Recent 2016 NFL mock drafts are increasingly focused on the idea that the New York Giants will select an offensive player with the 10th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, and that offensive player is most likely to be an offensive tackle. Recently, though, beat writers have been expressing a vastly different idea. Jordan Ranaan of NJ Advance Media wrote that picking an offensive tackle would be "a massive mistake," and ESPN's Dan Graziano tweeted that the pick at No. 10 would be "defense no matter what."
Why can't the pick be an offensive tackle? My recent mock draft selections [here | here] make it clear that I'm not buying the argument that it simply isn't possible for the pick to be a tackle, or that it would be "a massive mistake." I won't make the argument that the pick "should" be an offensive tackle. There are plenty of good reasons to believe the pick will be a defensive player. I'm just not buying the argument that there is no way the pick "could" be an offensive tackle.
With that said, let's make the case for, and against, picking an offensive tackle like Ronnie Stanley of Notre Dame or Jack Conklin of Michigan State in the first round.
The case for
Eli Manning. Plain and simple, the case for drafting an offensive tackle at No. 10 revolves around the Giants' quarterback. Perhaps the star of Odell Beckham Jr. shines brighter on the worldwide stage, but the Giants go nowhere unless they have their franchise quarterback performing at a high level.
Manning is an immobile 35-year-old quarterback. We have seen enough goofy things happen when he starts running around to know Manning needs to be protected to succeed. While he has been an iron man, the reality is that sooner or later he is going to take a hit and wind up unable to bounce right up and carry on. To delay the inevitable as long as possible, to give themselves the best chance to succeed, the Giants have to do everything in their power to protect him.
Heading into the draft, they may well have the power to finish reconstructing their offensive line. That's something they have been trying to do since 2013 when they selected Justin Pugh in the first round, and the job isn't done yet. Pugh, Weston Richburg, Ereck Flowers, perhaps Bobby Hart if he develops, and a young right tackle would give the Giants a young offensive line they might be able to keep together for a few years.
How would it be "a massive mistake" to accomplish that?
The case against
There are several points to the argument against using the 10th overall pick on an offensive lineman. Those include the massive draft resources the Giants have allocated to the line since 2013, including the No. 9 overall pick a year ago, the belief that there should be a starting-caliber right tackle available on Day 2 of the draft, and that despite the money they have spent their defensive rebuild is nowhere near complete.
The Giants have, indeed, used an extraordinary amount of early-round draft resources offensive line the past three seasons. A first-round pick in 2013 (Pugh), a second-round pick in 2014 (Richburg), and a first-round pick last year (Flowers). That is a lot, and you can easily make the argument that so much attention to one position group is part of the reason why the defense has fallen on hard times.
Toss in the first-round selections of David Wilson in 2012 and Beckham in 2014 and the Giants have not allocated a first-round pick to the defense since 2011 when their first two picks, Prince Amukamara and Marvin Austin, were defensive players.
Look deeper at the draft history, and only six of the Giants' 15 picks in the first three rounds since 2012 have been on the defensive side of the ball.
It is easy to argue that the Giants need to reverse this trend, that they need to draft an impact defensive player at No. 10 who can be a long-term building block. Despite all of the money they spent this offseason, they still have room for playmakers at every level of the defense, the line, linebackers, cornerback, safety.
The argument against drafting an offensive lineman at No. 10 includes the idea that you can probably get a right tackle on Day 2, but you aren't nearly as likely to be able to find a game-changing defensive player at that point. It certainly has merit.
In the end, no one knows exactly what the Giants will do. There are nine teams picking ahead of the Giants and we have to see what they do first. As many times as I have mocked Stanley to the Giants, though, I am becoming more and more convinced that the Giants will continue their defensive reconstruction with the 10th overall pick. The names increasingly bandied about as potential targets are Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd, Florida corner Vernon Hargreaves III, and maybe Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson.
It would be hard to argue with the Giants if they go in that direction. If they think they can address the right tackle position another way, it is probably the correct thing to do. If, however, the Giants believe Stanley or Conklin is the right choice I believe that is also a defensible decision.