The success of any draft hinges on one coveted word – sleeper.
While it seems easy to hit on the first-round stud, what builds the backbone of any franchise is the relative unknown or passed-over player that’s on a team’s draft-board bubble. Franchises are quick to school their fanbases that the draft is an in-exact science of which mistakes are made in the first round and miracles are found in the sixth. Which is why Giants fans need to remember that it’s not just the first round pick that determines draft success, but the second round and beyond that are almost as important.
The Giants were one of the quieter teams during the initial free-agent frenzy, so look for general manager Jerry Reese to remain frugal in the draft and try to unearth quality depth – and maybe even a starter or two – in the middle rounds.
One guy that sources say is a possible hidden pearl is South Carolina guard A.J. Cann. The former Gamecock has been slotted in many mock drafts as a second-rounder, as he can play some center, which may increase his value. Cann is an agile man for his size (6-foot-4 and 315 pounds), so if Big Blue wants to make a move on him, they best not wait until their third round pick [74th overall].
Former Oklahoma tight end Blake Bell also intrigues many at the Giants’ facilities. The converted quarterback has the size (6-foot-5, 260 pounds) and acumen to quickly adapt to Ben McAdoo’s West Coast offense. Since he’s a former signal-caller, Blake already knows how to decipher coverages on the fly, which will likely expedite his learning curve. The Giants currently have Larry Donnell as their starter. And while the former Grambling Tiger had a breakout season last year, it doesn’t mean he’s sewed up the spot for good. Look for the Giants to take a long look at Bell in the third round.
Of all the sleeper prospects on Reese’s big-board, however, one name keeps getting bandied about within the facilities -- Utah safety Eric Rowe. The former Ute stands 6-foot-1 and weighs a solid 205 pounds. And despite his thick frame, he notched a 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Combine. He also bench-pressed 225 pounds 19 times and added a 39-inch vertical leap. And to top his speed achievement, some scouts reportedly clocked Rowe at 4.39 seconds at his college Pro Day.
The real beauty of Rowe’s ascension, however, is his ability to play both corner and safety. That’s a real value that New York hopes goes under the radar, as they currently only have two safeties on the roster (Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe). The team is reportedly mulling whether to move corners Chykie Brown and Bennett Jackson to safety. And they’re also still trying to re-sign free agent Stevie Brown. But the converting of cornerbacks reeks of desperation – especially if the aforementioned two never played the position in the past. And with Brown, he hasn’t been the same since tearing his ACL two seasons ago.
Rowe will definitely be available for the team’s No. 9 selection, but that’s a bit too high. But should the Giants fail to pull the trigger on Rowe with their 40th overall pick in round two, it’s more than likely the talented hybrid will be long gone by the time they hear their name called for their third-round selection.
Big Blue notes:
- Head coach Tom Coughlin held court, Wednesday morning, at the NFC coaches’ breakfast at the NFL annual meeting in Phoenix and touched on a lot of topics, ranging from his recovering star wideout, Victor Cruz to the iPhone’s Siri navigational tool.
- Coughlin on Cruz: “I think he will be back to the player that he was and hopefully better. Victor looks really good. He’s starting to run. I was in the field house watching him rehab [and] he’s coming along well,” Coughlin said, adding he’s uncertain when Cruz will be a full participant in practice. “I don’t know. I shouldn’t say this, because medically I really do not have a definite answer, but by training camp, hopefully. He will work his way through.”
- The coach on the safety deficiency, especially now that former captain Antrel Rolle is in Chicago, and there are two untested players on the roster: “That’s an issue, no doubt. We do have one more access to bringing in personnel [and that’s] with the draft,” said Coughlin. “We have a couple of guys in the program [like] Berhe, who we liked as a rookie [and] as a special teamer. We have injured players coming back who hopefully can help, but it’s a concern.”
- Finally, Coughlin’s beef with Siri: “I don’t trust the lady in GPS, because they don’t send you the right way. I hit the button and she gives me directions. I figure out where I am and say, ‘thank you very much.’ … But then I couldn’t get her to shut up. Every turn. I’m a block away from my house and she’s still telling me where to go. And I say, ‘I know where I’m going.’”