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Big Blue View mailbag: Does anyone feel the draft?

The mail’s here!

The Big Blue View Mailbag is filled with New York Giants draft-related questions this week. Let’s open it up and get started.

Chris Perle asks: Isn’t it Job 1 to figure out what Jones and Barkley can do?

Doesn’t that mean making sure the OL is not a liability (even with injuries)?

Doesn’t that mean the first two picks, at least, should be OL (Not necessarily 5 and 7 though)?

Ed says: Chris, Job 1 is to build a good football team that stops losing double-digit games every season.

A huge part of that is building an effective offensive line, and deciding whether or not Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley are players the organization wants to go forward with after the 2022 season — if Barkley isn’t traded before or during the season.

No, it does not mean the first two picks should be offensive linemen. I have said repeatedly that if the Giants stay at No. 5 and No. 7 they should select an offensive tackle with one of those two picks. Do I think they should take two offensive tackles, say Evan Neal AND Charles Cross?

Heck, no.

You already have a franchise left tackle in Andrew Thomas. Double up like that and you are essentially devaluing Neal from Day 1 (or Ikem Ekwonu if he is one of the two choices) by making him a guard. Do you really want to do that? I don’t.

Now, if GM Joe Schoen gets an offensive tackle with one of those picks, trades back with the other and ends up with center Tyler Linderbaum or a guard like Kenyon Green or Zion Johnson I’m cool with that.

Remember, though, there is more to improving the football team than adding a bunch of offensive linemen. How are you going to truly get a read on the offense if the defense gives up 35 points a game and you’re always trying to catch up?

If you get an offensive tackle and then have a chance to add a premier defensive player (cornerback Sauce Gardner, safety Kyle Hamilton, edge defenders Kayvon Thibodeaux, Travon Walker, Jermaine Johnson II all likely qualify) I believe you should do that.

You can get players who can be good long-term guards and centers later on.


Doug Mollin [who now refers to himself as ‘hero of the people’] asks: If the draft broke perfectly, which players would you want to see us draft at 5 and 7? For me, it’s Neal and Gardner.

Worst case scenario, for me, would be some combination of Hamilton, Walker, Stingley, Willis and maybe even Thibs. And “worst case” is certainly relative here; they may all turn into good players; just have less confidence in them than Neal and Gardner.

Ed says: Doug, I’ll make this simple. For me it’s Sauce Gardner and any of the three offensive tackles. I honestly don’t care which. I can make great arguments for each guy and I think they will all be excellent. I don’t care which order the players are selected in, either. If Gardner is off the board, I would be perfectly happy with Kayvon Thibodeaux or Kyle Hamilton. Or even Travon Walker if he happens to fall.

For reference, I’m just going to drop this here:


[Two questions about the Saints-Eagles trade:]

Kristoffer Mailepors asks: I’m a little confused about all the speculation (much of it among Giants fans) that the Saints will trade up now that they have two picks in Rd1 of this year’s draft.

I don’t get it - why would a team spend draft capital (they traded 5 picks for 3 picks) just to spend more draft capital? It’s like if I give someone 5 quarters so they give me a dollar, now I am taking that dollar to the laundromat and making it into 4 quarters.

Doesn’t it make more sense if they are eyeing a premier WR and top CB or Safety (two of their top needs according to nfl.com) those slots are pretty good this year to land both? Or a Kenny Pickett or a Matt Corral? Either could benefit from playing in a dome.

What do you think? If they want to trade up, why not give #18, 2023 #1, 2024 #2 straight to the team? Why have a middle person (unless a team like the Jets explicitly asked them to get 2 picks in the teens).

Greg DiDonato asks: What if the Saints want to jump Carolina and Atlanta for their pick at the top QB? Would 16, 19, 49 for fifth overall make sense?

The Giants then walk away with 7, 16, 19 and two seconds and two firsts in the first two days to stockpile depth on the team. Let me know if you think this is a possibility.

Ed says: Guys, I’m not sure what the New Orleans Saints were thinking here. If the Saints wanted to entice the Giants to move back to No. 18 (where New Orleans was before the deal with Philadelphia) I believe their best opportunity to do that was to entice the Giants with a 2023 first-round pick and some 2022 Day 2 capital. They don’t really have any of that offer now. Their 2023 Round 1 pick is gone, and they have picks 49 and 98 on Day 2 — the only one of which I would be interested in at all being 49.

Greg, 16-19-49 is tempting, but my initial reaction is that I would say no. I don’t want to trade out of the top 10 with a chance to get two of the top seven players in the draft without getting back a 2023 first-round pick. With no certainty about the future of the quarterback position for the Giants, I think you have to be looking for the manueverability a second first-round pick next year would provide.


