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Big Blue View mailbag, 5/9: Tank for Trevor, scouting changes, pass rush, more

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The mail’s here!

It’s Saturday, which means time for the Big Blue View Mailbag. So, let’s open ‘er up and see what New York Giants questions we can answer this week.

John Littleton asks: In the hopefully unlikely event the Giants finished last overall this upcoming season, do you think the G-Men would consider draftingTrevor Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick, or would they trade it for a King’s ransom? I am sure the development of Daniel Jones, and what he accomplishes this season, would have allot to do with it.

Ed says: John, Bet Online has the Giants favored in only one game but let’s all please pray to the Gods of civil football discourse that the Giants don’t have a season like that. I may just have to shut down comments entirely if the Giants are that bad.

Now, do I think they are going to be that bad? No, I do not. Your question, though, is what happens in the draft if they are?

So, would they consider drafting Trevor Lawrence? Right now I would say no. There will be those (yes, I know you’re lurking and are ready to scream “But, those fumbles”!!!) who complain about Daniel Jones’ rookie season turnovers. Reality is, though, Jones played really well for a rookie quarterback. Especially a rookie quarterback who had to deal with a subpar offensive line and injuries to Saquon Barkley, Even Engram, Rhett Ellison, and Sterling Shepard, among others.

Right now, there are lots of reasons to feel good about Daniel Jones’ future as an NFL quarterback.

If Jones plays more like Mitchell Trubisky than Patrick Mahomes and the Giants are horrid enough to be in position to draft Trevor Lawrence, they probably have to consider it. I would hope, though, that they would come out of 2020 feeling good enough about Jones that they would cash in that draft spot for a plethora of picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. That, to me, would be the best thing. Other, of course, than winning some games and not being in that position.


Neil Sharma asks: Gettleman has drafted lots of DBs McKinney, Holmes, Baker, Love, Ballentine, Beal as well as traded for Peppers while he has only drafted two edge guys (if my memory serves me correct) in Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines. What do you think of Dave Gettleman’s strategy of prioritizing DBs over pass rushers?

Ed says: Neil, I’m not sure it has been as much strategy as it has been circumstance. We know, of course, that there is an analytics-driven argument that secondary play is now more meaningful than pass rush when it comes to playing good defense.

I’m not sure I buy it. Despite what he has done in the past couple of drafts, I’m pretty sure Dave Gettleman and his old-school roots don’t buy it, either.

I think you can be pretty much 100 percent that had the Giants not felt the need to take Daniel Jones at No. 6 a year ago that the choice would have been Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen, who went No. 7 to the Jacksonville Jaguars. I’ve also been assured that edge rusher Brian Burns, who went No. 16 to the Carolina Panthers in that 2019 draft, would not have gotten past the Giants at No. 17 had he still been available.

I do believe Gettleman recognizes, embraces even, that with offenses increasingly spreading the field, using more receivers, and throwing the ball more that collecting quality coverage guys is a necessity.

I think Gettleman has selected all of those defensive backs because a) the Giants have needed them and b) things just haven’t lined up such that he has been able to acquire that elite pass rusher you know he would love to land.


Chris Fiegler asks: Which of the picks that the Giants selected in the 2020 NFL draft do you like the best of all 10?

Ed says: Chris, it’s really hard for me to pick one. Quite honestly, I love what the Giants did with their first three selections.

I know Isaiah Simmons fans are still stinging and will disagree, but the Giants really had no choice but to draft a left tackle at the top of this draft. Did they draft the best one? I don’t know, ask me again in about 10 years. What I do know is that Andrew Thomas was the safest one, the best bet of the group to have a long, productive career as a good NFL left tackle. He may begin on the right, but that won’t last long.

Xavier McKinney with the fourth pick in Round 2 is a selection that has been universally praised. Filling a position of need at No. 36 with the best player in the draft at his position is a home run.

Matt Peart at the end of Round 3? He likely won’t have much impact in 2020. If he develops the way UConn coach Randy Edsall thinks he will and becomes a good starting right tackle in 2021 with Thomas holding down the left side then the Giants would have absolutely crushed their first three selections. I’d take that.


Chris Szala asks: Why did the Giants not draft a wide receiver? The draft was loaded with them. They could have taken Colin Johnson or Antonio Gandy-Golden (whom the Redskins took) but they kept passing on them. Either would have been a nice weapon (Either Red Zone or over the middle type) for DJ. I know they signed a bunch of UFA’s Rysen John mentioned above, Derrick Dillon (LSU) (2 WR’s from Ohio state). Can any one of these contribute to the Giants this year?

