Just about every draft cycle there comes a point we call the ‘too much analysis leads to paralysis!’ stage. We kind of think we are there for 2021. With less than 20 days until the draft, there likely isn’t going to be a whole lot of new information to assess before the picks actually start coming off the board on the 29th so whatever passes for analysis and debate isn’t much more than people repeating what they’ve been saying for weeks.
The one thing for certainty we can say at this point is that we have genuinely have no clue what the Giants are going to end up doing with the 11th pick and beyond. Bottom line is that they will be just too dependent on what ends up going on around them.
What we can also say with some certainty is that if the Giants are going to stay at the 11th pick they’ll have some very good players to select from. It certainly looks, for example, that 4 QBs will be selected within the top ten picks, and it’s just hard to see how a 5th – Justin Fields of Ohio State – also isn’t selected with a top ten pick despite some questions about his overall game given how many teams out there are in the market big-time for a QB. It also certainly looks like there are at least three legit blue chippers – Florida TE Kyle Pitts, LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase and Oregon OT Penei Sewell – who will be the first non-QBs selected on the 29th. In fact, that group could be four as Alabama WR DeVonta Smith likely isn’t that far behind on boards around the league.
That would get you to nine picks with several blue chips prospects including Alabama CB Patrick Surtain, Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle, Penn State LB Micah Parsons and Northwestern G/T Rashawn Slater still on the board with the Giants one pick away. And, everything else being equal, with Dallas likely to take Surtain, that would leave the Giants with a choice of the other three. In fact, all three are very good prospects and each would fill a need on the Giants roster. Slater would probably be the safest pick of the three, but a pretty good case can be made that both Waddle and/or Parsons would actually do more to make the Giants a more dynamic team that is harder to play against, that is harder to match-up.
Certainly the prospect of those three guys on the board has also provided Giants’ fans with hours of fun arguing back and forth as to which would be the better pick. However, it is not clear at all that in fact is what the Giants themselves are thinking. Indeed, the top prospects at just about every pro day at which Giants’ senior personnel people attended were defensive ends/edge rushers.
We have also heard from several other sources close to the Giants that they would take either Pitts or Smith if they were available at #11, otherwise their top target would be an edge rusher. We also had a source tell us that the Giants really like Waddle, but want to see how he looks at this weekend’s medical testing in Indianapolis. The Giants are also reportedly holding out a smidgen of hope that Alabama might still hold a third pro day as so many of the Tide’s top prospects didn’t run at either of their first two work outs.
And it makes a ton of sense that the Giants are looking at their pass rush, maybe not in the context of filling the team’s most pressing immediate needs, but from the view of building toward a championship level c
lub. Indeed, ask just about anyone around the NFL what are the prime ingredients of a championship team and they’ll tell you need a really good QB, as well as the ability to rush the opposing team’s passer. And right now, other than maybe Leonard Williams, the Giants don’t have any proven pass rushers at all. Indeed, the team that coined the phrase ‘you can never have enough pass rushers’ hasn’t selected an edge rusher with a first or second round pick in over a decade.
The problem for the Giants if, in the end, both Pitts and Smith are selected with top ten picks, that it just doesn’t appear that any of this year’s leading edge-rushing prospects are worth the 11th. Certainly, it is just hard to imagine the Giants passing on blue-chip talents like Waddle, Slater and Parsons for a player rated farther on down the board, at least as reflected in the current rankings of the leading draft analysts.
Of course, the Giants make their picks based on their own board, not the consensus draft guru rankings which do in fact have a half dozen or so athletic edge rushers rated in the 15-25 range including Kwity Paye of Michigan, Az Ojulari of Georgia, Penn State’s Jayson Oweh, Tulsa’s Zaven Collins and the Miami duo of Greg Rousseau and Jaelin Phillips.
Michigan’s Paye is generally considered to be the best prospect of that group, but the guy we keep looking at is Penn State’s Oweh. Joe Judge went to his pro day and we keep from people around the NFL that Oweh is a guy to watch. He’s just such a phenomenal athlete who ran a 4.36 40 at his pro day where he measured in at 6-5, 257 with 34.5 inch arms. Plus, he’s still a young kid who was just a redshirt sophomore this year. Of course, the fact that he was sackless in 7 games this past season – he had 7 as a rotational freshman – is certainly cause for concern but again the word around the league is that he just has an incredible upside. Again, teams aren’t drafting kids to play college football. They are trying to predict who is going to be able to play, and play well, at the next level.
Again, it’s hard to imagine the Giants selecting either a Paye or an Oweh with the 11th pick, but it would make some sense if they were able to break a long-standing tradition and trade down. Of course, with the big-name QBs likely off the board at that point, they aren’t going to get a haul of future first rounders in return. At the same time, though, it’s hard to imagine that there wouldn’t be several teams selecting between the 12th and 20th picks, including for example, Las Vegas at #17, Miami at #18 and Chicago at #20, that wouldn’t be very interested in giving up a late second or early third day pick or picks in order to move up to grab Northwestern’s Slater if he was still on the board.
In fact, we have joked that Slater could end up being the Giants’ M.V.P. at this year’s draft even though we’d say the chances the Giants actually taking him themselves are slim. On the one hand, if Slater did end up being selected before the 11th pick, he just might push one of the receivers that the Giants wanted closer to their spot. And if he was still there at #11, Slater might give the Giants their best chance to drop down several spots to where a DE/ER would make more sense.
In the end, though, we won’t really know for sure until April 29th!! Hang in there!!