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Draft Talk: Linebackers

Sy'56 : 2/14/2014 9:16 am
The group has been a liability to this team as a whole for a long time. There is disagreement among many when it comes to just how important it is to have three quality LBs. After all, this league has become so pass-heavy that there are often just 1 or 2 LBs on the field at any given time. I don't want to speculate free agency and what NYG will do with Beason. I want to discuss what options NYG has in the draft, from beginning to end.

I am on the side that still believes LBs are very important to a 4-3 scheme. Their impact is felt on every play, especially with how often the ball is being thrown to TEs, RBs, and slot receivers over the middle. With that said...there will likely only be one or two LBs that I have in my top 12, and they is UCLA's Anthony Barr and Buffalo's Khalil Mack. They aren't made for the 4-3 scheme in that their true strengths are pass rush-based, but I think they can still play in this kind of scheme. I have more confidence in Barr than I do Mack in the 4-3. He has more experience dropping in to coverage and playing the run as a stay at home defender. In addition, his ability to close a gap is better than any LB in this class by a wide margin. He has legit speed to chase RBs down. Mack would a gamble, not sure one worth taking, for the 4-3 SAM role. He is such a downhill player and he looks average when staying at home, reading the action, and pursuing.

Day two I think they can find a guy that presents the right value. I've been raving about Chris Borland (Wisconsin) since September. He is going to be my 3rd or 4th ranked LB and despite the lack of ideal size and length, I am as confident in him being a solid player as anyone in this entire class. I've never seen a guy that reads the action and gets to the ball, whether its a run or pass, as much as Borland. The lack of size never shows up on tape in a negative way. He is a big time player that is more than worth a 2nd round pick. CJ Mosley from Alabama is solid as well and will grade out similar to, if not slightly above Borland. But I think he goes in round 1 and he does not grade out high enough for the 1st rounder.

Names like Shayne Skov from Stanford and Ryan Shazier of Ohio State are names I can see being there in round 3 that NYG could use. They are different players though. Skov is an in between the tackles guy that will make a lot of tackles. But he isn't a 3 down guy, he just doesn't move well enough in coverage and I even question his ability to reach the sideline against outside runs. Shazier is a space athlete that can play with anyone when it comes to movement and athleticism. You need to be careful with him though because he is a complete non factor when TEs and OL reach him. I think there would be better value in the later rounds though.

Beyond the guys I have discussed, I am looking at names that I have graded much higher than what I see out there. Jordan Zumwalt from UCLA and Jordan Tripp of Montana have the same traits to their game that I liked in Kiko Alonso last year. Both have the athletic frame and movement skills but they are violent players that tackle well and cover ground against the pass. Kevin Pierre-Louis from BC and Jonathan Brown of Illinois are undersized guys that will be available late that I have mid-round grades on. I like their flow to the action and ability to stuff the run inside and out.

How about those LBs? Again I hate that I have to say this but there is no right or wrong here. Everything is speculation....lets remember that when we discuss.
3  
DG_89 : 2/14/2014 9:42 am : link
things Sy

1. Thanks for the brief write up. If you do extensive ones like UKGiantfan I look forward to it in a couple months

2. I'm surprised you don't think Mosley grades out as a good enough pick for the 1st rounder (or at least that's how it sounds). Some mocks have him as a top 10 pick

3. Kyle Van Oy is conspicuous by him absence in your write up. An oversight?
With respect to Skov  
njm : 2/14/2014 9:46 am : link
Any possibility that the mobility and speed issues were related to the recovery period from his ACL surgery? I guess we'll get an idea when he runs the 40 at the combine.
Sy, do you see  
Bill in UT : 2/14/2014 9:50 am : link
Trevor Reilly as an LB or DE? How do you feel about him? Great motor on the guy. Looks smaller than 255
Prince Shembo  
JOMO25 : 2/14/2014 9:50 am : link
will be a good pro (perhaps a 3-4 end). On a related note, it seems to me that the 4-3 eliminates more prospects (big LBs and DEs) than the 3-4.
What  
AcidTest : 2/14/2014 9:50 am : link
do you think about Tyler Starr, the LB from South Dakota?
Shembo 3-4 LB  
JOMO25 : 2/14/2014 9:51 am : link
I meant
RE: Prince Shembo  
GIANTSr01 : 2/14/2014 9:57 am : link
In comment 11508482 JOMO25 said:
Quote:
will be a good pro (perhaps a 3-4 end). On a related note, it seems to me that the 4-3 eliminates more prospects (big LBs and DEs) than the 3-4.


