Apr 252020
 
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Xavier McKinney, Alabama Crimson Tide (January 1, 2020)

Xavier McKinney – © USA TODAY Sports

With the 4th pick (36th overall) in the 2nd round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected safety Xavier McKinney (University of Alabama). The team then selected offensive tackle Matt Peart (University of Connecticut) with the 35th pick (99th overall) in the 3rd round.

Scouting Report on Xavier McKinneyThe 6’0, 201-pound McKinney was a junior entry and 2-year starter in college. He is a very versatile player who is able to play both safety spots and slot corner. McKinney plays faster than he times and has good quickness. He is instinctive in coverage and makes a lot of plays on the football. McKinney is aggressive and physical in run defense. Good blitzer and he will hit you. He does need to become a more consistent tackler. Team leader who quarterbacks the secondary.

Sy’56’s Take on Xavier McKinney: Junior entry. Two year starter from Roswell, Georgia. 2019 All American and First Team All SEC. McKinney was a do-it-all safety for Nick Saban’s defense, making plays against the pass, the run, and on special teams. He is a versatile, rangy, aggressive weapon for the defense that reacts and closes as fast as anyone can at the position. He is a hustler who will bring swagger to the defense he gets drafted to. He has some on-field discipline issues that can get exposed in the NFL, thus he will need some extra time to adjust to the speed and complexity of the game. His upside is sky-high if he is put into the right situation and he applies himself.

*McKinney plays a high risk, high reward style which isn’t a fit for every scheme. But for the teams that can tolerate, borderline feet of that, he is going to be graded highly and I do think he has a shot at being the top safety off the board. I love his burst and ability to close, if he can develop that movement into coverage, watch out.

Media Q&A with General Manager Dave Gettleman and Head Coach Joe Judge:

Gettleman: Obviously, we had Xavier rated, we had a first-round value on him, and we’re absolutely thrilled to get him. He’s a great kid, he’s smart, he plays smart, he lines up the backend for us, he’s versatile, you can put him down low, he can cover tight ends, he’s got ball skills, and he’s a good tackler. So, we’re excited and just feel we’ve got a real quality person and player in this second round pick.

Judge: Yeah, I’d say my first exposure to Xavier was a few springs ago. I was down in Alabama actually scouting a couple other guys for the draft and had an opportunity to pass on through one of the practices, and he just stuck out as a guy on the field who flies around. He plays with a lot of passion and energy. He also has that ability to be the quarterback on the backend and really be the signal caller for our defense. Knowing the program he comes from, he fits the mold of a smart, tough, fundamentally sound guy we’re looking to build with. We’re very excited to have him. Like Dave said, we had a first-round grade on him, saw him hanging around and we’re very fortunate to be able to take him at the position that we did.

Q: Are there some similarities here with Xavier and Isaiah Simmons as you were watching the two films? It looks like Xavier is one of those guys who played 100 snaps at four different positions last year.

Gettleman: He certainly is versatile, he certainly is versatile. One of the important things for us this year was getting a safety that could play in the deep part of the field. Xavier has certainly played back there enough that we know we feel very comfortable about that part of his game.

Q: How much better do you feel about your secondary after making this pick and signing (James) Bradberry in free agency? Does it feel like it is shored up a lot more than maybe it was at the end of last year?

Gettleman: Absolutely. You know, it’s kind of funny. Everybody is playing so much 11 and 10 personnel and you’re in sub 55 to 70 percent of the time. You can never have enough DBs. You know, Bradberry is young, he’s 26, I believe, or 25. Jabrill (Peppers) is young. All of these kids we drafted last year and now Xavier this year, we’re putting together, I think, a very talented young group that just has the ability to play football at the NFL level. We’ve just got to get them rolling.

Q: Did you entertain a lot of offers to try to move down? Do you think having Xavier will actually enhance Jabrill Peppers and maybe put him in spots where you can enhance his talents rather than have to do things maybe he wasn’t as good at?

Gettleman: Well, the first thing I’ll tell you is we had made up our mind that if Xavier fell to us, we were taking him. So, we did have something. If Xavier had been gone, we did have a team willing to move up and we would’ve moved back. But we felt the value of getting Xavier there was just too good to pass up. I think the second part of the question is a better one for Joe, frankly.

Judge: You know, I don’t think it’s about any of the players on our roster. I just think with his versatility and what he’s shown of what he’s been able to do, play in the deep part of the field, play in the box, be used in coverage on slot receivers, be used in blitz packages. He’s shown a range in what he’s able to do. That’s going to allow us to use all of our players in different ways. Because of his versatility, that will complement everybody else on the roster as his strengths shake out. But he has a good skill set to come in and compete and we’re anxious to get him on the field and start working with him.

Q: How much were you able to tap into your Alabama connections when you were scouting Xavier?

Judge: There’s a number of guys down at Alabama that have a great background on him. There are a number of guys on our staff currently that have a great background on the Alabama guys, Burton Burns and Jody Wright were there in recent years. They were there when these guys came in as freshmen, they were there for the progression. As well as making phone calls down to Tuscaloosa, we were able to make phone calls and have staff meetings with guys who had direct relationships with these players and that’s a great advantage. I talked yesterday about my relationship with Kirby (Smart) and how that plays a part in identifying these guys and what they are like off the field and off the tape. That plays a big part. There are certain people in that building, not just the head coach, that you rely on what they say. You know they see them as a person and how they treat everybody. Everyone has nothing but the highest compliments of him as a person and that’s what we’re looking for. Guys with good character, good traits, that want to come in and want to work and want to earn what they get.

Q: You are about to have a 63-pick gap, are you in moving up at all?

Gettleman: You have to see how the board falls. We are going to sit for a while. If we move up, I’m not going to dip into next year’s draft class. We are going to sit here and be patient and see how the board falls.

Q: Do you think If Alabama held its pro day and he ran a better 40 than he did at the combine that he would have been there for you at that point?

Gettleman: It’s speculation, (but) that’s the only thing we can think of. Very frankly, I’ve said it to our scouts, it’s how fast does a guy play? It’s about how he carries his pads. It’s not what he does in his underwear on a track, it’s play speed. Way back in the day when San Francisco had their unbelievable run and Bill Walsh was running that club, they were not in a scouting combine. They did not care what a guy ran. They talked about play speed all the time. I think it worked pretty well for them. I am a big believer in that, it’s about how fast does a guy play. If it was just about 40-yard dash times, then we would go watch track meets.

Q: What does this draft do for a guy like Julian Love?

Judge: Julian has a great skill set. He can play corner, he can play in the slot and he can play back deep as a safety. We are going to use him as we need by each game plan. He may be an every-down safety, he may be an-every down corner. We are too far away right now to give that an answer. We are excited about all the guys we have back there. We believe we added some talent to the back end for guys to compete and we are going to see where it shakes out. Nothing has been decided in terms of positions that will go into a depth chart at this point and nothing has been decided in how we are going to use guys by game plan. That will change week to week. We believe we have enough skillsets that it will give us flexibility within our packages.

Q: You have drafted a Georgia player in the third round or higher in three straight drafts. Is there anything particular about Georgia’s program that you like?

Gettleman: What you like is the fact that it’s the Southeast Conference. They play a lot of big games and they do a hell of a job coaching down there. It’s more by accident, it’s kind of the way it worked out. They have a hell of a program.

Media Q&A with Xavier McKinney:

Q: With your versatility playing deep safety, down in the nickel, crashing the box, what do you enjoy the most and what do you think you bring to this defense most of all?

A: I like doing it all. I like playing as many positions as I can on the field. I just like making plays for my teammates and helping my team be successful. So for me, that’s pretty much my main goal. As far as what I can provide for the team, it really is whatever coach wants me to do. I always do what’s asked of me and I try to do it at a high level. So, whatever I’m asked to do, then I’ll adapt to it and I’ll be able to do it.

Q: I understand that a lot of your tattoos you designed yourself. I just wanted to ask about your creativity and how you bring that creativity onto the field?

A: Yeah, I appreciate that question. It’s just something that I like to do in my free time. If I’m ever bored or ever kind of get to thinking, then I try to put the pencil on paper. For me, it’s pretty fun being able to do it and draw my tattoos. But as far as what I bring onto the field as far as creativity, I just try to do as much as I can to help my teammates and help put us in the best possible position to win.

Q: How much did you communicate with the Giants, if at all, throughout the draft process and what’s your impression from your conversations with them?

A: I communicated with them a good bit, especially towards this ending part of it with us not having pro day and stuff like that. So, I’ve been in contact with them a few times and I always got a good vibe with them. It was people I felt comfortable with, it was coaches I felt comfortable with. Just knowing that everything was smooth when we talked, and they were more just trying to get to know me as a person instead of a player because they already knew what I could do on the field. They wanted to know what I could do off the field. But you know, I enjoyed talking to them. I’m surely very happy, very excited that they were able to draft me.

Q: I’m sure Coach Judge had a lot of conversations with Coach Saban about you. I’m wondering if you had any conversations with Coach Saban about Coach Judge and if he kind of helped you understand what you’re getting yourself into here?

A: No, I actually haven’t talked to Coach Saban about Coach Judge. I didn’t even know, I just kind of found out pretty recently that Coach Judge coached at Bama. I didn’t know. But now that I know they pretty much…there’s a lot of things that are going to be similar to how it was at school, and that’s how I like it. I’m very excited for the opportunity.

Q: How surprised were you that you were drafted today and not yesterday?

A: Very surprised. Of course, I thought I was going to get drafted yesterday, but you know, it is what it is. I’m happy to be a Giant and that’s all that matters right now.

Q: Joe Judge told us a story earlier that two years ago in the spring he was scouting some other guys for Alabama and he remembers the impression that you left on him then in practice, kind of being all over the field. Throughout this process, even going back one to two years, were you conscious of the fact that all eyes were on you and things that you did two years ago may come to help you on draft night?

A: No, not really. I’m a type of guy that tries to focus on what’s going on right now. At that point in time, I was focused on the season, I was focused on winning, trying to win a national championship. So for me, I was always trying to do the right thing for myself but not only for myself, but for my teammates. I wasn’t too much focused on all the things that would come later on down the road because I didn’t know what would come. I always try to do the right thing and try to set myself up to be in the best position as possible.

Q: I noticed on Twitter that Jabrill Peppers had reached out to you. I didn’t know if you had a previous relationship with him, if you know him at all, and what do you think about being on the back end with a guy like that?

A: Yeah, I actually followed him when he was coming out because he was also a safety that played a lot of positions in college when he came out. I’m a big fan of him, I watch his game. I actually haven’t been able to see that he reached out, I’ve got to check that. But, I’m excited and I’m ready to see what’s in store for me when I get up to New York.

Q: You said you thought you’d get picked in the first round. How much do you think the 40 (yard dash) time hurt you and can you explain how you got cramps or just what happened at the combine?

A: I don’t know how much it hurt me. To be honest, I really don’t care that much about the 40 anyways. I think like I’ve said before, my tape says it all. It’s something that outweighs the 40 anyways because, of course, I play way faster than what that 40 said. But when I did run the 40, I did have cramps. A lot of it was due to just the setup of how the combine was, things that I wasn’t necessarily prepared for or didn’t really know how the schedule would be. But you know, it is what it is. Everything happens for a reason. Like I’ve said before, I’m excited for this moment and I’m excited to be a Giant.

Q: What have the coaches told you about the defense and how you might fit into the defense? How do you think your skill set is going to complement Jabrill Peppers?

A: I’m not sure much about the defense right now. When I talked to the staff previously, we weren’t really talking much about football. It was more about them trying to get to know me and who I was off the field. We haven’t gotten into much depth about what is going to happen on the field. As far as what my role might be, of course, I don’t know. I am able to adjust to anything that is thrown at me and I’m ready for whatever they might want me to do. I think I can do anything that they ask me for. I’m ready for the moment.

Q: Those battles at practice where you saw Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs, do you think that makes all of you that much better coming into the NFL and if so, how?

A: I think so. Like I said before, those are first round guys as you have seen yesterday. Being able to compete against those guys at that level has been helpful for me and the people around me. I think that helps a lot going into the NFL. A lot of times in the NFL you will see guys like that every week instead of just one week and then you get a rest week where you may not have the best receiver like it is in college. In the NFL, there’s going to be good receivers week in and week out. It helps, it helped me prepare and get ready for this moment.

Q: Do you pride yourself on being a playmaker?

A: I do. I just try to make as many plays for my team as I can. I like to put my teammates in the best position possible in whatever way that I can to help the team be successful in any part of the game. Whether that’s special teams, whether that’s playing on defense, wherever it is, I try to make sure I put my teammates in the best possible situation that we can be in. I do pride myself on being a playmaker.

Q: You played for Nick Saban, who runs a tight ship, an authoritative coach, what he says goes. Joe Judge has started off here running a similar program. How do you thrive in a program where the head coach has a strong personality and where there is a ton of structure to how they want things to run?

A: I’m good with structure. It’s never been a problem for me, it wasn’t a problem when I went into school as a freshman. Those are the things that I like a lot. I actually love having that structure and having that strict almost tight ship being ran by the coaches. For me, I always do what I’m asked to do, and I try to do it at a high level. At the end of the day, I’m just trying to win. I’ll do whatever it takes to be able to win games and anything I can to help.

Q: First of all, I just want to make sure everyone in your family is healthy. How have you been able to keep in shape? How do you plan on moving forward with that plan in the next couple of weeks before you can get up here?

A: Everybody is doing well. I have been following the restrictions and certain stuff that we can and cannot do. I’ve still been able to jog around the neighborhood or do some yoga in the house. I’ve still been able to do some position work on the field. I’m still trying to restrict it as much as I can so it’s not all the time. I want to keep everyone else around me safe.

Q: The Cowboys picked Travon Diggs and the Eagles picked Jalen Hurts. What’s that going to be like in these NFC East battles with you going against two of your former teammates?

