With Free Agency slowing to a crawl, all eyes are now trained on the draft pundits and the class of 2021 potential draftees. For the first time in a long time, the “draft experts” vary widely in their guesses on who the New York Football Giants select with the 11th pick in the draft.

The 2021 NFL Draft is less than three weeks away, and teams are putting the final touches on their draft boards. There was no combine this year for teams to evaluate all the talent by position together and conduct interviews. Instead, there has been a heavy emphasis on College “Pro Days” to gain eyes-on prospective draft picks. Head Coach Joe Judge went to the Penn State (PSU) and the University of Miami pro days to witness draft prospects. If you place any weight on where the head coach devoted his time, this could mean the Giants go defense with the #11 pick.

Adding to the Penn State visit, the Giants hired former PSU Assistant Coach Sean Spencer last year as the defensive line coach. He has at least two years of experience with LB Micah Parsons, OLB/Edge Jayson Oweh, TE Pat Freiermuth, and up-and-coming DE Shaka Toney. Parsons is a Top 10 Draft talent per most sources which may put him in the picture for the Giants at #11.

Looking at Miami (The U), there are two potential high draft picks in Edge Gregory Rousseau and Edge Jaelan Phillips. Both are ranked in the top 25 overall in this year’s draft class. Rousseau opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 which opened the door for Phillips to excel as his replacement. But Phillips also has a concussion history which caused him to quit football for a year.

Overall, here’s how the draft pundits currently predict the Giants’ selection in the first round:

  • ESPN’s Mel Kiper predicts the Giants select Kwity Paye, Edge from Michigan
  • ESPN’s Todd McShay predicts the Giants select Jeremiah Owusu-Karamoah, ILB from Notre Dame
  • NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah predicts the Giants select DeVonta Smith, WR from Alabama (Heisman Trophy Winner)
  • CBS Sports Cody Benjamin predicts the Giants select Micah Parsons, ILB from Penn State
  • NFL Network’s Peter Schrager predicts the Giants select Micah Parsons, ILB from Penn State
  • NBC Sports predicts the Giants select WR Jaylen Waddle from Alabama
  • Pro Football Network predicts the Giants select WR Jaylen Waddle from Alabama
  • The Draft Network’s Kyle Crabbs predicts the Giants select WR Jaylen Waddle from Alabama
  • ESPN Analyst (and former NY Jets GM) Mike Tannenbaum predicts the Giants select OLB Azeez Ojulari from Georgia

As you can see, the only two players getting multiple backings are Parsons and Waddle. Both Alabama WRs (Smith and Waddle) forecast to be top receivers in the NFL. Do the Giants add to their suddenly full WR room (Shepard, Slayton, Golladay, Pettis, Ross, Mack, etc.) by taking a top receiver in the draft? Waddle is said to be a game-breaking WR of the same ilk as Tyreek Hill. That’s huge company to keep. If he’s still on the board at #11, the Giants must grab him. Smith may not last past the Miami Dolphins at #6. If it’s not an Alabama WR, then it looks like the defense is the way to go.

When you look at this list, you can also see the Giants’ coaching staff influence with ties to Alabama, Penn State, and Georgia. There’s always the potential for the Giants to add to their “Hogmollies” early in the 2021 draft. If T Penei Sewell from Oregon is still on the board, he could make the Giants shift to offense quickly.

The Giants can go in many directions now after a very active free agency period. It’s a nice luxury to be able to be so flexible in the selection of best player vs. position of need.

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