As the Giants continue to scrap their way towards an unlikely playoff berth, a bit of their future could be on display as the college bowl season begins on Saturday. Plenty of NFL prospects can be found in the 41 bowl games scheduled to be played over the next four weeks.
Right now, the Giants are trending towards a pick in the middle of the first round of the NFL Draft, though that could change dramatically over their final three games (or possibly more). So here are just a few players the Giants should, and probably will be, watching and scouting as the bowl season begins:
DE Zach Allen, Boston College
6-foot-5, 285 pounds Servpro First Responder Bowl, Wed., Dec. 26, 1:30 p.m.
A terrific run defender and pass rusher, which is just the kind of two-way lineman the Giants love. And never underestimate their love of Boston College players either. In a draft loaded with edge rushers, he could be available wherever the Giants pick. They obviously have a huge need for pass rushers, whether they bring Olivier Vernon back or not.
QB Daniel Jones, Duke
6-foot-5, 220 pounds Independence Bowl, Thurs., Dec. 27, 1:30 p.m.
NFL scouts seem to have a lot of differing opinions on this prospect, who has NFL size and has been coached by David Cutcliffe, the man who coached the Mannings. He hasn’t put up great numbers for the Blue Devils, though, completing just 57.5 percent of his passes the last two seasons, while throwing 18 interceptions. Giants fans old enough to remember Dave Brown wouldn’t be happy with another Duke QB.
DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
6-foot-5, 260 pounds Cotton Bowl/National Semifinal, Saturday, Dec. 29, 4 p.m.
He could be the first pass rusher taken in the draft after Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, which means the Giants probably need to finish in the Top 10, or maybe higher, to get him. He’s been a three-year starter and has 26 sacks in those seasons, including 10 ½ this year. The Giants will have their eyes on every pass rusher on this bowl slate.
S Deionte Thompson, Alabama
6-foot-2, 196 pounds Orange Bowl/National Semifinal, Saturday, Dec. 29, 8 p.m.
The Crimson Tide has had a heck of a run providing top quality defensive backs to NFL teams, and Thompson has proven to be a playmaker at safety. He has good size and speed. This only makes sense, of course, if the Giants decide to move on from Landon Collins – a former Alabama safety who worked out pretty well.
OT Jonah Williams, Alabama
6-foot-5, 301 pounds Orange Bowl/National Semifinal, Saturday, Dec. 29, 8 p.m.
He is the best offensive line prospect in the draft, and he would be an immediate starter at right tackle for the Giants, which would go a long way towards finalizing their long rebuilding effort up front. He has everything the NFL wants – quick feet, raw strength, solid technique. The only problem is he’s almost certain to go in the Top 5.
QB Justin Herbert, Oregon
6-foot-6, 233 pounds Redbox Bowl, Mon., Dec. 31, 3 p.m.
He is the king of what is generally regarded as a weaker quarterback crop than the one that came out last season, but NFL scouts still love his tools. He’s said to be a high-character kid, smart, and athletic enough to create plays outside of the pocket. Some think he could use another year in school, but he’s destined to land in the Top 10 this year. The only question is how many teams need a quarterback, and how high he’ll go.
QB Drew Lock, Missouri
6-foot-4, 225 pounds AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Mon Dec. 31, 3:45 p.m.
He had a good year for a Tigers team that has been generally overmatched in the SEC during his 3 ½ years as their starting quarterback. Scouts liked that his accuracy improved this season (from 57.8 percent to 63.2 percent), and he showed a lot of poise in the pocket. His penchant for moving away from the pass rush too quickly had been a worry. He probably could use a year of sitting and learning, which might play right into the Giants’ plans.
QB Ryan Finley, N.C. State
6-foot-4, 212 pounds Gator Bowl, Monday, Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m.
There are some NFL people who think he’s the best quarterback in this class. Others think he’s a second-rounder. What’s undeniable is he was accurate and very productive in his three years with the Wolfpack. If the Giants drop far enough in the draft, or if they choose to take someone other than a quarterback with their first pick, he could be an option.
LB/DE Josh Allen, Kentucky
6-foot-5, 260 pounds Citrus Bowl, Tuesday, Jan 1, 1 p.m.
Much better suited to be an edge-rusher in a 3-4, he’s a dominant pass rusher who had 14 sacks this season. He’s weaker against the run, but that just means he could be a situational pass rusher (at least at first) in a rotation for the Giants. He and Lorenzo Carter could end up being the future bookends for the Giants. He has a “high motor” that Giants GM Dave Gettleman should love.
QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
6-foot-3, 220 pounds Rose Bowl, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 5 p.m.
He had a ridiculous season for the Buckeyes, completely 70.2 percent of his passes for 4,580 yards in 13 games, with 47 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. He’s mobile enough and has a good pocket presence. He’s rising up draft boards, even though many wonder if he’s another quarterback with overinflated value because he plays in Urban Meyer’s system. Huge talent, who could use a year of learning from an experienced vet.
CB Deandre Baker, Georgia
5-11, 185 Sugar Bowl, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 8:45 p.m.
After trading Eli Apple, and with Janoris Jenkins on the salary cap bubble, the Giants need to rebuild at this position. Baker may not have ideal height, but he has 4.5 speed and has the skills some compare to Denzel Ward, who went fourth overall to the Browns last year. The only knock on him is that he could have had more than five interceptions in the last two seasons if he had better hands.