Scott Thompson, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The NFL Scouting Combine has been in full swing this week, but the real scouting begins on Thursday when the quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends kick off drills to see which prospects can stand out among the rest.
Here’s who the Giants should be keeping a close eye on when it all begins at 4 p.m…
1) Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy
Do the Giants have other needs to address with the No. 4 overall pick than to take an offensive playmaker? Absolutely.
But Jeudy, who said he was going to run a 4.34 40-yard dash despite scouts believing he’s in the high 4.4/low 4.5 range, could impress GM Dave Gettleman & Co. enough to believe that he can be Daniel Jones’ No. 1 receiver for years to come.
Mock drafts have pegged Jeudy to go to the Giants despite another actual needs like edge rusher, offensive line, linebacker and more. Jeudy is arguably the best wide receiver prospect in this draft, with Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb also in the running. He has the route-running abilities, steady hands, devastating moves in open space, and can get up for the deep ball.
He checks off all the boxes you’d want in a No. 1 receiver, and Gettleman has already shown Giants fans that he is content with passing up on a major need to take a great playmaker like he did in 2018 with Saquon Barkley. Keep that in mind while watching Jeudy put on a show as expected.
2) LSU WR Justin Jefferson
Jefferson couldn’t have had a better junior season with the National Championship-winning Tigers, as presumptive first overall selection QB Joe Burrow (who won’t be throwing on Thursday) was trigger happy when it came to him and Ja’Marr Chase, the Fred Biletnikoff winner for being the country’s best wideout of the year.
After collecting 54 receptions for 875 yards and six touchdowns in 2018, Jefferson boosted those numbers to 1,540 yards and 18 scores this past year on his way to a title. Some believe that production made him a first-round pick, and his Combine numbers could solidify that. For the Giants, though, they might want to pray it doesn’t.
Because the Giants have a high second-round pick, and Jefferson is someone who might be able to slip to that spot. Jefferson would compliment the Giants’ current receving corps perfectly as a big target (6-foot-3) with solid speed (projected 4.5 40-yard dash) and a natural knack for hauling in long balls. Burrow loved to go deep to Jefferson and he always came up with the rock in the end.
3) Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts
Hurts’ college story has been one of relentless hustle to prove he can be a leader. And he did just that with Oklahoma last season after transferring from Alabama, who pivoted to Tua Tagovailoa.
Hurts saw an opportunity to hit the transfer portal and play for Lincoln Riley and the Sooners, and it was the best decision he made as he produced his best college season. He threw for 3,851 yards, ran for 1,323, and had a whopping 52 total touchdowns combined passing and rushing. That’s insane.
But even after putting up those numbers — and showcasing great leadership qualities on and off the field — Hurts is projected to be a mid-round selection. The Giants do have Daniel Jones in place as their franchise quarterback, but with Eli Manning retiring, Hurts could be drafted to be a backup. His rushing abilities could be used as a weapon if Joe Judge and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett are creative enough.
4) LSU TE Thaddeus Moss
We can’t forget about the tight ends, especially with Evan Engram’s injury history. However, the Giants, once again, are going to bank on the former first-rounder’s health holding up this season. And rightfully so, as a healthy Engram can wreck havoc on a defense.
But, like Jones, doesn’t mean he can’t have a backup. Rhett Ellison may be the next roster cut, and Scott Simonson has already been let go. Kaden Smith seems to have impressed the Giants enough to keep.
Enter Moss, the son of legendary wide receiver Randy Moss, but with a completely different skillset. Moss is very good in the blocking game at the tight end position, and has a deceptive ability to get open in the middle of the field. Also, from time to time, he lives up to the name he frequently points to when he scores a touchdown — he did twice in the national title game — after making some insane catches. Those hands he gets from Dad.
Engram could use a solid, young, block-first backup, and if he gets hurt, someone who can step in and make plays. That’s Moss to a tee, and he’s a projected mid-rounder the Giants could scoop up.
5) Notre Dame WR Chase Claypool
Claypool hasn’t even stepped on the field yet, and he’s causing a buzz in Indianapolis. Why? Measurables.
Claypool was measured at 6-foot-4 2/8, and he gained nine pounds since the Senior Bowl to come in at 238. He also has an 80-inch wingspan and almost 10-inch hands at 9 7/8. Is that a wide receiver or a tight end.
Think of Engram: 6-foot-3, 240 pounds out of Ole Miss. Now imagine what both of these guys could be like in the Giants’ offense. Garrett could have fun swapping these two around his formations, using them as matchup nightmares wherever he feels it would work.
As a potential mid-rounder, the Giants should keep their eyes on a guy that could be Engram’s twin.