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Big Blue View mailbag, 3/7: Jack Conklin, draft scenarios, more questions

The mail’s here!

NFL free agency is almost here. New York Giants fans have questions about that, and the upcoming NFL Draft. Let’s open the Big Blue View Mailbag and see what pops out.

Jay B asks: Is Conklin the key or X factor to the Giants draft? I believe there are four special talents in this draft: Chase Young, Jeffery Okudah, Isaiah Simmons, and Derrick Brown. When Getty took Barkley he believed he was a special talent and when you are picking that high you need to make sure you are in position to get one of those guys. Conklin seems like the guy Getty has to throw a boat load of money at in order to unlock this draft and allow them to go BPA. And if they are going BPA I don’t know if any of these tackles in the draft has separated themselves enough to be taken number four overall and although this is a very strong tackle class nobody is saying any of these guys is Jonathan Ogden or Joe Thomas. Again, is Conklin the key to this draft?

Ed says: Jay, I have said a number of times that I believe whether or not the Giants are able to sign Tennessee Titans’ right tackle Jack Conklin could be the biggest determining factor in how the draft plays out. The Giants have to do a couple of things this offseason — address the tackle and center positions on the offensive line and add as much defensive talent as possible without giving out ridiculous free agent contracts they will end up regretting.

Signing Conklin would give them flexibility with their first pick. giving them more justification for passing on an offensive tackle and using it on defense. That said, I do not think Conklin to the Giants is happening. I think the Giants will be drafting an offensive tackle in Round 1 and using free agency to supplement the defense the best they can.

Taj Siddiqi asks: Is their any entity related to NFL or otherwise which keep tabs on a team’s scouts and rate their performance? Like players get graded. If so what is the ranking of Giants current group of scouts? And how they compare to scouting department of other teams specially NFC East teams?

Ed says: Taj, there is no “entity” that grades scouts. Each team evaluates the performance of their employees in different ways. What some NFL teams do is compare pre-draft grades scouts put on player to eventual outcomes to see who predicted success at certain positions most often. That may help teams weed out scouts who simply aren’t right often enough, and perhaps to identify that a scout may be really good evaluating some positions but not others. NFL teams have their scouts cross check each other by doing multiple evaluations of a player, and this type of system helps identify where cross checks might be most useful. I don’t know if the Giants use a system like this.

Joseph Galiszewski asks: What player if he slipped out of the 1st round would you like to see the Giants grab in the 2nd? Mine would be Ruggs. You can’t teach speed, you either have it or you don’t, but you can teach what to do with all that speed. I believe if Ruggs were drafted, with he and Slayton, the deep ball would be a major problem for defenses. Additionally, one or both would be doubled, leaving the LB’s to cover the slot receiver, a speedy Engram and Barkley coming out of the backfield. Could possibly open up the short passing game.

Additionally, there are several current and former Special Team coaches in which a guy like Ruggs could be taught to be a returner. He probably won’t make it past the 1st, given the success KC had with their speedy receivers who find ways to get open in a copy cat league.

Ruggs is mine, who would you like?

Ed says: Joseph, I think it is waaaaaaay too early to even properly consider that question. I certainly get your attachment to Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs, but my view is there is little to no chance he becomes a Giant unless Dave Gettleman somehow acquires a second first-round pick.

I can’t answer the question properly until I see how free agency plays out. Really, until free agency plays out and I know who the Giants’ first pick is. I’m kind of hoping Michigan center Cesar Ruiz or Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun make it to No. 36, but again there are a lot of things that have to play out before I can tell you who I’d really pine for in that spot.

Jerry Panza asks: The Giants have been living on the cheap for too long ponying up on defense. Ed I hope we will make a play on Ngakoue or someone of his caliber. Not to disparage a guy like Shaq Barrett but I think his numbers are nice but JPP on the other side was a huge factor for him getting so many of his 19+ sack. Do you think DG jumps into the deep end of the pool in free agency.

Ed says: Jerry, I think Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, a young, productive edge rusher who should just be entering his prime, would be a great get for the Giants. Unfortunately, with Jacksonville expected to franchise him I think a tag-and-trade with the Jaguars is unlikely.

Do I think Dave Gettleman jumps into the deep end of the pool? If you mean by throwing gobs of money at Jadaveon Clowney, I hope not. I think the Giants should use their cap space smartly, by adding as many good players defensively as they can. I would be happy to see Logan Ryan or Bradley Roby added at cornerback instead of paying top dollar for Byron Jones. I would be happy with adding someone like Kyle Van Noy. I might spend big money on a three-down linebacker like Cory Littleton, but the Giants can’t just throw money at the problem. The last time they did that — 2016 — it worked for a little while and then fell apart.

After spending two years digging out of a salary cap mess I don’t want to see Gettleman throw money around like crazy and put the Giants right back in a cap mess.

