The New York Giants had a huge range of possible draft slots coming into week 17.
Depending on the outcome of the final week of the regular season, the Giants could have been drafting anywhere from third overall to 32nd overall, based on whether they won or lost their game against the Dallas Cowboys, what happened around the league, whether the Washington Football Team beat the Philadelphia Eagles, and (if they made it in) how far the Giants could have gone in the playoffs.
After all is said and done, the draft order for the first 18 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft is set and the Giants are picking 11th overall. While they don’t have the potential choices of blue chip talent or trade scenarios as if they were drafting 3rd overall, they are in a good spot to get potentially elite talent at premium positions of need.
As of this writing, we have 115 days (give or take a few hours) until the first round starts, in which we’ll be discussing, dissecting, and overanalyzing just about every facet of the upcoming draft. But for now I just wanted to take a look at how the draft could play out with the current seeding.
Round 1 - 11th overall
Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
I came into this draft looking to address the wide receiver position in the first round, but that just wasn’t an option in this mock, as Ja’Marr Chase [Prospect Profile], Jaylen Waddle [Prospect Profile], Kyle Pitts [Prospect Profile], and DeVonta Smith [Prospect Profile] were all selected in the top 10.
So with filling a top need no longer an option, I decided to reinforce a strength.
Farley is a converted quarterback with a rare blend of size and elite physical skills. Weighing in at 6-foot-2, 197 pounds, Farley has the kind of speed, quickness, agility, fluidity, and length that coaches and scouts drool over. He also has great ability in press-man coverage, able to disrupt receivers and stay in phase with them throughout their route. Farley is also disruptive at the catch point, using his size to match up with physical receivers and has excellent ball skills. He opted out of the 2020 season, but had 12 passes defensed and 4 interceptions (1 touchdown) in 2019.
Zone coverage has been a big part of the Giants’ defense, but that’s the weakness of his game. The good news there is that he’s still new to the cornerback position and should improve his zone coverage skills with experience and coaching.
Pairing Farley with James Bradberry could give the Giants a legitimately elite secondary that’s a nightmare for any offense to face.
- Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina) - Prospect Profile
- Gregory Rousseau (EDGE, Miami) - Prospect Profile
All of my choices here were on the defensive side of the ball because I didn’t have any good ones on the offensive side. It seems unrealistic to me that the top four receiving options would go in the first 10 picks, but this mock doesn’t have trades. I was sorely tempted to go with Horn, as he might be my favorite DB in this draft and I think he could mature into a Stephon Gilmore type corner.
Drafting Rousseau is a possibility as well, but the top of the second round might offer better value at the EDGE position. Also, Rousseau is a bit of a project as he learns to use his physical skills and hone his craft as a rusher. Drafting him would mean the onus would be on Patrick Graham and the Giants’ position coaches to make the pick work out.
Round 2 - 43rd overall
Azeez Ojulari (EDGE, Georgia)
Frankly, Ojulari is a steal here. He is a young (red-shirt sophomore) and undersized (6-foot-3, 240-pound) EDGE player, but he is an advanced rusher and an ascendant talent.
Ojulari shows polished hand usage to capitalize on explosive athleticism and impressive lower-body flexibility to be a menace off the edge. The Giants badly need a consistent pass rusher who can win quickly off the edge and doesn’t rely on exotic coverage looks to force QBs to hold the ball. Ojulari can certainly win with speed as well as technique and he has surprising power as well. He also has the ability to be effective dropping into coverage on occasion, which can be be an asset to the Giants’ blitz packages.
He finished his college career with a thunderous exclaimation point, racking up 3 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles in Georgia’s Peach Bowl win over Cincinnati. It would not be a surprise to see Ojulari taken in the first round, so I’m thrilled to get him here.
- Wyatt Davis (iOL, Ohio State)
The option here might depend on whether or not Kevin Zeitler is still on the team come draft time. The Giants could look to shed his $12 million cap hit. Davis is a key lineman on a good OSU offensive front and could add another young starter to give the Giants stability up front for the foreseeable future.
Round 3 - 75th overall
Seth Williams, WR, Auburn
Williams might be something of a reach at this draft slot, but I felt the need to come away with a receiver after going defense with my first two picks. Williams is a big, strong, “X” receiver at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds who is a natural hands catcher who can dominate at the catch point. Williams should be an every-down threat at the NFL level, and give the Giants a physical presence in short-yardage and Red Zone situations.
Finding a true No. 1 receiver who can line up at the “X” position on the line of scrimmage play-in, play-out has to be a priority for the Giants. Sterling Shepard is a dependable receiver who can keep the offense on schedule and turn in big plays when they’re there to be made, but both the tape and the stats show that he’s at his best playing the majority of his snaps out of the slot. Darius Slayton is a speedster who can stretch the defense vertically, but he is really much more of a big-play WR3, like Mario Manningham, Miles Austin, or Ted Ginn Jr., than a No. 1 receiver.
Getting a player who can consistently execute from the “X” position would allow both Shepard and Slayton to play their natural roles in the offense and make everyone better.
- Paris Ford (S, Pittsburgh) - Prospect Profile
- Hamsah Nasirildeen (S/LB, FSU)
- Jaylen Twyman (iDL, Pittsburgh)
The Giants are fairly well-stocked at the safety position, but we’ve also seen how Patrick Graham likes to employ them and how hard attrition can hit the secondary. Ford and Nasirildeen are intriguing players who could fill a variety of roles in the Giants’ defense, though Nasirildeen does come with injury concerns which knocked him out of the running for me.
The Giants certainly have enough defensive tackles, but Twyman is a different kind of player than the ones the Giants have collected. Undersized and an explosive pass rusher, Twyman will likely see more than a few comparisons to fellow Pitt alum Aaron Donald before the draft process is done.
I can’t say I’d be upset at all if the first two nights of the draft ended like this. While they absolutely need to add a premier wide receiver to their offense, that just wasn’t an option in the first two rounds. That being said, I’m certainly happy to give Patrick Graham more toys with which to scheme. Likewise, I’m happy to reinforce two cornerstone positions which (for various reasons) have been holes in recent years.
I ignored free agency in making this draft, but I do hope that both wide receiver and EDGE are both addressed before the crapshoot that is the NFL Draft.
And while we don’t know what the Giants’ team needs will be come draft time, or whether any of these players will be available in these spots, a draft that looks generally like this could go a long way toward making the Giants consistently competitive for years to come.