Draft preview: Defensive line

April, 23, 2012
4/23/12
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This is the seventh installment in a nine-part series that will analyze the Giants' needs, position by position, in the upcoming draft.

Position: Defensive line.

Depth chart: DE Justin Tuck, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, DE Osi Umenyiora, DL Chris Canty, DL Linval Joseph, DE/LB Mathias Kiwanuka, DL Marvin Austin, DE Justin Trattou, DT Dwayne Hendricks, DE Craig Marshall, DT Martin Parker.

Not under contract: DT Rocky Bernard, DT Jimmy Kennedy.

Scouting report: The strength of the team has a little uncertainty surrounding it yet again concerning Umenyiora. The defensive end is still looking for a new contract as he enters the final year of his deal. He also wants to start and Tuck and Pierre-Paul are the starters. The Giants could make Umenyiora play out the final year of his deal if both sides are unable to come to terms on an extension. Then the Giants will have to see how Umenyiora will respond and if he’ll threaten to hold out again.

Tuck hopes to get through this coming season pain-free after dealing with injuries from last preseason on through the Super Bowl. Pierre-Paul will be looking to improve on his breakout season with 16.5 sacks last year. Canty and Joseph combined for a total of 96 tackles inside. Canty had some surgery in the offseason but is expected to be ready for the season. Joseph should only continue to get better. Kiwanuka could potentially see more time at defensive end with the acquisition of Keith Rivers at linebacker and the loss of Dave Tollefson in free agency. Tollefson’s departure also could mean some backup snaps for Trattou.

Austin missed all of his rookie season due to a torn pectoral muscle and has not played football in two seasons now. With Bernard currently unsigned, Austin is in line to backup Joseph and Canty and the Giants almost feel like they have an extra second-round pick this season with Austin's return from injury. Hendricks could see some playing time if Bernard does not return as well.

The Last Time: The Giants last drafted a defensive lineman when they took Austin out of North Carolina in the second round in 2011.

Potential targets: The Giants have taken a defensive lineman in the first or second round in the last two seasons. It wouldn’t surprise one bit if they were to go defensive line with one of their first two picks again based on their best player available philosophy.

What will the Giants do if a defensive end like Syracuse’s Chandler Jones, Clemson’s Andre Branch, USC’s Nick Perry or Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus were available at 32? Will the Giants be able to pass on a potentially disruptive defensive tackle at 32 as well?

The Giants could actually use another young prospect on the defensive line. Who knows what will happen with Umenyiora this year or the year after. Kiwanuka’s contract is up after this season and Tuck’s deal will expire after next season. The expectation is the Giants will keep both but the Giant way is to keep the defensive line stocked with young talent. With Tollefson gone, the Giants can use more depth at defensive end. And with Austin being an unknown for now having not played in two seasons and Bernard unsigned, the Giants can use another defensive tackle.

Michigan State’s powerfully disruptive Jerel Worthy could be there at 32 for the Giants although Worthy can be inconsistent at times. Connecticut’s Kendall Reyes also could be there at 32 as well. If the Giants want to go for a DT later in the draft, a guy like Michigan DT Mike Martin could be an option.

According to ProFootballTalk.com, the Giants have brought in Old Dominion DT Ronnie Cameron and Harvard DE Josue Ortiz for a look as well.

Need Rating (On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being of highest importance): 4.

Next: Linebacker.
Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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