Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: New York Giants

Ok, so this is starting to feel odd now. It's June. It's the Summer solstice. Training camps should be like a month away and they're not, which is annoying. And I'm still talking about the draft, because I go so slowly through these things.

And I've realised that at this rate I'll still be going in September, which may or not be a good thing, depending on how close football is by that point. Seriously, this offseason sucks. Anyway, the Giants.

They started off in round one with cornerback Prince Amukamara from Nebraska, which is a good thing in the sense that the Giants need corners. Badly.

But it might be a bad thing at the same time, because I'm not sure about Amukamara. The thing is, he's not bad. He's not a bad corner. Honest. He just doesn't exactly blow my socks off. He runs pretty well with his receivers and his play recognition is good, but he gives players too much of a cushion in order to cover the deep ball.

That in itself is not a bad thing, but when you're continuously letting completions mount up underneath you then it becomes a bad thing. And that's my problem. Every snap when you see the pass, you see it caught and then you see Amukamara arrive to make the tackle. But I don't see where the playmaking ability is. And I don't see him being able to consistently contain receivers.

He wont suck. I'm absolutely not saying that. He just wont dazzle either. Run of the mill corner I think.

Note to self quickly before we move on; stop starting sentences with "and" or "but".

In round two the Giants took a leap of faith with North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin. Now if there is one thing I've learnt it's that when the Giants take a defensive linemen you should sit up and take notice. Austin is that kind of player.

On the field he's great. He penetrates well, has surprising speed for his size, and showed a real knack in general for making plays in the opponents backfield. Bu... On the other hand, like some of his other high profile team mates in this years draft you have to go back to the 2009 season to find any film of Austin, because he was suspended for the whole of 2010 over an incident involving improper benefits.

That means that apart from the East/West shrine game Austin hasn't played a down in 12 months. So did his skills stick? Well one thing we know for certain is that he blew people away at the combine with his physical prowess. 4.84 officially in the 40 yard dash, 38 reps on the bench press? That's nuts for a 309 lbs guy.

He didn't do so well away from the field drills here either, apparently skipping the wonderlic test and then in the interview stage he absolutely shot himself in the foot. In fact, from what I've heard now he would literally have been better off shooting himself in the foot prior to the interview stage.

Considered by some to have been the ring leader of the problems at North Carolina, he then apparently threw his old college and some of his team mates under the bus with the answers he gave when pressed about the issue.

This for me then is the crux of the matter. Physically speaking and talent wise speaking, I think Marvin Austin could be a truly very talented defensive linemen. However, those character red flags are huge. Like Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens and JaMarcus Russell thrown into one man huge.

While it would be very easy for me to sit here and say he's a 2011 watch lister for sure because of his natural talent and then back out later if it all goes wrong, based on character issues, I'm not. I'm going to have to say right now that everything I have heard gives me strong reservations about Austin.

On then to round three and Jerrel Jernigan, wide receiver, Troy.

Jernigan is a tough package to pin down. See, mentally he is very well equipped. He ran wildcat plays at Troy and when he talks you can tell he really understands what it is he's talking about. His balance is good and he takes hits well. He's quick and agile.

Bu... On the other hand, I'm not sure if Jernigan has ever caught a pass beyond 10 yards? He's very much a short range receiver, the type of guy who comes out of the slot and runs crossing routes, or the kind of player you throw a lot of screens to.

That could be a concern. Teams in training camp don't really have time to sit down and explain to a player how to run the full route tree. Certainly that problem is enhanced by the lock out, with Jernigan just one of the work stoppages many victims. Overall, I'm looking at him now and saying to myself that his game is not complete enough. I smell whiffs of Reggie Bush, someone who occasionally makes great plays but can't pull all the disperate elements of the position together into a whole.

Fourth round now and it's James Brewer, offensive tackle, Indiana.

Having not seen Brewer before I slipped on the film (that's not a euphamism by the way) and tried to find out a bit about James Brewer. What I found is a tackle who overall is fairly solid, but has a really bad habit of standing up.

No, I don't mean he's shit at musical chairs. I mean he doesn't bend the knees properly in order to recruit the power in his legs to help him block. In addition he sometimes loses track of who he's supposed to be blocking, letting someone fly clean through on the inside while he tries to kick slide out and take on a phantom defender.

Either that or Indiana needs to start drug testing its gatorade.

Brewer isn't terrible, he's certainly no Mike Person. He has raw skills in terms of his hands. But he doesn't really have the talent to be more than a bench warmer in the NFL, not unless the Giants coaching staff break out the coaching job of a lifetime.

The fifth round saw nothing for the Giants because they weren't picking. In the sixth however they came up three times due to a pair of compensatory selections. The first of their sixth was Greg Jones, Linebacker, Michigan state.

Prior to the draft I didn't know who Greg Jones was, so I sat down to watch (no slipping on film this time) and waited to be amazed.

An... As it turns out, I was!

Excuse me while I gush about Greg Jones for a minute or two, although as it takes much longer to type than to read, this will probably only take you a few seconds, and now I'm rambling.

Anyway, Jones is awesome. Quick, tough, smart, reads the play well, tackles well. Watching Jones is like going back and watching Mike Singletary in the 80's. He really is a great all round player at linebacker, which is a massive bonus for the Giants.

