2010 NFL Draft: The Giants' Upcoming Dilemma Between Veterans and Rookies

Kyle McMorrow@@Kyle_McMorrowCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - MAY 09: Tom Coughlin, head coach of the New York Giants walks on the field at rookie camp on May 9, 2009 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

After a season of disappointment and heartache, the New York Giants now find themselves at a crossroads as the NFL draft and free agency draw near.

A total of 14 players, whether restricted or not, will be eligible for free agency, including backup quarterback David Carr, linebackers Chase Blackburn and Danny Clark, and punter Jeff Feagles.

As New York gears up for another year of signing and scouting, the true dilemma will fall between filling a hole through the draft or solidifying the position with a proven veteran.

If history is any indication of how New York will handle their roster this offseason, then Giants' fans can expect an exciting draft and a less-than-stellar free agency period, as General Manager Jerry Reese has not been too keen on signing big name free agents. 

Regardless of the route the Giants choose, here's a list of what Jerry Reese and Head Coach Tom Coughlin could possibly be looking at heading into the crucial point of this offseason.

Safety—Nick Collins, Atari Bigby, or Nate Allen

The Giants' defensive backs were expected to show great strides this season, but injuries and a lack of pressure by New York's front seven left the Giants exposed and embarrassed.

This offseason, cornerback Kevin Dockery and safety C.C. Brown will both be eligible for free agency. With too many questions on defense, the Giants will be looking to fill these holes, while hoping for immediate upgrades to Aaron Rouse and possibly Michael Johnson.

Green Bay Packers' safety Nick Collins will be a restricted free agent, and perhaps somebody the Giants will go after aggressively if the Packers take too long to show their Pro Bowl safety the money.

In 2008, Collins racked up 60 solo tackles. He also picked off seven passes, returning three for touchdowns.

This past season, Collins experienced a drop off in numbers as he only recorded 44 solo tackles and failed to turn any of his six interceptions into a touchdown.

Collins is the type of player the Giants can use. He has been known for flying around the field with excellent game speed and has an ability to pick off the passer, something the Giants have been lacking from their safeties.

Ironically enough, there is another Green Bay safety who will be available this year. Atari Bigby, who will be entering his fifth season in the league, could be seen as a potential risk and, thus, the less attractive of the two due to health issues. Bigby has experienced two injury-filled seasons in both 2006 and 2008, but has showed much promise in his short time on the field.

During his 2007 season, Bigby recorded 86 total tackles, nine pass deflections, and five interceptions. In his last two seasons combined, however, Bigby has only managed to tie his '07 campaign in picks.

With the Packers having to deal with free agents Aaron Kampman, Ryan Pickett,  Chad Cliffton, and Mark Tauscher, Bigby or Collins could fall through the cracks and into a Giants uniform.

Should the Giants choose to look to the draft for safety help, there is Nate Allen out of South Florida, who could be an enticing selection.

Allen is scouted as being excellent in zone defense, but poor in man coverage. His size at 6'2" and 40-time of 4.50 makes choosing him early a definite risk. 

However, he has made the best of his size in the tackling game.

Allen racked up over 80 tackles twice in his four-year college career. This includes his senior year when he also caught four interceptions.

Other possible safeties include Earl Thomas of Texas, Chad Jones of Louisiana State, and Major Wright from Florida.

Defensive Tackle—Richard Seymour or Jared Odrick

Two of New York's defensive tackles will be free agents this offseason, and it is highly likely that at least one of the two will not be returning.

Barry Cofield and Fred Robbins are unrestricted free agents, and with last year's additions of Rocky Bernard and Chris Canty, and with Justin Tuck's ability to play defensive tackle from time to time, the Giants will look to fill the voids left by their departures.

Richard Seymour is possibly the biggest name out there, but this is highly unlikely given Jerry Reese's track record with the New York Giants.

Seymour is 30 years old and has been rumored to take plays off, but his ability to pressure the backfield is undeniable. There is, however, the possibility of the Oakland Raiders slapping a franchise tag on him. Given Seymour's past, a holdout would likely ensue.  

The downside to this possible marriage is that Seymour may ask for more money than the Giants are willing to spend this offseason, making room for a rookie to have his name called on draft day. 

Penn State standout Jared Odrick could be that bright new face in the Giants' locker room if New York chooses to take the draft route.

Odrick had an amazing senior season for a defensive tackle. He racked up 43 total tackles, including 11 for a loss, and seven sacks. This performance earned him All-American honors.

