The football weekend has been upended by Hurricane Matthew, with several games postponed or moved.
If it weren’t for the deadly serious nature of the storm, I’d probably make a bad joke about how Matthew is being rude or should be more considerate.
But what is rude is that for the second week in a row the folks at NFL.com’s College Football 24/7 don’t have any info on which games the New York Giants are officially attending. Perhaps they were scheduled to attend either Florida vs. LSU or Georgia vs. South Carolina, but both games have been postponed.
So once again we’re left to our own devices to decide what games to watch.
Tennessee at Texas A&M (3:30 p.m., CBS)
We know the Giants were at one Tennessee game, and defensive end Derek Barnett could pique their interest. So too could massive yet nimble running back Jalen Hurd or athletic outside linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin.
But for the Giants Texas A&M has a pair of prospects to watch. First is offensive tackle Avery Gennesy, who shows solid footwork and good strength. The other is THE prospect of the game, defensive end Myles Garrett. There are only two prospects for whom I would feel comfortable advocating the Giants trade up. The first is Michigan’s Jabril Peppers, who is being called a bigger, more explosive Tyrann Matheiu. The other is Myles Garrett. They hype train for Garrett has been rolling for nearly two and a half years now, and he largely lives up to it.
Garrett has shown an explosiveness and knack for making plays behind the line of scrimmage that has drawn comparisons to such defensive players as Julius Peppers, Von Miller, Khalil Mack, and Jadeveon Clowney. The Giants might have spent a lot of money on their defensive line, but as solid and well rounded as their starters are, they lack a player who can get pressure quickly. Garrett is nearly as athletic as Clowney while being a much more polished football player. If he can truly live up to his NFL comparisons, a player like Garrett is one of the few non-quarterback options truly worth a trade up.
Virginia Tech at North Carolina (3:30pm, ESPN2/ABC)
It’s usually a good game when top-25 teams square off, and there are usually more than a few NFL prospects to keep an eye on. This game is no different. On Virginia Tech sideline, tight end Bucky Hodges and wide receiver Isaiah Ford. Hodges is a big, athletic former quarterback who can be dangerous with the ball in his hands. But like the Giants’ own QB turned TE, he is more of an industrial sized receiver and blocks like one. Ford is a quick and savvy receiver who makes up for his lack of elite measureables with agility, quickness, body control and versatility.
For North Carolina, running back Elijah Hood is yet another talented back in a remarkably deep class, and offensive tackle John Heck could be an intriguing mid-round prospect.
But for this game the focus should be the two quarterbacks. The Giants played Quarterback Roulette all spring and summer, looking for quarterbacks to push Ryan Nassib, possibly take over for him after this year, and potentially be a successor to Eli Manning. It makes sense to look at a game with two quarterbacks worth watching.
North Carolina signal caller Mitch Trubisky is an NFL prototype with good size, plenty of arm strength, quick processing, sound decision making, and enough athleticism. He is only a red-shirt junior, but his strong season (so far) has captured the attention of NFL scouts and some are calling him a potential first round pick in the 2017 draft.
Long time NFL scout, and friend to Big Blue View, Dave’Te Thomas gave us a heads up regarding Virginia Tech quarterback Jerod Evans, calling him a “Super Stud” and a “Cam Newton Clone”. That is high praise and an impressive comparison, and if it pans out, he could be an interesting fit with Ben McAdoo’s offense. Considering the Giants took their longest look at former Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas — another physical specimen who was compared to Newton.
Florida State at Miami (8:00, ABC)
Despite Hurricane Matthew battering much of Florida, the game between FSU and Miami is still on. As usual, Florida State is replete with NFL prospects. Rather than list them all, I’ll just say “Watch everyone, especially Dalvin Cook.” FSU’s running back is generally considered the No. 2 back in the draft, just behind LSU’s Leonard Fournette. He doesn’t have Fournette’s dominating physical abilities, but his explosiveness is second to none — well, maybe Christian McCaffery.
