It will be hard to screw this up. But a recent mock draft from The Athletic has general manager Joe Schoen doing just that — albeit out of circumstance.
The situation: The two top offensive tackles — N.C. State’s Ikem Ekwonu and Alabama’s Evan Neal — go in the first four picks along with Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and Cincinnati cornerback Sauce Gardner. The Giants grab pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux of Oregon at No. 5. And then the Panthers nab Mississippi State tackle Charles Cross at No. 6.
So what does Schoen do? According to the mock, he goes all-in on need and grabs Northern Iowa tackle Trevor Penning:
I know this is a reach, and Giants fans are probably yelling at their screens. I was certain Neal or Ekwonu would be there at five, and perhaps Cross would be available at seven. Ideally, I would trade back, but in absence of a trade partner, we select Penning, to fill the need on the offensive line and make the Giants better on the line of scrimmage with these two top-10 picks.
Analysis: I love Thibodeaux. I think he could absolutely boost a Giants pass rush in need of great assistance. But in this situation, they could wait until No. 7 to take him. Carolina doesn’t figure to be in the market for a pass rusher at No. 6. The Panthers were second in the NFL in pass rush win rate (51%) last year. If Thibodeaux is on the board at No. 5 and only one of the top three tackles is available (in this case it’s Cross after Ikem Ekwonu went first overall and Evan Neal went third), the Giants need to go tackle.