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RealGM's Jeff Risdon says the Giants' arrow is 'pointing up'


The NFL Draft is one of the most annually anticipated offseason events. With the NFL Combine less than two weeks away, numerous experts have weighed in with their evaluations thus far.

RealGM's Jeff Risdon, who covers the Detroit Lions, is the latest to do so. He recently joined John Schmeelk on the Giants Huddle podcast to offer a top-to-bottom analysis of different position groups. Risdon also touched on notable players of interest to Giants fans and spoke about the importance of a schematic fit.

Risdon said the overall 2023 draft class is "not as top heavy as some of the (previous) classes." Still, players in the "middle corps, specifically at some positions like tight end and running back, stick out."

The Giants will have the 25th selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, and Risdon believes cornerback will be of greatest value in the given range. He specifically named Oregon's Christian Gonzalez as a player whose skillset fits defensive coordinator Wink Martindale's tendencies.

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Risdon also looked at the interior offensive as one place the Giants may look to add. "You don't need a premium pick for a guard, especially when your tackles are set and you don't need to worry about their outside shoulders so much," he said.

"That's a nice luxury," he continued, offering names like Ohio State's Luke Wypler and Michigan's Olu Oluwatimi as potential fits.

Risdon believes the inside linebacker group is a "smaller class," but he does not dismiss the "day two, day three hybrid guys." He named players like Arkansas' Drew Sanders, Iowa's Jack Campbell and Washington State's Daiyan Henley as prospects to watch.

As for his overall top choice, Risdon spoke highly of Georgia's standout defensive lineman, Jalen Carter.

"Jalen Carter is number one for me – number one overall for me….He's as close to Ndamukong Suh as I've seen in a prospect…Pretty much a complete package. You're going to be nitpicking if you're looking for flaws."

Overall talent is not always the most important factor, however. Organizations are constantly asking 'Can he fit into (our) scheme?' The question is especially prominent at safety, where the 2023 draft class lacks depth in the box, according to Risdon.

Even with uncertainty surrounding the draft, Risdon shared his optimism for the Giants organization overall: "The arrow is pointing up."

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

One of the most anticipated positions is on the offensive side of the ball.

"Wide receiver is the wild card position for me because I don't know who the number one wide receiver is. I don't know when that that person is going to be coming off the board either," Risdon admitted.

He elaborated on five of those names in conversation:

On Boston College's Zay Flowers:

"I really like Zay Flowers' tape. I wish he was a little bit bigger, and I wish he was a smidge faster, but he's a guy that I think can start in the slot right away at the NFL level."

On Ohio State's Jaxon Smith-Njigba:

"Ohio State, one of the things they do really well at that program is they churn out guys that are ready to run route in the NFL. Not every program does that…He's going to be ready…That's a big asset for a team like the Giants that's ready to win now and needs somebody that's ready to contribute right away."

On USC's Jordan Addison:

"When we meet in Indy in a few weeks, it's going to be very telling for him. How speedy is his speed? It looks fantastic on tape. His ability to change speeds while he's in a route to create a little bit of separation and his ability to play the ball in the air, I think, is underappreciated for a guy who has his level of production. He did it at two different schools across different quarterbacks, across different offensive schemes. That's impressive to me. He's got a lot to like. There are times when you wonder when he's not the designated number one receiver on a route, is he actually running it all that hard? And that's concerning. That's something he's going to have to answer for, but he's a very talented guy…Right now, he is the odds-on number one wide receiver to be taken. But we've got two-and-a-half months before the draft yet. Those things change, but I expect him to be gone before the Giants' pick."

On Tennessee's Jalin Hyatt:

"He's very good working down the field. Like you said, you can line him up right now on the outside with a slot inside of him or with a flexed out tight end and make it work. And he's going to be able to create space. He's going to hold those safeties. He's going to draw that zone deeper and wider, which means if you've got a running back that can catch the ball out of the backfield, there's going to be a lot of room for him….But as far as his production, there's a lot to look at. He was very schemed open (at Tennessee). It's not his fault, and maybe he can be a guy that gets open on his own…It's a function of their offense. So, there are definitely some questions with him."

On North Carolina's Josh Downs:

"You look at North Carolina, and you've got the potential number one pick in the 2024 draft (quarterback Drake Maye) throwing the ball to him…I think the consistency with which the ball was delivered to Downs, when and where he needed it, sort of takes away from his skills. I like Downs quite a bit. He had some very impressive tape, especially against good programs. I think he rose up when the Tar Heels had to play a good team. And that impresses me. I like to see that."


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