The 2015 NFL Draft is now in the books, and what better time to play Monday Morning Quarterback and second guess the Giants than immediately. The fun of the NFL Draft is to watch it as it unfolds and pretend you're the general manager making the selections for the Giants on the clock, and that's exactly what I did. I made the picks for the Giants in real-time and this is an approach the Giants could have taken. (This should be obvious, but clearly they are a four-time Super Bowl winning franchise, while I'm a guy eating potato chips in his underwear on draft weekend with no access to medicals and character, and most importantly no ramifications to fulfill my every whimsy. I'm not downplaying or minimizing all of the hard work the scouts and front office does throughout the year, this is purely for my own personal satisfaction and enjoyment, and maybe ours, too).
Round 1 -- Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Now in the pursuit of transparency by the time the draft had rolled around I was on board with the Ereck Flowers pick, there is a lot to like about the pick -- he's young, he's tough, and most importantly he's big and athletic. He was productive at Miami and I think he'll be a good NFL pro. Plus, after I made Flowers the pick for the Giants in my final mock draft I was hoping to be right, so I'm glad they picked him.
With all that being said, the Giants running backs are average at best. Shane Vereen is a nice change of pace back, but Rashad Jennings is a 30-year-old journeyman who has never had 1,000 yards rushing in a season and Andre Williams was one of the least impressive and least productive rookies in NFL history. Maybe he will be much better this year, but half the running game was the line's fault last year and the other half is how ordinary the Giants running backs are. Gurley is a top 5 talent in the class, and maybe the top player. This is assuming the medical checked out, of course, which I don't have access to, but this is reminiscent to me of when the Cardinals bypassed Adrian Peterson to select Levi Brown because it fit a bigger need. Brown played for the Cardinals for six years before being unceremoniously traded to the Steelers, while Peterson went onto win an MVP award and be one of the league's best players, a Hall of Fame talent. Gurley might be the best player in this draft in a few years (assuming the knee is healthy and he stays healthy) and while I hope Flowers is an eventual All-Pro at tackle I'm not as confident he can be.
I know the myth that running backs are devalued in the NFL, but I don't buy that good running backs need a good offensive line. The Eagles had one of the most banged up lines in the league last year and LeSean Mccoy ran for 1,300 yards. Le'Veon Bell looked like an All-Pro behind the Steelers pedestrian offensive line (while the guys who filled in for him made the Steeles line look like a sieve). Watch the difference between Arian Foster and his back-ups. Even on a much lesser scale Rashad Jennings vs Andre Williams. Running backs who you want to get 8-12 touches a game, move the chains once in a while and e competent pass protectors ARE a dime a dozen and can be found with regularity late in the draft, but running backs who dictate the action and create yardage are not. Gurley can be one of those few (the Lynchs, McCoys, Fosters, Petersons of the league are found early in the draft, not late). I'm in the minority, but that's okay by me.
Round 2 -- Landon Collins, S, Alabama
When the second round started I was hoping that the Giants would have Landon Collins fall into their lap. After they traded up I couldn't imagine a pick I'd rather have than Collins. Either way, I think it was the right move. In the box safety, yadda yadda. People act like those kinds of players can't make a difference. Bob Sanders, Kam Chancellor, and Troy Polamalu are all in the box safety types, too. Will Collins be that good? I don't know, but I do know that the Giants run defense was terrible last year and Collins is part of the solution to that. He had more than 100 tackles from the safety position last year in Alabama, he's a missile when the opponent has the ball and he not only makes the sure tackle he makes very hard open field tackles as well. I don't know if he's the league's next best safety, but I think he's close to bust proof as can be. I like the pick a lot and it's the one I would have made (because I have assumed the Giants front office/ownership would not take the risk on Randy Gregory). Also, had they stayed at 40 they would have missed out on Preston Smith and Eddie Goldman two other top targets for them, I would imagine, entering Round 2.
Round 3 -- T.J. Clemmings, OL, Pittsburgh
I also considered Danielle Hunter here heavily as well as offensive linemen Daryl Williams out of Oklahoma. But Clemmings was a guy who was talked about as a potential top 10 pick before the Senior Bowl and then a bad week of practice make him drop like a stone. He is raw and has only been playing the position for awhile, but everything out there about him makes him seem like a hard working guy and I think he'll eventually figure it out. I also think he has a good shot to start immediately and if not could be a real developmental offensive line prospect, one with better chance of success then many of the other mid-round guys the Giants have taken lately because he doesn't lack desire, or athletic ability, just coaching and time.
Round 4 -- Had the Giants not traded the pick they could have taken a safety like Josh Shaw or Adrian Amos or a defensive tackle like Grady Jarrett (a pick I'd like), but they did and I don't think they'll regret it. And I didn't actually make a real-time pick here because they weren't on the clock.
Round 5 -- La'el Collins, OL, LSU
From now until the end of the draft the answer is La'el Collins every single time. The success rate of a Day 3 pick is minimal I think the likelihood that Collins on nearly the eve of being drafted went homicidal is also very minimal. Not impossible, but burn the pick (that likely won't do anything, anyway) because Collins likelihood of succeeding in the NFL at a high level is probably about 50 percent (the rate which first-round picks succeed). But as I said in the initial disclaimer, I am not held accountable for any repercussions if Collins actually was involved in the murder of an ex-girlfriend. This is betting with other people's money, and it's easy to do from here.
Round 6 -- Derron Smith, FS, Fresno State
The Giants need corneback depth very badly and Charles Gaines has starting potential I believe so he would have been hard to pass up. I also would have considered Florida State tight end Nick O'Leary but I'd have had to discuss that with my scouts. In the end though Smith comes in and competes for a starting job. This is a guy I thought before the draft might get picked in the third-round area, but because he's short he didn't get drafted where is talent dictates. I think there'll be a number of teams who regret passing on Smith.
Round 7 -- Ifo Ekpre Olomu, CB, Oregon
The Giants need cornerback depth, and I'm really surprised they didn't come out with one in the draft because not only is it a need but it was also a deep cornerback class and the Giants always draft cornerbacks. Maybe they consider Thompson a cornerback, too. The biggest surprise in the draft for me that the Giants didn't address cornerback or defensive tackle. The Giants could use the undersized Olomu who could cover the slot for them and back up Trumaine McBride (unless he doesn't make it back at all for the 2015 season), but the Giants have the guys on the outside and could have used the speedy, dynamic Olomu to help.
|Giants' Picks||My Picks|
|Round 1||Ereck Flowers, OL, Miami||Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia|
|Round 2||Landon Collins, S, Alabama||Landon Collins, S, Alabama|
|Round 3||Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE, UCLA||T.J. Clemmings, OL, Pittsburgh|
|Round 5||Mykkele Thompson, S, Texas||La'el Collins, OL, LSU|
|Round 6||Geremy Davis, WR, UConn||Derron Smith, S, Fresno State|
|Round 7||Bobby Hart, OL, FSU||Ifo Ekpre Olomu, CB, Oregon|
I think the Giants addressed their primary needs more effectively than I did in the first three rounds and the first three picks they made were excellent. I think overall the player values they could have gotten could have been better in each round of the third day, but it's Day 3 so you just take guys you think have a realistic shot to make it with your team. They also, I don't think, thought of running back as I need whereas I think it's the teams' most understated need. My draft, though, doesn't address the defensive line at all and relies on the free-agent signing of Kenrick Ellis to pay big dividends and for Damonster to come alive this year.
Until next year, when the draft rolls around!