Apr 202004
New York Giants 2004 NFL Draft – A Weekend at Ernie’s

By BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor “Dog”

This weekend Madison Square Garden is Ernie Accorsi’s place. Giant’s fans are invited to spend the weekend at Ernie’s in hopes of witnessing the birth of a new era for the New York Football Giants. The Giants have landed the 4th pick in the 2004 NFL draft because of a dreadful 2003 season. Last season began with the Giants poised as a Superbowl contender. Those expectations rapidly deteriorated due to injuries, a lack of discipline and a coaching staff still reeling from the 2001 loss of then Defensive Coordinator John Fox. With the fourth overall pick, a recent regime change and Ernie Accorsi desperate to elevate his reputation, Giants fans are optimistic that recent draftees such as Brian Alford, Joe Montgomery, Sean Bennett, Jeff Hatch, John Markham, Rod Babers, and Cedric Scott are a thing of the past.

Fassel’s demise is not solely his responsibility. Ernie Accorsi must share in last year’s heart wrenching season. Ernie and Fassel have played Russian roulette with the Giants offensive line for several seasons until finally the gun went off essentially killing the Giants 2003 season. Combined with a weak drafting record, it is remarkable the Giants had any success under Fassel. The Meadowlands regime change was swift, but Mr. Accorsi managed to keep his position as Senior Vice President and General Manager. One may be suspicious as to why the man who helped contribute to the Giants fall still maintains such a high position within the organization. The reason is simple. Ernie Accorsi is one of the top General Managers in the NFL. He is highly regarded in all circles within the NFL and he has been an active influence in the league for thirty plus years.

Ernie fully understands the importance of the quarterback position. He started off with the Baltimore Colts in 1970 as their public relations director working with quarterback legend Johnny Unitas. In 1983 Ernie became the Colts general Manager. In his debut NFL draft he selected John Elway with the first overall pick in 1983. A few weeks later without consulting Ernie, the owners traded Elway. As a result of this transaction Ernie resigned from the Colts organization. Within a year the Colts would pack up their belongings and head to Indianapolis. Ernie’s next General Manager position would be with the Cleveland Browns in 1985. Ernie’s demand for quality quarterbacks continued as he selected Bernie Kosar in the first round of the supplemental draft of 1985. During his rookie season Bernie started 10 games and the Browns won their division. Bernie and Ernie had several more successful years with the Browns but never made it to the Superbowl. Accorsi left the Browns and worked for two years with the NFL front office. He was instrumental in securing the deal that would send the Cleveland Browns packing to Baltimore filling the void left by the Colts. Accorsi then joined the Giants as the Assistant General Manager under George Young in 1994. He took over the GM reigns in 1998. Again emphasizing quarterbacks he pulled former first rounder Kerry Collins from the NFL scrap heap in 1999.

Accorsi is near the end of his career. He desperately wants to leave his reputation in tact. He has been pursuing every possible angle for this draft. The Giants are in a great position to upgrade the team.

THE HAUNTINGS OF THE RECENT PAST: I must confess I keep having a reoccurring nightmare. It takes place draft weekend at Ernie’s. Arizona announces their pick. The commissioner steps up to the microphone and announces “The New York Giants are on the”, but before he is able to finish his statement Ernie Accorsi jumps up and grabs the mike. He excitedly shouts into the microphone, “the Giants use their first pick of the draft to select Iowa Place Kicker Nate Kaeding!” Madison Square Garden is silenced. The silence is gradually broken by sporadic boos. The volume of discontent rises as the fans emotions are voiced through loud exultation of expletives, boos and personal insults aimed at the Giants organization. Later in the day Ernie is interviewed and explains he is excited since they landed the player they targeted. He’ll justify that they did not pick him early because they heard from reliable sources that other teams also had Nate high on their list. Additionally on Monday’s press release the team rationalizes it is more important to walk away with the person you targeted then debate on when he should have been selected. Hold on to your remotes Giants fans. Provided the Giants don’t shoot themselves in the foot Ernie is practically guaranteed a successful first round.

The Giants have several first round options available.

GIANTS DRAFT OPTION 1: Giants stay where they are and grab the best player available. Option one is the safest and likely favored by Tom Coughlin and John Mara.

The top seven picks selected will be number one QB Eli Manning. No shock if the Chargers trade out of this spot and another team snatches up Gallery; number two OT Robert Gallery; number three WR Larry Fitzgerald; number four WR Roy Williams. Do not be surprised if Al Davis passes on Gallery to take Fitzgerald or Williams. Arizona may follow suit and take the remaining wide receiver. This scenario could drop Eli Manning or Robert Gallery in the Giants lap. Number five and number six could go either way and is a toss up between QB Ben Roethlisberger and FS Sean Taylor. At last glance Taylor’s value was on the rise while Ben’s was dropping. Number seven TE Kellen Winslow.

GIANTS DRAFT OPTION 2: If it were just Ernie involved in the decision I believe Manning would be the selection with no regard to the cost. But John Mara and Tom Coughlin might not be willing to sacrifice the picks the Chargers are demanding. Drafting Eli Manning, or any other top ten QB, will likely conclude the Giants relationship with current QB Kerry Collins. The Giants must renegotiate his current contract before June 1 and will only offer a short term deal if they draft a top 10 quarterback. Kerry is only willing to sign a long-term deal. If Kerry is not on the roster the Giants chance of making the playoffs in 2004 greatly diminishes. Eli Manning or any other rookie QB will take several seasons of grooming before taking this team on a playoff run. A short-term solution may present itself after June 1. The Giants could find a proven veteran who is willing to sign a short term, cap friendly contract. A QB like Kurt Warner could effectively replace Kerry Collins and keep the Giants moving towards a return to the playoffs as early as this season. A quality veteran could also provide a positive environment for a rookie QB to develop. If Bernie Kosar can take the Browns to the playoffs his rookie year certainly someone with the last name of Manning could possibly do the same for the Giants.

GIANTS DRAFT OPTION 3: Giants trade up to take Robert Gallery. The Giants will have to sacrifice at least one pick to move up to the number 2 spot. This option will allow them to sign Kerry Collins to his long-term deal. A new contract for Collins will free up salary cap space for this season. Cap space is still needed to sign the rookie class as well as provide an opportunity to address further needs with bargain contracts in the free agency market after June 1. The Giants will likely be able to trade up for Gallery and still keep their number 2 pick which is the 34th overall pick in the draft. Gallery and Petitgout will give the Giants formidable book ends for their offensive line for many years barring injury and dependent on Luke’s back injury. Ernie’s days of offensive line Russian Roulette will finally come to an end.

GIANTS DRAFT OPTION 4: Become savvy draft day traders. Dropping down to possibly the seventh spot will allow the Giants to still select a quality pick and also provide extra draft picks. Parlay those extra picks to trade into the bottom third of the first round. It would require negotiating skills that would make Donald Trump proud. If the Giants ended up with two first round picks and a high second round pick they would be vastly improved. This of course is the least likely option as Ernie Accorsi and the Giants organization are just too straightforward and open to pull something like this off.

THE NEEDS: The Giants have several glaring needs that must be addressed in this draft.

