2015 New York Giants Mock Draft: Early-Offseason 7-Round Predictions
Such will be the case for the Giants, who, barring a trade, will draft ninth overall.
This upcoming draft class will actually be an important one for general manager Jerry Reese. Already the Giants have begun to erase the bad taste left by the failed 2011 and 2012 draft classes with much stronger classes taken in 2013 and 2014.
Another solid draft class in 2015 will not only strengthen the foundation of the franchise even further, it should also position it for some major transitions at certain positions where age and/or injury have been a problem.
With that, here is a very, very, very early seven-round mock draft based on perceived team needs.
Round 1: OT Brandon Scherff, 6’5”, 320 Pounds, Iowa
Welcome to year two of the Giants' offensive-line rebuild. While it didn’t look like it at times this past season, the Giants' offensive line, which in 2013 allowed a ridiculously high 39 sacks against quarterback Eli Manning, did improve.
When factoring the number of all pressures allowed—sacks, hurries and hits—the Giants, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required) finished with the 12th-fewest quarterback pressures in the league (157) for a pass-blocking efficiency rate of 81.0.
The run blocking was another story. The Giants finished with the 22nd-best rushing offense in the NFL, averaging 100.1 yards per game.
If head coach Tom Coughlin is going to insist on balance, then the offensive-line rebuild project needs to be completed this year.
That rebuild should see Weston Richburg move to center, Geoff Schwartz move to right guard, and, regardless of what he wants, Justin Pugh move to left guard, next to left tackle Will Beatty.
So what about right tackle?
Glad you asked.
And the Pick is…OT Brandon Scherff, 6’5”, 320 lbs, Iowa
If there is one thing the Giants were missing in their run blocking, it was a road-grader. Scherff could very well be that missing piece.
According to a preliminary scouting report by Dane Brugler and Rob Rang of NFL Draft Scout, Scherff is an “outstanding drive blocker with the punch to jolt and drive his man where he wants with above-average hand use to attack rushers, keeping separation between him and his target.”
It’s been a while since the Giants have had an offensive lineman capable of driving his man around like a kiddie bumper car.
If New York wants to become more physical in the trenches on the offensive side of the ball, Scherff makes for an intriguing addition.
Round 2: WR Sammie Coates, 6’2”, 201 Lbs, Auburn
Let’s play “Read the Tea Leaves” for a moment.
First, the Giants, who, per Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News spent a whopping $116.3 million in free agency last year, are not going to go crazy again this year.
"Last year we had to turn the roster over,” general manager Jerry Reese told reporters at his year-end press conference. “We are not going to go out and spend a huge amount like we did this past offseason in free agency."
Second, team president and CEO John Mara, when asked about defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who’s due to become an unrestricted free agent, said that while the team would like to have Pierre-Paul back at the right price, hinted that the franchise tag, which would cost the Giants upward of $13 million for the defensive end, could be coming.
“I would be very surprised if he was not a Giant next year,” Mara said.
If the Giants, who, per Over the Cap, are due to have approximately $16.758 million in cap space (based on the assumption the 2015 cap is at $140 million), then it doesn’t take an advanced degree in math to see that New York won’t have very much cap room to grab a veteran, even if they do trim some overweight contracts from their books.
Third, Reese revealed that while the team is hopeful of receiver Victor Cruz making a complete recovery from the torn patellar injury he suffered earlier in the season, admitted that he’ll have to prepare much like he did last year when running back David Wilson’s future was in doubt.
“You’ve got to prepare as if, ‘What if Victor Cruz doesn’t come back?’” Reese told reporters.
If the Giants, then, are dreaming of a wide receiver trio that’s going to keep opposing defensive coordinators up at night, then it might not be a bad idea to tap into the early rounds of the draft to come up with a young prospect to complement Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle—just in case Cruz isn’t ready.
And the Pick is…WR Sammie Coates, 6’2”, 201 lbs, Auburn
If a tall, fast and strong receiver is on the Giants' wish list, then Coates appears to fit the bill.
