I'm going to use the CBS Sports draft rankings to come up with a "big board" to get a range for each pick in this New York Giants' seven-round mock draft. For the first round I'm going to assume that Leonard Williams, the two quarterbacks (Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota), two wide receivers (Amari Cooper and Kevin White) and two pass rushers (Dante Fowler Jr. and Vic Beasley) are also off the board. That's seven players and the Giants pick ninth, but the eighth guy that will come off the board to me could be any number of players. Also, there is NO trading back in theis mock, but that would definitely be the scenario I would take in THIS draft (I'm generally not a trade back guy) unless Beasley or Cooper were available, in which case I'd just grab them and move on.
This is just an idea of what direction I would pursue in the draft. In a couple of weeks closer to the draft I'll try to do a prediction of what I expect the Giants to do.
Round 1 (No. 9) -- Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
I had to erase the pick here more than a few times. I wrote out explanations for Danny Shelton, Brandon Scherff, and Todd Gurley. Yes, Todd Gurley. I believe of all the players that are left Todd Gurley has the best chance of being a high-impact player in the NFL. I know he had the serious knee injury and that is one of two big reasons I didn't take him; the injury and the positional value. I would not only be surprised in three years if he's one of the best players in this class but he easily could be the best running back in the league. He has everything you want from the running back position and even though we fans talk about how much the offensive line is to blame for the poor running game, I think the running backs are an issue as well. I love everything I read about Jennings and I'll root hard for him, but Jennings and Williams are both limited players and Gurley is on a different level. But alas the injury is scary. I don't think the Giants could seriously consider Gurley at nine, but if they do that means the knee checks out and I'll be pumped. I think Gurley will create yardage and make an offensive line look great, and I hope he doesn't end up in Dallas.
I then wrote out an explanation for Brandon Scherff, and I just decided i haven't convinced myself he can play left tackle in the National Football League, even though he is my top offensive lineman and I think going to be a Pro-Bowl player in his career. He is athletic enough to be a left tackle? Yes. Is he strong enough to be a left tackle? Yes. Does he bend enough? Iffy. Is he long enough? Pretty close. Can he handle speed rushers? That is THE question. Do I think the Giants should draft a guard in the top 10? No. It doesn't excite me, but I'll understand and make peace with it quickly if they go that route. And if Scherff can play tackle it's a great pick. He'll be a good pro.
I would be very happy if the Giants ended up with Danny Shelton because he will be a long-time NFL player and his production last year was extremely good (93 tackles, 16.5 TFL, and nine sacks). Those are great numbers for a man that size. His talent and effort is undeniable.
Butttttttt, I just couldn't get the idea out of my head of watching Randy Gregory rack up 16 sacks a season for some other team and get over it. He has issues. He needs to add some weight, he might have character limitations, he didn't produce as much in college as you'd like from a statistical stand-point. I get all that. But he is just soooooo good. Seriously. He converts speed to power as well as any player in the class, he uses his strong hands, long arms, and can bend better than any other player in this class. He has a non-stop motor and plays the run much better than given credit for. He has unlimited potential, but he's also a good player NOW. He is a game-changer. And when you're picking in the top 10 you don't want to look back in a few years and say yeah we get a Russell Okung/Anthony Davis type. A B.J. Raji. Those guys are fine players and contributing players to good NFL teams, but you want Aldon Smith. You want Calvin Johnson (who also failed a drug test at the combine, FYI).
Gregory could become Dion Jordan, but I don't think so I think if he's on the field he's a double-digit sack guy in the NFL whether it's as a 4-3 SAM (like the way the Seahawks used to use Julian Peterson), or 3-4 OLB. The Giants are the right organization to bring out the best in Gregory. I think he's Aldon Smith, or better in the NFL. Take him, and don't look back.
This is NOT the route that I expect the Giants to take, however. I think they are going to go with a much safer pick (to be detailed in a couple of weeks).
Here is an excellent breakdown of Gregory that highlights why I think Gregory is a top three talent in the class and why he should be the Giants pick at No. 9. Watch it, learn it. Come to the dark side with me on Gregory.
