The Giants hold a league-high 12 picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, tied only with the Patriots.
GM Dave Gettleman faces a ton of pressure to deliver, holding two first-round picks on Thursday night at Nos. 6 and 17 overall with a 38-year-old quarterback in Eli Manning.
No. 17 came from Cleveland in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. Co-owner John Mara couched his “reluctant approval” of the OBJ deal in March by saying seven times that it could benefit the Giants “if we make the right decisions” with picks No. 17 and 95 from the Browns, and others.
Gettleman is now only hours away from making those decisions. Here is a cheat sheet for the draft, Thursday night’s pivotal first round, and the Giants GM’s most critical choices.
. 1 OVERALL PICK PREDICTION: Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray
The Arizona Cardinals will draft Murray at No. 1, or the Oakland Raiders will trade up to No. 1 and take Murray. Either way, I believe the Heisman Trophy winner will be the top overall pick. It probably will come down to Oakland GM Mike Mayock arm wrestling coach Jon Gruden in their otherwise empty draft room, with all the scouts sent home. If Mayock wins, the Raiders stay at four and still get a quality player. If Gruden wins, Oakland shoots the moon for Murray. All kidding aside, I expect Murray to be a Cardinal. Any doubt they’ve tried to create has been to gauge the market for trades up and to please the NFL and its TV partners to create suspense.
LIKELY GIANTS TARGETs (6): DEFENSE
Alabama DT Quinnen Williams would be the dream, but he likely won’t be on the board and is repped by rapper Lil Wayne’s sports agency (not exactly pro-Eli Manning territory!). Names to watch: Kentucky edge Josh Allen, LSU LB Devin White, D-linemen Christian Wilkins (Clemson), Ed Oliver (Houston) and Dexter Lawrence (Clemson), Michigan LB Devin Bush and Florida State edge Brian Burns. I don’t believe the Giants are willing to take the risk on Mississippi State edge Montez Sweat’s heart condition. If two QBs go in the top five, either Allen or White probably falls to Gettleman (this could happen if Washington trades up). If one QB goes in the top five, it’s one of the D-linemen or Bush. The last time the Giants drafted a first-round linebacker was Carl Banks in 1984. That worked out.
LIKELY GIANTS TARGETS (17): DEFENSE, O-LINE or QB
This draft is so unpredictable that some of the Giants’ targets at six also could come into play at 17, like Wilkins, Bush, Lawrence or Burns. Or a player in the secondary. Top corners include Washington’s Byron Murphy and LSU’s Greedy Williams. Right tackle is a major need, so Washington State’s Andre Dillard, Florida’s Jawaan Taylor and Oklahoma’s Cody Ford are names to watch, even though some project Ford as a guard. Alabama’s Jonah Williams is another name, but there are questions about his ability to play tackle in the NFL. (I also think Gettleman might wait and take a tackle in the second or third-round, after his comment on how “thick,” or deep, this tackle class is. This could happen at corner, too.) Then there are the quarterbacks – Missouri’s Drew Lock and Duke’s Daniel Jones are possible targets here. I don’t think the Giants are drafting Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins. I truly believe Gettleman intends to take position players at Nos. 6 and 17, and that Pat Shurmur would love to get West Virginia’s Will Grier in either the late first or early-second round. Or the Giants will make a trade for a young NFL quarterback, such as …
POSSIBLE GIANTS TRADES: Josh Rosen, Janoris Jenkins, Evan Engram
Chatter is picking up that the Giants might be in the Rosen sweepstakes for the right price. Sources have heard that Big Blue is at least sniffing around the possibility of acquiring Rosen from the Cardinals if Arizona drafts Murray. Trading the Giants’ second-round pick (No. 37) for Rosen would be a home run for Gettleman. I doubt Gettleman would trade No. 17 overall, even though that still would be considered good value for Rosen, but I do think he’d do it for No. 37. It remains to be seen who else pursues Rosen: Chargers, Patriots, Packers, etc. As for Janoris Jenkins and Evan Engram, both were in play at last fall’s trade deadline. They are holdovers from the Jerry Reese era, and though both might be on the roster come training camp, I wouldn’t rule out Gettleman trading either to get more capital in this draft.
BOLD PICK AT SIX: Iowa TE T.J. Hockenson
If Shurmur created a football player in a lab, T.J. Hockenson would walk out. No one knows what Gettleman’s big board looks like, and the Giants have much greater needs elsewhere. However, Hockenson is a projected top-10 pick, and he would improve the Giants’ run and pass blocking significantly, while also being a solid receiving option. Shurmur used two or more tight ends on 45% of his play calls, tied with Philly and Baltimore for fourth-most in the NFL behind only Cleveland (54%), Tennessee (53%) and Houston (50%), per sharpfootballstats.com. Drafting Hockenson could lead to an Engram trade or would allow Shurmur to kick him out to wide receiver more often. Remember: Gettleman drafts best player available. Is Hockenson unlikely at six? Maybe. Impossible? No.
LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH: Clemson edge Clelin Ferrell
Ferrell is a ferocious pass rusher who would fill a Giants need, but this post-national championship quote stuck with me. He told the media he’d heard someone tell coach Dabo Swinney: “It’s like taking a dump. You got the job done. We got here. BUT, if you don’t wipe, you ain’t finished, man. So you’re just gonna feel terrible. And we wiped tonight. So we feel great.” Yeah… Not sure I see Dave “Mr. Culture” Gettleman drafting Ferrell.
OTHER GIANTS NEEDS: Secondary, wide receiver
Gettleman considers both positions deep in this draft. He should end up drafting at least two players in the secondary: a free safety and a corner. Keep an eye on Vanderbilt corner Joejuan Williams, a college teammate of Shurmur’s son Kyle, the Commodores’ QB. There are a plethora of safeties, too: Will Harris from Boston College maybe is a later-round play. At receiver they need size: keep an eye on Notre Dame’s Miles Boykin and Iowa State’s Hakeem Butler, and two other solid prospects are Stanford’s J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and N.C. State’s Kelvin Harmon.
FOUR TEAMS TO WATCH: Raiders, Giants, Packers, Seahawks
Those four teams hold nine of the first round’s 32 picks. So the draft will be shaped largely by Oakland (Nos. 4, 24 and 27), the Giants (Nos. 6 and 17), Green Bay (Nos. 12 and 30) and Seattle (Nos. 21 and 29).
GIANTS PICK LIST: 12 total, ripe for trades up
The Giants have at least one pick in every round. They have two in the first round, two in the fourth round, three in the fifth and two in the seventh. They are not expected to draft 12 players. Gettleman is expected to use some for trades up, definitely in between his No. 37 and 95 picks and perhaps into the back of the first round, as well. Here is the full list:
- Round one: six and 17
- Round two: five (37th overall)
- Round three: 32 (95th overall)
- Round four: six (108th overall) and 30 (132nd overall)
- Round five: four (142nd overall), five (143rd overall) and 33 (171st overall)
- Round six: seven (180th overall)
- Round seven: 18 (232nd overall) and 31 (245th overall)
* How picks were acquired: 17 and 95 (Beckham trade, Browns); 132 (Eli Apple trade, Saints); 142 (Damon Harrison trade, Niners through Lions); 171 (compensatory); 232 (Brent Jones trade Vikings); 245 (Alec Ogletree trade, Rams).