It’s Draft Season around the NFL, which means that it’s Mock Draft Season around the NFL media landscape. We don’t bring you every prospect connected to the New York Giants in mock drafts, but we do try to keep you up to date on the general trends.
We make exceptions for some of the more exceptional drafts. Generally those are from national outlets which might have insight into the thinking of NFL front offices, but we also take notice when someone takes the time to dive beyond the first round. There’s a lot of work done in multiple round mock drafts and they’re useful to help bring attention to prospects who could be flying under the radar.
Pro Football Network — the home of highly-respected draft analysts Tony Pauline — recently released a full 7-round mock draft focusing on the Giants. Each pick comes with an extensive explanation and I encourage you to click the link and read the full explanations. I’ll offer my thoughts at the end.
Round 1, Pick 4: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
As this past college football season transpired, certain things became evident: Joe Burrow’s transcendent rise to stardom, Chase Young’s undeniably elite talent as the top non-quarterback in the class, and Jedrick Wills’ spot atop offensive tackle rankings. Other possible selections include Isaiah Simmons, Andrew Thomas, and Jeff Okudah. Still, Wills’ elite blend of athleticism and technique is too good to pass up, especially for a team so desperately in need of offensive line help.
Round 2, Pick 36: Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama
Lewis is a high-motor player with physical tools to admire, as his 6’5”, 260-pound frame also possesses enticing athleticism. Like many EDGE prospects, his hands can use improvement but it is hard not to bank on his physical upside. Better suited for outside linebacker looks in a 3-4, Lewis may not see the field regularly in year one. Still, he should be an ample complement to Lorenzo Carter, another SEC EDGE rusher looking to break out.
Rushing the passer should always be a priority, but with a secondary as raw as the Giants’, it becomes all the more important. Drafting Lewis is an acquisition for both the short-term strength of the defense and the long-term outlook of the organization as he could end up being a vital cog in a rebuilt New York machine.
Round 4, Pick 100: Markus Bailey, LB, Purdue
Though Essang Bassey, Logan Stenberg, and Kyle Dugger were all still available, I decided to go with Markus Bailey off of the team’s dire need at the LB position and his fun 2018 tape. Bailey played in only two games this past season due to a knee injury, but evaluating him over the summer had me excited for what was to come. He is an excellent run defender with the athleticism to pursue ball carriers outside of the tackles and the instincts to hold his own in coverage at the next level. His stock may have dipped but heading into the year Bailey was a top-five linebacker in this class. He should be expected to produce at that level moving forward. Bailey can step in day one and be the best off-ball linebacker on the roster fairly quickly.
Round 5, Pick 132: Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota
Even with the league seeming to dim the lights on Tyler Johnson’s prospects at the next level, I’d be more than willing to bet on him. The Giants can use the depth at wideout, as injuries wreaked havoc last year and he offers similar upside to former day-three pick, Darius Slayton. Johnson is a natural separator, a great red-zone target, and reliable in terms of body control and after the catch skills. He is reminiscent of DaeSean Hamilton. He struggles with drops and lacks elite athleticism, but brings enough to the table where a team should be quite comfortable if he is their fourth receiver. Adam Trautman, Zach Shackelford, and Ke’Shawn Vaughn were other options at this spot, but my (likely) second-round grade on Johnson won the day.
Round 6, Pick 163: Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB, Appalachian State
Simmons has garnered a ton of well-deserved hype and consideration for a top-five selection in recent months. His ability to play anywhere and everywhere is incredible at the college ranks, even if it means his fit in the league will be harder to identify. Wherever he ends up spending a majority of his snaps, it is almost certain he’ll see some at moneybacker, being the central coverage linebacker on passing downs. Akeem Davis-Gaither may not be as versatile, athletic, or naturally gifted. Yet, he is capable of similar production in the moneybacker role Simmons would likely play if drafted by New York. While Bailey is more of a prototypical linebacker, Davis-Gaither plays right into the future of the league, emphasizing passing and the importance of athleticism and hybrids on the defensive side of the ball. It seems too easy to hand a hybrid defender to a Bill Belichick disciple like Joe Judge, but here we are. He was an easy choice over Jordan Fuller, Jake Luton, and Kendall Coleman.
