Before the 2017 NFL Draft Chris and I did a draft chat we ended up calling “Five Questions with ... Ed and Chris.” That was received well enough that we thought we should make it a semi-regular feature here at Big Blue View.
Today, we discuss what the Giants and did not do in the draft. And, yes, we each also give the Giants’ 2017 draft class a grade.
Ed: In my draft overview on Sunday, I expressed the opinion that the success or failure of Davis Webb is going to be the thing that defines this draft. Evan Engram and Dalvin Tomlinson might be good players, and who knows what happens with the Day 3 guys, but it is Webb who will make or break whether this ultimately is a good draft. Agree or disagree?
Chris: I agree. I do think Engram and Tomlinson will pan out and be contributors early on. But if you take a player you, and others, think could grow into the face of your franchise, that's the pick everyone is going to be watching.
If he works out and successfully takes over for Eli Manning, then Jerry Reese will be lauded as a genius and others will try to follow his lead.
If he doesn't, it might not explicitly hurt the franchise (I should hope they'll have a clear enough idea of Webb's development before Eli retires to make the decision whether or not to hand the keys over), but it will reflect poorly on the draft as a whole.
Ed: Let's talk about Evan Engram. I have to remind folks that I did mock Engram to the Giants in Round 1, which put me waaaaaay out on a shaky limb. I just felt that the Giants first priority was adding a weapon to the offense, and my read was they liked Engram better than David Njoku. They also obviously liked him better than the available offensive linemen. With all of the targets Eli Manning has, I don't see Engram catching 70-80 balls as a rookie, but he can help. His presence on the roster will have to change some of what the giants do. They wouldn't have ten him unless they had a plan.
Chris: I've been thinking about this on and off since Thursday night. I'm wondering if McAdoo may not be considering adopting more of a "12" personnel package and have Ellison play the conventional tight end role while Engram is moved around the formation to create match-up problems.
That would give them options that are similar to what they had last year with their (too) familiar 11 personnel package, but with the advantage of being more fluid and flexible while in their no-huddle offense, and better run blocking with two tight ends on the field. It would also keep the team from having to rely on 33-year-old Brandon Marshall for 90 percent + of their offensive snaps.
Ed: Once again, the Giants ignored the linebacker position. They had a shot at Zach Cunningham in Round 2, but thinking back on the pick I shouldn't have been surprised. We had heard that the Giants "loved" Dalvin Tomlinson and, need or no need, were only "lukewarm" on Cunningham. I think it's just a fact that the Giants value the front and back of the defense more than the middle. Any thoughts on the Giants and the way they approach the linebacker spot?
Chris: How the Giants approach the linebackers is frustrating, but I get it. In their defensive scheme the defensive line and secondary are just more important, and investing there makes the linebackers better. Thinking back, I can't remember a single great group of linebackers who weren't playing behind a good (at least) defensive line. Teams need those big guys to keep free the linebackers up to make plays. Thinking back to years like 2013 and 2015, when the front and secondary were depleted, the linebackers looked especially bad as they had to deal with offensive linemen and breakdowns in coverage.
It would be nice to see the Giants accidentally pick a good linebacker early in the draft, or sign one in free agency, but as long as their defense is set up the way it is, they'll keep investing the bulk of their resources in the units that have the biggest impact.
Ed: Let's talk about Day 3. My favorite pick of the 3 was Adam Bisnowaty, the offensive tackle from Pitt. Yeah, I like collecting offensive linemen. Thing is, entering the 2016 season Bisnowaty is a guy who was looked at at a potential first-round pick as a left tackle. For whatever reason, 2016 wasn't a great year for him and he tumbled down the board. If he can regain the form he had prior to 2016, the Giants might have a find with that pick. Gallman I'm ambivalent about. Nice player, but maybe not an ideal complement for Paul Perkins. Moss, honestly, I don't know enough about.
Chris: It would be fantastic if Bisnowaty could become the player he looked like he was on his way to becoming early on. That would be a huge win for the whole team. I'm also intrigued by some of the undrafted offensive linemen they have been connected to. Chad Wheeler is a player who looks the part of a starting tackle and could push for a starting job if his injuries haven't sapped too much of his athleticism.
Gallman is a guy who isn't exciting, but he is definitely solid. He has enough agility to make cuts, does a good job of exploding through holes, and is surprisingly tough to tackle. Mike Mayock compared him to Devonta Freeman when he was coming to Florida State, and at least athletically, it fits. (That's a second part to the one about the day 3 guys).
Ed: Let's finish off by grading this thing, and, yes, grading things now is dumb. But, we do it, anyway. For me, it's a difficult grade because the Giants did some good things, but they also failed to do some other things that seemed like obvious areas that had to be addressed.
One thing to remember -- fans always get hung up on what a team needs for the upcoming season. It's easy to do that with this Giants team because we all see Eli Manning getting up in age and we know his window is closing. Fact is, though, the draft is never really about the upcoming season. It is about the future of the franchise, about finding players you think can help your for the next several years. For teams, it's a delicate balancing act.
If I'm grading this draft purely on the players the did select, I'm giving it a B or a B+. As I've said in other places, the ultimate grade on this draft will depend on what quarterback Davis Webb turns into. If he is a franchise QB the Giants can win Super Bowl titles with, this draft is an A all day long. If he's a disaster and the Giants have to start over again in looking for a successor to Manning, this draft looks much worse.
Ultimately, though, you have to factor in what the Giants did not get when grading this draft. They didn't get someone who could at least compete for playing time immediately on the offensive line. They didn't get a linebacker. That has to drop the grade.
If Engram and Webb and up being stars, this is a fantastic draft. For now, though, because of what the Giants did not get it's a C+/B- draft for me.
Chris: My grade: I'll give this a "B" at this time. This draft is split between players who should be (at least) solid contributors and half who are drafted on upside. I believe Engram is going to be a good one for the Giants and a terror for opposing defenses. Like I said above, he could be the piece that unlocks the offensive scheme and lets them be more flexible and unpredictable (and therefore more dangerous) than they were in 2016. Tomlinson should be a great fit next to Damon Harrison. He should re-solidify the run defense after the loss of Johnathan Hankins, and I think he has untapped ability as a pass rusher. Gallman, I think, will give them another reliable option out of the backfield who can give them what they had hoped to get from Orleans Darkwa. Any draft that yields two starters and a solid contributor is a successful one. Webb, Moss, and Bisnowaty will determine how successful. As you said, getting a franchise quarterback in the third round would make this draft a home run. If Moss can be a solid third or fourth defensive end, that is a major hit, and if Bisnowaty can become a backup guard/tackle, then that's a hit as well.