The closer we get to the 2016 NFL Draft, the more mock drafts come out. Friend of Big Blue View, writer for Bleacher Report and Inside Football, and co-host (along with our own Ed Valentine) of Big Blue Chat, Pat Traina, released her own seven round mock draft Friday.
We've been breaking down mock drafts all offseason long, so it's only fair to take a look at Pat's and see what moves she thinks the Giants will make after free agency.
10. Ronnie Stanley (OT, Notre Dame)
Since they were unable to sign veterans Russell Okung, who signed with Denver, the team confirmed, or Donald Penn, who re-signed with Oakland, the Giants might as well finish the rebuilding project by adding a young, solid right tackle who can anchor that spot for the next 10 years.
That's where Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley (6'6", 312 pounds) comes in. Per Rob Rang and Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, Stanley is "a dancing bear with the athleticism to set up, seal the edge and get a cup of coffee before most rushers can react" which all sounds very intriguing.
Although he's nowhere near being a polished productâvery few draft prospects areâas Stanley receives coaching at the next level, all those little rough edges he has, such as occasionally playing too tall and improving his anchor, should all work themselves out.
Raptor's Take: Barring a calculation that we can't know now -- such as the decision that a combination of Brett Jones and Bobby Hart at right guard and right tackle, or Jones playing guard while Justin Pugh moves back to tackle -- Giants seem to have made a decision that free agency wasn't their best bet to fill the holes they created on the right side of their offensive line. Stanley would be a younger, more athletic, healthier, and inexpensive alternative to anyone they could have signed in Free Agency.
Would we like to see the pick go to plugging another hole (like linebacker or pass rusher)? Sure. But don't underestimate the appeal of having a young, athletic offensive line that can assert itself in late-game situations and allow the Giants to end the game on their own terms, instead of hoping for a stop or mistake by the other team. Also, with the defensive line being all 27 or younger for the first time in recent memory, there's something attractive of having an offensive line that is 26 or younger. Chemistry is vital up front, and having a line that can grow together for the next five to eight years is a weapon in and of itself.
I also wouldn't rule out Michigan State's Jack Conklin here. He might not quite have Stanley's athletic upside, but where there have been some whispered questions about Stanley's love of the game, Conklin is nothing but hard-nosed, bloody-mindedly tough.
40. Darron Lee (LB, Ohio State)
In a year where the Giants really need their first three draft picks to hit the ground running, it might make much more sense to pluck a linebacker from a 4-3 system who can serve as the team's new strong-side linebacker, which would in turn push Devon Kennard to the middle.
Ohio State's Darron Lee might just fit that bill if he somehow slides down to the Giants in the second roundâa long shot given the teams after the Giants pick at No. 10 that need outside linebacker help. Still, it's one that, if it happens, makes Lee too good to pass over at that spot.
According to Pro Football Focus, who listed Lee as No. 88 on their Top 100 NFL draft prospect list, Lee has the speed to be an effective pass-rusher, having posted 30 quarterback hurries in the 2014 and 2015 seasons and 13 sacks.
On the flip side, Lee, who began his college career as a safety, has been inconsistent against the run. Per Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, Lee will sometimes over-run angles against the run, and commit penalties that can be avoided if he were more disciplined.
Where would Lee fit in if the Giants get lucky enough to draft him? If they're looking for another pass-rusher, right now that's Lee's strength, which would make him better suited for a specific role in the Giants' sub defensive packages.
Raptor's Take: Okay, my only real complaint about this pick is how optimistic it is. If Darron Lee is being talked about as a potential -- and not unrealistic -- option at 10th overall, it would be a major coup for him to be there at 40th overall. I highly doubt Lee or Leonard Floy (her other option), will be there at 40th overall. If she wants an athletic linebacker here, I think Su'a Cravens or Deion Jones are more likely picks.
Pat mentions the attention that Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd is getting from the Giants, but explains that she opted for Lee because Georgia plays a base 3-4 defense and the Giants need as many picks to hit the ground running as possible. Fair enough, but I think that's a bit of a simplistic view. Most teams use "multiple" fronts, incorporating concepts from 4-3, 3-4, 1-gap, and 2-gap defenses. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, and teams will use them based on the situation and match-ups.
It's also worth noting that the Giants' defensive coordinator, defensive line coach, assistant defensive line coach, and linebackers coach have all spent a considerable amount of time in 3-4 defenses. Does that mean the Giants are changing their base scheme? Unlikely, but it seems likely that they'll be incorporating a more fluid look that could change fronts at a moment's notice.
71. Jordan Payton (WR, UCLA)
UCLA's Jordan Payton could be a nice value pick for the Giants if he's there in the third round. Per Rob Rang of CBS Sports, Payton's size combined with his quickness and acceleration, and his ability to fend off press coverage, is about as close to being NFL ready as one can get.
Although Payton is not a burner who is able to gain separation after the catch, Rang praised the durable receiver for his vision, particularly on crossing routes, and his no-fear attitude in going for passes over the middle.
Per College Football Focus, Payton, who caught 80 passes for 1,122 yards and five touchdowns last season, also proved to be a reliable ball-handler, posting zero fumbles in his last two seasons.
