If the Giants were forced to ‘sacrifice’ one starting OL in free agency, my money would be on it being ORG Jason Whittle rather than an OT as the Giants believe they can develop them cheaply as proven last season. The Giants being the Giants, don’t look for a ‘pure’ OG as they will need to be able to play another position in order to help with depth at more than one spot. There are some good prospects, but the better ones will be taken off the board on the first day and depth isn’t very good at the position this year.
I watched the top rated OG prospect Eric Steinbach (Iowa) very closely against Wisconsin and for a short while against Northwestern and was extremely impressed. He has very quick feet, slides well in pass protection and almost never let his man off his block and back into the play blocking for the run inside. He also showed he can get out in front of plays and lead the RB around the corner with a crushing block at the point of attack. He also looks to actively help out his line-mates when free and wasn’t prepared to put up with any crap at the end of a play. At 6'5¾”, 292lb's with great mobility, he would fit very nicely into our offense with all the trapping and pulling we ask our interior OL to do.
At the Senior Bowl, the coaching staff experimented with him at OLT to take and reports from the practice sessions indicate that he did a good job there. If the NFL teams feel the same way, he could make a dramatic climb up the draft board as quality pass protectors for the blind-side are hard to find most years and the 2003 draft doesn’t have more than a couple of them. Right now, I’d say he ranks as an early-mid 2nd round choice (and that’s before I see him battling Penn State’s Jimmy Kennedy, the draft’s top rated DT prospect!). However, he looks very angular and there is a lot of room to add weight and muscle to his frame so he may not be as ready to start in the NFL at OG as his skills suggest though a Pro Bowl could be in his future. If he is seen as an OT, his athletic ability may allow him to step in quicker while he fills out his frame and may also clinch him a spot in the 1st round.
Torrin Tucker (Southern Mississippi) is considered a ‘hot’ prospect and may appeal to the Giants if they were looking for an immediate starter. At 6’5½”, 323lb’s with long arms, he started at ORG this season but also has experience at ORT and is considered athletic enough and strong enough to play either in the pro’s. Reports from the Senior Bowl indicate that he had a very good week and the consensus of opinion on the various draft sites on the internet is that he will be a 2nd round pick. I’ll watch him play against Louisville before I give my opinion on him
Garry Johnson (Arkansas State) is another considered a ‘hot’ prospect but is an unknown quantity I am unlikely ever to see outside of an All-Star game and I haven’t seen mention of his attending any of them as yet. He is thought to be around the 6’4”, 305lb mark so has solid size and was said to have dominated the lower level of competition he played at. I don’t know much about him but the consensus of opinion is that he will be a first day pick if he impresses at the combine athletically.
Derrick Dockery (Texas) is probably the largest man in the entire draft – after fellow Longhorn linemen Mike Williams and Leonard Davis held that mantle the previous two years! – at an estimated 6’6” and 355lb’s but he doesn’t look fat, just absolutely huge. I saw a fair bit of him as an underclassmen but haven’t seen him as yet this year but believe he played RT having previously been the ORG. He actually leads sweeps around the corner – a frightening sight! – as well as mowing people of the LOS so is a huge attribute in the running game. Pass protection was a big problem for him though as he loses his balance too easily and can be taken advantage of by quickness too often. a I believe he’s also had some ankle problems in the past but can’t remember where I read that. The versatility factor may interest the Giants so I’ll take a good look when I see Texas play.
Vince Manuwai (Hawaii) is a short, stocky type of player at 6’1¾”, 303lb’s who I had some interest in heading into the season as he had impressed me in my lone viewing of him in 2001 against BYU so I wanted to gauge his abilities against quality opposition – the Alabama front line – on my lone viewing this year. Unfortunately, he didn’t look anything special against them, more mid-late round draft choice than a first day type.
