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Giants Now (1/28): Kiper predicts Giants draft defense at No. 4, Namath praises Eli, and Saquon shares admiration for Kobe

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Mel Kiper predicts Isaiah Simmons to Giants

The NFL Draft is less than three months away, but experts have already begun predicting where the top prospects will land. Many mock drafts have linked the Giants' No. 4 overall pick to offensive linemen, as players such as Jedrick Wills of Alabama, Andrew Thomas of Georgia, Mekhi Becton of Louisville and Tristan Wirfs of Iowa have all been connected to Big Blue. But in his first mock draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper had the Giants going with one of the most talented and versatile defensive players in this year's draft class- Clemson's LB/S Isaiah Simmons.

Kiper wrote, "An off-ball linebacker in the top five? Believe it -- Simmons is that good. He is the perfect run-and-cover linebacker for today's NFL, and he can do anything and play every down. Just look at his incredible stat line from 2019: 104 tackles, eight sacks, three interceptions and 16 total tackles for loss. The Giants have many needs, but Simmons is the type of defender who makes everyone around him better."

View photos of players listed on NFL Network's Top 50 NFL Draft prospect rankings

Joe Namath praises Eli Manning for remarkable career

Last week, Giants all-time great quarterback Eli Manning announced his retirement from the NFL in a special press conference at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Many figures from around the NFL, both present and current, congratulated the quarterback for a tremendous career, one in which he spent all 16 years with the Giants. Manning helped lead the Giants to two Super Bowl Championships, becoming the only player in franchise history and one of only five players in NFL history to take home two Super Bowl MVP awards, and owns almost every franchise passing record.

Joe Namath knows what it's like to be a quarterback in the New York area. Namath started under center for the New York Jets from 1965-1976, helping lead the franchise to their only Super Bowl championship in Super Bowl III, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. However, when asked if he would consider himself better than Manning, Namath said it wasn't close.

"I was pretty good and did some things. Eli, I marveled at. He was remarkable," Namath told Dean Balsamini of the New York Post. "I wouldn't compare myself to Eli. He's done far more than I ever did on the field."

Saquon idolized Kobe

The sports world is still reeling from the news of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others passing away in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday. You can count Saquon Barkley as one of the vast number of athletes devastated by the news of the NBA legend's sudden death. Barkley took to social media to pay tribute to the basketball legend, but the running back's admiration for Bryant has already been well-known.

As the Post’s Paul Schwartz wrote, "For a generation of athletes, the shocking death of Kobe Bryant at the age of 41 leaves a massive void. Bryant was an inspiration to so many. Count Saquon Barkley as feeling as if a part of his athletic world has been ripped from him.

Barkley wrote 'Mamba Mentality' on his cleats before practices and games, in homage to the Lakers and NBA great who challenged legions of players to 'attack what's in front of you with passion and purpose, without fear and doubt and without an ounce of quit.'

Barkley, the star Giants running back, never met Bryant in person. The two shared a social media interaction back in July of 2019 after Barkley posted a video on the UNINTERRUPTED website, an open letter to one of his idols.

Barkley recounted to Bryant the poem 'Ozymandias,'' about a traveler who comes across an ancient kingdom that is now covered in sand."

"You gave Giannis [Antetokounmpo] a piece of your Mamba Mentality and he made it his own," Barkley says in the video. "He's now an MVP. I write your phrase Mamba Mentality on my cleats before practices and games because I know that attitude is what it takes to be special. Your legacy isn't about trophies, rings, money or material objects. Your legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of athletes and fans around the world, like myself… King Ozymandias may not remain, but the Mamba Mentality legacy will live on forever. I just hope one day I can inspire others the way you inspired me.''

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