One of the biggest mysteries in this year’s NFL Draft is whether the Giants will take a quarterback, and if they do, which of their first-round picks will they use? It’s not even clear which quarterbacks will be available to them at No. 6, or if any of the top ones will be left at No. 17.
For weeks, it has seemed they will go with a defensive player at 6. Lately, some smart NFL people have changed their minds on that. Eli Manning thinks there’s a chance the Giants will use one of those early picks on his likely successor. And adding to the intrigue, the quarterback most often pegged to go to the Giants at 6 – Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins – is now a player some think will be available at 17.
All that’s really clear is that the Giants have scouted the top five quarterbacks in this draft heavily, in the hopes of duplicating what GM Dave Gettleman called “the Kansas City model,” where he gets a young quarterback to sit behind Manning. He has insisted he won’t “force it” though.
Meanwhile, Shurmur said he expects the Giants to get two or three defensive starters, which means the Giants are likely to go defense-heavy during the draft’s first two days.
With all that in mind, here’s a look at how the Giants’ 12 picks could go:
First round (6th overall) – DE/LB Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
There are other possibilities here, including Houston DT Ed Oliver who might be a better prospect, and – of course – a quarterback. But for months, I’ve heard the Giants are enamored with the defensive players at the top of this draft, and weren’t expecting any of the quarterbacks to end up ranked above them on their board.
For now, I’ll stick with that and go with the edge rusher they so desperately need to replace Olivier Vernon. The 6-foot-6, 260-pound Sweat ran a 4.41 at the combine and dazzled at the Senior Bowl. Opinions on him have only gotten better as the process has gone along.
First round (17th overall) – QB Daniel Jones, Duke
I have gone back and forth on this, and I still am. The chorus of people who think the Giants are really interested in the 6-foot-5, 221-pound Jones has grown louder in recent days. And I was absolutely fascinated when Gil Brandt, the Hall of Famer, former Cowboys executive, and SiriusXM NFL Radio godfather, and one of the most well-connected NFL people I know, listed Jones as his No. 2 QB in this draft, ahead of Haskins and Missouri’s Drew Lock.
Brandt talks to more NFL people than anyone and uses those opinions in his rankings. I’m guessing it’s not a coincidence he listed Jones at No. 17 either.
Second round (37th overall) – G Chris Lindstrom, Boston College
If Dave Gettleman doesn’t take his first Hog Molly with the 17th overall pick, you can bet he’ll do it at 37. Otherwise he’ll be going through some sort of withdrawal as he waits for 95. The Giants’ biggest hole is right tackle, but they could always bring in a veteran (Mike Remmers?) to fill that. They also need young players to groom for the future, and the 6-foot-4, 308-pounder is ideal for that. He can play guard or center, and Gettleman thinks interior blockers are as important as tackles.
Third round (95th overall) – S Darnell Savage, Maryland
Shurmur wants 2-3 defensive starters, and this could be No. 2. Jabrill Peppers and Antoine Bethea seemingly are the starters at safety, but with Bethea about to turn 35, there’s an opportunity for a rookie to beat him out. Savage, at 5-foot-11, 198 pounds and with 4.34 speed, could certainly be that guy for the future.
He’s got impressive instincts and is seen as an ideal free safety, who could be just the ball hawk in the back of the defense that the Giants need.
Fourth round (108th overall) – WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford
The Giants’ receiver corps is generally small, especially for a quarterback like Manning who tends to miss high. Arcega-Whiteside is only 6-foot-2, so he’s not going to remind anyone of Plaxico Burress, but he’s got 2-4 inches on most of the rest of the Giants’ corps. He was also productive in college, and an expert at positioning who knows how to catch the ball in traffic.
Fourth round (132nd overall) – CB David Long, Michigan
Defensive coordinator James Bettcher should love this physical corner who likes to press at the line of scrimmage, and then has the speed (4.45) to keep up down the field. He’s a little undersized at 5-foot-11, 196 pounds, but he’s good enough to overcome that.
And the Giants have a huge need here. Janoris Jenkins is their only established starter and he could be gone in 2020. And the other presumed starter, Sam Beal, has yet to play an NFL down.
Fifth round (142nd overall) – C Lamont Gaillard, Georgia
Another interior Hog Molly for Gettleman in a draft where he will be tempted to add several. Gaillard is a little undersized for a center (6-foot-3, 305 pounds), but he’s tough, nasty, smart and a former team captain, which will go a long way for a team trying to rebuild the culture. He can also play guard too, and the Giants love flexibility in their offensive linemen.
Fifth round (143rd overall) – RB Benny Snell, Kentucky
The running game is obviously Saquon Barkley’s show, but the Giants don’t want to overuse him either and they aren’t completely convinced about Wayne Gallman’s long-term potential. In the 5-foot-10, 224-pound Snell, they get a bowling ball who can take some of the short-yardage and goal-line runs from Barkley – basically the ones that take the most toll on a running back’s body.
Overall, he has the potential to be a decent backup, even though with a 4.66 in the 40, he doesn’t have elite speed.
Fifth round (171st overall) – CB Michael Jackson, Miami
Depth at cornerback, given the Giants’ situation, isn’t a bad thing at all. And the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Jackson is a prospect that the more teams see, the more they like. He’s got the speed (4.45) to play corner, but some scouts were so unsure of his skills they thought he’d be a better fit as a safety. Whichever way the Giants see him, he could have a position in their future and there’s certainly value in taking him this low in the draft.
Sixth round (180th overall) – LB Gary Johnson, Texas
This isn’t the first time I’ve mocked him to the Giants around here, and it likely won’t be the last. He’s a big-hitting linebacker who is smart and does a decent job in coverage, particularly against tight ends. He’s only 6-foot, 226 pounds, which is why a player with this much potential will last so long in the draft. His 4.42 speed means he can contribute right away on special teams, too.
Seventh round (232nd overall) – DT Chris Slayton, Syracuse
Another player I keep coming back to for the Giants. He’s got terrific size (6-foot-4, 307 pounds) for an interior defensive linemen, and he won’t need to step in right away so the Giants have time to develop him. His lack of production in college has alarmed some scouts, but his potential upside should work late in the draft for a team with a dozen picks.
Seventh round (245th overall) – OT Isaiah Prince, Ohio State
With the last of his 12 picks, it seems a pretty safe bet that Gettleman will see a big Hog Molly that he thinks he can develop. That fits Prince, who has tremendous size (6-foot-6, 305 pounds) and experience at right tackle, but plenty of issues with his technique and even his overall strength. There’s a lot there for the offensive line coaches to work with, though.