New York Giants 3-Round Mock Draft: Solving the OL, bolstering WR, and providing pass rush

new york giants, terrace marshall

The New York Giants have many different avenues they can take in the 2021 NFL draft, especially with teams moving around them on Friday afternoon. With the Philadelphia Eagles moving out of the top 10 just behind the Giants at 12, there’s one less competitor for a premium non-quarterback. The Giants will have their shot at an instant playmaker, whether it be on the offensive line or a defender like MicahParsons.

Considering their adequate free agency, where they landed a WR1 in Kenny Golladay and a CB2 in Adoree Jackson, it could set them up to go best player available, but let’s take a look at how they can kill two birds with one stone.

Three-round New York Giants mock draft:

1.) Rashawn Slater

Many have predicted that Northwestern offensive tackle Rashawn Slater will end up with the Giants at 11. That would be a pretty decent snag since he’s an instant starter at either right tackle or right guard. Analysts have Slater projected as filling every position on the OL for a given team with his versatility and elite athleticism. Slater has a mean streak and is extremely flexible with where he can feature on an NFL OL. If the Giants want to bolster their OL and give Daniel Jones more time in the pocket to utilize his new playmakers, drafting Slater would be a great move.

He has the potential to become a perennial Pro Bowl and potential All-Pro player, and solving a weekend position with a player of his magnitude in the first round would be incredible. Some even have him ahead of Penei Sewell from Oregon.

2.) Terrace Marshall

One wide receiver who isn’t getting enough attention is LSU standout, Terrace Marshall. He was buried behind Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson over the past few years, but at 20 years old, Terrace has incredible fundamentals and size. At 6’3” and 200 pounds, Marshall is only 20 years old, two years younger than DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. In just seven games last season, he averaged more than 100 yards per game and landed double-digit touchdown receptions.

Not only can he feature as an “X” receiver on the outside, but he has the technical refinement to move interior to slot as well. As a taller receiver, he’d be a fantastic option for Daniel Jones in the passing game and a long-term solution since the Giants have an out in Sterling Shepard’s deal after the 2021 season. Marshall has the potential to become a WR1 in the future, and at his age, he’s just barely scratching the surface.

3.) Joseph Ossai

Joseph Ossai is the definition of clutch.

Making several game-winning plays in 2020, Ossai would be a solid pick up for the Giants at 76. I don’t believe he will fall that far, but he did earn 5.5 sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles in 2020. His story is inspiring, moving from Nigeria at a young age in a lottery pick and taking up football, eventually landing himself a big gig with Texas. I believe he would be a fantastic fit for the Giants at OLB — another 3rd round pick spend on the position. The Giants need as much competition as they can get with the return of Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines from season-ending injuries.

Relying on them is a bit optimistic, and adding a player of Ossai’s talent would be fantastic. At 6’4” and 253 pounds, Joseph has functional strength and great athleticism, something coordinator Patrick Graham can work with in terms of versatility.

New York Giants 2 round mock draft: Best player available always a safe move

new york giants, micah parsons

The New York Giants have done a phenomenal job this free agency period, solving several holes on the roster. Finding a true and tried wide receiver one in Kenny Golladay and a premium corner in Adoree’ Jackson will ultimately fuel improvements across the board, especially on solid contracts that will prove to be minimal once the salary cap expands exponentially in 2022.

Free agency is best utilized when trying to solve specific holes, and since the cap decreased significantly this season, teams were forced to release quality players that otherwise wouldn’t hit the market in a normal off-season.

Looking ahead to the NFL draft in a month, the New York Giants are in a great position to find a fantastic player in the first round and add high upside talent in a second. Let’s take a look at an interesting mock draft that could end up taking their defense to the next level and providing a bit of support on offense.

Two round New York Giants mock draft:

Round 1 (11): LB Micah Parsons

While there are a few red flags surrounding Micah Parsons, including an investigation that is ongoing with Parsons being mentioned by name in a harassment lawsuit, his draft stock doesn’t seem to be dropping because of it.

