6 Names Every New York Giants Fan Needs to Know Before the 2014 NFL Draft
The first round will be upon us in no time, so if you need a crash course, or just a refresher, on some of the names that the Giants may draft in the first few rounds, you’ve come to the right place.
The following slides will look at players that have been associated with Big Blue during the pre-draft build up. I’ll be relying heavily on recent mock drafts, primarily from Bleacher Report, ESPN.com, CBSSports.com and NFL.com (tight end Eric Ebron's the most popular mock draft pick for the Giants, according to NJ.com, so he will be discussed). Whether the Giants have demonstrated some interest in the player—either through a visit or workout—will also be factored in.
It's easier to discuss first-round targets for New York, since they’ll have their choice of all but 11 players by the time they are on the clock with the 12th pick. Therefore, we’ll focus most of our attention there, with a few second-round possibilities sprinkled in as well.
So break out your pencils and notebooks and get ready for Big Blue's draft options, starting with the second round.
2nd Round: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
Morgan Moses has quietly become a potential first-round prospect, though the Giants probably wouldn’t target him until the 43rd pick. While ESPN.com’s Todd McShay (Insider subscription necessary) would take Moses in the first round to protect Eli Manning’s blind side if he were Big Blue’s GM, it is unlikely that Jerry Reese would follow suit.
However, as a second-round pick he makes a lot of sense. The 6’6”, 314-pound Moses has tremendous arm length at 35 3/8”, which makes it hard for defensive ends to beat him to the outside. By comparison, Auburn’s Greg Robinson, widely regarded as the top left tackle prospect in the draft, falls short of Moses in this tale of the tape with 35” arm length.
Despite a slow time of 5.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine, Moses does move well and has the agility to get out to the edges to run block. He was also quite durable in college, missing only one game in four seasons.
With current left tackle Will Beatty coming off a poor 2013 season that ended with a serious leg injury in Week 17—which he is still recovering from without a return in sight—Moses would provide excellent depth at the position. It would also give New York some options in the future, like moving Beatty to right tackle and shifting Justin Pugh inside to right guard to make room for Moses at left tackle.
2nd Round: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Despite Jerry Reese’s public thoughts on the tight end position last Thursday at a pre-draft news conference, internally, it would be surprising if they don’t value it highly later this week.
New York’s current options at the position had six catches combined last season. If they truly want to improve an offense that ranked 28th in the NFL last year in yards and points per game, as well as 30th in red zone touchdown scoring percentage and third down conversion percentage, they need a dynamic tight end that can stretch the defense.
If they miss out on or elect not to draft Ebron in the first round, Jace Amaro would make for a fine consolation prize in the second.
The Texas Tech product is actually a slightly less-talented replica of Ebron. Amaro is not quite as fast (4.74 second 40-yard dash at the combine versus Ebron’s 4.60 time) or athletic. Like Ebron, he also struggles with drops and is considered a work in progress as a blocker, despite having an adequate build to excel at this important but underrated skill for a tight end.
Amaro actually had a much better final season in college—racking up 106 catches for 1,352 yards and seven touchdowns. By comparison, Ebron had 62 catches for 973 yards and only three touchdowns in 2013.
Amaro has been linked to the Giants this offseason. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller pegged him as their second-round pick in an April 4th mock draft. New York also visited with the 21-year-old at the combine.
Regardless of what he has to say publicly, privately, Reese would have to at least give serious thought to drafting Amaro at No. 43 if he is still available. Based on CBSSports.com’s rankings, there is a good chance he will be.
1st Round: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
I think there is a chance that Aaron Donald could be the Giants first-round pick and I am certainly not alone in my belief. Matt Miller, ESPN.com’s Mel Kiper and Bucky Brooks of NFL.com all have New York taking Donald at 12 in recent mock drafts.
It’s hard to get the best player at a premium position like defensive tackle outside of the top 10 picks. The Giants should have that chance with Donald, as he is likely to be available when they are on the clock.