Jeff Newman asks: During your recent podcast with Patricia Traina​, you discussed the possibility of a trade down from #4 with the Raiders for their #12 and #19 picks. You both said you would be on board if that happens. Can you dive a little deeper into that? Do you think any of the top four offensive linemen might still be available at 12? Can you give a few names and positions of players you can envision the Giants selecting at 12 and 19?

Ed says: Jeff, as you probably know each Sunday leading up to the draft I run scenarios and do mock drafts. I don’t do them to be right — I do them to present for discussion different ways things could turn out. I also do them as a learning experience for myself, so that I get to know more players and try to gain an understanding of how things could unfold.

One thing I have learned — you can trade all the way down to No. 12 and still get a really good player. Maybe even a player you would have targeted at No. 4 to begin with. I’m pretty certain at least one of the top four offensive tackles would be there. At least one if not both the top wide receivers, CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy, would be there. Really good defensive players like linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson and safety Xavier McKinney of Alabama would probably be there.

With the pick at 19? You’re into the back half of the first round and the targets would largely depend on how free agency played out. An offensive tackle like Josh Jones of Houston might be there. A linebacker like Patrick Queen. An edge like A.J. Epenesa or Yetur Gross-Matos. There will be wide receivers worthy of the pick. Maybe you land a cornerback like Kristian Fulton or C.J. Henderson.

If you get picks 12 and 19 I think you still get a Day 1 offensive line starter even if it’s not the one guy you covet, and you add a top-tier defensive player or difference-making wide receiver.

Jack MacMullen asks: I am beginning to get nervous re: Gettlemen’s 1st pick. Have been hearing, more than I like, the possibility that he could take Derrick Brown, even if they sign Leonard Williams. I realize he loves the “hog mollies,” but D-Line may already be our best unit (not saying much) on the defense.

If he somehow maneuvers a trade to get him, and one of the other “studs” at a prime position of need, maybe I could live with it. Can’t believe that, with all the new decision makers in the room, this could possibly happen. It would definitely be a “remote throwing” moment.

Please give us your thoughts on this, especially on how possible you believe this might happen.

Ed says: First, Jack — and everybody else — if you throw the remote do not throw it at something you will regret breaking, like your TV.

Now, as for your actual question please don’t spend the next two months obsessing over every tweet or every “I hear the Giants might do such and such” report at No. 4 that you read. Of course, if you do that it helps me by driving page views. It will also drive you insane. You will hear all kinds of stuff, mostly because teams will spread all kinds of information trying to hide their real intentions.

Let’s see how free agency plays out. Let’s see if Leonard Williams is back, and what holes the Giants are able or unable to fill in free agency. That will tell us a lot about what the Giants will do during the draft.

By the way, would you really want to throw the remote if the Giants drafted one of the best five players in the draft? A guy former NFL defensive lineman Stephen White believes is the best interior pass rusher he has watched since Aaron Donald, and a guy he believes is every bit as good as Chase Young?

It may seem like overkill because of the position. You know what, though? Drafting great players is never really a bad idea. If Brown is really that good you pick him, trade Dalvin Tomlinson for a draft pick and move on.

Thomas Campbell asks: Has there any talk of making Evan Engram a wideout?

Ed says: Thomas, this question just won’t go away. It comes up over and over and over. The answer is, the only talk of making Engram a wide receiver comes from the fan base. You make him a wide receiver, you take away the speed advantage he has on linebackers and free safeties trying to cover him. Everybody in the league is looking for that pass-catching tight end who is a nightmare matchup. The Giants have one. Why would they mess with that. I would like to see them split Engram off the line of scrimmage or motion him more often, but not make him a true wide receiver. This is a great draft for receivers. Take advantage of that. Besides, Engram is in a walking boot and reportedly won’t practice until training camp. Hard to change positions when you can’t practice.

Christopher May asks: With a new head coach familiar with the Pats way. Two former head coaches. And a strong willed General Manager. How do you see the NYG 2020 Draft being different from previous years?? Will the board be different and how so?

Ed says: Joe Judge will have input. Just like Pat Shurmur had input. Dave Gettleman doesn’t force players on the coaching staff. He says continually that it’s a collaborative effort. It’s his job to know the types of players the coaching staff wants and along with staff of scouts and personnel people to identify players who fit. Those who say I take every chance to bash former GM Jerry Reese will take offense to this, but that’s an area where I thought Reese failed in his final years with Tom Coughlin. I thought Reese drafted and signed as free agents too many players he wanted or liked, but who really didn’t fit what Coughlin and his coaching staff were trying to do. It just doesn’t work when your coach and GM, who both might be knowledgeable people in their own ways, don’t see things the same way.

The board is always different because each year your roster, your needs and the strengths and weaknesses of the draft class are different. The big question this year is whether the Giants will trade down from No. 4. That’s something Gettleman has never done, but we’ve said again and again that the strength of this draft class and the quarterback-needy teams sitting right behind the Giants in the draft order make this a year where it could make sense. Whether that is a Judge influence or whether that is Gettleman and the Giants as a group concluding the best alternative will be be moving down a couple of spots is hard to say.