This is the time of year when draftniks go crazy. Film is watched, measurements are studied, opinions are formed, and arguments rage. You hear terms like "blazing speed", "natural bender", and "body control".
And while all this makes sense to the people writing it, but without some familiar frame of reference, less interested fans can be left at a loss.
Well, what would be a more familiar reference point than the players they have spent the last season (or more) rooting for?
So let's take a look at some prospects who should look pretty familiar to fans of the New York Giants.
Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Jordan Matthews has the distinction of being the most productive receiver in the SEC's storied history. Matthews has reliable hands to go with smooth route running and body control. He also has a prototypical frame for an outside receiver at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, with long arms, and big hands. At the combine Matthews turned a 4.45 second 40, a 6.95 second 3-cone drill, a 4.18-second short shuttle, and had a 10-foot broad jump.
Jordan Matthews vs Ole Miss (2013) (via Aaron Aloysius)
The receiver affectionately known as R2-82 was a productive receiver in the SEC. He stands 6-3 and weighs 212 pounds. At his pro-day, Randle ran a 4.45 40-yard dash, jumped 10-1, did the 3-cone drill in 6.99 seconds, and the short shuttle in 4.36 seconds. While Randle is still developing, he has shown reliable hands, a very smooth style, an ability to go up and get the ball, and (given a bit of room) make things happen after the catch.
Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
Louis Nix III is one of those athletic rarities who at 330 pounds has the ability to move like a normal person a little more than half his size. He has the size and strength to play the nose tackle in the middle of a defense, but also the power (defined as the ability to do work quickly) and agility to play the athletically demanding 3-technique or 5-techniques (defensive end in a 3 man front). At Notre Dame Nix was known for his non-stop motor, violant hands, and ability to disrupt the middle of offenses. At the 2014 NFL combine, Nix measured in at 6-2, 320 pounds, had a 1.85 10-yard split, 25.5-inch vertical jump, and 8-8 broad jump.
Louis Nix III vs Oklahoma 2012 (via DCheeseB)
"Big Hank" was drafted in the second round by the Giants when his stock fell from being a first round lock after a sub-par senior season that raised doubts about his work ethic and level of production. Once he got regular snaps in-game (a difficult job in a deep defensive tackle rotation), Hankins dispelled the doubts raised by a senior season in which he was massively over-used. At Ohio State Hankins played almost every down and played almost every position along their defensive front; 0-technique, 1-technique, 3-technique, and 5-technique. As a Giant Hankins played the 1 & 3 techniques and quickly proved to be one of the Giants best defensive linemen, playing with power and agility. The athletic similarities are striking as well: Hankins (6-3, 320 pounds) turned in a 1.84 10 yard split, jumped 26 inches in the vertical, and had an 8'8" broad jump.
Note: Linval Joseph fits this mold closely as well, but his numbers are just a bit off from Hankins & Nix's.
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Lee has long been considered one of the top receiver prospects in a deep wide receiver draft. In fact, arguments go back and forth about whether he or Texas A&M's Mike Evans is the second-best receiver after Clemson's Sammy Watkins. Regardless, Lee used his crisp route running, solid hands, and explosive ability after the catch to make a name for himself at USC. At the combine he didn't measure any bigger than expected at 6-0, 192 pounds, and ran a 4.52 40-yard dash (a number that is disappointing, given his knack for making explosive plays in college). However, the source of Lee's big-play ability became apparent when he showed his lower-body explosiveness with a 38-inch vertical jump and 10-6 broad jump.
Marqise Lee vs Fresno State (2013 Las Vegas Bowl) (via DCheeseB)
Or should I just say "CRUUUUUUUUZZ!!!"? The differences in their paths to the NFL are very different, but the players are very similar. They have similar builds, though Cruz is a bit bigger at 206 pounds. Like Lee, Cruz is slower than he looks, running (about) a 4.5 second 40. However, like Lee, Cruz runs crisp routes, using sharp cuts and good balance to create separation. Then his explosive lower body (41 inch vertical and 10'5" broad jump) take over to further the gap and make up for a lack of long speed.
Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
I decided to save the most obvious and publicized comparison for last. Zack Martin has a reputation of being a bulldog on the outside, and is being evaluated by scouts as the most versatile lineman in the draft. He might not have the footwork to stick at left tackle, but he can start at any of the other 4 positions along the offensive line. He has adequate athleticism and and size, particularly for the interior of the offensive line.
Zack Martin vs Michigan State (2013) (via Adrian Ahufinger)
Jutin Pugh was the first offensive lineman drafted in the 1st round by the Giants in a long time, and one of the few rookies in Giants history to start every game. Pugh was easily the Giants' best and most consistent offensive lineman in 2013. And what he lacked in dominating power at the right tackle position, he made up for with excellent footwork, athleticism, and a refusal to let the other guy win. Martin is almost a clone of Pugh, both physically and athletically. Pugh is 6-4, 308 pounds, while Martin is 6-4, 307. Their various measurables were also remarkably close, with Pugh edging Martin out slightly when it comes to movement skills and agility.
There you have it. That's only a small sampling of the prospects in the 2014 draft, but when those names come up, whether they are the topic or they come up in reference to another prospect, they should be familiar. Giants fans who don't pay close attention to college football or don't dissect the draft at least have some frame of reference when it comes to these prospects.