Victor Cruz: A Giant Return in the Making

Victor Cruz made a big splash during the Giants media day last week, when he said he expects not only to be on the field for the Giants September 13th season opening game in Dallas, but that he will be back in his old form. Rampant optimism is nothing new from the fifth year wide receiver, as he has been predicting a full recovery for himself from the time he tore his patellar tendon last October in Philadelphia. The Giants organization has not shared his optimism, maintaining a cautious outlook about the receiver’s immediate and long term future. That’s why it’s noteworthy that General Manager Jerry Reese said today in a New York radio station WFAN interview that he expect Cruz to be on the field for this season’s opening game.

As recently as February at the NFL Scouting Combine, Reese was saying that the team was not counting on a contribution from Cruz in 2015. Despite reports that he was ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation, Reese made it clear that the Giants were planning their off season as if they would be without his services. Today, he reversed course and said that Cruz is 85 to 90 percent of the way complete with his recovery and made the shocking opening day pronouncement. If a highly conservative source like Reese says it, the most skeptical of naysayers should be satisfied. Reese added that that the final stages of Cruz’s rehabilitation is moving at “A snail’s pace” to avoid setbacks. Reese said that he expect Cruz to come back at 100%, adding another affirmation to his suddenly optimistic view.

Tom Coughlin predicted a highly successful rehabilitation for Cruz if it was a matter of putting in hard work when he initially addressed the media following Cruz’s injury. He praised the wide receiver’s work ethic and predicted a full recovery if dedication and effort were the main requirement. Seven months later, Coughlin seems like a prophet as Cruz is nearing the end of the process and all signs point towards his making a complete recovery. The final hurdle will be running and making cuts, and Giants360 cannot find any evidence that he has undertaken this crucial step. When he does, we will bring all the pertinent information for your immediate consumption.

La’el Collins update: LSU offensive tackle La’el Collins met with the Baton Rouge police for over an hour this morning and reportedly answered all of their questions regarding the murder of Brittany Mills. The police reiterated that Collins is not a suspect in the murder and that the investigation is ongoing. Collins attorney told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that the free agent tackle will seek to get his football career back on track. While not yet fully absolved, that step is expected to happen later in the week, and Collins will be scooped up quickly be one of the NFL franchises. I wrote my views on the Giants potentially signing him on Fantasy Sports Warehouse, and you can read the article here.

Draft Notes: Reese said that Stanford offensive tackle Andrus Peat was on their draft board, but Giants selection Ereck Flowers was rated higher. He said Flowers has a left and right tackle skill set and Reese envisions him as a long term left tackle at some point in the future. Gushing about second round pick Landon Collins, Reese mentioned his leadership, winning pedigree, and versatility. He also said that Collins, “Fits what Steve Spagnuolo envisions at safety.” Reese called Owa Odighizuwa an edge rusher when Mike Francesa claimed the Giants had not drafted one. Reese added that Odighizuwa has “A strong skill set, long arms, and all the tools to rush the passer,” and sees him as having a huge upside.

Regarding Mykkele Thompson, the fifth round pick that surprised everyone, including Thompson himself, Reese called him a “Height, weight, speed kid,” and praised his ability to chase down receivers in the open field. Reese said Thompson a pure free safety. Reese referred to sixth round wide receiver Geremy Davis as a David Tyree/Jason Avant type of player. Both are excellent special teams players and known for their blocking ability. Reese called seventh round selection Bobby Hart a player with “Winning in his pedigree,” and sees him as a guard despite his playing offensive tackle at Florida State. He added that Hart will provide depth along the offensive line.

Reese is he’s pleased with the off season the Giants have had, but insisted that team is not done making moves. Asked about Justin Pugh’s future with the addition of Flowers, Reese deferred to Coughlin, indicating that whether Pugh plays offensive tackle to guard is up to the coaching staff. Reese said that plan for the season is to improve, win the division, get into “The tournament,” and compete for a Super Bowl. Reese spoke about the the mini camp scheduled for this weekend, and said they are inviting a lot of “Look-see” guys, players they will bring in to take a look at. While not discussed with Francesa, a surprising number are Canadian players are included on the mini camp roster. The names Giants360 has uncovered are in our article about the Canadian player infusion. Reese expects this team to get back to “Giants football” and, pressed for a definition, Reese explained it is “Passionate, physical, tough football, that when after you play us, teams will still feel into the next week. We want a big, tough, physical, smart football team that is passionate about what we are doing. ”

Reese is pleased with the free agent additions, saying the team brought in players that are a good fit for what the Giants do. He added that the signings upgraded key positions on the team, which was the objective going into the offseason.

Cursing Madden: Odell Beckham, jr. is one of four finalists to be on the cover Madden Football ’16 along with Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, and Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson. The voting site is here. Those worried about he Madden Curse should consider that Richard Sherman was on the cover of Madden Football ’15 and had a healthy, productive season. The curse appears to be broken, but Giants360 would still prefer if one of the other players won the honor.

Are you following Giants360 on Twitter? If not, you are missing out on a community of 22,000 that talk Giants football every day. Prefer a more intimate setting? Like us on Facebook. It’s a smaller group, but it’s still All Giants. All Year Round.

New York Giants Rookie Minicamp has Canadian Flavor

The Giants will hold their rookie mini camp next weekend, giving us out first glimpse of the 2015 draft class. The names of the players invited to attend have not been officially released by the team, but they are slowly leaking out and are being cobbled together by various media outlets covering the Giants, including Giants360 – more on that in a bit. Earlier this year, the Giants made a big splash when they signed the top offensive lineman from the Canadian Football League (CFL), Brent Jones, to a free agent contract. Yesterday, Giants360 learned that eight additional top Canadian rookie prospects have been invited to attend the rookie mini camp and impress the Giants coaching staff to earn one of the Giants 90 off season roster spots.

