NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah is one of the more plugged-in draft pundits. The former NFL scout released his top 50 NFL Draft Rankings 4.0 on Wednesday, Let’s see what we can learn.
Jeremiah maintained the same top five that he had in Rankings 3.0, which was released more than a month ago. Two Alabama underclassmen sit atop his rankings, with quarterback Bryce Young at one and edge defender Will Anderson at two.
Texas running back Bijan Robinson is followed by Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson and Georgia’s Jalen Carter to round out the top five. Carter was the number-one-ranked prospect in Jeremiah’s second edition of his rankings, but the off-field issues pushed the talented defensive lineman down the board to five.
Six, seven, and eight were also the same for Jeremiah:
6: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
7: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
8: Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
Jeremiah’s rankings began to change with a player the New York Giants are hosting a top-30 visit for, USC WR Jordan Addison. The former Pitt Panther dropped from ninth in Jeremiah’s rankings to 13th.
Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid usurped Addison at nine, from pick 11, and quarterback Anthony Richardson maintained his position as Jeremiah’s 10th-ranked player. Kentucky’s Will Levis stayed at 12 for Jeremiah, and Christian Gonzalez jumped from 13 to 11. Iowa edge Lukas Van Ness and Tennessee tackle Darnell Wright cap off the top 15.
Of Jeremiah’s top 15, Addison and Kincaid are the only realistic options who might be available for the Giants at No. 25. Given that the Giants just acquired Darren Waller, Kincaid is likely not a target, albeit the Giants are reportedly hosting a possible top-50 player in Oregon State tight end Luke Musgrave.
In a fantasy world, I would love for Witherspoon to fall to New York at 25, but it’s more likely my dog turns into an alicorn and learns how to play piano. Let’s look at the next 10.
16: Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State, OT
17: Broderick Jones, Georgia, OT
18: Nolan Smith, edge, Georgia
19: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
20: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
21: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
22: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
23: Myles Murphy, edge, Clemson
24: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
25: Darnell Washington, Georgia, TE
The biggest movers up in the list above were Smith-Njigba and Banks, who both rose four spots. Flowers, Johnson, and Broderick Jones rose two spots, and Porter Jr., fell four.
This outcome would benefit the Giants if the draft shook out in this manner. Four quarterbacks, two tight ends, and three offensive tackles are off the board, leaving many quality options for the Giants at 25. However, Addison, Flowers, and Banks are all off the board. Of course, this is not a mock draft, but Jeremiah’s rankings.
Tennessee wide receiver Jalin Hyatt dropped four spots in Jeremiah’s rankings to 40th. Quarterback Hendon Hooker jumped from 49th to 44th, as the buzz consistently surrounds the former Volunteer signal caller.
Players that interest me in varying degrees at pick 25 - if the players listed before 25 are unavailable - are Alabama’s defensive back Brian Branch (ranking, 31), TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston (30), Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz (48), and Wisconsin center Joe Tippmann (33). I’m not in love with selecting a center at 25, but I value both of these players' skill sets.
Jeremiah dropped the North Dakota State offensive tackle Cody Mauch down three spots to 38. He’ll likely play inside at the next level and could be a target for the Giants on Day 2. TCU’s Steve Avila (45th) could also be targeted by the Giants in the second round, and Florida IOL O’Cyrus Torrence (36th) has generated some Round 1 buzz.
The player I am very interested in for the Giants is ranked 34th on Jeremiah’s list, and that is Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes; I get it, he’s light at 166 pounds, but that didn’t stop Joe Schoen with Cor’Dale Flott. Is it precarious to invest in another light cornerback? Yes, but the upside could outweigh the downside - which would be the only thing Forbes outweighs these days, am I right? I also like unranked players like South Carolina’s Cam Smith, who the Giants hosted for a top-30 visit.
The biggest faller on the list is Georgia cornerback, Kelee Ringo, who was ranked 40th last month, but now finds himself at 46th. The rise of players like Forbes and Banks could be one reason for this decline in Jeremiah’s rankings. Still, it also could be Ringo’s questionable lateral movement skills and his 33½-inch vertical jump at the combine. Ringo is an elite linear athlete, but that doesn’t translate as well on the horizontal plane.
