NFL Draft Watch: Top 3 DL Rankings

With the NFL Draft rapidly approaching, over the next few days I plan on breaking down the best and brightest talents in this years class. The defensive line class has a few solid guys, and one superstar, so where do they rank in my eyes?

1. Derrick Brown, Auburn

Pro Comparison: Fletcher Cox

Derrick Brown is heavily slept on. With Okudah, Simmons, and Young stealing a lot of the headlines, Brown has flown under the radar. Brown is a beast at defensive tackle. He’s versatile, at nose tackles he’s a force and when pushed a crossed the line he is a nightmare for running backs. Brown is a beast against the run with a bright future. Cox is incredible at establishing interior pressure, that’s the kind of thing Brown is excellent at which makes them an obvious comparison.

2. Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina

Pro Comparison: Grady Jarrett

Javon Kinlaw is a physical anomaly. Kinlaw is a good athlete in the interior. Kinlaw is a run stuffer and a matchup nightmare. Kinlaw is a dangerous player, but he’s flashed a lot of inconsistencies. Kinlaw can be a matchup nightmare similar to Grady Jarrett. At times, Jarrett can be nothing more than a drawer of doubles teams to free up other guys. Kinlaw can do that and continue to grow and become a better prospect.

3. Ross Blacklock, TCU

Pro Comparison: Henry Anderson

I believe there is a talent drop off after Kinlaw. Blacklock is a talented player with a very high ceiling but he has some issues that need to be worked on. His football IQ could stand to grow, but that will develop with time. He could use some technical refinement, but aside from that, he’s a physical specimen. He creates interior pressure with his blend of size and speed and he’s a low-risk high reward prospect that could be a contributor early and often at the next level. Henry Anderson strikes me as a solid comp because of his ability to create interior pressure and be moved all around the line. 

New York Giants: Could Dave Gettleman really select Derrick Brown with the 4th overall pick?

New York Giants, Derrick Brown

Auburn DT Derrick Brown has been connected to the New York Giants, but is it realistic?

Whenever Gettleman or Joe Judge jumps on the phone to give the media their dose of smokescreen, everyone seems to forget Derrick Brown was once linked to the New York Giants earlier in the draft process.

Brown is a stud interior defender from Auburn, praised for his immense qualities in stopping the run and plugging holes in the trenches. His undeveloped pass rush is also a positive Gettleman is likely looking at. Still, the reality is, the Giants have far too many needs to allocate more resources toward a defensive tackle.

This offseason Big Blue franchise-tagged Leonard Williams for a nudge over $16 million and drafted Dexter Lawrence in 2019, suggesting that Brown is not in their plans, but is there a chance he could be?

Interior DTs have always enamored Gettleman, and Gettleman’s draft in 2013 attests to that, as he drafted Star Lotulelei and Kawaan Short back to back in the first two rounds. While that was a long time ago, it’s clear he prefers big bodies, which can also push the pocket and log sacks as the season progresses.

Brown is a unique prospect and one of the best players in the upcoming draft — his incredible combination of size and strength makes him a plug and play starter in the trenches. He’s quick off the LOS and fills holes with ferocity. His ability to draw double teams and use his massive arms to clear blockers allows linebackers to jump up and stop runners in their tracks.

Now, you can make the argument that Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Leonard Williams are all similar players and offer matching qualities, to a degree. That’s the primary reason Brown to the Giants makes little sense unless Gettleman is trying to sell high on one of those players.

Williams is on the franchise tag, so expecting any other team to want him at $16 million per season is blasphemous, so we can rule that out. Tomlinson had a stellar 2019 campaign against the run, and he’s a cheaper second-round selection going into a contract year. Replacing him would be ludicrous unless they extended him first to guarantee team control, and Dexter has immense potential as a sophomore in 2020.

From all angles, drafting Brown doesn’t make sense, and with a laundry list full of needs, Gettleman shouldn’t have any positions other than offensive tackle and linebacker on his mind.

Why The New York Giants Should Not Draft Derrick Brown

New York Giants, Derrick Brown

The New York Giants are preparing for a crucial 2020 NFL Draft. With the draft set to take place in under a month, rumors and mock drafts are abundant. The Giants have reportedly been interested in a few big-name prospects: Tristan Wirfs and Isaiah Simmons being two prime examples. But one name has come up as a potential target for New York, causing some to raise an eyebrow. 