Giants Assistant GM Kevin Abrams

Giants Assistant GM Kevin Abrams

The Giants Canadian connection is Assistant General Manager Kevin Abrams, a native of Toronto, Ontario, who did his undergraduate studies at the University of Western Ontario. Abrams has been with the Giants since 1999, when he joined the team as a contract negotiator and salary cap analyst and has steadily risen through the ranks to his current position as Jerry Reese’s top lieutenant. According to Giants360’s source, Abrams is the reason the Giants are turning over every rock north of the border to find the best talent Canada has to offer in order to bolster the Giants roster.

University of Montreal linebacker Byron Archambault, a native of Montreal, Quebec, is the most impressive of the seven prospects scheduled to attend next weekend’s mini camp. At the CFL’s National Scouting Combine, Canada’s equivalent of the National Football League’s Scouting Combine, Archambault set a 2015 combine best 41 bench press repetitions. He was six short of the all time Canadian record, and ten below the NFL’s record of 51, set by Eastern Kentucky defensive tackle Justin Earnst in 1999. Earnst went undrafted and did not translate his combine record into a NFL career.

Byron Archambault

Byron Archambault

Archambault wasn’t done setting CFL combine bests on the weight bench, as he ran the best shuttle run, a test of explosiveness, with a time of 4.18 seconds. The NFL record is 3.81 seconds by Tennessee defensive back Jason Allen, who played for three different NFL teams from 2006 to 2013. Archambault is 5’11”, 243 pounds, and ran the 40 yard dash in 4.83 second. Archambault drew interest from American colleges following high school, but a snafu with his eligibility files, some with a hyphenated name, Byron Perez-Archambault, and others as Byron Archambault, prevented him from coming south for college. Arkansas was among the universities interested in him. Keep and eye out for the name Byron Archambault next weekend.

Defensive back Tevaughn Campbell turned heads when he set a CFL electronically timed 40 yard dash record with a time of 4.355 seconds. The former University of Regina player, 5’10” and 186 pounds, was second in both the broad jump (10 feet, 9 3/4 inches) and the Vertical Jump (38.5 inches). From Toronto, Ontario, Campbell has the good fortune to having an impressive set of skills at a position of need for the Giants, and will showcase his wares for Tom Coughlin and Steve Spagnuolo next weekend.

Sean McEwen

Sean McEwen

Two Calgary Dinos’ offensive linemen will join be attending. Sean McEwen is considered the 6th ranked prospect at the CFL combine, and recorded the fifth best bench press performance with 27 repetitions. At 6’2″, and 303 pounds, McEwen, from Calgary, Alberta, bring impressive size and strength in his quest to join the growing ranks of Giants offensive linemen. McEwen ran the 40 yard dash in 5.01 seconds. Dinos’ line mate Sukh Chungh will fit in well with the keyboard twisting names that Giants have added to the rosters of late. From Port Coquitlam British Columbia, he stands 6’4″, and weighs 300 pounds. Chungh ran the 40 yard dash in 5.27 seconds. Both will face the same challenge as Jones, adjusting to the different blocking angles in the American game, but as we learned in 2013, a team can never have enough quality offensive linemen.

Jacob Ruby hails from London Ontario, but played his collegiate ball at the University of Richmond. He is a mammoth offensive tackle, standing 6’6″ and weighing 312 pounds. Ruby runs the 40 yard dash in 5.26 seconds and started 47 games during his collegiate career.

Having caught passes from Colin Kaepernick at the University of Nevada, wide receiver Lemar Durant subsequently transferred to Canadian Simon Fraser University. In 25 games at Simon Fraser, he caught 175 passes, for 2,392 yards, and 28 touchdowns. Standing 6’2″ tall and weighing 233 pounds, Durant is a big target with decent speed, running the 40 yard dash in 4.55 seconds. The Colquitlam, British Columbia native is a dual Canadian/United States citizen.

Daryl Waud

Daryl Waud

Defensive lineman Daryl Waud attended Abrams alma mater, the University of Western Ontario, and is the third ranked prospect by the CFL Scouting Bureau. He was invited to play in the East-West Shrine game, and turned a few heads with the plays he made in the game. At 6’4″, 282 pounds, Waud runs the 40 yard dash in 5.12 seconds, giving him the size and speed needed to make an impact in the NFL. At the CFL Combine, Waud was disappointed by his performance, as he was largely shut down – by fellow Giants mini camp attendees McEwen and Chungh.

Add wide receiver Addison Richards to the fray, at 6’5″, 205 pounds, Richards is a red zone target in the making. Running the 40 yards dash at a respectable, but mid range4.63 seconds, Richards will not stretch the field like current Giants phenomenon, Odell Beckham, jr., but he will cross into the vacated slots in the defense left when Beckham whizzes by. Richards played in the East-West Shrine game, and showed that he was able to hold his own with the top American prospects in the game. He needs to improve his route running and skills at releasing off the line of scrimmage.

Some players on the Giants roster will be among the players attending the rookie mini camp, with the names being released later in the week. If Brent Jones is among them it will bring the total Canadian attendance to a total of eight players. Giants fans may find themselves saying, “Nice play, eh?” at Metlife Stadium in the fall.

Rutgers QB Gary Nova

Rutgers QB Gary Nova

It’s important to keep in mind that the undrafted free agent (UDFA) signing winds change as frequently as the tides in the days that follow the NFL draft. The Giants currently have 5 roster spots available for UDFA’s, and can always create more by waiving players. The following six have been rumored to have signed contracts to join the team, but can’t be confirmed without a statement from the team or seeing their name added to the official roster: Illinois tight end Matt LaCosse, Maryland linebacker Cole Farrand, Western Michigan free safety Justin Currie, Purdue running back Akeem Hunt, Cincinnati defensive end Brad Harrah and Tulane offensive tackle Sean Donnelly. Some new additions from Ralph Vacchiano’s The Blue Screen are wide receiver Taylor Belstering from Huntington College in Alabama, cornerback Qua Cox, who attended Jackson State and Colts camp last summer, and defensive tackle Donte Rumph, Kentucky, who was in Falcons camp last summer, and was interviewed by your author and Preston Bailey when he we both were guests on Bailey’s excellent Smash Mouth Sports program.

