Giants interested in run-blocking mauler second-round OT prospect

The New York Giants are doing their due diligence on the 2022 NFL Draft’s offensive line prospects. Many believe that the Giants will take the best offensive tackle on the board with the fifth overall pick in the first round. But new general manager Joe Schoen is planning ahead, taking a look at later-round prospects as well. According to Matt Lombardo, the Giants are having a visit with a second-round offensive tackle prospect this week, Tulsa’s Tyler Smith.

What could Tyler Smith bring to the Giants?

The Giants have expressed interest in a few middle-to-late round offensive line prospects. Tyler Smith, however, seems like a realistic option in round two if the Giants walk out of the first round without a tackle. Smith is a 6’6″, 322 pounds, violent and powerful offensive tackle.

Tyler Smith’s playing style has been compared to that of potential top-ten pick Ikem Ekwonu. Both prospects are violent maulers in the running game. Smith earned a 92.1 PFF grade and led all FBS OL in big-time run-blocks in 2021. His PFF grade also led all AAC offensive tackles in 2021.

Smith spent his collegiate career playing left tackle, though, a position the Giants have already solidified. If the Giants were to draft Tyler Smith, he would need to transition to the right side. Regardless of which side he plays on, though, the mission is clear for Tyler Smith:

“People are trying to hurt my quarterback. I’m really protecting somebody’s life back there.” – Tyler Smith via PFF

Tyler Smith has some development to work through in pass protection. However, he was so physically dominating as a run-blocker in college. It is hard to see a scenario where Smith does not make an impact at the next level considering the run-blocking success he achieved at Tulsa. Tyler Smith is a backup plan for the New York Giants, but he would be an excellent selection if they go offensive tackle at the top of the second round.

Yankees’ Aaron Judge predicts trouble down the road with AL East opponent

yankees, aaron judge

The New York Yankees have a tall task ahead of them in the AL East, especially with the rising Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays. To start the year, both Toronto and Tampa sit at 3–1 on the season, whereas the Yankees have a .500 record, winning two and losing two.

On Monday evening, the Bombers fell to the Blue Jays, failing to put up a single run despite their star-studded batting order. Toronto starting pitcher Alek Manoah was phenomenal, allowing just one hit over six innings of action. He struck out seven batters and escaped a bases-loaded situation with Giancarlo Stanton grounding out to shortstop.

Slugger Aaron Judge predicted that Toronto will give them problems this season, indicating they have a dangerous offense that flashed its capabilities on Monday.

“They’re a great ballclub,” said outfielder Aaron Judge. “They’ve got a great offense that we saw today. They’ve got guys that hit for power, got good speed up and down, then a great pitching staff. They’re going to be tough all year, but we’re looking forward to it.”

First basement Anthony Rizzo mirrored Judge’s statement, especially regarding the strength of the AL East.

“They’re a good team,” said first baseman Anthony Rizzo. “This whole division — the Red Sox, the Blue Jays, the Rays. The Orioles aren’t going to just bow down, either. They’re up and coming and have guys on the way. We lost today; tomorrow we’ll come back and do what we can do to win.”

Rizzo has been a leader in the clubhouse since signing a two-year extension to stay in the Bronx, and they will need him to get back in the win column on Tuesday.

How will Knicks solve the Randle-Toppin riddle?

This summer, the New York Knicks are staring at crossroads with a big Julius Randle question hanging over their heads.

Randle’s extension worth at least $110 million will kick in next season following a disappointing season.

As his outside shot, the swing skill in his Most Improved Player and All-NBA Second Team campaign last season, has abandoned him, so was his positive demeanor. Inspiration turned into frustration as the season dragged on. His emotions got the best of him, and he knew it.

Then his backup, Obi Toppin, came out popping in the season’s final five games.

Knicks team president Leon Rose, Randle’s former agent, has his work cut out for him this summer.

“Julius is a passionate player. He’s a person who, last year, everything went right. This year things didn’t go right. But he still wound up [as] one of three players to average 20 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists,” Rose said in a pre-taped interview before the Knicks’ final game of the season last Sunday.

