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Mel Kiper: Giants “have to think about” drafting Rashawn Slater

ESPN draft guru says offensive line holds key to Giants’ 2021 fortunes

NCAA Football: Big Ten Conference-Football Championship-Northwestern vs Ohio State Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Mel Kiper sees what pretty much everyone else sees when they look at the New York Giants. After all of the work they have done so far this offseason to build a support structure for third-year quarterback Daniel Jones, it is the team’s young and largely unproven offensive line that holds the key to their fortunes.

“I would not count out the Giants drafting an offensive lineman (at No. 11),” Kiper said. “You’ve gotta fix that spot or Daniel Jones is going to have no chance, even though you’ve got some receivers now with (Kenny) Golladay coming in, you could add Jaylen Waddle, you could add a lineman, could add a linebacker like Micah Parsons. They have some needs they have to address in this draft, it’s doing to be interesting to see how they attack it.

“I really want to see what they do to get this offensive line fixed and get this offensive line to play at a high level because to me that holds the whole key to what kind of year the Giants have.”

To that end, Kiper said the Giants “would have to think about” drafting Northwestern offensive lineman Rashawn Slater at No. 11 regardless of who else is in the board in the 2021 NFL Draft.

“Slater’s a heckuva player,” Kiper said. “He can play left tackle, right tackle or guard, so he can wear a lot of hats on that offensive line … if Slater’s there he would be really interesting.”

Kiper was also asked where Andrew Thomas, taken No. 4 overall by the Giants last season, would slot in this year’s tackle class.

Kiper said Thomas would be No. 3 behind Penei Sewell and Slater. He also re-litigated last year’s draft by saying he had Thomas ranked behind offensive tackles Mekhi Becton, Tristan Wirfs and Jedrick Wills.

“Dave Gettleman took a gamble on a player that was that left tackle,” Kiper said. “He went with a guy that had the experience at left tackle even though he wasn’t as good a player as those other guys at the collegiate level. This is a key year for Andrew Thomas. He’s been a disappointment up until this point. He’s got to be a really good left tackle this year.”