Tomorrow is the big day! Leading up to the draft, teams often deliver clues, hints and begin public posturing in the media with hopes to maximize the value of their picks, cajole teams into passing on talent that they want and even attempt to force teams to trade up to their particular draft spot. Today we’ll tackle the Giants, Jets and Eagles, each of who have two picks a piece. Here is a quick primer on what each team may do, who is available, and who may possibly trade.
Despite one of the worst tenures in the history of New York sports and leaving the Giants in salary cap purgatory this season, if there is one good thing that (former GM who shall not be named) has left the franchise, it would be the additional first round pick this year courtesy of the Chicago Bears who traded up for Justin Fields last season. The Giants select at #5 and #7 overall. Is a trade possible? Unlikely, but absolutely possible. This scenario would most likely take place if a QB needy team like the Falcons, Seahawks, Saints or Steelers feels that they need to move up in order to get a franchise QB, or if one of the elite edge rushers drop and a team looks to pounce. This is not a very strong QB class so again, unlikely, but it is possible.
The Giants should look to address the offensive line with their first pick. It is possible that they select one of the edge rushers, but I can see a scenario where 2 of the top 3 offensive linemen (Neal, Cross, Edwonu) are gone before the Giants selection. If this is the case, the Giants may not want to risk the Panthers selecting the remaining offensive linemen at 6 leaving the Giants in a tough spot at #7. The Jaguars just announced an extension with left tackle Cam Robinson today so while possible, it would be difficult seeing them selecting a tackle with the first overall pick. The Lions seem to be most likely leaning towards defense with the second overall pick so that would hopefully assure the Giants of landing one of the top 3 offensive linemen, which clearly would be filling a major need.
What about that #7 pick? This is where things get a little more complicated. Let’s start with need – there are 2 major positional needs which also just happen to be 2 of the most important positions in football – edge rusher and cornerback. Jordan Raanan of ESPN has reported that the Giants will most likely release CB James Bradberry by the end of the weekend if they can’t find a trade suitor (doesn’t appear they will) which may be a sign. If Cincinnati’s Sauce Gardner or LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. are available, the Giants will be interested. I don’t see the Giants going for Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux but may be wrong. I would keep an eye on Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson here who has been skyrocketing up teams draft boards.
One other thing to keep in mind – Joe Schoen made it very clear that the most expensive players to acquire in the open market are quarterbacks, edge rushers, and cornerbacks. In other words, drafting players at those positions is the best way to maintain cap flexibility moving forward. Does Schoen go for two defensive cornerstone players with the first two picks? Definitely can’t rule it out. Either way, the Giants are in a position to draft 2 impact players who new Schoen hopes to build around.
Despite a 4-13 overall record last season, the Jets showed some promise and fight down the stretch. This will be a pivotal year for second year quarterback Zach Wilson who did cut back on the turnovers at the end of the season, but needs to improve his overall accuracy in the pocket. In Wilson’s defense however, he wasn’t exactly stacked with an arsenal of weapons to throw to. Leading receiver was rookie Elijah Moore with a paltry 538 yards and new pickup Corey Davis only contributed 492 yards in 9 games of action. The tight end position, typically a safety valve for a new quarterback, combined to contribute only 273 yards of offense at the position. Reinforcements should be on the way Thursday.
The Jets do have needs other than wide receiver however, and with Coach Robert Saleh being a defensive minded coach, I think the first move at pick #4 will be for either an edge rusher like Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux or Michigan standout Aidan Hutchinson who may slip, or for Cincinnati’s Sauce Gardner who has garnered comparisons to former Jets great Darrelle Revis. Much like the Giants, the Jets have a lot of holes to fill, and the good news for Jets fans is that the front office can sit back and wait to select the best available talent on the board.
The #10 pick will most likely produce one of two results – either a wide receiver, or a trade down the draft board to acquire more assets. The Jets were all in on trying to acquire Tyreek Hill and it seems impossible for them to consider anything else but getting Zach Wilson some help. Names to watch out for include USC’s Drake London, Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson, Alabama’s Jameson Williams and Ohio State’s Chris Olave.
If Deebo Samuel is on the block do the Jets make a move? With their draft capital they would be in a strong position to do so. Samuel would be an instant upgrade and would allow receivers like Moore and Davis to fill the secondary receiver roles quite nicely.
Ah yes, that brings us to those Dirty Birds. While I am clearly not a fan of the franchise (if you don’t know this, please give me a call and put aside a minimum of two hours so I can tell you why), I have always been objective in recognizing their talent. Jalen Hurts has provided them with great value as a dual threat, they’ve had nice depth at the RB position, and DeVonta Smith looks like an absolute stud at wide receiver (a compliment to Smith in Round 2 would be smart by the way). In a weak NFC East and with a year of playoff experience under their belt, there is no reason why the Eagles can’t make it back to the playoffs again and even improve off of last year’s success.
This year the Eagles have the 15 and 18 overall picks. So where should the Eagles focus during the draft? The cornerback position is basically Darius Slay and then a lot of inexperience. Players like Washington’s Trent McDuffie, LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. and Clemson’s Andrew Booth are plausible options. Does Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton potentially fall into their lap? He may be another player to keep an eye on.
The Eagles also have an aging infrastructure on their offense and defensive lines that could use addressing. Fletcher Cox is 31 and has shown (albeit small) signs of beginning to slow down. Would someone like Georgia’s Jordan Davis fit the need? Jason Kelce is still an effective player but will be 35 years old. He lacks the size but would Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum fit the bill as a succession plan?
I’d also keep an eye on linebacker. The Eagles haven’t selected a linebacker in the first round since 1979 which wasn’t really that long ago. And no I’m not just saying that because I was born in 1979 and am in denial about my age (fine, you’ve got me). Timeline aside, the Eagles could use a jack of all trades like a Devin Lloyd from Utah who can be used in a variety of different positions and line up all over the field. Nick Sirianni has his share of weaknesses but he is a progressive coach who may find a lot of uses for a hybrid talent.
Would the Eagles be willing to trade again to move up or down depending on the board? Absolutely. One thing we know about GM Howie Roseman is his willingness to trade. The pressure will be on this year however, as expectations from Philly fans will be higher this season.
Draft risers/sleepers coming tomorrow!