As I continue to try to present potential 2021 NFL Draft scenarios for the New York Giants, you might call this one the ‘Dave Gettleman would never do this’ mock draft. Let’s get into it, and you will easily see why.
In the end, I’m sure some of you will end up calling this the “what not to do” mock draft. This is either a very cool mock draft because of what it accomplishes long term, or the worst mock draft I have ever done. i’m not sure which. What I am sure of, though, is that you will tell me.
Round 1 (No. 11) — TRADE!!
Kyle Pitts, Penei Sewell, Rashawn Slater and Micah Parsons are all on the board. I would be thrilled to take any of them, to be honest, but the Los Angeles Chargers have come along and offered picks 13 and 47 for 11 and 76. I’ll take that. I mean, at worst, two of those four players are going to be available just two picks later, and I add an additional second-round pick.
Round 1 (No. 13) — TRADE!!
Yes, again! And yes, I’m aware that Giants GM Dave Gettleman has never traded down in eight drafts and I think some fans would faint if he actually did it twice. Still, I’m doing this draft my way.
Much to my surprise, the Chargers used the No. 11 overall pick I traded to them to select Alabama running back Najee Harris at 11. The Philadelphia Eagles bummed me out a little, and surprised me again, by taking Rashawn Slater at 12.
Still, I’m staring at a board that consists of Pitts, Sewell, Parsons and Azeez Ojulari. That’s a home run for the Giants because there isn’t a wrong choice. Who would I take if I actually made a pick here? I’m not telling. Well, OK, I’m not telling because I can’t make up my mind.
Yet, I’m trading out of here. The Pittsburgh Steelers are offering me picks 24 and 55, along with a 2022 third-round pick. I’m not moving down that far. Sorry, Steelers!
The Indianapolis Colts, though, have come to the table with an interesting offer. For picks 13 and 116, the Colts are ponying up (see what I did there?) pick No. 21 and a first-round pick in 2022. I have been clear that it’s best to stay in the top 20, but for a one-pick difference I am not saying no to that 2022 first-rounder. Besides, since I’m painting scenarios let’s look at this one. It might be instructive.
Round 1 (No. 21) — Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC
A plug-and-play starting guard is a perfect fit for the Giants, and Vera-Tucker happens to be excellent value at 21. At 11? Maybe not so much.
Still, this illustrates the danger Gettleman talks about in perhaps moving down too far. Pitts, the hybrid tight end who is a top five talent in this class, fell to the Miami Dolphins at No. 18. Azeez Ojulari, my preferred edge rusher for the Giants, went to the Chicago Bears at No. 20.
I still had Michigan edge Kwity Paye, Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins, Penn State edge Jayson Oweh, Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley, Kentucky linebacker Jamin Davis and Oklahoma State offensive tackle Teven Jenkins to choose from. That’s plenty of value. I went with Vera-Tucker. Not nearly as sexy as staying at 13 after my first trade and selecting from Pitts/Parsons/Sewell/Ojulari, but it still helps the 2021 Giants.
Dane Brugler of The Athletic has Vera-Tucker as the top-ranked guard in his 2021 NFL Draft guide with a pure Round 1 grade.
Although his anchor can improve, Vera-Tucker is coordinated in pass protection and his punch connects with flat feet and natural force to win early and reset throughout the rep. He creates a surge in the run game and competes with the play personality required for the pro level. Overall, Vera-Tucker does an outstanding job centering his blocks and sustaining due to his balanced feet, strong hands and quick processing. He projects as an NFL starting guard with a Pro Bowl ceiling and tackle versatility.
Round 2 (No. 42) — Jaelan Phillips, Edge, Miami
Without his concussion history Phillips would probably be a top 15 pick. In the real draft, someone (maybe even the Giants at No. 11) might still take the risk. Phillips missed half the 2018 season while at UCLA and then didn’t play in 2019 because of the concussion before resurfacing with a dominant performance at Miami in 2020.
Hall of Fame talent evaluator Gil Brandt compares Phillips to veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn.
The 30-year-old Quinn might be coming off a disappointing two-sack season with the Bears, but he was still roaming opposing backfields with regularity as recently as 2019, when he piled up 11.5 sacks for the Cowboys. And early in his career with the Rams, Quinn was one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, accumulating 40 sacks between 2012 and ‘14, the third-most in the NFL in that span.
