With the 2021 NFL Draft looming, I promised you a bonus edition of the Big Blue View Mailbag. Here it is. It’s long, and jam-packed with interesting questions that I hope have equally interesting answers.
Many of you sent draft “scenario’ questions. I didn’t really want to go there. We have been laying out draft scenarios for months now, debating Choice A vs. Choice B, and looking at the myriad of ways things could turn out. We will continue to do that right up until Thursday night. I thought there were enough quality questions that we could avoid doing that.
Let’s get going!
Matt McCarty asks: Pre draft, analysts and fans spend a lot of time focusing on potential 1st round picks in hopes their team can find a franchise altering player. Recently the Giants GM’s can all be connected back to Ernie Accorsi (and Accorsi was selected by George Young). Since Accorsi’s first draft in 1998 the Giants have only signed 7 of their draft picks to second contracts (Shaun Williams, Petitgout, Shockey, Manning, Kiwanuka, JPP, OBJ). That doesn’t feel like a high success rate. Why do we expect management to get the pick right this time around?
Ed says: Matt, are you talking about first-round picks only? Because, guys like Sterling Shepard, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, David Diehl, Chris Snee, Corey Webster, Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, Zak DeOssie and Will Beatty all received second contracts.
Why do we expect management to get the first-round pick right this time? Let’s be real — there’s a good chunk of the fan base that expects the Giants to screw it up. They have already fired Dave Gettleman, decided Daniel Jones isn’t a good quarterback and can’t wait for the Giants to stink, so they can start rebuilding with a new GM and quarterback. Again.
Here is what I think. I believe Dave Gettleman is a good talent evaluator. I believe he tries to make the best decision he can between how his staff evaluates the players and what/who his coaching staff wants. I believe he hasn’t always gotten it right.
I think that what I feel really good about heading into this draft is that I believe the Giants are in a situation where they can’t help but get a really good player. There are going to be between three and five quarterbacks coming off the board for the Giants pick at No. 11. The Giants, thus, will have several of the draft’s top 10 non-quarterback talents to select from. Or, the option of moving down a handful of spots and collecting more choices.
Whether you prefer a wide receiver, offensive lineman, edge rusher, linebacker or cornerback for the Giants’ first pick there should be good ones available at all of those positions. There are players I like more than others, of course, but I really don’t believe any of those answers would be wrong. Depending upon your roster construction preference, you can build a logical case for the Giants doing about a half-dozen different things in this spot.
Joel Story asks: When considering the Giants’ roster prior to the start of the 2021 Draft, and excluding Quarterback, Running Back and Special Teams, which position group(s) do you think would be most adversely affected if its best player were lost for the season?
On a similar note, when projecting out to the 2022 offseason, which Giants’ position group(s) do you envision having the greatest needs, due to salary cap casualties and players leaving for free agency?
Do you think the Giants will address these latent roster needs in the Draft?
Ed says: Joel, I’m not really smart enough to be able to have a clear picture of what the Giants’ 2022 needs will be before both the 2021 draft and 2021 season. So, I’m not really going to address that.
As to your question about the 2021 team, I’m not necessarily looking at it as position groups. I look at it as which players would be missed most. Period. Excluding quarterback and running back, here is my pre-draft list:
- Offense: Kenny Golladay, Andrew Thomas
- Defense: Blake Martinez, James Bradberry, Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence
On offense, I think the Giants will add receiving and offensive line depth. How early, I don’t know. I wouldn’t be unhappy if it was really early.
On defense, Martinez is the defensive glue, Bradberry the best cover cornerback and Williams and Lawrence the best players on what remains a good defensive line. I wouldn’t be unhappy about depth being added in any of those spots.
D Linder asks: I had a thought. The Giants have six picks and I don’t believe they will trade future picks what if they traded back into Round 1 after selecting a player at 11? They may lead to only having 3 or 4 picks this year depending on the cost. Is that unheard of?
Ed says: In case you missed it, I looked at that scenario a few days ago. In that scenario, worked out with Matt Warren of Buffalo Rumblings, I moved up from No. 42 to No. 30 to select Penn State edge rusher Jayson Oweh. After my second first-round pick, I ended up only three more picks (Round 3, 76; Round 6, 196; Round 6, 201).
It is not completely unheard of. The Giants had only four picks in 2005, as a result of the 2004 trade for Eli Manning. Thing is, giving up that draft capital really hurts if you’re wrong. The Giants gave up picks 37, 132 and 142 to move to No. 30 for DeAndre Baker. So, they gave up a chance at three top 150 players for one, and it blew up in their face.
I could see the Giants doing something like this if there is an edge guy they love sitting there at the end of Round 1. Like I said above, though, if they do it they better be right.
Steven Henig asks: Assuming the Giants’ top priorities are WR and OL, what choice would you make between, Waddle at 11 and W. Davis at 42, or Slater at 11 and T. Marshall at 42?
