It is no secret the New York Giants desperately need offensive line support in the upcoming 2022 NFL draft, but bolstering the defensive side of the trenches is also a priority.
With Lorenzo Carter hitting free agency and second-year OLB Azeez Ojulari featuring as the team‘s primary pass rusher, targeting a player to fill the void is ideal in the first round.
A range of players could be available with the 5th or 7th overall selections, but in PFF’s latest mock draft, there is an early run on pass rushers and tackles, leaving the Giants in an interesting position.
New York Giants’ 1st round picks, via PFF mock draft:
5th overall: OT Charles Cross
Missing out on Evan Neal and Ikem Ekwonu certainly isn’t ideal, but the Giants still lands arguably the best pass protector in the draft with Mississippi State standout Charles Cross.
Cross has a thinner frame compared to the top two tackles, but he’s nimble on his feet and has tremendous upside.
At 6’5″ and 307 pounds, Cross has the potential to be a high-end starter by his second season in the NFL.
NFL analyst Lance Zierlein compared Cross to Tristan Wirfs regarding his style of play and Taylor Moton for his physicality. Cross already features solid footwork and recovery capabilities, but he lacks a bit of functional athleticism containing speed rushers on the outside.
At first, making a transition to the right side may be difficult for Cross, but the Giants desperately need support there, and giving them a year to adapt is preferable. 2022 is already gearing up to be a rebuilt year, so committing to young players in developing them appropriately for the future is essential.
7th overall: EDGE Travon Walker
When looking at Travon Walker out of Georgia, his stats don’t raise any eyebrows. He only recorded 6.0 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss, and 33 combined tackles last season. However, Walker isn’t a traditional edge rusher, he’s capable of playing inside and out.
At 6’5″ and 275 pounds, Walker is an athletic specimen. Walker possesses unbelievable size and length with unique power as a former five-star recruit.
Suppose you are general manager Joe Schoen and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. In that case, Walker is a match made in heaven for his defense, given his dominant run-stopping abilities and incredible power off the snap.
Creating confusion upfront is part of modern defensive strategies, and Walker’s alignment flexibility would give Martindale plenty of talent to work with. The best part about his game is he’s a matchup nightmare, so you can line him up against weaker positions to gain leverage across the line of scrimmage.
Some aren’t as high on Walker based on his statistical output, but he’s a consistent player with phenomenal tools to build around, which is something that the Giants could fall in love with. The downside is that Walker’s hype is mostly based on his physical traits, he’s still raw as a pass rusher and lacks counter-moves. He needs solid development before reaching his ceiling, which could suggest picking him 7th is a bit too high.