It’s long been true that the NFL is a 12-month-a-year enterprise, even if the games are only played for five months. And if the climax of the season is the Super Bowl, then the Super Bowl of the offseason is the NFL Draft. For the New York Giants, the draft has been arguably more exciting than the season itself the last few years. Big Blue hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016, and as a result have had three straight top-10 picks. They’ve taken significant steps to halt that trend this offseason, signing big-money free agents such as Kenny Golladay and Adoree’ Jackson to supplement a young, developing roster. If all goes according to plan, the Giants’ 11th-overall selection this year could be their last in a good while that’s in the top half of the first round.
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In order to get a sense of Big Blue’s possible options come draft day, let’s complete a mock draft for the first 11 picks, culminating with a projection for the which prospect the Giants will take in round one. As a note, this mock draft is based on which choice I believe makes the most sense for each team. Also, I won’t be forecasting any trades that haven’t already been made.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
It doesn’t take too much imagination to call this one. Lawrence going first overall in this draft has been a foregone conclusion for years now. It was just a matter of which team would be fortunate enough to take him. Turns out, it’s Jacksonville.
2. New York Jets – QB Zach Wilson, BYU
Monday’s reported trade of Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers virtually cements that the Jets will take a quarterback. WIlson is now the consensus second-best quarterback in the draft after having his stock rise rapidly over the last few months. You can pretty much write this one in stone, too.
3. San Francisco 49ers (via Miami) – QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
The 49ers all but announced their intention to take a quarterback once they traded up to the third overall pick. The question is, which one do they covet? There are rumors that it’s Alabama’s Mac Jones, but scooping up the more blatantly talented Fields is the simpler, wiser option.
4. Atlanta Falcons – WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
The Falcons find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having their needs conflict with the value on the draft board. Atlanta’s defense is begging for a talent infusion, but the truly elite prospects in this class play offense. Barring a trade down, they go with Chase to provide a succession plan for Julio Jones.
5. Cincinnati Bengals – OT Penei Sewell, Oregon
Pairing former LSU teammates Chase and Joe Burrow back together would’ve been tempting, but with Chase off the board Sewell becomes the prudent choice. Protecting Burrow after his torn ACL from last year is paramount, and Sewell was seen as a generational tackle prospect before opting out of his final college season.
6. Miami Dolphins (via Philadelphia) – WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama
The Dolphins could’ve happily stayed at pick 12 after trading down with the 49ers, but moving back up to six suggests they have a specific player they’re targeting. Smith is a logical fit, given his history with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and his superlative college production.
7. Detroit Lions – WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
After letting Golladay walk in free agency, the Lions receiving corps is about as destitute as they come. Waddle would provide a much needed spark, and give Jared Goff a fighting chance at proving he can be Detroit’s franchise quarterback.
8. Carolina Panthers – TE Kyle Pitts, Florida
The Panthers’ trade for Darnold probably means they’re out of the quarterback market. Now it’s time to give Darnold what he never got with the Jets: help. Pitts is seen by many as the best non-quarterback in this class, and he would immediately become Carolina’s top receiving threat.
9. Denver Broncos – QB Mac Jones, Alabama
The Broncos have been is search of a quarterback since Peyton Manning retired. Two years of the failed Drew Lock experiment have sent them looking once again. This time they opt for the polished, precise, if a tad physically underwhelming pocket passer in Jones.
10. Dallas Cowboys – CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
Dallas’ 28th-ranked defense from last season leaves them little choice but to take the best defender available. Luckily for them, Surtain represents good value at a position of need as the clear-cut top cornerback in the draft. That’s four Alabama players in the top ten, by the way.
11. New York Giants – OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
If things really do shake out this way on draft night, the Giants shouldn’t hesitate to rush Slater’s virtual card to the virtual podium. Big Blue needs to give third-year quarterback Daniel Jones every chance to prove himself as the franchise guy. Offensive line is still an area of concern, and Slater has the versatility to play either tackle or guard depending on which spot needs filling. Slater is a technically sound, powerful yet nimble blocker who many believe is the top lineman in the draft. Other players worthy of consideration are Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, Miami EDGE Gregory Rousseau, and Michigan EDGE Kwity Paye.