Breaking down and grading Giants’ 2021 NFL Draft picks

Kadarius Toney Giants NFL Draft
The Giants made Kadarius Toney their first pick of the 2021 NFL Draft after trading down to the No. 20 spot.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

An unprecedented draft that saw general manager Dave Gettleman trade down from his first-round pick at No. 11 overall helped set the tone for what became a successful selection process for the New York Giants over the weekend — pointing its continued rebuild in a promising direction.

The two greatest needs of the team at the draft were at wide receiver and at the edge on defense, which Gettleman was able to address effectively in the first two rounds while nabbing an extra first-round pick for 2022 after trading down to the No. 20 spot with the Chicago Bears. 

Here’s a pick-by-pick look at how the Giants fared:


1st Round, Pick 20

Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

After the Eagles hopped a spot ahead of the Giants to nab Heisman winner DeVonta Smith out of Alabama, the Giants made the choice to move back where they felt more comfortable taking Toney. The six-foot, 193-pound receiver will best be utilized out of the slot where his big-time speed can be used in yards-after-catch situations.


2nd Round, Pick 18 (50)

Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia

The Toney pick was met with some apprehension by those wanting the Giants to get an edge rusher, but that quickly subsided when Ojulari fell into the Giants’ laps in the second round. The Georgia product was projected by many to go in the first round but fell with some concerns surrounding the need to polish his pass-rush moves. However, this is an impressive athlete with NFL-ready strength and highly-touted quickness off the line. 


3rd Round, Pick 7 (71)

Aaron Robinson, CB, UCF

The Giants’ third-most pressing need at cornerback was addressed in the third round as Robinson will be slated to develop into a legitimate third corner behind James Bradberry and Adoree’ Jackson. Now the question is whether he has the speed and patience to succeed on the outside or if he’ll be pushed inside as a nickel. 


4th Round, Pick 11 (116)

Elerson G. Smith, EDGE, Northern Iowa

Another edge talent to throw into the depth chart, Smith is projected to be an adequate backup and special-teams option for the Giants. He didn’t play last season, but tied for the FCS lead in 2019 with five forced fumbles, posted 21.5 tackles for loss (sixth nationally), and garnered 14 sacks, which was tied for fourth.


6th Round, Pick 12 (196)

Gary Brightwell, RB, Arizona

After Wayne Gallman signed with the San Francisco 49ers this offseason, the Giants addressed its lack of depth in the backfield by bringing on Devontae Booker and now added another option with Brightwell behind Saquon Barkley. While Arizona played just five games last season, Brightwell received honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors with 390 yards (4.4 yards per rush) with one touchdown, 13 receptions, and 53 yards.


7th Round, Pick 17 (201)

Rodarius Williams, CB, Oklahoma State

Willimas received Big 12 second-team all-conference honors in 2020 after he led the Cowboys with seven pass breakups and 18 tackles in nine starts.

amNewYork Metro’s Grade: A