A: It’s going to be fun. Those are my guys, I actually just talked to Tray today and I talked to Jalen, I think, a couple days ago. Those are my guys, it’s definitely going to be fun. I’m going to be really excited to see them and play against them again.

Q: Do the Alabama guys take those battles pretty seriously?

A: Yeah, we do. Even in practice whenever we are going against each other. Me and Tray were on the same side, but we always competed to see who got the most picks for the day and we also did it for the game. We definitely take those very seriously and it gets really competitive.

Q: I’m sure you ran the 40 at Alabama and you did it in your training. Was your time significantly better (than the combine)?

A: Yeah, for sure. The time that I ran at the combine, that was a fake time. I caught cramps before I actually ran. That was actually my worst time throughout the whole process. My best time was a 4.52 when I was training. If I got to do the pro day, I thought I was going to run a good time. I’m not too worried about the 40. That’s why I didn’t run it again. I knew my tape said it all and I didn’t have anything to prove running the 40. There was no reason for me to do that.

Q: Do you look at yourself as a free safety or strong safety? Do you put that label on yourself?

A: I consider myself a DB. A DB is somebody that can play safety, free safety, corner, slot nickel, anywhere. I’m a versatile DB, that’s what I consider myself.

Scouting Report on Matt Peart: The 6’6”, 310-pound Peart was a 4-year starter in college with experience at both tackle spots. Peart combines excellent size, long arms, and good overall athletic ability. He has the frame to get bigger and he needs to get stronger. Right now he is a better pass protector than run blocker. He could play with more meanness to his game. Team leader.

Sy’56’s Take on Matt Peart: Fifth year senior from Kingston, Jamaica. A four year starter who never missed a game. 1st Team All AAC honors as a senior. Peart is relatively new to the game, as he didn’t play football until he started high school. He is a physically gifted player who, when his feet are in the right place, showed dominant traits. He has incredibly strong hands with long arms and an athletic base, he simply just needs to hammer away at his lower body mechanics until they become more natural and consistent. If and when that happens, he is a starting caliber player.

*I did a quick recap of who Gettleman selected in his career as GM along the offensive line. One glaring tendency was his desire for length at tackle. Well, here you go. Peart has the longest arms in the class and the widest frame. Throw in the fact that he has a decently athletic lower body, and there is a chance he is going to hear his name called in round 2. NYG is going to like him, I’m sure of it. How much? Not sure. I personally see a guy who won’t be a factor in year one and he is going to need to really hammer away at lower body mechanics and power. I couldn’t get past the 4th/5th round tier but I can see why some are higher on him because of the ceiling.

Media Q&A with General Manager Dave Gettleman and Head Coach Joe Judge:

Dave Getttleman: The Peart kid that we took at the bottom of three is long, he’s big. He’s a 315-pound kid that’s skinny. We interviewed him a number of times, he’s a great kid. He’s athletic and he’s long and we think he has a lot of upside for a young kid. He’s a guy that the coaching staff really wanted to work with.

Joe Judge: I second what Dave said. It’s rare to describe someone as 315 pounds and skinny, but that’s what he is. He’s an athletic guy, he has a lot of length to him. We feel good about his character and his work ethic. He’s excited to come on in here and work hard and we can’t wait to get him on the field.

Q: Why did you guys decide to pick another tackle instead of going with a center? I know you guys have been talking about center?

Gettleman: It’s about value. He was too good of a value to pass by. We had him rated well above the rest of the other centers on our board.

Q: What kind of a ceiling does this kid have?

Gettleman: I think he has a sizeable ceiling. He’s young, he’s really got a lot of talent. We really like the upside on him.

Q: Joe, you talked to us the other day about projecting how players will be two or three years down the road. Is this one of those players for you?

Judge: I think they are all one of those players for me. He definitely has a lot of upside. I don’t want to say he is developmental, he is developing, and they all are. He’s got tremendous work ethic, he’s got a great attitude. I think we are going to see a lot better football in the future than we’ve seen from him already. That’s what makes us really excited to work with these guys that we’re bringing in.

Q: Is it too early in his development to know if he is a more natural left or right tackle?

Judge: I think his athleticism is going to lend him to being a swing tackle early on in his career and work on both sides. We don’t want to limit any of our guys to just play on one side. We have to cross train everybody. If you play on the left side, you have to be able to play on the right side as well. That’s going to go ahead and lend to what we need based on roster situation and game plans.

Q: Are you still looking for a center?

Gettleman: We are just going to work the board.

Q: What was it like having this long gap between picks? I know you did it last year. What was the feeling when the Jets were on the clock at 68?

Gettleman: I mean, it’s a long time between picks. We’re at 36 and then it’s 99, so you’ve got 54 picks, multiply it times five minutes, it’s a long time, you know? We made the decision last year on that, on the third round pick, and we’re fine.

Q: This is a guy who did not play football in high school, but he never missed a snap in college. Do you see some of that rawness of a guy who came to the game late that interests you that you can work with in a guy like this?

Judge: I always like having athletic players who you don’t feel like are tapped out. I said earlier, he’s developing – meaning, this guy has got a skill set, he’s still learning. I think we’ve got the right line coach to go ahead and work with him between (Offensive Line Coach) Marc (Colombo) and (Assistant Offensive Line Coach) Ben (Wilkerson). This guy’s got tremendous upside. His athleticism, his physical build and then just his character and work ethic. You put those things together and these are guys you really want to work with.

Q: You had a long wait tonight, but you have a pretty quick turnaround tomorrow getting ready. How do you guys handle this? Do you try to get together tonight and map out what’s on the board for tomorrow and what plans you’re going to do, or do you wait until tomorrow to get together? Do you have a couple of guys that you are kind of eyeing already for that fourth round pick?

Gettleman: We’ll talk a little bit tonight and, really and truly, it’ll be interesting to see if we get calls because we’re picking so early tomorrow. We’ll have a conference, we’ll get together tomorrow morning well in advance to give us a chance to really talk and figure out what we want to do. So, we’ll spend time tonight and tomorrow.

Q: You told us earlier that you weren’t going to dip into next year for picks to move up, but if there was somebody on your board you might be tempted to do something. Was there anyone on your board at a certain spot that you were tempted to move up or were you content to stay at 99?

Gettleman: No, we were fine because, again, I wasn’t going to dip into next year and that’s what we would’ve had to have done. So, we were fine. We’re fine. We just got a really good value with Matt Peart. He’s a solid prospect and we got a really good value.

Media Q&A with Matt Peart:

Q: Can you take us through last night? How surprised were you when you got the call and was this a destination on your radar?

A: When I got the call, it was definitely a big surreal feeling. My mom started going crazy. I had family members do a Zoom call like this and they were going crazy over the computer. So it was just a great time being able to experience everyone that’s near and dear to my heart just happy and joyous for the moment. Growing up, I always wanted to be a Giant and I’m just happy to put on the blue. It still feels so surreal to me and I’m just looking forward to the future.

Q: Are you in the Bronx? Is that where you are with your family?

A: No, we moved a year ago, so I’m in Fishkill, New York.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about growing up a Giants fan? I know you were rooting for them when you were going to high school up in New England.

A: I came from Jamaica at a young age and growing up in New York, I kind of fell in love with the Knicks and then also the Giants soon after that. Just watching them on the TV, just the culture and everything the Giants stand for was something that was appealing for me as a young kid. Especially growing up, especially that moment in high school when they had that Super Bowl win my freshman year. That was a very, very fun time for me.

Q: Did you have a favorite offensive lineman or a favorite player?

A: My favorite player, my favorite Giant always would be Eli Manning, for sure. The man is just tough, tough as nails. I respect his game and I just respect everything he does for the game. You know, he’s definitely my favorite Giant, 100 percent.

Q: I just wanted to ask a little bit more about your journey. You were born in Jamaica, then you came to the Bronx, I’m guessing, pretty young. Then how do you end up at a private boarding school and then from there end up getting into football, since I know that wasn’t your first sport?

A: So getting into the boarding school, I got into a program called the Oliver Scholars program. It was actually based out of the Tri-State area. They take high-achieving kids in the Tri-State area and allow them to go to independent day schools and boarding schools that they coordinate with through the program. Governor’s (Academy) was one of the schools on that list of all of the schools. So, having that connection allowed me to go to the private school.

Q: Then how did you get into football, because I think I read that you were more of a basketball player when you first got there?

A: Yeah, mainly because I grew up in the Bronx. You know, Jamaicans call it ‘The Concrete Jungle,’ so it’s easier to pick up a ball and shoot some hoops because there weren’t really that many fields open. Going to Governor’s Academy and having an opportunity to be exposed to the sport was actually the first time I really got exposed to the sport.

Q: How old were you when you moved to the Bronx?

A: When I was about four or five.

Q: How did you end up at Connecticut and with your size, were you recruited by some bigger schools?

A: Connecticut was my biggest offer coming out of high school. Like I said, I started the transition relatively late, so UConn had offered me a week before signing day. Before that, SUNY-Albany was my first offer, they offered me for offensive tackle. Then UConn offered me a week before signing day. The day I committed to UConn, UNH came up to offer me. But they knew I was going to UConn, so they never extended that offer.

Q: You’re kind of listed by the experts as this kid who’s got raw talent. How much of a project do you think you are?

A: Whenever I think about that, it just means that I just want to dedicate myself to be a better student of the game and wherever I need to improve, you best believe I’m willing to do the work, and I’m ready to work right now. That’s all I can speak on that one.

Q: What was your first call like with Dave Gettleman and Joe Judge? Did they talk to at all about what their plans are for you?

A: Like I said, just getting that phone call was very surreal. I’m just trying to grasp the moment still, it still feels a little bit surreal right now. I’m just ready to do the work. With those conversations, I don’t really delve into private conversations. Just know that I am ready to work and ready to prove that I belong to be a Giant and ready to earn everything.

Q: Can you expand a little bit on how basketball has helped you with the offensive line? Especially with playing both sides as you have.

A: I feel like when it comes to basketball, you have to have real fine footwork. I really feel like that helped correlate on the field when it comes to football. Being a post player, you have to be able to have good footwork to work in the post. It’s just what you have to have. I really feel like that helped me correlate over to football. Just being a tough and dominant player in the post as well helped me be a dominant football player as well.

Q: How is your family doing health wise?

A: The main part of my family is all in New York. My eldest brother is in Albany right now with his wife. My second eldest brother is in the Bronx with his wife, they’re actually expecting a baby. Everyone is taking the proper precautions right now. Everyone is safe, thank God. I just want to thank everyone that’s dedicating their time and efforts during this time just to help ease the pain now, so we have a better tomorrow. We’re just taking the precautions that are recommended and doing everything we need to do to make sure we are living up to the standards of the quarantine rules.

Q: How have you been able to stay in shape and how do you plan to move forward with that?

A: Right now, I am coordinating with a strength coach. He is based out of New Jersey. It’s called Parisi’s. They’re able to give me workouts through an app and that’s what I have been doing during this time, finding ways to get after it. Since I’m in upstate, I can always find a little patch of grass so I can work on my offensive line technique. I may look crazy out there, but I have to do what I have to do.

Q: I just wanted to ask you about Andrew Thomas. Do you know him at all, do you have a relationship with him? What do you think of his game? How much are you looking forward to playing on the same line as him, hopefully for years to come?

A: Andrew and I were training at the same facility, EXOS down in Pensacola, Florida, before the combine. He’s an amazing tackle, he’s a real true talent when it comes to offensive line play. I definitely picked up some things from him with my time down there. Staying down there with the small time we had, I definitely consider him to be a brother and now he’s definitely a brother right now. He can’t get rid of me now. I’m looking forward to it and I’m happy he’s coming to the city.

Apr 242020
 
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Andrew Thomas, Georgia Bulldogs (November 2, 2019)

Andrew Thomas – © USA TODAY Sports

With the 4th pick in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected offensive tackle Andrew Thomas (University of Georgia).

Scouting ReportThe 6’5”, 315-pound Thomas is a junior entry, but three-year starter at Georgia with experience at both tackle positions. Big frame with very long arms. Thomas is a tough, strong, physical run blocker who can get movement at the point-of-attack. He is athletic enough to get to the second level and works to finish his blocks. Thomas is a good athlete and he flashes excellent pass protection skills, but he needs to improve his overall technique and consistency in that department. Team leader.

Sy’56’s Take on Andrew Thomas: When I look at who Dave Gettleman has drafted in the past at the offensive tackle position, Thomas looks like that guy. Big, thick, long-armed and really physical. He is a really fun player to watch when he’s pissed off. He moves guys into another zip code as a run blocker, he really gets after guys in space, and he finishes. The issues here are two-fold. His effort isn’t consistent and that is the number one red flag. In the intense moments, big games…etc. Thomas gets after it. But too many times throughout the past two seasons I saw a guy who simply tried to get by on talent. The second issue, he looks like a train wreck in pass protection at times. He struggles to reach his point against speed and he shows his numbers to the ground too often. While his power and reach can partially make up for it, he simply needs to get better there or he will get eaten alive by the top end pass rushers. I’ll end with this: Thomas at his absolute best is better than Wirfs and Wills. But do you want to gamble on his work ethic and lack of athletic ability? More power to you if you do, but I only want him if it meant NYG traded down and the two guys above were off the board.

