New York Giants Draft Needs: Offensive Line, Linebacker Top The List

-- The NFL Draft will be held April 28-30 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City -- See Big Blue View for complete New York Giants' coverage -- See SB Nation's Mocking The Draft for complete draft analysis and information

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Giants' Draft Preview: Safety

In his end of the 2010 season press conference New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese specifically addressed his disappointment with the team’s safety play.

“We have to make more plays on the back end. We gave up too many explosive plays on the back end of the defense and we’ve got to get that corrected,” Reese said.

The Giants surrendered 10 pass plays of 40 yards or more in 2010 — only seven teams gave up more. Question is, what do they do about it? Reese spent tons of money on free-agent safety Antrel Rolle a year ago, and 2008 first-round pick Kenny Phillips returned from a knee injury to play every game in 2010. Plus, there was veteran Deon Grant.

So, do the Giants need better players? Or, do they just need better play from the guys they have? Most likely, the latter.

If the Giants address the safety position in the draft they will likely be looking for a “box” safety, a guy who can play down at the line of scrimmage in passing situations. Grant often filled that role in 2010 and he may leave via free agency — leaving a hole in Perry Fewell’s defensive scheme.

Analysis: This is said to be a weak safety class, but it would hardly be a surprise if the Giants try to add depth here — especially in the later rounds.


Giants' Draft Preview: Cornerback

Over at Big Blue View I speculated recently that if the New York Giants were to do something ‘outside the box’ in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft on Thursday night that might be to grab Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith with their selection at No. 19.

Do I really believe that is what General Manager Jerry Reese will do? Probably not. Most likely he looks at his draft board and takes the best available lineman — offensive or defensive — on the board when the Giants’ turn comes.

Cornerback, though, is an area the Giants should not ignore if a player they really like is available.

New York’s starters are Terrell Thomas and Corey Webster, neither of whom had a great year in 2010. The third corner is Aaron Ross, who has never lived up to his first-round selection (20th overall) in the 2007 draft.

Beyond that, the Giants had a revolving door of cornerback/kick return specialists or guys who were primarily on the roster to play on special teams coverage in 2010.

Analysis: At worst, the Giants could use some depth at this spot. At best, finding a guy who can be a No. 1 corner would dramatically change the back end of the Giants’ defense.


Giants' Draft Preview: Linebacker

The linebacker position always seems to be an issue with the New York Giants. A team with a glorious history at linebacker, the Giants have not drafted an impact linebacker since grabbing Jessie Armstead in the eighth round of the 1993 NFL Draft.

In recent years the Giants have not really ignored the position, but neither have they often invested their top picks in trying to find impact players at the position. Gerris Wilkinson was a third-round pick in 2006, and he has never made an impact. Zak DeOssie was a fourth-round pick in 2007, and he is now strictly a long-snapper. Bryan Kehl, a fourth-round pick in 2008, was released last season and is now with St. Louis. Fifth-round pick Jonathan Goff is the team's starting middle linebacker, though a weak pass defender. In 2009, the Giants spent a second-round pick on outside linebacker Clint Sintim -- a move that has yet to pay dividends. In 2010, middle linebacker Phillip Dillard was taken in the fourth round and outside linebacker Adrian Tracy in the sixth. Neither of those players has yet had an opportunity.

Fans have been clamoring for the Giants to invest a first-round pick in a linebacker, something they have not done since taking Carl Banks way back in 1984. Will this be the year? That does not seem likely. Giants General Manager Jerry Reese historically drafts for value rather than positional need, and has promised to follow that philosophy again in the 2011 NFL Draft.

That would indicate the Giants would be unlikely to reach for UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers in the first round. If Ayers falls to the second round he could be in play, as could Washington linebacker Mason Foster and North Carolina's Bruce Carter. Other linebackers who could intrigue the Giants later in the draft include K.J. Wright of Mississippi State, Doug Hogue of Syracuse and Colin McCarthy of Syracuse.

Analysis: The Giants seem to have de-valued this position in recent years. They seem likely to add to the mix if the right player is available to them, although Reese has also expressed a desire to see more of Sintim, Tracy and Dillard.


Giants' 2011 Draft Preview: Defensive Line

The New York Giants are famous for stockpiling pass-rushing defensive ends, even when it looks like they don’t have any place for them to play. The theory always is ‘you can never have too many pass-rushers.’

This is why the Giants drafted Justin Tuck (3rd round, 2005), Mathias Kiwanuka (1st round, 2006) and Jason Pierre-Paul (1st round, 2010) even when it seemed they had no place for them to play.

