Commentary

Giants need to shore up O-line

Jerry Reese needs a lineman in the NFL draft. But which one?

Updated: April 21, 2010, 2:34 AM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

Everyone knows the New York Giants need a linebacker, but general manager Jerry Reese has a lot of other things to check off his draft shopping list, too.

The Giants could use a pass-rusher or a thick run-stopper added to the defensive line, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Osi Umenyiora's happiness. Drafting a defensive back is always a possibility, with the way the entire unit performed last season.

But Reese also can look hard at bolstering his offensive line. The Giants' running game was simply disappointing last season. Tom Coughlin's power attack vanished, and the team was without a 1,000-yard rusher for the first time since 2001. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw were dealing with injuries and are expected to be healthy this season after offseason surgeries. That wouldn't necessarily stop Reese from taking Clemson's C.J. Spiller, though, if the exciting running back were to slip.

But Reese knows the Giants could use some youth to add depth on the line. The average age of starters Kareem McKenzie, Chris Snee, Shaun O'Hara, Rich Seubert and David Diehl will be 30.6 when Diehl turns 30 on Sept. 15. The group showed some wear and tear last season. A clear sign of the lack of depth up front is that second-year tackle William Beatty is the only backup who will legitimately compete for a starting spot. So look for the Giants to add an offensive lineman to the mix in this week's draft.

Here is ESPNNewYork.com's look at three prospects who could help the Giants fill a secondary need at offensive line.

ANTHONY DAVIS
Position: Tackle
School: Rutgers
Height: 6-5
Weight: 323 pounds
Age: 20

Strengths: Davis is a talented athlete who possesses prototypical height. According to Scouts Inc., his strength is as a pass protector. He has strong awareness in protection, "displays brute strength" and "flashes a mean streak." His durability is not an issue.

Weaknesses: Davis sat out a game in 2008 against Morgan State after violating team rules, and came into camp overweight in 2009. He isn't a dominating run-blocker but is adequate, according to Scouts Inc.

Todd McShay's take: "Davis needs to be motivated and his weight must be monitored, but we would argue he's the best pure pass-blocker in the 2010 crop."

MIKE IUPATI
Position: Guard
School: Idaho
Height: 6-5
Weight: 331 pounds
Age: 22

Strengths: According to Scouts Inc., Iupati possesses an "enormous frame," is tough and plays "with a mean streak." Considered by many to be a guy who could be a starter for the next 10 years and described as an offensive lineman who can block in a variety of ways. According to Mel Kiper, Iupati can improve the run game immediately and be the "Steve Hutchinson of this draft." He has the physical skills and footwork to develop as a solid pass-protector. He can potentially play tackle as well.

Weaknesses: Had offseason shoulder surgery that forced him to miss the first two games of the 2008 season. His speed is below-average for his position and he still needs to work on his awareness and feel for "handling stunts, twists and blitzes," according to Scouts Inc.

Todd McShay's take: "[Alabama middle linebacker Rolando] McClain is a common projection here [at 15 overall] given the departure of Antonio Pierce, but with McClain off the board, look for the Giants to go with Iupati. They need to re-establish a physical tone on offense, and drafting a dominant interior lineman would be a good step in that direction."

MAURKICE POUNCEY

Position: Center
School: Florida
Height: 6-4
Weight: 304
Age: 20

Strengths: Three-year starter is a versatile lineman who can play center or guard. Possesses good size for any of the three interior offensive line positions, according to Scouts Inc. Has good awareness and is above-average run-blocker and pass-protector.

Weaknesses: Underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in May 2009 but hasn't missed any action due to injury in his career. Could display more of a mean streak to finish stronger when given the opportunity, according to Scouts Inc.

Mel Kiper's take: "Pouncey has emerged as the best center-guard combo available. … Athletic, versatile interior lineman. Rising quickly."

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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