The New York Giants book-ended their 2020 NFL Draft with a pair of Georgia Bulldogs. They took Andrew Thomas No. 4 overall to be their eventual franchise left tackle. They finished the draft by making Georgia linebacker Tae Crowder their last pick, and the final one of the draft at No. 255 overall.
One of the wonderful things about SB Nation is the rich and talented network of writers we have who cover teams in all the major sports. With that in mind, I reached out to SB Nation’s Georgia website, Dawg Sports, for some insight. Thus, my guest on this edition of the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast is Jeremy Attaway.
We talk extensively about Thomas and Crowder. As a bonus, we also talk about former Georgia players and current Giants Lorenzo Carter and DeAndre Baker.
Here is the full episode:
Let’s go through some of what Attaway and I discussed.
Attaway is likely biased, but he agreed with the Giants’ debated decision to make Thomas the first offensive tackle selected in the draft.
“I think in terms of NFL potential Andrew Thomas was the guy I would have circled as the top available tackle,” Attaway said. “He’s got the size you want at 6-5, 325, incredible wingspan, filled out lower body, great upper body strength, very heady player.”
At the same time, Attaway admitted to me that he didn’t think Thomas would land with the Giants.
“Knowing what we know now it looked like there were a lot of teams who liked Andrew Thomas as much as Georgia fans do, and they were trying to keep quiet about it,” he said.
Attaway doesn’t doubt that Thomas will be able to at least hold his own immediately against NFL pass rushers.
“One of the assurances that you have when you take a guy like Andrew Thomas is that he has lined up against the Alabama defensive front, the LSU defensive front. He’s lined up against Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl. He’s seen a lot of guys who he will see in the NFL already,” Attaway said.
The Giants finished the draft, and a run on defensive players, by making Crowder the fourth linebacker they selected in their final five picks.
What are the Giants getting in this former running back turned inside linebacker?
Attaway said Crowder “always had kind of a linebacker’s attitude on the field. He’s a guy who likes to hit.”
Crowder “really took to the position” after switching there for his final two seasons at Georgia.
“He is still learning it. He does have a lot of upside. Clearly has the physical tools, clearly has the attitude. He probably just needs to continue to refine his game,” Attaway said. “If the Giants are willing to allow him to do that I think by Year 3 they may have a guy that’s a key piece.”
In the meantime, Attaway said the Giants can expect Crowder to be a quality player on kick coverage teams.
The Giants are still waiting for the 218 third-round pick to harness the potential his vast physical gifts make you believe he has.
Going back to his days with the Bulldogs Cater has always been a player who, as a scout might say, looked good on the hoof. Problem is, Carter’s production has yet to match his physical gifts. It was that way at Georgia. It has been that way so far with the Giants.
Entering his third season in the NFL, is that ever going to change?
“I think he’s definitely got the physical ability and the upside to do that,” Attaway said. “Does he put it together in Year 3? It’s entirely possible.
“I think it’s still a situation where that very well could happen with him.”
Watching Baker flounder throughout most of his rookie season, it was easy to wonder what in the world the Giants were thinking when they gave up the 132nd and 142nd picks in the draft to move up from 37 to 30 and select the Georgia cornberback.
Attaway knows why the Giants did it.
“To be honest, DeAndre Baker is the most effective college cornerback I’ve ever seen,” Attaway said.
The Giants didn’t see that player in 2019. They saw an unsure player who was overmatched much of the year, surrendering 6 touchdown passes and allowing a 116.2 passer rating against.
“A guy who’s clearly got all the physical tools to be a lockdown cornerback in the NFL,” said Attaway of Baker. “He’s got the size, he’s aggressive, he’s got great recovery speed. I’m not worried about that.
“It’s pretty obvious to everyone that he suffered some growing pains.”
Attaway said the version of Baker the Giants saw, a player who admitted late in the year he still wasn’t sure of the playbook and who had his work ethic questioned, isn’t the same guy he saw at Georgia.
“DeAndre Baker when he was at Georgia is a guy who had a great work ethic. He was a leader on the team, had a good approach to the game, showed up ready to play,” Attaway said. “I think he’ll get it ... I wouldn’t give up on him just yet, but definitely not the rookie season I think he was anticipating and definitely the rookie season Giants fans were hoping for, either.”