Who Will New York Giants Choose at No. 32? Breaking Down 5 Potential Picks
Coming off their recent Super Bowl victory, the New York Giants have been left with several holes in their roster. These positional needs must be addressed through the 2012 NFL Draft because the G-Men lack the cap space for any significant moves in free agency.
I have listed five potential prospects that the Giants may very well choose with the 32nd pick in the draft and have given in-depth scouting reports for each player. It wouldn't shock me if any of these players end up being the Giants' first-round draft choice. All five of these prospects have legitimate first-round grades and have the potential to develop into solid playmakers with Big Blue.
School: Ohio State
Mike Adams is a physically imposing tackle who has all the raw ability and size to become a solid starting left tackle in the NFL. He has the perfect combination of height, weight and long arms (34 inches) to develop into a perennial Pro Bowler given the right offensive system.
Adams' footwork is what really separates him from the other offensive tackles in this draft. He displays incredible athleticism off the line of scrimmage, although sometimes he loses leverage against speed rushers on the outside. Adams is a natural knee bender with excellent short area quickness. He displays the ability to seal off the edge and provide a powerful initial push in the running game.
Adams doesn't come without his red flags. He was suspended the first five games of the 2011 NCAA season due to Ohio State's tattoo scandal. Also, on tape Adams shows a very inconsistent motor during game play that raises many questions about his work ethic. Recently, there have been some concerns with his strength because at the combine he only did 19 reps of 225 lbs. which is very low for a tackle with a first-round grade.
Adams is an extremely high-upside prospect who has the elite size and foot speed to be a dominant tackle in the league. He displays rare athleticism on the edge, but will definitely need to refine his technique at the next level. He has issues with inconsistency and dedication that must be considered come draft time.
Why He Makes Sense
The New York Giants have let Kareem McKenzie walk via free agency due to his age (35) and his lackluster 2011 campaign. This means that the right tackle position is vacant unless the Giants address it through free agency or find the answer from within. Adams gives them a plug-and-play right tackle who can fill in for McKenzie and then make the transition to left tackle once David Diehl decides to call it quits.
As the nucleus of Nick Saban's championship defense, Hightower displayed all the leadership qualities and poise to be an excellent signal caller in the NFL. Hightower passes the eyeball test with excellent size and strength, two important factors necessary in a starting middle linebacker.
On tape, Hightower shows superior instincts against reading the run and the closing speed to make plays in the backfield. He won't be called upon in too many complicated coverage situations in the NFL, but he has the ability to blanket tight ends or running backs in the flat and make the play when called upon.
Also, Hightower displays an uncanny ability to rush the passer in certain situations. Although he shouldn't be counted on to be an every-down pass rusher, his talents should make him a situational rusher in certain blitz packages as well as in third and long opportunities.
Unlike Adams, Hightower comes with no off-field concerns, but he does have a history with knee injuries which might bring up questions from NFL scouts. During his sophomore season, Hightower tore his ACL in his fourth game against Arkansas in 2009 and missed the entire season as a result. This past injury probably won't have a huge impact on his draft status, but it is definitely something to look out for in the future.
Hightower displays all the qualities to be a solid run-stuffer and situational pass rusher in the NFL. He doesn't possess elite linebacker speed, and his coverage skills down the field are adequate. He also has plenty of experience at the middle linebacker position.
Why He Makes Sense
The Giants haven't had an impact middle linebacker since Antonio Pierce, and the way that offenses abuse the center of the field against them is indicative of it. Hightower is a guy who can immediately take the reins of solidifying the second level of defense and will have no problem serving as Perry Fewell's signal caller on the field.
Mark Barron is the most talented safety in this draft and the only one worth a first-round grade. Barron, like Hightower, comes from the defensive factory of the SEC, Alabama, so it is evident that he will be polished and experienced in professional schemes.
Barron is a thickly built strong safety who excels in run support. His instincts toward playing the run are what make him such an elite prospect. Barron has the ability to quickly diagnose the direction of running plays and use his excellent tackling technique to blow up any play at the line of scrimmage.
Barron is also one of the hardest hitting defensive players in this draft and will become known as such when he makes it into the NFL (check out his hit on Vanderbilt's quarterback on YouTube...incredible).
Barron also has dependable secondary skills when asked to cover the back end in passing situations. Although he doesn’t have elite top-end speed, Barron makes up for it through his elite ball skills. His ability to read the quarterback’s eyes and track down potential wide-receiving targets are two dominant aspects of his game. Also, Barron will be a great special team’s player in the NFL due to his superior instincts and tackling ability.
Barron is a phenomenal defender in run support who has smooth, but not elite, coverage skills. He has incredible instincts and is a surefire ballhawk who will be a playmaker in any NFL team’s secondary. Great athlete who reminds me of a poor-man’s Troy Polamalu because of his outstanding tackling technique and his rare ability to blow up plays in the backfield.
