With Cameron Jordan off the board to the Chargers, defensive end talent is going off the board quickly. The past 3 picks have all been defensive ends, and San Diego couldn't pass up a quality player like Jordan at a position of need. The Chargers were good on offense and defense last year, and should only be better next year. The question will be whether Norv Turner can take this talented team all the way.
Today, we'll decide on a team that doesn't have a need at defensive end, the first such team in a lot of picks. The New York Giants have hoarded pass rushers for a very long time, but they seem to be set at defensive end this year. Despite that, Aldon Smith fits their prototype. The Giants have other needs, though. Their linebacking corps is pretty weak, and they could use some help at defensive tackle. Safety and cornerback have to be options as well. The offensive line could be upgraded, as age and injuries have diminished the effectiveness of a once dominant group. The Giants could go a lot of ways here, and none of their needs are overwhelming. So who do you think they'll take?
The draft so far:
1. Carolina Panthers - QB Cam Newton
2. Denver Broncos - DT Marcell Dareus
3. Buffalo Bills - DE Von Miller
4. Cincinnati Bengals - WR A.J. Green
5. Arizona Cardinals - QB Blaine Gabbert
6. Cleveland Browns - CB Patrick Peterson
7. San Francisco 49ers - CB Prince Amukamara
8. Tennessee Titans - DT Nick Fairley
9. Dallas Cowboys - OT Tyron Smith
10. Washington Redskins - WR Julio Jones
11. Houston Texans - DE Robert Quinn
12. Minnesota Vikings - QB Ryan Mallett
13. Detroit Lions - DE Da'Quan Bowers
14. St. Louis Rams - DT Corey Liuget
15. Miami Dolphins - RB Mark Ingram
16. Jacksonville Jaguars - DE Ryan Kerrigan
17. New England Patriots - DE J.J. Watt
18. San Diego Chargers - DE Cameron Jordan
QB Jake Locker, Washington: A supremely talented quarterback with some really bad accuracy issues. Jake Locker was hyped badly coming into this year with the expectation that he'd get much better, but that improvement never occurred. Instead, he remained inaccurate and inconsistent. But Locker really reminds me of Josh Freeman - both were inaccurate coming out of college, they weren't big winners, they had trouble reading defenses, but they also had supreme talent at the quarterback position, a great work ethic and good leadership skills.
QB Christian Ponder, Florida State: Christian Ponder is an interesting prospect. He's had a decent career at Florida State, but his senior season was marred by injury leading to some concerns about his arm strengths that are, in my view, unjustified. Ponder is an accurate, smart quarterback who has a lot of attributes of an NFL passer. Honestly, I think this is the most consistent quarterback in the draft whose biggest question mark is whether his injuries have sapped some physical skills.
DE Aldon Smith, Missouri: A defensive end with tons of potential. Smith has a lanky frame and huge arms, and looks like the kind of pass rusher the New York Giants love to hoard. He can bend around the edge, but looks best when making inside moves. He can control linemen and shed to make plays with his long arms, although he isn't the strongest lineman. He has plenty of room in his frame to grow and add weight, and should be even more impressive in a couple of years. Unfortunately he's also very raw and will likely take a while to get used to the NFL. Great potential, but don't expect early returns.
CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado: Jimmy Smith could actually challenge Patrick Peterson as the most talented cornerback in the draft. He's a terrific player who would excel in press-man coverage, and isn't all that different from Darrelle Revis. There are very few negatives about Jimmy Smith on the field. The only problem is that he has some significant questions about his off-field behavior and will drop in the draft because of that. Whoever takes a risk on him will end up with a great cornerback, but will have to worry about keeping him on the field. The Giants could use a cornerback, though it's not a real need.
OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College: Another good, polished lineman from Boston College. Castonzo is a very solid offensive tackle whose physical upside maybe isn't that great, but who can be a very good tackle for years on end. He does need to add some strength physically, but he has the ability to be a good left tackle for years to come. Doesn't have the upside of Tyron Smith, but could still anchor an offensive line. The Giants could use a tackle, so he would fit that.
C/OG Mike Pouncey, Florida: The top interior lineman in the draft, very similar to his brother except he's not that good at snapping the ball. He will likely be a premium lineman for years to come and should provide immediate returns for the team that drafts him. The Giants have some concerns at both guard and center due to injury, and he could fill that need immediately.
WR Jon Baldwin, Pittsburgh: Jonathan Baldwin is huge. At 6'5" 230lbs he could be the new Mike Williams (USC/Lions/Seahawks version), except hopefully without all the problems. He isn't real explosive and doesn't seem to generate a lot of separation from defensive backs, but because of his size he doesn't really need to do that to catch passes. He doesn't fit the Giants' needs, though, who are young and very deep at wide receiver.
WR Leonard Hankerson, Miami(Florida): Leonard Hankerson is a solid all-around receiver who doesn't do anything particularly well. He can run, but he's no speed demon. He's got decent size, but he isn't huge. He's a good route runner, but he's not overly explosive. What sets him apart is his hands and his ability to catch the ball at his highest point, which is very valuable.
LB Akeem Ayers, UCLA: Ayers is a very good player who may have a bigger impact in the pros than in college, depending on the way he develops. He has the athletic ability to be a good pass rusher, but he wasn't asked to do this consistently and should get much better at it with proper coaching. He has good range, he's explosive and a powerful tackler. There are some questions about his speed, though, as he ran a 4.81s 40-yard dash at the combine.
LB/DE Justin Houston, Georgia: Houston is an interesting prospect, as everyone seems to be claiming he should move to linebacker but he seems like a better fit at defensive end. Houston is a pass rusher through and through, and he's good at it. He was very consistent throughout the season as well, but there are some questions about his effort on the field, which is always a red flag. If those questions weren't there he'd probably be a higher pick, too, as there's no doubt he can get after the quarterback.