The day football fans all across America have been waiting for has arrived. No, not the Super Bowl, but Draft Day! So much time, research and preparation have gone into this day. The front offices for all 32 NFL teams have been working tirelessly to figure out which college prospect they’ll be selecting. This year’s draft is unlike many before it. This draft is so deep that many experts say the there are 50 prospects that they could rank in the top 25. That’s insane! Each position has its own depth which makes it also much more interesting. Besides the #1 pick, no one has any clue of who is going to be selected and where. The Cleveland Browns hold the #1 pick, and, if they don’t trade out of it, will most likely select defensive end Myles Garrett from Texas A&M.

After that, no one knows what can happen and that’s what’s so interesting about it! The New York Giants select at #23 overall. That is sort of late, considering some of the guys in which they are interested. But sometimes players fall and maybe the Giants can get lucky. There are over 10 prospects I can see the Giants legitimately drafting in the first round.

The Giants do have needs in a lot of positions. They can use a linebacker, defensive tackle, defensive end, running back, tight end, cornerback, offensive tackle…

…and yes, even a quarterback. Some positions they need more desperately than others, such as tight end and linebacker. When the Giants are on the clock, these are the players at the positions I named above that could be a part of Big Blue this season.

Linebacker:

There are always rumors of which prospects teams are interested in and what not. The Giants have been rumored to be interested in linebacker Zach Cunningham from Vanderbilt, but he’s not the guy I’m going to select. Cunningham is a great football player; he’s fast and a dynamic playmaker. Lately, because of his size, his draft stock has fallen. I can see him going in the second round or later in the first. The Giants won’t reach on a guy like him, but if Jarrad Davis from Florida is there, they’ll snatch him up immediately.

Davis was sidelined for a good portion of his senior year due to a left leg injury. He did come back and seemed to be the player everyone is used to seeing. When Davis was a junior, he had a total of 98 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Watching film on this guy was very entertaining. You can tell immediately he’s passionate about the game of football and wants to win more than anything. His on-field energy reminds me of Odell Beckham Jr.– a team player and someone who makes a huge difference.

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If he falls to the Giants at #23, Giants fans everywhere would be very happy. The linebacking core the Giants have now is pretty much the same as last year. Keenan Robinson, Devon Kennard, Jonathan Casillas, Mark Herzlich, B.J. Goodson and J.T. Thomas. Kelvin Sheppard will be the only guy not returning to the linebacking core next season. The issue with all of these guys is that Kennard, Casillas, Robinson, Thomas and Herzlich are all free agents after this year. With the Giants spending a lot of money last year and this year, there won’t be nearly as much to resign all or even majority of those guys.

The Giants need a young, playmaking leader on this defense at linebacker. The last time they drafted one in the first round was in 1984 when they drafted Carl Banks. A boost in the position would also solidify this defense for years to come and providing someone to build around. The Giants are in win-now mode.

Defensive Tackle:

Bringing back all of their defensive starters from last year was a main priority for the Giants, but that got blown to pieces when Johnathan Hankins signed with the Colts. Hankins remained unsigned for a long period of time due to complications with his agent. He was one of the best players on the market but missed many opportunities. He also made it clear that he’s in it for the money and not for winning. Hankins should’ve taken the Giants offer and helped them make a run at a Super Bowl. Now they’ll just do it without him.

With Hankins gone, there is now a hole left in the defensive line. I personally don’t believe the Giants have an in-house option for a replacement for Hankins and that’s why this draft is coming at the right time. Robert Thomas and Jay Bromley are the only other defensive tackles on the roster besides Damon Harrison. Neither of those guys will be the man they need to bring home a Lombardi Trophy. But with the guys around them, they might just barely get by. Barely.

A defensive tackle for the Giants to keep an eye on is Malik McDowell out of Michigan State. Malik is considered one of the best athletes in this draft and deservedly so. Standing at 6’6 and weighing 295 lbs, McDowell is just a monster out on the field. He is like a brick wall when players run into him, and seems to come out of nowhere to make plays. He is an explosive player and could be the guy to replace Hankins and make the Giants a team to be feared.

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Tight End:

This is the position I can most likely see the Giants focusing on in this draft. Besides the top 2 tight ends, there are a few others who make arguments on their talent. The #1 tight end in the draft is O.J. Howard out of Alabama. Many feel he was misused at Bama. Every time there was a big game, he would show up. He is a huge threat in the passing game and would be an amazing asset for the Giants. Eli Manning misses having a great tight end as a target and Howard fills that role. Although he isn’t the greatest blocker, the Giants would still draft him because of all his other skills. Plus, they signed Rhett Ellison in free agency to do the majority of the blocking.

If Howard is there at #23, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that the Giants would take him. The problem is that there is an 80% chance he isn’t there. 22 other teams will have to pass up on this future pro-bowler. The backup plan at tight end, or what now seems to be the main plan, is drafting David Njoku out of Miami.

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Njoku, who also might not be there at #23, would be a great addition to the Giants as well. He has everything Howard has while being just a little smaller in size. He also is a better blocker, which makes Giants coaches and players very happy. If the Giants select him at #23, fans should be happy with that pick. Tight end is probably the neediest position for the Giants right now and Njoku would fit that hole perfectly. Will Tye and Jerrell Adams don’t seem to be the answers. Manning needs another distraction on the field so he can make plays and win ball games.

Defensive End:

With Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon on either side of the D-line, the Giants seem like they’re okay at that position. The depth isn’t all there, though, and those guys aren’t going to play forever. Derek Barnett out of Tennessee could definitely be an X-factor in an instance. Barnett had a monster junior year, posting 13 sacks, 56 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and an interception.

