The opening round of the 2021 draft gets underway three months yesterday and it seems like as good as any to update some of our thoughts from a couple of earlier draft-related pieces. We’ve been making the point that in picking 11th in this year’s first round, it is almost a given that the Giants are going to be looking at several very prospects. The implication is that the Giants just have to sit there are they’ll be in a position to simply nab the best player available that slips through the top 10.
However, that’s not really the way teams actually approach the draft. In fact, the Giants have gone into every draft over the past two decades with one of two goals in mind. Either they have been looking at a particular player (or players) that they really liked: think JPP in 2010 or Leonard Floyd and/or Jack Conklin (neither of whom they were able to get) in 2016. In other years, though – think 2009 at WR and the offensive line in 2015 – the Giants have gone into the draft with the specific goal of addressing in one way or another a specific position. Last year, for example, it was pretty obvious that from day one the goal was to finally try and fix once and for all the situation at LT.
Of course, the Giants themselves are almost never going to publicly say what their primary goal is in any particular year and part of the fun and challenge in trying to understand the whole draft process is reading the tea leaves to see what clues one can pick up. Last year, for example, there was almost nothing; however, the Giants have in many ways been a little more forthcoming than usual so far this year. Owner John Mara and G.M. Gettleman, in particular, both made little secret of the fact in their post-season comments that the Giants really wanted to get faster and more explosive at the skill positions on offense.
And in hearing those comments and knowing the roster, it probably doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that there is a very good likelihood the Giants will go into this April’s draft with the primary goal of getting one of this year’s elite WRs, either Ja’Marr Chase of LSU or one of the Alabama duo of DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle.
That’s the easy part! The harder part is figuring out the myriad of ‘what ifs?’ associated that are likely going to be associated with that goal. The first ‘What if?’ for example, likely will be what do you if a couple of those receivers are off the board as early as the 5th-6th picks. Do you trade up to get the guy whose left? Probably not, but it is certainly something that the Giants would have to consider. And they certainly haven’t been shy about trading up to get a they’ve targeted in recent years, but the cost – likely a 3rd rounder – might be a tad too much in a year in which they only have 6 total picks as well as other areas they’d almost assuredly also want to address.
The caveat in that scenario is where would Florida TE Kyle Pitts fit. Would he in fact be considered to be a 4th receiver or would be something of a fallback. Hard to know the answer without knowing how the Giants have him graded or how the coaching staff would regard him as a potential fit. If gets a top 5 grade, for example, he would be very likely be considered as a 4th receiver on the short list. On the other hand, if he isn’t considered to be a top 5 guy then he’d more than likely be a more of a potential fallback.
And that leads to the second ‘What if?’ question and that would be what to do if the targeted receivers are off the board when the Giants get on the clock with the 11th pick. Certainly one would think that Pitts, if he was still available, would be an option. However, it would not appear at this time that it is likely that there will be any other WRs worth the 11th pick. In fact, the only one that is even close at this time is Kadarius Toney of Florida, who is currently rated in the low 20s, but he is another fast, explosive receiver who could move closer to the top 10 if he times well in pre-draft testing. Right now, though, he’d be a bit of a reach at #11.
The other tea leaf that appeared during the Giants’ post-season wraps was when head coach Joe Judge noted in his presser what an impact the fact that they didn’t have anyone in the secondary who could cover other than James Bradberry had on what they could do on offense. I’m not sure you would necessarily have to use the 11th pick to address that, but it would make a lot of sense that if the top receivers were gone by the time the Giants got on the clock that the fallback could come down either Pitts (if he were still there) and one of the CBs, either Alabama’s Patrick Surtain or Caleb Farley of Virginia Tech.
In fact, we’ve had a few folks write in wondering if the Giants might consider taking the corner in the opening round anyone as there will be good receivers available in later rounds. That makes some sense, but it’s just not the way NFL teams think and/or draft.
The other question we get is wouldn’t the Giants take a highly rated guy like Penn State LB Micah Parsons or Oregon OT Penei Sewell if they were available at #11. The answer, of course, is yes IF they were rated as potential top 5 picks they would certainly be a possibility if they somehow lasted until the Giants got on the clock. However, top 5 picks just don’t often last until the 11th pick and the question one would have to ask oneself is ‘if a player you have rated as a Top 5 prospect is still available at #11 is he really a top 5 guy?’. Time will tell!