It doesnâ€™t matter how many offensive weapons Daniel Jones has if his protection on the offensive line is inadequate. The New York Giants still have a lot of work left to do to solve one of their biggest weaknesses, and after cutting their best lineman in Kevin Zeitler this off-season to free up money, they have to solve this hole in the NFL draft, whether it be in the first or second round.
While I believe the Giants will let the first round unfold in front of them, they could have an opportunity to select a premium lineman like Rashawn Slater or even Alijah Vera-Tucker. However, there are a few options in the second-round that could be plug-and-play starters on day one of the 2021 season.
While the drop-off is quite significant, these players have solid upside it might just like that elite talent that Slater and penne so will bring to the table. Not every starter in the NFL needs to be an All-Pro, though, as even an above-average player who slides under the Pro Bowl is still an adequate starter.
If you put it into perspective, Zeitler was easily the Giants’ best lineman and was nowhere near being a Pro-Bowl guard last season; we just need a young player to replicate his efficiency and hold down the right guard position. Now, it all depends on what type of value the Giants want to give up to solve the spot, and we know that Dave Gettleman had never drafted an OL in the first round prior to taking Andrew Thomas 4th overall last season.
Three iOL the New York Giants can target in the 2nd round:
1.) Wyatt Davis
The first option that makes a ton of sense for the Giants is Ohio State guard Wyatt Davis. Davis has pro comparisons to David DeCastro, as a strong and powerful interior lineman who excels on the strong side of the play. The Giants donâ€™t run a ton of counters, so if they are using a power gap scheme or outside zone, Davis should be adequate. As a powerful guard, he has a similar feel to Will Hernandez, operating in the trenches to create space for his running backs but also fend off pass rushers.
The problem with Davis is that he isnâ€™t the most agile lineman, which might be a problem for the Giants if they require their guards to pull across the line of scrimmage to hit the crack blocks. If that is the case, Davis might need a bit of refinement and time to adapt his game, but he has a solid player with upside at the NFL level.
2.) Landon Dickerson
Landon Dickerson is an interesting player, as he hosts a problematic injury history, including a torn ACL and multiple lower-body issues. Coming out of North Carolina, Dickerson was considered one of the top offensive tackle recruits before moving to the inside with Alabama. He was most recently invited to the Senior Bowl but did not participate due to injury, which is still a major concern. The problem with Dickerson, heâ€™s an incredibly talented player and a fantastic person, so despite the injuries, a team will take him in the second round, and he will be an adequate player when available.
He has a solid frame to hold it down in the interior and will easily make the transition to guard if the team wants to move him there. As a vocal leader and superior athlete, I believe he will have a successful career if he can remain healthy, and that might be a risk the Giants are willing to take.
3.) Creed Humphrey
Creed Humphrey is another option the Giants are likely considering, as a left-handed center coming out of Oklahoma. Humphrey is a 6’4″, 302-pound interior lineman, and one of the things I like about him the most is that he is another fantastic leader that diagnoses plays well the line of scrimmage. While Lance Zierlein of NFL.com doesnâ€™t believe heâ€™s a fantastic athlete, he has a high football IQ and is in the right place at the right time. Heâ€™s able to finish blocks and has a nasty streak, which is something the Giants prefer and their linemen.
While Humphrey might not be a star of the NFL level, he will be adequate and hold it down and run blocking and pass protection. Zierlein coins him a safe selection rather than a star player, but having three years of experience and two years as a team captain should convince an NFL team that heâ€™s capable of being a valuable player in the trenches.
The New York Giants are preparing for an interesting 2021 NFL Draft. This year’s draft sees a plethora of talented quarterbacks set to be taken in the top ten. This run on quarterbacks could lead top-talented players at other positions to slip outside the top ten.
The Giants are sitting in a pretty spot at eleven overall. Realistically, the draft’s top non-quarterback prospects could be on the board when the Giants are on the clock. New York could stick and pick the best prospect available. Or, Dave Gettleman can elect to do what he has never done before: trade down.
According to Ian Rapoport, trading back is “already somethingÂ they are internally considering.” Rapoport adds that the eleventh overall pick “will have real value.” What would it look like if the Giants traded down from eleven?
