2019 Draft Pick Scouting Reports
1st Round – QB Daniel Jones, 6’5”, 221lbs, 4.78, Duke University
SCOUTING REPORT: Jones is a junior entry and a 3-year starter at Duke. He was mentored by David Cutcliffe, who also coached Peyton and Eli Manning. Jones has classic quarterback size and is a good athlete who can hurt teams with his feet. He has decent but not great arm strength. Quick release. Jones is a fairly accurate quarterback who throws with good touch on the football. Jones is very competitive, smart, tough, and hard-working. He has a high football IQ and reads defenses well. His decision-making has been inconsistent at times.
SY’56’s Take: Fourth year junior entry. A three year starter and two time team captain. Despite playing with inferior talent both up front and at the skill positions nearly every week, Jones put together a productive career as both a passer and rusher. The prototypical quarterback when it comes to size and playing style showed glimpses over the past two years of what a first round QB should look like. His NFL-caliber mechanics from head to toe give him the look of a professional passer and him being coached by David Cutcliffe, the college coach of both Peyton and Eli Manning, only helps strengthen the notion of how ready he is. Jones pairs that with toughness and grit that doesn’t come around often. However, there were constant red flags in his tape that are hard to ignore. He didn’t see things well and his decisions were too inconsistent. There just seemed to be a lack of a true feel for the pocket, the defense, and angles. Jones checks a lot of boxes but there is a lot of gamble in the team that takes him even though he comes across as a “safe” bet to some.
*I wanted to like Jones more than this, I really did. I have a thing for tough quarterbacks and I do think he brought his teammates to another level. That’s a trend that can really make a kid break out in the NFL. While I do have a 1st round grade on him and I do think he can be in play at 17 because of the position he plays, I think NYG may need to steer clear here. Jones has enough arm strength, touch, and athletic ability. But there isn’t a quick mind here, he doesn’t see everything a top tier QB does whether it is coverage or pass rush based. After a long time scouting him, he is a pass for me.
MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER DAVE GETTLEMAN AND HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR: (Video)
Gettleman: It’s a wonderful thing when need and value match. We are thrilled to get Daniel (Jones). He was up there with everybody else on our board in terms of value and he was just perfect for us. I really believe in this kid. I really believe he is going to be a really nice, quality quarterback for us, for our franchise. He understands what’s in front of him. We’ve spoken to Eli (Manning) and talked to him and Daniel is coming in here to learn. Learn how to be a pro, learn how to be a professional quarterback. He’s the right kid for us. He’s just the right guy, he has the right head. He’s a very mature kid. I have no doubt he is going to come in and do everything he can to prepare himself to follow Eli.
Shurmur: Yeah, I don’t have anything other to add than Jones, for us, he’s very accomplished, he’s very smart, he’s very talented and when we spoke to Eli, I told this to Eli a couple times already, it’s not his job to teach the next quarterback that comes in here. It’s his job to be the very best player he can be and then the quarterback that we bring in, it’s his job to be smart enough to learn from Eli. And I think that’s the scenario that we are presented with. So we are thrilled. Here’s a guy that has played a lot of football, but he’s still very young, he’s tough, he’s competitive and he really has all of the things we are looking for. Good decision making, he has a sense of timing, he is an accurate passer, he’s athletic and mobile, which is important in today’s game. So we are thrilled about him.
Q: Was Daniel Jones your best player available at 6? Did you have a higher grade on him than Josh Allen?
Gettleman: First of all, it is legal for guys to have the same grade. So when we set up our horizontal, they were on the same line.
Q: At what point did you realize he was your guy?
Gettleman: For me, it’s been a while. It’s been a while, to be frank with you.
Q: What stuck out to you?
Gettleman: I loved him on film. I absolutely loved him. I loved everything about him. And then I went to the Senior Bowl and I watched him that week and I (had) decided to stay for the game. During the season, I had gone to see Dwayne (Haskins) at Ohio State, I had seen Kyler (Murray) and Will (Grier) play each other on that Friday night game (on) Thanksgiving weekend in West Virginia, so I had seen those two play each other. I saw Dwayne play in the Big (10) championship game in Indianapolis, so I’ve seen those three guys play and to me it’s really important to see quarterbacks play. Watching them on tape is one thing, seeing them in the environment is definitely, I think, very important. Saw Drew (Lock), Daniel, Jarrett Stidham, (Gardner) Minshew, (Trace) McSorley, all of these guys were at the Senior Bowl, so I decided to stay. I made up my mind that I was staying for the game and, frankly, he walked out there and I saw a professional quarterback after the three series that I watched, I saw a professional quarterback. I was in full bloom love.
Q: How much of your decision was Daniel Jones the quarterback on the field versus Daniel Jones, the person he is off the field?
Gettleman: That’s a nice piece. Obviously, (Duke Head Football Coach David) Cutcliffe, he’s a hell of a coach. He didn’t fall off a turnip truck yesterday. The kid has been well trained. The huge part of this, and I’ve said it before, a big part of this is his make-up. Every single kid that was taken in the first round has had very little adversity. So, we get into it and we talk about this when we have our meetings – and the scouts and the area guys will go out, the regional guys are out, (Director of College Scouting) Chris Pettit is out, and we talk about what kind of adversity has this kid ever had. That’s what you want to know, because what kind of adversity and how they’re going to react, which is huge – and very honestly, how they’re going to react to you guys. Not because you’re meanies, because some of you are nice, but really because of the volume – it’s the volume that’s different. Now, that’s a big part of it. That’s like a bonus here. This kid is really talented, a really talented football player, and the head makes him more better.
Q: Forgetting about the head for a second, what about his talent level did you like more than the other quarterback prospects?
Gettleman: I just thought his pocket presence and his poise were really important to me. I’ve been saying it for a long time: if you can’t consistently make plays from the pocket, you’re not going to make it in the NFL. You’ll be just another guy. You look at Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, they consistently make plays from the pocket. That’s what this kid can do, and he is not by any stretch of the imagination an average athlete. He’s a really good athlete. This kid can extend, make plays with his feet, buy time in the pocket. He’s got feel. He really has all the things you’re looking for.
Q: Does he remind you of Eli as a player? Or, how is he different?
Gettleman: That’s hard for me because very honestly, I didn’t scout Eli in college. I watched film of Eli. After we took him, I thought it would be a nice idea to watch some film. Back then, I was a pro (personnel) guy. Similar in that they both were playing, at that time, Eli at Ole Miss at that time, both playing in difficult conferences with maybe fewer players around them. Eli had a wide receiver that probably ran a 4.65 (40 yd. dash), and he had a little scat-back running back and an okay offensive line. Daniel had about the same thing.
Q: Do you think you could’ve gotten Jones at No. 17?
Gettleman: You never know.
Q: And you weren’t willing to risk it?
Gettleman: I was not willing to risk it.
Q: Is the goal for Eli to start 16 games next season and for Daniel to sit 16 games next season?
Gettleman: The goal is for Eli to be our quarterback, yes.
Shurmur: I told Eli when we visited, it’s your job to win games and keep this guy off the field.
Q: It’s a challenge almost.
Shurmur: Well, not necessarily. I don’t think you need to challenge him that way. I wouldn’t phrase it that way, but that’s the kind of things you talk about when you put quarterbacks together.
Q: When did you know Daniel was the right guy for this organization? Did you have a similar process as Dave?
Shurmur: Yeah, I went through the process. I probably spent more time even this year than last year on the quarterbacks – from watching them play, to interviewing them, all multiple times, to doing all the research on them, because I think it’s important to put these quarterbacks through the full process. We took a trip down to Duke and visited with Coach Cutcliffe, and he kind of connected some of the things, because there were some comparisons to Eli, and I’m not sure I would share them. How is he similar? How is he different? I knew by watching him play that he was tough. That’s very high on the spectrum for me, is toughness, and Daniel has that. As we went through it, when you watch guys throw – and there’s some very talented throwers, very talented, very accomplished quarterbacks in this year’s draft. It’s quick that you can fall in love with them at each exposure, but by the end of it, we really felt like he was our guy, and I felt the same as Dave.
Q: If I’m not mistaken, that was the week of the owners meetings, so you weren’t at his Pro Day, but were with him privately a couple days later. Do you get a different feel when you’re with a guy privately rather than at his Pro Day?
Shurmur: Yeah, but we had private meetings with all the quarterbacks. We had private meetings with them at the Senior Bowl. So, we had many exposures with all the quarterbacks in question, but yeah, I think when you’re with them privately, you get a feel for who they are. I think it’s really important to sort through how they’re wired above the neck. It’s so important for a quarterback. That’s why all these exposures are very important.
Q: When you look at Daniel Jones’ production, his production is not there. Is that a product of him playing at Duke, or is there something about the numbers that says something about him?
Shurmur: For me, I think when you watch him play, you can’t just look at the raw numbers and say this guy can do it or can’t do it? There’s reasons why a ball is complete or incomplete. I really wouldn’t share with you why that is. I thought he was very productive, I thought he was competitive and gritty, and he helped his team win football games. It’s not a fair comparison sometimes, so you have to watch the player compete and work with what he has. I thought he did a heck of a job leading the Duke football team.
Q: When did you talk with Eli and what is his reaction?
Shurmur: I’ve spoken to Eli throughout this process.
Q: When did you tell him that you were going to draft Daniel?
Shurmur: As it was happening. I spoke to Daniel and Dave called Eli. All along, we’ve spoken to Eli about how we are evaluating quarterbacks in this year’s draft, and there is a decent chance there may be a new guy here. It doesn’t bother Eli.
Q: Dave what do you think his reaction was?
Gettleman: He was fine. I told him it’s your job, let’s go.
Q: If Eli thinks he can play multiple seasons, does this end that possibility here?
