Breaking down the draft: Giants add valuable depth

Sam Spiegelman

A tradition like none other: the Giants turning heads with their draft class.

The Giants had seven picks in this weekend’s draft, adding depth to a number of key positions, including offensive and defensive line, running back and the secondary. Of course, a position that remained untouched was linebacker.

From the top:

Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse

The most common names linked to New York at 19 were Alabama tackle D.J Fluker, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant.

So in true Big Blue fashion, the G-Men went with the less-hyped Justin Pugh, the future starter opposite incumbent Will Beatty at offensive tackle.

Though Pugh is not the sexy pick — he’s not a former national champion nor a well-known skill player, but it’s a good fit at a position of need. The team’s line is aging, quickly, and Pugh’s versatility will allow to fit in at numerous positions right away.

Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

Probably the more curious pick was drafting Johnathan Hankins out of the Ohio State University.

The team signed Linval Joseph, Cullen Jenkins, Shaun Rodgers and Mike Patterson to deals this off-season, so Hopkins likely will take the time to sit and learn behind the veteran tackles.

The Giants always place a higher importance on the trenches, so it’s not a shock they addressed depth and the future of the tackle position in the second round.

Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M

A bargain in the third round, former Aggies end Damontre Moore will be a welcomed addition to the Giants pass rush.

Osi Umenyiora is gone, and questions remain about Justin Tuck’s future with the team. And though Mathias Kiwanuka is returning to the defensive end spot, there is no guarantee he’ll remain there for the length of the season.

Moore does have off-the-field issues; he was arrested for possession of marijuana in 2011, but I’m sure if Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese have faith in him it’s for good reason.

Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse

Another particularly peculiar selection, the former Orange signal-caller was coveted by the quarterback-hungry times — yet the Giants, blessed with Eli Manning at the helm, chose to trade up for the local college standout.

The Giants had some complications re-signing backup David Carr this off-season; Nassib could be an insurance policy, but also a developmental project as Manning ages or perhaps suffers an injury.

Not only does drafting Nassib give the Giants a talented young backup, but like Matt Flynn while in Seattle or (let’s use the time machine) Matt Schaub in Atlanta, coveted backups have trade value.

Having a capable backup is essential in this league now. It couldn’t hurt to upgrade the position; it was just a shock because it was the Giants.

Cooper Taylor, S, Richmond

Rich-whaaa. Sorry.

After losing Kenny Phillips to the Eagles, the Giants re-signed RFA Stevie Brown to a one-year contract. If the two sides don’t agree to an extension before next season, perhaps Taylor is the long-term fit opposite of Antrel Rolle.

Taylor, a former outside linebacker at Richmond, can immediately slide into the third safety role formerly occupied by veteran Deon Grant. Perry Fewell’s defense often uses this scheme in its pass defense, and Taylor’s frame and athleticism gives the Giants an upgrade in defending tight ends and bigger wideouts.

Eric Herman, OG, Ohio

Another addition to the offensive line, Eric Herman is a big specimen (6-foot-4, 320 pounds) who the Giants used the terms “tough” and “physical” and “nasty” to describe.

The Giants could have used this pick to select a cornerback or a linebacker, but instead showed their desire to bulk up their offensive line. Keep in mind Kevin Boothe and David Diehl are expected to hit free agency after this season.

Michael Cox, RB, UMass

Again, it may have been wise to add to the linebacking corps, but depth at running back is always key with the Giants.

Cox rushed for 715 yards last season with the Minutemen, but at 6 feet and 214 pounds, he offers a big-bodies back for the Giants going forward, especially given the uncertain future Andre Brown may have with the team after this year.

With David Wilson, Brown, Da’Rel Scott and Ryan Torain on the roster, the team appears more than set at the running back position. He’s a bit of a project, especially without a lot of experience, but could eventually emerge as the third running back.

Undrafted Free Agents

The Giants added five undrafted free agents over the weekend, including Virginia Tech S Alonzo Tweedy, Ohio State LB Etienne Sabino, LSU TE Chase Clement, Charleston Southern DB Charles James and Mount Union LB Charles Dieusel.

Two linebackers and two defensive backs were signed, as well as some depth at the tight end position. You would have thought there would be a greater need to address these positions in the draft, but perhaps the Giants know something we simply do not.

A former Buckeye, Sabino is athletic but did not impress too much in college. He, too, is more a project at this point. Dieuseul played at a smaller school — in Mount Union — but showed his defensive prowess by earning MVP honors at two different positions.

James finished with the Charleston Southern record for interceptions in a single season, twice earning FCS All-American honors at corner. Tweedy, at this point, looks like a special teams player.

In Clement, the Giants get a blocking tight end who can likely act like a sixth offensive linemen, bolstering its short-yardage and goal-line unit.

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