The highest priority must be the offensive line. Landing Robert Gallery in round one will instantly legitimize this offensive line. There is a large drop off in talent between Gallery and the rest of the offensive linemen in this draft. Expect to see the Giants grab at least two linemen from this draft and a couple more from the undrafted ranks. Names like Drew Strojny at 6’7” and 327 pounds could be a late round target for the Giants.

The next priority should be a linebacker. The Giants released all three of last seasons starting linebackers. They signed free agents to fill the strong side and weak side positions. Carlos Emmons will fill the strong side. Hopefully he is able to overcome a broken fibula that ended his season last year. If he recovers he will be a vast improvement over Brandon Short. Barrett Green will play the weak side and should effectively upgrade the void left by Dhani Jones. Unfortunately the Giants still have a hole in the middle of the field. Nick Greisen is penciled in. He has the potential and desire, but more then that is required to succeed. The Giants must bring in someone else. The draft doesn’t offer much in terms of a middle linebacker. The Giants need a big man who can stop the run and be fast enough to drop into coverage. A player must be smart enough to learn a defense and confidant enough to communicate to the rest of the team. On Sunday morning the Giants might be able to find LB Courtney Watson 6’ 1 3/8”, 237 and 4.54 40, who would be a bargain in the fourth round and has the potential to fill that void.

The Giants secondary is also a concern. The two Wills, Allen and Peterson, have the ability to be Pro Bowlers but they have yet to stay healthy. The safeties on this team are less then spectacular, average at best. Ernie’s first year as the Giants General Manager he informed the press that a team should avoid taking a safety in the first round. With that statement still in the headlines Ernie decided to pass on OG Alan Faneca, which would have filled a Giants need and decided to select safety Shaun Williams with the 24th pick of the 1998 draft. Ernie’s first draft with the Giants effectively carried on the age-old Giants GM traditional draft day jaw dropper. NY was assured their best athlete available philosophy would yield a perennial Pro Bowler with Shaun Williams. Unfortunately the Giants have been lucky to get an occasional highlight from Williams let alone an entire Pro Bowl season. Sean Taylor would be a huge boost to the Giants secondary and he could also take some pressure off the linebackers. He would be a nice fit and someone the Giants must consider. On the downside selecting Taylor would force the Giants to over pay for a position whose market value has steadily declined the past few seasons. Green Bay signed Mark Roman for $700,000 and he will improve the Packers secondary. A number four pick expects to receive several million dollars a season. This money could be allocated to other positions. Taylor on the field might permit the Giants to sign less experienced and less expensive linebackers.

At first glance the tight end position led by Jeremy Shockey looks great. However there is no true blocking TE. The Giants have not replaced Dan Campbell. TE Kellen Winslow could actually be selected before Roethlisberger. Winslow is just shy of 6’4” and weighs in at 251 pounds. Additionally he runs an incredible 4.52 forty. Winslow is a warrior who knows the game of football. Coughlin wants players like Winslow. He will beat you with his pass catching or he will hammer you with his blocking either way he’ll fight you with everything he possesses. The Giants offense would receive a massive boost if Winslow and Shockey were on the field together.

The Giants wide receivers can stand for some improvement. Amani Toomer is the number one wide receiver who still can’t manage to win a game. He puts up good seasonal numbers but is rarely the deciding factor in important games. Ike Hilliard is a workhorse who has become injury prone. The Giants younger receivers just haven’t been able to consistently step up. The Giants will pick up a wide receiver this weekend, when remains to be the question. If they use their first round pick to get Larry Fitzgerald or Roy Williams their offense will immediately be impacted. Fitzgerald is the number one college wide receiver in the nation. He has great size at nearly six foot three and weighs in at two hundred and twenty five pounds. In simple terms this kid has the potential to win games for any NFL team that selects him.

The Giants are also lacking a backup to Tiki Barber. Ron Dayne will either step up or step out. The Giants can’t rely on him to step up they must select a player that has the potential to carry the workload or sign a free agent.
If the Giants select Manning or Roethlisberger they will still need a backup. A top five QB pick sends Collins packing. Free agency might be the best way to fill this need if Collins is gone.

The defensive line has received the most attention between last years draft picks of DT William Joseph, DE Osi Umenyiora, free agent pick up DE Keith Washington and this years free agent pick ups of DT Fred Robbins, DT Martin Chase, DE Lorenzo Bromell and DT Norman Hand. The Giants have added the necessary depth. This unit could actually turn into a formidable strength.

An average team with superb special teams will have a better chance of making the playoffs then an above average team with below average special teams. The Giants special teams are consistently below average. The Giants must be monitoring the late round picks for special teamers. CB Nathan Vasher may be overlooked the first few rounds because of his 5-10, 177 pound frame. But he is a good athlete with good hands and excellent work habits. Combined with his 4.45 timed 40 and his punt returning experience he has potential to be a special teams gem.

This weekend at Ernie’s should be a positive momentum builder for the Giants. Sometime during the weekend they will inevitably make a pick that many fans will protest. But Ernie is very motivated to get this one right. He is more prepared then he has been in the past. He has spoken with several teams and ferociously studied all the scenarios. Every team Accorsi has served as General Manager he attempted to build his team around a star quarterback. He will do that again with the Giants either by drafting a quarterback in the first round on Saturday or by giving Collins his long-term contract on Monday morning. As a Giants fan facing the possibility of another comedic movie adventure with Ernie, I have to admit I am optimistically frightened. For up to the minute news, draft coverage and Giants information log onto www.bigblueinteractive.com.

Apr 162004
New York Giants 2004 NFL Draft Needs

Introduction: As I warn every year, it is highly and risky to rely on rookie draft picks to come in and start. If you look at the history of rookie draft picks, a very low percentage of these players have the mental and physical make-up to succeed so soon when being thrust into the line-up. Does it happen? Sure, but it not wise to count on it. Obviously, the Giants would be looking to have their very high first round draft pick make an immediate impact his rookie season if this player isn’t a quarterback (and perhaps even a quarterback if that quarterback is Eli Manning). But the rest of the draft picks are likely to serve as primary back-ups in 2004 as they develop mentally and physically. That’s why the Giants have been pursuing cheaper veterans as depth this offseason. They are protecting themselves better for various contingencies, something they have not done very well in recent years.

All of the needs listed below will not be addressed through this draft. For one, the Giants only have 8 draft picks. Secondly, once QB Kerry Collins’ contract situation gets resolved (either by re-structuring or parting ways with him), the Giants will have additional cap room to sign more veteran free agents both before and after June 1st. So don’t get overly depressed at my analysis below and think that all these holes need to be filled through the draft.

Linebacker: The Giants added two quality veterans outside in Barrett Green and Carlos Emmons, but they need another body to compete with Nick Greisen at middle linebacker. In addition, depth is severely lacking. There is a chance that Quincy Monk will actually fit nicely into Tim Lewis’ new defensive scheme as Monk has flashed pass rushing ability in previous preseasons. Kevin Lewis remains the forgotten man…it will be interesting to see what the coaching staff thinks of him. Wes Mallard really hasn’t shown anything and is coming off of a serious and late-season knee injury. In what may be a telling sign, the Giants have not yet handed out a jersey number to Carlos Emmons. Emmons wore #51 in Philly. Mallard wears #51. I smell an injury settlement brewing. Regardless, the Giants need to add at least one and maybe two quality linebacker prospects in the draft. Another free agent veteran wouldn’t hurt either. This position needs a lot of work.

