The time of amateur pre-ordaining is upon us again. With the NFL combine on the horizon, everyone is banging away at the keyboard, predicting who will go where in the NFL draft this year. Amidst the certainty of how good this class is at everywhere except for (naturally) quarterback, I haven’t seen two drafts make the same selections after pick #3. And for the purposes of quelling my anxiety, that does not help. This process always turns out to be unpredictable even in times of certainty. Hard to really know when a certain top-5 pick is going to gasmask himself on Twitter to slide back 7 picks, basically causing 3 teams to move in front of the Giants to select their guys.
Even when accounting for potholes, this year leaves everything to the imagination. Just check out this CBS Sports mock draft–six different analysts, six different picks for the Giants at 23. Beyond this article, I’ve seen DeShaun Watson mocked to the Giants; a surefire way to make me suicidal. I’m beginning to settle on OJ Howard as the Giants selection in the first round, but in the event that both him and David Njoku are gone by the time the Giants are up, I’ve decided to craft a list of my top 5 picks for the 23rd spot.
Of course it is all going to drastically change between now and April 27th, mainly because of free agency. If the Giants lose out on both Jonathan Hankins and Jason Pierre-Paul, you can be your sweet ass defensive line is 2-1 odds of being drafted at 23. If the retain one of them (the likely scenario, as JPP is just got slapped with the franchise tag) the Giants are likely to take an offensive player unless some highly-rated defender slips to 23. I apologize in advance for delivering this kiss of death of every practical and desirable option:
5. Jabril Peppers:
Michigan OLB/S/CB/Swiss Army knife hasn’t received be more of an unheralded prospect relative to his stardom at Michigan. You can attribute that to the visualization involved when scouting and evaluating a player. A GM evaluates and projects players with a certain position in mind. Peppers athleticism and versatility made for a dynamic and multi-faceted player in college, but the increase in uniform talent at the pro level will make his dominance at multiple positions a thing of the past.
To me, he projects a little like Deone Buchanon and Landon Collins–versatile defensive backs with the size and stopping-power to play some linebacker while also possessing the open field coverage ability to stay on the field in nickel and other passing situations. The Giants are no strangers to versatile defensive players either
Defensively, if the Giants are going to retain their front I would compliment that by acquiring a versatile back end defender like Peppers. The better quarterbacks in the league will identify the weak link in the backend and exploit it, in a manner similar to what Aaron Rodgers did in the playoffs. Peppers brings versatility, depth and athleticism.
4. Christian McCaffrey:
I have sung the anti-running back tune for what seems like ages now, and if the options here were Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook, mostly likely it’s a Simon Cowell no from me again. This is the back the Giants signed Shane Vereen to be, a dual-threat back as a fixture of their offense. The addition of a back as versatile as McCaffrey could see him flexed out of the backfield and into the slot, or the target of those misdirection screen plays Ben McAdoo calls on a weekly basis.
There is a part of my brain playing the role of detractor, standing-up on a table and screaming about the offensive line problem. Nobody scouting the draft right now has claimed any of these prospects a lock due to talent. McCaffrey is receiving praise as a Shady McCoy doppelgänger with the pads on, and the Giants are so overdue for a weapon out of the backfield. Any move that 100% solves one of the tri-headed issues of RB-TE-T is okay in my book too.
3. Ryan Ramczyk:
That being said, the issue of offensive tackle has been a thorn in the Giants side for nearly three seasons now. There has been virtually no continuity in a personnel or performance sense. They’ve foolishly reinforced their commitment to Flowers at LT over the past two seasons ad nauseam. Marshall Newhouse…well, if you know me you know how I feel about him…but you’ve likely not read me before so a crash course in Kaline’s Feelings on Marshall Newhouse is in order. Lesson 1: F*** him.
When drafting tackles, you usually err on the side of caution and take ones who come from a pro-style system. Much has been made recently about tackles from the spread versus tackles from a pro-style. It seems as though despite perhaps higher intrigue on the physically gifted, spread-offense oriented tackles, often times they struggle in the NFL (see Luke Joeckel).
Also, let’s not lose sight of the forest for the trees. Sooner–and much sooner than people expect–the Giants are going to turn to a new QB. Have you seen the wonders an established, veteran offensive line does for a young quarterback? Did they talk about Dak and his offensive line in Dallas enough for this point to make sense? Within the next three years, Eli will be gone. There will need to be some stabilizing force on the offense to protect whoever steps in for #10. It being a copy cat league, the Giants might be wise to begin fortifying the offensive line for both the immediate and future needs.
2. David Njoku:
This would be a consolation prize. Njoku has height, speed and athleticism to be a great Tight End option for the Giants offense. Still, he falls short of my number one desire in the NFL draft..
- OJ Howard:
The Alabama Tight End has found his way into my dreams. Quite literally though: I dreamt the Giants selected him in the first round, the news of which sent me into a joyous frenzy. Given the inconsistency of the mock drafts so far, I can’t quite tell if he is within striking distance. I’ve watched two draft eligible players this past season who I thought would be slam-dunk professional players: Myles Garrett and OJ Howard. Since I’ve got nothing more than a prayer in selecting Garrett, I’ve hitched my wagon to the Howard train and hope that he is
Larry Donnell’s successor the Giants starting tight end (because Larry Donnell’s successor is such a backhanded compliment).