Here we are, at the end of this series. It was fun to dream about being the GM of the New York Giants. It certainly gives you an appreciation for what Jerry Reese and the other 31 general managers have to contend with. There are some truly difficult decisions. In any case, we come now to my favorite part of the simulation -- the draft. This will be a seven-round Giants only mock draft.
Now I'm not making any guesses about who is "value" and who is a "reach." We haven't even had the combine or the Senior Bowl yet. Preliminary big boards are just being made and we're still waiting for whatever juniors may declare. This is simply a list of players that have my best guess would be available at each slot that I believe would fit well with the Giants in this overall simulation. So with that said, let's get right down to it.
La'el Collins, OL, LSU
Yes, an offensive lineman and given how our off-season went, I don't think it would be that hard to guess that's where I'd go. Collins is my favorite offensive lineman in this draft. He just simply looks like a New York Giant. He's got the versatility that they apparently covet in that he can play tackle or guard. At 6-foot-5, 320 pounds, he's got the ideal frame for an offensive lineman.
He's the best run blocking tackle in the draft. He generates tremendous power from his lower body, and he plays with a violent abandon. His punch is heavy and when run blocking, physically punishes the defender on each play. He has great length and has quick enough feet to get to the second level as a run blocker. His weakness seems to be balance, you'll often see him on the ground after blocking. He also could struggle against speed rushers. He seems destined as a high level guard or right tackle and could succeed at either spot. For the Giants, that means either left guard or right tackle. Either way, it takes away one of the biggest weaknesses that the Giants have had over the past couple years.
Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA
An inside linebacker for the "Beezer Brigade." Kendricks is a new age linebacker in a similar mold as his brother. He is 6-foot, 232 pounds, which doesn't seem ideal but it hasn't been a problem for him at any point. He's an explosive and violent hitter. He's aggressive and instinctual and possesses that sideline to sideline range that teams covet. He has the potential to be a three down linebacker for this team and while he needs to improve shedding blocks, seems at home in pass coverage, in run defense, as well as a blitzer.
In fact, the prospect he most reminds me of is Big Blue View favorite Arthur Brown. Let's hope his career in the NFL turns out more fruitful than Brown's has thus far. He'd be competing with (and learning from) Jameel McClain, but I can't see him sitting on the bench for long. Too explosive for that to happen.
Tevin Coleman, RB Indiana
This draft is full of quality running backs. I've often made the comment that the 2015 running back class looks to be the equivalent in depth of the 2014 wide receiver class. Coleman is one of those quality backs who could fall to the third round due to the extraordinary depth and the nature of the running back position.
Coleman is solidly built at 6-foot, 210 pounds and is lightning quick. He's more of a one-cut guy, but that cut often looks beautiful. He's got elite acceleration and very strong vision, so he can operate as the home run threat in this offense. He's strong, too, as arm tackles won't take him down. He'll likely be in a rotation somehow with Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams, with Orleans Darkwa lurking as depth. He'd be a great get at this point and one that would really solidify the skill positions.
Za'darius Smith, DE, Kentucky
Smith, in many ways, is a run defending end in a similar mold to Jason Pierre-Paul. So you might be thinking that it's kind of redundant re-signing JPP and than drafting a guy like Smith. I do think that a developmental, high-upside athletic specimen is needed.
Smith is the type of 6-5, 272-pound monster who could become very useful if the Giants move to the 3-4 as a 5 technique. He could also develop into a nice 3 technique, as he had some pretty good snaps inside as a player for Kentucky. Behind Kerry Wynn, JPP, Damontre Moore, and Robert Ayers, Smith would be battling with Markus Kuhn, Jay Bromley, and Cullen Jenkins for snaps. He could be the future once Jenkins and Kuhn depart.
Austin Hill, WR, Arizona
With Odell Beckham Jr., Rueben Randle, Corey Washington, Victor Cruz, and Preston Parker (and possibly Jerrel Jernigan though I declined to re-sign him in this simulation), the Giants seem to be set along wide receiver, but they could use another big body to compete with Washington, Parker, and Randle.
Hill is a 6-2, 215-pound receiver that is coming off somewhat of a disappointing season after spending time rehabbing from a torn ACL. He's got some suddenness to him and could be a nice slot receiver project as teams are starting to move these big bodies inside to take advantage of smaller slot corners. It would fill out the wide receiving corps nicely.
Derrick Malone, Jr., OLB/S, Oregon
Another linebacker? Have you gone mad? Possibly. I'm not sure Malone Jr., lasts till the sixth round, but hey, why not give it a shot. He's 6-2, 220 pounds soaking wet, so he's a tweener and that will hurt his draft position. He reminds me of Ray-Ray Armstrong, who I really liked when he was on my Miami Hurricanes.
