Mel Kiper updates Giants picks in latest mock draft
The 2022 NFL Scouting Combine is officially underway at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
This week's workouts and interviews can go a long way in determining where many prospects will land in this year's NFL Draft.
Before the festivities kicked off in Indy, one of the top draft analysts in the business, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., released his pre-combine predictions for the first round of this year's draft.
In his first mock draft from late January, Kiper connected the Giants to N.C. State offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu at No. 5 and Michigan edge rusher David Ojabo at No. 7. In his latest mock draft, Kiper has the Giants addressing the defense with both of their top two picks.
Here are Kiper's picks for the Giants in his latest mock draft.
Pick for No. 5: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
Analysis: "If the draft plays out like this and both of the top offensive tackles are off the board before the Giants pick, taking a defender makes the most sense. And if Thibodeaux is available, he'd be a perfect fit for a New York defense that needs to pair a true edge rusher with rookie Azeez Ojulari, who led the team with eight sacks last season. Thibodeaux has to improve his all-around game, but he has outstanding physical tools as a pass-rusher. He had seven sacks last season and put up the second-best pressure rate in the country (17.8%). If he comes close to his ceiling, he'll make multiple All-Pro teams. The Giants have some nice pieces to build around for new general manager Joe Schoen and coach Brian Daboll, but they're not going to be able to acquire an edge rusher like Thibodeaux anywhere other than the draft. We could look back at this pick in five years and consider it a steal." -- 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.
Pick for No. 7: Devin Lloyd, ILB, Utah
Analysis: "With the Giants' second top-10 pick, I'm going all-in on improving the front seven of the defense. Lloyd is a middle linebacker, yes, but he does so much more. He had 111 total tackles, eight sacks, 20 tackles for loss, four interceptions and a forced fumble last season. He had 16.5 total sacks over the past three seasons. Lloyd (and No. 5 pick Kayvon Thibodeaux) can add some pass-rush upside to a team that desperately needs it." -- Kiper
Lloyd enjoyed three consecutive strong seasons at Utah. After earning a 69.5 during his sophomore campaign in which he registered 6.5 sacks, Lloyd followed that up with an 82.2 in five games during the 2020 season where he totaled two sacks and 10 tackles for loss. He saved his best for his final collegiate season though, receiving an elite 90.2 overall grade. Lloyd got strong marks in all areas of his game, including 88.4 pass rush, 82.0 run defense and 81.8 coverage grade.
The do-it-all linebacker was named First-Team All-Pac-12 in 2020 and 2021. He also earned Consensus All-American honors this past season, along with being selected as the Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year as the top defensive player in the Pac-12.
For his player comparison, PFF described Lloyd as having "shades of Fred Warner," while Lance Zierlein compared him to Willie Gay.
NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah released his final edition of the top 50 prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Giants to make free agency decisions 'sooner than later'
On the surface, the NFL Scouting Combine is about the draft. But there is another checkpoint much closer on the calendar - free agency.
So, while 32 general managers and their staffs evaluate the incoming crop of rookies, they must also make decisions about their veterans. Some have more than others, and Joe Schoen is one of them.
"We'll start making those soon," the Giants' general manager said Tuesday afternoon to the gathered media in Indianapolis.
The new league year, and thus free agency, will begin March 16 at 4 p.m. ET. The Giants currently have 22 pending unrestricted free agents, three restricted free agents, and five exclusive rights free agents.
When he took over less than six weeks ago, Schoen knew his first priority was fixing an unhealthy salary cap situation. It will require shedding tens of millions of dollars from the payroll, and the clock is ticking.
"We're still meeting this afternoon into tomorrow, but it's kind of 'if this happens, then this,'" Schoen said. "There's a lot of contingency plans that weigh on some of the decisions that we're going to make. We're getting together with some of the agents of the players on our current roster and starting some initial conversations on different things. But sooner than later, we'll start making the necessary moves to get under the salary cap and start planning for the 2022 season."
Brian Daboll lays foundation with new staff
Brian Daboll is using his time at the NFL Scouting Combine for more than just evaluating draft-eligible players.
At exactly 11 p.m. Monday, the Giants concluded their first day of player interviews in their suite in Lucas Oil Stadium. Several hours later, the sun was just rising when Daboll, the team's new head coach, and several of his assistants were back in Suite LS 23a participating in a different task.
"Today, we met as an offensive staff and we're just putting our playbook together now," Daboll said soon after the session ended Tuesday. "We've got a lot of guys in there that have a lot of experience, but we're putting in the foundational pieces. It took roughly three, three and half weeks to put the whole staff together, so the last three and a half weeks weren't as much about football other than evaluating our roster and now the scheme stuff and the foundational pieces we're just really getting started out with."
Daboll conducted the tutorial without his full offensive staff.
"Today was just the skill guys, so we were doing pass patterns today, because all of our guys aren't here," he said. "The rest of the line coaches are getting in today. So, it was pass patterns, route combinations, just basic stuff, motions, formations. Basic stuff when you're trying to lay a foundation."
GM Joe Schoen tackles lengthy to-do list
Joe Schoen realized his long-held goal of becoming an NFL general manager when he assumed the daunting task of leading the Giants' football operations on January 21.
Schoen has been put in charge of revitalizing a franchise that has endured five consecutive losing seasons, is overseeing an overhaul of the front office and coaching staff, must cut tens of millions of dollars from the payroll before the NFL's new league year starts in two weeks, is restructuring the roster and is preparing for free agency and an NFL Draft in which he currently holds two of the top seven selections.
It's not just a full plate of challenges, it's an entire banquet. But 40 days after the Giants announced the job was his, Schoen couldn't be happier.
"I love my job," Schoen said here during a break between interviewing draft-eligible players at the NFL Scouting Combine. "I don't know how anybody could do this, the amount of hours, even Dabes' (Brian Daboll) as the head coach and his coaching staff, my personnel staff from (assistant general manager) Brandon Brown, (director of player personnel) Tim (McDonnell), (director of college scouting) Chris Pettit, all the scouts, the amount of time we put in. If you don't love this job, there's no way you could do it because there's really not much time to do anything else, especially between now and the draft. I love the job. I love the people I'm working with. I love the organization. It's been a really positive experience thus far."
Draft Season | What to watch for at the NFL Combine
Tony Pauline and Eric Crocker join John Schmeelk to preview everything that will happen at the NFL Combine and make their top predictions for the week.
1:06: Elimination of the Combine Bubble
5:19: Scheduling challenges for players
10:27 Medicals and interviews
18:20 Athletic testing
31:50 Combine predictions
📸 Best of Giants Media Day at NFL Combine
Check out the gallery below to view photos from Giants Media Day as GM Joe Schoen and Coach Brian Daboll spoke to the media from the NFL Combine on Tuesday.
View photos from Giants Media Day as GM Joe Schoen and Coach Brian Daboll spoke to the media from the NFL Combine.