As the 2011 NFL Draft nears, I am trying to talk to as many draft analysts as I can. One of my favorites is Scott Wright of Draft Countdown. I find Scott's player profiles among the easiest to read and understand that you will find anywhere, and I have also found that Scott seems to have a pretty good handle on the New York Giants.
Draft Countdown's most recent mock is actually about three weeks old, and in it Wright has the Giants taking Boston College offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo. Asking him if he still believed in that pick seemed like a good place to start.
"I really think they're going to go with some lineman whether it's offensive or defensive, and obviously if it's defensive it will be a tackle. I think Corey Liuget from Illinois would make a lot of sense if he's there," Wright said.
"On the offensive line I think their top target would be Mike Pouncey from Florida but it's debatable as to whether or not he's even going to last to 19. There's a real chance he could come off the board earlier. I can see scenarios where Mike Pouncey is the first offensive lineman selected, but if he's there I think he's going to get strong consideration.
"If they want to go o-line and Pouncey is gone I think you can make a case for tackle, too."
If you recall, during a recent conversation with me Wes Bunting of the National Football Post recently made a case for Gabe Carimi of Wisconsin as the best fit in this group of first-round tackles for the Giants. Wright disagrees.
"Tom Coughlin's a Boston College guy and they've had a lot of luck with Chris Snee. Castonzo's just that smart, intelligent, hard-nosed, experienced football player. He's not as physically talented as Tyron Smith but Anthony Castonzo is a safe pick. I don't think there's any chance he's not going to be a 10-year starter in the NFL," Wright said. "What gives him the edge over a guy like Gabe Carimi from Wisconsin is that I think Castonzo can play left tackle in the NFL whereas I think Carimi is going to be strictly a right tackle.
"I think Castonzo is one of the safest players in this draft. Maybe not a whole lot of upside, and he's never going to be talked about like Walter Jones or Orlando Pace or Jon Ogden, someone like that, but you know exactly what you're getting with Anthony Castonzo."
I asked Wright if Pouncey, the guard/center from Florida who seems to be skyrocketing up draft boards, is actually now being rated too highly.
"It certainly doesn't hurt him that his twin brother [Maurkice] had such an amazing season last year, but he's a heckuva player in his own right. I think there's a perception out there that he's overrated," Said Wright.
"He made the move to center as a senior and there were a few games, especially early in the season, where he looked bad snapping the ball. I think people are holding that against him, and I do to a degree, too. I think he's more of a project at center. He's much better suited for guard at the next level, but I don't think you can hold that (playing center) against him.With a little more time and practice he can get those snapping issues worked out and he can be very effective there, as well. But I think whether it be center or guard he's the type of guy that you're going to plug in and you're going to have an excellent player for 10 years."
We also talked about a couple of other players who have been mentioned as possibilities for the Giants with the 19th pick of the first round, linebacker Akeem Ayers of UCLA and running back Mark Ingram of Alabama.
Here is Wright on Ayers, who he referred to as a "dark horse" to be selected at No. 19:
"He does have a pretty good blend of size and speed," Wright said. "He's a bit of a reach at 19, he's probably more of a late first-rounder. So I don't know that they would take him there."
"In recent years the Giants haven't put that big of an emphasis on the running back position. They've been able to find guys in the mid to late rounds, guys like [Brandon] Jacobs and [Ahmad] Bradshaw where they haven't had to invest these premium resources in that position," Wright said.
"Really Ingram's not the type of guy the Giants look for. The Giants like those guys with the blend of size and speed and Ingram definitely doesn't have that. Ingram is a very good football player, but he's definitely not the physical prototype. I question whether he's really an option for them. I don't think he would be.
"I think Pouncey and Luiget are probably their top two targets and then maybe the Plan C would be one of those tackles."
[NOTE: Wright and I talked about a number of other draft topics pertaining to the Giants. I will have more from our conversation in an upcoming post or two. Be sure to watch for those.]