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.
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.
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.