With the 10th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the New York Giants select…Eli Apple?
That’s right. The Giants took cornerback Eli Apple from Ohio State University in the first round of this year’s draft. The Giants have had a need at linebacker for a considerable amount of time and with all the offseason additions on the defensive side of the ball, it seemed like this was the year they would fill that need. With players like Leonard Floyd and Myles Jack in the draft, the Giants felt the need to bolster the secondary which allowed thirty one passing touchdowns last season. While you can’t fault them for filling a position where they felt they were thin, (and last year’s statistics suggest they’re right), drafting a highly touted linebacker like Myles Jack felt like the smarter move. Since Antonio Pierce called that audible in Dallas in 2009, the Giants have really lacked a true captain at the middle linebacker position. The need for a field general at that position seems to have dwindled across the league in recent years. However, in the Giants defensive system run by defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, a true field general is vital to the teams success. Spagnuolo runs a 4-3 defense which calls for pressure on the quarterback coming from the edge and strong run stoppers in the middle. Because of these variables, the Giants spent a considerable amount of money on free agents like defensive end Olivier Vernon and defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison. The 4-3 defense also calls for a field general at the middle linebacker position to shout the plays and audible if he sees something he recognizes from the offense. The Giants have been missing that man in the middle for years and they didn’t do anything to sure that up in free agency and so far in the draft. Jon Beason was a solid field general when healthy but that’s just it, he was rarely healthy. In the Giants defense, the NFL draft is three days and seven rounds. We’ve only gotten through round one so there is still time for the Giants to take that player whom they feel can be that field general. However, it seemed like taking that player in the top 10 would give them the best chance at a sure thing.
The Giants have a few other holes to fill as well including getting another offensive lineman. The offensive line started to come together late in the season last year before rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers went down with an injury. Recent draftees like Flowers, Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg have proved to be solid pickups as they have shifted around the offensive line. Flowers showed that he has the potential to be the answer at that ever so important left tackle position while Pugh went from right tackle to left guard where he seemed much more comfortable. Adding another young big body could solidify this offensive line and get it back to the dominant force that won them a couple rings with guys like Chris Snee, David Diehl and Shaun O’Hara who was there for their championship in 2007. The Giants could also use another young wide receiver to play opposite Odell Beckham Jr.. Victor Cruz is expected to be back but nobody knows what his health will be like and the Giants lost wide receiver Rueben Randle via free agency to the Philadelphia Eagles. Adding another receiver to the roster seems like a given. Who knows if the Giants are sold on their running back core that consists of Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams and Shane Vereen. Drafting a running back could be an option for the Giants as well.
With all that being said, it still seems as though drafting a linebacker in the first round was a move that would have been most beneficial. Especially with a guy like UCLA’s Myles Jack still sitting on the board. Jack fell out of the first round due to teams having concerns over his injury history. Jack came out before the draft and had talked about a knee issue that he has been dealing with that may require microfracture surgery. Once considered a top five talent, his injury history scared teams away. The Giants have the chance to possibly snag him in the second round which, despite the injury concerns, seems to be a pretty good value to get in the second round. Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland is also still available and is a player the Giants could look at if they want to sure up that linebacker position for years to come. However, it doesn’t seem like the Giants feel that drafting a linebacker is a necessity and they will probably once again go in another direction. Jerry Reese, the general manager of the Giants, has been criticized in the past for his track record in the draft. While he has drafted guys like Odell Beckham Jr., he has had much more misses than makes when it comes to drafting starting caliber NFL players. Time will tell how the moves made this offseason will pan out and who knows, Eli Apple could end up being an excellent player in the league for years to come. It still feels like the Giants should have tried to get the linebacker that they so desperately need but the draft is young and there’s still time to do so. For now, Giants fans will continue to hold out hope that Jerry Reese and new coach Ben McAdoo can put together a team that can get the Giants back into the playoffs. They may hold out hope, but they shouldn’t hold their breath. This seems like another Jerry Reese special.
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