With the 2014 NFL Combine in the rearview mirror let's look at five players who have positioned themselves as players the New York Giants have to consider should they be available when the Giants select at No. 12 in the first round. Let's discount players who are almost certain to be gone, and focus on players who realistically could be on the board at 12.
1. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan -- Before the Combine NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said the Giants should "jump all over him." Lewan did nothing at the Combine to dissuade that opinion. In fact, he wowed talent evaluators to the point where some believe the Giants would actually have to trade up if they want the Michigan left tackle.
2. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M -- Tony Pauline of Draft Insider reported that his sources say Evans "is a real possibility" for the Giants at 12, especially if Lewan is off the board. The 6-foot-5, 231-pound Evans ran a 4.53 40 and figures to come off the board right around the Giants' selection. SI.com summarized Evans' Combine performance:
The 6-5 Evans locked in a very respectable 4.53 40, comfortably ahead of several other receivers. Better yet, he glided through pass-catching drills with little trouble. Add that performance in to what he showed teamed up with Johnny Manziel in college, and it’s hard to see him slipping far out of the top 10, if he even lasts that long.
3. Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina -- SB Nation's Dan Kadar mocked Ebron to the Giants in his latest mock draft. Would the Giants really look in that direction at 12? They might if they choose to go away from offensive line in the first round, and if they aren't able to address the tight end position in free agency. If Jermichael Finley, seemingly the most likely free-agent tight end target, ends up with the Giants this doesn't happen. Until it does, put Ebron on the list.
4. Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State/Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State -- I am cheating a little and lumping both of these guys together since there seems to be no consensus on which guy is the top corner in the draft. One of my long-held philosophies is that in today's NFL you can never have enough quality cornerbacks, and the Giants don't have enough. Dennard ran an official 4.51 40 at the Combine, unofficially 4.42, and moved well in drills, quelling any concerns about this athleticism. Gilbert ran faster (4.37), is considered a playmaker and has return skills although he isn't as consisten.
5. Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame -- Maybe Martin is a bit of a reach at 12, maybe he isn't. If the Giants are convinced they have to go offensive line at 12 (and let's do away with the best player available stuff -- need always factors in) Martin would likely be the backup plan if the top three offensive tackles are gone. He has the positional versatility the Giants love, and he has been called a better prospect than last year's first-round pick by the Giants, Justin Pugh. That has to put him in play.
This list does not mean I think the pick has to, or will definitely, come from these five players. It just means they have to be in play. Trading down and collecting more picks in a deep draft has to be in play. Players like defensive tackles Aaron Donald (Pittsburgh) and Louis Nix III (Notre Dame) might be in play if Linval Joseph leaves in free agency. Maybe UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr is in play if he falls. We'll see what happens.
Your thoughts, Giants' fans?