The New York Giants 2010 season ended early despite a 10-6 record, and the team's front office is likely well into draft preparation now that the team is locked into the 19th spot of the first round. While the team will no doubt explore all options surrounding the pick whether it be a trade or cutting the list of potential targets for the always vital first round selection, there are several positions that are unlikely to be addressed by the team in the first round – such as quarterback and wide receiver.
While a lot can change after the combine and personal workouts, we will take a look at four potential candidates for that Giants mid-first round selection in April.
The Giants need an impact linebacker – exactly what Keith Bulluck wasn't.
OLB Akeem Ayers – UCLA
A complete, versatile, and instinctive player at the linebacker position, Ayers has the early look of a prime candidate for the New York Giants on the first night of the April draft. Keith Bulluck is not a long-term solution for the Giants, and Clint Sintim has shown the Giants very little to warrant a starting job going forward.
Ayers is an absolute playmaker, with quick feet, good range, and a nose for the football. A fluid athlete with an impressive size-speed combination, Ayers is an asset in coverage. The type of athlete needed at the linebacker position in today's NFL.
OLB Bruce Carter – North Carolina
An ACL injury and an inconsistent senior campaign has put quite a hit on Carter's stock going into the draft process, but there is still a lot of buzz around Carter as a potential first-round prospect, and for good reason. An explosive linebacker with a very strong combination of instincts and athleticism, Carter shows good vision and an ability to consistently shed blockers and get to the ball-carrier.
If Carter is unable to participate in the NFL combine and pro-day workouts (which looks like a real possibility at this point), he could slip well into the second round in April. That said, if he can prove that he's healthy enough to be close to full-strength by the NFL preseason, Carter may find himself in play in the second half of the first round.
OT Nate Solder – Colorado
At 6'9", 315 lbs. and blessed with unbelievable athleticism – it's easy to see why Solder's stock is soaring as we near the NFL combine. Solder shows the quick feet and agility necessary to handle the NFL's increasingly athletic defensive ends, as well as the mobility to get out and erase defenders as a run blocker.
Solder has exceptional work habits and shows the skill set and intangibles to be a pro-bowl NFL tackle.
DT Stephen Paea – Oregon State
With a ridiculous combination of strength and quickness, Stephen Paea has all the physical tools to be a disruptive force in the middle in a 4-3 scheme. The Giants' Barry Cofield is coming off a strong 2010 campaign, and Chris Canty rebounded nicely from a disappointing 2009 season with the Giants, but Paea's excellent lower body strength and his aggressive approach allow him to really be an explosive force against the run, as he's consistently forced opposing offensive lines to double and triple team him.
Adding Paea's skill set and physical ability to an already strong Giants defensive line group could make the unit an absolute nightmare for opposing offenses, and the Giants put a high value on defensive lineman year in and year out in the off-season, continuing to look to build the strongest front four in the NFL.Tags: 2011 NFL Draft, Akeem Ayers, New York, New York Giants, NFL