There are really two ways of looking at the New York Giants 2017 NFL Draft. You can look at what they did, and assess that. Or, you can look at what they didn’t do and grumble about that. Let’s do both.
What they did
When this draft is judged years from now it is likely going to be all about one thing — did Davis Webb turn into a worthy successor for Eli Manning or not?
If Webb develops into a player the Giants can win with no one will remember gnashing their teeth about the surprise first-round choice of Evan Engram, or that for the second year in a row the Giants did not prioritize adding offensive linemen to help keep current quarterback Eli Manning in one piece.
If the Giants watch Webb throughout the 2017 season, don’t like what they see and end up right back in the quarterback market in the 2018 NFL Draft then this was a mistake. If, whenever Eli’s run as the Giants franchise QB ends the Giants turn the reigns over to Webb and he proves to be Dave Brown, well, you’ve been through that before.
One thing about the Webb selection — it is much easier for an organization to overcome a third-round pick that doesn’t pan out than a first-round one that doesn’t. Much less risk.
The Giants did give Manning two offensive weapons in Engram and running back Wayne Gallman. It will be really interesting to see how they use them.
After the selection of Engram, head coach Ben McAdoo said “The fastest way to the end zone is down the middle of the field.” That’s an area the Giants, with smallish wide receivers and a tight end in Will Tye who wasn’t big enough or fast enough, couldn’t really stress a season ago. Engram should help them do that.
Maybe the Giants will still end up signing LeGarrette Blount, but if they don’t you have to think they believe Gallman, with 30 touchdowns the past two seasons, can help them in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
The offensive tackle they did select, Adam Bisnowaty, is a guy who was in the first-round conversation when the 2016 college football season began. He didn’t have a great senior year and his stock dropped. Maybe, just maybe, he regains that first-round form, becomes a good starting offensive lineman in a year or two and the Giants do end up with help at that spot.
The defensive players the Giants took, Dalvin Tomlinson and Avery Moss, are typical Giants picks. Tomlinson is another of those Day 2 defensive linemen Reese loves to grab, and you had to see that type of selection coming a mile away after the Giants lost Johnathan Hankins. Moss is one of those high upside mid-round pass rushers the Giants always seem to be attracted to. I didn’t expect Moss to be the guy the Giants drafted, but a guy with his skill set who could add to the defensive end rotation was definitely on the radar.
What they didn’t do
Get a top-tier offensive lineman, unless Bisnowaty surprises. Or a linebacker. Again.
Ereck Flowers will be your left tackle
You hate it. I know. It is, however, the reality of the situation.
The Giants, apparently unimpressed with the quality of the offensive linemen in the draft class, ignored the opportunity to draft a lineman who could have competed for a starting job during the first two days of the draft. In looking at Shaun O’Hara’s rant, during which he called selecting Webb “a waste,” we broke down all the spots in the first four rounds where the Giants could have taken an offensive lineman.
“We wanted to help the offensive line but we didn’t want to reach for anyone and we did that,” Reese said. “We always want to help every position and offensive line is a position that we tried to help, but again, we’re not going to reach for anyone.”
My guess. Flowers plays left tackle. D.J. Fluker ends up beating out Bobby Hart for the right tackle job. The Giants sign a veteran swing tackle, most likely King Dunlap, for depth.
The Giants will bank on improvement from the 23-year-old Flowers and a revival for Fluker, a former first-round pick, to better their offensive line. They have made subtle improvements to the blocking with the additions of Rhett Ellison and Brandon Marshall. Looks like they will hope that those moves, plus advantageous matchups created by Engram and Marshall, will help overcome any offensive line issues.
We will find out if they are right.
Linebacker? Once again, the Giants teased the Beezer Brigade in the buildup to the draft and, when it was all said and done, left them standing at the altar like a jilted bride.
Considering that the Giants have only one linebacker, the unproven B.J. Goodson, signed beyond 2017, not adding something to this group might have been the biggest surprise of all.
Carl Banks still stands as the last first-round linebacker selected by the Giants, way back in 1984. They passed on Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham, who many thought could be a Round 1 target, in the second round. They chose Webb, Gallman and Moss rather than address linebacker.
Thus, the piecemeal approach to linebacker will continue for the foreseeable future.
I’m not putting a grade on this draft, at least not here. Reese said the Giants “feel like we got some good players.”
I would agree that they did. In many cases, though, not the ones most expected. Or, at the positions most expected. Or, perhaps, made the most sense.
Only time, and whether or not Webb develops into a top-tier NFL quarterback, will tell us how well the Giants actually did over the past few days.