New York coach Tom Thibodeau still defended Randle from criticisms until the end of the season that started with Bing Bong and then went wrong.

“Well, I don’t know if comfortable, but I think the big thing is, let’s not mistake how talented he is. He didn’t shoot the 3 as well as he did a year ago, but he’s still 20, 10, and five. That’s talent,” Thibodeau said.  “That’s a lot of talent.”

The only other two players on that distinguished list are MVP candidates Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic on that list. It’s quite a feat on the surface, but beneath those Randle’s numbers are inefficient shooting and negative vibes that engulfed the team at various points of the season. His contentious relationship with the fans and referees further magnified his down season.

“Things happened on the court. We saw some emotion coming out, saw some things happening. I think it affected his play at times. He felt remorseful for some of those things, as he expressed to the fans in the letter he sent. He kept working and worked through it to the end of the season.”

Rose referred to Randle’s public apology on his Instagram after his infamous ‘thumbs up gesture.’ But he has since deleted that post along with all his Knicks photos except for his Slam Magazine cover shot with RJ Barrett. Randle, 27, is still young but not by NBA standards. He’s already a veteran with eight seasons under his belt. And it’s his third season in New York, so he should already have a grasp of the city and the fan base’s temperament.

“(Randle) was just not comfortable at times. It was just not being comfortable. He gave it his best effort,” Rose said. “The three-point shot just didn’t go like last year, and you had teams keying on him more this year. At the end, he made some adjustments. He carried the burden. I was proud of the fact he did fight through it.”

Randle’s three-point accuracy took a nose dive to 30.8 percent from a career-high 41.1 percent last season. As the season went on, opposing defenses no longer respected his outside shot and left him open. Randle’s confidence took a hit, but to his credit, he adjusted and bullied his way to the basket more after the All-Star break.

Yet his perceived poor body language persisted.

Despite the boos and the growing chants of Obi Toppin’s name, Randle still reiterated his desire to stay in New York before being shut down with a sore quad over the team’s final five games. Rose made the confirmation in last Sunday’s interview.

“Julius loves it here in New York, wants to be in New York,” Rose said.

Can New York love him back the way it did last season? The answer is a resounding yes as long they see a better effort. Thibodeau believes Randle can bounce back.

“I think we had our ups and downs this year and when you’re that type of player, he’s gonna get criticism,” Thibodeau said. “I’m gonna get criticism. That goes with the turf here. So, you deal with it, come back, and use it as motivation. I know one thing: Julius will be in the gym all summer.”

There’s no doubt about that. But the bigger question is will Randle adjust his game to accommodate Toppin?

“For sure, me and Jules actually talked about it. We definitely feel in today’s game that’s a big thing, just because a lot of teams are playing small, a lot of teams want to play fast, shoot 3s, run the floor and just get out in transition,” Toppin said after the Knicks penultimate game in Washington over the weekend. “And I feel like when me and Jules are on the court, we’re definitely playing a lot faster. Either me or Jules can be in the paint, or we can screen and roll.”

“There are so many different things we can do when we’re both on the court. But we’ve definitely talked about it, and hopefully, we’re both back here next year, and we can see that. I feel like we can definitely do some damage in the league if we’re on the court together.”

But the biggest question is, will Thibodeau finally relent to playing them more together?

“I like having a component of being able to downsize,” Thibodeau said. “But the thing is, we lose our defense, so it’s gonna be hard because once you do that, you’re basically committing to outscoring somebody.”

Will Thibodeau’s long-held belief change over the course of the summer?

If not, then something has to give.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Yankees once again facing shortstop issues after new acquisition dropped from lineup

isiah kiner-falefa, yankees

For field manager Aaron Boone, it took four games to replace New York Yankees shortstop acquisition Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the lineup. After enjoying a solid spring, Kiner-Falefa has struggled to get going at the start of the regular season, hosting a .091 average over 12 plate appearances. While it is far too soon to make any general assumptions, the Yankees didn’t only replace the former Minnesota Twin due to his offensive struggles but his defensive liabilities as well.

