Highlighting the Most Likely Options for the New York Giants' First-Round Pick
Will the NFL Draft ever get here?
Seriously, the calendar shows we still have about three weeks to go, which is three weeks too many, if you ask me.
So while we continue our wait for one of the biggest events on the NFL's calendar of events, we continue our look at what the Giants might do with that all-important first-round pick.
In this piece, I've identified the five most common players I've seen mentioned by NFL draft analysts as being the Giants' projected first-round selection, and I offer some thoughts as to how realistic the chances are of the Giants actually acquiring that player.
Don’t forget to give me your feedback on what you think the New York might do in the first round.
Tight End Eric Ebron, North Carolina
Maybe it’s just a matter of not knowing all that much about the tight ends the Giants currently have on their roster, a group that includes Adrien Robinson, Larry Donnell, Daniel Fells and Kellen Davis.
That uncertainty in not knowing what the Giants have in each of those four players, combined with not knowing exactly how new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo plans to deploy the tight ends makes it difficult to anticipate what they might plan to do at No. 12 should if North Carolina's Eric Ebron (6'4", 250 pounds) be sitting there.
There's little question that Ebron is a talent who can immediately make an impact in any team’s passing game. However, he's not really an in-line blocker, as B/R's Matt Miller notes in the video above.
If the Giants plan to stay committed to the power running game, they’re going to need a tight end who can be a classic in-line blocker, especially given the uncertainty surrounding the offensive line. Do they have that in the Robinson-Donnell-Fells-Davis quartet?
If they think they do, then it might make a lot of sense to draft Ebron in the first round, though I still think that if they're determined to add a skill position player at No. 12, they're better off drafting a wide receiver if a solid one is there and waiting until later in the draft to take a tight end.
I think that's the way they're going to go, as I'm not so sure Ebron even makes it down to No. 12. Even if he does, what good is having all of these fancy new receiving targets if the pass protection isn't addressed?
Draft Possibility: Low
Wide Receiver Mike Evans, Texas A&M
One of the biggest questions about the Giants' receiver corps is how will the team replace the production of a healthy Hakeem Nicks.
I’ve noted before how the Giants seem to be hoping that Rueben Randle, who’s entering his third season, will be the guy.
However, there have been enough not-so-subtle hints from both general manager Jerry Reese and from head coach Tom Coughlin that causes doubts as to whether Randle will step up.
Reese, at the NFL Scouting Combine (per Pro Football Talk) said of Randle, “I’m not sure if he’s a one, if he’s a two, if he’s a three, but I think he can contribute to our receiving corps.” At the NFL owners meeting last month, Coughlin said per ESPN.com, that he wants to see Randle “continue to become a better pro—focus, concentration, production on the field, consistency, day in and day out.”
Since I don't expect the Giants to put all of their eggs in one basket—that's not their way of doing things—I could see them grabbing Texas A&M’s Mike Evans (6'5", 231 pounds), if he's there at No. 12.
Evans' size and physicality seems to have many analysts drooling over his potential at the next level. He's currently ranked as NFL Draft Scout’s second-best receiving prospect. Of note is that in just about every mock draft I’ve seen from NFL.com analysts, Evans is a top-10 draft pick and should be the second receiver off the board, after Clemson’s Sammy Watkins.
Therein lies the problem for the Giants. The chances of Evans falling down to No. 12 are probably not very good.
The flip-side of the argument is that the receiver class is so deep in talent that if the Giants can't get a solid prospect in the first round, they might benefit if they wait.
It's because of the depth at receiver that I think the Giants won't consider trading into the top 10 to draft a receiver if they can pluck someone just as promising in the second or third round.
Draft Possibility: Low
Defensive Tackle Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
In his mock draft, Pete Prisco of CBS Sports justifies the Giants selecting University of Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald (6’1”, 285 pounds) at No. 12 by noting, "I will keep him here for now after they lost Linval Joseph."
The problem with that theory is that Donald and Joseph are two different players, so it's not as simple as replacing an apple with an apple.
Joseph and his massive size was better suited for stopping the run whereas Donald’s smaller frame and quicker first step appear to make him a better pass-rusher.
