We are just a month away from the 2021 NFL Draft, and while we’ve been diving deep into everything surrounding the draft this year.
We’ve been releasing daily scouting reports, keeping track of the various pro days around the country, tracking mock drafts from around the national media, and on the podcast we have been looking not only at the state of the Giants’ roster, but also how their free agent moves could impact their draft strategy.
But while Ed has been releasing weekly mock drafts Nick, Joe, and I have largely abstained.
At least until now. We decided that with just a few weeks to go until the actual draft itself, we would put out a trio of mocks, explain our reasoning, and then analyze each other’s picks.
We decided that we wouldn’t put a limit on the mock draft machine used, but we would turn off trades. There will, of course, be trades in the actual draft, but we didn’t want to start trying to weigh the value of compensation into our mocks.
Nick Falato’s mock draft
(Mock draft machine used: The Draft Network)
Round 1 (No. 11 overall) - Rashawn Slater (OL, Northwestern)
Round 2 (No. 42) - Gregory Rousseau (EDGE, Miami)
Round 3 (No. 76) - Aaron Banks (OG, Notre Dame)
Round 4 (No. 117) - Jordan Smith (EDGE, UAB)
Round 6 (No. 197) - Ihmir Smith-Marsette (WR, Iowa)
Round 6 (No. 202) - Alaric Jackson (OT, Iowa)
Pick 11: Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern
The offensive line is a priority in this upcoming draft and Slater is an ideal fit for the New York Giants - a versatile lineman that can realistically play all five positions. Slater’s 33-inch arms cause some concern for his ability to play tackle at the next level. Thirty-three inches isn’t ideal, but his ability to execute angles with superior foot quickness while using his hands to stun, control, and steer lead me to believe he can play on the outside. However, I also feel he would be an ideal guard, perfect for the counter trey backside pulling plays that the Giants love to run under Jason Garrett.
The Giants may have the answer at right tackle with Matt Peart and this addition doesn’t jeopardize Peart’s chances, but it does create valuable competition at, we’ll say, three positions: right tackle and both guard spots. I’m not overly comfortable with the current state of the Giants’ guards after Kevin Zeitler was released.
Will Hernandez is in his final contract year with the Giants and he’s been underwhelming while Shane Lemieux, a fifth-round pick last year, still has some glaring struggles in pass protection. The addition of Slater will all but secure one of those two holes, provided that Peart wins on the right side, which leaves Hernandez and Lemieux in a similar battle that they faced in 2020; between the two, they’d battle for one spot and the better player can be the starter, while the other becomes a swing interior offensive lineman.
Pick 42: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
Many mock drafts have Rousseau as a Giants’ selection in the first round, so landing him here in the second is obviously something to ponder. Rousseau is very toolsy and has one year of elite college production in 2019 before he opted out of the 2020 season. He’s got all the measurables in the world at 6-foot-7, 266 pounds, 11-inch hands, 83-inch wingspan - just a freaky type of length. A lot of his production came on passing downs, lined up inside, against ACC guards. His length and solid athletic ability make him a versatile piece for Patrick Graham’s defensive front. He’s still raw, but he’s a player with a lot of upside and I’m fine adding him to the Giants at this point in the draft.
Pick 76: Aaron Banks, OG, Notre Dame
Banks is 6-5, 338 pounds, and he can step right into a guard spot and compete on day one. He’s gigantic, moves bodies off the line of scrimmage, does a good job on deuce/ace double team blocks, and his posterior strength is significant while going forward, and while absorbing contact with his anchoring ability. It doesn’t always look pretty with Banks, but it’s effective. He has enough functional athletic ability to bucket step and kick out as a backside guard, but he would be dangerous as the play-side guard down blocking or scooping. This is good value and I couldn’t pass him up here.
Pick 117: UAB’s Jordan Smith, EDGE
A former Florida Gator who transferred after being suspended for off-the-field conduct, so that has to be analyzed, but the Giants would be receiving another toolsy type of EDGE rusher - only Smith is much better and more fluid in space. Through 21 games in 2019 and 2020, Smith had 89 tackles, 23.5 for a loss, 12.5 sacks and an interception to go along with 102 pressures. The 6-6, 255-pound, defender has the athletic ability (hips and feet) to cover short zones in the flat and middle hook/curl. He’s more fluid than Rousseau is in space and I don’t find the pick to be overly redundant - especially with the current state of the Giants’ EDGE group. I loved what Smith showed at the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl and I do believe there’s a lot of untapped potential with this player.
Pick 197: Iowa’s Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR
If there’s a wide receiver that no one is talking about who possesses a ton of translatable athletic traits like incredible explosiveness, it’s Smith-Marsette. He is 6-1, 195 pounds and he played in a conservative, run-centric, offense that didn’t necessarily always showcase his talents, but Smith-Marsette has game-breaking ability and he showed it against Wisconsin in 2020 before spraining his ankle on a front flip after a touchdown.
Smith-Marsette saw 203 college targets, catching 110 of them, for 1,587 yards and 14 touchdowns. It’s safe to say he was somewhat underutilized, albeit he received the ball on jet sweeps and quick-designed rushing plays, but his vertical explosive ability would have better suited a more vertically based attack - which isn’t exactly Iowa’s game. This is an excellent athlete who could be a steal on Day 3 for a team looking for an explosive playmaker.
