A simple, but not easy, draft strategy for New York Giants

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: Saquon Barkley of Penn State poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #2 overall by the New York Giants during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: Saquon Barkley of Penn State poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #2 overall by the New York Giants during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

After selecting rookie-of-the-year Saquon Barkley in last year’s NFL Draft, the New York Giants have to reassert themselves this year, starting with the No. 6 selection.

That may seem to be a simple proposition to many New York Giants fans, but keep in mind that former general manager Jerry Reese did not effectively work the draft. He relied exclusively upon his draft board, which was proven to be defective with the likes of first-round busts like tackle Ereck Flowers and cornerback Eli Apple being called “best available player” by the front office.

With regard to this year, keep in mind that every draft thins out in elite talent at some point, and the role of the general manager is to understand when that’s going to occur. The 2019 NFL Draft will be a challenge for current general manager Dave Gettleman in that regard, as more than a couple players have medical issues that drop them from “elite” status.

That means that Gettleman, at No. 6, is tinkering at the edges of an sure-shot elite talent. Also that’s not to say that a player won’t develop into an elite talent, but gambling with the No. 6 overall selection isn’t wise.

Two NFC East rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys, garnered elite talent at a massive discount due to gambling on the recovery of Sidney Jones (Achilles) and Jaylon Smith (knee) in their respective drafts. But the injuries that Jones and Smith suffered meant both would miss their respective rookie seasons.

Right now, there are concerns over a duo of Mississippi State stars: edge rusher Montez Sweat (heart) and Jeffery Simmons (knee). Surely, medical teams have reviewed reports on both players, and a franchise has to have a comfort level of when the risk versus the reward goes askew.

With both guys in play, this draft had six or seven truly elite players, now at best, it has five to six, depending upon how Murray turns out in the pros.

Having said that, I expect this draft to have future Pro Bowlers littered throughout the bottom part of the first-round and into the second.

The Quarterbacks

As much as the draftniks are trying to put lipstick on this pig, let’s be very clear, last year’s quarterback class was better – much better. First, Baker Mayfield (Cleveland Browns) and Sam Darnold (New York Jets) were more polished than anyone in the current crop of QBs. With regard to Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills) and Josh Rosen (Arizona Cardinals), well, let’s just say, the jury is still out.

Back then, I wasn’t in love with Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens), but at least there was more than a season’s worth of productivity on film. Jackson had been running the Louisville Cardinals for three full seasons.

Which brings us to the status with Kyler Murray.

There’s the issue of size, and Jackson showed demonstrative leadership traits, yet not so much for Murray. If the Arizona Cardinals want to hitch their franchise to Murray and new head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who am I to argue.

I’m just saying that I would not do it, but at least they are putting the money where their mouth is.

Truthfully, I take Jackson over the former Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma every day of the week, and twice on Sunday. And Jackson went late in the first-round.

At No. 6, many evaluators are asking us to fall in love with Ohio State signal-caller Dwayne Haskins. To me at this point, it seems like a forced pick. Even though I had a different spin on the Saquon Barkley selection last year, I never felt like that was a shotgun wedding.

I’m sorry, based upon pure feel, I can’t go here with Haskins.

First, take Haskins stats with a grain of salt, as he won’t find the likes of Rutgers or Illinois in his NFL schedule. No doubt he has a strong arm, but Haskins also has Eli Manning-like lead feet. His forty-yard dash at the NFL Combine was eye-opening in that it was actually slower than Manning’s time back in 2004.

As for the the other guys, many general managers have lost their jobs relying upon a guy like Drew Lock to save their franchise. Arm strength is good, and he has nice leadership qualities. But didn’t Blake Bortles possess the same attributes coming out of Central Florida?

Finally, if I have a chance to execute a trade at the back end of the first-round, in order to draft Daniel Jones (Duke), I may take a shot. It would depend upon the price tag, as well as players I’ve already secured with the No. 6 and No. 17 draft selections.

Now remember, the G-Men already have running back Saquon Barkley, so they aren’t necessarily looking for next Aaron Rodgers. Instead, Alex Smith 2.0 could be what Gettleman and company seek, and that’s the biggest argument in favor of Jones.

