Disclaimer: I don’t like doing mock drafts as a rule, and certainly not before free agency or the pro days take place. But the masses have spoken, so I’m going to give it my best guess about how I think the Giants draft will fall into place.
You know the drill…read, remember it’s just my opinion…and then mock away.
Round 1: RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Sorry folks, but none of these quarterbacks are knocking my socks off to the point where I’d consider them top value at No. 2. If Barkley is there at No. 2, he can be the missing piece to the puzzle, especially if the Giants are able to land Carolina guard Andrew Norwell, as Tony Pauline reports is believed to be a done deal.
Put Barkley behind a revamped offensive line and watch him help turn a one-dimensional Giants offense that for four out of the last five seasons ranked in the bottom third of the league in rushing into a dual threat. And if Barkley isn’t there at No. 2, I look to trade down a few spots.
Round 2: OT Martinas Rankin, 6-5, 315 pounds, Mississippi State
The Giants will likely have to stick with Ereck Flowers at left tackle—if they can land Norwell, you’d like to think that maybe Flowers, who did show a little improvement last year, shows more.
But they also need a new right tackle, and while Rankin is hardly a finished product at this point in his development—he seldom played in a three-point stance—he has enough flexibility in his game to where he could also be developed as an interior player.
NFL.com projects that Rankin’s best position might be at center, but he would clearly need a year of development to make that transition, something the Giants should be able to afford to give him if he’s the pick since Brett Jones is expected to be on the roster in 2018.
Round 3: DE Josh Sweat, 6-4, 251 pounds, Florida State
Sweat has had some injury issues—he had knee surgery in 2016—but if his medical checks are acceptable, he could be a steal at this spot.
Sweat is another athletic individual who can play with his hand in the dirt or standing up. He is fairly smooth with his change of direction and is a solid wrap-up tackler who disengages well from offensive blockers looking to stall his charge.
Round 4: OLB Fred Warner, 6-3, 236 lbs., Brigham Young
The Giants desperately need linebackers and it’s time that a Day 2 resource be devoted to this oft-neglected position. Warner has good closing speed and, according to his NFL.com draft profile, moves like a safety who offers good athletic ability against the run and in coverage.
Warner also has solid instincts, which can’t be taught, and has been a playmaker for the Cougars defense thanks to his speed and anticipation of where the quarterback is going with the ball.
Round 4b: CB Quenton Meeks, 6-2, 205 lbs., Stanford
With the Giants planning to move Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to free safety, they could probably use a depth upgrade at this position, especially if they don’t manage to re-sign Ross Cockrell or if they can’t lead Eli Apple back to the player he was starting to become as a rookie.
Meeks, the son of Ron Meeks, the one-time defensive coordinator of the Colts, has good size and said to be fundamentally sound in his technique. Meeks appears to be strictly an outside corner at this point who can be disruptive in press coverage but whose closing speed has drawn mixed reviews.
Round 5: DL Breeland Speaks, 6-3, 285 lbs., Mississippi
Speaks is a plug-and-play defender who can fit into an odd or even front and offers better than average athletic ability and speed to chase down ball carriers.
He plays with a bit of an attitude which at times can get him into trouble—he needs to be more disciplined in his game so he’s not committing foolish penalties that lead to personal fouls—but he has shown surprisingly good pass rush ability and hustle on the move.
Round 6: ILB Tegray Scales, 6-0, 230 lbs., Indiana
highly productive if slightly undersized inside linebacker who won the Ohio Associated Press Division 1 Co-Defensive Player of the Year as a senior (102 tackles, 13 sacks, two interceptions), Scales’ instincts are regarded as elite which is a big reason he’s managed to be as productive as he has.
He’ll probably need to get stronger at the next level to better shed blocks. Given his instincts and tenacity, he could also be a core special teams player as a rookie.