Last week, I laid down a baseline three-round New York Giants mock draft without doing any trades. After our ‘7 for 7’ exercise this week, I decided that should the draft board break in a way that I wasn’t thrilled with I would run a mock draft by dealing out of one of the picks at No. 5 or no. 7.
Turns out, that’s exactly what happened. Let’s see how things unfolded using the Pro Football Network draft simulator.
Round 1 (No. 5) — Ickey Ekwonu, OT, NC State
Until somebody convinces me otherwise, I am going to have a hard time passing on either Ekwonu or Evan Neal should one of them be available at No. 5. In this case, that was Ekwonu. I’m thrilled to land him here.
Here’s how picks 1-4 unfolded:
Picks 1-4: Aidan Hutchinson, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Evan Neal, Sauce Gardner
I had two trade offers that I turned down.
Trade offers rejected: New York Jets (10 and 38); Dallas Cowboys (picks 24, 56, 88 in 2022; Round 2 and 3 picks in 2023)
I was sorely tempted by the Jets’ sacrifice. If I had taken that, I probably would have stayed at No. 7 and likely would have selected Mississippi State offensive tackle Charles Cross. I just feel like once you get past Cross and Trevor Penning there is a drop off, and I would really like to come away with one of those top four tackles.
Other players considered: Kyle Hamilton, safety, Notre Dame; Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia; Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Round 1 (No. 7) — TRADE!
Accepted picks 13, 44, 106 from the Cleveland Browns for pick 7; rejected picks 23 and 55 in 2022 and Round 2 and 3 picks from the Arizona Cardinals.
Sauce Gardner and Kayvon Thibodeaux are gone, and I already have the tackle I craved. I could have stayed here and taken Kyle Hamilton, but with the trade down I’m staying in the top half of Round 1, adding a second-round pick and one near the top of the fourth round. Now, I just wish I had run this as a four-round mock, so I could use that pick at No. 106.
Round 1 (No. 13) — Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
I have seen Walker selected as high as No. 3 overalls in some mock drafts. That’s rich for me, though I would have considered him at No. 7 had I stayed there. I actually feel much better about getting him at No. 13 than I would have at No. 7.
It might not be a perfect comparison, but I wonder if Walker turns into a Leonard Williams-type player who can be exceptionally productive while moving up and down the line of scrimmage — even sometimes playing standing up.
I really thought David Ojabo and Devin Lloyd here, but Walker is the pick. I’m a bit surprised he is still on the board, and I can’t let him stay there.
Trade offer rejected: Green Bay offered picks 28, 59 and a 2023 second-rounder
Other players considered: David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan; Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah; Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa; Derek Stingley, CB, LSU; Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Round 2 (No. 36) — Zion Johnson, G, Boston College
Well, let’s see. I haven’t been this excited to see the Giants nab a plug-and-play starting guard at the top of the second round since … Will Hernandez. Let’s hope this pick works out better.
Trade offers rejected: Kansas City offered pick No. 62, and Round 2 and 3 picks in 2023. The Houston Texans offered picks 37 and 80 for picks 36 and 106.
The Texans’ sacrifice was tempting, but I really thought Johnson was a player I didn’t want to leave on the board here.
Other players considered: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington; Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota; Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
Round 2 (No. 44) — TRADE!
Accepted the 55th and 87th pick from Arizona in exchange for picks 44 and 181. So, I end up getting an extra swing on Day 2. I think Joe Schoen would be proud! The 44th pick is one originally obtained in my Round 1 deal with Cleveland.
Trade offer rejected: The San Francisco 49ers offered pick No. 61 and a 2023 second-rounder.
Round 2 (No. 55) — Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
McDuffie is not the perfect Wink Martindale cornerback. He is narrower (5-foot-11, 193 pounds) and has shorter arms (29¾ inches) than I think Martindale would like. He is, though, the best cornerback remaining on the board and as much as we have discussed the need for quality cornerbacks in Martindale’s ultra-aggressive defense I felt like the value was too good to pass up here.
