NFL Draft: Even Super Bowl champs need to restock
Does winning a second Super Bowl in five years mask a just-barely-above-mediocre 9-7 regular season? Of course it does.
Though the Giants lifted the Lombardi Trophy in Indianapolis 2 months ago, they still need to restock and, one some levels, rebuild some key vacancies on their championship roster, namely at the skill positions.
Here's a look at some needs the Giants have entering tonight's first round of the NFL draft (8 p.m. on ESPN), and just how they might fill them when Big Blue is on the clock:
Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, normally willing to cede to Big Blue's braintrust, voiced his opinion this week regarding the organization's need to supply him with some replacements for players lost via free agency or injury. The Giants' 21-17 victory over New England in February came at a cost, as tight ends Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum both suffered torn ACLs during Super Bowl XLVI. Stanford's Coby Fleener, more pass receiver than sound blocker, may be available when the Giants are up with the 32nd and final pick of the first round. Clemson's Dwayne Allen is more versatile at the position, making him a more Giant-like pick in the opening round should Big Blue choose to go this route.
Manning's long sideline pass to Mario Manningham was the key play in the Giants' game-winning drive against the Patriots in Indy. But the fourth-year wideout out of Michigan signed with San Francisco as a free agent. That leaves Reese and his staff to find Manning another target to go with Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. Reserves Devin Thomas and Ramses Barden haven't shown enough development to be a sure thing at the No. 3 slot. The Giants may look to Baylor's Kendall Wright - one of Heisman Trophy-winner Robert Griffin III's favorite targets - at the end of the opening round, but this need will likely be addressed later in the draft. Rutgers' Mohamed Sanu, who is blessed with NFL-type size and speed, could be a steal if he slips into the second round.
Brandon Jacobs - he of the alleged 100 mile-per-hour Garden State police escort service - joined Manningham in San Francisco, leaving incumbent Ahmad Bradshaw without a proven backup; D.J. Ware and Da'Rel Scott, who was taken in the seventh round last year, are still in development mode. Boise State's Doug Martin, who has drawn comparisons to Baltimore Pro Bowler Ray Rice, could be on the board come pick No. 32. However, Cincinnati's Isaiah Pead, the reigning Big East Player of the Year, can block, catch and lug the pigskin well enough to be a solid complement to Bradshaw in the backfield - or at worst, to emerge as a threat on third down.
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