honorable mention in 2019. Ferguson falls just below the line when it comes to difference-making speed and size for the position, but he brings a well-balanced skill set to the table that can at least somewhat hinder that. He is a smart and savvy receiver with plus-ball skills. He makes the acrobatic catch look easy and can create with the ball in his hands. He struggled to make a consistent impact as a blocker, as the strength below the waist and inability to latch on to his man showed up on tape several times. He will fill the back end of a depth chart early and can develop into a rotational player if he can gain and maintain mass and power.

*Ferguson is a pure football kid from a pure football family. His grandfather is former Wisconsin Head Coach Barry Alvarez. While I think he is a tad short on talent and upside, I feel safe with him as a backup that plays a few snaps weekly and can be used without a specialty outlook. That means he is a threat to catch or block, not just one or the other. I don’t see the upside as a starter, but that does not mean he is a bad day tree pick. He feels safer than some of the other guys in this tier.

9: Isaiah Likely – Coastal Carolina – 6’4/245

Grade: 73

Summary: Senior entry from Cambridge, MA. Three-year starter that earned first team All-Sun Belt each of his last two seasons and was also a second team All-American in 2021. Likely’s production was somewhat a product of the scheme he played in that had a lot of easy catches for him programmed within. However, a deeper look into the film and there is a reel of high difficulty catches down the field in traffic. He is an athletic, natural receiver with soft hands, dropping just one pass out of 79 targets in 2021. The issue with him revolves around blocking and overall size. His grades there are as low as it gets, and he does not seem overly interested in impacting the play unless he is a target in the passing game. He can make it as a move-tight end but with fewer and fewer teams using that kind of weapon, the demand for his services will be low. In the right system, Likely can be a sneaky-good option though.

*Catch the right film and you will think Likely is a top 100 guy that belongs in the tier with the first six on this list. I don’t see that, but he does have good athleticism and soft hands. Always a good place to start. He won’t ever factor as a blocker, so you really need to carve out that role for him. How much is it worth unless we are talking about an elite receiver? Likely is not that. It is un-Likely we will see him as a top tier guy, but you could find a spot if the scheme wants someone to motion pre-snap and mostly run routes.

10: James Mitchell – Virginia Tech – 6’4/249

Grade: 73

Summary: Senior entry from Big Stone Gap, VA. Three-year starter that played in just two games in 2021 due to a knee injury that required surgery. Mitchell will project to a motion-tight end at the next level. His best blocking performances are on the move in space, as he matches up well enough against speed and quickness. He is a savvy receiver with enough shake and suddenness at the top of his routes to create some separation. He won’t need much, as his ball skills and contact presence at the catch point look sturdy and reliable. Mitchell is a savvy player on all fronts that will get the most out of himself. He will be coming off an ACL injury and surgery, but this is a long-term player that will be in the league beyond his rookie deal as a solid number two tight end.

*After watching all of Mitchell’s film that I could get my hands on from 2020-2021, I saw someone that I wanted on the back end of my depth chart. If I have a starter and quality backup, Mitchell is someone I want. His game looks pro-caliber across multiple spectrums. I will admit he is short on tools and won’t stand out anywhere in particular, but there are subtle things I see on tape he does better than other guys. And he has made some ridiculous catches on tape. Coming off the ACL may delay his start a bit, so that factored in a little as well.

11: Chigoziem Okonkwo – Maryland – 6’2/238

Grade: 71

Senior entry from Power Springs, GA. Spent two years as a part time starter before sitting all out of 2020 because of a heart condition. Okonkwo came back strong in 2021, starting full time and earning Honorable Mention All-Big 10 honors. While the size and power presence will prevent Okonkwo from playing every down, his potential in a hybrid / H-Back role will be a draw to several teams. He plays incredibly quick and twitchy in addition to showing the ability to run away from defenders in space. Okonkwo is not a fit for every scheme, but a creative mind can find ways to use his talent.

*I could have put Oknokwo in with the fullbacks. He is going to be someone that teams use in multiple roles. In-line, motion, and the backfield. The Chargers used Stephen Anderson like this in 2021 and it was a very underrated aspect of their offense. This dude is a specimen and a very good athlete. I think he has some upside worth trying to develop. If the new offense wants to get away from using a roster spot on a fullback, Okonkwo is a guy worth pursuing. He can do it.

12: Teagan Quitoriano – Oregon State – 6’6/256

Grade: 71

Summary: Senior entry from Salem, OR. Four-year starter that earned honorable mention All-Pac 12 honors in both 2020 and 2021. Quitoriano was a two-sport star in high school that also excelled on the hardwood. He brings that kind of skill set to the table; a power forward capable of using his big frame to box out defenders and his quick feet to get initial advantages. The tool set he has should fit in nicely toward the bottom of a depth chart early on. With the role he expects to play as an in-line tight end, he needs to get much stronger as he will be matched up against pro defensive linemen often. He had issues sustaining blocks. His lack of athleticism, especially when moving laterally, will not permit him to be a true big-time threat as a receiver. He should be able to find a role as an underneath threat in the red zone on third down, however.

*Big country kid that shows the upside of being a problem for guys trying to prevent him from catching the ball. Someone with this size that also has a basketball background will always be a draw. He is more developmental than the mid-rounders but he also has a higher ceiling. Another really solid option for a day three pick that sits on the bottom of the depth chart. Has some young Kevin Boss to him.

13: Peyton Hendershot – Indiana – 6’4/250

Grade: 69

Summary: Fifth year senior from North Salem, IN. Four-year starter that earned All-Big 10 honors three times. Hendershot was a big part of the Indiana passing game. He finished second on the team in catches in 2019 and led the team in 2021. He does not have a standout physical trait but if he gets his hands on the ball, he will bring it in. He dropped just two passes over the past three years, an amazing ratio to his 121 catches. He needs to prove he can handle himself in the trenches against linemen, but he has the desire and want-to. Hendershot as an arrest on his record that needs to be investigated.

*Hendershot is a grinder. He plays through traffic so well. He is a tough dude that will create with the ball in his hands. He was a focal point of a passing game and rarely dropped the ball. The issue is upside stemming from lackluster tools. What is the upside here? He looks maxed out, but I like having young hungry guys like this on a bad roster. They bring the energy and can help build the culture. Hendershot won’t be a big factor in the league, but this is the kind of guy that sticks around.

14: Cole Turner – Nevada – 6’6/249

Grade: 69

Senior entry from Clackamas, OR. Two-year starter that earned All-Mountain West honors both seasons, first team in 2020. Turner has the body of either an oversized wide receiver or undersized tight end. Throw in the fact he mostly lined up in the slot away from the defensive line, and we are looking at a hybrid space-dependent player. He will not survive against pro defensive ends and outside linebackers as a blocker. His value will revolve around making plays on the ball downfield. He does not have blazing speed or explosive traits, but he does have quality tape in contested situations. For teams that reserve a role for a tight end that lines up split out, Turner will be an intriguing player to try and develop over the course of two or three years.

*Turner was a WR for a couple years before moving to “tight end” in 2020. I put that in quotes because he lined up in-line under 100 times. He really was an oversized slot in that offense. His body is terrible. Just looks like a guy that couldn’t decide if he wants to be a receiver or tight end, so he chose neither. He has some quality ball skills and production though. At his height and knowing he is nowhere near where he could be physically, there is a sliver of hope for him. Late round gamble only.

15: Jalen Wydermyer – Texas A& M – 6’4 – 255

Grade: 69

Summary: Junior entry from Dickinson, TX. Three-year starter that earned 2nd Team All SEC honors all three seasons. A 2020 Mackey Award finalist. Wydermyer is dripping with tools, talent, and potential. He has the prototype body plus some extra length and ability to track the ball. He shows flashes of being an ideal tight end target in today’s pass-happy NFL, one that will cause matchup nightmares across the board. He is capable of adjusting his weight to the pass in an instant and has made multiple highlight-reel plays over his career. The issue is everything in between. His drop rate and blocking grades are bottom tier. The lack of consistency and reliability make him a very boom-or-bust prospect. If he can approach his own progression with more attention to detail and passion for the small things, he can be quality starter and true difference maker. If he stays on this current track, he will live on the bottom of the depth chart.

