Our good friend Jesse Bartolis is killing it over at NFL Mocks. If you’re not checking out his work, you should be. Really good stuff. Jesse answered some questions for us regarding the Giants’ draft and some players to look out for.
1. Giants need a left tackle. Who are the best, and who are some mid to later round finds?
Well that’s interesting you say that because in a New York Times article they wrote: that it was a myth that David Diehl needs to move back to LT, but I disagree with that assessment completely.
But I’m going to spend some time on this question so be prepared for a comprhensive look at the tackles.
There are essentially five first round LT prospects (and 8 legetimate first round OL prospects-though my guess is six go in the first round.
There are three that seem to stand above the rest. One thing I should note that is more than 40 yard dash times, teams love to see long arms and big hands from offensive linemen. And the shorter drills 10 yard dash, 3 cone drill etc that show off change of direction and foot speed are more important the the rest. The broad jump which shows off explosion is also important. Tackle is all about getting your arms and hands into position to guide or move the defender out of the play. Long arms and big hands help with that, so that’s something you should look at when looking at OL.
The highest potential LT is USC’s Tyron Smith, and according to draftinsider.net the New York Giants have Smith very high on their board, which makes sense. He is a beautiful specimen of a man. Absolutely ripped. He’s 6-5 307 pounds with 36 3/8 inch long arms with 11 inch hands, which is absolutely incredible for an Offensive linemen. He is also very athletic and has a good amount of starting experience in college football at a major program (more on that in a second). And is a willing worker.
There are two questions Smith has to answer about himself for teams to draft him early in the draft. The first is he big enough to play Tackle in the N.F.L.?
After reportedly playing in the mid 280 pound range during the season Smith is now up to 307 pounds. Can he maintain that weight under the rigor of the season (which is more conditioning then it is weight training)? That’s a question that has to be asked by teams and answered by Smith. And if they think his weight will dip below 290 during the season that could hurt his draft stock or ability to perform on the field in the N.F.L.
Secondly, and more importantly. At U.S.C. he played RT. Why is this physically gifted monster playing RT instead of LT? The biggests reason are first he lacks great football instincts and can be a bit late finding his man on blitzes, which could be a big issue for especially when facing complicated blitzes and defenses. But there are no questions that he has the feet and athletic ability to play LT in the N.F.L. The second issues is that Smith was behind good players at LT so they just moved him to RT and kept him there.
But with the Giants excellent OL coach, Smith would be an ideal fit for the Giants with his talent, problem is the Cowboys (9th overall) and the Vikings (12th overall) have both shown a very heavy interest in Smith and it seems unlikely he’ll be available at 19th overall. I’m not worried about the size, and I’ve seen enough for him to be like him. He’s very strong functionally and can be a punishing run blocker, or was at the college level.
Smith is this year’s J.P.P. where people think Boom or bust product, but I think he’s even more safe than J.P.P because he can play LT or RT and was very good in college. There seems to be no questions regarding his intelligence either (remember there was a controversy about JPP’s low wonderlic score) even if there are questions about his instincts that can be improved if he has the ability to learn. No noted work ethic concerns either. He’s also a young prospect. He won’t turn 21 until next December.
The second tackle is Nate Solder.
Solder is also a huge man, but he’s so big it becomes a problem. Teams don’t like OT to be really tall because at some point the height becomes a disadvantage because it’s hard to bend low enough to maintain leverage (and think about a 6-8 man trying to bend down to Trent Cole or Brandon Graham coming low off the edge). Hakeem Nicks has bigger hands than Solder which is a bit of a turn off (even if Nicks has Clown hands) at 9 7/8 inch hands for Solder. I mentioned Tyron Smith had 36 3/8 inch arms at 6’5. Solder has 35 1/2 inch long arms, more than a full inch shorter than Smith, that should tell you something about how long Smith’s arms are and how big his hands are..
Solder has a nice game and I wouldn’t mind him for the Giants. He’s very athletic for his size and was productive in college. Really the height and hands are the biggest turn offs.
The third is Anthony Castanzo.
Castanzo is an excellent technician and pass blocker. There are questions about Castanzo’s strength and his run blocking ability. But teams feel he can be an elite pass blocker very capable of handling the new breed of speed rushers in the league. They worry about his ability to stop bull rushers, but those are fewer and farer between now a days, especially at RDE.
The more you read from people who have access and sources in the league, the more it seems like Castanzo is the #2 tackle, behind Smith’s potential and ahead of Solder. He’s only an inch shorter than Solder (6-7), but that’s much more preferred and his hands are good size at 10 5/8 inches. I think the Giants will consider and like Castanzo, but I think too much is being made out of the Coughlin/Castanzo connection is overplayed.
