With The NFL off season less than a week away, the attention will quickly turn to The NFL Draft. After an 8-8 season for Big Blue, they have glaring needs in a number of areas. As Jerry Reese and company enter this year's draft, they will have their sights set on doing everything they can to improve the personnel on both sides of the ball.
1. Rolando McClain, MLB, Alabama
Though middle linebacker is not the biggest position of need for New York (this is not to say that they don't need one), McClain is a special player. Most football fans know about McClain and his talents, as he captained The Crimson Tide defense over the course of their undefeated season. In 2009, McClain recorded at least seven tackles in five straight games, two interceptions, and seven tackles for a loss. McClain was also named an All-American and was a semi-finalist for both The Lombardi and Bednarik Awards.
There is little doubt that McClain could captain an NFL defense for the next decade and The Giants could certainly use some defensive leadership, especially with Antonio Pierce likely to be cut this off season and Jon Goff showing nothing to indicate that he could be a serviceable starter.
2. Brian Price, DT, UCLA
Price is a fairly under-the-radar prospect in terms of his skill set. In a draft without McCoy and Suh, Price would be making tons of headlines. The PAC Ten Defensive Player of The Year recorded 23.5 tackles for a loss this past season and four sacks.
In spring of 2008, Jerry Reese showed some (which is an understatement) concern about the defensive tackle position. He and The Giants were in the mix for Albert Haynesworth, but backed out of negotiations at the $80 million mark. Reese then proceeded to sign Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard.
This season, both Mathias Kiwanuka and Osi Umenyiora were in the top five in the NFL in quarterback hits, with Kiwanuka leading the entire league. This seems like a puzzling stat considering the lack of pressure The Giants generated this season, which is a clear indictment to the defensive tackle play.
The Cowboys dominated The Saints offense while taking advantage of Jay Ratliff in the middle and Anthony Spencer and Demarcus Ware on the outside. If Justin Tuck can get fully healthy again and become the interior rusher we once knew, then the combination of he and Price could provide an amazing boost to Umenyiora and Kiwanuka on the outside.
Make no mistake, defensive tackle is a massive need for New York.
3. Brandon Spikes, MLB, Florida
Following the same line of thinking used for McClain, Spikes is a very passionate leader whose heart for the game places him above the rest. The Giants seemed to lack any semblance of this in 2009. I'm sure Perry Fewell would love to have a captain as passionate as Spikes to run his defense for a number of years, especially one as productive as Spikes, who recorded over 130 tackles in his best season at Florida.
4. Taylor Mays, S, USC
One of the most misunderstood prospects I have seen in years, some scouts want to convert Mays to a weakside linebacker in a 4-3, mostly because he simply runs fast and hits hard.
Mays is a great safety with a lot of range and good instincts. He had 21 passes defended in his time at USC and is not as bad in coverage as people make it seem. Over the course of his four years at USC, Mays saw Sedrick Ellis, Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing, Keith Rivers, Clay Matthews, Terrell Thomas, Kevin Ellison, and others leave for The NFL. Every one of those players is a productive starter in The NFL, and it is tough to produce when so much of your scheme is predicated on those players.
Even with that said, Mays had a great career and would look good next to a healthy Kenny Phillips.
5. CJ Spiller, HB, Clemson
Spiller is the most dynamic offensive player in this coming draft, and would be welcomed in New York. Players like Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson who can carry an offense are hard to come by these days. Anyone who is a threat to go the distance is valuable, and the Giants lack that presence right now. If they could add a threat like that to an Eli Manning-led offense, let me be the first to say that The Giants would sport one of the best offenses in The NFL. Even when healthy, a player like Brandon Jacobs is too one dimensional to be a dynamic running back in today's NFL.
6. Mike Iupati, G, Idaho
The dominance of The New York Giants in 2008 was largely predicated on the rushing attack, led by a mauling offensive line. With a few tweaks to scheme and the addition of Will Beatty, I believe The Giants can return to form. The question is, how much longer will players like Kareem McKenzie and Shaun O'Hara hold up? Iupati can provide diversity and depth at a number of positions on the line and should be a future star in The NFL.
7. Chad Jones, S, LSU
Chad Jones is a very underrated safety in this year's draft. This season, Jones had 74 tackles, three interceptions, and a forced fumble. Jones had good instincts, which is something that New York lacks at the safety position as of right now. Jones would be an instant upgrade over any safety on the roster not named Phillips.
8. Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri
At 6'1", 241 lbs, some say that Weatherspoon is too small to play middle linebacker in The NFL. Despite that, Weatherspoon had 155 tackles in 2008 and was a finalist for The Butkus Award as well as a First Team All-Big 12 selection.
For the past several drafts, the Giants have taken several linebackers in later rounds. It may be time to rethink that strategy for The Giants.
9. Arthur Jones, DT, Syracuse
Another disruptive force up the middle, Jones was a bright spot for an otherwise abysmal Syracuse team. Jones was constantly double teamed yet recorded 60 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 2009. If the Giants go in another direction in Round One, a player like Jones would be great to grab in Round Two.
10. Javid Best, HB, Cal
Best is an even faster version of Spiller. His injury may lower his draft stock, but he is yet another prospect who can change games on a week to week basis on the next level. It would be ideal if New York could add a dynamic player like Best offensively heading into 2010.