*What a major fall for this kid over the past year. This time about 12 months ago, many were assuming top 45 pick. He had quality tape, good production, and appeared to have the tools. There were some off-field red flags but nothing too serious. He then goes out and puts out poor tape week after week. Dropping balls left and right, missing blocks, and looking lethargic. Then, puts together one of the worst Pro Day workouts of all time for the position. He ran a 5.02 forty, a space usually reserved for linemen. His jumps are bottom 5% historically. There have been 2 tight ends in history drafted with this kind of package, both primarily for blocking. Wydermyer is not a good blocker. The only reason he makes a late round draftable grade is the fact he has some quality tape from a couple years ago. Not sure what happened but it is worth looking into to see if someone can motivate him.

BEST OF THE REST

16: Nicholas Muse – South Carolina – 6’4/258: 68
17: Gerrit Prince – UAB – 6’4/241: 68
18: Armani Rogers – Ohio – 6’5/226: 68
19: Grant Calcaterra – SMU – 6’4/241: 68
20: Derrick Deese Jr – San Jose State – 6’3/236: 67
21: Chase Allen – Iowa State – 6’6/251: 67
22: Austin Allen – Nebraska – 6’8/253: 67
23: Curtis Hodges – Arizona State – 6’8/257: 66
24: Trae Berry – Boston College – 6’6/247: 66
25: John Fitzpatrick – Georgia – 6’7/262: 66
26: Zaire Mitchell – Florida Atlantic – 6’4/256: 65
27: Lucas Krull – Pittsburgh – 6’6/254: 65
28: John Babicz – North Dakota State – 6’6/255: 65
29: Jamal Pettitgrew – McNeese State – 6’6/244: 65
30: Erik Krommenhoek – USC – 6’5/245: 65

NYG APPROACH

If you take position value out of the equation, a. strong case can be made for tight end being the number one need on this team. Now that Evan Engram can officially be labeled a first round bust, the cupboard is bare. There are ways around an offense not having one and I feel Daboll is just the guy to handle that responsibility. He knows how to scheme around a hole at a position to maximize what a team actually has. The issue? This team just does not have much to scheme into. Nothing to sink teeth into. Nothing to put trust into. With that in mind, this front office needs to get a tight end in here, preferably early and I will tell you why.

A quality every down tight end (running and blocking) will elevate what this team can do both in the running and passing game. The NYG offensive line will likely still be an issue. They will have at least one rookie on the line, the likely spot being right tackle. Ricky Seals-Jones and Chris Myarick and Jake Hausmann are not going to help enough when trying to open up running lanes for Barkley or provide aid in pass protection. In addition, the tight end needs to be a big part of the third down offense. That spot needs to have a guy who can quickly get into his route and catch balls in traffic. This will be a quick-strike offense, thus that tight end needs to feed into that approach. While Seals-Jones can give some oversized wide receiver assistance, there is a reason why he has averaged under 3 starts a year over his five-year career. He has never caught more than two-thirds of his targets either.

The tight end spot is important regardless of how spread open you think this offense will be. Dawson Knox, for example, was on the field for just under 90% of the team’s snaps in Buffalo last year. He was second on the team in touchdowns (9) and second on the team in passer rating when targeted (127.8). NYG needs to find their version of Knox as soon as possible. I prefer McBride (round 2) or Ruckert (possibly round 3). While they may not pay the dividends you want right away, this draft is mostly about being ready to compete in 2023. No matter who the quarterback is at that time, a more-than-serviceable tight end will be a huge part of this offense getting out of the basement. In fact, I wouldn’t even mind a double dip at the position if there was a late day three value there like Quitoriano.

Apr 182022
 
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Evan Neal, Alabama Crimson Tide (December 31, 2021)

Evan Neal – © USA TODAY Sports

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

90+: All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

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

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

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

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

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

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

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

1: Evan Neal – Alabama – 6’7/337

Grade: 87

Summary: Junior entry from Okeechobee, Florida. Three-year starter at three different positions (LG, RT, LT). A 2019 Freshman All American that ended his career as a 2nd Team All American and 1st Team All SEC honoree. Neal, a team captain, is lauded by both the on-field coaches and support staff inside the walls. His attention to detail, intelligence, and work ethic have helped him deliver on his 5-star recruit profile out of high school. The fact he started right away as a true freshman for Nick Saban along the offensive line, a rarity, and progressed each season of his 3-year career while playing 3 different positions speaks volumes about his mental game. The obvious with Neal is the elite physical tools. His size is second to none, his power comes easy and natural, and the explosion within his blocking can put him in a rare tier of offensive line prospects. He did struggle with consistency throughout his career, as he showed low body awareness in several situations. He often oversets, leading to balance and control issues. Defenders were able to shake him off too many times. Neal’s upside is as high as it gets but the constant new-position he dealt with every year may have thrown off some important development. That versatility may help his outlook to some teams but once he is drafted, his true value will come when he settles into a position. Neal can eventually be one of the best linemen in the game.

*Prior to the start of the year, I had nearly no-doubt Neal was going to finish in the 90+ tier. But this is where you have to toss pre-conceived notions out the window when watching the tape. The truth is, Neal did not take a step forward. There are shortcomings within his skill set that arose weekly. The positive? These are all very correctable issues, and we see them corrected all the time. He has some of the same issues that Tristan Wirfs did coming out of Iowa in 2020. Wirfs was my OT1 in that class with a similar grade and is now an All-Pro. Neal can get on that path just as quickly, but I think he needs to settle into a position and remain there for a couple years. That hasn’t been the case since he was a high schooler. NYG would be an ideal destination for him. Insert him into the RT spot week 1 and they could have a top tier OT pair within a year or two. I would be excited to get this kid in blue.

2: Ikem Ekwonu – NC State – 6’4/310

Grade: 87

Summary: Junior entry from Charlotte, North Carolina. Three-year starter that has seen time at both left guard and left tackle. Two-time 1st Team All ACC and 2021 1st Team All American. The former wrestler was the also the anchor on his high school track team at 280+ pounds. Ekwonu will immediately be one of the best athletes along the offensive line in the league. His explosion, twitch from head to toe, and comfort in space as a lead blocker will be a viable weapon on an NFL offense early on. He is constantly putting defenders on the ground, as he can turn that speed into power at the snap of a finger. The issue with Ekwonu, however, is what we see out of homerun hitters in baseball. In between the highlights are far too many strikeouts. His lack of space-awareness and angles cause too many losses. His footwork is off, and his hands are often too late, which NFL defenders will eat for breakfast. The upside is through the roof, and he does carry credible inside-out versatility, but there is a lot of work to be done. He could start inside at guard in the NFL and will be most valuable in the running game when he can get out in space.

*For the record, Ekwonu graded out in the same tier at guard as tackle. It would be a hard call to pick between the two spots where he should start his career off. If the long-term plan is to put him at tackle, you might as well put him there right away. But if a team has 2 capable tackles and a hole at guard, I would not hesitate to put him inside. He has that kind of power, and he will make a bigger initial impact there. Ekwonu has holes in his game, just like Neal. Those issues, also like Neal, are very correctable. And lastly, like Neal, that is what kept him out of the 90+ tier. The upside is on that level at both guard and tackle. I do see a scenario where he is the guy I want NYG to go after at #5. It is pretty specific in terms of what happens 1-4, but it is possible. He would be a fun player to watch, and I would like the fit next to Glowinski for his mental progression. A part of me would wonder, however, if it would be a better idea to insert him at left guard and try to fill in RT next year. What a left side that would be.

