7 NFL Draft Prospects New York Giants Can't Afford to Pass Up

Tamer Chamma@TamerC_BRContributor IIMarch 26, 2014

7 NFL Draft Prospects New York Giants Can't Afford to Pass Up

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    Jerry Reese still must strengthen several key areas of the Giants roster, even after a strong free-agency period.
    Jerry Reese still must strengthen several key areas of the Giants roster, even after a strong free-agency period.Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

    The New York Giants will likely have fallback options for each of their seven picks in May’s NFL draft. Getting the players they want, though, without having to settle is obviously ideal.

    Despite a strong showing in free agency, Big Blue still has several areas to bolster in the draft—most notably, tight end and the defensive and offensive lines. The following slides will discuss players that the Giants must select, if available, when they are on the clock.

    A little housecleaning is necessary before we get started. The players will be listed in ascending order by the round they should be targeted. Therefore, later picks will be discussed first.

    Also, if two players fall in the same round, the player whom the Giants should target first will be listed second. For example, if two players are both first-round picks, the second player listed is more desired.

    Finally, all round projections are courtesy of CBSSports.com.

    Now that the house is looking nice and smelling fresh, let’s get started.

5th Round: Bryan Stork, C, Florida State

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    Bryan Stork would be a late-round steal for Big Blue.
    Bryan Stork would be a late-round steal for Big Blue.Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    The only center on the Giants roster is newcomer J.D. Walton, who hasn’t seen NFL action since early in the 2012 season. Therefore, drafting someone who can potentially start for Big Blue at this position in Year 1, if Walton proves unreliable, is strongly recommended.

    Bryan Stork is an excellent choice and could make it all the way to Giants in the fifth round. CBSSports.com currently has him at the 140th pick, and New York’s pick that round is 152nd overall.

    The former Seminole is an aggressive player who should be an above-average run-blocker in the NFL. His pass blocking is sound as well, making him a safe bet to at least be a starting-caliber center.

    While the 23-year-old is not as good as the top center prospect in this draft, Marcus Martin, he is comparable to Weston Richburg and Travis Swanson. Both of these players, however, will likely be off the board before the end of the third round.

    Stork provides great value, and the Giants should not hesitate snatching him up if he makes it to the fifth round.

4th Round: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa

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    If New York doesn’t draft a tight end, it will likely go into the 2014 season with either Adrien Robinson or Larry Donnell as the starter.

    The former has three offensive snaps in two seasons in the league. The latter easily beat him with 107 snaps in his lone season last year (Donnell was on the Giants practice squad in 2012) but only had three catches and a minus-4.0 Pro Football Focus run-blocking rating (subscription required).

    Simply put, given what’s in the cupboard, tight end should be at the top of New York’s shopping list.

    C.J. Fiedorowicz will probably be the Giants' last chance to get a tight end that possesses the skill set to be an effective NFL starter instantly and for years to come. Like Stork, he is projected to be in between picks for Big Blue, falling eight spots ahead of New York’s fourth-round pick at 105th overall.

    He is big at 6’5” and 255 pounds. On stature alone, he would provide Eli Manning with a great third-down and red-zone target. The 22-year-old, though, also possesses dependable hands and a knack for making catches in traffic. He would become a great security blanket for the two-time Super Bowl MVP.

    In addition to his pass-catching ability, the former Hawkeye is a tenacious, willing blocker. Given this versatility, the Giants should feel comfortable using him in all offensive situations.

    One knock on Fiedorowicz is that his college statistics are underwhelming. He never cracked 450 yards receiving at Iowa and only had one season where he eclipsed three touchdowns. However, as Joel Welser of College Sports Madness explains, the Hawkeyes didn’t exactly have great quarterback play in Fiedorowicz’s junior and senior seasons.

3rd Round: Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State

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    As I detailed last week, the Giants' defensive line depth is suddenly lacking after the free-agency departures of Justin Tuck and Linval Joseph.

    Demarcus Lawrence will give them an edge pass-rusher who can contribute right away on obvious passing downs and potentially evolve into an every-down defensive end.

    It is rare to find a player with an elite trait who should be available in the third round. Lawrence possesses top-shelf speed for defensive end. It is evident when watching his game film, and the stopwatch proves it as well.

    Chadd Cripe of the Idaho Statesman reports that Lawrence ran the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds at the Boise State pro day on March 17. This would have placed fifth among defensive linemen at the combine, where he ran it in 4.80 seconds.

    He has a strong motor and a sophisticated arsenal of pass-rushing moves to go along with his speed. Therefore, it is no surprise that he accumulated 20 sacks in only two seasons at Boise State (he started his college career at Butler Community College).

    He is undersized for defensive end at 6’3”, 251 pounds. He also struggles sealing the edge on running plays off-tackle—by either overrunning the play or not being able to shake an offensive lineman’s block.

    Another player with a similar stature and skill set to Lawrence was chosen by Big Blue in the second round of the 2003 draft. He accumulated 75 sacks for the team over nine seasons and helped them win two Super Bowls.

