The 2016 NFL Scouting Combine is in the books. With that in mind, here are "Five things I think I think" about the New York Giants and the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft.
I think Noah Spence will remain a polarizing player
The Combine began with a bevy of questions hovering around the Eastern Kentucky pass rusher many continue to connect to the pass-rush-starved Giants. It ended the same way. Some believe he's a top 10 guy, the best pass rusher in the draft and that he will be impossible for the Giants to pass up at No. 10. Others think his off-the-field issues, the 4.80 40-yard dash he ran and the swirling perception he didn't interview well with teams at the Combine mean he isn't even worthy of being a first-round selection.
"Perhaps now we can stop the narrative that he's going to be a first-round pick," an NFL source told NFL Media's Kimberly Jones, with another adding he "didn't see anything special."
Still, the idea that talent-wise he is still possibly the best edge-rusher in the draft class remains. Thus, Spence will remain a polarizing figure in NFL draft rooms.
I think Ezekiel Elliott may also be polarizing for the Giants
If you have been following the mock drafts, you know that the Ohio State running back is often mocked to the Giants. If you know anything about the Giants, you know that trying to fix their defense has to be higher on the priority list than finding a new running back. If you know anything about me, you know I'm not a fan of drafting running backs in the first round, especially early in the first round. Take a running back that early, he better become a star.
Is Elliott such a player? Here is the Sporting News raving about him:
The fact that there's any debate over whether Ezekiel Elliott is a first-round NFL Draft pick is an insult to how good he is. Elliott, the best and healthiest running back prospect since Adrian Peterson nine years ago, has no real weakness and nothing working against him — except for the position he plays.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer says Elliott is "the best player I've ever coached without the ball in his hands. Think about that for a minute."
Would Elliott be the right pick for the Giants? Honestly, before we see what happens in free agency that question is impossible to answer. If the Giants are able to address some defensive needs in free agency, that would make it easier to justify the selection of an offensive player at No. 10.
There is one other argument for taking Elliott, or any offensive player at No. 10. I have said many times, and GM Jerry Reese echoed recently, that the Giants need help all across the roster. They need difference makers regardless of position. The only ones on the roster are Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr.
If the biggest difference maker on the board at No. 10 happens to be an offensive player, so be it. If, however, the Giants believe Elliott is that guy they had better be right.
I think the Jaylon Smith story isn't written yet
You know the Notre Dame linebacker's story by now. From potential first overall pick to a guy some teams think is undraftable due to the knee injury he suffered on New Year's Day. Draft analyst Mike Mayock said teams have told him "it's bad" on Smith's knee after the medical exam at the Combine.
Is it really bad enough, however, that no one will draft him? At least three teams have reportedly removed him from their draft boards. I think the truth of what will happen with Smith is probably in the middle. If you're the Giants, you can't take that risk at No. 10. Could the Giants, or any team, take the risk on Day 2? Or Day 3? Somebody will.
I think several pass rushers fit the Giants' mold
Let's face it, the Giants have a "type" when it comes to defensive ends. As good as he may be, the 254-pound Spence doesn't fit the profile of what the Giants have generally looked for at the position. Long, athletic, quick, around 270 pounds or so. Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka all fit that profile. So does last year's third-round pick, Owamagbe Odighizuwa.
In the first-round conversation this year, Emmanuel Ogbah of Oklahoma State and Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd of Clemson all fit that profile. Dodd is 6-foot-5, 277 pounds with long 34-inch arms. Lawson is 6-2½, 269 with 32 3/4-inch arms and ran a 4.70 40-yard dash with an impressive 1.64-second 10-yard split. Ogbah checked in at 6-4, 273, with freakish 35½-inch arms, ran the second-best 40 among defensive linemen at 4.63 and had the best 10-yard split at 1.60. CBS Sports said "no one was better than Ogbah" among defensive ends at the Combine.
Is any of these players worthy of the 10th overall pick? We'll find out.
A Day 2 name to watch has to be Carl Nassib of Penn State, brother of Ryan Nassib. At 6-6 3/4, 277 pounds, 34½-inch arms and a 1.63 10-yard split he fits the profile.
I think the defensive tackle market presents options
If the Giants aren't comfortable with their defensive end choices at No. 10, but still want to attack their front seven could they approach it another way? Could they grab defensive tackle like A'Shawn Robinson of Alabama, Sheldon Rankins of Louisville, Andrew Billings or Baylor, the controversial Robert Nkemdiche of Ole Miss or any of the other talented defensive tackles available NFL.com's Bucky Brooks says "The 2016 defensive tackle class is arguably the deepest position in the draft. There are not only several blue chip talents at the top of the board, but there are plenty of quality starters that can be found on Day 2."
Other talent evaluators have gone so far as to say that there are so many good defensive tackles in this class that teams might even find second-round talent in the fourth round of the draft.
There is, as they say, more than one way to skin a cat. Depending on their evaluations and how the draft breaks, maybe the best thing to do is grab a pocket-pushing, run-stuffing tackle to pair with Johnathan Hankins. Talent is talent, after all, and if the Giants get a guy who is a difference-maker does it really matter if he is an end or a tackle?
The Giants, as currently constructed before the start of free agency, could use an upgrade at defensive tackle. I have to believe they will do something to try and upgrade there, even if they wait until Day 2 or even early on Day 3.
The reported quality of this class also raises another question. Does that impact the value of a free agent like Malik Jackson of the Denver Broncos, who is reportedly seeking $12 million or more annually? If you are the Giants, for example, do you pay that kind of money for Jackson? Or, do you use Hankins, Jay Bromley, perhaps bring back Cullen Jenkins for a year and use the draft to add a player to your rotation?