- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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It's early for draft talk, but then again it's never too early for draft talk, so how about a look at the New York Giants, who hold the No. 19 pick in the first round. The Giants have not drafted an offensive lineman in the first round since 1999, but I think it's time for that to change. I know Jerry Reese is always going to lean toward the best player available regardless of position. I know they tend to prize pass rushers in the first round. I know this has worked out well for them. I know all of this.
However, the Giants need to think seriously about a rebuild on the offensive line. And drafting a first-round tackle is the way to do that. Even if Will Beatty continues to build on the improvements he showed this year and emerges as the answer at left tackle, there's no reason not to have depth there. If they found a tackle talented and versatile enough to be picked No. 19, he could surely start out on the right side, or maybe even play guard if that's where they turn out to have a need.
Beatty and left guard Kevin Boothe are unrestricted free agents, and as usual the Giants are up against the salary cap. David Diehl opened the season at right tackle but struggled and had to share time there with Sean Locklear. James Brewer remains a project, though it's not out of the realm of possibility that he could be ready to play right tackle next year. Right guard Chris Snee didn't have his best season and isn't getting any younger.
Drafting an offensive lineman in the first round makes sense for the Giants on a number of levels, including their preference for developing players in their system and making rookies earn their playing time. Even if picking a tackle at 19 didn't give them someone who could start right away, it could add depth at a position at which they are growing older, have two free agents and are likely to need help sooner or later. It could help them save money by cutting Diehl if they so chose (though that's hardly automatic, since they love Diehl, his championship track record and his ability to play any position on the line). It would simply give them more options. It wouldn't be the sexiest first-round pick they ever made, but it's probably the wisest way for them to go at this point.
Michigan's Taylor Lewan ranks No. 13 on Scouts, Inc.'s current Big Board, and Central Michigan's Eric Fisher ranks 20th. Those are a couple of names you may hear some more connected with the Giants as the draft gets closer. Just a thought.
UPDATE: Some folks have informed me that Lewan is returning to Michigan. Obviously, go ahead and cross him off the list.