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2024 Mock draft: Quarterback Bo Nix to the Giants at No. 5

Joe Schoen goes Duck hunting in this 7-round mock draft

Oregon v Arizona State Photo by Brandon Sloter/Image Of Sport/Getty Images

The New York Giants season will likely end with the final whistle of their Week 18 game against the Philadelphia Eagles — at least barring a fairly astonishing twist of fate.

The Giants’ 2023 season has been little more than a series of gut punches that were made all the more painful by the hype surrounding the team throughout the 2023 off-season. The current reality is that the Giants are more likely to be picking in the top 10 (or top 5) of the 2024 NFL Draft than competing for a playoff berth.

I didn’t want to look at any mock drafts before the Giants’ bye week. However, Ian Valentino of Pro Football Network released a 7-round mock on Saturday that I felt could lead to a good discussion.

To start, Valentino is PFN’s Director of College Scouting, lending this more weight than the average mock draft. Valentino also makes the predictable pick of quarterback for the Giants, but goes with a name we haven’t seen connected to them much (yet).

The picks

5. Bo Nix (QB, Oregon)

The New York Giants might feel like the New York Jets did when the latter lost out on Trevor Lawrence and opted to settle on Zach Wilson, but the Giants would be making out much better than their rival. Bo Nix has been terrific the last two seasons, boasting efficiency numbers that are almost hard to believe.

He’ll get ridiculed for checking down more than hunting big plays, but that inner playmaker who can create on his own is still in there. Don’t be surprised if Nix plays better in the NFL than in college, just like his predecessor Justin Herbert has.

36. Cooper Beebe (OG, Kansas State)

There’s no more physical guard in the draft than Kansas State’s Cooper Beebe. He’s a hammer in the run game as he bulldozes defenders into the turf. He’s also effective in pass protection, where his massive 332-pound frame allows him to anchor and withstand challengers.

53. J.T. Tuimoloau (EDGE, Ohio State)

Although J.T. Tuimoloau couldn’t parlay the momentum he built as a pass rusher at the end of 2022 into this season, he’s still a very good player who will start in the NFL for a long time.

Tuimoloau lacks elite burst and flexibility but is as strong as an ox and reads run keys at a near-perfect level. He’d benefit from playing next to a creative rusher like Kayvon Thibodeaux.

69. Xavier Legette (WR, South Carolina)

There’s no reason the Giants can’t look to double down on fixing their receiving corps this offseason. Getting more versatile playmakers with explosiveness has to be a priority. Xavier Legette fits the bill.

The 6’1″ senior is averaging an absurd 18.3 yards per catch this season, thanks to his open-field running ability and huge catch radius.

100. MarShawn Lloyd (RB, USC)
133. Brendan Rice (WR, USC)
164. Kitan Oladapo (S, Oregon State)

Raptor’s Thoughts

Let’s start with the first pick, because that’s the one that would make or break this draft — and likely the careers of Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll.

Nix is a fifth-year senior who started his career at Auburn before transferring to Oregon before the 2022 season. Nix was considered the No. 2 quarterback recruit in the country coming out of high school and was heavily recruited by the biggest programs in college football. He received scholarship offers from Auburn, Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, and Tennessee before settling on Auburn.

Nix has all the traits that teams look for in a top quarterback prospect. He has solid size at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, is a good athlete, and has plenty of arm talent. He’s able to flow in the pocket, escape and run, and has the arm attack all areas of the field from a variety of platforms. However, he he was never able to do more than flash that upside at Auburn, leading to his transfer and falling off the national radar. Nix blossomed since arriving in Oregon and finally looks like the player Auburn hoped they were getting when he signed his letter of intent. He’s having a Heisman-worthy season and is one of the best quarterbacks in the country.

Per Pro Football Focus, Nix leads the country in adjusted completion rate (85.6 percent) and turnover-worthy plays rate (0.7 percent) — while also throwing for 37 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions. He’s also (by my own number crunching) dropped his sack rate from a high of 6 percent in 2020 to 1.2 percent this year. At the same time, he’s improved his completion percentage and yards per attempt in each of his five years as well.

That all is encouraging, but we’re a long way from a final evaluation. There’s a lot of tape to watch to see if Nix’s improvement is due to a change in scenery or if he’s really addressed the underlying causes for his inconsistency at Auburn.

From there, Valentino selects guard Cooper Beebe out of K-State at 36th overall. Beebe is probably the top lineman left on the board, so that obviously makes sense for the Giants. Personally, I think I might have gone for Oklahoma right tackle Tyler Guyton (48th overall, Bengals). I think the Giants have more questions at right tackle than guard. Evan Neal has been a disappointment, and lower body injuries may have derailed his development at tackle. Meanwhile his “flipping burgers” comment didn’t do anything to endear him to fans. The team could try him inside at guard, or they could move on from him altogether if another team makes a good-enough offer.

The third round is where things get interesting for me. As I noted in our college football open thread this week, the Giants have a definite need at edge. Not only do they need a consistent threat across from Kayvon Thibodeau, they also need depth at the position.

That said, Oregon receiver Troy Franklin is selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the very next pick. Personally, if I’m making the selection and the Giants do draft Bo Nix at fifth overall, I’m adding his top target if at all possible. Franklin has been one of the best receivers in the NFL this year, and is putting up numbers comparable to Marvin Harrison Jr. for Oregon. I still believe the world at large — including some Giants fans — underrate the Giants’ existing receiving corps. However, I also believe they still need a true “number one” receiver to set off the rest of the offense. Likewise, I believe that pairing a young quarterback with a target with whom he is already familiar is a great way to shorten their development curve and help build comfort soonest. The Bengals did it with Joe Burrow and Jamar Chase, the Eagles with Jalen Hurts and DeVonta Smith, and the Jaguars with Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne.

As much as the Giants need help on the defensive edge, both in run defense and rushing the passer, getting the offense on track must be their main goal.

That isn’t to say I dislike the pick of Xavier Legette at 69. It’s a nice pick and Legette could find himself rocketing up draft boards after the season is over. He combines prototypical size at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds with legit speed down the field. I worry about his inconsistency catching the ball earlier in his career, and drops could rear their head once again given the speed and sophistication of the college game. However, I could also see a team like the Miami Dolphins targeting Legette, and we’ve seen how stacking speed on speed can stress a defense.

I could also see the Giants drafting both MarShawn Lloyd and Brenden Rice out of USC. Joe Schoen has gotten the opportunity to watch both players a couple times in person, and both could help fill out the Giants’ offensive roster. Lloyd is a short, stocky, and quick runner who can make big plays with a glint of daylight. He’s also a good receiver out of the backfield who could allow the team to move on from Matt Brieda. Brendan Rice is a tall, long receiver who flashes high upside. He’s aggressive at the catch point, a natural hands catcher, and flashes very high upside thanks to good speed, acceleration, and body control.

Oh, and he’s also Jerry Rice’s son.

Overall, this could be a very good draft that addresses a variety of needs for the Giants — If the pick of Bo Nix works out. As mentioned above, I would have gone in a couple other directions, but that isn’t to say the players Valentino selects are bad. Really, this is just an exercise to look at the Giants’ roster and where it might go in 2024 and beyond.