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Big Blue View mailbag: Positional value, cap issues, Aaron Robinson, more

The mail’s here!

Another offseason Saturday, another Big Blue View Mailbag. Let’s get to some New York Giants questions.

Bob Donnelly asks: There is a lot of talk about positional value, especially as we approach draft day. It appears to me that the value placed on a position is somewhat subjective and is influenced by a team’s philosophies/styles for offense and defense.

Based on your observations of the Giants key decision makers how do you think they rank the value of each position? And how much influence do you think positional value comes into play on draft day?

Ed says: Most NFL talent evaluators have grown up with the philosophy that quarterbacks, left tackles and pass rushers are your most important players, and that in general players who directly impact the passing game (so, by extension wide receivers and defensive backs) are more important than those who do not.

What were Joe Schoen’s first three picks as a rookie GM? Pass rusher, offensive tackle, wide receiver. Six of his first seven selections (Thibodeaux, Neal, Wan’Dale Robinson, Cor’Dale Flott, Daniel Bellinger, Dane Belton) are players who have direct involvement in the passing game, or defending the passing game. Guard Josh Ezeudu was the exception.

Positional value absolutely comes into play. It has to, both on the field and in terms of resource (salary cap) allocation. You want to spend your money in the right places. As a team-builder you also have to look at how much money you are allocating to a position, how many draft resources you have already poured into it, and decide whether you can afford to do more.

Gino Phillips asks: At one time wasn’t there a school of thought that Aaron Robinson could compete for the slot corner with Holmes? Is that still a possibility? I do not see that referenced as much these days.

Ed says: Gino, I think this Giants regime likes Robinson on the outside. Wink Martindale made reference last year to the game being easier for Robinson on the outside. That said, anything is possible. If the Giants select a cornerback in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft maybe they consider looking at Robinson inside. We’ll see.

Andy Loesberg asks: The Giants resigned punter Jamie Gillan who had an unspectacular year, especially with directional punts and punts inside the 20 yard line. There hasn’t been any reviews of special teams players by the BBV staff. Do you like any of the punters in this draft and do you think the Giants will draft a punter in the later rounds? What about bringing in another veteran punter for competition?

Brian Sheitman: I am very pleased with the Giants offseason moves except for one, resigning the punter Jamie Gillan. I think the contract also included some guaranteed money. To my non-professionally trained eye, despite having a big leg, he seemed way too inconsistent. What are your thoughts on him and have you heard anything about the Giants possibly using one of their 6 picks from the 5th through 7th rounds on a punter.

Ed says: Wow, two Jamie Gillan questions. Gillan was inconsistent for much of the 2022 season. We have acknowledged that many times. Gillan, however, was much better over the final few weeks of the season. Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey was very complementary of his work near the end of the year, and constantly talked about how talented Gillan is.

I’m going to be honest about the draft. I have not studied a single punter, and don’t plan to. I don’t think the Giants will draft a punter. They wouldn’t have re-signed Gillan and guaranteed him $1 million if they planned to do that. Could they bring in a veteran to compete, or at least push, Gillan? Absolutely. Of course, I was surprised they never brought in competition for Gillan during training camp last year.

Jim Moriarty asks: Outside of the first round of last year’s draft, many Giants fans (as well as writers locally and nationally) were scrambling for profiles of Giants draftees. One year does not a trend make, but after last year’s draft, and Schoen and Dabs apparently professing their preferences (scheme fit, production, position flexibility over measurable and potential?). Do you expect (similar to last year after Round 1, with a few exceptions) that the players the Giants draft will not match up with national perceived draft value?

Ed says: Jim, anyone who has followed the draft for a while should understand that there is no such thing as an NFL Consensus Big Board that teams work from when they select players. Every team has a different big board that they spend a long time putting together. Every team has different coaches, different schemes, different measurables they prefer, different beliefs in how much risk and the type of risk they are willing to tolerate.

Dane Brugler’s draft guide has more than 400 players in it. There are probably more than 300 guys with draftable grades. NFL teams, though, will enter the draft with a big board of 150 to maybe 175 players they are willing to draft. Not 300. Guys get removed for everything from scheme to measurables to personality/culture.

The result of all of that is that there are surprises every year. Teams have much more information about players available to them than you do, or I do, or even some the premier draft analysts like Brugler, Daniel Jeremiah, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay. Teams have often had multiple in-person meetings with these players. They know exactly what skill set they are looking for. All of that factors in when it comes to how the value players.

