Giants ready for draft day

April 24, 2009 9:23:00 PM PDT
It seems the New York Giants spent the final month of the regular season and the playoffs focusing on Plaxico Burress. Whether it was the self-inflicted gunshot wound to his thigh in a New York City nightclub in late November, his season-ending suspension the following week or ultimately his absence from the lineup and the Giants' disappointing exit from the playoffs, everything revolved around the former Super Bowl hero.

And even now that Burress has been released by the team, Plax is still the focus as the Giants head into the NFL Draft on Saturday with the 29th pick overall.

The question is how does general manager Jerry Reese replace the one player on his offense who could provide a deep threat?

While there are a couple of very talented receivers in the draft, the most likely scenario is that the Giants (12-5) will make a trade for a veteran, especially considering they chose not to re-sign Amani Toomer.

The player whose name has come up the most is Braylon Edwards of the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns and Giants have had talks about the receiver in recent months and the likelihood of him being available will increase if Cleveland takes Michael Crabtree with the fifth pick overall.

Reese has refused to discuss the potential trade but current Giants are excited about acquiring Edwards, whose big rap is that he drops too many passes. He caught 16 touchdowns two years ago.

Pro Bowl defensive end Justin Tuck said Edwards is not a player who is going to cause problems.

"From what I know about him, he comes to work everyday, he keeps his mouth closed," Tuck said earlier this week. "You don't hear a lot of things about him off the football field. I think that's the type of guy (you want), especially in an environment like New York City where you can get caught up in all the lights. You need to focus on what your primary job is."

The problem for the Giants might be the asking price. Cleveland wants a first-round pick. The Giants have 10 picks in the draft, including two apiece in the second and third rounds, with the extra second coming in the deal that sent tight end Jeremy Shockey to New Orleans. New York obviously would rather package a deal without losing its No. 1.

If the trade does not pan out, the other receivers projected as possible first-round picks are Jeremy Maclin of Missouri, Darrius Heyward-Bey of Maryland, Hakeem Nicks of North Carolina, Kenny Britt of Rutgers and Percy Harvin of Florida.

"There are some nice receivers in this draft," Reese said. "There have been some nice receivers in every draft for me. So I wouldn't say this draft is better than other drafts."

Reese thinks the Giants already have talented receivers with Steve Smith, Domenik Hixon, Sinorice Moss and Mario Manningham, who did little as a rookie.

"There are other ways to win football games," Reese said. "We have a powerful running game. Actually I think our running game was No. 1 in the league last year. Our offensive line will be in tact now for three years going into the new season. So I think we will be able to run the football. I think our defense has a chance to be better, so there are different ways to win football games other than having a receiver out there and throwing the ball down the field all of the time."

Since Reese took over as general manager two years ago, the Giants have filled needs in the first round. He took cornerback Aaron Ross two years ago and selected safety Kenny Phillips last year.

The Giants, however, are not averse to stockpiling talent when the best player available isn't a need. Despite having two Pro Bowlers in Osi Umenyiora and the now retired Michael Strahan, New York took defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka with their first pick in 2006.

The Giants, who have five picks in the top 100, could use help at running back after losing Derrick Ward to free agency and they also could use a linebacker despite signing Michael Boley as a free agent.

Reese expects to be on the phone a lot in the days before the draft.

"Everybody is jockeying, saying 'Do you want to move up, do you want to move down, are you interested in taking our spots?"' Reese said. "So we get phone calls like that everyday, all of the way to the draft. So we have a list of who wants to do what. And if something fits us, we will say, Lets call so and so and see if they want to move down or want to move up."'