State of the Franchise: New York Giants
The win-loss column for the Giants has not exactly been pretty this season, finishing 4-12. 2nd-year head coach Pat Shurmur was fired after not showing what the Giants brass wanted. There have been a couple of different names tied to the opening but the ex-Green Bay Packer’s coach, Mike McCarthy, provides the most intrigue. It is said that he has refocused on analytics and hopefully learned from his time spent with Aaron Rodgers on how to deal with a young QB. There have been bright spots during what was thought to be a rebuilding year going into the season.
After beating the Buccaneers and Redskins in weeks 3 and 4 the Giants were sitting at a surprising 2-2. Given that their two wins had come in games started 2019 6th overall pick, Daniel Jones, hopes were high. Injuries to star running back Saquon Barkley and typical rookie struggles from Daniel Jones sent the Giants into a tailspin as they lost 9 games in a row. Though the Giants were blown out in multiple games against the likes of the Patriots, Packers, and Cowboys (Twice), they also played many close games meaning I could see a scenario where this team should have won a couple more games than they did. The defense has struggled at times this year but there are bright spots on both sides of the roster for these New York Giants. With a high pick next year and the option to pick the best player available because they have their hopeful franchise quarterback on the roster already, this should be an exciting team heading into 2020.
Players 25 and Under: “The Future”:
As with any rebuilding team, the ideal scenario is to have a roster chalked full of young, high-upside guys. Landing these high-upside young players is maybe the most important factor in rebuilding a franchise, well outside of landing a franchise quarterback but we’ll get to that later. The first young player we are taking to look at is the star running back, Saquon Barkley. He is a 2nd-year player who became the rare top 5 pick in the draft for a running back when he was selected 2nd overall in the 2018 draft. Even while missing 3 games this season due to injury Barkley has shown he has what it takes to be an elite running back in this league for a long time. Yes, his overall numbers are down because of missed time and a surrounding team that has not improved much, but he still holds the talent that led the league in 2,028 total yards and 16 touchdowns in 2018. At 22 years old the future is very bright for this young back.
This might be a little bit of a cop-out, but the second young player that could be a part if the future is defensive lineman Leonard Williams. I am aware that Williams is going to be a free agent this offseason, and there have been questions about his passion for that game. Questions that caused the Jets to decide it was time to move after 7 weeks this season. The Giants did trade a 3rd round pick in this year’s draft to acquire him and a conditional 2021 5th round pick that becomes a 4th if they re-sign him, so it would not be surprising the see the Giants attempt to keep Williams at the right price. Williams’ peak years were actually his first 2 seasons in the league. He recorded 131 tackles with 10 sacks, which has yet to match in his next 3 season combined. But saying all of this it should mean that his price should not be out of the Giants range, this plus his age makes him an appealing option to bring back.
Another player whose stats have not shown the talent that this player potentially possesses is Jabrill Peppers. A highly recruited player at Michigan, Peppers went on to become a first-round pick of the Browns in 2017. He was on his way to his best season in 2019 before an injury cut his season short during week 11. Though these 11 weeks he had already matched his career-high in passed defended while sitting only 3 off of his high in tackles. Though the Giants would obviously like to see the interceptions improve, he’s only had 3 for his career, the fact that he has shown improvement in other aspects of his game is an encouraging sign.
At 25 years old he is looking at his last year on this list for the Giants, and if the injury questions continue, he might’ve been excluded from the list anyway. But because of the clear talent, he shows when he is on the field, we’ll give him the chance to prove himself in 2020. This player is Evan Engram. Taken 2 picks ahead of Peppers in the 2017 draft Engram, similar to Peppers, has shown signs of becoming a top player at his position. But given Engram struggles to stay on the field, it has been difficult for him to maximize the talent he has been proven to have. Engram has just over 1,700 yards over three years in the league plus he had been a red zone threat as he’s scored 12 times. There were high hopes for Engram entering 2019, hopes that I personally still have his suffering of the Lisfranc injury in his left foot put that on hold. Going into 2020 Engram, and the Giants will be looking for an injury-free year plus an improvement on the production side of the game as well. All of this is within reach for Engram.