Dave Gettleman and the New York Giants are reportedly interested in using their first-round pick on interior defensive lineman Derrick Brown. The Auburn product totaled 11.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, and 54 total tackles in his junior season. He is the top defensive line prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft class.

Derrick Brown is an extraordinary talent. He will be a home-run selection for one of the league’s thirty-two teams next month. But that team should not be the New York Giants.

Continual Investment

The Giants have invested a humungous amount of draft assets into their defensive line. In 2017, New York’s general manager at the time, Jerry Reese, spent a second-round pick on Dalvin Tomlinson. The following year, Dave Gettleman came to town.

Dave Gettleman has long been criticized for his positional prioritization. He puts a heavy emphasis on running the ball and stopping the run in what is a passing-league. When Gettleman came to town in 2018, he had a track record for stacking up an abundance of defensive lineman during his time as general manager of the Carolina Panthers. With the Panthers, Dave Gettleman spent four first and second-round picks on defensive linemen in five years.

So when Gettleman came to the Giants, they had Dalvin Tomlinson in place with potential for a talented young defensive line in the works. But it did need additional assets. Gettleman delivered, hitting on his third-round pick, BJ Hill, a defensive lineman that impressively racked up 5.5 sacks as a rookie. RJ McIntosh was also the Giants’ seventh-round selection that year. He did not see the field much, but when he did, his performance was also impressive.

Unfortunately for Hill and McIntosh, they have both been shoved to the bottom of the depth chart. In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Giants selected Dexter Lawrence II with the seventeenth overall pick. Another exciting player added to the defensive line that now looked to be one of the best young defensive fronts in the NFL. Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson, and BJ Hill seemed to be a force for years to come, with McIntosh as a solid rotational piece.

The Arrival of Leonard Williams

That was until Hill’s replacement switched locker rooms. The Giants acquired Leonard Williams in a trade with the New York Jets. Williams is an excellent player, but the Giants had no chance of making the playoffs when the deal was made and gave up a 2020 third-round pick and a 2021 fifth-round pick to acquire the impending free-agent lineman.

This trade stunted BJ Hill’s development. But the Giants did gain a talented former first-round pick in Leonard Williams. Unfortunately, Williams became a free agent only months later. Leonard and the Giants have not been able to reach a long-term agreement, which is what led the Giants to place the costly franchise tag on their new defensive lineman.

List of Assets Invested:

With all this taken into account, here is what Dave Gettleman has invested into the Giants’ defensive line since 2018: 2018 third-round pick, 2018 seventh-round pick, 2019 first-round pick, 2019 seventh-round pick, 2020 third-round pick, 2021 fifth-round pick, $16.1 million franchise tag.

This is a positional group that has only three starters. With so much already invested into the New York Giants’ defensive line, would it really make sense for the Giants to spend their 2020 first-round pick on Derrick Brown? New York’s defensive line is already the strongest position group on the team. It is time to start investing in other positions of actual need.

New York Giants: Dave Gettleman could do the unthinkable in the 2020 NFL Draft

New York Giants, Derrick Brown

The New York Giants have plenty of needs that require allocation of resources this offseason, but one unit that is all but set in stone if GM Dave Gettleman re-signs Leonard Williams is interior defensive lineman.

Given Williams is retained on a multi-year deal, the Giants still have Dalvin Tomlinson and Dexter Lawrence on the roster, already marking their three starters for the foreseeable future. Gettleman, however, is reportedly enamored by Auburn defensive tackle, Derrick Brown.

Gettleman is a big “best player” available advocate, formerly stating:

“Best player. You want to use unrestricted free agency to put yourself in a position so that you can draft the best player. More often than not, when you draft for need, you’re going to make a mistake.”

The Giants will make moves in free agency, which will give us a great idea of who their draft target will ultimately be. If they go out and sign star cornerback, Byron Jones, we can write Jeff Okudah out of their draft plans. The same concept can be used for Leonard Williams and Jadeveon Clowney. Potentially even Cory Littleton and Joe Schobert if Gettleman elects to spend money at the linebacker position.

However, Gettleman can royally blow our minds if he takes Derrick Brown with the 4th overall pick, especially when there are multiple top tackle prospects and Isaiah Simmons on the board.

