The New York Giants haven’t drafted a linebacker in the first round of the draft since plucking Carl Banks out of Michigan State in 1984, but in ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay’s latest mock draft, that could change this year.
McShay’s latest mock projects Notre Dame inside linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah to the Giants in the first round, a very different pick from the usual selections of receivers and edge rushers that have mostly been mocked to the Giants since mock draft season kicked into high gear back in January.
Notes McShay of his selection:
"I wouldn't be surprised to see the Giants look at USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker, but they just took three linemen in the first five rounds last year, including Andrew Thomas at No. 4 overall. And while the defense was stellar last season, getting defensive coordinator Patrick Graham a versatile, rangy, fast, instinctive linebacker like Owusu-Koramoah will help keep it that way."
The first thing that jumps out is McShay’s reasoning that because the Giants took three offensive linemen last year in the first five rounds, that will likely preclude them from doing so again in the first round of this draft. That is faulty thinking. For one, offensive linemen get hurt.
Besides that, as has been noted before, the Giants have four offensive linemen—Will Hernandez, Nate Solder, Jonotthan Harrison, and Zach Fulton—signed through this year only. That means sooner than later, they’re going to have to replenish the depth as there’s little chance all four will be re-signed.
Now while a team doesn’t want to draft a depth player to ride the pine in the first round, the point is that you can’t discount the first-round pick being an offensive lineman, not when only two of your line’s five starting jobs (left tackle and center) are thought to be locked up.
Do we know for sure that the loser of the Hernandez-Shane Lemieux competition at left guard is going to automatically move to right guard, or will one of those two career-left guards end up as depth? And can we say for sure that second-year man Matt Peart is a lock for the starting right tackle job, or will he have to compete to earn it?
That all said, McShay’s choice of Owusu-Koramoah is interesting given his versatility. According to NFL.com, an unnamed AFC personnel executive drew a comparison between Owusu-Koramoah and Arizona linebacker Isaiah Simmons, once linked to the Giants before being drafted by the Cardinals. Like Simmons, the executive noted that a team needs to have a good idea of how to deploy Owusu-Koramoah to get the most out of him.
But the problem with Owusu-Koramoah is he’s a bit of a ‘tweener, according to NFL.com’s scouting report, and he doesn’t yet have solid linebacking fundamentals.
If a team is going to spend the 11th overall pick in the draft on a prospect, presumably it should at least have an idea of how to deploy the talent rather than having to go through a trial and error period, which could result in the prospect not being quite the value he initially was thought to be.