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Big Blue View mailbag: Draft, draft and more draft questions

The mail’s here

We are now less than a month away from the 2022 NFL Draft. With that in mind, let’s open the Big Blue View Mailbag and see what New York Giants questions we can answer this week.

Bob Donnelly asks: Many of the moves Mr. Schoen has made are temporary patches. As you survey the current (pre-draft) roster which players will be Giants in 2023? Which, if any, do you see as “foundational players”? Looking ahead to the draft, with 9 picks including 5 in the first 3 rounds how many “Foundational Players” does Schoen need to add for you to call it a successful draft?

Ed says: Yes, Bob, many of the moves made by GM Joe Schoen are temporary patches. That is all he can afford to do. He is collecting competent veterans to try and buy time to find better solutions through the draft and as he is able to make the salary cap healthier in years to come.

Which players will be on the roster in 2023? C’mon! I’m not sure I could correctly pick 35 who will be on the season-opening 53-man roster for 2022 right now. At least let me get through the draft before even trying to guess.

Foundational players? That’s no different than it was when Schoen took the job. Andrew Thomas, Xavier McKinney, Azeez Ojulari, maybe Leonard Williams. Hopefully Saquon Barkley, Kadarius Toney, Daniel Jones. I didn’t add Dexter Lawrence. I want to see if the Giants pick up Sexy Dexy’s fifth-year option. I would always hope to come out of every draft with two or three players who end up getting second contracts and being core players for the long term.

Henry Mildener asks: Seems curious, why the Giants haven’t resigned Jaylon Smith? Also just because Logan Ryan is a Joe Judge guy doesn’t mean he can’t play for another coach. What team does need a sure tackler at safety. It wasn’t a salary cap issue. Finally, who’s your pick between Sauce Gardner and Kyle Hamilton?

Ed says: Henry, I thought maybe the Giants new regime would bring Jaylon Smith back. They apparently want to go in another direction. At this point in his career, Smith is nothing special.

Logan Ryan? It’s really simple. There are new people in charge of the Giants. They looked at Ryan and didn’t see a player they saw as part of their future and felt playing him would be wasting snaps a younger player could take in 2022. Let’s also be realistic. Ryan is a great guy and a quote machine, but he is a strong personality who was spent his career playing for Bill Belichick and Belichick disciples (Joe Judge, Mike Vrabel). This regime just felt he wasn’t right for them, and that’s fine.

Gardner or Hamilton? Give me the Sauce, please.

Joel Story asks: My multi-part question is about the pre-draft state of the Giants’ EDGE position. First, given that Oshane Ximines has given every indication of being a draft whiff by Dave Gettleman, I’ve wondered why Joe Schoen hasn’t cut him yet for salary cap purposes. Then I remembered that Ximines is on his rookie contract and there may be low/no net cap savings. Is keeping him on the roster—for now—just judicious cap and roster management? In other words, is it simply wiser to keep him around through OTAs, training camp and pre-season to see how much he may be able to contribute to Wink Martindale’s defense before possibly cutting him?

Second, while it’s hard to point to many positives from the excruciating Dave Gettleman/Joe Judge era, I think their swooping in and snatching Quincy Roche off waivers last year, when the Steelers were trying to sneak him onto their practice squad, was a master stroke. (I remember you were high on Roche prior to last year’s draft. Great call!) Given that the Giants plucked Roche off the waiver wire, is he still on his rookie contract or did that get voided when the Steelers cut him? If it was voided, do you know the length of his current contract and how much he counts against the Giants’ salary cap this year?

Finally, could you give us any other thoughts you may have on the pre-draft state of the Giants’ EDGE position?

Ed says: Geez, you guys are all killing me this week with the multiple questions or multi-part questions. You’re all getting sneaky.

Ximines? The Giants would save $995K against the cap by cutting him, and they could use it. Still, that’s misleading because if they cut him another low-salaried player would qualify under the top 51 rule. So, figure the savings would actually be around half that much. Maybe this coaching staff likes Ximines more than the last one did. We’ll see.

Roche? The Giants acquired him via waivers, so they picked up his rookie contract. That has three years left on it. His cap hit is only $825K, and right now he is below the top 51 threshold, so he doesn’t currently count against the cap.

Finally, I will just say that I am very curious to see if Elerson Smith can become a factor. The Giants need more on the edge, and I am interested to see what they do if they have a choice between Sauce Gardner and a top edge defender like Kayvon Thibodeaux or Travon Walker. I would take Gardner, but you won’t find me complaining if Thibodeaux ends up as a Giant.

Douglas Mollin asks: If you had comparable offers to trade down, would you prefer loading up on extra picks this draft in the 2nd-to-4th rounds? Or getting extra picks in 2023?

Personally, I’d rather see them focus on getting extra picks this draft — get those guys some experience heading into next season, leave the team in better shape going into next season and take advantage of a draft that, by most accounts, is deep but not top-heavy.

Ed says: Doug, first congratulations! You seem to have become a bit of a BBV Mailbag cult hero. If I don’t get or answer a question from you there are always some “what, no Doug Mollin questions this week” comments. So, good for you.

