NFC East: dre kirkpatrick
ESPN.com New York Giants reporter Dan Graziano makes his game-by-game picks for the 2014 season.
Week 1: at Detroit Lions
The Giants are coming off a mess of a preseason, undermanned and overwhelmed, with the offensive line still a mess and the new offense not clicking at all. No one will pick them to win this game. Except me. Prediction: Win
Week 2: Arizona Cardinals
This one's a comedown off the Week 1 surprise, as Arizona's banged-up defense still manages to flummox Eli Manning and collect a few interceptions. It's a bummer of a home opener as reality begins to set in. Prediction: Loss
Week 3: Houston Texans
Houston's defense is as liable as Arizona's to make life miserable for Manning and the offensive line. But Houston has bigger questions on offense than even the Giants, and this is a win for the New York defense against Ryan Fitzpatrick. Prediction: Win
Week 4: at Washington Redskins
Week 5: Atlanta Falcons
The pattern continues, and the Giants overcome two Osi Umenyiora sacks to outscore the Falcons with a furious Manning comeback in the final minutes. The Giants poke their heads over the .500 mark as they make the turn into the most brutal stretch of their schedule. Prediction: Win
Week 6: at Philadelphia Eagles
The Giants don't have Matt Barkley to kick around this time when they visit the City of Brotherly Love. Chip Kelly and the Eagles show them what a truly innovative offense looks like. Prediction: Loss
Week 7: at Dallas Cowboys
The season-long debate about what gives when an anemic Giants offense meets a pathetic Cowboys defense tilts in Dallas' favor in the first meeting. Tony Romo & Co. have more than enough weapons to outscore Manning and his bunch, and the Giants hit the bye with a 3-4 record. Prediction: Loss
Week 9: Indianapolis Colts
After a long break before the Monday night home game, the Giants get taken apart by Andrew Luck, Hakeem Nicks & Co. at MetLife Stadium for a third straight loss. The offense is starting to run more smoothly, but it still doesn't have enough playmakers to outscore one of the league's better offenses. Prediction: Loss
Week 10: at Seattle Seahawks
You're kidding, right? Prediction: Loss
Week 11: San Francisco 49ers
The Giants have obviously handled the Niners in recent years and in some high-profile situations. But by this point in the season, San Francisco's defense is back to full strength, and the 49ers can't afford to lose ground to the Seahawks by failing to beat the team Seattle just beat the week before. Prediction: Loss
Week 12: Dallas Cowboys
A sixth straight loss is by no means out of the question here, as Romo and his crew still have the potential to outscore anyone in a given week. But from this far out, I'll forecast that something goes wrong for Romo late in this game, and the Giants get a gift. Prediction: Win
Week 13: at Jacksonville Jaguars
This is where the schedule starts to soften up, when the Giants start playing teams that insist on not starting their best quarterback. It's unfortunate they're 4-7 at this point and just about out of the playoff hunt, but they will get it going against the bottom-feeders. Prediction: Win
Week 14: at Tennessee Titans
I think the Titans are going to be dreadful this year, and by December they won't be very difficult for anyone to beat, even at home. A third straight victory keeps the Giants' hopes alive. Prediction: Win
Week 15: Washington Redskins
Have to be honest: The NFC East is so unpredictable that, when doing these predictions, I just decided to give the Giants a 3-3 division record with victories in all three home games and losses in all three road games. It's as fair a way as any to do it, I believe. Prediction: Win
Week 16: at St. Louis Rams
After moving back to .500 with four straight wins, the season falls apart at the hands of the St. Louis pass rush. An offensive line that has once again been the Giants' biggest problem all year can't protect Manning in a must-win game. Prediction: Loss
Week 17: Philadelphia Eagles
Tom Coughlin's teams can always find a way to play for pride. The Giants' playoff hopes are extinguished, but they still manage to end the season on a high note and with a .500 record. Prediction: Win
Predicted Record: 8-8
The only time the Cowboys used the 16th pick in the draft came in 1961 when they selected E.J. Holub in the second round. They have not taken a player with the 17th overall pick since cornerback Kevin Smith in 1992. Before that? In 1990 they took Emmitt Smith, who is now the NFL’s all-time leading rusher.
What type of player has been available at Nos. 16 and 17? Here’s a look at the past 10 years.
