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  • 2020 NFL Draft prospect profile: Lloyd Cushenberry III, OC, LSU
    by Chris Pflum on January 23, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports Could Cushenberry solidify the Giants’ offensive interior? When talking about the offensive line, the discussion tends to center around the offensive tackles. It used to be the left tackle was considered to be the most important position on the line by far, but that perception is changing. But the tendency to focus on the tackle positions still holds, and has generally dominated the conversation for the New York Giants. But there is an argument to be made that the center position is almost as important as the tackle positions. The center is generally responsible for calling protections, he helps out the guards with double teams, has to deal with some of the most powerful players on opposing defenses, helps set the depth of the pocket, and plays a huge role in the success of running plays by working to the second level or creating a numbers advantage for the offense by pulling. LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry III came on in the second half of the season as the Tigers tore through the SEC and the College Football Playoffs, and has made waves in Senior Practices. The Giants have tried to save money at the center position in recent years by letting Weston Richburg leave via free agency, trading Brett Jones, and trusting the position to journeymen Jon Halapio and Spencer Pulley. The fourth overall pick might be a bit high to draft any of the top centers in the draft, but could Cushenberry be an option later on? Prospect: Lloyd Cushenberry III, OC, LSUGames Watched: vs. Ole Miss ‘18, vs Texas ‘19, vs Auburn ‘19, vs Alabama ‘19Red Flags: None Measurables Height: 6032 (6-feet, 3 2/8 inches)Weight: 312poundsArm Length, Wingspan: 34 5/8 inches, 83 1/8” Hand Size: 10 1⁄2 inchesGames Played: 33, 27 starts Quick Summary Best: Athleticism, Attitude, Run blocking, Play in spaceWorst: Hand quickness, AwarenessProjection: A starting offensive center in a zone or man scheme Game Tape Full Report Lloyd Cushenberry III is an athletic, smart, and experienced offensive center with a great combination of mass and length, as well as a nasty demeanor when blocking. Cushenberry is active before the snap, helping to identify pressure and communicating protections. His shotgun snaps are crisp and accurate, and his under-center exchanges are easily handled by the quarterback. Cushenberry is highly athletic for a bigger center, moving easily after the snap to mirror defenders in pass protection. He plays with a wide base, good ankle and knee flexion, and generally low hips to establish leverage. Cushenberry is able to keep up with speed rushers as well as drop his hips and absorb bull rushes. He consistently looks for work when not engaged with a defender and works to the second level well off of combo blocks. He moves easily when blocking at the second level or in space on screen passes. He shows a mauler’s mentality when blocking downhill in the run game, driving his legs and playing with good pad level to generate movement. Once engaged, Cushenberry shows good competitive toughness, torquing defenders and consistently looking to deliver the last shove or finish the play with his man on the ground. Cushenberry can struggle with his hand usage immediately after the snap. There is a noticeable delay after snapping the ball in which he has to “reload” before firing his punch. Cushenberry struggled to anchor against and control defenders when he wasn’t able to make first contact. When his hands were slow he often found them outside defenders’ framework. In pass protection he can be slow to pick up late pressure from stunts and blitzes. Cushenberry also showed some issues with balance when torquing defenders. Overall Grade: 4.8 - Several above-average traits with a few average traits. Good value on Day 2 with starter upside. Projection Cushenberry projects as a starting center at the NFL level. He shows the football IQ to handle protection calls before the snap and the athleticism to play in zone blocking schemes and pull in man schemes, as well as the power to create movement downhill. He is at his best when able to use his athleticism to stay in front of defenders in pass protection, working to the second level, or blocking for screen passes or able to drive downhill as a run blocker. Cushenberry’s struggles come when matched head-up on a defender and he isn’t able to quickly transition from snapping the ball to firing his punch. Though this improved over the course of the season, it will have to be a point of emphasis going forward. He also has experience at guard and the frame to play the position if necessary.

