For the New York Giants, the focus of the 2014 NFL draft has to be on the trenches. Things went wrong in 2013 because New York's offensive line allowed too much pressure and the defensive line didn't get enough of it.
Now, with Linval Joseph and Justin Tuck slated to become unrestricted free agents on the defensive side of the ball and the O-line still in flux, the Giants will certainly get the draft ball rolling by taking a close look at the big guys at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Here's a breakdown.
Where they pick
Round 1: 12
Round 2: 11
Round 3: 10
Round 4: 13
Round 5: 12
Round 7: 11
What they need
An offensive tackle: Someone to replace Will Beatty at left tackle or at least push Beatty before settling for a right tackle role, sending Justin Pugh inside.
A guard: This becomes less necessary if Pugh moves inside and they re-sign Kevin Boothe and/or keep Chris Snee, but it's possible they'll need a starter here when May arrives.
A center to replace David Baas: Baas is old, injury-prone and generally unreliable. Time to do what the Cowboys did last year and draft a long-term answer in the middle.
A defensive end to replace Justin Tuck: The veteran will probably demand too much money on the open market. Damontre Moore is there, but this team knows you can never have too many good pass-rushers.
A defensive tackle: Whether they're replacing Joseph or just giving him some support. Cullen Jenkins is 33 years old, and Johnathan Hankins is far from a guarantee.
A linebacker or two: Even if they bring Jon Beason back, they have to use some mid- and late-round picks on guys who can create more competition at each linebacker position. It's been a weak spot for far too long.
A tight end to replace Brandon Myers: Yes, another starting tight end. Someone in the middle rounds who can compete with Adrien Robinson, unless they sign somebody in free agency (a distinct possibility).
David Yankey (G, Stanford): Stock is rising but could be a bit of a reach early, especially when his strength is as a run blocker. He has a lot to prove in Indy.
Gabe Jackson (G, Mississippi State): Second-round possibility who can pass protect.
Cyril Richardson (G, Baylor): Third-round possibility who can do the same but has a lot to prove.
Kony Ealy (DE, Missouri): Who knows if he'll still be available at 12, but imagine the combination of Ealy and Jason Pierre-Paul down the road.
Trent Murphy (DE, Stanford): He was a sack machine at Stanford. We'll see if he drops into Round 2.
Jackson Jeffcoat (DE, Texas): Finished his career at Texas on a high note, loading up the sacks and pressures.
Kareem Martin (DE, North Carolina): Had 11.5 sacks during his senior year in the ACC. Has the ability to step in right away.
Dee Ford (DE, Auburn): Comes with plenty of SEC experience, but he may have a lower ceiling. Further investigation is required in Indy.
Khalil Mack (OLB, Buffalo): I could see this kid becoming a Von Miller-type presence within a 4-3 defense, but it's unlikely he slides to the 12 spot.
C.J. Mosley (LB, Alabama): A potential top-10 pick who can really do it all. He'd be a great fit next to Beason or even in place of him.
Taylor Lewan (OT, Michigan): He can be a little sloppy and inconsistent, and there are some potential character concerns. This will be a big week for him in many ways.
Zack Martin (OT, Notre Dame): May be more of a project at guard, but Tom Coughlin has patience.
Morgan Moses (OT, Virginia): Looks like he can run and pass block well enough to start at tackle, and he could be available in Round 2.
Timmy Jernigan (DT, Florida State): He can defend the run while creating interior pressure, just like Joseph.
Ra'Shede Hageman (DT, Minnesota): Freakish athlete who can get after the quarterback but may need a little time.
Louis Nix (DT, Notre Dame): First-round talent who could work well alongside Joseph.
Aaron Donald (DT, Pittsburgh): Quite the motor and an ideal fit. His draft stock is rising, so he could be perfect for the 12 spot.
Will Sutton (DT, Arizona State): They might be able to grab the explosive, versatile Sutton in Round 2.
Travis Swanson (C, Arkansas): Second-rounder who could start at center as a rookie.
Don't forget about...
Marcus Martin (C, USC): Big, tough center who can probably be had in the middle rounds.
Bryan Stork (C, Florida State): Plenty of experience at a high level. He's ready and can probably be found later in the draft.
Tyler Larsen (C, Utah State): Same deal.
Brandon Thomas (G, Clemson): A strong pass protector who will likely have to move inside at the NFL level and should be available in Round 4, maybe even Round 5.
Kadeem Edwards (G, Tennessee State): Late-round guard with long arms who could help protect Eli Manning.
Lamin Barrow (LB, LSU): Don't be surprised if the sick athlete puts on a show.
Arthur Lynch (TE, George): Man, could Eli ever use a stud blocker like this guy.
C.J. Fiedorowicz (TE, Iowa): Could be flying under the radar. A Coughlin-type guy for sure.
They'll have to wait to see...
Devekeyan Lattimore (LB, South Florida): He's strong in coverage and can blitz. Should be worth a sixth-round pick, but he won't be in Indianapolis.
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