What To Do At Number Two?

By John Camera

The San Francisco 49ers have a franchise-changing decision to make at pick number two in the 2017 NFL Draft. Presuming the Cleveland Browns make the right choice and go with All-World Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, the 9ers will have a litany of players worth taking at two but no one is the clear second-best player in the class after Garrett. They could continue to bolster their defense, making it their 5th straight year of adding a first round talent to their defense, with potential stalwarts like Solomon Thomas, Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker, and Jamal Adams. Unfortunately their defensive selections haven’t fixed a defense that lost so much, so quickly with a slew of sudden retirements a couple years ago.

Their 2013 1st rounder, Eric Reid, never lived up to his potential at LSU and is still an over-aggressive, poor tackler who isn’t great in coverage. In 2014, they selected Jimmie Ward, who’s been a solid nickel back, a hybrid between slot corner and free safety, but hasn’t been a difference maker. 2015 pick Arik Armstead has been hampered by injuries and may make a move to SAM Linebacker. 2016 pick DeForest Buckner is easily the best of the bunch and looks to be a defensive pillar for years to come. The 9ers could add another one next to him in the young and still-developing DL terror that is Stanford’s Solomon Thomas. Thomas can play the DE spot in the 9ers revamped 4-3 defense and shift inside on passing downs to work next to Buckner.

San Francisco can also look to add reinforcements to a secondary that badly needs it. Starting Corner Traimane Brock is out and the aforementioned underwhelming draft picks the 49ers took in 2013 and 2014 still leave a lot to be desired. San Francisco could look to add Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore who could team with last year’s reclamation project Rashard Robinson, who had a very promising rookie year in his first action since 2014 (he was formerly kicked off the LSU football squad). Lattimore would give San Fran a huge upgrade at CB and create a young Cornerback corp that could be very good in a short time along with Robinson and Ward. They could look to add a play-making ball hawk at Free Safety, adding Malik Hooker to their defense and letting him patrol the middle of the field. Finally, the 49ers could select LSU’s Jamal Adams and bring on a high-character Safety who could ideally play FS, SS, and even a little CB. Most draft pundits seem to pigeonhole him as a SS but I believe he has enough speed to stick at Free.

While defense is likely the pick, San Francisco could also look to add an offensive player to kickstart the struggling unit. Runningback Leonard Fournette would be an upgrade over the injury prone Carlos Hyde and could give the 49ers a formidable tandem that could run over opposing defenses. However, the last pick that is possible but I would highly recommend they don’t make, is selecting UNC Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Trubisky is a fine Quarterback, and after some time could very well become a solid NFL starter in the right situation. And while new HC Kyle Shanahan figures to be in the market for a new QB with Colin Kaepernick gone, he shouldn’t take a boom or bust prospect when he can grab a true difference maker from day one with this pick.

The 2017 Cornerback Class is Legendary (And Might Just Be On Par with the 2014 WR Class)

By John Camera

One you rattle off the Wide Receivers taken in the 2014 NFL Draft, it sounds like you’re listing the best receivers in the game today. Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham, Kelvin Benjamin, Brandin Cooks, Davante Adams, Allen Robinson, Jarvis Landry, etc. To prevent this article from being a list I will direct you to all the WRs taken in the 2014 draft. The class wasn’t just deep at the top, everyone single Round 1 receiver hit, but the depth is impressive as well. That very same attribute could be applied to a similarly ridiculously-loaded Cornerback class this year.

Starting off at the top of this Cornerback class are two familiar names from familiar schools; Marshon Lattimore from The Ohio State and Marlon Humphrey from Alabama. Lattimore, despite some injury red flags over his hamstrings, should go first just because of his combination of speed, fluidness, technique, and ball skills. Simply put, Lattimore is the complete package. Humphrey is also rock-solid and is my favorite Alabama CB to date. He’s very good in both man and zone coverage and is super aggressive attacking the ball; his run defense has even made some draft evaluators see him as a Strong Safety. I think both of these guys will go in the top 15 as likely the first two CBs off the board.

