Happy Presidents' Day, and it is once again Monday, so that means it's time for our Mock Draft roundup. The mock drafters have a few surprises in store for us, so let's get to it.
10. New York Giants - Jaylon Smith (LB, Notre Dame)
Click the link above to get Alex, Stephen, and my full thoughts on the pick, but in short: The way the draft board fell we felt that the eventual reward of a healthy Jaylon Smith is worth the risk of taking an injured player 10th overall. Our other options were Vernon Hargreaves (CB, Florida), Robert Nkemdiche (DT, Ole Miss) and Leonard Floyd (OLB, Georgia).
8. New York Giants - DeForest Buckner (DL, Oregon)
This is a minor trade with the Giants slipping up to the No. 8 pick to get in front of Tampa Bay for a top defensive end prospect. In the past, moving up a couple spots in the first round would cost a team a fourth- or fifth-round pick.
The obvious question here is whether or not you think Buckner is a fit as a 4-3 defensive end. On the surface Buckner may have the look and playing style of a 3-4 end, but that's in appearance only. Buckner's get off at the snap is good enough, he has solid long speed and knows how to play with power. There's much more to being a good defensive end than pure speed, and Buckner has every other key trait.
Raptor's Thoughts: I'm going to have to have a serious talk with Dan. I continue to not like the forced pick of Buckner to the Giants, and adding a trade up to the equation just sours me even more.
Buckner has size and strength, but what little the Giants have on their defensive front, they have plenty of that. Kerry Wynn, Owa Odighizuwa, Montori Hughes, Johnathan Hankins, Devon Kennard, Jasper Brinkley... These are all big, powerful players what the Giants are completely and utterly lacking is explosive SPEED. The closest thing they have to that is Owa, and he is unproven as a 4-3 defensive end at this point.
Ed reached out several scouts (and former scouts) for their takes on Buckner. The general consensus is that if he can find a home in a four-man front, he can be a stout run defender and provide some pass rush based on his physical traits, but will never be an "elite" pass rusher. The Giants were able to mount an elite run defense with a cobbled together unit until it was completely wrecked by injuries. What they couldn't do until JPP and Robert Ayers (both free agents) took the field together was pressure the quarterback in any way, shape, or form.
In my opinion, if the Giants trade up for anybody it should be Noah Spence or Joey Bosa.
10. Jaylon Smith (LB, Notre Dame)
For years, the Giants have needed a play-making linebacker. Even with the knee injury, Smith is too good to pass up.
Smith has the skills to cover in the passing game and make an impact against the run. In 2015, the 6-foot-2, 235-pounder totaled 115 tackles, nine for a loss, one sack, four passes broken up and one forced fumble (he was robbed of one by the official scorer). Smith suffered a torn ACL and MCL in the Fiesta Bowl, which could cause him to miss the beginning of the 2016 season.
Smith was all over the field for the Fighting Irish in 2014 with 112 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, one forced fumble, 3.5 sacks and two passes defended. Smith has speed and athleticism in the middle of the field with the ability to start on the inside or the outside.
40. James Bradberry (CB/S Samford)
The Giants need to improve their secondary. They could use a free safety to pair with Landon Collins and more talent at cornerback, especially if Prince Amukamara doesn't return.
Jaquiski Tartt represented Samford at the Senior Bowl last year, and this year, it was Bradberry. The 6-foot-3, 236-pounder has a NFL skill set with size and speed. The senior recorded 45 tackles with 11 passes broken up and two interceptions in 2015. He had two interceptions in his junior, sophomore and freshman years.
Bradberry's steady play earned him an invitation to Mobile, and he had a respectable week. Bradberry has prototypical size for the next level and could fit as a press-man cornerback or a free safety; the latter is probably more likely.
74. De'Runnya Wilson (WR, Miss. St.)
The Giants need a No. 2 receiver to pair with Odell Beckham Jr. Rueben Randle is just average, while Victor Cruz unfortunately hasn't made it back to his old form.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Wilson totaled 60 receptions for 918 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2015. He's a big possession receiver for the NFL who will struggle to separate from NFL cornerbacks. Wilson had a quality sophomore season and worked well with Dak Prescott. In 2014, Wilson caught 47 passes for 680 yards with nine touchdowns.
106. Bronson Kaufusi (DE, BYU)
The Giants need defensive end help even if Jason Pierre-Paul and Robert Ayers are re-signed. New York could use a third end to help the defense get after the quarterback.
Kaufusi totaled 64 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, 11 sacks, one interception and three forced fumbles in 2015. As a junior, he collected seven sacks after putting together a four-sack season as a sophomore. Kaufusi (6-6, 281) could fit as a five-technique in a 3-4 defense or a left defensive end in a 4-3 scheme. He needs to improve at shedding blocks for the NFL.
Raptor's Thoughts: Well, I picked Smith for the Giants in our own mock so I can't have a problem there. Bradberry is an interesting pick and a player I need to study more. From what I've seen so far, he probably can't play corner in the NFL. To me, he looks similar to Cooper Taylor, and if he has the range to play free safety, could give the Giants a truly intimidating secondary -- though they still need to sign a veteran safety. I like the pick of Wilson in the third and believe he could become the second red zone and short yardage threat the Giants currently lack. The pick of Kaufusi is a curious one, because to me he shares many traits with Kerry Wynn as a big, powerful, high-motor, but not quick or agile defensive end. I don't have a problem with the pick in the fourth, but I'm not sure how much he actually adds.
10. Sheldon Rankins (DT, Louisville)
This draft class is packed with talented defensive linemen. As luck would have it, the Giants happen to need multiple upgrades up front. They have to find a solid starter next to Johnathan Hankins, and the rising Sheldon Rankins seems like he'd be a great fit. New York had one of the worst pass rushes in the NFL last year because it didn't generate any heat from the interior. Rankins would probably change that.
40. Kevin Dodd (DE, Clemson)
Whether it was Michael Strahan, or Osi Umenyiora, or Justin Tuck, or a two-handed Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants always had a terrific pass rush. That's not the case anymore, as the Giants finished in the bottom five in terms of sacks.
74. Kenneth Dixon (RB, Louisiana Tech)
Tom Coughlin figured out that going with a rotation of Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen worked best, but it was already too late. It's hard to count on Jennings for the long term, however, so here's a potential running back of the future.
106. Karl Joseph (S, West Virginia)
The Giants' pass defense has been atrocious this season. Their safety play has been horrific. This position could be addressed even earlier.
Raptor's Thoughts: Walt's draft is probably my favorite so far. Interior pressure simply wrecks offensive plans like a Mike Tyson punch to the face, and Rankins is one of the best at it. It might wind up being Andrew Billings (the Giants love powerful lineman and he is probably the most explosively strong lineman on either side in the draft) but adding another rusher to go with John Hankins would be a great move. Kevin Dodd might just be in play for 10th overall, so getting him in the second is a steal. He has the size, length, and athleticism the Giants both love and need at defensive end.