Finally, for the fifth player of the future for the Giants we have their quarterback of the future, Daniel Jones. Admittedly there have been shaky weeks for Jones, but he has shown the Giants enough to the point that they will not be asking questions about potentially looking into taking another QB in the coming draft. Jones is only 3-8 on the year but many of his stats have been encouraging and he has been dealing with a roster riddled with injuries as well as needing improvement in many areas. Despite this Jones has managed a QBR over 100 in 4 games this year. He has gone for 23 touchdowns and only 11 picks on the season. He has shown some big game prowess as two of his 3 wins have come as comebacks in the 4th quarter. These came in the first start of his career against the Buccaneers, the second in week 15 against the Redskins. This most recent comeback win was possible the best Jones has played this year and it had to have gotten the Giants excited heading into 2020 as Jones threw for 353 yards with 5 touchdowns. If, as a franchise, you don’t have a superstar veteran QB the next best option is a young gun that is showing the potential to become that down the line, which is exactly what Jones has done for the Giants this season.
2019 Draft Review:
Here we’ll take a look back on the 2019 draft and how the players selected have done in their first season in the Bengals organization.
1.6 QB, Duke, Daniel Jones. This pick was generally panned by the greater football community when it was made. There is an untold number of videos of the talking heads reaction to the pick, which should tell you all you need to know about what their reaction was. Many people thought this was a reach of the pick there might not be a selection where the opinions have more drastically changed than Jones. He has given the Giants hope that they have found the Eli Manning successor and in doing so he has provided a team with a top 5 pick in next season’s draft the opportunity to take the player they like the most regardless of the position in the 2020 draft.
1.17 DT, Clemson, Dexter Lawrence. Lawrence has put in a decent, if not spectacular, first season. Coming out of a big program in Clemson and being a first-round pick, expectations were reasonably high even if evaluators had it as a little bit a reach of a pick. And while he has looked to be the run-stuffing defensive tackle that he was thought to be, he has not shown much improvement in the areas that one would have hoped. There was hope that in the NFL he would work into a tackle who would be able to rush the passer and not simply play as a run stopper. There is still hope we will develop into that elite run-stopping DT, but as far as a pass rusher goes with only 2.5 sacks and 9 hits on the quarterback, he has not shown much improvement.
1.30 CB, Georgia, DeAndre Baker. Baker, similar to Lawrence, was a big-name big school first-round pick. His numbers don’t jump off the page at first glance, but it is encouraging to see that his play is very similar to what he was able to do in college. Just as in college he has not been a high interception guy in his first year. He has yet to pick off a pass despite starting 14 of the 15 games this year. There were questions about his hands when coming into the league, so this should not be much of a surprise that his main strength statistically is passes defended. He continued the rate he’d shown in college as he recorded 9 in his junior and senior years. He has 8 this season.
3.32 EDGE, Old Dominion, Oshane Ximines. As a smaller prospect, there were concerns about his size playing into his main strength which was rushing the passer. So far this has not been much of an issue for Ximines. While he has not seen the most playing time, he has seen around half of the defensive snaps. Even with this limited playing time, he has managed to rack up 4.5 sacks with 23 tackles. This continued what he showed in college, where he averaged 44 tackles a year while peaking with 11.5 sacks his senior season. For a 3rd round pick, Ximines has given the Giants exactly what they wanted, a role player with the potential to grow into a very good pass rusher.
4.6 CB, Notre Dame, Julian Love. Love was seen as a bit of a steal at the beginning of the fourth round. But received almost no playing time on defense the first 11 weeks of the season. But coming out of the bye week he received his first major playing time and picked off his one INT of the season. This was followed by starting the next 4 weeks. Clearly, the Giants are attempting to see if they have anything in Love, especially after moving on Janoris Jenkins. Personally, I think they might have something in Love.
