2011 Mock Draft: 10 Prospects The New York Giants Should Target
The New York Giants finished the 2010 season with a mark of 10-6; a respectable season by any standards yet not enough to warrant a spot in the playoffs.
While fans of Big Blue have been down for the past couple of weeks, it's important to remember that one of the most anticipated offseason events in all of sports will soon be upon us: the NFL Draft.
Sure, it's still four months away, but it's never to early to begin the prognostications and projections.
The Giants have a solid core but it's evident that they have holes all over the field; holes that can be filled with smart draft picks.
The following is a list of players that the Giants should target in the draft. They range from surefire first rounders to fringe prospects, but I believe that all of them could improve the team in some capacity.
Without further ado, here are 10 players that the Giants need to select if they are available.
Anthony Castonzo, OT
You can never have too much depth on the offensive line, and the Giants learned that the hard way this year.
After having one of the most durable team of hogs in the NFL for the past few seasons, the line was beset by injuries in 2010.
The starting unit is getting old and, while they drafted Mitch Petrus out of Arkansas in the fifth round last year, the Giants front office needs to look at picking up an O-Line prospect in the early rounds this year.
Look no further than Anthony Castonzo out of Boston College.
He's a huge player at 6'7" and, at only 295 pounds, he has plenty of room to add even more bulk.
He's got no history of injuries and, by all accounts, he's a very cerebral player. Castonzo would pick up on the NFL game quickly and make an impact in his rookie year.
After the musical chair game that was played on the line this past season, the Giants would be wise to select Anthony Castonzo with the 19th pick in the draft.
Ras-I Dowling, CB
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Of course, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and in a draft thin on top tier offensive line prospects, Castonzo may not be available by the time the Giants are on the clock.
In that case, the Giants should look to draft one of the biggest and most physical corners in the class, Ras-I Dowling.
Dowling, from Virginia, stands a tall 6'2", 201 pounds. His unique blend of size and speed would make him a great addition to the Giants defensive backfield.
While the Giants have good corners, none can be called a shutdown corner. Dowling has that potential and he's a great tackler to boot.
Tackling is of utmost importance to the Giants, as they regularly involve their corners in the blitz game as well as in run support.
Aaron Ross has regressed since being drafted in the first round in 2007 and the Giants would improve their team greatly with the addition of Dowling.
Orlando Franklin, OG
Another offensive line prospect that the Giants could target is Orlando Franklin, the massive guard out of Miami (FL).
At 6'6", 318 pounds, Franklin is a hulking beast that would immediately add prototypical size to the Giants offensive line.
Rich Seubert, a stalwart of the Giants line for the past nine years, dislocated his kneecap in Week 16 and he will be 32 at the start of next season.
With that in mind, the Giants need to start thinking about the future at the tackle position.
While Kevin Boothe was serviceable when Seubert was forced to move to center, it's hard to imagine him as a long term answer at the position.
Franklin could step in right away and contribute as a run blocker as well as a pass blocker.
Robert Sands, S
Robert Sands, a safety from West Virginia, is another player who could improve the Giants depth.
The team added both Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant last offseason, and while each contributed greatly, they could use more depth at the position.
Grant will be 32 years old next season and the Giants like to run a lot of packages that involve three safeties. Sands could step in right away and contribute as the third safety if the veteran Grant stumbles due to injury.
Sands is a bit long for a safety at 6'5", 221, but his low weight shows that he could add bulk and really contribute at the safety/linebacker hybrid position where Grant was used for much of the year.
He's a fierce tackler in the run game, though he's a bit of a gambler when the ball is in the air.
That being said, he would make a great addition to the defensive backfield as a safety who could play close to the line of scrimmage and support the linebackers.
Quan Sturdivant, ILB
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Much of the reason the Giants ran so many packages with three safeties was due to the fact that they had little depth at the linebacker position.
Sturdivant, the middle linebacker from North Carolina, is a prospect who could solidify one of the weakest positions on the Giants.