Three-year starter whose average size is overshadowed by skillful ruggedness, allowing him to contest throws from a variety of coverages. He’s an elite competitor with a route-hugging mentality fueled by body control, foot agility, aggression and burst. He’s a pesky press man defender with the tools to excel in zone. He’s willing to fly downhill and hit anybody near the football. He keeps his eyes on the prize and has an itchy, twitchy trigger to close throwing windows and make plays on the ball. He lacks lockdown traits but has lockdown talent and his competitive energy is contagious. He can play outside or from the slot and carries a very high floor with the potential to become one of the league’s top corners at some point during his first contract.
Trade offer rejected: The Denver Broncos offered picks 64 and 96 for picks 55 and 173. I just did not want to go back any further in Round 2.
Other players considered: Jalen Wydermyer, TE, Texas A&M; Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State; Arnold Ebeketie, EDGE, Penn State
Round 3 (No. 67) — TRADE!
I accepted an offer from the Houston Texans to move down one spot. I got pick 68 and a 2023 fourth-rounder for picks 67 and 173. I was not so in love with a player at this spot that I was going to be heart-broken over whomever the Texans chose, so I’ll take the extra 2023 pick.
Trade offer rejected: The Las Vegas Raiders offered pick 164 and a 2023 second-round for picks 67 and 173.
Round 3 (No. 68) — George Pickens, WR, Georgia
This is a player with first-round talent who had a tremendous freshman season, but suffered a torn ACL in spring practice that limited his 2021 season. I want some of this contested catch and downfield play-making ability:
Draft Network said:
George Pickens is a very good athlete with downfield speed, agility, and body control. In the run game, he doesn’t provide much in terms of stalk blocking. Due to his wiry frame, he can be out-physical’d by stronger DBs who are defending the run. It’s in the passing game where he excels. He is sudden off the line of scrimmage and quickly closes the DB’s cushion. He is fluid and shows good body control as a route-runner, easily attacking leverage against man coverage. He has a very good catch radius and shows tremendous athleticism to contort his body and make difficult catches on off-target throws. He is a natural hands-catcher with strong mitts who easily catches the ball away from his body. He is a matchup problem in slant/fade situations. He can defeat press with foot quickness but will need to add mass, bulk, and upper-body strength to his wiry frame in order to play through physicality in the NFL. Because he is lean and there have been injury concerns in his past, this could affect the projection to the next level. So while the grade is reflective of the talent level, there are other factors that could factor into his projection. Ultimately, he has redeeming value in his athleticism, agility, and catch radius.
Trade offer rejected: Atlanta offered picks 74 and 113 for picks 68 and 147.
Other players considered: Quay Walker, LB, Georgia; Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M; Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota; Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State; Greg Dulcich, TE, UCLA
Round 3 (No. 81) — Quay Walker, LB, Georgia
I did not land Nakobe Dean or Devin Lloyd earlier in the draft, but I do want to add athleticism, range and coverage ability at the linebacker spot. I think I have managed to do that here. [Pro Football Network scouting report]
Other players considered: Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M; Greg Dulcich, TE, UCLA; Logan Hall, DE, Houston; Brian Asamoah, LB, Oklahoma; Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State
Round 3 (No. 87) — Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State
(Pick obtained in Round 2 trade with Arizona)
Chris Myarick, Jake Hausmann and Rysen John are not going to cut it at tight end. The Giants also appear to be intent on not carrying a fullback on their 53-man roster. That means they need tight ends who can and block from a variety of alignments. Ruckert can do those things and should be a good addition to the tight end room.
Other players considered: Greg Dulcich, TE, UCLA; Cade Otton, TE, Washington; Logan Hall, DE, Houston; Travis Jones, DT, Connecticut; Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
I turned five picks in the first three rounds into seven, and added a fourth-round pick and a 2023 pick. By the way, I’m also pretty happy with this collection of players.