Linebacker Alec Ogletree is one of the most intriguing prospects in the 2013 NFL draft. A converted safety, he made 111 tackles (11.5 for loss) in his junior season at Georgia. However, his draft stock has tumbled for off-the-field reasons, thus he could be available when the New York Giants make their first-round selection at No. 19. Here are three reasons why the Giants should take a chance on the maligned linebacker.
High Risk, High Reward -- Ogletree, who was suspended four games last season for a failed drug, further tarnished his reputation a few weeks ago by being pulled over for speeding and charged with driving under the influence. As a result, his draft stock has dropped (Yahoo! Sports' Doug Farrar doesn't even have him going in the first round in his post-combine mock draft). However, the Giants have rolled the dice in the draft before. They once took a sixth-round chance on Ahmad Bradshaw, who was kicked off the football team at Virginia for underage drinking, and two years ago spent a second-round pick on Marvin Austin, who was dismissed from the team at North Carolina. Ogletree's off-the-field issues shouldn't be ignored, but neither should his potential, as long as he's willing to change.
Fills an Area of Need -- Last season, New York was horrendous at stopping the run. The G-Men gave up more than 100 yards on the ground in each of their last six games and finished the season ranked No. 25 in rushing defense. The athletic and versatile Ogletree, who may be the best inside linebacker in the draft, would be a great fit in Perry Fewell's defense. Furthermore, the team is thin at the linebacker position. Veteran Michael Boley was released earlier this offseason and leading tackler Chase Blackburn and Keith Rivers will be unrestricted free agents. Plus, it remains to be seen if Jacquian Williams and Mark Herzlich are prepared to start. With the versatile Ogletree in the fold, the Giants have options.
Save the Rest for Later -- Drafting Ogletree in the first round only solves one of several issues, but the Giants may be able to address the rest of their needs in the later rounds (John Harris outlined a few options for Yahoo! Sports). For instance, Big Blue can bolster the defensive line in the second round and take a tight end in the third round. The offensive line could use some help, but with left tackle Will Beatty having recently signed a five-year contract, it's less of a priority and can be fixed later in the draft. A solid safety to upgrade the secondary should be there in the fourth and fifth round. However, it's unlikely that the Giants will find an impact linebacker after the first round of the draft.
Should the Giants take a chance on Ogletree in the first round? If not, who should they take with the 19th pick in the draft? Let me know in the comments section below.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer with more than 15 years of experience covering amateur and professional sports for several print and online media outlets. He tracked the New York Giants for Yahoo! Contributor Network during the team's Super Bowl run in 2011-12. Adam can be found on Twitter @Pegcitysports.
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