Sept 1, 2012; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns free safety Kenny Vaccaro (4) intercepts a pass intended for Wyoming Cowboys wide receiver Chris McNeil (80) during the first half at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Giants: On The Clock

The N.Y. Giants always seem to have a plan come draft day. However, having a plan that coincides with all the other teams and their corresponding draft picks can be tricky. With that in mind most teams have obviously more than 1 player on their top board. Let’s go through who the Giants should have on their big board in order to fill some of their most obvious needs.

OFFENSE – Needs – OL, RB

The offensive line was been slowly dissolving into a weaker unit as a whole. Chris Snee and David Diehl are both getting up there in age, and the need for a rock solid starter for years to come should be a focal point at some point early in 2013. Luckily for the Gmen this year is a great year for lineman and they should have their pick of whoever may fall out of the top 15 this year, or even have the opportunity of taking a solid starter in rounds 2-4. The ability for that prospect to learn the nuances of the line from veterans like Snee and Diehl would also work in the Giants favor.

It’s believed up to 7 offensive linemen could go in the first round. I would not expect the top 4 lineman, Joeckel, Fisher, Cooper, and Warmack to be available at 19; however, guys like D.J. Fluker, and Melenick Watson would be an excellent addition for the Giants. Fluker earned preseason All-SEC recognition in 2012 and went on to earn many honors, including second-team All-America by AP and Walter Camp and first-team All-SEC from the coach and second-team from the media while starting each of the Crimson Tide’s games en route to the national title. Menelik Watson recorded a 27.5-inch vertical jump and 19 strength lifts. He played right tackle at Florida State but the feeling is he can play left tackle. If the Giants decide to go in another direction in round 1, look for Justin Pugh in round 2, or Barrett Jones in Round 3. Both players versatility is unparalleled to the entire lineman class outside of the top 4 lineman in the draft. Pugh may be the biggest reason Ryan Nassib is considered to be a good QB prospect since he kept him on his feet throughout his college career, while Jones was D.J. Flukers’ teammate and has won a national championship playing 3 separate positions on the offensive line (C, OG, and OT.)

Running back is a much smaller need since we’re really talking about a back-up here. David Wilson will be the #1 back going forward and Andre Brown can’t stay healthy, so were looking for a versatile back with some pass catching ability to be a fill in while Wilson and Brown get some rest. Brown will be a free agent after next season so there should be an interest in having some security at the position, but it won’t be until round 4 or lower. Guys I love like Michigan State Le’Veon Bell and North Carolina Giovanni Bernard will be long gone, so the Giants will be looking for a RB who can also be used as a punt returner, or a great blocker on special teams. Enter Florida RB Mike Gillislee. Gillislee went crazy in his senior season after finally getting the starting gig. He totaled 1,152 yards and 10 touchdowns in the SEC. That takes talent, and this kid has some serious upside. Considered a top prep-school prospect coming out of high school, Gillislee sat behind Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps before they both left for the NFL. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not going to be a starter, but he would be more than helpful. He should be chosen in rounds 4 or 5.

DEFENSE – Needs – LB, DB

Dan Connor, Mark Herzlich, Mathias Kiwanuka, Keith Rivers. Those are the best ILB’s on the Giants roster as of now. Kiwanuka is no slouch. He’s a heck of a player and a great LB, but he’s not a natural MLB. Rivers was just signed to a 1 yr. deal, but he’s not a MLB either. Herzlich is a fantastic story, and an inspiration in the locker room, that being said he’s not going to the pro-bowl this year, though I wish him the best on making it one day. The glaring need for a captain in the middle has been a problem for the last two years, and it should be a priority.

The problem is this isn’t a great class of ILB. As a matter of fact I only really like two of them and that’s LSU’s MLB Kevin Minter and Georgia LB Jarvis Jones. Just like Gillislee at Florida, Minter and Jones played in the SEC, which is a tutoring lesson for the NFL. So many great NFL players come from that conference. Minter was clearly the best defensive player on his team at LSU, but is he worth the #19th pick overall? Jones on the other hand would be a gift if he somehow falls to #19. Teams are very skeptical of Jones because of some pretty serious medical concerns. Jones was diagnosed with Spinal Stenosis, a narrowing of the spine that can result in numbness, loss of muscle control, and in some cases paralysis. He has since been cleared by doctors, saying that it was a miss-diagnosis, but that really tainted his draft stock. He is a top 10 talent that will fall some but I’m not sure he makes it to 19. If he should, would the Giants consider him healthy enough for them to draft? That’s a question for Jerry Reece. I think it would be an easy pick myself. Jones isn’t even considered a true MLB, which goes against my own thought process. He’s just too good to pass up if he’s still there. Now if he isn’t I think the Giants should look at OL or a CB in the first round.

With that being said, let’s talk about the CB / S class for the 2013 NFL Draft. This class has some serious talent. Dee Milliner barring any major injury will be a shutdown corner in the NFL. The Giants would need to move way up in the draft to even think about Dee and that’s not Mr. Reece’s style. Instead the Giants should be looking at 3 guys in particular.

(1) Florida State CB, Xavier Rhodes – Rhodes, like Jarvis Jones would have to fall in the draft according to most mock drafts. According to what you read, he could go to the Dolphins at 12, the Bucs at 13 and the Saints at 15. The kid has a 40.5” vertical leap, an 11’ broad jump, and he ran a 4.39 40 at the combine. All 32 teams were present at his pro-day, and is considered by most to be the second best CB prospect in this class.

(2) Texas FS, Kenny Vaccaro – Vaccaro emerged as arguably the best safety in the Big 12 as a junior, posting 82 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two sacks, eight passes broken up and two interceptions. While the Longhorns’ talented defense struggled in 2012, Vaccaro registered a career-high 107 tackles and five turnovers (two interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery). He has great instincts and hits hard, 2 qualities needed to be successful as a FS in the NFL. Giants’ fans should be thrilled if Vaccaro is taken at #19.

(3) Houston CB, D. J. Hayden – Hayden, also has similarities to Jarvis Jones. Hayden had what could have been a fatal injury last year. Hayden suffered a heart issue — a torn inferior vena cava — which was called the “most unique injury in the history of the draft” by a Packers executive, but he’s getting good news in his team physicals after checking out at the Combine. Hayden was elected to the 2012 ALL Conference USA team even though he only played 9 games after the heart related injury. He was a team Captain at Houston, and shows the willingness to fight through adversity. I would take him last of the three only due to the unbelievable injury he suffered in a practice! Still, he’s very talented and would be a good pick for the Giants.

For those of you who follow my draft and are wondering how I could have written this entire piece without mentioning Florida State DE Bjoern Werner after having him as the Giants pick for many weeks now, I say… I just did. (HA!) I would like to remind everyone reading this that the article is about players the Giants should be looking at to fill a need, not who they think is the best player available at the time. I know, semantics but hey! What can you do?

Follow me on Twitter @Jferguson631

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