- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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If you followed our NFL Nation mock draft on Tuesday (or if you go back and look at it right now), you know I think the New York Giants will take an offensive lineman in the first round Thursday night. I stand by this, though I'm not all the way sure about Michigan's Taylor Lewan as the pick. First of all, I think it's doubtful he drops that far. And second of all, some conversations I've had lately lead me to believe they might prefer Notre Dame's Zack Martin over Lewan even if they do get the choice.
I also don't think the Giants have given up on potentially drafting someone who touches the ball. I don't think they would take North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, because they like their tight ends to block. But if Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans were to tumble enough, it's possible they could make a small move up to snag him.
But my strong feeling is that the pick will be an offensive lineman, and ESPN Stats & Information offered some stuff this week that helps illustrate why:
Giants rushers were first contacted in the backfield on 21 percent of their rushes last season, highest in the NFL.
This indicates a widespread problem. We all know about Eli Manning's 27 interceptions, and Stats & Info also points out the 44 turnovers committed by the Giants were 10 more than any other team. But this stat shows they couldn't even get a running game started, so poor was the protection up front. It's a major short-term need as well as a long-term one, mainly because...
The Giants have drafted 2 offensive linemen in the 1st round since 1990, tied for 3rd fewest in the league: 2013 (Justin Pugh), 1999 (Luke Petitgout).
Normally, I'd say this indicates a trend to which you can expect the Giants to stick, like the one about how they haven't picked a first-round linebacker since 1984. But I think Pugh's strong performance as a rookie, coupled with the obvious fact that neglect and decay on the offensive line crippled their offense last season, has convinced the Giants of the value of investing major resources in the offensive line. As a result, I think it's likely that they find their best option at No. 12 to be an offensive lineman. I wouldn't be surprised if they took two with their first three picks.
Anyway, we'll be doing a live mock draft all morning on SportsCenter, and sometime during the 10 a.m. hour you will hear me make the Giants' pick at No. 12. If Lewan is there again, it will be hard for me to pass him up, but as I said earlier, I'm starting to waver a bit toward Martin.