It’s not 100 percent compelling.

Fact of the matter remains that all of these quarterbacks have question marks, and I wonder aloud if taking a Ryan Finley (N.C. State) or a Jarrett Stindholm (Auburn) in the third-round may actually make more sense.

Mark my words, this quarterback class will make or break someone’s franchise, and perhaps in a Ryan Tannehill or Jameis Winston (years of mediocrity) kind of way. As much as Gettleman opines about “best available player”, and gives no dispensation for the quarterback position, he forgets the human element inherent with drafting.

Fans eventually forget about blown draft picks, but they always remember the one who got away.

Defense wins championships

I’ve said this before on several different levels, this draft abounds in high-end defensive talent. I fully expect Quinnien Williams (Alabama), Josh Allen (Kentucky), and Nick Bosa (Ohio State) to be high impact NFL stars.

More from GMEN HQ

I am thinking the same thing with linebacker Devin White (LSU) too. The problem for the New York Giants may be that 4 + 1 = 5, and Big Blue has the sixth overall selection. So four star defensive players, plus quarterback Kyler Murray, may mean that Gettleman get stuck holding the bag on Rashan Gary (Michigan) or Ed Oliver (Houston) at No. 6.

I can’t say that I’m really comfortable with that.

At that point, I would rather move down and acquire other assets, if the Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, or Cincinnati Bengals want to do business. Moving down allows me to grab a Clelin Ferrell (Clemson), Jerry Tillery (Notre Dame), or Brian Burns (Florida State) with the acquired first-rounder, and then get more defense in the second and third rounds, as well as a right tackle.

There remains an outside chance that one of the teams in the top 5 goes off the rails, and somehow Quinnen Williams or Josh Allen drops into Big Blue’s lap.

Let’s take a look at the math in that scenario. So that becomes 2 + 3 = 5, with two quarterbacks (Murray, Haskins) being taken, with Bosa, Allen, and then linebacker Devin White being grabbed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

There’s an outside chance of that occurring, and the Giants get to select Williams at No. 6.

Long story short, if the New York Giants are committed to Devin White, he may be the natural pick in No. 6 slot, as long as some combination of Murray, Boas, Williams, Allen, Haskins, Oliver, or offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor go 1 through 5.

Otherwise, it will get interesting very fast for Giants fans.

Later rounds

Barring any trade, the New York Giants second-round selection (No. 37) could provide an opportunity to fill the right tackle hole. Greg Little (Ole Miss), Max Scharping (Northern Illinois) and Dalton Risner (Kansas State) are worth the investment in that draft slot.

In addition, safeties Nassir Adderley (Delaware) or Taylor Rapp (Washington) could help bolster Big Blue’s defensive third level, and complement new additions Antoine Bethea (free agency) and Jabrill Peppers (Beckham trade).

(Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images) /

I’m high on Maryland’s Darnell Savage, who won’t be available when the Giants select in the third-round (No. 95), so the G-Men will have to move up into the late second or early third-round in order to secure his talents.

Speaking of the No. 95 overall selection, based of available players, it may be a spot where Big Blue looks to bolster the cornerback position.  A few names to look at are: Joejuan Williams (Vanderbilt), Isaiah Johnson (Houston), and David Long (Michigan).

The Giants typically don’t bite on small school prospects but Jimmy Moreland (James Madison) and Corey Ballentine (Washburn) definitely piqued my interest with impressive game tape. Moreland could be an option at No. 95, and Ballentine, who is more raw, may be worth a flier in the fourth or fifth round.

Trending. New York Giants: Narrowing down options at No. 6. light

At linebacker, Drue Tranquill (Notre Dame) would be a coverage upgrade for the New York Giants, while Germaine Pratt is more a run stopper at the second level. Target both guys with a third-round grade

Finally, the New York Giants deficient pass rush could use help throughout the entirety of this draft, even if high picks are used on this need. Later round prospects to keep an eye are: Maxx Crosby (Eastern Michigan), Jachai Polite (Florida), and Oshane Ximines (Old Dominion).