Halfback: The Giants have Tiki Barber and not much else, unless you think Ron Dayne is going to miraculously acquire better initial quickness and start running tougher between the tackles. I am not counting on it and neither should the Giants. The only other halfbacks on the roster are Delvin Joyce and Antoine Womack. If Barber gets hurt, the Giants would be in real trouble here. The bad news is that there is not a lot of quality running backs in this draft.

Quarterback: Much depends on what transpires with the first round pick. If the Giants draft a quarterback in round one, it is likely the Giants will waive or attempt to trade Collins. Why? Because the Giants can’t afford to keep his almost $9 million cap hit on the books when they have to sign the rookie draft class and add additional veterans. Re-structuring in such a scenario is not possible as the Giants and Collins would not be able to agree upon a short-term deal. Now if the Giants don’t draft a quarterback in round one, I see Collins and the Giants coming to an agreement and him staying. But regardless, Jesse Palmer is not the answer and the only other quarterback currently in the mix is NFL Europe allocation Ryan Van Dyke. Personally, I would like to see the Giants dump Palmer, sign a veteran, and draft another developmental prospect.

Wide Receiver: Amani Toomer should thrive in Tom Coughlin’s offense, but there are only question marks behind him. Ike Hilliard has played a full 16-game season just twice in his first seven seasons, in 1998 and 1999. His body is beat up and one has to wonder if he will start slipping sooner rather than later. Tim Carter has tremendous tools, but he has not gotten the job done yet and has also proven to be somewhat injury-prone. Willie Ponder, David Tyree, Ataveus Cash, and Ryan Hoag are hopefuls. The Giants would be in real trouble if Toomer was lost with an injury. This is a very deep draft at wide receiver and I would be somewhat shocked if the Giants did not draft one.

Cornerback: You can never have too many quality corners. The Giants SHOULD have two strong building blocks in Will Allen and Will Peterson, but both are coming off serious injuries. And Peterson is injury-prone. Terry Cousin will help in the nickel, but he is not a guy who you want starting. Frank Walker flashes, but made a lot of mental mistakes last year and is no sure thing. The Giants need to add another corner. You can’t scheme around poor corners.

Offensive Line: A lot of people will be angry that I didn’t put this position higher on the list, but the Giants can get by with the group they currently have. Does that mean that the offensive line won’t be addressed in the draft, even perhaps in the first round? Hell no. But it is not an overriding need. People seem to forget that Luke Petitgout was an outstanding left tackle in 2002. Last year he played with a bad back that is now healthy. Shaun O’Hara is an upgrade over Chris Bober at center. David Diehl and Wayne Lucier are a year older and wiser. Both have big upsides. Barry Stokes can play at guard or right tackle. Rich Seubert is ahead of schedule. Ed Ellis provides depth. One quality draft pick or veteran free agent would make the world of difference here.

Safety: People will be upset that this position isn’t higher on my list either. We’ve been waiting for that breakout year from Shaun Williams ever since he was drafted in 1998. He had a strong season in 2000, but hasn’t played as well since then. Will the new defensive schemes and coaches help? We’ll see. He will start again at strong safety in 2004, but this may be his last chance with the Giants. He makes too much money to be such an ordinary player. Omar Stoutmire gets a lot of unfair grief. Why? Because he doesn’t make any plays on the football. It’s a valid criticism and the Giants would certainly like to find someone who makes more plays on the football. However, Stoutmire is a relatively athletic free safety who rarely is out of position or burned. Plus, he gets in on a lot of tackles. He’s not bad, he’s just average. Depth is a little bit of a concern although it is hoped that Ryan Clark, Clarence LeBlanc, and Jack Brewer will compete.

Fullback: It would be ideal if the Giants found a more physical, powerful lead-blocking fullback to compete with Jim Finn in camp.

Place Kicker: Matt Bryant still makes me nervous.

Apr 152004
New York Giants 2004 NFL Draft Preview

Introduction: As I state each year, I am hardly a draft expert. I don’t watch all that many college football games and I certainly do not spend as much time as I used to reading scouting reports on available prospects. But each year I like to put together a list of players who have caught my eye for one reason or another. This is not a comprehensive list…not even close. You won’t find many late-round gems here; I leave that up to the real experts. You also may not see some prominent names listed here as I will think they are overrated.

This will be an interesting draft to watch. Not only do the Giants have a new coaching staff, but Chris Mara is now firmly entrenched as the Vice President of Player Evaluation. How much say will Mara have? What about Coughlin? Has Accorsi’s influence waned? What about Jerry Reese (Director of Player Personnel)?

This is the most important draft the Giants have had as long as I have been watching the team. If they screw this up, they will have a hard time competing with the rest of the division in 2004 and beyond.

Quarterbacks: It would appear that the Giants are strongly considering replacing Kerry Collins with one of the top prospects in the draft. If that doesn’t happen, the Giants still need to add a prospect at some point to compete with Jesse Palmer and groom behind Collins.

  • Eli Manning (6-5, 220lbs, 4.90, Mississippi): Son of Archie Manning and brother of Peyton. Tall quarterback who needs to fill out more in the weight room. Probably the most ready of any college quarterback to play in recent memory. Excellent intangibles. Mature and poised – doesn’t let negative plays rattle him. A leader who works hard and studies film. Given his level of experience, reads defenses well and makes good decisions. Excellent throwing mechanics with a quick release. Very good footwork. Has good (but not great) arm strength. Can make all the different kinds of throws. Accurate passer, especially in short- to medium-range. Athletic, but not a scrambler. Good pocket presence and moves around the pocket well. Can throw in the move.
  • Ben Roethlisberger, 6-5, 241lbs, 4.85, Miami (Ohio): Junior entry. Big, tall, athletic quarterback. Has a strong arm and good mechanics. Poised and usually makes good decisions. Has improved his ability to read defenses and see the field, but still needs a lot of work there. Accurate passer. Not really a scrambler, but he has decent mobility to escape the rush and he can throw on the move. A leader. Tough. Works hard.
  • Philip Rivers (6-5, 226lbs, 5.10, North Carolina State): Big, tall quarterback with excellent intangibles. Should be ready to play earlier than most young quarterbacks.
    Mature, patient, and smart. See the field well and makes good decisions. Lacks good mechanics but he is an accurate passer. Quick release. Pocket passer with good pocket presence. Tough, will stand in the pocket and take the hit. Lack of arm strength is somewhat disconcerting – makes him somewhat of a risky selection as his pro potential may be limited. Works hard both on and off the field.
  • Matt Schaub (6-6, 240lbs, 5.01, Virginia): Big, tall pocket passer. Poised – has good pocket presence and stands tough in the pocket. Smart and sees the field well. Makes good decisions, but needs work reading defenses (like almost all young quarterbacks). Accurate passer, especially in the short-passing game. Good, but not great arm.
  • Luke McCown (6-4, 210lbs, 4.7, Louisiana Tech): Tall but thin quarterback who needs to add more mass. Very good intangibles – tough, a leader, works hard in the film room. Played in a passing offense. Has a strong arm and shows the ability to throw with timing and touch. Needs to improve his overall accuracy and consistency. Better technique and coaching will help him. Needs to not bird-dog as much. Good athlete.
  • Josh Harris (6-2, 238lbs, 4.90, Bowling Green): Lacks ideal height, but is a big quarterback with a strong arm and excellent athletic-ability. Very raw – will need a lot of technique work and improvement in reading defenses. Used in shotgun system in college and needs to learn how to drop back properly from center. Improving accuracy but needs work in that department, as well as not bird-dogging receivers. Good intangibles – smart, hard-working, a leader. Mobile and can hurt defenses with his feet. Has a big upside, but will need patient coaching.

