New York Giants: Xavier McKinney high on Alabama teammates as prospects

New York Giants, Devonta Smith

There’s a connection between the New York Giants to Alabama through head coach Joe Judge and multiple players, and it might grow further with this coming draft. That’s because there’s a number of players from the national champion Crimson Tide that might end up as Giants.

That includes a pair of receivers as well as another player in the secondary that could join ex-Alabama and current Giants safety Xavier McKinney once again.

The big name being thrown around in connection with the Giants is Devonta Smith. The wide receiver won the Heisman this season and, while he left the field injured, had three touchdowns in the National Championship. Smith has been mocked to the Giants before, but it’s debatable whether he’ll fall enough for the Giants to take him at number eleven.

Another name at receiver to memorize is Jaylen Waddle. The receiver is another member of the Alabama offense and while he missed time with injury and only played in 6 games for his junior season, he still registered 591 yards and 4 touchdowns. This class of receivers has been called a deep one. If the Giants don’t get Smith, it’s possible they end up with a player like Waddle.

As a former college teammate of both, McKinney is confident about their prospects in the league.

What did McKinney have to say?

“They’re talented as everybody can see. Those are guys that work hard. They do what they need to do for the team to be able to help the team win. That’s what I like a lot about those two guys just being out there playing with them. When we played those harder games, they always showed up to play,” McKinney said of the two Alabama receivers headed to the draft. “Like I said, they’re talented guys and I can’t wait to see how things go on the next level for them.”

The Giants have a need at the position after Sterling Shepard hasn’t been enough as their sole number one receiver and Darius Slayton hasn’t stepped up to the plate either. In fact, Slayton somewhat regressed since his first year.

He did have slightly more yards, but only 3 touchdowns compared to 8. He was targeted more but the ball didn’t get to him more than it did last season, with only two more receptions compared to 2019. And with Slayton having more of a role in the offense and starting more games compared to 2019, those stats don’t look good on him.

Few believed at first that Devonta Smith will be available at the time the Giants pick. However, his injury in the national championship may change that. If other teams are more wary, the Giants might be able to fill their need for less than Smith’s true value.

A player in the secondary for the Giants

Another player from Alabama that might be on the radar for the Giants is Patrick Surtain. Surtain is on the defensive side of the ball rather than the offense, specifically playing the cornerback position. Like many players to come out of Alabama, he has a reputation for discipline and holds the accomplishment of not allowing more than 60 yards in coverage in a single game last season.

The Giants have one high level cornerback in James Bradberry, but the secondary would receive a big boost from having another one playing on the other side of him. That player could be Surtain, who is predicted to be one of the first corners off the board.

“That’s another one of those guys where he comes to work every day, he prepares how he should and he’s another talented corner,” McKinney said about his former teammate in the secondary. “It’s a guy that I love to play with when we were at ‘Bama. I thought he did a lot of things well. He’s a really talented corner. He’s one of the best technicianists that I’ve gotten to actually witness at corner. That’s my guy.”

Of course, some Giants fans might be nervous about drafting a cornerback in the first round given the team’s track record. The Giants will have some regrets at the position from taking Eli Apple and DeAndre Baker in the first round and having both those players off the team within a relatively short time span. In the case of Baker, he was only on the team for one year before the Giants moved on from him.

But with this prospect coming out of Alabama, a team known for it Patriots-like system and discipline, it seems less likely the Giants will find such problems with Surtain. After all, we’ve seen the products of that system work out for the Giants so far. When McKinney, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Joe Judge can all trace roots back to there, it must be doing something right.

New York Giants: 3 wide receivers to keep an eye on during the National Championship

New York Giants, Devonta Smith

The Alabama Crimson Tide and Ohio State Buckeyes are playing on Monday night in the National Championship Game. This is the last time NFL teams will see these players play in a live game before they go through the NFL Draft process. The New York Giants need a No.1 wideout to be paired up with Daniel Jones. All Giants players and fan’s eyes will be glued to the T.V., watching hopefully one of their future playmakers on the outside.

Here are three WRs, the New York Giants could be interested in:

DeVonta Smith, Alabama

DeVonta Smith is arguably the best wideout in college football and will easily be the best wideout you see on Monday. Most draft analysts expect Smith to be off the board when the Giants pick, but what happens if Smith falls or if the New York Giants trade up?

The 6-foot-1 wideout out of Alabama has incredible hands but would need to bulk up some at the NFL level. He needs to balance his height with the cornerback’s strength to get off press coverage. Besides Smith’s weight, Smith is a perfect prospect. Smith excels at creating separation, which the Giants need the most on offense. Smith is also a fantastic route runner with perfect footwork.

This is the player that all Giants fans would be thrilled to get in April.

Jaylen Waddle, Alabama

Jaylen Waddle is a name you might not have heard of, but he is in that DeVonta Smith tier of wide receiver. Waddle has been hurt for most of the season, which is why you have not heard his name much.

