The New York Giants entered the 2024 offseason with a multitude of question marks and needs in the franchise’s attempt to close the enormous talent gap that exists between it and the top teams in the NFC. As of April 28, 2024, the day after the 2024 NFL Draft, this is where the team stands:

  • Players acquired by trade: 1
  • Players signed in free agency: 14
  • Players drafted: 6

These totals do not include the nine re-signed free agents, the two “street” free agents signed in January, and approximately nine undrafted rookie free agents the team is expected to sign in coming days. The Giants are also likely sign a veteran free agent or two in the coming weeks to address positions not adequately addressed in the draft.

As I predicted in the closing summary of my New York Giants 2024 NFL Draft Needs article, no one is happy after this draft. The needs were too great. The picks were too few. Some knew that going into the draft. Others are only realizing that reality just now. Some continue to lash out, unable or unwilling to accept the situation.

So let’s do a quick and dirty overview of what has been accomplished in the last two months.

In March, these were the team’s top needs (red highlighting the most critical areas):

  • “Franchise” quarterback
  • Offensive line mess
  • Defense-altering edge rusher
  • Offense-altering #1 wide receiver
  • Running back
  • Tight end
  • Starting defensive tackle
  • Outside cornerback
  • Nickel cornerback
  • Safety

Via the 21 players acquired to date, the franchise has “subtracted” from that list the following:

  • Offensive line: Signed five veteran free agents, including three to multi-year contracts.
  • Edge rusher: Acquired Pro Bowl outside linebacker Brian Burns by trade.
  • #1 wide receiver: Drafted Malik Nabers with the 6th overall pick.
  • Running back: signed Devin Singletary in free agency and drafted Tyrone Tracy.
  • Tight end: signed blocking tight ends Jack Stoll and Chris Manhertz in free agency and drafting Theo Johnson.
  • Defensive tackle: signed Jordan Phillips as a stop-gap.
  • Nickel corner: drafted Andru Phillips.
  • Safety: signed stop-gap Jalen Mills and drafted Tyler Nubin.

That leaves the following areas unaddressed or at least continuing to have significant question marks:

  • Quarterback
  • Remaining offensive line issues
  • Starting defensive tackle
  • Outside cornerback

So in summary, much was done. But significant issues remain. Let’s review by position:

Quarterback: This is the biggest point of controversy. The topic will remain the #1 cause for concern among the fan base for at least the next 12 months. All the team has done this offseason is replace Tyrod Taylor with Drew Lock. They did heavily scout the 2024 quarterback class, but did not address the position in the draft. It appears a serious attempt and offer was made to trade up to the #3 overall selection in order to draft Drake Maye. New England rejected the Giants’ offer, which also reportedly included the team’s 2025 #1 pick. With the three top quarterbacks out of reach, the Giants passed on J.J. McCarthy, Michael Penix, and Bo Nix at #6 and watched all three get drafted in the next six picks. Did the Giants make a mistake by not drafting one of these three at #6? That remains to be seen. Only five other quarterbacks were drafted (two in the 5th round, two in the 6th round, and one in the 7th round).

Again, given that three of the quarterbacks were out of reach (Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye) and five other quarterbacks went late in the draft, the only real question here is should the Giants have passed on Malik Nabers and drafted McCarthy, Penix, or Nix? Some would argue the Giants should have traded down and picked one of these three, but keep in mind they were selected at #8, #10, and #12. Needless to say, the careers of these three will be closely monitored by Giants fans. It will be a bad look for the New York Giants if they flourish. On the other hand, the team will be vindicated if they are only middle-of-the-road quarterbacks or worse.

There are those who believe the Giants never really had any intention of replacing Daniel Jones. That their interest in this quarterback class was a publicity stunt or a tactic to cause Marvin Harrison, Jr. or Malik Nabers to fall into their lap. Perhaps their intent was to encourage another team to offer the Giants an enticing deal? We’ll never know. But right or wrong, it does appear that the Giants made the determination that there were only three quarterbacks in this draft class who were worthy of leading this team forward. Williams and Daniels were clearly out of reach; the Patriots ultimately rejected the Giants on Maye.

Where does that leaves us? Daniel Jones and/or Drew Lock will start for the Giants in 2024. The team will then have to re-evaluate the position in January 2025. That’s the reality of the situation. If Jones continues to struggle or gets hurt again, the situation could turn ugly. I hope he proves us wrong.

