Well, as we all know, its once again Draft Season... although for some of us draft season never stops. One of "us" would be our own Jesse Bartolis, who has helped to keep BBV abreast of the college football landscape since he's joined us.
As a part of that, Jesse has been providing us with a heads up on which college games the Giants' college scouts attended each week. I went back and combed through them to make a list of where the scouts went and how often.
Since they attended South Carolina's games with twice the frequency of any other school that we heard of, i decided to start with them, so here's a quick overview of the Gamecocks' 2013 draft prospects:
*Note: not full scouting reports. I'll leave that for later/Ed & Jesse. This is solely intended as a primer for the main course to come.
Devin Taylor (DE, 6'7" - 270) – One of the Studs of the South Carolina defensive line, Taylor is a long, lanky, athletic freak of a defensive end. Truly a freakish athlete, Taylor has rare speed and acceleration off the ball, incredible length, and an underrated bend. He controls and sheds his blockers well in the run game. As well Taylor is often the target of double teams or at least TE/RB chips in addition to an OL block in passing situations... Even SEC tackles can find themselves overmatched 1-on-1. Despite all that, he doesn't have the production or refined technique that is expected of a 3 year starter and heralded prospect, and that is hurting his draft stock. He sometimes has a tendency to play too upright and lacks a full array of pass-rushing moves (His most common move is an Osi-like loop around the outside, however he rarely over-runs the play thanks to his length and quickness. He also has a rarely seen but beautiful swim move), which combined with playing across from Melvin Ingram and Superstud Jadeveon Clowney explains most of his lack of production.
DeVonte Holloman (OLB, 6'1 – 240) – Started his career as a safety, but added weight to play outside linebacker. Primarily plays the "spur" OLB/S hybrid position in South Carolina's defense. Physically, Hollomon isn't an eye-popping athlete with blazing speed or sideline-to-sideline range, but he possesses a sneaky athleticism that you wouldn't guess by looking at him and has a very nice closing burst. Very instinctive player, and always around the ball. Spends a lot of time blitzing QB's and his athleticism and closing burst make him well suited for that. Attacks the ball, and his background as a safety lend him good ball skills when in coverage or in a tip drill. He's "okay" at shedding and playing off blocks. He controls or sheds smaller blockers (wide receivers, running backs, and smaller tight ends) well, but has difficulty dealing with larger blockers (bigger tight ends, and linemen).
DJ Swearinger (S, 5'11" - 210) – The Free Safety is called the heart and soul of the South Carolina defense. Whether or not that's true, he's certainly one of the biggest hitters, and fiery on the field. He's a defensive playmaker with the athleticism to hold up in coverage, lays wood when cleaning up in the run game (getting flagged for hard hits more than a few times), and is an effective blitzer. A tad undersized at 5'11", he has plenty of girth though, and is a sure tackler in the open field. Also has excellent instincts when attacking the ball in both the run and pass games. He benefits from a vicious pass rush, but is a good player in his own right. Reminds me of Stevie Brown, actually.
Byron Jerideau (DT, 6'1" - 315) – The rock in the middle of the South Carolina defensive line. It took him until his senior year to become a starter, but he has proven to be worth the wait. Most definitely NOT the flashiest player on the line, or even a flashy player (although he has made flashy plays, such as blocking a point-after, and recovering the loose ball himself), he is one of the unsung guys who allows the stars to do their jobs. As you can guess by his height/weight, he is built more like a bowling ball than anything else, but he uses his natural leverage and truly rare strength (fun story: In high school Jerideau would pick up his friends' cars and turn them around in the parking spaces as a prank) to occupy blockers in the middle, push piles, or collapse the pocket. He also possesses a surprising agility and quickness that allows him to split double-teams or dominate 1-on-1's to make plays in the backfield. Conditioning may be an issue for him, but this is a bit hard to tell since South Carolina uses a very active DL rotation.
Marcus Lattimore (RB, 6'0" - 220) – In an instant Lattimore went from being the hands-down best back in the draft and drawing comparisons to Adrien Peterson to being the hands-down biggest risk in the draft when he suffered an absolutely gruesome leg injury and tore 3 of the 4 ligaments in his knee. That being said, his doctors are saying that his recovery is on track, and his decision to declare for the NFL draft is motivated by the desire to have access to the best rehab facilities, therapists, trainers, and nutritionists available. Prior to his injury, however, Lattimore had everything you want out of NFL running back with elite size, agility, power, acceleration, and an attention to detail when it comes to perfecting his craft. A true 3-down back, he ran with agility and authority, is a natural hands catcher, and is a capable pass-blocker. His only knock is simply "adequate" speed. Very similar back to former 'Bama star, current Brown, Trent Richardson. Now... That remains to be seen. Lattimore probably would be best served by going to a team that has the patience and depth to be able to wait until the 2014 season and commit to getting him back to 100%.
Justice Cunningham (TE, 6'4" - 265) – Under the radar TE prospect, Cunningham is overshadowed by receivers like Ace Sanders, or the running of Marcus Lattimore and Conner Shaw. He is an excellent blocker, always being lined up in-line and blocks as well as most college OT's, Also very capable of picking up stunts and blitzes. He also provides a nice, if seldom used, safety blanket for the South Carolina QB's. Reliable route-runner and a hands catcher, he's also capable of making the tricky catches and stretching the field when called upon. Not an explosive athlete, he does have solid size and adequate athleticism.
TJ Johnson (C, 6'5" - 315) – This is a weak Center class, and Johnson doesn't do much to bolster it. Short-ish arms, slow feet, and a lack of functional strength (probably as a result of the previous two knocks) are not going to win him many second looks from scouts. He is, however, an intelligent, experienced, and durable, with good awareness and a great work ethic. Given his positives, he could be worth a late-round flier or UDFA contract and afforded the opportunity to show what he can do with better coaching (given how South Carolina has struggled to produce really quality offensive linemen, especially given the talent available in the SEC, coaching may be an issue).