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Big Blue View mailbag: Kadarius Toney, and a host of draft questions

The mail’s here!

The 2022 NFL Draft is drawing closer, and there are lots of questions about what the New York Giants might do. Let’s open up the Big Blue View Mailbag and try to answer a few.

Leo Daverde asks: This is my first “mail inquiry”. I remain confounded and perplexed regarding the tight end position, and drafting considerations the Giants may be prioritizing.

On Jan 17 you stated, “The Giants are likely headed for a reset at the tight end position” and I am hungry for some follow-up. I continue to see opinions like those expressed by Chris Pflum that tight ends are now valued primarily more for their “receiving upside” and less so for their “blocking prowess”. And Chris has done an excellent job profiling (Likely, Widermeyer, Ferguson, Woods…others).

Tell me what good is a tight end that functions as a receiver that comes out of the backfield, if that person however, is no more than a “willing blocker” easily brushed aside by an edge or defensive lineman? Did we not have that in Evan Engram? Do we not have another “willing blocker” in Seals-Jones? Don’t opposing defenses account for that limited ability in a TE?

Do the Giants even have a tight end that can block (Myarick??)? I thought Kevin Smith was pretty reliable to that end he will be missed. Don’t the Giants need a tight end that can block?

So more to the point, if the Giants draft a tight end (as you suspect they will) shouldn’t they be looking for someone that has genuine blocking potential? If Trey McBride is available at 36, would he be worth it? And if the Giants wait ‘till Round 4 to snag a tight end, who might slip and be a great steal? Ferguson? Woods? Other?

Ed says: Leo, let’s remember that none of these players coming out of college is a finished product. They all have improvements to make, technique to work, strength to gain, knowledge and experience to acquire.

When it comes to becoming a good blocker as a tight end, you need the size and strength to deal with edge players and linebackers. You also have to be willing. So, yes, “willing blocker” is something you look for.

Many of these tight ends have the size, strength and will. Many of them show flashes of being good blockers. They all have work to do become good blockers at the NFL level.

To me, almost all of these guys have blocking potential. Most of them, aside from Isaiah Likely of Coastal Carolina, have a decent amount of inline experience and understand that blocking is part of the gig.

I like McBride, but I’m not sure I would be a fan at No. 36. I think there will probably be better value. Check the tight end breakdown Nick Falato did this week. There is a lot of great information in there.

Michael Spezio asks: Wondering what you and BBV writers make of the “voluntary” aspect of the offseason workout and the upcoming minicamp. My sense is that these are voluntary so that players with family or health issues, or perhaps even pressing business matters outside of the NFL, have flexibility. That’s totally understandable and should receive support from the fans. But if too many players avail themselves of that aspect, for weaker reasons, then who shows up?

I’m asking in part due to the near absence of media coverage of KT missing the recent workouts. Even BBV’s podcast that mentioned this absence was mainly about waiting for more information, not having enough information. But what is the information? Is KT not responding to journalist inquiries? Is access to KT being blocked by the organization? Has BBV tried and failed to contact KT’s representation on this?

Given KT’s past performance, it is concerning that he wasn’t there, and hopefully he will be there for minicamp. But does the Giants 2021 #1 draft pick have health concerns or business concerns that are preventing him from being with the team in these team-building events?

These events are voluntary, but if too many players take that in its most liberal understanding, there won’t be much team-building this Spring. That’s why I think most players attend, they understand that voluntary means giving flexibility to players having a really good reason to miss these critical events for building the team, especially in a full-on rebuilding phase.

Ed says: Michael, yes these offseason workouts are voluntary. The Collective Bargaining Agreement, negotiated between teams and the players union, says so. This is the offseason for the players. It is their time. That said, it is a good idea for them to attend these sessions. Especially when there is a new regime in charge, like there is with the Giants.

Now, let’s talk about Kadarius Toney. I absolutely want Toney at these workouts. Thing is, we don’t know whether he is or he isn’t. First of all, the “report” that Toney did not show up at the first voluntary workout came from a bogus troll Twitter account. No one should be considering the ‘Wesley Steinberg’ account on Twitter to be a credible source of information. It’s not. Anyone can throw stuff against the wall, be right once in a blue moon, and claim to have sources of inside information.

If Toney is not regularly attending these workouts, that’s a problem. Reality is, though, we just don’t know. There have been zero credible reports that Toney, or any other player, has been absent. The Giants aren’t required to and won’t tell us who is — or isn’t — at these workouts. The CBA says players don’t have to show up.

When I see who is and is not there with my own eyes during OTAs next month or mandatory mini-camp, I will let you know. Otherwise, if a credible source reports something we will let you know.

