Draft needs and prospect fits for the New York Giants
As one of the major players in free agency a season ago, the Giants completely transformed their defense and turned themselves into a Super Bowl contender in the NFC overnight. Unfortunately for the defense, however, the offense couldn’t keep pace, and New York made a Wild Card-round exit in the playoffs. The Giants already brought in another receiver in Brandon Marshall to combat that, but the offensive line—PFF’s 20th-ranked unit—last season still needs a ton of work.
[Editor’s note: To see draft needs for every NFC East team, click here.]
Need: Offensive tackle
Even if Ereck Flowers develops into a competent left tackle this upcoming season, it’s still a fairly drastic need. Bobby Hart got a pass to some degree with all the attention focused on Flowers, but the right tackle himself finished with the 67th best grade out of 78 qualifying tackles. Either position could be liable for an upgrade.
Early-round target: Garett Bolles, T, Utah
Garett Bolles is an absolute people-mover. The former Ute should come in Day 1 and be an upgrade to either tackle spot as a run blocker. Only three offensive tackles finished with higher run-blocking grades than Bolles in the FBS last season, and one came from Army’s triple-option scheme. He still has a way to go in pass protections, as he has a bad habit of over-extending himself, but even as an unfinished product, he’d likely still be an upgrade for the Giants.
Mid- or late-round target: Zach Banner, T, USC
Another player who is more potential than finished product at this point, Banner has serious issues with his weight at the moment, tipping the scales upwards of 350 pounds. The crazy thing is that he can still move at that weight and be effective at times, but he’ll never be an NFL pass protector in that range. If Banner can get that under control, there is more to work with here than most late-rounders.
Every single year the Giants seem to need linebacker help, and every single year, they refuse to address it. We saw how much poor linebacking play hurt their defense a season ago (not much), but having competency—or even proficiency—at the position could take the defense to the next level. Jonathan Casillas and Keenan Robinson earned grades of 61.3 and 43.4, respectively, last season.
Early-round target: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
Cunningham is the rare downhill, thumping linebacker that can also matchup easily on tight ends and running backs in man coverage. In 957 coverage snaps over the past three seasons, Cunningham has only allowed five passes against that went for 20 yards or more. An every-down linebacker is just what the doctor ordered for this Giants’ defense, and while he might not fall to New York’s second-round selection at No. 55 overall, it would be a no-brainer if he does.
Mid- or late-round target: Blair Brown, LB, Ohio
The linebacker position is becoming more and more of a coverage one, and Brown is as proficient in coverage as you’ll see from a non-Power-5 linebacker. Linebackers with Brown’s impressive athletic profile usually don’t hail from schools like Ohio, as any big man with athleticism seems to get nabbed up by the Power-5. Brown, though, isn’t just an athlete, he was also PFF’s second-highest-graded linebacker in the FBS last season. His 67 total stops were the fifth-most in the nation.
Need: Tight end
Will Tye and Jerell Adams would both make for fine No. 2 tight ends, but calling either a featured guy at this point is a bit of a stretch. We called Adams a third-round talent a season ago, but it was more in relation to his blocking prowess than his dynamic receiving presence. It’s a fantastic year to be TE-needy, though, as there will be Day 1 starters coming off the board in Round 3.
Early-round target: David Njoku, TE, Miami (FL)
A freak athlete still learning the tight end position, Njoku would make the Giants’ receiving corps terrifying from a matchup perspective. At 6-foo-4, 246 pounds with long arms and world-class leaping ability, Njoku is the flag-bearer for the new breed of NFL tight ends. No linebacker wants to run with him up the seam, while no cornerback wants to defend him on a fade.
Mid- or late-round target: Michael Roberts, TE, Toledo
While Njoku is the new breed of tight end, Roberts is more of a throwback. He only ran a 4.86-second 40-yard dash at the combine, but he weighed in at a whopping 270 pounds and still had an impressive 7.05 second 3-cone. Roberts makes his money on the short-and-intermediate game, as well as in the red zone, where he caught 16 touchdowns to lead the nation. Roberts uses that immense size to gain separation at the top of routes, and then plucks the ball out of the air with ease using his monstrous 11.5-inch hands.