The 2016 NFL season is officially over, so that means the 2017 Draft Season is well, truly, and fully under way.
So, while those of us who are also baseball fans eagerly await the first signs of spring (ie: pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training), we’ll while away the days with a seemingly endless parade of mock drafts.
23. New York Giants: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
I’m stuck on Howard to the Giants because he’s easily locked in as the No. 1 tight end in the draft this year, and fits a need for New York.
55. New York Giants: Pat Elflein, C/OG, Ohio State
87. New York Giants: Alex Anzalone, LB, Florida
Raptor’s Take: If I could paraphrase Cris Carter slightly here ... C’MON DAN!
Looking at the picks themselves, I couldn’t argue too much with Howard in the first. It makes a lot of sense, though I have to admit, I’m constantly left waiting for him to step up and really take advantage of his physical tools in games the way he does in 1-on-1 drills.
Elflein doesn’t really fit the Giants’ needs. He could possibly transition to right guard, but at 295-300 pounds, he’s light for the position — though a capable run blocker. The Giants might like the versatility, but they need a true guard to take over for John Jerry— or a tackle to push either Ereck Flowers, Bobby Hart, or both.
I’ll admit that I haven’t focused on Anzalone much. He has the size and straight-line speed you want from an modern-era linebacker, but he has a significant injury history and seems to be lacking in the agility to play in space.
But, it’s easy to criticize without providing any alternatives. So, looking at how the rest of Dan’s board fell, here’s a couple options:
- Antonio Garcia (OT, Troy) - Seventy-second overall in the original mock. Garcia was the talk of the scouting community prior to the Senior Bowl, with scouts buzzing over his polished technique and obvious athleticism. He looked a bit overwhelmed on the first day of practices, but rebounded and consistently won, using his technique to compensate for his lack of size. He’ll need to work hard to add muscle and strength, but his technique is already solid.
- Bucky Hodges (TE, Virginia Tech) - Sixty-seventh in the original mock. Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com has reiterated three times now that the Giants are interested in tight ends who are dynamic receiving threats, specifically Gerald Everett and David Njoku. Hodges presents similar upside as a receiver, and while he can’t touch their acceleration, they’ll never have his 6-foot-7 frame or blocking upside. Hodges isn’t a finished product now, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t see Jimmy Graham-like traits in his game.
- Dion Dawkins (OG/OT, Temple) - Ninety-fourth in the original mock. The Giants have two positions locked down on their offensive line. Left guard and center. Garcia provides competition at the tackle spots, I’m adding Dawkins to provide additional competition on the right side. He can compete with Brett Jones (and potentially Ereck Flowers) for the right guard position and the right tackle position. Dawkins is a big, powerful, lineman who looks like a vending machine with arms and legs. He will add the power component to the Giants’ OL that they’re lacking.
- Haason Reddick (LB, Temple) - Twenty-fourth in the original mock. Reddick emerged as one of the stars of the Senior Bowl when he showed that not only is he a dynamic edge rusher, but he also has the athleticism and skills to play off-ball and play in space as a true linebacker. His toolbox is overflowing, and the Giants could use a true “do it all” WILL linebacker.
- Ethan Pocic (OL, LSU) - Seventy-third in the original mock. Pocic is a rich-man’s Kevin Boothe, and that’s not a slight against Boothe. Right now I have him as my top center, but he can also effectively play guard and be a solid right tackle. He can step in and contribute from Day 1 with great technique and hand usage, and a natural athleticism.
- Evan Engram (TE, Ole Miss) - Not in original mock. If the Giants are interested in an athletic tight end they’re going to have an eye on Engram. Watching tape of Ole Miss in 2015, he leaped off the screen, easily overshadowing first-round WR Laquan Treadwell, and he has a knack for showing up in big games. Engram is a match-up nightmare for defenses, who measured bigger than expected in the Senior Bowl and has very Giants-like 10-inch hands. He is also a very underrated blocker and had scouts at the Senior Bowl saying that he matched the much higher-touted Howard.