“Defense win championships” was the motto that all three NFL teams from New York kept in mind on Thursday night during the first round of the NFL Draft.
The New York Giants were the first of the three teams to make a selection on Thursday, picking at the 10th overall slot. The NFC East squad watched the Tennessee Titans and Chicago Bears trade up the draft to the two positions ahead of them. The Titans selected offensive tackle Jack Conklin from Michigan State and the draft’s host team picked Georgia’s outside linebacker Leonard Floyd.
New York chose Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple, making him the third former Buckeye taken in the top 10 in Thursday’s first round, behind Joey Bosa (third overall) and Ezekiel Elliott (fourth overall).
Apple had a solid college career, but was inconsistent at times. His play will transfer over to the NFL because his 6-foot-1, 199-pound frame allows him to play physical. He played with his hands a bit too much, causing him a lot of pass interference penalties for the Buckeyes, but this is something that can be fixed.
The cornerback will join the likes of veterans Dominique Rogers-Cromartie and newly signed Janoris Jenkins.
The 19th pick went to the Buffalo Bills, who took defensive end Shaq Lawson from Clemson. Rex Ryan decided to stick with what he knows when it comes to the draft, Lawson was the player that Buffalo wanted to select all along.
Ryan is all about bulking up his defense and after a disappointing 2015 season, improvements need to be made for the Bills. The loss of Mario Williams definitely influenced this pick, but the 6-foot-3, 269-pound defensive end will step into a starting role for Buffalo, opposite of Jerry Hughes and containing the outsides while Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams hold down the middle of the defensive line.
Another Ohio State player came off the board at the 20th pick when the New York Jets selected linebacker Darron Lee. Aside from possibly struggling to cover larger wide receivers or tight ends because of his smaller size (6-foot-1, 232 pounds), Lee is seen as today’s NFL outside linebacker, according to NFL.com’s Mike Mayock. He’s a sideline-to-sideline, three-down linebacker.
The Giants, Bills and Jets all went defensive in the first round on Thursday, but Friday and Saturday will truly help shape each of their teams for the upcoming season and the future.
Friday will be the second and third rounds of the NFL Draft, while rounds four through seven will be on Saturday. Both days will be televised on ESPN, Friday starts at 7p.m. and Saturday starts at noon.