April doesn’t just mark the start of spring (supposedly, according to the calendar, anyway), but it also means that the 2018 NFL Draft is less than a month away. That, of course, means that “Mock Draft Season” is careening ahead at a pace that leaves “fever pitch” in the rear view mirror.
When we started draft season it seemed as though the New York Giants would be boring with the second overall pick. I think we can safely say that it is no longer that. Here is a look at the latest ESPN mock draft, a dual effort from both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay.
Mel Kiper Jr.
2. New York Giants - Sam Darnold (QB, USC)
Darnold won’t have to play early, giving him time refine his mechanics and footwork. Unless the G-Men get a trade offer they can’t refuse.
34. New York Giants - Derrius Guice (RB, LSU)
2. Buffalo Bills - Josh Allen (QB, Wyoming) *TRADE!
*Giants get picks 12, 22, and 53
12. New York Giants - Tremaine Edmunds (LB, Virginia Tech)
With their first pick in the draft after the trade with Buffalo, the Giants get a versatile player who can play any linebacker spot in their new 3-4 defense. New York hasn’t taken a first-round LB since Carl Banks in 1984, but Edmunds breaks the streak.
22. New York Giants - James Daniels (OC, Iowa)
New York signed Nate Solder to be its left tackle and now solidifies the interior of the offensive line with Daniels, who could start at center or guard.
34. New York Giants - Derrius Guice (RB, LSU) [Prospect Profile]
53. New York Giants - Harrison Phillips (DT, Stanford) [Prospect Profile]
Mel Kiper’s draft was by the numbers, and he continues to insist on Josh Allen being the first pick in the draft, and a chance at a “home run” for the Cleveland Browns — Something McShay says is a mistake. From there he has the Giants select Sam Darnold by default.
As he notes, Darnold wouldn’t have to play early in his career, which is the best possible scenario for him. He still has to clean up his mechanics and throwing motion, and can use whatever time Eli Manning can afford him.
Much more interesting is McShay’s decision to break their “handshake agreement” and has trades at the top of the draft. He has the Giants moving down with the Bills, saying they could get as many as three first round picks for the second overall pick.
He gives the Giants two of the most talented athletes (at their positions) in the draft in Edmunds and Daniels. Edmunds is an incredibly intriguing outside linebacker with a sky-high athletic ceiling on a 6’5”, 250 pound frame, at 19 years old. He immediately slots in as an oversized WILL linebacker opposite Olivier Vernon bringing plenty of run and chase athleticism, the ability to drop in coverage, and the upside to be a dangerous pass rusher. Edmunds reminds me of nobody so much as Cowboys’ left tackle Tyron Smith coming out of USC. Talented and obviously athletic, but also still not yet the sum of his parts. He is a big, long legged puppy with paws like snow shoes — He’s impressive now, but you just know he’s going to grow into a monster.
Daniels is in the conversation for the best center in the draft — Billy Price being the other candidate, and then the conversation hinges on a team’s blocking scheme. He would immediately start in the middle for the Giants, moving Brett Jones over to compete with John Jerry and Patrick Omameh for the left guard job. Daniels has tremendous movement skills (almost looking too athletic for his college offensive line, at times) and should be a natural fit in a zone blocking scheme. It should be noted that Pat Shurmur’s Vikings ran more outside zone than any other team in 2017.
Derrius Guice, who was mocked to the Giants by both analysts, might be the best pure runner in this draft class. He brings an element of power to the offense that it now lacks. He has great vision and a smooth one-cut style that would fit well with the anticipated running scheme.
Harrison Phillips is likely a value pick at this point. the Giants are loaded at the 5-tech position, with four players all vying for a spot — and that’s not counting Olivier Vernon and Dalvin Tomlinson who could also play the position. Phillips is an incredibly powerful player who is a force in the run game and disrupts pockets in the passing game.
I have to raise the quarterback question with regards to McShay’s draft. Obviously, he is taking the Giants at their word that they are “All In” on Eli Manning’s remaining years, and is doing what he can to add as much talent as possible to the roster. However, he passes twice (three times) on Lamar Jackson in the first round, who goes 29th overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. He then passes on Mason Rudolph at the top of the second, as well as Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta who isn’t in the second round at all. Selecting one of those quarterbacks could give the Giants a high-upside project to compete with Davis Webb and help secure the future of the franchise.
Jackson would give the Giants one of the most unique quarterback prospects to enter the league in a long time. He is a much better passer than he gets credit for, the upside to be a great fit in a West Coast or Erhardt-Perkins offense, while also bringing an ability to extend plays which Giants fans haven’t seen since the days of Fran Tarkenton.
Lauletta is an interesting prospect who’s name is starting to generate a buzz as the draft approaches. He is smart, high mental processing, throws with accuracy and anticipation, is good athlete, and has experience in pro style concepts. He doesn’t have the arm strength of some of the top prospects, but he will properly execute the plays he can run.