First round draft targets for the Giants, Jets, and Eagles
When the confetti fell and the clock struck double zero in Super Bowl 54 in Miami almost two weeks ago, it officially became the NFL Draft season for all 32 teams. With none of the local teams making a deep run in the playoffs this past season, they could all look for impact players on both sides of the ball to take the next step to potentially playing this time next season down in Tampa for Super Bowl 55. Here’s a look at a few prospects that could significantly help make these teams’ dreams a reality.
New York Giants: 4th overall pick
Option 1: OT Jedrick Wills Jr. Alabama
When you draft a quarterback sixth overall, as the Giants did a year ago with Daniel Jones, you’re going to want to keep him upright and healthy at all costs. With left tackle Nate Solder struggling mightily for the second straight season in New York and right tackle Mike Remmers only brought in as a temporary replacement last season, they need to drastically improve both tackle spots.
Insert Jedrick Wills Jr. Wills, a two-year starter at Alabama, dominated opponents across the SEC (Southeastern Conference) landscape for two seasons. Despite playing at right tackle due to teammate and fellow draft member QB Tua Tagovailoa being left-handed, many scouts and members of the media believe Wills will be able to play either tackle spot at the next level. Slotting Wills on either side of fellow linemen Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler would go along way in not only protecting Jones but also opening more running lanes for superstar running back Saquon Barkley.
Option 2: LB/S Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
When you need a guy who can do it all defense like the Giants do desperately, look no further then Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons. Just throw on tape from the National Championship game against LSU and you’ll see how valuable a player like Simmons is. He dominated the LSU offensive line in the first half until he eventually started getting double and even at times triple-teamed in the second half. He was a force to be reckoned with all season long, recording 104 tackles, seven sacks, three interceptions, and eight passes defended. Simmons was simply all over the field. In fact, according to PFF Draft, Simmons played 100+ snaps at five different positions (299 at inside linebacker, 262 at slot cornerback, 132 at free safety, 116 at outside linebacker, and 100 at strong safety) at Clemson.
If the Giants decided to select Simmons with the fourth pick, it would be the first time in 36 years(!) the G-Men would select a linebacker in the first round when they selected Carl Banks third overall in 1984. Even though the Giants are expected to be big spenders especially on the defensive side of the ball this off-season, bringing in Simmons would be exponentially beneficial to a linebacking core that’s been depleted and overlooked for too long.
New York Jets: 11th overall pick
Option 1: WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
When you look at the Jets roster, they have multiple playmakers on the defensive side of the ball with the likes of Quinnen Williams, CJ Mosley, and Jamal Adams. Besides running back Le’Veon Bell, the Jets have no real weapon or threat on offense. The receiving core is currently depleted as two of its top four receiving options from last season are free agents in Robby Anderson and Demaryius Thomas. Regardless if they re-sign either or both of them, Gang Green still needs to get younger and faster at the position.
Insert University of Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb and he’ll solve these issues. Over the past two seasons, Lamb has posted 60+ catches, 1,100+ receiving yards, and double-digit touchdowns. Even though Lamb played in a very offensive-minded Big XII conference, he showed up in big games. Against top 25 ranked teams, Lamb posted 26 catches for 499 yards and three touchdowns, including 10 catches for 171 yards and three touchdowns against then number 11 ranked University of Texas. If the Jets wanted to give Darnold number one receiver and a legit down the field threat, they should have no hesitation selecting Lamb if he’s available with the 11th pick.
Option 2: OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia
Similar to the Giants, if the Jets want to have any type of success next season and beyond, they’ll have to look at upgrading their offensive line sooner rather than later. According to NFL.com, the Jets offensive line allowed the fourth-most sacks last season with 52 and allowed 106 quarterback hits, tied for fifth-most in the NFL. With left tackle Kelvin Beachum turning 31 before next season starts and Brandon Shell not the long term answer at right tackle, the Jets desperately need to address the position.
Enter Andrew Thomas, a three-year starter at the University of Georgia. After starting at right tackle early in his tenure in Athens, Thomas seamlessly transitioned once fellow Bulldog and current New England Patriots left tackle Isaiah Wynn declared for the NFL in 2018. Thomas won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, which is given to the best blocker in the SEC, and was also named to the All-SEC First Team in 2019. Drafting Thomas will not only be the main building block of the Jets offensive line but will also play a pivotal role in the health, longevity, and success of quarterback Sam Darnold.
Philadelphia Eagles: 21st overall pick
Option 1: WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
One of the more popular picks in mock drafts across the internet is the Eagles taking Ruggs, and for good reason. Philly seemed set at the position heading into 2019 with Alshon Jeffery, Desean Jackson, and Nelson Agholor at quarterback Carson Wentz’s disposable. By season’s end, the Eagles number one wide receiver ended up being Greg Ward Jr, an undrafted free agent who also played in the now-disbanded Alliance of American Football League (AAF) in 2018. With Agholor a free agent and Jeffery and Jackson both set to turn 30 before next season and riddled with histories of injuries, it’s time for a new chapter in Philadelphia.
Enter Ruggs, a speedster known for creating separation and winning on deep routes. Ruggs has already drawn comparisons to Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill and 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel in how effective he can be on just one play whether it be a deep ball or an end around. He’s the definition of a big play waiting to happen. While he doesn’t have to be a true number one receiver right away with the presence of Jeffery and Jackson still in the offense, he’s shown at Alabama he can step up and be that guy if either of those two ended up going down with an injury. Even if Ruggs is unavailable, don’t be surprised if they select another receiver like Clemson’s Tee Higgins or Colorado’s Laviska Shenault with the 21st pick.
Option 2: CB C.J. Henderson, Florida
If there’s a run on wide receivers before the 21st selection, the Philly fanatics will be screaming for the team to address the secondary, especially at the cornerback position. Too many times in recent years have Philadelphia corners been burned by their opponents’ number one receivers because they haven’t had an answer. If the Eagles want a long-term solution, they’ll go ahead and select C.J. Henderson.
Henderson, a three-year starter at the University of Florida, is one of the top-rated corners in this year’s draft class and would drastically help a unit lacking top-end talent. Henderson recorded 93 tackles, six interceptions, eight sacks, and 20 pass break-ups in his three seasons as a Gator. While he might not be on the same level as fellow cornerback Jeff Okudah from Ohio State, Henderson is still no doubt a quality pick-up for a secondary lacking that true shutdown guy. Even if the Eagles decide to address the position in free agency, don’t be surprised if they decide to still add Henderson or another quality corner come late April.
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