Gettleman: Absolutely not. Maybe we are going to the Green Bay model, where Rodgers sat for three years. Who knows? It’s one of the deals where it doesn’t make a difference what position it is, you can never have too many good players at one position.
Q: Are you saying you drafted a quarterback number 6 and he might sit for 3 years?
Gettleman: Who knows? I may go out there in my car and get hit. You don’t know. We drafted a quarterback that we believe is a franchise quarterback. We feel he’s a franchise quarterback.
Q: If Eli plays 3 more years, wouldn’t you take somebody at 6 to help Eli do that?
Gettleman: It’s the same question, ‘why didn’t you wait until 17?’ We don’t know. Life’s too short, you don’t know how this is going to work. It’s people drafting defensive tackles when they already have two stud starters, why are you doing that? It’s where value fits and meets the draft pick.
Q: Have you considered extending Eli so he is not a lame duck quarterback?
Gettleman: That’s a hypothetical.
Q: Were you as enamored as early with Daniel Jones as Dave was?
Shurmur: I tried to slow my roll with all the quarterbacks. My first exposure to all of them was their tape. With the way technology is you can watch every one of their throws or any of their actions. As I got to know them, I wanted to go slow on them. I wanted to be deliberate. John Mara and Dave Gettleman said they wanted a consensus on this. I wanted to give them an educated answer as to who I thought was going to be our guy. I was very deliberate about it because this was going to be a big draft pick. We drafted a guy that we think can start and be a starter for a very long time, and when he gets on the field, we will see.
Q: Just curious of how serious the discussions with Arizona were about trading for (Cardinals QB) Josh Rosen?
Gettleman: There was no discussion. I admitted I had reached out and told them if things happen, then we might have an interest. That’s it.
Q: Daniel Jones was booed by Giants fans at MetLife Stadium tonight. What would you tell those fans who are angry and upset that you picked Daniel Jones?
Gettleman: In time, you’ll be very pleased.
MEDIA Q&A WITH DANIEL JONES:
Q: Is this beyond your wildest expectations to go to the Giants?
A: Yes, I didn’t have a whole lot of expectations going into tonight. I was just excited to be here, and however it worked out I was going to be thrilled. I’m certainly thrilled to be in New York and I can’t wait to get started.
Q: What do you think you did to impress the Giants?
A: I think I was confident in myself and showed the best version of myself throughout the process. The process is a long one where you are going to be tested in a number of ways. I think more than anything, I stayed confident in myself and stayed true to that.
Q: What is your relationship like with Eli Manning?
A: He’s been up at Duke a couple times to throw with his guys and workout so I have gotten to see him then. I have been down to the Manning (Passing Academy) camp a couple times, so I got to know him through those two things.
Q: I know you’ve been busy so far, have you heard from him tonight?
A: No sir.
Q: When did you know you were the Giants pick?
A: When they called me, 20 or 30 minutes ago.
Q: Did you have any inkling from your meetings with them that they liked you at (pick) six?
A: I thought they went well, and I certainly feel like I connected with them. I certainly liked them a whole lot, I wasn’t sure how it would work out. The draft is a tough thing to predict, I didn’t have a whole lot of expectations. I thought the meetings went well, I thought we connected and that certainly made me confident. Like I said I didn’t have any expectations or any idea what would happen.
Q: How do you feel about the possibility of sitting for a season behind Eli?
A: I think it’s a tremendous opportunity to learn for a young quarterback. He is a guy that’s had a whole lot of success in the NFL and there is a reason for that. I’m looking to understand that and do my best to learn as much as I can from him while he’s in New York.
Q: How do you feel being viewed as his successor?
A: I’m going to be myself and not try to be Eli or be anything but myself. I think staying confident in that and staying confident in who I am is what’s going to be key to that process.
Q: What was your interaction like with the head coach when you met him?
A: I thought it was great. I think we connected and he is certainly someone who I have a lot of respect for and he’s been a really good coach in the NFL for a long time. So getting to know him and being able to interact with him through this process was great and I thought it went well.
Q: For those of us who haven’t seen you, what do you do well?
A: I think physically, I can make every throw on the field. My accuracy is certainly I feel a strength of mine, and I think I have the athleticism to extend plays and play outside the pocket if I need to. So physically I think I can do both those things well.
Q: What can you get better at?
A: I think I can get better at times making that decision to lay the ball off or throw it away. Coach Cut (David Cutcliffe) at Duke said understanding when to stop competing, understanding when a play is over with. I think I can do better with that.
Q: How much did Coach Cutcliffe talk about the Manning brothers over the years?
A: Yeah, we certainly did watch a whole lot. It was cool going to Duke and being with Coach Cut and being able to hear those stories from when Eli and Peyton were in similar positions to me. Whether it was my first year there, second year, whenever it was just hearing those stories and being able to learn from some of those experiences was an awesome perspective for me and certainly a great situation.
Q: The Giants wanted a quarterback that has faced adversity before. What adversity have you faced?
A: If you look back at my recruitment, I came to Duke as a walk-on, a guy who wasn’t recruited very heavily and I think that was part of it. Not being immediately obvious that I would play college football somewhere or at the level I thought I could, but it worked out and Coach Cut gave me the opportunity to walk-on and I eventually earned a scholarship, but I had to overcome it and I’m glad it went the way it went and I wouldn’t do it any other way.
1st Round – NT Dexter Lawrence, 6’4”, 342lbs, 5.04, Clemson University
SCOUTING REPORT: Lawrence is a junior entry and a 3-year starter at Clemson. Lawrence is a prototypical run-stuffing nose tackle with excellent size and strength. He often needs to be double-teamed. While Lawrence can generate a power rush, he lacks dynamic pass rush moves.
SY’56’s Take: Junior entry. A blue chip recruit that made an impact right away, winning the ACC Freshman of the Year Award in 2016. He then went on to earn two straight 1st Team All ACC placements even though his production wasn’t anything noteworthy. Lawrence can be a missing piece to a defense that struggles against the run. His mere presence demands attention from multiple bodies and he is no slouch when it comes to pursuing the ball. Even though he is almost always the biggest and most powerful player on the field, Lawrence needs to shore up techniques and be more consistent. He is not an every down player, but certainly one that can dominate in stretches.
*If there is one non-QB I think NYG may be looking at with their 17th pick, it’s Lawrence. He fits the bill with what Gettleman wants up front and the trade of Harrison left that NT role wide open. Lawrence was the piece that made that loaded Clemson front go. I can remember seeing him play as a true freshman and at that moment in time, I said he was ready for the NFL. There is a rare combination of size, speed, and power to go along with more awareness and intelligence than you may think. Big time potential here that can change a defense right away.
MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER DAVE GETTLEMAN AND HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR: (Video)
Gettleman: The second guy, we got me a hog mollie! Dexter Lawrence, he might have been the biggest player in the draft, I don’t know. He’s a quality run player and he’s more than just a two-down run player. This kid can push the pocket and he can have an impact on the pass rush. That’s why we took him at 17 and we are thrilled. He is a great kid. All three of these kids are great kids. We had Dexter in here and he can play the one, the three and the five. He’s versatile, he’s got hips, he can flip to rush the passer and we are thrilled to have him.
Shurmur: Dexter, I was with (Vikings DT) Linval Joseph, who all of you know, in Minnesota and he sort of reminded me of him. He’s sneaky with the pass rush, but he’s really good on first, second down and the run game stuff. Tremendous human being and he’s a big guy and I think you win with big people
Q: Do you see Lawrence as a rotation with (DT B.J.) Hill and (DT Dalvin) Tomlinson? Or, do you see a guy that can play with all three of those guys across the defensive line?
Gettleman: We can play them all three across at the same time.
Q: When you traded (DT Damon Harrison) Snacks, you moved Tomlinson to the nose because you said that was the spot he was best-suited for…
Shurmur: That was the unintended consequence of that, but I would say this, when we play base defense, you have a five-technique, a three-technique and a one-technique, and we can certainly play all three of those guys. Then when we get into our even fronts, certainly there will a little bit of a rotation there, I think, which is good. Again, we can’t have too many good quarterbacks. You can’t have too many good corners, and when it comes to defensive linemen, you can’t have too many good front people. They’ve all got to compete. We’re really thrilled about him. If you haven’t been around him, this is a big human being. He moves well, he’s sneaky quick, and I think he’s going to be a really good addition to our front.
Q: He’s 345 pounds and has a screw in his foot. Did that play into the process at all?
Gettleman: Medically, he’s cleared.
Q: He’s only had four sacks in the past two years.
Gettleman: He was playing on a bad foot.
Q: So you attribute it to that?
Gettleman: Here’s what I want you to understand. This is where numbers don’t tell all the story. Defensive tackles can affect the pass rush if they get consistent inside push. How many times have you guys watched a game, and the ends come screaming off the corner, and the quarterback steps up, and there’s nobody there. You get inside pass rush, those ends come screaming off the corner, they’re going to affect it, and if the guy is getting push, the quarterback is going to step up and Dexter will give him a kiss.
Q: But who are the ends screaming off the corner?
Gettleman: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Oh and by the way, (LB) Lorenzo Carter had 5.5 sacks last year.
Q: But the Giants two most recent Super Bowl teams had around 50 sacks.
Gettleman: I was with them.
Q: But you know both of those teams really affected the quarterback.
Gettleman: Rome wasn’t built in a day, it wasn’t built in a day. This takes time.
MEDIA Q&A WITH DEXTER LAWRENCE:
Q: What were your interactions like with the Giants? Did you have any sense that they liked you in the first round?
