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May 03, 2017

NFC East 2017 draft grades: Giants edition

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After focusing on the Philadelphia Eagles' draft since last Thursday, yesterday we began taking a look around at the rest of the NFC East, one team at a time, starting with the Dallas Cowboys.

Today, we take a look at the New York Giants' draft.

First round: Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss: Engram isn't your typical tight end. At 6'3, 234, he's shorter and lighter than a handful of NFL wide receivers. As such, you would expect that he would have great athleticism, which he does, posting the following impressive numbers at the Combine:

I like Engram quite a bit as a player, and it's going to be difficult for opposing defenses to cover Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard, and now Engram. However, pick 23 for him was a bit early, and while it will be difficult for opposing defenses to cover the Giants' skill players, the Giants will likely continue to struggle to protect against opposing pass rushes.

Second round: Dalvin Tomlinson, DT, Alabama: In high school, Tomlinson was the Georgia state wrestling champion three times, pinning some poor bastard in nine seconds in the finals his senior year. He anchors very well against the run, as you might expect from his wrestling background. He also does a good job of pushing the pocket, although he doesn't have much in the way of a pass rush arsenal. You'll also see his motor when you watch him, as he chases plays downfield from his defensive line spot. 

Tomlinson was offered a scholarship to Harvard for his academics, and to Alabama for his athleticism. How many people can say that? Ironically, the former may actually hurt Tomlinson's draft stock, as teams may worry that he's "too smart." Also of concern will be that Tomlinson has torn an ACL in both knees, although it's been a while since his latest tear, which was in 2013. 

While I like Tomlinson, round two was a little early for him. Run-stuffing defensive tackles are not premium players, and it's not even as if the Giants need one, seeing as they already employ Snacks Harrison. This was a puzzling pick.

Third Round: Davis Webb, QB, California: Webb was the only player drafted in the first three rounds in the NFC East that I have not already profiled previously, so we'll let NFL.com's Lance Zierlein do the heavy lifting here:

System quarterback with more than 65 percent of his attempts coming inside of 10 yards. Webb has enough raw talent to be considered a developmental prospect, but his decision-making and accuracy issues beyond 10 yards is a big red flag that might be tough to overcome in the NFL.

I also thought this was funny:

"He obviously is going to need coaching after being in those offenses at Texas Tech and Cal. I think he has enough between the ears to unlearn some of his bad habits and start to get things right. I see another Nick Foles if you give him time to develop." 

-- AFC area scout

With good coaching, his ceiling is Nick Foles!

In all seriousness though, Webb does make some sense as a player with raw ability that the Giants can take their time to groom behind Eli Manning. However, he won't help at all in the short term, and he was the fifth- or sixth-best quarterback in a very weak class.

Fourth round: Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson: And in the fourth round, we have the first pick I like for the Giants. Gallman was the running complement to Deshaun Watson and Clemson's passing attack. He's a little leaner than preferred, and thus he's not much of a pile-pusher, but I love the way he runs. He is a physical, determined runner who breaks a lot of tackles in space, and looks to dish out punishment to would-be tacklers. 

With 65 career receptions, Gallman also has some receiving ability. He does a nice job catching the ball with his hands and then immediately transitioning as a runner. He'll bring some toughness to the Giants' offense.

NOTE: This draft pick was moved back from pick No. 129 overall to pick No. 140. That was the Giants' laughably light penalty for the improper usage of walkie-talkies during a crucial Week 15 game last season against the Dallas Cowboys.

Fifth round: Avery Moss, DE, Youngstown State: Moss was the lesser of Youngstown State's two quality pass rushers. He has good production (59 tackles, 17.5 TFL, 10.5 sacks, and four FF), as well as big hands and long arms, which are all obvious positives. On the downside, he put up just 14 reps on the bench press, and he got kicked out of Nebraska in 2014, both of which raise character flags. Moss has pass rush skills, but he's going to have to get stronger if he's going to hold up in the run game at the NFL level.

Sixth round: Adam Bisnowaty, OT, Pittsburgh: During the season, I profiled Bisnowaty, although it was early, and I was watching his 2015 games. Here was my takeaway on him:

Bisnowaty started in 43 games in his college career, all at left tackle, however, he'll likely move to right tackle in the pros. The words you'll often see to describe Bisnowaty are physical, scrappy, tough, etc. That's often a kind way of saying a guy isn't athletic, but he tries hard. In Bisnowaty's case, he has decent athleticism and he excels in the run game.

When I saw the Giants got him in the sixth round, I was surprised he lasted that long. Well, there was a reason. Apparently, he didn't show that same athleticism on tape in 2016 that he did in 2015, per Lance Zierlein of NFL.com:

Appeared to struggle with an athletic decline in 2016, which could be due to his injury history. In a phone booth, Bisnowaty can handle himself with pure brawn and power, but once he's forced to play in space, his athletic limitations become more pronounced. He'll likely have to move to the right side, but athletic opponents will always cause him problems. His ceiling could be as a low-end starter while his floor is fighting for a roster spot within a couple of years.

Oof. Perhaps Bisnowaty will heal up and be closer to the player he was in 2015 than 2016. The Giants better hope so, because this was the only offensive lineman they selected, despite offensive line being a clear-cut need.

Conclusion

This was not a good draft to need offensive line help. Here are the number of offensive lineman taken in the last 15 drafts. Note the comparatively minuscule number in 2017:

 YearOffensive linemen drafted 
 200345 
 200441 
 200549 
 200651 
 200741 
 200840 
 200940 
 201038 
 201141 
 201244 
 201341 
 201445 
 201547 
 201641 
 201734 


Giants VP of player personnel Mark Ross called the offensive line a "perceived need," via USA Today:

“Probably inside this building we feel better about a lot of things than most outsiders feel,” Ross said. “If we feel like there is a player of value and need at the right place and the right time, we are going to take him. We’re just not going to jump over players that we feel are better players who can contribute to reach for a perceived position of need.”

While I agree with the notion that you should take the best players available instead of reaching for needs, I disagree that the Giants' offensive line is merely a "perceived" need, as opposed to an obvious, tangible one, and the Giants did very little this offseason to fix it.

As for the picks themselves, the Giants added some good players, but I don't believe that the majority of them were good value. This was an odd draft. 

I'll give it a C-.


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