Other players reported to have accepted invitations to attend the Giants rookie mini camp are: Cincinnati defensive end Brad Harrah, Penn State defensive end Brad Bars, Tulane tight end Mat Marsifi, Southern Connecticut defensive end Carlif Taylor, and Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova. Check back here frequently as Giants360 will update this list throughout the week as more information becomes available and we confirm the reports we’ve seen about the camp attendees.

Giants Draft Fever: Should The Giants Have Traded Down?

The dust has settled on the first round of the 2015 NFL draft, and the draft pundits have taken to the airwaves this morning analyzing each team’s pick. The consensus on Ereck Flowers seems to be that the Giants reached in taking him 9th overall. Could Jerry Reese have traded down, picked up an extra draft pick or two, and still gotten his man? If you listen to the experts, the answer is a simple yes, but life in the NFL is seldom simple. In order to complete a trade, a willing partner is required, as Chip Kelly learned the hard way yesterday evening. There was no player on the draft board who would so titillate a general manager that he would give up picks to move up and get him.

The cost to trade up for Gurley was prohibitive

The cost to trade up for Gurley was prohibitive

Immediately after the Giants selected Flowers, the St. Louis Rams selected Georgia running back Todd Gurley. Supremely talented, but coming off a serious knee injury, Gurley also has the misfortune of playing the most devalued position in professional football. Trae Waynes, the ultra fast cornerback from Michigan State went to the Minnesota Vikings with the 11th pick and, while talented, he has a reputation as lacking in technique, making him a bit of a project player. The Cleveland Browns followed with Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton, a player once linked to the Giants. Shelton is a run stuffer who lacks pass rushing prowess and is not the type of dominating defensive lineman that teams jump up to draft.

Stanford offensive tackle Andrus Peat went off the board next, to the New Orleans Saints, but with this draft replete with offensive lineman, any team needing one would have either pick of those remaining, making the sacrificing of draft picks unnecessary. Wide Receiver Devante Parker was drafted by the Miami Dolphins at 14, another player at well stocked position on this draft, again making a team less likely to give up draft capital to take one.

San Francisco and San Diego completed a trade that saw the Chargers draft Gordon

San Francisco and San Diego completed a trade that saw the Chargers draft Gordon

San Diego and San Francisco did execute a trade at pick 15, with the Chargers giving the Forty-Niners fourth and fifth round picks to move up two spots and select Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon. It was a steep price to pay to move up just two spots, and demonstrates the high value placed on first round picks. In order for the Chargers to move up from 17 to 9, the value chart used to balance trades would require that they surrender their second round pick. If Chargers General Manage Tom Telesco wanted Gurley instead of Gordon, that was the asking price the Giants would want for their pick. And then they would have to hope that Flowers was still there at pick 17.

Another team in need of a running back is the Arizona Cardinals, who had the 24th pick in the first round. If Steve Keim wanted to make a move up to draft Gurley, his second and third round picks would not be fully sufficient to balance the trade. Given the depth at running back in this draft, he would be better off waiting and picking a back with one of those picks rather than sacrificing his entire second day of the draft and still have the Giants looking for more.

The Giants took almost the entire 12 minutes allotted to make their first round pick, indicating that they either were debating internally about several available players or they were exploring potential trades. As the scuttlebutt on the day had the team targeting Flowers if Brandon Scherff was off the board, it is reasonable to assume that Reese was doing his due diligence and talking to teams about moving down. The last time the draft as in Chicago, there was no time limit on picks, and Reese may have had time to find someone with which to complete a trade. In 2015, with the limited 12 minute window of operation, no one bit, and the Giants drafted Flowers. In a draft class where the players from pick 10 to pick 55 are described as indistinguishable, and a matter of team preference, this should come as no surprise.

The Giants360 Prospect Tracker has three players primed for the Giants to pick in the second round. Ohio State defensive tackle Mike Bennett would pair nicely with Johnathan Hankins to form all Buckeye run defending wall in the middle of the Giants defensive line. There are also a pair of pass rushers, LSU’s Danielle Hunter and UCLA’s Owa Odighizuwa who would form a strong book end to Jason Pierre-Paul to keep opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable in the pocket. Some consideration would also have to be given to Alabama safety Landon Collins if he were to slip all the way to pick 40, given the Giants need at the position. He was seen as a potential top 20 pick at one point in the draft evaluation process, and the confluence of value and need might be too great to pass up. It would cost the Giants their 4th round pick to trade up to spot 33 to get him.

Will Kelly change jobs to coach "Marcus Marioto?"

Will Kelly change jobs to coach “Marcus Marioto?”

One of the biggest stories yesterday afternoon was Chip Kelly’s pursuit of his Oregon quarterback, Marcus Mariota. Philadelphia was engaged in trade talks with the Tennessee Titans up until the Titans selected Mariota (Or Marioto, as Roger Goodell called him), but were unable to complete a trade. This morning, as Giants360 was perusing news and rumors, the one that jumped out is speculation that Kelly will now seek to jump ship from the Eagles to the Titans in order to coach Mariota. To the best of our knowledge and belief, this is nothing but idle speculation, amusing idle speculation, but it’s nothing more that “Spit balling.” Kelly is busy mending fences this morning with the players he dangled in front of the Titans to try to entice them to make the trade, including his presumed starting quarterback, Sam Bradford. Team morale in the City of Brotherly Love can’t be running high on May Day.

Today on Fantasy Sports Warehouse, we take a look at Round 2 in depth and discuss if the Giants should trade up to acquire Alabama safety Landon Collins.

Follow along with the Giants360 Twitter as the Giants make all of their picks in the 2015 draft. It’s a community of followers nearing 22,000, and we look at the Giants from every conceivable angle. We are also on Facebook.

Giants360. All Giants. All Year Round.

