March has come in like a lion, and will go out much the same. Free agency seems like a distant memory as all eyes turn to the draft. The 2015 New York Giants squad is taking shape, with one more major opportunity to add talent just a month away. Many of your questions pertain the the April 30th draft, and our thoughts are coming together on what we think Jerry Reese will do. With that in mind, on to your questions, as the mailbox overflows:
Doug Adams [@douglascadams] asks: If you were betting today, does Justin Pugh start the season at offensive guard or offensive tackle
Giants360: The replacement for Justin Pugh at right tackle is not on the roster. Based on his arm length, Pugh is a natural guard, as explored earlier this week in At Arm’s Length. I’ve thought since the end of the season that the Giants should draft an offensive tackle at pick 9, let him compete for the right tackle job, and move Pugh inside to strengthen the overall offensive line. It doesn’t appear there is a tackle in this year’s draft worthy of being taken that high. An offensive lineman will be taken, but later in the draft, and Pugh will open the season at his customary right tackle position.
P.S. Didn’t I see you hitchhiking around somewhere, Mr. Adams?
Donna Rose [RecklessD20] asks: If you could trade Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin for anyone else, would you? And with who?
Giants360: This week’s most thought provoking questions made me dig deep into my brain and think what combination of coach and quarterback I’d take over the dual Super Bowl winning tandem of Manning and Coughlin.
Brady and Belichick have won four, but can’t beat the men we’d be trading for them, so they’re out. Sean Payton and Drew Brees are also champions and have set all sorts of offensive records in New Orleans, but are also not as accomplished as a package as the Giants incumbent duo.
How about Chip Kelly and Sam Bradford? Maybe I shouldn’t have had that last beer before sitting down to answer the mailbag. Chuck Pagano and Andrew Luck in Indianapolis are a tempting pair, but the Colts are allowing Pagano to coach on the last year of his contract, indicating they are not sold on him as the long term solution. The only coach and quarterback combination worthy of consideration is Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, but again, Coughlin and Manning have bested McCarthy twice, and Rodgers once in the playoffs.
I’ll stick with the who we have, thank you.
Shawn Crow [@bigblueqbkiller] asks: Have the Giants altered their training staff or training technique in order to slow does the season long injuries?
Giants360: They have not changed their strength coach or head trainer, however, they did make majors change after the 2013 season to reduce the rash of minor muscle injuries that plagued the team two years ago. GPS devices monitor player health, exertion, and fatigue and relay the information back to the training staff. Multiple times, Tom Coughlin stopped practice early to take the team inside the Quest Diagnostic Training Center for recovery stretches. While some minor pulls and sprains are always inevitable, those were reduced in 2014.
The injuries that decimated the Giants, especially on defense last season were muscle tears, broken bones, torn tendons, and other major injuries, that to the best of my knowledge cannot be easily prevented in what Vince Lombardi so aptly called a “Collision sport.” One school of thought is that the reduced practice time in the 2011 CBA has resulted in players being less “Game ready” and therefore more susceptible major injury. That’s purely anecdotal, but give the apparent increase in league wide ACL teams, and the Giants bout with major injuries, there may be some substance to it.
Born2Fish74 [kvronka] asks: Do you have a mock draft for the Giants?
Giants360: We will put out a complete mock draft of the first round and targets for the Giants, as we did for the 2014 draft, as draft day draws closer. I’m currently flying blind, as the draft guide I have relied on since 2004, published by the former Pro Football Weekly lead draft expert Nolan Narwocki, is not due out until mid April. I am anxious to see his take on several prospects to narrow down my picks. Until then, the site will be previewing prospects and trying to determine who best fits with the Giants needs.
After months of believing the Giants will draft offensive tackle in the first round, this stance is weakening. The value appears to be at other positions, and may be too great for Reese to pass up when the Giants are on the clock.
David Goliath [@GoliathDave] asks: With all the talent on offense, and the offensive line still sub par, it could sabotage the season. When will the Giants get serious about the offensive line?
Giants360: April 30th or May 1st. One of the team’s top three draft picks has to be an offensive lineman. The value on the second day will be at guard, leaving Justin Pugh at right tackle, where he has been good, but not great. Earlier this week, we put the offensive line in the spotlight, asking if the five starters for opening day are already on the roster.
Will Beatty is under appreciated due to his two bad games last season. Weston Richburg will be moving to his natural position of center and should take a step forward in his second season, while Geoff Schwartz return from injuries will give the offensive line it’s biggest boost.
The wild card is top Canadian Lineman Brett Jones. If he is able to make the transition to the American game and maintain his All-Star level of play, it will take this line to a new level. If not, Reese needs to find a lineman on day 2 of the draft who can step in and start immediately. If either John Jerry or Marshall Newhouse is pressed into starting duty, your pessimism is justified.
Brandon Maraldo [BMaraldo] asks: In your opinion, if the top three offensive lineman, Brandon Scherff, Andrus Peat, and La’el Collins, one wide receiver, Amari Cooper or Kevin White, and safety Landon Collins are all there at pick 9, where do you think we go?
