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7 takeaways from Joe Schoen: Making Saquon sweat, ‘30’ visits, more

Giants’ GM talks draft, Barkley and Lawrence contracts, more

NFL Combine Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen addressed a wide variety of topics Thursday during his pre-draft media availability. Here are some takeaways.

Making Saquon sweat

I continue to believe that a long-term deal with running back Saquon Barkley will get done. At some point. It has been clear since the beginning of the offseason, though, that Barkley was not Schoen’s No. 1 priority.

Schoen is continuing to play that card. He has Barkley on the franchise tag. He knows the running back market is depressed. He knows the last offer he made to Barkley, which is no longer on the table, was for more than twice the money Miles Sanders received in free agency. Although he says he has not talked to Barkley in several weeks and does not know his plays, he has to believe Barkley won’t go the Le’Veon Bell route and sit out if he doesn’t get what he wants.

The GM says there is no rush to sign Barkley. He will finish handling the draft. He will deal with Barkley later. All along I have felt like Schoen believes he has the leverage, and he is probably right.

Better news on Dexter Lawrence

While the Giants and Barkleys’ reps are currently ignoring each other, Schoen said there have been “good conversations” within the last week about a long-term contract extension for defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence.

“Dialogue’s good there,” Schoen said. “It’s hard this time of year. We’re deep into the draft and the draft prep, but we’ve had good conversations.”

Sounds like something will get done with Lawrence, but that it will likely not get finalized until after the draft.

Playing the board

Schoen has 10 picks in the upcoming draft. He was asked if 10 rookies could make the 53-man roster. HINT — they can’t. Schoen, of course, would not say that. He only said the additional picks give him options.

“We’ll see how the draft plays out. Right now we have 10, so as we’re going through it if there’s somebody we want to move up for we have some extra draft capital to do that. If we want to move back and collect some (picks) we can do that, too.

“I’d be open to any of that. I’m never going to rule it out. If it’s the right player and the value aligns, I’d move up. If it was a future pick, I would do that, too.”

Schoen reminded that the draft is not just about filling out the 2023 roster.

“You’ve got to look at the roster not just today, but 2024, 2025, who’s coming up. Financially there are some players coming up that are making a pretty good chunk of money on our team and some contracts on the horizon potentially,” he said. “I think it’s important to try to build depth and competition. That’s what we’ll try to do with those picks.”

Last year, Schoen moved back twice in the second round before selecting Wan’Dale Robinson. Thursday, he explained part of the logic.

“Last year, just where we were financially, we needed as many depth pieces as we can. So moving back a couple times last year just made sense,” he said. “It got us some more bodies that - so that was a little bit of the thought process that went into that.”

Schoen said he would be open to trading picks for a veteran player.

“Yeah, we’ll always pursue any type of opportunity to better the roster.”

There are rarely 25 players in a draft class with pure first-round grades. Schoen wouldn’t say how many of those players he believes are in this class, only that he believes the Giants will land a good player.

“We have guys in the first round that we like,” Schoen said, “and we are pretty confident that there will be somebody there when we pick at 25 that we’ll be happy with.”

Schoen gave no hints about how he might be leaning In Round 1.

“There’s players at all positions that are in the mix at 25, and I’m not going to rule any position out,” Schoen said.

What is a successful draft pick?

How would Schoen describe draft success, especially when picking later in the draft?

“We like to look at the play time over three years,” Schoen said. “Usually, it’s over three years what their play time is, their contribution, whether they development into a starter; that’s obviously a hit. If they turn into a good starter, that’s good. That’s what you strive for. But there’s also role players and there’s really good special teams players that you value.

“So again, it’s their role. It’s their fit on the team, their contribution over that four-year period. But usually after three years you know if they are a contributor or not and there’s going to be different types of contributions.”

Finding the fits

Drafting is not just about snagging the most talented player or players. It is about finding the players who fit your scheme, your coaching, your culture.

Schoen admitted that has been easier with the offense, where he and head coach Brian Daboll have a relationship from their days together with the Buffalo Bills, than with the defense. Schoen and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale had never worked together, and Martindale runs a different type of defense than Schoen had previously scouted for.

“The offense has a very defined plan on how they’re going to utilize certain positions. It makes it easy to go scout players for them,” Schoen said.

Identifying the right players for Martindale has not been as easy.

“I wouldn’t say we weren’t aligned a year ago. It was just trying to get a grasp on how the players were going to be utilized in Wink’s system,” Schoen said. “So, I wouldn’t say we weren’t aligned. We ended up, there’s consensus building, but there’s definitely after going through a full season and a training camp and seeing it applied, how he’s going to utilize players. There’s a better comfort level, not just myself but even Dabs. Dabs had never worked with Wink, either; as we’re going through it, how he’s going to utilize players first down, second down, third down. So yeah, there’s definitely a better comfort level this year, but I wouldn’t say we weren’t necessarily aligned last year.”

The GM did, though, admit there has been a learning curve. Especially when it comes to front seven players.

“We’ve had to retrain a little bit how we look at different positions or the value we put on them based off Wink’s system, and I think that’s what’s most important is what is the value for the Giants and how do we see them and how they are going to be utilized, which we are still having those conversations. We definitely had to retrain how we think about some things at different positions and what the value of those traits are that we covet and where those align in the draft. But definitely feel better going into it this year in terms of what exactly he’s looking for.”

Finding mid-round gems

Schoen was asked about the key to finding players who can succeed in the middle to late rounds of the draft.

“It’s not only what we can see on film. I think that’s why we go and spend so much time with these kids is try to figure out the makeup,” he said “When you get to this level everybody’s good. What’s going to give you the competitive advantage, why is a fourth or fifth-round player gonna make it? Is it their work ethic? Is it their tireless pursuit of being great? Whatever it may be you try to identify those traits through this process.”

The value of ‘30’ visits

The GM admitted something interesting about the ‘30’ visits that draw so much attention. Sometimes a player is brought in for one last get-together to confirm that he is NOT a player the team wants to draft.

“Some of it’s elimination. Maybe there’s some uneasiness with a player, maybe we need to confirm they’re not a fit,” Schoen said. “Or, how will they pick up our system? Our offense is very complicated. Or, it can be medical if they’re non-combine. There’s varying reasons for why we bring players in.

“It’s a great opportunity not only to get them around myself and Daboll and the coaches, but the rest of our support staff ... it’s just good to be around these players as much as you can.”