  • Scout’s eye: What Joe Judge’s personnel philosophy means for the New York Giants
    by Matt_Williamson on January 23, 2020 at 3:17 pm

    Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images New coach brings a “big picture perspective” to talent evaluation In Joe Judge’s introductory press conference, he said something very poignant concerning the New York Giants’ roster building and construction going forward. Of course, Judge will be working side by side with general manager Dave Gettleman in this capacity, but it also certainly seems as though New York’s new head coach is going to have an awful lot of say in the personnel side of things … and that should make Giants fan very happy. Here is what Judge said: “So, what I’ve prepared myself for was leading into every draft I studied every player in the draft as a player and an athlete. I didn’t look at them as a receiver, I didn’t look at them as a tight end, I didn’t look at them as a linebacker. I want to know how they moved — are they stiff in the hips, are they a straight-line speed guy, do they use their hands, what kind of short area quickness do they have, what kind of top end speed do they have, do they turn down contact. So, I’m used to looking at things from a big picture perspective on players in terms of what they bring to the team as a whole. You can turn around and say, ‘How good is this guy as a running back?’ Well, there’s different kinds of running backs. I want to know what kind of athlete this man is and how we can use his toolset to our advantage.” Over the years, New York has viewed scouting in its own way and differently from most of the league. The Giants have been all about size and speed. They wanted big people at every position first and foremost. Under Gettleman, that philosophy has mostly held up and clearly building around big powerful defensive linemen have been stressed a great deal. But that looks to be changing. The mantra in New England under Bill Belichick is not “Player X can’t do this or that,” but rather “Player X can do this.” There is a huge difference there. Belichick wants to know a player’s positive attributes and he will then figure out how to best use him. And, that very well could even be with a position switch. There is hubris to this approach as in some ways. Belichick, by viewing an athlete from a very broad scope, suggests that he knows what role (or even what position) a player is best for better than the coaches this player played for in the pas. And who is to say that Judge will be as good in this area as his mentor? That being said, a massive key to long-term success we’ve witnessed in New England under Belichick is his team’s ability to morph from week to week (or even quarter to quarter or play to play) depending on the opponent. No team adjusts as quickly or succinctly as the Patriots and with this scouting approach it absolutely looks as though the Giants are patterning their approach to the game in the same manner. The hiring of Patrick Graham as defensive coordinator also strongly implies that New York will be highly multiple on that side of the ball. A key here is Judge’s special teams background. Few realize what a challenging job that position really is in the NFL. Just think about it for a minute. Week to week, a special teams coach has his kicker, punter and long snapper. He also is probably allowed to have a handful (at most) core special teams players on the roster. Yes, these players are listed as linebackers, safeties, wide receivers or whatever, but they are employed because of their acumen on special teams. The number and emphasis on core special teams players varies from team to team. In New England, a great importance was put on this phase and this portion of the roster. Presumably, the same will be true under Judge in New York. So, great, that gives the special teams coordinator about half of the 11 men he needs to put out on the field for punt coverage, kickoff return or whatever phase of the kicking game. But he has to fill in the gaps from there. Also, bottom of the roster players that generally play on teams are often cut during the season to make room for another position player on offense or defense once injuries set in. No one cuts the offensive coordinator’s starting tight end or the defensive coordinator’s starting middle linebacker. But the special teams coach? He could lose one of his main guys on any given week and then often has to coach up a new player on the fly to prepare for a game in a few days. As you can quickly figure out, special teams coaches need to excel at finding roles for players that are unaccustomed to playing in this phase and may lack experience in this capacity. All of this leads perfectly with Judge’s quote that we are dissecting and again is very promising going forward. What Judge didn’t mention in this quote but is a factor that is instrumental in this approach and has carried a great deal of weight in the Patriots’ scouting is intelligence. Without smarts and football intelligence, position changes, adaptability and versatility might not be an option. This also goes for the ability to change their style of play throughout the course of a game or for different opponents. Lastly, Judge mentioned that there are different type of running backs, which also leads us back to New England. The only thing similar about LeGarrette Blount and James White is that they report to the running back room for meetings. Yet, some opposing defenses classify Blount and White as the same thing and count them for personnel reasons both as “running backs.” But isn’t Blount with a fullback, tight end and two wide receivers vastly different than White with the same group? Of course, the Giants have their star running back in place, but this example will play out with other positions with the approach to scouting Judge is bringing with him. This is just one example of how the Patriots, and now New York, view their personnel and team building. And the beauty of it is that it asks their athletes to do what they do best while making the team as a whole unpredictable. — Matt Williamson is a former NFL and college scout, and hosts the Locked on NFL podcast.