Video Breakdown by Shaun O’Hara: Giants Draft Andrew Thomas: INSTANT Analysis (VIDEO)

Media Q&A with General Manager Dave Gettleman and Head Coach Joe Judge:

Dave Gettleman: First off, I hope everybody is well and your families are fine. We spent a lot of time on this and we want to fix this offensive line once and for all. Andrew certainly has a hell of a pedigree, a three-year starter in the Southeast Conference. He’s played against some real quality defensive ends during his college career. He has played big time ball in front of a lot of people. We spent a lot of time with him off the field as well, numerous conversations. We spoke to him in Indianapolis and we just feel he is ready to make this jump. He’s young, like all these guys are. We feel very strongly that he is ready and capable. He’s going to come in and compete, nothing is being handed to him. When I get the chance to talk to him later, I am going to say the same thing to him that I said to Saquon and that I said to Daniel, you have to come in and compete, nothing is getting handed to you. He’s big, he’s long, he’s strong, he can bend. He can anchor in pass (protection). He’s very athletic in the open field, we are just really excited to have him, and continue to build this team properly.

Joe Judge: I think Dave really hit it on the head. This was a very talented draft class, especially on the offensive line. This is definitely one that we think is going to give us a chance to come in and improve us overall. He has a skillset that gives him a chance to come in and compete early on. We are anxious to get to work with him, get our hands on him and get going. He has the right demeanor, the right makeup. I’ve talked on the front end about a lot guys, the whole process of this. Not being able to be on campuses, not having the luxury of pro days or 30 visits coming to our facility. You had to rely on your contacts, and this is someone that a lot of people I am close with had worked directly with. There was a lot of good knowledge that could sign off on and know what we were bringing in to add to our team. This is definitely a guy we are excited about getting in and getting a chance to work with and giving him a chance to compete with the rest of our guys.

Q: Was there a defining characteristic or two that elevated Andrew over the other tackles?

Judge: It had nothing to do with the other guys that were in this draft. This is all about Andre right now. I’ll tell you what, his skillset favors his opportunity to come in and contribute. He’s long, he’s a good athlete, he has good short area redirect. One thing that sticks out about him is when you watch the top pass rushers, with the exception of maybe a couple in this draft, they have to go against him. You watch his college tape and he is going against all the guys that you are going to see get drafted in the next couple of days. He does a heck of job on them, you see him compete, you see him play big in big games and that’s important. He was coached very hard at the University of Georgia and that’s a trait we look for. Guys who can play hard and play on big stages and compete.

Q: A lot of people viewed Thomas as the premier pass protector in the class. How much did that factor into your decision and how much does that benefit Daniel Jones?

Gettleman: The length that he has is really a defining feature that he has physically. You turn around and you see the guys that don’t have as much length, shorter arms, shorter people and the defensive ends with long arms get them. A big part of it is, I’m a wise guy sometimes with you folks, and I have done a study and I say it’s tougher to complete passes when the guy is on his back. I think that was a big part of it. I have always gotten a chuckle out of people who say you draft a quarterback and you have to get him weapons. No, you don’t draft a quarterback and then get weapons, once you draft a quarterback, you get guys in front of him that will keep him upright. So, this was an important piece for us in Daniel’s development and for Saquon, as well. Don’t forget the running part of it, and he is a hell of a run blocker.

Q: How much discussion was there about trading down? If Andrew was the top guy on your board, were you reluctant to not get a chance to get him?

Gettleman: We had conversations, but everyone was touchy-feely, maybe yes, maybe no. There were no firm offers anywhere. There is nothing that made me look at John Mara and Joe (Judge) and say let’s trade back and get some more picks. There really wasn’t much there. You can see we haven’t had a trade in the first round yet, how often does that happen? There wasn’t a lot of action.

Q: Did Thomas’ experience on both sides, left and right, factor into the decision?

Gettleman: That’s a piece of it, absolutely. Absolutely. He has legitimate…you know he started on the right side as a puppy and two years at left. One of the things that kind of helped the process along is the other day I took a look at his 2018 game when they played Kentucky and he played Josh Allen, and you guys know I’ve got a lot of love for Josh Allen and how talented he is. That really, that was big. As Joe said, he’s played against a lot of legitimate pass rushers and he’s done well.

Q: You mentioned your contacts and you kind of exhausted those, I would imagine. Three of the four (tackles), we were able to connect dots on the offensive linemen that you may have had connections to. Did it make it more difficult because you had a lot of resources giving you tips and insight into, not just Andrew, but a bunch of guys? Or did you kind of narrow that down pretty quickly early on?

Judge: Well, the tape gives you the initial impression of what you’re looking for and then what you use all of the information when you talk to the coaches is really to fill in any gaps you may not know about personality, work ethic, how they respond to hard coaching, and then also to really confirm what you’ve seen on the tape as well. Listen, the one thing is I have very good contacts at all of these places with all the top guys. I have a good enough relationship where they’re not trying to sell me a product, they know if the guy is good enough, he’s going to get paid to play somewhere and they are very directly honest with me. I don’t get just the good on guys. They give me, ‘hey, these are the things he’s gonna have to work on, these are the things you have to know about how he responds personality wise’, and that’s all very important. I would say this overall, we exhausted the process and all of the top prospects at different positions, but you look at those offensive linemen, which definitely came into consideration with this pick, all of them have got great traits, they were coached very well, they are going to be tremendous pros, I have nothing but great things to say about all of them. But we’re doing what’s best for the Giants and we feel this move is best for the New York Giants right now. I think this is going to be a tremendous move right now to help Daniel (Jones) play more confident back there, not that he needs that, but he can sit back and be protected and we’ve got to go ahead and be more stiff. I talk all of the time, you have to run the ball, you have to stop the run, you have to cover kicks, so we’ve got to add to our run blocking as well to give ourselves a chance to get going on the ground.

Q: Where do you plan on starting him? Do you expect him to play both sides or would you like to start him on one side and then maybe test the other or how do you plan on handling that?

Judge: The good thing about both of our tackles, really all of our tackles, they played on both sides. If you look across the board, everyone on our depth chart right now has played on the right and the left. Everyone is going to come in on Day One and compete and as they shake out, whether that demonstrates being a starter at whatever position, that’s where they’ll fall. We went into this with several players we all thought had the ability to go on both sides, right or left. We made a decision that we’re going to let training camp figure that out. We’re not going to have a pre-conceived notion right now of trying to plug someone in. We have a lot of talented guys, they have to compete. This is not a finish line. This is a starting point. He needs to come in, he has to earn it every day, he has to work like every player we had this week in will. But everyone will get the chance to compete, and training camp will really sort out how they fall.

Q: My impression of that is you said he’s going to compete on both sides to start?

Judge: He will compete on both sides, that’s correct. As will all of our tackles. They’ve all got versatility on both sides.

Q: Dave, a lot of people saw you put a mask on tonight in your house. This is a unique time in our country’s history, what made you do that tonight and are you concerned about this virus?

Gettleman: Well, I’ve got a young IT fellow in here with me and we’re social distancing and part of that is the mask. I’m fine.

Media Q&A with Andrew Thomas:

Q: How big of a surprise was this to go four and to go to the Giants? What was your interaction with them throughout?

A: Yeah, so I had a couple Zoom calls with them (in) this process and I had a formal meeting with them down at the combine. But I was excited to get the call, it came like three minutes before the pick. I just thank God for the blessing.

Q: Did you think beforehand that this was a possible landing point for you, and what was your reaction when you realized you were going to end up in New York?

A: I really didn’t know where I was going to end up. But when they made the call, I was obviously excited. I’m ready to get to work and get down to New York.

Q: Have you had a chance to process blocking for Daniel Jones and opening up running lanes for Saquon Barkley? What is fitting into an offense with this kind of talent around you, what do you think you can bring to that scheme and bring to the Giants?

A: I’ll do my best to protect the quarterback, open up lanes. It’s a blessing to be able to play with guys as talented as they are.

Q: How exciting is it be joining a team with so many young, talented players, especially on offense like Saquon, like Daniel Jones, Darius Slayton. Are you looking forward to growing with a group like that?

A: Definitely. Those guys are very talented. I’ll be looking up to those guys to teach me the ropes, working hard to help the program.

Q: Washington drafted Chase Young at two overall. The Giants took you to protect Daniel Jones and Saquon, but also to go up against guys like Chase Young. Joe Judge said in large part the Giants drafted you because of your ability against top pass rushers. What’s your confidence level going against guys like Chase Young and top pass rushers around the league?

A: Confidence comes with preparation, understanding the playbook, learning from the vets week in and week out. Going against guys that have been playing in the league for 10 years, who are very good at what they do, so for me, it’s a mental thing and like I said, having confidence in myself for my preparation.

Q: Dave (Gettleman) talked about watching you go up against Josh Allen and some of the top pass rushers in the SEC. I’m curious who the toughest pass rusher you’ve played against was and how it’s going to prepare you for going up against the Chase Youngs and DeMarcus Lawrences and Brandon Grahams of the world?

A: Yeah, playing in the SEC, I’ve gone against a few pretty good pass rushers. Like I said, week in and week out, you have to be prepared going against guys like Josh Allen, (K’Lavon) Chaisson this year was a pretty good rusher. It just prepares you a little bit for what you’re going to see in the NFL.

Q: Can you talk about your versatility, the opportunity to play left and right tackle and how that’s prepared you for this level?

A: Yeah, at Georgia I started off at right tackle as a freshman and made the transition my sophomore year. I played at left tackle for the next two years. I think that definitely helps. Having experience playing both sides will be something that will be an asset for me.

Q: I see you have the nice New York Giants hat there. How many hats did you have there just in case?

A: The NFL sent us a package with 32 hats for all the teams. Just in case you got picked, you had the hat ready.

Q: What are you going to do with the other ones?

A: Probably give them to my friends.

Q: Who was with you tonight to share your special moment?

A: Immediate family, my agent, my mentor and a few of my close friends just to be here celebrating with me.

Q: Who is your mentor?

A: His name is Kevin Johnson. He was my offensive line coach at Pace Academy.

Q: I know you said you wanted to learn a lot from Daniel and Saquon. What kind of responsibility do you feel towards them? You are the guy they brought in to be Daniel’s protector and to open holes for Saquon.

A: For me, I’m just focusing on what I can control and that’s just getting better. It’s hard to tell with the pandemic but just moving forward (focus on) communicating with the team, learning the playbook and doing what I can to stay in shape so I can be prepared when I have to step on the field.

Q:  Going into tonight, did it matter to you to be the number one tackle off the board?

A: Definitely, I work hard every day to be the best. I don’t understand why you would play this game if you don’t want to be the best. It definitely meant something.

Q: Were you pretty confident that that was the way it was going to end up?

A: I wasn’t sure exactly how it was going to go. You never know with the draft. I thank God for blessing me and putting me in this position.

Q:  There was lot of conversation about who was the best tackle. What did you think of it and how much did you hear about it?

A: Obviously you see it with social media and things like that. For me, I just try to focus on what I can control. I can’t control what other guys may do or what the media may say. All I can do is work on my craft and do what I need to do to be prepared when I step on the field.

Q: Were you surprised by the perception that people had?

A: No, people are entitled to their own opinion. For me, it’s just a matter of what the coaches think of me and definitely what my teammates think of me.

Q: What are your next couple of weeks and months going to look like? How have you been able to deal with this and is everybody in your family healthy?

A: My family is doing well, thanks for asking. I was blessed to be able to train at Dash performance, I have a relationship with the owner there. It’s shut down to the public, but he lets me and my trainer come in there and get some work in to try to stay in shape.

Q: Dave Gettleman mentioned your matchup with Josh Allen from two years ago. Coming out of that matchup, was there more confidence that you gained out of going up against him considering he ended up as the seventh overall pick.

A: Definitely, I’m a competitor. I want to go up against the best guys and test my limits against them. Going up against him and having a pretty good game meant a lot to me. I put in a lot of hard work to get there.

Q: What is more rewarding, keeping a guy from touching the quarterback or grinding it out on the ground the way you guys did?

A: I would probably say grinding it out on the ground. I definitely want to protect the quarterback, but the run game, I love it.

Q: You have a couple of your former college teammates up here. What’s your relationship like with Lorenzo Carter and DeAndre Baker like?

A: I remember being a freshman with Zo being a senior here. It’s going to be exciting to be back with him. With D-Bake, I talk to him every now and then. I’m excited to get in the locker room and be with those guys again.

Q: Were you in touch with them during the process at all?

A: Not really, but I know Lorenzo hit me up right after I got drafted, so I will probably talk to him later today.

Apr 222020
 
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Leonard Williams, New York Giants (November 4, 2019)

Leonard Williams – © USA TODAY Sports

LEONARD WILLIAMS SIGNS HIS FRANCHISE TAG TENDER…
New York Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams has signed his 1-year, $16.126 million Franchise Tag tender. Williams is now under contract for the 2020 season. The Giants and Williams can continue to negotiate a long-term deal if they choose to do so.

The Giants acquired Williams by trade from the New York Jets in late October 2019. He played in eight games for the Giants with five starts, finishing with 26 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 2 pass defenses, and 1 forced fumble.

The 6’5”, 302-pound Williams was the sixth player taken overall in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Jets. In four and a half seasons with the Jets, Williams started 70 games, accruing 240 tackles, 17 sacks, one interception, and two forced fumbles. His best season was 2016, when he was credited with 68 tackles and seven sacks. A very good run defender, Williams has not been able to generate a consistent pass rush in his five-year pro career.

Apr 172020
 
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Dave Gettleman, New York Giants (November 10, 2019)

Dave Gettleman – © USA TODAY Sports

DAVE GETTLEMAN AND CHRIS PETTIT PRE-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman and Director of College Scout Chris Pettit addressed the media by conference call on Friday in advance of next week’s NFL Draft.

Dave Gettleman: Good afternoon. Hope everybody is still well, safe and healthy, including your family. As I spoke to you guys a few days ago and as I said then, the process we have is really going well. Everybody’s really strapped it on and just done a great job. Our IT people Justin Warren, (Vice President of Information Technology) and his group, and Ty Siam (Football Operations/Analytics), Ed Triggs (Football Operations Coordinator) and Chris Pettit and the college scouts. Everybody has really chipped in and done a great job. Of course with Joe (Judge) and his staff as well. So we’re really pleased with where we’re at in the process. We’re starting to tidy things up and put a bow on it. Like I said, everybody’s putting in the old man’s work. We’re certainly going to be prepared. For what it’s worth, I’m on with Chris Pettit our Director of College Scouting.

