Dec 26, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers defensive lineman Aaron Donald (97) during the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl against the Bowling Green Falcons at Ford Field. Pittsburgh Panthers defeated Bowling Green Falcons 30-27. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
With the draft just around the corner, the amount of prospects associated with the New York Giants is at an all-time high. No one knows who the Giants are going to take with the #12 pick (sorry Mel Kiper). Earlier this week, GM Jerry Reese hosted his annual pre-draft conference in which he echoed the statement that he is firm in his draft strategy of picking the best player available. Now, who is on top of Reese’s draft board we can only guess.
"Q: How has the work you’ve done in free agency affected your approach to the draft?A: It really doesn’t have a lot of effect on it. The draft is what it is, it stands alone. We try to take the best players we can in the draft and really, in free agency you try to fill some holes, but in the draft you just try to pick the best players. That’s what we try to do."
At #12, all the “elite” players in the draft should be gone. These players, Clowney, Watkins, Mack, and Robinson, are the top four prospects in this year’s draft and will likely not be available to the Giants save a trade-up scenario. This begs the question, who will be the best player available at #12?
Well, if Aaron Donald is still available, he might just be the guy. An All-American out of Pitt, this defensive tackle has the stats of a perennial pro-bowler with the film to back it up. Last season he racked up 59 tackles (28.5 for a loss) , 11 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 3 passes defended.
The knock on Donald is that his lack of size, 6’1 and 285 pounds, prevents him from really being an elite run stuffer. That is okay though, as the Giants 2nd round pick last year — Johnathan Hankins — is looking to fill that void. Donald is a tweener that can wreak havoc in the middle and around the edge.
With standout DT Linval Joseph leaving the team as well as DE Justin Tuck, the Giants will need all the pass rushing talent they can get their hands on. In the Senior Bowl, Donald was nearly unstoppable and prompted one AFC executive to call him the “best defensive lineman coming out in the last 10 years.”
That is a heck of a lot of praise, especially when you consider that Jadeveon Clowney is coming out for this draft as well.
Should the Giants consider this small, scrappy standout from Pitt? Reese wants to draft the best player available and Donald might just fit the bill.