NFL teams convened for their draft meetings this week, grinding through evaluations and debates on prospects to assemble their big boards.
It’s now less than two weeks until the NFL Draft’s first round on April 29, so plans are formulating and rumors continue to swirl.
We’re here as always to answer your Giants questions during this pivotal roster-building month:
If the pick is a defensive player, who do we think it is? — @woodrowdrobert
The four defensive players who ring loudest in my ears as possible Giants defensive picks are Penn State LB Micah Parsons, Alabama CB Patrick Surtain II, South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn and Michigan DE Kwity Paye. Add Notre Dame LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah as a wild card, perhaps in a trade back. The first three names could be off the board before the Giants even pick, but it looks like playmakers on both offense and defense are going to fall since as many as five quarterbacks could go in the Top 10. So that could be a luxury for the Giants but also might make for a difficult decision. These players are among the top defensive prospects on most teams’ boards. Parsons would help the pass rush and the second level. Surtain and Horn would add strong coverage ability and athleticism on the outside. Paye would bolster the front and the pass rush. Owusu-Koramoah would bring a hard-hitting, athletic backer who can cover. Miami DE Jaelan Phillips is the only other defensive player I would envision as possibly going that high, but I am skeptical the Giants would take a risk on a guy who once retired from football temporarily due to concussions, regardless of his elite traits.
If the Giants select Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith at 11, do you think they trade Sterling Shepard or Darius Slayton? — @GiantsVidal1027
If they draft one of the Alabama receivers, I could see Shepard eventually being traded as an expensive veteran who does his best work in the slot, yes. I don’t think you automatically trade a receiver just because you got stronger at the position. Depth and talent are a good thing. But yes I think it’s possible that type of pick could lead to a trade of Shepard down the road. He’s talented and proven enough that he would bring something back in return, too. Slayton is more of a downfield threat who wouldn’t necessarily become a redundancy if the Giants drafted either of those wideouts. Slayton also struggled in Year 2, so I don’t think he’d bring a huge return. Plus, he’s more cost controlled for cap purposes.
You’re Dave Gettleman and on the clock at 11. Waddle and Smith are on the board. You get a call from New England to trade up for Mac Jones in exchange for 15, their second rounder this year, and 2022 first rounder. Are taking one of the premier WRs or trading down? NYG can definitely take an edge at 15. — @dylansingerr
I am 100% trading down for that package, getting a solid player at 15 and continuing my rebuild. On the other hand, the Giants’ sudden win-now philosophy as illustrated by their free agency might prompt them to stay put. Your package sounds way too rich for the Patriots to pay for that jump, though. Maybe New England would give up No. 15, its second rounder (No. 46) and do a late-round exchange, for example. A trade down makes a lot of sense for the Giants to acquire more picks and still get a good player, if the package is right and the board falls a certain way. I wouldn’t blame them for taking a receiver if those two fall there, though. I think the pick would be Smith. And I’m not sure the Giants will get an offer to trade back because I think all top five QBs might get picked (including trades over them) before the Giants even select.
Between Waddle, Northwestern OT Rashawn Slater and Georgia edge Azeez Ojulari, which would be the best value pick and in round 2 which positional direction do we go after the round 1 selection? — @AndrewSpagnolo5
The best value at 11 of those three players is Slater, I think. Versatile lineman who can play both tackle and guard. Depending on what the Giants do in round one, the second round pick could be a receiver, an offensive lineman or a defensive player. Miami’s Gregory Rousseau is a prospect Joe Judge went to see in person (along with teammate Phillips) at Miami’s pro day. Rousseau is a strong possibility as a potential second-round pick if the Giants go offense in round one. Offensive line is a possibility in round two, as well, though. Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg and Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood are a couple of seasoned prospects that might be available when the Giants select at 42 (though I think Eichenberg gets picked before that).
Any draft information you have on prospects the Giants like and don’t like and who they would draft? — @gabdecarvalho
Something I forgot to add in my last mailbag that I want to say here: one of the Giants’ objectives in this draft, in addition to getting good players, will be to acquire more picks if they can. They’re still a roster that needs to rebuild long-term, regardless of their aggressive free agency moves that placed extra pressure on 2021. Getting more picks would help them do that. As far as players they like, these top receivers, pass rushers/linebackers, offensive linemen and corners are all possible best player available candidates at positions of need.
Will Leonard Williams be able to replicate his production from last year? — @jkurop
I think it will be difficult for Williams to replicate his 11.5-sack total, but I do think he can continue to be disruptive enough to change games. Especially if the Giants are able to play better man-to-man coverage in the secondary, Williams might have more time to get to the QB. I also think Williams’ endurance was a great sign in 2020. He played 74% of the Giants’ defensive snaps last season: 147 more than Dexter Lawrence and 144 more than Dalvin Tomlinson. If Williams can continue to stay aggressive and upfield late in games with that kind of workload, he can certainly replicate his effectiveness from 2020.