NFL draft: Breaking down all the Giants’ needs

Logic dictates the Giants only can fill one of their many needs with the No. 4 pick in the NFL draft.

Unless the selection is Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons.

Simmons played at least six snaps at seven different positions — inside linebacker, outside linebacker, defensive line, strong safety, slot cornerback, free safety and outside cornerback, according to Pro Football Focus — in Clemson’s loss to LSU in Monday’s national championship game. His final stat line: Six tackles, two quarterback hurries, two pass breakups and a sack.

For a defense in desperate need of game-changers at every level — the Giants devoted the least amount of NFL salary-cap space to defense in 2019 — Simmons could be the perfect solution. Now, if only he could clone himself to play seven positions simultaneously.

The college football season is over, the NFL draft is fewer than 100 days away and here are the Giants’ biggest draft needs. Free agency comes first and some holes will be filled in March, but Giants co-owner John Mara and general manager Dave Gettleman prefer home-grown talent to a spending spree:

1. Edge rusher

Call it “defensive end.” Call it “outside linebacker.” Just put out multiple calls for help.

Whether coordinator Patrick Graham runs a 3-4, a 4-3 or multiple fronts, the Giants need at least one big-time pass-rusher and another in a rotation. Make that two big-timers if Markus Golden walks in free agency after registering the Giants’ first 10-sack season since 2014.

After quarterback, the next position that will break the bank in free agency is pass-rusher. So, the Giants probably only will get one off the open market. Is it enough to add another Lorenzo Carter or Oshane Ximines-type in the middle of the draft?

2. Offensive tackle

It’s likely neither of the Giants’ two starting tackles for the 2021 season are on the current roster. An inability to trust edge protection will slow quarterback Daniel Jones’ corrections to a fumbling problem.

Nate Solder, 31, is willing to move from the left to right side — vacated by free agent Mike Remmers — to accommodate a rookie starter. The dead cap on Solder’s contract is $13 million if released in 2020, but half that much if released in 2021.

Gettleman only has used one of his first 16 draft picks on an offensive tackle (injured seventh-rounder George Asafo-Adjei).

3. Inside linebacker

Rookie Ryan Connelly looked like a draft steal with 20 tackles, two interceptions and a sack in four games before a season-ending knee injury. The alarming subtext is how clearly the fifth-round pick was a cut above all the other inside linebackers.

Alec Ogletree can be cut for $8.25 million in cap savings, and David Mayo and Deone Bucannon were in-season fillers. The Giants haven’t drafted a first-round linebacker since 1984 and haven’t had a playmaker at the position since … Michael Boley in 2012?

4. Safety

Time to find a long-term solution at free safety (maybe it is Julian Love?) after seven different primary starters in the last seven years. Antoine Bethea remarkably played 99.6 percent of the Giants’ defensive snaps in his age-35 season. But the Giants can cut him at minimal cost.

The jury is out on strong safety Jabrill Peppers after three NFL seasons, especially coming off a serious back injury. He shows athleticism and leadership, but hasn’t had an 80-tackle season and only generated a handful of takeaways in 40 career games.

5. Wide receiver

The Giants are expected to address their cornerback shortfall in free agency. Adding a veteran, especially for the slot, makes more sense than another youngster alongside DeAndre Baker, Sam Beal, Corey Ballentine and Grant Haley.

Starting receivers Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate are productive, but Shepard’s concussion history and the 31-year-old Golden Tate’s contract (possible outs the next two offseasons) create long-term question marks. Darius Slayton led the Giants in receiving yards and touchdowns as a fifth-round rookie.

6. Repeat No. 1 and No. 3

Defensive front-seven playmakers.

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