There is absolutely no question the New York Giants should be thinking about defense during this year’s NFL Draft. The Giants used two solid draft picks last year on offensive players when they drafted RB David Wilson out of Virginia Tech and WR Reuben Randle out of LSU. With the way the Giants’ defense performed in the 2012 season, they ought to use all of their picks on defense.
Which position should they target first, however? Their secondary was bad, constantly giving up big pass plays. CB Prince Amukamara and S Stevie Brown were the bright spots, as Amukamara showed progress toward being a shutdown corner. Brown caught eight interceptions filling in for S Kenny Phillips.
The Giants could use their first-round pick to get some secondary help. CB Corey Webster gave up so many big plays and he’s going into the final season of his contract. If he refuses to take a pay cut, he might be shown the door. Some of the top secondary prospects in this draft include CB Dee Millner of Alabama, S Kenny Vaccaro of Texas and CB Xavier Rhodes of Florida State.
The Giants were also incredibly weak at the linebacker position. Over the course of the year, the Giants didn’t seem impressed with the play of LB Michael Boley. His playing time was reduced, and he’s also going into the final year of his contract so he could be a cap casualty as well. The only impressive linebacker was LB Chase Blackburn. The Giants definitely need to shore up that position.
The top linebacker prospects include the controversial LB Manti Te’o of Notre Dame, LB Jarvis Jones and LB Alec Ogletree of Georgia, and Kevin Minter of LSU. Should the Giants use their first round pick on a linebacker to shore up that position and play better run defense? That option is certainly available as well.
The pass rush is another component that struggled all year. This is usually the strength of the Giants’ defense, so they’ll like to get this addressed as quickly as possible. DE Osi Umenyiora is on his way out the door. DE Justin Tuck has been ineffective for the past two seasons. DE Jason Pierre-Paul is the only effective pass rusher remaining.
The Giants definitely need to draft a pass rusher or two. The Giants have options they can reach at 19. DE Bjoern Werner of Florida State will most likely be gone at this point, but they still have DE Alex Okafor of Texas, DE Barkevious Mingo of LSU and DE Datone Jones of UCLA who may be available.
The Giants have a lot to think about. Luckily for general manager Jerry Reese, the combine in Indianapolis and pro days across the country have yet to begin. Reese has until April to make these decisions. In all likelihood, these decisions will probably be influenced by the status of Umenyiora, Webster and Boley.