It is, perhaps, a sign of the times that ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. is including trades in his latest mock draft.
Let’s get the obvious part out of the way first: No, the New York Giants aren’t trading — up or down — in Kiper’s mock draft.
A sign of what in particular? Well, that’s probably up to interpretation (he says that he’s only doing trades because Todd McShay did trades). It could be that the decision is related to the amount of turnover at the quarterback position around the league, or the unusually high turnover in NFL front offices this cycle. Or perhaps some teams are signaling that that they will be aggressive in pursuing young passers with the salary cap contracting this year.
Or maybe he’s just getting a bit bored with his usual mock draft format.
But as surprising as Kiper’s decision to include trades in his mock draft is, it’s equally unsurprising that the New York Giants aren’t among the teams trading.
Kiper has the Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, and New England Patriots all trading up for quarterbacks (Zach Wilson - No. 2 overall, Justin Fields - No. 7 overall, Trey Lance - No. 9 overall, respectively).
With those moves made above the Giants, they stand pat and select Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle.
11. New York Giants - Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Can the Giants get Daniel Jones a No. 1 receiver? He has had Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton and tight end Evan Engram as his top targets the past two seasons, and they’ve struggled with inconsistency and staying on the field. Now is the time to get a full evaluation of Jones. If they don’t wade into the free-agent waters, Waddle is the best option at No. 11. He is the top deep threat in this class and is electric with the ball in his hands.
I can’t disagree with Kiper’s reasoning for Waddle. With Kyle Pitts (Jets, No. 4 overall) and Ja’Marr Chase (Eagles, No. 6 overall) off the board, Waddle is probably the Giants’ best option for a wide receiver. I know a large segment of the fanbase wants a BIG receiver, but let’s not forget how successful Hakeem Nicks (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) and Odell Beckham Jr. (5-foot-11, 200 pounds) were — in fact, the most common size for a 1,000-yard receiver is around 6-foot-1, 205 pounds. Yes, Waddle is a bit smaller than that, but his size shouldn’t be a problem at the NFL level.
Some will also point to a small sample size, which is certainly a concern. But it’s also important to recognize that Waddle was behind Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, DeVonta Smith, and Najee Harris in the pecking order. There’s only so many touches to spread around, and Waddle’s ability as a blocker probably worked against him there. But when he did get the ball he leaped off the tape. Waddle is a good-enough route runner to stretch the defense and get open down the field and he is just electric with the ball in his hands. Having a true number one receiver with (reportedly) 4.2 speed could be transformative for the Giants’ offense.
It is also noteworthy that Kiper passes on Micah Parsons in this scenario, who goes 12th overall to the Detroit Lions.