Ed says: Steven, both of these would be pretty good draft hauls. Jaylen Waddle and Wyatt Davis is a combo I picked in my last mock draft, and have seen a number of times. Rashawn Slater would be a terrific fit for the Giants, and I like the potential of Terrace Marshall, a big wide receiver.
If I’m choosing, I take the Waddle/Davis combo. For me, Marshall is easily the lowest-ranked player of that group, and the one I’m least certain of.
jeffrey.d.bergman asks: I know my timing may be early for this wonky football topic but my question is about the supplemental draft. I was reading one of the infinite draft previews and one mentioned Sam Beal as part of the CB depth. While Beal clearly has not worked out as hoped for (we hardly know him at all), some of the issues we’ve seen with him made me wonder about how the supplemental draft works:
- What makes a player wind up in the supplemental draft vs. the regular draft?
- Is the due diligence process the same for the supplemental draft – especially with medical information?
- Do you consider the value of a pick in the supplemental draft to be the same as the regular draft? (For example, in the supplemental draft you “bid” the value you think a player is worth but when you give up the supplemental pick for the regular draft, you lose the opportunity for a “2nd rounder to slip to the 3rd”)
Ed says: Jeffrey, the NFL explains the supplemental draft here:
In July, the league may hold one supplemental draft for players whose eligibility has changed since the NFL Draft. A player may not bypass the NFL Draft to be eligible for the supplemental draft. Teams do not have to participate in the supplemental draft; if they choose to do so, they may bid for the player by telling the league the round in which they would like to take a specific player. If no other club bids on that player, they are awarded the player and lose a pick in the following year’s NFL Draft that corresponds with the round in which they were awarded the player. If multiple teams submit bids for the player, the highest bidder is awarded that player and loses the corresponding draft pick.
That basically means if a player loses his eligibility after the regular draft for academic or other reasons he can apply for the supplemental draft.
As far as due diligence, it’s a short window from the time a player is ruled eligible for it until the supplemental draft is held. Supplemental draft prospects can hold Pro Day workouts for scouts.
This is what Sam Beal, taken in Round 3 by the Giants in 2018, posted at his workout:
Official pro day numbers for @WMU_Football CB Sam Beal:— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) June 28, 2018
Height: 6-0 7/8
Weight: 178 (187 in spring)
Short shuttle: 4.09
Had very good workout. Expected to be highest sup draft pick since Josh Gordon in 2012.
If you are going to bid on a player in the supplemental draft, you better really like that player because of the draft capital you give up the following year. The Giants really liked Beal and they way they looked at it, were getting an early start on their 2019 draft.
“For what it’s worth, we really feel strongly that if Sam were in this draft he’d be a second-round pick,” GM Dave Gettleman said before the 2019 draft.
Obviously, Beal hasn’t panned out. At the time, though, I thought it was a worthwhile gamble.
Jacob Willett asks: One thing I hear a lot during the draft season is positional value. It makes sense for special teams players and completely agree with the argument for quarterbacks as well. My issue is that isn’t the draft a crap shoot enough already then to get hung up on the position of anyone else? Wouldn’t the “positional value” theory only be applicable when there is equal talent at every position? How many tackles are drafted higher then guards only to end up as a guard after all? The 2013 draft had 9 olinemen go in the 1st but the player who had the most All Pro seasons was center Travis Frederick. He was last one chosen despite being the consensus top center that year. The Colts in 2018 ended up looking like geniuses because they went outside the box and went guard and weak side linebacker at the top of first and second round. Has this whole thing been bred from the Mel Kipers of the world and executed by the GMs that come and go? Where’s the “positional value” when these sports journalists do their draft redo’s years later?
Ed says: Jacob, I do believe there is such a thing as positional value. I probably didn’t do a great job the other day when I was asked to rank positions by value. I’m not really going to go and try to do that over again. Suffice it to say, I put quarterbacks at the top, and running backs pure run-stuffing defensive linemen who can’t rush the passer at the bottom. Everyone else is in-between based on how much they impact the passing game.
The Colts looked like geniuses more because they found a great linebacker, Darius Leonard, in Round 2 and because their trade down to No. 6 in 2018 netted them not one great player (Quenton Nelson), but three starting-caliber players (adding right tackle Braden Smith and cornerback Rock Ya-Sin). The Giants chose the one great player (Saquon Barkley) route.
Edge rusher, offensive tackle and probably wide receiver/cornerback are always going to be high-value positions. Moreso probably than center, guard or interior defensive line because of their impact on the passing game. There are exceptions.
I do understand your point about Travis Frederick. However, I’d argue that left tackle Tyron Smith was — and is — more important to the Cowboys and harder to replace than Frederick.
Lawrence Jamieson asks: I’ve been doing a little “connect-the-dots” speculation on the Giants:
- We’ve had a couple of pretty good drafts after less than spectacular ones under Jerry Reese.
- A good free agent haul in a year when many good players and a couple of good signings last year.-
A coaching staff in place that, after one year, seems to know what it is doing.