Chris Pettit: Hey guys, thanks for having me. I just wanted to give a thank you, since I didn’t get to speak to you the other day, our First Responders, our medical professionals, all the essential workers who have helped us out at this time. Also, just want to thank, as Dave mentioned, our IT department, our trainers, our coaches, our scouts, have just been outstanding to set us up for next week. Really thankful for everybody.

Q: Given the impact that COVID-19 has had with cancelling pro days and all of that stuff, how much more valuable was it to you that Joe (Judge) hired a bunch of coaches from the college ranks and they have that vast network, not just the guys they coached but the guys that they coached against?
Gettleman: I’ll tell you what, it’s a big help. If you think about it, we hired (Former University of Alabama Running Backs Coach) Burton Burns, Joe hired Burton to coach the running backs and he’s been at Alabama, so just think about all of the insight we get into the ‘Bama kids. Obviously a number of our coaches are coming directly from the Southeastern Conference. So, you’ve got great contacts. It’s very helpful, it gives you insight, all of the information. Our college scouts do a great job of digging out information, so between the information the college scouts have, and Burton, and fellas like that that we’ve hired that are coming from college, it sure really gives us a good in.

Q: Last time we spoke to you about the draft was probably back at the combine, you spoke about how you’re open for business and considering trading back. I’m wondering with the logistics that are going to be in place on Thursday and the craziness and everything like that, how does that impact trade talks? Would you need to have a deal in place before you get to the first round, probably more than other years where you could do it on the fly?
Gettleman: I think really, obviously, we’re sitting there with the fourth pick in the draft. It’s got to happen pretty soon. I’m going to make calls and anybody that wants to move up I’m going to say, listen, we don’t have much time, we can’t fool around, and I’d like to get the parameters of deals in place, of the deal in place before we get on the clock. That would be the best thing. You know the NFL is going to have a mock draft on Monday, I’m sure you guys are aware of that. So, that’ll be an interesting thing to see how it works. Again, the biggest piece is making sure that we, meaning the Giants, are coordinated in how we’re going to approach the trade process. You know, we’ll have two veteran guys on it, so I think we’ll be fine. Obviously once you hit the third round you only have five minutes. It’s going to be tight to try to do that, to try to trade back or trade up. I think what’s going to happen, what this is going to force everybody to do, is do deals before their pick is up. So, let’s say for the sake of discussion, someone calls, one team calls another team and says, “I want to trade up.” They’ll make a deal off the clock and then if the guy is there for the team that wants to move up, then they’ll consummate the trade. So ,I think a lot of it’s going to be done ahead of time.

Q: I’m sure you’re made aware, obviously, that you’ve never traded back but you’ve traded up in the past. I’m curious, when you’ve made those trades do you use the Jimmy Johnson chart or do you guys have your own version of that? What do you use as a tool to determine what’s a good value in a trade?
Gettleman: You know, it’s funny. It’s one of those if you think about, if you and I walk into a dealership and buy the same car, we’re going to pay two different prices. But, if we feel good about it, who cares what you paid and you don’t care what I paid. The Jimmy Johnson chart, people have moved off of it to a certain degree. A little bit here, a little bit there. So, when you talk to someone, it’s one of those deals where you say to yourself, “Why don’t we all agree on one chart?” That might make too much sense. So, there’s three or four different variations and what you do is, if someone calls you up and their chart doesn’t match yours and they make an offer and you don’t think it’s a good deal, you don’t do it. It’s that simple. If both groups are motivated, you’ll come to some kind of conclusion.

Q: What is your Thursday night going to look like? Obviously you’re going to be home, there’s no one else around you from the Giants…you have to coordinate all of this, right? Can you take us through step-by-step, do you get the first word and do you then open it up to Dave and to Kevin (Abrams) and to the scouts and to Joe? How do you coordinate all of this?
Pettit: Really, everything is going to be done and treated the same way that we’ve done it our last two drafts together. Really nothing is different, just we’re not in the same room. We’ve kind of gone over some scenarios already, we’re going to be set up in different Zoom rooms and we’ll be able to have the same conversations we’ve had every year in the past just that we’re doing it from our homes, that’s the only thing different. But, everyone’s going to have the same voice that they’ve always had. It’s been a good process. We’ve taken some steps, especially this last week, honing it to getting it right to where we feel comfortable to make the right decision in the same way we would if we were sitting in our office in East Rutherford.

Q: I know you’ve rethought a couple of things you used to think, like negotiating contracts in season. I’m wondering if you’ve given any thought to rethinking the best player available. This is a hypothetical, if a guy is a 98 (grade) on your board, is he the pick? Or if a guy is a 96 (grade) but at a more valuable position of need can he be the pick? Will you consider need a little bit more than you have in the past?
Gettleman: When you’re splitting hairs, it’s okay to take the 96 instead of the 98. Because really what you’re doing is you’re splitting hairs. It’s when you have a 98 and then you’ve got an 88. That’s not splitting hairs anymore. Even if the 88 is the bigger position of need, once you start reaching you’ve created issues for yourself. Part of it too, you can never have too many great players at one position. That doesn’t scare me, it doesn’t bother me. What you’re trying to do is build the best roster you can. So, when you’re talking a 96 to a 98, that to me is not a big deal. It’s when you start dropping, when you have precipitous drops in your evaluation, that’s when you get into trouble.

Q: There is usually a top tier of players, around where is that point that you guys think there is a drop off in this draft?
Gettleman: This is a pretty good draft. It really is. There’s a couple of positions, there’s a few positions that are really thick with players. You can’t put a number on that. Are you asking me, does it really drop off after 15 players, does it really drop off after 25 players, I can’t really speak to that. But, I just know that it’s a good draft and really and truly as we’ve set our board just taking a look at it, we’ve got about the same number of players in every round that we had in last year’s draft, which was a hell of a draft. You can’t say that if you’re not picking in the top 15 you’re in trouble. You can’t say that.

Q: Is there a point at the top where those guys are so good that maybe there’s a group of five, six, eight or ten that are significantly graded than everybody else?
Gettleman: No, we’ve got a pretty good first round in terms of a spread. It’s a good group. It’s a really good group. So, no there’s not. There’s not two players, ten players…I can’t give you a number.

Q: I’m curious your thoughts overall on the offensive tackle class and when you’re evaluating these guys how much versatility plays into that? Does it matter that a guy is able to play both left and right or are you just looking to try and come away with the best guy at that position?
Gettleman: Well, I think that versatility certainly doesn’t hurt. But, it’s a thick group. I think I mentioned it on Monday. There are tackles throughout the draft, throughout the vertical…we call it our vertical. There’s a lot of talent there. Is it helpful if a guy played both? Absolutely. Is it fatal if he’s only played one? Certainly not. If you have a tackle need and need meets value, then you know you work through it. You say to yourself, “This is a good tackle,” whether he’s a left or a right and you take him. It’s certainly no different than any other position. If he’s a good corner, whether he’s a right or a left, a good linebacker, whatever — you just take the guy. So to answer your question, versatility is really a plus but it’s not fatal if a guy is not.

Q: Where does the final decision lie? Is it you? If the coaches want somebody and you want somebody else, how does that get resolved?
Gettleman: It’s a New York Giants decision. That’s what it is. It’s completely collaborative. We just talk it through. That’s all there is to it. We just talk through it. This is my eighth, ninth draft, and I’ve never had a big difference of opinion with a head coach. We talk it through, we discuss it. It’s about coming to a consensus. We’re not arm wrestling to decide who gets their way. None of that stuff. It’s a consensus, it’s a collaboration, and that’s the best situation you can have.

Q: Should I assume that even now, a week before the draft, that most of you have a similar thought of where that first-round pick is going to go?
Gettleman: We’re still discussing it. We’re still discussing.

Q: John Harbaugh a couple weeks ago expressed some concern about security because of the virtual nature of the draft. Do you feel like you have things in place where you won’t have to worry about any hacking or any unwanted behavior from outside the building or outside the organization?
Gettleman: I believe so. Justin Warren and Ty Siam, they’re all over it. I really believe we’ll be fine.

Q: We know how much work you guys put in to the offseason schedule and trying to figure out which pro days, who’s going to go and where the scouts are going to end up on campus and who’s coming into the building. Have you been able to replicate whatever research or evaluation process you would have from that perspective, with the video conferencing and any calls you may make, as Joe (Judge) mentioned the other day tapping into resources that maybe even more so than you’d normally use? Are you able to get out of the current situation what you would have gotten out of the entire month of March with the way you traditionally set it up?
Pettit: I think so. For the most part, we have. I was actually down at Clemson when we got called back. I started thinking in my head, ‘If we don’t get back out, there are things we’ll miss out on.’ We did such a good job throughout the fall and the All-Star games and the Combine interviewing and testing a lot of players at those venues. We were able to get a lot of that information which you get in the fall. What we did was we gathered the scouts together and we said, ‘Hey, use this time now, we’re not out on the road, use this time to go back and watch more film, watch the games you didn’t watch, watch them again. Call the schools, call the players. Be really thorough. Now you’re not going to have the opportunity to be on campus, so maybe call the academic people one more time. Maybe they’ll give you a different opinion.’ So, we really worked the whole fall process over again, and our scouts were great doing that. We were able to dig up some more information. The only thing really that you miss is just those small interactions that you might have being with a player personally, whether it’s in our building or just on campus. There are a lot of times you’re going to meet with a player privately, you’re walking on campus with him and you can get little interactions that way that mean something. That’s really the only thing we lost. I do think this time, because we were so prepared through the All-Star (games) and Combine, like I said, interviewing and testing these guys, I think we’re pretty much on par where we would be any other year.

Q: Regarding players who at the combine either didn’t work out due to injuries or choice, or some of these smaller school guys who maybe weren’t at the All-Star games, can you just speak to what kind of resources or if you’ve had to devote extra resources towards getting information on those guys?
Pettit: The biggest part of our evaluation, obviously, is from the tape. We always use the pro days and the Combine as just a supplement, another spoke in the wheel, just to validate what we thought that they showed on tape. The players that didn’t show up at those places and the pro days we couldn’t get to, the players have done a good job and the scouts have done a good job of reaching out. We’ll get videos of them doing some pro days but it’s not the same. Again, we have to go back to what we really base majority of our evaluation on, and that’s the tape. That’s why we’ve spent the last month really going back and digging into the film, looking at it from a different lens maybe, and that’s kind of helped get some of that information for us.

Q: You talked often in the past about fixing the offensive line, fixing the offensive line. Do you feel a particular urgency or pressure this year to come out of this draft with one or two offensive linemen who can help pretty much right away with Daniel Jones and Saquon (Barkley) and this team?
Gettleman: Well again, you know my theory. It’s very, very difficult for Saquon to run the ball if he doesn’t have holes. It’s going to be difficult for Daniel to throw the ball when he’s on his back. We’ll continue to build the offensive line. Is it a pressure point? To a degree. I’m not going to deny that. But it’s about getting the right guy. It’s about not panicking. Like I said before, we think Nick Gates has a bright future as an offensive lineman. Spencer Pulley has done good work for us at center. (Jon) Halapio is coming back, hopefully he’ll be ready to go and recovered from the Achilles by June. We’re just going to keep working at it. Joe and I are of the same mentality that really and truly, the offensive line sets the tone for the team. It really does. I think of all the teams that I’ve been with that have gone to Super Bowls, the offensive lines were the tone-setters. You think of the offensive lines in 2007 and 2011 when we beat the Patriots, those groups set the tone. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure we replicate that.

Q: Do you still think of Nate Solder as your left tackle period?
Gettleman: The bottom line is, and Joe said it, we’re going to bring in people to compete. Everybody has to compete. Again, my thought process is we’re not afraid to have too many good players at one position to answer your question. Joe knows Nate which is helpful. They have a relationship, they have a history. But we’re going to bring in the best players. If they’re at a position where there’s an incumbent starter, then he’s going to compete.

Q: From your years of doing this, how unique is the Isaiah Simmons evaluation given all of the different positions he plays? Does that make it more difficult?
Gettleman: What’s happening now is there are a lot of college players like that. There are a lot of guys that because the college game is so different, they take a young man with a unique skillset and they use him in a variety of ways that maybe hasn’t happened before. There are a number of guys that are being used like this. A lot of them are mid-level defenders, linebackers. You’ve seen they’re mixing and matching their defensive linemen in a three-point but also standing up as a two-point. There’s a lot of versatility going on, a lot of different ways that people are using players. It’s not standard. It’s not what I grew up with, that’s for sure. You’re seeing it more. It’s up to us to figure out how that player who’s been in what you’re saying to me is an unconventional position, it’s up to us to figure out how he fits the New York Football Giants.

Q: Aside from the technology, aside from the fact that you’re home and dealing with the technology, with all the things that you guys have missed with pro days and all that, is this more of an old school draft in terms of the way you guys have to prepare for it? Does your experience and the experience of your scouting staff really help in that regard?
Gettleman: It’s funny, I said that exact thing a couple of times. This is like back in the late 70s when they drafted with absolutely no contact with players. I think at the end of the day, it is a little bit old school because you’re not getting the personal touchpoints that we used to have. It is a little bit old school. I just think that really and truly at the end of the day, it’s really all about what the kid does between the white lines. It’s not about running around in your underwear or running a 40-yard dash or doing the vertical jump or whatever. It’s really about putting a lid on and playing ball. It is a little bit more old school like that. That’s not all bad.

Q: What’s the level of interest on the fourth pick from other teams? Is there any chance that teams are kind of waiting to see what Detroit does, since that could be a big factor on how desirable you think that pick will be?
Gettleman: We’re still a week out. Really and truly, we’re still a week out. We’ll see what happens.