Until we know anything for certain, though, I think the Toney-bashing on social media is unwarranted.

Jeff Newman asks: Ed, I read your recent article on Big Blue View making the case for the Giants move down or stay put at 5 and 7. I was a little disappointed that you didn’t include your opinion at the end of the article like you usually do. So this week I pose to you your own question:

— The Giants have two draft picks in the top 10 (5 and 7). There are two competing philosophies:

a) Make both picks to obtain premium talent right now.

b) Trade back with one of the picks to obtain more “at-bats” in the draft.

Which is the path your would prefer, and if the Giants trade back is getting a 2023 first-round pick in return a must?

Ed says: Jeff, I didn’t include my opinion because I have expressed it many times already. If players GM Joe Schoen and the Giants really want are available at No. 5 and No. 7, by all means go ahead and pick them. The Giants need top-tier impact talent. I am, though, a big proponent of trading down with one of the picks if you get an offer you like. Especially if that offer brings back a first-round pick next year. The first-rounder in 2023 isn’t a must, but it would be the home run I would be looking for.

Kristoffer Mailepors asks: I don’t hear anyone talk about this, but if Ekwonu gets drafted No. 5, could Thomas be moved to RT?

Ekwonu has expressed a preference in playing LT over RT. It’s a new system anyway and Thomas played RT plenty @ Georgia. What if Ekwonu is just better at LT? Andrew Thomas has showed promise, but has not shown Pro-Bowl caliber play (yet). Is he more suited to serve the team at RT if a better player comes along?

Ed says: Kristoffer, if you haven’t heard or read anyone talking about that you haven’t been reading comments on draft posts here at Big Blue View. That topic keeps coming up.

I supposed Thomas moving is possible. I’ll be brutally honest, though. I do not get it. You already have a left tackle who showed in 2021 that he is on his way to becoming a really good one. Why screw around with that? You might end up creating two problems while you’re only trying to solve one. You have a successful left tackle who is still getting better, you don’t move him for a rookie. You move the rookie. Ekwonu’s physicality is perfect for the right side.

Doug Mollin asks: Might we look back in a year or two and view Dave Gettleman’s tenure in a more favorable way?

  • DJ steps up enough for us to warrant a long-term contract.
  • We have the extra first round pick this year Getty traded for last year — might turn into our starting RT.
  • Toney stays healthy and becomes Tyreek Hill lite.
  • Thomas is an All-Pro left tackle.
  • Saquon rebounds to be the force he was in 2018.
  • McKinney, Ojulari and Dex become foundational players.
  • Young players like Roche, Smith, Robinson, Peart and Lemieux develop into useful players.

It wouldn’t absolve the chaos and overall mismanagement of the Getty Era but it certainly would be viewed in a much better light.

Ed says: Doug, yes it would. The things that you reference are all possible, though I wouldn’t count on all of them happening.

I don’t want to rehash Gettleman’s tenure. I will just say he did do some good things, just not enough of them. I don’t think he handled the cap well — from Jonathan Stewart to Kennedy Golladay and Adoree’ Jackson, I thought that throughout his tenure he paid veteran players more than he had to. I also thought he missed too many opportunities to maximize value, like not trading down with the No. 2 pick in 2018.

Yet, the various players you mentioned could all still be vital parts of the Giants’ future.

Steven Schlein asks: I’ve been thinking a lot about how to use the later draft picks, and it occurs to me that given how thin we are at safety and tight end that maybe we double down on one of those positions, use early pick on potential starter and then 5th or 6th for depth. Given what you know about the depth of the draft, which of those positions might have more value in those rounds? Bonus question: Do you think the Giants could trade Bradberry for a player at a needed position or is it certain that we’re holding out for a draft pick?

Ed says: Steven, you can make an argument for doubling — or tripling — up on the offensive line. You can make arguments for doubling up at tight end, cornerback, maybe even wide receiver or linebacker.

The Giants need to improve their talent in many places. It’s about value, not necessarily position, especially as you get deeper into the draft. At the 33rd Team, former New York Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum recently wrote an informative piece on how to have success with Day 3 picks. Tannenbaum wrote:

In the later rounds, the key is to focus on traits and what you can build on. Teams want to find the prospects that have at least one elite trait. These can be any kind of trait, both on or off the field. They could have elite measurables, production, versatility, leadership, or special teams value for example.

These are traits that can be built upon and formed into a role that has true meaning to a club. As mentioned, this can come in all different shapes, sizes and skill sets.

It’s not necessarily about position. Find guys with traits or skills you think can be developed or can keep them in the league for a number of years.