General manager Brian Cashman prioritized acquiring Kiner-Falefa from Minnesota, sending Gio Urshela and Gary Sanchez in the trade package. They were forced to take on a two-year, $50 million remaining on Josh Donaldson’s contract, who has been serving as the lead-off hitter to start the season.

However, Cashman believes Kiner-Falefa will be the team’s everyday shortstop until Oswald Peraza or Anthony Volpe are ready to make the jump.

The Yankees didn’t upgrade at shortstop at all:

Isiah has been a liability early on in the season, allowing an error over 29 innings and a .929 fielding percentage. While he recorded a .972 fielding percentage last season over 1360 innings, some believe his best position is on the hot corner at third base.

It is likely that Cashman views IKF as a stop-gap at shortstop until one of the young prospects is ready, transitioning him over to third base afterward so he can serve as a valuable piece in the infield.

In the meantime, the Bombers have already injected Gleyber Torres back into the shortstop position, despite Cashman stating that upgrading the spot was a necessity this past off-season. In one of baseball’s most luxurious shortstop free agent classes, the Yankees sat quietly with no intention of making a move.

It is disappointing to see that the Yankees were forced to make a defensive shift after just four games with their new shortstop acquisition. While IKF will undoubtedly be back in the lineup shortly, having already committed an error and suffered significant deficiencies at the plate, it is not exactly the start the Yankees were hoping for at a position everybody knew was a liability, to begin with.

Giants News Roundup 5/12: Kayvon Thibodeaux visit, big decision at 5th overall

kayvon thibodeaux, new york giants

With the 2022 NFL Draft quickly approaching, the Giants face incoming artillery from the top-5 teams. The four selections ahead of Big Blue will determine how GM Joe Schoen approaches the draft, but he has plenty of leverage in trade-back scenarios if need be.

However, the Giants continue to show interest in Oregon standout pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, who’s receiving plenty of interest from team’s at the top of the board.

According to NFL.com, Thibodeaux is preparing to meet with a number of top-5 teams this week:

The Oregon product is slated to visit with the Detroit Lions (No. 2 overall pick) on Tuesday, then he meets with the New York Giants (No. 5 pick) on Thursday and New York Jets (No. 4 pick) on Friday, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Monday, per sources informed of the plans.

The Giants have a tough decision to make at No. 5 overall — go for the best offensive tackle available or take a risk and draft Thibodeaux with the possibility they may miss out on a favorable OL prospect. The scouts have done a tremendous amount of research regarding late 1st round OTs and even Day 2 options, despite the massive falloff in talent.

The prospect of landing a top OT and EDGE in the 1st round is extremely enticing, despite the need for quarterback insurance in the 2023 NFL Draft. Both HC Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen have indicated they prefer to take a BPA (best player available) approach, but haven’t ruled out the idea of moving back if the haul is worthwhile.

Nonetheless, adding Thibodeaux to a defense that already has a young pass rusher in Azeez Ojulari would be fantastic. Having two offensive tackles and both edge rushers on rookie contracts is exactly the type of strategy that promotes a successful rebuild.

3 takeaways from the Yankees’ opening series against the Red Sox

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

This past weekend the Yankees won their opening series against the Red Sox 2-1. They won the opener 6-5, carried by a Josh Donaldson walk-off in the 11th. Saturday’s game finished 4-2 after Anthony Rizzo launched another two-run nuke, and they lost the finale 4-3.

1: The Bullpen is good

After three short outings from the Yankees’ top 3 starting pitchers, the bullpen needed to combine for 17.2 innings in this past weekend’s series against the Red Sox to win the series. They pitched 12+ different relievers, including Ron Marinaccio’s MLB debut and flamethrower Miguel Castro’s Yankee debut. The staff had a 0.96 ERA, a 3.17 FIP, and 15 strikeouts. It’s safe to say that with their starters combining for 8 earned runs in 11 innings, the bullpen bailed the Yankees out this series.