The New England Patriots are a team that has been rumored to be interested in trading up to draft a quarterback. In this mock scenario, assume that Mac Jones falls to eleven and New England is prepared to trade up in an effort to find their franchise quarterback. Multiple teams might be interested in drafting Jones, so New England makes the move to eleven to secure their quarterback before anyone else can.
The Giants move back four spots and gain an extra third-round pick and an extra fourth-round pick. According to Dan Duggan of The Athletic, this is fair and realistic compensation based on the parameters of two recent trades in reality.
The Mock Draft – What could those picks turn into?
Pick 15 – EDGE Jaelan Phillips, Miami
The Giants move down four spots here and address a major position of need. New York’s defense almost has it all. They have some dominant hog mollies on their defensive line. A secondary full of shut-down corners and versatile safeties. But the second level is lacking pass-rush ability.
New York needs a big-time edge rusher, and in this mock draft, they found one. The Giants are reportedly interested in multiple edge rushers, including Azeez Ojulari, Kwity Paye, and Jaelan Phillips.
Most analysts believe Jaelan Phillips would be a top-ten pick if not for medical red flags. The Miami pass-rusher is absurdly talented and athletic. Phillips recorded 8 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss in his breakout 2020 season. He is projected to be drafted in the second half of the first round, but considering the Giants’ need for an EDGE, Phillips makes sense for them at fifteen overall. The Giants need an edge rusher, and if Jaelan Phillips is the top EDGE on their board, he would be a perfect fit for them in a trade-down scenario.
Pick 42 – iOL Landon Dickerson, Alabama
In this mock draft, the Giants went defense in round one. But New York has needs on the offensive side of the ball that must also be addressed. According to Paul Schwartz of the NY Post, “it will be a surprise if the Giants do not take an offensive lineman with one of their first three picks” because of their lack of depth on the interior.
Landon Dickerson is another player with medical red flags. He tore his ACL last season and has suffered other significant injuries in the past. However, when healthy, Dickerson is a dominant force on the interior of the offensive line.
Dickerson is a phenomenal run-blocker, earning Pro Football Focusâ€™shighest run-blocking grade in the SEC last season with a grade of 92.8. Landon is also incredibly versatile, a trait Joe Judge values highly. While he might be listed as a center, Dickerson is an option for the Giants because he played multiple positions in college. Dickerson logged snaps at every position on the offensive line during his time at Alabama. He played the majority of his snaps at center, but did play over 200 snaps at right guard in 2019 and could make the transition back there in the pros.
This is a risky draft for the Giants. But it is more about the positions they are targeting. Jaelan Phillips and Landon Dickerson are both players with lengthy injury histories. However, Phillips could be swapped out with Azeez Ojulari or Kwity Paye, and Landon Dickerson could be swapped out with Quinn Meinerz, Creed Humphrey, or Wyatt Davis. Whoever the Giants rate highest at these two positions should be the selections at these picks.
Pick 76 – CB Benjamin St-Juste, Minnesota
It never hurts to have depth in the secondary. Benjamin St. Juste out of Minnesota is a cornerback that fits well in New York’s defensive scheme. He is a tall (6 feet 3 inches) corner with the size and physicality to play outside. St-Juste is aggressive in press coverage, making him a good fit for what Patrick Graham likes to do defensively.
The Giants just signed cornerback Adoree’ Jackson to a big contract. But Adoree’ is another player with an injury history. Additionally, cornerback is a position that is frequently injured. The Giants know all too well what can happen when you have a lack of depth in the secondary (see the 2020 matchup against Cleveland). Adding Benjamin St-Juste provides New York with quality cornerback depth in an outside cornerback that could develop into an eventual starter.
Pick 96 – iDL Tyler Shelvin, LSU
Again, this pick could be a number of interior defensive linemen. But Tyler Shelvin is a talented player in a weak defensive tackle class that the Giants have shown some interest in. Tyler Shelvin stated in a press conference that he has spoken with the Giants, per Usayd Koshul.
Shelvin is a solid nose tackle that could be New York’s Dalvin Tomlinson replacement. Tyler Shelvin is a phenomenal run-defender with great strength and power at the point of attack. The Giants would be finding a likely starter on their defensive line with this pick.
