What to talk about in a bye week?
We don't have to talk about how the New York Giants match up against their impending opponent. We can, and have, taken looks back at what the Giants have done thus far this season. We can look forward and try to figure out what will happen over the rest of the season.
So why not take some time and argue over a mock draft? Hopefully it will be a good long time before we can seriously think about the draft, but why not get some practice in now?
Jared Goff, QB, Cal - This is actually something of a wild-card pick. The Browns have announced that Johnny Manziel will be their starting quarterback for the last six games of the season. If he proves that he can be a viable starter -- even if an unconventional one -- then this pick changes. Paxton Lynch of Memphis is a white-hot name right now, but Goff is a similar quarterback to Teddy Bridgewater. Quick release, good arm, and tremendous accuracy.
Laremy Tunsil, LT, Ole Miss - The Chargers have reached the point in Philip Rivers' career where protecting him is the biggest part of building around him, and building a young foundation sets the stage for life after Rivers. A rookie left tackle is a chancy proposition, however Tunsil has a lot of "Franchise" traits, and could turn into a formidable player going forward.
Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State - Is he a corner? Is he a safety? Who cares? Ramsey has the size (6-foot-1, 202 pounds) and range to play safety, while also having the fluid athleticism to match up in man coverage as a corner. He can play, and excel, whichever secondary position the defense needs him to play the most.
Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State - By rights, there is no way he should be here. Bosa is the best player in this draft, and easily the top edge rusher. But he is a natural 4-3 defensive end, and the three teams ahead of the Ravens have a combination of bigger needs and different scheme fits. The Ravens' defense is flexible enough to incorporate the prototypical 4-3 DE, providing a natural successor to Terrell Suggs.
Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss - It galls me to make this pick, but the Cowboys have all of one true offensive threat in Dez Bryant. Their offense sputtered when both Romo and Bryant were out, and since Jerry Jones is not going to select a quarterback, they're doubling down on offense. Treadwell is the top receiver in this class and a full-grown man when it comes to fighting the for the ball.
Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss - Ole Miss is dominating the top of this draft, but that just speaks to how good their recruitment has been lately. Nkemdiche isn't a stat collector, but his elite athletic freakiness wreaks havoc along the line of scrimmage. He has rare explosiveness and power reminiscent of Ndamukung Suh and should provide an immediate boost to a defense that his hemorrhaging points.
Paxton Lynch, QB Memphis - Colin Kaepernick has been benched for Blaine Gabbert. Yep, time for a new QB. Lynch is a big, 6-6, 230-pound, quarterback who has scouts intrigued by his athleticism at his size. Unlike statuesque catapults like Ryan Mallett and Mike Glennon, Lynch can actually move his feet. He has shown touch as well as power as a passer, but he comes from a very simplistic offense and plays inferior competition.
Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida - The Jags are set to -- effectively -- get two first round draft picks in 2016 when they get injured defensive end Dante Fowler Jr back from injury. He should provide an instant boost to their pass rush, so getting Hargreaves should help coverage to give the rush more time to work.
Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame - The Saints don't have a defense. Like at all. Smith is one of the top defenders in the draft and is my personal favorite player in this draft. He is an electric player who can play inside or outside linebacker, rush the passer, cover the middle of the field, and defend the run. He's a foundation piece who never needs to come off the field.
Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame - Stanley could have come out last year and probably would have been a first-round selection. Like many college tackles, he has some technique issues, but he also has NFL size and movement skills. Like Tunsil, Stanley has the potential to develop into a franchise tackle.
11) Chicago Bears
Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia - The Bears could use a player to help their pass defense. They're taking Floyd not only because of his length and ability to rush the passer, but also his emerging ability to drop in coverage and defend over the middle. He's a bit slightly built, but he should have some room on his frame for some more muscle.
Vadal Alexander (OG, LSU) - This might be too high for Alexander, but Chip made a miscalculation when he cut Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans. His scheme is built on stressing the defense and opening running lanes. But with a reworked and injured offensive line, that just isn't materializing. The NFC East is increasingly being built on dominating offensive lines, and Philly is falling behind.
13) Miami Dolphins
Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson - Cameron Wake has been absolutely vital to the Miami defense, but the star pass rusher will be 34, coming off a torn Achilles, and carrying a $9.8M cap hit. Lawson is one of the top defensive ends in this draft class, and he has an impressive combination of power and agility.