3: Charles Cross – Mississippi State – 6’5/307

Grade: 85

Summary: Third year sophomore entry from Laurel, Mississippi. Two-year starter that earned 1st Team All SEC honors in 2021. Cross has all the tools and on-field intelligence to be a starting tackle in the league. His size and athletic ability look natural and easy. He has a calmness about him in pass protection that is hard to find. Rarely does he seem off balance or out of control even when he needs to adjust his weight and intentions at the final moment. There are some brute strength and power issues that show up in the running game, but if he continues on the track we have seen with his body development over the last three years, he should bridge the gap in that department soon enough to potentially be considered one of the top tackles in the league. He can already do things against speed, quickness, and scheme-complexity that many pros cannot. His upside us as high as any offensive lineman in the draft.

*If you are looking for a tackle solely for pass protection, a strong case can be made for Cross being the top dog. His body control is what stands out the most to me. When you watch the top pass blocking tackles in the league, you rarely see their numbers facing the ground. You rarely see them overextending or bending from the hip. This is what I see in Cross every time I watch him play. He does have losses on tape which stem from a weak initial punch and lack of grip strength. That needs to be enhanced, no question. Hand fighting is an essential part of blocking and while I think he has the skill set down, he just needs to get stronger. The build is there, and he has done a nice job adding some weight since being recruited. I do think he is in play for #7 if NYG goes elsewhere at #5.

4: Trevor Penning – Northern Iowa – 6’7/325

Grade: 83

Summary: Fifth year senior from Clear Lake, IA. Three-year starter that did not play in 2020 because the program cancelled the season. He played in both a shortened spring and full fall season respectively in 2021. Capped off his career with first team All-MVFC and All-American honors in addition to being named a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, given to the Offensive Player of the Year in FCS. Penning brings immense size, power, and attitude to the trenches. He is the kind of player that gets slid into a starting offensive line and all the sudden the personality up front is changed. To say he plays nasty and physical would be an understatement. Penning does have a few athletic shortcomings, as he doesn’t have the ever-present agility and bend below the waist. However, the capabilities are there to be just good enough at minimum and his overall power and mass should be able to hide most of the issues. There is a possibility his best fit would be inside, but he should get a shot to man a starting tackle spot early in his career.

*Penning was barely recruited out of high school. He spent just a year-plus on the offensive line. And he played at the lowest level of Iowa high school football. Now? He is a 325-pound freak that some can rightfully argue brings the best blend of talent to the table of all linemen in this class. I have a feeling we are going to see Penning go a lot earlier than where some are projecting him. He is a dream come true for some offensive line coaches. Still relatively raw when it comes to playing offensive line, elite burst and power, a pro-ready body, a love for the weight room, and a tenacity that can change the personality of an entire offense. Penning is a bit of a gamble because even from a lower level of college football, he was out-quicked far too often for my liking. But after seeing him workout, a case can be made he just doesn’t fully know what he is doing yet. And if/when he does, he can be a Pro Bowl talent.

5: Abraham Lucas – Washington State – 6’6/315

Grade: 79

Summary: Fifth year senior from Everett, WA. Four-year starter that earned All-Pac 12 honors all four seasons, first team in both 2020 and 2021. Lucas is a highly experienced and accomplished right tackle that checks all the boxes when it comes to the tools and physical skill set. He is a superb pass blocker that does a lot of the little things right on a repeated basis. His footwork and body control, both in space and while engaged with the defender, are consistent. He is not the best natural athlete, and it does show up on occasion, but he rarely abandons his techniques and there is a presence of denseness to him. He plays strong and heavy when things are lined up. His issues, which center around consistent bend and hand-timing, are very correctable. Lucas will be a starting right tackle in the league by his second year and should have a long career in the league.

*Lucas may need a little more time than most guys with a 79 grade. He did not play in anything close to a pro-blocking scheme and was rarely ever asked to run block. There is a level of weakness to his game as well. He is like a JV version of Charles Cross. Really smooth and reliable pass blocker but does not get enough push yet in the running game. His frame is there, though, and he does have some attitude to him that showed up at the Senior Bowl. I liked him there. If NYG does not get an OT early, he is on my short list overall for day 2.

6: Tyler Smith – Tulsa – 6’5/324

Grade: 79

Third year sophomore entry from Forth Worth, TX. Two-year full-time starter that also started two games in his redshirt season. Earned All-AAC honors in both 2020 and 2021. Smith is an explosive bruiser that plays the game with some extra attitude and violence. He plays with the kind of untamed mean streak that, when lined up properly, can be a true difference maker for an offensive line. His size and foot speed give him a high ceiling, but it will take some time to get there. He got away with poor techniques across the board in college that will not fly in the NFL. He needs to completely refine his hand work, get more comfortable with knee bend, and improve his body overall. Smith may need to make a move inside but even there, his ability to anchor will need time to build up. Look for him to be steady contributor within two years with a high upside.

*Look for Smith as another candidate for NYG to move inside if they can get their hands on him day 2. He plays the game like a violent guard. The lack of consistency in his bend and hand placement will cause issues on the outside early on. Inside, however, there is more margin for error in that department because he wouldn’t be as responsible for as much space. That said, most teams will see a potential tackle here that likely needs to sit a year. He has a high enough upside to warrant round 2.

7: Nicholas Petit-Frere – Ohio State – 6’5/316

Grade: 79

Summary: Fourth year junior entry from Tampa, Florida. Two-year starter that transitioned to left tackle in 2021, finishing as a 2nd Team All American and earned 1st Team All Big 10 honors. Petit-Frere was an elite, top-rated high school recruit at the tackle position coming out. It took him a little extra time before he was ready to contribute on the field, but he put forth two solid seasons at both right and left tackle respectively. The body, athletic ability, and overall upside are enough to forecast a starting job in his future, however it may not be right away. There are a lot of inconsistencies in his game that need to be hammered out before can be fully trusted. He carries tightness in his lower half that translates into poor initial movement, delayed reactions, and a lack of sustainable power. When he does have all his techniques lined up, he has shown flashes of being a dominant player. The plays in between those positive stretches are what can cause some worry and delay his impact on a quality offense. Boom or bust type that would be best suited as a backup early on.

*There are stretches of play where Petit-Frere looks like a definite first rounder. He looks the part both pre and post snap. He has starting experience on both sides of the ball. He put a lot of quality work into the offseasons throughout his career. My glaring negative when breaking down his grade is the fact that his performances against arguably his two toughest opponents were poor. Hutchinson from Michigan and Ebikitie from Penn State, two pro-caliber edge guys, nearly destroyed him. I’ve said this before, but I will repeat it. How these guys respond to those matchups will always mean a lot to my final grades. Petit-Frere was a first rounder in my eyes until those game tapes. He has the ability, but it needs to come together on a more reliable basis.

8: Bernhard Raimann – Central Michigan – 6’6/307

Grade: 77

Senior from Steinbrunn, Austria. Two-year starter at left tackle after starting 11 games over the previous two seasons at tight end. Earned first team All-MAC honors in 2021. Raimann played tight end until 2020 and it took just 18 games at his new position to become a credible pro prospect. His quick feet and overall twitch carry over well. He can stay under control against speed but also shows advanced knowledge and understanding of hand-techniques. He usually gets them inside while staying square and the ability to constantly stop and re-direct complements that well. Raimann is still rough around the edges and does not have the prototype-frame for the position. He lacks ample reach and struggles to keep his outside shoulder strong in pass protection, and it could cause a move inside. However, his skill set and lack of push off the ball could hinder his ability at guard. The athleticism and rawness do leave the door open for more obtainable upside than most prospects at the position, but there is a lot of development needed, which will take extra time.

*Raimann will turn 25 early in the 2022 season. He has a lot of big-time supporters around the league. It sounds like he will be a 2nd rounder. My initial read on him was 3rd or 4th round and after seeing the entire package, I did cement him into day two. That said, I don’t see a way to move him higher than where I have. There are too many unprovens when it comes to his skill set. Now, if he fixes the outside shoulder issues and gets a little more consistent with his lower body overall, and the actual ability is there I’ll admit, then we are looking at a starter. But the lack of length, lack of consistency, and core-based issues are too much for me to consider him any higher.