Some of the depth players that should also go in the first and second rounds include Lattimore’s teammate Gareon Conley, Florida CBs Quincy Wilson and Teez Tabor, Washington’s Sidney Jones, and Colorado’s Chidobe Azuwie. Excepting Azuwie, all of these CBs fit the new mold of big, tall athletes who can run with and cover the biggest, most freakish athletes the NFL has to offer today. Any one of them would be considered CB1 in a regular draft class; but this is no regular draft class.

The sleepers to look for in this year’s class include UCLA’s Fabian Moreau and teammate of Chidobe Awuzie, Ahkello Witherspoon. Moreau is sort of Marshon Lattimore-lite; speedy, smooth, and just generally does a great job of locking his man down in coverage. He should be a total steal for whoever can steal him on Day 2. Witherspoon is a huge 6’3” freak with good speed and surprisingly good polish. He could be very similar to Sean Smith and be a huge asset to a team like New Orleans or Tampa Bay, who are tasked with facing Julio Jones twice a year.

Just to show off the insane depth of this class, here are a few more names that could be the Donte Moncriefs and Quincy Enunwas of this year’s CB class; guys who are underappreciated because of the sheer talent ahead of them. Be on the look out for UT’s Cameron Sutton, LSU’s Tre’Davious White, Miami’s Corn Elder, and WVU’s Rasul Douglas. If your team drafts a CB this year, you’d be safe to assume he’s going to be a good one.

2017 New York Giants Mock Draft 1.0

By John Camera

The New York Giants returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2011 last season and enter this year with some needs but few glaring red flags. This is a team that could very well draft by best player available, which is difficult to project. Here is my take on what the Giants could do to improve their roster for 2017 and beyond.

1st Round: David Njoku, TE, Miami (Fl.)

Njoku is one of the most athletic Tight Ends in this year’s class and would give this Giants offense the extra dimension they were lacking this past season over the middle. Njoku would feast on single coverage from Linebackers and Safeties and give Eli Manning a dual threat up the seam and in the flat.

2nd Round: Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami (Fl.)

The Giants double up on Miami prospects and get their QB of the future in Kaaya. Eli Manning isn’t getting any younger and steps into a nearly perfect situation. He’ll have some dangerous weapons at receiver and an O-line that is getting better around him. He can sit for a year or two and be the Aaron Rodgers to Eli’s Brett Favre.

3rd Round: Antonio Garcia, OL, Troy

Garcia has showed a lot of promise playing tackle at Sun Belt standout Troy. He could stand to add more weight and strength but Garcia is a lot closer to being a polished, starting-caliber Tackle than most seem to think. He could compete right away for a starting tackle job.

4th Round: Duke Reily, LB, LSU

Reily is exactly what the Giants need at Linebacker; youth and speed. He brings both in spades and ought to be New York’s starting WILL for the long term. He’s an underrated player who was overshadowed by bigger names like Jamal Adams and Kendell Beckwith on his team. He was arguably the best linebacker on his team on the tape I’ve watched.

5th Round: Matthew Dayes, RB, North Carolina State

The Giants have one half of their backfield future filled out when Paul Perkins grabbed the starting job late in the year. Matt Dayes is the perfect change of pace, power back to complement Perkins. While Dayes isn’t the biggest RB in the world, he has good strength to push the pile and succeed as a short yardage and goal line runner.

6th Round: Carroll Phillips, EDGE, Illinois

Although teammate Dawuane Smoot may be getting more pub from the draft media, Phillips could turn out to be the better NFL player. He’s a lot more athletic than Smoot and while he is a project pass rusher, he is worth drafting and developing.

7th Round: Aarion Penton, CB, Missouri

New York has their  CBs of the future in Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie likely lasting one more year. The Giants should keep DRC but drafting his replacement is a good idea. Penton is a good fit in Steve Spagnuolo’s aggressive defense and despite being just 5’9″, the feisty corner could develop into a productive third CB.