Giants GM Jerry Reese has had a unique way of drafting since he has taken command of the Giants in 2007. To just state that Reese draft’s on the basis of best available player does not give him enough credit. Reese has the ability to envision needs and weaknesses before they warrant concern with a mixture of best available, upcoming needs and current needs with each draft selection.

To predict exactly who the Giants will draft is nearly impossible. In terms of football being a chess match, Reese is looking at a game that has not yet even started. Only Reese knows which of his free agents he is going to retain and which he will not. This assessment will help determine what Reese might do in the draft.

Many sports writers, along with mock drafts has the Giants coveting a LB in the 1stround; However; Reese might feel that the crop of rookie LB’s from last year, along with the return of Jonathan Goff will be efficient.  Although we can use his previous drafts to explore his tendencies; or does he draft the best player available, or by need; or a mix.

Generally, defensive backs have a short shelf life in the NFL.  Injuries have been a problem in the Giants secondary this past season as Terrell Thomas was a major cog entering the 2011 season before suffering a season ending injury to his knee. Along with Thomas; Aaron Ross, Bruce Johnson, Michael Coe, Deion Grant, Will Blackmon and Justin Tryon are all free agents. So to say that defensive backs are always a need for every single team in the NFL would be an understatement. 

This is why 4 of 10 of Reese's 1stand 2ndround picks have been DBs. Aaron Ross, Kenny Phillips and Prince Amukamara have all been 1strounder’s, and Terrell Thomas was a 2ndrounder who has developed into a solid CB before going on season-ending IR last season.Over the last several years, the Giants have built their defensive unit around being able to pressure opposing QBs by rushing just four. So it's not surprising that pass-rushers are always a need. This is why 3 of 10 picks in the first and second rounds have been used to draft more pass rushers. With that being said, a perfect example of this was in the draft of 2010, when the Giants selected Jason Pierre-Paul when they already had Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka on the roster. Also throw in that Sean Weatherspoon (OLB) was still on the board and was regarded one of the best linebackers in the draft and a desired need for the Giants and still Reese went with the BPA.

In hindsight, Reese might have known that contract talks with Umenyiora were pending and also Kiwanuka did suffer a neck injury and his return was questionable. There was an outside chance that, had Reese not drafted JPP, the starting DE's in Week 1 could have been Justin Tuck and Dave Tollefson, who is a great backup and rotational player but a huge drop-off from JPP, Osi or Kiwanuka. Reese has a way of replacing one need with another as proof of adding 2nd rounders in Marvin Austin and Linval Joseph, who were also a mix of best available and need, as the Giants needed to replace a mostly ineffective Jay Alford and an aging Fred Robbins. Again, these selections were disguised as best available talent picks, but in reality, they were also needs. Joseph had a solid season last year as Barry Cofield’s replacement; and at times showed flashes of brilliance. Austin spent the year on IR, but in limited preseason action, looked like an animal that will eventually stand alongside Joseph as the future of the Giants interior defensive line.

In the 2nd round of Reese's first draft, he picked up Steve Smith from USC. Known for being sure-handed, a good route runner and with high football intelligence, it was a pick to provide Eli Manning with a stable receiver with which to grow. His role grew the closer the team got to the Super Bowl that year. Smith became Eli’s go to guy the following season and along with starters Amani Toomer andPlaxico Burress; formed a triple threat throughout the league. Also waiting in the wings was Mario Manningham, who would eventually replaced Amani Toomer.

In 2009 and for a third year in a row, Reese again drafted a WR in the first three rounds. This time in the 1st round, he selected Hakeem Nicks. A very dynamic, talented need pick. Burress was now in jail, Manningham was still slow in learning all of the offense and Toomer was on his way out.  It could be said there were other positions that the Giants needed more than WR at the time. Looking back, though, it's hard to imagine Reese drafting any better than Nicks, and Smith before him.

In regards to Reese’s drafting philosophy on linebackers, the only time he has drafted a 1st or 2nd round LB was when he drafted Clint Sintim (second round, 2009, after Nicks in the first round). Reese historically, drafted linebackers in the mid rounds or via free agency. A case could be made that Reese is picking talent first. DE wasn't a perceived need by many when JPP was selected in the first round. Prince Amukamara was selected a year later when he fell into the Giants lap. So if you believe that Reese is all about drafting the best available player, well the middle rounds should prove otherwise.From the 3rdto 5throunds, there has only been one DE/DL selected (Jay Alford), who never lived up to expectations for the Giants when he was with them. Reese left pass-rushing off his list of middle rounder’s, choosing to go for glaring needs instead.

3 of the 14 picks were used for WR's. Ramses Barden was a stretch, selected as a low risk because he was taken the same year as Nicks. The upside for him has always been his size and fluidity in and out of breaks. The vote is still out on him; he has a tough time making the game-day roster because he isn't very effective on special teams. As previously mentioned, Manningham was selected in the 3rd round. Jerrell Jernigan was drafted last year for several reasons: depth, as a kick-return specialist and to compete for the third WR spot behind Manningham and Nicks. Remember, nobody knew that Victor Cruz would emerge the way he did. Reese has drafted 4 linebackers in the middle rounds, which is the most of any other position. It has been the position the Giants need the most help in since Reese has taken over at GM. Jonathan Goff succeeded Antonio Pierce, when he retired. Phillip Dillard (4th round 2010) was released last year after being outplayed by the class of 2011 Linebackers in the preseason.

The next largest group was 3 offensive linemen, a growing need as the Giants OL has aged and has slowly started falling off traumatically. Mitch Petrus (5th round, 2010) and James Brewer (4th round, 2011) will both compete for starting jobs in 2012, while Will Beatty (3rd round, 2009) began the '11 season as the starting left tackle.  Interesting fact is that 7 of 14 picks at the perennial need positions of LB and OL. Add two TE's (Kevin Boss and Travis Beckum), and that makes 9 picks of direct need over the theory of "best player available."

The portion of the draft where Reese has excelled the most is in the later rounds. In his first season as GM of the New York Giants (2007), Reese used his 7th round selection to take Marshal RB Ahmad Bradshaw. In last year's draft, Reese added Tyler Sash (S), Greg Jones (LB), Jacquain Williams (LB) in the 6thround and Da'Rel Scott (RB)in the 7thround. Other than Scott, all of the players were major contributors on the field. While Reese still explores LBs and pass-rushers late, he has taken more DBs than any other single position (four out of 12).

 Reese will draft with the same need/best available formula that has brought him success so far. It will shake down like this:

Rounds 1 and 2: Reese wants the first 2 round selections to be players who can be a major contributor as a rookie. Make no mistake, Reese will most likely draft the best player available in these 2 rounds as history suggests.

Rounds 3-5: If Reese has not taken a TE by this point, he will in the next 3 rounds, especially if  player's such as: James Hanna, Rhett Ellison, Michael Egnew, Ladarius Green and  DeAngelo Petereson are still available. Hanna may be the exact reason Reese will not take a TE in the first two rounds. In a weak TE class, Hanna had probably the best combine performance. WR, DB, DE and OL are all likely in these rounds as well, as all four are need positions and again history suggests Reese usually drafts within these rounds of need.  

Rounds 6 and 7: These rounds have been very good to Reese throughout his tenure and I expect no less in this draft. A combination of best player available and need will be the criteria here as Reese works his magic.