From January through the end of April we are bombarded with mock drafts. They might be vaguely pointless, but they give us a way to look at both the draft’s various prospects as well as the states of the 32 teams.
While mock drafts are generally anything but prophetic, they can have some useful information. Particularly when the drafter is someone like Mel Kiper Jr, who has contacts throughout the league informing his decisions is making the picks. That doesn’t mean that his picks are any more likely than anyone else’s, but the reasoning behind them might be closer to what some teams are thinking and NFL scouts are saying.
So, what is Kiper saying about the New York Giants?
23. New York Giants
Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
The Giants' 2007 and 2011 Super Bowl teams featured a fearsome pass-rushing rotation, and this would be an attempt to build out that rotation again. Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon are entrenched as starters -- and they have the big-money deals to show for it -- but they played too many snaps last season. Vernon had more than 1,000, and Pierre-Paul was on his way before a groin injury ended his season in December. Barnett had 33 sacks in three seasons for the Volunteers, and he's an all-around 4-3 end at 6-3, 259 pounds.
Raptor’s Take: I would be hard-pressed to quibble with this pick. With Ryan Ramczyk, Christian McCaffrey, Reuben Foster, David Njoku, and Forrest Lamp off the board in the previous eight picks, Barnett might not address a pressing need, but he presents solid value.
He had to impress gutting his way through the Combine after being bed-ridden with a nasty illness just the day before. Unfortunately, that also means that we don’t have a true measure of his athleticism relative to the rest of his stacked draft class. However, his work on the field speaks for itself, as does breaking the great Reggie White’s sack record as a Tennessee Volunteer.
After locking up both Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon, the Giants might not look like they need a highly-drafted pass rusher, but it could be an under-the-radar need. The twin issues of over-working their starters and a troubling inconsistency in turning pressures into sacks reared their heads time and again in 2016.
Part of the issue was likely the offense’s inability to really pressure the other team. That forced the Giants to rely on their defense, and especially their defensive starters, to carry the load. After all, If you’re putting the game in a unit’s hands, you probably want your starters on the field. As well, offenses were rarely (okay, never) forced to rely on the pass to play catch-up with the Giants’ offense. Both of those factors probably kept the Giants from rotating their linemen as freely as they might have liked. All that being said, adding another talented and complete defensive end can help make rotating the linemen more palatable.
Given the incredible depth of talented edge rushers in this draft class, it’s entirely possible that one could present far and away the best value when the Giants pick. Another name to keep an eye on is Kansas State’s Jordan Willis, who was solid on the field, but managed to out-test Jadeveon Clowney in every event at the Scouting Combine. That’s the kind of explosive athleticism the Giants could use more of on defense.