Two picks in the Top 7 could be huge for a team with as many holes as the Giants have. They could end up with two immediate starters and big-impact players.
But those picks could also be valuable assets as the Giants begin to reconstruct their future. And if they trade down this year and come away with an extra first-round pick in the 2023 draft – when they might be looking for a quarterback – that might be the smartest move of all.
In fact, the Giants are interested in doing just that, as SNY has reported. It would be a bold move from new GM Joe Schoen, and one that could pay huge dividends down the road. And there should be an opportunity to do it, especially with several teams interested in moving up before the quarterbacks come off the board.
What would a deal look like? Here’s a guess in my latest Giants 7-Round Mock Draft – my one and only mock where I’ll take a shot at making a trade:
Before the Giants even make their first pick of the Schoen Era, they send the fifth overall pick and fifth-rounder to the Seattle Seahawks for the ninth overall pick, a 2023 first-rounder and 2023 third-rounder.
The Seahawks need a quarterback after trading away Russell Wilson, because they surely can’t believe Drew Lock is their long-term answer. To get their choice, they have to get ahead of Atlanta (at No. 8) and Carolina (at No. 6) and make sure no one else (like Washington at No. 11 or the Saints at No. 16) finds a way to jump ahead of them.
The price is high, but many teams have given up a lot more to move up a few spaces at the top of the draft. Prices tend to go up when quarterbacks are involved.
As for the Giants, they’re happy to drop in the first round and dump another pick in this draft for picks in the future, and shave $3.3 million in cap space off what they need for their draft class too. Given their top needs, it shouldn’t even affect their draft strategy too much. The players they wanted at five and 7 might be available at seven and nine, too.
First round (7th overall) – Cincinnati CB Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner
The safe bet at five and seven would’ve been to take their right tackle first and then dip into “Sauce.” But that’s when they had the tackle-needy Panthers sandwiched in between those picks. The Falcons at eight are more likely to take a receiver or edge rusher, but a cornerback isn’t out of the question for them either. So why wait? The Giants seem to love this 6-3, 190-pound shutdown corner to the point where several NFL sources believe it’s a “lock” they take Gardner with one of their two first-round picks. It feels more like it would be lock once they trade cornerback James Bradberry, something they’ve been trying, but have so far been unable to do.
First round (9th overall, from Seattle) – Mississippi State OT Charles Cross
The beauty of the projected trade with Seattle is the Giants get everything they want, plus they save money and pick up a first-rounder next year. At five, they would’ve taken an offensive tackle – probably N.C. State’s Ikem Ekwonu or Alabama’s Evan Neal. At nine, there’s a good chance they can still get Cross, a 6-5, 307-pounder they’ve been eyeing very closely and can see as their right tackle of the future. The only danger is if both Ekwonu and Neal go in the Top 4 and then Carolina takes Cross at 6. But that is an unlikely scenario and one they’d know about before they make the trade.
Second round (36th overall) – Boston College G Zion Johnson
There are two guards that everyone loves in this draft: Texas A&M’s Kenyon Green and the 6-3, 312-pound Johnson. Both of them could end up going in the lower third of the first round of the draft. But that’s not a certainty with guards, which isn’t often a priority position on draft day. And with the Giants making the fourth pick of Day 2, it’s not crazy to think one of them will be there. With increasing buzz about Green, Johnson is more likely to fall and that would be a steal for the Giants. He’s big and powerful and figures to be a Day 1 starter at guard, alongside veteran Mark Glowinski. And just like that, with two starting linemen in their first three picks, the Giants would have the makings of quite a promising offensive line.
Third round (67th overall) – Ohio State TE Jeremy Ruckert
The Giants can say “best available player” all they want, but there are certain things they have to find in this draft. One, obviously, is a starting right tackle. The other is a tight end because free-agent signing Ricky Seals-Jones can’t do it all alone and the Giants got rid of all the other viable bodies at this position. There are several tight ends in this draft that are good, not great, and could step in and be productive as rookies, but they all figure to go on Day 2. The 6-5, 250-pound Ruckert could be great value at this position. He didn’t produce much as a receiver in college, with just 54 catches for 615 yards and 12 touchdowns over four seasons (26 games). But he was underused in an offense that focused on two dynamic receivers. Scouts believe he could be a tough-to-tackle, decent receiving threat as a pro. He also might be the first tight end taken in this draft, which means he might not get this far.
Third round (81st overall) – Georgia RB James Cook
There are a LOT of running backs the Giants have sniffed around in this draft, and it sure looks like they’re going to try to grab one on Day 2 of the draft. They not only want someone who can take some of the load off of Saquon Barkley, in the hopes of keeping him healthy and fresh as long as possible, but they also want someone who maybe could be part of their post-Saquon future. It seems very unlikely Barkley will get another contract from the Giants after his runs out after this season (if he’s not traded before then). And after that, they could go to a Bills-like committee. The Giants seem to really like Dalvin Cook’s little brother, a 5-11, 199-pounder with breakaway speed and terrific moves. He could be a good change-of-pace back with Barkley, and whoever they bring in to handle the tough yards in 2023.
Fourth round (112th overall) –Oklahoma OLB Isaiah Thomas
At some point the Giants will have to address their pass rush, but it won’t necessarily be high in this draft. They have too many other priorities and needs to get to first. But they can find some developmental prospects later. The 6-5, 266-pound Thomas had 14.5 sacks over the last two seasons in the Big 12 and he ran a 4.7 in the 40 at the combine – not bad for a man his size. He could be an effective sub on pass-rushing downs where just maybe he can take some of the pressure off Azeez Ojulari and Leonard Williams.
Fifth round (147th overall) – TRADED TO SEATTLE
Fifth round (173rd overall) – SMU WR Danny Gray
The 6-foot, 186-pound Gray didn’t put up huge numbers for the Mustangs, but he ran an eye-popping 4.33 in the 40 at the combine. That got him on the radar of several NFL teams as a slot receiver and kick returner in the NFL. The Giants could use both, and are definitely interested in building up their future receiving corps, since Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton are in the last year’s of their contracts and Kenny Golladay’s future is uncertain beyond this year. Gray had some drop issues in college and needs to show his speed will translate to getting open against better competition. But that blazing speed is a good place to start.
Sixth round (182nd overall) – Wake Forest C Zach Tom
Yes, another offensive lineman. That’s going to be the theme of this draft, since it’s where the Giants are most lacking in talent – especially young talent. Their current center, Jon Feliciano, is only a one- or two-year stop-gap, so they have to think about eventually developing a replacement. The 6-5, 304-pound Tom was actually a left tackle for the Deacon, but scouts believe he’ll be better as an interior lineman in the pros. He also was outstanding at the East-West Shrine Game playing center. He’s probably not ready to start right away, but the Giants could do worse than finding a developmental center prospect with their final pick this year.
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