Jerry Reese and New York's front office did a lot of work in March and April to make sure that the 2014 Giants wouldn't suffer the same fate as the 2013 version of the team. Last year, Big Blue finished 7-9 and out of the playoffs, so Reese handed out contracts to free agents at several different positions to make sure that the team would be better this year.
Cornerback, running back, and offensive line are three of the main areas that the Giants have improved since last season concluded. There is still a big opportunity to add new talent, though: the upcoming NFL Draft.
Reese told reporters on Thursday that his free agent spending spree wouldn't have an effect on which prospects the Giants would target in the draft, which starts in primetime on May 8.
"The draft is what it is, it stands alone," he said. "We try to take the best players we can in the draft and really, in free agency you try to fill some holes, but in the draft you just try to pick the best players."
Generally, Reese likes to target franchise cornerstones in the early rounds, when the best players are available. Later on, he'll take some chances on fringier prospects.
"You feel like you can take a risk on some guys, some talented players with some risk in the latter part of the draft," noted Reese. "You try to limit the risk with the first part of your draft."
"Your first three picks, you want to get some guys who can come in and contribute right away. You probably can get a couple starters out of your first three picks. But after the first couple of rounds, you get into those fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh rounds, most of the kids are developmental."
With the Giants not retaining last season's starting tight end Brandon Myers, there's been speculation that the team could select a tight end as early as the No. 12 overall pick. Eric Ebron out of North Carolina is widely believed to be the top player available at the position, but Reese wouldn't confirm or deny that the Giants were interested.
"Everyone wants big, fast tight ends who can block and catch balls, he said. "It's the same thing all over the league. Everybody wants those guys."
Of course, tight end is hardly the only position that could stand to be improved. There will be plenty of promising players to choose from if the Giants opt to bolster their offensive or defensive line instead.
Michigan's Taylor Lewan and Notre Dame's Zack Martin are two of the biggest offensive line names that could be available in the first round. Martin played tackle in college, but Reese thinks he can be a versatile player like last year's first round pick, Justin Pugh.
"I just see him as a good offensive lineman," said Reese. "That's how I see him. I think he has some flexibility to play both [tackle and guard] but I just see him as a good offensive lineman."
When it comes down to it, Reese says the Giants will choose the best player available when it comes time to make a selection.
"There are good tight ends in the draft. We're going to evaluate them all the same. If somebody's up there for us to pick, if it's a tight end, if it's a receiver… we could use a good player at any position."