Round 7, Pick 195: Dane Jackson, CB, Pittsburgh
Earlier, I mentioned a hesitancy to look towards cornerbacks this spring as so many resources have already been invested into rebuilding this secondary. For these reasons, I considered Calvin Throckmorton, Terence Steele, and Darius Anderson. However, a late day three pick does not hold the significance of a Thursday or Friday selection, leaving room for upside swings on athleticism, especially at a high-value position. Dane Jackson is a well-rounded athlete who is aggressive and enticing at the catch point. He lacks consistency in both man and zone coverage and is a liability in run defense thus limiting his ceiling. However, he does enough in terms of forcing turnovers and being scheme-independent to warrant a depth spot on a roster. His floor is low, as is every seventh-rounder, but with a shrinking player pool, Jackson treads water.
Round 7, Pick 215: AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College
Late-round selections come in all shapes and sizes, including innately oversized running backs like AJ Dillon. The Boston College back is 6’ on a good day, but 250 pounds. His lack of speed is overly evident and kills nearly any chance of a big play but that does not mean he can not be utilized. I think he projects better as a fullback where he can be used more creatively. Whether it be serving as depth for Saquon Barkley, rumbling through the trenches at the goal line, assisting in pass protection, or playing his part in a passing concept, Dillon offers a varied skillset that surpasses his Benny Snell-like ceiling as a true RB. Without much to lose, Dillon can be another creative asset for Judge and company, as he attempts to dominate with his size at the next level.
I’ll go through this by round and try to be brief.
Round 1 - Jedrick Wills
If this is where the Giants go, I don’t think we can have much to complain about. He is a well-coached player with great physical traits for the position. It would go against Dave Gettleman’s record to draft an offensive tackle highly, and I think we should keep an eye out for a run at Jack Conklin should he hit free agency. But if the Giants do select a tackle at fourth overall, Wills should be a good one.
Round 2 - Terrell Lewis
This is definitely a boom-bust pick for the Giants. Lewis is about as toolsy as they come at the EDGE position, but he is a raw rusher who doesn’t have much of a clue what he’s doing. Lewis comes with some major injury red flags after missing both the 2017 and 2018 seasons to injury (elbow and ACL, respectively). So while he has the potential to be an impact player with good coaching, any missed time is going to be very costly. Betting your pass rush on Lorenzo Carter — who might have to move to off-ball linebacker to avoid being labeled a bust — and a player who has played 14 games in the last three years and only had 6.0 sacks his final college season is a definite risk.
Round 4 - Markus Bailey
Bailey will probably be a fine linebacker at the next level. But with Lenoir-Rhyne safety Kyle Duggar still on the board, that’s where I’m going. Bailey is very smart, but has average at best range and might just be a run defender in the NFL. Duggar comes from a small school, but he has rare athleticism and a big enough frame to let him play as a hybrid defender. The Giants need more speed at every level of their defense and having a player who can be a box safety, potential slot defender, and even a middle field flex safety would give the Giants the ability to match a variety of offensive sets without having to substitute.
Round 5 - Tyler Johnson
I’m pretty much fine with this. I think giving Johnson a second round grade might be rich, but being able to separate is important. The concern here Johnson has done his best work out of the slot and might need to be protected from being pressed at the line of scrimmage. But if he can get clean releases, the ability to win with route running is important in the NFL.
Round 6 - Akeem Davis-Gaither
Even though I would have opted for Duggar back in the fourth round, I am still fine with this pick. The Giants need to be faster on defense and Davis-Gaither should help with that. Having two rangy linebackers who can cover the middle of the field would open up a lot for the Giants in the types of coverages and blitzes they could call.
Round 7 - Dane Jackson
This is one of the big disagreements I have with a lot of people talking about the Giants’ draft: Just because they invested in cornerbacks doesn’t mean they shouldn’t continue to. Sam Beal is still a huge question mark and hasn’t been good when he was on the field. DeAndre Baker is one of the least athletic players drafted in the first round in the last 30 years and was one of the worst corners in the NFL last year. Grant Haley is a great tackler, which is good because he was bad in coverage. Cornerback is a hugely important position, and you can’t not address it because your previous investments aren’t paying off. And if Beal and Baker take leaps in 2020? Well, no team has ever suffered for having too many good cornerbacks.
That being said, for this pick in particular, I’m going with Calvin Throckmorton. I’m a fan of his and I think he can play any position on the offensive line. He reminds me of David Bakhtiari or Justin Pugh in his ability to win despite not having prototypical measurables.
Round 7 - A.J. Dillon
Honestly, I think this might be my favorite pick in this draft. And no, I would not be moving Dillon to fullback. He is a running back. He has rare power to go with his size and could be the inside runner the Giants always thought Brandon Jacobs should be. His power between the tackles and north-south decisiveness would make for a good compliment to Saquon Barkley.