2014 Draft Sleepers Who'd Fit Perfectly with the New York Giants
We're all looking forward to Thursday, May 8, when pro football will take over primetime television once again and live broadcast the opening round of the 2014 NFL draft.
Some fans may be equally excited to see whom the New York Giants select in Rounds 2 and 3 on the following day.
But how many diehards will still be psyched enough to tune into Saturday's action, as the G-Men scoop up their far less celebrated, late-round selections?
Picks made on the final day will make up the bulk of New York's 2014 draft class. The Giants lost their seventh-round selection to the Carolina Panthers in the Jon Beason trade, but they were awarded an additional fifth-round compensatory pick. The team possesses a single pick in both the fourth and sixth rounds.
Some of these picks never make the team; others are sleepers.
This slideshow will highlight five potential sleepers the Giants should target on Day 3 of the draft.
*All NFL Scouting Combine results courtesy of NFL.com.
WR Cody Hoffman, BYU
Lately, Giants wide receiver Rueben Randle has endured some severe criticism, some of which I believe is unwarranted.
People want to harp on his mistakes and miscommunications with quarterback Eli Manning, yet no one is willing to point out that he led the team in touchdown grabs last season with six. As the No. 3 receiver, Randle did this while getting significantly less of Manning's attention than either Hakeem Nicks or Victor Cruz received in 2013.
Give the guy a shot at as the team's top outside receiving threat before you deem him incapable of doing the job. Heck, he has to be better than Nicks was last year, right?
Anyway, if the rumors are true and the Giants need another outside receiving threat, they must target Cody Hoffman out of BYU in one of the later rounds.
Hoffman completed his career with Brigham Young as the school's most prolific receiver.
Hoffman is BYU's record-holder for career receptions (260), receiving yards (3,612) and receiving touchdowns (33). In addition to 18 career 100-yard games with the Cougars, Hoffman caught at least one pass in 43 consecutive games.
The Cougar receiver is at his best on the biggest stages. In four career bowl games, Hoffman recorded 137, 122, 114 and 167 yards. In each of his first two bowl appearances (2010 and 2011), he hauled in a hat-trick of touchdowns.
Hoffman is a perennial standout among teams without a conference. In 2013, he was an All-Independent team honorable mention.
What I like more than anything else about Hoffman is his size (6'4", 223 pounds). Most late-round receivers are going to have bodies better suited for the slot, as all the prospects with elite builds are gobbled up early on.
Hoffman, on the other hand, has legitimate outside receiver size, and he projects to be available late in the draft. If he can be a playmaker along the sidelines, I don't see why he isn't the Giants' guy.
TE Joe Don Duncan, Dixie State
The Giants need to locate a legitimate pass-catching tight end to fill in as the team's immediate starter.
The signing of former Chicago Bear and Seattle Seahawk Kellen Davis in free agency does not solve this need, as he is considered primarily an in-line blocker. Davis will likely fill the void Bear Pascoe, who remains unsigned, will leave behind in 2014.
New York needs a receiving threat at tight end so badly that many fans are calling for the selection of Eric Ebron in the first round, 12th overall.
I am here to tell you to pump the breaks.
While Ebron is certainly a unique talent when it comes to pass-catching, he and many of the other tight ends near the top of this draft class lack elite blocking ability.
The NFL has become a league in which tight ends are not asked to do as much as they once were. They are more often split out as receivers than positioned in tight to the line. We are witnessing the results of this shift as college football's top tight end prospects are more often billed as athletic receivers rather than the all-around athletes that once made the position so unique.
OK, congratulations if you made it past my diatribe on the evolution of the tight end position. Now, here's my point: The Giants should target Joe Don Duncan of Dixie State to be their next tight end.
I'm not just saying this because I like his name (I do); I'm saying this because he'd be a good fit in New York. Also, the Giants need not waste a high draft pick to select him.
Duncan has good size (6'3", 268 pounds) and strength (posted TE-best 35 reps on bench at the combine) to excel as a blocker. However, his athleticism and tremendous ball skills make him a solid pass-catcher as well. He started all 10 games last year, recording 71 catches for over 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns.
He is a throwback who should be well liked by Tom Coughlin, who is a bit old school to say the least.
DE Will Clarke, West Virginia
The Giants are not set at defensive end after the departure of veteran captain Justin Tuck, who signed with the Oakland Raiders earlier this offseason.
