Just finished reading a column on the Giants' needs in the upcoming draft (Rotoworld, Mar 25). Our colleagues John Norris and Evan Silva not only go through the team's needs but who specifically the Giants might target.
The needs are no surprise: safety, offensive line and defensive end. The Giants are light at safety and have mildly addressed the other two positions in free agency.
From Silva: It wouldn't be a stretch to call the Giants' safety depth chart the worst in the league. Perhaps they'll re-sign Stevie Brown, though he was benched last year for Quintin Demps, who is also a free agent. SS Antrel Rolle bolted for Chicago. Left behind are people named Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe, two former fifth-round picks who have combined to play 37 NFL snaps. Although his approach has differed based on his personnel, new DC Steve Spagnuolo generally uses one of his safeties in center field, the other as an in-the-box defender. The Giants need multiple additions at safety.
I agree. They need to get some fresh legs in here pronto. But the Giants won't burn their first-round pick on a safety. None of the safeties in the draft are worthy of the ninth overall selection. And the Giants don't operate that way, anyhow. They will take the best player available as they always do.
In this case, Norris believes that will be Nebraska DE Randy Gregory. I believe the Giants will shy away from Gregory now it has been revealed that he failed a drug test at last month's Combine. They will probably select from a group that could consist of Iowa OL Brandon Scherff, WR Amari Cooper of Alabama, Louisville WR DeVante Parker and Washington DL Danny Shelton.
Norris is predicting the Giants will select safeties in the second and third rounds. Sounds reasonable to me the Giants target safeties early in the draft -- it's just the choices Norris names are not the sexy ones many mock draft experts have been bandying about:
[sny-box]Round 2 (40): S Quinten Rollins, Miami (Ohio) - Yes, safety. Specifically free. Despite playing only one season of college football, Rollins was a natural in terms of timing and ball skills. He is so fluid for the position. Rollins tested like a below-average athlete at defensive back, but I think he plays with quickness on the field due to his vision, recognition and angles.
Round 3 (74): S James Sample, Louisville - Evan gets his wish with back-to-back safeties. Gerod Holliman received a lot of attention in Louisville’s defensive backfield due to 14 interceptions. Sample is the better player, albeit at a different position. Sample is best as a split safety or closer to the line of scrimmage. He would be a nice complement to Rollins.[/sny-box]
Rollins (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) was a four-year starter on Miami's basketball team and then joined the football team as a fifth-year senior. He played predominately at corner, but many see him making the switch to safety as a pro.
From Mike Huguenin of NFL.com:
During NFL Network's coverage of the combine, NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock said Rollins' ball skills are "unreal," and also said he is "competitive, quick and tough." But that speed might mean Rollins only can be a nickel corner or even a safety...Still, he has an intriguing upside -- and it's partly because of his inexperience.Sample is 6-2, 210 and and the kind of player the Giants could use as their box safety. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com on Sample:
"He's going to go higher than people think," said Mayock, who said he thinks Rollins will be a second- or third-round pick.
Physical box safety with good meat on the bones and a willingness to play physical football. Sample is stymied by his lack of football experience, which plays into his lack of instincts and coverage talent at his position. Sample shows good play speed and ability to range, but needs more time to develop into a more complete player.
I agree these two players may be just what the Giants need. If you recall, the Giants won Super Bowl XLII with Gibril Wilson and James Butler at safety. Wilson was a fifth-round draft pick and Butler undrafted. Under Spagnuolo, the Giants just have to get the bodies in the door. These two identified above, along with last year's fifth-rounder, Nat Berhe, could get the job done.