We are about nine months away from the 2022 NFL Draft. Still, it’s never too early to start getting a grasp on what next year’s next crop of college football prospects looks like since NFL front offices and scouting departments have already begun preliminary research on some of these players.
Armed with an extra first and fourth-round pick from Chicago and Miami’s third-rounder, the Giants are a team that should be gathering information and visualizing what type of haul they can add to this already talented roster next spring.
So while the 2021 season has yet to get underway, I put together a very early 7-round mock draft which, if nothing else, offers a glimpse into some excellent college football players that could potentially be fits for the Giants.
A lot can change--not just the valuation of specific players but the draft order as well.
For this exercise, I used the projected draft order from Tankathon, which incorporates their predictions plus the expected compensatory selections other NFL teams may have (the Giants are not projected to have any).
I will not be making any trades for this exercise. While the possibility of the Giants packaging up their first-rounders to move up looms, that's something for later editions of mock drafts (as in next off-season).
Now that we have that out of the way, mock away!
Round 1, Pick No. 9
Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame (6040, 219, 4.49e)
While it would certainly be a letdown if the Giants, a team with playoff aspirations, were to pick in the top ten, Kyle Hamilton would ease the pain.
A junior out of Notre Dame, Hamilton is considered a near-consensus blue-chip talent for this upcoming class. He was phenomenal as a freshman in 2019, amassing 41 tackles along with four interceptions, instantly turning into a premier defender for the Fighting Irish.
He followed that year up with a sophomore campaign so electric that he was named First-Team All-ACC and an Associated Press Third-Team All-American. Standing at 6’4” and weighing in at nearly 220 pounds, Hamilton has vines for arms and gifted athleticism.
His instincts in run support and coverage are incredibly advanced for his age, and his ranginess and ball skills make him a force regardless of whether he’s playing single-high, in the box, or as a slot corner.
The Giants have invested a lot into the safety position in recent years, adding Jabrill Peppers, Xavier McKinney, Logan Ryan, and Julian Love. Think of Kyle Hamilton as somewhat of a super-sized Ryan--a player who can fill multiple roles on a defense while providing leadership and fantastic all-around production.
He is a special player, one that would be perfect for any NFL defense. Given the possibility of Peppers, who is in the final year of his contract, not returning, Hamilton might make for a nice replacement.
Round 1, Pick No. 11 (from CHI)
Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC (6040, 255, 4.65e)
This selection comes from the stunning 2021 NFL Draft trade that the Giants pulled off with the Chicago Bears that landed the Windy City quarterback Justin Fields.
But for the Giants' pick, well, Drake Jackson has been a dominating presence off of the edge for the Trojans. A starter at outside linebacker since his freshman debut, all Jackson has done is produce, garnering 11.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, three pass deflections, and a forced fumble during that 2019 season.
He was named All Pac-12 Second Team for his efforts that year and proceeded to excel during the conference’s COVID-shortened schedule in 2020, being named to the Pac-12’s second team once more with 5.5 TFLs and two more sacks.
A freaky athlete with insane burst and quickness off of the line of scrimmage, Jackson can convert speed to power within the blink of an eye. The scariest part is, he’s not even scratching the surface of his ceiling yet.
New York added some talent to their edge room with the signing of Ifeadi Odenigbo and drafting Georgia OLB Azeez Ojulari, but the former is a free agent after this year, along with Lorenzo Carter, who is on his contract year.
The Giants would be wise to add another piece to that area of the squad and a potential dominant complement to Ojulari.
Round 2, Pick No. 41
Dohnovan West, IOL, Arizona State (6030, 315, 5.25e)
Dohnovan West is yet another third-year junior who has not only started since the beginning of his freshman season in 2019 but has been a force on the interior of Arizona State’s offensive line.
After being named All Pac-12 Honorable Mention for his work in 2019, he followed that up with not allowing a single sack and only one pressure during the 2020 campaign, culminating with a First Team All-Pac 12 honor.
West isn’t the biggest or most menacing offensive lineman, but he plays with superb athleticism and leverage. His arms are a little short, but his mobility and technique are his main selling points.
You can never have enough talented offensive linemen--and the Giants, remember, have Will Hernandez, Zach Fulton, and Chad Slade all playing out their respective contracts this year. West would be an ideal player who could slot in at center or guard and likely get playing time rather quickly.
Round 3, Pick No. 73
Cade Otton, TE, Washington (6050, 250, 4.78e)
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Despite coming off of a season where he was named to the Pro Bowl, many would say tight end Evan Engram did not quite live up to expectations for the Giants in 2020. Couple that with the signing of Kyle Rudolph and Engram's impending free agency next spring, it would be wise for the Giants to look into the tight end position in next year’s draft.
Cade Otton is (you guessed it) another Pac-12 player who is the starting tight end for the Washington Huskies. A redshirt senior who has started 27 games during his college career, Otton was terrific during the Huskies’ four-game season in 2020. He averaged over 64 yards per game and was named to the All Pac-12 First Team.
