This is the final Saturday before the 2021 NFL Draft. With that in mind, let’s get to the Big Blue View Mailbag and see what New York Giants-related questions we can answer.
Jim Moriarty asks: The best teams actually do draft for need by matching draft slot with what they need, by trading down when necessary (of course I know Gettleman’s history).It is pretty clear to everyone who follows the Giants that their 2 biggest weaknesses by a mile are O-line and Edge. This brings us to the Giants at 11. I believe if one of the top 2 lineman is not available at 11 (Parsons has not proven to be an edge, and assuming Pitts is gone), you trade down and pick up assets before going to your preferred edge or the 2nd tier offensive linemen, making sure he can play guard. You should not overdraft an edge or O-lineman at 11; it’s not a quarterback. If you draft a wide receiver at 11, you are hoping that your 3rd round pick is a can’t miss Edge or O-line player, which is a big risk- and there will be quality receivers in round 3 to provide depth.
Ed says: Jim, the Giants have a lot of options here at No. 11. There really isn’t a hard-and-fast right or wrong answer. The idea is simply to get the player the Giants believe will have the biggest impact on their football team, both in 2021 and beyond. Maybe you think drafting edge rusher Azeez Ojulari at 11 would be an overdraft. Maybe the Giants think, as I do, that he’s the best edge for them in the class and he would be a perfect pick at 11.
I absolutely believe it would be fine to draft a wide receiver at No. 11. Whether that’s Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith doesn’t matter. I prefer Waddle, but the truth is either player should step in and be a big contributor right away.
You can “probably” get a guard or an edge rusher on Day 2. But, I don’t believe you can overthink it. Just take the player you really think helps your team the most at No. 11, or if you think a trade back helps the most, do that. Figure out the rest when you see what’s on the board.
We won’t really know what the right answer to “who should be drafted at 11?” will be for three or four years.
Dave Kamens asks: Listening to many of these mock draft scenarios I am a bit confused. It seems like many are picking an Edge/ Pass rusher for the Giants at 11 but they all say there is no proven pass rusher but many with “potential.” Wouldn’t it be wiser to take a dominant Offensive Lineman in the first round then take a flyer on an Edge? Seems like they are trying to fit someone into a need rather than look for, in Dave G’s words, a Gold Jacket Guy? A couple of years back the Cowboys had an Offensive line made up of first round picks and they dominated that position group in NFL. In the second or third rounds you are looking at guys that usually can be a starting lineman in the NFL and not so much a dominant player. I know you like the current lineman, as I do, but if there is a potential upgrade shouldn’t the Giants go in that direction? Your thoughts please.
Ed says: Dave, let’s stop with the “gold jacket guy” stuff. Gettleman said that back in 2018 about picking No. 2. You always hope that whoever you pick — whether it’s Round 1 or Round 7 — turns into a gold jacket guy.
I don’t believe you would be taking a “flier” on an edge at No. 11. You’re probably picking the guy you think is the best edge in the class, if that’s what you end up doing. A “flier” is what you take on a guy in the sixth or seventh round.
By no means am I saying the Giants “should” take an edge rusher. They should take the guy they believe helps their football team the most. Whether that’s Rashawn Slater, Azeez Ojulari or a different edge rusher, Micah Parsons, Alijah Vera-Tucker, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Patrick Surtain II or whoever.
Now, I like some of those guys more than others and I think the Giants need to add more to the offensive line early in the draft. I would have a hard time passing on Slater. By the same token, I hate the thought of leaving Waddle on the board. Oh, and I wouldn’t mind selecting the best edge rusher (I think that’s Ojulari) or overall defender (Parsons) at No. 11.
As for the idea of need, GMs will always say they want the best player available. Need, though, always impacts who a team thinks that best player is. Do you really think the San Francisco 49ers believe Mac Jones is the third-best player in this draft? Of course not. What they appear to believe, though, is that Jones might be the best player for them right now.
Jeffrey Phillips asks: Ed, the more and more I run through PFN’s Mock simulator, the more I realize that a really good Interior O-lineman will be there in Round 2 (W. Davis or T. Smith for OG and L. Dickerson, Meinerz for OC). We really should draft one of the WR’s/Pitts or Parsons at 11. OR trade down. Thoughts?
Ed says: Jeffrey, I also happen to believe there will be quality quards available in Round 2. That said, if Rashawn Slater is there at No. 11 and the Giants select him I would completely understand it.
Chris Hynes asks: As we are in the week leading up to the Draft, how would rank NFL positional value?
Ed says: Chris, I could spend all day on this. Maybe I will at another time. Let me just quickly put it into tiers.
Tier 1: Quarterback
This stands by itself. It is the most important position in the sport. Have one, you better keep him. Don’t have one, do what you have to in order to get one. To win consistently, you must have a good one.
Tier 2: Offensive tackle, pass rusher, wide receiver, cornerback, tight end, safety
That’s a big tier and some would argue that safety and tight end should drop down a notch. I wouldn’t put up a big stink. Basically, this is all the positions that directly impact the passing game. Edge rushers and guys to block them; receivers and guys to cover them. A few years ago I wouldn’t have put tight ends and safeties here. The way they are used now and how important they are to the passing game and the defense of the passing game I think you can put them in here.
Tier 3: Inside linebacker, center
You have to have glue guys, and these are the players who hold your defense and your offensive line together.
Tier 4: Running back, guard, interior defensive line
You need good players at these positions. You — generally — shouldn’t spend premium resources on them to the detriment of the other tiers.
Bob Donnelly asks: We know that the Giants need to improve over the past year’s performance. Looking at the numbers as opposed to players or positions what aspects of their game will provide them the biggest boost? Goal one is to get out of the bottom half, so #16 or better. Then we can see where that compares to the playoff teams. I’m not talking about the “obvious “ stats like points scored rather the numbers that drive that result. (Cause vs. symptom)
For example when comparing them to the rest of the league the Giants were 30th in # of offensive plays from scrimmage and had the 10th most defensive snaps played. Clearly both aspects need to improve.Their place at the bottom in red zone scoring has been well documented.
On third downs the defense allowed the 7th most while the offense had the 3rd fewest firsts. (Is this a function or cause of the # of snaps?)
We know they need to score more, and while we were all impressed with the defensive performance it was respectable but not great. (Not even in the top 25%)
My question to you is with all the stats available which metrics do you view as the most useful in identifying the core issues? Of those which are easiest to improve and which will give the biggest bang for the buck?
Ed says: Bob, I hate to simplify this but I am going to simplify it about as much as humanly possible. The stat I care about is 31st in the league in points scored.
Pretty much any other offensive stat you can quote me is part of the underlying cause for why the New York Jets were the only reason the Giants didn’t have the NFL’s worst offense this year. Yeah, they need to be better in all of those “sub-categories.” Because all of those things will lead to scoring more points.
Jerry Reese used to say you can’t win consistently in the NFL unless you can score 28 points per game. While 28 might be a bit high, look at the 2020 scoring leaders and 12 of the top 14 teams in scoring made the playoffs. The Giants scored 17.5 points per game. They have to get to 25 points per game before they can really think about being a good team.
The Giants need to hit more big plays. They need to be more efficient in the red zone. They need to drop fewer passes. They need to block better, especially for the pass. They need fewer turnovers. All of those things help the primary objective — scoring more points and winning more games.
CJR asks: How much cooperation is there between GM’s leading to and during the draft?Are there trusted relationships where info might be shared about players or in depth discussion about possible trades well in advance of Draft Day? Conversely are there GM’s reputed to be sharks? I’m curious about how friendships/antipathies affect the business.
Ed says: CJR, thanks for the question. Friends or no friends, teams are not going to share their thoughts about players with GMs or talent evaluators from other teams. That’s an easy way to screw yourself out of the player or players you want, and an even easier way to get yourself fired.
Where those relationships can come into play is when a team wants to move around the board. There are GMs who have worked together in other places, who have maybe been friendly for a long time, who know each other and have built a level of trust. You’re never going to outright ask an opposing GM what player he wants to move for. When you make these deals, especially on draft day, they can come right down the final minute. You have to have trust to pull them off.
Now you will find GMs and other team personnel guys trying to pry information from everyone they can. That includes trusted media members, especially guys who may have worked as scouts or front office types.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: There will be a bonus mailbag prior to the draft on Monday or Tuesday. if you sent a question that hasn’t been answered, look for it there. If you want to send a question, e-mail it to email@example.com]