Good morning New York Giants fans!
Happy Saturday and welcome to Week 5 of the college football season.
I know, I know. I’m a bit late getting these going, but I consider some personal obligations and the Giants’ convoluted schedule to open the season mitigating circumstances. Besides, it usually takes a couple weeks for the college season to really get going.
In a slight change from previous seasons, I want to use the college game as a lens to examine the current state of the Giants. That means we’re going to zoom in on a couple players who could appeal to the Giants based on the games available
(So while I’d love to talk about former SUNY Albany Great Dane edge defender turned Florida State Seminole Jared Verse, FSU isn’t playing today.)
So with the introduction out of the way, let’s get to the players and games.
Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama
Alabama (12) at Mississippi State - ESPN, 9 p.m.
Frankly, how could we not talk about a cornerback who has been a starter for Nick Saban since his true freshman year?
Ga’Quincy McKinstry (nicknamed “Kool-Aid” by his grandmother for his big, infectious smile as a baby) is listed at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, and has prototypical athleticism for the position. He has the length and hip fluidity to routinely pay press coverage (82 percent of his snaps in 2022 were in press alignment per Pro Football Focus).
McKinstry doesn’t have many turnovers, just two in 32 career games to date. The Giants have struggled to generate turnovers under Wink Martindale, so the lack of ball production might be a mark against Kool-Aid. However, part of that could also be the sheer amount of press-man coverage he plays, as he does have an impressive 18 passes defensed over his last 17 games.
Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry showing some impressive route recognition basically running the route for the WR to break up the pass on third down.— Seven Rounds in Heaven (@7RoundsInHeaven) September 23, 2023
McKinstry is playing up to the hype of CB1 in the 2024 NFL Draft today. pic.twitter.com/Adz6qEPEbg
The Giants’ pass rush (or lack thereof) has been a concern for Giants fans to start the season. The Giants are at the bottom of the NFL in sacks, hurries, and pressures despite blitzing even more than they did a year ago. Part of the problem has been their pass rushers just not finishing their pass rushes, but opposing quarterbacks have also gotten the ball out before the pass rush could get home.
We’ll obviously keep an eye on front seven players over the course of the draft process, but we also know that Wink loves him some defensive backs. Adoree Jackson is set to be a free agent after the 2023 season, which could make cornerback a need for the Giants.
Cobee Bryant, CB, Kansas
Kansas (24) at Texas (3) - ABC, 3:30 p.m.
We’re going to stay in the defensive secondary for a bit. And as it so happens, we have two guys to watch on the same team playing top-level competition.
JaCobee (Cobee) Bryant, the 6-foot, 175-pound junior is the focus here. Bryant obviously doesn’t have the size of Kool-Aid, but he does have a knack for turning the ball over. He has 7 interceptions in his career, including two already on the season. In fact, his very first (which came against Texas in 2021) was returned for a touchdown. He also has 18 passes defensed in his career. Bryant is a competitive player and a hard hitter despite his slight frame.
Bryant’s teammate, Kwinton Lassiter, is worth watching as well. Lassiter is a more compact player than Cobee at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds. That said, he’s also showing some solid ball skills early in the season with interceptions in back-to-back games to start the season.
Both Kansas corners will have their work cut out for them against Texas. The Longhorns have built an impressive roster and starting QB Quinn Ewers is having a great season.
Calen Bullock, S, USC
USC (8) at Colorado - Fox, Noon
But for our purposes, I want to concentrate on the Trojans’ safety. Bullock has been one of the best safeties in the country for a while now, and the 6-foot-3, 190-pound (listed) junior could draw the Giants’ eye come next April.
USC safety Calen Bullock— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) July 23, 2023
Loose mover, great change of direction skills and range on the roof of the defense. Third level mistake eraser. pic.twitter.com/OwNTaWmASv
Bullock finished 2022 with five interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and six passes defensed, and he’s picked up where he left off with 1 interception and four passes defensed so far in 2023.
Xavier McKinney is a free agent after the 2023 season and has been a bit of a disappointment under Wink Martindale. That could cause the Giants to look to the draft for McKinney’s replacement. Wink likes his safeties to be versatile and able to play the box as well as the deep middle of the field. Bullock is a much better center fielder than run defender right, which could knock him down draft boards a bit (he’ll probably still be a Day 2 pick). But if the Giants want to add a long, rangy, ballhawk to their defense, they could do much worse.
This might wind up being the most-watched game of today’s slate. Folks will obviously be tuning in to watch USC quarterback Caleb Williams play, as he’s the presumptive first overall pick in 2024. Likewise, Deion Sanders, Coach Prime, has been incredible for college football and has drawn eyes to the college game like few others in recent memory.
Roman Wilson, WR, Michigan
Michigan (2) at Nebraska - Fox, 3:30 p.m.
The Giants made a concerted effort to add talent (and speed) to their passing offense throughout the 2023 offseason. But, with Parris Campbell and Sterling Shepard on one-year deals, they might be in need of more at the receiving position in 2024.
Michigan’s Roman Wilson (6-foot, 190 pounds) has emerged as one of the most dynamic and productive receivers in college football. He currently had 15 receptions for 268 yards (17.9 per catch) and six touchdowns through four games. His previous season highs were 25 receptions (2021 and 2022), 420 yards and 16.8 YPC (2021), and four touchdowns (2022).
Wilson is a speedster who ran a 4.37 second 40 coming out of high school, that’s reportedly improved to a 4.33 this past offseason. He also flashed impressive ball skills and body control at the catch point, as well as the agility to find daylight and put his speed to work. Wilson has played wide and out of the slot, giving him the kind of versatility the Giants have valued in their offense.
He still needs to improve his polish as a technician, and there are plenty of receivers who will likely go ahead of Wilson in the draft. However, if the Giants want to pair another speedster with Jalin Hyatt, Roman Wilson could be a strong value pick.
Feel free to use this as your open thread for all of today’s games. Feel free to use this as your open thread for all of today’s games. You can find the full slate of televised games and times here.