We are now less than two weeks away from the 2023 NFL Draft. Here are a couple of things I am thinking about as the weather warms up in the Northeast, but football refuses to ever leave our consciousness.
‘Nobody knows nothin’
One NFL insider says the Giants are focused on wide receiver and cornerback with their pick at No. 25 in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Another says they are targeting Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz. Another believes pass rusher is in play.
What does it all mean? This:
Nobody knows what the Giants, or virtually anyone else, is going to do on the night of April 27.
In his ‘Football Morning in America’ column last Monday, Peter King told a great story about how things used to be for journalists covering the draft vs. how they are now. The kind of ‘just walk into a coach’s office’ for a one-on-one chat kind of access King describes as commonplace back in the day made jealous. More to the point, though, it illustrated how easy it was to get information back then vs. how nearly impossible it is to get an accurate picture now.
Why did King write it? Let him explain:
I relay this story this week, 2.5 weeks before the draft, because of how impossible it is to predict drafts these days, and how humorous it is that Wyche served up my first one on a silver platter.
I thought about this Saturday evening when I was swapping information — or trying to, anyway — with a well-connected operative from a team with a pick in the top 12. “I don’t know what’s happening in front of us,” he said. “Anything.”
“I’m not kidding.”
No one wants to hear that, but the longer I’m in this business, the more I absolutely believe the draft mystique until the final hours. As one agent with 30 years of experience told me Saturday: “The mocks this year are going to be laughable. So many guys repeating the same thing, trusting guys who might not know anything.”
So, nobody knows what Giants GM Joe Schoen is going to do. Schoen doesn’t know. He might know what he would like to do, but 24 general managers have to make decisions before he gets a chance, so there is no telling what the board will look like.
‘The disease of me’
Michael Lombardi has been a guest on the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast. That, though, doesn’t mean I’m a fan of the former NFL executive. Lombardi has a long history of bashing the Giants, and it is generally advisable to take much of what he says about the team with a grain of salt.
Including his latest “disease of me” diatribe.
The "Disease of Me" is creeping into the Giants locker room after Jones' big deal, with Barkley and Lawrence skipping workouts. Daboll needs to snuff this out because this team is not good enough to deal with these issues.— Michael Lombardi (@mlombardiNFL) April 13, 2023
Check out #GMShuffle at https://t.co/b4sYN4CC91 pic.twitter.com/KRpOYpIhX8
There is an unsurprising shot at Daniel Jones in Lombardi’s words. There is a mischaracterization of the relationship between Dexter Lawrence and the Giants’ front office. Lombardi is probably absolutely right that Saquon Barkley is feeling under-appreciated by the Giants these days. This “disease of me” stuff and the implication that paying big money for Jones is already causing or will cause locker room dissension is a bunch of hogwash.
Did Lombardi not notice the massive number of players who — voluntarily — joined Jones for throwing sessions in Arizona recently? Did he not notice that the under-appreciated and obviously jealous of his quarterback Barkley was in attendance? There are, obviously, a lot of hard feelings about the quarterback getting paid.
Has Lombardi not been paying attention to the fact that Giants GM Joe Schoen has been saying for weeks now that the Giants want to reach a long-term deal with Lawrence, and that there have been discussions with Lawrence’s reps?
“Dexter’s great’’ Schoen said a few weeks ago. “Leader, great player, did a good job for us this year so he’s definitely somebody we will talk to and we’d like to have him here for a long time.’’
The recent deals reached by defensive tackles Jeffery Simmons (four years, $94 million, $66 million guaranteed) and Daron Payne (four years, $90 million, $59 million guaranteed) mean that coming to terms with Lawrence won’t be simple. Lawrence wanting that kind of money doesn’t mean he has “the disease of me.” It means he sees what the market is paying for defensive tackles at his age and with his skillset, and wants fair market value.
Barkley’s situation is different. He made it clear at the end of the 2022 season that he wouldn’t be thrilled if the Giants used the franchise tag on him. They did and, guess what, he’s not thrilled.
Barkley and his agent, Kim Miale, turned down a deal worth more than $12 million annually during the 2022 season. They believed they could get more, but the running back market tanked this offseason. Tony Pollard and Josh Jacobs also got tagged. Miles Sanders, who is likely just a cut below Barkley, took a four-year deal for $25.4 million, an average annual value of $6.35 million. That’s less than half what Barkley has been said to be seeking.
Giants co-owner John Mara has been clear that he wants Barkley to remain with the Giants long-term. Unless Barkley accepts that the market has changed, that might end up meaning two years of franchise tags and going from there.
I don’t blame Barkley for trying to get as much as he can. He has already seen how fragile his career could be, and this might be his only window to seek a mega-deal. Market realities, though, mean he might have to adjust his expectations. Regardless of what Lombardi, or Micah Parsons, believes.
Big Blue View draft coverage
I can’t sign off without touting the massive amount of draft coverage we have already produced, and will continue to produce, leading up to the draft. Check out our Giants 2023 NFL Draft Hub Page for dozens of prospect profiles, mock drafts, player comparisons and a plethora of other features.
If you like podcasts, I have been talking to draft prospects and a number of top-notch analysts. Chris and Nick have been breaking things down, as well. Check out Big Blue View Radio wherever you listen to podcasts for those.