The drawback on the Penn State tackle is that he is a work in progress and would need some time to develop. He has tremendous upside, and since the Giants signed some depth at defensive tackle last season, he could definitely be worth the wait.

Other possible defensive tackles include Brian Price of UCLA and Terrence Cody of Alabama.

Middle Linebacker —Gary Brackett or Daryl Washington

Since Barrett Rudd and DeMeco Ryans are expected to re-sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Houston Texans respectively, the next choice would be Gary Brackett from the Indianapolis Colts.

Brackett will be an unrestricted free agent and could possibly replace the declining Antonio Pierce.

Over the past few seasons, Pierce has been exposed as a poor pass defender, and recent injuries have left his future productiveness in doubt. He has been deemed the captain and leader of the defense, but his time is drawing to an end in a Giants uniform.

Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and GM Jerry Reese have yet to make any commitment to the future of Pierce. Since Chase Blackburn is a free agent and Jonathan Goff is far from ready, the Giants will need some instant help at the most critical defensive position.

If the Giants can bring in a proven veteran like Brackett, it would open up the possibility to hold off on drafting a middle linebacker in the early rounds or even all together for this year's draft.

On the flip side, New York could use this year's draft to pick up a player like Daryl Washington.

While almost everyone reading this is screaming the names Rolando McClain and Brandon Spikes at the top of their lungs by now, the likelihood of them being available by the time the Giants pick is unlikely—if the Giants even go with a middle linebacker in the first round.

Washington is something Pierce is currently not—mobile. The TCU linebacker runs a 4.60, has good size, and is a well-rounded athlete. Washington has excellent coverage ability for a linebacker, catching three interceptions in 13 games last season. 

The downside to Washington is that he played in the Mountain West Conference and possibly lacks the strength for shedding blocks and tackling backs in the NFL.

Some other possible middle linebackers the Giants could target are Sean Lee from Penn State and Micah Johnson of Kentucky.

Offensive Tackle— Jammal Brown, Jermon Bushrod, or Bruce Campbell

With the entire Giants' offensive line aging, New York will look for some support and security knowing they have some talent in waiting.

Both Jammal Brown and Jermon Bushrod are currently on the Super Bowl-bound New Orleans Saints, but chances are next season, one will be wearing a different uniform.

Earlier this year, Brown went down with a sports hernia and hip injuries, thus forcing him to miss the entire 2009 season. The Saints' tackle is a two-time Pro Bowl selection and is a former first-round pick.

Since going down in early September, teammate Jermon Bushrod has filled in nicely for the injured Brown and is three years younger.

If the Giants choose to go away from the draft here, they could possibly land one of the two in either a trade or a more lucrative offer, since both are restricted free agents.

Bruce Campbell, on the other hand, is a massive athlete out of Maryland who stands 6'7" and weighs 315 pounds. Campbell has shown he can get to the second level and uses his size to his advantage. Although Campbell has shown good awareness, he can be wildly inconsistent and has questionable mental toughness, according to some scouts.

Other offensive tackles the Giants could target via the draft are Rutgers product Anthony Davis, Southern California's Charles Brown, and Iowa's Kyle Calloway. 

Wide Receiver— Steve Breaston or Taylor Price

This is perhaps the one position the Giants will certainly shy away from in free agency. This is not due to lack of talent, but because of a lack of need.

Eli Manning enjoyed one of his best seasons as a pro, thanks to the trio of Steve Smith, Mario Manningham, and Hakeem Nicks. With Ramses Barden on tap, the Giants' receiving core looks bright, but there may be some losses before next season.

Domenik Hixon and Sinorice Moss will be free agents and will probably be let go after disappointing careers in New York. Hixon has shown he can not catch the deep pass, and Moss seems like a lost cause.  These two did, however, provide the Giants with special teams services, and that would need to be replaced.

Taylor Price out of Ohio could be a late-round steal and a big impact player as a return man on special teams or, perhaps, a nice option on deep routes. 

Running a 4.35, Price isn't expected to be drafted until the fifth round or later and is the type of player who is a low-risk, high-reward athlete.

Price, who is Ohio's all-time leader in receptions, had a solid senior year, catching 56 passes for 784 yards and five touchdowns. The Ohio receiver also had a standout week of practice for the Senor Bowl, and is compared to Chicago Bear's receiver Johnny Knox.


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