Wide Receiver: The only wide receiver in franchise history that has been drafted higher than Malik Nabers was Kyle Rote in 1951. The hope is the Giants have now drafted their version of Ja’Marr Chase or Justin Jefferson. Or Odell Beckham, Jr. without the annoying drama. Nabers should instantly transform the entire offense and elevate the play of everyone around him, including the quarterback. Opposing defensive coordinators will have to game plan specifically for him. The good news is that Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka are creative enough to use Nabers at a variety of spots, including X, Z, and from the slot. He can turn any short pass into a long touchdown. Jalin Hyatt and Wan’Dale Robinson will face less attention and should thrive as well. Overnight, the Giants’ wide receiver room went from a weakness to a strength. Adding Nabers was a franchise-altering selection.

Running Back: There has been much national media attention on the loss of Saquon Barkley, without the recognition that Barkley really only had two good seasons with the Giants. Much of that had to do with surrounding talent and injuries, but that was the reality of the situation. The team also tended to use him exclusively at the position with the other backs being afterthoughts. That now has changed as the team appears set to use a real running back-by-committee approach. Devin Singletary (whose yards per carry average is actually higher than Saquon’s) is part of that equation. So now is 5th-round draft selection Tyrone Tracy, an elusive back who is tough to tackle and makes big plays as a runner and receiver. Also factoring into the competition is last year’s 5th rounder, Eric Gray, who barely touched the ball as a rookie. Gary Brightwell is a bigger back who has flashed at times and is good special teams player. Long-shot rookie Dante Miller offers speed, moves, and return ability.

Tight End: Most are assuming that disappointing tease and injury-prone Darren Waller will retire. Schoen should have kept the 3rd round draft pick. The Giants made an obvious effort to improve their blocking at the position with the free agent acquisitions of Jack Stoll and Chris Manhertz, two under-the-radar signings who could have a bigger-than-realized impact. If he develops, Theo Johnson (4th round selection) offers a huge 6’6” target in the passing game, particularly in the red zone. He can also threaten seams vertically. Daniel Bellinger, who will likely start, needs to rebound from a disappointing sophomore season. It will be interesting to see what new Tight Ends Coach Tim Kelly (Tennessee’s former offensive coordinator) has on the position too.

Offensive Line: The most tiresome and annoying complaint by fans is that the Giants don’t care about fixing the offensive line. You would be hard-pressed to find a team who has dedicated more free agent and draft resources in the last decade on the offensive line than the Giants. It’s the results that have sucked, not the effort. The current regime drafted offensive linemen with 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th round picks in their first two drafts. Five offensive linemen were signed this offseason. At some point, these players need to be developed and coached up into an effective, cohesive unit. No team can afford to keep spending their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks on one position.

Evan Neal, John Michael Schmitz, Josh Ezeudu, and Markus McKethan have all been hurt (three seriously) and all have struggled. It’s up to Brian Daboll and new offensive line coaches Carmen Bricillo and James Ferentz to get them to play better. Add the veteran additions of Jon Runyan, Jr., Jermaine Eluemunor, Matt Nelson, Aaron Stinnie, and Austin Schlottmann – all of whom have started in this league, including at center, guard, and tackle. In an ideal world, with more draft capital, the Giants would have preferred to have drafted another guard/tackle prospect to compete. They still may add a body in free agency and they have already signed undrafted rookie free agents. The bodies are there. It’s up to the team to make it work.

Defensive Line: Dexter Lawrence remains arguably the best defensive tackle in the game. The Giants have an established veterans in Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Jordan Phillips, and two youngsters yet to prove themselves in D.J. Davidson and Jordon Riley. Ideally, the Giants would have liked to have added a pass-rushing, 3-technique defensive tackle in the draft. With only six picks, and a run on defensive tackles before the Giants selected in the 2nd round, that did not happen. The Giants can get by with what they have, but this is a position that will likely be addressed in the 2025 offseason.

Edge: Many fans continue to underrate or underappreciate the significance of the acquisition of the 26-year old Brian Burns. He’s a proven difference-maker as an outside pass rusher and equates to another 1st-round pick from this draft. He will team with Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari to give the Giants one of the better edge groups in the league. Since Ojulari has been injury prone and is on the last year of his rookie deal, the team ideally would have liked to have added another edge player. That too, will have to be addressed in 2025. Jack-of-all-trades Isaiah Simmons was re-signed too and could be utilized in wide-9 fronts.

Linebacker: If new Defensive Coordinator Shane Bowen follows form from his days in Tennessee, nickel and dime packages will be more prevalent than a base defense with two traditional inside linebackers on the field. In other words, the Giants are probably in really good shape here as long as Bobby Okereke remains healthy. The team did add instinctive overachiever and special teams stud Darius Muasau in the 6th round. Micah McFadden could also be pressed by holdover youngsters Darrian Beavers and Dyontae Johnson.

