New York Giants: Scouting Combine Prospects That Fit Big Blue's Needs
Next week is a very important time in the NFL.
On Wednesday, Feb. 20, scouts, coaches and all other NFL executives will head over to Indianapolis for the annual NFL Scouting Combine.
For a lot of college players, the combine is their chance to improve their potential employers by showing off their skills, whether it be something like strength, speed or just raw athletic ability.
For the New York Giants, who disappointed after their Super Bowl year by finishing 9-7 and missing the playoffs, they have a lot of needs for 2013.
And this is where their general manager Jerry Reese's knack for finding talent pays off, as he has done since he took over at the position in 2007.
What players could Reese be looking for when he and his scouts are in Indianapolis next week?
Ezekial Ansah, DL, Brigham Young
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The strength of the Giants' defense has always been their pass rush.
In 2012, the Giants defensive line took a major step back and did not perform up to expectations.
One of that key members, Osi Umenyiora, is a free agent and will likely not be brought back as the Giants look to get younger at the position while also getting under the salary cap.
Ezekial Ansah from Brigham Young would definitely fit one of the needs for the Giants at the defensive line.
But the question is if whether or not Ansah be around by the time the Giants are picking at No. 19.
A lot can happen between now and April, and Ansah should definitely be a name that Reese would want to take a look at in case he drops down in the draft order.
Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
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The Giants absolutely need linebackers for their defense.
Jacquian Williams spent a lot of time on the sidelines with injuries, Michael Boley has been cut and Keith Rivers and Chase Blackburn are free agents.
Even if Blackburn is brought back, the Giants need to get more athletic and better at the position, which is where Brown comes into play.
The last time the Giants drafted at linebacker in the first round was their picks of Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks, so it's been a long time the Giants took a linebacker with their first pick.
Brown would definitely be a pick worth making and could instantly start, especially if the Giants don't bring Blackburn back in 2013.
In Matt Miller's mock draft, he has the Giants selecting Brown, so there's a realistic possibility that the Giants could very well be interested in him.
Lane Johnson, OL, Oklahoma
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I cannot stress enough how important the offensive line is in football.
Without it, the offense will go nowhere.
If you don't believe me, ask David Carr how important a good offensive line is in football, especially since he didn't have one when he was the No. 1 pick in Houston.
In 2012, the Giants offensive line at times looked good, but then at times, it looked old and off beat.
The Giants have three O-line starters as free agents and it's uncertain if they will be brought back or not, which would mean Reese will have no choice but to draft a lineman in the first round.
Lane Johnson from Oklahoma comes to mind as far as lineman who could not only help, but potentially start in his rookie season.
This week, my fellow colleague and Giants writer Kevin Boilard wrote about how Johnson is one of the top names on the Giants draft board for April.
So if the Giants are looking at offensive line this April, they will have to hope that Johnson will potentially fall eight spots in the order come April.
Dallas Thomas, OL, Tennessee
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The last time the Giants went with an offensive lineman in the first round was 1999.
That year, the Giants took tackle Luke Petitgout, who was a starter from 1999 until 2006. In fact, when Jerry Reese took over as the GM, Petitgout was one of the first people Reese cut from the Giants.
With the Giants needing to get younger and stronger on the offensive line, another potential guy that Reese could look at in Indianapolis is Dallas Thomas.
Thomas played multiple positions while at the University of Tennessee, playing both tackle spots and at guard as well, which shows his versatility and ability to adapt.
Kevin Boothe of the Giants is someone who comes to mind that showed this kind of versatility, as he could play both guard spots along with being able to play center.
With the Giants current offensive line situation, if drafted, Thomas could slot into the right tackle spot, which is where both Sean Locklear and David Diehl played in 2012.
Locklear is a free agent recovering from a broken leg and Diehl is a candidate to be cut due to salary.
If James Brewer is not ready to take the starting job, then Thomas may get heavily scouted by the Giants next week.
Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
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Another linebacker that should be on the Giants' radar is Alec Ogletree from Georgia.
As I mentioned earlier, the Giants linebacker unit really struggled in 2012 and the group needs some youth injected into it, which is why Ogletree fits the bill.
The one thing that might hurt Ogletree is the character issue, as he failed a trug test back in 2012 and missed the first four games of the Bulldogs season in 2012.
That could be something Tom Coughlin might shy away from, as he is a coach who loves to build his team with high-character people.
Since he's being projected to be taken right around that time of the first round, it's a possibility that Ogletree could be on the Giants radar.
Ogletree was also one of the featured players in Kevin Boilard's top picks on the Giants draft board, so I definitely expect the Giants to be active in a search for upgrading that position.
Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
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One of the other positions the Giants struggled at in 2012 was at cornerback.
Terrell Thomas was again out for the season due to partially tearing his ACL and Corey Webster had by far the worst season of his professional career.
Plus, Webster is a candidate to be released due to salary cap reasons, which will deplete the secondary even more.
That leaves Prince Amukamara, who is still in development, and Jayron Hosley, who was a rookie last season and is also in his developmental stages.
What could help the Giants would be to add a veteran at the cornerback position, just like they did when they got Sam Madison back in 2007.
But the Giants need to draft, and Johnthan Banks fits what the team needs for depth and talent.
Banks is one of the few cornerbacks who loves to hit and isn't afraid to get physical if needed against the tougher receivers.
Sheldon Richardson, DL, Missouri
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I've been seeing a lot of Sheldon Richardson's name tied to the Giants lately with regards to the draft.
In Kevin Boilard's Giants draft board, Richardson was the final player listed that could be a major steal if he dropped all the way down to No. 19.
Now, if the Steelers decide to pursue another position, like a wide receiver if Mike Wallace leaves, then perhaps Richardson drops down to the Giants.
Richardson can play both defensive end and defensive tackle and either way be a force in the middle.
Miller said that Richardson is one of those players whose motor never stops, and that could be something that Jerry Reese will look for in a player to revamp the defensive line.
Three years ago, the Giants took Jason Pierre-Paul with their first round pick and it worked out for the team after the fans criticized it.
Perhaps a player like Richardson could give the Giants that same type of result.