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25 draft questions with the draft 25 days away

A few things to ponder as we get closer to the draft

We are now 25 days away from the 2022 NFL Draft. With that in mind, here are 25 NFL Draft questions regarding both the New York Giants and the draft as a whole.

1 — 7 for 7?

GM Joe Schoen has said he wants to clearly identify seven players he would be happy taking in the top seven of the draft, where the Giants have two picks. Who should those seven be?

Four — offensive tackles Evan Neal and Ikem Ekwonu, cornerback Sauce Gardner and edge defender Aidan Hutchinson — are easy. After that, not so much.

Should offensive tackle Charles Cross be part of the top seven? How do the Giants rank edge defenders Travon Walker, Kayvon Thibodeaux and Jermaine Johnson, and should any or all be on their top seven board? Could a wide receiver like Garrett Wilson or Drake London sneak in there? What about the big man, Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis? Derek Stingley Jr.? A linebacker like Nakobe Dean or Devin Lloyd?

We will never know exactly what Schoen’s list looks like, but it is fun to speculate.

2 — Will the Giants trade one of their two top-10 picks?

Schoen has said he wants more at-bats in the draft, a clear sign that he understands the overall weakness of the roster. If he can hit two home runs in the top seven, with say Ikem Ekwonu and Sauce Gardner, that’s outstanding. I would still say chances are better than 50-50 that Schoen moves down with one of those picks to acquire more assets, especially if someone is willing to pony up a 2023 first-round pick.

3 — When will James Bradberry get traded?

I’m not even couching this as ‘will Bradberry get traded?’ The Giants, with the worst salary cap situation in the league, have no real choice but to move on from the veteran cornerback and take the $10.1 million in pre-June 1 cap savings. The only question is when will it happen. Before the draft? During the draft? After the draft?

4 — Will the Giants land Evan Neal or Ikem Ekwonu?

More and more, it seems like at least one of those players should be available at No. 5. I think I would take Neal first — he seems like the safer, plug and play, option because he has right side experience. Ekwonu is the bigger swing, but I wouldn’t complain about landing either player.

5 — Would GM Joe Schoen take OT Charles Cross in the top 7?

Maybe we will find out. I know I would have no problem with it.

6 — Cornerback or edge rusher?

We have spent a lot of time debating this one. Wink Martindale has expressed how much he values cornerbacks. If the Giants have a choice between Sauce Gardner and an edge defender like Kayvon Thibodeaux my money would be on Gardner. Stunningly, though, I have been wrong before.

7 — How many offensive linemen will the Giants draft?

I highly doubt that Schoen will think he has done enough for the offensive line if he is able to land a right tackle in Round 1. The Giants have set themselves up with a group of competent short-term veteran options at center and guard. If they can supplement that with a player or two in later rounds I believe they absolutely will.

8 — Will the Giants keep Saquon Barkley or trade him?

Even though Schoen has said he is not making calls to shop Barkley, he is taking them. He still could decide that the $7.2 million in salary cap relief, avoiding potentially paying Barkley big money a year or two from now, and the added draft capital would make the move worthwhile.

9 — How many quarterbacks will be selected in the top 10?

The answer is that perhaps none should, based on talent evaluation alone. We know, though, that some will. Malik Willis of Liberty and Kenny Pickett of Pittsburgh are almost certain to go in the top 10.

Could they be joined by someone like Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati, Matt Corral of Ole Miss or Sam Howell of North Carolina? As far as the Giants are concerned, the more movement for quarterbacks the better.

10 — How high will Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton be selected?

Hamilton’s not a track star. There is a debate about the value of the safety position. Watch him play, though, and there is no doubt about the play speed, instincts and play-making impact Hamilton possesses. He could go No. 2 to the Detroit Lions. He could tumble past the Giants in Round 1. There are some who think he is the best player in the draft, and others who think he could be selected in the teens. Fascinating.

11 — Will the Giants select a quarterback on Day 2 or Day 3?

