If you have been around these parts for a while you know that I am a big fan of the work done at Draft Tek. Draft Tek uses a computer model to build a constantly updated seven-round mock draft, and I find that while it isn't completely realistic it can help you identify players moving up and down, and players who might be connected to teams later in the draft.
Well, Draft Tek New York Giants' analyst Bill Bliss recently agreed to answers some questions for us. I tried to make our Q&A a little different than the recent conversations I had with Wes Bunting of the National Football Post and Scott Wright of Draft Countdown.
Bill has some interesting opinions about my choices in our Big Blue View Community Mock Draft and players the Giants could target in later rounds. Our chat is after the jump.
1. Take a pass at the Big Blue View Community Mock Draft and give me your thoughts on what I did there for the Giants. It's a two-round draft.
Bill Bliss, Draft Tek: I love your 2nd-round pick, but am not thrilled with the first. Some people really like Akeem Ayers - if you're one of them, then he's probably the best pick at 19. Pouncey and Ingram are gone, and OLB is a very, very pressing need. Being completely objective, it is a great pick, but if I were GM, I wouldn't draft Ayers. I'm not sold on him as a "football player." He's athletic, he has the measurables, but I don't see him being the run stopper we need. He plays high and I question his instincts. At 19 in the Community Mock, I may have done something unorthodox and gone with Jimmy Smith. I really, really like this CB, and what are the Giants going to do when Webster and Thomas are both free agents? An alternative for me would be Nate Solder. When he fills out, I think he will be a very good left tackle. I don't think LT is a big need, but I think Solder has a lot of talent and might be too good to pass up.
Picking Stefen Wisniewski in the 2nd is a steal! He's a durable, versatile, and very intelligent. He may be able to start immediately at guard - if not, I wouldn't be scared if O'Hara or whoever starts at LG goes down in
Week 6 and Wisniewski comes off the bench. He's a smart, tough, cold weather player who would fit in really well with Big Blue. Unfortunately, I don't think he will be on the board at 52. If he is, I think he is the obvious pick. Although, as anyone who follows DraftTek knows, I am in love with Mikel LeShoure. It would be gut wrenchingly difficult to pass on him. I would only do so knowing that center is a bigger need than RB, and it's easier to find a late round gem at RB than at C.
2. The best outside linebacker fits for the Giants in this draft class are ....?
Bill: OLBs, especially on the strongside, are becoming harder and harder to find. It's the effect of the spread offense, the colleges using smaller, more specialized linebackers, and I think it'll only spur the trend we're seeing in the NFL with more and more 3-4 defenses. In this draft, there are three guys I like a lot, who should be available for the Giants in Round 2 and maybe 3. Mason Foster is my favorite, I think he'll become a great run stopper. He has production (162 tackles last year!!!) and the intangibles (team captain). A real tough guy, a leader-type, who was all over the field at Washington. He has experience at all 3 LB positions, and will be drafted as a SAM. He's not the best pass rusher but we need a run stopper. He could be one of those guys who makes you wonder 5 years down the road, "how was he not a first rounder?"
Bruce Carter could have easily been a surefire first rounder had he not torn his ACL, and had many of his teammates not been suspended. He's got a great football IQ and is well-disciplined - which Tom Coughlin really values. But the immediate problem is the ACL, and has no chance of starting alongside Boley and Goff in Week 1? But we saw Belichick take an ACL guy, Brandon Tate, two years ago, he was on IR his rookie year, last year he played well and I expect him to have a big year in 2011.
Brooks Reed is a guy I think is a bit underrated. He reminds me of a "Clay Matthews-lite," and it's not just the hair. He is a really disruptive player, which I absolutely love. True, he would be a better fit as a 3-4 OLB, or a 4-3 DE, but he is a guy I think Perry Fewell can have some fun with. I can't put my finger on it but I just think Reed will turn out to be a really, really good football player.
