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Will Giants address need at safety in NFL Draft?

Alabama defensive back Landon Collins celebrates during a

Alabama defensive back Landon Collins celebrates during a college football game against Mississippi State, Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Credit: AP / Brynn Anderson

Nat Berhe wasn't a free agent, but he knew his value would be determined by what happened to other safeties on the market. Not his financial value, but his value to the Giants.

So he watched as last year's teammates Antrel Rolle and Quintin Demps signed elsewhere. He watched as the Giants made and continue to make lukewarm overtures to Stevie Brown. He watched as the Giants made an aggressive push for Devin McCourty, but then passed on a lot of other possibilities when he became unavailable.

Finally, it dawned on the second-year player who has never started an NFL game.

"You see a lot of guys who are on the board in free agency who the Giants could have gotten, and they didn't get them," Berhe said last week. "For me that was like, 'OK, they're showing some confidence in the young guys.' "

How much confidence he has will be determined by how the Giants draft this weekend.

The biggest hole on their roster at this point is safety, where they have no players who started a game for the team and only one who has ever started in the NFL. There are some interesting possibilities, including Berhe (a fifth-rounder last year) and Cooper Taylor (a fifth-rounder the year before). They did sign veteran Josh Gordy recently, but he's far from an established starter. And they are tinkering with cornerbacks Bennett Jackson (seventh-rounder last year) and Chykie Brown to try to convert them to the position.

All of which leads to the big question in the coming days: Will the Giants draft for need?

If they do, they will be looking at safeties.

In what may be a stroke of bad timing for the Giants, though, this draft class is not very top-heavy at that position. Speaking of the free-agency crop at safety, general manager Jerry Reese noted a precipitous falloff from McCourty (who re-signed with the Patriots) to the field of others. The draft looks to be shaping up in a similar fashion.

The only player with consensus first-round talent is Landon Collins from Alabama, and even he comes with caveats about his coverage and speed. Damarious Randle of Arizona State has climbed some projections after an impressive combine and pro day. And, it should be noted, he was one of the last predraft visitors the Giants welcomed.

In fact, the Giants used three of their 15 predraft visits on safeties, checking out Randle, Cedric Thompson of Minnesota (projected as a late-round pick or maybe even an undrafted free agent) and Anthony Harris of Virginia (a possibility in the middle to late rounds).

That could be a smoke screen. The Giants had a similar pothole in their roster last year at tight end -- and similarly unimpressive depth at the position in the draft class -- and did not select anyone to play that spot. Instead, they relied on young players (Larry Donnell) and veterans (Daniel Fells) to step up and they got by modestly with those two totaling 10 touchdowns.

Maybe Berhe and Gordy are this year's Donnell and Fells. Maybe Jackson, who was still learning the nuances of cornerback after converting to that position late in college, will blossom at safety. Maybe Taylor can stay healthy.

Or maybe the Giants will recognize their roster weakness and this time do something about it.

New York Sports