14) St. Louis Rams
Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor - The Rams could go for QB Connor Cook here but they need to decide what they have in Nick Foles and rookie Sean Manion. They signed Kenny Britt to a two year deal in 2015, but they have been searching for a long-term solution at receiver for years now. Coleman has the explosive athleticism to threaten every level of a defense, making a "pick your poison" pairing with Todd Gurley. He is raw as a route runner, but tracks and adjusts to the ball well.
15) Oakland Raiders
Tyler Decker, OT, Ohio State - The Raiders need a dependable corner, but there isn't one available here for decent value. -- Mackensie Alexander of Clemson is a red-shirt sophomore, so I'm not going to include him in a draft until he declares -- But since the Raiders have found their franchise quarterback, they need to give him the protection to get the ball to their franchise receiver. Decker may have to move to right tackle, but he's worth a shot at left tackle first.
A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama - Terrance Knighton is only on a one year contract. If his demands are too rich for Washington's liking, they could look to the draft to find their nose tackle of the future. Robinson is a big, strong, DT who helped take down the Legend of Leonard Fournette.
17) Houston Texans
Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State - There is probably no more polarizing player in college football than Christian Hackenberg. At times he flashes "No. 1 Overall" potential, other times he looks more like UDFA. He might not even come out this year, but if he does, the coach with whom he had far more of those "No. 1" moments than not is in desperate need of a viable starting QB. They're hoping to recapture that magic.
18) Seattle Seahawks
Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA - Reality is starting to dawn on the Seahawks. After a couple very productive drafts, where they were able to find contributors in nearly every round, the attrition of Free Agency is wearing on their roster. Important contributors are coming due for their second contracts and they can't afford to pay them all. Clark is gives them a young, athletic, and talented player to restock their defensive line, and fits well with their defensive philosophy of using 3-4 players to man a 4-3 scheme.
Ezekial Elliott, RB, Ohio State - This is a combination of how the board fell -- the Chiefs need to replace 1st overall bust Eric Fisher at OT, but there isn't an OT here that offers good value -- and need. Jamaal Charles has torn his second ACL and counts for $13M against the cap over the next two years. Elliott is one of the elite running backs in the nation, and is on par with guys like Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb, and Dereck Henery. A second weapon out of the backfield can only help Alex Smith and Elliott's presence would let the Chiefs consider cutting Charles if he doesn't return to form at age 30 with a $7mil cap hit.
20) New York Jets
Deforest Buckner, DE, Oregon - After sinking the GDP of several small countries into their secondary, the Jets are likely going to have to choose between re-signing Muhammed Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson -- As an aside, hopefully whichever one they don't choose continues to play in Giants Stadium, just in a more attractive uniform -- . The 6-7, 290-pound Buckner is a similar player who combines length, power, and athleticism, and is a natural fit for a multiple 3-4 defense.
21) Buffalo Bills
Jeremy Cash, S, Duke - This is a Rex Ryan run team, so it's pretty likely that they will be drafting for defense. And with his penchant for running exotic blitzes, a talented and versatile safety would be a good addition. Cash has solid safety size, the ability to play centerfield or walk up to the line and defend the slot. With talented cover corners Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby on the outside, Cash could be the finishing touch to the Buffalo secondary.
TreDavious White, CB, LSU - The Steelers are doing something you rarely see them do... Rebuild their defense. They've invested some high picks in their defense over the past couple years and need to do so again. White is a quick, fluid corner who has good instincts to disrupt the pass, but his lack of interceptions and only average size keep him from being considered with Ramsey and Hargreaves.
23) Atlanta Falcons
Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama - Ragland could certainly go higher than this. He's athletic for a player his size and the leader of the Alabama defense. Primarily known as a run stopper, his instincts and athleticism within his range let him stay on the field for all three downs. The Falcons get the quarterback for their defense.
Myles Jack, OLB, UCLA - By rights, Myles Jack should go much higher than this. He's one of the elite athletes in the nation and should be 100 percent for the 2016 season despite suffering a torn meniscus three games into his 2015 season. Jack is an explosively athletic "New Age" linebacker who is exceptional in coverage and can add a lot of disguising options for blitzes as well as his own athleticism rushing the passer.
Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State - This might be a bit early for Conklin, but the Colts need to do a better job of protecting Andrew Luck -- who needs to do a better job of protecting himself -- and running the ball. Conklin has NFL size, appears to have a good head for the game, and comes from an offense that produced Le'Veon Bell and Jeremy Langford.
26) New York Giants
Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State - Let the Raptor hunt begin! Let me state right off that this is not who I wanted to pick. I wanted either Myles Jack or Reggie Ragland, but neither of them fell quite far enough. And with the future of the Giants' receiving corps in question, there is a legitimate need here. There is the distinct chance that Rueben Randle gets over-paid to be a No. 1 receiver elsewhere and the other free agents ask for too much in a shallow market. We don't know what the future of Victor Cruz will be, what Myles White and Geremy Davis will grow into, or whether Hakeem Nicks can be more than a third or fourth option.
And with the possibility of having over $50M in cap room in 2016, the Giants' resources should go into fortifying their defense. Re-signing Jason Pierre-Paul and Prince Amukamara, extending John Hankins, signing either Wilkerson or Richardson, signing either Vinny Curry or Nick Perry -- a pair of 4-3 defensive ends miscast in 3-4 defenses -- and a veteran free safety like Tony Jefferson from Arizona.
If all that happens, then drafting a front seven player becomes less urgent.
At 6-3, 210 and reportedly running a 4.4 40, Thomas has a blend of size and speed that the Giants currently lack on offense. He also has the route running savvy to immediately produce in the Giants' offense as well as good hands and the quickness to be a big play threat any time he touches the ball in space.
Depending on how their draft processes go, Emmanuel Ogbah (DE, Oklahoma St.), Carl Nassib (DE, Penn St.), Shawn Oakman (DE, Baylor), and Noah Spence (OLB, Eastern Kentucky) could all have been in consideration here.
Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama - The Cards' have a pair of defensive linemen who are well over the dreaded age of 30. They don't have many holes on their defense, but getting younger on the DL could certainly be helpful. Allen is a bit undersized for a 3-4 defensive end, but at 6-3, 285, he's big enough. He can get pressure on QB's off the edge or in the middle, while also having the power to hold up at the point of attack.
Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma St. - The Vikings have built a very dangerous team, but they have some aging players on defense, including defensive end Brian Robinson. Mike Zimmer's defense is predicated on pressure, and Ogbah should provide that, while also being a capable run defender.
29) Denver Broncos
Connor Cook, QB Michigan St - It's really starting to look like this is Peyton Manning's last season -- The NFL is losing one of its all-time greats -- but do the Broncos have a replacement? Osweiler is big an athletic, but how much has he learned from Peyton? We'll find out, but until then it's not unfair to assume that the Broncos don't have a quarterback of the future. Cook is a prototypical pocket passer and has a lot of the traits of a franchise quarterback. He will occasionally take chances he shouldn't and his fundamentals can break down if he gets flushed out of the pocket.
Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh - For most of the summer, and a good part of the season, Boyd was considered the top wide receiving prospect in the country. He has, however, taken a step back as the season has progressed. Between not living up to expectations and some off-field problems, he falls in the draft. But he still has impressive route running and body control to go with good length. If Mohamed Sanu leaves via free agency, the Bengals could be willing to take a chance on Boyd.
Germain Ifedi, OT, TAMU - It seems as though Texas A&M has produced a first round offensive tackle every year for years. Ifedi could be the next in that line. Right now the Panthers are vielding Michael Oher at left tackle, but that isn't a long-term solution. Ifedi has the power and build to be a successful tackle in Carolina's run-first scheme.
Okay, that might be a bit harsh. But the Patriots lost their first round pick over Tom Brady's soft balls. But, Since I'm feeling generous and this is supposed to be for fun, I'll give them a doubly hypothetical pick:
Noah Spence, OLB, Eastern Kentucky - Darth Hoodie is known to have a very good relationship with Urban Meyer, who was Spence's coach when he played for Ohio State. He's listed as being from Eastern Kentucky because the Big 10 banned him from playing in the division after some serious drug problems, including having to go to rehab for ecstasy. However, he is an impressive athlete, and a good defender. Spence is remarkably athletic for a 6-3, 250 pound linebacker, and also has the ability to come down and play at the line of scrimmage as a psuedo-defensive end. Belichick doesn't have a problem taking a potential character problem (ie: Randy Moss, Aquib Talib), and the potential payoff could be impressive.