Like many of you, I was stunned — maybe a little angry, too — when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Duke quarterback Daniel Jones as the Giants’ No. 6 overall pick.
Like many of you, I wanted them to grab Kentucky edge Josh Allen, and I felt that since they had committed to Eli Manning already for this year, they could punt on a quarterback and get a top-shelf prospect in next year’s draft.
Having had time to digest the Giants decision and to see how the rest of their draft class turned out, I’m not as outraged as I was when the pick was announced.
I think a big reason behind the outrage is the value the Giants placed on Jones. There were many (including me) who thought he might be able to be had lower in the first round. However, general manager Dave Gettleman refuted that in his post-draft press conference, claiming that he “knew for a fact” that two teams in front of him a No. 17 were eyeballing Jones when they were on the clock.
While Gettleman didn’t name those two teams, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY did, identifying them as being Denver and Washington. (Broncos beat reporter Mike Klis of 9News reported that the Broncos were not one of the two teams and ESPN’s Dianna Russini, via ESPN Radio, claimed that neither Denver or Washington were the teams involved.)
But I digress. After taking some time to think this through and look at both sides of the coin carefully, I concluded that the Giants, who remember had three first-round draft picks, are probably going to get their two defensive players, defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and cornerback DeAndre Baker, on the field from Day 1.
And if you look around the league, only a handful of teams get that opportunity every year to put multiple first-round draft picks on the field immediately out of the chute.
Jones? There is a chance we could see him after the midway mark of the season, depending on how things go.
If not, then it probably wouldn’t be a stretch to predict that the Giants and Manning will go their separate ways after this season when the quarterback’s contract is up, thus allowing Jones to step in without having Manning lurking in the shadows if he were to struggle coming out of the gate.
Last point on Jones. The Giants, under Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur, have brought a very different philosophical style to building and managing a football team that varies from the previous regime of Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin.
The most significant difference is that under Gettleman and Shurmur, once a pick is made and he gets into the building, they don’t sit there and determine who is going to play and who is going to sit based on the player’s draft pedigree.
That was a mistake Reese made for years, as evidenced by how long he held on to his draft picks even when it was as plain as day they were working out.
Coughlin was guilty of that at times as well, refusing to play younger player immediately out of the chute in the earlier part of his tenure with the team (ultimately he eased up on that practice though).
Giants fans probably don’t want to hear this, but future Hall of Fame head coach Bill Belichick took the same approach in New England at quarterback. Does anyone think Belichick gave a flying leap that Tom Brady wasn’t a top-10 draft pick?
No, what Belichick did was forget about where players were drafted, and he rewarded them with playing time they worked hard to earn.
The late Bill Walsh, another Hall of Fame head coach, had a similar philosophy in which once the draft was over, it was up to the players to justify their place on a roster rather than falling back on where they were drafted.
This is the same approach I believe Gettleman and Shurmur are taking regarding this team. Considering how the previous regime’s approach got them into the mess they’re in now, don’t Gettleman and Shurmur at least deserve the benefit of the doubt?
The Giants did attempt to fix the pass rush
In perusing Twitter before writing this column, I was surprised when I read the opinions lamenting the fact that the Giants didn’t address their pass rush.
Dexter Lawrence and Oshane Ximines aside for a moment, correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t solid cornerback play and tight coverage count for something in terms of the pass rush? Are there not things such as coverage sacks, or did the rules change?
The fact that the Giants took three corners in this draft — four if you count Sam Beal who was selected in the supplemental draft last year — screams loud and clear that the coaching staff thought the defensive secondary was a problem last year (and it was).
It also suggests that Janoris Jenkins, who on paper is their best cover corner when he’s healthy, probably won’t finish his contract with this team.
It also tells me that the Giants are going to try to generate a pass rush from all levels of their defense.
It’s early, but my assumption is they’re going to expect the interior defensive guys to push the pocket up the middle (part of the pass rush), so that gaps are created for defensive backs and linebackers to shoot through into the backfield, or so the edge guys can be disruptive.
As for those who are dismissing Ximines as a potential solution to the missing pass rush of the last two seasons because he came from a small school or he wasn’t a first-round talent, may I remind you that Osi Umenyiora also came from a small school and wasn’t a first-rounder. Michael Strahan didn’t’ exactly come from a powerhouse, and he was a second-rounder. And Justin Tuck was a third-rounder.
While the law of roster building would suggest that a high draft pick from a powerhouse program would be the safe pick, that’s not a lock.
Want more proof? Two of the Giants more famous first-round busts whom they were counting on to provide pass rushing pressure were Cedric Jones and William Joseph, guys who didn’t come close to producing what second-rounder Umenyiora and Strahan from the smaller schools or third-rounder Tuck accomplished.
The moral of the story: Success isn’t necessarily determined by where you’re drafted; instead it’s about what’s inside your head and your chest.
What’s the plan at right tackle?
Here is my prediction for right tackle. I believe the Giants and veteran Mike Remmers, once he can pass a physical, are going to agree on a two-year deal that has all the guaranteed money in the first year of the contract.
I also think this year is going to be a learning year not just for Daniel Jones but for George Asafo-Adjei.
If you think about it, this plan, if it comes to fruition, makes sense. Last year, the Giants put a rookie, Will Hernandez, next to Nate Solder. While Hernandez ultimately got up to speed very quickly, often Solder had to help him out there, even if it meant at the expense of his play.
I’m wondering if the Giants decided to take a different approach, whereby the plan is to put a veteran (Remmers, assuming he signs) next to another veteran (Kevin Zeitler) so that when Jones steps int the lineup, he has an experienced line in front of him.
Regarding Asafo-Adjei, that doesn't mean he was a wasted pick. As I noted above, with Gettleman and Shurmur, it’s not necessarily about where a pick was drafted — the kids don’t have any control over that as there are only so many slots available for each round.
But what the kids do have control over is what they do once they set foot in the building, and I have a feeling that’s the expectation for “Big George” as well.