2012 NFL Draft: 5 Surprise Players the New York Giants Could Pick in First Round

Louis Musto@LouisMustoContributor IIIFebruary 23, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: 5 Surprise Players the New York Giants Could Pick in First Round

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    The New York Giants are not afraid to use their first-round draft pick to bolster a position that may not be a need on their roster. In 2010, it was defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. In 2011, the Giants selected cornerback Prince Amukamara, despite the position not being a glaring need—at least not prior to the regular season.

    Heading into the 2012 NFL draft, there are quite a few holes on the Giants roster that need to be filled—such as the linebacker and left tackle positions—but don’t be surprised if the Giants and general manager Jerry Reese go in a different direction with the 32nd pick.

    With the NFL draft still a couple of months away, here’s a look at some unexpected prospects the Giants might venture to spend their first-round pick on.

Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

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    With good talent in Chris Canty, Linval Joseph and Marvin Austin at the defensive tackle position, it would not appear that the New York Giants should go that route. However, Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox is a talented prospect who will definitely garner the Giants attention.

    Cox is a versatile pass-rusher who can stretch to play the defensive end position as well. In a Giants defensive scheme that cycles players in and out to keep them fresh and the offense on its toes, Cox could be a valuable asset for an already lethal pass rush.

    If a need isn’t on the board where Jerry Reese feels comfortable taking him, he isn’t afraid to take value over reaching to fill needs.

Mark Barron, S, Alabama

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    The New York Giants could use some depth at the safety positions, but it doesn’t appear to be something they would target in the first round.

    Alabama’s Mark Barron comes from a top-ranked defense with great size and instincts at the safety position. He excels in zone coverage and would be a good fit in Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell’s scheme.

    At this time, Barron should not fall to the Giants. If he does, though, it might be hard for Big Blue to pass him up with Deon Grant headed for free agency and Kenny Phillips still underperforming.

Devon Still, DT, Penn State

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    Again, defensive tackle is not a big need for the New York Giants. How in the world could you say no to a player of Devon Still’s caliber, though?

    The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year is a force against the run and was a key component in Penn State’s stellar defensive unit in 2011. Still’s potential is something that cannot be ignored and could tempt Reese and the Giants, who never shy away from bolstering the defensive line.

Andre Branch, DE, Clemson

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    It might seem outrageous to draft another defensive end, but so did picking Mathias Kiwanuka and Jason Pierre-Paul. Both are major contributors for the New York Giants now. If the Giants trade Osi Umenyiora, this doesn’t seem quite as ridiculous, but it could happen.

    The first-team All-ACC defensive end Andre Branch is a perfect pickup for the Giants. Branch’s athleticism might be the most favorable trait he boasts for New York and should mesh well with the likes of Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora—if he is still on the team.

David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech

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    The running back position may be a bit of a need this offseason, especially if the Giants release Brandon Jacobs, but to spend a first-round pick on suspect talent would be a big surprise. Virginia Tech’s David Wilson might fit that bill better than anyone else projected to go late in the first round.

    Wilson, a one-year starter for the Hokies, proved to be an elite runner in his junior season with an ACC-best 1,709 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns. He displays phenomenal speed and quickness, and his ability to break through tackles is impressive for someone of his stature.

    Despite this, most teams should have concerns about his experience and his raw technique, especially when running between the tackles. Wilson will need to fix some early ball-carrying issues and prove he can be mature enough to excel at the next level.