Now that the 2017 NFL Combine has come to an end, team personnel are given a new insight on draft prospects. This stat-driven outlook is a great way for players to confirm or dispel controversies about their physical or mental abilities. It can also be especially useful for under-the-radar prospects who are looking to climb the draft boards. These sleepers are usually selected within the mid-to-late rounds of the draft which are held on days two and three of the NFL Draft. These are the picks that can make or break a draft class and impact how a team plays the following year. With holes at offensive tackle, tight end, and wide receiver, here are some mid-round sleepers the New York Giants should target.
2017 NFL Draft: New York Giants Post-Combine Mid-Round Sleepers
The 2017 offensive line draft class is the worst it’s been in years, not to mention the tackle position specifically. With limited options outside the top few prospects, it came down to the Combine for players to showcase their talent and prove themselves to scouts. Here are some of the tackles that came ready to impress.
Antonio Garcia, tackle, Troy University
The left tackle out of Troy put his athleticism on display this weekend during his workouts. Antonio Garcia measured in at 6’6″, 293 pounds before posting solid numbers when in the drills. His height and frame gives him an advantage going into the league, but ultimately needs to gain some muscle and put on some more weight before reaching his fullest potential. Despite benching 24 reps, the main concern that arises is his ability to maintain the weight he’s added. Overall he provides excellent pass protection and can anchor his feet while still maintaining his block in the run game. He still needs some technical work, but with a year or so of experience in the league, the progression should come naturally. Expect to see Garcia gone sometime in the third round. The choice should be a no brainer if he falls to the Giants at 87th overall.
Aviante Collins, tackle, TCU
One of the most intriguing offensive line prospects during the combine was none other than Aviante Collins. Although he didn’t have much hype going in, he came ready to perform. Collins ran a 4.81 40-yard dash which was the fastest out of the position by a significant margin. He accompanied this feat by showcasing his strength, recording 34 bench reps, second most for an offensive lineman this year. When you combine this with his freakish 6’6″ build and slap on 295 pounds, you’re looking at one athletic player. His athleticism allowed him to be a more versatile player, as his main position was right tackle, but often would start at left tackle.
After record breaking performances, this year’s tight end class is deep. With plenty of talent to go around, expect this next generation at the position to leave an impact. For the sake of analyzing mid-round sleepers, players like O.J. Howard, David Njoku, Gerald Everett, Evan Engram, and Bucky Hodges will not be mentioned as they are above the radar prospects.
George Kittle, tight end, Iowa
Being one of the lesser known prospects going into the Combine, George Kittle didn’t hold back on any of the drills. He finished third at the position in both 40-yard dash and the broad jump, finishing with a 4.54 time and 11 feet respectively. If you take into consideration his 35 inch vertical jump and 18 bench reps, his 6’4″, 250-pound frame is starting to look unfair. Even though he possesses such dominant physical traits, he saw limited opportunities as a receiving threat. Throughout his career in Iowa, he only hauled in 46 passes, but what’s impressive is that he only has one drop during that time span. Instead, he was utilized more as a blocker, where he found true success. In fact, Pro Football Focus has him rated as one of the top blocking tight ends and even had him rated as the nation’s best overall tight end before the 2016 season started. If the Giants can’t secure an early round tight end selection, Kittle should still be available for Jerry Reese and company on day four.
Jonnu Smith, tight end, Florida International
The first-team All-Conference USA tight end had a field day this Friday at the Combine. He was a top performer in the vertical jump, broad jump, and the 20 and 60-yard shuttles. His 4.62 40 time doesn’t look too impressive on paper but when you look at his 6’3″, 245-pound build, it shows that the big man can move. Smith comes equipped with pro-ready strength which gives him enormous upside in his blocking abilities. Although inconsistent as a receiver, he’s able to make a move on all three levels of the field and produce yards after the catch. Jonnu Smith is a guy with a lot of potential and if available on day three, he could serve as an upgrade to the Giants at the tight end position.
Both wideouts featured below are 6’2″ or taller (based on Combine results). Potential receiver draftees are not limited to their height, but keep in mind it’s a priority characteristic for the Giants. Odell Beckham is 5’11″ and Sterling Shepard is 5’10″. The team is lacking a tall, outside receiver, something Eli Manning has historically played better with. These options could fit their needs.
Kenny Golladay, wide receiver, Northern Illinois
As a poster child prospect for a height, weight, and speed prospect, Kenny Golladay stands at 6’4″, 218 pounds, and runs a 4.50 40-yard dash. This size is no fluke. In fact, he finished with 18 reps on the bench press during his combine performance, tying for third most at the position this year. If that wasn’t enough, his 32 inch arms and 35.5 inch vertical jump compliment his freakish physical characteristics perfectly. Given his frame, he’s able to extend and expand his catch radius to increase chances of coming down with the pass. Although vertical separation won’t be an issue, his route running needs some work. With the right play call and opportunity, the 2016 All-MAC first-team selection possess the potential to become a bully in the red zone. If the position isn’t addressed in an earlier round, Golladay is a smart selection in the fourth or fifth.
Zay Jones, wide receiver, East Carolina
Coming from winning NFL bloodline, Zay Jones is posed for success in the league. If family legacy wasn’t enough, he’s made some history of his own. The 2016 second-team All-American is the all-time FBS receptions leader with 399, 156 of them coming in 2016 alone, which is the FBS record for most receptions in a single season by one player. This record-breaking performance is only part of what makes Jones such an interesting athlete. During the Combine, he measured at 6’2″, 201 pounds while running a 4.45 40-yard dash. His talent doesn’t stop there. He also recorded an 11’1″ broad jump, and had some of the top times at the receiver position in both the 20 and 60-yard shuttle. Top-tier athleticism accompanied with a serious frame gives Jones a lot to boast. If receivers are going fast early on, it may be smart for Giants to target him in the second round if available. He may be available in the third, but it’s hard to imagine this prospect falling past day two.