The New York Giants have plenty of talent and athleticism at the top of their receiving depth chart. However, most of their receiving options trade size for that top-tier athleticism, and while Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram are all prolific scorers for their positions, they don’t have the size to dominate their catch points or be significant factors as blockers.
The team tried adding Brandon Marshall to fill that void, but he and Eli Manning only just appeared to be getting on the same page after an injury-shortened pre-season, before his season was ended by another injury. And while Marshall still believes he can contribute to an NFL offense and wants to keep playing, he will be 34 this year and could be a cap casualty.
If the Giants decide that they want to replace Marshall with a draft pick, the 2018 NFL Draft has quite a few options when it comes to big-bodied receivers. One of the more intriguing is Allen Lazard of Iowa State. Lazard has improved every year at Iowa State and brings traits that are sure to intrigue NFL teams.
- Huge frame and he knows how to use it.
- Isn’t afraid to bully Big XII defensive backs, either winning the catch point or drawing a penalty.
- Willing and capable blocker for his teammates.
- Uncommon jumping ability for a bigger receiver gives him a massive catch radius.
- Good body control allows him to adjust to (often wildly) off-target throws.
- Good hands to haul in circus catches.
- Doesn’t have great speed, and takes a few strides to get up to speed.
- Lumbers slightly getting in and out of his breaks. Doesn’t have the ability to “plant and go”.
- Rarely faced top-tier DB play at Iowa State. Could struggle to create separation against NFL corners.
What they’re saying
COMPARES TO: Quincy Enunwa, New York Jets – Although his career has been halted due to injury, Enunwa has been an intriguing up-and-coming receiver in New York due to his size, routes and strong hands. In a best-case scenario, Lazard can make a similar impact due to his powerful frame and ball skills.
-Dane Brugler (NFLdraftscout.com)
Lazard is an interesting receiving prospect who might get more attention in another draft class. However, with so many “big body” receivers coming out this year, one tends to look like another.
While doesn’t have the speed of D.J. Chark or Equanimeous St. Brown, Lazard makes up for it with the thickness, strength, and physicality you expect from a 6=-foot-5 receiver. With his impressive leaping ability, he could be looked at as something of a “poor man’s Mike Evans”, as the two share a similar frame and near 40-inch vertical.
Lazard has the body control to bail out his quarterbacks on off-target passes, or haul in passes that are precisely placed away from his frame and where only he can make a play on them. One area where he could blossom in the NFL is in using his size and physicality to draw pass interference penalties. Lazard showed a definite ability to draw defensive pass interference penalties at the collegiate level, and as that is a “spot” foul in the NFL, he could contribute significant hidden yardage in the NFL. He will also contribute as a blocker in the running, screen games, as well as on special teams as a blocker.
Lazard is generally considered a Day 3 prospect, and expected to be taken in the fourth or fifth rounds. Giants’ GM Dave Gettleman has a history of drafting big receivers, selecting Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess for the Carolina Panthers. The Giants likely won’t be selecting a receiver early in the draft, but Lazard could prove an intriguing option in the middle to later rounds.