Mathias Kiwanuka and Jason Pierre-Paul have their respective question marks after both players suffered a down year in 2013. Pierre-Paul at least had injuries to blame; perhaps Kiwanuka can pin it on endless positional shifts in years passed.
Behind those two, the Giants are putting a lot of weight into second-year defensive end Damontre Moore, who contributed on an extremely limited basis a season ago.
They did sign ex-Denver Broncos draft bust Robert Ayers, so that's reassuring...I guess.
I don't think the Giants should spend an early round pick on a defensive end, unless a premier talent falls into their laps and they simply cannot pass on it. I will, however, be pulling for a late-round, sleeper defensive end to be selected in 2014.
And the guy I've got my eye on is Will Clarke out of West Virginia.
The 271-pound Clarke, has great length (6'6") for a defensive end—or any position, really—and his specialty is disrupting plays before they even get started. With the Mountaineers last season, he recorded 17 tackles for a loss, six sacks, three pass deflections and a forced fumble.
Clarke is the type of player whose whereabouts must be accounted for by opposing offenses on every play.
He is not an athletic specimen, with none of his combine numbers ranking among the best at the defensive end position, but I think he could be a gamer at the NFL level.
You can't teach size, and, if Clarke learns how to use his properly, he will be a dominant force as a professional.
OT Billy Turner, North Dakota St.
Although they signed Geoff Schwartz, John Jerry, Charles Brown and J.D. Walton to bolster the offensive line, the Giants' work is not done in this area.
They must start building for the future, now that significant talent for the 2014 season has been put in place.
After all, it's time New York turns things around when searching out sleepers along the offensive line.
Late-round O-line projects have failed New York in the past. James Brewer, a fourth-round selection in 2011, has largely been a disappointment in his three seasons with the team. Fellow fourth-rounder Brandon Mosley (2012) earned just one start last season, as the Giants floundered to keep an aching offensive line afloat.
Selected after Mosley in the sixth round of the 2012 draft, Matt McCants was cut and subsequently signed by the Oakland Raiders before he ever made an impact in New York. And there's also Eric Herman, a seventh-rounder in last year's draft who was too raw to ever be promoted from the practice squad.
If the Giants decide, once again, to experiment with a late-round O-lineman, they can do so with confidence if the selection is Billy Turner of North Dakota State.
Turner has turned many heads early this offseason. After anchoring the Bison through three consecutive FCS championships, Turner (6'6", 314 pounds) is ready to take his talent to the next level. The burly, bull-dozing blocker has the athletic tools to make the leap to the professional ranks.
Turner put forth a dominating performance in the 2013 FCS Championship, which earned him a trip to the Senior Bowl. Some scouts in attendance believe he has many Pro Bowls in his future. Like many other small school prospects, however, Turner must improve his technique to thrive in the NFL.
With the assistance of a revamped Giants coaching staff, this sleeper could fine-tune the technical aspects his game. He could eventually become a driving force in New York's offensive turnaround.
RB Isaiah Crowell, Alabama State
I think Rashad Jennings will shore up the Giants running back conundrum, and if David Wilson makes a healthy recovery that's even better.
But there's just something about a sleeper running back that always gets me a little excited.
The Giants have a track record of selecting running backs with high upside late in the draft; they have done so with mixed results.
Ahmad Bradshaw, a seventh-round selection in 2007, was an essential cog in New York's two most recent Super Bowl victories—he provided the game-winning score in Super Bowl XLVI. Da'Rel Scott, a seventh-rounder in 2011, never fit with the Giants and recorded fewer than 100 yards before he was cut midway through last season.
The jury is still out on the future of fellow seventh-round running back Michael Cox, who was selected in the final round of last year's draft.
And if Cox isn't the man, Isaiah Crowell of Alabama State might be.
Crowell was once the SEC Freshman of the Year (2011), but the former Georgia Bulldog was dismissed from the team following his breakout campaign due to an arrest on weapons charges. Crowell played each of the past two seasons at Alabama State, and he was listed among Saturday Down South's top 10 SEC recruiting busts of the past decade (via Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).
While Crowell's collegiate career may not have gone as expected (he came to Georgia as the top-rated running back recruit in the nation), he could resurrect his all-star career at the next level if the Giants choose to draft him in one of the later rounds.
Last season, as a junior, Crowell rushed for 1,121 yards and 15 touchdowns. Crowell reportedly prepped for the NFL Scouting Combine with South Carolina's Jadaveon Clowney, per Mike Huguenin of NFL.com.
It must have worked, too. Crowell finished among the best running backs in this year's draft class with 23 reps on the bench press.