The New York Giants finished with a forgettable 2021 season with a ghastly 4-13 record, which put them at the bottom of the NFC East, and left fans with few glimmers of hope for the future.
The team finished 31st among the NFLs 32 teams in both total points scored and offensive yards gained, while leading the league in turnovers last year.
FanDuel Sportsbook has the G-men with among the sixth-worst odds to win the Super Bowl next season, and ranks them as the least likely NFC East team to win the division.
But, while the future for the team from MetLife Stadium looks grim, there are some reasons for optimism for Giants diehards — most notably, the team’s two top-10 draft picks this year.
The team earned the 5th overall selection in the April 28 draft, while acquiring the 7th pick in a trade with the Chicago Bears last offseason.
That gives New York’s new head coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen significant firepower to acquire young talent on either side of the ball, and potentially plug some of the roster’s glaring holes.
While the front office may look to trade down in the draft to collect even more assets, they could simply use the selections on the best players available to secure a greater chance at signing some marquee talent.
Here’s who the G-men could potentially look to select in the first round of the draft:
Travon Walker, DE
The University of Georgia product is a muscular 6-foot five-inch, 272 pound edge rusher with all the skills needed to succeed in the league as a run-stopper and a force to be reckoned with while charging opposing quarterbacks.
ESPN draft insider Todd McShay sees the team targeting Walker to improve their mediocre defense, which ranked 12th-worst in opponents yard last season.
The 21-year-old recorded an impressive 4.51 second time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, and is coming off a stellar year for the College Football National Champions, when he recorded 37 tackles, and six sacks. He would make a nearly-immediate impact for the Giants, and offer superb pressure against opposing offensive lines.
Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE
The Giants would be lucky to see Thibodeaux fall far enough in the draft to select the University of Oregon edge rusher — but this year’s incoming class of players have not fully distinguished themselves from one another, allowing for the possibility that the 4 teams pass on the 6-foot 4-inch defender with elite athleticism.
The soon-to-be-former Duck played 10 games last year, and recorded 49 tackles and 7 sacks, and ran a 4.58 second 40-yard dash time at the combine.
As CBS Sports draft expert Ryan Wilson points out, Thibodeaux has the quickness to get around O-linemen, while also boasting the power to run right through defenders.
Treylon Burks, WR
The University of Arkansas pass-catcher would give a brand new weapon to quarterback Daniel Jones in a make-or-break year for the 4th year player under center.
The Giants have invested heavily in their offensive line in an effort to protect Jones, with the signings of guards Mark Glowinski and Jon Feliciano, which relieves some of the pressure to take another pass protector — though a wide receiver would be a welcome addition for their 24-year-old quarterback.
With Jones potentially hitting free agency after the year, and a new front office and coaching regime at MetLife, the passer will need to prove this year that he can be the long term answer at the most important position in the sport. As the G-men recently lost tight end Evan Engram to the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency, they will need to plug the hole left behind with another pair of hands — and Burks certainly fits that mold.
At 6-foot 2-inches, the 22-year-old caught 66 passes in his junior college season, while recording 11 touchdowns. He is fast, but possesses the frame to bring down 50/50 balls over NFL cornerbacks from his rookie season, and would make an immediate impact on the offense.
Ikem Ekwonu, OT
If the new front office is not satisfied with their O-line pickups in free agency, they could look to the North Carolina State University offensive tackle, who would immediately protect Jones with his hulking 310 pound, 6-foot 4-inch body.
He would add immediate relief against NFL defenders, which would help Jones — as the young passer was sacked 22 times in just 11 games last year. He has never played more than 14 contests in his 3-year NFL career due to various injuries, including a scary neck sprain that ended his year last season. A surefire O-lineman would be a sigh of relief for the team, and allow their front office to properly scout Jones’ future prospects, without opposing defenders barreling down on him every play.
Charles Cross, OT
With serious concerns that Ekwonu may be off the board by the time that the Giants are on the clock, Cross would make a suitable alternative. At 6-foot 5-inches and 307 pounds from Mississippi State University, Cross possesses many of the same qualities as Ekwonu, and would also provide substantial relief on offense from Week 1, as NFL.com’ Bucky Brooks points out.
There are concerns, however, with Cross’ ability to play a run-heavy scheme, which could pose problems for the team that relies heavily on star running back Saquon Barkley, as the Ringer’s Danny Kelly notes.
Ahmad Gardner, CB
If the team wants to improve their average secondary, they could look to securing the 6-foot 3-inch cornerback from the University of Cincinnati.
The elite athlete played 11 games last year, and brought down 3 interceptions, while recording an impressive 37 tackles, and breaking up 5 passes. His 4.41 second 40-yard dash time puts him among the fastest top prospects in the draft class, as Dane Brugler of The Athletic remarked.
If the Giants do spend a top pick on Gardner, they’ll have to be patient with his development, as he is not-quite ready to defend the NFL’s top receivers from the jump.