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‘Things I think’ after Round 1: Trader Joe, first-round upheaval, Day 2 possibilities, more

Ed’s thoughts after the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft

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NFL Combine Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Day 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft is in the books, and cornerback Deonte Banks is the newest member of the New York Giants. Here are some ‘things I think’ entering Day 2.

The 25th pick streak lives!

I called it! I predicted Thursday morning that Giants general manager Joe Schoen would move off the 25th pick, making it seven consecutive years in which the 25th overall pick in the draft has been dealt.

Schoen made me sweat that prediction, waiting until pick No. 24 to swing a deal to move up one spot and select Maryland cornerback Deonte Banks.

I am happy with the move, and not just because it made me right. Or, because I am a Maryland grad. I am happy with the move because it showed some aggression on Schoen’s part. Once the wide receivers came off the board, cornerback became the likely target. The Giants clearly preferred Banks to Joey Porter Jr., Cam Smith, Julius Brents, Kelee Ringo or DJ Turner. So, they used some of their extra draft capital (picks 160 and 240) to make sure they got the player they desired.

How many times have we seen the Giants burned by not being aggressive? Remember ending up with Eli Apple in 2016 after the Giants got jumped for both Leonard Floyd and Jack Conklin? How about ending up with Kadarius Toney after the Eagles jumped the Giants for DeVonta Smith two years ago?

Schoen made sure that didn’t happen, and he still has seven picks remaining with at least one in every round.

“Getting Banks is a guy that we liked, we spent a lot of time with and we’re ecstatic to get him,” Schoen said. “If it’s a player you covet, you naturally think everybody else may, too. So a lot of mock drafts guys are gone and we went through different scenarios, and it played out pretty darn close to some of the scenarios that we went through. We weren’t sure he’d be there.”

Whither Will Levis

When the Indianapolis Colts took Anthony Richardson No. 4 overall, you had to wonder how far Will Levis would fall. When the Washington Commanders took Emmanuel Forbes at No. 16 Levis falling out of Round 1 became a distinct possibility, and that is exactly what happened.

Levis, though, was not the only player who had been expected to be selected in Round 1 that did not get a Thursday night phone call from a new NFL employer.

Safety Brian Branch, tight end Michael Mayer, cornerback Joey Porter Jr., guard O’Cyrus Torrence and a host of other players whose names had been bandied about as likely, or at least potential, late first-round picks will still be available when Round 2 begins at 7 p.m. ET on Friday night.

I talk about this year after year. There is so much chatter about the draft out there that you enter the first night convinced there are at least 50 guys who deserve to be first-round picks. There are only 32 spots, this year 31 thanks to the Miami Dolphins’ transgressions. There are ALWAYS players who fall out of the first round that the media, and by extension NFL fans, believed would be selected there. That’s because there are ALWAYS a few players (Jahmyr Gibbs, Will Anderson IV, Jack Campbell, Mazi Smith, Felix Anudike-Uzomah) considered to be unlikely first-rounders chosen.

That is because media big boards and prospect rankings, those things that we get attached and take as gospel when they come from our favored analysts, don’t matter. They mean nothing to NFL GMs or in NFL draft rooms. All they are, truthfully, is discussion fodder for fans who can’t wait for the draft to arrive.

What matters is how each team ranks the players, sees their needs and feels certain players will fit into what they want to do. NFL teams don’t just watch YouTube highlights. They spend an incredible number of hours and gobs of money getting to know more about these players both on the field and off than anyone outside an NFL scouting department ever will.

Sometimes they will be right. Sometimes they will be wrong. NFL team draft decisions, though, are based on far more data than anyone on the outside will ever have.

Schoen might not be done dealing

Having surrendered a fifth-round pick (No. 160) and one of his three seventh-rounders (No. 240) to make sure he landed Banks, Schoen does not have quite as much draft capital for the remainder of the draft as he started with. Here are the Giants’ remaining picks:

Round 2 (No. 57)
Round 3 (No. 89)
Round 4 (No. 128)
Round 5 (No. 172)
Round 6 (No. 209)
Round 7 (No. 243)
Round 7 (No. 254)

Schoen, though, said Thursday night that he might not be done wheeling and dealing.

“I’d still go up.,” Schoen said. “We’ll still move. We still have, like, our premium, second, third, fourth. We are in good shape from that standpoint if we want to move around.”

What would Schoen move up for? In my view, most likely a center or an interior offensive lineman if the Giants are serious about the idea that Ben Bredeson or someone else already on the roster can be a starting NFL center.

The reality is that the Philadelphia Eagles drafting defensive tackle Jalen Carter and edge defender Nolan Smith, and the Dallas Cowboys drafting defensive tackle Mazi Smith on Thursday night made solidifying the offense line even more important for the Giants.

BBV’s Nick Falato messaged me after the conclusion of the first round Thursday night with this stark comment:

“I’m frightened by this division’s DL.”

He has a point.

Friday morning I ran a mock draft of the second and third rounds using the Pro Football Network simulator. In that mock, both Joe Tippmann of Wisconsin and John Michael Schmitz of Minnesota, were available at No. 57, the Giants’ current spot in Round 2. They were, in fact, the top two players on the Pro Football Network Big Board. One simulated mock, though, is a tiny sample size.

Is that realistic?

The ESPN Analytics Draft Day Predictor says there is roughly a 40% chance Tippmann will be available at No. 57 and roughly a 45% chance Schmitz will be available.

If Schoen wants one of those two players moving up in Round 2 seems like the best bet.

My Day 2 guys

Chris Pflum and Nick Falato spent the wee hours of morning putting together their lists of the best players available for the Giants on Day 2. You can also check our Big Board to see how our rankings are holding up.

I can’t, though, let everyone else have all the fun. Here are ‘my guys’ for the Giants on Day 2.

Joe Tippmann, C, Wisconsin — Yes, I’m going to die on this hill. I know I might be in the minority, but for me Tippmann is OC1. He is bigger and more athletic than John Michael Schmitz and I believe has a higher upside. When he made Bruce Feldman’s ‘Freaks List,’ as No. 28 out of 100, here is what Feldman wrote:

The 6-6, 323-pounder made honorable mention All-Big Ten in his first season as a starter for the Badgers. Tippmann is a terrific combination of strength (635-pound back squat and 455-pound bench) and athleticism, clocking a 4.31 pro agility time and a 1.65 10-yard split, which would’ve been faster than any O-lineman at the NFL combine this year (2022).

Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane — If the Giants are going to take a running back on Day 2, I want it to be this guy. He is RB3 in Matt Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio Draft Guide, and Waldman compares him to former Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, who had six 1,000-yard rushing seasons in an 11-year career.

Tank Dell, WR, Houston — This, apparently, is yet another hill I am willing to die on (at least figuratively). I know he is 5-foot-8 and 163 pounds. I don’t, though believe there is another wide receiver on the board with a skill set that better matches the offense Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka have crafted in New York.

Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas — I don’t think it is going to happen, but I would love to see what Wink Martindale could do with Sanders. He has size, decent speed and solid athleticism for the position. He is new to the off-ball linebacker position and has just scratched the surface of his talent. He can cover. He can rush the passer. He has the flexibility to move outside on occasion.

Jonathan Mingo, WR, Ole Miss — It took me a while to warm up to Mingo. It’s not easy to see what Mingo could be when you watch the Ole Miss offense — the quarterback play in 2022 wasn’t good and the passing attack, as a result, wasn’t exactly pro caliber. Mingo, though, is a big, athletic, high-upside player who could outperform a Day 2 draft slot.

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