Thursday, July 7, 2011

KD's NFL Draft Grades - New York Giants

The Giants, under GM Jerry Reese have drafted pretty well over the last few years, and they have a talented roster. Injuries to the offensive line and a gaff by a rookie punter kept them out of the playoffs in that loss to the Eagles. However, Eli Manning must cut down from his legue-leading 25INTs next year for the G-men to make a serious run into the playoffs. The Giants led the league in forced turnovers, and have maintained a good running game since the Tiki Barber days. All things considered, the Giants don't have a whole lot of weaknesses aside from an aging offensive line. Let's see what they did in the draft.

1st round, 19th overall) Prince Amukamara - CB - Nebraska
The Giants, who I felt could've really used a left tackle, made a great value pick here with Nebraska's Prince Amukamara. He was the best player on the board, and had Nick Fairley not been on the board at 13, the Lions would've been hard pressed not to take him. The Giants have spent lavishly on their secondary in recent years signing free agent Antrel Rolle and using high draft picks on Kenny Phillips, Aaron Ross, and Corey Webster dating back to the 2005 Draft. While Webster is solid, he's had trouble staying with faster receivers in the division like DeSean Jackson and Dez Bryant, while Tarell Brown and Aaron Ross leave something to be desired when they've had to start.

How he fits in: Enter Prince Amukamara. Despite getting torched by Justin Blackmon last year, Amukamar had a fantastic season. Amukamara was a three year starter who played in 47 consecutive games to close out his career with the Cornhuskers. He's got great size at 6'0" 206lbs and could be a legitimate number one corner in the league over time. He could press any of the Giants top three corners for a starting position this year. He does have some struggles flipping his hips and turning and running after more athletic receivers. He's good against the run and he can play man or zone coverage with equal effectiveness.

Outlook: Amukamara will eventually become the Giants number one corner, unless they go out and sign Nnamdi Asomugha or something like that - the Prince is that good. Some have even mentioned that he could have a home at FS down the line, and if Kenny Phillips continues to not stay healthy, perhaps the Giants experiment with that move a little earlier than expected. The Giants made a nice move here, but you've really got to start wondering how long they continue to use David Diehl at left tackle before sliding him inside to his natural guard spot.

2nd round, 52nd overall) Marvin Austin - DT - North Carolina
Another value pick here. Austin carried a 1st round grade before being suspended for the 2010 season for improper dealings with an agent in Chapel Hill. Austin could very well be replacing free agent Barry Coefield, who could command a pretty big pay day in this year. With only Rocky Bernard, Linval Joseph on the active roster at seasons end, and Dwayne Hendricks on the practice squad, the Giants had to make a move. Austin goes 6'1" 309lbs, and looked pretty impressive in drills and at the Combine for not having played football in a year. Austin was a three year starter for the Tar Heels, including his freshman year, but he's carried a reputation as an underachiever who works out well.

3rd round, 83rd overall) Jerrel Jernigan - WR - Troy
Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Steve Smith, and the rest of the Giants receiving corps aren't going to be confused as a true deep threat any time soon. If there's one thing the Giants learned from the loss to the Eagles last year, it's that you can always use a game changer. They've got one in the backfield in Ahmad Bradshaw, but he's a free agent. Jernigan would be a great slot reciever who can also line up outside and be used as a deep threat. Jernigan's also an excellent kick and punt returner and offers some versatility for the Giants that year. At 5'8" 185lbs, Jernigan is undersized, and didn't run as fast as people thought he would, clocking in at just 4.46 in the forty.

4th round, 117th overall) James Brewer - T - Indiana
The Giants addressed their offensive line with James Brewer in the 4th round. Overshadowed by Rodger Saffold, now with the Rams, at Indiana, Brewer played right tackle throughout his career. He's got very good size at 6'6" 323lbs and is pretty athletic. Some draftniks think that he could eventually be moved over to the left side of the line, much like Trent Williams was at Oklahoma. He's had some nagging ankle injuries that have caused him to miss some time, and isn't overly physical for his size. If Brewer gets time to learn behind Kareem McKenzie and David Diehl, he should be able to challenge for a starting spot in a year or two.

6th round, 186th overall) Greg Jones - LB - Michigan State
I really like the Giants pick here with Greg Jones. He's a tackling machine who has some decent coverage skills and was all over the field with the Spartans. Jones reminds me a lot of Antonio Pierce who anchored the Giants D for so many years. There's no real middle linebacker prospect on the Giants roster, so it wouldn't surprise me if Jones pushed for a starting spot right away. That said, the Giants could make a move for someone in free agency like Dhani Jones or Stephen Tulloch, but Jones could very well be the future. He's a little lacking in strength and has some trouble shedding blocks and at 6'0" he's a little on the short side. However, he's got the frame to add some more bulk and muscle as he's just 242lbs. I love this pick here for the Giants.

6th round, 198th overall) Tyler Sash - S - Iowa
Another nice pick here, and I really like it for the Giants. Tyler Sash certainly isn't a flashy prospect, but much like the rest of the Iowa defenders taken in this draft, he's a very solid player. Sash profiles as a backup SS to Kenny Phillips as he goes 6'0" 211lbs and isn't overly quick. He's an outstanding tackler and made a lot of plays for the Hawkeyes. Sash had a nose for the football in Iowa's zone scheme, notching 13 interceptions in 3 years and breaking up 14 passes. Sash doesn't have the speed or athleticism to be a regular starter, but he should crack certain packages and will contribute on special teams as a rookie.

6th round, 202nd overall) Jacquian Williams - LB/S - South Florida
The Giants went for a developmental prospect here. Williams stands at just 6'2" 216lbs, but led the Bulls in tackles as a senior. Just a one-year starter, Williams was voted a team captain and produced some decent numbers in his starting campaign registering 71 tackles, 11 for loss, 2.5 sacks, and an interception. Williams may be facing a position switch unless he bulks up, but he could compete with some current players on the roster for a special teams job.

7th round, 221st overall) Da'Rel Scott - RB - Maryland
Scott, one of the fastest backs in the entire draft sure slipped a lot further than many people thought. It was rumored the Raiders had a 2nd round grade on him, and many others had him in the 4th. Scott, a 5'11" 211lbs back ran a 4.34 forty and had a few breakaway runs for the Terps. Scott's had some injury and fumble issues throughout his career. However, this pick is strikingly similar to the Ahmad Bradshaw pick the Giants made a few years ago. Scott's bigger and faster, and could eventually prove to be a potential replacement for Bradshaw should he leave via free agency.

Overall Grade: A-
I really like what the Giants did in this draft, and I think they got some talented players at every juncture of the Draft. Prince Amukamara, Marvin Austin, Greg Jones, and Tyler Sash could all make significant impacts as rookies. James Brewer and Jerrel Jernigan could prove to make significant contributions down the line. At the very least, Jernigan gives them a quality deep threat and a kick and punt returner. Da'Rell Scott might be a diamond in the rough and could prove to be a nice complement to Brandon Jacobs or Ahmad Bradshaw, or both. They really only had one wobble, that being Jacquian Williams, and with a late 6th round pick, I'm willing to overlook that for everything else they did. The only reason I'm not giving them a solid A is that I just don't think they addressed the tackle position the way the could've. Anthony Castonzo was still on the board, and James Brewer has a long way to go before he's going to be a left tackle. Other than that, it's one of the best draft classes this year.

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