New York Giants Draft: Defense Still in Play for Round 1
Nov 5, 2016; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers defensive end Derek Barnett (9) during the first quarter against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the return of Jason Pierre-Paul, the New York Giants could still draft a defensive player in the first round. 

General manager Jerry Reese is off to another hot start during the NFL‘s most crucial time of the year. However, upgrading the offensive line and adding a pass catching tight end remain two of the team‘s most glaring needs. The NFL draft is only a few months away, so it seems the New York Giants‘ needs are rather obvious.

Christmas in March, better yet known as NFL free agency has dominated headlines across the sports world for the past few days. The Giants wasted no time getting their offseason shopping done, signing former Jet Brandon Marshall and former Viking Rhett Ellison. After previously placing the franchise tag on Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants have addressed most of their offseason laundry list.

It is wise to assume because, ah, you know the old adage.

When comes draft day, the Giants could still be in the mix for a defensive player in the first round. Yes, the offense still needs work, but the long term objective of keeping an elite defense together comes into play along with cap space concerns.

The Giants franchise tagged JPP to keep an elite defensive line together for at least one more year. That unit is vital for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to run his system that involves multiple pass rushers trading positions. However, selecting Pierre-Paul’s heir is a realistic possibility.

A long term extension for JPP hasn’t been ruled out, but keeping him in New York for one more year as opposed to four or five makes sense. He’ll play the 2017 season at age 28, so giving a long term deal to a player with an injury history who is also approaching age 30 may not be the most prudent decision. Drafting a younger, cheaper, defensive end solves multiple problems.

If the Giants were to find Pierre-Paul’s replacement early in the draft, an injection of youth would be welcomed as the rest of the defensive line ages. Additionally, an extension for JPP would mean the Giants pay large, multi-year contracts to three players on one unit which isn’t ideal from a cap space perspective.

Speaking of cap space, the Giants will have to sign Odell Beckham Jr. after the 2017 season and Landon Collins after 2018. Still interested in a long term deal for JPP?

Finding JPP’s heir also might not be too difficult. The upcoming draft class is teeming with talent at the defensive end position which could see five or more ends selected in round one. Even at pick number 23, the New York Giants could have multiple options to address their future defensive line. Names to watch include Tennessee’s Derek Barnett, Michigan’s Taco Charlton and Stanford’s Solomon Thomas, amongst others.

 RELATED: New York Giants 2017 Offensive Line Projections 

In addition to a draft class deep at defensive end, offensive tackle is also rather thin when it comes to first round grades. The Giants may see tackle prospects on the board at 23, but it’s likely that better overall players will be available. If the offensive line is going to be addressed, it could happen on day two as opposed to draft night’s initial round.

Even with JPP, adding depth to the defensive line can’t hurt. Big number 90 has had his fair share of injuries so another top young talent added to an already imposing unit can only give opposing offenses more to game-plan around.

Bolstering the offense is an obvious need, but the long term future of the defense could be in strong consideration when comes draft night.

 NEXT: Four Bold Predictions After the Brandon Marshall Signing 


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