A: Yeah, just my first meeting. I felt that, especially the first time I met them. Every interaction with them was pretty good. I was just being myself, honestly. That was kind of my goal throughout this whole process. Making a team like me for who I was, and not being somebody that I’m not. I feel like with the Giants, we were vibing a little bit. I’m just happy right now.
Q: When most people think of you, they’re going to think of Snacks (Lions DT Damon Harrison). Are you playing like Snacks?
A: I feel like my game is very powerful, a smart player, non-quit effort kind of guy. That’s just my mindset every play, and how I want to attack every snap.
Q: What was your reaction to finding out you landed in New York and with the Giants?
A: I grew up a New York Giants fan. So, it’s a great moment. My goal is to come in day one and challenge the defensive line as being the greatest unit in the world kind of thing. That’s just kind of what my mindset is going to be and what is has been since I’ve been in high school. Let’s not settle, let’s go get it. Right now, I’m real happy to be a Giant.
Q: How’d you end up a Giants fan?
A: Growing up watching the D-line, (former Giants DE) Justin Tuck, and (former Giants DE) Michael Strahan, and (former Giants DT) Fred Robinson, (former Giants DE) Osi Umenyiora. Growing up just watching them kind of inspired me.
Q: You had six and a half sacks as a freshman and only four the next two years. What was the key as a freshman, and what happened the last two years?
A: As a freshman, nothing changed with anything. I feel like my sophomore year, I was battling an injury playing on one leg kind of deal. My junior season, I got my confidence back a lot more the second half of the season. The first half of the season, I was kind of timid on it a little bit, but I’ve gotten over that hump.
Q: Do you consider yourself a pass rusher?
A: I do consider myself a pass rusher. I just got to unlock it, that’s all. A lot of times, I didn’t set myself up for things. I know that’ll be the difference, and that’s a big focus of mine is to stop all the doubting.
Q: What was the leg injury?
A: I got a screw in my fifth metatarsal, but that had healed. The problem was they did a nerve block in the back of my leg and it irritated the nerves in my leg and I couldn’t do a toe raise or push-off with it or do anything with it for like a year and a month.
Q: When did you feel like your old self again?
A: I felt like my old self probably halfway through my last season. Like the first half I was a little timid and I wasn’t quite confident with it and then I just had to sit down and talk to myself and be like, ‘You know how you felt playing on one leg, you got both of them back, take advantage of it. Just go out there and use it to the best of your abilities.’
Q: How much did you have to answer to the suspension throughout the process?
A: Every meeting, everywhere I went, every media source. But it was something I had to deal with. It was unfortunate that happened to me. I was innocent, but God had a plan for me and I felt like that helped people learn who I truly was. It got people to know me, I got to express myself. I had the choice to go to the media, I didn’t have to, but I wanted to so that I make the narrative kind of deal and not let people put their little spin on things that they do. So I mean it was really unfortunate, but I had to change my role as a player and I had to become a coach and support my team and make sure their minds were right and just be there for them and just let them know that it’s good, I’m still here and just play like you’ve been playing the whole season.
Q: What can you tell us about Daniel Jones?
A: I like him a lot. Playing against him when we played Duke, I gained a lot of respect for him. He did not quit and he’s deceptively fast. His arm is really accurate, I feel like a lot of his balls were dropped so his stats weren’t really there watching film, but I think he’s really special.
Q: Did you have any sort of bet with (Christian) Wilkins and (Clelin) Ferrell?
A: No, I wouldn’t say we had a bet. We were just all excited for each other. It’s something that we all worked hard for. The reason why those guys came back was to prove who they really were and that’s what all of our goals were me, Austin (Bryant), Clelin and Christian, just go in to this next season and give it our all and play balls out, play like you got to prove yourself right and others wrong kind of deal.
Q: How impressive is it that you have three guys from the same school, on the same line drafted in the first round?
A: It’s great. When I saw that those guys were up I could not stop smiling. I teared up, I felt like I got drafted with them kind of deal. It’s just special that bond that we have and it’s something that will never be broken.
Q: Your first game you get to face Ezekiel Elliott, how do you feel about that?
A: That will be fun, that will be fun. He’s a great running back and I’m ready to compete and help the Giants win some games.
Q: What do you weigh now?
A: Right now, I am 344. My playing weight is going to go down. I’m trying to play between 342 and 335. I’m trying to get my body fat down, that’s really been a focus of mine. I know becoming a pro that’s your number one objective, taking care of your body and that is just my mindset with the right food and the right exercise and everything.
1st Round – CB Deandre Baker, 5’11”, 193lbs, 4.58, University of Georgia
SCOUTING REPORT: Baker was a 3-year starter at Georgia. He is an average-sized corner with average overall athleticism. However, he plays with fine instincts, football smarts, and confidence. Baker plays bigger and more athletically than his numbers indicate. He can play both man and zone coverage with equal adeptness with fine awareness and reaction time. He is a physical and aggressive player both against the pass and the run.
SY’56’s Take: Baker was a three year starter for the Bulldogs that progressively improved as a prospect from the beginning of 2017. The two-time all SEC defender (1st Team in 2018) brings the kind of confidence and swagger that can take on the numerous challenges of playing cornerback in the NFL. He can be left alone on an island and stick with anyone on all levels of the route tree as well as make plays on the ball like a receiver. His issues can be correctable, mainly the technique-based and mental ones. The lack of power presence can be an issue at times but in a league where contact is allowed less and less in coverage, the corners that can get the job done via instincts, agility, and speed stand out a bit more.
*Another safe pick here that may have a limited upside, but at this position you just want reliable. That is Baker is a nutshell. I love the competitive spirit, the swagger he shows on the outside. Do I trust him against a Michael Thomas on an island? Probably not. But at the end of the day that isn’t the job of a #1 corner on most teams. He can fit in to any coverage scheme and any role, right away.
MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER DAVE GETTLEMAN AND HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR: (Video)
Gettleman: The last guy we traded up for we feel is the best cover corner in the draft, the kid from Georgia, Deandre Baker. We feel like we got three guys that are going to impact this franchise for a long time.
Shurmur: And then Dave did it, he got Deandre Baker. He’s a cover corner. The thing that impressed me most on tape was how stinking competitive he is. He’s very confident and he’s very competitive and I think when he’s faced with a challenge of a good wide out, he’s going to accept the challenge. Again, as Dave mentioned, the fact that our board met with some of the needs and some of the things that we wanted to answer, we were fortunate enough to get those three players. So we are thrilled to have them and get them in here as quickly as we can and get them going.
Q: Can you talk about where (CB) Deandre Baker is going to fit into the equation? You have (CB Janoris Jenkins) Jackrabbit, you have (CB) Sam Beal, who I believe you said if he was coming out this year, he’d have a second-round grade. Where do you anticipate he can fit in?
Gettleman: He’s going to walk on, he’s going to compete for a starting job.
Q: Is he a slot cornerback? Can he play the nickel?
Gettleman: He’s really an outside guy, but he can play inside. We see him as an outside guy.
MEDIA Q&A WITH DEANDRE BAKER:
Q: When you are sitting there towards the end of round one, did you think your phone was not going to ring?
A: No, I just kept faith, I kept praying. I knew somebody was going to give me a chance. The Giants called and they made my day.
Q: Did you have an inkling that the Giants would be interested in you?
A: I met with them at the combine but that was my only meeting with them. I didn’t know they were going to draft me, I’m just happy right now.
Q: How would you describe yourself as a player?
A: A confident player who is always going to come work. A guy that teammates can always count on to be there on Sundays and any other day of the week. A player that my teammates can count on.
Q: Do you feel you were the best corner available in the draft?
A: Yes sir.
Q: Why is that?
A: Just by the production I put in, and the consistency throughout the years I played.
Q: You weren’t a guy that lit up the combine, how much do you think what you did on the field mattered to the Giants?
A: It mattered a lot. I didn’t have the top numbers at the combine, but nobody’s game film can match mine, nobody’s production can match mine. The Giants knew that, and they took me with the 30th pick.
Q: Do you remember the last touchdown you gave up?
A: It was 2016, the only touchdown I gave up in my career.
Q: What was it?
A: It was a back-shoulder fade from the 1-yard line against TCU in the bowl game.
Q: Does that say something about you, that you can go back and recall what happened on a play from 2 and a half years ago?
A: It just says that I’m up to date and I study the game. I watch the things I did wrong more than the things I did good.
Q: If there was a knock on you it was that you didn’t get enough interceptions?
A: It’s hard to get interceptions when you are not targeted much.
Q: Did you hear from Lorenzo Carter?
A: Not yet, I know Lorenzo Carter is probably trying to call me right now. I have a million calls at one time right now. I’m just waiting to call them when I finish everything.
Q: What is your relationship with him?
A: That’s my boy, ever since I stepped on campus at the University of Georgia. My first day on campus he took me under his wing. I played a couple years with him, that’s my boy.
Q: Have you looked the Giants cornerback depth chart yet?
A: I know a few people. Jackrabbit (Janoris Jenkins) and one more person, but I forgot his name. I know Jackrabbit definitely.
Q: Do you expect to come in here and start?
A: I just want to come in and work. Wherever I land at on the depth chart, I’m ready to work. Go out there and compete with the guys and hopefully get a chance to help my team.
Q: What was it like being in the green room?
A: It was a dream come true. I knew one team would call me before the first round was over with. When the Giants traded back up (into the first round), I kind of had a feeling.
Q: Are you mostly an outside guy or can you play the slot too?
A: I can play outside or slot. I can adapt to any situation. Wherever the team needs me to win that’s where I will go.
Q: Do you consider yourself a shutdown corner?
A: Of course.
Q: How do you define the term shutdown corner?
A: In college I covered the opposing team’s number one receiver that’s how I got the term shutdown corner. In the league I just want to come in and work with my team.
