After months of speculation, the NFL Draft is only days away. The speculation surrounding how the New York Giants will address the wide receiver position has been full-fledged, and even ridiculous at times.
The Giants are looking to invest $10 million per season in franchise quarterback Eli Manning, and they also have drafted a number of receivers in the past few seasons. Great teams are built upon a suffocating defense and a power running game.
At this junction in their franchise history, it would be wise for the New York Giants to continue to build upon those aspects of their team, rather than send a boatload of draft picks to another team for a receiver.
That said, I currently believe that a deal for Braylon Edwards is done.
Don’t panic—it's not the same “done” you're thinking of.
I am under the impression that there are multiple deals on the table that send Edwards to the Giants based on what Cleveland does with the fifth overall pick.
If Cleveland can’t acquire Michael Crabtree, they will need the 29th selection to acquire either Kenny Britt or Hakeem Nicks (who they coincidentally brought in for visits recently).
If they get Crabtree, Cleveland will accept another deal worth approximately the same as the other, which allows New York to keep their first round selection.
Allow me to clarify; either New York will ship a first, fifth, and a conditional draft pick to Cleveland (if they don’t acquire Crabtree) or a second, a third, and a conditional selection (should Cleveland acquire Crabtree).
In either of these scenarios, Jerry Reese will once again prove how savvy of a general manager he is, as he will have acquired a blossoming No. 1 receiver in this league for his franchise quarterback to lean on, but he will have done it at a very reasonable price.
With Braylon Edwards in the fray, New York’s 2009 season finally begins to come into focus.
In 2008, New York’s trademark was a powerful running game, which accounted for over 2,300 yards of total offense. That said, New York’s passing game was an essential cog to their well-oiled offense.
Eli Manning was one of the league’s best field generals, distributing the ball to a myriad of receivers while throwing only 10 interceptions.
After the devastating loss of Plaxico Burress, Eli’s confidence looked utterly deflated, and the running game was also stymied due to the extra defenders that opponents brought down to defend Brandon Jacobs. It began to seem like the Giants’ entire offense was predicated on the presence of Burress.
Hands off the panic button, New York fans, as Braylon Edwards—along with Steve Smith and Mario Manningham—will make any defense that stacks the line of scrimmage pay for their strategic blunder.
In Edwards, Eli has a reliable and potentially explosive receiver from any point on the field. He can also demand double coverage at times, yielding spectacular results in the running game.
As for the other perks of the deal, New York can use their first round selection to assess other issues on their team. Let’s examine some of the possibilities for New York in the first round which can truly propel them to the next level.
Michael Oher, LT, Ole Miss or Eben Britton, LT, Arizona
In Oher and Britton, the Giants can obtain a blue-chip left tackle who can protect Eli Manning’s blind side more consistently than David Diehl.
In the meantime, Diehl can move back to left guard, where is a bulldozer-type player. By inserting Oher into the lineup, New York can gain better run blocking and pass blocking, as well as depth on the line, as current left guard Rich Seubert can become a stud depth player.
In my opinion, offensive line depth is one of New York’s biggest roster issues right now. Britton or Oher would be a great selection in round one, as they would not only be prospective Pro Bowlers, but also address three separate needs.
Clay Matthews, OLB, USC
Matthews walked on at USC and was considered too small to ever play at the collegiate level. But in his senior year, Matthews started 10 games while recording 56 tackles and 4.5 sacks.
Head coach Pete Carroll stated that had he started Matthews sooner, USC would have won a National Championship. At this point, Matthews is one of the biggest feel-good stories in the 2009 Draft.
His father Clay Sr. was an All-American at USC and played in the NFL from 1978-1996. His uncle Bruce played for the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans for 19 seasons, earning a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
As I mentioned, Clay Jr. was only a 200-pound scrawny walk-on his freshman year, yet he would become a key cog in whether USC would bid for a National Championship by his senior year. He worked his way up by playing outstanding special teams, earning USC’s Special Teams Player of the Year honor three times in his career.
Needless to say, Clay had his work cut out for him in order to make it to where he is now, and his best days are still in front of him.
Heading into several drafts, the Giants have had a need at linebacker, and with some creative usage of their picks, they could land Matthews. Matthews would be the perfect fit for the Giants on the strong side.
Matthews may not last until Big Blue’s first second-round pick, but there are plenty of ways to grab him, even a possible first round selection.
With Matthews' pedigree, work ethic, versatility, and ability to rush the passer, he is surely someone the Giants would love to grab to fill their sole position of need on defense. Look for New York to strongly consider Brian Cushing as well should he be on the board.
Max Unger, C, Oregon
Following the same philosophy as the tackles, Unger can play any position on the interior part of the line, providing the Giants with a much-needed security blanket.
New York could also trade down, targeting such players as Patrick Chung (best safety in this draft by far), Larry English, Clint Sintim, or Connor Barwin.
With all of these possibilities lined up, New York is primed to bring home the Lombardi Trophy yet again.
Beyond the first round, here are a number of names that New York will surely be looking at.
Marcus Freeman, LB, Ohio State
Glen Coffee, RB, Alabama
Joe Burnett, CB/KR, Central Florida (He took two kicks back in 2008. If New York brought a dangerous kick return game to the table, look out.)
A.Q. Shipley, C, Penn State
Trevor Canfield, G, Cincinnati
Jasper Brinkley, LB, South Carolina
Tyrone McKenzie, LB, South Florida
Cornelius Ingram, TE, Florida
Mohammed Massaquoi, WR, Georgia
Ramses Barden, WR, Cal Poly
Of all of the pieces I have done on the Giants' draft, this is the most comprehensive and contains the names I fully believe will be associated with the Giants in the near future.