For the second week in a row when it came time to do my Sunday New York Giants mock draft, I decided to run the Fanspeak ‘Ultimate GM’ tool first and see what I could come up with in terms of roster moves before the draft.
The Giants have already parted ways with linebacker Alec Ogletree and edge defender Kareem Martin.
Here’s how things went down.
Ed’s roster cuts
TE Rhett Ellison
S Antoine Bethea
C Spencer Pulley
Ed’s free agent signings
I really wanted to go after Jacksonville Jaguars edge Yannick Ngakoue, but in this scenario Jacksonville kept him off the market with a long-term deal. I actually made a five-year, $21 million per year offer Jadaveon Clowney. When that got rejected, I decided not to play in that stratosphere any longer.
Guys I did sign:
RT Jack Conklin (5 years, $15 million per year)
CB Prince Amukamara (2 years, $10 million per year)
LB/Edge Kyle Van Noy (3 years, 10 million per year)
DL Leonard Williams (transition tag)
That seems like a lot for Van Noy, but with my offers I tried to stick with contract projections made by Spotrac and Over The Cap. Those deals are in line with projections. As for Williams, keeping him for a year let’s me kick that can down the road a bit. Besides, he is a good player.
Ed’s 5-round mock draft
We start with a trade. I made proposals to the Miami Dolphins (No. 5), LA Chargers (No. 6) and Carolina Panthers (No. 7). No dice. I was able to swing a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars for their pick at No. 9, their third-round pick (9/73) and a fourth-round pick (10/113).
Was that enough? Honestly, I’m not sure. Remember, though, I’m arguing/negotiating with a computer algorhythm. This was the best deal I could get, and with the Detroit Lions having surprisingly taken Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons No. 3 I really wanted to move down and see how this scenario would play out.
Here’s how it went.
Round 1 (No. 9) — Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Yes, unbelievably Okudah was still on the board. So, too, were offensive tackles Jedrick Wills, Andrew Thomas and Tristan Wirfs. Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy was still there, too. Still, even though I signed Amukamara and used a lot of draft capital at cornerback a year ago, no way I was letting Okudah pass by. If I had not signed Conklin in free agency, my pick here is probably Thomas. We can argue about Wills, but I already know Thomas can eventually play left tackle.
Like the choice I made or not, it’s a perfect illustration of why moving down a few spots feels like the right play for the Giants. If they stay inside the top 10, maybe even the top 12, they are going to find a player sitting there they should be happy with. Plus, of course, the added picks.
Round 2 (No. 4/36) — Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin
Maybe it’s because I have seen his name mocked to the Giants in this spot so often. Maybe it’s because I just talked to the kid a few days ago, and came away genuinely impressed. This pick, which would pair him with former Wisconsin teammate Ryan Connelly at off-the-ball linebacker spots in the Giants’ defense, just felt right. If you had your heart set on Simmons in Round 1, this is a pretty good consolation prize.
By the way, I have to know. The receding hairlines of both Connelly and Baun make me wonder what they do to linebackers at Wisconsin.
It wasn’t easy, though, to pass on Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz right here.
Round 3 (No. 9/73) — Prince Tega Wanogho, OT, Auburn
The first extra pick I got from the deal with the Jaguars. With my offseason breaking down the way it has, Nate Solder is going to be the left tackle in 2020. After passing on the tackles to take Okudah in Round 1, I knew I had to come away with a player who could potentially step in for Solder in 2021.
I’m handing the very raw Tega Wanogho to offensive line coach Marc Colombo and telling him to go to work. Show me what kind of teacher you are.
Here is what Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said about Tega Wanogho:
A late-comer to the sport, Wanogho gained over 50 pounds and has gone through a crash course in football experience since stepping onto campus as a raw athlete with just a year of high school experience. His shorter arms will be an issue against long-limbed defenders, but instinctive, quick hands and an ability to swat and re-establish as a hand fighter should help counter that concern. The footwork and body control are just OK, but he’s loose-hipped and tremendously athletic with rare recovery ability when beaten. He may never be a plus run blocker, but he should keep improving with additional work and experience. Wanogho’s NFL play may be inconsistent, but his talent and ability to keep rushers off his quarterback is what matters most, and it should make him a long-time starter with development. Very late-comer to the sport, but possesses excellent athletic ability and improving skill-set to handle NFL pass protection on the left side. His issues are more technical and experience-based than physical.
Round 3 (No. 34/98) — Matt Hennessy, C, Temple
Jon Halapio tore an Achilles in the final game of last season. I decided to cut Spencer Pulley. I was unable to cut a free-agent deal for a starting center. I knew this position had to be addressed at some point, and have admitted passing on a chance to do so a round earlier.
Hennessy played at New Jersey’s Don Bosco Prep. His brother, Thomas, long snaps for the New York Jets. This felt like a good meeting of value and need.
Three-year starter who uses hand placement, leverage and athletic ability to make up for his lack of mass and length. He’s patient to center blocks and runs his feet to lock in and begin sustaining. He has the lateral quickness and body control to reach, pull and stay connected to blocks on the move. He has issues with timing blocks up to linebackers, but that should be correctable. Below-average physical traits could limit his suitors, but scheme fits will like the movement and intangibles he brings to the table. He has early backup, eventual starter potential.
Round 4 (No. 4/107) — Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame
I have toyed with the idea of selecting Claypool in some of the other mocks I have done, and have always decided against it. After he posted a 4.42 40-yard dash at the Combine a couple of days ago, at 6-foot-4, 238 pounds, this time I’m not passing.
Round 4 (No. 10/113) — Terrell Burgess, S, Utah
The second extra pick I got from the Jacksonville trade. The way things are shaping up in this scenario, I figure Julian Love to join Jabrill Peppers at safety. I would love to bring back Michael Thomas as a backup safety/special teamer, but hadn’t pulled that off yet when I decided to move from the free agency phase into my draft. Come to think of it, the other Giants free agent I want to make sure to retain is wide receiver/special teamer Cody Core.
Anyway, back to Burgess.
Utah is known for developing defensive talent and Burgess is the latest success story to emerge from the program. The cornerback-turned-safety plays with uncommon discipline and field vision despite just a single season as full-time starter. Teams love his versatility and ability to play nickel, but matchups against speed could cause some issues. He plays with good instincts and closing burst from high safety looks but doesn’t have the striking ability to concern targets working the middle. Burgess’ versatility, athleticism and feel for pathways to tackles in run support could make him a valuable middle-round pick with a chance to find the field early on in a variety of roles.
Round 5 (No. 4/150) — A.J. Dillon, RB, Boston College
A 6-foot, 247-pound banger to pair with Saquon Barkley? Yes, please.
Built like a minibus but possessing enough vision and finesse to avoid being pigeon-holed as just a pure power back. Dillon is capable of handling heavy workloads and wearing down defenses, but there is a concern from evaluators that it’s taken a physical toll on him. He’s a disciplined runner who trusts his blocking scheme and follows his rush track. He’s a good one-cut runner with below-average wiggle but natural power to create yards after contact. Dillon will find more space as he faces fewer loaded boxes as a pro, but dropping weight and adding quickness could be the difference between a future as a committee back or starter.