3rd Round – LB Oshane Ximines, 6’3”, 253lbs, 4.81, Old Dominion University
SCOUTING REPORT: Ximines was an incredibly productive and disruptive player for a lower-level school. Ximines played at end in college but projects to outside linebacker in the Giants’ 3-4 system. He has a nice combination of size and overall athletic-ability. Ximines plays with a relentless style, can be difficult to block, and can get after the quarterback. He flashes against the run but needs to show greater reliability at the point-of-attack against big blockers. Ximines will need a lot of work in coverage. He is a hard worker with good intangibles.
MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER DAVE GETTLEMAN AND HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR: (Video)
Shurmur: “Oshane Ximines, ‘X-Man’ – he’s a scheme fit for us. He’s a guy that’s played a lot of football – 48 starts, has been very productive, many sacks. He’s got a good first step. He’s a good edge player. I think he’s going to be a real good fit for our defense in base, as well as in nickel. Not to mention, as good a player as he is, as productive as he is, he’s an even better person. He’s going to be another real good scheme fit for our locker room. I called him to tell him we were going to draft him, and he quickly said hello and dropped the phone. He’s probably as excited a player to hear that he was going to be a New York Football Giant as anybody that I’ve called in the last couple years. We’re excited to add him to our team, and I think he’s a really, really good scheme fit for us.”
Gettleman: “Yes, he is. As Pat had mentioned, he’s a terrific kid. He’s a three-time captain, and we’re thrilled to have him, and do all that stuff for us.”
Q: What does he do so well that makes him such a good pass rusher?
A: Shurmur: “He has a good first step, and he’s good with his hands. He’s got a good counter move. He’s developed some pass rush at the college level. He’s got it in his body. He’s got that initial quickness that you need as a rusher. Then, he’s got pretty good size. He’s 6’4”ish, in the 250s. That’s a really good sized man, and he’s still got room to grow – he’s young.”
Q: Was he your target going into the third-round?
A: Gettleman: “Very honestly, yes. As the boards break, and we had a second round value on him, the bottom of the second. As the board was breaking, we started talking with about 14 or 15 picks left. As we got closer and closer, we really started going through the process probably, we talked about three guys when we were about six picks away – we talked about three. Then, when a guy comes off, we talk about the next guy. That’s how it lines up. Bottom line is, we were thinking about trading up, but I said no, we’ll hold our water because I didn’t want to give uou our four (fourth-round pick) or two fives (fifth-round pick) for tomorrow, because of what our board looks like. So, he was a target for sure.”
Q: You were thinking about trading up late in the third-round?
A: Gettleman: “Yeah – where we were sitting, we’d have to give up the rest of the draft. We were at No. 95, and we were thinking six could get us up to No. 90, get us up five spots, but let’s just hold our water for now, and I’m glad we did.”
Q: Is it hard to project the talent of an edge rusher from a small school?
A: Gettleman: “Again, the litmus test is he went to Old Dominion, he went to ODU. It’s a Division I program, but obviously it’s not a Power Five. He’s at Old Dominion, so you say to yourself, would this kid start in the ACC? Could he possibly start in the SEC? You think about those things, and he can. The interesting thing about him is because he’s played so much and the kind of kid he is, as Pat said, he has legitimate counter pass rushing ability, counter pass rushing moves. Most of the kids coming out of college have their move when they come off the ball, or they come of the ball they know what they want to do, and if the tackle thwarts them, they don’t know what to do. They’re not power rushers, they get stuck. Oshane can counter punch, which is what made (Broncos LB Bradley) Chubb so special last year. Playing across from that (Broncos LB Von) Miller guy didn’t hurt him.”
Q: He’s forced a lot of fumbles, is that a skill you look at? Is that an innate thing or a taught thing?
A: Shurmur: I think it‘s mportant. You want defensive linemen that contact the ball. The ability to knock a ball out, there’s a feel to a lot of that. He has a good feel for it, he is very productive. You have seen guys from smaller schools go on and have terrific careers. Guys develop differently through their college years. He played a lot of football, but I still think he is young, and his best ball is in front of him. Some of those things that they do naturally are things that show up at whatever level of comp they play.
Q: Is he a third down player or every down player that can stop the run?
A: Shurmur: He’s an edge player for us, so he would play the outside backer spot for us when we are five on the line. We can take the nose out and he’s a pass rusher in a four-man front. He can be a three-down player
A: Gettleman: He’s not a designated pass rusher. He’s a legit three-down player.
Q: Where did the high character show up in your evaluation?
A: Gettleman: That’s a big part of that. It’s the scouts going in and vetting him out. We spent time with him and he is just a real quality kid.
Q: Do you see any of the same traits as Osi (Umenyiora) in him?
A: Gettleman: He has some stuff. As Pat said, the forcing of the fumbles has a lot to do with length and arm length and a knack, which he has. He’s got some things he’s gotta polish up before we put him in that category. To answer your question, the kid really is legitimate pass rush ability.
Q: How important was it to get an edge rusher early in the draft?
A: Gettleman: It was stated last night, we need pass rush help. We feel we have really addressed it with Dexter Lawrence and this kid. We got inside pass rush help and we got outside pass rush help. The quicker you get to the passer, the less time corners have to cover and good stuff happens.
Q: How comfortable are you with right tackle to have to wait until day 3?
A: Gettleman: What I’ll say is, it’s where the value of the board is. When we were picking at 17, after Dexter, the defensive tackle group was falling down the floor. To answer your question, there’s still tackles on the board we like. But again, we had Oshane at the bottom of our second round.
Q: Have you guys ever been in a Draft where you had this long of a wait between picks? What was this day like for you?
A: Shurmur: I haven’t. We had to wait quite a few hours, just like you. We felt good about the move we made yesterday, you saw we went up and got (Deandre Baker), and then all of the sudden today — bang, bang, bang — there was a move on corners, so we felt good about why we did that, so that kind of knocked us out of an early pick. I think when Dave and the guys put the board together, and it falls right on a player that is not only a good player but a player of need, I think it is a credit to the process, and I think as we all get to know this guy better — “The X-Man (Oshane Ximenes)” — I think everybody will see why we picked him.
Q: Dave, did this board fall the way you expected it to?
A: Gettleman: You know, there is always going to be wild card things. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and people have different ideas. The best way I can respond to that is, we have not had to reach for a pick. Daniel was where we had him graded, Dexter was right there. Deandre, you know he is sitting way up top, sitting up fairly high, we’re looking at what is going on and we’re saying, “We have to take him. We have to make a move and go get him.” And then the X-Man — generally speaking, everybody’s board is going to be different, OK? If things are working for you, more often than not after you get past the first round, more often than not you are going to get guys a round above (their grade) — so, for example, last year’s, we had a first-round grade on Will (Hernandez). We had second-round grades on B.J. (Hill) and Lorenzo (Carter), so it worked for us last year, it worked today.
MEDIA Q&A WITH OSHANE XIMINES:
Q: How does it feel to be drafted by the Giants?
A: Honestly, this is the best feeling I have ever had in my entire life. My family is from New York, everybody has been rooting for me to go to New York, and to actually have it happen. I have been waiting all day for this. I wouldn’t want to go to any other team. I’m just excited and ready to get to work.
Q: How much contact did you have with them during the draft process?
A: Honestly, not that much. I wasn’t expecting it. I saw them coming up with the pick and when I saw it, I was like, ‘please’. I got the call and I don’t know how to feel right now.
Q: What do you make out of being the first Old Dominion player ever drafted?
A: I’m extremely happy to set that standard for Old Dominion. Being the first player drafted, I hope to set a standard now and have the tradition continue and have more players drafted in the future.
Q: How good of a pass rusher are you?
A: I do what I can. I’m ready to come in and compete, learn the defense and contribute on special teams.
Q: When did you realize it was a realistic possibility that you could be drafted in the 3rd round of the NFL draft?
A: I figured the NFL was a possibility by my junior year of college. Agents started reaching out to me and it started to become a reality. I just tried to work as hard as possible to get picked as high as I could.
Q: How much did the Senior Bowl help you?
A: Very much. I had an awesome experience down at the Senior Bowl. Being able to compete against the best players in the country. I would recommend the Senior Bowl to any player coming out of college because you get that exposure to every NFL team.
Q: Did you meet with the Giants a lot there?
A: I met with them one or two times, but you basically meet with everybody throughout that process.
Q: You said earlier you wanted to be drafted by the Giants, what was the reason for that?
A: My family is from New York. I was born in New York and my entire family lives up there. Just to be on the team where I was born, that would have been awesome. My whole family was rooting for that and it actually happened. We are all excited for it, I’m just ready to get out there and compete.
Q: Where were you born?
A: Queens, New York.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I grew up in Ahoskie, North Carolina. My entire family lives in New York. Only my mom and my sisters live in North Carolina. My family up there was rooting for me to go to the Giants.
Q: So you must be jacked up about the tradition of pass rushing outside linebackers this franchise has had?
A: Oh, most definitely. I’m just ready to come in, and do my best, and just be ready to compete.
Q: What is it you do that you force so many fumbles?
A: When you get a free lane to the quarterback, the first thing you have to target is the ball. One thing my coach always preached was, ‘A sack is pretty good, but a sack-fumble is awesome,’ so every time I get off the ball, I try to go for the ball, try to create a turnover.
Q: Who have you modeled your game after? Who do you like studying?
A: I try to take bits and pieces from everybody. One person I’ve watched a lot is Yannick Ngakoue, and I watch Olivier Vernon a lot. There are a lot of people I just pick and choose from — if somebody has a good move, I try to emulate that.
Q: Have you played more with your hand in the dirt or as a stand-up guy?
