With roughly 17 (and a half) days remaining until the 2016 NFL Draft, the time is running out for mock drafts. And interestingly enough, the closer we get to the draft, the less certainty we seem to have regarding the Giants' first-round selection. While Sunday's additions of linebacker Kelvin Sheppard and running back Bobby Rainey shouldn't have an impact on the draft, the numbers games at those two positions put their validity in the draft in question.
Before we get to rounding up the recent mock drafts, don't forget to look back at our Mock Draft Database to see how they stack up to the drafts that have come before.
Big Blue View (InvictusXI)
Rd. 1 - Leonard Floyd (OLB, Georgia)
Rd. 2 - Vonn Bell (FS, Ohio State)
Rd. 3 - Austin Johnson (DT, Penn State)
Rd. 4 - Charon Peake (WR, Clemson)
Rd. 5 - Willie Beavers (OT, Western Michigan)
Rd. 6 - Ka'imi Fairbairn (K, UCLA)
Raptor's Take: I'm not going to spend much time on this because Invictus does an excellent job explaining each pick in the original draft. I like it, and I would take this draft and run. He comes away with four players who have the potential for an immediate impact in Floyd, Bell, Johnson, and Fairbairn. Peake should immediately vie for the No.2 receiver role, and Beavers has the tools to become the starting right tackle (though whether or not he can develop those tools is another matter, and largely the job of Mike Solari).
10. Shaq Lawson (DE, Clemson)
This is a hard choice to peg down. A strong argument can be made for a pass rusher, even with the signing of Oliver Vernon. Another cornerback could be brought in, or so could an offensive lineman. The choice for now, though, is Lawson. He's a natural 4-3 pass rusher who could start in a rotation with Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul.
41. Xavien Howard (CB, Baylor)
73. Jaylon Smith (LB, Notre Dame)
Raptor's Take: Concerns about his shoulder aside, I'm still not sure I like Lawson for the Giants. I think the Giants need speed off the edge first and foremost, and despite his combine workout I just don't see that consistently from Lawson on tape. Personally, if we're locked in to a pass rusher at 10th overall, I'd go for Leonard Floyd -- who was third in college football in generating pressure in less than 2.6 seconds, behind only Joe Schobert of Wisconsin and Carl Nassib of Penn State -- or Noah Spence, who I still believe to be the top EDGE player in the draft. Otherwise, I think I'd take Vernon Hargreaves III, who I think can become a Pro Bowl player as a free safety/slot corner.
I am definitely in agreement with Dan that the Giants' pick is hard to pin down. I think the combine effect of their free agency efforts frees them up to take what I believe every NFL team's greatest need is: Talent.
In the second round, Xavien Howard is an interesting name. He has the length and athleticism the Giants like in their defensive backs. He would likely be limited to third corner who comes in on nickel downs if Janoris Jenkins moves into the slot, but given the type of defense played in the Big XII (ie: not much), it could take him a year to get used to the more physical brand of corner play that Spags likes.
Jaylon Smith is the one case where the Giants adding depth to their linebacker corps makes sense. His medical re-check will be huge in determining if he will play at any point in 2016, but with three (potentially five) middle linebackers on the roster and a massive defensive line, the Giants might not be in GREAT shape right now, but if Smith's prognosis is optimistic, they can afford to wait a year and potentially get the best linebacker to come out since Luke Kuechly.
10. Ronnie Stanley (OT, Notre Dame)
The Giants have spent big money on defensive free agents this year, but have a big hole at tackle. New York has taken an offensive player in the first round for the last four years with a preference toward the line. With Will Beatty having been cut, Stanley could form an excellent tackle tandem with Ereck Flowers. That would finish off the organization's offensive line.
Stanley has the potential to be a franchise left tackle. He is very athletic and quick for his size. He possesses good length to him and sustains his blocks pretty well. Stanley also has the speed and agility to mirror speed rushers, and therefore is a skilled blind-side protector. His significant athleticism allows him to hit blocks downfield as well.
