New York Giants: Big name players take reluctant approach to OTAs

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

OTAs are the subject of much of the spotlight around the NFL right now at this point in the offseason, but fans of the New York Giants may have noticed that a number of big names were missing from the voluntary practice on Thursday.

These voluntary workouts are, of course, voluntary. There’s no hard requirement for players to turn up to them, but they have a valuable role nonetheless and it often raises eyebrows when high profile players miss out on them. It certainly has for the New York Giants, as it wasn’t just a tiny handful of players skipping but rather a number of influential impact players.

Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News reports that the starting secondary was a no-show and that the team’s big name offseason additions were gone too.

First-round pick Kadarius Toney, big-money free agent signings Kenny Golladay and Adoree Jackson, and expensive re-signing Leonard Williams were among the 20 players out of 90 who did not attend.

This might rub some the wrong way as the Giants spent a first round pick on Toney and gave big contracts to Golladay, Jackson, and Williams. The organization has invested big in all of those names, so some will argue that they should appear more committed and show up for voluntary workouts in return.

It should be mentioned, however, that there’s been no drama around the team itself because of the matter. Players not showing up this time just seems to be a matter of preference, rather than the result of any dramatic situation such as one involving a big name player holding out for a contract or a player being unhappy with the team.

Even if 20 players not attending might be a reason to raise eyebrows, this doesn’t seem – right now at least – like anything to panic over.

New York Giants: Why not to worry about Kadarius Toney missing OTAs

new york giants, kadarius toney

There has been a recent uproar regarding Kadarius Toney missing OTAs for the New York Giants this past week. If you are unaware what OTA stands for, it represents “organized team activities,” which are completely voluntary for all players but is a suggested attendance by the team, of course.

The team prefers to have their eyes on players, as reckless things that happened in the past, circa DeAndre Baker last off-season. However, the Giants feel confident in there current roster that they will make good decisions, as they vetted first-round pick Kadarius Toney significantly before picking him with the 20th overall selection.

Even the NFLPA suggested players don’t attend the organized workouts held by teams, but specifically for Toney’s case, it makes far more sense to skip out than attend.

Why the New York Giants and their fans shouldn’t be worried:

Consider this, during rookie camp, Toney strained his calf due to a lack of football activities, and with his contract yet to be signed, an injury could impact the guarantees he earns. Holding out and letting his agents figure out the guaranteed money is in his best interest, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that he’s missing voluntary workouts.

Consider this factor, Saquon Barkley didn’t sign his rookie contract until the day before training camp started in 2018, so Toney still has plenty of time left to get the deal done. If you want to look at it more extreme case, Joey Bosa missed all of training camp and signed in late August just before the season started, but ultimately stayed with the Chargers and played out his rookie season.

Don’t let this very frequent ordeal demoralize you regarding Kadarius and his influence this upcoming season. Toney will be a New York Giant one way or another, even if it takes a few extra weeks to get the deal done. Most of the Giants’ draft picks have already signed their rookie contracts, so I fully anticipate Kadarius to solidify his in the coming days.

By the time week one rolls around for the 2021 season, this will be a long lost narrative, and since the NFL is currently in a dead period, this news is far more prevalent than it should be.

New York Giants: Why Kadarius Toney might be the Cowboy-killer in 2021

new york giants, kadarius toney

The New York Giants still have their fair share of problems to work out during training camp, but there is reason for optimism heading into the 2021 season. Upper management allocated plenty of resources towards bolstering the offense, including the acquisitions of Kenny Golladay, John Ross, Kyle Rudolph and drafting Kadarius Toney with the 20th overall pick.

For a unit that ranked 31st in points per game last year, it is difficult to imagine the Giants struggling at that level once again with all of these new playmakers. Of course, the offensive line remains a major question after they cut Kevin Zeitler and didn’t supplement his loss appropriately.

General manager Dave Gettleman said it best, at some point, “you have to let the kids play,” so I imagine both Matt Peart and Shane Lemieux will land playing time, but they will have to fight to earn it.