So, yes, there are always going to be picks that don’t appear to agree with the consensus. Wan’Dale Robinson and Cor’Dale Flott were examples last year. I’m sure there will be more this year.

David Nelson asks: It’s exciting to see so many Giants offensive players in Arizona. What work can they realistically do while out there? Is it more about just bonding? Do lots of teams do this offseason meet up as well, or only a few? What are your takeaways from these gatherings?

Ed says: David, a big part of workouts like that is the bonding experience. Many of the players there are new to the team, and that’s valuable get to know each other time. On the field, they can throw generic pass routes and maybe introduce some terminology to players who are new to the team. Every rep with new guys like Darren Waller and Parris Campbell is valuable for Daniel Jones, so it is all helpful. I do think a lot of quarterbacks host things like this. The impressive thing this year was the long list of players working out with Jones. Sometimes, it is only three or four guys.

Edwin Gommers asks: An average QB can do well behind a league wide top 5 o-line, but even a good one will struggle behind a porous one. Carson Wentz looked like an MVP in 2017 and Brady looked pedestrian last year when Cappa left, Marpet retired and Jensen got injured. With the Giants needing to fortify their o-line and there being good WR, CB and C value in Rs 2 and 3 (Tillman, maybe Hyatt, Downs, Forbes, Rush, Turner, Stromberg and Oluwatimi) why is there so little love for a kid like O’Cyrus Torrence who seems like the top OG by wide margin in this class and the Giants could definitely use help at the G spots. What are we missing/not seeing here?

Ed says: Edwin, I think fans/media/draft analysts are hung up on the idea that the real “need” position is center. Now, could the Giants draft Torrence if they think he is significantly better than John Michael Schmitz or Joe Tippmann, the consensus top centers, and move Ben Bredeson to center. Sure they could. I don’t think it’s likely, but it could happen.

Jason Byam asks: Hello Ed, my question has to do with the “Top 30” visits. What exactly happens on a typical visit? Are the players allowed to work out? Have a medical check? Do they watch film and talk? Go out to dinner? Seems like the Giants like to have players come at the same time (Hutchinson and KT last year and Zay Flowers and Hyatt this year) do the prospects spend time together?

Ed says: Jason, it is against the rules for players on Top 30 visits to work out. That’s what the All-Star games, the combine and pro days are for. Players are brought in generally for an organization to get to know them better. Players will tour the facility, meet the coaching staff, meet personnel in the building, meet players who might to working out at the facility, and spend a lot of time with GM Joe Schoen and the coaching staff. There might be whiteboard work. Maybe dinner. There could be medical checks.

These are often used to clear up any lingering questions teams might have about players. Maybe they have two wide receivers and a split opinion among personnel people about which one is the right guy. Maybe they bring both in, spend a day with them, see how they mesh and whether the fit feels right. These visits might be used to recruit players who could be expected to go undrafted, hopefully increasing a team’s chance of signing an undrafted player they like.

I don’t know how the interaction works when a team has more than one prospect in for a visit.

David Brenner asks: I hear lots of talk about Giant’s draft needs for this year, but very little about their needs for next year and beyond, which doesn’t make sense to me. To wit: Leonard Williams is in the last year of his contract, and it seems unlikely they’ll be able to keep him after that, given the looming huge contract they’ll need to dish to sexy Dexy. So, maybe they should put DL at the top of their list now, given it’s importance and the dearth of emerging talent at the position, rather than have to draft a rookie DL next year. That’s why I’m disheartened no one is projecting Kalijah Clancy as our first pick. Have you seen this guy? He’s built like a pit bull on steroids. Folks are comparing him to Aaron Donald, which no doubt is hyperbole. Still, could we use a pass-rushing DL with huge upside to replace Williams? We’d be insane not to have that as a top — if not the top — priority given that you win games and championships in the trenches. Thoughts?

Ed says: David, fans make this mistake all the time. They are always focused on the upcoming season. Thing is, the draft is not necessarily about the upcoming season. It is about collecting the best talent you can for the next four of five years, it is about adding pieces for down the road. That is part of the GMs responsibility. He has to be able to look down the road and which players are in the final years of their contracts and — whenever possible — draft players who might be able to develop into replacements in a year or so.

As for defensive line, it absolutely has to be a priority. Kancey and Bryan Bresee are players who could come off the board right around No. 25, and it wouldn’t shock me if the Giants go in that direction. Joe Schoen has been clear that the Giants need more defensive line help, and with Leonard Williams’ future uncertain drafting to get ahead of possibly losing/moving on from Williams in a year is a good idea.

