The New York Giants have officially been eliminated from the 2018 NFC postseason and that means it’s never too early to start thinking about the 2019 NFL Draft.
Its only December, but the Giants will be facing another offseason promising to deliver major changes to a roster that kept just 17 players from 2017 under first-year general manager Dave Gettleman. The best place for the Giants to rebuild their roster will be, as always, via the draft. The vast majority of the NFL’s best teams in 2018 have recently hit big on draft picks and this is not a one-year process. During the 2018 NFL Draft, Gettleman landed what appears to be four big-time hits in Saquon Barkley (Round 1), Will Hernandez (Round 2), B.J. Hill (Round 3), and Grant Haley (undrafted). The jury is still out on Lorenzo Carter (Round 3), but he has also earned excellent grades for a rookie though he has not made as great of an impact as the other four.
The highest graded rookie cornerbacks so far this season. pic.twitter.com/wq5mTyfHvb
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 18, 2018
The Giants will need to hit on another draft class in 2019 if they want to follow a similar path to the recent turnaround made by the Chicago Bears. It is not quite yet mock draft season, but The Draft Network’s Jon Ledyard (one of the best draft analysts in the business) released his first two-round mock draft.
The looming decision for the Giants to stick with quarterback Eli Manning or release him (and likely draft his successor) remains a controversial debate that has split the fanbase. For those who want the Giants to retain Manning for the 2019 season and build around him, they will love Ledyard’s mock draft. Let’s jump right in.
Ledyard projects the Giants to receive the No. 9 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He projects they will not trade back and with the pick they will take the best offensive tackle in the entire draft class — Alabama’s Jonah Williams.
“I believe that protecting Eli Manning will be the top priority for the Giants this offseason, rather than selecting a quarterback in the draft,” Ledyard wrote. “Jonah Williams is the best offensive tackle in the draft, the only question will be how comfortable the Giants feel selecting him to play on the right side opposite Nate Solder. Given the fact that Williams started and excelled there as a true freshman at Alabama, the move seems like a natural one.”
Williams is one of the best offensive tackle prospects to enter the draft in several seasons. He could immediately slot in as a replacement for Chad Wheeler at right tackle and eventually take over as the left tackle once the Giants move on from Nate Solder (who is having an excellent debut season after a slow start). The Giants could also use Williams at right guard if they decide to move on from impending free agent Jamon Brown (the current starter) and/or sign a starting right tackle (looking at you Daryl Williams) in free agency.
It takes a lot for me to be blown away by an OL prospect, but Alabama OT Jonah Williams’ film does that. He’s a stud. pic.twitter.com/9xJMB4S2mb
— J Reid (@JReidNFL) June 14, 2018
In the second round, Ledyard has the Giants upgrading their secondary. Ledyard has the Giants using their second-round draft pick on Virginia safety Juan Thornhill. Although he does not provide a write-up for the pick, Ledyard broke down Thornhill as a draft prospect earlier this season and here is the overall takeaway from his scouting report:
“A three-year starter/four-year contributor, Thornhill’s experience is evident in the measured, high-IQ way he approaches the game,” Ledyard wrote. “He’s smart and disciplined, but at times his methodical style is too slow to make the kind of impact plays the top safety prospects in college football are making.
“Given that he is new to the position, if Thornhill had great athletic traits I might get on board with believing in his upside, but I think he’ll be limited in any coverage role he sees in the NFL, while not bringing enough physicality or instincts to thrive around the box. He’s a capable starter at the next level, but I’m not sure the playmaking ability is there to be a particularly desirable prospect in the upcoming class.”
Bad idea testing @BryceHall11 & @Juan_Thornhill. Terrific job by Hall to turn and run while using his length and strength to pin the route to the sideline & leverage the route. Thornhill takes a perfect angle, finds the ball & secures the INT. These dudes suffocated that route. pic.twitter.com/iXhqQ7Grkw
— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) November 11, 2018
The Giants could definitely use a safety to pair next to Landon Collins.
Virginia S Juan Thornhill flipped over from CB this year and has played well. Sound with run fills and processing but ball production has been lacking. That changed against Miami yesterday. Here’s his 1st of 2 picks. PS – Ref gotta tackle better than that. pic.twitter.com/S4midBl7z0
— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) October 14, 2018
The draft is still months away, but it’s important for the Giants to shift their focus now with the 2018 postseason out of reach.