Probably because sacks and pressure get you on highlight reels and increase your prospect status and some of the best athletes are 3-4 OLBs.

I disagree that the 4-3 eliminates the big DEs, assuming you mean big in size. Chris Canty and Cullen Jenkins are big DEs in a 3-4, but their skills are a better fit for the DT spot in a 4-3. It's mostly the tweeners that the 4-3 eliminates (though Moore is a borderline tweener).
Sy - Max Bullough  
connery928 : 2/14/2014 9:58 am : link
What about him from MSU?

Also do you know why he wasn't allowed to play in the Rose Bowl?
Nice to see the love for Borland  
Jay in Toronto : 2/14/2014 10:10 am : link
another aspect that you won't see on the film is that he is a real team leader. Teammates respect his motor, his smarts and his total dedication.
I love...  
2ndroundKO : 2/14/2014 10:15 am : link
Khalil Mack but I think Barr is more of a Reese pick. Coach him up and you have a monster.
No love for Christian Kirksey? For shame.  
Klaatu : 2/14/2014 10:18 am : link
Right or wrong, the Giants just don't seem to value the position very highly, at least not in the draft, with Clint Sintim being the one recent notable exception. Every year I hope that changes, and every year I'm disappointed. Me and Mel Kiper, Jr.

So, honestly, I don't see the Giants drafting a linebacker in the first three or four rounds, if at all. I figure that if they do draft one, we're looking at late-round OLBs like BC's Kadeem Edebali, USC's Devon Kennard, or Illinois' Jonathan Brown...ILBs like USF's DeDe Lattimore, WKU's Andrew Jackson, or Penn State's Glenn Carson.
finally someone who  
area junc : 2/14/2014 10:18 am : link
notices mosley is not a top 15 Linebacker
RE: No love for Christian Kirksey? For shame.  
GIANTSr01 : 2/14/2014 10:22 am : link
In comment 11508553 Klaatu said:
Quote:
Right or wrong, the Giants just don't seem to value the position very highly, at least not in the draft, with Clint Sintim being the one recent notable exception. Every year I hope that changes, and every year I'm disappointed. Me and Mel Kiper, Jr.

So, honestly, I don't see the Giants drafting a linebacker in the first three or four rounds, if at all. I figure that if they do draft one, we're looking at late-round OLBs like BC's Kadeem Edebali, USC's Devon Kennard, or Illinois' Jonathan Brown...ILBs like USF's DeDe Lattimore, WKU's Andrew Jackson, or Penn State's Glenn Carson.


After the impact Beason had, which I think is slightly overstated and the turnaround was also due to Hill's return, I hope their mindset has changed.

That said, I doubt they go LB in rd 1. I think it'll be CB/DE/WR (in that order), with the top interior OL on their board in rd 2 and then maybe LB in rd 3 (depending on FA).
DG 89  
Sy'56 : 2/14/2014 10:34 am : link
Yes...I have spoken with Eric. I will be doing extensive position by position work in April.

Mosley is tricky. I have actually always liked him and I am still going to have a 1st round grade here. I just don't think he is a top 15 guy. I debate him with a lot of people and it almost seems I come across that I think he is a bad prospect. That isn't the case. I just don't see any special in him. What about his game is so good? He is above average in a lot of areas but doesn't stand out when you watch the Alabama D.

I'm not a big Van Noy guy. Solid college player but he needs a specific role in a specific scheme to do well in the NFL...neither of which are in the NYG 4-3 base. He is a edge player that doesn't play well as a stay at home or flow to the action guy. His burst and playing strength were average at BYU. The jump in quality to the NFL is going to eat him up I think. Serviceable? Sure. But worthy of a top 45 pick? Not for NYG, no way.
njm, re: Skov  
Sy'56 : 2/14/2014 10:36 am : link
I was really down on him last year. But that was the year after his ACL so I kind of overlooked it.

