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Fact or Fiction: Draft predictions from the combine

FACT-OR-FICTION

The Giants.com crew is presented with four statements and must decide whether they are Fact or Fiction.

The Giants should split their two first-round picks between offense and defense

John Schmeelk: Fiction - The Giants should not commit to doing anything with their first two picks other than picking the players who bring the most value to their team. If they are two offensive players or even two defensive players, that's fine. Some fans might be very unhappy if one of the first two picks isn't an offensive linemen, but the team shouldn't pick the 20th player on their board just because that guy is an offensive lineman and they pass on their fifth-highest graded player. A good offensive tackle can be found in the second round and good interior offensive linemen on Day 3.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – General manager Joe Schoen said this week he will able to sleep well the night before the draft if he has seven players that he likes, knowing at least two will be available for the Giants with the fifth and seventh overall selections. It doesn't matter if their either, neither or both are on one side of the ball. The Giants have plenty of holes to fill on both sides.

Lance Medow: Fiction - This type of thinking is how you get in a situation where you focus more on need and take a player for that sole reason as opposed to finding two of the most impactful players at your slots, regardless of the position. What if the Giants feel really good about a pair of offensive linemen? They should pass that up simply to address both areas of the ball even though the two offensive players may have more upside? The player's position should serve as a tiebreaker when you have two prospects of equal value, but the guiding forces should be more of who can get on the field, make an immediate impact and potentially warrant a second contract.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Let's preface by saying if Ikem Ekwonu or Evan Neal are still available at No. 5, the Giants should sprint to the podium to make the pick. But as of now, it appears as if both of the top tackles could be gone by the time the Giants are on the clock. According to NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah, there is a pretty significant drop-off at the tackle position after Ekwonu and Neal. The Giants could address other positions of need such as edge defender, linebacker or even cornerback in the first round. If Ekwonu, Neal and Aidan Hutchinson are three of the first four picks, that means some combination of Kayvon Thibodeaux, Kyle Hamilton, Sauce Gardner, Derek Stingley Jr., Devin Lloyd and Nakobe Dean will be available for the Giants with their first two picks, along with the rest of the top edge rushers. The Giants can then address the O-line after Day 1 with guys such as Bernhard Raimann, Zion Johnson, Max Mitchell, Luke Goedeke and Luke Fortner while fortifying their defense in Round 1.

The Giants will draft a tight end and a running back this year

John Schmeelk: Fact - Both positions are needs given the number of players under contract on those units and the fact that Saquon Barkley is entering the final year of his contract. You may also find a good player at these positions late on Day 2 or early on Day 3 in this class. Fourth round seems to be the sweet spot for this deep tight end group and the third might be a spot where the Giants can snag a Top 5 running back in the class.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Two-time Pro Bowl TE Kyle Rudolph was among the team's early salary cap moves. The Giants have two other tight ends – Evan Engram and Levine Toilolo – set to become unrestricted free agents on March 16. The Giants also parted ways with veteran running back Devontae Booker. So, given the holes on the roster and the Giants' volume of draft picks, there's a good chance they address these positions in the draft.

Lance Medow: Fact - A lot can change based on what happens in free agency but, as it stands, it's not a stretch to say they'll address both of those positions through the draft. The release of Devontae Booker leaves the running backs room thin. Ditto for Kyle Rudolph;s departure and the tight ends room. Given their current salary cap constraints, addressing both of these positions with players on rookie contracts would make sense.

Matt Citak: Fact – All you have to do is look at the Giants' current roster and the Bills' recent draft history to figure this one out. Saquon Barkley, Gary Brightwell and Antonio Williams (reserve/future) are the only running backs under contract, while Chris Myarick, Kaden Smith and Jake Hausmann (reserve/future) are the only tight ends. While Joe Schoen was in Buffalo, the Bills used third-round picks on TE Dawson Knox (2019), RB Devin Singletary (2019) and RB Zack Moss (2020). Look for Schoen to use similar draft capital on the two positions in this year's draft, along with signing a veteran free agent or two.

View photos from the Giants' suite in Indianapolis, where the team is gathered to evaluate the top draft prospects.

The Giants are more likely to trade for additional draft picks given their salary cap situation

John Schmeelk: Fact - There are five ways to clear salary cap space: contract renegotiations, pay cuts, contract extensions, outright releases, and trades. In order to get under the salary cap, the Giants will probably have to move on from a player that will be valued by another team around the league to the point that they would be willing to trade a draft pick to acquire them. They should be able to use those good players with larger contracts to not only clear cap space, but also to acquire additional draft picks.

Dan Salomone: Fact – On Tuesday, Joe Schoen said he is "open for business" - take this to mean trading player for players, players for picks, picks for players, you name it. "We're in a situation where, unfortunately, we have to get under the salary cap and we're not in very good salary cap health," he said Tuesday at the combine. "I'm not going to say yes to every deal, but I'm definitely going to listen and I'll be open to the situations that are best for the New York Giants."

Lance Medow: Fact - Right now, the Giants have nine picks in the upcoming draft, which is a nice volume when you don't have much salary cap flexibility. It's certainly possible they could add more through trades, but you also have to take into consideration that it's unlikely 10 or 11 picks would make the final 53-man roster because of the numbers game. You would think if they make a trade or two to acquire more selections, the picks would be for 2023.

Matt Citak: Fact – The Giants have already begun to shed salary with the releases of Booker and Rudolph, and Schoen has not made it a secret that there are more to come. The team needs to create cap space, and Schoen could decide to trade some veteran players to reach his goal. There are a few pricey players on the roster who could fetch some solid draft capital in the middle rounds of this year's draft. You wouldn't expect any trades that end with the Giants acquiring another first- or even a second-round pick, but they will go into the draft with more than nine picks.

Fortifying the offensive line is the primary focus for the Giants heading into the draft and free agency

John Schmeelk: Fact - The Giants might only have one returning starting offensive lineman from last season - Andrew Thomas. They need to fill four spots with players who are not liabilities and can be capable starters. It doesn't have to come in the first round, but players must be added in free agency and the draft to fill out the line and give Daniel Jones a chance to succeed.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – On a micro level, that may be the case. But on a macro level, it's about getting the salary cap under control. Schoen knew that was the biggest challenge when he took over, and that has been the underlying focus throughout his decision-making process. "Back to my introductory press conference, we want to be able to be competitive today and also build for tomorrow," he said this week. "I think if we're able to do this the right way, I think there's a real possibility that we're going to be able to do that." His primary focus is also the biggest challenge.

Lance Medow: Fact - Most of the top offenses in the NFL in 2021 were a product of consistent and reliable play in the trenches. You can have all the talent in the world on the offensive side of the ball but their production will be limited if your house isn't in order up front. Putting production aside, from a contractual standpoint, the Giants need to address the offensive line. Three of their 2021 starters (Nate Solder, Will Hernandez and Billy Price) are free agents and Matt Peart's status for the upcoming season is up in the air due to a torn ACL he suffered in Week 16.

Matt Citak: Fact – This one is easy. The O-line has been the Giants' biggest area of concern for several years, and as the roster currently stands, it remains the top priority. Of last year's linemen who started 13 or more games, Andrew Thomas is the only player returning. Although the team hopes Nick Gates and Shane Lemieux return, both players suffered year-ending injuries at the beginning of the season and are not guaranteed to come back ready for the start of this season. The Giants barely have any more linemen even on the roster outside of those three players. The 2022 season is a crucial one for quarterback Daniel Jones, and the best chance he has of succeeding is with solid protection in front of him.

NFL.com updated its rankings of the top 101 players set to become free agents on March 16.

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