New York Giants: Why trading down for an edge rusher in round one makes sense

Anthony Rivardo

The New York Giants are preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft. New York has set itself up nicely for the draft with a successful free agency period. The Giants made some splash signings, landing top-of-the-market wide receiver Kenny Golladay and solid tight end Kyle Rudolph, along with their new CB2 in Adoree’ Jackson.

The Giants addressed most of their needs in free agency and plugged those holes. But there is one glaring positional weakness on the defensive side of the ball that the Giants still have not fully addressed. New York does have a stable of solid edge rushers, but no singular standout option off the edge.

Many predict that New York will select an edge rusher with the eleventh overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. However, the fan base does not seem too warm to that idea. This year’s edge class is thin and filled with controversy. If the New York Giants really want to address the edge rusher position in round one, they should do so in a trade-down scenario.

Why trading down makes sense

There are talented edge rushers in this year’s draft class. However, there are not many edge prospects that are widely considered to be top-ten talents or even talents worthy of being selected eleventh overall. If New York takes an edge rusher at eleven, they’ll be “reaching” to address a significant need. But if the Giants were to trade down into the second half of the first round and select an edge rusher, they would be making a good-value selection.

There are copious amounts of benefits to trading down. If the Giant were to trade down, they would be able to select the player they are targeting at a sufficient value where the level of talent meets the overall selection. But the even greater benefit the Giants would gain by trading down is the addition of extra draft capital.

The Giants could potentially yield an extra second-round pick by trading down. The accumulation of extra draft capital could go a long way for the Giants as they fill out their roster and address any weaknesses entering the 2021 season. Trading down was instrumental for the rebuild of the Indianapolis Colts in 2018. The Giants were interested in trading down from four overall in 2020 but found no buyers. 2021 could be the year that Dave Gettleman finally trades down. And it would make sense for this to also be the year that the Giants invest heavily in the edge rusher position.

Which edge rushers could the Giants target?

There are a few intriguing edge rusher prospects in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft. Nearly all of these players have draft projections that land them past the first twenty picks. But they are still talented, first-round prospects that would make an instant impact on the Giants’ defense.

Azeez Ojulari

Azeez Ojulari out of Georgia is a draft prospect whose stock has been steadily rising in the past month. The Giants also reportedly have a particular interest in Ojulari. According to Jordan Raanan of ESPN, New York sent Chris Pettit, their director of college scouting, to scout Ojulari’s Pro Day. Raanan also reports that the Giants are “high on” Ojulari.

Kwity Paye

Jordan Raanan also reports that the Giants are interested in Michigan edge rusher Kwity Paye. Raanan was quoted saying this about Paye and Ojulari: “Those two guys I think in particular pique their interest the most… They fit what the Giants are trying to do.”

Gregory Rousseau

There is also a pair of Miami edge rushers to keep an eye on in this year’s draft. Gregory Rousseau is a prospect that has been connected to the Giants frequently. He could have been a legitimate option at eleven overall, but his disappointing Pro Day has caused his draft stock to tumble to the back end of the first round or maybe even the early second round.

Jaelan Phillips

Rousseau’s counterpart, Jaelan Phillips, is looked at by many as the best pure pass-rusher in this draft class. Many view him as a top-ten talent. However, his lengthy and significant injury history is a major red flag that caused most analysts to view Phillips as a round-two prospect. That was until his dominant Pro Day that sent him back to being a first-round prospect. If he stays healthy, Jaelan Phillips could be the steal of the draft for the Giants in a trade-down scenario.