The 2012 NFL Draft is less than a week away. With that in mind, Pat Traina of Inside Football and I have decided to revive the 'Friday Five' feature for the next two or three weeks. This week's edition focuses, of course, on the draft and the offseason moves to date.
Pat: I really like the approach Jerry Reese has taken, an approach that actually worked well for them last year but really wasn't talked about much. He's brining in veterans to plug holes, but the exception this year is that the vets he's brining in have all been added on one-year "prove it" deals. This way, it gives the coaching staff time to work with the younger guys who will ultimately step in and replace some of the aging talent. Smart, smart strategy by Reese, in my opinion.
The biggest free agency loss, in my opinion, is Mario Manningham only because the Giants now have a big hole at that third receiver spot. Right now, the candidates are Jerrel Jernigan, who really didn't get any snaps with the offense last year, Ramses Barden, who once he was healthy, fell behind Jernigan ion the depth chart, and Domenik Hixon, who's coming off his second knee surgery. Even if the Giants draft a receiver high - and I think they will - the experience at that critical third receiver spot is of concern.
The biggest acquisition? I'm going to go with cornerback Antwaun Molden over tight end Martellus Bennett. Why? In the Giants offense, the tight end's primary role is to block first, receive second. I think Bennett could provide a boost in both those areas. But, in the defense, you want to have three solid corners, and while I'm optimistic about Terrell Thomas and Prince Amukamara, the problem with Amukamara is that he's potentially not going to be able to do much this spring as he lets his foot continue heal.
Tack on the fact that he didn't have an off-season last year, he didn't have much of a training camp, he missed what, 9 weeks of the regular season, and I think he's behind where he should be in terms of getting it done on the field. So to me, Molden, who was signed to a one-year deal, is an excellent example of what I was talking about earlier about veterans serving as stopgap solutions until the kids are ready to go onto a bigger role.,
Ed: How concerned are you about the future of Ahmad Bradshaw? This latest procedure on his feet seems somewhat radical, and seems as though it should be a cause for the Giants to worry.
Pat: I'm very concerned. He's had annual foot issues since his second year in the pros. Moreover, if I remember correctly, he attributed that to the way he walks. So I fear it's always going to be a problem with him, and I think this team needs to make sure they have a durable number two back who can get it done consistently because at this point, I question whether Bradshaw is going to ever make it through a full season without foot problems and I also have to wonder if he does continue to have these small fractures, how they're going to end up treating it so it's not a recurring issue.
Ed: An NFL Draft question. Who is the one player you think the Giants would absolutely be unable to pass up if he is available at No. 32? From the options that seem realistic, of course.
Pat: Well I'm not really much of a draft expert, but in my mock for Inside Football, I had the Giants going with DE Whitney Mercilus, who probably won't fall down to them at 32, but if he did, I think he'd be hard to pass up. My reason for a defensive end is that you have both Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka (a linebacker AND defensive end) who will be UFAs after this season. I am 99.9 percent certain that the Giants won't be able to re-sign both of them. So let's say you lose Osi, then who is your third defensive end? Kiwi, perhaps, if he's re-signed and he can be relieved of his linebacker duties. Justin Trattou? Maybe, but I think he's eventually going to evolve more into that Dave Tollefson type of role. Therefore, to me, defensive end is the way to go.
Ed: Is there one position where you think the Giants MUST come out of the draft with a player who can contribute immediately, if not start from Day 1?
Pat: I answered this question above, but to address if there's a player that I think can contribute immediate if not start from Day 1, I'm thinking a defensive end might be able to contribute in spot situations. I honestly don't think there are any starting jobs up for grabs that a rookie is going to solve. You have to remember that with the Giants drafting 32nd, the range of 25-32 generally looks at lower first round,, high second round talent.
Ed: Fans get hysterical about the NFL schedule, which was released this week. What is your take on the Giants 2012 schedule, and on the hysteria about how difficult it seems to be on paper?
Pat: Well from a writer's perspective, I have my fingers crossed that the seven 1 p.m. ET starts stay as is. Seriously, though the schedule is hat it is - no one is going to change it at this point. However, I think it's going to be a good challenge for the Giants. I know there was some concern about how the schedule stacked up - one of my readers even pondered whether there was a conspiracy against the Giants.
I did this study of the number of days in between games for the Giants and their opponents and I think if you look at it, it's really NOT that bad. (Yes, I know about having to play the Panthers on three days of prep, but the Panthers don't get any kind of advantage either as they have to face the defending Super bowl champs on three days of prep as well).
-- Be sure to stop by Inside Football to see my answers to Pat's questions.