Happy Saturday everyone! For the first time in months I can’t welcome you to any week of the college football regular season because, well, that’s all over.
We do have the annual game between Army and Navy today, and I encourage everyone to watch it.
But in this lull between the regular season and the start of Bowl Season, I thought I’d take the opportunity to take a look at the New York Giants top draft needs heading in to the final quarter of the NFL season.
Need - Quarterback
Okay, this is might be a potential need, and Kyle Lauletta might render it moot. However, the hit rates on players selected outside of the top three rounds being what they are (not good), we need to consider quarterback to be a need until it isn’t.
- Justin Herbert (Oregon)*
- Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State)*
- Daniel Jones (Duke)*
Okay, so there are three quarterbacks who could be available when the Giants select in the first round — probably somewhere around seventh or eighth overall. However, it is also entirely possible that each of them returns to school. They all have eligibility remaining, and each of them could stand more development before entering the NFL.
So, what are some other options?
The Giants could look to Will Grier (West Virginia) or Drew Lock (Missouri) with their second round pick if one falls. They could also use one of their (many) Day Three picks on Brett Rypien of Boise State (one of Mark Schofield’s favorites) and let him compete with Lauletta.
Need - Offensive Line
Anyone who has watched the Giants this year knows that their offensive line rebuild hasn’t exactly gone according to plan. Will Hernandez looks like a building block for the future, and the Giants were unreasonably lucky to land Jamon Brown mid-season.
But with Nate Solder locked in at left tackle, Hernandez at left guard, and Brown a likely priority to re-sign in free agency, that leaves center and right tackle as areas of obvious improvement.
Jonah Williams (OT, Alabama) is the obvious candidate for the Giants. Williams is a polished technician with the movement skills, play strength, and tenacity to play on the edge in the NFL. He is already getting dinged for his size, but that won’t present a problem at the next level. If, however, the Giants feel a player at another position presents a greater value, they could look to the second round.
David Edwards (RT, Wisconsin) and Cody Ford (RT, Oklahoma) are the obvious candidates for the Giants’ second round pick. Edwards is an athletic and powerful former tight end who has the feet to hang in pass protection and has plenty of experience blocking for Wisconsin’s run-based pro-style offense. Ford comes from Oklahoma’s spread offense, but he is a BIG (334 pounds) tackle who is notoriously powerful and nasty — to the point where he has been compared to a grizzly bear playing offensive line.
Should the Giants instead look to finish the interior of their offensive line, Jake Hanson (OC, Oregon) and Garrett Brumfield (IOL, LSU) are two players to watch. Hanson doesn’t have great feet for a center, but he has good hand usage and is excellent at controlling defenders once locked on. Brumfield could play center or guard, but listed at 299 and with top-notch athleticism, he might be of most use moving to center at the next level.
Need - Pass Rusher
Even though the Giants got bunches of sacks agaisnt the Houston Texans and more recently the Chicago Bears, nobody should confuse them for a team with a good pass rush. They need to find one this off-season. Olivier Vernon has not played up to expectations this year, and Lorenzo Carter is still finding his way as he works to tap into his full potential, while Kareem Martin and Connor Barwin haven’t been major factors in the Giants’ pass rush. In fact, rookie DT B.J. Hill has easily been the Giants’ biggest threat rushing the passer.
They have likely played themselves out of drafting Nick Bosa, but there are plenty of options in this draft. In fact, from a pure value and supply perspective, this seams like it could be the best bet for the Giants’ first pick.
Clelin Ferrell (EDGE, Clemson) is generally considered the best EDGE player behind Bosa, and he presents prototypical size and length for the position (6’5”, 260) with great movement skills and plenty of bend to force the issue around tackles. He is also a precise, efficient, and surprisingly technically advanced rusher who can get the job done with skill as well as athleticism.
The Giants could also look to Josh Allen (EDGE/OLB, Kentucky) who might give them more options in their “multiple” defense. Allen is not only a highly productive edge rusher, but he also has the movement skills to be an off-ball linebacker as well as a down-hill pass rusher. If Lorenzo Carter is able to continue to improve and realize his potential, the two could be a formidable duo. In terms of raw pass rushing firepower off the edge, we should also mention Jachai Polite (EDGE, Florida). Polite is anything but when he comes off the edge. He is probably the fastest and most explosive rusher in the class, which should intrigue a defense which is sorely lacking in speed rushers.
Of course, a defense doesn’t just get pass rush off the edge, it can also get it from the interior (just ask the Los Angeles Rams). Enter Ed Oliver (DL, Houston) and Jeffery Simmons (DT, Mississippi State)
Oliver will enter the league as one of the top two or three athletes on the defensive interior. And while he doesn’t have the polish with which Aaron Donald had upon entering the NFL, if anything, his athletic potential is even higher.
Simmons is a longer defensive tackle with plenty of power and athleticism as a rusher. He hasn’t gotten the buzz which Oliver and Quinnen Williams have gotten, but he has quietly been disruptive this year.
Need - Free Safety
Curtis Riley just isn’t getting it done at free safety, and his issues are impacting everyone who lines up in front of him. It forced the Giants to play Landon Collins away from his strengths, put greater stress on the linebackers as well as the cornerbacks. It also made the defense more vulnerable to big plays when he was out of position or took a bad angle to the ball.
A blitz-heavy defense, particularly one which believes in man coverage, simply can not hide bad free safety play. So their only option is to improve it.
The best safety in the draft just so happens to line up with the Giants (projected) draft slot. That would be Deionte Thompson out of Alabama. Thompson fits the Giants’ physical mold perfectly and is a ball-hawking playmaker who can roam all over the field. Also, he comes from a schematically similar (and very well coached) defense in Alabama, so the learning curve should be at a minimum.
Ugo Amadi of Oregon and Taylor Rapp of Washington both intrigue as potential second round picks. They are both safeties who excel in coverage and can come down and play the slot in certain packages and looks. They are also both playmakers who know how to generate turnovers.
Need - Cornerback
I won’t belabor this one too much. If you listened to the latest edition of the Big Blue Pod Cast, you know my (and Dan’s) thoughts on the postion.
The Giants’ cornerback situation might be decent enough if they retain Janoris Jenkins, Sam Beal emerges as the player we hoped he would be when he was selected over the summer, and Grant Haley continues his impressive improvement. If that happens, B.W. Webb would likely become the Giants’ third or fourth cornerback, which is about right for a savvy, but limited, veteran.
However, the position becomes a need if the Giants opt to move on from Jenkins for cap reasons, or if Beal is a greater question mark than we know.
The top corner in the draft, LSU’s Greedy Williams, would fit hand-in-glove in the Giants’ defense. He has the length, technique, long speed, quick feet, and fluid hips to play in any coverage scheme. He isn’t a great (not to be confused with unwilling) tackler, but is otherwise a talented playmaker.
The Giants should probably spend at least one of their Day Three picks on a cornerback. Not only do they need the depth (and developmental players), but it will also help to continue to keep their special teams well supplied with athletes. Players like Julian Love of Notre Dame, Trevon Diggs of Alabama, or Rock Ya-Sin of Temple might intrigue in the fourth round and beyond.