Jul 092019
 
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Deandre Baker and Julian Love, New York Giants (June 5, 2019)

Deandre Baker and Julian Love – © USA TODAY Sports

With New York Giants training camp beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) breaks down each of the team’s positional groups until the players report at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Defensive Backs

2018 YEAR IN REVIEW: In just three seasons, the Giants went from having one of the best secondaries in the NFL in 2016 to one of the worst in 2018. Three Giants were named to the All-Pro team in 2016. In 2018, the Giants had arguably the worst starting free safety (Curtis Riley) and worst starting cornerback (B.W. Webb) in the League. For the second year in a row, overrated strong safety Landon Collins could not replicate his 2016 performance and finished the year on Injured Reserve. The best player in the secondary, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, gave up too many big plays. The Giants decided they had seen enough of top-10 draft pick Eli Apple and traded him in October to the Saints.

The rest of the unit was manned by players such as Grant Haley, Antonio Hamilton, Tony Lippett, Donte Deayon (waived in October), Michael Thomas, Sean Chandler, Kenny Ladler, and Kamrin Moore. Who? Most fans never heard of any of these guys before 2018. In a way, encumbered with one of the worst pass rush units in the NFL, it’s a minor miracle that the secondary was not more abused than it actually was. The Giants finished 23rd in pass defense.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants re-signed cornerbacks Tony Lippett and Antonio Hamilton in free agency as well as Practice Squad cornerback Ronald Zamort. Landon Collins signed a huge, 6-year, $84 million contract with the Washington Redskins. Curtis Riley signed with the Oakland Raiders and B.W. Webb signed with the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Giants obtained safety Jabrill Peppers in a trade from the Cleveland Browns. They signed safety Antoine Bethea after he was cut by the Arizona Cardinals. Street free agent cornerback Henre’ Toliver was also signed.

The Giants selected cornerbacks Deandre Baker (1st round), Julian Love (4th round), and Corey Ballentine (6th round) in the 2019 NFL Draft. Rookie free agents safety Tenny Adewusi, safety Jacob Thieneman, linebacker/safety Jake Carlock, and linebacker/safety Mark McLaurin were all signed after the draft. Thieneman has since been waived due to an injury.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: The Giants have almost completely revamped their secondary. Jabrill Peppers and Antoine Bethea replace Landon Collins and Curtis Riley as the starting safeties. 2018 3rd-round Supplemental Draft pick Sam Beal, who missed his rookie season due to an injury, as well as three 2019 draft picks will have the inside track at making the roster at cornerback. Deandre Baker has already been moved into the starting line-up. Aside from Bethea, Jenkins, and reserve safety Michael Thomas, this is a very young group.

On paper, the Giants are better set at cornerback. Jenkins and Baker should be one of the better starting cornerback duos in the NFL. By all accounts, Baker was one of the most impressive newcomers during Spring workouts. Both will be pressed by Julian Love and Sam Beal. Perhaps the best battle will be for the starting nickel corner spot between Grant Haley and Julian Love.

Safety is a bit more unsettled. Jabrill Peppers played much better during his second year in Cleveland and the belief is that Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher sees him as a cornerstone to the team’s rebuilt defense and will employ him in a variety of ways to take advantage of his physical attributes. Bethea turns 35 in July and is obviously nearing the end. But he will provide leadership and inside knowledge on Bettcher’s schemes, making sure everyone is lined up properly. Depth at safety is a concern as there are no clear up-and-coming players behind the starting two.

Keep in mind that both defensive backs coaches are new with Everett Withers and Henry Baker coming from the collegiate ranks.

ON THE BUBBLE: As I discussed in my linebacker preview, the Giants may view some of these players as hybrid linebackers/safeties such as Jake Carlock and Mark McLaurin. So one of these guys could make the roster as a “linebacker.”

The Giants are likely to carry 9, 10, or 11 defensive backs. Some think Janoris Jenkins could be traded. My belief is that Jenkins, Deandre Baker, Julian Love, Sam Beal, Jabrill Peppers, and Antoine Bethea are the sure bets to make the team. Others with a good shot are Grant Haley, Corey Ballentine, and Michael Thomas, but they are not completely safe. Everyone else is on the bubble.

FROM THE COACHES: Head Coach Pat Shurmur on Deandre Baker: “He has been (making plays) on a pretty steady basis. I think he has made a play or two at each practice. Again, just learning how to compete at this level. Unfortunately, you can’t do a whole bunch of bump-and-run and press coverage, so the corners are at a little bit of a disadvantage. However, you need to learn to play off and for him to be able to make plays in those situations is good.”

Shurmur on Jabrill Peppers and Antoine Bethea: “They are doing a good job. You saw Antoine had an interception today. They communicate extremely well. They are very strong guys. Typically, one guy takes the lead on that, but they both can do it. When I watch, they are getting us in the right coverages and pressures. They are in the right spots and trying to play the techniques within the defenses that are called. That is the thing that you can work on this time of year defensively. All the communication. We are really pleased with where they are. It is only going to get better.”

Shurmur on Jabrill Peppers: “He has a very charismatic personality and he loves to play the game. He picked up quickly what we were doing on defense well and he is extremely smart. He is very tough and very competitive. When you see guys like that on the field, you feel their presence immediately. He got to it quickly… He is very vocal. Sometimes you don’t have to be very vocal and you can be a leader. You can look to him and see that he has that about him. He has a great presence. If you are around him on a day-to-day basis, you can see that he will quickly become one of the guys where you say, ‘OK, he’s got it.’ He loves playing football and has a lot of fun doing it and a lot of fun competing. I think that is part of his charm and what makes him special. He is so darn competitive. It shows up naturally.”

Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher on Jabrill Peppers: “Jabrill is a highly talented and ascending player in this league. A guy that has the flexibility to play strong safety and could come down in the box and play some money. He is a really talented blitzer and when you watched his tape in Cleveland, you saw all the different roles he played. You saw snaps where he plays nickel, high in the middle of the field, high and outside, where he plays down low. A guy that has a lot of versatility. A guy that when he learns this system, he is going to have a lot of fun playing in this system… I flew from Arizona to Michigan and spent a bunch of time with him when he was coming out (in the draft). I thought he was a dynamic kid and the people that were around him loved him. I got multiple texts from coaches that worked with him in Cleveland and it was not something I asked for, this was after we traded for him and they said that we were going to love him. He is going to work exceptionally hard and is going to be about what it is supposed to be about. You see him out here, we are doing stuff against the air and he is moving, sliding and running around. He is in a stance and sometimes you want to be like, slow down, this is on air. He is exciting.”

Bettcher on Antoine Bethea: “We have a chance to add Antoine Bethea, a guy who is one of the highest character players I have ever been around, smart, intelligent and an unbelievable leader. As you have an opportunity to wrap your hands around him and embrace him a little bit, you will see what I am talking about with him. I was talking to him the other day and I was joking with him telling him that as time goes on, I get more gray hair. As time goes on, he gets younger. That is just when you see his play, that is what it has been. The years in the league have progressed for him. He has played fast and played young. That what impresses me about him.”

