We have spent months speculating about and debating what the New York Giants should do with the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Should they draft an offensive tackle? Should they draft a defender? Some other player? Should they trade down?
What we haven’t spent as much time on are the scenarios for the second day of the draft that could result from the Giants’ decisions in the first round. So, for the purposes of this piece, let’s just say the Giants draft an offensive tackle in the first round. It could be Mekhi Becton, Andrew Thomas, Jedrick Wills, or Tristan Wirfs (to list them alphabetically), but that doesn’t really matter for us right now.
Cesar Ruiz (C, Michigan)
The first thing that springs to mind if the Giants opt to draft a tackle and pass on linebacker Isaiah Simmons is that they would draft a defensive player in the second round, right?
Ruiz is one of the top — perhaps the top — interior offensive linemen in the draft, and if he happens to slip to the top of the second round he bears consideration. Even if the Giants draft a right tackle, they still have a hole in the middle of their line. While Jon Halapio is a great guy and easy to root for, he is coming off a ruptured Achilles and wasn’t exactly great when healthy. The Giants need a natural starting center, and Ruiz would fit with what ever blocking scheme Jason Garrett decides to install.
Doubling down on the offensive line means punting on other pressing needs such as pass rusher, wide receiver, and safety. But the Giants could at least hope that they have finally gotten off the OL hamster wheel.
Denzel Mims (WR, Baylor)
The consensus is that wide receiver is a luxury the Giants can’t afford to select highly. However, their depth at the position is questionable at best, and they might not have the players on their roster to run their offense as it is designed.
It is no sure thing that Mims will be available in the second round. He is a talented receiving prospect with a very high athletic ceiling and those kinds of players tend to get snapped up sooner rather than later in the draft. But if he falls to the Giants at the top of the second round he could fill their need for a “No. 1” wide receiver. Mims is big, long, and athletic, with great hands and the ability to make stunning catches down the field.
Jason Garrett’s offense relies on an athletic “X” receiver to create opportunities for the other skill position players. Mims still needs development but he should be able to fill that role for the Giants.
Josh Uche (EDGE, Michigan)
Moving to the defensive side of the ball, the Giants still need to find an “ace” pass rusher who can really threaten opposing offenses. Uche might not have elite potential, but he is reasonably explosive and flashed whenever he was on the field for Michigan.
He would be at his best as an EDGE in a multiple defense which would allow him to line up as a defensive end or linebacker and take advantage of mismatches. Fortunately, that should be the role for which the Giants are drafting. He also has enough ability in space to be used in zone blitzes, creating confusion on the offensive line and opportunities for rushers.
Uche doesn’t have the length or athletic upside of Julian Okwara and didn’t get consistent snaps until 2019, but that could make him more likely to be available here.
Jeremy Chinn (S/LB, SIU) - or - Kyle Dugger (S/LB, Lenoir Rhyne)
If the Giants don’t draft Simmons at the top of the first round they could look to either one of these small school players as consolation prizes. Both Chinn and Dugger have uncommon blends of size and athleticism for the safety position at which they’re listed. They both have the versatility to play a variety of roles from linebacker to safety, giving the defense freedom and versatility to match up offensive sub-packages.
A big part of the attraction of Simmons, as well as Chinn and Dugger, is the ability to effectively play a nickel or dime defense out of a “base” personnel package. That would give Patrick Graham a ton of freedom in designing and calling blitz packages. Their athleticism would also help the Giants match up against the spread concepts being used by modern NFL offenses.
Grant Delpit (S, LSU)
Finally we come to a true safety.
A year ago Delpit was widely regarded as a top five prospect, but a season in which he played through a pair of injuries has severely impacted his draft stock. That could be to the Giants’ benefit if he happens to slip to the second round. The Giants have spent most of the last decade searching for a long-term answer at free safety and Delpit could well be that for them. He has the truly elite range to be the centerfielder they’ve missed, and the ability to lock down the deep portion of the field is huge for any blitzing defense.
Delpit absolutely needs to improve his tackling, that’s an important skill for any safety, but his ability to be a rangy playmaker isn’t to be underestimated. And if the Giants get the player who looked like the next Eric Berry in the second round, that could be monstrous value.