With 2018 upon us and Draft Season well and truly here for the New York Giants, it’s time for our first mock draft.
We are getting more underclassmen declaring for the 2018 NFL Draft each day, but it is still just a bit silly to do a mock draft before we know which players will be in the draft — not to mention before we know what the Giants’ coaching staff will even look like.
BUT ... It’s that time of year, and these things are supposed to be fun. For my first mock of the year, and the only one in absence of a coaching staff, I’ll be taking the reins of the Giants’ draft, rather than trying to think what they will do.
If there is one silver lining to the black cloud that hung over Giants Stadium in 2017, it’s that we don’t have long to wait or far to go to get to the Giants’ picks in each round.
- Cleveland Browns - Sam Darnold (QB, USC) - Early indications are that Darnold is the likely top pick in the draft. He has all the measurables and flashes star upside, however there are also issues in his game. He probably would have been better served with a situation where he could sit and learn, but Cleveland couldn’t not take a quarterback here.
- New York Giants - TRADE! - Giants trade their first pick with the Denver Broncos for their 2018 first-round pick, 2018 second-round pick, and future consideration - Josh Rosen (QB, UCLA) - Rosen is the other contender for top QB in the draft, and he has a real chance to go first overall. However, while Rosen is obviously talented and the most mechanically sound of the prospects, there are concerns about him as well. The Giants are less desperate for a quarterback than the Broncos currently are, and the opportunity to add picks while staying in the Top-5 is an attractive one for a team that wants to add talent at a variety of spots.
- Indianapolis Colts - Quenton Nelson (OG, Notre Dame) - Fans might say that third overall is too high for a guard, but Andrew Luck would probably be thrilled to get the best lineman in the nation after having a season cut short by internal injuries then having to go to Europe to get his throwing shoulder fixed this past year.
- Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans) - Saquon Barkley (RB, Penn State) - The best thing you can do for a young quarterback is give him a running game. The Browns have Josh Gordon at wide receiver and Duke Johnson is more of a slot-back than a running back. Barkley is a freakish running back who is also a dangerous receiver. If David Njoku can develop, they will actually have a nice supporting cast in place for Sam Darnold.
- Denver Broncos - Trade! - New York Giants - Baker Mayfield (QB, Oklahoma) - At this point we don’t know who the Giants’ head coach will be, nor what their preference for a quarterback will be. However, I didn’t want to let the first round pass without taking a top QB, and as it so happens, my top quarterback in the draft class is sitting right here. Mayfield is short, but not undersized for the position, but he makes up for it with good mobility to scramble and extend plays, as well as a strong arm to drive passes to all areas of the field. He also shows the benefits of a quarterback using all of his eligibility, as he is already mechanically sound and mentally advanced. He shows patience in his progressions and commitment to manipulating coverages with his eyes. Mayfield is known for his hyper-competitive nature, and can be very aggressive in his decision making, but is not normally reckless with the ball. He would also benefit from sitting behind Eli Manning and learning the nuances of a Pro Style offense as well as dealing with the New York media.
- New York Jets - Lamar Jackson (QB, Louisville) - The Jets have expressed interest in re-signing Josh McCown, while moving on from both Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg. Jackson is a talented athlete who has improved as a passer each of the last three seasons and would be a good prospect to develop behind McCown. Jackson might return from school, but for now I’ll give him to the Jets
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Bradley Chubb (DE, NC State) - Unlike most of the teams ahead of them, the Buccaneers already have a young quarterback in place. What they need is a pass rush. But, they benefit from the run on QB’s and land the top DE in the draft. Chubb has a prototypical build, good technique, and is a good athleticism. He could have an impact similar to Joey Bosa.
- Chicago Bears - Calvin Ridley (WR, Alabama) - Without knowing who Chicago’s next head coach will be, I didn’t know which receiver the Bears would lean towards. However, they need to get a weapon for Mitchell Trubisky, and Ridley was well-coached in college and has the ability to take the top off a defense, which would help Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen.
- San Francisco 49ers - Conner Williams (OT, Texas) - I will not make the obvious pun regarding the 49ers striking gold by acquiring Jimmy Garrapolo for a second round pick. But despite being undefeated with him at quarterback, they need to support him. SMU’s Courtland Sutton (another candidate for top WR) is possible, but I decided to go with the offensive line. Williams was great in 2016, but regressed before being injured in 2017. Luckily, he returned to form when he returned from injury. Williams is a long, athletic tackle who plays with a definite nasty streak.