He also has just enough elusiveness and upper-body strength to have caused 33 missed tackles in that same time frame, all of which makes him an intriguing consideration if the Giants feel they need another receiver just in case.
Raptor's Take: Some time on Day 2 looks like the "sweet spot" to add a receiver. This is the real strength of the receiver class and there are a bunch of "No. 2" receivers to be found. It's really just a matter of deciding what kind of receiver the Giants want because there are receivers to fit all needs other than "No.1 receiver". So with that in mind, I can't praise or criticize this pick in particular, but I do like the thinking in general.
109. Scooby Wright III (ILB, Arizona)
At 6'0", Wright doesn't possess the ideal size for an inside linebacker, but then neither did the now-retired London Fletcher (Washington), Jon Beason (Carolina/Giants) and Chris Borland (San Francisco), all of whom found success in their respective careers despite being 6'0" or under.
Wright, who had an injury-filled junior season at Arizona, draws rave reviews from Rob Rang of CBS Sports for being in position to diagnose and make plays, wrap up ball-carriers and shoot gaps to disrupt the backfield activity.
According to Sports-Reference.com, in three seasons, Wright has posted 270 tackles, 164 of which came in the 2014 season. He's also recorded 53.5 tackles for a loss, which would suggest that his quickness off the snap enables him to get into position to stop the ball-carrier from gashing the second level.
Along those lines of having that quick, energetic burst of speed, Wright had 17.0 career sacks, 15.0 of which came in 2014.
That's quite a bit of production for Wright, who, if completely healthy after his injury-filled 2015 season, could turn out to be an early Day 3 steal.
Raptor's Take: I think the Giants might look elsewhere here, but Pat did make this pick before the Giants re-signed Jasper Brinkley. Does that necessarily rule Wright out? Probably not, but they've added two middle linebackers already, and Pat shoved Kennard there in the second round.
Wright is an instinctive and aggressive linebacker who could be a very productive player in Spags' blitz schemes so that alone should keep him in the conversation, but all the other moves make me think the odds of this pick happening are going down.
149. Tavon Young (CB, Temple)
An intriguing prospect who could seriously challenge Trevin Wade for the nickelback role is Temple's Tavon Young.
Although he's listed at 5'9" which is not ideal height for a coverage cornerback who can almost certainly expect to see taller receivers, Young is a perfect example of someone who plays bigger than his size.
Per College Football Focus, he has a 66.2 rating in coverage over the last two seasons, having allowed just 52.9 percent of the 121 passes thrown against him to be complete.
He's also allowed three touchdowns and broken up 14 passes over that same period.
Jamie Newberg of CBS Sports noted that Young has a good feel in pass coverage, especially when playing zone, and he doesn't often let the quarterback fool him.
Young also offers good closing speed and the ability to break on the ball with the receiver, all of which has helped him prove that he can be a disruptive cornerback in coverage while also showing sound fundamentals in run support and on special teams.
Raptor's Take: I don't mind the pick, and getting some competition for Wade should be a priority. His aggressive play may have impressed Spags last season, but I think the Giants can do better as a talent. Personally, I think I would prefer Cyrus Jones of Alabama or Eric Murray of Minnesota over Young. We could also see them take a chance on Rashard Robinson (formerly of LSU) who the Giants believe could have been the top cover corner in the entire draft.
The signing of Janoris Jenkins to go along with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie seems to point to aggressive coverage schemes, and a zone corner might not fit.
184. Matt Judon (DE, Grand Valley State)
Every year the Giants throw out a curve ball that shatters any mock draft board and expectation those outside of the organization might have.
Judon, 6'3", 275 pounds, fits the classic prototypical size that the Giants seem to like in their defensive ends. He also stands a good chance of catching the Giants' eye because he was a man among boys despite having played in Division II football.
According to Rob Rang of CBS Sports, Judon's 20.0 sacks in 2015 led the nation at any level. Judon was also Grand Valley State's all-time career leader in sacks with 34 and a two-time Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference first-team performer.
Offering better than average explosiveness and the long arms necessary to wrap up ball-carriers and keep blockers off him, Judon is going to be a developmental project as a rookie in the NFL.
That's not a bad thing as far as the Giants might be concerned, as with Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon set to be the starting edge-rushers, and Owa Odighizuwa hoping to put his injury-filled rookie season far behind him, the Giants can afford to bring along a promising prospect such as Judon if the guys in front of him on the depth chart stay healthy.
Raptor's Take: This far from the draft, and this late in a mock, I don't think we can say much of anything about the pick itself, but the mentality fits what the Giants like to do. They generally use one of their Day 3 picks to secure a player that most believe is destined to be a "Priority Free Agent". These players don't really have any less talent than the players drafted in the fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds, so the Giants seem to prefer to lock up their highest priority targets by drafting them. They did it in 2015 with Mykkele Thompson and Geremy Davis. Could that be Matt Judon? At this point, who knows. But one name to keep an eye on could be Lars Hanson of Sacremento State. He is a big, strong offensive lineman and the Giants made a point of going to see his Pro Day.