Wide Receivers: As a group, this may be the most talented class of wide receivers ever to come out in one single year. It definitely is the biggest in terms of height and weight. The Giants could very well add a receiver with a high pick as they only have one veteran, non-injury-prone receiver (Amani Toomer). This group is so deep that receivers who normally would be picked in the first round will slip into the second round.

  • Mike Williams (6-5, 225lbs, 4.55, USC): Sophomore entry who may not be draft eligible. Big, physical, athletic wideout. Lacks blazing speed, but his very quick and fluid for his size. Runs good routes. Changes speeds effectively and accelerates out his breaks. Will run over the middle. Creates match-up problems because of his size and leaping ability. Has very good hands – has some lack of focus drops, but is capable of the spectacular catch. Runs well after the catch. Inconsistent blocker. Has a huge upside. Could revolutionize the position with his combination of size and athleticism.
  • Larry Fitzgerald (6-3, 225lbs, 4.49, Pittsburgh): Sophomore entry. Big, athletic receiver with absolutely incredible concentration and hands. Makes circus catches on a regular basis. Excellent body control. Top intangibles – hard worker who strives to get better all the time. Very mature, should start very early in his career. Lacks blazing speed, but can get deep. Runs good routes and has a knack for setting up defensive backs. Quick-footed out of his breaks…sharp in his cuts. Decent blocker.
  • Roy Williams (6-3, 210lbs, 4.40, Texas): Big, strong, athletic receiver who can get deep and make big plays. Has an awkward gait about him, but is fluid, fast, and quick. Will go over the middle. Has good hands and runs very well after the catch, can go the distance after a short catch as he is a big, quick, and fast runner with the ball in his possession – just needs to be more aggressive after each catch. Not tough – has missed games due to more minor injuries. Confident and intelligent. Needs to improve his level concentration. Inconsistent blocker. Somewhat of a boom-or-bust pick as he will be selected very high.
  • Michael Clayton (6-3, 209lbs, 4.58, LSU): Junior entry. Big, athletic wide receiver who runs faster than he times. Very fluid and quick for his size. Runs good routes and knows how to set up defensive backs. Has deceptive speed…can accelerate on the deep ball. Good leaper. Excellent hands. Runs well after the catch. Tough. Good blocker. A leader. Has a big upside.
  • Reggie Williams (6-4, 229lbs, 4.50, Washington): Junior entry. Big, strong, powerful, athletic receiver. Lacks blazing speed. Good speed, quickness, and agility for his size. Runs good routes and quick out of the break. Needs to learn to vary his speeds in order to set up defenders. Creates match-up problems with his size. Has good hands – sometimes guilty of a drop. Runs well after the catch. Needs to improve as a blocker.
  • Rashaun Woods (6-2, 202lbs, 4.49, Oklahoma State): Combines good height and athleticism. Lacks blazing speed, but he is fluid and quick. Physical against press coverage. Runs good routes. Football smart…has a knack for subtly pushing off. Excellent hands. Runs well after the catch. Good blocker.
  • Lee Evans (5-11, 197lbs, 4.39, Wisconsin): Lacks ideal size, but Evans is a strong, solidly-built receiver. Suffered a serious knee injury in 2002 and is rounding back into form. Fast and quick. Deep threat. Has very good body control, adjusts well, and has good hands. Runs well after the catch. Average blocker.
  • Devery Henderson (6-0, 198lbs, 4.37, LSU): Ordinary size, but an explosive, athletic deep threat. Raw, was moved from running back to receiver as a junior. Quick, fast, and fluid. Has a burst. Needs to learn how to run routes better – rounds his breaks. Guilty of the occasional drop, but his hands are improving. Dangerous runner after the catch. Has a big upside. Tough. Team-oriented and coachable.
  • Keary Colbert (6-1, 205lbs, 4.60, USC): Ordinary size and speed, but he is a quick, athletic player who makes plays. Needs to improve beating press coverage, but he runs good routes and adjusts well to the ball (good body control). Has a feel for the game…sets up defensive backs with his moves. Will run over the middle. Has excellent hands and will make circus catches. Run well after the catch. Team-oriented.
  • Jerricho Cotchery (6-1, 210lbs, 4.54, North Carolina State): Average size but well-built, athletic receiver. Lacks blazing speed, but is very quick and fluid. Can beat press coverage. Runs excellent routes and adjusts to ball very well. Will run over the middle. Quick out of the break. Sets up defensive backs well and finds openings in the defense. Very good hands. Tough. Good special teams player.
  • D.J. Hackett (6-3, 200lbs, 4.51, Colorado): Tall, athletic receiver with muscular build. Lacks ideal speed and acceleration, but he is a fluid athlete with quick feet. Physical player who escapes press coverage well. Tough over the middle. Needs route-running refinement. Has excellent hands. Makes big plays and keeps the chains moving on 3rd down. Good blocker. Great intangibles…works hard to get better. Excellent blocker.

Halfbacks: Unless Ron Dayne miraculously turns his career around, the Giants need a quality back-up running back for Tiki Barber who ideally is a strong inside and short-yardage runner.

  • Steven Jackson (6-2, 240lbs, 4.55, Oregon State): Junior entry. Big, strong, athletic back. Tough, patient runner who reads blocks well. Rarely fumbles. Can run both inside and outside. Good power, but needs to run with his pads lower on a more consistent basis. Decent receiver.
  • Kevin Jones (6-0, 228lbs, 4.60, Virginia Tech): Junior entry. Combines good size and athleticism. Runs much faster than he times – explosive. Quick feet for a big back – elusive. Can run inside or outside, but is a better outside runner. Needs to secure ball better. Needs work in the passing game but is a dangerous receiver out of the backfield.
  • Greg Jones (6-2, 250lbs, 4.55, Florida State): Huge, athletic back who suffered a serious knee injury in 2002. Played himself back into form towards the end of 2003. Has good speed and quickness for such a big back. Better running between the tackles. Physical and powerful…will run over people. Not really a good outside runner and that will limit him somewhat in the pros. May be more of a situational back than full-time player. Competitive and instinctive. Not a natural pass receiver.
  • Chris Perry (6-0, 224lbs, 4.55, Michigan): Big back with decent athleticism. Not spectacular, but very steady. Patient and has good vision. Good, tough inside runner who finishes off his runs. Not as good of an outside runner and not very elusive. Holds onto the ball. Decent receiver.
  • Troy Fleming (6-0, 230lbs, 4.63, Tennessee): College fullback who projects to halfback in the pros. Combines good size and athleticism. Has good vision and elusive for his size. Good inside runner and can bounce plays outside. Good receiver. Team-oriented. Smart.

