NFL Draft 2011: Players the New York Giants Will Watch in Round 1
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Tom Coughlin, Jerry Reese and the New York Giants have their work cut out for them to improve a team that went 10-6 last season and missed the playoffs. The Giants have a number of positions they can improve upon.
Barring trades, the Giants will only be able to meet one of their needs in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft.
The Giants will be looking for help at linebacker, tight end and all along the offensive and defensive lines. Some of these needs will have to be addressed in free agency, but the Giants will use their first-round pick to address at least one of these positions.
These are the players whose progress the Giants' draft team will likely be tracking through the first round.
Mike Pouncey (OG, Florida)
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Pouncey played as a defensive lineman at Florida during his freshman year. His sophomore year, he moved over to the offensive side of the line.
It is his versatility along the offensive line that will force general manager Jerry Reese and the rest of the Giants' scouts to give Pouncey a long look during the draft.
Pouncey translates to the NFL as a guard, although he did play some center in college. The brother of Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey, Mike will allow Tom Coughlin flexibility at any interior line position.
Guard Rich Seubert and center Shaun O'Hara have dealt with numerous injuries in recent years. A young guy like Pouncey could rejuvenate the Giants' offensive line.
Anthony Castonzo (OT, Boston College)
With Kareem McKenzie and David Diehl aging quickly, the Giants could use a younger body on either side of the offensive line. What Pouncey could do for the Giants interior line, Castonzo could do for the exterior.
Castonzo was the first true freshman to start on Boston College's offensive line in 10 years when he first came into school. He has good quickness for a lineman and can get out in front of tosses and throw blocks downfield on screens.
While he will not overpower every defensive lineman he faces, he is normally quick enough to stay in front of his man.
Corey Liuget (DT, Illinois)
Sure, the Giants seem pretty set along the defensive line. But since when has that stopped the front office from drafting a defensive lineman early in the draft?
While Chris Canty and Barry Cofield are both young, solid players, the Giants wouldn't mind having another big body to clog the middle of their defensive line.
Liuget showed flashes of brilliance in college in 2010, but did not play with consistency throughout his career. Liuget will be able to track down opposing running backs and put a beating on them with bone-crushing hits, and while his pass-rushing is not dominant, he should get a lot of tipped passes at the line.
Kyle Rudolph (TE Notre Dame)
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Giants fans love Kevin Boss because of his heroics during their Super Bowl run after Jeremy Shockey went down earlier in the season with an injury.
The fact of the matter is, he is only an average tight end and the Giants might not even re-sign him next season. Boss dropped nearly one-third as many balls as he caught this season.
Rudolph is primarily a receiving tight end. He's got speed that can burn most linebackers and his route-running and build give him an edge against safeties. He would be a welcome addition to a Giants attack that struggled mightily on third-downs.
Akeem Ayers (LB, UCLA)
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The Giants have lacked a truly dominant outside linebacker since Jessie Armstead left the team in the early 2000s. Akeem Ayers could be the next in a tradition of great Giants linebackers.
Ayers was first team All Pac-10 and a finalist for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker. Ayers is a heady player with a nose for the ball. In order to shed NFL blockers, Ayers will have to work to get stronger at the next level.