2013 – EJ Manuel, Buffalo; Jarvis Jones, Pittsburgh
2012 – Quinton Coples, New York Jets; Dre Kirkpatrick, Cincinnati
2011 – Ryan Kerrigan, Washington; Nate Solder, New England
2010 – Derrick Morgan, Tennessee; Mike Iupati, San Francisco
2009 – Larry English, San Diego; Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay
2008 – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Arizona; Gosder Cherilus, Detroit
2007 – Justin Harrell, Green Bay; Jarvis Moss, Denver
2006 – Jason Allen, Miami; Chad Greenway, Minnesota
2005 – Travis Johnson, Houston; David Pollack, Cincinnati
2004 – Shawn Andrews, Philadelphia; D.J. Williams, Denver
2003 – Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh; Bryant Johnson, Arizona.
Polamalu is by far the best player selected in either spot. He will be in the Hall of Fame. There are quality players in there like Williams, Greenway, Rodgers-Cromartie, Iupati, Solder and Kerrigan. Andrews had a pretty good short run as well. Kerrigan is solid and has done some good things versus the Cowboys. Coples has showed some pass rush his first two seasons. I expected more from Kirkpatrick, who was on the Cowboys’ radar in 2012.
The Cowboys held the No. 18 pick in 2013 and traded down to No. 31 with the Niners where they took Travis Frederick. They felt they were in a position to trade down and still pick up a quality player. When they saw Eric Reid, Justin Pugh, Kyle Long and Tyler Eifert go off the board in the next four picks they were left sweating it out until they got Frederick.
"As of now, it’s the only one of scheduled to go to," Garrett said. "Alabama had a pro day earlier in the month and a number of their players were not able to work out cause of injury. We felt it was worthwhile. Logistically it made sense. I am here. I'm going back to Texas. We are going to fly right over Tuscaloosa. It made sense for me to stop there and go to this workout tomorrow. So that is one of the reasons. We have had reps from the Cowboys at a lot of different pro days."Side note: Maybe I'm punchy at the end of a couple of long days, but "We are going to fly right over Tuscaloosa" really made me laugh. Is he going to parachute out of the plane?
Anyway, there are three draft-eligible members of Alabama's national championship defense who could make good sense for the Cowboys at No. 14 in the first round. They are linebacker Courtney Upshaw, safety Mark Barron and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. All of them could be there for the Cowboys to choose from when their turn comes around. Upshaw would help the pass rush, Barron and Kirkpatrick the secondary, and the Cowboys need help and depth in both of those areas.
So, while Garrett's attendance in Tuscaloosa on Thursday doesn't guarantee that the Cowboys take a Crimson Tide defensive player in the first round, it could be offering us some indication of the direction in which they're leaning.
But the Cowboys and the Eagles, right there in the middle of the first round, that's where the fun is when it comes to speculation. And I know you Cowboys fans are enjoying it, so here's some more.
Calvin Watkins reports that the Cowboys plan to bring in Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick for a visit in early April. The team can host up to 30 players, so a Kirkpatrick visit doesn't mean he's the pick. But with the Cowboys still needing to add depth in the secondary and on defense in general, he's a very interesting guy. Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest mock draft had Kirkpatrick going No. 17 overall, so it's possible he'll be there for the Cowboys at 14 if they want him.
We've talked about this a lot, and we'll continue to do so for the next five weeks. Some people like Stanford guard David DeCastro at that No. 14 spot. I personally think the Cowboys need to be thinking defense, and as bad as their secondary was last year taking the best available defensive back at 14 makes a ton of sense to me. That could be Kirkpatrick. Could be Janoris Jenkins. Could be a safety, if Kirkpatrick's national champion teammate Mark Barron is there.
But anyway, Kirkpatrick's going to Valley Ranch the week after next, and I figured you guys could have some fun with that information.
Biggest need: Well, it's quarterback, as everyone within 500 miles of the beltway knows. But the Redskins will also be talking to wide receivers, defensive backs and offensive linemen at this year's combine. They have a number of needs, and a number of different things they can do with the No. 6 overall pick. The key question is whether they'll stay at No. 6. A big part of the combine is the after-hours interaction between team executives, agents, etc. By the end of this week, if they don't already, the Redskins might have some idea about what it would cost them to trade up to No. 2 overall and ensure they could draft Baylor quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. Once they have some idea of that price, they can decide whether Griffin is their answer at quarterback or whether they need to find one in free agency and use the No. 6 pick on a receiver or a defensive back.
