GIANTS' DRAFT: WHAT TO WATCH FOR

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

Itís hard to say what will happen by the
time the Giants pick at 32 late tonight but hereís 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 Dontía
Hightower
were to fall to 32. Same for Georgia Tech WR Stephen
Hill
. All those guys are on the Giantsí 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. Itís impossible to know though.


Personally, I wouldnít 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
donít 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 isnít 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
Iíve 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.

Iíve 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 weíll see if and where they go
for a running back in this draft.