Why Elerson Smith is the New York Giants’ most intriguing prospect

The New York Giants had one of the best drafts in the NFL, no question. On day one they secured a playmaker on offense in Kadarius Toney while also picking up a first- and fourth-round pick in 2022 from Chicago. They then followed that up on day two by trading down once again, this time with Miami. They gained an extra third-round pick in 2022 and selected pass rusher Azeez Ojulari with the No. 50 overall pick. In round three they traded up to snag cornerback Aaron Robinson, a versatile defender who can line up outside or in the slot. But it was on day three where they found their most intriguing prospect – edge rusher Elerson Smith out of Northern Iowa. Here’s what makes him so fascinating:

Why Elerson Smith is the New York Giants’ most intriguing prospect:

His remarkable size

Size is more important than ever in the NFL. Take new Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Devonta Smith for example. He slid to No. 10 overall strictly because of his lean 166-pound frame. Despite him being the first receiver to win the Heisman Trophy in nearly 30 years and breaking almost every SEC single-season receiving record, his size prevented him from going earlier in the draft.

For others, like Elerson Smith, size can be a huge strength for a player’s stock. Check out Smith’s insane measurements from his pro day at Northern Iowa: 6’6″ tall, 252 pounds, and a whopping 83″ wingspan. His mammoth-like stature is not wasted while on the field either. Take a look at this clip from a game against North Dakota State from 2019:

Smith uses his size to its maximum potential by tipping the ball the moment it is released from Lance’s hand. He times his jump perfectly and uses all 34″ of his arms to affect the pass. Could a defender standing at only 6-foot make that play? Not a chance.

What makes that play even more impressive is who he did it against. For those unfamiliar with Smith’s alma mater, Northern Iowa is a member of the Missouri Valley Conference in the FCS. That doesn’t mean he’s facing lesser competition though. The quarterback for NDSU in the clip above is Trey Lance, the No. 3 overall pick in last week’s draft and the future QB of the San Francisco 49ers. Furthermore, the tackle Smith is lined up against is Dillon Radunz, a second-round selection by the Tennessee Titans.

His freakish athleticism

There’s an argument to be made that Elerson Smith is the most impressive athlete in this year’s draft class. For a 6-foot-6-inch 252-pound human, Smith’ athleticism is off the charts. All you need to do is watch his vertical jump from his pro day to understand the specimen he is:

His jump, 41.5 inches, was the seventh-best of any prospect in the entire 2021 draft class, regardless of position. No other edge rusher came close to his mark. To weigh 252-pounds and have the hops of an NBA player is absurd.

Also on his athletic-résumé are his high school achievements. While attending Minneapolis South High School he was a first-team all-state selection by USA Today as a tight end. Yes, you read that correctly. As a 6’6″ senior he was catching passes and torching defenses while also being voted to the all-state second-team as a defensive end. He also participated in track and field, wresting, and basketball (for obvious reasons) in high school. He dominated those as well.

His room for growth

Most of the day three picks in the NFL are considered projects with potential. Smith is no exception. But he made sizable progress at Northern Iowa in an area that is now his greatest strength – size. As a senior in high school Smith was fully grown but weighed only 190 pounds. This led to him not receiving a single offer from a FBS program and having to attend Northern Iowa.

The moment he arrived in Cedar Falls, Iowa he quickly got to work and made sure his lean-frame would never get in his way again. Over the course of his four years playing for the Panthers Smith gained more than 50 pounds and still has room to add another 30.

Most of Smith’s 2021 season will be spent in the gym with strength and conditioning coach Aaron Wellman, and that’s okay. The talent, while raw and undeveloped, is there and plentiful. If he is able to add those extra pounds in the form of muscle and maintain his athleticism, Elerson Smith could be a force in the Big Apple for years to come.

What an ideal 2021 NFL Draft would look like for the New York Giants

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants have multiple holes they need to fill in the 2021 NFL draft, but what order they solve them is yet to be seen. With the ability to go best player available if they so choose, the Giants have interestingly been evaluating a wide variety of pass rushers, supposedly one they could select with the 11th overall pick or in a trade back scenario.

The Giants feel confident that they have one of the best defenses in the NFL, and adding an above-average pass rusher would simply push them over the edge. Not only would they have an elite secondary with James Bradberry and Adoree Jackson manning the corners, but they would have a strong interior line, led by Leonard Williams who recently signed a three-year deal this off-season.

Offensively, the Giants still need some support, specifically on the offensive line where they traded away starting right guard Kevin Zeitler, saving $12 million in salary space. They did acquire Kenny Golladay and Kyle Rudolph, but without time in the pocket, Daniel Jones won’t be able to utilize his playmakers efficiently.

Let’s take a look at how an ideal draft would look for the New York Giants:

First Round: Offensive Line

As we know, the Giants had one of the worst lines in the NFL last season, ranking 32nd in pass-blocking efficiency. While they ranked below average in run blocking, it was the only portion of their offense that was even respectable. Adding a few weapons this off-season will hopefully generate more points, but if Jones doesn’t have time in the pocket to throw the ball, it will all be for not.