Now, to your question. I would honestly like to see the Giants make deals with a focus on adding picks in 2023. First, remember that they already have nine picks in the upcoming draft. It might be nice — theoretically — to add more picks, but as a practical matter how many rookies can make the roster and find playing time.

This is not just a one-year, all-in for 2022, deal. It’s pretty much a build from scratch deal. I also think you have to remember that the Giants might be in the market to draft a quarterback in 2023, and the smart play is to set themselves up with additional picks in that draft — especially if they can acquire a second first-round pick. That would give them the ability to move around the board for the quarterback they want.

If they can move around and add a top 100 draft asset this year, cool. I think, though, they need to take a long view.

Jeff Newman asks: Ed, I have a thought on drafting Malik Willis that I’d like your thoughts on. If the Giants think he’s a potential franchise quarterback, it’s actually “cheaper” to draft Willis than waiting and drafting a QB in 2023. If we take Willis at 5 or 7, we’d have our potential franchise QB, STILL have another top 10 pick this year, AND all of our draft capital in 2023. However, if we pass on Willis and trade back with one of our first round picks for a 2023 first round pick, we would still have a top 10 pick plus a lower first round pick this year. HOWEVER, assuming we like a QB in 2023, we’ll probably have to trade up to get him. So we’d loose both our 2023 first round picks and probably some later pic(s) as well. If we take Willis this year, we’d still have all our draft capital in 2023. And let’s face it, that will probably include a relatively high first round pick. Plus, if we draft Willis we could trade DJ and get another draft pic for him. If we wait till 2023 to take a QB DJ walks and we get nothing. Love to hear your thoughts on this Ed.

Ed says: Jeff, I’m old. I think following all of that was kinda like driving streets in Boston when you aren’t from there. I got lost, and it gave me a headache. The crux of it is you think drafting Malik Willis this year would be better than waiting a year and drafting one in 2023.

I disagree.

Malik Willis is going to be drafted in the top 10. Probably Kenny Pickett, too. Most quarterback analysts will tell you that neither is a top 10 talent, but because teams are desperate for quarterbacks they will take the plunge.

Mark Schofield told me Willis would be somewhere from QB4-6 on his board behind Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance, and mixed in with Justin Fields and Mac Jones if he were in last year’s class. Other rankings I have seen have him behind all five of those players.

First of all, Willis is a wild roll of the dice. Monstrous arm talent, but a boom or bust guy with a loooong way to go to prove he can actually play quarterback at a big-time level in the NFL. His throwing fundamentals are inconsistent and his decision-making is questionable. He didn’t play against top competition. There is a lot of work to be done to get him where his arm talent says he could go.

I am a believer that if you don’t have your quarterback you do what you have to in order to try and get him. I am, though, also a believer in trying to build a foundation for that quarterback if you can. I think the Giants, in a weak quarterback class where anyone who goes in the top 10 is considered a reach, should work on that foundation. Marshal some assets and go get a quarterback a year from now if they determine that Daniel Jones isn’t the guy.

Jim Cardamone asks: In a recent article John Mara was quoted as saying “I was in a health and safety committee meeting the other day and they showed our injuries over the last four years as compared with [other teams]. The last four years, we had more injuries than anybody in the league and a lot of ’em were on offense. So let’s give him a chance with a new staff and a better offensive line and we think he’ll be very successful.” The team has changed GM and head coach, is there any insight into the root cause of the increase in injuries for Big Blue and any steps to address those? It seems that if this issue isn’t resolved that the team will continue to struggle on the field regardless of who is on the field and in the front office.

Ed says: Jim, I don’t think there is a singular answer to that question.

Some people want to blame the turf at MetLife Stadium, but that turf was replaced before the 2020 season. It has been tested by the NFL and it meets their standards. Now, I know grass is safer than turf and I wish the field was grass. It’s not. My $.02 is I don’t think MetLife’s turf is any worse than turf anywhere else.

Some people want to blame coaches or conditioning staffs, but these things have been happening going all the way back to Tom Coughlin. Multiple coaches, multiple conditioning and training staffs. These people are highly-trained professionals at the top of their crafts who know what they’re doing. The Giants use GPS tracking data at practices like everyone else does.

Guys spend a lot of time away from teams training on their own, and honestly don’t hit or go full speed at practice on a regular basis. That’s just how the rules are now, and teams can’t do much about that. I wonder if that contributes to injuries when they do have to go full speed.

Another factor is the kind of players who are being added. Guess what happens with players who have long injury histories? They keep getting injured. Guess what Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Adoree’ Jackson, Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley have at this point? Long injury histories. John Ross hasn’t been healthy for a single season in his career, yet the Giants signed him last year — and he spent most of the year hurt.

Proven durability has to be a factor when you sign players.

There is one thing I really don’t understand. That’s why injuries that multiple Giants coaching staff have told us over the years are minor end up sidelining guys for four, five, six weeks. That bugs me more than guys actually getting hurt. Once they get hurt, it’s forever before we see them again. What is the reason for that? That’s the question I would like an answer to.