It’s clear what the Jets will do at No. 2 overall. However, the Giants’ route at No. 11 and the Jets’ at No. 23 remain mysteries.
The 2021 NFL Draft has nearly arrived. This Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. ET, the Jaguars will be on the clock with the first overall pick and are expected to draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
It’ll be one of the more exciting nights of the year for football fans alike, including those of the two local teams.
The Jets and Giants own a combined three first-round picks (at least for right now). While the former possesses the No. 2 and 23 selections, the latter is currently residing at the eleventh overall spot.
What will either organization decide to do during the ever-important evening?
Jets’ No. 2 Pick
This one is obvious — the pick will be BYU quarterback Zach Wilson.
This has been the narrative for quite some time and the Jets confirmed they were going to draft a quarterback in the first round when they traded Sam Darnold to Carolina earlier this month.
Wilson will likely be asked to start right away as a rookie quarterback, an extremely difficult task and one that’s not all too common in this era. Despite the young age, he’ll need to do his part to lead an offense that finished last in both total yards and scoring and second-to-last in passing in 2020.
To effectively develop, he’ll require the right on-field assistance around him. The Jets made efforts to improve that side of the ball with the free-agent acquisitions of wide receivers Corey Davis and Keelan Cole. But to further provide Wilson with an effective and reliable supporting cast, the organization will need to continue acquiring offensive weapons throughout the annual draft.
This brings us to the subsequent Gang Green first-round selection…
Jets’ No. 23 Pick
The Jets possess a multitude of options with the 23rd overall pick (should they keep it and not trade up or back). There’s a chance they draft an edge rusher that drops to the back half of the first round or possibly a cornerback to improve a secondary that struggled last year.
It’s a prestigious draft resource and they might utilize it on the defensive side of the ball or also on a talented running back, sure. But the correct move here would be to draft a wide receiver.
Wilson will obviously need to develop, and to be honest, the free-agent acquisitions may not be enough to ensure he’ll be in the best position possible to do so.
There’s a very small chance Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith will be available by that time of the night. There’s certainly no chance LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase will be — he’s expected to go in the top 10.
However, this wide receiver class is deep, and the Jets could potentially cash in on Elijah Moore out of Ole Miss or Kadarius Toney out of Florida.
Giants’ No. 11 Pick
The Giants have four main positions they could target with their valuable No. 11 pick — wide receiver, edge rusher, inside linebacker, and offensive tackle.
Many believe the latter-most position is a legitimate possibility, but it’s tough to imagine the Giants drafting a tackle in the first round for the second consecutive year. Plus, the organization may be high on pending second-year tackle Matthew Peart, who Big Blue drafted in last year’s third round.
The other three positions, however, may be beneficial routes to take.
Despite the signing of wide receiver Kenny Golladay last month, the Giants could further improve Daniel Jones’ slate of weapons to help him develop and succeed in year three. Waddle and Smith may both be targets at No. 11.
Big Blue doesn’t possess a great deal of talent at the edge rusher spot, so they could indeed take advantage of an impressive class at that position but may also bypass doing so in order to acquire someone who drops to the second round — Penn State’s Jayson Oweh and Oklahoma’s Ronnie Perkins could be available at No. 42 overall.
Then there’s the inside linebacker option; the Giants may need someone to complement the tackling machine that is Blake Martinez. 2020 seventh-round pick Tae Crowder showed potential last year, but adding a talented body like Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah or Penn State’s Micah Parsons (if he’s on the board) would be great for a defense looking to further succeed after a strong 2020 season.
If it were up to me, the Giants would jump on Owusu-Koramoah given his playmaking abilities. Fielding him alongside Martinez would work wonders for this defensive unit and the Giants could still execute a superb value pick on a talented edge rusher or receiver that drops to the second round.