NFL: The NFL Draft through the eyes of a New York Yankee writer

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The NFL Virtual 2020 draft has taken place and this New York Yankees writer is not going to try to evaluate the picks or anything like that, I will leave that to those sportswriters that know much more about those draft picks than I do.  What I do want to tackle is what the draft means to the sports world, MLB, and the New York Yankees.

On the CBS news, this morning NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell explained the first-ever National Football League virtual draft and what it means to sports fans around the world.  He said it gives hope and inspires.  And that it does, instead of draft pics being introduced at a podium America got to see the picks get the news sitting next to their family in their homes.  It was a totally different more personal twist to the annual event. The NFL also implemented a “Draft-A-Thon” fundraiser to support charities that benefit healthcare workers and first responders.

This country going through one of the most difficult times in most citizens’ memory due to the COVID-19 coronavirus and need a little hope and inspiration to get through this never before seen national tragedy.  The NLF virtual draft did just that.  Inspired many and gave hope of a return to some normalcy.  In a country of people restricted to their homes that may be suffering some degree loneliness and depression resulting from the environmental times, sports, whether it be the NLF’s New York Giants, MLBs New York Yankee, or other games, will surely give some relief.

MLB may take a lesson from the NFL in its baseball draft that has been pushed back for June until July or later.  Whether it be baseball or football we are not sure what the sports season will look like but we are all eagerly awaiting it.  It appears the virus will not affect the starting time for football, and they may be able to have a complete season.  For MLB that is already decided as it looks like the baseball season will be completed playing about half of the normal games and later into the season.

Although there may be more questions and fewer answers as it comes to all sports this year, one thing is for sure;  American needs its sports to feel hope and start its way to healing.

NFL Draft Day Rumors: Giants on the Move?

Its draft day in the NFL and the rumors are flying. Many pundits are bracing themselves for what could be a Wild West show on Thursday night. Many of the teams at the top of the draft are willing to deal and there are some in the middle of the order who are plotting to move up.

The Washington Redskins, holders of the second overall selection on Thursday night have hinted they would move the pick for the right price. They are also shopping veteran left tackle Trent Williams.

The Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins are rumored to be swapping picks with Miami leapfrogging the Giants to go from No. 5 to No. 3.

Miami will likely take a quarterback (Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert of Oregon) but may be making the trade because they fear the Giants will take Iowa OT Tristan Wirfs at No. 4. Detroit is high on several defensive studs and will likely still have their choice of Ohio State CB Jeff Okudah, DT Derrick Brown of Auburn or Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons.

The Giants might be seeking to move back as well. Veteran NFL reporter Jason LaCanfora has been hearing Big Blue could be making a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jacksonville has the 9th and 20th selections in the first round and disgruntled defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who the team slapped the franchise tag on last month and has publicly asked to be traded.

The Giants could conceivably swap first rounders with Jacksonville and obtain the rights to Ngakoue for the No. 4 pick. That would put the Jaguars in position to grab either Tua or Herbert and also be rid of Ngakoue’s $17.788 million salary.

The Giants, if the first rounder is No. 9, will be right in heart of the OT run that is expected to happen early on in the draft. They will pick right in front of Cleveland and the Jets at 10 and 11. Both teams are in the market for tackles.

If the first rounder is No. 20, they will have a choice of two very highly-regarded linebackers in LSU’s Patrick Queen and Kenneth Murray of Oklahoma in addition to Ngakoue.

Of course there could be other components to these deals but this works for both teams. The Jags get their franchise QB and the Giants get their pass rusher and ball tracker.

If Jacksonville is not the suitor, the Giants could consider swinging a deal with Atlanta, who is trying to move up from No. 16 for one of the top defensive studs at the top the order.

The Chances Are Slim, But Chase Young To The New York Giants is Still a Possibility

New York Giants, Chase Young

The 2020 NFL Draft is only one day away. The New York Giants hold the fourth overall pick this year. This will be their third year in a row picking inside the top-ten. Last year, pretty much everyone was in agreement that the Giants needed to draft a quarterback in the first round. The question was which one? Ultimately, the Gmen shocked the world and selected Daniel Jones sixth overall- a selection that was widely criticized at the time but now appears to have been the right choice.

A similar debate surrounds the Giants once again this year. Should they draft an offensive tackle or a defensive playmaker? But if circumstances were just slightly different there would be no debate at all. Had the Giants lost their second regular-season matchup with the Redskins this year, they would be picking second overall and everyone would be in agreement that Chase Young should be the selection.

