We've focused a lot of attention on whom the Giants should pick at #12 - but maybe we should be aiming lower.
For us draftniks, nirvana is when the "best available athlete" aligns with a critical team need. Right now, we have two such needs - OL and WR. TE would be close behind. We do need help at DE and DT, and upgrades at LB are always welcome - but if the season were to start tomorrow, which would you be most worried about? (Make that terrified.) I rest my case.
As it happens, there are players in this draft who might fit the sweet spot for the Giants. OT Taylor Lewan, WR Mike Evans and TE Eric Ebron would be worth a #12, and could be available. That seems more likely the case for Ebron than Lewan and Evans, who may well be gone by then. From all accounts, Lewan is a potential top 10 pick, someone who could anchor the line for the next decade. He's the best match of tremendous ability and a position of need. If he's there at 12, I'd grab him in heartbeat. But what if he's not? Many love Evans, the best jump-ball receiver in the draft. But some argue he has to win so many jump balls because he doesn't have the speed to get good separation, and will have more trouble in the pros. Ebron is clearly the best TE in the draft - but do you really want to spend a #12 on a tight end? (I also don't know if he can block, though admittedly he certainly couldn't do any worse than his predecessor....)
That's the demand side of the equation - what about the supply side? This looks to be an unusually deep draft, particularly at one of those positions of need, wide receiver. Given that, if a clear no-brainer isn't available at #12, there'd be no better year than this one to trade down and gain a pick. I don't mean all the way down to the Seahawks - but dropping 5-8 slots to the 17-20 range would probably give us an extra third-round pick - and still hit the sweet spot between ability and need. I'd go for OL - if Lewan is gone, we could still pick up Zack Martin or Xavier Su'a Fila, who'd be the perfect hybrids, able play either tackle or guard. (In that sense, they're even better than Lewan.) At WR, we might pick up Marquise Lee or Odell Beckham, Jr. Can you really make a case that Evans is that much better? And in a draft like this, there are ample good opportunities for WR in the second or third rounds and even lower.
What might that extra third-round pick bring us? Let's use the CBS Sports Big Board as a reference. What do we see at #76? Hm, Jarvis Landry, WR. Let's look a half dozen picks in either direction: DEs Marcus Smith or Jackson Jeffcoat, DTs Kelsey Quarles or Ego Ferguson, C Weston Richburg, RB Jeremy Hill, ILB Chris Borland, OT Billy Turner, WR Martavis Bryant - just to mention positions of possible need. Wow - an embarrassment of riches. It's really hard to pick one. But wait - we get to pick two! I'd grab Richburg in any case, but depending on which way we went in the first round, either Landry or Bryant or one of the D-line prospects would be stellar for the other.
I've always subscribed to the best available athlete philosophy, and I've always been leery of trades. But this year, where the needs are so great and so specific, and the supply of athletes is so deep, we might want to move the slot to the point where need and ability do match up - and gain an extra pick in the process. Don't get me wrong. If we end up taking Evans or Ebron with the first pick, I'll applaud and be fine - they're not bad choices. I'll be even happier if Taylor Lewan is still there and we take him. But if he's not, I'll be thrilled if we trade the pick.
"Your thoughts, Giants' fans?"