How has free agency affected the New York Giants' plans in the 2014 NFL Draft? 'Raptor' took a look at that question over the weekend, and now SB Nation's Dan Kadar is out with a new 2014 NFL Mock Draft that gives some indication of how NFL Draft analysts view the answer to that question.
Kadar has the Giants selecting North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron with the 12th overall pick of the first round. He writes:
New York's offense needs playmakers. In this scenario, the Giants would be choosing between Ebron and Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans. Ebron is the choice because he would give the offense more versatility and the type of target at tight end Eli Manning hasn't had since Jeremy Shockey.
Other options: WR Odell Beckham Jr., WR Mike Evans, CB Justin Gilbert
You absolutely must consider what the Giants accomplish -- and don't accomplish -- in free agency when trying to figure out how they might approach the draft, especially their first-round pick. That is why all the draft speculation up until now has been fun, but fruitless.
My educated guess is that Kadar is pretty much right on target here. Looking at what the Giants have done in free agency the area that has not been addressed -- and still won't have been addressed in a substantial way even if Mario Manningham returns to the Giants -- is the area of pass-catching weaponry for quarterback Eli Manning and new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. At this point the Giants might as well hire a plane to carry around a banner screaming 'we will be addressing the need for receivers in the draft.'
Evans and Ebron, then, are the two players who appear to be primary targets at No. 12. If the Giants do not sign Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, cornerback will also undoubtedly be in play. Walter Thurmond signed a one-year deal, and without DRC he could serve as a terrific bridge while the Giants develop a young corner to take over on the outside. That means Oklahoma State's Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State, whichever player the Giants prefer, would also be a consideration at 12.
Many analysts still believe that the Giants would draft offensive tackle Taylor Lewan at No. 12 if he is available, and that might be the case. It is entirely possible that the value there would be too great to pass up. In Kadar's mock, however, Lewan is not available, having gone to the Buffalo Bills with the ninth overall pick. It seems increasingly likely that the three premier offensive tackles -- Lewan, Greg Robinson of Auburn and Jake Matthews of Texas A&M -- will be off the board before the Giants select.
Some, including many here, will make the case for Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald at No. 12. As of now, I'm not buying. The Giants drafted Johnathan Hankins a year ago to replace Linval Joseph and, if they stick with the way they have done business in the past, will supplement the tackle rotation with established veterans.