Before we get into the meat and potatoes of this article, let's be clear: NFL Draft grades are meaningless. To a degree, even having an opinion on how prospects will do is somewhat meaningless. That doesn't mean we can't hypothesize or make judgments. That's what this site is for, right?
The New York Giants are finished with their 2017 NFL draft class. Is it any good? Who knows. Certainly not you. For damn sure, certainly not me. It's not fair to grade it, but that gives us something tangible to discuss. We can discuss their fit in this offense or defense, and who we would have preferred in their stead. So let's do that.
If you remember, I graded last year's draft as the best draft in a long time. It's certainly looking to be one of Jerry Reese's (or Reach's, for some of you) best drafts ever. Do I think that this draft is as good?
But that's okay. This draft is different. Every draft is different. The end goal is to help the team, for both this year, and in years future. That last part is important. Let's get to the grades.
Round 1: Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss
My favorite pick in the draft this year has to be Evan Engram. My appreciation for the type of prospect he is was well known before he got picked. He is a 6’3”, 234-pound receiver (yes, receiver) that can run a 4.42, has great foot speed for cutting and stopping on a dime while running routes, and has huge hands to make contested catches.
He's going to be a seam buster. The word that routinely comes up every single time somebody talks about Engram is "matchup nightmare." Those words always come up. Why? Because he's going to keep defensive coordinators up at night. As a fit in his pseudo-spread offense that Ben McAdoo runs, Engram can be both a safety valve for Eli Manning and a deep threat.
In the screen game, he's a nasty perimeter blocker. With Paul Perkins and Wayne Gallman, two guys that like bouncing runs to the outside, Engram will spring them for some big gains.
I've seen the term "willing blocker" be used in a negative context with Engram. Is he going to drive block defensive ends off the ball? No. He's 234 pounds. I'm not sure how many people have watched him against Texas A&M, but he's an accomplished seal blocker that does enough to spring his running backs loose. He makes the team's offense more dangerous in almost every aspect. There were several examples where he took #1 overall pick Myles Garrett out of the play.
The best part about him is that the risk of drafting him is mitigated by his work ethic and character. He's completely clean off the field and there are stories about how he not only studied his position, but learned the plays for all of the wide receivers as well within Ole Miss' scheme. He works hard and it shows, and that means that he's a high ceiling, high floor player and an impossibly good fit for this New York Giants team.
Pro Comparison for his ceiling: Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks
Pro Comparison for his floor: Jared Cook, TE, Oakland Raiders
Round 2: Dalvin Tomlinson, DT, Alabama
I think we could have seen this coming from a mile away. The Giants lost Johnathan Hankins like they lost Barry Cofield and Linval Joseph in years past. So, what did they do? Oh, just make another second-round selection at defensive tackle. It's going to be interesting to see high school defensive tackle prospects right now to figure out who to mock for the Giants in 2021.
That being said, Tomlinson is a good player. He's unexciting and doesn't produce splash plays, but he does the dirty work. I think Jerry Reese said it best, he's "country strong." He's polished at the point of attack and was a favorite of many of his teammates because he didn't ask for credit, he simply took on two blockers and paved the way for Jonathan Allen, Tim Williams, and Ryan Anderson to get all the credit.
The prevailing notion is that he's got a little bit more wiggle and pass rush ability than Hankins. Not so sure about that. He has a heavier punch, for sure, and that ability to knock back opponents. The Giants like to collapse the pocket from the interior, not just stress it with a pass rusher, so this move made sense.
That being said, Chris Wormley, Dion Dawkins, Taylor Moton, and Zach Cunningham were guys that I would have liked over Tomlinson. Can't complain about getting a starting caliber player who will provide little to no drop off when replacing a tackle making $9 million per year somewhere else.
