Mostly, I think we learned that Schoen is unafraid to think for himself, to build the Giants his way.
Schoen was a hero to Giants fans starved for good news on Thursday night after selecting edge defender Kayvon Thibodeaux and offensive tackle Evan Neal, two immediate upgrades and potential stars, in Round 1.
Overnight, fans and some national draft analysts seemed to think Schoen suddenly morphed into a Gettleman-esque dummy after he surprisingly selected Kentucky wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson at No. 43 after two trades down from No. 36.
Almost everyone loves the Thibodeaux and Neal selections. The other nine selections are playing to mixed reviews.
Thing is, there can and should be disagreements about the picks. There was all manner of disagreement leading up to the draft, why would there be universal agreement after it? I was certainly surprised by some of the picks, and even after months of studying for and talking about the draft was unfamiliar with some of the selected players.
BBV’s Chris Pflum is totally flummoxed. After writing 100 or so prospect profiles, Chris watched in confusion as Schoen’s final nine selections were all players he had not done profiles on.
“I’m wondering if Schoen and I looked at the same player pool,” Chris messaged me at one point on Saturday.
There is, though, nothing wrong with that. First of all, teams have full-time scouts who scour the country looking for and learning everything they possibly can about players they believe might fit what they want to do. The thousands of man hours they spend and the mountains of information they have at their disposal is far more than anything we could ever hope to acquire.
I think Giants fans should feel good that Schoen did this draft his way. The Schoen Way. Not the Dave Gettleman Way. Or the Daniel Jeremiah Way. Or the Mel Kiper Way. Or the Ed Valentine Way.
I said this early in Dave Gettleman’s tenure when he had some head-scratching decisions. I don’t want a general manager who makes decisions based on media or fan consensus. I want a GM who does the work, knows what he wants and why he wants it, then makes his own decisions about how to go about getting it.
I think Schoen absolutely did that.
Head coach Brian Daboll was effusive after Round 1 in praising Schoen’s preparation for all of the various ways the first seven selections could have played out.
“I thought we were well-prepared for tonight, and when it fell the way it fell, we already had that in the plan,” Daboll said. “I told you he was prepared. There was not a lot of talking at all [when the Giants were on the clock]. It was calm, composed. And I think you can be that way when you’re prepared, when you put the time in and you have the conversations before they happen.
“Again, I can’t tell you how many different scenarios we went through the past week, so we felt however it was going to unfold, that, you know, we would be ready for whatever decisions we had to make.”
Schoen had said he wanted to be comfortable picking any of seven players in the first six picks. He admitted Thursday to being comfortable with only six and having “ a contingency plan” — one of his favorite phrases — if they were gone by pick No. 7.
“Brian is not kidding around. We had every possible scenario based on how the top of the draft went, and it was really a unique draft,” Schoen said. “Typically you have an idea of who is going to be first and second, and there were rumors of it and rumors of who was going to go third, but you didn’t really know. Everybody was kind of speculating on that. So we were prepared for a lot of different scenarios.”
That preparation and execution of an agreed-upon plan continued into Day 2.
Schoen was brutally honest that heading into Round 2 of the draft his plan was never to pick at No. 36, where the Giants were originally slotted.
“We just thought it was what was best for us at this time. More picks would benefit us the most we thought based on who was on our board,” Schoen said. “We had deals in place before the Draft started. So we were confident. We knew we could move back. That was part of the plan.”
Something else that was part of the plan was targeting specific players for specific reasons. The Robinson selection was a perfect example.
No one expected the diminutive Kentucky wide receiver to be selected in the top half of the first round, least of all by the Giants with a similar player in Kadarius Toney. Schoen, though, said the Giants had “a very clear vision for the player” and made sure they got him. If that was a round earlier than other teams might have selected him, so be it.
Honestly, think about the Kansas City Chiefs and the very similar duo of Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman the past few seasons. Let’s say Toney stays with the Giants and becomes something akin to their version of Hill, while Robinson becomes Hardman.
Is anyone going to care at that point that Mel Kiper thought Schoen overdrafted Robinson?
Reality is, no one knows how any of these players is going to do in the NFL.
The Thibodeaux and Neal picks have been widely praised, but there are no guarantees they won’t bust. Draft analysts might be proven right about Robinson. Or, maybe Schoen will have the last laugh.
Same with other picks.
- The Giants needed a tight end — they got Daniel Bellinger.
- The Giants needed a safety — they got Dane Belton.
- The Giants needed offense line help — they got three of them.
- The Giants needed cornerback help — they selected Cordale Flott.
- The Giants needed a nose tackle — D.J. Davidson can do that.
- The Giants needed linebackers — they got two of them.
Schoen knew what he wanted, and needed, to do. He accomplished it. Now, we just wait to find out if he and the Giants’ scouts and coaches targeted the right players.
A few other Schoen notes
A few more things I think we learned.
Schoen either saw all of the players he drafted play in person or visited with them at some point during the draft process. In the past, there have been players the Giants drafted without visits.
“A lot of these guys — not to show my hand in the future, but you guys are good at tracking this stuff — but, yeah, we want to feel comfortable with the individuals as well as the player, and I think pretty much all these guys we spent significant amount of time with, whether it was coming here or going to see them,” Schoen said.
“I would say after all the preparation, Zoom calls, interacting with the kids, going and seeing them or having them in your building, you’ve got enough information where you say, yeah, I’m good with this kid, can we all see the film, I’m good with this kid as a person and his ability to learn football and what he’ll bring to the organization. We try to get all that information so when we turn the card in with anybody, we are at that point.”
Versatility was important.
“Guys that have versatility, we wanted to add depth at competition to the roster, which I think we did. Again not every guy is going to come as a starter. It takes time. Guys have to develop,” Schoen said. “Over time, you have to have depth players and frontline players. I think the idea was to get the best we could. Defensively, the guys with versatility. And offensively, as you’re around Brian, you’ll see, he’ll take the pieces and whatever we have and develop the offensive scheme around those pieces that we have, and Wink kind of adheres to the same philosophy.”
How Schoen identifies developmental upside.
The deeper you get into the draft, the more warts players have and the more development they will need. Here is a hint from Schoen about the type of players he is looking for
“When you look at guys with developmental upside, if they have height, speed and character, the history of those guys developing is a little bit higher than others,” he said. “Definitely when you get into day three, you do take that into account. It is important, I think.”
Other draft thoughts
I think James Bradberry’s future with the Giants remains up in the air.
“We are going to work on that. We have had some conversations. I’ve talked to his representative. We’ll see where that goes,” Schoen said Saturday afternoon. “I don’t have a definitive answer on that right now, but we are working towards some contingency plans.”
I think I’m fascinated to see how Kayvon Thibodeaux’s career turns out. I also thought this from Nate Davis of USA Today was a perfect line about the Giants’ No. 5 overall pick:
Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon’s massively talented pass rusher, is on top of the marquee – which is exactly where he wants to be.
I think Joshua Ezeudu is going to be an easy player to root for. I also think you need to read this.
Lastly, I think Sam Prince was the highlight of the entire draft.