Sometimes it almost seems as though if you blink you’ll miss the college football season. Week 10 is already upon us, and as it so happens, a game at which we know the Giants had credentialed scouts has already been played.
So why am I wasting time on an introduction?
Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh (10/27/16, 7 p.m. ET)
There are a couple players on either team that could pique the Giants’ interest. We’ll start with a name that should be familiar by now, Pittsburgh offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty. The Giants tried several times to get an established offensive tackle to replace Marshall Newhouse at right tackle, only to have those free agents opt to go elsewhere — and Eugene Monroe retired. The Giants were also reportedly very high on Michigan State OT Jack Conklin, only to have the Tennessee Titans swoop in and draft him ahead of the Giants. Bisnowaty is an athletic and hardnosed tackle who is a capable pass protector and run blocker. On the other side of the ball is EDGE rusher Ejuan Price. Price has had significant injury concerns, missing two years to injury, but he has been very productive since returning to the field in 2015. Last year he notched 11.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for a loss, this year he has already totaled 11 sacks, 9 QB hits, and 20 hurries. At 5-foot-11, 250 pounds he has drawn comparisons to Elvis Dumervil in his productivity, measurements, and ability to fire off the edge and bend the corner.
If the Giants are seriously considering drafting a quarterback to potentially groom as Eli Manning’s successor, Virginia Tech’s quarterback Jerod Evans might be a good place to start. The big, athletic junior has drawn comparisons to Cam Newton, perhaps because of plays like this:
#UNSTOPPABLE— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) September 24, 2016
WATCH this insane run by Jerod Evans...
@VT_Fooball @rodfor6_ #Hokies pic.twitter.com/DVAqHMkpTA
Evans would need polishing to be a true NFL quarterback, but the raw physical tools are there. Also on the VT offense is tight end Bucky Hodges. The 6-7, 250-pound Hodges might be the most athletic pure tight end in the draft, if not the country. He has the size, strength, and speed to be a nightmare receiving mismatch. He also isn’t afraid to go over the middle and has the vision to be a threat to create yards after the catch. He needs to work on his blocking technique and route running at the next level, and his NFL success will likely be determined by how hard he is willing to work to perfect his craft.
Miami at Notre Dame (Today, 3:30 p.m., NBC)
Once again, a pair of talented quarterbacks will be on display in this game. Brad Kaaya is an accurate and fearless passer who has started for the Hurricanes since his freshman year. Unfortunately he has only seen the team deteriorate around him, losing talented players to the NFL which the previous regime didn’t recruit well enough to replace. Personally, I’m a fan of Kaaya’s, but there are some who call him “Teddy Bridgewater 2.0” because of his pedestrian arm strength.
Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer is regarded as one of the contenders for the top QB in the draft. He hasn’t played well of late, but his ability to play within the pocket in a Pro Style offense is attractive. As is his athleticism to make plays outside of the pocket and his impressive arm strength. As a red-shirt sophomore I’d like to see him go back to school for at least one more year (I prefer quarterbacks to come out as seniors), but if he gets tired of Bryan Kelly and the draft advisory board gives him a good report, he could bolt for the NFL. Unlike Kaaya, Kizer has a pair of very talented linemen in front of him. Left tackle Mike McGlinchey is a big, strong, athletic and nasty lineman, somewhat in the mold of Conklin. He played right tackle for the Irish with Ronnie Stanley at left tackle, but has moved to left tackle and continued to excel. McGlinchey has said that he intends to stay in school, but there is still time for him to change his mind, so it makes sense to keep an eye on him. Likewise, guard Quenton Nelson is big, strong, and physical. He is not only a mauler in the run game, but he is also an athletic pass protector.
