The 2017 NFL Draft is only a little more than a week away. Only a little more than seven days speculation left until we start finding out who the newest New York Giants will be.
As we’ve built up to the draft we’ve taken a look at ten potential offensive players the Giants could draft and ten defensive players they could potentially pick.
This week I want to take a look at ten “dark horse” prospects who, for one reason or another, might not be getting much consideration for the Giants at 23rd overall, but could wind up being the pick.
1 - Cam Robinson (OT, Alabama)
There is a belief right now that the Giants want to come away from the draft with a lineman who has starting offensive tackle upside. For most of the draft process it has been either Garret Bolles or Ryan Ramczyk who have been picked in this slot. However, it’s possible that both could be gone, or that neither is the apple of the Giants’ eye.
Robinson has a lot of traits that the Giants covet in linemen. He is big, long, young, has started plenty of games, can shut down elite pass rushers, and is a mauling run blocker. Just physically, he fits their first round profile better than either of the other two top tackles, and the idea of pairing two massive, powerful, and athletic tackles in Flowers and Robinson could be appealing.
He has some bad habits and inconsistencies which are worrying, but we should consider that the Giants might overlook them or decide that he can be coached through them.
2 - Forrest Lamp (OL, WKU)
Lamp might not fit the Giants’ archetype for a first round selection, but he does fit the mold of their two best linemen — Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg.
In fact, as a slightly undersized but technically sound left tackle with a nasty streak, he fits the mold of some of the most successful offensive line picks in recent drafts, such as Pugh, Zack Martin, Joel Bitonio, Brian Winters, and Cody Whitehair.
The Giants added D.J. Fluker, who has played both right guard and right tackle in his time in the NFL, and Lamp could come in and play whichever position Fluker doesn’t. That tactic would provide instant competition at both right guard and right tackle, which could only serve to improve both spots.
3 - Corey Davis (WR, WMU)
This pick is more about a player who could unexpectedly fall into the Giants’ lap.
Davis is viewed by more than few draft analysts as the top wide receiver in the draft class. As such, it would normally be lunacy to think that he could drop all the way to 23rd overall. However, a few factors are working in the Giants’ favor here.
The first is his level of competition. Davis dominated for four years playing for Western Michigan, but that is only to be expected for NFL prospects playing at lower levels. Because of that, they were eager to see him against bigger school products at the Senior Bowl. However a late ankle injury has prevented Davis from working out at all in the draft process. Not only has that prevented a comparison for scouts, but an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude could develop.
If teams decide they don’t want to take a chance, or are more comfortable with a player they have seen and worked out first-hand, Davis could have a surprising draft-night slide.
4 - Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)
McCaffrey is probably the darkest of our dark horses. In fact, if you asked Spinal Tap, how much darker of a dark horse he could be the answer would likely be “none more dark, really.”
McCaffrey would add a spark of explosiveness to the Giants’ running, passing, and return game. The problem is that he would do the same for the 22 teams drafting ahead of the Giants. The saving grace for why he is even remotely in consideration at 23rd overall is the general devaluation of the running back position, and the massive number of talented players at premium positions in the draft, and teams’ hesitancy to take chances on players without defined roles at the next level.
The odds aren’t great that McCaffrey could fall to 23rd overall, and he is even being talked about as a potential Top 10 pick. However, draft night rarely goes as planned.
5 - Jordan Willis (DE, Kansas State)
One of the constants of Jerry Reese’s drafts is a willingness to “reach” for players that aren’t on media evaluators’ radar for the Giants’ pick. Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Pugh, Odell Beckham Jr., Ereck Flowers, and Eli Apple were all considered reaches and discounted as lower picks by the national media.
They all have youth and athleticism in common, even if they weren’t the most productive players at their position in college.
Willis checks a lot of those same boxes. Despite being a four-year senior he doesn’t turn 22 years old until May 2. He was productive the last two years for Kansas State, but he didn’t stack the box score the way some other edge rushers have. But what he did do was light up the NFL scouting combine the way few defensive ends ever have.
The Giants need to add some speed and explosiveness to their pass rush, and Willis stunned observers with an athleticism they just did not see coming. That blend of traits doesn’t last long in the draft, and if the Giants want him, the will likely have to take him in the first round.
6 - T.J. Watt (EDGE, Wisconsin)
Watt doesn’t just have a famous last name. He has some of the greatest upside of any player in the draft.
Despite only being a defender for the last 18 months, he became a feared pass rusher this past year. In his first (and only) season as a starter he racked up 15.5 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks, an interception, and two forced fumbles.
That level of production on almost no experience is impressive, but he is also a tremendous athlete and a tenacious player. Watt could probably play outside linebacker or defensive end and will only get better with more coaching and experience.
7 - Tyus Bowser (OLB, Houston)
The Giants could certainly use help at the linebacker position, and might be looking to remedy missing out on Leonard Floyd in the 2016 draft.
Bowser is moves well in space and can drop into coverage, but also has the explosiveness and flexibility to be a dangerous pass rusher as either a blitzing linebacker or as a defensive end.
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo loves to mix up looks and disguise where pressure will come from in his defense. Bowser would not only give him an explosive rusher to send after quarterbacks from a variety of positions, but a flexible player who doesn’t always have to be rushing.
8 - Haason Reddick (OLB, Temple)
No prospect has helped their stock more than Haason Reddick. It is entirely possible, even likely, that he does not make it to 23rd overall. Athletic linebackers who can cover, clean up in the running game, and rush the quarterback are coveted by the NFL.
However, Reddick’s size and late conversion to linebacker (he only made the move at the Senior Bowl this year) could give enough teams pause that he could fall to the Giants.
Much the same as Watt or Bowser, Reddick would give the Giants an athletic and versatile three-down option on defense.
9 - Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)
There are a few defensive backs who could surprise and be in this slot, but Peppers’ athleticism, competitiveness, work ethic, and “Team First” mentality could capture the hearts of the Giants’ coaches.
While the safety position could be stacked with talent if everything works out, we should also consider the possibility that the Giants aren’t as sure as we would hope. Darian Thompson is coming back from a nagging foot injury, Nat Berhe has a concerning track record with concussions, and Andrew Adams might not be more than a good third safety.
If the Giants believe that the latter case is closer to the truth, they might look to add a safety.
10 - TRADE ALERT!
Jerry Reese has never moved in the first round. It isn’t because he doesn’t want to, but with the importance of nailing the first round pick, he has expressed a desire to make sure that the Giants get good value for their pick, whichever way they go.
There is mounting speculation that the 2017 draft could be rife with trades. A talented and deep draft, a plethora of quarterback-needy teams and an entire class of developmental quarterbacks all could set up a raucous first round.
The value might not be there for some of the higher drafting teams to draft a quarterback highly. However, there are also a few lower-drafting teams in need of quarterbacks. That could inspire a team drafting at the top of the second round to trade back into the first to jump a team like the Houston Texans or Kansas City Chiefs who could be looking for a quarterback for the future.