Bettcher on Deandre Baker: “The thing I would say about Baker is that he played in a very, very tough league. We all know how long it was before he gave up a touchdown pass. He competed and covered some of the best players that have come out of that league on offense. His tape speaks for itself. One of the best, if not the best, tackling corner in the draft, period. Excited to have him. He did an outstanding job at camp this past week.”

Bettcher on Janoris Jenkins: “Janoris has been not great but unbelievable with our young guys. He has had great, teachable moments where as a coach you just have to let it go. You are starting to go coach the young guys and he is already on it. I see the ownership in year two that he is starting to take with those guys. It is outstanding and it is going to help us be a better defense and not just those guys be better players themselves.”

Bettcher on Julian Love: “Naturally, he is a nickel. What is the second position, is he a safety or a corner? Time tells with that and more reps tell us that. You have to be smart and pretty intelligent like he is to be able to handle that.”

Defensive Backs Coach Everett Withers on his cornerbacks: “It is exciting when you bring in all these young men. That is the biggest thing. Talented guys that can play. We are adding Sam Beal into the mix too. You take a guy like Janoris Jenkins, a guy that has been in the league for 10 years and look at him more as an assistant coach. He has taken that role so far this offseason and has done a really good job.”

Withers on Janoris Jenkins: “I think when he is in the meetings, he has such a vast amount of experience in this league that he can help guys not only schematically but understanding the game, splits of receivers and those things. He has done a really good job in the meeting rooms and on the field so far… He has been awesome.”

Withers on Jabrill Peppers: “I am excited. He has a lot of ability and does a lot of things. Our role right now is to try and help Jabrill schematically. Help him grow into what we do and add things into his playbook. He is a guy that comes to work everyday with a lot of energy. He has been really fun to watch so far.”

Withers on Deandre Baker: “He is a really talented guy. When you watch his tape, he is a guy with a lot of competitive experience. To have another guy over there next to Janoris, he is talented enough to go over there and be a factor over there opposite Janoris.”

Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey on Jabrill Peppers: “High energy, the guy is a for sure ball handler. Can make all the cuts full speed. He just brings juice. I’ve known the kid since he was 16 years old. I recruited him when I was at LSU. Jabrill is a special athlete. He can do anything – run the football, catch the football, whatever. He’s just a great athlete.”

PREDICTIONS: The guy who is flying under the radar is Deandre Baker. Keep in mind that despite drafting him late in the first round, he was the first cornerback selected in the draft. In other words, the Giants believe he was the best corner in this draft class. Thus far, he has not disappointed. Baker has the look of an old school, aggressive, physical corner who likes to mix it up both against the run and the pass. Janoris Jenkins has always done better when his team is playing better. I expect him to regain his 2016 All-Pro form as long as he stays healthy. Grant Haley remained the first-team nickel throughout the Spring practices. However, it is difficult to see him holding off Julian Love for long. Love may lack ideal long speed, but he a smart, aggressive player who makes plays on the football. Sam Beal provides quality depth provided he is over his shoulder issues.

The Giants also look to be upgraded at safety. Landon Collins was not as good as advertised. Most Giants fans know he had issues in coverage. He never regained his 2016 form. Curtis Riley was a train wreck at free safety. James Bettcher insists that Antoine Bethea can still play. At the very least, the team is already thrilled with the leadership and guidance he is providing. He’s like having a coach on the field. The real question mark here is what is Jabrill Peppers’ upside? Is he another one of those better-athlete-than-player types or is he about to experience his breakout season in his third year? It’s obvious the Giants are going to use him in a variety of ways, moving him around quite a bit and even have him blitz. The good news, again, is his attitude. The team is thrilled with his character. Depth at safety is a concern. Michael Thomas is a solid reserve/special teams type who also provides a good locker room presence. But it would be great if one of the young safeties came out of nowhere to surprise.

Don’t be surprised to see the Giants play with a lot of five and six defensive back packages throughout the year. Because of that, I would not be shocked to see the team keep as many as 11 defensive backs. Special teams will also be a big factor in deciding who stays and could help a guy like Antonio Hamilton.

This secondary has a chance to be very good for a number of years.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Janoris Jenkins, Deandre Baker, Sam Beal, Julian Love, Grant Haley, Corey Ballentine, Jabrill Peppers, Antoine Bethea, Michael Thomas, Sean Chandler

Jun 132019
 
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Julian Love, New York Giants (June 5, 2019)

Julian Love – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS OTA PRACTICE #10 COMPLETE…
The Giants held their tenth and last voluntary organized team activity (OTA) practice on Thursday. No live contact is permitted during OTAs, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are allowed.

The practice was not open to the media, but Giants.com provided the following summaries of the action:

This marks the end of the Giants’ 9-week offseason program for the veterans. Rookies will stick around one more week before also breaking. Rookies report to summer training camp on July 22 and veterans on July 24. The first summer training camp practice will be on July 25.

ARTICLES…

Mar 192019
 
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Bennie Fowler, New York Giants (November 25, 2018)

Bennie Fowler – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS RE-SIGN BENNIE FOWLER, TONY LIPPETT, ZAK DEOSSIE…
The New York Giants have officially announced the re-signing of unrestricted free agents wide receiver Bennie Fowler, cornerback Tony Lippett, and long-snapper Zak DeOssie. It had earlier been reported that Lippett and DeOssie had already agreed to terms. Lippett signed a 1-year, $810,000 contract.

After signing late with the Giants in October 2018, Fowler surprisingly played in 10 games with five starts, finishing the year with 16 catches for 199 yards and one touchdown. The 6’1”, 212-pound Fowler originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Denver Broncos after the 2014 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Broncos (2014-2017), Chicago Bears (2018), and New England Patriots (2018). Fowler has played in 55 regular-season games with 10 starts. He has 72 career catches for 897 yards and six touchdowns.

The Giants signed Lippett in to the 53-man roster in October 2018. He ended up playing in three games, with no starts, and was exposed in coverage. A former wide receiver, the 6’3”, 192-pound Lippett was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. In three years with the Dolphins, from 2015 to 2017, Lippett played in 25 regular-season games with 13 starts. He missed all of the 2017 season with with a torn Achilles’ tendon. The Dolphins cut Lippett before the 2018 season started.

DeOssie is one of the NFL’s most consistent long snappers, being voted to the Pro Bowl in 2008 and 2010. DeOssie was drafted as a linebacker by the Giants in the 4th round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He is now strictly a special teams player. In his 12 NFL seasons, DeOssie has only missed four games (all in 2015 with a wrist injury). Aside from his long snapping duties, DeOssie also excels in punt coverage.

