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A fairly strong consensus is starting to grow about who most of the Top 10 picks of the NFL Draft will be. Not all of them. There are still some variables, especially among the quarterbacks, where anywhere from three to five could be selected among those first 10.
The Giants, of course, are rooting for five quarterbacks to go before they pick at No. 11, which increases the chance of someone they consider a Top 10 prospect of dropping into their lap. And that’s really the trick to forecasting the Giants’ first pick right now. Someone is going to drop.
With two weeks to go, I’ll take a shot at answering that question and forecasting the rest of their first two days of the draft in my latest, updated, three-round mock draft, version 7.0:
First round (11th overall) – Alabama WR DeVonta Smith
Let’s start with this question: Who is going in the Top 10? Definitely three quarterbacks – Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, BYU’s Zach Wilson and whomever the 49ers take at No. 3. If they really do take Alabama’s Mac Jones, someone will probably jump up to grab Ohio State’s Justin Fields or North Dakota’s Trey Lance at 4.
I’m going to guess that four quarterbacks will be gone. If nothing else, I think the Carolina Panthers are sure that at least that many will go before their pick, otherwise they might have waited before pulling the trigger on the Sam Darnold trade and just taken one at 8.
So who else will be in the Top 10? I can’t imagine Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, Oregon tackle Penei Sewell or LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase drop out, so that makes seven. I’ve heard increasing chatter that Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater will land in the Top 10, maybe to Carolina. And right now, it’s hard to see the Cowboys passing on the top cornerback available, assuming Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II is still there at No. 10.
That’s nine, and both of Alabama’s receivers – Smith and Jaylen Waddle – are still on my hypothetical board. Add a fifth quarterback to the Top 10 and maybe a surprise like Slater or Surtain is still sitting here for the Giants, too.
It’s early, but I still think the Giants are likely to take a pass rusher here – Miami’s Jaelan Phillips, Michigan’s Kwity Paye, maybe even Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari. I think Slater is a possible option if he’s nudged out of the Top 10, too, though the Giants do seem to like what they already have in right tackle Matt Peart.
But I will appease the fans here with this scenario and say that if the Heisman Trophy winner slips to 11, the Giants can’t afford to pass him up. He had a crazy productive season for Alabama, catching 117 passes for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns. Scouts love everything about him except for his weight, which is an issue for some. He’s 6-foot-1 and says he weighs 170, though he refused to be weighed during the pre-draft process, so nobody knows for sure.
That is pretty light for an NFL receiver that tall, but he’s so fast and elusive that it might not matter. Plus, he can put on weight (and muscle). There have been a lot of undersized receivers who were supposedly too small to make it but ended up thriving in the NFL.
What about Waddle (5-foot-10, 182)? It’s early, but I think the Giants like Smith better. So did Alabama coach Nick Saban, by the way, and we know what his opinion means to Giants head coach Joe Judge. I think the Giants could pass on Waddle in favor of a player in the trenches. Would they pass on Smith, too? If he’s here – which is still a very big “if” – maybe not.
(Previous picks: Michigan DT Kwity Paye, Miami DE/LB Jaelan Phillips, Miami DE/LB Gregory Rousseau, Smith, Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle, Rousseau)
Second round (42nd overall) – Alabama C Landon Dickerson
He is regarded by most as the best center prospect in the draft, and if he was perfectly healthy, the 6-foot-6, 333-pounder would be a sure-fire first-rounder. Honestly, he might be anyway. It’s a bit of a stretch to project him to last one third of the way through the second round.
But one thing I increasingly hear from scouts and league personnel is their worry about players with injury issues due to a lack of in-person medical evaluations. And Dickerson tore his ACL in the SEC championship game.
He looks healthy, or at least he did in the viral video of him doing cartwheels behind Jones, the Alabama quarterback, while the latter was being interviewed at the Crimson Tide Pro Day. Still, some teams are going to back off medical risks, which could cause him to drop.
Why would the Giants take a shot? Partly because of the trust between Judge and Saban, who’ll be a huge source of information on Dickerson’s recovery. And also because they won’t need Dickerson to step in immediately at either center or guard. He could play sparingly this year as he fully recovers and they groom him for a job in 2022.
(Previous picks: Ohio State G Wyatt Davis, Alabama OL Alex Leatherwood, Davis, Georgia LB Azeez Ojulari, Tulsa LB Zaven Collins, LSU WR Terrace Marshall)
Third round (76th overall) – USC DT Jay Tufele
There really aren’t many holes left that the Giants need to fill, but one big one was left along the defensive line when they let Dalvin Tomlinson get away. They did sign veteran DT Danny Shelton, but he’s here on a one-year flier. They still need someone to fill that gap for the future.
The 6-foot-3, 305-pound Tufele could help the Giants do that, if he lasts this long. He was a disrupter up front for the Trojans, with good interior pass-rush skills (4 ½ sacks in 2019 before he opted out in 2020). He might have to rotate in on passing downs at the start, but if he adds a little bulk and strength, he could develop into a full-time player.
And when he does, with Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams, the Giants could have a heck of a defensive front.
(Previous picks: Oklahoma State WR Tylan Wallace; Boston College TE Hunter Long; Tufele; Georgia CB Eric Stokes; Notre Dame OT Liam Eichenberg; Stanford OT Walker Little)