Clemson at Florida State (8 p.m., ABC)
We already know that at least one Giants scout believes that Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams isn’t just the best receiver in the country, but his blend of size (6-3, 220), athleticism, body control, and hands could be playing on Sundays right now. QB Deshaun Watson’s inaccuracy with the deep ball has prevented Williams from showing his entire skillset, but he is the top receiver in the country. It might seem like an over-allocation of resources, but the potential of pairing Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard with a player in the mold of Julio Jones, Demaryius Thomas, or Dez Bryant could be appealing for the Giants. On the other side of the ball, pay attention to Clemson linebacker number 10, Ben Boulware. He’s easy to find, just keep your eyes on the ball, and he’ll be there. Boulware doesn’t look like an elite athlete, but he has outstanding instincts, flowing to the play almost immediately. If you like defensive football, he is fun to watch.
On the FSU side of things, the obvious player to watch is running back Dalvin Cook. There is a serious debate as to whether Cook or Leonard Fournette are the best back in the draft. Cook can’t compete with Fournette’s raw physical skills, but Cook has the ability to explode through the line of scrimmage and break the game open any time he has the ball in his hands. On the defensive side of things, defensive end Demarcus Walker is an interesting prospect. He has been projected everywhere from the first round to the third, largely because of his unconventional build. at 6-3, 280 pounds he isn’t built like a typical 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 lineman. He has, however, been a force for the Seminoles with 8.5 sacks (4.5 in the first game), 10 tackles for a loss, and 3 forced fumbles so far this season. He uses his natural leverage well, playing behind his pads and bullying tackles, but his draft stock could depend heavily on his combine performance if the NFL isn’t sure what to do with him.
After their win in London over the Los Angeles Rams, the Giants are drafting at 20th overall. As per usual, I’ll be using the CBS Sports Big Board to make my selections, taking players ranked within five positions of the Giants’ draft spot (unless I decide to “reach” down the board, which I’ll specify and explain).
Round 1 - 20th Overall
Mike Williams (WR, Clemson) - He’s sitting there at “20”... I’ve denied myself this pick for weeks now, and I just can’t not make it any longer. The Giants have other needs, and barring something bad happening, Williams won’t be available this late in the first. But damn it, if he’s there, I just can’t not make the pick. Williams has impressive body control for a bigger receiver and the size/speed combination the Giants lack in their receiving corps now. The combination of Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and Mike Williams is a massive amount of resources for the receiver position, but the only secondary meeting room in the league that wouldn’t be handing out diapers for film study would be the Giants’.
Sling that ball Eli!
Round 2 - 52nd Overall
Taco Charlton (DE, Michigan) - He’s 6-6- 280 pounds, with long arms, a good first step and a strength to stand up in the run game ... That sounds like a Giants defensive end to me. Charlton played fewer than 50 percent of Michigan’s defensive snaps in 2015 but was productive, notching 33 pressures and 5.5 sacks. He has an inconsistent first step, but shows good explosion and an impressive ability to dip and bend his big body around the corner. This is a bit of a reach according to the board, but most of the prospects rated around 52nd overall were pass catchers, and I wanted to add to the Giants’ pass rush and DL rotation.
Also, his name is name is Taco, and tacos are always a good choice.
Round 3 - 84th Overall
Taylor Moton (OL, Western Michigan) - Moton played right guard in 2015, but moved out to right tackle in 2016 and has looked like he could hang there at the next level. He is an absolute snowplow in the run game, bulling unprepared defenders off the line of scrimmage and shows surprisingly quick feet in pass protection. At 6-5, 328 he could stand to lose a bit of weight to deal with the speed of NFL defenses. He could probably play either RG or RT for the Giants giving them options on the line going forward.
Round 4 - 116th Overall
Jerod Evans (QB, Virginia Tech) - I’ll be honest, I expect that Evans would go earlier than this if he declares -- athleticism and potential get drafted on the first two days. However, this draft is stacked with talent at other positions like running back, EDGE, tight end, cornerback, and safety. That could force some QB’s down the list. The Giants will have to find a backup to replace Ryan Nassib, who is a free agent this year, that they might want to try to develop as their next starter. Evans has the upside to potentially be a starting quarterback, and perhaps his lack of NFL polish will have teams overlooking him.
What games, and which players, are you going to be watching today?