In 2013 he was certainly quicker and more agile...but I can't say that the injury is still being recovered from. I think what we see out of him right now is what you'll get. Again...not a bad player and could be a solid 2 down run defender but I think he is limited.
Bill in UT re: Reilly  
Sy'56 : 2/14/2014 10:37 am : link
I see him as a 3-4 OLB...with an outside shot at moving to 4-3 DE is the scheme required. I don't think he can play OLB in a 4-3. The hips and feet aren't there...he plays heavy.
RE: Sy - Max Bullough  
Klaatu : 2/14/2014 10:39 am : link
In comment 11508512 connery928 said:
Quote:
What about him from MSU?

Also do you know why he wasn't allowed to play in the Rose Bowl?


No one knows, nobody's talking, although the NCAA released a statement saying that Bullough didn't violate any of their rules.

Bullough was invited to the East-West Shrine game and raised a few eyebrows because he showed up 20 pounds over his listed weight of 245, but he still had an excellent week of practice, and it didn't seem like the extra weight slowed him down at all.
AcidTest re:Starr  
Sy'56 : 2/14/2014 10:41 am : link
He is a poor man's Jordan Tripp...and Tripp is likely a 4th/5th rounder. I'm not sure he gets drafted earlier than that.

But he has the tool set and movement skills of a guy that defensive coaches will want to work with. He played mainly rush linebacker at a low level of competition. Even there...he showed a lack of power and presence. But he does have the quicks to handle the speed of the NFL, thats for sure. I question his ability in the 4-3 because he looks lost when he's trying to play zone coverage. Zero awareness and easily fooled.

Developmental guy worth a look late.
Connery re: Bullough  
Sy'56 : 2/14/2014 10:44 am : link
I never liked him. He is fun to watch though but I see him as a less athletic Herzlich type. Very limited and role/scheme specific.

The suspension will downgrade him to UDFA for me. That is an awful job by him. I don't spend a lot of time investigating the off the field stuff. I have limited resources there and I only have so much time...so I stick to game tape and the public-knowledge information when I evaluate.
Barr  
Mike in NY : 2/14/2014 10:45 am : link
I just do not see the feel for the OLB position in a 4-3. I am not sure if that is due to lack of experience or he just does not have the intelligence to be more than a pass rusher but it is not something I gamble on in Round 1 if I am the Giants

Speaking of LB's what about Telvin Smith of FSU?

klaatu  
Sy'56 : 2/14/2014 10:46 am : link
I actually like Kirksey a lot. I'll discuss him in the coming months. He is in that Tripp/Zumwalt tier. Very good athlete that started to really get it this year when it came to diagnosing and pouncing. I think he has more upside than most of the LBs in this class.
How about Christian Jones  
TheBigBlueOne : 2/14/2014 10:46 am : link
from Florida State?
Mike in NY  
Sy'56 : 2/14/2014 10:47 am : link
Understood with Barr. He does look lost at times but remember, he's only played LB for 2 years now. And he improved a lot in 2013 in comparison to 2012. He is a football player, he'll do well. We're not talking about another Aaron Curry here.
The FSU LBs  
Sy'56 : 2/14/2014 10:50 am : link
I've been back and forth with them based on their game tapes. Jones has the complete package when it comes to size/speed/quickness/power. The versatility is attractive too but he often doesn't play to the ability. Guys like that really bother me. Sometimes the patience pays off but more often than not...these guys that are better athletes than football players don't make it.

Smith has some of the most up and down tape of them all. At the end of the day he is a fast/quick LB that covers a lot of ground against the run and pass. But he can't handle blocks...at all. He gets moved easily and doesn't shed. I like his leadership and his hustle but I think he'll struggle to start and produce in any scheme.
Sy, I know you like Kirksey. We've discussed him before.  
Klaatu : 2/14/2014 10:52 am : link
So I was surprised you left him out of your OP.
How do you feel about  
TheBigBlueOne : 2/14/2014 11:24 am : link
Yawin Smallwood?
RE: AcidTest re:Starr  
GIANTSr01 : 2/14/2014 11:50 am : link
In comment 11508604 Sy'56 said:
Quote:
He is a poor man's Jordan Tripp...and Tripp is likely a 4th/5th rounder. I'm not sure he gets drafted earlier than that.

