The Giants had one of their worst seasons in recent memories and with the number two pick in the draft and a new regime in their front office and coaching staff; many people, myself included, thought the Giants were going to hit the reset button on the franchise. Eli Manning has been flirting with mediocrity for a while now (forever) and this was going to be the year the Giants finally looked for his replacement. With the second pick, they had their choice of Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Lamar Jackson or Josh Allen. Paired with a quarterback friendly head coach, that young signal caller would have a nice environment to grow into a productive starter, theoretically.
The Giants went against conventional wisdom with their first pick to take Saquon Barkley, the star running back out of Penn State. Not only did they pass on quarterbacks, but they passed on lucrative trade deals that could have loaded their front office with premium picks. Nope. There is plenty of debate about if Barkley was even an elite prospect and you can argue until the cows come home about running back value, but there is no doubt that Barkley will make an impact almost immediately for the Giants. While their offensive line was shoddy last year; Barkley has been producing with bad lines his whole college career. Moreover, he is an elite receiver out of the backfield; a feature the Giants will use a lot. Hell, he could be the tertiary target in the offense behind OBJ and Engram by the end of the year and no one would be surprised. The Giants philosophy here is obviously surrounding Eli with as many instant-impact players and hoping he can get hot for a season. While I loved Barkley as a prospect and think he will have a great career in New York, I am not sure hinging the success of the team on Eli is really the way to go.
The Giants next pick made a ton of sense given their first pick. Will Hernandez, the guard from UTEP, was one of my absolute favorite players in the draft. I loved his tape so much he ended up in my top ten. He impressed almost everyone at the Senior Bowl and tested pretty well at the combine. His fall was a bit curious, but teams are seemingly worried about his short arms and non-prototypical height. Because those things are relatively inconsequential at guard, Hernandez should immediately upgrade the Giants abysmal offensive line. Hernandez is a pro-ready blocker with great movement skills and a nasty attitude. The Giants drafting him will certainly help maximize Saquon Barkley and patch up last year’s bad pass protection to keep Eli upright.
Drafting Lorenzo Carter, a Georgia linebacker, with their next pick made a bit of sense. Carter played various positions at Georgia and people saw him as a sort of tweener who could play on the line or off the ball as a linebacker. Carter is no doubt an impressive athlete, running 4.5 at the combine with a 10’10” broad jump and a 36” vertical at 250 pounds. However, that ability did not consistently translate to the field. Carter had some bright flashes as a pass rusher and as a linebacker, but they were few and far between. The Giants haven’t had a quality group of linebackers since the Clinton administration and are probably betting on premium athletes to boost the group. With Devon Kennard now in Detroit, the team likely sees his replacement in Carter as a guy who can play strong side linebacker and possibly play on the line or rush as a blitzer. Given their current crop of players, I could see him playing pretty early on.
The Giants next pick was arguably their nicest, because it was their 69th pick (sorry). Anyway, BJ Hill was a good pick for the G-Men as a defensive lineman from NC State. Hill was sharing a line with a few other NFL prospects but he was a really solid player in his own right. The Giants have some good defensive tackles in Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson; but both are more space eating, running stoppers rather than penetrating pass rushers. Hill is a twitchy athlete who does a good job bursting upfield and getting after it on passing downs. His motor runs hot and cold, but he has a lot of untapped potential as a disruptive defender. The Giants will likely feature Hill in a defensive line rotation where he starts out primarily as a third down option. They could be happy with what they get.
The Giants finally decided to take a quarterback with their 108th pick. Kyle Lauletta was drawing a lot of attention as a small school guy out of Richmond. Lauletta was the bright spot on a mediocre Richmond team, making plays through the air and with his feet. Lauletta is described by his coaches and teammates as a leader and it is his brains that likely won over the Giants. He is a smart quarterback who does a great job reading defenses and picking them apart with a quick release and a tight spiral. He does not have a cannon for an arm, but makes up for lack of pure arm strength with placement and timing. Lauletta looks like a good back up prospect who has the capacity to develop into a solid starter. Wouldn't the Giants love if that ended up being the case.
The Giants finished their draft off with another defensive tackle, this time from Miami, in RJ McIntosh. McIntosh was highly productive for Miami last year, leading the team in TFLs, but he is somewhat of a tweener. At 6’4” and 285 pounds, he is a little light for a full time defensive tackle role. The Giants, similar to with Hill, might see him as a third down specialist who could potentially add weight and develop into a full time starter.
The Giants draft shows mostly that the team is in “Win Now” mode. While these guys all have potential to be long term pieces; they drafted immediate impact players on offense with their first two picks and basically looked for a bunch of high upside athletes with their following picks. The Giants want playmakers to fill in the dearth of a team they had last year. If Eli can keep it together, the Giants will probably be happy with the way they drafted, but if not, they could be wishing they spent that number two pick on his replacement.