New York Giants 2014 Mock Draft: Who Is the Ideal Pick in Every Round?
Imagine the ideal draft, where all of the New York Giants' biggest needs are addressed with promising prospects primed to make an immediate impact.
The Giants have several holes to fill after a 7-9 season, and general manager Jerry Reese is the man in charge of making them disappear. Through strong drafting, Reese can field a much more competitive squad in 2014.
This slideshow will highlight an ideal selection for each round, based on the talent New York currently lacks and the players expected to be available.
*The Giants do not currently have a seventh-round selection due to the midseason trade with the Carolina Panthers for linebacker Jon Beason. They could, however, be awarded compensatory picks in the spring.
Round 1: OL Greg Robinson, Auburn
The Giants' first order of business this offseason should be to rebuild the offensive line. Quarterback Eli Manning was constantly under duress in 2013, but that could change quickly if the team chooses Auburn offensive lineman Greg Robinson.
Robinson (6'5", 320 lbs) just completed only his redshirt-sophomore season, but few are doubting if the 21-year-old is NFL-ready. He has the frame to excel at the next level, and his road-grader approach to the game is well-suited for any team trying to bolster its rushing attack.
While at Auburn, Robinson had few opportunities to showcase his effectiveness as a pass-protector. However, Bleacher Report's top draft analyst Matt Miller believes Robinson "has the athleticism to protect the edge in today's NFL." Regardless, Rob Rang of CBSSports.com describes Robinson as a "grizzly bear in the running game."
Robinson may not be able to step in and start immediately at left tackle—the position he played last season with the Tigers—but the Giants could shuffle things around to accommodate the 320-pounder. Last year's first-round pick, Justin Pugh, is flexible enough to play anywhere on the offensive line, and unless Kevin Boothe is re-signed, the starting interior positions are wide open.
Round 2: LB Shayne Skov, Stanford
The Giants have lacked elite talent at the linebacker position for quite some time. The in-season acquisition of Beason kept the team afloat through 2013, but it's time for New York to draft a premier linebacker.
Stanford's Shayne Skov (6'3", 245 lbs) could be that player for New York. The Cardinal defense, which allowed only 19 points per game, was anchored by Skov at linebacker. Many believe he can have a similar impact at the NFL level.
The Giants are in need of a transformation, and Bucky Brooks of NFL.com credits Skov with bringing "the passion and intensity that has keyed Stanford's transformation from Pac-12 lightweight to BCS contender over the past few seasons." Bleacher Report's draft analyst Matt Miller compares Skov to Dallas Cowboys star linebacker Sean Lee in the video above.
Skov, a relentless run defender, would fit in nicely at strong-side linebacker in New York's defense. He would line up alongside Beason—if he is retained through 2014—forming a tantalizing tackling tandem.
Round 3: C Travis Swanson, Arkansas
The Giants' biggest offseason need is at center, although, as Connor Orr of The Star-Ledger points out, cutting David Baas does not make sound financial sense. Still, neither Baas nor his restricted free-agent backup Jim Cordle appear to be the team's center of the future.
That's where Arkansas' Travis Swanson (6'5", 315 lbs) comes into the picture. Ranked by many as the top center in this year's draft, Swanson could actually be there for the picking as late as the third round. If that ends up being the case, New York will happily scoop him up.
The Giants offensive line was decimated with injuries in 2013, so an ironman like Swanson is just what the team needs. With the Razorbacks, Swanson started all 50 games of his collegiate career. That sort of stability will be valuable at the next level.
Round 4: WR Brandon Coleman, Rutgers
If Hakeem Nicks walks in free agency, the Giants could be looking for a replacement playmaker at wide receiver. If they wait until the fourth round of the upcoming draft to do so, Rutgers' Brandon Coleman wouldn't be a terrible option.
Coleman (6'6", 220 lbs) would provide a massive target for quarterback Eli Manning. Unlike Nicks in 2013, Coleman is a solid threat to score, catching 20 touchdowns in three seasons with the Scarlett Knights. He could be a valuable weapon in the red zone.
In his first season directing New York's offensive personnel, recently hired offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo might like a shiny, new toy in his arsenal. Coleman, who is forgoing his final year of NCAA eligibility to turn pro, could serve that purpose.
Round 5: OL Ja'Wuan James, Tennessee
Before Kevin Boothe became a consistent starter, he was an incredibly versatile reserve. Since Boothe has held down a starting job, however, the Giants have missed that valuable backup, especially in 2013 when the line was torn apart by injuries.
Drafting Ja'Wuan James (6'6", 318 lbs) in the fifth round could fill that void. James was a second-team All-SEC honoree and a standout right tackle with the Volunteers, starting all 49 games of his collegiate career. He could bring some much-needed stability to New York, even if he isn't a starter.
The Giants need to rebuild the offensive line at all positions, and James is the exact player the team needs to facilitate that transition. He is sure to push several veterans for training camp snaps and, ideally, a roster spot.
Round 6: DE James Gayle, Virginia Tech
You didn't think the Giants would escape the 2014 NFL draft without selecting at least one pass-rusher, did you?
If the Giants wait until the sixth round to draft a pass-rusher, Virginia Tech defensive end James Gayle would be the ideal player to pick. Gayle (6'4", 255 lbs) is a late-rising prospect, as described by Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, who "has a first-round grade on at least one team's board." Rant Sports recently highlighted him as a "severely underrated" prospect.
If Gayle flies under the radar long enough for the Giants to select him in the sixth round, he could be the biggest steal of the draft. As the Giants undergo a minor changing of the guard in the pass-rushing rotation, Gayle could flourish alongside Damontre Moore for years to come.