New York Giants: 2014 NFL Combine

Wake-up call: Combine, Day 6

February, 24, 2014
Feb 24
On Monday's schedule in Indianapolis:

New York Jets/Giants media availability: None. The prospects, too, are done with their media obligations. Ninety-five percent of the media have cleared out of Indianapolis, including yours truly.

Combine schedule: The defensive linemen and linebackers will be in Lucas Oil Stadium, participating in the 40-yard dash, agility stations and positional skill drills. ... The defensive backs will have psychological testing, the bench press and team interviews.

Players of interest: For very different reasons, the spotlight will be focused on two defensive ends -- South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney and Missouri's Michael Sam. Clowney, who told reporters his goal is to become one of the best players of all-time, could go No. 1 overall to the Houston Texans. His 40-yard dash will be a must-watch. After two weeks of intense scrutiny following his disclosure that he's gay, Sam finally can concentrate on football. Scouts are eager to see his speed and if he has the athleticism to play in space as a linebacker. He struggled in that area at the Senior Bowl.

Jerry Reese: 'It was time to make a change'

February, 22, 2014
Feb 22
INDIANAPOLIS -- A few takeaways from Jerry Reese's news conference Saturday at the NFL scouting combine:

The New York Giants' general manager praised former offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, but he also said "it was time to make a change" -- a comment that suggests the organization wanted him out. Officially, Gilbride retired amid speculation he was on the verge of being fired. Reese described new coordinator Ben McAdoo as a breath of fresh air.

“I think he’s going to bring some new life,” Reese said. "Obviously, Coach Gilbride did a terrific job for us. The change, I think, is going to energize our offense a little bit. There’s new learning for the quarterback and the staff. He’s an interesting guy. Very bright.”
  • Reese wanted no part of a big-picture discussion on former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, who announced recently that he’s gay. “I’m not talking about that,” Reese said. “If you want to talk about him as a football player, that’s fine. What people do in their personal life, I’m not concerned about that. That’s not true, of course, because teams spent millions each year to perform background checks on prospects. They absolutely care about what players do off the field. I think he’s a good football player. You have to be a pretty good football player to win [co-Defensive Player of the Year in the SEC]. In our evaluation, he’s a good football player.”

    A shade under 6-foot-2, and 255-260 pounds, Sam projects as a defensive end in the Giants’ 4-3 front. After Sam’s announcement, Giants co-owner John Mara released a statement, saying Sam's sexual orientation wouldn't affect his position on the team's draft board.
  • C David Baas (knee), G Chris Snee (hip) and S Stevie Brown (knee) are progressing well from major injuries, according to Reese. Reiterating what coach Tom Coughlin said Friday, Reese said Snee has expressed a desire to play in 2014. There had been some rumblings about retirement.

    Reese didn't rule out the possibility of drafting a quarterback for the second straight year. He acknowledged the obvious -- they won’t take one with the 12th overall pick -- but he said “we’re not afraid” to select one in the late rounds. A year ago, the Giants picked Ryan Nassib in the fourth round.

    Reese said he’s not opposed to trading down from the 12th spot.

Ebron draws interest from Jets, Giants

February, 21, 2014
Feb 21
INDIANAPOLIS -- The New York Jets and New York Giants have the hots for the same player -- Eric Ebron, North Carolina's ultra-athletic tight end.

If they both covet Ebron, the advantage goes to the Giants, who own the 12th overall pick -- six spots ahead of the Jets in the first round.

The Giants are so intrigued by Ebron (6-4, 250 pounds) that general manager Jerry Reese and vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross scouted him during the season and filed reports. The team's top two decision-makers don't do that unless there's a high degree of interest in a player. Ebron scored high grades and will be a consideration with the 12th pick.

The Giants have a glaring need, as do the Jets, who would love to pair Ebron with Jeff Cumberland, a free agent-to-be whom they're trying to re-sign.

Ebron (62 catches, 973 yards, three touchdowns last season) is the consensus top tight end in the draft, ahead of Texas Tech's Jace Amaro, whom the Giants interviewed Thursday night at the scouting combine. Ebron is a new-breed tight end, meaning he can split out as a receiver, creating a mismatch. He once said his speed is "illegal," and he told reporters that he can't be jammed at the line of scrimmage. College opponents didn't try, he said.

"I think why teams don't press me is because they can't," he said. "I will not be pressed at the line of scrimmage. That's a prideful thing of mine. It'd be best to leave the play to cover y'alls' back."

Ebron said he patterns his game after Vernon Davis of the San Francisco 49ers. Why?

