Commentary

NFL draft: Giants' offensive needs

Entering 2012 draft, some of Big Blue's biggest needs are on offense

Updated: April 22, 2012, 10:30 PM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning & Ernie AccorsiAP Photo/Bill KostrounSince the Eli era began in 2004, the Giants have gone defense in six of the past seven drafts.

Since the Eli Manning era began in 2004, the New York Giants have gone defense with their first pick in six of the past seven drafts.

Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks is the only offensive player the Giants have taken with the first pick they possessed (first or second round, as was the case in 2005) since they traded Philip Rivers for Manning in 2004.

The Giants' philosophy is to take the best player available regardless of position and that has often translated into keeping the defense stocked with talent.

But entering the 2012 draft, some of the Giants' biggest needs are on offense. The departures of Brandon Jacobs, Mario Manningham and Kareem McKenzie have left the Giants without three key contributors to their Super Bowl run.

There are plenty of in-house candidates who likely will replace those three. But general manager Jerry Reese can also look toward the draft for potential candidates as well. ESPNNewYork.com takes a look at some of the Giants' needs on offense entering the draft.


OFFENSIVE LINE

McKenzie has been the starting right tackle for the Giants since 2005. He is a free agent and the Giants are looking to move forward with perhaps David Diehl at right tackle.

Mike Adams
Phil Sears/US PresswireOhio State offensive tackle Mike Adams could be an option at No. 32.

Diehl started at left tackle and left guard last season but Will Beatty (eye) has been cleared to resume playing and starting again at left tackle. Kevin Boothe proved to be one of the most versatile linemen on the Giants and could remain as the starting left guard after helping the Giants win the Super Bowl there. Mitch Petrus also showed he is capable of starting and holding his own at guard, as well.

If the Giants opt to put Diehl at left guard, James Brewer could be an option at right tackle. Last year's fourth-round pick was drafted out of Indiana as a project but he has good size (6-foot-6, 323 pounds) and athleticism. The Giants also signed former Redskins and Seahawks offensive lineman Sean Locklear, who was Seattle's starting right tackle during its Super Bowl run in 2005.

The Giants' offensive line can get younger and more athletic. Last season, the Giants finished last in rushing and there were simply not enough holes to run through for much of the season. The running game improved as the season went on but the Giants need to give Manning more help with the running game.

Georgia's Cordy Glenn and Stanford's Jonathan Martin are among the tackles who are expected to be drafted in the mid-to-late first round. Ohio State's Mike Adams could be available when the Giants pick at 32.

If the Giants don't want to invest a first-round pick in an offensive lineman, they could look at Cal's Mitchell Schwartz, Mississippi State's James Carmon and Oklahoma's Donald Stephenson as potential candidates to draft in later rounds.


RUNNING BACK

Jacobs wasn't getting the same amount of yards or carries as he did earlier in his career, but he provided the Giants with a physical back with starting experience behind Ahmad Bradshaw. He also gave the Giants an emotional lift.

[+] EnlargeDoug Martin
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireDoug Martin is considered the most complete running back after Alabama's Trent Richardson.

Now, the Giants currently have Bradshaw, D.J. Ware, Da'Rel Scott and Andre Brown on the depth chart. Bradshaw wants to carry a bigger load but he also is running on surgically repaired feet and ankles. Ware is hoping to prove he can be the backup running back and provide a spark with more carries.

The Giants like Scott's potential and blazing speed, but need to see more from last year's seventh-round pick, who has to earn the coaching staff's trust and show more of a grasp for the offense. A full offseason of coaching and training with the team will help tremendously after not having that luxury last year due to the lockout. The team also likes Brown, a former fourth-round pick, who will have to serve a four-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing substance policy.

"We have some running backs, a couple of young running backs," Reese said. "Andre Brown, Da'Rel Scott, we expect them to step out of the shadows a little bit and see what they can do. We like those guys. We know what [Bradshaw] can do, we know what Danny Ware can do. We'll continue to look in free agency. We'll look in the draft, as well, and see if there's a running back there that we think can help us."

The Giants have not drafted a running back higher than the fourth round since 2000, when they selected Ron Dayne in the first round. They got Jacobs and Brown in the fourth round and uncovered Bradshaw and Scott in the seventh round.

If the Giants were to consider a running back at 32, Boise State's Doug Martin is a possibility. He is considered to be the most complete back after Alabama's Trent Richardson. Other running backs who could go in the second round and later are Miami's Lamar Miller, Virginia Tech's David Wilson, Oregon's LaMichael James, Cincinnati's Isaiah Pead, Washington's Chris Polk, Temple's Bernard Pierce and Michigan State's Edwin Baker. The Giants also have reportedly brought Texas A&M's Cyrus Gray and Utah State's Michael Smith in for a look.


WIDE RECEIVER

The Giants have one of the best receiving duos in the game with Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. But having a third threat -- like the Giants did with Manningham -- is a great weapon. Reese and Tom Coughlin are hoping that for the second year in a row the Giants can fill a receiver void from within, as they did last year in replacing Steve Smith with Cruz.

[+] EnlargeKendall Wright
Jerome Miron/US PresswireKendall Wright spent his college career catching passes from 2011 Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III.

Ramses Barden, Jerrel Jernigan and Domenik Hixon will get a chance to compete for that third spot.

"Barden, we want him to get healthy and play," Reese said of the 2009 third-round pick. "We picked him high. We think he has talent. He's done a decent job when he's been able to get some snaps in the game, but we expect him to stay healthy and show us what he can do. And Jernigan, he showed a little more confidence as the year went on last year. We think he's a good player, as well. Domenik is back. We'll continue to look at that position, as well."

Baylor's Kendall Wright and Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill are receivers who could go late in the first round. South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery is a tough receiver with size that could interest the Giants. Rutgers' Mohamed Sanu, who reportedly visited with the Giants, and Appalachian State's Brian Quick could also be options in the second round or later. Arkansas' Joe Adams, Michigan State's Keshawn Martin and Fresno State's Devon Wylie, whom the Giants reportedly brought in for a look, are receivers who also can return punts and kickoffs -- an area the Giants struggled in the past two seasons.

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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