Unanswered Questions Following the New York Giants’ 2017 Draft

Burning questions that went unanswered.

I’m always scanning Twitter and my email inbox for your questions. While I do try to run a mailbag every week, sometimes there are certain questions that just seem to be on everyone’s mind, questions that bear a separate article.

I went back through my timeline which, during the draft spun like an Atlantic City slot machine display. I tried to identify the most common questions/comments I was getting and I came up with the following opinion piece for your consumption.

As always, if you want to submit a question for the next mailbag, you can do so by using the form at the end of this article.

Why didn’t Jerry Reese trade up to get TE O.J. Howard in the first round?

Reese has never traded up or down in the first round since becoming general manager. Frustrating? Perhaps, but if we had to guess why, our theory, as laid out in this piece, is that after badly blowing the 2011-2012 draft classes (and you can probably add the 2013 class to that group as well save for Justin Pugh and, up until last year, Johnathan Hankins), Reese is likely more gun-shy to budge off the process that got him to his current position.

Reese, remember, is a scout at heart. He understands better than anyone the evaluation process and the grading and probably has more faith in that process than most realize.

In the past, he might have taken a few gambles which deviated from trusting that process, but after being openly blasted by co-owner John Mara following the disastrous 2015 season, it’s not hard to see why Reese would want to play it safe.

We can sit here and argue all day about whether it was smart or stupid for him to sit tight in the first round, but before I move on to the next question, let me put this out here for your consideration.

In 2014, I recall a fair number of people screaming for tight end Eric Ebron in the first round. Ebron ended up going to the Lions at No. 10, two picks before the Giants “settled” on Odell Beckham Jr.

Beckham has made the Pro Bowl every season since turning Pro. Ebron has not, and now will face some competition for snaps in the form of Michael Roberts, whom the Lions drafted this year.

I suspect if I took a poll, no one would endorse a do-over of the Giants’ decision in that round, even if Ebron, right?

My point is “can’t miss” prospects are rarer than the steak tartare. Besides, is there really anyone out there who would want the Giants to engage in a do-over knowing now what we might not have known then?

Why did they wait until Day 3 to address the offensive line?

Reese has explained this before, saying that they didn’t think the value was there in the first or second day. He further explained that you don’t reach for a player just because it’s a need because if you do that, you can set your franchise back.

Let’s look at a few classic examples of Giants “reaches” over the years: William Joseph immediately comes to mind as a first-round reach who flamed out faster than a camp fire doused with water.

Whether you agree or not, there is something to the value approach. If you can get a player who matches a need, then even better, but if you deviate from your draft board just for the heck of things, you’re not going to win very many games.

We’ll never know if the Giants had a higher grade on Garrett Bolles than Evan Engram because Bolles was off the board at the time of the Giants’ selection. but who out there, after seeing how poorly the tight ends have played in both the passing and run blocking areas of the game, is going to argue against an upgrade like Engram?

Reese did protect himself (or at least try to) by adding D.J. Fluker on a low-risk, high reward one-year contract. If Fluker somehow pulls his act together and lives up to his first-round status, I suspect that will lessen the sting of what “could have been.”

It wouldn’t be surprising if Reese looks at his projected starting five offensive linemen and sees three first-round picks (Fluker, Ereck Flowers and Justin Pugh) and a second rounder (Weston Richburg) and says to himself that he’s devoted enough resources to the unit.

It also wouldn’t be surprising if the thinking process included the point made by head coach Ben McAdoo today in his radio interview with WFAN’s Mike Francesa in which McAdoo pointed out that nine of the 11 starters on offense had a new position coach last year, five of whom were the offensive linemen.

It’s not completely clear how offensive line Mike Solari’s methods differ from Pat Flaherty, his predecessor, but just as it took the Giants defense some time to gel under Steve Spagnuolo, perhaps in year two Solari will get better results out the guys he has.

Why not get a linebacker in this draft?

This, quite frankly, was surprising, as I was certain that the position would be addressed considering all the linebackers except for B.J. Goodson not signed beyond this year. I figured at the very least, they might get a Day 3 prospect to groom as they did with Goodson, and then look to plug that guy in for a larger role in 2018.

But again, I’ll go back to my theory on the offensive line as the likely reason the Giants passed on a linebacker.

Was quarterback really the way to go in the third round? And won’t it create an uncomfortable environment in the quarterbacks’ room?

Let’s start with the second question. The answer is no. Eli Manning is a professional. He’s also a realist who knows he’s not going to play forever and that at some point, his successor will need to come on board and be groomed.

That point is now. While the court of public opinion was that this was a weak quarterback class, Reese, in his draft preview presser last month, revealed they did some extra work on quarterbacks. Apparently, they liked Davis Webb enough to roll the dice on him, and they were also apparently concerned he wouldn’t last until Day 3.

Think of it this way.You go shopping for an item. You get to the store and you do a comparison–what features to the choices have? What’s the best value for your dollar? In many ways, Reese’s draft approach follows the same concept.

When you are sold on a prospect who has the highest grade on your board, you take him. Sure in a perfect world you’d like your first three draft picks to contribute right away.

Then again in a perfect world you’d like all your draft picks to contribute right away and be with you for at least the duration of their rookie contracts.

Well guess what? We don’t live in a perfect world. You take some chances and you’re going to have misses. But if you can limit the misses and optimize the hits, your franchise is going to be that much better at the end of the day. 

Have a question for the next Inside Football mailbag?