ESPN's Mel Kiper, Todd McShay tackle draft questions
Believe it or not, the 2021 NFL Draft begins just 10 days from now.
After months of speculating on which prospect might land with which team, the biggest night of the offseason is just around the corner.
To help get you prepared for next week's festivities, ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay took to Twitter to answer questions from fans all across the country.
Here are a few of Kiper and McShay's responses from the Q&A:
Q: Will Kwity Paye or Jaelan Phillips be the first edge rusher selected
Mel Kiper: Paye. He has 10-sack-a-year potential if he can improve his technique. He has tremendous potential, and that's what teams draft for. He should be off the board by Arizona at No. 16. Phillips has upside as a pure pass-rusher, but his injury history -- he dealt with concussions at UCLA before he transferred to Miami -- means he's not likely to be the first edge defender off the board.
Q: Who's the most undervalued WR in this draft, and why is it Shi Smith?
Todd McShay: I do love Smith -- I wrote about him earlier this week -- and he certainly helped himself out with a strong Senior Bowl week. He accelerates to top speed quickly and can go up to get some passes despite being 5-foot-10. But he struggles a little when he's pushed around by physical corners, and I think he is probably a Day 3 pick. So I'm sorry, but this has to be Minnesota's Rashod Bateman.
Bateman might be the best route runner not named DeVonta Smith in the draft class, and he has very strong hands in traffic. He knows how to use his body to box out defenders on contested throws, and he's a strong runner after the catch. He also ran faster than we expected at his pro day, clocking his 40-yard dash at 4.39. I like the JuJu Smith-Schuster comp for Bateman, and I think he could be a very talented starter either outside or in the slot in the NFL.
Q: Who could be the surprise first-round pick this year?
Mel Kiper: I have three options here -- all from the ACC -- and again these are just guys who could be surprising first-round picks, not that I'm projecting them to be:
Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina: He's my third-ranked back, but it wouldn't be shocking if a team at the end of Round 1 liked him a little more than Najee Harris and Travis Etienne. There's not much separating the top three. Williams is a really good pass-catcher.
Hunter Long, TE, Boston College: He might end up as the second tight end off the board, and he's a better blocker than Pitts. Long led led all FBS tight ends with 57 catches last season. He's a complete tight end, and we know NFL teams covet those players.
Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina: Yes, another Tar Heel here. Brown is a big-time deep threat -- he put up more than 1,000 yards and averaged 20 yards per catch in each of the last two seasons -- with great hands.
View photos of every player projected to the Giants in mock drafts just days ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Pro Football Focus' 2021 Draft LB superlatives
Last week, Giants.com brought a different perspective to the 2021 NFL Draft coverage, highlighting some of Pro Football Focus' draft superlatives articles.
First up were the wide receivers, where we saw Jaylen Waddle take home the honor of "Best Deep Threat" and "Freakiest Athlete," while DeVonta Smith was named the class' "Best Route Runner."
Then came the offensive linemen, where USC's Alijah Vera-Tucker was awarded "Best Pass Sets," while Northwestern's Rashawn Slater earned "Most Versatile" and Alabama's Landon Dickerson was named "Most Physical."
Next up in PFF's series are the linebackers, and one player that the Giants could be interested in at No. 11 was awarded several of the analytic site's honors.
Here are Michael Renner of PFF's linebacker superlatives:
Best at Taking on Blocks: Micah Parsons, Penn State
Best Blitzer: Micah Parsons, Penn State
"These first two superlatives go hand in hand, so this shouldn't be too surprising. If the 246-pound linebacker were classified solely as an edge defender, he'd likely be EDGE1 in the draft class. He's racked up a ridiculous 36 pressures on 135 pass-rushing snaps in his career for a 91.4 pass-rushing grade. Unsurprisingly, that's the highest career pass-rush grade in the draft class, with only three other linebackers even above 80.0." -- Renner
Most Versatile in Coverage: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame
"This is why JOK is likely to be a top-20 selection come April 29. At only 221 pounds, he's not the prototype for the position by any means. But when you watch him routinely make special plays in coverage, you throw any possible block-shedding issues to the wayside. JOK spent 328 snaps in the slot and 215 snaps in the box last season for the Irish. Even at his size, he still earned the second-highest coverage grade in the slot of any player in college football." -- Renner
Best Coverage Instincts: Jabril Cox, LSU
Best Run-Game Instincts: Nick Bolton, Missouri
Best Tackler: Micah Parsons, Penn State
Best Athlete: Jamin Davis, Kentucky
"This is why Davis may very well be a first-rounder despite having only one season of starting experience in his four years at Kentucky. He put up an eye-popping 4.48-second 40 with a 1.53-second 10-split at his pro day, pairing those numbers with a 42-inch vertical, 11-foot broad jump and 21 bench reps with 33-inch arms. That vertical tied former Georgia linebacker Boss Bailey for the highest ever recorded from a linebacker. That's the type of juice every NFL team is looking for at the position." -- Renner
NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah updated his ranking of the top 50 prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft for the final time before the start of the draft.
Lance Zierlein talks Giants' possible draft plans
NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein joined Giants.com's John Schmeelk on the Giants Huddle Podcast to discuss the team's potential plans for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Zierlein dives into the debate between the two Alabama wide receivers, the top offensive line prospects, Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons and much more.
Check out the audio below for Zierlein's full conversation with Schmeelk.