John Fennelly, Lead WriterThe NFL Draft continues Friday, beginning at 7 p.m. The selection time windows will be shorter than the 10 minutes allotted in Round One. Round Two will be seven minutes per selection while Round 3 will be only five minutes per.
The Giants have the No. 11 selection in Round Two (No. 43 overall) and the No. 10 pick in Round Three (No. 74 overall). They took care of their WR need last night by selecting LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. For those who doubt that this was a reach, please stop. Several draft experts I spoke with last night overtly endorsed the pick, one telling me, “Giant fans are going to love this kid.”
There ares still several positions on the roster where the Giants need a turnkey solution, with TE topping the list. Only one was taken last night: UNC’s Eric Ebron, who went to Detroit at No. 10.
Gil Brandt, the former Cowboys’ GM and official NFL Draft oracle is always a good place to start when it comes to ranking the talent. Here’s who Brandt lists as his best available TEs going into tonight:
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
Brandt: Seferian-Jenkins (6-foot-5 1/2, 262 pounds) is still recovering from a foot injury and did not run or jump for teams in the pre-draft process. The Huskies ran more in 2013, which contributed to him catching only 36 passes for eight touchdowns. He can and will block. He served a one-week suspension last season after a DUI arrest in the spring.
Fennelly: Eli can’t miss this guy he’s so big. A blocker, which will appease Tom, but how will equate to Ben McAdoo’s offense where the TEs are asked to run some longer routes and get up the seams?
Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
Brandt: Amaro (6-foot-5 3/8, 265 pounds) will be a tough matchup in the NFL. He caught 106 passes and seven touchdowns last year. He wasn’t asked to block a lot at Tech and will need work in that area. At the combine, he ran a hand-timed 4.63 seconds in the 40, but his stock dropped a bit after he interviewed poorly. He also has had some off-field problems in the past.
Fennelly: Another monster that would really go a long way in re-establishing the offense. Not sure the Giants want the baggage, though. Will Hill’s most recent transgression has them backpedalling on reclamation projects, especially this high in the draft. His blocking could be a deal breaker as well.
Troy Niklas, Notre Dame
Brandt: Niklas (6-foot-6 1/2, 268 pounds) is a three-year player who played linebacker in 2011 as a true freshman. He can block and catch (32 receptions, 498 yards, five TDs in 2013) and is very athletic. He did not run for teams after having double-hernia surgery in March.
Fennelly: My personal choice. Niklas is coming out early, so I’m assuming he might not be done growing. That’s scary. The best combination of blocker/receiver of the three TEs listed here. Round Two may be a bit too high for Niklas, but if he’s there in Round Three, the Giants should take him.
The Giants have more than a dozen offensive linemen on their roster, so if they grab one tonight, he can’t be a project. Here are Brandt’s top three:
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Brandt: Measured 6-foot-7 and 321 pounds at his pro day, and ran 5.42 and 5.53 seconds in the 40. Some issues remain concerning Kouandjio’s knee, but Dr. James Andrews, the renowned orthopedic surgeon, tried to alleviate them with a letter he sent to all 32 teams, explaining how many years he expected the tackle to be able to play. Kouandjio needs work on his pass protection vs. speed rushers, but is still a good player. If you have any doubt, put on the LSU tape from last year; he was dominating. He had 25 lifts at his pro day but was only credited with 21 because he didn’t “lock out” on four attempts. I could see him going as high as 20th overall in the draft. Could be a perfect pick for a team like the Seahawks at the back end of the first round.
Fennelly: A Bama writer told me last night the knee is worrying a lot of teams, hence the drop into the second round. If his knee is right, he’s a player that will occupy a lot of space and pancake defenders on run plays. The Giants need pass protectors and Kouandjio may struggle with that at the pro level.
Xavier Su’a-Filo, OL, UCLA
Brandt: Su’a-Filo (6-foot-4 1/8, 307 pounds) played some left tackle in 2013, but his best NFL position will be guard. He did not play football in 2010-11 because he was serving on a Mormon mission, but he started all 14 games as a true freshman. He ran the 40 in 4.90 seconds (hand-held) and had 25 strength lifts at the combine.
Fennelly: Again, the glut in the middle of the Giants’ line, especially at guard, could keep the Giants away. Then again, if they see him as a significant upgrade, it wouldn’t be the worst cad scenario.
Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
Brandt: There are some questions about Moses’ work habits and toughness, but he has outstanding size for the position (6-foot-6, 314 pounds) and very long arms (35 3/8 inches). He played right tackle before moving to the left side in 2013.
Fennelly: Huge guy who resembles former Giant Kareem McKenzie. Has all the attributes but if the Giants took him, where would he play? Is he a left tackle? Does it matter? They need another tackle and a guy they can build with. A real possibility.
The Giants have eight defensive lineman under contract and don’t have a lot of room for many more. They really need another pass rusher with JPP at a crossroads.
Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Brandt: Ealy (6-foot-4, 273 pounds) is a very athletic player with great quickness and a lot of upside. He came to Mizzou at 217 pounds; at his pro day he weighed 265. A two-year starter, Ealy had one good year, in 2013, which included a great game against Auburn: two forced fumbles and three tackles for loss. He ran the 40 in 4.69 seconds at his pro day.
