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Mailbag: Position need vs. best player available

Alec in Florida: Is it more valuable for the Giants to draft an offensive lineman with the #4 pick or a defensive back with the #4 pick?


Andrew in North Carolina: What if Okudah is available for the Giants at 4*th* overall? Is he higher on big boards to lock down the Giants' secondary?

John Schmeelk: I won't cover the offensive line part of this because we have discussed it ad nauseam in past mailbags. Okudah is considered the top cornerback in the class, and most analysts consider him a potential future All Pro. In a league where passing is more and more prevalent, cornerback is considered more and more of a premium position, so investing an early pick in one is understandable.

The Giants, however, moved up to use a first round pick on DeAndre Baker last year, signed James Bradberry to a lucrative free agent contract in March, spent a 2019 third round pick in the supplemental draft on Sam Beal, and used a 2019 sixth round pick on Corey Ballentine. All of those players are talented but were primarily used as outside cornerbacks in college. Ballentine was used as a nickel at the end of last season, but it was the first time he played the position. Okudah is also considered an outside cornerback.

If the front office believes one of those players can move inside, drafting someone like Okudah would make more sense. If they are all outside cornerbacks, however, it might be too crowded a position with a lot of resources already dedicated to it for the Giants to make that move. Okudah is an excellent player, though, and if the team considers him the best player available by leaps and bounds, they will consider selecting him. A team can never have enough good coverage players.

David in Connecticut: Does it make more sense in the first round to draft a player at a need position that might have some question marks, or draft a player with definite skills and ability but plays a position where there is already depth on the roster?

Dave Gettleman has been very clear that if one draft eligible player is significantly better than another that he will select the better player regardless of the pieces already on the roster. If the grades are extremely close, then need enters the equation.

Martha in New Jersey: How much of a role did Tom Coughlin play in the Giants' draft selections?

As it is today, it was a collaborative process between Tom Coughlin and his coaching staff along with the general manager Jerry Reese and his college scouting staff to work together to determine who the team would pick. The ultimate decision, however, went to Reese, who as a former scout, leaned heavily on the opinions of his director of college scouting Marc Ross and the scouts.

Jake in New York: In his interview, Daniel Jeremiah told John Schmeelk how offensive linemen can last 15 years with the same team. So untrue. I would like some suggestions of in the last 30 years. Especially name one Giant offensive lineman with that tenure.

Jake, the truth is that offensive linemen can play at a high level for longer than other positions that rely more on speed and raw athleticism, like linebacker, cornerback or wide receiver. Whether they do it on the same team or with the Giants is irrelevant to the point. It is the team's choice whether to retain them. Jason Peters was still a good player last season at 37 years old. Andrew Whitworth was a first team All-Pro at 36 years old. At 36 years old, Richie Incognito is still playing at a high level at guard. Before he retired, Marshall Yanda was one of the best guards in football at 35 years old. Joe Staley is still playing well at offensive tackle at 35 years old. Alex Mack is still a top center at 34 years old. With players entering the league at 20 or 21 years of age, those are near 15-year careers worth of success. Look at positions other than quarterback, and the players do not maintain their level of play to those advanced ages nearly as often. It was the point Daniel Jeremiah was making, and it is absolutely accurate.

Pat in Texas: Assuming the Giants keep their pick at #4, would it be considered a bad pick if that player was not an All-Pro in three seasons?

All-Pro is a very high threshold because the Giants selection could be excellent but be stuck behind great players with longer track records who are more likely to get All-Pro consideration from voters. Only two players at offensive tackle, for example, are first team All-Pros each season with two more on the second team. If the player the Giants select plays at a very high level and helps the team win, then it will be a success.

John in New York: What are the chances of the Giants trading down and getting an established offensive lineman in exchange so they can pick a pass rusher in round one?

Teams rarely trade high-level offensive linemen because they are so hard to find. In addition, most analysts don't think it is a great draft for pass rushers in the middle of the first round.

Pete in New York: Is it still correct to think that offensive linemen need a few years to get up to speed while a defensive player doesn't?

I don't think that it's fair as a blanket statement anymore. It depends on the specific player, his skills and the environment they were in at the college level. It also depends on the position on the defensive side of the ball. Pass rushers, for example, probably need less of an adjustment than linebackers.

Mark in Texas: Will the Giants' draft board consist of only 75 players on it like NE's normally does? A couple years ago, Nick Caserio stated NE's draft board had only 50 -75 players on it.

Dave Gettleman and his staff build the board with input from Joe Judge and his coaches. I do not know how many names will be on the board, but Gettleman has never indicated it is that short on players.

Derek in New York: The analysts seem very high on Simmons. After watching him every snap in the college championship game, I concluded he avoids a lot of tackles. Am I crazy or has anyone else noticed that?

I think you're a little crazy, Derek. Simmons is fast and is a great space player if he is given room to run to the ball and play sideline to sideline. He comes down hard from the second level on ballcarriers. He isn't as anxious to take on offensive linemen between the tackles, but at 230 pounds, that shouldn't be what he is asked to do in the pros anyway. His willingness to tackle running backs and wide receivers shouldn't be a concern for you.

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