Below is a position by position look at players the Giants may have an interest in or who reportedly have stood out this week during practice and therefore now might come under consideration.
QB - Having made ‘cheap’ attempts twice in the last three years to find a future quality back-up for Eli Manning the Giants hopefully learned their lesson when forced to bring in veteran Sage Rosenfels at the cost of a draft pick just prior to the start of last season.
Whilst that makes it unlikely that the Giants will look for a youngster to develop there were they to do so it is unlikely they would find one to their liking at this game as most are short, and create more problems on the run than in the pocket or lack the arm strength to throw deep accurately.
The top QB prospect in the game by far is Jake Locker, Washington (North 10) but he reportedly hasn’t had the stand-out week of practice needed to answer the questions some teams had of him heading to Mobile. He draws mixed reviews with some seeing him as a sure-fire 1st round pick and potential ‘Franchise’ QB, others a 2nd-rounder with equal amounts of ‘bust’ potential and ‘upside’. Better out of the pocket and very creative when things break down around him - his open field running skills are electric - he needs to prove he can throw accurately and consistently from the pocket in this game if he wants to keep his ‘stock’ high.
RB - As usual the best RB’s in the draft are underclassmen so there isn’t any ‘premium’ talent on display but overall the group of players available appeal more to me than those on show last year. There are a handful of players on display who will either fit our power-running system or offer enough versatility and explosiveness to intrigue as 3rd down back’s with potential to help out on ST’s...
The two best backs in attendance are both on the North team so it will be interesting to see which of them starts considering both have impressed at practice throughout the week. The South side doesn’t have anyone who can handle a heavy workload in the NFL but they have a couple of undersized players who could be very productive & explosive in smaller roles.
Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State (North 24) is short but explosive, quick between the tackles and has good hands. He has had some injury issues and needs to develop as a route runner and blocker as he wasn’t used much in either capacity in college but I think he can do it and become a good starter at the next level. I like him as a potential 3rd or even 2nd round pick. See what you think...
DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma (North 7) has a history of serious injury issues that have long hurt his draft standing. He runs a little tall for my liking and doesn’t break enough tackles or many big runs but I think he’d be perfect for a role in the Giants offense as the ‘3rd down back’ as his route running skills and hands are exceptional and his blocking is good enough. A possibility in the 4th round?
Noel Devine, West Virginia (South 27) measures up at just 5‘7”, 160lb’s and has broken numerous long distance plays for TD’s throughout his career both as a runner and on screen plays. He’s tough enough to make it in the NFL despite his lack of size. That said, he hasn’t shown great multi-purpose skills at this point as he has no experience returning punts and hasn’t been overly successful as a kick returner. If he can show he can do both well at this game his stock will climb. Darren Sproles II or just another ‘too small’ back lacking the versatility to find a niche role?
Derek Locke, Kentucky (South 20) isn’t one I’ve seen much of to date but he projects as a 3rd down back with dynamic kick return ability. He has very little experience as a punt returner though so he will try to show he can handle the extra responsibility at this game. Durability and hanging onto the ball have been issues for him but he has speed and elusiveness in abundance!
Some may like Roy Helu, Nebraska (North 20) as he has a serious burst to and through the hole but he doesn’t have great vision, lacks elusiveness and isn’t versatile enough to appeal to me.
WR - Whilst the plethora of injuries at the end of the season are worrying, it’s unlikely that the Giants will be looking for anyone else to challenge those on the roster unless they offer dual-purpose return skills...
Those with experience in both return roles appearing at this game are Niles Paul, Nebraska (North 25), Dwayne Harris, East Carolina (North 17) & Jeremy Kerley, TCU (South 84) but I can’t say that any of them have particularly stood out as being that explosive when I’ve watched them during the past season.
TE - I like Kevin Boss but his propensity to get dinged during the season combined with the lame attempt at blocking offered by H-Back Travis Beckum make this very much a ‘need’ position in my eyes. The Giants typically like their TE’s to be tall and fast, then they teach them to block. They won’t find one like that here, but there are a couple of good players on show who would look nice in blue!
Luke Stocker, Tennessee (South 88) is a very solid all-around prospect with good size and ability as both a receiver and blocker but he lacks the downfield threat the Giants have looked for at the position in recent years. I like him and think he’d make a fine 3rd round pick. See what you think.
DJ Williams, Arkansas (South 45) will be an H-Back in the pro ranks due to his lack of ideal size (just under 6’2”, 236lb’s). Won the Mackey Award winner as the Nation’s top collegiate TE and is a dynamic receiver with very good route running skills and the ability to make big plays in the open field. Would be a ‘luxury’ pick for the Giants but he seals the edge well enough from a ‘move’ position on running plays to get him on the field were we to select him.