The speed Phillips showed off at Miami’s pro day — he ran a 4.56 40 — is unusual for a player his size (6-5½, 260 pounds) and makes it somewhat challenging to find a suitable pro comparison (especially after I already paired the even speedier Oweh with Hunter). Still, Quinn’s pro-day 40 (4.59) wasn’t that far off, even if his combine 40 (4.62) was slower. And Phillips’ other measurables, including a 1.59-second 10-yard split, a 7.13-second three-cone, a 10-5 broad jump and a 36-inch vertical, are similar to Quinn’s (1.61 10-yard split, 7.13 three-cone, 9-8 broad jump, 34-inch vertical). Like Quinn back in 2011, Phillips boasts fairly refined pass-rushing skills heading into the NFL. When he’s on, Quinn is a tireless pursuer, often coming from behind the play to sack the quarterback, and Phillips has flashed a similar relentlessness.
Phillips might be more down lineman/pure pass rusher (a la Markus Golden) than defensive coordinator Patrick Graham might find ideal. His pass rush skills are undeniable, though, and he could complement Lorenzo Carter nicely.
Brugler has a Round 1-2 grade on Phillips. He writes:
After medically retiring following his third concussion in college, he transferred from UCLA to Miami and reminded the football world why he was the No. 1 recruit in the 2017 class, leading the Hurricanes with 15.5 tackles for loss and 8.0 sacks (both second in ACC). With his natural twitch, Phillips is very smooth in his upfield attack and redirect, using his hands/reach as weapons and rushing with his curls on fire. His eyes stay locked on the ball and allow him to see through blockers, making him equally productive vs. the run and the pass. Overall, Phillips has first-round talent with his body type, twitchy athleticism and nose for the football, but the medical feedback will ultimately decide his NFL Draft grade. He projects as a high-energy rusher similar to Ryan Kerrigan when healthy.
Round 2 (No. 47) — TRADE!!
Yes, again! Trader Ed has gone wild!!!
I fully intended to make a selection here, and this is where some of you will think this mock goes completely off the rails. The New England Patriots came along here with an offer that, in my view, presents me with a really intriguing long-range scenario. The Patriots offered pick No. 96 (end of Round 3) and second- and third-round picks in 2022 for picks 47 and 201.
I said yes.
In case you have lost track, I now have six picks (two in each of Rounds 1, 2 and 3) in the 2022 draft. I only have four picks in this draft, but the value and opportunity the New England offer presented to play the long game was simply too inviting to pass up. Especially after I had already upgraded both the offensive line and pass rush for 2021.
I’m not sure this is a game Gettleman can afford to play. It would require a great deal of confidence on his part about his future, or a simple willingness to potentially be acquiring picks for a different GM, but I would be surprised if Gettleman would make this move considering the emphasis ownership seems to be placing on the 2021 season. Still, I can play amateur GM for as many more years as I feel like it so I can do this, take the heat if you think I’m nuts, and come back next week with a new mock draft.
Round 3 (No. 96) — Nico Collins, WR, Michigan
This is the pick I got from my move down with the Patriots. I’m thrilled to land Collins, one of my favorite wide receivers in this draft class, in this spot.
In truth, the 6-foot-4¼, 215-pound Collins reminds me of Giants’ free-agent acquisition Kenny Golladay when Golladay was coming out of Northern Illinois in 2017. The 6-4, 214-pound Golladay was selected, coincidentally, 96th in that draft by the Detroit Lions.
I love the speed, the size, the vertical element Collins offers and the strength at the catch point.
Brugler has a Round 3 grade on Collins. He writes:
Collins lined up both inside and outside in offensive coordinator Josh Gattis’ pro spread scheme. He never reached 40 catches in a season with unimpressive production, but the Wolverines’ inconsistent quarterback play limited his statistical output. Collins is a plus athlete for his size with the foot quickness and body control to win above the rim. Though he shows flashes of a playmaker, he must consistently play up to his size and improve on tight-window throws. Overall, Collins isn’t a sudden or energetic player who will consistently separate underneath, but he is an impressive height, weight, speed prospect with the smooth routes and dependability to push for an NFL starting role (N’Keal Harry style player).
Round 6 (No. 196) — Jaret Patterson, RB, Buffalo
There is undeniably some recency bias in my choice of Patterson here, since I just wrote about him on Friday. Still, when fantastic skill position analyst Matt Waldman says Patterson possesses DeAngelo Williams-type upside and I can get that in the sixth round I will take that without thinking twice.
A chunk-play creator in college, Patterson is a competitive runner with the vision and balance to pick through the defense and slalom around roadblocks. However, he feasted on some poor run fronts and tackling in the MAC, and his lack of explosiveness and contact power will make it much tougher to elude tacklers in the NFL. Overall, Patterson doesn’t have ideal size/power/speed of an early-down back or the pass-catching or blocking skills of a third-down back, but he runs with quick feet and boundless energy. He projects similar to a Myles Gaskin type of NFL runner.
Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus says Patterson has the best vision of any back in the draft class.
Sheesh, vicious cut in a phone booth!! Jaret Patterson possesses some of the best footwork in the class!!— Damian Parson (@DP_NFL) November 20, 2020