3. Corey Liuget, Anthony Castonzo, Akeem Ayers and Mike Pouncey are all on the board at No. 19, hypothetically. Which guy do you take for the Giants, and why?
Bill: Tough call. First I'll eliminate Ayers - I'm not sold on him as a first round talent. Many people believe he's worthy of a first round pick, though at DraftTek we have him with a 3rd round grade. I see him somewhere in between.
Ayers looks the part, but people are right to question his instincts and ability to diagnose plays. He plays too high and it's easy for a blocker to ride him out of the play, even a blocker out of the backfield at times. I don't see him as the disruptive guy that you want when you spend a first-round pick.
Castonzo had a great college career, but I don't know if he has the foot speed to handle rush ends in the NFL... especially in the NFC East. I would project him as a RT and I'd wait until later in the draft to address that positon. Also, I believe in Will Beatty, I expect him to replace Diehl at LT very soon, and remain there for a long time.
Between Liuget and Pouncey, I'm going to have to choose Pouncey, for two reasons. First, I think Liuget is a bit small for DT. He rushed the passer well last year but in 2011 the linemen will be a lot bigger! I think he's better off as a 3-4 DE. My second reason is that C is a, and please excuse the pun, Giant Need. We don't know if Seubert can return from the knee, and O'Hara is just not the same player he was a few years ago. He's also going to be more of
an injury risk. I don't think Mike will be a Pro-Bowl Rookie like his brother Maurkice, but I believe he will be a very solid starter. Also, the centers who can be had in Round 2, like Kirkpatrick or Hudson, are a bit small for the NFL in my opinion.
4. The Giants' biggest need is ... ?
Bill: This is a much tougher question when you start to think about it. With the lockout, there are so many free agents, who may or may not be on the team in 2011. Depending on that, the needs change tremendously. Especially a guy like Barry Cofield. If he is resigned, then I don't think the Giants really need a DT. If not, then it is a much higher need. For now though, I am going to assume Reese makes the smart moves and resigns who he needs to - like Boss and Cofield. Keith Bulluck is not one of those players resigned. That makes SAM linebacker a tremendous need. I'm still not sure why Gerris Wilkinson is still around, but I am sure that he won't be an effective starter. I loved Clint Sintim out of college, but unfortunately I just don't think he fits our system well. That, and some poor decisions by the coaching staff. Who's left? Adrian Tracy? Kiwanuka - if he is healthy and on the team? We desperately NEED an OLB.
However, I think center is the biggest need of the team. Not a flashy position, but I don't think that Shaun O'Hara will make it through another season, and if he does, I don't think he'll play that well. Last year, Seubert did an excellent job at filling in. When the left side of the line was Beatty, Boothe, and Seubert, Eli was hardly touched. When O'Hara came back, all of a sudden Eli was getting sacked, it was tougher to run up the middle, and we missed the playoffs!
OK, Matt Dodge also had something to do with this, but the Giants really need to replace O'Hara. Considering that the C makes all the line calls, and plays every offensive snap, and that a SAM linebacker can be taken off the field on 3rd downs, Center is a more valuable position, and the Giants' greatest need.
5. Is there a late-round player who might really fit with the Giants?
Bill: One guy I love is Da'Rel Scott, the RB out of Maryland. He's small - not the Jacobs replacement we eventually need - but he's really a heck of a player and I expect him to be around in the 5th or 6th round. Despite his smaller size I think he can be a three-down back. He's got blazing speed, great vision and balance and can catch the ball out of the backfield. Frankly, I am surprised he isn't rated higher on most boards. Let's face it, Bradshaw has fumbilitis and Jacobs, who is one of my favorite Giants, is a headcase whose body can't take the pounding much longer....and is owed a TON of money this year.
Konrad Reuland, the TE from Stanford, is another draft sleeper. Nobody is talking about this guy, but I think he can become a solid all-around TE. He can run and catch well, and needs some work on blocking, but that can be taught. He has a great frame at 6'5", 260, and can be a steal in the late rounds, maybe even as a UDFA.