Parsons is an elite defense of talent, bringing elite speed and strength to the linebacker position. During his Pro Day, he ran a 4.35, indicating impressive agility and speed. The Giants like to have connections with players, especially with COVID-19 limiting their interactions. His connection with defensive line coach Spence Chaos could be an indication that the Giants will consider him if he falls to 11. Parsons has stated his relationship with Chaos as positive, indicating that he helped him through the transition process to the NFL. With that being the case, the Giants could be looking at him with keen eyes, especially with head coach Joe Judge attending Penn State’s Pro Day.

Parsons did opt out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, but his addition to the defense would be extravagant. Adding a player who can rush the passer as an outside linebacker but also play middle linebacker at a high-level is exciting. If he is there at 11, you could argue he’s the best player available and one the Giants shouldn’t think twice about. However, the team will do their due diligence and look into his background, which could raise some concerns. If all checks out clean, I can’t imagine him being low on the Giants’ draft board.

Round 2 (42): OG Wyatt Davis

The Giants did very little to add offensive line talent this off-season, but drafting Ohio state guard Wyatt Davis in the second round might cover up some concerns. Davis is a plug-and-play right guard on day one, and he would immediately provide some competition alongside Shana Lemeiux and newly signed C/OG Zack Fulton. As a bully in the trenches, Davis is a sound pass blocker and solid run blocker in power schemes. Leading the charge in front of Saquon Barkley would be fantastic, and while he might need a few months to adapt to the Giants’ game, he could be a long-term solution at RG post-Kevin Zeitler.

New York Giants 3 round mock draft: Perfect allocations

New York Giants, Devonta Smith

The New York Giants have a difficult task ahead of them this off-season, trying to utilize their minimal amount of money to sign free agents but also bolster their offense. Having to make decisions on Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson doesn’t make resource allocation any easier, especially with quarterback Daniel Jones needing more weapons to work with. The expectation is that the Giants will target a receiver in free agency, as both Corey Davis and Curtis Samuel represent solid options but not WR1s.

One way or another, Jones will get his wish, more quality targets to throw to in the passing game — the Giants might have to make a few significant changes to open up money, and they must utilize their draft capital efficiently.

New York Giants 3-round mock:

1.) WR DeVonta Smith

After the National Championship game, DeVonta Smith was considered a guarantee to be off the board by the time the Giants picked at 11. However, his stock is gradually decreasing, based on his 175-pound weight.

Ultimately, Smith is one of the more dynamic receivers entering the NFL, and his ability to align in many different ways makes him a threat constantly. He’s one of the best wide receiver screen options in college, and that will likely transfer to the NFL.

The primary issue is utilizing him in press coverage, where corners can jam him with ease based on his lack of strength. He possesses fantastic hands and elite body control, though, making catches in traffic and high pointing the football on contested throws.

If he falls to 11, the Giants shouldn’t hesitate, as he offers a fantastic weapon for Jones to utilize. He projects as an ideal Z receiver, lining up a few feet off the line of scrimmage, that way, he can beat press coverage with his refined route running. Some consider him the best receiver that college football has ever seen, but he lacks that prototypical size you want in an elite wideout, but he’s just too productive and smooth to pass on here.

2.) OT Wyatt Davis

The Giants are looking to open up money, and one idea that has been floated recently is cutting starting right guard Kevin Zeitler.

Zeitler is arguably the best OL that the Giants possess, and letting him go with further damage, a unit that ranked dead last in pass protection last season. They are far from being an adequate line, and Zeitler is the glue that keeps them together, whereas they might fall apart completely without him. On the flip side, he’s going to count $12.5 million in 2021, so the Giants can either extend him and lower his cap hit for next season or cut him and save the money.

If they’re going to release Zeitler, they need to replace it with a quality option, and Wyatt Davis out of Ohio State offers a fantastic supplement. As a projected right guard at the NFL level, he’s expected to be a plug-and-play option, and landing him in the second round would be a steal.

At 6’4” and 310 pounds, Davis has adequate size and moves defenders in the running game. He doesn’t have the speed and athleticism to be a pull and trap blocker, but the Giants need to think long term here, and he certainly has “hog molly” written all over him.

3.) Ifeatu Melifonwu

After allocating the first two draft picks toward the offense, the defense could use a little bit of support, specifically at CB2. One player who is generating buzz is CB Ifeatu Melifonwu.

