It’s that time of year - mock draft season! As the New York Giants prepare for free agency, many draft pundits speculate what teams may look like in a few short months. Today at Big Blue View, we review what Cam Mellor of Pro Football Network did for the New York Giants in a seven-round NFL mock draft.
In the mock draft, the Giants possess 11 picks. Mellor focuses on repairing Big Blue’s secondary while providing explosive weapons for newly-extended quarterback Daniel Jones. Here’s Mellor’s mock draft:
Round 1 (No. 25) — Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
Banks is a late riser up draft boards who had a fantastic season for the Terrapins in 2022. His height and length are sufficient, but he has rare athletic ability and excellent man coverage skills:
He only allowed a 49 percent catch rate through all four seasons at Maryland with eleven passes defended and two interceptions, according to Pro Football Focus. His aggressive mentality, athletic prowess, and press-man ability fit well with Wink Martindale’s defensive scheme.
I have yet to do my formal evaluation of Banks. I watched some of his Wisconsin tape but stumbled upon him while evaluating Purdue wide receiver Charlie Jones. Jones had eight 100+ yard games in 2022; he broke records at Purdue, and he was the engine of the offense. Banks held him to three catches for 15 yards. It’s a deep cornerback class, and Banks could be one of the Giants' top options at pick 25.
Banks is at the bottom of the screen here; for every player, I will attempt to incorporate one play that shows the upside of the pick. Banks' ability to open his hips, squeeze the receiver off the redline, flash his eys on the football, and play through the catch point are some of the reasons why the Giants will be interested in his skill set.
Round 2 (No. 57) — Devon Achane, RB, Texas A&M
Running back is on the Giants' radar, and few backs are as explosive and fast as Achane, who ran the fastest 40-yard dash for RBs at the combine. Achane averaged 6.4 yards per carry at Texas A&M with long runs of 76, 65, and 63 in each of his three seasons. He is a home run threat every time he touches the football, and he has dangerous acceleration.
I like Achane, but I don’t love the selection at 57 for a few reasons. Mellor had the Giants selecting Achane over Arkansas LB Drew Sanders, IOL from Wisconsin Joe Tippmann, Tennessee WR Cedric Tillman, Pitt DT Calijah Kancey, and Iowa State edge defender Will McDonald IV. Mellor also had UCLA RB Zach Charbonnet going after Achane; I prefer Charbonnet as a better overall back, albeit Achane is much faster. No knock whatsoever on Mellor, but I would have gone in another direction. Selecting an undersized running back with a top-60 pick if you're the Giants is a bit precarious.
However, it’s important to acknowledge the rational logic behind the Achane selection. The Giants desperately need to find ways to create explosive plays with their offense, and Achane is the biggest explosive play threat. He could co-exist on the roster with franchise-tagged RB Saquon Barkley, and he’d make for a fine complement who would earn a role. It’s an upside pick, but I think the Giants had better players available at more pivotal spots on their roster.
Round 3 (No. 89) — Bryce Ford-Wheaton, WR, West Virginia
The Giants need playmakers at the wide receiver position, and no one turned more heads at the combine than West Virginia’s Bryce Ford-Wheaton.
Ford-Wheaton’s size/speed metrics are off the charts, displaying excellent lower body explosiveness and change of direction at 6-foot-3, 221 pounds. However, does that make him a good playmaker?
He caught 62 of 105 passes for 675 yards with seven touchdowns in 2022, which was his best season. Modest stats for a top-90 pick, but arguments about his quarterback play are fair. He wasn’t in the best situation to maximize his athletic talent, nor did the offense require him to run a diverse route tree. It’s plausible that we haven’t seen the best from Bryce Ford-Wheaton. This is an upside pick in the third round.
In this mock draft, the Carolina Panthers select Tulane RB Tyjae Spears at 93 - four picks after the Ford-Wheaton selection. It’s not my attempt to be cantankerous toward the mock draft, nor is evaluating such mock drafts in this specific manner always appropriate. But for argument's sake, I would much prefer Tennessee’s Cedric Tillman at 57 and Spears at 89 rather than Achane and Ford-Wheaton. Still, as previously mentioned, the Giants need to find ways to create explosive plays, and these selections by Mellor certainly have the upside to do so.