Chase Young is the dream selection for the Giants. They desperately need a playmaker on defense and even more desperately need an impact pass-rusher. Young would fill both of those roles. Having the fourth overall pick, rather than the second overall pick, takes the Giants out of the Race to Chase. Or does it?

Will The Redskins Pass On Chase Young?

Nearly every mock draft without trades that you read will feature Chase Young going second overall to the Washington Redskins. He is the best player available outside of the quarterback position and would work wonders for Washington’s defense. But recent trade rumors seem to indicate that Young to the Redskins might not be a done deal.

According to reports, the Redskins are fielding inquiries from teams looking to trade up to the second overall pick. One report suggests that a team has “laid out a complete deal” for number two overall. If the Redskins were to accept one of these trade offers, what would happen with Chase Young?

Why Chase Young Could Get Past The Lions

The Detroit Lions hold the third overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. They are expected to invest it on a top-defensive talent like Derrick Brown or Jeffrey Okudah. But what if Chase Young is on the board? There is a good chance he would be the pick. But not if someone else is picking third overall.

It is a known fact that the Lions are looking to trade down from third overall. They have been in talks with the Dolphins and other teams. The Dolphins are reportedly interested in trading up for an offensive tackle, but they could be secretly targeting a quarterback.

How Chase Young Falls To Fourth Overall:

Joe Burrow will be the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to the Cincinnati Bengals. But there are no locks after that. There are, however, two other quarterbacks that are locks for the first-round and, at one point or another, were locks to be top-five picks. Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa have both been mocked as high as second overall and as low as outside the top-ten. But, as we all know, competition can create price inflation.

If a team does in fact trade up to the second-overall pick and draft a quarterback, the same could happen to the third overall pick. Quarterbacks could be selected first, second, and third overall, leaving Chase Young to fall to the Giants’ fourth overall selection. This is the scenario that all Giants fans will be hoping and praying for.

New York Giants: Center Is The Most Valuable Pick In The Second Round

New York Giants, Cesar Ruiz

The New York Giants are heading into another crucial NFL Draft. Set to take place Thursday night, this year’s draft features a plethora of talent on both sides of the ball that could instantly improve the Giants’ roster. New York will be picking fourth and thirty-sixth overall in the first two rounds of this year’s draft.

The debate at fourth overall has largely been between drafting Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons or one of the class’s top-ranked offensive tackles. But what should the Giants do in the second round? The thirty-sixth pick holds plenty of value, too. And the Giants could potentially grab a starting-caliber player there as well. So, based on positions of need and positional value, who should the Giants be targeting at thirty-sixth overall?

The Biggest Position of Need

The Giants desperately need to upgrade the center position. The thirty-sixth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft is the perfect place to do that. New York can spend their first-round pick on an offensive tackle, as they are widely expected to, then solidify their line with a center in round two.

Jon Halapio is coming off of an injury and Spencer Pulley has spent most of the last two seasons as a backup. Dave Gettleman and the Giants know they need to upgrade the offensive line and that includes the center position along with offensive tackle.

Enticing Second-Round Prospects

There are a few center prospects that the Giants could target in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. The top target of them all would be Michigan center, Cesar Ruiz.

Cesar Ruiz is a projected late first-round pick, but some predict he could slip into the second round. If the New York Giants could land Ruiz a thirty-six overall, he would be a home-run selection.

Another name that has been brought up in speculation with the Giants is Matt Hennessy. The Giants have met with Hennessy and shown interest in drafting him in the second round. The Temple center prospect grew up a lifelong Giants fan and would be a perfect fit with the Gmen.

Either one of these prospects would likely start for the Giants in Week One of the 2020 NFL season. Protecting Daniel Jones and creating running lanes for Saquon Barkley will be the Giants’ keys to success in 2020 and beyond. Shoring up the offensive line is the perfect way to accomplish this. The New York Giants should look to go offensive tackle in the first round and center in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

2020 NFL Draft: 6 Hybrid Players That Could Help the Giants

There’s nothing that intrigues football fans more than versatile players who can line up at several positions. The 2020 NFL Draft has their share of these type of players and here are six that I can see helping the Giants round out their sagging roster.

Isaiah Simmons, LB/DB, Clemson

At 6’4″ and 238 pounds, Simmons ran a sub-4.4 40 at the NFL Combine. He describes his best position as “defense” and no one can really argue that point. He lines up all over the field and simply flies to the football. Whichever team drafts him will have to harness both his kinetic and potential energy and put him in more strategic positions in order to make the plays he made at the collegiate level. If the Giants want him, they’ll have to take him at No. 4, that is unless they flip picks with Miami or the Chargers at 5 or 6. He’ll be gone after that.

