The NFL draft is amazingly two days away. It feels like just yesterday that the Giants were celebrating and hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Now that the league's new year has started and offseason workouts have begun, the focus shifts to title defense.
Jerry Reese and company have the daunting task of replacing several key veterans lost this offseason. Brandon Jacobs, Kareem McKenzie and Mario Manningham are all gone. Jonathan Goff and Deon Grant have not officially been signed by other teams, but it appears as if their time is done in New York.
Many of these replacements could already be on the team, or plans could be in place to replace them in the draft this weekend.
As much as I want the Giants to take a pass-rusher in this situation, none of the first-round-worthy defensive ends feel like they will make it as far as No. 32.
Should that happen, Jerry Reese should pull the trigger. Nick Perry, Vinny Curry, Whitney Mercilus and Chandler Jones would all look good in Giants blue.
However, if none of them were to fall, the Giants could take care of a multitude of other needs. As with defensive ends, none of the offensive lineman available here feel right, so that's out.
With the emergence of several players, defensive tackles like Kendall Reyes, Jerel Worthy, and Devon Still have been pushed down draft boards. Of those three, I like Reyes to come in and have an immediate impact.
The Giants will have not re-signed Rocky Bernard and Jimmy Kennedy, so they just have 2011 second-round pick Marvin Austin as a backup. Austin has not played a meaningful game since 2009.
Reyes is a versatile player that can line up at all four positions in the 4-3 defense. He has above-average speed for a defensive tackle and elite strength (36 reps at the combine). He is a stout run defender already and has the work ethic to improve his pass-rushing. Reyes rarely takes plays off and always hustles through the whistle.
Other Main Option: Doug Martin
If the Giants feel like Doug Martin is worth the first-round selection, they may take him. Or they could potentially trade back, picking up an extra second- or third-rounder in the process and take Martin.
The Giants could be on the lookout early for an offensive tackle. If Jerry Reese is not happy with the guys on his roster, don't be surprised to see him take one in this spot.
I like Bobby Massie, but he projects to be gone by this point. Mitchell Schwartz is a fantastic selection in his own right.
Schwartz started 51 games for Cal in his career, 35 of which came on the left side. He opened a lot of eyes at the Senior Bowl when he consistently won battles with the premier pass-rushers in the game.
Still, those are college prospects, and this is the NFL.
Having said that, the Giants informed Kareem McKenzie he would not be brought back in 2012, making this a perfect fit for Schwartz. He is an excellent run-blocker and does well enough in pass-blocking to play on the right side. The Giants need a right tackle who can open up holes in the running game, and Schwartz gets off the snap quickly and plays with a mean streak.
Not only does Schwartz have the physical tools, but he has a high football I.Q. and works well off his teammates in blocking schemes. Reese should definitely keep his eye on Schwartz if they don't find a tackle in Round 1.
This is not a change from my previous mock draft. The Giants need someone to fill the void left by Brandon Jacobs, and Robert Turbin is a tough, physical runner that will improve the Giants' short-yardage game.
The Giants will be looking to replace Mario Manningham's production this year and could at the same time be looking for an explosive kick returner.
NC State's T.J. Graham could help with both as he was an electrifying return man for the Wolfpack and showcased the skills to be a slot receiver at the next level. He ran a blazing 1.47 10-yard split and could develop into a solid third option for Eli Manning.
If Coby Fleener falls to the Giants in the first round and there aren't many defensive line prospects they like, then Fleener could be the pick at tight end.
Or, if this scenario plays out, they could get someone later like Egnew, who offers about as much upside as a receiver as Fleener does. At 6'5'', 252 lbs, Egnew has a typical body for an NFL tight end and 4.6 speed to go with it.
He is a converted receiver from Missouri who dominated while catching passes with Blaine Gabbert. In 2010 he had 90 receptions for 762 yards and was one of the most productive tight ends in the country. As Missouri struggled this year, his production dipped a bit, but he is still considered one of the top receiving options in the draft from his position.
The problem is that he offers little from a blocking standpoint. No matter—the Giants have Martellus Bennett and Bear Pascoe to handle those duties.
I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the Giants take a guard prospect in the final two rounds. With a spot seemingly up for grabs at left guard, Reese will attempt to add competition. Mitch Petrus, Kevin Boothe and David Diehl all saw action at the spot in 2011.
Neither of them stood out, but Petrus' addition to the lineup seemed to jump-start a few good weeks in the run game from the Giants.
It seems to me that Kevin Boothe has the inside tract to start, considering he was the first option when Will Beatty was placed on IR. I wouldn't count anyone out of the running, however.
Blackwell played for a run-dominant offense at LSU, anchoring an offensive line that bulldozed their way to an SEC championship. The Giants will like that he played both center and guard in college.
Due to a heart condition he was unaware of, Alexander's stock took a huge hit. He was cleared for his pro day, but the damage has been done. He could tumble this weekend.
He has advanced skills as a pass-rusher and could be a developmental project that pays off in the long run, especially if the Giants decide to trade Osi before his contract runs out this season.