The ephemerality of football is truly remarkable.
Just a month after the Giants rampaged through the playoffs and left the New England Patriots—and the rest of the sporting world—dumbfounded in Super Bowl XLVI, Big Blue's metaphorical honeymoon is already over. The NFL Draft is approaching and GM Jerry Reese and company don't have a moment to spare.
Ultimately, lost in the fervency of the ticker-tape parades and the Lombardi Trophy is a pedestrian 9-7 regular-season record that the Giants will need to improve upon next year. And with a loaded draft class in 2012, they'll have the resources available to make it happen.
When New York is finally on the clock, Radio City Music Hall will erupt in cheers for the hometown champions. But will they make the right decisions? Time will tell.
Let's take a look at how DraftTek.com's latest mock draft looks for the G-Men.
If you listen closely, you may already hear the chorus of groans and sighs emitted from this article's readership.
A defensive lineman in the first round? That's exactly what DraftTek calls for, sending Mercilus, a standout 4-3 end from the University of Illinois, to the Giants with the 32nd overall selection.
With Pro Bowler Jason Pierre-Paul, perennial All-Pro Justin Tuck and bona fide star Osi Umenyiora already on the roster, this pick seems ill-conceived to say the least.
True, Osi's future in the Big Apple is uncertain. Reese also has a knack for stockpiling talent at the DE position—Tuck was drafted when Umenyiora and Michael Strahan were starters; Pierre-Paul when Umenyiora and Tuck were starters.
But with the team needing serious help along the offensive line and in the tight end and linebacker cores, another end this high just doesn't make sense.
Nevertheless, Mercilus, marking in 6'3" and 262 pounds, would be an absolute steal in terms of pure value. Ranked 14th overall on DraftTek's big board, the Illini star forced nine fumbles and notched sixteen sacks, en route to earning the Ted Hendricks Award for the nation's best defensive end.
Still, with notable linebacker Zach Brown projected to go four picks later to Tampa Bay and explosive tight end Coby Fleener mocked as a mid-second round selection, New York would be passing on a remarkable opportunity to fill its most pressing needs.
"Jerry Reese...could be convicted for grand larceny!," DraftTek adamantly exclaims after sending Miller, the agile 'back from "the U," to the Giants to close the second round.
Ranked 38th on the big board but drafted 64th overall, they may have a point.
In this mock, Reese abandons team need and instead pursues the best talent available. The positions of linebacker, offensive lineman and tight end are yet again put on the back-burner, as a running back is taken instead.
This seems to make marginally more sense, however, as the G-Men ranked dead-last in the league in total rushing and, with Brandon Jacobs' potentially-dwindling days in New York, Miller would be an excellent compliment to Ahmad Bradshaw.
The sophomore stud was phenomenal in 2011, averaging a whopping 5.6 yards per attempt. He would immediately find a niche in the Giants' sluggish backfield, potentially rejuvenating a once-dominant rushing attack.
With Miller in Giants blue, Eli Manning's roof for success in 2012-13 soars exponentially.
But will he actually fall all the way to the second round? DraftTek's alternate pick, Jerel Worthy, would be equally helpful at the defensive tackle position.
Round three is when DraftTek sees Reese addressing the tight end issue, which immediately sprang to prominence after both Travis Beckum and Jake Ballard sustained injuries on Super Sunday.
Linthicum is an interesting selection, seeing as he's never amassed more than three receiving touchdowns or 400 receiving yards in a season. But the senior did put in a spectacular effort in his final game as a Spartan, recording seven catches for 115 yards in the Outback Bowl.
The All-Big Ten Second Teamer would be welcomed right in to Eli's offense, although he seems to be lacking a certain verticality that contemporaries Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen demonstrate.
Still, for a need-based pick, Linthicum is logical here.
In a continuing effort to add youth and flexibility along the defensive line, DraftTek sees the Giants taking tackle Mike Martin in the fourth round.
Martin's physicality is undeniable—his combine weigh-in came to 306 pounds—and he has been described by many scouts as "the best pure nose tackle available." While the Giants don't use a 3-4 defense, Martin could be competing for playing time as early as training camp alongside Chris Canty and Linval Joseph.
NFLDraftScout.com tags the Wolverine as a "bowling ball of muscle." The Giants and their 19th-ranked run defense could certainly use his presence next year.
Reese is a repeat offender come round five, this time committing his larceny with TCU linebacker Tank Carder.
DraftTek's +18 reach value for Carder should seriously excite Giants fans, who had to witness near-painful levels of inconsistency at the linebacker position this past season.
Carder exemplifies defensive explosiveness at the college level, turning in multiple defensive touchdowns for the Horned Frogs in 2011. His speed off the edge would be a fantastic fit for defensive coordinator Perry Fewell's system, which is becoming increasingly reliant on rushing the passer.
Still, fans should be weary of Carder's falling stock. In 2010, he anchored TCU's top-ranked scoring defense with 3.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for losses. But in 2011, he notched just 4.5 tackles for losses and no sacks.
Carder's hard-hitting style of play would nevertheless make an immediate impact for the Giants and by round five, the Giants have covered two out of their most concerning team needs.
Round six sees the Giants following Reese's "stockpile talent" mantra with the selection of wide receiver Lance Lewis from East Carolina.
At 6'1" and 206 pounds, Lewis' physical presence isn't anything overtly impressive. But with 22 career touchdown grabs, an all-time best for the Pirates, he certainly has a consistent nose for the end zone. In just nine games this season, Lewis recorded 60 receptions.
A member of the All-Conference USA Second Team, Lewis has been criticized for lacking a strong first step. But what he lacks in speed he seems to make up for in coordination and route-running.
With Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks responsible for New York's vertical production, a mid-route option like Lewis would be a great supplement to the Giants' already lethal passing attack.
DraftTek closes their most recent mock by bestowing the title of "Mr. Irrelevant" to Arkansas linebacker Jerry Franklin.
The second 'backer taken in this mock, Franklin and Carder have the upside to anchor Big Blue's run defense for years to come. He lead a fierce Razorbacks D with 93 tackles in 2011, bolstering his resume with All-SEC Second Team honors.
In the most competitive conference in college football, Franklin kept pace with the best of them. He concluded his career with 30 consecutive starts, and should he actually fall to the seventh round come April, the Giants would once again pull off a considerable steal.
All in all, DraftTek's mock showcases the Giants pursuing some impressive young talents, although the absence of an offensive lineman in this year's pro-ready draft class is puzzling.