They may not want to admit it, but the New York Giants are facing a period of transition. The 2013 NFL draft will be pivotal for Jerry Reese and the Giants' front office to re-establish a winning culture.
New York may very well finish with nine wins in 2012, the same amount they had in their Super Bowl campaign of 2011. The end of this season, however, will feel quite different.
With the permutations looking bleak and the holiday season fast approaching, there's only one way to look forward to the draft in April: with wishful thinking.
Whose names will Giants' fans be chanting for at Radio City Music Hall? Which positions of weakness will be strengthened? Here's a look at potential targets the Giants will hope to acquire through the draft.
The Giants have some glaring needs that must be addressed in the offseason. Quite possibly the best defensive back in this year's draft, Alabama's Dee Milliner would be a huge addition for Big Blue.
New York's cornerback situation is a messy one. Corey Webster's deficiencies in coverage have been well documented, Terrell Thomas is recovering from a career-crippling third ACL injury, and Prince Amukamara has been maddeningly inconsistent during his time with the team.
Nabbing Dee Milliner in the first round would be a major steal for the Giants. The junior from Alabama has shown he is capable of starting from day one in this league.
Milliner would accompany Amukamara in the secondary on opening day because of his physical tools and his ability to turn his head and locate the ball in coverage.
Having displayed the experience and intangibles necessary to be a first-round pick, Dee Milliner will undoubtedly be a prized commodity this April.
The Giants have been searching for a dependable third option in the passing game since Mario Manningham left the team. Inserting an extra threat on offense will make life much easier on Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks.
In very small spurts, tight end Martellus Bennett has shown he can be a special talent. His fickle approach to playing with the same intensity on every play, however, means he is best utilized as a run-blocker.
Zach Ertz would be the perfect complement to the Giants' personnel at the tight end position. The junior from Stanford is an average run-blocker, but is exceptional as a receiving threat. Ertz's biggest strength is his ability to run solid routes and separate from defenders.
The NFL has seen the likes of Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski dominate opposing safeties and linebackers in recent years. If Ertz is available in the second round, expect Jerry Reese to pounce.
Kevin Reddick has the type of versatility at the linebacker position that the Giants long for. Reddick posted an impressive tally of 85 tackles and 6.5 sacks during his senior season in Chapel Hill.
Michael Boley and Chase Blackburn are the only two linebackers on the Giants' roster who are reliably capable of playing in every down-and-distance.
Many teams deploy four linebackers on defense because of their ability to defend both the run and pass. The Giants defense has been watered down to just two linebackers at a time on many occasions in 2012.
Reddick will improve the zone coverages Perry Fewell implements on obvious passing downs and is a sound tackler in the running game. Drafting Kevin Reddick in the third round would finally quell the concerns Giants fans have had about the linebacker position.
With right tackle David Diehl presumably on his way out of New York, the Giants will be looking to add offensive linemen in April's draft. Ricky Wagner is a gifted senior prospect out of Wisconsin who would seamlessly fill Diehl's shoes.
The NFL can be an unforgiving league at times. Following a midseason MCL sprain, David Diehl has struggled to return to form for the Giants. With age catching up to the former cornerstone of the Giants' offensive line, it's time to sever ties and commit to a promising player out of college.
Wagner has played at both tackle positions during his college career in Madison.
The offensive tackle is a relative neophyte to the position considering he was just a 195-pound basketball player in high school. Now, Wagner weighs almost 320 pounds and is an attractive prospect for teams looking to improve their offensive line.
What seemed like an embarrassment of riches in 2011 is a becoming a bit of a concern for New York heading into the 2013 draft. Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora have begun to date themselves through what has been a rigorous season. The former bookends to a brutal pass rush have combined for just nine sacks in 2012.
Cornelius Washington is a pure pass-rushing talent coming out of college. His strengths as a defender indicate that there is a solid chance he will be converted to the defensive end position when he enters the league.
Compared to some of the veterans on the Giants defensive line, Washington would be incomparably cheaper as a mid-round pick and could infuse some much needed energy into an aging pass rush.
The late rounds of the NFL draft are typically reserved for finding players that can add productive depth to your roster. Giants center David Baas has endured several injuries that have sidelined him during his time in New York.
Rather than rearranging the offensive line when Baas is hurt, the Giants would benefit from having a reliable true center to back him up on the roster. Kevin Boothe has been moved to center on numerous occasions because of the lack of trust the team has in backup Jim Cordle.
Dalton Freeman is an overwhelmingly experienced prospect at the center position. His 48 consecutive starts for Clemson speak volumes about his leadership and durability. With Baas' health issues and Cordle's lack of development, the Giants would be wise to keep their eyes on Freeman.
Lawrence Tynes' late-season struggles are not an anomaly. At a time when 55-yard field goals are well within most kickers' ranges, Tynes has let the Giants down from similar distances all year. The reason? He doesn't have the leg to make it.
Dustin Hopkins is a perfect 5-for-5 from 50-plus yards during his senior season at Florida State.
Justifying a draft pick on a kicker is an unenviable task, especially when used to replace a player who sent your team to two Super Bowls on game-winning kicks. But Tynes' deficiencies have cost the Giants as of late, and New York would be foolish to hold onto a player because of his exploits in 2007.
Hopkins is a representation of the new breed of kickers: valuable weapons who make 50-yard field goals look like chip shots. Lacking this luxury ultimately cost the Giants in 2012. They would be remiss to let it happen again.