I think the pick is going to be an offensive lineman. Of course, I thought that months ago. And I thought that last year, too, when, with the Giants on the clock, I was certain the pick would be Zack Martin. There are reasons why the pick might not be an offensive lineman, such as a wide receiver (ahem, Amari Cooper) or defensive end (Dante Fowler Jr., anyone?) they can't pass up falling to No. 9. If the draft goes somewhat predictably through eight picks, though, it is set up perfectly for the Giants to grab the offensive lineman of their choice. Besides, look back at free agency and the only positions of need the Giants really have not addressed in a major way are offensive line and safety. There is better value at nine among offensive linemen than among safeties.
I think I don't know which offensive lineman is at the top of the Giants' list. Every analyst, scout or draftnik you reach out to has a different take on which offensive lineman would be the best pick for the Giants -- assuming, of course, that they don't go off the rails and do something like select running back Todd Gurley with the ninth pick. Most analysts still see Brandon Scherff of Iowa as the best offensive lineman in the class, and increasingly you hear the belief that he could be an NFL left tackle. Ereck Flowers is connected to the Giants all the time. Andrus Peat makes a ton of sense because he is a pure tackle, should be able to handle the left side in the NFL, and should be a Day 1 contributor at least on the right side. La'el Collins isn't getting much love lately, but he has plenty of supporters. He also has the LSU connection, and we know the Giants have historically loved players from LSU. I honestly have no idea which of the four is at the top of the Giants' list.
I think Flowers would be the biggest gamble of the 'Big Four' offensive linemen. No matter what position you think they fill, most analysts agree that Scherff, Collins and Peat are Day 1 starters at the NFL level. The question for Scherff and Collins is simply whether they can eventually handle the premium left tackle position. When it comes to Flowers, there are more question marks. Ex-Giant Chris Snee recently referred to Flowers as "a project." Maybe that's a smokescreen, but most analysts do believe Flowers has more technical issues in his game and a longer learning curve than the other three players. GM Jerry Reese wants a player who "will come in and play, and play quickly" with the ninth pick. Of the top linemen on the board, Flowers seems least likely to fit that description.
I think I would be surprised if a safety isn't among the Day 2 picks. It's a magic trick. Reese always says the Giants stick to their board and take the best player available. Yet, somehow, some way, that best player available always happens to turn out to match a position of need at some point early in the draft. Need and value will somehow slam into each other for the Giants on Day 2, and they will come away with a player to add to their uncertain safety mix.
I think the Giants will stay at No. 9. That, I know is hardly going out on a limb. It is, however, what I believe will happen on Thursday night. I don't believe anyone on the board will tempt Reese into mortgaging other picks to move up. I also seriously doubt Reese will give up the opportunity to pick in the top 10 for the first time in his career as a general manager. There will probably be mayhem all around Reese and the Giants, with teams moving up, down and all around chasing players they think they have to have. A trade down to somewhere in the 12 to 14 range certainly makes some sense considering the first-round talent tiers and the idea of adding at least one extra pick. In typical Giants style, though, I think they stay right at No. 9 and take the player they believe is the biggest difference-maker on the board at that time.