Fullback: The Giants have no one on the roster to compete with Jim Finn at fullback. Ideally, a big, physical blocker should be added late in the draft or signed after the draft.

  • Mike Karney (5-11, 250lbs, 5.03, Arizona State): Big, tough, powerful lead-blocking fullback. Team leader and hard worker. Can catch the ball out of the backfield. Not much of a runner.

Offensive Tackle: Most people seem convinced that LT Robert Gallery is high on the Giants’ wish list. Regardless, it would make sense to add another tackle in the draft unless they are comfortable with Barry Stokes or David Diehl playing at right tackle.

  • Robert Gallery (6-7, 323lbs, 4.97, Iowa): Left tackle. Clearly the best offensive lineman available in the draft. Big and athletic – actually has the frame to get bigger. Excellent pass blocker. Good, but not dominant run blocker. Mobile, can pull and get to linebackers at the second level. Aggressive and plays with an attitude. No real weaknesses, but some question if he is in the same class as Munoz, Ogden, and Boselli.
  • Vernon Carey, (6-5, 335lbs, 5.35, Miami) : Has experience at left tackle and guard. I see him more as a right tackle. Big, athletic, and powerful. Very good run blocker at the point-of-attack. Not as good when pulling. Aggressive and physical. Solid in pass protection. Anchors well and has the feet to protect the outside edge, though quickness can give him problems at times.
  • Shawn Andrews (6-4, 365lbs, 5.47, Arkansas): Junior entry. Right tackle. May be better suited to guard. Mammoth player who has had weight problems, which in turn have affected his performance. Dominant run blocker at the point-of-attack. A decent athlete, he does need to do a more consistent job of engaging linebackers at the second level. Cannot be bull-rushed on the pass rush. However, outside quickness could give him problems at the pro level as he doesn’t move his feet well enough. Technique problem or ability? That is a key question. If it is the latter, then he will have to move to guard.
  • Nat Dorsey (6-7, 322lbs, 5.41, Georgia Tech): Junior entry. Left tackle in college who may project better to right tackle in the pros. Huge, athletic prospect. Plays with an attitude, intense. Good run blocker at the point-of-attack. Not overly agile when on the move when pulling or attacking at the second level. Solid pass protector who needs to improve his foot technique.
  • Jacob Rogers (6-6, 307lbs, 5.30, USC) : Left tackle. Big, steady, technically-sound lineman. Not a real strong run blocker at the point-of-attack – more technician than mauler. Blocks effectively at the second level. Good pass protector. Anchors well and has good feet.

Offensive Guard: Much depends on how the Giants truly think of Barry Stokes’ ability, Rich Seubert’s recovery, and David Diehl’s potential at tackle. I could very easily see the Giants drafting a guard instead of a tackle, depending on the answers to those questions.

  • Chris Snee (6-3, 315lbs, 5.07, Boston College): Junior entry. Big, tough, physical lineman. Good run blocker who can generate movement at the point-of-attack. Needs to finish better. Mobile – can pull and engage linebackers at the second level. Solid pass protector. Anchors well.

Offensive Center: The Giants have penciled in Shaun O’Hara as their starting center. Wayne Lucier can play both center and guard. Scott Peters could factor into the back-up competition as well.

  • Jake Grove (6-4, 300lbs, 5.17, Virginia Tech): Combines decent size, excellent strength, and fine intangibles. Tough, physical, intense. Plays with fine balance and technique. Decent run blocker. Quick at the snap and works to sustain. Not overly athletic – ordinary on the pull. Solid pass protector. Anchors well. Needs to work on his lateral quickness.

Tight Ends: The Giants may look to add a blocking-type tight end, though Visanthe Shiancoe flashes ability in that area.

  • Kellen Winslow (6-4, 251lbs, 4.55, Miami): Junior entry. Son of Hall of Fame TE Kellen Winslow. A TE/WR hybrid in the mold of Jeremy Shockey. Not quite the blocker Shockey is, but perhaps a better receiver. Has “impact” ability as he is too fast and agile for almost all linebackers to cover (and many strong safeties). Requires double-team coverage. Runs good routes. Agile, quick, and fast. Can get deep. Excellent hands. Good blocker who may be better suited for the “move” TE or H-Back position at the pro level. Super-competitive and intense. Would make a deadly 2-TE combination with Shockey that would be impossible to defend.
  • Ben Hartsock (6-4, 260lbs, 4.78, Ohio State): Big, blocking-type tight end. Smart, tough, and competitive. A leader. Can run and pass block. Can block on the move. Decent short-range pass receiver. A decent athlete, but not real quick or fast. Runs good routes and has good hands.
  • Sean Ryan (6-5, 270lbs, 4.95, Boston College): Huge, blocking-type tight end. Smart, tough, competitive, and intense. Can generate movement at the point-of-attack with his blocking. Looks for other defenders to hit. Lacks speed and quickness as a receiver. So-so hands.
  • Jeff Dugan (6-4, 263lbs, 4.95, Maryland): Big, blocking-type tight end. Competitive and a team leader. Good blocker who works hard to sustain his blocks. Physical, tough, and aggressive. Not used much in the passing game at Maryland, but he is a decent athlete. Lacks speed, but he can adjust to the ball and run after the catch. Decent hands.

Defensive Ends: The Giants usually carry four defensive ends and they have those four spots already filled (Strahan, Umenyiora, Washington, and Bromell) unless someone in the draft really catches their eye.

  • Kenechi Udeze (6-3, 281lbs, 4.70, USC): Junior entry. Two-way defensive end who can play on both the strongside and weakside. Has decent size and very good athleticism. Physical and instinctive. Plays the run well at the point-of-attack. Strong and plays with leverage. Good tackler. Very good pass rusher. Can rush outside or inside the tackle. Accelerates to the quarterback. Reminds me a bit of Michael Strahan.
  • Will Smith (6-3, 275lbs, 4.70, Ohio State): Has decent size and is very athletic. Two-way defensive end who can play on both the strongside and weakside. Very good run defender. Strong at the point-of-attack. Plays with leverage. Quick…can penetrate. Good pass rusher who can rush with speed or bull-rush. Has enough athleticism to play linebacker in certain schemes.

Defensive Tackles: On paper, the Giants have their four defensive tackles with Robbins, Hand, Joseph, and Chase. Like defensive end, they could take one if one is clearly better than what they have.