According to NFL Draft Scout, Coates "has reportedly been clocked in the 4.3-s in the 40-yard dash" and has fared well throughout his collegiate career against press coverage, a tactic that defensive coordinators have successfully used against the Giants receivers in the past.
NFL Draft Scout’s early report also notes that Coates “tracks the ball well over his shoulder” and has “explosive leaping ability” in making the tough catches in traffic.
While it’s unknown if Coates’ skills can translate into a scoring machine, if he shows that deep-threat ability like what Cruz showed prior to his injury, the youngster could make for an intriguing option if he’s there when the Giants’ second-round pick rolls around.
Round 3: ILB Denzel Perryman, 5'11", 242 Lbs, Miami (FL)
In 2014, the Giants began planning for a changing of the guard at linebacker when they selected Devon Kennard in the fifth round to play one of the outside linebackers.
Kennard delivered, despite having a few injuries that got in his way. So now that Jerry Reese and company found their mojo in drafting good linebackers, it might be time to see if they can come up with another future starter, this time in the middle.
Before discussing the pick, let’s first discuss the man who currently holds the job, Jon Beason.
In the very short time he has been with the Giants, Beason has clearly been the best of the linebackers fielded by the Giants—that is when he has been on the field.
His intangibles—intelligence, leadership, huddle command and locker-room presence—are like nothing the Giants have seen at the position since Antonio Pierce led the huddle.
However, there are flaws to Beason, a three-time Pro Bowl linebacker, that have to be acknowledged.
He will turn 30 years old this month, a young age for everyday life, but it's also an age that typically signals the beginning of the end for many NFL players.
He has an unfavorable injury history that has seen him play in just 24 games since 2011, his injuries all affecting his legs, which have lost some of the speed that he had when he first came out of college.
Per Over The Cap, he will have a $7.366 million cap figure this year and a $6.566 million cap figure in 2016, the final year of his three-year deal signed last offseason.
Three strikes? On paper, yes, though if the Giants were to remove him from the roster this year, they would be looking at a $3.855 million savings but a $3.533 million dead-money cap hit.
Rather than trade in one veteran for another at this position, it’s time for the Giants to consider drafting his replacement, a youngster whom Beason, always willing to help a younger teammate realize his potential, can groom into the next leader on this Giants team.
And the Pick is…ILB Denzel Perryman, 5'11", 242 lbs, Miami (FL)
Like Beason, Denzel Perryman is from “The U.”
Perryman, who like Beason wears No. 52, is also very close in size and weight as the Giants' defensive co-captain, who is listed at 6’0” and 232 pounds.
Can Perryman, who played outside linebacker for the Hurricanes, but whom Derek Stephens of NFL Draft Scout projects at inside linebacker, develop into the kind of impact inside linebacker Beason became?
A look at his four-year college career shows a very productive player who finished with 351 career tackles, 27 for a loss, 4.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles and 10 pass breakups, stats that would suggest that he can be an every-down linebacker.
WalterFootball.com, who called Perryman a “unit leader,” summarized the senior’s skills as follows:
Perryman is a tough run-defender who can get off blocks and make tackles. He does a nice job of reading his keys and flowing to the ball. That allows Perryman to get in on a lot of tackles. He also attacks in the tackle box and is not making tackles downfield.
Perryman does a nice job of snuffing out runs to help his defense with down-and-distance situations. While he isn't a burner linebacker, he is quick and plays fast via his instincts.
By drafting the team’s future inside linebacker, the Giants can take their time in having him develop into a solid contributor under Beason's guidance.
Round 4: FS Kurtis Drummond, 6'1", 200 Lbs, Michigan State
While part of that was due to breakdowns in coverage, the Giants really didn’t have a solid free safety candidate who played his angles well and/or had the speed to keep up with the action in center field.
