The 2021 NFL Draft is over. For the New York Giants, it was the most unusual and unexpected draft in many years. Let’s examine some of the ‘things I think’ about what the giants achieved and did not accomplish in the last three days.
GM Dave Gettleman receives widespread recognition and a good deal of ribbing from colleagues and media members for the Giants’ work in the now completed draft. The first two swaps back in his nine drafts as GM, a swap for a coveted player who only cost the Giants a pick they acquired in one of the trades, adding three picks in a highly anticipated 2022 draft that already has evaluators drool over the expected talent level.
There is no way right now to know how this works for the Giants.
Maybe Kadarius Toney is a star. Maybe he̵
“I always think I got it right. Listen, we know in three years’ time if we’ve got it right. And that’s it, okay. That’s perception, and that’s what the media writes about players, “Gettleman said on Saturday night. “We have spent a lot of time on this. We’re not doing it for a hobby, okay, and in three years we’ll know if we’re right or not. ”
In my opinion, before we know a single thing about whether any of the players selected this year or next will succeed or fail in the NFL, the 2021 draft stands as the best work the Giants have done in the Gettleman- era.
They were prepared in Round 1 when their original list of targeted players was gone and made a smart payback. That is far from the Eli Apple debacle in 2016.
They read the board correctly in round 2, traded eight records back, added a choice from the third round in 2022 and still got Ojulari, the player they say they would have chosen at 42.
The move to Aaron Robinson in round 3 cost the Giants only a fifth round they got from the Chicago Bears in their first trade down.
This was a draft that was clearly unlike anything Gettleman had ever run on as a GM. It was not giant-like either. The Giants had not executed a trade back in a draft since 2006, when they moved back seven spots and chose Mathias Kiwanuka.
All this raises the question – how much influence did the judge have on the giants’ draft strategy? The New England Patriots, where referee was an undergraduate for a number of years, are famous for playing the board. Thus, it is a natural question and a Gettleman was asked on Saturday.
“I think we have a large collaboration group coming here. It’s not about me. It’s not about Joe. It’s about the New York Football Giants, “said Gettleman. “We work together. We have been cooperating since he walked in the door. It’s about the New York Giants. ”
No offensive linemen?
I have been saying for a while that the giants might like the young linemen who are already on their list and have higher expectations of them than many external observers. The fact that they rejected six options to pick a lineman in the NFL Draft for 2021 seems to indicate just as much.
“It’s really clear that we have a little more confidence in our offensive linemen than you do,” Gettleman said. “So I just want to say that we are happy with the group we have. Obviously you are always trying to get better and you do not want to take a player just to take a player, you take a player because you think he will improve the value of your team. ”
The Giants could have been put in Round 1 and chosen Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater or USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker. They moved down from No. 11 to No. 20 and took Toney.
In the second and third rounds, Gettleman said the Giants had identified offensive linemen of interest, but they were selected before the Giants’ turn to choose came. They could have taken Tennessee guard Trey Smith anytime on Day 3 and did not. He ended up going 226th to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Giants apparently felt they could not match value and needs elsewhere when it came to offensive linemen, had other players they liked, and thus got away without new pig bleeds.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be a new player or two on the list when the season opens five months from now. There’s a part of Gettleman’s quote that I have not given you yet. It ended like this:
“Right now, our offensive line is what it is, the players are who they are and we will move on.”
Catch it? Right now that’s what it is. That does not mean it will remain that way.
Coach Joe Judge sounded a similar abstinence.
“I would say we are always looking to make each position more competitive, but right now we are committed to working with the guys on our list and approving each of these guys individually, and that should help the unit collectively,” he said.
At least it sounds to me awful much like a coach and GM who might see a new look at the free agent market to see who might be out there who might shake free when teams rate their list by draft, or who perhaps shaking free before or during training camp.
Maybe one like Trai Turner, who Gettleman drafted in round 3 of the 2014 draft, while GM from the Carolina Panthers. Turner had a bad year for the Los Angeles Chargers in 2020, but he will only be 28 next season and was solid for six years in Carolina.
