Hey, look, the NFL draft kicks off on Thursday night.
There has not been much buzz about this year’s edition around town. The Giants are picking the latest — No. 25 — in the first round than they have since 2012. And the Jets have understandably been focused on Aaron Rodgers. But we’re here now, and all eyes are on what general managers Joe Douglas and Joe Schoen will do.
Some quick thoughts:
The Giants should stay away from a wide receiver in the first round. Yes, they desperately need a playmaking No. 1 to go along with their vast array of No. 3 pass catchers. But the NFL as a whole has struggled to effectively evaluate first-round receivers in recent years. There have been way too many busts taken early and too many stars in the middle rounds. It is not worth it unless you are convinced about a guy.
What they should do … Grab a pass rusher, a defensive tackle or Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer. The latter would be the move to make if Schoen is determined to get Daniel Jones a receiving target. Mayer is a safer pick than any of the receivers who will be available in the Giants’ range. You can never have enough pass rushers and Azeez Ojulari’s durability is a concern after an injury-plagued 2022. And it seems unlikely the Giants can pay Leonard Williams next offseason, so it is time to think about his successor.
The Jets appear destined to take an offensive tackle. Which makes sense. Duane Brown will be 38 in Week 1, who knows what they’re going to get out of Mekhi Becton and, most importantly, they need to keep Aaron Rodgers upright for the next season or three.
But they should also consider taking Mayer. The kid is going to be a star and would be another talented offensive weapon. Rodgers will surely approve of him too.
Don’t be shocked if the Giants take a quarterback. Brian Daboll will inevitably want to develop his own guy at some point, even if he is just a backup and potential trade chip down the road. This could be the time, especially if they are incredibly high on a guy like Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker and he slips into the second round. The Giants are only committed to Jones through 2024 and Tyrod Taylor is entering a contract year (he’s also going to be 34 in August).
This draft will be critical for Schoen. There has been a lot of talk about how the Giants are likely to trade some of their 10 picks to move up the board or acquire veteran players. And that may well happen. But they would be wise to remember this remains a long-term rebuild project. Yes, they won a playoff game last year. But everything broke their way in 2022 and they have regression written all over themselves in 2023. This is not a Super Bowl contender. Drafting young players with an eye to the future should be the focus.
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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.