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Daniel Jeremiah Mock Draft 2.0: Giants bolster defense, not offense, in 2021 NFL Draft


Gregory Rousseau opted out of the 2020 college season due to the pandemic, but NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah thinks the Giants could opt in for the edge rusher out of the University of Miami.

In his second mock draft, Jeremiah projected the 6-foot-7, 265-pounder to the Giants at No. 11 in the 2021 NFL Draft, which begins the night of April 29 in Cleveland. As a redshirt freshman in 2019, Rousseau was named ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year, becoming only the second Hurricane to earn the honor and first since 2008.

"I know GM Dave Gettleman has let it be known that he wants to add playmakers on offense," Jeremiah wrote. "At the end of the day, though, he's not able to pass up the big, athletic edge rusher."

In his season-ending press conference, Gettleman said the Giants need to find the right guys to help Daniel Jones "get us over that hump" as the quarterback enters his third NFL season. He also explained that roster-building begins with the quarterback and the big men up front. Offensive playmakers could be next on the list, especially when teams last year combined to score 12,692 points and 1,473 total touchdowns, both the most in a single season in NFL history. The Giants, meanwhile, finished 31st in the league in scoring.

In the same breath, however, Gettleman said you can never have too many good players at one position. His track record backs up that philosophy, which could open the door for a defensive playmaker after the unit made major strides in 2020.

Could Rousseau fit the bill for Big Blue?

"Rousseau is a tall, long and rangy defender," Jeremiah wrote in his top 50 rankings, where he listed Rousseau at No. 13 overall. "He aligned all over the front in Miami's scheme and was extremely productive in 2019 despite having limited experience on the defensive line (he played safety and wide receiver in high school). He lacks an elite get-off as a pass rusher, but his combination of quick hands, length and instincts leads to sacks and pressures in bunches. He has an effective swipe/rip move and he can close/finish.

"He didn't show much power early in the '19 season, but he got better every week. By the end of the season, he flashed the ability to convert speed to power (see: Duke game). He is very comfortable and effective rushing inside. In the run game, he uses his length to set the edge, but he does get too high at times. His effort is excellent. Overall, Rousseau is still developing, but he has found a way to post elite production while learning on the job. His best football is ahead of him."

Rousseau led the ACC in sacks (15.5) and tackles for loss (19.5) in his breakout 2019 campaign, which ranked second and ninth nationally in the FBS, respectively. That year, he finished second in sacks to Ohio State's Chase Young, who was selected second overall by the Washington Football Team.

A native of Coconut Creek, Fla., Rousseau was rated as the 15th-best athlete in the country by He played both sides of the ball at Champagnat Catholic School, which he helped guide to its second Class 2A state title in school history. As a senior, he tallied 80 tackles and 10 sacks – including nine tackles and three sacks in the state championship game. He was named to the 2016 Miami Herald First Team All-Dade Football Team as an athlete and earned Second Team All-State honors as a wide receiver in 2016.

NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah updated his ranking of the top 50 prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft for the final time before the start of the draft.

Here is a look at more projections from draft experts:

Pick: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Analysis: "At 6-foot-6, Pitts has the size/speed traits to line up out wide, in the slot or next to an offensive tackle. And he showed off his ability after the catch by averaging 17.9 yards per reception with 12 touchdowns. Pitts is not a traditional tight end, but he's a skilled offensive threat. And with Evan Engram on the roster, too, the Giants would have two of the most athletic -- and versatile -- tight ends in football."

Pick: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Analysis: "The Giants could enjoy a fantastic duo at tight end -- Pitts is versatile enough to play with [Evan] Engram and be moved around the formation -- and provide quarterback Daniel Jones with a playmaker."

Pick: Gregory Rousseau , EDGE, Miami

Analysis: "Rousseau is an intriguing option for the Giants given his athleticism, length and sack production."

Pick: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

Analysis: "With the Giants committed to Daniel Jones, the organization needs to continue and surround him with weapons. With his natural speed and burst, Waddle is dangerous before and after the catch, showing the separation skills to stress the defense in different ways (four receptions of 75-plus yards in his career)."

