With the 2021 NFL Draft officially upon us, the New York Giants have to be loving where they’re sitting right now.
Holding the No. 11 pick in the first round, they stand to take full advantage of a top-10 that could very well see some moving and shaking that, for now, seems to be centered around a five-man quarterback class.
Luckily for the Giants, they feel that have their quarterback in the future in third-year passer Daniel Jones, leaving them a bevy of avenues to take once they are on the clock.
That’s the fortunate part of being a rebuilding team with perceived cornerstones at some of the core positions like quarterback and running back — though that’s an ultimate silver lining that you can categorize as a reach.
Yet the Giants have multiple holes to fill and how things currently stand, they have a golden opportunity to get a top-two prospect at each of their main positions of need: offensive tackle, cornerback, and wide receiver.
The offensive line has been the centerpiece of general manager Dave Gettleman’s rebuilding focus since he arrived in December of 2017, but he still hasn’t figured it out yet.
Meanwhile, a secondary that was once a liability in recent years took a major step forward after the franchise acquired James Bradberry from the Carolina Panthers. After adding Adoree’ Jackson as a potential No. 2 option at cornerback, the Giants could build on its pass defense further by getting a bona fide prospect.
Then there are the playmakers at wide receiver, which could provide Daniel Jones with a lethal arsenal of targets to hone in on after Kenny Golladay was added in free agency to join the likes of Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, and the ever-inconsistent receiving tight end, Evan Engram.
Gettleman has expressed a desire to add on another edge rusher to build a traditional, overwhelming Giants pass rush, but the prospect pool doesn’t necessarily lend a primetime target to expend the No. 11 pick on.
So let’s take a look at some of the Giants’ potential draft-day targets, though it’s important to note that you could see at least half of them off the board by the time it’s Big Blue’s turn:
Penei Sewell, Oregon
- Height: 6’5″
- Weight: 331 lbs.
- NFL.com’s Prospect Grade (out of 8): 6.73
Considered by many to be the top offensive lineman available at the draft, it’s more likely than not that Sewell will be off the board when the Giants pick. His blend of size and foot quickness has been described as ultra-rare with an ability to be explosive moving in any direction. While strong, his blocking ability on the edges neds work while his power moves need a bit more conviction.
Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
- Height: 6’4″
- Weight: 304 lbs
- NFL.com’s Prospect Grade: 6.70
With solid core strength and efficiency that ensures he does not expend extra movement getting in position, Slater has been a starter in the Big 10 for three years, and he’s no stranger to mammoth battles — most notably against Ohio State’s Chase Young, who is now with the Giants’ division-rival Washington Football Team after being taken No. 2 overall last year. There are strength issues that could see him move from tackle to guard, but he has the intangibles to adapt and thrive in the NFL.
Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
- Height: 6’1″
- Weight: 205 lbs.
- NFL.com’s Prospect Grade: 6.46
Son of star Saints wide receiver Joe Horn, Jaycee made his name as one of the best shutdown corners in tight-man coverage at South Carolina. Average route recognition is made up for by an ability to close quickly on opposing wide receivers, though there are concerns regarding his reliance on roughing up receivers beyond five yards of the line of scrimmage. That won’t fly in today’s NFL.
Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
- Height: 6’2″
- Weight: 197 lbs.
- NFL.com’s Prospect Grade: 6.38
There had been this notion that Farely would drop down draft boards on Thursday night due to past injury concerns — most recently a back procedure he underwent back on March 23. He’s also a wild card in that he didn’t play in 2020, opting out due to COVID-19 concerns to protect his father after losing his mother in 2018 to breast cancer. But Farely is still slated to be a first-half selection in the first round, if not a top-10 pick. His combination of size, strength, and athleticism are rare in a cornerback, which makes him such a desired prospect. However, he hasn’t played a ton of games at cornerback and his game will need plenty of polishing to get to a higher NFL level.
Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
- Height: 6’0″
- Weight: 201 lbs.
- NFL.com’s Prospect Grade: 7.12
Chase also opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID concerns, but he was already a bona fide star. The Biletnikoff Award winner from 2019 led LSU to a national title where he caught nine passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns against Clemson. To put it simply, Chase is a playmaker who does everything possible to win the ball from the opposing cornerback. It far outweighs any minuscule worries about his route-running or occasional difficulties getting free from the press.
DeVonta Smith, Alabama
- Height: 6’0″
- Weight: 173 lbs.
- NFL.com’s Prospect Grade: 7.13
The 2020 Heisman Trophy and Biletnikoff Award winner has heard all the concerns regarding his smaller frame, but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming one of the most tantalizing wide-receiver targets in the game. Smith is lightning fast with the agility to create the kind of separation to get open more times than not. It was on full display last year with a nation-leading 117 receptions for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns. The resume speaks for itself.
Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
- Height: 5’9 1/2″
- Weight: 180 lbs
- NFL.com’s Prospect Grade: 6.86
If you think Smith is fast, his Alabama teammate in Waddle is even faster. That speed makes him a legitimate outside playmaking despite being just over 5-foot-9, which is only strengthened by a surprising ability to come out on top of 50-50 opportunities. Of course, his skill set and size make him a prime candidate to be a slot option as well, but that kind of versatility will only be cherished by an NFL offense. That includes being a threat on special teams, which is something the Giants have been without for decades.