The New York Giants hold the fifth and seventh overall selections in the 2022 NFL draft and have a chance to lay some serious groundwork on their roster rebuilding effort.
On Tuesday, ESPN’s original draftnik, Mel Kiper Jr., provided his most recent take on how the Giants can do that in next month’s draft.
Round 1, Pick 5: Evan Neal, offensive tackle, Alabama
The Giants, the other team with two top-10 picks [Kiper is referring to the New York Jets here], haven’t been as active in free agency as new general manager Joe Schoen gets the team back into decent salary-cap shape. That doesn’t mean they don’t have needs, though, particularly at edge rusher and offensive tackle. With the way the board has fallen in this projection, they can get Day 1 starters at both spots.
Neal is a massive tackle who can overpower defenders in the run game and move his feet as a pass-protector. Andrew Thomas, the No. 4 pick in the 2020 draft, looked much better in Year 2 and could stay at left tackle, pushing Neal to the right side. Neal also played some guard at Alabama, and he could be great there too. This is a big season for quarterback Daniel Jones, so the Giants have to keep him upright.
A no-brainer. The Giants’ offensive line has been the poster child of all of their failures the past decade and Neal should be at the top of their wish list. If he falls to them at No. 5, they should thank the football gods and race up the podium with the card.
Not only can Neal cone right in and start, he just might displace Andrew Thomas at left tackle, which would move Thomas to the right side, making the line better in both spots.
Round 1, Pick 7: Kayvon Tibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon (via Chicago Bears)
This pick is logical for the team and for the prospect. The Giants’ top pass-rusher last season was rookie Azeez Ojulari, who led the team with eight sacks, and they have to improve on the edge. This is their best chance to add a young, talented defensive end. They can afford to use this pick on Thibodeaux, who has a high ceiling but was inconsistent in 2021.
If Thibodeaux puts it all together, you’re talking about All-Pro-level talent. But if he doesn’t build out secondary moves and can’t improve his all-around game, he could struggle. He has the type of physical traits NFL teams love, but taking that guy in the top 10 is risky. If New York passes on Thibodeaux, keep an eye on cornerback or linebacker with this pick.
It’s unlikely Thibodeaux falls down to No. 7. If I’m the Giants, I consider that a gift as he is a boom-or-bust prospect and it takes the decisions out of their hands.
Thibodeaux may or may not be an every down player at the pro level, and a high pick such as this needs to be on the field a lot, not a specialist. During the combine, the Giants reportedly grilled Thibodeaux pretty good which means they had doubts about his maturity and ability to handle the media. Thibodeaux handled things well (according to him) but the Giants may not have bought in.