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Giants Now: Next Gen Stats' can't-miss prospects

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Next Gen Stats' can't-miss prospects

The 2021 NFL Draft is just around the corner. Over the last few months, Giants.com has featured all different types of draft content leading up to next week's festivities.

Next up in our draft coverage is Next Gen Stats' can't-miss prospects.

As Mike Band writes in the introduction, "Originally debuted ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft -- and refined for this year's draft class -- the Next Gen Stats predictive draft model estimates a prospect's chances of pro success based on his athleticism, production and size profile. The results of each position-specific model are transformed into scores, ranging from 50 to 99, representing the measurable dimensions of an NFL prospect.

"While the numbers do not tell the complete story, the blend of objective data and subjective reasoning can often lead to better decision processes on draft day. That's what we set out to do with the Next Gen Stats draft score."

Next Gen Stats featured seven players on this list, including three pass-catchers, one linebacker, two cornerbacks and one quarterback.

Here are the seven prospects who made the can't-miss list, along with each of the players' marks from Next Gen Stats:

T1. Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Production Score: 89

Athleticism Score: 99

Overall Draft Score: 99

Pro Bowl Probability: 24%

"Who will be the first non-quarterback selected in the 2021 NFL Draft? It very well might come down to Kyle Pitts vs. Ja'Marr Chase -- and the numbers support the hype. Driven by elite athleticism and record-breaking statistics, Chase enters the draft with the highest probability of making a Pro Bowl within his first three seasons (24%) of any wide receiver over the last four draft classes. Among 52 wide receivers invited to this year's combine, Chase posted top-three numbers at LSU's pro day in the 40-yard dash (4.34), broad jump (11 feet even), vertical jump (41 inches) and short shuttle (3.99), making him the first wide receiver (invited to the combine) to break four seconds in the short shuttle since Amari Cooper did it in 2015 (3.98 seconds). The 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner -- the award is given to the nation's top wide receiver -- led the FBS in receiving yards (1,780) and receiving touchdowns (20) as a true sophomore in a receiving corps that also featured eventual first-round pick and rookie Pro Bowler Justin Jefferson. Despite opting out of the 2020 season to prepare for the draft -- which did affect his production score -- Chase grades out as one of the most complete wide receivers to enter the NFL in some time." -- Mike Band

T1. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Production Score: 99

Athleticism Score: 98

Overall Draft Score: 99

Pro Bowl Probability: 19%

3. Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

Production Score: 97

Athleticism Score: 83

Overall Draft Score: 97

Pro Bowl Probability: 18%

"Linebacker U -- as Penn State is often labeled -- has another top prospect coming through the pipeline. Parsons, a former five-star high school recruit, led the Nittany Lions in total tackles as a true freshman (with 83) and again as a sophomore (109). Despite opting out of the 2020 season, Parsons earned a 97 production score due to his elite two-year output. At his pro day, Parsons ran a reported 4.36-second 40-yard dash, which would have ranked fastest of any linebacker at the combine since at least 2003. On the surface, Parson's 83 athleticism score would appear low for the 246-pound linebacker. However, raw speed is not among the most important athletic traits for linebackers -- the NGS model finds linebackers just have to be fast enough (think 4.65 seconds in the 40), and that agility and burst numbers are also predictive. Parsons tested closer to the middle of the pack in key drills like the short shuttle (4.40 seconds) and vertical jump (34-inches). No matter -- overall, our model still predicts Parsons has elite pro potential. His 97 overall draft score is tied for third-highest among linebackers invited to the combine since the 2013 NFL Draft, behind only Devin Bush (99) and Devin White (99)." -- Mike Band

4. Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

Production Score: 87

Athleticism Score: 97

Overall Draft Score: 96

Pro Bowl Probability: 24%

5. Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

Production Score: 72

Athleticism Score: 99

Overall Draft Score: 95

Pro Bowl Probability: 27%

6. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Production Score: 99

Athleticism Score: 76 (estimated)

Overall Draft Score: 94

Pro Bowl Probability: 36%

7. Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

Production Score: 81

Athleticism Score: 99

Overall Draft Score: 92

Pro Bowl Probability: 13%

View photos of every player projected to the Giants in mock drafts just days ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Giants upgrade roster with 'old-school' free agency

NFL free agency has evolved into a mix of blind dates and musical chairs.

Teams often commit millions of dollars to players without meeting face to face – a practice conducted even before the pandemic – at the risk of being the last one standing. The Giants, however, did it differently this year. Their relatively long courtship of free agents like Kenny Golladay, regarded as the top wide receiver on the market, was well-documented as they wined, dined, and ultimately signed.

"We had them in here and it was an old-school free agency," general manager Dave Gettleman said Tuesday. "We got to talk, a chance to visit with them, they went out to dinner with various people in the organization, they were here a couple of nights, our doctors were able to put their hands on them. It was an old-fashioned free agency."

"It wasn't just our decision, the players wanted to come in as well," vice president of football operations and assistant general manager Kevin Abrams said. "Both parties wanted to have the visit."

The result was a free-agent class that surprised everyone but the people in the building.

"We got a pretty good understanding of what they're about and that, to me, was a big advantage," team president and chief executive officer John Mara said a few weeks ago when the dust settled after the first wave of free agency. "It's much more difficult to do this when you can't get the guys in the building and you have to make a commitment to a large amount of money without getting a chance to eye them up and talk to them and get a feel for them. I was happy that we were able to do that this year. It made it easier to give the final okay to say, 'Yeah, go ahead, get the thing signed.'"

Mara described the approach as "thorough" in the recruiting cycle, stemming from the philosophy that fit supersedes skill when building a team. There was also a tangible reason to bring prospective players in for a visit: medical examination.

In 2020, Golladay missed Weeks 2 and 3 with a hamstring injury and the final nine games with a hip flexor strain.

"Well, you bring him in because you want to get a physical on him," Gettleman said. "That was the biggest reason, get a physical on him. But it was nice for a change to get to know a guy and have that opportunity to do that. Like I said, it was like the old days. The biggest reason was the physical."

With training camp here, view photos of every move made by the Giants this offseason.

2021 NFL Draft Position Preview: Top WR prospects

The 2021 NFL Draft kicks off in less than two weeks from Cleveland, Ohio.

There was no Combine this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, thus putting added importance into the college pro day circuit. It served as the only opportunity for prospects to showcase their skills and athleticism to NFL teams prior to the start of the draft.

Leading up to April 29, Giants.com will be breaking down the top prospects at each position according to NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah's top 50 draft prospect list.

2021 NFL Draft position previews: Edge defenders

Next up are the wide receivers.

Current wide receivers on Giants roster: Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, John Ross, Dante Pettis, Austin Mack, C.J. Board, Alex Bachman, Derrick Dillon, David Sills V

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