"Because [of the] similarities," he said, comparing himself to one of the best. "His speed, he's powerful, he's very strong at the line of scrimmage. Love everything about him."

Ebron isn't shy on confidence. Asked to describe his play, he replied, "Fast. I play fast. I'm a little bit faster than most."

Scouts are eager to see his time in the 40. Ebron is far from a finished product. His blocking needs work, he's had some drops and some question his toughness over the middle. But the tight end position has changed, and the good ones are deployed like wide receivers.

"I just do different things than other tight ends do," Ebron said. "If you watch film you'll probably say the same thing."

Eli Manning 'eyes' rebound in 2014

February, 21, 2014
Feb 21
INDIANAPOLIS -- Tom Coughlin expressed confidence Friday that Eli Manning will return to championship form. How does he know?

"I see it in his eyes," the New York Giants' coach told reporters at the NFL scouting combine.

Coughlin addressed a variety of issues, most of which focused on the Giants' "broken" offense, as co-owner John Mara described it at the end of the season. Coughlin spoke highly of new coordinator Ben McAdoo and took issue with speculation the organization is concerned with Manning, who threw a career-high 27 interceptions.

"I don't know where the internal concern is," Coughlin said. "We're very confident Eli will, with the help of others around him, return to the high stature we hold him in. I feel very good about that."

The Manning-McAdoo marriage will be one of the big storylines in 2014. Manning has spent his entire career under Kevin Gilbride, who retired abruptly after the season amid talk that he could be fired. Many have assumed that McAdoo, a disciple of Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy, will install a West Coast offense, predicated on quick, short passes. That's not necessarily so, accoring to Coughlin.

"[McAdoo], interestingly enough, doesn't describe it as a West Coast offense," he said. "He thinks more in terms of being vertical, down the field, if the opportunities present themselves."

Even though he hired McAdoo to call the plays, Coughlin said he'll remain involved in the offensive operation. He said all parties have agreed they must maintain a commitment to the running game. It sounds as if Coughlin was sold on McAdoo during the interview. He said the former Packers assistant showed up with a detailed video on his teaching methods.

Coughlin didn't get into Xs and Os. He left everything on the table, saying, "As far as changes, they may be subtle or they may be drastic ones."

The 67-year-old coach, who announced that he has agreed to a one-year contract extension through 2015, seemed invigorated by the changes on offense. He described it as exciting and stimulating, admitting it's a challenge for him to learn the new system.

Lewan could be ideal for Giants, except ...

February, 20, 2014
Feb 20
INDIANAPOLIS -- Former Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan, a potential New York Giants draft pick, tried to clear his name Thursday in connection with a rape case that rocked his campus.

Lewan's former teammate, kicker Brendan Gibbons, was thrown out of school in December for reportedly violating the school's student sexual misconduct policies in 2009, when he was accused of rape by another student. The alleged victim accused Lewan of threatening her, claiming he said he wanted to rape her if she pursued charges against Gibbons.

Speaking before 20 or 30 reporters at the NFL scouting combine, Lewan insisted he made no such comment.

"It’s a situation between two people,” Lewan said, alluding to Gibbons and the woman. “I’ve said a lot of dumb things, but those are not things I’ve said. I would never disrespect a woman like that. I consider myself a guy who holds doors, not threatens people."

Lewan, widely regarded as one of the top three tackles in the draft, is projected as a first-round pick. He could be available for the Giants (12th overall pick), who absolutely need to upgrade their offensive line. The Giants are a relatively conservative organization, usually staying away from red flags. Obviously, they'd perform due diligence on Lewan.

On the field, there's not much to dislike. Lewan is a polished technician -- he actually returned to school for his senior year -- and he plays with a nasty streak.

"I think my strength as a player is, I like to think I'm very consistent," he said. "I definitely play through the whistle. I also think that's a weakness because everyone likes to comment on that. But I like to play through the whistle and put people in the dirt as much as possible."

Lewan has been known to take it too far. He was involved in a helmet-twisting incident against Michigan State's Isaiah Lewis, and he reportedly was investigated for possible assault after Michigan lost to Ohio State.

“I wasn’t in any fight,” Lewan said. “That’s not who I am off the field.”

Combine watch: CB Justin Gilbert

February, 20, 2014
Feb 20
With the NFL scouting combine set to begin this week, we're taking a look at a handful of prospects the New York Giants might consider with the No. 12 pick in the first round. After profiling offensive players in each of our first four installments, today we finally look at a defensive player.

Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

Why they'd take him: The Giants desperately need to improve on offense this offseason, but that doesn't mean they can ignore the defense completely. They appear to be done with Corey Webster, and while Trumaine McBride played well last year, he didn't necessarily solidify himself as the long-term starter opposite Prince Amukamara. 2012 third-rounder Jayron Hosley hasn't developed much, and starting a pair of young first-round picks at cornerback isn't a bad-sounding idea in today's pass-happy NFL. Amukamara looks like a solid player, but he's not a dominant, shut-down type of corner. Strong play on the opposite side of the field would only help him.

Where he ranks: Our pre-draft rankings have Gilbert as the No. 12 overall player and the No. 1 cornerback. Mel Kiper's latest mock draft Insider has him going No. 10 to the Lions. Todd McShay's latest mock draft Insider has him going No. 21 to the Packers.

Something positive (via ESPN's scouting report): "Excellent height and weight combination (6-0 1/4, 199 lbs) and appears to have long arms for the position."

Something negative: "Will relax on occasion and can lose leverage as a result. Will gamble jumping routes which can make him vulnerable to double moves at times."

History: The last time the Giants took a cornerback in the first round was 2011, when they took Nebraska's Amukamara with the No. 19 pick. They took Aaron Ross in the first round in 2007 and Terrell Thomas in the second round a year later.

Combine watch: WR Mike Evans

February, 19, 2014
Feb 19
With the NFL scouting combine set to begin this week, we're taking a look at a handful of prospects the New York Giants might consider with the No. 12 pick in the first round. Today's entry would be a fun passing-game toy for Eli Manning and a potential replacement for likely free-agent defector Hakeem Nicks.

Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Why they'd take him: The offense needs help everywhere. Even if they brought back Nicks, they could use depth at wide receiver. But especially if Nicks leaves as expected, they'll be looking to replace him with a big outside threat. Evans is certainly big, at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, and the Giants have long believed that Manning prefers a big target since he tends to miss high when he misses throws. As we discussed Friday when we profiled North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, teams that spend a lot on their quarterbacks like to draft weapons for him to use. Evans would fit the profile.

Where he ranks: Our pre-draft rankings have him as the No. 8 overall player and the No. 2 wide receiver. Mel Kiper's latest mock draft Insider has him going No. 13 to the Rams after the Giants take a linebacker, which they never do. Todd McShay's latest mock draft Insider has him going No. 10 to the Lions.

Something positive (via ESPN's scouting report): "Very effective downfield blocker in the run game. Gives great effort. Consistently gets in position and keeps feet moving. Has big frame to wall off defenders."

Something negative: "A slow starter and top-end speed is slightly below average. Does break some tackles and can build adequate speed if he hits a crease, but below average initial burst and elusiveness."

History: The last time the Giants took a wide receiver in the first round was 2009, when they drafted Nicks out of North Carolina with the No. 29 overall pick. They used a second-round pick (63rd overall) on LSU's Rueben Randle in 2012, and they have taken a wide receiver in one of the first three rounds in six of the last eight drafts.

Combine Watch: TE Eric Ebron

February, 14, 2014
Feb 14
With the NFL scouting combine set to begin next week, I thought we'd take a look at a handful of prospects the New York Giants might consider with the No. 12 pick in the first round. I'm going to start today and pick it up again Monday, take you right up until things get going in Indianapolis. Sound good? Yeah, I thought so. Today's entry would be a fun one for Eli Manning, even if he wouldn't address the Giants' most pressing need.

Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Why they'd take him: Maybe they've addressed offensive line to their satisfaction in free agency before the draft rolls around. Maybe they think their line needs are at guard and center, not tackle, and there's no value in taking a guard or center this high. Or maybe, like a lot of teams built around expensive franchise quarterbacks, they want to give their guy more weapons in the passing game. The Giants have been getting by with one-year bargain types at tight end for a few years now. May be time to invest in a longer-term solution.

Where he ranks: Our pre-draft rankings have him as the No. 21 overall player and the No. 1 tight end. Mel Kiper's latest mock draft Insider has him going No. 16 to the Ravens. Todd McShay's latest mock draft Insider also has him going No. 16 to the Ravens.

Something positive (via ESPN's scouting report): "Good height, and is lean but has room to bulk up his frame. Estimated top-end speed is above average."

Something negative: "Unpolished route runner who telegraphs breaks and gets muscled off course, but has the burst to separate from underneath man coverage with improved footwork and added strength."

History: The last time the Giants took a tight end in Round 1 was 2002, when they took Miami's Jeremy Shockey with the 14th overall pick.