For Miami, QB Brad Kaaya is the story. Kaaya started out as a promising freshman starter and has only grown in his time at The U, despite coaching and recruiting struggles. This year he has quietly guided Miami to a Top-10 ranking in Mark Richt’s first year as head coach. Kaaya is a polarizing prospect but has all the tools you look for in an NFL quarterback. He has the size at 6’4”, 210, enough arm strength, accuracy, a quick release, and the ability to find and attack mismatches in the defense. He still has eligibility left, and Richt would certainly like to see him back in Miami for his senior season, but the NFL could be clamoring for Kaaya’s services after this season too.
I’m making a slight change this week: The Giants’ actual draft position, if the season ended today, would be 19th overall. I’ll use that for my four round mini mock, and as usual I will be using the CBSsports Big Board for my picks. I’ll be going +/- 5 spots from where the Giants pick, unless I decide to “reach”. So, for the Giants’ first pick I will be limiting myself to prospects ranked from 14th - 24th on the CBS Big Board.
First Round - 19th Overall
Jamal Adams (S, LSU) - Once again CBS taunts me by putting Clemson receiver (and my top receiver) Mike Williams right there for me to pick, but I won’t let myself do it. Despite all the talent at the top of this draft, I would be surprised if Williams falls out of the top-10 once all is said and done. If he compares as closely to Julio Jones as I think he might, he won’t drop. But on to the guy I ACTUALLY picked. The Giants drafted a pair of defensive backs highly last year, but I’m making this pick anyway. Somehow the Giants always seem to manage to go through about two full depth charts worth of safeties and corners over the course of a season, so it makes sense to stock up.
Adams is big safety, but he can play anywhere in the back-7, from strong safety, to free safety, to slot corner. That versatility will help him fill in where needed in the event of injury and work his way onto the field immediately. He is also a blast to watch; a natural playmaker who plays a highly aggressive brand of football, but is never out of control. I could have gone offensive line or front 7 here, but an athletic, versatile playmaking, and high character DB is always high on the Giants’ radar.
Second Round - 51st Overall
Adam Bisnowaty (OT, Pittsburgh) - Look at that, my patience is rewarded.
At the very fringe of my range is a tackle I was considering “reaching” for in the first round. Bisnowaty is another player who has caught Dave’Te Thomas’ eye. Tough-minded and athletic, the Pittsburgh OT very well could be a first rounder, but he looks like a Giants’ tackle. Bobby Hart has played better at RT than many thought he could, but his best position could still be inside at right guard once John Jerry’s time with the Giants is over. Drafting Bisnowaty gives the Giants a formidable offensive front with youth, athleticism, and a mean streak all across the board.
Third Round - 83rd Overall
Chris Wormley (DT, Michigan) - Not thrilled with my choices here. I would have liked to draft OLB Devonte Fields from Louisville, but he was just outside of my range at 77th, and John Mara issued an edict against players with character red flags. While Fields’ problems happened with TCU and he seems to have kept his nose clean since, it might be enough to keep the Giants away — even though they do need a fast EDGE player. I also considered TE Jordan Leggett from Clemson, but I want to see if they re-sign Will Johnson and how Will Tye and Jerrell Adams develop over the course of the year.
Wormley is my best choice here. Long and quick, Wormley is a disruptive defensive tackle, something the Giants don’t seem to have. The Giants seem to favor massive, wide-bodied DT’s to dominate the line of scrimmage and let their blitzers disrupt. They might not like the leaner, more athletic Wormley, but he might also help them improve their 4-man pass rush.
Fourth Round - 115th Overall
Takkarist McKinley (DE, UCLA) - The Giants have one athletic defensive end from UCLA, why not two? McKinley said that he aims to be the top pass rusher in the country, and while that crown is going to be hard to wrest from Myles Garrett, he’s welcome to try. McKinley is adept at defending both the run and the pass, and appeared in Bruce Feldman’s annual “Freaks List”. McKinley ran track in high school, where he was roughly a second off the world-record time in the 100 meter dash, and reportedly still has that speed despite being up to 260 pounds.
I’ll be honest though, I’m still tempted to trade up in the first round for Myles Garrett. 4.45 speed and a 40” vertical on a 20 year old, 262 pound DE who is the reigning leader for sacks, TFLs, and forced fumbles in the SEC? If I’m Jerry Reese, I’m at least making the call.