Every year, our sister site, "Mocking the Draft" holds a community mock draft that occurs a weekend before the draft. With the 2014 NFL Draft mere days away, the draft was held on May 3rd and 4th.
As the "General Manager" of the New York Giants, I did my best to merge need and value to make it as complete as possible. Here is the spreadsheet for the entire draft. Please peruse at your leisure:
Trades were allowed, but had to be within 200 points of the trade value chart for them to be approved. Player trades and 2015 picks were both fair game in terms of trade ammunition. So let's get to it.
Round 1 (12th overall)
The pick: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
I selected Eric Ebron because he filled a dire need and was my best player available. It really is that simple. I didn't have to think that long and hard about it. Looking at who was available, most of the usual suspects were already gone. Aaron Donald was taken by the Oakland Raiders at the fifth overall spot, Mike Evans landed with the Detroit Lions, and Taylor Lewan was taken by the Dallas Cowboys who traded up and ahead of us to nab him at the 11th spot.
I had some discussions with a team to move up ahead of Detroit for Mike Evans, but they required me to relinquish both my third round and fifth round pick. The price to move into the top 10 was prohibitive. Needless to say, I declined the offer. I also had discussions with a few teams, Pittsburgh and New Orleans specifically, about moving down in the first round and picking up a few extra priority picks. Those deals ultimately fell through because the targets of those teams were gone when I was on the clock.
So there was Ebron. A "game changer" and though some will disagree with the usage of that word with his particular player, I strongly believe it to be so. His ability to line up in-line, in the slot, and out wide allow for versatility. He and Amaro are also the only guys that are NOT scared of the big hit over the middle. He catches those passes up the seam in traffic and doesn’t shy away from a big hit. That’s something you can’t teach.
Also while his measurables don’t say "freak," the speed and hip flexibility that he has when he’s running routes are what scream "freak" to me. He simultaneously boxes out and runs past defenders. Creates wide receiver-esque separation when he changes direction on his routes. That’s the freakiness, not his 40 yard straight line speed.
I also considered Zack Martin here, but not for very long. Would've been my target had the Giants been able to trade down with the Steelers.
Round 2 (49th overall)
The pick: Weston Richburg, OC, Colorado State
Yes, this says 49th overall. Why? I traded down with the New York Jets who were aching to select Jace Amaro. I received a mid-fifth round selection (154th overall) as compensation. That might seem a little low, but at the time, there were more than six players that I would have been willing to take at this juncture, so I figured six spots would be good enough.
I fully expect some criticism for this pick, and I understand why. However, I'm trying to not only create value, but also trying to mix in some safe choices as well. We are desperate to have this draft hit. Richburg is a terrific fit for what I believe this offense is going to be. I think with Rashad Jennings and with Cruz/Jernigan, there will be a ton of running back screens, bubble screens, short crossing routes, and misdirections. If that's the case, the need for athletic offensive lineman rises. Marcus Martin went but one pick before me in the second round.
Will Beatty and Justin Pugh are ZBS caliber tackles. J.D. Walton is a ZBS caliber center. John Jerry, though large, is a ZBS type of guard. Geoff Schwartz is gigantic, but he can move. Richburg likely provides insurance, quality insurance mind you, for Walton and can compete for starting right guard. He isn't terribly strong, but he can get out into space and get some great blocks downfield. Along with Ebron, we're going to be a more athletic team that can get into the second level and really just max out the YAC possible with our speedy wide receivers.
I also considered Allen Robinson and Davante Adams here. A play-making receiver was high on my list as well. Both ranked higher than Richburg for me, but I played it safe and took the center. I'm sorry, but I just am really scared about J.D. Walton. I can't help it, I just don't trust the guy. Center is important and I need to have a plan in place for it. While we could use a pass catcher, grabbing Ebron makes that "need" slightly less.
Round 3 (74th overall)
The pick: Marcus Smith, DE/OLB, Louisville
This was an interesting selection. I was down between 3 picks. Running back Ka'deem Carey, 3-technique defensive tackle Will Sutton, and Smith. I enlisted the help of some BigBlueView community members to help decide and we couldn't come up with a consensus. I, myself, had preferred Smith and after using a coin flip to decide who to draft, he won out.
Smith doesn't get much press, and I'm not sure why. He had 14.5 sacks for Louisville off the edge this year. He was a blur off the edge and given our interest in O'Brien Schofield, I think that he's an intriguing option, especially this late in the draft. I personally ranked him as the 52nd-best player overall so he certainly presented value.
I have long believed that to put the defense over the edge, the team needs a speed rusher. We have plenty of other types, the edge setter in Robert Ayers, the anticipation power rusher in Jason Pierre-Paul, and the motor/leverage rushers in Damontre Moore and Mathias Kiwanuka. Only JPP has that elite burst, but even then it's inconsistent. Smith provides bend, burst, and straight line speed. At 6-foot-3, 251 pounds with 34-inch arms, a 35-inch vertical and 4.68 speed, he showed off his athleticism. He'd start at SLB and could be a pass-rushing "Predator" that Perry Fewell hopefully knows how to use. He could also add about 10 pounds and play as the speed RDE as well. Tons of upside here.
Round 4 (113th overall)
The pick: Ka'deem Carey, RB, Arizona
This was a pure BPA pick that also somewhat fills a need. I considered Carey back in the third round (as I have him ranked as a mid-second rounder) but passed and was rewarded for taking the risk here. I originally wanted either Dion Bailey, the safety out of USC, or Telvin Smith, one of my biggest sleeper OLBs from Florida State. Both went within 10 picks of my own.
