There are a few ways the New York Giants could go in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. We’ve spent the last few months talking about what the team could — and should — do at fourth overall. Generally speaking, the trends in mock drafts have run between the top tackles, Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons, and trying to engineer a trade down.
Last time we looked at some options for the Giants in the event of a trade down. This time we’re going to look at what the Giants could do in the second round if they select a defensive player at the top of the draft.
The odds are that the defender selected would be Isaiah Simmons, but it is — technically, theoretically — possible that the pick could be Chase Young or Jeff Okudah out of Ohio State. Granted, neither of those are likely, but it also doesn’t matter which defender is picked for our purposes here.
Lucas Niang (OT, TCU)
Niang is the player I keep coming back to as a second-tier tackle for the Giants. Niang is new to football after starting out as a basketball player and is still filling out his frame. That isn’t to say he’s thin or weak, you can’t say a guy 6-foot-6, 315 pounds is undersized. He has good play strength and his basketball background is apparent in his movement skill. He has flown under the radar some due to a season-ending labrum injury back in October, but his upside is impressive. His athletic profile compares to Ryan Ramczyk coming out of Wisconsin, and interestingly Ram had the same injury. Niang should be able to slot in at right tackle immediately and has the potential to be a 10-year starter with some coaching.
Ezra Cleveland (OT, Boise State)
If the Giants are looking for a potential long-term solution at left tackle, Cleveland could be a solid investment if he is available at the top of the second round. Cleveland has a prototypical build at 6-foot-6, 310 pounds with 33 3/8 inch arms. But while he does need to build play strength to be a long-term starter at the NFL level. Athletically, Cleveland is only a step behind Philadelphia Eagles tackle Lane Johnson with speed, agility, quickness, and an explosive lower body.
There are a variety of ways the Giants could go about developing Cleveland. They could consider transitioning Cleveland to right tackle and enjoying an athletic right tackle for the next decade. They could try to move Nate Solder to right tackle and develop Cleveland at left tackle. Or they could try to play Solder and Cameron Flemming at the tackle positions and let Cleveland develop and build strength before being moved to a starting position. Getting Cleveland on the field might prove to be a bit of a challenge, but his upside is worth investing in.
Lloyd Cushenberry III (C, LSU)
Cesar Ruiz seems to have risen to the top of the center rankings, so he could be gone before the Giants get the chance to draft here. Also, Cushenberry checks a lot of the athletic and measurable boxes for Dave Gettleman. Cushenberry is a big, long, and athletic center with the mobility to play in a zone scheme and enough strength to play in a man scheme as well. Cushenberry needs to play more under control, but if he has a well-rounded and versatile game. If the Giants feel they can get away with Flemming at tackle for a season, Cushenberry could solidify their offensive interior.
Antoine Winfield Jr., (S, Minnesota)
The Giants couldn’t possibly draft two defenders in a row, could they? Well, we know they have spelled out that they know they need to address the offensive line this off-season, but what if they feel they already have? Joe Judge, Jason Garrett, and Marc Colombo are all familiar with Cameron Fleming from his time with the New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys, and the Giants do tend to stress the importance of relationships. The Giants also seem to like Nick Gates, who could potentially transition to center. They might think they have their answers in-house.
On the other hand, Dave Gettleman has frequently referenced the defense when assessing blame for the Giants’ struggles over the last two seasons. They have sunk a lot of resources into the defensive side of the ball, but have yet to see dividends from those investments. Also, if Winfield is here, he could be the best player on the board. He is shorter than preferred around the NFL and has an injury history, but he is an impressive playmaker with the kind of versatility and competitive toughness which could appeal to Patrick Graham.
This draft could be a wild one, and we should at least be aware of the possibility of curveballs.