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.

Should the New York Giants draft a pass rusher or wide receiver at 11?

New York Giants, Jaylen Waddle

The New York Giants have a few big decisions to make this off-season regarding cuts, free agent signings, and how they are going to allocate the 11th pack in the 2021 NFL draft. They can solve a few different positions in the draft, but it all depends on how things shake out and what players drop to them at 11.

After a 12 catch, 215 yards, and three-touchdown performance in the National Championship game, most would agree that star receiver for Alabama, DeVonta Smith, will likely be unavailable for the Giants. There are plenty of teams that need star wideouts that pick before them, but fellow receiver Jaylen Waddle could drop to them at 11.

Waddle is an explosive receiver with elite speed and the ability to play inside and out. The Giants lack a true high-end speed receiver, and Waddle could fit that bill easily, especially if they land a big body in free agency to pair with him.

Ultimately, if the speedster is available for the Giants, it will be extremely difficult for them to pass on him. His talents that receiver and ability as a return man or elite, and as we know, after the 2020 season, the Giants will take whatever they can get on offense.

This past year, the Giants average a measly 17.5 points per game, good for 31st in the NFL. Coordinator Jason Garrett underwhelmed with his route concepts and ability to push the ball downfield in man coverage. His playcalling was predictable and run heavy, which isn’t a negative thing — establishing the run is a fantastic way to open up the passing game. The issue, his route concepts were so predictable and lacked creativity, opposing defenses were simply running routes for the receivers. It took until week 17 for Garrett to figure out that Sterling Shepard was their primary red-zone threat, as he scored two touchdowns, doubling his total for the remainder of the year.

In my opinion, the Giants should be leaning toward an offensive weapon, but it is possible they could pick the top pass rusher available. Both Kwity Paye, a 6-foot-4, 272-pound defensive lineman from Michigan, or Gregory Rousseau from Florida, could be considerations.

Paye finished the 2020 season with 16 total tackles and 2.0 sacks over just four games. Most believe he is an incredibly talented pass rusher that could fit the Giants’ mold well. He has fantastic burst off the line of scrimmage and deceiving strength.

Paye is the type of player that could make the Giants’ defense a top-five unit, given his ability off the edge. However, he is traditionally a defensive end, and the Giants utilize outside linebackers in their primary 3-4 scheme. With that being said, if the Giants are forced to let Delvin Tomlinson or Leonard Williams walk this off-season, drafting Paye as their primary pass rusher would be a great supplement.

Then you have Rousseau, who didn’t participate in the 2020 season but was phenomenal in 2019, earning 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss. At 6-foot-7 and 265 pounds, Rousseau has incredible tangibles and the potential to be an All-Pro pass rusher. The primary argument here is, if you have an elite pass rusher and a wide receiver on the board, it is incredibly difficult to pass on the defensive star. The Giants can always allocate free agency money toward acquiring a number one WR.

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 Jets: Potential First Round Picks for the 2021 NFL Draft

New York Jets

While the 2021 NFL draft is 11 months away its never too early to fantasize about the New York Jets’ next first-round pick. With the second hardest schedule and Adam Gase running the team it is inevitable that the New York Jets will finish with a top 10 pick in 2021. If the Jets play their cards right, they might be able to land a transcendent talent that will help shape the future of the team for many years to come.

Greg Rousseau, Edge, Miami

Greg Rousseau came on to the scene for the Miami Hurricanes in 2019 as arguably the best pass rusher in college football racking up 15.5 sacks as a redshirt freshman. With a 6-foot 7-inch frame and natural athletic ability he could be the second coming of Julius Peppers. If Rousseau continues his dominance next season, then he will almost certainly be the first defensive player of the board. If the Jets are fortunate to land him, they will have finally taken care of that pesky pass rusher need they have had on their team for the past 15 years.

Jaylen Waddle, Wr, Alabama

Jaylen Waddle is my favorite WR coming out of next year’s draft and it is easy to see why. Waddle is as fast as Henry Ruggs with the polish of Jerry Juedy, he is an all-around wide receiver and a major threat on every down. The Jets also need a punt returner and it just so happens that Jaylen Waddle is an excellent returner. There is nothing this man cannot do. If the Jets land Jaylen Waddle, he would immediately be Sam Darnold’s number 1 for years to come and an immediate impact player.

Shaun Wade, Cb, Ohio State

Shaun Wade will have the honor of being the Buckeyes number one corner this year and potentially the number one corner entering the draft next year. Wade has excellent speed and coverage skills which will make his transition a lot easier. Wade also has experience playing in the slot which is adds a layer of versatility to his game. The Jets have not had a true shutdown corner since Darrelle Revis but that could come to an end soon if they decide to take Wade in 2021.