Pick 139 – WR Jaelon Darden, North Texas
At some point in this mock draft, the Giants should add another offensive weapon. In the fourth round, Jaelon Dardon out of North Texas provides great value for the Giants. Darden is looked at as a second-round talent to many draft analysts.
Jaelon Darden is a weapon with the ball in his hands. According to Pro Football Focus, Darden recorded the highest missed tackle rate per touch in 2020 amongst wide receivers at 31%. His missed tackle rate was higher than Kadarius Toney’s (30%). Darden is being slept on as a premier slot receiver. He recorded 16 touchdowns out of the slot (the most in college football) and 935 receiving yards (second-most) in 2020.
Sterling Shepard is set to be the Giants’ starting slot receiver in 2020. But, looking down the road, Darden might be the perfect player for New York to develop as their eventual slot receiver once Shepard’s contract expires.
The Giants turned their defense into a dominant unit in this mock draft. New York found a new starting edge rusher in round one, added depth at cornerback in round three, and secured their Dalvin Tomlinson replacement at nose tackle with their second third-round pick. The Giants did all this while improving their interior offensive line and adding an offensive playmaker to the mix. Overall, this is a trade-down mock draft scenario that Giants fans would be ecstatic about. The Giants addressed all of their biggest needs with talented players, making five selections in the first four rounds. Trading down is something the Giants need to consider in 2021 more than ever.
With Sam Darnold having moved on, ESM envisions how the New York Jets’ replenished draft haul will look come April/May.
Sam Darnold is gone, resolving the question of his New York Jets fate. Now, another rises in his place: now what?
Following Darnold’s dealing to Carolina earlier this week, the Jets now hold ten picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, which begins on April 29. The last came from the Panthers along with two further choices in next year’s selections.
With Darnold’s New York term ended, how should the Jets spend this surplus? In the immediate aftermath, it’s a terrific note on Douglas’ resume that he has earned the Jets double-figure offerings in a single draft. But draft day quantity, of course, is never a guarantee of quality. The Jets learned that lesson the hard way during the 2014 proceedings. Then-general manager John Idzik held a dozen picks in the final draft in New York, but none of them remain on the Jets’ current roster and, in fact, only one (fourth-rounder Dakota Dozier, now a starting blocker in Minnesota) partook in NFL action last season.
How can the Jets make the most of their excess choices, especially in the wake of the Darnold news? ESM investigates through a full New York mock…
1st Round (2nd overall): QB Zach Wilson, BYU
One of the biggest wins of the Darnold trade was that the Jets now have an official deadline for their current quarterback controversy: the evening of April 29, after they make their second pick. Deshaun Watson is out for obvious reasons and they certainly won’t entrust Week 1 starting duties to Mike White or James Morgan. Thus, it’s a near-certainty that they’ll choose a non-Trevor Lawrence thrower with the second overall choice.
With a New York triumvirate (Joe Douglas, Robert Saleh, Mike LaFleur) in tow for his pro day in Provo, it’s beginning to look like a Wilson-based future for the Jets. ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter took it a step further, flat out texting Wilson “Welcome to New York” after the Jets-Panthers deal was completed. With this move, Douglas has officially solidified the Jets as his “own”, as the modern Jets will work with a head coach and quarterback exclusively chosen by the current GM.
So the Jets have traded Darnold, the latest of several offseason moves that have made them a better team on paper (if only because there’s nowhere to go but up after a 2-14 campaign). But their offensive line negligence has only gained a brighter spotlight. Dan Feeny and Corey Levin are acceptable options for depth, but they’re not guys that are going to push the Jets’ offensive needle in the right direction.
Dickerson, on the other hand, can be a difference-maker. Going 23rd would almost be an injustice to the 6’6, 325 lb. national champion, who was injured on a scoring play during the SEC title game. It was the last of several injuries he endured in Tuscaloosa, which has served as a red flag in several teams’ draft preparation. But Dickerson’s loss in position could be the Jets’ gain, as he brings an impressive resume that goes beyond his championship ring. He’s the current holder of both the Rimington and Jacobs Blocking trophies (sharing the latter with teammate Alex Leatherwood) and was a unanimous All-American last year.