The Syracuse product stands at 6’2” and 212 pounds, containing adequate size to be a solid outside corner opposite James Bradberry. He is long, rangy, and athletic, everything you want to see in a corner entering the NFL. With multiple tools to utilize, he can fit the Giants’ zone scheme on defense perfectly.

With the willingness to play against the run aggressively, this would be a steal for the Giants in the third round, and they desperately need to upgrade the CB2 position. Allocating a third-round pick on a player like Melifonwu would be perfect.

New York Giants: The Underrated Benefit of Drafting a Cornerback

New York Giants, Patrick Surtain

As the 2021 NFL Draft swiftly approaches, the New York Giants are doing their best to make sure they get the No. 11 overall pick correct. Following a 2020 season that saw the team make strides towards competitiveness for the first time in years, it’s vital Big Blue makes the correct choice. Most mock drafts have suggested the team take an offensive-playmaker, a pass rusher, or an offensive lineman. While all of those options would greatly benefit the Giants, there’s one position that would kill two birds with one stone – cornerback.

The Underrated Benefit of Drafting a Cornerback at No. 11 Overall

The Role a Strong Secondary Plays in the Pass Rushing Game

On paper, a cornerback’s main duty is to defend against the opponent’s passing game. Whether that be via soft-zone, press-man, or any other scheme that Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham draws up, that is their job. A strong secondary-unit does more than just wreak havoc on opposing receivers and quarterbacks though. It allows the pass rush to get after the QB and forces the opponent to adjust their style of play. The Giants would reap the major benefits of this style of play by taking a defensive-back in round one this spring.

Following the 2019 season, the Giants knew they needed to improve their secondary. They allowed the fifth-most passing yards per game in the NFL and consistently failed to get off the field in crunch-time. To fix this issue they went out and signed James Bradberry. Bradberry outperformed all expectations in his first year with Big Blue in 2020, earning the first pro-bowl nod of his career. But it wasn’t only Bradberry who enjoyed a successful season – the entire Giants secondary improved significantly. The team allowed 26.2 less yards per game through the air and finished as the 17th-ranked unit in the league. Along with the improved pass defense came an uptick in pressure on the QB.

The Giants finished 2020 tied for the 11th-most sacks in the NFL with 40, 11 spots higher than their ranking in 2019. Despite not signing a dominant pass rusher in free agency last offseason, their pass rush improved. How? Strong play from the secondary. It’s not a coincidence both sections of the defense improved either. Almost all of the best passing defenses rushed the passer effectively in 2020.

The Correlation Between a Strong Passing Defense/Sacks

Of the six-best defenses against the pass in 2020, three of them finished in the top-six for sacks. On the other end of the rankings the correlation is relevant as well. Of the 10-worst pass defenses, five of them were in the bottom-10 for total sacks. A strong secondary allows the defensive line to produce something called a “coverage sack.” That is when a team forces the QB to hold onto the ball for an extended period of time, allowing the pass rushers to blow the play up.

The biggest example of a player benefitting from strong secondary play, and converting on “coverage sacks” is the Giants own Leonard Williams. In eight games with the team in 2019 Williams posted a measly 0.5 sacks. He did, however, register 11 hits on the QB. It was clear in 2019 that Williams needed only one more second to turn those hits into sacks. And when he received that extra second this past season, he made it count.

In 16 games with Big Blue in 2020 Williams was simply dominant. His 11.5 sacks led the team and were the 7th-most in the NFL. Nothing much about the former No. 6 overall pick changed heading into 2020. He was the same player but this time around had a group of high-football-IQ players behind him. He pounced on his secondary’s success and showed everyone why he was taken so high back in 2015.

Who Would be in Play at No. 11

If the Giants were to go the CB route in round one, which I strongly endorse, there are two players on the table: Patrick Surtain from Alabama and Caleb Farley out of Virginia Tech. Both are projected to be lockdown corners at the next level, and with good reason. Each played against top-tier competition while in college, possess nearly identical long, rangy frames, as well as a wealth of skill to play in almost any type of defense. They’re each projected to go in the top-15 of the draft this April.

