Giants set to face several scenarios in draft

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

SNYGiants insider Ralph Vacchiano believes the Giants should focus on upgrading the offensive line in this Week’s NFL Draft rather than select another weapon at WR in the first round.

It’s not an implausible scenario. In fact, some in the NFL can envision at least one of the top two receivers — Alabama’s Amari Cooper or West Virginia’s Kevin White — slipping into the Giants’ lap. And if they do, several Giants sources insisted drafting yet another receiver will get strong consideration.

But Giants general manager Jerry Reese must resist. This is the time and the draft to focus on the offensive line.

Most Giant fans would be frothing at the mouth if Cooper or White were still on the board at No. 9 when the Giants select. There will a hot debate in the Giants’ war room, but cooler heads will likely prevail. If Brandon Scherff is still on the board, the Giants should not let him get away. If he is not, then they can take a WR and count their blessings.

With several teams looking to move into the Top 10 this week, the Giants may end up finding themselves in a position to trade up or down. ESPN’s Dan Graziano believes the Giants are no longer in need of quantity in the draft and are focused more on quality this year. Moving up for the right player might be the thing to do…

I believe the Giants should stay on their toes if a defensive difference-maker such as Leonard Williams or Dante Fowler Jr. slips past the top four or five. Trading up for a player like that makes sense, as long as the price is reasonable, and my information indicates that the Giants are thinking about it. The issue is that Williams looks like Oakland’s top choice at No. 4 and Fowler looks like Washington’s top choice at No. 5. So it’s unlikely the Giants could offer either of those teams enough to convince them to pass on the player they love and move all the way down to No. 9. But drafts are unpredictable, as we are reminded every year at this time. And while it’s a long shot, the Giants are right to be doing their work on Williams, Fowler and what it might take to get them. 

In other news, QB Eli Manning, who is entering the final year of his contract, told reporters that “nothing has been brought up in regards to an extension or new deal (Raanan, Apr 26).

Mel Kiper Jr. predicts Giants nab Brandon Scherff in the first round

ESPN NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. predicts the Giants will select former Iowa offensive lineman Brandon Scherff in the first round of the 2015 draft next week.

Scherff, an offensive tackle by trade, is expected to make the move inside to guard for some teams, depending on where he winds up.

Kiper also projected New York to address its need at safety in Round 2 in the form of Eric Rowe (Utah), and linebacker in Round 3 with Shaq Thompson (Washington).

Sam Spiegelman

Safety, linebacker and offensive line were three of the five biggest needs we broke down for the Giants entering the 2015 draft.

Scherff is the top-rated offensive lineman in the class, and can be a starter ahead of Jerry John at left guard.

Rowe helps fill the voids left by Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown, who both left via free agency in the offseason.

Thompson, a projected first or second-rounder, is a steal in the third round. He played linebacker, safety, and running back for the Huskies, but can help the Giants’ need at outside backer.

Schedule Analysis: Will The Giants Be Over .500 By Their Bye Week?

Sam Spiegelman

The Giants open the 2015 regular season with a rigid schedule, which includes games against three divisional foes, five road games and a Week 10 showdown with the defending Super Bowl champions.

And that’s all by their Week 11 bye.

Based on 2014 records, the Giants’ first 10 games of the season are against teams that went a combined 82-76. That includes the Cowboys twice (12-4), Falcons (6-10), Redskins (4-12), Bills (9-7), 49ers (8-8), Eagles (10-6), Saints (7-9), Buccaneers (2-14) and Patriots (12-4).

So will Big Blue be over, under, or at .500 by the bye?

The Giants have two matchups against the defending NFC East champions. In 2014, the Cowboys swept the season series and won the games by a combined 13 points. Overall, Dallas has won five of its last six against its rivals from New York.

The Giants then host Atlanta and Washington Weeks 2 and 3, teams that combined for 10 wins a year ago. The Giants will see Dan Quinn in his second game as the Falcons’ head coach. Last season, New York defeated Atlanta, 30-20, at MetLife Stadium. As for division rival Washington, the odds favor Big Blue, which swept the series in 2014.

