Now we’re getting serious when it comes to New York Giants mock drafts. For the first time since I started this year’s weekly mock drafts I am going to go the full seven rounds, making all 10 picks for the Giants.
There will be no trades in this version of the mock draft, which will use the NFL Mock Draft Database simulator. I like this simulator because it uses a consensus big board compiling nearly 2,000 mock drafts and more than 100 big boards. So, it should be somewhat realistic in terms of where it ranks players.
I also like the fact that it suggests picks. I often ignore those suggestions, but it will be helpful in the later rounds as I am willing to admit that my knowledge of the players in the last couple of rounds is still a work in progress.
Anyway, let’s get started.
Round 1 (No. 25) — Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
I’m really not thrilled with how the first 24 picks turned out. The top four wide receivers — Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Zay Flowers, Jordan Addison, Quentin Johnston — are off the board. The top four cornerbacks — Christian Gonzalez, Devon Witherspoon, Joey Porter Jr., Deonte Banks — are also off the board.
Thing is, if the Giants sit at No. 25 it is very possible that this is exactly how things will play out on April 27. So, what do do?
It would be easy to make the obvious need pick here and select a center. The chalk, obvious choice here no one would complain about is center John Michael Schmitz of Minnesota. Mock drafters would approve. And that would be fine. I could easily do that, and I can live with it if that is what the Giants do. Schmitz is likely to be a good player for a long time. Nothing wrong with that.
I think, though, that I agree with Nick Falato. If I’m going to take a big swing at center, it might be for Joe Tippmann. Between the two, there isn’t really a wrong answer. It depends on what you want, really what the Giants want.
Here, though, I take a different kind of swing. I could easily see the Giants drafting Cam Smith as they have shown interest in the South Carolina cornerback. I am a big fan of Alabama safety Brian Branch. I have made that pick here in other mock drafts, and could see it. I get the allure of Jalin Hyatt’s speed.
The Giants, though, have a need for man-to-man capable cornerbacks who can be trusted to hold up in Wink Martindale’s pressure heavy defensive scheme. The other thing they need? Play-makers who can turn the ball over and make game-changing plays.
Even at 166 pounds, Forbes is one of the best man-coverage cornerbacks in the class, and there is no one in the class who is a better ballhawk. He had 14 interceptions, returning six for touchdowns in three seasons at Mississippi State, along with 20 passes defensed.
33rd Team has Forbes ranked as the No. 2 cornerback in the class.
Emmanuel Forbes is a confident, playmaking corner with good physical traits, rare ball skills and strong production. He is a player who will not back down from anyone regardless of their stature, and he should be a first-year starter in the NFL.
Pro Football Focus says:
Forbes is one of the best ballhawks in this class. Over the course of his three-year career, he came down with 13 interceptions. That’s four more than the next closest Power Five cornerback since 2020. Forbes was unbelievably dominant in man coverage in 2022, giving up only three catches while also snagging three interceptions. He also only allowed a 20% completion rate in man, the lowest among FBS cornerbacks.
Players passed on: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina; Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas; Brian Branch, S, Alabama; Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah; John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota; Joe Tippmann, C, Wisconsin; Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee; O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida
Round 2 (No. 57) — Joe Tippmann, C, Wisconsin
I did not just jump to select Tippmann as soon as I saw that he was still available. I thought seriously about Cody Mauch, Drew Sanders and even Washington State linebacker Daiyan Henley. I thought about waiting until later and selecting from among centers Luke Wypler, Olusegun Oluwatimi, Juice Scruggs and Ricky Stromberg down the line, but decided to make my move for a center right here.
I think I have made it clear that I am a fan of Tippmann’s movement skills and upside. I like Schmitz, Wypler, Oluwatimi and Stromberg, too. I think all of them are starting centers.
Projections for Tippmann vary a bit more than for Schmitz, seen by virtually everyone as a solid if not spectacular long-term starting center.
33rd Team ranks Tippmann as the No. 1 center in the draft class. They write:
Tippmann is unusually tall for the center position. He has good strength, toughness, intelligence and movement skills. He has some lower-body tightness, but does a good job of getting out in space and tracking people down as a puller. He has good strength to control people on the line of scrimmage and has good footwork to reach and turn out in the hole.
Tippmann needs to clean up his technique, as his hands get too wide at times. He does, however, play with a stout, wide base. He is a good-enough athlete to bend, and can protect the quarterback in the passing game. He makes smart plays as an instinctive player — he naturally picks up stunts. The tools he possesses will allow him to play in the NFL for a long time.
Sports Info Solutions says Tippmann “projects as a low-end starting center” and that “Tippmann has all the tools to be a starting center in the NFL, but inconsistencies with his body control and footwork could keep him from reaching his true ceiling.”
