Back in the days of the 16-game schedule we had easy ways to divide the season. Just like a game, the schedule could be easily divvied up into four quarters or first and second halves. That made for convenient mile markers for releasing things
At Week 10 we’re roughly half way through the 17-game 2021 season, and various outlets (including right here at BBV) are taking stock of how things stand after 9 games.
NFL.com draft expert Daniel Jeremiah released his list of the top-25 rookies on Wednesday. The good news is that the New York Giants have two rookies who made the list: WR Kadarius Toney and EDGE Azeez Ojulari. The less-good news is that they aren’t as high on the list as the Giants might have preferred and there are players they might have drafted who are playing better than the Giants’ rookies.
So, going by Jeremiah’s evaluation, did the Giants make the right choice at 11th overall?
Let’s start by taking a look at the first 10 picks and eliminate the players the Giants had no chance of drafting.
Top 10 draft picks
(note: italicized numbers are Daniel Jeremiah’s rankings)
- Jacksonville Jaguars - Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson) - 11th
- New York Jets - Zach Wilson (QB, BYU) - N/A
- San Francisco 49ers - Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State) - N/A
- Atlanta Falcons - Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida) - 4th
- Cincinnati Bengals - Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU) - 2nd
- Miami Dolphins - Jaylen Waddle (WR, Alabama) - 15th
- Detroit Lions - Penei Sewell (OT, Oregon) - N/A
- Carolina Panthers - Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina) - injured
- Denver Broncos - Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama) - 12th
- Philadelphia Eagles - trade with Cowboys - Devonte Smith (WR, Alabma) - 10th
So that brings us to the Giants at 11th overall. As we all know by now, the Giants executed a trade down with the Chicago Bears, getting the 20th overall pick and Chicago’s 2022 first round pick.
The Giants selected Toney No. 20, who Jeremiah ranked 23rd on his list and said this: “Toney is extremely explosive and it pops when you watch the tape. He gives the Giants something they desperately needed on offense.”
The Bears selected QB Justin Fields out of Ohio State, who Jeremiah ranked at 20th and said this: “Fields had a rough start to the season, but he’s really stepped up in the past two weeks. He is pushing the ball vertically and he’s using his legs to create offense.”
Now, I’m not going to even try to get into whether the Giants should have drafted Fields (or Mac Jones, who Jeremiah has ranked fifth among all rookies). That might be a hot-button topic in a couple years if Fields and Mac Jones keep improving, but I absolutely do not need to open that can of worms today.
Instead, I want to look at the players still available at 11th overall when the Giants traded down and see what Jeremiah thinks of them. And there’s really only one place to start: Former Penn State and current Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons.
Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State) - Drafted 12th overall, ranked 1st
Parsons should be in the mix for Defensive Player of the Year. He’s been that dominant on a weekly basis.
Rashawn Slater (OT, Northwestern) - Drafted 13th overall, ranked 3rd
Slater has played at a Pro Bowl level. He’s dominant in pass protection and creates a ton of movement in the run game.
Alijah Vera-Tucker (OG, USC) - Drafted 14th overall, ranked 19th
Vera-Tucker has steadily improved throughout the season. I love his instincts in pass protection and his power in the run game.
There are also a couple players the Giants could have drafted at No. 11 who were generally thought of as potential picks at that position. However, they surprisingly slid out of the first round yet have far out-played their draft position.
Creed Humphrey (C, Oklahoma) - Drafted 63rd overall, ranked 7th
Humphrey is a solid foundational piece for the Chiefs’ new-look offensive line. He’s technically sound and reliable in both run and pass blocking.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoa (LB, Notre Dame) - Drafted 52nd overall, ranked 18th
Owusu-Koramoah would be much higher on this list if he hadn’t missed the last three games due to injury. He’s a Swiss Army Knife, capable of playing just about any position in the back seven.
Azeez Ojulari (EDGE, Georgia) - Drafted 50th, ranked 24th
Ojulari plays hard and has a knack for rushing the passer. He’s been very productive contributing to one of the most underrated fronts in the NFL.
Did the Giants make the right choice?
Okay, I’m going to say this right up front: You can’t grade a draft choice until (at least) three years down the line. Development isn’t linear, and some prospects sputter as rookies only to catch on in years 2 and 3. Or, on the flip side, some prospects start their careers strong only to fade away in subsequent seasons.
I also want to be clear that I’m judging based on Jeremiah’s evaluations, since his list is the basis for this piece.
That being said, as things stand right now it’s tough to say that Micah Parsons and Rashawn Slater wouldn’t have been better picks. Either would have been a marked upgrade to either the defense or offense.
The Giants were clearly playing with fire when they decided to not address their offensive line this past offseason. It was expected to be one of the weakest lines in the NFL, and that was before it was ravaged by injury. Slater would have given them more depth and much more reliable play up front, which in turn could have helped the entire offense.
We also saw Alijah Vera-Tucker appear in a few mock drafts for the Giants and he was regarded as a solid potential pick at 11th — though the positional value might have been a bit off. Again, Vera-Tucker would have made the Giants’ decision to move on from Kevin Zeitler much less concerning and likely would have helped both their run and pass blocking.
I readily admit my bias for Parsons. He was the player I wanted the Giants to draft dating back to before the 2021 season even started. Parsons was widely regarded as one of the five (or three) best players in the entire draft last year and is simply the best player to come out of the draft at this point. His background as an EDGE defender and athletic profile to play off-ball would have addressed a bunch of needs for the Giants’ defense. Parsons excelling for the Cowboys makes the decision to pass on him that much more painful. Hopefully this doesn’t become a situation like the Giants passing on Reggie White only to have him wreck havoc with the Eagles.
And besides, hasn’t the Beezer Brigade waited long enough?
Hopefully Toney continues to develop and we’re all able to agree that he (and whoever the Giants pick in 2022) were the right choice. But as things stand now, there were better players available at 11 who would have provided a higher level of play at positions of dire need.