You can never have enough pass rushers, right?
The 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl, the East-West Shrine Bowl, and the other All-Star games are over with. How players performed, and which players stepped up to take advantage of their opportunities, will have an effect on draft boards. This is a good chance to take a look at team needs and player value before the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine shakes things up again.
Likewise, there’s only one more game to be played until it’s the offseason for all 32 teams. That also means we know where 30 of 32 teams will be picking in the upcoming draft, reshuffling some picks since the last time we ran a mock draft.
As usual for this time year, I ran a this-round mock draft to simulate the return on the New York Giants 2021 trades. I also decided to use The Draft Network’s mock draft machine to keep things simple
I did not go into this mock draft expecting to pick a pair of EDGE defenders in the first round and I certainly didn’t expect to land Kayvon Thibodeaux No. 5 overall. In fact, I restarted this draft three times because Thibodeaux dropping to fifth just seemed so random, but he was there at five in all three drafts.
Each time, this is how the first seven picks of the draft played out (though the order of Kyle Hamilton and Aidan Hutchinson did change):
My offensive line options were Kenyon Green (iOL, Texas A&M) and Charles Cross (OT, Mississippi State). Thibodeaux is TDN’s top rated prospect, and he’s definitely in my top three, so I couldn’t turn him down. I thought long and hard about Green and Cross, probably going over the 10 minutes normally allotted to teams in the actual draft.
Cross has (to my knowledge) only ever played left tackle, either giving him a longer learning curve in the NFL as he transitions to right tackle, or forcing Andrew Thomas to the right side. Likewise, Joe Schoen recently spoke about the importance of positional value, and an EDGE rusher is just plain more valuable than a guard.
I also thought about Derek Stingley Jr. (CB, LSU) who went to the Falcons at No. 8 overall. And while Stingley is a great prospect, I couldn’t get past his injury history. I probably could have gone with Andrew Booth Jr. (CB, Clemson), but I ultimately decided to roll the dice on a good cover corner being available later in the draft.
So I decided to go with Ojabo.
Wink Martindale has talked about preferring to invest in coverage and using great coverage players to scheme pressure and free rushers. However, I don’t know of a defensive coordinator who would turn down the opportunity to have an EDGE rotation of Kayvon Thibodeaux, David Ojabo, Azeez Ojulari, and Quincy Roche.
It’s possible — even likely — that James Bradberry will be a cap casualty as the Giants struggle to get under the salary cap. That will make running the type of defense Martindale likes a challenge, but the Giants’ rebuild isn’t going to be a one-year affair. The team will likely have to take a step back before being able to move forward.
Okay, spinning ahead to Day 2.
The draft offered me another tough choice at the top of the second round, with Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral falling out of the first round altogether. Corral is the 26th-ranked prospect on their predictive board and is one of the quarterbacks with the potential to develop into a winning QBs at the NFL level. There’s been talk of selecting one of the top quarterbacks if one falls to the Giants at the top of the second round.
However, I also don’t think Ed would ever forgive me if I caused an all-out riot in the comments section by selecting two EDGE defenders, a quarterback, and no offensive linemen.
Faalele is a risk, because while he’s an incredible athlete compared to the subset of humans who are nearly 6-foot-9, 390 pounds, he is relatively slow-footed. We saw that cause some problems for him in the senior bowl, when he would top his feet, lunge, and pass rushers 150 pounds lighter would get under his pads and put him on his heels.
It’s possible that he could lose 20 or 30 pounds and playing at “only” 355 or 365 pounds could solve his issues with speed. That said, he is massive and massively powerful, and still improving as a player. If he can improve his foot speed, and become more of a technician, Faalele has the potential to be a really intimidating lineman.
The Giants need to improve their passing game after featuring one of the worst passing attacks in the NFL over the last two years. They also have some questions at the tight end position with Evan Engram an impending free agent while Kyle Rudolph and Kaden Smith potential cap casualties. McBride is generally considered to be the best tight end in the country, so I consider this a good value in the third round. He is a reliable receiver and a capable blocker. Considering Mike Kafka came from a team with Travis Kelce and Brian Daboll had Dawson Knox, an athletic tight end could be an under-the-radar priority for the Giants’ offense.
Finally, I added another offensive lineman with Ed Ingram. Ingram is a big, athletic and powerful lineman with experience at left and right guard. He’s a capable pass protector and a punishing run blocker, but there are questions regarding an arrest for aggravated sexual assault of a minor. The charges were dismissed and teams will have to do their due diligence in looking into Ingram’s background. As I don’t have those resources, I’m going to set those concerns aside and assume that if the Giants drafted Ingram he checked out.