Scott Wright of Draft Countdown recently said the Giants hit a “home run” with Pierre-Paul.

"The early indications are that guy’s gonna be a stud. I think they probably hit a home run with that. If he fulfills his potential that’s a grand slam. He’s going to be one of the best players to come out of that draft if he fulfills his potential."

With JPP blossoming, Osi Umenyiora still playing at a high level. Tuck being in his prime and Kiwanuka likely returning from a neck injury it would be stunning to see the Giants do defensive end again in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. This, though, is the Giants and you never say never when it comes to General Manager Jerry Reese grabbing defensive ends who can rush the passer.

What would not be stunning at all is to see the Giants try to bolster their defensive tackle rotation. Barry Cofield can be a free agent and his return to the Giants is a major question. Rocky Bernard has never played up to the contract he signed a couple of seasons ago. Linval Joseph, a second-round pick in 2010, is untested. Thus, this position could well be in need of reinforcements.

Corey Luiget of Illinois [full profile] is a player the Giants could target. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell raved about him at the Illinois Pro Day. Another is Muhammad Wilkerson of Temple [full profile] who has the size, athleticism and versatility the Giants like in their defensive linemen, and has been rising up draft boards.

If the Giants pass on these players in the first round I think it is a pretty safe bet that they will look for value and try to find a player they can add to their tackle rotation at some point in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Analysis: Depth is needed, a draft pick seems likely.


Giants' 2011 Draft Preview: Offensive Line

If you follow the New York Giants at all you know that the offensive line is an area of concern for this football team, quite possibly biggest area of need as the 2011 NFL Draft approaches.

The offensive line has been a strength of the Giants for several years now, and the veteran group of David Diehl (LT), Rich Seubert (RG), Shaun O’Hara ©, Chris Snee (RG) and Kareem McKenzie (RT) has been together since the 2007 Super Bowl season.

Now, though, there are age and injury concerns. O’Hara is coming off a pair of surgeries to his foot and ankle. Seubert suffered a major knee injury at the end of last season and had surgery. There are questions about whether Diehl can still play left tackle, and whether either Shawn Andrews or Will Beatty can handle the position. McKenzie is an excellent run blocker, but a 10-year veteran in the last year of his contract. The Giants need to find a long-term replacement at right tackle.

General manager Jerry Reese and coach Tom Coughlin have both mentioned offensive line, particularly the interior of the group, when talking about draft concerns. That puts Florida offensive guard/center Mike Pouncey on the Giants’ radar. The Giants have also been connected to many of the first-round offensive tackles on the board, most often Anthony Castonzo of Boston College and Gabe Carimi of Wisconsin.

The Giants have shown interest in Villanova offensive tackle Ben Ijalana among other offensive linemen.

Other highly-regarded linemen who could interest the Giants on the second day of the draft include center Stefen Wisniewski (Penn State) and Rodney Hudson (Florida State) and offensive tackle Marcus Cannon of TCU.

Analysis: The Giants drafted tackle Will Beatty two years ago and guard Mitch Petrus a season ago. They need to continue bringing in young offensive linemen. I would not be surprised if they use two of their eight selections to bolster this group.

— For a complete list of players the Giants have shown interest in, including offensive linemen, see Big Blue View.


Giants' 2011 Draft Preview: Tight End

Do the New York Giants need to draft a tight end in the 2011 NFL Draft later this month? If so, do they need to use an early pick on an all-around, every-down type tight end? Do they need to use a late-round pick on a guy who would be a pure blocking tight end?

The answers to all of these questions depend on -- what else? -- the answers to other questions.

Do they expect incumbent tight end Kevin Boss, who can be a free agent, to come back? Do they want him back? I think the answers are yes and yes, but if they are not then that likely puts the Giants in the market for a tight end in the early portion of the draft.

If Boss is back there is still a question about a second, or third, tight end. The Giants could really use a mauling blocker as a backup tight end. Travis Beckum will never block well enough to be more than an H-Back type. Bear Pascoe could be that guy, but he spent most of last season at fullback after Madison Hedgecock went down with an injury.

Do the Giants draft a fullback and move Pascoe back to his natural tight end position? That seems logical, and it seems as though indications are that is the tentative plan. If they leave Pascoe at fullback they likely need to use a late-round choice in an effort to find a block-first tight end.

Analysis: Something needs to be done here.

Kevin Boss' 2010 Stats

Receiving Kickoff Returns Punt Returns
G Rec Yds Y/G AVG Lng TD KR YDS AVG Lng TD PR Yds Avg Lng TD
14 35 531 37.9 15.2 54 5 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0


Giants' 2011 NFL Draft Preview: Wide Receiver

The New York Giants are seemingly well-stocked at the wide receiver position heading into the 2011 season. They certainly appear to have plenty of players to choose from for what most likely will be six receivers on the season-opening roster.

