The 2014 NFL Draft starts on Thursday, May 8, and every team will look to infuse youth and talent into their rosters. This is the latest primer in our NFL Draft two-a-days that looks at each team and which potential first-round picks would be a good fit.
PICK NO. 12: GIANTS
2013 record: 7-9
Key offseason acquisitions: G Geoff Schwartz, RB Rashad Jennings, C J.D. Walton, MLB Jameel McClain, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB Walter Thurmond, G John Jerry, KR Trindon Holliday, WR Mario Manningham, QB Josh Freeman, TE Kellen Davis.
Key offseason departures: DE Justin Tuck, DT Linval Joseph, WR Hakeem Nicks, G Kevin Boothe, TE Brandon Myers, OLB Keith Rivers, FS Ryan Mundy.
Biggest holes: Tight end, wide receiver, defensive tackle, guard.
The Giants responded to a rare sub-.500 season with an equally rare free-agency shopping spree.
After signing 23 free agents (13 new players) in the offseason, the Giants cut down on most of their glaring needs entering the draft. That puts them in the same situation they're usually in come draft day: they can continue addressing needs (as they did with Justin Pugh last season) or go best player available (Jason Pierre-Paul in 2010, Prince Amukamara in 2011). The two may even intersect.
One other interesting tidbit to note as the draft gets closer: The Giants typically don't bring their eventual first-round pick in to the team facility for a visit. Only one of the last five Giants first-rounders visited with the team before the draft (Pierre-Paul).
Eric Ebron is one player that mock drafts often have going to the Giants, and for good reason. The Giants were unable to recreate their usual magic at tight end in 2013 with Brandon Myers. They signed ex-Seahawk Kellen Davis, but he only has 50 catches, 561 yards and 12 touchdowns in six seasons. Ebron would bring 6-4 size and 4.60 40 speed to a pass-catching corps that sorely needs a big red-zone threat.
If Mike Evans is still on the board, he would also fulfill that last part. At 6-5 and 231 pounds, Evans is an imposing physical threat on the outside in the mold of Buccaneers wideout Vincent Jackson or Bears receiver Brandon Marshall. Evans has solid hands, great body control and a good catch radius. He would be the big red-zone target the Giants haven't had since Plaxico Burress.
The Giants could also use some depth along the defensive line. Their current front four (when healthy) consists of Pierre-Paul, Cullen Jenkins, Johnathan Hankins and Damontre Moore. After that, it's anyone's guess, meaning the Giants are one JPP flare-up away from having one of their strengths turn into a weakness.
That's where Pitt DT Aaron Donald comes in. Donald tore it up his senior year with 28 1/2 tackles for loss and 11 sacks en route to winning five different awards. That momentum carried into the pre-draft process. Donald shined in Senior Bowl drills and impressed at the Combine with his burst (1.64-second 10-yard split), acceleration (7.11 second three-cone drill) and strength (35 reps on the bench press).
Donald projects best as a three-technique (lined up on the outside shoulder of the guard), where he can best utilize his quick first step and motor to get into the backfield. He's undersized at 6-1 and 285 pounds, but his production in college coupled with his excellent Combine results and his Senior Bowl workout domination has pretty much made scouts forget about that.
If the Giants select an offensive lineman (unlikely given their offseason signings), it's a bit more nuanced than just taking whoever is available. Drafting a pure tackle such as Taylor Lewan would likely push 2013 first-rounder Pugh inside, essentially making him a rookie again for at least a season while he learns the position.
However, there is a Pugh 2.0 in this draft: Zack Martin. Martin played tackle at Notre Dame, but projects best as a guard due to his smallish size (6-4, 308 pounds) and short arms (32 7/8 inch arm length). If you harken back to 2013, those numbers are nearly identical to Pugh's from the Combine -- Pugh measured in at 6-4 and 307 pounds and had a 32-inch arm length. Both have solid technique and were dependable in college.
The Giants could put Martin inside at guard if Chris Snee's hip and elbow continue to be an issue, or he can replace Will Beatty, who struggled in 2013 and is coming off a broken leg in the season finale. Besides that, the Giants have historically liked versatile offensive linemen, and having both Pugh and Martin makes their line one of the most versatile.
Potential mid- and late-round picks include Notre Dame TE Troy Niklas, Georgia TE Arthur Lynch, Rutgers WR Brandon Coleman, Clemson WR Martavis Bryant, Florida DT Dominique Easley, Princeton DT Caraun Reid, North Dakota State OT Billy Turner and Furman OT/OG Dakota Dozier.