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DraftNerds – New York Giants 2022 Mock Draft

What to do for Big Blue? @DanT_NFL takes us through a full seven round mock draft for the New York Giants.

Dynasty fantasy football is a year-round affair. A sharp manager will be thinking about all aspects of the dynasty season at all times. Managers who are keen enough to look ahead will be the ones that can grab themselves an edge. A large portion of the dynasty off-season will be spent discussing incoming rookies and the related topic, the NFL draft. It is easy for us to fall in love with the next workhorse running back or prototypical alpha wide receiver, but a manager that is in tune with the entire draft class as a whole will find themselves ahead of the game. Whether it is the next road-paving interior offensive lineman or genetic freak edge rusher, we can find ourselves at quite the advantage in April by building an entire picture of how the 2022 class will play out. Those that prepare ahead will not be often surprised at the outcomes.

The draft order used in this article reflects the order prior to NFL Wildcard Weekend. Credit to the mock draft simulation goes to The Draft Network. Team needs are also generated from this site. Compensatory picks have not been assigned and will not be included in this exercise.

The New York Giants enter the 2022 NFL draft with nine picks, four of which fall within the top 100. Two of those are even in the top ten. This has the potential to be a franchise-changing draft. Dave Gettleman recently retired, and the front office is currently searching for the next GM.

It’s an enticing job given the draft capital, cap space not so much. The cap space got so bad in 2021 that the team could not even afford a full 53 man roster in the final week of the season. The Giants may need an accountant just as bad as a GM. They enter the 2022 offseason with -$2.6 million in cap space. Yes, that is a negative number. This doesn’t even include the 15 million or so needed to sign this draft class. Of all 32 teams across the league, the Giants might find themselves in the most tenuous offseason. Read on to see how we can save Big Blue in 2022.

1.5 – Evan Neal, OT Alabama

Alabama Tackle Evan Neal | Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With the fifth overall pick in the 2022 draft, the New York Giants select Evan Neal. Neal is a 6’7” and 350-pound junior out of Alabama. Neal is a three-year starter and has played almost every position along the offensive line. He possesses the unique ability to play at either right or left tackle. This is extremely valuable to any NFL team that gets him as he may be moved based on roster construction or future talent acquisitions. 

The 2021 Giants offensive line can only be described with one word; poor. They were a bottom three unit in pass blocking and finished in the bottom ten for run blocking. They allowed 62 QB hits, which was the fifth-most in the league. Life for Daniel Jones or whoever was under center was not easy.

The hope is that the Giants can better evaluate what they have in Daniel Jones with an upgraded unit. They will most likely pick up his fifth-year option over the summer. With the direction this team is headed and a much stronger quarterback class in 2023; we may see the Giants selecting one in the top ten next draft season.

1.7 – George Karlaftis, EDGE Purdue

Two picks later, we see the Giants select Karlaftis. He is a 6’4” Edge Defender from Purdue University. Karlaftis will be 21 by the draft and was a three-year starter in college. He has been a first-team All-American in every one of his college seasons. Karlaftis is quite the technician at the edge position. He can win at the point of attack with many different moves. Can also get after the pass rusher from both two and three-point stances. Karlaftis is the complete package; he can win with pure pass rush power as there are many highlights of him putting lineman on their backs.

When a team is picking multiple times this high in the draft, team needs take a back seat to value. Inside the top ten is where blue-chip prospects, the best of the best, can be found. On top of that, edge rusher is one of the most valued positions in roster construction. With the Giants being in such a cap pickle, picking up cheap rookies at positions of importance will be very valuable. The rookie contracts will allow the cap to be allocated to other positions to build a 2022 53 man roster that falls under the salary cap.

2.36 – Ahmad Gardner, CB Cincinnati

Outside of quarterback, corner is arguably one of the most valuable positions on an NFL roster. We also rarely see top corners hitting the free-agent market while still in their twenties. Building a wide receiver group through free agency is always possible, not so much for the corner position. New York is fortunate that one of the top corners falls to them in the second round in this mock. 

Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is a 21-year-old junior out of the University of Cincinnati. He was the star player on one of the nation’s top defenses this year. Even helping the Bearcats become the first group of five team to make the college football playoff. Gardener is a lanky and athletic corner, two highly valued traits for his position. He excels in both man and zone coverages and is thus versatile enough for many NFL defensive schemes.

