NFL DRAFT: Free agent booty gives Giants draft options
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Free agency and a couple of key re-signings seemingly moved the New York Giants a little closer to ending a four-year playoff drought.
It's a Who's Who of starters for new coach Ben McAdoo: defensive ends Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive tackle Damon Harrison, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, linebacker Keenan Robinson
The final step comes next week with the draft. New York has the 10th pick overall, and plenty of needs. The Giants could use an offensive tackle, a wide receiver, a cornerback or safety, another defensive end or linebacker with the ability to go sideline to sideline.
No matter who Jerry Reese picks, it's probably going to fill an obvious need.
Make no mistake. Reese can't afford a mistake. Four years out of the playoffs cost coach Tom Coughlin his job last season. Another failure and the general manager might be gone.
Co-owner John Mara stressed the importance of this draft when asked about it last week, noting how much money the team spent in free agency.
''I put the urgency on myself,'' Reese said. ''I know I come to work every day and I work my behind off and that hasn't changed since Day 1. I see how hard our personnel people work. The pressure is always there. Nobody puts more pressure on me than me.''
Reese has almost always taken the highest player on the Giants' board regardless of position. His picks are quick because the team reviews possible scenarios the day before the draft.
Here's a glimpse at the key issues facing the Giants heading into the draft:
DEFENSIVE END: It would be easy to think the Giants have their pass rushers in place with Vernon and JPP. The problem is Pierre-Paul has to show he can be a force playing with an injured right hand. If he does, Reese has to re-sign him after getting him back on a one-year deal. Kerry Wynn is an adequate backup. The question mark is Owa Odighizuwa. The second-round pick a year ago has a big motor and speed, but injuries kept him off the field. Putting pressure on the quarterback was the key to the team's two Super Bowl titles under Coughlin, so expect Reese to pick one sooner than later.
THE O-LINE: The line is all back, but it needs to produce a running game. Left tackle Ereck Flowers, LG Justin Pugh and C Weston Richburg seem set. The right side is the concern with John Jerry at guard and Marshall Newhouse at tackle. The Giants like Bobby Hart, a seventh-round pick last year, He will get a shot to play. The draft can fill the right tackle spot, or Pugh can be move back there, setting up a battle for left guard.
ANOTHER RECEIVER: With Rueben Randle now with the Eagles and Victor Cruz returning after missing almost all of the past two seasons while injured, this might be the Giants' most immediate need. Dwayne Harris showed last season he was more than a special teams player, but neither he nor Geremy Davis, a sixth-round pick last year, seems ready to the No. 2 receiver. Getting someone to complement Odell Beckham Jr. is an absolute must.
MORE DEFENSE: Free agency helped. Steve Spagnuolo's unit needs more, especially a linebacker who can cover in passing situations, and certainly another safety to play opposite Landon Collins, the second-round pick last year. Reese is hoping that a safety emerges from young pros Nat Berhe, Mykkele Thompson, Cooper Taylor and Bennett Jackson. Thompson, Jackson and Berhe all missed last season with injuries.
THE THINGS THE GIANTS DON'T NEED: Quarterback and running back. Barring an injury, Eli Manning has plenty left in the tank. The wild card is at running back. With Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, Andre Williams and Orleans Darkwa, the group seems set. That's where the unexpected pick comes into play. If either Ezekiel Elliott or Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry is there, don't be surprised ...
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