With the NFL Draft nigh, the New York Giants’ plans at the top of the 2023 NFL Draft have seemingly both moved very little and become no clearer. Having a pick at the bottom of the first round makes it more likely for there to be surprises.
Overall, though, the Giants have 10 picks, and the way they are likely to use that draft capital has been clarified somewhat. Free agency and trades helped the Giants fill some holes on their team while opening or failing to address others.
With a wide-eye lens, let’s take a look at how offseason moves have changed the landscape of the Giants’ pick process.
Locking up Daniel Jones was the big order of business for the offseason. Tyrod Taylor remains a valuable backup, but he is a free agent after the season. Could the Giants draft another quarterback in the middle or rounds? It’s less likely considering that NFL teams tend to carry only two quarterbacks on the roster nowadays, but never say never.
The Giants brought back Matt Breida, which was a solid low-key move. Breida capably spelled Saquon Barkley in the backfield. However, the team lacks depth at the position; Barkley has yet to sign his franchise tag, and Gary Brightwell is the only other experienced option on the roster.
The team seems likely to seek a running back at some point in the draft. That could happen in the latter stages of the draft, especially since the team has three seventh-rounders.
One of the big issues the Giants faced last season was their lack of firepower at the receiver position. Darius Slayton went from offseason trade bait and a potential cut candidate to the team’s clear No. 1 target. The fact that Isaiah Hodgins, a midseason pickup who was cut by the Bills, became one of their key contributors spoke volumes to the dearth of talent at the position.
To address that in a thin free-agent market, the Giants opted for a volume approach. They re-signed Slayton, Hodgins, and Sterling Shepard and picked up Parris Campbell, Jamison Crowder, and Jeff Smith. Collin Johnson and David Sills, two other receivers who took snaps last season, are also still around, as is 2022 second-rounder Wan’Dale Robinson, coming off a torn ACL.
While still not an inspiring receiver group, the Giants do have a decent amount of talent. Slayton is a deep threat. Hodgins, Robinson, and Campbell are solid slot options. Crowder and Smith are not guaranteed to make the roster. Johnson and Sills are possible practice squad candidates. Shepard is still the solid wily vet, albeit one who cannot find a way to stay on the field; he has not played a full season since 2018.
The biggest issue with this group is injuries. Robinson tore his ACL at the end of November, which means his Week 1 availability is in doubt. Shepard’s skills have been diminished with age and injury. Campbell is chronically an injury risk.
The Giants undoubtedly need another receiver to fill out their group. However, the players they brought back and brought in make it less of a desperate first-round need than it previously was. In a deeper receiver class, that Round 1 selection would still be more likely; however, with many of the receivers having second-round grades or lower, the Giants do not need to reach to take one with the 25th pick.
Entering the offseason, the Giants had 2022 fourth-rounder Daniel Bellinger and former Jets practice squad player Lawrence Cager as the top two tight ends on their depth chart. Bellinger was developing some chemistry with Daniel Jones prior to his freak eye injury, but overall, he had a quiet rookie season. Cager’s speed is intriguing, but he’s a liability as a blocker and certainly not reliable as a regular contributor.
The trade for Darren Waller changed the Giants’ depth chart. Waller has dealt with injuries in recent years, but when healthy, he’s one of the most prolific passing threats at the tight end position.
With the acquisition of Waller, the Giants seem unlikely to invest in a tight end in the first few rounds of the draft. However, it would not be surprising to see them draft one at some point. Waller is 31 and is coming off a disappointing season plus the injuries. The team could definitely use more depth.
The Giants have their tackles set despite Evan Neal’s rookie struggles. Their guards are Ben Bredeson and Mark Glowinski, who are solid enough. However, they don’t have a center. Losing Nick Gates and Jon Feliciano this offseason wasn’t particularly surprising but opened a significant hole on the Giants’ offense. They could shift Bredeson to center and draft a guard, but this draft has a number of starting-caliber centers.
It is most likely that the Giants will draft a center in one of the higher rounds. Although John Michael Schmitz has been linked to them in the first round, they might find the 25th pick too high to pick a center. Joe Tippmann and Luke Wypler are quality options in the second round and may end up going the Giants’ way. Olu Oluwatimi, Juice Scruggs, and Ricky Stromberg are mid-round possibilities.
The Giants should be set with their top edge rushers in Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari. However, with the injuries and inconsistency that plagued Ojulari’s second season and the thin depth behind the pair, it would not be surprising to see the Giants take another edge in the draft. Jihad Ward and Tomon Fox are really the only other edges on the roster.
Interior defensive line
Dexter Lawrence is due for an extension this offseason. Leonard Williams is in the final year of his contract, and his injuries are starting to catch up to him. Rakeem Nunez-Roches and recent signee A’Shawn Robinson make it less likely that the Giants will draft a defensive tackle in the first round.
However, the Giants could still choose to go to the interior defensive line at some point. If they see a Williams replacement, they could grab him.
The Giants signed Bobby Okereke to man one of the interior linebacker spots. After him, though, the Giants have a lot of unknowns. Jarrad Davis is underwhelming. Micah McFadden is young and unproven. Darrian Beavers is coming off injury.
Don’t be surprised to see the Giants pick a linebacker in the middle rounds.
The Giants pretty much stood pat at cornerback, inking Amani Oruwariye but not doing too much else. After Adoree’ Jackson, their depth chart has a lot of unknown names. Cor’Dale Flott didn’t see much action as a rookie. Darnay Holmes is a decent piece but not a starter. Rodarious Williams, Nick McCloud, and Aaron Robinson round out the depth chart.
Cornerback is a likely pick in the early rounds, possibly even the first round.
Losing Julian Love for a relatively modest price wasn’t ideal for the Giants. The current replacement is Bobby McCain, who is definitely a downgrade. Xavier McKinney mans the other spot, with Jason Pinnock, Dane Belton, and Trenton Thompson as other options.
Although this is not a deep safety class, the Giants could look for an aggressive hybrid safety at some point in the draft.
How things have changed overall
The Giants came into the offseason needing a starting receiver and cornerback, and they likely still do. Center is a more immediate need since they don’t even have anyone penciled in as the starter there. Safety is more urgent with Love gone.
Positions that became less likely in the early rounds include defensive tackle and tight end.
The Giants can always throw a curveball in the draft, especially with a lower first-round pick. However, in the long run, their offseason as a whole has dictated what positions they are most likely targeting.