The offseason scouting process is just beginning, free agency hasn’t even started yet, and the NFL Draft is still more than two months away. But it’s never too early to take a look at how the draft might unfold.
So here’s my three-round mock for the Giants, version 2.0. The Giants currently have only their regular three picks in the first two days...
First round (11th overall) – Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle
The Giants desperately need receivers and there’s a chance they could get shut out of the top ones in free agency. The best ones will find more money elsewhere and likely a preferable situation to enduring the growing pains of Giants quarterback Daniel Jones.
Lucky for the Giants, the draft is loaded with talented targets, including four who have a shot of going in the Top 10-15. I’d prefer Florida TE Kyle Pitts here, but the way scouts talk about him it’s sometimes hard to envision him falling to 11 (especially with Philadelphia at No. 6). It’s more likely that the Giants could be staring at one of Alabama’s dynamic duo -- the 5-10, 182-pound Waddle or the 6-1, 174-pound DeVonta Smith.
I think Waddle’s size makes him more likely to fall. And while the Giants sure do need bigger receivers, they can’t pass on the explosiveness of Waddle. He’s a true deep threat who might run a 4.3 in the 40 with the elusiveness to make him one of the best yards-after-catch guys in the entire draft. One scout compared him to Tyreek Hill. The Giants haven’t had anyone that good in their offense since they traded Odell Beckham Jr. away.
And until their offensive line is completely fixed, having a reliable receiver who can turn a quick pass from Jones into a big gain and draw extra attention from the defense would be a very huge deal.
(Previous pick: Miami DE/LB Gregory Rousseau)
Second round (42nd overall) – Tulsa LB Zaven Collins
He wasn’t just one of the best linebackers in college football, he’s also the ideal linebacker for Patrick Graham’s defensive scheme. Graham likes to use multiple looks, and the 6-4, 256-pound Collins can do it all. The fact that some scouts think he’s better inside, and others say he belongs on the outside indicate he’s proficient at both. He’s also good in coverage and has the size and speed to be a potentially dangerous pass rusher.
He’s probably not the straight-up edge rusher the Giants need, but that’s OK. If they bring back Leonard Williams they can generate enough pass rush in other ways. They still have hopes of production from Lorenzo Carter as he attempts a comeback from a torn Achilles in a contract year. And Collins could be his future replacement or a tag-team partner on the other side.
Giants head coach Joe Judge will likely see some similarities with Collins and Kyle Van Noy, once a key cog of the New England Patriots defense, now with the Miami Dolphins. Those are two other teams likely to be interested in Collins, too.
(Previous pick: LSU WR Terrace Marshall)
Third round (76th overall) – Notre Dame OT Liam Eichenberg
It might be a stretch for the 6-6, 305-pounder to last this long, depending on when the “Dance of the Elephants” (what the late George Young used to call the inevitable run on offensive linemen) takes place. Some think he could be a late first-rounder depending on how the scouting season goes, but right now he seems to be a couple of tiers below the elite tackles in this draft.
That’s because while he has the size and was generally a good player in college, he was inconsistent. He’s also said to be better in the run game, where he can use his power, than he is in pass protection where his footwork could be an issue against the better edge rushers in the NFL.
Regardless, the Giants have their left tackle of the future in Andrew Thomas, but no one has a future hold on right tackle yet. Matt Peart, last year’s third-rounder, hasn’t secured the spot yet and the Giants will likely bring in a veteran like Cam Fleming again this season. Eichenberg will add depth to the line and competition for Peart, both of which are needs.
(Previous pick: Stanford OT Walker Little)