Waddle is not a big body receiver (5-foot-10), which the New York Giants are looking for, but he is lightning fast. The Giants lack separation on the outside, Waddle best attribute is his speed. Waddle can stretch the field or catch one short and take it to the house. Defense’s have to be aware of Waddle at all times; he reminds me a lot of Odell Beckham Jr.

Waddle is expected to be drafted in the top 15 in April, maybe to the New York Giants.

Chris Olave, Ohio State

Alabama has been breeding wide receiver talent, but Ohio State has a receiver that can find his way in the first round.

After Ja’Marr Chase, Waddle, and Smith, there is a drop off of wideout talent, but Olave is in that next tier. The Giants could trade down in the draft and get Olave later, but should they?

Olave is 6-foot-1, 187 pounds, the perfect size for an outside receiver. The biggest issue with Olave is his route running, which the Giants’ biggest need is for the wideouts to get separation. Olave has the speed, strength, and athleticism to get a consistent receiver at the next level in the NFL.

Olave is expected to go in the late first round or top of the second round.

Should the New York Giants prioritize acquiring a slot or outside receiver?

New York Giants, Chris Godwin

The New York Giants confirmed that they will be looking for offensive playmakers this offseason. Daniel Jones needs help. But where will the help come from? Will the Giants sign a wide receiver in free agency or draft someone early on in the 2021 NFL Draft?

More specifically, what kind of receiver will the Giants target? It is a rich free agency class and an arguably richer draft class. But many of the top prospects in each class are slot receivers. Most fans assume New York will go after an outside wide receiver because the roster already includes Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate.

However, Tate is a potential cut candidate, and the inclusion of Sterling Shepard should not prevent the Giants from signing an outside wide receiver. Shepard has been primarily an outside receiver the past two seasons.

In 2020, Shep played 190 snaps in the slot compared to 356 snaps out wide. In the slot, Sterling recorded 20 receptions for 148 yards and one touchdown (only 7.4 yards per reception). Out wide, Shepard totaled 46 receptions for 508 yards and three touchdowns (11.04 yards per reception). Given Sterling Shepard’s efficiency lined up outside, should the Giants consider acquiring an elite slot receiver this offseason? Or should they move Shepard inside and get an elite outside receiver?

Slot or outside wide receiver?

Sterling Shepard was far more efficient while playing outside in 2020. Darius Slayton was inconsistent this season but typically plays on the outside. New York had a rotation in the slot that included Golden Tate, Austin Mack, CJ Board, and Sterling Shepard. Going forward, the Giants will have to reconfigure their wide receiver corps as they look to acquire more talent at the position.

Some of the top free-agent wide receivers this offseason are Allen Robinson, Kenny Golladay, Chris Godwin, and Curtis Samuel. Golladay and Robinson are outside wide receivers but Godwin and Samuel are primarily slot receivers. The first pair of receivers will likely cost more money than the second pair, which could make the Giants more attracted to one of those top slot receivers.

Furthermore, in the draft, there is a debate between two of the top receiver prospects. Jaylen Waddle and Devonta Smith, both Alabama products, will be first-round wide receivers in 2021. The Giants are likely to target a wide receiver, but if they go wide receiver in the first round, which one of the two Alabama boys will they prefer?

Whichever player they believe to be better, regardless of whether or not they play inside or outside, is who they should prefer. Smith played primarily outside in college. Waddle operating primarily from the slot. This has fans assuming that the Giants will target Smith and cross Waddle off their list. That is not and should not be the case.

If the Giants believe Waddle is the better player then they should absolutely target him. The Giants need an elite, number one wide receiver. Why must that receiver play outside? It is entirely possible to have your primary receiver play in the slot. Sterling Shepard is efficient at playing outside. When we interviewed his trainer David Robinson on Fireside Giants, Robinson indicated that Shepard is better and more comfortable playing outside.

If the Giants have the opportunity to acquire the likes of Jaylen Waddle or Chris Godwin, they should not shy away from these elite talents just because they are slot receivers. Having your primary receiver play on the outside is not a necessity. The Giants have the personnel to acquire a guy inside or outside. Sterling Shepard could move inside if he has to, but he just might be better off outside.

New York Giants go for Heisman winner in CBS 2021 mock draft

New York Giants

The end of the season for the New York Giants didn’t benefit them when it comes to draft position. The team won their final game but thanks to the result in Philadelphia versus Washington, they didn’t make it into the playoffs. With this combination of events, the Giants missed out on a playoff game and fell in draft position at the same time, and they’re now set to pick at number eleven overall.

However, that doesn’t mean the Giants can’t still snag a big impact player at this position. And while they won’t have the first pick from the best prospects at the position, they may be able to fix their need for a major player at wide receiver by taking this year’s Heisman winner. That’s the outcome predicted by CBS Sports in their latest mock draft.

New York graciously welcomes the Heisman Trophy winner and one of the most productive wide receivers that college football has ever seen. Devonta Smith is a polished performer and, by all accounts, a grounded young man that should pay immediate dividends for Joe Judge.

