Mel Kiper of ESPN has released the third edition of his 2021 mock draft. Amid the signing of Kenny Golladay, the Giants address the defense.
With the dust settling on the 2021 NFL free agency period, we’re slowly creeping into draft season — this year’s event is scheduled to occur from Thursday, April 29 until Saturday, May 1.
Either New York ballclub has decisions to make in regard to their respective first-round selections. Will the Jets draft a quarterback at No. 2? An offensive weapon at No. 23? The Giants have a multitude of options for the No. 11 pick, what will they decide to do?
In his latest mock draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper provides the potential answers to the aforementioned questions.
Jets’ No. 2 Overall Pick: BYU QB Zach Wilson
Kiper ultimately believes the Jets won’t pass on Zach Wilson, a quarterback who has the potential to be a superstar in this league. Wilson would benefit from the offensive weapons general manager Joe Douglas acquired via the free-agent market this year, such as wide receivers Corey Davis and Keelan Cole.
This potential pick definitely comes with risk though. Wilson would likely be starting right away and assume an absurd amount of responsibility as a young 22-year-old. This is why the free-agent signings on the offensive side of the ball would prove crucial.
The drafting of Wilson would mean a trade of Sam Darnold, and at this point, the ship has possibly sailed on the Jets acquiring a late first-round pick for him. The organization could probably snag a second-round or third-round pick, or maybe even both for the young quarterback. The former USC star still carries the potential to succeed in the NFL, he just needs the proper offensive assistance around him.
Denver may be a potential suitor ahead of the 2021 season.
Jets’ No. 23 Overall Pick: Notre Dame LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
Since the Jets signed a No. 1 wide receiver in free agency (Corey Davis), there’s a legitimate chance they focus on the defensive side of the ball with their late first-round pick.
Newly-hired head coach Robert Saleh will be bringing a 4-3 defensive scheme to Florham Park, so Notre Dame inside linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (who Kiper selects here) would be perfect for the system.
The Fighting Irish standout was a unanimous All-American and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year this past season, having notched 62 combined tackles with 11.0 tackles for loss and a trio of forced fumbles. He additionally won the 2020 Butkus Award for the top linebacker at the collegiate level.
The Jets may not need an edge rusher in the first round given their recent acquisition of defensive end Carl Lawson. They could utilize this pick to address the secondary, but ultimately, Owusu-Koramoah would immediately slot in alongside free-agent pickup Jarrad Davis. C.J. Mosley would contribute as well, but it’s unconfirmed whether he’ll be a Jet in 2021 — the organization may trade him prior to the season.
Giants’ No. 11 Overall Pick: Michigan DE Kwity Paye
This is a pretty decent pick by Kiper. The Giants now employ a true No. 1 receiver in Kenny Golladay, so they won’t need to draft Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith if either is available at No. 11. They additionally signed cornerback Adoree’ Jackson to a three-year deal, so they likely won’t address that spot in the opening round.
Thus, focusing on the edge rusher position is a real possibility.
Kwity Paye portrayed superb talent while at Michigan and twice earned a second-team All-Big Ten selection.
Kiper believes in his potential, writing, “I’ve heard that Paye is going to impress scouts at his pro day on March 26 and put up incredible testing numbers across the board. The production wasn’t there at Michigan — 11.5 sacks in four seasons — but I would bet on his upside, and you can see his tremendous first-step ability if you turn on the tape.”
Pairing Paye with star defensive lineman Leonard Williams would make for a dangerous pass rush in 2021 and beyond.
The only issue, however, is that coordinator Patrick Graham runs a very situational defense that happens to be matchup-based. Thus, he may not need another star pass rusher, but instead, a player who can fill a specific role. This may keep the Giants from drafting an edge rusher with their valuable No. 11 overall selection.