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2016 NFL Draft: OT Jack Conklin a dark-horse candidate at No. 10 for New York Giants

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2016 NFL Draft only a few days away the focus of the New York Giants seems to have narrowed down to a few prospects. My original dark-horse candidate, Leonard Floyd, has actually become one of the more popular mock selections for the Giants at number 10. Ezekiel Elliott, Ronnie Stanley, and Vernon Hargreaves were the top three most common picks, and of those four I believe that Floyd and Hargreaves are the favorites for the Giants pick. Last year the Giants gave up nearly 400 yards per game on defense and even though they added a few play-makers  in Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins, and Damon "Snacks" Harrison there is still a lot of room for improvement on that side of the ball.

If there is a situation where the top play-makers on defense are gone the Giants could be looking at choosing between tanley, Elliott, Laquon Treadwell, and Jack Conklin.

The Giants could go a number of different directions at the number 10 overall spot, but I think the pick will be Floyd, Hargreaves, or potentially Myles Jack if there is positive medical check on Jack. If they don't go defense I expect the Giants to be most interested in Elliott or Conklin. Does Elliott's position give the Giants pause? Picking in the top 10 of the draft is not somewhere the Giants expect to be often, do they decide that running back doesn't hold enough positional value? Other than defense and another offensive play-maker (WR, TE, or RB whichever position the Giants need to take some pressure off Odell Beckham Jr.).  The other option is fixing the right side of their offensive line. The Giants dipped their toes into free agency looking at potential offensive linemen like Russell Okung, but came away empty handed. Fixing their offensive line is still a priority despite the resources they have invested in the position lately.

If the Giants go offensive line when do they go and who might entice them? There are really two options in the top 10 Stanley and Jack Conklin. Stanley is more athletic, and is more of a prototype of what teams look for in franchise left tackles, and is a candidate to be taken op 10, but the Giants are coming off an experience where they shelled out big time money to a franchise LT who was labeled "finesse" along with a number of other players that have not worked out, and the Giants have made a concerted effort this offseason to get tougher and stronger.

This is where Conklin comes in. Conklin is a self-made man coming out of highs school with no major Division I scholarship offers who worked his way up from walk-on to probable top 20 pick. Conklin has a reputation as a mauler compared to Jon Runyan. One NFL scout said about Conklin, "That is a dude, right there. He was busting up Ohio State in the fourth quarter of that game not because he was more talented than those guys but because he just wanted it more. He's tougher than old beef jerky." Conklin is not considered a top athlete, but has been rising up boards lately, with Tony Pauline reporting that he has heard the Browns are considering Conklin as high as eighth overall.

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"He's better than (Eric) Fisher when Fisher was the first pick (in 2013). He's better than (Luke) Joeckel. That was a horrible draft." Another scout said,  "What he ran (4.99) shocked the heck out of me. He might end up being the best (tackle) because he's so tough. I've got nothing negative about him. Whatever he does, I think he gives you 100%.

That's what the Giants are looking for in players. They have preached toughness ever since Tom Coughlin took over (and well before that), but have fallen short on that watermark recently. I believe that a lot of this came to a head last year when Ereck Flowers reminded the Giants what a tough offensive linemen looked like. While Will Beatty was missing games, "nursing" back from an injury, Flowers was hobbling onto the field refusing to miss any action. Then when the offseason came around Beatty, Geoff Schwartz and Prince Amukamara were gone. All talented players who couldn't stay on the field. Conklinis probably not the Giants top target. That appears to be Floyd, Hargreaves, and the other top defensive play-makers. But when the 10th pick comes up don't be surprised if the Giants leave Stanley waiting and select the rough and tumble Conklin. Conklin's style of play makes him an ideal target and there is recent precedent of tough offensive linemen who are not prototypical left tackles going high in the draft with Jonathan Cooper, Chance Warmack, and Brandon Scherff.

Other Dark-Horse Candidates