Even if a team hits on its first pick every year, which is unlikely to begin with, they still need more than one starter from every draft in order to remain relevant. While the most glamorous, glorified, and over-studied college stars find themselves picked in the first few rounds, teams that are perennial contenders also have success in the later rounds of the draft, plucking starters and quality depth while other teams pick warm bodies that continue the perpetual turnstile of late drafted player in, and promptly out, of the league. After really beginning to study the college game and prospects a few years ago, I finally have a base of knowledge on a class that has accumulated over a few seasons. With that in mind, be excited that I find the class this year to be one of the deeper ones in recent memory. The best news for the Giants may be that this depth is especially evident at positions of need: Linebacker,Offensive Line, Cornerback, and Tight End. This class couldn't possibly have been molded better in the late rounds for the Giants.
Look below for a position by position breakdown of this deep late round talent pool with a specific focus on players the Giants would be interested in.
Linebackers (College, ILB/OLB, Projected Round)
- Jelani Jenkins (Florida, OLB, 4-6) Jenkins made a mistake of leaving Florida a year early, and that compounded with the fact that he missed a lot of the year with an injury has a player once projected in the first/second range way down as far as the sixth round in some places. While the injury to his hand may have hurt his draft stock, it doesn't change the fact that as his skillset is really not that different from Arthur Brown's, a nearly unanimous first round mock selection. Even as early as the fourth, Jenkins is a steal with the speed of a safety (4.53 40!). Here he is in action in 2011. Focus on his speed sideline to sideline.
- Kevin Reddick (North Carolina, ILB, 4-5) Reddick is part of the last generation of the UNC Butch Jones speed era. He didn't go the to play school, he went to play football. Like many of his teammates (for example Giant Marvin Austin) he is an athletic freak, which is why I put him on this list. The Giants, as you are likely well aware of, are known for their
fetishinfatuation with those who show superior athletic ability. Reddick fits the mold. Here is some game tape. The Maryland game film is crazy impressive.
- Michael Mauti (Penn State, OLB, 7-UDFA) Another injury casualty, Mauti comes from a school with a tremendous track record of churning out stellar NFL LBs. Mauti would've been an early to mid round pick, but due to another brutal knee injury will fall. Here are his highlights from this year before getting injured.
Offensive Line (College, Position, Projected Round)
- Alvin Bailey (Arkansas, OG, 4) This may be a pessimistic projection for Bailey, as I see him going as high as the second, but still many view him as a early day three type guy so I figured I would include him. He led a porous Arkansas line that saw QB Tyler Wilson leave multiple games with concussions. Although he was not to blame, the unit's poor play took a negative toll on his draft stock. While there is undoubtedly a gap between the top tier of guards and the second tier, I don't see Bailey as an inferior player to those mentioned as the second tier's headliners (Dallas Thomas, Larry Warford). Any team should be ecstatic to find Bailey on day three. Can't find individual footage of him but here is some team footage.
- Xavier Nixon (Florida, OT, 4-5) It's really difficult to get overlooked while playing at Florida, but Nixon managed to do so. As a tackle, sometimes being overlooked is a good thing, however, since it doesn't bode well to hear an announcer calling your name on every play. I'm not saying Nixon deserves to be an early pick, but he held his own in a pass-rusher friendly SEC. With solid size (6'6, 321) and arm length (33.5) I can see him developing into a starting caliber RT one day. Here is some game footage.
- Roger Gaines (Tennessee State, OT, 6-UDFA) This guy is probably one of my favorite sleepers. If you haven't heard of him, do not feel ashamed. He is really an unknown. As I was glossing over some measurements, he caught my eye (6'6 with 36.25 inch arms!). That then lead to me watching some film and coming away impressed. He didn't allow a single sack last season. Granted, it was against pathetically bad competition (he essentially played the Jets 11 times), but anytime a lineman manages that feat it is impressive. Look out for him to rise late in the process. I had to watch his team highlight video to find the footage of him. This is for the dedicated only!
