With the 2016 NFL Draft just days away, let's take a crack at a six-round mock draft for the New York Giants using the "Fanspeak" mock draft simulator. For the sake of consistency the CBS Sports draft board will be used, since that was what was used on other occasions when I did one of these for the Giants.
Round 1 (No. 10) -- DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
I made this pick, and I have to be honest here. I'm still stunned by it. Buckner is a player who was often mocked to the Giants early in the run-up to the draft, but hasn't been more than a blip on the radar screen lately. In this simulation, however, UCLA linebacker Myles Jack was already off the board, somehow Buckner was still there, and I jumped.
Giants General Manager Jerry Reese said during his pre-draft press conference that "you never know what's going to happen" in the draft and that "We always thought that there were a couple of players up top that would push some players down to us and give us more players to pick from."
Buckner qualifies as one of those players who unexpectedly gets pushed down in this simulation. He is No. 6 on our Consensus Big Board, ranked No. 7 overall by Dane Brugler of CBS Sports in his draft guide (the No. 2 defensive end behind Joey Bosa).
Pro Football Focus is bullish on Buckner's ability to be a force in any defensive front:
Buckner is a player that can fit in any defensive front and make a huge impact inside, and brings with him the versatility to move around and cause problems. He has consistently proven to be more disruptive than people expect him to be when you tally up all of the plays he makes, and he is one of the very best players in this draft.
Is he a perfect 4-3 defensive end? Probably not. He is most often compared to Calais Campbell of the Arizona Cardinals and considered ideal for a 3-4 defensive end. Most reports indicate that he is "scheme-versatile to play multiple positions in both even and odd fronts." The only thing he doesn't offer as a 4-3 defensive end might be the ability to be a speed rusher off the edge. Not that he couldn't apply pressure, but it wouldn't come from pure speed.
Early in the draft process we asked a variety of evaluators about Buckner's fit in a 4-3, and opinions were split.
Who did I pass on?
I will admit I was influenced here by former NFL executive Louis Riddick, who said earlier in the week that "I just don't see there being any way that they go any other way than a defensive player there." Riddick added he thought that pick would be an edge player.
With that in mind, with the options I had, the pick was between Buckner and Floyd. Buckner is the higher-rated player, so that's the way I went. Others still on teh board included offensive tackles Ronnie Stanley and Jack Conklin, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, and linebacker Darron Lee.
Yes, I passed on an offensive tackle.
Round 2 (No. 40) -- Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
The fact that I passed on an offensive tackle in Round 1 doesn't mean I have changed my belief that the Giants need to come out of this draft, or at least this offseason, adding someone who can compete with Marshall Newhouse at right tackle. Having gone a different direction at No. 10 I felt fortunate that one of the top-tier tackles was still on the board at 40, and had no hesitation selecting Spriggs here.
Brugler has Spriggs, 6-foot-5, 301 pounds, as the fifth-ranked tackle in the 2016 NFL Draft class. Brugler writes:
"It’s tough to find negative plays on his film in pass protection due to his body control and awareness for the position, showing a strong understanding of his responsibilities to get the job done. Although he’s likely not ready to start in the NFL as a rookie, Spriggs has the overall ability and talent to develop into a swing tackle – second round prospect who might be drafted in the top-25 due to his athletic potential."
In its draft guide, Pro Football Focus says:
There is a lot to like in Spriggs’ game, and there may not be a better frame to work with in the draft. However there is still more projection than finished project at this point. If he can clean up some technical issues he’ll be an above average tackle.
Maybe Spriggs isn't a Day 1 starter, but I'm banking on the long-term potential.
Who did I pass on?
Wide receivers Josh Doctson, Michael Thomas, Will Fuller, and Tyler Boyd, offensive tackle Germain Ifedi, safeties Vonn Bell and Karl Joseph.
Round 3 (No. 71) -- Deion Jones, OLB, LSU
Here, quite honestly, is another pick I did not expect to make. He is just a shade over 6-feet tall and only 222 pounds -- he doesn't fit the traditional size/weight measurables the Giants like in their linebackers. In all honestly, though, I wasn't crazy about the other choices on the board at this point and felt that adding an athletic run-and-chase linebacker with the potential to be a sideline-to-sideline play-maker would be a good fit.
