Todd McShay's third mock draft of this year came out Wednesday, and ... well, here we go. McShay assigns Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott to the New York Giants with the No. 10 pick in this latest mock.
This would be an irresponsible pick by a Giants team that hasn't drafted a defensive player in the first round since 2011 and had the worst defense in the NFL last season. Moreover, while I am on record as having little faith in the Giants' ability to draft effectively, I don't think there's any chance Elliott will be their pick at No. 10.
Now, before you go off thinking I'm ripping McShay, I'm not, and I wouldn't dream of it. The guy works his tail off and knows his stuff. McShay has forgotten more about this and every other draft class he's studied than I'll ever know. You can click that link up there to read his analysis, and my sense is this mock pick is more about Elliott being a top-10-worthy player than it is about predicting what the Giants will actually do. Which is good, because based on the way the Giants draft, there's basically no way they take a running back at No. 10 with Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson still on the board.
It's important to understand what the Giants believe and don't believe about the draft. First, they believe there are only a few positions worthy of high first-round picks. Those include quarterback, pass-rusher, No. 1 wide receiver, cornerback and left tackle. They do not include linebacker (a position they haven't addressed in the first round since Carl Banks in 1984) or running back. This is not about organizational stubbornness. It's about the necessity, in the salary-cap era, of identifying key positions worthy of your high-end resources (meaning early-round draft picks and big free-agent money) and not wasting those resources on positions that can be addressed more cheaply.
No offense to Elliott, who's likely to be a very good NFL running back, but just last year the Giants, picking ninth, passed on Todd Gurley so they could over-draft a project offensive linemen because they thought Ereck Flowers projected as a franchise left tackle. Elliott is no Gurley, and there's no reason to believe the Giants have changed their thought process on the place of running back in their priority list since last April.
Given the way the first nine picks of Todd's latest mock go, I'd rate Lawson, A'Shawn Robinson, Eli Apple, Sheldon Rankins ... and even someone like Noah Spence or Emmanuel Ogbah as more likely picks than Elliott. And even if the Giants don't decide to draft defense (which I'm on record as saying would be malpractice), it's far more likely to be a tackle or a wide receiver than a running back.
Could a team wanting to trade up to take Elliott make the Giants a nice enough offer to convince them to move down? Sure. But if Elliott is the No. 10 pick in the draft, I don't see any way the Giants are the team still in that spot taking him.