10 IN 10: NEW YORK GIANTS
There are now just days left until the NFL Draft. This new ‘10 in 10’ series will look at each team picking in the top ten, having started with the Cleveland Browns last Tuesday and finishing with the Cincinnati Bengals this Thursday. For a more considered, in-depth look at the perfect picks for each team check out the good work of my fellow contributors at The Touchdown here:
For the purposes of simplicity, no trades will be considered in this countdown unless they occur in the days leading up to the draft itself. Each article will look at individual team needs before deciding on the right pick for each franchise, whilst also considering some alternatives at that spot.
#4: NEW YORK GIANTS
The age-old Draft Day dilemma is whether a team goes for positional need over the best player on the board. In recent years, we have come to expect the unexpected when the Giants pick in the first round. In 2018, it did not surprise many to see generational talent Saquon Barkley drafted with the #2 overall pick. The risk with Barkley lies not with his ability, but whether any running back is worth taking so early on in the process. We have seen how top-class talents have regressed quickly (Todd Gurley, Le’Veon Bell to name just two) as they reach their second contracts.
A year later, Giants fans were devastated to see Dave Gettleman select Daniel Jones ahead of Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins. Dexter Lawrence was another surprise pick at #17. Trading back up into the first round for cornerback Deandre Baker has yet to pay off for the G-Men.
Gettleman seems to have a different approach to most scouts, and trusts his instincts on a player. Barkley had an incredible rookie year, but didn’t necessarily continue to progress at the same rate in 2019. Daniel Jones seems to have won over Giants fans, but his high number of fumbles remain a cause for concern. Protecting him with decent O line play is a must. Deandre Baker had a very disappointing rookie year, and New York still has a need at cornerback this time out.
THE 'SWISS ARMY KNIFE'
Expect the Giants to be the talk of the Draft for the third year running when they select Isaiah Simmons, LB/S out of Clemson. They have more pressing needs, but Simmons is the best player on the board at pick #4. The Giants signed Blake Martinez on a 3 year, $30m deal in the offseason, reuniting him with defensive coordinator and former Green Bay Packers coach Patrick Graham. This shouldn’t be an excuse to pass on Simmons and his incredibly versatile style of play. Rather, the Giants should see an opportunity to build one of the most fearsome linebacker corps in the NFL.
Simmons is a rare athlete with an ability to play as an elite linebacker, edge rusher or strong safety. He is a future Pro Bowl talent, effective against both the run and the pass. The concern with Simmons is that he will be pigeonholed into a position in the NFL, unlike the freedom he had at Clemson. The Giants have a maverick GM heading the front office, and a new Head Coach in Joe Judge. Simmons’ versatility and overall game is a glimpse into the future of the NFL. The Giants can steal a march on their rivals if they select him, and more importantly utilise him effectively.
If they decide to pass on Isaiah Simmons, expect them to take an offensive tackle. The Giants offensive line ranked #17 in the league in 2019, an impressive result considering the injuries they faced and the poor tackle play of Nate Solder and Mike Remmers. The latter has since left in free agency, replaced by swing tackle Cameron Fleming from Dallas.
If they do decide to shore up in the trenches, don’t expect the safe pick. A three-year solid starter like Andrew Thomas (Georgia) doesn’t seem to fit with Gettleman’s high risk draft strategy. A more likely target would be Mekhi Becton (Louisville), who I have falling to the Browns with pick #10. Becton has the physical traits and potential to be one of the league’s leading tackles, but his size and weight add that spice and risk that Gettleman enjoys when selecting his players.
As mentioned before, a need remains at cornerback despite bringing in former Carolina Panther James Bradberry in free agency. Jeff Okudah is the standout candidate in the position, with some rating him more highly than they did Jalen Ramsey coming into the league. If Okudah falls past the Lions with the #3 pick, Gettleman will have to seriously consider the Ohio State corner. However, they could find some value in the defensive backfield with their second and third round picks (#36 and #99). Players like Isaiah Simmons simply can’t be passed on – the upside is just too great.
TOM WATCHED HIS FIRST EVER NFL GAME AT AN EX’S HOME IN NORTH CAROLINA IN 2013 AND “ENCOURAGED” TO SUPPORT THE INDIANAPOLIS COLTS. ONE BREAK-UP AND FOUR YEARS LATER, HE SWITCHED ALLEGIANCE TO THE JETS AND HAS BEEN OBSESSED WITH THE GAME EVER SINCE. TOM CAN BE FOUND ON TWITTER AT @DOWNTHEMANNYRD