By Paul Dottino
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It’s finally time to open the door to the NFL’s version to Fort Knox, when each of the NFL’s 32 teams gets to open the vault on college talent.
Giants GM Jerry Reese will look at the team’s draft board tonight at around 11:30 p.m. and continue the path that was set forth by the late George Young many years ago – he will prioritize the remaining lot by “best player available.”
The player on top of the list will have the edge in becoming the Giants’ first-round pick (No. 32 overall). Then, Reese will pause, taking a moment to see how many other prospects are within a thin grade of the player on top: Is the difference small enough that the team’s positional needs should come into play? After a brief discussion, the Giants will send in the card with their choice.
What should the Giants be looking for?
QB: Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning and veteran backup David Carr don’t require any help. So the Giants will have to grab a few rookie free agents to help throw around some passes at camp.
RB: Ahmad Bradshaw’s lingering foot problems and the departure of Brandon Jacobs (49ers) make this a position that could be addressed as high as the first round or as low as the third. Veteran Danny Ware has yet to prove himself as a steady rotation back and there are concerns about blitz pickups/ball security when talking about the inexperienced Da’Rel Scott . (Keep eye on Boise State’s Doug Martin and Washington’s Chris Polk and Utah State’s Robert Turbin).
WR: Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz will need a reliable third-down partner, now that Mario Manningham (49ers) has left. Is Reese comfortable asking this of Domenik Hixon (knee), an inexperienced Jerrel Jernigan, the disappointing Ramses Barden or practice squad phenom Dan DePalma? The Giants are fortunate because there could be speedy receivers found as low as the fourth round. Figure they could shop here as early as Day Two. (Keep an eye on Illinois A.J. Jenkins and Wake Forest’s Chris Givens).
TE: Knee injuries to Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum prompted the Giants to sign Martellus Bennett (Cowboys). It’s unlikely the Giants go this route before Day Three, although they easily could be tempted if Stanford’s Coby Fleener is sitting there at No. 32.
OL: The Giants have numbers along the line, although they might not be sure where they fit in at this point. This also is not a great draft for offensive linemen once you get past the elite prospects, so it’s unlikely the Giants will go here.
DL: Going on the assumption that DE Osi Umenyiora will not be dealt, the Giants have no need for an end, but they might be wary of DT Chris Canty coming off a knee injury and DT Marvin Austin (lost rookie season to a torn pectoral). So don’t be surprised if they take a defensive tackle on the first or second day – and there may be as eight taken during this period. (Keep an eye on UConn’s Kendall Reyes and Cincinnati’s Derek Wolfe).
LB: Again, the Giants have numbers here, especially after the acquisition of Keith Rivers from the Bengals. It’s unclear where the pieces fit, but it would be surprising for them to go in this direction – unless a super-stud is staring them in the face.
DB: We repeat, the Giants have numbers here. Any selection from this group would have to be with special teams in mind, perhaps in Day Three.
K/P: Lawrence Tynes and Steve Weatherford do their jobs quite well, thank you.
2012 NFL DRAFT SCHEDULE: Thursday, First round, 8 p.m.; Friday, Second and third rounds, 7 p.m.; Saturday, fourth through seventh rounds, noon.
GIANTS PICKS: Round 1-Pick 32 (32 overall); 2-31 (63); 3-31 (94); 4-32 (127); 4-36 (131)*; 5-Traded for Cinicinnati LB Keith Rivers; 6-31 (201); 7-32 (239). *Compensatory selection.
ESTIMATED TIMING OF GIANTS’ FIRST THREE PICKS (based on 2011): First round – 3 hours, 30 mins; second round – 2:32; third round – 1:43.