New York Giants Head Into NFL Draft With Many Options, but Which Are the Best?
Selecting right in the middle of the first round gives the Giants multiple options with their draft pick. They may reap the benefits of a highly-ranked player sliding down the draft or they could even trade back if a player they had their sights on gets drafted earlier than expected.
If they don't address middle linebacker early, it would be ideal for them to trade for Kirk Morrison of the Raiders and offer either a 3rd or 4th round pick to Al Davis. This would allow them to go with the best player available early and often, knowing that their biggest need would be fulfilled.
With that in mind, here are four scenarios the Giants could be looking at in the draft with their first rounder as well as a few other players who the Giants will likely consider come draft time.
Scenario 1 : Rolando McClain
McClain is the protypical thumper at middle linebacker. He would give the Giants something they sorely need in the middle of their defense, a true leader. While at Alabama, McClain led Nick Saban's defense to a National Championship.
Although some say he fits best in a 3-4 defense, he would probably have no problem fitting into an aggressive Giants defense.
Although his cover skills aren't as polished as other middle linebackers, previous Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce survived with subpar cover skills. With Jonathan Goff now a member of the starting defense, the Giants would love to have someone like McClain who can come in and bring some passion back to a defense that declined mightily last year.
Scenario 2: CJ Spiller
Selecting Spiller would be the perfect example of the Giants going for the best player available. If the former Clemson runningback somehow drops to the 15th selection, they may bypass need for a truly special talent. Arguably the most versatile running back in the nation, Spiller would give the Giants a potential star at running back for the future.
Although Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Andre Brown makeup a a good stable of running backs, Spiller's breakaway speed, great hands, and lack of fear in running between the tackles would quickly combine those three talents into one.
With the running game stalling last year for the G-Men, they need to be somewhat worried, considering the fact that Jacobs danced behind the line most of last year instead of taking his role as lead back.
This year, Spiller would provide the Giants with a special teams force in the return game and a 3rd down receiving option if Brown is unable to take that role. In the long run, this pick may be looked at as a steal if Spiller reaches his potential.
Scenario 3: Dan Williams
The middle of the Giants defense suffered mightily last year despite the additions of Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard. With Bernard on the roster bubble, Jay Alford coming back from injury, and Fred Robbins gone, the Giants have only Canty and Barry Cofield to rely on. Williams would give the Giants a third body as well as someone who could line up with Alford and eventually take over for Cofield in the starting lineup.
A true run stuffer with the ability to pass rush, the big man out of Tennessee will probably be in high demand if he makes it out of the top 10 picks.
Despite their need at middle linebacker, the Giants selection of Williams would give them even more pressure up the middle, a fixture that they relied on in their recent drive to the SuperBowl.
Scenario 4: Sean Weatherspoon
Weatherspoon would probably be the odds-on selection if the above three players are selected before the Giants pick. Although Weatherspoon would be the ideal outside linebacker for many teams, he would come to the Giants with the expectation of converting to middle linebacker. At 6'2" and 245, he has the size to be a great sideline-to-sideline linebacker in the middle of the Giants defense.
At Missouri, he showed the ability to be a true leader and led the team in tackles for the past two seasons. With the ability to drop into coverage or get into the backfield, Weatherspoon may not be the biggest "name player" New York could draft, but he may be the player who could be looked at as the best selection for them a decade from now, as a staple of the Giants defense.
Scenario 1: Matt Tennant
Tennant is a player that hasn't received much recognition considering his position at Center. Yet Tennant, a steady force in the middle of Boston College's offensive line, has proven that he could be the type of player that will have a long NFL career. Despite multiple quarterback changes, the 6'4" Tennant was a consistent performer that kept players like present Atlanta Falcons quarterback, Matt Ryan from taking a seat on the ground play after play.
One of the most well-rounded players in the draft, he would give the Giants an anchor to rely on if Shaun O'Hara falls prey to injury and an eventual replacement once O'Hara begins to decline. Coach Tom Coughlin's love for BC players should help Tennant's case when the Giants are considering their 2nd round options.
Scenario 2: Vladimir Ducasse
Ducasse would be looked at by the Giants as their future right tackle with William Beatty taking over on Eli Manning's blindside and David Diehl kicking in to guard next year. With Kareem McKenzie's back constantly acting up, New York needs someone in the near future to take over for the aging veteran. The massive 330-pounder would give the Giants a player similar to Vikings right tackle Phil Loadholt who brought his power and strength to give Minnesota an even better offensive line last year.
Ducasse showed his ability to finish off plays last year at UMass. For a Giants offensive line that has succeeded because of their ability to finish off plays in the run game in the last few years, he would fit well in their system as a longterm replacement for McKenzie.
Scenario 3: Lamarr Houston
Houston would give the Giants a player with an endless motor for the middle of their defensive line. Showing a wide range of pass-rush moves at Texas, Houston solified himself as a 2nd rounder who can play both the 4-3 and 3-4 defense in the NFL. If the Giants aim for a pass-rushing defensive tackle over a run-stuffing one, Houston would have to be New York's first choice in the 2nd round. Not only would he give the Giants a super athletic rusher to line up next to Jay Alford on the 2nd unit, he could also kick over to end if injuries strike.
Scenario 4: Tyson Alualu
Alualu is the prime example of a player showing his skills on the field and not in the weight room. He may not have eye-popping combine numbers, but he's the type of player who can be a solid player for any defensive line. The former Cal defensive ineman has amazing explosion coming off the line and knows how to gain body leverage on offensive linemen. He may not have the quickness and pass rushing moves of Houston, but he does provide the same type of tireless energy.
