Giants Mock Draft 2.0: Sauce Gardner, offensive linemen

In our latest seven-round Giants Mock Draft, there is almost something for everyone, and especially a lot for those who are desperate to see this team import talent to rebuild the offensive line.

For this experiment, we used the Pro Football Focus simulator, which uses its own grading system to evaluate draft prospects, often leading to interesting and surprising results in terms of which players are on and off the board. Here is the Giants Mock Draft 2.0:

Round 1, No. 5 overall: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

Previous selection: OL Ickey Ekwon

In this simulation, Aidan Hutchinson, Derek Stingley Jr., Kyle Hamilton and Kayvon Thibodeaux were off the board, giving the Giants at No. 5 their choice of any of the offensive tackles, as well as defensive end Travon Walker. They want and need a real tackle and love Ickey Ekwonu, but go with Neal, who is almost 6-foot-8 and carries his 337 pounds remarkably well. He has the size, strength, and technique to play left or right tackle, and the pairing of him with Andrew Thomas (first-round pick in 2020) gives the Giants young bookstore tackles for what they hope will be a decade.

Evan Neal goes to the Giants at No. 5 here
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Round 1, No. 7 overall: Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

Previous selection: DE Travon Walker

Ekwonu and Charles Cross are available, but the Giants, though tempted, have no plans to double-down with another offensive lineman. Walker was taken by the Panthers at No. 6, and that means there are no edge rusher / defensive line prospects that the Giants like as much. Gardner is a needs-value committee. He did not allow a touchdown in college, has great length and ball skills and possesses just the right amount of confidence / pickiness for the position. Since James Bradberry is expected to be a salary cap, Gardner will have to step in right away.

Sauce Gardner goes to the Giants at No. 7 here
Sauce Gardner goes to the Giants at No. 7 here

Round 2, No. 36 overall: Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M

Previous selection: C Tyler Linderbaum

Take a look at how Green at 323 pounds levels defenders like a running block and you will get impressed from there. He took some snaps outside by tackling last season, but he’s best suited to guard in the NFL and has the body and temperament to be really good. Passport protection technique requires work, but he should challenge for a starting job right away, as there is a guard post open on what will be an almost completely renewed line.

Round 3, No. 67 overall: Josh Paschal, Edge, Kentucky

Previous selection: S Jalen Pitre

Paschal arrives as already NFL size (6-3, 268) and rising – his 15.5 tackles for loss led the Wildcats this past season. He is the only triple team captain in the school’s history and should be a positive force in the locker room from day 1. The Giants need plenty of help on the edge and hope Paschal can team up with Azeez Ojulari (second round, 2021) to form a youthful pass rush duo with some punch.

Round 3, No. 81 overall: Khalil Shakir, WR, Boise State

Previous selection: LB Leo Chenal

Is there anything wrong with a team that could not find the goal zone in 2021 adding a player who consistently finds his way over the goal line? Shakir scored a touchdown every seventh touch last season. He caught 77 passes on 1,117 yards and should be able to be used in many different ways in Brian Daboll’s attack. He also has value as a kickoff and punt returner. The Giants have Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney, but neither of them scored a single touchdown in 2021. In addition, Sterling Shepard comes from a torn Achilles.

Round 4, No. 112 overall: Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State

Previous selection: TE Cade Otton

As a big recruit from Long Island (Lindenhurst), Ruckert grew up as a Jets fan, but he will look fine in blue as a 250-pound in-line blocker. In his college career, Ruckert caught 54 passes and had 12 touchdowns for the Buckeyes and was able to make some highlight-worthy tackles in big games. It’s not easy to put up big numbers with all the weapons gathered in Columbus. Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph are gone, and Ricky Seals-Jones’ signing up for free agency does not preclude adding anyone to this position in the middle of this draft.

Jeremy Ruckert goes to the Giants in the fifth round here
Jeremy Ruckert goes to the Giants in the fifth round here
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Round 5, No. 147 overall: Zach Tom, Olympics, Wake Forest

Previous selection: RB James Cook

Three offensive linemen in the first seven picks? You bet. You can never have too many, and the Lord knows that the giants never have enough. Tom started the last two seasons with left tackle, but projects more as an inside player, most likely in the middle, based on his wisdom and strong passing protection abilities. The Giants signed veteran Jon Feliciano to start at the center, but gave him a one-year contract. Tom has a versatile position, a big plus.

Round 5, No. 173 overall: Cordale Flott, CB, LSU

Previous selection: G Jamaree Salyer

Flott played in 29 games in three seasons at the highest level of college competition. He’s a good size and is perhaps best suited for a role as a nickel back in the slot when he gets used to the NFL. The Giants had him for one of their top-30 visits to become familiar with him as a person.

Round 6, No. 182 overall: Noah Elliss, DT, Idaho

Previous selection: CB Vincent Gray

At 346 pounds, Elliss is a load in the middle of the defensive line. He was trained in college by his adopted father, Luther Elliss, a longtime NFL player. The Giants added Justin Ellis of the Ravens in free play, but can use another big body for defense.

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