If the Giants decide to keep the fourth overall pick in the NFL draft, their choice likely comes down to this: Do they take the best defensive player not named Chase Young, or the tackle they believe is the best offensive lineman on the board?
And choosing between Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons and one of Dave Gettleman's beloved Hog Mollies won't be an easy call.
Here's a deeper look at the debate that will likely dominate the Giants' virtual war room on April 23 when they're on the clock...
The case for Simmons
He is, in the words of one scout, a "defensive weapon" -- a linebacker by title, but really an athlete who can line up anywhere on the field. The 6-4, 238-pounder played linebacker, safety, even cornerback at times during his college career. He's got the strength to shed the blocks of tackles and the speed (4.39 in the 40) to keep up with receivers downfield.
Simmons would instantly be the Giants' best defensive player, even though he's not really the dynamic pass-rusher that they need the most. That wouldn't matter because of all the other things he could do. His sideline-to-sideline speed will be great for the run defense. His coverage skills will help, especially against tight ends. And new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham could spend years experimenting with creative ways to deploy him.
The Giants have had a bad defense for several years. Simmons finally would give them a player opposing offensive coordinators would have to account for at all times.
The case for an offensive tackle
While a defense can sometimes be fixed by a good defensive coordinator and a creative scheme, there's a universal truism about offenses: An offense can't operate if the quarterback is on his back. And with the Giants, their quarterbacks have spent a lot of time either running away from trouble or laying on the ground.
Gettleman vowed to fix that on his first day as GM back in December of 2017, and he hasn't done a good job keeping that promise. He's added some nice pieces, but somehow he's never drafted the young, stud tackle that can anchor his line for years. This is his chance.
There are four good ones at the top of the draft, including one -- Iowa's Tristan Wirfs -- that sources say he loves. The others are good and possible choices too, including Alabama's pro-ready Jedrick Wills and Louisville's massive Mekhi Becton. The Giants could even trade down and still get a good one.
They have a good, young quarterback in Daniel Jones, lot of offensive weapons and an all-pro-caliber running back in Saquon Barkley. They should be able to score plenty of points. But until they can keep Jones upright and open holes for Barkley, their offense is not going to work and they're not going to win many games.
Which fills a bigger need?
As bad as the defense has been, tackle is by far the bigger need. The offensive line has been awful, especially at tackle, and it's a good bet that neither LT Nate Solder or RT Cam Fleming will still be with the Giants in 2021. They need young tackles for the present and the future. Gettleman knew it two years ago and it's even more true now.
On defense, at least, he's fortified the unit through the draft and free agency. He signed a top corner (James Bradberry) and two starting linebackers (Blake Martinez, Kyler Fackrell) this year, he traded for a young safety (Jabrill Peppers) last year, and in his first two drafts he's added five or maybe six players who could start this season. It remains to be seen how that all pans out, but he's made a commitment to fixing that side of the ball much more so than he has the offensive line.
Second-round implications are a big thing in Simmons' favor
If the Giants pass on him in the first round, there's no equivalent waiting for them in the second round. Maybe they get lucky and an edge rusher like Wisconsin LB Zack Baun is waiting for them at 36, or even an impact safety like Alabama's Xavier McKinney. But Simmons is just special. He could be that "gold jacket" player Gettleman likes in the Top 5 and none of the second-round options come close.
It's a little different with the offensive line. If they miss out on the Big Four tackles, maybe -- maybe -- someone like Boise State's rising tackle Ezra Cleveland will still be on the board in Round 2. Or more likely one of the top centers like Michigan's Cesar Ruiz or LSU's Lloyd Cushenberry could be there. Honestly, the Giants might go the center route in Round 2 even if they take a tackle in Round 1. But the point is there will still be decent offensive line options there in the second.
Which way will the Giants go?
It is by no means a lock this early in the process, but the consensus of sources who spoke to SNY is that the Giants will take a tackle at No. 4, and quite possibly take another offensive lineman -- likely a center -- in Round 2.
"They loaded up on defense last year and in free agency," said one NFL personnel executive. "(Gettleman) knows he has to fix that line now, otherwise he's going to waste Barkley's best years and delay Jones' growth."
The counter to that is if Gettleman really is looking for a "gold jacket" player at 4, "That's Simmons," one scout said. "If you're looking for greatness, he's got it. The linemen don't."
But no matter how many times NFL GMs say "best player available" the truth of drafting is that need always matters. And Gettleman needs linemen to get his offense going. His job may be on the line this year, and he can't endure another season of watching his quarterback and running back take the pounding they did the last two years.