2: Giancarlo is the same Giancarlo as last year

Giancarlo Stanton’s Yankee tenure has had its rocky moments. In Giancarlo’s first 3 years with the Yankees, he combined for 199 games and had a 131 wRC+. Aside from his obvious health issues, his production was not quite what the Yankees expected following his 59-HR and MVP winning season in 2017. In 2021 Giancarlo put it all together: playing 139 games with a 137 wRC+. This year, Stanton has not slowed down: against the Red Sox, he went 5/13 with a 1.231 OPS. Oh, and he put eight balls in play, averaging an exit velocity of 107.3 MPH.

3: Don’t worry about Gerrit

Last year, Gerrit Cole was used as a scapegoat by MLB for their spidertack/sticky-substance issue, and at a glance, it looked like he was heavily affected by the ban. Cole posted a 2.26 ERA with 11 walks in 75.2 innings prior to the crackdown and a 3.92 ERA post-crackdown. Surface level, these numbers were worrying, but after looking deeper, the core was actually great after the ban until he hurt his hamstring in the last month of the season. Pre-hamstring injury and post-crackdown, Gerrit had a 3.19 ERA. It was only after the hamstring injury that he really started to struggle. With this information, I beg you: please don’t give up on our ace after one bad start. Gerrit Cole will be fine.

Giants Mock Draft: A masterful trade-back strategy focused on the future

evan neal, giants

It is realistic to consider that the New York Giants will need a 2023 first-round pick if they want to target a young quarterback next year. With the Philadelphia Eagles executing a big trade with the New Orleans Saints, acquiring a 2023 first-rounder, Big Bue has their hands tied.

If new management wants to trade up and draft a young quarterback in 2023, they will need additional draft capital to do so. Having the necessary insurance for Daniel Jones is essential since spending $20+ million via the franchise tag or extension might be overzealous. However, there’s always the possibility DJ explodes onto the scene this year with new schematics and an adequate offensive line.

This mock trade scenario is heavily predicated on the Giants moving back multiple times, acquiring capital for the future, and another first-round pick for the 2022 draft.

New York Giants mock draft:

5th Overall: Alabama – OT Evan Neal

The biggest need for a Giants is right tackle at this point in time, despite management indicating they will take the best player available approach.

“We have enough needs on the roster that I think you can go and get the best player available,” Joe Schoen said. “This is how we are going to state [the board]. We are going to make it the best football player 1-to-7 or 1-to-13 [in the event of a trade back], who is the best football player. You can sometimes make a few mistakes if you design by need. ”

Evan Neal out of Alabama offers the most NFL-ready tackle in the draft, despite Ikem Ekwonu potentially having the higher ceiling. Neal has experience at right tackle and would fit perfectly into the Giants’ scheme with his massive frame and upside. If the Giants really want Jones to succeed, they need an impact player at RT, and Neal fits the bill perfectly.

7th Overall: Trade back with Seattle, who look to leapfrog Atlanta for Malik Willis

This is where things start to get exciting for the Giants, who desperately need another first-round pick for the future if they want a chance at landing CJ Stroud or Bryce Young. Some make the argument the Giants could be bad enough next season to end up with a top-5 pick once again, but given the change in the coaching staff, which is heavily focused on offensive success, chances are they won’t be any worse than last season.

Despite this quarterback class being rather thin, several teams desperately need a young player with upside. Both Malik Willis out of Liberty and Kenny Pickett from Pittsburgh represent the two best prospects at QB. A team will be looking to move up and grab their guy — the Giants happen to be in a perfect spot to capitalize.

The Seattle Seahawks recently traded Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos for a monster haul, including a 2023 first-round pick. That pick will be Denver’s, so it could end up being a bit later in the draft after acquiring Wilson. However, the Giants need to take that risk, and they can still maintain their draft capital this year using this strategy.

Big Blue moves back from 7th overall to 9th overall, giving up their second-round pick in the process to acquire Denver’s 2023 first-rounder. Given it will likely be a back-end selection, Seattle sees the value in leapfrogging Atlanta and landing Malik Willis.

