Draft Grades – 2012

Draft Grades: New York Giants

With so few holes, I expected the New York Giants to simply target the best available player – a strategy which Jerry Reese has used frequently in the past – but he strayed from his typical approach and it may come back to haunt him down the road.

David Wilson was a reach, and there’s really no way to sugar coat that. The fact that Reese would reach for Wilson raises a serious question: is Ahmad Bradshaw healthy? If so, the selection makes little sense. But if they’re legitimately worried about Bradshaw’s ability to stay on the field in 2012, the pick is justifiable. Since the motivation behind the pick is a bit of an unknown, I’ll have to factor that into the grade and give Reese the benefit of the doubt.

The selection of Rueben Randle is more in line with the Giants typical draft strategy. He was among the top available players on the board and will help fill the void left by the departure of Mario Manningham. He’s a developmental prospect but should be able to provide some help as a third or fourth option at receiver this year.

Jayron Hosley fell due to character concerns, but was probably worth the gamble in the late 3rd round. He likely won’t see the the field much given the Giants crowded secondary, but he was a solid investment at that point in the draft.

Adrien Robinson was a hot name this offseason and a late riser up the draft boards. He’s a good fit for the Giants, who like their tight ends to be strong blockers. He was likely drafted as insurance behind Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum, who are both coming off injuries.

Brandon Mosley and Matt McCants add some much-needed depth to the Giants offensive line. Neither has much upside, but they both have the ability to play multiple positions along the line and have long careers as backup linemen.

Markus Kuhn will become one of the few players born in Germany to play in the NFL. He’s a good athlete for his size and is an interesting developmental prospect. However, the Giants depth chart is crowded at defensive tackle and he may struggle to make the final roster cut.

I’m having a hard time grading the Giants draft without knowing what prompted the selection of David Wilson. If they’re worried about Bradshaw, it makes sense. But if they panicked once Doug Martin was snatched out from under them by the Bucs, it’s a poor decision. Given Reese’s draft history, I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, but this was definitely not his strongest draft class.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2012, Giants 1 Comment

New York Giants select David Wilson, Grade B-

I have to wonder if the New York Giants were prepared to take Doug Martin and panicked when the Bucs moved up and landed him with the 31st pick.
David Wilson is a decent prospect, who I gave a 2nd-round grade, but I’m not excited about how he fits in New York.

As long as he holds on to the football he’ll be a quality running back, but just doesn’t project as a difference maker with the Giants. Wilson has a similar style to Ahmad Bradshaw, and I don’t think they complement each other well.

Jerry Reese usually goes for the best available player, which he clearly did not do in this situation. He could have added Cordy Glenn or Jonathan Martin and arguably landed the best available player, and still filled a need.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Giants 2 Comments

Who fits Giants need at tight end?

One of the few holes on the Giants roster is at tight end – an area of need which GM Jerry Reese has confirmed. They’re likely to consider addressing this position in the 1st or 2nd round of the draft, so let’s examine who might fit their needs.

The Giants are one of the few teams in the league still clinging to the traditional tight end. They expect their tight ends to be an extension of the offensive line.

This past season the Giants used their tight ends in pass protection on 24 percent of their passing plays – the 6th highest average in the league. But unlike the teams ahead of them on this list, they don’t bring in pure blockers in these situations. Instead, all of their tight ends are expected to contribute as both blockers and receivers. In 2011, all three tight ends were used to block on 18 percent of pass plays or more, led by Jake Ballard’s 25.6 percent (6th highest in NFL).

And this isn’t a new trend. In 2010, the Giants also used their tight ends in pass protection 24 percent of the time, led by Kevin Boss’ 27.9 percent (5th highest).

So which tight ends in the 2012 draft class fit the Giants mold?

Dwayne Allen is a perfect fit for the Giants

For starters, Coby Fleener, Orson Charles and Ladarius Green are not good fits. All three are deficient blockers and lack the physical qualities to improve in that area.

So if they’re going to address this need early, that leaves them with one option: Dwayne Allen.

Allen isn’t a dominant blocker, but he gives a solid effort and has the frame to add some weight and improve. He’ll probably never be elite in this area, but he compares favorably to Kevin Boss both in his blocking ability and his potential to contribute as a receiver in the passing game.

Allen is definitely an option for the Giants with the 32nd pick.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Giants Comments Off

2011 Draft Grades: New York Giants

This draft showed why Jerry Reese is one of the most under-appreciated general managers in the game and why the New York Giants have remained competitive throughout his tenure. He finds the perfect blend of value and need and puts together another excellent draft class.

