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Jerry Reese loves depth and creating competition on his roster.
That's why the Giants' general manager insists he is not going to use his No. 15 overall pick only on a position that the team has a need at, if a superior talent is available at another position. So even though everybody knows the Giants desperately need a linebacker, Reese could opt to draft for a position that the Giants already have plenty of talent at. The Giants are believed to be interested in Clemson running back C.J. Spiller, despite the fact they already have Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. But Spiller is not expected to be around at No. 15.
The Giants also reportedly have their eyes on South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who may also be gone by the time Reese picks.
|Brandon Graham led the nation in tackles for a loss in 2009.|
One guy who is expected to be around when the Giants are on the clock is Michigan's Brandon Graham. Graham's name hasn't really been linked to the Giants leading up to the draft. He is an undersized defensive end who could also play outside linebacker, and he may be best-suited to play in a 3-4 scheme, with many people comparing him to the Steelers' LaMarr Woodley. But in the second installment of ESPNNewYork.com's breakdown of three linebackers the Giants might want to consider, we're taking a look at Graham for a few reasons.
We all know how the Giants love to stock up on pass-rushers, and Graham is easily one of the best in this draft, having led the country in tackles for a loss in 2009. Graham is expected to draw serious interest from teams around the middle part of the first round. With the Osi Umenyiora situation threatening the harmony of training camp and Mathias Kiwanuka also wanting to start in the last year of his contract, the idea of adding another pass-rusher isn't a crazy idea. Like they did with Kiwanuka, the Giants could potentially switch Graham between defensive end and linebacker if need be. Graham is rated right behind Alabama's Rolando McClain (our first linebacker highlighted) at No. 16 on both Scouts Inc.'s top 32 prospects and ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper's latest Big Board.
And even if many people think Graham is best-suited to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, Reese said the team will not shy away from drafting a player who doesn't seem to fit the Giants' 4-3 defense.
Finally, the Giants have a history of being fond of players from the Big Ten. Since 2000, the Giants have drafted 11 players from the Big Ten. Also, the Giants have drafted their share of Michigan Wolverines since the mid-90s -- Amani Toomer, Tyrone Wheatley and Mario Manningham, to name a few.
Position: Outside linebacker/defensive end
Weight: 268 pounds
STRENGTHS: Graham shined at the 2010 Senior Bowl, with five tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble. According to Scouts Inc., Graham is a disciplined tackler who plays from the snap until the end of the play with an edge. He has been described as relentless, tough and able to deliver the big hit when getting to quarterbacks.
WEAKNESSES: Graham's discipline has reportedly been questioned by some scouts. He lacks prototypical defensive end height, and because of that, Graham's best fit may be at power end in a 4-3 scheme according to Scouts Inc. He also "lacks ideal athletic ability."
MEL KIPER'S TAKE: "Worries that Graham is miscast as a defensive end in a 4-3 are unfounded. He has the size to become a speed-rusher in the mold of a Robert Mathis and uses his leverage well in the run game. This is the guy who led the nation in TFL (tackles for loss). He's simply always in the backfield, but not in the manner of a player who sells out the rush defense in the relentless pursuit of sack totals."
Next up: Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.
Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.