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Five things I think I think: Ways free agency could impact Giants draft

Have the priorities changed for Big Blue? Maybe

NFL: Combine
Christian McCaffrey
Trevor Ruszkowksi-USA TODAY Sports

The Johnathan Hankins situation remains unresolved, but the New York Giants have nonetheless already done the bulk of their important free agency work. How might what they have — and have not — done impact the 2017 NFL Draft?

Let’s use today’s “Five things I think I think” column to answer the ways I believe free agency has done that.

Left tackle remains a priority

Perhaps this one falls into the Captain Obvious category. The Giants added D.J. Fluker in free agency. They have Fluker, John Jerry, Bobby Hart, and maybe even Brett Jones, as guys who can compete on the right side of the offensive line.

Perhaps they will add another — names like Forrest Lamp, Dion Dawkins and Taylor Moton are possible. In my view, though, it would be a good thing for them to find someone in the draft who is at least a left side possibility.

That doesn’t mean I think they must draft Ryan Ramczyk, Garett Bolles or Cam Robinson in Round 1. If they don’t, though, it does mean I would like to see them select someone like Antonio Garcia (Troy) or Julien Davenport (Bucknell) later in the draft to at least give them a potential long-range alternative to Ereck Flowers.

The Giants will draft a running back

The Giants have shown no inclination at this point to go hunting in free agency for a veteran running back. Before free agency we know Adrian Peterson was making overtures to the Giants. To this point, it does not appear the Giants have reciprocated. I don’t believe they ever will. Some have speculated about interest in LeGarrette Blount, but I’m not buying that, either. Unless something changes, I think the Giants turn to the draft to add help for Paul Perkins and Shane Vereen.

If he is on the board at No. 23 I think the Giants will consider Christian McCaffrey. I’m not saying they will, or should, draft him. I just think he will be part of the discussion. If they don’t select him I’m reasonably confident that the Giants will select one of the plethora of quality backs who should be available on Day 2 or Day 3.

Drafting a quarterback seems less likely

I don’t think it has ever been a certainty that the Giants would select a quarterback at at some point in the draft. With both Josh Johnson and Geno Smith on the roster, though, I think the odds of that happening have gotten longer.

Sure, it’s possible. Johnson and Smith are not guaranteed roster spots. If the Giants really love somebody like Jerod Evans of Virginia Tech or Joshua Dobbs of Tennessee as a late-round developmental quarterback, why not? With Smith perhaps limited in the Spring and into training camp as he recovers from knee surgery, there will be some practice reps available.

It seems more likely, though, that the Giants wait until at least 2018 to grab a quarterback in the draft.

Tight end is less likely in Round 1

Mock drafts continue to focus on the tight end position for the Giants in the first round. O.J. Howard and David Njoku are among players most often mocked to the Giants, and even Bucky Hodges sneaks in there occasionally.

I do believe the Giants will try to grab a pass-catching tight end with the potential to develop into an all-around player at some point in the draft. Hodges, Jordan Leggett, Gerald Everett, Eric Saubert, Jake Butt and others are among the possibilities.

I think, though, that using the 23rd pick on a tight end is less likely because of the additions of Rhett Ellison and Brandon Marshall. Ellison will handle the blocking duties as a fullback/tight end/H-Back type. Marshall gives the Giants the big-bodied receiver they needed.

As I’ve said about other things, tight end is still possible. If the Giants really love Njoku and he’s there (I do not believe Howard will still be on the board) grabbing him is certainly acceptable. I just think the Giants have put themselves in a position where they don’t have to select a tight end right away.

An impact front seven defender is a priority

As I write this we still don’t know if Hankins will return to the Giants. We know that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and linebacker Keenan Robinson will. Regardless of all of that, I have thought all along that an impact defender in the front seven should be a priority for the Giants in the draft. I still do.

I don’t know if that player will be a defensive tackle, pass-rushing defensive end like Charles Harris or Taco Charlton to help take pressure off Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon, or a linebacker like Haason Reddick or Zach Cunningham.

As much as the focus has been on offense, though, I do believe adding a potential impact player to the front seven of the defense is something the Giants would like to do.

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