New York is Suddenly NFL Draft City Again

For decades, they held the NFL Draft here in New York City.  From 1965 through 2014, NFL heavyweights, fans and the media converged on the Big Apple to witness the rite of passage that serves as the first step in the indoctrination of the latest amateur class of football players into professionals.

The event roamed from ballroom to ballroom of some of the city’s most popular hotels before exploding into an event that needed a bigger venue, such as Radio City Music Hall. In 2015, the NFL decided to spread the wealth and began to move the draft to other cities.

First, Chicago had two shots, then Philadelphia last year. Both cities embraced the event with a fervor. This April, the draft moves to Dallas’ AT&T Stadium, one of the biggest venues in North America.

But the NFL Draft never can seem to get New York out of its system for long. The top of the 2018 NFL Draft has suddenly come under control of three teams: The ever-present Cleveland Browns and the two New York franchises – the Giants and Jets.

The Browns hold the first and fourth selections while the Giants and Jets are scheduled to select second and third. The Giants are slotted No. 2 thanks to their 3-13 implosion last year while the Jets, originally in the No. 6 spot, traded up to No. 3 by sending their first rounder and three second-round selections to the Indianapolis Colts.

The move puts the New York teams in prime position to take one of the four stud quarterbacks in this draft: USC’s Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen of UCLA, Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma and Wyoming’s Josh Allen.

The Jets are desperate need of a franchise quarterback and GM Mike Maccagnan, who has spent several seasons now searching for one, decided to go for the gold. This will go down as his signature move as he pushes all his chips into the middle of the table. The Giants still have Eli Manning and drafted his supposed heir apparent, Cal’s Davis Webb, in last year’s draft.

But before the locals can put their stamp on the draft, the unpredictable Browns get to open things up. They have been wheeling and dealing this offseason at a breakneck pace. They are also hard up for a franchise quarterback. Their trade with Buffalo for Tyrod Taylor is not considered to have altered their plans. New GM John Dorsey, formerly of Kansas City, won’t wait until No. 4 to take one, so that lives the Jets’ fate in the Giants’ hands.

That is, if the Giants intend to take a quarterback. At the moment, they are still mulling it over. No one has seen Webb play in a live game and Manning, although healthy, is going to be 37 this year and has just two seasons remaining on his contract. GM Dave Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur have already told us that Manning will be under center this season, but beyond that the Giants have as many questions as the Browns and Jets.

The Browns are said to be leaning towards selecting Darnold since he is unlikely to be there when they pick again at No. 4. The Giants will entertain offers from other teams, including the Jets, to maximize their leverage. They probably stay put unless they get at least four high picks. Their roster is in desperate need of young talent and four heads are better than one at this point.

The Jets may not want another team leapfrogging them, so there is a possibility that Maccagnan rings up Gettleman and talks turkey. The Jets have very little capital to deal at the moment, so the price could be a player off their roster and a mid-to-late round selection. For the Giants, such a move would still ensure them a stud player – even a quarterback – plus they gain some more talent.

But the Giants may not be able to pass up a deal from. let’s say, Buffalo, who has two first, two second and two third round picks in this draft. If the Bills move up from No. 12 to No. 2, the Giants would likely want four of those four picks or at least three of them plus a 2019 selection. No other team seems to have to assets to make a credible deal.

If the Giants do that, they could conceivably end up with six selection in the first 96 instead of three. Gettleman would get both quantity and quality out of his first draft, which is his goal. Looking at the Giants’ roster, they are sore need of viable bodies, so Gettleman may have no choice but to take the deal. If not,

My current mock draft looks like this:

  1. Cleveland: Sam Darnold, QB USC
  2. Buffalo: Josh Allen, QB Wyoming
  3. Jets: Josh Rosen, QB UCLA
  4. Cleveland: Saquon Barkley, RB Penn State
  5. Denver: Quentin Nelson, OL Notre Dame
  6. Indianapolis: Bradley Chubb, DE NC State
  7. Tampa Bay: Derwin James, S Florida St.
  8. Chicago: Denzel Ward, CB Ohio State
  9. San Francisco: Tremaine Edmunds, LB Virginia Tech
  10. Oakland: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB Alabama
  11. Miami: Baker Mayfield, QB Oklahoma
  12. Giants: Mike McGlinchey, OT Notre Dame and at No. 22 Will Hernandez, G UTEP

This mock has the Jets getting their man and the Giants solidifying their offensive line. Rosen can potentially start in 2018 at some point for the Jets. In fact, he is going to have to for this roll of the dice by Maccagnan to have its desired effect.

McGlinchy is actually not as good a prospect at the moment as Hernandez. He is a perfect compliment to the newly-signed Nate Solder in that he also stands 6’8″ and weighs 312. Hernandez is a 348 pound fighter and will give the Giants the surge they’ve been missing in the running game the past few seasons. Drafting these two players would solve the Giants’ offensive line issues for the foreseeable futures. When Gettleman talks about “hog mollies” these two guys are the prototype of that group.

The excitement will continue to build here in New York the next six weeks as the draft approaches and rightfully so. After an unwatchable 2017 season, Giants and Jets fans get get stoked again about the futures of their teams.

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