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2014 NFL Draft: 5 Late-Round Sleepers The New York Giants Should Target

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5 Late-Round Gems The New York Giants Should Target In The 2014 Draft

New York Giants NFL Draft Sleepers
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The late-round picks of every NFL Draft will never disguise themselves as anything that could break your franchise. General managers tend not to view these rounds as opportunities to immediately fill any need on offense or defense. Instead, there are three different routes that make the most sense when it comes to targeting a player in the late rounds. You should target a special teams ace, a workout wonder or a player who has dropped simply due to off-field concerns that you deem will not fester again in the future.

In the past, New York Giants’ general manager Jerry Reese has focused his late round picks on a mixture of all three options. At his best in 2007, Reese drafted Kevin Boss in the fifth-round and Ahmad Bradshaw in the seventh-round. Boss had great measurables, but was coming from a small school, and Bradshaw had ample talent but had off-field concerns after being kicked off of the Virginia football team.

Reese was immediately anointed as a genius by even the casual Giants’ fans, and it spawned a motto amongst the obsessed fans, “In Reese We Trust.” Since 2007, Reese has struggled to find any late-round gems. The closest thing that he has found that fits any of the criteria mentioned above was when he drafted Andre Brown in the fourth-round in 2009. Brown is a name known by most Giants fans, but he has already been placed on injured reserve multiple times, cut by the team once before, and he has never put together a fully healthy and productive season.

In between, his misses include many prospects who were productive college players that lacked the skill-set needed to become productive players in the NFL. These misses seem to be concentrated at linebacker, with guys like Phillip Dillard, Bryan Kehl, Greg Jones and Jonathan Goff all fitting the criteria.

Without further ado, the following slideshow features five late-round prospects who can help the Giants in a variety of different ways and areas of need. The list goes in order from worst (five) to best (one) overall prospect.

Dan Schneier is a New York Giants writer for Follow him on Twitter @pff_dansc, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network through Google.

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5. Tevin Reese

Tevine Reese NFL Draft
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You would be hard-pressed to watch one Baylor game without noticing Tevin Reese for at least one play. Reese is an explosive prospect who can take the top off of a defense — something the Giants attempted and failed to add last offseason by signing Louis Murphy. At just 5-foot-10, 163 pounds, Reese might take some time to develop into a wide receiver at the NFL level. However, with 4.46 40 speed and great lateral agility, he can serve as an immediate upgrade at punt returner — a need that the Giants have been looking to fill since the 2010 season.

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4. James White

James White NFL Draft
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James White does not possess any elite skills, but he is a great fit for any team looking for a running back who can play right away. This is exactly what the Giants need after being forced to choose between street free agents and a raw seventh-round rookie at running back in 2013. At Wisconsin, White handled third-down duties and excelled in pass protection whenever he was on the field. White has quick feet, better burst than given credit for, and is a decisive runner who understands his blocking. He is also a plus receiver out of the backfield.

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3. Antone Exum

Antone Exum NFL Draft
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Cornerbacks from Virginia Tech do not have the best history when it comes to transitioning to the NFL. In 2012, the Giants drafted Jayron Hosley, who has not made an impact yet for the team. However, each prospect is different, and very few cornerback prospects offer more upside than Antone Exum. Despite being the third-heaviest cornerback at the Combine, weighing in at 213 pounds, Exum ran one of the better 40-yard dashes — clocking in at 4.59. At just a hare under 6-feet, Exum has the size and speed combination to match up with the NFL’s bigger wide receivers.

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2. Joel Bitonio

Joel Bitonio NFL Draft
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The Giants used one of their 60 allotted interviews at the NFL Combine to take a closer look at Joel Bitonio. Bitonio played tackle at Nevada, a school not known for much when it comes to football, aside from producing Colin Kaepernick. When you add that to concerns about Bitonio’s transition to the NFL at the tackle position, you see a prospect who projects somewhere in the fourth or fifth round range. The Giants don’t necessarily need him to play tackle, however, and many believe he will be a very successful guard at the next level.

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1. Christian Kirksey

Christian Kirksey NFL Draft
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Although Christian Kirksey had a productive collegiate career, he hasn’t received much buzz yet in the draft community. Maybe this has to do with the conference he played in, as we have seen several linebacker prospects from the Big Ten drop in past drafts such as Sean Lee, Navarro Bowman and Paul Posluszny. All three of those prospects have gone on to reach varying high degrees of success at the NFL. Kirsksey compares best to Lee in many ways, as I mention in my full scouting report. The Giants will need to target him in the third or fourth round.