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Giants Now: Gil Brandt's top 2021 draft prospects

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Gil Brandt's top draft prospects

The 2021 NFL Draft officially kicks off one month from today in Cleveland, Ohio.

A lot can happen between now and April 29, as we saw on Friday when three picks within the top 12 exchanged hands in a manner of minutes.

NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt released his top 100 prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft recently, which featured some interesting names towards the top of the list.

Here are the top 15 players in Brandt's rankings, along with commentary provided by the NFL.com senior analyst:

1. QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

"Lawrence was a winner in high school, capturing two state championships in Georgia. He was a winner in college, securing a title in his freshman season at Clemson. And I think he'll be a good NFL quarterback."

2. OT Penei Sewell, Oregon

"Sewell is the closest thing to Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden I've seen in some time. More so than anything, he can play left tackle, and that means so much in today's NFL."

3. TE Kyle Pitts, Florida

"Pitts will be a mismatch problem for anybody who plays against him. He's got great speed, and he can play inside or outside. Don't just think of him as a tight end -- he can also effectively function as a wide receiver."

4. WR Ja'Marr Chase, LSU

"Chase is a better prospect than his former LSU teammate Justin Jefferson was heading into the 2020 NFL Draft -- and Jefferson made a run at Offensive Rookie of the Year, with 88 catches for 1,400 yards and seven TDs, after being picked 22nd overall by the Vikings."

5. QB Zach Wilson, BYU

"Wilson had a great year. He's very athletic, he's an excellent long-ball thrower and he's smart. I think he'll be the kind of quarterback who can take you to the playoffs."

6. G Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC

"Vera-Tucker can start at guard or left tackle and has lots of upside for the future."

7. QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

"Fields, who transferred from Georgia and played two years at Ohio State, can move up on this list if he has a great workout at Ohio State's pro day on March 30."

8. OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern

"Slater had a great workout at Northwestern's pro day, recording a 33-inch vertical and throwing the bar up 33 times. His arms, which people were worried about the length of, measured 33 inches. Ultimately, I think he's more of a guard than a tackle."

9. WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama

"The Heisman Trophy-winning Smith has excellent hands and is very quick. He reminds you a lot of Hall of Famer Lance Alworth."

10. WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama

"Waddle had a midseason injury (broken ankle) that forced him to miss six games. That said, he has speed and quickness and is a very good return specialist."

11. EDGE Jaelan Phillips, Miami

"The UCLA transfer boasts good pass-rush ability. He just needs to stay healthy."

12. LB Micah Parsons, Penn State

"Currently in line to be the first linebacker drafted, Parsons should play many years at a high level."

13. QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State

"Lance is a strong thrower but not a particularly good scrambler, given his average speed. That said, he's been very successful -- he just has 'it.' He's something special."

14. CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama

"Surtain, whose father, Patrick, enjoyed a long NFL career, has very good coverage skills and is a smart player."

15. CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech

"Farley overcame early injuries in his career to become a top cornerback, recording six picks and 19 passes defensed in 2018-19."

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.

Logan Ryan helped Giants recruit Adoree' Jackson to promising secondary

Logan Ryan believes Adoree’ Jackson is the final piece to what could be a super secondary for the Giants.

"You need to be an alpha in your self-belief and we're going to put out a talented secondary," Ryan said. "We have a lot of confidence in our secondary. But we all have to play together, we all have to use our skillsets together and sacrifice for one another. It's going to take practice and it's going to take preparation to see how it all works together."

But with the addition this week of Jackson – the 18th overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft – the Giants seem to have the pieces to field a defensive backfield that can compare favorably with any in the NFL. Jackson will team with Pro Bowler James Bradberry to give the Giants a pair of cornerbacks that will leave opposing wide receivers confused as to which side they would prefer to line up. Ryan and Jabrill Peppers give the Giants a strong safety tandem. Second-year pros Xavier McKinney and Darnay Holmes are versatile players who can play in the slot. Julian Love and Isaac Yiadom are among the reserves who will compete for playing time. And the Giants still have opportunities, including the draft, to add more skilled defensive backs.

Ryan's belief that Jackson's presence will elevate the status of the secondary is rooted not only in the newcomer's talent, but in familiarity. The two defensive backs were Tennessee Titans teammates for three seasons, when Ryan was an eyewitness to what makes the 25-year-old Jackson special.

"He has elite speed," Ryan said. "There are a lot of guys that run fast 40s, but he knows how to play with it as well. He gives you the ability to match up with the faster receivers in the league. That allows your defense to do a lot of things. You don't worry about him getting beat deep too often. He can hold his own with the true speedsters in this league.

"We went through a playoff run in Tennessee and he was matching up with Tyreek Hill a good bit, he matched up against Hollywood (Marquise) Brown in Baltimore, and when we played the Patriots he was matched up against Phillip Dorsett. Those are all legit 4.2 guys and Adoree' takes those matchups on and he handles them. That allows your defense to not worry about that speed as much. Very few corners on the planet have that skillset. He's a young football player and he's a proven football player as well, because he doesn't just run fast. He's an elite corner, because he has some things that a lot of corners don't have – that elite track speed."

The Giants have signed free agent cornerback Adoree' Jackson.

Inside the Film Room: Adoree' Jackson shows physicality, high football IQ

Check out the video below to watch Bob Papa and Super Bowl Champion Shaun O'Hara break down the film of new Giants cornerback Adoree' Jackson.

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