By Ernie Palladino
Thursday’s pre-draft press conference with Giants general manager Jerry Reese produced two monumental revelations about next week’s draft.
First of all, he won’t move “way up” from the 32nd pick because it would be too expensive in terms of draft picks or veterans he’d have to give up. And secondly, he plans to pick the best player available, regardless of position or the contract status of folks like Osi Umenyiora and Victor Cruz.
Believe Reese or don’t believe him. It really doesn’t matter, since anything that any GM says a week before the draft must naturally, genetically, be taken with about three pounds of salt.
What we do know, however, is that Reese hasn’t done such a bad job picking out of the 32 hole. The last time he did that was 2008, the draft after their Super Bowl victory in Arizona. He traded up one spot to get safety Kenny Phillips, who didn’t turn out too badly, and then sat at 32 in rounds 2 and 3 to grab cornerback Terrell Thomas and the now-departed (for San Francisco) wide receiver Mario Manningham.
Not a bad bunch there. If Thomas can come back to full strength after missing last year with a torn ACL, he’ll be the team’s most physical starting cornerback. And Manningham made his greatest contribution this past Super Bowl with his astounding sideline catch against the Patriots.
So it won’t be a surprise if Reese sits tight, or at least stays in the vicinity, of the first round’s final pick. And if that means waiting until midnight next Thursday, so be it.
He doesn’t appear worried, saying somebody of quality will surely fall.
“More than likely, there’ll be somebody down there in our first row,” Reese said, referring to how the Giants break down their draft board in terms of value rows more than rounds. “Guys are going to be coming off the board all over the place. Picks 15 to 32 will have a lot of similar-type players. More likely, a lot of these guys will be picked in the second round.”
While there is always such a premium placed on a first-round pick, the Giants’ true talent has been finding later-round gems. In terms of those, Reese said he’ll be looking to keep the linebackers competitive despite the recent acquisition of former Bengal Keith Rivers. Tight ends, with Martellus Bennett added to a corps thinned by injuries to Travis Beckum (ACL, possibly available Week 1) and Jake Ballard (ACL and micro-fracture surgery, potentially available midseason but could miss the year) could also be targeted later on.
But for the first round, think offensive tackle or defensive end. They’ve picked a defensive lineman in the first or second round the last two years, with first-round phenom Jason Pierre-Paul coming in 2010 and injured DT Marvin Austin coming in last year’s second round.
Austin is just an example of the young, injured or underused players the Giants are hoping to get contributions from this year.
“We’re going to get some high picks coming back because our guys didn’t play a lot,” Reese said, referring to folks like Austin, OT Will Beatty and OL James Brewer. “Fortunately, we have some high-caliber players coming back, and that will be a help for us.”
How much help is the question. That’s why Reese needs a good draft.
A huge trade to move up to a higher spot probably won’t happen. So he’ll be watching for someone of quality to fall. Perhaps Stanford’s 315-pound guard David DeCastro or Georgia’s massive, 345-pound tackle Cordy Glenn. Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin, whose value fell from Top 10 to lower-first round because of an off-year, could be the fit now that the Giants have no interest in re-signing unrestricted right tackle Kareem McKenzie.
Whatever happens next Thursday, the Giants’ brain trust will have about five hours to ponder their move.
It needs to be a good one, even at No. 32.
Who should the Giants target with the 32nd pick? Offer your thoughts and comments below…