The Giants Stuck to Their Guns This Draft and Got Better Because of it

As asinine as it is to believe the Giants quest for a 5th Super Bowl this season lies solely in adding OL pieces, it sure is easy to scream about it.  I have been as adamantly against any draft strategy that precludes selecting an OL in the first few rounds as you can be.  I have also been as big a critic of Jerry Reese’s as you can be, but I’ve come around on the veteran GM.  There has been times when his words carry an indiscretion for the current state of affairs that angers Giant fans, and his uncooperative and apathetic approach in front of a microphone doesn’t exactly make him lovable.  But he is someone who on draft day, sticks to the board and does not compromise for a positional need or any hype.  He’s rigid in his team building philosophy, emphasizing playmakers at the skill position, strength in pass rushing numbers and depth at the cornerback position.

I can’t pinpoint the difference between the 2013-2017 drafts that have made them far more successful than the 2008-2012 drafts, but a switch was flipped somewhere and all of a sudden I fully and totally trust what Jerry Reese is doing for the Giants.  Even if he passed on high-rated offensive linemen in the first and second round, he did so in favor of players that fulfilled team needs, who also were held in esteem by the Giants draft board.  Dalvin Tomlinson will start right away, and from all accounts is a high-character individual coming from one of the most prolific defensive line factories in the football world.  Wayne Gallman will make the running back room better, one of a few positional blackholes on the Giants roster since 2013.  And if you have been remotely satisfied with the Tight End play since the start of this decade, you must hold yourself to some trench-like standards.  That is why Evan Engram was a great pick in the first round, even if you personally liked David Njoku more because a talking head told you so.

Right away, I believe the Giants added three players who will contribute right away in Engram, Tomlinson and Gallman.  Special teams play aside, these three players should all get a fair crack at their respective positions, and should make for great internal competition either way.  Engram is a TE will measurable qualities that are drawing Jordan Reed and Aaron Hernandez comparisons, with top-end speed that rivals that of Odell Beckham.  Tomlinson is that meaty DL like Jonathan Hankins and Linval Joseph before him that will pair with Snacks to clog the running lanes and perhaps even add another wrinkle in their pass rush.  Finally, Wayne Gallman has some fantastic tape from his time at Clemson.  He’s a physically talented runner, not overly explosive through the lanes but has a good-burst of speed in the second level.  Don’t fool yourself with his measurable talents though; young backs who come into this league nowadays earn their time by demonstrating competence in blitz pick-up.  Follow along with his development in that respect as camp opens to get a feel for his role in the offense.

As for 3rd round pick Davis Webb, when you consider the players that might make an immediate contribution from this draft and then factor in the potential down the road for Davis Webb, you should be excited.

 *inserts quip about McAdoo and Cal quarterbacks*

Look, it’s been written in a cliche like manner how McAdoo has coached notable Cal QB’s before.  McAdoo the Teacher (not to be confused with McAdoo the Fashionable) has already demonstrated the ability to coach up quarterbacks into his system.  Eli Manning came from a system with differing verbiage, concepts and footwork, and McAdoo only coached Eli into his two best statistical seasons as a professional.  The talk among the Giants brass was a love for Webb and his attributed his upside to his strong arm, pedigree and personal qualities.  Coach speak and cliche’s for some, but if my loyalty to Jerry Reese is now firm, there’s a most certainly a timeless and indestructible quality for my loyalty and trust in McAdoo.  If five years from now the Giants secured immediate contributors and their successor for Eli Manning, could this go down as the Giants best draft of all-time for the Giants?  It would certainly have a good chance.  The value on Davis Webb already makes it a good selection, with a considerably high ceiling depending on how it shapes up.  He’s fledgling right now, made for the bench and a clipboard, and if that remains unchanged in 4 seasons there won’t be much lost.  He isn’t a first round pick.

If he hits?  Yahtzee

Now, for the 800-lb gorilla in the room–the Giants offensive line.  Easily the leading topic of concern for Giants fans these last few months after it turned out to be a leaky unit and the teams achilles heel.  Let’s address that line first by consolidating it along with the other offensive units into Blocking. Whether it be pass protecting, run blocking or screens, the Giants Blocking was pretty terrible last season.  Next, let’s talk about some truths regarding this football teams blocking:

  1.  They had zero FB on their roster last season.  Will Johnson and Nikita Whitlock went to IR before opening day and precluded the offensive from a useful element in run blocking and pass protection.  It also hampered their versatility because it corned the offense into being in 11 personnel (one back and one tight end).
  2. Their TE’s were terrible at blocking.  Mason Foster flipped Larry Donnell in a manner that should has embarrassed and enraged Donnell’s family.  That was just one of a handful of embarrassing moments for Giants TE in run-blocking last season.  Being in 11 personnel adds an extra weight on the TE to block properly, something that Will Tye and Larry Donnell did not deliver on.  Rhett Ellison was brought in especially to solve that issue.
  3.  Speaking of 11 personnel, that means we’re unceremoniously tied to a 3 receiving grouping.  Not bad to have Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepherd out there, but Victor Cruz proved to be a liability in multiple phases of the game.  Additionally, they’re considered to be undersized receivers, especially when it comes the slot receiver blocking on the Giants oft-used inside zone run.  Enter Brandon Marshall and his 6’4, 230 LB frame.  I think that issue has been adequately addressed.
  4. Lastly, Bobby Hart and Ereck Flowers are both under 23.  Flowers was a first round pick, and this will sound insane considering how much he infuriates me:  he must be given a chance.  It’s been two seasons; you cannot expect to see a finished product in a 22 year old prospect who left college to play pro football at age 20.  They added two young pieces to compete along that front this training camp and they’re hoping Ereck Flowers develops into a franchise left tackle.  Reese has been right quite frequently during this stretch of time, and this idea that young players might develop at position with a steep learning curve over time *NEWS FLASH* not that crazy!

 

This team is going to be exciting to watch this coming season.  Expect the younger players to settle into a role the same way Paul Perkins did last season.  Do not be frustrated when Adam Bisnowaty doesn’t immediately start at RT or snatch the LT role when Flowers commits his first holding penalty.  This team got better this weekend even though they did not select an OL in the first three rounds.  They selected quality players at positions of need to compliment the free agent acquisitions.  In addition to every new players primary duties, they will all be able to supplement the issue of blocking that plagued the Giants offense last season.  It won’t be Dallas, but it won’t be NYG 2016 either.

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