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Mel Kiper mock draft 3.0: Sam Darnold to Giants at No. 2

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Browns get Josh Allen at No. 1, Saquon Barkley at No. 4

If Sam Darnold is indeed the quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft class that the New York Giants like the most, Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft [ESPN INsider] is the perfect scenario for the Giants. In it, the Cleveland Browns take Wyoming QB Josh Allen No. 1 and the Giants pounce on Darnold with the second overall pick.

Here is how Kiper explained his rationale for both picks:

Cleveland Browns (No. 1 overall)

Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

No change here from my first two mock drafts. The Browns are zeroing in on a quarterback with the first overall pick, and Allen has crushed the pre-draft process. The addition of Tyrod Taylor allows Allen, who is the most raw of the top quarterback prospects in this class, to sit on the sidelines and adjust to the speed of the NFL. Cleveland doesn’t have to play Allen immediately, which really hurt DeShone Kizer in 2017.

New York Giants (No. 2 overall)

Sam Darnold, QB, USC

The Giants are in a good spot here. If they don’t love one of these quarterbacks, they can solicit trade offers to move down and pick the best player available. They have needs at several positions, including pass-rusher (they just dealt Jason Pierre-Paul) and running back (I went with Saquon Barkley here in Mock Draft 2.0). New York, however, also needs its quarterback of the future, and new coach Pat Shurmur was among the Giants contingent that met with Darnold before his pro day workout. The G-Men could stick with Eli Manning in 2018 and move on to Darnold in 2019.

Valentine’s View

In all honesty, I think this is the scenario that the Giants are hoping for. Those who have been following our draft coverage know that Darnold is my top quarterback. From what I’ve heard, I also believe he is the quarterback the Giants really want out of the top-tier guys.

We can argue all we want about Saquon Barkley, Bradley Chubb and Quenton Nelson. If the top-rated quarterback on the Giants’ board is there at No. 2, the guy they truly believe can be the successor to Eli Manning, that’s a move they have to make.

Raptor’s Take

Kiper’s persistent crush on Josh Allen nets the Giants’ the player who is, if rumors are to be believed, the apple of their eye.

Darnold has prototypical size, solid athleticism, the ability to make plays outside of the structure of the offense when things break down, and has shown evidence of a ‘clutch gene.’ Darnold also has the “laid back” personality that serves as a suit of armor against the slings and barbs of the New York media.

But while he has significant upside, Darnold also has significant issues that need to be addressed by the coaching staff. He gets the ball out quickly, but he still has a long looping release and questionable mechanics that contributed to his turnover problems last season. He also needs to hone the mental aspect of the position.

I still believe that Darnold should have stayed in school for at least another year, but Eli Manning is still in place to give Pat Shurmur, noted quarterback whisperer, time to develop him. From Darnold’s perspective, this is an ideal situation. The Giants wouldn’t know how ideal it is for at least a year.

For what it’s worth, Josh Rosen went to the New York Jets No. 3, Barkley went to the Browns at No. 4, Baker Mayfield went No. 5 to the Denver Broncos and Chubb went No. 6 to the Indianapolis Colts in Kiper’s mock.