Interview targets: The Redskins will surely want to talk to Griffin, along with other, lower-ranked quarterback prospects such as Ryan Tannehill, Brock Osweiler and Brandon Weeden. At other positions, it makes sense for them to be keeping an eye on wide receiver Justin Blackmon, cornerback Morris Claiborne and maybe an offensive tackle such as Riley Reiff.
Later-round sleepers: Boise State safety George Iloka is a second-day type of player on whom the Redskins could have their eye if the chips fall correctly. LaRon Landry looks like he may be a goner in Washington, and they could use some help at safety. And there's some buzz right now about Midwestern State tackle Amini Silatolu, who projects as a guard in the NFL and might look nice on the left side of the line next to Trent Williams.
Biggest need: They have several, but none so glaring as cornerback. When one of your starters gets hurdled by two fullbacks in the division title game, you know you have a problem at the position. The Cowboys pick 14th in the first round, and if they've addressed cornerback in free agency they could use the pick on a pass rusher, a safety or even an interior offensive lineman like Stanford's David DeCastro. But even if they pick up a big-name free-agent corner, it's not out of the question they could draft another in the first round. Their need at the position is that desperate.
Interview targets: With Claiborne almost certain to be gone by 14, the two corners on which the Cowboys have their eye are Janoris Jenkins and Dre Kirkpatrick. But they'll surely check in on DeCastro as well as pass rushers such as Melvin Ingram and Courtney Upshaw. Mel Kiper had the Cowboys taking Alabama safety Mark Barron in his most recent mock draft, and with Abram Elam's 2012 status in doubt, it wouldn't be a huge shock to see them take the top available safety at 14.
Later-round sleepers: Todd McShay's recent post on possible combine sleepers mentions Montana cornerback Trumaine Johnson and McNeese State safety Janzen Jackson as guys who could be there for the Cowboys at need positions after the first round.
Biggest need: The Eagles need linebackers — at least two of them. The issue is whether there is value at that position in the first round. If Boston College's Luke Kuechly is still there at No. 15, it would make a ton of sense for the Eagles to take him. But Andy Reid's draft history doesn't indicate that he likes taking linebackers that high. In spite of their disappointing 2011 season, the Eagles don't look, on paper, like a team with a lot of obvious needs. If they don't take a linebacker at 15, I'd expect them to either move down or pick a big defensive tackle such as Fletcher Cox, Devon Still or Dontari Poe. And if DeSean Jackson is traded or leaves via free agency, they could target a wide receiver such as Michael Floyd or Kendall Wright.
Interview targets: All of those names above, but I'm going to throw the two cornerbacks in here as well Kirkpatrick and Jenkins. The Eagles obviously love to stock up on cornerbacks, and if they trade Asante Samuel for salary/overcrowding reasons, it's not crazy to imagine them deciding one of those corners has too much value to pass up. As for their troubled pasts... hey, this is Andy Reid we're talking about here.
Later-round sleepers: Michael Vick's not going to be around forever, so don't be surprised to see the Eagles spend an early-round or mid-round pick on a quarterback such as Osweiler or Nick Foles. But those guys aren't really sleepers, because you've heard of them. Nebraska's Lavonte David is a well-regarded, if undersized, linebacker prospect. At wide receiver, remember the name Tim Benford from Tennessee Tech.
New York Giants
Biggest need: Offensive line. The champs patched it together in January with a line that wasn't very good in the first half of the season but played big when it needed to. But Kareem McKenzie looks set to leave as a free agent, David Diehl won't play forever and the Giants need to be thinking about what their offensive line will look like in the future. They haven't taken an offensive lineman in the first round since Luke Petitgout in 1999, but at No. 32, their pick is barely in the first round, and they'll take the best player available, as they always do. Don't be surprised if that player is a tight end such as Clemson's Dwayne Allen. The Giants did lose two tight ends to knee injuries in the Super Bowl. Oh, and if they lose both Aaron Ross and Terrell Thomas in free agency, they may need a cornerback.
Interview targets: Allen and Stanford's Coby Fleener at tight end. Mike Adams and Bobby Massie at tackle. I also wouldn't be surprised to see them look at a versatile rush linebacker like Marshall's Vinny Curry. I always think the Giants need help at linebacker, though they never seem to agree.
Later-round sleepers: Louisiana-Lafayette tight end Ladarius Green could fill a need for them in the middle rounds if his knees check out this week. And the Giants like to take late-round running backs, so keep an eye on Senior Bowl star Doug Martin from Boise State.
