The 2017 NFL Draft is officially less than a month away (three weeks, 6 days to be more precise).
While we’re keeping an eye on who mock drafters are generally selecting for the New York Giants, we don’t want to overwhelm you with reactions to all the mock drafts flooding the internet. We generally reserve those for the ones produced by those who have wide reaching access and contacts within the league (ie: Daniel Jeremiah, Mel Kiper, and the like).
But when somebody working for a major outlet puts in the time and work to produce a five-round mock draft. Well, that deserves a bit of attention. That’s just what NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter released on Thursday.
So without further ado, let’s get to it.
23rd Overall - Ryan Ramczyk (OT, Wisconsin)
55th Overall - Tanoh Kpassagnon (DE, Villanova)
87th Overall - Bucky Hodges (TE, Virginia Tech)
140th Overall - D.J. Jones (DT, Ole Miss)
167th Overall - Brad Kaaya (QB, Miami)
Raptor’s Take - Let’s start with Reuter’s explanation for his first pick, Ryan Ramczyk. About Ramczyk he says “Ereck Flowers is obviously not the answer at left tackle; Ramcyzk will be.”
I have no issues with Ramczyk as the selection — I think it would be a good one and let the Giants finally have continuity on the offensive line at a season-to-season level, rather than hoping for just continuity within a season. But at this point, Flowers likely IS the answer at left tackle. The team has to play the hand they’re dealt, but it isn’t without hope. Flowers showed definite growth at the start of the season, before being shredded by the Green Bay Packers’ combination of veteran savvy and athleticism. But in that four game stretch, Flowers faced good and varied pass rushers in Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith, Cameron Jordan, and Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter. Through that stretch, Pro Football Focus had this to say about Flowers.
“There may be no bigger turnaround in performance from a season ago than that of Giants LT Ereck Flowers, who was disastrous as a rookie while struggling through an injury all year. In 2016, however, he has been impressive, allowing no sacks through four games and run blocking extremely well.”
At this point it makes more sense to (try to) build on that and fix the right side of the line once and for all, than to move Flowers and change the technique he doesn’t yet fully trust and change the chemistry he obviously relies on.
2nd Round - Tanoh Kpassagnon
I recognize the tools that Kpassagnon brings to the table and whatever team drafts him. A year ago I looked at Romeo Okwara and just knew that he was going to be a Giant. I’ll admit, I was expecting him to be the 5th round special (the round the Giants seem to designate for locking up one priority under-the-radar player they don’t want to risk in the chaos of the late rounds and undrafted free agency).
Kpassagnon’s blend of size, power, and first step are impressive and he immediately stands out in a crowd.
However, I think the second round is a bit too rich for him, considering he is still putting the pieces together. Also, I legitimately wonder if he has the fluidity to play in the Giants’ defense. While he has the size and first step that are reminiscent of Jason Pierre-Paul and Ziggy Ansah, at 6’7”, 290 pounds and legitimately bad 3-cone (7.46s) and short shuttle (4.62) times, I have to wonder if he will ever have the flexibility to actually make use of his tools. He might be better off playing a 1-gap 5 technique for 3-4 Under team. If he can put the pieces together, he could have a ceiling similar to JPP or Ansah. If he can’t get traction and apply his athleticism, he looks more like Margus Hunt.
3rd Round - Bucky Hodges
Considering I have Hodges as a dark horse to potentially be surprise first round selection, I have to praise this pick. We have heard for some time that the Giants are interested in Hodges, and they met with him at the Combine. With only three years as a tight end, and thanks to an offensive scheme that played him all over the formation, Hodges is raw as a blocker and a route runner. However, he has one of the highest athletic upsides of any receiving option in the draft, and has been praised for his football IQ. Hodges is willing as a blocker and going over the middle, and he understands the game from an offensive perspective. If he can continue to hone his craft as a technician, he could be the steal of the draft in the 3rd round.
4th Round - D.J. Jones
I’ll admit, I haven’t had the opportunity to dig in to Jones’ tape much yet. However in general, the Giants almost need to draft a defensive tackle at some point this year. As it stands right now, Damon Harrison is their only DT under contract past 2017, and even if they come to terms with Johnathan Hankins, the position will still need to be addressed.
Jones looks like a big nose tackle, but he moves remarkably well for a player expected to be the rock in the middle of the defense. He also has a reputation as a monstrously powerful young man, and described as “very, very quick twitched” by Hugh Freeze. Jones was ranked the 14th strongest player in the nation by NFL.com a year ago. The Giants like their offensive linemen and defensive tackles to be strong, and the powerful and athletic Jones could appeal.
5th Round - Brad Kaaya
Coming in to this season I thought Kaaya had a chance to be one of the top quarterbacks in the draft. He has fought through a diminishing supporting cast and managed to improve every year as a starter in a pro style offense, which points to solid intangibles. Physically, he has the frame, arm strength, and general accuracy you want from an NFL passer. The one, and biggest problem, is that he absolutely NEEDS a clean pocket in which to work. If Kaaya’s protection starts to break down, his game crumbles with it. At some point every NFL quarterback faces pressure (and for most it’s more often than not), and the Giants might not want to turn to a quarterback who has a tendency to resemble David Carr at his worst.
At this point I think I’d turn to Jerod Evans of Virginia Tech, who isn’t yet the passer that Kaaya is, but has intriguing physical tools to develop, or look to another position. Perhaps Jalen Myrick (CB, Minnesota) who goes with the next pick. The Giants have expressed some interest in quarterback Antonio Pipkin of Tiffin, meeting with him at the Senior Bowl.