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How the Giants will approach this year's draft

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Every team attacks the draft differently. The New England Patriots only have 50-75 draftable players. Several years back the Baltimore Ravens admittedly had 150-180.

New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese wouldn't say last week how many draftable players the Giants have but did provide insight into how they planned to approach the draft when it came to balancing need and the best available player.

"We do it a lot," Reese said. "Sometimes it falls that way as this is the best player available and also ties into value and need as well.

"We try to tie them both together, but we are not going to reach for guys just because we think it is a need position for us."

The Giants pick 23rd overall in the first round. They don't have any eye-popping needs but can use an upgrade at linebacker, offensive line, running back, tight end, defensive tackle, cornerback depth and a quarterback of the future. They can also likely survive if they don't add any specific position. They can always fill out their roster with another veteran free agent and be OK at pretty much any position.

It doesn't mean the Giants don't want to leave this draft with at least one or two new offensive linemen. That would be preferable, especially since they're admittedly going to "experiment" on the line this spring. The plan is to throw as many competent offensive linemen into the mix, try them at different positions and see what the best combination is.

It's not ideal but it's how the Giants -- as currently composed -- are set to move forward. They're not going to get antsy and force a pick at any particular position come Thursday.

"We feel like we can use help anywhere, at any position," Reese said. "We just want to create a lot of competition at every position going into the training camp, so we are going to try and upgrade at every position like we always do and offensive line is definitely a spot that we would like to upgrade as well."

The top offensive linemen are considered to be Utah's Garett Bolles, Alabama's Cam Robinson and Wisconsin's Ryan Ramczyk. Bolles is believed to be the highest regarded by the Giants.

After a rocky upbringing, he's going to be 25 years old this season. But age isn't something that will affect the Giants' approach.

"That is not a big issue for us," Reese said. "If a guy is 24 or 25, that is still super young."

Reese's first draft pick after taking over as general manager was cornerback Aaron Ross. He also turned 25 during his rookie season.

Whoever they take, the Giants have been working for this week for almost a year. Their scouts did the legwork throughout the college football season and over the past few months, with the Senior Bowl, NFL scouting combine, Pro Days and workouts validating much of what they already knew.

Reese said the Giants don't get too caught up with the Olympic testing. It's part of the equation, but not a game-changer. In fact, it seems to be secondary when they arrange the final puzzle that is their draft board. The Giants appear to have more of an old-school, eye-test approach.

"We try to put it all together. We look at what the players do on the field. We grade the players on the field. The gymnastics stuff that they do during the combine is part of the equation, but we look at these guys as football players first and we just go on our experience as scouts and try to look at the player more than what the gymnastic numbers say," Reese said. "But that is part of the equation as well."

Football ability plays the biggest part in helping create their draft board, which is arranged in rows of 32 players per round. The Giants have 32 prospects in their first-round row, but that doesn't mean all 32 have first-round grades.

Most years they have fewer than 32 players with first-round marks. There might be more this year because of the depth of this draft. This draft is considered especially deep, especially at cornerback and tight end.

That would seem to limit the possibility of the Giants moving up in the draft. Why panic if there are first-round players still on the board?

Reese has seven selections (one in each round) in this year's draft, and his track record doesn't show a proclivity for a lot of movement. The Giants have never traded in the first round and have never moved down in any round since Reese took over as general manager in 2007. They have moved up a couple times (for Landon Collins and Ryan Nassib) in the past.

Reese says the Giants will keep their options open, but you can see why he might be hesitant to pull the trigger unless an unexpected opportunity (tight end O.J. Howard available in the late teens?) presents itself. A move like that would be costly -- perhaps too costly.

"If we have an opportunity to trade in the first round, we will do that. But right now, we will just kind of let the board fall like it does and if we feel like we want to move up to get somebody, then we will move. It costs to move up, though," Reese said. "If you are going to move up, then you are going to give up a lot of draft picks to move up. Even if you move up just a couple of spots, you have to give up some draft picks to do that and we like taking our picks, but if there is somebody up there that we love and we think we can move up to get, then we will keep those options open."

That's the Giants' approach to the draft.