New York Giants: A mid-round receiving threat to keep an eye on at the Senior Bowl

New York Giants, Shi Smith

The New York Giants love to draft Senior Bowl standouts. Down in Mobile, Alabama, this week, the Senior Bowl is underway. Plenty of lesser-known draft prospects are showing up and showing out in an attempt to boost their draft stocks. Through the first few Senior Bowl practices, a couple of players have already made their presence known.

This year’s wide receiver group at the Senior Bowl is particularly interesting for the New York Giants. The New York Giants are in need of reinforcements on offense. Dave Gettleman and John Mara vowed to add playmakers to the offensive side of the ball this offseason.

This promise to find playmakers has Giants fans mightily excited. Many fans and analysts alike have mocked top wide receivers to the Giants at eleven overall in their mock drafts. But some fans and analysts are a bit contrarian and predict that New York will spend their first-round pick on another position, maybe on defense. If that is the case, then the Giants will need to do one of two things: sign a top-tier wide receiver in free agency or hit on a gem in the later rounds of the NFL Draft.

One wide receiver at the Senior Bowl has been making his name known during practice week. Shi Smith out of South Carolina is standing out amongst the talented receiver options in Mobile this week and could be a target for the Giants in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Shi Smith stats and highlights

Shi Smith is a senior who played four years of collegiate football at South Carolina. In his senior year, though, Smith saw his role increase and elevated his game to another level. In 2020, Shi Smith played 9 games and totaled 633 receiving yards with 4 receiving touchdowns.

Smith projects primarily as a slot receiver in the NFL. He is listed at 5 feet 10 inches, 186 pounds, but works better from the slot with a cushion between him and the defender. Shi also has excellent body control, allowing him to make some spectacular catches.

What really turned heads at the Senior Bowl this week was Shi Smith’s route running. Shi was creating tons of separation on his routes against some of the Senior Bowl’s best cornerbacks.

Superb route running is far more translatable to NFL success than the ability to make contested catches. If Smith can separate this well at the next level, he will be a late-round steal for whatever team selects him in the NFL Draft.

New York Giants: Quarterbacks To Watch At The Senior Bowl

The New York Giants drafted

We know the Giants love to draft players from the senior bowl. Last year’s Senior Bowl MVP, quarterback Kyle Lauletta, was a 4th round selection for the Giants in 2018. In 2017, Giants’ third round pick Davis Webb was the Senior Bowl MVP. They also picked another Senior Bowl standout in the third round of the 2018 Draft: B.J. Hill.

With a history of drafting players who perform in the Senior Bowl, it would not be a surprise if the Giants look to draft another senior quarterback in 2019.

North Team Quarterbacks:

The two most notable quarterbacks on the Senior Bowl North Team roster are Drew Lock and Daniel Jones. They are both projected to be first or second round selections in the 2019 NFL Draft.

The two other quarterbacks are Ryan Finley and Trace McSorley. Neither of them have received first round buzz recently, but they could be mid-round selections that NFL teams will look to turn into developmental players. It is unlikely that the Giants will spend another mid-round pick on a quarterback in 2019, after taking one in 2018. The quarterbacks to watch out of Mobile in 2019 for the Giants are Lock and Jones.

Drew Lock is a senior out of Missouri. In his official Senior Bowl weigh-in, Lock was measured at 6′ 3″, 223 lbs., with a 33.5″ arm length and 9″ hands. On the first day of Senior Bowl practice, Lock excelled.

According to The Draft Network, he was the best of all the quarterbacks. Drew Lock was a statistically great quarterback in his junior and senior years at Missouri. As a junior, Lock threw 44 touchdown passes to 13 interceptions with 3,964 yards. This is certainly his best statistical season. However, Lock played a cleaner game as a senior. He reduced his interception total to only 8 and still added 28 touchdown passes.

Daniel Jones, the NFL prototype out of Duke, struggled in his first practice of the Senior Bowl. He weighed in at 220 lbs. to go along with his 6′ 5″ frame that scouts love. He also has big hands at 9 3/4″ with long 33 1/4″ arms.

Jones struggled with ball placement and timing even during on-air drills, consistently putting balls behind their receivers or forcing them to slow and wait on vertical patterns. Jones improved a little in the 1-on-1s, dropping in a nice corner route for his best throw of the day.

Daniel receives a lot of first round buzz due in part to his former coach. David Cutcliffe is a great quarterback coach who got multiple players ready for the NFL, including Eli Manning and Peyton Manning. Statistically, Daniel Jones will not blow you away. However, he has the prototypical body type and all the physical tools to succeed at the next level, plus the professional coaching.

Ryan Finley out of NC State used to be projected as one of the top quarterbacks in the 2019 draft class. However, after his senior year, he has slipped in prospect rankings. One red flag with Finley is his age. He is 24 years old. That makes him older than all of the first round quarterbacks in last year’s draft, and a year older than second-year pro Patrick Mahomes. However, Finley showed flashes of great play in college. With a great week at the Senior Bowl, Finley’s stock could rise again.

Trace McSorley is an undersized signal-caller from Penn State. He played in a run-heavy offense with Saquon Barkley in 2017. In 2018, McSorley actually threw even less passes for lower statistics. However, he is a dual-threat quarterback. McSorley ran in 11 touchdowns in 2017 and 12 in 2018. In 2018, he totaled an impressive 798 rushing yards. What scouts have seen from McSorley as a thrower is a small sample size. However, his rushing ability is enough to draw him some interest. Trace could use a big week in Mobile to move up the big boards.