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Mel Kiper Jr. has a new Giants draft prediction


*ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. released his latest Mock Draft on Wednesday: *

Two weeks before the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. released his second mock draft of the year.

>Who are the best tight ends in the draft?
>Scouting Report: Top RB prospects
>Make the Case: Barnett vs. McKinley
>Best draft prospects by position
>Go Inside the Film Room

The draft guru projected Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett to the Giants at No. 23. The 6-foot-3, 265-pounder set the Volunteers' all-time career sacks record at 33.0, breaking the previous mark of 32.0 held by the legendary Reggie White. He also recorded 52.0 tackles for loss in his career, second-most in school history.


"If you're shocked this isn't an offensive tackle, I don't think you'll be surprised by the end of April when you've heard plenty about the blocking talent in this class," Kiper wrote. "Barnett has been tremendously productive as a pass-rusher, and even if Jason Pierre-Paul is back, the Giants could use the help. If he's not, then a pass-rusher is a must."

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller shared similar thoughts and also penciled in Barnett for the Giants.

"Barnett's production at Tennessee was eye-opening, but his lack of twitch and elite athleticism pushes him down the board as we get closer to the draft," Miller wrote. "Barnett is still capable of a long, productive NFL career, and starting out down that road opposite Olivier Vernon gives him the one-on-one looks from offensive lines he'll need to produce."

Photos of Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett

Here is a look at other mock drafts that are circulating right now:

Will Brinson, (2/16)
Pick: Cam Robinson , OL, Alabama
Analysis: "The biggest issue for the Giants last year was an inability to keep Eli Manning protected -- even though he was only sacked 21 times, he was consistently under pressure from opposing defenses. Adding Robinson will shore up the pass protection and help improve the Giants' run game."

Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus (2/16)
Pick: Solomon Thomas, Edge, Stanford
Analysis: "With Jason Pierre-Paul a pending free agent, Thomas would be a nice replacement after winning PFF's Best Run Defender award in college football in 2016. Thomas' 92.0 run-defense grade led the nation, despite playing mostly on the interior for Stanford at an undersized 270 pounds. He projects better on the edge in base defense, where his ability to shoot gaps and shed blocks should be too much for tight ends to handle. As a pass-rusher, Thomas had improved the last three years, as his 86.5 pass-rush grade ranked seventh in the nation in 2016, and he'll likely do his best work rushing from the interior in sub-packages."

Pete Prisco, (2/15)
Pick: Zach Cunningham , LB, Vanderbilt
Analysis: "He really showed up on their defense, and the Giants have a major need for a linebacker. The defense is improving, but they need better play from this spot."

Rob Rang, The Sports Xchange (2/13)
Pick: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
Analysis: "The Giants rushed for a miniscule 3.5 yards per carry in 2016 and scored a league-low six touchdowns on the ground. McCaffrey isn't a bruiser but his instincts, shiftiness and soft hands out of the backfield could make him an intriguing weapon for Big Blue."

Dane Brugler, (2/13)
Pick: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
Analysis: "Charlton, who has some traits reminiscent of Justin Tuck out of Notre Dame, has all the ingredients of a NFL starter."

Chris Burke, Sports Illustrated (2/8)
Pick: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
Analysis: "One of the class's other tight ends (say, David Njoku) would be intriguing here. However, the Giants' offense can only do so much—no matter the number of weapons—without better line play. Ramczyk is a plug-and-play candidate."

Todd McShay, ESPN (2/8)
Pick: Takkarist McKinley, DE/OLB, UCLA
Analysis: "Tight end would also be a strong possibility if either [Alabama's O.J.] Howard or [Miami's David] Njoku were still on the board. With both gone and Jason Pierre-Paul slated to become a free agent, the Giants could be in the market for another pass-rusher. McKinley has versatility, and I love his motor. He's a natural pass-rusher with elite speed off the edge, recording 18 TFLs and 10 sacks in 2016."

Lance Zierlein, (1/29)
Pick: David Njoku, TE, Miami
Analysis: "A freaky athlete, Njoku is a former high-school high-jump champion who should light it up at the NFL Scouting Combine. I'll leave him here for now, but I suspect he'll keep bouncing higher as the process plays out."

Bucky Brooks, (1/26)
Pick: O.J. Howard, OT, Alabama
Analysis: "After emerging as the best overall tight end at the Senior Bowl, Howard elevated his stock. The Giants could use another weapon in the passing game to alleviate pressure on Odell Beckham, Jr. on the outside."'s Mike Mayock ranked the top player at each position in the 2017 NFL Draft.

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