Giants draft: What to watch for

Draft day is finally here. Soon the unpredictable will happen and the draft madness will begin tonight.

It’s hard to say what will happen by the time the Giants pick at 32 late tonight but here’s three things to potentially look for:

1. #32: The Giants would probably be thrilled if someone like North Carolina DE Quinton Coples, Syracuse DE Chandler Jones, Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus, Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick and Alabama LB Dont’a Hightower were to fall to 32. Same for Georgia Tech WR Stephen Hill. All those guys are on the Giants’ wish list.

But all those guys, based on many projections, are not expected to be there when the Giants are on the clock. My guess is if all those guys are gone, the Giants could tab LSU WR Rueben Randle. Indications are the Giants are looking at wide receiver if the players mentioned earlier above are not available. Randle is a player the Giants have discussed.

Randle was my first pick in my seven-round mock draft which, again, is like throwing darts while blindfolded. In doing that mock, I didn't pick based on guys I think the Giants should take. I tried to draft based on what I think the Giants might take. And so many times, there would be a player I wanted to give to the Giants but I often kept thinking that player wouldn't be there when the Giants selected late in each round. So I tried to pick based on that. Could I have picked guys I personally wanted for them in each round? Yes. But I tried to project who was going to go ahead of them in each round. It’s impossible to know though.

Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Giants take a running back, offensive lineman and wide receiver somewhere in the first four rounds. I'd love to see a Boise State RB Doug Martin or Stanford TE Coby Fleener to the Giants in the first round. But I also know the Giants don’t always draft for need.

That's why in the Sports Center mock draft I did with other writers around the country on Wednesday, I picked Clemson DE Andre Branch with Coples, Jones, Mercilus, Kirkpatrick, Hightower, Hill and Randle all off the board already. If it had been my pick on what I would have wanted, I would have gone with Martin, Fleener or Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy based on what was available at the time.

2. THE NEEDS: Jerry Reese always says he will go for the best player available. But the Giants could use a running back to replace Brandon Jacobs, an offensive lineman (free agent right tackle Kareem McKenzie isn’t expected back) to get younger and more athletic on the line, a wide receiver to help replace Mario Manningham and a defensive end for depth and down the road with so much uncertainty surrounding Osi Umenyiora. By the way, my guess is Umenyiora remains a Giant after the draft. Just my guess.

Tight end, defensive back for depth and future and a returner are also on my wish list for the Super Bowl champs.

Reese always keeps an eye toward the future and his salary cap situation so keep that in mind when he makes picks this weekend.

3. PASSING ON TIGHT END FIRST: All indications I’ve gotten are that the Giants likely will not take a tight end in the first round. A popular pick for the Giants by many is Fleener. He certainly would seem to provide Eli Manning with a fine receiving target and Fleener said on Wednesday that he had been in touch with tight ends coach Mike Pope but nothing recently.

I’ve also heard that the Giants are likely to pass on a running back at 32 either. Personally, Martin intrigues me and the idea of having a running back who has drawn some comparisons to Ray Rice in the Giants offense appeals to me. But Reese and the Giants are some of the best drafters in the league so we’ll see if and where they go for a running back in this draft.

In the meantime, tell us below who you guys want the Giants to pick tonight. Good luck!