New York Giants: Victor Cruz Advocates For Kyler Murray As Best QB

Ask a number of people who the best quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft is and you’re sure to get a number of different answers. Ask which quarterback the New York Giant should take, and whether or not they should even take one at all, and you’ll get even more answers that vary wildly from one another.

Kyler Murray has been a speculated option for the Giants ever since Murray declared for the draft and decided to play football at the next level instead of taking more of a sure thing by going to the MLB, where he was already drafted by the Oakland Athletics and had plenty of money waiting.

But there’s plenty of concerns about whether Murray is actually the best quarterback in the draft, even while being mocked to the Cardinals at number one overall by some experts. There is one famous player, however, that thinks that Murray is the top member of the quarterback class. That would be recently retired former New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz, who supported Murray when asked about the best quarterback prospect in the upcoming draft.

“I’m a guy that loves things that don’t show up in the stat sheet, things that guys see when they put their film on, ‘are you a winner?’ and things of that nature,” Cruz told the New York Post, after complimenting Murray’s intangibles. “He pretty much checks all those boxes, although he’s not 6’4″, he definitely checks all those boxes for me.”

Murray would be the shortest starting quarterback in the league if he does end up in such a role following the draft. Intangibles are also hard to base draft choices off of. After all, plenty of players have been leaders in college but failed to make a splash at the next level, especially at the quarterback position. Just ask Tim Tebow.

But Murray looks to have more than just intangibles, winning the Heisman Trophy during his last year with the Oklahoma Sooners. Will the New York Giants consider putting Murray behind Eli Manning this season if they spend the sixth pick on him to strengthen the team’s future at quarterback? It doesn’t seem like the most likely option and Murray may very well be off the board by the time they pick at number six overall.

Still, the Giants front office has been anything but predictable this offseason. And if there’s one thing to take away from that when dealing with General Manager Dave Gettleman, it’s to expect the unexpected.

New York Giants Could Draft Two Defensive Studs in the First Round

The New York Giants should consider drafting Brian Burns with the No. 17 overall pick.

With just two weeks separating the New York Giants and the 2019 NFL draft, it’s coming down to the wire in regards to how general manager Dave Gettleman will utilize his first round picks.

Having two picks in the first round (6th and 17th) allows the Giants to address two positions of weakness, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them both allocate towards the defensive side of the ball. It doesn’t seem as if they’re set on any given quarterback, however, the 6th pick is a rather risky one – it bets on other teams passing on the targetted prospect in the hopes that they drop, otherwise, it requires trading up which can cost a fortune.

It’s unlikely that Gettleman makes any moves in the first round, which indicates he will likely inject premium talent into the defense.

Here are two impact players the New York Giants should target:

1.) Josh Allen

Some believe that Kentucky linebacker, Josh Allen, will be drafted before the Giants have a chance to make their choice, but it’s more than possible that he could fall that far. With players like Quinnen Williams, Kyler Murray, Devin White, Nick Bosa, Jawaan Taylor, and others crowding the top 10, it’s more than likely one top talent slips into the passenger seat for Big Blue.

Allen offers fantastic value as a linebacker alongside Alec Ogletree. The Kentucky product racked up 21.5 tackles for a loss and 17 sacks in 2018, making him one of the most dynamic defenders in college football. The Giants could insert him right into the heart of the defense and immediately see their return on investment.

This would be an A+ selection.

2.) Brian Burns

The Giants are in dire need of pass-rushing help and Florida State star, Brian Burns, makes for a great option with the 17th overall pick. Running a 4.53 40-yard-dash, Burns is an elite athlete with the ability to burst off the line and beat offensive lineman with ease.

The 2019 defensive line crop is filled with talent, and Burns is one of those players with an extremely high ceiling. He earned 15.5 tackles for a loss and 10 sacks last season, while also forcing three fumbles.

With a bit of development and position transitioning to an outside linebacker, Burns could be a steal in the middle of the first round. NFL.com stated that Brian could be utilized as a hybrid linebacker due to his blue-chip athleticism. His strength and frame could be a concern at the next level, but there are ways to mask those deficiencies.

New York Giants Shouldn’t Hesitate to Pull Trigger on Elite Pass-Rush Specialist

The New York Giants could be targeting Josh Allen at No. 6.

If there’s any one player that the New York Giants shouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on, it’s Kentucky’s, Josh Allen. The elite-level linebacker has the capability of playing in the middle of the defense alongside Alec Ogletree or as an outside linebacker.

Allen’s talents have a broad range – speed, range, agility, consistency…in 2018, he racked up an impressive 21.5 tackles for a loss and 17 total sacks. His 56 total tackles also promote his efficiency when around the ball carrier. At 6’5″, 262 pounds, Allen has a prototypical frame that has room for further growth.