Fennelly: The vibes have been inconsistent these days when it comes to Ealy. Some say he’s the next Aldon Smith, while others have slapped a caveat emptor on his file. I think the Giants see through the smoke here and stay away.
Stephon Tuitt, DT, Notre Dame
Brandt: Tuitt (6-foot-5 1/2, 304 pounds) could be a real steal in the draft. He wasn’t as good in 2013 as he was in 2012, but he plays the run well, is athletic and can play end in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. He has 34 3/4-inch arms and had 31 reps in the bench press at the combine.
Fennelly: A steal is putting it kindly. Tuitt can play anywhere along the line. Offensive lineman who plan on moving him out of the way better pack a lunch. No way he gets past Jerry Reese tonight. The guy has 10″ hands for Pete’s sake.
Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Hageman (6-foot-5 7/8, 310 pounds) has size, power and explosion but lacks consistency, otherwise he would be ranked higher. He might be too tall to play defensive tackle in the NFL but is good enough to convert to end. At the combine, he ran the 40 in a hand-timed 4.97 seconds. He has 34 1/4-inch arms and posted 32 reps in the bench press.
Fennelly: Just a big, strong, athletic young man. Hageman is even bigger than Tuitt. Already 24, scouts have their doubts on how well he’ll adapt to pro coaching and some do not predict success in the NFL for him.
The Giants added Rashad Jennings this offseason and re-signed Peyton Hillis. Michael Cox is a developing player and David Wilson’s health has yet to be determined. The Giants could see the need to add another RB. Not sure they do it this high, but in cad they do, here are Brandt’s top available:
Jeremy Hill, LSU
Brandt: Hill (6-0 5/8, 233 pounds) is a big back with speed, quickness and power. He worked out very well at his pro day, looking good catching the ball and running the 40-yard dash in a hand-timed 4.53 seconds. He’s had some off-the-field troubles, but his coaches say he’s a good young man.
Fennelly: Will Jerry go back the well and take another Tiger? Hill is a top talent and a perfect compliment to Jennings. They won’t have to worry about the RB for a few years with those two. Hill would give the Giants four backs with above-average size. The smallest? Cox at 6’0″, 220.
Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
Brandt: Hyde (5-foot-11 7/8, 230 pounds) ran for 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, averaging 7.3 yards per carry. He’s a power runner who has the quickness needed to be successful in the NFL. He ran the 40 in a hand-timed 4.62 seconds at the combine and had 19 bench-press reps.
Fennelly: Basically a pile-pusher, a battering ram. The Giants have Hillis to do that, but McAdoo wants an attack offense and Hyde will put some blood in the mouth of defenders. His blocking is above-average and he can also catch the ball. A physical player. Would make a mockery of anyone who tried to arm tackle him and is built to score inside the five. I wouldn’t mind having a real football player, a workhorse, on offense for a change.
Bishop Sankey, Washington
Brandt: Sankey (5-foot-9 1/2, 209 pounds) has good quickness and running skills and will work hard on every play. He ranked No. 1 in the nation last year at breaking tackles. He has good hands and can be an every-down back. At the combine, he posted a hand-timed 4.45-second 40 and 41 1/2-inch vertical.
Fennelly: A fine athlete, but not in Round Two. Round Three, well, that’s another story.
The Giants are stockpiling defensive backs. At corner, they brought in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Walter Thurmond and Zach Bowman, extended Prince Amukamara and re-signed Trumaine McBride. Antrel Rolle anchors the safeties, but Will Hill is going to be suspended and Stevie Brown is coming back from an ACL that wiped out his entire season. They might look to do something early here to offset that. If they can’t get a safety, they might draft a CB who they fell they can covert. Here are Brandt’s top DBs on the board:
Keith McGill, CB, Utah
Brandt: In addition to his height, McGill (6-foot-3 1/8, 213 pounds) has long arms (33 inches) and big hands (10 inches). He had 37 tackles and 12 pass breakups in 2013 and played well at the Senior Bowl. One question for him is why he didn’t have more interceptions at Utah (one in two seasons).
Fennelly: Big, with long arms but may need to use his size and get more physical and upgrade his ballhawking skills at the pro level to be effective.
Dion Bailey, S USC
From Nolan Nawrocki: Rare size (6’0″, 201) with extremely long arms and large hands — looks every bit the part. Very good athletic ability. Explosive — recorded 39-inch vertical jump and 10-foot, 9-inch broad jump. Versatile and can play safety or corner. Lacks the physicality and toughness desired at safety. Does not support the run aggressively or play to his size.
Fennelly: Don’t see it happening. Giants would need him to play physical and in the box. Doesn’t appear to do that.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB Nebraska
From Nawrocki: Physically impressive on the hoof — looks every bit the part with outstanding size and length to mix it up with bigger receivers. Good balance and body control. Jumps routes. Has good hands to intercept and can highpoint throws. Flashes functional strength to reroute receivers, discard blocks and tackle ball carriers. Has relatively small hands. Not especially strong for his size (6-foot-2 5/8, 218).
Fennelly: Mike Mayock likes Jean-Baptiste and sees him as a “Seattle-type” corner and a possibility to move to safety if needed. Someone will take him Round Two just on his dimensions alone.