We’re 64 days away from the 2018 NFL Draft! It seems like yesterday that we were watching our first college football game of these season. Now we’re just a few short days away from the Scouting Combine, then free agency shortly thereafter. Clearly, a lot can happen between now and the draft. We all know that. Something will happen off the field. Certain players won’t test as well as we expected, therefore they won’t meet our standards and will drop down our boards.
Speaking of boards, let’s do a mini-board. Not a big board, but a mini-board of “draft options” for teams in the first round. This will be a new series coming to Cover1, and if you don’t like your team’s mini-board, I want you to complain to me on Twitter in 280 characters or fewer @RussNFLDraft.
The next team on the clock for this new series is the New York Giants. They’re an interesting team and are in an interesting position. They’re in a prime position to trade back if they don’t feel like any of these quarterbacks are worth taking to revamp their franchise. By sitting at second overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Giants hold the key to the top 5 selections of the first round. It might sound crazy, but it’s true. They don’t necessarily need a quarterback and, again, trading back makes sense for a team that lacks depth. But trading back doesn’t happen for everyone, so what if it doesn’t happen for them? Let’s take a look at who the New York Giants should consider with the second overall pick.
Quenton Nelson, OG from Notre Dame
I'm a sucker for great blocking schemes. McGlinchey (LT) blocks down on the 3T perfectly. Nelson pulls and hits the 9T (Cooper #98). The center gets to the second level with ease and owns #38. Great run by the back to top it off. pic.twitter.com/erw7oPWD0q
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) February 4, 2018
Many of you are going to fill the comments section with the fact that teams “can’t draft an interior offensive lineman” this high in the draft. Why is that? Is there a written rule? Or is it because of the history of the draft? The tendencies in the draft normally push these types of players down boards. Here’s the thing, though. Quenton Nelson isn’t your typical offensive guard. So if the Giants break the tendencies of the draft and just take a good football player (Nelson), remember you heard it here first.
Nelson is the type of player that is a franchise interior offensive lineman. Certainly, that may not be important to most of you on the surface. Why? Because it’s not a flashy pick, and the average fan doesn’t appreciate their team’s offensive line. In reality, Nelson is going to be a 10-12 year professional as an elite left guard. He does so many things at a high level, it’s ridiculous.
From a technique standpoint, you consistently see a wide base with low pad level and great hand placement. Consistently, his hands are placed inside and on the defenders’ chest plates. He’s consistently working his feet and grinding forward in the run game. He overpowers defensive linemen, and with his aggressive play, he’s always looking for someone to hit. This past season at Notre Dame, he helped the Fighting Irish generate the 7th-best rushing attack in the country. They carried the ball 560 times for 3,501 yards, good for 6.25 yards per carry.
Not only does Nelson operate well in space, he’s also fluid in pass protection. He takes the proper angle in his kick-step and consistently anchors at the point-of-attack (POA). In pass protection this year, Nelson allowed one sack and two hurries on 378 pass snaps (according to Pro Football Focus). This gave him a pass blocking efficiency (PBE) of 99.3% and easily placed him in the top-10 of the country. By drafting Nelson, this would give the Giants a legitimate offensive lineman that can help correct the many offensive woes this team had this past season.
Next Franchise Quarterback?
A barometer pass for every QB evaluation. Right hash to the far sideline on an intermediate out breaking route. Nice throw by Allen. pic.twitter.com/UBL7TRdZ48
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) February 8, 2018
There are certainly a couple of quarterbacks the Giants could consider at this position. Personally, if Josh Rosen is there, he should be their guy. However, if he’s not, they should strongly consider Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold. Now why should they consider any of those quarterbacks? Let’s start with Rosen. I love the way he goes through his progressions and the way he handles himself during pre-snap reads. That’s just the beginning, though. He puts some nice zip on the football, especially when he has a clean pocket. His mechanics are better than any quarterback’s in this class. He doesn’t have elite arm strength, but it’s good enough to win football games and shouldn’t hold him back at the next level.
If Sam Darnold is on the board, it wouldn’t be surprising if he was the pick. He makes unique throws all over the field and holds himself together in the pocket. What do I mean by that? He stands strong while getting hit and still places the ball in tight windows. His athletic ability should carry him far, especially in the red zone. He needs to fix his lower body mechanics and overall throwing motion, though. If he does, he should be very successful. Teams should love the intangibles and the upside that follow Darnold. As for Pat Shurmur, he heavily utilizes run-pass options (RPO’s) in his offense. For Darnold, that’s a big positive. At USC, they ran RPO’s often and it led to plenty of success. Having him sit under Eli Manning for a season may be the most ideal situation for this team.
The next two quarterbacks the Giants should consider are Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen. These two options don’t seem likely but they should still be considered. Baker Mayfield is a better prospect than Josh Allen and is already the better passer. Mayfield is unique because of the way he carries himself. Yes, the competitive spirit and chip on his shoulder are bigger than the Empire State Building, but he has great athletic ability, anticipates his throws really well, and is the most accurate quarterback in the draft. As for Josh Allen, he’s got the athletic ability to escape the pocket. He does a nice job going through his progressions, but often times you can see that he’s rushing through them. Aside from that, he’s sporadic with his ball placement. I think Baker could start for a team from day one, but Josh Allen is certainly going to need more time. With that being said, the Giants will consider all of these quarterbacks, but ultimately, I think their pick would come down to Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen.
Saquon Barkley, RB from Penn State
Makes a defender miss in the backfield and turns this into a 3+ yard gain. IDK how he does it sometimes. pic.twitter.com/KAcx6jgEV5
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) February 12, 2018
Taking a player who was originally born in the Bronx, New York just seems like a feel-good story on draft night. By drafting Saquon Barkley, the Giants would get a running back that they’ve desperately needed for quite some time. Clearly, there needs to be some improvement on the offensive line. but by adding Barkley, the Giants’ offense would be complete. They would have no reason to not score more points than the opposition. Barkley would help protect a quarterback that’s on his last leg, and he’d become a reliable option in the red zone because of his pass catching ability and ability to make defenders miss.
Random stat of the day. Saquon Barkley converted a 1st down on just 60% of his 3rd/4th downs with 3 yards or less to go. However he converted a ridiculous 45% of his 3rd down and 10 or more yards to go into a 1st down.
— Adam Spinks (@TheRBScout) February 21, 2018
Certainly, he needs to stop avoiding contact, but that’s also what makes him so electric. The moment he avoids contact, jump-cuts and breaks a carry off for a long gain, it’s what makes him such a special prospect. With Pat Shurmur as the Giants’ head coach, this team will run a West Coast offense that incorporates spread concepts and a power run game behind it. This past year, the Vikings (Pat Shurmur was their offensive coordinator) ran the ball the second most in the NFL. This bodes well for Barkley, who’s an all-purpose back who should be an every down playmaker for the Giants.