ESPN’s Mel Kiper has released his first 2022 NFL Mock Draft.
The Giants need help in various areas of the roster.
The overall offensive unit requires significant assistance after another putrid season while the defense needs to greatly improve in the pass-rushing department.
Luckily, the organization (which will employ a new general manager very soon) possesses an abundance of draft picks, including two in the first round.
Who does ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper have the Giants acquiring with their pair of opening-round selections?
5. Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
Kiper’s Take: “There has been a lot of recent buzz around Ekwonu, whose stock is rising. He dominated at left tackle for the Wolfpack this season after playing some guard earlier in his career. Based on the 2021 tape, there’s not much separating Ekwonu from Evan Neal, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Ekwonu was the top tackle off the board in April. He has All-Pro potential as a run-blocker and as a pass-blocker.
“For the Giants — who haven’t yet replaced coach Joe Judge or general manager Dave Gettleman — this would be top-five tackles in two of the past three drafts, but even though Andrew Thomas played better this season, the right tackle spot is far from settled. They just have to get better up front, and taking Ekwonu is a step toward that. Like the Jets, they have two top-10 picks, and they could go offense with the No. 7 selection.”
Our Take: There’s a ton of talk about the Giants needing to address the edge rusher position with the first of their opening-round picks.
But amongst the fanbase, I bet selecting an offensive tackle will eventually become the most desired move once April’s draft nears.
With Alabama’s Evan Neal off the board here, Kiper has the Giants taking arguably the second-best offensive tackle in this draft in NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu — what would be a solid move at No. 5.
Despite the widespread offensive struggles within this Big Blue team, the Giants at least have their potential left tackle of the future. Andrew Thomas significantly improved in 2021 after a rough 2020 campaign and was the offense’s top player this past season.
If the Giants are going to roll the dice with quarterback Daniel Jones in 2022, they’ll need to shore up the offensive line and provide him the necessary protection. While the blindside is seemingly set, the right tackle position is not (as Kiper mentions), given Nate Solder’s struggles, increasing age, and contract situation along with Matthew Peart’s slow development.
The selection of Ekwonu would (hopefully) provide the Giants with each of their bookend tackles for years to come.
7. David Ojabo, OLB, Michigan
Kiper’s Take: “It’s always tough to project for teams that haven’t hired new general managers, so here’s my thinking for this pick, which comes from the Bears in the Justin Fields trade up last year: The Giants have some solid options on defense, but it’s fair to say they underperformed as a unit in 2021. The best way to get better as a whole? Pressure the quarterback, which helps every level of the defense. Rookie second-round pick Azeez Ojulari had a nice season, leading the team with eight sacks, but they don’t have another top-tier edge rusher on the other side.
“Ojabo can help the pass rush immediately. He had an incredibly impressive season, racking up 11 sacks and five forced fumbles while playing opposite my projected No. 1 pick, Aidan Hutchinson. He doesn’t have Hutchinson’s all-around game — he has to get better against the run — but as a pure pass-rusher, he has a very high ceiling. With these two top-seven selections, New York can get high-end starters on both sides of the ball.”
Our Take: I understand if you don’t always like what Mel Kiper has to say, but it’s tough to disagree with him on either of these Giants mock picks.
Big Blue needs great assistance on the offensive line and in the pass-rushing department, and Kiper has the team addressing each area with its prestigious first-round selections.
The Giants are most likely going to miss out on Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, the top two edge rushers in this draft.
Thus, say hello to Michigan outside linebacker David Ojabo, who could fare well alongside 2021 second-round outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari.
The Giants saw great production out of Ojulari but need additional weapons in this area of the field in order to overwhelm opposing quarterbacks. This is especially the case when you consider the uncertain futures of both Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines.
Greatly utilizing Ojabo, Ojulari, and Leonard Williams (among others) in the pass-rushing game would take notable pressure off the Giants secondary.
Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY