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Mel Kiper Mock Draft 1.0: LSU WR Malik Nabers to the Giants at No. 6

Another mock draft gets the Giants their WR1

Texas A&M v LSU Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Mel Kiper’s first mock draft of the 2024 NFL Draft cycle is here. He makes a predictable selection for the New York Giants with the sixth overall pick.

6. New York Giants - Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

The Giants got just six games out of quarterback Daniel Jones on the way to a lost season that showed some cracks in the foundation. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale resigned after the season, and the offense under coordinator Mike Kafka struggled with Tyrod Taylor and Tommy DeVito under center.

New York’s quarterbacks were sacked a whopping 85 times, the most in the league, and the offense ranked 30th in yards per play (4.5). The Giants used top-10 picks on offensive linemen in 2020 (Andrew Thomas) and 2022 (Evan Neal), but I absolutely could see them doing it again, as tackles Joe Alt (Notre Dame) and Olu Fashanu (Penn State) are still available in this scenario. Still, I keep coming back to getting Jones more help, as he has never played with a true No. 1 wide receiver. Nabers could be that. He’s coming off an 89-catch, 1,569-yard season catching passes from Jayden Daniels, and he has a rare combination of speed and route-running ability. He led the FBS with 17 catches of 30-plus yards. The Giants had just 15 total 30-plus yard receptions all of last season, five of which were from rookie third-rounder Jalin Hyatt.

Raptor’s Thoughts

In a vacuum, I think Nabers would be an excellent and much-needed addition to the Giants’ offense. He’s a great route runner and athlete who can use all aspects of the route as a weapon, separate at will, and generate huge plays. Joe Schoen has mentioned that the top trait he’s looking for at receiver is Football IQ and the ability to get open, and Nabers certainly has that. And not only is he a weapon in and of himself, but he’d also allow the rest of the receivers to play their natural roles in the offense.

The tackle question is going to be a wild-card going forward, and I could see a whole range of outcomes. The Giants could give Evan Neal one last shot at right tackle, betting on the fact that he’s spent half his career injured and under the direction of an offensive line coach who was fired for failing to develop young players. They could try him at guard — though his height potentially causing problems with leverage and sightlines over the middle of the field. I could even see the Giants moving on from him completely and move him to recoup assets or a part of a trade package.

Both wide receiver and offensive tackle are cornerstone positions and need need to be figured out if the Giants are going to start taking steps forward.

But I’m going to put my flag in the ground and say that the Giants need to come away from this draft with a Quarterback Of The Future.

Kiper mentions that the offense struggled with DeVito and Tyrod under center, but that isn’t really true. It certainly struggled with Jones and DeVito, but was much better with Taylor at quarterback.

The Giants nearly beat the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams, and nearly swept the Eagles. Tyrod was 19th in overall efficiency among all quarterbacks with at least 200 plays, fifth in Air Yards, fifth in completion percentage above expected, and 9th in overall completion percentage. While the Giants as a whole were ranked 30th in yards per completion, Tyrod ranked second, just below Brock Purdy and the San Francisco 49ers.

All while posting a sack rate six points lower than Daniel Jones and almost half that of Tommy DeVito.

And Taylor is unlikely to be on the roster in 2024.

Getting “The Guy” might mean the Giants biting the bullet and executing a trade up if at all possible. It would be expensive and unlikely given the Top 3 picks, but it might well be worth it. It could mean the Giants pulling a “Cincinnati”, drafting a receiver and hoping a quarterback drops into their lap in the second round (a la A.J. Green and Andy Dalton in 2011).

Or perhaps they get “cute” and try to trade back, acquire more picks for Day 2 and 3, and Pick one of the “Tier 2” quarterbacks at a more palatable value.

The flip side of that being an aggressive trade back into the first round for a quarterback who slips. In either case they could target someone like J.J. McCarthy or Bo Nix.

(As an aside, keep an eye on Nix at the Senior Bowl. There’s already rumblings that he could work himself into the Top 10).

That certainly worked out for the Baltimore Ravens, but there’s no guarantee that the rest of the NFL will let a potential Franchise QB slide. Kiper has McCarthy going to the Seattle Seahawks at 16th overall.

Any which way it works out, the Giants are in a position that’s part nightmare scenario (in that they probably don’t have access to the likely “Franchise” choices) while also having an opportunity to re-set their cap and get back to a rookie QB contract, and avoid “Quarterback Hell”.

Elsewhere in the NFC East

2. Washington Commanders - Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU
22. Philadelphia Eagles - Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State
24. Dallas Cowboys - Jordan Morgan, OT, Arizona