6. Washington Redskins: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU. Mel believes the Redskins could move out of this slot***, in particular if they make a play to move up and take quarterback Robert Griffin III. But Mel's mocks don't deal in potential trades, and he believes Claiborne represents the best value for Washington at No. 6, even given the team's obvious needs on offense. Mel says Claiborne "is actually a better pure cover corner than Patrick Peterson, the No. 5 overall pick from last year." No question, that would help.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron, S, Alabama. Yes, a big percentage of this year's first round will be players who played in the BCS National Championship Game. Mel thinks Dallas' biggest need is defensive back, and he thinks the safety Barron represents better value at 14 than the next-best cornerback he has still available (Barron's teammate, Dre Kirkpatrick). As ever, the caveat is what happens in free agency. If they get a bunch of defensive backs in free agency, I believe they'll be looking for a pass rusher here. The next pass rusher off Mel's board is Illinois' Whitney Mercilus, whom he has going to Tennessee at No. 20.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox, DT Mississippi State. Mel has Luke Kuechly gone already, and while linebacker is the Eagles' greater need, he doesn't see value for them at that position in this spot. I kind of agree, though if they don't get a linebacker here I think they need to make sure and get one in Round 2 or 3. Cox would help shore up the middle of Jim Washburn's defensive line rotation.
32. New York Giants: Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson. The champs lost two tight ends in the Super Bowl, and if Allen's still on the board at 32, he makes as much sense as anyone. If not, my guess is they pick an offensive lineman here.
***NOTE: This isn't, per se, an NFC East point, but it does affect the Redskins, at least tangentially. Mel has the Rams taking Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon with the No. 2 pick, and it made me think about the Rams' leverage in these negotiations with the teams that will want the pick to ensure they get Griffin. Even if, say, the Redskins become the only team willing to trade for the pick, the Rams still have plenty of leverage. Someone like Blackmon or USC tackle Matt Kalil would fill a major need for them, and if no team wants to give them the multiple-first-round-picks package they'll surely be seeking in exchange, they can very easily stay right where they are and get a potentially great player who can help them for years to come. It's not as though the Rams need to be out of No. 2. They'll only do it if they get blown away. Worth keeping in mind.
6. Washington Redskins: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU. This came up in this morning's breakfast links, with John Keim of the Washington Examiner suggesting cornerback at a spot where most people have been hoping or assuming the Redskins would take a quarterback or wide receiver. But Mel's got Andrew Luck gone to Indy at No. 1, Robert Griffin III gone to Cleveland at No. 4 and Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon gone to St. Louis at No. 2, and he doesn't forecast trades. He also doesn't have another quarterback going in the first round, so second-tier options like Ryan Tannehill could still be available there if this were to come true. I'm curious to see whether Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd could get this high, though he said this week that he's dropping out of the Senior Bowl, where Mike Shanahan and the Redskins will be one of the coaching staffs.
14. Dallas Cowboys: David DeCastro, G, Stanford. Seems high for a guard, and it would seem odd for the Cowboys to spend top-15 picks on offensive line two years in a row. But other than cornerback, interior offensive line is the Cowboys' biggest need position, and Mel has Claiborne and Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick gone in the top 10. I wonder if the Cowboys would maneuver to grab a pass-rushing outside linebacker such as Alabama's Courtney Upshaw or South Carolina's Melvin Ingram, who are gone at No. 10 and 12, respectively, in Mel's mock.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College. No question linebacker is the Eagles' biggest need, but will Andy Reid really go far enough out of character to take one in the middle of the first round? Everybody loves Kuechly for his instincts and tackling, and those are two aspects of their linebacking corps the Eagles desperately need to improve. I could see, as Mel says he could also, the Eagles taking a safety here. (Mel has Alabama's Mark Barron going next, to the Jets.) And if they part ways with DeSean Jackson, the Eagles could certainly look for a wide receiver in the first round. But Kuechly seems like a big pile of exactly what Philadelphia needs.
29*. New York Giants: Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State. The Giants will pick in this spot if they lose Sunday, 31st if they win Sunday and lose the Super Bowl and a very happy 32nd if they win the Super Bowl. Tackle's not a bad way to go, since they have some question marks there. Right tackle Kareem McKenzie is a free agent and Will Beatty didn't look like the answer at left tackle before eye surgery ended his season. David Diehl has played well there since, but he's 31, and it can't hurt to add young depth at a spot like this. The Giants could use help at linebacker and maybe in the secondary depending what happens with Terrell Thomas, but clearly, since they're still playing this week, their needs appear to be relatively few.