We have finally gotten within two weeks of the NFL Draft, which means it is time for my final personal mock draft. This won't be my final "Official" mock draft. That will likely come right before the draft.
No, this one is a seven-round, Giants-only mock draft, and I decided to go with a theme.
I believe the Giants are a very self-aware organization. After each season they do a thorough self-evaluation. And part of that, I believe, is an evaluation of their draft strategy from the previous year. What prospects played up to, beyond, or below expectations, why they played the way they did, and whether changes in how the Giants' big board is constructed are needed.
With a bit of perspective, it seems obvious that the Giants changed how they value prospects going into the 2013 draft. They still drafted athletes, but an increased emphasis was placed on players with high character, strong work ethic, and a high IQ. This was even more apparent with their 2014 "captains only" draft.
Looking back at the 2014 season, nothing stands out more than Odell Beckham. So for this draft, I am going to try to maximize the traits that made Beckham successful. For me, that means picking players who have high character, are athletic, and have that "Dawg" about them.
Round 1 - 9th Overall
Shane Ray, EDGE, Missouri
This pick might start some out on a sour note, but I haven't let Ray's off-season make me fall out of love with him. Yeah, his measurables have been poor. But people need to remember he suffered a foot injury (turf toe) in the last game of his collegiate career, just before entering the draft process. Spraining the structure you are using for every athletic movement is going to impact how your athleticism is measured. But going back to the tape, Ray is one of the most explosively athletic players in the draft. He fires off the snap like he is being shot out of a cannon, plays with -- barely -- controlled violence and aggression and his pass rushing skills are polished for a college player.
But more than that is the young man himself.He and his mother were abandoned by his father, leaving them to find their way surrounded by drugs and crime. The will to rise above his past shows itself on the field with a relentless motor.
Ray might be undersized for a traditional 4-3 end, but he isn't lacking in strength. If his explosive get-off isn't enough, he has played inside at 3-technique, mixing it up with some massive interior linemen as well. Ray isn't just the 2014 SEC sack leader, he is a devoted run defender. And unlike the similarly-sized Vic Beasley, Ray's larger frame doesn't appear to be maxed out, and he could be able to add another 10-15 pounds of muscle without sacrificing that explosive athleticism.
Round 2 - 40th Overall
Ali Marpet, OG, Hobart
Okay, now I know I'm not making many fans of this draft. But while I do believe that this is a bit high for Marpet, I also believe that if the Giants want him, they are going to have to take him here. Physically, I think Marpet has all the tools to be a Pro-Bowl guard, But I think his mental make-up is what is going to force the pick.
Yes, Marpet is a Division III player. However he played D-III ball because as a 230-pound high school senior, he didn't receive any any football scholarship offers. Over his four years he has added 80 pounds to his frame, and it appears that precious little of it is fat. Despite being a D-III lineman, he has competed against higher competition at every opportunity. He competed in Senior Bowl practices, then the game itself, and finally at the Scouting Combine itself, and in each instance, he didn't just show that he belonged, he showed that he was as capable as any of them.
Marpet has been labeled a "draft riser" -- that is a player who rockets up draft boards after the games are finished -- but that isn't exactly true. While we only heard about him leading up to the Senior Bowl, NFL scouts have been buzzing about him since the spring of 2014 and last year's BLESTO conference.
Every scout and player who has watched Marpet has commented that he is technically sound, and he has shown himself to be tremendously athletic. But it is that will to compete, the drive to make himself better for the love of the game -- he was never on a scholarship at Hobart, and played because he loves football -- that I believe would appeal to the Giants.
Round 3 - 74th Overall
Cody Prewitt, FS, Ole Miss
Prewitt is a guy who has been in and out of my mock drafts all year long. That's because he fits the Giants so very well. He was a captain and leader of one of the most dangerous defenses in college the last two years, has the size the Giants prefer in their defensive players, is highly intelligent, and is one of the few natural free safeties in this draft.