- Oakland Raiders - Minkah Fitzpatrick (DB, Alabama) - Fitzpatrick could go almost anywhere in the first 10 picks, depending on his combine performance. But here he goes to a team in desperate need of help on defense. Fitzpatrick is a smart and dedicated playmaker, with the versatility to likely be able to play corner or safety.
- Miami Dolphins - Roquan Smith (LB, Georgia) - Smith is a bit undersized, but he is the heart of Georgia’s defense. Smart, athletic, and rangy, Smith is a tackling machine and a factor in the pass rush, pass coverage, and run defense.
- Cincinnati Bengals - Mike McGlinchey (OT, Notre Dame) - McGlinchey isn’t the prospect that Quenton Nelson is, nor does he have Williams’ athletic upside. But his is a long, smart, and nasty blocker. The Bengals need to replenish their offensive line, and McGlinchey has experience at both right and left tackle.
- Washington Redskins - Derwin James (S, Florida State) - James could wind up going much higher than this, and there are those who rate him as a top-5 prospect. He has terrific size and athleticism, and could be a difference maker on the Washington defense.
- Green Bay Packers - Vita Vea (DT, Washington) - Green Bay will be rebuilding their defense with a new defensive coordinator this off-season, and adding big, powerful defensive tackle with rare movement skills is a good starting point. Vea might look like a nose tackle, but he might be at his best attacking a single gap and disrupting in the backfield.
- Arizona Cardinals - Mason Rudolph (QB, Oklahoma State) - After the dual retirement of both Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer, the Cardinals suddenly wish they were in the Giants’ shoes instead of drafting in the middle of the round. The Cardinals absolutely need need a quarterback and Rudolph is an interesting prospect who looks like an NFL quarterback and put up some big numbers, but also has some puzzling holes in his game. He could blossom under the right coach.
- Baltimore Ravens - James Washington (WR, Oklahoma State) - The Ravens need to restock the armory for Joe Flacco. They could go for Courtland Sutton here, but they went the smaller school, big receiver route with Breshad Perriman and he has 43 catches for 576 yards and 3 touchdowns in three years. Washington isn’t a prototypical “X” receiver, but he is reliable, runs good routes, has solid hands, and will likely out-play his measurables.
- Los Angeles Chargers - Josh Allen (QB, Wyoming) - This is probably the best type of situation for Allen. He probably has the best tools in the draft, but he needs to go to a situation where he can be rebuilt from the ground up. While he is capable of the occasional “wow” throw, his mechanics are sloppy and it has a massive effect on his accuracy and consistency.
- Seattle Seahawks - Billy Price (C/G, Ohio State) - The Seahawks first (and probably second, and third) priority has to be rebuilding an offensive line that likely had Russell Wilson looking at Eli Manning with jealousy. Price is among the best linemen in the draft and would be a rock in the middle around which they can build.
- Dallas Cowboys - Courtland Sutton (WR, SMU) - Dez Bryant just isn’t the receiver he used to be. Like Hakeem Nicks, injuries (a broken foot in particular) have taken their toll. Sutton is a big-bodied target for Dak Prescott who dominated his level of competition.
- Detroit Lions - Clelin Ferrell (DE, Clemson) - Ziggy Ansah is a free agent and his price tag could find him landing in another city. Even if he stays, Ferrell is a solid addition. He is long, lean, athletic, and stands out even on a strong Clemson defensive line.
- Buffalo Bills - Christian Wilkins (DT, Clemson) - Another pair of teammates go back-to-back as the Bills get a replacement for Marcell Dareus. Wilkins is athletic and disruptive in the middle, traits which Sean McDermott certainly grew to appreciate with Kawaan Short in Carolina.
- Atlanta Falcons - Da’Ron Payne (DT, Alabama) - Payne is a big, powerful lineman who specializes in dominating the line of scrimmage. If Dontari Poe leaves via free agency, that could open a hole for a player like Payne, and with both the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints focusing on running the ball, stout run defense is a must.
