Giants GM Jerry Reese has struggled to assemble quality prospects in the mid to late rounds of his seven drafts. If you believe in the future exploits of Jerrel Jernigan and Damontre Moore, then his 3rd rounds have been productive (also Mario Manningham in 2008). But in the deep gem department, the list of impact contributors ends after the brilliant evaluation on Ahmad Bradshaw (7th round) in 2007. In order for the Giants to undergo a swift rejuvenation back to competitive ball in the coming seasons, Reese needs to scrape talent out of the 3rd-6th rounds and take ownership of all three draft days.
Here’s a four-pack of sleeper prospects tabbed in the 3rd round and beyond that the Giants should be acknowledging:
1. Caraun Reid, DT Princeton (3rd round) — A local kid from the Bronx, Reid possesses physical packaging similar to former Giants’ draft pick Jay Alford. He’s an undersized interior lineman with an explosive burst best utilized rushing the quarterback. Unfortunately, the leverage he uses in passing situations doesn’t translate against the run where he’s frequently pushed back. Reid’s intelligence carries over to the gridiron and his play awareness is sound. He lined up outside with success in the Ivy (FCS), but it goes without saying that the NFL is a different animal.
2. Charles Leno, OT Boise State (4th round) — Leno is a project left tackle with significant upside. The intrigue surrounding his overall agility, length and footwork could result in him flying off the board earlier than anticipated. Leno arrived on the Boise campus as a 265 lb. tight end, so he’s still raw on the nuances of the position. Wherever he ends up, his new team will have him in the weight room immediately. Does he possess the personality to put in the work? To dominate? The Giants love mean streak linemen, but Leno’s athletic gifts are difficult to overlook.
3. Kenny Ladler, FS Vanderbilt (5th or 6th round) — Will Hill/Stevie Brown insurance policy. Perhaps most renowned for tripping after his 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, Ladler is slipping through the cracks a bit. His frame is prototype and he’s a smooth athlete with space to roam. Another intelligent player, Ladler recognizes formations while staying disciplined against the play action. He closes well on receivers and attacks downhill against the run. His tackling technique and willingness to bear the brunt of a hit are questionable despite his stature. The Giants selected Jonathan Goff out of Vandy in 2008 (5th round) and injuries stunted his career growth.
4. Rajion Neal, RB Tennessee (6th round) — Ahmad Bradshaw 2.0? Not exactly, but there are eerie similarities in build, low running style and ability to squeeze through tight spaces. However, Bradshaw was uber-competitive and refused to go down, while Neal’s desire has come under question and he doesn’t consistently battle for YAC. What he does bring to the table: natural receiving skills out of the backfield and instinctive blocking, two areas the Giants are looking to infuse into the roster. Neal put together his most prodigious statistical (rushing) output within a spread-based, shotgun heavy run scheme.