Matt Totaro asks: Hey Ed, if Gettleman/Judge weren’t let go and still had their same roles, how do you think they would have handled the salary cap situation the Giants are in to this point? What would they have done differently in free agency and with their roster? Would there be talk about trading one of the first round picks to gain draft capital for next year, potentially to use for a QB?

Ed says: Not to be dismissive, but I’m pretty sure this is a dismissive answer. It doesn’t matter. They’re gone. What they would, or wouldn’t, have done makes no difference. What matters is whether or not Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll can clean up the mess they left behind.

Erick Voronin asks: Two part question. There is talk that teams may not be willing to trade down to get a QB or at least not give up a first rounder. If that is the case would you stay at 5 and 7 or trade one of the picks for multiple lower rounders. Personally, unless getting a future 2023 first round pick, I’d stay put. How is the breakdown of salaries for first round players. Does moving from 5 to 9 (Seattle’s pick-my dream scenario by getting one of their 2 first rounders in 2023) effect the salary structure all that much?

Ed says: Erick, it depends on the offer. I would really want the 2023 first-round pick, but if Joe Schoen thinks he would be happy with something like getting the 16th and 19th picks from New Orleans I could see that. If it’s me, though, my instinct is to stay put without that 2023 first-round pick.

As for salary cap, the No. 5 overall pick carries a 2022 cap hit of $6.583 million. The No. 9 overall pick carries a 2022 cap hit of $4.452 million. That’s a savings of roughly $2.1 million, and in the Giants’ cap-strapped situation it would mean a lot.

Benjamin Lawrence: I’m a long-time reader and asking you my first question. This regards James Bradberry, and I don’t understand the trade rumors. Of course we have cap issues, but he is young and a high-quality player. Why is he not considered a core member of the team? Can we not reduce his cap hit this year and add more years onto his contract? I know moving money into the future is not ideal, but with the cap expected to rise so much, this seems worth it. This also gives us more flexibility in the draft since corner would no longer a position of need.

Ed says: Benjamin, I’m not sure what is difficult to understand here. The Giants have $6.788 million in salary cap space. To be honest, they probably need about $20 million more. They need more than $12 million just for their rookies. After that, they need to have roughly another $10-15 million (at least) to get through the season due to injuries and anything else that comes along.

Bradberry carries a ridiculous $21.863 million cap hit in 2022. The Giants can save $12.136 million in cap space if they trade him before June 1 — $10.136 million if they are forced to cut him. They have no other single method of creating that kind of cap space, which they must do.

Bradberry is not that young, by NFL standards. He will be 29 this season. Extending players like this, kicking the can down the road, is exactly the kind of thing that hurts you in the long run. It is exactly the kind of thing Joe Schoen does not want to do. Yes, the cap will go up. So, too, will player salaries. All extending Bradberry does is kick money down the road, limit what you have to spend later, and probably tie the Giants to the player longer than they want to be tied to him.

Bradberry is a nice player, but like Logan Ryan maybe not the type of player who really fits Wink Martindale. He is more of a zone cornerback than a press-man leave him on an island cornerback. It would be nice if the Giants could keep him, but I really doubt that it will happen.

Brian Francisco asks: It seems like the chatter for Bradberry has died down lately. Do you think it’s possible that there is a handshake type of deal already in place with someone like the Chiefs but the agreement is to keep it quiet so the Giants don’t tip their hand before the draft? Secondly, can you see him being packaged with a draft pick to move up a little or swap picks? - It’s my first mailbag question, please be gentle.

Ed says: Ah, another Bradberry question. Brian, no, I don’t believe there is any kind of handshake deal in place. The reality of it is, I don’t think the Giants have any offers for Bradberry that they feel good about.

Truth is, the Giants are not operating from a position of strength with Bradberry. Everyone in the NFL knows that that the Giants cannot have Bradberry on their roster at his current cap hit. They also know that Schoen does not want to extend Bradberry and kick money down the road. As I said above, that just creates problems down the road. It’s not a fix. Schoen wants to fix the problem and get the Giants into a healthy cap situation going forward. If it causes some temporary pain, so be it. This is the hand he was dealt.

Teams around the NFL know that if they wait the Giants out here, Schoen is going to have to do one of three things he doesn’t want to do:

  • Go against his own beliefs, extend the player and just kick the problem down the road. I’ll be shocked if he does this, as I have previously indicated.
  • Hold his nose and take pennies on the dollar, like a conditional seventh-round pick.
  • Release Bradberry and get nothing. As each day goes by, the possibility the Giants will have to do that grows.