The New York Giants ‘need’  a player like Josh Allen:

If you strip the linebackers pass-rushing abilities, he’s still able to cover at a quality level and follow tight ends around the field. That’s one of the more exciting aspects of Allen. Not only is he an elite disrupter, but he’s also capable of dropping back into coverage. His skill set is diverse and offers immense value with the 6th overall pick.

NFL.com has Allen graded out as a “chance to become Pro-Bowl caliber player.” Playing on the outside of the offensive line allows him to utilize his speed around the edge and seal it off for potential screens or roll-outs. With quarterbacks progressively becoming more athletic, having a player that can contain the edge and chase after mobile passers are extremely beneficial.

Despite his seemingly endless talents, Allen is raw with his hands and often catches blocks rather than using them as leverage. This a fundamental part of his game that will need to be refined at the next level, but the Giants are capable of providing him with the tool and training necessary to help him reach his potential.

 

New York Yankees Lose to White Sox 9-6 in Rain-Shortened Game

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

The New York Yankees pitching staff gave up 12 hits and nine runs in a game only played through the top of the seventh, and called because of rain. In contrast, the Yankees had seven hits and scored six runs in six innings of at-bats, and lost to the White Sox 9-6.

Happ continues to struggle

JA Happ was hit hard for his third straight time to open the 2019 campaign. On Friday, he gave up nine hits and six runs while walking two and striking out five in just four innings of work.

Happ gave up an RBI single in the first, then worked out of trouble in the second and third.

In the fourth, he gave up a two run double to Leury Garcia to cut the Yankee lead down to one.

After a run in the bottom of the inning for the Yankees, Happ gave it all back when he served up a fastball down the middle for Yonder Alonso to put it in the short porch in right. This tied it up at five.

The next batter that came in was Joan Moncada, and he singled to pull Happ out of the game. Jonathan Holder came right in and gave up a two run home run to Eloy Jimenez. The home run was the first of his career.

The next time Jimenez was up, it was against Chad Green, but the result was no different. A home run to deep center, and then James McCann hit one to right to make it back-to-back jacks for the White Sox.

Friday’s game was called just after the two home runs.

Happ’s poor start raises his ERA up to 8.76, and raises struggling Chad Green’s to 11.81.

The offense was there

Despite the fact that the Yankees lost by three, their offense was pretty good, especially with three less innings of at-bats.

The Yankees started strong by putting up two in the first and the second off White Sox starter Lucas Giolito. In the first, DJ LeMahieu drove in two with an RBI single to right. An inning later, Austin Romine hit an RBI single and Aaron Judge lined one to right, good enough to score Giovanny Urshela.

Come the fourth, it was a Gardy Party as Brett Gardner mashed a two out fastball to right for a solo-shot.

To score the final Yankee run, Urshela had an RBI single to drive in LeMahieu in the sixth.

The Yankees will continue to look for guys to step up on offense, especially with Gary Sanchez now on the IL.

Game two of the series will begin on Saturday at 1:05PM on YES Network, Fox Sports Go, and ESPN+. CC Sabathia gets the ball for his first start of his final season, and former Yankee Ivan Nova gets the ball for Chicago.

New York Yankees: First Base Competition Continues on Could Mike Ford Enter the Fray?

New York Yankees, Mike Ford

Since Spring Training, the battle for first base has been a heady topic of conversation for New York Yankees fans.  Luke Voit, whose numbers after the trade to the Yankees last season were stunning, had a good spring, as did Greg Bird, who had lost the job to Voit in the second half of the season.

Voit’s Spring Training numbers were nice, .289 with a .943 OPS, four home runs in 17 games.  Bird’s were better yet, hitting at a .333 clip with a 1.143 OPS, three home runs in 19 games.  Bird is the better gloveman, though Voit had worked in the offseason to improve that part of his game and it showed in spring.

Fast-forward to the regular season and fans are talking about Mike Ford, in the wake of slow starts for both Voit and Bird, Ford, the Yankees first baseman at Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre, is getting noticed.

Voit is currently sporting a .196 average with a .784 OPS and four home runs in 12 games, with Bird faring almost as poorly with a .214 average with a .674 OPS and one home run in eight games. 

Yankees fans are frustrated with the record number of injuries to the team and the struggles early in the season to score runs, hold leads and win games.

None of which is Greg Bird’s fault, however, fans are calling for Bird’s head, as he’s been mostly manning first base while Voit fills in at DH in the absence of Stanton.  

The team has struggled to score runs and Bird and Voit’s lack of production has fans looking elsewhere for first base help.