With Stevie Brown, who didn’t look to be as fast in his first year back from ACL surgery, and Quintin Demps, who replaced Brown in the starting lineup only to lose the job, both set to be unrestricted free agents, it might be time for the Giants to look in another direction. (Antrel Rolle, also due to be an unrestricted free agent, is a strong safety.)
And the Pick is…FS Kurtis Drummond, 6'1", 200 lbs, Michigan State
Kurtis Drummond, part of the Michigan State “No Fly Zone” defense, is a big reason why the Spartans' pass defense has recently been a top-10 unit.
According to NFL Draft Scout, Drummond, while not possessing the ideal body type for the position, more than makes up for it with his ability to anticipate, pursue and time his jumps to break up passes.
He understands pursuit angles and anticipates the action well, playing with a non-hesitant and aggressive demeanor. He shows the coordinated body control to flip-and-stick to hang with receivers vertically, using his heady instincts and quick eyes to make natural adjustments.
Drummond, who can also play in the box, also has special teams experience. WalterFootball.com praised Drummond, who can create turnovers, for his versatility and ability to perform in schemes where the free and strong safeties flip-flop responsibilities.
Drummond is a balanced safety who can execute a variety of assignments. He is versatile to defend the deep middle of the field as a free safety and has enough strength and toughness to play inside the tackle box. Drummond showed improved run tackling as a junior and was a solid contributor in run defense.
One final point regarding Drummond is that given his size and measurable, he would appear to match up well against opposing tight ends in the seam, a problem area for the Giants the last few years.
Round 5: OLB Jake Ryan, 6’3”, 235 Lbs, Michigan
Earlier in this mock draft, inside linebacker was discussed. Now it’s time to look at outside linebacker.
At this position, Mark Herzlich, Spencer Paysinger and Jacquian Williams are all set to be unrestricted free agents.
Of those three, Herzlich will probably be re-signed, perhaps to a multiyear contract, to provide depth. The 27-year-old Herzlich is coming off his best season as a pro, a season that coincided with his move to outside linebacker.
Paysinger, who came to the Giants in the same undrafted free-agent class (2011) as Herzlich, saw his snaps drastically reduced, leaving one to believe that he’s no longer in the team’s plans.
Williams, who statistically had a solid showing (albeit many of his tackles were downfield), was put on season-ending injured reserve with a head injury, his status moving forward a question mark.
Also worth noting is that veteran Jameel McClain, who looked more comfortable as an outside linebacker, is entering the final year of his contract and will turn 30 on his next birthday.
In addition, per Over The Cap, McClain, the incumbent starting strong-side linebacker, will be entering the final year of his contract in 2015.
And the Pick is…OLB Jake Ryan, 6’3”, 235 lbs, Michigan
Last year the Giants struck gold in the fifth round when they drafted outside linebacker Devon Kennard, who will be a starter moving forward.
Can history repeat itself? It’s too soon to say, but an outside linebacker prospect worth looking at is Michigan’s Jake Ryan.
According to Dane Brugler of NFL Draft Scout, Ryan, who tore his ACL in March 2013, possesses a high football IQ and is versatile enough to play any of the three positions regardless of the scheme.
Here's is what Todd McShay of ESPN Insider (subscription required) had to say about Ryan, whom he ranked as the fifth-best outside linebacker prospect:
Ryan is an instinctive player who takes good pursuit angles and covers a lot of ground. He doesn't have the closing burst to consistently chase down NFL-level backs. He's a good tackler with the ability to occasionally deliver a big hit on a quarterback, and he's solid against the passing game as well. He grades out well in terms of his intangibles.
As would likely be the case with inside linebacker, a prospect such as Ryan could spend his rookie year learning from veterans Beason and McClain on how to become a pro before the baton is ready to be passed to the youth movement.
Round 6: OG Adam Shead, 6’4”, 339 Lbs, Oklahoma
Much like the linebacker position, the Giants haven’t had a great deal of success developing offensive linemen in between the second-round selection of left tackle Will Beatty in 2009 and the recent selections of Justin Pugh (Round 1, 2013) and Weston Richburg (Round 2, 2014).
