Could the Giants’ 1st round draft strategy change after cutting S Logan Ryan?

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Nov 29, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; New York Giants free safety Logan Ryan (23) runs with the ball after recovering the forced fumble during the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants made the interesting decision to cut safety Logan Ryan on Thursday, despite the fact they would only be saving $775K and salary space. As reports were running rampant claiming different cap savings, the Giants ultimately made this decision due to a poor scheme fit after hiring Wink Martindale as their new defensive coordinator.

Ryan was is set to earn $12.2 million this upcoming season, so cutting him now saved the Giants a bit of cash but doesn’t impact the salary cap whatsoever (about $3M of his salary wasn’t guaranteed until March 19).

During his tenure with New York, Ryan played admirably under the leadership of Patrick Graham. After Xavier McKinney fractured his foot during training camp in his rookie season, the Giants signed Ryan late to a one-year deal. After he recorded 94 combined tackles, nine passes defended, and an interception, management decided to give him a three-year extension which was basically a two-year deal with an out after the second year.

Ryan only made it one year into his deal before new general manager Joe Schoen elected to move on and focus more on youth development. Ryan had a solid campaign in 2021, accruing 117 combined tackles, two forced fumbles, and three QB hits. Logan fits a heavy zone scheme perfectly, so an alternative club could view him as a nice piece to inject into their roster. However, the Giants are clearly thinking long-term and building around younger players, which made Ryan the odd man out.

The Giants could shift their draft strategy in the first round:

Some have suggested that this move could impact the Giants’ draft strategy since they have two first-round picks at their disposal. Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton stands out as a perfect replacement for Ryan, providing excellent free safety capabilities but unparalleled physicality moving up into the box from his position. While his 40-yard dash was nothing to write home about (4.59), you could say the same for McKinney, who struggled in that regard but showcased fantastic play speed.

NFL analyst Lance Zierlein compared Hamilton to Kam Chancellor, one of the best strong safeties in the history of the game. With incredible muscle mass and versatility in scheme alignment, he could be a unicorn in Martindale’s system, blitzing from the safety position are also dropping back into coverage to mark tight ends and receivers. With that type of flexibility, opposing offenses will always have to keep an eye on the star defensive back.

With the Giants having the 5th and 7th overall picks, they could view him as the best player available at one of those selections, easily replacing Ryan without skipping a beat. However, the team has plenty of other needs that need to be addressed, but we should expect new management to take a “best player available” approach — Hamilton could fit the bill.

Last season for the Fighting Irish, Hamilton recorded 34 tackles, three interceptions, and four passes defended over seven games. While his numbers don’t look like anything special, teams did their best to avoid him at all cost, given his range on the backside and physicality in the box. He has incredible instincts that allow him to track down runners and stop them before gaining significant yardage. He’s an incredibly high-effort player, something that Schoen and Brian Daboll will value.