MORE DAVE GETTLEMAN MEDIA INTERVIEWS FROM MONDAY…
Aside from New York Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman’s media conference call on Monday, he also participated in the following media events on the same day:

CURTIS RILEY VISITS THE GREEN BAY PACKERS…
New York Giants unrestricted free agent free safety Curtis Riley visited the Green Bay Packers on Monday. The Giants signed Riley as an unrestricted free agent from the Tennessee Titans in March 2018. Riley surprisingly started all 16 games at free safety, finishing with 75 tackles, 5 pass defenses, and 4 interceptions (including one returned for a touchdown). However, he was often a liability against both the run and the pass.

The 6’0”, 190-pound Riley was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Titans as a cornerback after the 2015 NFL Draft. Riley spent his rookie season on Injured Reserve with an ankle injury. He played in four games in 2016 and seven games in 2017 with no starts.

Mar 142019
 
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Golden Tate, Philadelphia Eagles (December 3, 2018)

Golden Tate – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN GOLDEN TATE…
The New York Giants have signed unrestricted free agent wide receiver Golden Tate (Philadelphia Eagles). The deal is reportedly a 4-year, $37.5 million contract that includes $23 million guaranteed money.

The 30-year old, 5’10”, 197-pound Tate was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. He has spent time with the Seahawks (2010-2013), Detroit Lions (2014-2018), and Eagles (2018). In nine NFL seasons, Tate has played in 137 regular-season games with 100 starts, accruing 611 catches for 7,214 yards and 38 touchdowns. He made the Pro Bowl in 2014. Last season, for the Lions and Eagles, Tate caught 74 passes for 795 yards and four touchdowns. Tate is ideally suited for the slot position. He is dangerous after the catch.

NEW YORK GIANTS RE-SIGN ANTONIO HAMILTON AND TONY LIPPETT…
The New York Giants have re-signed unrestricted free agent cornerbacks Antonio Hamilton and Tony Lippett. Both reportedly signed 1-year contracts. Hamilton was not tendered by the Giants as a restricted free agent.

The 6’0, 190-pound Hamilton was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Oakland Raiders after the 2016 NFL Draft. He played in 12 regular-season games with no starts for the Raiders. The Giants claimed Hamilton off of waivers from the Raiders in September 2018. He played in 13 games for the Giants with no starts, accruing six tackles on special teams. The Giants placed Hamilton on Injured Reserve in December 2018 with a quad injury.

A former wide receiver, the 6’3”, 192-pound Lippett was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. In three years with the Dolphins, from 2015 to 2017, Lippett played in 25 regular-season games with 13 starts. He missed all of the 2017 season with with a torn Achilles’ tendon. The Dolphins cut Lippett before the 2018 season started. The Giants signed Lippett in to the 53-man roster in October 2018. He ended up playing in three games, with no starts, and was exposed in coverage.

CINCINNATI BENGALS SIGN B.W. WEBB…
The Cincinnati Bengals have signed New York Giants unrestricted free agent cornerback B.W. Webb. The Giants signed journeyman B.W. Webb in March 2018 after he was cut by the Cleveland Browns. Webb not only made the team, but he had his best pro season, surprisingly starting 13 of the 16 games he played in, and finishing with 59 tackles, 1 sack, 6 pass defenses, 1 interception, and 1 forced fumble. Webb did a decent job for most of the season before fading late, giving up a number of big plays.

The 5’11”, 190-pound Webb was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. Webb has spent time with the Dallas Cowboys (2013), Pittsburgh Steelers (2014), Tennessee Titans (2015), New Orleans Saints (2016), Chicago Bears (2017), and Browns (2017). Webb has played 65 regular-season games with 23 starts.

NEW YORK GIANTS FREE AGENT WHISPERS…
Here are the latest reports and rumors on the free agent front:

  • NFL.com is reporting that free agent offensive lineman Mike Remmers, who was cut by the Minnesota Vikings earlier this week, is visiting the Giants today. The 29-year old, 6’5”, 310-pound Remmers was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Denver Broncos after the 2012 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Broncos (2012), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012–2013), San Diego Chargers (2013), Vikings (2013), St. Louis Rams (2014), Carolina Panthers (2014–2016), and Vikings again (2017–2018). Remmers has started 59 regular-season games in the last four seasons, missing five games in 2017 with a concussion and lower back issues. While Remmers has experience at both tackle and guard, he played much better at right tackle in 2017 than he did at right guard in 2018.
  • The Daily News is reporting that the Giants have expressed interest in unrestricted free agent wide receiver Chris Hogan (New England Patriots). The 31-year old, 6’1”, 210-pound Hogan was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the San Francisco 49ers after the 2011 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the 49ers (2011), Giants (2011), Miami Dolphins (2011–2012), Buffalo Bills (2012–2015), and Patriots (2016–2018). Hogan has played in 88 regular-season games with 34 starts. In the last five years, he’s averaged 37 catches, 505 yards, and 3.6 touchdowns per season. Hogan has averaged a respectable 13.5 yards per catch. He is deceptively athletic, runs good routes, and has good hands. Good special teams player.
  • TheAthletic is reporting that the Giants are interested in unrestricted free agent linebacker Markus Golden (Arizona Cardinals). The 28-year old, 6’3”, 260-pound Golden was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cardinals. Versatile, he has played both defensive end and linebacker at the pro level. In four seasons, Golden has played in 46 regular-season games with 24 starts. Golden’s break-out season was in 2016 at linebacker when he accrued 51 tackles and 12.5 sacks. He missed 12 games in 2017 with an ACL injury. While he returned in 2018, he missed five games and saw his production slip to 30 tackles and 2.5 sacks. (LATE UPDATE: The Giants signed Golden to a 1-year contract).
  • ProFootballTalk.com is reporting that New York Giants unrestricted free agent defensive end Mario Edwards visited the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday. The Giants claimed Edwards off of waivers from the Oakland Raiders in September 2018. He served as a primary back-up, playing in 15 games with no starts, and finishing the year with 14 tackles, 2 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. The 6’3”, 280-pound Edwards was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Raiders. He missed most of 2016 with a hip injury. In three years with the Raiders, Edwards played in 30 regular-season games with 24 starts.

ANTOINE BETHEA ADDRESSES THE MEDIA…
Safety Antoine Bethea, who the New York Giants signed on Tuesday to a 2-year deal after he was cut by the Arizona Cardinals, addressed the media on Thursday. The transcript is available in The Corner Forum.

Feb 282019
 
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Landon Collins, New York Giants (October 7, 2018)

Landon Collins – © USA TODAY Sports

Only a few years ago, in 2016, the secondary of the New York Giants was not only considered the strength of the defense, but probably one of the better secondaries in Giants’ team history. Three Giants defensive backs were legitimately named to the All-Pro team that year: Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Landon Collins, the latter making a strong run for “Defensive Player of the Year” honors. The Giants finished 10th in total defense that season and 2nd in scoring defense.

