It pains me to admit when an NFC East rival does something well, especially when I have delighted in their bumbling for the last few years. Hell, I’ve even questioned the New York Giants hiring Joe Judge to be their head coach! What? A wide receivers coach is going to fix this mess overnight?? Well, if the Giants’ draft class is any indication with the direction that team is taking, I am afraid to say they might be onto something.
PREVIOUSLY IN THIS NFC EAST DRAFT REVIEW SERIES: the Philadelphia Eagles.
Andrew Thomas, Offensive Tackle, Georgia
At the moment this pick was made, there was a lingering thought that the Giants could’ve gone sexier with the fourth overall selection. No Isaiah Simmons? Not even a higher upside offensive tackle in Tristian Wirfs? Nope. The Giants went with the steady, physical and highly experienced Andrew Thomas and it set the tone for the test of their draft.
Thomas is as constant as the northern star, consistently holding down the fort as a pass protector and being an extremely disciplined run blocker. Andrew Thomas can step in for the Giants at either tackle position and will go the next ten years without having his name called. He is that kind of player.
Xavier McKinney, Safety, Alabama
The 1-2 pick combination of Thomas and then McKinney was probably one of the best in the whole league. Xavier McKinney was projected by many to be a top 20 selection and New York stole him with the 36th pick in the draft.
Xavier McKinney is a versatile defender that Nick Saban played all over the Alabama defense. Single high? Check. Box defender? Check. Covering the slot? Check. McKinney was a defensive Swiss Army knife at Alabama and was far from mistake prone. McKinney isn’t some game changing ball hawk; but he is extremely dependable in basically any coverage assignment to not blow a big play. The Giants added a defensive quarterback with this pick and I am not even sure they know how lucky they are.
Matt Peart, Offensive Tackle, UConn
The Giants must have known what they had with their first two picks because they went with higher upside, project selection in the third round. Matt Peart is a humongous offensive tackle at 6’7”, 318 pounds with tree trunk arms. Peart is a titanic blocker with surprising movement skills down hill. He is unpolished as a pass protector and struggles with quicker defensive linemen, but his size can swallow up defenders. Peart will not start immediately, nor should he, but he could develop quickly into a physical bookend with Andrew Thomas in a few years.
Darnay Holmes, Cornerback, UCLA
The Giants took another feisty, smart defender in the fourth round with Darnay Holmes. The UCLA cornerback may not be the biggest, but you wouldn’t know that by the way he plays.
Holmes is a physical, technically sound cornerback who does a great job limiting yards after catch with his strong tackling. His lack of size may limit him to playing as a slot defender in the NFL, but there is little doubt he could thrive in what is basically a starter role.Holmes adds value as a kick returner for the Giants as well, so Holmes will see the field sooner than later.
Shane Lemieux, Offensive Guard, Oregon
Shane Lemieux is not a flashy player by any means but he consistently got the job done at Oregon; starting 52 straight games at Left Guard. Lemieux is a solid athlete who gets downhill with ease and is a smart, disciplined blocker.
You rarely see Lemieux making highlight reel blocks, but rarely is he on the highlight tapes of rival defenders (save for Oregon’s game against Auburn). The Giants once again went for a high floor offensive lineman and he will likely find himself starting relatively early in his career.
Cameron Brown, Linebacker, Penn State
Four of the Giants’ final five picks were linebackers, giving you an idea of how weak they viewed that position on their roster heading into the draft. Draft four and at least one should end up being a solid contributor. Cameron Brown is an interesting pick because his physical profile is so unique as an off ball linebacker. At 6’5” and nearly 235 pounds, Brown looks more like a small forward than a linebacker, but he moves like a small forward too. He is a good athlete who can move sideline to sideline and survive in pass coverage.
Brown’s instincts are only average and he can get out-leveraged against the run. It is clear the Penn State linebacker has high upside, but he has a ways to go before he is starter material. For the Giants, it will be curious to see how much they give snaps to their young linebackers because of their need for some sort of production from the position.I do wonder if the Giants would be interested in trying to develop Brown into more of a strong side linebacker who can play with his hand in the ground; given his physical tools. Could be a unique Devon Kennard-type of player if developed properly.
Carter Coughlin, Linebacker, Minnesota
Just to dispel any curiosity: Carter Coughlin has a grandfather named Tom, but he isn’t that Tom Coughlin.
Now that we got that out of the way, Carter Coughlin was a productive defender at Minnesota who functioned primarily as a true edge defender but also has experience dropping into coverage.
At 6’3” and under 240 pounds, it would be surprising if Coughlin’s role on the Giants involved him playing with his hand in the ground. He is good mover with very good instincts and a high motor, so he could project to playing off-ball as a weak-inside linebacker in Patrick Graham’s defense. Most likely, Coughlin will start his career primarily as a special teams contributor, but he does have a clear path to the Giants defensive lineup given his tools.
TJ Brunson, Linebacker, South Carolina
The Giants got great value here with the 238th pick in the draft. TJ Brunson is a great fit on their defense as a two-down linebacker. At 6’1” and 230 pounds, he might not have great size; but he is extremely physical and consistently fought through traffic at South Carolina to make plays behind the line of scrimmage.
Brunson is a banger at the linebacker position and could bring toughness to the middle of the Giants defense. He is not a great athlete and likely is nothing more than a base inside linebacker in 3-4 fronts, but he could still post a lot of tackles in New York if they get him on the field early.
Chris Williamson, Defensive Back, Minnesota
A former wide receiver and Florida transfer, Chris Williamson had a unique role in the Minnesota defense, often playing nickel linebacker. The six foot, 205 pounder is relatively raw as a defensive back but has a physical and aggressive mindset that lends itself to big plays. Williamson is a special teaser type pick this late in the draft, but his selection is symptomatic of the Giants looking for versatile and physical players to makes the defense as multiple as possible.
Tae Crowder, Linebacker, Georgia
The Giants had the last pick in the draft, making Tae Crowder Mr. Irrelevant. The 6’3”, 235 pound linebacker was recruited to Georgia to play running back but switched positions early on and became a mainstay on their defense for three years.
Crowder has obvious athleticism as a former running back and moves well on defense. Crowder never developed fundamentally, however and was hot and cold throughout his career; flashing great moments but usually being average at best. Crowder’s athleticism is still intriguing and his experience is worthwhile. However, his short term outlook is having him play special teams if he wants to stay with the team early on.
Grade the Giants’ 2020 NFL Draft class
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