*STATEMENT: The Giants will address the defense more in the 2012 draft.
*EISEN: Fiction - That would seem to make sense, given that the Giants were ranked 27th in the NFL in defense and eight in offense in 2011. But if we assume that Eli Manning will remain at the top of his game for six, seven or eight more years, the Giants will surely want to make the most of them. And that means surrounding him with as many weapons as possible. The Giants won't reach for an offensive player, but if it's a close call between two potential draftees, the one who runs with or catches the football could get the edge. And don't forget that by getting back a healthy Prince Amukamara and Marvin Austin, the Giants have two defensive standouts from the 2011 draft who will essentially be newcomers.
SCHMEELK: Fiction - Based on their rankings last season, the Giants certainly need help on the defensive end. They finished ranked 27th in the league in yards allowed and 25th in point allowed. The defense turned things around in the postseason, however, and I think the playoff performance is a more accurate reflection of the talent on the roster. The team also gets Terrell Thomas back, and should have a healthier Justin Tuck for most of the season. The biggest loss on defense was Aaron Ross. The team's first and second round picks last year came on defense in Prince Amukamara and Marvin Austin, who should contribute this season. Greg Jones, Mark Herzlich and Spencer Paysinger are three young linebackers the team has high hopes for. On offense the team lost their starting right tackle, third wide receiver and second running back. None of those needs were addressed in free agency. Tight end is also an issue, though the signing of Martellus Bennett mitigates that a little bit. I think the draft will be balanced, but will lean towards offense a little bit.
SALOMONE: Fiction - I went back and forth on this one. I was about to let history be the tiebreaker – which told me that under Jerry Reese as general manager since 2007, the Giants have drafted 23-16 in favor of defense/special teams over offense – but then I went with logic. Reese and company have leaned offensively in the draft just once (2009 when they selected six offensive players), and I think we could be seeing the second one this weekend. They shored up the defense via free agency this year and know they have the talent on that side of the ball. It was just a matter of them being on the field in the 2011 regular season. Eli Manning said recently he's entering the best part of career, so why not give him some more pieces and see where the organization can go.
*STATEMENT: More than three undrafted free agents will make the Giants 53-man roster in 2012.
*EISEN:Fiction - I would probably say yes in a normal year. But more than three seems like a lot for a championship team that traditionally drafts wells and has so many talented second-year players. I can see one or two, but three seems like a stretch in 2012.
SCHMEELK: Fact - This tends to happen every season, and I think it will again. The Giants do a great job of targeting players after the draft is over that fits their needs and culture. They will do the same this year and I don't think four is an unrealistic number for guys that will make the final roster cut.
SALOMONE: Fiction - Since there were so many last year and how strong this group of sophomores can be, I don't see it happening. And guys like Marvin Austin, Prince Amukamara and Da'Rel Scott – to name a few – are going to be garnering a lot of reps. I'm not saying there won't be any undrafted free agents, but more than three would be too much.
*STATEMENT: The Giants place extra emphasis on character and on field performance when evaluating a college player.
*EISEN:Fact - I don't know about extra emphasis, but the Giants are not going to draft players with serious character questions. And they thoroughly investigate the background of every player. As for on-field performance, it's probably the number one factor in rating a player. A player's performance in game action is more important than how fast he runs the 40-yard dash or how many times he can bench press 225 pounds.
SCHMEELK: Fiction - The Giants, like all NFL teams, take all factors into consideration when evaluating players. Off the field issues haven't stopped the Giants from selecting players in the past that might have had some off the field concerns (Ahmad Bradshaw, Mario Manningham) if their value dictates they are the best player on the board. They determine whether those players will be able to fit in with the way Tom Coughlin runs his system and the franchise goes about its business. Guys can change, and in the draft interview process the Giants need to determine whether past mistakes were blips on the radar, or the tip of a bigger issue that could affect the player's NFL career. In the past, they've done a great job of striking just the right balance.
SALOMONE: Fact - It doesn't trump what a potential pick has shown on tape, but it's definitely taken into consideration. Why else would there be interviews? Aside from glaring character problems, it's all about finding the right fit and whether or not this potential player will buy into the system.
*STATEMENT: The Medical Department plays a big role in the NFL Draft.
*EISEN:Fact - The medical department plays a vital role in the draft. It has detailed medical records of every draft-eligible player and assigns each of them a medical grade. Few players have spotless medical charts, but those with only minor or easily-correctable problems won't be downgraded. A team with serious physical issue will drop like a stone on some teams' draft boards.
SCHMEELK: Fact - Ronnie Barnes and the rest of the Giants medical staff has a big part in the draft process. A player might be talented and a great player, but if an injury has serious long term health consequences, that player's value can change. Injuries play such a large role in the NFL, and the Giants health in the playoffs last year was a big reason they were able to make the run that they did. In the Super Bowl there wasn't one scratch due to injury with the pregame inactives. If a player has a chronic injury his future can be seriously hampered. The Giants needs their medical staff to identify these guys and raise all the appropriate red flags so Jerry Reese can make an informed opinion on every player on the board.
SALOMONE: Fact - On every team in every sport, it should. And does. The draft is an investment and doesn't necessarily yield immediate returns. So you have to think long-term, and the first thing that can bring the investment down is an injury. So detailed reports from the medical staff play a major role in whether or not to invest in a certain player.