One note though is that reportedly the Lions favorite OL prospect is Castanzo so that’s a spot he could go in the first round (13th overall).
As for the rest of the first round prospects.
Gabe Carimi-Carimi is an absolute mauler in the run game. Carimi also has a very confident personality he’s said, more than once, that he’s the best tackle in the class, and not with subltey. He’s also said teams have him as the first tackle off the board (I don’t buy that). Carimi has adequate feet as a pass blocker, but is best suited at the RT Spot, though with the way the Giants play they could consider him at LT. He’s also 6’7, 35 inch length arms, and 10 3/8 inch hands (again highlighting how unusually small Solder’s hands are). The problem with Carimi is he lacks the fluid hips to be a great pass blocker. I think he’s a RT only. An easy comparision for Giants fans is Carimi plays like a younger, better, David Diehl (not the best comparision but an easy one). Teams are hesitant to pull the trigger on RT in the first round, but Carimi is an exception because he looks like a future Pro-Bowl RT.
I like Sherrod more than most. At the end of the college football season Sherrod was considered the best OT in the class (with the caveat that Smith wasn’t declaring). What happened between then and now? Nothing.
Sherrod is 6’5 321 pounds 35 3/8 inch long arms and 11 inch hands. His stock is all over the board. NFl.com/combine his profile says he’s a “day 3 pick” which seems crazy to me. Wes Bunting has him as the 21st overall best player, which is more in line with where I am. And here’s a quick report from NFP: Impression: A smooth, graceful blocker with good range, change of direction skills and quickness in both the run and pass game. Needs to learn to play a little lower, but has the ability to mirror in space and possesses the makeup of a starting left tackle in the NFL.
Sherrod is a very solid, all around player with a lot of playing experience at Mississippi State. He has the length and athleticism to be a very good pass rusher at LT. He might need some refinement and might not be a day one starter at the position, but has a good makeup. He’s also not a mauler at the run game, and despite his size doesn’t have great functional playing strength (the opposite of Smith who is slender, but good functional strength).
Do I think he’ll be high on the Giants board? No. They seem to prefer powerful run blockers (Will Beatty was an athletic guy who did a ton of run blocking at UConn for Donald Brown), so I don’t think he’ll be the Giants pick.
I think of the ones mentioned he’s most likely to fall to the second round.
Mike Pouncey, Stefen Wisnewski, and Danny Watkins are all linked to the first round. Pouncey the most.
I just wanted to put a quick thought out out there on Pouncey.
Mike Pouncey to the Giants at 19th overall fans: I don’t get it. He’s not a first round prospect, on tape, to me (and I interviewed Craig Vanderkahm of sideline scouting who said the same thing). He’s NOT the prospect his brother was. Wes Bunting had Maurkice Pouncey as his #4 overall prospect in the entire draft last year and that was a very talented draft. This is considered a down draft and Bunting has Pouncey as down to 33rd overall so that should tell you a little bit about the two Pouncey’s differences from a well respected draft guy in the draftnik community. It is a mistake to take a good interior guard at 19th overall. Pouncey is NOT the player you guys should want, even though there seems to be a movement to get him in the first round. Pouncey is not J.P.P a high boom or bust prospect who has All-Pro talent, which should be the case if you take a guard at 19th overall. He’s a good to very good 2nd round prospect. which is not a bad thing. 2nd round prospects are just a step below first round prosect and nearly as many become pro-bowlers (though more 1st rounders become All-Pro players). The difference between 1st and 2nd round prospects is really on the upside. Back to Pouncey, he can’t play center without a TON of work and is best suited as a guard. He’s a good guard candidate, but you don’t draft guards at 19th overall. Wisnewski is the better player in my humble opinion. Wisnewski isn’t as athletic as Pouncey, but he’s very good player and he’s a good center prospect he could go late round 1.
Pouncey won’t make it back to the Giants in the 2nd round though as there is no way he can get past the Rams in the 2nd round who have said they want interior linemen.
Danny Watkins is talked about as a first round prospect, but I don’t see it. No way, and it’s not the tape. Watkins will be 27 Years very early next season. Who is going to spend a first round prospect on a guy who is going to be thirty years old before his first contract ends? I know teams love his game and he’s more pro-ready then other players, but obviously that’s the case. He’s grown into his man-body already while the rest of the prospects are still growing. By man body, I mean: When you were a kid you ever shake one of your dad’s friends hands? They’re made of rock because he’s gone from a boy to a man. That’s Watkins. I hope that Watkins gets drafted early first round because that’s one more prospect that could fall to the Giants in the second round. You have to root for that kind of guy, but if I’m a G.M. I’m avoiding him like the plauge the first two rounds. This is not a trade for a proven guard with 5 years starting experience in the league for a 1st or 2nd round pick. This is trading for a question mark for a guy who’s never played a down in the N.F.L., and didn’t dominate at a great S.E.C. school either.
