New York’s NFL teams are used to being in the spotlight on draft night. They’ve combined for five top-5 picks in the last four drafts, thanks largely to some uninspiring regular-season finishes. This year, they’re doubly front and center.
The Jets and Giants each have two picks in the top 10 — the Jets at No. 4 and No. 10, and the Giants at No. 5 and No. 7 — giving them prime opportunities to restock rosters that have been depleted by years of spotty drafting and perpetual rebuilding. Both teams enter the draft with a total of nine selections to address their major roster needs.
Both teams are unlikely to use a top pick on a quarterback this year. The Jets drafted Zach Wilson No. 2 overall last year, and the Giants have expressed optimism in how starter Daniel Jones will play under a new head coach, though the team has decided not to pick up his fifth-year option. Away from quarterback, both teams can go in many different directions.
At the top of the Jets’ list of needs are edge rusher (a persistent quest for this franchise), cornerback and a No. 1 receiver. At pick No. 4, they should be able to land either one of the class’s best edge rushers or top cornerback Ahmad Gardner from Cincinnati. One of this year’s top receivers should be an option for the Jets at No. 10, as well.
Jets General Manager Joe Douglas has an extra second-round pick from last year’s trade of quarterback Sam Darnold to the Panthers, giving him four chances in the top 38 picks to add starting-caliber players.
One of the Giants’ most pressing needs is a right tackle to bookend with left tackle Andrew Thomas, the No. 4 overall pick in 2020. That role could be filled by one of the available top tackles: North Carolina State’s Ikem Ekwonu, Alabama’s Evan Neal or Mississippi State’s Charles Cross. Like the Jets, the Giants also have needs at the premium positions of edge rusher and cornerback. If available, Gardner would be a great option at either No. 5 or No. 7, and this year’s deep edge rusher class means the Giants should be able to address that spot either in the first round or later.
Joe Schoen, the Giants’ first-year general manager, inherited a bloated salary cap that left him nearly no room to work in free agency, but the extra first-round pick — acquired when the Giants traded down with the Bears in the 2021 draft — was a welcome parting gift from his predecessor, Dave Gettleman.