Divisional games this year will be extremely important toward the Giants’ playoff hopes, as their non-divisional opponents are tough. Luckily, both the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles have issues at positions of necessity. They both have weak secondaries, which will open up the passing game for Daniel Jones and the offense.

In the specific article, I want to take a look at Kadarius Toney and how he could end up being a Cowboy-killer in 2021.

What does Toney bring to the New York Giants?

As the 20th overall pick, Toney finished the 2020 season with a 35% forced missed tackle rate, the highest of any receiver in the draft class. He totaled 1,145 yards from scrimmage and 11 scores. His quick-twitch abilities and shiftiness in the open field make him incredibly difficult to bring down, but for Dallas, they will have far more issues with his talents.

Last year, the Cowboys drafted Ceedee Lamb with their first-round pick but didn’t realize they would have a historically bad defense with one of the worst secondaries in the NFL (29.6 points allowed per game). That reality remains the same, as they drafted three corners to help supplement the loss of Chidobe Awuzie and Byron Jones the year before.

Dallas hired former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn to lead their defense, and he brought over Keanu Neal and Demontae Kazee to help translate his defense.

Atlanta’s defense has been inefficient the past few seasons nonetheless, so the Giants already have an advantage in that category. Toney will have a fantastic advantage to utilize, as Dallas lacks a slot corner to hold it down.

Jourdan Lewis was their primary slot man in 2020, earning 614 snaps at the position. He finished with a 45.8 overall coverage grade, per PFF, allowing 492 yards and three touchdowns. As a four-year veteran, he is a solid tackler in the short medium of the field, but Toney is too agile and quick for him to stand a chance out of the slot.

Based on the obvious mismatch, Toney has a clear advantage and should dominate Lewis. As long as the Giants can get creative and their offensive scheme doesn’t hold them back, I believe Kadarius can be the Cowboy-killer, which would be a dream come true for Giants fans.

New York Giants revamped their offense with sure-handed receivers in 2021

New York Giants, Kenny Golladay

The New York Giants had one of the worst offenses in the NFL in 2020. The Giants averaged a putrid 17.5 points per game this past season. New York lacked playmakers on offense once superstar running back Saquon Barkley went down for the season in Week 2.

In the passing game, the Giants severely lacked dependable weapons to haul in passes from Daniel Jones. In a pivotal sophomore season, Daniel Jones had 23 of his passes dropped in 2020. The Giants’ wide receivers were inconsistent and undependable. New York made it a point of emphasis to fix that in the 2021 offseason.

The Giants’ new dependable wide receiver corps

According to Pro Football Focus, the Giants had the second-highest rate of dropped passes last season. Tight end Evan Engram receives a lot of criticism for dropping 11 passes in 2020. However, he was not the only receiver that struggled to hold onto the football last season. Darius Slayton also dropped 6 passes. The Giants’ receivers also struggled to separate last season.

Golden Tate averaged only 2.1 yards of separation in 2020 (tied-fourth worst in the league). Darius Slayton’s separation at a 2.9-yard average was not much better. The Giants recognized a clear need to upgrade Daniel Jones’s offensive weapons and seized the opportunity to do so in the 2021 offseason.

The New York Giants made a splash in free agency this offseason when they landed the market’s top wide receiver, Kenny Golladay. The Giants landed a receiver that is as dependable as they come. Kenny Golladay has the second-highest contested catch rate in the NFL since 2018 (PFF). Daniel Jones now has his big-body “go up and get it” outside receiver with Kenny G.

With their first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Giants got another sure-handed receiver. Kadarius Toney had only 3 career drops on 123 catchable passes during his time at the University of Florida (PFF). Toney fills a huge YAC need for the Giants, but also brings some dependability to the offense, too.

The Giants’ third big receiving acquisition this offseason was tight end Kyle Rudolph. Evan Engram struggled to hold onto the ball as New York’s starting tight end in 2020, so the Giants went out and got the most sure-handed and dependable tight end in football to help him out. Kyle Rudolph has recorded zero drops on 90 targets the past two seasons (PFF).

The New York Giants now have consistency and dependability on offense. Daniel Jones will enjoy throwing to sure-handed receivers as he attempts to establish himself as a franchise quarterback in his third season.

