The NFL Draft ended just before 7:00 PM New York time, but for the New York Giants, it ended just before 4 PM, when they made their final pick of the day.
Though picks were somewhat at a premium, it’s hard to say the Giants didn’t improve in Dave Gettleman’s first draft as general manager. Gettleman was so pleased with it, he almost briefly forgot himself when wrapping things up on Saturday afternoon.
“I’m thrilled with this draft. We got big butts, we got power, we got speed. And we got a quarterback that we really liked, so I’m not angry,” Gettleman said.
Time will only tell if they got what they paid for, but for now, here is our instant reaction and grades for each pick.
Round 1: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Despite what the quarterback faction will tell you, Barkley was the best move the Giants could have made to bring them out of an offensive rut that has lasted two years now.
The Giants run game, which hasn’t finished in the upper half of the league since 2010, can employ a three-man monster, headlined by Barkley, Wayne Gallman, and Jonathan Stewart, similar to what the Philadelphia Eagles employed en route to their first Super Bowl title.
Barkley’s addition also takes pressure off a beleaguered passing game. No longer does Eli Manning, nor his successor, have to win games on their and force passes to Odell Beckham Jr. It was the move that can help all facets of the offense, as Barkley was the prospect in this draft that put the “V” in MVP.
Round 2: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
When Hernandez fell out of the first round, and the Cleveland Browns passed on him, taking Hernandez became a no-brainer.
The Giants continue the process of improving their offensive line, and Hernandez is a great landmark. His potential battle against veteran John Jerry will be one of the more intriguing position battles of training camp.
Expect Hernandez to be the starting sooner than later, as the Giants were able to nab two first round talents with only one first round pick.
Round 3: Lorenzo Carter, EDGE, Georgia
Adding a talented edge rusher was essential with blitz-happy defensive coordinator James Bettcher in charge of the Giants’ defense.
Once again, a prospect’s loss in draft position was the Giants’ gain, as they added the fiery Carter, who perhaps is best known for the field goal block in doubled overtime that led to the Bulldogs’ College Football Playoff semifinal victory over Oklahoma.
Carter never truly lived up to the massive hype that followed him out of high school, but he remains a strong, powerful prescience. He can fulfill any number of roles in a 3-4 defense, and he could turn out to be one of the hidden gems of this draft.
Round 3b: BJ Hill, DT, North Carolina State
The Giants had a big opportunity to add some depth with an extra third-round pick, obtained through the Jason Pierre-Paul trade. They accomplished that goal, but it came in a spot where they seemed somewhat set, ignoring the drier areas of the receiving and secondary corps.
But if they were going to add another tackle, a defensive hog mollie, if you will, you could much worse than Hill. With Damon Harrison establishing himself as one of the best run stoppers in the league, Hill developed himself a reputation as someone who could chase down the quarterback.
It’ll be interesting to see how Bettcher works in Hill with Harrison and last year’s second rounder, Dalvin Tomlinson.
Round 4: Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond
Easily the Giants’ biggest surprise, the drafting of Lauletta appeared to hearken back to Jerry Reese’s “best player available” philosophy, a selection Gettleman made if only because he was there for so long.
While it’s comforting to know the Giants are doing as much research into the subject of Manning’s heir as they can, for the time being, Lauletta’s selection feels like taking a quarterback simply to take a quarterback, especially after a week that served as a solid vote of confidence to Davis Webb, who was held out all of last year.
It’ll be intriguing to watch the battle between Webb and Lauletta play out, a battle that will take up a majority of the preseason, but a smarter move would’ve been to further bolster the line, perhaps in the form of Oregon tackle Tyrell Crosby, who went to Detroit later on.
Round 5: R.J. McIntosh, DT, Miami (FL)
McIntosh is another selection whose immediate analysis is somewhat murky. Listed as a defensive tackle, it again felt silly to stock up on linemen with other pressing needs to fill. But McIntosh displayed versatility on the line with the Hurricanes, and could provide great depth as an end in the three or five-technique.
The most troubling thing about McIntosh, who has a strong body and shows great athleticism off the ball, is that he may have come out a year too early, but a talented defensive mind like Bettcher, not to mention the guidance of a hungry and knowledgeable veteran like Harrison, could potentially work wonders.