During the NFL Combine, Brown stated that teams aren’t looking for interior defensive lineman anymore, but rather multi-positional players.

“A lot of teams say they don’t even scout for defensive tackles or nose guards no more,” Brown said. “They scout for D-linemen. They want to find guys that can play the positions across the board.”

New York Giants’ Dave Gettleman could blow our minds…

Gettleman and new head coach Joe Judge are both in the same boat when it comes to mentality and play-style at the NFL level. They desire smash-mouth players who can play multiple relevant positions when called upon, and that’s what the Giants are seeing with Brown — a player who can stop the run but also rush the passer from an interior standpoint.

Brown finished 2019 with 4.0 sacks and 11 tackles for a loss — decent numbers for a big defensive tackle, but his production likely wouldn’t breach that of Williams’ in the NFL in his rookie season. I prefer the Giants to stick with Leo and trade back, given the opportunity. This would allow them to accumulate more draft capital and still have a shot at landing Simmons or a tackle.

New York Giants: Joe Judge At Auburn Pro Day Amid Derrick Brown Speculation

New York Giants, Derrick Brown

It would be a controversial move if the New York Giants took Auburn’s Derrick Brown in the 2020 NFL Draft, increasing Dave Gettleman’s record of taking tackles and passing on a player for the offensive line or for the outside linebacker position, but there’s some new information that indicates the Giants at the very least still have their eyes on Brown.

That’s the fact that Giants head coach Joe Judge attended Auburn’s Pro Day, where the team displayed their draft prospects to NFL scouts, coaches, and General Managers. Of course, the most notable of the Auburn players on display was Brown, who is rumored to be one of the main prospects the Giants are looking at – it’s even been said that the Giants could trade down for Brown, which would be the first trade down in a draft overseen by Dave Gettleman.

Though, that’s not to say that Brown was the sole attraction. While Brown is a defensive tackle and there would likely be many groans from Giants fans if the team took another player at the position while already having several and having larger needs too, there’s also Marlon Davidson, a defensive end who registered 11.5 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks last season.

Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham also attended the Pro Day which could indicate that it, unsurprisingly, is a defensive player or players that the Giants have their eyes on leading up to the Draft.

Regardless of how Brown looked in workouts however, the majority of Giants fans are likely hoping that it’s the defensive end Davidson that the team has their eyes on, and not the star defensive tackle that may go on to be a good player – but not the one the Giants need right now.

New York Giants: Derrick Brown Might Be A Top Target For Dave Gettleman

New York Giants, Derrick Brown

The New York Giants have limitless options heading into the 2020 NFL offseason. They have over $70 million to spend in free agency and the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. With the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine taking place this week, rumors are starting to heat up around the NFL.

A few new rumors surround the New York Giants, too. According to Matt Lombardo of nj.com, Dave Gettleman is “very serious” about trading back in the 2020 NFL Draft. Also according to Lombardo, the Giants’ draft target, if they trade back, will be Auburn defensive lineman Derrick Brown.

Will The Giants Trade Back?

Trading down might be a reliable option for the Giants, but is it a real possibility? General manager Dave Gettleman has never traded down in a draft before. He recently received heavy criticism for this by NBC Sports’ Peter King in his latest “Football Morning in America” column:

A GM who has made 45 picks has never traded down to accumulate more picks from any of the 45. That is borderline negligent. Maybe not even borderline. I am incredulous about that. As I documented last week, GM John Schneider of the Seahawks used last year’s 21st overall pick and traded down six times to accumulate six picks, one of whom was wide receiver DK Metcalf, who, as it turned out, produced better value than a 21st pick in most drafts as a rookie. And four other players from the trade played for the Seahawks last season. Trying to not make too much of that, but wow. Just wow. – Peter King, NBC Sports

Dave Gettleman fielded questions from the media on Tuesday at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. He was asked about the potential of trading down from fourth overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. Dave Gettleman responded, saying, “We’re open for business.” Matt Lombardo’s report seems to back up Gettleman’s statement.

The Argument Against Derrick Brown

Matt Lombardo’s report regarding the Giants’ consideration of trading down came as no surprise. The shocking part of the report is the Giants’ apparent interest in targeting Auburn defensive lineman Derrick Brown.