5.5 LB, Wisconsin, Ryan Connelly. Unfortunately, Connelly’s season was cut short after a torn ACL in week 4 of this year. But in the games, he was there for he received ample playing time, and was showing out well for a 5th round pick. One of the bigger knocks on his game coming out of Wisconsin was his coverage ability, but with 2 interceptions in his 4 games, he was working towards proving that wrong. Once recovered the Giants should be willing to give him another shot as a high-volume player.
5.33 WR, Auburn, Darius Slayton. Slayton has been one of the biggest breakouts from the middle rounds of the draft. He was a solid player at Auburn but has shown so much more during his first season for the Giants. He has already passed his highs from college in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. His biggest game of the season he went for 156 yards and 2 TDs. After the Odell Beckham trade, the Giants desperately needed a WR to play opposite of Sterling Shepard and Slayton has provided just that with the potential to become a lot more. Slayton has provided easily the highest value for one of the Giant’s later round picks.
6.7 CB, Washburn, Corey Ballentine. While he has not seen much playing time in his first season, he was always going to need time to adjust to the NFL after coming out of a small school. There was a scenario where Ballentine was not going to make the roster. Instead, he has been on the roster all season and the Giants have been giving him more playing time as the season has gone on. Similar to Love, after Jenkins fell out of favor with the team Ballentine has been getting a shot to show what he has.
7.18 OT, Kentucky, George Asafo-Adjei. He was drafted as a depth piece for the Giants but unfortunately has not been able to provide even that. He suffered a concussion before he could step on the field and has been on the IR ever since.
7.31 DT, Syracuse, Chris Slayton. Slayton was waived as a part of the final roster cuts but signed back to the practice squad. And while he spent most of the season there he was just recently signed to the active roster for the final week of the season. It will be interesting to see if he gets much playing time in the final week, as the Giants are sure to give playing time to the younger guys on the roster.
The Giants are not in the position to cut many players without taking a decent hit on the cap space. Yes, they will have a solid amount of money coming off the books as free agents, but there is still one player who they should consider letting go. His quality of play has not been up to the task this season and the Giants would take zero against the cap next year. This player is Spencer Pulley. He has not been a great player up front for the Giants, playing under 10% of the offensive snaps, but would cost the Giants $2.75 million next season. This would be an easy way for the Giants to free up some more cap space, they could even spend that on another center better in quality.
There are a couple of free agents where decisions will have to be made about whether they will be brought back or not. One where there won’t be much of a decision is Eli Manning as it is fully expected that he will retire or go on to another team.
One player where there will be a tough call to make is Leonard Williams. As talked about earlier there if an argument that Williams has been one of the better players on the roster this season. At least, it can be argued he possessed the potential to become a high-level lineman. Given that he is still fairly young with a good amount of upside, he just hasn’t backed it up with his play yet, it is hard to judge what his market will be. I have a feeling it might end up out of the Giants range where they are comfortable. But they gave up a decent amount to get him in the trade from the Jets so they could definitely be keen on bringing him back.
The free agent to be that I personally would like to see brought back is Deone Bucannon. This is not a big star signing or even a full-time starter. But he has played a solid role for the Giants this season. After being cut by the Buccaneers early in the season he latched on with the Giants and has been increased playing time with each passing week. Bucannon will not break the bank but will provide a solid veteran presence on a roster that will be younger than ever before next season.
