The New York Giants 2009 Draft Board

Kyle LanganAnalyst IMarch 16, 2009

I have written several pieces regarding possible selections for the New York Giants come draft day, and the following one is a synthesis of all of those ideas.

I have no idea what player or what position Jerry Reese will covet most, but the following are players he is sure to covet.

I will let my stance be known regarding the Giants receiver situation. Many people and many mock drafts are forcing the selection of a wideout on the Giants. The only thing that selecting a wideout first overall does is bring in yet another unproven commodity at the receiver position when New York doesn't even know for sure whether Plaxico Burress will return.

At the outset of the 2008 season, Peyton Manning struggled because he was not in camp and wasn’t throwing to his guys. When Eli’s No. 1 guy goes down out of nowhere it can be tough to adjust on the fly, especially when the wind is blowing 30 miles an hour.

Nonetheless, Domenik Hixon showed signs of having the tools to be a good receiver in this league in the games he played in.

Regardless of the draft, the Giants need to continue to develop their current receivers and add new dimensions to their offense. Whatever position these new dimensions come from, they just need one to pair up with their current defense and go on a championship run.

1. Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina

Hakeem Nicks possesses some of the best tools of any receiver in this draft. He has great awareness of route running, and knows how to use his body very well. He has great run-after-the-catch ability, and showed to ability to absolutely take over a game this year against West Virginia.

Nicks may be able to come in and help this Giants team immediately, but if Burress returns, they may not need him.

Regardless, Nicks' tools are hard to ignore and he would surely provide a new dimension to the Giant offense. They lack a true run-after-the-catch receiver, and a receiver who can effectively run every route in the playbook.

Best NFL Comparison: Anquan Boldin

Selection Chances- 1:4 

2. James Laurinaitis, MLB, Ohio State

I know about all the Bobby Carpenter comparisons, but they are unfair. Laurinaitis came in and filled in effectively for Carpenter when he was hurt and Laurinaitis was only a freshmen. Carpenter was always an over-rated prospect, but Laurinaitis is about where he should be.

He slid down the board a lot from last season, but he remains very technically sound, good in traffic, and plays with sideline-to-sideline speed (regardless of 40-time).

As for his role with the Giants, he can come in and compete for the strong-side job this season, while eventually sliding to the middle with the departure of Antonio Pierce (which I hope is sooner rather than later). He would be asked to do the same thing he did at OSU, which is fight through traffic and make the tackle, as the Giant linemen would eat up majority of the blockers.

Best NFL Comparison: Kirk Morrison

Selection Chances- 1:4 

3. Darius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland

After running the fastest 40 at the NFL Combine, “DHB” saw his stock rise dramatically. He was an explosive playmaker at Maryland, and was used in any way that could get him touches (reverses, screens, etc.).

Speed is always appreciated in today’s NFL offenses, but DHB’s one issue is how his game will translate to the NFL. After having success running gadget plays in college, will he be able to run a full route tree in the NFL with success? Will he see the same success with the gadget plays in the NFL?

For the Giants, Heyward-Bey may be just who they are looking for in terms of a wideout who can be a threat to catch the ball downfield and draw the safeties' attention.

Unfortunately, DHB may be a stretch at the 29 slot, as there are some very wideout- hungry teams who select well before New York. A trade up is always possible, but is Reese totally sold?

Best NFL Comparison: Randy Moss

Selection Chances- 1:8 

4. Rey Maualuga, MLB, USC

A monster playmaker at USC, Maualuga was the heart of one of the nation’s best defenses. Maualuga is a hard hitter, has great instincts, knows how to knife into the backfield, and is a great blitzer. He takes on blocks very well, and has a passion for the game.

His draft stock has been all over the map after tearing a hamstring at the combine, and also has a history of off-the-field issues.

Maualuga could bring a great tenacity and passion to the Giant linebacking core not seen in years. Like Laurinaitis (but a lot better), he could fight for the strong side job now, then slide into the middle when Pierce leaves. 