Chase Claypool WR/TE Notre Dame

Claypool is a wide receiver but he’s 6’4″ and weighs close to 240 pounds. Initially, teams may try to force him into a tight end role. His 4.42 speed will likely make him a wideout though and he will create mismatches with his size/speed combo. He is third round material because scouts are leery of his route-running and inability to separate. None of that may matter. He can get by just fine on his other traits.

Antonio Gibson, RB/KR/WR, Memphis

Gibson was a one year wonder at Memphis and his tape is eye-popping. No matter where they lined him up, he excelled. He has 4.39 speed at 6’2″, 220 and can make tacklers miss or run them over. He has home run ability on both offense and special teams. He’s a player that some teams might struggle to find a role for but in the right hands he could be dynamite.

Khaleke Hudson, LB, Michigan

If there was anyone born to play this game its Hudson. Wind him up and watch him go. He’s not ideally sized to play linebacker in the NFL (5’11”, 224) but try and tell the players who’ve faced him that. This kid is a rock who can fly to the football. Some team is going to draft him and laugh all the way to the bank. I hope that’s the Giants and they use him the way they used Landon Collins in the box. He takes great angles, is built like a brick outhouse and hits a ton. Always in the backfield and around the football.

Carter Coughlin, OLB, Minnesota

Another kid who just loves to play football. He isn’t as big (6’3″, 236) some teams like as an edge rusher but he’s fast (4.57 40 at the Combine) and manages to make plays in both the run and pass games. He’s difficult to block because of his great anticipation. There’s something to be said about high football acumen and Coughlin (gotta like the name, too) has it. He was recruited by Urban Meyer at Ohio State but chose to stay closer to home. Otherwise, he might be a Day 2 pick instead of a Day 3 or UDFA.

Tanner Muse, S, Clemson 

Another kid with great football acumen. At 6’2″, 227, Muse ran a 4.41 40 at the Combine but is not highly regarded as an NFL safety prospect. Mock drafters predict he’ll be a late Day 3 pick. I hope he is and Giants snag him with one of their four seventh round picks. He has a knack for creating turnovers and the physical nature of his game makes him a perfect fit in packages and on special teams.

 

 

 

New York Giants: Arguments For And Against Drafting Isaiah Simmons

The 2020 NFL Draft is days away. The New York Giants hold the fourth overall pick, their third straight season picking inside the top-ten. General Manager Dave Gettleman is heading into his third draft as GM of the Giants and needs to put together a strong class in order to keep his job.

Holding a top-pick again, the Giants are in the position to add a franchise player this year. There are plenty of top-tier prospects that will be available to fill big positions of need. But which position should they fill? Should they take the best player available (likely Isaiah Simmons) or address the offensive tackle position? Simmons has been the fan-favorite selection for most of the pre-draft process. However, it might be time for fans to consider jumping off of the Simmons hype train and look into this year’s offensive tackle class.

Arguments For:

When Will It Be Time To Invest In The Defense?

In the last eight NFL Drafts, seven of the Giants’ first picks have been spent on the offense. The Giants’ defense only accounts for 35.85% of the team’s salary cap, ranking 30th in the NFL (via Spotrac). New York has barely invested in their defense and it shows with the team’s recent on-field performances.

Meanwhile, the Giants’ offense accounts for 49.48% of the team’s salary cap. More specifically, 22.13% of the team’s salary is spent on the offensive line. Dave Gettleman and company have made it a point to upgrade the offensive line and they have invested into it plenty. But offensive tackle is still one of the weakest positions on the team- and one of the most crucial. Maybe they should continue investing.

A Defensive Playmaker or An Offensive Tackle?

Which position of need is more important? An offensive tackle or a defensive playmaker? If the question were “Chase Young or a tackle?”, everyone would be in agreement that Chase Young is the right choice. But that’s not the debate.

The debate is between uber-versatile linebacker Isaiah Simmons and any of the top offensive tackle prospects. Which of the two options should the New York Giants spend their first-round draft pick on? The Giants do not necessarily have a hole at linebacker (after signing Blake Martinez and re-signing David Mayo), but really on the defense as a whole.

Teams can win games with a bad offensive line (see Seattle Seahawks). But it is nearly impossible to have a winning season with the defense the Giants currently have constructed. The Giants’ best players on defense are recently free agents James Bradberry and Blake Martinez- and they were brought in to replace Alec Ogletree and Janoris Jenkins.

