This is my first evaluation of the players that were drafted by the Giants. I am not going to do all the players at once, they will be put together in smaller groups. These articles will dissect their play, break them down and offer as much information as I can find. I don’t pretend to be an expert, I am not, even Bill Parcells admits he’s made a lot of mistakes when evaluating talent. We all know the failures of Jerry Reese who is one of the best drafting GMs in the NFL.
I’m digging for film and information to look at these prospects in-depth. For the first article I will be looking at the Giants two offensive tackles, I will include to a degree James Brewer last year’s 4th round pick since he never saw the field and is to some extent a rookie and similar type player. The Giants use a Zone blocking scheme and a Flex, all three tackles played this scheme in college although a simpler and older version. I am still learning the finer points of this scheme as I grew up in the days of the man blocking schemes. The one the Giants employ is not exactly like the one used in the past by teams like the Broncos, it has evolved, you don’t see cut blocks very often from the Giants. These schemes are why the Giants go to bigger blocking tightends over pass catching ones.
In the past the Giants preferred smaller faster lineman for their zone blocking scheme. This has changed, the Giants are it seems now looking for bigger offensive lineman yet with more quickness, not the lumbering type. This is to counter the bigger faster defensive lineman being used now, both Boothe and Baas handled the HUGE NT of the Patriots’ Wilfork in the Super Bowl very well. Both are bigger men than O’Hara and Seubert who had trouble with him in the past. Now it seems to me teams are looking at smaller faster defensive ends to counter the behemoth offensive tackles. It sounds like an arms race from the days of the Cold War. That’s how it works, teams do something and it has to be countered. So the Giants are going with bigger more athletic lineman as opposed to what they did in the past. The same thing happened when George Young took over, he started looking for bigger athletic offensive lineman to counter what defenses were doing at the time, everything cycles.
Let’s look at Matt McCants and Brandon Mosley. I think these guys have some potential to be either solid NFL starters or backups. After looking at last year’s draft and seeing film from the Combine I can clearly say that 4th round pick James Brewer is about the same in terms of physicality and ability. He is in the 6’6” region with long arms as is McCants and Mosley who is a hair shorter. Although you can see the rawness they are all very good prospects. I am going to include Brewer a bit because in essence he is a rookie and a very similar type of offensive lineman. He did mention he felt that missing part of the season because of the work stoppage hurt his adjustment to the NFL.
I am curious as to why 2 more offensive tackles were taken in this draft. Does Reese feel that if he drafts enough mid round offensive tackles one of them will eventually become a starter or star? I do see the upside of Brewer and he had a good combine showing, in fact he grades out right there in the pack with Mosley and McCants, although closer to Mosley yet he physically resembles McCants. I can only think that either Jerry Reese truly picked the best players available or Brewer showed up to OTAs clearly out of shape and without improvement especially in the weight room where he needed the work. I’ll start with Mosley first and move on to McCants. The similarities of all three lineman say to me they fit what the Giants do on the offensive line, they played a zone in college yet are bigger at 6’6” than you usually see in zone blocking schemes. Does Reese and Coughlin also want that size in their guards? Is that why no guards or centers were drafted? They are usually under 6’4” in college and smaller framed.
Taken in the fourth round with the Giants comp pick right tackle Brandon Mosley is 6’5 ½ inches and 314 pounds, his 40 at the combine was 5.21 seconds which is average. He did 30 reps on the bench and had the best 3 cone drill of all Olineman at 7.43 seconds. He looks like a good athlete and is solid, he’s not flabby or bulky looking and his frame can handle more muscle mass. A 34 inch arm is considered long even for his height and is a plus especially for a tackle. He moved very well at the combine and had good balance and change of direction. He didn’t look like a lumbering sluggish athlete, I would have thought he would run a bit faster in the 40 considering his quickness, more in the 5 flat area.
