[EDITOR’S NOTE: I have been doing 7-round simulated mock drafts for the New York Giants for more than two months. The final one will appear this Sunday. In the meantime, I have asked several of our draft experts to offer their own Giants-only 7-round mock drafts using the Pro Football Network simulator. We will be running them throughout the week. This one is from Mark Schofield. — Ed V.]
Armed with the fourth-overall selection, and potentially the keys to the entire draft, you are going to turn them over to an outsider? And not just any outsider, a dirty, filthy, disgusting New England Patriots fan? One you subjected to a barrage of tweets over the weekend about Super Bowl XLII and is out for revenge? I’m drafting Steven Montez at the top of the first round and you’re all going to like it ...
Okay, so I will not stoop to such a level. I am a man of honor and integrity. Oh, and Ed wouldn’t let me.
So with that out of the way, it is time to think about the approach to this simulation. This is going to be a “what I would do” simulation, where I make the picks as if I were the general manager, rather than trying to predict what Dave Gettleman will do. Going into this draft here are some positions I feel must be addressed: Offensive tackle, linebacker, cornerback, wide receiver, and center. Safety is also a consideration, and tight end depth might be in the mix, depending on how the board falls. But let’s be honest, it is not the best class.
So ... let’s begin!
We begin with ... a trade.
Giants Receive: Pick 7, 69
Carolina Panthers Receive: Pick 4
So we start with a trade down. Gettleman has never done that, but the fact of the matter is acquiring an additional pick in that sweet spot of the draft (picks 40-70) gives us an additional crack at mining the talent available on Day 2. Plus, with how this board is likely to fall, we can still come away with the player I want at the seventh spot.
On the Clock: Pick No. 7
So here is how the board fell. After trading down to the seventh spot, the following players were drafted: Joe Burrow to the Cincinnati Bengals. Chase Young to the Washington Redskins. Jeffrey Okudah to the Detroit Lions. Then the Panthers come up from seven and select ... Derrick Brown. Mekhi Becton goes at fifth overall to the Miami Dolphins, and Tua Tagovailoa comes off the board to the Los Angeles Chargers at the sixth spot.
Which makes me wonder ...
Giants Receive: Pick 12, 81
Las Vegas Raiders Receive: Pick 7
Now we have yet another Day 2 pick to play around with ...
The Raiders come up and draft Justin Herbert. We’re cooking with gas now. The next cluster of selections is as follows: Isaiah Simmons to the Arizona Cardinals at eight, Tristan Wirfs to the Jacksonville Jaguars at nine, Javon Kinlaw to the Cleveland Browns at 10, and A.J. Epenesa to the New York Jets at 11.
Remember the “Seinfeld” episode, where Kramer takes a test drive for Jerry and insists on taking the car below empty on the gas gauge? That is how I feel right now. Could we trade down just one more time and get another pick or two on Day 2?
Nah, I’m too risk-averse.
Round 1 (No. 12) — Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama
In my most recent “What I Would Do” mock draft at USA Today’s Touchdown Wire, this was the pick I made for the Giants in the fourth spot. Getting him at 12 feels almost criminal. Wills is a plug-and-play right tackle who is a force in the run game and with a little bit of technique work, can be a bookend offensive tackle for the next decade. Protecting Daniel Jones is job number one for Gettleman, I think, and this is a great way to go about it. Other options considered were Andrew Thomas, and perhaps one of the top flight receivers in Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb or Henry Ruggs III, but the fit is too good here.
Round 2 (No. 36) — Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
It is not that I have a type, per se, but it is more the fact that a versatile safety who plays all over the field is such a luxury to have. Last year for the Crimson Tide McKinney saw more than 200 snaps at three different positions: Slot cornerback, box safety and strong safety. He has, according to Pro Football Focus’ draft guide, the “... the best grading profile of any safety in the class. He’s a Swiss-Army knife perfect for a diverse role in modern defenses.” Beyond that, coming out of Nick Saban’s system he is an intelligent player who can step into an NFL defense because it will be familiar to what he was running a year ago.
Plus now we have four picks spanning from the top of the third round through the top of the fourth round. Let’s see if we can cash in on those trades.
Round 3 (No. 69) — Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
A rather nice find at this point in the draft, if you ask me.
Aiyuk has first-round explosiveness. His ability to maintain top speed into and out of his breaks, and through the catch point, is among the best in this class. Some might question the fact he had just one year of upper-level production, after N’Keal Harry was drafted by the Patriots, but if you watch him on film you see a bursty wide receiver who can contribute early in some packages but has the potential to be a true all-around threat very early in his career.
Round 3 (No. 81) — Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State
Jeff Okudah is getting all of the headlines, but the Buckeyes have another cornerback in this draft class who is worth some attention. Arnette is a stout player at the catch point, who played outside for Ohio State last season but also spent some time in the slot back in 2017. He had a career year in 2019 despite playing with a broken wrist and a cast on his hand. He changes directions very well, and like McKinney he comes from a diverse coverage scheme that will have him ready on Day One. Some other options that were considered at this spot were Logan Wilson, the Wyoming LB, and Jacob Phillips, the LSU LB. But I have my eyes on another linebacker a bit later in this draft ...
Round 3 (No. 99) — Devin Asiasi, TE, UCLA
The board fell favorably in the end.
