The New York Giants have a number of needs they can satisfy in the 2023 NFL draft. Of course, everyone is focused on the wide receiver position and landing a WR1, but it is easier said than done finding a top receiver at the back end of the first round in a class that isn’t regarded highly.
There isn’t a Ja’Marr Chase or Justin Jefferson among the receivers this year, with Jaxon Smith-Njigba the consensus top option. Most mock drafts have him going within the top 15 picks, but there isn’t a top-10 receiving talent, suggesting the Giants may be better off solving other needs.
Cornerback sits atop a list of positions Big Blue could address, especially since Adoree Jackson’s contract expires after the 2023 season, and the team doesn’t have a supplement. The cornerback unit is relatively weak, and the team doesn’t have much salary space to make free-agent acquisitions, suggesting the draft might be their best alternative.
The Giants could also use support on the offensive line, so let’s take a look at a draft strategy that would land them a top man coverage corner and a great center in this year’s draft.
Giants mock draft: Trade edition
1.) Giants trade pick 25, 160, 172 to the Pittsburgh Steelers for Pick 32 and 80
Draft Selection: CB Emmanuel Forbes
Staying in the first round would be ideal for Big Blue, considering it offers them a fifth-year option to work with, but the Giants need value and immediate starters to help weaker positions. Cornerback and center need long-term solutions, and the Giants can address both spots with top talents in this year’s draft class executing this strategy.
Some are against the idea of drafting Emmanuel Forbes out of Mississippi State, but he is considered one of the best ball hawks and man coverage corners in this year‘s class. Wink Martindale‘s defense loves players like this, reminiscent of Marcus Peters and his aggressiveness during his prime years with Baltimore.
Forbes isn’t the biggest athlete, but he has a massive wingspan and lanky frame, making him an ideal fit for Wink’s defensive scheme. The Giants were forced to play a lot more zone coverage than they preferred late in the season due to the lack of depth at cornerback, so Forbes solves the CB2 position and allows them to continue developing players like Cor’Dale Flott.
It is essential to note that Forbes is a three-year starter and has 13 interceptions to his name, four more than the next closest Power Five cornerback since 2020. His dominance in man coverage makes him an immediate starter for the Giants, but he may struggle in the run game, given his lack of size. Adding a bit more mass to his frame will be essential for him at the NFL level, but that is a variable that can be addressed through proper nutrition and the weight room.
In the process of this acquisition, the Giants move out of the first round, so Forbes is on a four-year rookie contract but is paid minimally, opening up a bit more salary space in the interim. Giants general manager Joe Schoen manages to grab the 80th overall pick from the Pittsburgh Steelers in the process, which will be utilized shortly to grab the top center in the class.
2.) Giants move up to pick 37, giving up picks 57 and 80
Draft Selection: C John Michael-Schmitz
If the Giants are looking for a long-term solution at center, John Michael-Schmitz is the obvious way to go. Most teams don’t draft centers in the first round, so expect him to slip to the top of the second, with most mock drafts having him going between 35–45.
In this instance, the Giants move up to the 37th overall pick held by the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle is known for trading back in the draft, so this is a great opportunity for them to collect more value and find some mid-round gems. They acquire the Giants’ 57th and 80th overall picks, which fits the draft value chart in terms of fair compensation.
Michael-Schmitz projects to be a starting center and an above-average one by his second season. He immediately locks down the position with tremendous upside out of Minnesota. He allowed just five pressures over 317 pass-blocking snaps in 2021 but had an even better season in 2022, leading all centers with a 92.3 PFF grade.
With excellent fundamentals and having recently worked out privately with Giants OL Coach Bobby Johnson, JMS fits the bill as a long-term solution. However, he is a bit older as a rookie, entering the NFL at age 24. He’s not considered the best athlete at his position but certainly has the best fundamentals and won’t get beat very often in pass protection and dominated in zone-blocking schemes, which is precisely what the Giants want to support Daniel Jones.