2nd Round (34th overall): LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa
The hullabaloo around a new quarterback…as well as some shrewd offseason maneuvering from Douglas and Co…has somewhat masked the fact that the Jets still have some defensive renovations to make. One of the smarter moves of Douglas’ winter was bringing in Carl Lawson and Jarrad Davis, both of whom have extensive experience with the 4-3 defense that Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich are set to install in New York.
Don’t be surprised if the Jets take a similar approach on draft weekend. Collins is among the top, if not at the top, of the 4-3 linebackers in the coming class. He likewise brings in a sizable trophy case to his NFL destination, one that includes the AAC Defensive Player of the Year Award (guiding the Golden Hurricane to an undefeated regular season in conference play) and the Chuck Bednarik Award (whose previous three winners include Minkah Fitzpatrick, Josh Allen, and Chase Young). Critics feel like Collins would have to improve his physicality to move into the first round proper, but he’s the type of day two pic that can contribute immediately.
As the post-Jamal Adams carries on, the Jets are still relatively thin in their secondary. Their safeties are on relatively solid ground…having franchise-tagged Marcus Maye and working on Ashtyn Davis as a project. But they’re still understaffed in the cornerback spots, where the current top options are veteran newcomer Justin Hardee (who’s primarily used on special teams) and raw, young talents like Bless Austin and Bryce Hall.
Thus, it’s worth exploring some cornerback options on day two, some more proven potential that can contribute immediately. Perhaps unfairly, Adebo has seen his stock fall after opting out of the 2020 season. He was previously projected to be among the first safeties to go in Mel Kiper’s 2020 draft board. He’s thus another project, but he has at least has some proven potential to work with (primarily as a player with the “ballhawk” classification) and could insert himself into a starting lineup fairly quickly.
3rd Round (86th overall): T Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa
The Jets have a perfect opportunity to make up for their relative inactivity in terms of upgrading their protection through the extra picks gained on the first two days. Their thrower’s blindside is protected through the first-round arrival of Mekhi Becton last season, but their questions on the right side. George Fant appears to be back in the starting lineup with Chuma Edoga behind him.
Brown, an FCS standout, could provide the proper heat to a veteran like Fant on the right side. His 2020 showcase has been thrown into disarray with uncertainty in what was Division I-AA football, but Brown managed to impress at both the Senior Bowl and UNI’s pro day. He has earned particularly strong reviews for his pass blocking and, in lieu of partaking in UNI’s ongoing shortened year, has been training with former All-Pro blocker (and Saleh’s fellow San Francisco alum) Joe Staley.
The Jets have an interesting running back situation. Signing Tevin Coleman can not only give the offense a proven weapon both on the ground and through the air, but also take the pressure off the new quarterback.Â Behind Coleman is a trio of projects who have raw potential: La’mical Perine, Ty Johnson, and Josh Adams. It wouldn’t be surprising for the Jets to add an upstart rookie to create a training camp competition. The addition of Coleman allows the Jets to address other areas over the first few rounds.
A failed drug test suspension kept Stevenson, a former JUCO star at Cerritos College, out of the Sooners’ College Football Playoff trek at the end of the 2019-20 season, as well as the first five games of last year’s campaign. He nonetheless led the Sooners with 665 rushing yards (6.6 average carry), capped off by a dominant 186-yard showing in OU’s dominant Cotton Bowl victory over Florida. Stevenson’s build (230-240 lbs.) could also allow the Jets to reestablish a fullback role, especially with Saleh and LaFleur knowing the benefits of such a position, having worked with Kyle Juszczyk in San Francisco. The Jets toyed with tight end and 2019 draftee Trevon Wesco in the spot over the last two seasons, but more or less abandoned the project last year.
5th Round (146th overall): WR Shi Smith, South Carolina
At receiver, the Jets did a solid job of upgrading their receiving weaponry for the incoming quarterback. In addition to Coleman (111 receptions from 2016-19 with Atlanta and San Francisco), they added promising young veterans Corey Davis and Keelan Cole to a group that already includes Denzel Mims and Jamison Crowder. But the third day of the draft would be a good time to find some depth.
