New York Giants Mock Draft: 7-Round Predictions, Post-Combine
The 2014 NFL Scouting Combine has concluded, and, now, draft hopefuls without a pro day or private workout scheduled can only wait to be selected (or not selected) by a professional squad in May.
Many incoming collegians recently supplemented their available game film with 40-yard dash times down to a hundredth of a second, arm and hand lengths down to an eighth of an inch and several hours of interviews with potential employers. And much like the games these young athletes played in college, their workouts at the combine were also televised.
The New York Giants should be one squad particularly interested in adding a few able-bodied blockers and tacklers, as well as a few reliable runners and receivers. Now that the combine is complete, the Giants can finalize their assessment of the inbound talent and project which players to pursue in each round.
This article will highlight possible picks for the Giants, which, of course, depend upon how the rest of the draft shakes out. They also depend upon New York's actions in free agency.
Contrary to what the boilerplate headline states, I'll only be taking you through six rounds of the draft, since last October's trade for linebacker Jon Beason left New York without a seventh-round selection. Some foresee the Giants receiving a fifth-round compensatory pick, but I don't count my chickens before they hatch—let's stick to the six picks Big Blue is guaranteed to make, as of Wednesday.
For this article, I have relied heavily upon the most recent version of Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller's seven-round mock draft, published Feb. 26. Each player highlighted in this article is projected by Miller to be selected within the Giants' pick range in that specific round.
That's enough housecleaning; hit "NEXT »" to view the picks.
Kevin is a New York Giants Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter here. All combine results and scouting info are courtesy of NFL.com's results tracker and individual prospect profiles, unless specifically noted otherwise.
First Round: DE Kony Ealy, Missouri
Perhaps miffed by early selections of man-eating offensive tackles Greg Robinson (Auburn) and Jake Matthews (Texas A&M)—who Miller has going to the Atlanta Falcons (sixth overall) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (seventh overall), respectively—the Giants may feel the pull of Michigan's Taylor Lewan at 12th overall.
If the Giants settle for Lewan, it will be their second consecutive first-round pick spent on an offensive lineman. Syracuse's Justin Pugh was scooped up at 19th overall in 2013.
Instead, I see the New York front office sticking to its instincts, which just so happen to align with Miller's first-round prediction for the Giants: Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy.
Ealy has been overshadowed quite suddenly by his collegiate counterpart, Michael Sam—also a Mizzou D-end, but more renowned for being the first openly gay athlete to enter the NFL draft. Due to Sam's rise in popularity, fans have forgotten that the Tigers also boasted a projected top-15 selection opposite their socially progressive pass-rusher last season.
The Giants have shown a preference for defensive playmakers of Ealy's nature. The once-indomitable Jason Pierre-Paul is slumping heavily, and veteran Justin Tuck, who now eyes free agency, is not getting any younger. New York's defense would benefit mightily from an infusion of young blood at the defensive end position.
Not all of Ealy's workouts at the combine were extraordinary, but his 6.83-second three-cone drill made for one of the position group's fastest times. Miller describes him as "exactly the type of long, athletic, powerful defender the Giants need" in their future lineup.
Measuring 6-foot-4 and weighing 273 pounds, Ealy makes for an enticing option to integrate alongside Pierre-Paul and fellow youngster Damontre Moore in 2014.
Second Round: G David Yankey, Stanford
The Giants won't be able to ignore the pressing need for an offensive lineman any further than the second round, though. They will look primarily to boost the interior, where age, injury and free agency create a shroud of uncertainty. Will the venerable Chris Snee retire? Will former San Francisco 49er wind up a cap casualty? Will Kevin Boothe's jackknife-like versatility make him too valuable not to re-sign?
It may not provide an answer to any of the aforementioned questions, but drafting Stanford guard David Yankey in the second round would alleviate some of the pressure they're surely causing. Miller predicts this is the move New York makes in the second round.
