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Fact or Fiction: NFL draft scenarios, players to watch


The offensive player you're most excited to see on the field this Spring is tight end Darren Waller

John Schmeelk: Fact – Other than Saquon Barkley, Waller is the most accomplished and dynamic skill position player (WR/RB/TE) on the Giants' roster. He has had two 1,000-yard seasons and can win all over the field with his blend of size, speed, and ability to separate from defenders. Let's see Waller operate in space and utilize his array of athletic skills in person to learn how the team might use him and how he may impact the offense.

Lance Medow: Fact – Waller clearly fits the bill. His versatility is something Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka can tap into to add a creative dimension to the offense and provide Daniel Jones with another dangerous weapon. On top of that, at 6-6, he'll pose a nice challenge for the defense during practice even without any contact allowed during the Spring. This dimension will expose Wink Martindale's unit to a unique player and prepare them for a position that showcases many "headache" players across the league.

Matt Citak: Fact – Waller was the team's biggest acquisition this off-season, both literally and figuratively. After catching 207 passes between the 2019-20 campaigns with the Raiders, Waller and the Giants are hoping the talented tight end can return to that form this season, and it starts this Spring. OTAs will be the first time that Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka can integrate their new, 6-foot-6 pass-catcher into the offense while on the practice field.

Darren Waller vs. Xavier McKinney will be the best 1-on-1 matchup in practice

John Schmeelk: Fiction – There's no guarantee Waller will be matched up often with McKinney. So let's go with Parris Campbell lining up against Darnay Holmes. With Wandale Robinson and Sterling Shepard still recovering from knee issues, Campbell could get most of the slot reps. let's see how far his route running ability has come and whether he can consistently separate from Holmes down the field and make plays beyond 15 yards.

Lance Medow: Fact – The acquisition of Waller doesn't just help the offense but the defense, as well, because players on that side of the ball will have to deal with a tight end who creates matchup problems on a weekly basis. McKinney can be used near the line of scrimmage and deep down the field, so observing how he handles Waller will definitely be a matchup to monitor. Let's also not forget McKinney missed the bulk of the second half of last season due to a hand injury so it will be good to see how far he's come in his recovery.

Matt Citak: Fiction – It will be more exciting to see the battles between the two starting offensive tackles and the two top edge rushers. Andrew Thomas made significant strides from Year 2 to 3, and the Giants are hoping Evan Neal can make a similar jump heading into his own second season. On the other side of the ball, Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari make up one of the league's more intriguing combinations of edge rushers. Watching these two OT-EDGE battles and seeing how each player has improved could go a long way in forecasting their success this upcoming year.

View photos from the Giants' offseason workout program at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

Three wide receivers will be drafted before the Giants pick at No. 25

John Schmeelk: Fact – There might be only one wide receiver gone in the first 15 picks, but it is more likely than not two more will go before the Giants make their pick at 25. The best guess says Ohio State's Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Boston College's Zay Flowers, and USC's Jordan Addison will not be available.

Lance Medow: Fiction – As a means of comparison, six wide receivers were selected in the first round of last year's draft before the 25th overall pick. Clearly, this year's class is different in terms of skillset and substance but it's fair to say we've seen many players at that position taken early in recent drafts make an immediate impact. It's more of a reason why teams won't hesitate to add receivers to their rosters. There could easily be three off the board by the time the Giants make their pick at 25 but, at this point, let's lean more toward two with Jaxson Smith-Njigba of Ohio State and Boston College's Zay Flowers as the likely candidates.

Matt Citak: Fiction – This year's wide receiver class is not as highly-touted as in previous drafts. Despite this notion, you can expect Ohio State's Jaxon Smith-Njigba to be taken well before the Giants are on the clock at No. 25. Boston College's Zay Flowers also has a good chance of going before No. 25, potentially somewhere in the Nos. 21-24 range as several of those teams could be looking to add one. But beyond those two, the Giants could have their choice of the rest of the wide receivers by the time they're on the clock. Although it wouldn't shock anyone to hear USC's Jordan Addison or TCU's Quentin Johnston names called before No. 25, let's go with both being on the board for the Giants' pick.

Four cornerbacks will be drafted before the Giants pick at No. 25

John Schmeelk: Fact – If Deonte Banks (possible), Joey Porter Jr. (unlikely), Christian Gonzalez or Devon Witherspoon (no way) are on the board when the Giants pick, it will be a pretty easy decision. Unfortunately, there are teams with cornerback needs throughout the draft, and it's doubtful any of these four will get to the Giants.

Lance Medow: Fact – There's a lot of substance and depth at the cornerback position in this year's class but it's also very top heavy and we'll likely see a run at that position prior to the 25th overall pick with Illinois' Devon Witherspoon, Christian Gonzalez of Oregon, Penn State's Joey Porter Jr. and Deonte Banks of Maryland as potential picks by then. Corner is considered one of the four core positions on a roster, especially if you can get your hands on a shutdown player – each of the four fall under this category.

Matt Citak: Fact – Despite hoping otherwise, at least four corners will likely be taken by the time the Giants are on the clock. Illinois' Devon Witherspoon, Oregon's Christian Gonzalez and Penn State's Joey Porter Jr. are rumored to be Top-20 picks. Then, you have guys such as Maryland's Deonte Banks and Mississippi State's Emmanuel Forbes, both of whom could get selected a few picks before the Giants.

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


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