Mike Ford has been with the Yankees since he was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2013 out of Princeton.  He had a stellar 2017 in Scranton Wilkes-Barre, with a league leading .410 on-base percentage.  He posted OBPs of better than .400 in 2016 and 2017.  Baseball America credits him with above-average power as well, and he tied for the system lead in home runs in 2017 with 20 between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre. According to Baseball America, Ford has been one of the organization’s “most polished” hitters .

In 2018, Ford had a solid campaign, but missed a month of the season with injuries.  He managed to hit .251 with a .326 OBP and 16 home runs between Staten Island A (Short) and Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre in 108 games.

2019 may be the coming out party for Ford in the organization, with Bird and Voit struggling at the plate, Ford is off to a torrid start for Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre, hitting .423 with a 1.387 OPS and four home runs in the first six games of the season.

The battle wages on for first base as the struggling Voit and Bird fail to lock down the job.  Both Bird and Voit have options should the Yankees decide to send one or the other down.  

Ford is a left-hander, so he could replace the lefty bat of Bird in a righty dominated lineup.  Such a shake-up may be just what the Yankees need to get the offense focused and productive.

New York Giants: Ranking Positions of Need for the 2019 NFL Draft

New York Giants quarterback, Eli Manning.

The New York Giants are in need of assistance at several positions across the team, and allocating premium first round quality towards every void is impossible.

Therefore, let’s rank the priority positions with just two weeks left until the 2019 NFL draft:

1.) Quarterback

Some might say that a pass-rusher is the most needed player at the moment, but the fact of the matter is that the quarterback position holds so much value that it simply cannot be avoided. The Giants must find a successor for Eli Manning or they will be betting the farm on a 2020 prospect. Drafting at No. 6 gives them the upper-hand when it comes to finding their guy, as they likely will have more success next season in terms of wins.

They must take advantage of their high draft spot this year and select a passer, whether it be Dwayne Haskins, Kyler Murray, or even Drew Lock. Manning is on his final leg as a starting quarterback, and if he fails to produce behind an improved offensive line, management will be on the hot seat.

2.) Defensive line – Pass rusher

Second up on the docket is a pass rusher, or defensive tackle if Quinnen Williams falls into their laps at No. 6. The departure of Olivier Vernon leaves a massive hole on the defensive front with a lack of pass-rushing talent. Putting the quarterbacking on his heals will be difficult without a strong and proven player to fill the shoes of Vernon.

The Giants currently have Markus Golden and Lorenzo Carter as their rush-specialists, but I could see general manager Dave Gettleman finding himself in a situation where an option like Kentucky’s Josh Allen is sitting there for the taking. Securing a premium edge rusher with outside linebacker diversity on his rookie deal would allow the Giants to continue building a balanced team and piecing together the defense with low-cost draft selections.

3.) Linebacker

While Alec Ogletree had a solid season in 2018, B.J. Goodson has proved that he’s more capable of contracting injuries than making appearances. Missing 11 games in two seasons has plagued Goodson’s once optimistic level of potential. He’s an above average tackler with good run-stopping ability, but not being on the field simply doesn’t help the team succeed.

Finding a more healthy option in the draft should be a priority, while Goodson should take a backseat as a reserve/scheme player.

4.) Right tackle

Similar to what the Giants did in the 2018 NFL draft, I expect them to allocate their second-round pick towards the offensive line, specifically at right tackle. Replacing Chad Wheeler is a must this offseason, since he graded out as the #78 tackle in the league last season, according to PFF.

Kansas State tackle Dalton Risner makes the most sense for the Giants in the second round, but he has some flaws that might restrict his potential. I don’t anticipate the Giants spending first-round capital on the position, but Gettleman seems to be determined to make the line one of the better units on the team and in the league – nothing can be ruled out here if Andre Dillard or Jawaan Taylor are available at No. 17.

5.) Cornerback

The Giants need to draft at least two corners in the first four rounds of the draft. Players like Notre Dame’s Julian Love and Temple’s Rock Ya-Sin present great value after the first two rounds if available.

The drafting of Sam Beal in the Supplemental Draft offers some value opposite Janoris Jenkins, but missing the entire 2018 campaign with a shoulder injury doesn’t help his case. The Giants lack a true No. 2 corner and will be looking to find developmental value while they piece together their defense on all levels.

Free safety:

Signing Antoine Bethea was a good move in the interim as he provides tons of experience in the NFL and with defensive coordinator James Bettcher. Bethea made the transition from strong safety to free as age caught up with him. He will be able to teach the younger player or potential draft picks.

One of the more exciting developmental prospects is Deleware’s Nasir Adderley. Sitting behind Bethea for a season would be beneficial and would present the Giants will a starter at the position for the foreseeable future.