Round 3 (No. 100) — Braeden Daniels, G, Utah
[NOTE: Compensatory pick from Kansas City Chiefs]
I haven’t evaluated much of Braeden Daniels yet, but he had versatile usage while a Ute. He played 966 snaps at left tackle in 2022, 813 snaps at right tackle, along with 146 at left guard in 2021, and was a left guard in the previous two seasons. He’s a fifth-year player with 2,942 career snaps under his belt and extensive experience at three positions along the offensive line.
You won’t find many Giants’ fans that will oppose supplementing the offensive line, after a decade of sub-optimal play up front. New York has long-term availabilities at the interior offensive line, and Daniels could realistically fill one of those voids.
Daniels is No. 71 at LT
(Round 4, No. 128) — Ronnie Hickman, S, Ohio State
The Giants bring a New Jersey kid back home with this selection; Hickman is from South Orange and attended DePaul Catholic High School, but, like many top recruits from New Jersey, the four-star took his talents to other Big-10 schools and became a Buckeye. He tore his ACL early in his college career but started the last two years.
Safety depth is a need even if the Giants retain Julian Love. Dane Belton failed to seize the day when Xavier McKinney suffered his hand injury during the bye week. Belton could still realistically be a long-term option, but the coaching staff showed little faith in him after the Detroit Lions game, albeit he played some snaps down the stretch of the season.
I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Giants draft a safety, even if Love is brought back to the team. In this scenario, the Giants selected safety Hickman, with Wisconsin DT Keeanu Benton, Iowa TE Sam LaPorta and Iowa CB Riley Moss still on the board. I’m not sure they would go in that direction, but who am I to state that?
Hickman has solid size and good 33-inch arms. His nickname was the rocket in college, and he’s not shy to introduce himself in the alley to running backs. He finished his time at Ohio State with 157 tackles, 2.5 for a loss, a sack, three interceptions, and seven passes defended.
Hickman is No. 14 over the No. 3 WR
(Round 5, No. 160) — Cameron Mitchell, CB, Northwestern
Mellor has the Giants going back to cornerback after adding a safety - I’m not going to complain about asset allocation if it helps Martindale run his system. There are other holes on the roster, but ensuring that Martindale doesn’t rely on DoorDash employees is vital to his system and philosophy.
Mitchell is a good athlete at cornerback who is quick in and out of breaks. He’s explosive and caught my eye when I was evaluating his teammate — edge defender Adetomiwa Adebawore. Mitchell allowed one touchdown with a 58 percent catch rate in the Big-10 while intercepting one pass with seven passes defended.
Cameron Mitchell is No. 2
(Round 5, No. 172) — Mohamoud Diabate, LB, Utah
[NOTE: Compensatory selection]
Diabate may have been the biggest NFL Scouting Combine snub of 2023. The former Florida linebacker transferred to Utah for the 2022 season. He’s an athletic linebacker with range, who can be used in many different ways; I think he’d be a solid fit for Martindale’s aggressive system since he’s good at penetrating and he had 79 pressures with 13 sacks in college (Pro Football Focus).
Still, he struggles with his keys and his ability to stack and shed is something that needs work. In my opinion, waiting till pick 172 to select a linebacker would be an issue if the Giants don’t address the position in free agency. They very well could sign Tremaine Edmunds or T.J. Edwards, which would make the wait understandable.
Diabate aligned on the edge in about 30 percent of his snaps. Selecting him would give Martindale a versatile chess piece for sub-packages who could play linebacker, but could also act as an edge rusher, like a very poor man’s version of Micah Parsons. However, he needs a lot of refinement if you assume he’ll be a true number-one linebacker in Year 1.
Left side, No. 3
(Round 6, No. 209) — Jason Taylor II, S, Oklahoma State
Another safety? With no tight end or only one wide receiver? Well, let’s assume that the Giants signed Mike Gesicki in free agency! Still, Jason Taylor II would be a great value for the Giants this late. He was a ball-hawk in the Big-12 over the last two seasons with eight interceptions, and six passes defended with a 90th percentile broad and 98th percentile vertical jump.