- Khaled Holmes (USC, C, 5-7) Holmes was a first rounder in the earliest of projections, but as more focus was put on his play, flaws began to emerge. That is fine, we shouldn't expect any flawless prospects outside of the top ten and much less as far out as the sixth round. Either way, finding a guy who will likely start at center this late is a steal. While he may not be a star as initially he was labeled, he will still be a strong value pick for whoever is lucky enough to land him. Here you can see him handle a potential top-5 pick for most of a game.
Cornerback (College, Height, Projected Round)
- Tharold Simon (LSU, 6'2.5, 4-5) Simon is probably my favorite late round player in this whole draft. I have him ranked as a player worthy of a top 20 pick on my website, and have had him there throughout the process. He was rarely targeted in college, and was at a disadvantage playing across from Patrick Peterson and Mo Claiborne the past few years. Think about the reason those guys got so many INT: teams didn't want to throw at Tharold. Simon has elite size for a corner, and has as good a chance to be a star as any corner in this class. This guy is a must draft in my opinion. Here are six games from his junior season.
- Duke Williams (Nevada, 6', 5-6) Williams played safety in college, but in my opinion is suited to be an even better corner with elite speed and solid man coverage skills. Whether teams feel he is better suited as a corner or a safety, he is a guy who should provide value late. Worst case, he is a special teams standout. Best case, you have a top flight, hard hitting safety/corner. The Redskins are reportedly in love with him. Here he is at safety.
- Greg Reid (Florida State/Valdosta State, 5'9, UDFA) Reid is similar to Oregon standout Cliff Harris last year. Both are return specialists who also can serve as functional slot corners that will be punished for their off the field stupidity. After being kicked off the Seminoles, Reid enrolled at Valdosta State where he quickly tore his ACL. Although he hasn't played in a while, he is somebody I would love the Giants to take a look at in camp, even if it is just for special teams. Here he is back in his FSU glory days as a true freshman.
- Sanders Commings (Georgia, 6', 4-6) Commings is another under the radar SEC talent. He is fast (4.4 40), but not with elite speed. He is tall (6'), but not with elite height. While he isn't a particular standout at anything, he is good at it all. Expect Commings to be a late riser as more teams start to watch more film on him. I don't expect him to be available in this range come draft day, but for now he belongs here. Here he is versus Alabama.
Tight End (College, Blocking/Receiving, Projected Round)
- Levine Toilolo (Stanford, Blocking, 6-7) At Stanford, Levine served primarily as a blocker because Stanford already had the athletic Zach Ertz as a receiving tight end threat. Toilolo could be a Giants target due to his already established blocking prowess, making him a guy who can at least contribute a little. Plus, he really has not had much of a chance to try his hands as a pass catcher, meaning he could develop into an all around tight end. That is a steal in the fourth round, and especially a steal when you are talking sixth round range. This video only shows him as a receiver, so make sure to consider the superb blocking skills he also possesses.
- DC Jefferson (Rutgers, Balanced, 6-UDFA) A solid postseason performance had his stock shooting up, even with second round whispers popping up. Then, he had some of the worst luck possible and suffered a torn pectoral muscle while lifting at the combine. While the injury likely will keep from from being drafted, as his misuse in Rutgers' offense almost did, he still is an explosive athlete with solid blocking skills. Before injury, he would be well worth a fourth rounder. Now, he is a great local guy to take a late flier or even extend a camp invite to. Can't find any solid film of him but here is a profile from NFL.com. If anyone can find footage of him I'd love to have it.
- Chris Gragg (Arkansas, Receiving, 4-6) I figured I'd go with one of each type of Tight End here. Gragg has great speed as a TE, running a 4.5 40 at the combine. He isn't the best blocker, which will push his stock down, but he makes up for it with his play making capabilities. While I doubt the Giants will go after a catch first TE, he would be my guy if they do. I see him as a Vernon Davis- lite type of player with the ability to stretch the field. Here is a poor highlight film, I will edit if I am able to find better.
This draft is a perfect draft for the Giants. They have a plethora of DL studs to choose from early, and then they can focus on positions of need later with little drop off in talent. The players above are guys who I not only like more than most, but who also seem like the type of players the Giants will be interested in. I hope you enjoyed the read. If there is demand for more, I will add more positions and maybe move up to the third round range. Also, you can always check out my website for more of my analysis. Go Giants!