9: Rasheed Walker – Penn State – 6’6/313

Grade: 76

Summary: Fourth year junior from Waldorf, Maryland. Three-year starter that earned third team All-Big 10 honors in 2020. Walker has all the tools and traits to be a quality starting tackle in the NFL. His size and athleticism are hard to find together in one player. When his techniques are lined up, they come together and create quality blocking. He has the suddenness and explosive hands to re-direct defenders while keeping the lower half active and fast. His issues revolve around inconsistent spacing between his feet. It causes him to lose balance and power, notably in pass protection when he needs to move to his outside shoulder. In time, Walker can be a high-end player but he will need quality coaching, patience, and an unwavering work ethic.

*Walker is getting over a minor knee injury that prevented him from working out at both his pro day and the scouting combine. There are also some maturity question marks with him that will cause teams to hesitate in a deep group day three linemen. With that said, Walker’s best tape rivals several of the guys in the day two group. He has the goods. The lack of consistency and questions noted above will likely cause NYG to steer clear, however.

10: Luke Goedeke – Central Michigan – 6’5/312

Grade: 75

Summary: Senior entry from Whitelaw, WI. Two-year starter that missed all of 2020 after a knee injury that required surgery. First team All-MAC in 2021. Goedeke played right tackle all but one snap over his career. He shows dominant traits in the running game that stem from a combination of mentality and hand strength. He locks on with active feet and uses all his mass to get movement off the line. He plays with solid top to bottom cohesion and understands the angle-battle well. His size and lack pure athletic ability may force a move inside, but he should at least get a look at tackle. He is a fighter, one that relishes the role of being a security guard. Goedeke can be the important sixth lineman that can man different spots when injuries arise with the upside of being a starter down the road.

*After a career at tackle, he may have to make a shift inside due to length concerns. Goedeke is also a solid, but not great, mover in pass protection. He is one of the handful of guys you could project to either spot but I kept him out here because he never played inside at Central Michigan. Goedeke is not far off from Raimann, who gets much more attention it seems. Watch the two snap to snap (easy to do since they are on the same film) and you’ll see they trade back and forth positive/negative plays. I see Goedeke as the career backup type that you don’t want to head into the season as your starter, but OK with him coming in when an injury pops up.

11: Kellen Diesch – Arizona State – 6’7/301

Grade: 75

Fifth year senior from Trophy Club, TX. Two-year starter for Arizona State after transferring from Texas A& M where he spent three seasons as a backup. Earned second team All-Pac 12 honors in 2021. Diesch is a natural, easy-looking pass protector on the edge with smooth and repeatable footwork. His techniques are near-flawless, and it led to an incredibly high success rate on an island against pass rushers. He falls well below the prototype size for the tackle position, however, and may not have the anchor-strength for inside right away. There is a lot of weight room work to be done here but there is no denying how good he is at blocking, simply put. Diesch knows how to get the job done and could project as a valuable backup that could overcome a size deficiency in time and evolve into a quality starter.

*Diesch is a guy that falls below the size requirements on multiple levels but has such quality tape that you get reminded how much of an art this is. There are teams that will not even look at Diesch. But then there are teams that will look at the movement in pass protection, the easy and calm hands, and the ability to stay square will want to roll the dice. Diesch was one of my favorite guys to watch tape early in the year (and in 2020). But you must be careful knowing that the lack of anchor and length can, quite easily, be eaten alive by quality pass rushers. I would want this kid on my depth chart for a year or two to see if something can be made of him.

12: Max Mitchell – Louisiana – 6’6/307

Grade: 75

Summary: Senior entry from Monroe, LA. Three-year starter that earned All-Sun Belt honors in both 2020 and 2021, first team in his final season. A well-balanced technician, Mitchell brings a very nice base-level skill set to work with. He has a natural and ever-present sense of body control and balance that can set him up well in pass protection. The sudden hand work and mobile hips will get him a lot of initial wins up the edge. He is not big or strong enough yet. He will need a redshirt for his initial pro season with a personal key to the weight room. If he can gain quality weight while maintaining his developed skill set, Mitchell has starter-capability at either tackle spot. A move to guard could be in the works as well, but the lower body mass and anchor need to vastly improve.

*Mitchell has one of the key traits I want in a lineman, more specifically at tackle. He maintains excellent body control and balance while he is engaged with his man. Even though he does not have the plus-speed or size, he stays in phase and rarely gets caught oversetting or losing his anchor. Simply put, he showed he knows how to block. I liken him to a poor man’s version of Dillon Radunz from last year, a 2nd rounder for TEN that had to sit most of the year while he beefed up. I see Mitchell being a similar guy, just a hair lower when it comes to talent and upside. Always have room for this guy on a depth chart.

14: Vederian Lowe – Illinois – 6’5/314

Grade: 73

Summary: Fifth year senior from Rockford, IL. Started all five years because of receiving extra eligibility because of Covid-19. Honorable Mention All-Big 10 in both 2020 and 2021. Lowe, a father of two, is highly lauded by coaches and teammates. He also plays with a sense of maturity on the field. The techniques are repeated snap after snap, and it translates to superb body control and reliability. The feet and hands are in complete cohesion with one another, and it is rare to see him abandoning his base. Lowe does not bring a high end of speed or power to the table, but he is a blocker that simply gets the job done. His body type is unique. Lowe does not project to a top-tier status, but he will outplay and outlast players drafted ahead of him. He has things put together so well and his skill set will continue to improve in time.

*Lowe reminds me of a slightly lesser version, also slightly bigger version of Isaiah Wynn. The way he moves, the way he absorbs contact, and the ever-present sense of control. This is a dark horse guy worth trying to remember. I do have some concerns with him against top tier NFL speed and quickness, but if I can get him in round 5, I would be pumped. I think NYG will like the dependable traits he has. Highly respected by coaches, was impressive in interviews at the combine, has 2 kids, and set the Illinois record for starts (52).

14: Daniel Faalele – Minnesota – 6’8/384

Grade: 73

Senior entry from Melbourne, Australia. Three-year started that opted out in 2020 because of Covid-19. Faalele is going to stand out because of his rare size for obvious reasons. He will immediately be one of the largest humans in the league full of giants. What makes him even more intriguing, however, is the fact he started playing football for the first time in 2016 with his first game action occurring a year later. Faalele moves off the ball exceptionally well for a player of his size. The baseline athletic ability is good enough but where he struggles is when unplanned adjustment and lateral shifts of weight are needed. That, along with the likelihood of eventual injury playing at such a heavy weight, is why he will need to shed a few pounds before being depended on. He can win a lot of battles because of his mass and natural power, but the speed and complexity of the NFL will expose movement issues too often if he stays on his current path. He has upside and potential as a power blocker that others simply do not, but there is a lot that needs to be lined up prior to getting there.

*I can see where kid can come across as a unicorn. You just don’t see 400 pounders that can move their feet the way he does. But for my money, I’ll let someone else take the chance. I don’t trust the long term of health of someone that weighs this much and to be frank, there are some defenders he may not even be able to get his hands on. In a league where the low, bendy, fast pass rushers are becoming more and more prevalent, Faalele may simply be coming into the league at the wrong time.

15: Austin Deculus – LSU – 6’5/321

Grade: 71

Summary: Fifth year senior from Mamou, LA. Four-year starter that saw all his snaps at right tackle. Deculus has been a mainstay on an offensive line that has been one of the best performing groups in the nation over the past three years. He does not have standout talent or a dominating skill set, but it is hard to find a lot of bad beats on tape. He is just big enough and just powerful enough to hide the significant agility issues. He has heavy feet and stiff ankles, however his upper body strength and overall mass is hard to cleanly get by. There is a strong athletic base here, thus the notion there is some untapped potential lives on. Deculus has work to do, but there is a lot of pro-readiness to his game already. He can be a multiple year project that could end up being a quality starter in the league.