Gardner would join a Giants corner room that currently consists of Adoree’ Jackson and James Bradberry as the notable starters. Bradberry is entering the last year of his deal, and Jackson has an out next offseason. There is no better time than now to start reinvesting in the cornerback position. Jackson isPFF’ss seventh-highest corner in coverage grades this season. Gardner would not be relied on in year one as an every-down starter, which will help his development immensely. 

3.67 – Kingsley Enagbare, EDGE South Carolina

In the third round the Giants are able to grab Kingsley Enagbare, the edge defender from the University of South Carolina. Karlaftis is a top-three edge defender in this class, and adding opposite him will help this defense get after the quarterback. The 6’4” and 265-pound senior is winning at a 27.3% pass rush win rate and is a headache for opposing offensive lines. These two young edges would make a formidable duo for the entirety of their rookie deals.

Enagbare is an excellent athlete that lacks some polish in his pass-rush techniques. He must learn to use his leverage and positioning more efficiently to get after the quarterback. However, he does possess a decent toolbox of rush techniques, including spin moves and hand swims. He will do well to learn under a technical pass rusher such as Karlaftis and should find himself as a starter as early as year one of his career.

3.81 – Chad Muma, LB Wyoming

With their second pick in the third round, the New York Giants select Muma. Muma is a linebacker who measures 6’3” and 242 pounds out of Wyoming. As a linebacker, Muma excels in run defense and will find an immediate role in sub-packages for run stops. He will eventually become an every-down starter with a bit of polish in the NFL. Muma was the on-the-field leader for the Cowboys throughout the 2021 season and may subsequently use those leadership skills to become the “green-dot” of this Giants defense. With the proper coaching, Muma may be the steal of Day Two.

4.109 – Khalil Shakir, WR Boise State

Boise State Wide Receiver Khalil Shakir | Credit: Troy Babbitt/Wyoming Athletics

The Giants spend the first pick on the draft’s final day upgrading the offense. With the 109th overall pick, they select Shakir from Boise State. Shakir is a 6’0” and 190-pound senior who recently broke a thousand receiving yards for the Broncos. He operates primarily out of the slot and is top 25 in the nation in slot catches and slot yards. 

Khalil will be best operated running underneath routes over the middle of the field using his short-area quickness. This is a god send for any young quarterback who has limited time to throw. Hopefully, the offensive line additions are enough to give Daniel Jones some more time in 2022. If not, he will have a new safety net to dump off to. 

We already know that the new GM of the Giants will be beginning his tenure in the red when it comes to cap room. One potential cap-saving cut could be Sterling Shepard. If designated as a post-June 1st transaction, this front office could save 8.5 million against the cap by cutting or trading Shepard. By adding to the wide receiver room in this draft, moving on from Shepard may be an enticing option. 

5.145 – Bailey Zappe, QB Western Kentucky

Western Kentucky Quarterback Bailey Zappe | Credit: Grace Ramey/Daily News via AP

The Giants take a flier on a quarterback prospect in the fifth round. The pick here is WesternKentucky’ss Zappe. He is coming off an incredible year where he set FBS records in both passing yards with 5,940 and passing touchdowns with 62. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow set the touchdown record three years ago. Zappe started his career at Houston Baptist in 2017 and started every year before transferring to Western Kentucky for the 2021 season. He was able to take the Hilltoppers to a bowl victory and was named the Conference USA MVP. 

Zappe is a very nice prospect who has shown the ability to excel at the college level. He was able to do everything asked of him to run the Western Kentucky offense. He shows all of the “between the ear” traits that one would look for in a starting quarterback. Zappe can progress his reads and has the poise to perform under pressure. The shortcomings fall into the athletic category. The best term to describe Zappe’s arm may be limited. He does not have the arm strength to hit receivers on the opposite sideline. Most of his passes can be categorized as lobs. His excellence as a student of the game has been able to make up for these shortcomings so far, but that won’t be the case at the next level.

After three seasons, the jury is still out on Jones. In his defense, the supporting cast and support staff surrounding him have been shaky at best. The goal of this new front office should be to use this draft to place enough pieces around him that a decision can be made prior to the 2023 offseason. Zappe serves two purposes on this roster. He provides the option of a low-cost backup while also competing enough with Jones to give some motivation. Zappe should not be looked at as a long-term starting solution, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing if he were to break out. 