  • New York Giants news, 1/23: Eli Manning retirement reactions continue, more
    by Ed Valentine on January 23, 2020 at 1:19 pm

    Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images Let’s get to your Thursday headlines Good morning, New York Giants fans! I’m going to start today with this, which should make you smile, laugh and be grateful for the 16 years Eli Manning was a Giants player. ALL of our favorite Eli ~off-the-field~ memories ...you don't want to miss this one #ThankYouEli pic.twitter.com/IMybqVMpql— New York Giants (@Giants) January 23, 2020 Eli Manning and the five remarkable playoff upsets that came to define his NFL career | Sporting News Why Eagles will miss Giants’ Eli Manning following quarterback’s retirement - nj.com Tom Coughlin Addresses Football Future, NFLPA Warning | CBS Sports Radio “Well, I love the game,” Coughlin said on The Zach Gelb Show. “I love the people involved in the game, and to continue to be involved in some capacity would be a very good thing for me. I need to be active, I need to be busy, I want to be busy. The routine is very good for me. It’s been that way for a lot of years, and we’ll just see what prevails.” Eli Manning and the Hall of Fame: The case for and against Joe Judge presents his Giants vision for Jason Garrett “The first thing we want to be able to do is run the ball,’’ Judge said. “He’s done it successfully in Dallas throughout the course of his career. Jason brings with him a lot of experience in a lot different systems. One thing he’s been able to do is draw from his experiences as both a player and coach in different systems and really create a player-friendly system that creates multiples within game plans. That’s what I want to build as a base for this team.’’ Eli Manning Hall of Fame debate: Why Giants legend should get in Eli Manning Retires: Why we love Eli Manning Giants Huddle | Ernie Accorsi shares Eli Manning stories Eli Manning Retires: Eli Manning's Greatest Moments More stuff you should be reading, hearing Our StoryStreams and podcasts, Giants assistant coach tracker: News, rumors, hirings Big Blue View Radio: All of our podcasts in one place 2020 NFL Draft Prospects: Profiling the players you need to know about How to scout, position-by-position: What traits NFL scouts look for In case you missed it Some of the best of BBV over the past few d Reports: New York Giants to hire Marc Colombo as offensive line coach Senior Bowl Day 2 practice report: Prospects who could interest the Giants Eli Manning retirement reaction: Tom Coughlin, players, others, thank No. 10 Giants position review: EDGE needs an upgrade BBV Mailbag Have questions about the Giants? E-mail them to bigblueview@gmail.com, and the best ones will be answered in an upcoming mailbag. BBV Podcast You can find and subscribe to Big Blue View radio from the show’s home page. You can find all the shows on our Big Blue View Radio Hub Page. You can also find the shows and subscribe on all your favorite podcast apps: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | Spotify | Stitcher | RSS

  • Reports: New York Giants to hire Marc Colombo as offensive line coach
    by Ed Valentine on January 23, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images Colombo will rejoin Jason Garrett The New York Giants will hire former Dallas Cowboys player and assistant coach Marc Colombo to coach their offensive line, per multiple reports. Colombo played in the NFL from 2002-2011. He was on Jason Garrett’s coaching staff in Dallas from 2016 until being let go at the end of last season. Colombo took over as offensive line coach in the middle of the 2018 season. Here is what RJ Ochoa of SB Nation’s Blogging The Boys told me recently about Colombo. Colombo did a great job for the Cowboys last season and a half or so. Not sure if you know but he played for the Cowboys in the early 2000s ish (he was Romo’s o-lineman mostly). During the bye back in 2018 they traded for Amari and fired their offensive line coach Paul Alexander and promoted Colombo. The group had been really bad to that point and then he took over and things got great again. They all attributed it to him being much closer to them in age and more of their buddy than anything. The Giants had also interviewed Dave DeGuglielmo, a well-traveled one-time