Who are the New York Giants drafting with the second pick?
It’s the No. 1 question I get asked these days. No wonder, the 2018 NFL draft is 10 days away. Finally!
Giants fans have been talking about it since Week 5 of last season. It’s their biggest moment since the playoff game in Green Bay 15 months ago.
I’ve heard and processed a lot of information over the past few weeks. This is my best guess at how the top seven picks unfold next Thursday night.
1. Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Not buying the Josh Allen talk. Won’t believe it until I see it. As one source said: “Not a good player” right now, would be unprecedented for a player who has accomplished so little at all levels to go No. 1 overall. Darnold is 20 years old with a more impressive resume. If Darnold is available at No. 2, it changes the equation for the Giants. I would expect him to be their pick if the Browns elect to go elsewhere.
Scouts/coaches on Darnold: “He has the makeup that you like.” “Better football player than quarterback.” “If you’re willing to wait a year or two, there is some magic in him.” “All upside with him.”
2. Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
It’s hard to imagine Barkley won’t be No. 1 on the Giants’ board. He’s that good a player, and the Giants are crazy about him. Barkley was expected to be the top player on the board for the two other teams I checked with last week. Unless general manager Dave Gettleman gets an offer he can’t turn down, the Giants take their “gold jacket” guy in this scenario.
Scouts/coaches on Barkley: “He’s legit.” “Better prospect than Zeke and Fournette.” “You’re talking about a 230-pound dude who runs sub-4.4 that has balance and run skills. It’s rare.”
3. Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
The same person who told me the Jets would take Christian Hackenberg two years ago told me Mayfield to the Jets weeks ago. Who am I to argue? We all know the Jets are taking a quarterback. Mayfield’s personality and past may fit with the Jets. It doesn’t with the Giants and their ownership group.
Scouts/coaches on Mayfield: “The guy kicked a** at the highest level.” “He’s confident, tough, poised and a leader.” “Mayfield vs. Allen is a guy who has done everything vs. a guy who has done nothing.”
4. Browns: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
Cleveland already has its quarterback. They just select the best player on the board at this point. It’s Chubb. He’s an option for the Giants at No. 2, but my belief is the Giants view Barkley as the better prospect, despite playing a non-cornerstone position.
Scouts/coaches on Chubb: “He’s solid. Does it all well.” “He’s best as a coming forward/down guy.” “Big, long talented pass rusher. I liked the kid.”
5. Broncos: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Evaluators are all over the board on Allen. Coaches seem to love him, including some inside the Giants’ building. Personnel guys, not so much. With his arm and talent, Allen has a chance to be special. He’s also a major risk, with his lack of production and questionable accuracy, which is a problem for some but not for others. Broncos president John Elway gets mesmerized by the potential.
Scouts/coaches on Allen: “Comparable at the high end is John Elway.” “Huge upside.” “Can be special.” “Great-looking athlete.” “You’ll need to sit him for at least two years.” “Not a good player.”
6. Colts: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
The draft’s best offensive lineman by a mile to protect Andrew Luck is too good for the Colts to pass up. If the Giants move down, this is likely their target. In this scenario, he goes to Indianapolis, which — believe it or not — could possibly need offensive line help more than the Giants.
Scouts/coaches on Nelson: “He’s relentless.” “Does everything well.” “Generational player.”
7. Cardinals (trade): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Someone has to come get Rosen. There is a decent chance it happens at No. 2 with the Buffalo Bills also in hot pursuit. This is Rosen’s draft floor. He’s my wild card for the Giants if Darnold goes No. 1 overall.
Scouts/coaches on Rosen: “Knows how to play.” “Most ready.” “He sounds to me like [Aaron Rodgers] coming out. A lot of people thought he was immature, had a big ego. Give me that guy. That is the guy I want.” “Not very good at all vs. pressure.” “Lack of mobility, slight build is a problem. So were the lack of wins [at UCLA].”