Giants Leaning Toward Edge Rusher In Round 1?

Having needed an edge rusher for a few years now, the Giants may be set to address this need with their top offseason resource.

They have done a lot of work on the top edge defenders in this year’s draft, and sources informed SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano the current sense is this will be the direction the team takes with its No. 11 overall pick. The Giants have spent big to fill needs at wide receiver and cornerback, in adding Kenny Golladay and Adoree’ Jackson, but have lacked a long-term, starter-caliber edge rusher since trading Olivier Vernon in 2019.

The Giants could be faced with a major decision — not exactly uncommon for them in recent drafts — if Alabama wide receiver prospects DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle remain on the board. Five quarterbacks may well go in the top 10, pushing down this offense-heavy draft’s top non-QB talents. The Giants have Golladay, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton penciled in as their top three receivers, but it should not be considered a lock the team would pass on potential value here in one of the ex-Crimson Tide stars.

New York is believed to be high on Michigan’s Kwity Paye and Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari, Vacchiano adds. The former ranks as Scouts Inc.’s top draft’s top pass-rushing prospect. With Ojulari ranked outside the top 20 overall, it may be difficult to envision the Giants going in that direction over a higher-value player at 11. Mel Kiper Jr.’s most recent mock has the Giants taking Waddle. A trade-down maneuver seems unlikely, given that GM Dave Gettleman‘s streak of never trading down has now lasted eight drafts — five in Carolina, three with New York.

Should the Giants stay at 11, they are also high on Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater, per Vacchiano. The Giants went tackle at No. 4 overall last year and used a third-round pick on tackle Matt Peart. Nate Solder is also in line to return.

The Giants pursued Leonard Floyd, but he re-signed with the Rams. They passed on the rest of the 2020 pass rusher lot, which was rather crowded for the big-ticket position, and only kept Markus Golden via the rarely used UFA tender last year. The Giants waited until Round 7 to draft a pass rusher in 2020 and have since traded Golden and let 2020 signing Kyler Fackrell sign with the Chargers.

Gettleman passed on edge talent Josh Allen in 2019, drafting Daniel Jones instead and lost out on Chase Young thanks to a late-season win over Washington in 2019. The Giants’ need at outside linebacker has persisted, though the emergence of Leonard Williams as a sack artist may lessen the desperation at this spot to some degree.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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