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April 30, 2019

NFC East 2019 draft grades: Giants edition

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042819DaveGettleman Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports

The Giants' brain trust.

After focusing on the Philadelphia Eagles' draft since last Thursday, let's take a look around at the rest of the NFC East, one team at a time, starting with the cellar-dwelling New York Giants.

Round 1, Pick 6: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke: With the sixth pick ("Pick 6") in the draft, the Giants took a quarterback who probably didn't belong in the first round, at all

Jones is a nice quarterback. He has ideal size at 6'5, 221, he throws an accurate ball with good touch (though his completion percentage is low because Duke's receivers stunk), he has some mobility, and he's thought of as a smart kid. Certainly, there are plenty of things to like about him. In case you've never seen him, here's a highlight reel: 


But good God, pick 6?!? Gross. Jones does not have great arm talent, and it's not likely to get much better, because he already has good mechanics. By that I mean it's not like he's going to get to the next level, and NFL coaching is going to drastically improve his delivery, allowing him to throw with better velocity or accuracy than he did in college.

When asked what the selection of Jones meant for the possibility of this being Eli Manning's last season in New Jersey, GM Dave Gettleman said that Eli might not be going anywhere. 

"Absolutely not," he said. "Maybe we are going to the Green Bay model, where (Aaron) Rodgers sat for three years. Who knows? It’s one of the deals where it doesn’t make a difference what position it is, you can never have too many good players at one position."

In the 2018 NFL Draft, the Giants passed on a far superior quarterback prospect to Jones in Sam Darnold to take a running back, albeit a great one.

When asked about positional value in the draft after 2018 draft, Gettleman responded, "I think it's a crock. At the end of the day, a great player is a great player. (Former Giants GM) Ernie (Accorsi) and I have talked about it a lot. He's a touchdown maker. He is a touch... down... maker. He is a threat to take it to the house every time he gets his hands on the ball. 

"Like I said, I think a lot of that is nonsense. I think it's someone who had this idea, and got into the analytics of it, and did all of these running backs and went through their whatever. Hey, Jonathan Stewart is in his 10th year, and he has hardly lost anything. 

"I don't believe in it. I don't care who you take. They can all get hurt. Nobody is immune."

I should note that this was the infamous moment in which Gettleman mimicked a nerd typing on his keyboard, while a half-asleep Pat Shurmur watched his fingers:

The Giants have no idea what they're doing, and until they purge this regime and get some competent thinkers making decisions again, they are going to be a train wreck.

Round 1, Pick 17: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson: Personally, I liked Lawrence more than most. In college, because Clemson had an absurd overabundance of pass rushers, Lawrence didn't get many opportunities to rush the passer, and he finished his three-year career with 10 sacks. However, in my view, that doesn't mean he can't affect the passing game. If you single block him, because he is so big, strong, and surprisingly nimble for his size, he'll more often than not push the pocket, while getting his share of sacks and hits as well. 

For once in my life, I found myself nodding in  agreement with Gettleman in his assessment of Lawrence, even if he sounded a little creepy at the end of the quote.

"This is where numbers don’t tell all the story," Gettleman explained. "Defensive tackles can affect the pass rush if they get consistent inside push. How many times have you guys watched a game, and the ends come screaming off the corner, and the quarterback steps up, and there’s nobody there. You get inside pass rush, those ends come screaming off the corner, they’re going to affect it, and if the guy is getting push, the quarterback is going to step up and Dexter will give him a kiss."

Ugh. I agreed with something Gettleman said. Hang on, gonna go take a shower.

Of course, the Giants traded all of their good edge rushers, so Lawrence's effectiveness will be wasted to some degree until they find new ones, which isn't exactly an easy thing to do.

• Round 1, Pick 30: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia: Baker is another player who I liked quite a bit, and thought was worthy of a late first-round selection. According to cfbfilmroom.com, Baker allowed just nine completions and one TD on 34 targets in 2017. He had three interceptions. In 2018, he allowed 10 completions and no TDs on 27 targets, and two interceptions. Baker is also a very good tackler. In 2017, he had 44 tackles, and only had four missed tackles, a good ratio for a corner. In 2018, he had 40 tackles and no missed tackles, again, according to cfbfilmroom.com. 

However, he's on the smaller side, and he ran a below average 4.52 at the Combine. Also, the cost to move up to get him wasn't cheap. To move up seven spots from 37 to 30, the Giants had to give up a fourth- and a fifth-round pick. If Baker were a top 15 type of player still available that late, then sure, go ahead and pay that premium. As is, I don't think he was worth the cost to move up.

• Round 3, Pick 95: Oshane Ximines, DE, Old Dominion: Ximines had good numbers at Old Dominion, posting 32.5 sacks, 51 tackles for loss, and 11 forced fumbles the last four years. Of course, a lot of that damage was done against some lower-level right tackle tomato cans. Still, he possesses athleticism as an up-field rusher. 

On the downside, he is thought to need significant work against the run, which is less important as a 3-4 OLB in James Bettcher's scheme than it would be as a 4-3 DE. In my view, Ximines is a developmental prospect with some nice upside, but also a low floor. The Giants need edge rushers, and Ximines represents appropriate value where they drafted him.

Round 4, Pick 108: Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame: Love's biggest strength, by far, is his ability to get hands on the football. In 2017, he had a highly impressive 20 pass breakups. In 2018, he had 16. He also has three career return touchdowns (two on INTs, one on a fumble recovery). However, while a confident player, he doesn't have ideal speed (4.54), and he's not a particularly physical player.

Round 5, Pick 143: Ryan Connelly, LB, Wisconsin: Connelly was out-produced over the last four years at Wisconsin by T.J. Edwards in pretty much every way. Connelly got drafted in the fifth round, while the Eagles nabbed Edwards as an undrafted free agent. Odd pick.

Round 5, Pick 171: Darius Slayton, WR, Auburn: Speed guy. Slayton ran a 4.39 40, and had a career 20.3 yards per catch average. However, in three years at Auburn, Slayton had just 79 catches for 1605 yards and 11 TDs. His best season was 35-670-5. Still, this was decent value for a wide receiver with Slayton's speed.

Round 6, Pick 180: Corey Ballentine, CB, Washburn: I can't say I've seen my share of Washburn games, but Ballentine has very good measurables.

Round 7, Pick 232: George Asafo-adjei, OT, Kentucky: I'd be lying if I said I've ever heard of this gentleman.

Round 7, Pick 245: Chris Slayton, DT, Syracuse: Four years at Syracuse. 104 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 30.5 TFL, 4 FF. That's all I got.

GRADE: On the whole, the Giants got a few good players, but ultimately the complete botching of their draft a year ago carried over into 2019, when they felt forced to take a second-round quarterback prospect with the sixth overall pick. What a nightmare. F.


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