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Playing the odds: Examining the pros, cons of some of the most likely picks for Giants at No. 11

What might the New York Giants do with their first selection?

NFL: New York Giants-Blue & White Scrimmage Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL draft fast approaching many analysts and fans are trying to put their own hours of work studying the draft to use in search of financial gain. After all, you can bet on pretty much anything associated with the draft. Thanks to the fine people over at FanDuel Sportsbook, we can view their odds for the New York Giants’ first selection on Thursday night:

With that in mind, here are 10 interesting options for Giants fans to consider, both in terms of how they would fit on the roster, and a potential play should you be interested in playing along. Just remember to do so responsibly.

  • DeVonta Smith, WR (+300)

I do think that two things are possible. First, DeVonta Smith might slide a bit on Thursday night. Why? The profile of a 166-pound NFL wide receiver is not one that will give NFL general managers the warm and fuzzies. You are betting on a true outlier, and that is something that NFL decision makers often try and avoid in the top of the first round. So there is a chance Smith will be on the board when the Giants are on the clock, whether they stay at 11 or even if they slide back a few spots with a willing trading partner trying to come up for a quarterback.

But while I think the scheme fit is right, and that Smith can be that kind of true outlier given his footwork and ability to consistently separate from SEC cornerbacks, you need to ask yourself whether Dave Gettleman is the kind of general manager to go in on such a potential outlier. Does Gettleman seem like the kind of GM who will draft a WR of Smith’s size profile? I think it is possible, but not to the point that I would put my own money at risk.

  • Jaylen Waddle, WR (+380)

As a fan of Jaylen Waddle’s, this might be a play I would be more comfortable making instead of Smith at +300.

I love Waddle from a film study standpoint, due to his combination of explosiveness and route-running savvy. His ability to show pace and patience on routes such as crossers and double-moves makes him and intriguing study and a player that could contribute immediately. While he does not have the size of a traditional X receiver and is probably more of a slot or a Z receiver type, the Giants run a lot of 11 personnel and with the presence of Kenny Golladay on the outside, that frees up the other two roles for Waddle.

  • Rashawn Slater, OT (+500)

Honestly this screams a Gettleman pick to me.

Rashawn Slater might not be available when the Giants are on the clock Thursday night. Looking at the teams picking ahead of them two organizations stand out as options for the Northwestern offensive lineman: the Detroit Lions and the Carolina Panthers. Perhaps the Lions believe they are set with players like Tyrell Crosby at right tackle and a pair of 2020 mid round picks in Logan Stenberg and Jonah Jackson at guard, but if not, Slater could be an option for them. Carolina seems almost an ideal landing spot, given that the Panthers are probably out of the quarterback market given the Sam Darnold acquisition.

Still, if Slater is available when the Giants are on the clock you have to think Gettleman gives it serious consideration. Sure, Nate Solder is back, Andrew Thomas showed what he is capable of down the stretch last year, and Matt Peart performed well for a third-round selection. Even still, some believe Slater’s best NFL home is at guard, and he could slide into the RG spot to open the season and then kick outside if necessary, whether next year or in 2022.

  • Micah Parsons, LB (+600)

Is drafting an off-ball linebacker in the Top 15 of the NFL draft a move that Gettleman might make? Absolutely.

Might Micah Parsons, the talented Penn State ‘backer, be available when the Giants are on the clock Thursday night? Absolutely.

In fact, Peter King made Parsons the pick for Big Blue in his final mock draft, and few are as plugged in as he is.

Still, the reason why Parsons might slide down to 11 — and potentially past the Giants — is well-known. Between the lines Parsons might be a top five player overall, but NFL organizations are digging into some of the character questions swirling around the prospect. This piece from the New York Post dives into those concerns, as well as shares an anecdote that the Giants are “hoping another team takes him so they don’t have to decide.” Furthermore, that piece also references the type of culture that Joe Judge is trying to install in the locker room.

Between-the-lines, Parsons might be the quintessential pick for the Giants this season. But because of the other concerns, I’m staying away from this play.

  • Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT (+900)

We arrive at another offensive lineman. All the same caveats we discussed with Slater apply here with USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker. Nate Solder is back, Andrew Thomas showed what he is capable of down the stretch last year, and Matt Peart performed well for a third-round selection. Even still, some believe that like Slater Vera-Tucker’s best NFL home is at guard, and he could slide into the RG spot to open the season and then kick outside if necessary, whether next year or in 2022.