Buffalo will host the Giants in Week 4. The much-hyped Bills — now under the leadership of Rex Ryan — are one of the preseason darlings in the NFL after adding LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin, Charles Clay and retaining Jerry Hughes. The question is who will be starting under center for this team.

The 49ers roll into MetLife Week 5, but not the 49ers teams that we’ve come to expect under Jim Harbaugh. Another Jim — Tomsula — is now at the helm, and he’s working with a defense that’s lost a handful of key cogs that made the unit so successful the past couple of years. Offensively, the team is without Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree, but added speedster Torrey Smith to try and help out Colin Kaepernick as he aspires for a bounce-back season.

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Bigger, stronger Pugh prepared for any role this year

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Don’t let them fool you. Most NFL players tune in to the draft. Although they have their name on a contract, there’s always a possibility their current team is looking to replace them.

Giants OL Justin Pugh will be especially interested in the team’s first round pick. Many experts are predicting the Giants will take an offensive lineman with the 9th overall selection next Thursday. The favorites are Iowa’s Brandon Scherff and Stanford’s Andrus Peat. Either would be inserted at right tackle, the position Pugh currently plays.

“I am definitely going to pay attention,” Pugh told reporters Thursday. “I want to see who we get. I am excited. We are going to get a guy in here who is going to help us win games and that is the biggest thing. We have another good pick, which obviously means we didn’t do what we had to do last year, so hopefully we will be able to get this guy in here and get him up to speed and get all those guys in here and up to speed and allow them to contribute down the road.”

Pugh, the Giants’ top pick in 2013, said he was drafted to play any position and is willing to shift from tackle to guard and even welcomes the potential selection of Scherff.

“I like the kid from Iowa, just from what I have seen,” Pugh said without a hitch. “He seems like a tough kid. I have watched a few games on him and that is someone I would like to play to with.”

That is because Pugh, like many of the great Giants linemen of the past, is willing to sacrifice for the good of the team. He cited the recent championship combination as one that learned to play together regardless of their individual roles.

“I think if you look at every single Giant offensive line since it’s been here, when we won Super Bowls. The David Diehls, obviously Chris Snee played right guard the whole time, but the David Diehls of this world who moved from guard to tackle to left tackle and won a Super Bowl playing left tackle – no one thought he could do that. I think that something that, if you don’t have that mentality in that offensive line room, you’re not going to be successful. You have to have versatility.”

Pugh doesn’t have a lot of leverage when it comes to where he’ll play this season. His versatile background makes him the prime candidate to be shifted around. Also, after a strong rookie season, his performance at RT slipped a tad in his sophomore campaign. He said he learned a lot from the experience.

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NFL Draft: Reese divulges little about Giants targets

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Last year at this time, Giants GM Jerry Reese said he had no particular player in mind as the NFL Draft approached. Reese said the team will take the best available player with the 12th overall pick.

As it turned out, Reese did have a particular player in mind, LSU WR Odell Beckham, Jr., and he just happened to fall to the Giants in the first round. Beckham was the Giants’ man all along, we were told afterward.

Well, here we are again. Reese held his pre-draft presser Thursday morning and basically sounded like a broken record, though he does have an idea of who he wants.

“I think you always have a good idea, but it is always unpredictable,”  Reese said. “You never know what is going to happen. You can look up and some of those quarterbacks they think are going to be in the first couple picks could be – not off the board until 15 or 20. You never know. I learned that a long time ago in the draft. Funny things can happen, so expect everything to happen.”

When pressed on what position he might be prioritizing in this draft, especially offensive line, Reese remained as cagey as ever.

“Every position,” Reese said. “We want to try and upgrade every position as best we can every opportunity we get. Offensive line won’t be excluded from that as well…we just look for good players. Good profiles…strong. Big, strong, fast and smart.”

Reese did comment on one of the top OLs in the draft, Brandon Scherff of Iowa, who many have mocked to the Giants in the first round. He was asked if Scherff would play guard or tackle if the Giants drafted him.

“I think he can play both, Reese stated. “I think he can play tackle and he can play guard. I think he can play somewhere…The coaches will have to figure that out.”

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