Yankey is the fourth-ranked guard prospect in this year's draft, according to WalterFootball.com. Their report on Yankey calls the two-time consensus All-American "a technician who is a balanced run- and pass-defender." Miller called him the "best guard in the class" back around Christmas, likening him to a meaner David DeCastro (24th overall selection to Pittsburgh in 2012).
At the combine, Yankee produced run-of-the-mill numbers for an offensive lineman. His 5.48-second 40-yard dash won't turn any heads nor will his 28.5-inch vertical jump. His 22 reps on the bench press may actually be slightly concerning.
I wouldn't look too far, however, into an offensive lineman's workout results at the combine—Giants fans will remember Mitch Petrus once tied the record with 45 reps on the bench press.
NFL.com's prospect profile for Yankey may put it best when it describes him as a "[b]ig, physical, smart, serviceable offensive guard who will not score many style points, but generally gets the job done."
I'm more interested in the shape of Yankey's body, rather than its ability to run the 40. He measured 6-foot-6 and weighed 315 pounds in Indianapolis. His arms were stretched to 34 inches, while his hands were recorded to be 9.5 inches. That frame, in combination with his game film, makes for a more viable indication of his potential as a pro than does his combine performance.
Third Round: CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska
In the third round of the draft, the Giants may acquire Corey Webster's eventual replacement at starting cornerback opposite Prince Amukamara.
NFL journeyman Trumaine McBride held down that duty for most of 2013, but he, Terrell Thomas and Aaron Ross are about to become unrestricted free agents. Aside from Amukamara, that leaves just Jayron Hosley and Charles James, an inexperienced duo, under contract through 2014.
It would be fitting for Amukamara's new counterpart to hail from the same university. That'd be the case if the Giants land Nebraska cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste in the third round.
Amukamara is a physical corner, but this new Cornhusker fits the bill for Seattle's Super Bowl-winning "Legion of Boom" secondary. A defensive back with a massive frame is quickly becoming one of the league's most valued commodities, so New York would be landing a gem in the 6-foot-3, 218-pound Jean-Baptiste.
Miller pumped the brakes on Jean-Baptiste back in January: "Stanley Jean-Baptiste isn't quite Richard Sherman, but coaches and scouts will see a lot of similarities and a clay they can work with in his Nebraska game film and the abilities shown in practice."
Jean-Baptiste showed great range and explosion at the combine—not in his dashes and shuttles but rather in his leaping workouts. He registered a vertical jump of 41.5 inches and a broad jump of 128 inches. No defensive back outdid Jean-Baptiste's vertical mark; his broad mark was matched by three and eclipsed by just two.
Providing a succinct, yet effective, description of both Jean-Baptiste's ability and appearance is his prospect profile on NFL.com: "a receiver-turned-cornerback in a safety's body."
Fourth Round: RB Andre Williams, Boston College
Do the Giants finally land a mid-round steal in 2014? Defensive end Damontre Moore, a third-rounder in 2013, is primed to be that player, but tight end Adrien Robinson, a fourth-rounder in 2012, serves as a potent reminder of past hopes dashed.
Going back even further, offensive lineman James Brewer (fourth round, 2011), linebacker Phillip Dillard (fourth round, 2010), wide receiver Ramses Barden (third round, 2009) and tight end Travis Beckum (third round, 2009) comprise a recent history of mid-round disappointments.
The Giants can finally luck out in the fourth round if they select Boston College running back Andre Williams, who snuck in the back door as a Heisman finalist late in 2013. Williams completed his senior campaign with the Eagles not before racking up a towering 2,102 yards and 17 touchdowns on a total of 329 carries.
Miller has the Giants selecting a running back in the fourth round: Florida State's Devonta Freeman. Williams, on the other hand, is projected one pick earlier, going to the Tennessee Titans with the 12th pick in the fourth round. I'll flip these two picks. The Bleacher Report draft guru wrote back in November that Williams "has the performance, production and tools to be a star at the next level."
