Coming off their first losing season since 2004, and first since Tom Coughlin took over as head coach, the New York Giants will be looking to upgrade several key positions in the 2014 NFL draft. Here’s a look at five potential targets — one at each position of need — that the Giants should consider when they pick 12th in the first round.
TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina — Many mock drafts have the Giants taking athletic freak Ebron with their first-round pick, and it makes total sense considering how thin the team is at the position. Ebron, who broke Vernon Davis’ single-season ACC receiving record for tight ends, would open up New York’s passing attack. Remember, Manning is adept at getting his tight ends involved in the offense.
WR Marqise Lee, USC — The Giants could use a play-making receiver to replace Hakeem Nicks, but Texas A&M standout Mike Evans most likely will be off the board by the time they pick. If that’s the case, the G-Men may consider USC Marqise Lee, who won the Biletnikof Award as the nation’s top receiver with 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns in his sophomore season. Lee was hampered by injuries as a junior, but he’s been compared to Victor Cruz for his ability to run after the catch.
OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan — The Giants spent last year’s first-round pick on Justin Pugh, but it didn’t solve the team’s offensive line troubles. Pugh struggled to adjust to the NFL, although he did improve as the season wore on, and left tackle Will Beatty regressed. As a result, Manning was under constant pressure and the running game sputtered. Lewan has the tools to be the G-Men’s next left tackle.
LB Anthony Barr, UCLA — The Giants traditionally have built defenses around their linebackers, but they have been searching for a difference-maker at the position the last few seasons. A hybrid linebacker with size and speed, he had 20 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in 2013. Having lost defensive ends Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck over the last couple of seasons, the G-Men could use Barr’s pass-rushing skills.
DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh — Donald projects as a mid-late first round pick, but the Giants may want to reach for him after losing defensive line anchor Linval Joseph in free agency. He’s considered undersized for his position, but Donald possesses exceptional agility and quickness. The All-American led the nation’s defensive tackles in tackles for loss and sacks last season.
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