Scenario 1: Cam Thomas
At 330 pounds, Thomas would be the ideal run stuffer for the G-Men. Built perfectly for the 4-3 nose tackle position, the North Carolina product would bring both surprising athleticism and energy to a defensive line in need of both after a subpar season last year. With Barry Cofield on the verge of free agency, the Giants could use Thomas as a replacement in the near future and until then use his power and strength on the 2nd unit to stop the run while Alford is allowed to focus on pass-rushing.
Scenario 2: Jared Veldheer
Out of the small college of Hillsdale, Veldheer stands at a mammoth 6'8" and has the ability to put more weight onto his frame. Playing to the whistle is something a team won't have to worry about with Veldheer and his footwork is surprisingly quick for his size. If he can improve versus speed rushers he could be a very good right tackle for the Giants and possibly provide a swing tackle option this year.
Scenario 3: Sean Lee
Another product of linebacker U (also known as Penn State), Lee is a "football player" through and through. Lee rarely blew an assignment at Penn State and has great read and react skills. Unlike many young linebackers, Lee knows how to wrap up players, rather than going for the big shoulder to shoulder hit. Although his pass defense could use some improvement, the fact that he always plays on the balls of his feet will allow him to do just that.
Scenario 1 : Kyle Calloway
The 6'7", 320 pound Calloway has New York Giant written all over him. He may not be the flashiest player, but he has a great shot at being a solid pro in the trenches. Calloway seals off the edge like an NFL right tackle and knows how to use his leverage to keep rushers in front of him. Although he showed at Iowa that he is sometimes prone to inside spin moves, he has the discipline to correct that problem. With Chris Snee next him on the offensive line he'd have some time to get acclimated once Kareem McKenzie departs.
Scenario 2: Javier Arenas
Arenas would be the type of versatile player the Giants need on special teams. Arguably the best returner in the country, Arenas has both the speed and leg strength to be a game-changer on special teams. On defense, he may not be starting cornerback material, but the Giants don't need that with three possible starters already on their roster.
As a slot corner, however, he would do well to replace Kevin Dockery as the 5th defensive back on New York's roster. Although he may be 5'9", his bulk and tackling ability will eventually allow him to see the field as a nickelback.
Scenario 3: Jeff Byers
Byers would give the Giants a successor to Shaun O'Hara and another backup option at guard besides Rich Seubert. Byers proved at USC that he could excel in run-blocking and had the toughness to finish his blocking assignments. The versatile lineman showed somewhat of a mean streak for the Trojans and if he could learn how to gain greater leverage on bigger defensive tackles, he could be a good starter for a team in a year or two.
Scenario 1: Pat Angerer
An instinctive hard-nosed linebacker is something the Giants need and Angerer could provide that sooner rather than later. An all-around football player at Iowa, Angerer's height at slightly more than 6'0 is what will raise questions whether he can play full-time in the NFL.
Although he may not have the height of a prototypical middle linebacker, he does have the instincts to be one. Another solid linbacker to come out of Iowa, Angerer always seems to be around the ball and will excel in coverage no matter where he lands in the NFL.
Scenario 2: AJ Edds
Edds played alongside Angerer at Iowa, but didn't get overshadowed as he had over 70 tackles and 4 interceptions this past season. Edds would give the Giants a player who could play all three linebacker positions, but is best suited on the outside in the 4-3. A smart player on and off the field, Edds has a very high football IQ, but is also smart enough to have a backup plan to football in possibly going to law school and becoming an athletic director.
Scenario 3: Reshad Jones
Although the Giants have Antrelle Rolle at free safety, they still need some roster depth. Jones was the true definition of a ball hawk at Georgia and is rarely out of position. He may not be a safety that can stay with a receiver from the line all the way downfield, but in space he excels. If Rolle goes down to injury New York could use Jones and his ballhawking ability as a fallback plan and not have to move one of their backup strong safeties into a uncomfortable position.
Scenario 1: George Selvie
Selvie is the prime example of a player whose stock drops after an amazing beginning to his college career, his being at South Florida. Yet Selvie still has alot of talent as a pass rusher and could be the ideal nickel rusher for a team searching for one.
If Selvie can gain another ten pounds or so he could become exactly that for New York, as one of Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka will likely not be a Giant after this year. Although he may be better suited for the 3-4 defense, gaining ten pounds, while maintaining his explosiveness would put him at the same weight as Umenyiora.
Scenario 2: Walter McFadden
A player with serious potential, McFadden has natural cover skills as a cornerback. Loose hips are vital for a defensive back and McFadden has the change-of-direction ability to quickly rise up an NFL depth chart. His 180 pound weight will probably scare off some teams, but the fact that he showed at Auburn that he isn't afraid to tackle and do so fundamentally could make him a major steal in the later rounds.
Scenario 3: Phillip Dillard
A better run stuffer, than coverage linebacker, Dillard is the type of player that needs a year to learn before being given a shot to start. He will likely never be an all-pro player, but he could be a solid inside linebacker for a team in the future.
A good sideline-to-sideline linebacker, Dillard displayed at Nebraska his willingness to take on offensive lineman in order to get to the running back, while also relentlessly going after the quarterback when asked to blitz. As of now he's ticketed for a 2-down role, but if he could improve his skills in pass coverage then he might be a nice surprise for a team down the road.
Lindley is an undersized corner that reminds me of Kevin Dockery and could replace Dockery on the Giants roster next year. The Kentucky product is clearly a cover corner and isn't going intimidate anyone when trying to stop the run, but is a reliable open field-tackler. As a 7th round pick would be a nice choice for a team looking for late round depth.
* The Giants have few needs and should be looking to improve their depth on the defensive and offensive lines. With the depth in this draft it wouldn't be a surprise to see them trade back in the 1st and 2nd rounds and acquire another pick in the 3rd and 4th to take advantage of the talent that could fall into the middle rounds. If the Giants draft well, they could quickly become one of the deepest teams in the NFL.
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