Q: How strong is your desire to possibly make a trade though? Is it something you’re actively looking for? Or are you just willing to listen and if something happens to be of interest at that point, are you willing to make a move?
Gettleman: It’s something I would very seriously entertain.

Q: We’ve talked to you the last couple of years in terms of what you’ve done in the top 10, how you feel in your scouting and your evaluation of Saquon and then Daniel last year, and when you knew that was the guy. Obviously, I understand there’s still a consensus to be made in-house, but in your mind on the Friday before the draft, do you have the guy you want to pound the table for and convince everybody else? Or are you still going through in your mind who should be the pick for the New York Giants?
Gettleman: We’re still working through it.

Q: Even you? I know the whole group is, but even you?
Gettleman: Yes, I’m still working through it. At the end of the day, I have to think long-term and short-term. At the end of the day, the decision we make will be what’s best for the Giants, and it will be a collective, collaborative decision. 

Apr 152020
 
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Joe Judge, New York Giants (February 25, 2020)

Joe Judge – © USA TODAY Sports

JOE JUDGE’S PRE-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media by conference call on Wednesday in advance of next week’s NFL Draft.

Opening Statement: I’d like to take a second to acknowledge (New York Post Photographer) Anthony Causi and his family. I know it’s a very tough time for his family specifically, but also everybody else in the media. There’s a lot of things going on out there, people’s lives have been turned upside down, that I think it’s important we keep in perspective as we talk football through this call that there are bigger things going on, that ultimately what we do is entertainment and a means of escape for people dealing with much bigger issues. So with that being said, I’d like to go ahead and start answering any questions that I can for you guys. Fire away.

Q: A lot has been written and talked about how a new coach like yourself might be a little behind because of OTAs being cancelled with the virus. Maybe you could get into a little bit of that and how you plan on catching up once you get into the building, as compared to a (Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach) Doug Pederson who has had a system in place for years.
A: All we’re concerned about at this point, really, is getting a foundation ready through whatever means it ends up being. We’ve been preparing for this now for some time, for these meetings to go virtual, we’ve got to communicate with our players through the conditioning program and have everything set up so that we can work with them. I think the advantage goes to whoever is best prepared from this point forward. I don’t think any established program is at an advantage over anybody else. It’s how you can find a way to communicate with your players and deliver a message. Whether you’ve been in the program for years or not, everyone has changes to their system, everybody has changes to what they’re going to be doing in the offseason. They’re going to have the same challenges of communicating to their players.

Q: Can you take us through what Monday is going to look like and how that’s going to work with the players?
A: Yeah, so I’ll tell you what, without going into too many specifics in terms of what we’re using, we’re using some virtual meeting software, like most everyone in America is — like my kids are in the kitchen right now taking virtual school. We’re going to start out with position meetings. We’re going to take our time of going through, making sure that first off all of the players are sound and set up on how to use the software. Before we get into too much of the football, we’re going to make sure that everyone knows how to use it, and where to find all of the information. Monday is going to be a lot like a first day back in the building, you know, through a regular spring program. We want to spend some time with position coaches, we want to make sure the coordinators get a chance to address their room, and I’ll have a chance to talk to the team for the first time. So, before we get into all of the X’s and O’s of football, there’s an important element of just getting to know the players and them getting to know us that has to take place.

Q: With regard to the NFL Draft, because of the offseason and the inability to develop players in a hands-on way, does that impact your evaluation in the draft and maybe the need to draft a guy who is more pro ready or guys who are pro ready versus somebody who requires more hands-on development early?
A: No, I think that when you’re looking at players in the draft, first off, you’re always looking for the best player available and to me that means long-term upside. If you think you’re taking someone who is “pro ready,” what all of these rookies find out the second they step in the building is none of them are pro ready. That’s why they need the spring program, that’s why they need training camp, that’s why they go through growing pains as rookies. To me, it’s about finding the upside of the player, of looking down the long scope of a career and seeing who’s going to be the best player with the most upside for you. There’s really no short-term fix or band aid. You’re not going to pick someone in this draft and say, “Okay, we answered an issue there.” It’s just bringing the best guy available and then working with them every day. No one is a finished product, whether they are a college guy getting drafted or someone who is in the league right now. Everyone has to improve to get to where we need to be.

Q: You have members of the staff, you were also in the league during the lockout when there was some uncertainty. In this day and age, with no telling when we’re going to possibly have your guys back on the field — how flexible do you have to be in terms of the teaching, getting these guys ready to go so that when they hit the field they don’t miss a beat?
A: Well, this is definitely a fluid program first off. What we’re dealing with right now is a lot of uncertainty, so we have to control is what we have the ability to control. For us as a staff right now, we’re looking at just making sure we get the installs in the way we want to get them in and make sure that whether our players get back to us this spring or not, they’ve got a solid base on the knowledge of our program so that when we start truly practicing competitively in training camp, that they’ve got a good head start on it. I would say there are some significant differences between this year and 2011. First off, I’d like to point out in the lockout, the biggest difference was our players’ ability to train and condition themselves to be ready to practice when they returned. And when you think about it, at the time, you had Drew Brees bringing the Saints down to New Orleans to throw, Colt McCoy took the Browns down to Austin, Texas. Travel was accessible, these players had the ability to go to a gym in their local town and train, to work with trainers. That’s been removed, for the most part, across the country right now. The biggest thing we’ve got to make sure that we adjust for is the ability for our players to be prepared physically when they get back. When you track 2011, which is the last year we didn’t have an offseason program with players, the injury data is what it is — it was the highest recorded in league history, especially in recent years. That was even with the players training on their own as hard as they could. The tough thing for our players is to really get pushed through football movements to prepare themselves for practice. So, we have to make adjustments so that when we finally do get the players back, hopefully sooner than later, but we have to make sure we practice the right way and give them, give the players, a chance to condition their body and be physically ready so that we can avoid injury. That’s really our top concern right now is football wise, making sure the players can physically prepare their bodies and we can give them the resources and tools to do so, so that when we return to play everyone can play safely and aggressively.

Q: You are working remotely like so many people are in a house, with a family, with kids, a first time head coach. What is that like for you? Is it difficult, any technical glitches, any family emergencies you’ve got to run out to do? Tell us what your new normal is like.
A: You know what, the normal for me is my office just moved to my basement. I operate out of my basement. Same work hours I would hold if I were in the office, up early and stay late. Make sure you get everything done. You know, we still meet on our regular basis as a staff, whether that’s offense or defense or as an entire staff, strength staff, whatever it is. But we’re meeting through online, virtual meetings. We have technology that’s allowing us to be very functional and productive. There have been some adjustments by everybody, but that’s our job is to figure it out and move forward. One thing I’ll tell you that I’m very confident in is when we start dealing with the players, there’s no generation that’s been more prepared for this offseason than the ones we’re going to deal with now. They are very technologically savvy, they are going to have a lot of feedback that we’re going to get from them that we’re going to rely on in terms of how we can improve our meetings, to do what helps them. So, everybody has adjusted. I think if the worst thing we’re dealing with right now, to be honest with you, is working out of our basement, we’ve got it pretty good. Look, there’s a lot of people out there right now who don’t have jobs to go to with this situation, there’s police, fire department, there are nurses who leave their house every day, who leave their family behind and they are putting themselves out there to protect us. So, I think there’s people we have to acknowledge with the right perspective who have it a lot tougher than a bunch of football coaches just trying to function to get ready for an offseason and a draft.

Q: This is obviously suboptimal for a second-year quarterback learning a new system. Is there anything being done behind the scenes or plans for when you guys can get back together, whenever that may be, to help get Daniel (Jones) up to speed and really guard against him potentially falling behind learning a new system without the on-field reps and in-person coaching you guys would be able to get?
A: Well I’ll tell you what, really for all of our players, everybody is in the same boat right now trying to start from scratch. What we’ve been allowed to do right now by the league is we’ve had contact with our players, but everything has been non-football to this point. We’ve just wanted to check on them and their families and make sure everyone is safe and healthy and if there is anything we can do to help them in this process. We want to make sure that all of our players and their families really have the access to our medical team, so if something comes up, we can head it off before it becomes a major issue. In terms of the players football wise, we’ve been able to give out iPads, and we’ve been able to load information on it, but we haven’t been able to have any instruction or interaction dealing with football. Now on Monday, that’s different. We get to go fully virtual with it, which will be a big advantage getting to meet with the players face-to-face, so to say, and start dealing with the players. In the meantime, the players have looked through what’s on the iPad, they’ve watched old film, they’ve had a chance to look at playbooks which have been loaded up. But really, Monday is when the instruction and teaching starts. That’s what we’re looking forward to.

Q: Now that you have had a chance to evaluate your team from a distance, can you give us an idea of what you think of the current team you have?
A: I’m excited to work with all the players. We’ve watched them and again we have watched them from a distance is the key thing to say. We’ve watched them on tape, we have watched them from afar. Most of us were on other teams last year, so we have watched them from an outsider’s perspective. We are really anxious to work with them in our building and put our hands on them.  It wouldn’t be fair to give a true evaluation of anybody who you haven’t worked with. We are excited to work with every player from the previous roster and the new guys we added to the roster right now. We are looking forward to the draft and we are all kind of tapping our foot right now just anxious to be have any type of exposure to players that we can. When we start going virtually, it will give us a great insight to the players as to how they interact in meetings, how insightful they are with the questions they ask, how current they can stay on the information and that’s what we are really waiting for.

Q: This is your first time going through the draft process as a head coach. What is the biggest thing you learned up in New England about their approach to the draft?
A: I think it is about evaluating the players. To me, the biggest part of the draft is evaluating the players. Not for what they have done in the past but for what they can do in the future. You have to have the foresight to see how their skillset can add to your team and how you are going to use them. The biggest thing from my time in New England is to how to look at the player and find what their strengths are and then see how you can use them to your team’s advantage.

Q: I know you haven’t had a chance to see these guys up close and personal, but you added some key free agents. Three guys in particular on defense, Bradberry, Martinez and Fackrell. What do you expect they will bring to the team and why did you feel you wanted to add them to the roster?
A: I expect everyone on the team to bring a level of commitment and competitiveness that’s going to make us an improved team and that’s what I expect from them. I expect when they show up, they will be in shape, I expect them to be ready on the material that we have presented to them and I expect them to come out on the field and compete aggressively every single day. That’s what we expect from our players every day, whether it was someone on the roster last year or someone we added in free agency or someone we add in the draft. That’s the expectation of all the players, to come to work every day with a relentless attitude to improve this team.

Q: When you look at a player, how much does a premium position like quarterback or left tackle factor into the evaluation process?
A: I think it matters only in how they fit in your system and how you can use them to expand in your system. To me, every player has to have a level of versatility. I don’t care if you are a one-position offensive lineman or you’re the quarterback. Everyone has to have versatility within their game to adjust to different game plans and schemes. If you find a player that has great impact and upside, that’s a guy you want to add to your roster. The upside is the biggest part of it. In terms of is it someone that has to have a true position home, to me the position home is going to be defined by how you use them. That’s up to us as coaches to be creative and maximize strengths. Not talk about what they are not but figure out what they can do in order to help us win.

Q: All the free agents you signed this year, members of your staff have some kind of past history. How important is that in integrating that prior knowledge with what you are trying to build in terms of these players maybe serving as group leaders?
A: I don’t think we are looking for any players to come in and be ambassadors or to raise the other players. We added players to the roster who we think are good players. Some we had previous exposure with, some we didn’t. It’s a small league, whether you are coaching a player, coaching against him or watching him on crossover tape every week, you know the league. I believe all the players we added have a great deal of value, I believe they are all going to add to our team. They are all going to compete, which is the biggest thing we like out of all the players we’ve added. You watch them on tape, and they all have very competitive natures in how they play and that’s the biggest thing to us right there. As far as the previous relationships we have with these players, that’s not going to give them an edge or an advantage over any other player on the roster or we are going to add at any point to the roster. We are always going to play the best player, we are always going to play the player that gives us the best opportunity to match up with an opponent by that week’s game plan. I’d say the players that are coming in should know that about us already. They don’t expect special treatment. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to all these players when we signed them. The message is very clear, the expectations for them are the same as everyone else on this team. No one at this point has an advantage on the roster over anybody else for a spot on this team.

Q: At the combine, you had talked about how important it was for you to be able to be on-site and be at pro days and dig into guys personally and seeing them. In the adjustment of what you’ve done pre-draft, have you done anything different to kind of dig into guys, to kind of make up for what you personally lost in your evaluation of some of these prospects getting ready for the draft?
A: What we’ve done is we’ve used everything available to us to really go ahead and get the best picture of each player. I can tell you losing the visits to your campus, or to go to the player’s campus and watch them at a pro day, you really have to utilize these meetings online. It gives you an opportunity to look a player in the eyes when you talk. I’m very big on body language, I’m very big on eye contact. At least you have the opportunity to look a player in the eyes, you ask him a question and see his reaction. That’s big right there. It gives you a good picture of how they are as far as talking ball, how much they can learn and teach back to you. The other thing we’ve had to do is rely on our contacts and people we trust. We’re very fortunate on our staff and me personally that we have a lot of contacts out there with a lot of these players that have coached them, and that we have good enough relationships with these coaches that they give us honest feedback. To me, it’s important that you’re not just talking to someone at that program, you’re talking to someone you trust at that program that’s going to really tell you inside and out what that player is like as a person, as a teammate and as a player on a daily basis. I spent a lot of time on the phone talking to guys that I have very good, very deep relationships with investigating these players, and that all goes into our evaluation. The talent level is one thing, but it’s more than just fantasy football. We’re not just throwing players on a roster. We’re building a team. We have to account for how guys are in the meeting room, how they are in the locker room, how they interact with their teammates, and what they’re going to bring from a culture standpoint.

