We are, as I write this, less than a month away from the 2023 NFL Draft.
Draft coverage is reaching a fever pitch around the NFL media ecosystem. We’ve had plenty of our own draft coverage with respect to the New York Giants, with Ed making weekly mock drafts (and tracking them as well) in addition to Nick’s film analysis and my own mock drafts.
Jordan Reid, formerly of The Draft Network and currently of ESPN, put out a full 7-round mock draft (inSider content). Reid’s draft will certainly raise some eyebows, as it features players who have already proven divisive among the Giants’ fanbase.
Did the Giants get better in Reid’s draft?
25. Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
The Giants have committed this offseason to adding pass-catchers around quarterback Daniel Jones, who got a four-year extension in early March. Tight end Darren Waller was a high-profile trade target, but Flowers would be an explosive addition as well. Although he’s not very big — 5-9, 182 pounds — he’s capable of making plays from the slot and on the outside.
Wide receiver has been an incredibly popular pick for the Giants in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft. The Giants have added safety nets in free agency, but there could still use “number one” receiver, a starting cornerback, a starting EDGE, a starting interior offensive lineman, a starting safety, and another linebacker.
The positive spin on that is that almost any way the Giants go in the first round, they’ll be getting a player who can help them and make the team better.
Flowers should fit well with what the Giants like to do on offense. He’s a dynamic athlete and a natural separator who can win quickly with his quickness. The Giants ran a very risk-averse and short-range offense in 2022. Flowers would give them a fiery competitor who can make plays in space.
His (slight) tendency to double-catch the ball is a concern and bit reminiscent of Wan’Dale Robinson. The Giants had some pretty good luck with turnovers in 2022, and that was a significant factor in a lot of their wins. However, they’ll need to win on offense if they want to be a consistent threat in 2023 and beyond — and that will likely mean taking on some more risk.
Flowers could well be worth the risk.
57. Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
The Giants had just six interceptions last season, tied for the worst total in the league. With 14 career interceptions — including an SEC-record six pick-sixes — Forbes is the exact type of defender the Giants’ secondary lacks. A predominantly Cover 1 scheme corner, Forbes has the speed and quickness to translate in Wink Martindale’s aggressive defense.
I feel like a certain kind of football fan is going to feel some kind of way about this draft after the first two picks.
And I get it. At 170 pounds (his Pro Day weight), he’s even more whip-thin than Cor’Dale Flott at the same height and Flott’s size was an issue in 2022.
However, Forbes is an elite athlete with great long speed and oily hips, and truly elite ball skills. You don’t get 20 passes defensed, 14 interceptions, and 6 defensive touchdowns (3 in two separate season) by accident.
Taking the ball away is the one sure way to stop modern offenses, and the Giants weren’t very good at that last year. They forced fumbles, but really struggled at generating interceptions. Some of that is just luck — interception totals tend to be pretty volatile on both sides of the ball — but having players who instinctively understand how to play the ball at the catch point certainly helps.
Forbes is going to be a polarizing prospect, but the Giants have also shown a willingness to look outside of traditional thresholds for skillsets that fit their team vision.
89. Olusegun Oluwatimi, OC, Michigan
The center spot has been a revolving door for the Giants since the glory days of Weston Richburg. Six-foot-2, 309-pound Oluwatimi has the strength and experience to step in and be a Day 1 starter.
Prior to posting his latest four-round mock draft, Ed asked me if I liked Luke Wypler or Steve Avila better for the Giants. I asked him Oluwatimi or Ricky Stromberg were still available in the third round. He said they were, but ultimately decided to go with Wypler. Personally, I think Oluwatimi has enough scheme versatility to allow the Giants to keep their diverse running game, and is also a very good pass protector.
I like that Reid brings up Weston Richburg, because Oluwatimi reminds me of Richburg a fair bit. Neither player is a mauler, but both are very smart, play with great leverage, understand how to use positioning and leverage to their advantage, and have fantastic awareness. Oluwatimi was voted the best center and interior offensive lineman in college football for a reason.
Rounds 4 through 7
Reid doesn’t give his full thoughts on all of the Day 3 picks, so in the interests of efficiency I’ll offer mine after listing all seven of his picks for the Giants.
128th overall - Chandler Zavala (iOL, NC State)
160th overall - Chase Brown (RB, Illinois) [Prospect Profile]
172nd overall - Yasir Abdullah (EDGE, Louisville)
209th overall - via Kansas City Chiefs - P.J. Mustipher (iDL, Penn State)
243rd overall - Marte Mapu (S/LB, Sacramento State)
254th overall - Lonnie Phelps (EDGE, Kansas)
Overall, it isn’t much of a surprise that Reid keeps going back to the defensive well for the Giants. This is going to be a defensive draft and there’s just fantastic depth on that side of the ball. There’s also the fact that while Martindale’s squad was able to take advantage of opponents’ mistakes when they needed to, the Giants’ defense just wasn’t very good on a down-to-down basis.
That said, I think my favorite pick from the third day is Illinois running back Chase Brown. I would have preferred Isreal Abinikanda (RB, Pittsburgh [prospect profile]), who goes just after Reid’s selection of Brown for the Giants.
My one big concern is waiting until the seventh round to draft a safety. The Giants are relying on Dane Belton, Jason Pinnock, and Bobby McCain to replace Julian Love, and that feels like a downgrade from where the Giants were when Xavier McKinney was injured. Love is closer to the player McKinney is than the rest of the safeties are to the player Love is. While I definitely agree that the Giants need to continue to add to their interior offensive line, I would have jumped on Daniel Scott (S, UCLA [prospect profile]) at 128th overall rather than Chandler Zavala.
I haven’t studied Abdullah, Mustipher, Mapu, or Phelps in enough depth to offer detailed thoughts on them. However, I’ve seen enough to be intrigued by them — Abdullah and Mapu in particular. Both are undersized but athletic and versatile players who could make for intriguing fits in Wink Martindale’s defense or at least solid special teams players.
EDGE is an underrated need for the Giants given Azeez Ojulari’s injury questions and the quality of the depth behind he and Kayvon Thibodeaux. Hopefully Abdullah or Phelps could be a late-round steal.