The 2020 NFL Draft posed a challenge to teams this year because of the virtual format, as coaches, general managers, and NFL-hopeful’s around the country aimed to create or celebrate the future of their franchise’s from the confines of living rooms.
Yet despite the strange circumstances, John Mara told the New York Post that he was very pleased with strategy between new head coach Joe Judge and general manager Dave Gettleman.
“I thought it went far more smoothly than I ever could have imagined,” Mara said.
The virtual format of the draft forced coaches and GM’s to navigate uncharted territory, but Mara said that he thought the communication between Judge and Gettleman helped the New York Giants have a successful draft overall.
“There’s a lot of discussions, a lot of meetings, and I was really pleased with the way the whole team operated,” Mara said. “They obviously respect one another, and I was very pleased with how it all worked out. You never know how that’s gonna work out with a new head coach and a general manager that’s been around the league for a while, and I thought that their communication was excellent.”
While Mara said that the two men do not always see eye to eye, they have a guiding mutual respect that infused the draft process.
“I don’t think they agree 100 percent of the time, but I think they have a lot of respect for one another and they talk it through, and that was pretty evident during this entire process,” Mara said.
And Mara is pleased with the results of the draft as a whole. The Giants went all-in on improving their offensive line, drafting tackle Andrew Thomas with the No. 4 overall pick and then adding tackle Matt Peart in the third round and guard Shane Lemieux in the fifth round.
“These guys gotta prove themselves as players, but that was the focus going into the draft,” Mara said. “It’s something I’ve been banging on them for a while, we really had to get this fixed once and for all.
“In football, once you have the quarterback, you better have an offensive line. It sets the tone for the rest of the team, and if you’re not blocking for the quarterback or for the running back, then you have very little chance.”
Mara feels confident in quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley. And now with what will hopefully be an improved offensive line, Mara is excited for an improved offensive line in the future.
Losing a third round pick required the Giants to wait to No. 99 overall after selecting Xavier McKinney with No. 36.
While Gettleman faced a lot of criticism for giving up a third-round pick to acquire Leonard Williams from the New York Jets last season, Mara fully supported his general manager and said that he is glad to have brought Gettleman back.
“Leonard Williams is better than any player we could have drafted in the third round this year, that much I will say,” Mara said. “And we hope at some point to get him signed.”
The Giants also drafted linebacker Carter Coughlin in the seventh round, who has no relation to Tom Coughlin, as one of four total linebackers they selected.
“You can always use more pass rushers,” Mara said. “I’m comforted by the fact that our defensive staff and the head coach seem to like the guys that we have.”
While Mara is hopeful about the progress made in the draft, he knows that, above all, fans deserve wins.
“I do believe that we’re on the right path,” Mara said. “But I’m sure our fans are saying, ‘I’ve heard you say that before.’ So until we start winning games, I understand there’s gonna be some doubt. But I do feel good about where we are right now.
“I thought we did a good job in free agency,” Mara added. “We should be a better team this year; we better be a better team this year.”