5 Best-Case Scenarios for New York Giants in 2014 NFL Draft
The Giants have been aggressive hunters on the open market this spring. By gobbling up several free agents, New York hopes to improve on a 7-9 record posted in 2013. Due in part to this recent flurry of offseason action, the Giants now have more first-round selections from other teams (six) than they do their own (four) on the current roster, according to a Tweet by Tom Rock of Newsday.
Put the Giants' affinity for reclamation projects aside for a second, and Rock's alarming fact serves as an indicator that New York can afford to improve its drafting as a whole. What better time to start than this May?
This article will highlight five best-case scenarios upon which the Giants must capitalize if given the opportunity in the 2014 NFL draft.
A Top Quarterback Falls to 12
No, the Giants don't have a pressing need at quarterback. Some other teams, however, may have an eye or two on the cream of this year's QB crop.
So, what happens if one of them falls unexpectedly to the Giants at pick No. 12?
They shop the pick, obviously.
The top four quarterbacks in the 2014 draft are Central Florida's Blake Bortles, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and Fresno State's Derek Carr—all are probable first-round picks. The Houston Texans at pick No. 1 and the Cleveland Browns at pick No. 4 both have immediate needs at quarterback; the Jacksonville Jaguars at pick No. 3, the Oakland Raiders at pick No. 5 and Minnesota Vikings at pick No. 8 could conceivably be targeting a replacement quarterback in this year's draft.
With five teams that pick ahead of the Giants probably eyeing up passers, it is unlikely one of the more valuable quarterbacks slips to the 12th-overall selection. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and, as CBS's team of draft experts have illustrated, the appeal of these top four quarterbacks widely varies.
Rob Rang, Dane Brugler and Pat Kirwan each have Bortles going first-overall to the Texans in their latest mock drafts. Will Brinson, on the other hand, doesn't have Bortles going until eighth-overall to the Vikings. Brugler and Pete Prisco both have Bridgewater going to the Vikings instead, while Rang and Brinson have him falling to the end of the first round. Finally, Rang has Carr going to the Vikings, while Brugler and Brinson don't even consider him a first-round option.
If the right prospect falls to the Giants at 12th-overall, a trade offer from another franchise may arise. It won't be a blockbuster deal like the one for Eli Manning in 2004 or the pick that eventually yielded Robert Griffin III in 2012, but New York should still consider the possibility accordingly.
Anthony Barr Is Available at 12
The Giants are always in search of seemingly inhuman athletes, especially when it comes to defensive edge-rushers.
South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is widely regarded as the most talented player in the draft, and many expect him to be selected first overall. Behind Clowney are outside linebackers Khalil Mack (Buffalo) and Anthony Barr (UCLA). While Mack is considered the slightly better prospect, that only increases the Giants' chances of landing a fine talent in Barr at 12th-overall.
Barr was a rush linebacker in college, so a transition to defensive end might be necessary for him to fit in the Giants' 4-3 scheme. At only 255 pounds, Barr may struggle with his hand in the dirt at first, especially considering the criticism of his run-defending ability in the video above by Bleacher Report's Matt Miller. His elite speed off the edge, however, will make up for any delayed progression at the professional ranks.
As Miller points out in the video, Barr is an every-down player, making him a valuable commodity in today's highly specialized NFL. By drafting Barr, the Giants could light a fire under 2013 third-round selection Damontre Moore, who has a similar build and skill set. A potential competition between Barr and Moore will push both players to reach new levels of production.
Barr can also drop into pass coverage adeptly. If defensive coordinator Perry Fewell can find creative ways to utilize his talent, Barr could thrive in a joker-type role with the Giants.
Michigan OT Taylor Lewan Plummets
Auburn's Greg Robinson and Texas A&M's Jake Matthews are the two best offensive tackles in this year's draft, but Michigan's Taylor Lewan is not far behind talent-wise. Lewan stands 6'7" and weighs in at 309 pounds. From a physical standpoint, the Michigan product is dripping with NFL potential.
His eventual draft position may not reflect that, though.
The Giants could be considering Lewan as a first-round option, but there's a chance he could still be on the board when the Giants pick again in the second round. If New York decides to wait it out, the team could be rewarded nicely with a patiently waiting Lewan.