The selection of Prince Amukamara was all about value. Cornerback wasn’t their most pressing need, but he was arguably the best player on the board. He should have no problem winning a starting job, and could emerge as their top corner by the end of his rookie year.

Marvin Austin filled a hole and had great value in the mid 2nd round. Had he played the 2011 season I strongly believe he would have emerged as a top-20 talent. There are some concerns about his character, but if he plays with a chip on his shoulder due to the fact that he fell to the 2nd round, watch out. He could develop into a dangerous interior pass rusher.

Jerrel Jernigan also had decent value in the 3rd round and should compete for playing time as the 3rd or 4th option at receiver. He’s very similar to Steve Smith, however, which makes me wonder how the Giants plan to use both of them on the field at the same time. Jernigan’s playing time may be limited to four receiver sets.

James Brewer has very little upside, but could have a long career as a backup. He has the ability to play both tackle and guard and should be a valuable backup early in his career before potentially taking over a starting job down the road.

Greg Jones has a ton of potential, but never fully lived up to expectations at Michigan State. He needs to become a more disciplined player on the field, but in the 6th round he was well worth the risk.

I love the selection of Tyler Sash. He will immediately make an impact on special teams and could see playing time as a backup at strong safety.

Jacquain Williams adds depth to a weak group of linebackers. He’s more of a developmental prospect, however, and the Giants were in need of someone who could contribute immediately.

Da’Rel Scott‘s stock soared at the combine when he impressed with his speed, but ultimately his inconsistency in college held him back. The Giants needed to add a running back in case Brandon Jacobs doesn’t return, but Scott probably isn’t going to fill that void.

As a whole, this was very close to a perfect draft class for the Giants. However, they failed to add the necessary depth at linebacker and running back and seemed to desperately reach to fill those voids in the late rounds. However, they did land two players who should be long-term starters and at least two others capable of contributing as backups immediately.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2011, Giants Comments Off

Winners from Rounds 1-3: New York Giants

Jerry Reese continues to use patience to land great players for the New York Giants. They didn’t fill any glaring holes, but they got three great players who had fallen for various reasons.

Amukamara should step right into a starting role for the Giants

In the 1st round the Giants ended Prince Amukamara‘s free fall at No. 19. The certainly didn’t need a cornerback, but they lacked a true shutdown corner and Amukamara has a chance to be that guy. I had him at No. 6 on my board and I believe he will be a star in New York.

Marvin Austin fell due to concerns about his character, but entering the 2010 season he was viewed as a potential top 10 pick. He’s going to head to New York with a huge chip on his shoulder. That, coupled with the discipline Tom Coughlin will instill in him is going to turn Austin into a great player.

And in round three it was more of the same as they grabbed Jerrel Jernigan, whom many expected to come off the board in the 2nd round. I’m not sure how Jernigan will fit in with the Giants, but you can’t argue with the value and you can never have too much depth at receiver.

Overall, it has just been a very smart, methodical draft by Reese. He trusts his draft board and sticks with it regardless of his needs. It’s a great approach and it’s why he is quickly gaining respect as one of the best GMs at managing the draft.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Giants Comments Off

Top 10 Draft Day Decision Makers

10. Thomas Dimitroff, Falcons
This Bill Belichick disciple rebuilt the Falcons in one draft, possibly even one draft pick, with Matt Ryan in 2008. What Dimitroff has accomplished in three drafts is impressive, and makes you wonder just how good he could make the Falcons in another three years.
Best 1st-round pick: Matt Ryan (2008)
Best late-round pick: Kroy Biermann (5th round, 2008)
Biggest bust: Peria Jerry (1st round, 2009)

9.  Mike Reinfeldt, Titans
Reinfeldt’s first two 1st-round picks (Micael Griffin, Chris Johnson) have already developed into Pro Bowlers, and Kenny Britt is poised for a breakout year in 2011. Reinfeldt has also started to get production from some late-round picks such as Jason McCourty, Gerald McRath and Alterraun Verner.
Best 1st-round pick: Chris Johnson (2008)
Best late-round pick: Jason McCourty (6th round, 2009)
Biggest bust: Chris Henry (2nd round, 2007)
Read more

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Falcons, Giants, Packers, Patriots, Ravens, Steelers, Titans 1 Comment

Draft Needs: New York Giants

Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the New York Giants [full archive here].

