Common wisdom is that the New York Giants would like to find a big, strong, possession-type wide receiver who could play outside opposite Odell Beckham Jr. Could that lead them to take a flier on Richmond's Reggie Diggs as a late-round draft choice or undrafted free agent?
Who is Diggs, you ask? He is a 6-foot-3, 214-pound receiver who caught 151 passes (12 for touchdowns) for the Spiders over the past two seasons and was a preseason FCS All-American per several publications. Diggs is considered a potential late-round pick or possible priority free agent.
"It would be nice to get drafted. But it's never how you get there, it's how you respond when you're there," Diggs told me during a recent phone conversation.
Two years ago, 6-4, 215-pound Corey Washington made the Giants roster as an undrafted free agent out of Division II Newberry College. Last year, 6-2, 220-pound sixth-round pick Geremy Davis supplanted Washington. With Rueben Randle gone and Davis the only big wide receiver with any experience, there is an opening for a wide receiver with size and the ability to make contested catches.
Here is a brief scouting report on Diggs:
Sleeper alert! Sleeper alert! If you’re NFL team is looking for a 6’4", 200-pound receiver who thrives at making catches in traffic down the seams and over the middle, Diggs needs to be in the conversation. He doesn’t have great speed (my guess is he runs in the high 4.5 range), but he can really leap and extend out to make catches well away from his body. He might have the biggest catch radius of any wideout in this draft. The hands are legit. The routes are impressive for an FCS-level wide out with his size, and that’s important in his transition.
Most small-school wideouts with his length just relied upon being bigger than the opponent to make plays. But Diggs actually sets up moves and has decent footwork, unlike a Ramses Barden or Aaron Mellette. He even proved effective on bubble screens, running with forward lean and toughness but also balance even if he’s not going to run away from defenders. The blocking is strong, too. He was very productive with over 150 catches and 2100 yards in the last two years while serving as a co-No. 1 wideout with Brian Brown in a pro-friendly offense. I don’t care (much) about the lack of speed or burst, because if a team is asking him to be an outside blazer their coaching staff won’t be around long. I see Diggs in a Mohamed Sanu vein and that’s worth a late fourth/mid-fifth round value to me.
Draft projection: 6th-7th round
Diggs is ranked among the top small school draft prospects and Draft Insider Tony Pauline has been beating the drum for him, calling him "a game controller who physically beats down opponents in the middle of the field to come away with the reception."
Diggs told me describes himself as "a ball-attacker."
"I like to attack the ball in the air. I compare myself to A.J. Green. He's a little taller than me but as far as lengthy, long receivers who can go up and get the ball in the air and also make plays across the middle," he said.
Diggs isn't a speed merchant, having run a 4.55 40-yard dash at the Richmond Pro Day. He might not want the label "possession receiver" but admitted "you could say that" when asked if that was a better description than to say he was a real downfield threat.
"I can do both but in my career I make a lot of catches in traffic, so I guess you could say I've made more catches in traffic than I have downfield big plays," Diggs said.
The book on Diggs is that to be successful in the NFL he will have to use his size, catch radius, and physicality because he will have trouble creating separation from NFL cornerbacks. He has heard the criticism.
"I make up for that with my ability to catch the ball in traffic, use my body," Diggs said. "I've also been working on my separation speed because I've seen a lot of criticism about that myself. I've been working on that, just using it as motivation."
Recently, we looked at the draft prospects of Richmond running back Jacobi Green and one of the factors we noted was the the Spiders moved from a spread to a pro-style offense in 2015. That helped Green put up huge numbers, but it limited Diggs' opportunities. He went from 85 catches and 1,157 yards as a junior to 66 catches and 957 yards last season.
"I look at it as a positive because I have a lot of experiences with different offenses," Diggs said of the change. "I don't look at it as a negative at all."
Diggs said that while he did have some contact with NFL teams after the Pro Day, he has yet to hear from the Giants. What would he tell the Giants, or any other NFL team, about why they should give him an opportunity?
"I tell them you're gonna get a hard worker, someone who's humble, does the right thing, and who's going to make plays for ‘em on the football field," Diggs said.
Measurables (from the Richmond Pro Day)
Height: 6-foot 3
Weight: 214 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.55
Arms: 32 5/8 inches
Vertical jump: 38.5 inches
Broad jump: 11 feet