With the 2013 NFL Draft just mere hours away, the New York Giants are on the precipice of building upon a core of young talent that has already contributed to the improbable acquisition of a Lombardi Trophy. Although the team has needs along the offensive line, at linebacker and in the secondary, the mantra "You can never have too many pass rushers" has never proven more accurate in today's pass happy, high-octane NFL.
With that in mind, two-time Pro Bowler Jason Pierre-Paul says that, despite the team's depth on the defensive line, it's not out of the question that general manager Jerry Reese selects a pass rusher in the first-round of tonight's draft.
"They took me," Pierre-Paul said. "We didn't need me, either. So, I don't know. Maybe or maybe not. Basically, whoever comes on the Giants tomorrow or whoever we pick, we're going to be looking for them to step up very quickly and get on that field."
Reese's philosophy of selecting the best player available makes predicting who the Giants will draft an entertaining, yet futile practice. Given the volatility and lack of star power at the top of this year's draft, it's impossible to know how the board will look by the time the Giants are on the clock with the 19th selection. If the right pass rusher falls to the Giants, the team will surely look to continue its long-standing tradition of selecting dominant defensive ends in the early rounds.
With Osi Umenyiora, whose 73.5 sacks rank fourth in the history of the franchise, now a member of the Atlanta Falcons, the Giants have a void to fill at the third defensive end position. The logical scenario is that Mathias Kiwanuka moves from strong-side linebacker to full-time duties on the defensive line. However, moving Kiwanuka back to his natural position is not a permanent solution. In 2014, a 31-year old Justin Tuck will hit free agency, and could potentially sign elsewhere. If the Giants do not add young talent at defensive end now, the team could be left with a marginally talented pass rushing ability in future seasons.
"That first game, it's going to be a problem," Pierre-Paul said. "All they have to do is come in and do what coach asks them to do, and it'll be alright.
Throughout the offseason, the Giants have acquired depth at a variety of positions that will allow the team to bring its draft picks along slowly and develop each individual player to meet his full potential. In 2012, running back was not high on the list of team needs, but Reese selected David Wilson anyway, in anticipation that Ahmad Bradshaw's days of productivity were numbered. This year, with an aging and declining Tuck in the final year of his contract, Reese may be inclined to bring on another edge-rusher who can get to the quarterback.
The Giants have a variety of needs to fill in this draft, and there are no guarantees that the team has an opportunity to acquire an impact pass rusher in the early rounds. Regardless, Pierre-Paul says that he will welcome any player that improves the Giants' chances of making it back to the playoffs in 2013.
"Whoever is going to come in here and make us win another championship, or get us to the playoffs, I'll take anybody," Pierre-Paul said. "That's it. It doesn't matter who it is. As long as they are going to step up to the plate and get us to the playoffs, I'm good with that."
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