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2016 NFL Draft: Why the Giants can't select Jaylon Smith early

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The Giants need players who can help them -- now.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

"Your first three picks you want to get some guys who can come in and contribute right away."

That is a direct quote from New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese in his pre-draft press conference just days before the 2014 NFL Draft. It is something he says every year, and will almost certainly say again on Friday when he meets the media and tries to tell them nothing about the team's plans for the 2016 NFL Draft.

"Every draft is important, but I would say this one moreso than usual. Because we're picking so high, and because we're coming off of three-and-a-half losing years.

"It's time to pick it up. We spent all this money in free agency, and we got better. But we're still not there, and we need some impact players."

That is a direct quote from Giants co-owner John Mara, uttered just a few days ago.

Together, they say everything you need to know about why the Giants can't draft Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith. At least, in my view, why they can't even think about it in the first two rounds.

Had Smith not gotten his knee wrecked during the New Year's Day Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State, we might well have spent the last few months arguing over whether he or Myles Jack was the better pro prospect, and praying to the draft Gods that one would fall to the Giants at No. 10.

Sadly, though, that wasn't to be.

Why do I bring this up now? Well, because questions about Smith and the Giants keep coming up. A Smith to the Giants question was asked in Saturday's Big Blue View mailbag. Mocking The Draft analyst Dan Kadar suggested Smith as an option when I took West Virginia safety Karl Joseph for the Giants in Round 2 of the SB Nation bloggers mock draft.

I wish the Giants were in a position to absorb Smith and wait a year for him. Unfortunately, they aren't. And it comes back to what Reese always says about the team's first three picks. They need them to play. Now.

The Giants have not made the playoffs in four years. They have a rookie head coach. They have a 35-year-old franchise quarterback whose best years are rapidly slipping away. They have a general manager who is, well, probably GM'ing for his job.

They aren't in long-range planning mode. They are in "2016 darn well better be an improvement over the last three years" mode.

You don't try to bring that about by using a premium pick to select a player who you know most likely won't see the field for a single snap in 2016.

The New England Patriots could afford to do that. So, too, could the Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers and maybe a few other teams who have secure, established head coaches and know they already have a team capable of making a deep 2016 playoff run.

The Giants, quite obviously, are not one of those teams. You could argue that the Giants have already collected a gaggle of stop-gap type middle linebackers in Jasper Brinkley, Kelvin Sheppard, and Keenan Robinson. You would be right, but that still doesn't mean the Giants could afford to select a player at 40 who probably won't play as a rookie.

Perhaps in the third round the Giants could consider Smith, but in all likelihood someone with extra picks or an already solid roster will take him before the Giants get that opportunity.

So, I see little hope that Smith will end up with the Giants.