In almost every single mock draft I have done, I have slid Vera-Tucker into the 14th spot and the Minnesota Vikings. As such I believe he should be available when the Giants are on the clock, provided they do stay at 11 and make a selection. For the same reasons I think Slater could be in play, I think he could be in play as well. If Gettleman thinks the organization has done enough from a play-makers standpoint to help Jones, then making sure they have the best five options up front to protect him might be where he turns his focus next.

  • Kwity Paye, EDGE (+900)

Thanks to the smart minds behind NFL Mock Draft Database, we know that the three most-common picks for the Giants in mock drafts are as follows: Waddle, Smith and then Kwity Paye.

Given the odds, that might make Paye the smartest play in terms of maximizing a potential profit. We know the Giants have a need at EDGE, and on some boards Paye is the best prospect at the position.

For me, however, I lean in another direction at the position, with a player we will get to in a moment. Still, Paye’s ability to produce on the outside, set the edge against the run and kick inside gives him a ton of flexibility and offers traits that you know Patrick Graham will covet. That could make him a safe bet for the Giants on Thursday night.

  • Jaelan Phillips, EDGE (+1200)

Given the odds (+1200 gives this an implied probability of around 8%) and the fit, this seems like a smart play to me.

The Giants do have a need off the edge, and whether they address it at 11 or 42 you have to believe that one of their first selections is a pass rusher. From where I sit, Phillips is the best EDGE in the class, and the opportunity to turn $10 into around $120 seems like a worthwhile risk to take.

Speaking of risk, however, you have to remember the medical concerns. That might be the reason Phillips falls. For many he is the best pass rusher in the class, but it is hard to look past three concussions, the last of which forced him to retire early from the sport. Remove that risk factor and Phillips is probably a Top Ten pick with ease. But the medical risk might force some organization — including the Giants — to take a pass.

I’ll still probably throw a ten-spot at this one because I think the fit balanced with the need and the questions about this EDGE class as a whole, make it worth considering from the Giants’ perspective.

  • Azeez Ojulari, EDGE (+1700)

This is one that I would not touch right now.

That is not to say that I am down on Azeez Ojulari as a prospect. He stands as my own EDGE2 behind Phillips, for whatever that is worth. He has impressive natural ability to win on the outside with speed and length, and if he learns to counter tackles and/or win to the inside, he can be a tremendous EDGE in the NFL.

The fear is more about the recent injury news that has cropped up. Peter King reported this week that teams are “concerned” about his knee injury history. That might see Ojulari slide, and given the presence of both Paye and Phillips — as well as the idea of addressing the position at 42 — I’m struggling to make a strong case for Ojulari at 11.

  • Christian Darrisaw, OT (+2600)

There are two big reasons why I would be hesitant to place any money on Christian Darrisaw landing with the Giants.

First, the fit. While the two previous linemen discussed (Vera-Tucker and Slater) look like players that can kick inside and potentially help the Giants at RG while the tackle positions are sorted out, Darrisaw is more of a pure tackle option. Given the presence of Solder, Thomas and Peart I think it is far more likely that Gettleman prefers a player who has some potential on the inside over a player like Darrisaw.

The other concern? The Los Angeles Chargers. Rumblings in recent days connect the Chargers with a move into the Top Ten of the draft, perhaps with Darrisaw as a target. The organization — like all of us — saw what happened in Cincinnati this past season (and the big scar on Joe Burrow’s left knee) and they want to avoid a similar fate with Justin Herbert. So while the Giants could go offensive line, I’m not sure Darrisaw is the best option, and the odds reflect that notion.

  • Justin Fields, QB (+5000)

Heh.

When our fearless leader Ed gave me this assignment some of his exact words were...”obviously, it isn’t going to be a QB.”

Well...are we so sure?

I’ve talked at length about Daniel Jones, including on a show with our fearless leader recently, and how he can take a big step forward in 2021. Adding Golladay can play a huge part in that growth, and of course if the Giants add a playmaker on the outside with their first pick Thursday night (Waddle or Smith as previously discussed) then Jones will have a plethora of weapons at his disposal.

But the potential slide of Fields is something to consider. Seeing mock drafts from NFL insiders with the Ohio State product sliding all the way to 32 has me confounded, because at a certain point you would think the value that Fields offers would be too much for teams to turn down. Even teams with settled quarterback rooms picking in the 20s might consider drafting Fields because the value is too much to ignore. For example, would the Pittsburgh Steelers at 24 pass on a potential Ben Roethlisberger replacement to draft a running back?

If you believe that Fields is sliding — and for the record I do not and I think we are going to see him come off the board much sooner than some might be expecting — then this might not be a bad longshot bet.


So where are my hard-earned dollars going? Phillips, given the combination of fit, odds and talent.

Maybe along with a little Fields side bet to spice things up.