5.170 – Andrew Vorhees IOL USC

In the fifth round, the Giants pick up Andrew Vorhees from USC. Vorhees is a redshirt senior who split snaps at left tackle and left guard during the 2021 season. He measures 6’6″ and 320 pounds and projects best as a guard at the next level. According to PFF, Vorhees grades as an above-average lineman but may be limited by a lack of athleticism early on in his career. He will take some time to learn the position at the professional level but can provide offensive line depth from day one. The hope is that he will develop his game enough with some coaching to find himself as a starter a couple of years down the road. 

6.182 – Justyn Ross, WR Clemson

Justyn Ross of Clemson University | Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

To end this long draft class, the Giants take a gamble on a player coming off of some injury concerns. Ross is a 6’3” 205-pound redshirt senior from the University of Clemson. The main concern with Ross’s profile is the surgeries that he has already had in his young career. In 2020, he had surgery on his back to repair a congenital fusion and is currently undergoing foot surgery that will cause him to miss the rest of his 2021 season. All reports indicate that he will be ready to go for the Combine and the rest of the NFL draft process.

Ross broke out as an 18-year-old freshman, recording a thousand yards that season. He capped that season off with six receptions for 148 yards and two touchdowns in the national championship semi-final against Notre Dame. He followed that performance with six receptions for 153 yards and one touchdown in the National Championship game against Alabama. If he can recover and become the player we have seen, he will be a real difference-maker for the New York Giants. This team desperately needs to shed expensive contracts, and if Ross were to reach his potential, he and Toney would be a great cap-saving duo for the next three years.

Fantasy Impact and Analysis

There is quite a lot to process from a vast draft class. With nine picks, do not be surprised if the new GM of the Giants moves some draft capital into the 2023 class instead. Either way, this team should leave the 2022 draft in a much better position than they currently stand. There should be two goals of this draft. To give the front office the flexibility to move on from some more expensive contracts. Also, put enough of a supporting cast around Daniel Jones to make a final decision in the 2023 offseason. 

Protect the QB

Offensively, the Giants can add several vital pieces. Neal will be a day one starter that can secure one side of the offensive line. He will most likely replace Nate Solder on the right side while another top-five pick, Andrew Thomas, anchors the left. Hopefully, this will help Jones keep him upright and healthy for the entire 2022 season. In Superflex, we can look forward to relying on Jones as a solid QB2, given his rushing ability. You could not depend on him for that this past season given the time that he missed. Availability might be his best ability in 2022.

Solidify the WR Corps

The two wide receivers that the Giants added probably won’t make an immediate fantasy impact. Shakir will immediately take over that Shepard role if the team moves on this offseason. This could make him a WR3 option. Shepard averaged almost ten fantasy points per game in his limited time on the field this season. He is not a name that carries much hype around him and can most likely be had in the third round of rookie drafts this summer. Ross will fall into the late-round flier category as his draft stock has taken a serious hit with both injuries and the departure of Trevor Lawrence from Clemson. If you like what you have seen in college, he may be worth a pick in the last round of your rookie draft. He is the definition of a perfect taxi squad stash.

Push Daniel Jones

Zappe is the last name added to this Giants offense in the 2022 draft. He should be taken in the late third or fourth round of Superflex leagues. It never hurts to take a flier on a quarterback in those leagues. I am not saying he can emerge as the starter, but we have seen examples of this in the past. Kirk Cousins, Dak Prescott, and Russel Wilson were all quarterbacks selected in the later rounds that have found themselves as top 12 options at one point or another throughout their careers.

Put Edge in the Defense

The most impact on the field can be found on the defensive side of the ball for the Giants. The two edge rushers they added in this class should make an immediate impact. Also, pairing Gardner with the other talented corners on this defense will help. If these picks were to hit as expected, it would not be a surprise to see this defense elevated to a top 10 unit in the league. All of this would help keep the ball in the hands of Daniel Jones and the offense.

Things are bleak for Big Blue right now, but they have all the pieces needed to turn things around. Assuming they can hire the correct GM, Rick Spielman, please, they have the draft capital needed to make a difference. We probably won’t see this team compete in 2022, but the groundwork can be started this offseason for a 2023 or 2024 Giants team to make a playoff run. Something fans in the Big Apple have been waiting patiently for. Worst-case scenario, everyone still gets their free medium Pepsi every year.

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