The Giants will select twelfth in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft and will be at the mercy of the eleven teams in front of them. Normally, they would take who falls to them and move on.
But this year, there is an usual abundance of talented players. This draft goes several rounds deep so at No. 12, they will be getting more than just a talented player. They’ll be getting a difference-maker.
Our colleague Michael Cohen takes a guess at some of the difference-makers the Giants could have a chance to select in Round One:
Five Players That Will Be Gone By the time select at No. 12…
Jake Matthews, Greg Robinson, (OT) – Top tier left tackles go early.
Sammy Watkins (WR) – The top wideout on the board will certainly be gone.
Jadeveon Clowney (DE) – Don’t believe the haters – he’s got freakish athletic skills and will go in the top five.
Khalil Mack (LB) – Incredible three-down linebacker who can rush the passer. He’ll be long gone at 12.
Players that could be gone by 12 that make no sense for the Giants…
Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel (QB) – I must admit that I’m not 100 percent sure that all three of the Big Three will be gone by 12. All of the Big Three have question marks. Teams seem to be reaching less for QBs lately. It’s a reasonable bet that Jacksonville and Cleveland will take a QB with their picks. Will famed ex-defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer take the plunge in Minnesota? Will Houston really pass on one of the elite defenders to draft a QB that is not a surefire top 10-15 NFL QB? I’m not convinced. If one of the quarterbacks slips to 12 (and beyond), that means that another player in the Group of Seven below will be taken ahead of the Giants.
The Group of Seven: the remaining elite players that might be around for the Giants (that make sense)
Taylor Lewan (OT) – I’m not sure about his recent criminal charges but, at present, given his clean record, I’m willing to guess that it won’t be a major hit to his draft stock. If Lewan is available at 12, I’d be thrilled to see the Giants pick him. Pairing him with Pugh would give the Giants a solid pair of linemen for the next 10 years.
Eric Ebron (TE) – I’m not sure that this is the most exciting pick at 12. Ebron has talent but unless he reaches Gronkowski/Graham levels of production, you are not going to get as much production out of a tight end as you will a top tier wideout. Of the 24 1,000 yard receivers last year, only 1 (Graham) was a tight end. And let’s face it, with Ebron, you are drafting a receiver who can block a little, not a mauling blocking TE who is also a great receiver. I’d be fairly surprised to see the Giants draft a tight end here but he’s been mocked to the Giants so I’m including him.
Mike Evans (WR) – Big, strong, good speed, played very well against top competition, he’s a great pick here. Not so much because he has the highest upside of the top receivers other than Watkins but because his floor is much higher. I’d be thrilled to see him paired with Cruz and Randle.
Aaron Donald (DT) – Honestly, if he is as good as his billing, this would be my favorite pick. Why? Getting a defensive tackle who can rush the passer is like getting green vegetables that taste like steak (you have to have veggies, but don’t generally expect them to taste that great). Defensive tackles are supposed to be big slow guys who plug up the middle and stop the run. If you can get one that can rush the passer, it’s a gift. Defensive tackles are generally blocked by big and slow guards and centers; if you have a fast defensive tackle, you create huge matchup problems. Adding Donald would be a huge help to an otherwise-anemic Giants pass rush. Putting him on the same side of the line as JPP on passing downs would create matchup nightmares for defenses.
Anthony Barr (LB) – The Giants don’t generally draft linebackers in the first round because they focus on generating a pass rush from the defensive end position. Having said that, Barr has a tremendous combination of quickness, strength and speed and would instantly help the Giants’ pass rush. Is he still learning the game? Yes. But he’s a guy who is still learning the game who had 13.5 sacks in 2012 and 10 in 2013 against elite competition. He should be able to learn to play strong side linebacker on run downs and move down to end in the NASCAR formation on passing downs. Assuming the Giants could modify their schemes to utilize him, this could be a great pick. Also, please recall that Paysinger and Williams are free agents after 2014, so the Giants will need to fill some holes at linebacker.
Darqueze Dennard, Justin Gilbert (CB) – The Giants are stocked at corner in 2014 but only 2 of them are signed past 2014 (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Trumaine McBride). The Giants will need a second corner in 2015 and beyond and grabbing another top cornerback would create an elite tandem in the Giants’ secondary for several years.
John Fennelly, Lead Writer
Lewan seems to be a safe pick that no one can really critique considering the shape of the offensive line after last season.
Ebron has also created a groundswell. The Giants need a TE and he’s the top one on the board. It’s almost a no-brainer when you think about it.
You know how we feel about Mike Evans. His presence in the Giants’ offense could be the key to the castle. A pitch-and-catch playmate for Eli. He could be the NFL’s next great impact receiver, which leads me to believe he won’t be around at 12.
Donald is another no-brainer. A guy that could become the glue to their defense. He would give the Giants a solid backbone up the middle of the field along with Jon Beason and the solid safety group.
I would safely say the back seven of the defense will not be addressed in the first round. Some see the Giants taking Anthony Barr, but unless they realign their defensive scheme to feature his abilities as a pass rusher, I don’t think it’s a good idea (see Clint Sintim).
Both of those corners are excellent prospects, but the Giants just signed DRC, Thurmond and McBride so I doubt they would take them over any of those other players.