It’s always great to have a plan. I had one entering this version of my weekly 2021 NFL mock draft, and by the time the 11th pick rolled around that plan had already been blasted to smithereens.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to improve the New York Giants as a football in the upcoming NFL Draft, and a number of ways I can envision things working out. Let’s see what happened here.
Round 1 (No. 11) — Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
This pick did not really work out the way I had hoped, though I’m not at all unhappy about landing Waddle.
I have been thinking a lot lately about my long-held build from the lines out philosophy, and realizing that in this cycle I feel like as I have done these weekly mock drafts I have sort of fallen into the ‘go for the sexy pick’ trap. That was fine before the Giants signed Kenny Golladay. It’s really not fine now.
I’ve been thinking about the last three times the Giants had real first-round playmaker vs. offensive lineman choices. Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Zack Martin in 2014; Evan Engram vs. Ryan Ramczyk in 2017; Saquon Barkley vs. Quenton Nelson (or trade down) in 2018. The Giants went for the playmaker every time, and I think you can make the case that they got it wrong in all three instances.
I’ve settled on the idea that I’m not allowing that to happen. I’m also cognizant of Giants co-owner John Mara saying a few days ago that the Giants don’t feel pressure to select a wide receiver in the first two rounds. So, receiver here wasn’t really the plan.
Unfortunately, in this mock Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell went to the Atlanta Falcons at No. 4 and Northwestern offensive lineman Rashawn Slater went to the Detroit Lions at No. 7. USC offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker is available and mock drafters have increasingly pegged him to the Giants here. I’m not convinced yet that Vera-Tucker belongs in the discussion this early.
Also, linebacker Micah Parsons of Penn State went to the Denver Broncos at No. 9. That removed another viable option.
I could go for Georgia edge Azeez Ojulari, or, according the Pro Football Network board, reach for Miami edge Jaelan Phillips or Penn State edge Jayson Oweh.
Alabama quarterback Mac Jones is still on the board and I tried to entice the simulator into a trade down to No. 15 with the New England Patriots. The lowest return I was willing to take was New England’s 15th and 96th overall picks, and the simulator wouldn’t bite. So, I just made a pick.
For me, this ends up a choice between Waddle and tight end Kyle Pitts. Honestly, it’s a coin flip. You can make the case for either guy and I don’t think you would be wrong. In this case, even though I wrote glowingly about Pitts on Friday and would love to have him, I’m choosing Waddle. The Giants want more verticality in their passing game and more explosive plays, and no one in this draft is better in those areas than Waddle. Plus, there is the dynamic return element he offers.
Did I get this right?
In this scenario, would you prefer selecting Jaylen Waddle or Kyle Pitts?
This poll is closed
Round 2 (No. 42) — Landon Dickerson, OL, Alabama
Miami edge rusher Jaelan Phillips is available here. That makes this a choice between adding the edge rusher Patrick Graham’s defense could really use in Phillips, or grabbing the guy who might be the last top-tier plug and play interior offensive lineman on the board.
Potential guard convert Alex Leatherwood is off the board. So, too, are Creed Humphrey, Wyatt Davis and Trey Smith. Entering this draft, I was determined to add a starting-caliber player to this position group. Here, I make sure I do that. The way these mock drafts have worked out continually, I’m pretty confident I can land an edge rusher with upside a bit later.
So, what position do I envision for Dickerson? I know he’s a good center, but he is also a guy who has experience across the line. I’m leaving Nick Gates alone, plugging Dickerson in at right guard and expecting that he probably beats out Zach Fulton and whichever of Shane Lemieux or Will Hernandez is in competition on that side.
There are some injury concerns, but it’s pretty obvious Dickerson is healthy right now.
Landon Dickerson is wild. pic.twitter.com/EobjO7QphV— SECBallTalk (@SECBallTalk) March 31, 2021
Round 3 (No. 76) — Joe Tryon, Edge, Washington
Remember what I said about being confident I could land an edge rusher with upside beyond Round 2? Well, over and over in mock drafts using the PFN board, Tryon is available in the third round — sometimes later.
Is that realistic? We know Emory Hunt of Football Gameplan thinks Tryon is the draft’s best edge rusher. More and more, we see Tryon selected by the middle of Round 2 in mock drafts. It might be unlikely, but no one really knows for certain. In this scenario, he’s on the board. I’m not letting him get by. And I’m even happier about my decision to select Dickerson in Round 2.
Other players considered: Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan; Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky; Amon Ra-St. Brown, WR, USC; Walker Little, OT, Stanford; Nico Collins, WR, Michigan
Round 4 (No. 116) — Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State
Is this too early for a running back? I’m convinced that the Giants are going to add to the Saquon Barkley-Devontae Booker running back stable in some fashion. Will they wait until this summer or fall to pluck a veteran free agent (like Devonta Freeman)? Will they use a Day 3 draft pick?
In all honesty, when I run some “for fun” mocks during the week and go all the way through the sixth round (where the Giants have two picks) I usually look for a value back in that sixth round.
I took Sermon here to a) open a discussion about the player, and b) open a discussion over whether or not this is too early to add a back.
So, let’s hear it.