Q: With that in mind, when you look at all of the college coaches you have on staff, how much more valuable does that make their insight when you’re talking about players that maybe they’ve coached  or coached against, so that you don’t necessarily need to go to those outside coaches and kind of help bridge that gap between being on campus and not?
A: I’ll tell you what, it’s been a great asset for us. One of the things you forget about in this whole process of the guys that we have that have just come from colleges in the last couple of years or maybe just from this last year is maybe they haven’t coached them directly, but they recruited them and they have personal relationships with these players. You find out a lot about a player from a coach who’s spent a lot of time meeting him and his family. The homework that they’ve done over the course of really a year-plus when they’re recruiting in college is more beneficial than you spending an afternoon at a pro day with him. It’s been a great resource for us. We have tremendous guys on our staff who… Look, they were great recruiters in college. That’s not going to mean anything in the NFL, but we can use what they’ve learned in the past on a specific player to tie into what we see as a whole person.

Q: Can you just give us an idea how next Thursday, Friday and Saturday are going to work for you? Are you going to be locked in that basement? I actually read a quote from the Chargers GM that he was going to have his kids help him out, like tracking other teams’ picks and stuff. Is it going to be you in your basement talking on video chat with Dave (Gettleman) and the scouts? How do you envision the actual three days of the draft working?
A: I’ll have a more accurate picture for you after we go through a couple of mock drafts ourselves as an organization, with the league. However, I have told my kids that there are times I’m going to need them to get out of the basement or be present. Based on how we set up our draft board so that I can have a visual in my basement, I’ve already talked to them about possibly taking tags off the wall and organizing different things. I’m not looking to make this a vacation for anybody. We have a lot of serious work to get done. But it is still our house, and like everyone else in America is finding out, everyone is working with their family always present, and that’s pretty true for us. I have a golden retriever (Abby) sitting on the couch next to me for about 15 hours a day. Right now, she can probably tell you more about who we’re going to take in the first round than anybody else.

Q: Is the goal of virtual learning simply to know the playbook, or is it ‘this is how we want to practice, this is how we want to do everything’?
A: All of those elements will eventually tie into it. The first part of it ties into the playbook and the material. Eventually, we will talk as a team in terms of how we’re going to conduct the team, how we’re going to practice. It’s important the players not only know what you’re going to do, but how you’re going to do it. That will come into the coordinators explaining to them our style of offense, our style of defense, our style of special teams, and how we’re going to look. They have to understand where they’re going to fit in the puzzle.

Q: Obviously there’s a lot of uncertainty looking forward about whether you’ll get to training camp or the season. A lot of coaches plan out their schedule months in advance. I’m going to assume that you probably do the same thing. How much have you had to revise your future plans, or are you just holding off on making any future plans at the moment?
A: Well, it’s my job to be prepared. As the head coach, I need to have a plan for everything that’s going to come up. When we got the memo from the NFL the other day of how the spring is going to look, I sat down and we’ve made four calendars already in anticipation of different scenarios that could come up. We have them color coded, so if we get the players as scheduled, we’re working off the blue calendar. If we don’t get the players, we’re working off the red calendar. If we get them later in the spring, we’ll pull up the purple calendar. We have different scenarios mapped out, so we have a plan of attack when that time comes. It’s our job to figure it out and have a plan for the players, and we’re working on doing that right now.

Q: What’s your message to the fans of the New York Football Giants right now?
A: The biggest thing is beyond football. I hope everyone out there is safe, I hope everyone is healthy, I hope everyone is staying in good spirits. We’re doing our best right here to get back to work for you guys so you have something to watch and be proud of. I can assure you, we’re going to make sure that the hard work that they have in their communities and things that people are looking forward to getting back to when normal life resumes, we’re going to make sure that what they’ve been anticipating, we put that on the field. We give them a product that they can be proud of. I just want to thank all of the first responders, too. The police, the fire department, every doctor, every nurse, ambulance driver. You find out how essential life is, how about essential employees, how we really would be struggling to function without people to do the everyday things for us. Look, it’s tough sitting in your house. It’s a lot tougher going out there every day, being exposed to the virus and doing your job, and then having to go home and look your family in the eye. We can’t take lightly the sacrifices all those people are making for us, and we appreciate it.

ARTICLES…

Apr 132020
 
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Dave Gettleman, New York Giants (February 25, 2020)

Dave Gettleman – © USA TODAY Sports

APRIL 13, 2020 DAVE GETTLEMAN CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman and Assistant General Manager Kevin Abrams addressed the media by conference call on Monday.

Dave Getttleman opening statement: First off, I hope everybody is well. I hope your families are safe and healthy. I also hope you were able to celebrate Easter and Passover. On behalf of the Giants, I would like to send out our sincerest condolences to the Causi family. That is a tragedy and I am sure it is affecting a lot of you folks. I didn’t know Anthony, but I know everybody spoke very highly of him, so I get that. Despite what’s been going on, we have started our draft meetings. We’ve had minimal issues moving forward and right now we are on schedule with that. I was told we are going to talk on Friday about the draft. Pat (Hanlon) said today’s call was about unrestricted free agency and how we are currently operating. That’s the impression I had.

Kevin Abrams opening statement: First of all, I just want to reiterate our thoughts are with the Causi family. I’m sure a lot of you were very close with him, our condolences. Every day we are appreciative and supportive of all the people on the front lines during these unique days. I don’t know how many of you live in Manhattan, but I do. Probably the most profound moment of every day is at 7 o’clock when everyone opens their windows and pays tribute to everyone in the health care industry fighting this battle for us. I hope you are all well.

Q: Why the franchise tag for Leonard Williams instead of the cheaper transition tag? Given the 16.2-million-dollar cap number, was there any thought to letting him test free agency and making an offer that way.
Gettleman: Really what it came down to was we felt good about our cap space. We felt for what Leonard brings to the table and for our team, it was more prudent to put the franchise tag on him.

Q: Any thought that when we get back to football Leonard not signing his franchise tag will be a distraction?
Gettleman: I think we’ll be okay. I always think about bad things because, in my opinion, one of the biggest responsibilities I have is to eliminate distractions and let the coaches coach and the players play. You can’t guarantee anything in this life, but we have gotten to know Leonard really well and I feel really comfortable with the decision.

Q: In the past you have brought players in with ties to your days in Carolina. Most of the free agents brought in this year have ties to the organization. Was that by design given the COVID-19 situation and not being able to bring guys in to interview them like you normally would?
Gettleman: A little bit of all that. There is a little bit of a lean towards people you know in free agency. Times have changed. I know back in the day in free agency, you had time to bring a guy in. You could spend a day with him to get to know him. Now we are speed dating and the decision happens before you can get a guy in in the building, before you can get a physical and that’s even before COVID-19. I don’t think it’s any more sensitive, but I do know for us a big concern was the medical piece. We are making decisions and you are building your roster. Just think about what happens if you sign a high-dollar guy and he doesn’t pass his physical, now where are you? Now you have spent in free agency and now the draft and you think you have your team set and you put together what you think is a good roster. Then all of the sudden, a guy doesn’t pass his physical. The guys we signed we felt we got good value and we are very pleased with the group.

Q: Those who haven’t had physicals, if they don’t pass, how does that work?
Abrams: The guys that are new to the club that haven’t passed their physicals yet haven’t taken them. Once everything resumes and life is back to normal and doctor availability and travel restrictions are lifted, we will get those physicals done. If they do not pass, they will be free agents again.

Q: What went into changing your bonus structure this offseason where you went with the roster bonuses instead of big signing bonuses?
Abrams: The preference is to have flat cap counts in our contracts and to limit the amount of amortized bonuses for obvious reasons. When we started the free agency process, wherever possible, we were going to try to use roster bonuses with a lump sum in year one as opposed to spreading out signing bonuses over the life of the contract. As we had some success with getting to agreements with a few more players than maybe what we thought was realistic at the beginning, in an effort to keep cap room that we wanted to have to operate throughout the offseason and training camp, we decided to push a little bit of the roster bonus money into signing bonuses. We are pretty happy with the structures we’ve had with these deals in respect to our future caps.

Q: What are your feelings on your offensive tackle situation? Do you feel good with Nate Solder at left tackle and can he move to the right side? Where do you stand on that coming out of free agency with not making a huge splash signing there?
Gettleman: At the end of the day, we signed Cameron Fleming. He was with Dallas before and obviously there is that connection and with the Patriots before, there’s a double connection. We have faith in Nick Gates, the kid we signed two years ago, a free agent we signed out of Nebraska. He missed his rookie year on IR, but last year he made a lot of progress. We are excited about him. Nate had a rough year last year, nobody is denying, and certainly he is not. I made the statement to people after we signed him in 2018 and after the 2018 season no one was talking about Nate Solder. He had a tough year. Part of the unrestricted free agency piece is we are also looking at the draft, so you kind of marry the two. We felt with the depth of the tackle class in the draft, we just felt this was the best way for us to go.

Q: How do you feel about where you are in terms of edge rushers?
Gettleman: A lot of people were raised with the 2007 and 2011 Super Bowl teams where we could consistently apply pressure with four. That is the goal, that’s what you want. You can’t manufacture it and you can’t overpay for it. What it really comes down to is it doesn’t matter who gets the sacks, it’s about how many sacks you actually get. It really is about how much pressure you apply. Some of this is going to have to come through scheme. Obviously, we haven’t gone through the draft yet. With where we’re at, would I not want two defensive ends that are 25 sacks a year guys? Who doesn’t? We are not in that position right now, so we will just keep building it.

Q: When you look at your defense and the signings of Bradberry, Martinez and Fackrell, do you think you made a quantum leap forward to your defense? Do you think these three guys are big impact guys or is there a lot more work to be done on defense?
Gettleman: There is still more work to be done, we are thrilled with those three guys. We also signed Austin Johnson, another defensive lineman. We are very pleased with where we are at, (Blake) Martinez gives us a guy that has played in the system for Pat Graham and will get us lined up. I think that this scheme is going to fit him better. Everybody knows I drafted James (Bradberry) when I was in Carolina. He gives you a big, long body that has played against number ones. He has the mindset, he’s not shy and the moment is not too big for him. (Kyler) Fackrell, two years ago, had double digit sacks and Green Bay went out and bought two high sack guys and he became a rotational part-time player. We feel good about that. You have to keep building, we are excited about the draft, there are some good players there. We are just going to continue to get better, nothing is ever done.

Q: There are some guys left out there still on the market that have proven to be pretty good pass rushers. Jadeveon Clowney, Markus Golden, two big notables. When you say ‘we’re not in position now,’ is that a financial thing? Is that a preference thing? Explain a little bit more why you said that.
Gettleman: Well, part of the tight rope that I walk on is short-term and long-term. Part of the long-term is we have some good, young players right now. We’ve got Dalvin Tomlinson, (Evan) Engram and (Jabrill) Peppers. We have to make decisions on them. They’re some good, young players. After another year, you guys are going to be banging on me about Saquon (Barkley). As I used to tell the guys down in Charlotte, when you wouldn’t spend all your money in free agency, I’d say, ‘Listen, you’re going to kill me about this? Well, you’re going to double kill me when we don’t have money to extend Luke Kuechly or Cam Newton or whomever.’ It’s a collaborative decision we make as we talk about how we’re moving forward. Right now, this is the decision we made. We’re just going to move forward the way we are now.

Q: You talked about the contracts and the physicals. If a guy is jogging or running and tears his Achilles, how does that work with guys and their contracts? Is there something in there that protects the player? Or is that just up to both sides on how to proceed from there?
Abrams: Unfortunately, it’s the same risk as you always have this time of year. The players that are working out on their own, they run the risk of injury, which isn’t protected because it wouldn’t be considered a football injury. Unfortunately, that risk is just extended this year because of the inability to have players come in and work at our facility under our supervision.

Q: Obviously, things right now are very different in how you can operate. But other than operating remotely, how much have you had to adjust? Can you give us an idea of are your days just filled with FaceTime, Zoom meetings, phone calls? What’s the process been like for both of you?
Abrams: Yeah, we’ve done our best to mimic business as usual. Obviously, it’s not. But without going into details about what technologies we’re using, I don’t think our IT department would appreciate that, we’ve tried to mimic how our meetings typically operate, both for the coaches and for our scouting meetings right now. The fact that it’s all been virtual is obviously the biggest difference. But the dialogue, the conversation, the agenda, the itineraries for the meetings go as always. I don’t think we’ve missed a beat. A lot of that goes to Justin Warren in our IT department, Ty Siam in Football Tech, Eddie Triggs is running our operations. It hasn’t been perfectly smooth, but it’s been smoother than anyone could have expected. Whatever hiccups we’ve encountered, I think everyone has shown patience and the ability to adjust so we can get to operating the way that we need to. It’s been pretty exceptional so far, and a lot of people deserve a lot of credit. People that wouldn’t normally get recognized.

Gettleman: Let me follow up on that a little bit. As Kevin said, we’re really making it work. One of the exciting things for me as an old man working with these young guys and the technology, they’re really thoughtful and intentional about it. Really, Chris Pettit has done a great job, our Director of College Scouting, in terms of coordinating all this, working with Ty and Ed Triggs and Justin Warren, has just done yeoman’s work with us. We’re moving along. Listen, there are people in a lot worse situations than us. We’re thankful and we’re moving along. We’re going to get this right.

Q: I just wanted to go back to the Leonard Williams thing one more time. I’m just curious, given the cap number at $16.2 million, what is your guys’ desire and confidence that you’ll be able to get a long-term deal done, or if the plan is to just let him play on the tag?
Gettleman: You know, the bottom line is contracts get done when they’re supposed to get done. So, we’ll just move along. You guys know I don’t discuss contracts, I don’t discuss timing, I don’t discuss anything. They get done when they’re supposed to get done.