Mosley went to Auburn which has a top college football program, he is said to be a very coachable player and hard worker, Brandon came a long way only playing right tackle for two years. A quote from Reese about Mosley, “Big, tough, smart; just like we like in our offensive line room,” adding he reminds the coaches of starting tackle David Diehl. Well I say if he turns out to be a David Diehl Reese is already ahead of the game with this draft. The full Reese evaluation can be found on the New York Giants site.
Although he is a little tall for a guard I think he can play there and can develop that punch with those long arms. He’s a bit slim hipped and needs work on his bubble, that’s the gluts and hamstrings, that is what anchors a lineman. He has a weak anchor and will be overpowered by quality NFL defensive players right now. If you can take a look at older pictures of O’Hara and Suebert in shorts, that’s what an offensive lineman’s lower body should look like. They worked out with trainers whose specialty was developing offensive lineman and it was one reason why at one time the Giants had a great line, maybe the best in the NFL, they turned themselves into the perfect Zone Scheme type offensive lineman. Too bad time caught up with them. Neither had the natural ability of any of the three lineman the Giants drafted in 2011 and 2012. They made themselves great players through hard work and desire, remember how Seubert came back from the leg injury.
If you watch Mosley’s hands and arms you notice he’s a little slow to get those up and doesn’t consistently punch the defensive player with power, he will have to work on that. He has good balance so it shouldn’t be a problem, he’s strong with 30 reps with those long arms. It looks like he mostly worked from a 2 point stance so there is no way for me to judge his ability to get leverage, he automatically plays upright. His stance seems a little wide to me and his feet are pointing out giving him that odd back and forth rocking motion instead of the more compact and quick NFL player whose technique is more refined and efficient with their motion. He also lacks consistent leg and foot movement, that is so important in the NFL. I have also seen him take a misstep not judging the intentions of the defender quick enough. He does move well across the line getting into the second level looking for defenders to block. He can make the initial block on a defender than switch to a second player after effectively stopping the first, this is a zone flex scheme technique which he excels in. Good awareness and actively scans for defenders to block, finds them and takes them out of play, that ability has guard written all over it, in that he was impressive although that’s what a ROT does in a flex and why Beatty was terrible at ROT, a much better LOT. This is one reason why people who think that offensive lineman can switch sides easily do not understand the Giants schemes and offensive line play in general.
Mosley have seen a tendency to sometimes lunge at defenders instead of driving into them, it looks like he’s leaning forward too much instead of having a solid base and into a deeper bend. When he does get proper alignment he will pancake a player or take him down, some thing I did not see Brewer or McCants do. He definitely has a tendency to open his feet up too wide which is a sure way to lose leverage. It was evident at the combine too, he needs to refine his footwork. His biggest asset is his tenacity and vision, he sees the whole field and looks for people to block, when he sees them he can make contact and doesn’t miss often. I could definitely see him playing guard in the NFL because of that ability. Although at ROT Mosley and Snee might work together very well, as O’Hara and Seubert did at C and LOG.
During the 2011 game against Alabama Mosley played well, his team did not. You could see the inexperience though, he was not blocking Upshaw most of the time and they had him what looked like specifically avoiding Upshaw, it was the scheme not avoidance. When he did meet him that’s where the leverage issue came up, Upshaw over powered the bigger Mosley on one play literally getting underneath him and throwing him onto the field. Other times he did handle Upshaw well, he looked like he was playing mad and hit Upshaw pretty well with the punch I wanted to see in the rest of his play during 2011, so he has it in him. Upshaw was literally stopped in his tracks and looked like he was rattled or stunned, Mosley has to learn to consistently do that. I saw Brewer’s film and he also was in a very similar run and pass Zone scheme, being always in a 2 point stance. It did NOT let Mosley play up to his potential in my opinion. I think once he gets coached up he will be a better NFL player than college player, it looks like the coaching staff did not utilize his ability on run plays to help open holes due to the zone scheme. It’s hard overall to tell I was really digging for film, I’m just commenting on what I could get.
