This year we decided to do things a little bit differently with our final mock drafts. Ed challenged the Big Blue View staff to put together full 7-round mocks, but rather than trying to put ourselves into the mind of the New York Giants general manager, we would be acting as though we are the Giants’ GM.
And to keep everything even, we used the Pro Football Network draft simulator.
We have basically been reading variations on the same mock drafts for months now, and I wanted to do something different for you to read and talk about. I think I think I did that here ... and came away with four players who should be starters immediately and two more who could be important contributors their rookie seasons.
Round 1 (No. 12) — Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
I decided to start this draft by trading back … And trading back again. I didn’t even look at the available prospects before moving back. I wanted to maximize the value of the fourth overall pick and I feel the talent level after Chase Young and Jeffry Okudah is fairly flat.
I decided to pick Ruggs for a couple reasons. First and foremost, he is a game-breaking receiver and the Giants need one on their offense. The Giants are likely moving to an Air Coryell offense, or at least something based on that scheme, and vertical offenses NEED a field-tilting No. 1 receiver. Just think back to how Kevin Gilbride’s offense fell apart without Plaxico Burress and again without Hakeem Nicks. Look at how Dak Prescott’s production fell back to Earth after Dez Bryant was diminished by injury and rose again after the arrival of Amari Cooper. Go back and look at the impact that Vincent Jackson had on the Chargers’ offense. This scheme needs two athletic receivers who can command a defense’s attention, force it to declare its intentions, and create space underneath for the slot receiver, tight end, and running back.
I could have gone with Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb here, but Ruggs isn’t your average undersized speed demon. He’s a route runner, too, and has enough size to not get bullied by cornerbacks. And he’s also fast enough to be legitimately disappointed by a 4.28 second 40-yard dash.
I fully realize that I’m passing on Mekhi Becton and Andrew Thomas, and that isn’t easy. However, both the right tackles are gone and I don’t want to ask a rookie to play out of position.
Any decent offensive coordinator can scheme around an average offensive line. Things like RPO plays, screen passes, play-action, and rollouts are all safe and effective ways to slow down a pass rush — and they all play into Daniel Jones’ skill set. They can’t scheme around receivers who can’t get open. Pat Shurmur did nothing but that with quick strikes and coverage-beater passing concepts, and Sterling Shepard was still the only receiver who could consistently create separation.
Having a receiver who can create separation at will will allow Daniel Jones to get rid of the ball on time and giving the defense a lead to defend will help that side of the ball.
Passed on: Andrew Thomas (OT, Georgia), Mekhi Becton (OT, Louisville), Derrick Brown (DT, Auburn), Jerry Jeudy (WR, Alabama), CeeDee Lamb (WR, Oklahoma)
36th Overall - Cesar Ruiz (C, Michigan)
37th Overall - Lucas Niang (OT, TCU)
To save time I’m going to talk about both of these players at the same time.
The Giants need a starting center and Ruiz is the best one in the draft. He has experience in a pro style offense, the strength to play in a man-gap blocking scheme as well as the movement skills to play in a zone scheme. This is a no-brainer and I wasn’t really expecting him to be here when my pick came again. Ruiz doesn’t have the same measurables as Lloyd Cushenberry III, but he is a better, more consistent player right now.
AND THIS is the scenario I had in mind when I traded back in the first round. Niang is one of the players I was targeting when I passed on Thomas and Becton. He is still relatively new to the game of football after coming to America to pursue a basketball scholarship at 17 years old. He is still filling out his 6-foot-6 325 pound frame, but is a 3-year starter at right tackle at TCU. His basketball background is evident in his movement skills. Niang is a fluid mover and a natural waist bender who also already has decent play strength. He needs to play with more aggression, but that could come with coaching and more confidence in his technique.
Passed on: Antoine Winfield Jr. (S, Minnesota), Grant Delpit (S, LSU), Jeff Gladney (CB, TCU)
Round 3 (No. 80) — Antoine Winfield Jr. (S, Minnesota)
Okay, sometimes draft simulators are weird. But also, sometimes the draft is weird and players who just shouldn’t fall sometimes do.
When I passed on Winfield and Delpit back in the 2nd round I was targeting Cal’s Ashtyn Davis with this pick. He’s rated 80th on PFN’s Big Board, so I thought I had a good chance of getting him here… But somehow Winfield (rated 35th on the board) slipped and I’m turning in this pick without looking back.
Winfield is one of my favorite players to watch in the whole draft. He is a Do-It-All safety who simply flew around the field for Minnesota and was a force in pass defense as well as against the run. He’s technically “undersized” at 5-foot-8 but I couldn’t care less about that. His instincts, ball skills, quickness, and explosiveness give him a huge catch denial radius and he plays like a combination of Will Hill and Tyrann Mathieu.
Passed on: Nobody. Are you nuts? I never even considered anyone else when I saw Winfield Jr. sitting there.
Round 3 (No. 98) — Chase Claypool (WR, Notre Dame)
Patriots get: 110, 183, 218, 247, 255
Giants receive: 98th overall
Yep. Another trade, but this time I did break a rule and traded back into the third. I did it for a couple reasons. First, the drop-off in success rate from prospects carrying third-round grades to fourth-round grades is significant — roughly 33 percent to 10 percent. The Giants don’t just need players, but they need players who can realistically become contributors over the life of their rookie contracts.
And, truth be told, I didn’t feel like picking all those seventh rounders who may or may not even make the roster. I might have technically lost value on the trade and could have gotten back in for less, but I’m fine not taking four fliers in the seventh round.
Now, on to the pick.
Claypool is an absolute freak of an athlete with “Megatron” upside coming out of Notre Dame. He has rare size and rare athleticism, and his best football is likely ahead of him. One of the underrated aspects of the Giants 2019 season is how well their receivers performed and that is a testament to wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert. He did well with guys like Russell Shepard and Bennie Fowler, so giving him a lump of clay like Claypool should be fun to watch. The Giants’ receiving depth is questionable now and over the next couple years.
I would have preferred to get a pass rusher here, but there aren’t any on the board worth the pick. Besides, offensive football is more sustainable than defense and if I’m GM, I want to build a team that can win this year, and the next 10.
Passed On: Jacob Eason (QB, Washington), Matt Peart (OT, UConn), Malik Harrison (LB, Ohio State), Ashtyn Davis (S, Cal)
Round 5 (No. 150) — Alton Robinson (EDGE, Syracuse)
My last pick in the draft, I was finally able to add a pass rusher. Robinson has good size, athleticism, and get-off to be an EDGE player. He was much more productive in 2018 than in 2019 which could be viewed a couple different ways. The more pessimistic version is that he can’t sustain production as the focus of the offense’s blocking scheme. The other side of the coin is that he IS capable of being disruptive and productive, and has the tools if a defensive coordinator can unlock them.
In my view, Robinson needs to get more consistent with his pass rushing technique and be put in position to succeed by his defensive coordinator. His athletic profile is remarkably similar to Yannick Ngokoue and he could be a starter with some development.
Passed On: Nobody. Robinson is the best player available.