LB Keith Pough aims to take down QB Collin Klein in the East-West Shrine game.
The New York Giants’ brain trust has been assessing the nation’s top collegiate talent for months, scouring the stars of each squad in search of the next Jason Pierre-Paul or David Wilson.
Lost in the tireless hunt are college football’s diamonds in the rough. Saturday’s East-West Shrine game, which was televised on NFL Network, shined a light on some of those players who could have otherwise gone unnoticed.
Of the schools represented in the “All-Star” game, some of the lesser-known ones were Minnesota-Deluth, McMaster U., Missouri West State, Mount Union and Montana State. These programs may not be the football powerhouses that we’re used to, but NFL talent can come from all corners of the country.
Could the Giants have spotted an intriguing option on Saturday, possibly altering the team’s mid- to late-round plans? Click through this updated seven-round mock draft to find out.
Brigham Young defensive end/linebacker Ezekiel Ansah fits the Giants’ mold for game-changing pass-rushers. He is a massive prospect (6'6", 270 lbs) with tremendous raw power and athleticism. According to NFLDraftScout.com, Ansah’s average 40-yard dash time is 4.74 seconds.
Ansah has only come on as of late for the Cougars. He recorded just 10 tackles in his sophomore and junior seasons combined, but the Ghana native blew up during his senior campaign. In his final season at BYU, Ansah recorded 57 tackles (30 solo, 13 for a loss), 4.5 sacks, six QB hits and eight passes defended.
Left tackle Will Beatty had a surprisingly solid season in 2012, but the same cannot be said for his counterpart. Between veterans Sean Locklear and David Diehl, the Giants struggled to seal off the right side of the line all season.
New York needs to revamp its offensive line, starting with its second-round pick. If the Giants choose to bolster the right tackle position, Virginia’s Oday Aboushi is the perfect candidate for the job.
Aboushi, a 6’6” gargantuan, earned first-team All-ACC honors for his performance in 2012. He is a very physical lineman that averaged 10-plus knockdown blocks per game, according to NFLDraftScout.com.
Although the Giants pass defense was shaky in 2012, New York is only a couple steps away from fielding a premier defensive backfield. Cornerback Corey Webster stood out as the clear weak link last season, but the Giants can attempt to replace him with a solid cover corner in the 2013 draft.
New York can still nab a quality corner even if it holds off until the third round, much like the franchise did a year ago with Jayron Hosley. In 2013, the Giants should consider San Diego State’s Leon McFadden.
McFadden was a first-team member of the All-Mountain West Team in 2012 for the third consecutive season. As a four-year contributor with the Aztecs, McFadden should be very well prepared for his transition into professional ball. He recorded three interceptions and 10 pass breakups in 2012.
Many New Yorkers would love to see their hometown squad finally reel in a stud offensive lineman. The Giants, however, have only spent one early-round pick on an O-lineman during Reese’s tenure as GM: tackle Will Beatty in 2009 (second round).
Not much will change in 2013, as the Giants will surely wait until the mid to late rounds before they start to bolster the offensive front. If the team waits until the fourth round to select a lineman, one player the scouts should have an eye on is guard Gabe Ikard from Oklahoma.
Ikard is much smaller (6'3", 288 lbs) than the Giants’ current starters at left and right guard—Kevin Boothe (6'5", 320 lbs) and Chris Snee (6'3", 305 lbs)—but the Sooner has blocked well in 2012.
Ikard can also step in at center in a pinch, making him all the more attractive to a coaching staff that champions versatility.
The Giants defense finished the season ranked 31st in the NFL after surrendering over 6,000 yards through 16 games. In many of those games, New York’s inability to stop the run is what hurt the team the most.
To combat that deficiency, the Giants need to bring in an impact linebacker. Alabama’s Nico Johnson, an aggressive run-stuffer, could be the one to fill that role.
In Alabama’s 3-4 base defense, Johnson displayed great versatility from the inside linebacker position, but he could slip through the cracks to the Giants in the fifth round. He had 54 tackles in 2012.
Even if Johnson isn’t on the board when the Giants pick, there are other late-round prospects that could make a difference…
…Such as Keith Pough.
See, this article was not completely pointless—Pough was a participant in the East-West Shrine game, a notable one at that.
Pough has admirable size (6’3”, 240 lbs), which could make the fact that he’s from a small school (Howard) a bit of an afterthought. The reports from the week of practice leading up to the game were that Pough never stops talking while on the field.
NFLDraftScout.com’s Dane Brugler notes that Pough is still a very raw talent, but considering his suddenly rising stock, it “wouldn’t be a shock” if he were the first to be drafted from the Shrine game.
With Ahmad Bradshaw aging, Andre Brown constantly battling health issues and David Wilson still developing, it would not be atypical for the Giants to take a shot on an unexpected running back in the final round of the draft.
If that ends up being the case, New York could select Utah State running back Kerwynn Williams, a speedster whose lowest recorded 40-yard dash time is 4.34 seconds.
Williams lacks ideal size for an NFL back (5’8”, 196 pounds), but he could be used as a kick returner, especially since Wilson’s role should be expanding on offense in 2013. He was quite successful at the collegiate level with 1,277 yards on the ground, averaging 6.4 yards per carry in 2012.
Williams also played in the East-West Shrine game, carrying the ball eight times for 28 yards.