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Thoughts on Dane Brugler’s pre-Combine Top 100 Big Board

Could the Giants land the receiver of their dreams?

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Syndication: Arizona Republic Joe Rondone / USA TODAY NETWORK

We’re still relatively early in this year’s Draft Process and the lead-up to the 2023 NFL Draft at the end of April.

We’re also a ways away from the official Big Blue View Big Board being unveiled. But it can still be interesting to look at other draft analysts to see how their evaluations take shape. In that vein, Dane Brugler from The Athletic has released his pre-combine Top-100 big board. He has some interesting rankings, particularly with respect to the New York Giants selections at 25th, 58th, and 90th (and 101st) overall.

What are some of the more striking aspects of Brugler’s Top 100?

The quarterback depth chart

You pretty muchhave to talk about the quarterback position any time you talk about the NFL draft. The NFL is a quarterback driven league and teams know that if they don’t have a quarterback who can facilitate their offense and carry the team to victory, they need one. That means the quarterback position always has an outsized influence on the draft board.

Brugler lists four quarterbacks in his top 100, with Bryce Young at third, C.J. Stroud at seventh, Will Levis at 10th, and Anthony Richardson at 14th.

This is probably how the draft order should shake out, but we’ll see if it’s how it actually DOES line up that way. Personally, I love Bryce Young and would take him at No. 1 overall every time. Yes, he’s undersized, but he does everything well. And frankly, his composure in the biggest moments is the closest thing I’ve seen to Eli Manning since Easy E himself.

That said, I could definitely see teams favoring C.J. Stroud once they get a look at the two of them together. Stroud was incredibly efficient in college himself and just looks like an NFL quarterback — that matters to a lot of teams. We’ll probably see a trade up to Number 1 overall, and I’m not sure if a GM and owner will pony up the trade capital for an undersized quarterback who might carry the “injury concern” tag.

We’re also going to see teams over-draft Will Levis and Anthony Richardson — and probably oodles of comparisons to Josh Allen for both.

Both quarterbacks have undeniable physical traits, but both were also undeniably inconsistent. But we will certainly see scouts, coaches, GMs, and owners falling head-over-heels for their upside and convince themselves that they’re the ones who will be able to unlock their upside.

We’ll see whether they’re right.

But assuming teams draft quarterbacks highly — and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see four go in the Top 10 — that could push some talented prospects down the depth chart.

Are things lining up for the Giants?

The Giants have a bunch of glaring needs all over their roster, but none has gotten more press than the wide receiver position.

Wide receiver have become increasingly valuable to NFL offenses, and have been drafted increasingly highly. This year, however, early evaluations have just been lukewarm on the 2023 wide receiver class.

Brugler has just one receiver in his top 10 — USC’s Jordan Addison at 20th overall. His top four receivers (addison, Jalen Hyatt, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Quentin Johnston) all land between 20 and 26, which could work to the Giants’ advantage. His next highest-ranked receiver lands at 45, and he only has seven receivers in his Top 70.

I don’t doubt that we’re going to see a stratified receiver class. The most common complaint will likely be that many of the receivers are “undersized”. However, we’ve seen the NFL be increasingly willing to select “undersized” receivers highly. That will certainly help Addison and Hyatt, both of whom are athletic but in the 6-foot, 185-pound range. Johnston, on the other hand, will probably be a workout warrior.

I would be surprised if we don’t see a receiver drafted until the bottom third of the first round. It might be more likely that there’s a small run on receivers early, and then a drought until the second round.

The Giants would certainly like it if Addison or Johnston slide on draft night, however.

Smith-Njigba is probably the wild card in the wide receiver depth chart. He a hamstring injury held him to just three games in 2022, and he caught just three passes in those three games. He was Stroud’s go-to in 2021 despite sharing the field with Chris Olave and 2022 OROY Garrett Wilson. However, teams will likely have questions about Smith-Njigba after he ended his season early to get ready for the draft.

Quarterbacks, look out

Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari proved to be a formidable pass rushing duo ... When they were both on the field. Ojulari struggled with injuries throughout 2022, and Thibodeaux wasn’t as dangerous without Ojulari’s speed across from him.

Because of that, I think finding a “1C” edge rusher should be a priority for the Giants on defense. Giants fans know how important it is to be able to send waves of pass rushers after opposing quarterbacks. And it just so happens that edge might be the most stacked position in this year’s draft class. Brugler has 15 edge players in his Top-100, and there are other defenders who might not be evaluated as an edge but can play the role.

This draft has options for pretty much every defensive philosophy, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Giants get another weapon for Wink Martindale.

By the same token, we could also see the Giants select another cornerback relatively highly. Brugler has Maryland’s Deonte Banks and Georgia’s Kelee Ringo ranked at 31st and 32nd overall (respectivel). Both are big, long, athletic, and physical cornerbacks, with sky-high upside. Considering that we know the Giants were very interested in Derek Stingley and Sauce Gardner last year, finding a cornerback who can give their secondary some consistency would be huge for Martindale’s defense.