Barnett is a hard hitter and absolutely explodes around the edge. He is considered one of the best pass rushers in Tennessee history and deservedly so. Adding him to the roster and being able to learn from JPP and OV would be amazing for the Giants. He could then become the defensive end of the future for this football team and could even see a lot of playing time this year.

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Depth and the future are the main reasons they would draft him, aside from his playmaking abilities. Barnett might also not be there at #23 (shocker) but if he is, his name will be talked about in the draft room.

Cornerback:

You might be thinking, “Why the hell would the Giants draft ANOTHER cornerback in the first round after doing so last year?!” Because the Giants love cornerbacks. CB is one of the hardest positions in football and also requires the most time to adjust, too. Drafting Eli Apple in the first round last year seemed to work out well for them. He had a promising rookie season, learning the ropes behind Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Both of those guys are the starters on that defense and have shown they can still be dynamic. DRC has been rumored to be cut or traded and that just doesn’t make sense because of his amazing play. He has never let Giants fans down. Jenkins had a monster season last year, arguably being the best corner in the league.

Now, the Giants drafting a cornerback would help them make the combo of DRC and Jenkins happen all over again in years to come. After both of them leave, Apple and the man they draft this year will be the projected starters of this football team. That guy can be Gareon Conley out of Ohio State.

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Conley and Apple played together at Ohio State, so that immediately is a reason to draft Conley. He also had 26 tackles and 4 interceptions last year. Conley is one of the best corners in this draft and hasn’t been talked about as much as he should have. The draft for corners is especially deep, and that’s why Conley hasn’t completely been on the radar. He still is projected to go early in this draft, once again possibly missing out on the Giants pick, but what else is new. Adding him would provide an insane amount of depth at the cornerback position and also prepare the Giants for years to come.

Running Back:

Christian McCaffrey. This man is my favorite player in this draft for the Giants. There have been rumors that a team picking in the teens said that if he’s there they will take him, but a man can only hope. He is the most dynamic player in this draft. He can do it all at the running back position and would be an immediate answer for the Giants problems.

McCaffrey had amazing sophomore and junior seasons. It’s amazing to me that he didn’t win the Heisman Trophy because of how amazing his stats are. His junior year he ran for over 1,600 yards with 13 rushing touchdowns. He also quietly had 310 receiving yards for 3 touchdowns as well. If you think that was good, wait until you hear his sophomore year stats. This man rushed for over 2,000 yards (yes, you read that right) while getting in the end zone 8 times. He didn’t stop there, as he caught 45 balls for 645 yards and 5 touchdowns through the air. It’s amazing what this man did in college.

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The Giants have some depth at the running back position but nothing that makes a fan feel good. Paul Perkins is projected to be the starter after having a successful rookie campaign. Shane Vereen will be the 3rd down and receiving back and hopefully will stay healthy. The Giants don’t have that explosive guy and that’s why the running game has struggled. Adding a game changer like McCaffrey changes the whole offense up for the Giants and could potentially put them in Super Bowl contention immediately.

There are other good running backs in this draft, but McCaffrey is the only one I can see the Giants drafting in the first round. If he is there, they can’t pass up on him and must take the opportunity.

Sidenote: If the Giants don’t add McCaffrey, watch for them to draft one in later rounds (Alvin Kamara possibly) or signing LeGarrette Blount. There have been rumors about Blount and the Giants, and adding him would definitely help the team. Blount and Perkins would be similar to Jacobs and Bradshaw from a couple years ago.

Quarterback:

The time is finally coming that the Giants need to think about a replacement for Eli Manning. They’re hoping to get at least 3 more years out of Eli and hopefully another Lombardi Trophy as well. There are solid quarterbacks in this draft and many of them will be taken before #23 rolls around. If the Giants don’t draft a QB in the first round, I’d keep an eye on Brad Kaaya out of Miami.

The man that I can see the Giants drafting in the first round at the QB position is Patrick Mahomes. Jerry Reese and Co. have shown interest in Mahomes, something they don’t usually show publicly. Mahomes has been rising in draft stock as of late and could potentially be there at #23. He could come to this football team and learn from Eli. One day, eventually being the starting quarterback of the Giants, Mahomes would have all the knowledge he needs for that job.

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Mahomes is said to have “swagger” in his game and is very confident in the way he plays. He’s also very accurate with the football. Many experts say he could be the Dak Prescott of this draft, something worth thinking about. Although I personally don’t see the Giants drafting a QB in the first round, Mahomes will be the one they’re talking about if he’s there at #23.

Offensive Tackle:

The Giants have needed help on the offensive line for a couple seasons now. They have 2 solid starters in Weston Richburg and Justin Pugh, but besides those guys, the line is one big question mark. They signed former first-round pick D.J. Fluker over the offseason in hopes for him to compete for a spot on the line. Ereck Flowers isn’t what the Giants hoped he’d be so now the problem remains the same.

Hopefully this year, the Giants will get it right and draft a guy who can help solidify that line. Garrett Bolles out of Utah seems like a great fit in New York. He is absolutely huge, but also light on his feet. He has great athletic ability and moves really fast for his size. Adding Bolles would help add one more piece to the offensive line, and one less piece the Giants have to worry about.

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They didn’t draft an offensive lineman at all last year and that’s not likely to happen again this year. If Bolles is available, over any other tackle, keep an eye to see if the Giants add him to their squad. He is one of the top players on their board in my opinion and will contribute to this team.

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