By Paul Dottino
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There’s no denying my slump, having miscalculated on each of the Giants’ last three top picks after having hit on nine of 11. Even worse, the team’s needs and its draft philosophy do not match up well going into tonight’s first round of the NFL Draft, making a direct hit almost impossible.
What to do?
It’s obvious the Giants’ most pressing needs are at right tackle and linebacker. But general manager Jerry Reese, who maintains the team’s much-proven philosophy of placing more emphasis on the best player available than team need, has stuck with a formula that usually results in them shying away from these two positions in the first round.
In six seasons, Reese has taken only one tackle before the fourth round and one linebacker earlier than the third. (See charts below.)
The Giants usually hope to have a cluster of five or six players who they’d realistically have a chance to get and who provide good value when their turn comes. We’ll take an educated guess at the following cluster on the Giants’ board: Alabama OT D.J. Fluker, Georgia OLB Alec Ogletree, Florida State DE Bjoern Werner, Washington CB Desmond Trufant, UCLA DE Datone Jones, Florida State DE Tank Carradine.
Let’s take each player one at a time:
1. Why Fluker? He’s a dominant run blocker at right tackle, the biggest hole in the Giants’ starting lineup. Why not? Reese, like GM Ernie Accorsi before him, prefers to fill the offensive line with lower draft picks and veteran free agents. Fluker needs to polish his pass protection techniques.
2. Why Ogletree? He’s an aggressive, versatile and quick three-down linebacker with pass-rushing skills. Why not? The increased use of sub packages has decreased the amount of snaps for linebackers in a 4-3 scheme, so there’s less of a priority to get one in the first round. Ogletree also had off-the-field issues in college.
3. Why Werner? The front four underachieved last season and DE Justin Tuck is entering the final year of his contract. Werner is an intelligent promising run/pass end with great athleticism and most often compared to Rams DE Chris Long. Why not? He’s had limited football experience, so he needs some fine-tuning and his ceiling is uncertain. He’s not the ‘best’ at anything – just really good.
4. Why Trufant? A team never can have enough cover corners. Trufant has the size and skills to play multiple positions in the secondary. Why not? At face value, the Giants’ secondary is good enough when the pass rush is working correctly, and the draft is at least two rounds deep at cornerback.
5. Why Jones? Again, the Giants may have doubts about their front four. He projects as more of a big-play speed rusher than Werner, but less productive against the run. Why not? Hybrid LB Mathias Kiwanuka (signed through 2015) expects to move back to DE and the Giants like second-year pass-rushing DE Adewale Ojomo, who appeared in just one game as a rookie.
6. Why Carradine? A dominant, athletic top 10-valued speed rusher who expects to drop because he’s coming off a torn ACL. Why not? He ran very well at his pro day, but when will he be cleared to play and will the knee hold up?
Should this group be close to the available cluster tonight, don’t put it past the Giants to trade down a few spots while adding a second- or third-round pick. But we’ll assume they won’t find a trading partner and they’ll stick with No. 19.
There has been a late surge up the draft board for Fluker over the past 24 hours (projecting him to land between 12 and 18), so it’s debatable whether he will be there for Reese. If Fluker is there, the Giants should take him because he fits both value AND need – as I’ve been saying for many weeks. So, now we’ll run through this exercise as if Fluker is gone.
The GM probably will pass on Ogletree, who gets left behind because the Giants are very comfortable using extra DBs in their sub packages and probably think they can get a LB later anyway. So that leaves three pass rushers and a cover corner on the board.
The draft is deeper at corner than it is at defensive end, plus the Giants could shift Kiwanuka back to being a rushing-down linebacker if that position needs additional manpower, making room for a rookie defensive end. So they’ll narrow the field to the three defensive linemen.
With the 19th pick in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, the New York Giants select — DEFENSIVE END BJOERN WERNER, FLORIDA STATE.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON THESE PLAYERS IN THE 2ND ROUND:
If the Giants DO NOT take a tackle at No. 19, have your ears open for versatile Arkansas-Pine Bluff RT Terron Armstead or Syracuse LT-LG Justin Pugh (projects to RT). The Giants also should be interested in solid value on defense with Texas DE Alex Okafor, who’s coming off a hip injury or – if he drops – Kansas State OLB Arthur Brown.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON THESE PLAYERS IN THE 3RD ROUND:
If the Giants still haven’t taken a tackle by this point, watch for Oregon LG Kyle Long (projects to RT) or versatile San Jose State LT David Quessenberry. On defense, they would be fortunate to find Rutgers OLB Khaseem Greene or So. Miss. OLB Jamie Collins on the board. They also might be glad to check out versatile N.C. State CB David Amerson, a potential special teams ace with ball-hawking skills and who may be better in press coverage than the zone he played in college.
TACKLES DRAFTED BY JERRY REESE (6)
2007: Adam Koets, Oregon St. (6th); 2008: None; 2009:Will Beatty, UConn (2nd-B); 2010: None; 2011: James Brewer, Indiana (4th); 2012: Branden Mosley, Auburn (4th-B) and Matt McCants, Ala.-Birmingham (6th).
Last Giants tackle taken in the first round: Luke Petitgout, Notre Dame, No. 19 overall, 1999.
LINEBACKERS DRAFTED BY JERRY REESE (7)
2007: Zak DeOssie, Brown (4th); 2008: Bryan Kehl, BYU (4th) and Jonathan Goff, Vanderbilt (5th); 2009: Clint Sintim, Virginia (2nd-A); 2010: Philip Dillard, Nebraska (4th); 2011: Greg Jones, Michigan St. (6th-A) and Jacquian Williams, So. Florida (6th-C). (Note: Hybrid Adrian Tracy (6th, 2010) was a defensive end at William & Mary)
Last Giants linebacker taken in the first round: Carl Banks, Michigan St., No. 3 overall, 1984.
2013 NFL DRAFT SCHEDULE
At Radio City Music Hall: Thursday, first round, 8 p.m.; Friday, second and third rounds, 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, fourth through seventh rounds, noon.
Giants picks (8): Round 1-Pick 19 (19 overall); 2-17 (49); 3-19 (81); 4-19 (116); 5-19 (152); 6-19 (187); 7-19 (225) and 7-47 (253)*. *Compensatory selection. Note, the Giants own the 19th pick in the second round, but the Browns already used pick No. 39 in the supplemental draft and the Saints forfeited No. 45 in the bounty scandal, allowing all of the teams behing them to move up two slots.
Estimating the timing of the Giants’ first three picks (based on previous two years): First round (maximum 10 mins. between picks) expected to come approx. 9:45 p.m. on Thursday; Second round (max. 7 mins.) – approx. 8 p.m. on Friday; Third round (max. 5 mins.) – approx. 10 p.m. on Friday.
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