    That player was Osi Umenyiora, and while Lawrence may not end up having as distinguished a career, the fact the Giants can get a similarly talented player makes him a must-grab in the third round. That is, of course, if New York hasn’t already addressed this position with their first two picks.

2nd Round: Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina

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    Why not replace Justin Tuck with a player that CBSSports.com thinks is comparable to the former Giants defensive captain?

    It is hard to find a weakness on Kareem Martin’s resume, which makes him an excellent second-round selection for New York. The 22-year-old can rush the quarterback (11.5 sacks in his senior season at North Carolina), stop the run and even effectively sniff out screen passes. Like Tuck, he also has a reputation as a high-character individual with strong leadership qualities.

    Martin only helped his cause at the combine with a well-rounded performance, proving that he has all the physical traits to be a successful NFL defensive end.

    As a Giant, he would instantly be a threat to start, especially if Mathias Kiwanuka’s decline continues and Damontre Moore doesn’t show improvement after a quiet rookie season.  

    Martin is a no-brainer selection if he is available when the Giants are on the clock in the second round. However, the next player would also have to be off the board as well.

2nd Round: Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State

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    Guard was the Giants' weakest position entering the offseason. The signings of Geoff Schwartz and John Jerry in free agency stabilized things, but questions still remain.

    Jerry is only inked to a one-year deal and brings the baggage of the Miami Dolphins' bullying scandal to New York. He is also an average player, at best, with PFF ratings between minus-2.7 and minus-5.0 in his four-year NFL career.

    Schwartz has higher upside, with an 18.3 PFF rating in only 636 snaps last season. The team is also more committed to him, considering it inked him to a four-year deal, with nearly $5 million guaranteed.

    The 27-year-old, though, only has 26 career starts in five seasons, with 16 coming in 2010 as a member of the Carolina Panthers. This is also his fourth team.

    When you add 32-year-old Chris Snee to the mix, it is easy to see why using a high draft pick at this position makes sense for Big Blue.

    Earlier this month, I detailed all of the reasons why Gabe Jackson should be New York’s second-round selection. It continues to look likely that he will be available at No. 43, as CBSSports.com presently has him tabbed at 50th overall.

    The 22-year-old has the talent to not only be a starter in the NFL but a perennial Pro Bowler. The only issue with a potential Big Blue future is that he is a left guard by trade and Schwartz will fill that position in 2014.

    Schwartz, though, has primarily played right guard in the NFL, so he can easily switch sides if and when Snee either leaves the Giants or moves into a reserve role.

1st Round: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

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    Drafting Aaron Donald in the first round would make Giants fans quickly forget the loss of Joseph.

    The presence of Johnathan Hankins helps, as the second-year man demonstrated enough in his rookie season to make one think that he can be a comparable run-stuffer to Joseph. Donald, though, would give Big Blue’s defensive line a whole new dimension.

    With Cullen Jenkins’ previous experience at defensive end, the Giants could get Donald plenty of playing time as a 3-technique tackle and still keep Jenkins on the field.

    However, the reality is that Donald is good enough to likely supplant Jenkins right away as the starter. He is a dynamite pass-rusher (11 sacks in both his sophomore and senior seasons at Pittsburgh), mainly due to lightning speed and quickness that is rare for a man his size.

    These traits were on display at the combine, where Donald ran the 40-yard dash in a blazing 4.68 seconds. This is a breathtaking number for someone who stands 6’1” and weighs 285 pounds.

    If it wasn’t for the presence of our last player, Donald would be an automatic selection at No. 12, assuming he’s available. Who could possibly be a better fit for Big Blue as the No. 1 draft choice?

1st Round: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

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    Drafting Eric Ebron almost seems too obvious for Big Blue.

    He is the best tight end in this year’s class, and New York doesn’t have a viable starter at this position on the roster. The 20-year-old grew up a Giants fan and would love to play for the team.

    Everything about him is not a perfect fit for New York, though. While he is a dynamic pass-catcher who can stretch any defense with his speed and athleticism, he is not a refined blocker yet. The Giants would likely need to replace him in obvious running situations with a blocking tight end, assuming they have one on the roster.

    However, he does have the build (6’4”, 250 pounds) to be a good blocker with practice and proper instruction.

    Drops are also a problem for the former Tar Heel. Josh Norris of Rotoworld and NBC Sports notes, via his Twitter account, that Ebron had an 11.43 percent drop rate at North Carolina. According to Khaled Elsayed of Pro Football Focus, this would have been one of the worst ratings among NFL tight ends last season.

    For what it’s worth, the Giants appear to be interested in Ebron. They visited with him at the combine and attended his pro day on Tuesday.

    Whether they’ll be willing to invest their top pick in a tight end remains to be seen. My two cents is they should, simply because he has the potential to be the most explosive, productive tight end in Giants history—Jeremy Shockey and Mark Bavaro included.

    All combine results courtesy of NFL.com's combine tracker. College statistics courtesy of sports-reference.com.

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