Giants general manager Joe Schoen has to get through free agency before he knows exactly what he’ll do in the 2023 NFL Draft.
But it’s never too early to speculate about what Schoen might do in his second draft on the job, as he tries to bolster coach Brian Daboll’s roster for a deeper playoff run.
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With that in mind, here’s our initial Giants seven-round mock draft projection.
To make things more realistic, we used FanSpeak.com’s mock draft simulator to make the non-Giants picks — so we’d have a reasonable idea of which prospects might be available for Schoen at each of his draft slots.
Round 1 (25th overall): WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
The Giants draft at No. 25, not No. 26, because the Dolphins forfeited their first-round pick, due to tampering violations involving Tom Brady and Sean Payton. And with this pick, Schoen gets help at a position that badly needs it.
Smith-Njigba is one of the top receivers in this draft, though a hamstring injury limited him to just three games in 2022. In 2021, he had 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns. In this mock draft, he is the third receiver taken, after USC’s Jordan Addison and TCU’s Quentin Johnston.
Round 2 (57th overall): C John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota
He impressed at the Senior Bowl and could finally be quarterback Daniel Jones’ long-term answer at center. The Giants desperately need stability there. In Jones’ first four seasons, he had four starting centers, for various reasons: Jon Halapio, Nick Gates, Billy Price, and Jon Feliciano, a pending free agent who is about to turn 31.
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Round 3 (89th overall): RB Sean Tucker, Syracuse
In this scenario, Schoen lets Saquon Barkley walk in free agency. Drafting a running back high in the first round — as Dave Gettleman did with Barkley — is generally foolish. Schoen hopes to get good value here with Tucker, who ran for 1,060 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2022 and 1,496 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2021.
Round 3 (100th overall, from Chiefs): ILB DeMarvion Overshown, Texas
The first of two picks the Giants got from the Kadarius Toney trade. It’s a compensatory pick, at the end of Round 3. Overshown — who has a terrific name — is a converted safety who will bring versatility to the Giants’ defense. He has the athleticism and speed to blitz and cover. And the Giants badly need answers at inside linebacker.
Round 4 (128th overall): CB Riley Moss, Iowa
This might be too low for him, after he excelled at the Senior Bowl. Moss is 6-foot-1 and 194 pounds, so he has the size and physicality to play outside cornerback. Speed, though, is a question mark for him. The Giants need a No. 2 outside corner to start opposite Adoree’ Jackson. And even if Moss isn’t that guy from Day 1, he has a chance to provide legit depth.
Round 5 (162nd overall): Edge rusher Habakkuk Baldonado, Pittsburgh
Now we’re getting into the depth areas of the Giants’ draft haul. Which is fine, because they certainly need plenty of depth, in addition to new starters at a few key spots. The Giants need more young depth at edge rusher, even though they’re set at the starting positions, with Azeez Ojulari and Kayvon Thibodeaux. Baldonado is an intriguing, raw prospect who grew up in Rome (yes, Italy) and didn’t play American football until he was 16. Likely a special teams player initially.
Round 6 (208th overall, from Chiefs): S Jalen Graham, Purdue
The other pick from the Toney trade. And another versatile piece for the Giants’ defense, since Graham seems like he can play linebacker or safety. Wink Martindale — presuming he’s back as the Giants’ defensive coordinator — absolutely loves versatility.
Round 6 (218th overall): OG McClendon Curtis, Chattanooga
This is the Giants’ own comp pick. They got it for losing outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter to the Falcons in free agency. (Really, they let him walk, after he underwhelmed.) And Schoen uses this pick — at least here in our projection — to get some much-needed depth on the offensive line. Curtis is a project player from a smaller school — the type of guy you pick in Round 6.
Round 7 (242nd overall, from Ravens): CB Darius Rush, South Carolina
Part of the Ben Bredeson trade from 2021. The Giants got Bredeson (a left guard), this pick, and a 2022 fifth-round pick, while sending a 2022 fourth-rounder to Baltimore.
If you’re wondering, the Giants have (so far) traded away just one pick in this draft — their own sixth-rounder, to Houston. That was the only part of the 2021 trade for cornerback Keion Crossen, who — unlike Bredeson — spent just one season with the Giants, before leaving in free agency.
Anyway, more secondary depth for Schoen with this pick. Rush performed well at the Senior Bowl. He is a converted wide receiver, and knowledge of that position should help him at corner in the NFL.
Round 7 (245th overall): OT Trevor Reid, Louisville
This is the Giants’ own original seventh-round pick. Not a comp pick. And Schoen opts for some offensive tackle depth, behind Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal.
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Round 7 (255th overall): WR Keytaon Thompson, Virginia
The Giants’ final pick (as of right now) is the comp pick they got for Crossen leaving in free agency and signing with the Dolphins. Schoen goes with a converted quarterback who has intriguing size (6-foot-4 and 217 pounds). As a receiver at Virginia, Thompson had 973 yards and two touchdowns in 2021 and 579 yards and zero touchdowns in 2022. He showcased a ton of versatility in Virginia’s offense, so he can line up all over the formation.
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Darryl Slater may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.