Giants Draft Fever: New York Giants Pick Tracker

The draft picks will be coming off the board fast and furious over the next three days. Giants360 will be your one stop shop for tracking who the Giants pick and the skinny on the men joining the drive for ring number five. Check back here early and often as will be updating the draft trackers all draft long. It’s a national holiday here at Giants360. Come celebrate with is.

Giants Draft Fever: 360 Prospect Tracker

During our draft coverage, Giants360 identified multiple players who fit the new Giants player mold, team leaders or players with a track record of accomplishment. Men dedicated to football and demonstrating a work ethic that improves their chances of making an impactful contribution on the field. Jerry Reese has gone out of his way to say that the team will not avoid players with troubled pasts, but Giants360 interprets that as a classic smoke screen. If other teams know the Giants will pass on a player because of an off field incident, it will make their decisions as easy as a fantasy draft when your opponents are auto-drafting. An isolated incident in the past won’t turn off the Giants, but a pattern of off field behavior, or arguing with coaches, authority figures or law enforcement will cause the team to drop the play far down on their draft board or remove him completely. None of the players profiled by Giants360 have this type of background, we skipped over those players, if identified in online media coverage, walterfootball.com, or Nolan Nawrocki’s 2015 NFL Draft Preview.

Another objective for the 2015 Giants is to reduce their two season league leading injury profile. Players with an injury history are highlighted in red on this list and are dropped down in our projected round accordingly. NFL teams perform multiple and redundant medical screenings on prospective players, but as Rashad Jennings pointed out that week, “This is football, man,” and players get injured. You assume some additional risk when drafting a player who had an injury history in his collegiate career.

Keep an eye on these men, a few may wind up wearing blue come May 3rd, and if they do, you will read about it in this space, possibly more than once. Especially if we correctly pick the player and the round…

Have You Seen These People?

Lamb 03

See more of comedian/cartoonist Pat Lamb’s work on his web site www.patlamb.com

And connect with Pat on Twitter: @lambchops1

Giants Draft Fever: Day 3 Names to Watch

Draft week coverage continues on Giants360, as we identify three prospects in each later round from our Draft Six Pack Series for you to keep an eye on while digesting the draft coverage this Friday and Saturday. The players fit the new Giants draft profile, showing strong leadership skills, a high character, and a dedication to football. If you would like to read about all the players we reviewed, here are the links, by position to the Six Pack Series:

Safeties

Defensive Linemen

Linebackers

Offensive Linemen

Receivers & Tight Ends

Running Backs

Cornerbacks

The draft tracker will be up tomorrow with all the names, by round, that we identified as fitting the Giants draft profile. As the draft rolls on, we will update the list to show when and by whom the prospects were drafted. We will also profile each of the Giants selection to provide you with the best information possible on the newest members of the team.

On Day Three of the draft, teams are selecting mostly for depth. The occasional starter is uncovered, but those are few and far between. The Giants may have found two in the 2014 draft, with fifth round picks Devon Kennard and Nat Berhe slated to start this season. Below are three names per round to keep an eye on as the names scroll by quickly on Saturday. If the Giants pick one or two of them, you know we’ll be crowing about it endlessly.

Round 4:

Anthony Chickillo, DE/DT, Miami (FL): Described as a “Film junkie with very good football intelligence,” Chickillo, a 47 game starter for the Hurricanes, prepared for college games as if he were a professional player, and the results showed on the playing field. Chickillo, a team captain for Miami, recorded 170 career combined tackles, including 25 for loss. Although he has limited athletic ability,  Chickillo brings a tireless work ethic and high energy with his game to compensate. He runs a 4.79 in the 40 yard dash, but is strong enough to set the edge, something that was missing on the right side of the Giants defensive line last season.

Davis Tull, OLB/DE, Tennessee-Chattanooga: With rare lower body explosion, and a weight room work ethic that the Giants coaches will hope is contagious, Tull, a Mocs team captain and Three Time Southern Conference Player of the Year will need to prove his skills translate against a higher caliber of competition. Starting 48 games for Tennessee-Chattanooga, Tull registered 37 sacks and 60 tackles for loss, but critics argue that his numbers are inflated against inferior competition. At 6’2″, 246 pounds, and possession 4.57 speed in the 40, Tull has the measurables of a NFL linebacker. Tull can get caught in blocks, and lack coverage skills, making him a developmental project. He will need a year to develop, but as a small school player with upside, and possessing the leadership and character traits the Giants value, Tull encapsulates both the old and new versions of a Jerry Reese draftee. That may be too much for Reese to resist.

Dres Anderson, Son of Flipper

Dres Anderson, Son of Flipper

Dres Anderson, WR, Utah: The son of 10 year NFL veteran receiver Willie “Flipper” Anderson, who will forever haunt Giants fans who witnessed his overtime catch and tunnel run touchdown in a 1989 post season game at Giants Stadium. Dres was a Utes team captain, and 32 game starter, before a knee injury ended his college career. Before that injury, Anderson was viewed as a potential second round pick, however, he was not an explosive receiver prior to the injury, and if it robbed him of what little explosion he had, it will negatively impact his pro prospects. Anderson is excellent at beating press coverage and getting off the line, getting into routes quickly, and finding the soft spots in zones. He is also a good, although inconsistent blocker, and blocking is something the Giants value in a wide receiver. With a solid NFL pedigree, and good college production, medical evaluation of the 6’1″, 187 pound Anderson will ultimately determine where he’s drafted. Brace yourself for Flipper Anderson clips when he is finally selected, especially if it’s late in the day and the coverage is getting to it’s rambunctious stage.

Round 5:

Mike Hull, MLB, Penn State: Hull was a team captain for Penn State, and racked up 218 tackles in just 2 seasons of play. Critics argue that the Penn State defensive line allow him to roam free and make plays unfettered, and believes he will have continued issues disengaging from blocks as a professional. Hull demonstrated a solid work ethic and keen awareness for the game in his 23 career collegiate starts. With the Giants strong need for the position, and Hull’s heavy production, this match may be too perfect to pass up.

