5 Prospects New York Giants Should Target in 2015 NFL Draft

Kevin Boilard@@KevinBoilardCorrespondent IJanuary 9, 2015

5 Prospects New York Giants Should Target in 2015 NFL Draft

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    Missouri DE Shane Ray might be a first-round option for the Tigers.
    Missouri DE Shane Ray might be a first-round option for the Tigers.Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    This spring, the New York Giants will add a new class of rookies to the roster. 

    The only question: Which ones?

    After winning only six games this past season, the Giants pick ninth in the 2015 NFL draft. Each of the following slides will highlight a different draft prospect New York should target with that pick. Also included on each slide is a projected second-round option at the same—or similar—position as the first player.

    The Giants can only come away with one of these five first-round options. They have a hole or two along the offensive line. With some defensive changes on the way, a playmaker on that side of the ball would be nice. Maybe New York abandons these needs altogether and goes with the best player available, regardless of position.

    Examine the possibilities that lie ahead, and share what you wish the Giants would do in the comment section below.

OT Brandon Scherff, Iowa

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    This year's draft class differs drastically from the class two years ago, which saw three offensive tackles come off the board in the first four picks. The first-round tackle talent in the 2015 draft class is sparse, especially near the top.

    The Giants, however, project to be within arm's reach of this year's finest tackle.

    Iowa's Brandon Scherff is the eighth-ranked overall prospect, according to B/R draft expert Matt Miller's Top 50 big board. Going back to last July, though, Miller considered Scherff a potential No. 1 overall pick in 2015. New York would be lucky to land him with the ninth pick.

    While the Giants may have their eye on him for now, Scherff is an athletic freak who could shoot up the draft board with a strong showing at the NFL Scouting Combine. If that's the case, another offensive lineman may not be in range of New York's first-round pick.

    Frustrated with the state of the current O-line, many fans would love to see Scherff somehow become a Giant on the last day of April.

    Second-Round Option: OT Ereck Flowers, Miami

    If the Giants miss on Scherff, they may still be able to pick up a nasty mauler in Miami's Ereck Flowers. He clearly lacks early first-round athleticism, but Flowers is a tough, technically sound blocker who battled back from knee surgery during the 2014 season to miss only one game.

DE Shane Ray

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last year, the Giants gave new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo a shiny new toy in wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

    They should be just as generous to whomever the new defensive coordinator is in 2015. How does Missouri pass-rusher Shane Ray sound as a young, defensive weapon to build around?

    Miller ranked Ray the second-best defensive end in the 2015 draft, right after Nebraska's Randy Gregory. The draft expert didn't classify Ray as an ideal fit for the Giants, but that could change by the time the NFL Scouting Combine rolls around.

    The biggest challenge for Ray may be to add a little mass between now and the draft. At 245 pounds, he's slightly undersized for a 4-3 defensive end. A larger frame will help Ray build a more respectable pass-rushing arsenal, so that he's not just a speed-rusher in the NFL.

    New York needs some bite back on its defense, and the 2014 SEC Defensive Player of the Year (14 sacks, 21 tackles for a loss) could be just the player to provide it.

    Second-Round Option: DE Eli Harold, Virginia

    Ray has that unique explosion off the line, but Virginia's Eli Harold can be very effective if the Giants choose to wait until the second round to address the pass rush. Harold, who plays the run well, is a more prototypical fit for a pro-caliber 4-3 defense (which we don't even know will be New York's base defense in 2015).

SS Landon Collins, Alabama

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Spending a top-10 pick on a strong safety isn't the sexiest selection, but it's one Giants fans can get behind if it's Alabama's Landon Collins.

    Collins is the best defensive back in the 2015 draft class, and Miller ranks him the seventh-best prospect overall. Unlike Ray in the previous slide, Miller believes Collins is a perfect fit for the Giants. After giving up 13 passing plays of 40 yards or more a season ago (tied for seventh most in the NFL), New York's secondary would welcome any young addition.

    The truth is Collins will require some development in his pass defending. He's already a vicious run defender who is never hesitant to come up and make a play near the line of scrimmage. With some help from a new defensive coaching staff, Collins can become a complete safety for the Giants.

    Veteran Antrel Rolle is nearing free agency. If he's not retained, Collins would be a sensible replacement to team up with cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a healthy Prince Amukamara in New York's defensive backfield.

    Second-Round Option: FS Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss

    There's a major drop-off at strong safety after Collins, but the Giants can target a sightly different athlete in free safety Cody Prewitt. If New York is truly more concerned with its pass defense than its run defense, picking Prewitt a round later is probably the smarter decision.

OLB Shaq Thompson, Washington

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Giants caught some rare luck when they drafted a linebacker, Devon Kennard, in the fifth-round last spring. Perhaps they'll double down on the position and select a first-round linebacker for the first time since Carl Banks was picked in 1984.

    If they do, Washington's Shaq Thompson is the likely candidate.

    Thompson, ranked ninth on Miller's big board, might be the most versatile athlete in this year's draft. Although he's entering a year early as a linebacker, Thompson saw significant time at running back at Washington, carrying the ball 61 times for 456 yards last season (7.5 yards per carry). 

    Altogether, Thompson scored six times in 2014: one by interception return, two by rush and three by fumble return.

    Is there anything Thompson cannot do?

    New York is inclined to find out.

    Second-Round Option: ILB Denzel Perryman, Miami

    Thompson (6'2", 231 lbs.) is a little undersized and may look more like a safety next to NFL-sized athletes. If the Giants are turned off by this lack of girth, taking Miami's Denzel Perryman (5'11", 242 lbs.) a round later may be a safer pick. Perryman is a thicker, instinctive and exciting inside linebacker that welcomes contact.

WR Amari Cooper, Alabama

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Maybe the Giants ignore all of their major needs and, instead, further bolster one of their strongest offensive units—wide receiver. Young playmaker Beckham Jr. could use a partner in crime. After all, Victor Cruz is no lock to return next season, and Rueben Randle isn't the most consistent of contributors.

    Alabama's Amari Cooper would make an awesome addition to Eli Manning's passing arsenal.

    Cooper is the draft class' third-best prospect, according to Miller's ranking. With few receivers even in the vicinity to challenge him, there's a good chance Cooper's long gone by the time New York picks. But should he fall, Big Blue will have a tough time becoming the ninth team to pass on him.

    Last year's draft class was ripe with wide receiver talent, as five were selected in the first round. Yet Miller thinks Cooper is right up there with last year's elite grouping, ranking him ahead of Beckham and right behind Tampa Bay's Mike Evans. A 2014 season with 71 catches, 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns makes it hard to argue.

    What say you, Giants fans: Would Cooper's playmaking ability be worth passing on pressing needs?

    Second-Round Option: TE Maxx Williams, Minnesota

    If they wait until the second round, the Giants can address a need and add a pass-catcher by drafting a tight end. Minnesota's Maxx Williams, the best player at his position in this year's draft class, will likely be there waiting when New York picks a second time. Williams has all the tools to become one of the NFL's most consistent pass-catching tight ends.


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