This was probably not Plan A, and with all the good things they have done this out of season, they have not taken a remarkable step to improve the talent on the offense line, where the Giants have left themselves open to criticism.
These young offensive linemen will simply have to justify the faith that the giants have shown them. Much is driven on their success or failure.
Looking for the special sauce
It must have warmed Joe Judge’s heart that Gary Brightwell, Arizona, who ran back to the Giants, drafted in the sixth round on Saturday, could not wait to talk about special teams as he met media via Zoom.
“I am excited to bring some special teams to the field. I want to bring a lot of explosive games, but my priority right now is to get a playbook, get on special teams and dominate, ”said Brightwell when asked what he wants to bring to the Giants. “It’s my thing. It’s been my thing since high school. I’ve been a special team guy. ”
Nor can it have escaped the Giants, passing rusher Elerson Smith, drafted in the fourth round, using his 6-foot-6¼ frame, 82⅞-inch wingspan (85th percentile) and 41½-inch vertical jump (98th percentile) to block two kicks during the 2019 season.
Special teams are important to Judge, a former special team coach. The fighters were not good in the cover or return games a year ago. Helping to fix it had to be at least part of why these choices were made.
The fighters doubled in two positions in a row, cornerback and edge rusher.
On the cornerback, it could be bad news for players like Isaac Yiadom, Sam Beal and maybe even Madre Harper.
On the edge, I can not help but wonder if Oshane Ximin’s election in the third round of 2019 may be in jeopardy. This coaching staff was not part of his choice. Before X-man suffered his season-ending shoulder, he did not appear to have the full confidence of this staff. For me, it will be interesting to see if he has a future with the Giants.
At wide receiver, Toney, Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton and John Ross figure to take five seats. That leaves guys like CJ Board, Dante Pettis, Austin Mack and David Sills V struggling to hold on.
Four of the six players the Giants drafted – Kadarius Toney, Aaron Robinson, Elerson Smith, Rodarius Williams – are the ones who left an indelible impression on the Giants at the Senior Bowl.
The Senior Bowl has always been an important part of the Giants’ draft puzzles, but with the time in Mobile as the only face-to-face opportunity to get to know this year’s draft options, it became even more significant.
Head coach Joe Judge admitted after the selection of Kadarius Toney that he is “very determined” as to the type of people he will work with. Face-to-face meetings are an important part of figuring out who fits and who doesn’t.
“For me, they are crucial. I do not really like to add anyone to our team, or I can not really have a strong enough opinion of anyone if I have not had good enough interaction with them as a person and there is no better opportunity to sit down with someone and see them face to face and really ask them tough questions and get answers and get a feel for them as a person, ”the judge said. “A number of guys at the Senior Bowl clearly came from us with the ability to have a strong opinion. To be honest the guys you only see on tape if you do not have enough interaction with, you like them as a player and there is just something missing that you can not stand on the table and say this guy fits our closet room, this guy fits our culture. So the interactions are absolutely crucial for us. ”
“Kudos” to Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy and his crew for successfully putting together this year’s event. Giants’ draft board thank you.
Brightwell is a giant because of the often despised assistant specials coach Tom Quinn.
Judge tells the story:
“A couple of weeks ago, Tom Quinn and Thomas McGaughey and I sat in the staff room on a Saturday around noon. 05:30 in the morning and Tom Quinn brought his name up and we saw his kicking game and this guy flew down the field and it was early enough that it woke you up and you got really excited to see him, ”said judging. “You start to see a lot more of his offense and start talking to our scouts who have researched him a lot and talked to Burton (Burns) as far as return.
“Look, he’s a guy who jumps out of his skill set. You are always looking for good versatility and depth in these positions, running back and kicking. To be honest with you, the opportunity I really had to talk to him and spend some time with him, even though it was over Zoom with Gary, was very, very impressive. He has a huge history. This guy had the biggest compliments to him from everyone who has been around him on all levels. He was the guy that was available at the time and he was a guy we guy we could bring on our list and compete to be on the list, and make us a better team. ”
So if and when Brightwell flies off the field and gets a large special team to play, you can thank Quinn for a keen eye in identifying a sight under the radar.