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Fact or Fiction: Developing stars, early draft outlook


Left tackle Andrew Thomas has the highest career ceiling on the team

John Schmeelk: Fiction - This is very, very close with Dexter Lawrence but let's side with the defensive player on this one. Thomas has an extremely high ceiling but Lawrence has incredible physical traits. For him to be able to move the way he does at 340 pounds gives him near limitless potential, especially since Andre Patterson helped unlock his hand usage and length advantage against centers. Lawrence got better as the year went along and had an edge against nearly every center he lined up against. 

Lance Medow: Fact - It's never easy to quantify an offensive lineman because, unlike other positions, there's not as many attractive numbers, recognizable by the public at large, that tell the whole story. That's why it's important to see consistency from a player in the trenches and, most important, durability. Although Thomas dealt with some injuries early in his career, he's coming off a 2022 campaign in which he played in all meaningful 16 regular season games, continued to show progress from Year 2 to Year 3 and earned second-team All-Pro honors. Thomas is just 24 years old and still scratching the surface of his potential. All of these factors make him an extremely attractive commodity and potential anchor on the line for years to come.

Matt Citak: Fact - The Giants have several talented and promising young players on the roster, including guys such as Dexter Lawrence, Kayvon Thibodeaux and Xavier McKinney, just to name a few. But of all the young players currently on the team, Andrew Thomas has the highest career ceiling. The left tackle has shown steady improvement year to year, but the 24-year-old took a monumental step in his development in Year 3. According to PFF, Thomas allowed just three sacks on over 619 pass block snaps in 2022, which led to him being named second-team All-Pro. Thomas has all of the physical and mental tools to be a stalwart on the Giants' offensive line for years to come, and should only get better as he gets more NFL experience under his belt.

Outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux will lead the Giants in sacks for the foreseeable future

John Schmeelk: Fiction - Wink Martindale's system makes this complicated. His high blitz rate tends to spread around the sacks and there usually isn't one alpha eating all of that production. One year it might be Thibodeaux, and the next it could be Dexter Lawrence or Azeez Ojulari. Right now, Ojulari is probably a more consistent pass rusher than Thibodeaux, though Ojulari battled through numerous leg injuries in his second season. Thibodeaux does, undoubtedly, have more pass rush potential than any player on the team.

Lance Medow: Fact - Kayvon Thibodeaux recorded four sacks in 14 games as a rookie in 2022 and finished third on the team behind Dexter Lawrence and Azeez Ojulari, who are also two strong candidates to lead the way moving forward. Lawrence had a career year and nearly surpassed his sack total from his first three years in the league and Ojulari collected 5.5 sacks despite appearing in only seven games due to injuries. Let's give Thibodeaux the edge because we've only seen one standout season from Lawrence and while Ojulari still has a lot of upside, until he stays on the field consistently, it's hard to bet on him setting the tone in sacks. The other factor to keep in mind is no player has recorded double-digit sacks in Wink Martindale's five seasons as a defensive coordinator - this bodes well for Thibodeaux because 7-9 sacks a year could very well do the trick.

Matt Citak: Fact - Thibodeaux has some stiff competition here as Azeez Ojulari, when on the field, has shown a tremendous ability to get to the quarterback. Additionally, Dexter Lawrence showed he can be a real threat in the pass rush with his team-leading 7.5 sacks this season. However, Thibodeaux should lead the Giants in sacks for the foreseeable future. His 17.9 percent pass rush win rate led all rookies as he racked up 40 total pressures in 14 games. This came after the start of his season was derailed due to a knee injury suffered in the preseason. As we saw in the second game against the Commanders, the outside linebacker has the ability to truly take over a game and wreak havoc on opposing offenses.

View photos of every move made by the Giants during the 2023 cycle.

Right now, wide receiver is your best guess for which position the Giants will go with in the first round

John Schmeelk: Fiction - It's hard to love the first-round wide receiver class to begin with (the top receiver this season might have been the fifth or sixth receiver taken in last year's class), and we also don't know how many receivers will be off the board before the Giants make their selection at No. 25. There's a chance a player worth that pick will be on the board, but there's no guarantee of that given the value NFL teams place on having weapons outside. The depth of the cornerback class is much better so you could be leaning in that direction.

Lance Medow: Fact - You can easily make a strong case for wide receiver given the current needs of the team and the Giants selecting 25th overall. But just because they may need a wideout, doesn't mean value late in the first round matches up. With that being said, it still seems the most logical move based on the impact rookie wide receivers have had on their respective teams in recent history. Receivers make the smoothest transition from college to the pros because it's not as overwhelming of a jump or rude awakening compared to other positions.  

Matt Citak: Fact - How the team addresses some of its roster holes during free agency will likely provide a lot more insight into how the Giants might use their first-round pick. But as the roster currently stands, along with how the draft class is shaping up, wide receiver seems to be the most logical guess for which position the Giants go after with their first pick. Current projections don't have the first wide receiver being selected until the middle of the first round, with many mock drafts projecting several receivers to go somewhere in the 20s (the Giants pick 25th). This could lead to the team's draft needs lining up perfectly with the best player available. Linebacker and cornerback are other possibilities in the first round, but considering the depth of those positions in this year's free agent class, the Giants could choose to address those positions with veterans and later-round picks instead.

The 2023 NFL Draft class is shaping up to be more loaded on offense

John Schmeelk: Fiction - Just call me Mr. Contrarian this week. Despite the strength and depth at the tight end and running back positions on offense, this is more of a defensive draft class. At least the top three non-quarterbacks in the class could be defensive players, if not more. More than a third, and maybe even close to half of the picks in the first round could be defensive linemen and defensive backs. The back-end of the first round and Day 2 will be more dominated by skill position players on offense, but there are fewer elite players at those positions than in most draft classes.

Lance Medow: Fiction - At this point, you could lean more toward the defense than offense. Three positions that seem to showcase plenty of depth and firepower are edge rusher, defensive line and corner and it's not a stretch to think Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter and Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. will ignite a run on two of those positions high in the first round. There's always going to be a focus on the quarterbacks, but don't let that overshadow what could prove to be a substantive group of defensive playmakers.

Matt Citak: Fact - It's a fact sweep. Although the two players widely considered to be the most talented players in the draft class are on defense - Jalen Carter and Will Anderson Jr. - the class is leaning toward being more loaded on offense. Several positions are considered to be quite deep this year, including tight end, the offensive line (both tackles and interior O-linemen), and even quarterback. Now a lot can change following the performances at next week's NFL Combine in Indianapolis and upcoming pro days. But as of now, this appears to be a solid draft if you're looking to add talent on offense.

NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah updated his ranking of the top 50 prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft.


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