As for late Round OT prospect it’s slim pickens. This isn’t considered a good OT class even at the top, which I think it is a good one at the top.
One prospect I love as stricly a RT prospect is Jah Reid of UCF. He’s Gabe Carimi light, well heavy. He’s not as talented as Carimi, but he’s heavier (a little over 6’7 inches and nearly 330 pounds) is what I mean. He’s an absolute monster in the run game. He’s a 5th round or later prospet and stricly a RT, but he’s a player you know can do something in the N.F.L. And if the Giants have that silly OL TE situation last year Reid could be an excellent fit as someone who just comes into to say “hey we’re running try and stop us”.
Joseph Barksdale out of LSU is a mid round prospect draft lovers thought could push himselt into the first round before last season, which didn’t happen. He’s a very good technician and good athlete and could be a steal in the third round as a tackle prospect. This is one of walterfootball’s favorite underrated prospects.
The other player I like a bit is Florida’s Marcus Gilbert out of florida. Because he has good upside for a mid round pick.
Butch Lewis of USC might be an undrafted player, an Ol with good upside, but that’s going deep, and he might play inside in the N.F.L.
A lot of the other tackle prospects: Jason Pinkston and Clint Boling, and players of that ilk are players I think should move inside or don’t love Lee Ziemba or James Carpenter.I don’t like the OL class late. I do like it a lot early.
A name to watch as a “What the @#$@#$ Player taken early in the draft that no one expects is Brandon Fusco out of Slippery Rock. He plays center and could go as high as the second round (to the Giants even?) and have seen that in some places. I think 3rd or 4th is a better fit. We know that Coughlin has said that Center is a position that needs to be upgraded. Will Rackley when I interviewed him highlighted him as a player that scouts love that fans don’t know enough about.
2. Is Martez Wilson an inside or strongside backer?
I think that will depend on the system, but to me personally he’s a strongside backer, or a 3-4 Rush OLB. Wilson is obviously very athletic, but I always thought he was out of position in the middle at Illinois. Wilson was the #2 DE coming out of high-school. Wilson should be making a living getting to the QB from the linebacker spot and punishing ball carriers, not directing traffic, plugging up holes, and chasing down ball carriers, or covering the deep middle of the field. There are two issues with Wilson: First he was suspended a game for violating team rules so he has to answer to that. But Wilson is versatile because of that great speed. Teams that play a lot of Cover two could like him in the middle because he has the ability to get down the field and cover the same (he’s built like Brian Urlache with his height, size, speed).
Second: He missed a season with a hernieated disk (the same injury that Antonio Pierce and Kiwanuka have suffered) which could be cause for concern for teams, especially for the Giants.
But with those two issues aside: will he intrigue the Giants at 19th overall?
Yes, Very, very much so. Wilson is fast, tall, athletic, and has Long arms. That’s something the Giants really look for in prospects. Wilson has 34 5/8 inch long arms. He also is a pass rusher first and foremost and seems like a good pass rusher candiate for a 3-4 prospect. On other college teams he would been a smaller DE pass rush specialist (and how many of those players have we seen the Giants draft already? A lot). Wilson has great size for a linebacker in today’s N.F.L. he’s 6-4 250 pounds. He’s a very high potential prospect, and I think he could actually be the Giants pick at 19th overalll, and actually mocked him to the Giants in my last real mock draft.
I wouldn’t hate the pick and Wilson would probably win the starting job this season for the Giants. He’s very, very talented.
3. Giants need corner help. Who are some good mid round corner prospects?
First let me say that I love Brandon Harris out of the U and reminds me of a college Darrelle Revis. He has extremely fluid hips, great game speed, and can be a missle in run support. He mirrors WR with ease. He needs to be more consistent at times, and could improve his zone coverage, but a good prospect.
This CB class is Deep.
Players like Brandon Burton out of Utah could fall to the 3rd or 4th round in the draft where in a weak CB class they could be late first or early 2nd round prospects.
The top CB seem to be Peterson, Amukamara, Harris, Jimmy Smith (character concerns), Aaron Williams. After that opinions are all over the board.
Players who could go anywhere from the 2nd to 4th or 5th round that I like are Brandon Burton, Ras I Dowling, Johnny Patrick, Davon House, Chimdi Chekwa, Chykye Brown, and ReShad Carmichael.
