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2024 Draft watch: College players (and games) to watch for the Giants in week 11

Who should you be watching for the Giants in today’s games?

Penn State v Maryland Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Good morning New York Giants fans!

Happy Saturday and welcome to Week 11 of the 2023 college football season.

Okay, look. I get it if people are less excited than usual to talk about college football. Even in a year that quickly went off the rails, it is very suddenly and surprisingly Draft Season for the Giants. While every season is draft season for some of us, the majority of NFL fans seldom want to think about the draft while regular season games are being played.

But with the Giants carrying a 2-7 record and forced to rely on their third-string quarterback, the playoffs are all but mathematically out of reach.

As things stand now, the Giants will have four picks in the first three rounds, and three of those picks (their natural first, second, and third-round picks) will likely be quite high in the draft order. In fact, the Giants could be in a dead heat with the Arizona Cardinals and Chicago Bears for the first pick in the draft.

We’re treated to one of the biggest games of the year in the noon slot, and it will have several players in whom the Giants could be interested. So let’s get to it.

Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OT, Penn State

(10) Penn State vs. (3) Michigan (Fox - noon)

Olu Fashanu is right there in the conversation to be the first offensive tackle off the board in April. The 6-foot-6, 320-pound young man (he won’t turn 21 until Dec. 9) is one of the best pass protectors in the country and has only given up up 15 hurries and one hit (no sacks) since becoming Penn State’s left tackle in 2021. He has obvious strength to create movement in the run game or anchor against power, as well as the movement skills to match up with edge rushers.

Fashanu will almost certainly be a top 10 pick — and likely a top 5 pick — in April’s draft, and has been a fairly popular pick for the Giants in early mock drafts.

J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

(10) Penn State vs. (3) Michigan (Fox - noon)

I could probably do a whole post on just this game. Both of these teams are fairly well stacked with NFL talent, and this is really one of those games where our best bet is to watch, enjoy the game in the moment, and take note of who jumps off the tape.

Giants’ GM Joe Schoen previously scouted Michigan in-person (against Indiana), and with the Giants’ current quarterback situation, it makes sense to shine a light on Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy.

McCarthy is a lean quarterback at 6-foot-3, 202, but his slim frame packs quick-twitch athleticism and a potent arm. He’s gotten better every year as Michigan’s starter and is currently completing 75.7 percent of his passes for 10.4 yards per attempt, an average depth of target of 10.6 yards, a 5.3 percent sack rate, and has 18 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions.

Xavier Legette, WR, South Carolina

South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt (SEC Network - noon)

The Giants have made a concerted effort to build a (much) more explosive offense after living in a shell in 2022. It obviously hasn’t worked out on a consistent basis, but we’ve seen glimpses of what could be. Explosive plays fueled their miraculous second half comeback against the Arizona Cardinals. Later in the year they averaged 15.5 yards per completion against the Washington Commanders, a mark we haven’t seen since Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. were at the height of their powers in 2015.

South Carolina’s Xavier Legette doesn’t have the hype that Marvin Harrison Jr, Malik Nabers, Rome Odunze, or Keon Coleman have generated, but he’s riding the wave of a breakout season to a potential first-round selection.

Legette is the kind of height/weight/speed freak that gets fans hyped and scouts drooling over the course of the draft process. His recruiting profiles listed him at (roughly) 6-foot, 200 pounds, but he’s matured into a massive 6-foot-3, 230-pound receiver over his time at South Carolina. Legette isn’t just big, he’s one of the fastest players in college football and recorded a top speed of 22.3 mph earlier this year. For reference, Tyreek Hill has the NFL’s top speed for a ball carrier (so far) at 22.01 mph.

Legette has struggled with drops in the past, but only has one so far this year while emerging as one of the nation’s best deep threats. He also obviously has ability after the catch and flashes the ability to be a great blocker on the perimeter as well.

An 11-personnel package of Xavier Legette, Jalin Hyatt, and Wan’Dale Robinson could certainly be intriguing in 2024.

Jonah Elliss, edge, Utah

(5) Washington vs. (18) Utah (Fox - 3:30 p.m.)

This is going to be another game with NFL talent almost anywhere you look. Joe Schoen was on hand when the Washington Huskies defeated USC a week ago, so he already got a good look at Washington’s talent.

This is a fantastic opportunity to get a look at Utah EDGE Jonah Elliss. Elliss comes from a football family — his father spent 10 years in the NFL, his older brother Kaden plays for the New Orleans Saints, and both of his younger brothers (Christian and Noah) are on Idaho’s defense. Jonah Elliss has rocketed from obscurity to one of the top pass rushers in the country this year and has racked up an impressive 12.0 sacks and 16.0 tackles for a loss in 9 games. He’s undersized for a classic defensive end or outside linebacker at 6-foot-2, 242 pounds, but he plays with fantastic quickness, frenetic energy, and a great motor. He also uses his hands well to keep himself clean and has a devastating spin move. Elliss is a converted linebacker, giving him the versatility to play off the ball, which could appeal to Wink Martindale.

The Giants obviously hope that Azeez Ojulari is able to get (and stay) healthy, but you can never have enough pass rushers.

Javon Bullard, S, Georgia

(2) Georgia vs. (9) Ole Miss (ESPN, 7 p.m.)

There is so much NFL talent in this game it’s legitimately hard to spotlight one player. But given the uncertainty given Xavier McKinney’s future, I decided to focus on Georgia safety Javon Bullard.

Bullard has some red flags with which teams will have to contend. He was arrested for DUI in September last year, and is also undersized at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds. However, he’s also an athletic, fluid, instinctive, and versatile defender.

Oh, and competitive. This Bulldog definitely has “That Dog” in him.

Bullard was named the Defensive MVP in Georgia’s College Football Championship win over TCU and wears a bunch of hats in Kirby Smart’s sophisticated defense. Bullard does everything from playing the deep free safety, to covering the slot, to playing as a STAR safety/linebacker hybrid. He might not play much linebacker at the NFL level, but his versatility, instincts, athleticism, and physicality should make him a valuable defender at the NFL level. And given how frequently Wink Martindale rotates coverages, Bullard could certainly appeal.