Thanks to their 9-7-1 record and advancement to the Divisional Round, the Giants hold the 26th overall pick in the upcoming draft — though the Dolphins forfeiting the 21st overall pick gives the Giants the 25th overall pick.
Since the Giants’ season is over and most of the draft order is set, it’s time for a quick mock draft. As usual, I used the ProFootballNetwork mock draft simulator, and I decided to reject all trades.
Going into the mock I identified wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback, interior offensive line, and edge defender as positions of need for the Giants. I went in with the intention of upgrading — or at least addressing — as many of them as possible. As it worked out, I was unable to address the interior offensive line and cornerback positions in a three-round mock draft. The Giants have a number of options for guard and center, and might be okay there in 2023, though cornerback remains a concern.
Here’s what I was able to do:
Round 1 (25th overall) - B.J. Ojulari (EDGE, LSU)
Options: B.J. Ojulari (EDGE, LSU), Michael Mayer (TE, Notre Dame), O’Cyrus Torrence (G, Florida)
We aren’t used to not having a top prospect available at a position of need for the Giants. And in this case, I very much wanted to use the first round to add a potential “blue chip” receiver to set the rest of the offense off. That player wasn’t there when the 25th pick rolled around, so I decided to hold off on getting a WR in the hopes that I could pull a “Steelers” and get better value at the bottom of the second round.
I believe edge is something of a low-key need for the Giants. I am very high on Kayvon Thibodeaux and optimistic for his development in 2023. He has already become a reliable run defender with the ability to produce big plays in high-leverage situations. He and Azeez Ojulari were unblockable at times this year, but Ojulari’s health remains a question. While the concerns regarding his knee coming out of Georgia didn’t limit him in 2021, I have to wonder if they’re related to his injury-riddled 2022 season.
B.J. Ojulari, Azeez’s younger brother, has a similar physical and athletic profile to his brother, and we saw last year that Joe Schoen has no problems doubling down on a useful skill set. The younger Ojulari is a very good pass rusher in his own right and has the athleticism and technique to contribute immediately. The Giants know the importance of being able to send waves of athletic rushers after quarterbacks, and the athletic premium means you need to draft them early.
Round 2 (57th overall) - Cedric Tillman (WR, Tennessee)
Options: Cedric Tillman (WR, Tennessee), Tyrique Stevenson (CB, Miami), Dalton Kincaid (TE, Utah)
Sitting here on the first day of the Giants’ offseason, I have no clue how Joe Schoen, Brandon Brown, and Brian Daboll will address the Giants’ need for a true “number one” wide receiver. I only know that they need to do so. The Giants have plenty of cap space after lean years in 2021 and 2022, and they could pursue a player like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Jakobi Meyers, or Allan Lazard.
I was legitimately torn between my three options here, and I think I could have justified going in each direction, depending on how free agency works out. In particular, I was very tempted to go with Stevenson due to the importance of corners in Wink Martindale’s scheme and how many injuries Adoree’ Jackson has suffered throughout his career.
But I had to go with Tillman here. I do still like the Giants’ receiving depth with Wan’Dale Robinson, Isaiah Hodgins, Darius Slayton, and Richie James. They would make a solid 2-5 or 3-6 on the depth chart. But that said, the Giants need to get a No. 1 WR, and Tillman has the potential to be that.
He has good size for the position, uncommon athleticism, reliable hands, and strong ball skills. He would likely be rated higher on PFN’s big board if his 2022 season hadn’t been limited by an ankle injury.
I gambled in the first round that there would be solid value in the second round, and I think Tillman provides that here.
Round 3 - (89th overall) Dalton Kincaid (TE, Utah), (100th overall) SirVocea Dennis (LB, Pitt)
Options: Dalton Kincaid (TE, Utah), Alex Forsyth (OC, Oregon), SirVocea Dennis (LB, Pitt)
There wasn’t much of a question where I’d go with the 89th overall pick when I saw that Dalton Kincaid was still around. Despite being listed as a “tight end”, Kincaid is really more of an industrial-sized wide receiver. He has solid size at 6-foot-4, 240 pounds and is a fluid and explosive athlete for his size. He lacks blocking upside right now, but he was an absolutely prolific receiver for the Utes. He finished his senior season with 70 catches for 890 yards and 8 touchdowns, leading all three categories by a significant margin.
Daniel Bellinger has emerged as a good 11-personnel tight end, but we also saw how the Giants used Lawrence Cager in 12 (or 13) personnel packages, and Kincaid would make those that much more dangerous.
And at 100th overall I finally get the Giants a (potential) three-down linebacker. SirVocea Dennis is an experienced, smart, athletic, and instinctive off-ball linebacker who is a leader on that Pittsburgh defense. He might have to switch to WILL or WILB at the NFL level, but his football IQ, instincts, range, athleticism, and versatility will be a welcome addition to the Giants’ defense.
He struggles a bit to stack and shed offensive linemen, but he has plenty of juice to beat them to landmarks or run down ball carriers from behind — or put the quarterback on the ground as a blitzer.