- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Where they're picking: 19
Conventional wisdom tells us the New York Giants are a "best-player available" team that uses the draft not to address specific areas of immediate need but rather to augment and maintain a deep roster from year to year. That means the player they take at 19 is probably going to be the highest remaining player on their board, and possibly someone who falls from a projected top-10 slot the way Prince Amukamara did two years ago. So the mock drafts have the Giants taking anyone from tackle D.J. Fluker to linebacker Alec Ogletree to cornerbacks D.J. Hayden or Xavier Rhodes or Desmond Trufant, but the Giants are generally content to wait and see what gem may fall into their laps.
History tells us that, while the Giants do stick to their board, they do apply their own beliefs about position values when assembling that board. So that while someone like Ogletree or Fluker may be the objective "best player available" at 19, he may not be the highest-ranked player on the Giants' specific board. It has been 29 years since they took a linebacker in the first round and 14 since they took an offensive lineman. And while, yes, it had been 12 since they took a running back before they picked David Wilson last year, that was the 32nd pick in the round and their pre-2000 history shows that running back is a position that carries first-round value for them. They were able to ignore it for a while due to the success of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, who are now both gone. Recently, the Giants have seemed to like taking defensive backs. They've taken one with their first pick in four of the last eight drafts.
They probably won't trade up. It would be unlike the Giants to identify a specific player or need and give up later picks in order to move up in the first round -- especially since their biggest needs are at positions to which they don't generally assign first-round value. That No. 19 spot feels like a comfortable spot for the Giants, who will likely find a player who can develop in their system and work his way into a starting job over the next year or so.
They could shock us by taking Notre Dame's Manti Te'o. He'd be their first first-round linebacker since Carl Banks, so it would be a heck of a statement about what they think of him as a prospect. But it would be shocking for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with the Giants' draft history or established organizational philosophy about linebackers. Te'o comes with weird off-field baggage, the likes of which the Giants don't need in their market. He's tested poorly in the pre-draft process and he was beaten like a rug in his last college game. Some have connected Te'o with the Giants during the mock-draft period, but I'd be surprised if they broke a 29-year first-round linebacker drought for him.
My prediction: I took cornerback Desmond Trufant for the Giants in the ESPN blogger mock draft earlier this week, and the reason I made that pick was because he was the highest-ranked defensive back left on the Scouts Inc. board at that time. If cornerback Dee Milliner or safety Kenny Vaccaro drops this far, I believe the Giants will run to the podium to draft him. Otherwise, Trufant, Rhodes, Hayden ... all good guesses, as are the Florida State defensive linemen.