As the Giants prepare their final draft board, general manager Jerry Reese will have to decide between selecting for need (offensive line, defensive line, running back and linebacker), or simply sticking with his customary plan of snatching the best player available.
Either way, Reese said he feels a good player will fall into the Giants’ lap at the No. 19 pick — even though he’s not fond of picking at that spot.
“We don’t like picking 19. That is early for us. We hate picking this high. But hopefully we can get a player who can come in and contribute for you right away,” Reese said. “It is a good draft. I think there are a lot of good players in the draft at every position. I don’t see one position that is stronger than the other, though.”
The fact the Giants are picking near the middle of the pack means it’s likely someone good will fall. It’s a trend that continues in every draft, as highly graded players fall for some reason or another.
Most mock drafts have the Giants selecting either a lineman, linebacker or pass-rushing defensive end. And according to most mocks, it could be someone like offensive tackle D.J. Fluker (Alabama), inside linebacker Alec Ogletree (Georgia) or defensive end Bjoern Werner (Florida State). Should all three be available when the Giants select, Reese will have a good problem on his hands, because they rank among the best at their respective positions and would also fill immediate needs.
“We need linebackers, we need D-line, we need the offensive line and we need every position,” said Reese. “We are trying to get as many players at every position that we can.”
Whatever Reese decides, one thing is for sure, that rookie will be expected to play like a veteran because he’ll be on the field for his share of snaps this upcoming season.
“In this day and age of bringing your draft picks in, and just sitting them for a year or two, I think those days are dwindling away,” Reese said. “I think you have to bring them in and get those guys ready to play. You’d like to develop guys, and quite frankly guys are really not ready to come in, but sometimes you have to force them in there. ... We have played young players in the past, because nowadays you really have to get them ready to go pretty quickly.”
Giants’ likely targets:
Fluker, 6-foot-5, 339 pounds — He might be the best run-blocking lineman in the entire draft. He is NFL ready because of the pro-style program Nick Saban runs. Fluker could even kick inside to guard, so his versatility is a plus. And if anything, Giants’ head coach Tom Coughlin cherishes offensive linemen who can play more than one position.
Ogletree, 6-foot-2, 242 pounds — He was overshadowed some by the excellent season his Bulldogs teammate Jarvis Jones had, but Ogletree is no slouch. He’s an elite athlete who can make plays at the linebacker position, and could fit either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. Although Ogletree has had some run-ins with the law during his time at Georgia, he could actually benefit by playing for a strict disciplinarian like Coughlin, as well as being around a solid group of professionals in the Giants’ locker room.
Werner, 6-foot-3, 266 pounds — No team rotates pass rushers like the Giants, so New York would be an ideal landing spot for a talented prospect such as Werner. Big Blue will need to fill a hole in the rotation now that Osi Umenyiora is on the Falcons. Werner would be the classic Giants pick because he has a high work ethic, is NFL ready in size, strength and technique and is a productive player from a major program — as his 49 tackles behind the line over the last two years can attest.
Big Blue notes ...
» Wideout Victor Cruz is no longer a restricted free agent, as the deadline for any team to make a qualifying offer passed last Friday. He was originally placed with a first-round tender, meaning had any team offered him a deal they would’ve had to give up their first-round pick in this year’s draft if the Giants declined to match. That was obviously too steep a price, as no one made Cruz’s camp an official offer.
» Former Giants guard Rich Seubert, who played 10 years, will announce the team’s second-round pick from the podium on Friday.
» Center David Baas had elbow surgery last week, but insists it was just to remove some bone spurs. He added he’ll definitely be ready for training camp.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.