In conclusion, the Giants trade the 7th and 36th overall pick for the 9th and a 2023 first-rounder that originally belonged to Denver.

9th Overall: Trade back with the New Orleans Saints to 16

Here’s where things get even more exciting since the Saints realize that Kenny Pickett could easily be snatched off the board before their pick. The Giants, who just gave away their second-round pick are eyeing even more draft capital for 2022. Given their need, they decide to move back with the Saints, who guarantee Pickett’s availability.

In this scenario, Joe Schoen manages to trade back twice, adding a 2023 first-rounder and an extra 2022 first-rounder instead of holding onto their 2nd round pick.

16th overall: Clemson – CB Andrew Booth Jr.

With the 16th overall pick, the Giants decide to draft Clemson corner Andrew Booth Jr. after missing out on Sauce Gardner out of Cincinnati and Derek Stingley from LSU. Booth Jr. is an alpha dog in the secondary with solid man coverage traits.

Hiring Wink Martindale as the Giants’ defensive coordinator, the team needs outstanding man-coverage corners, and Booth can serve as the No. 2 behind Adoree Jackson. Another thing to like about Booth is he’s capable of transitioning to the slot, giving him valuable versatility.

19th overall: Boston College – OG Zion Johnson

Adding the 19th overall pick may be a bit expensive for the Giants to handle, but it is necessary given the foundation they’re trying to build this off-season. Unfortunately, this draft doesn’t land them the stud edge rusher they would like, but instead solves the OL once and for all, plugging left guard with Zion Johnson out of Boston College.

If the Giants manage to land Evan Neal and Johnson in the same draft, they can finally get a good look at Daniel Jones. Even if Jones fails to take a big step forward, they will have a tremendous situation waiting for a young rookie quarterback.

The Giants would only have one long-term free-agent signing on the line in Mark Glowinski, with the group mostly plugged by players on rookie contracts, specifically, both offensive tackles. Just imagine having both tackles and your quarterback on rookie contracts! That seems like the perfect strategy for a rebuild.

Good news and bad news as Yankees draw a blank against Toronto

New York Yankees, Jameson Taillon

Coming off a successful series against the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees drew a dud against the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday evening. With Jameson Taillon getting his first start of the season, the Bombers were unable to provide him any run support, as young Toronto starter Alek Manoah lasted 6.0 innings, allowing just one hit and striking out seven batters.

Toronto looks like a legitimate threat in the AL East, despite the Tampa Bay Rays starting off strong as well. The Yankees have themselves a real battle this season trying to fend off two up-and-coming teams with World Series aspirations.

Good news:

After three consecutive games with inconsistent starting pitching, the Yankees boasted a solid performance from Taillon, who lasted five innings and gave up just two runs. Taillon struck out six batters in the process, allowing a homer in the 3rd inning from George Springer.

Over the first four games of the season, Taillon’s performance might’ve been the best from a starting pitcher, which is extremely exciting given his injury issues last year. Offensively, the entire team went quiet, aside from Joey Gallo, who clearly heard the boo-birds and negative backlash from the first three games of the season.

Gallo tallied a single in the 2nd inning and single in the 9th to deep right field. The former Texas Ranger has just missed a few homers, but field manager Aaron Boone came to his defense, indicating he’s been getting bat to ball on more pitches this year compared to last.

Bad news:

Offensively, the Yankees were incredibly disappointing against Toronto. Lead-off hitter DJ LeMahieu struck out twice in an 0-for-4 day. The team recorded just four hits combined, an inexcusable performance after enjoying success against Boston.

After an impeccable spring, catcher Kyle Higashioka has struggled, hitting just. 091 on the season and failing to get on base against Toronto. However, he made solid contact on two of his at-bats, recording a fly-out to center and line-out to right field.

Overall, the pitching has been rather efficient for the Bombers aside from a few tough innings. Offensively, they can’t have games where they simply disappear.