Pro Comparison for his ceiling: Brandon Williams, DT Baltimore Ravens
Pro Comparison for his floor: Eddie Goldman, DT Chicago Bears
Round 3: Davis Webb, QB, Cal
Ah, the flashpoint of the New York Giants draft class. You love this pick or (most of you) hate this pick. As for me? I can understand it, but I’m still not sure how I feel about it. The 6’5”, 230-pound quarterback is talented. Don’t get me wrong, he’s got a monstrous arm and has surprisingly good touch on intermediate throws. He’s also a 79 percent SPARQ athlete, and there are literally books and books on his work ethic and his love for football, as well as his leadership capability.
His deep ball accuracy, his mobility, and his decision-making in a spread system gives you pause however, and are all reasons why he probably was available in the 3rd round. Still, I can’t think of a more perfect situation for Webb to succeed. The Giants are building an offensive juggernaut (and yes, they will address the offensive line sooner or later) and Ben McAdoo runs an offense that is probably the closest to what Webb experienced at Texas Tech and Cal.
The offensive linemen that were chosen between rounds 3 and 4 weren’t brilliant. Dorian Johnson apparently has a “liver issue.” Nico Siragusa and Julie’n Davenport would’ve been nice, but would not have started, either. I know another argument out there is that the 2018 quarterback class is historically good. Well, here’s the thing. The Giants aren’t going to be picking high enough to get the “real” talent in that draft. Also, there’s a LONG time between now and then. This time last year, Brad Kaaya was bandied about as a top 5 pick. Take a look at a 2017 mock draft done by our very own Dan Kadar this time last year: Kadar Mock Draft. That had Brad Kaaya No. 2 overall and Chad Kelly No. 7 overall. A year later, Kelly was actually Mr. Irrelevant and a long snapper was drafted before Kaaya. So, 2018 QB rankings mean jack you-know-what.
So, why the hesitancy?
Well, are we actually sure Eli Manning will give up the reins in two years? That’s really the only question I have. Are we going to have Davis Webb as a clipboard holder for most all of his rookie contract? It would be something like a Kirk Cousins situation where the Giants would have to commit a large contract to an unknown player. We won’t know until ... or perhaps, if ... he develops. Until then, I can’t give this a good grade because there are too many unknowns for me to pass on players that could’ve helped NOW.
Pro Comparison for his ceiling: Eli Manning, QB, Giants
Pro Comparison for his floor: Brock Osweiler, QB, Browns
Round 4: Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson
I’m a big fan of Wayne Gallman. I think he has traits that allow him to succeed in the NFL. He’s a power back in the sense that he was very successful in goal line and short yardage situations. That’s not because he’s a brute force type of a guy, but because he’s so well-rounded. He’s quicker than most bigger backs, and he’s stronger than most change of pace backs.
He combines good vision with a determination not to go down on every run. He’s not Andre Williams, a tank who was easily taken down with arm tackles around his ankles. Gallman’s footwork is just too damn good. He’s a perfect complement to Paul Perkins. I think as a pure prospect Samaje Perine is a better running back, but I think Gallman’s ability to catch the ball and fit in this offense probably makes him a better choice for the Giants.
One issue with Gallman is his pass protection. He simply doesn’t anchor down and square his feet. He doesn’t lean into his blocks, either. The results? He gets blown up. At least he knows his protections and kind of gets in the way. That’s gotta improve, but all in all not a terrible pick for the Giants. I’m a big Isaac Asiata fan, so it hurt that he wasn’t the pick, but this was decent value for the Giants.
Pro Comparison for his ceiling: Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Pro Comparison for his floor: Karlos Williams, RB, Buffalo Bills
Round 5: Avery Moss, EDGE, Youngstown State
Moss was one of the best remaining players, and a pretty good one. He is the guy who, yes, exposed himself to a girl (a couple times) and eventually transferred from Nebraska. Apparently, he underwent counseling, found religion, and straightened his life out. He’s been completely clean off the field since that incident back in 2014.
