Giants 2021 NFL Draft Prediction: Who they'll take at No. 11

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Ralph Vacchiano
·6 min read
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Dave Gettleman treated image sunglasses, mouth open, red background
Dave Gettleman treated image sunglasses, mouth open, red background

None of the Top 10 players on the Giants’ wish list for the NFL Draft are quarterbacks since they’re committed to Daniel Jones. But they sure do want to see a rush on quarterbacks from everybody else.

“The more quarterbacks that go, the more players it pushes to us,” Giants GM Dave Gettleman said. “Frankly, I’d like to see 10 quarterbacks go in front of us.”

That won’t happen, but there will be four and there could be five quarterbacks taken in the first 10 picks. That’s part of why it’s so hard to figure exactly what the Giants will do at 11. Their needs are obvious. The players they like seem pretty clear. But with so many highly rated options for the teams ahead of the Giants to choose from, it’s hard to figure out exactly which of those players will still be there.

My best guess, after conversations with dozens of NFL sources, is that the Giants will likely be choosing between the two Alabama receivers, one of the top two tackles, one of the top two cornerbacks, and their choice of their favorite edge rusher in the draft. And if they decide to stay put at 11, I think the choice will turn out to be easy.

With the 11th overall pick in the NFL Draft, the New York Giants will select …

Alabama receiver Jaylen Waddle.

I think, in the end, the Giants are going to take whichever Alabama receiver is still there – and yes, it could just as easily be DeVonta Smith. I’ve only changed my mind on which one is most likely to last to 11 about 100 times. There are a lot of factors at work, including what the Bengals do at 5, which receiver the Dolphins take at 6, and whether anyone tries to jump into the Top 10 to get ahead of the Giants for Waddle.

Here’s what the Giants would really love to see happen: Florida tight end Kyle Pitts or Oregon tackle Penei Sewell falling to 11, or perhaps to 7 or 8 where they might have a chance to trade up for them (both the Lions at 7 and Panthers at 8 are candidates to trade down). Forget Pitts, who might just be Gettleman’s favorite player in the draft, from what I’m told. If the Falcons don’t take him at 4, he won’t get past Miami at 6.

Sewell could fall if the Bengals pass on him at 5. If that happens, the next two teams looking for linemen are the Lions and Panthers, and both of them could choose Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater instead. I don’t think the Giants, with only six total picks, will actually trade up. But if Sewell starts to fall, they will likely make a few last-minute calls for a price check.

Jaylen Waddle Treated
Jaylen Waddle Treated

Assuming Pitts, Sewell and LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase are all gone, though, my understanding is Smith and Waddle are next on the Giants’ list. They’ll also give some consideration to Slater, and whichever cornerback gets past Dallas – Alabama’s Patrick Surtain or South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn. But multiple sources have told me the Giants are determined to add another weapon to their offense in a season that’s going to be all about finding out what they really have in quarterback Jones.

What about an edge rusher, you ask? They do like Michigan’s Kwity Paye and Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari, from what I’m told, and they’ve been in the discussion at 11. Ojulari has a knee issue that concerns some teams. The Giants are very high on Paye and I wouldn’t be shocked if he ends up as their pick. But in the end, I believe the Giants won’t have either of them ranked high enough to take at 11. They’ll also know that in a class of edge rushers that isn’t well-regarded, they probably could still find a decent one in a later round.

One other note on a defensive player: I hear they really like Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons -- as a player. But he has some well-documented off-field red flags and concerns about his maturity. I don’t know how strongly the Giants will consider him, but I’m skeptical, given what happened with cornerback DeAndre Baker, whom they took in the first round two years ago. They either ignored or missed the red flags, took Baker anyway, then watched him get involved in a bad situation that led to his arrest for armed robbery (though charges were later dropped). Parsons’ issues may be different, but I just don’t think the Giants will take another character risk. Gettleman certainly couldn’t survive having another first-round pick miss because he missed the warning signals.

Given how much of a mess the Giants’ offense was last season, I do believe they prefer an offensive player anyway, which leads right back to those Bama receivers unless Pitts, Chase or Sewell are somehow there. Like everyone, I’ve heard Gettleman really likes Smith, the Heisman Trophy winner, and isn’t overly concerned about his 166-pound frame. I’ve also heard some of the coaches prefer Waddle, the 5-9, 180-pound dynamo who draws comparisons to Tyreek Hill.

If they’re both somehow there … I don’t know. It’s a coin flip. If it’s only one, the choice will be easy. I suspect they’d take Smith if they’re both on the board. But I really don’t think they’ll be looking at both. It will be one or none. The key picks to watch are 6 and 8. At 6, the Dolphins will likely choose between Waddle and Smith. And at 8, the Panthers are a strong candidate to trade down, with the Eagles at 12 and the Cardinals at 16 lurking as candidates to trade up for Waddle.

If they’re both gone … it depends on who’s left, really. That might mean someone really unexpected got out of the Top 10. If not, I think in that case the most likely scenario is the Giants will try to trade down. They could also stay put and take the edge rusher, which I suspect would most likely be Paye.

But those are all secondary scenarios. The main one, from what I’ve heard, is they’ll pray for Pitts, hope for Sewell, and then take either Smith or Waddle. And my best guess is Waddle is the most likely one to still be on the board.