Lance Kendricks, Wisconsin (North 84) doesn’t offer much more than his former teammate Beckum does, just a little more natural size. A former WR he’s been utilised split out more often than in-line and when he does block he isn’t exactly overpowering. Very good receiver though but he’s not one I have much love for.
T - Surprisingly, most of the top senior prospects accepted their invitations to the Senior Bowl and though there isn’t a potential superstar amongst the group there is plenty of talent on hand... I personally don’t believe the Giants have a desperate need at the LT position but were one of the better players to be available they may be hard to turn down. So could a young RT prospect who could learn for a few years behind Kareem McKenzie before taking over.
The top tier is made up of Outland Trophy winner Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin (North 68), Anthony Castanzo, Boston College (North 74), Derek Sherrod, North Carolina State (North 79) & Nate Solder, Colorado (North 78) but there is no consensus on their pecking order.
While I have some liking for all of them and think each will eventually start at LT in the NFL I can’t say I’m ‘sold’ on any of them and there are conflicting reports as to which one proved to be the best over the course of the week in practice (though a good indication is that Solder will start the game at LT with Castanzo bumped inside to LG). Carimi unfortunately injured his ankle in the last practice and will miss the game.
Though not quite at the same level as the above quartet James Brewer, Indiana (North 73), James Carpenter, Alabama (South 77), Marcus Gilbert, Florida (South 76), DeMarcus Love, Arkansas (South 65) & Lee Ziemba, Auburn (South 73) comprise a solid second tier of prospects on display. Carpenter starts at LT for the South with Ziemba at RT. Brewer starts at RT for the North. Gilbert will miss the game with an injury.
G - Were the Giants to settle on his successor at LT David Deihl could conceivably move back inside to OLG for years to come but that is no sure thing. Rich Seubert has been a warrior but is now once again facing an uncertain future and Kevin Boothe has proven a capable sub but is better in reserve coming off the bench in an emergency than as a long-term starter. I’m not sure what we have in Mitch Petrus but he doesn’t look ready to step in regardless.
I’ve never seen Danny Watkins, Baylor (South 59) who has reportedly been the best G in practice despite never having played there until this week. Two strikes against his draft ‘stock’? He’s already 26 years old and he’s Canadian (sorry Terry, that one's for you!!)! It will be interesting to see if he can keep up his dominance in the game itself and vault his ‘stock’ into the 2nd round.
Rodney Hudson, Florida State (South 62) is short and light but flabby looking. Looks can be deceiving! He plays with intensity & technique and does a fine job clogging up the interior in pass protection and opening holes in the running game. Reminds me a little of Randall McDaniel whilst he was at Arizona State - small but very dominant. It was thought he’d get an extended look at C in practice having never played there but in the end he barely got off a few snaps. It’s possible he will do so in the game itself but he will start at LG regardless. Doesn’t fit the Giants prototypical needs but he’d sure as hell fit as a player!
Clint Boling, Georgia (South 60) started all four years but switched between both T spots and RG throughout. I think he’s better suited inside at the next level and he’s the sort of player I think the Giants could do with as he’s big, combative, mobile enough to pull and a good pass protector. What do you think? I see him as a solid mid-round pick.
I’ve seen plenty of Stephen Schilling, Michigan (North 52) over the course of his career and don’t see him as a future NFL starter. He’s far too stiff for my liking.
C - With Shaun O’Hara seemingly winding up his career and Seubert’s aforementioned injury problems the Giants might just need a new starter but they are unlikely to be found in this game. I can’t say I was enamored of either of them but it’s disappointing that both Mike Pouncey and Stefan Wisniewski turned down the opportunity to showcase their skills (or avoid their stock dropping!).
John Moffitt, Wisconsin (North 70) is better known as a LG but has experience at C and has been the best player at that position by some distance at practice and will start there for the North. He has good size & strength but I don’t consider him to be nimble enough to play the pivot in the Giants scheme. See what you think.
Kristofer O’Dowd, USC (North 65) has the quick feet that Moffitt lacks but that is about it. He gets overpowered way too often at the point of attack to interest me.
Brandon Fusco, Slippery Rock (North 79) has a lot to learn but has seemingly come on in leaps and bounds under the tutelage of pro coaches so may have an NFL future despite coming from a Division II school. Thing is, we need help now not another coaching project!
DE - Depending on whether the Giants re-sign Matthias Kiwanuka or can find a use for Clint Sintim at this spot they either do or don’t need another DE. Typically, the Giants like their guys built long and for speed but their aren’t many like that here.
The best DE’s in the game are clearly Cameron Jordan, California (North 97) and Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue (North 91) with Cameron reportedly dominating every practice and driving his ‘stock’ into the top 15 overall.
Pernell McPhee, Mississippi State (South 90) and Allen Bailey, Miami FL (South 57) are two to keep an eye on from a Giants perspective. They aren’t particularly tall but they do have long arms. I consider McPhee underrated.
