Mel Kiper Jr. updates Giants picks in latest mock draft
We are officially two weeks away from the 2022 NFL Draft.
With the draft right around the corner, many draft experts are releasing updated predictions for the first round.
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. is considered one of the best draft analysts in the business. This week, he published his latest mock draft in which he changed his picks for the Giants but kept the same positions. In the last edition of his first-round projections, Kiper predicted the Giants select Alabama OT Evan Neal at No. 5 and Oregon EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux at No. 7.
Here are Kiper's new picks for Big Blue in his latest mock draft.
Pick for No. 5: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, N.C. State
Analysis: "If the board shakes out this way, the Giants would have to be thrilled to get their pick of the top two offensive tackles. I have Ekwonu just slightly over Evan Neal, but it's tough to go wrong with either -- they are my Nos. 2 and 3 prospects in this class. Ekwonu answered every question about his pass-protection ability last season. If left tackle Andrew Thomas keeps improving, these two could form one of the NFL's best bookend pairings."
Ekwonu allowed just three sacks and 10 hurries on 500 pass block snaps last season. Pro Football Focus awarded him a 91.6 overall grade this past season, which included 93.8 run block and 78.3 pass block grades. In his first two seasons at N.C. State, the young tackle had overall grades of 80.6 (2020) and 80.5 (2019). Ekwonu earned numerous awards and honors this past year, and surrendered just eight QB hits on 1,332 pass block snaps over the last three seasons at N.C. State.
Ekwonu's career accolades include Unanimous All-American (2021), ACC Jacobs Blocking Award (2021), First-Team All-ACC (2021), and Third-Team All-ACC (2020). For his player comparison, both PFF and Lance Zierlein compared him to Kelechi Osemele.
Pick for No. 7: Jermaine Johnson II, DE, Florida State
Analysis: "The Giants can get their tackle at No. 5 and then focus on their defense, which allowed 4.7 yards per play last season (31st in the NFL). Johnson had 12 sacks last season and was one of the most impressive prospects at the Senior Bowl in January. He already has a few veteran pass-rush moves and can be an instant starter. He also played a lot of outside linebacker for the Seminoles, so he has some versatility in Wink Martindale's defense. And if you're keeping track, this makes four edge rushers in the top seven picks."
Johnson started all 12 games for Florida State last season and recorded 70 total tackles, 12 sacks, 18 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, 12 QB hurries, two pass breakups and one fumble recovery. He led the ACC in tackles for loss and sacks, and his total tackles were the most among all Power 5 defensive linemen. Johnson also ranked sixth in sacks and eighth in tackles for loss nationally. Johnson earned an 81.1 overall grade from PFF in 2021, including 75.9 pass rush and 79.2 run defense grade, and was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
For his player comparison, PFF says Johnson has shades of Daeshon Hall while Lance Zierlein compared him to Maxx Crosby.
As an added bonus, Kiper also included a prediction for the Giants' second-round pick at No. 36.
Pick for No. 36: Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor
Analysis: "This makes five safeties off the board in the top 36 picks. Pitre was stellar against the run last season; he had 20 run stops, according to ESPN Stats & Info, which were the most by any FBS defensive back. He impressed teams at the Senior Bowl. The Giants could target a wide receiver here, depending on how the board falls. The 6-foot-3 George Pickens (Georgia) could make sense."
CBS Sports Pete Prisco's 2022 NFL Draft Better-Than Team
Throughout the pre-draft process each year, every draft analyst has their own opinions on how prospects should be ranked within the draft class.
More often than not, the rankings from draft experts tend to look a lot different than those of scouts and teams.
Pete Prisco is CBS Sports' senior NFL columnist, and this week he released his 2022 NFL Draft Better-Than Team. The 20 players on this list represent the crop of prospects that Prisco likes more than the scouts reportedly do.
Here are a few of the players on Prisco's list.
Brian Asamoah, LB, Oklahoma (Captain of Prisco's Better-Than Team)
"In a league where speed linebackers have more value than even a decade ago, Asamoah will be a great add for teams looking for a dynamic off-the-ball linebacker. The three-down linebacker who can stay on the field on third down is what every team wants."
Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor
"When you pop on his tape, he shows up all over the field. He isn't a big safety, but he has the speed to chase down plays and he's outstanding near the line of scrimmage. I think he is a lot like Tyrann Mathieu, who has become an All-Pro safety in the NFL after playing corner in college. Pitre will be the best safety in this draft class. Yes, better than the more-heralded Kyle Hamilton."
Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama
"He is a bigger receiver who dominated against lower-level competition. But all one has to do to see if he can handle better competition is put on his tape from the Tennessee game last season. They couldn't handle him as he caught seven passes for 143 yards and a touchdown. His physical style was a problem for those SEC corners. He's not a burner, but he plays plenty fast enough."
Luke Goedeke, OT, Central Michigan
"He is the "other" tackle on the Central Michigan team, but I am not so sure he should be. Bernhard Raimann, the left tackle for the Broncos, is being mentioned as a potential first-round pick. But when I watched the tape of Goedeke, thanks in part to a mention by a scout I respect, I came away thinking he could end up as the better player than Raimann on the next level. Injuries hurt him last season, but he should be a long-time starter in the NFL, whether at right tackle or guard."
Channing Tindall, LB, Georgia
"Fellow Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean gets all the attention, but I think Tindall has a real chance to be a better NFL player. Tindall is bigger and faster and really pops on tape. He is explosive running to the football. Amazingly, he didn't start at Georgia. Dean and Quay Walker, another impressive prospect, were the starters. But Tindall's athletic ability and size translate to the next level. He can also rush the passer. He is violent."
Tyquan Thornton, WR, Baylor
"He has good size at 6-2, but the thing that stands out is his speed. Yes, he timed well at the combine at under 4.3, but what's really impressive is the way he runs away from defenders with ease. He's a long-striding glider who can turn short passes into big plays. The more I watched him, the more I liked. His West Virginia tape, including deep in where he ran away from the defense for a touchdown, was eye-opening. He's also a pretty good route runner for a speed guy, something he will get better at on the next level. Thornton will be a second-round steal."
James Cook, RB, Georgia
"Backs who can run and catch and create issues in the open field are now much more valuable than they used be. The game is spread out, which is perfect for Cook's abilities. He can get out of the backfield and create problems for linebackers, and he has the elusive ability to turn short gains into big runs. He isn't as good as his brother, Dalvin Cook of the Vikings, but he will be a productive NFL back."
NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah released his final edition of the top 50 prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft.
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