The 22-year-old’s exceptional quickness makes him an elite interior pass-rusher, something Big Blue haven't had since Keith Hamilton manned the middle of the Giants defensive line in the 1990s and early-2000s.
New York’s anemic offensive display last season suggests that it should address that side of the ball in the first round. However, the loss of Linval Joseph in free agency hurt the team’s depth at defensive tackle. Donald would not only solve that problem but also become a serious threat to unseat Cullen Jenkins as a starter at the 3-technique.
1st Round: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
While Donald would be a fine choice for the Giants to start off their draft, Ebron—in my opinion—should be who they take in the first round. Despite some of his faults, like the blocking and drops issues I mentioned when discussing Amaro, he is clearly the most talented tight end in the draft.
According to Jordan Raanan of NJ.com, though, New York appears to disagree.
Everything I've heard in recent months and weeks indicates the Giants aren't especially high on him, and that they won't draft him at No. 12. Even though misdirection is common this time of the year, that disqualified him for this list.
If this were simply players I would select with the No. 12 pick, Ebron would be at or near the top, despite his shaky hands and subpar blocking. I'm a big fan of dynamic tight ends who can leap over defenders and high-point the ball. But the Giants apparently don't see that from Ebron. They're not overly impressed with his skills and overall package.
Raanan’s misdirection comment may ring true here. The Giants did visit with Ebron at the combine and then attended North Carolina’s pro day a month later. They could have come away from those meetings underwhelmed, but they were intrigued enough to invest some time in him.
Throughout all of the pre-draft buildup, Ebron has probably been the most consistent name mentioned as their potential first-round pick. It is all just speculation, but it does make Thursday night more intriguing.
If he is on the board when the Giants are on the clock, expect the Big Blue fans in attendance at Radio City Music Hall to chant Ebron’s name. Whether Reese and his staff will grant their wishes is another story.
1st Round: Zack Martin, OG, Notre Dame
On the opposite end of the rumor spectrum comes this nugget, again from Raanan, in the same article he revealed his inside information on how the Giants feel about Ebron.
Word on the street is that the Giants prefer Martin to (Taylor) Lewan. The Notre Dame product comes with less baggage and, despite common perception, is more physical in the run game.
If this is true, it is easy to see why Big Blue are so enamored. Martin played left tackle in college, but has the strength to move over to guard. Reese even thinks he could play center. Less than ideal arm length—32 7/8”—is a big reason why he is considered an option to move inside.
Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, though, believes if the Giants are going to take Martin, it is because they want him to play tackle.
If the Giants take him at No. 12, it is because they believe he can be a tackle, despite a lack of great height (6-foot-4) or reach. The Giants last year made Justin Pugh from Syracuse their first-round pick, and as a rookie he started every game at right tackle despite not having the desired arm length for a tackle.
Schwartz’s point is valid, especially since this draft has great depth at guard and center. However, it is hard to argue that his versatility—he started 50 of 52 games with Notre Dame at tackle—doesn’t help his draft stock.
Martin is a popular choice over at CBSSports.com to land in New York, as three of five mock drafts have them taking the 23-year-old. When you combine the opinion of the media and what the Giants front office appears to think of him, Martin is as likely as anyone to be New York’s first-round selection.
1st Round: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The aforementioned Lewan is a complicated prospect for the Giants.
On the one hand, he is an incredible athlete (Lewan scored as a top performer in five of the six workouts at the combine) who, at 6’7”, 309 pounds is built to play left tackle in the NFL.
Conversely, he has several incidents on his resume that would lead any team to question his character. At the same time, he is good enough at a premium position that it is very possible he won’t be around at the 12th pick. For example, CBSSports.com has him ranked as the eighth-best prospect in the draft.
New York certainly seems interested in the Michigan product, since they had him in for a visit just a few weeks ago. For what it’s worth, he is not a popular choice to land with Big Blue. None of the “Big Four” sites have the Giants landing Lewan in recent mock drafts.
College statistics courtesy of sports-reference.com.