When I talked to Scott Wright of Draft Countdown recently he was adamant that the New York Giants' draft philosophy has long revolved around finding "size/speed" players regardless of position. You can look through the drafts of the last 10 years or so, maybe longer, and find lots of evidence to support Wright's contention that there is a certain physical, athletic prototype that is attractive to the Giants.
So, in thinking about the Giants' draft history and researching players to do write about for the 2011 NFL Draft prospect profile series I have begun to perk up when I read phrases like "outstanding blend of height, length, bulk and speed."
I cam across that phrase recently regarding Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel, and it made me pay attention. He is a 6-foot, 217-pound "box" safety with a reputation as a zone-cover guy. The size, the adequate speed, the three-safety philosophy employed by the Giants, the fact that the Giants drafted a player of similar size in Chad Jones (6-foot-2, 221 pounds) for that "box" role a year ago all made me take notice.
Of course, there is also a reason why McDaniel had not come to my attention sooner. There are some character questions, some questions about his willingness to play physical at the line of scrimmage, some questions about his ability to drop into coverage.
Read the scouting reports below and judge for yourself. Just don't be shocked if the Giants address the safety position somewhere in the middle portion of the draft, even though this is not considered to be a deep safety class.
6-foot, 217 pounds
Projection: Fourth to fifth round
McDaniel is an outstanding blend of height, length, bulk and speed. Looks the part. Very productive player, with a flair for making the big play. Appears to be a well-prepared. Has good range in zone, can lay the wood or make a plays on the ball. Loves to play the run, fills in a hurry.
Is a bit high-cut and lacks some fluidity when attempting to mirror quicker receivers in coverage. Can get caught looking in the backfield at play fakes on occasion. Must watch his tackling technique at times. Was arrested in 2008 but is not a locker room personality problem.
McDaniel is a physically impressive safety prospect who makes a lot of plays roaming the middle in zone coverage and filling against the run. Would be a good fit for a team that likes to walk a safety down into the box for run support or to cut loose on blitzes. Will bring a tough, intimidating, explosive presence to the middle of an NFL defense. Some deficiencies in man coverage and an off-the-field issue are the two main areas of concern. But in a relatively weak safety class, McDaniel should hear his named called in the first few rounds of the draft.
Positives: Very good size. Athletic mover with very good body control. Excellent frontal ball skills — productive interceptor with soft hands and ability to highpoint the football. Effective robbing the hole. Effective zone defender — anticipates and shows short-area burst to jump routes. Flashes ability to uncoil and strike. Stood out on kickoff coverage.
Negatives: Average speed. Tight-hipped — does not redirect smoothly. Pile inspector who turns down contact. Slow to disengage and gets bounced around in the box and does not like to run the alley. Inconsistent tackler — misses too many and struggles to break down in space. Questionable run fits and bad pursuit angles. Does not have deep range to play over the top and struggles with his back to the ball. Character and maturity should be evaluated closely.
Summary: Enigmatic, finesse zone-cover man and flash playmaker with a nose for the ball, though his selective physicality, questionable compete level and average instincts leave evaluators wanting more. Is most comfortable moving forward and is an adept “robber” but is not equipped to bang in the box and lacks range to play center field. Will contribute on special teams and offers versatility as a nickel linebacker, but character concerns could knock him off some draft boards.
From National Football Post:
A smart, instinctive safety prospect who simply possesses that sixth sense to quickly decipher information and put himself around the football. Does a nice job not only reading the quarterback, but feels routes develop around him extremely well and has the type of fluidity to cleanly get out of his breaks and range on the throw. Possesses good ball skills in the secondary and knows how to go up, maintain concentration and come down with the tough grab. Lacks great straight-line speed, looks more like a low/mid 4.6 guy. However, consistently is able to get good jumps on the football and play faster because of his overall instincts.
Diagnoses the run very well from the deep half. Does a nice job reading his keys, staying patient and quickly attacking the line of scrimmage. Exhibits the ability to slip blocks well, even inside the box, and can generate some power on contact when asked to tackle downhill. Breaks down well in the open field and is a secure wrap-up guy. However, will occasionally overrun some plays in both the run and pass game, but for the most part is a solid open-field tackler.
Impression: His ability to consistently locate the football, open up his hips and has average range in the secondary. Lacks great speed, but plays fast because of his instincts. Possesses good ball skill, but isn't a guy I want to trust in the center field type role.