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Dane Brugler mock draft: WR Devonta Smith to the Giants at No. 19

How has the Giants’ win changed their draft possibilities?

NCAA Football: Auburn at Alabama Mickey Welsh-USA TODAY Sports

With the New York Giants victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Philadelphia Eagles’ loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the Giants took over first place in the NFC East.

And while it is truly remarkable — and not in the good way — that a 4-7 team would be hosting a playoff game if the season ended today, that’s where we are. With a spot in the playoffs comes the fact they would be drafting no higher than 19th overall.

That’s a significant drop in draft capital from a week ago, when the Giants would have held a pick just outside of the top 5.

Change in draft position is just in time for The Athletic’s Dane Brugler to release his first mock draft of the year, and it gives us some idea of the players the Giants could be looking at if they hold on to win the division.

19. New York Giants: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

On paper, Smith doesn’t belong in the top-20 conversation due to poor size (175 pounds) and average speed (4.5 seconds in the 40). But on tape, he is one of the more explosive wide receivers in this class with elite ball skills and the feel for the position that leads to production. Smith will make Daniel Jones a better quarterback.

Raptor’s Thoughts: Smith is going to be a tricky evaluation going forward. As Brugler points out, he has mid-round measurables at 6-foot, 175 pounds, and pedestrian speed. However, he has also been very productive in Alabama’s offense, 2,330 yards (16.6 per reception) and 26 touchdowns since the start of the 2019 season. On tape he wins with good routes and quick feet, particularly when working against off or zone coverage, as well as good ball skills down the field. When he is afforded room to work or going against an inexperienced cornerback, Smith is capable of absolutely gashing a defense.

That being said, his athletic traits show up on film in a negative way as well. He struggles to consistently create separation when matched up in man coverage, and he can be bullied by bigger cornerbacks. In those situations he has either needed schemed separation (such as rub routes) or indefensibly well-placed passes to generate yardage. GMs are going to have to consider that Smith is going to see much more press coverage and big, physical corners at the NFL level as compared to the collegiate level.

There’s also the “Alabama” factor to consider — that his team is almost always going to have much more talent than whoever they play. A year ago, Smith was Alabama’s third receiver behind Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, who commanded attention from the defense.

But looking past Smith in particular, the Giants have glaring needs at wide receiver, EDGE, off-ball linebacker, and cornerback. A week ago they were looking at players like Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU), Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State), Gregory Rousseau (EDGE, Miami), or Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina).

Now they are looking at players like Smith, Rashod Bateman (WR, Minnesota), Joseph Ossai (WLB/EDGE, Texas), or Eric Stokes (CB, Georgia).

Elsewhere in the NFC East:

4th overall - Dallas Cowboys - Caleb Farley (CB, Virginia Tech)
7th overall - Philadelphia Eagles - Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)
8th overall - Washington Football Team - Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)