But the secondary has quickly deteriorated since that high point. Despite continuing to earn League honors, Collins has obviously regressed and not made the same impact, also finishing the past two years on IR. Jenkins missed half the season in 2017 and did not play as well in 2018. Rodgers-Cromartie stopped making plays and was cut in March 2018. Making matters worse was that the surrounding talent in the secondary and arguably across the entire defensive unit has gotten worse. As a result, the Giants finished 24th in total defense and 23rd in scoring defense in 2018.

Once you got the past the headliners in Jenkins and Collins, the rest of the defensive back crew was a nondescript group of no-names and castoffs. The Giants admitted to another draft disaster, trading Eli Apple, the 10th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, to the New Orleans Saints for 4th- and 7th-round picks in late October. The rest of the unit was manned by players such as B.W. Webb, Grant Haley, Antonio Hamilton, Tony Lippett, Curtis Riley, Donte Deayon (waived in October), Michael Jordan (waived in October), Michael Thomas, Sean Chandler, Kenny Ladler, and Kamrin Moore. Who? Most fans never heard of any of these guys before 2018 and most of them will probably not be on the team in 2019. In a way, it’s a minor miracle that the secondary was not more abused than it actually was.

In a nutshell, strong safety Collins was disappointing and had issues in coverage. Riley was terrible at free safety. Reserve safety Thomas was a good special teams player, but not starting material. Jenkins was decent but still gave up too many big plays. Webb surprisingly held his own for much of the season, but really faded down the stretch. Undrafted rookie free agent Grant showed some promise as a nickel corner but didn’t make many plays on the football.

CORNERBACKS

While Janoris Jenkins did not have one of better seasons, giving up a number of big plays in 2018, he still remains one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL. Jenkins started all 16 games and finished with 70 tackles, 15 pass defenses, 2 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble. Jenkins was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. The Giants signed him as unrestricted free agent in March 2016. In his first season with the Giants, Jenkins had his best season to date, being voted to his first Pro Bowl and his first All-Pro (second-team) selection. He missed seven games in 2017 with an ankle injury that had bothered him much of the season and required surgery. Jenkins is an average-sized corner with excellent speed and quickness and the ability to shut down any wide receiver when on top of his game. He is not a physical run defender and sometimes shies away from contact.

The Giants signed journeyman B.W. Webb in March 2018 after he was cut by the Cleveland Browns. Webb not only made the team, but he had his best pro season, surprisingly starting 13 of the 16 games he played in, and finishing with 59 tackles, 1 sack, 6 pass defenses, 1 interception, and 1 forced fumble. Webb did a decent job for most of the season before fading late, giving up a number of big plays. The 5’11”, 190-pound Webb was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. Webb has spent time with the Dallas Cowboys (2013), Pittsburgh Steelers (2014), Tennessee Titans (2015), New Orleans Saints (2016), Chicago Bears (2017), and Browns (2017). Webb has played 65 regular-season games with 23 starts.

Grant Haley was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. He was signed to the Practice Squad in September 2018 and the 53-man roster in October 2018. Grant ended up being the team’s nickel corner, playing in 10 games with nine starts, and finishing the season with 33 tackles and 2 pass defenses. Haley is a short, but well-built corner with plays with good speed and aggression. He needs to make more plays on the football.

The Giants placed Antonio Hamilton on Injured Reserve in December 2018 with a quad injury. The 6’0, 190-pound Hamilton was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Oakland Raiders after the 2016 NFL Draft. He played in 12 regular-season games with no starts for the Raiders. The Giants claimed Hamilton off of waivers from the Raiders in September 2018. He played in 13 games for the Giants with no starts, accruing six tackles on special teams.

The Giants signed Tony Lippett in to the 53-man roster in October 2018. He ended up playing in three games, with no starts, and was exposed in coverage. A former wide receiver, the 6’3”, 192-pound Lippett was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. In three years with the Dolphins, from 2015 to 2017, Lippett played in 25 regular-season games with 13 starts. He missed all of the 2017 season with with a torn Achilles’ tendon. The Dolphins cut Lippett before the 2018 season started.

SAFETIES

Despite being voted to the Pro Bowl three times from 2016-2018, Landon Collins has not been able to replicate his breakout performance in 2016. He finished both 2017 and 2018 on Injured Reserve, first with a fractured forearm and then with a partially-torn rotator cuff. Both injuries required surgery. On top of the injury issues, Collins has struggled more in coverage against better athletes. In 2018, Collins started all 12 games he played in, finishing with 96 tackles, 4 pass defenses, and 1 forced fumble. Collins was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Giants. During his All-Pro 2016 season, Collins started every game and finished the year with 125 tackles, four sacks, 13 pass defenses, and five interceptions. Collins is a big, tough, physical safety who lacks ideal quickness and recovery speed and thus is better suited for strong safety. He did not make many plays on the football in 2018. Collins is good hitter and tackler and plays the run very well.

The Giants signed Curtis Riley as an unrestricted free agent from the Tennessee Titans in March 2018. Riley surprisingly started all 16 games at free safety, finishing with 75 tackles, 5 pass defenses, and 4 interceptions (including one returned for a touchdown). However, he was often a liability against both the run and the pass. The 6’0”, 190-pound Riley was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Titans as a cornerback after the 2015 NFL Draft. Riley spent his rookie season on Injured Reserve with an ankle injury. He played in four games in 2016 and seven games in 2017 with no starts. While Riley is a former cornerback with good athleticism for the safety position, he lacks the instincts, aggressiveness, and physicality required to play safety in the NFL.

The Giants signed Michael Thomas as an unrestricted free agent from the Miami Dolphins in March 2018. Thomas not only played in all 16 games, but surprisingly made six starts at safety. He finished the season with 59 tackles, 1 sack, 6 pass defenses, 2 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble. Thomas also played in his first Pro Bowl as a special teams alternate. The 5’11”, 195-pound Thomas was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the San Francisco 49ers after the 2012 NFL Draft. After spending most of two seasons on the 49ers’ Practice Squad, Thomas was signed to the 53-man roster of the Dolphins in December 2013. In five seasons in Miami, Thomas played in 56 games with 25 starts. A team leader and good locker room presence, Thomas has served as special teams captain with both the Dolphins and Giants. While he is an aggressive, physical player, Thomas lacks the overall athleticism to be a viable NFL starter at safety. He only has 12 career pass defenses.

The Giants signed Sean Chandler as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. Chandler made the team and played in all 16 games with no starts. He finished the year with 18 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 pass defense. Chandler lacks ideal size and speed, but he is an aggressive, physical defensive back and special teams player.

The Giants signed Kenny Ladler to the Practice Squad in November 2018 and the 53-man roster in December 2018. He ended up playing in three games with no starts, accruing three tackles. The 6’1”, 200-pound Ladler was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Buffalo Bills after the 2014 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Bills (2014-2015), Edmonton Eskimos (2016-2017), and Washington Redskins (2018). Ladler has played in 10 regular-season NFL games with no starts. Five of those games came with the Redskins in 2018 before the Redskins waived him in November.

