While there’s still four more selections to be made, let’s just call a spade a spade–no one will know or care about the 5th or 6th round draft pick unless he starts making plays. Giants fans want to know who the early round picks are and more specifically, if they play offensive line. The symphony of voices for one or more offensive linemen in this draft may be left disappointed. Last year, the Giants did not select an offensive lineman for the first time in a long time, and although I would be surprised if the went that same route this year, fans were not able to impress upon them the desire for early selections to be paid towards the offensive line.
Instead, the Giants added a new-age TE with favorable NFL comparisons and top-end speed that should turn the middle of the field into a Kentucky Derby straightaway. Evan Engram of Ole’ Miss brings a 6’3, 235 lb frame with 4.42 40-yard dash speed to the skill position group. By comparison, that is a faster 40-yard time than Odell Beckham Jr. An offense that lacked both a middle of the field threat and size on the outside has doubled down on both this off-season. I might have been lukewarm about the pick in realtime, but since then I’ve combed enough of YouTube and online reports to key in on his actually ridiculous receiving potential. When you compare quite favorably to Jordan Reed and Aaron Hernandez THE PLAYER, I will take a liking to you. What concerns me more about the pick is his aptitude for blocking, but it’s noted that Engram has that nasty streak and commitment that you sometimes need more so than technique in order to execute a block.
Topically, I envision the addition of Engram–coupled with the free agent signing of Brandon Marshall–adding much-needed diversity to Ben McAdoo’s menu-sized play sheet. Considering the vanilla nature of their offense, I have to assume there was an oversight by whoever put the Oaktag into the Xerox. The addition of both players size and Engram’s blazing speed will make for some fascinating situational sub-packages on offense, particularly on short yardage downs and in the red-zone. For the first time in a long time, I believe they have a viable two Tight End package that can vary depending on the situation. In run situations, they can trot out Ellison/Engram and motion out Engram to exploit a favorable matchup. In the goal line, they can power through with that same duo or in longer redzone situations, trot out Jerrell Adams and Engram for a size mismatch across the board. Such a grouping is reminiscent of Patriots offensives that involved three red-zone tight ends aligned tight in a goal-line formation, but subsequently motioned out to exploit the best matchup. A goal line package of Ellison, Engram, Adams, Marshall and Beckham would be absolutely devastating.
Let’s not forget about how it adds to the inherent tempo of their offense. In hurry up situations, there is no defense on their schedule that can match the grouping of Vereen, Beckham, Shepard, Marshall and Engram. The opposition will only be able to hold their breath and hope for the best. You might assume Engram cuts into Shepard’s share of targets, but I would contest that widening Engram while Shepard operates from the slot would only make 87 more dangerous. Given how the Giants like to move Beckham around the formation and how Beckham takes advantage of matchups he’s motioned into, 13 will greatly benefit from having Engram on the field. If Engram is split out, with Marshall on the opposite sideline, Beckham can matchup against a slot receiver, a position that he’s consistently flamed in his career. If he draws the number one corner in the slot, than it’s likely man coverage and Engram has a linebacker or safety split out against him. Given his measurements and film, that is losing proposition for the defender.
I know people are disappointed there hasn’t been proper mind paid to the offensive line. It’s been a frustrating affair with Ereck Flowers at left tackle. The former first round pick has been a dud at Left Tackle thus far, but Right Tackle and Right Guard are no better off. What is the plan then? I honestly cannot tell you. A team that struggled to close games out with their offense would greatly benefit from having extra bodies up front to pass protect and run block when the Giants need to close games out. I have to imagine the Giants target some offensive linemen on Day Three, but at that late in the game you can only hope they add competition to the OL room. If this OL bottoms out, we could be looking at a situation similar to Minnesota last season–steady QB play and dominant defense but because of downright terrible offensive line play, an offense that was terrible.
Besides, NFL offense’s are layered and without a Tyron Smith or Jack Conklin available for the Giants at 23 or 55, correcting the offense isn’t so straight forward. It’s a nuanced approach to correct an offense that often times was a Magikarp splash attack last season, and one that will rightly draw criticism from everyone and their mother. Do I love the approach? Not by any stretch, but I’ve grown to become confident in Jerry Reese and Marc Ross’ approach to drafting since 2013. They’ve overcome a period of drafts from 2008 to 2012 that bore a wasteland of talent and depth and have turned the roster into a serious Super Bowl caliber roster. I’m always bullish on the Giants, but this is by far the deepest and most talented team they have had on paper since 2008.
On Dalvin Tomlinson
Second round selection Dalvin Tomlinson is a 6’2, 357 lb DT from Alabama. In some people’s minds, that’s the wrong Line to be addressing. With the departure of Jonathan Hankins, the Giants needed to add a quality player to pair with Snacks in order to continue their defensive dominance from last season. According to reports and testimonies, Tomlinson is as clean as a whistle, and he’s the kind of big-bodied, powerful interior lineman that the Giants love to use as a clog against the run. Dion Dawkins and Zach Cunningham were both available, but there’s no reason to forfeit a player that can contribute right away on defense for what’s potentially an OL project in Dawkins. Cunningham’s initial projection might have made him the more desirable selection, but the Giants defensive philosophy boils down to stopping the run and playing great coverage. It appears as though they are content to go into the season with their pass-rush rotation being JPP, Olivier Vernon, Romeo Okwara, Owa and Devon Kennard.
On Davis Webb
Maybe it’s the idea of life after Eli that feed the polarizing reactions on the Davis Webb selection. Folks, that day is fast approaching, and if the Giants are unprepared for that day, the correlating season will be an unmitigated disaster. You need a quarterback in this league to win games, and the Giants made a value selection on Eli’s potential replacement. You’re probably unfamiliar with Davis Webb of Cal, so let me loop you in: He’s a 6’5, strong armed transfer from Texas Tech. Texan fans have nightmares about tall quarterbacks, but Davis is an athletic quarterback with fluid motions and as stated before, an incredibly strong-arm. He comes from a system in Cal that utilizes similar footwork and timing components as the Giants. His college stats are respectable for a quarterback who played for a flat-out bad football team while playing against good competition. To me, his NFL comparison is Joe Flacco: Tall and strong armed, but also very mobile and athletic, with fluid mechanics and footwork that make them viable in the pocket. Webb is raw, but I’m confident in McAdoo as QB tutor. Two years behind Eli Manning and under McAdoo should give this kid a shot to maximize his potential.
This draft will need to age before we can properly levee judgement, but from an immediate value perspective it is a solid draft thus far. I literally cannot emphasis enough how badly they need to draft multiple OL today. It has been 10 straight rounds without selecting an offensive lineman. That streak must be broken today.
Who’s Winning the Draft So Far?
Big shoutout to the 49ers thus far. They made the Bears negotiate against themselves and thus fleeced them so Chicago could move up one spot in the first round. Then, they selected their desired target game wrecker Solomon Thomas. After some more maneuvering and acquiring of draft capital, they selected controversial LB Reuben Foster from Alabama, considered by many to be one of the five best football players in this draft. John Lynch has made a helluva transition to the GM chair thus far.