DT - With Rocky Bernard’s play rebounding, the Giants got little out of prized rookie Linval Joseph so unless Barry Cofield leaves there is little need for adding to the roster.
If I were looking for a player, Christian Ballard, Iowa (North 46) would be the one who intrigues the most. e won;t start immediately but he has the t'ools' to do so in the future whilst helping out off the bench as he develops
LB - Let’s call a ‘bust’ a ‘bust’. Clint Sintim just doesn’t fit in the 4-3 and he never looked like he would from the day we drafted him. Michael Boley is just an average player and Keith Bullock is about done (though still the best coverage ‘backer we had). In the middle and given an extended chance to play Jonathon Goff looked decent but as he’s taken off the field on passing downs that may be considered good enough. We could do with an upgrade at both outside spots for sure but whether the players on display here can be those upgrades is questionable.
Von Miller, Texas A&M (South 40) is the best LB in the 2011 draft. A year ago I’d have said he was a ‘one trick pony’ who could only rush the passer around the wide outside but he developed his all-around game quite dramatically over the past year and now fits every scheme. He’ll get little chance to shine in this game as there is no blitzing but he should stand out anyway. Chances of his making it to the 19th selection before the week began were slim, after dominating in practices ‘slim’ left town accompanied by his good friend ‘no bloody chance’...
Greg Jones, Michigan State (North 53) is under 6’ tall but packs a serious wallop on his 240lb frame when he gets to the ball. Has been a ferocious sideline to sideline tackling machine at MLB but really needs a 4-3 scheme devised to keep him ‘clean’ and allow him to flow to the ball to be at his most effective. Not great in coverage but is a good blitzer and excels at getting into the backfield. Intangibles are ‘off the charts’ Has some experience at LSB but doesn’t project there though he might fit as a WLB in some schemes. Were the Giants looking to upgrade at MLB he’d top my list.
Had Mark Herzlich, Boston College (North 44) entered the draft after his junior year I would have been happy to grab him in the 1st round and station him at SLB for the next decade. His cancer survival story is well known but he wasn’t the player he once was having come back from that illness. He still looks the part physically (6‘3 1/2”, 250lb’s) but he appeared to have ‘lost a step’ and his production almost halved. Solid working against the TE against the run and in coverage. Has a knack for playing the ball and coming away with INT’s. More effective knocking down passes at the line of scrimmage than as a pass rusher. Had some injury issues on his return. If he ever gets back to his pre-cancer level of play he’ll be a ‘steal’ if he lasts to the 3rd round.
Nate Irving, North Carolina State (South 56) played MLB this year but came to my attention in ’08 as a WLB. Missed all of ’09 after a serious car accident. He’s a big hitter who can run and has good instincts in coverage but he doesn’t take on blocks well at the point of attack so projects far better at WLB in the pro ranks.
KJ Wright, Mississippi State (South 34) looks a little lanky and ungainly in his turn and run but he moves fast enough in straight lines, hits hard and makes plays. If he ever fills out his frame he will be a king-sized LB. Has starting experience at both SLB and WLB. I consider him to be under-rated but I’m not sure he won’t project better as an ILB in a 3-4 down the road than he will as an SLB in a 4-3.
Colin McCarthy, Miami FL (South 46) played MLB this past season but I thought he was far more effective starting at SLB in previous years. Is undersized for a Giants SLB at 6‘1”, 235lb’s but has good instincts and plays the run well. Has had some shoulder problems though.
Mason Foster, Washington (North 40) is an underrated WLB prospect who by most accounts helped himself this week in practice. Tackling machine who plays with speed and passion. I see him as having similar ability to his former teammate Donald Butler who went in the 3rd round last year
Kelvin Sheppard, LSU (South 11) is probably the best MLB prospect in Mobile but he also has experience at WLB. Big hitter but not that fast and can be victimised somewhat in coverage. As with Wright I think he might project better to SLB in the 4-3 or inside in the 3-4.
Casey Matthews, Oregon (North 55) has the same flowing locks as his brother Clay but that’s about it as far the comparison goes. Casey is shorter, slower, less dynamic and doesn’t make many big plays. If he has a chance in the NFL it is more likely to be in the 3-4 as an ILB.
CB - This isn’t a position we have any great need at - especially if we bring in Nnamdi Asamugha as has been rumored - but we could always do with an upgrade over our current 4th CB.
Kendrick Burney, North Carolina (North 8) is a small guy with very good speed and ball play skills. See how he matches up with bigger receivers on the island in this game.
S - No needs. Good job as there are no players in this game that come close to fitting our prototype for the position!
ST’s - Kicker Kai Forbath, UCLA (North 25) has to be loved by NFL teams. The scouts were desperate enough to get him into the game they bumped Alex Henery, Nebraska (North 90) over to punt and he’s the best kicker I’ve seen for a few years! Both have excellent accuracy and range and can expect to be drafted.