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Big Blue View mailbag, 11/23: Saquon Barkley, draft philosophy, more

The mail’s here!

You know what times it is. It’s time to open the Big Blue View mailbag. So, let’s do it.

Jo Jo Topino asks: I just want to know is Saquon Barkley feeling the effects of an high ankle sprain being that he is probably a step slower or is the defense geared up and catching up with him ... Or is it the offensive line which is horrendous?

Ed says: Jo Jo, it’s probably a little of everything. A high ankle sprain is generally a 4-8 week injury, as I understand it. Barkley returned on the fourth week. There is no way he was 100 percent, and it’s entirely possible that he still isn’t and won’t be fully healthy until next season. That’s been an obvious factor. Defenses also understand that he is the best player the Giants have, and will pay special attention. So, also a factor. Finally, at times the blocking has not been what it needs to be.

Bruce Frazer asks: Last season B.J. Hill showed so much promise that he was was projected by many writers to be a potential fixture in the line for years to come. This season’s promise has turned into lost expectation as this season has not approached his first year standard. What has happened to his game? Is he being used differently by Bettcher this year or is this a major case of sophomore blues? It is hard to believe that he has gone downhill in only year two. Something, perhaps in how he is being used, is not right.

Ed says: Bruce, I think it’s a misconception that Hill “showed so much promise” as a pass rusher. I think we all got stuck on the 5.5-sack number from his rookie year and forgot that three of those came in one game — against the Chicago Bears. So, he has really had one great pass-rushing game out of 26. It’s easy to forget that he was a nose tackle at N.C. State who came into the league with many analysts questioning whether he could rush the passer well enough to be a three-down player.

Now, has he seemed to regress as a pass rusher this season? Undoubtedly. He has neither a sack nor a quarterback hit, and he has been losing playing time in recent weeks. He isn’t really being used all that much differently than he was a year ago, at least in terms of position. So that isn’t an issue.

Hill has been good against the run. Obviously, the Giants would like more production in pass rush situations. Maybe, though, what we are seeing is what Hill really is.

Chris Hynes asks: With his injury history, do the Giants pick up the 5th year option on Evan Engram?

Ed says: Chris, this is a really interesting question. Engram has talent, the kind of talent offensive coaches dream about finding in a pass-catching tight end. He’s a standup guy, a young locker room leader a team would love to build around.

He can’t, though, seem to stay on the field. Sunday will mark the eighth game Engram has missed out of 42 regular-season games he has been eligible for. That’s 19.5 percent, almost a full one in five.

The Giants have to make that decision this offseason, so they can’t wait and see how he does in his fourth year. I honestly don’t know what they will do.

It’s hard to let talented young players who could and should be part of your core go, and I wonder if that will lead the Giants to give him the fifth-year option and see if he can stay healthy for 2020 and 2021 before they commit big money to him. The flip side is they could perhaps dangle Engram before the draft and see what they can get before he turns completely into Jordan Reed and has no real value on the trade market. asks: I have a general draft question in regards to Dave Gettleman’s track record of moving around during the process. Not sure of how many drafts he ran for the Panthers, but it is my understanding that he has never moved back.

In his (2) Giants drafts, he was definitely laser-focused on (1) particular player. Being that we will definitely be getting a high pick again, could moving back be the best plan? Sometimes, if you miss out on the truly “can’t miss” players, and you have a few guys on the next level, it can be parlayed to (2) or (3) high picks instead of (1).

Since we need many upgrades to the team, do you think he would ever consider moving down, or is he stuck in his prior beliefs?

Ed says: Johnny, Gettleman ran five drafts for the Carolina Panthers. He has run two for the Giants. In those drafts he never has traded down, never has used available assets to acquire more picks.

Gettleman’s M.O., which we have seen with the Giants, is to accumulate picks and use his available draft capital to target specific players.

While with Carolina he traded up four times. In 2014 (cornerback Bene Benwikere), 2015 (offensive tackle Daryl Williams), 2016 (cornerback Daryl Worley) and 2017 (defensive end Daeshon Hall).

With the Giants he has traded picks for players three times. In 2018 he traded picks for linebacker Alec Ogletree. In the 2019 draft he traded up for cornerback DeAndre Baker. Going forward, he has surrendered upcoming picks for defensive tackle Leonard Williams.

Thus, it is pretty obvious what to expect. I don’t think Gettleman is fundamentally opposed to trading down. I think, though, that he absolutely trusts his evaluation and his conviction on a player. When he believes in a guy he isn’t afraid to go get him.

Truthfully, I admire that. I don’t always believe in it because when you trade away assets to move up you decrease your number of opportunities. That means if you are wrong, it hurts more.

While I do favor the “trade down and acquire more picks” philosophy I can certainly understand the reluctance to move out of a draft slot where you believe you can get a franchise-changing player to a lesser spot where the talent isn’t as good.

Chris Fiegler asks: If the Giants finish the season with a 2-14 record do you think that Pat Shurmer will be fired on December 30?

Ed says: Chris, I have said many times this year is about progress. If the Giants go 2-14 and finish the year with 12 straight losses, it is going to be hard for Shurmur to say they made any. I truly believe the organization does not want to replace Shurmur. They want stability. They don’t want another massive upheaval. But, Shurmur and everyone else understands that part of the deal is that you need to win games. If the Giants were to sink that low I would be surprised if Shurmur survived it.