Having lost Antonio Pierce many people thought the Giants would come right back in 2010 and grab rookie Rolando McClain. That is until the Raiders swooped early and took him. So in the end the Giants had to settle for plan B which consisted of former Titans MLB Keith Bulluck.

Now I think we may be about to see the baton passed down to Jones. Bulluck is a good player and a free agent, but surely would consider the possibility of coming back for one more year and helping Jones to develop into everything that he can be. Go on Keith, you know you want to.

In short, keep an eye on Jones. Excellent potential from where I'm sitting.

Next up is Tyler Sash, safety, Iowa. Ok, so Sash is someone I didn't really pay a lot of attention to pre-draft, but who (or whom) now has my full attention. I really like Sash and for where he was taken in the draft I think the Giants got themselves a nice pick.

The thing about Sash is he has a lot of playmaking ability. Now that's kind of a vague phrase so let me expand on that theme. One of the things that has made guys like Troy Polamalu, Brian Dawkins, and Charles Woodson so prominent in recent seasons is the fact that they keep cropping up all over the field.

Now I'm not sure we need to put Sash in that category just yet but he is very much, for me at least, the kind of player who pops up all over the field making plays. Not just in pass coverage, but also as a tackler against the run and occasionally rushing the QB.

I think Sash has that skill set and would excel as a strong safety in the NFL. He might even be able to drop in as a "will" linebacker in the Giants 4-3 scheme, so we'll just have to wait and see. But the potential is clearly there for the kid. Keep your eyes out for Sash.

Finally in the bottom of the sixth (no, this is not going to become a baseball site, I hate baseball more than the Panthers) we have Jacquian Williams, linebacker, South Florida.

Again, Williams is a name that didn't crop up much pre-draft so this was the first good look at I got at him and I have to say I'm impressed. Now, being a 4-3 linebacker it can sometimes be difficult to judge a player like Williams.

For the most part they have one gap to fill against the run or often just a short zone to cover in the passing game, and they don't do a lot of rushing around independently, and certainly don't get the same opportunity to shine in the pass rush compared to their 3-4 counter parts.

Bu... They do however get some chances to display their full range of skills and Williams certainly took those chances well. He's not the greatest tackler in the world but I've seen a hell of a lot worse in the NFL. He gets stuck in, he's smart and he has a great turn of speed.

He strikes me as quite a disciplined player, prepared to do the boring jobs if necessary for the benefit of the team at large, which is precisely the kind of player that coach Tom Coughlin will like to see. As a former Parcells student, like Bill Belchick, he's likely to have a natural affinity for a kid like Williams who strikes me as a "Parcells guy".

One last pick then and finally I can go to sleep. It's like 5:15 am here. That's me though, going the extra mile just for you guys.

It's Da'Rel Scott everybody! Running back, Maryland. Pre-draft all I had to say about him was "slow in pads". I literally wrote, "that is all" afterwards. So having sat down with a mug of coffee and had a better look, what nugget of wisdom can I share with you about Da'Rel Scott?

Slow in pads.

I should point out that if you didn't know, Scott ran the fastest 40 time at the combine among running backs with a 4.34 officially. But if ever there was proof that you should pay no attention to 40 times, it's Scott. In pads he looks a lot slower and very hesistant.

In the open field he can open up the gas and let it burn, but early on in his runs he's quite slow. At this juncture you're probably ready to shout at me about 'patience to the hole' and yes to a degree that appears to be what you get with Scott, bu... oh wait its ok, I'm in the middle of a sentence. But (damn it!) there's patience and there's prolonged, procrastinating patience.

The end result is one of two things; either he busts out a big play or more commonly he gets stopped for a relatively short gain. In turn it's those long plays that have pumped up his yardage. Indeed some of them were very long. You just get the sense however that he's not a consistent yard gainer. When the O-line can open stuff right up for him then he can break one off, but overall for my money he doesn't bring enough from down to down to be more than a sporadic back up.

In conclusion then, I think the Giants did pretty well. There are a number of players in there who I think can contribute early and if nothing else then at least be solid in year 1. The Austin pick I think was a gamble that I don't believe will pay off, but if it does then expect it to pay off big time.

And that's the thing about this draft class for the Giants. It has a solid core, it hit a number of positions which would be considered needs for them (secondary, linebacker) and it also has that raw element to it with guys like Austin, Brewer and Scott who in all likelyhood are a little suspect right now but all have that little acorn of potential that could make a big difference in the future if developed the right way.

Either way, the Giants did well and once again Tom Coughlin I have to salute you. Now stop giving the damn ball to Eli Manning and run it for Gods sake.

Last but not least, thanks everyone for dropping by and if you wouldn't mind hitting that little facebook button at the bottom and sharing me with your friends I'd be very grateful. The more people that read, the more cash I can make from the ads, which means I can take more holidays in Italy.

Did I say holidays? I meant to say I could spend more time devoting myself to producing good articles for you.

P.S. On a genuine note and just as a random little tidbit between friends, I'm afraid of flying. Well actually that's not quite right. I'm afraid of heights and I'm afraid of crashing into the ground in a big ball of flame while being crushed by the weight of the aircraft behind me. The furthest I've ever travelled was to Normandy in France, for a miserable week when I was about 11.

Thanks for listening.

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