EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Jerry Reese is so committed to his NFL Draft plan he repeated it – with slight variations – six times last week at his pre-draft news conference.
"We are just going to pick the best player out there," the Giants' general manager said.
Well, that settles it. When the three-day draft begins with the first round tomorrow night, the Giants will select the player they believe will become the finest pro. Not much ambiguity there.
Of course, Reese's response is just the tiniest of clues in a mystery that won't be solved until the Giants actually start selecting players. It is a franchise tradition to reveal virtually nothing about how it rates draft-eligible players and what it has identified as its most pressing needs. So Reese's meeting with reporters typically provided scant details.
But Reese might have had difficulty revealing more even if he had chosen to. The near-universal opinion is that this draft is tough to gauge, because of a lack of marquee skill players at the top and the perception that the players from perhaps 10-50 are very closely graded. It's possible a player can be ranked completely differently by 10 different teams.
"I think it is a good draft," Reese said. "I think there are a lot of good players in the draft at every position. I don't see one position that is stronger than the other."
The Giants currently own the 19th selection in each of the draft's seven rounds, plus a compensatory choice that is the 47th in the seventh round and 253rd – next to last – overall.
This is the second time in three years the Giants will select the 19th player in the draft (barring a trade). In 2011, they chose cornerback Prince Amukamara. Running back George Adams (1985), defensive end Eric Dorsey (1986) and tackle Luke Petitgout (1999) were also the 19th overall selections of their respective drafts.
Last year, the Giants owned the 32nd and last selection in the first round after winning Super Bowl XLVI and chose running back David Wilson of Virginia Tech.
"We don't like picking 19," Reese said. "That is early for us. We hate picking this high. But hopefully we can get a player who can come in - I always say this - your first three picks, you want those guys to come in and contribute for you right away. Hopefully you will get a couple of starters out of them. So hopefully we will get a good player at 19. I think we will."
In 2012, Wilson had 1,925 total yards (including a team-record 1,533 on kickoff returns), the second-highest total among NFL rookies (Tampa Bay's Doug Martin, chosen one spot ahead of Wilson, had 1,926). Rueben Randle, the wide receiver taken in the second round, played in every game, caught 19 passes and scored two touchdowns in the season-ending victory over Philadelphia. Cornerback Jayron Hosley, selected in the third round, played in 12 games with six starts and had 37 tackles (22 solo) and an interception.
"The day and age of bringing your draft picks in – and just sitting (them) for a year or two – I think those days are dwindling away," Reese said. "I think you have to bring them in and get those guys ready to play. You like to develop guys. And, quite frankly, guys are really not ready to come in, but sometimes you have to force them in there. And you see a lot of teams playing a lot of young players. We have played young players in the past. In the past, people have said you bring in the young players as developmental. And we like to develop players. But nowadays you really have to get them ready to go pretty quickly."
The Giants have had an active offseason. They signed eight free agents who played with other teams in 2012: kicker Josh Brown (Cincinnati), linebacker Dan Connor (Dallas), defensive tackles Cullen Jenkins (Philadelphia) and Mike Patterson (Philadelphia), tight end Brandon Myers (Oakland), safety Ryan Mundy (Pittsburgh), cornerback Aaron Ross (Jacksonville and a Giant from 2007-2011) and Louis Murphy (Carolina). The Giants also re-signed tackle Will Beatty, guard Kevin Boothe, defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, linebacker Keith Rivers, quarterback David Carr, tight end Bear Pascoe and running backs Andre Brown and Ryan Torain.
Members of the 2012 team who are no longer on the roster include Ahmad Bradshaw, Chris Canty, Michael Boley, Osi Umenyiora, Kenny Phillips, Martellus Bennett, Chase Blackburn, Rocky Bernard and Lawrence Tynes.
"If we didn't sign anybody, we would still go into the draft trying to pick the best player available," Reese said. "And in the offseason we lost a tight end (Bennett), so we went out and tried to get a tight end (Myers). So we do try to fill some holes with free agency when you can. But in the draft we try to pick the best player available."
Reese was equally vague regarding the positions the Giants are most interested in upgrading. Asked specifically about linebacker, Reese said, "Linebacker - is it an area of need? We need linebackers, we need D-line, we need the offensive line and we need every position. We are trying to get as many players at every position that we can. And that includes linebacker as well."
Four current starters on the offensive line will be at least 30 years old when the season begins.
"You always want to get younger in your offensive line – at every position," Reese said. "You like young players on your team; it is a young man's game. The offensive line is getting up there in age, but (left tackle) Will Beatty is a young player, (as is) James Brewer, who we expect to come on and contribute this year. And obviously we drafted a couple of young kids last year (Brandon Mosley and Matt McCants) that we are trying to develop and hopefully they can give us some depth in our offensive line. The draft has some players."
And Reese knows exactly what he's looking for.
"I feel like a broken record up here - you guys come in here and I say the same thing every year," he said. "We go into the draft - we really do - looking for the best player. And that is what is important to us is to try to pick the best player. Then after the draft is over, after we look at all of the free agent stuff, we try to fill in after the draft. There is a lot of time before we go into the season. So many people are cut from teams. We cut down to the 53-man rosters. Our team may not be ready to go until the week before we open up and play."
The following are the Giants' selections in the 2013 NFL Draft: