Okay, stop me if you've heard this one before: despite adding veterans in the offseason, the New York Giants could still stand to add a young, talented player to their linebacking corps.
No, wait. Don't stop me yet. I still want to tell you about a talented, athletic linebacker, who could wind up being a major steal in the 2014 NFL Draft.
That would be UConn middle linebacker Yawin Smallwood.
- Prototypical size and build for a 4-3 linebacker (6-foot-2, 245 pounds)
- Productive three-year starter
- Fluid, rangy, and instinctive in coverage
- Capable against the run and a strong pass rusher.
- High football IQ, team leader, and very coachable
- Sometimes over aggressive, biting on play fakes
- Needs to be more aggressive with his hands at the point of attack (taking on and discarding blocks)
- Pulled hamstring at scouting combine. Durability could be a (slight) concern, and measurables are unknown
Does He Fit With The Giants?
A big, athletic defensive prospect who is slipping due to a combine performance (or lack thereof)? Yeah, that sounds like a Jerry Reese special.
Smallwood turned in an atrocious 40 time of 5.01 at the NFL Scouting Combine. however, he pulled up with a hamstring injury half-way through that attempt. Turn on the tape, however, and you see a fluid and deceptively athletic linebacker (the kind of athlete who is so smooth that he looks as if he's moving in slow motion).
Smallwood is exactly the type of well-rounded linebacker the New York Giants need, and if he manages to fall to, or even past, the 3rd round, he could provide phenomenal value.
Big Board Rankings
List here of where he is on BBV/MTD/CBS and maybe a couple of other Big Boards ... like Draft Countdown (one of my favorites) and maybe WalterFootball or one more.
Big Blue View - Not in top 100
Mocking The Draft - 72
CBS Sports - 93
Draft Countdown - 83
Draft Tek - 74
Smallwood is dropping throughout the draft process. His hamstring injury, and inability to really work out throughout is causing his stock to drop. Possibly big time. On tape, I see a solid second-round talent. he's got the size, the athleticism, the instincts, and the skills you want to see from a starting linebacker. He doesn't jump off the tape the way a first-round prospect should, but he just makes plays.
However, the measurable part of the draft process is becoming more, and more important. Good workouts are causing players to leap up draft boards, while poor ones are (predictably) causing players to drop. While the measurables have their place, this is a case where a good player is dropping. And while that is certainly bad for Smallwood, it could be a blessing in disguise for some team.
[NOTE: Is there anyone you would still like to see us profile? Drop a note in the comments. See the full list of our prospect profile in our StoryStream].