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NFL New York Giants

2014 NFL Draft: New York Giants Need To Focus On The Trenches

Taylor Lewan Michigan

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft is upon us, and the New York Giants have a number of holes to fill this weekend. While plenty of people think the Giants should add weapons to surround Eli Manning, they first need to find protection for Manning to get the ball to his playmakers. They also need to replace the position in the defensive line that was hit most during free agency.

For too many years, the Giants have relied on a group of offensive lineman that was breaking down with age. Last season, Justin Pugh became the first offensive lineman drafted by the Giants in the first round in 13 years. Because of the long gap between offensive linemen being drafted, there is a glaring lack of youth and flexibility in that unit.

If the Giants are fortunate enough, having a player such as Michigan’s Taylor Lewan drop to them at 12 would be the best option. It is hard to envision the Giants trading up in the draft, but if one of the top tackles including Lewan, Auburn’s Greg Robison or Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews fall, a case could be made for the Giants to move up and snatch one of their guys.

Any of the three would instantly improve the Giants’ offensive line, as the additions made in free agency cannot alone make up for what was the weakest unit for the team last season. Infusing some youth and athleticism into that group would be hard to argue against.

On the other side of the ball, the defensive line saw the biggest losses in free agency. Justin Tuck left to join the Oakland Raiders, and Linval Joseph signed with the Minnesota Vikings. The only addition they made to replace them was signing Robert Ayers, so taking a defensive lineman early on would make sense as well. Not to mention Jason Pierre-Paul has not been productive in two seasons, and losing that much talent around him will only make things more difficult.

The target for defensive linemen should be Aaron Donald of Pittsburgh. Donald had a monster season and career with the Panthers, finishing it off with multiple awards in his final season with the team. He is shooting up draft boards currently, and could go as high as eight to the Vikings. If the Giants get a chance to take him, they have to jump at it.

Losing Joseph was a big blow, and the Giants need to get some more talent next to Pierre-Paul. There are also major question marks at defensive tackle, as only Jonathan Hankins is under contract beyond this season.

While adding weapons for Manning would be a nice luxury to have, the Giants need to replenish the trenches, where football games are truly won. It would not be surprising to see the Giants take linemen of either variety with their first two, if not three, picks in the draft this weekend.

Kenneth Teape is a New York Giants writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @teapester725, “Like” him on Facebook, or join his Google network.