The Giants are sitting pretty right now.
With less than a week to go before the 2009 NFL Draft commences, the defending NFC East champs hold three of the first 60 selections, five of the first 100, and 10 slots overall.
Loaded with talent from its youth and veterans alike, the Giants’ main quest over the last month has been an active pursuit of a legitimate replacement for the recently released Plaxico Burress. However, other than wide receiver, there is no clear, gaping hole within the current Giants roster.
Life changes fast in the NFL, so the Giants can’t afford to be content with their current group of guys. David Diehl has been prone to fast pass-rushers, as seen in front of a nationwide audience when the Giants lost to Dallas, 22-8.
Kareem McKenzie has sustained a considerable amount of injuries in the past couple of years, including a lingering back problem. Back problems typically don’t bode well for offensive linemen, and the Giants may be in a search to locate McKenzie’s heir before his skillset vanishes without any backup linemen waiting in the fold.
Therefore, an offensive lineman could get a buzz when the Giants are on the clock.
One rumor that has been mentioned frequently is replacing the Giants old No. 17 with one that boasts the same number in Cleveland. Braylon Edwards’s career has been turbulent and inconsistent, but his numbers in 2007 seemingly have appealed to the Giants, as general manager Jerry Reese has allegedly called the Browns twice inquiring about Edwards.
One option that has been seldom mentioned is the Giants taking a running back on the first day. With a stellar offensive line that has been clearing lanes for a variety of running backs that attained equal success, the Giants have had little need to select a running back in the early rounds.
In fact, their current roster is composed of a fourth-round pick (Brandon Jacobs), a seventh-round pick (Ahmad Bradshaw), and an undrafted free agent (Danny Ware).
Ware was a pleasant surprise this past preseason for the Giants, but he will be thrust into a larger role this year, especially given the likelihood of an injury to Brandon Jacobs. Is he ready to run against the league’s elite? And despite a memorable 2008 postseason, Bradshaw is not a given to sustain the same production Derrick Ward gave the Giants last season.
It is certainly feasible that the Giants would alleviate those potential issues with the selection of a top running back. The Giants offense has been predominantly mediocre when Jacobs has not been able to play, which could prompt the Giants to draft a running back they would be confident in to carry the load for a period of time.
Another position of need for the Giants is linebacker. Despite signing Michael Boley to a lucrative contract this offseason, there still remains the need for speed and depth in their corps.
The last time the Giants selected a linebacker in the first round was in 1984, when they picked up Carl Banks. Based on this trend, it is unlikely they will grab a linebacker in the first, but they likely will draft at least one as the draft progresses.
In what will likely be the most electric draft day weekend since the Eli Manning saga that dominated the 2004 draft, the Giants find themselves at a crossroads of sorts. If they pull the right deals and find a few gems that are dispersed throughout the draft, they could easily be hoisting their second Lombardi in the last three years.