John Fennelly, Lead Writer
The 2014 NFL Draft is loaded with talented young men and the Giants, selecting 12th overall, are in line to add several of them to their already revamped roster.
Since the mock draft season began in earnest after the Super Bowl, experts have mocked over two dozen different names to the Giants. But the facts haven’t changed since last season. The Giants need to upgrade at several positions, mostly on the offensive side of the ball.
So, which players can give the Giants the boost they so desperately need after their first losing season in nearly a decade?
If the Giants can come away with an impact weapon at TE or WR, an offensive tackle who can play immediately and another option to rush the passer this draft will be a success.
In Round One, they could be looking at one of seven players that fits one of these needs. WR Mike Evans of Texas A&M, TE Eric Ebron of North Carolina, WR Odell Beckham, Jr of LSU, OL Zack Martin of Notre Dame, OT Taylor Lewan of Michigan, Pitt DT Aaron Donald and UCLA OLB/DE Anthony Barr.
The buzz is the Giants like Martin over Lewan mainly for his versatility. He is practically a clone of last year’s top pick, Justin Pugh, who blended right last season starting all 16 games. Martin is a safe pick, and the Giants will have the training wheels on early in this draft. Jerry Reese didn’t sound as if he wanted to deal with Lewan and his off-field problems even if they clear up.
Ebron is an excellent big target who can get up the seam and behind the defense. He will help the Giants’ offense spread things out. The problem with Ebron is that he does not project as a complete TE because of his spotty blocking. When he is on the field, defenses will know the Giants are not likely to run the football. Jerry Reese gave his unproven TE group a vote of confidence the other day, so that may indicate he’s not leaning towards taking Ebron.
Evans is a sizable target, too, but evaluators are asking: Is he Vincent Jackson or Ramses Barden? Odds are he’s closer to Jackson, and for that reason he could be snatched up early on in this draft. Evans would take Hakeem Nicks’ role on the offense across the field from Rueben Randle with Victor Cruz in the slot. Whoa, I like the sound of that…
Beckham is a too much like Jerrel Jernigan at a quick glance. He’s got talent, but he would only add depth to the WR group, not sure if he makes them better. I don’t think he’ll be the pick, so I would expound any further on his virtues.
Donald has been mocked by many to the Giants, although he is not necessarily a fit for them and he’s a bit smaller than the average DT. But….he’s got a great motor and can get pressure up the middle. He’s also very durable and highly productive. The Giants have a rotation system at DT, so taking a player that could potentially play only half the snaps doesn’t seem to be a good use of the 12th overall pick in the draft.
Barr is not expected to be a Giant. I like him, though. Ernie Accorsi once said, “You can’t have enough pass rushers”. If placed solely at DE, Barr can be a productive player and become the insurance the Giants are looking for if JPP doesn’t return to prominence. Defense is still about getting the the passer, and Barr will be able to do that right out of the gate for Big Blue. I would have no problem if they took him, even though he’d likely be a situational player, too.
Of course not all of these seven players will be available when the Giants select. I believe they will play it safe in Round One and take a player that will acclimate quickly and help the club right away. My favorites: Martin and Evans.