Super Bowl Champs Look to Re-stock in Draft

Michael SamuelSenior Analyst IApril 24, 2008

The Super Bowl XLII champions look at this weekend's draft to stock up on new young talent and make another run at the NFC championship and the Super Bowl. 

Last year the Giants had one of the most successful drafts in recent history. 

Their first round pick was Texas's Aaron Ross, who became a starter and did a nice job in the Super Bowl, covering Randy Moss.

In the second round they picked USC's Steve Smith, who until the playoffs did not show that he could legitimate threat. In the Super Bowl win though, he made a 3rd and 11 catch to move the chains for the final time before Manning found Burress for the game-winning touchdown.

The third round saw them take Penn State's Jay Alford, who sacked Tom Brady on the Patriots' final drive. 

All of their draft picks and free agent rookie Michael Matthews played in every playoff game.

The sixth round saw them take Kevin Boss out of Division-II Western Oregon.

The Giants drafted from traditional football factories such as Texas and USC, but also had great scouting to find players like Boss and fifth round pick Zack DeOssie. 

In the seventh round the Giants found RB Ahmad Bradshaw who quickly became admired by Big Blue nation for his grit and break-away speed. They also found Michael Johnson who started some games at safety due to injuries and contributed on special teams. 

The question for this draft with the 31st overall pick: what is the route to take?

The Giants have very little pressing needs at any position. In the secondary though, Madison and Mcquarters are getting older and recent signee Sammy Knight is a veteran as well. The Giants could go after Miami safety Kenny Phillips, who was an All-American but is not considered to be in the same class as Miami safetys in the past including Ed Reed, Branden Merriweather and the late Sean Taylor. 

Phillips has the measureables and could definitely compete with Knight and with 2007 seventh round pick Michael Johnson. Phillips though may not have the cover skills that are necessary to keep up with the Giants blitz packages. If available at pick 31, Phillips should be the guy, because at this stage in the draft it makes sense to take the best player on the board.

Another possible need that the Giants have is to add depth at the linebacker position. At middle linebacker, Antonio Pierce possesses intagibles like no other mike linebacker in football because of his pre-snap reads and leadership.

The outside linebacker spot though is very open. With last seasons free-agent bargain pick-up Kawika Mitchell headed to Buffalo on a lucrative free agent deal, the Giants could use another play-making linebacker. If Dan Connor is available, he will be the guy for the Giants. Connor played for Penn State, commonly known as "Linebacker U", and broke the school record for most tackles in a career.

The Giants could use a cornerback with their first round pick. At this point, Leodis Mckelvin, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Mike Jenkins will likely be off the board. The Giants would love to see Aqib Talib fall all the way down to 31 but the chances of that are unlikely. 

Arizona's Antoine Cason, though, is a possibility. The 2007 Thorpe Award Winner was used to covering dynamic wide receivers such as Desean Jackson of Cal in the Pac-10. He also covered current the Giants' Smith, Panthers receiver Dwayne Jarrett when the Trojans and Wildcats played. Drafting Cason would give the potential to have three players from the University of Arizona on the defense at the same time (Antonio Pierce, Michael Johnson and Cason). 

Other positions that could be addressed with this pick are defensive tackle and offensive tackle. David Diehl did a great job protecting Manning's blind side last year and Kareem Mckenzie is a solid right tackle, but it would be to their advantage to add some depth in case of an injury.

The defensive tackle position could be addressed if somehow Kantwaan Balmer of North Carolina fell all the way down. This draft has two elite defensive tackle prospects in Glenn Dorsey and Sedrick Ellis, but they should be gone when the Giants are on the clock. Some teams may be hesitant to draft Balmer and try and satisfy another need where there is better talent to choose from.

The positions they will not pick from at least until round four at the earliest are running back or quarterback. Eli Manning, say what you want about him, but he led New York to its first Super Bowl since 1990 and is the first Giants quarterback to throw for 20 touchdowns and 3,000 yards in three consecutive seasons since Phil Simms in 1984-1986.

At running back, they return 1,000 yard rusher Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward, who averaged 4.8 ypc and caught 28 balls out of the backfield. They also have the electrifying Bradshaw who led the Giants in rushing during the playoff run. Reuben Droughns is also on the roster for short yardage and goal line. Droughns was successful last year, scoring six touchdowns and also started a few games when Jacobs was injured and Ward was on IR and Bradshaw was seldomly used.

A position the Giants could address in round two is wide receiver. Plaxico Burress is an absolute playmaker and the go-to guy in the endzone, and Smith is a budding star. After that though you wonder how long can Amani Toomer play? A receiver that could be available during the 2nd round is Mario Manningham who could eventually take Toomer's spot as both are wide receivers from Michigan. 

The Giants historically have done a great job in the draft, in the ESPN rankings of the 50 biggest busts the Giants only had two who were at the bottom of the list but also had numerous players on the Draft "Steal" list. This includes 1976 6th Round pick Harry Carson from South Carolina State who went on to be enshrined in Canton. This has lead to 14 NFL title game appearances and four Super appearances throughout their long storied history.