A: I’ve done a good mix. I’ve played with my hand in the dirt, and I have stood up here at Old Dominion. It would all depend on the game plan that week and what my coach wanted me to do.
Q: Do you have a preference?
A: Not really, I just feel like it is pretty much the same. I don’t really have a preference.
Q: How about running with guys in coverage?
A: Yeah, we have a lot of sub three-down packages here at Old Dominion, and in that case, I had to drop into the flat or take the seam (and) cover up No. 2 a little bit, and some things like that.
Q: What do you think the jump in competition is going to be like?
A: I’m pretty sure it is going to be great. The NFL is the best of the best, so I’m ready to come in and just work as hard as I can to learn the defense and contribute on special teams. I’ll be ready to go.
Q: Were you disappointed you didn’t go in the second round, or is this kind of where you were expecting?
A: You know, my hope was I wanted to be first overall (laughter), but I’m thankful for the Giants believing in me and taking that shot on me. They are going to get everything I got.
Q: Where is your draft party right now? Where are you?
A: I’m actually just at home at my mother’s house.
Q: In North Carolina?
A: No — she lives in Suffolk, Virginia now.
4th Round – CB Julian Love, 5’11”, 195lbs, 4.54, University of Notre Dame
SCOUTING REPORT: Love is a Junior entry who started three years in college. Love lacks ideal height and speed, but he is a quick, instinctive, dependable coverman. He sticks to his man in coverage and will make plays on the football. Love is not afraid to mix it up with a receiver and reacts well to double moves.
SY’56’s Take: Junior entry who was an All American in both 2017 and 2018. Leaves Notre Dame as the all time leader in pass break ups and was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award this past season. Love is a pro-ready corner that checks a lot of boxes when it comes to technique, reaction speed, and quickness. He is a weapon against the pass when covering the short and intermediate passing game. While his lack of size and strength can be exposed by certain match-ups, Love has the kind of game that can be moved inside-out. Safe and reliable corner that has starter written all over him.
*The thing that stood out to me about Love over and over was his safe, dependable play. He looked like a pro each week from an awareness and technique perspective respectively. Rarely did I ever find him out of position or lacking the control needed to make plays on the ball. I know I’m not getting a star here, but I am getting dependability and as I said earlier, that is what I want at the position.
MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER DAVE GETTLEMAN AND HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR: (Video)
Gettleman: Julian Love, we see him competing for the nickel and he can play outside, as well. Ryan Connelly, we see him as a versatile Mike linebacker, very smart, instinctive kid.
Shurmur: Julian Love is a really, really good football player. He can play in the slot. He can play high. He’s kind of got that tweener kind of corner safety ability, which makes him a unique player for us.
MEDIA Q&A WITH JULIAN LOVE:
Q: What do you think you demonstrated at Notre Dame to show that you can be a starter at this level?
A: I had a pretty great three years at Notre Dame. I started a lot of games, played in all my games. I was healthy, I competed with the best at Notre Dame. So I know I can do a lot of things, so I think that’s what teams saw. I’m excited to showcase that going forward.
Q: What do you do best?
A: I think I’m a pretty physical player, I don’t shy away from contact at all. If anything, I show a lot of effort, I’m a smart player and I make plays. That’s what I’ve done my whole life and I’m excited to do that going forward. I’m just going to continue to be a playmaker.
Q: Do you have a chip on your shoulder about how it ended, not being able to finish what you started in the Cotton Bowl?
A: I do, there’s a lot of pride with my friends from Notre Dame and the community. I did want to end this perfect season the right way. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do that and I’m carrying that with me. You can’t take anything for granted. You have to finish the job no matter what. That’s definitely on my mind, in the back of my head.
Q: Do you like being in the slot?
A: I do, I think my skillset allows me to be inside, which is great. I can play outside or inside. Wherever they need me, I am going to compete to the best of my abilities. I feel pretty good about playing inside.
Q: Did you have much contact with the Giants during this process?
A: Not fully, no. This process was a lot, I talked to a lot of teams, but I’m happy to be in New York. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
5th Round – LB Ryan Connelly, 6’2”, 242lbs, 4.68, University of Wisconsin
SCOUTING REPORT: Connelly was a 2-year starter in college. Instinctive, smart, tough inside linebacker. He has a nice combination of size and overall athleticism. Connelly is a good, solid run defender who is at his best when moving forward. He needs to become a more consistent tackler. Connelly is better in zone coverage than man-to-man. He should do well on special teams.
SY’56’s Take: Inside guy who fits the Giants’ scheme well. Two-year starter who was productive and consistent in both a good and bad way. Won’t reach the sidelines via speed but he showed good instincts, good reactions. Not a guy you want in coverage. I think he will be a good special teamer, has a nose for the ball and gets through traffic on the move.
MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER DAVE GETTLEMAN AND HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR: (Video)
Gettleman: Ryan Connelly, we see him as a versatile Mike linebacker, very smart, instinctive kid. Darius Slayton is a take the top off the coverage guy. He’s a 4.3 guys who plays 4.3, so he’s got big time speed.
Shurmur: Ryan Connelly we add to the linebacker group, he’s one of those guys, he can run sideline to sideline, very physical, and he’s a very, very effective, very productive guy.
MEDIA Q&A WITH RYAN CONNELLY:
Q: Did you have any idea of where you might go? Were you surprised when you got the call?
A: “Yeah, I was a little surprised. I knew somewhere around this time was kind of when I was slotted to go. We were just kind of waiting for the call, and it came.”
Q: What do you think you can bring to the table for this team?
A: “I’m just really excited to see all my new teammates and get going on this defense, learning the defense. That’s probably going to be the first thing, is figure out everything I need to figure out, just so I can help the team in any way I can.”
Q: Can you talk about your journey from walk-on to today?
A: “It’s pretty surreal just coming from a high school quarterback, to walking on at Wisconsin, and now getting to play for the New York Football Giants. It’s pretty crazy, and it doesn’t even seem real to me yet.”
Q: You said you played high school quarterback. When did you make the switch to linebacker?
A: “Right when I got to Wisconsin.”
Q: Was it your choice? Or, was it a coaches’ decision?
A: “No, it was a coaches’ decision. I think they needed some people to fill up the inside linebacker room, and that’s just kind of where I ended up, and I’ve been there ever since.”
Q: What was your interaction with the Giants before today? Any meetings with coaches at Pro Day or bowl games?
A: “Yeah, I met with them at the Combine. I talked to the linebacker coach at Pro Day. Those went well, obviously. So, that was my interaction before today.”
Q: How much special teams did you play in college?
A: “I played a lot my first two years, and then my last two years, I was on punt and kickoff. That’s definitely something I’m willing to do.”
Q: Did I read something that your season was ended by a surgery?
A: “Yeah, I had a sports hernia at the end of last season that I had been playing through, and finally decided to get it fixed back in December, but I’m fully healed. That hasn’t affected me at all to this point.”
Q: Are you going to any Islanders playoff games?
A: I’m gonna try to now, for sure.”
Q: You played inside linebacker at Wisconsin, right?
Q: Is that where you see yourself suited for with the Giants in their 3-4 (defense)?
A: “Yeah, that’s where I’m definitely most comfortable, but like I said, I’ll play wherever they need me.”
Q: How would you evaluate yourself in the coverage game? How comfortable are you with covering tight ends and running backs?
A: “At Wisconsin, we did a little bit of everything – whether it features zone (coverage) or man (coverage), man (coverage) on the tight end, man (coverage) on the running back, we kind of switched it up a lot. Kind of experienced kind of doing all those different things there.”
Q: What did (Defensive Coordinator) James Bettcher just tell you when you talked to him on the phone when they picked you?
A: “Just welcome to the Giants, and that they’re happy to have me, and happy to get started. I don’t know, honestly, it’s just kind of all a blur at that point. I was just trying to pay attention as close as I could.”
Q: How’s your mom doing?
A: “She’s doing great, thanks for asking.”
Q: Yesterday was the big day, right?
A: “It actually got pushed back one week. Next Friday will be the next day.”
Q: What is he referring to Ryan?
A: “My mom’s cancer treatment will be ending next Friday, and then hopefully the checks will be all clear for lung cancer.”
Q: Were you a Vikings fan or a Packers fan?
A: “I grew up as a Packer fan.”
Q: Position wise, what did teams view you as? Where do you think you fit best in this defense?
A: “I’m more of an off the ball linebacker – a ‘WILL’ (weak side linebacker), a little ‘MIKE’ (middle linebacker). Those were kind of the main things they talked to me about.”
5th Round – WR Darius Slayton, 6’1”, 190lbs, 4.37, Auburn University
SCOUTING REPORT: Slayton is a junior entry who started two years in college. He combines good size with outstanding overall athletic ability and speed. Slayton stretches the field and can get deep. He is dangerous after the catch. Slayton needs to improve his route running and become more consistent catching the football.
SY’56’s Take: Fourth year junior entry. Slayton arrived at Auburn as an accomplished high school track athlete and enters the NFL with a very high ceiling. His speed and burst are functional and usable on the field, he is much more than a track athlete. He consistently averaged near-20 yards per catch over his career and displayed dominant stretches against SEC cornerbacks.. He is a deep threat who will make a defense account for him at all times. While there are limitations to his game underneath and at the point of attack, this kind of deep threat and ability to extend plays after the catch is worth the risk. Boom or bust.
*I am taking a chance on Slayton, I simply have too many plus game notes over the past two seasons to ignore it. The Auburn offense is difficult to scout as it could create numerous false opportunities but at the same time it may prevent a guy like Slayton from really showing everything he can do. I love the way he moves and his worst case may be a Ted Ginn caliber vertical threat.
MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER DAVE GETTLEMAN AND HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR: (Video)
Gettleman: Darius Slayton is a take the top off the coverage guy. He’s a 4.3 guys who plays 4.3, so he’s got big time speed.