New York Giants: Kadarius Toney is the YAC machine that the Giants’ offense was missing

new york giants, kadarius toney

The New York Giants revamped their offense this offseason. The Giants’ offense was one of the worst in the NFL in 2020. New York only managed to score a putrid average of 17.5 points per game last season. Dave Gettleman and company recognized that changes were needed, so the Giants went into the offseason with the goal of finding “touch-down makers.”

The Giants succeeded in finding their “touchdown-makers.” The additions of Kyle Rudolph and Kenny Golladay should improve the Giants’ red zone offense and receiving dependability. But the first-round addition of Kadarius Toney will improve the Giants’ offense in a different way.

Kadarius Toney the YAC machine

Kadarius Toney might not give the Giants an added edge in the red zone like Kenny Golladay, but he does provide a lot for the offense. New York’s offense was particularly bad after the catch.

The Giants’ offensive weapons rarely created yardage after the catch. According to Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus, the New York Giants ranked dead last in the league with the fewest yards after the catch per reception in 2020 at 3.0 yards per. Not only did the Giants’ receivers struggle to separate from coverage last season, but they also struggled to make plays with the ball in their hands.

To fix this, the Giants went into the 2021 NFL Draft and selected the best yards-after-catch receiver in the entire draft class. Kadarius Toney is borderline impossible to tackle. He is labeled a human joystick for his video game-like juke moves. Kadarius Toney forced a missed tackle on 35% of touches since 2018, which was first among the 2021 wide receiver draft class (PFF). Toney forced 32 missed tackles on 80 catches the past two seasons (PFF).

On 177 touches in his collegiate career at UF, Kadarius Toney forced an insane 64 missed tackles (PFF). The Giants landed a tackle-breaking machine in Kadarius Toney. The Gator product will jump-start New York’s offense and provide elite after-the-catch ability to a team that severely lacked in that regard.

New York Giants: Does Kadarius Toney have an injury at mini-camp?

new york giants, kadarius toney

Rookie minicamp is underway for the New York Giants but some have noticed something odd about first round pick Kadarius Toney. On the first day of camp, he received a bit of attention for playing with one cleat – possibly due to getting the wrong size from the equipment staff – but was out of practice before others due to what looked like a calf cramp.

Cramping up on the first day is understandable considering this was Toney’s first time working out as an NFL player, and a bit of time has passed since the combine and the college season. It’s expected that it might take a bit of time to get back into the swing of things, but there might be reason for concern if the trend continues multiple days.

After the second day of practice, Dan Duggan reported that Toney was the only player to sit out long stretches on both days, and also that Toney was checked out by trainers on the sideline. He stopped short of definitively claiming that Toney is dealing with an injury, however, because we just don’t know enough to say that yet.

Bleacher Report made the interesting claim that Toney tweaked his foot while wearing the wrong size cleats, and used it as an explanation of why he continued with one bare foot.

It’s hard to give a verdict of whether there’s an injury at play here or not but it seems like there’s no major problems even if there is one. There’s no sign that Toney will get pulled from future practices or that he’ll have to practice with restrictions, and because of that, it’s best for fans not to panic just yet.

New York Giants: Dave Gettleman succeeded, found his “touchdown-makers” this offseason

New York Giants, Kenny Golladay

Last month, New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman sat down in a press conference to recap the Giants’ offseason moves. During his discussion with the press, Gettleman mentioned that the Giants wanted to add “touchdown-makers” and feels that they had accomplished that goal.

“Touchdown-makers” is a term Dave Gettleman has used before. Upon drafting Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Gettleman described Barkley as a “touchdown-maker” and a “threat to take it to the house every time he gets his hands on the ball.”

Dave Gettleman claims to have found more “touchdown-makers” this offseason. And his claim is indeed accurate. The Giants had a successful offseason period that saw them acquire a plethora of talented playmakers on offense.

The New York Giants’ new “touchdown-makers”

The New York Giants’ offense was incompetent in 2020. The Giants’ offense was the 31st ranked unit in the NFL, averaging a putrid 17.5 points per game. Hence Dave Gettleman’s desire to add “touchdown-makers,” players that could put points on the board.

