Almost every team enters draft season with the same tired mantra -- the best player available is the one they covet. To some degree, it might be true, but it's rarely, if ever, completely genuine.
"We're going to take the best player," New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman said at the NFL scouting combine. "We're going to evaluate them, take the best player."
Well, not exactly. The Giants are not going to select Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor with the No. 4 selection, even if they evaluated him as the draft's best player. Not with running back Saquon Barkley on the roster. And the Giants are not going to take a quarterback with Gettleman still in "full-bloom love" with Daniel Jones, last year's No. 6 overall pick, nor are they likely to add yet another interior defensive lineman.
It's a common story. Every team has some limitations when it comes to the draft. Certain positions are all but eliminated depending on the roster. For the Giants, that might be just two positions this year, as their roster remains a work in progress. They have significant holes, probably in more areas than Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch would care to admit.
The deficiencies have a benefit come draft weekend, though, because the Giants have the flexibility to go in just about any direction.
Offensive tackle? Could use one of those. Center? Yep, add it to the list. Tight end? Wouldn't hurt. Evan Engram is always injured. Wide receiver? Can never have enough. Pass-rusher? Desperately need. Cornerback? Sure, it fits. Safety? Another position of need.
It would make sense for Gettleman and coach Joe Judge to go down any of these paths.
Tackle and center are two of the Giants' biggest positions of need, and they have been for years.
"We've got to fix the O-line, let's be honest," Gettleman said of a problem that predated his hiring.
The Giants need to protect their investment in their young QB, and that means finding a young tackle who can protect him for the better part of the next decade. Nate Solder hasn't lived up to his paycheck and will turn 32 years old on April 12. He's not the future. The Giants signed a bridge player via free agency in Cameron Fleming to play right tackle. A tackle at No. 4 overall (or later in the top 10 if they trade back) can be just what they need to ensure a successful offense with Jones and Barkley as the centerpieces.
The Giants are certainly putting their time and attention toward the top offensive tackles during the pre-draft process, according to sources. They have scheduled video call sessions in the coming weeks with the top tackles, which include Iowa's Tristan Wirfs and Georgia's Andrew Thomas. Louisville's Mekhi Becton and Alabama's Jedrick Wills are also expected to be in that mix. The Giants were also supposed to have dinner with the prospects before their pro days, which were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. So there seems to be little doubt the Giants are contemplating a tackle with their top pick.
A center could be their next selection. The Giants currently own the No. 36 pick. They have done due diligence with video call conversations on Michigan's Cesar Ruiz (according to a report by The Draft Network's Jordan Reid) and Temple's Matt Hennessy, among others. It's an indication that picking a center early is not out of the question with last year's starter, Jon Halapio, still unsigned after tearing his Achilles in Week 17.
What should the Giants do with the 4th pick?
Todd McShay explains why the Giants can either potentially take LB Isaiah Simmons or move back in the draft to try and snag an offensive tackle.
The Giants under offensive coordinator Jason Garrett are expected to run a tight-end-heavy offense. They have signed Levine Toilolo and Eric Tomlinson already. But with Engram's injury history and fifth-year option looming, who knows what's in store for the position. It wouldn't hurt to have another dynamic option in the room.
This appears on paper to be one of the Giants' strongest position groups -- except that might be as flimsy as a tissue. Remember in 2012 and 2013 when the Giants had Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle? They were thought to be set for years to come at receiver. Until they weren't. When they selected Odell Beckham Jr. in the first round in 2014, he was thought to be a luxury. By the end of his rookie season, Beckham was the Giants' only dangerous pass-catching target.
Sterling Shepard’s concussion history has to be taken seriously. Golden Tate will be 32 years old this summer. And Darius Slayton, while coming off an impressive rookie season, has more to prove. Another mid-to-late-round receiver in a ridiculously deep receiver draft is on the table.
This draft has one truly elite pass rush prospect in Chase Young. He seems like a pipe dream after the Giants beat the Washington Redskins in Week 16 last season. Gettleman appears to be allowing Markus Golden to walk as a free agent and signed Kyler Fackrell to a one-year deal, leaving a massive need for a dominant pass-rusher. Adding another first-round pick could put LSU's K'Lavon Chaisson on the radar or someone such as Michigan's Josh Uche or Alabama's Terrell Lewis in the middle rounds.
Clemson's Isaiah Simmons is a real possibility at No. 4. The Giants need a defensive playmaker and like his versatility -- they view it as a strength. Even after signing free agent Blake Martinez to be their middle linebacker, a player who can run and cover alongside him makes sense. Mississippi State's Willie Gay Jr. is a second-round option.
The Giants have so much uncertainty at cornerback despite signing their only proven commodity in James Bradberry. And free safety alongside Jabrill Peppers is an even bigger need. Minnesota's Antoine Winfield Jr. and Lenoir-Rhyne's Kyle Dugger are prospects who should catch the Giants' interest on Day 2.