The Giants claimed Kamrin Moore off of waivers from the New Orleans Saints in September 2018. He played in two games with no starts for the Giants. The 5’11’, 200-pound Moore was drafted in the 6th round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints.

NOT ON THE ACTIVE ROSTER

The Giants placed Sam Beal on Injured Reserve in July 2018 with a shoulder injury that required surgery. The Giants selected Beal in the 3rd round of the Supplemental Draft in July 2018. Beal combines good body length (6’1”, 185 pounds) and overall athleticism (4.5 in the 40-yard dash). He’s a smooth, natural cover corner who can flip his hips and has quick feet. Beal does need to improve his run defense.

The Giants signed Ronald Zamort to the Practice Squad in October 2018. The 5’10”, 174-pound Zamort originally signed with the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft.

Oct 252018
 
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Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (October 22, 2018)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS ROSTER MOVES…
The New York Giants have signed wide receiver Corey Coleman and cornerback Tony Lippett to the 53-man roster. The Giants also signed safety A.J. Howard to the Practice Squad.

The Giants signed Coleman to the Practice Squad on October 18th. The 5’11”, 185-pound Coleman was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. An injury-plagued bust in Cleveland, Coleman has also had brief stints with the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots in 2018. Coleman has played in 19 NFL games with 18 starts, accruing 56 catches for 718 yards and five touchdowns.

The 26-year old, 6’3”, 192-pound Lippett was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. In three years with the Dolphins, from 2015 to 2017, Lippett played in 25 regular-season games with 13 starts. He missed all of the 2017 season with with a torn Achilles’ tendon. The Dolphins cut Lippett before the 2018 season started.

The 22-year old, 5’11, 203-pound Howard originally signed with the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. The Cardinals released him in early September.

NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Not practicing on Thursday due to injury were linebacker Alec Ogletree (hamstring) and wide receiver Jawill Davis (concussion).

Guard Patrick Omameh (knee) and wide receiver Russell Shepard (neck) were limited.

THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The Giants practice on Friday in preparation for Sunday’s home against against the Washington Redskins.

Apr 022015
 
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Amari Cooper, Alabama Crimson Tide (November 8, 2014)

Amari Cooper – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Wide Receivers

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*Below are my published, abbreviated reports via Ourlads Scouting Services, LLC

**A note about Pro Upside Comparisons: These are comparisons that are based on the player reaching his ceiling. It does not necessarily mean I believe the player will “be as good as”.

CURRENT WRs ON NYG ROSTER

Odell Beckham – 23 Years old – Signed through 2017

Victor Cruz – 29 Years old – Signed through 2018

Rueben Randle – 24 Years old – Signed through 2015

Preston Parker – 28 Years old – Signed through 2015

Dwayne Harris – 28 Years old – Signed through 2019

Kevin Ogletree – 28 Years old – Signed through 2015

Corey Washington – 24 Years old – Signed through 2016

Marcus Harris – 26 Years old – Signed through 2015

Julian Talley – 26 Years old – Signed through 2016

Chris Harper – 26 Years old – Signed through 2015

Juron Criner – 26 Years old – Signed through 2016

WHERE THEY STAND

This is a position that could rightfully be considered a major strength for the team or a liability based on who you ask. Beckham came out of his rookie season giving NYG fans a reason to hope that they may finally have an elite level playmaker at the position. While the sophomore struggles are fairly common among NFL wide receivers, there is something about him that just screams yearly production. He has ‘special’ written all over him. Cruz is the wildcard of this group and his return from a nasty knee injury as he approaches 29 years old is a major factor in how well this passing game can maintain an upward trend. If he returns anything close to 100% of what he was, NYG has one of the better 1-2 punches at WR in the league. Randle is only 24 years old and has disappointed as much as he has impressed but nobody can argue that there is still a ceiling with him that hasn’t been reached. He could be poised for a breakout year but the consistency needs to be there in his year 4 season. Beyond those three, there are a bunch of relative unknowns but some of these guys really have shown something more than just potential. Dwayne Harris was signed for his special teams prowess but with that contract, NYG brass may like his skill set enough to get 15+ snaps per game at WR. Parker showed he can contribute from multiple angles but even though I love his story, he is a replaceable player. Marcus Harris was my favorite under the radar WR last preseason, I think he can stick if he returns to form from his injury. Ogletree, Washington, Talley, Harper, and Criner are all training camp bodies that offer their own set of unique tools and skills but in reality should not be impacting NYG’s draft weekend decisions.

TOP 20 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – Amari Cooper – Alabama – 6’1/211 – 87

Pro Upside Comparison: Reggie Wayne/RET

Strong Points: Highly skilled, talented athlete that can do everything you want out of a receiver. Quick accelerator, goes form 0-60 in a blink. Elite route runner with quickness in to and out of his breaks. Consistently runs his way open. Reliable, strong hands that plucks the ball out of the air. Elite ball skills and tracking ability. Can chase down a deep ball and position his body to shield a defender from getting in the way. Physical with the ball in his hands, has a running back-type approach with low pad level and strong leg drive. Fearless in traffic and has a strong power presence as a blocker. Reliable as an underneath and deep target. Combines almost all of the essential traits at once no matter what the play call is.

Weak Points: Plays the game so hard and takes way too many hits. His not so serious, but nagging, injuries are starting to pile up. Doesn’t have the elite deep speed to run away from defensive backs or consistently knife through a secondary. Will show lapses in concentration as a receiver and try to run before seeing the ball in.

Summary: All-American receiver and the 2014 Heisman Runner Up. Winner of the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top wide receiver. Cooper is an elite level prospect that will be NFL-ready the day he steps on to the field. He is one of the best route runners to come out of college and he combines that with an aggressive, highly skilled pass catching ability. He is quicker than he is fast, but he has more than enough athleticism to factor as an explosive playmaker in the NFL from day one. The sky is the limit for Cooper as long as he can avoid the injuries that come from such an aggressive style of play.

*I’ve been pretty consistent with my view of Cooper and how I think NYG should approach him. If he is available when they are on the clock, every other plan goes out the window and they should bring him in. Cooper is not a necessity for this offense but he is the perfect compliment to Beckham for the end of Manning’s career. Whether Cruz returns to his former self or not, Cooper fits this offense. He is an NFL-ready route runner with NFL-caliber ball skills and yard-after-catch ability. There isn’t anything he struggles with. The only reason he isn’t elite (90+) is the amount of times he has been nicked up due to his style of play. It is my only concern with him.

2 – Kevin White – West Virginia – 6’3/215 – 85

Pro Upside Comparison: Julio Jones/ATL

Strong Points: Quick and explosive off the snap. Can get off press coverage with a blend of strength and quick-twitch movement. Physical hands catcher. The ball is swallowed by his hands upon contact. Easy change of direction, fluid hips and light feet. Fiery competitor. Reliable and tough in traffic. Can get to the ball at the apex of his leap and will win the majority of one on one situations. Can adjust his momentum and balance on the move. Reacts to the ball fast and easy. Aggressive after the catch and shows running back type tendencies with the ball in his hands. Can outmuscle, outfight most defensive backs.