Rhett Bomar. Ryan Nassib. Davis Webb. Kyle Lauletta. The Giants have been down this road before, and gotten nothing out of their mid- to late-round quarterback fliers. That doesn’t mean it’s a terrible idea. Tom Brady is, of course, an outlier. Still, Russell Wilson (Round 3) and Dak Prescott (Round 4) have done pretty well.

Is there somebody in this draft class who could entice Schoen into taking a chance?

12 — How far will Oregon edge defender Kayvon Thibodeaux fall?

If the Giants don’t trade out of either the fifth or seventh overall pick, maybe this question should be “could Thibodeaux fall past the Giants?”

Thibodeaux believes he is the best player in the draft. A few months ago, a lot of draft analysts would have agreed. His skills haven’t changed, it is his personality, his motor, his love for the game that is on trial in the court of NFL opinion.

ESPN’s Matt Miller says he is hearing that Thibodeaux could be selected outside the top 10 and could even fall to the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 15. I did get a chance to listen to Thibodeaux at the Combine, and I get how he’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Me? I’d be fine with the Giants grabbing him in the top 10.

13 — Who will shockingly rise into the top 10?

Where there are fallers, there have to be risers. Who will they be? A third quarterback? Offensive tackle Trevor Penning? Cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.?

14 — Who will take the David Ojabo chance?

You know I’m not as worried about the long-term impact of Ojabo’s Achilles tendon tear as others, and that in the right circumstance I would have no problem with the Giants selecting him at No. 36.

I am, though, going to be surprised if he is still on the board. Just a feeling, but watch out for the Eagles with picks at 15, 16 and 19.

15 — Which tight end(s) will the Giants select?

I will be shocked if the Giants don’t take at least one in the draft. There are a dozen or so tight ends who are draftable on Day 2 or Day 3. As a Maryland grad, I would get a kick out of watching people try to learn how to spell Chigoziem Okonkwo, a late-round, development tight end prospect from Maryland.

16 — Who is my mid-round draft crush?

I am not sure I have one on the level of what Quincy Roche was for me last year. There are, though, two players I always find myself hoping will be range for me on Day 2. Those are Georgia wide receiver George Pickens and Minnesota offensive tackle Daniel Faalele. I’ll even offer a third — Memphis interior offensive lineman Dylan Parham.

The Giants need to add at wide receiver, and I would have no issue if Pickens ended up being the choice. He is a field stretcher and a guy who wins at the catch point. Every time I watch him I think he is what Kenny Golladay was supposed to be for the Giants.

Faalele? I know some are concerned by his weight, his movement, his inexperience. I see a massive player with moldable skills. He’s a devastating run blocker, and he’s so big it’s like running around the moon to get to the quarterback.

Parham could be the perfect late Day 2 or early Day 3 selection as a development center/guard. He is on the small side, and his future is probably at center — a position he is just learning. I love his athleticism and his attitude.

I loved this Parham quote from the Combine:

“I’m just gonna find a way to get on that field, it doesn’t matter what position. At the end of the day I’m gonna find some place to be, I’m gonna find that home, wherever that home is gonna be.”

17 — Is there one player I wouldn’t touch?

Yup. I’m not going anywhere near Derek Stingley Jr. I understand how good the LSU cornerback was in 2019, and what kind of player he can be if he is able to reach that level again. Thing is, he hasn’t been close to that player the past two seasons. I was also unimpressed by his Combine interview. I thought he came off as a guy who thinks a whole lot more of himself than his production on the field warrants. I think he’s a huge risk.

18 — Do you know who Skylar Thompson is?

If not, maybe you should learn. Thompson is a late-round quarterback prospect (ranked No. 229 currently on the NFL Mock Draft Database big board) and a lot of people whose opinions I trust think Thompson could way overperform that ranking in the NFL — if someone gives him a legitimate chance.