The biggest ascender on the list - who was previously listed in Jeremiah’s third rankings release - was LSU edge defender B.J. Ojulari, who was Jeremiah’s 42nd-ranked player, and is now at 35. Ojulari jumped five spots from 2.0 to 3.0, so he’s obviously a player that is growing on the NFL talent evaluator.
Linebackers Trenton Simpson (43) is ranked six spots higher than Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell (49). Jeremiah notes Simpson’s raw instinctual nature, but his twitch and coverage ability is something that Jeremiah notes. I did find it interesting that Arkansas linebacker Drew Sanders is not on the list after ranking 44th in Jeremiah’s second edition of his rankings.
I want to draw attention to one more position group - the edge rushers. The Giants spent two top 50 picks in the last two drafts on the position. Kayvon Thibodeaux was selected fifth last year, and Ojulari was the fiftieth pick in 2021. Despite the allocation of assets - and my comfort with both players when healthy - I believe the Giants could add more talent to this position group that has little depth.
Behind the two starters are Jihad Ward, Tomon Fox, and Elerson Smith. Maybe Darrian Beavers - who played edge at UCONN - could assume a role there in certain packages, but there’s a dearth of talent behind the two starters. Ward gave the Giants valuable early down depth last season, Fox is a physical, hustle, player who is replaceable, and Smith can’t stay healthy.
I’m not advocating for the Giants to spend picks 25 or 57 on an edge defender, but I will say it would be my dark horse pick; a bold prediction if you will. The three players that come to my mind are Nolan Smith (18), Will McDonald IV (26), and Ojulari (35). I don’t believe Smith will be available, but his ability against the run draws my attention more than the other two.
Azeez Ojulari hasn’t been a consistent run defender in the NFL, albeit he spent most of the season injured last year, which is the impetus to my concern about edge depth. McDonald IV and BJ Ojulari aren’t consistent against the run, either, but they would provide critical juice to the Giants' pass rush through excellent burst and bend. Admittedly, I need to still watch Felix Anudike-Uzomah, the Kansas State edgeranked 32nd on Jeremiah’s board.
Since the Giants run a positionless defense, I’m going to list defensive linemen who could also be dark horse selections. Again, I don’t envision that, but I wouldn't be shocked; Edge/IDL Keion White (28), Clemson IDL Brian Bresee (37), Mazi Smith (41), and Keeanu Benton (47). Pitt IDL Calijah Kancey (27th) is a different type of IDL than the players listed above, but one that would wreak havoc on opposing offenses, due to his upfield burst and penetration skills.
Jeremiah mainly shuffled around the same players from the last edition of his rankings. The only player who wasn’t ranked in his third set of rankings, who is now ranked 47th in Wisconsin IDL Keeanu Benton, who was one of the biggest risers at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. Benton replaced USC edge Tuli Tuipulotu, who was previously at 46.
There are five wide receivers in his rankings, with Addison (13th) at the top of the list and Hyatt (40th) at the bottom. Five tight ends cracked the top 50: Dalton Kincaid (9), Michael Mayer (21st) Darnell Washington (25), Luke Musgrave (39), and Iowa’s Sam LaPorta (42nd). It’s a strong tight-end class that is shining among a rather weaker overall class at the top - Jeremiah’s rankings reflect that sentiment.
The Giants have one pick in the top 50, at 25. Their second selection is at pick 57, with their third being at 89.Schoen understands the value of having more kicks at the can. The draft is an inexact science; he started last year’s second round with pick 36, before trading down to pick 38 to acquire a fifth-round selection that turned into Indiana LB Micah McFadden.
Schoen then moved from 38 to 43, which is where he eventually selected wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson and to pick up a fourth-round pick that turned into Iowa safety Dane Belton. Don’t be shocked if Schoen decides to trade down in the first round, depending on how the board shakes out.