But he has the tool set and movement skills of a guy that defensive coaches will want to work with. He played mainly rush linebacker at a low level of competition. Even there...he showed a lack of power and presence. But he does have the quicks to handle the speed of the NFL, thats for sure. I question his ability in the 4-3 because he looks lost when he's trying to play zone coverage. Zero awareness and easily fooled.

Developmental guy worth a look late.


How does he compare to our own J Williams?

And do you work as a pro scout or just do this for fun (if you don't mind sharing)? Excellent stuff btw, especially for those of us that aren't huge CFB fans.
Has anyone watched Jeremiah Attaochu?  
hoopy3 : 2/14/2014 11:59 am : link
SY….what do you think of him as a LB prospect. Obviously he is mainly a pass rusher, but considering you have Mack and Barr rated in the upper part of the 1st round and this kid appears to be as dominant as both of them (if not more). He is also one of the younger prospects in the draft, having just turned 21 a few weeks ago.
What about Van Noy  
jeff57 : 2/14/2014 12:00 pm : link
?
Hoppy3  
Earl the goat : 2/14/2014 12:22 pm : link
I was just going to give Jeremiah Attachu a major thumbs up
He has tremendous athletic ability. Just needs to learn the game some more. He will be someone's steal on day 2
Sy. What are ur thoughts. Thx
Regarding prospects  
jLefty : 2/14/2014 12:52 pm : link
have no idea. Posters seem to know their stuff. Fun to read.
I see Mosley as JAG. Does nothing extremely well  
yatqb : 2/14/2014 1:31 pm : link
and has the rest of the defense to thank for a lot of his tackles.
The Giants seem to be phasing out the SLB  
rasbutant : 2/14/2014 2:21 pm : link
position (or as they call it WLB, just to confuse everyone). Or maybe they just haven't been able to get someone to play the position at a high level?

Christian Jones and Skov have the versatility to play multiple positions, I like that, and think the Giants will as well. I would be excited about either of these guys in round 3.
Thank goodness about Mosley  
Neverend : 2/14/2014 2:24 pm : link
I thought I was missing something when everyone has him as this top 10 prospect. hes not Patrick willis or luke keuchly and he wont get picked in the top 10 like they did. cbssports had the nerve to compare him to lavonte david as well which I thought was an awful comparison. I think its one of those things where we look back at the pre-combine mock drafts and laugh about how some prospects were considered top 10 picks

Attaochu  
Sy'56 : 2/14/2014 2:36 pm : link
I really liked him in 2012 and was hoping he'd take a step forward in 2013 but he didn't. He's been in a coupel of different schemes so that may have something to do with it. But what bothers me most is the lack of physical presence he showed when taking on a blocker one on one. His initial burst is good but nothing great. Tough combination if you think he is a legit edge talent.

In a 4-3 I don't see a spot for him. He can't play DE or OLB.
Jeff  
Sy'56 : 2/14/2014 2:37 pm : link
Van Noy thoughts are above
Any thoughts on the UConn kid?  
Reale01 : 2/14/2014 2:55 pm : link
I think his name is Smallwood?
Smallwood  
Sy'56 : 2/14/2014 3:23 pm : link
Looks the part but doesn't play as well as you would think when considering his tool set. His team was often overmatched so it may have impacted his performance from a scouting perspective. I need to get another look or two at him though, I've only seen him twice.
Lamin Barrow from  
TheBigBlueOne : 2/14/2014 4:24 pm : link
LSU? Would he be a good fit for a 3rd day pick?
Lamin Barrow  
Sy'56 : 2/14/2014 4:34 pm : link
on day 3? Sure. But I am even thinking late day three here. Solid run defender that plays hard with a physical presence at all times. But he is limited athletically and doesn't factor much as a pass defender. There are plenty of these guys available after the draft in UDFA.
Basically this is my thought on LB's  
Blue Blood : 2/14/2014 5:08 pm : link
if you arent taking one high in the first or second round.. there seems to be a very very fast decline with value vs rate of return.. and obviously a lot of that is scheme dependent..