Shurmur: Darius Slayton is an outside receiver that has some inside characteristics, but the 4.3 speed shows up on tape. He’s extremely fast. He can get behind the defense, and we all know the effect that can have for an offense.
MEDIA Q&A WITH DARIUS SLAYTON:
Q: Do you think the way you ended your college career kind of sent you over the top?
A: “I definitely think it was a nice exclamation point to my career, for sure.”
Q: How would you describe your game? What have teams told you about what they like about you?
A: “I think my biggest strength is my speed. I’m able to push the field vertically, as well as catch the ball intermediately, and I have ability to go and score. That’s probably some of the biggest things I’ve heard from teams that I hope to be able to bring the Giants. Just help take the top off the defense and help us win games.”
Q: Where do you see your speed paying off the most? Long deep balls, or catch-and-run concepts?
A: “I can do either/or, but obviously the deep ball is probably the main area. I just want to go out there and show that I can do it all. I can do underneaths, I can do deep, I can do whatever they need me to do.”
Q: You don’t return kicks or punts, right?
A: “No sir, I didn’t in college.”
Q: You ran the entire route tree in college, didn’t you?
A: “For the most part, yes ma’am.”
Q: What’s it like playing in that Auburn offense, because it’s not exactly the same as playing in the Washington State office. Do you have to block a lot there?
A: “Yes, but that’s anywhere in the SEC. There’s big-time running backs, so you obviously have to do a little more blocking probably in the SEC as opposed to the Pac-12. I feel like on the pro level, especially somewhere like the Giants when they have a back like (RB) Saquon (Barkley), you got to do your part and block for him, as well when it comes time to run routes and catch the ball, then do your own job. I think it’s prepared me to come into this situation and be successful.”
Q: You seem pretty subdued. Is this later in the draft than you expected to go? Or, are you just a calm guy?
A: “No, I’ve had a couple of minutes to collect myself. If this had been five minutes ago, I couldn’t talk at all (laughter), but I’ve had a couple of minutes to collect myself. Just trying to manage my excitement. Everybody says first-round slip, or whatever you want to call it, but at the end of the day, getting drafted into the NFL is a really hard thing to do. I’m just grateful for the opportunity.”
Q: What was your initial thought of how you’re going to fit in the offense, and what your role can be here?
A: “The phone just went off, and it actually shows up as New Jersey. So, my brain didn’t register New York Giants at first until the coach on the phone said the New York Giants, and I was like, ‘That’s crazy.’ I remember they took the quarterback in the first-round, and obviously have Eli Manning, who has been a really good vet. I feel like they’re going to have good quarterbacks and have had some good receivers over the past few years. Like I said, just hope I can get in there and do my part.”
Q: What do you want to show them that you don’t feel like you’ve shown the league yet?
A: “Just that I’m a complete player. I think through this process, I was fighting people putting me in a box as just a deep guy, or just a this guy, just a whatever guy. Just to have a complete game – that I can run the full route tree, I can get in and out of breaks, as well as beat you deep with my speed. I think that’s the biggest thing I have to show as soon as I get there.”
Q: How much were you personally limited by the offense this year?
A: “It was just one of those things where sometimes you just don’t always execute on all cylinders as a team, but at the end of the day, I had opportunities to make plays while I was there this year and last year. I did what I could with my opportunities.”
Q: Have you had a chance to study the Giants? Do you know much about the offense they run other than having Eli Manning here?
A: “When (Browns WR) Odell (Beckham Jr.) was there, I watched a fair amount of Odell film, but I haven’t had the chance to dive deep into their scheme, personally. Honestly, just kind of on the surface. Looking at receivers like Odell, like (WR) Sterling (Shepard). I actually had a high school teammate of mine who signed on with the Giants as a free agent a couple of years ago. It’s been a team I’ve watched a little bit.”
Q: Who was that teammate?
A: “(Free agent WR) Kalif Raymond – played for the Giants a little while. I don’t think he’s on the team anymore.”
Q: What did you think of the Patriots drafting (Former Auburn QB) Jared (Stidham) behind (Patriots QB) Tom Brady?
A: “I’m happy for Jared. I think he’s really going to excel, especially in that offense where he’ll be able to – I think he can be Tom Brady-esque, because Jared is really smart, he throws very well from the pocket, he’s good at making quick decisions. So, I think that’s a great fit for him, and he loves Tom Brady to death. I’m sure that’s like getting drafted by God for him. I’m happy for him.”
6th Round – CB Corey Ballentine, 5’11, 196lbs, 4.46, Washburn University
SCOUTING REPORT: Ballentine was a 2-year starter at a Division-II college. He combines decent-size and excellent overall athletic ability, quickness, and speed. Raw, he will need a lot of technique work. Ballentine proved he can compete with the big boys at the Senior Bowl. He has experience returning kicks.
MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER DAVE GETTLEMAN AND HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR: (Video)
Gettleman: Corey Ballentine, another height, weight speed guy and just played at a small school, and he’s got ball skills, he’s got ball production. He has played the nickel, as well… He’s 5’10”, he’s 196 pounds, he runs 4.44, plays 4.44. He’s got ball skills, he’s played the nickel, he’s played outside. How do you pass him up?
Shurmur: Corey Ballentine, he’s just a good solid football player, and he’s a guy that’s going to come in and compete. And the one thing to remember is all these guys as they fight for a spot on 1st, 2nd and 3rd down, these guys all can run, so they’ll be contributing on 4th down, on special teams.
MEDIA Q&A WITH COREY BALLENTINE:
Q: How did you end up at Washburn?
A: I wasn’t really highly recruited for football coming out of high school. I was a late bloomer, I was recruited more for track. Washburn was one of my few football offers that believed in me. They believed they could help me grow and get better as a player. I met with the coaches and I figured it being close to home and I was comfortable with my coaches and teammates, it would be the best option for me. That’s why I chose it over other schools. I had a couple other D2 offers but I figured Washburn was the best one out of the other offers.
Q: Is it satisfying you never had to transfer to get to this moment?
A: No, I never transferred. I was at Washburn for 5 years, I redshirted, and I was a three-year starter so I never went anywhere else.
Q: You only played 2 years in high school, right?
A: I played all four years but I wasn’t on varsity until my junior year. I played varsity for two years.
Q: Inside/outside, you do it all as far as what you can handle in the secondary?
A: I used to play free when I was in high school. I got recruited to Washburn as a corner. When I started playing, I started as a down safety in our defense, so kind of like nickel. I played nickel for two years then I played corner in 2017 and 2018. I’m comfortable playing both positions inside and outside. I don’t have a problem with either.
Q: How important was the Senior Bowl for a guy coming from a small school?
A: It was definitely very important for me. I’ve always felt like I could compete with that type of competition as far as being with those D1 guys. This was kind of like my first real opportunity and I think I went out there and I did well. My real goal was just to improve every day. I knew I wasn’t going to go out there and immediately just lock everyone down, but as long as I was growing mentally and growing physically and getting my technique better, I felt like that was more important. I ended up starting the game, so I felt like someone was seeing the improvements I was making as well. It was definitely important, kind of an eye opener for me because there is a lot of things I haven’t seen as far as routes, route combinations that I haven’t seen in Division II. When I got to the practices and one on ones and stuff, I saw that for the first time. It kind of opened my eyes and let me know I need to be more on my p’s and q’s. There are certain things I can get away with in Division II football that I can’t get away with there or in the NFL. I am definitely prepared for the challenge, but I’m glad I went there. I am definitely grateful for the opportunity.
Q: Did the Giants give you any sense of where they would like to start you off?
A: No, we never really talked about it too much yet. I’m happy to fill in wherever I need to, I’m not too worried about what position I’m going to be playing because I feel like I can learn and adjust. I feel like that’s what the game is about, adjustments and adjusting to adversity. I’ll take whatever (inaudible) we haven’t really talked about it. I’m assuming corner and maybe a little bit of nickel corner, it doesn’t really matter to me.
Q: Are you also a return guy?
A: I’ve been returning for a while. In 2017, I averaged 30 yards a return. They stopped kicking to me in 2018. I’m definitely a return guy, I didn’t do punt returns but I will do it, I don’t have a problem with it. I’m on every special team, so I will definitely be on special teams with the Giants as well.
Q: They put up a graphic that said you were born in Jamaica?
A: Yeah, that’s right, I was born in Montego Bay and moved to Kansas when I was about six years old around 2001, 2000.
Q: What was it like getting the call from the Giants?
A: It was surreal, I’m sure you have heard it a lot, but this is something I have always dreamed of. It took me back to the moment when I got recruited to college and I told my coaches this is something I wanted to do, I wanted to go to the NFL. We were all kind of giggling and here the moment is, I’m getting the call from the New York Giants. It’s just surreal because I didn’t know how I was going to do it, I know I wanted to do it, I just didn’t know how. Now that the moment is here, I’m trying to soak it in really. I worked so long to prepare for this moment, going to the combine and the Senior Bowl not knowing what my future was holding. Now I’m finally getting to figure out my destination. I’m really just trying to soak in the moment. I have already talked to the head coach and the defensive coordinator and my position coach. I’m definitely getting a feel for them already. I’m enjoying the ride already.
Q: In the Senior Bowl did you play against Daniel Jones?
A: I’m sure I did. They rotated the quarterbacks every quarter so I’m sure I was in there at some point. I’m not sure.
Q: What were your pre-draft meetings with the Giants like?