"Jones is the kind of rangy, athletic linebacker who excels in coverage that the Giants have needed for some time. Their defense has been burned by receiving backs out of the backfield and tight ends over the middle for far, far too long. Steve Spagnuolo wanted to be more aggressive and blitz more than they did in 2015, however the Giants lacked the athleticism to get pressure quickly and to keep quarterbacks from dissecting the defense with quick passes. Adding a player like Jones could help alleviate that problem."
There is also this. Both Jonathan Casillas and J.T. Thomas could be in their final seasons with the Giants. Thus, there is a need to develop a player who can take over at the WILL position.
Who did I pass on?
Running backs Devontae Booker and Kenneth Dixon, defensive back Jalen Mills, wide receiver Braxton Miller.
Round 4 (No. 109) -- Kenny Lawler, WR, Cal
Finally, the wide receiver I know many of you crave for the Giants. This was a straight-up choice between Lawler and Leonte Carroo of Rutgers, a 50-50 ball if you will, and I went with Lawler.
Lawler is a 6-2, 203-pound receiver and the question is whether or not he will be strong enough to handle the physicality of NFL corners. Here is Rob Rang of CBS Sports:
If he can handle the jump in physicality, Lawler has the ball-skills to be a star. There are few receivers in the 2016 draft who can match his highlights. The list of thin receivers with limited top-end speed starring in the NFL, however, is a short one, giving scouts reason to be cautious.
By this point in the draft there are no players without flaws. Should I have gone with Carroo? Let's see how their NFL careers turn out. At least, though, this pick adds an option to the wide receiver corps.
Round 5 (No. 149) -- Eric Murray, CB, Minnesota
One of my most fervent beliefs in roster building is that you can never have enough quality cornerbacks. Can Murray be one? I don't really know, but I do know the Giants don't have enough corners right now and supplementing that group is a good idea.
Murray, 5-10, 199 pounds gets a mid-round grade from Brugler, who sees Murray as a player who could eventually contribute as a nickel corner. That, coincidentally, is something the Giants could use. Here is part of what Brugler wrote about Murray:
"Although he lacks ideal size, Murray is a suffocating man-to-man cover corner with the mentality of a safety, which is his calling card, competing with aggressive confidence. He is feisty vs. the run, but his physical approach leads to penalties downfield in coverage, lacking the savvy or discipline to use his hands without attracting flags. Murray will be a liability until he figures out how to harness his aggressiveness, but he can carve out a role on special teams while fighting for playing time, likely as a hard-nosed nickel corner."
Who did I pass on?
Safeties Justin Simmons and Kevin Byard. I really like Simmons, but I felt that with Nat Berhe, Bennett Jackson, and Mykkele Thompson there were enough acceptable options there, and that adding a corner was a higher priority than adding another safety to the competition.
Round 6 (No. 184) -- Joe Thuney, OL, N.C. State
If you have been a Big Blue View reader for a while, you understand that I have an affinity for drafting offensive linemen. In this case, I'm following an old George Young belief that when you were in doubt late in the draft grabbing a big elephant for the offensive line was never a bad idea.
Why Thuney? This is a player with experience at all five offensive line spots, and that can be incredibly valuable in the NFL where roster spots are limited and injuries are unavoidable. He's likely best-suited to guard, but to have a reserve lineman who, in an emergency, can fill in anywhere across the line is a luxury. Brugler writes:
"Three-year starter at multiple positions, Thuney bounced around the offensive line depending on where his team needed him the most, practicing both his left and right hand stances at tackle and guard – was also the back-up on the depth chart at center. Hardworking and humble, he takes pride in his versatility and alertness to be ready for anything, showcasing his talent on and off the field as an Academic All-ACC performer and semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy (Academic Heisman). Thuney shows adequate movement skills and pays attention to his technique, but his lack of core strength and poor hand placement are concerns for the next level – offers position flex, but does his best work in a tight squares, ideally fitting inside at guard or center for a zone-blocking scheme."
Who did I pass on?
Notably, Stony Brook outside linebacker Victor Ochi and Georgia running back Keith Marshall.