NFL New York Giants

5 Potential First Round Draft Picks for the New York Giants

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Potential First Rounders

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The New York Giants can now begin one of their most important offseasons in recent memory. They are coming off of a year where they lost their first six games and then clawed their way back into the playoff race only to be knocked back down for good. When all was said and done, the Giants finished the year at a disappointing 7-9, good enough for third in the NFC East. However, for a team that was in the playoff conversation prior to the season, it’s just not good enough.

With lots of talent and also loads of problems, the Giants must use free agency and the NFL Draft to seriously improve certain aspects of their team. New York has the staples they need at important positions on both offense and defense, and now must surround those players with more talent.

New York has never been a major spender in free agency, which places even more importance on the draft coming up in May. In recent drafts the Giants have focused less on what they need and more on the best player available. With some serious areas that need upgrades, like the offensive line and the pass rush, it will be interesting to see if New York decides to alter their plan or stick with what they’ve done in the past. Considering the fact that the Giants have missed the playoffs the last two seasons, we may start seeing changes made across the board. Here are five potential first round draft picks the New York Giants might select.

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Darqueze Dennard, Cornerback

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It’s unlikely that the Giants will draft a cornerback with their first round pick. The secondary was pretty good this past season and Prince Amukamara has really come into his own as the team’s top corner. However, if New York does want to draft someone to help Amukamara, Darqueze Dennard from Michigan State would be a smart pick. Dennard won the Jim Thorpe Award, which goes to the top defensive back in the nation. If Dennard is gone by New York’s pick and they really want to draft a cornerback, Justin Gilbert from Oklahoma State is another player they might consider.

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Anthony Barr, Linebacker

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The Giants haven’t drafted linebackers with early picks in the Jerry Reese era. Reese likes to focus more on pass rushing defensive lineman instead. However, the Giants needed to bring in Jon Beason mid-season to save their linebacker unit after a disastrous start. If UCLA’s Anthony Barr falls into the Giants' lap, they should snatch him off the board. Barr is considered one of the best pass rushers in the draft and could give New York an element they haven’t had in the recent past.

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Khalil Mack, Linebacker

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Another linebacker the Giants may consider is Khalil Mack from Buffalo. Mack recorded 28.5 career sacks and also forced 16 fumbles, which tied an NCAA record. Like Barr, Mack would elevate the linebacker unit and could turn it into one of the team’s best areas if New York can also re-sign Beason. Recent history tells us the Giants won’t take a linebacker but two straight years without a playoff appearance could change New York’s game plan.

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Mike Evans, Wide Receiver

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Eli Manning had his worst year since the nine games he played as a rookie in 2004. Besides for an awful offensive line, a big reason was the lack of production from his wide receivers. Hakeem Nicks is likely gone and the Giants will need a boost. Sammy Watkins from Clemson will probably not be on the board but Texas A&M’s Mike Evans could make for a good replacement. Evans broke a few of A&M’s receiving records en route to All-SEC honors. Manning certainly needs more weapons than the roster has to offer right now and Evans could make for a nice complement to Victor Cruz.

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Cyrus Kouandjio, Offensive Tackle

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

New York’s offensive line was so bad this season that offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride had to abandon anything that went down the field. Manning barely had time to breathe when he dropped back and suffered mightily because of it. The Giants spent their first-round pick on tackle Justin Pugh last year and he turned out to be one of the few bright spots along the line this season. If the Giants continue down this route and choose to fix their offensive line through the draft, Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio may be the right way to go. Although the Giants seem set on tackles with Pugh and Will Beatty (only because of the money invested there), they could move Kouandjio around or even play around with Beatty. With the way the line struggled this past season, nothing should be ruled out.