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There’s a chance – maybe even a good chance – that five quarterbacks will be selected in the Top 10 picks of the 2021 NFL Draft, and that’s great news for the team picking at 11. The Giants obviously don’t need a quarterback.
And that means several Top 10-caliber players are likely to fall right into their lap.
They could even be in for a real surprise, depending on how the first round shakes out on Thursday night. They could end up staring at a player when it’s their turn to pick that they never expected to see.
But whom? Based on weeks of conversations with scouts, team executives and other NFL sources, here’s a look at some of those non-quarterbacks to see who is most likely to slip out of the Top 10:
Alabama WR DeVonta Smith
He was the Heisman Trophy winner and the best receiver in college football last year, but there are continual concerns about his 166-pound frame. That’s not a deal-breaker, of course. He’s still a dangerous weapon. But it adds some uncertainty to his draft stock. Where he goes is totally dependent on whether there are teams that like him better than Waddle. The Miami Dolphins at 6, for example, could have to choose between them. Maybe the Detroit Lions at 7, too. It’s a matter of taste, and for what it’s worth I do get the sense more teams have Waddle ranked higher.
Chances he falls to 11: Maybe the best bet on the board, but still about 70-30.
Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle
There may not be a more exciting prospect than this 5-9, 180-pounder who draws continual comparisons to Tyreek Hill. Everyone uses the same word: “Explosive.” He’s fast, he’s elusive, he’s got all the necessary tools. The Dolphins at 6 seem to like him too, unless they land LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase instead. And that’s the key, because if the Bengals take Oregon tackle Penei Sewell at 5 and the Dolphins take Chase (or possibly Smith), there isn’t a perfect landing spot for Waddle in the next few picks. Keep an eye on the Philadelphia Eagles at 12, though. A lot of people think they love him and want to jump ahead of the Giants to make sure they get him first.
Chances he falls to 11: At least 50-50, maybe more.
Northwestern OT Rashawn Slater
He’s at least the second best tackle in a draft that doesn’t have a lot of great ones. There’s also a chance that someone will prefer him over Sewell. It won’t be the Cincinnati Bengals at 5 or the Dolphins at 6. The Lions could be in play for him at 7, especially if Sewell is gone, and the Carolina Panthers may grab him at 8 if they don’t take a quarterback.
Chances he falls to 11: There’s a slightly better shot than there is with Sewell, but it still might only be 40 percent.
Alabama CB Patrick Surtain
Throughout this entire process he was considered the No. 1 cornerback and a lock to go to the Dallas Cowboys at 10. Over the last few weeks, though, South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn has been mentioned often as a Top 10 pick. If Horn does go in the Top 10, Surtain will probably slip out. He’ll also fall if the Cowboys prefer Horn or go in another direction entirely, like offensive tackle (or perhaps make a huge trade up for their real love, Kyle Pitts).
Chances he falls to 11: He likely won’t go much higher than that anyway, so it could be a coin flip, determined by Dallas’ choice between him and Horn.
Oregon OT Penei Sewell
For a long time he was considered the best tackle in the draft, though Slater moved into that conversation over the last month or so. Sewell’s still an anchor left tackle, though, and there are plenty of teams at the top that could use him, starting with the Bengals at No. 5. They are apparently deciding between Sewell and Chase, though, and if they pass on Sewell things get interesting. The Lions could take him at 7 or maybe the Panthers at 8, but both of those teams could also take a quarterback or trade down. And if one of them decides they like Slater better, Sewell might just slide.
Chances he falls to 11: Not likely, but certainly possible. It could be closer than anyone expects.
LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase
He is the No. 1 receiver according to every NFL source I’ve spoken with during this process, if for no other reason than he’s 6-foot, 201, and the Alabama receivers are comparatively tiny. He might be the Bengals' pick at 5. If he’s not, it’s hard to see the Dolphins passing on him at 6. And if both of them do, for some reason, the Lions are going to get a big offer from someone to trade down.
Chances he falls to 11: Forget it. Even if Smith and Waddle somehow go ahead of him, someone will jump up for him.
Florida TE Kyle Pitts
There are teams that are believed have him No. 1 overall on their draft board and he seems to be the most-coveted non-quarterback in the draft. “The Giants love him too,” said one NFC executive. “But who doesn’t? It’s the biggest game-changing weapon out there.” There is virtually no chance he falls out of the Top 10, though. The Atlanta Falcons may take him at 4. If they don’t, the Bengals (5) and Dolphins (6) may grab him. They all could end up getting a ton of offers from teams looking to move up, too. The Giants might look into it, too, but it’s way too expensive for them to move from 11 to the 4-6 range.
Chances he falls to 11: Non-existent.