With the No. 10 pick in the 2016 NFL draft, the New York Giants select Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple.
Though they signed Janoris Jenkins in the offseason, there was still a clear need for more help at cornerback for the G-Men. Apple fits as a natural press-man defender with tremendous aggressiveness and the ability to redirect receivers where he wants them to go. One could question whether Mackensie Alexander or Vernon Hargreaves is the better talent pick here, but the Giants want cornerbacks who are aggressive to the point of failure, and Apple fits the bill. He’ll have to watch the penalties, to be sure.
Strengths: Good-sized, natural disruptor who lives to play press coverage and contend throughout a route. Does a very good job of establishing inside position on boundary routes and taking the correct angles downfield. Has the awareness to out-maneuver receivers and keep them uncomfortable throughout a route, forcing them to adjust. Willing and aggressive tackler in run support, and can throw off receiver blocks to stick his nose in. Quick enough to trail speed receivers all over the field. Closes quickly on slants, digs and comebacks. Attacks the ball at the catch point—he believes the ball is his on every play. Developed a good sense of the field when playing bail coverage. Has learned to use his hands to keep position on downfield receivers while turning his head to diagnose the cornerback. Has a ton of potential as a pure technician.
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Weaknesses: Apple can be too aggressive at times, leading to blown tackles and missed assignments. Spends far too much time getting handsy when he’s beaten. Not a natural diagnostician downfield against receivers running more complex routes. Can be outsized as a cover man and as a tackler. Gets away with short- and intermediate-area muggings in college that will probably get him flagged more readily in the NFL. Needs refinement work as an off-coverage player and potential slot defender.