Giants Mock Draft: Instant Contributors New York Can Find in Every Round
After failing to make the playoffs after another midseason swoon, the New York Giants look like a team in need of major improvement.
But if Giants GM Jerry Reese acts like his old self this offseason, then Big Blue will see minor tweaks, not major shifts.
Trouble spots are many and of varying degrees for the G-Men: Linebacker, secondary, offensive and defensive line, the kitchen sink.
You get the picture.
New York is loaded on offense so defense will be the focus come April.
The Giants rarely reach into free agency to fill big holes—and they have a few—so they will look to the 2013 draft to shore up a defense that put little pressure on the quarterback last season and made stars of otherwise pedestrian wide receivers.
Here's one writer's take on how New York will use its seven picks in the 2013 draft.
Round 1, Pick 19: Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
By the time most of you read this, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo will have revealed his role in the now-infamous girlfriend hoax to Dr. Phil.
It will be convincing enough to sway those who thought Te'o was a bigger liar than Lance Armstrong to come back to his corner.
For the Giants, a team desperately in need of a solid addition to their mediocre-at-best linebacking corps, Te'o, at No. 19, could be just what the doctor ordered.
Despite a poor showing in the BCS Championship Game, the beleaguered Te'o has all the physical skills to be a solid (maybe even dominant) linebacker in the NFL, and he showed fire and leadership for the Irish this year.
Te'o's fake girlfriend aside, the fact remains he's an aggressive linebacker who can play down hill, makes every tackle count and wraps up as good as anyone coming out this year. His size limits him against bigger tight ends and linemen, but his drive often overcomes whatever physical limitations he faces on the field.
The fake girlfriend scam will live on in the locker room and visiting stadiums for a while, but Te'o will be small potatoes in New York, where bigger stars with better stories will feed the media beast. And maybe that's just what he needs.
Round 2, Pick 49: Oday Aboushi, OT, Virginia
The Giants' offensive line improved in 2012, but must get even better to protect Eli Manning and help establish a running game against improving NFC contenders.
Left tackle Will Beatty was the surprise of the season on the O-line, but veterans Sean Locklear—and especially David Diehl—disappointed, with the Giants struggling on the right side much of the year.
There are likely to be plenty of offensive linemen who can provide the G-men with depth at this spot in the draft—from North Carolina's Brennan Williams to Tennessee's Dallas Thomas to Virginia's Oday Aboushi.
The 6'6" Aboushi, an All-ACC prospect, impressed with physical play and unusual speed for Virginia last season and would help bolster the Giants' right side.
He's the perfect fit for a thin Giants O-line, having played both right and left tackle for Virginia. Aboushi can be expected to develop into a good pass-protector with quick feet to protect the outside. He should develop into an above-average NFL pass-protector, especially on blitzes and the blind side.
Round 3: Leon McFadden, CB, San Diego State
New York needs to add depth to its secondary and last year it proved it could find it in the later rounds, picking up Jayron Hosley in the third round.
The Giants will do it again this year and would be wise to take a look at San Diego State's Leon McFadden.
Defenses exploited Corey Webster last year and Big Blue's secondary is in need of a major transfusion of new blood.
McFadden was a first-team starter for the All-Mountain West Team in 2012 for the third straight year, recording three interceptions and breaking up many more with his good hands and anticipation.
McFadden has good closing speed and is great at reaching over his head for the interception or knockdown. He can turn and stop on a dime and will go shoulder to shoulder with a receiver.
He struggles, at times, to jam at the line and can have trouble wrapping up the big receiver. Overall, though, McFadden is a versatile pick for New York with plenty of upside.
Round 4: Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina
Big Blue should have the pick of two Gamecocks for this pick—either Devin Taylor, the defensive end or DeVonte Holloman, the outside linebacker.
If the G-Men make the gutsy move in the first round and pick Te'o, then Taylor would likely get the nod.
Taylor gained little notoriety during his tenure at South Carolina, but that's easy to understand when you see that he played side by side with All-American Melvin Ingram in 2011 and DE Jadeveon Clowney this past year.
At 6'7", 268, Taylor is built like Jason Pierre-Paul and could prove an affordable bargain with plenty of upside.
He has the height and length to get his big hands on the ball at the line, knock down passes or, at the very least, make a quarterback struggle to see downfield.
His height, an advantage mid-range, can slow him down up close, where a better lineman can move him around.
Round 5: Nico Johnson, LB, Alabama
At this point in the draft you look for one of two things—a diamond in the rough or a guy with intangibles.
Alabama's ILB Nico Johnson, if he slips this far down the board, could fit the bill on both fronts.
Nick Saban rotated Johnson into the lineup on running downs, where Johnson showed an ability to stuff the ground game, garnering 54 tackles in Alabama's 3-4 defense.
Johnson hustles, is light on his feet and can successfully chase down running backs after coming on a blitz.
Now to the intangibles: Johnson has played every linebacker position on the team and is known as a team-first leader with a great attitude.
The bottom line is that bringing a champion to a team that wants another one makes sense.
Round 6: Kerwynn Williams, RB, Utah State
A versatile back to round out the growing Ahmad Bradshaw/David Wilson tandem could well be found in the later rounds this year.
Utah State's Kerwynn Williams comes to mind. Williams was the No. 11 rusher in the nation, gaining 1,500 yards on the ground and nearly 700 in the air on 45 receptions. He scored 15 touchdowns on the ground and another five through the air.
As a freshman Williams led the WAC in kick return yardage (1,131), ranking third in the country, giving him added versatility for the Giants.
His short, choppy steps give him great agility and pop off the line. Once he's in the open field, he can rip a long one with his ability to see downfield blockers' cutback lanes. His durability has not been tested, as he's never carried the ball more than 81 times.
Still, at this position in the draft, he'd be a great pickup in Round 6 for Big Blue.
Round 7: Chris Gragg, TE, Arkansas
For a team that helped redefine the tight end position—think Mark Bavaro—New York sure has fallen.
Martellus Bennett is a pedestrian receiver, Bear Pascoe is a blocking tight end and Adrien Robinson has shown promise.
Arkansas' Chris Gragg has more upside than those three combined, hauling in 41 passes for 518 yards and two touchdowns during his only year as a starter.
Gragg showed good hands, can get downfield quickly, and makes things happen after the catch. And it doesn't hurt that he played in the best conference in college football. If he's available New York should scoop him up.