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2017 NFL Combine: Could any of these LBs, DEs be New York Giants?

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Ben McAdoo wants the Giants’ defense to play even better in 2017. Might they draft one these talented defenders?

NCAA Football: Tennessee Tech at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Sunday at the NFL Scouting Combine, so that means that its time for the defensive linemen and linebackers to take the field. With the depth of talented edge players in this year’s draft class, today promises to be an exciting day at the combine.

The main player to watch is Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, who might put on an all-time great workout. However, the New York Giants’ chances of drafting Garrett are approximately somewhere between “slim” and “none”. So with that in mind, let’s turn our attention to some prospects who could interest Jerry Reese and the Giants who could be there when the Giants make their selections.

Note: As of this writing, the status of Derek Barnett is unknown. He was reported to be be dealing with a virus and hoped to come out and compete today.

Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford) - While Thomas is an almost consensus first rounder, the opinion on him from there varies wildly. Thomas is a wrecking ball off the edge and his motor never seems to wind down. However, with a squatty build, evaluators seem perplexed as to his future position. A strong combine should help convince scouts that he can play on the edge in the NFL.

Tarell Basham (DE, Ohio) - An small-school defensive end, Basham got himself noticed at the Senior Bowl with his speed off the edge in 1-on-1 drills. He is a bit undersized, but he has an NFL frame and was very productive at Miami of Ohio. He could boost his stock quite a bit by hanging with big school D-ends, and could prove to be a riser following the combine.

Caleb Brantley (DT, Florida) - Defensive ends aren’t the only players to watch today at the combine. The Giants have a habit of adding defensive tackles the year before a current tackle enters free agency. With Jay Bromley’s rookie deal expiring next offseason, they could well look to draft a defensive tackle at some point highly. Brantley is one of the best two-way tackles in the draft, so he is a good one to keep an eye on. [Prospect Profile]

Carlos Watkins (DT, Clemson) - Another good two-way tackle, Watkins was the Clemson Tigers best pass rusher in 2016. He isn’t getting as much attention as other pass rushers, but a strong combine will change that. He is also stout enough against the run to play on all three downs. [Prospect Profile]

T.J. Watt (EDGE, Wisconsin) - The name gets headlines all by itself. People will be watching when the younger brother of one of the best defensive linemen — and most amazing athletes — in the NFL takes the field to work out. The younger Watt is a capable edge rusher with the size to put his hand in the ground as a defensive end. He will need to show that he can play in space if he wants to keep the “linebacker” designation, but the trademark “Watt” hustle and work ethic will be on display.

Tyus Bowser (EDGE, Houston) - Another lesser known edge player, Bowser not only has the name of a famed Nintendo villain, but speed and agility off the edge. Like Basham he turned heads at the Senior Bowl with his explosiveness off the edge. Bowser will likely be a rush linebacker who could come down to the line of scrimmage in nickel situations at the next level. It will be interesting to see how he performs in linebacker drills on the field, and they could play a big role in his stock.

Charles Harris (EDGE, Missouri) - Harris has one of the best first steps in the draft and an absolutely nasty spin move. How he measures could decide whether the NFL views him as a rush linebacker or a defensive end, and he will need to show the NFL that he isn’t hopeless as a run defender to really help his draft stock.

Carl Lawson (EDGE, Auburn) - After being slowed for much of his college career by injuries, Lawson was finally healthy in 2016, and it showed on the field. He has never produced the stats he has been expected to, but his rush prowess has an undeniable effect on the field. However, the questions NFL teams will most like to see answered is if his torn ACL and hip injury have robbed him of any ability, and if he is an injury risk going forward.

Haason Reddick (LB/EDGE, Temple) - Reddick came to Temple as a defensive back, and transformed into an undersized defensive end. He raised eyebrows by playing inside linebacker at the Senior Bowl, and then raised them even further by excelling at the position. His athleticism is beyond question, and right now the biggest question about Reddick is “how high can he push his stock?”. [Prospect Profile]

Zach Cunningham (LB, Vanderbilt) - Cunningham was probably miscast in 2016 as an inside linebacker, but he showed nice instincts and physicality coming downhill to play the run. He is long and athletic, and should look really good in the on-field portion of the combine. The NFL will be most interested in how he performs in the pass rush drills after rarely being asked to rush the passer in college. [Prospect Profile]

Use this as your open thread for today’s workouts