Mosley has the ability which is obvious from watching the film. He is a developmental player with good upside. He needs to get into the weight room and pack it on, plus work on his technique. I think he can start within a season or two but will never be a pro bowl player unless he really transforms his body into a more explosive and powerful force, which can be done, he’s not that far away. He does have the other natural talents to be a top offensive lineman and maybe move to guard. He played tight end before moving to ROT so look for him to be in there on goal line plays and slide into the end zone for a pass someday in the future. The issue is consistent footwork, had he gone into the draft with that he might have been a late second round pick.
Many of the pluses and minuses of Mosley can be said for Matt McCants as they can also be said for James Brewer. It seems that tier of lineman have similar issues and deficiencies and in my opinion partly due to pure zone blocking schemes and not enough time spent in the weight room. They have the physical tools to be good offensive lineman but lack the consistent technique and functional power that players in the NFL MUST have. Looking at the top first round offensive lineman in the 2012 draft you can see either slightly better physical ability and/or more refined technique, they are more physically mature. For instance players like David DeCastro and Matt Kalil have more physical maturity and better technique. Many big men take a little longer for their bodies to mature, the NBA is a proving ground for that reality.
Looking at Matt McCants’ combine I feel as though I was looking at James Brewer, very similar player in every way, both the good and bad. At about 6’6”, 308 pounds, over 35 inch arms but a slow 40 at 5.45 at his pro day he still had impressive physical abilities. In all honesty some of the techniques taught at UAB were questionable, watching McCants made me cringe, the constant use of cut blocking for a left tackle was just bad, as was the strange backpedal like a cornerback and the lack of knee bend. This was a zone blocking scheme at its worst and did not utilize McCant’s assets at all at left tackle. The UAB line was not very good and not suited for a pure zone blocking scheme. That is what the Giants use and McCants is familiar with it so he has a start there. I am sure that is one reason he was drafted. Cut blocking is used but not effectively most times now and it really pisses off defenders, it is illegal to use if the defender is already engaged, that’s a chop block. I think it should be eliminated completely.
This is what Jerry Reese said about McCants: “Really a pleasant surprise when you watch him, he is intriguing. Long, 36-inch arms. He is 315 now and I think he will be 325 pounds in a blink. Very interesting prospect for us. I think in a year or so he can make some headway and start challenging for a spot in our starting lineup. I think he is going to be that kind of player for us.” Is Reese saying Beatty better step it up? Beatty’s rookie contract is soon over.
So the Giants coaches have to start from scratch with Matt from a technical standpoint but he is familiar with the Giants schemes already. The upside is there maybe even more so than Mosley as a Tackle, it might take longer though. I do see him lunging a lot more and just very sloppy in his play, he’s very raw and lacks natural knee bend. Unlike Mosley he has trouble tracking targets in the second level. I think like Mosley if he had better technique and strength he might have been a much higher pick, at least a third rounder. He has great physical tools, he’s light footed and not lumbering at all, he was used to pull a lot like a guard not in a trap but way out wide which was strange to see a left tackle do that but that’s the scheme. Judging by his ability to move and pull you would think his 40 time would be much better, it was slow at the combine at 5.56. I could see that was due to a slow first step. He does not have the power and explosiveness needed, that screams weight room, squats anyone.
As with Brewer and now McCants and Mosley you can see the potential in all of them. I was impressed with McCants attitude, he knows he needs work and it seemed in interviews as though he is ready, he’s a mature man not a college kid. He had some academic issues so he may not be the brightest light in the chandelier. Many years ago I remember an interview with a scout who said that offensive lineman are best to not be that smart, I think that was sometime in the 1980s. The Giants run a complex scheme for their offensive line and I hope these young players are up to the task, they do have a head start from college and is why Reese picked these players.
The rawness, lack of strength and technique from Brewer, Mosley and McCants I attribute to just plain lack of experience. Being asked to use a scheme that requires more agility as opposed to strength didn’t help prepare them for the NFL. They all did not spend enough time in the weight room, although Mosley does have a better grasp of this scheme and is stronger. They all have the physical abilities to become at the least solid NFL lineman. Can the Giants coaches cut and polish these raw gem stones and make them into NFL bling, time will tell.