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2021 NFL Draft: Options on defense for every Giants selection

Linebacker? Edge? Everything?

NCAA Football: Cincinnati at UCLA Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

We’re almost there, friends.

The 2021 NFL Draft is just hours away now, and the New York Giants enter the weekend with six picks at their disposal. There are obviously a number of ways the draft could play out, but if the Giants are looking to build around Daniel Jones, then you might want to check out a piece from yesterday much like this one, looking at options for the Giants at every spot in the draft on offense.

But what about defense? If that’s what you’re interested in, then this is your kind of piece. Here are some options on the defensive side of the football for each of the Giants’ selections in the upcoming draft.

Round 1: Pick 11 overall

A common option for the Giants with their selection in the first round is the EDGE position, and there are three names commonly associated with New York with this selection at 11. First up is Jaelan Phillips, a talented pass rusher from Miami who comes with a bit of an injury history, given the concussions that forced him into an early retirement. But he came back to the sport and put together a great season last year for the Hurricanes, propelling him into the first-round discussion. Then there is Azeez Ojulari from Georgia, a long and explosive pass rusher who wins on the outside, but needs to round out his game with some counter moves as well as showing he can finish on the inside. Finally, there is Kwity Paye from Michigan, a player who is gaining some momentum as the draft approaches.

Linebacker is another position that Dave Gettleman could address, and Micah Parsons could be in play here if the off-ball LB slides. He is an elite talent at the position but character concerns follow him from Penn State. Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Tulsa’s Zaven Collins are other first-round options.

Could New York address the secondary? If so, Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn might be in play, although teams like the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles — via a rumored trade up — might spoil those options. A dark horse might be Caleb Farley from Virginia Tech who is a very talented player but a recent back surgery could see him slide out of the first round completely.

Finally, there is the defensive line. This is a thin position group and while Big Blue returns Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence among others, Christian Barmore might be on their radar. Given the other needs I would imagine this is more of a long-shot option, but if it might be on their radar I want to make sure it is on yours.

Round 2: Pick 42 overall

If the Giants address offense in the first, then you would think defense, and in particular the EDGE spot, is a certainty in the second round. The first two players that come to mind are Joseph Ossai from Texas and Jayson Oweh from Penn State. Now thanks to his incredible pro day Oweh might not be available, and I could be higher on Ossai than consensus — I have Ossai at 31 on my personal Top 200 while he checks in in the 40th spot on the Consensus Big Board curated by Arif Hasan from The Athletic — but I would consider him at 42 for sure. Joe Tryon from Washington might sneak into the first round, but he is an option here along with Gregory Rousseau from Miami, another player getting first-round buzz.

I truly believe that if the Giants are making a defensive pick in the second round it means they have to address EDGE because of what they did in the first, but other player to mention at this point are linebacker Jabril Cox from LSU and cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. from Florida State.

Round 3: Pick 76 overall

Now that we are deeper into the draft we can open up the potential positions a bit more. I still think the Giants must address EDGE before this pick, but if the board fell a way that allowed them to address other positions due to value or talent, then third-round options at EDGE include Payton Turner form Houston, Ronnie Perkins from Oklahoma, Janarius Robinson from Florida State, Cameron Sample from Tulane, Hamilcar Rashed Jr. from Oregon State and a player I know I’m higher on than most, Duke’s Victor Dimukeje.

Provided other positions have been addressed, this could be a spot to dip into the secondary market. Players like Paulson Adebo from Stanford, Ambry Thomas from Michigan (who I value as a potential press-man cornerback) and Trill Williams from Syracuse could be in play. There are also intriguing slot options like Elijah Molden from Washington and Aaron Robinson from UCF, although Molden is a bit of an interesting evaluation:

Looking at defensive tackle, options to consider at this point in the draft include Alim McNeill from N.C. State, Milton Williams from Louisiana Tech — although he is getting early Day Two buzz — Daviyon Nixon from Iowa, and Marvin Wilson from Florida State.

Finally there is the linebacker spot. Jabril Cox could slide to the third round and would represent great value at this point. If not, Pete Werner from Ohio State and Monty Rice from Georgia are options. There is also Dylan Moses from Alabama, a talented player who never fully put it all together during his time in college but someone I remain personally high on.

Round 4: Pick 116 overall

As we get into this point it is time to go hunting for value. If Marvin Wilson, the Florida State defensive tackle, slips into this range he would be a great selection. This is a player who just over a year ago was considered a first-round pick, and he could certainly be in play. Another defensive tackle to consider, in addition to those mentioned at 76, is Marlon Tuipulotu from USC.

At cornerback, two players in this range of note are Shakur Brown from Michigan State, a solid press-man option, and Thomas Graham Jr. from Oregon, who had a solid Senior Bowl week. Zech McPhearson from Texas Tech is a slot option generating some attention as the draft looms.

At linebacker some players to watch include Chazz Surratt, the former quarterback turned linebacker for UNC, and Cameron McGrone from Michigan.

Again, I would assume the Giants have addressed EDGE by now but if any of the players mentioned at 76 are still available, there should not be any hesitation in making them the pick at 116. UAB’s Jordan Smith, Vanderbilt’s Dayo Odeyingbo and Elerson Smith from Northern Iowa are also options.

Round 6: Pick 196 overall/Pick 201 overall

To bring the draft to a close — at least New York’s portion of the proceedings — we can look at a few options midway through the sixth round. Richard LeCounte III from Georgia is a talented safety who tested poorly, and while the Giants do not have a pressing need at that spot his ability is worth consideration. Deommodore Lenoir from Oregon is an option at slot cornerback at this point in the draft, and you could also look at Antonio Phillips from Ball State or Robert Rochelle from Central Arkansas this late in the game.

A linebacker that I do like later on day three is Garrett Wallow from TCU, and I know the brilliant Emory Hunt is high on him. When Emory mentions a prospect I listen, and you should too. There is also Tony Fields II from West Virginia.

Two EDGE prospects to consider at this point Saturday are Notre Dame’s Daelin Hayes, and Tulane’s Patrick Johnson.


So there you have it, a ton of player to consider on the defensive side of the football for the New York Giants at every spot in the draft. I am sure they draft none of them...