Ed goes big at No. 11, and collects some of his favorite players in the 2021 draft class
I didn’t really intend for this to happen, but this week’s four-round New York Giants mock draft turned into ‘Ed drafts a bunch of his favorite guys.’ Here’s how it went down, using the simulator from The Draft Network.
Round 1 (No. 11) — Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
As you should know by now if you have followed these weekly mocks for the last couple of draft seasons, what I’m trying to do with these is to present potential scenarios.
In version 1.0, I selected Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle at No. 11. In version 2.0, I took Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons at No. 11. In version 3.0, I traded down and netted Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney in Round 1, and some additional Day 2 selections.
The only preconceived notion I went into this draft with was that I wanted to do something I had not done yet. That meant selecting either a cornerback or offensive lineman at No. 11. The way the board broke, with cornerbacks Patrick Surtain II and Caleb Farley off the board, along with my three top receivers, Slater became the choice.
Obviously, I have chosen Parsons before. If you read my Friday piece on him, you know I’m a big fan of Parsons and wouldn’t object to his being the selection for the Giants at No. 11. I also happen to be a big fan of Slater’s, and all it really took was watching his 2019 game against Chase Young of Ohio State. If you can handle Young, the 2020 No. 2 overall pick and AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, as cleanly as Slater did you can play at a high level in the NFL.
Slater played both right and left tackle at Northwestern. At 6-foot-3, 305 pounds, Slater is looked at as a potential five-position player in the NFL. With the Giants, he could initially play right tackle or either guard spot.
In its draft guide, Pro Football Focus says:
Slater has been starting for Northwestern ever since he stepped on campus in 2017. He was one of the highest-graded true freshmen in the country at right tackle that season, posting a 75.0 overall mark. He finally switched to left tackle as a junior in 2019, and his stock took off. Slater was dominant. He put up easily the best tape anyone in college football had against Chase Young that season. His mirror ability is nothing short of special. The only question is, at 6-foot-3, whether he will stay on the edge in the NFL.
In his 2021 Draft Guide, here is what Emory Hunt of Football Gameplan said about Slater:
— Excellent overall quickness and athleticism for the position. You can envision him playing virtually anywhere up front because of it.
— Gets great movement at the 2nd level and on the perimeter. Excels on anything that asks him to get out on the move.
— Shows a great punch and has the ability to play the piano very well, passing guys off & picking up incoming twists.
Areas of Improvement:
— Hand placement can get a bit out of whack at times, but definitely not often. When he doesn’t have things technically perfect, because of his shorter arms, he’ll give away access to his chest and defenders are able to take advantage.
I am always a believer in building your football team from the inside out, on both offense and defense. Even though the Giants used three draft picks on their offensive line a season ago, if the Giants face the same choice in the real draft that I had here I wouldn’t complain at all if they chose Slater.
Other players considered: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama; Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Round 2 (No. 43) — Nico Collins, WR, Michigan
By now, you know that Nico Collins is one of my favorite wide receivers in this draft class. The NFL is moving more toward the small, shifty, throw it to ‘em in space and let ‘em figure out how to make yardage guys. Kadarius Tony, Rondale Moore and to an extent Jaylen Waddle fit that profile.
I’m old school enough that I still like and want the big, strong receiver who is open even when he’s not open because he will just go win the football in those 50-50 situations. I see that in the 6-3, 215-pound Collins.
Depending on the big board you are working with, you find Collins available anywhere from Round 2 to Round 4. After working with him for a week in Mobile, Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy believes Collins is a Round 2 value. I’ll go with that.
— Gets a really good release off the LOS. Has above average quickness and burst for a bigger-bodied WR.
— Within his route running you see some savviness in his process, showing the ability to find leverage and set up a defensive back.
— Can win above the rim, proving to be a really strong red zone option.
— Comfort in working all levels of the field within the passing game. No fear of having a physical discussion.
Areas of Improvement:
— Working through zone defense will need more fine tuning. Just knowing when/where to settle down. Issues are mainly lack of experience based than talent based.
— Has to be consistent in stacking the DB once he beats him off the line. At times, he’ll invite the DB back into the play.
Other players considered: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue; Joseph Ossai, Edge, Texas; Joe Tryon, Edge, Washington
Round 3 (No. 76) — Quincy Roche, Edge, Miami
Yep, I did it again. Roche, one of my favorite edge rushers in this draft, was in range here and I pounced.
— Has a true knack for making key plays in key moments of the game. He’s really good on both ends of defense.
— Good technical skill to set a physical edge, despite him giving up about 60 pounds on average. Really good in that regard.
— Has very good acceleration to the QB & ball carrier going away.
Areas of Improvement:
— Allows his technique to wane at times during games, which either allows the edge to be sacrificed, or him missing out on a tackle/sack opportunity.
— Not an overly sudden player, more of build up acceleration type guy. Doesn’t immediately threaten off the snap.
— Needs to develop a couple of counters as a pass rusher.
Other players considered: Jabril Cox, LB, LSU; Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford; Cameron McGrone, LB, Michigan; Alim McNeill, DT, N.C. State
Round 4 (No. 116) — Benjamin St-Juste, CB, Minnesota
There were a number of cornerbacks on the board here. Trill Williams of Syracuse is the other one who really tempted me, but I’m much more familiar with St-Juste and this point, and I do think he possesses a lot of the qualities Patrick Graham is looking for in a cornerback.
— Big fan of how he’s able to plant-and-accelerate to the ball/ receiver on in-breaking routes.
— Long, athletic and lengthy corner who does a really good job in shrinking passing windows when going down field. He does a great job of knowing when/where to play ‘tall’.
— Has a pretty good, overall skill set and room for more growth.
Areas of Improvement:
— Some of the angles he takes to the ball carrier in the run game, and to the receiver in the passing game are a bit inconsistent, and it yields receptions, or worse, big plays.
— Backpedal is solid, but sometimes his transition can be a little herky-jerky.
— Has a long lengthy frame that could probably stand another 5-10 pounds without losing his athleticism.
Other players considered: Trill Williams, CB, Syracuse; Sage Surratt, WR, Wake Forest