The Giants start to transition to a younger offensive line with Anthony Castonzo out of Boston College. This selection should start to bring them back to the dominant lines they've had in previous years, and around which they built their offense. The passing game is fine, now they'll be improving the run game. The Giants are a well-built and balanced team that has had late-season collapses over the last two seasons, though, and a few better players won't fix that problem.
Today we finally get to the Buccaneers. We all know their most pressing need lies at defensive end, and the way this mock draft has played out there are a couple players the Bucs could draft here. Aldon Smith, Justin Houston and Akeem Ayers would all fit the Bucs' needs for pass rushers and are all likely targets. But that's not their only need, and they could add to the offensive line as well with Davin Joseph a free agent and James Lee a serviceable RT but nothing more. Linebacker is a need as well, as Quincy Black and Barrett Ruud are likely to leave the Buccaneers. With Aqib Talib's legal troubles cornerback has come to the foreground as well, although drafting a talented cornerback with character concerns in Jimmy Smith to replace a talented cornerback with character concerns in Aqib Talib may not be the best course of action.
So, who do you think the Bucs will pick?
The draft so far:
1. Carolina Panthers - QB Cam Newton
2. Denver Broncos - DT Marcell Dareus
3. Buffalo Bills - DE Von Miller
4. Cincinnati Bengals - WR A.J. Green
5. Arizona Cardinals - QB Blaine Gabbert
6. Cleveland Browns - CB Patrick Peterson
7. San Francisco 49ers - CB Prince Amukamara
8. Tennessee Titans - DT Nick Fairley
9. Dallas Cowboys - OT Tyron Smith
10. Washington Redskins - WR Julio Jones
11. Houston Texans - DE Robert Quinn
12. Minnesota Vikings - QB Ryan Mallett
13. Detroit Lions - DE Da'Quan Bowers
14. St. Louis Rams - DT Corey Liuget
15. Miami Dolphins - RB Mark Ingram
16. Jacksonville Jaguars - DE Ryan Kerrigan
17. New England Patriots - DE J.J. Watt
18. San Diego Chargers - DE Cameron Jordan
19. New York Giants - OT Anthony Castonzo
QB Jake Locker, Washington: A supremely talented quarterback with some really bad accuracy issues. Jake Locker was hyped badly coming into this year with the expectation that he'd get much better, but that improvement never occurred. Instead, he remained inaccurate and inconsistent. But Locker really reminds me of Josh Freeman - both were inaccurate coming out of college, they weren't big winners, they had trouble reading defenses, but they also had supreme talent at the quarterback position, a great work ethic and good leadership skills.
QB Christian Ponder, Florida State: Christian Ponder is an interesting prospect. He's had a decent career at Florida State, but his senior season was marred by injury leading to some concerns about his arm strengths that are, in my view, unjustified. Ponder is an accurate, smart quarterback who has a lot of attributes of an NFL passer. Honestly, I think this is the most consistent quarterback in the draft whose biggest question mark is whether his injuries have sapped some physical skills.
DE Aldon Smith, Missouri: A defensive end with tons of potential. Smith has a lanky frame and huge arms, and looks like the kind of pass rusher the New York Giants love to hoard. He can bend around the edge, but looks best when making inside moves. He can control linemen and shed to make plays with his long arms, although he isn't the strongest lineman. He has plenty of room in his frame to grow and add weight, and should be even more impressive in a couple of years. Unfortunately he's also very raw and will likely take a while to get used to the NFL. Great potential, but don't expect early returns.
CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado: Jimmy Smith could actually challenge Patrick Peterson as the most talented cornerback in the draft. He's a terrific player who would excel in press-man coverage, and isn't all that different from Darrelle Revis. There are very few negatives about Jimmy Smith on the field. The only problem is that he has some significant questions about his off-field behavior and will drop in the draft because of that. Whoever takes a risk on him will end up with a great cornerback, but will have to worry about keeping him on the field. The Bucs could use a cornerback, though it's not a real need, and the character concerns may steer them away from the Colorado product.
OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin: Carimi is another quality lineman coming out of Wisconsin, like so many before him. He played left tackle at Wisconsin, but is seen as mostly a right tackle prospect for the NFL. He's not a great athlete, but could still be a serviceable left tackle in the NFL. He's mostly a power player and will struggle against players that use their athleticism and speed to get by him, but he's a real force in the run game. He'd certainly fit the Bucs' needs, who need some help at the right side of the line.
C/OG Mike Pouncey, Florida: The top interior lineman in the draft, very similar to his brother except he's not that good at snapping the ball. He will likely be a premium lineman for years to come and should provide immediate returns for the team that drafts him. The Bucs need more talent at the interior line, so he would fit their needs.
WR Jon Baldwin, Pittsburgh: Jonathan Baldwin is huge. At 6'5" 230lbs he could be the new Mike Williams (USC/Lions/Seahawks version), except hopefully without all the problems. He isn't real explosive and doesn't seem to generate a lot of separation from defensive backs, but because of his size he doesn't really need to do that to catch passes. He doesn't fit the Bucs' needs, though, who are young and pretty deep at wide receiver.
WR Leonard Hankerson, Miami(Florida): Leonard Hankerson is a solid all-around receiver who doesn't do anything particularly well. He can run, but he's no speed demon. He's got decent size, but he isn't huge. He's a good route runner, but he's not overly explosive. What sets him apart is his hands and his ability to catch the ball at his highest point, which is very valuable.
LB Akeem Ayers, UCLA: Ayers is a very good player who may have a bigger impact in the pros than in college, depending on the way he develops. He has the athletic ability to be a good pass rusher, but he wasn't asked to do this consistently and should get much better at it with proper coaching. He has good range, he's explosive and a powerful tackler. There are some questions about his speed, though, as he ran a 4.81s 40-yard dash at the combine.
LB/DE Justin Houston, Georgia: Houston is an interesting prospect, as everyone seems to be claiming he should move to linebacker but he seems like a better fit at defensive end. Houston is a pass rusher through and through, and he's good at it. He was very consistent throughout the season as well, but there are some questions about his effort on the field, which is always a red flag. If those questions weren't there he'd probably be a higher pick, too, as there's no doubt he can get after the quarterback.