The seemingly only sure thing in the tenuous world of the National Football League is the New England Patriots will be a Super Bowl contender.
Which teams will reach Super Bowl LII next February 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis won’t be definitively determined until a little more than nine months from today, but when tonight’s NFL draft gets underway in Philadelphia, the Giants sit high on the favorites list to represent the NFC.
Coming off a 11-5 regular season and wild card berth, the Giants’ organization is optimistic they can advance deep into the postseason. Those goals are a long way from being realized, and too many variables, significant injuries being the most prevalent, could dramatically alter their trajectory.
Yet, a fruitful draft could prove to be the difference between the Giants making their first Super Bowl appearance since 2012 and being part of a group of teams simply fighting to earn a playoff invitation.
The Giants’ senior vice president and general manager Jerry Reese will be in search of a starting left tackle and impact pass catching tight end with the 23rd overall pick in the first round and six subsequent picks, including No. 55 in the second round and the 87th pick in the third round, to address the two weakest facets of the team.
Ereck Flowers, the Giants’ 2015 first round pick, has fallen short of developing into a mainstay of the offensive line and securing quarterback Eli Manning’s blind side, which greatly contributed to Manning’s uncomfortableness in the pocket last season. Alabama’s Cam Robinson and Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk would be excellent choices if available both excelled at two of college football’s elite programs and both have skill sets that should translate well to the pros.
The Giants have long lacked a tight end who could severely disrupt opposing defenses in the manner of the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski, Washington’s Jordan Reed or the Seattle Seahawks’ Jimmy Graham. This draft has several who have the potential to be game-changers, led by Alabama’s O.J Howard, Miami’s David Njoku, a native of Cedar Grove, N.J., and Mississippi’s Evan Engram.
Howard is unlikely to be around when the Giants are on the clock in Round 1, and it’s even money that Njoku will be available. Yet Engram, along with Ashland’s Adam Shaheen and Clemson’s Jordan Leggett, should still be waiting for calls well into the second, third and fourth rounds, respectively, and could fit nicely into the Giants’ evolving offense.
But don’t be surprised if Reese, who has a propensity for taking the highest graded player on his draft board regardless of position, snatches up Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton or Alabama inside linebacker Reuben Foster with the Giants’ first pick.