*Another guy well known for his durability (school record 61 games). Deculus is a better athlete than what we see on tape. He is a prime candidate for a draft and stash scenario (although I’m not sure how safe he is on the practice squad) for a year or two. Have him hammer away work at his agility and lower body mobility and see what he can develop into. Deculus has the man-power already and, most importantly, he knows how to win against better athletes. He can recover, an often overlook component to a quality lineman.

BEST OF THE REST

16: Braxton Jones – Southern Utah – 6’5/310: 71
17: Zachary Thomas – San Diego State – 6’5/308: 71
18: Myron Cunningham – Arkansas – 6’5/320: 70
19: Obinna Eze – TCU – 6’6/321: 70
20: Cade Mays – Tennessee – 6’5/311: 69
21: Dare Rosenthal – Kentucky – 6’7/29: 69
22: Matt Waletzko – North Dakota – 6’8/312: 69
23: Alec Anderson – UCLA – 6’5/304: 69
24: Andrew Rupcich – Culver-Stockton – 6’6/318: 68
25: Caleb Jones – Indiana – 6’9/370: 68
26: Luke Tenuta – Virginia Tech – 6’8/319: 68
27: Tyler Vrabel – Boston College – 6’6/315: 68
28: Bamidele Olaseni – Utah – 6’7/339: 68
29: Greg Long – Purdue – 6’3/304: 67
30: Devin Cochran – Georgia Tech – 6’7/306: 67

NYG APPROACH

If I were a betting man, I would put a lot of money on NYG using #5 or #7 on one of the top four tackles. I say four because there is some love for Trevor Penning around the league that nobody is talking about, although I think the decision comes down to the obvious Ekwonu, Neal, or Cross trio. Let’s break this down, as I would put them all at equal odds to be the guy NYG goes for.

Ekwonu is the best athlete of the bunch and probably offers the most upside when it comes to handling speed and quickness. While his technique as a pass blocker is a step or two behind, his twitch and explosion (upper and lower body) is one of the best I have seen. I also think he brings the meanest personality to the table. Neal is the one with the biggest upside overall, but I also think he has the lowest floor. No, I am not hedging my bet here. My grade is above, and he is OT1 on my board. But what I mean here is, Neal’s biggest issue (balance) has ruined careers in this league. If you can’t stay on your feet, let alone stay solid and strong on them, you won’t be a reliable blocker against players that are just as fast east-west as they are north-south. Defensive schemes are also as complex as they’ve ever been. But his best tape rivals Hall of Famer Walter Jones, the top tackle of my lifetime in my opinion. While I would be surprised to see Cross go ahead of the two guys above, it has very little to do with his run blocking. My surprise would come from the fact that is there is a weakness to his pass blocking, it is the anchor and losing to the inside shoulder. This will very much depend on what Daboll wants out of the tackle. Does he want more body control and overall grace? Then, Cross makes sense. But I think he will lean more toward power for this vacant RT spot.

If NYG somehow ignores OT with the first two picks, they almost need to force a pick there at the top of round 2. There are quality linemen taken there in that window nearly every year, but more often than not it is an inside guy. Tackles in round 2 are not easy to find. Names like Abraham Lucas, Tyler Smith, Nicholas Petit-Frere may not present the best value at that point in the draft, but NYG would almost have to go in that direction. The OL is the biggest issue this team has had for years, right tackle in particular. Waiting and waiting and waiting is a recipe to create the same issues we have been forced to stress about.

My closing thought will not be a popular one. I am very much open to the idea of using BOTH #5 and #7 on two offensive linemen. I know some of the naysayers bring up the potential cap downfall of this in a few years, but I do not agree. NYG will not be paying a starting quarterback top-of-market price (unless Jones explodes and/or they trade for an established superstar, both good problems). When that is the case, you can be overly aggressive at a few different spots. Knowing how hard it is to find good offensive linemen (across the league), this is the spot I would invest in should a situation like this pop up. Remember, the offensive line is FIVE positions. In addition, it provides a hedge should one of the linemen not pan out and/or injuries arise. We will see what the decision and situation present draft weekend.

Apr 162022
 
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Zion Johnson, Boston College Eagles (November 20, 2021)

Zion Johnson – © USA TODAY Sports

GUARDS / CENTERS

90+: All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

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

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

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

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

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

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

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

1: Zion Johnson – Boston College – 6’3/312

Grade: 85

Fifth year senior from Bowie, MD. Started for three seasons at Boston College after transferring from Davidson College, where he spent two seasons as a starter. First team All-ACC in 2021 and second team in 2019 as a guard, third team in 2020 as a left tackle. Johnson projects inside at the next level after playing both tackle and guard throughout his career. He also saw some snaps at center during Senior Bowl week. The two-time team captain looks pro-ready across the board. His power that stems from an enormous lower body and long, thick arms with heavy hands will seamlessly handle NFL power right away. He is technically sound and very smart when it comes to lateral awareness and adjustments. The blue-collar blocker does the little things right and it will cover up the slight natural athleticism issues he has. He should be a year one starter at any of the inside positions, preferably guard.

*When you are looking for a general of the offensive line, a guy that will lead the group of five and a guy that just quietly shows up week after week and gets the job done, and a guy that you know will be a professional on and off the field, Johnson is the example. A former 0-star (yes, 0-star) high school recruit now ends up one of the top 10 players in his draft class. I’ve never had that before. Johnson is a plug and play guard (or center) that can fit into any blocking scheme. He is one of the most mature and hardworking players in the class and will bring the interior of a line to another level right away. Put this kid in the starting lineup week one and you’re set for a decade.

2: Kenyon Green – Texas A& M – 6’4/323

Grade: 82

Summary: Junior entry from Humble, Texas. Three-year starter that evolved into a 2-time All Time All American, 1st Team in 2021. Also earned 2nd Team All SEC honors in 2020, 1st Team in 2021. Green played right guard as a true freshman in 2019 before shifting to left guard as a sophomore. Because of injuries, he played every position along the line other than center as a junior. Green’s versatility is a plus, but his most ideal spot will reside inside. He has elite power and strength that shows up most often in the running game. He gains a constant vertical push off the line which is created by an explosive upper body paired with tremendous thickness below the waist. He is not the ideal natural athlete when it comes to agility and lateral movement, but he is no slouch in that department. A lot of his issues seem to be more technique-based than ability-based. He needs a more mindful and intentional first step. With good coaching and a constant approach to honing his skill set, Green has the ability to be a top-notch guard in the league in time. He simply won’t be a fit for some schemes that require a lot of lateral movement. If he finds the right spot, he will be a difference maker.

*Green impressed me a ton in 2021. I never projected (and still don’t) him to the outside but I’ll tell you what, he can play out there if a team needed him to. Inside, Green has dominant traits. There is not a lineman in this class capable of moving guys the way Green can. If NYG truly wants more personality up front, more brute strength and power, Green is a guy worth looking at if they end up trading down a bit. The one concern I have, however, is the body. He looked awful at the combine. I’m not overly concerned with it (after all, it is a freakin’ lineman, not a bodybuilding contest), but it did not have the look of someone that has been working his tail off. That in combination with some of the sloppiness in his techniques kept him out of the 85+ tier for me. But when it comes to upside and what he can do for a line, he is a credible potential Pro Bowler.