Smith could be a potential project, especially one in the slot with Crowder due to hit free agency next year. His development in Columbia was slightly hampered by the Gamecocks’ unstable quarterback situation, but he still garnered some professional looks for his speed and athleticism (which could allow the Jets to establish the screen). Smith’s 57 receptions earned last season were good for fifth in the SEC’s shortened 2020 season. He can also add a little heat to the Jets’ return situation, currently headed by Corey Ballentine and Braxton Berrios, as he was second in the conference with a 21.9 kick return average during the 2019 campaign (albeit on a 12-return sample size).
5th Round (154th overall): S Ar’Darius Washington, TCU
As Brian Poole remains unsigned, the Jets could use a nickel/dime upgrade while potentially working on a safety project. While Washington’s size (5’8, 178 lbs.) is a concern, his ball skills make him an intriguing prospect to work with in the secondary. The underclassman has constantly defied odds, not only working his way through a tough size situation but also making an immediate Fort Worth impression by winning the Big 12’s Defensive Freshman of the Year Award. Working with Hardee could also allow him to make an impact on special teams.
6th Round (186th overall): TE Matt Bushman, BYU
At tight end, Chris Herndon is the one player left over from the Jets’ new uniform showcase in the early stages of 2019. While they did add Tyler Kroft…who will be a decent goal line option…Herndon still appears to be the top man in the position. Adding Bushman would not only put some heat on Herndon but also give Wilson a friendly face to work with in his NFL debut. Though Bushman missed all of the Cougars flirtation with a New Year’s Six bowl with an injury, he was their top receiver in 2019, notably uniting for 91 yards on six receptions in their final collaboration in the Hawaii Bowl.
6th Round (227th overall): K Jose Borreagales, Miami (FL)
The current pick gained from the Panthers in the Darnold trade can allow the Jets to address one of their most problematic areas: kicking. With an offense still struggling to consistently visit the end zone, having a reliable kicker will be vital if they want to remain competitive. Since the Pro Bowler Jason Myers left for Seattle two offseasons ago, the Jets have gone through six different kickers. The most recent pair (Sam Ficken and Chase McLaughlin) remain on the roster, with a competition potentially set to ensue. Last year’s draft showed that they wouldn’t hesitate to use a pick to bolster their special teams, using their last on Texas A&M punter Braden Mann.
New York needs a reliable name as their leg, and the primary boot in this draft is Borreagales. A native of Venezuela, Borreagales established himself as a South Beach kicking legend, first starring at Florida International before spending a fifth season with The U. Mirroring Mann’s Ray Guy Award, Borreagales would bring a Lou Groza trophy with him as the current holder. He was successful on all 35 of his extra point attempts last season and was 18-of-20 on field goals. One conversion was a 57-yard boot in a September win over Louisville, a primetime showdown that saw him score 17 points in a 47-34 win.
The New York Giants knocked the ball out of the park in free agency. They addressed their biggest need by signing wide receiver Kenny Golladay as their new alpha dog offensive weapon. The Giants then made another splash with Adoree’ Jackson, upgrading their second cornerback position and giving them one of the best secondaries in the NFL.
The Giants also addressed their edge rusher position, adding a couple more rotational pieces in Ifeadi Odenigbo and Ryan Anderson. But one positional weakness went mostly untouched. The Giants added one depth piece to the interior of their offensive line (Zach Fulton) but did not make a significant upgrade to the position.
The Giants’ offensive line is the biggest weakness on the roster. Their guards are unreliable and unproven. New York needs to upgrade its interior offensive line. Thankfully, the 2021 NFL Draft should provide the Giants with an abundance of IOL options in round two.
Second round interior offensive lineman prospects
Ohio State’s Wyatt Davis is arguably the top interior offensive line prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. If the Giants were able to land Davis in round two, they are getting an instant starter at right guard. Wyatt Davis has actually drawn comparisons to former Giants right guard Kevin Zeitler. He would be a perfect scheme fit and replacement to Zeitler for New York.
But Wyatt Davis is not guaranteed to be on the board at 42 overall. There is a chance Davis gets drafted in the back end of the first round. However, if he is there for the Giants in round two, Wyatt Davis would be a home run selection. Wyatt Davis totaled 865 pass-block snaps in his career at Ohio State. On those snaps, Davis allowed only 4 sacks and 1 quarterback hit (PFF). He is a phenomenal pass protector and a mauler in the run game. Davis could start instantly on the Giantsâ€™ offensive line.
