As Big Blue scuffles to win ball games down the stretch, management should be evaluating the squad.
If New York Giants brass does so honestly, they will see a clear need for an infusion of speed. Ironically, New York’s first-round draft pick, Evan Engram, runs a 4.42 second forty-yard dash. He’s also a tight end.
Sure, at times, Engram’s speed does create match-up problems. On the other hand, it’s also an attribute that cannot be utilized on a vast majority of snaps, especially in a West Coast offense.
Think of highly productive tight ends – Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez or Rob Gronkowski – do they have sprinter’s speed?
Engram is a nice player, and he will be All-World right now with the talent drain at receiver. He also will never be a transformational player. Sorry to burst your bubble.
Putting Engram aside for a moment, besides Odell Beckham, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins, where is the New York Giants speed?
Let’s be real. Drafting an offensive lineman because of his speed seems nonsensical. Same goes for the defensive line. Sure, it helps to have speed to get to the quarterback, but other player attributes are more important.
The same theory applies at quarterback. All things being equal, then speed helps. But speed shouldn’t trump arm strength and mechanics at QB. Last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, Eli Manning showed enough mobility to get by. With a modicum of protection, Manning can thrive, speed or not.
This discussion speaks to the New York Giants draft ideology.
New York Giants
General Manager Jerry Reese often opines about “best available player”. That’s a hard pill to swallow when talking about cornerback Eli Apple and tackle Ereck Flowers. The ideology seems to be to try and hit home runs with every pick.
Those who swing for the fences every time up, usually have a low batting average.
Compare and Contrast
Everyone gushed about the Evan Engram pick in last year’s draft. We were told – this speedy tight end will create match-up problems for defenses.
Has he actually done this in reality?
His longest reception came in Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys. It was 31 yards. With a depleted receiving corps, Engram has five touchdown catches. His statistics aren’t shabby, but let’s not give him a bust in Canton yet either.
He’s a nice player with a bright future. How he gets the Giants to the next level is up for debate right now.
Compare that with second-round pick Dalvin Tomlinson (Alabama). A three-time Georgia state champion in wrestling, Tomlinson was seen as a “need” selection. With the departure of Johnathan Hankins, Tomlinson has stepped in and done well. According to Pro Football Focus, he’s attained an 83.7 grade thus far. That’s just a hair below Hankins – who garners a 84.4 grade. And “Big Hank” also comes with a big paycheck.
Besides being an athlete, Tomlinson is a football player. His position does not rely upon speed, so the idea is to draft “football players” to fill those positions.
Need for Speed
Moving forward, the New York Giants can use a speed upgrade in several area. First, running back needs a speed upgrade. Incumbents Orleans Darkwa and Wayne Gallman should remain for depth. And do not sacrifice speed for productivity, but be on the lookout for a fast halfback.
Evaluation website, the Football Outsiders, uses a measurement called speed score. It should be taken with a grain of salt. It combines the forty-yard dash time with the player’s weight. Big guys, who can run fast, are tough to tackle.
Remember, they still have to pass the football player eye test.
One of the worst non-quarterback draft picks ever was Darrius Heyward-Bey by the Oakland Raiders in 2009. He was/is fast, but not a football player. The same may apply this season to John Ross (Cincinnati Bengals).
At wide receiver, adding speed, through a real football player, would be helpful. Obviously with Beckham around, this will not be a top priority. It can help OBJ shoulder the load though.
Defensively, speed at linebacker can help tighten up the unit. Once again, not the top priority in player acquisition, but something to think about.
Finally, if Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie depart after this season, then speed at cornerback will also be necessary. The lack of progress by Eli Apple makes this a potential hot spot for the G-Men.
Overall, looking at the roster, there’s a lot of work to be done. And this cannot be accomplished through one draft class or free agency. But overall, the New York Giants should have a mission statement that reads – draft football players with speed.