The New York Giants have been relatively quiet in the 2022 free agency period, signing some depth pieces and a few low-end starters to the roster without making a big splash. This was not by choice of new general manager Joe Schoen, but rather a result of the cap-strung roster that was handed to him.
Fortunately for Schoen, one thing the Giants do have an abundance of is 2022 draft picks. The G-men currently have nine total picks entering the upcoming draft, with five of those representing picks inside the top 100.
New York received what turned into the seventh overall of the 2022 NFL draft from a trade with the Chicago Bears on draft night a year ago, trading back from Pick 11 to Pick 20 so that the Bears could take QB Justin Fields. Ultimately, the Giants took exciting WR Kadarius Toney with the 20th pick and banked the extra first-round pick for this year.
Heading into the free agency period, the Giants needed four starting offensive linemen, with left tackle Andrew Thomas being the only solidified starter on the unit. At this stage, it had appeared one of the first-round picks, as well as another early selection, would need to be used on fixing a line that has given Daniel Jones immense trouble up to this point of his pro tenure.
The team, however, signed C Jon Feliciano and OG Mark Glowinski in the free agency period, both of whom are upgrades to the Giants’ line of 2021. By no means does this remove the need to draft a top-of-the-class talent lineman, but it gives Schoen and the front office far more flexibility should the draft not fall their way.
For the purposes of the below mock, we have assumed the Giants draft players at all their current picks. Let’s for a moment, however, discuss the possibility that they trade out of their current position.
There is a very good chance Joe Schoen will trade out of either the fifth or the seventh selection during the inaugural night of the draft, with the Giants needing as many picks as they can get to fix this roster. The QB class this year is one of the least exciting in recent memory, with only a handful of QBs likely to be taken in the early rounds. This makes the Giants’ fifth overall pick interesting, however, with the possibility of a QB needy team looking to trade up over the Panthers who pick at No.6. The Falcons are also in the market for a QB, after trading Matt Ryan to the Colts, and currently have the eighth pick, meaning the Giants’ seventh overall pick may be appealing to teams as well.
New York could end up trading back from No.5, or indeed No.7, to the mid-to-late first round, banking some premium draft picks and targeting players like Jermaine Johnson, Kaiir Elam, or one of the top-tier wide receivers. Whether or not a team would be willing to trade up for the QBs in this draft class is of course another question.
1.05 (5 Overall)
Evan Neal, RT, Alabama
“Plan A” for the Giants will be to address the right tackle position with Pick Five and in this mock draft, Evan Neal falls right into their lap. It is worth noting that, in this particular draft, Neal was the second tackle taken, with Ikem Ekwonu being taken ahead of him. With the Giants’ need at the position, landing either of these two at pick five is a home run.
Neal will step straight in as the Giants’ right tackle, a position they are desperate for a reliable player to fill. The tackle pairing of Neal and Andrew Thomas has top-five-in-the-league upside, something Giants fans everywhere would welcome after the group struggled under Dave Gettleman.
The 6’7″ tackle started three seasons at the University of Alabama, competing against a plethora of NFL-level talent which is present in the SEC. Nick Saban runs Alabama like a professional team and so Neal is well equipped to hit the ground running, making an impact from Day One in New York.
He is dominant in the run game, using his giant frame and body mass to move defenders with ease. It is clear from watching any reps of Neal’s that he possesses incredible power, particularly in his lower body. This was confirmed by Alabama’s director of sports science, who stated that “his jump power is in the top 1% we have ever tested”.
To complement the incredible physical attributes he possesses, he is a smart and versatile lineman, having played guard, right tackle, and left tackle for the Crimson Tide. He gave up just four sacks in his college career, confirming he is an extreme talent in pass protection, to go along with the run-game work we have already discussed.
The Giants will be ecstatic to land a talent like Neal, who has the ability to completely transform the offensive line in New York, and potentially the offense as a whole in a make-or-break year for both Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley.
1.07 (7 Overall)
Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
The Giants couldn’t be happier with the way this mock falls, with Kayvon Thibodeaux still available at No.7. Joe Schoen writes his name down in record time.
If it wasn’t for Aiden Hutchinson, Thibodeaux might be the favorite to go first overall this year. The 6’4″, 254 lbs edge rusher is one of the top prospects in the draft and will impact any team he joins from the very first snap of the season.
Part of the rebuild in New York will be an attempt to bring the team back to the highs of its Super Bowl-winning past. Something those teams were well known for was their ability to get to the passer, with franchise legends such as Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, and Lawrence Taylor coming to mind.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not for a second suggesting Thibodeux is at that level, but the pairing with second-year player Azeez Ojulari has the potential to be a problem for opposing offenses for many years to come.
The former top-ranked player out of high school in ESPN’s rankings put together a career at Oregon which resulted in far too many accolades to even list here. Thibodeaux has a perfect size and build for the position, and combines this with incredible explosiveness to be a real problem for all offensive lines.
He has no problem winning the corner straight away and has the flexibility to bend the edge and get to the quarterback in the blink of an eye. Moreover, he plays fast and often makes offensive players who get stuck trying to stop him one-on-one look inferior. He is explosive and instinctive in defending the run as well as getting to the quarterback.
Thibodeaux often relies on his speed and power at the collegiate level to overpower other athletes, something which will not be so easy in the NFL. If a team can help him develop and utilize some new tools, he has the potential to be one of the league’s top edge rushers for a long time.
