I’ll assume you already know a thing or two about the NFL draft and spare you the clichéd phrases that usually begin these articles.
Now, on to the good stuff. Instead of pinpointing a player in each round that the New York Giants will get, I’ll lay out their needs in the draft, as well who they should target with their picks and—more importantly—who they should avoid.
The Giants have the have the 19th spot and possess a pick in each round outside of the fifth, with two extra compensatory picks in the sixth.
We’ll begin, of course, with the first round. To be honest, I really hate the Giants' position in this draft, although I think have that feeling going into every draft.
The Giants most pressing need is for a strong side linebacker. The Keith Bullock experiment failed so miserably last season that Giants’ defensive coordinator Perry Fewell often opted for an odd formation featuring three safties and only two linebackers.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any linebacker prospects worth the No. 19 pick in the first round. All of the linebackers with a first-round grade are hybrid defensive ends more suited to a 3-4. The Giants have tried this conversion before with Clint Sintim, and that has failed to produce anything fruitful thus far.
Akeem Ayers is a player a few have tabbed as a possible selection for the Giants in the first round. Personally, I would avoid Ayers at all costs. Ayers was recruited as a DE, and to be honest, that is the position where he should have stayed.
Ayers was fantastic for UCLA while rushing the passer, but was rarely visible on the field without his knuckles in the dirt. He rarely dropped into coverage and struggled when asked to do so. On top of that, Ayers is a terrible—I mean absolutely horrible—tackler and has way too much trouble shedding blockers.
If the G-Men can’t grab their linebacker in the first round, where should they look? Many have called for an upgrade of the offensive line, and for good reason. I don’t want to say the Giants’ O-line is old, but they are certainly heading towards the tail-ends of their primes.
Heading into next season, the Giants are looking at a starting five (left to right) of Shawn Andrews, David Diehl, Shaun O’Hara, Chris Snee and Kareem McKenzie. Rich Seubert, who had a knee procedure very similar to microfracture surgery in the offseason, is likely to miss the beginning of next season. The Giants also have Will Beatty, Kevin Boothe, Mitch Petrus and Adam Koets ready to step in from their backup roles.
(Note: I’m assuming another “final league year” is going to be in place for 2011. This means another uncapped year and six years to unrestricted free agency. So the assumption is for very little free agent movement. Boothe and Koets stay.)
I have to ask, where does a rookie offensive lineman fit in to this rotation? Any tackle drafted would certainly have to wait his turn in line behind the veterans on the team, much like what Will Beatty has encountered thus far in his young career.
I’m not saying Beatty deserves to start, but he certainly hasn’t been given much of a chance. Do you realize how much better Beatty would have had to perform than Diehl in last year’s “battle” for the left tackle spot? There’s no way a healthy Diehl wasn’t starting.
The only tackle I would consider taking at No. 19 would be Tyron Smith, who, despite his physical gifts, would still need to be groomed into a left tackle. The Giants could afford to be patient with Smith, but unfortunately, there’s no chance he’s available when the Giants select.
The next group of tackles—Anthony Castonzo, Nate Solder and Gabe Carimi—all possess tremendous size, but lack the top-end lateral quickness to defend the edge. Castonzo, the smallest of the three, seems like the best fit for the Giants as a heady player with a great first step (and don’t forget the BC connection here), but he could still add some strength and size while improving his footwork.
I feel that the Giants, with their stock of veterans on the edge of the offensive line, could afford to wait to grab their left tackle of the future, as next year’s draft class is loaded with top-tier talent at the position.
Another big name attached to the Giant’s pick at 19 has been Florida guard Mike Pouncey. It was very clear that the Giants were better without O’Hara snapping the ball last season, as both Seubert and Koets seemed to anchor the line much better. Pouncey could eventually slide over and start at the center spot.
Will Mike Pouncey be available at No. 19?
The problem with Pouncey, just as with Smith, is his availability at 19. His twin brother Maurkice was selected at No. 18 last year, and with Maurkice’s success as an immediate starter for the Steelers, Mike will likely be taken before the Giants have a chance to grab him. The Lions, Dolphins, Jaguars and Patriots, who all pick ahead of the G-Men, are scheduled to meet will Pouncey.
So if Smith and Pouncey are taken by the time the Giants are on the clock, where do they look?
I won’t talk much about the possibility of Mark Ingram here, as I believe the Giants are smart enough to wait for later rounds to address the need at running back. Ingram is a solid, but not overly exceptional, running back. I don’t believe he—or any running back—should be selected until the latter portion of the second round.
