Mel Kiper two-round mock draft: Ickey Ekwonu at No. 5 for the New York Giants

Mel Kiper of ESPN came out Wednesday with a two-round mock draft. With only 15 days left to the draft, it matters to this one because Kiper admitted it was influenced by what he hears from sources in the league. Let’s see what Kiper did with his three choices for the New York Giants.

Round 1 (No. 5) – Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State

Goalkeeper says:

If the board shakes out this way, the Giants would be thrilled to get their pick of the two best offensive tackles. I have Ekwonu a little over Evan Neal, but it’s hard to go wrong with either – they are my No. 2 and 3 prospects in this class. Ekwonu answered all questions about his ability to protect his passes last season. If left tackle Andrew Thomas keeps improving, these two could form one of the NFL’s best book support pairs.

Valentine’s View: At this point, it should come as no surprise how I feel about this choice. This is a home run for the Giants. Interestingly, Kiper Ekwonu chose Evan Neal from Alabama. I’m fine in both cases, but I suppose Ekwonu over Neal may be the preferred order in NFL circles based on Ekwon’s physical characteristics and upwards.

Kipers top four choices:

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan

  2. Detroit Lions – Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati (I’m really surprised by this one)

  3. Houston Texans – Travon Walker, Edge, Georgia

  4. Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon (Kiper says he does not buy a Thibodeaux roller coaster)

Round 1 (No. 7) – Jermaine Johnson, Edge, Florida State

Goalkeeper says:

The Giants can get their tackle on No. 5 and then focus on their defense, which allowed 4.7 yards per. games last season (31st in the NFL). Johnson had 12 sacks last season and was one of the most impressive prospects at the Senior Bowl in January. He already has a few veteran pass rush traits and could be an instant starter. He also played very outside linebacker for the Seminoles, so he has some versatility in Wink Martindale’s defense. And if you keep track, this makes four edge-rushers in the top seven choices.

Valentine’s View: Kiper gave the Giants their tackle at No. 5. With Gardner, Thibodeaux and Walker off the board at No. 7, this would be an excellent replacement for Giants GM Joe Schoen. Kiper, however, played it straight and chose.

I would be very tempted to take Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton here. I do not care about Hamilton’s 40 time – this is a guy with instincts and reactions to play faster than he times. He would be an excellent addition to the Giants’ defense.

That said, I very much prefer the choice of Johnson over the idea of ​​choosing LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. here. I see Stingley’s talent that’s just too much of a risk for me as he’s coming off a Lisfranc injury and his best band is from 2019. I’m not sure how good a pass-rusher Johnson will be, but he should be a really good player in the NFL for a long time. He would be a great addition to Leonard Williams.

Round 2 (No. 36) – Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor

Goalkeeper says:

This provides five collateral from the board in the 36 best picks. Pitre was fantastic against the race last season; he had 20 running stops, according to ESPN Stats & Info, which was the most of any FBS defensive back. He impressed teams at the Senior Bowl. The Giants could target a wide receiver here, depending on how the board falls. The 6-foot-3 George Pickens (Georgia) could make sense.

Valentine’s View: I understand the selection of Pitre here, but if it’s one that the giants do, they need to have a certain role in mind. Pitre is listed as a security guard, but that’s not really what he is – or at least it was in Baylor. He was a slot cornerback. Chris posted this warning about Pitre in his prospect profile, and it makes me a little hesitant to choose Pitre:

“… despite all his versatility, he probably should not be used as a midfielder or asked to play in too much man coverage against athletic reception options.”

That kind of makes me think that Pitre is Jabrill Peppers. Even with Xavier McKinney on the list, it seems like two roles that Wink Martindale would at least occasionally need Pitre to play.

Kiper mentions Georgia wide receiver George Pickens as an option here. It may be a little early for the Giants to go for the wide receiver, but the wide receiver is a long-term need for the Giants, and I’m high on the Pickens.

Kiper leaves cornerbacks Kyler Gordon of Washington and Roger McCreary of Auburn on the board here. After missing Gardner in round 1, I should be thinking about them here.

A few other highlights

Here are some other things to note from Kiper’s scorn:

  • Only two quarterbacks (Malik Willis from Liberty at No. 6 to the Carolina Panthers, Kenny Pickett from Pitt No. 20 to the Pittsburgh Steelers) went to Round 1.
  • Michigan winger David Ojabo finished 34th for the Detroit Lions.
  • Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean (No. 18, Philadelphia Eagles) was selected before Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd (No. 21, New England Patriots).
  • Montana State linebacker Troy Anderson went No. 58 to the Atlanta Falcons. None of the other two inside linebacker crushes at BBV (Leo Chenal from Wisconsin, Chad Muma from Wyoming) were selected in Round 2.

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