Pick: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

Analysis: "Finding another weapon for Daniel Jones is essential, and Waddle has game-breaking explosiveness on all three levels of the field with an ability to back safeties off the line of scrimmage for Saquon Barkley."

Pick: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Analysis: "Typically, GM Dave Gettleman would look to improve the front seven with this pick. But Smith's value is too high to ignore, despite his lean frame. Gettleman's first-round pick from two years ago, quarterback Daniel Jones, will appreciate the explosive, tough and reliable Smith."

The Giants hold the 11th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. View photos of notable players selected in that spot.

Pick: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

Analysis: "Waddle is the first Alabama wide receiver off the board in part due to the deep speed that showed up in his averaging 18.9 yards per reception over his three-year career. Waddle was actually the highest-graded Alabama receiver on their loaded 2018 team. He adds a vertical weapon for QB Daniel Jones, who was quietly one of the best downfield passers in the league a year ago."

Pick: Pick: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Analysis: "A difference maker at wide receiver falls into the lap of New York at No. 11 overall."

Pick: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Analysis: "Smith may not be the biggest receiver, weighing in around 170 pounds, but he has very good speed, is an extremely nuanced route-runner who creates easy separation, and is a nightmare with the ball in his hands after the catch."

Pick: Pick: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC

Analysis: "The Giants need pass rush help but bolstering the offensive line may take priority. Andrew Thomas got better as the year progressed, but Vera-Tucker proved in 2020 that he can play either guard or tackle and excelled while doing it."

Pick: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

Analysis: "Stylistically, Waddle is my favorite receiver in the draft — the speed is shocking. It shouldn't be legal to average 11.2 yards after the catch per reception, as Waddle did over the past two years at Alabama."

Pick: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

Analysis: "Slater was a guard in high school but played both tackle spots for the Wildcats and could settle in opposite 2020 first-rounder Andrew Thomas."

Pick: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Analysis: "Kyle Pitts could be an intriguing option for New York if he is on the board but Dallas made their decision easier."

Pick: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

Analysis: "Surtain is about as NFL-ready as it gets at the position, and his 88.6 coverage grade in 2019 was the second-highest in the country. While there are numerous other needs on the roster, a corner across from James Bradberry is a big one, as well."

Pick: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami

Analysis: "The Giants are strong up the middle defensively and look much better at cornerback, but they are in desperate need of punching their old calling card on the edge under Dave Gettleman. Rousseau, who opted out of the Hurricanes season, didn't really need to play to boost his stock after posting 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss in his lone significant and final season under defensive-minded head coach Manny Diaz."

Pick: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Analysis: "He's a versatile tight end that can play all over the formation and provide a mismatch for the offense with his size, length, and ball skills."

Pick: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Analysis: "The versatile tight end played just shy of 64% of his offensive snaps inline, but he dominated unlike any other tight end we had ever seen when he lined up out wide in single coverage. Pitts went toe-to-toe with press coverage when lined up out wide for 40 receiving snaps this season and came away with seven explosive receptions of 15-plus yards on those opportunities. We have never seen a tight end record more than two of those in a single year before Pitts this season."

Pick: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

Analysis: "With the additions of Jabrill Peppers, Logan Ryan, and Julian Love, the Giants have a strong secondary group. It's just another outside CB away from being elite."

Pick: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Analysis: "Smith adds to an already talented trio of wide receivers in Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, and Golden Tate."

Pick: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Analysis: "Smith's production has been off the charts over the last two years. He led all Alabama wide receivers — a group that included three other first-round talents — in receiving yardage in 2019 and is coming off an even better, Heisman-winning campaign this past season."

Pick: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

Analysis: "The Giants take advantage of the opportunity to secure an explosive threat in the passing game."

Pick: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Analysis: "As Daniel Jones enters Year 3, the Giants have to find him a go-to weapon. Pitts is much more than a tight end. He's a versatile offensive weapon who can play outside, in the slot or in-line and is a matchup nightmare."

Pick: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

Analysis: "Waddle is arguably a better receiver prospect than Henry Ruggs III was coming out of Alabama in 2020. An explosive, dynamic athlete, Waddle ranks inside the top five in yards per route run (3.64) and yards after the catch per reception (11.5) over the past two seasons."


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