Why He Makes Sense
Barron makes a lot of sense for the New York Giants if he is available at No. 32 because the Giants will need safety depth with the expected departure of Deon Grant. The Giants often use three safeties in their defensive schemes, so the need for an in-the-box defender to replace Grant is undeniable.
Barron will fit this position to a tee because he will be called upon to play a larger role in run support, which he excels at, and will have no trouble lighting tight ends up in the middle of the field.
School: Virginia Tech
The 2011 ACC Player of the Year is a very explosive runner who has all the makings of an every-down back in the NFL. David Wilson is an energetic speedster (4.40 forty time) who has the potential to be a home-run threat in the NFL as a running back as well as a kick returner.
Wilson has excellent acceleration which allows him to burst off the line of scrimmage. He is a patient runner who waits for his blockers and then takes advantage of the open space. Wilson is a very shifty runner on inside runs and uses his unique body lean ability to fool linebackers and defensive backs past the line of scrimmage.
For a running back his size, he has rare physical strength and has no problem running through would-be tacklers if given the opportunity. Wilson excels on sweeps to the outside where his natural quickness and explosion can easily exploit defenses.
He is a natural pass catcher who developed into a threat in the flat as well as down the sideline for the Hokies. He is also an awesome locker room presence and comes with no off-field issues.
Wilson’s biggest red flag, in terms of scouting, is his looseness with the football. He fumbled the football way too much for a running back of his status. Also, Wilson often falls in love with his elusiveness and tries to make a broken play into something and occasionally loses even more yardage as a result. These are two very frustrating aspects of his game, but with proper coaching he could definitely fix these issues.
Wilson is a dynamic athlete who has a multi-faceted skill set in regard to his running style. He is explosive and balanced as a runner who displays a unique shiftiness. He is a fluid pass catcher who can also be used as a threat in the return game as well. In the NFL, he has the skills to be an extremely productive running back as long as he learns better ball security and how to pass protect on passing downs.
Why He Makes Sense
With the recent release of Brandon Jacobs, the front office and Jerry Reese may look to address the need at running back with an early draft choice. Trent Richardson will be gone by the Giants' pick, but David Wilson might be there at No. 32 and could provide the G-Men with a dynamic tailback to pair alongside Ahmad Bradshaw.
Keep in mind that Bradshaw is constantly injured so it is not out of the picture to think that Reese may invest a high draft pick in either David Wilson or Lamar Miller out of Miami (both borderline first-round draft talents).
The Giants had the worst rushing attack in the NFL last year and may look to inject an explosive talent into their backfield in order to make their offense more balanced with the selection of Wilson.
With the growing demand for mismatch-creating tight ends in the NFL, Fleener looks to be the next in line to fill that role for any team that selects him.
Fleener has the size and strength (27 reps at combine) to be a dominant pass catching tight end at the next level. He has plenty of experience in a pro-style offense with his years at Stanford and should have no problem adjusting in the NFL.
Fleener was often used as vertical threat for Andrew Luck at Stanford and used his elite skill set to take advantage of defensive backs. He has excellent route running skills, especially in deep passing situations, for a tight end of his size. Fleener also possesses large mitts (10-inch hands) which allow him to snag passes with ease across the middle of the field.
What sets Fleener apart as tight end prospect is his superior straight-line speed. At his pro day, Fleener ran a 4.45 forty which is amazing considering his height and weight. NFL scouts will be salivating over Fleener’s potential as a deep threat receiver. He has the speed to cruise past linebackers and the size to abuse defensive backs.
Fleener doesn’t come without his red flags, though. He is definitely a liability as a blocker during in-line offensive schemes. His blocking technique will need to be fine-tuned and his hand placement will need to improve as well at the next level. Fleener does have the strength and frame to become a serviceable blocker in the NFL as long as he is given the proper coaching.
An impressive physical specimen at the tight end position who has all the size and speed requirements to be a productive tight end in the mold of a Jimmy Graham- or Rob Gronkowski-type of player. Has loads of potential as a vertical threat, but must improve his blocking to be a well-rounded tight end at the next level.
Why He Makes Sense
The Giants lost both Travis Beckum and Jake Ballard to ACL injuries during the Super Bowl, which means that they probably won’t be back in action until late in the 2012 season. Martellus Bennett was recently signed to a one-year deal in order to make sure that Bear Pascoe wasn’t the only tight end with experience on the roster.
Clearly, the G-Men lack depth at the tight end position, and with Bennett’s contract for only one year, there is no guarantee he is a lock at the position for the next couple of years.
Plug in Fleener and the Giants now have a productive tight end who can fill the hole as a deep threat receiver left by Mario Manningham’s departure. He has scary potential as an offensive weapon and can develop into Eli Manning’s most trustworthy end zone target given time.