Giants Draft 2022: Mel Kiper has Big Blue landing great tackle-pass rusher combo in 1st round

jermaine johnson, giants, seminoles

With the 2022 NFL Draft quickly approaching, the New York Giants are preparing a number of different strategies with quarterback-needy teams looking to move up. There’s no guarantee the Giants will move back and acquire more draft capital, rather staying put and utilizing the 5th and 7th overall selections on the best player available.

Mel Kiper from ESPN has the Giants landing a stout tackle and pass rush combo at five and seven in his latest mock, providing both sides of the ball with an instant impact player:

No. 5 Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State

Ekwonu answered every question about his pass-protection ability last season. If left tackle Andrew Thomas keeps improving, these two could form one of the NFL’s best bookend pairings.

Landing Ekwonu at 5th overall would be a great move for the Giants, given their desperate need at right tackle. They are still paying Nate Solder $4 million on a void year after restructuring his contract in 2021. However, most fans would agree that Solder’s departure was in the team’s best interest. Ekwonu projects as a Year 1 starter at either tackle spot, standing at 6’4″ and 320 pounds.

With great tangible traits and a killer mentality on the field, Ekwonu is exactly the type of player general manager Joe Schoen is looking forward to protect Daniel Jones on his vision side. With long limbs and great strength at the point of attack, he is a plug-and-play option that also has great leadership qualities and locker room charisma.

From a rebuilding standpoint, locking down the right tackle spot with Ekwonu would be a home run — not to mention he has offensive guard versatility in case OT doesn’t pan out.

No. 7 (from CHI) Jermaine Johnson II, DE, Florida State

He already has a few veteran pass-rush moves and can be an instant starter. He also played a lot of outside linebacker for the Seminoles, so he has some versatility in Wink Martindale’s defense.

In Kiper’s scenario, the Giants miss out on Kayvon Thibodeaux, who is selected by the New York Jets at 4th overall. Instead, they settle for Jermaine Johnson out of Florida State, who’s coming off a fantastic campaign with the Seminoles. Over 12 games, Johnson contributed 11.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for a loss.

Johnson has phenomenal tangible traits at 6’5″ and 262 pounds as an ascending prospect off the edge. He has the strength to seal the edge in the running game but also utilizes a power to speed combination with his pass-rush moves.

Johnson is a bit raw with his approach and needs more development with his counters, but he has all the physical traits in the world for the Giants to build upon.
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