The New York Giants hold the No. 12 pick in the first round of the NFL draft, which finally happens Thursday night. Obviously, there's no way to predict who they'll pick without knowing how the first 11 picks will go. And the only thing we know for sure is that there will be surprises in that first 11.
However, for the purposes of this Draft Eve exercise, I have identified four players I think could be there at No. 12 for the Giants. And I want to know from you guys which one you'd take if all four were available.
My hypothetical foursome includes offensive linemen Taylor Lewan and Zack Martin, defensive tackle Aaron Donald and tight end Eric Ebron. Each has been projected to the Giants in multiple recent mock drafts. Each fits a major need. Each is likely to be valued right around that No. 12 slot in the draft. That makes it a matter of preference.
As you likely know, I picked Lewan for the Giants in our NFL Nation mock draft on ESPN.com on Tuesday and on "SportsCenter" on Wednesday. As you know if you've been reading regularly, I think the Giants should and will go with an offensive lineman at this spot if one they like is available, and Lewan represents excellent value at No. 12. What I do not know is how the Giants value Lewan and Martin relative to each other, though I have heard some rumblings in the last day or so that indicate they like Martin better and would take him if presented with the choice. My sense is that Lewan will be gone by No. 12 anyway, but I personally think he's the better player and he's the one I'd take in this scenario.
If the Giants took Donald at No. 12, I wouldn't criticize the pick, because I think Donald is going to be a disruptive star in the NFL. But I do not think the Giants are going to take Donald, because I don't think he fits what they look for in a defensive tackle. The knock on him is his size, and the Giants lean more toward huge cloggers in the middle of their defensive line. I think they like him just fine, but that he doesn't fit what they look for in a defensive tackle, and at this point I'd be surprised if they took him.
I don't think they'll take Ebron either. I know, many of you want the flashy, playmaking tight end for Eli Manning to throw to. I know there's no viable tight end on the roster right now. I know other teams around the league have cool tight ends. I know. I know. I've heard it all. But I just don't think the Giants are going to use a first-half-of-the-first-round pick on this player. He's not a blocker, first of all, and those of you who bring up 2002 first-rounder Jeremy Shockey are forgetting what a good blocker he was. Shockey was a complete enough player to deserve the No. 14 pick that year, and I don't think Ebron is.
In the salary-cap era, teams have to set priorities and decide which positions are worthy of their top resources. By "top resources," I mean free-agent dollars and high draft picks. It's pretty clear that positions like tight end and linebacker aren't positions the Giants deem worthy of top resources. Shockey's draft was 12 years ago, and they've been happy to go cheap at tight end ever since he left. I just don't see the Giants holding a resource as valuable as the No. 12 pick in the draft and spending it on a position they don't value that highly.
I'm not saying there's no way they'll pick Ebron. I'm just saying I don't think they will. Frankly, if they're taking someone who touches the ball with this pick, I'd be less surprised to see them take LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., than I would to see them take Ebron.
Those are my thoughts, based on what I'm hearing and the way I've analyzed it. But I'm curious to see how you guys vote.