Giant Draft Guide
By Allen Kim
With the 2013 NFL Draft only days away, New York Giants GM Jerry Reese still has a lot of prep work to do for an intriguing but not particularly strong draft class. He’s known for his approach for taking the best player available in the draft, and it gives a few hints at who they make select with their first pick this Thursday.
The New York Jets just shook up the draft after adding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ first-round pick in the Darrelle Revis trade. This move could potentially have a major impact on how the draft plays out after the Jets pick again at No. 13, and Reese’s draft board may look very different when the Giants are set to pick at No. 19 as a result of the trade.
The Giants’ first pick will likely dictate their strategy for rounds two through seven. Here's a look at their needs, potential fits and strategy for the 2013 draft.
Top Needs: Cornerback, linebacker and offensive lineman.
It goes without saying that the Giants' secondary was one of the team’s most glaring weak spots last season. While there are some good pieces scattered about, it’s tough to put a lot of faith in the group as a whole. There are a number of cornerbacks with first-round grades, but at least two are likely to go before the Giants pick at No. 19. However, if recent history is any indication, the Giants may go with another cornerback in the first round.
However, even worse than the team’s secondary is their linebacking corps. Any one of the team’s starting positions at linebacker is up for grabs, and this is by far the Giants’ thinnest position. The team put an emphasis on improving their run defense this offseason, and it makes sense on several levels to plug up the middle to improve it even further.
While the Giants' offensive line was one of the best last season, they’re an aging unit and the future of this group looks bleak the way it’s currently composed. They may have locked up Will Beatty to anchor the left side, but the rest of the group is either nearing the end of their careers or working off of one-year deals.
Secondary Needs: Defensive end, defensive tackle and safety.
At first glance, the Giants appear to be set at defensive end with Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck manning the outside. However, when you look at their production from last season, questions start to arise. It doesn’t help that Tuck is coming off a bad season and in the final year of his contract, and it only makes sense that they start thinking about finding Tuck’s eventual replacement. But it’s not time to go into full blown panic mode and prioritize the defensive end position above cornerback or linebacker.
The Giants made a number of moves this offseason to upgrade the interior of the defensive line, but a lot of them are temporary solutions that are not assured beyond this season. If a talented prospect — particularly one that’s versatile enough to play either position on the defensive line — falls down the draft board and lands in their lap, expect Reese to pounce on him as a potential anchor for the future.
After losing Kenny Phillips to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Giants could be looking to fill out at safety with both of their current projected starters not under contract beyond the 2013 season. Not something to expect, but don’t be surprised if they pick up S Kenny Vaccaro with their top pick if he’s available.
Potential First-Round Picks (not listed in any particular order)
1. LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Ogletree comes with off-the-field issues — which could potentially be exacerbated being in a city like New York — and plenty of questions about his character, but there’s no denying his talent as one of the top inside linebackers of this class.
It would be tough to pass up on this 6-foot-2, 242 pound athletic freak at No. 19. However, many have questioned his maturity, and he doesn’t seem like the type of player the Giants would draft. With strong leadership to follow, he could perhaps live up to his potential and turn in a great career at linebacker — but that’s contingent on the Giants taking a risk on him.
2. CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
Widely considered to be one of the top cornerbacks behind Dee Milliner, the Giants could use an imposing, physical corner like Rhodes. Standing at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Rhodes could be used in a variety of packages and as a safety, too.
Rhodes would add another element to the Giants' defense. The problem is that he may not be available when No. 19 is called, but they should take a long, hard look at him if he is.
3. CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
Trufant may not be as big as Rhodes, but he has everything that you want in a cornerback: he’s great in man-coverage, has the speed to match up with some of the quickest receivers in the league and has good all-around size for his position. He's often considered to be one of the top five cornerbacks available in the draft, and he would be a solid addition to the Giants secondary.
4. DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
The Giants can never have enough pass-rushers, and a lot of signs point toward a defensive end potentially being their top pick. At 6-foot-3, 266 pounds, Werner is one of the most talented ends in the draft, and he would potentially fall in line with Reese’s M.O. of taking the best player available depending on how the draft shakes out.
5. OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama
With all of their holes on defense, it would be tough to imagine the team taking anyone on the other side of the ball. However, the Giants are undoubtedly looking to get younger along the line, and Fluker would be a solid pick that could be available by the time they’re on the clock.
Fluker’s projected position in the NFL is still up in the air, and he could end up being weak at tackle but fantastic at guard along the offensive line. There’s no denying his abilities, and it would be tough to see him falling much further than this.
Second Round And Beyond
If the Giants address arguably their biggest need and select a linebacker with their top pick, it opens up a lot of options for the remainder of the draft. And if they don’t choose a linebacker on the first day, they may end up choosing two of them in the early- to mid-rounds of the draft.
Expect an offensive lineman as their next pick at No. 49 if they go defense in the first, regardless of position. Protecting Eli Manning will always be a priority, and the team needs to start planning for the future of their O-line.
There are a lot of quality defensive backs — both at corner and safety — available in the draft, and the Giants could wait until the second or third round to find a suitable prospect depending on the direction they take on Thursday night. New York has spent a number of early picks on defensive backs over the years, but this time they may wait until their third pick at No. 81 to choose one.
New York has one of the best tight end coaches in Michael Pope, but they’ve used a lot of rentals over the years. They signed Brandon Myers in free agency, but he’s not much of a blocker and that could very well limit his snaps. Adrien Robinson is an intriguing player to watch, but the jury is still out on him, and they may decide to gamble late on a prospect they like.
The Giants don’t necessarily need a running back, but they could use the added depth. Finding a late-round pick that could fill in as an injury replacement and for return duties on special teams is certainly a possibility.