The defense of the New York Football Giants is a glaring need heading into the 2010 season.  Injuries, disappointment, and under-performing all but sum up the Giants defense in 2009. Middle linebacker is clearly the Giants’ biggest need.  After addressing the middle of their line backing corps, the G-Men have some concerns at every other position.  One position with considerable concern is safety.  Once upon a time, not too long ago, safeties were viewed as afterthoughts; nothing more than interchangeable parts.  And if a team managed to land a good safety, they were lucky.  Now, though, some teams succeed because of the great play from their safeties, and those same defenses will break down when he is missing from the secondary.  Take a look at recent years.  When Bob Sanders is fully healthy, the Colts win.  In 2006, on their way to their second Super Bowl championship the Colts had the worst run defense in the league during the regular season, giving up at least 100 yards rushing a game, in which Sanders played in just four games.  Sanders came back for the Colts’ first playoff game and was the main reason the Colts were nearly impossible to run on in January.  A versatile, play making safety can change the entire attitude of a defense and completely alter an offense’s game plan.

LSU safety Chad Jones has the ability, and tremendous potential, to be that type of versatile safety.  Jones is a force in the secondary, who possesses elite size and speed for the safety position, measuring at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds and running a sub-4.5 in the 40-yard dash.  A short time ago, Jones was thought to still be available in the middle of the third round, right where the Giants (76th overall pick) will be picking.  It seems, though, that Jones’ stock is rising quickly, and he’s becoming a late-second/early-third prospect. Here is a closer look at why Jones is shooting up big boards around the league.

In his junior season last year, Jones started all 13 of LSU’s games at safety.  He finished with 74 total tackles, fifth on the team, and led the Tigers with three interceptions. Also a pitcher for LSU’s baseball team, the two-sport star has the kind of physicality that makes a huge difference over the middle with just his mere presence.  His ability to tackle in the open field has become a lost art in the NFL, and along with his very good tackling technique, Jones is one of the hardest hitters to come out of Baton Rouge in the last several years.

With only one full year as a starter, he’s still very raw.  However, Jones has the ability to develop into an elite NFL safety, with his biggest asset being his versatility. That being said, patience is needed in giving him the time to develop.  He has size and athleticism to play either safety position, and he has great ball skills.  His size will give teams a lot of creativity, allowing them to play him closer to the line of scrimmage to assist against the run. While his coverage abilities are up and down at this point, the potential is there for Jones to be one of the best safeties in the NFL.  With baseball and school out of the picture, Jones will now be able to focus solely on football, which has never been the case.  He is viewed as a prospect with a very high ceiling that has the capability of being a starter and Pro-Bowl defensive back.

The Giants clearly need help at safety.  Kenny Phillips’ future is unknown, and although he should be back in his starting role next season, he may never be the same after surgery to completely repair his left knee.  The Giants cannot enter the 2010 season with the hopes of Kenny being fully healthy.  With that being said, even if he is healthy, he needs someone to roam the field with.  Chad Jones appears to be a player with the ability to make a serious impact and be a playmaking safety for many years down the road.  There’s a good chance he’ll still be on the board when it comes time for the Giants to pick in the third round, though Jones is a player who seems to have a lot of buzz surrounding him as of late.  Big Blue can’t fix all of their problems in the first round (if only). If they address middle linebacker with their first our second round pick, Jones would be a player to get awfully excited about if he was still available when the Giants pick in the third round.