Good morning New York Giants fans, and a happy Saturday to you as well.
Provided you didn't watch Friday night's game between USC and Colorado, we're here to kick off your football weekend with your Saturday slate of college games.
Games To Watch
This week there aren't any games that are likely to have major implications for the College Football Playoffs, so we're going to concentrate on where the Giants scouts are this week.
Arkansas at LSU (ESPN, 7:15 p.m. ET) -- The SEC showdown technically comes first -- although you will still have to wait all day to see both of these games -- so we're going to start there. The focus will obviously be on LSU, given the Giants' penchant for drafting Tigers. However Arkansas has a couple prospects worth watching in tight end Hunter Henry and massive left guard Sebastian Tretola. Henry is considered one of the top tight ends in this draft class, and could develop into a solid option at the next level. Tretola is a massive (6-5, 335) brute of a guard, who does have some movement skills.
Over on the LSU sideline, there are a bunch of prospects to watch. Starting on the offensive side of the ball, Vadal Alexander is likely the top guard in this class, and has played both right tackle and left guard. He is naturally big and strong, but has impressive movement skills to get to the second level. Travin Dural's name has come up a lot as well. He has good length at 6-foot-2 and the speed to take the top off of a defense, but he is a bit thin at 190 pounds. If the Giants don't re-sign Rueben Randle (or replace him in free agency), Dural could be an early-mid round option to flesh out the receiving corps.
On the defensive side of things, the Tigers have a pair of defensive backs and a pair of linebackers to pay attention to. First in the secondary, Tre'Davious White is a quick-footed and fluid corner with a habit of breaking up passes. Behind him is free safety Jalen Mills. Mills is rangy and athletic, with a good understanding of route concepts in coverage. Even better, he is reportedly regarded by his teammates as an extra coach on the field.
Outside linebacker Deion Jones is one of the more "below-the-radar" players in college football, but he might just have a bright future as a "WILL" in the NFL. Jones hits the hat trick of being an athletic, active, and instinctive linebacker who never has to come off the field. He isn't afraid to stick his nose in the run game but is strong enough in coverage to line up as a corner on some plays. Next to him is 6-2, 250-pound MLB Kendell Beckwith. Beckwith's trademark is his physicality in the run game and has a natural feel for timing his blitzes. He has a reputation as a smart player and is considered to be the leader of the LSU defense. If the Giants pass on Reggie Ragland in the first (or he isn't available), Beckwith would make for an intriguing option in the second round.
Oklahoma at Baylor (ABC, 8 p.m.) -- This is the one game on Saturday that could have distinct implications in the college post season. It is also the second week in a row that the Giants have had credentialed scouts at a Baylor game, so we're going to concentrate on that squad.
For a team that badly needs help on the defensive side of the ball to be following a team that doesn't really play defense, in a conference that doesn't really play defense, is interesting. There must be a player, or players, at Baylor that the Giants are intrigued with.
In all likelihood those players are Shawn Oakman and Andrew Billings. Both of these guys have traits that the Giants have been attracted to in the past, so let's take a closer look. Billings is the Baylor nose tackle, though he will likely play 3-technique in the pros. The Giants like their linemen to be "strong like tractor", and Billings certainly qualifies. He broke a 22-year-old high school weight lifting record with a combined lift of 2,010 pounds (805 squat, 500 bench press, 705 dead lift), and is now reported to have a Clean of more than 400 pounds. That's "strong" folks.
Oakman is the 6-9, 280-pound athletic freak defensive end you've heard about. Despite his size he is remarkably athletic, and plays with a high motor in pursuit. The problem with Oakman is that he isn't dominating every play against every offensive tackle he goes against, because with his length, athleticism, and raw power, he should be. Scouts will need to find out what his work ethic is like, whether or not he is constrained by the defensive scheme, how coachable he is, and whether or not he takes plays off. Oakman has truly rare athletic tools, and if he can unleash them with proper technique, he could be the next J.J. Watt.
Or he could be the next Vernon Gholston.
With the 21st Overall Pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, the New York Giants select ...
Shaq Lawson, Defensive End, Clemson
The Giants normally like their defensive ends be in the 6-4 to 6-6 range and have long arms. Guys like Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Damontre Moore. The length is an advantage that, along with their quickness, lets them get their hands on offensive tackles first and quickly win.
Lawson is a bit different breed. He is more compactly built, but he combines natural leverage with power and athleticism into a package that is difficult for offensive tackles to stop while also holding up well in the run game. He reminds a bit of former Gamecock -- and current Charger -- Melvin Ingram in that way, though Lawson is a bit bigger. He can win with speed or power, and also has a spin move reminiscent of Nikita Whitlock's
The Giants need help on the edge, particularly if they decide against re-signing Robert Ayers. Shaq Lawson could be that guy.