The more I study the 2011 NFL Draft, and the more I scour the constantly-updated mock drafts, the more often I see Boston College offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo connected with the New York Giants when it comes to the 19th selection of the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. It happened again today, as SB Nation chose Castonzo for the Giants in their latest mock draft.
It appears that USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith is more and more the consensus choice as the first offensive tackle likely to be taken this April, and having answered concerns about his size at the NFL Scouting Combine that makes sense. By all accounts he is the most natural athlete of any of the tackles and seems to have the most upside. Castonzo is in the group right behind Smith, and makes sense for the Giants. The fact that scouts believe he has left tackle ability, plus the Boston College connection, make him a natural for New York.
Generally, my draft belief is take the best player available regardless of need. There are exceptions to that, or at least considerations as to how you structure your draft board. Need factors into that, of course. Any team that tells you their draft board is not affected by what they see as their needs, or what type of system they run, is not telling you the complete truth.
As I look at the draft right now, there are six front line offensive tackles (Smith, Castonzo, Gabe Carimi, Nate Solder, Derek Sherrod and Ben Ijalana) who will all most likely be off the board before the Giants select at No. 52 in the second round. If the Giants want one of them -- and they probably should -- the only way to guarantee getting one is to go tackle with the 19th pick.
The other thing that factors into that is that Akeem Ayers' stock is dropping somewhat after the Combine -- whether you care about his slowish 40 time or not, that is the reality of how the draft process works. If you really want a linebacker, running back right now it looks like there should be quite a few quality ones available to the Giants beginning in the second round. Same with center, where only Florida's Mike Pouncey looks likely to come off the board before No. 52.
When it comes to the premier tackles, though, if General Manager Jerry Reese wants one it seems like he had better not waste any time grabbing one.