Let’s look at what the New York Giants did on the third day of the 2020 NFL Draft.
PICK 110: Darnay Holmes, CB, UCLA
Holmes started 33 of 35 games for the Bruins while earning Honorable Mention All-Pac 12 in the last two seasons. A former five-star recruit. Holmes was technically a junior but earned a Senior Bowl bid because he earned enough credits to graduate. Holmes took 31 credits during a summer semester to accelerate his graduation process. He’s a very bright young man, who is lauded for his work ethic, which is something that Dave Gettleman has certainly prioritized in this draft. Holmes had 28 passes defensed and 8 interceptions during his time with UCLA, while playing the boundary cornerback role for the Bruins; he lined up 248 times on the left side and 301 times on the right side, with only 16 snaps in the slot. Doesn’t possess the size to effectively play boundary in the NFL, 5-foot-9, 195 pounds, with sub-30-inch arms, but he’s a solid overall athlete. Played a ton of man coverage at UCLA.
A solid athlete, who has smooth acceleration, when running straight line or laterally, but not as much when flipping and turning. Hips are adequate, but not ideal in space; there’s a slight hitch, and he can rise a little bit, affecting the fluidity of the turn. Transitions aren’t great and it affects his coverage spacing. Holmes is an adequate man coverage corner, with a lack of length; he could improve his stickiness on the top of route breaks. LOS skills aren’t ideal; they allowed receivers to win at the line of scrimmage and didn’t prevent them from stacking on top, effectively giving the receiver excellent position. Holmes is a pest up the stem for receivers. A high competitor, who does everything in his power to disrupt the catch point. A solid overall tackler for a corner, with a limited tackle radius, but he will fly in and deliver big shots to defenders that don’t have straight-line momentum.
Holmes will compete with Grant Haley, Dravon Askew-Henry, and Corey Ballentine for the slot-corner position. I like all of the intangibles that Holmes possesses, but there was an opportunity cost to selecting Holmes here. I personally liked Troy Pride Jr a bit more than Holmes. With that being said, he’ll compete for quality snaps, in a crowded young secondary room, while being a solid special teamer.
PICK 150: Shane Lemieux, IOL, Oregon
Going into the draft, the Giants were in desperate need of Hog Mollies. Gettleman was hungry to find these big bodies, run blocking, pass protecting, men to protect Daniel Jones and maximize Saquon Barkley’s excellent skill-set. Gettleman was fed; in the first three rounds, the Giants added Georgia’s Andrew Thomas and Uconn’s Matt Peart. On Day 3, with pick 150, Shane Lemieux was added to bolster the depth of the offensive line.
Lemieux started 52 of 52 games for the Ducks. Was an honorable mention All-Pac 12 Academic Athlete in 2016 & 2017, while earning 2nd Team All-Pac 12 in 2018. A 2nd Team All-American in 2019, while being a team captain. Lemieux isn’t a great athlete, but he’s functionally sound. Is a mauler in the run game; will dominate and drive through his blocks. He’s excellent in a phone booth and brings a lot of violence to his game. He has heavy hands and is a fierce competitor. The million-dollar question must be posed - can Lemieux transition to center after starting exclusively at left guard? Time will tell.
PICK 183: Cam Brown, LB, Penn State
The Giants passed on Isaiah Simmons to go with a franchise left tackle; can’t argue that. But in doing so, the Giants missed out on a second-level defender, with quality range, and long arms. At pick 183, the Giants add the former Nittany Lion, who has 34-inch arms and is 6-foot-6. Nowhere near the prospect of Simmons, but I like the addition for a few reasons. Brown had 72 tackles, 5.5 for a loss, 2 sacks, and 4 passes defensed in 2019. Brown is also a team captain, and I love how Gettleman is stressing leadership, and culture.
Brown is versatile, a high-cut athletic linebacker with solid range, possesses good change of direction skills for his frame, and he’s so long. Length at the second-level to close quarterback’s throwing windows and provide a very wide tackle radius. He’s not as polished as Zach Cunningham, who was drafted out of Vanderbilt in 2017 by the Texans, but his length is similar to Cunningham’s. Should be an elite special teamer. His length and solid explosiveness could make a huge difference in blocking kicks, punts, and making tackles down the field.