Laurence Gibson, LT, Virginia Tech: Described as “Humble and grounded,” Gibson earned dual degrees in Sociology and Psychology from Virginia Tech. He also has the long 35 1/8 inch arms that scouts like to see on a massive 6’5″,305 pound left tackle frame. While long arms alone don’t make for a successful NFL tackle, Gibson’s strong run blocking and ability to get to the second level will help his cause. Pass protection has been an issue for Gibson, as he stands to tall and gets out leveraged by both speed and power rushers. Considered a “Developmental left tackle,” if Gibson’s technique can be honed, he has the makings of a solid starter or potential NFL swing tackle, both invaluable finds for a fifth round selection.

Zach Zenner

Zach Zenner

Zach Zenner, RB/FB, South Dakota State: Zenner dominated lesser competition with the Jackrabbits, compiling 1,095 carries, 6,548 yards, and 49 touchdowns in his collegiate career. He added 95 receptions for 909 yards and another 7 touchdowns. Not a fluid or graceful runner, Zenner has good vision, and the strength to push the pile. A willing blocker, and durable, Zenner would be an idea candidate to play fullback in a West Coast offense, and has the hands to thrive as a receiver out of the backfield. Criticized for piling up yards against lesser competition, Zenner’s big games against Nebraska and Missouri went a long way towards allaying those concerns. What can’t be overlooked are his excessive number of collegiate carries, which makes some believe he will wear out faster than other backs entering the league this year. His upright running style also makes Zenner vulnerable to taking big hits, another warning sign for durability concerns, although they did not materialize at South Dakota State. The same criticism was given to Brandon Jacobs, and he was durable and effective throughout his nine year career.

Round 6:

Anthony Harris, FS/CB, Virginia: A versatile athlete, Harris has what scouts describe as “Good eyes,” reading the quarterback well, and reacting to what he sees to make plays in the secondary. Harris is a an outstanding special teams player, as well as a free safety and nickel cornerback, and will be able to contribute to a team as a core special teamer if he is not able to crack the defensive lineup immediately. An aggressive tackler, Harris has struggled with injuries because of his rough and tumble playing style, and can be vulnerable to play action. NFL quarterbacks will take advantage of his propensity to bite on play action fakes if he does not work through to correct this trait.

Zack Wagenmann

Zack Wagenmann

Zack Wagenmann, DE/OLB, Montana: Wagenmann broke his foot in a pre-draft workout last week, which may cause him to go undrafted, but this 6’3″, 247 pound, “Tweener” will push for playing time on an NFL defense, once healthy. A two year captain for the Grizzlies, Wagenmann holds three team records, sacks (37.5), tackles for loss (53), and forced fumbles (11). Tough, as well as intelligent, Wagenmann played through a torn labrum in his junior season, but with his latest injury, durability may become a concern for some teams. With only 14 bench press reps at the NFL Scouting Combine, Wagenmann will benefit from time in a professional weight room, and might require a season to develop as a defensive player. With an excellent character,  high motor, and good work habits, Wagenmann’s profile in the Nawrocki Draft Guide reads like a Giants prospect. He is a player the team should consider on May 2nd.

Bobby McCain, CB, Memphis: At 5’9″, 195 pounds, the undersized McCain uses his 4.43 speed in the 40, quickness, and explosion to make up for what he lacks in height. A four year starter at Memphis, McCain demonstrated his ability to play against a higher level of competition at the East-West Shrine game. McCain’s man coverage skills were on display in that game, and McCain also has the awareness and discipline to play zone coverage in the NFL. He struggles to match up again taller receivers and can be out jumped, neither of which can be corrected. McCain’s press coverage skills can be improved, and his right knee meniscus, which was torn and required surgery to repair, will need to be examined before he is drafted.

Round 7:

Deon Simon, DE/DT, Northwestern State: The pride of the Demons in Natchitoches, Louisiana, Simon brings a thick build and a huge power base that allows him to “Ragdoll” blockers and beat double teams. Generating power from the lower half of his body, Simon, a 6’4″, 321 pound team captain at Northwestern State, moves well for a big man. As is the case with many larger players, Simon fatigues easily, and his technique suffers when he is tired. He has a reputation for playing down to the level of his opponent and reacting late on misdirection plays. But, as the time honored adage says, “You can’t teach size,” making Simon a top day three prospect.

Sean Hickey, Justin Pugh's Choice

Sean Hickey, Justin Pugh’s Choice

Sean Hickey, LG, Syracuse: Before Justin Pugh mentioned him at his press conference last Thursday, Giants 360 had already identified Hickey as a potential draft day target for the Giants. A team captain for the Orangemen, Pugh’s former college teammate allowed just two sacks in his final three collegiate season. Durability is the main concern with Hickey, as he has suffered ACL, PCL, hamstring, labrum, and ankle injuries during his college career. Despite the cornucopia of injuries, Hickey started 38 games for Syracuse, but has what are described as “average” blocking instincts, and is not considered a strong finisher. With Pugh’s internal recommendation, he may get a shot with the Giants, either with one of their 7th round picks, or as an undrafted free agent.

E.J. Bibbs, TE, Iowa State: A team captain for the Cyclones, Bibbs lined up inline, as a wing, and flexed out. He also played special teams at Iowa State, enhancing his value to a NFL franchise. With modest speed at 4.88 in the 40 yard dash, the 6’2″ 258 pound Bibbs is fast enough to create separation, but will not be elusive after the catch. He runs fearlessly across the the middle, and has a knack for finding the soft spots in zone defenses, but won’t stretch a defense. He is described as needing a “Patient” coaching staff, and may take some time to develop, but that’s where his special teams prowess will enter into the formula.

Giants360 will be live tweeting the draft all three days. Come join the party with 21,500 of your closest friends in the biggest interactive online community of Giants fans anywhere. Check back here frequently for information and analysis of the players selected. You can also follow along on Facebook.

