New York Giants: Players to keep an eye on at NFL Combine (Part I)

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With the 12th pick in the NFL draft, the New York Giants select….. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will declare on May 8th; sometime between 10:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. before a large contingent of Giants’ fans in attendance at Radio City Music Hall.

Although there is no consensus number one pick, this draft appears to be deep in front line talent that will have an immediate impact in the league. Selecting at number 12, Big Blue will have an opportunity to choose a player who will have a high probability of becoming a starter, and hopefully impact player, this season.

In his year-end press conference, team co-owner John Mara alluded to draft day gambles that have not panned out for the team. Later on in his remarks, Mara also praised the scouting staff for their work, so the implication is that general manager Jerry Reese should be more cautious in how he goes about restocking the Giants’ cupboard this off season.

Despite the fact that no player has risen up to be the consensus number one, it appears likely that these five players will go 1 through 5 in the draft: Jadaveon Clowney DE (South Carolina), Blake Bortles QB (Central Florida), Johnny Manziel QB (Texas A&M), Teddy Bridgewater QB (Louisville) and Jake Matthews OT (Texas A&M).

Three other players appear likely to go in the top ten: Khalil Mack LB (Buffalo), Sammy Watkins WR (Clemson) and Greg Robinson OT (Auburn), leaving just three selections that will determine who is available for the Giants at number 12.

As the NFL Combine gets rolling this weekend, here are some players (last names A-L) Giant fans should keep an eye on (listed in alphabetical order):

Anthony Barr LB (UCLA): At one time, Barr was a consensus top ten pick, but draft predictors may have gotten buyers’ remorse as his position has slid to the late teens and in some cases into the 20-29 range lately. Face it, the chance that the Giants are interested in Barr is remote, but if he has an outstanding combine, then he could work his way back up the charts, which would be free up another player for New York to select.

Derek Carr QB (Fresno State): No, the Giants will not select a quarterback with their number one draft pick this year, but there are several teams ahead of the G-men who would like to. Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland and Minnesota could all use a signal caller, so that’s five teams for three QBs. Past drafts have shown that teams will reach for quarterbacks, and if that happens, Carr will have to be the guy. In addition, if Carr has a decent combine, then the Giants could potentially find a trade partner for the 12th pick, and acquire an asset or two while dropping down.

Brandon Coleman WR (Rutgers): The only Rutgers’ player at the combine, Coleman has the size and strength that the Giants’ covet. With so many needs, it would be hard to imagine that New York would be in a position to invest more than a third round pick in a receiver, so this may only be an exercise in tire kicking for the G-men. More important than his 40-yard dash time, would be his vertical leap, as well as to see if his injuries that plagued him this past season are healed.

Darqueze Dennard CB (Michigan State): Scouts will be watching to see if Dennard is a legitimate 5-11, as well as seeing if his 40-yard dash time is in fact 4.52 seconds. His vertical leap will be important as well, but it would be hard to suggest that the Detroit Lions will select the local Michigan State product with the number 10 pick if his speed and size are not as advertised. His performance is important for the Giants, so that another player can drop to their selection.

Eric Ebron TE (North Carolina): Invariably one player shoots up the draft charts because of his athletic ability, and this year that player may be Eric Ebron. Draftniks are comparing Ebron favorably to Vernon Davis, but he would need a team willing to invest a high pick in a tight end. If Ebron demonstrates off the charts athleticism, then he may end up a top ten pick, which would benefit the Giants, who are not likely to bite on a tight end at number 12.

Mike Evans WR (Texas A&M): Evans has great size (6-5, 225 lbs.) to go along with 4.5 speed. If his forty yard dash time is legitimate, he would be a tempting pick to replace the soon to be departed Hakeem Nicks. The only question remains, do the Giants go after a player when they already have Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan in the fold? This may the type of gamble that John Mara cautioning Jerry Reese about, New York also needs playmakers, and this kid appears to be one.

C.J. Fiedorowicz TE (Iowa): At 6-6, 262 lbs., Fiedorowicz reminds many of another former Big Ten tight end who played for the Giants recently. By all accounts, he is a solid blocker, and the criticism about him is that he does not possess breakaway speed. Neither did Howard Cross, Mark Bavaro, Kevin Boss or Jake Ballard, so all that’s left is to see what kind of hands and strength the kid has. In a perfect world, the G-men would love to snap him up in the fourth round.

Carlos Hyde RB (Ohio State): With David Wilson on the mend, and Andre Brown being an unrestricted free agent, the Giants are woefully thin at running back. While the team could target a free agent like James Starks, formerly of Green Bay, the new NFL has teams pick up valuable running backs in the second round (i.e.-Eddie Lacy, Montee Ball). This redshirt senior appears to be NFL ready, and he would likely be available for the Giants at pick 44.

Cyrus Kouandijo OT (Alabama): The fan base is clamoring for offensive line help, and who can blame them. New York’s o-line was a mess last season, and it needs an injection of youth and talent. Last year, three of the first four draft picks were offensive tackles, and many mock drafts had the Giants selecting D.J. Fluker of Alabama at number 19. Fluker went to San Diego with the number 11 pick, so the Giants “settled” for Justin Pugh, who provided good value for the team. Tackles are at a premium, and while Kouandijo is rated the fifth best tackle in this draft. New York should take a good look in case their desired selections have been gobbled up, or the team trades down and gets additional draft picks.

Taylor Lewan OT (Michigan): A red shirt senior from a solid Big Ten program, Lewan appears to be the likely draft pick of the New York Giants. Watching film of the big tackle against Jadaveon Clowney in last year’s Outback Bowl, demonstrated that he could hold his own against top notch opposition. The only question may be that he gets snapped up before the Giants can select him at number 12, and he doesn’t appear to be the type of talent that the team would move up and draft. Perhaps the team would like for him to do well, but not too well.


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