The New York Giants are one of the NFL’s most disappointing teams this season. They sit at 2-7 heading into a winnable matchup against the New York Jets this Sunday. The Giants are a rebuilding team, though. They have young players starting all over the roster.
The Giants’ 2019 draft class has seen a ton of playing time so far. Dave Gettleman was criticized highly over a few picks after the draft, particularly a couple in the first round. But most of Gettleman’s picks have been solid performers so far this season.
The Giants have started seven of their ten draft picks at some point this season. Some have played better than others, but some have come as a complete shock and played well above expectations. Let’s take a look at how each rookie has played so far this season and rank them based on their performance so far:
1. Dexter Lawrence II
The Giants’ second pick in the 2019 NFL Draft has been their best performer so far. New York selected Dexter Lawrence with the 17th overall pick and received much criticism for taking a defensive tackle with that pick. But so far, Lawrence has been one of the best rookies in the NFL this season.
Dexter has posted 24 combined tackles, 3 sacks, and 5 quarterback hits through nine games. He has been making his presence felt in both the run and pass game. In fact, Pro Football Focus has raved about Dexter’s work in run-defense.
Dexter Lawrence has earned an 86.9 run-defense from PFF grade, ranking seventh at his position. PFF also points out that Lawrence has missed a tackle on just 4% of his tackling attempts. Dexter Lawrence is grading out as one of the top players in the entire NFL at his position. The rookie has been the Giants’ most impressive draft pick so far this season.
2. Daniel Jones
The 6th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft was one of the most controversial draft selections in the last decade. The Giants decided to take Duke quarterback Daniel Jones and absolutely stunned the world. Dave Gettleman received a lot of criticism for this move, but so far, he has seemed like a mad genius.
Daniel Jones has silenced most of his haters this season. He took over as the starter in week three and instantly elevated the Giants’ offense. So far, Jones has thrown for 1,676 yards and 11 touchdowns with 8 interceptions. The turnovers (especially the 10 fumbles) are a problem, but Jones has made enough positive plays to outweigh the negatives and flash potential as a franchise quarterback.
3. Ryan Connelly
The New York Giants’ fifth-round draft pick, Ryan Connelly, looked to be a draft-day steal earlier this season. Unfortunately, in week four, Connelly went down with a knee injury. It was later revealed that Connelly had torn his ACL and would miss the remainder of the season.
But Connelly was playing at a high level before his injury. He had a combined total of 20 tackles in three and a half games. He also added 2 interceptions and 3 passes defended in that span. Ryan Connelly will need to be healthy for the Giants next season and take over as the team’s starting inside linebacker.
Janoris Jenkins had himself a game yesterday. 4 tackles, 2 INTs, 3 passes defended, and he also associated in getting Ryan Connelly one. Got his arm in there at the perfect time which batted the ball in the air which led to Connelly getting his 2nd INT, but last of the season. pic.twitter.com/FFJAarJ1mz
— Danny King (@DannyKingNFL) October 1, 2019
4. Darius Slayton
The Giants have received a solid amount of production out of their fifth-round receiver Darius Slayton. The speedster out of Auburn has developed a strong connection with rookie quarterback Daniel Jones this season.
Slayton has played in 7 games this season and caught 17 passes for 273 yards and 3 touchdowns. Slayton has been running routes vertical and downfield. He could be the Giants’ next big-play receiver. Darius showed his high potential in the Giants’ week eight game against Detroit where he caught two contested touchdown receptions and totaled 50 yards on the day.
5. Oshane Ximines
Oshane Ximines was the first player ever to be drafted out of Old Dominion. The Giants selected Oshane at the end of the third round and they have already seen the rookie make an impact as a rotational pass-rusher. Ximines has 16 combined tackles so far this season with 2 sacks, 4 quarterback hits, and 3 tackles for loss.
It is encouraging to see a mid-round edge rusher having productivity this early in his career. The Giants should be able to use Oshane Ximines as a rotational pass-rusher for a while, but maybe he could even develop into a full-time starter.
6. Corey Ballentine
The Giants drafted Corey Ballentine out of Washburn in the sixth round of the draft. He was impressive during the preseason but has not seen a lot of playing time on defense in the regular season. However, Ballentine has been serving as the Giants’ kick returner this season.
In the first six games of the season, Corey Ballentine served as the Giants’ primary kick returner. Ballentine returned nine kickoffs for 237 yards, an average of 26.3 yards per return, including an impressive season-long return of 52 yards.
While the starting kick returner position is not the most valuable, Ballentine is still being productive and has the chance to take a step forward in the future with some promising potential at cornerback.
7. DeAndre Baker
DeAndre Baker has definitely been the most disappointing rookie for the Giants this season. New York traded up to draft the cornerback at the end of the first round. It was considered a great pick on draft night, but so far, Baker has not come close to living up to that first-round price tag.
Through nine weeks, DeAndre Baker has earned an atrocious 37.3 overall Pro Football Focus grade. This ranks 114th out of 115 cornerbacks. Baker has allowed 100 yards in coverage four times this season and has also given up 7 touchdowns. It has been a really tough start to the rookie’s career, but hopefully, Baker can bounce back and develop into a capable starting cornerback by the end of the season or next.