The 2013 NFL draft is less than a week away, which means that John Mara, Steve Tisch, Jerry Reese and company need to figure out how to build around their current roster for the upcoming 2013 season.
After barely missing the previous postseason, the Giants have decided to go in a different direction. Longtime players such as Ahmad Bradshaw, Osi Umenyiora, Chris Canty and Martellus Bennett are no longer on the team, and the Giants will now have to select a group of draftees who will fill at least some of those spots.
The Giants will have all of their regular 2013 NFL draft picks, which includes the 19th overall selection, plus a compensatory pick after the seventh round. It will be fascinating to see how the draft will unfold for the Giants in a matter of days.
Here is a ranking of the three areas the Giants should focus on the most during the draft.
Martellus Bennett is now on the Bears.
Ever since Jeremy Shockey departed the Giants after the 2007 NFL season, the Giants have struggled to find a long-term solution at tight end. Kevin Boss was the Giants' primary tight end from 2007-2010 before moving onto the Raiders in 2011 and the Chiefs in 2012.
The Giants' 2011 tight end was Jake Ballard, but he was claimed on waivers by the Patriots in the summer of 2012. As a result, the Giants brought in Martellus Bennett for the 2012 season, but Bennett has now moved onto the Bears.
Bear Pascoe is currently the Giants' top tight end, but ideally would be a better second tight end or blocking back for the Giants' offense. In other words, the Giants' offense would likely perform better with an upgrade at tight end.
The Giants could try to draft Tyler Eifert of Notre Dame in the first round, or they could wait until later rounds to select another tight end such as Zach Ertz of Stanford, Travis Kelce of Cincinnati or Vance McDonald of Rice, among others.
Manti Te'o of Notre Dame will certainly be considered by the Giants.
Another position the Giants have not been particularly strong at for a few years is middle linebacker. The Giants have not had a reliable middle linebacker since Antonio Pierce's playing career, which ended after the 2009 season.
Since then, the Giants have had Jonathan Goff and, more recently, Chase Blackburn as their middle linebackers in the last three seasons. The overall performance from the middle linebacker position has not been terrible by any means, but the Giants could certainly do better with a standout middle linebacker behind their already strong defensive line.
The 2013 draft class of inside linebackers is not particularly strong, with Manti Te'o of Notre Dame being the top inside linebacker available. The Giants could choose to select Te'o, but with his off-field controversy still fresh in the minds of many people, he could be a high risk-high reward choice.
If the Giants choose to go in a different direction in the first round, they could wait a few rounds to select Kevin Minter of LSU, Kiko Alonso of Oregon, or A.J. Klein of Iowa State, among others. Regardless, inside linebacker is one area the Giants must try to find an upgrade at. Usually, this would be a top priority for the Giants, but in this particular draft, the Giants have one other need that is even larger.
The Giants will likely give David Wilson more opportunities, but they could use a second and bigger running back to offset Wilson's speed.
With the departure of Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants will need to find another running back to replace Bradshaw's presence. Bradshaw wasn't the biggest running back out there, but he was intense and always played very hard.
The easy answer would be to say that David Wilson could fill Bradshaw's shoes, but with the way NFL offenses have changed, the Giants could use another running back to compliment Wilson's smaller size and faster speed. Today's NFL offenses are almost always designed for at least two running backs to fit into.
The Giants had been doing this for years with Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. But now, the Giants will have to find someone new to play alongside Wilson as they move onto a new chapter in the team's history.
With all this being said, it would be wise for the Giants to draft one of the larger running backs in this year's draft. It does not necessarily have to occur in the first round, but maybe in the third or fourth rounds. Le'Veon Bell of Michigan State, Christine Michael of Texas A&M and Latavius Murray of TCF are three big running backs that could fit the profile of what the Giants need going forward. It would be nice to see the Giants draft one of those players.