If the Giants don’t pick a defensive lineman in Round 2, Alabama safety Landon Collins could be their guy.
UPDATE/PREDICTION: I wasn’t going to make a second-round prediction, but … well, give the people what they want. I actually believe Tom Coughlin that he wants to improve his defensive line in this draft, and I have no doubt they are eyeing some available defensive tackles. But after looking at the Giants’ roster, talking to some people and pondering the possibilities, I’ve decided to go with the obvious. So with the eighth pick of the second round of the NFL draft (40th overall), I’ll project the Giants to take Alabama safety Landon Collins. Too many people now have told me he’s their target. One team source even said they would consider trading up for him. I don’t know if he’ll last eight picks. If he goes in the first seven, make sure you follow me on Twitter and I’ll try to come up with another name. But if he’s there, I believe he’s the Giants’ guy.
Tom Coughlin was listing all the things he loves about Ereck Flowers, the Giants’ first-round draft pick, from his “aircraft carrier” size, to his strength, to his “outstanding feet.” Those things, Coughlin said, were why the Giants were excited, “together with the desire to improve both our offensive and our defensive lines, to be honest with you.”
There was emphasis in his voice on the “and our defensive lines” part. So was that a hint at what’s to come?
There seems to be no doubt that it is, though it’s hard to say whether he was foreshadowing the Giants next pick, which comes at the eighth pick in the second round (40th overall) on Friday night. The Giants have been trying to upgrade their defensive line, particularly at defensive tackle. For evidence of that, consider their admitted brief interest in free agent Ndamukong Suh (before the price soared way, way too high). And also consider that, from what I’ve been told, if Flowers hadn’t been there at No. 9 on Thursday night, Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton might have been their pick (It would’ve either been him or Michigan State corner Trae Waynes, sources said).
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Of course, there’s also the gigantic hole in their lineup at safety and only one safety (Arizona State’s Damarious Randall to Green Bay at No. 30) was taken in the first round. That leaves Alabama’s Landon Collins there for the taking, and many NFL scouts considered him to be the top safety on the entire draft board. He would seem to be a natural pick for the Giants.
But Collins isn’t considered by everyone to be a complete player. He’s similar to Nat Berhe, the Giants’ fifth-round pick last year – a better “box safety” who can be strong against the run and up close to the line of scrimmage, but has some weaknesses in coverage. That doesn’t mean the Giants wouldn’t take him. But they really like Berhe, so it might make more sense to find a safety who is better in coverage in later rounds.
In the second round, though, don’t rule anything out. And after I did a pretty good job of laying out the Giants’ first-round intentions for you on Thursday, I’m not offering a second-round predictions. However, here are some very logical names and positions for the Giants when they make the 8th pick of the second round:
Safeties: The cream of the crop seems to be Alabama’s Landon Collins. I’d be a bit surprised if the Giants took another safety in Round 2. If they don’t take him here, though, you’d think they’d have to take a safety in Round 3, right? I mean, at some point they’re going to at least need some bodies.
Defensive tackles: Because of Cullen Jenkins’ age (34) the Giants are still looking for someone to play along Johnathan Hankins in the future. Markus Kuhn and Jay Bromley look like they could be good rotation players, but it’s hard to know how high their ceilings are. So clearly the Giants are looking for an upgrade who can provide a push and stop the run. Iowa’s Carl Davis (6-5, 320) and Florida State’s Eddie Goldman (6-4, 336) are probably the best DTs left on the board.
Defensive ends: I suspect they want a DT more than a DE. From what I’m told, new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo really likes the potential of Damontre Moore, and they still have Robert Ayers and they signed George Selvie. And then there’s that JPP guy. But if they do want to go the pass-rushing route, they could look at Mississippi State’s Preston Smith or Arkansas’ Trey Flowers. There’s also UCLA’s Owamagbe Odighizuwa, but I’ll be honest, I’m rooting against that. There’s no way I’ll ever learn to spell or pronounce his name.
Cornerbacks: They were very interested in Waynes in the first round because when you really look at their corner situation, there are holes. Beyond Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara, there’s not much there, especially with a couple of players converting to safety. So they need a nickel corner. Also, Amukamara is in the last year of his deal (at least for now). This team historically loves LSU players, so I’d think Jalen Collins is high on their board. Utah’s Eric Rowe is another name to watch, too. Maybe Miami (Ohio) CB Quinten Rollins, but at 5-11, 195 he might be a little smaller than they’d prefer.
Linebackers: There are a lot of linebackers already on their team, so I don’t think they’re necessarily looking at this position. But two names here jump out. The obvious first one is Nebraska LB Randy Gregory, who based on talent should’ve been a Top 10 pick. But fell out of the first round due in part to a series of positive drug tests for marijuana, and due to some reported (but vague) “other issues” that have caused some teams to dump him from their board. I don’t know if he’s on the Giants board, but if he is … at some point the value is too high to pass on him, right? The other is UCLA LB Eric Kendricks.
Other positions: I really think the Giants will focus on defense in the second round. But just in case they don’t, there are a couple of big receivers available – Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong (6-2, 217) and the very talented, but troubled Dorial Green-Beckham out of Missouri (6-5, 237) … although given Green-Beckham’s troubles, I can’t imagine he’s on the Giants’ board. … As for tight ends and running backs, the remaining ones all seem better suited to Round 3 or beyond.
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