If you have been reading my Daily NFL Draft Prospect Profile series, you have likely figured out that one of my favorite draft sites is Draft Countdown.
I love the information provided by DC's mastermind, Scott Wright, and the easy-to-read style in which he writes his profiles.
Since we are not doing much these days except counting down hours to the upcoming draft, I reached out to Scott. We spent some time talking about our New York Giants recently, and he had lots of interesting things to say about what might happen in a few weeks.
Wright is one of those prognosticators who, with Rolando McClain off the board, has C.J. Spiller going to the Giants in his current Mock Draft. He explains the pick, and the current 'Spiller-Mania' surrounding the Giants, this way.
"I think it's a possibility, and from a value standpoint C.J. Spiller is definitely a good value there in the middle of the first round. A lot of teams can probably make the case that he is one of the top 10 talents in this draft. The problem is in some ways he's a bit of a luxury pick because he's not an every-down player, but I think the Giants are probably one of those teams that could justify going with a player like that.
"I don't know if they have many defensive needs, to be honest. Yeah, they did not get good production from the defensive tackle position last year, but they still have Canty and Bernard, who they gave the big contracts to who they are expecting to bounce back. Jay Alford's coming back from the injury and they like him. Barry Cofield they tendered, so they're going to be 3-4 deep at the defensive tackle position. Could they use some help there? Yeah, probably, but I don't think it's a glaring need.
"The only glaring need on the Giants roster that I think screams out is middle linebacker. Well, if Rolando McClain's gone there isn't going to be a middle linebacker in the first round who's worthy of that pick."
That assessment means that Wright does not see Missouri's Sean Weatherspoon as a 4-3 middle linebacker. I have made the argument that while Weatherspoon 'could' play the middle taking him at 15 for that purpose is not smart since it is not his best position. Wright makes a similar case.
"There's some debate whether a) that's too high for Weatherspoon and b) whether he's even a good fit as a middle linebacker. The consensus is that he's going to be more of an outside guy on the weak side.
"I'm a big Sean Weatherspoon fan. I've been a fan of his for a long time and I think he had a great week at the Senior Bowl and I think he's one of these guys that kinda got picked apart a little bit by going back for his senior year. He wasn't quite as productive, but still had a very good year and I like Sean Weatherspoon.
"Is he capable of playing middle linebacker? Sure, but is that his best position? Is that where he is going to be most effective? I don't think so, and that's not the sense I've gotten from people I've talked to, either. He's going to be a weak-side linebacker in the NFL where he can run around and use that speed and range.
'I think for the Giants in Round 1 it's going to be Rolando McClain or if he's gone then they're going to have to look at a position other than linebacker."
Trading up in the draft and surrendering later picks has not been the Giants MO. With the obvious spot in the Giants' lineup for McClain I asked Wright whether or not he thought the Giants should consider making that type of move this time around to ensure putting McClain in the middle of Perry Fewell's defense.
"Every team loves to trade down and get those extra second- and third-round picks, but at the same time a team like the Giants that's so close seemingly what are they doing with these second- and third-round picks? Yeah, they got good talent, some guys like Will Beatty and Travis Beckum, but they were backups. What good is all that talent if they can't get it on the field?
"I think there is something to be said for a team in the Giants situation to go with the quality over the quantity."
To illustrate his point, Wright contrasted the 12 picks made by Dallas with the three made by the New York Jets.
"They (the Jets) ended up making three total picks, but two of 'em were Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene, who were not only huge factors in their success last year but are two of their key building blocks going forward.
"It's nice to get those extra picks, it looks good on paper," Wright continued. "The Giants are trying to win now and they're close. I think there is something to be said for being aggressive, maybe giving up some of those picks and moving to make sure you get your guy in McClain who not only addresses your No. 1 need but is a very talented player and is essentially going to be the leader of your defense for a decade.
"If I'm the Giants I'm ABSOLUTELY considering moving up trying to get Rolando McClain."
Of course I had to ask Wright what he thought about my selection of Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan in our BBV Community Mock Draft. He scored points with me by saying he liked the pick. Here is Wright's reasoning, and you might be surprised by it.
"If they can't get McClain I think defensive end definitely will be in the mix, more so than defensive tackle if for no other reason than the value aspect of it. I mean, the top two tackles -- Suh and McCoy -- are gonna go in the top three overall. The next guy is Dan Williams from Tennessee, and not only would he probably be a bit of a reach there at 15 but also he doesn't fit the Giants' scheme. The Giants want those defensive tackles that can penetrate and rush the passer and Dan Williams, he's a run-stuffer.
"I don't see a defensive tackle being there. Defensive end is a place where they could potentially need some help, and there could be value whether it be Derrick Morgan, Jason Pierre-Paul or someone like that.
