The final game of the 2021 season has been played, and with the end of Super Bowl 57, the off season has started for all 32 teams.
We also now know the final (for now) draft order for the 2022 NFL Draft, making this a good opportunity for a mock draft before the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine shakes up draft boards.
We also have a clearer picture of the New York Giants team needs with the coaching staff coming into focus. Likewise, General Manager Joe Schoen has talked a bit about his draft philosophy, including willingness to move around the draft board to maximize the value of his picks.
Because of that, I decided to use the Pro Football Network’s mock draft simulator this time around. PFN’s simulator has teams approach you with proposed trades before every pick, and I thought that would be a nice change of pace from my previous mocks using The Draft Network’s simulator.
No. 5 overall - Kyle Hamilton (S, Notre Dame)
Dear Wink Martindale, welcome to New York. Please enjoy this unicorn of a safety to go with your new accommodations.
Safeties aren’t usually picked this high, but as we’ve been saying pretty much since October, Kyle Hamilton is just built different. Not only does he have near-linebacker size, he has the skill set to be a true free safety in the NFL. He has the speed and range to be a true center fielder in a Cover 1 shell, the coverage ability to be a menace in throwing lanes, and is still a fantastic run defender. Pairing Hamilton with Xavier McKinney would give Martindale two safeties to freely rotate on the back end with mind-boggling possibilities.
Nick Falato has a great, and detailed, breakdown of how Martindale uses moveable pieces to create confusion and chaos. Giving him Hamilton would be like giving him a cheat code.
No. 7 overall - TRADE!
As I mentioned above, I wanted to include at least one trade in this mock draft. Joe Schoen mentioned wanting multiple bites of the apple. And given the Giants’ salary cap constraints, adding as many cost controlled rookies as possible is probably the fastest way to build this team.
The Arizona Cardinals came knocking with this trade offer, so I decided to take it.
Adding another second- and third-round pick is a great return on investment for me, and getting a future second is a great cherry on the top.
23rd overall - Trevor Penning (OT, Northern Iowa)
I started getting excited when Ikem Ekwonu fell into the 20s, but the Raiders nabbed him at 22nd overall. So, I selected Penning out of Northern Iowa. Penning’s balance concerns me on tape, but I think it’s correctable if he becomes just a bit more judicious in trying to steal his opponent’s souls. Penning is one of the meanest, nastiest, blockers you’re going to find, and that can get him into trouble when he compromises his fundamentals to get after defenders. When he plays more under control, he is smooth, fluid, athletic, and powerful. Penning has a prototypical frame and all the traits necessary to be a good starting tackle for a long time. Adding to his value, he played right tackle for Northern Iowa and should be able to slot right in across from Andrew Thomas.
No. 36 overall - Zion Johnson (G/C, Boston College)
I was surprised to see Johnson playing center at the Senior Bowl, and even more surprised to see how well he handled himself. I love Johnson as a guard and believe he is a plug-and-play starter in any scheme. The fact that he can effectively play center gives him the ability to compete at the position in camp for the Giants. And even if he isn’t their best option at center, he is certainly their best option at one of the guard positions.
No. 55 overall - via trade - Kingsley Enagbare (EDGE, South Carolina)
This draft is a deep and talented one, but there’s definitely more of both on the defensive side of the ball, so that’s where the board dictated I go with this pick.
Enagbare is another player who impressed at the Senior Bowl, and another versatile piece for the defense. He is long and athletic with the ability to bend the edge, both of which the Giants need. He also has the ability to play from a variety of alignments, from 3-technique to outside linebacker. I was particularly impressed by Enagbare’s play strength and ability to set the edge in Senior Bowl practices. The Giants need help in run defense on the edge, and Enagbare’s versatility could play well in Martindale’s schemes.
No. 67 overall - Kyler Gordon (CB, Washington)
Another piece for Martindale’s defensive re-tooling. As I said above, the strength of this draft is on the defensive side of the ball, and the secondary is particularly deep.
The Giants will have to clear roughly $35 million in salary cap space just to be able to sign their draft class and get under the salary cap, and it will be tough (if not impossible) to do so and keep James Bradberry. That puts cornerback squarely in play early in the draft, and the Giants will be looking for players it the traits to be press-man corners. Gordon reportedly has a short-shuttle of 3.87 seconds and a vertical leap of 42 1⁄2 inches at 6-foot, 200 pounds, which landed him on Bruce Feldman’s “Freaks List”. On the field, he has the versatility to play man and zone, as well as both the outside and slot corner positions. Gordon’s is probably a name to watch around the Combine.
No. 85 overall - Brandon Smith (LB, Penn State)
Smith has so many traits to love at the linebacker position. He has the size, great range, and easy athleticism to make plays in space. He’s got a quick trigger playing downhill and has the ability to do just about anything a defensive coordinator asks.
That said, Smith’s available this late in the third round because he doesn’t really have a handle on everything yet. Right now, Smith needs some work honing his craft and to get better on the mental side of things. He has the potential to be a three-down starting linebacker from the MIKE or WILL positions, but right now he’s probably more of nickel WILL.
No. 87 overall - via trade - John Metchie III (WR, Alabama)
This one is a bit of a lottery ticket, but the rewards could be excellent. If Metchie hadn’t had a late-season ACL injury, he’d probably be off the board early in the first round. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen anyway in April.
Metchie is an explosive playmaker and already a great route runner. He has good size at 6-foot, 195 pounds (listed), and is a threat at all three levels of the field. The Giants need pieces all across their offense, and Metchie has the potential to be a true Number One receiver (assuming he recovers well from his injury).
This pick also has additional potential upside if the Giants need to draft a quarterback in 2023. Alabama’s Bryce Young is (currently) my top target, and having a player in place with whom he’s already familiar and shares a rapport would help shorten his learning curve.