Rookie mini-camp is going on, and we know New York Giants fans are dying for the slightest sliver of information. In the meantime, let’s open the Big Blue View Mailbag.
Ryan Perry asks: I know when your team trades for future draft capital you should generally expect that pick to land in the middle of the future round in order to assign an actual value to that pick. But I’m looking at the Bears’ 2021 roster and schedule and can’t help myself thinking we’ve landed a top 10, maybe even top 5 pick in next year’s draft. Their non-divisional opponents mostly had a strong showing in 2020, with the exception of the Raiders and Giants (who are trending up), and their divisional games will likely split 3-3 at best. Am I being unreasonably optimistic here?
Ed says: Ryan, I don’t think you are being unreasonably optimistic. I have seen over/under projections that put the Chicago Bears at seven wins, and early mock drafts that shown that pick as potentially landing in the top 20.
That said, this is the middle of May. It’s the offseason. Games don’t start for four months. We have no idea how good or bad the Bears, or the Giants for that matter, are going to be. What injuries will impact the season. I’m glad the Giants have an extra first-round pick next season. No matter where it falls, it’s going to be useful.
John M. Scott asks: Do you think the Giants need to do a better job keeping their draft intentions under wraps? DeVonta Smith thought “for sure” he would be a Giant, which means if the Giants didn’t directly say it they at least gave him that impression. Somehow the Eagles found out (not that DeVonta would’ve told the Eagles, but who knows). Similarly last year, we know Judge had a long discussion with Andrew Thomas the night before the draft about building a foundation, and on draft day there were rumors of Miami trying to jump ahead of the Giants for an offensive tackle (again, not saying Thomas told Miami, but somehow it got out). You’d think with the millions of dollars and countless hours that organizations spend on scouting & draft prep, they’d be a little more secretive up until it’s time to turn in the card. How do they allow these leaks to happen?
Ed says: John, I understand the frustration. When the Giants lost both Leonard Floyd and Jack Conklin a few years ago, there was the belief that the Giants had not guarded their intentions well enough.
I do not believe that’s the case this time.
Under Dave Gettleman, the Giants have been pretty well locked down in terms of information seeping out of the building. I think in this case you have to credit the Eagles with reading the board correctly and making a bold move to get the player they wanted.
No one knows for certain that the Giants would have selected Smith, although it seems like a safe bet. It’s been obvious the entire offseason from the way the Giants conducted business that they were focused on adding play makers. It’s obvious to anyone who pays attention that Joe Judge relies heavily on his college connections, which means he is heavily influenced by Nick Saban at Alabama. When Jaylen Waddle and then Patrick Surtain II, both of Alabama, went off the board it wasn’t hard for NFL front offices to figure out that Smith was the Giants’ likely target. Especially since no one thought any of the pass rushers were worthy of the 11th pick.
Douglas Mollin asks: Last year the Giants signed 15 UDFAs; this year it’s only 3.
Do you think that is a reflection of the lack of depth in this year’s draft?
Or a reflection of the talent depth of the Giants being raised over the past few seasons?
Ed says: Douglas, maybe it’s a bit of both. Because of many players being granted an extra year of college eligibility due to the pandemic, the 2021 draft class wasn’t that deep. There was a lot of speculation that teams might try to dump Day 3 picks. By extension, it makes sense that teams weren’t in a rush to go sign a boatload of undrafted free agents they really didn’t think had legitimate chances to making their rosters. Washington signed only one. Nine other teams signed six or fewer, per Pro Football Focus. So, it was a bit of a trend.
To be honest, it may also be a consequence of the incredibly limited amount of time coaching staff have to work with players now, a window which seems to be getting narrower and narrower. I think these “long-shot” types of players are going to continue to get squeezed.
As for the Giants roster, I do think it is probably also a pretty good indication that the Giants feel good about the competition they have already created across the roster, and the players they brought in on reserve/futures contracts.
Pete Vuolo asks: Ed, I would be disappointed if the Giants do not extend Jabrill Peppers contract. You feel that extending Peppers contract can “go either way”. If they do not extend his contract how will that play into the “who won the Odell Beckham Jr. trade” debate and do you believe the trade will factor into the Giant’s decision?
Ed says: Pete, I did say in last week’s mailbag that an extension for Peppers can go “either way.” Peppers is a good player, he is still only 25, and I’m sure the Giants would like to keep him if they can. I’m sure, though, that they wish they could have kept Dalvin Tomlinson and Kevin Zeitler. Or Landon Collins a couple of years ago.
Assistant GM Kevin Abrams was honest a few weeks ago when, discussing free agency, he said the Giants know that the moves they made this season could put them in a situation where they have difficult decisions to make next offseason. One of those might involve Peppers. Co-owner John Mara and GM Dave Gettleman have been reminded that it’s a salary cap league, and you just can’t pay everyone you would like to pay.
We don’t know what the cap will be in 2022. Nor do we know exactly what the Giants’ cap situation will look like. Today, though, per Spotrac, the Giants are $21.087 million OVER a projected $192.5 million cap. Hard decisions are almost certainly going to have to be made.