- Hiring Kyle O’Brien for the front office.
Perhaps Dave Gettleman is getting ready to retire? Ever since the last Super Bowl win, there was a feeling of disorder on the team, almost reminiscent of the 60s.
Dave was brought in because of his familiarity with the Giants organization to help right the team, which was headed in the wrong direction. It took a few years with a couple of missteps, but he could walk away feeling that things are in order now. Maybe not perfect, but manageable.
What do you think? Too many stretches in connecting the dots?
Ed says: Lawrence, I wouldn’t be shocked at all if this is Gettleman’s final season. If the Giants are awful, if Daniel Jones is awful and ownership knows they need to go find a new quarterback, I can’t imagine them allowing Gettleman to have a say in who that quarterback will be.
If the Giants are good — which we all hope for — that gives Gettleman cover to retire on his own should that be what he wants to do. He can say he left them better than he found them. If Daniel Jones is also good in 2021 Gettleman can retire to Cape Cod and do what he said he wanted to do — find the Giants a franchise quarterback and then retire, sit back and watch what happens.
That said, he’s a football lifer and a competitive person. So, I wouldn’t count on him walking away.
David Schwartz asks: You’ve written previously about how Giants general managers have been averse to moving around the draft board. Do we know if this is also a directive from ownership? If Judge is still coaching after DG moves on and he has input into the next GM, would that next holder of the office have a green light to be as aggressive in the draft - moving down or up as he/she sees fit or would this next person be expected to be as conservative in their approach to the draft as Accorsi, Reese, and Gettleman - holding right and waiting for the draft to come to them?
Ed says: David, I don’t believe moving or not moving around in the draft is an ownership thing. I have said it before, but I truly believe the Giants by nature have been a conservative organization and the imprint of Hall of Fame GM George Young remains.
Young didn’t move around the draft board. He believed in sitting tight, scouting well, taking the best player you could take when it was your turn. Young trained Accorsi, who had a little bit more of an adventurous spirit. Accorsi was influential on both Jerry Reese and Dave Gettleman. For his part, Gettleman has said none of the coaches and GMs he trained under was a fan of the move around the board approach.
Joe Judge comes from the New England Patriots, and we know Bill Belichick has always loved to play the board. Move down, move down, move down, collect picks, then target one guy and use some of that excess to get a guy you really want.
Judge, more than Gettleman, is now the central character in the Giants organization. Over time, whether there is a new GM or not, it would not surprise me if we see more and more of that New England influence seep into the Giants way of doing business.
Steve Piemonte asks: Hi Ed, my question is about the o-line. Last year the Giants finished with the 31st ranked offensive line, or second worst. This offseason they let their most consistent and highest rated offensive lineman,Kevin Zeitler, go so right now they probably have the worst o-line inthe NFL. I see three question marks there Will Hernandez, Shane Lemieux and Matt Peart and all three need to (or are expected to) take a big step forward this year. My first question is how often does any playerin the NFL takes that big step forward? Is it 50%, 20%, 10%, I have no idea but I am hoping you do. If only one in three players make that jump then I would expect only one of those players to make the jump and the other two not to make the jump. That would leave the Giants with two weak spots on the line before any injuries or other problems. So how many big jumps on the Giants o-line do you think will actually happen this year?
Second how many drafts picks do you think the Giants need to use on the offensive line this year? If they use the early ones the players could have a big impact this year but they are passing on other weapons. If they use the later picks on players that need to be developed for a couple of years they might go through another change in GM and/or coach, which almost always seems to lead to letting a fair amount of talent go. Do you think using two out of their first three picks on the offensive line would be too much?
Ed says: Steve, I am apparently far more bullish on the 2021 Giants offensive line than many in the fan base.
I’m absolutely fine with Andrew Thomas at left tackle, and I have confidence that he will be a good player. I wouldn’t have selected Thomas — my choice in the last mock draft I did before the 2020 draft was Mekhi Becton. I wanted to take the swing for the fences and would have taken Becton, and probably Tristan Wirfs, ahead of Thomas. I think, though, that Thomas is going to have a fine career.
I think Matt Peart is going to be fine at right tackle. I believe Nick Gates is a good NFL center.
The issue is at guard. Will Hernandez isn’t Ereck Flowers or James Brewer. He’s not a bust. He’s been a decent player, just not what the Giants hoped for. I need to see more in pass protection from Shane Lemieux, but I’m not giving up on him.
I think the young Giants line was adversely affected by the pandemic last season that forced cancellation of all on-field work before training camp. By Nate Solder’s opt out. By the mess that the offensive line coaching situation became.
There should be much more stability around these players in 2021. That will help them, as will a year of experience.
As for the draft, I think using two picks out of their first three on the offensive line is absolutely unnecessary. I fully expect the Giants to use one pick in those first three rounds on a player who should at least compete for a starting guard slot. It would be nice if that player had either guard-tackle or guard-center flexibility, but one pick in the first two days of the draft is enough.