No offense to either Evan Engram or Dalvin Tomlinson. Both are good players, but had yours truly been the GM of the New York Giants in 2017 rather than Jerry Reese neither player would have been the selection by the Giants in the first two rounds.
Given the decision-making power, yours truly would have taken offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk with the 23rd pick rather than Engram. The Giants, as they have for years, needed an offensive tackle. Ramczyk has been a rock-solid right tackle for three seasons with the New Orleans Saints and was voted first-team All-Pro in 2019. He also made the 2017 All-Rookie Team.
Tomlinson, selected 55th overall, has been a good player. Yours truly would have selected linebacker Zach Cunningham, who went two picks later to the Houston Texans. Cunningham has 339 tackles in three seasons, including 142 in 2019, and could have been the impact inside linebacker the Giants have needed for a long, long time.
Why am I droning on about this now? It’s not to bash Reese, the former GM. It’s simply because our friends at SB Nation have offered Big Blue View football writers the opportunity to re-draft those first two rounds in 2017.
Here is how it turned out for the Giants with me in the role of GM and our Nick Falato in the role of advisor/college scouting director.
Round 1 (No. 23) — Taylor Moton, OT, Western Michigan
Honestly, I held out hope here that Ramczyk would last until the 23rd pick. I pretty much knew that wasn’t going to happen, though, and it did not. He went No. 9 to the Cincinnati Bengals, a much better selection than their original choice of wide receiver John Ross.
Engram (No. 32, New Orleans Saints) was still on the board here. I went with the player we felt was the best offensive tackle on the board in Moton. He has been Carolina’s starting right tackle the past two seasons after originally being selected 64th overall, the final pick of the second round.
This Pro Football Focus post from prior to the 2019 season tells you what Moton might have brought to the Giants.
Round 2 (No. 55) — Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
I had a bit of a quandary here. Cunningham went No. 37 to the Los Angeles Rams. I was targeting tight end David Njoku here, a player we talked endlessly about as a potential Round 1 pick back in 2017. The silly Miami Dolphins went and took Njoku at 54, though.
I had an inkling here to take linebacker Jarrad Davis, who went to the Detroit Lions at No. 21 in the real draft but was still on the board here. Because I’m not a dictator and I listen to my scouts, we decided to pass on Davis and select Peppers instead.
In the real draft, Peppers went 25th to the Browns and eventually ended up with the Giants as a central piece in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade.
Now, in 2017 Peppers would have been a bit of a difficult fit with the Giants as Landon Collins was coming off an All-Pro year and the two have similar skill sets. This was a best player available pick made with trust that then-defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo would figure out how to employ both Collins and Peppers.