Final New York Giants Mock Draft: Big Blue Snags Jonathan Martin, Zach Brown
The draft is dawning, and aside from the first two picks, uncertainty lingers through the football-watching nation.
The league's defending champions can't afford a Super Bowl hangover. The Giants have undeniable holes in their roster, and the draft will be the first step towards refurbishing Jerry Reese's talent pool and preparing for a second consecutive title run.
The G-Men have pronounced deficiencies along the offensive line, in the backfield, at tight end and in the linebacking core. Where will they look first? That remains to be seen.
A day from now, the picture will be much clearer. But for now, let's take a look at the abstract possibilities.
Round 1: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
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Martin really is the no-brainer pick for New York, should he remain on the board at No. 32.
His pure athleticism and positional versatility (he can play on either side of the line) supplement the Giants' need for a younger line. The average age of the Giants' starting blocking core is over 29, and that's after the departure of the long-tenured Kareem McKenzie.
An offensive lineman is not the most ostentatious or excitable selection, but it's certainly the right one.
The Giants averaged a paltry 3.5 yards per carry as a team in 2011, and Martin's raw talent will immediately ameliorate their rushing woes.
Round 2: Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina
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The G-Men were inundated with injuries to their linebackers last year, and Jerry Reese will look to bolster depth with Brown in the second round.
Brown is a ferocious pass-rusher, notching 5.5 sacks in 2011. The senior was also efficient in stopping the run, and at one point was considered a first-round talent.
The Tarheel concluded his college career with 14 tackles in the Independence Bowl. He possesses surging upside and may compete for playing time with Michael Boley and Mathias Kiwanuka, the latter of which he bares striking resemblance to.
Perhaps the Giants don't need a linebacker as badly as a tight end or running back at this point, but the Reesian "best talent available" code prevails here.
Round 3: Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple
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Brandon Jacobs' presence will be sorely missed—he reached paydirt 38 times in the past four years. But the Giants can start to rebuild their rushing attack and fill Jacobs' bruising shoes with Bernard Pierce.
In a deep running back class, Pierce tallied an unworldly 27 rushing touchdowns as a junior Owl. He hit the end zone five times against Maryland alone.
Pierce is a speedy, "home run" type of back who in some ways mirrors Bradshaw. He had an impressive combine effort and could be a serious steal for Big Blue.
Round 4: Orson Charles, TE, Georgia
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Charles, once a day-one prospect, has been relegated to the middle rounds in recent mocks. He would be a perfect fit for Eli Manning's offense and a fantastic supplement to newly-inked Martellus Bennett.
After clocking a disappointing 40 time and facing a drunk driving charge, Charles' stock is certainly free falling. But his talent remains in place, and the Giants can afford to take a gamble here. His five touchdowns in 2011 would be welcomed with open arms.
Round 4: Josh LeRibeus, G, Southern Methodist
Reese will waste no time attacking the offensive line question, drafting his second lineman in five picks.
This infusion of young talent will certainly require coaching, but it also could yield promising prospects for Eli Manning, who last year took a few too many quarterback hits for comfort.
NFL.com pegs LeRibeus as a "scrappy, reliable inside blocker." The senior also provides flexibility at the center position, something that could come in handy with David Baas' questionable health.
Round 6: Robert Blanton, CB, Notre Dame
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With Corey Webster, Prince Amukamara and Terrell Thomas in place for 2012, cornerback is not a pressing need for New York, despite the fact that the Giants ranked 29th overall in pass defense last year.
Still, Amukamara is unproven as a second-year pro, and Thomas returns from a nightmarish ACL tear. The G-Men will look to add some depth in the secondary, and Blanton acts as a Thomas-esque run-stopping corner (he notched double-digit tackles multiple times last year).
A competitive Blanton may even see some nickel time in 2012.
Round 7: Matt Daniels, SS, Duke
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Despite compiling a respectable resume in a competitive conference, Matt Daniels is flying well under the radar.
For a seventh-round pick, Daniels flaunts huge upside. He tallied 126 tackles last year and would make a more than serviceable backup to Kenny Phillips.
All in all, Daniels rounds out a very productive draft for the Giants. Let's see what Reese and company do Thursday night.