The NFL Draft is almost here and there has been little consistency regarding which direction the New York Giants will go with their first-round picks.
For the New York Giants, the question has been and will continue to be, will general manager Dave Gettleman select his quarterback of the future on Thursday? With Kyler Murray likely going No. 1, other prospects like Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock, and Daniel Jones remain the most likely quarterback candidates.
However, everything coming from Gettleman has pointed to the Giants adding defensive pieces in Round 1.
"“I’m just telling you, I’m not going to force a pick. You can’t draft for need. You’ll get screwed every time. You’ll make a mistake.”"
If the Giants are intent on targeting an edge rusher in the first round there are several options. Nick Bosa and Josh Allen will likely be selected in the top five. That leaves the second tier of edge prospects in Montez Sweat, Rashan Gary, Brian Burns, and Clelin Ferrell available for the Giants.
Sweat is highly regarded as the top prospect beyond Bosa and Allen. The Mississipi State product opened eyes at the combine, running a record 4.41 40-yard dash.
Gary, the No. 1 recruit in the country coming out of high school, also boasts incredible physical measurables. At 6-4, 277 lbs., Gary ran 4.58 seconds in his 40-yard dash and posted a 38-inch vertical leap at the NFL Scouting Combine.
However, his lack of production at Michigan is concerning. He managed just 10.5 sacks in three seasons, often rushing straight into the chest of tackles and struggling to bend the edge with his massive frame.
Gettleman has voiced his interest in the stockpile of edge rushers available in this draft class. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay went as far as calling the Giants GM “crazed” about selecting an edge rusher.
McShay reportedly had this to say, per Bleacher Report:
"“Dave Gettleman is crazed about getting a pass-rusher with this sixth pick, and they’ll deal with the quarterback later.”"
If Gettleman does want an edge rusher, the under-the-radar prospect that he would be wise to target is Florida State’s Brian Burns.
Burns, a 6-5, 249 lbs. pass-rush specialist, totaled 29 sacks in three seasons at Florida State. The Florida-native hasn’t received much publicity with most draft analysts ranking Sweat and Gary ahead of him in the second tier of edge rushers.
Many teams are wary of Burns’ ability to hold up in the run game after learning that he played last season at just 230 pounds. The edge rusher has predominately been mocked in the mid-teens to early 20’s. However, after watching his film, it is evident that Burns is among the most polished pass rushers in this draft.
Allen, Sweat, and Burns are all similar in that they are speed rushers who beat tackles with an explosive first step. However, unlike Burns, Allen and Sweat didn’t show much more than that last season.
Both heavily relied on their speed rush, showing virtually no inside or counter moves when being overset by tackles. When watching both, you get the sense that neither had a true plan pre-snap to set up their rush.
Sweat also looked stiff in his rush and struggled to bend and change direction. Allen, on the other hand, looked fluid and has the best first step in the draft. This leads you to believe that he will have no problem developing an inside counter move. But right now, Burns is the most developed pass-rusher of the three.
He has an elite first step, running a 4.53 in the forty-yard dash at the combine. What separates Burns from Allen and Sweat is his wide repertoire of moves to complement his speed rush. He showed impressive hands and looked fluid when making inside moves to counter tackles who seek to over set him.
This fluid athleticism was on full display during his on-field drills at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Burns has great flexibility and knee bend on his outside rush, allowing him to get his hips open and bend the edge or make a quick inside move without breaking stride. He also knows how to set up his speed rush or inside move using a head fake and jab step to get tackles to check their feet.
This array of moves keep tackles guessing and allow Burns to have his choice of pass rush based on what the tackle is giving him. This was a constant theme last season as Burns totaled 65 pressures, the second most in the FBS.
Scouts will worry about how Burns will hold up in the run game with his slender frame, but the 21-year-old added close to 20 lbs. since the end of the season with room to put on more. He possesses the active hands and athleticism to play the run once his body develops.
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Burns is the best and most realistic option at for a true edge rusher for the New York Giants. Any edge rusher outside of Bosa or Allen would be a reach with the sixth overall pick. Outside of that, not only is Burns the best option, he may be the most likely to be available at No. 17.
If Gettleman is not confident Burns will fall that far, he could look to package one of his mid-round picks to move up for him. The New York Giants have one third-round pick, two fourth-round picks and three fifth-round picks in the draft.
If Burns does wind up falling to 17, the G-Men shouldn’t hesitate to take him. That would allow Gettleman to get his pick of players at sixth overall and still come away with an impact edge rusher.
That leaves the question of where do the New York Giants go at sixth? Given there are no trades at the top of the first round, Murray, Bosa, Allen, and Quinnen Williams are likely the first four off the board.
It is possible that Gettleman is intent on picking a quarterback and has developed a smokescreen to deter teams from trading ahead of him. Haskins would be the most likely target at sixth in that case.
If not, depending on what the Buccaneers do at fifth overall, the Giants could have their pick of Devin White or Ed Oliver. A first round of Haskins, White, or Oliver at sixth and Burns at 17th would be a huge win for Big Blue.
Burns has the ability to become an elite pass rusher and presents a great value pick for the New York Giants at 17. If Gettleman wants an edge rusher, he is the best of his realistic options.