A: They had sent scouts out to my school during the season maybe three times. I met with them at the Senior Bowl as well. I met with the D-coordinator and I talked with him. I had at least a 30-minute, 40-minute conversation with him just going through schemes and things that we do at my school compared to things that they do and my strong suits and whatnot. I talked to him for a while and he kind of let me know enjoy the process and embrace the grind. That’s what I have been trying to do. I also had a conversation about a week ago about how I would adjust to living in New York being from a small city and whatnot. I think I’ll adjust fine. I haven’t really had any visits to or been to New York. Like I said, it’s an adjustment that I will have to get used to. I don’t think it will be a problem for me, I have no character issues, I have none of those issues, so I’m looking forward to it.
Q: Have you ever been to New York?
A: I have never been to New York. This will be my first time. I’m definitely looking forward to the change of scenery. I’m in Kansas right now, so it is probably way different, but I’m definitely ready for it.
7th Round – OT George Asafo-Adjei, 6’5”, 306lbs, 5.03, University of Kentucky
SCOUTING REPORT: A two year starter at right tackle in college, Asafo-Adjei combines decent size and athleticism with good effort. He was a team captain.
MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER DAVE GETTLEMAN AND HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR: (Video)
Gettleman: We’ve got the big tackle from Kentucky, George (Asafo-Adjei). I’m not going to try to pronounce his last name. I don’t want to embarrass myself. But we see him competing at right tackle… It’s the length. It was the toughness. You know, he’s played in the SEC – he’s going to see good pass rushers every week. He’s kind of getting a little taste of what’s ahead of him. Like I said, the length, the toughness, and the ability to fight through, lining up in the SEC every Saturday.
MEDIA Q&A WITH GEORGE ASAFO-ADJEI:
Q: How exciting is it to get the call that you are coming to the Giants?
A: Oh my gosh, I feel like the luckiest man in the world. I’m blessed, truly blessed.
Q: Were you surprised it was the Giants?
A: Honestly, I was a bit surprised. I was not expecting that, I had been in contact with them before, but like I said it was a surprise honestly. God is good.
Q: What was your experience like building up to the draft, what were your expectations?
A: My expectations were just work hard in the off-season. I have had a passion for the game since I started playing. I haven’t played my whole life, I gained a love for it and I saw what it did taking me out of situations at home and all that kind of stuff. I’m just blessed, and I kept pursuing it because I believed this was my ticket. I worked hard in the off-season, did well in the pro day, got a lot of hype and I’m just blessed to be in this position right now.
Q: What was it like going up against a top ten pick in Josh Allen every day, how much better did he make you?
A: It was a great experience. We both sharpened each other honestly. He had troubles going against me, I’m a speed guy I’m good with the pass rush. He’s a great edge rusher, I gave him problems, we both helped each other. You saw it in the outcome of the season and the outcome of our play. It’s just a blessing to be on a team like that with multiple other players.
Q: You were born in the Bronx?
A: Yes, sir I was born in the Bronx.
Q: Did you grow up here, where did you grow up?
A: I moved from the Bronx when I was about 8 years old and moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. I remember the Bronx. I have visited there almost every summer.
Q: Are you a Yankees fan?
A: No, I don’t follow baseball.
Q: You alluded earlier to what football did for your life, what kind of adversity did it help you through?
A: My mom works hard, she has worked hard since I was born. She has been working 3 jobs, literally 3 jobs every day. She probably gets 4 hours of sleep every day, we went through some rough patches in life, but we overcame thanks to God. He’s taken me out of that situation, and he has taken our family out of that situation. I’m happy for our blessings. I don’t have a father in my life, that’s been much harder as well. I thank God, God is good and he answers prayers.
Q: Do you have a lot of family in New York?
A: Yes, for sure I do.
Q: You went on a mission to Ethiopia?
A: Yes, we went to Ethiopia last year in May. I’m from Africa, I’m not from Ethiopia I’m from Ghana. It was still good to be back in the homeland of Africa. It was a blessing to be a blessing to others and help others and pray for people. It was a very beautiful thing and I loved that experience. It’s even shaped me to continue that in my life and I even opened a LLC. I want to give back to any poor countries and any poor communities around here. It’s eye opening to see those people don’t have anything, but they are the happiest people in the world. Anyone can take something from that, just seeing them struggle I want to give back to them so bad.
Q: When you said you didn’t have a father, was your mother a single mom?
A: Yes, she was a single mother. It’s been rough growing up, but by God’s grace she was able to provide. We went through rough patches between me and her. By God’s grace we were okay, and we’ve overcame. Forgiveness is a big part, I’m just happy to be in the situation I’m in right now. God is more than good.
Q: Is it just you and your mother or do you have brothers and sisters?
A: I have a sister, but I didn’t meet her until I was 14 because the process to bring people from Ghana is a long process. My mom had to work on it since I was born, and it took that many years just to accept her into the U.S. and get a visa. That’s a blessing too, I love my sister she has overcame a lot herself, so it’s just a blessing for us all to be together as a family.
Q: What was you Mom‘s reaction when you got drafted?
A: She was screaming, going crazy. I’m happy for her, she gets to see her boy make it. I’ve worked really hard for this. I’m going in there not to just goof around, but I’m going in there to take a job, I’m going in there to make a name for myself. I truly believe I’m a dog. I can’t wait for you guys to see that.
7th Round – DT Chris Slayton, 6’4”, 307lbs, 5.09, Syracuse University
SCOUTING REPORT: Slayton was a 3-year starter in college. Versatile, he has experience at both tackle and end, and probably projects to the latter in the Giants’ 3-4 defense. He is strong with decent size, long arms, and first-step quickness. Slayton is a good run defender who plays with leverage. He can be disruptive and flashes at times, but he needs to do it more often. Team captain.
MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER DAVE GETTLEMAN AND HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR: (Video)
Gettleman: Chris Slayton – kid from Syracuse who’s a big, violent, inside banger.
MEDIA Q&A WITH CHRIS SLAYTON:
Q: What was your reaction when you heard it was going to be the Giants who was taking you?
A: It was a great reaction man. I was excited. My mom called me as soon as it happened. They’re excited for me. All around, it’s a big moment for us.
Q: Who are you watching the draft with?
A: Right now, I’m alone at my apartment. I was going to meet my parents afterwards.
Q: What was your pre-draft interaction with the Giants? Did you meet with them at a bowl game or a Pro Day?
A: I first met them down at the East-West Shrine Game week, and at the Combine. I liked them a lot, and they liked me, so it all worked out.
Q: Are you a three-tech or a one-tech? Where do you play exactly on the defensive line?
A: Either or, both.
Q: What do you bring to this team?
A: Just a strong work ethic. I love to compete. I’m a high competitor.
QB Eric Dungey, 6’3”, 220lbs, 4.68, Syracuse University (Video)
Dungey was a four-year starter in college. He combines excellent size, overall athletic ability, and a strong arm. Although he improved as a senior, Dungey was an inconsistent quarterback throwing from the pocket, with his best plays usually created with his feet outside of the pocket or as a runner. He performs well in the clutch. Dungey is a developmental project who will need patient coaching. He has been somewhat injury prone.
RB Jonathan Hilliman, 5’11”, 216lbs, 4.50, Rutgers University (Video)
A transfer from Boston College, Hilliman is a big, strong, physical running back. He is not a dynamic runner, but steady and productive. Hillman can catch the ball out of the backfield.
WR Reggie White, Jr., 6’2”, 208lbs, 4.45, Monmouth University (Video)
White combines good size, speed, and overall athletic ability. He was a productive receiver at a lower level of competition. He has to prove he can separate from NFL-caliber defensive backs. He has a good catch radius but he must improve his route running skills.
WR Alex Wesley, 5’11”, 190lbs, 4.45, University of Northern Colorado (Video)
Wesley is an average-sized receiver with good speed, quickness, and overall athletic ability. He was a productive receiver at a lower level of competition. Wesley makes plays down the field and can be dangerous with the ball after the catch.
TE C.J. Conrad, 6’4”, 248lbs, 4.70, University of Kentucky (Video)
Conrad was a four-year starter in college. Versatile, he has played in-line, H-Back, and even some fullback. Strong, high-effort blocker who lacks the overall athleticism to be much of a factor in the passing game.
OC James O’Hagan, 6’1”, 300lbs, 5.31, SUNY Buffalo
O’Hagan was a three-year starter at a lower level of competition. He lacks ideal size but is strong and quick. O’Hagan is a high-effort player.
OT Paul Adams, 6’5”, 317lbs, 5.21, University of Missouri
Adams was a three-year starter and two-time team captain in college. He is a big right tackle with long arms and good power. Adams is a high-effort, relentless player with average athleticism. He is a better run blocker than pass blocker.
DE Freedom Akinmoladun, 6’3”, 284lbs, 4.94, University of Nebraska
Akinmoladun started 41 games in college, but finished with just 11 sacks in four seasons.
DE/LB Nate Harvey, 5’11”, 237lbs, East Carolina University (Video)
Harvey was named “AAC Defensive Player of the Year” after switching from running back to defensive end as a senior. He finished the year with 12 sacks and 24.5 tackles for a loss. Given his lack of size, Harvey projects to linebacker. He is a quick, but extremely green player who will need a ton of technique work both moving forward and dropping into coverage.
DE/LB Jeremiah Harris, 6’3”, 243lbs, 4.83, Eastern Michigan University
Harris played defensive end in college but could project to linebacker in the Giants’ 3-4 scheme. He had a productive senior season in college with 98 tackles, 14 sacks, 17 tackles for a loss, and 10 pass break-ups.
LB Josiah Tauaefa, 6’1”, 232lbs, 4.83, University of Texas-San Antonio (Video)
Tauaefa is a junior entry and a three-year starter in college. Inside linebacker with good strength. He lacks ideal size and overall athletic ability. Tauaefa is a high-effort player who is better moving forward than in reverse.