Giants assistant, for the job. Assistant coaches Offensive coordinator — Jason GarrettDefensive coordinator/assistant head coach — Patrick GrahamSpecial teams coordinator — Thomas McGaugheyOffensive line — Marc Colombo [reported]Running backs — Burton Burns [reported]Tight ends —Wide receivers — Tyke Tolbert [reported]Quarterbacks — Jerry Schuplinski [reported]Defensive line —Linebackers —Defensive backs — Jerome Henderson [reported]Special teams assistant — Tom QuinnDefensive assistant [role not yet known] — Bret BielemaOffensive assistant [role not yet known] — Freddie Kitchens [reported]Offensive assistant [role not yet known] — Jody Wright [reported]

  • Senior Bowl Day 2 practice report: Prospects who could interest the Giants
    by Nick Falato on January 23, 2020 at 2:54 am

    Van Jefferson | Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports Nick Falato goes through what he saw on Wednesday MOBILE, Ala. — Day 2 of the Senior Bowl practices on Wednesday substantiated a lot of my initial impressions at Tuesday’s practice. Let’s go through some of what I saw. Lloyd Cushenberry is a good football player. Florida’s wide receiver Van Jefferson made an incredible grab in the team periods over the top of a linebacker and in between a safety, and Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool made some very impressive catches with his hands. As I wrote and hoped in yesterday’s article, Josh Jones had a much better showing and his excellent movement skills and size were on display yet again. Marlon Davidson didn’t practice Wednesday, but UNC’s Jason Strowbridge continued to dominate the 1-on-1s. He won with bend, dip, and raw strength. Strowbridge also batted two balls at the line of scrimmage in the team periods. Strowbridge has really been playing well in Mobile and his stock must be on the rise. Florida’s edge Jabari Zuniga continued to build on a good first day and he won two reps easily around the edge, showing excellent quickness and bend. UCLA cornerback Darnay Holmes, had another solid outing and fixes to be a very good nickel corner in the draft. If he slides, he could be an interesting target for the Giants later on. I mentioned Troy Pride Jr., the defensive back from Notre Dame on Tuesday. Wednesday, Pride stayed on top of routes well and was hard to beat. Even when he was beaten, he showed good ability to accelerate, close width, and make the catch point difficult for the receivers. Offense Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor HT: 6-foot-2, WT: 206, Hands: 9 2/8, Arms 33 2/8 Mims had a solid first day of practice and continued that on Wednesday. Explosive and a fluid mover, Mims made breaking in and out of routes look effortless. He did very well selling the 9 route, while breaking off to an inside and outside curl. His release off the line of scrimmage was good, utilizing quick footwork combined with subtle head movements to sell a break that was not his intention. His production at Baylor was legit as well — two seasons with 1,000 plus receiving yards and 8 touchdowns in both his sophomore and junior seasons, while following that up with 12 this past year. He’s had more than 55 receptions in his last three seasons playing for Matt Rhule’s offense. Mims hands are strong and he has a 2nd gear to him that make corners pay. I was impressed that Pride tossed off Mims’ intial stem in the 1-on-1s, but Pride was able to get back into phase, which is a testament to Pride’s speed. Mims is a bigger receiver and could be a target for the Giants on Day 2 of the draft, since the Giants may be looking for the typical “X” type receiver that Garrett’s offense has become accustomed to using. The Giants could do a lot worse than Denzel Mims, and he most certainly opened a lot of people’s eyes this week. KJ Hill, WR, Ohio State HT: 6-feet, WT: 192, Hands: 9, Arms: 29 The measurables are not on Hill’s side, but he is the most fluid mover at this event. His ability to cut in and out of routes and completely turn his body has had a lot of people discussing him down here in Mobile. He possesses intriguing acceleration and change of direction, while showing a veteran football IQ by utilizing subtle push offs and head fakes all the way through his stem and at the top of his break. For a smaller player, Hill is physical