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NFL Mock Draft 2017: Mocking The Draft gives Giants LB Zach Cunningham

Could 2017 finally be the year the New York Giants get their first-round linebacker?

Florida v Vanderbilt
Zach Cunningham makes a tackle.
Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The desire for the New York Giants to draft a linebacker highly has become some bizarre draft combination of trope, cliche, and meme.

But, it’s grounded in fact. The Giants have drafted a linebacker with their first-round pick once in the last 33 years (Carl Banks, 1984). In the Giants’ defense, impact linebackers have rarely been available, or when they have been, more highly-rated players have been available.

But could this be the year that the Giants finally add a first-round linebacker? Mocking The Draft's Dan Kadar presents a scenario in his latest mock draft where it happens.

23. New York Giants: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

Cunningham may not be a star pass rusher, but from the linebacker position the Giants don’t need him to be. He’s a player who should be fine in the NFL playing inside or even on the weak side.

Raptor’s Take - I like the pick. I believe Cunningham is a natural fit in the Giants’ defense at the WILL linebacker position and would, along with Landon Collins, help make them iron-clad at every level. Cunningham fits the Giants’ physical archetype, has range, athleticism, instincts, and physicality. He is a dependable coverage linebacker and is willing in run support.

The only real flaw in Cunningham’s game is that he wasn’t used as a pass rusher, but that might have more to do with Vanderbilt’s defensive scheme than a lack of ability on Cunningham’s part.

I’ll admit, my top draft “want” is Ryan Ramczyk [Prospect Profile]. Despite only being having just one year at Wisconsin, I believe he has all the tools to be a good long-term starter at offensive tackle. But, since he went 20th overall to the Denver Broncos, he was hardly an option here.

The other part of Dan’s mock was an analysis of whether or not each team should draft a quarterback. This is what he had to say with regards to the Giants.

Should they draft a quarterback? This could the beat the Giants finally poke around looking for an eventual successor to Eli Manning. While the Giants may not get one of the top three quarterbacks, things could get really interesting in the second round if Mahomes is still there. Webb could also get some consideration.

Raptor’s Take (pt. II) - Dan pretty much hit the nail on the head here. Personally, I think it’s unlikely that the Giants use a pick on the first two days of the draft on a quarterback. Instead, I’d look for them to take a “scratch-off” on the third day. Their first three picks are generally players who they need to contribute as early in their careers as possible, and a quarterback would be on the shelf for the foreseeable future. That would deprive the team of an important contributor for years.

I do like that Dan brought up Cal’s Davis Webb [Prospect Profile]. Webb has only played in spread-option “Air Raid” offenses at Texas Tech and Cal, but he has plenty of physical talent, including prototypical size and arm strength and the ability to launch the ball downfield with accuracy and touch. Another plus for Webb is (reportedly) stellar leadership and sky-high intangibles. Looking at the “developmental” quarterbacks who have succeeded, work ethic and leadership is a common theme.

Another player to keep an eye on is Virginia Tech’s Jerod Evans. Evans is a raw, but athletic quarterback with the traits to eventually develop into a Cam Newton-type player. Given that the Giants had a summer fling with former VT quarterback Logan Thomas (another big and athletic quarterback), Evans could pique their interest.