Ezekiel Elliot? Laquon Treadwell? Myles Jack? Ronnie Stanley?
With the 2016 NFL Draft rapidly approaching, it is still anybody’s guess who the New York Giants will take with the 10th overall selection. Experts have ranged from offense to defense, secondary to defensive end, offensive line to skill positions.
Before the offseason, the answer would have certainly been on the defensive side of the ball, since the Giants had the worst defense in the league last year. However, with GM Jerry Reese’s high dollar acquisitions of Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins and Damon Harrison, the answer is no longer set in stone.
Those moves prompted defensive coordinator Steve Spagnulo to express his excitement, ”That was nice. It was like Christmas. (General manager) Jerry Reese and his staff did a great job of identifying the guys, then being real aggressive and getting what we think are some good football players. It’s exciting.”
So what position should the Giants target at No. 10?
A popular suggestion is running back, with Ezekiel Elliot. Elliot is tremendously talented and carried Ohio State’s offense last season. However, running back is not a premium position and is also not a dire need for the Giants. None of Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams or Shane Vereen is the stud that Elliot has the potential to be, but their unique skill sets allow them to form the perfect committee. Besides, when New York won the Super Bowl in 2011, Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw combined for only 1,230 yards. Running back is out.
Another suggestion is wide receiver, with the popular pick being Laquon Treadwell of Mississippi. With Rueben Randle’s departure and the questionable health of Victor Cruz, finding a player to line up opposite Odell Beckham will be important if this Giants offense is to repeat last season’s success. The 2016 class, however, is not billed as particularly strong, so receiver should be addressed in a later round.
With the offseason acquisitions, we can likely rule out cornerback and defensive line, though with pass-rushing at a premium,Clemson’s Shaq Lawson or Kevin Dodd could still be in play.
That leaves safety, offensive line and linebacker. Drafting any of these positions would be a great upgrade for this Giants team, though there is one that makes more sense than the other two.
Safety is not a deep position in this draft, with the only true top-10 talent being Jalen Ramsey, who projects to be gone long before the Giants make there selection. If he slides, Ramsey is the pick.
In terms of the offensive line, last year’s group did a decent job protecting their signal caller. Manning was sacked 27 times, which ranked slightly better than league average. The right side with John Jerry and Marshall Newhouse, however, could stand to be upgraded.
Finally, we have linebacker, easily the Giants’ weakest position. The team suffered injuries to Devon Kennard and the now-retired Jon Beason. Jasper Brinkley did an admirable job filling in, and Uani ‘Unga played well for a rookie, but with the possible exception of Kennard, these players are not future building blocks. If available, UCLA’s Myles Jack would boost the talent level exponentially. After Jack, players such as Leonard Floyd, Darron Lee or Reggie Ragland would all be solid picks.
Reese said before last year’s draft, “We want to try and upgrade every position as best we can every opportunity we get.” For a team still with many needs, taking the best available player is the correct mindset to have. However, if stuck between several candidates, Reese would be wise to address the team’s most glaring weakness with linebacker help at number 10.