New York Giants Reader Mailbag: After the Draft Edition

The offensive line dominates this week’s mailbag.

 

From Mike M.:

Why did the giants wait to take a OL? Has Flowers been working this offseason? We need time to throw the ball see Pitt/Vikings games for proof.

Thanks for the question, Mike. Every year, general manager Jerry Reese preaches the same song, and sure enough, every year he sticks to it. the giants draft the best available on their board, and if that best available happens to fill a need, then that’s even better.

The Giants apparently didn’t view any of the top offensive linemen as being fits for what they were looking for, which is probably when their time came to make a pick, they went in another position.

Only time will tell if that was the right decision, but meanwhile, their hope is that Ereck Flowers and D.J. Fluker will both me much improved this year and that the offensive line will finally settle down and start gelling and playing to the potential they think it has.

From Amanda:

Is it still in the plan to go for LeGarrette Blount even though they drafted a RB?

Thanks for the question, Amanda. The Giants like to say they’ll keep all their options open. My guess is that they’ll see what they have in the rookie class before adding Blount, though I personally don’t see the harm in adding a veteran power back to the group.

From Michael F.

I can’t understand Jerry Reese’s thinking as far as the offensive line. You know this is a weak draft relating to OL linemen, yet he fails to trade for one or sign a free agent during the offseason. Reese inherited a good enough OL to win a Super Bowl yet he allowed the line to deteriorate over the years through neglect, poor draft choices and free agents.

We are lucky ELI is still standing. They will never win a Super Bowl if Eli has only 2-3 seconds to throw the ball. Don’t blame your franchise quarterback for this situation–this is all on Jerry Reese. He should never have come off the hot seat Mr. Mara. His inefficiency is why you needed $200 million to fix the defensive mess he created and why you have an offense ranked 25th last year.

Michael, I believe you saw the contracts that offensive linemen were getting in free agency, right? With Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg both set to hit free agency, not to mention the chunk of change they have to commit to Odell Beckham Jr.’s  option year, would have it been really smart  to sink a boatload of cash into the current offensive line crop of free agents?

I do agree with you that Reese waited a bit too long to begin re-stocking depth on the unit, and it didn’t help that he swung and missed on guys like James Brewer, Eric Herman and Brandon Mosley, just to name a few.

This team is STILL paying for all those successive bad drafts from earlier in the decade, and I fear it might be another two or three years before they’re finally able to wipe away those stains.

And let me clarify something. Manning’s average time in the pocket during their last Super Bowl run was just shy of 2.7 seconds according to an old Inside Football issue I dug up from that season.

I’m not sure how many seconds you consider ideal for a quarterback to throw, but I think if you ask any offensive lineman, they’ll tell you it’s virtually impossible to hold a block for longer than three seconds.

That’s where mobility in the pocket is a huge help. Manning has gotten a little better at that, but he’s nowhere near where Aaron Rodgers is in that regard.

From M.F.

I can’t understand why Reuben Foster wasn’t picked at #23 by the Giants. I am sure Engram would have been available in the second round. Foster was one of the top five players in the draft–a sideline to sideline tackling machine. This would have really upgraded the average LB corps. It seems Jerry Reese doesn’t think you need high impact linebackers to win a Super Bowl.

It’s really quite simple. First, no one knows what kind of grade the Giants had on Foster, who for all we know might have been removed from their board after his “oops.”

Second, how can you sit there and say for sure that Engram would have been available in the second round? You have to remember something—and I keep saying this every year. Teams view personnel a lot differently than all of us—the fans, the media and yes, even the draft analysts—do.

The Giants for years have put a premium on defensive linemen and defensive backs. That’s how their defenses are built. The game has changed to a passing league where now you’re playing more nickel than anything, thus eliminating the need for a solid third linebacker.

Teams know what their specific needs are and what character traits they want. We can sit here and second-guess until the chickens come home to roost, but in the end, we have to trust that the endless hours they spend researching, gathering information, studying film and interviewing people trump anything that’s available online or in your local magazine shop.

From Tom H.

