We’re in the dog days of summer. The NFL draft is long past, and the New York Giants won’t be coming together for training camp for another month and a half yet (hopefully). Generally speaking, this is the slowest period of the NFL’s calendar, the time when players and coaches usually take their vacations or are doing work preparing for the year to come.
And while the phrase “no news is good news” rings the most true this time of year, it can be a bit tough on content producers like your’s truly. Here at BBV, we like to take the opportunity to preview the coming year with things like our player-by-player roster preview or dive into the nuts and bolts of football with the Summer School series.
Over at ESPN, they took the opportunity to have a fun and interesting exercise: redrafting the NFL.
Monday morning, ESPN released a 4-round draft in which every player currently in the NFL was drafted. The re-draft used the 2020 NFL draft order, giving the Giants the fourth overall selection.
- Every current NFL player is available, and salary caps don’t matter here. But we only drafted four rounds.
- In those four picks, each pretend GM had to select a quarterback, a non-QB offensive player and a defensive player. The fourth pick was a wild card, open to anything.
- We used the 2020 NFL draft order, with traded picks reversed, and a snaking format.
- What about the other 20 starters for each team? The rest of the roster is made up of average-level NFL talent. Our analytics team identifies that as someone such as OT Donovan Smith, edge rusher Harold Landry III or CB Malcolm Butler.
- Each GM was asked to draft with intentions of winning a Super Bowl within five years. Some took a harder line, while others built a base that might still need a year or two.
4. New York Giants
If you don’t have a quarterback, you don’t have a chance. It’s really that simple. And Watson has produced 64 total touchdowns in the past two seasons — only Mahomes and Wilson had more — and did it behind a really bad offensive line.
After that, I had to wait awhile (57 picks) but still tabbed one of the league’s best pass-rushers in Ngakoue. Again, positional value was key. I got the most important offensive position with my first pick and the most important defensive position with my second. An All-Pro tackle in the third round helps give Watson’s line talent he hadn’t seen in Houston. And put fourth-rounder Robinson with Watson instead of Mitchell Trubisky and you’ll see the star ability. This is a core that would win multiple Super Bowls. — Jordan Raanan
Stat to know: Watson — the first player in NFL history with at least 25 touchdown passes and five rushing touchdowns in consecutive seasons — and Robinson should be able to connect for some tough completions; Robinson had the third-most receptions (18) on tight-window throws last season, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
Mike Clay’s draft grade: Tier 1. It feels like Watson remains a bit underrated by the general consensus, so I’m glad he got some respect here. And then Raanan found good value the rest of the way.
I gotta like what Ranaan did with this draft. Watson has been a great but underrated quarterback since entering the league. Some of that is likely due to the injury suffered his second year, and some of that is due to being on a team that appears rudderless. The combination of Watson and Allen Robinson II could be dynamite, and Robinson would likely be an incredible steal in the fourth round. He has played like a true “number 1” receiver despite being saddled with Blake Bortles and Mitchell Trubisky in his time in the NFL. Getting to catch passes from Watson would be like a dream come true for Robinson.
If I were doing the drafting I might have drafted WR A.J. Green (Arizoa, 72nd overall) instead of Terron Armstead in the third round. The rules of the draft basically let us assume that the other starting positions will be “league average”. With that in mind, I tend to think that having dynamic players at two of my three receiver positions (instead of 1 out of 3) would have a bigger impact than having one great offensive lineman and four average ones. And considering Watson and the Houston Texans were able to come up with an 11-win season in 2018 and a 10-win season in 2019 despite fielding — arguably — the worst pass protecting offensive line in the NFL over that stretch, simply giving Watson an average offensive line is a massive upgrade.
That being said, I certainly won’t say “no” to a great offensive tackle.
All told, I do think a team with these four players at its core has a shot at winning the Super Bowl within five years.