Giants360. All Giants. All Year Round.

 

Giants Draft Fever: Day 2 Names to Watch

Draft week coverage continues on Giants360, as we identify three prospects in each later round from our Draft Six Pack Series for you to keep an eye on while digesting the draft coverage this Friday and Saturday. The players fit the new Giants draft profile, showing strong leadership skills, a high character, and a dedication to football. If you would like to read about all the players we reviewed, here are the links, by position to the six pack series:

Safeties

Defensive Linemen

Linebackers

Offensive Linemen

Receivers & Tight Ends

Running Backs

Cornerbacks

We are setting up a player trackers for draft day that will show where the players in our Six Pack Series wind up after the dust settles. Some of these players may go higher than the round assigned by nfldraftscout.com, our source for determining lifely draft round. In fact, one of our Round Three players appeared in the Giants360 Mock Draft as a Round One selection, but that’s the fun of the draft. Players rise, players fall, with some over drafted, and others reached for rounds before their talent dictates.

Round 2:

Byron Jones, CB/FS, Connecticut: Jones has been selected in mock drafts anywhere between late in Round 1 through early Round 3. He’s durable, with 39 collegiate starts, as well as versatile, having spend time at both cornerback and free safety, making Jones a player who would provide help at two positions of need for the Giants. Critics point to the level of competition he faced at Connecticut as a sign that he should not be over drafted, but his measurables make the scouts mouth’s water. The Giants publicized their visit with him at Connecticut, making Giants360 skeptical of their actual interest, as the team rarely drafts player in the early rounds that they allowed their opponents to know they were interested in.

Owa Ozighizuwa

Owa Ozighizuwa

Owa Odighizuwa, OLB/DE/Pass Rush Specialist, UCLA: Pronounced Oh-Wuh Oh-DIGGY-Zoo-Wuh, this former team captain for the Bruins has a chiseled physique that gives him the strength to set the corner. A hard worker, and tough competitor, Odighizuwa explodes off the edge and makes plays in the backfield, as evidenced by his 12.5 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss in his just 21 career UCLA starts. Odighizuwa has a reputation as an over-analytical player who needs to refine his technique and react rather than think on the field. Hip surgery also cost him his junior season at UCLA, making the Giants medical evaluation critical prior to committing a high draft pick to Odighizuwa, as the team seeks to lower their league leading injury profile. Odighizuwa was selected many times immediately before the Giants turn at pick 40 in Giants360 simulated drafts on fanspeak.com indicating he would be targeted in that area.

A.J. Cann, LG, South Carolina: Cann started an incredible 51 games at South Carolina and was a two time team captain for the Gamecocks while competing his African-American Studies degree. Agile and athletic, Cann understand leverage and positioning, and can get to the second level fluidly to execute blocks on linebackers. His relatively short arms (32 5/8 inches) and slow speed (5.47 in the 40 yard dash) limit him to an interior position, but his ability to play left guard fits the Giants need on their offensive line like a glove. It would allow Geoff Schwartz to move to right guard, his preferred position. Cann is an overwhelmingly positive presence in the locker room, raising both the spirits and the game of the players around him. If the Giants do not pick and offensive lineman in the first round, Cann would be a top option to finish their offensive line in the second.

Round 3:

Quinten Rollins, CB/FS, Miami (OH): Rollins played just one season of college football and was named the Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Another versatile, small school player, Rollins struggled against a higher level of competition when he faced it in the Senior Bowl and may need some time to adjust to the NFL. With a history of leadership, captaining teams throughout his high school and collegiate careers, Rollins has repeatedly demonstrated the work ethic and tenacity to overcome these obstacles and make the jump to the next level.

Denzel Perryman

Denzel Perryman

Denzel Perryman, MLB, Miami (FL): Perryman is the consummate inside linebacker and has gone in mock draft anywhere from the late first round to the the early third round. If the Giants were able to get him at pick 74, he would be the steal of the draft. We reluctantly gave him to the New Orleans Saints at Pick 31 in our mock draft. An undersized linebacker, at just 5’11” and 236 pounds, Perryman also struggles in pass coverage, causing some to view him as a two down linebacker, and explaining his drop on some draft boards. And instinctive player, and violent tackler, Perryman registered 351 combined tackles in his Hurricanes career, eye popping productivity that is hard to ignore. They NFL player comparison he most often receives is the Giants’ Jon Beason. His draft profile in the Nolan Nawrocki Draft Guide reads like a Giants’ player.

Ali Marpet, C/LG, Hobart: The fastest riser in the 2015 draft, Marpet overcame his small school stigma, by blowing away scouts with his Senior Bowl performance. The only Division III invitee to the game, Marpet not only proved he belonged on the field with the higher pedigree players, but was recognized at the best offensive lineman in the game, silencing critics. A two time Captain for the Statesman at tiny Hobart College in Geneva, NY, Marpet was named Co-Liberty League Offensive Player of the Year, the only offensive lineman to be so honored. He is a driven player, who constantly works to improve his game, can play guard or center, and is highly competitive, all skills that will help him succeed in the NFL. Blitz pickup is an area where Marpet need to improve, and he will have to show he can maintain the level of performance he displayed at the Senior Bowl.

If the Giants were to draft Odighizuwa and Rollins to go with Brandon Scherff, it will fill three areas of need with high quality players. Giants360 would like to see the team draft a true linebacker with a high pick, but the position does not seem to be a high priority under Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin. Perhaps this is the year that the team reverses that trend and jumps starts the tradition of play makers at the second level for the Giants.

Giants360 will be live tweeting the draft all three days. Come join the party with 21,500 of your closest friends in the biggest interactive online community of Giants fans anywhere. Check back here frequently for information and analysis of the players selected.

Giants360. All Giants. All Year Round.

