OT Lane Johnson competes in the 2013 Senior Bowl.
Imagine the ideal draft class.
The New York Giants, along with the NFL’s 31 other teams, will be plucking from the top collegiate talent at the end of this month. There will be sinkers and risers on draft day, and general managers around the league will be keeping a close eye on each and every prospect.
This slideshow will construct a hypothetical draft for the Giants, in which the best-case scenario occurs in all seven rounds. Realistically speaking, most of these players may be out of reach by the time the Giants draft, but no player is out of reasonable striking distance.
Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M and Eric Fisher of Central Michigan figure to be the top two offensive tackles taken off the board in this year’s draft. Alabama’s D.J. Fluker is also a rising prospect, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, which means that Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson could be the odd man out.
Many experts project Johnson to be a top-10 pick, but it wouldn’t be unfathomable for him to fall to the Giants at pick No. 19. If he is still hanging around when the Giants pick, he could be an immediate solution for the right tackle position, which is arguably the team’s largest offensive question mark.
Johnson, a 300-pounder, is a remarkable athlete that possesses great pass-blocking ability. He is not as clean-cut of a prospect as Joeckel or Fisher, but he has a ton of upside. Johnson, who has room to improve as a run blocker, would fit the Giants’ zone blocking scheme better than Fluker, too.
If Johnson somehow escapes the first 18 picks of the draft, the Giants should pounce on the Oklahoma Sooner.
Many mock drafts have the Giants selecting Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree in the first round, and other experts even suggest Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o. The Giants, however, should be patient, as there is a chance that a better value linebacker will fall to them in the second round.
It is unanimously believed that the Giants linebackers are in need of an upgrade, and Kansas State’s Arthur Brown is the perfect draft prospect for them to target. An injury has limited Brown’s pre-draft workouts, which may hurt his draft value, but Brown possesses too much sideline-to-sideline athleticism for the Giants to pass up.
Brown is familiar with a base 4-3 defense, primarily playing the middle linebacker position with exceptional ability to both stuff the run and cover the pass. The only knock on Brown is his size (6'0", 241 pounds), as he is a bit undersized for an NFL middle linebacker.
Brown is an otherwise ideal candidate for the Giants in the second round, especially considering his recent pro day, in which he reportedly ran a 4.58 40-yard dash.
It wouldn’t be a true New York Giants draft without an early-round pick on a defensive end. The 2013 draft class is rich with talented pass-rushers including BYU’s Ziggy Ansah, Oregon’s Dion Jordan, LSU’s Barkevious Mingo and Georgia’s Jarvis Jones.
LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery, who was once pinned as a first-rounder, could fall all the way to the third round now that critical concerns about his work ethic have arisen. Even after lackluster combine and pro day showings, Giants general manager Jerry Reese will not be able to pass up a player of Montgomery’s ability in the third round.
Montgomery was a force on the Tigers’ defensive front, causing ruckus in the backfield often. As a redshirt junior in 2012, he collected 37 tackles (13 for a loss) and eight sacks. If the Giants can milk him for that production as a pro, Reese’s pick will pay dividends.
Montgomery would make an interesting addition to a pass rush that is trying to rebound from a down year, especially after the loss of established veteran Osi Umenyiora this offseason.
The Giants can afford to get better at every position on defense, but some particularly interesting defensive back prospects could fall to them in Round 4 or later. Rutgers cornerback Logan Ryan, an underclassman who declared for the draft, is one of them.
Ryan didn’t have an exceptional performance at the NFL combine in March, and he may have benefitted from another year in college. Still, he has the natural ability of a second-round cornerback, and he would be a steal in the fourth round.
Ryan is not considered to be a top-tier corner in this year’s draft, but he is expected to be effective in man coverage at the professional level. In 2012, his junior season, Ryan racked up 94 tackles in addition to 17 pass breakups and four interceptions.
With Corey Webster in a rapid state of regression, the Giants need to quickly develop a young cornerback that can be placed on an island with an opponent’s top receiver. Ryan would also make for a promising insurance plan if 2011 first-rounder Prince Amukamara’s maturation continues to move at a snail’s pace.
Left tackle Will Beatty had a surprisingly solid season in 2012, but the same cannot be said for his partner on the other side of the line. Between veterans Sean Locklear and David Diehl, the Giants struggled to seal off the right side of the line all season. If New York does not land Johnson in the first round, perhaps it could capitalize on the position in the fifth.
It may be wishful thinking to believe that Virginia’s Oday Aboushi will be available in the fifth round, but his draft value is sinking quickly after a poor showing at the NFL combine. Once a sure second-round talent, Aboushi would be a steal if the Giants got their hands on him in either the fourth or fifth round.
Aboushi, a 6'6" gargantuan, earned first-team All-ACC honors for his performance in 2012. He is a very physical lineman that averaged 10-plus knockdown blocks per game, according to NFLDraftScout.com.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Giants take a shot on a young, playmaking wide receiver in the late rounds of the draft, assuming the appropriate talent fell to them. Texas speedster Marquise Goodwin could be the playmaker that the team has on its radar.
Goodwin did not produce astounding statistics in college, but he was one of the most explosive athletes at the NFL combine, where the thoroughbred track athlete recorded a lightning-quick 40-yard dash time of 4.27 seconds.
The 5'9" receiver is not worth an early-round pick for most teams, but Goodwin would be the perfect player to scoop up in the sixth round. He possesses game-changing athleticism, and he could make an immediate impact on special teams as well as stretch the field on offense.
In order for this to be a well-rounded draft, the Giants will need to find some quality interior linemen on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. In the seventh round, the Giants could still nab valuable players at these positions, like Georgia Tech guard Omoregie Uzzi.
Uzzi has solid athleticism for a 300-pounder, and he should fit the Giants’ zone blocking scheme well. He could even be moved to center if the Giants see him as David Baas’ eventual replacement.
*Seventh-Round Compensatory Pick: Baker Steinkuhler, DT/DE, Nebraska
Baker Steinkuhler provides interesting potential as a defensive tackle, but he can also line up at defensive end. He is 6'6", 290 pounds, putting him in ex-Giant Chris Canty’s range as far as size goes. He is very strong against the run but could afford to improve his ability as a pass-rusher.