In his initial mock draft, NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah selected Mekhi Becton, the massive offensive tackle from Louisville for the New York Giants with the fourth overall pick.
During a pre-Combine conference call on Friday, Jeremiah insisted that as of now mo matter what happened with the first three picks he would still sit right there at No. 4 and take Becton.
“Well, they’ve got a lot of holes. You pick up there for a reason. And I get what you’re saying about finding some playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. But, look, as an organization, your number one priority is ensuring that Daniel Jones is going to grow and develop and be a success.
“So if I have to go through another year of watching some vanilla, boring defense lacking in playmakers, I’m going to do that if it means I can go ahead and get my left tackle that will protect this kid for the next 10 years. That would take priority for me. I know there’s depth at the tackle class. To me Mekhi Becton is a freak, from Louisville, an absolute freak.
“I’m not in the business of trading off freaks at a need position. He’s a left tackle. He’s a better version of Bryant McKinnie. He’s going to be that guy for the next 10 to 12 years to protect your franchise quarterback. He’s so big, so long, so athletic, even when he is not perfect, it doesn’t matter because nobody can get through him. He’s 6-foot-7, 370 pounds.
“You just don’t see guys like that come around very often. I know trade-back options exist. I know you can take a defensive playmaker. To me I’m not trading off that pick. I’m sitting there right there taking Mekhi Becton.”
A few other players of note
On Andrew Thomas ...
The left tackle from Georgia was once considered the unquestioned best offensive tackle in this draft class. That’s no longer the case as Thomas appears to have slid down some draft boards. Here’s Jeremiah:
Andrew Thomas, you mentioned the big left tackle, he’s powerful, he’s dominant in the run game. He can anchor in pass protection. He’s very aware. He’s just on the ground a little bit for me. That was concern, some of the balance issues.
I know some teams would like him to kick over to the right side, but I definitely think he’s a first-round tackle.
Michigan center prospect Cesar Ruiz, a possible consideration for the Giants if he is still on the board in Round 2:
“I think he reminds me a lot of Travis Frederick when he was coming out. He’s just firm and strong. He’s consistent each and every game. He plays with great awareness. He doesn’t have — he’s not the quickest afoot, but he does a nice job of latching on and running his feet on contact. And he’s good on combo blocks. “
“To me he’s a steady Eddie, high floor, know-exactly-what-you’re-getting player who can get a chance to be a Pro Bowl caliber center. I’m a big fan of his.”
On Derrick Brown:
There are Giants fans who become apoplectic if the idea of drafting the talented Auburn defensive tackle at No. 4 comes up. Here is what Jeremiah said about Brown:
“Derrick Brown is — to me, I have the same grade on Derrick Brown at his position as I do with Chase Young at his position. I think he’s a phenomenal player. He’s the closest thing, ironically, to Ndamukong Suh ... That’s who he reminds me of when you watch him on college tape, so strong and powerful. He can really punch off blocks, separate, find the ball, make plays. He plays really hard.
“So he’s outstanding. And when you plug him in there, you talk about immediate impact, he’ll make an immediate impact on every single down as an interior player.”
On Ohio State edge defender Chase Young:
“I think when you watch the last few games of the season, you can see the benefit that he has for everybody else up front in just creating one-on-ones. He draws so much attention.
“And I feel like it’s interesting because I’ve used the phrase “generational talent”. When I say that, it’s almost like people feel like it’s a slap in the face to what Ohio State’s done because when you look at the Bosa brothers and how good they are, he’s in the group with those guys. I do want to clarify that.
“He’s the best player in this draft class. I actually had a little bit higher grade on Nick coming out than Chase. I had a higher grade on Chase than Joey. Obviously Joey has been a perennial Pro Bowl player; he’s outstanding.
“But he’s one of those type guys. And the impact he has, not only is he — he’s going to win his one-on-ones when he gets them, but he’s going to create so many double and triple teams his way it’s going to be able to let the other guys eat a little bit.”
On the value of Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons:
“I’ve talked to a bunch of defensive coordinators in the offseason and posed this question to them about: Are we going to start heading towards a positionless game, where you see guys on offense like Deebo Samuel who are playing in the slot but can almost function as running backs. You see guys like Derwin James, who could just darned near play every single position on the defense.
“But when you have offenses trying to manipulate personnel and get certain groups on the field like the Ravens have done a masterful job where they have the tight ends that they can put you in certain sets and then split the tight ends out, you better have more versatile players that can do multiple things.
“So with a guy like Isaiah Simmons, whether you want to list him as a linebacker or safety, I know you plug him into that defensive scheme and week by week you can deploy him in different ways depending on what the strength of your opponent is. That’s why he has so much value. And putting these guys in little position boxes I think that’s going to go away eventually. You’re just going to see getting your athletes on the field and deploying them in different ways on a week-by-week basis.”