So why Carey? If you've been paying attention, you'll notice that I'm picking players that I think are perfect scheme fits for what I "believe" this offense will be. Carey is the best screen game running back in this class. Tremendous vision, soft hands, and beautiful jump cuts are the hallmark of this stoutly built running back. Can you imagine, once again, the downfield blocks that guys like Pugh, Richburg, Ebron, and Schwartz will make to spring Ka'deem open?
Ben McAdoo stated that he was going to tailor the offense to the personnel. Well, I'm making the personnel as close to what he had in Green Bay as possible. Richburg as an upgraded Evan Dietrich-Smith. Carey as Eddie Lacy. Rueben Randle as James Jones. Victor Cruz as Jordy Nelson. Jerrel Jernigan as Randall Cobb. Ebron as Jermichael Finley (an upgraded one at that).
I also liked Lache Seastrunk, but as I mentioned before, he's very similar to David Wilson and the hope is that Wilson will be good to go for training camp. A three headed monster at running back should keep some of the heat off Eli Manning.
Round 5 (152nd overall)
The pick: Will Clarke, DE, West Virginia
A Big Blue View favorite, Clarke provides tremendous value at this juncture. The Giants were hoping for a few defensive tackles to fall, namely Ego Ferguson, Kelcy Quarles, Caraun Reid, and Justin Ellis. However, they all went off the board in quick succession.
Here's one guy who could make the transition to defensive tackle and possibly be dominant in that role. He's currently 271 pounds, but his 6-6 frame makes him ideal to put on 10-15 pounds and move inside. He has a good burst, powerful base, and long 34-inch arms, all of which make him a capable player in the interior. His biggest weakness is his bend and change of direction skill, but putting him inside negates those issues.
On top of all of this, I've heard nothing but great things about this player's motivation, character, and work ethic. He should have gone sometime in the late second or third, so to grab him in the fifth round makes me giddy.
I'm very serious about upgrading team speed, especially with the pass rush, so I like having a long, explosive pass rusher at both the edge in Marcus Smith, and on the inside with Will Clarke. Adding in Damontre Moore, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Jonathan Hankins, and I think we don't have to worry about the defensive line for some time.
Round 5 (154th overall)
The pick: Craig Loston, S, Louisiana State
I was flabbergasted that Loston was still available. Many see him as a Day 2 pick. He's one of the best in-the-box safeties in this draft. Although he doesn't have the range of Will Hill, he allows Antrel Rolle to move back towards covering free safety.
He compares favorably to previous draft pick Chad Jones. He's a monstrous hitter and has some amazing closing speed as an enforcer. True starting caliber talent, if he pans out, he's a great get here. If he doesn't start, he also was a terrific gunner for LSU, so he certainly would have a spot on this team. He always takes good, conservative angles and doesn't take risks.
Round 5 (174th overall compensatory)
The pick: Kevin Pierre-Louis, OLB, Boston College
This was an easy pick for me as well. Easily BPA and provides instant competition for Jacquian Williams and Spencer Paysinger for the starting weakside linebacker job. As I mentioned in my prospect profile before, he's a freak athlete, running a 4.5 and jumping a 39-inch vertical and 11-foot broad jump at 6-1, 235 pounds.
He's also more pro-ready than Williams was when he was drafted. He's incredibly quick and presents true sideline to sideline range. He has shown ability to shed blocks, which is rare for any college linebacker prospect these days and that's something that is highly, highly translatable. Good, fundamental hitter as well.
His biggest weakness is his instincts, but I think if you put him in a run and chase scheme and just tell him to hone in on a target, I think he has some serious, serious upside. Easily will be a contributor on special teams. At the end of the day, its all about upgrading team speed on defense for me, and I think I'm helping to accomplish that with the addition of KPL.
Round 6 (187th overall)
The pick: Shaq Evans, WR, UCLA
With my last official pick, I was debating between offensive lineman Charles Leno Jr., and Shaq Evans. Ultimately went with the WR. Evans brings solid size at 6-1, 215 pounds and has really soft hands. He's a very, very good possession receiver whocan outmuscle guys for the ball and definitely has some burst off the line. He ran a 4.4 at the combine and is a long strider so he has some deceptive speed.
He likely battles it out with Mario Manningham for the fourth wide receiver with the upside to eventually become Randle's running mate on the outside at the "X" spot. The wide receiver position was decimated in this draft, and he was the last one I saw with significant upside, so that's why he was the selection.
Undrafted Free Agents
We were allowed 5 "priority" free agents to claim as part of the draft experience. My picks?
First claim: Bene Benwikere, CB, San Jose State
Benwikere actually had a late-third to early-fourth round grade for me, so I was astonished that he was not drafted. Better for me. He's a feisty man cover corner that sticks like glue. Can't tackle all that well, but he's terrific when it comes to contesting balls and positioning himself. Could even beat out Jayron Hosley for a spot in our loaded secondary.
Second claim: Calvin Barnett, DT, Oklahoma State
A stout developmental prospect, Barnett is a 6-2, 317-pound pile pusher that has an above average first step. He's built to last and could find himself in the rotation as the last defensive tackle on the roster competing with Markus Kuhn. Very feisty.
Third claim: Jalen Saunders, WR, Oklahoma
You guys know how much I love Saunders. Plays angry despite his diminutive stature. Tremendous special teams returner as well, and that's how he could stake his claim with the Giants.
Fourth claim: Brandon Linder, OG, Miami
The best offensive lineman on the Hurricanes. Yes, better than Seantrel Henderson, despite not being nearly as athletic or talented. Linder is a masher and will compete with Eric Herman for a spot on the squad. Better in pass protection than Herman.
Fifth claim: Morgan Breslin, OLB, USC
Poor guy had his season cut short due to a serious hip injury and hernia repair, but he was one of the nation's most talented edge rushers, notching 17.5 sacks the past two seasons (despite only playing in five games this past one). We'd be fools not to give him a chance.