Q: I know you said before that ideally you’d like to approach free agency to fill needs on the roster so when you move to the draft you can draft the best player available. I know we’re not talking draft. I’m just curious if you think you accomplished that in free agency to position yourself to draft best player available compared to having to draft for need?
Gettleman: Yeah, I think we’ve done a good job. It’s not perfect, but I’m pleased with where we’re at going into the draft.

Q: I’m curious if you can just talk about what you think the one hour FaceTimes with prospects gives you that maybe you didn’t have via the traditional way and what you’re missing from the traditional facility visit or workout? These one hour calls, have they been beneficial or are you missing a lot?
Gettleman: I’ll go first. They’ve been pretty beneficial because again, it is FaceTiming, so thank God, you can see the guys. I’m a city kid and a big believer in body language and all this and that. It’s okay. It’s not great, it’s not perfect, it’s okay. For me, what we miss is watching them interact, the 30 visit guys, watching them in your facility. That’s what you miss out on. By not having pro days, you also miss that personal contact. Watching guys among their peers and how they operate, how they’re received. That tells a lot when you just watch a kid in those circumstances. Obviously, when we would go to workouts, a lot of times the night before, our coach and scout that would be at the pro day would take one, two or three of the players out to dinner and have some conversation that way. We’re losing the personal touchpoints. We have the visual touchpoint, but we’re really missing out on the personal touchpoint, when you can smell or feel a guy.

Abrams: Nothing to add. We’re doing the best we can with what we have. You do miss out on some of the depth of the interactions. But I think between the coaches’ interactions with the players, and the rest of us who have had opportunities to speak and see these guys, you do your best to get to know them as well as you can, knowing that it’s always going to be virtual. You’re not going to have them in your presence.

Q:  The question you were obviously asked about tackle earlier with Nate, you mentioned Gates. I’m just curious where you stand right now at center? We know the situation with (Jon) Halapio and then, obviously, Spencer Pulley is on the roster. I’m just curious, did you guys look into doing something in free agency and where does it stand? I would imagine that’s a pretty big piece that you right now have concerns about, or at least are looking at seriously?
Gettleman: That’s a fair question. It really is. We won’t know about Pio until June with the Achilles. Spencer obviously has played a ton of football. We have a lot of confidence in him. We’re working that group over pretty good in the draft. We’re always going to continue to upgrade. I’m not afraid to draft over a guy. It’s a fair question. We’re going to look at it.

Q: Is Gates an option there?
Gettleman: You know, just for what it’s worth, we’ve talked about Nick doing that. He did do some of that last year in practice, so it’s not completely new. Nick is smart. The thing you love about Nick is just how tough he is, because it’s a fist fight in there. There’s no doubt about that. History tells you that the toughness of your team is really, really indicated by the toughness of your offensive line. So, we’re always looking for that kind of piece. Nick would be in consideration at center, absolutely. 

Apr 092020
 
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Aldrick Rosas – © USA TODAY Sports

ALDRICK ROSAS SIGNS HIS TENDER…
Restricted free agent place kicker Aldrick Rosas has signed his 1-year, $3.259 million (2nd round) tender. After a stellar sophomore pro season in 2018, Rosas regressed in 2019. Rosas was 12-of-17 (70.6 percent) on field goal attempts and missed four of his 39 extra point attempts (89.7 percent). Seventy percent of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks.

Rosas was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Tennessee Titans after the 2016 NFL Draft. He did not make the team. The Giants signed him to a reserve/futures contract in January 2017. He had a poor first season with the Giants, converting on just 72 percent of his field goals and 87 percent of his extra points. However, in 2018, Rosas made the Pro Bowl after making 32-of-33 field goal attempts, including a team-record 57 yarder.

For a complete listing of team free agent signings and losses, see the New York Giants 2020 Free Agency Scorecard.

GIANTS CUT NATE HARVEY…
The New York Giants have waived linebacker Nate Harvey with a failed physical designation. The Giants signed Harvey as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft. He was placed on Injured Reserve in May 2019 after suffering a knee injury during the rookie mini-camp.

Apr 032020
 
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Dion Lewis, Tennessee Titans (October 6, 2019)

Dion Lewis – © USA TODAY Sports

CONFERENCE CALL WITH RUNNING BACK DION LEWIS…
The following is the transcript from today’s media conference call with running back Dion Lewis, who the New York Giants signed on March 23rd:

Q: Take us through why you chose to sign with the Giants?
A:  I think it was a perfect and unique opportunity. There was a lot of factors. Joe Judge being there and me having a relationship with him with my three years in New England. I grew up a Giants fan, so it was always a dream of mine to play for them. When I got the opportunity with the circumstances, I couldn’t pass it up. I’m looking forward to working with Coach Joe Judge, playing for my hometown team and getting to work with Saquon as well. There was a lot of positive factors.

Q: You mentioned being able to reunite with Joe Judge. What about his presence drew you here? Have they talked to you at all about kick returns, punt returns or what they expect from you other than just being the backup running back?
A: No. Whatever they need me to do, I’m going to do it. Obviously, I have a lot of experience returning kicks for Joe Judge. I’m pretty sure that may come up. I’m open to doing whatever they need me to do to help this team win. That’s my approach right now and I’m going to do whatever it takes.

Q: What can you tell us about playing with Joe Judge? We don’t really know his coaching style yet, what was your experience with him like?
A: He brings a lot of energy. He is very detail orientated. He is going to be prepared and he is going to know exactly what he wants you to do and how he wants you to do it. I know he is going to make sure everybody is on the same page. He is going to throw some jabs at you in meetings. The meetings are going to be lively. I remember him having a lot of good jokes. He’s a great guy and I can’t wait to get to work for him.

Q: What did you learn the last few years about the role of being the second running back behind a guy who rarely comes off the field?
A: I learned a lot. Just learning how to be a good team player and doing what I can to encourage the guy in front of me. Watching the game, when they come off if they need to ask me a question about anything, I am always very honest. You watch the game from a different perspective, but at the same time you always have to be ready. You have to be alert, you have to be in shape. You never know when your number is going to be called. It’s a unique situation and I have been dealing with it the past two years with Derrick (Henry). It definitely helped me come here and do whatever I can to help this group.

Q: Do you think you can help make Saquon better?
A: I think we can help make each other better. With all the running backs I’ve played with, I’ve learned things from (them) and they have learned things from me. Me being a little older guy, I have some experience with some things. He’s a great player, there’s not much he can’t do. I’m looking forward to working with him, competing with him, learning from him and just doing that relationship with him. Build a great relationship with him so we can make the room better and hopefully make the team better.

Q: What do you envision your role being behind Saquon?
A: I haven’t really thought about it. I’m just going to approach it like I always approach it. Go to work every day and work hard. Show the coaches what I can do and let them figure it out. Let them figure out a role (for me). With a player like Saquon, you want him on the field as much as possible. He is one of the better backs in this league and I understand that. I’m just going to work hard, do whatever the coaches ask me to do, compete every day and try to figure it out that way instead of going in there with hopes or what I think is going to happen. I’m just going to do what I’ve always done, go in there compete, work hard, build relationships in the running back room and take it from there.

Q: You talked about growing up a Giants fan. Who were your guys? Who was your team? You grew up in Albany, so did you go up to training camp and see them?
A: Yeah, I grew up in Albany, New York. I was a frequent visitor to training camp up in Albany. It was a great experience growing up being able to go watch those guys practice during training camp at a young age. I go back to the Tiki Barber days, Kurt Warner, Amani Toomer, Ike Hilliard, guys like that. It’s definitely a good situation to be in.

Q: Daniel Jones is going to be the youngest quarterback you have ever played with. Have you talked to him yet? What challenges and opportunities come with playing with a young quarterback?
A: I haven’t spoken to him. He did a great job last year. He is a very athletic quarterback. As a veteran running back, my job is to make it easy on him, build a relationship with him. If I’m called on to protect him on third down, just make sure we are on the same page with the protections and things like that. I’m pretty sure he works very hard, I’ve heard a lot of good things about him. I’m excited to get to work.

Q: What about reuniting with Nate Solder?
A: Nate’s my guy. He is such a great person and a great player. I miss seeing Nate on that left side. It is going to be great to play with him again. He comes to work every day, he is a true pro and a great guy. I love Nate.

Q: You mentioned a couple times being an older guy. You didn’t get as much work as maybe you expected last year. How much do you think you have left? Saquon missed time last year with injuries and obviously you know you are always one play away. If needed, how much do you think you can provide?
A: My body feels pretty well. I didn’t take too much of a pounding last year. My body is relatively fresh. Whatever they need me to do. I keep myself in great shape, I pride myself on taking care of my body. I feel like I still can play, I can do the things I am accustomed to doing, I still can make guys miss. Whatever they need me to do, if my number is called, I’ll be ready. Whatever they need me to do or how much they need me to do it. I’ll be open to whatever they want me to do.

Apr 022020
 
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Kyler Fackrell, Green Bay Packers (August 8, 2019)

Kyler Fackrell – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN LONG SNAPPER CASEY KREITER…
The New York Giants have signed unrestricted free agent long snapper Casey Kreiter (Denver Bronocs). Terms of the deal are not currently publicly known.

The 29-year old, 6’1”, 250-pound Kreiter was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Dallas Cowboys after the 2014 NFL Draft. After spending two camps with the Cowboys, Kreiter made the Denver Broncos in 2016. He made the Pro Bowl for his performance in 2018. In all, Kreiter, served as Denver’s long snapper in 58 regular-season games.

CONFERENCE CALL WITH LINEBACKER KYLER FACKRELL…
The following is the transcript from today’s media conference call with linebacker Kyler Fackrell, who the New York Giants signed on March 17th:

Q: What was it like for you to have a breakout year and then the Packers go out and sign two guys at your position?
A: It was obviously not ideal. I’ve said before that I definitely got better this year. I think I played better this year than I did the year before, despite not getting the numbers that I would have liked. If you look at percentages and pressures per rush, I think I had 200 less rushes but ended up with more pressures than the year I had 10.5 sacks. I think as far as the way I play and getting better as a player, I think I took a step forward this year.

Q: You are joining a pretty young pass rush, a couple of second- and third-year guys. What can you do as the veteran in the room to help them develop?
A: I’m excited to come into the situation that the Giants are in. I know there are a lot of great players there. Being the veteran in the room, I think there are some good habits and some good things like footwork and handwork. I’m sure they already do stuff like that but that’s definitely something that I think has made me better. I know that’s something I will definitely want to pass on to the guys in the room.

Q: Patrick Graham was your position coach in 2018 when you had a good season number wise. Have you discussed what type of role he has envisioned for you, is it going to be much different than it was in Green Bay?
A: I haven’t discussed specifics with Coach Graham too much. I know that he liked my versatility of being able to rush and drop. I’ll do whatever they ask me to do and whatever they view as best for the defense. I really look forward to what Coach Graham is going to do with the defense. I have a lot of trust in his ability, he is a really sharp dude. I haven’t talked specifically with him, but I will do whatever the defense asks of me.

Q: Is there one thing in particular that Coach Graham unlocked from you in your skillset that you didn’t have before?
A: Honestly, I think that the only thing I would say about Coach Graham is he is a great coach. The thing that I like most about him is just his passion and love for football. He’ll get up on the table and scream and yell if he needs to, but it all comes from a great place. It comes from him being grateful for the life he’s living and what he gets to do to provide for his family. That’s something that I always loved coming into work and working with Coach Graham. That was a big thing coming to the Giants, that he was here and the respect that I have for him.

Q: Do you know at this stage of your career what exactly you are? You had that one breakout year, you like a lot of the things you did last year even though you didn’t have the numbers. Do you have a handle on what you are and what you can be moving forward?
A: I have the utmost confidence in myself. I think that I am a very versatile 3-4 Sam outside linebacker. I love to rush, and I think I am good at it. I take a lot of pride in dropping and making plays in space as well. I think in the 3-4 defense that we played in Green Bay, and Patrick Graham runs a similar style defense, having a versatile outside linebacker is very valuable. I know that I didn’t produce the way I wanted to last year, but I think I have a great opportunity to do that this year and I’m looking forward to it.

Q:  How excited are you to play with Blake (Martinez)?
A: I’m thrilled. We came into Green Bay together and we were roommates all four years of training camp and during rookie minicamp. We have a good relationship and he’s a great player. I was really excited to hear that he was going to the Giants as well.

Q: How do you guys complement each other out there on the field skill-wise?
A: He does a great job. At inside linebacker, a big part of their job is kind of controlling everything and making calls and all that. He does a great job of that. He’s very versatile as well. He can do a lot of different things. Blitzing, there’s a lot of different things we can do, especially in those third down packages with the two of us and kind of trying to confuse quarterbacks.

Q: You mentioned how the sack numbers last year weren’t what you wanted them to be. With so much focus on those numbers, did you worry that that was going to hurt you in free agency? Do you think it did, or do you think that enough people knew what kind of player you were, even without the numbers?
A: I don’t know. I think there’s both sides of it. I know that there’s a lot of analytics and stuff that’s done. I think as far as percentages and all that, I played really well last year. Obviously, just bottom line production is probably the biggest factor. I wasn’t happy with the production that I had. As far as hurting me in free agency, I’m not sure about that. All I can really say is that I’m glad. I think I’m in a great situation. I’m very happy to be coming to the Giants. I just really look forward to getting out there and getting into the building and getting to work.

Q: How do you approach this upcoming season with a one-year contract? We tend to talk about it as sort of a prove-it contract. How do you see that working, and how do you see working under that?
A: I think I view it kind of in a similar way. I believe that I’m better than a one-sack guy, so that’s really what I’m going to try to prove. Again, like I said, I got better this last year. I think I’m a better player last year than I was the year before, and I’ll be a better player this upcoming year just with continuing to work and trying to perfect my craft. I wouldn’t say there’s necessarily any more pressure this year than there was last year, kind of going into a contract year. Honestly, I think it’s just a great situation, a great opportunity for me to be with the Giants and I look forward to it.

