The Giants are scheduled to make eight selections in the 2013 NFL draft, and I'll have you covered every step of the way with live analysis and grades of each pick, as Big Blue looks to get set for a run at their fifth Super Bowl championship.
When it comes to their first overall selection (No. 19), will the Giants look to improve an already potent offense? Or will they seek to fortify the league's 31st-ranked defense?
Here are my grades and analysis for each of the Giants' selections in the 2013 NFL draft:
When the San Francisco 49ers selected Eric Reid with the 18th overall pick, I thought for sure that the Giants were going to select Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert.
As it turns out, the pre-draft scuttlebutt was true: By hell or high water, the Giants were going to upgrade their offensive line in the first round, and they did so by selecting Syracuse offensive lineman Justin Pugh.
Pugh (6'4", 305) is a versatile lineman who can play inside or outside. He protected Ryan Nassib's blind side at Syracuse in superb fashion. He's a tough finisher who certainly benefited from being coached by Doug Marrone, a former offensive lineman.
The one knock on Pugh? His short arms. That particular deficiency generally means a left tackle must shift, either to right tackle or inside at guard or center. With Will Beatty entrenched as the Giants starter at left tackle protecting Eli Manning's blind side, Big Blue has the luxury of playing Pugh where they need to.
I'd expect to see Pugh get reps at right tackle, where he could provide an immediate improvement over incumbent starter David Diehl.
It's also important to look at the Giants offensive line as currently constituted. Guard Kevin Boothe is on a one-year deal, and the Big Blue futures of guard Chris Snee and center David Baas are murky. Pugh could be the long-term solution in the interior of the Giants line, as the team is high on James Brewer, once thought to be the heir apparent at right tackle.
Does this pick give the Giants versatility along the offensive line? Yes, it does. And Giants fans should like that.
But, I can't help feeling that they settled for Pugh, after losing out on the more elite offensive line prospects earlier in the draft. That's what stops this grade from being higher.
Despite Kansas State ILB Arthur Brown, Texas A&M DE Damontre Moore and Boise State CB Jamar Taylor being on the board, among others, the Giants selected a defensive tackle, Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins, with their second round pick, marking the third time in four drafts that the Giants have selected a DT in round two (Marvin Austin, Linval Joseph).
For a man of his size (6'3" 320), Hankins can really move from sideline-to-sideline, and, when you couple that fact with his ability to take on the double-team, he could be a terrific asset for the Big Blue front four.
While the Giants already have quite the rotation at defensive tackle (Joseph, Austin, Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins among others), I expect Hankins to play early and often, and take some of the pressure off the Big Blue pass rushers.
The negative on Hankins? Despite his selection on the All-B1G team last season, he had a better campaign in 2011 (11 tackles for loss, three sacks). He certainly wasn't bad in 2012 (4 tackles for loss, one sack), but more was expected of him.
The question for the Giants must be: Can they get the most out of Hankins? If so, he has a chance to be something truly special in the heart of the Giants defensive line.
This pick definitely has boom-or-bust potential, and when you consider other players on the board at positions of need, it seems like a risky one for the Giants. But, Big Blue needed to improve their pass rush, and Hankins can allow them to do it.
I don't love the selection of Hankins, but I do like it.
Since before the draft began, I've been harping on the Giants need to address their pass rush. The successful pass rush, along with quarterback Eli Manning, is the reason that Big Blue won Super Bowl championships in 2007 and 2011.
Last season, the pass rush didn't get the job done. The Giants only recorded 33 sacks, their lowest total since 2009, and that greatly contributed to Big Blue missing the postseason.
The Giants two primary pass rushers, Jason Pierre-Paul (6.5 sacks) and Justin Tuck (four sacks), both had down seasons. Osi Umenyiora and his six sacks are gone, as he signed with the Atlanta Falcons. General manager Jerry Reese simply had to fortify the team's pass rush if he wanted the Giants to contend for the NFC East title in 2013.
After selecting versatile offensive lineman Justin Pugh in Round 1 and space-eating defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins in Round 2, Reese finally selected a pass rusher in Round 3, tabbing Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore with the 81st overall selection.
I love this pick.
Moore (6'4", 250) is a sack artist, plain and simple, accruing 26.5 sacks in his three years at College Station, including 12.5 in 2012.
He has very good burst coming off the line, and is a terrific athlete with a non-stop motor.
Moore was once touted as a top selection in the draft, but a decline in the second half of A&M's season, coupled with a disastrous performance at the Combine (4.95 40-yard dash, only 12 bench press reps at 225 pounds) contributed to his precipitous drop to pick No. 81.
Regardless of those numbers, Moore has proven that he can get to the quarterback. While it'll be up to the Giants coaching staff, specifically defensive line coach Robert Nunn, to get the most out of him, the talent is there. Moore must develop a secondary move, as his natural ability won't be enough to beat the better offensive tackles in the NFL.
