A few things caught me off guard on Thursday night, the first night of the 2021 NFL Draft. For starters, Dave Gettleman made the metaphorical right turn on a NASCAR race and traded back with the Chicago Bears, dropping nine picks and securing a 2022 first-rounder, fourth-rounder, and a 2021 fifth-round selection.
The top tier of pass-catchers were all off the board after the Eagles jumped the Giants to select DeVonta Smith, yet the Giants caught me off guard once again by going pass catcher at the 20th selection; it wasn’t Ole Miss’ Elijah Moore, nor was it Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman, but it was an electric playmaker out of Florida named Kadarius Toney.
I felt like the Giants may sit tight at 20 and select their top EDGE rusher; at this point, only the Miami Dolphins selected an EDGE and that was Jaelan Phillips out of the University of Miami. I figured the pick would be Michigan’s Kwity Paye or another EDGE, but New York wanted to continue with their additions of talented offensive playmakers to maximize the opportunity for third-year quarterback Daniel Jones.
If the Giants were targeting EDGE in the second round at 42, the last few picks in the first round did not treat them kindly; four out of the last five selections in the first round were edge rushers. Houston’s Payton Turner (Saints), Miami’s Gregory Rousseau (Buffalo), Penn State’s Jayson Oweh (Ravens), and Washington’s Joe Tryon (Buccaneers). EDGE may still be a priority, but the value may not be there in the second round. Let’s take a look at the best players available for the Giants to target on Day 2.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
A talented, hybrid, second-level defender who can play linebacker, apex/overhang, safety, and has some pass-rushing chops. Owusu-Koramoah, or JOK, is a versatile chess piece for any defense who is 6-foot-2, 221 pounds. He’s hard-hitting and an exciting sideline to sideline defender. JOK had 142 total tackles in his two seasons at Notre Dame; he also had 24.5 tackles for a loss, 7 sacks, an interception, 7 passes defended, and 5 forced fumbles. JOK is a bit undersized for a full-time linebacker role, and the Giants have a lot of talented second-level “hybrid safety” types, but his name has to be mentioned because of his talent, athletic ability, and upside.
Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
Concerns about his knee have circulated and may have led to his slide; I cannot speak to how degenerative or chronic those issues are, but I can say that Ojulari can play football and would fit well in this Patrick Graham system. He had 68 tackles, 18.5 tackles for a loss, 15 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, and 76 pressures in essentially two seasons (had only 37 snaps in 2018).
Ojulari is effective against the run, aggressive taking on pullers, has long 34-inch plus arms, and has one really effective pass rush move. He can still grow as a pass rusher and he has the ability to drop into short zones and cover a bit. He doesn’t possess unique bend in his lower half, but he can bend through contact and uses quickness/burst to get hip to hip and establish an advantageous half-man relationship with tackles up the arc. If the red flags with his knee aren’t devastating, he would be a great addition for the Giants if he lasts to the Giants’ pick at 42.
Teven Jenkins, OL, Oklahoma State
I don’t believe the Giants will be targeting exclusive tackles in the draft. They’ll look to add depth to their offensive line room, but more specifically at the guard spot or at least tackles that profile to guard - like Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins. The mauling former Cowboy has just over 33-inch arms, which is not ideal for the tackle position. He really surprised a lot of people at his pro day with fantastic testing numbers.
Jenkins a bit tall for a guard, but Nick Gates is a bit tall for a center, so I don’t envision that being an issue. Turn on his Texas film and you’ll see him dominate highly-regarded edge rusher Joseph Ossai. Adding a physical player like Jenkins with brute and excellent play strength would help the tough nature that Joe Judge and Dave Gettleman frequently preach about while shoring up one of the guard spots and allowing Shane Lemieux and Will Hernandez to battle it out for the other.
Creed Humphrey, IOL, Oklahoma
Humphrey tested very well at his pro day and he is one of the more consistent football players in this draft. He is very technically sound and has all the strength that is desired in a center while adding all the intangibles. Humphrey is also an alpha male, who is a two-time captain that is heralded for his leadership of the Sooners offense. I also love when these trench guys have wrestling backgrounds; his understanding of how to manipulate leverage really shows up on his film, and his background in wrestling makes sense.
Landon Dickerson, IOL, Alabama
Much like Creed Humphrey, Dickerson was a natural leader for the Alabama Crimson Tide after he transferred from Florida State. Dickerson tore his ACL in the SEC title game against Florida, and he has many other injuries throughout his collegiate history that have to be monitored. Dickerson combines play strength with unique bend for a man of his massive size, while also bringing intelligence and powerful hands to an offensive line. If he stays healthy, he’s going to be a steal for a team on Day 2 - maybe that team will be the New York Giants.
Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
Ossai played linebacker for the majority of his college career before lining up almost exclusively as an EDGE in 2020. He recorded 165 tackles, 30 for a loss, 11.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 5 forced fumbles in college. Also had 72 pressures, 32 of them coming in 2020 as an EDGE defender.
Ossai is great in pursuit and has an excellent motor at all times. He’s somewhat of a linear athlete and doesn’t possess elite bend, but he still has a lot of upside, due to his raw nature at the EDGE position. The Giants are looking for two-way defenders who can execute multiple roles, and Ossai is that type of defender.
Carlos Basham, EDGE, Wake Forest
A big 6-3, 274-pound EDGE defender that has the ability to play all over the line of scrimmage. He was very productive at Wake Forest, recording 173 tackles, 35.5 for a loss, 19.5 sacks, 8 passes defended, and 7 forced fumbles while playing an enormous amount of snaps. Also added 152 total pressures through four seasons in college. Plays with a higher pad level and isn’t fluid in his lower half, but he wins with power and effective hand usage. Is a crafty pass rusher who has a good burst for a player weighing 274 pounds.
Ronnie Perkins, EDGE, Oklahoma
I’ve seen a lot of draft analysts mock Perkins to the Giants at 42 - I didn’t love it because a lot of them were passing on players like Oweh or Tryon for the pick. Both of those players are now selected, so I believe it’s necessary to add Perkins to this list. In three seasons, Perkins has 98 tackles, 32 for a loss, and 16.5 sacks, while playing relatively well against Teven Jenkins.
Perkins has power in his hands and has shown the ability to convert speed to power. He has explosiveness but doesn’t really have a pass rush plan yet. He plays with good competitive toughness and flies around the field, acting as a good pursuit defender. The EDGEs started flying off the board towards the end of the draft, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Giants looking towards Perkins.
Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State
Samuel is great in man coverage and would have been a first-round selection if he wasn’t only 5-10, 180 pounds. Samuel Jr. is incredibly fluid and possesses all the movement skills that are desired in a cornerback; I believe he has the ability to play boundary on the outside, but some teams may attempt to move him into the nickel spot. He has 97 tackles, 3 for a loss, 4 interceptions, and 29 passes defended in his three seasons with Florida State. Love the bloodlines, and the Giants still may be looking to add depth to their secondary - they could do a lot worse than Asante Samuel Jr.
Jabril Cox, LB, LSU
The North Dakota State transfer is 6-3, 232 pounds, and excels with his fluidity and movement skills in space. Cox is the type of modern-day linebacker that a lot of NFL teams are looking for: fast, can cover, can blitz, and he’s not a liability against the run. He’s played in multiple schemes, executed varying assignments, and has superior athletic ability. Has 11 passes defended and 8 interceptions through his time in both programs, while securing 199 tackles. If the Giants are looking to upgrade the linebacker position next to Blake Martinez, Cox is a perfect addition.