If the New York Giants take an offensive lineman with the ninth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft it will almost certainly be one of four players -- Brandon Scherff of Iowa, La'el Collins of LSU, Ereck Flowers of Miami or Andrus Peat of Stanford.
We have debated each of these players a number of different ways. Today, let's turn to the SB Nation college web sites covering the schools these four offensive linemen represent. A blogger from each school will 'make the case' for why their guy should be the Giants' first-round pick.
Ross Binder of Black Heart Gold Pants makes the case for Scherff.
The Giants should take Brandon Scherff at No. 9 if they want the meanest, toughest, and quite possibly strongest lineman available in the draft. Meanest? He lives to block guys and crush defenders coming at him. Toughest? He had knee surgery after the Ball State game last year... and missed one day of practice. He started (and played) the next week against Iowa State. Strongest? SCHERFF IS STRONGEST ONE THERE IS! (Well, maybe not, but he is astoundingly strong.) Scherff is also humble, an incredibly hard worker, and a fantastic teammate, by all accounts at Iowa.
There are reasons to be wary of Scherff, especially if you're planning to make him a left tackle -- is his footwork good enough to handle elite pass rushers in the NFL? Are his arms maybe a touch shorter than you'd like? If you're hellbent on making him a left tackle, well, I can't guarantee that Scherff will be a 100 percent success in the NFL. But in the right situation, I do think he's going to be a very, very good player in the NFL. He has the work ethic, the mean streak, and the ability to excel at the next level. Granted, that might be as an interior lineman, but if that's a role that the Giants are comfortable with, I think you'll be very, very happy with what you get out of Scherff.
Paul Crewe of And The Valley Shook makes the case for Collins.
Why should the Giants take Collins? Easy: Character, Work Ethic, and Talent.
First of all, he's an Eagle Scout. Never one indiscretion, never one issue, never even a murmur of a whisper of a rumor of trouble. He's a guy you can take and have absolutely zero concerns about anything off the field.
Collins showed up at LSU in good enough shape to play as a true freshman. By his sophomore year he was starting at LG. By his junior year he was starting at LT. He played well enough there to get drafted, but probably more in the mid rounds. So Collins opted to return to LSU, get his degree and improve his resume. And it wasn't something he took lightly. Just look at this. And this. He improved in spades.
Character and work ethic are great, but does he have what it takes to excel in the NFL based on talent alone? I'm going to throw out a comparison to Jason Peters. Peters is a dynamite LT in the NFL, despite not posting your prototypical physical measurements at height and arm length. If you check their athletic measurements, they are pretty comparable. If anything, Collins is quicker, which is what should allow him to stand up in pass pro, despite lacking a monstrous wingspan. His quick feet will allow him to beat people to the punch, like he does to Dante Fowler Jr. here. Oh, and as a run blocker. Yeah, he does this.
I think Collins can slot at G or T at the next level, which gives him added value due to versatility. Will he be a superstar? I don't know. But I do know he'll be a guy that plays a long, long time in the league.
Jerry Steinberg of State of the U makes the case for Flowers.
First and foremost he[Flowers] is a specimen physically. At 6-foot-6 329 pounds he has uncommon feet. He backs up his "nimble" movements with equally rare power (NFL Combine best 37 reps on the bench press). Both attributes make him a force in run blocking as well as in pass protection (0 sacks allowed, 2 holding penalties the entire season this past year at UM).
Flowers is also a quiet leader. He never complains, and while his nature is quiet he earns his teammates respect and leads by example.
His toughness is also unquestioned. Flowers suffered a torn meniscus this past fall. and returned within two weeks of surgery to face FSU where he completely shut down Mario Edwards Jr. (one of FSU's best pass rushers and an NFL prospect in his own right).
Overall what you are getting if you draft Ereck Flowers, is a ready made NFL bookend who can play RT or LT with equal aplomb and could be a cornerstone for your franchise for years to come.
With the right position coach and some clean up on some of his technique he has the potential to be a Pro Bowler.
Jack Blanchat of Rule of Tree makes the case for Peat.
In 2014, the Giants took the steps to build an entirely new offense.
A quicker paced passing game thanks to offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. A new pair of running backs in Andre Williams and Rashad Jennings. Add Odell Beckham, Jr., a bolt of lightning harnessed and distilled down into the most explosive receiver in the NFL in 2014, and you have a team that progressed in the right direction on offense last year.
So what's the next step? Keep the offense trending in the right direction. And picking Andrus Peat, the top tackle in this draft class, could help New York continue to push their offense to new heights.
Peat, Stanford's 6-foot-7, 313-pound left tackle, is less of a human being and more of a golem constructed to succeed in the NFL. He was a second-team All-Pac-12 player and an Outland Trophy semifinalist in 2014, and he's considered by many to be the best offensive line prospect in the 2015 NFL draft class.
He'd be a good fit with the Giants because Big Blue has two offensive line spots essentially up for grabs, and the Giants have had issues along the offensive line for several years. However, need is not the sole reason that Jerry Reese and company should consider Peat with the 9th pick in the draft (or perhaps even a trade back later in the draft).
Peat is a capable pass blocker with room to improve, and pretty much all scouts agree that his ceiling is high as a left tackle. His strength as a pass blocker lies in his big frame - he's capable of handling more powerful edge rushers - but sometimes struggles with an inconsistent bend and punch when tasked with faster edge rushers. That's a skill that can be coached up in the NFL, and it's something Peat has been dedicated at working on in the pre-draft process. (Scouts insisted on seeing his hands at work during his pro day.)
The strongest part of his game is as a run blocker, where he's able to get low and turn his size into raw, bulldozing power. That's a skillset the Giants desperately need, especially if they're going to commit to Williams as a power runner.The Giants averaged just 3.6 yards per rush attempt last year - one of the bottom five marks in the entire NFL - and that's where Peat's game could have the biggest impact.
So if you think Peat is the best offensive lineman in this draft - and many out there do - the Giants should grab Peat in the top 10 and go home happy. You've just added a rock-solid piece to your offense that should help it continue to trend in a positive direction in 2015.
And maybe it's just easier to think of it as a simple flow chart. If Odell Beckham is on the field, he's open. If Eli Manning is able to throw him the ball, the Giants have a good offense. So anything you can do to keep Manning upright is going to get Beckham in the end zone more often. And that means Peat is a good fit in New York. That's simple enough to work for me.