Pro Football Network’s Ian Cummings grades Tippmann as the No. 1 center prospect in the class. He writes:
“He’s a fringe first-round player who should field consideration late in Round 1. If he’s still available on Day 2, he’s a priority prospect at a position with scarcity ... Few centers have the physical foundation that Tippmann has. Though his size could cause issues with leverage, his combination of size, athleticism, functional strength, and power capacity is rare. Tippmann is explosive off the snap, rangy as a pulling blocker, and delivers great force and physicality at the point of attack. When he’s latched, it can be very hard for defenders to break free ... Tippmann has the tools to be the first center off the board in the 2023 NFL Draft. He has the versatility to play either center or guard at the next level, but his football IQ, in particular, is what compounds his appeal as a potential impact starting center. Trending up, at his ultimate ceiling, Tippmann could be one of the best centers in the NFL.”
Players passed on: Cody Mauch, OL, North Dakota State; Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas; Adetomiwa Adebawore, edge, Northwestern; D.J. Turner, CB, Michigan; Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee; Daiyan Henley, LB, Washington State
Round 3 (No. 89) — Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee
The way the board fell, this turned out to be an excellent spot to take a wide receiver. I like Tyler Scott, Tank Dell and Marvin Mims, and can probably make an argument for taking any of those three wide receivers in this spot. I have, after all, said that what we have seen thus far from the Joe Schoen-Brian Daboll Giants indicates separation ability, not size, is the thing they care about most.
Here, though, I just can’t pass on the 6-foot-3, 213-pound Tillman even though his game is based on physicality and not separation. I am surprised to see him still available at 89, and I am not sure that will happen in the real draft. It does here, though, and I decided to take advantage.
As it happens, Chris Pflum’s Tillman prospect profile posted on Saturday.
Writing for 33rd Team, Greg Cosell said:
Tillman has the look and feel of an NFL receiver because of his size/stride length/physicality/competitiveness profile, and his 2021 video showed a receiver who played big and fast and powerful. Tillman lined up almost exclusively outside the numbers, and he showed the traits to be a boundary X at the next level due to his high-level physicality, competitiveness, excellent body control, strong hands and outstanding hand-eye coordination to make tough contested catches and to catch through contact.
While Tillman was injured most of 2022 and therefore could not play to the same level, there is no question he has the physical and competitive traits to be a quality NFL receiver. My sense is he could emerge as a true No. 1 with the traits to win vs. man coverage as a boundary X.
Players passed on: Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane; Tyler Scott, WR, Cincinnati; Tank Dell, WR, Houston; Marvin Mims, WR, Oklahoma; Darius Rush, CB, South Carolina
Round 4 (No. 128) — Byron Young, edge, Tennessee
If I was taking a paint by numbers approach to filling needs, I would have gone in another direction. Running back, linebacker, safety and even interior defensive line are all spots where I perhaps could have done that.
Instead, I chose to add an edge defender with pass-rushing upside to join Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari. Is there really ever anything wrong with adding pass rush?
33rd Team ranks Young as the No. 35 overall prospect in the draft. They write:
Byron Young is a top-level explosive athlete that has rare speed. Raw rusher who needs pro coaching and development, but he is someone who has tons of upside.
Sports Info Solutions ranks Young No. 44 overall. They write:
Young is an incredible athlete whose get-off explosion, range, and relentless motor will make him an extremely effective pass rusher at the next level and eventual three-down player if he can get stronger and finish more often.
Hard to turn that down at pick No. 128.
Players passed on: Roschon Johnson, RB, Texas; Ji’Ayir Brown, S, Penn State; Luke Schoonmaker, TE, Michigan
Round 5 (No. 160) — Luke Schoonmaker, TE, Michigan
If this were the real draft, I would have been leaping over tables in an effort to turn in this card as quickly as possible. Yes, the Giants have Darren Waller and Daniel Bellinger. I trust the evaluation skills of Matt Waldman of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio, though. Waldman has Schoonmaker ranked as the No. 2 tight end in the class behind Dalton Kincaid and calls him “the best all-around tight end in this class.”
At pick No. 160, I will take that every time. Here is Schoonmaker’s spider chart:
Here is more of Waldman’s evaluation:
Schoonmaker has underrated release skills from both a two-point and three-point stance. It’s often difficult for tight ends to deliver timely and effective moves against linebackers or safeties playing off them from a three-point stance, but Schoonmaker does it well with his footwork and hand-to-hand counters.
Whether it’s from a two-point or three-point stance, Schoonmaker’s moves have a patient-but-sudden quality.
In addition to his quickness, he has the acceleration and long speed to beat safeties up the seam by as much as 2-3 steps and maintain that separation over the span of 35-40 yards. In addition to his releases and speed, Schoonmaker has all the elements to become a top route runner in the league. He can use stems to set up breaks, he has good hip-flip for speed breaks, his steps after the break often generate flat breaks, and he can drop his weight into short stop routes. He must prove he can beat cornerbacks and safeties one-on-one to prove he can be an elite playmaker and he didn’t have those opportunities at Michigan.