The Giants have already invested quite a bit into their defensive line. They spent a first-round pick on Dexter Lawrence II in the 2019 NFL draft and traded their 2020 third-round pick for Leonard Williams ahead of the trade deadline. These two moves combined with the talents of Dalvin Tomlinson and BJ Hill make it confusing as to why the Giants would be targeting yet another first-round interior defensive lineman.

Derrick Brown Stats and Highlights

Derrick Brown might be an interior defensive lineman, but he is not your everyday IDL. Brown is a monster. He is one of the top prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft class.

If Leonard Williams walks in free agency, drafting Derrick Brown makes more sense. But even if Williams stays, Brown would make the Giants’ defensive line a dominant unit.

In his 2019 senior campaign, Derrick Brown was unblockable, recording 54 total tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks. This was after putting up 48 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks as a junior.

That’s two straight seasons of consistent, elite performance from Derrick Brown. Brown is a phenomenal run-stuffer and a decent pass-rusher. Combining his talents with that of Dexter Lawrence would create maybe the best young defensive line in the NFL.

But is it wise for Dave Gettleman to spend another first-round pick on an interior defensive lineman? Eventually he will need to start investing in other positions of need. And, after this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, it might be hard for the Giants to say no to an elite talent like Isaiah Simmons if he is on the board at fourth overall.

New York Giants: Gettleman “Very Serious” About Trading Back For Brown

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

The New York Giants are faced with the matter of choosing from a wide selection of players with their number four overall pick in this year’s draft, ranging from outside linebackers to offensive tackles, but if some rumors hold true the team may not spend the pick at all and could instead send it to a team looking for a quarterback.

The question remains of who the Giants will draft lower in the first round if they do trade back, but it looks like they may have found their man. According to Matt Lombardo, of NJ Advance Media, the Giants are serious about the idea of going for Auburn’s Derrick Brown.

Brown showed good athleticism and put up good numbers last year in his senior season at Auburn – 54 total tackles and 11.5 tackles for a loss with 4 sacks, to be specific – but the potential selection still seems somewhat odd. The Giants could use help at defensive end or outside linebacker, which is the reason why Isaiah Simmons has been listed as one of the best fits for them on defense by a lot of sources. Brown, however, is a defensive tackle.

The decision would also leave the Giants without top quality help at the offensive tackle position from this draft, likely leaving them to look for someone to come in during free agency to fill that role.

Is focusing on a defensive tackle in the draft and upgrading the line through free agency the best idea? That still remains to be seen, but right now there’s a buzz building around the idea of Brown going to the Giants – still, this is the time of pre-draft predictions, and for every correct prediction, there’s usually plenty of wrong ones.

Only time will show if there’s truth to this or if it’s simply pre-draft hype.

New York Giants: Is Dave Gettleman preparing to blow our minds again?

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

Before the 2019 NFL draft commenced, New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman was reportedly enamored by quarterback Daniel Jones.

Of course, everybody wrote this off as a silly rumor, despite the absolute truth of it. Jones ended up being the Giants’ selection with the sixth overall pick, beginning the succession of Eli Manning after more than a decade of service.

However, the difference between 2019 and 2020 ultimately comes down to the quarterback position. Last year, the Giants were in desperate need of a rookie signal collar to being the process, and they found him in Jones. This year, they require assistance in other areas, and recent reports have Gettleman looking at interior defense of lineman, Derrick Brown, out of Auburn, as a potential option with the fourth overall pick.

This is concerning, as Brown, a 326-pound defender, is considered one of the best defense of tackles in the upcoming draft. However, the Giants can easily re-sign Leonard Williams, who can also put pressure on the quarterback. The reality is, Big Blue needs help at other positions, notably on the offensive line and at the linebacker position. Passing on Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons and a top tackle prospect would be malpractice in the grand scheme of things.

The New York Giants need to be careful letting Gettleman run the show:

Gettleman is a firm believer in winning games in the trenches. In 2017, he made his “hog mollies” statement and ensured that you must win through running the ball and stopping the run.

That boils down to Derrick Brown, and while the Giants have more pressing needs than the interior defensive line, Gettleman just can’t help but indulge in his gut feeling.

