1. TE O.J. Howard: The Giants are in need of a physically dominant receiver who can run block as well, and that’s just what they’d be getting with Alabama tight-end O.J. Howard. The six foot five inch 251-pound Howard would give Eli Manning a huge target to throw the ball up to, and in a weak free agency class in terms of tight ends, the Giants should definitely pay close attention to what Howard does. He was under-utilized in a run-heavy Alabama offensive, but his route running became crisper during his time there. He’s projected to run a 4.60 40-yard dash at the combine, giving him a rare mix of size and speed that can be seen in some of the NFL’s greatest tight end’s today. As much as I like him, Will Tye is not a long-term solution at tight end, and Howard’s big-play ability and physical style of play at the line of scrimmage make him a player to watch and a good pick for the Giants if he falls to the 23rd pick.
2. RB D'Onta Foreman: I picked Foreman because he might still be available in the first round when the Giants pick at 23, but the Giants should follow any of the top five running backs in this year’s draft class closely. Although they picked Paul Perkins in the fifth round last year and he looks to be the starter from here on out, releasing Rashad Jennings and the fact that Orleans Darkwa and Bobby Rainey are free agents make it almost a necessity for the Giants to draft a running back if those two aren’t resigned. Foreman is six foot one inch and a bulky 249 pounds but is quick on his feet, with a projected 4.55-second 40-yard dash time. He was one of the most productive backs in college football last season for the Texas Longhorns, gaining 6.3 yards per carry on the ground and accumulating 2,028 total yards. Those numbers were a big factor in him winning the Doak Walker Award, given to the best running back in the nation. Foreman isn’t much of a receiver, so drafting him would provide the Giants with a nice compliment to Perkins, who showed last season that he can may receiving plays out of the backfield.
3. OT/G Dion Dawkins: It’s not secret that the Giants had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last season, and I believe that their top priority is to draft multiple offensive linemen to bolster up that unit in time for next season. Although Cam Robinson from Alabama and Ryan Ramcyzk from Wisconsin are better than Dawkins, I can’t see either falling to the Giants in the first or second round. Dawkins, a Temple University product, would a nice choice, as scouts have raved about his athleticism as an indicator that he’ll be a good blocker in the NFL. He runs a projected 5.10 second 40-yard dash and has long arms that make him a nightmare for pass rushers. He’s one of the smaller tackles in the draft at six foot three inches and 317 pounds, but that also allows him to play guard in some scenarios. That versatility to play multiple positions on a team that seems to mix and match guys at various positions over the course of a season could make Dawkins a nice fit for New York. It would serve the Giants well to pay attention to the strength and agility-related drills that Dawkins will participate in during the combine, and if he performs well, I think he would be a nice choice in the second round and would probably fall to the Giants there. That would allow them to draft an O.J. Howard or a future top running back in the first round while still addressing their most glaring need later on with a potential starter.