OH NO! except for the annual rivalry game between West Point and the Naval Academy, the college football regular season is over! What are we going to do?
Well, luckily its always draft season, and with just four games of NFL regular season left, its less-annoying to talk draft.
So then, I figured I’d kick our first Saturday Draft Chat off with five players I think could both be realistic picks and good fits with the Giants.
Bucky Hodges (TE, Virginia Tech)
The Giants haven’t taken a tight end in the first round since Jeremy Shockey was taken 14th overall in the 2002 draft. However, they like to take players with rare qualities in the first round and Hodges definitely has those — some have even called him the freakiest pass catcher in this draft.
We’ll see what he really measures come the combine, but he is consistently listed at 6-foot-6 or 6-7 and between 245 and 250 pounds, so he has the size and carries it well. Hodges looks more like an overgrown wide receiver or a power forward than an undersized tackle, and he plays that way. Like Jimmy Graham, Hodges is a size/athleticism mismatch with the speed and agility to burn linebackers, and the size to tower over defensive backs and carry them if they attempt to tackle him.
Like many of the Giants’ first round picks, his ceiling is sky high and he shows the competitiveness that gives you confidence that he will reach that ceiling. However, his game also isn’t without some warts, but they should be correctable. Hodges can line up all over the offensive formation, from the backfield, to in-line, to the slot, to out wide, and he has reliable hands and the speed to stretch the defense, but his route running needs work. Likewise, he is a willing and competitive blocker for his teammates, either in the run or screen game, but his technique needs improvement to unlock his considerable strength.
The combination of Will Tye, Jerell Adams, and Bucky Hodges could give the Giants some intriguing and dangerous personnel packages along with Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Shane Vereen, and Paul Perkins.
D’Onta Foreman (RB, Texas)
Foreman recently declared for the draft following the ousting of Charlie Strong from the Texas Longhorns. Foreman is a BIG back, coming in at 6-1, 250 pounds, but he moves like a much smaller running back. With light feet, great balance, patience, and vision, Foreman reminds a bit of Andre Brown (when healthy) or Le’Veon Bell coming out of Michigan State. Foreman doesn’t have the home-run speed that NFL teams love out of running backs, but he shows impressive acceleration (changing both speed and direction) to create on his own and turn not much into a good run. Add to that the power to laugh at most arm tackles, and Foreman is the kind of back who can keep your offense ahead of schedule and grind down defenses.
Specifically for the Giants, he spent a lot of his time in Texas playing out of the Shotgun and doesn’t appear to need the “runway” that most big backs need to get going. Foreman might not have that extra gear that gets scouts drooling, but he hits holes quickly and hard, taking just a step or two to hit top speed once he commits. He also shows reliable hands in the passing game and a willingness to block for his teammates.
I was tempted to go with Leonard Fournette here, because I do think that with his history of nagging injuries and not quite the same game-changing ability as Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffery, he could slip. But, those same injuries and the fact that he DOES need a runway to get going, lead me to prefer Foreman in this particular case (and potentially a round later).
Dawuane Smoot (DE, Illinois)
I’m going under the radar a bit here in a remarkably deep edge rusher class. Smoot doesn’t get the attention that defensive linemen like Jon Allen, Myles Garret get, or Derrick Barnett get, or EDGE prospects like Tim Williams, Carl Lawson, or Charles Harris have garnered. But Smoot, at least right now, is the most intriguing to me.
He looks bigger than the 6-3, 255 pounds at which he is listed (he’s gained 30 pounds of muscle since enrolling at Illinois). He carries his size very well, firing off the line of scrimmage with suddenness and good leverage, while showing active hands to fight off blockers and good bend around the edge. Smoot has a variety of tools, using both speed and power as a defender, one play bulling a right tackle back into the pocket, then switching to a rip move on the next play. He is also reliable in setting the edge in the run game, with a motor that always seems to run wide open.
Smoot doesn’t have the prototypical frame of a Giants’ defensive end like Michael Strahan, Mathias Kiwanuka, Justin Tuck or JPP, and is built more along the lines of Olivier Vernon or Owamagbe Odighizuwa (though perhaps not as freakishly athletic). That being said, he uses his tools well and has gotten better every year.
Elijah Qualls or Vita Vea (DT, Washington)
I’m going to talk about both of them at the same time, because I think the Giants could be interested in both defensive tackles.
(Note: As a red-shirt sophomore, Vea might return to school, though he graduated high school in 2013.)
The Giants have to build their roster with the express purpose of winning the NFC East first, and playoff success second. With that in mind it makes sense to continue to build a punishing defensive line to take on the Cowboys’ offensive line.
Both Qualls and Vea are big defensive tackles at 6-1, 321 and 6-4, 335 respectively, and while they both play with the power indicated by their size, they also both have impressive agility. Either would fit in well with Hankins and Harrison, with impressive lateral agility and athleticism to threaten the interior while being a rock in the run game. They both also have impressive motors for such big players.
About A Mock ...
No, this time I’m not going to be doing the mock, though if you want to make one in the comments, have at it. This time I want to take a look at a two-round mock draft by Matt Miller
You can see the full mock draft HERE (plus some notes from scouts).
Round 1 - 23rd Overall - Montravius Adams (DT, Aurburn)
Raptor’s Thoughts - Interesting pick. I’m not sure I’ve seen Adams listed as a first rounder yet, but I can’t argue with it either. He is a disruptive tackle and disruptive interior players are highly sought after. Also, even if the Giants retain Hankins this year, Jay Bromley will be a free agent next year, and the Giants like to draft defensive tackles a year ahead of time, so I do think the position, if not the player, has a good chance of being picked this year.
Round 2 - 55th Overall - Joe Mixon (RB, Oklahoma)
Raptor’s Thoughts - No. Just, no. As a talent, I could get behind Mixon for the Giants. He does a lot of things they like in a running back and would be a natural replacement for Vereen and a nice compliment for Paul Perkins.
The football considerations don’t matter: Mixon is under investigation for an alleged assault of a young woman. Even IF the Giants weren’t still under the cloud of the Josh Brown fiasco I would be against this pick, and that a federal judge ruled that the surveillance tape of the incident is a matter of public record and must be released.