If you want an athlete on the offensive line, then you want Creed Humphrey out of Oklahoma. Per Anthony Treash of Pro Football Focus, Creed Humphrey ran a quicker short shuttle at his pro day (4.46) than Jerry Jeudy did at the 2020 NFL Combine (4.53).
The left-handed center out of Oklahoma dominated at his Pro Day. Creed Humphrey put up ridiculous numbers, like his 5.09s 40-yard dash, his 33-inch vertical at 6 foot 4 inches, 312 pounds, and his 29 reps on the bench.
Humphrey is a premiere pass-protecting center. According to Pro Football Focus, Humphrey allowed only 28 pressures over the last three years on nearly 1,300 pass-blocking snaps. While he did play center in college, many feel as though Creed has the talent to play offensive guard at the NFL level. This could make him a great fit for the New York Giants in the second round.
One of the draft’s biggest risers this year is Wisconsin-Whitewater’s offensive line prospect Quinn Meinerz. The division-three hog molly was absolutely dominant at the 2021 Senior Bowl, sending him skyrocketing up draft boards.
Quinn Meinerz is another prospect that lit up the theoretical scoreboard at his Pro Day. Per Anthony Treash of PFF, Quinn Meinerz at his pro day surpassed the 90th percentile historically among iOL in the 40, vertical, broad, short shuttle, and 3-cone.
Throughout his collegiate career, Meinerz played offensive guard exclusively. At the Senior Bowl, he took his first reps at center and impressed every scout at the event. He did not face or competition during his playing days at Wisconsin-Whitewater, but he dominated the NFL prospects he faced at the Senior Bowl. Knowing how much the Giants enjoy drafting Senior Bowl standouts, Quinn Meinerz could be a legitimate option in round two.
The Giants took a couple of risks this offseason on free agents with injury histories. Kenny Golladay played only 5 games in 2020, but they still handed him $18 million on average annually. Adoree’ Jackson played only 3 games in 2020, yet they also gave him $13 million on average annually.
Alabama interior offensive lineman Landon Dickerson tore his ACL in 2020 and missed the College Football playoffs. But he is still an intriguing option for the Giants to consider in the second round.
Dickerson is a phenomenal run-blocker, earning Pro Football Focus’s highest run-blocking grade in the SEC last season with a grade of 92.8. Landon is also incredibly versatile, a trait Joe Judge values highly. While he might be listed as a center, Dickerson is an option for the Giants because he played multiple positions in college. Dickerson logged snaps at every position on the offensive line during his time at Alabama. He played the majority of his snaps at center, but did play over 200 snaps at right guard in 2019 and could make the transition back there in the pros.
Despite his talent on the field, Dickerson is a player that many teams will avoid drafting due to his medical history. Dickerson tore his ACL as a freshman in 2019 at Florida. He then suffered a significant ankle injury in 2020 that caused him to miss nine games. Then, of course, the torn ACL in 2020. Landon has suffered a significant injury every season of his career. If he can stay healthy at the next level, Dickerson has the talent to be one of the best interior offensive linemen in the NFL.
The outlook is unclear for the New York Giants going into the draft after they addressed some of their big needs in free agency, but Pro Football Focus sees the franchise focusing on the offense when the time comes. The Giants have of course already added a premier weapon in wide receiver Kenny Golladay, but a team can never have too many threatening receivers, and there is a chance the Giants will be able to take one of the best players in the college game with the 11th pick.
That player is the current Heisman winner DeVonta Smith, who could fall due to his National Championship injury and LSU star Ja’Marr Chase being the preferred prospect. The two round mock draft sees the Giants managing to land him at an undervalued spot.
DeVonta Smith’s reported weight (170 pounds) shouldn’t keep the Giants from pulling the trigger on the Heisman Trophy winner if he falls into their laps at No. 11 overall. And while the team did just break the bank for former Detroit Lions receiver Kenny Golladay, Smith is an instant upgrade over Darius Slayton or Sterling Shepard â€” one who will benefit from playing a rotational role split between the outside and the slot.
