With the NFL Draft approaching, we’re taking a team-by-team look at the needs of each club. The Giants, who pick 12th overall, are up next. It’s already been an offseason of major change for the Giants, who changed offensive coordinators and signed a slew of free agents after missing the playoffs for the second straight year. The work isn’t done, however, and we’ll highlight the areas in need of improvement below.
Tight End: The Giants replaced Martellus Bennett with Brandon Myers in free agency last season and the move was one of many things that contributed to their offensive nosedive. Myers is gone, leaving the Giants with a big hole at the position. Eric Ebron may not make it to No. 12, so they may not get a sure thing but they’ll need to address this spot before the draft is out.
Center: The Giants attacked their needs at guard head on during free agency and added Charles Brown as a backup tackle, leaving center as the spot most in need of improvement in the draft. J.D. Walton signed as a free agent, but he hasn’t played in two years and there aren’t any other appealing in-house options. Colorado State’s Weston Richburg and USC’s Marcus Martin are the best prospects at the position and both should be available on the second day.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Giants look elsewhere on the offensive line, either. Will Beatty has yet to establish himself as a top left tackle and the Giants may find the best player available in the first round is one who could compete with or supplant Beatty. After the pounding Eli Manning took last season, that wouldn’t be the worst thing for the team.
Wide Receiver: Hakeem Nicks didn’t give the Giants much outside of reasons to complain the last two seasons and the lack of the threat he once provided the team was glaring enough that Victor Cruz said last week that he hoped the team brought in an outside threat. The Giants hope that Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan can step into larger roles and/or Mario Manningham rediscovers health in his return to the team, but hedging their bets with a receiver from the draft would be a prudent move.
Defensive Line: The Giants won two Super Bowls thanks in large part to a relentless pass rush provided by a talented group of defensive linemen. Osi Umenyiora left after the 2012 season and Linval Joseph and Justin Tuck are gone now as well, leaving Jason Pierre-Paul and a lot of question marks. Pierre-Paul has spent two seasons underperforming while struggling with injuries, so he isn’t even a sure thing. There are high hopes for defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins and defensive end Damontre Moore, but a strong prospect (like Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald perhaps) at either position shouldn’t be ignored.
Linebacker: It feels like linebacker winds up on the list of Giants needs every year, but the team has rarely shows interest in using high picks to address the position. There’s no reason to think that will change this year, although the team could still use a talent boost at the position that they’ll try to find in the later rounds.