  • Vince Wilfork (6-1, 325lbs, 5.10, Miami): Junior entry. A shorter than ideal but huge defensive tackle who can one- or two-gap. Big, powerful tackle who is very difficult to move off the line of scrimmage. Draws double-teams, allowing others to make the play. Clogs the middle in run defense, holds at the point-of-attack. Not a pursuit player. Tackles well. Good pass rusher who has fine combination of quickness and power. Biggest problem is his weight. Becomes less effective when his weight goes up.
  • Tommie Harris (6-3, 295lbs, 4.80, Oklahoma): Junior entry. Tackle who may project better to defensive end. Very athletic one-gap tackle. Very quick and agile. Penetrates and disrupts, creates havoc with his first-step quickness. Lacks size to be a two-gap tackle at the NFL level. Pursues very well. Good pass rusher due to his quickness, not much of a bull-rusher. Quick with his hands. Team-oriented.
  • Darnell Dockett (6-4, 295lbs, 5.01, Florida State): Strictly a one-gap tackle. Combines decent size with outstanding athleticism. Very quick feet and hands. Penetrates. Disrupts both the running and passing game. Makes big plays. Plays hard and plays with an attitude. Inconsistent and has some character questions.
  • Marcus Tubbs (6-4, 320lbs, 5.20, Texas): Massive, powerful tackle who can one- or two-gap. Athletic for his size. Very good run defender who often requires double-team attention, enabling others to make the play. Stout at the point-of-attack. Can play with leverage and shed. Doesn’t pursue like he should. Not as talented as a pass rusher, but he can rush the passer. Can bull-rush, but doesn’t have many moves. Has an upside.
  • Donnell Washington (6-6, 332lbs, 5.00, Clemson): Junior entry. Huge, strong, athletic defensive tackle. Can one- or two-gap. Very good run defender. Stout at the point-of-attack. Pursues down the line of scrimmage. Needs a lot of technique work – needs to play with better leverage and shed better. Inconsistent effort. Can bull-rush the pocket, but needs better moves. Closes well when freed. Has a big upside if he is willing to work harder.
  • Dwan Edwards (6-3, 310lbs, 5.10, Oregon State): Good size and athleticism.. Can one- or two-gap. Tough, instinctive, and competitive. Good run defender. Not a penetrator, but holds well at the point-of-attack. Can play with leverage, but needs to do so more consistently. Sheds well. Decent pass rusher with a good bull-rush. Has quick hands. Needs better moves. Not flashy, but steady.
  • Matthias Askew (6-6, 308lbs, 5.21, Michigan State): Junior entry. Has a superb combination of size and athleticism. Long arms. Quick and strong. Has a big upside, but is very raw and will take a couple of years to develop. Needs to play with better technique and leverage – plays too high. Has the strength to beat a double-team block. Flashes potential as a pass rusher with quick hands and decent moves.
  • Junior Siavii (6-5, 344lbs, 5.17, Oregon): Mammoth player. Long arms. Very strong, two-gap tackle who can shut down the inside running game. Often demands double-team attention, allowing others to make the play. Can play with leverage but needs to do so in a more consistent fashion. Needs to shed better. Not much of a pass rusher. Plays hard. Improving. Has an upside.
  • Tim Anderson (6-3, 304lbs, 5.00, Ohio State): Big and strong tackle. Can one- or two-gap. Great intangibles. Tough, competitive, and intense. Works hard on and off the field. Plays the run very well. Stout at the point-of-attack. Not overly athletic, but has good initial quickness. Not as good on the pass rush, but he is capable of generating some pressure. Not flashy, but a very steady, blue-collar-type of lineman.
  • Isaac Sopoago (6-2, 319lbs, 5.01, Hawaii): Lacks ideal height, but he is a very well-built two-gap defensive tackle. Plays hard. Tough. Very, very strong. Decent athlete with good initial quickness. Very stout against the run. Can play with leverage but needs to do so in a more consistent fashion. Pursues, but lacks range. Not much of a pass rusher. Still improving. Has an upside.
  • Rodney Leslie (6-3, 305lbs, 5.10, UCLA): Decent sized, well-built two-gap-style tackle. Plays hard all the time. Tough, instinctive, aggressive run defender. Plays stout at the point-of-attack. Plays with leverage and sheds well. Not overly athletic and not much of a pass rusher. Competitive and loves the game of football.
  • Jordan Carstens (6-6, 305lbs, 5.06, Iowa State): Big, tall defensive tackle who needs to add more muscle. Can one- or two-gap. Good intangibles. Works hard, tough, and is instinctive. Athletic for his size with good agility, quickness, and speed. Decent at the point-of-attack, but needs to play with better leverage. Pursues well down the line of scrimmage. Needs to shed better. Not a quick penetrator. Decent pass rush, but needs more moves.
  • Darrell Campbell (6-4, 300lbs, 5.18, Notre Dame): Well-built with long arms. Can one- or two-gap. Good intangibles. Works hard both on and off the field. Instinctive and intense. Good athlete who flashes quickness and power. Can take on double-teams. Needs to shed better. Decent pass rusher who needs better moves.

Linebackers: The Giants replaced Brandon Short and Dhani Jones with Carlos Emmons and Barrett Green, respectively. That’s a big upgrade. However, unless Nick Greisen comes on, they have a big void at middle linebacker. Depth is an issue too as Wes Mallard and Quincy Monk have done little to impress. And Mallard is coming off a serious knee injury. The Giants may draft two linebackers.

  • Teddy Lehman (6-2, 240lbs, 4.54, Oklahoma) : Can play all three linebacker positions. Combines good size and decent athleticism. Smart, instinctive, tough, and competitive. Good run defender who does well at avoiding blocks; flashes ability to stack at the point-of-attack and shed, but needs to improve there. Good tackler. Can blitz and cover. Strong special teams player.
  • Jonathan Vilma (6-1, 233lbs, 4.55, Miami): Middle linebacker who could also project to the weakside. Biggest knock on Vilma is his lack of size. But Vilma is an excellent athlete with superb intangibles. Smart, instinctive, intense, and physical. Reads plays extremely well. Doesn’t make many mistakes. Takes on blocks aggressively but can get tied up by big blockers. Better at avoiding blocks. Has sideline-to-sideline range. Sure tackler, but not powerful due to his lack of size. Good on the blitz and can cover.
  • Demorrio Williams (6-1, 232lbs, 4.53, Nebraska): Weakside linebacker. Similar in size and ability to Jonathan Vilma. Lacks ideal size. Excellent athlete with fine intangibles. Tough, intense, and competitive. Good run defender who reads plays quickly and takes on blocks aggressively. Can get tied up by big blockers. Good at avoiding blocks. Can run sideline-to-sideline. Good tackler and hitter. Very good blitzer. Has the ability to be a very good coverage linebacker but needs more technique work.
  • Dontarrious Thomas (6-3, 240lbs, 4.61, Auburn): Has experience at both outside and middle linebacker. Combines good size and athleticism. Physical and aggressive. Good run defender who can stack at the point-of-attack and shed. Can run sideline-to-sideline, but sometimes takes the wrong angles. Good tackler and hitter. A little hesitant at times and lacks ideal agility in pass coverage. Good blitzer.
  • Daryl Smith (6-2, 230lbs, 4.70, Georgia Tech): Middle linebacker who might also be able to play on the weakside. Lacks ideal size, but he is well-built and powerful for his size. Decent athlete with fine intangibles. Tough, instinctive, and aggressive. Good run defender – takes on blocks at the point-of-attack and sheds. Good at avoiding blocks as well. Good tackler. Can blitz. Lacks ideal agility and this hurts him some in pass coverage.
  • Trevor Johnson (6-5, 260lbs, 4.8, Nebraska): Played defensive end in college, but projects to a 3-4 situational rusher. Great intangibles…plays extremely hard and plays with an attitude. Works hard on and off the field. Coachable. Good athlete with fine quickness. Plays faster than he times. Will need a lot of technique work at linebacker. Has an upside.

