Alex Kielar | April 29th, 2020
The Giants came into the draft having a glaring need at offensive tackle to give their franchise quarterback Daniel Jones and stud running back Saquon Barkley protection. General Manager Dave Gettleman surprisingly didn’t make any questionable moves. He filled their biggest needs on both sides of the ball pretty well. On the biggest positions of need – offensive line and secondary – they added starting level talent and solid depth. They didn’t add any offensive weapons, but they did grab some solid UDFA options.
The Giants probably won’t contend in the NFC East with the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles making solid improvements to their teams. But they have the promise to contend next year and improve off their 4-12 2019 record.
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Round 1, Pick 4: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The only thing I don’t like about this pick is that they didn’t trade back to select Thomas. With the two teams after them wanting to draft new quarterbacks, they could have moved back and still grabbed him. Other than that, Thomas was the perfect pick for the Giants to make and the perfect fit. Thomas wasn’t most people’s number one tackle, but most pro-ready tackle. Thomas has experience lining up on the left and right side of the line. He has good size, quickness, mobility, and is a great pass blocker. He will help Jones right away to have time in the pocket to use his skill set to the fullest.
Round 2, Pick 36: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Not one safety was selected in the first round. The Giants took advantage of this by drafting the best overall player at the position. He will compete to start from day one and his versatility to play deep, in-the-box, and in the slot gives them plenty of options. He played over 200 snaps at each of those positions. McKinney is a great fit in the defensive scheme the Giants run and can be in the Patrick Chung type role. He was a top 20 talent but because of where other teams sat with needs and their big boards, the Giants were able to snag him.
The Giants have a trio of versatile safeties now with McKinney adding to Jabrill Peppers and Julian Love who both can move around to three spots. The Giants could opt to use three-safety looks on many occasions. They had some solid plays in the secondary last year, but also several mistakes which will be much improved now.
Round 3, Pick 99: Matt Peart, OT, UConn
Already taking Andrew Thomas with their first pick, the Giants grab another tackle but one that is still very raw and developmental. He has a lot of upside and has experience playing both sides of the line like Thomas. Peart is a selection that helps vastly with the depth at the position and also gives the Giants someone who can supplement time from Nate Solder at one of the tackle spots, while eventually taking over as the full-time starter. Once Peart fully taps into his potential, he should prove to be a steal on day two of the draft. I like this pick as well.
Round 4, Pick 110: Darnay Holmes, CB, UCLA
This pick was filling a need for the Giants but was a reach in the early part of the fourth round with more reliable cornerbacks on the board such as Amik Robertson and Troy Pride Jr. Holmes made some flashy plays at UCLA, but he has numerous ugly reps where he is late to drive, late to react and looks out of control. He has the right intangibles and is a great athlete, but for his ceiling to be reached he has to work on recognition and control. He will get beat over the top with slower playtime than timed top-end speed.
Round 5, Pick 150: Shane Lemieux, OG, Oregon
The Giants further added to their offensive line by adding Lemieux, who was a four-year starter at Oregon and never missed one game. This is another steal as the durability he brings to the table is a huge plus for any NFL team. He also has started to work on moving to center, which is an opening for the Giants, so he can add versatility as well. Lemieux has the willingness to adapt to whatever is needed of him and he still has a lot to learn and improve upon. He will need to fine-tune his pass protection, but he has a pretty high ceiling.
Round 6, Pick 183: Cameron Brown, OLB, Penn State
The Giants continued to work towards improving their defense with their selection of Brown, who grew up hating Giants’ division rival Dallas Cowboys as a resident of Maryland, Redskins country. Brown became a starter at Penn State during his junior season in 2018 and became a team captain last season. The leadership quality definitely stands out for Gettleman, head coach Joe Judge, and the Giants. However, he needs to work on improving certain parts of his game, especially tackling in open space and awareness. He has length, quickness, and athleticism to become an impact player, while he should make an impact on special teams right away.
Round 7, Pick 218: Carter Coughlin, OLB, Minnesota
Coughlin is no relation to former Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, but the Giants finally picked a defensive end with their first of four seventh-round picks (yeah, gross). Even though Coughlin is listed as an outside linebacker, he did a much better job with rushing the quarterback than playing in coverage. If he makes the team, it will be as a depth linebacker but if he ever makes it on the field he could very well line up on the edge. He has very quick speed and he uses that to pressure the quarterback, even when he doesn’t pick up a sack he can use his athleticism to rattle the quarterback. The former Golden Gopher is a solid depth piece and worth a seventh-rounder.
Round 7, Pick 238: T.J. Brunson, ILB, South Carolina
It is hard to grade any seventh-round pick as “bad”. You can take more chances that late, but Brunson has quite a few negative aspects to his game. He probably would have gone undrafted. He does have the leadership factor, being a two-year captain at South Carolina and a three-year starter. Brunson is, of course, a depth pickup for the Giants and could make an impact on special teams. He needs improvement in downhill attacking to be a more complete linebacker.
Round 7, Pick 247: Chris Williamson, CB, Minnesota
Williamson joins his Minnesota teammate Coughlin on the Giants. He adds to their secondary depth that is now getting fairly crowded. They may be trying to add as many depth guys as possible and see which ones work out. Williamson has good size and can play nickel and safety. He does well at breaking up passes, defending the run, and finishing tackles. He doesn’t have great production or explosiveness which is why he’s a bit of a “flyer” pick. As I mentioned, teams are more willing to take chances in the last round and see where it works itself out.
Round 7, Pick 255: Tae Crowder, ILB, Georgia
Well here is “Mr. Irrellevent” for 2020, Tae Crowder out of Georgia. The Giants drafted their fourth linebacker of the draft in Crowder. He was recruited to Georgia as a running back and switched to linebacker the following year. Crowder was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award (nation’s top linebacker) last season and played a key role in Georgia’s number one ranked defense. He reads the quarterback well, has good instincts, and has a solid range to defend the run. While he could be a good depth piece, there were some solid offensive weapons (they didn’t draft one) available who wound up being signed as undrafted free agents. They did, however, sign some receivers as UDFAs.
The Giants had one of my favorite drafts as most of their picks were for guys with starting level talent off the bat or very good depth pieces. They had some reach and questionable picks, but overall they did a very good job at improving for this year and the future. The best pick has to be their first pick of Andrew Thomas, as they can finally give Daniel Jones room to throw and Saquon Barkley room to run. He will make an impact right away and be a starter for years. The Giants’ worst pick has got to be their pick of Darnay Holmes in the fourth round with other more talented and starting-potential corners still on the board. Overall it was a really good draft and probably Gettleman’s best one overall since becoming the GM.
Overall Grade: A
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