Pick 201: Iowa’s Alaric Jackson, OT
Jackson was the starting left tackle over Tristin Wirfs at Iowa. He has just under 34-inch arms, he’s 6-5, and he weighs 321 pounds. Jackson has struggled with injuries through his career a bit, but he would be a great developmental tackle here for the Giants. Jackson was a four-year starter at one of the premier offensive line schools; he’s a bit inconsistent, to be honest, but he shows range in his sets and a good ability as a run blocker, especially with lateral blocks. The double down on Iowa players at the end of the draft is based on both of the player’s values and I feel these would be excellent additions to the Giants at this juncture of the draft.
Joe DeLeone’s mock draft
(Mock draft machine used: The Draft Network )
Round 1 (No. 11) - Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State)
Round 2 (No. 42) - Wyatt Davis (G, Ohio State)
Round 3 (No. 76) - Quincy Roche (EDGE, Miami)
Round 4 (No. 117) - Jaylen Twyman (DT, Pittsburgh)
Round 6 (No. 197) - Cornell Powell (WR, Clemson)
Round 6 (No. 202) - Ihmir Smith-Marsette (WR, Iowa)
After completing this mock draft I was shocked by how well I was able to address the Giants' current needs heading into a year they need to step up. The first pick that had me the most excited was the selection of Micah Parsons in the first round. Parsons’ draft stock has a ton of volatility, ranging from top five to top 15. Realistically, Parsons might not make it to the Giants pick at 11, but if he does it that he would be a perfect fit. The Giants' defense took a massive step forward last season, and adding Adoree’ Jackson solidifies their secondary. Parsons fills the remaining needs of a second playmaking linebacker and a pass rusher. A versatile player like Parsons would thrive under Patrick Graham.
Heading into the second round, I was hunting for an interior lineman to replace Kevin Zeitler. Drafting Wyatt Davis at No. 42 has really good value and would provide the Giants with a player who can start right away. Rolling into the third round, Quincy Roche addresses the need for a pass rush boost. Roche isn’t necessarily the most explosive rusher in the class, but for a third-round pick he can contribute to the Giants' rotation.
The fourth round provided me with an opportunity to replace Dalvin Tomlinson with a very different style of defensive tackle. On a team that loves to rotate defensive tackle, Jaylen Twyman can provide a boost on pass-rushing downs and be an eventual replacement for B.J. Hill. My remaining picks addressed depth at receiver. Cornell Powell and Ihmir Smith-Marsette likely wouldn't see many targets, but they can create an explosive rotation.
Anyone who’s used a mock draft simulator knows they tend to be a bit unrealistic. While I was very excited with the value of various players at positions of need, the chances all of them are available where they were is unlikely. Regardless, I’d be juiced up if the Giants had a haul like this, with all major positions of need being filled by immediate starters or strong rotational pieces.
Chris Pflum’s mock draft
(Mock draft machine used: The Draft Network)
Round 1 (No. 11) - Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina)
Round 2 (No. 42) - Zaven Collins (LB, Tulsa)
Round 3 (No. 76) - Josh Myers (iOL, Ohio State)
Round 4 (No. 117) - Marvin Wilson (iDL, Florida State)
Round 6 (No. 197) - Elerson Smith (EDGE, Northern Iowa)
Round 6 (No. 202) - Austin Watkins Jr. (WR, UAB)
I’m going to lead this off with a confession: This was actually my second attempt at a mock draft. I won’t get into why I reset the page and started over, but suffice to say that my first mock was basic as hell and too much like what we’ve seen from too many other mock drafters. I wanted something a bit spicier, and I think this worked out to be something like an “All Sleepers” mock.
In the first round I had my choice of Jaylen Waddle, DaVonta Smith, Christian Darrisaw, and Patrick Surtain II. I ultimately went with Horn for a couple reasons. The first is that I think Horn is being overlooked by the draft community at large. He has great size, 4.3 speed, and is one of the most physical cornerbacks I’ve seen in some time. That speed and physicality and his play demeanor would give the Giants’ defense a dimension it hasn’t had in a long time. I had the option of addressing the interior offensive line and EDGE positions in the second round with Landon Dickerson and Wyatt Davis, as well as Joe Tryon and Gregory Rousseau. I opted for Collins because I believe his rare blend of EDGE size, off-ball athleticism, and smarts makes him an incredibly intriguing option in Patrick Graham’s defense. I was also confident that I could find a starting-caliber interior offensive lineman by the end of the third day. This year’s class is pretty rich in interior linemen — or tackles who project better on the inside.
The third round turned out to be a toughie for me, and the board gave me three options I almost couldn’t pick between with Josh Myers, Richie Grant, and Notre Dame H-back Tommy Tremble. Grant is the best player of the bunch and he is another really intriguing option for the Giants’ defense, and I just love watching Tremble play football. He (Tremble) could be another George Kittle between his athleticism, untapped receiving upside, and blocking prowess. Ultimately I went with Myers, Ohio State’s center, to reinforce the Giants’ offensive interior. Myers is big and strong, with enough athleticism to man the center or guard positions.
The board wanted me to go EDGE in the fourth round, presenting me with both Joe Tryon and Victor Dimukeje (Duke), but I couldn’t not go defensive tackle for the Giants with Marvin Wilson sitting there. He has first round traits and the Giants simply love drafting defensive tackles, particularly with B.J. Hill in the last year of his rookie deal.
In the sixth round I went back to the Senior Bowl and drafted two of the more impressive under-the-radar prospects from that week in Elerson Smith and Austin Watkins Jr. Smith had a great week of practice and could certainly out-play this draft slot. Watkins impressed me with his fluidity for a big receiver and was able to win at all levels of the field. At the very least, he should provide good depth early in his career and could grow into a consistent contributor with some development.
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