 

Giants 360 Second Annual Mock Draft

We’ve studied the draft bible, you all know it’s name by now, Nolan Nawrocki’s 2015 NFL Draft Preview. We’ve peeked at some other mock drafts, and listed to the the “experts” on ESPN and NFL Network. Then we looked at team needs and how prospects might fit them. Now, we will weight in with out own Mock draft. Thirty-two selections for thirty teams, as Seattle and Buffalo are without first round selections in 2015. Was it fun to do, surely. Are we crazy, definitely. But in this mid-off-season oasis we call the NFL Draft, we like to live it up over here.

Without further ado, the second annual Giants360 mock draft:

Pick 1: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Winston, Jameis, QB, Florida State

Analysis: Tampa Bay takes the only QB with franchise potential in this draft and hope off the field issues don’t bite them in the ass. Giving Winston a NFL home just 4 hours from his college friends is risky. It could pay big dividends, or be another in the long long line of Tampa Bay QB busts.

Pick 2: Tennessee Titans – Williams, Leonard DT/DE USC

Analysis: Despite making some noise about Marcus Mariota, the Titans biggest need is on defense, and the team believes that Zack Mettenberger can develop into a franchise quarterback. Barring a trade from a team interested in the aforementioned Mariota, the Titans jump on the draft’s best player.

Pick 3: Jacksonville Jaguars – Fowler, Dante, OLB/DE, Florida

Analysis: Fowler fits perfectly into the Jaguars scheme and also plugs a major hole at linebacker for the team. It’s one of those rare instances in the draft where value and need converge.

Pick 4: Oakland Raiders – White, Kevin, WR, West Virginia

Analysis: Everything about Kevin White screams Oakland Raiders. His size, his speed, his reputation for running poor routes and have difficulty gaining separation. He has game breaking potential and may develop into a perrenial all-pro. But, he could also fail to launch. See, a Raiders pick, through and through.

Pick 5: Washington Redskins – Ray, Shane, OLB/DE, Missouri

Analysis: Oft injured linebacker Brian Orakpo left in free agency, and the Redskins need to replace him. Ray is a hybrid linebacker/defensive end that will terrorize quarterbacks with his speed.

Pick 6: New York Jets – Mariota, Marcus, QB, Oregon

Analysis: The current Jets quarterbacks are Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Mariota is a boom or bust prospect who will need time to adjust to working from a huddle and pocket in the NFL. Fitzpatrick can hold down the fort while Mariota learns the ropes, and how to take a snap from center.

Pick 7: Chicago Bears Beasley, Vic, DE/OLB, Clemson

Analysis: John Fox has a well earned reputation as a defensive mastermind extending back 20 years to his time as Giants defensive coordiantor. While It will be tempting to take Amari Cooper here, Fox will push to take the best available defender. That’s Beasley.

Pick 8: Atlanta Falcons – Waynes,Trae, CB, Michigan State

Analysis: Dan Quinn came from Seattle where the legion of boom lead the Seahawks defense to back to back Super Bowls appearances. He will be seeking to duplicate that success in Atlanta and Waynes will be the first piece of the puzzle.

Pick 9: New York Giants – Scherff, Brandon, OT/OG, Iowa

Analysis: Jerry Reese is left with a choice between Amari Cooper and Brandon Sherff. While pairing Cooper with Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz could take the Giants offense to great heights. If Eli Manning is upright. Brandon Sherff will complete the offensive line, power the running game,and complete the offense. Easy choice.

Pick 10: St. Louis Rams – Gregory, Randy, DE, Nebraska

Analysis: Gregory’s positive marijuana test caused him to slide in the draft, but his talent won’t let him slide past Jeff Fisher. Despite having one of the top defensive lines in football, the Rams won’t pass up Gregory’s talent, and adding him will give St. Louis the best front seven in the NFL.

Pick 11: Minnesota Vikings – Collins, Landon, SS, Alabama

Analysis: The Vikings need help in the secondary, and take the top safety in the draft to add a building block to their defense. Having traded for Mike Wallace, the Vikings no longer have a strong need for a wide receiver and pass on Amari Cooper.

Pick 12: Cleveland Browns – Cooper, Amari, WR, Alabama

Analysis: Cooper’s surprising mini slide stops in Cleveland, where the Browns desperately need play makers. He is an immediate upgrade over free agent additions Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline.

Pick 13: New Orleans Saints – Dupree, Bud, OLB/DE, Kentucky

Analysis: The Saints off season plan is to decrease the number of points it takes to win games. In order to do that, they must stop their opponent from scoring points in bunches. Dupree gives them a edge rusher who fits Rob Ryan’s scheme. The first of many defensive picks on the weekend.

Pick 14: Miami Dolphins – Peat, Andrus, OT, Stanford

Analysis: In order for the Dolphins to compete in 2015, Ryan Tannehill need to be upright. Andrus Peat is the most viable left tackle prospect in the draft. The Dolphins add him and plug him into their lineup on opening day.

Pick 15: San Francisco Forty-Niners – Armstead, Arik, DE, Oregon

Analysis: The once top ranked 49ers defense has suffered from injuries, free agency, and retirements all hitting in a shortened window. They begin restocking their talent with the talented end from Oregon.

Pick 16: Houston Texans Parker, Devante, WR, Louisville

Analysis: Houston needs to replace Andre Johnson and give presumed starter Ryan Mallet another dependable target to go along with DeAndre Hopkins. Some draft analysts put Devante Parker up in the same stratosphere as Amari Cooper and Kevin White.

Pick 17: San Diego Chargers – Gurley, Todd, RB, Georgia

Analysis: Ryan Matthew left in free agency, leaving the Chargers with an injured running back corps made up of Donald Brown, Ronnie Brown, Danny Woodhead, and Brandon Oliver. Todd Gurley’s knee is fully recovered and he will immediately jump into a starting role with the Chargers.

Pick 18: Kansas City Chiefs – Flowers, Ereck, OT, Miami (FL)

Analysis: Offensive line is a big need in Kansas City in order to give Jamaal Charles room to operate. Eric Flowers is one of the better run blocking tackles in the draft, and will boost the Chiefs line immediately. Andy Reid won’t be able to resist him.

