By Curt Macysyn
The New York Giants were fortunate in a couple of respects with regard to selecting Odell Beckham, Jr. with the 12th pick in the 2014 NFL draft. First, the 2014 draft was a very deep draft, and in prior, or later years, Beckham might have been a clear cut top 10 prospect. In hindsight, most would agree that OBJ can certainly be categorized as a top tier talent, but both Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans were certainly in the same class as Beckham. This is not to say that Beckham will not become the best of the lot, just like Aaron Rodgers was the best quarterback taken in the 2005 NFL draft, even though Alex Smith went to San Francisco with the first overall pick.
Second, the Giants’ “broken” offense screamed out for an offensive playmaker, so drafting anyone but Beckham would have not made sense for Big Blue. If logic was the 2014 draft strategy, then the Giants need to employ the same strategy in 2015. As it sits now, the upcoming draft will also be flush with wide receivers, offensive linemen and defensive linemen, so the biggest decision for the Giants will center around whether or not they re-sign or replace Jason Pierre-Paul.
Also, the Giants draft position could go as high as fifth, or could drop to as low as 16th, as things stand now. Those eight positions are potentially huge in terms of the drop off of talent in this draft. At any rate, it probably is not likely that many teams will be able to grab first-year starters with this draft class.
In terms of last year’s draft class, the selections of Beckham and second rounder, Weston Richburg, were prudent given the depth of the class to produce immediate NFL starters. The Giants flawed badly with third round selection, Jay Bromley, a project at defensive tackle, when there were more NFL ready players available to fill the numerous holes on their roster. Even in the fourth round, the Giants did okay with selecting Andre Williams, but time will show that he will be a decent role player for New York, and not a workhorse back in the NFL.
Right now, the biggest holes on the roster are at safety, running back, tight end and linebacker, with defensive end being a potential problem spot, if Pierre-Paul is not retained. Linebacker has been a position that the team has ignored for many years, so will they admit that it needs attention by selecting an LB with their first pick to go along with Devon Kennard. If so, then keep an eye on Benardrick McKinney (6-3, 245 lbs.) from Mississippi State. Vic Beasley of Clemson is seen as more of a speed rusher from the outside linebacker position, so he may not be a good fit for the Giants’ defensive scheme.
If the Giants drop out of the top ten, then a safety could become the team’s target, especially since the decline in play from Antrel Rolle. Landon Collins from the University of Alabama has played free and strong safety, as well as linebacker for the Crimson Tide. He may not be a top ten talent, but he is close.
A trio of tackles may interest the Giants, so that they can slot Justin Pugh into the guard position eventually. Brandon Scherff of Iowa may be gone by the time the Giants’ selection comes around, but if he is still around, Big Blue likely could not pass him up. Andrus Peat of Stanford plays in a pro style offense for the Cardinals, and he may be able to contribute right away because of his athleticism. Texas A&M keeps pumping out the offensive linemen, and this year’s version, Cedric Ogbuehi, seeks to become the third straight offensive tackle from the school drafted in the top ten. The knock on Ogbuechi is that he is not overly athletic, which may mean he is more of a right tackle than a left tackle.
Some of the projected top defensive ends like Shane Ray (Missouri) and Randy Gregory (Nebraska) are more suited for a hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end in a 3-4 defensive scheme. Defensive end Shawn Oakman of Baylor stand 6-8 and weighs in at 275 lbs., so he is more of the proto-typical defensive end that Giants utilize, and he may be JPP 2.0 for the Giants.
Finally, if receiver Amari Cooper still shows up as available when the Giants’ draft selection occurs, then New York will have to think long and hard about drafting another SEC receiver. Teaming Cooper with Odell Beckham, as well as with a healthy Victor Cruz, will put defenses on the defensive, as long as the offensive line can give quarterback Eli Manning time to throw.
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Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past two seasons for Examiner.com. Born and raised in northern New Jersey, Curt has followed and covered the New York Metropolitan sports scene for 35 years. He attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, NJ and is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His work can be found on Examiner.com.