David Silver asks: I am confused about why they signed JC Hassenauer. They lost Nick Gates and Jon Feliciano. The Steelers dump Hassenauer to upgrade their offensive line, where he started a few times but was never a starter. They say he will be able to compete for the starting role. How is that an upgrade if he starts? If he is a backup, and he is called upon, is he better than Nick Gates who was starter material? He was a reserve at Alabama too. Even as a backup he isn’t likely to be better than where they were. If he is there to teach and push a rookie, that’s even worse, because that means we are starting a rookie while saying we are upgrading the offensive line. What do you see?

Ed says: David, I am going to disagree with the idea that the Steelers “dumped” Hassenauer. They made a business decision that they did not want to pay their backup center more than $2.6 million, so they chose not to tender him as a restricted free agent.

Fact is, the Giants lost Gates and Feliciano in free agency. The Washington Commanders massively overpaid Gates in my view. I believe the Giants would have liked to have Feliciano back, but while they were busy handling other business Feliciano decided not to wait for them.

Nobody is making the claim that Hassenauer is an upgrade over the players the Giants lost. They were, though, in a position where entering the draft there was no true center on the roster. There were only guards who “could” play center.

The Giants needed options, and they didn’t have a lot of salary cap space to shop for bigger-name options. Hassenauer’s contract has not shown up on Over The Cap yet, but it is likely a minimum deal with nothing guaranteed.

Brian Daboll was with Hassenauer at Alabama for a year, so he knows his skills and how he works. Hassenaeur’s Pro Football Focus grades seem to show that he did an acceptable job in his limited opportunities with Pittsburgh.

Signing Hassenaeur was about adding depth and increasing options. There is no guarantee he makes the 53-man roster.

Josh Diamond asks: Is it strange that the only players that I care about getting extensions are Jones (which was already done), Lawrence and Thomas as these are the main building blocks right now. KT and Neal are still too early to tell. Are there any other players that you see getting extensions? Should the front office concentrate on these two players right now to get extensions and base future cap calculations on just these three players for now.

Ed says: Josh, there is a natural order to these things. Right now, the Giants are dealing with the Saquon Barkley and Dexter Lawrence contract situations. Andrew Thomas is the next no-brainer extension, but the Giants don’t have to do that now. They certainly could, but they could also let the season play out, exercise the fifth-year option on Thomas and figure out a long-term extension next offseason.

The one I’m curious about right now is Xavier McKinney. Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll said all the right things after McKinney’s Cabo misadventure last season, but I have to believe that McKinney lost trust from the organization, and that he has work to do in order to get a long-term extension. The other thing is that in reality McKinney was nothing special before he got hurt last year. If he wants a big-money second contract from the Giants he needs to be more of a difference-maker than he was in 2022.

Jesse Sorel asks: The Giants on have 3-4 million in salary cap. They still have as of now 10 draft picks to sign. Also could use some money for in season use. How are the Giants go into free up more salary cap? Mara said he expects Leonard Williams back, and why would the Giants extend him anyway. Extend of often injured Adoree Jackson? Extend Lawrence at 22 million a year? If they back load dexters contract wouldn’t that put a burden on future years? Do you think Schoen prematurely made Golladay a pre June 1st cut? In your opinion what is the best way for the Giants to obtain more cap room?

Ed says: Jesse, let me start with the Kenny Golladay part of your question. No, I don’t think GM Joe Schoen made a mistake making Golladay a standard pre-June 1 cut. The Giants had a choice between splitting the remaining money over two years or just having it all count against the 2023 cap and being done with it. They chose the latter option, knowing exactly what that would do to this season’s cap.

The Giants will get a long-term deal done with Dexter Lawrence, and they will use a signing bonus to drive his 2023 cap hit down from its current $12.407 million. If they get a long-term deal done with Saquon Barkley, the same thing will happen. The deal will be structured to drive the 2023 cap hit down from the $10.091 million the franchise tag is costing.

There is also still the matter of Leonard Williams. Schoen says the Giants have not approached Williams about doing anything with his contract. Sooner or later, though, I have to believe they will look to negotiate some type of short-term contract extension to drive his $32.26 million 2023 cap hit. BBV’s Rivka Boord recently projected what such an extension might look like.

They could probably extend Adoree’ Jackson and/or Mark Glowinski, but my instinct is they probably don’t want to do that.

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