New York Giants fans: Can you feel it in the air? Can you feel it?
Today is your Christmas.
80 days (but who's counting?) have elapsed since the Baltimore Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII, and starting tonight, the Giants will look to add the prospects that will best help them win their fifth Lombardi Trophy.
Everything you've heard about the volatility of this first round is true. In my near decade covering the league, I've never come across so many conflicting opinions on the prospects themselves and where they might end up. The fact of the matter is, no one really knows what's going to happen, and that's what makes this particular draft so incredibly exciting.
I've been whispered many things about the New York Giants, and where they might go with the 19th overall pick. I'll share all of these thoughts, and then my own, before I get to my 7-round mock itself.
First, the team desperately wants to improve on the offensive line.
The rumors regarding the team's interest in Alabama tackle D.J. Fluker are legitimate. Problem is, I don't expect Fluker to be on the board. I'd be stunned if he made it to 19. I think it's more likely he goes in the top 15.
I know the Giants love Alabama guard Chance Warmack as well, but he's got no chance of being there at 19. Cross him off the list.
With Fluker and Warmack off the board, Florida State tackle Menelik Watson has been bandied about as a potential pick. I don't see it. The Giants are set at left tackle with Will Beatty, and James Brewer is the heir apparent to David Diehl at right tackle. I'm not sure Watson merits the 19th overall selection. Again, it could happen, but it's my job to provide you with the information, and in my opinion, they'll look elsewhere.
If Fluker and Warmack are off the board (and I believe they will be), I expect Big Blue to target another position. The question now becomes: Which one?
Believe it or not, but the interest in Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert? It's real. Eifert would be a tremendous weapon for the Giants' passing attack, and would form a devastating one-two punch along with fellow tight end Brandon Myers, signed by the Giants this free-agent period. But, the Giants love Adrien Robinson (selected in the fourth round a year ago), and, like Vaccaro, Eifert would represent a luxury pick.
Given the Giants' 31st-ranked defense a year ago, luxury picks on offense probably aren't the team's best bet.
Speaking of defense: The Kenny Vaccaro train is picking up steam, as I've heard the Giants would be interested in the safety from the University of Texas. But with Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown entrenched as starters at the position, I doubt general manager Jerry Reese would pull the trigger on a safety in round one.
When it comes to cornerback, the team will likely be staring at a few viable options (Desmond Trufant, D.J. Hayden, Jamar Taylor, etc.). While I think they'll look elsewhere, I acknowledge the possibility they go corner.
Giants fans have been clamoring for Reese to select a linebacker in the first round for years, but when you look at his history, he's only selected one linebacker in either rounds one or two, Clint Sintim in 2009, and look how that turned out. Even with the team's deficiencies at the position, linebacker isn't as important a position to the Giants as other teams. Why?
When it comes to Big Blue in the Eli Manning/Tom Coughlin era, the team wins with a simple formula: Quarterback and pass rush. The Giants already have their franchise quarterback in Manning, the proud owner of two Super Bowl MVPs.
That means that the pass rush is the next important facet of the team. And in 2012, the Giants pass rush was lackluster, as the team only accrued 33 sacks, their lowest total since 2009 (32). The common denominator there? Both iterations of Big Blue missed the postseason.
With Osi Umenyiora and his six sacks now in Atlanta, and Justin Tuck (4 sacks) and Jason Pierre-Paul (6.5 sacks) coming off down years, it's critical that the Giants address their pass rush. When you can get after the opposing quarterback, it lessens the need for elite players in the back seven.
So, with all of that said, here is my 2013, seven-round mock draft for the New York Giants.