Draft speculation will continue right until the 2020 NFL Draft kicks off on schedule on April 23. So, let’s dive into Pro Football Focus’ most recent three-round mock-draft to consider what these picks would mean to the New York Giants.
No. 4: OT MEKHI BECTON, LOUISVILLE
Size and speed have been tenets of Dave Gettleman’s team-building strategy in his tenure as general manager. No one has more of the former in this draft than Becton, and after running a 5.1-second 40-yard dash, he’s got some of the latter, as well.
With the No. 4 overall pick, the Giants should select an offensive tackle to fill a gaping need for them at the position. They gave a big contract to Nate Solder, who has been average overall and the team signed right tackle Cameron Fleming this offseason. But protection up front remains a weakness for New York. But is Becton the tackle the Giants want to spend their pick on? He’s a monstrous player, measuring 6-foot-7 3/8 and weighing 364 pounds at the NFL Combine. Selecting Becton means passing up on Jedrick Willis of Alabama and Tristan Wirfs from Iowa. Of the three, Becton boasts the greatest talent at left tackle and Wills played mostly right tackle in college. Wirfs also has more experience playing right than left and he shows a tremendous amount of talent.
Yet, the other name being tossed around as a potential No. 4 pick is the star linebacker out of Clemson, Isaiah Simmons.
Giants fans might be gravitating towards Simmons because he is the “flashier” pick. The former Tiger showed his versatility in college, playing more than 100 snaps at five different positions in 2019. He lined up at inside linebacker 299 times, 262 at slot cornerback, 132 at free safety, 116 at outside linebacker, and 100 at strong safety. He also won the 2019 Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker.
But choosing an offensive lineman remains the smarter pick for the Giants, who will have a harder time filling that need past the first round, despite Simmons’ star power. Quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley need better protection up front if they are to see more success, so it makes sense for New York to take another try at upgrading its offensive line.
No. 36: EDGE YETUR GROSS-MATOS, PENN STATE
Size is a tenet for any Dave Gettleman draft prospect, and Gross-Matos has the ideal profile for the edge. The Giants will have to bank on his upward trajectory continuing, as he improved from a grading perspective every year at Penn State.
Edge rusher remains an area of need for the Giants. New York recently added former Packers linebacker Kyler Fackrell, but they need more help here. And drafting a wide receiver with the No. 36 pick when they have a chance to land a highly-regarded edge rusher does not make sense because of the historic depth of this wide receiver class.
The Giants have invested in the defensive secondary over the past few seasons but their defensive backs are still being asked to do too much without a pass rush. They should cash in on their past investment and fill an additional need by pursuing an edge rusher with the No. 36 overall pick.
The other potential edge rushers to consider are A.J. Epenesa from Iowa and Terrell Lewis from Alabama. Gross-Matos and Epenesa will probably be the more sought-after edge rushers at this point in the draft. Gross-Matos has been compared to a young Jason Pierre-Paul and Epenesa recorded 30.5 sacks over the past two season, demonstrating high effort and good technique throughout.
Both players would help New York and Giants fans should be happy with either because of their demonstrated talent and the need it would fill for their team.
No. 99: WR DONOVAN PEOPLES-JONES, MICHIGAN
The Giants hit big on a big, athletic project in Darius Slayton last year, why not go back to the well in 2020? Peoples-Jones’ athletic traits never quite matched his production at Michigan.
Adding a receiver makes sense here. As of right now, Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate and Darius Slayton make up the current top three in the Giants’ receiving room. Shepard was an inconsistent presence for the Giants last season though, as multiple concussion caused him to miss six games. The receiving corps is not exactly overflowing with depth. The Giants are hoping they can get lucky on a player like they did with Slayton last year. They selected Slayton out of Auburn in the fifth round and he finished the 2019 season with 48 passes for 740 yards and a team-high eight touchdowns.
Wide receiver absolutely makes sense with this pick, but I’m not sure that receiver should necessarily be Peoples-Jones, who showed some inconsistent ball skills in Ann Arbor and relied perhaps too much on his own athleticism rather than route running.