at the catch point and combines that with exceptional quickness. His measurables may see him slide on draft day, and his skill set may not mesh with the Giants, but he has had two practices in a row that were very good, so I would be remiss not to mention him. He’s made several corners look silly with a diverse route tree. Hill had 57 receptions, for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns this past season for the Buckeyes. Ben Bredeson, OG, Michigan HT: 6-foot-4, WT: 316, Hands: 10, Arms: 31 1/2 Three-time letter winner who has 49 career starts, 45 of them being at left guard. Bredeson had another solid practice, but stood out more on Day 2. He possesses very good fundamentals with playing interior offensive line, showing patience, a low center of gravity, and quick feet that are combined with quick hands that really help him adjust to counter moves. Bredeson showed good adjustment and anchor ability against the bulrushes of some bigger defensive linemen. He lost one rep to Oklahoma’s Neville Gallimore, who was able to pull the shoulder pad of Bredeson down and then work around the former Wolverine. Outside of that one rep, Bredeson held his own well in 1-on-1s and did a solid job in 2-on-2s working off stunts, while also clearing paths in team drills against a very stout defensive front. The Giants are set at their offensive guard positions, but Bredeson is a talented player with versatility and power, so depth is an option, and he could be an interesting look at center, albeit he’s not accustomed to playing that position. Matthew Peart, OT, UConn HT: 6-foot-6, WT: 310, Hands: 9 6/8, Arms: 35 ⅛ Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy compared Peart to D’Brickashaw Ferguson, a long-time left tackle for the New York Jets, and a former top 10 selection in the NFL Draft. That is very high praise, but Peart has shown up to play. He’s a smooth mover, that doesn’t overextend himself or overset. His footwork is much better than I expected from a UConn tackle, and he’s held up very well to bullrushes. His one struggle would be second and third moves up the arc, especially when the defenders spin; While he doesn’t allow the players to get free, he does get caught with his outside arm wrapped around the defender. I saw this twice, but everything before this point of the rep was handled well by Peart; he stayed in front well, didn’t panic, used strength and quickness to mirror and not get bullied, while also keeping his hands inside and avoiding a tonguing motion. Peart will be interesting and the Giants may be looking into the big, strong, yet somewhat raw, tackle who has held up well this week. Keith Ismael, IOL, SDST HT: 6-foot-3, WT: 300, Hands: 9 7/8, Arms: 32 Ismael held his own well in 1-on-1s, displaying a low center of gravity, a strong punch, and an ability to drive through blocks with physicality. He’s not the biggest, most imposing, center prospect, but he won several of his reps and had scouts talking about his ability to win at the point of attack with a technical nature. Ismael is interesting for the Giants because the Giants are looking to run more power/gap type of concepts under new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. If this is true, the Aztecs are known for their gap schemes in college and the transition for Ismael could be relatively seamless. He’s used to aggressive down blocking and pin-pull concepts, so the Giants may invest in a player like Ismael later in the draft. With Jon Halapio recovering from a serious injury, Ismael may be able to step in and be a valuable piece that may be found on Day 3. Defense Josh Uche, EDGE/LB, Michigan HT: 6-foot-1, WT: 241, Hands: 9 1/8, Arms: 33 ¼ Uche had a phenomenal Day 1 and he followed that up with a very good Day 2 of practice. Uche’s quickness up the arc cannot be ignored and he has a few different combinations he utilizes at the top of the arc to create separation from offensive tackles. Uche bends well through contact and can really dip his inside shoulder and turn a corner, while leveraging his speed up the arc to really stress offensive tackles sets, which also helps set up inside counter moves. Uche used this quickness in the 2-on-2 stunt portion of practice and he blew past the guard on a T/E stunt. I always like to see EDGE prospects