There has been undeniable progress this season by the Giants, who are far more competitive than they’ve been in recent years even if it hasn’t been reflected in their record. Still, they are virtual locks to have yet another Top 10 pick, maybe even a Top 5 pick, even if they get a few wins in the second half.
That’s good, of course, for a team that’s still rebuilding. And it could be great for them if they pick really high in a quarterback-rich draft – since they don’t particularly need a new quarterback. They have other huge needs, though, including a couple that could really kick their rebuilding into high gear.
So assuming they end up in or around the Top 5, here’s a very early look at what is awaiting the Giants and the issues they need to consider in the 2021 NFL Draft...
Current draft position: With a 1-7 record, they are currently picking second, with a slim lead over Jacksonville (1-6) and Houston, which owns Miami’s pick (and the Dolphins are 1-6). There are seven 2-win teams in line after that, so it remains close. With a weak schedule, thanks to the terrible NFC East, the Giants will probably have a tie-breaker advantage (ties go to the team with the softest schedule by winning percentage). So that will help.
Giants needs: They are desperate for pass-rushing help and it would be a huge mistake if they don’t come out of the offseason with one. The strength of the Giants’ Super Bowl defenses was their pass rush, and they don’t have anyone that compares to Justin Tuck or Osi Umenyiora, let alone a Michael Strahan. Look at the impact that Chase Young and the Bosa brothers have had in recent years. That’s what the Giants need. They could also use a play-making receiver and more help along the offensive line, but if there’s a potentially great pass rusher in their grasp, they absolutely can not pass him up.
Deal or no deal?: If they’re picking high, a deal seems really smart. There could be a few teams willing to pay a ton for Ohio State’s Justin Fields (if the Giants end up No. 2) or even North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. They could really make a killing if they end up No. 1 and can auction the rights to Trevor Lawrence (assuming they don’t want him for themselves). They do have to be careful, though, about trading too far down and missing out on the defensive play-maker that they need. It’s far too early to tell, but presumably they wouldn’t want to deal out of the Top 5, unless the package to move down was absolutely huge.
Miami DE/LB Gregory Rousseau
Right now, 5.5 months before the draft, this 6-7, 253-pounder figures to be the guy – the premier pass rusher that so many will want. He’s not often compared to the Bosas or Chase Young, but some of that is because he opted out on this season and there just isn’t the same buzz around him. He had 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss last year and was already being talked up as the next great college pass rusher. He could’ve easily vaulted into the No. 2 position behind Lawrence if he had played. Regardless, if the Giants are in range of a guy who can get to the quarterback like he can, how can they possibly pass him up?
Penn State LB Micah Parsons
If the Giants don’t end up in the Rousseau range, this 6-3, 244-pounder could be a heck of a consolation prize. He’s not quite the pass-rusher Rousseau is because he’s more of an inside linebacker, but he has the speed to be dangerous off the edge, if needed. A defensive play-maker who can do it all, he could be a force playing next to Blake Martinez in the Giants’ defense. And with Martinez there, they could even really turn him loose against the quarterback. The possibilities are endless, and it’s possible he could even be available just outside of the Top 5.
LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase
If they fell in love with Odell Beckham Jr. once, they’re going to love the next great receiver to come out of the Bayou. Chase is a 6-foot, 208-pounder with speed, hands, burst – really everything the NFL wants in a receiver. He’s been dominant in college and scouts think he’ll be the same in the NFL. Obviously, Golden Tate won’t be back with the Giants next year. Putting Chase on the field with the solid Sterling Shepard and their big-play threat, Darius Slayton, would give the Giants an impressive array of weapons, especially with Saquon Barkley back. That’s a great way to boost the stock of a struggling young quarterback. They might have to be in the Top 4 to get him, though. Maybe even higher than that.
Oregon OT Penei Sewell
There’s a good argument to be made that adding a second book-end tackle could solidify the Giants’ offensive line for years. And with rookie Andrew Thomas struggling, some would suggest Sewell could replace him and Thomas could be moved to the right side. Maybe. But the Giants are high on rookie Matt Peart, who seems like he has a future at right tackle. And while the Giants need line help, center is a much bigger position of need. So as good as the 6-6, 330-pound Sewell may be, he feels like more of a luxury for the Giants than a need. It wouldn’t be a bad pick at all, depending on where they are, but not at the expense of a pass rusher or receiver.
Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence
I’ll put him on the list because if the Giants are so terrible that they overtake the Jets for the top spot in the draft, that means Daniel Jones will have been pretty terrible, too. At that point, staring at a generational prospect, they might not have a choice but to make a quarterback switch. There is still a pretty strong commitment to Jones throughout the Giants organization, but a lot can happen over the next two months. Lawrence figures to be the only quarterback prospect tempting enough, even if they’re high enough in the draft to grab Ohio State’s Justin Fields. But again, if they are drafting that high, it might be a new GM making the call, which means all bets should be off.