The most recent edition of the Todd McShay/Mel Kiper Jr. "First Draft" podcast discusses picks 16 through 20 in the first round of next month's NFL draft. And you devoted readers of the NFC East blog know that the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants are picking 18th and 19th, respectively. If you'd like, you can skip to the 11:28 mark to hear them discuss the Cowboys' pick and to the 12:58 mark to hear them discuss the Giants' pick.
I found the Giants discussion interesting, because Mel cites a long-held organizational philosophy established by former GM Ernie Accorsi to support his belief that the Giants will not draft an offensive lineman in the first round. They don't believe in it, he says, unless it's for a "super-elite left tackle." They believe they can develop offensive line talent. Their recent long-term signing of former second-round pick Will Beatty as their left tackle supports this, as does the fact that they haven't drafted an offensive lineman in the first round since 1999.
But this leaves Mel and Todd (who says, "I think offensive line makes a lot of sense," which it does for the Giants) to speculate about the Giants taking an inside linebacker with this pick, and they haven't drafted a linebacker in the first round since 1984. So if passing on offensive lineman in the first round is an organizational philosophy, passing on linebackers in the first round feels more like a religious belief. Todd mentions that they could still use cornerback depth even after using high picks on corners in recent drafts, and their history shows that to be a far greater likelihood than either offensive line or linebacker.
If linebacker Alec Ogletree is on the board at 19, Todd says the Giants should "run up to the podium." We will see whether that happens. Color me skeptical.
As for the Cowboys, Mel and Todd seem to think one of the top guards, Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper, will be available at 18 and would make way too much sense for the Cowboys to pass up there. I agree on both counts. Talking about safety, Mel thinks "there are going to be safeties as good as Kenny Vaccaro that go in the second round," so the Cowboys should wait on that position and running back, which are both needs, while using the first round to address the offensive line. Smart guy, that Kiper. Smart, smart guy.