It’s done. After several weeks of intense speculation the NFL Draft 2019 is complete and all 32 sides have shown their hand on the rookie recruits they think will enhance their fortunes. With the offseason turmoil in New Jersey all eyes were on the selections made by Dave Gettlemen and his front office staff. He did not disappoint in terms of adding fuel to the fire for column inches in the press. We’ll start in the obvious place……
With the 6th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft the New York Giants select….Daniel Jones QB from Duke. Those were the words which started a clock on the career life expectancy in New York for Dave Gettlemen and Pat Shurmur. Their reputation with NYG is now directly linked with Daniel Jones. I will say up front that I get it. Gettlemen and co. had decided they needed to draft Eli Manning’s successor in the first round and that Daniel Jones was their guy. We won’t know whether this was clear cut or if it was a toss up between Jones, Dwayne Haskins or trading for Josh Rosen (Drew Lock doesn’t seem to have been truly in the equation).
The problem for many Giants fans seems to have been two-fold: either fans preferred Dwayne Haskins and/or once Josh Allen was still available at no.6 this was the direction they should have gone in. There are plausible arguments for both these alternative courses of action. However, Daniel Jones is the pick and word seems to be it is as much about his unflappable nature and character as it is ability (and he is more than able).
Plan A is naturally to sit Jones behind Eli for at least a year before taking the reins. It will be interesting to see what Plan B is should the Giants (and Eli) start badly.
Improving the rush
The Giants did seek to improve the defense with the majority of their other draft picks. Dexter Lawrence (Clemson) picked at no.17 is a monster of a defensive tackle and should help stuff the run and rush the interior. Match that up with Oshane Ximines (Old Dominion) rushing from the outside and the Giants front seven starts to look a damn sight healthier. Ximines is my favourite pick of the lot and I was relieved to still see him their at no.95 during the Giants long wait for another pick on day 2. Further picks were added in later rounds (LB Ryan Connelly, Wisconsin in round 5 and DT Chris Slayton, Syracuse in round 7). Slayton may well prove to be a steal as he has tremendous versatility to play across the front, Connelly I was less keen on as there were still other options on the board at that point.
You can never have too many cornerbacks
Well this theory was well and truly tested as the Giants took three – Deandre Baker (Georgia) is the headline grabber in the first round but there was much praise for the selection of Julian Love (Notre Dame) in round 4. The selection of Corey Ballantine in round 6 completes the set – and let’s not forget Sam Beal taken last year as an undrafted free agent (injured for the whole of 2018). It will be interesting to see how this impacts the career of Janoris ‘JackRabbit’ Jenkins. For now Gettlemen is espousing the line of JackRabbit having a lot of ‘pups to train’. However, I would suggest that means Jenkins will be traded at some stage within the next 12 months, possibly just before the in-season trade deadline depending on how the Giants record looks at that time.
Little bit more offense
The other two picks were in round 5 (WR Darius Slayton, Auburn) and round 7 (T, George Asafo-Adjei). Slayton gives the offense a potential deep threat at wide receiver and Asafo-Adjei some greater depth at the tackle spot. If any of these selections from the later rounds result in production come September then all the better but expectation should be managed in relation to these picks. Many will have felt that the offensive line needed another pick higher up the board and I cannot disagree but the sense is that Gettlemen may well look to another free agent veteran to plug and play for a season – I’m sure this position will be returned to in the 2020 draft!
The defence has had a makeover, the QB of the future has been drafted and there were a couple of other potentially useful selections. On the face of it that seems a fair return. However, given the events of the last few months – the release of several high profile veteran players, including one of the most talented WRs of his generation – the pressure will be on from day 1 for the rookies to perform (remembering that Jones for one will be on the bench for at least a year). That may not be fair on them but it is the truth of life in the spotlight of the NY Giants – they join a franchise which has spectacularly underperformed since the SuperBowl wins of 2007 and 2011. It is now up to Pat Shumur and his team (particuarly James Bettcher) to make this work.