What was once thought of as a championship team was nothing more than a figment of our imagination, as we watched the 2017 Giants crumble from the North, South, East, and West. Alas, Week 17 couldn’t arrive soon enough and us Giants fans went right into full draft mode, as an uncommon reality materialized into us possessing the number 2 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Onto the new year we roll Giants nation.
New coaches, new general manager, new culture, as Dave Gettleman returns to his roots in New York, where he was the Pro Personnel Director from 1999-2012. He returns to a roster filled with a popular but ageing quarterback, a questionable offensive line, dearth of depth at linebacker, no true bellcow running-back, locker room tension, an Odell Beckham Jr. contract decision, 19 impending unrestricted free agents, and salary cap issues. Once the new league year starts on March 14th, the Giants will have just over 22 million dollars in cap space, which could go up to just over 28 million if Dominique Rodgers Cromartie is cut from the final year of his contract and just over 30 if Dwayne Harris is added to that short list of useful players that may become expendable. To say that Gettleman is in a difficult situation is an understatement, but he has been through this before. According to Spotrac.com, the 2012 Carolina Panthers were 6,803,460 over the salary cap limit at the end of the league year and Gettleman was able to shed salary and get to positive figures by the commencement of the new league year. Although he did wonders for Carolina’s cap situation and locked up Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, and Kawann Short through the 2020 season, he is a scout at heart and the draft is his bread and butter. Please enjoy my predictive, way too early, pre-combine 7-round mock draft of the New York Football Giants.
Round 1 (Pick 2) – Josh Rosen QB UCLA 6’4” 218
It is not often that a team can transition from a franchise great to a highly regarded prospect, but the Giants have an opportunity to find the heir to the signal calling throne. Rosen has exceptional arm talent, while displaying excellent timing, placement, and anticipation in his throws. His very quick release and accuracy would mesh well with Head Coach Pat Shurmur’s West Coast type of offense. Shurmur has been able to extract the most out of quarterbacks in the past like Nick Foles, Sam Bradford, and Case Keenum, who had career years in his system. Rosen is the most polished and ready quarterback to start day one in the 2018 NFL Draft, but that doesn’t mean the Giants shouldn’t select him due to the presence of Eli Manning. Rosen could still sit behind Manning or possibly show so much early on that it helps facilitate a trade for the Giants great; either way, the option is open and the Shurmur/Gettlemen duo starts off with a Bruin bang.
Round 2 (Pick 34) – Connor Williams OT Texas 6’5” 315
What do new regimes always address early? – the last regimes biggest flaw, which of course Giants fans know is the offensive line and Connor Williams would be an excellent addition in round 2. An athletic left tackle, with excellent bend and a powerful punch. He has success in Gap/Counter, Zone working to the second level, and in pass protection. There are possibilities he could slide this far due to MCL damage in his left knee, and we saw a talented tackle slide to this area of the draft last year with Ryan Ramczyk and his hip problems. He would be a welcomed addition to a much maligned offensive line and I’m sure the Giants would love to draft this hog molly.
Round 3 (Pick 66) – Lorenzo Carter DE/OLB Georgia 6’5” 243
I’m hoping the Giants bring Devon Kennard back on a team friendly deal, but OLB Jonathan Casillas, Mark Herzlich, Keenan Robinson, Akeem Ayers, and ILB Kelvin Sheppard are all unrestricted free agents, so linebacker is a point of emphasis, in what will be a base 3-4 defense (Bettcher ran Base 3-4 26% of the time in 2017, according to PFF). Former Cardinals Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher gets an incredibly athletic, fast, and versatile piece to a defense that could use some retooling. Carter’s length, movement skills in space, and flexibility make him a very unique chess piece for this bright defensive coach. Carter can line up as the Nickel ILB, in slot on TEs/WRs, or as a pass rushing OLB (Cardinals were in Nickel 48% of the time in 2017). Carter’s range, pursuit, and burst would make him a scary blitzing weapon on twists (Cardinals blitzed 37% of the time in 2017) and he is fluid enough in space to play man coverage on TEs (Cardinals were in Cover 1 34% of the time). Carter would be a wonderful addition to a defense that likes to blitz, play man coverage, and of course, get after the quarterback.
Round 4 (Pick 98) – Royce Freeman RB Oregon 5’11” 235
The Giants drafted Wayne Gallman, out of Clemson last year in the fourth round, and the new regime does the same by adding a running back in Royce Freeman to play alongside Gallman, while Paul Perkins tries to ingratiate himself with the new coaching staff. Freeman is a good receiving back and had 79 receptions in his 4 years as a Duck. He possesses very good vision and patience that should fit in well with Pat Shurmur’s predominantly zone running schemes. He does a good job falling forward upon contact, but doesn’t provide the doom like most 235lb backs would. He’ll struggle in pass protection and is not a burner type of running back, but he would be a welcomed addition to the Giants offense that may lose Shane Vereen and Orleans Darkwa to free agency.
Round 5 (Pick 130) – Wyatt Teller OG Virginia Tech 6’4” 311
Hog Mollies…Giants must upgrade their interior offensive line that was ravaged by injury and sees two key members as free agents this season in Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg. Jon Halapio and Brett Jones filled in valiantly down the stretch, but an upgrade and competition is best for the team and that is where Wyatt comes into play. He can play in both power and zone running schemes, while also providing value in pass protection. He finishes his blocks and is always looking for work, while having big mittens that pack a punch. Teller can step in and challenge Jon Jerry day one for the left guard spot and will potentially start in Blue if he is selected here.
Round 6 (Pick 162) – Jack Cichy LB Wisconsin 6’1” 234
Marred by injury, yet a day 2 talent, that could be at a value late in the draft. He played half of 2016, before tearing his left pectoral and he tore his right ACL in the summer of 2017. So, why draft him? Because Cichy’s a good athlete who can move in space, blitz, stack and shed, read/react/attack, and he has true leadership qualities. Obviously, huge risk comes with this pick, but it could pay off. His medical evaluations and everything would have to show progress, but he could become a steal if his health holds up. Precarious, but the juice could be worth the squeeze for a player that has a very good skill-set.
Round 7 (Pick 194) – Dane Cruikshank DB Arizona 6’1” 204
A versatile piece that would slide in nicely to James Bettcher’s defense. Dane has experience at corner, nickel safety, hybrid LB near the box and as a free safety. He is a hard hitting, long, defensive player who can play man coverage, while also doing a good job blitzing off the edge. Although he is versatile, his number one position is corner and the Giants need depth in this area, with the potential cap casualty of Dominique Rodgers Cromartie, the uncertain future of Eli Apple, and Ross Cockrell being an impending free agent.