This could be the year the Giants take a linebacker in the first round of the draft for the first time since they selected Carl Banks in 1984. If they do, their choice likely will come down to two players: Myles Jack or Leonard Floyd.
Either could wind up being a dynamic defensive player for the Giants. Neither is a perfect draft pick.
For Jack, the big question is how many years his knee will hold up to the NFL grind. There are reports that eventually he will need microfracture surgery after suffering an injury last season which ended his college career.
“If you’re going to take a player in the top 10, you want him as clean as possible, both character and medical, and I think there’s going to be some concern about Myles Jack medically,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said on a conference call last week. “I know he’s running around and looks great, but I think there’s some teams that are concerned about the longevity of his career.”
The Giants may not be one of those teams despite the specter of some recent first-round picks that never reached their full potential due to injuries. Kenny Phillips, Hakeem Nicks and David Wilson all saw precipitous and premature declines after their ailments and they cost the Giants potential core players.
“I think we’ve had some bad luck with injuries,” general manager Jerry Reese said. “We had a medical meeting last (week) and we talked about the guys that are injury risks. We try to minimize our risks, but it’s football. It’s grown men hitting each other with helmets. Guys get injured. It’s a part of the business.”
Given the urgency of the franchise to return to playoff form after four seasons without a postseason appearance, perhaps it is a gamble general manager Jerry Reese would be willing to take.
“If our doctors say the risk is too high or reject guys, we don’t take them,” Reese said.
Floyd is cleaner medically, but has some other warning labels including a lack of size and pure strength.
“Leonard Floyd is one of my most conflicted players,” Mayock said. “There’s a big part of me that wants to say he’s a top-10 talent, and there’s another part of me that when I look back at my notes, and I’ve done at least six of his games, all over the place I have the word ‘underpowered’ . . . If he doesn’t win with speed, he gets stuck. That worries me.”
Floyd is also one of the oldest prospects in the draft. He’ll be 24 when his rookie season begins.
That doesn’t appear to be an issue for the Giants.
“We’re conscious of players’ ages, but how many players have played over four, five, six years?” Reese said.
That quote could also apply to Jack, too, if his knee turns out to be the time bomb some predict it will be.
Few doubt the overall ability and athleticism of Jack and Floyd despite the concerns. Both could very well wind up being long-term, dominant players in the NFL.
And if both slide down to the Giants with the 10th pick on Thursday night, Reese may have to decide which of the imperfect draft prospects he thinks will be the perfect addition to the team.