Stylistically he’s a very different player than Evan Engram. Otton has more of that “prototypical” positional build for a tight end but is an impressive athlete who displayed crip route running on drag and slant routes.
He possesses soft hands and impressive run-after-the-catch ability. He needs to work on consistency, but Otton would have a great mentor in Rudolph if we were to be selected by the Giants.
Round 3, Pick No. 84 (from Miami)
Jordan Davis, IDL, Georgia (6052, 330, 5.42e)
The Giants acquired this pick in a second-round trade-down with the Dolphins in 2021, which not only acquired New York Azeez Ojulari but Miami’s third-round pick in 2022. With Dalvin Tomlinson now in Minnesota and projected starting nose tackle Danny Shelton on a one-year deal, getting more help in the middle of the defensive line should be a priority.
Jordan Davis is a senior defensive tackle out of Georgia who's been manning the 1-tech spot for Georgia over the past three seasons. A massive human being at nearly 6’6” and over 330 pounds, Davis has a ton of potential as a two-down run-stuffer in the NFL.
He only has five total sacks across three years, and he (believe it or not) needs to add more strength, but he plays with excellent leverage, and his motor is always running hot. He could be a really good value in the middle rounds.
Round 4, Pick No. 111
Micah McFadden, LB, Indiana (6020, 227, 4.82e)
Outside of Blake Martinez, the Giants don’t have much of anything proven at the other inside linebacker spot. Reggie Ragland is on a one-year contract, and the likes of Cam Brown, Carter Coughlin, and Tae Crowder enter 2021 with promise but need to solidify their respective standings.
The team should add more depth and talent, and that’s where Micah McFadden slots in. Coming off a season where he was named an AP Third-Team All-American, McFadden looks and feels like a New York Football Giants linebacker.
He’s great in run defense and has the instincts in the box to be an effective pass-rusher as well, with six sacks during the Hoosier’s 2020 campaign. He’ll never be known as a coverage specialist, but he is a smart, productive player with boatloads of experience is always a good choice.
Round 4, Pick No. 113
Zonovan Knight, RB, North Carolina State (551, 206, 4.46e)
Take it easy, guys. This pick is not an indictment on Saquon Barkley, who, if he returns to his All-Pro level play in 2021, Saquon will be a mainstay on this roster for many years.
Behind him is where things get murky. Devontae Booker is a solid power back, but there’s not too much else as of right now. Corey Clement and Mike Weber are on one-year deals, and Alfred Morris is likely to sign for a one-year deal as well, while 2021 sixth-round pick Gary Brightwell looks to be used primarily on special teams.
Zonovan Knight is an all-around back who is currently North Carolina State’s all-time leader in rushing efficiency with 5.94 yards per carry. According to PFF, he’s never been used in a workhorse role and dealt with some drops in the passing game, but he’s an elusive, athletic runner who tied for the nations’ highest broken tackle rate.
Round 5, Pick No. 151
Ochaun Mathis, ED, TCU (6051, 247, 4.72e)
Ochaun Mathis is going into his third year as a starter at TCU and is coming off of a season where he netted nine sacks and was named to the Big-12’s All-Second Team.
Despite playing primarily in a 4-3 alignment, he’s only listed at 247 pounds and encapsulated the physical traits that can make him effective standing up. Mathis possesses a handful of effective moves off of the edge and is a very sound tackler in the running game.
Round 6, Pick No. 188
Grayson McCall, QB, Coastal Carolina (6030, 200, 4.67e)
I went into this mock draft under the assumption that even if the Giants are bad enough that they would be picking top-ten, a top-tier quarterback such as UNC’s Sam Howell or Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler probably won’t last.
Grayson McCall was outstanding for the Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina in 2020. During his redshirt freshman season, he had nearly a 9:1 TD-INT ratio and was named the Sun Belt’s Offensive Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, and All-Sun Belt First Team.
McCall has more than sufficient arm strength and an uncanny ability to be dead-on accurate on outside passes. He also has some nice scoot to his game with 569 rushing yards and seven rushing scores last fall. Still a young player, he is extremely raw and oblivious under pressure, but he’d be a fun developmental swing at this stage.
Round 7, Pick No. 230
Emeka Emezie, WR, North Carolina State (6021, 220, 4.53e)
The Giants cap off this way-too-early mock draft with another offensive weapon and one that could be a very intriguing red-zone weapon.
Emeka Emezie has been the starting X-receiver for NC State since the 2018 season, catching over 150 passes for the Wolfpack. He possesses fantastic size, great muscle mass, and insanely strong hands.
He’s the type of guy you need inside the 20 to box out defensive backs and separate to score touchdowns. He’s a bit of an older prospect (will be 24 in May 2022), but if playing behind Kenny Golladay or even spending a year on the Giants practice squad, he has a chance to be a future contributor.
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