NEW YORK (AP) - No team was busier than the New York Giants in free agency. Still, they’re not fooling themselves into believing their offseason work is close to finished.
The Giants have signed 16 veterans already, addressing problems on both lines and in the secondary after they went 7-9 last season. General manager Jerry Reese says that only means some needs have been taken care of.
Those also are areas the Giants could hit in this week’s draft.
“The draft stands alone. What we did in free agency really doesn’t affect what we do in the draft,” Reese said.
Fortunately for New York, which picks 12th, this draft is so deep that whomever Reese grabs should be a potential starter from Day 1. Speculation has centered on North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, and Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin.
Here’s a look at where the Giants might go in the draft:
THE TIGHT END: Ebron, in particular, makes sense because the Giants need a tight end with big-play skill over the middle in their offense. Eli Manning is most comfortable and effective when he has such a threat.
“Everybody needs a playmaking tight end,” Reese said. “I think in all offenses you want a playmaker at every position if you can. I think every team wants a Pro Bowl-style tight end, they want a couple of Pro Bowl wide receivers, they want a Pro Bowl running back. Sure, you’d like a big, strapping tight end.”
Ebron is 6-foot-4, 250 pounds and comes off a strong junior season (62 catches, 973 yards) in which he broke an ACC record for yards for the position held by Vernon Davis, now a star with the 49ers. He has excellent hands and can get deep. His blocking is, well, a work in progress.
VERSATILE DEFENDER: Donald swept nearly all the postseason awards he was eligible for last year. The Giants lost Linval Joseph at defensive tackle, and Donald is a more versatile player than Joseph was.
But Reese believes the Giants have some options at the position already on the roster.
“We have guys who need to step up. We brought in some defensive linemen in free agency, we have some guys from last year,” he said. “(Cullen) Jenkins, we have (Johnathan) Hankins from last year, we have (Markus) Kuhn coming back from the knee injury, so we have some defensive linemen.”
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE LINE: They also added plenty of guys on the other side of the trenches in free agents, including projected starting center J.D. Walton, John Jerry, Geoff Schwartz and Charles Brown. The imposing Martin, though, wouldn’t be a bad addition.
Martin goes 6-4, 308 and started 39 games for the Fighting Irish. He was a team captain, consistent and dependable, and probably could play guard in the NFL, too.
“I just see him as a good offensive lineman,” Reese said. “I think he has some flexibility to play both but I just see him as a good offensive lineman.”
DEEP THREATS: With Hakeem Nicks gone, the Giants hope Rueben Randle, entering his third season, can replace the long-ball skills Nicks brought to the team. New York brought back 2012 Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham after he had two injury-plagued seasons in San Francisco, but with this being a, well, deep crop of receivers, the Giants should be able to find one in later rounds.
SECONDARY THOUGHTS: Although they loaded up on defensive backs in free agency and have former starting safety Stevie Brown returning from injury, the Giants could turn to the secondary should a high-quality prospect be on the board.
“You would like to think that the 12th pick would be a player that can come in and contribute right away, but you have to earn your positions here,” Reese said. “We don’t give guys positions.”
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