NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah made a crack on Wednesday about how Giants general manager Dave Gettleman has never traded back in the NFL Draft, but there is a first time for everything.
Plus, the Giants philosophies have trended more toward being Bill Belichick-esque after hiring Joe Judge as head coach, and a willingness to trade back and get more picks is part of the Patriot Way of thinking.
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The Giants could be in a prime position to trade back this year too, especially since they aren’t viewed as a team in need of a quarterback. If one of the top quarterbacks — like Mac Jones, Justin Fields and/or Trey Lance — fall all the way to No. 11, the Giants will be in prime position for a move-back with a QB-needy team, like the Patriots or Bears.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Tuesday that the Giants were exploring a move back.
If the Giants did break Gettleman’s trend, who might they be targeting?
Here are 12 players that would make the most sense, in order from most likely target to least:
EDGE Azeez Ojulari, Georgia: Right now, Ojulari seems like the likeliest trade-back target. The Giants were involved with Georgia’s Pro Day where they got a good look at him, they have a recent history of prioritizing players from Georgia and have multiple ties to the Bulldogs coaching staff. Ojulari is also an ideal fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker/edge rusher, which is an obvious position of need. Out of the edge rushers expected to be available, Ojulari probably has the fewest question marks. PFF gave him a 91.7 pass-rush grade in 2020, when he had 9.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss and eight QB hits.
EDGE Kwity Paye, Michigan: There’s been rumblings about Paye being a possible target for the Giants at No. 11, though that would be too early relative to how much of the league has Paye graded. He wasn’t especially productive in college (11.5 sacks in 28 games) but has a high ceiling with his combination of size (6-2, 261), strength (36 bench press reps) and athleticism (4.52 40-yard dash). Jeremiah said on a Wednesday that Paye might be the best Giants fit of all the possible edge rushers.
“Kwity Paye would give them more juice and a sort of fastball off the edge,” Jeremiah said. “He’d complement the guys they have.”
OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC: He’s a potential candidate at No. 11 but would be more ideal in a trade-back for the Giants. His versatility is appealing. Vera-Tucker could step in right now for the Giants as a starter at tackle (over Matt Peart) or guard (over Shane Lemieux or Zach Fulton). NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said on Wednesday that he has All-Pro potential.
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EDGE Jaelan Phillips, Miami: In terms of raw talent, Phillips would be defensible as the pick at No. 11. He showed flashes of dominance at Miami last year, getting eight sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss, 29 hurries, 18 run stops and one interception. But there are questions, especially since he had concussion problems in college that got bad enough that he retired for a brief period. The talent might be worth the risk, especially in a trade-back.
EDGE Jayson Oweh, Penn State: One of the bigger “boom or bust” prospects in this entire draft, and the Giants should have as much knowledge as any team with the presence of Giants defensive line coach Sean Spencer, who previously coached at Penn State. Oweh is one of the most freakish athletes at his position to ever enter the NFL Draft: 4.39 40-yard dash, 6.84-second three-cone and 40-inch vertical. But he also had zero sacks for Penn State in 2020. The ceiling is sky high, but there is a low floor too.
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame: He’s not particularly big (6-1, 221) but he has impressive athleticism and explosiveness and is the sort of chess piece that Patrick Graham could have fun with. He can play linebacker, safety or even nickel corner, according to The Athletic’s Dane Brugler.
CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina: Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer has reported that the Giants have shown interest in cornerbacks in the pre-draft process, which would be somewhat surprising considering the Giants are paying both James Bradberry and Adoree’ Jackson big money and picked Darnay Holmes last year. But it can’t be ruled out, especially after Gettleman said this week that he thinks Jackson can play nickel too — which was Holmes’ job last year. Horn might be drafted earlier than the Giants can get him in a trade-back, but that’s not a lock. He’s the second-best corner in the draft after Patrick Surtain.
EDGE Gregory Rousseau, Miami: His agent might think he’s first-round lock, but there clearly are some questions about where Rousseau falls in the draft order. He didn’t play in 2020 and while he was dominant in 2019 (15.5 sacks) he also only played one full college season and didn’t test as well as Phillips at Miami’s Pro Day. Still, Jeremiah views him as another interesting fit for the Giants — and he’s been compared to Jason Pierre-Paul by other experts too.
“Rousseau with his length and size can do a lot of things,” Jeremiah said. “With him you’re going to be able to let him sub-rush inside and do some unique things.”
DT Christian Barmore, Alabama: There is only one defensive tackle worth picking in the first round, and it’s Barmore. The Giants have a bunch of rotational-level players in the building to try and replace Dalvin Tomlinson’s snaps on the defensive line — Danny Shelton, Austin Johnson and B.J. Hill — but they all are on one-year deals and probably aren’t long-term solutions. Barmore is the best defensive tackle on the board, which can never be ruled out for Dave Gettleman.
LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa: He measured out surprisingly large for an off-ball linebacker (6-4, 270) but he has the versatility to drop back in coverage or rush the passer. He had a 93.7 coverage grade in 2020, per PFF.
WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota: It would be surprising if the Giants had a shot at DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle at No. 11 and then traded back to draft a different receiver, but if they were going to do it, Bateman makes sense as a possible target (as does Florida’s Kadarius Toney). Bateman ran a 4.41 40-yard dash and is considered a polished route runner.
OL Landon Dickerson, Alabama: Picking Dickerson before the end of the first round might be a bit early, but the Giants certainly have an affinity for all things Alabama. Dickerson can play guard or center and only allowed one sack in three years, per PFF. The Athletic has Dickerson ranked as the second-best interior lineman in the entire class.
Others worth mentioning — even if they’re probably unlikely targets: T Christian Darrisaw (Virginia Tech), WR Kadarius Toney (Florida), WR Elijah Moore (Ole Miss), CB Caleb Farley (Virginia), CB Greg Newsome (Northwestern)
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