As we continue our 2011 NFL Draft prospect profile series let's get off the subjects of linemen and linebackers for a day. There are other positions, and our New York Giants are not just going to draft outside linebackers or offensive tackles.
A fairly intriguing middle round type selection who might offer the Giants some options in a couple of areas is Clemson free safety/cornerback Marcus Gilchrist. A 5-foot-9, 193-pounder Gilchrist is projected more as a safety than a corner, and seems a little bit like a center field type safety.
With Deon Grant possibly leaving via free agency the unappealing Michael Johnson still hanging around after spending much of 2010 on injured reserve, and still likely wanting protection against a re-occurrence of Kenny Phillips's knee troubles you can certainly see the Giants grabbing a safety at some point.
Gilchrist might also be intriguing because he reportedly also excels returning both kickoffs and punts, having ranked in the top three in the ACC in both categories in 2010. We would all love to think Domenik Hixon will be able to return to that role in 2011, but having options is always a good thing.
Scouting reports after the jump.
Cornerback/Free Safety (Clemson)
5-foot-10, 193 pounds
From the National Football Post:
Possesses decent size, but isn't real physical in any area of the game.Safety/corner hybrid who showcases the ability to take good angles toward the football vs. the run game and is a decent wrap-up guy. However, isn't a real physical striker.
Exhibits above-average speed, but is not a burner and lacks the ability to quickly make up for a false step. Displayed some natural man-to-man cover skills but was too often slow to react to the throw.
Impression: Looks more like an NFL safety than corner to me. Possesses some natural athleticism, but could serve at worst as a solid nickel guy and work his way into a potential starter with some time.
From Sideline Scouting:
Positives: Pretty good speed for his size... Average height and weight, but appears to have solid frame, big enough to make plays in run coverage... Exceptional tackling statistics in 2009 before his move from strong safety to cornerback for the 2010 season (96 total, 53 solo, one sack and three forced fumbles)... Durability is not an issue, has not missed a single game due to injury... Is a versatile player who has the potential to play multiple positions in an NFL secondary, has experience at cornerback and both safety positions... Above-average run defender, is very tough for his size, is not afraid to initiate contact with larger backs... Is a solid zone defender, appears to be at his best when he can use his instincts and awareness to key in on quarterbacks... Has above-average kick return skills, was a solid replacement for C.J. Spiller in 2010, averaged 23.3 yards per kick return... Is an intelligent football player, knows his assignments and puts in a lot of time in the film room.
Negatives: Is just not a big playmaker, did not intercept a pass in his first three years at Clemson, misses a lot of opportunities when the ball is in the air... Takes a lot of false steps, especially when playing off his receiver, loses a step in his backpedal as a result... Shows stiff hips at times, does not come out of breaks very quickly in man coverage... Appears to be best suited in zone coverage or covering slot receivers in man-to-man... Instincts in coverage are average at best, often takes too long to close in when the ball is in the air... Will probably be a better fit at safety than corner in the NFL, will be a project if he is to start at corner in the near future.