The 2020 NFL Draft was a decently deep one and almost every team came out markedly better than they went in. The New York Giants are one of those teams.
Going into the draft, they needed to address several key positions and were surprisingly successful in filling those needs. General manager Dave Gettleman wanted to fix the offensive line and selected three lineman with three of his first five picks.
The Giants needed a left tackle and had their pick of the lot at No. 4 overall. The choice of Georgia’s Andrew Thomas was the safest bet on the board, having been equally effective blocking for the run as he was protecting the passer.
“He’s played against some real quality defensive ends during his college career,”said Gettleman. “He has played big time ball in front of a lot of people. We spent a lot of time with him off the field as well, numerous conversations. We spoke to him in Indianapolis and we just feel he is ready to make this jump.”
Thomas should, at the very least, be the team’s stater at right tackle as a rookie. But you don’t draft a tackle at No. 4 to play on the right side. The thinking here is they will move Nate Solder over to the right side to make room for Thomas.
In Round Two, the Giants were looking to trade out until they realized that all of the top safety prospects were on the board at No. 36 including their top target, Alabama’s Xavier McKinney.
“We had a first-round value on him, and we’re absolutely thrilled to get him,” said Gettleman. “He’s a great kid, he’s smart, he plays smart, he lines up the backend for us, he’s versatile, you can put him down low, he can cover tight ends, he’s got ball skills, and he’s a good tackler.”
The Giants’ depth chart at safety had Jabrill Peppers and Julian Love and there’s no way they were comfortable with that. Peppers missed the last month of the season with a fracture in his back and Love has just five NFL starts under his belt.
In Round Three, the Giants did not have their own pick (No. 68) having traded it to the Jets last October in the Leonard Wiliams deal. They did, however have a compensatory selection (No. 99) they were awarded for losing Landon Collins in free agency last March. They selected another tackle, UConn’s Matt Peart, a 6’7″ kid who is seen as a developmental prospect.
“It’s rare to describe someone as 315 pounds and skinny, but that’s what he is,” said head coach Joe Judge. “He’s an athletic guy, he has a lot of length to him. We feel good about his character and his work ethic. He’s excited to come on in here and work hard and we can’t wait to get him on the field.”
I like the pick but it’s hard to justify a rebuilding team using a third round pick on a project. The good part about this pick is that the Giants have Marc Columbo as their offensive line coach and Peart may get fast-tracked and contribute much sooner.
Round Four was a bit a a surprise but UCLA cornerback Darnay Holmes was considered the best nickel corner in the draft. He’s just 5’10” but the Giants don’t care. They like what he brings to the team.
“Darnay is definitely a guy that jumps out at you,” said Judge. “He’s got good speed, he’s got real good short area quickness. He’s contributed on the defensive side of the ball, he’s had impact in the kicking game. He plays with a good edge, shows some nasty. You can see he definitely plays bigger than his size.”
We’ve heard that last part before (see: Jayron Hosley) but this time it may be true. Holmes can play the slot corner, although it will be new to him, and contribute on teams. The new regime apparently did not like what they saw from Grant Haley and others in that role.
Round Five was a surprise as well. Oregon guard Shane Lemieux was the pick and the explanation cleared up why they selected him.
“Every really good club that I have been with, the offensive line has set the tone,” Gettleman said. “This is a tough kid who plays mad. He’s big, he’s powerful, he’s a pretty good athlete. We’re excited to add him to the mix.”
Gettleman then revealed that Lemieux had been working out at center, a position the Giants are attempting to upgrade at. Either way, if Lemieux can’t cut it at center, he’ll insurance when Kevin Zeitler’s contract runs out next year.
In Round Six, the Giants selected Penn State linebacker Cam Brown (6’5″, 230), a versatile player and leader they had an inside track on.
“Sean Spencer (defensive line coach) on the staff has spoken very highly of Cam since he got here,” said Judge. “He’s also a guy that when you talk to other guys on Penn State and you hit them with who the leader on the defense is, without hesitation they all said Cam Brown. That stuck out to us. He’s been an alpha dog in the locker room and that brings the attitude we really look for on the field.”
Brown is a solid young man with a lot of on-field experience. Not sure what his role will be with the Giants other than a situational and special teams player. Not the worst pick in the world. In this environment where teams can’t meet personally with the players, it’s better to have that inside track.
The seventh round brought more defense: three LBs – Minnesota’s Carter Coughlin, T.J. Brunson of South Carolina and Georgia’s Tae Crowder – and a cornerback, Chris Williamson of Minnesota.
“I think it says a lot more about how our defensive scheme fits together,” Judge said of the linebacker picks. “That we are going to play with a lot of linebackers throughout the game. You build your defense to build two thirds of your team, that’s really your defense and your kicking game for covering kicks. These guys have a lot of impact across the board right there.”
Overall, I give this draft a B+. The only thing I thought they could have done was get themselves a big target for the passing game. This draft had a ton of big wideouts and Gettleman passed on them all. Other than that, they’ve shored up many of their weakest units.