Highlights and takeaways from day one.
Before reading this or any rookie minicamp report, it’s imperative that you remember the goal of the coaches.
Head coach Ben McAdoo explained that goal before the start of the main practice:
We just want to introduce them to the offense, defense and special teams. Get out here and teach them how we practice, get an evaluation on some guys, some tryout guys who have come in. Those guys are always champing at the bit and give them an opportunity.
Players receive a lot of information over the course of a series of meetings: plays, options on plays, language, and technique instruction. That information also includes knowing when and where to be at a certain point in practice.
They then have to spit it back out through execution. There are so many fine details that, when combined with first-day jitters, makes it easy to make a mistake or two.
The point is that the first day on the job for these rookie draft picks, undrafted free agents and tryout players, and it’s not going to be perfect. There are some nerves involved by players trying to impress the coaches. And there might be some players who are over confident and end up screwing up for other reasons.
Sure enough, it wasn’t perfect, but because McAdoo and the coordinators spoke before the main practice, we weren’t able to get any official takes on how things unfolded.
Here are a few takeaways from the practice.
Undrafted free agent defensive end Evan Schwan’s day started out a bit shaky. In one drill where players have to crouch and work their way under a low canopy of sorts, Schwan hit the top about two steps in, his pad level rising early.
I thought he got better as the practice went on. He mostly lined up at right defensive end and looked very explosive coming out of his stance, even if his pad level did rise a few times too soon. He recorded, by my unofficial count, at least three quarterback “pressures” (remember, there is no contact in spring football).
Offensive lineman Chad Wheeler, who lined up mostly at left tackle, is a feisty presence at left tackle and a guy who reminds me a bit of Frankie Ferrara, the one-time defensive end on this team from the Jim Fassel era, in terms of his demeanor and his non-stop motor.
You can seem his athleticism, but sometimes that doesn’t always get the job done. With reps and more reliance and trust in his technique, the sky is the limit for this intriguing offensive lineman.
Before practice, special teams coordinator Tom Quinn gushed about Aldrick Rosas’ strong leg. Well, that leg was put on display in some windy conditions. Except for one missed attempt, Rosas was consistent in splitting the uprights from roughly 40 yards away, his kicks having a good 20 yards or so to spare.
The big thing with him is going to be performing the pressure kicks, which Quinn said they’ll attempt to simulate in practices. The other thing to keep an eye on is going to be his kickoffs.
I cited a few stats on how ineffective the Giants kickoffs were last year. The Giants need better production in that area, so it will be interesting to see if Rosas can provide it.
The coaches had quarterback Davis Webb do a bit of his work out of the shotgun, where Webb obviously has some comfort level.
When under center, he had a few hiccups, including a botched exchange with the center, but as far as I could tell, Webb didn’t let anything rattle him. He threw mostly check down passes with just a few long balls sprinkled in. Some of the passes were aimed like a dart to a dartboard while others were thrown more naturally.
You could also see the connection he has with tight end Evan Engram, who caught a few of Webb’s passes. It also looked as though he developed an instant rapport with Travis Rudolph, an undrafted free agent with whom he connected on a few passes.
The other thing Webb did well was extend the play when under pressure. He also didn’t force any balls to a covered receiver.
Speaking of Engram, he did a nice job getting in and out of his breaks. A few times he ended up against smaller defender, and it really wasn’t any contest for the ball and yards after the catch. I thought it was rather interesting that Engram worked with former NFL (and one-time Giants) receiver Derek Hagan on improving his game and not a former NFL tight end.
I asked Engram about that and he said, “With D-Hagan, we definitely worked on a lot of wide receiver stuff. In college, I played more slot. Wasn’t really detailed in my routes, so he definitely helped at the top of routes, getting releases. A lot of ball drills. He really helped me a lot.”
Engram, if anyone was wondering, will be in the Giants tight ends meeting room, not the receivers room.
Defensive end Avery Moss received kudos in one drill for striking the blocking sled and then rolling his hips up underneath him to push the target back off the line.
Moss showed some of that explosion off the line that both general manager Jerry Reese and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo spoke about, drawing a comparison to former defensive lineman Hugh Douglas of the Eagles.
“I don’t know if anyone knows Hugh Douglas from Philadelphia–he was the guy that was just thick and powerful from (the waist) down,” Spagnuolo said.
“Avery is not quite as thick as that, but I thought of him when I watched Avery on tape. We still play some under where they have to move down and he looks comfortable doing it, so hopefully put him in the mix with the other guys that we have — Kerry (Wynn), Owa (Odighizuwa) and Romeo (Okwara) — and hopefully he will come up with some good ones.”
Offensive lineman Adam Bisnowaty, lining up at right tackle, has a little pop to his game. He admitted after practice that the coaches told him to “slow it down a bit,” but it looks like he’s going to be a fun prospect to watch. Bisnowaty, by the way, can also play guard, though it’s unclear if he’ll do so at this level as a rookie.
Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson did a nice job of getting his hands up quickly and into his blocking sled target. He was also probably one of the better rookies when it came to leverage, something he said earlier in the day wrestling helped him with. Tomlinson looks to be very athletic for a big guy. It will be interesting to see how well he does when the live competition starts in the summer.
“I think wrestling has the biggest impact on my football ability because as a defensive lineman, it helped me learn leverage,” he said. “I know how to play blocks a little bit easier because of wrestling.”
Running back Wayne Gallman came as advertised. He did a nice job of finding the hole and even showed some change of direction, quick twitch that is a plus from a power back. Gallman also was the recipient of a few of Davis Webb’s shorter passes.
We’ll have more observations on the draft picks, undrafted free agents and some of the tryout players in our May issue.