Selecting a player like Rashawn Slater out of Northwestern would be a solid choice, given he can kick inside to guard and be a potential Pro-Bowl level player there. I believe he would give the Giants an adequate upgrade in the trenches with his athleticism and football IQ.

Second Round: Pass Rusher

As stated above, the Giants have been evaluating pass rushers, but none are worthy of being selected with the 11th overall pick. There are several that could fall to the second round, given the Giants an opportunity to snag one. Names like Jason Oweh from Penn State and Jaelan Phillips from Miami stand out, but there’s no guarantee either will be there in a second round.

The Giants could theoretically trade up into the first if one falls, which I see as a more likely scenario than picking one at 11. This is a weak draft class for pass rushers, so the Giants shouldn’t take an unnecessary risk when there are elite-level playmakers that can make an impact on day one still on the board.

Third Round: Wide Receiver

With a wide receiver class as deep as this one, the Giants have a solid chance at finding an underrated talent in the third round. A player like Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace could be a great selection. At 5’11 and 193 pounds, he’s a prolific option and would thrive in an air raid offense as a physical receiver, which is something the Giants are trying to adapt to moving forward with the addition of Golladay.

Ultimately, they can find a receiver with upside they can develop this season, and if they elect to take the out in Sterling Shepard’s contract after the 2021 campaign, they can move on with a player prepared to take over.

This would be an ideal draft for the Giants, in my opinion, as they solve the offensive line issue, add a pass rusher with upside, and a receiver who they can develop in their scheme.

New York Giants: Why Matt Peart Might Have Been a Day Two Steal

Like all NFL teams, the New York Giants spend endless hours trying to find middle and late-round gems each draft. Last year, it was wide receiver Darius Slayton; who led the team in both receiving yards and touchdown receptions as a rookie. In 2018, it was defensive tackle BJ Hill; who set the Giants rookie record for sacks with 5.5. According to many, and with good reason, the Giants might’ve found this year’s gem in offensive tackle Matt Peart. Peart, a four-year starter at the University of Connecticut, brings impressive size and athleticism, an outstanding work ethic, and a high ceiling with plenty of room for growth and development.

Why Matt Peart Might Have Been a Day Two Steal:

His size and athleticism

Size is key for being a starting offensive tackle in today’s NFL, but luckily for Peart, he checks off that box with ease. At the NFL Combine this past February, he measured in at 6’7″ and 318 pounds, making him one of the biggest tackle prospects in the entire draft. His long 36 5/8″ arms will also help him make the transition to the next level a lot easier.

For most, greater size means less athleticism. But that’s not the case for the UConn team-captain. Peart’s 5.06 40-yard-dash time was the eighth-best of all offensive linemen. And of those seven that posted better times, each of them was shorter than Peart, and only two of them weighed more. No wonder Big Blue was intrigued by him.

His excellent work ethic

If there is anything Giants head coach Joe Judge cares more about than talent, it’s work ethic. Coming from the New England Patriots, Judge has seen players with less talent earn starting spots because of a skill only some players possess: the desire to get better. Peart is one of those players.

Since his time at the Governor’s Academy in Byfield, Massachusetts, Peart has prided himself on his work ethic. I spoke with Connecticut redshirt-freshman Winston Jules, a defensive back on the team, about what Peart brings to the team. Jules said, “You got a hard worker for sure.”

On a UConn team that has struggled mightily for years now, it could’ve been easy for Peart to give up on the team and transfer schools. But instead, he chose to work as hard as he could and give it his all for the Huskies. His high-motor says something about not only who he is as an athlete, but as a person as well.

His high ceiling

It is rare a team finds a day-one starter in the late third-round. Most picks are used on players with great potential but aren’t quite ready to make the leap to the NFL. Luckily for Peart, the Giants have no intention of having him start in 2020. The plan is to have veteran Nate Solder start at left tackle, and first-round pick Andrew Thomas on the right. But with Solder’s struggles since joining the team in 2018, and Thomas already having experience on the left, the right tackle spot will be up for grabs in 2021.

That would be a perfect scenario for not only Peart, but the Giants as well. One of the biggest knocks on Peart is his strength, and if given a full season to bulk up, that knock could disappear. Come 2021, Big Blue could have a strong, athletic, long, young tackle helping to keep Daniel Jones upright. Giving Peart a full season to prepare his body for NFL-talent would be huge for someone who is a bit rawer right now.

We might not know until 2021, but it’s possible the Giants found their right tackle of the future at No. 99 overall.

Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock draft is the ideal scenario for the New York Giants

New York Giants

Earlier this morning, Mel Kiper Jr. released his Mock Draft 4.0. With the NFL draft less than ten days away, what the New York Giants plan to do with the number four overall pick remains as unclear as ever. But if Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock pans out the way he predicts for the Giants, it could prove to be the best-case scenario.