What better way to fix an incompetent offense than to sign the league leader in touchdown receptions from 2019? Kenny Golladay was that guy, hauling in an impressive 11 touchdown receptions in a breakout 2019 campaign. Golladay caught 65 passes that season for 1,190 receiving yards. He was still an alpha dog wide receiver in 2020, averaging 67.6 yards per game, prior to the season-ending injury that shut him down after just five games.

Similar to Saquon Barkley, 2021 first-round pick Kadarius Toney is a “threat to take it to the house every time he gets his hands on the ball.” Toney had the highest missed tackle rate (35%) among 2021 NFL Draft WRs (PFF). The dynamic UF playmaker racked up 10 touchdowns in his final collegiate season.

The Giants also added reliable tight end Kyle Rudolph to the lineup this offseason. Rudolph is on a shortlist of players with 15+ receiving touchdowns in the red zone since 2016. According to Paul Schwartz of the NY Post, of Kyle Rudolph’s 48 career touchdown receptions, 40 of them — 83.3 percent — have come in the red zone. The Giants added some big-play scorers with Toney and Golladay, but they were wise enough to add a short-range assassin in Rudolph as well.

And, of course, the Giants’ offense was without its original “touchdown-maker” for the majority of the 2020 season. Saquon Barkley tore his ACL in Week Two, spending the rest of the season on injured reserve. Now, fully healthy, Barkley will return to the lineup in 2021 and look to be that home-run threat the Giants’ offense grew accustomed to having. Saquon Barkley, Kadarius Toney, Kyle Rudolph, and Kenny Golladay will step into the Giants’ 2021 offense and make big plays.

DeVonta Smith expected New York Giants to select him at 11 – what happened next was great for everyone

New York Giants, Devonta Smith

The New York Giants patiently waited at 11 for Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith to fall. However, the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys executed an interdivisional trade that sent Smith to Philadelphia, an unprecedented move that felt targeted at the Giants.

According to Smith himself, there were two teams he anticipated going to, and the Giants were one of them.

Appearing on Chris Long’s “Green Light” podcast, Smith anticipated being pursued by two teams — the Panthers and Giants:

“I thought Carolina was going to draft me,” Smith said. “That’s who I thought. I knew of course the Giants, but it was all about, you have to get to 11. I knew if I was there at 11, I was for sure going to the Giants.”

It was clear that the Giants were in the mix for Smith at 11, but what they ended up gaining instead was not only far more valuable, it also makes an instant impact on offense. Landing Kadarius Toney with a 20th overall pick, Gettleman and Co. added a receiver who tallied 1,145 yards at 11 scores last year. In addition, he has dropped just three passes over four seasons and generated a 35% missed tackle rate, the highest of any receiver in this past draft class.

The New York Giants should be ecstatic with their haul:

Toney is an exceptional talent that can blow the top off the defense at any moment and make tacklers miss in the open field. His shifty attributes and quality background make him a perfect fit for a Giants offense looking to add another element and weapon for a quarterback Daniel Jones.

The front office did plenty to help provide Jones with more weapons to increase their offensive production this year, but the OL still remains a question. Smith, on the other hand, didn’t look too excited to take his talents to Philly, despite having his former quarterback Jalen Hurts on the roster.

The Giants didn’t only add an instant playmaker on offense, they also gained a first, fourth, and fifth-round pick to utilize. They will have the Chicago Bears first and fourth-rounders next year, which could end up being extremely valuable as they have the second hardest schedule in the NFL and are in flux with their quarterback situation. They are expected to start Andy Dalton in 2021 and ease Justin Fields in, which could end up biting them in the butt in the win-loss category.

At the end of the day, everybody walked away happy, as Philadelphia got a premium receiver who is arguably the best college pass catcher in college history, and the Giants walked away with future draft capital and an exciting player in Kadarius Toney.

New York Giants’ 2021 NFL Draft earns great reviews from Daniel Jeremiah

Kadarius Toney, New York Giants

The consensus is that the New York Giants had a strong 2021 draft, acquiring multiple players who can make an instant impact while also adding draft capital for the future. At the end of the day, they put in place a contingency plan for quarterback Daniel Jones while also offering him weapons on offense and bolstering the defense with pass rusher Azeez Ojulari with the 50th overall pick.