Similar to Miami’s situation with Tua Tagovailoa, New York needs to do everything it can to see if Daniel Jones can be â€œthe guyâ€ for the franchise before making the decision to either move on from him or offer an extension. Adding Smith is a step in that direction.
Taking a look at round two
There’s been a lot less talk and discussion about which player the Giants will take in the second round, but that will be important too. If the mock draft is accurate, the player that the Giants will settle for in round two is Alabama center Landon Dickerson.
This is of course a pick that would have a chance of improving the offensive line right away by giving competition to Nick Gates, who doesn’t look like the long term option at the spot. He came into the league as an undrafted free agent, after all. Gates has overachieved to get in the spot he’s in, but at the end of the day, the Giants would benefit from someone with a higher ceiling.
Joe Judge was notably a former part of the staff at Alabama. It won’t be surprising if the Giants end up taking at least one player from the Crimson Tide in the draft, considering how Judge has already brought over some of the hallmark cultural aspects of college football’s top dynasty.
Even if the Giants don’t take Smith, that player may end up being Dickerson, who recently showed off with cartwheels that he’s over an ACL injury that might have raised questions for scouts.
The New York Giants are actively clearing cap space this week. They cut two veterans, Golden Tate and David Mayo, to clear over $8 million in cap space. But the Giants’ front office is not done yet. Now, there are reports that the Giants are looking to move on from guard Kevin Zeitler.
According to Jason La Canfora, the Giants are trying to move Kevin Zeitler and via trade due to his high salary cap hit. However, if they cannot find a trade partner, New York will likely release their starting right guard to free agency. Cutting/trading Zeitler would clear around $12 million in cap space for the Giants.
Of course, it is still possible for Zeitler to return to New York. The Giants could restructure or extend Kevin to clear cap space and keep him around simultaneously. But if the team truly does decide to move on from the 31-year-old veteran, they will need to find his replacement. There will be a number of free-agent offensive guards on the market this month, but looking ahead to the 2021 NFL Draft, there will also be a prime list of targets for the Giants to consider in April.
2021 NFL Draft offensive guards for the Giants to target
It would be difficult for the Giants to replace Kevin Zeitler’s consistency on their offensive line. He let up only 28 pressures in the 2020 season and was the Giants’ best offensive lineman. Yet, there are some intriguing prospects that could develop into quality starters for the Giants in this year’s draft.
The top offensive guard for the Giants to target is a player that has drawn comparisons to Kevin Zeitler. Right guard Wyatt Davis out of Ohio State is unlikely to be there for the Giants in the second round. However, if he is there, New York would hit a home run by selecting him. Davis is a player the Giants could even consider trading up to select at the end of round one if they need to replace Zeitler.
Wyatt Davis totaled 865 pass-block snaps in his career at Ohio State. On those snaps, Davis allowed only 4 sacks and 1 quarterback hit (PFF). He is a phenomenal pass protector and a mauler in the run game. Davis could start instantly on the Giants’ offensive line.
Joe Judge loves versatility. Alabama offensive lineman Landon Dickerson is as versatile as they come. While he might be listed as a center, Dickerson is an option for the Giants because he played multiple positions in college. Dickerson logged snaps at every position on the offensive line during his time at Alabama. He played the majority of his snaps at center, but did play over 200 snaps at right guard in 2019 and could make the transition back there in the pros.
Unfortunately, Landon Dickerson suffered a torn ACL last season. This does make him a risky selection early in the draft. But if he is able to recover from this injury, odds are, Dickerson will be a high-quality NFL offensive lineman.
Another Alabama product could be an intriguing option at offensive guard for the Giants in this year’s draft. Deonte Brown played primarily left guard for Alabama in 2020, but he did play over 500 snaps at right guard in 2019. Brown has demonstrated the ability to play on either side of the center.
Brown is the definition of a hog molly. He’s humungous at 6 feet 4 inches, 350 pounds. Deonte Brown is a brawler that wins with brute force. He never surrendered a sack in his three-year collegiate career and has plenty of power out of his stance. While he might not be the most refined prospect, Deonte Brown is a player the Giants could consider in the middle rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft.