At noon today, the third day of the NFL draft kicks off with the 101st selection, first in the fourth round, held by the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s a day for filling out rosters, taking more chances, and finding the hidden gems that are left from among the players picked through in the first three rounds of the draft. Scouts, general managers, and coaches alike have been up most of the night pouring over their notes and lists looking for the next Tom Brady, Richard Sherman or Alfred Morris.
Jerry Reese had great success the later rounds in his first draft, finding Kevin Boss and Ahmad Bradshaw, but that golden touch seems to have abandoned him in recent years as no third day picks have developed into starters for the Giants. That trend needs to reverse today if the team’s fortunes are to improve.
Tight end remains the biggest position of need and although Reese gave Adrien Robinson a vote of confidence in the media recently, the Giants will be look at those remaining closely today.
Colt Lyerla, from Oregon, is 6’4”, 242 pounds, and runs the 40 in 4.61 seconds and has all the skills to excel as a professional. However, he grew up in an unstable environment and has been in and out of trouble, had suspensions, been involved with drugs, and shown questionable judgment on multiple occasions. Drafting him would be a risk, although Lyerla is determined to prove his critics wrong. Locker room leadership would be crucial to his success with the team. Aaron Hernandez profile coming out of college read “cleaner” than Colt Lyerla’s.
Marcel Jensen played at Fresno State and is smooth off the line, has the speed to get down field, and the size, 6’6”, 259 pounds, to create mismatches. Not viewed as an instant starter in the NFL, Jensen will need time in an NFL weight room and needs to refine his blocking technique. He’d be better suited as the second tight end drafted by the Giants, however, given how the first three rounds have broken that is not an option for the team.
On the offensive line, there are several players with second day talent available. The will need to be taught technique but no one does that better than Tom Coughlin and his staff. Antonio Richardson from Tennessee is a 6’6” 336 right tackle with 35 inch arms. He has the agility to play on the left if he learns the hand techniques. Richardson is a raw talent that will take time to develop but can play at the NFL level.
Cyril Richardson from Baylor is boom or bust guard prospect and is powerful run blocker that has questionable motivation. If properly motivated and with time in a NFL weight room, he could develop into a hybrid right tackle/guard. This Richardson might last until the fifth round.
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is expected to be the first overall pick in the Canadian Football League draft. He is a 6’5”, 321 pound, aggressive run blocker that seeks to bury his opponents. He played left tackle in college but is expected to play on the right or inside in the National Football League. His technique will require refinement as he attended McGill University in Canada and the Canadian game has slight differences to the American version.
David Yankey from Stanford is a player that scouts have the most varied opinions on than any player in this year’s draft, save Johnny Manziel. Yankey was included in some mock draft first rounds and projected as a fifth round selection by others. At Stanford, the 6’6”, 315 pound Yankey played both tackle positions, both guard positions, and lined up at tight end, versatility that will appeal to the Giants. He excels at pass protection, and is an intelligent player, but his play is stiff, and he does not overpower defenders.
If the Giants wand to add another player to their defensive line rotation, Ed Stinson from Alabama can play both end and tackle and is an exceptional run defender. Stinson is well conditioned and won’t wear down during games. Although not flashy, he’s gritty, tough, and competitive, and is the type of player who will have a long, quietly productive career.
Shamar Stephen, from Connecticut, is a raw 6’5”, 309 pound defensive tackle that a can be developed into a consistent every down player. A solid player with good character, Stephen relied on his size and athletic ability in college and will need to go to school on technique to succeed on the professional level.
Linebacker has been an overlooked position for the Giants in recent drafts. Adrian Hubbard from Alabama is a strong 6’6”, 257 pound specimen who has yet to reach his potential. He will need patient coaching and a strong locker room to ensure that the light bulb come on. But if it does, he will be a very good player.
Christian Jones from Florida State played both strong weak side linebacker. He is a physical tackler, is fast, flows to ball, and is highly athletic. Jones football instincts are lacking and he is slow to diagnose and react to plays. If he is able to learn and process a defense, his play will reach another level.
With Will Hill facing another drug related suspension, safety has become a position of concern for the Giants. It is a weak position in the 2014 draft, but there are a few promising athletes worth considering today.
Dion Bailey is a classic tweener, capable of playing either safety or linebacker on the pro level. He will be an excellent special team player, that can play safety in a pinch and nickel linebacker. Bailey’s biggest challenge will be staying healthy.
Brock Vereen’s brother, Shane, is a running back for the Patriots. Brock is a cover safety who needs to improve his run support skills. Strong and fast, Vereen plays gunner on special teams and excels in man coverage on defense. He is a vocal leader who will step up on defense and infuse his passion for game into his teammates. His hands are small and he does intercept a lot of passes.
There are quality players available today, for those teams who have done their homework. With an unprecedented number of underclassmen entering this draft, the deep talent pool ensures that quality players can be drafted in every round. There is no reason why a starter isn’t found in round four and rotational players/future starters drafted thereafter. Viewed as a make or break draft for Reese, the players drafted today will make that determination.