The fruits of the Giants’ 4-13 record are the fifth, seventh, 36th, 67th, and 81st picks in the upcoming draft. There is going to be plenty of time to analyze and over-analyze the Giants’ options at the top of the draft. We’ll have months to dissect the various ways in which the draft could shake out and argue over who the Giants could (or should) take.
For now, I thought I’d offer a pair of mock drafts as a palate cleanser after a putrid end to a rough season, and as an appetizer for the all you can eat buffet of draft content on the horizon.
These are both three-round mock drafts, one from The Draft Network using their Predictive Board, and one from the Pro Football Network featuring trades. I’m not comparing these two mocks since they’re operating on different engines and only one allowed trades. Just exploring the myriad options open to whoever is calling the shots for the Giants this offseason.
Mock Draft 1 - The Draft Network
This is one of those drafts where I’m happy, thrilled, with all of my picks, but the board didn’t cooperate with the strategy I had going in.
I feel I got very solid value with all of my picks, and each one addresses a significant need on the Giants’ roster.
Ikem Ekwonu will likely step right in and bookend Andrew Thomas, giving the Giants a pair of big, athletic, and powerful offensive tackles going forward. They still have to figure out the offensive interior, and I can’t say I’m thrilled about having players like Billy Price, Ben Bredeson, Matt Skura, Shane Lemieux, and Nick Gates competing to fill out 60 percent of my offensive line.
(Note: Evan Neal went off the board to the Panthers at No. 6 overall)
I briefly thought about George Karlaftis at seventh overall, but while I like him as a player, I’m not sure he’s a fit with how the Giants’ defense is trending. Instead I opted for David Ojabo, who is a long, fluid, and ridiculously athletic EDGE defender. Folks at Michigan are saying that Aidan Hutchinson should putt on a “Watt” like show at the Combine, and Ojabo is probably more athletic than Hutchinson. I’ve said before that the Giants need an “Alpha” pass rusher to fully set off their defense, and Ojabo’s skill set suggests that he has that upside. Adding him to Ojulari and Roche (and potentially Elerson Smith and Carter Coughlin) could give the Giants the kind of ability to send waves of pass rushers after quarterbacks that they haven’t had since 2011 or so.
Moving to the second round, I just couldn’t pass up Ahmad Gardner. The Giants are well-stocked at cornerback, but like pass rushers, you can never have enough talented cornerbacks. Gardner is long, athletic, and intensely competitive with a great feel for coverage. “Sauce”, as he’s known, is getting buzz as a first round prospect who could even go in the top half of the first round. He can step right in across from James Bradberry, moving Adoree Jackson to the slot and arguably give the Giants the best secondary in the NFL.
The Giants need to find themselves a dependable pass catcher. Fans want to load up on the offensive line and there’s a sense that receiving weapons are luxuries reserved for teams that are “one piece away”. However, having receivers who can’t create separation, run decent routes, or otherwise force the QB to hold onto the ball just puts that much more pressure on the offensive line.
I’ve gotten to see Likely in person, and he was impressive. He’s a “hybrid” tight end with good athleticism, a big catch radius, reliable hands. And not only does he play toughness in traffic, but he can be an explosive playmaker down the field. Assuming he’s used correctly, Likely could grow into a Darren Waller type weapon for the offense.
Finally, I finished the third round by adding Alabama linebacker Henry To’oTo’o (pronounced TOE-oh TOE-oh). To’oTo’o is a smart, competitive, well-rounded linebacker who will never have to come off the field and can be the Giants’ MIKE linebacker of the future. He became the leader of the Alabama defense almost immediately upon transferring from Tennessee and his partner Christian Harris split defensive play-calling duties for Alabama, which speaks volumes about both players.
To’oTo’o isn’t quite as athletic as Harris is, but he’s further along in his development and a better run defender.
Mock Draft 2 - Pro Football Network
I wanted a simulation with trades as well, so I moseyed on over to the Pro Football Network’s mock draft simulator. That simulator brings you proposed trades before every pick, allowing you to accept or reject them.
- No. 5 overall to Cleveland Browns for Nos. 13 and 44, as well as Cleveland’s 2023 second- and fourth-round picks.
- Nos. 36 and 109 to the Atlanta Falcons for Nos. 43 and 63.
I like this draft much better than my first mock, mostly because I was able to fill a number of holes in one fell swoop. It’s hardly realistic, but more fun and illustrates some of the Giants’ options for filling holes with talented players outside of the top 10.
I’ve been saying for a while that if Kyle Hamilton is available, I just can’t pass on him. The Giants need to add talented players, and Hamilton’s unique skill set and athletic traits allow him to replace both Logan Ryan and Jabrill Peppers while massively expanding how the Giants can attack offenses. Likewise, adding Christian Harris to the defense gives them the kind of speed at the second and third levels the Giants haven’t had since... Ever. Harris can also be developed as a successor to Blake Martinez.
Jahan Dotson is a great, smart, route runner with good ball skills, sticky hands, and the athleticism to create after the catch. Dotson has a diverse athletic background, playing football, basketball, and running track in high school, all of which shows up on his tape. The Giants need a receiver they can count on, and Dotson can line up in all three WR positions.
Enagbare is my attempt to continue to add to the Giants’ pass rush. He has the size to play on the defensive line, as well as the athleticism to rush off the edge — and even drop into space (he’s reportedly worked with South Carolina’s DB’s coach to improve his coverage). Considering the caliber of defensive players that periodically come out of South Carolina, his is a name to watch.
Now, on to the offensive line.
This is what I hoped to accomplish in my first draft, with one major disappointment. I was targeting Minnesota RT Daniel Faalele from the second round on — he was listed at 85th overall on the PFN board — but he was drafted by the Houston Texans with the 80th pick.
Tyler Linderbaum one of my primary targets for the Giants. With a background as a wrestler and 1-gap defensive tackle, Linderbaum has explosive athleticism, has great balance, and knows how to use leverage to his advantage. I’m not really concerned about his weight at 290 pounds, both because he is strong as hell and can already anchor against bull rushes, and because he can carry another 10 pounds without issue. He’s smart, already technically sound, and will only get better as he receives development as a center. Linderbaum reminds me of Maurkice Pouncey, and I think he has perennial All-Pro potential.
Zion Johnson is one of my favorite players that I’ve scouted so far. He’s a good-sized guard with great athleticism, sound technique, and a definite mean streak. Johnson is athletic enough that he played left tackle for BC, but he’s definitely a “plus” guard at the NFL level. He’s one of those guys who can do anything asked of him (zone blocking, man-gap, pulling, screen blocking, you name it) does his job, every time, and does it well.
Raimann’s name is flying a bit below the radar right now, but I think we’re going to hear more about him as the draft process unfolds. He’s relatively new to football, having been born and raised in Austria. He came to Central Michigan as a 6-foot-7, 230 pound tight end and worked into a 305-pound offensive tackle who can still move like a tight end. He’s very light on his feet, has good flexibility in his hips and knees, and is a natural mover. He also has solid play strength and flashes a decent technical foundation, though he’s obviously a bit raw and inconsistent. There’s a lot to like there, and he should be competing for a starting job right away.