We have a player like this in Cooper Taylor. Malone provides competition. He possesses average athleticism for his size but he hits hard and has good range. He doesn't shy away from tackles at his size either, which is crucial. He was on several preseason award lists, so you know there's some talent there for us to take a flier on at in the sixth round. I'm not sure if he was a captain or not.
Rory Anderson, TE, South Carolina
I've had this pick in my "sig mocks" almost every time because it's a great fit. A long-armed tight end with great hands who is inconsistent, has average athleticism, runs good routes, and ends up making at least one or two mistakes every game? Hey, that sounds a lot like Larry Donnell!
Anderson is very much like Donnell. A project the Giants can mold into an eventual starter . Definitely worth a pick near the end of the draft.
Terry Poole, OT, San Diego State
The definition of a flier but he sounds exactly like what you'd want to take a flier on. Humble kid who worked his you-know-what off to become the starting left tackle on his team. Plenty athletic, as evidenced by being a former basketball player and he's got great length at 6-5, 310 pounds.
He sounds exactly like someone you could take a chance on and succeed with. The Giants could very well stash him on the practice squad and let him develop into a contributor. It would give them a few really high upside players there who could eventually pay off big time.
Whew, that's it! Now let's wrap it all up!
So, let's take a look at what we were able to accomplish. I came into this with a few things in mind. I wanted to upgrade the offensive line and provide it with some good depth. I also wanted to add a few difference makers to the defense. Let's see how I fared.
QB - I'm sticking with the Eli Manning/Ryan Nassib combo for now. I'm going to put that off till 2015 and re-evaluate then.
RB - I think I upgraded the position. Rashad Jennings is injury prone, but he now has a 2nd year Andre Williams, the third-round pick in Tevin Coleman, and Orleans Darkwa, who's definitely impressed the coaches. Peyton Hillis and Michael Cox are out. I think that we got faster here.
WR - Honestly didn't do too much here. We've got Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz, and Rueben Randle as the starters. New 4th round pick Austin Hill comes in, along with Corey Washington and Preston Parker. I think that's a solid group.
TE - A regret of mine was that I couldn't do much to upgrade this group. Re-signed Larry Donnell and Daniel Fells to go along with Adrien Robinson. All three will be free agents in the coming year, leaving the Giants with only Rory Anderson as a developmental TE. Big area of need going forward.
OL - Will Beatty/La'el Collins/Weston Richburg/Geoff Schwartz/Justin Pugh. That would be our starting line and I daresay that doesn't look half bad. We've got John Jerry and J.D. Walton coming back as reserves along with newly-added Jeremy Parnell and a project player in Terry Poole. I think that's pretty solid.
On to defense.
DL - Jason Pierre-Paul will be back for a long time. He's joined by Damontre Moore, Kerry Wynn, Robert Ayers, and Za'darius Smith as the edge guys. At defensive tackle, newly-signed Nick Fairley teams up with Johnathan Hankins in the middle, backed up by Jay Bromley and Cullen Jenkins. I think this an above average group in the league.
LB - Probably an upgrade from last year. We've got Devon Kennard resuming his position at SAM with Eric Kendricks as the new MIKE. Jacquian Williams returns and with the addition of Bruce Carter there probably is some fierce competition for the starting WILL. Jameel McClain, Mark Herzlich, and Spencer Paysinger are the backups.
CB - If healthy, a dominant group with Walter Thurmond, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Prince Amukamara the starters. Add in Trumaine McBride and Zack Bowman as depth and you've got a pretty darn good squad.
S - Still a big risk, but I tried my best. The prized free agent of my off-season was Devin McCourty and he'll stabilize the position. Next to him is a big question mark with Antrel Rolle, Quintin Demps, and Stevie Brown all not retained. It will come down to Cooper Taylor or Nat Berhe. Bennett Jackson could also compete for a spot at safety as could draft pick Derrick Malone Jr.
Overall, there are still some holes, mostly at tight end and at strong safety. Linebacker will still be considered a weak part of our defense but I don't think it's going to be as big a liability as before. I think overall, the team has definitely upgraded. We could see a monstrous defense with an upgraded offensive line paving the way for Williams and Tevin Coleman, not to mention give time to Manning to torch secondaries with Cruz and Beckham.
I went all in with this rebuild and I think I'm happy with it! Let me know how I did in the comments, and what you'd do differently for this mock draft as well!