Best NFL Comparison: Ray Lewis

Selection Chances- 1:10

5. Percy Harvin, WR/RB, Florida

Regardless of position, Harvin is a playmaker from wherever he lines up. He took a lot of snaps from the backfield, as well as at flanker.

His NFL career will be determined by how well he is used and in what system. He is a playmaker without a doubt, and whatever team that picks him up would be wise to get him involved early and often.

The Giants offense needs someone who can take it to the house, wherever they line up. Down the stretch in the 2008 season, the Giants offense lacked a threat to beat teams for six points on a given play. With that in mind, opponents stacked the line of scrimmage in an effort to stop the Giants rushing attack.

Best NFL Comparison: Brian Westbrook

Selection Chances- 1:8 

6. Clint Sintim, OLB, Virginia

A big, prototypical outside linebacker, Sintim was a terror of pass rusher and playmaker in general at Virginia.

His draft stock has been up and down, and has taken a dip as of late. He could be a legitimate option for one of the Giants' two second-round picks.

What Sintim brings is a spectacular set of physical tools to the Giant outside linebacker spot. He can take on blockers, blitz, and drop into coverage. Converting from a 3-4 may cause a learning curve for him though. 

Best NFL Comparison: James Harrison

Selection Chances- 1:12

7. Knowshon Moreno, HB, Georgia

I fully understand that the Giants have a full stable of running backs, but if Brandon Jacobs gets injured, things will begin to look a whole lot worse real quick.

Ahmad Bradshaw is a stud and the Giants rode him in the 2007 postseason, but I have my doubts as to if he can carry the rock 30 times a game. Bradshaw is also currently in jail, and it has been said that he gained weight and looked slow toward season's end (that kick return in the playoffs should have been a touchdown as well as that run against Baltimore).

With those things considered, Moreno has the vision, quickness, and versatility to become a Pro Bowl running back. His production at Georgia speaks for itself, and he could bring a home-run threat to the Giant offense. 

Best NFL Comparison: LaDainian Tomlinson

Selection Chances- 1:16

8. Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State

Many believe that the Giants absolutely need a receiver if they hope to succeed in 2009. The issue with their opponents' strategy in 2008 was that they brought an extra safety down to the line of scrimmage to defend Brandon Jacobs. Mainly this was because they did not respect the Giant passing game in general.

The tight end position sees a higher success rate in terms of immediate contributions and this position could be the one that the Giants look to for respect in the passing game.

Pettigrew is far and away the best tight end available. He’s big, blocks extremely well, and he goes up for the ball in traffic. He could team up with Kevin Boss to make for a dangerous two-tight end set.  

Best NFL Comparison: Jason Witten

Selection Chances- 1:16

9. Brian Cushing, OLB, USC

The Giants' only need on defense is strong side linebacker, and Cushing is naturally just that. He was a tenacious player at USC, but still has a lot to learn mechanically speaking. Regardless, he has great attitude and the physical tools to succeed.  

A North Jersey Native, I get the feeling that Cushing would play lights out for Bug Blue, but his stock has really risen since The Senior Bowl. It may be tough for the Giants to get their hands on Cushing, but everyone of these names is in play for a trade up.

Best NFL Comparison: Julian Peterson

Selection Chances- 1:16 

10.   Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech

Hear me out on this one. Johnson is 6'7" and ran a 4.49 and Georgia Tech’s Pro Day. He is a physical freak beyond measure.

The idea with Johnson is that he would play strong side linebacker and rotate down into the dirt at times. Johnson has the range and the speed to cover tight ends and receivers and he is a monster pass rusher.

New defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan will certainly have fun coming up with plays for 3rd-and-long situations with the likes of Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Chris Canty, Mathias Kiwanuka, Michael Boley, and Johnson on the field.

Best NFL Comparison: Julius Peppers

Selection Chances- 1:8


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