For the first time in three years the Giants will be picking outside the Top 10 of the NFL draft. In fact, they'll be in the bottom half of the first round for the first time since 2013. They're glad to be there, of course, picking 23rd thanks to their 11-5 record.
It just makes it a little more difficult to figure out who they're going to take.
It's early, of course - very early - and a lot can change during free agency. But here's a look at five players the Giants might have their eyes on in the first round of the NFL draft, which takes place on April 27. SNY will be taking a weekly look at this board and charting who is rising and falling throughout the combine and Pro Day season, and as the Giants' potential needs change:
1. TE O.J. Howard, Alabama - He's a dynamic receiver, an incredible athlete, and potentially a big-play weapon that the Giants so desperately need at tight end. At 6-6, 249, he's got exceptional speed and is the big target that Eli Manning has lacked for several seasons. Imagine his presence in the middle of the field drawing attention away from Odell Beckham, and what that could open up for an offense that struggled last year. Some scouts think he needs to get a little stronger to be a decent NFL blocker. The bigger problem for the Giants is that if he puts up good numbers at the combine or at his Pro Day, he might not last this long.
2. OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin - A star left tackle out of the Big Ten is never a bad thing to have, and Ramczyk has the size (6-6, 314) and strength to be a good one in the pros. He only played one season at Wisconsin after transferring from a Division III school, but he started every game and was named to the all-Big Ten team. He also played through a painful hip injury, and he underwent surgery to repair a torn hip labrum in early January. That injury will keep him from doing anything at the combine and his Pro Day, and maybe even his first NFL rookie camp in May. But he's expected to be ready for training camp in July. The Giants obviously need to bolster their offensive line. They could theoretically plug him in at left tackle, allowing them to move Ereck Flowers to the right, and if it works out, they've got book ends for the next few years.
3. OT Garett Bolles, Utah - He might be the most athletic tackle in the draft and he's said to have a bit of a mean streak on the field, which the Giants usually love. He's 6-5, 300 and some scouts think he'd be better off on the right side in the pros after playing only one year at Utah. That only makes sense for the Giants if they plan to leave Flowers at left tackle or move him inside to guard. But they can figure that out later. Adding another big, talented young lineman won't hurt. They can sort out the positions in the summer.
4. DE Taco Charlton, Michigan - He's a tall, freakishly athletic pass rusher who might remind some of Jason Pierre-Paul and could be part of a devastating pass rush rotation on the Giants with JPP and Olivier Vernon. He may shoot up their draft board if JPP ends up signing elsewhere, but considering the Giants' mantra of "You can never have enough pass rushers" they may give him a strong look regardless. He may need to get a little stronger, especially if he's ever asked to rush from the inside. There are some questions about his inconsistent motor. But no one questions his upside, especially after he led the Wolverines with 9 ½ sacks.
5. RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford - The Giants have taken three running backs in the first round in the last 26 drafts, and none of them worked out as they hoped (Tyrone Wheatley in 1995, Ron Dayne in 2000, and David Wilson in 2013). That's not to say they wouldn't do it again, of course, and McCaffrey might be the perfect dual-threat back for Ben McAdoo's offense. He's an explosive runner with great moves and terrific ability as a receiver, and scouts rave about his character. The biggest knock on him is his size (6-foot, 197), and there are worries about the heavy workload he had in college. He might be too similar to Paul Perkins for the Giants' liking. Then again, two weapons like that in their backfield could make for a very dangerous rushing attack.