Here is my one-and-only mock draft in anticipation of next week's proceedings. I've done a full first round and then from Rounds 2-7, simply given analysis on who I would pick for the Giants.
|1.||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||James Winston (Florida State)||QB|
|2.||Tennessee Titans||Leonard Williams (USC)||DE|
|3.||Jacksonville Jaguars||Devante Parker (Louisville)||WR|
|4.||Oakland Raiders||Amari Cooper (Alabama)||WR|
|5.||Washington F.C.||Dante Fowler (Florida)||EDGE|
|6.||New York Jets||Marcus Mariota (Oregon)||QB|
|7.||Chicago Bears||Kevin White (West Virginia)||WR|
|8.||Atlanta Falcons||Vic Beasley (Clemson)||EDGE|
|9.||New York Giants||Landon Collins (Alabama)||SS|
|10.||St. Louis Rams||Brandon Scherff (Iowa)||OG|
|11.||Minnesota Vikings||Andrus Peat (Stanford)||OT|
|12.||Cleveland Browns||Danny Shelton (Washington)||NT|
|13.||New Orleans Saints||Shane Ray (Missouri)||EDGE|
|14.||Miami Dolphins||Jake Fisher (Oregon)||OT|
|15.||San Francisco 49ers||Eric Kendricks (UCLA)||ILB|
|16.||Houston Texans||Randy Gregory (Nebraska)||EDGE|
|17.||San Diego Chargers||La'el Collins (LSU)||OT|
|18.||Kansas City Chiefs||TJ Clemmings (Pitt)||OT|
|19.||Cleveland Browns||Bud Dupree (Kentucky)||EDGE|
|20.||Philadelphia Eagles||Eric Rowe (Utah)||FS|
|21.||Cincinnati Bengals||Breshad Perriman (UCF)||WR|
|22.||Pittsburgh Steelers||Trae Waynes (Michigan State)||CB|
|23.||Detroit Lions||Malcolm Brown (Texas)||DT|
|24.||Arizona Cardinals||Kevin Johnson (Wake Forest)||CB|
|25.||Carolina Panthers||Cedric Ogbuehi (Texas A&M)||OT|
|26.||Baltimore Ravens||Eddie Goldman (Florida State)||NT|
|27.||Dallas Cowboys||Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin)||RB|
|28.||Denver Broncos||Byron Jones (UConn)||FS|
|29.||Indianapolis Colts||Cameron Irving (Florida State)||C|
|30.||Green Bay Packers||Jalen Collins (LSU)||CB|
|31.||New Orleans Saints||Arik Armstead (Oregon)||DL|
|32||New England Patriots||Marcus Peters (Washington)||CB|
Giants Draft Analysis
Landon Collins (Alabama) - SS
Not that long ago, I wrote that I wouldn't take Landon Collins at No. 9 because I didn't think the value was right. That said, I think the need is too strong to pass up. The pro comparisons to Kam Chancellor are widespread and perhaps a little overblown, but if it's an accurate comparison, then I'll take it. It's far better to have a Chancellor-type and develop a free safety than to have neither position cemented. This immediately solidifies one defensive spot. I didn't see another defensive player that you could guarantee would start on opening day.
In this mock, none of the big three receivers were available. It may be a different story on draft day, but for now I agree with Ed rather than 'Rap' when it comes to the depth already on-hand at that position. Victor Cruz isn't a lock to return to form, but I don't think an outright replacement is the way to look at that. The passing game was not a big issue last year. A first-round receiver may push the offense to a new level, but no team has taken back-to-back first round wide-outs since Pittsburgh took Troy Edwards (1999) and Plaxico Burress (2000).
Why not an offensive lineman then? Because I don't think they desperately need one as much as people think. The Giants are fortunate/unfortunate enough to be picking in the top 10 despite a relatively well-built roster. This isn't a case where you see gaping holes right across the offensive line. If, for example, we presume John Jerry is the starter we would be replacing, we have to factor in how much of an upgrade any of these rookies would be. Grade Jerry on a scale of 100 and then answer me this, what percentage difference would Brandon Scherff or Andrus Peat be over Jerry? I look at it as the rookie would be 15-20 percentage points better than Jerry, and that's only if the guy is an immediate impact starter. Considering Jerry is one-fifth of our blocking and the rookie would only be maybe 20 percent better, then the overall offensive line is only improving by three or four percent.
I understand that there is a certain degree of synergy to be gained from cohesive line play, but not to the extent where we need to allocate extremely valuable resources to that area. Geoff Schwartz returning will give the line enough of a boost to warrant waiting on an extra lineman until Round 2 or later.
