I had an opportunity to chat online today with Jesse Bartolis of NFLMocks, a guy whose passion for and knowledge of the NFL Draft may only be surpassed by his love for the New York Giants. Jesse used to post here under the name 'EliManCrushing,' and is now one of the lead editors at NFL Mocks, a highly-successful draft site.
We tossed draft-related Giants questions and topics back-and-forth for a while Tuesday afternoon. The results of our chat are after the jump.
Jesse: Are there any players the Giants have held visits with/shown interest in that they might consider in the first round?
Ed: Well, I will use the visits tracker from Pro Football Talk to answer that. There is nobody they have reportedly had in for a visit who would be first-round caliber. They did go to the SU Pro Day, and Chandler Jones is considered late first-round. I heard somewhere that the Giants kinda have a thing for defensive ends.
Let me say I'm not sold on Jones. The lack of collegiate production bothers me. But what do I know? I wanted the Giants to draft Derrick Morgan and thought they were nuts to pass on him and take Jason Pierre-Paul.
Give me your thoughts on Jones, specifically Jones to the Giants?
Jesse: Jones to the Giants makes a lot of sense. The Giants have shown that they are forward thinkers and will fortify positions of current strength that could become weak in the near future. With Osi Umeinyora and Kiwanuka entering free agency the Giants could consider Jones.
Jerry Reese has also shown a tendency to be drawn to defensive linemen with long arms and believes that's vital to success-if you can believe it -- Chandler Jones has arms that are nearly 3/4 inches longer than the lengthy Jason Pierre Paul.
Ed: It's the physical/athletic comparison to JPP that makes me think Jones has Reese's attention.
Here's a question. In Reese's ideal world what three players (realistically) do you think he would love to see on the board when it's his turn at 32? Of the three, what would he do?
Jesse: This year is such a weird year to predict the Giants. Based on the Giants history under Reese (as well as when he was director of scouting) the Giants have avoided a few positions early in the draft: OL, LB, TE, RB
Those are arguably the positions the Giants need most immediately.
But I'll go with history. I have a feeling the Giants like Chandler Jones, I think they will also really consider Stephen Hill the WR out of Georiga Tech, and I'm going to say Peter Konz the C out of Wisconsin. Konz has great size and play multiple positions which the Giants will like. In my most recent mock I have them taking Stephen Hill, who I think will be available.
Ed: It's really interesting. I have been studying the draft the past few years and I honestly think I have less of a feel for what the Giants might do this year than at any time in the last five years. Almost everything is on the table, and I don't see one 'must-have' player who would be an obvious target.
The last time they drafted at 32 Kenny Phillips was the obvious target. Everybody on the planet knew the Giants would take KP if he was still on the board. This year that guy does not exist.
Jesse: I agree. What is interesting to consider this year too is picking 32nd under the New C.B.A. the Giants have a great opportunity to trade down if they desire.
I can't think of the last time they traded down, do you think that's an option for the Giants?
Ed: It's always an option, but I don't see it. I always like trading down to get more picks when there isn't someone you are in love with, i just hate the idea of completely leaving the first round.
Let me throw out some Player A vs. Player B scenarios. You can flip them back at me if you like.
Doug Martin or David Wilson?
Jesse: That's a tough one. I feel like I'm in the minority here, but I like David Wilson. He can be really frustrating because he doesn't get north and south quickly all the time, but I think besides Trent Richardson he's the best running back in this class who can create his own yardage. Good center of gravity, stronger than you'd think, and good top speed.
Ed: I will answer that one by saying Martin hands down if we are talking about the Giants. I think Wilson would give Tom Coughlin a heart attack with his running all over the place and unpredictability. I think Martin is a solid player who would be a great fit with the Giants.
Mohamed Sanu or Alshon Jeffery (thinking into the 2nd round)?
Jesse: If we're talking about late second round i think Jeffery will be gone before that. I prefer Alshon Jeffery. There are no questions about his love for football, but questions have emerged about his willingness to work off the field which I think are over-stated. At his best, Jeffery could remind people of Plaxico Burress. Will he get there? We'll have to wait and see. Sanu's a good player, but I think he's more of a big possession WR, or slot guy.
Do you expect the Giants to go WR early?
Ed: I just don't know. I think it's possible, if a player they like is there. What do the Giants do if a receiver, running back and offensive tackle they like equally are there? I don't know. I will, however, be surprised if the Giants don't address the offensive line with an early selection.
One more player comparison. Zach Brown or LaVonte David?
Jesse: To be honest, I don't like either for the Giants. The Giants have Keith Rivers, Michael Boley, and Jacquian Williams are all three weakside type linebackers.
I'm going to go with Zach Brown. David is instinctual, fast, and a good wrap up tackler. He's good in coverage too. A lot of people think Brown is a bust waiting to happen, but I thik he's more physical than he gets credit for. He's a freak athlete, he has long arms, and he can be a LB who covers almost like a safety. With all the tight ends dominating the league Brown has a skill that just can't be taught.
Here's a question for you, do you think the Giants would prefer a Coby Fleener at the end of the first round, a player like Dwayne Allen in the second, or a late round TE type?
Ed: I think a polished guy like Fleener would be difficult to pass up at 32, unless there is a lineman they really love also available.
We know the Giants will bypass 'need' for 'value' on many occasions. If there is one position you think the Giants absolutely have to address early this time around what is it?
Jesse: Safety. That may seem surprising, but their depth at safety is terrifying, and there are really only a few good safeties in this class. They have a lot of young players who could step up at the other positions. OL James Brewer, Mitch Petrus might step up, WR they have Jerel Jernigan they are expecting things from, LB they have some options, but if Rolle or Phillips got hurt at safety who are they playing there? Chris Horton-he hasn't played in two years and wasn't great even when he did. Tyler Sash is a 6th round special teams player who is limited athletically--he could step up, but that's a scary option.
Ed: I have seen lots of scenarios where Mark Barron of Alabama falls to the end of the first. If he is there for the Giants that's another guy who would be really difficult to pass up.
Reese has made a habit over the years of taking fliers on late-round developmental quarterbacks. Is there a guy who might fit that description for the Giants this time around?
Jesse: From people I've talked to the Giants have shown some serious interest in Dan Dilella the Albany QB. B.J. Coleman out of Tennessee Chatoonga is a favorite of mine, but he might have to be drafted in the late 4th. I also like Austin Davis out of Souther Mississippi-but he doesn't have the kind of wow measurables that the Giants tend to gravitate towards.
Jesse: What's the latest on Chad Jones think there is any chance he plays this year? And if you had to take a guess right now today who are the Giants picking at 32?
Ed: I think the Chad Jones story is fantastic, and it's great that he is working out and will probably go to training camp and all that. If he ever plays in a regular-season NFL game, though, I will be stunned.
As for who they are taking at 32 I will go out on a limb and say they don't let Chandler Jones slide by. ... But, I reserve the right to change my mind in the next five minutes!
Who would your pick be?
Jesse: Agree on Chandler Jones. But I have a feeling that the Titans will seriously consider Jones at 20. They seem to be attracted to the same kind of DE that the Giants are
I think it's Stephen Hill. I think he's available at that spot, I think the Giants will appreciate his blocking ability and his upside and now that he doesn't have to be a starter immediately so he can develop.
-- Thanks to Jesse for taking time to do this.