As for him on the field, it should be noted that a lot of the time, he was the one forced to go against the left tackles as opposed to his more heralded teammate Derek Rivers. We may as well call this draft the overachiever draft, because like Gallman and Tomlinson, Moss is another player who uses his body and power to fight through the whistle and maximize his impact.
He’s got great length with 34.5-inch arms and he’s got the one thing that I’ve always said any successful pass rusher needs to have ... twitch. He’s got explosion, and that shouldn’t be taken for granted. The Giants’ DE rotation consists of Romeo Okwara, Kerry Wynn, and Owamagbe Odighizuwa. Those guys are base LDEs. The Giants don’t have a true RDE on the roster aside from Olivier Vernon. Moss has the speed to power to back him up there. Solid pick.
Pro Comparison for his ceiling: Carlos Dunlap, DE, Cincinnati Bengals
Pro Comparison for his flor: Benson Mayowa, DE, Dallas Cowboys
Round 6: Adam Bisnowaty, OL ,Pittsburgh
This is probably my least favorite pick for a couple reasons. I apologize if it sounds like I’m whining about a sixth-round pick, but, hey, I’m just being honest.
First, I’d like address the notion that Jerry Reese just, I don’t know, simply doesn’t care about the offensive line. That’s a load of crock in my book. They invested two first-round picks, a second-round pick, and had a couple big contracts on the OL recently. I do think he’s telling the truth when he stated that he didn’t want to reach for an offensive lineman due to need. I think, perhaps unfortunately for a lot, that the Giants still have faith in Ereck Flowers at left tackle. Is part of it because they invested a top 10 pick in him? Sure. But if you didn’t see any redeeming features in his game last year, you kind of already made up your mind about him. Was he bad? Yes. But there were high points to his game. He is 22, and would’ve probably been the first offensive lineman taken in this year’s draft, easily. He has, by all accounts, worked very hard to correct his mistakes. This is year 3, he should get at least until the start of the season to show us what he’s got. D.J. Fluker, I think they like quite a bit and rumors about them having him as their top guy in 2013 are probably true. So, I think they are okay with him at right tackle. They like Hart and Jerry at guard for now, clearly. Is it good enough for me? No, but this is what it is.
Now, on to Bisnowaty. I actually graded him as a free agent. So, I’m not sure it was the right move to trade up for him and give up a draft pick. In the grand scheme of things, it likely doesn’t matter all that much, but c’est la vie. I don’t see enough functional strength from “Biz” nor do I see the requisite athleticism for him to be an effective starter in the league. His upside likely consists of becoming a swing tackle. He’s got an injury history, as well. He’s at least clean off the field and has a nasty demeanor on it.
I do think in terms of natural talent, one of the UDFAs that the Giants picked up, USC OT Chad Wheeler, is a little bit better. I personally would’ve taken a corner here, like Jeremy Cutrer (who went undrafted) or if we were fixated on OL, I had Connor McDermott above Biz. I don’t understand this pick, but hopefully I’m crazy wrong. If you’re reading this, don’t beat me up, Biz. Please.
Pro Comparison for his ceiling: Eric Winston, OT, Cincinnati Bengals
Pro Comparison for his floor: Brandon Mosley, OL, Whereabouts Unknown (Formerly NYG)
This draft was never going to live up to the 2016 draft and that may have colored how we view it. There are simply not enough starting spots up for grabs for the Giants as there were before due to players from past drafts stepping up and developing.
That’s the plan for this draft. I can see two starters from this draft already: Dalvin Tomlinson and Evan Engram. Wayne Gallman will see about the same amount of snaps that Paul Perkins saw last year. Avery Moss will be a special teamer and could get some third-down snaps. Webb and Bisnowaty, I’ll be surprised if they get on the field this year.
Like I said before, this draft instantly becomes the crowning jewel of Jerry Reese’s career if Davis Webb becomes a franchise level quarterback. If he doesn’t, it still has a good shot of becoming an average to good one. Ultimately, there’s a lot of upside here, it’s up to these players to seize it and improve this team.
Overall Grade: C+