On the most anticipated night of the NFL offseason, the New York Giants surprised the NFL by selecting cornerback Eli Apple with thei No. 10 overall pick. The Giants picked Apple over Vernon Hargreaves III, which caused some chaos in the Giants fan base. Hargreaves III has been ranked as better overall prospect than Apple by just about every scout and analyst. Following the selection of Apple, Giants Vice President of Player Evaluation, Marc Ross, was able to defend and explain the selection of Apple.
“We plan out scenarios basically the last couple of days leading up to the draft with how we think it will play out and who we’ll be comfortable drafting," Ross replied,. "It just played out kind of like we thought it would.” This may come as a surprise to most, as the draft had many surprised, starting with the San Diego Chargers selecting Joey Bosa third overall, and all the way to the Chicago Bears and Tennessee Titans trading ahead of the Giants to take Leonard Floyd and Jack Conklin.
Apple is a tall cornerback, who has speed that is coveted by every cornerback. Apple is able to stick with receivers down the field with his unreal speed. On top of his excellence in pass coverage, Apple also adds to the run game. With his 6-foot-1 height and 200 pounds frame, Apple has the near size of an outside linebacker, which allows him to compete at the line of scrimmage with offensive linemen. Ross gave the Giants perspective of what Apple brings to the table.
“We like Eli just because he’s the number one corner on our board.”
Jalen Ramsey not included, Apple was the highest cornerback on the Giants draft board, which definitely comes as a surprise to most.
“The guy is big. He’s fast. He’s athletic. He’s clean off the field. He’s got tremendous upside,” Ross added. “He played at a high level on a quality defense with a lot of other playmakers and guys that were going to be drafted. We just felt this guy would come in, and with the cornerback group we have, fit in right away and give you some versatility. It was a need position. It was value and need and it worked out good for us.”
The Giants clearly think very highly of their new cornerback. The main question that most have heading into the season is who will cover the slot receiver. Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the Giants current starting cornerbacks, haven’t played much nickel cornerback in their careers. As far as Apple goes, he primarily played on the outside in college. Ross gave his take as to whether or not Apple will play nickel corner for the Giants.
“No. He can do both,” Ross noted. “The guy can bend. He’s very flexible. However Spags wants to use those guys, it’s up to him. But I think all three of those guys can give you a little something different. I’m talking about the two starters we have and now Eli. We’ve got some big, athletic, fast guys.”
Ross was spot on with his answer. Rodgers-Cromartie, Jenkins, and Apple all bring unique aspects to the cornerback position. As of now, Apple is the favorite to be the nickel corner, as Rodgers-Cromartie excelled on the outside, and Jenkins has succeeded on the outside as well throughout his career. It will be interesting to see who will cover the slot receiver in 2016.