The New York Giants could go in various different directions with the 11th overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
Ultimately, they have several positions of weakness that need to be bolstered, but ownership has indicated that the offense could use resource allocations. Ever since Dave Gettleman drafted Daniel Jones in In 2019, he has done little to inject weapons around him, as Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard simply haven’t been enough.
Of course, it was impossible to know that Saquon Barkley would tear his ACL and miss a majority of the 2020 season, but Jones always needed a talented receiver who could beat man-coverage and stretch the field.
That is where the Giants will likely allocate the 11th overall pick, as Alabama stars DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle could fall right into their laps. If that is the case, the decision should be easy, but there’s always the possibility that their preferred receivers won’t be on the board. In that case, they could look to a pass rusher to bolster their defense.
The New York Giants could take a more risky approach:
One option is Miami standout Gregory Rousseau, who opted out of the 2020 season but had a phenomenal 2019 campaign. He will likely land in the middle of the first round after posting 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss.
However, some view Rousseau as a project that has raw athleticism and talent but simply isn’t refined. From a general standpoint, that opinion would be correct. He only has one real season of production as a freshman, and as a previous high school wide receiver and safety, the transition to the defensive line can be tumultuous when making the jump to the NFL.
Rousseau made a business decision by opting out, declaring for the NFL draft in a pass rush light year. After Chase Young and a bevy of talented defenders were plucked in 2020, this upcoming draft offers him a fantastic chance of going in the first round without much competition. His production is absolutely eye-popping, and his physical skill set makes him a potentially elite player, but his lack of fundamentals and technique shows up on tape.
At 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds, Rousseau undoubtedly has the tangible tools to be a quality player in the trenches, but he lacks the foundational strength to beat stronger and more physical lineman.
Despite his deficiencies, he would match up very well in Patrick Graham’s defensive scheme, which uses multiples and rotates players into different positions. In my opinion, Rousseau is the Isaiah Simmons of the defensive line, with the ability to play five-technique, three-technique, zero-technique, and even outside linebacker. His rangy athleticism would be a good fit on the outside in the Giants’ 3-4 scheme, and considering his ability to drop into coverage, Graham would have a field day with his physical traits.
However, drafting him at 11 would be a little bit optimistic for my liking. The only way I would consider him is if the Giants elect to trade back and acquired more assets. His physical tools are absolutely something to build around, and having talented coaches like Graham makes this a much more attractive draft pick.
Again, Rousseau is more of a project than an immediate plug-and-play, which actually constitutes him as more of a second-round player than first. The only reason he’s going so early is that there’s a lack of pass rush in the first round this year.