Weak Points: Doesn’t pay attention to the details when it comes to route running. Wasn’t given a full route tree and doesn’t have a lot of experience reading coverage and running options routes. Doesn’t play to his timed speed. Separation from more athletic cornerbacks is inconsistent. Lacks smooth and effortless movement ability. Effort as a blocker doesn’t match his effort as a receiver.

Summary: Spent two seasons with the Mountaineers after a two year run at Lackawanna College. Had some maturity issues during his pre-West Virginia career. White broke out in a huge way in 2014 including a masterful performance against Alabama week 1. His blend of size, speed, and aggression make him a legit downfield threat each play. White can beat a defense several ways. He has more than enough speed and quickness to pair with his ball skills. He is a tough matchup for any kind of cover man. He can be a day one starter for half the teams in the league if his route running is on par.

*I wouldn’t necessarily argue against those that say White has a higher ceiling than Cooper. His triangle numbers (height/weight/speed) are better by a nice margin and he is a much more aggressive, power-based type athlete. He would scare an opposing defense more than Cooper. If he is there at #9, there is a very small amount of players I would take over him. White is a top 5 overall guy in this class, perhaps even top 3. I think he will need more development time than Cooper, as he can be a pretty sloppy route runner and he doesn’t show the natural awareness and feel for the game. I am getting way ahead of myself and perhaps I shouldn’t…but part of me would be worried about the personalities of White and Beckham being on the field together. They both have a little “diva” in them.

3 – Nelson Agholor – USC – 6’0/198 – 81

Pro Upside Comparison: Jeremy Maclin/KC

Strong Points: Quick and efficient mover with body control and balance. Explosive route runner, gets in and out of breaks with speed. Can change direction while moving at full force. Smooth receiver with elite ball skills. Pure hands catcher. Comes down with a lot of passes in traffic. Excels at running the underneath routes and showing no hesitation over the middle in extending his body to reach the ball. Incredibly savvy when it comes to reading the defense and finding lanes. Tough to bring down in the open field, slippery to tacklers. Polished receiver that does almost everything well.

Weak Points: Top end speed is just average. Has a hard time getting deep separation from defensive backs. Won’t outrun a secondary. Takes a lot of hits with his overly aggressive running style while in possession of the ball. Lacks the size and length that you want out of an outside receiver. Doesn’t have any of the “wow” factor to his game.

Summary: School record setting punt returner with a very well-developed NFL caliber skill set. Easy mover in space with the ability to run himself open against any kind of coverage. Agholor is a reliable underneath target that can make things happen with the ball in his hands. He lacks the ideal size and long speed that the elite receivers possess, but he can a key contributor within an NFL offense. He has a heady approach to the game and plays at a very quick, jitterbug type pace. His role as a receiver may be restricted to the slot positions but he is as reliable as it gets and he grades out very well as a return specialist.

*The more I saw of Agholor as the offseason progressed, the more I became intrigued by his pro potential. I’ve said this before and I will say it again. If you like Cooper a lot, you almost have to like Agholor. He isn’t on the same level but they are similar-type receivers. Agholor is dangerous with the ball in his hands, he’s tough over the middle, he can consistently run himself open. He had a couple performances on tape that most WRs in this class couldn’t put together. In addition, he may be the best punt returner in the class. Out of Marquise Lee, Robert Woods, and Agholor, I am taking Agholor every day.

4 – Jaelen Strong – Arizona State – 6’2/217 – 80

Pro Upside Comparison: Jordan Matthews/PHI

Strong Points: Big and physical. Can outmuscle most defensive backs that try to mix it up with him. Productive pass catcher in traffic. Tall and thick with huge hands. Long strider that can run away from a secondary when he has the ball in his hands. High on-field IQ, reads the defense and makes quick decisions and reactions. A weapon in traffic. Shows no hesitation in going after the ball over the middle in a prone position to be hit. High points the ball. Hard runner after the catch . Tough for a lone defensive back to bring down. Can plant his foot and change direction. Quick change of direction. Strong blocker that takes pride in that part of the game.

Weak Points: Rounds his routes when moving laterally. Lacks the explosion out of his breaks. Top end speed may be average. Doesn’t show the elusive ability to miss tacklers with the ball in his hands. Will let the ball in to his body. Still has some raw tendencies to his game as a pass catcher.

Summary: Junior entry. Former JUCO player that spent two years at ASU, leading the Sun Devils in receiving both seasons. Strong plays a big. Physical game with some sneaky athletic ability. He has elite upside with his combination of size, strength, speed, and ball skills. He is a weapon on 3rd down and near the end zone with his ability in traffic to go up and get the ball. Strong has a versatile tool and skill set that does need to be smoothed around the edges, but his potential and current level of play should get him drafted very high.

*For awhile I had Strong up there with Cooper and White. I love big guys that compete before and after the catch the way Strong does. He can come in to the league day one and match the physical nature of any defensive back in the league. He is big, tough, and long and knows how to use his body. Part of me thinks that if NYG wants to go with an early round WR, Strong is the type of guy they should bring in to compliment what is already on the roster. He won’t make a top 9 overall grade but I doubt he will be there with their second selection. If he drops to their second, he would be an outstanding addition to the passing game. He is made for this kind of scheme. His main issue is he may need more time to develop than what NYG fans want to deal with based on the lack of routes he ran at ASU.

5 – DeVante Parker – Louisville – 6’3/209 – 78

Pro Upside Comparison: AJ Green/CIN

Strong Points: Tool-happy receiver with a well developed skill set. Good game speed, able to break free from a pack and outrun defensive backs. Can get behind a secondary on deep routes. Can burst out of a still position and get in to his long, fast strides quickly. Elite ball skills. Huge hands that swallow the ball upon contact. Great eye-hand coordination, consistently grabs the ball away from his body. Craft and savvy after the catch, knows where to run and when to make cuts. Strong presence, can hold his ground and maintain power in traffic. A threat all over the field that can run himself open as well as reach the ball first in traffic.

Weak Points: Loses some of his athleticism when tracking the ball. Will struggle to separate underneath on quick routes. His change of direction with the ball in his hands is slow. Foot injury forced him to miss 7 games in 2014. Has a bit of a lanky frame and will move with some imbalance and lack of stability at times.

Summary: Despite missing the first 7 games of the 2014 season with a broken foot, Parker had a dominant run to end his career. He started off hot right away as a freshman in 2011 and hasn’t looked back since. Parker has legit deep speed with long, powerful strides. His hands and ball skills are in the elite tier and he has an enormous catch radius. His height and long arms with big hands will favor him in the NFL. Teams will need to look deeper in to his injury from the early fall and confirm that he can move without issues. There is still some physical development that needs to happen here, but Parker has elite potential.

