As we do every year, let's go through the New York Giants 2015 NFL rookie draft class and try and figure out the impact that they might have on the team. Last year, I wrote that Odell Beckham would be a big contributor, but just not "Offensive Rookie of the Year" material.
Yeah, that sort of gives you a sense of how accurate I am about these things. At the end, we'll even throw in my look at a possible 53-man roster. In May. Why not?
Pick: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami
Stat Line: 16 games started at right tackle, 6 sacks allowed, angry run blocker
Analysis: Pretty self-explanatory. I think the biggest surprise here is slotting him in at right tackle right from the start. That may be a bit of a surprise for people who think he's best suited initially as a left guard. After watching him at Miami, it's hard for me to imagine him playing anywhere other than tackle, but watching Greg Robinson start out at guard certainly shows it's a good way to go. Ultimately, I think once he gets better conditioned, his natural athleticism will shine and he'll show the coaching staff that he can play (and succeed) at tackle. I do think that Justin Pugh has a ceiling to be a tremendous guard, especially in a ZBS. If we're talking about playing the five best players in their best positions, I believe it will be: Beatty - Pugh - Richburg - Schwartz - Flowers. Each player has tremendous movement ability, even on the jumbo sized right side.
As far as the six sacks allowed, I do think he'll naturally have some issues in pass protection, especially when considering he's going to go up against the likes of Greg Hardy (if suspension is reduced), Preston Smith, Randy Gregory, and Connor Barwin. He will, however, move the crap out of players at the line of scrimmage and give Andre Williams some breathing room.
Pick: Landon Collins, SS, Alabama
Stat Line: 79 tackles, 2 INTs, 3 FF, 5 TFL, 1 sack, the occasional blown coverage.
Analysis: Many have labeled Collins as a box safety and while he did show good range in college, for his first year, I do think that's where the Giants are going to play him. I'm on record before Round 2 that I wouldn't want to trade up for Collins and the Giants did just that. Three cheers for him to make me eat my words in coming year. He'll be allowed to roam the intermediate zones in the middle of the field, and that will allow him to not only man up on tight ends and running backs, but also come down and blow up running plays. He will get a chance to play some deep middle, but most of those chances will likely be reserved for Nat Berhe or one of the other free safety prospects.
Collins has more missed tackles than I am comfortable with, but he plays with good technique and definitely seems coachable in that regard. Let him play in the box. That label has taken on a derogatory spin, but there's no reason for that. An elite box safety can be as disruptive as a rangy center fielder, so the hope is Colins can be that. The fact that he was already taking a leadership role in his first ever practice signals that a starting spot is not an opportunity for him, it is an inevitability.
Pick: Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE, UCLA
Stat Line: Zero starts, 160 snaps, 18 pressures, 2 sacks, 14 run stops
Analysis: Diggy could start for half the teams in this league from the start. I don't think he does for the Giants. He's going to be the LDE backup to Damontre Moore or Robert Ayers opposite Jason Pierre-Paul. He'll get his snaps, especially early when I think Ayers might still be convalescing from his injury. He can't bend as a pass rusher, but he's not a bender anyway, he's a speed to power freak and he's got the ability to collapse the edge with his strength and that should prove to be a huge asset against the run. That in itself will get him more playing time than Moore did as a young player early.
It may not be his time this year, but it will be hard to envision him without a starting spot by 2016. He just has to polish his all around game and his natural talent should shine through.
Pick: Mykkele Thompson, FS, Texas
Stat Line: Zero starts, 9 tackles (special teams), special teams starter on kick and punt coverage
Analysis: It's very possible that Thompson could win the free safety job. Nat Berhe seems to be the only one that's blocking his path, but both are essentially on an even footing. For right now, it seems like Berhe will be the one to win it. If that's the case, Thompson likely battles Cooper Taylor for snaps in Buffalo Nickel formations. Otherwise, he's depth. I do think his H/W/S make him an ideal special teams building block on coverage duties. That's where he'll make most of his impact in his rookie season.
Pick: Geremy Davis, WR, UConn
Stat Line: 3 catches, 49 yards, 0 TDs. 4 Tackles.
Analysis: Much like fifth-rounder Mykkele Thompson, Davis seems like a core special teamer at this stage of his career. Let him play as a gunner, using his long frame and good deep speed to cover ground on kickoffs and punts. This is how he could make the team. I can see him getting in red zone packages as well as a big body and pick up a few catches here and there, similar to Corey Washington's role last season as a big possession receiver.
Pick: Bobby Hart, OG, Florida State
Stat Line: 0 games played
Analysis: Unfortunately, I'm not sure I see Bobby Hart making the team this year. I think it'll be a three way race between Brandon Mosley, Hart, and Eric Herman for that final OL spot on the roster as depth. Hart could take the time in the practice squad to get better conditioned and get more reps as a guard. He's one of the youngest players on the roster right now, so there is time there to develop down the road.
IXI's absurdly-early 53-man roster
Asterisk (*) denotes starter
QB: Manning*, Nassib (2)
RB: Jennings*, Williams, Vereen, Darkwa (4)
FB: Hynoski* (1)
WR: Beckham*, Cruz*, Randle, Harris, Harris, Davis (6)
TE: Donnell*, Fells, LaCosse (3)
OT: Beatty*, Flowers*, Newhouse (3)
OG: Pugh*, Schwartz*, Jerry, Mosley (4)
OC: Richburg*, Jones (2)
DE: Pierre-Paul*, Ayers*, Moore, Odighizuwa, Selvie (5)