Like many of you who are reading this article, Thursday evening was a nerve-racking experience for me. I suppose it was easier than the start of the free agency period - checking my Twitter feed every five minutes for a week to see if any players had been signed by the New York Giants. At least Day 1 of the NFL Draft is condensed into 3-4 hours.
But it’s been many years since I had to wait until almost my bedtime to hear my team’s first round selection announced. The rational part of my brain says that’s a good thing - Kansas City Chiefs fans usually have to wait this long or longer. The irrational part fills with Howie Roseman or Jerry Jones conspiracy theories (which have at least once turned out to be true) or simmers with knee-jerk misgivings about the Giants’ brain trust. See the photo at the top of this article, which pretty much captures my own initial reaction to the Giants’ selection of Daniel Jones in 2019. (Note to self: The hot takes you write below are just that - wait until you see the player perform for a few years before passing judgment.) On the bright side, I thank the Miami Dolphins for tampering with Tom Brady and Sean Payton, thereby shortening my wait by 15 minutes tonight.
This year, though, I have faith in Joe Schoen, Brandon Brown, the Giants’ beefed-up analytics staff, and their spanking new high-tech “war” room. (I mean, it does look like they could launch and guide drones from there to take high-res photos of Howie’s and Jerry’s big boards.)
My road to a successful Day 1
I know what I want the Giants to get out of this evening: A top-flight cornerback or wide receiver. I also know that there’s going to be a run on both before the Giants pick, and that there are probably no more than about four players at each position who are first-round values.
The best way for the Giants to get one of those is for a few teams to draft players that most experts don’t have in the top 25 on their big boards. So leading up to the late evening, I want to see the unexpected: Not only the top four quarterbacks off the board, but Hendon Hooker, too. I want tight ends Michael Mayer and Dalton Kincaid to be taken before No. 25 (not only to make it more likely that a top CB or WR falls to No. 25, but because of the recent rumors that the Giants are interested in Mayer). I want Falcons’ GM Terry Fontenot to please run-happy head coach Arthur Smith by taking Bijan Robinson at No. 8 (doubly because that would keep Robinson, who will be a great player, out of the NFC East).
I’m also antsy about the rumors that Joe Schoen might trade up in Round 1. I’m generally not a fan of trading up, but I could see it this year, when the most desired players may be just out of reach otherwise. If Schoen shakes up the draft board tonight, I’m with him if it means getting a playmaking cornerback or wide receiver. If he doesn’t, then when No. 25 arrives, I do not want to be saying, “Who’s that?” or “You passed on (fill in name)?” as I admittedly did in response to most of Schoen’s picks on Day 2 and 3 last year.
It’s 8 p.m. EDT, showtime. Below are my reactions to the evening as it progressed.
I expect the evening to get off to a relaxing start. None of the Giants’ division rivals are picking yet, and I have reconciled myself to the idea that the two top cornerbacks, my draft crush Devon Witherspoon and also Christian Gonzalez, will come off the board in this segment. So I can just sit back and enjoy the spectacle of the draft analysts guessing which quarterbacks come off the board when. My guess is Young, Stroud, Richardson, Levis, in that order.
But...I don’t put it past the Eagles to trade up into the top 10 to try to grab Jalen Carter (or Will Anderson Jr. if he drops).
[8:20] Just as Bryce Young is about to be announced as the No. 1 pick, it is reported that the Eagles are getting the No. 66 pick from Arizona in return for the Eagles’ No. 94 pick plus a fifth-rounder in 2024 as compensation for Arizona’s tampering violation in the hiring of Jonathan Gannon. Unbelievable.
[8:43] The Giants picked the right year to play Carolina, Houston, and Indianapolis. Might have been a little more difficult this year. But Levis not going at No. 4 raises the question: Will he go before No. 25? If not, that makes it more likely a player the Giants like might not be there when they pick.
[9:13] OK, Atlanta takes Bijan Robinson. Good news for the Giants. But the Eagles have just traded up one slot to No. 9 with the Bears, we’ll see what that’s about. Meanwhile, h/t to Charles Davis for pointing out that the Giants don’t go the playoffs this past season if Gettleman doesn’t draft Saquon Barkley.
[9:20] Of course, the Eagles take Jalen Carter. Sigh.