who can put a few moves together, and Uche can do that; and when they have a trump card like quickness, those moves become a very good luxury. My issue with Uche is fit; I don’t like the term ‘tweener in today’s NFL, but the linebacker position is very nuanced. I’m not entirely sure how effective Uche can be playing on the inside as a linebacker. I would have to watch some more of his Michigan film to see how he executes his run fits and how he handles blockers in space as a linebacker. I have questions about Uche’s ability to hold the point of attack against the run. He looked fine in run drills the last two days, but he really flashed as a pass rusher, and I wonder if his role right now would just be a situational pass rusher. Either way, Uche has played very well in Mobile and he has forced people to notice him. Kenny Willekes, EDGE, Michigan State HT: 6-foot-3, WT: 252, Hands: 9 3/4, Arms: 31 ¼ Willekes has a very unique and low stance when rushing the passer. Butt up in the air, inside forearm away from his body and out in front of him, back arched, and head almost to the deck in a very squatty manner, but it worked for him on Wednesday. Willekes showed impressive bend around the edge, and his squatty stance limits the surface area of his chest, which makes it very hard for tackles to locate him and control him up the arc. He has very good speed, bends well through contact like Uche, and stays very low, which overextends tackles and puts him in an advantageous position. Similar to Uche, fit may be an issue for Willekes, but he’s making people’s heads move in Mobile. He had a very impressive rep in the team period where he screamed off the edge through a tight end’s blocking attempt and blew a zone running play up in the back field. Teammates and coaches went crazy for him, and I can see why. He also talks a lot on the field and seems like a good team player. Terrell Burgess, SS, Utah HT: 5-foot-11, WT: 192, Hands: 9 1/4, Arms: 30 Like a lot of the Senior Bowl participants this season, Burgess isn’t wowing many people with his measurables, but that doesn’t mean he can’t play. Burgess started all 13 games for the Utes’ at strong safety this year, but was lining up at corner for 1v1s against top competition and held his own well. He handled SMU WR James Proche outside curl well by not falling for Proche’s 9 sell and be staying in phase, with the correct leverage to be in a position to force an incompletion. He did something similar to USC’s stud receiver Michael Pittman Jr. Pittman ran an inside breaking route and tried to sell the outside fade, but it did not work; Burgess stayed right in the hip pocket of Pittman and showed exceptional man coverage ability, with a ton of space to cover. Anfernee Jennings, Alabama, EDGE/LB HT: 6-foot-1, WT: 252, Hands: 9 3/8, Arms: 32 ¾ Jennings has a long injury history, but he is healthy for the Senior Bowl and he showed up on Day 2. Jennings won three reps in a row with quickness outside and bend up the arc against offensive tackles on Wednesday. Jennings has physicality and can bend an edge, while being explosive. His inside club/dip combination stunned tackles who are trying to vertical set him up the arc. He had 14.5 sacks and 33 tackles for a loss in his college career at Tuscaloosa. The Giants would be interested in his pedigree as an Alabama defender, and because he is regarded as a leader. Evan Weaver, LB, Cal HT: 6-foot-2, WT: 234, Hands: 9 3/8, Arms: 32 ⅜ I wasn’t able to watch the linebacker group as extensively as I would have liked because I can only be in one place at a time at practice, but I was able to catch a few reps and I liked what I saw from Weaver. He possessed enough explosiveness to catch my eye, especially in pass rushing vs running back drills, where he dominated the running back with an easy dip of the inside shoulder/arm-over move that won easily. That initially caught my eye, so I paid attention to him in team period and he was in the right place at the right time for several reps. He showed an ability to scrape over the top of his defensive linemen, be in position, and keep his chest clean to wrap up the running back. It was a nice few reps that I witnessed and the Giants should be in the market for a linebacker.

 

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