The combine helped Williams' case, too. His broad jump (129") was among the positional group's best. While his 4.56-second 40-yard dash time was standard, Williams' 20-yard shuttle (4.06 sec.) and 60-yard shuttle (11.62 sec.) times placed him among an elite group of running back prospects.
Williams is a thicker back that packs a 230-pound punch in a 5-foot-11 frame. His prospect profile on NFL.com promises a back who is a "very strong, powerful runner with the instincts, contact balance and toughness to carry a heavy workload." WalterFootball.com ranks him the 10th best running back in this year's draft.
However, Williams burly build, insane college production and association with the Heisman has me visualizing about another failed draft pick of New York's: Wisconsin's Ron Dayne (11th overall, 2000).
Fifth Round: TE Richard Rodgers, California
Miller has the Giants selecting a defensive tackle—Tennessee's Daniel McCullers—in the fifth round, but I'm going to go in a completely different direction. Many fans would like to see this taken care of earlier in the draft, but I see New York finally addressing its tight end situation in the fifth round.
From Kevin Boss to Jake Ballard to Martellus Bennett to Brandon Myers, the Giants have fielded a different starter every season since 2010.
That isn't likely to change in 2014, as last year's starter, Myers, had his contract automatically voided earlier this month. A big blocker in backup tight end Bear Pascoe is slated to hit free agency next month, leaving just Adrien Robinson and Larry Donnell as New York's only options guaranteed to be under contract through 2014.
The Giants can bring in another young competitor by selecting California tight end Richard Rodgers. Once weighing 275 pounds, Rodgers trimmed 30 pounds off his frame to play wide receiver at 245 during his final season at Cal. He weighed in at 257 pounds at the combine, as he looks to transition back to tight end as a pro. He is 6-foot-4.
Perhaps not the ideal in-line blocker, Rodgers' true value lies within his receiving ability. A couple weeks ago, Miller wrote about Rodgers' ability to line up all over the offense and release downfield for a pass.
His brief write-up claimed the Pac-12 tight end "has the movement skills to play in any type of passing offense." That's good news for offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, whose new scheme remains generally unknown.
Rodgers' numbers at the combine, particularly his 4.87-second 40-yard dash and 16 reps on the bench press, were not impressive. Still, he's the fifth-ranked tight end in the 2014 draft class, according to WalterFootball.com, and he caught 39 passes for 608 yards and a touchdown last season.
Sixth Round: G Jon Halapio, Florida
Earlier this week, I wrote about some "hidden gems" New York should have noticed at the combine. None of them made this mock draft until now—in Round 6, the Giants could select Florida guard Jon Halapio. In this scenario, he joins Yankey as the second offensive lineman selected in this year's draft.
As I wrote earlier, the Giants' interior offensive line is in a state of tumult. Nothing is certain, and the Giants must do all they can—in free agency and the draft—to bolster this positional unit as much as possible. Quarterback Eli Manning's livelihood depends upon it.
That's why the Giants double up along the offensive line and select Halapio, a player projected by Miller to be selected by the Detroit Lions one slot after the Giants pick in the sixth round. Miller thinks Wake Forest wide receiver Michael Campanaro is a better fit with Big Blue, but I disagree.
Halapio is the eighth-ranked guard in this year's draft, according to WalterFootball.com. The site's report on Halapio says the Florida guard "could be nice value in the mid-rounds" but only if he can stay healthy. The big blocker was bounced to the sideline a couple of times as a Gator last season.
At the combine, Halapio measured 6-foot-3 and weighed 323 pounds, making him a mammoth of a professional prospect. His arm length (33.625") and hand length (10.25") were both rather monstrous. His NFL.com prospect profile calls him "a hulking short-area guard whose best traits are intangible."
It's a lukewarm endorsement of a massive man, whose talent is yet to be characterized as NFL-caliber.