I dont believe the Giants are very good at evaluating or developing linebackers either..

Borland  
scott in albany : 2/14/2014 6:15 pm : link
is my favorite player in the draft. He has pro bowl player written all over him. Him and beason on the field together would be something to see.
Sy  
BigBluDawg : 2/14/2014 6:54 pm : link
What do you think of Telvin Smith ??
RE: Sy  
TheBigBlueOne : 2/14/2014 7:24 pm : link
In comment 11509620 BigBluDawg said:
Quote:
What do you think of Telvin Smith ??

This is what Sy had to say on Telvin Smth:
Quote:
Smith has some of the most up and down tape of them all. At the end of the day he is a fast/quick LB that covers a lot of ground against the run and pass. But he can't handle blocks...at all. He gets moved easily and doesn't shed. I like his leadership and his hustle but I think he'll struggle to start and produce in any scheme.

Thanks TheBigBlue  
BigBluDawg : 2/14/2014 7:39 pm : link
...
It's a weak class at LB in this draft imo  
Torrag : 2/14/2014 9:42 pm : link
really just a handful of guys in the early rounds....lot of late round crapshoots.

For me Barr is the cream of the crop. I see him as scheme diverse. Great closing speed, COD is there, brings the wood, has a nose for the QB. He made strides in his mental game this season when you consider his limited reps at LB to this point in his development. The sky is the limit.

Mack can play the SAM but are you maximizing his skillset there? If you draft him you better be prepared to get creative with your defense to take advantage of his natural pass rush ability. If not your wasting a lot of god given talent.

Mosley does many things well. Safe pick you can plug and play. He'll be a quality starter for years to come. There is value in that. The problem is drafting @12 you'd like a chance to reel in a stud. That i do not see.

Kirksey is intriguing. You like to draft players whose game is on the rise. That is the case with this guy. Athletically the second prospect in the LB group following Barr imo.

As many have noted Reese has failed to maintain the LB corps he inherited from Accorsi. Most notably the failure to adequately replace Antonio Pierce at the MLB spot. A critical cog in a 4-3 scheme. I'm hopeful Beason's impact has shown JR the error of his ways. If they fail to re-sign him LB becomes a serious issue with this defensive roster.....again.
Looks like a value based LB crop this year  
JonC : 2/14/2014 9:48 pm : link
NYG's LB picks under Reese are incredibly poor. Beason is easily their best LB addition, but I still wonder why exactly they have this blind spot for LBs in the draft.
RE: Looks like a value based LB crop this year  
Klaatu : 2/14/2014 11:23 pm : link
In comment 11509747 JonC said:
Quote:
...but I still wonder why exactly they have this blind spot for LBs in the draft.


Most of Reese's family was massacred by linebackers as they crossed the Great Plains, on their way to California. It left an indelible scar.
I don't completely agree on Van Noy..  
Rsspro : 2/15/2014 12:52 am : link
I know there seems to be a large difference of opinion on him it seems..

some think the guy can step right in and be a good starting NFL linebacker against the pass and the run..

others think his play was solid but not spectacular and he's not an impact player.. and he may even not make it in the NFL do to appearing "average" and not standing out as a linebacker at times..

with all that said.. I think he's a great prospect.. I think there is just as good a chance of him turning it on and stepping up and improving to be an impact player as there is of him not being able to be a quality linebacker in the NFL..

at the very least I think he'll be an above average linebacker who will help you win games in the NFL.. I'd be fine with him for our NYGs in the 2nd round..
so yes.. I think if Van Noy is somehow available in round 2..  
Rsspro : 2/15/2014 12:56 am : link
he could be a good fit.. possibly taking Rivers spot.. of course keeping Beason is key..

I'd be fine with Beason, Williams, and Van Noy as our starting 3.. assuming Williams and Van Noy beat out the competition..
Giants better hope  
Blue Blood : 2/15/2014 2:02 am : link
Barr slides...
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