Is Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin really the No. 1 choice of the New York Giants for their pick at No. 12 in the 2014 NFL Draft? Jordan Ranaan of NJ.com has Martin atop his list of the 10 most likely picks for the Giants in the first round. Ranaan says the Giants are "extremely high" on Martin and that "the Giants prefer Martin to Lewan."
Dan Shonka of Ourlads, a former NFL scout, said "the Giants like Martin's versatility. He's a 5 for 1 guy. The Giants don't think Lewan will be there at 12 either."
Notably, Ranaan's top 10 list does not including North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron. Ranaan writes matter-of-factly that "the Giants aren't especially high on him, and that they won't draft him at No. 12."
Are you buying what Ranaan is selling here? I asked another long-time NFL scout about Ranaan's list and his response was that anyone who tells you they know what the Giants' draft board looks like is "just someone coming up with pre-draft bulls---."
ESPN's Dan Graziano weighed in on Ranaan's list this way:
I don't know what they're going to do, and neither does anyone else to whom I've talked. I've come away from recent conversations with the belief that they're determined to address the offensive line with one or possibly two picks in the early rounds. Does that mean Taylor Lewan or Zack Martin in the first? A center in the second or third? Both? The first-season success of Justin Pugh as a 16-game starter at right tackle opened the Giants' eyes a bit to the value of top-tier talent on the offensive line, and the struggles they had along the line at other spots in 2013 reinforced the importance of restocking their inventory there.
Yet, it's still possible to convince yourself that the best thing to do at No. 12 would be to take a new passing-game weapon for Eli Manning.
Martin could certainly be the pick. Some teams reportedly prefer Martin and his versatility to Lewan, a pure left tackle. SB Nation's Stephen White, a former NFL player, calls it a draw:
I wouldn't be surprised at all if some teams have Martin and Lewan even on their boards. What Martin lacks in size compared to Lewan, he makes up for with position versatility and more dominant film. Neither guy has the ceiling of Robinson or Matthews, the two top tackles in this draft, but both Lewan and Martin are still likely to be day one starters who play quite a bit of quality football over the next 10 years.
In the end, I think Martin will come off the board after Lewan. Teams tend to overvalue offensive tackles and undervalue guards. With Martin, there are no guarantees that he will ever be good enough to play offensive tackle on the next level, so if you take him you have to assume it's to play guard exclusively.
Beyond those two, the pick could be just about anyone on Ranaan's list. It could be some players who aren't on the list. It could be a like Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans who no one seriously believes will last to the 12th spot. Like Ranaan, I have my doubts that the Giants and Ebron are a match -- but I'm not going to discount the possibility or take him off my list of potential draftees.
We just don't know what will happen. The only thing we do know is that May 8, the day the draft finally begins, can't get here fast enough.