NFL Draft 2021: Projecting roles for each of NY Giants’ rookies

The NY Giants left NFL Draft weekend with six new players, and two additional picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, with several players potentially in the mix to start as rookies.

General manager Dave Gettleman deserves high marks for the 2021 NFL Draft, both in terms of maneuvering up and down the board while bolstering the NY Giants’ draft capital, and seemingly finding value-impact players throughout the weekend.

Here are projected roles for each of the NY Giants’ draft picks:

Round 1: Kadarius Toney

Role: Potential starting slot receiver

Toney‘s speed and ability to be a playmaker after the catch is best deployed from the slot, which could be bad news for NY Giants receiver Sterling Shepard.

Given that the NY Giants chose Toney in the first-round, a Sterling Shepard trade isn’t out of the question. If the NY Giants trade Shepard post-June 1, the organization would free up $7 million, while absorbing a $2 million dead-cap hit this season and $4 million dead-cap hit in 2022.

Regardless, expect Toney to play starter-caliber snaps.

Round 2: Azeez Ojulari

Role: No. 1 edge rusher

There were several executives inside the NFL who had a first-round grade on Ojulari, who slid to pick No. 50, right into the edge-rusher-needy NY Giants’ arms.

Given that Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines are both coming off significant injury, and the NY Giants did not add an edge rusher in free agency, the path seems clear for Ojulari to open training camp as a starter in Patrick Graham’s defense.

Round 3: Aaron Robinson

Role: Special teams contributor, backup nickel cornerback

Suddenly, cornerback is among the deepest positions on the NY Giants’ roster, but Aaron Robinson‘s versatility to man up on the outside or make plays in coverage and against the run from the slot will help him get on the field.

Despite the NY Giants’ crowded secondary, he should be able to be a special teams contributor immediately.

Round 4: Elerson Smith

Role: Rotational pass rusher

Smith’s explosiveness and vast repertoire of pass rush moves give him the chance to push for snaps immediately.

However, he’s looking up at Carter, Ximines, Ojulari, and perhaps Ifeadi Odenigbo. Special teams will likely be Smith’s ticket to both making the roster and making an impact early in his rookie season.

Round 6: Gary Brightwell

Role: No. 3 running back

Saquon Barkley is entrenched as the NY Giants’ starter, and bell-cow in the backfield, with DeVontae Booker likely the change of pace back.

But, Brightwell’s explosiveness and ability as a big-play threat, should get him on the field and he likely has the inside track on a roster spot as the NY Giants’ No. 3 running back and special teamer.

Round 6: Rodarius Williams

Role: No. 4 outside CB

It might be an uphill climb for Williams to make the roster at a crowded cornerback position, but he’s a ballhawk with the kind of length that defensive coordinators covet at outside cornerback, which will help his cause.

Matt Lombardo is the site expert for GMenHQ, and writes Between The Hash Marks each Wednesday for FanSided. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattLombardoNFL