Mel Kiper has new prediction for Giants' pick in latest mock draft

Posted Feb 21, 2018

ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. released his latest Mock Draft predictions: 

With the NFL Scouting Combine a week away, Mel Kiper Jr. has changed his pick – and position -- for the Giants at No. 2.

The ESPN draft guru has the Giants going away from quarterback and taking Penn State running back Saquon Barkley in his latest mock draft released Wednesday morning. In his first go-round, Kiper’s pick for Big Blue was UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, whom he now has pegged for the Dolphins at No. 11. Wyoming’s Josh Allen, another quarterback, has been the first overall pick by the Browns in both of Kiper’s mock drafts to date.

“Do the Giants take a quarterback or the best prospect available? They don't have quite as many needs as the Browns, and they won 11 games two seasons ago,” Kiper wrote. “New York has some talent. I went with Josh Rosen in Mock Draft 1.0, but Barkley is the top-ranked player on my Big Board. If the Giants can add Barkley to a group that includes Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, that would be rare skill-position talent. Barkley is more than a great runner -- he is a stellar receiver (he caught 54 passes in 2017) and pass-blocker. Eli Manning should be more efficient with these weapons around him, and the Giants can use another year of evaluation to figure out if 2017 third-round pick Davis Webb is the heir apparent.”

Kiper has said that his evaluations on this quarterback class are “really close” and that he has gone back and forth with Allen, Rosen and Sam Darnold of USC. But Allen is still his top guy.

“I'm sticking with Allen here. The only way I see the Browns not ending up with a quarterback at No. 1 is if they sign Kirk Cousins, which is going to cost them around $100 million in guarantees,” Kiper wrote. “Then they could trade down with a quarterback-needy team to pick up more talent -- and remember, they have the No. 4 pick, too. Allen had a strong week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, improving every day. The NFL statistical comp I make to Allen: Matthew Stafford, who completed 57.1 percent of his passes in 39 games at Georgia and still went No. 1 overall. And Stafford had better talent around him.”

Rounding out the rest of the top five were North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb to the Colts at No. 3, Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Browns at No. 4, and Darnold to the Broncos at No. 5.

Here are some other mocks and the predictions for the Giants that are floating around out there:

Albert Breer, Monday Morning Quarterback

Pick: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Analysis: “I’ve put Josh Rosen in this spot consistently. Why did I move him out? My feeling is, in the end, Allen will be a better personality fit with Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur.”

Todd McShay, ESPN

Pick: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Analysis: “New coach Pat Shurmur has publicly supported 37-year-old Eli Manning as New York's starting QB next season, so this pick remains the same as my last mock. The Giants could take Rosen as the heir apparent, but I wouldn't be surprised if a team traded with New York to get ahead of the Jets and Broncos in an effort to grab Rosen. Drafting Saquon Barkley to pair with Odell Beckham Jr. could be a possibility as well. The Giants have a lot of options.”

Charles Davis,

Pick: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Analysis: “The most talented runner in the draft since (fill in the blank). He's a true three-down player with a very special set of skills. If the Giants turn him down, it's for a QB.”

Daniel Jeremiah,

Pick: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Analysis: “I could easily see the Giants addressing the quarterback spot here, but instead they opt for the best player in the draft.”

Chad Reuter,

Pick: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Analysis: “Rosen's the best pure passer in the class.”

Bucky Brooks,

Pick: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Analysis: "The most dynamic running back in the draft would alleviate a lot of the pressure on Eli Manning to carry the squad."

Charley Casserly,

Pick: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Analysis: “The Giants land the most pro-ready QB in the draft.”

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports

Pick: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Analysis: “They have to get the next guy after Eli Manning and Rosen should be the pick. He is a strong-armed passer who can step in and learn for a year or two behind Manning.”

Will Brinson, CBS Sports

Pick: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Analysis: “The best possible landing spot for a quarterback who HAS to sit at least a year, thanks to the presence of Eli Manning. Certainly not ruling them out for going after a defensive player or an offensive standout here either.”

Matt Miller, Bleacher Report

Pick: QB Josh Rosen, UCLA
Analysis: “If you're Gettleman and the Giants, you have to plan to not be drafting this high again anytime soon. That means you get the quarterback.”

Nate Davis, USA TODAY Sports

Pick: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Analysis: “He'll need to clean up his footwork and decision-making, but he's arguably the top passing prospect in this year's crop — even if a relatively disappointing 2017 season has (at least temporarily) dampened talk of him being a slam dunk No. 1 overall pick. Still, Darnold seems to have all the mental and physical tools, including impressive mobility, to be an upper-tier starter.”

Chris Trapasso,

Pick: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Analysis: “When the dust settles on the 2018 iteration of "mass quarterback speculation" during the pre-draft process, Dave Gettleman settles on the most polished quarterback in this class.”

R.J. White,

Pick: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State 
Analysis: “It's certainly possible the Giants use this pick on a quarterback, but we're going to have to wait until the combine to see who emerges as a candidate for a top-two pick. The Cousins market could also play into who's available here. I expect to slot a QB in here eventually, but for now we'll stick with Barkley, possibly the best running back prospect to come along since Adrian Peterson. I'd also like to see the Giants consider trading down (perhaps with the Bills?) to pick up multiple assets to use to boost their offensive line.”

Lance Zierlein,

Pick: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA 
Analysis: "While there are better players on the board, the Giants might reach to fill a need."

Dane Brugler, The Sports Xchange

Pick: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA 
Analysis: “The Giants don’t expect to be drafting in the top three very often and with the future of Eli Manning very much up in the air, the Giants should target the quarterback of the future. Rosen is far from a clean prospect, but his natural passing skills and arm talent are starter quality.”

Rob Rang,

Pick: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Analysis: “An elite runner like Penn State’s Saquon Barkley could be exactly what Eli Manning (and Odell Beckham Jr.) need to get the Giants back on track immediately, but new general manager Dave Gettleman may find it hard to pass on a talent like Rosen — this year’s most gifted passer.”