Cornerback: One of the team’s issues has been finding a nickel corner who can not only handle the ever-growing threat of dynamic slot receivers in the NFL, but also defend the run when the team is in nickel and dime packages. Darnay Holmes and Cor’Dale Flott have flashed but also disappointed at times at this position. Enter 3rd-round selection Andru Phillips, a sticky, physical, and aggressive coverman with inside-outside flexibility. He was a favorite of many draft pundits because of play and demeanor. Like Deontae Banks, Phillips has a good shot to start as a rookie either at nickel corner and/or outside corner. Flott and Holmes are also still in the picture and should not be discounted. So is 2021 3rd rounder Aaron Robinson who also offers inside-outside flexility.

If Phillips plays inside, the question is who will be the outside corner opposite of Banks? The ideal answer would be 2022 6th rounder Tre Hawkins, who combines excellent size and athleticism. A small school prospect, he won the starting job as a rookie, but was quickly benched. Nick McCloud was re-signed and the Giants have indicated that Flott will be given a shot outside as well. He has the height and cover skills, but is rail thin and must improve his tackling and physicality. Keep in mind Aaron Robinson won the starting job in 2022 before tearing his ACL. Long story short is this position may work itself out. Or the team may have to address in the 2025 offseason.

Safety: The issue here was not only the departure of Xavier McKinney in free agency, but the defensive shift from Wink Martindale’s single-high safety, man-to-man schemes to Shane Bowen’s two-deep, split-safety schemes that are so prevalent in the NFL. While the safety position is important in both schemes, the emphasis on specific traits is much different. That’s why the selection of Tyler Nubin in the 2nd round should shock no one. Nubin was employed in this style of defense in college and offers the physical and mental skillset needed to make Bowen’s defense work. My guess is he was one of the few targets of the team in the 2nd round. Nubin has a chance to start from day one. He will become a coach and fan favorite.

What remains to be seen is who nails down the other safety spot. Jason Pinnock is the leading contender but could be pressed by Dane Belton, Jalen Mills, and Gervarrius Owens.

Special Teams: The Giants have quietly added a ton of special teams players to the roster. It’s not likely all of these guys will make the team, but they all have strong special teams reputations/skills. This includes Tyler Nubin, Darius Muasau, Isaiah McKenzie, Jack Stoll, Miles Boykin, and Matthew Adams. The Giants also re-signed Gunner Olszewski, Nick McCloud, Darnay Holmes, Carter Coughlin, and Isaiah Simmons.

Summary: While everyone is down because of the needs that remain on this team, the Giants did accomplish a lot this offseason. A shell-shocked fan base understandably remains doubtful, but the receiving corps, pass rush, and offensive line should be vastly better in 2025. Important transitions are taking place at running back, tight end, and in the secondary.

What’s are the problems? It’s quarterback. It’s what is driving most of the fan angst right now. The other issues (pass-rushing defensive tackle, maybe another corner, more quality on the offensive line) can be easily addressed next offseason. But it is the quarterback position that has everyone worked up. Does the team even agree with the fans that it is a problem? The trade attempt for Drake Maye suggests so, but others will point to passing on McCarthy, Penix, and Nix as an indication that John Mara is living in a fantasy world or the team needs to be unrealistically in “full bloom love” with its next franchise quarterback before dropping Daniel Jones.

My take is this: I’ve said since November 2023, there is a huge risk to tripling down on Daniel Jones for this regime. The quarterback position is too important and things can spin out of control pretty quickly with poor play or another injury. On the flip side, it is not impossible for Jones to surpass his career-best 2022 season given his vastly improved surrounding cast. Does that mean he is the answer? No. But if he can stay healthy (a big if) and isn’t mentally shot (a big if), there is no comparison with the weapons he has now compared to the first five years of his career. As always, much depends on the offensive line too. It’s not also impossible for Drew Lock to seize the position if the Giants allow an actual open competition. That remains to be seen.

Should the Giants have passed on Nabers and taken McCarthy, Penix, or Nix? I don’t know. I would not have felt comfortable with that scenario either. While quarterback is clearly more important than wide receiver, Nabers was more of a “sure thing” in terms of his ability to transform the entire offense. I can appreciate and understand both arguments. McCarthy is in a great position in Minnesota to succeed. His supporting cast there is much stronger than he would have had here with a Naber-less Giants team. It will be fascinating to watch how he does. Penix is stuck behind Kirk Cousins in Atlanta. Nix was drafted by the coach/system everyone felt was perfect for him. We will have to see how they all do.

The course the Giants ultimately chose to take does make sense as much as the other argument. There is no correct path to build a team. Had the Giants whiffed on the quarterback and not drafted Nabers, that would have been a real disaster. But barring a miraculous turnaround by Jones or Lock, the Giants #1 priority next offseason is quarterback. No excuses.

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