Most of his routes are outlets, over routes, seams up the zone or against a safety or linebacker caught out of position, and play-action drag routes.
He is an excellent pass catcher and once again, if I saw more instances of tight coverage requiring extreme athletic ability, he might have earned a higher tier. I think he’s capable, but I need to see more proof than I did to give him the marks.
After the catch, Schoonmaker has quick transitions and uses his hips and footwork to undercut pursuit from over the top. He sets up spins off contact with a good stiff-arm, and he can at least lean through wraps if he doesn’t break them or push a pile.
As promising as he is as a route runner and receiver, Schoonmaker is known best for his blocking. As an in-line blocker, he has a quick get-off and earns sound position while delivering a good strike that he can use to sustain contact, if not control all three levels of defenders with a variety of blocks.
He’s a versatile blocker who can win with finesse, technique, and power. His greatest weakness in the run game is perimeter blocking but it’s an isolated issue that should be addressable.
Schoonmaker is the best all-around tight end in this class.
Players passed on: Mike Morris, DL, Michigan; Chandler Zavala, iOL, N.C. State; Charlie Jones, WR, Purdue; Ricky Stromberg, iOL, Arkansas
Round 5 (No. 172) — Eric Gray, RB, Oklahoma
I always intended to address the running back position in this draft. The value on the board just did not match up before now.
Gray is a 5-9½, 207-pound back with some return potential.
33rd Team says:
Eric Gray is a solid, three-down back prospect with adequate tools and instincts. He is a tough, decisive runner who lacks juice when he hits the second level. He should be a mid to late-round pick who makes the roster as a rotational backup.
Players passed on: Mike Morris, DL, Michigan; Charlie Jones, WR, Purdue
Round 6 (No. 209) — Jake Haener, QB, Fresno State
I happen to agree with the idea that the Giants should draft a quarterback on Day 3. Waldman has Haener at the top of his second tier of quarterbacks, and I feel fortunate that he’s available at this point.
The antithesis of the prototypical early-round prospect, Haener is woefully average as an athlete at the position. He has a competent college arm that is merely on the cusp of the baseline arm talent that NFL teams want from a starter. At the same time, Haener is a smart football player who sees the field well, throws with anticipation, and manages the game at a high level for a college player.
It sounds a lot like Brock Purdy, a prospect I had at the top of my second-tier of rookie passers last year—ahead of some much bigger names with better draft capital. I think Haener’s arm is a little better than Purdy’s at this point. Haener was also less reckless of a decision-maker while also a sound pocket manager.
It’s unlikely that Haener’s path will look remotely like Purdy’s, which means he could bounce around the league a bit before finding a team that gives him an opportunity to stick as a reserve. Even so, Haener has the makings of a journeyman contributor who might be just good enough to earn an extended audition as a starter down the line.
Players passed on: Clayton Tune, QB, Houston; Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, UCLA
Round 7 (No. 240) — Mohamoud Diabate, LB, Utah
I wasn’t able to address the linebacker spot earlier. I do so here, and Diabate is a player Chris Pflum likes. In his prospect profile, Chris wrote:
Utah linebacker Mohamoud Diabate has a good blend of size, athleticism, and instincts to play the position at the NFL level.
Diabate is a very versatile linebacking prospect who played inside and outside as an off-ball linebacker for the Utes, as well as lining up on the line of scrimmage as an edge defender on occasion. In fact, Diabate even played out of a 3-point stance as a down defensive end as well.
Round 7 (No. 243) — Andrei Iosivas, WR, Princeton
This is a player we know has been on the Giants’ radar for a while.
“I’ve known about him since early December,” Schoen told the New York Daily News. “[Odell’s agent, Zeke Sandhu] brought him up. And I thought he showed really well yesterday. He’s a big, good-looking kid. And he caught the ball well.”
Taking Iosivas here is a flier on athleticism and upside.
Selecting him also gives me a chance to recycle this podcast that includes an interview with Iosivas:
Round 7 (No. 254) — Jerrod Clark, DT, Coastal Carolina
When in doubt, draft a lineman. That is one of the ‘Big Blue View Rules for Draft Success,’ and I follow it here.
The Giants need to continue adding run-stuffing depth along the defensive front, and that is what I try to do here with this 6-4, 334-pound nose tackle.
33rd Team ranks him No. 120 on their big board and says he has “starter potential.” They write:
Clark is a big-bodied player who can be a gap 3-4 head-up nose tackle. He has solid movement skills for a guy his size. He is more a space-eater than a guy who is going to make an impact upfield. He gets pushed off the ball a little too often for a guy his size. He wants to slip blocks and that’s not his game, he is a better player when he engages and occupies the hole. Clark dips his head too much and needs to play with better vision. There is talent there but needs to play with more consistency and he will get multiple opportunities due to size.