The season is lost, the team is unwatchable, and there’s still two games left for the die-hards to endure. Even worse, with no salary cap space to use in free agency, the short-term future of the Giants doesn’t look very bright.
The good news – maybe the only bit of good news they have – is they’re sitting on two first-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft and both are likely to be in the Top 10. They have their own pick and the one they acquired from the Chicago Bears last April when – in perhaps out-going GM Dave Gettleman’s finest move – they traded down in the last NFL Draft.
How much can those two picks really help, and what can the Giants expect to get for them? There’s still four months to go to sort it all out, but … well, it’s become a sad, late-December tradition for the Giants, but it’s never too early for them to look ahead to the draft:
CURRENT DRAFT POSITION: 5th (with their own pick) and 8th (with the pick they acquired from Chicago, when they sent the 11th pick last year to the Bears for the 20th pick and a package that included a first-rounder in 2022).
HIGHEST PICK THEY COULD GET: Mathematically they could get as high as 2, but that would require them losing out (likely) and the Lions winning out (at Seattle and vs. Green Bay, so no). They’d also need the Texans and Jets to each win once.
LOWEST PICK THEY COULD GET: The strength of schedule is very close (ties go to the worst SOS), but it looks like the Bears’ pick could be as low as 13th, though that would require two Bears wins, two losses by Washington, and two losses by four of these five teams (Atlanta, Denver, Minnesota, New Orleans, Cleveland). And then there’d be tie-breakers.
WHAT THEY NEED: If the top two spots on their list aren’t tackle and pass rusher in either order, they’re looking at the wrong list.
WHAT THEY CAN GET:
Oregon DE/LB Kayvon Thibodeaux – He was considered the prize of the draft for most of the college season and now many see him as at least a sure-fire, Top 2 pick. He’s a 6-5, 250-pound explosive edge rusher who had seven sacks this season and would be the edge rusher the Giants have been seeking for more than a decade. They just need to get into the Top 2 or hope the Jaguars, Texans or Lions decide to go in another direction.
Michigan DE Aiden Hutchinson – A monster, 14-sack season helped him crash Thibodeaux’s party at the top of the draft. At 6-6, 265, he has the look of a dominant defender for years to come. But again, the Giants would have to land in, or trade into, the Top 2 to be sure they’d get him.
Purdue DE George Karlaftis – This isn’t a bad consolation prize if the Giants don’t get into the Top 2 (and stay ahead of the Jets). The 6-4, 275-pounder is a terrific, powerful pass rusher in his own right with maybe the flexibility to line up inside at times, instead of just on the edge. He only had 4.5 sacks last year and 10 tackles for loss, but no doubt he’s got the pass-rushing moves and skills.
Michigan LB David Ojabo – The other pass rusher on the Wolverines’ line, he had 11 sacks and 12 tackles for loss, taking advantage of all the attention opposing offenses placed on Hutchinson. He’s 6-5, 250 with terrific speed and burst and has been incredibly disruptive. He’d be a good fit coming from one side, while current Giants rookie Azeez Ojulari rushes from the other. He could be a good target if the Giants go O-line with their first pick and if their second pick is near the bottom of, or outside the Top 10.
Alabama T Evan Neal – Perhaps you’ve heard: The Giants need help on the offensive line, and right tackle has been a particular black hole. This 6-7, 360-pounder who moves surprisingly well could fill it. And if the Giants have the improving Andrew Thomas on one end and the massive Neal on the other, they’re suddenly off to a pretty good start. He’s a probable Top 5 pick, though.
Ole Miss T Charles Cross – He’s a 6-5, 305-pound athletic left tackle who generally is considered the second best tackle in the draft. Presumably he could switch to the right side, or maybe Thomas would (he played the right side as a freshman in Georgia). They can sort that out later. Cross could be available later in the Top 10 if the Giants go pass rusher first.
Iowa C Tyler Linderbaum – Yeah, he’s a center, not a tackle, but if that Bears pick drops outside the Top 10 this isn’t the worst idea. He’s 6-3, 290-ish, but he was the best center in the country and maybe the best lineman in the Big Ten. He could also switch to guard, if Nick Gates makes it all the way back from his gruesome leg injury and reclaims his center spot. The Giants have such a big hole at tackle, though, this might be hard to justify.
N.C. State T Ikem Ekwonu – A more palatable choice if the Bears pick slides outside the Top 10 could be this 6-4, 320-pounder. He supposedly has 154 “pancake” blocks in the last two seasons (and has a maple syrup bottle for each one to prove it). He’s only been a left tackle, but again, the Giants can figure that out later.
Read more: https://sports.yahoo.com/early-look-giants-could-2022-185201561.html?src=rss