Giants360: This scenario is possible, although less likely with Randy Gregory’s recent drug test failure potentially pushing him down on team’s draft boards. The Giants have a history of drafting players from LSU, but rarely talk publically to the players that they plan to draft early. Giants personnel were seen talking to La’el Collins at the LSU Pro Day this week, making me think he’s not the pick. Peat is the most physically gifted of the linemen, but there are questions about his motivation and technique, traits one does not want in a top 10 selection. Pick 9 is too high for Landon Collins despite the Giants glaring need.
That leaves either a wide receiver or Scherff. Cooper’s corrected 40 time of 4.38 seconds may push him up into the top 5, especially with the Oakland Raiders in desperate need of play makers. Choosing between White and Scherff, I think Scherff is the man, despite being viewed as a guard by some draft pundits, would be the pick from this lot of players.
Michael Shea [@cirrusdriver] asks: If there is a can’t miss wide receiver would that tempt the Giants at pick 9?
Giants360: Without question. The more I read, the more I’m convinced that Amari Cooper would get strong consideration is he slides down to the Giants slot. NFL.com has Cooper rated at their number 2 overall prospect in the 2015 draft, and if the Giants rate him similarly, that kind of talent will be hard to pass up, despite needs in other areas. I don’t believe Kevin White is as highly valued, but I only have access to “Draft expert” board, not the team board that would reveal such secrets. I don’t believe Cooper will get past the Raiders as pick 4.
JuneBug [@lovettmarvin] asks: Will the Giants draft a free safety?
Giants360: The team will address the position in the draft, however, my research has shown a lack of pure free safety prospects. There are, however, several cornerback prospects that project as safeties in the NFL and my sense is the Giants will draft on of them. Connecticut’s Byron Jones, Utah’s Eric Rowe, Ohio State’s Doran Grant, and USC’s Josh Shaw are four of the higher ranked prospects that fit into this category.
Gil Brandt, the former Dallas Cowboys Vice President of Player Personnel, and highly respected expert on the draft and talent acquisition, was addressing the Giants need for a safety on Sirius NFL radio on Friday Night’s Late Hits program. While acknowledging the need, Brandt made a very simple, but powerful statement, “You can find safeties.” The Giants have several talented cornerbacks on the team and they are much harder to come by than safeties. They will find a safety.
Charlie G [@g68_charlie] asks: If he falls that far, is it a crazy thought for the New York Giants to take Melvin Gordon in the second round of the draft?
Giants360: It’s not a crazy thought, but it’s one I’m not crazy about. Wisconsin running backs do not have a stellar history in the NFL. In order to find a successful Badger runner drafted in the top 2 rounds, one has to look all the way back to 1955 when the then Baltimore Colts took Alan Ameche 3rd overall. Since then, names such as Terrell Fletcher (Chargers, 2nd round, 1995), Michael Bennett (Vikings, 27th overall, 2001), Montee Ball (Broncos, 2nd round 2013), and, of course, Ron Dayne (Giants, 11th overall, 2000) have all underwhelmed. These failed picks are no reflection on how Gordon will fare in his professional career, but it’s a 60 year track record of mediocre runners that should be considered.
The Real Rainman [@raygt40] asks: Who is your best offensive lineman in the draft?
Giants360: It’s a toss up between Ereck Flowers and Brandon Scherff. Flowers has the best chance of developing into a ten year left dominant left tackle, but has had some issues with a torn meniscus. Taking a player with a history of injury with that high a pick is always a tricky proposition. Scherff is the most NFL ready prospect, but is a guard/tackle tweener. The Giants already have one of those in Justin Pugh. If healthy, Flowers gets the nod. If not, it’s Scherff.
Collin Cook [@Cook98C] asks: What are your thoughts on FS Gerod Holliman, from Louisville? Do you think he is worthy of second round pick?
Giants360: His 14 interceptions show he has the ability to be a ball hawking safety in the NFL. However, he is not a strong run support safety. While this is not as important a quality in a free safety, it would detract from the overall run stoutness of the Giants defense. Given their need at the position, and the lack of pure free safeties in the draft, the Giants would have to look at him at pick 40, although he’s probably more appropriate in the third round, at pick 74.
Collin Cook [@Cook98C] asks: With all the offensive line signings in free agency, do you think the Giants go defense in the first round (say Danny Shelton) and then focus on offensive line in the later rounds?
Giants360: Looking at the talent drop off in the later rounds, and comparing it to the Giants needs, this scenario is looking more likely. Quality defenders drop off the board quickly, while there are quality offensive linemen available on the second day. Shelton may not be the ideal selection, as the Giants needs are at defensive end and linebacker. The signing of Kenrick Ellis, adds him to a group that includes Jonathan Hankins, Jay Bromley, and Cullen Jenkins. One of the hybrid edge rushers, like Florida’s Dante Fowler, or Clemson’s Vic Beasley would give Steve Spagnuolo a nice new toy to play with in 2015.
The Giants360 draft-o-meter for pick 9 has started to move off of offensive lineman and point towards impact defender. But with more than a month to go, the meter is fickle, and readings change with each passing day.
The mailbag was stuffed full this week and we are thankful for your participation.
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