After months of speculation, the New York Giants went in a direction on Thursday night that nobody saw coming with their first round pick.
To be fair, the first nine picks fell in what had to be something of a "nightmare scenario" for the Giants. Their most likely targets -- Leonard Floyd, Jack Conklin, and Ezekiel Elliott -- were drafted more highly than anticipated. At the same time, the players that fell had significant red flags -- Laremy Tunsil's video of drug use and Myles Jack's "time bomb" knee.
Given the circumstances, the pick of Apple shouldn't really surprise. He has traits in common with many of the Giants' first-round choices, namely youth, high character, high work ethic, physicality, and elite measurables.
Now that the first round is done and over with, it's time to move on -- for now -- and take a look at the second day of the draft. Alex Sinclair spent time earlier Friday morning taking a look at the Giants' needs and some players who could fill those needs.
For now we are left wondering how the second day of the draft will play out, and what better way to look at that than with a two round mock draft where each of us take a full round for Day 2 and break down who we select for the Giants with each of their picks.
Round 2 - Chris Pflum
32. Cleveland Browns - Mackensie Alexander (CB, Clemson)
33. Tennessee Titans - Vonn Bell (S, Ohio State)
34. Dallas Cowboys - Emmanuel Ogbah (DE, Oklahoma state)
35. San Diego Chargers - Jason Spriggs (OT, Indiana)
36. Baltimore Ravens - Kevin Dodd (DE/OLB, Clemson)
37. Kansas City Chiefs - A'Shawn Robinson (DT, Alabama)
38. Jacksonville Jaguars - Cody Whitehair (OL, Kansas State)
39. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Myles Jack (OLB, UCLA)
40. New York Giants - Sterling Shepard (WR, Oklahoma)
The first round of the draft fell about as awkwardly for the Giants as could be reasonably expected, and I saw no reason for the second round to be any different. At this point I was down to four options: Justin Simmons, Noah Spence, Michael Thomas, and Sterling Shepard.
Simmons was my "gut pick" because he continues to rebuild the defense, offers the size, athleticism, and versatility the Giants like and was a leader on a terrific defense. He's the kind of steady, high upside second round pick they've made in the past.
Finally, my heart wanted to go with Noah Spence. I've made no secret of the fact that I believe that he could be a player in the mold of Khalil Mack. The Giants desperately need a speed rusher off the edge, and with his first step and ability to bend the edge, Spence is arguably the best one in the class. He can play from a two or three point stance, and along with Devon Kennard, could give Giants the same kind of 5-man rush the Denver Bronco's enjoyed in their Super Bowl run.
Finally, my brain suggested Michael Thomas (WR, Ohio State) or Sterling Shepard. I opted for Shepard because of his superior route running will let him contribute early while his 41-inch vertical leap, upper-body strength, sticky hands, and body control let him play bigger then listed.
(Note: Michael Thomas was Alex's pick here for the Giants)
41. Chicago Bears - Hunter Henry (TE, Arkansas)
42. Miami Dolphins - Jalen Mills (CB/FS, LSU)
43. Tennessee Titans - Michael Thomas (WR, Ohio State)
44. Oakland Raiders - Reggie Ragland (ILB, Alabama)
45. Tennessee Titans - Jonathan Bullard (DE, Florida)
46. Detroit Lions - Andrew Billings (DT, Baylor)
47. New Orleans Saints - Tyler Boyd (WR, Pittsburgh)
48. Indianapolis Colts - Justin Simmons (S, Boston College)
49. Buffalo Bills - Jerald Hawkins (OT, LSU)
50. Atlanta Falcons - Noah Spence (OLB, Eastern Kentucky)
51. New York Jets - La'Raven Clark (OT, Texas Tech)
52. Houston Texans - Vadal Alexander (OL, LSU)
53. Washington Redskins - Nick Martin (C, Notre Dame)
54. Minnesota Vikings - Kyle Murphy (OT, Stanford)