I think a small, fast tight end is like a QB who can run: it’s fun for a while, but eventually the guy ends up on the disabled list. Do you think Engram can stay on the field consistently enough to help the Giants?

Have baseball on the mind there, Tom? Just kidding, but I see what you’re asking. Again, everyone is different. Engram might be a candidate to have a regular seat in the trainer’s room, or he might, under the watchful eye of the strength and conditioning staff that figured out a way to keep this team healthy despite the brutal nature of the game, fool everyone. Only time will tell.

From Carlton R.

If Davis Webb develops into a franchise quarterback this draft will be Jerry Reese’s best draft no matter how the other picks turn out. I know it sounds a bit hyperbolic but what do you think?

I think you’re spot on, Carlton. When you swing and miss on a franchise quarterback, that can set you back for years—see Cleveland, the Jets, the 49ers, etc. If all goes according to plan, if Eli Manning finishes out his career as the iron man, and Webb quietly develops as expected, the Giants are going to be set for the next decade at that position.

From Jim R.:

I like the Giants first pick. I think we stopped other teams from cover 2 all the time. Do you think we will use a two tight end set more this year? It would help our run game.

I could see that, Jim. I think Ben McAdoo knows that his offense was a little too predictable last year, and I suspect that was a result  of injuries wiping out the fullbacks. We’ll see what he cooks up for the personnel, but I do expect that the running game will be much improved this year.

From Tony T.:

More a question after the draft, but what do you see being the biggest difference between your own and general expectations on the draft, and what actually happened. This is with the understanding that despite the product producing need to produce mock drafts, Pat Traina has been absolutely clear for years and years telling people that nobody really knows what will happen, including the teams until the moment of the draft, but more a post-draft question of what did you learn about the team’s perceptions of itself or of the available players from the draft that you did not know previously.

Great question, Tony. I was surprised they didn’t draft linebacker, only because I know they were looking to do so last year with a pass rusher on the edge.

I guess they figured none of the blue-chippers would fall to them—either that or defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has something cooking in his lab that’s going to enable that unit to be more productive on the pass rush.

I was also surprised they didn’t draft a backup cornerback to ultimately take over the slot position for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but I suppose you can find those guys anytime.

Other than that, I can’t honestly say I was stunned by anything they did or didn’t do. Time will tell the story, but without giving too much away now (mainly because I’m still forming opinions and analysis), I would say this draft played out about 90% of the way I expected it to.

From Joe G.

Giants have QB, RB, WR, TE, but perhaps the worst OL in NFL to block for them. Draft did nothing so far to fix the OL. Always been against this, but it might be the right time after the draft to trade for Joe Thomas. He would immediately be their best OL for a year or two.

For those in the back row who haven’t heard me before: the GIANTS ARE NOT AND SHOULD NOT TRADE FOR JOE THOMAS.

You don’t trade away draft picks for a 30-something offensive lineman who might be retiring in a year or two. You also don’t absorb a hefty contract of a guy when next year you’re looking at a cap crunch.

Also, you cannot assume that the offensive line is going to struggle again this year.  By the way, their line was not the worst in the NFL last year, not according to various metrics.)

You look at all the moves made, see what combinations work best—this year they have depth to play around with if Flowers struggles again—and then you draw a conclusion.

Yes, Joe Thomas might provide an upgrade for a year or two, but at what price? Let’s say a first and a third. You really want them to throw away two premium draft picks for a guy who has maybe two years left?

Have you forgotten the impact of the 2010-2013 drafts in which only two players, Pierre-Paul and Pugh, now remain? Giving up picks for a guy who isn’t going to be with you beyond a couple of years is roster building suicide.

From Will P.:

With all the Davis Webb talk it seems people have forgot about Dalvin Tomlinson. How much of a concern are his two major knee surgeries?

Zero. Tomlinson is three years removed from his surgeries and checked out fine by the medial team. I truly believe if they had any concerns, they wouldn’t have drafted him, but as I said, he checked out fine.

Ryan C.:

It seems from Macs comments that we’re headed towards a very similar scenario that we saw with Reeves and Simms. The coach respects the QB but really wants his style of QB running the system. Can the Giants keep from making the same mistake?