3: Tyler Linderbaum – Iowa – 6’2/296

Grade: 81

Summary: Junior entry from Solon, IA. Three-year starter after an accomplished wrestling and shot-put high school career. Ended his tenure at Iowa as a 1st Team All American and Rimington Trophy winner in addition to being named a finalist for both the Rotary Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy respectively. The 3-time All Big 10 honoree and 2021 Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year will be an immediate starter in the NFL. His game best suits an offense that employs zone blocking scheme. His natural quickness and agility while maintaining body control and leverage is a weapon in the running game. He can reach players and angles that many centers cannot. Linderbaum is a force on the move that will win battles against both defensive linemen and linebackers alike. There is some bad tape on him when it comes to pass protection and power blocking straight ahead. He plays light and lacks a sturdy anchor. Teams will need to offer him help in those situations and he will need to improve his overall technique there, as he too often loses his center of mass and will face the ground. Linderbaum is week 1, year 1 starter that will likely be a long time leader of an offensive line.

*There are a ton of similarities to Vikings starting center Garrett Bradbury here. The size and quickness, the strength and weaknesses, the pro-readiness, the limited ceiling. Linderbaum has always had a late first round label for me. The fact he is going to struggle against NFL power if he is left alone on an island should worry some at least a little bit. You do not want your center to lose the positional battle near the goal line and/or short yardage. I do think he can be “good enough” in that department, though. When it comes to what he can do on the move, he truly can move like Jason Kelce from the Eagles. That speed and suddenness is a weapon in the right blocking scheme.

4: Cameron Jurgens – Nebraska – 6’3/303

Grade: 80

Fourth-year junior entry from Beatrice, NE. Third-team All-Big 10 in 2021. After beginning his career as a tight end, he moved to center full time prior to the 2019 season. When it comes to speed and overall athleticism, Jurgens stands out on tape. He can burst post-snap in any direction and make solid contact with targets in-line and in space. Zone blocking schemes where linemen are required to move laterally in a hurry will be drawn to him. The issue, initially, will be a lack of power and sustainability. He will need time to enhance his anchor-strength and grip. If that develops and he continues to improve his feel for angles, Jurgens can be a quality starting center.

*I moved Jurgens up quite a bit from November to now. The initial look was a 3rd/4th rounder. After the secondary tape review, he was boosted to round 2-3. Now, after his impressive pre-draft process I think he is a sure-thing second rounder. It would not surprise me one bit to see him go ahead of Linderbaum. He is a better athlete, he is bigger across the board, he is still somewhat new to the offensive line, and there is more tenacity to his play style. The risk here is that he needs to prove he knows what to do with his technique. He is all over the place at times with his feet and hands, they just don’t play in cohesion with each other. The ability is there, but it does not always show up. He needs a spot where he can sit for a year, continue to add mass, and make the steps thoughtless/more natural. NYG presents a nice situation for him. Keep this one in mind as a potential excellent value for day 2.

5: Sean Rhyan – UCLA – 6’5/321

Grade: 79

Summary: Junior entry from Ladera Ranch, California. Three-year starter that capped his career off earning 1st Team All-Pac 12 honors. Rhyan, the grandson of a pro boxer and former big time rugby player played left tackle for the Bruins, is a prime candidate to move inside at the next level where he could thrive. He does not have the ideal length and lower body looseness for tackle, but he is no slouch athletically at the small warts in his would be easier to hide inside. Rhyan has a unique skill set and background to go along with tree-trunk thighs and excellent hand accuracy. He is rarely caught off balance, shows a strong mental understanding of the game, and will provide a sturdy presence inside with gap control as both a run and pass blocker. This is a pocket protector that will rarely ever lose ground and the experience he does have outside only increases his value.

*Rhyan has a very interesting background. The blend of accomplishments as a rugby player and thrower in track and field are two pieces of the puzzle that one needs to consider when projecting his talent level in the NFL. He has some of the biggest hands you’re ever gonna see and it shows up on tape. When it comes to squaring a defender up and truly locking on, Rhyan stands out among all the blockers in the class. He may be the guy I trust the most in that department. He played well in limited head-to-head snaps against Thibodeaux and it just came down to his elite anchor, body control, and hand strength. I’ve always thought he would be an ideal fit at guard. You won’t ever see him get pushed back. It will be a new position, however, and there could be some issues as a lateral mover that he needs to fix before being thrown into the mix. If NYG ignores the interior in rounds 1-2, Rhyan will be on my short list round 3, no question. Ideal fit here in NY.

6: Darian Kinnard – Kentucky – 6’5/322

Grade: 77

Summary: Senior entry from Knoxville, TN. Three-year starter full time and also started two games as a true freshman. First team All-SEC and All-American in 2021, second team All-SEC and third team All-American in 2020. Kinnard plays a powerful game that complements his long, dense frame very well. He is not the most athletically gifted athlete, and he knows it. He understands the value of his initial punch, angles, and timing. The mental capacity he shows and the trust he has in himself made him a productive blocker in the SEC. Kinnard will likely move inside at the next level. He moves a bit too sluggish up the edge in pass protection and the outside foot plays too soft. His hand striking, stoutness, and mental game can be a solid fit for a gap-scheme as a starter within a couple years.

*It was pretty clear to me after watching just one tape on Kinnard that he was going to need to play inside. He just can’t seem to get his feet off the ground well enough in a kick slide to secure an edge against credible defenders. I actually think it was a good thing that he played in the SEC, by far the fastest conference in college football. If he had played in the Big 10 or the Pac-12, his tape may have convinced some he could possibly play out there. I always have to keep in mind the level of competition when evaluating one’s play. That is why, with my limited time, I always try to get the tape on these guys when the face off against other future NFL’ers. Kinnard can be a starting guard in year two. Let him re-learn some techniques, get used to different space demands, and try to improve the agility just a little bit.

7: Joshua Ezeudu – North Carolina – 6’4/308

Grade: 76

Summary: Fourth-year junior entry from Lawrenceville, GA. Three-year starter that earned Honorable Mention All-ACC honors in 2021, second-team in 2020. Because of injuries and inconsistent play throughout the entire line, Ezeudu was moved around often. Throughout his career he played every spot along the line with some of his best tape coming from his snaps at left tackle. His top position will be inside at guard but that kind of versatility can boost his stock a bit. Ezeudu excels with his hands and displays quick feet, always a good place to start. The natural top-end athletic ability is limited, however, and it shows up when he needs to adjust laterally. His knee bend is inconsistent and there is a recoil in his reaction-times because of it. If he can improve some lower body techniques, there are some quality traits to work with.

*When looking to add offensive linemen early day three, I love the idea of getting a guy that has credible experience and ability at multiple spots. There is no question Ezeudu projects best to guard, but I do think he could be a swing tackle if needed. So many teams have depth issues there. You see a guy or two go down with an injury and all of the sudden the entire offense needs to change. Ezeudu looks pro ready on most levels. His movement just seems a step too slow right now but I think he is better than over half the backups in the league right now. Throw in the versatility and I think it is a brilliant pick if he can be had in the right slot.

8: Luke Fortner – Kentucky – 6’4/307

Grade: 76

Summary: Sixth-year senior from Sylvania, OH. Three-year starter that spent two of those seasons at both guard spots before transitioning to the middle in 2021. Fortner brings a credible level of interior versatility to the table that can help fill the back end of an offensive line’s depth chart. His experience at both guard spots along with center will create an opportunity for a team to knock out multiple roles with one player. In relation to his level of play, Fortner shows a strong understanding of spacing, angles, and anchoring. He does not have immense hand strength and is an average athlete at best as a pass protector. His upside may never reach that of a reliable starter, but he should be able to hang as a backup for multiple spots.

*Fortner will turn 24 just a couple weeks after the draft. Another guy that brings some versatility to the table, albeit all inside. Still very valuable for where I think you can get him in the draft. NYG did a solid job of bringing in some quality, dependable interior blockers in free agency. The issue? You can’t expect even an above average ceiling and 3 of the 4 signings are on one-year deals. Fortner is a name worth looking at day three for sure.

