Thursday, April 25, 2013

New York Giants Draft Preview: Defensive Back

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By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)

The NFL Draft is quickly approaching, as we get closer to the primetime opening round April 25th.  This will be the ninth and final part in a series where I will discuss the current and needs for the upcoming NFL Draft for the Giants.

The ninth and final position I will take a look at is defensive back.

Currently on the depth chart for the Giants at defensive back is Corey Webster, Prince Amukamara, Aaron Ross, Jayron Hosley, Terrell Thomas, Antonio Dennard, and Buddy Jackson at corner back, Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown, Will Hill, Ryan Mundy and Tyler Sash, at safety and Laron Scott, David Caldwell, Terrence Frederick and Trumaine McBride at defensive back.  From last season the Giants lost safety Kenny Phillips to the Eagles, while corner backs Justin Tryon and Brian Witherspoon remain free agents.

The Giants badly need a bounce-back season from Webster, who struggled mightily all last season.  The Giants are counting on the veteran Webster to lead what is a relatively inexperienced Giants corner back crew outside himself and Aaron Ross, who is retuning for his second stint with the team.  Ross provides experience and veteran leadership as a third corner in case Hosley is not yet ready to take over full time.

Amukamara played solid football all last season, continuing to improve and look more and more like the player the Giants were expecting when they drafted him in the first round three years ago.  Injuries are the only thing holding Amukamara back; as he has suffered an injury that has kept him out for weeks in both seasons he has been a part of the Giants.

Thomas is attempting to come back from his third ACL tear and will work as hard as anyone to get back on the field.  The Giants should take it slow with Thomas though and not expect any big contributions; anything that Thomas provides this season should be looked at as an added bonus.

Last season Brown stepped up when the Giants suffered some injuries at safety and he did extremely well, getting eight interceptions.  His play allowed the Giants to let veteran Phillips walk this offseason after struggling with some injuries himself throughout his tenure with the Giants.  With Phillips moving on Rolle’s status of a leader will be that much more important and increase even more.

Mundy is another younger player that has some potential and should be a solid depth for the Giants.  Hill flashed some athleticism on defense and special teams for the Giants last year and should be in the mix as the third safety.  Sash is a great special teams player and should push Mundy and Hill for playing time on defense as well.

The last time the Giants drafted a defensive back in the draft was Hosley in 2012. Since taking over as General Manager in 2007, Jerry Reese has spent the most first round picks on defensive backs, drafting Ross, Phillips and Amukamara.  The Giants need an offensive lineman and if someone like D.J. Fluker falls to them they will be tempted to draft him, but don’t be surprised if Reese grabs a safety with the 19th pick.

Drafting a safety this season will be another move made looking into the future, as Brown is one a one year restricted tender this season and Rolle will be entering the final year of his contract, which carries a $7 million base and may become burdensome.  We have seen the Giants cut useful veterans to save money when they need to this season with Ahmad Bradshaw and Michael Boley so if they need the money Rolle could be on the chopping block after this season.

With that keep an eye on Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro.  He is considered to be the best safety in the draft and someone the Giants like.  Vaccaro may not be there when the Giants pick at 19 though, so another player to watch for is LSU’s Eric Reid.  If Reese is not comfortable waiting until the second round and wants Reid, he could very well hear his name called at 19.

Much like at safety, corner back is an area of concern beyond this season for the Giants.  Ross, Thomas and Webster are all basically on one-year deals.  That leaves the Giants with only two players who will see the field this year locked up beyond the 2013 season.  The top corners in the draft this year are Alabama’s Dee Millner, Washington’s Desmond Trufant and Houston’s D.J. Hayden.  All three could potentially be off the board when the Giants are on the clock though, as Millner is a projected top 10 pick while Trufant and Hayden have seen their stocks rise with impressive workouts and pro days.

More realistic options at 19 include Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes, UCONN’s Blidi Wreh-Wright and Boise State’s Jamar Taylor.

Mentioned earlier in the special team’s post, one corner that should be available for the Giants at 19 is Mississippi State’s Jonathan Banks, someone that would also help in the return game.  Tyrann Mathieu was also mentioned in that post and would be available to the Giants in the mid rounds.  Other targets in the mid to late rounds would be USC’s Nikell Robey, Rutgers’ Logan Ryan and Miami’s Brandon McGee.

On a scale of 1-10 defensive back is a pressing need for the Giants heading into the future.  At this time next year the Giants could potentially only have Amukamara and Hosley at corner back and be without leader Rolle, so adding a defensive back should be high on the priority list.  The need for a corner sits at a 9 for the Giants.

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