2.04 (36 Overall)
Leo Chenal, LB, Wisconsin
In this mock, one of the top-ranked linebackers in the 2022 draft is still available at Pick 36, and the Giants don’t take long to select Leo Chenal out of Wisconsin.
Chenal led the Badgers defense in sacks and tackles for loss in both 2020 and 2021 and is one of the best linebackers in the draft class when it comes to rushing the passer. The power and explosiveness that Chanel plays with is something that should excite Giants fans if they can land him at this spot. The addition of Chenal and Thibodeaux will be a nightmare for NFC East quarterbacks for a long time.
It’s not just rushing the passer which Chenal excels at – impressing at defending the run is a strength of his as well. He regularly runs through blockers and can handle getting double-teamed, something which opposition offenses clearly game-planned for when coming up against the Badgers. This is a testament to the strength he has built up in the weight room, as well as the speed and power he runs with once he identifies the run.
NYG could not be happier with the way this mock draft has started and it lays an incredible foundation for Joe Schoen’s first draft class.
3.03 (67 Overall)
Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama
The Giants’ first three picks have been as straightforward as you could wish for in a draft. The third round is where that changes. Schoen has the option to bolster the interior offensive line, which is currently full of 1-2 year contracts, by taking guard Dylan Parham. There is also the option to double up at linebacker, with players such as Brian Asamoah or Troy Anderson. They go a different way in this mock, however, selecting South Alabama WR Jalen Tolbert.
Receiver is a position New York has had issues with ever since they traded away Odell Beckham Jr. The free-agent acquisition of Kenny Golladay and their first-round draft pick Kadarius Toney, both from 2021, combined for zero touchdowns last season. Their third receiver on the depth chart is Darius Slayton, who has struggled since coming to the NFL in 2019.
Schoen and the Giants look to change that with 6’3″, 190lbs Jalen Tolbert. Tolbert was a former 2-star receiver out of high school and has taken some time to develop into a top player at South Alabama. The five-year redshirt senior has registered continuous improvement with the Jaguars, culminating in a 2021 season that saw him amass an impressive 1,474 yards and eight touchdowns.
He has the physical attributes to be a successful receiver at the professional level and should fit in as the third receiver for the Giants and Daniel Jones.
3.12 (81 Overall)
James Cook, RB, Georgia
The Giants aren’t finished with giving new head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka weapons in the third round, selecting Georgia running back James Cook. Schoen took back-to-back running backs in the 2019 and 2020 third rounds as the assistant general manager in Buffalo, and so a running back in the third round here would not be a surprise.
The younger brother of Vikings superstar RB Dalvin Cook, James is the latest in a long line of NFL caliber backs coming out of Georgia. For that reason, Cook has not been a high-workload back in his career as a Bulldog. In 2021 Cook averaged 6.4 yards per carry, resulting in 728 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns on the championship-winning Georgia team.
It is in the passing game where Cook stands out the most, however, catching 27 balls for 284 yards and four touchdowns in 2021. The future of the Giants’ running back Saquon Barkley is uncertain past 2022, with the former first-round pick struggling with injuries during his first contract with New York. Cook would be a fine replacement in the passing game for Barkley, who when healthy is one of the best in the league. Therefore, the G-men would hope he could evolve even further as a runner to help this struggling offense.
4.07 (112 Overall)
Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Nebraska
A lot of fans, and journalists alike, have mocked the Giants to take Cincinnati CB Ahmed “Sauce” Gardner in the first round. In this mock, the Giants wait to address CB until Round Four, selecting Cam Taylor-Britt out of Nebraska.
There is one word to describe the 5’10”, 200 lbs corner – Physical.
Watch any Nebraska game which involves Taylor-Britt in the secondary and you will see him flying across the field to tackle receivers, running backs, and any quarterbacks on the move. He finished his Nebraska career with 22 passes defended and 6 interceptions, including one which was returned for a touchdown, showcasing his athleticism and sound technique in coverage. Teams should feel comfortable that Taylor-Britt can help out in the secondary in a variety of ways, including both on the outside and in the slot from his first year in the NFL. In this mock, it is Wink Martindale and the New York Giants who reap the rewards of this versatility.
It is in run support, however, where he stands out above the rest of the 2022 cornerback class. The former high school QB turned corner can be regularly seen in the opposition backfield, making tackles on running backs and quarterbacks for losses. He had 137 total tackles in his career as a cornhusker, also getting to the quarterback for 2.5 sacks. He is certainly not afraid of contact and is happy to meet runners anywhere on the field, often resulting in big hits as he runs downhill with speed and power.
There are definitely still some areas of his game he can work on, but for a fourth-round pick, the Giants will be more than happy to accommodate these.
4-Round Giants Mock Draft Recap
The Giants have a dream start to the 2022 draft, landing top of the draft talent at tackle, edge, and linebacker in the first three rounds.
In the third round, the Giants use both their picks on exciting offensive talent. The benefits of these picks obviously assist Daniel Jones in his make-or-break year, but also allow for young pieces to be present for a rookie QB, should they go this route in 2023.
Finally, Cam Taylor-Britt is selected to help out the Giants’ secondary, who might be without star corner James Bradberry by the time the 2022 season starts. Joe Schoen will be happy with how the draft has set up his team for 2022 and beyond, should it fall the way this mock has.
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