EAST RUTHERFORD,N.J. (AP) — Jerry Reese and the New York Giants are used to waiting in the first round of the NFL Draft.
It’s the price of success, and the Giants and their general manager are willing to deal with it, especially with two Super Bowl titles in hand over the past five seasons.
The only difference this time might be when the Giants make their pick. The draft doesn’t kick off until 8 p.m. on Thursday, so the Giants might have to wait until the wee hours to make the 32nd and final choice of the opening round.
But it’ll be worth sticking around for. After all, the champions have obvious needs at receiver, tight end and running back.
Whether they address those needs, of course, is uncertain. Reese, after all, believes in taking talent, regardless of position.
“You just wait and see if somebody is going to fall to you or if there is somebody you may be able to move up for, that you’re in love with,” Reese said. “It’s always a good problem to have when you’re picking 32.”
The last time the Giants were at the bottom of the first-round pile, they cleaned up. They grabbed safety Kenny Phillips with the 31st pick overall in 2008, after New England forfeited its first-round choice because of “Spygate.” And then, New York added cornerback Terrell Thomas in the second round, and receiver and recent Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham as well as linebackers Bryan Kehl and Jonathan Goff the next two rounds.
“We never try to reach in the draft,” Reese said. “We’re conscious of what we think our needs are, but we try to pick the best player in the draft. We do try to fill holes in free agency when we get an opportunity to do that, but we never say let’s get a certain position in the draft.
“We just try to pick the best player.”
The Giants have had a fair amount of success in the draft despite having only one Top 5 pick in the last eight years.
That was 2004, when then-general manager Ernie Accorsi engineered the draft-day trade in which New York acquired the rights to eventual two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning from San Diego for Philip Rivers and, among other things, the Giants’ first-round draft pick the following season.
Since 2006, the Giants have not had a first-round draft pick higher than No. 15. That was defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul in 2010, and he earned All Pro and Pro Bowl honors this past season.
Who the Giants take this year remains to be seen.
But champions or no, there are needs.
Manningham, whose spectacular sideline catch ignited the game-winning drive in the 21-17 win over the Patriots in the Super Bowl, signed with San Francisco as a free agent. Hakeem Nicks, the 29th choice in the 2009 draft, and free-agent super find Victor Cruz are back and Domenik Hixon is returning from knee surgery. But a good, young receiver would help the offense and this is a deep position in this draft.
New York also lost bruising running back Brandon Jacobs — the 110th pick in 2005— to San Francisco, so a backup for Ahmad Bradshaw is also needed.
If there is a desperate need, though, it might be at tight need. Starter Jake Ballard and backup Travis Beckum both suffered major knee injuries in the Super Bowl. Ballard does not expect to be ready until the middle of the season, while Beckum seemingly is ahead of schedule.
New York signed former Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett and has veteran Bear Pascoe returning. If the Giants look to bolster that position, though, Coby Fleener of Stanford appears to be the best on the board.
Goff, who missed last season with a knee injury, is returning this season and Reese solidified the linebacking corps by re-signing Chase Blackburn. He also acquired oft-injured Keith Rivers from Cincinnati for a fifth-round draft pick.
The Giants usually try to stockpile defensive linemen, where possible, and the difference in the Super Bowl was Manning and the defensive line. Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck are cornerstones of a line that also features veteran Osi Umenyiora, who has a year left on his contract. Linval Joseph and Chris Canty are strong on the inside and the team still doesn’t know what it has in Marvin Austin, the 2011 second-round choice who missed last season with a torn pectoral muscle.
Still, don’t be surprised if the Giants take another pass-rushing lineman after losing veteran Dave Tollefson to free agency.
At some point, New York also will grab an offensive tackle. Veteran starter Kareem McKenzie remains a free agent. The Giants drafted James Brewer in the fourth round, but he did not play a down.
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