Season Recap – The Giants finished the season with a solid 10-6 record, but had yet another late season collapse. They blew many leads in the fourth quarter and failed to beat the Packers in week 16, a game that would have put them in the playoffs. New York was solid on both sides of the ball and received contribution from a range of players. Tom Coughlin and the coaching staff return in hopes of getting back to the playoffs in 2011.

Needs:
1. Left Tackle – William Beatty was horrible at left tackle, and David Diehl is better inside. The Giants can select a young tackle in this years draft and insert him to protect Eli Manning’s blind side. Anthony Castanzo would be a great fit. Read more

Posted on by Matt Peterson in Draft Needs - 2011, Giants 1 Comment

32 reasons why no one in the NFL should want Moss

Cardinals – Need a lot more than one aging receiver to fix their quarterback situation.

Falcons – Why mess up a good thing between Matt Ryan and Roddy White?

Ravens – No room with Boldin, Mason and Housh. Moss would pout, ruin chemistry.

Bills – Ryan Fitzpatrick has been pleasantly surprising. Don’t mess with a good thing.

Panthers – Think Moss will be a good soldier on a team competing for the No. 1 pick?

Bears – Lovie and Martz have their hands full already with Jay Cutler in the locker room.

Bengals – T.O.  and Moss in the same locker room? No thanks.

Browns – If Mangini can’t get along with Braylon Edwards, how would Moss fit in?

Cowboys – The last thing they need is another distraction.

Broncos – Do you really think McDaniels will get along with Moss better than Marshall?

Lions – Can you picture Moss accepting role as a No. 2 receiver on a 2-5 team?

Packers – Chemistry on offense seems to be great. Don’t mess it up.

Texans – See above.

Colts – Manning prefers his no-name receivers. And it works just fine for him.

Jaguars – Last place Jags aren’t going anywhere. Don’t waste the money.

Chiefs – Already hold a big lead in a weak division. Why mess with what’s working?

Dolphins – Marshall and Moss is too much ego for any coaching staff to handle.

Vikings – Been there. Done that.

Patriots – Been there. Done that.

Saints – Brees seems to be doing o.k. for himself without an elite receiver.

Giants – Can you picture Moss backing up Nicks and Smith?

Jets – I think they’ve learned their lesson with Braylon Edwards.

Raiders – Been there. Done that.

Eagles – Been there. Done that.

Steelers – After trading Holmes, adding Moss would be a step backwards.

Chargers – Vincent Jackson is back.

49ers – Can you picture Moss being happy in last place in the worst division?

Seahawks – The last thing Mike Williams needs right now is a bad influence.

Rams – Last thing this young, overachieving team needs is a bad influence like Moss.

Bucs – See above.

Titans – Kenny Britt has enough issues to overcome without Moss influencing him.

Redskins – McNabb and T.O. didn’t work. Why would it work with Moss?

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 49ers, Bears, Bengals, Bills, Broncos, Browns, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Cowboys, Dolphins, Eagles, Falcons, Giants, Jaguars, Jets, Lions, Packers, Panthers, Patriots, Raiders, Rams, Ravens, Redskins, Saints, Seahawks, Steelers, Texans, Titans, Vikings 1 Comment

10 Most Underrated NFL Players

10. Shaun O’Hara
Since being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2000, O’Hara has developed into one of the games best interior offensive linemen. Now entering his 11th season in the league, O’Hara continues to get better with age. He finally made the Pro Bowl each of the past two seasons and likely has more to come.

9. Matt Roth
The Dolphins waived Roth midway through the 2009 season and the Browns capitalized on Bill Parcells’ mistake. Roth was dominant down the stretch in Rob Ryan’s defense, excelling against both the pass and the run. He’s one of the most well-rounded 3-4 outside linebackers in the league and still has his best years ahead of him.

8. Kelly Gregg
While Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis and others get all the credit for the Ravens’ defensive success, Gregg is the glue that holds it all together. He doesn’t generate the stats to get attention or make highlight-worthy plays, but he is one of the most consistent nose tackles in the game.

7. Antoine Winfield
Winfield has been regarded as a solid cornerback for over a decade now, but I don’t think he’s ever gotten the attention he deserves. He’s solid in coverage, but really excels against the run. Perhaps only Charles Woodson is more well-round in terms of ability to defend both the pass and the run at an elite level.

6. Vincent Jackson
As Jackson fights for a new contract in San Diego most fans are wondering how a player like Jackson could demand so much money. While I can’t defend his actions and his willingness to sit out the season, I will argue that he belongs among the highest-paid receivers in the game. As far as complete receivers go, only Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald are better. Jackson has it all – the speed to stretch the field, great hands, and is arguably the best blocking receiver in the game.