- Tennessee Titans - Sam Hubbard (DE, Ohio State) - Hubbard is an interesting prospect, and fit, in Dick LeBeau’s defense. A 4-3 defensive end at Ohio State, he was a safety when he arrived on campus. He still has impressive athleticism and movement skills despite weighing around 260 pounds, and should be able to play rush linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
- Carolina Panthers - Orlando Brown Jr. (OT, Oklahoma) - Brown is simply a massive human being, a mauler in the run game and surprisingly light-footed in pass protection. Matt Kalil was signed to a 5-year contract last year, but as he never lived up to his first-round draft status in Minnesota, he hasn’t lived up to the contract in Carolina. Brown could start at right tackle and eventually move to left, or provide immediate competition for Kalil.
- Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs) - Malik Jefferson (LB, Texas) - Jefferson is a rangy and athletic linebacker. He isn’t the most instinctive defender, but he is also just scratching the surface of his potential.
- New Orleans Saints - Maurice Hurst (DT, Michigan) - It took a while for Hurst to realize his potential at Michigan, but the wait has been worth it. He is a twitchy and disruptive interior defender and could be a terror paired with Cam Jordan — who plays far too many snaps anyway.
- Jacksonville Jaguars - Mark Andrews (TE, Oklahoma) - Marcedes Lewis is 33 years old, 34 at the start of next season. He has been a good player in the NFL, and can still get it done (5 touchdowns on the season), but the Jags could still use a tight end for the future. Andrews is a reliable target who can attack defenses and has the size to be a capable run blocker at the next level.
- Los Angeles Rams - Joshua Jackson (CB, Iowa) - The Rams have a disruptive defensive line, highlighted by Aaron Donald. Jackson made a name for himself this season with his next-level ball skills (including an interception against Ohio State that Odell Beckham Jr. would be proud of), and he could feast on a passing game harried by that defensive line.
- Pittsburgh Steelers - Jerome Baker (LB, Ohio State) - The spinal injury to Ryan Shazier was scary, and hit the Steelers hard. Shazier’s future in football is in question and the Steelers could use another athletic linebacker in the middle of their defense. It might be a bit gauche, but Baker was Shazier’s successor in that role at Ohio State, and he could be again here as well.
- Minnesota Vikings - Mason Cole (OL, Michigan) - Cole has played all over the offensive line for the Wolverines, and the Vikings could use help at offensive tackle or guard. Cole’s versatility gives them the option to line him up wherever he fits best.
- Philadelphia Eagles - Denzel Ward (CB, Ohio State) - The Eagles’ defense got shredded by the Giants’ passing attack at the end of the 2017 season. That should be enough motivation to upgrade the secondary. Ward is unpolished and slight of build, but he is an explosive athlete who can easily stay in a receiver’s hip pocket.
- New England Patriots - Harold Landry (DE/OLB, Boston College) - The Patriots tried to acquire Kony Ealy before last year’s draft, but quickly released him when they realized that he wasn’t a scheme fit. Landry is a more explosive player with the size to play either defensive end or outside linebacker. He was hampered by injury in 2017, but was a wrecking ball of an edge rusher in 2016, to the tune of 16.5 sacks and 22.0 tackles for a loss.
Giants’ Day 2 Picks
34th Overall - Jamarco Jones (OT, Ohio State) - Jones is flying a bit under the radar, but I like his tape. He has good (but not great) size for an offensive lineman, but is a generally technically sound, a fluid mover, and tenacious in both pass protection and run blocking.
37th Overall (via Denver Broncos, round one trade) - Nick Chubb (RB, Georgia) - The Giants’ running game will likely change depending on who is hired as their head coach. However, Chubb provides an element of power, explosiveness, and track speed that Wayne Gallman, Orleans Darkwa, and Paul Perkins lack. If the Giants move away from a running game built around the inside zone, Sony Michel would be the pick here.
66th Overall - Rashaan Evans (LB, Alabama) - After addressing the offensive line in the second round, Dave Gettleman earns a statue from Giants’ fans by drafting a linebacker in the third round. Evans has the size the Giants like in their defenders, the athleticism to be a three-down defender, and experience in a sophisticated defense. As a bonus, Alabama defenders have certainly worked out well for the Giants in recent years. (note: Evans is a strong candidate to rise over the course of the draft process)