Other reports have mentioned that the Giants and Gettleman are open to trading back and accumulating more draft capital. This would be the ideal scenario where they can address multiple positions instead of spending a top-five pick on a position that was filled by Dexter Lawrence just one year ago.

New York Giants: Defensive Players to Watch at the Combine

New York Giants, Nate Solder, Jon Halapio, Mike Remmers

It is no secret to anyone reading this, but the New York Giants are in serious need of defensive talent.  At the time of this article, the Giants have just $23.2 million of their 2020 cap space allocated to the defensive side of the football.  For comparison, that is less than what both Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald will count towards the Bears and Rams respectively.  The next closest figure is that of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which is $42.9 million.

It is without question that the New York Giants will target the defense in both Free Agency and April’s draft.  Everyone knows the big name prospects that the Giants may or may not be able to get in the first round.  Chase Young, Isaiah Simmons, Derrick Brown and Jeffrey Okudah are all well known and potential targets for Big Blue in the early stages.  Yet, with currently 10 picks throughout the entire draft, including compensatory picks, the Giants need to be able to target defenders at every stage.

Who are some other prospects the Giants could target in days 2 and 3?

EDGE Zack Baun – Wisconsin

Zack Baun has been a named mocked to the Giants in the 2nd round by numerous sources.  However, he doesn’t have a flashy name like Young, K’Lavon Chaisson or A.J. Epenesa.  For Giants fans well in tune with Joe Judge’s plan of versatility, maybe you should get accustomed to it.  Baun is a defensive playmaker that will be best suited in a versatile role.  His quickness and burst are what will make him stand out in pressure generation.  He can quickly fill gaps in the run game, as well.  If Zack Baun is indeed a selection for the Giants, look for him to play all over the field for the defense.

CB Damon Arnette – Ohio State

I will not be surprised to see Ohio State’s Damon Arnette sneak into the first round after a good showing in Indianapolis.  His skills in press coverage would be well suited for every team in the NFL.  Arnette does not have the elite speed most teams may covet in a corner, so safety help is a must.  Where he does excel, are his ball skills and short-area abilities.

EDGE Joshua Uche – Michigan

No, this isn’t an article of Big Ten athletes.  Joshua Uche is just good.  In his interview this week, Jedrick Wills picked Uche when asked who his toughest matchup was in college.  That is saying a lot coming from an Alabama prospect.  Uche is not the most filled out athlete, but his quickness and bend is top-notch.  He has the frame to add more mass, which could really propel him into the top echelon of NFL pass rushers.

S Kyle Dugger – Lenoir-Rhyne

The South Atlantic Conference in NCAA’s Division II is about as far away from the Big Ten as one could get.  Kyle Dugger, however, will be competing with top tier talent on Sunday’s.  Dugger is another versatile defensive weapon.  One could call him a poor man’s Isaiah Simmons.  However, if he gets called to play for the New York Giants, they’d very likely hit it rich.  Dugger may find the best success transitioning to LB.  In fact, he was asked to take part in LB drills at the NFL Combine.  He may not have the same skill set as Simmons, but he comes with similar versatility.

LB Akeem Davis-Gaithers – Appalachian State

Another prospect from a “smaller” program, Akeem Davis-Gaithers has the talent that the Giants are looking for.  He’s a linebacker that comes with a very good range.  In college, he occasionally was asked to cover wide receivers, but absolutely has the athleticism to cover running backs and tight ends in pass defense.  Similar to Uche, he could afford to put on some extra pounds.  With his hard-hitting mindset, it would be extremely beneficial for him to do so at the next level.

S Shyheim Carter – Alabama

The Giants have had success with Alabama safeties and Shyheim Carter could be the next.  Like Landon Collins, Carter does his best work near the line of scrimmage.  Another versatile, hybrid player, the New York Giants could very well benefit from his services.  Also like Collins, however, he is not someone you’d trust covering a running back or tight end in coverage.

LB Cameron Brown – Penn State

A late-round prospect, Cam Brown is the type of linebacker the Giants have needed.  He has incredible range and athleticism.  Often being bumped out to cover wide receivers in the slot and tight ends.  The Nittany Lions used him quite often in pass defense of the flat zones.  He’s got the range to play WILL but will need to bulk up and clean up his tackle finishing for the NFL.