Which prospects/positions are next on the Giants’ radar?
After taking a break from drafting offense last year—prior to selecting cornerback Eli Apple in 2016, the Giants had drafted an offensive player in the first round in each of their last three drafts (David Wilson, Justin Pugh and Odell Beckham Jr.)—the Giants went back to the offensive side of the ball with their selection of Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram.
Engram is the first Giants tight end to be drafted in the first round since 2002, when the team plucked Jeremy Shockey out of Miami that year. Engram is also only the fourth tight end to be drafted by the Giants in the first round in franchise history, joining Shockey, Derek Brown and Kyle Rote.[purchase_link id=”2010″ style=”button” color=”” text=”Inside Football’s 2017 Draft Preview Issue”]
The addition of Engram potentially gives the Giants a guy who can exploit the middle of the field in the passing game and who can contribute in taking away some of the double coverage Beckham often received last year.
While he’s not necessarily a blocker—head coach Ben McAdoo said that part of Engram’s game needs to be developed—he is a guy whom he Giants are hoping will help discourage opposing defenses from deploying so much Cover-2 against their passing game.
Moving ahead to Day 2, the Giants will no doubt be hoping that best available matches up with some needs in the pit (offensive and defensive lines). Let’s look at some prospects that might be on the radar.
Different day, same need. The Giants, as I suspected might be the case, seem ready to roll with experience as far as their starters go.
Ereck Flowers, Bobby Hart and D.J. Fluker all figure to compete for the two tackle spots with the odd man out of that equation either moving inside to right guard or being the first man off the bench in the event of an injury.
While the Giants are optimistic that Flowers will finally find his groove, and while they have high hopes for Fluker to find his first-round mojo, the giants need a backup plan just in cast either or both scenarios don’t pan out.
Offensive tackle should be the higher priority on Day 2, but of course, that’s subject to how the board falls. Remember, the lower the pick the more polish the prospect likely needs before he’s ready to go.
If the Giants somehow end up taking a tackle in Round 3, that could bode well for the current veterans who are competing for starting jobs and backup spots since a third-round offensive tackle might not be ready to go out of the chute on Day 1.
Day 2 Offensive Tackle Prospects
The Giants defensive line situation is interesting and could play out in any number of ways.
Do they add another defensive end capable of taking some of the burden off Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon, both of whom played more than 90% of the defensive snaps last year? Or do they put more of a focus on the defensive interior?
My best guess is they look inside, perhaps at that 3-technique spot vacated by Johnathan Hankins when he signed with the Colts.
Currently, the plan is for Jay Bromley and Robert Thomas to compete for that starting job, but neither is signed beyond this year and neither really jumped ahead of the other toward the end of last season.
Here’s a look at some prospects who might be in the Giants’ crosshairs:
Day 2 Defensive Line Prospects
Sooner than later, the Giants need to find Eli Manning’s successor.
While ideally that guy is more of a can’t miss, first-round prospect, it’s not a set-in-stone requirement, as guys such as Kurt Warner, Tom Brady and, more recently Dak Prescott have shown the world.
Interestingly, for a quarterback class on which the NFL draft analyst community was lukewarm at best, three teams traded up to draft their potential quarterback of the future, proving yet again that the guys who do this work for a living—watch film, talk to players and coaches and gather detailed intel on the prospects—often know something that the rest of the arm-chair GMs do not.
It’s very rare that any player, regardless of round, comes in with minimal flaws and starts on the path toward Canton on his very first day.
It takes time to develop and nurture these players, and in the case of a quarterback, the Giants are in a better position thanks to Manning than most teams who are still looking for that quarterback to lead them for the next 10 years.
Manning is secure enough in his position to not see a younger player as a potential threat to his status on the team. In fact, Manning has been known over the years to embrace helping younger quarterbacks hone their craft.
The Giants need to take advantage of this X factor now, before Manning calls it a career. Worst case, if the pick doesn’t pan out, they can always dip into next year’s class, but they’ll never know about 2016 unless they stick their toe into the deep end of the pool.