Giants' Team Needs to Fill in 2021 NFL Draft

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2021

Giants' Team Needs to Fill in 2021 NFL Draft

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The 2021 NFL draft is scheduled to kick off on April 29. This means that the New York Giants have one month to prepare their draft board and determine their biggest needs.

    Presumably, the Giants won't be targeting a quarterback in this year's signal-caller-rich draft. While third-year-man Daniel Jones hasn't quite established himself as a high-end starter, the Giants still believe that he can be one.

    "I can say that without hesitation," Giants owner John Mara told reporters when asked if Jones could win a Super Bowl, per Ian O'Connor of the New York Post.

    So, if the Giants are set, for now, at quarterback, where do their biggest draft needs lie? Let's take a look.

Offensive Line

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    New York's biggest needs are along the offensive line. While the team did restructure the contract of tackle Nate Solder and add guard Zach Fulton, it also lost a quality starting guard in Kevin Zeitler.

    Zeitler was released for cap-saving purposes and went on to sign with the Baltimore Ravens.

    More importantly, though, the Giants' line was a major liability in 2020. Jones was sacked 45 times in 14 games, while the line surrendered 50 sacks in all. New York is going to have a difficult time finding out if Jones can indeed win a Super Bowl if it cannot keep him off the turf.

    While the Giants may not have a crack at top tackle prospect Penei Sewell of Oregon at No. 11, they should still have options. Adding another premier tackle prospect like Northwestern's Rashawn Slater or a guard like USC's Alijah Vera-Tucker should top the list.

    New York might have been a strong candidate for a wide receiver with its first-round pick, but the free-agent addition of Kenny Golladay should have the Giants leaning toward O-line or defense with the initial selection.


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    Patrick Surtain II
    Patrick Surtain IIRon Jenkins/Associated Press

    If New York targets a defender with its first-round selection, cornerback may be the way to go. The draft class is less impressive along the defensive front, but there are some quality pass-defenders near the top. Alabama's Patrick Surtain II and Virginia Tech's Caleb Farley should both be early Round 1 selections.

    While defense was New York's strength in 2020—it ranked 12th overall and eighth in points allowed—the Giants could use an influx of cornerback talent. They ranked a modest 16th in passing yards allowed.

    Turning a team strength into an elite unit would be one way to push the Giants toward playoff contention.

    While New York did sign cornerback Adoree Jackson in free agency, that's not the sort of move that is going to transform a defense. Jackson only played in three games last season and struggled in coverage, allowing an opposing quarterback rating of 145.8, per Pro Football Reference.

    It shouldn't be a surprise to see the Giants pull the trigger on a corner in Round 1.


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    Azeez Ojulari
    Azeez OjulariBrynn Anderson/Associated Press

    When it comes to pass-rushers, there is no sure thing in this draft class. Therefore, the Giants may be better off waiting until Day 2 to target an edge-defender. However, prospects like Georgia's Azeez Ojulari and Florida State's Joshua Kaindoh could be fine additions to their defense.

    Despite getting a breakout year from defensive lineman Leonard Williams in 2020, the Giants produced just 40 sacks as a team. That's a solid number, but Williams was responsible for 11.5 of those sacks. No other player had more than four.

    Generating additional pressure off the edge would go a long way toward helping New York's defense become an elite unit.

    While the Giants did add defensive ends Ryan Anderson and Ifeadi Odenigbo in free agency, additional depth at the position would be beneficial.

Defensive Tackle

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    Marvin Wilson
    Marvin WilsonMatthew Hinton/Associated Press

    Again, defensive tackle is not a position that is considered particularly strong in this draft class. Therefore, it's probably not an option for the first round. However, the Giants could use additional depth at defensive tackle after losing Dalvin Tomlinson in free agency.

    Tomlinson was largely overshadowed by Williams but was a key contributor to New York's defensive success. In 2020, he amassed 49 tackles, eight tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and four passes defended.

    While New York may not be able to replace Tomlinson outright with a single draft pick, it could forge a rotation that helps negate his departure.

    Prospects like Florida State's Marvin Wilson and UCLA's Osa Odighizuwa could be considered on Day 2. It would behoove the Giants to address their offensive line and secondary fist, but it would be smart to add some depth along the defensive front before the draft's later stages.