The New York Giants will have a number of critical decisions on their hands when the 2021 NFL Draft commences in late April.
Coming off a fourth consecutive losing season is not exactly a position of desire when you’re an NFL organization. Nonetheless, that’s the spot the Giants have found themselves in ahead of the 2021 season.
With year two of the Joe Judge era (and year three of the Daniel Jones era) approaching, the Giants front office needs to proceed with caution when it comes to this extremely important (and pandemic-impacted) offseason period. Fans are growing impatient — enough of the culture talk, enough of the claims that you’re heading in the right direction. Time to prove it on the field en route to a noteworthy number of wins and the first playoff berth since the 2016 campaign.
Wins, however, require talent, and the Giants will certainly look to acquire said talent with their numerous selections in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Who could Big Blue ultimately bring from the collegiate gridiron to East Rutherford?
Let’s dive into our first Giants mock draft of the 2021 offseason.
1st round (No. 11 overall) — Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Kyle Pitts would absolutely be an upgrade from Evan Engram, who the Giants need to trade this offseason while they can still get something in return. The Florida tight end sports great size at 6-foot-6, 246 pounds but is athletic and versatile enough to take reps in the slot.
He additionally possesses superb hands, having caught 43 balls for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns in eight games for the Gators last season.
Pitts’ talent, production, and consistency would provide Daniel Jones with the assistance he needs in the passing game. The Florida standout’s knack for the end zone would also be a huge plus, considering the Giants crossed the plane through the air just 12 times in 2020 (tied for last).
2nd round (No. 42 overall) — Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse
The Giants require a long-term option at the cornerback position opposite James Bradberry. While they can sign a veteran to a short-term deal to man that spot for 2021, the Giants could still draft Ifeatu Melifonwu out of Syracuse to develop behind that potential starter.
Melifonwu is sized at 6-foot-3, 214 pounds and can portray a physical side to his game, having combined for 54 tackles (three tackles for loss) in 10 games for the Orange last season. He additionally recorded 19 pass breakups in 23 total collegiate matchups.
The reason Melifonwu wouldn’t start right away is that it’s a significant request to have a rookie corner immediately take the starting reps. The speed of the game is much different at the professional level — just look at how guys like DeAndre Baker and Jeff Okudah fared in their respective rookie campaigns.
A veteran free-agent cornerback would start and provide the guidance Melifonwu needs in order to develop in his first year, and while that’s occurring, the then-rookie could be a situational defensive back within Patrick Graham’s defense.
3rd round (No. 76 overall) — Seth Williams, WR, Auburn
With the Giants addressing the tight end and cornerback voids in the first two rounds, the team should then select a young wide receiver in the third to help offensive coordinator Jason Garrett spread the field and potentially replace Golden Tate (who may not be a Giant in 2021).
Enter: Seth Williams.
The Auburn wideout would be a decent option down near the goal line given his size. Williams is 6-foot-3 — taller than Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, and Tate.
He’s a big-play wide receiver, having averaged 16.1 yards per catch through three college seasons (33 games) to go with 17 total touchdown receptions.
Building around Jones should be a significant objective for the organization, and finally snagging a tall option for red zone purposes would assist in that entire development.
4th round (No. 107 overall) — Ronnie Perkins, EDGE, Oklahoma
The Giants don’t need to snag a star edge rusher in free agency or in the first round. Patrick Graham’s defense is very situational, meaning a number of the edge rushers are role players when it comes to pressuring opposing quarterbacks.
The team’s pass-rushing depth is additionally fine right now and will especially be if Leonard Williams remains with the team. That’s why the Giants should be comfortable waiting until the fourth round to snag a talented EDGE, and with this pick, they’d benefit from selecting Oklahoma’s Ronnie Perkins.
At 6-foot-3, 247 pounds, Perkins has decent size and underwent a productive season with the Sooners in 2020, racking up 5.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss in six games. His efforts earned him a spot on the All-Big 12 second team.
An outside linebacker rotation involving Perkins, Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, Carter Coughlin, Cam Brown, and potentially Kyler Fackrell (if the team re-signs him) could be great for Graham’s defensive gameplans.
6th round (No. 172 overall) — Bryce Hargrove, iOL, Pitt
An offensive guard could indeed be needed in 2021 given the unclear future of Kevin Zeitler, who might be a cap casualty.
The Giants still employ Will Hernandez, but regardless, they’ll need a reserve to sit behind him, Shane Lemieux, and Zeitler (if he stays).
Pitt’s Bryce Hargrove stands at 6-foot-4, 320 pounds and found on-field success in a Power Five conference last season, earning an All-ACC Honorable Mention selection.
This is all the more impressive when you take into account some of the competition Hargrove faced in 2020 — Louisville, NC State, Miami (FL), Notre Dame, and Clemson.
6th round (No. 177 overall) — Jaret Patterson, RB, Buffalo
Could Buffalo running back Jaret Patterson still be on the board at No. 177? Well, if he is, the Giants should heavily consider selecting him.
Big Blue will need another back to sit behind Saquon Barkley. Wayne Gallman is likely leaving the organization to seek a decent chunk of change and the opportunity to compete for a starting job elsewhere.
While not as large as Saquon, Patterson sports notable speed and vision. He utilized these effective attributes en route to winning the MAC Offensive Player of the Year last season and earning a first-team All-MAC selection in both 2019 and 2020.
He’s extremely productive and rushed for at least 1,000 yards in each of his three seasons at Buffalo, including this past year when he rushed for 1,072 yards and 19 touchdowns in just six games — yes, six. Patterson ultimately averaged 7.6 yards per carry, 178.7 yards per game, and 3.2 touchdowns per game in 2020.
The 21-year-old is talented but could still be on the board in the sixth round due to the other gifted running backs in this draft who faced more pro-like competition at the collegiate level.