Ryan, I think your memory of what happened is a little off. Simms was coming off shoulder surgery, and the Giants felt that because of that, his contract, and the “readiness” of Dave Brown, it was time to make a change (a change that the late Wellington Mara would later admit ripped his heart out).

I do not think the Giants will push Eli Manning out the door until he’s ready to go, so I don’t think you have to worry about that.

From Pierce K.:

The Seahawks moved back a total of 8 selections (first with Atlanta, then with San Francisco) and picked up an extra 3rd, 4th and 7th round pick. The Giants had a more desirable pick than Seattle — couldn’t they have done this deal instead and still come away with the same player? Why does Reese seem to be unwilling to view the draft in this way?

Pierce, here’s my theory on why Reese doesn’t trade in the first round—and this is just a theory. The bad drafts of 2010-2013 of which only two players, Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Pugh, remain, have left this team in a position where they can’t screw around with the draft.

They have to replenish what they missed on, which is why I think Reese has become ultra-conservative when it comes to drafting. I said it back then and will say it now—the bad drafts, especially the 2010, 2011 and 2012 classes—are going to haunt this team for a few years.

That’s why they have to overspend on fliers to replenish guys that are no longer on the roster. that’s why they never seem to have the cap space necessary to re-sign some of their own. It’s all connected.

While Reese has done a better job in fixing the mistakes of the past, the marks on the wall aren’t still completely gone yet.

From Cesar E.:

Hi Pat, greetings from Mexico. My question is based on an ESPN report who suggests Jerry Reese was frozen again when Howard and Davis were gone by the time our team was on the clock. Do you think Jerry Reese stick to his board with Engram or it was a third option pick a la Eli Apple when Floyd and Conklin were taken right before our eyes? Thank you and happy draft weekend.

What’s going on Cesar? Hope you’re well. I think Reese stuck to the board. Regarding the ESPN report, we were told that it was false, that there was no conversations to move up to take Patrick Mahomes.

Were there conversations throughout the draft? Yes—there always are, and Reese has admitted as much in the past without getting specific.

But as I explained in the previous response, I think there’s an underlying reason Reese is so reluctant to move around much in the draft.

From Joe M.:

Really disappointed at the selection of a second-round graded player while more talented players as offensive tackles, linebacker and higher rated tight end were available. If this is the player they were set, a trade down would have been in order since this player was probably available. Last year, the Bears & Titans outsmarted the Giants in the first round and it appears this year the Giants outsmarted themselves.

This team has a huge need for better offensive tackles yet they passed on the two rated with first round talent. Terrible decision by the Giants. John Mara made a poor decision in retaining Jerry Reese. They have failed miserably in providing proper protection for their most valuable asset, Eli Manning.

Look at the Cowboys with their offensive line as an example of the meaning of a strong unit. It is disheartening to see this team being so poorly constructed by the GM. To me, this is a terrible mistake selecting this player when the available talent was more suited to needs of Giants. Jerry Reese has a history of three drafts without any of those players currently on Giants’ roster. Enough said! Your comments, please. Thank you.

Joe, you’re going off the opinions of people whose draft boards rarely, if ever, match what the NFL teams come up with. With that said, it was clear that the Giants didn’t view the “top-rated” offensive linemen in the same light as you appear to view them.

For you to say they failed to provide protection for Manning is a premature statement—how do you know that Flowers won’t be improved or Fluker won’t be a new man? You’re making assumptions based on last year and that’s a dangerous thing to do.

By the way, didn’t Tony Romo end up being injured a couple of times playing behind that all-World Cowboys line? And how far has that line gotten them in the postseason again? Sorry Joe, but that’s not a valid argument; football is a violent game period.

What the Giants did do was add some depth in D.J. Fluker and their sixth-round draft pick. they also invited a bunch of guys to the rookie minicamp—who’s to say one of them won’t be so motivated that he doesn’t jump out and make the team?

I think the panic over the offensive line is a bit premature right now as only time will tell what they have. I’ll try to keep tabs on it during the spring, but really we won’t get the full picture until training camp when padded practices are allowed.