Topping the list are Hakeem Nicks, the 2009 No. 1 pick, who caught a team-leading 79 passes in 2010, 11 for touchdowns. Next is Mario Manningham, who caught 60 balls and emerged as a big-play threat, scoring nine touchdowns and averaging 15.7 yards per catch.

Next there is Steve Smith, who set the Giants single-season record for catches in 2009 with 107. He is third on the list here only because of questions about his health following micro-fracture surgery on his knee.

Then the Giants have Ramses Barden, Domenik Hixon (returning from knee surgery), Derek Hagan and Duke Calhoun. They also have Victor Cruz, who spent most of last season on injured reserve, Michael Clayton and Devin Thomas.

With all of those players, you would think the Giants would be set at wide receiver. Yet, after Nicks and Manningham there are questions about all of those players. From my view, in a big-play league it wouldn’t shock me if the Giants add a receiver to the mix if the right player is available to them in the middle to late rounds.

What might the Giants look for? Either a pure speed guy who might also be able to return kicks, or a precise route-runner who might fill the Smith role is SS12 does not make it back from his serious knee injury.

Analysis: If the value is there, the Giants will probably jump.


Giants' 2011 NFL Draft Preview: Fullback

As the 2011 NFL Draft approaches, fullback presents the New York Giants with an interesting choice. The decision they make will tell you a lot about where the Giants believe Bear Pascoe helps them the most.

Pascoe is a natural tight end who moved to fullback in 2010 when Madison Hedgecock’s season — and maybe his career — ended due to injury. Pascoe did a good job at fullback while learning the position on the fly.

The decision for the Giants? Leave Pascoe at fullback and look for a blocking tight end, the role Pascoe was originally supposed to fill and one the Giants missed in 2010. Or, bring in a fullback and move Pascoe back to his natural tight end spot.

There are several quality fullbacks available in this year’s draft, including Henry Hynoski of Pittsburgh [full profile], Owen Marecic of Stanford [full profile], Stanley Havili of USC and Anthony Sherman of Connecticut.

Perhaps the decision the Giants make later this month will be based on the value they see between the tight ends and fullbacks on the board in the later rounds of the draft.

Analysis: Something has to be done here.


Giants' 2011 NFL Draft Preview: Running Back

Ahmad Bradshaw can be a free agent, if and when there ever is a free-agency period this season. The New York Giants might be tiring of Brandon Jacobs’ act. D.J. Ware has never really shown the ability to step up and grab a significant role in the team’s offense, though the team has tried to give him one.

So yes, running back would appear to be an area the Giants would be well-advised to address this month in the 2011 NFL Draft. The question for the Giants, really, is how early to dive into the running back pool.

Alabama’s Mark Ingram is generally considered the player who should be the first running back taken in the draft, though his stock has been slipping due to concerns about a knee injury. I have seen Ingram connected to the Giants in some mock drafts, but that move seems unlikely. The Giants have not had great luck with first-round running backs (Ron Dayne, Butch Woolfolk, Jarrod Bunch, Tyrone Wheatley, George Adams), and there are a plethora of backs who carry second-day grades for the April 28-30 draft.

Grabbing someone from that second-day pool would hardly be a surprise. Mikel LeShoure (Illinois) and Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech) are often connected to the Giants.

Analysis: A position likely to be addressed.


Giants' 2011 NFL Draft Preview: Quarterback

Say what you want about Eli Manning, he is the New York Giants quarterback and will remain the guy the offense is built around for the foreseeable future. That means the Giants won’t be involved in the discussion for Auburn’s Cam Newton or any of the top quarterbacks who will likely be taken in the first two rounds later this month.

Does it mean, however, that the Giants would not consider taking a quarterback with one of their late-round selections. That is a different story.

The Giants have an acceptable veteran backup in Sage Rosenfels, acquired via trade from Minnesota prior to last season. They also have veteran Jim Sorgi, who spent last season on injured reserve.

New York also has youngster Ryan Perrilloux, signed to a reserve/futures contract out of the UFL as a developmental project.

Quarterback, then, would not appear to be a position the Giants would be likely to address in the draft, even though the National Football Post seems to disagree. The flip side is that General Manager Jerry Reese has always wanted to draft and develop a backup for Manning, and has tried and failed twice. He took Andre Woodson in the sixth round in 2008 and Rhett Bomar in the fifth round in 2009. Don’t put it past Reese to try again.

Analysis: Not a need

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