Cover 3: Final thoughts before draft begins

In this edition of “Cover 3” on Giants.com, the crew gives their final thoughts before the draft begins tonight at 8 p.m. ET.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Draft Day is finally here, and I have no idea what the Giants are going to do. I don’t think anyone around the league does, either. There are rumors, but I think those come from people who are simply guessing based on Dave Gettleman’s draft history, or connecting the dots on certain players. Whom the Giants pick at No. 17 will be the product of who is left on the board, so having some uncertainty about whom they might pick there is natural. But with the sixth pick, it shouldn’t be too complicated to narrow it down to a couple of possible players. If the top tier of defensive players (Nick Bosa, Quinen Williams, Josh Allen) are off the board, I could realistically see the Giants taking as many as a half-dozen other players.

Teams draft players, not positions, and Gettleman has been clear he wants to take the best player regardless of positional need. With that said, the Giants’ biggest need in this draft, at least in my opinion, is someone who can consistently affect the passer. If the Giants do not select that player at No. 6, it is possible the entire top two tiers of this year’s crop could be gone by the time pick No. 17 comes along.

Ed Oliver (who might be in the first group), Brian Burns, Montez Sweat, Clelin Ferrell and Rashan Gary are the players in that second tier of pass rushers to keep an eye on. So I fully expect value to meet need on Day 1. Obviously, the Giants could select a pass rusher on Day 2, but those players often lack the higher ceiling of top 10 selections. Would that price be worth it to secure the quarterback of the future? Yes. Would it be worth it to draft any other position at No. 6 given the talent across the rest of the draft? It’s a much tougher question.

DAN SALOMONE: When the first couple rounds of mock drafts came out over the winter, it was hard to find one without the Giants taking Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins at No. 6. Now on Draft Day, there is no consensus. And that makes general manager Dave Gettleman smile. No one outside of the draft room knows what the people inside it are thinking, and the Giants want it that way.

However, as Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur navigated the roster-building season, two common themes emerged when they spoke: they want defensive playmakers, and they like the Kansas City quarterback model of having Patrick Mahomes sit a year behind veteran Alex Smith before blossoming as a sophomore. Gettleman feels a personal responsibility to “gift” the next franchise quarterback to the Giants, like his mentor Ernie Accorsi did in 2004 with Eli Manning. Will it happen this year? We will find out in hours.

People could chalk up these assertions as smokescreens, but look back to last year. Amid all the coyness, Gettleman was very open about his admiration for Saquon Barkley and the Giants’ need to fix the offensive line. What did he do with the first two picks? He drafted the running back and then took guard Will Hernandez in the second round. So maybe when tonight’s festivities are done – the Giants are in line to select two players in the first round for the first time since 1984 -- we will see if the answers were in front of us all along.

LANCE MEDOW: I always look forward to the day of the draft each year but it’s not why you think. It’s not related to excitement but instead relief that the months of speculation and guessing games will finally end. Unlike the NBA, which holds its draft less than a month after the Finals, in the NFL, the draft is nearly three months following the Super Bowl, allowing way too much time for rumors to overshadow reality, and this year that’s doubled for the Giants because for the first time since 1984 they have a pair of first round picks. That coincidentally was also the last time the team took a linebacker (Carl Banks) in the first round. I had to squeeze that fact in given I love bringing that up when fans and pundits, speaking of speculation, constantly predict the team will take a linebacker.

With two picks in the top 17 of this year’s draft, the Giants have a great opportunity to add two impactful players to the roster. No surprise, for the second straight year, there’s a strong push that one of those two players should be a quarterback. While that’s a fair point, I’ll emphasize once again what I said last year. You shouldn’t take a quarterback for the sake of taking a quarterback. There needs to be conviction in the room, meaning the majority of the organization should believe strongly in the player. If opinions vary across the board, then it’s likely not a good idea to settle for a signal caller. When Dave Gettleman was asked, during his pre-draft press conference whether taking a quarterback is a priority, his response: “The priority is to select the best players. Last year, we could not pass up on Saquon. He was the best player in the draft. You can’t do that.” Is that position extremely important? It goes without saying, but that doesn’t mean you pass up on better value for that position or to simply appease to the court of public opinion.

One of my biggest takeaways from Getttleman’s press conference was his response to a question regarding where he thinks the most depth in the draft lies. He used the term “thick” when describing wide receivers, offensive tackles and secondary (both corners and safeties) players. Notice, he didn’t include defensive linemen or pass rushers, which is one of the team’s biggest needs. As Gettleman emphasized, you can’t draft for just need because that’s when you get in trouble, but when the Giants are ready to make the sixth overall pick, I think need and value will match up nicely with a defensive lineman/pass rusher. I also don’t think it’s a stretch for them to focus once again on defense with the 17th pick.

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