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2018 NFL Draft prospect profile: Genard Avery, LB, Memphis

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Is Avery a sleeper who could help the Giants’ defense?

NCAA Football: American Athletic Conference Championship-Memphis at Central Florida Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants need to continue building the second level of their defense, that much is plain to see. They could spend one of their top draft picks on a linebacker, but even with premium resources invested in the position and a move from Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul, they could still use more good depth.

They will likely need to also use at least one later-round draft pick on the position, and one potential candidate could be Genard Avery of Memphis.

Avery is regarded as a sleeper right now, but his name is starting to generate a buzz as the draft approaches. Could he interest the Giants?

Could Avery fit with the Giants?

Between playing for a lower level school and the depth at linebacker in this draft class, Genard Avery is something of a sleeper.

He was known to scouts for what he put on tape during the season, but he raised his stock some with a strong workout at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine. There he reinforced what he showed on tape, showing quickness, agility, and explosiveness in the various events.

And though it was somewhat hidden behind a porous defensive line, there was a lot to like on tape. Avery looks comfortable dropping back into both man and zone coverage, with the athleticism to stick with receivers over the middle and the awareness to cover a zone while keeping his eyes in the backfield. His height might be an issue covering bigger receivers and tight ends, but he uses it as an asset attacking downhill. He also shows a certain knack for timing his blitzes, finding gaps or using his hands to keep blockers from latching on during speed rushes.

Like all too many college players he still needs to work on the lost art of tackling, too often eschewing form tackles for big hits or arm tackles.

Avery likely hasn’t raised his stock to the second day of the draft -- though he might have in other less talented years, but he could be an intriguing option for the Giants in the fourth or fifth rounds. He has experience lining up in 3-4 and 4-3 fronts, on the line of scrimmage as an edge rusher or back as an off-ball linebacker. At the very least he should be a good candidate to contribute on special teams while he carves out a role on the defense.

Measurables

Pros

  • Flashes solid instincts. Generally moves toward the play and seldom takes an inaccurate first step.
  • Looks comfortable dropping in coverage.
  • Has a talent for rushing the passer and flashes solid hand usage.
  • Powerful frame with solid agility and an explosive lower body.
  • Versatile player who lined up in a variety of alignments and fronts.

Cons

  • Needs to improve as a tackler, particularly finishing tackles.
  • Could stand to improve shedding blocks.
  • Doesn’t have prototypical height. Is a bit short at just over 6 feet.

Prospect video

What they’re saying

”I think he’s really interesting as a prospect because of his size and his versatility. I wanted him to be a better pass rusher that he actually was on tape, but we can work with it. I’m sure our (special) teams coach is going to love him.” - NFC defensive assistant

-via NFL.com