"The Giants have shown time and time again how much value they place on those defensive ends, those pass rushers. Considering the uncertainty with both (Osi) Umenyiora and (Mathias) Kiwanuka I could definitely see them going for a defensive end there."
Wright maintained that the Giants are a team that can take a long-term view of the draft because, despite missing the playoffs in 2009, they have a quality roster.
"It's not like they're the St. Louis Rams where they have 10 different glaring needs. They're relatively set in terms of their starters. With the exception of Rolando McClain I don't know if there is another guy they could draft at any position you can say is going to come in and be an instant starter. They have one of the better starting rosters in the league so they're one of those teams that can have one eye on the future.
That's a great luxury to have. I think we saw that last year in the draft where they weren't bound by need like a lot of teams are and they were able to simply take the best players available. I really liked what the Giants did in the draft last year. Granted they didn't get as much of an 'instant impact' as some other teams but I think they got a lot of good players who are going to pay dividends down the line"
Since Wright brought up the 2009 draft I asked him for his thoughts on a few of the young players who could be stepping in to prominent roles in 2010. Here are his assessments:
"I think he's a two-down thumper and I think he would probably be better served in a backup role. I don't think he showed enough that you can feel comfortable saying this is our long-term answer at middle linebacker."
"In a lot of my mock drafts last year I actually had Sintim going in the first round to the Giants, so I thought that was a phenomenal pick to get him late in the second round. A really good fit for what they like, another one of those guys who can get after the quarterback.
"Played in a 3-4 defense in college so he had to make a little bit of a transition. That was something I noticed with Sintim at the Senior Bowl last year was that he struggled a little bit in that 4-3 scheme.
"But I think he's a really good fit for the Giants and I think he's really going to hit his stride. I think that was a great pick, and I do think he is a long-term starter for them."
"I think that was great value where they got him late in the second round. I thought he was maybe a fringe first-round talent last year. It would not have shocked me had he gone late in the first round, so to get him late in the second was a great pick for the Giants and I do think he is going to be a long-term starter, probably more on the left side."
"I thought that was a really good pick. Throughout the process I had been comparing him to Plaxico Burress, so it made sense that the Giants drafted him.
"Making a big leap in competition, obviously, and it took him a little while to adjust to that. The Giants are just absolutely loaded at the wide receiver position, so that made it even tougher for him to try to break into the rotation.
"I don't know that he's ever going to be a No. 1 wide receiver or even a starter, but I definitely think he can be a very good No. 4 type wide receiver. Where he's going to excel is kind of what Plaxico Burress did on those vertical routes. Get him down field and let him go up and get the ball. At the very least I think you have that situational type guy who can also be a terror in the Red Zone."
"I liked that pick and I was a little surprised he wasn't able to make more of an impact as a rookie. Not only is he a really talented player, but I thought he's be a good compliment to Kevin Boss.
"I still like Travis Beckum, I think he has a lot of potential. That could be a really good 1-2 tandem."
One topic that is oft-discussed here is whether Giants General Manager Jerry Reese draft for 'need' or grabs the 'best player available.' Wright was definitive in his opinion.
"Honestly, I don't think there is an NFL team anywhere that is a 'best player available' team, especially early in the draft," Wright said. "You want to find the marriage between need and talent, but need plays just a huge role in ninety-nine percent of the decisions. And rightfully so. Coaches get fired sometimes after one season. You want to get a guy who can come in and make an immediate impact.
"The best player available thing is basically a cliche. It's something that sounds good that NFL GMs and coaches put out there. It makes them sound good ... Not true. Need plays every bit as much of a role in the selections, especially in the early rounds, as talent does. For ninety-nine percent of the teams."
Wright also talked about how difficult the Giants are to mock for this season. And that, of course took us back to McClain and Spiller.
"If Rolando McClain isn't there they're a tough team to mock for. You can make a case for positions, but in terms of all the NFL teams they are right up there in the top two or three that don't have a lot of glaring needs. That's kind of why I went with Spiller. Not only is he the quote-unquote best player available, but I think he does fill a need.
"I think he gives them more explosion on offense, I think he can upgrade the return teams and be an absolutely perfect complement to Brandon Jacobs. I definitely think a guy like Spiller could be in play, and he might be that best marriage between the need and the talent considering McClain is gone."
Finally, Wright had plenty of encouraging words for Giants fans about what they can expect in 2010. He loves the talent on the current roster, even before the upcoming draft.
"I think it's a lot better than a non-playoff team. I absolutely think they under-achieved (in 2009). Their talent is a lot better than what their record was. There was no excuse for them to be as bad as they were last year, and I could very well see them have a bounce-back season.
"I think they're a legitimate contender, and they should be based on what they have on paper. If they're not contending for a playoff spot and maybe even a Super Bowl, well then something went wrong and it needs to be evaluated."
-- Thanks to Scott for taking the time to chat. If you are looking for player profiles, be sure to check out Scott's work at Draft Countdown.