However, Stanley needs to add more power and play with more of a mean streak, and he has to improve his ability to avoid mental mistakes with penalties. Stanley can struggle with physical defensive linemen (see Clemson and Shaq Lawson).
Stanley (6-5, 312) generated a ton of late-season buzz in 2014, and he put an exclamation point on it by getting the better of the top 2015 NFL Draft-eligible defensive lineman in USC's Leonard Williams in limited plays against each other. In 2013, Stanley started at right tackle and was part of a line that allowed only eight sacks on the season.
41. Michael Thomas (WR, Ohio State)
The Giants need a complement for Odell Beckham, Jr., and Thomas would give them some size.
Thomas (6-2, 212) has a good NFL skill set with some size and speed to get vertical. He needs some development as a route-runner, but he could be a nice X receiver to stretch the field along the sideline. Thomas has upside and teams like him. He ran slower than expected at the combine, however, which could push him into the second day of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Despite inconsistent quarterback play in 2015, Thomas totaled 56 receptions for 781 yards and nine touchdowns. He impressed in his battle with Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller during the 2015 season opener. Thomas was the Buckeyes' possession receiver in 2014 with Devin Smith serving as the deep threat. Thomas caught 54 passes for 799 yards and nine touchdowns on the season. He also dealt with a running quarterback in J.T. Barrett for much of the year.
73. Deion Jones (OLB, LSU)
The Giants have needed better linebacker play for years, and Jones would add some speed to their defense.
In 2015, Jones had 100 tackles with 13.5 for a loss, five sacks, three passes batted and two interceptions. He used his speed to fly around the field and make tackles for the Tigers. The 6-foot-1, 219-pounder had a quality week at the Senior Bowl and did well in pass coverage, too. However, NFL sources say he's been overrated by the media because he's very undersized as a linebacker stuck in a safeties' body. They feel that he's going to be a situational player, and may not be a three-down starter if he can't add significant weight. Thus, I've heard lower grades on him than the consensus in the media.
109. Kentrell Brothers (ILB, Missouri)
Brothers made a huge impact in 2015, recording 152 tackles, 12 for a loss, two interceptions, 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble, three passes batted and a blocked punt. The 6-foot-1, 235-pounder was one of the top tacklers in the SEC in 2014, recording 122 tackles alongside one sack and four passes broken up. He had a decent Senior Bowl week.
149. Keith Marshall (RB, Georgia)
The Giants could use more play-making competition at running back and Marshall has talent. He illustrated that at the combine, and he could be a third-day steal if he can stay healthy.
Raptor's Take: I have absolutely nothing to complain about with the first three picks in this draft. You pretty much HAVE to hope that taking Stanley would finish off the Giants' offensive line. You'd like to see more nastiness from him in the run game, but Mike Solari is known for building mean, nasty, mauling offensive lines, so if anyone can get that out of him, it's the Giants' new offensive line coach.
Michael Thomas is a great complement to Odell Beckham. Like Stanley, you'd like to see more physicality from him, but he has the frame to fill Rueben Randle's shoes as the bigger possession receiver, but also the speed to be this offense's Jordy Nelson and stretch the defense.
And I couldn't care less that Deion Jones is tiny (by linebacker standards) he's all over the field and is exactly the kind of athletic linebacker the Giants need. He should get plenty of protection from the Giants' revamped defensive line. He's also the kind of team-first leader the Giants need in their young locker room.
I have nothing against Kentrell Brothers (especially in the fourth round), but by this point the Giants will have added five free agent linebackers (Jasper Brinkley, J.T. Thomas, Jonathan Casillas, Keenan Robinson, and Kelvin Sheppard), two drafted linebackers (Kennard and Jones), and a linebacker-sized strong safety (Landon Collins). Personally, I would spend the fourth and fifth picks on Anthony Zettle and Jalen Mills, both of whom go after the Giants pick in the 5th round, and carry MUCH higher grades for me (especially Mills, who I think is a Day 2 pick).
And before I go, I'd like to remind everyone to check out Ed's interview with Charlie Campbell on the Big Blue Chat!