Here is where I start to be on pins and needles as a Giants fan. The intrigue begins with Tennessee at No. 11. They could help the Giants by taking Will Levis or hurt them by beginning the run on wide receivers by Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
[9:34] The Titans do neither, taking OT Peter Skoronski.
[9:37] Shocker! RB Jahmyr Gibbs to the Lions! Great news for the Giants! Somebody take Levis, please. Hey Bill Belichick, you and Mac Jones don’t see eye to eye, go get him!
[9:43] The Packers help the Giants out a little by taking edge defender Lukas Van Ness. In some of my mocks they took a wide receiver. I should have known, the Packers never draft a wide receiver in Round 1, just ask Aaron Rodgers.
[9:53] We’re down to No. 15, and cornerback Christian Gonzalez is still on the board. I didn’t expect that at all. We’ll see if the Jets take him, but if not, it’s starting to be advantage Giants because Washington, who’s up next, is probably in the market for a cornerback, and I’ve assumed Joey Porter Jr. is going to them. If one of Gonzalez/Porter/Banks doesn’t go soon, the odds of the Giants getting one is much better. Also, wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba is still on the board, also a (good) surprise.
[10:00] Will McDonald IV to the Jets at No. 15! Good player for them, great news for the Giants! Nine more picks to go, and Christian Gonzalez, Joey Porter Jr., Deonte Banks, Emmanuel Forbes, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jordan Addison, and Zay Flowers are all still on the board. That means I only need three more teams to do the Giants a favor to guarantee a pick that I would be happy with (if Joe Schoen agrees, of course).
[10:06] Wow, Forbes. Thought the Commanders would take a cornerback, but no one had Forbes being CB2 off the board.
[10:09] Gonzalez off the board to the Patriots. I’m surprised he dropped that far. Still waiting for three teams to help the Giants out.
[10:17] Whoa, Jack Campbell to the Lions at No. 18! Two more to go!
[10:21] Calijah Kancey to Tampa Bay! Only one more team is needed to help the Giants out: Porter, Banks, Smith-Njigba, Addison, and Flowers are all still in play.
This is the minefield for the Giants. The Seahawks, Chargers, Ravens, and Vikings at least could well be hunting for a cornerback or wide receiver or both. I’m not sure what direction the Jaguars would be looking for - if anyone takes a tight end like Dalton Kincaid, it might be them.
[10:31] Jaxon Smith-Njigba off the board to Seattle at No. 20. Still looking for help. I can see now that this is going to come right down to the wire, isn’t it? Of course it is. The fate of the Giants fan. Maybe someone will take Quentin Johnston and I’ll breath a sigh of relief.
[10:37] Johnston to the Chargers! Porter, Banks, Flowers, Addison - I’d be thrilled with any of them. Don’t disappoint me, Joe Schoen.
[10:46] @#$!% Zay Flowers, really liked him. Good choice for the Ravens, Lamar will be happy. Still, Porter, Banks, Addison still out there, and only two more teams in between one of them and the Giants.
[10:55] Addison it is. So, if the Giants pick Joey Porter Jr. or Deonte Banks I’ll be happy. But the Giants just switched places with Jacksonville. What’s up with that, and what did they give up? Answer that comforts me: They like one of Porter and Banks better than the other. Answer that worries me: They want Michael Mayer, as several of the experts have been saying this week. Let’s see.
With the 25th pick, the New York Giants select...
[11:03] DEONTE BANNNNKKKKSSSS!!!!! I love it! Giants gave up No. 160 and No. 240 to do it, which isn’t too bad. I’d love to know why they liked Banks so much more than Porter that they would give up two picks to ensure they get him, but we’ll never find out. I’d also like to know why Porter is dropping so much in this draft. Deonte Banks was No. 20 on the consensus big board entering the draft, and he’s been mocked to the Giants for a long time. He’s CB3 on Chris’ and Nick’s big board.
The NFL Trade Chart Calculator says the Jags won the trade, which is not surprising. Trade-downs are usually a better move than trade-ups - more bites at the apple in an uncertain draft. It’s clear the Giants liked Banks and wanted him, and history says you really have no idea whether a player you like is worth giving up draft assets for. But I’m OK with that:
A long wait, but a very satisfying conclusion. I feel that the Giants made a great choice, and their defense is starting to look very solid. Well done, Joe Schoen!