One popular opinion swirling among fans and analysts is that the New York Giants will be thinking offensive line with the 12th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. There is at least one draft expert out there who, in the middle of January, believes differently.
ESPN Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. posted the first of what will be multiple mock drafts on Wednesday. His current glimpse into the future has New York taking Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley.
Mosley is the type of versatile defensive player often coveted by New York General Manager Jerry Reese. Mosley has a deep football IQ, he has the physical ability to close in on wide receivers and running backs, and he can play in the middle or as an outside linebacker. He was, not that long ago, arguably the top prospect at the position.
An interesting thing then began to happen as December mock drafts were published. Mosley slowly yet surely was replaced in the top ten by the likes of OLB Anthony Barr out of UCLA and Buffalo play-maker LB Khalil Mack. The jury now appears to be out on the Alabama defensive leader.
I reviewed five mock drafts earlier this week. Of them, only that belonging to Alex Espinoza predicted that Mosley would end up wearing Big Blue and white. Walter Football has Mosley falling down to 17 and the Baltimore Ravens. Both Jason Passehl of CSN Houston and Rob Rang of CBS Sports have Mosley being taken before the Giants are first called to the podium.
Then there is Dane Brugler, Rang's CBS colleague. Brugler is currently projecting that Mosley will plummet all the way down to 26 overall, where the Cleveland Browns sit (Cleveland acquired that draft pick via trading Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts back in September).
In other words, there remain many questions to be answered about Mosley being worthy of a high draft pick.
What's important to remember, as it pertains to this piece, is that Mosley's ability alone is not all that will factor if he's on the board when the Giants first pick AND if the team would take him if faced with such a scenario. Value is just as vital for a team that's out of the top ten.
The math suggests that three quarterbacks – Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles – will be off the board early, perhaps as early as one-two-three overall. Offensive tackle Jake Matthews and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, both believed to be can't-miss NFL prospects, will also be taken well before the Giants are able to pick. That's five players gone.
Add Clemson WR Sammy Watkins along with the previously mentioned Mack and Barr to that list. That's when the speculation begins. Will a team ahead of New York in the draft select Auburn OT Greg Robinson? Will Watkins being off the board lead to WRs Mike Evans and Marqise Lee both being snatched up before the 12th selection?
New York has, in several weekly mock drafts I have been reviewing since the end of November, been linked with Robinson out of Auburn. He would fill what is a glaring hole on the team's roster. His draft stock has only risen over the past month, though, and the front office and coaching staff of the Giants should start looking elsewhere as a precaution.
It's possible, perhaps by dumb luck more so than anything else, that the tradition that is New York taking the best player available in the first round will continue. It is not in the nature of this front office to reach with such an early pick just to fill a roster gap. If Reese sees Mosley available, he may just have to take the 'Bama star.
The Giants could certainly do worse.