Draft Week: Top DT Candidates


Let me be the first to wish you all a Happy Draft Weekend! With so much negativity and confusion surrounding the NFL these days, it’s nice to have a little time to enjoy a positive weekend of football fun, regardless of whether the Class of 2011 will see action this year.

The Giants are in position to pick up some strong talent to add to the roster without having to break the bank on a top ranked player. With the exception of Eli Manning, this has been the trend in recent years and it has served them well, despite two disappointing endings to otherwise strong seasons in the last couple of seasons. There are, of course, a few needs, including Defensive Tackles, though like most people I do not believe a first round pick is necessary here. I would much rather the 19th pick go to a top offensive player.

I would, however, like to see the Giants use pick number 52 on a DT, mostly due to the lack of certainty on the current roster. The only proven player that is all but guaranteed to return this season is Chris Canty. Barry Cofield and Rocky Bernard may be lost to free agency, and Linval Joseph is an unproven second year player. Joseph was a second round pick last year and is probably ready to see action, though the pressure will be on if Canty is the only other returning player.

Fortunately there is a great deal of talent in this year’s draft pool at the DT position, so the Giants can wait until the second or even third round to get a strong player at a bargain price. The writers at Bruno Boys Fantasy Football were kind enough to rank the DTs, and rather than spend and endless amount of time debating each ranking, I will post the following and call it law:

1.Marcell DareusAlabama Crimson Tide
2.Nick FairleyAuburn Tigers
3.Muhammad WilkersonTemple Owls
4.Corey LiugetIllinois Fighting Illini
5.Phil TaylorBaylor Bears
6.Stephen PaeaOregon State Beavers
7.Marvin AustinNorth Carolina Tar Heels
8.Jarvis JenkinsClemson Tigers
9.Drake NevisLouisiana State Tigers
10.Christian BallardIowa Hawkeyes
11.Kenrick EllisHampton Pirates
12.Jurrell CaseySouthern California Trojans
13.Jerrell PowellOle Miss Rebels
14.Terrell McClainSouth Florida Bulls
15.Sione FuaStanford Cardinal
16.Martin ParkerRichmond Spiders
17.Lawrence GuyArizona State Sun Devils
18.Cedric ThorntonSouthern Arkansas Muleriders
19.Adrian TaylorOklahoma Sooners
20.Sealver SiligaUtah Utes
21.Ian WilliamsNotre Dame Fighting Irish
22.John GravesVirginia Tech Hokies
23.David CarterUCLA Bruins
24.Ladi AjiboyeSouth Carolina Gamecocks
25.Colby WhitlockTexas Tech Red Raiders

Below are a few players the Giants are said to be considering:

Corey Liuget – Jr. Illinois

Although young and undersized, Liuget has the kind of athletic presence that Reese normally likes in his draft picks. Despite his size, he is powerful and has good, strong hands. He does need a bit more discipline to help him play with more urgency, but he should be an impact player from the start. Unfortunately he will likely be long gone by the time the Giants are ready to pick, and the need at DT is not so great that there would be a reason to trade up.

Phil Taylor – Sr. Baylor

The biggest upside I see to Taylor is his size, because the Giants always seem undersized to me compared to other linemen. Because of this he can really dominate the line of scrimmage and force running backs to go around him, rather than through him. He also has good quickness relative to his size. On the downside, his hands aren’t great and he has some questions of character. Still, like Liuget, he will go early and will make an impact on his team.

Stephen Paea – Sr. Oregon State

What he lacks in size he makes up for in heart. Paea is quick off the snap and has great feet that are constantly moving. He gets pushed around a bit because of his size, though he can get down low and take out his opponents at the legs. He will need to bulk up more to be as competitive as he will want to be in the NFL. Paea is likely to be on the board into the second round and is an option for the Giants.

Marvin Austin – Sr. North Carolina

On paper Austin is a great choice due to his athleticism, speed and strong hands. He is powerful and has great balance, allowing him to stay on his feet longer than most. But there are a lot of questions about his character that cannot be ignored, especially by the Giants, who still feel the bitter taste of losing Plaxico Burress a couple years ago. He has a great deal of potential that most experts agree he has yet to realize. In short, football needs to be a priority when you are in the NFL, and there are too many questions surrounding Austin and his commitment to the game.

Drake Nevis – Sr. LSU

Similar to Austin, Nevins is a small but quick player with great balance. He has a great first step off the snap though has difficulty recovering if he loses that edge. Unlike Austin, there are no character questions and is more likely to be on the board during the second or possibly third pick.

Jarvis Jenkins  – Sr. Clemson

Another atheltically-gifted player, Jenkins has seen the most success as a first step tackle. He twists well and pursues the play to the sidelines, all impressive feats considering his size, which is not quite as impressive as Taylor but is still formidable. He does underachieve in the strength category, which should be more impressive due to his size, and he needs better hands. But there is a lot of heart and even more potential here, and will likely be scooped up in the second round.

Kendrick Ellis – Sr. Hampton

There is some debate about Ellis and his abilities. The chart above has him ranked at number 11, yet our friends at si.com project him going in the fourth round, instead of the third. And given his past off-field issues and size, the largest of the group discussed here, it’s no wonder. Ellis is powerful and is quick for his size, moving well along the line and easily clogs the middle. But he is simply not in good enough shape to compete at this level. Moreover, he was dismissed from South Carolina in 2008 for breaking several rules. He should be commended for making a fresh start at the smaller atmosphere at Hampton, but the Giants would need to seriously question his ability to continue to avoid distractions in the biggest market in the league.

Jurrell Casey – Jr. USC

While not as athletic as some of the other players here, he has great hands and is quick off the snap. He keeps his feet moving and has good leverage against his opponents. There is not as much obvious potential as some of the other choices, but he would do well as a one-gap tackle or three-technique lineman.

Although my first choice would be Liuget, there is little chance the Giants will have a chance at drafting him, and as I mentioned before, I would prefer the Giants take a DT in the second or third round. For his size and heart, my first choice is Jarvis Jenkins, because his flaws, most notably with his hands, are things that can be corrected, and he should have the drive to improve his game. If Jenkins is gone, I also like Drake Nevins and Stephen Paea for their athleticism and potential, though I do wish they were a bit bigger to add bulk to the line. But they are the kind of players that Reese likes to draft, then move around along the line as injuries and other issues demand changes. But whoever the Giants choose, I have faith that Jerry Reese and company will perform as well, if not better, as they have in the past.