With discussion of the 2013 NFL Draft being such a favorite topic for so many at this time of year, I reached out to SB Nation draft analyst Dan Kadar to talk about the New York Giants and the upcoming draft.
Dan took some time out of his evening recently to chat with me, and the results of our discussion are below.
Ed: Let me start with this ... ESPN gurus released new mocks today ... Kiper took Zach Ertz for the Giants ... McShay took Alec Ogletree ... which choice is more likely, in your opinion?
Dan: Both make sense because Martellus Bennett and Chase Blackburn are free agents.
If you're talking strictly about either tight end or middle linebacker, the defensive player makes more sense
The depth at tight end is pretty good this year, but the depth at middle linebacker falls off pretty far after Ogletree, Arthur Brown, Manti Te'o and Kevin Minter are taken. Since those may all be round one players, the Giants may have to strike at that position.
As we've seen before, New York can squeeze a lot out of a marginal tight end, so that may be the recourse if they draft one later
Ed: Jesse has a SERIOUS man-crush on Ogletree. Since we mentioned him already, what's your take on the guy?
Dan: He comes off as a classic Jerry Reese pick. He's big, athletic and loaded with potential. But he's also raw and has some technique issues. Given their salary situation, I think it's important for the Giants to really hit on their picks this year and Ogletree is a risk.
Ed: Can he play the middle in a 4-3?
Dan: Yeah, that's the other good thing about Ogletree. He's going to be a versatile player. He can play middle in a 4-3 or 3-4 or even some weak side because of his coverage skills. Once the mental part of the game catches up to his physical skills, he's a true three-down linebacker.
He's not a linebacker that will have to come out in nickel situations, basically.
Ed: OK. Let me back up to tight end for a second. The Giants drafted Adrien Robinson a year ago and he never played as a rookie. Can he be at least a 'marginal' NFL tight end that the Giants can get something out of?
Dan: That's difficult to say because he didn't play at all this year. (PFF says he had three snaps) When he was taken, I thought it was a gamble pick. His potential is fine, but he wasn't exactly a standout player at Cincinnati. He may be another year out on his development.
I only say that because it would be challenging to step into what would pretty much be your first year and be the lead tight end for the Giants. That's a sizable role in that offense, and Robinson may be better suited as No. 2 who can learn from getting some but not a ton of playing time.
Ed: Ezekial Ansah question. We all know he's compared to JPP and his physical skills make him a Reese-type pick. Is he still on the board at 19 for the Giants?
Dan: I can tell you that in the mock draft that Matthew Fairburn and I have coming out on Monday he's long gone. He's a polarizing player. I've had him up and down the first round of the draft. He's a guy we'll know where to slot better as the draft process plays out. There's going to be some teams that absolutely love him (I think the Giants are one) and there's going to be some teams that are scared to take him. He's not ready as a pass rusher, but he's good against the run and has the tools to get better.
Ed: Considering the release of Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard being a free agent and Marvin Austin having done nothing to this point, defensive tackle is a need for the Giants. How deep is this DT class?
Dan: Defensive tackle is probably the deepest spot in the draft. There's the obvious players for the first round, but after that there are a lot of scheme-specific guys pretty deep. The draft usually has 20 defensive tackles taken, and there may be a little more than that this year. There's going to be guys in the third and fourth round that should be solid NFL players.
Ed: Lane Johnson, the Oklahoma offensive tackle, seems fairly polarizing. Some have him as a top 20 player. Others, like Jesse, have him ranked 50+ on their Big Boards. Your thought?
Dan: He's a good player at a critical position, so his value is probably a little inflated. He's not a quick-footed offensive tackle like D'Brickashaw Ferguson or Ryan Clady. He's a grinder who can get physical. He's not going to blow anyone away in a specific area, but he's good across the board. I like his attitude, but I tend to like offensive linemen who are mean and like to finish off blocks aggressively. He could play left or right side.
Ed: Top 20 or a second-round type guy?
Dan: Top 20 for sure. There were a couple junior offensive tackles that went back to school and that pushed Johnson and Eric Fisher of Central Michigan up several spots. Johnson also had a nice Senior Bowl week. He's probably cemented in the top 20, and maybe in the top 12.
Ed: The combine is coming up, of course. Give me a handful of players you will be watching, or who you think we can really learn things about during that process?
Dan: I'm going to closely be watching Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray. He's a junior who should have gone back to school, but has a load of talent. He volunteered to be a "throwing quarterback" so he'll be one of three throwing in wide receiver drills. That could be important for him. We'll learn a lot about Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones - what his exact size is, there are some questions about his playing speed and spinal stenosis issue. I want to see Denard Robinson's 40-yard dash. How Alabama's Jesse Williams does in the bench press. The health checks on guys like Chris Faulk of LSU and Knile Davis will be important.
I really want to see how a guy like Ohio State defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins shows up. His weight has dropped from 350 early in his college career to 317 as a junior. Did he keep his weight in check after the season? Don't forget, Ohio State has been done for quite a while after sitting out bowl season.
Oh, and Tyrann Mathieu and Manti Te'o. Heard they may have interesting character questions.
Thanks to Dan for taking the time. We will talk with him again prior to the draft, perhaps in an Open Thread where we allow comments and questions from the community. Don't forget to check out all of SB Nation's draft coverage on the SB Nation Draft Hub Page. Follow Dan on Twitter @MockingTheDraft.