Ed says: Chris, I fully expected the Giants to add a wide receiver at some point. If you read the mock drafts I did they always included one or more wide receivers. As the draft unfolded, I think the argument is whether or not one of the Giants’ seven Day 3 selections could or should have been used on a wide receiver.

Let’s look.

In Round 4, the Giants selected cornerback Darney Holmes 110th overall. Wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden, a 6-foot-4, 223-pound receiver who might have been a nice complement to what the Giants already have, went 142nd to Washington. We’ll just have to see how that plays out. If Holmes becomes a quality slot cornerback no one will be complaining.

In Round 5, the Giants selected Shane Lemieux. That’s a pick that has been lauded by many. There is potential there for him to be an eventual starting guard and perhaps a couple of seasons down the line an answer at the troublesome center spot. Tyler Johnson (161st, Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Collin Johnson (165th, Jacksonville Jaguars), Quintez Cephus (166th, Detroit Lions), Isaiah Coulter (171st, Houston Texans) all came off the board before the Giants selected again.

This was probably the sweet spot for a receiver on Day 3. I wouldn’t have batted an eye had the Giants selected any of those four receivers. They chose to try and help the offensive line, a position that has been a problem for years. It’s hard to complain about prioritizing the line.

In Round 6, the Giants chose linebacker Cam Brown 183rd. They passed on a number of receivers, most notably Donovan Peoples-Jones. He went 187th to the Cleveland Browns. Right choice? Wrong choice? We’ll find out.

The Giants made it clear, though, that adding athletic linebackers who could help on special teams as well as potentially on defense was a priority. Credit to them for having a plan and executing it.

In Round 7, there were three wide receivers selected. To be honest, I know little about any of them and none were really on my radar as potential Giants.

As for the undrafted players, I think it’s a lot to expect any undrafted player to make a real impact as a rookie. Now, someone from that group of undrafted wide receivers and young guys who were on the practice squad a year ago is probably going to make the 53/55-man roster. Which one that might be is anybody’s guess.


Joseph Marrongelle asks: The Giants recently terminated three long tenured scouts without any mention of replacements. Do you know the reason for these actions? Did Dave Gettleman make these decisions? If so, what is the purpose of this action? Or is this the decision of Chris Mara? Do you have any knowledge of the Giants restructuring their scouting department? It would be hard to put a positive ranking on the Giants’ drafts over the past decade.

Ed says: Joseph, I know that the Giants fired 20-year veteran scout Ryan Jones and 19-year scout Donnie Etheridge back in February. Steve Verderosa, a scout with the organization for than 30 years, has apparently retired.

Listen, Dave Gettleman did not hire any of these scouts. He inherited the scouting staff when he took the job after Jerry Reese was fired. Gettleman certainly worked with many of them back when he was Giants pro personnel director.

Of course he is slowly restructuring the scouting department. He knows which scouts are good at their jobs and which aren’t. He knows which scouts are delivering players, or which ones are right about guys far more often than they are wrong.

Gettleman has changed the way the Giants grade players. The Giants are, I’m pretty sure, not looking for the exact same types of players now that they may have been under Reese or during the Tom Coughlin era. Gettleman, Chris Mara, John Mara, they know which scouts are with the program, doing things the way the Giants now want them done, and delivering results.

After 20 or 30 years guys can get set in their ways. Or, maybe become a little less passionate about putting in the long hours and the travel. I don’t know the reasons why each guy was let go, but I do know if you don’t deliver or don’t do the job the way your boss wants it done, you get replaced.


Minnesota Vikings v New York Giants Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Bruce Frazer asks: From among the defensive players currently on the roster, who in your view has the greatest upside regarding the pass rush? Perhaps Lorenzo Carter finally has a breakout year, or one of the players brought in this year, either a free agent or rookie makes a move as a sack leader.

Ed says: Greatest upside? For me, that’s easy. X-Man — Oshane Ximines. My guess is that at least as a pass rusher Ximines is going to surpass Carter in 2021.

Remember how enthusiastic Gettleman was about Ximines’ upside when he drafted him? This is part of what he said:

“Most of the kids coming out of college have their move when they come off the ball, or they come of the ball they know what they want to do, and if the tackle thwarts them, they don’t know what to do. They’re not power rushers, they get stuck. Oshane can counter punch.”

Fact is, though, Ximines played at Old Dominion and did not face great competition. The Giants knew from the jump that the 6-foot-4, 252-pound Ximines was going to face an adjustment, and that he might not be strong enough just yet to hold up as an edge defender against the run.

Ximines produced 4.5 sacks, the same number as Carter, in 220 fewer snaps. X-Man would be my choice as a guy who might step forward as a difference-making pass rusher in 2020.