Giants rarely draft need, it’s all about talent

Heading into his fifth draft as general manager of the New York

Giants, Jerry Reese hasn’t changed much in discussing his team’s

needs.

The less said the better.

His latest pre-draft news conference with the media was just

like his first.

”We are going to pick the best player, guys,” Reese said.

Seven times in 30 minutes, Reese used a form of that sentence in

answering questions about the draft.

So while the Giants have needs on offensive lineman, at wide

receiver and linebacker, don’t be surprised if they take a

defensive end or safety when they make the 19th pick in the draft

on Thursday.

If there is any doubt about that philosophy, look at recent

draft. New York took defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul last year

despite having Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka on

the roster.

It’s part of the best-player-available philosophy.

Reese has had excellent results in the draft, taking cornerback

Aaron Ross (2007), safety Kenny Phillips (’08) and receiver Hakeem

Nicks (’09). The only negatives with any of them have been

injuries.

The lockout is what’s made this draft different from any of

Reese’s previous four. There has not been a free agency period

because of the current NFL labor dispute, preventing Reese from

addressing any holes since the Giants missed the postseason with a

10-6 record.

”All we can do right now is to draft,” Reese said. ”We are

going to try to pick the best players in the draft and we will make

adjustments after the draft. That’s really all you can do. Because

you really don’t know what is going to happen. Right now we can

control the draft.”

The Giants most pressing need seems to be on the offensive line,

where four of the five starters are more than 30-years-old, and Pro

Bowl guard Chris Snee is 29. Center Shaun O’Hara missed most of

last season with foot and ankle problems and guard Rich Seubert

needed surgery after the season to repair a kneecap injury.

Backup center Adam Koets also is coming off knee surgery and

tackle Shawn Andrews battled back problems.

The two players who might combine need and the proper grade for

the Giants are Boston College tackle Anthony Castonzo and Florida

guard Mike Pouncey, although neither may be around when New York

picks.

The receiver spot also is a concern with Steve Smith’s status

for the start of the season uncertain following major knee surgery.

Domenik Hixon and Ramses Barden also are coming off injuries.

It’s unlikely the Giants will select a receiver in the first

round but if they right person plummeted, who knows?

The other areas of concern are at linebacker, where veteran

Keith Bullock’s status is uncertain at age 34, and cornerback,

where Ross has been bothered by hamstring problems for two seasons.

The tight end spot also might need to be filled if Kevin Boss is

not re-signed.

The running back position is murky because of the labor

dispute.

Starter Ahmad Bradshaw is a restricted free agent, but who knows

if free agency will change if a new collective bargaining agreement

is reached.

Backup Brandon Jacobs also wasn’t happy leaving the Giants

locker room after the season ended, so one has to wonder whether

the team will want him around.

One interesting pick at No. 19 might be Alabama back Mark

Ingram, whose father (Mark) was drafted by the Giants in the first

round in 1987. There are questions about Ingram because of a knee

problem last year, but New York has never hesitated taking a player

if they were satisfied with his physical condition.

”You always are cognizant of what your needs are,” Reese said.

”But still, if we need a running back and there is high value at

defensive tackle, we are not going to take a running back just

because we need a running back. We are going to take that high

value defensive tackle or any other position.”

Reese said he was not concerned about the draft preceding free

agency this year.

”It’s just flipped,” he said. ”We’ll go into the draft

looking for the best players available. Then after the draft, when

free agency starts, we’ll probably say, ‘OK, let’s fill some

holes.’ We’ll be ready to pounce when that starts.”