The Giants surprised all of the draft experts last night by selecting LSU receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. with their first round pick. While he will fill the void left by Hakeem Nicks departure nicely, the team has glaring holes that will need to be addressed starting with the second round kicking off tonight at 7 PM.
Every NFL draft takes on a life of its own, with each player selected immediately impacting the next, falling like dominoes until the last player is selected. Certainly the Giants would have considered Eric Ebron, the North Carolina State tight end and Taylor Lewan, the Michigan Left tackle, both of whom were selected by Detroit and Tennessee, respectively, in the picks immediately preceding their own. The surprise first round selection of Marcus Smith, Louisville DE/LB by the Eagles, and the Vikings trading back into the round to take quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will benefit the Giants today as the players not selected in those slots will flow down to the Giants at pick 43.
The Giants three biggest needs remain offensive line, defensive line, and tight end and all three positions have sufficient players available that a quality athlete will be left on the board after the ten selections are made in front of them. Perhaps the most surprising name still on the list is Cyrus Kouandjio, the huge Alabama offensive tackle.
Standing at 6’7” and weighing in at 321 pounds, Kouandjio comes with medical concerns about his left knee that the offensive tackle worked to dispel by circulating a letter to all 32 NFL teams from renown surgeon Dr. James Andrews. While it’s impossible to know the opinion of Giants team physician Dr. Russell Warren, the team would certainly be tempted by Kouandjio if he were still available when their turn came up.
Another huge offensive tackle, Morgan Moses, a late riser in the draft, is also a thought for pick 43. Viewed as more of a project, he has the 6’6” size and 314 pound frame as well as the 35 3/8” arms that NFL teams covet. Questions about his work ethic and toughness lead to his slide. Versatile Joel Bitonio, profiled in this article, also made it into round 2, and is a versatile lineman that would give the Giants a lot of options for line configurations.
Top guard prospect Xaviar Su’a-Filo started 14 games as a true freshman and was one of the fastest linemen at the combine. Although he played some left tackle at UCLA, Su’a-Filo best projects to the inside as a pro.
One of the biggest surprises in the first round was fast, athletic Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy not being taken. He ranked 22nd on both Gil Brandt and Todd McShay’s prospect lists, and is able to play both end and tackle on the defensive line. He will surely come off the board early this evening. His college production not equaling his talent is thought to have caused him to fall.
Ra’Shede Hageman is a 6’6” 310 pound defensive tackle out of Minnesota University that has power and explosion and likely fell out of the first round because he is too tall to play tackle in the NFL and will need to be converted to defensive end. Having completed 32 reps in the bench press on the combined, Hageman has strength to go with his size and speed and will be a disruptive force on the defensive line and would be a good choice to replace Justin Tuck if he slips down to the Giants slot in round 2.
Two Notre Dame defensive lineman, end Stephon Tuitt, and tackle Louis Nix III were both considered first round talents and went undrafted last night. Nix is considered more of a nose tackle and therefore probably would not fit the Giants scheme, however, Tuitt is 6’5 ½” and has 34 ¾” arms, bench pressed 31 times, and is extremely athletic. He played injured for most of 2013, which may explain his drop out of round one, Brandt describes him as the “potential steal of the draft.”
A failed drug test at the combined is the reason for Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan’s fall. His agent claims it was due to over-hydration that resulted in a diluted sample, but since the NFL does not release the results of the tests, that cannot be confirmed. Warren Sapp had a failed drug test the day before the draft and went on to have Hall of Fame career, and while I’m not comparing Jernigan to Sapp, it’s worth mentioning only because failing one test is not the end of his NFL career. If the Giants due diligence reveals a serious issue, they should steer clear, however, if it was simple a case of over-hydration, Jernigan could be a real value pick in the second round.
Only one tight end was picked in round one, but the talent pool is shallow this year. Three remain, and two of them, at minimum, should make it to the Giants at pick 43. Austin Sefarian-Jenkins is a 6’5 ½”, 262 pound former basketball player that uses his size and skills to box out defenders and fight for the ball. While lacking explosion, Sefarian-Jenkins has all the tools to become a number one tight end in the NFL. There are character concerns about the Washington University tight end as he was suspended for the first game last season after crashing his car while driving at twice the legal intoxication limit.
Jace Amaro is a pure receiving tight end from Texas Tech that will need to develop as a blocker at the NFL level. Often lining up in the slot, the 6’5” ¾ Amaro has the speed to stretch the speed and uses the skills he developed on the basketball court to box out defenders. He has a nasty streak and was one thrown out of a game against Minnesota for throwing a punch at a defender.
Troy Niklas is a converted defensive lineman who has played tight end for only two years, at Notre Dame, and is still improving at the position. At 6’6 ½” and 270 pounds, he has the size to succeed but will be a work in progress due to him limited experience at the position. Niklas would be a risky pick for the Giants in round 2 as they need immediate help at the position and Niklas is not likely able to step in and start from day one.
As the second round unfolds, keep an eye on the number of quarterbacks that are selected. The Texans are certain to take one with the first pick, and the Raiders and Titans could potentially draft one with their selections at 36 and 42. A run on quarterbacks will only benefit the Giants as it will allow their preferred athlete, likely one of men profiled above to slide into their welcoming arms at slot 43.