The NFL Draft is a beautiful and confounding thing. We spend months obsessing over the perfect player for the New York Giants to take and we all pick our favorites, narrow it down to a couple of choices and threaten bodily harm to our televisions if it doesn’t pan out our way. Then funny things happen and the Giants take a player “out of the blue” and we say to ourselves, “what are they thinking ?” Most years, though, we should be asking ourselves, “why didn’t I see this coming?”
Justin Pugh was considered a second-round pick. It didn’t matter. Odell Beckham Jr. was at times considered nothing special and not worth the 12th pick. It didn’t matter. Most loathed the idea of combine warrior workout Jason Pierre-Paul as the Giants pick. It didn’t matter. Prince Amukamara was the rare NYG exception where he was going to be long gone and fell into their laps. And, of course, Eli Apple wasn’t mentioned as the Giants pick prior to the draft.
I know the favorites for the Giants pick at 23 and you can look here, but my criteria for dark horse candidates are simple — players that don’t appear in this list (or at least more than once).
First is up as an EDGE rusher who fits the criteria for a New York Giants pick, but isn’t often discussed as the Giants first-round pick. Tyus Bowser of Houston.
Since the drafting of Clint Sintim in the second round of the 2008 NFL draft the New York Giants have searched for a pass rushing, hybrid linebacker/defensive end who could generate pressure from the second level and be used as a sub-package defensive end. The problem is the Giants haven’t been able to find the guy they were looking for in good standing. They considered players like O’Brien Schofield, Leonard Floyd, Adrian Tracy and others they have forced to play that role (think Devon Kennard).
The Giants like fast, explosive long-limbed athletes who can create pressure. Length has been a big requirement for them, but finding long-limbed, athletic, but heavy enough players to play the position they want them too is no easy task.
Bowser fits that profile.
Bowser is a long-limbed (33 1/4-inch arms), big-handed (10 1/8-inches) athlete who makes plays. He had eight sacks this past season for Houston and 12 tackles for a loss in only eight games, which is very good production. He’s one of the only “force” players projected to go in the range of the draft where the Giants pick (only Myles Garrett, and Solomon Thomas are ahead of him). A 6’3”, 250-pound man who ran a blazing 4.65 40-yard dash, 37.5-inch vertical, and a 127-inch broad jump.
Bowser fits everything and anything the Giants look for in a NFL draft prospect and is the primary linebacker I think they may consider in the first round of the NFL draft. The Giants interest in Leonard Floyd was not a smokescreen because they have been enamored with finding a lengthy, explosive SAM linebacker for a long time, and this year they may just find him in Bowser because he would be able to contribute as a pass rushing specialist on third down as well hopefully spelling Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon, who saw way too many snaps last year.