The strategy this year was best player available and value, something that general manager Dave Gettleman has ignored in recent years. Over eight drafts, Gettleman had never executed a trade back, but he shocked the world and move back nine spots, adding a first-round pick and fourth-round pick in 2022.

Most analysts are grading the Giants positively after the draft. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah had great things to say to the Giants media:

“I think when you look at what they were able to collect, and I think when you look at where this roster is, it’s actually in pretty good shape,” Jeremiah recently told the Giants Huddle Podcast. “I think just having some numbers to be able to spread out and to be able to get assets next year is huge. And there’s a little more certainty with the process next year. I’m all for that. Get some extra picks here and collect some picks for next year.”

The New York Giants FINALLY had a value-based draft:

Having additional assets in a draft class that will be far more familiar with NFL coaches due to the evaluation procedures opening up will be a benefit. This year, the lack of in-person communication and live visuals hurt scouts and upper management in their scouting processes. Most believe that draft capital next year will be significantly more valuable, so the Giants walking away with Toney and a future first-round pick is an absolute steal.

“Of all the things [the Giants] accomplished, I think getting those three picks next year might be my favorite.”

When it comes to Kadarius, the Florida stand-out receiver tallied 1,145 yards and 11 scores last year. He also had the highest missed tackle right out of any receiver in the draft class at 35%. He has only dropped three passes in four years, also having the lowest drop rate in the draft class. He is a stellar talent with unlimited upside, and given his physical attributes, the Giants are excited about his potential. So is Jeremiah.

“I think he gives you easy completions,” Jeremiah said about the No. 20 overall pick. “Just quick-hitters, get the ball in his hands. He’s phenomenal after the catch. You can do that, you can use him on jet sweeps, you can use him in the backfield some if you want to get him the ball that way. But I think just finding more dynamic players in whatever capacity you can use them I think is something the Giants really tried to focus on. They have to be more dynamic, they have to be more explosive, and I think he helps you accomplish that.

Toney will excel in the short/intermediate range, hauling in passes in space and utilizing his shifty abilities to make tacklers miss and churn out yards. The Giants need homerun hitters, and Kadarius is exactly that with his unique skill set.
The overall thoughts behind the draft are positive, and the Giants walked away with one of the best hauls in the NFL, according to most.

New York Giants rated as second most improved receiving corps

New York Giants, Kenny Golladay

The New York Giants came into this offseason with receivers as a large need, but that was mostly addressed through the draft and free agency. In free agency, of course, the team made the big name signing of Kenny Golladay to add a receiver that may very well finish in the top 10 statistically. And in the draft, they added a further weapon with first round pick Kadarius Toney after trading down.

Those improvements earned them the title of second most improved receiving corps by PFF. The only team rated higher happens to be the Giants’ neighbor, the Jets.

The Giants followed that splash free-agent signing by spending their first-round pick on another wide receiver. Per Zack Rosenblatt, Toney said that he models his game after Alvin Kamara, and like Kamara, his after-the-catch ability is rare. That’s something New York needed to add at wide receiver. The Giants’ wide receivers averaged 3.0 yards after the catch per reception in 2020, dead last in the NFL. Toney should help turn that number around.

The article by PFF mentions how Golladay and Toney aren’t the only additions. The Giants also added Kyle Rudolph, and while the signing has been almost forgotten since the start of the offseason, they also brought in 2017 top 10 pick John Ross.

A deep receiving group

Depth isn’t usually associated with the Giants receiving corps in recent years but the organization really does have a deep group this year. Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton are the top performers from the last couple of seasons, and they both return this year.

With the addition of Golladay as well as Toney, it’s easy to imagine Shepard and Slayton being able to work more effectively. Opposing defenses will be forced to focus on more than just them, and the Giants now have multiple receiving tight ends in Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph.

The pressure will be on for Daniel Jones now that he has more weapons than ever, but ultimately, the Giants have done about as good a job as possible at setting him up to win in 2021.