NFL Draft 2021: Should Giants draft DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle?

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Scott Thompson
·4 min read
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DeVonta Smith/Jaylen Waddle
DeVonta Smith/Jaylen Waddle

With just two weeks left until the first round of the NFL Draft kicks off, recent mock drafts have multiple quarterbacks going in the Top 10. Because of that, some prospects could fall down to the Giants at No. 11.

Two of those prospects are Alabama's elite wide receivers, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. Both receivers have shown tremendous skill in all facets of their position and could easily be a Top 10 pick themselves. The frenzy around quarterbacks, though, might not make that happen.

GM Dave Gettleman has done a great job filling the need for a No. 1 receiver in free agency, signing Kenny Golladay to a four-year pact. But if Smith, Waddle or even both are available at 11, will he add more? And if both are available, which one is a better fit for Jason Garrett's offense?

Let's break it down:

DeVonta Smith, Alabama

Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 170 pounds
2020 stats: 117 receptions, 1,856 yards, 23 touchdowns, 15.9 yards per reception
Accolades: 2020 Heisman Trophy, 2020 AP Player of the Year, 2020 Fred Biletnikoff Award (Best WR), 2020 Consensus All-America

The Giants were "enamored" with Smith, according to FanSided's Matt Lombardo, and it's not hard to see why. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner had himself an insane season with the national championship-winning Crimson Tide.

He led the NCAA in receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and so much more. And despite a smaller frame compared to those defending him, Smith's precision in route running and releases off the line create so much separation.

He's also able to rotate between the slot and the outside because of his skillset, which teams love from offensive weapons.

Pros: Route-running. Body control. Versatility playing in slot and outside. Big game production.
Cons: Undersized. Trouble with 50/50 balls.

Jaylen Waddle, Alabama

Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 182 pounds
2020 stats: 28 receptions, 591 yards, four touchdowns, 21.1 yards per receptions, six games
Accolades: 2020 SEC leader in yards per reception, 2019 punt return yards leader, punt return touchdowns and yards per return

Waddle didn't work out at Alabama's Pro Day, and everyone likely wanted to see what he could do after coming back earlier than everyone expected for the National Championship game back in January following an ankle fracture and high-ankle sprain. However, medicals have checked out and he's on pace for a full recovery still.

Through six games this past season, though, Waddle was unreal with his run-after-the-catch abilities and rare speed. That speed wasn't tested at his Pro Day post-ankle rehab unfortunately, but a video had surfaced of him racing former Alabama teammate Henry Ruggs III, who ran a 4.27 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine last year. Waddle was step for step.

A certified deep threat, Waddle can play all over just like Smith.

Pros: Speed, speed, speed. After-catch magic. Very reliable hands
Cons: Needs route running polish. Ankle injury may affect play

Who fits better for Giants?

This is an extremely hard side to take because both receivers are the cream of the crop in a very deep wide receiver class.

But I'm going to have to go with Smith.

Again, it's hard not to see why the Giants reportedly love Smith when he did what he did in 2020 against some of he best defenses in college football in the SEC and the College Football Playoff. His releases are so clean, hands are very soft when the ball comes in and he's always going to have separation it seems.

Yes, there's a potential issue if press corners want to get physical and hurt his start off the line. But Smith knows how to play with his undersized frame and how to get open with speed, elusiveness and technical route running.

While Waddle's speed is very fascinating, I think Smith is a tad more versatile than him when looking at all areas of the game. A trio of Golladay and Smith on the outside with Sterling Shepard in the slot would be very hard to stop for opposing defenses. And Smith can move into the slot as well, with Garrett needing to get creative with all the weapons he has.

Either pick is a solid one, but go back and watch Smith total over 200 yards in a National Championship game with multiple touchdowns and tell me that isn't someone with very special talent ready to make an impact in the league.