Head coach Joe Judge and general manager Dave Gettleman did not break any new ground in their media videoconferences on Tuesday. Here, though, are a few things we learned about the New York Giants during the sessions, which were meant to replace availability normally held at the Combine.
All-in with young offensive line
I wrote in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s videoconferences about Judge’s belief in new offensive line coach Rob Sale. It was readily apparent that the Giants believe strongly in the young core of players they have collected and that they will do whatever they can to give those players a chance to succeed.
Judge believes in Sale’s ability to develop young players, calling him an “excellent teacher and “high-energy coach” with a track record of getting quality performance from players of differing ability levels. By hiring pat Flaherty as a “sounding board” and putting assistant coach Freddie Kitchens in a role where he will be helping Sale, Judge is pouring a ton of coaching resources into helping his young linemen.
Both Judge and Gettleman made it clear that the Giants would add to the offensive line if the value is there, but they they believe in the young players they have have. Nick Gates was a first-time center last season, and three rookies, tackles Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart and guard Shane Lemieux, played key roles.
“We all want things to happen fast. Just for what it’s worth, in terms of where our offensive line is, they’re young and they’re talented. Things take time. I said it earlier, things take time,” Gettleman said. “We believe in these guys, they all came along, we finished the season fairly strong. One of the things that I would say to you is we were 4-2 in our division and if you look at our division, all of those defensive lines that we play, all those fronts are big, powerful, athletic defensive lines and our guys held up. So, we’re getting there. It’s the old saying, you’ve got to run the ball and you’ve got to obviously be able to protect the passer. We’re young and we’re getting better.”
Gettleman said he is comfortable with the idea of Peart, a third-round pick last season, joining Thomas as a starting tackle.
“I am, yes,” Gettleman said. “When he played, he played fine. He played pretty damn well. At some point in time, you’ve got to let the young kids play.”
Gettleman pushed back on the idea that as long as Nate Solder and Kevin Zeitler are on the roster that the Giants don’t have a young line.
“When your center and your left guard and your left tackle are rookies, basically you’re young,” he said.
So, it’s wide receiver at No. 11 in the draft, right?
Anyone who knows anything about the NFL seems to know that the Giants need to add playmakers to an offense that was 31st in the league last season. Just don’t try to pin them down on whether or not their pick at No. 11 will be a player who will catch passes from Daniel Jones.
“Every team needs playmakers, let’s be honest. Good lord willing, Saquon [Barkley] will be 100 percent and obviously he’ll make a huge difference. A healthy Saquon obviously makes a big difference, but, again, you’re always looking to add good players. And, oh, by the way, we’re not playing until September, so we’ve got free agency and we’ve got the draft, and we’ll see how it plays out,” Gettleman said. “It’s not like we don’t realize what we need, but, again, at the end of the day it’s also about adding really good players. You can never have too many good players at any positions. Sure, we have our eye out for that, but we also have our eye out for guys that fit us culturally and fit where we’re trying to get to.”
Judge repeated the same mantra:
“The priority is really just to add as many good players to this team that we see helping us down the stretch and building with this. That’s the goal. Add good players who fit what we’re looking to do, who can add to the skillsets we need as a team and at the same time fit the culture in the locker room that we’re building here.”
So, yeah, wide receiver at No. 11. Unless the Giants sign a free agent receiver like Kenny Golladay. Or Corey Davis. Or decide to draft a hog mollie. Or an edge rusher. Or an offensive lineman. Or Micah Parsons.
Trading out of No. 11?
The Giants have only six picks in the upcoming draft. With the uncertainty of this draft due to the cancellation of the Combine and lack of personal contact with prospects, would this be a good time to trade down and accumulate picks to mitigate risk?
Gettleman, who has never done that, made the case on Tuesday that there are good arguments both for trading down — and up — from No. 11.
“Well, I think that you can make the argument that you’re going to have the most information on the top 100-150 guys and as you work backwards because of a lack of touch and whatever, you’re not going to have as much information or have as much confidence in your ability to work your way through that group,” Gettleman said. “You can make the argument to trade back because of this thing. There are guys in this draft that when they put pads on in August it’ll be the first time in 20 months they’ll have put pads on, so you’ve got to think about that piece and some of those guys are very, very highly rated, so you’ve got to think about that.
“You can make that argument for that, you can make that argument to trade back, accumulate picks for next year. You can make the argument that you sit tight. You can make the argument that, knowing that your best information is going to be on the top guys, maybe you trade up. So, who knows?”
The window theory?
Don’t give Gettleman the window theory. Meaning don’t tell the GM that the Giants have a window to win while Daniel Jones is on his rookie contract, thus adding pressure to the next season or two.
“You giving me the window theory? Microsoft Windows is nice, but I’m not a window theory guy, I’m just not. I never have been, and I never will be, so we’re going to keep working the process, keep getting better and we’ll get there,” Gettleman said.
The great unknown
There was no Combine this year. There will be Pro Days, but there won’t be personal contact with players. Team reps will likely be in the stands rather than on field. Gettleman and Judge both indicated that adds uncertainty to the evaluation process for draft prospects.
“Really, what makes you uncomfortable is the lack of personal contact you have with the players. That’s really what it is. Watching them operate, talking to them, just not having that personal touch is very difficult,” Gettleman said. “The other thing that’s strange is most of the time when you’re talking about players in April once all the smoke has cleared, you’ve had Indy, you’ve had your pro days, you have your own personal measurements on these guys. The 40-yard dash times are your times, so there’s going to be a lot of information that we’re hoping is accurate and crisp. When we talk about players, we talk about play speed. I’ve been pretty vocal about Indy being the ‘underwear Olympics’ and last time I checked when you play football you have full pads on. It’s not what a guy runs in a 40-yard dash time, it’s how fast he plays, so I think that’s going to come into focus even more.
“We can get with the coaches, the assistant coaches and the folks, that’s not the problem. The problem is the personal contact with the players and where the measurables are coming from. Especially for me, more so it’s the height and the weight, the body measurements. The 40-yard dash is a watch, I really believe in play speed. It is a little unsettling, you know. I’ve said this before, what we’re doing is educated guessing, so this makes us a little more uneducated, not having this personal touch with these players.”
Judge said personal contact with prospects will be “non-existent.”
“Now, ideally leading into the draft, you want to get out there, you want to meet in person with these players, you want to look them in the eye, you want to get on the field with them, you want to put them through drills and you want to really get a feel for these guys on the field – how they respond to your coaching, what they can and can’t do on the field and really get a feel for their skillset up close,” Judge said. “You know, video tape is good, but there’s really no replacing in-person workouts.”
Predictably, neither Gettleman nor Judge wanted to put any sort of expectations on the 2021 season.
“Obviously, everybody has expectations. It’s about getting better. I’m not going to put a win number on it, I’m just not going to go there. I think we’re just about there. Talking to you guys, you’ve alluded to some of our needs and I believe we’re going to get there,” Gettleman said.
Here’s how Judge put it:
“It’s still about being committed to the process, that’s really the biggest thing right there. Like 31 other teams, we have to start over this year. In terms of the commitment to the team, the development of depth on the roster, continuing to develop our players that are here, the identification of the right fits of players through free agency and the draft to add to our program, the theme remains the same. The process is to build a team internally and then add necessary pieces that can add to your team. So, the mantra for us is to come to work every day, do your job, work hard, be attentive and put the team first. That’s going to be the job for every player walking through the door and that’s going to be the job for every coach in this building, as well.”