Foreward: I’ve been horribly wrong about the Giants draft before, and I’ve been laser-like in my accuracy before. Biggest gaff? Probably angrily slamming my fists into my steering wheel when the radio announced that instead of Notre Dame G Zack Martin, the Giants would be selecting LSU WR Odell Beckham Jr. Hand up folks, that one is on me. Where have I been right? Applauding the Landon Collins pick, and stressing patience on his development into his natural position. So I’m hitting on like a 40/60 clip.
2017 Draft is here. Which each draft that inches the Giants back towards championship contention, the following draft becomes that much more important. How important has the draft process–drafted players and undrafted free agents including–been in the last 4 years? Running list of contributing players from drafts since 2013 (including one that recently departed in free agency): Justin Pugh, Jonathan Hankins, Odell Beckham, Weston Richburg, Nat Berhe, Devon Kennard, Landon Collins, Bobby Hart, Will Tye, Eli Apple, Sterling Shepard, Darian Thompson, Paul Perkins, Andrews Adams; with the jury still out on Ereck Flowers, BJ Goodson, Jerrell Adams.
This is one of the more unique drafts I’ve followed in the last few years. There is tremendous uncertainty at the top of the draft, and ambiguity at virtually every selection in the first round. There’s medical red flags, character red flags, production red herrings and everything in between. The primary factor fueling this uncertainty is the lack of sure fire quarterback prospects. Teams routinely selecting near the top of the draft have serious QB issues, and this year is no different. Cleveland, San Francisco, Chicago, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams and the Jets are all teams with records that secured top six selections and suffered from putrid QB play. LA won’t be able to select in deserved slot because they pawned off their first round pick this year to Tennessee in order to rectify the quarterback problem last year. Any chatter about a quarterback being selected in one of these slots hasn’t risen above a whisper, unlike recent years that involved sure-fire top picks in Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. Without confidence in a quarterback prospect, teams are less likely to hitch their wagon to one when the pool of talent outside QB is loaded.
As a consequence of QB dearth, the names associated with the Giants slot are constantly changing. I’ve not been able to confidently construct a mock draft because of how uncertain this entire process feels. I certainly know what the Giants need, and that’s an offensive tackle. Naturally, the OT pool is as uninspiring as the QB pool. That doesn’t mean there aren’t quality players, but there isn’t a Jack Conklin or Ronnie Stanley. Additionally, there is a need for DT, DE, RB and LB, and with considerations for Manning’s age, the Giants are also keeping an eye on available QB. With considerations for best player available, immediate need and future need, I believe the players most likely to be selected are:
- University of Florida LB Jarrad Davis: Davis’ off the field record is impeccable, and he’s the of the team captain mold that the Giants have loved to select in recent year. They have an immediate need for an impactful linebacker.
- Utah T Garrett Boles: Limited football action? The Giants selected a similar athletic freak in Jason Pierre-Paul with limited football action several years back. That turned out pretty well too. If the offensive line isn’t addressed and it’s again the chronic issue that it was in 2016, Jerry Reese is going to be flipping burgers on that seat of his.
- Florida State RB Dalvin Cook: There’s talk of off-field issues that would typically preclude the Giants from selecting a player like Cook, but Jimbo Fischer is a known for his draft-process honesty when it comes to his players. He’s on record for a ringing Dalvin Cook endorsement, and with that out of the way, you can salivate at the tangibles. The Giants have a serious need for running back that can create explosive players running and catching the ball out of the backfield. Shane Vereen’s future is uncertain and Paul Perkins is still largely unproven.
- Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham: He’s the OLB with a skill set similar to Leonard Floyd, who the Chicago Bears famously snatched from the Giants in last years draft. If Jerry Reese shows up at your pro day, it indicates a serious interest from the Giants front office. Reese checked out Cunningham at the Vanderbilt pro day.
- University of Michigan DE Taco Charlton: Spag’s famously made his bones by having a stable of defensive linemen to torment Tony Romo, Brett Favre and Tom Brady in the winter of 2008. Charlton is 6’6 and 278 lbs, with length and speed similar to Jason Pierre-Paul. Unsure because they just signed JPP and OV long-term in back to back seasons? They signed DRC and Jack Rabbit in two of the last three off-seasons, and then drafted Eli Apple last year. Behind those two defensive ends, the Giants have nothing to hang their hat on.
What about Miami TE David Njoku? The Giants signed Matt Lacosse, Will Tye and Rhett Ellison were all signed this off-season, and Jerrell Adams is already on the roster. In Jerry Reese’s 13 seasons being involved in the Giants draft process, they have never valued Tight End very high.
That being said, if OJ Howard slides to 15, I could foresee a scenario where the Giants try and leap frog into a position to acquire him. Precedent? Landon Collins, who slid to the beginning of the second round and was so high on the draft board, they could not pass him up. Like his Alabama brother, Howard might be too good to pass up considering his versatility and explosiveness.
Also, if the Giants select DeShaun Watson, or any quarterback for that matter, I might go nuclear. That is the hill I am willing to die on. This team has so many more pressing needs that taking a project quarterback in the first round would be INSANE.