While it is not the best tight end class, there are some names worth watching. Asiasi is one of them. In a class that might be lacking a true ‘do it all’ TE, Asiasi is such a player. He can handle the in-line blocking responsibilities asked of an NFL tight end, but he is als a solid receiving option on film. UCLA moved him around a bit, and he was able to run away from bigger defenders and get separation against man coverage schemes. Albert Okwuegbunam was also available at this spot, and his 40-yard time of 4.49 from the Combine was impressive, but in the end I’m betting on the player that had the better film over the past season or so.
Round 4 (No. 110) — Troy Dye, LB, Oregon
This was the linebacker I was eyeing earlier.
Every draft cycle there comes a moment where I might be three or four games into a player and I know exactly who they are and what they can be at the next level. Or, at least I’ve seen enough to formulate that opinion in my mind. Yet two hours later, I’m still watching him, because he has been that much of a joy to watch. I have had a few experiences like that this draft cycle, and watching Dye has been one of them. He is a perfect modern NFL linebacker, with the range and ability in coverage to play on third downs. But I came away just as impressed with what he did against the run. He missed some tackles at times, but I really think this is a three-down linebacker at the next level. After Isaiah Simmons and Patrick Queen, this might be my favorite linebacker in the class.
Round 5 (No. 150) — Nick Harris, C, Washington
This, believe it or not, was the other player that I just could not stop watching.
Harris struggled a bit at the Senior Bowl, and player like Lloyd Cushenberry and Matt Hennessy have enjoyed a bit more buzz heading into the draft, but for me, Harris was a pleasure to study. He is an extremely athletic center who can work sideline-to-sideline in the outsize zone game. Harris has some little techniques to his game that he’ll employ on defenders to make sure he executes those difficult reach blocks, such as a hook/rip combination that will lock up the defender and pull them away from the play. He plays with good leverage in the lower body, and is constantly looking for work in pass protection when uncovered. Robert Hunt, a OT/OG type of player is also available here, another player I loved watching, but Harris both fits a need and fits the profile of an athletic center that the Giants can use in their zone blocking schemes.
Round 6 (No. 183) — Larrell Murchison, DL, N.C. State
We are into the part of the draft where, thanks to trading down a few times, we have addressed the needs and now can go looking for value or lottery tickets. Murchison is one such player. He is listed as a defensive tackle but saw a good number of snaps at the EDGE, and has the versatility to play along the defensive front. He has a good array of pass-rushing moves that he can employ coming off the edge or when working inside, and at the very least he could be a situational pass rusher that could even kick inside in some packages. Sure, Anthony Gordon, the quarterback from Washington State, is on the board and he is a draft favorite of mine, but Murchison is a great fit.
Round 7 (No. 218) — Shaquille Quarterman, LB, Miami
Having picked Dye, who is more of the modern hybrid linebacker, earlier in the draft we can look to dial the years back a bit and pick Quarterman, more of the traditional two-down thumper. Quarterman is a downhill type of ‘backer, who wants to attack first and often. He fits his gaps well against the run and is powerful enough to stack and shed in the hole. Man coverage is not his strong suit, nor is coverage in general, but he can be a stout player on early downs and on special teams as he adjusts to life at the next level.
Round 7 (No. 238) — Javelin Guidry, CB, Utah
When you get into this point of the draft, sometimes you’re just placing a bet on one elite trait. When studying defensive backs, blazing speed for days is one such trait. Guidry burned up the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium with a scorching 4.29 40-yard dash, and the thing is: He shows that speed on tape. He is slightly undersized at 5-foot-9, but his 31.25 inch arms make up for that lack of high and give him enough length to potentially play on the outside. Pro Football Focus charted him with getting beat for a catch on just seven vertical routes in three years of playing time at Utah. That is impressive. There are concerns, which sees him fall to the seventh round, but betting on 4.29 player in the seventh? There are worse things you can do.
Round 7 (No. 247) — Cole McDonald, QB, Hawaii
Look, you knew I wasn’t leaving this draft without a quarterback.
McDonald ... is not for everyone. My comparison for him is “Maverick” from Top Gun. He is going to make mistakes. Not exactly in a $30 million plane the taxpayers are paying for, but he is going to make some throws that leave you scratching your head. But on the flip side, he will make some throws that will have you with your jaw on the floor. He’ll also make those with the game on the line. With the previous pick, we bet on speed. This one? It is a bet on arm talent, and the ability to play quarterback without an ounce of fear. I’ll make that bet anytime.
Round 7 (No. 255) — Derrek Tuszka, EDGE, North Dakota State
We round this out with Mr. Irrelevant. Tuszka was a productive pass rusher who was able to dominate offensive tackles at the FCS level last year. He notched 15 sacks, 13 quarterback hits and 28 quarterback hurries. Pro Football Focus charted him with a 19.6% pass-rush win rate as a redshirt junior in 2018, and a 24.7% pass-rush win rate last sason. He ended the 2019 campaign with 56 total pressures on 255 pass-rushing snaps. He was so flexible and refined around the edge that FCS tackles could not handle him at all. The problem becomes wheether that will be enough in the NFL, or will he need to fill out his frame a bit and develop more of a repertoire as a pass rusher. But with the last pick of the draft, we can bet on the production.
So there we have it. Probably not enough to earn a ticker tape parade, but I don’t think I’m getting fired just yet.