Pick 19: Cleveland Browns – Williams, Maxx, TE, Minnesota

Analysis: Cleveland adds another weapon with their second first round pick, grabbing the draft’s best tight end to replace the departed Jordan Cameron. Maxx Williams will pair up Amari Cooper to give the Browns a dual receiving threat comparable to any in the NFL. But who will throw them the ball?

Pick 20: Philadelphia Eagles – Peters, Marcus, CB, Washington

Analysis: Secondary was the Eagles biggest weakness in 2014, and Chip Kelly addresses it early, by grabbing one of the best press cornerbacks in the draft. He will team with free agent additions Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond to greatly improve the Philadelphia pass coverage this coming season.

Pick 21: Cincinnati Bengals – Brown, Malcolm, DT, Texas

Analysis: With the draft deep in wide receivers, the Bengals pluck the best run stuffer remaining on the board to fortify their defensive line in the ground and pound AFC North. Cincinnati like to keep their defense full of young talent capable and Brown has a lot of upside potential. He will be part of their line rotation immediately.

Pick 22: Pittsburgh Steelers – Collins, Jalen, CB, LSU

Analysis: Two stalwarts of the Steelers secondary retired this off season as both Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor called it a career. Pittsburgh starts the replacement process with LSU cornerback Jalen Collins. Look for them to add more defensive backs later in the draft.

Pick 23: Detroit Lions – Goldman, Eddie, DT, Florida State

Analysis: The Lions lost both Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley to free agency and replaced one of then by trading for former Raven Haloti Ngata. They draft the next placement in Florida State DT Eddie Goldman. Such is the way in the modern NFL – refresh the talent and preserve cap space.

Pick 24: Arizona Cardinals – Gordon, Melvin, RB, Wisconsin

Analysis: One of the weaknesses on a very strong Cardinals team is at running back, and the Cardinals fill that hold by drafting Melvin Gordon. He will provide the thunder to Andre Ellington’s lightning and provide balance to the Cardinals offense that must protect Carson Palmer’s weak knees.

Pick 25: Carolina Panthers  – Collins, La’el, OT/OG, LSU

Analysis: If Carolina hopes to return to the playoffs for a third straight season, they must protect Cam Newton, and free agent Michael Oher, twice released, by Baltimore and Tennessee, isn’t the answer. LSU lineman La’el Collins can play tackle or guard and will beat out Oher for a starting job.

Pick 26: Baltimore Ravens  – Strong, Jaelen, WR, Arizona State

Analysis: Baltimore lost Torrey Smith in free agency, and Steve Smith, Sr. is one year closer to being Steve Smith, Senior Citizen. The Ravens wide receiving unit gets a needed inlux of youth in the form of Jaelen Strong, who will push for playing time immediately.

Pick 27: Dallas Cowboys – Phillips, Jordan, DT, Oklahoma

Analysis: With both big running backs off the board, this decision is easy for Stephen Jones, the brains behind the Cowboys smarter drafting of late. They snag the best defender on the board to give Rod Marinelli a weapon to deploy while awaiting Godot, also known as DE Greg Hardy, who has been suspended for 10 games.

Pick 28: Denver Broncos – Erving, Cameron, C,  Florida State

Analysis: One year removed from a Super Bowl appearance, the Broncos suffered a major loss along their offensive line when Orlando Frankin signed with division rival San Diego. They draft a reinforcement in the form of C/G Cameron Erving, one of the best interior linemen in the 2015 draft. Protecting Peyton is paramount.

Pick 29: Indianapolis Colts  – McKinney, Benardrick, ILB,  Mississippi State

Analysis: The Colts need to improve their defense, and McKinney, run stuffing middle linebacker will help them match up against the running game of the Patriots that gashed Indianapolis in their two meetings last season. This is the first of many defensive players drafted by the Colts this weekend.

Pick 30: Green Bay Packers – Shelton, Danny, NT/DT, Washington

Analysis: Green Bay re-signed B.J. Raji, but he is coming off a serious knee injury and they need to add depth to their defensive line. Shelton was through to be the best defensive lineman in the draft by some, but his motor is questionable, and he’s best suited to play in a 3-4 defense. He’s a big Boom-Bust prospect.

Pick 31: New Orleans Saints – Perryman, Denzel, ILB, Miami (FL)

Analysis: New Orleans continues beefing up their defense with the pick received from Seattle in the Jimmy Graham trade. Maxx Williams would have been a consideration here, but he’s already off the board. Hurricanes linebacker Denzel Perryman will seize control of the middle of the Saints defense for the next decade.

Pick 32: New England Patriots – Harold, Eli, OLB/DE, Virginia

Analysis: Drafting late, Bill Belichick does what he always seems to, find the overlooked prospect. Eli Harold is an undersized, underrated pass rusher, who will fits well in New England’s scheme. He may take some time to develop, but he will provide push off the edge in the Patriots sub packages immediately and be looked at as a first round steal with this draft is reviewed in 5 years.

With the drop off in talent at pick 10 this year, and another coming in the mid 40’s in the second round, picking this mock draft was a challening, but entertaining proposition. If we correctly identified 24 of the 32 first rounders, and got 8 to the correct teams, we will consider it a successful endeavor. Especially if the Giants wind up finishing their offensive line with the talented offensive lineman from Iowa. We’d consider that grand slam, and judging from your reactions on Twitter, so would the majority of the Giants360 following on Twitter.

We will be posting our three favorite players in each round from our Draft Pick Six Series over the next four days to give you names to watch as the draft coverage unfolds. Giants360 will be tuned in for the entire draft, flipping between ESPN and NFL Network and live tweeting the entire event. We encourage you to come watch with us and read about the players drafted here.

Giants360. All Giants. All Year Round.

A Giants Draft Prediction???

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See more of comedian/cartoonist Pat Lamb’s work on his web site www.patlamb.com

And connect with Pat on Twitter: @lambchops1