55. Cincinnati Bengals - Braxton Miller (WR, Ohio State)
56. Seattle Seahawks - Chris Jones (DT, Mississippi State)
57. Green Bay Packers - Kentrell Brothers (ILB, Missouri)
58. Pittsburgh Steelers - Joshua Perry (LB, Ohio State)
59. Kansas City Chiefs - Dak Prescott (QB, Mississippi State)
60. New England Patriots - Sheldon Day (DL, Notre Dame)
61. New England Patriots - Sean Davis (CB/S, Maryland)
62. Carolina Panthers - T.J. Green (S, Clemson)
63. Denver Broncos - Christian Westerman (OG, Arizona State)
Round 3 - Alex Sinclair
64. Tennessee Titans - Su'a Cravens (LB/SS, USC)
65. Cleveland Browns - Shilique Calhoun (EDGE, MSU)
66. San Diego Chargers - Shon Coleman (G, Auburn)
67. Dallas Cowboys - Christian Hackenberg (QB, Penn State)
68. San Francisco 49ers - Thomas Duarte (TE, UCLA)
69. Jacksonville Jaguars - Deion Jones (LB, LSU)
70. Baltimore Ravens - Pharoh Cooper (WR, South Carolina)
71. New York Giants - Kevin Byard (FS, Middle Tennessee State)
Who? Yes, I understand that many will consider this a reach for a small school player, but the Giants absolutely cannot head into Day 3 of the draft without addressing their free safeties. It wasn't a realistic option with the 10th overall pick, and it didn't fall right for Round 2, so here we are almost forced into it here.
If you think about it this way, even if Byard doesn't work out for the Giants (though I think he would), at least the front-office made a move to acknowledge their weakness. The things that get general managers fired isn't when guys don't work out, it's when you're oblivious to the problem at all. Head into a season without an offensive line or a quarterback, and you'll be dead by October.
For the Giants, their main weakness right now is safety, and Byard is an answer to that. It's a bit of a riskier pick than Darian Thompson who is still on the board at this point, but considering the likelihood of starting a rookie at safety on opening day, I prefer Byard as the guy to pair with Landon Collins. His skills appear to be better suited to that of a single-high zone, which would allow Collins to play closer to the box.
Other options included adding a Penn State lineman such as Austin Johnson or Carl Nassib, and Chris was very clear that he would want Nassib at this point, but the fear of waiting another round before I could get a safety was too great. Had to be here, and it had to be Byard.
72. Chicago Bears - Landon Turner (G, North Carolina)
73. Miami Dolphins - Austin Johnson (DT, Penn State)
74. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Carl Nassib (DE, Penn State)
75. Oakland Raiders - Daniel Braverman (WR, Western Michigan)
76. Cleveland Browns - Bronson Kaufusi (EDGE, BYU)
77. Cleveland Browns - Darian Thompson (FS, Boise State)
78. New Orleans Saints - Cyrus Jones (CB, Alabama)
79. Philadelphia Eagles - Derrick Henry (RB, Alabama)
80. Buffalo Bills - Rashard Higgins (WR, Colorado State)
81. Atlanta Falcons - Jarran Reed (DT, Alabama)
82. Indianapolis Colts - Joe Thuney (OT, NC State)
83. New York Jets - Vernon Adams (QB, Oregon)
84. Washington - Kendall Fuller (CB, Virginia Tech)
85. Houston Texans - Briean Boddy-Calhoun (CB, Minnesota)
86. Minnesota Vikings - Jack Allen (C, Michigan State)
87. Cincinnati Bengals - Charles Tapper (DE, Oklahoma)
88. Green Bay Packers - Eric Murray (CB, Minnesota)
89. Pittsburgh Steelers - Adolphus Washington (DT, Ohio State)
90. Seattle Seahawks - Blake Martinez (LB, Stanford)
91. New England Patriots - DJ White (CB, Georgia Tech)
92. Arizona Cardinals - Kenneth Dixon (RB, Louisiana Tech)
93. Carolina Panthers - Nick VanHoose (CB, Stanford)
94. Seattle Seahawks - Kyler Fackrell (EDGE, Utah State)
95. Detroit Lions - Michael Thomas (WR, Southern Miss)
96. New England Patriots - Malcolm Mitchell (WR, Georgia)
97. Seattle Seahawks - De'Vante Harris (CB, Texas A&M)
98. Denver Broncos - Joe Dahl (OT, Washington State)