After a 9-7 season in 2012, and losing some free agents in 2013, the New York Giants can go in several directions in this April’s NFL Draft. Though there are many positions that need attention, don’t expect Jerry Reese to stray from the norm in the first round this year.
Since 2007, the year Reese took over as the general manager, the Giants have taken a defensive back three times, a defensive end, a wide receiver and a running back in the first round of the draft. Despite the team needing a linebacker in many of those instances, Reese has rarely looked for one early. The only linebacker the Giants selected before the fourth round was Clint Sintim, and he was a colossal failure.
So when Mel Kiper Jr. had Manti Te’o from Notre Dame going to the Giants in the first round in his most recent mock draft, I was confused. While the film (outside his poor performance in the championship game) certainly dictates Te’o being a first round selection, I don’t see why Reese would all of a sudden change his draft strategy, especially when there are positions of greater need.
The Giants signed Dan Connor as a free agent this season, who is expected to compete with Mark Herzlich for the starting middle linebacker spot. Herzlich has come along nicely and Connor is a veteran with plenty of experience. The Giants are confident these two can take over for Chase Blackburn, who signed with the Carolina Panthers.
Prior to the fake girlfriend fiasco, I was certain Te’o would be a top 10 pick in the draft. His draft stock has since fallen after a poor performance at the NFL Combine and questionable behavior off the field. While he’s still worthy of a first round pick, the Giants should go in another direction.
Defensive tackle, defensive end, interior offensive lineman or safety should be of greater concern than a middle linebacker. Reese was spotted at LSU‘s pro day this week, no doubt scouting the many defensive players that could go in the first round this season. Barkevious Mingo (DE), Sam Montgomery (DE), Eric Reed (Safety) and Kevin Minter (LB) could all be first round picks.
I’m willing to bet the Giants take a defensive end with their first pick as that position is incredibly deep. Ezekial Ansah and Bjoern Werner will likely be gone by the 19th pick, but I could see the Giants taking LSU’s Montgomery, Alex Okafor from Texas, DaMontre Moore from Texas A&M or Margus Hunt out of SMU.
Te’o was one of the few defensive players in history to draw serious Heisman consideration. He will be a good pro, but it’s not worth it to the Giants to ignore other positions of greater need.