Certainly the Giants must have been disappointed to not come away with signing veteran defensive tackle Kevin Williams to a free-agent deal, as doing so would have probably satisfied their needs at the defensive tackle spot. They could still keep watch for a veteran who comes loose maybe after the draft, the goal being to sign him to a one-year deal.
As for the draft, although the defensive tackle position isn’t as deep as some of the other positions where the Giants have needs, it would still be a major surprise if they spend their first-round pick on a defensive player, even if it’s a player like Donald, who could potentially make an immediate impact on the pass rush.
Draft Possibility: Low
Offensive Tackle Taylor Lewan, Michigan
When I try to forecast how the Giants will draft in the first round, I look at two things.
First, I look at the existing depth under contract—who’s coming off a down year and who’s coming off a major injury.
Then I look at what free agents were signed—do the Giants now have someone who, if he had to, could carry the load for more than just a game or two if a starter goes down?
So that brings me to the Giants’ offensive tackle situation, which outside of Justin Pugh is, if I'm being totally honest, unsettling to me.
We all know about Will Beatty and how he’s coming off a poor campaign that ended in a broken leg suffered in the last regular-season game.
Although there is no reason right now to think that Beatty won’t be ready for Week 1, if the extent of his injury is as bad as it looked when it happened, I think there has to be some question as to how much, if any work he will be able to do this spring to learn the new offense.
Now let’s look at the two veteran free-agent tackles brought in to provide depth, John Jerry and Charles Brown.
Jerry was one of the alleged participants named by the Wells Report that investigated allegations of workplace harassment in the Miami Dolphins organization.
The Giants apparently are comfortable with what Jerry had to say during their interview prior to his signing, as they took the unprecedented step in e-mailing a statement from Jerry Reese to all of the beat writers stating how they "were satisfied with the answers we got about John as a player and person."
The question though is what, if any, repercussions will Jerry have face as a result of his alleged involvement in the Dolphin’s workplace scandal?
Head coach Tom Coughlin, speaking to Bob Glauber of Newsday at last month's owners meetings, said he believed that “there is no suspension in the air or anything of that nature.”
However, Lindsay H. Jones of USA TODAY reported that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell insisted that Jerry, along with Dolphins center Mike Pouncey and guard Richie Incognito, “will be subject to medical evaluations before being subject to potential discipline.”
What that “medical evaluation” will consist of and when it will take place remains to be seen. With time running down on the offseason—the Giants begin Phase 1 of their offseason conditioning program on Monday, April 21—Jerry could be looking at having to be away from the team depending on how and when the medical evaluation is handled.
Charles Brown? After starting the first 14 games at left tackle for the New Orleans Saints, he was replaced—and with good reason.
Per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Brown graded out with an alarming -13.6 as a pass-blocker after allowing 7.0 sacks, nine quarterback hits and 33 pressures last season.
Based on what we know about the Giants' tackle situation, it would be very difficult to disqualify making a case to draft an offensive tackle this year in the first round.
The question is who do they go with?
Let's start with Taylor Lewan (6’7”, 309 pounds) of Michigan, whom NFL Draft Scout has ranked as the third-best offensive tackle in this draft behind Greg Robinson of Auburn and Jake Matthews of Texas A&M.
Unless teams are scared away by the fact that Lewan is facing three assault charges (as per Kyle Feldscher of Mlive.com), Lewan might not fall to the Giants at No. 12.
If the Giants really want Lewan, chances are pretty good that they’re going to have to trade up to get him.
If he is on the board at No. 9, it would not be shocking to see the Giants look to jump up by offering their first-round pick and either their fourth (113th overall) or their original fifth-round pick (152nd overall) to resolve what's a glaring need.
Draft Possibility: High
Offensive Tackle Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Another offensive tackle that could be in the Giants’ sights in the first round is Jake Matthews (6’6”, 308 pounds) out of Texas A&M.
While this year’s draft class is rich in offensive linemen, there are only so many true left tackles. Depending on which NFL.com analyst’s mock draft you have faith in, the lowest that Matthews is projected to fall in the first round is to No. 6 overall.
That’s not surprising as NFL Draft Scout has Matthews as the second-best tackle prospect in this draft, behind Auburn’s Greg Robinson.
If the Giants really have their heart set on Matthews, they’re likely going to have to put together a very rich package to move up to at least sixth overall, assuming Matthews drops that far.
Draft Possibility: No Chance