The 2020 Draft
The Giants are currently looking at the 4th pick in the draft and unfortunately might have played themselves out of a shot at Chase Young. But with a young roster, there are still many holes they will be able to fill with the 4th pick. My personal favorite if WR Jerry Jeudy out of Alabama. Jeudy has been the top WR in college football for the past two seasons and would be a potential Beckham replacement. A trio of WRs in Jeudy, Slayton, and Shepard would sure look good for Daniel Jones for years to come. After moving on from Jenkins there is a chance the Giants take a look at CB Jeffrey Okudah from Ohio State. He is seen as the top CB in the class and would provide a potential lockdown presence on the outside. Given the fact they have a star RB in Saquon Barkley, the Giants could also see a franchise LT as a wise investment so they should look towards two of the top tackles in the class in Jedrick Wills and Andrew Thomas. Both are big school guys but provide the potential to become top tackles in the league. And though it would be seen as a little bit of a reach I would love to see the Giants consider a shot at Isaiah Simmons the LB out of Clemson. With the 4th pick, this might not quite line up as there would be better players on the board, but I fully believe no team will be worse off with Simmons in the middle of their defensive field.
Look back on the 2009 Draft
One of my favorite things to do is take a look back at the franchise 10 years ago and see how the ‘09 draft class played out.
1.29 WR, UNC, Hakeem Nicks. He was one of the few players from the draft to provide value to the Giants. He spent 6 years with the Giants with one year in Indianapolis. With the Giants, he provided a solid option across from Victor Cruz. Nicks caught 356 passes for 5081 yards and 31 TDs for his career. He was on the Giant super bowl winning team and contributed 444 yards during the playoff run in 2011. This ended up as a very solid pick for the Giants.
2.12 LB, UVa, Clint Sintim. Sintim only spent 2 years in the NFL, both with the Giants. He recorded 1 sack during his rookie season and that would prove to be the peak of his career. This pick was, unfortunately, a bust as a high round draft pick you would like much more out of a player.
2.27 OT, Connecticut, William Beatty. During his time with the Giants, he provided a steady presence for 7 years along the offensive line. He was a part of two super bowl winning teams for the Giants which will always put a player in the fan-favorite category. And while he was never a pro-bowl level player for the Giants, he started 47 of 48 games from 2012-2014. Outside of Nicks, this was probably the best pick of the draft for the Giants.
3.20 WE, Cal Poly- San Luis Obispo, Ramses Barden. Barden spent 4 seasons with the Giants as a solid role player. He never broke out as a heavy workload guy, but he provided a threat to gain yardage on shorter passes. He never caught a touchdown but provided 394 yards over the course of his 4 seasons with the team.
3.35 TE, Wisconsin, Travis Beckum. He was also with the team for 4 years and, similar to Barden, he did not provide much of an impact on the field. He did catch 3 TDs and provided 264 yards. Beckum maxed out with a 116-yard season in 2010. He never played for another team but spent some time over the next offseason with the Seahawks and Saints.
4.28 RB, NC State, Andre Brown. Brown had trouble staying on the field through injuries and suspensions. But when he was playing, he provided a solid red-zone threat out of the backfield. In 2 seasons with the Giants he was not a big yardage guy with 876 yards, but he managed to punch in 11 touchdowns. He, unfortunately, was done in by his injury problems but in 2012 he gave the Giants exactly what they had hoped for when they drafted him. He was signed with the Texans after the Giants cut him post-2013 but would not make the final roster.
5.14 QB, Sam Houston State, Rhett Bomar. As with many later rounds’ picks Bomar spent his career bouncing between being cut and signed to various practice squads. He made the Giants active roster for one game in 2009 but never saw any playing time for his career. After being cut by the Giants in 2010 be signed on the Vikings later to be cut and signed by the Raiders. Bomar would never take a snap in the NFL and despite being a late-round pick he still did not provide the Giants anything.
6.26 CB, New Mexico, DeAndre Wright. Similarly, to Bomar, Wright never caught on in New York. He was cut before the season started. And though he also went on to be a part of other team’s rosters he never managed to make the final cuts before the season started.
7.28 CB, South Carolina, Stoney Woodson. Woodson was the final pick of three late-round selections to never play a regular-season snap for the Giants. He was hurt before the season has started and was released on an injury settlement. He hooked up with the Eagles after being released but never made an appearance on the active roster. This was his final appearance on any form of roster in the NFL.