The 2015 NFL season is in the books. That means that it's time to turn our full attention to free agency and the NFL draft for the next three months. This offseason is going to be a critical one -- well, aren't they all critical? -- for the New York Giants. With four of the first 110 picks in the draft and forecast to be among the top 10 teams in salary cap room, the Giants have the resources to transform their team from the loser of the last three years into something far more enjoyable to watch.
How will they spend those resources? Let's take a look at what the mock drafters think should happen.
10. New York Giants - Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Ohio State)
Here's another situation where the best pass rushers are gone, and it seems too early to take a Jaylon Smith, the talented but injured linebacker from Notre Dame. Yes, this is early for a running back, and good ones can be found late, but Elliott is a Day 1 workhorse starter. He combines power, speed and the foot quickness to make defenders miss. He would immediately become one of the focal points of the team's offense.
Raptor's Thoughts: I don't hate this pick. Assuming the offensive line stays healthy enough to open some holes for him, Elliott is a playmaker who can help the offense in a variety of ways. He is a dynamic runner and has good hands as a receiver, and actually being able to run the ball will help the passing game and the red zone offense. This isn't an ideal pick, but without knowing how much of a risk Jaylon Smith's knee is, Elliott is probably the best player on the board.
10. Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Ohio State)
*Once again, both Rang and Brugler made the same selection for the Giants.
Complementing Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr. with a bell cow running back might be the fastest way of getting the Giants back into playoff contention. Elliott isn't the second-coming of Todd Gurley but he's clearly the top running back in this class, showing the all-around game to play on all three downs immediately.
Similar to the Rams last year, who drafted Todd Gurley 10th overall, the running back position isn't the top need on the Giants' roster. But it's tough to pass on dynamic players who will impact the team from Day One. And like Gurley this past season, Elliott would do just that for New York.
Raptor's Thoughts: See above, however with Noah Spence being on the board in Rang's draft, if he has cleared up his character red flags, he almost HAS to be the pick.
10. Shaq Lawson (DE, Clemson)
Giants' fans might be upset that the Giants pass up on talented linebacker Myles Jack here, but grabbing a talented defensive end at #10 better fit their M.O. The Giants were the 3rd-worst team in the league at sacking the quarterback last year, which must be improved. Shaq Lawson's stock is a bit down at the moment, but that might be an over-reaction to Kevin Dodd's impressive close to the season and his length. But Lawson is a guy who ended the season with 25.5 tackles for loss, which is an impressive number and should be a top-notch run defender in the NFL, as well as adding much-needed pass rushing ability! Lawson's should also induce the Giants to replace Damontre Moore, who was more concerned about Beats headphones than studying film. With all that being said about Lawson, I for one would certainly not complain if the Giants took a linebacker like Jack in RD1 after not using a first-round pick at the position since Carl Banks in 1984!
40. Darian Thompson (FS, Boise St.)
Adding a safety is paramount to the Giants' success as a defense next year because there was not enough talent on the back end this year to cover tight ends in the middle of the field, the Giants gave up 80.8 yards per game up to tight ends in the passing game, which was worst in the league. Thompson had 19 career interceptions for the Broncos over an illustrious career that earned him All-American recognition. The addition of Thompson braced with the addition of Landon Collins last year should give the Giants one of the league's youngest, most talented safety tandems, which is needed for a team that was relying on Kenny Phillips to be that guy before injuries derailed his career. Really, though, the Giants could stand to add a talented playmaker to any position on their defense, which was not good by any metric last year.
71. Sheldon Rankins (DT, Louisville)
106. Kenneth Dixon (RB, Louisiana Tech)
137. Jerell Adams (TE, South Carolina)
166. Beniquez Brown (OLB, Mississippi State)
Raptor's Thoughts: Yeah, I'd be one of those people who would be upset -- to say the least -- at the Giants passing on Myles Jack for Shaq Lawson. Not only do I love Jack, but I'm not overly impressed by Lawson. One of the best comparisons I've seen for him is Courtney Upshaw. Great college player, but I don't think he has what the Giants need. Being a great run defender is good, but the Giants need SPEED on defense. Speed! Speed is what we need! Greasy fast SPEED! I don't care if Spags has the defense out there chasing chickens, they need to get faster.
... Sorry, I blacked out there for a minute. But anywho, I'd be thrilled with the rest of that draft!
10. Laquon Treadwell (WR, Ole Miss)
I'm sure the Giants would prefer a pass-rusher (DeForest Buckner, Emmanuel Ogbah) or a cornerback (Vernon Hargreaves), but all three players are off the board. So, what do they do? Draft the top prospect available, of course.
That would be Laquon Treadwell. The Giants might be losing Rueben Randle this offseason, and Victor Cruz may never play again, so it's not like they don't need receiving help across from Odell Beckham Jr.
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.
71. 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 (FS, 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: This is a draft I could get behind. Treadwell might be a bit over-valued based on a relatively weak receiver class, but he would be a great compliment to Odell Beckham, and bring a physical edge to the Giants' offense. I love Dodd in the second round, he is the kind of DE Spags and the Giants love. Big, long, and athletic. Kenneth Dixon is a coach's dream at running back. Joseph is a bit of a wild-card after tearing an ACL early in the season. But when healthy, he is a fringe first round player with the range and ball-hawking skills to be a true centerfielder, and plenty of physicality when he comes flying downhill.
10. Laquon Treadwell (WR, Ole Miss)
Eli Manning will need more help along the line at some point, but ... man, Treadwell and Odell Beckham Jr. together? Much like the Beckham pick a couple years back, this would be a best-player-available choice of a prospect who just might be a superstar. Bonus: He's a tenacious blocker downfield in the run game.
10. Jaylon Smith (LB, Notre Dame)
Recent reports that Smith might not miss his whole rookie season despite his devastating knee injury are likely more a ploy by Smith's representation to keep his draft stock simmering, but this is a player that two different NFL team sources have told me was the No. 1 overall defensive player their team scouted. The Giants have to get more athletic and dynamic on defense, and Smith certainly offers that potential even if it requires delayed gratification. The coaching change buys them a year of lowered expectations.
40. Derrick Henry (RB, Alabama)
Raptor's Thoughts: I don't know how to feel about this draft. I'm holding Smith off my board until we get some clarity regarding his knee. If it looks promising that he can return to 100 percent by mid-season, I think the rewards of a fully-healthy Smith outweigh the risks and having your No.1 overall pick start the season on the PUP list. But out here we have no way of knowing. Considering the risk and the fact that Myles Jack is still on the board, I think that's where I'd go.
For the second round, I like the Henry runs. He reminds me of Brandon Jacobs, and the big guy is one of my all-time favorite Giants. However, the Giants already have a big, powerful back with surprising open-field athleticism (who also has to run from five to eight yards behind center) in Andre Williams. They don't need two of them, and they don't need to draft the same guy at a higher draft slot. I'd rather McAdoo just install Pistol sets and commit to using Williams the way he should be used.