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Thursday, April 3, 2014
Analyzing Kiper Grade A draft: Giants

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

The New York Giants hold the No. 12 pick in the 2014 NFL draft following their 7-9 season. The Giants have been the NFL's most active team so far in free agency, signing a total of 13 free agents, including 13 from outside their own organization. They have filled a lot of holes, but that doesn't mean they are without needs both immediate and long-term.

Mel Kiper's fourth 2014 NFL mock draft is out today. If you're an Insider, you have access to the three-round mock and will see that his first-round pick for the Giants fills a glaring present-day hole with a pick that could bring long-term benefits as well.

With the No. 12 pick of the first round, Mel has the Giants taking North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron. Since the Giants don't currently have a legitimate starting tight end on their roster, this pick makes sense as one that could help right away in September 2014. With Hakeem Nicks gone off to the Colts in free agency after his dismal year, the Giants are counting on oft-injured Mario Manningham and third-year receiver Rueben Randle to help take pressure off of Victor Cruz in the passing game. Adding a big, dynamic target like Ebron at tight end would give quarterback Eli Manning another receiving weapon and help in that endeavor. I don't think the Giants could go wrong with offensive line, defensive line or wide receiver here, but I have no issue with Ebron if they really believe he's a difference-maker at the tight end position. They've gone year-to-year with tight end stopgaps for too long, and this could put an end to that.

Mel has the Giants taking Notre Dame defensive tackle Stephon Tuitt in the second round and LSU guard Trai Turner in the third. The Giants lost their best two defensive lineman from 2013, Justin Tuck and Linval Joseph, in free agency and have signed only Robert Ayers as a replacement. (Mike Patterson doesn't count since he was on last year's team, as well, and therefore isn't an addition.) While the Giants believe Johnathan Hankins is ready to take over for Joseph on the inside and they hope that Damontre Moore can replace Tuck at defensive end, it certainly wouldn't hurt for them to restock the pipeline at defensive line. Tuitt would seem like good value at the No. 43 pick, and a defensive linemen in the second would be an in-character move for the Giants.

I also agree that they need to come out of the first three rounds with an offensive lineman. I don't personally think the Giants have a legitimate starting center on their roster right now (though they seem to think J.D. Walton will be that), and I think there are big questions with Chris Snee at right guard and Will Beatty at left tackle. The line fell apart so completely last season, and revealed so little in the way of reinforcements, that I think the pipeline on that side of the trenches needs an infusion of top-level talent as well.