Although draft experts have not yet predicted a drop in Lewan's stock, concerns about Lewan's character have surfaced recently. His rough play on the field is well-documented and probably celebrated by some, but what if his brutishness extends to his off-the-field life?
Lewan's track record is not spotless. He faces one count of aggravated assault and two counts of assault and battery—all three counts being misdemeanors—according to ESPN.com. The charges stem from a December incident involving an altercation with two Ohio State fans. His name and a threat he allegedly made have also been dragged into a rape investigation involving a former teammate at Michigan, according to Sporting News.
Lewan denied the validity of both of these incidents during his NFL Scouting Combine press conference, where he also laughed off accusations of his on-field play being unsportsmanlike.
It has been reported Lewan has landed meetings with the St. Louis Rams (pick No. 2), Atlanta Falcons (pick No. 6) and Detroit Lions (pick No. 10). How he fares in these meetings will likely be kept under wraps, but teams are likely on high alert after last year's high-profile harassment case involving Miami Dolphins offensive linemen Richie Incognito, Jonathan Martin and others.
The Giants never expected Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore to be available in the third round of the 2013 draft; they were surprised to land LSU wide receiver Rueben Randle in the second round of the 2012 draft. Lewan could be the team's draft-day steal of 2014.
Giants Land a Starting Tight End
The Giants need some reliability and consistency at tight end after starting a different one in each of the past four seasons. The team's most recent starter, Brandon Myers, had his contract voided and will play with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014.
Wouldn't it be nice if New York finally landed a long-term solution at tight end in this year's draft?
The most talked about option is North Carolina's Eric Ebron, who many fans would like to see selected with the 12th-overall pick belonging to the Giants. Ebron is a natural pass-catcher with wide receiver-type of playmaking ability. At 6'5" and only 250 pounds, Ebron's blocking ability is clearly secondary to his potential in the passing game.
But the Giants can still land a starting-caliber tight end if they wait until the mid-rounds of the draft to select one. No individual pick is made in a vacuum, so this route of action may allow New York the flexibility to pursue more valuable options with its early round selections.
In the second/third rounds, the Giants should scope out Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Texas Tech's Jace Amaro. Both players have great size (Seferian-Jenkins 6'6", 266; Amaro 6'5", 265) and extensive pass-catching experience. While neither prospect possesses the smooth athleticism Ebron wields, both have the tools needed to develop into complete NFL tight ends.
The Giants can wait even longer, if they so desire, and pick up Iowa's C.J. Fiedorowicz as late as the fifth round. Fiedorowicz did not put up the gaudy receiving numbers the previously mentioned players produced in college, but he could possess some hidden athleticism primed to blossom at the professional level.
A Sleeper Pick Emerges from the Later Rounds
The Giants haven't had a late-round pick explode onto the scene since Ahmad Bradshaw joined the team as a seventh-round selection in 2007. Bradshaw contributed to New York's Super Bowl run during his rookie year, and he scored the game-winning touchdown four years later in Super Bowl XLVI. He finished his Giants career with 4,232 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns.
That is obviously atypical production for a seventh-round selection—many don't even make the team—but Giants general manager Jerry Reese must be on point in this year's draft. In order to fuel the Giants' turnaround, even Reese's late-round selections must be viable contributors in 2014.
The easiest position to target when searching for a late-round sleeper is running back, as evidenced by Bradshaw's success. The Giants, since Bradshaw, have taken seventh-round shots on running backs Da'Rel Scott (2011, Maryland) and Michael Cox (2013, UMass); Scott is no longer with the team and Cox displayed little progress during his rookie campaign.
If the Giants want to pursue yet another late-round running back prospect, Alabama State's Isaiah Crowell is the back to target. After his dismissal from Georgia, Crowell was dominant against the lesser FCS competition. In the NFL comparison video above, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller calls him the sleeper of the 2014 draft.
The Giants don't have to go running back, though. They could land a promising, yet virtually unknown, offensive line prospect in North Dakota State's Billy Turner whose Bison have won three consecutive FCS championships. Or perhaps New York pursues a sleeper on the defensive side of the ball, reeling in Iowa's rangy, playmaking linebacker Christian Kirksey in one of the later rounds.
Whatever the case, the Giants would benefit greatly from an unexpected surge in performance from an under-the-radar selection.