Mark Schofield couldn’t praise Thompson enough when he and I talked about him at the Combine. Schofield says teams “might really like what Thompson has to offer.”

Emory Hunt has Thompson as QB3 in his 2022 NFL Draft Guide.

Matt Waldman, curator of The Rookie Scouting Portfolio, loves Thompson. He says Thompson has “the best pocket management of this class.” He also wrote:

Skylar Thompson has the tools and craft to develop into one of the great anomalies of draft history. He’s a compelling quarterback prospect whose career doesn’t fit the rubric of traditional draft analysis.

19 — Have you been reading our prospect profiles?

If not, why not? You should be. Chris Pflum is up to more than 70 in-depth scouting reports at this point, and they are tremendously well done.

20 — How far will Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum fall?

There was a time when Linderbaum was considered a strong possibility for the Giants in the top 10. There are few, if any, voices calling for that now.

From a peak of being the seventh-ranked prospect in the NFL Mock Draft Database, Linderbaum is now No. 20. That isn’t necessarily because Linderbaum has done anything wrong. I think it’s more a recognition of both what Linderbaum is and how the NFL values, or de-values, the center position.

Linderbaum is a sub-300-pound player considered a scheme-specific (zone blocking) player who might struggle with powerful nose tackles aligned in front of him. With the right team, he can be an exceptional player. Since we don’t know what the Giants’ offensive scheme looks like it is impossible to say if the Giants are the right team.

These days, I often see Linderbaum mocked near the end of Round 1.

21 — How high will Travon Walker rise?

At the end of December, the Georgia edge defender was the No. 47 prospect on the NFL Mock Draft Database consensus big board. Now, he is No. 7. Many expect him to be selected before Thibodeaux, and there are even some who think he could go No. 1 to the Jacksonville Jaguars instead of Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson.

Walker is a classic traits projection. Playing for an incredible Georgia defense, Walker didn’t have the kind of production that would warrant such an early selection. NFL teams, though, appear ready to bet on his tools. He could make whoever drafts him look really, really good, or he could leave a team always thinking he should be more than he is.

22 — What are your favorite draft guides?

I have three that I love. ‘The Beast’ annually produced by Dane Brugler of The Athletic is always insanely well done and worth the price of a subscription all by itself. Emory Hunt’s Football Gameplan Draft Guide gives you tons of player reviews, many on small-school or under the radar guys you wouldn’t otherwise find information on. The third is the Rookie Scouting Portfolio by Matt Waldman. There is more info in there on quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends than you ever knew you needed. Or maybe could ever hope to actually absorb.

23 — How early is too early for Giants to draft a wide receiver?

There is little argument that the Giants need to add at the wide receiver position. There isn’t a single receiver on the current roster who doesn’t carry huge question marks after the 2021 season, and Darius Slayton may yet have to be moved to save salary cap space.

So, how early is too early for the Giants to draft a wide receiver?

Using a top 10 pick on a receiver feels like a luxury the Giants won’t be able to afford. In my view, unless a wide receiver is the highest-graded player by a wide margin, picking one at No. 36 still feels too rich.

For me, I would think wide receiver has to be in play beginning with the Giants’ pick at No. 67 overall in Round 3.

24 — Is Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis a top 10 pick?

The 341-pound Davis electrified the Combine with an athletic performance a person of his size should not be able to put on. He is a terrific player, but for me he still isn’t a top 10 pick. I’m still not sure he can impact the pass and, honestly, he would have to be far better than Dexter Lawrence for me to justify drafting him that highly. I’m not sure he is.

25 — How would you react if the Giants drafted a punter?

The Giants have parted ways with Riley Dixon. They have Jamie Gillan on the 90-man roster, but that doesn’t mean they are committed to him for the 2022 season. Three punters — Jake Camarda of Georgia, Jordan Stout of Penn State, Matt Araiza of San Diego State — have draftable grades.

Would you be OK with the Giants using a fifth- or sixth-round pick on a punter?