Now that free agency is drawing to a close, the 2021 NFL Draft is five weeks away.
It runs from April 29 to May 1.
So let’s take a look at five prospects the Giants should consider with the 11th pick overall.
• WR Jaylen waddle, Alabama (5-10, 182 pounds): We’re operating on the assumption that LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase will be gone by the time the 11th pick rolls around. Although the Giants signed Kenny Golladay, they still need more help as a receiver. It is not known if Darius Slayton will make the next step in Year 3. And the Giants can easily pass Sterling Shepard after 2021.
Scan report, via NFL.com: “Exciting, groundbreaking talent who will come to the league as one of the fastest receivers to play the game. Their whereabouts before and after capture must be taken into account at all times. Despite his size, he’s a legitimate outside option, thanks to his ability not only to take the lead off defense, but also to go up and win 50-50 shots. Waddle is adept at working all three levels, so it will be difficult for defenses to predict how offenses will use him as he has the potential to post a higher volume of catches on the correct offense. Waddle can instantly improve a team’s scoring potential, whether it’s on the deep ball, the catch and run, or as a return player. “
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• WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama (6-0, 170 pounds): He won the Heisman Trophy last year, so he is a dynamic player. But size is going to be a concern, no matter how you measure it. If Waddle and Smith are available at 11th, the Giants must decide if they are comfortable with Smith’s ability to remain durable in the NFL. Because it is not a fact, in its size and constitution. Not that Waddle is huge. But Smith is particularly thin.
Scan report, via NFL.com: “While Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley is my NFL comparison to Smith, I feel like a better competition could be Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry. Like Curry, Smith is thinner than he would like and not the strongest player, but he has uncommon quickness, speed and fluidity of change of direction, and creates a separation from defenders seemingly at will. He possesses an elite skill level for the position and can hit defense from short, medium or deep. Smith has been quietly the most complete of receivers in Alabama for the past two seasons and will give an NFL team the ability to take on the weak links on or off coverage. He’s a detailed road runner with the athleticism to really make them count, from a separation standpoint, and his ball skills are unquestionable. Smith has the footballing character, athleticism and skill level of the upper echelon to become a longtime starter and regular in the Pro Bowl. “
• Lead running back Gregory Rousseau, Miami (6-7, 265 pounds): Some question marks here, because he opted out of the 2020 season. But the bottom line remains: Edge rusher is a massive need for the Giants, one they didn’t address in free agency. Can they really depend on Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter to generate pass-carry production from outside linebacker spots, even with defensive lineman Leonard Williams back?
Scan report, via NFL.com: “Long-limbed end, uniform front with a projecting frame but a worrying lack of functional experience around the edges. Much of his catch production was due to athletic mismatches against inside blockers when he was down inside. It lacks a prototypical takeoff and needs more violence and pop in its hands, but its length, chase agility, and wide open acceleration really stand out on the tape. He’s not reluctant at the point of attack. Expect a noticeable improvement as a running defender once you add playing strength and learn to bend and anchor more effectively. The boxes checked are a bit uneven, but that seems to be more a reflection of a lack of film than projected talent. He has a boom / bust profile, but he also has the qualities of a player who can turn into a quality 4-3 finish in his first three seasons. “
• OT / OG Rashawn Slater, Northwestern (6-4, 304 pounds): The Giants have Andrew Thomas back at left tackle, of course. Nate Solder and Matt Peart are his best options at right tackle. And it’s not a great option either. The biggest concern, in this unstable Giants offensive line, is the offensive guard. There’s a huge hole in the right guard, without Kevin Zeitler. And do you really trust the Shane Lemieux / Will Hernandez combination at left guard? Slater gives the Giants versatility in a major area of need.
Scan report, via NFL.com: “Three-year starter with experience at left and right tackle. His compact build has a playing strength that can be classified in the “grown man” category, as evidenced by his hand-to-hand battles against 2020 No. 2 overall pick Chase Young in 2019. Slater operates with confidence and movement. efficient that he sees it in position. to do your job in most snapshots. His lack of length will make some teams see him as a guard, but his footwork and outside talent could be worth it, allowing him to show it off in the inning. His combination of strength, athletic ability and quick processing should make him one of the safest offensive line picks in this draft and an early starter. “
• LB Micah Parsons, Penn State (6-3, 245 pounds): One of the best defensive players in this draft. The Giants have a very good middle linebacker, Blake Martinez. But the inside linebacker job alongside Martinez remains a question mark. (Yes, even after Devante Downs re-signed.) Free agent pick Reggie Ragland and last year’s Mr. Irrelevant, Tae Crowder, are currently the Giants’ top picks at the spot alongside Martinez. There they would get a huge boost from recruiting Parsons.
Scan report, via NFL.com: “High-performance inside / outside linebacker prospect who possesses an NFL-ready build and explosive speed that could make him a highly productive talent at the next level. It’s most impactful when kept clean and allowed to run and chase the action, but it has no physical limitations for the pros. His instincts and recognition of the game must catch up with his physical gifts in order to play downhill and find the most efficient routes to soccer. His quick talent is a potential wild card in the way teams decide to use him, but he’s likely to show rapid improvement and should be a Day 1 starter. “
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