5. Keith Brooking
Brooking flew under the radar for years in Atlanta and finally stepped into the spotlight in Dallas last season. The 5-time Pro Bowler has never been viewed as one of the game’s truly elite linebackers, yet at age 35 he remains among the best at his position. He lacks the stats – sacks and interceptions – to get noticed, but he’s one of those players that is simply all over the field. When the Cowboys defense makes a key stop, chances are Brooking was in the middle of it.

4. Jared Gaither
The Ravens tried to bait another team into signing Gaither as a restricted free agent this season. Rumors have circled the league that they’re unhappy with his work ethic. But whatever it is about him that the Ravens aren’t high on, it certainly didn’t slow him down in 2009. He was one of the game’s most dominant left tackles, protecting Joe Flacco’s blind side. He allowed just four sacks and two hits all season – ranking among the game’s most efficient left tackles.

3. Pierre Thomas
Thomas is often overshadowed by Reggie Bush, but he is the true star of the Saints backfield. He is one of the most well-rounded running backs in the game, and is perhaps most valuable as a receiver. According to ProFootballFocus.com the Saints targeted Thomas 42 times last season, he caught 39 of them and didn’t drop a single catchable pass.

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 06:  Robert Meachem #17 of the New Orleans Saints scores a touchdown against the Washington Redskins on December 6, 2009 at FedExField in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Meachem may be on the verge of stardom

2. Shaun Rogers
Shaun Rogers got a bad reputation in Detroit as being lazy and overweight. Since coming over to Cleveland, Rogers has reestablished himself as one of the game’s premier nose tackles. In terms of clogging holes and stuffing the run, he’s on the same level as Albert Haynesworth and Kevin Williams.

1. Robert Meachem
Meachem finally overcame a long string of injuries and played a key role in the Saints Super Bowl run in 2009. He started seven games for the Saints and proved to be a valuable deep threat, averaging over 16 yards per catch. What really makes him stand out, however, is the little things he does. He is an above-average blocker and has arguably the most consistent hands in the game. In 2009 he was one of just three receivers with over 40 catches and zero drops.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Browns, Chargers, Cowboys, Giants, Ravens, Saints, Vikings 9 Comments

Potential landing spots for Matt Leinart

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart stretches during warmups before a preseason game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago on August 28, 2010.   UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom

It sounds like Leinart may be done in Arizona

Alright, maybe this is a little premature. The Cardinals haven’t cut Matt Leinart yet. Heck, they haven’t even announced who their starting quarterback will be. But its fun to look ahead and wonder where the former top-10 pick may end up. Here are the five most likely destinations:

5. Bills – They already have four incredibly mediocre quarterbacks on the roster, so why take on another? Well they’ve already seen Fitzpatrick, Brohm and Edwards in action and none of them have shown much upside. Perhaps bringing Leinart to Buffalo – the NFL’s Siberia – would get him out of the hot tub and into the film room.

4. Jaguars – Jack Del Rio isn’t particularly fond of David Garrard. Luke McCown is the current backup and appears to have played well enough this summer to make the Jaguars comfortable with him as an option if Garrard went down. But that doesn’t mean Del Rio wouldn’t make a push for the team to sign Leinart, a fellow USC alum, to add another body to the mix fighting Garrard for a starting spot.

3. Texans – Matt Schaub is on the verge of stardom, so Leinart wouldn’t be competing for playing time in Houston. However, Dan Orlovsky is the current backup and Schaub has a fairly extensive injury history. At worst Leinart would be a slight upgrade.

2. Giants – With Jim Sorgi headed to the IR, the Giants are left with Rhett Bomar as their backup. Bomar is a developmental prospect who likely isn’t ready to see an NFL field. Leinart would be a significant upgrade and give them adequate insurance behind Manning.

1. Bears – The Bears have asked (and begged) every available veteran quarterback to come replace Caleb Hanie as Jay Cutler’s backup. Perhaps Leinart will finally be the man for the job.

What? No Seahawks? Here’s my reasoning: who knows Leinart better than any coach other than Ken Whisenhunt? Pete Carroll. He is all too well aware of the lifestyle that Leinart leads and knows that that isn’t what it takes to win the NFL. He’s content with his combo of Hasselbeck and Whitehurst. It’s unlikely that they would bring Leinart aboard just to compete for a backup job which wouldn’t even be guaranteed.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Bills, Cardinals, Giants, Jaguars, Seahawks, Texans Comments Off