5 Hidden Gems the New York Giants Should Have Noticed at the Combine

Patricia Traina@Patricia_TrainaFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 24, 2015

5 Hidden Gems the New York Giants Should Have Noticed at the Combine

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Brandon Scherff. Vic Beasley. Randy Gregory. Landon Collins. Amari Cooper. Marcus Mariota. Jameis Winston.

    Those are just a few of the many draft prospects who have become household names going as far back as the East-West Shrine Game and, more recently, the concluded NFL Scouting Combine.

    Then there are the under-the-radar types who have backed up their college game tape with solid showings in the college all-star games and the combine. So let's turn the spotlight on those potential hidden gems that might be a fit for the New York Giants.

WR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

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    General manager Jerry Reese has not budged from his assertion that the team can count on having a fully healthy Victor Cruz back for 2015.

    “We are hoping and praying that he comes back 100 percent and be the Victor Cruz that we know,” Reese said, adding, “but you can’t put 100 percent in that basket.”

    That, along with the fact that Rueben Randle is entering the final year of his rookie contract this year, is a good enough reason to add another receiver to a group that for this year at any rate will feature Odell Beckham Jr.

    One such receiving prospect whose combine showing might very well have helped him emerge from the shadows is receiver Tyler Lockett (5’10”, 182 lbs) of Kansas State.

    Lockett was clocked at a 4.40 in the 40-yard dash, the fifth-best showing in that drill among the receivers at the combine.

    According to Jon Morse of SB Nation’s Bring on the Cats blog, Lockett had two perfect runs in the seven-ball gauntlet, catching all of the balls with his hands as opposed to against his body.

    Morse also reported that Lockett also made a highlight-reel type of catch when he dove for and came up with an off-target pass.

    Projected as a third-round draft pick by NFL Draft Scout, it would be surprising if the Giants take a receiver that high in the draft.

OLB Edmond Robinson, Newberry

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    From the school that brought you receiver Corey Washington—that would be Newberry College, in case you forgot—comes the next potential hidden gem: outside linebacker Edmond Robinson (6’3”, 245 lbs).  

    Robinson’s official 40-yard dash time of 4.61 seconds was the ninth-best among outside linebackers, according to NFL Draft Scout.

    Possessing a long, lean build that Lance Zierlein of NFL.com writes has the room for more bulk.

    He also showed versatility in college, playing over the tight end, against the slot receiver and dropping back to safety on a handful of snaps, though as Zierlein noted, Robinson didn’t dominate his competition.

    Possessing a quick first step and fundamentally sound tackling techniques, Robinson is likely a developmental prospect.

    If he works on his strength and adds bulk to his frame, he could eventually project to the weak-side linebacker spot, currently a need for the Giants if they do not re-sign unrestricted free agent Jacquian Williams.

S Jaquiski Tartt, Samford

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    Another small-school prospect who might have opened a few more eyes at the combine is Samford safety Jaquiski Tartt (6’1”, 221 lbs), listed as a strong safety by NFL Draft Scout.

    Rated as a top-performer in the 40-yard dash (4.53 seconds) and broad jump (124 inches) among defensive backs, Tartt became the first Samford player to have participated in the Senior Bowl, according to Cheryl Wray of Alabama Media Group.

    In January, NFL.com analyst Charles Davis (h/t Mike Huguenin, NFL.com) praised Tartt’s skill set, describing him as "an absolute missile" with "SEC skills," despite playing at the FCS level.

    NFL Draft Scout rates Tartt as its third-best safety and a top-100 draft prospect who likely goes off the board in the third round. 

    If the Giants do not re-sign Antrel Rolle—head coach Tom Coughlin told reporters at the combine that the team would like Rolle back but added that they have financial restrictions in making that happen—that would leave Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe under contract.

    The Giants will be adding to that talent pool. It’s probably safe to assume they will look to grab a safety in free agency as well as at least one prospect in the draft to help fill out that depth.

    Will the draft prospect be Tartt? It’s too soon to say, but the thought of him and Berhe, whom safeties coach David Merritt described as a “missile” last summer, is very intriguing.

OL Ali Marpet, Hobart

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    At the start of the draft process, very few people knew who offensive lineman Ali Marpet of Hobart College was.

    Times have quickly changed thanks to Marpet’s determination to become the first player from Hobart to be drafted since halfback Fred King was drafted in 1937, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com.

    Eric Edholm of Yahoo Sports reported that Marpet held his own against potential top-10 draft pick defensive tackle Danny Shelton of Washington in the Senior Bowl.

    Marpet added to his growing legend by posting some impressive numbers at the combine, particularly his 4.98-second 40-time (1.74-second 10-yard split), which was the best of the offensive linemen.

    Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton offered this take on Marpet: 

    Not only is he quick enough to pull across the formation as the lead blocker, but he is also strong enough in the hands to stone defenders who get into his body. He's a solid technician who plays with leverage and length consistently. It's impressive for any prospect to look so good in a setting like the Senior Bowl, let alone a small-school name.

    NFL Draft Scout has Marpet, a college tackle, as their seventh-best guard.

    If the Giants, who desperately need offensive line help, hope to get Marpet—Charlie Campbell of WalterFootball.com reported that Giants representatives had met with Marpet at the Senior Bowl—they might have to be ready to grab him in Day 2 of the draft.

DL Marcus Hardison, Arizona State

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Arizona State defensive lineman Marcus Hardison (6’3”, 307 lbs.) wasn’t among the workout warriors at the combine, and in fact, was only listed as having benched 27 reps in the bench press.

    Still, it’s hard to ignore his size, which would likely make him an NFL defensive tackle, a position where the Giants could use another infusion of youth.

    Primarily a pass-rushing specialist, Hardison possesses more than adequate strength and good initial quickness off the ball, according to NFL Draft Scout’s Rob Rang, who also opines that Hardison could be just scratching the surface of his potential.

    However, Hardison, whom NDS projects to go in the fourth round, needs to work on improving his base in order to better anchor against the run.

    NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein notes that Hardison lacks a solid base, which results in him being easily redirected by stronger run-blockers.

    Patricia Traina covers the Giants for Inside Football, the Journal Inquirer and Sports Xchange. All quotes and information obtained firsthand unless otherwise sourced. Follow me on Twitter @Patricia_Traina.

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