9: Cole Strange – Chattanooga – 6’5/307

Grade: 75

Summary: Sixth year senior from Knoxville, TN. Five-year starter that earned All-Southern Conference honors three straight seasons, including first team in both 2020 and 2021. Two-time winner of the Jacobs Blocking Award, given to the top offensive lineman in the Southern Conference. Strange primarily played guard in college but did shift to tackle and guard due to injuries throughout his career at times. The technician with a never-quit mentality shows an intriguing skill set for teams that use a zone blocking scheme. He gets off the ball with such sudden movement in his hands and feet. He has an ability to latch on to his target with an inside position and low pad level while on the move that can be a true difference maker up front. His overall mass and power are not yet pro ready, but the other pieces are so well in place that he should give decision makers confidence that he can be a starter within one to two years.

*Strange turns 24 right around the start of training camp. This is a really interesting prospect. He graded out elite in workouts and watching him at the Senior Bowl increased by outlook on him. I only had 2 games on him from his regular season play, less than ideal. This dude is a fighter and plays with tremendous twitch. I think he will need to stay at center, but I do see a scenario where he plays guard in a zone-heavy scheme. I wish I had more on him but someone I spoke with said he could be a surprise day two pick.

10: Ed Ingram – LSU – 6’3/327

Grade: 75

Fifth year senior from DeSoto, TX. Four-year starter that has seen time at both guard positions but has not played on the right side since 2017. Second team All-SEC in 2021. Ingram is not a fancy prospect, but one that checks all the boxes when it comes to his level of play and overall effectiveness. He plays with a boxer’s mentality as a run blocker. One that fires off the ball and will deliver an accurate, violent punch to gain the initial advantage. His wide and long frame with natural knee bend gives him a very high floor to work with play to play. Combine that with his experience and visual intelligence on the field, Ingram appears to be one of the safer bets to start at some point and provide a steady level of play.

*I don’t see a high ceiling here, but I do see someone that gives a team exactly what they expect. Ingram is a tough and gritty dude with tremendous upper body pop. So many scouts and coaches want to see a kid with the hands. The hands that strike hard, stifle a defender, and stick. Ingram does all of that. When his base is balanced, he is very sturdy there too. He just shows inconsistencies with the feet that need to be cleaned up. There is an arrest on his record too that will require extra screening.

11: Zach Tom – Wake Forest – 6’4/304

Grade: 75

Fifth year senior from Prairieville, LA. Three-year starter that spent two seasons at left tackle, two at center. Honorable mention All-ACC in 2019 inside, first team in 2021 on the outside. Tom is going to move to guard or center at the next level. His intelligence and athleticism stand out in a big way. Tom gets out of his stance in a hurry and gets that vital initial step down before the defender moves on a routine basis. Add in the wide base and plus-balance habits he is a blocker with a commonly high blocking grade. He simply does not have a lot of losses on tape. Tom does need to add more core strength to handle pro interior linemen so he can stay stiffer against the bull rush and that will take time. This is a smart kid that can take on the leader-of-the-line role at center within his rookie contract.

*I do project Tom to the inside, but I’ll tell you what. Watching his tape from 2021 makes me think there is an outside shot someone will see him as a tackle. He moves well enough, he measured in less than ideal but still, good enough. This is a very smart kid that handles himself well on the field. I am impressed with how well he stays square even when he initially loses. Tom is the kind of guy you want directing traffic. If he can just get a little bigger, he has starter potential or he can be the valuable backup that is behind everybody on the depth chart. I mean everybody.

12: Marquis Hayes – Oklahoma – 6’5/318

Grade: 72

Summary: Fifth year senior from Maryland Heights, CO. Three-year starter that brings immense talent and tools to the table. Hayes measures in at prototype levels and has an explosive style of play. He gets off the ball in a hurry, does damage on initial contact, and has the ability to recover. Hayes’ issues have a lot to do with correctable technique and timing mistakes. He will often lean too much from the waist, hindering his ability to move his feet and stay square to his target. If he gets with the right coach and really applies himself, he can be a quality starter at the next level, but it will take some time.

*There is a major draw to the tool set here. Hayes has a lot of attractive tape and he showed some it at the Senior Bowl. There are flashes of dominance. At that size, there is an upside many will want to tap into. I think there are natural bend issues that will show up too often. He has the look of a guy that just won’t be able to handle stunts and twists as a pass protector. The run blocking, notably in gap schemes, will be a draw. Someone will think they can fix him, and I bet he goes earlier than where I graded.

13: Thayer Munford – Ohio State – 6’5/316

Grade: 72

Summary: Senior entry from Cincinnati, OH. Four-year starter that earned All-Big 10 honors all four seasons, first team in both 2020 and 2021 at two different positions. Munford primarily played tackle for the Buckeyes but shifted to guard as a senior. He is one of the few prospects that could realistically project to both positions at the next level. He has the size and power to handle NFL linemen right away. His long, wide, and thick frame complements his hand-strike and ability to anchor well. The lack of sudden footwork and inaccurate hands are a cause for worry, however. Munford has had a ton of experience, yet still makes repeated mistakes when he is forced to react laterally. The tools are there for a coach to try and refine, but there are too many holes in his game to project anything more than a versatile backup which still does present value.

*I kept Munford inside because of the feet. I don’t see him fixing that issue well enough to maintain every down duty on the outside. Munford is a man-mover. He really is imposing and has the kind of grip strength that can handle the biggest and strongest the NFL has to offer. The body type and bend may be an issue at times. He has tools, just not the right blend. Maybe we see him back up a few spots for a few years and sees what he makes of himself.

14: Chris Paul – Tulsa – 6’4/323

Grade: 72

Fifth year senior from Houston, TX. Four-year starter that saw two years at guard and two at tackle. Second team all-AAC in 2020, honorable mention in 2021. Paul can project to both tackle and guard at the next level, but the lack of natural speed and fluidity may keep him inside predominantly. He can play a heavy game with his ability to anchor against power and get movement off the ball. Paul plays with disciplined and repeatable techniques with both his hands and feet, promoting a constant sense of control and balance. As he continues to develop his power and confidence with the initial hand strike, Paul can eventually be a starting caliber player. At the very least, he should be able to provide inside-out versatility as a backup. He is mechanically sound and big enough respectively to create a high-floor outlook.

*Paul is going to require patience before he can even be depended on, even as a backup. Remember, you go in to game day thinking these backups have a strong likelihood of playing. Paul will not be ready for that. He is raw but there is some natural, base-level talent that coaches will want to work with. If NYG goes OL early, I would love to see them get a kid like Paul day three to stash on the game day inactive list. This team is going to need more OL at this time next year.

15: Dylan Parham – Memphis – 6’3/311

Grade: 72

Summary: Fifth year senior from Carrollton, GA. Four-year starter, one of which was at right tackle and rest were split between both guard positions. Earned first team All-AAC honors in 2021. Parham brings the unique tool set to the table which can be viewed as a developmental project with a high ceiling or a project not worth gambling on. His natural bend and explosion jump off the screen, but both are inconsistent, and he does not always play to his physical strengths. Even though he is still relatively new to the offensive line compared to other prospects, Parham’s negatives arise on tape often. He fails to convert his speed into power and struggles to sustain quality contact with his hands. He can backup the interior spots with the long-term possibility of molding into a starter.

*The lack of consistency was maddening here. I am OK with the Day 3 grade when it comes to that kind of negative, but a few I have spoken with say he may be a day 2 pick. I would not endorse it at all. He does not latch on to his man, he gets soft, and his lower half is a mess. I see the athletic ability and there is enough quality tape and versatility to say “he can hang”. But, again, that screams day three to me and there are guys I would rather have in that tier. I bet he goes earlier than where I have him.

16: Spencer Burford – UTSA – 6’4/304

Grade: 71

Summary: Senior entry from San Antonio, TX. Three-year full-time starter that also started two games as a true freshman after being the first ever four-star recruit to sign with the program. Three-time All-Conference USA, first team in 2021. Burford is the cousin to former NFL players LaAdrian Waddle and Sam Hurd. He will likely move to guard at the next level because of the struggles he has with his lower body in space pass protection. He excels with power and upper body explosion, strong suits for the interior. Burford needs to refine his lower body techniques and make his knee bend more consistent because when he is lined up correctly, he is an absolute boulder that can screw himself into the ground. If he can be put into a situation that allows for 1-2 years of patience, he can out-perform where he is drafted.

