Heading into the NFL Draft, much of the discussion around the New York Giants has been on whether their priority should be finding receiving talent or bringing in competition for the interior of their offensive line. Yet, perhaps some of the discussion should be targeted directly at how the Giants can better match up with the Eagles and Cowboys.
In his pre-draft press conference, Giants general manager Joe Schoen, when asked by amNew York Sports about whether he takes into account what division rivals do well when assembling his team, said, “I think you always have to look at [what division rivals do well] because that’s the ultimate goal; to win your division.”
He reflected back on his time as a national scout, and later director of player personnel, with the Miami Dolphins from 2008-2016.
“When I was in Miami and [New England] had Gronk all those years, you know, you’re looking for some sort of linebacker that can match up and cover Gronk…So if there are players or schemes or whatever it may be throughout the division, you’re always looking at that and studying it and seeing how you can maybe counter one of their strengths.”
So what might that mean for the upcoming NFL Draft? How can the Giants counter what the Eagles, who are the clear favorites in the NFC East, do well?
In order to answer that question, we asked Liam Jenkins, the editor of Philly Sports Network, to explain what he thinks the Eagles do best. From there, we can explore how the Giants might be able to counter that with their draft picks.
Need Speed/Athleticism to counter Jalen Hurts
“The Eagles are set at quarterback with Jalen Hurts and Marcus Mariota,” explained Jenkins. While Hurts will always be the focal point of the Eagles, it’s fitting that Mariota was brought in as a backup since both players are assets with their legs.
In three games against New York this year, Hurts ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Although, it should be noted that one of those games was his first game back from a separated shoulder when he ran for just 13 yards as he was likely trying to keep from aggravating the injury.
Given that the Giants have a need at linebacker, they could also look to find a player with the sideline-to-sideline speed needed to help contain Hurts.
That could mean a first or second-round pick on Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell, who had the best 20-yard shuttle at the NFL Combine, a second-round pick on Alabama linebacker Henry To’oTo’o, who had the fourth-fastest shuttle, a second or third-round pick on Washington State’s Daiyan Henley, who had the fifth-fastest 10-yard split, or a fourth or fifth-round pick on Auburn’s Owen Pappoe, who ran the fastest 40-yard dash among linebackers with the quickest 10-yard split.
Beefing up the Offensive Line
“The defensive line is a little long in the tooth and doesn’t have much depth for the long-term,” said Jenkins. “It has to be an area of focus.”
If the defensive line could be a weakness for the Eagles then strengthening the offensive line could mean that the Giants can control the trenches in their battles this season. If Schoen looks to go that route, he has a number of avenues to choose from, but with Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal as the tackles, the most likely additions would come with the interior of the offensive line.
That could mean a first-round pick on the draft’s best center John Michael Schmitz from Minnesota or the draft’s best guard prospect in O’Cyrus Torrence from Florida.
If Schoen chooses to wait until day two, he could select Wisconsin’s center Joe Tippmann, Alabama guard Emil Ekiyor, North Dakota State guard Cody Mauch, TCU center Steve Avila, or Ohio State center Luke Wypler.
Waiting even longer could mean selecting Kentucky guard Tashawn Manning (who we mocked to the Giants), Oregon center Alex Forsyth, Washington guard Henry Bainivalu, or Michigan center Olusegun Oluwatimi.
Either way, it makes sense for Schoen to bolster the interior of the offensive line with potentially multiple picks, not only to fill a hole on the roster but to give his team a clear advantage over Philadelphia in the battle in the trenches.
A Reciever to Beat Defenses Deep
A Corner to Contain Speedy Receivers
“There’s obviously no qualms with our receiving corps,” said Jenkins, who highlighted the elite duo of A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith as being one of the most dynamic tandems in football. The Giants could certainly use another option next to Adoree’ Jackson to help contain their division rivals.
That could mean a first-round pick on players like Cam Smith of South Carolina, Kelee Ringo of Georgia, or Deonte Banks of Maryland. It could mean a day two pick on Michigan’s DJ Turner, who ran the fastest 40-yard dash at the Combine, Mississippi State’s Emmnuael Forbes, TCU’s Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, Stanford’s Kyu Blu Kelly, or Kansas State’s Julius Brents.
If Schoen opts to wait until day three, he could look at Syracuse’s injured Garrett Williams, USC’s Mekhi Blackmon, Louisville’s Kei’Trel Clark, or Oregon State’s Alex Austin.
Whichever path the Giants choose this weekend in the NFL Draft, it’s clear that they’ll have one eye on making a statement to their division rivals that they’re coming for the top spot in 2023.
For more Giants coverage, visit amNY Sports