While he doesn't possess one skill in particular that jumps out at you, he's a well-rounded player who can play the pass as well as the run.
At 6'1", 221, he's a bit undersized but there is plenty of room to fill out his frame and his durability has never been a question. He's also built much like former Giants' star middle linebacker, Antonio Pierce.
He may not be ready to start right away in the NFL, but he could learn a lot being mentored by a guy like Keith Bulluck.
If the Giants were to take Sturdivant, he would be a welcome addition as someone who could provide depth and consistent production off the bench. He also has the potential to develop into a solid starting middle linebacker in the near future.
Mark Herzlich, OLB
Mark Herzlich, an outside linebacker for the Boston College Eagles, was considered to be one of the best linebacker prospects in college football after the 2008 season.
He seemed destined for NFL stardom. Until May of 2009.
He was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, causing him to miss all of that season. It was unclear if he would ever play again.
In 2010, he returned to the field and it almost seemed as if he never left.
He has the spirit of a warrior, though that may go without saying. He's a tremendous leader both on and off the field, and that may be his best quality.
That's saying a lot, considering just how productive he is on the field.
He's big and strong enough to take on any running back this side of Brandon Jacobs, and his skill in pass defense should be noted as well.
He plays with excellent instincts and it's clear that he studies the game and knows it well.
Herzlich is cancer free and ready to enter the NFL Draft. He would be a huge addition to the Giants as a versatile outside linebacker.
Noel Devine, RB/RS
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While the Giants have adequate depth at the halfback position, Noel Devine, out of West Virginia, would be a welcome addition to Big Blue for multiple reasons.
He could challenge Danny Ware for the third running back position and he could contribute in the return game immediately.
The Giants had one of the worst return games in the NFL in 2010 and Devine's quickness and agility would suit him perfectly as a punt returner.
He's undersized at 5'7", 177, and while he will never be an every down back, he can contribute in the screen game as well as the return game.
Devine could even line up in the slot and play a utility position for the Giants on offense, much in the same way that the New England Patriots use Danny Woodhead.
Due to questions about his size and durability at the NFL level, look for Devine to be taken in the later rounds.
Stefen Wisniewski, C
If the Giants don't address their needs on the offensive line in the first round, look for them to target Penn State's Stefen Wisniewski in the middle rounds of the draft.
Wisniewski projects as a center, but he's shown the versatility to play all along the line in college. He would be the perfect addition as he would add depth at every position.
Both his father and uncle had careers in the NFL; he's a got a great pedigree and admirable work ethic.
He's a three time academic All American, and he was named to the athletic All American team in his senior season.
Shaun O'Hara battled injuries this season and Wisniewski could serve as his protege.
He's been battle tested for four years in the tough Big Ten and he's ready to take his talent to the next level.
Ricky Stanzi, QB
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Ricky Stanzi, while not projected to be a franchise quarterback, would address a depth need at the quarterback position for the Giants.
With the new concussion rules in effect, it's never been as important to have a solid back up signal caller. While Sage Rosenfels filled that role this season, he's not getting any younger.
Stanzi's got adequate size and strength and he's a natural leader. He was a team player all four years at Iowa and he deserves a look in the NFL.
Though his decision making has come under question, the ability to read defenses can be taught at the NFL level, especially to a player as smart as Stanzi.
He has the arm strength to make the throws and he could step in immediately as a back up to Eli Manning. Stanzi could be taken in the later rounds by the Giants.
Shaky Smithson, WR/RS
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And finally, we have Shaky Smithson from Utah.
Smithson is considered a fringe prospect, but his skill in the return game cannot be denied.
He led all of major college football in punt return average at 16.8 yards per return and he could contribute immediately in that respect.
He's undersized at 5'11", 202, but he would not be asked to do much in the passing game.
The Giants' struggles in the return game have been well documented, and if the Giants don't address that need in the early rounds, they could take Smithson late.
Mike Osterberg is a student at Penn State University and Featured Columnist for the New York Giants. Follow him on twitter @Mike_Osterberg.