Don’t look now, but we’re past the half-way point of the 2020 football season. We’re also nearing the home stretch for many college football programs.
As things stand now, the New York Giants occupy a weird place with regards to draft season. Ordinarily a 2-7 record means a team’s season is all but mathematically over. But the sheer volume of putrid football being played in the NFC East and no team apparently interested in winning the division keeps up for grabs despite the combined 9-24-1 record. The Giants could be drafting in the top-5, or pick up a couple wins and find themselves drafting in the bottom-12.
But considering the calendar, we should at least check in on how Draft Season is developing.
Dane Brugler of The Athletic published his updated Top-50 big board Tuesday morning and we thought we’d take a look at the top five non-quarterbacks who could interest the Giants.
(The quarterback question has to be addressed, but we’ll be setting it aside for now.)
Micah Parsons (iLB, Penn State)
5th on Brugler’s board
Parsons’ is going to be a frequent name brought up as a target for the Giants. Yes, inside linebacker is generally held to be a lower-value position, but the argument could be made that his athleticism and versatility — the ability to play downhill, drop into coverage with great range, and fire downhill as a blitzer — could help solve a number of problems for the Giants’ defense. They could look at him as a possible solution to their issues rushing the passer as a blitzer and as a rangy athlete in the middle of their defense
Parsons also has the versatility to play both inside and outside, which should play well in Patrick Graham’s schemes.
Parsons opted out of the 2021 season.
Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)
4th on Brugler’s board
The Giants have needs all over their team, and one of the more pressing is at wide receiver. Sterling Shepard is a reliable option out of the slot and occasionally out wide, and Darius Slayton’s deep speed is a weapon. However, the Giants don’t have that true “number one” receiver who commands coverage and allows secondary receivers to feast on defensive depth players.
Chase reminds of nobody so much as Hakeem Nicks coming out of North Carolina. He isn’t the biggest, fastest, or most explosive receiver at 6-foot, 210 pounds, but he runs very good routes, has excellent hands, dominates the catch point, and has an instinctive feel for exploiting coverage. He didn’t score 20 touchdown and average more than 21 yards per catch by accident.
It’s worth noting that Chase opted out of the 2021 season and only has one year of production, but it was an incredible year.
Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama)
8th on Brugler’s board
The Giants have invested heavily in the cornerback position, but they still need to find an answer across from James Bradberry. The Giants’ defense depends heavily on its secondary to secure the back end and give their pass rushers time to get to the quarterback or to be stout enough to hold up with fewer players when a blitz is called.
Surtain II likely won’t test as an elite athlete, but he has the size, physicality, movement skills, and experience to play in a variety coverage schemes. He is also a ballhawk who can help create opportunities for the defense to stop offenses in their tracks with turnovers.
Azeez Ojulari (EDGE, Georgia)
13th on Brugler’s board
The Giants need a pass rush and a player who can rush with speed off the edge. They’ve bypassed the last several EDGE classes an the position is in dire need of talent. Ojulari is a versatile athlete who is capable of playing the run, rushing from 2 or 3-point stances, as well as dropping into coverage. He is a bit undersized for what the Giants’ normally favor, but that could work to his favor in Patrick Graham’s multiple defensive front. There might be better (or at least more highly rated) EDGE prospects in this class, but Ojulari’s blend of traits and versatility are intriguing.
It’s important to keep in mind that Ojulari is a red-shirt sophomore and might not even declare for the 2021 draft. However, given his rise over the 2020 season he could also capitalize on his draft stock while he can.
Penei Sewell (OT, Oregon)
3rd on Brugler’s board
It might seem odd to suggest that the Giants could potentially target an offensive tackle a year after spending first and third round picks at the position. However, there are some arguments in Sewell’s favor for the Giants. First, he is just an exceptional prospect. He opted out of the 2020 season but he has already cemented himself in the eye of scouts with elite traits and elite play — and he’s under the age of 21. Next, despite being considered the most pro-ready tackle prospect, Andrew Thomas has struggled throughout the season. His footspeed and hand placement have been issues throughout his rookie season.
With Kevin Zeitler aging and expensive and Will Hernandez struggling as well, the Giants could consider moving Thomas to guard (where he won’t have to worry about being on an island against speed rushers), and drafting Sewell.