Let’s say the Giants like Surtain a bit more because of coach Judge’s connection to Alabama, and take him at No. 11. He would immediately slide into CB2 opposite Bradberry. It’s fair to say the Giants would have one of, if not the best CB duo in the NFL with that pairing. It would be extremely difficult for an opposing to QB to find an open receiver each play, thus giving the d-line time to do their job.

There’s no need to draft an edge rusher at No. 11 overall or overpay for one in free agency this offseason. Continue to build up the secondary and the sack production will increase as a result. When there’s a chance to fill two positions of need with one player, you must take it.

Could the New York Giants Trade Down With the Las Vegas Raiders?

New York Giants, Kaden Smith

The concept of the New York Giants trading down in this year’s draft has been present for months now. Plenty of mock drafts have suggested the Giants trading out of their No. 4 slot and acquiring more picks to help them build for the future. The majority of these mocks have had one thing in common – Big Blue making the trade with a quarterback-needy team. The two teams that appear most likely to pull off the trade are the Miami Dolphins and LA Chargers, but there’s another team that could pull off a blockbuster deal – the newly relocated Las Vegas Raiders. A few things would have to happen before the trade could even be pondered, but come April, anything is possible.

Could the New York Giants Trade Down With the Las Vegas Raiders?

The Derek Carr situation in Vegas

The first, and perhaps most unlikely, part of this scenario is the Raiders moving on from QB Derek Carr. Carr has been with the team since 2014 and made the pro bowl every season from 2015-17. But since Head Coach John Gruden took over in 2018, things have not been as positive. The Raiders have won just eleven games, and Carr’s numbers have dipped drastically. But there is a major issue preventing Vegas from simply trading Derek Carr and finding their QB of the future – Carr’s contract.

Back in 2017, Derek Carr signed a 5-year, $125 million deal. The deal was, at the time, the biggest in NFL history. Finding a team willing to take on a huge contract that doesn’t expire until the end of the 2022 season would be almost impossible. But there is one team reportedly that might have an interest, and is working to clear cap space – the Chicago Bears. Chicago recently cut cornerback Prince Amukamara and wide receiver Taylor Gabriel in order to save $13.5 million in cap space.

Before Chicago could acquire Carr though, they would have to move on from former No. 2 overall pick, Mitch Trubisky. Trubisky has been a sub-par player in each of his first three seasons and has shown very little development. The Bears could either cut him and eat up the money he is due for 2020, or look for a possible trade partner. If all of this falls into place, a path for Derek Carr to the Bears could appear.

The Raiders would need a QB

If Vegas were to pull the trigger on a Carr trade, they would need to find his replacement. Luckily for them, the Giants are sitting at No. 4 listening to offers. Besides the projected number one pick Joe Burrow, the Raiders would get to choose from every top QB prospect. And what makes this scenario even more possible is how much draft capital the Raiders possess.

Las Vegas is one of just three teams in this year’s draft to have multiple first-round draft picks. They own the No. 12 pick, as well as the No. 19 pick, which they acquired from the Chicago Bears back in 2018. Possibly obtaining two first-round picks would be very enticing for Giants GM Dave Gettleman. Vegas has the draft capital to make the trade happen and it would be very smart of the Giants to consider the idea of trading out of the top five.

Who the Giants could draft at No.’s 12 & 19

While the premier, well-known prospects may be off the board come picks 12 and 19, elite talent will still be there. A name that has been tied to the Giants this offseason is edge rusher A.J. Epenesa out of Iowa. Epenesa has been widely regarded as the second-best edge rusher in the entire draft, and most mock drafts have him going in the middle of the first round.

Say the Giants pick Epenesa at No. 12, they could go in a number of different directions. They could look to fix the offensive line by selecting center Cesar Ruiz out of Michigan, considered by many to be the best center in this year’s draft. Or they could choose to continue rebuilding their defense by selecting linebacker Kenneth Murray out of Oklahoma, a player with excellent athleticism and great tackling ability.

Those are just a few names that are projected to be stars at the next level that will still be available if the Giants trade down with the Raiders. A lot of pieces of the puzzle would have to fall into place for any of this to happen, but it’s possible. New York could greatly improve their rebuild if they reached a deal with Las Vegas.