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Giants mock draft: Chris gives Giants Ikem Ekwonu, Sauce Gardner in the top 10

One last mock draft before free agency shakes things up again

Syndication: The Enquirer Sam Greene/The Enquirer via Imagn Content Services, LLC

We’re in the eye of the offseason storm right now, the relative lull between the NFL Scouting Combine and the flurry surrounding the opening of free agency.

We know the New York Giants are going to get very busy soon, but right now things seem eerily calm around Giants land. So I wanted to take this opportunity to release what will be my last mock draft for a while. As usual, I used The Draft Network’s mock draft machine and did a 3-round mock. I like their predictive board, and not having the option to trade makes things a bit simpler.

We’ve seen a few high profile mocks come out in recent days, and Giants’ fans haven’t exactly approved of them.

I have a feeling this one will get a bit more positive of a response than Todd McShay’s picks.

The mock

Raptor’s Thoughts

Before I get into explaining the rationale behind my picks, I wanted to share the top 10 for this draft, so everyone has the same context I did.

I should note that this is actually the second iteration of this mock draft. I had one all set and then the Denver Broncos traded the No. 9 overall pick (among many others) to the Seattle Seahawks for Russell Wilson. So, back to the drawing board I went.

As it so happens, this mock actually turned out almost identically to my pre-trade version. The big difference is that I landed Ikem Ekwonu at fifth overall and Ahmad Gardner at seventh. Ekwonu was off the board in the top four picks in the first version, so I went with Gardner and Trevor Penning.

The difference in the draft is likely the machine taking the Jacksonville Jaguars placing the Franchise Tag of Cam Robinson into account.

I feel like those two picks — Ekwonu and Gardner — are pretty self-explanatory. Honestly, I still don’t expect Ekwonu to be there at No. 5 overall on draft night. I don’t think the tag on Robinson should make much difference — the Jags still need a right tackle, Robinson has been inconsistent for them, and they’re only committed to him for one year.

But whether it’s Ekwonu or Penning, the Giants need to add offensive linemen, and at the top of the draft, that usually means a tackle. This is a remarkably deep draft and I think the team could get away with not picking a tackle in the Top 10. The drop-off to the top of the second round isn’t nearly as great as it has been in previous years. However, the top tackle in the draft was available, so I couldn’t not take him.

(At least this time. It might be a fun exercise to try it another time.)

Gardner is basically what we would get if Wink Martindale ordered a cornerback out of a catalogue. He’s long, athletic, long, fluid, plays with complete confidence, and already has experience as a press-man corner. Even if the Giants keep James Bradberry, drafting Gardner would let them move Adoree Jackson into the slot, giving them a very formidable nickel package.

Okay, on to Day 2.

These three picks, and really all five picks from my original mock, really illustrate how much talent is coming from outside of the Power 5 football factories. I received more than a few complaints early in the draft process over how many prospect profiles I was releasing that were on players that readers hadn’t heard of. But there are a TON of really talented players coming out of small schools this year and this really could be “The FCS” draft.

I’ll start with Christian Watson out of North Dakota State. Watson is still a bit raw as a receiver, but he is already able to do so much with the tools he’s harnessed. He can stretch the field, make difficult catches in the underneath area, and carry the ball on sweeps or screens. He looks like a “normal” big receiver at 6-foot-4, 208 pounds, but not only does he have a nearly-perfect Relative Athletic Score of 9.98, his body control on tape is just absurd. He is able to manipulate his frame and create separation with his routes in ways that big receivers normally just can’t. Watson has the ability to be dangerous right now, but if he really becomes a technician at the wide receiver position, he’s going to be a nightmare to cover.

Dylan Parham takes care of the center position at the top of the third round. The Giants still need to figure out the guard spots, but that’s less pressing. Guards are more heavily influenced by tackles and centers than tackles and centers are influenced by guard play, so I prioritized the more premium positions. Parham is an excellent athlete for an interior lineman (he was a linebacker and tight end in college, and lettered in basketball and track as well), which should allow him to slide inside to center without much issue. There will, of course, be a learning curve, but that’s what coaches are for.

Troy Andersen is one of the big sleepers in this draft. His athleticism leapt off the field in his tape, and it was confirmed at the Combine. But his versatility and football IQ were readily apparent as well. Andersen was an All-American quarterback before he was an All-American linebacker for Montana State, and it really shows up in his game. Not only is he rangy, but he is smart and disciplined. He might not be truly instinctive yet, but he also rarely falls for misdirection or eye candy. Andersen would give Martindale a super-athletic and rangy off-ball linebacker to patrol the middle of the field, and he has evident upside as a blitzer as well.

When your closest comparison is Luke Kuechly, people should probably be paying attention.

So, did I beat Todd McShay?