Paul Dawson (TCU) - MLB
"But Alex, Jon Beason is signed for one more year and we have Jameel McClain as his back-up?" Yes, however those two guys have a combined 18 years in the league and here in Ireland that means their playing experience is legally old enough to drink. Too old for my liking and this pick addresses the sneaky MLB need for the Giants and allows them to not have to think about it for several years. Paul Dawson is the best interior linebacker in this draft and I honestly wouldn't be surprised if he is long gone by the time the Giants pick in the second round. He could play a situational role this year. He could learn the subtleties of NFL play behind veterans while also contributing on special teams. This is strictly a best player available strategy for the Giants. Considering that Beason has missed considerable time since coming on board, this pick could pay dividends earlier than expected as I would certainly expect Dawson to beat out McClain in a head-to-head camp battle.
Henry Anderson (Stanford) - DE
Anderson has an immense amount of production that cannot be overlooked when evaluating transitional talent. Last week, Grantland's Matt Hinton wrote about the values of picking production over promise and I think Anderson fits that mold. Guys like Shane Ray and Danny Shelton have the potential for next-level play, but Anderson has the dominant output that gives you a feeling that he can perform against a higher level of competition. Rotational pass-rushers are the bread and butter of championship defenses and Steve Spagnuolo has a ring to prove it. Anderson may not cut it as a 4-3 defensive tackle, but as an end that can jump inside on NASCAR packages, he should flourish.
Adrian Amos (Penn State) - FS
A reliable coverage free-safety to pair with our first round pick, Collins. We can use this draft to turn our needs into strengths. Adrian Amos was a three-year starter who never missed a game for a defense that ranked at the top of most major statistical categories. With the safety position so thoroughly in-flux, the stability that Amos could provide would be extremely valuable. He doesn't have much range and isn't the ball-hawk type, but his coverage skills more than make up for it. With Collins as an enforcer, Amos doesn't have to cover the run too much and can play to his strengths to ensure the opposing team cannot gain chunks of yardage in one go.
Stefon Diggs (Maryland) - WR
This pick is something I'm going to call scheme insurance. The Giants have Victor Cruz and Shane Vereen. Stefon Diggs has versatility that allows the offensive philosophy to remain intact should either of these guys go down. He is a capable slot receiver who can help out of the backfield on end-arounds, motions, and screens. I think Diggs could play a Randall Cobb type role for the Giants and generate some dynamic offensive production to alleviate pressure from both the running game and the primary receivers. What Diggs does best is keep the defense guessing.
Sean Hickey (Syracuse) - OT
A Syracuse prospect in a positional need who can be had in the late rounds? Sean Hickey has Big Blue written all over him. He's a competent pass-blocker and could play right tackle or either guard spot, though he's not a road-grader type. I'd let him compete with John Jerry at left-guard and allow Geoff Schwartz to play alongside Justin Pugh on the right.
Jimmy Hall (Northwestern) - LB
Jimmy Hall alternated between playing safety and linebacker during his time at Northwestern. He has excellent coverage skills and can stuff the run. Hall is an ideal 4-3 OLB for today's NFL defenses.
Dean Marlowe (James Madison) - FS / SCB
Yes, a THIRD safety. Dean Marlowe is a free-safety with ample experience at slot-corner and can contribute depth at either spot. A small school prospect who is worth a late-round flier.
What I thought was important to emphasize with this draft was the stability of the future. Should Tom Coughlin retire in the next year or two, this roster needs to be set up as attractive in order to land a blue-chip replacement. We absolutely can't treat building block resources like burner phones. First-round picks cannot keep walking away without a second contract. Cheap labor catches up with every industry sooner or later and I think the Giants' dwindling record in the past few seasons has been a great indicator of the failed drafts of years gone by.
I don't expect many people to like this draft haul but I hope you'll appreciate the methodology involved. The Landon Collins pick is something I could see being unpopular, but worthwhile in future seasons. He's a player I could see playing an entire career in New York, and I don't think that about many guys in this draft. Perhaps you could argue that the Giants would be taking him too early, but to that I remind you that the Giants own just a single first round draft slot. Take the player you want in the slot you have. That's my draft manifesto.
If you look at each area of need heading into this draft, there isn't an obvious hole left at any position. Perhaps Sean Hickey as a guard may be the weak point, but considering my previous rationale about passing on a top-level lineman, I think that's an okay sacrifice because this draft haul means the defense starts next season with at least one top player at every position. Sure, a flashy new receiver to compliment Beckham would be nice, but if Cruz returns full strength then you've allocated a huge amount of opportunity cost to a third receiver. Cover your bases with a late-round pick on a versatile weapon instead. Take a shot on an extra safety because he can maintain depth at a second position too. Build a roster not just with this regime in mind, but with the possibility there may be a new sheriff in town some day and you want to keep your historical pedigree intact.