Round 2 (No. 40) -- D.J. Humphries, OL, Florida
If you look at the 39 players who are listed above him you could make a reasonable argument that Humphires will be available (seriously) and if not A.J. Cann, Cedric Ogbuehi, Ereck Flowers, Jake Fisher, Laken Tomlinson, 'Tre Jackson, T.J. Clemmings one of of these guys WILL be there at 40. I'll guarantee it. There will be a ready-made starter at left guard for the Giants available at pick 40 if they don't take one in the first round. There are other players listed below pick 40 that would also excite me. Guys like Bernard McKinney, Byron Jones, Carl Davis, Nelson Agholor, Jalen Collins are all guys also below 40. What this means is while I don't love any options at nine for the Giants, I will probably love about 15 options at 40. I am more excited for the second-round pick then I am the first round (and ditto the third round). Anyway, the Giants find their starting offensive lineman here at 40th overall. Humphries, like Tyron Smith coming out of college, played 25 pounds lighter in college than he'll have to play in the NFL, but Humphries is slightly more athletic than Smith (in measurables) and has the potential to be a very good NFL left tackle in time, though he'll likely have to start at right tackle with the Giants. That's not to say Humphries will be as good as Smith because Smith was hand made by God to play left tackle in the league (Smith has an insane 36 3/8 long arms, which allow him to get his hands on the defensive lineman first all the time), but Humphries is good value here.
Round 3 (No. 75) -- Derron Smith, S, Fresno State
Denzel Perryman was also available here and was a heavy consideration but I went with the bigger positional need because both players would be in the same tier for me. Derron Smith is a free safety in the NFL which will complement whoever wins the strong safety job for the Giants whether it be Cooper Taylor, Nat Behre, or a player not yet on the roster. Smith has good ball skills and plus football instincts. He also will throw his hat in run support (93 tackles), but isn't a great tackler and he's undersized at only 5-foot-10, which could give him problems if he had to go man-on-man with a tight end. But Smith did return punts in college which speaks to his agility and athleticism from the safety position. He's an ideal pick for me for the Giants in the third round and I would be fine with him in the second round, though I believe there will be better players there (as I detailed above).
Round 4 (No. 108) -- Eric Rowe, CB, Utah
A value pick. I know people think he could go higher, but he could be available in this range as well. By this time of year there have been at least 145 players who have "a chance to go in the first three rounds," just like there are every year. Every team (generally) gets one pick a round, they like numerous players, but they can't have him all and guys always slip through the cracks. I was just looking to add talent at whatever position. I would have considered LB, DT, WR, RB, and possibly even offensive line, but the Giants need more talented, young bodies at cornerback to add for depth. With Rowe, the Giants are getting a guy who can play cornerback or safety in a pinch, but also a player who doesn't have great man coverage skills. He's a guy who is a good athlete, though, and could be a nice toy for Spags. I think he plays similarly to Terrell Thomas coming out of USC. Spags was able to use Thomas in a variety of roles, and that's how I see Rowe. Even with the addition of Rowe the Giants still could have some cornerback depth issues. Currently the only cornerbacks on the roster you can trust are Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Prince Amukamara, and Trumaine McBride (if he stays healthy this year). Considering they want to carry five, or possibly six, expect them to add at least one body in the draft to shore up the depth.
If Rowe is gone other options are: Lousiville safety Gerod Holliman, Wisconsin offensive tackle Rob Haverstein, Oregon cornerback Ifo-Okpre Olomu, Texas defensive end Cedric Reed, Ole Miss cornerback Senzquez Golson, Oklahoma offensive tackle Tyrus Thompson and Georgia wide receiver Chris Conley.