The main source of anxiety for Giants fans is the ambiguity surrounding the fourth overall pick. Will they take a top offensive tackle? Will they take a top defensive talent? Will they trade back? Mel Kiper breaks down predictions:

Round one, pick four: Isaiah Simmons, OLB, Clemson.

This is going to go down as one of the most highly debated pick selections in recent franchise history. PFF ranked the Giants’ offensive line 17th heading into 2020, so selecting a top tackle would certainly be a good move here, but the 30th ranked defense is in desperate need of a transcendent playmaker, and that’s just what they’ll get with Simmons. It’s simple: The Giants need help everywhere on defense, and Simmons can do everything on defense. He can rush the quarterback, he can line up in the slot, he can drop back and play safety and he’s a beast against the run. Simmons is a physical freak, a perfect blend of size, strength, and speed and will no doubt be an immediate impact player for whatever NFL squad he ends upon, and all New York Giants fans should hope he ends up in blue in 2020. If you’re still unsure about Simmons, go watch his draft presser and pay attention to his answer when a reporter asks him what position he plays.

Round two, pick 36: Austin Jackson, OT, USC.

This is where fans can exhale. This tackle class is deep enough to wait until the second round to take one. Jackson is not an immediate starter and will take some time to develop, but the tackle duo of Nate Solder and Mike Remmers is not going to cut it for the Giants going forward. Dave Gettleman saying yesterday that Solder had a down year in 2019 is a colossal understatement. His 57 pressures were seven more than any other player, and he and Remmers combined for 97 total pressures, the most by any tackle duo in the NFL. There is no question that the Giants need to draft a tackle to help out their two most important young franchise players in Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley. Jackson is not one of the “big four” tackles, but he did play 1,680 straight snaps and left tackle, and with the revolving door of offensive lineman that has played for the Giants in the past few years, they desperately need consistent protection at the tackle position.

This is the Giants fourth time drafting within the top five in the last five years, selecting their two franchise offensive cornerstones in 2018 and 2019. It is time to do the same thing for the defense. First-year DC Patrick Graham needs someone to build around and be the commander of the defense, and with Chase Young likely not making it past Washington with the second overall pick, Simmons is the guy who can be the next leader of this New York Giants defense. The Giants cannot overthink this, draft Isaiah Simmons and do not look back.

New York Giants: The Ultimate Dream Draft Day Scenario

New York Giants, DeAndre Baker

As the 2020 NFL Draft inches closer, rumors are starting to pick up some momentum. Most of these rumors will amount to nothing, but there are a few that New York Giants fans should be following quite closely. If just two scenarios play out, Big Blue could find themselves on the clock with a generational pass rusher still on the board – Chase Young. Young, the recipient of the Chuck Bednarik Award this past season, has been projected to go No. 2 overall to the Washington Redskins for months. But come April, it’s possible Young could be the newest member of the Giants – and here’s how:

New York Giants: The Ultimate Dream Draft Day Scenario

Washington selects a Quarterback

While the Redskins did draft QB Dwayne Haskins with the No. 15 overall pick in last year’s draft, some major changes have occurred in the nation’s capital since then; with the biggest being the hiring of head coach Ron Rivera. Rivera, the former head coach of the Carolina Panthers, looks to start a new chapter in Washington. What better way to start a new chapter than by bringing in a new franchise quarterback?

On Friday, Michael Silver of the NFL Network reported there’s a “very real possibility” the Redskins select a QB at No. 2 overall this year. The believed target? Alabama signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa, who has been recovering from injury since November, is hoping to receive positive feedback from doctors on his health in the coming weeks. If all goes well, Washington could pass on Young to draft their QB of the future and the Giants could move one pick closer to selecting the single-season sack leader in Ohio State history (16.5).

Detroit trades back

If Washington were to draft Tagovailoa at No. 2, some interesting dominos could fall. It’s very possible the Miami Dolphins or Los Angeles Chargers could try to make a deal with the owner of the No. 3 pick – the Detroit Lions. With Tagovailoa being gone, the next best option would be Oregon QB, Justin Herbert. After Herbert, there is a major dropoff talent-wise.

It is believed both the Dolphins and Chargers are interested in drafting a QB in this year’s draft, and both teams have reportedly shown interest in the Oregon product. Either one of them could look to leap up to No. 3 and draft Herbert. Miami, in particular, could offer a deal that would be hard for Detroit to say no to. With three first-round picks in this year’s draft, the Dolphins have more than enough resources to get a deal done. If Detroit is focused on the big picture and wants to fill multiple holes in one night, trading back would be a great idea.

Chase Young becomes a Giant

If those two scenarios play out, the Giants would find themselves on the clock with a player who has been compared to Julius Peppers, Von Miller, and Khalil Mack still available. Could there be a better dream? Acquiring Young would give the Giants something they haven’t had in years – a defensive playmaker.

Chase Young has the ability to completely change a defense. He’s that good. He can plow through offensive lineman with his strength, stop the run with his athleticism, and can avoid blocks with his quickness. There’s nothing he can’t do. If just two things play out for Big Blue, a dream scenario could become a reality.