They are upgrades, but the defense did not improve drastically this offseason and likely won’t unless they select Isaiah Simmons at fourth overall. He is a linebacker with the ability to man up on tight ends and excel in coverage.

Isaiah Simmons played over 100 snaps at five different positions in the 2019 CFB season. According to Pro Football Focus, Simmons played 100 snaps at strong safety, 116 snaps at outside linebacker, 132 snaps at free safety, 262 snaps at slot cornerback, and 299 snaps at inside linebacker.

If the Giants are looking to instantly upgrade their defense, look no further than Isaiah Simmons. He will fill the coverage role while Blake Martinez and David Mayo stuff the run. The defense would function at a much higher-level as early as this season. But the draft is not always about instant-upgrades. Sometimes teams need to plan for the future and play the long game. Investing in an offensive tackle would be the long-term solution rather than the instant-upgrade.

Arguments Against:

Talent At The Top Of The OT Class Is Loaded.

The top offensive tackles in this draft class are immensely talented. Draft analysts and experts have struggled to rank the top four tackles. Some have Mekhi Becton as high as the first-ranked tackle, others have him as the sixth-ranked tackle. There are many who believe Jedrick Wills is the best in the class while many others believe Wirfs or Thomas is the best in the class.

Regardless of where each expert has them ranked, they are all consensus first-round talents. The Giants would be finding an instant-starter (and a long-term starter) on the offensive line if they took one of those prospects at fourth overall.

Significant Drop-Off In OT Talent After The First Tier.

Those top offensive tackle prospects are great. Wirfs, Wills, Thomas, and Becton all have legitimate All-Pro potential. But after that, this offensive tackle class has a significant drop off in talent.

Second-round prospects, like Isaiah Wilson and Austin Jackson, are- simply-put- projects. They are not pro-ready. They lack technique but do possess ideal, large, strong bodies. NFL coaching might be able to turn them into capable starters but there is no guarantee. Fortunately, they are young and have room to grow, however, the Giants need an answer at offensive tackle sooner than later.

Chase Young Falls to New York Giants in Latest PFF Mock Draft

New York Giants, Chase Young

Chase Young a New York Giant? Sounds good, right? It probably won’t happen, but in Pro Football Focus’ latest mock draft, that is exactly what they predict happening this Thursday night at the 2020 NFL Draft.

PFF analyst Steve Palazzolo sees the Ohio State EDGE rusher dropping to the fourth overall slot and into the waiting arms of Giants’ general manager Dave Gettleman.

So, what happened at the top of the draft order to shake Young loose? Palazzolo sees the Cincinnati Bengals staying the course and drafting LSU QB Joe Burrow with the top pick but predicts the Washington Redskins, under new personnel director Kyle Smith and head coach Ron Rivera, will trade out of the second spot where many had cemented in for months in mock drafts.

In this scenario, the Miami Dolphins move up from the fifth spot and throw in the 18th and 39th overall selection to take Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa.

At No. 3, the Detroit Lions bypass Young for his college teammate, cornerback Jeff Okudah. Both players are fantastic prospects so it’s very possible. This is a bit sketchy as the Lions are rumored to be open for business with this pick. I can see a team trading up to grab Young or Oregon QB Justin Herbert here, but every team has their own board and Okudah makes sense since the Lions traded Darius Slay to the Eagles this offseason.

The Giants jump all over Young at No. 4 and Giant Nation goes berserk.

“The Giants need playmakers all over the defensive side of the ball, so they’re happy to take Young, whose 96.1 overall grade last season is the highest we’ve seen since college grading started in 2014. Young wins with athleticism and technique, a combination that translates well to the next level. He had a ridiculous 56 pressures (18 sacks, seven quarterback hits, 31 hurries) on just 320 rushes last season.”

I know we shouldn’t get the Giant fans hopes up too high with this stuff but I’ve been covering the draft for 20 years and stranger things have happened.

New York Giants: 2020 Will Not Be Dave Gettleman’s First Virtual Draft

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

The 2020 NFL Draft will kick off this Thursday, April 23rd. The world pandemic coronavirus has halted the sports world and greatly altered the format of the NFL Draft. This year’s draft will be like no other, taking place in a completely virtual format with NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell announcing the picks via a webcam in his basement.

