The New York Giants aspirations to be the first team to play the Super Bowl in their own stadium ended a long time ago, but the 0-6 Giants are going all out for the No. 1 pick right now and they currently have the lead. Hopefully that won't happen, I'd still rather watch them win. With all this in mind, though, I thought I'd bring back the draft watch we posted every Saturday last season to give draft fans and and football fans alike something to root for. Today there are a few terrific games scheduled. I'm going to give you two and give you some players the Giants might be watching.
Projecting the Giants draft needs right now is obviously futile for a number of reasons -- chiefly it's very possible that if things continue on the path the Giants are on right now that both coordinators Perry Fewell and Kevin Gilbride could be fired, and possibly head coach Tom Coughlin as well.
UCLA Bruins at Stanford Cardinal
The Bruins have two players who look like they could be slated for the top 10 if the draft was happening today and both play positions where the Giants are struggling -- quarterback and OLB/DE. Anthony Barr is 6-foot-4, nearly 250 pounds and explosive. He's a former running back learning the nuances of playing defense, but terrorizing offenses in the process. Teams selecting Barr are hoping they are finding the next outside linebacker who can have a Von Miller type impact. Quarterback Brett Hundley is the other terrific player, but he is only a red-shirt sophomore and I don't actually expect the Giants to entertain the possibility of selecting a quarterback in the top 10. Those two are the highlight players for UCLA, but offensive linemen Xavier Su'a-Filo, defensive linemen Cassius Marsh, and linebacker Jordan Zumwalt are other players to watch.
For the Cardinal the talent lies in the defensive front seven with defensive ends Trent Murphy and Ben Gardner. Murphy is a guy who plays with terrific intensity and has shown himself to be effective in space and with his hand in the dirt. Whether the Giants think of him more as a 4-3 DE or a 3-4 OLB could depend on their defensive system next year. Ben Garnder is more powerful and is a 4-3 DE. Linebacker Shayne Skov is a terrific player who is going to be labeled with the "character concerns" label, he's playing well this year after another year recovering from an ACL tear in 2011. Quarterback Kevin Hogan is no slouch, either.
Florida State Seminoles at Clemson Tigers
Clemson has dynamic playmakers on offense highlighted by wide receiver Sammy Watkins who burst onto the scene two years ago as a freshman and has been consistently good since. Watkins could be a potential replacement target for WR Hakeem Nicks if the Giants feel Rueben Randle is not a long term solution. At quarterback is the talented Tajh Boyd who is competing with Hundley, Bridgewater, and Manziel to be the first quarterback selected next year (provided all are in the draft). On defense for the Tigers is linebacker Vic Beasley, he's listed as a defensive end but weighs in at about 230 pounds so he's moving to linebacker in the NFL (similar to Bruce Irvin out of West Virginia a few years ago).
Florida State has a terrific offensive linemen in Cameron Erving. A former defensive end, he's 6-foot-5, 310 pounds, mean and athletic. Will Beatty's disappointing play could put offensive tackle in the mix early for the Giants next year. And then the Seminoles are loaded on defense: Linebacker Christian Jones, DL Timmy Jernigan, safety LeMarcus Joyner, and safety Terrance Brooks all have a chance, as of now, to be selected on day two of the NFL draft. Jones is likely of particular interest to Giants fans as one of the nation's best inside linebackers. He's a very good athlete, which the Giants have been missing at linebacker for too long.