We all have our favorites in the 2014 NFL Draft. Some of us love the upside of Taylor Lewan. The sheer dominance of Mike Evans. The gamec-hanging ability of Eric Ebron. The versatility and reliability of Zack Martin. The explosiveness of Aaron Donald.
What if those players don't fall to the New York Giants? What if the Giants pass? Let's take a look at some players who can fill those holes down the line and have the upside to be successful in the league.
The Interior DL Who is in the Backfield More Than the RB
The dream: Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh (projected top 15)
The replacement: Will Sutton, Arizona State (projected late 2nd - mid 3rd)
A lot of people are down on Sutton, and it's pretty easy to see why. He was poor in 2013. That made a lot of people forget, however, about his 2012. You thought Aaron Donald was productive in 2013 with 28.5 tackles for loss and 11.0 sacks? Sutton was right there with him in 2012, with 23.5 tackles for loss and 13.0 sacks. That incredible production went down to 13.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks, which still isn't terrible for a defensive tackle.
Why the dip? He went from 6-foot-1, 285 pounds in 2012 up to 305 pounds in 2013 in an effort to become more balanced and anchor down. Needless to say, it blew up in his face as it sapped his explosiveness. He isn't the freak that Donald is, but if he comes back down into the low 290s, the back-to-back Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year certainly becomes a much more enticing player and one the Giants could look to as another option should Donald not fall to them.
The OL Who Can Play 20 Different Spots ... and Do It Like An Anti-Diehl (That Means Good)
The dream: Zack Martin, Notre Dame (projected first round)
Are you aching for a safe, 10-year starter who likely won't bust? You just know that the key to this season is a solid, injury-proof offensive line and for some reason, that guy Jerry Reese just passed up on Zack Martin, the most versatile, safe prospect in this draft? Don't let your frustration boil over just yet. There are options!
Jack Mewhort and Michael Schofield might come from competing schools but look like similar players to me. Both are versatile enough to move to guard without much hesitation. Schofield even tried some of it out at the Senior Bowl and didn't look too bad. Both are rugged personalities with clean character who fight on the field. They are both mashers with above average footwork who are good enough in pass protection but make their money in the run game.
Adding one of these guys in Round 2 could just do it for you if you want someone who won't bust and could find his way inside at right guard when it's time to take over for the great Chris Snee.
The Outside Guy That Even Eli Can't Overthrow
The dream: Mike Evans (projected top 10)
The replacement: Cody Hoffman (fifth rounder)
Let's face it, the draft is almost over and you really haven't been paying attention through the tears that have been shed after those damn Detroit Lions stole Mike Evans right from under the Giants whiskers. Sure the Giants might've gotten some good players, and maybe a nice 6-foot- or 6-foot-1 wide receiver prospect early, but doesn't everybody realize that Eli Manning needs a big guy on the outside that he can chuck corner throws to? Speed doesn't kill, out-muscling your opponent in the red zone does.
Enter Cody Hoffman, of the BYU Cougars, who stands 6-foot-4, 229 pounds. He's going to be a specialist in the NFL because he has some issues running routes and is a very mediocre athlete. His production fell in 2013 after coming off a 2012 campaign which saw him nab 100 receptions and 11 TDs. That all leads him towards being a mid- to late-fifth round pick in this wide receiver heavy draft. However, he's perfect for the Giants' needs in the red zone. He isn't just the next Ramses Barden, because he's got the requisite body control and physicality to win 1-on-1 battles. Can you just imagine him going out in four wide receiver routes on first-and-goal? Yeah, I can.
The Linebacker Who Can Cover, Blitz, and Generally Blow #$!& Up
The replacement: Telvin Smith, Florida State (late-third to fourth round)
Kyle Posey, writer from BoltsFromTheBlue, created this GIF. I thank him greatly.
So here you are, a card carrying member of the "Beezer Brigade" and you're sitting there frustrated and angry on Day 2. If you can't have Anthony Barr in the first round because the Giants took some other schmuck, you sat and waited eagerly as SLB phenom Kyle Van Noy was still on the board at the start of the second round. Did that guy 'Invictus' say he was cool or something? If not him, you could nab the ultra-productive, speed freak Ryan Shazier. Dude runs like a 4.1 and jumps like 80 feet. He's perfect!
Then you see them go in quick succession and you're left empty handed at 43. Well, time to shut this thing off, right? NOT SO FAST. There's this one guy named Telvin Smith from the NCAA championship winning Florida State Seminoles still sitting there.
But BBI, you say, isn't he 6-foot-3, 220 pounds? Yes. Yes he is. So was Jacquian Williams, and so was the guy I'm going to compare him to ... Lavonte David. Don't be fooled by David showing up at the combine at 233, he played under 230 during the season. Smith is seriously suffering from "Aaron Donald syndrome." Maybe it's just me going crazy, but I went back and saw Smith again this past week after seeing everybody and was blown away by his instincts and fluidity. Instinctually, he stands up to anybody in this draft. He's too fast flowing, too rangy, and too absurdly disruptive to not be successful. His hip flexibility is like that of a corner. The only thing holding him back is size, but I think an NFL conditioning program sets him right. If he were about 10 pounds heavier, we're talking possible first-round pick. Don't sleep on him.
The Hard Hitting Safety Who Can Also Cover Most Of East Rutherford
The Dream: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama (projected top 20)
The Replacement: Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois (projected second round)
Damn it, Will Hill. You were supposed to stay clean so the Giants wouldn't have to worry about the safety position anymore. On top of that, Antrel Rolle is in his contract year. You begrudgingly root for Ha'sean "Ha Ha" Clinton-Dix to come across your ticker as the New York Giants' selection in the first round. That does not happen.
What the hell? Doesn't Reese know that we've been burnt before on the back end? Not to worry, my friend, there's another player out there who is going to make your day. If he makes it to pick 43, you can count Northern Illinois' free safety Jimmie Ward as a serious contender for the selection. He's incredibly smart and processes routes at light speed. He's fast and his closing speed is ridiculous. So ridiculous, in fact, that he's being compared to Earl Thomas.
Much like Earl Thomas, he's a bit small, at 5-foot-11, 193 pounds. He also comes from a school where level of competition is a question mark. But there's no doubting the talent. That's talent the Giants could definitely use.
A Running Back Fully Capable of Making Grown Men Cry
The Dream: Carlos Hyde, Ohio State (projected second round)
The Replacement: Lache Seastrunk, Baylor (projected late-third round)
The Giants' running game has been nauseating as of late. The best running back in this draft often shifts between Carlos Hyde, Bishop Sankey, and Tre Mason. With those three getting most of the press, one of the best has been swept under the rug. That would be Baylor's Lache Seastrunk.
Why is he falling? I have no idea. If there's anybody who resembles David Wilson (with a functioning spine), its Seastrunk. I'd even give both of them similar grades (I didn't have Wilson rated as a first-rounder in 2012). Seastrunk has similar balance, power, and downright explosiveness. I can't imagine what Ben McAdoo might do with two guys of David Wilson's caliber to go along with the trustworthy Rashad Jennings, but hell, it's something I'd definitely want to see.
Want to talk about a home run threat on every play? That's the 5-foot-9, 210-pound Seastrunk that averaged 7.5 YPC and 11 TDs. If he somehow makes it to the Giants in the fourth round, they'd be running to the podium as fast as his 4.36 40-yard dash. Consequently, I'd be jumping as high as his 41.5-inch vertical.