No matter what happens in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, only 10 players can be taken before the Giants make their pick at No. 11. So, when so many draft fanatics (you know who you are) cry out “He won’t be there at No. 11!” when one of these Mock Draft exercises gets carried out, sometimes it is an accurate sentiment and often it is not.
For those who cannot fathom this player or that player on the board when the Giants are on the clock, take a deep breath. There should be at least four quarterbacks taken in the top 10 picks. After that, almost anything goes.
The thinking here is the Giants are hell-bent on continuing to improve the league’s 31st-ranked scoring offense and that emphasis that will flow in the early stages of this three-day event.
Round 1 (No. 11) — WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
Previous picks: Waddle; EDGE Azeez Ojulari, Georgia.
Why a wide receiver after opening the vault in free agency for Kenny Golladay? Waddle is a different cat entirely, the closest thing to Tyreek Hill, ball-in-hands, explosive-wise, in this draft. In this simulation, tight end Kyle Pitts, offensive tackles Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater, wideouts Ja’Marr Chase and DeVonta Smith and cornerback Patrick Surtain II were all gone and unavailable to the Giants. There is talk about tackle Christian Darrisaw and linebacker Micah Parsons but Waddle wins out, based on the skill-set he provides and the strong desire to surround Daniel Jones with as many weapons as possible.
Round 2 (No. 42) — EDGE Jaelan Phillips, Miami
Previous picks: LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa; WR Kadarius Toney, Florida.
Inject “What does an NFL pass rusher look like” into the formula and Phillips’ physique might be the result. This 6-foot-6, 260-pound edge rusher has all the goods. He had eight sacks in 2020 and can look like a beast on the field. Why did he drop into the second round? He has a funky medical history that must be thoroughly explored. He actually retired from football after his second concussion at UCLA before reassessing and transferring. The Giants need what Phillips offers and take the gamble.
Round 3 (No. 76) — OL Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa
Previous picks: DL Milton Williams, Louisiana Tech; OL Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin-Whitewater.
This towering (6-foot-8) tackle can and will add bulk to his 311-pound frame and is an athlete — he played tight end and defensive end in high school before converting to the offensive line. He made 14 starts at right tackle in 2019 (he didn’t play in 2020 when his program went to a spring schedule) and brings developmental potential and rookie competition for Matt Peart.
Round 4 (No. 116) — OL Kendrick Green, Illinois
Previous picks: Green; DT Tyler Shelvin, LSU.
Back to back offensive linemen? Why not? Green plays on the interior and could emerge as a rugged and nasty guard at the next level. Lest we forget, Will Hernandez is entering the final year on his contract and was benched by this Giants coaching staff in 2020.
Round 6 (No. 196 overall) — S JaCoby Stevens, LSU
Previous picks: EDGE Malcolm Koonce, Buffalo; Stevens.
Is he, at 6-foot-1 and 212 pounds, an undersized linebacker or an oversized safety? The Giants will hand that puzzle to their brainy defensive coordinator, Patrick Graham. Stevens does his best work closer to the line of scrimmage — he had 21.5 career tackles for loss for the Tigers.
Round 6 (No. 201 overall) — CB Tre Brown, Oklahoma
Previous picks: LB Ernest Jones, South Carolina; LB Justin Hilliard, Ohio State.
While the Giants try to smooth out the rough edges on defense and turn Brown into an NFL slot corner, they will stick him on their special teams units, where he is a relentless and aggressive gunner and coverage demon.