As for the Beckham trade, that was a lot of years ago now and should have nothing to do with any decision the Giants make about their team going forward. You do what you think is best for your team today, not to justify something you did three or four years ago.
Anthony Del Genio asks: With all the attention over the Giants drafting Azeez Ojulari (a pick I loved) and Elerson Smith, and with Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines returning from injuries, a name we never hear mentioned is Ifeadi Odenigbo. I thought this was a really astute signing at a cheap price for a player who had 7 sacks in part-time play in 2019 and was the 5th most double-teamed EDGE in the NFL in 2020. Assuming Olulari is as good as his film looks and he starts, do you see Odenigbo as just a depth piece on the right side of the defense (they both seem to rush primarily from that side), or can you imagine one of them moving to the left side and competing with Carter for that starting EDGE position? Can you see Ximines not even making the cut even if he is healthy? Also, do you anticipate a change in how Patrick Graham tries to get pressure to a more straightforward beat-your-man approach this year and fewer stunts/delayed rushes now that we have more talent?
Ed says: Oh, lots of parts to this question, Anthony. Let’s dig into it.
First, when it comes to Odenigbo I am partially to blame for the fact that we don’t hear his name often enough. I keep forgetting to include him when we talk about the Giants edge players. Truth is, I love the Odenigbo signing as a high-upside, zero-risk move.
I’m not sure how the Giants will use him. I don’t see Odenigbo as a starter, more as a situational pass rusher. GM Dave Gettleman said before the draft that Odenigbo has some juice as an inside pass rusher, so I’m wondering if we might see him in that role or in sub-packages if the Giants choose a four-man front at times. It’s interesting. To be honest, I’d rather wonder how Patrick Graham is going to get a talented player on the field than wonder if he has enough talented players to begin with.
As for Oshane Ximines, my initial post-draft 53-man roster projection has X-Man missing the cut. I hope I’m wrong, to be honest, because he’s a nice kid. Being a nice guy doesn’t get you on an NFL roster, though. I couldn’t shake the feeling last season that Ximines did not have the confidence of the Giants coaching staff. Remember, he was drafted when James Bettcher was the defensive coordinator. I think he has work to do to make the roster.
As for pressure, we might see the Giants rely more on four-man pressures. Then again, they added three press-man cornerbacks in Adoree’ Jackson, Aaron Robinson and Rodarius Williams. Add in a full season of health from Xavier McKinney and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants play more man-to-man coverage, and are more aggressive in sending extra pass rushers and trusting their back end coverage players.
Dave Kamens asks: Can you tell me how defenses can defend against Barkley and Toney running a reverse or double reverse? Also given the fact that Toney can also throw makes it even more difficult to defend. I am looking forward to a very entertaining offense this year. Your thoughts please.
Ed says: Dave, the occasional trick play isn’t the point. Yes, Toney can throw. Saquon Barkley can throw. Golden Tate and Odell Beckham Jr. could, and did, throw. You’re not going to see crazy trick plays and reverses all the time. That’s not how you play good offense. In the right spot, it’s great to have players who can execute them. It isn’t, though, how you run an offense down to down or game to game.
The number of options the Giants have should open up the playbook for offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, open up options for quarterback Daniel Jones on normal-looking plays and lead to guys making more plays via contested catches or simply making guys miss than we’ve seen from the Giants in a while.
The Giants should score more points this year, but it won’t be because Toney can throw. It will be because of what Toney and Barkley can do when the Giants give them the ball, or because of how Kenny Golladay and Kyle Rudolph can help the offense by making plays.
Jeff Newman asks: Ed, with the new additions and new rolls on the Giants offensive coaching staff, and all the new offensive players, wide receivers, tight end, and the return of Barkley, this offense should be very different than last years. With all the new capabilities, what do you think we will see from the offense this year? I know what we do will be opponent specific, but do you think in general we will be more run heavy, pass heavy, or balanced? Will we see a lot of RPO’s or wildcat? I’m sure with KG and Ross we will be taking more deep shots down the field. And with all the wrinkles and gadget plays Toney brings..... It’s exciting to think about. Hoping you could give us some insight as to what we might see this year. Thanks
Ed says: Jeff, the offense should definitely be better. There are more play-makers, more guys who can do things as athletes that don’t have to be, or can’t, be schemed. I know some worry that Jason Garrett won’t know what to do with the his new toys. Ex-scout David Turner told me on the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast that he has know Garrett for a long time and the issue isn’t that Garrett doesn’t know what to do with Toney, it’s that he has never really had a player like this before.
I can’t tell you what we will see. The Giants haven’t held a practice. A rookie mini-camp with 22 guys doesn’t count. They aren’t going to tell us what it will look like. I’m sure they will have a plan. I’m sure that plan will evolve as the season unfolds. We know what Kenny Golladay has done, and that he can make the tough catches down the field. We know getting the ball to Toney quickly and letting him work is a good idea. We know that Saquon Barkley, if he is still the Barkley we knew, remains the best player. We know there are plenty of other players who can make plays.
The Giants are not suddenly going to morph into the best offense in the league, but they shouldn’t be at the bottom, either. It’s going to be interesting to see how it unfolds.