This was a risk definitely worth taking by the Giants. Moore will join Pierre-Paul, Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka to constitute a formidable pass rushing foursome.
It's a home run selection by the Giants at this point in the draft.
The Giants pulled off a true stunner near the top of the fourth round, dealing their Round 4 (No. 116) and Round 6 (No. 187) selections to the Arizona Cardinals for pick No. 110, and used that pick on Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib.
Before Nassib, the Giants hadn't drafted a quarterback since 2009 (Rhett Bomar in Round 5)
Nassib was widely speculated to go in either the first or second round of the draft, so this is a fantastic value pick for general manager Jerry Reese and the Giants.
Before I talk about Nassib as a prospect, let's talk about his future as a Giant. If I had to bet, I'd say he never starts a game for Big Blue.
The Giants are obviously set at quarterback, with two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning entrenched at the position. Since his insertion into the starting lineup in 2004, Manning has never missed a start.
But, Manning (32) won't play forever. From that aspect, it makes sense for the Giants to begin to develop a long-term successor to Manning. But, I believe Manning has a good five-to-seven years left in him, and it's highly doubtful that the Giants will hold onto Nassib for that long.
The more likely scenario for Nassib? The Giants develop him for a few seasons, and flip him to a quarterback-needy team in a few years for a higher pick (or picks) than the one they used on him. I very much subscribe to that school of thought, that you should always be looking at quarterbacks to develop and potentially trade.
Now, let's evaluate Nassib as a quarterback.
Nassib (6'2", 225) has good accuracy, an NFL-caliber arm and makes quality decisions with the football. He's an intelligent guy and is super tough, standing strong in the pocket.
But, all those attributes? They'll likely never come into play for the Giants. Frankly, if Nassib has to ever start a number of games for the Giants, it'll be a disaster, because it will mean Manning is injured.
Again, my take on the Nassib pick: they drafted him to develop him, and then trade him.
He was a tremendous value selection at No. 110. I know the Giants have holes at other positions to fill, but this was a smart decision.
Kudos to Reese and the Giants brain trust for this pick.
With their Round 5 selection (No. 152), the Giants finally addressed their need in the secondary by drafting Richmond safety Cooper Taylor.
Taylor (6'4", 230) is a massive safety who started his career at Georgia Tech. Unfortunately for Taylor, his football career was nearly derailed before it truly began, as he was forced to miss the majority of the 2009 season due to Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, which required surgery to fix the abnormal electric pathways in his heart.
He also has NFL bloodlines, as his father, Jim Bob Taylor, was drafted as a quarterback by the Baltimore Colts in 1983.
After missing most of the 2010 season as well, Taylor transferred to Richmond, where he starred for the Spiders in 2011 and 2012.
Because of his size and speed combination, it's very possible that the Giants could give him looks at linebacker in addition to safety.
Taylor had a pre-draft visit with the Giants, where they likely checked on his heart condition.
While Taylor comes from a smaller school in Richmond, he proved in his time at Georgia Tech that he could hang in one of college football's power conferences (the ACC).
Because of his potential and his versatility, I think this is a solid pick for the Giants in Round 5.
The Giants fortified their offensive line with the selection of Syracuse OL Justin Pugh in Round 1 (No. 19), and didn't return to the position until Round 7, when they selected Ohio OG Eric Herman with pick No. 225.
Herman (6'4", 320) is an absolute road grader in the run game and plays with a mean, nasty streak. He's incredibly strong, having bench-pressed 225 pounds 36 times at the Scouting Combine.
The interior of the Giants offensive line is in flux. LG Kevin Boothe is on a one-year deal, and the futures for RG Chris Snee and C David Baas are murky. Big Blue needed depth at the position, and Herman provides that.
I don't expect Herman to be a great player for the Giants, but he did provide the offensive line with depth, which was sorely needed.
Still, I would rather the Giants have selected Florida OG James Wilson, who comes from the battle-tested SEC.
With their final pick in the 2013 NFL draft, the Giants selected running back Michael Cox from the University of Massachusetts.
Cox (6'3", 215) is a big, bruising back who ran for 715 yards and scored two touchdowns in 2012. He started his collegiate career at Michigan before transferring to UMass.
He joins a Giants backfield that includes David Wilson, Andre Brown, Da'Rel Scott and Ryan Torain.
I had hoped for the Giants to draft a running back earlier in the draft, but general manager Jerry Reese decided to wait until later.
Honestly, I'm sort of bummed for Cox. He went the pick before Mr. Irrelevant, which would have guaranteed him a week's vacation and parade in his honor, and also missed out on free agency by two picks.
But, he's now a New York Giant. Godspeed, Michael Cox.
I can't see Cox seeing the field for Big Blue, but they needed to draft a running back, so I can't pan the pick too much.