*Yet another situation where, if NYG goes OL early, I am heavily intrigued by Burford. Just like Paul, a college tackle that has plus-length for the inside and has shown enough anchor to handle the power of tackles. In a pinch, he can shift to the outside and sorry to keep repeating myself, you need backups with versatility. I shouldn’t say need, that is simply what I prefer. I like how hoard Burford plays too. Very talented kid that, no disrespect to the UTSA program, will get a huge leap in the quality of coaching and training once in the NFL. Give him a year or two and I think they will have something.

17: Justin Shaffer – Georgia – 6’4/314

Grade: 71

Summary: Fifth year senior from Ellenwood, GA. Two-year starter that earned second team All-SEC honors in 2021. Shaffer is a square-built ox that best shows up in the running game. His ability to control a gap and finish off blocks after creating a new line of scrimmage was on display week after week during the season and at the Senior Bowl. Shaffer is a bully inside that can handle NFL size and power right now. His lower body issues, bend and agility, show up often in pass protection. Because of that, he will need to man a backup spot on the depth chart early on. If he develops in that area, he can be an eventual starter that will change the power presence of an offensive line.

*A fun kid to watch. Intense blocker that wants to put his man through the ground snap after snap. He will get the most out of himself. The question is, what is the actual ceiling here? The lateral movement and knee bend looks a couple tiers below where it needs to be and I don’t see much, if any, versatility. Shaffer will be attractive to gap schemes a pure power guy. He does create tremendous force but the inaccuracy of his hands and inability to adjust consistently may keep him off the field. He is worth a day three shot because there is immense power and decent straight line burst to work with.

18: Lecitus Smith – Virginia Tech – 6’3/314

Grade: 70

Summary: Fifth year senior from Fitzgerald, GA. Four-year starter that earned honorable mention All-ACC honors in each of his final three seasons. Smith is a densely built, fire hydrant body that can play explosive and powerful. He generates tremendous pop off the ball and couples it with a lot of desire, hustle, and grit. That is always a good place to start. Smith is rough around the edges when it comes to sustaining quality contact with his man as a pass blocker. He does not keep his feet chopping and the lateral adjustments are not there. He will need time to properly season, but a quality situation with patience can mold him into a quality backup in time.

*If you want some more personality up front, if you want the bruiser mentality, Smith can be a part of that culture. I loved my initial look at him and started thinking day 2/early day 3. The pass protection and lateral movement as a run blocker were red flags that popped up numerous times. Can it be fixed? He isn’t a poor athlete, but he will need time to figure things out. By all accounts Smith is a hard-working kid and humble enough to work on the craft. Not a bad fall-back option if some of my other day 3 targets don’t pan out in terms of availability.

19: Jamaree Salyer – Georgia – 6’3/321

Grade: 70

Summary: Senior entry from Atlanta, GA. Two-year starter that also was a heavy rotational player prior to. Second team All-SEC in 2021. Salyer is a team captain that has won awards for leadership and intangible qualities. He brings position versatility to the table, having seen snaps at all five spots along the offensive line over his career. His lack of speed and quickness will likely land him inside at the next level. Salyer is a top-heavy power presence that will fit best into a gap blocking scheme. He is a hard guy to move off his point and should be able to protect the passer well enough inside. His heavy movement and lack of natural bend below the waist are elements that need to be improved over time. He projects to be a quality backup presence at the next level.

*The intangibles are off the charts with Salyer. He brings a versatile tool and skill set respectively to the offensive line. He plays with immense power. He out-performed Aidan Hutchinson in their head-to-head matchups. There is a lot to like Salyer. But I have a hard time taking his lower body mechanics and technique and thinking he can hold up for a full snap load over a season. I would be fine with him on my depth chart, however. He is the kind of guy you feel OK with if your starter goes down. Again, not for an every week situation but you can hide some of his issues for a short time. I also believe he will be great for a locker room.

20: Logan Bruss – Wisconsin – 6’5/309

Grade: 70

Fifth year senior from Appleton, WI. Four-year starter that earned second team All-Big 10 honors in 2021, third team in 2020. Bruss has seen action at both guard and tackle for the Badgers, majority of which was outside. With that said, Bruss’ skill set best projects inside at the next level. He quickly gets off the ball and onto his man whether it is in-line or at the second level. The feisty fighter excels at staying square to his target which can somewhat hide his athletic shortcomings. His main issues arise in pass protection. The hands are late, and the sudden reactions are not good enough. He often gets walked back into the pocket and will not adjust well to secondary moves. Bruss has the attitude and power to play inside, and his lack of pure speed will not arise as often. He can be a valuable, versatile backup with the small but present potential of eventually starting at guard.

*Bruss does not have the ceiling that some of the guys in this tier have. That in mind, I think his floor is higher and I would bet money on the likelihood he stays in the league longer than at least a handful of the linemen graded above him. He has a pro-style to his game already. He really needs to enhance the lower body power and potential. The fear is he may already be maxed out there. I would draft him as a late day three guy and assume I have at 7th or 8th lineman locked up for a few years.

BEST OF THE REST

21: OC Dohnovan West – Arizona State – 6’3//296: 70
22: OG Ben Brown – Mississippi – 6’5/312: 70
23: OG Ja’Tyre Carter – Southern – 6’3/311: 70
24: OG Chasen Hines – LSU – 6’3/327: 70
25: OG Andrew Stueber – Michigan – 6’7/325: 70
26: OG Cordell Volson – North Dakota State – 6’6/315: 69
27: OC Dawson Deaton – Texas Tech – 6’5/306: 69
28: OC Alec Lindstrom – Boston College – 6’3/296: 69
29: OC Luke Wattenberg – Washington – 6’4/299: 68
30: OG Xavier Newman-Johnson – Baylor – 6’2/297: 68
31: OG Nick Zackelj – Fordham – 6’6/316: 68
32: OG Lewis Kidd – Montana State – 6’6/312: 68
33: OG Josh Rivas – Kansas State – 6’6/330: 68
34: OG Tyrese Robinson – Oklahoma – 6’3/317: 68
35: OG William Dunkle – San Diego State – 6’5/328: 67

NYG APPROACH

As I stated above, the additions of the veterans inside via free agency are more about avoiding the bottom from falling out. We really saw the floor come out from underneath this group in recent years. I think there is open competition for left guard between Lemieux, Douglas, Garcia, and a potential 2022 draft pick. Also keep in mind that Ikem Ekwonu, whom I have in the tackle group, could very well be that 2022 draft pick to start at guard. We also need to think beyond 2022, as all of those names noted (other than Lemieux and his bad knee) are free agents less than 12 months from now. Brian Daboll is big on ensuring the inside of this line is able to protect the passer. They need to anchor, and they need to be able to shift their weight laterally. In 2019, they drafted a college tackle and converted him to guard (Cody Ford). They also traded for a college tackle, Ryan Bates, that moved inside. Their center, Mitch Morse, was a college tackle. Their interior backups, Ike Boettger and Greg Mancz, both had extensive experience at tackle. If Daboll had an influence on what kind of linemen that team pursued for the inside, I have a strong feeling they will be using a pick on a tackle-turned guard. If Ekwonu is not that guy or they do select him and keep him at right tackle, you can look at several of these names and see a fit for that situation. Day 2 guys like Sean Rhyan, Darian Kinnard and Joshua Ezeudu. Day 3 names like Zach Tom (reminds me of Morse), Chris Paul, Spencer Burford, and Logan Bruss are the names that stand out to me. Another positive here is I fully expect a draftable player, two, or three at this spot to be there in the free agency period. This group of interior guys sets up nicely for what NYG needs, and is going to need, in the Daboll scheme.