John Fennelly, Lead Writer
I love mock drafters and speculators who feel confident they know who the Giants will select in the upcoming NFL Draft. I know it’s fun to guess, but the truth is, the Giants are unpredictable. The first round is full of surprises and, over the years, the Giants have been one of the teams providing those surprises.
Most mockers make the mistake that the Giants draft out of need. The record shows they don’t normally do that. On occasion, the selection intersects or coincides with a need, but that is not the team’s mantra or goal come draft day.
They take the highest player on the their board. Their board, mind you, looks a lot different than one might think. In fact, if we were ever to get a glance at it, we might find ourselves somewhere between baffled and downright angry.
That’s a story for another time, however. With the No. 12 pick in this year’s draft, the Giants will take the best player that falls to them. At least, that is what GM Jerry Reese has told us every year since he’s been here – ‘we take the highest player on our board.’
Unless that player is a linebacker. The Giants haven’t drafted a LB in the first round since 1984, when they took Michigan State’s Carl Banks.
Now, the chances are that a linebacker has not been high enough on their board since then for them to take. Then again, an NFL team going thirty years without drafting a LB in the first round is unfathomable. That trend is going to continue this year, I’m afraid.
The Giants will not be selecting a LB in the first round this May. Here’s why…
The Giants employ their base 4-3 defense on less than 50 percent of the snaps. Translation: It’s five defensive backs, two LBs and the front four. In the final weeks of the season, the Giants abandoned their 4-2-5 only when they played the run-centric Seahawks, and then still only had three LBs on the field 48 percentof the time.
In Week 16 against the Lions, the Giants deployed three safeties on all 85 defensive snaps. They don’t value linebackers in DC Perry Fewell’s scheme. And now that they have a solid MIKE in Jon Beason, that plan should not change. Hence, the loading up of defensive backs this offseason.
That being said, if the Giants were to draft a LB in Round One, he’d have to: a) be an excellent 4-3 LB that is strong against the run and the pass or b) an OLB that can play most snaps with his hand in the dirt.
Will there be a player at No. 12 that fits those skill sets and is the best player available? Probably not.
Jadeveon Clowney will be gone. He’s a DE, anyway. Khalil Mack projects as an OLB in a 3-4. Should he fall to the Giants, they would have to change their scheme to fit his skills. UCLA’s Anthony Barr is listed as an OLB, but 4-3 teams would use him as a DE. That includes the Giants.
As far as I see, there are no other ‘linebackers’ worth selecting at No.12, so the streak will continue. Alabama’s CJ Mosley might be the only player I see the Giants diving after. At 6’2″, 234 Mosley is actually a quasi-DB. He’s got good cover skills and is quick to the football.
That being said, there will be too many other good football players for the Giants to choose from to take a shot at Mosley.