Safeties: Shaun Williams will likely get one more year to impress at strong safety. The Giants would like to upgrade over Omar Stoutmire, but he isn’t as bad as most people think he is. It will be interesting to see what kind of impact the new coaching staff has on the entire secondary.

  • Sean Taylor (6-3, 230lbs, 4.50, Miami): Junior entry. Free safety. Incredible combination of size, strength, and athleticism. Big as a linebacker but probably will be the most athletic free safety in all of pro football. Fast and agile. Instinctive play-maker who has a nose for the football in pass defense. Teams are reluctant to throw the football in his area of the field. Intimidates. Reacts very quickly. Has incredible range. Plays the ball. Can man-up on wide receivers. Good run defender and a big hitter. Misses some tackles because he doesn’t always break down properly. Plays with exception confidence and a nasty attitude. Tough. A leader. Has impact ability.
  • Sean Jones (6-2, 218lbs, 4.60, Georgia): Junior entry. Free safety. Big, strong, and athletic. Has very good range in pass coverage. Can man-up. Still developing a feel for coverage, but has a big upside due to his athleticism. Physical run defender, but needs to use better tackling technique.
  • Bob Sanders (5-9, 204lbs, 4.38, Iowa): Strong safety. Very short, but well-built – very strong. Tough, physical, aggressive run defender. Excellent tackler and big hitter. Has very good speed and range for a strong safety. Physical with receivers. Has good coverage skills for a strong safety. Excellent blitzer and special teams player. Lack of height is his biggest negative.
  • Madieu Williams (6-1, 193lbs, 4.60, Maryland): Free safety. Has ordinary size, but he is a well-built athlete. Physical with receivers. Instinctive in coverage. Fluid. Good run defender. Tough and aggressive. Good hitter and tackler.
  • Etric Pruitt (6-0, 195lbs, 4.57, Southern Mississippi): Free safety. Lacks ideal size, but he is well-built and muscular. Smooth athlete who can cover. Reacts well to the deep pass. Shows good range. Physical run defender who tackles well. Hard hitter. Instinctive. A leader.
  • Jason Shivers (6-1, 200lbs, 4.51, Arizona State): Junior entry. Free safety. Ordinary size, but a very good athlete. Good intangibles – instinctive leader who plays hard. Needs technique work in coverage but has good speed. Physical in run defense. Good tackler.
  • Will Allen (6-1, 202lbs, 4.55, Ohio State): Free safety. Ordinary size. Decent in coverage. Good athlete, but a little stiff. Aggressive and physical in run defense. Good tackler. Instinctive. Smart.
  • Glenn Earl (6-1, 222lbs, 4.60, Notre Dame): Strong safety. Suffered a serious knee injury last year and this needs to be medically checked out. Excellent size and a good athlete. Decent speed and range in coverage for a strong safety. Agile for his position and size. Very good run defender. Tough and physical. Good tackler and hitter. Smart football player. Instinctive. The knee injury is his biggest negative.
  • Tony Bua (5-11, 208lbs, 4.63, Arkansas): Strong safety who has played linebacker. Lacks ideal height and athleticism, but he is a very tough, instinctive football player. Excellent run defender. Aggressive and physical. Great intangibles…intense, hard-working leader who inspires; plays hard all the time. Lacks range and agility in coverage. Should be a dynamite special teams player.

Cornerbacks: If Will Allen and Will Peterson recover as expected, the Giants will be in good shape at this position with Terry Cousin as the nickel and Frank Walker as depth. However, nothing is guaranteed with Allen and Peterson and Walker is no sure bet. Drafting another corner would be smart.

  • DeAngelo Hall (5-10, 202lbs, 4.33, Virginia Tech): Junior entry. Lacks ideal height, but he is well-built with long arms. Outstanding athlete. Fast, quick, and agile. Confident, competitive, instinctive cover corner. Has shut-down ability. Makes plays on the ball. Solid in run support, but needs to tackle better. Trash talker. Dangerous punt returner.
  • Dunta Robinson (5-11, 186lbs, 4.32, South Carolina): Slightly undersized, but plays bigger than his size. Extremely athletic cover corner. Physical in press coverage. Fast, quick, and agile. Good run defender who tackles well. Confident. A leader.
  • Chris Gamble (6-1, 198lbs, 4.50, Ohio State): Junior entry. Converted wide receiver who is still learning how to play corner. Has a big upside due to his size/athletic combination and his ball skills. Matches up well size-wise with big receivers, but can also run with the speedsters. Fast, quick, and agile. Confident. Needs a lot of technique work and patient coaching. Too inconsistent at this point. Makes plays on the football. Needs to become a more consistent tackler.
  • Will Poole (5-11, 193lbs, 4.50, USC): Slightly undersized, but muscular. Plays bigger than his size. Very athletic with quick feet. Good, but not great speed. Physical cover style. Good in press coverage. Confident and instinctive. Very good in run support…strong tackler.
  • Derrick Strait (5-11, 195lbs, 4.45, Oklahoma): Ordinary size, but muscular and plays bigger than his size – has long arms. Fluid athlete. Good, but not great playing speed. Smart, instinctive, and confident. Solid technique. Physical in man coverage, but sometimes gets separated on cuts by quick receivers. Very good in zone coverage. Makes plays on the football. Active in run support, but needs to tackle in a more consistent fashion.
  • Ahmad Carroll (5-10, 195lbs, 4.35, Arkansas): Junior entry. Lacks ideal height, but he is well-built. Very good athlete with excellent speed. Fluid. Physical press corner. Needs some technique work in coverage and a bit over-aggressive at times in coverage. Needs to improve his run defense. Has a big upside.
  • Ricardo Colclough (5-11, 190lbs, 4.49, Tusculum): Ordinary size. Very athletic corner who stood out at the Senior Bowl despite his small school background. Fluid and quick. Has good, but not great speed. Physical with receivers. Instinctive and makes plays on the football. Raw – needs a lot of technique work. Aggressive in run support but needs to tackle better. Very good kickoff returner.
  • Keith Smith (6-0, 200lbs, 4.48, McNeese State): Ordinary size but well-built. Impressed at the Senior Bowl despite his small school background. Excellent athlete with good quickness and agility. Decent speed. Confident, instinctive cover corner. Good in press coverage and has good man-to-man athletic-ability. Decent in run support. Smart.
  • Nathan Vasher (5-10, 175lbs, 4.50, Texas): Lacks ideal size. Athletic with very good quickness and agility. Plays faster than he times. Instinctive cover corner. Makes plays on the football. Aggressive in run support, but lack of size hurts him here. Hard worker, team-oriented. Lack of size is his biggest negative.
  • Chris Thompson (6-0, 188lbs, 4.48, Nicholls State): Played well at the Blue-Gray Game despite his small school background. Ordinary size. Athletic with good speed and quickness. Confident. Reads plays and reacts quickly. A little stiff in the hips and quick receivers sometimes separate from him on breaks. Makes plays on the ball. Needs technique work. Needs to improve his run defense. Very good at blocking kicks.
  • Shawntae Spencer (6-0, 176lbs, 4.48, Pittsburgh): Has decent height, but is very thin and desperately needs to add more mass to his frame. Very good athlete with good quickness and agility. Good, but not great speed. Plays a physical game in coverage. Needs better technique and footwork. Aggressive in run defense, but his lack of size hurts him here. Can block kicks. Loves the game of football. Needs to work harder and improve his focus at the pro level in order to succeed, but has talent.