Mike W. asks: I don’t want to look back to the Gettleman era but this question will help me understand how things operate with the Giants moving forward. DG got ownership’s approval to spend money last year on free agency. I wonder where they would be if Martinez and Shepard weren’t injured and “forced” to renegotiate their deals. My question is did ownership know that the team would be in cap hell this year based on the spending spree last year? I can’t believe Mara and Co. wouldn’t want to know how last year’s spending would affect the future, especially since they knew last year’s additions were not expected to put them in the Super Bowl. If they did know how could they allow the team to be put in such a dire situation? Or does ownership not get involved in cap consequences when approving a major signing?

Ed says: Mike, yes, ownership knew the situation. The Giants were honest when they made the moves that they understood that in a year with a down salary cap they had pushed a lot of money into 2022 and would face some difficult decisions.

The Giants went all-in to try and turn things around in 2022 with the big contract given to Leonard Williams, and the expensive free agent signings of Kenny Golladay, Adoree’ Jackson and others. They were desperate to put a good product on the field and be able to make a long-term Daniel Jones decision.

It, obviously, didn’t work. Injuries wreaked havoc on the season and the tiny bit of cap space the Giants had left. By season’s end they were pinching pennies and pushing even more money into the future just so they could sign players to replace the injured ones. Things were so bad they didn’t even fill every roster spot the last couple of weeks.

Ownership certainly understood there would be long-term ramifications. The magnitude of those were increased by the way the season played out.


Robert Goodman asks: If the Giants had the ability to draft one of the top 3 OTs and Sauce with the 5th and 7th picks in the draft, and you were offered a mid- first-round pick (NO or PIT) and a 2023 first-round pick, plus other draft choices to make the draft chart work for either the 5th or 7th pick, which would you do [it]? If the trade offer came from Atlanta, Seattle or Washington, would that change your decision?

Ed says: Robert, this pretty much piggybacks off ‘hero of the people’s’ question earlier. I do believe getting an offensive tackle with one of the two picks is key to this. I never want to say you must draft a certain position at a certain draft slot — I have said for years that is a recipe for disaster.

I also believe, though, that your chance of getting a premier offensive tackle is much greater on Day 1 than on Day 2 or Day 3 of the draft. The Giants have a huge need, and two potential swings. I would like to see them take one.

Now, if they get the tackle at No. 5 and want to deal No. 7 or deal No. 5 knowing they can get an offensive tackle they’re happy with at No. 7 that’s fine.

For me, the trade down price needs to include a 2023 first-round pick. I’m not going to quibble and say it has to come from a team that is likely to be bad. A second first-round pick, no matter where, gives me either maneuverability for a quarterback or two shots at first-round talent. A win-win. Trading down also gives the Giants a bit of much-needed salary cap help.

Pro Football Network ran a mock draft recently with a trade between the Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Giants moved from No. 5 to No. 20. They got this in return:

Pick No. 20, pick No 52, a 2023 first-round pick and a 2023 second-round pick. I will take that all day. Also, to be complete, PFN chose Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean for the Giants at No. 20. I would be perfectly content with that choice in that spot.


John Bettencourt asks: My question is about Kevin Abrams … how is he still here given our cap mess. By all accounts he is our “business manager, cap expert”???? At one time he was talked about as HC potential. Any other person with such performance would be long gone. What’s up with this guy, is this part of Mara’s inner circle that can’t be touched?

Ed says: John, we have talked about Abrams before. Abrams has been the Giants’ cap guy for more than two decades now, and there have been both good and bad cap years during that time.

The reality about Kevin Abrams is that he makes ZERO personnel decisions. The GM, head coach and owner make the personnel and financial decisions. Abrams didn’t decide to sign and overpay Kenny Golladay — Dave Gettleman and Joe Judge did. Abrams didn’t approve the four-year, $72 million price tag — Gettleman, Judge and John Mara did. Abrams’ job, as it is with all contracts, is to find a structure that makes it fit within the cap.

As I said above, the Giants knew the cap situation they were putting themselves in when they over-extended themselves in free agency last year. That wasn’t Abrams’ decision. Adoree’ Jackson, Kyle Rudolph, Leonard Williams, Devontae Booker and anyone else you want to name were not Abrams’ decision. His job is to make the numbers work within the parameters the people above him set.

The fact that the Giants are in a salary cap mess is not on Kevin Abrams. It’s on Gettleman for desperately spending a lot of bad money a season ago. In retrospect, the Giants probably could have gotten Golladay, Jackson and Booker cheaper, and shouldn’t have signed Rudolph at all.


Jesse Sorel asks: Ahmad Gardner is the consensus number one corner in the draft. All experts seem to agree. He’s tall, fast, and stingy. Hasn’t given up a TD in college. He went to college at Cincinnati. A smaller D-1 school. In your opinion is there a little concern picking Sauce so high in the draft even though he didn’t play top competition every week? The Bearcats did play Notre Dame, and Alabama. Though they don’t play in a top conference. It worries me a little.