He showed quick enough feet to avoid getting beaten at the snap and held his own when locked up one-on-one but gave a lot of ground on stunts to the undersized Kenny King getting into a bad position quite often when locked onto his man (got turned 90 degrees). He was also guilty at times of worrying about picking up LB’s that weren’t blitzing as he came off of Jarrett Johnson too early when double-teaming on more than one occasion, his overmatched OC getting beat and allowing up a sack on one occasion plus a few hard hits. The team rarely ran the ball though but I did notice him get up the field and put an LB on his butt at the end of one of the handful of rushing attempts.
There is some suggestion that OC may be his best spot though he never played there in college. Reports from Senior Bowl practices indicate he had some trouble at the Senior Bowl against some of the top players but it is also worth noting Hawaii’s OL is always in a 2 point stance and he would have had to learn the 3 point stance from scratch as well as plat against them. I don’t see him as an attractive prospect for the Giants.
Montrae Holland (Florida State) is very short, very fat and lumbering in his running at 6’1, 331lb’s but when I watched him against Louisville, he was very effective and had a pretty good game. Has experience at both OG spots and switches between the two easily. An ugly mover, he still managed to get up the field and make contact on the LB’s and surprised me when he also consistently made blocks while pulling and leading plays. Was very solid in pass protection not giving an inch against the DT’s, helping out and picking up stunts in tandem with his OT, flaring out to pick up the wide blitzer and keeping his QB safe in the pocket.
I hadn’t really studied him until this game though and I won’t see him again until I get around the Senior Bowl so can’t say how he’d fair against top competition as I don’t know whether he has the quickness to react to moves. As a pure OG, I can’t see him as a first day pick but he does look like he has a chance to make it in the NFL and I’d guess he’ll be taken about the 5th round. He doesn’t fit the Giants MO though so I’m doubtful he’ll interest us much.
Gene Mruckzkowski (Purdue) is a player I saw a lot of a few years ago when ‘scouting’ Matt Light (Patriots 2nd round pick in ‘01) and he really excited me back then as a sophomore LG, consistently dominating as a drive blocker in the running game, handling pass protection with ease and showing the mean streak to punish defenders. Switched to OC as a junior, he looked dreadful, the snap and the block looking like two completely unrelated actions as he was beaten off the ball repeatedly. Having been the baby of the line to the most experienced may also have had a detrimental effect on his play.
This year, I saw him against Ohio State and though his technique was smoother, he still didn’t look as good a Center as a Guard. However, he did seem to have pulled the line together this year and was literally pounding the DT’s when helping out with double teams. That is an attitude I just love in an OL! Playing on a poor team and probably out of position for two years a lot of teams may have forgotten about him but he has the versatility factor the Giants are looking for, but maybe not quite as much athletic ability as a typical Giants lineman of today. That said, if he can prove that he has retained the mobility he once had at the combine – he was the mobile Drew Brees’ personal pass protector on roll-out’s –his stock could rise considerably. If we’re still looking for a prospect in the 5th round, I’d love to have him.
Steve Sciullo (Marshall) has excellent size at 6’4½”, 328lb’s but I think he lacks the quickness to play OT at the NFL level despite enjoying a solid career at OLT. Projecting him to OG – where he started the conversion process at the Senior Bowl practices while also playing some ORT – I can’t see him appealing to the Giants as he won’t fit our requirements of being able to pull and lead plays to either side. I’ll wait until I’ve seen him play this season before guessing his draft value.
Anthony Davis (Virginia Tech) played OLT in college but is in no way quick enough or athletic enough to be able to play either OT spot in the pro ranks. At 6’4”, 316lb’s, he is very flabby and looks out of shape and in games I’ve seen of him as an underclassmen, I’ve not been impressed with his effort. He can be a good run blocker but really only if the guy he is asked to hit lines up over him as he lacked range to get to the LB’s. In pass protection, he can best be described as ‘raw’. The Giants were known to have scouted a few Virginia Tech games earlier in the season – and I’ll be watching a few too – but I’d imagine they were checking up on players at other positions rather than looking at him too hard.