Giants three-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft 3.0: Which game-breaking receiver will it be at No. 11?

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Ralph Vacchiano
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DeVonta Smith/Ja'Marr Chase/Jaylen Waddle
DeVonta Smith/Ja'Marr Chase/Jaylen Waddle

In a normal year, the NFL scouting combine would be wrapping up this week and the top of the draft would be coming into a sharper focus. Instead, with no combine, the NFL world awaits a series of college Pro Days, most of which take place in March.

There’s still enough information available, though, to make some good early guesses about a draft that is still eight weeks away. So here’s my three-round mock for the Giants, version 3.0...

First round (11th overall) – Alabama WR DeVonta Smith

This will be a theme for the next eight weeks, but it’s really hard to envision the Giants not picking an offensive weapon here. The need is just enormous, and it’s not one they’re likely to fill in free agency. And, for those who believe in the “best player available” myth, there are likely to be three receivers and a tight end all considered worthy of being picked this high, so it still works.

The trick is figuring out which one or ones will be available, and at the moment it feels most likely that one of Alabama’s dynamic duo will still be around. This week I’ve left the Heisman Trophy winner for the Giants to select.

Why would the best receiver in college football, coming off a ridiculous, 117-catch, 1,856-yard, 23-touchdown season, possibly be the third receiver off the board? Well, there are some concerns about his slight build. He’s 6-1, but only 175 pounds. He’s also a tick slower than Jaylen Waddle (and by that, it’s really the difference between running a 4.3 and something in the 4.4s).

It also doesn’t help his cause that his class is loaded with LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase returning to the scene after opting out in 2020 and the presence of Florida’s dynamic tight end Kyle Pitts, whom some view as a receiver, too.

There are two months to set the order of Chase, Waddle, Pitts and Smith, but how could the Giants pass on any of them? Their offense was anemic and their receiving corps has nobody explosive, no one who could turn a short catch into a big gain. Yes, they could use help on the offensive line or an edge rusher or cornerback, but they could survive without those.

Taking a dynamic weapon here is too obvious. Their needs match up perfectly with this draft.

(Previous picks: Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle, Miami DE/LB Gregory Rousseau)

Second round (42nd overall) – Georgia LB Azeez Ojulari

Edge rusher is an interesting spot for the Giants because at the same time they have a lot and they have none. They do still have Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines on the roster and coming back from injuries, and the Giants have high hopes for both of them. And don’t forget they got some pass-rush production from a trio of rookie linebackers – Tae Crowder, Carter Coughlin, Cam Brown – in limited roles last year.

Maybe that’s enough with a dominant defensive line in front of them (assuming the Giants find a way to bring back Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson). But it’s still not a group that inspires a ton of confidence that they can consistently get to the quarterback. Plus, with Carter heading into the last year of his contract while trying to come back from a ruptured Achilles, adding another isn’t the worst idea.

The 6-3, 240-pound Ojulari is an interesting prospect. He had 9 ½ sacks last season and there are some who believe he has the talent and potential to land in the first round. But he’s generally not talked about as one of the top rushers in what is a generally weak class. That’s because some say he’s a little too small and needs some time to refine his game.

The Giants could give him that time by adding him to a rotation that’s deep in potential, penciling him in for a bigger role in future years.

(Previous picks: Tulsa LB Zaven Collins, LSU WR Terrace Marshall)

Third round (76th overall) – Georgia CB Eric Stokes

The Giants had one of the best corners in the NFL last season in James Bradberry, but it was a complete hodgepodge of players on the other side of the field. They could get by with that again, especially if they keep their defensive line intact, but why would they want to?

They do like Darnay Holmes, who played reasonably well as a rookie last year, but he still projects to be more of a slot corner in the NFL. The Giants could use someone with more size on the outside and the 6-1, 185-pound Stokes could be a good fit. He might not last this long, especially if he runs better than a 4.5 at his Pro Day. Some believe he has the skills to be a second-rounder.

But if the Giants get lucky and he’s still here, he’d be hard to pass up, especially considering they’re still trying to make up for their 2019 supplemental draft, third-round mistake on cornerback Sam Beal.

(Previous picks: Notre Dame OT Liam Eichenberg, Stanford OT Walker Little)