Taylor II has great concentration and understands how to utilize timing to his advantage when baiting quarterbacks. He had a few interceptions that were just fortunate tipped passes in the air, but others were excellent individual efforts by Taylor II. I wish he was a more consistent tackler in open space, and his angles to the football aren’t always perfect in run support.
He does remind me of Belton in that manner - a safety who isn’t always crisp coming downhill but has a knack for causing interceptions due to processing advantages. Like Belton in college at Iowa, Taylor II can also align in the box and play STAR. He had 234 snaps in the box last season. Taylor II seems like a fit at this point of the draft, even though the Giants - in this scenario - have yet to address other needs.
Top right No. 25
(Round 7, No. 240) — Jadakis Bonds, WR, Hampton
I can’t say I’ve grinded through Hampton football tape quite yet, but Jadakis Bonds is a big-bodied FCS wide receiver who caught 51 of 97 passes for 863 yards with 10 touchdowns in 2022. He was named Shrine Bowl HBCU Offensive Player of the Week in October after he posted a 141-yard, two-touchdown, performance against Maine on just six catches. He received an invite to the East-West Shrine Game, where he put some highlight reel catches on display:
Jadakis Bonds with beautiful catch @ShrineBowl #NFLDraft2023 pic.twitter.com/uSc80lsg54— Bo Marchionte (@BoMarchionte) January 28, 2023
Here’s a different angle:
Jadakis Bonds with the play of the day,whoa! #ShrineBowl | @Hampton_FB pic.twitter.com/g3ztLlbUG0— East-West Shrine Bowl (@ShrineBowl) January 28, 2023
Hard for me to authentically opine on a player I haven’t seen much of yet, but a small-school wide receiver with size and outside capabilities like this is a solid gamble late on Day 3.
(Round 7, No. 243) — Chris Murray, C, Oklahoma
The Giants go back to the interior offensive line and find a developmental player who can compete with Marcus McKethan for back-end roster duties to start. Murray played 3,284 snaps at right guard in college for Oklahoma and UCLA. He transferred to become a Sooner after the 2019 season.
He has surrendered 74 pressures and nine sacks through 1,925 pass-blocking reps. He only allowed eleven pressures and two sacks last year for Oklahoma. He’s a solid overall run blocker who lunges a bit, at times, but can really overpower defenders with an aggressive mentality.
Murray was a highly recruited player out of the esteemed Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California. He was a four-star player. Now, he’ll look to be drafted and developed. This wouldn’t be a terrible option for him, since the Giants’ right guard position is available for long-term seizing.
RG, No. 56
(Round 7, No. 254) — Caleb Murphy, Edge, Ferris State
[NOTE: Compensatory selection]
The Giants finally address their defensive front with their last pick in the draft - Caleb Murphy out of Divison II Ferris State. The Bulldogs of Ferris State were Murphy’s second school; he initially attended Grand Valley State and transferred after the 2019 season. Murphy was at the NFL Scouting Combine and the East-West Shrine Game.
He paved his path to exclusive events through excellent play as a big fish in a small pond. Murphy was the first ever non-FBS recipient of the Ted Hendricks Award, which is bestowed to the nation’s top defensive end. Murphy set an NCAA single-season record in sacks with 25.5; he also had 39 tackles for a loss which matched the all-time single-season record.
Murphy’s testing is going to hurt his stock, specifically his 28½-inch vertical jump at 254 pounds. A team may choose to select him somewhere on Day 3, or he could be a priority-free agent. Either way, he would slide in behind Tomon Fox to start training camp.
Ferris State EDGE Caleb Murphy (@calebmurphy008) was the single season all-time D2 sack leader with 25.5 and led the nation in TFLs with 39, tied for the most ever in a CFB season.— Daniel Flick (@DFlickDraft) January 30, 2023
He was also one of the most fun interviews I’ve had this week and is showing his game translates: pic.twitter.com/UM9e8ipnsg