This is a new, challenging experience for the thirty-two NFL teams. The traditional draft format has become the routine standard for the league. Changes to this standard have created uncertainty and anxiety around this year’s draft with teams fearful of online hacks and technological miscues. But the New York Giants seem to be at an advantage this year.

Dave Gettleman’s Virtual Draft Experience

In his previous stint as general manager of the Carolina Panthers, Dave Gettleman conducted a draft via the web once. Now, with the Giants, he will do it again.

At the time of the 2014 NFL Draft, Dave Gettleman was a proud father witnessing his son’s college graduation. For this reason, he opted to draft remotely. Gettleman conducted Carolina’s 2014 draft via Skype. This is similar to how the Giants will handle the 2020 NFL Draft, likely through Zoom or Skype, and with all front office members separated from each other in their respective homes.

According to ESPN, Gettleman “flawlessly” ran the draft remotely. The 2014 report states that he “helped make the team’s final three picks from a hotel room in Massachusetts.” He even made a draft-day trade from his hotel room. Maybe the surfacing of this report will put to rest the internet’s jokes about the Giants’ GM being too old and out of touch for the draft’s virtual format.

“It works. They got to see my handsome face and I got to see theirs. The process was really the same. It really was.” – Dave Gettleman on conducting a draft remotely through Skype, via ESPN.

The virtual aspect of the 2020 NFL Draft should not waiver fan’s confidence in Gettleman and the Giants. He has strung together two impressive draft classes in a row for the Giants. These last two draft classes should instill fans with all the confidence they need heading into this week’s crucial draft where Gettleman will once again be making picks from a remote location.

2020 NFL Draft: Notre Dame WR Should Be High on Giants’ List

New York Giants, Chase Claypool

Do the New York Giants need to draft a wide receiver in this week’s NFL Draft?

The short answer is yes. Sterling Shepard had not one, but two concussions in 2019. Golden Tate is 32 years old and Darius Slayton, a breakout player as a rookie last season, is bound to draw more attention from defenses this year.

The upcoming draft class is chock full of wide receivers. The Giants aren’t likely to take one with their first two selections, but in Round 3, they could find themselves in prime position to land an impact offensive weapon.

One of those players could be (and in my estimation should be) a tall, quick wideout to compliment the smallish group they now have on the roster.

Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool is 6-foot-4 and weighs nearly 240 pounds. He’s the same size as Evan Engram, who is a tight end. His 4.42 40 time and his 40.5-inch vertical leap gives him a rare size/speed combination that can create mismatches in the secondary. Think back to the days when the Giants had Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey on the field together.

Just imagine the Giants’ offense with another big threat in the passing game. Claypool and Engram combined with Saquon Barkley, Tate, Shepard and Slayton would be all quarterback Daniel Jones needs to take off. That is, providing they get him a left tackle and a center, which is what the first two draft picks should be used on.

 

One simple philosophy for the New York Jets to follow come draft week

New York Jets

As draft week looms, the New York Jets have their options laid out for them with the 11th overall pick. With needs at multiple positions and finishing with a .500 record or below for the eighth time in the last nine years, the Jets need to restore the same juice that took them to the AFC championship game almost a decade ago.

GM Joe Douglas and Adam Gase have a lot to consider to figure out what is best for the team on April 23rd. So what exactly is that? One simple philosophy that the Jets, and quite frankly all NFL teams should try to keep in mind is the key to effective drafting, but it is also the age-old question:

Draft for need, or draft the best player available?

It is the timeless question that general managers and head coaches have been struggling with for ages. But what is the right answer? In summary, it is subjective to the team and their situation.

Perfect example: In 2018, the Giants selected Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick. Barkley was the highest-graded running back coming out of college football since Adrian Peterson, eventually went on to win offensive rookie of the year, and was the consensus most talented player in the entire draft class. While this is pick is considered by many to be the right move, the Giants very clearly had other positions that needed to be addressed. Eli Manning was in the twilight of his career, the offensive line was one of the bottom units in the league, and in a draft class with Quenton Nelson and Sam Darnold, they elected to go with the sensational Penn State running back.

The New York Jets face a similar issue this year. Their needs range from cornerback, receiver, to the offensive line. The two things that are most important to the team are giving Sam Darnold weapons to use, and to protect him as well. Getting C.J. Mosley back on the defensive side solves a big issue, and if they ever manage to pay Jamal Adams, the defense has much fewer holes to fill than the offense.

It is unknown who will be the best player available by the 11th pick, but the Jets need to address their needs responsibly and effectively. It is time for the team to get back on track, and it all starts with one pick.