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Big Blue View mailbag: Jaylen Waddle, offensive line, more draft questions

The mail’s here!

Gee, I wonder if there might be a big event coming up about which New York Giants fans might have questions. Let’s open up the Big Blue View Mailbag and find out.

Chris Fiegler asks: What defensive players that the Giants should draft that is equivalent to Nick Bosa of the San Francisco 49ers and Chase Young of the Washington Football Team (Formerly as the Redskins)?

Ed says: Chris, on paper there isn’t one. My favorite defensive players who might be available at No. 11 are Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons and Georgia edge Azeez Ojulari.

Jim Moriarty asks: If we are able to draft Slater or Sewell (dreaming), either will enter as more “skilled” at tackle than Peart. Do you engage in a competition for the right tackle position, or don’t disrupt Peart at RT?

Ed says: Jim, my view is that if you draft Penei Sewell you are doing that to play him at tackle. I like Matt Peart, but if you select Sewell he and Andrew Thomas are your starting tackles, and whichever sides they play is fine with me. I don’t care to debate it. If you draft Rashawn Slater, my preference would be to initially put him in competition with Will Hernandez and Shane Lemieux. I think he would win one job and the better of Lemieux/Hernandez wins the other. Slater is then a security blanket for Matt Peart at right tackle should Peart fail there.

Joel Story asks: Given the number of mock drafts that have been choosing Jaylen Waddle for the Giants at 11, I was relieved to read Emily Iannaconi’s April 14th article on Big Blue View, which reported that Jaylen Waddle’s ankle—now said to be a dislocation and not a fracture—has been examined at the NFL Combine and appears to be healing well. That’s great news, but it led to some questions for me.

With the modified NFL Combine medical evaluation process this year, i.e. reportedly some in-person exams in Indianapolis but the majority performed virtually, do you know if anyone on the NY Giants medical staff was physically present at Waddle’s exam? If not, do you think that will adversely affect his position on their draft board? Similarly, for prospects with recent injuries who have had only virtual medical exams, do you think the Giants will be less likely to draft them than if they had received in-person exams?

Ed says: Joel, thanks for the question. All I know is that there was a doctor from each NfL team participating in the in-person evaluations. Now, whether each doctor personally witnessed or took part in each exam is something I couldn’t tell you.

Here is more from Dr. David Chao, former Los Angeles Chargers team doctor, on the medical part of the 2021 draft process.

It would have been nice to see him run at the Alabama Pro Day, but he chose not to. If the Giants are concerned about long-term issues with Waddle’s ankle, they won’t draft him.

I do think teams might be reticent to draft players about whom they don’t have complete information, especially if they are unclear about an injury or something else in a player’s past. Dave Gettleman has said teams will have more information on the top 150 or so prospects, so in terms of Waddle I think all NFL teams will know what they need to know.

Jack LeGoff asks: Crazy question for ya: I think Kyle Pitts is the best non-quarterback in the draft. If he somehow falls to 8 or 9, would it be worth the Giants trading up to get him? Here’s my offer: Evan Engram and a 2022 second rounder (and maybe another late round future pick). I know trading up seems crazy but in this circumstance I might be tempted to do it. This will probably be a moot point however when he goes 4th overall.

Ed says: Jack, it’s not a crazy question. Gettleman has traded up in the draft many times, and when he spoke to media a few weeks ago would not rule out doing it again. That said, I really don’t see the logic in the Giants doing it here.

The Giants pick at No. 11. There are probably going to be five quarterbacks selected in the top 10. That means the Giants will have several of the top 10 non-quarterback prospects in this draft available to them. Is Pitts so much better than DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle that you would premium trade assets to go get him? I wouldn’t. I would be perfectly happy to sit there and take one of those players. Or Micah Parsons. Or Rashawn Slater. Or Azeez Ojulari.

One player isn’t going to make the Giants a Super Bowl contender. I’m not giving up assets when I KNOW I’m getting a top-tier player without doing that.

Now, if the Giants want to make their pick at 11 and then trade back up into the tail end of the first round to ensure getting one of the premium edge rushers I might support that. Not, though, moving up from 11.

Jacob Willett asks: Which player between Melvin Ingram, J. Houston, E. Griffen, and R. Kerrigan do you think would be the best fit for GIANTS if they decided to add a cheaper veteran pass rusher after the draft? Kind of like they did with Conner Barwin in ‘18.

Ed says: Jacob, my answer is “none of the above.” I’m really not interested in any of those guys.

I’m interested in seeing if Cam Brown can take a step forward. If Ryan Anderson can be a better player than the Washington Football Team thought. If Carter Coughlin can push his way into a bigger role. If Lorenzo Carter can return healthy. If Oshane Ximines can win over this coaching staff.

On top of all of that, I want to see the Giants draft an edge rusher. Remember, signing Connor Barwin cost them Romeo Okwara. I don’t want to see a similar mistake this time around.

Rob Wengrzyn asks: Obviously a lot of talk focuses on the O line and needs there, but I am interested in your opinion, looking at this from a different perspective.

With no real downfield threat, and limited number of weapons for DJ to throw to, doesn’t that add into the equation? Basically, I don’t think any team was worried about our downfield passing game and could stack the box or blitz more frequently, as there were just not enough weapons to scare any defense.

I am curious if you see it that way as well and maybe the talk of the O line being not good is not deserving, taking into account this perspective?

Ed says: Rob, it all works together. The loss of Saquon Barkley took away a big-play element the offense really needed. Darius Slayton is a home run threat, but defenses treated him like a No. 1 wide receiver and he isn’t, which means he was often at a disadvantage. Evan Engram had a bad season, even if he was voted into the Pro Bowl.

As far as the criticism of the offensive line, it was absolutely deserved. That group absolutely has to be better. It’s why the Giants are pouring so many coaching resources into it, with new offensive line coach Rob Sale, along with assistant coaches Freddie Kitchens and Pat Flaherty all focused on it. It’s why the Giants will almost certainly add to the offensive line mix in the draft, whether they do it in the first round or somewhere in Rounds 2-4.

That’s a young group that should improve, and the Giants are heavily focused on making sure it does improve.