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Daniel Jeremiah final mock draft: Evan Neal, Garrett Wilson to the Giants

A wide receiver in the top 10?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 31 CFP Semifinal - Goodyear Cotton Bowl - Cincinnati v Alabama Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Merry Draftmas, New York Giants fans!

The 2022 NFL Draft is mere hours away now, and by 11:30 p.m. (or so) we’ll know who the newest Giants will be. But for now, there’s still a bit of time to kill and that means there’s one last chance for everyone to put out their final mock draft.

The NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah released his Mock Draft 4.0 Wednesday night, and he makes one selection that’s sure to trigger Giants’ fans.

5 - Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

The Giants could go with Kayvon Thibodeaux here, but pairing Neal with Andrew Thomas gives them a solid, young tackle duo to better protect Daniel Jones.

7 - Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

The Giants’ WR corps is very average. Wilson reminds me a lot of Stefon Diggs, a player general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll worked with in Buffalo.

Top 10

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
  2. Detroit Lions - Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
  3. Houston Texans - Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
  4. New York Jets - Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
  5. New York Giants - Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
  6. Carolina Panthers - Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
  7. New York Giants - Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
  8. Atlanta Falcons - Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
  9. New York Jets (projected trade with Seattle) - Drake London, WR, USC
  10. Seattle Seahawks (projected trade with the Jets) - Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

Raptor’s thoughts

I can’t quibble with the selection of Neal, and in fact love it. He tops my list of offensive linemen and it isn’t really close.

Neal is a fantastic athlete who carries his size extremely well. He has quick, fluid feet, is a natural knee bender, and has the ability to change direction or recover quickly if initially beaten. Neal comes into the NFL with good technique and experience in a modern “Pro Style” offense. He’s a patient, calm pass protector who can counter speed or power equally well, and is a powerful, scheme-diverse run blocker.

Neal will be able to start immediately at right tackle, but also has the ability to play multiple positions on the offensive line in case the order needs to be reshuffled due to injury.

Now on to the pick that is sure to be controversial: Garrett Wilson [Prospect Profile]

Jeremiah has the Giants kicking off a run on wide receivers that sees 4 selected over the next five picks (the Washington Commanders select Chris Olave at 11th overall). Personally, I think there is an argument for the Giants selecting a receiver at the top of the draft. While Receiver is considered a “luxury” by traditionalist fans, they have quickly become a premium, cornerstone position in the NFL.

Having good wide receivers one of the most common keys to having an elite offense in the modern NFL, just ask the Cincinnati Bengals. Almost exactly a year ago, it was widely assumed that the Bengals absolutely had to draft Oregon OT Penei Sewell. It was argued, at the time, that drafting Ja’Marr Chase was executive malpractice and Joe Burrow would spend too much time on the ground to throw the ball to Chase.

It was even meme’d

As it turned out, Chase quickly became one of the best receivers in the NFL and the Bengals went to the Super Bowl, while the Detroit Lions (who drafted Sewell) are drafting second overall.

Giants fans experienced this themselves in 2011 when the trio of Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Mario Manningham allowed Eli Manning to exploit defensive weaknesses en route to a history number of come-back wins. Likewise, Odell Beckham Jr.’s play in 2016 gave the Giants just enough of an offensive spark to win 11 games and get into the play-offs.

There’s also the fact that top receivers are getting incredibly expensive and the potential for getting similar production on a rookie contract is just smart roster construction.

But what about Wilson in particular?

Personally, I like Chris Olave [Prospect Profile] over Wilson. Olave is a similar athlete to Wilson but is a smoother, more efficient receiver with another season’s worth experience. The two are very similar in almost every area of the game, and differentiating between the two is splitting hairs. That said, Wilson’s habit of jumping to make even routine catches stands out to me and I wonder if that couldn’t create opportunities for NFL cornerbacks.

I do believe that Alabama’s Jameson Williams [Prospect Profile] would be the top receiver in the draft if he were healthy. And if we view 2022 as an opportunity for the Giants to position themselves to succeed in 2023 and beyond, there might be a good argument for drafting Williams as an investment for the future.

Of course, drafting a wide receiver means not drafting a CB or EDGE. Both of those position are likely to have good players available, even with the likes of Gardner and Hutchinson off the board. The Giants need talent all over their team and could need a corner and an EDGE for their defense.

The flip side of that is that the Giant have fielded the worst offense in the NFL over the last two years, and teams need to win on offense if they want to win consistently.

Elsewhere in the NFC East

Washington Commanders
11th overall - Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Philadelphia Eagles
15th overall - Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
18th overall - Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

Dallas Cowboys
24th overall - Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State