Round 5 (No. 144) -- Nick O'Leary, TE, FSU
Just an offensive weapon. I think the Giants at some point in the draft will have to look for an offensive weapon. I would argue that the way Ben McAdoo showed his creativity in using tight ends would make it better for the Giants to add a dynamic tight end/H-Back option than a wide receiver. I like Rueben Randle more than most and if Victor Cruz is healthy the Giants' wide receiver corps is terrific. Even without Cruz, unless Amari Cooper or Kevin White are available (and possibly Agholor or Devin Smith in the second round), the Giants are set at wide receiver. If the guy isn't going to contribute this year, I don't see the need to rush to add a developmental wide receiver. The Giants already have a few players like that on the roster. Any developmental receiver just takes the place of Corey Washington and/or Marcus "Soup" Harris. O'Leary didn't test like a good athlete at the combine, which is a problem because he is undersized for a starting tight end in the NFL. While he was a terrific college player, he just doesn't have the size/speed to project as a dominant, or possibly even starting tight end in the league, which makes him available here. He, is, however, a football player and as a sub-package tight end will help out a team. He catches everything that hits his hands and will give all his effort when asked to block. I think he's a nice chess piece for McAdoo as a sub-package tight end.
Round 6 (No. 186) -- Adrian Amos, S, Penn State
And another safety. Well if the Giants aren't going to sign a veteran safety, they might as well create a ton of competition with the young guys. Having all the competition in the safety room hopefully brings out the best in each other, even though it's very scary to have all young guys as the last line of defense. But, that is the case right now as there are no experienced safeties on the roster. I like Amos a lot and he's in the fourth- to fifth-round range to me, though as I've said before after the first four rounds all guys should just be considered "day three prospects." The rate of success is extremely low and whether they are picked is just based on each team getting the players they think fit their system, or help them with special teams now. Amos is a long-time starter at Penn State who does everything right, but just doesn't make many plays. He ran in the 4.4 range at his pro-day so he has the speed to develop into a starter and should help out immediately on special teams.
Round 7 (No. 226) -- Jeff Luc, ILB, Cincinnati
Linebacker depth and help on special teams, as all late-round prospects should be. Luc is a guy who is a throw-back linebacker, which makes him miscast in many systems. The Giants still like some plodders at linebacker. Luc is smart, has good instincts, and packs a wallop. He lacks the requisite athleticism to be a starter in most systems, but I think has a shot as a developmental guy for the Giants, and if not he should be great at special teams. He can basically be Mark Herzlich, but a cheaper version of what Herzlich is now costing the Giants, who hopefully develops into the starter Herzlich wasn't able to become.
7th round (No. 245) -- Antoine Everett, OL, McNeese State
Size/speed guy who should be a practice squad candidate early in his career with nice developmental upside. Everett is 6-foot-3, 323 pounds. He reportedly ran a 40-yard dash in 4.62 seconds one time and 4.65 seconds another time. Wait, what?!?!?!??!?!?! More than 320 pounds and he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.62 seconds? I can't believe that number. That's insane. Maybe he had a rabid dog chasing him down the field. Or maybe it was the 35-yard dash? Or maybe Brandon Jacobs was wearing an Antoine Everett costume? Everett will be the new Rhett Bomar with his size and speed he can play OL, TE, RB, WR, and heck probably cornerback. Could you imagine trying to beat the press of Everett at the line of scrimmage and then having him chase you down and just eat you alive?
In all seriousness, even if that number is deflated by .3 seconds that'd still put him well under a 5.0 40-yard dash at 323 pounds, and if that doesn't scream enough athleticism to be a potential starting OL, I don't know what does.
With this mock draft I take a big chance in the first round, but after that go back to drafting productive long-time starters who lack in one area or the other, but are glue guys who also add something to a team. An approach that has worked for the Giants recently. Humphries has a questionable injury history, Smith is a bit on the small side, Rowe doesn't have an ideal position, O'Leary is not a plus NFL athlete, Amos doesn't make a ton of plays, Luc is too slow, and Everett is more potential than skill now. But this is the kind of draft I think works. Sometimes you have to take a chance when a guy like Gregory, who can change the entire way an offense has to operate at the next level, is available. Odell Beckham Jr. added at least two wins to the Giants totals last year, because in the NFL depth keeps you in games and stars win games. The Giants need another star.