Despite not really being relevant for quite some time, the University of Miami is still producing NFL-caliber talent, and the New York Giants should take notice. Two players would be great fits with the Giants: Denzel Perryman and Duke Johnson.
I’ll start with the man they call “Duke.”
While Melvin Gordon ruled the regular season, and Ezekiel Elliott dominated the National Championship game, Duke Johnson quietly had the best rushing season in the history of the University of Miami. That’s right, Johnson had a better year than Clinton Portis, Edgerrin James, Willis McGahee and Ottis Anderson had.
His quickness, elusiveness and ball-carrier vision will make him perfectly capable of succeeding at the next level. Man, this kid is going to make some NFL team very happy because of his versatility, and I can see him putting up Pro Bowl numbers as early as his second year. The only problem is that he likely won’t make it to the Giants in the third round. I say third round because I view linebacker as a bigger need, so if Perryman is on the board when New York picks in the second round, I expect them to pull the trigger.
Speaking of Denzel Perryman.
Perryman is the more realistic option, and he would help the Giants immensely, even if he doesn’t start in 2015. Perryman was a Butkus Award finalist in 2013 and 2014. He’s coachable and extremely aggressive. Perryman does a great job of flowing to the ball. He’s great in run support, and he can fend for himself in coverage. Although Perryman is only 6’0″, he plays like he’s about six inches taller. If you don’t believe me, go check out some of his hits. The smart, savvy Perryman has all the intangibles to offer a lot to an NFL team.
His ability to fill gaps and make tackles is really remarkable. It’s easy to see why the U gave him the same number Ray Lewis and Jon Beason wore. Actually, Beason’s presence on the Giants is another reason why Perryman would be a perfect fit for Big Blue.
These two have more similarities than sharing an alma mater. They’re both so good at doing what they’re supposed to do, and they’re both leaders. Leadership isn’t a quality that can be measure, but the Giants certainly look for it. That was apparent last year as five of New York’s seven picks were team captains in college.
Ideally, Beason is the perfect guy for Perryman to learn under. If the Giants don’t want to throw Perryman in with the starters at the beginning, that’s fine. Let’s face it, as much as Giants fans – myself included – like Jon Beason, he is not the long-term answer at inside linebacker.
Here’s the issue with Johnson and Perryman, though: New York probably won’t be able to get both. Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? No.
With Johnson being ranked as high as the third-best running back (per Walter Football), and Perryman projected as a possible first rounder (second round at the very least), it’s possible one of them slips to the second round, but there’s no way the Giants can nab both Hurricanes without trading up. Johnson or Perryman slipping to the third-round almost certainly won’t happen.
Ok, I acknowledge the fact that I’m a Miami fan, so seeing two ‘Canes on the Giants would make me very happy. With that being said, I do think acquiring Johnson and Perryman would help the Giants from day one, and I do honestly think there’s a slight chance it could happen.
The lone silver lining is that the running back has kind of lost its value since the NFL has transformed into such a pass-heavy league. This year’s running back class is very strong, so there is a slight, slight chance a team won’t want to reach for Johnson in the second.
Here’s an example: in 2012 I viewed Lamar Miller as a second-to-third round talent, but he ended up going in the fourth. Although he wasn’t incredibly sought after like Trent Richardson (remember when teams wanted him?), Miller was the fourth-ranked running back behind Richardson, Doug Martin and David Wilson. The players that went before him were all ranked lower by NFL.com, so it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility to see Johnson slip. Granted, Miller, although exceptional at the U, did not break records like Johnson.
The two players would be two more young, gifted players for the Giants to build around.
As previously mentioned, Jon Beason isn’t the long-term answer at linebacker, and Rashad Jennings isn’t the long-term answer at running back either. The Giants running game lacks diversity (as I’ve talked about before), and they need a change-of-pace back.
Jennings will be 30 next year, and he can’t seem to stay healthy. Pairing Andre Williams with Duke Johnson would give the Giants the foundation for the future.
Duke Johnson would be another piece of a promising offense with names like Odell Beckham, Rueben Randle, Larry Donnell, Weston Richburg and Andre Williams. Perryman, on the other hand, would join young studs like Kennard, Johnathan Hankins and Damontre Moore.
While getting both of these players is likely nothing more than a good idea, drafting only one of them would bolster the Giants immensely.
Drafting Duke Johnson and Denzel Perryman would give New York its third-straight stellar draft class as the team continues to head in the right direction.