Scott Thompson, SNY.tv | Twitter |
With the NFL season officially over, all attention turns to the top-rated prospects coming out of college to pursue their professional dreams.
For the Giants, their No. 2 overall pick is their top priority at the moment as they figure out what to do with the selection. Other than that top pick, though, there seems to be a consensus on what position the Giants should be addressing in this year's draft: the offensive line.
It is self-explanatory why New York needs to address this problem that has plagued their offense for the past few years now. New GM Dave Gettleman understands that you can have all the weapons in the world like Odell Beckham Jr. and Evan Engram, but if a sturdy O-line isn't present, it turns into Eli Manning scrambling around and getting nervous as he has in the past.
The Giants already started the rebuilding process as Gettleman sent Bobby Hart home before the season ended, and Ereck Flowers was benched in the final game of the season as a forewarning. Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg are set to be free agents too, and there is not a shot the Giants re-sign them if their price is too steep. So, it is safe to say Gettleman and new HC Pat Shurmur will look to the draft to land their "hog mollies" that will hopefully rejuvenate the lethargic line.
Here are five prospects Big Blue should have their eyes on in April to bolster their line for the new season:
Quenton Nelson -- G, Notre Dame
If the Giants are deadset on taking a lineman in the first round, then Nelson is the one man they would go after. I can't see New York spending the second overall pick on him, though, which is why this pick would only come if they trade down with a team looking to add one of the top quarterback prospects.
Nelson is highly regarded as the best offensive lineman coming out of college this year, and his resume backs that claim. The 6-foot-5, 329 pound guard came out of high school as a second-team USA Today All-American, and though he redshirted as a freshman at Notre Dame, he immediately made an impact in 2015, starting 11 of 12 games on the left side. He eventually was named a captain of the Fighting Irish, and would work next to LT Mike McGlinchey as the most feared left side in college football.
The Holmdel, NJ native would stay at home if the Giants were to snag him in the first round, because that is the only round they will see him in. Nelson's power and explosiveness generates huge gaps for running backs to bolt through, and his in pass blocking, he didn't allow a single sack or quarterback hit in 744 snaps this season. This is why Nelson was named an Outland Trophy, which honors the best interior lineman in college football, finalist this season.
He has the size, the quickness, the mental awareness, and leadership skills that make experts view him as an All-Pro in the future.
Orlando Brown Jr.: OT, Oklahoma
Flowers just hasn't cut it as the Giants' left tackle, and Gettleman could look to replace him in the draft. Enter Orlando Brown Jr., who no doubt resembles his late father -- Orlando "Zeus" Brown.
At 6-foot-8, 360 pounds, Brown is scary to look at on the line let alone go against. He has been protecting Baker Mayfield's blind side since 2015, where he earned Freshman All-American honors. As he continued to improve his agility and quickness to go along with his natural brute, Brown became a first-team AP All-American, an All-Big 12 member, and an Outland Trophy finalist.
Brown's massive frame and rare arm length make him extremely intriguing to NFL scouts everywhere. However, his size can also be a detriment against fast edge rusher that can get skinny, and dip around him. So, he could be a risk at left tackle, which is why he may drop out of the first round.
If the Giants do see Brown make it to Day 2, expect them to take him as a steal with the second pick that day.
Kolton Miller: OT, UCLA
So, let's just say the Giants take UCLA QB Josh Rosen (like many experts predict) with their second overall pick in hopes he can succeed Manning, and become the next franchise quarterback. Why not snatch up his left tackle from UCLA too?
Miller is another massive specimen at 6-foot-8, 310 pounds that unfortunately faced some injury issues in the past. He played just five games at right tackle in 2016 after a foot injury ended his season. But that didn't stop the Bruins from believing in Miller, who they put on Rosen's blind side last season. He had some transition issues early on, but improved throughout the season.
A former four-star recurit out of high school, Miller may not have lived up to his expectations exactly at UCLA, but he has a lot to prove at the NFL level. Miller is projected in the second and third rounds of the draft this year, and the Giants could have him high on their O-line board if they miss out on Brown Jr.
If the Giant select Miller, expect him and Flowers to compete for the left tackle spot, granted they don't find someone in free agency (I'm looking at you Nate Solder).
Will Hernandez: G, UTEP
Coming out of the University of Texas at El-Paso, you wouldn't think Hernandez would be named a second-team AP All-American. Think again.
Hernandez has become a top guard prospect this year with some saying that he is right behind Nelson in the rankings. At 6-foot-3, 330 pounds, he may lack the height and length of other guards. But he certainly makes up for it with his strength (just watch the video at the end).
Projected to go between the second and third rounds, the Giants could certainly take a shot at Hernandez, who could fill in beautifully on the interior. He would be strong in the run game, and the pass game appears to be no issue for him as well. A hard worker, Hernandez will look to make a name for himself being a small-school lineman.
Isaiah Wynn: G/C/T, Georgia
If the Giants can't figure out if they want a guard or a tackle when one of their earlier round picks come up, look for the name Isaiah Wynn to surface.
Wynn is a do-it-all lineman that can virtually fit in any hole a team needs filling. At 6-foot-2, 203 pounds, he is much like Hernandez in that he doesn't have the best of size compared to other NFL lineman. Despite his physical stature, the Bulldogs put him at left tackle this season, and he was named a second-team All-American pick and first-team All-SEC in 2017. He worked his way up to that position, as he served as a left guard in his sophomore season.
Wynn will likely be drafted as a guard prospect, but his versatility to play anywhere on the line makes hm that much more useful for the team that calls his name. For the Giants, if they don't re-sign Richburg, that leaves undrafted rookie Brett Jones at center. Though Jones showed some promise with Richburg out due to concussion, they may want to challenge Jones.
In turn, the Giants could take Wynn in the second or third round and have him battle at the center position. And if that doesn't work out, he can always fit in one of the guard slots as well.