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Fact or Fiction: Predictions for first round of draft

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Five quarterbacks will be drafted before the Giants at No. 11

John Schmeelk: Fact - This is really a tough one. It is either going to be four or five. The top three picks are going to be quarterbacks. It is no sure thing, but I think the Broncos are going to take another swing at the position in a trade-up or staying put at ninth overall, which would make four. Will there be a fifth? I wouldn't rule out the Falcons taking a quarterback at No. 4, with Matt Ryan nearing the back end of his career. Sam Darnold is only under contract for two more seasons, so I wouldn't rule out Carolina, either, though I think they are a less likely option than Atlanta. Detroit is the other wildcard for me. I don't think it is impossible they take a quarterback, though very unlikely. A trade down with a team that would be looking to take a quarterback, however, is a distinct possibility. The Cowboys trading out of the 10th spot with a team like New England or Chicago also shouldn't be ruled out, either, though there might not be any quarterbacks left when their pick arrives. So with all of that indecisiveness, I'm going to go fact because a trade up with Detroit will yield the fifth quarterback in the top 10.

Lance Medow: Fiction - As it stands right now, I'll go with four being the max as opposed to five. Even if the first three teams (Jaguars, Jets, Niners) take a quarterback, the only other team after them needing a signal caller is Denver at No. 9. Outside of the Broncos, the other six teams have options under center. I wouldn't be stunned if any of those teams address that position, but I don't think they need to and can easily focus on other areas to improve.

Matt Citak: Fact – If you buy into media reports over the last few weeks, it appears as if the first three picks in this year's draft are all but locked in on quarterbacks. Of the remaining seven teams that are set to pick before the Giants at No. 11, only the Bengals (No. 5), Dolphins (No. 6) and Cowboys (No. 10) appear to already have their quarterbacks of the future. The Atlanta Falcons, with the fourth overall pick, may not get another chance to select an heir apparent to Matt Ryan anytime soon (at least, not one this high up in the draft). Although the Detroit Lions seem content with Jared Goff following their big offseason trade, I would not be surprised if Dan Campbell wanted to start his tenure in Detroit with his own rookie QB. If it weren't for the acquisition of Sam Darnold, the Carolina Panthers likely would have looked to move up in order to take a quarterback. Even after the trade, I'm not 100 percent convinced they won't draft one if one happens to drop to them at No. 8. Ditto with the Denver Broncos, who I think are leaning toward sticking with Drew Lock, but could be tempted to draft his replacement if one of the top guys starts to fall. At the end of the day, of these four teams, I think two will pull the trigger on a quarterback, bringing the count to five. 

The deep quarterback class makes it more likely the Giants trade down

John Schmeelk: Fiction - The answer would be different if the Giants were picking a little higher. I do not think Dave Gettleman will trade away from selecting a premium player, so moving down past 15th would seem extremely unlikely. There are no quarterback needy teams (Eagles, Chargers, Vikings) between the Giants at No. 11 and the Patriots at No. 15, so there might not be any motivation for New England to offer anything significant to make that move. They could try to pre-empt a team like Chicago or Washington moving up, but I find that to be unlikely.

Lance Medow: Fiction - Although there may be some depth at quarterback, that doesn't mean a team wants to swap positions with the Giants or that New York would want to move out of its spot and risk the chance of missing out on their desired player. This is more about what the Giants think of the potential pool of players they can choose from at 11 versus the interest of other teams when it comes to the quarterbacks. You also can't dismiss the track record of GM Dave Gettleman, who has never traded down in the first round.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Even if one of the top quarterbacks makes it to No. 11, I just don't see the Giants sliding down. GM Dave Gettleman will find it awfully tough to pass on the opportunity to select one of the draft's premier prospects. However, one way I could see the Giants considering a trade down is if they are set on selecting an edge rusher, in which case they could slide 5-10 slots and likely still have a chance at one of their top guys at the position. However, team president John Mara told the media last month that the Giants' free agent haul will allow them to get the best player available. I truly believe this will end up being the case.

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.

You would be surprised if the Giants drafted a wide receiver in the first round

John Schmeelk: Fiction - I feel very strongly about this because there is a good chance that the highest graded player on the Giants board when they select at 11th overall could be a wide receiver. They signed Kenny Golladay in free agency, but that doesn't mean the offense couldn't be helped with more firepower. As the team tries to do all it can to help Daniel Jones improve, it is impossible to do too much to help the offense. A player like Devonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle would fit in nicely in the Giants receiving corps and could fill any of the spots, inside or outside, to complement Golladay. Sterling Shepard has missed 15 games over his last four seasons and Darius Slayton played through bumps and bruises last year. Adding another elite player to the group would not be a bad thing. I do not contend the Giants go off their board for a wide receiver, but it is a very strong group at the top of this year's draft, so they shouldn't shy away from one, either.

Lance Medow: Fiction – I wouldn't be stunned if the Giants address any position other than running back. Although the Giants signed receivers Kenny Golladay and John Ross in free agency, you can never guarantee how many games each player will suit up for (due to injuries) and the draft also must address the future.

Matt Citak: Fiction – I could not give a more emphatic fiction on this one. The additions of Kenny Golladay and John Ross in free agency gave the wide receiver corps a significant boost. And although there are other areas of the roster that some would say need more attention, I believe the Giants will have all three of the top wide receivers high on their draft board. Ja'Marr Chase will probably be gone by No. 11, but it is likely that either DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle will still be there, if not both. As we've seen on countless occasions, Joe Judge loves reaching into the Alabama well. One quick phone call to his old mentor, Nick Saban, could have Judge and the whole front office sold on one of the Crimson Tide wideouts.

Draft picks are more valuable than cap space

John Schmeelk: Fact - Draft picks, specifically Day 1-2 selections, are far more valuable than cap space. They can be used to acquire starting-level players who are signed for a few seasons at well-below market level prices. Cap space can then be used to sign those players long term after their rookie contracts expire. It is impossible to succeed in the NFL if a team does not draft well and develop its own players. Cap space is necessary to retain players, but draft picks are used to get them in the building at a young age on reasonable long-term contracts.

Lance Medow: Fact - The most effective way to build a roster is through the draft as rookie contracts put less stress on your cap than lucrative free agent deals – this alone means draft picks are more valuable because, by default, they provide you with additional cap space. The draft is also a more effective way to maintain continuity on the roster as a first-round pick is under contract for four years (with an additional team option for a fifth year). The rest of the picks max out at four years. Free agent deals aren't attached to any specific timeline, so cap space can allow you to make a big splash; but that player may only be under your control for a year or two - and then, you'll have to go through the negotiating process all over again. 

Matt Citak: Fact – Building through the draft is absolutely critical to a team's success. You'll be hard-pressed to find a recent Super Bowl champion who missed on a lot of their early draft picks in the seasons leading up to the title run. The first two days of the draft (Rounds 1-3) are when teams can add prospects who, in many cases, will step in as immediate starters for a fraction of the cost of veterans on the free agent market. Cap space is crucial, too, because after you hit on those draft picks, it will cost a good amount more than their rookie contracts to re-sign those homegrown players. You can't build a perennial contender simply through adding guys in free agency, though; it all starts in the draft.

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

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