*Based on his tools, set of skills, and style of play Parker could be a nice fit for NYG in round 2. Like Strong, he brings the necessary triangle numbers to the table that the offense could use to balance out what they currently have. Nobody can argue the level of dominance Parker showed when he returned from injury in 2014. My only grip with him, and it’s one I saw every time I scouted him, is a lack of quick twitch, reaction, and suddenness. He almost always appears to be a step behind or a step too slow when it comes to the quicker elements to the game. Is he just that smooth? I don’t think so. I’ve seen WRs like this before and when they are put in to the blend of speed, quickness, and physical nature of the NFL they end up caving. It just scares me a little and is the main reason I don’t have him as a top 20 overall guy. I still like Parker as a round 2 option but only behind the guys above him on this list.

6 – Devin Smith – Ohio State – 6’0/196 – 78

Pro Upside Comparison: Torrey Smith/SF

Strong Points: Big play threat with elite-level speed and explosion. Efficient mover that moves with grace and balance. Easy acceleration and burst. Comfortable hands catcher. Smooth process for him to bring the ball in. Tremendous coordination from head to toe, very body-aware. Adjusts to where the ball is thrown with ease. Can set up defensive backs and trick them in to being out of position to flip their hips and run deep. Competitive, fiery player that displays passion for the game on and off the field. Physically and mentally tough. Will make a difference as a blocker via effort and intensity.

Weak Points: One trick pony. Doesn’t make much of an impact other than running deep route. Ran a limited route tree in college. Doesn’t run routes as well as his athleticism says he should. Doesn’t break a lot of tackles, won’t play with a power presence. Can be jammed at the point of attack. Doesn’t show a variety of ways to get off the line against press coverage.

Summary: Smith is one of the fastest players in the country and should be considered a top tier deep threat coming from speed and explosion. He has shown the consistent ability to run by anyone, even the fastest defensive backs that college football had to offer. Averaged over 27 yards per catch in 2014. Also is an accomplished Track and Field athlete, starring in the high jump. Smith has a rare blend of speed and body control. He moves so well and makes it look so smooth. He is an impact athlete with some developed football skills. He will need to improve his route running if he wants to be more than a guy that just knifes through a defense.

*So back in September I watched Smith twice. This was before Beckham broke out the way he did and both games I wrote down notes including similar movement ability to NYG’s Beckham. Now I don’t want to compare the two as receivers, but there is something about Smith that screams potential star to me. His body control and movement aesthetics are elite. His ability get behind the defense is elite. His ball skills downfield in one on one situations are elite. Smith is a little bit of a one trick pony right now, as there are holes in his game as an underneath route runner and receiver that needs to get off press coverage. Reese has always loved guys that can knife through a secondary and Smith may be the best of the class in that category.

7 – Tony Lippett – Michigan State – 6’2/192 – 77

Pro Upside Comparison: Stevie Johnson/SD

Strong Points: Long and wiry athlete with big hands. Smart player that can read coverages and adjust on the move. Incredibly savvy before and after the catch, has eyes on the back of his head. Gets off the line with ease. Can press the corner or dance around him, does a nice job of mixing it up. Light and easy feet. Accelerates quickly, can get open underneath. Explosive deep route runner. Easy hands catcher, will swallow the ball on contact. Makes all the tough catches in traffic. Can out-athlete most defenders. Plays a fast and aggressive game.

Weak Points: Needs to spend time in the weight room. Too often did physical play knock him off his game. Doesn’t make seamless lateral cuts as a route runner. Has to slow down too much when changing direction. Might be a straight line athlete only. Won’t be an impact blocker.

Summary: Fifth year senior. Finished his career strong, winning Big 10 receiver of the year and team MVP honors. Lippett is an interesting prospect. He shows the necessary tools to be a playmaker in the NFL on offense with a nice blend of height, length, and ball skills. When the team needed an extra cornerback however, it was Lippett that stepped up and performed admirably. Lippett is as smart and instinctive as you’ll find at the college level. His movement after the catch is seamless and he consistently tricks the defensive backfield with double and decoy routes. He has all the tools of a starting caliber, productive receiver and his approach couldn’t be better. Lippett is a darkhorse prospect worth looking in to early.

*I am really surprised that there aren’t more people talking about Lippett as a potential star player in the NFL. He is very tools-rich and shows an interesting skill set that a lot of other guys in this class lack. He is physical enough, smart enough, and selfless enough to have played both sides of the ball. Some scouts have said he can play a legit CB in the NFL. I like how he tracks the ball downfield and there is an element of toughness to him that I want out of a WR. NYG has gone tools-rich on a lot of their WR prospects. This guy has some goods but a lack of top end speed may get him drafted day three, an outstanding value.

8 – Chris Conley – Georgia – 6’2/213 – 77

Pro Upside Comparison: Roddy White/ATL

Strong Points: Strong and physical receiver that can outmuscle defensive backs as well as knife through the top of a secondary. Long reach and big, strong hands. Gets off the line fast and hard. Quick change of direction. Gets his head around and hands up quickly. Smooth pass catcher, controls the ball on contact. Elite body control in traffic and near the sideline. Has a physical presence as a blocker, makes the effort to make an impact without the ball.

Weak Points: Struggles to separate from man coverage. Won’t outrun defensive backs with the ball in his hands. Doesn’t show the agility with the ball in his hands to shake defenders and break free. Average suddenness, reaction to the defense is often a step behind.

Summary: Fourth year senior that has made steady improvement each season of his career. Led the Bulldogs in receiving in 2013 and 2014. Conley is a smooth operator with the size, strength, and ball skills of a starting caliber NFL wide receiver. He may lack the quick twitch and agility to factor as a threat after the catch, but he consistently made plays downfield with big time speed and explosion and appears to understand the mental side of the game very well. He will make a roster and work his way in to a rotation in due time.

*I have to admit I was upset when Conley showed up at Indianapolis and put on an absolute freak show. Since October he has been one of my favorite under the radar prospects in this overall class. Then he goes out and runs a 4.35 40 and leads all WRs in the vertical and broad jump by wide margins respectively. On the field, Conley is a physical player that can out-physical most defensive backs. He is really good near the sidelines and in the end zone. If NYG wants to add a bigger body to their receiving core, but don’t want to use a 1st or 2nd on it, Conley is on the short list of guys that would present value that also fit the need starting in round 3. Exceptional kid off the field as well.

9 – Phillip Dorsett – Miami – 5’9/185 – 77

Pro Upside Comparison: Antonio Brown/PIT

Strong Points: Top tier speed and explosion. Has elite track speed but is also football fast. Can go from 0-60 in a blink. Knifes through a secondary. Can plant his foot while moving at full force and change direction. Quick to get out of breaks. Can run routes with explosion and elite change of direction ability. Good ball skills, tracks it well and can position his body to make a play on the ball. Can change speed and maintain full body control. Dangerous after the catch, can outrun angles. Strong effort as a blocker, will run downfield and get in the way.

