Most of the conversation around draft time centers around the top prospects. They’re the exciting ones with the highlight-reel tape and the names that most everyone already knows, and of course the 2018 NFL Draft is no different.
Getting less discussion are the guys down the draft boards. The players who are regarded as among the best on their college teams, but don’t have the elite traits or production that get scouts and the media excited. But these players are the ones who fill out NFL rosters and can make, or break, a team with solid coaching or a wise selection on the last day of the draft.
That is what New York Giants GM Dave Gettleman was talking about when he spoke of grinding the tape in search of contributors -- looking at players like Washington State’s Cole Madison, who will likely be selected in the fifth round or later, but could become contributors.
- Very light and quick feet. Is not a “plodding” offensive lineman at all.
- Active hands. Works to establish inside position on defenders’ and use his hands to blunt rushes.
- Is a natural knee bender and uses a wide base.
- Disciplined in mirroring rushers.
- Surprisingly good run blocker.
- Generally has a bad to nonexistent kick-slide.
- Hands can occasionally get wild.
- Can occasionally lunge at defenders, or conversely, be a bit passive.
What they’re saying
“Analysis: I got a lot more than I expected from Madison this week. He was tough, efficient and fundamentally sound. He blocks with great lean for a tall lineman and played with excellent balance as well as vision. He’s going to be a Day 3 pick but could end up starting at guard in the right system.”
-Tony Pauline (DraftAnalyst)
Does He Fit The Giants?
In all likelihood, Cole Madison isn’t going to be drafted in the first two days of the draft. If he is going to be drafted, it will be some time on the third day, and probably later rather than earlier. He is going to be a player who shows enough promise to make a roster as a back-up and special teamer, and will have to fight his way up the depth chart.
In fact, his path to an NFL roster spot might not even be at the tackle position he played in college. While he occasionally flashes a decent kick-slide, on most pass plays it is basically nonexistent, and he instead backpedals into his pass set, which can lead to a variety of issues in taking on defenders.
But there are things to like about him. He does play with a nice base, and appears to be a natural knee bender who can easily sink his hips. He has active hands and a ready punch, and seems to know the importance of getting a defender’s chest.
Personally, while I wouldn’t exactly close the door on offensive tackle, I would give Madison a long look inside at guard. He does have very light feet for a big man, and could have exceptional feet for a guard, where he wouldn’t have to cover as much area. He was also woefully under-used in the run game in Washington State’s pass-happy offense.
If the New York Giants are looking for a lineman late in the draft with the potential to develop into a starting guard or high quality “super-sub”, Cole is definitely worth a look.