Giants Mock Draft: Mel Kiper goes all-out defense with stud pass rusher and middle linebacker in 1st round

devin lloyd, giants, utah

One thing is certain regarding the New York Giants’ 2022 draft strategy, they must walk away with a quality offensive line talent in the first round, but there have been multiple occasions this off-season where NFL analysts have bypassed assistance in the trenches in favor of different prospects.

Mel Kiper of ESPN dropped his latest mock draft, honing in on a pass rusher and athletic middle linebacker who can dominate in the run game but also provide support and coverage.

Last season, the Giants struggled to curate a past rush with a rookie on one side (Azeez Ojulari) of the defensive line and a rotation on the other consisting of Lorenzo Carter and Quincy Roche. One of the best ways to start a rebuild is to grab a fantastic edge rusher or on a cost-controlled contract.

Let’s take a look at how Kiper begins Joe Schoen’s rebuild with Big Blue:

5th overall: EDGE, Kayvon Thibodeaux

If the draft plays out like this and both of the top offensive tackles are off the board before the Giants pick, taking a defender makes the most sense. And if Thibodeaux is available, he’d be a perfect fit for a New York defense that needs to pair a true edge rusher with rookie Azeez Ojulari, who led the team with eight sacks last season. Thibodeaux has to improve his all-around game, but he has outstanding physical tools as a pass-rusher. He had seven sacks last season and put up the second-best pressure rate in the country (17.8%). If he comes close to his ceiling, he’ll make multiple All-Pro teams.

7th overall: MLB, Devin Lloyd

With the Giants’ second top-10 pick, I’m going all-in on improving the front seven of the defense. Lloyd is a middle linebacker, yes, but he does so much more. He had 111 total tackles, eight sacks, 20 tackles for loss, four interceptions and a forced fumble last season. He had 16.5 total sacks over the past three seasons. Lloyd (and No. 5 pick Kayvon Thibodeaux) can add some pass-rush upside to a team that desperately needs it. If New York does take Lloyd here, that probably means Blake Martinez, who tore his ACL in September, will be a salary-cap casualty.

The Giants are going to have to address their offensive line at some point this offseason, and I also thought about center Tyler Linderbaum here.


It is interesting to see that Kiper mentions Tyler Linderbaum as a potential option with the 7th overall pick. By the time the Giants are up at No. 5, Ikem Ekwonu and Evan Neal are already off the board, with the Carolina Panthers taking Charles to cross at No. 6.

It is possible there is an early run on offensive tackles, which would put the Giants in a tough position but there are several alternatives they can target in the second round, notably Max Mitchell out of Louisiana or Nicholas Petit-Frere from Ohio State.

Selecting Devin Lloyd is definitely an interesting move, but the Giants are in desperate need of support at linebacker after Blake Martinez tore his ACL last season. Unless Martinez is willing to settle on a significant restructure, the Giants will likely have to find a supplement, and Lloyd would fit the bill perfectly under Wink Martindale’s leadership.

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