CB/LB/S Jake Carlock, 6’3”, 225lbs, Long Island University-Post
An instinctive play-maker at a low level of competition, Carlock played in a variety of roles in college including cornerback and linebacker, but most likely projects to safety given his size. He can also long snap.
S Jacob Thieneman, 5’11”, 205lbs, 4.57, Purdue University (Video)
Thieneman lacks ideal athleticism and size, but he is a smart, instinctive player.
S Mark McLaurin, 6’1”, 212lbs, 4.77, Mississippi State University (Video)
McLaurin looks the part and has good size. But he is a limited athlete who does not play a physical game. He needs to improve his play against the run and tackle better. McLaurin lacks speed and range in coverage.
S Tenny Adewusi, 5’11, 199lbs, 4.54, University of Delaware (Video)
Born in Nigeria, Adewusi converted from a high school quarterback to collegiate cornerback. He started as a senior after spending his first three years in college as a defensive reserve and special teams player.
Before I review the team’s 2019 NFL Draft, I want to preface my remarks with one comment. Fans need to stop allowing ill-informed drama queens in the “media” to influence their opinions. The ugliness and viciousness of personal attacks by “professional journalists” and unhinged fans levied at 21-year old Daniel Jones are beyond the pale. The media’s need to constantly create controversy and negativity in order to generate revenue, combined with decay in polite decorum fueled by the anonymity of social media, have turned people into animals with a mob mentality.
The reaction to the drafting of Jones is comical. Before the draft, the prevailing opinion from media types and fans was that the Giants MUST draft a quarterback in the 1st round. It was widely argued that Eli Manning was nearing the end, and if anything, the Giants should have drafted a viable replacement a year earlier. It was also argued by many in the media and fans that if the Giants were going to draft a quarterback they had a conviction on, they should do it at #6 and not #17 to avoid risk losing him or sending a message that they didn’t have a strong conviction on him. “If you truly believe a quarterback is your franchise guy, why would you wait to #17?” they questioned.
As April 25th approached, only two quarterbacks in the draft were being associated with the Giants: Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins. And reports were that it was Jones who the Giants were higher on, while interest in Haskins appeared to be waning by the Giants and other teams.
My point in all of this is two-fold: First, how the hell was the selection of Daniel Jones at #6 a surprise to anyone? The Giants were either going to draft a quarterback or a defensive lineman/edge rusher at #6. Anyone paying attention knew that. Secondly, if you argued that the Giants needed to draft a quarterback, how can you complain after the fact that they did so? Many media types and fans had been arguing that Dave Gettleman was unwilling to seriously rebuild the team because they wouldn’t move on from Eli and draft his replacement. “There is no plan! If the Giants come out of this draft without a quarterback, the team is clueless!” I heard that said over and over again on ESPN and the NFL Network and read it over and over again in the print media. Hello, the Giants drafted a quarterback. They have set the wheels in motion to replace Eli. They did want you insisted they needed to do!!!
Kyler Murray was off the board. That left the options being Haskins (who they clearly did not like as much), Josh Rosen (who they clearly did not have much interest in, as did the rest of the NFL), a lesser option later in the draft, or the guy who they felt was the best quarterback in the draft. Now you may not agree that Jones was the best QB in the draft, but the Giants did. Right or wrong, they had a very strong conviction on the guy. What about trading down from #6 or up from #17? Those were certainly options but the Giants were clearly not willing to risk someone else trading in front of them. (Also note that the Broncos traded down as soon as the Giants drafted Jones).
So in a matter of days, we went from “the Giants must draft a QB in the first round!” to “why the heck did the Giants draft a QB at #6?” I feel like I’m taking crazy pills when I hear this stuff.
Full disclosure: when the Giants were on the clock, I was also hoping for the team to draft Josh Allen. But I knew there was a strong possibility it was going to be Daniel Jones or Dwayne Haskins. I wasn’t shocked. Neither should you have been.
Why did the Giants draft Jones? He’s a 6’5”, 221-pound quarterback (bigger than Sam Darnold) who runs a 4.78 40-yard dash (faster than Sam Darnold) and who carried an otherwise terrible Duke team to an 8-5 record. His line and receivers were not good. Only two of his teammates (one offensive, one defensive) were even invited to the NFL Combine. Being weaned by quarterback guru David Cutcliffe, Jones was the most pro-ready quarterback in this draft. He started 35 games in college, as compared to the 14 games that Haskins started on a super-talented Ohio State team.
That all said, everyone is missing one of the most important factors in why the Giants believe Jones is the right selection. Right before the draft, Gettleman said:
If we have a QB rated in the first round, we love him… A lot of it is physical ability to play the game. One of the things that I really believe is… Being a quarterback of a team in this type of market is a load. It is a mental load. You have to really vet out the background of these guys. Just like being the head coach of this team is a load, being a quarterback is a load, too. It is more than just looking at a guy’s physical talent. It is about his makeup. A lot of you guys were here Eli’s first year. He starts the last nine games of the year and there were a couple games early on, the Baltimore game, where he was what, 4 of 15? Something like that. He is there and then we are playing Dallas in the last game of the year. We are on the six-yard-line going in and we have no timeouts. There is 12 seconds left in the game and he has the cojones to audible to a draw. If we don’t score, we lose the game. You have to have a mental toughness about you to play the position here in New York. Or to play the position anywhere. That is a huge piece of it. It is important. If you don’t think it is, you need to re-think it.
Right or wrong, the Giants not only feel that Jones has physical talent, but he has the mental tools to succeed in New York. If you don’t understand that, you won’t understand why they made the selection.
Dexter Lawrence was the best nose tackle in this draft and a guy who many fans and I were hoping the team would selected at #17. The defensive line was a major need for this team with only B.J. Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson obvious candidates to start. Now the team has a 340-pound nose tackle who will demand double-team attention, forming one of the more-talented and youthful trios in the NFL. The Giants finished a disappointing 20th in run defense in 2018. If you can’t stop the run, you won’t be able to rush the passer. Lawrence is not your average nose tackle – he can dominate a game. Think Haloti Ngata or Vince Wilfork.
Leading up to the draft, I argued that cornerback was the team’s top need. The Giants only had 30-year old Janoris Jenkins, undrafted Grant Haley, the untested Sam Beal, and a bunch of no-name question marks at the position. The Giants must have agreed because they came out of this draft with arguably two of the best corner available in Deandre Baker and Julian Love. (Oddly, Baker was the first corner to be drafted when the Giants took him a #30, so they had the pick of the litter). Assuming Corey Ballentine fully recovers from a shooting incident, the Giants have now positioned themselves to be set at corner for the next four years, especially if Sam Beal develops. Baker and Love are not just good, but they will bring swagger to a unit that desperately needs it. When you think of the NFL’s best secondaries, they always seem to play with a chip on their shoulder. Also note that Love was expected to be drafted much higher than he was in the 4th round.
Not surprisingly, the 5-11 Giants had a ton of holes all over their roster. Even with 12 (eventually 10) draft picks, they couldn’t address all of their needs to the satisfaction of many. One obvious area was a pass-rushing linebacker. The only addition there was Oshane Ximines in the 3rd round. Ximines is a relentless player who will get after the quarterback, but it’s a big jump from Old Dominion to the NFL. He will also have to learn how to cover. As a rookie, at best, expect him mainly to be a situational pass rusher and special teams player.
Inside linebacker was also another area needing an infusion of talent. Ryan Connelly is a tough, instinctive, better-than-advertised athlete who could surprisingly press for playing time as a rookie. B.J. Goodson had better be on his toes.
Wide receiver was a major need and the Giants added one of the fastest players in the draft with Darius Slayton. But in order for him to receive significant playing time, Slayton will have to learn the pro game (Auburn runs a more simplistic scheme) and run better routes. But Slayton has the one thing you can’t teach – speed – and he was expected go higher than he was selected.
One of the surprises of the draft is the team did not address the offensive line until the last round. “Once the fourth round was over, our offensive tackles (on our draft board), that value was pretty much wiped out,” said Gettleman after the draft. Fans will demand, “Then why didn’t the team draft an offensive lineman earlier?!” The answers are obvious. The team had a ton of needs and you stick with your board.
Regardless, according to Gettleman, the Giants had 5th-round grades on both of their 7th-round picks. The first was SEC-tested right tackle George Asafo-Adjei. The second was “big, violent, inside banger” defensive lineman Chris Slayton.
Overall, the media and fan noise on Jones has unfortunately over-shadowed what appears to be a productive draft. For the first time in my lifetime, the Giants had three 1st-round picks. And one of those picks was spent on Eli Manning’s eventual replacement. Lawrence and Baker should start and have the ability to become two of the NFL’s better players. Love may also take over the nickel job (a de facto starting position) from Haley.
My guess is that players such as Ximines, Darius Slayton, and Ballentine will need some time to develop. But all three should be immediate contributors on special teams and Ximines could become a situational rusher on defense. I would not be shocked to see Connelly push for playing time. Both seventh rounder should supply much needed depth. I expect all 10 players to make the team, with 2-3 immediate starters.
But obviously, this draft will be judged on Jones. Regardless of the Giants say publicly, I have a hard time seeing the team re-signing Eli Manning at the end of this season unless something strange happens (i.e., the Giants go 12-4). In 2019, you don’t draft someone at #6 and ask him to sit 2-3 years. Barring the unforeseen, I expect 2019 will be Eli’s last season as a Giant. How effectively Jones picks up that mantle in 2020 and beyond will largely determine the fate of the franchise for at least the next five years. And Jones will constantly be compared to Haskins in Washington, Rosen in Miami, and LB Josh Allen in Jacksonville. Get ready for weekly “I told you so!” crap until Jones shuts up the naysayers.