Giants Rumors: A Comfortable Dinner Might Have Riskily Ensured Top CB Prospect Ahmad Gardner Joins Big Blue

Even before the New York Giants‘ 2021 season ended in disastrous fashion, it appeared Big Blue would use its first of two first-round picks on an offensive tackle. New head coach Brian Daboll is currently committed to fourth-year quarterback Daniel Jones, and one would reasonably believe the four-time Super Bowl champions would want to select an elite tackle, such as Mississippi State’s Charles Cross or North Carolina State’s Ikem Ekwonu, atop the upcoming draft.

Although the Giants haven’t officially ruled out the idea of selecting a tackle fifth overall, the signs are instead pointing towards the franchise investing that pick in Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. Which, with respect to the All-AAC defender, has the potential to be a devastatingly foolish move.

The Giants reportedly had dinner with top cornerback prospect Ahmad Gardner after Cincinnati’s pro day

The University of Cincinnati hosted nearly 100 NFL personnel, including Giants general manager Joe Schoen, at its pro day on Thursday, March 24. Gardner, a consensus All-American last season, spent most of the event watching from the sidelines and speaking with numerous teams.

Several hours later, the top cornerback prospect took to Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse for dinner with the Giants.

Technically, Gardner took to Jeff Ruby’s to meet with the Giants and the Saints. However, NFL Media’s Aditi Kinkhabwala reported the 21-year-old only had appetizers with the Saints before enjoying the main course with Big Blue.

What does any of this mean? Well, it could very well mean nothing. However, considering that Gardner is widely considered to be drafted within the first 10 picks, the Giants’ interest in him could signal the team is preparing to select him fifth overall.

For as talented as Gardner is, we feel such a move would be a significant mistake.

The Giants are playing with fire if they pass on an offensive tackle to select Gardner at No. 5

Will the New York Giants draft Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner in the 2022 NFL Draft?
Should the New York Giants draft Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner fifth overall in the 2022 NFL Draft? | Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

To be clear, our wariness regarding the Giants potentially selecting Gardner fifth overall has nothing to do with him as a prospect or a person. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound cornerback ran a 4.41 40-yard dash time and has earned rave reviews for his confidence, his skillset, and his ability to break up plays. He’ll almost certainly be a Day 1 starter and should have a bright future in the NFL.

All of that is great. But that’s not what the Giants need with the fifth overall pick.

As of now, it appears the Giants aren’t selecting a quarterback with either of their two first-round picks, which is the right move. Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll must invest in an offensive lineman, especially if the Detroit Lions select Liberty quarterback Malik Willis with the second overall pick. In that situation, the Giants would almost certainly have an opportunity to snag one of Cross, Ekwonu, or Alabama’s Evan Neal; the Houston Texans (No. 3) and New York Jets (No. 4) are expected to target either an offensive lineman or a pass-rusher.

The Giants have far too many holes on the current roster to select a defensive back, even an extremely talented one, at No. 5. If they’re skeptical, they’re free to ask the Jets how selecting the likes of Dee Milliner (No. 9, 2013) and safety/linebacker Jamal Adams (No. 6, 2017) early in the rebuilding process turned out. Gang Green never won in Adams’ three seasons in large part because the team had an inept offense and a lack of reliable linemen.

Now, there is an argument that the Giants can afford to select Gardner fifth overall and hope that one of those offensive linemen falls to No. 7; the Carolina Panthers, who pick sixth overall, have repeatedly hinted they’re interested in picking Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett.

But is the risk really worth it?

Ekwonu and Neal were consistently considered prospects to go first overall, and Cross is no slouch. It makes far more sense for the Giants to give Jones (and his potential successor) a franchise left tackle — or, potentially, a right tackle who would line up opposite Andrew Thomas — who can keep him on his feet instead of targeting a cornerback so early.

Not even Notre Dame star safety Kyle Hamilton should be the exception here

For months, mock drafts suggested the Giants would add an offensive lineman and Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton in the first round. Theoretically speaking, that could still happen, although Hamilton’s draft stock has skyrocketed to the point where he might be in play at No. 2 overall.

The Giants are best served by sticking to the plan of taking an offensive lineman with the fifth overall pick. Schoen can get Jones his new offensive tackle and work from there. There will be plenty of impactful defensive backs available later in the first round or early in Day 2; the Giants are slated to pick 36th overall, which could put them in play for Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam or Washington cornerback Kyler Gordon if either falls that far.

Could the Giants simply wait until the second round to select an offensive tackle? Sure. Would that be the right move? Probably not, especially if Ekwonu or Neal somehow fall to Big Blue at No. 5.

Then again, all of this could be for nothing, and Schoen might be planning to shock us all by selecting Oregon pass-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux with the fifth overall pick. Such is the unpredictability of the NFL draft, and it’s wonderful.

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