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2023 NFL Mock Draft: Dane Brugler gets Giants a No. 1 wide receiver

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Vrbo Fiesta Bowl - Michigan v TCU
Quentin Johnston
Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

It is that time of year when we will occasionally highlight mock drafts from some of the premier NFL Draft analysts in the business. Dane Brugler of The Athletic is one of those, and Brugler came out this week his second mock draft of the process. Let’s se who Brugler picked for the New York Giants in this two-round exercise.

Round 1 (No. 25) — Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

Brugler writes:

The Giants have gotten better-than-expected play from wide receivers like Isaiah Hodgins this season, but the position remains an area of need. Quentin Johnston is an intriguing evaluation because he has outstanding physical traits, like size (6-4, 215), speed (4.4 40-yard dash) and springs in his legs. He also tracks the ball naturally, although he will have focus drops and his route running is a work in progress. Johnston has the talent to warrant top-20 consideration, but he isn’t a lock to go that high.

Valentine’s View

If Johnston falls this far in the draft this pick is pretty much a no-brainer. In the mocks I have run using a variety of simulators, Johnston is never around this late.

The Giants absolutely still need a true No. 1 wide receiver. Having that would make Isaiah Hodgins, Wan’Dale Robinson and anyone else in the 2023 receiving corps that much better. I have some concerns about Johnston getting off the line of scrimmage vs. press coverage, but haven’t done a full study. So, those concerns might not be valid.

Here is part of a recent scouting report from Pro Football Focus:

Quentin Johnston is one of the freakiest college athletes at wide receiver in recent memory. There’s not much he can’t do on the football field. He’s a true No. 1 option who can successfully run any route in the book. He also breaks tackles like it’s nobody’s business. If you get the ball in Johnston’s hands, look out because he’s an absolute menace in the open field.

Standing at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Johnston has the perfect build for an NFL receiver. He will probably get even better at the next level, as his college usage was not quite what it should be for college ... There’s no doubt Johnston’s game will translate well to the NFL.

Round 2 (No. 57) — Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa

Brugler does not offer an explanation for this pick. Considering the constant searching the Giants have done for inside linebackers this season, though, I certainly understand making this pick.

The NFL Mock Draft Database currently has Campbell as the No. 62 overall prospect, so this would be right in range at this time.

As much as the Giants need long-term answer at inside linebacker rather than Band-Aids, I am a proponent of using a high draft pick like this only if that player is believed to have three-down ability. I haven’t studied the 6-foot-5, 246-pound Campbell, so I can’t offer a judgment.

Here is what Draft Network said:

In a world where linebackers are getting smaller, Jack Campbell has a throwback frame that was engineered for serving as a downhill second-level defender in the NFL. I like how he leverages gaps and fits the run. Campbell is sufficient with shallow zone coverage drops and buzzing down in the flats—he holds his own as a hook/curl/flats defender in coverage. He has experience in all phases of special teams. Campbell is a mostly secure tackler with good hitting power.

This Bleacher Report prospect profile makes me wonder if Campbell is what the Giants are looking for:

The combine will be key for Jack Campbell, as questions remain about his athleticism when it comes to his transition to the NFL. He was athletic enough to be the most decorated linebacker in college football this season, but his change of direction and hip fluidity are questionable for a modern-day NFL linebacker.

With that being said, Campbell isn’t devoid of traits that will translate to the NFL. He has impressive speed when coming downhill, which helps him plug gaps against the run and close on pass-catchers in zone coverage. He’s also arguably the best linebacker at stack-and-shedding in this draft class, and he has good instincts in zone coverage.

Schematically, the Hawkeye would be best as a middle linebacker in a system that uses a lot of one-high looks and Cover 3. That would give him some help over the top and keep him from having to carry wide receivers in Tampa 2, while still taking advantage of his ability to tighten throwing windows as an underneath defender in zone coverage.

Campbell is not a one-size-fits-all type of player. He could slide in the draft if teams are looking for a linebacker with more man-coverage skills. However, he could be a great Day 2 pick for a team seeking an impact run defender on the second level of its defense.