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Cover 4: Draft season about to kick into high gear


The crew gives first impressions of the 2023 NFL Draft class as the evaluation process shifts into high gear:

John Schmeelk: You're not going to see a lot of true blue chip prospects in this draft, but fortunately that will not impact the Giants this year since they are selecting 25th. It's another benefit of winning a playoff game. The Giants are technically selecting 26th in the draft but since the Dolphins have to forfeit their first-round pick due to tampering violations, the Giants move up a spot in the first round, and then slot in at 26th in each subsequent round.

The class sets up well for the Giants at first glance. There are probably not going to be any wide receivers selected in the top 10, but there could be good value late in the first round if Quentin Johnson, Jordan Addison, Jaxon Smith-Njigba or another of the top receivers is there. Much like every other year, there are always receivers to be found in later rounds.

There could be more cornerbacks picked in the first round than any other position, except perhaps edge rusher. There could be a starting-caliber cornerback available when the Giants select at 25th. They might also have the opportunity to draft the first interior offensive lineman in the draft. The Senior Bowl also showed it is a pretty deep draft at that position.

There is also a chance that not a single off-ball linebacker gets selected in the top 20 picks, giving the Giants the opportunity to grab the first one off the board, whether it is Drew Sanders, Trenton Simpson, or someone else. The same might also be the case for tight end, where as many as three different tight ends are being talked about as first-round picks.

Bottom line? The Giants are in good position to find good players at positions of need with their picks.

Dan Salomone: While Year 1 of the new era couldn't have gone much better, general manager Joe Schoen didn't fall for fool's gold. "There's a talent gap there that we need to close, and to me, it's the NFC East," he said in his season-ending press conference after the loss to the No. 1 seed Eagles. "I mean, we were 1-5-1 against the NFC East. If you win the division, the rest takes care of itself. So, that's always going to be a goal of ours: to close that gap and be NFC East champs."

Wide receiver has gotten much attention heading into the offseason, but no single position or player will fill that gap alone. That's why the Giants didn't make any hasty decisions when in the middle of the season they found themselves in playoff contention for the first time since 2016.

"I don't believe in the 'you're one player away,'" Schoen said. "I think it's truly a team game. And that's where we were and the holes that we had. I thought it was best just to stay pat where we were. We have nine picks going into next year's draft. We do have a little bit more financial flexibility. As a group, we thought that was the best thing to do."

The Giants will continue to focus on building a team as opposed to just collecting talent. Sitting at pick No. 25 makes it anyone's guess what direction they ultimately go on April 27, but when perusing those top prospect rankings out there, look for more steak than sizzle … because we all know how much Brian Daboll likes his steak.

NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah updated his ranking of the top 50 prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Lance Medow: Much like the regular season, the months leading up to the NFL Draft are a marathon, not a sprint. Player stocks rise and fall by the event and the outlook of a prospect can drastically change between February and April. On top of that, we have yet to even begin free agency, which will also influence the direction and choices of teams. That's why, at this stage of the game, it's all about where there may be depth as opposed to star power, especially since the Giants won't be selecting till the 25th overall pick and it remains to be seen what positions New York could be looking to address.

With several players set to hit the market and others aiming to return from injury, you can figure wide receiver is atop the list of needs. Although this year's class may not have the same buzz as previous ones, recent history has proven that position can make a smooth transition from college to the pros. It's also not a bad situation if you can wind up grabbing a wideout in the second or middle rounds, considering that would be great value if they can come in and make an immediate impact. When it comes to the deepest spots, cornerback and edge rusher can make strong cases and those are also two positions the Giants may look to tackle as they aim to build a stronger rotation there. The other position to keep close tabs on is center. Jon Feliciano and Nick Gates are free agents, so it's not a stretch to say the team could try to develop a younger player. There are attractive options to turn to in this year's class.

Matt Citak: It's hard to believe draft season is already upon us, but here we are. A lot can change between now and the start of the draft in late April. But as things stand today, the Giants have a chance to add some talented players at key positions of need with their nine (current) picks.

The Giants might look to add a wide receiver this offseason, whether it's through free agency or the early part of the draft. Jordan Addison, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Quentin Johnston, Zay Flowers and Jalin Hyatt could hear their names called in the first round, while guys such as Josh Downs, Rome Odunze, Nathaniel Dell and Rashee Rice are possibilities to go on Day 2. This year's wide receiver class isn't quite as strong or deep as some of those in recent years, but there are still some strong prospects who can step in and make a difference as soon as next season.

Some of the strengths of the 2023 draft class appear to be at cornerback, running back and center, all of which could be positions the Giants look to add more depth at this offseason. Cornerback appears to be perhaps the strongest position in this year's draft, with premier talent poised to go on Day 1 along with promising prospects that will go on Days 2 and 3. On the other end of the spectrum, there doesn't seem to be a lot of top talent at inside linebacker at this time of the pre-draft process. The Giants only have three inside linebackers currently under contract, two of which (Cam Brown & Carter Coughlin) played less than 10 defensive snaps apiece this past year. The draft looks to be thin there, so Joe Schoen could look to make a big free-agent splash at ILB in March as opposed to drafting one in late April.


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