The Giants are mocked as taking Devonta Smith with the 11th pick, following his campaign that saw him crowned the top college football player in the country. While his draft profile isn’t as strong as LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase, Smith has still consistently been an impact player for Alabama who has made iconic plays in multiple years and most notably caught the national championship winning pass against Georgia.

There is, of course, a connection between Alabama and the Giants. Head coach Joe Judge is familiar with the way that Alabama does things, having coached there under Nick Saban. Judge will likely have a lot of say in who the Giants draft, and there’s a chance he might approve of drafting Smith. After all, Judge is familiar with exactly what the Giants are getting if they pick someone from Nick Saban’s system.

With 1,641 yards and 20 touchdowns this season, and an appearance in the national championship game coming up, Smith’s college numbers show that he’s ready to make an instant impact in the NFL. And with the Giants needing to turn the corner soon, such a receiver could be a crucial addition to their offense.

New York Giants: Is Julio Jones a potential trade target for the Giants?

New York Giants, Julio Jones

One of the greatest wide receivers of this generation is rumored to be on the market this offseason. Could Julio Jones be a good fit for the New York Giants’ offense with Daniel Jones? The Giants should at least monitor the Julio Jones situation.

Jones is one of the best receivers in the NFL and has had an elite career thus far, but is getting up there in age. He is also coming off an injury-filled year. Should the Giants still consider making a move on Jones this offseason?

The Falcons have one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL with Jones and Calvin Ridley. With the emergence of Ridley, he has shown wide receiver one numbers when Jones has been injured this past season. Matt Ryan, the Falcons’ quarterback, is also aging. Seems like Jones is the odd man out.

Once the new Falcons general manager is hired, he will assess the roster and whether to rebuild the Falcons or stay with the team as is and try to make a playoff push.

Jones has been on and off the field all year, playing only nine games this season. In those nine games, Jones has shown he still got it hauling in 51 catches for 771 yards but only three touchdowns. With Jones missing seven games, you would like to see more touchdowns, but Jones has been dealing with injuries all year.

Questions

The questions all Giants fans are asking right now are, why would we be interested in Julio Jones, and what is it going to cost the Giants to acquire a player like him?

The Giants need a difference-maker on the offensive side of the ball; Jones would be just that. Daniel Jones or any Giants quarterback, at that matter, needs a player they can trust that will go up and get the ball. Jones is faster, taller, and stronger than anyone the Giants currently have on the outside. He is a freak of nature, and from what he has shown this past year, he still can ball.

The cost to get Julio in New York is very hard to say. Jones is 31 currently and aging, it will be hard for the Giants to give up a first-round pick for an aging player. The Falcons traded wide receiver Mohommad Sanu to the New England Patriots for a second-round pick in 2019. If Sanu got traded for a second-round pick, I could only imagine what the Falcons would want for Julio Jones.

Not only will the Giants have to give up assets to get Julio Jones, but the Giants will also have to create a little bit more cap space as well. Jones’ cap hit in 2021 will be around $23 million dollars, which is very high for a wide receiver. In 2022 and 2023, the cap hit will get more affordable, being around $19 million dollars but after that, Jones has an opt-out in his deal.

Forget Julio Jones, draft a receiver:

Would you trade your first-round pick for Julio Jones or keep your first-round pick and draft one of two premier receivers in this year’s draft class? Some really want Ja’Marr Chase from LSU or Devonta Smith from Alabama. Which sounds better, Julio Jones or one of the two rookies?

If the Giants have a chance to go with one of the two premier receivers in this draft class, it will be hard to pass them up. If the Giants miss both of the receivers, that is when I think you could see the Giants try to make a play on a talent like Julio Jones.

Forget Julio Jones and drafting a receiver, sign one:

The Giants will also be looking to sign one of the top receivers in free agency if they do not decide to go with one in the draft. Allen Robinson, Kenny Golladay, Chris Godwin, Will Fuller, Curtis Samuel, and Corey Davis are some of the big-name receivers that could be hitting the open market this offseason.

Robinson is looking to win, which considering the state of the Giants, he might stay away. Golladay has missed 12 games this season and could take a one-year prove-it deal with the Giants. Godwin, in my opinion, will not hit the open market. The Buccaneers will either franchise tag or extend him this offseason. Fuller got caught with PEDs in the middle of the season, but his performance on the field is something the Giants could be interested in. Samuel is more of a number two receiver but could be a good outside receiver with Sterling Shepard in the slot and Darius Slayton on the opposite side. The last receiver we have is Corey Davis, he has ties with safety Logan Ryan from the Tennessee Titans. Davis has been injury-prone much of his career but will fit the Giants scheme if he stays healthy.

What should the Giants do?

The New York Giants have to bolster their wide receiver corps. If the Giants have to trade for a stud like Julio Jones, or sign a big-time receiver this offseason, and or go young and draft an absolute stud receiver. Either way, I do not think the Giants will not leave this offseason empty-handed.