And while this might be good for team culture and (hopefully) establishing a foundation for improvement in 2020, it has definitely complicated the Giants’ offseason plans. Two weeks ago life was pretty simple: Draft second, draft the best player in the draft, who also happens to play one of the most important positions on the field and one of need for the Giants: Ohio State EDGE Chase Young.
But with Washington and the Detroit Lions likely drafting ahead of the Giants, it is unlikely that Young will drop out of the top three.
Considering the needs of these two teams, it’s also unlikely that Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas will fall as well. The Giants still have a path back into the top 2, but it is a narrow one that involves several unlikely wins. So with that in mind, let’s take a first look at some prospects who could be in play for the Giants if Young and Thomas aren’t on the board.
(For the sake of argument, we’ll assume that no teams trade up for a quarterback, that the Giants don’t trade up for Young, and that the Giants don’t trade down)
Jedrick Wills (OT, Alabama) or Tristan Wirfs (OT, Iowa)
I am lumping these two together for a couple reasons. They are very similar physically, with very similar games. They are both natural right tackles who excel at bullying defenders at the line of scrimmage before getting to the second level and mauling linebackers. They have similar, somewhat squatty builds at 6-foot-5 and roughly 320 pounds, but move well for their size and build. Conventional wisdom holds that the top 5 is far too early to draft a right tackle, but eventually conventional wisdom has to come to terms with the reality of football in 2020. With defenses routinely lining pass rushers like J.J. Watt, T.J. Watt, Von Miller, and Khalil Mack across from right tackles, that position is every bit as important as the left tackle.
Eventually there will be some separation between the two, but for right now it’s a matter of preference. Do GM’s weight Wills’ experience in the SEC, or the fact that Wirfs wasn’t surrounded by as much talent at Iowa? Either way, either would be an answer at right tackle for years to come.
Jerry Jeudy (WR, Alabama) or CeeDee Lamb (WR, Oklahoma)
Again, we have two players who should be close in the final rankings. While Wills and Wirfs are similar, Jeudy and Lamb’s respective value will be much more in the eye of the beholder. Both players are good, savvy route runners with the ability to create a big play at just about any time, but they go about it differently.
Jeudy is built like Amare Cooper and makes his hay with a sudden, quick-twitch athleticism. He has the quickness to create separation out of his breaks and the explosiveness to turn a sliver of daylight into a big gain. Lamb is a longer, smoother player who’s long strides gobble up yardage. His game — somewhat — reminds of A.J. Green. He has tremendous ball skills and impressive body control to maximize his catch radius and make circus catches look almost routine.
As with the two tackles, which player is rated more highly will likely depend on Combine testing and the exact scheme of the team evaluating them.
Isaiah Simmons (OBLB, Clemson)
Off-ball linebackers simply are not as valuable as their pass rushing comrades or cornerbacks. However, given how spread concepts have invaded the NFL, having a second-level player who excels in coverage huge tracts of field is always an asset. Simmons would have been knocked as a safety/linebacker “tweener” just a few years ago, but the ability of those kinds of players to play in space and combat the Air Raid and spread offense’s weaponization of spacing has made them very valuable.
Considering the running backs and tight ends in the division — and the NFL as a whole — Simmons would finally give the answer they have been looking for in the middle of their defense.
Value should be a consideration, as other players like Troy Dye, Kyle Duggar, Jeremy Chinn, or Antoine Brooks Jr. can fill the same role and be found later in the draft. Likewise, the Giants could try moving Jabrill Peppers to that role as well. All that being said, Simmons is a proven commodity at the position and presents a rare athletic upside.
Grant Delpit (S, LSU)
Converted cornerback Julian Love has played about as well as could be expected since Jabrill Peppers was injured. His experience as a cover corner helps him deal with slot receivers, running backs, and tight ends in coverage, and he has proven to be a very sound tackler for a rookie DB.
Love has played well enough that the Giants just haven’t missed Peppers at all on defense. Between that and the fact that Peppers has historically played better as a psuedo-linebacker than as a defensive back, the Giants could opt to leave Love as a starting safety, move Peppers to linebacker full time, and replace Antoine Bethea.
Enter Grant Delpit.
Delpit looked to be on his way to being the best safety prospect since Eric Berry at the end of 2018, but hasn’t taken the step everyone expected from him. He is still, however, the best safety prospect in the draft and still one of the best to come out since Berry. He has prototypical size and build, as well as plenty of range and experience to play a true free safety. He and Love could make for an intriguing combination and finally give the Giants the long-term answer at free safety they have been searching for since Kenny Phillips was diagnosed with a degenerative knee condition way back in 2009.
Jeffery Okudah (CB, Ohio State)
The Giants have invested a ton of resources into the cornerback position over the last two years. The problem is that their best two corners from that time might just be playing for the New Orleans Saints right now. Sam Beal is still battling injury concerns, while DeAndre Baker has struggled in his rookie season, particularly when faced with athletic receivers or a good quarterback.
Okudah is yet another Ohio State cornerback with a prototypical build and elite athleticism. He has great feet and smooth hips, giving him the ability to stick with pretty much any receiver in tight man coverage. He also has enough size and length to jam at the line of scrimmage without getting bullied.
He is at his best in aggressive man coverage schemes and, despite the Giants’ recent investments, should be in consideration if the Giants plan on playing a defense built on man coverage in 2020.