Keeping those two things in mind, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. released his third mock draft on Tuesday, the eve of the new league year, and projected the Giants to take Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson at No. 10.
“Even if Jason Pierre-Paul were to return, the Giants would be wise to add pass-rushing talent, and Lawson is a good fit here,” Kiper said with regard to Pierre-Paul about to become an unrestricted free agent. “Like JPP, he's also underrated as a complete defensive end in that he's good against the run.
>> MOCK DRAFT PROFILE: SHAQ LAWSON
Kiper’s projection was a change from his last mock draft, but all three of his possible Giants’ picks have been on the defensive side of the ball.
In his first mock draft, Kiper picked UCLA linebacker Myles Jack, while his second had Eastern Kentucky defensive end Noah Spence. On his post-combine big board, which ranks the prospects without looking at the draft order, Kiper has Lawson at No. 18, one spot behind TCU wide receiver Josh Doctson and one ahead of Alabama defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson.
“Lawson also tested well at the combine, backing up his productivity,” Kiper said. “This is a player who is physically ready to come in and hold up at the point of attack and win against both run and pass. He does not wow with quickness, but he gets himself free.”
Meanwhile, fellow ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay had Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott going to Big Blue in his latest mock draft.
“Defense -- specifically DE, LB and CB -- are all bigger needs, and Clemson DE Shaq Lawson could be a good fit if the Giants are unable to lure Jason Pierre-Paul back to New York,” McShay said. “However, after a good performance in Indianapolis, I think there's a strong chance Elliott goes in the top 10, whether it's to the Giants or via a team trading up. At 6-foot and 225 pounds, he has the frame and skill set to be an every-down back in the pros. And his 4.47 40-yard dash at the combine confirmed what we saw on tape: Elliott has breakaway speed once he gets a crease.”