With a deep and overwhelmingly talented group of prospects, it’s a good year to have a need on the outside. For the New York Giants, a club that no one expected to represent anything more than the basement occupants of the NFC East this year, a divisional-round departure not only raised eyebrows but expectations heading into year two of the Brian Daboll regime. For an organization on the up and up after years of mediocrity and shuffling in the front office, let’s get you familiar with a few 2023 NFL Draft names to know that would fit well within Wink Martindale’s scheme.
Cam Smith, South Carolina
In Martindale’s blitz-heavy scheme, the ability to keep your head above water on an island is paramount. Extra bodies rushing the passer means one-on-one opportunities on the outside, and for a talent like Smith, he thrives in situations where it’s mano a mano in space. He’s aggressive yet patient in press-man, has ball skills to flip the momentum of a football game, and isn’t afraid to stick his face in the mud in the run game. His alpha mentality on the outside fits the way the Giants want to play defense.
Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State
One of the longest corners in the class, Forbes, if you squint hard enough, looks a lot like a certain corner that calls the New York Jets’ secondary home: Sauce Gardner. Long and lean, Forbes’ 14 picks the last three years combined is a tribute to just how unique he is as a playmaker on the perimeter. What makes him even more special, however, is his fluidity in coverage that allows him to succeed in both man and zone concepts. He has no issue working downhill in Cover 3 and can align opposite of any receiver in the league in man from day one due to his disruptive appendages. His knack for making plays will place a massive spotlight on his game from the moment he straps up.
Jakorian Bennett, Maryland
He had a pick during the Senior Bowl game, but where Bennett flashed the most during his time in Mobile was in his attention to detail, coachability, and applying critiques during one-on-ones. He’s extremely detail-oriented, and while we often get caught up in the tools and traits of players, watching (and hearing) Bennett align teammates and proceed to dominate highlighted a player beyond his years. His approach on the outside will allow him to play at a high level right away for the Giants or another team as a guy expected to come off the board beyond the first few rounds.
Mekhi Blackmon, USC
A four-year impact player for Colorado, Blackmon’s lone season for the Trojans showcased an athlete that can succeed whether he’s thrown outside or pushed into the slot. He isn’t the thickest defender at 182 pounds (verified), but he’s advanced in his technique and is a pain in the backside to win against in the intermediate areas of the offense. He allowed a minuscule 53.9 reception % on 165 targets during his career highlighted by five interceptions and 20 PBUs. He’d be a great fit for the Giants.
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