Carmichael has great speed, but was very inconstent in college. Davon House ran a blazing 40 at his pro day and with his good size seems like a lock for the 2nd round now (been mocked into the first round in places…a stretch, but not impossible).
As far as underrated or not talked about CB prospects.
The first one I like is Kendric Bruney. I like him a lot. He is NOT a great N.F.L. athlete. But he’s GREAT at reading coverages and getting in the way of the pass. He’s short and slow, but he’s inches away from every pass and catches a good amount of him. The best comparison for Bruney is Asante Samuel. Samuel overcame his athletic, size/strength issues by always being where the ball was thrown, having great instincts and intercepting a lot of passes. Bruney is that kind of player. He could be Very good in Fewell’s read and react scheme. He’s best suited for a zone- scheme or a scehme where he can take chances. He can’t stick and run with players man to man, but let him free roam a bit or watch the play develop and you got yourself a player.
Richard Sherman out of Standford-Is a freak at cornerback. He played WR at Stanford, but he switched positions, but he’s almost 6’3 inches tall and obviously has great hands for a cornerback. He has good speed as well. Now, he moved from WR to CB late in college so he needs a lot of work on his fundamentals and just being a cornerback, but a very high upside prospect late in the draft.
Brandyn Thompson out of Boise State-like Bruney might not be the best fit for the Giants if they play a lot more man to man this year, but as they played last year he’s a good fit. Another smaller CB who makes plays. Thompson is a great character guy and glue guy who will out work everyone play well on special teams and make big plays. He made some huge plays at Boise State. Draftinsider.net says he’s a third round prospect, I’d say he’s an average 3rd round prospect, but a guy I would love to have in the 5th or 6th round if he falls to that range (which I think he will because he doesn’t have great measurables 5-9 and ran a 4.5 40 yard dash).
Marcus Gilchrist-This is a perfect fit for the Giants. Gilchrist has played both CB and Safety in college. And is a good athlete. Ran his 40 yard dash in the 4.4 range, put up 26 reps on the bench press and just is a very good athlete at 5-10 and about 200 pounds has good size and versatility. Gilchrist has also returned kicks and been a special teams standout.
4. Is there a do it all running back besides Mark Ingram? Any mid round candidates worth looking into?
Good question. Anyone who has followed me over to NFLmocks.com knows that I love Ingram and would be comfortable taking him anywhere in the draft pretty much. I think he’s worth a top 10 pick, but not everyone agrees with me. He’s one of my favorites.
But yes there are some good mid round candidates who can do everything (but none at the level Ingram can)
The best of them is Cal’s Shane Vereen. Let’s assume he goes somewhere in the 3-5th round range. Vereen is 5-10 and weighs 210 pounds. He’s like Ingram in that he doesn’t have great speed, but is very strong (31 reps on the bench press) and is an excellent WR out of the backfield. Has had at least 20 catches in each of the last three years. He lacks C.J. Spiller’s speed, of course, but could be compared to him in ability to run routes. He is an elusive runner and can run in between the tackles. Unlike Ingram though he has a known an ability as a KR (Ingram did not do that in college). I like him a lot. Our sister web site www.withthefirstpick.com think’s he’s perhaps the most underrated prospect in the draft.
Maryland’s Da’Rel Scott is a player that is considered a 3-5th round prospect in the draftnik community. But has Tremendous upside, ran a 4.35 40 at the combine and Wes Bunting has said that scouts have him as a first round prospect. So if that’s true he won’t be available later.
Evan Royster out of Penn State is no longer getting any play as a early round prospect (like he was before the college season), but he’s similar to Ingram in that he’s a do everything kind of back. He’ll slide in the draft because of his poor year and because he lacks great speed.
5. Who are the best return specialists in the draft?
First I think it should be noted that I personally think that the new kick off rule could really push down the stock now and in the future of return specialists as there could be a lot less opportunities to return kicks moving forward, but here are some of the return specialists. Those are the ones that come to mind who should be drafted, though I’m sure there are others and there’ll be one who seems to come out of nowhere like Marc Mariani of the Titans
Jeremy Kerley out of T.C.U. is the best because he’s probably not more than a slot WR in the N.F.L.
Derrel Johnson Koulianos out of Iowa is also another player who is a good return man.
Patrick Peterson is an excellent punt returner, but he’s not a specialist because he’s a baller.
Derricke Locke out of Kentucky is the closest thing to Dexter McCluster/Leon Washington/Brad Smith in this draft as a gadget guy, explosive guy, return specialists kind of player.