Place Kickers: The Giants may consider drafting a kicker to compete with Matt Bryant.

  • Nate Kaeding (6-0, 185lbs, Iowa): In 2003, Kaeding made 20-of-21 field goals and 40-of-41 PAT’s with a long of 55 yards. Steady, consistent, and reliable. Has experience kicking outdoors in the cold. Mentally tough. So-so on kickoffs.

And the New York Giants Select…1st Round – FS Sean Taylor, Miami: If I was smart, I would follow the media herd that says the Giants will pick Eli Manning, Robert Gallery, or Ben Roethlisberger. The Giants are terrible at keeping secrets and the media more than likely has it right again. But I feel like going out on a limb.

Everyone is talking about the Giants trading up for Eli Manning or Robert Gallery. That certainly could happen. It is also not out of the complete realm of possibility that one of these two could slip to the #4 spot (though unlikely). My gut tells me (as of April 15th) that the Giants will stand pat and watch both Manning and Gallery go off the board in front of them. Who do they pick then? The conventional wisdom is that the Giants will draft Ben Roethlisberger at #4 or trade down a few picks and take him. That is certainly possible (and perhaps likely) too. General Manager Ernie Accorsi is certainly high on him (and I like him too). But Roethlisberger is not as ready as Manning to play in the NFL and the Giants can’t keep Kerry Collins on the roster without extending his contract (almost a $9 million cap hit or over 10 percent of the salary cap). Collins will only do that if he is given a long-term deal and the Giants won’t do that if they draft a quarterback in the first round. So if the Giants draft Roethlisberger, I think they have to cut Collins, sit Roethlisberger for one year (he’s not ready to be thrown to the wolves yet as he still needs to learn about reading NFL defenses), and sign some journeyman veteran to start. I just can’t see that happening. Collins is a good quarterback, and if you give him solid protection, he can be darn good. If the Giants don’t take a quarterback in the first round, I think they will give him the extension he is seeking.

So why haven’t the Giants extending his contract yet? Because I think they want to see what transpires in the draft with respect to Manning. They may also be seriously considering Roethlisberger. The big question is this: Do the Giants want to risk “wasting” two years developing Roethlisberger (with guys like Strahan, Barber, and Toomer aging) or do they want to risk passing on a potential “franchise” quarterback in Roethlisberger? Also, is Roethlisberger truly a franchise quarterback? Tough, tough questions.

I am going to pick against conventional wisdom. For the third year in a row, I see the Giants drafting a University of Miami alum. Sean Taylor is the best defensive player in the draft and an impact player. Don’t think of him as “just a safety”. That’s like saying Jeremy Shockey is “just a tight end”. He forms a black hole in the middle of the defense that causes opposing offenses to alter their game plans. He has incredible range and makes plays on the football. Taylor intimidates the opposition. He wins games with big plays. He is an inspirational leader. Taylor will elevate the performance of Will Allen, Will Peterson, Shaun Williams, and Terry Cousin and turn the Giants’ secondary into an elite unit. Most importantly, this will allow new Defensive Coordinator Tim Lewis to employ his aggressive blitzing schemes at will.

Two other strong considerations are WR Mike Williams (if he is eligible) and TE Kellen Winslow. Personally, I think Williams is a better prospect than WR Larry Fitzgerald because he has a bigger upside. (I wouldn’t be upset with Fitzgerald however and Fitzgerald becomes the obvious choice at wide receiver if Williams is not available). Can you imagine an offense with Toomer, Williams (or Fitzgerald), Shockey, and Barber at the skill positions?

Winslow? Another tight end? No way you say. Winslow is not “just a tight end”. He is a TE/WR hybrid in the mold of Jeremy Shockey. Wonder why the Giants didn’t play a lot of 3-WR sets last year? It was because Shockey was often spread out wide as the third wide receiver. Well, Winslow is even faster and a more natural receiver than Shockey. Draft Winslow and the Giants would automatically become a full-time, 2-TE offense with two tight ends who can block like tight ends and catch like receivers. In other words, with the same formation on the field, the Giants could instantly transition from a 2-TE, power-running formation to a 4-WR passing formation. How in the world would defensive coordinators around the league adjust to that? It would be a nightmare for defenses to cover as both Shockey and Winslow DEMAND double-team attention. If they put another defensive back on the field, you run the ball. See what I am getting at? Will it happen? Probably not. But the Giants would revolutionize offensive football if they did. What about Visanthe Shiancoe? If the Giants run a permanent 2-TE offense, then the #3 reserve tight end becomes VERY important.

What if the Giants end up with Manning or Gallery? Joy here too. Manning is the most NFL ready rookie to come along in a long time. He’s got more of an edge to him than his fag choir boy brother (relax, it’s a movie quote from Johnny Dangerously) with equal mental and physical talent. Gallery would help turn a previous Giants’ weakness into a real strength. An offensive line of Gallery-Seubert-O’Hara-Diehl-Petitgout would be an outstanding unit. If Seubert isn’t ready, Stokes is a very capable left guard.

Roethlisberger? He’s the second best quarterback in this draft and has a huge upside. He not only has the size and the arm, but he is a tough leader.

2nd Round – LB Teddy Lehman, Oklahoma: This is the pick that bothers me the most. Not because there won’t be a very good player available. It is because there will be too many. The Giants will likely base this pick as much on need as value. Don’t get me wrong, Teddy Lehman is a very good football player. He can play inside or outside. He is an intense competitor and play-maker. I like him better than Jonathan Vilma, who many think is a first rounder and who I also think may be available at this pick. Why do I like him better than Vilma? Because he is bigger. Vilma’s only negative is his size, but his lack of size is a factor. It is a little disconcerting to me to see Vilma have to drag down rather than forcefully tackle ball carriers because they are sometimes bigger than him, even at the college level. That’s not an issue with Lehman. (But I would not be unhappy with Vilma either…he’s a heck of a football player).

So what’s my problem with this pick? My problem is that I think there is going to be a wealth of talent available here at wide receiver, cornerback, and defensive tackle. Lehman is worthy of the second pick and fills a need, but I also hate losing out some very good prospects at those other two positions. I’m talking about guys like Rashaun Woods, Lee Evans, and Devery Henderson at wide receiver and Will Poole, Derrick Strait, and Ahmad Carroll at corner. Don’t even get me started about the defensive tackles. I would be pleased with any one of these selections.

3rd Round – QB Matt Schaub, Virginia: Accorsi seems to think of this guy as a potential first rounder. He’s not that. But he could be selected in the second round and might not make it this far. Schaub is a high-percentage passer with good arms strength. He manages games very well and I think he would be an ideal pick to develop behind Collins. If Schaub isn’t there, I would look for the Giants to draft another linebacker (Daryl Smith, Demorrio Williams), a cornerback (Keith Smith, Nathan Vasher), or wide receiver (Keary Colbert). My dream selection would be OG Chris Snee. Guards usually fall farther than most think, but I really doubt he lasts this long. Still, I can dream.