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Giants Now: Mel Kiper Jr. updates Giants predictions

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Mel Kiper Jr. updates draft predictions for Giants

We are just about a week into the new league year, and the start of free agency has changed the draft needs for many teams across the league.

The Giants have made some moves through the start of free agency, helping to shore up the offensive line while addressing the depth at several other positions.

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. is one of the top draft analysts in the business. This week, Kiper released his latest prediction for the first round of this year's NFL Draft.

Kiper projected the Giants to address both the offense and defense with their picks at Nos. 5 and 7, landing one of the top-ranked prospects on both sides of the ball.

Here are Kiper's latest predictions for the Giants in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Pick for No. 5: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

Analysis: "The Giants, the other team with two top-10 picks, haven't been as active in free agency as new general manager Joe Schoen gets the team back into decent salary-cap shape. That doesn't mean they don't have needs, though, particularly at edge rusher and offensive tackle. With the way the board has fallen in this projection, they can get Day 1 starters at both spots. Neal is a massive tackle who can overpower defenders in the run game and move his feet as a pass-protector. Andrew Thomas, the No. 4 pick in the 2020 draft, looked much better in Year 2 and could stay at left tackle, pushing Neal to the right side. Neal also played some guard at Alabama, and he could be great there too. This is a big season for quarterback Daniel Jones, so the Giants have to keep him upright." -- Kiper

Neal enjoyed a strong collegiate career at Alabama. As a freshman, he started 13 games and allowed just one sack and three hits on 423 pass block snaps, earning him a 71.2 overall grade from PFF. It only went up from there for Neal, who earned an dominant 83.7 in 2020 after starting 12 games and surrendering two sacks, one hit and six hurries.

The offensive lineman was at his best last season. Starting 15 games at left tackle, Neal gave up two sacks, five hits and eight hurries on 650 pass block snaps. He earned an elite 85.8 overall PFF grade, including 80.4 run block and 83.6 pass block grades. Neal finished his Alabama career with significant time spent at left guard (723 snaps in 2019), right tackle (765 snaps in 2020) and left tackle (1,071 snaps in 2021).

For his player comparison, both PFF and Lance Zierlein compared Neal to Jordan Mailata.

Pick for No. 7: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon

Analysis: "This pick is logical for the team and for the prospect. The Giants' top pass-rusher last season was rookie Azeez Ojulari, who led the team with eight sacks, and they have to improve on the edge. This is their best chance to add a young, talented defensive end. They can afford to use this pick on Thibodeaux, who has a high ceiling but was inconsistent in 2021. If Thibodeaux puts it all together, you're talking about All-Pro-level talent. But if he doesn't build out secondary moves and can't improve his all-around game, he could struggle. He has the type of physical traits NFL teams love, but taking that guy in the top 10 is risky. If New York passes on Thibodeaux, keep an eye on cornerback or linebacker with this pick." -- Kiper

Thibodeaux put together three consecutive strong seasons for the Ducks, which began with an eye-opening freshman campaign in 2019. In 13 games that year, Thibodeaux registered nine sacks and 14 tackles for loss while earning a 77.9 overall grade from Pro Football Focus. This performance led to him being named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.

He followed that up with three sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss in seven games in 2020, good for a 78.9 overall grade, and was named First-Team All-Pac-12 and the recipient of the Morris Trophy as the conference's best defensive lineman. Playing in 10 games as a junior this past season, Thibodeaux had seven sacks, 12 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles. He received an 83.9 overall grade from PFF, including an elite 91.5 pass rush grade, and was once again named First-Team All-Pac-12 along with Unanimous All-American.

For his player comparison, PFF described Thibodeaux as a "rawer Myles Garrett," while Lance Zierlein compared him to Brian Orakpo.

View photos of EVERY player projected to the Giants by draft analysts in mock drafts.

Make the Case: Kiper's picks vs. Jeremiah's picks

In this series, we look at projections provided by analysts and then ask you, the fans, to weigh in on what the Giants should do in the draft.

First up is a debate between the selections from two of the top draft experts in the business - ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. and NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah.

Pick for No. 5: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

Height: 6-7 | Weight: 337

2021 stats: 15 games, 1,073 total offensive snaps, 85.8 overall PFF grade, 650 pass block snaps, 2 sacks, five hits, eight hurries allowed, 83.6 pass block grade, 423 run block snaps, 80.4 run block grade

Pick for No. 7: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 254

2021 stats: 11 games, 560 total defensive snaps, 84.0 overall PFF grade, 289 pass rush snaps, seven sacks, 11 hits, 28 QB hurries, 91.5 pass rush grade, 233 run defense snaps, 76.8 run defense grade, two forced fumbles

Pick for No. 5: Travon Walker, DE, Georgia

Height: 6-5 | Weight: 272

2021 stats: 15 games, 596 total defensive snaps, 71.4 overall PFF grade, 381 pass rush snaps, six sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss, nine hits, 36 QB hurries, 65.8 pass rush grade, 189 run defense snaps, 73.7 run defense grade, one fumble recovery

Pick for No. 7: Drake London, WR, USC

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 219

2021 stats: 8 games, 326 total passing snaps, 91.3 overall PFF grade, 88 receptions for 1,084 yards (12.3 yards per reception) and seven touchdowns, 91.8 receiving grade

NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah released his final edition of the top 50 prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Get to know new Giants RB Matt Breida

Veteran running back Matt Breida signed with the Giants on Monday.

The move reunites the running back with Brian Daboll, as both spent the 2021 season with the Buffalo Bills.

In nine games last season, Breida rushed the ball 26 times for 125 yards (4.8 avg.) and a touchdown, adding seven receptions for 72 yards and two additional scores.

For his career, Breida has registered just over 3,000 total yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns in 64 games spanning five seasons.

Get to know the new Giants running back in the video below.

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2022 Season Tickets on sale now

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