In between, the Giants rolled the dice on tackle James Brewer (Round 4, 2011), tackle/guard Brandon Mosley (Round 4, 2012) and guard Eric Herman (Round 7, 2013).
All three players have rarely seen the field. Brewer, who had a chance to nail down a starting job in 2013, was too inconsistent; as an unrestricted free agent, he's unlikely to be back.
Mosley was thought to be a strong candidate to replace Chris Snee at right guard, but somewhere along the line, his performance dropped off.
Herman, who at times showed characteristics previously shown by former Giants offensive lineman Rich Seubert, has twice failed to make the 53-man roster coming out of training camp, only joining the big boys toward the end of the last two seasons when injuries and the cap situation warranted the move.
While the Giants will no doubt add some veteran depth through free agency—Adam Snyder, who was with the team in 2014 before landing on injured reserve might be worth re-signing to a one-year qualifying offer—it’s time to look at restocking some fresh talent for development purposes.
And the Pick is…OG Adam Shead, 6’4”, 339 lbs, Oklahoma
Adam Shead, whose father Kenneth played linebacker at Nebraska, has made 28 starts at left guard, a position that could potentially be open (assuming the Giants fill it with an older veteran as a stopgap solution) if the Giants decide to pass on adding another starting tackle, a move that would push current right tackle Justin Pugh inside.
According to Dane Brugler of NFL Draft Scout, Shead (pronounced “SHED”) already has several favorable traits that might make him an attractive Day 3 pick:
Plays like a veteran with the base strength to rarely play on his heels. Shead extends well with good arm length to keep rushers from his body, delivering pop at contact with good quickness in his movements from snap to finish.
Shead, whom Brugler also notes needs to “improve his feel at the second level," would probably be at least a year away from contributing immediately.
If he is willing to do the little things necessary to expedite his transition to the NFL, there is no reason to think that Shead won't be ready to contribute at some point late in his rookie season.
Round 7: TE Sam Arneson, 6’4”, 254 Lbs, Wisconsin
Last year the Giants gambled on some relatively unknown players at the tight end position.
Those included veteran Daniel Fells, who had been out of football the year prior, and youngster Larry Donnell, who began his career on the Giants' practice squad before having to deal with injuries in the 2013 season.
Both Donnell and Fells worked out well, with Donnell showing signs of being a serviceable receiver in the passing games and Fells showing signs of being a serviceable receiver and run-blocker.
Meanwhile, the light switch finally seemed to switch on for Adrien Robinson, the team’s fourth-round draft pick from 2012, as he showed that when he set his mind to it, he could be an effective run-blocker.
Moving forward, Donnell will likely continue to see time as the starter. Robinson, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal, will be facing a make-or-break year.
Fells, who will be 32, can be a serviceable backup, but the Giants might want to get younger at that third tight end spot.
And the Pick is…TE Sam Arneson, 6’4”, 254 lbs, Wisconsin
Sam Arneson, who finished his college career with 37 receptions for 430 yards and eight touchdown, has the size to offer intrigue as a run-blocker.
According to RotoWire, Arneson, whose uncle Mike Jirschele is the third-base coach of baseball’s Kansas City Royals, is the Badgers’ best tight end prospect since Garrett Graham, chosen in the fourth round of the 2010 draft by Houston. Badge of Honor nominated an Arneson play for one of its honors:
Badger of Honor Top 10 Football Play of the Year nominee: McEvoy to Arneson for 34 and a score vs. Bowling Green - http://t.co/AfFD4Kwgkz— Badger of Honor (@BadgerOfHonorFS) December 17, 2014
Patricia Traina covers the New York Giants for Inside Football, the Journal Inquirer and The Sports Xchange. All quotes and information obtained firsthand unless otherwise sourced. Follow me on Twitter @Patricia_Traina.