Brown is versatile and isn’t terrible at anything. But conversely, he doesn’t excel with anything either - he’s just a solid football player. Could be better at the point of attack against the run; uses length well to keep blocks off him. Can get pushed back when his pad level rises. Instinct isn’t great either within the box; plays with patience, but doesn’t attack or recognize the early developments of a running play. Spatial awareness in zone coverage could be better too, which would maximize his length and effectiveness. I’m excited to dive into his film a bit more, but those were my notes from the Senior Bowl, and from the film I did see of Brown.
PICK 218: Carter Coughlin, EDGE, Minnesota
It’s the seventh round and the Giants finally address the EDGE position. The EDGE class was rather weak in 2020, and I’m glad Gettleman didn’t overdraft a prospect to fill a need. He was much more productive in 2018, but offenses keyed on him in 2019, so his production tailed off. Went from 15 tackles for a loss in 2018, to 9.5 in 2019, and 9.5 sacks to 4.5. Back in February I wrote about Coughlin being a potential fit for the Giants.
Coughlin is a good athlete, who is an incredibly hard worker, who provides solid juice as a pass rusher. He has several different pass-rushing moves, counter moves, and he has decent explosiveness. I’ve seen him convert speed to power, which is encouraging. I can see why the Giants liked him from a physical standpoint as well; his 10-yard split was in the 99th percentile for EDGE players. The Giants love these prospects who can plant their foot in the ground and explode downhill quickly. That immediate acceleration is important to Dave Gettleman, which I love. It was one of the many reasons why he drafted Ryan Connolly in the fifth round last year. Coughlin struggles with strength and power at the point of attack; he could be a liability against the run at the NFL level and carries some tweener traits, with a thin 6-foot-3, 236-pound frame. Lacks ideal length too, which will work against him, but he could crack the active roster for the Giants, due to the dearth of proven talent at the EDGE position. His work ethic, motor, and hand usage are positives, but he needs to get stronger to earn anything more than a situational pass-rushing role.
PICK 238: T.J. Brunson, ILB, South Carolina
The Giants added quite a few linebackers in the back end of the 2020 NFL Draft. Brunson is a physical, smart, player who has 2 down capabilities. Brunson was constantly vocal on his defense and maneuvered the box well. Was at the Senior Bowl, but was a combine snub. He’s 6 foot, 219 pounds, with 31 ⅞-inch arms. Like essentially all of Gettleman’s picks in 2020, Brunson has a ton of experience. He started in 38 of 49 career games. He isn’t known for his coverage and doesn’t have sideline to sideline range, but he brings the hammer as a run defender near the line of scrimmage. His tackling in space could use some work; mechanics break down and he can get wild. All in all, I feel Brunson will compete with Mr. Irrelevant himself, Tae Crowder, for an active roster spot. Brunson has to clean up a few things, but his intelligence, leadership, and tough physical nature is valuable, and I am sure Coach Joe Judge loves it.
PICK 247: Chris Williamson, CB, Minnesota
Williamson transferred out of Florida in 2017 and found a new groove with P.J. Fleck and the Golden Gophers. Williams played the majority of his 2019 snaps in the slot while splitting those snaps between the slot and boundary in 2018. Fleck described him as a leader of the team, which is important to note because he was a transfer. Was in St. Petersberg, Fla., back in January for the East-West Shrine Game, and reportedly practiced well. He’ll have an uphill climb to crack the roster. I do wonder if the addition of Williamson and UCLA’s Darnay Holmes spells trouble for Corey Ballentine and Sam Beal. It could mean the confidence in the latter two players has waned. It should be an interesting training camp if the Giants receive that opportunity.
PICK 255: Tae Crowder, ILB, Georgia
The Giants are hoping 2020’s Mr. Irrelevant, isn’t so irrelevant. Crowder has two years of starting experience for the Bulldogs and is a physical thumper, similar to Brunson. He’s smart, good within the box, and is a sure tackler. Not as much length as Cam Brown, but he’s a long 2nd level player, who does a good job taking on blocks, due to his length and size (6’3, 235 pounds). Had 48 tackles and 4.5 tackles for a loss in 2019. May not excel in coverage, but should compete with Brunson for a roster spot. Given the lack of depth at the linebacker position, both could make this roster. Crowder joins Andrew Thomas, Lorenzo Carter, and DeAndre Baker as Bulldogs that were drafted to the Giants by Gettleman. Welcome to New York, Mr. Irrelevant!