Giants score big with first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. in last year’s draft.
It was a simple description. And really, it’s all Jerry Reese wants.
It was last Thursday, and the Giants GM was jokingly asked a question he would never answer: Just who would the Giants pick in the first round of the NFL draft.
“A good player,” he said.
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And that’s exactly what the Giants need. Big Blue holds the ninth overall pick in Thursday night’s NFL draft in Chicago, and a club that went 6-10 a year ago has plenty of holes to fill.
They’ll have plenty of opportunity to fill at least one of their openings in the first round, and that’s their goal, said Reese.
“If you draft him at nine, he is a guy you expect to come in and play and play quickly,” he said.
Here’s a look at the three positions the club will likely aim to plug in the draft:
The Giants pursued several defensive linemen in free agency, including the Eagles’ Brandon Graham, but only one of note — ex-Cowboy George Selvie — landed in East Rutherford. Selvie is a solid defensive end against the run, but he’s topped five sacks only once in his career, in 2013.
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is known for rotating his defensive linemen, but at the moment he has just one proven pass-rusher in Jason Pierre-Paul. Depth is needed.
Pierre-Paul also has yet to sign his franchise-tag tender. Drafting a pass-rusher early would give the Giants the talent they need, and also provide insurance if Pierre-Paul holds out this season or heads elsewhere next spring.
Reese has worked hard to revamp this group over the last three years, drafting right tackle Justin Pugh in 2013, center Weston Richburg last year, and signing Geoff Schwartz. But there’s still a gaping hole at left guard, where journeyman John Jerry is currently the projected starter.
It’s a unit that seems one road-grader away from being steady, and Reese recognizes that.
“What we want to do is get as many good players as we can and create as much competition as we can in the offensive line,” he said.
Cooper Taylor. Nat Berhe. Josh Gordy. At the moment, these are the Giants’ safeties, an inexperienced, unproven trio that combined to make 37 tackles last year.
Reese believes the group has ability, but he also understands the need for depth at the position. Stevie Brown could still return to lend a veteran presence, but he’s now three years removed from his eight-interception explosion of 2012 and seems more stop gap than solution.
Reese has indicated that he wants to give the youngsters a chance. Coughlin has also talked of shifting a corner — Chykie Brown or Bennett Jackson — to safety. But the Giants also understand that an impact safety from the draft could help solidify their secondary.
“We have some young players that we think have some talent,” Reese said. “But we are going to continue to try and upgrade that position as well.”
THREE TO WATCH
AMARI COOPER, WR, ALABAMA
This one’s a longshot. Arguably the draft’s best wideout, the Heisman Trophy finalist would have to slip to reach Giants. But if he does (and it could happen), can Reese pass on a receiver to complement Beckham, especially given the uncertainty surrounding Victor Cruz?
BRANDON SCHERFF, OL, IOWA
Versatile lineman who has been linked to Giants throughout predraft process. Current Giants OL Justin Pugh says he wants Scherff, who could replace John Jerry at left guard, or possibly play right tackle, bumping Pugh inside.
LEONARD WILLIAMS, DT, USC
6-5, 302-pound lineman just may be draft’s top talent, although he’s being overshadowed by buzzier names. Would give Spagnuolo a flexible lineman capable of playing tackle or end and a dangerous pass-rush weapon. Likely is only be available if he slides, or Giants trade up.
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