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Monday, February 17, 2014
Combine watch: OT Taylor Lewan

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

With the NFL scouting combine set to begin this week, we're taking a look at a handful of prospects the New York Giants might consider with the No. 12 pick in the first round. Today's entry plays offensive line, which is the biggest offseason need the Giants have.

Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Why they'd take him: The Giants believe themselves to be fine at tackle with Will Beatty locked up long-term on the left side and 2013 first-rounder Justin Pugh on the right. But while the interior of the line appears to be the more pressing problem, the larger, long-term problem is a lack of top talent at offensive line on the roster. The 13 years they went without taking an offensive lineman in the first round before Pugh hurt, and the mid-round guys on whom they've taken chances haven't panned out. Taking the best tackle available at No. 12 would deepen their offensive line talent overall and allow them flexibility down the road. Maybe Beatty's poor 2013 was a sign he can't handle full-time left tackle duty and he'd need to be replaced. Maybe Pugh would be better at guard, as many pre-draft projections last year suggested. Adding premium talent on the line and sorting it out later would be a better thing for the Giants than struggling to find five qualified linemen, as they did throughout 2013.

Where he ranks: Our pre-draft rankings have him as the No. 9 overall player and the No. 3 tackle. Mel Kiper's latest mock draft Insider has him going No. 11 to the Titans. Todd McShay's latest mock draft Insider has him going No. 12 to the Giants. Hmmmm....

Something positive (via ESPN's scouting report): "Powerful drive blocker. Shoots hands inside and controls defender once locked on. Above-average initial surge and drives through contact."

Something negative: "Can get beaten around the corner by better speed rushers. Average athlete who struggles to redirect quickly."

History: The last time the Giants took an offensive lineman in the first round was last year, when they took Pugh at No. 19. Prior to that, their last first-round offensive lineman was Luke Petitgout at No. 19 in 1999. So it may be that they only go offensive line when they have the 19th pick. Maybe they trade down?