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Giants Draft: Who Might Be Available at No. 10? (Part 1)

The Giants may have made a coaching change and spent big on the free agent market, but the Big Blue front office is not done yet.

In just two days, the Giants and all 31 other NFL teams will head to Chicago for the 2016 NFL Draft. Each team will look to both build its future as well as fill holes it didn’t in free agency.

The Giants are always one of the most interesting teams to watch on Draft Day, as they tend not to draft specifically based on what the current roster needs. Instead, their focus is on selecting the best player available.

As such, the Giants have been linked to a number of different players at a number of different positions ahead of Thursday’s first round, so who exactly the Giants are targeting may remain a mystery until they are on the clock. Here are a few of the candidates the Giants may consider when they select tenth overall on Thursday.

UCLA LB Myles Jack

Jack is the biggest question mark at the top of this draft, but has been frequently mocked to the Giants over the past several weeks.

There’s no questioning Jack’s accomplishments at the collegiate level. He is a two-time Second Team All-Pac-12 player, and received Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors after his breakout 2013 season. That season, Jack played in all 13 games for the Bruins, and totaled 76 tackles (seven for a loss), a sack, and two interceptions.

Jack also demonstrated his pure athleticism when he received snaps on offense for UCLA. Jack played at running back for the last five games of his 2013 freshman season, and amassed 267 yards on 38 carries (7.0 YPC) and seven touchdowns. In addition to his Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors, he was also named the conference’s top offensive freshman.

UCLA LB Myles Jack (USA Today).

UCLA LB Myles Jack (USA Today).

While his offensive snaps were scaled back as a sophomore in 2014, Jack continued to dominate on defense, making 87 tackles (eight for a loss) in 13 games.

The reason Jack’s draft status is enigmatic is because of his unfortunate 2015 season, which came to a sudden end after just three games when he tore his meniscus in a non-contact drill. Jack opted to leave UCLA to focus on rehabbing his knee and preparing for the 2016 draft.

While Jack’s knee is now reportedly fine, many teams seemed concerned that this type of injury could shorten his career if aggravated, being described as a ticking time bomb.

For what it’s worth, Peter King reports that the Giants are “okay” with Jack’s knee. If his knee is indeed not a concern, Jack makes a lot of sense for a Giants team in need of a game-changing linebacker.

Once considered a top-five prospect in this draft, Jack with the tenth overall pick could turn out to be the steal of the draft if he is healthy and as effective as he was at UCLA.

Notre Dame OT Ronnie Stanley

At this time last year, the Giants had hopes of pairing veteran LT Will Beatty with 2015 first-round rookie Ereck Flowers manning the right side. But a pectoral injury in OTAs knocked Beatty out for the 2015 season, and he was released a few months ago.

Now the Giants are left with Flowers at left tackle, and veteran stopgap Marshall Newhouse on the right. Flowers struggled when thrown into the fire on the blind side last season, and Newhouse is not a long-term answer.

The Giants could use some help on the line, and Stanley represents the best lineman who might be available with that tenth pick.

Notre Dame OT Ronnie Stanley (USA Today).

Notre Dame OT Ronnie Stanley (USA Today).

Stanley excelled both on the left and right for the Fighting Irish, and a strong pre-draft season has him flying up draft boards.

Unfortunately, that could take Stanley, who was once thought to be a strong bet to be available at 10, away from the Giants. A few reports have suggested many teams have Stanley ahead of Ole Miss LT Laremy Tunsil, once believed to be a lock for the top overall pick. Some have even said the Chargers could pull the trigger on Stanley at No. 3.

It remains to be seen just how high Stanley will go on Thursday, but it’s not crazy to think he (or even Tunsil) could drop to No. 10.

Michigan State OT Jack Conklin

While Conklin might not be at the level of Stanley and Tunsil, the former Michigan State Spartan would be farm a consolation prize if the Giants are looking for an offensive lineman and the top two are off the board.

Conklin, who started 38 of 39 games at MSU, seems to be a better bet at being available for the Giants, as many draftniks have him as an early-to-mid first-round pick.

Michigan State OT Jack Conklin (

Michigan State OT Jack Conklin (

At 6-6, 308 pounds, Conklin has the size to be effective at the next level, and also has experience playing both left and right tackle. While the Giants seem ready to keep Flowers at left tackle in 2016, Conklin has the arm length, athleticism and speed to man the blind side, and could conceivably see time there down the line or if Flowers continues to struggle.

While the Giants likely have their sights set on Stanley, if we are to believe recent reports, it looks like he’ll be long gone by the time the Giants are on the clock. While Tunsil might not end up being the top-five pick he seemed destined to be, it’s hard to imagine slipping to ten, too. If the Giants go o-line on Thursday night, Conklin might be the most likely candidate.

Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott

Just about anyone would tell you Elliott is the top running back in this draft, and taking a look at his Ohio State career, it’s easy to see why.

As the backup to Carlos Hyde in 2013, Elliott still turned heads with 262 yards on just 30 carries, averaging nearly nine yards per rush. Elliott’s career really took off when he took over as the starter in 2014, rushing for 1,878 yards and 18 touchdowns, including 246 yards and four touchdowns in the Buckeyes’ national championship game win over Oregon.

Elliott didn’t slow down last season, totaling 1,821 yards and 23 touchdowns in 13 games. Not surprisingly, Elliott decided to forego his senior season at Ohio State and enter the draft.

Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott (Getty Images).

Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott (Getty Images).

Elliott’s excellence extends beyond the box score. At 6-0, 225 pounds, he is a deadly speedster who also excels as a blocker and can power past opponents with his speed, agility, and strength.

While running back may not be the Giants’, who still have Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen, most pressing need right now, it’s hard to imagine Elliott not being the “best player available” if he’s available with the tenth overall pick.

As expected, the Giants are not the only team interested in Elliott, as he has also been linked to the Cowboys, who pick fourth. And Dallas would likely have the first crack at Elliott, with the Rams and Eagles almost certain to take quarterbacks with the top two picks, and the Chargers unlikely to go for a running back after using a first-round pick on Melvin Gordon last year.

With Ohio State DE Joey Bosa and Florida State CB Jalen Ramsey also in play for the Cowboys, it’s very possible Elliott could get past them and slide to the Giants at 10. But the Bears (No. 11) and Dolphins (No. 13) have been linked to Elliott too, and could be threats to trade up to select him, so Big Blue might have to get aggressive if they’re interested in drafting Elliott.

Be sure to come back tomorrow for Part 2 of my look at the Giants’ first-round draft targets.

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