We’re all looking forward to the highly-anticipated divisional showdown between the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins. But that doesn’t happen until Sunday, and we have more than 24 hours until kickoff.
So to kill some time, let’s go into the world of college football and take a look at who the Giants are scouting this week.
Florida at Tennessee (3:30 p.m., CBS)
Florida Players To Watch
- Jarrad Davis (LB) - Davis might be well on his way to being the darling of the Beezer Brigade, and he’s a linebacker I’ve mentioned a few times. He might be a little short at 6-foot-1, 240, but Davis is a sideline-to-sideline linebacker who looks comfortable in coverage, playing the run, or running down quarterbacks. He also has a reputation as a smart player and the vocal leader of the Gators’ defense.
- Teez Tabor (CB) - Florida should probably be called “DBU” at this point. It seems like no matter who their head coach is, Urban Meyer, Will Muschamp, or Jim McElwain, they are producing quality defensive backs. Tabor looks like the next in line after Vernon Hargreaves left for the NFL. In fact, he could be the top DB in the nation. He has just under ideal size at 6-foot, 200 pounds, with the requisite speed and agility for the position. Tabor was very productive in 2015, racking up 40 total tackles, four tackles for a loss, four interceptions, and 14 pass break-ups.
- Marcus Maye (S) - Another great DB for Florida, Maye is a safety with experience as a nickel corner as well — a valuable commodity for NFL teams. He’s also a certified playmaker, racking up 82 tackles, five forced fumbles, eight passes broken up, and two interceptions in 2015. Over his 21 starts he has created 11 total turnovers.
Tennessee Players To Watch
- Jalen Hurd (RB) - It’s a mark of just how ridiculously stacked the 2017 draft is at running back that a player like Hurd is “under the radar”. At 6-4, 240, Hurd runs like Tennessee Titans rookie Derrick Henry or former Giant Brandon Jacobs. He combines power and aggression with quick feet, agility, and deceptive speed for such a big running back. He laughs at arm tackles (he broke 11 of them when Tennessee played Florida last year), and of note for the Giants, he primarily plays out of a spread offense. The biggest thing holding Hurd back is the offensive line in front of him.
- Derek Barnett (DE) - A strong, stout defensive end, Barnett has racked up 33 tackles for a loss and 20 sacks over the last two seasons. He doesn’t have the length or bend that the Giants typically look for in their defensive ends, but his strength is apparent and he plays a physical brand of football with plenty of hustle. He doesn’t have a sack yet this year, and Tennessee needs him to step up quickly.
- Jalen Reeves-Maybin (OLB) - No, I’m not pandering to the Beezers by highlighting two linebackers in the same game, they both deserve recognition. Where Davis is an almost prototypical linebacker, Reeves-Maybin is one of the new SS/WILL hybrids that are becoming more common. He possesses the kind of easy athleticism and instincts needed to cover receiving threats over the middle in the NFL, though his size might limit him against bigger tight ends.
Wisconsin at Michigan State (Noon, Big 10 Network)
Players To Watch
Malik McDowell (DL)- McDowell isn’t just the best player in this game, he’s one of the top defensive players in the country. An unusually long and lean defensive tackle, McDowell puts his 6-6 frame to great use disrupting plays behind the line of scrimmage and has uncommon agility at 280 pounds. He could probably play defensive end in either a 4-3 or 3-4 front, as well as the 3-technique in a 4-man front.
Brian Allen (OL) - The Giants like two types of offensive lineman big and strong (Ereck Flowers or Chris Snee), or versatile (Justin Pugh, Rich Suebert, or David Diehl). Allen falls into that second category, with the versatility to play guard or center. Because of that, he has good awareness and quick feet to go with a nasty disposition and likes to finish plays with defenders on the ground. He was voted second-team all-Big 10 and numerous “All-Freshman” teams after a 2014 campaign that saw him collect 82.5 knockdowns in 10 starts at guard (eight) and center (two).
Rules: As per usual, I am basing the Giants’ mock position off this week’s power average power ranking. The Giants are ranked 11th overall this week, so they’ll be picking 21st overall. I’ll be making my picks from CBS Sports’ big board, and limiting myself to plus or minus five picks from where the Giants select. In other words, I will select a player ranked no higher than 16th overall or no lower than 26th (unless I decide to reach for a more lowly-ranked player, which I will explain).
Round 1 - 21st Overall
Rueben Foster (ILB, Alabama) - This was an agonizingly difficult pick to make. Well, sorta. Foster is a tremendously talented linebacker, who I’ve recently seen compared to Luke Kuechly. Foster is very athletic, capable of flying all over the field, and very aggressive. If he can be Kuechly, or even Jon Beason or C.J. Mosley, this is a great pick for the Giants. What makes it agonizing is the fact that he is the 22nd-ranked player and Clemson WR Mike Williams is the 21st-ranked player.
While Foster might be there on draft night, Williams won’t be, which is why I’m passing. We know the Giants scouts love him, and Jerry Reese pulls the trigger on him here. Williams’ size, speed, and body control are Julio Jones-like and would make an absolutely devastating combination with Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard.
Round 2 - 53rd Overall
Evan Engram (TE/WR, Ole Miss) - I’ve often wondered over the last two years what could have come of Travis Beckum had Ben McAdoo been his offensive coordinator instead of Kevin Gilbride. With this pick we might find out. Like Beckum, Engram is listed as a tight end, but he’s more aptly described as an offensive weapon. He looks like an elite athlete on the field and a mismatch for defenses. He can play from the tight end, slot, backfield, or split out wide, something McAdoo loves from his tight ends. He’s a dynamic receiving option an a capable blocker in space.
Round 3 - 85th Overall
Connor McDermott (OT, UCLA) - The Giants tried to upgrade the right tackle position throughout the 2016 offseason and were even reportedly hot to draft Jack Conklin out of Michigan State. I’m going to finish off the offensive line by drafting UCLA’s Connor McDermott. McDermott is a LONG tackle at 6-8, 310 pounds but is a natural athlete with very light feet. In high school he helped lead his football and basketball teams to state championships, and was named “Mr. Basketball’ for the state of Tennessee. He has the frame to grow and fill out in an NFL strength program, which will help his run blocking. He is already a good pass protector, playing left tackle for an offensive line that gave up just 14 sacks in 2015.
Round 4 - 117th Overall
C.J. Beathard (QB, Iowa) - This could be the year that the Giants start looking for Eli Manning’s successor. Beathard is a red-shirt senior (quarterback is one position where that is a plus for me) who took a step forward in 2015 and almost lead the Hawkeyes to the College Football Playoffs. He has plenty of arm strength to deal with the winds in Giants Stadium, experience in a pro-style offense, and shows poise in the pocket. He also shows an intriguing ability as a runner. He’s far from Lamar Jackson, but he can keep the play alive or make a defense pay if the turn their backs on him and he pulls the ball down.
What games, and which players, are you watching today, Giants fans?