NFL Draft Prospects Giants Must Target After 2024 Shrine, Senior Bowls

NFL Draft Prospects Giants Must Target After 2024 Shrine, Senior Bowls

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    Georgia WR  Ladd McConkey

    Georgia WR Ladd McConkeyMichael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The New York Giants have decided to stick with head coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen following a disappointing six-win season. If New York plans to bounce back in 2024, it must dramatically improve its roster.

    With $20.8 million in projected cap space, Schoen and Co. can do some of the work in free agency. However, the Giants need to hit on multiple picks throughout April’s draft if they hope to build a long-term contender.

    This past week, the Giants and the rest of the NFL got a closer look at some of the top 2024 draft prospects at the East-West Shrine Bowl and Senior Bowl.

    Below, we’ll examine three standouts from the exhibition games and preceding practices who should be on New York’s radar heading into the scouting combine.

Christian Haynes, G, Connecticut

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    Connecticut G Christian Haynes

    Connecticut G Christian HaynesDouglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    There’s a very real chance that the Giants make a play for a new quarterback in the early first round. New York currently holds the sixth overall pick, and Daniel Jones was mostly bad when healthy in 2023.

    Regardless of who is under center next season, the Giants need to upgrade an offensive line that surrendered a ludicrous 85 sacks last season. While New York may eventually consider replacing Evan Neal at right tackle, it has an immediate need at guard.

    Connecticut’s Christian Haynes is an intriguing interior lineman who could potentially be had on Day 2. He was the Bleacher Report Scouting Department’s 103rd-ranked prospect in January, but a strong Senior Bowl week could have him on the rise.

    “The most consistent player at the position, from start to finish, was Haynes,” The Athletic’s Dane Brugler wrote. “…Haynes entered the week as a borderline top-100 prospect, but he boosted his chances of being drafted on Day 2.”

    Though Haynes isn’t a top-tier athlete, he’s a powerfully build (6’2″, 318 lbs) physical mauler with enough savvy to excel at the next level. He would provide a significant boost to New York’s interior line depth almost immediately.

Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia

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    Georgia WR Ladd McConkey

    Georgia WR Ladd McConkeyBrandon Sloter/Image Of Sport/Getty Images

    The Giants also desperately need help at wide receiver, regardless of who is playing quarterback. Darius Slayton led the team with just 770 receiving yards, and he was the only Giants receiver to reach 550 yards on the season.

    If New York doesn’t take a quarterback in Round 1, it may heavily consider a top receiver prospect like Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. or LSU’s Malik Nabers. However, the Giants shouldn’t take just a single swing at the position.

    Georgia’s Ladd McConkey is a potential Day 2 target who could help upgrade New York’s receiving corps in a big way.

    “McConkey can be a good slot/Z type in the NFL. He can play both inside and out, he is a highly effective route-runner and his hands are reliable enough,” Derrik Klassen of the B/R Scouting Department wrote.

    During Senior Bowl week, the 5’11”, 187-pound prospect put his movement and receiving skills on full display. Those skills earned him the respect of the defensive backs in attendance.

    “McConkey was named top WR on the American team in a vote from DB teammates at practice player-of-the-week awards ceremony today at 2024 Reese’s Senior Bowl,” Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

    With plenty of inside-outside versatility, McConkey would add a new dynamic to New York’s passing attack.

Blake Watson, RB, Memphis

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    Memphis RB Blake Watson

    Memphis RB Blake WatsonMatthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    With Saquon Barkley slated to be a free agent in March, the Giants have to consider restocking their backfield in 2024. While Memphis’ Blake Watson may not have the size (5’9″, 189 lbs) to replace Barkley as an every-down back, he could be a valuable part of a committee.

    With a tremendous blend of power, speed, balance and elusiveness, Watson is quite capable of generating huge plays. He tallied 1,637 scrimmage yards last season while averaging six yards per carry and 9.1 yards per reception.

    In the East-West Shrine Bowl, Watson recorded 111 scrimmage yards while showcasing his ability to haul in passes and elude would-be tacklers in the open field.

    Watson also made a strong impression during the week’s practices and was named to the All-Shrine Bowl team by coaches.

    While Watson is likely to be a late-round target on draft weekend, that doesn’t mean he can’t have a prominent role as a rookie. With backup running back Matt Breida also set to be a 2024 free agent, the Giants should be interested in an explosive back like Watson even if they find a way to retain Barkley.

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