Weak Points: Lack of size hurts him in traffic. Doesn’t come down with a lot of balls when guys are around him. May be limited to just a space player. Doesn’t run routes to his physical capability. Hands aren’t strong, will body catch a lot. Doesn’t play with a savvy sense of where the defense is around him. Physical presence as a blocker is limited. Torn ACL in 2013 ended his season in October.

Summary: Dorsett may be the fastest player in college football. His speed is not just track-based, he knows how to use it functionally. His burst and sudden change of direction make him a tough cover for any lone defensive back. He is the kind of player that an entire defense needs to be aware of. He averaged over 26 yards per catch in 2014. He may not make a play-to-play impact, but he is a guy that keeps opposing defenders up at night because of what he can do with his top tier speed.

*When a player with legit sub 4.3 speed pops up, you can’t help but give him another look. Dorsett is more than a blazer, however. There is actual football speed with him. He can change direction with ease and there is a high level of suddenness to him when he runs routes. He can outrun angles once he has the ball in his hands and combined with good vision, he is a major threat each time he touches the ball. I really like how he bounced back from his ACL injury this past season. He is a legit 2nd/3rd round pick that can impact much more than the return game.

10 – Justin Hardy – East Carolina – 5’10/192 – 76

Pro Upside Comparison: Greg Jennings/MIN

Strong Points: Smart and savvy route runner with precise cuts in and out of his breaks. Big, strong, and reliable hands that swallow the ball. Excellent body control. Can adjust to the poorly thrown ball and come down with it in traffic. Can run himself open consistently. Tracks the ball downfield without losing speed or balance. Quick reaction and movement after the catch.

Weak Points: Doesn’t have that final gear to run away from defensive backs in space. Shorter frame, doesn’t have much of a power presence. Struggles to separate downfield. Limited athlete.

Summary: Hardy is the all time FBS leader in career receptions. He is as sure handed as it gets and can run NFL-caliber routes along with a savvy decision making ability. He doesn’t have the elite speed but his combination of body control, quickness, and agility make him a dangerous threat with the ball in his hands. He is also an experienced punt returner.

*I don’t care what kind of offensive scheme you play in, if you have the kind of production Hardy has over a career, you are worth an extra look. I put a lot of attention on Hardy since the season ended and he has a legit skill set to excel in the NFL from the slot. He is quicker than he is fast but once the pads are on, he is a tough guy to cover. He has the elite suddenness and body control but also knows how to finish off a play with catching ability. NYG loves the prospects with big, sure hands and long arms and despite the lack of top end height, Hardy has both. If this team wants to improve their slot receiving, Hardy is on a short list of guys that can be had on day 2, maybe even early day 3, that can contribute right away.

11 – Mario Alford – West Virginia – 5’8/180 – 76

*More than a speed guy. Alford has elite level explosion indeed but he can run crisp and sharp routes, gets open with ease. Tough after the catch as well.

12 – Austin Hill – Arizona – 6’2/214 – 76

*Might be the toughest yard-after-catch guy in the class. Unfortunate injury in 2013 that took him longer than normal to recover from. May not have the elite speed and quickness but he showed flashes of his dominant 2012 self.

13 – Devin Funchess – Michigan – 6’4/232 – 75

*Big and rangy with superb ball skills. In the right scheme he can be a Jimmy Graham type but he needs to be more physical and willing in traffic. Manning would do well with a WR like this, however.

14 – Rashad Greene – Florida State – 5’11/182 – 75

*Sure handed and reliable underneath route runner. The lack of size is overblown, he is as smooth a receiver you will find and can be a weapon for an offense than relies on WRs getting themselves open via quick routes and savvy reading of the defense.

15 – Samme Coates – Auburn – 6’1/212 – 75

*Tools rich receiver that showed at least one flash per game of a guy that was capable of making a big impact. Lacks the consistent skill set but I think his actual ability was a bit hidden in the Auburn scheme. He will need extra time to develop but there is an upside here that most WRs don’t have.

16 – Dorial Green-Beckham – Oklahoma – 6’5/231 – 74

*If it weren’t for the off-field troubles you are talking about a top 45 overall guy here. But a year-plus away from the game and questionable character, he drops. There are holes in his game too and I don’t think the Calvin Johnson comparisons are fair. He doesn’t have that kind of speed or suddenness or ball skills.

17 – Jamison Crowder – Duke – 5’8/185 – 74

*Put the lack of size to the side and nobody can argue his ability to make things happen. He is explosive with the ball in his hands and there isn’t a defender in the league that can stick to him underneath. Put him in the right offense and you have a Wes Welker clone.

18 – Tyler Lockett – Kansas State – 5’10 – 182 – 74

*Another slot-based prospect that can help the return game in a big way. One of the better route runners in the class and showed the ability to make really tough catches in traffic. For a small guy he plays big in one on one situations.

19 – Kenny Bell – Nebraska – 6’1/197 – 74

*In the right scheme we may be talking about Bell as a top 45 overall guy. He has the athletic tools and NFL ready skill set to be a day three pick that contributes early in his career. Compares favorably to Kenny Stills, another guy that I said would far exceed expectations early in his career.

20 – John Harris – Texas – 6’2/218 – 74

*Probably my top sleeper in the draft. Was a non factor art Texas until his senior year but with the new coaching staff and actual talent at QB, Harris was able to show his sure hands, quick movement, and toughness after the catch. He will out produce several players drafted ahead of him.

TOP UDFA SLEEPER

DeAndre Smelter – Georgia Tech – 6’2/226

*Came to Georgia Tech as a top tier pro baseball prospect, playing OF and P. Was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 2010. Injured his shoulder and turned to football in 2013. Smelter has raw ability that is tough to find. His triangle numbers are as good as it gets, but he is more than just a physical freak. Smelter is a tough, hard nosed player that will do a lot of little things that go unnoticed by the casual fans. His upside can be discussed with some of the top receivers in this class. The torn ACL will put a question mark on his 2015, but teams that want to develop a raw talent will look to Smelter.

NYG APPROACH

For the second year in a row I am saying that the WR class is probably the best I have ever seen. This is a much deeper group than what we saw last year. If this group as a whole can produce like the 2014 one did, NYG would be fortunate to bring one of these guys listed in at some point. While Cooper and White will be at the top of the overall board and a very likely preference at #9 overall, I wouldn’t stress if they were taken prior to them being on the clock. There will be several opportunities to bring in great value throughout the entire weekend.

I wouldn’t label the WR position as one of this team’s needs but in the same breath, it shouldn’t be ignored if the value is put in front of them. This is a league where you can’t have enough playmakers. This is a team that doesn’t have more than a couple legit threats that actually scare a defense. While the quantity of receivers is enough and while there are a couple of young names up there with some interesting upside, if White or Cooper is there at #9, you almost have to bring one of them in. I wouldn’t trade up for either, however. There shouldn’t be a sense of panic if one or both of them are gone before #9 because in all honesty, there is going to be a good value available at WR each time they are on the clock and I would even say they can find an immediate contributor in any of the first 3 or 4 rounds.