His athleticism is a definite question, but factoring in a 4.47 pro-day 40, his measurables look eerily similiar to Kenny Phillips, a safety the Giants drafted for Spags' defense in 2008. He might not be able to hang in man coverage on a slot receiver, but I would trust him to play center field and quarterback the secondary.
Among Lance Zierlein's negatives on Prewitt is that he benefitted from aggressive corners and an aggressive, attacking defensive front. To me, that doesn't sound like a negative so much as it does experience playing in Steve Spagnuolo's defense.
If we're looking for a pro comparison, I keep coming back to Kenny Phillips, and I would absolutely take KP in the third round.
Round 4 - 108th Overall
Tyeler Davison, DT, Fresno State
It's time to address the defensive tackles. I've been a proponent of adding one for a long time, and Davison seems like a "Giants" DT for sure. Despite being 6-foot-2, Davison has 34-inch vines for arms, massive hands, and the power to be disruptive. Spags' defensive tackles tend to be quick, upfield penetrators, and Davison certainly is that, leading his defense in sacks from the nose tackle position with eight. However, he is absolutely a 3-technique at the next level.
Davison played 80 percent of Fresno St's defensive snaps, and his aggressive, down-hill style of play earned him the nickname "Rhino". Also, to like about him: A background in wrestling, so he has balance and knows how to win with his natural leverage. With a bit of polish, Davison could be one of the steals of the draft.
Round 5 - 144th Overall
Tre McBride, WR, William & Mary
What's better than one receiver who can make neigh-impossible catches look routine? Two of them. McBride has okay, but not great NFL size, adequate sized hands, and good athleticism, but what really sets him apart is his body control. McBride is competitive at the catch point, able to high point the ball, fight for it in traffic, and contort his body to make the catch, pretty much regardless of where the ball is in his catch radius.
He also has special teams upside as a kick returner.
Round 6 - 185th Overall
Mike Hull, MLB, Penn St.
Huzzah! A late-round linebacker!
I didn't rush to fill the linebacker position because I'm actually pretty okay with it right now. Devon Kennard is a stud, and I feel J.T. Thomas can be a free agency steal. Beason is Beason at this point. He will get the front seven iin position and at least give the defense what AP did in '07 and' 08, as long as he is healthy. I'm also fine with Herzlich and McClain as back-ups and situational players.
I'm not sure if Hull can ever start, but if he is protected by a stout defensive line, which the additions of Jay Bromley, Kenrick Ellis, Tyeler Davison, and George Selvie should give him, he should be able to come in and contribute on defense if necessary. Hull is undersized for a MIKE linebacker, but he is very smart, is solid in coverage, and definitely plays with "That Dawg". He is one of the few linebackers who consistently stacks and sheds blockers and if he gets beat on a play, he just comes back harder on the next play.
Round 7 - 226th Overall
Tyler Kroft, TE, Rutgers
The Giants don't seem to like prospects from Rutgers, but they have been linked to Kroft this draft season.
Kroft has the build to be a classic tight end, and the athleticism to let McAdoo move him around. He's a capable and competitive blocker who isn't content to just block a DE or linebacker, but to beat them, improving on Donnell's limitations, as well as a capable receiver who can eat up zones then turn upfield for yards after the catch. I wanted Busta Anderson here, but consistent injuries scared me away.
Round 7 - 245th Overall
John Crockett, RB, North Dakota State
When I conceived of this mock draft, I immediately knew how it was going to be book-ended. I knew Shane Ray was going to be my first pick (though I came very close to picking La'El Collins), and I knew Crockett -- nicknamed "Taz" by his teammates for his non-stop movement and relentless play -- would be my last pick. Crockett is a tough, competitive running back who is patient behind the line of scrimmage and explodes through the hole. Playing for the "Alabama" of the FCS, Crockett is used to holes, but he also shows good vision, and surprising agility for a bigger back. He's also a willing blocker and a capable receiver out of the backfield in a pro-style offense. With a year of development and acclimation to the jump in competition, Crockett could be an heir to Rashad Jennings.
Well there you have it, my final "Giants only" mock draft, and penultimate mock draft of the 2015 draft season. Now I'll turn it over to Big Blue View to tell me what I did wrong.