The NFL Combine is the last shot for NFL prospects to show general managers and coaches what they are capable of first hand on a football field. Prospects can always improve their stock to some degree at their college pro days, however, the nationally broadcasted Combine is the last big stage for these young players.
With the New York Giants possessing the number nine overall pick, the team has been assessing their needs and evaluating the talent of prospects at their positions of need over the past few days. Here are how the events at Lucas Oil Stadium have affected Giants current offseason situation.
Marcus Mariota Outperformed Projected Number 1 Overall Pick Jameis Winston
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota outperformed fellow projected top 10 overall pick, FSU quarterback Jameis Winston in nearly every facet of the Combine. Mariota’s 4.52 40-yard dash, 36″ vertical, and 10’1″ broad jump blew Winston’s 4.97 40-yard dash, 28.5″ vertical, and 8’7″ broad jump out of the water by a landside. Yet Tampa Bay Buccaneer head coach, Lovie Smith, seemed no less enchanted with the Florida State signal caller.
All signs still point to Tampa using their number one overall selection on Winston. However, Mariota’s strong Combine could potentially coax the Tennessee Titans to use their number two overall pick on the former Oregon Duck.
If the draft’s two best quarterbacks go numbers one and two overall respectively, New York may not be able to trade back for the potential king’s ransom many analysts had discussed the Giants seeking should Mariota fall in their range.
Vic Beasley Is An Animal
Clemson OLB Vic Beasley turned the heads of all NFL execs and scouts in attendance with his jaw dropping Combine performance. At 6’3″ and 246 lbs Beasley ran an impressive 4.53 second 40-yard dash for his size. He recorded a 6.91 three cone drill, a 41″ inch vertical, and a stellar 35 rep bench press.
Beasley’s status as an explosive athlete and a DE/LB “tweener” at the professional level were solidified by his pro ready numbers. Originally a projected late first round pick, Beasley very well could have just rocketed himself into the top 10 and should be seriously considered by the Giants if he’s on the board at number 9. Adding a versatile and incredible athlete would immediately elevate New Yorks’ defense.
Who Is JJ Nelson?
UAB wide receiver JJ Nelson entered the Combine as a relatively unknown commodity. He was an incredible kick returner last season, averaging 38.7 yards per return and four touchdowns as well as the Blazers best receiver, leading the team with 42 receptions, 846 receiving yards, and 8 receiving touchdowns.
Yet Nelson garnered little attention as a professional prospect ranking as just the 44th wide receiver prospect. His diminutive size at just 5’10” and being the lightest prospect at the Combine at 152 lbs draws concerns to his potential NFL productivity.
Entering the Combine it was thought that Miami wide receiver Phillip Dorsett would be the one to potentially break running back Chris Johnson’s 40-yard dash record of 4.24 records. However, it was JJ Nelson who came the closest to Johnson’s record.
His 4.28 second 40-yard dash clocked in as the fastest at the Combine. His blazing speed could intrigue New York to use one of their late round picks on him as the team searches for wide receiver insurance on the recovering Victor Cruz.
Jesse James Stands Out In a Weak TE Class
Going into the draft, CBS Sports has only one TE ranked in their top 40 prospect Big Board (Maxx Williams, Minnesota , #35) and just two in their top 60 (Clive Wilford, Miami, #59). That is not a comforting site for any teams hopeful of adding a dynamic play maker at the position. However, with the Giants currently employing a committee at the tight end position of Larry Donnell, Adrien Robinson, and Daniel Fells, it is likely they will look to either free agency or the draft in the hopes of finding a diamond in the rough.
If the Giants do look to the draft they would be wise to take a look at Penn State’s Jesse James. As the number three ranked tight end in the draft, James stands at an impressive 6’7″ and 261 lbs. James concluded his sophomore season with 25 receptions for 333 yards and three touchdowns and has been tearing it up at the combine.
He showed decent with speed with a 4.83 40-yard dash and great strength with 21 reps on the bench press. A late round prospect with a high athletic ceiling, James could be a great addition to the Giant’s tight end depth.
Davis Tull Makes A Mark
Chattanooga OLB Davis Tull was another player who impressed scouts at the combine. Tull was the Combine’s top performer in the vertical and broad jumps, recording a 42.5″ and a 132″ jumps respectively, while also putting up a respectable 26 reps on the bench press. The three-time Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Year is coming off a senior season in which he recorded 10.5 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss. At 6’2″ and 246 lbs, Tull entered the Combine as a projected 6th-7th round pick. If he remains available in that time frame when New York is on the clock he could be drafted by the linebacker needy Giants.
Jerry Reese’s Press Conference Gave Little To Report
Giants General Manager Jerry Reese did not give the media any earth shattering news to report when he took the podium at the NFL Combine. He confirmed the Giants were in fact in the midst of contract talks with Jason Pieree-Paul, not exactly a shocker seeing as Pierre-Paul is arguably New York’s best player. In regards to often injured, but very talented, MLB Jon Beason Reese had only this to say: “Jon’s under contract, so we’ll see where that goes.”
Not exactly a vote of confidence in Beason’s favor but, as Reese said, he is indeed still on the roster and will likely reclaim his starting job during preseason (provided he is not, once again, injured). Prehaps Reese’s only substantial quote of the conference was on Victor Cruz’s injury recovery: “Again, when a guy had a big injury like Victor had, you can’t put all your eggs in his basket. Our doctors said he looks good. I see him down in the training room working out with our trainers and doctors. He looks good.”
Prepare to hear a receiver’s name called on draft day by New York.