Ed says: Jesse, no, in this case I’m not worried about level of competition. He has all the tools. Now, is he perfect? No. He’s going to give up NFL touchdowns, obviously. He’s going to be challenged — and beaten — more in the NFL than he ever was at Cincinnati. He probably needs to get stronger.

He has all the skills that the Giants would appear to be looking for.


Alan Baker asks: We have been told by Giant management and media that Daniel Jones has been held back, at least in part, in part by the poor performance of the offensive line.

How can the Giants make a proper evaluation of Jones this year when the O Line looks like it again will have mediocre to poor players?

Ed says: Alan, I would argue that the Giants’ offensive line heading into the draft should already be better, on paper, than what the Giants fielded a year ago.

I think Mark Glowinski is likely an upgrade to Will Hernandez at right guard. I think Max Garcia and Shane Lemieux are better at left guard than Matt Skura. Jon Feliciano is probably a wash with Billy Price at center, with both being adequate.

There is some experienced depth. And, oh yeah, the draft is coming. Your starting right tackle is probably in the draft class. Your starting left guard might be, as well.

Do I think the Giants are going to field an all-world line in 2022? No. I think, though, that it should be at least competent — and that’s a huge improvement.


Sel Gok asks: The Giants have spent a load of money in the secondary the past few years, in both free agency and the draft. They traded a second, fourth, and fifth round pick to move back into the first for DeAndre Baker. They’ve spent fourth round picks on Julian Love and Darnay Holmes. They spent a second round pick on Xavier, and a third on Aaron Robinson. Not to mention the late round fliers in Corey Ballantine or Chris Williamson. In spite of that draft capital, they then went out and signed three starters in Bradberry, Logan Ryan, and Adoree’ Jackson. Now with a top 10 pick, they’re looking at Gardner from Cincinnati. Now I know the secondary is important, and that this is a new regime, but isn’t it possible/plausible that even without a top pick there’s a starter to replace both Ryan (Love) and Bradberry (Robinson or Holmes)? Is it unreasonable to expect third and fourth rounders to be starters at some point in their rookie contracts?

Ed says: Sel, no it’s not unreasonable to expect third- and fourth-round draft picks be starters at some point. Darnay Holmes, Aaron Robinson and Julian Love could all be contributors in the secondary. I think Robinson could be a very good player, especially if the Giants are able to keep him in the slot.

Thing is, you’ve got to look realistically at what the Giants have. DeAndre Baker is gone. Corey Ballantine and Chris Williamson were late-round picks who didn’t make it. The Giants let Logan Ryan go. They are going to have to trade or let James Bradberry go. once Bradberry is gone, they will not have a No. 1 cornerback. Love is a versatile reserve, but they only have one bonafide starting safety in Xavier McKinney. Robinson is probably best in the slot. I’m not sure Holmes is an NFL starter.

The defensive backfield is a need, no matter how many resources the Giants have put into it in recent years.


George Wallace asks: Can you see a scenario where the Giants select Kayvon Thibodeaux and Travon Walker with picks 5 &7?

Ed says: No. Absolutely not. I can easily see scenarios where the Giants select ONE of those players. Both? Why? They have Azeez Ojulari and other young edge rushers. They have needs like offensive line, cornerback, safety and inside linebacker. Edge defenders with both of their top 10 picks? No way.


Jason Byam asks: Assuming Bradberry gets traded, do you think the Giants would entertain the idea of drafting Sauce Gardner and Stingley at 5 and 7? I think there is a chance those two players might be atop their big board. With Martindale preferring to play man to man the idea of Sauce Gardner, Stingley on the outside and Darnay Holmes/Aaron Robinson playing the slot (McKinney and Love at safety) is exciting. Maybe pickup a tackle in round 2, what do you think?

Ed says: Man, what is this with the “doubling up” questions. Same answer as above. No. Absolutely not. And for anyone who is thinking it, I’m not in favor of doubling up on offensive tackles at 5 and 7, either. You take Gardner OR Stingley — I would much prefer Gardner. You still have Adoree’ Jackson, who is being paid a lot of money and is going nowhere. You have Aaron Robinson. You have other needs. You take a premium player at a different position and, if you want to double up on cornerback later in the draft, fine.


Rick Debes asks: Immediately after the draft the signing of undrafted free agents occurs. My question is aside from Victor Cruz what if any others undrafted players went on to be stars or have successful careers for the Giants.

Ed says: Rick, Victor Cruz is the gold standard for UDFAs. The kind of career he had after going undrafted is, though, the exception. What you hope to find are players who can be useful. Rich Seubert went undrafted and started for a decade. Jake Ballard went undrafted and was a big part of the 2011 Super Bowl team. He started his career with the Jets, but ‘Snacks’ Harrison was an undrafted player. Defensive end Kerry Wynn was a useful player. Fullback Henry Hynoski had a couple of good years. Linebackers Chase Blackburn and Mark Herzlich. I’m sure there are more.