Some have suggested the Giants look at Muhammad Wilkerson or Corey Liuget with the 19th pick to address the need at defensive tackle. However, I don’t see much of a need there. The potential departure of Barry Cofield has some worried, but with the labor situation it is likely he will return with the team.
Cofield has expressed a desire to be traded instead of working under another one year deal, so this situation is certainly tricky. Even if Cofield leaves, a DT drafted this early on would still have to wait his turn behind Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard and the very promising youngster Linval Joseph.
My suggestion? Trade back.
Unfortunately, no players can be traded without a collective bargaining agreement in place (or Cofield would certainly be packing his bags), so the Giants must swap picks.
Here’s what I’m thinking: Trade our first and sixth pick to the Bears for the 29th and 62nd picks. The Bears have a desperate need for a tackle and would be able to leapfrog the Eagles, Chiefs and Colts—who are all in the market for a tackle—to grab the player of their choice with the Giant’s pick.
The Giants may have to sweeten the deal a bit by adding a future late-round pick, but Bears GM Jerry Angelo is certainly no stranger to moving around in the draft and may listen to the proposition.
Now the Giants, with picks 29, 52 and 62, have a buffet of players available to them who can fill both a need and be the best available. At 29, I’d like to see the Giants go after Brandon Harris.
Harris is a player that I feel has been severely overlooked by pundits. He got off to a slow start in the pre-draft process, declaring late and missing several chances to showcase his skills. Some may feel that corner is not a need for the Giants, but I have to disagree. Aaron Ross can’t stay on the field and Corey Webster has regressed; the Giants need another corner badly.
Even if you think Webster and Terrell Thomas are solid, just take a look at the latter part of last year’s first round. Three teams—the Jets, Patriots and Saints—all took corners with two starters already in place. A team needs three solid corners to defend in this increasingly pass-happy league.
With the 52nd pick, the Giants should take a good, long look at OLBs Bruce Carter and Mason Foster. Both were very impressive in college and I can’t see the Giants waiting to address the strong side linebacker spot any longer. Out of the two, I prefer Foster, as Carter’s balky knee worries me. A little training camp competition at that position will be nice to see, as Philip Dillard and Adrian Tracy, along with this pick, will all be looking to claim a spot on the field.
At No.62, the Giants should look to address their interior offensive line. Danny Watkins, Marcus Cannon and Orlando Franklin are all solid prospects at the guard position who could be available around this pick. I like the large but nimble Cannon—who could make a move to RT down the line—the most out of the three, but many other teams might feel the same and snatch him before No. 62. If Ben Ijalana falls this far, I would love to see the Giants look at him as well.
The third round would be a good place to start looking at a running back—Shane Vereen and Jordan Todman look very attractive at this spot. Brandon Jacobs won’t be effective for much longer and Ahmad Bradshaw cannot shoulder the load by himself. Vereen and Todman are both very explosive runners built in the same mold, and either one would be a nice third option out of the backfield next season.
Now that we’re into the third day of the draft, the Giants can start looking for potential more than need.
The Giants would be wise to take a chance on a player like Virgil Green, if he is available. Green would be a fantastic weapon to add to Eli Manning’s arsenal. Kevin Boss can’t continue taking punishment for much longer and Travis Beckham doesn’t appear like he could block a kicker; the Giants need an upgrade at the tight end position.
If Green is gone by this pick (which is increasingly likely after his combine performance), the Giants should again look to address the gaping hole that is their secondary. Last year’s third round pick Chad Jones may never play football again, Deon Grant may not return, Kenny Phillips’ knee still worries me and Antrel Rolle has been exposed for his colossal lapses in coverage. Shiloh Keo or Marcus Gilchrist (there’s talk he can convert to safety) could be great picks at this spot.
With their remaining two picks in the sixth and one in the seventh, the Giants should look for improvements to their dreadful special teams unit in the form of a return man. A backup quarterback and fullback could also be useful this late in the draft. They will most likely look for hidden talent this deep in the draft, and I can only hope their scouting goes deeper than mine.
The Giants were eight minutes—even one damn tackle—away from the NFC East crown and a playoff berth last season. The team is loaded with talent and will be expected to contend again this season. If the Giants continue their tradition of solid drafting and can restock their roster, they will set themselves up for another run at a championship.
Feel free to mock my Mock, as competitive banter is (almost) always enjoyable.