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O.J. Howard, No. 88 (John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

O.J. Howard, No. 88 (John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

The NFL Draft is less than a week away, and the New York Giants are in a very peculiar position at the No. 23 spot in the first round.

The Giants surprised many last season, finishing with a 11-5 record and clinching a Wild Card spot in the playoffs. This offseason, the Giants bolstered up their offense with the additions of Brandon Marshall, Rhett Ellison, and D.J. Fluker. That leaves one question, what approach should the Giants take in the first round of the NFL Draft?

If the Giants want to solidify their “win now” status, they must make a splash in the first round. With the receiving corps of Odell Beckham Jr, Marshall, and Sterling Shepard, that combination is deadly enough. What the Giants have been missing for the past few seasons is a dangerous tight end. If I’m the Giants, I would trade up the draft board and take this year’s top tight end, University of Alabama’s O.J. Howard.

Called the most complete tight end in this year’s draft class, Howard has drawn comparisons to Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron. Howard is being deemed a gifted athlete, showing great acceleration on routes, as well as having exceptionally large arms (33 ¾” inches) and hands (10” inches) for a tight end. Did I forget to mention that the six-foot-six, 251 lbs. tight end  ran a 4.51 in the 40 yard dash? I know, that’s insanity.

One of the main concerns regarding Howard was that he didn’t have the huge season-long stats as compared to other tight ends. However, many scouts and analysts attribute it to Alabama’s coaching scheme. Here is what an NFC general manager had to say about Howard:

“Alabama recruited a shiny toy but (Lane) Kiffin never really knew what to do with it,” said the anonymous NFC general manager. “I don’t worry about the talent at all. He could be an all-pro. I just need to know if he loves football.”

Let’s look past that criticism and look at Howard’s performance in big time games. Howard has competed in the past two National Championship games. Look at the stat lines:

2015: 5 Receptions, 208 Yards (Long of 63 Yards), 2 TD.

2016: 4 Receptions, 106 Yards (Long of 68 Yards), 1 TD.

Just from looking at those numbers, in championship games, no less, Howards has that clutch gene in big game situations. That is something that offensive guru Ben McAdoo would love to add to his arsenal.

 I know what you’re thinking, “The Giants signed Rhett Ellison. Where’s the room for Howard?” Well, Ellison is slotted to play at both the tight end and fullback positions next season, due to his specialty in blocking. Also, the Giants have Will Tye, who has done a decent job at the position, but lacks that explosiveness on the offense. Howard can be the threat up the middle and deep down the field, giving quarterback Eli Manning yet another weapon to throw to.

The Giants have taken the “win now” approach when it comes to signing free agents this offseason. The Giants have maintained ten of the 11 stalwarts on the defensive side of the ball. The Giants one weakness last year was offense. With Beckham, Marshall, and Shepard already a terrifying trio of receivers heading into next season, the Giants need to bolster up the offense and the best way to do that is by drafting O.J. Howard. Adding Howard can spell trouble for the rest of the NFC East, as well as the entire NFL.

In order to make that big splash in the draft, Giants general manager Jerry Reese, often complacent in NFL Drafts, should find somehow, someway to trade up to secure one of the top tight end recruits in recent memory.

Have any thoughts on trading up for O.J. Howard? Let me know on Twitter @ScottRogust.

The Giants schedule is out so you can already purchase tickets for this season. The home opener against the Detroit Lions is the most expensive game for NY Giants tickets, with an average price o $354 and a get-in at $106, according to Razorgator.com.

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