Q: Everybody is being affected right now, their offseason work changing. I’m just curious what your regimen looks like now with everybody social distancing?
A: I’ve reached out to the Giants. I’ve been in contact with the head strength coach, and he’s given me some really good stuff to work on. I’ve been doing a lot of stuff just trying to stay in shape. Even from home, doing what I can while also trying to be safe with all of this.

Q: Does having the familiarity you have with Blake and obviously with Coach Graham, does that give you any kind of advantage going in learning this defense with the rest of your teammates?
A: Yeah, I’m not sure. I know it’s a similar defense. It’s not exactly the same. But yeah, I think definitely having been a 3-4 outside linebacker and played in kind of a similar system, even since college, I think that’s a big advantage, especially compared to some other guys that maybe played more of a 4-3 defensive end or haven’t played at standing outside linebacker before. I think that’s going to be really huge. It’s going to be nice for me to have that familiarity. Again, I think that was one of the big things with coming to the Giants and working with Coach Graham, was that familiarity and being able to hopefully be used in that versatile way.

Q: How will you measure this season? People always talk about sack numbers, those are kind of obvious. Are there other ways that you think your season could be measured?
A: Definitely just the way that I affect the quarterback, at least as far as rushing, how often I affect the quarterback. I think pressures are a big thing, and I think the league is kind of trending towards recognizing that. That maybe a guy gets 10 sacks but he has half the pressures of a guy that maybe gets eight sacks but he’s in the quarterback’s face and he’s affecting the quarterback, getting him off the spot a lot. As a rusher, I think you’re more valuable when you can do that more consistently. Obviously, I want the sacks, I want the pressures. Ideally, those things would kind of go hand in hand. But again, I think there are a lot of things that I definitely want to improve on. TFL’s, being a little bit more of a factor in the run game as well. I haven’t sat down and set specific goals yet for this upcoming season. I’m just going to continue to work, and I’ll be able to, in the way that I work and the way that I’m able to be consistent and affect the quarterback and make plays in the run game. Those will be some of the big factors that determine whether I feel like this year was a success.

CONFERENCE CALL WITH OFFENSIVE TACKLE CAM FLEMING…
The following is the transcript from today’s media conference call with offensive tackle Cam Fleming, who the New York Giants signed on March 18th:

Q: Obviously you have a previous relationship with Jason Garrett and Marc Colombo. Can you talk about your bond with them and how much that drew you to the Giants?
A: I think it played a pretty big factor when I was deciding to come here. I think that when you see two people that you worked closely with for two years and they get another job and they want you to come with them, it says they have some kind of confidence about your play, your attitude and all that stuff.

Q: Did Coach Garrett, Coach Colombo and Coach Judge reach out to you before you signed?
A: I was able to talk to a couple coaches before I signed. Without me being able to take visits and stuff like that, I had to communicate with the coaches somehow.

Q: They Cowboys have had one of the best offensive lines in the league. Between what Coach Garrett has run on offense and what Coach Colombo has taught, what is it about what they teach offensive linemen that makes the offensive line so good?
A: It’s hard to say what exactly they teach that makes it so good. I think one of their best attributes is teaching that mentality. In those offenses, the offensive line is a little bit more revered. Some of the best players on the Dallas Cowboys are on the O-line. You feel a little bit more of the weight on your back as an offensive lineman. Hopefully we can bring that here and carry a whole bunch of weight for the Giants as well.

Q:  How important was it to stay in the NFC East where you know the pass rush personnel on the other teams?
A: Not at all. There really wasn’t a consideration of what division I would be in when I was choosing. I was worried about staying employed and being in this league another year. Wherever the opportunity came I was going to follow it.

Q: What can you tell us about Marc Colombo as an offensive line coach? What does he bring to the table and why do you like playing for him?
A: I really like playing for him because he really does love what he does. He comes in with so much energy, so much juice every single day, week after week throughout the whole season. I don’t think there is ever a lull in it for him. I really appreciate his passion and electricity every day. He’s just a damn good coach. He helped me a lot with my technique in Dallas and I look forward to continuing working with him.

Q: Have they told you what your role is going to be here on the Giants? I know you can play both sides, but did they define for you what you’re going to do or are you just going to come in and compete?
A:  Definitely just going to come in and compete. Wherever they need me, I’ll be there. I’ll be there and I’ll try to be my best.

Q: Do you think it’s possible to re-create the atmosphere and the philosophy of the offensive line within Dallas here with the Giants, or was that more personnel-driven because of the players you had there?
A: I don’t think that’s something that we’ll want to do, even if we could. We definitely want to form our own identity of the Giants and build a culture that brings success. But we don’t want to, for lack of a better term, copy what they’re doing in Dallas. There are definitely elements that you can pick out from every team in the league, but you definitely have to build your own identity as the Giants.

Q: Remembering back to your time in New England, obviously, Joe Judge was not your position coach, but you did interact with him I’m sure for several years. What do you remember about him? And back then as the Special Teams Coach and Coordinator, did you ever foresee at all that he would ever be a head coach in the NFL?
A: I was so young back then, I didn’t even really think about all that stuff. But I’m glad to see he’s with the Giants now. I’m glad to see he’s our head coach. I know him probably not as well as some of the special teamers in New England did, but we definitely interacted. He’s a really great dude, brings a lot of intensity. I’m excited to have him.

Q: You guys down in Dallas have some experience with a young quarterback in Dak Prescott as he was coming along. What lessons can you take from working with a young quarterback that maybe you can apply with Daniel Jones as he enters his second year?
A: Whether it’s a young quarterback or an old quarterback, you’re there to make his life easier when it comes to pass protection. The more comfortable he can feel in the pocket, the more he can do what he does. That’s what I plan on doing for him.

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Colt McCoy, Washington Redskins (October 6, 2019)

Colt McCoy – © USA TODAY Sports

CONFERENCE CALL WITH QUARTERBACK COLT McCOY…
The following is the transcript from today’s media conference call with quarterback Colt McCoy, who the New York Giants signed on March 19th:

Q: You are now the longest tenured quarterback in the NFC East. How important was it for you to stay in the division?
A: I don’t know if I looked at it from a standpoint of importance, but I do think it’s an advantage. Spending my last six years in D.C., playing on and off there and then having the opportunity to join the Giants. I think playing those teams, their systems, their coaches, their coordinators may change but you do have a feel for players and their skillset. It’s a very competitive division and I do think there is value in staying in the east for sure.

Q: Did you have any existing relationship with Daniel Jones or have you even ever met?
A: I met Daniel just in pregame when we played them a couple times last year. I know him more as a quarterback because playing in the same division you get to watch their tape week in and week out because we are playing all the same opponents across the league. I thought he played very well as a rookie last year. His future is bright, his ceiling is high and he seems like a really great person. He’s obviously very lucky to have a guy like Eli in the quarterback room. A guy I really look up to and respect as a guy who did it right his whole career. I think Daniel knows the importance of a healthy quarterback room. I’ve talked to Daniel since I signed a couple times and just told him how excited I am coming up and learning this new system together. It’s kind of unfortunate the circumstances we are in right now. We have to get creative in ways to learn and grow. He seems like a great person and I’m excited to come in and learn alongside him and Alex (Tanney). Really just come in work hard and compete and bring out the best in our quarterback room, which I think will really benefit our team.

Q: You went through the 2011 lockout as a young quarterback. What advice can you offer Daniel on how to prepare for a season when the offseason is interrupted like this?
A: I had talked to a few of my friends about that lately. That was probably the worst thing to happen to me as a young quarterback. I played my rookie year and then we went into the lockout going into my second year. I didn’t get the playbook until we had two or three weeks of training camp. That was the first time I knew anything, and it was a completely new system. I played decent that year, but our team certainly struggled. I think I can take some experience and some lessons learned from that and hopefully help Daniel. I think Daniel is prepared for this, he played a lot more his rookie year than I did. There are challenges and it’s a new system, new ways to call plays. A new philosophy in what we are trying to accomplish as an offense. I will really do my best to be a great resource for him. I don’t know what the rules are yet, but hopefully as we get going on this virtually learning and installs with Coach Garrett, Daniel and I spending time on the phone to really talk about the ins and outs of what we are doing. I think as best we can, we are going to have to adapt and face these challenges just like everyone else in the league. Certainly, I remember that lockout season being a real challenge for me. I’ll do my best to help Daniel and make sure he is feeling as confident as he can and we as an offense are feeling as good as we can too.

Q: Did Coach Judge or Coach Garrett talk to you about how the quarterback room is going to be structured? You have Alex, who worked with Daniel last season. Are you guys competing directly or are you guys complementing each other? How is that working?
A: I did spend a lot of time talking to Coach Judge and talking to Coach Garrett. They seemed great over the phone. I’ve known Coach Garrett from playing against him the last six years. I really think his system is very QB friendly from watching it from afar, I’m excited to get going in that. I’m sure you guys all know the structure. I’m assuming Daniel is the starting quarterback, he was the sixth pick in the draft and he has a super bright future. That doesn’t just count out coming in and practicing hard and working hard in the classroom, and in the film room studying. I have sort of mentioned on another phone call earlier that for me I’ve been a backup and a starter. The way that I approach it is, number one, making sure that Daniel feels as comfortable as he can going into these games. Understanding and feeling good about the game plan and our preparation all week long so he can go out and play as best he can. I take pride in helping him feel that way and helping Coach Garrett. Being an old guy, you don’t get a lot of reps, but you have to do a lot of mental reps. The second part is the responsibility of being ready to play if something were to happen. You have to go in from the bench and play well and that’s expected, those two things. I’ve been a starter, and everyone wants to be a starter, but as a backup, it’s just as crucial to handle your business that way. I really feel confident that I bring value to this team and to that quarterback room. I think that approaching it that way is the right way. These challenges that we are facing right now with COVID-19 and having to learn online, it will be interesting. I think we will be alright.

Q: What is the key to being a good backup? Obviously you came in the league and wanted to play. What is the key to supporting a younger teammate and staying ready? Is there a key that you have that the Giants saw in you?
A: The one thing that Coach Judge and Coach Garrett told me is that we watched all your tape for 10 years and you have started a ton of games in this league. You also have been a backup and when you were called to come off the bench you have always stepped in and won the game and played well and played up to a standard. We value that and that’s why we want you to come be here. I think there are a lot of challenges in playing backup like I mentioned. You have to be ready to play and be able to watch tape, be disciplined, and learn because you are not going to get a lot of reps. I think more important than that is I look at it from a standpoint of what if I was to be a coach someday. I have played in a lot of different systems, my dad was my high school coach. I have been a water boy since I was three years old. I have been around the game and I love the game. Playing backup creates a lot of challenges and you may not play all year long. I backed up Kirk (Cousins) for two years and I didn’t take a snap. Some other seasons, I have played four or five games, it’s unique. I try to be another set of eyes, another set of ears, another encouraging voice and like a coach for whoever the starter is. I think it will help me if I want to make a transition someday to be a coach, to call plays. I want to understand and learn this system in a way that’s detailed, it’s structured and that I can call the game the way Jason would call the game. I think by doing it and by learning and understanding it, that really helps Daniel or whoever is playing. It would help me ultimately if I was called upon to play. I try to get creative with it, but I also know my role and what it entails. I couldn’t be more excited to come to a place where I don’t know a whole lot of people, but I love the game and I’m excited about the opportunity and the challenge. I’m just looking forward to when all this passes and getting up there and getting to work.

Q: You mentioned the challenges of learning the offense with Daniel and Alex. So much of the quarterback and receiver relationship is physical. You have to establish timing and stuff. As we are in these challenging times, how can you build that up with your receivers so when you do get to work out with them, you can hit the ground running?
A: I’m not real sure exactly how that’s going to work. When we do these Zoom live classes or installs I don’t know how it’s going to work, I have never used it. I’m hoping that there is some interaction between players. You are listening to your coach but maybe we can have interaction with the players or you can hop on a call with some of other guys. So you can ask, hey, how did feel about that or do you like the depth of that route, is that how you were taught. So you can go through a lot of different things with them. All 31 other teams are facing this same challenge. I think some teams who are going to continue in the same system maybe have a little bit of an advantage. I think the teams like us who have a new coach and a new system have a little bit of a disadvantage. That can’t be a crutch or an excuse either. We just have to figure out ways to get creative.  (Make sure) The first time we can toss the ball around and run some plays we are all on the same page. Hopefully we can figure that out.

Q: There’s a possibility that for a lot of years here we could watch Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins go against each other. I’m curious what your thoughts were on Dwayne after seeing him up close for a year?
A: It was good. I think Dwayne has a ton of potential, just like Daniel. I think Daniel played a little bit more this year, so he probably has a little more experience. But both of those guys were highly sought after in the draft last year. They both had great college careers and they both have a ton of skill at playing the position. I know Dwayne is very talented throwing the football. It would be good. I get to play against the Redskins for at least this year, and we’ll see what happens. It should be fun. I’m excited to work with Daniel after having worked with Dwayne last year. I know he has a bright future. It’ll be fun games, for sure.

Q: Have you gotten a playbook?
A: We’re going to get going on Monday, as long as that is upheld. I just don’t know the rules. But I think that’s sort of the plan. We’ll dive into the playbook then. I think right now, everybody is just really focusing on the health and wellness of our country. I know the Giants specifically for the players, they’re in constant contact with us, making sure we have all the things we need from a health standpoint. But again, I think there’s a lot of uncertainty. I think Monday is kind of the day where we’re going to get all of that and get going.

Q: You talked a little bit about a possible future in coaching. Is that something you’re kind of hypothetical about, or is that what’s going to happen at some point?
A: I certainly don’t want to rule that out. I’ve been playing football for a long time and been around the game a long time, too. I think I would be a good coach. I’ve played in a lot of systems. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp and understanding of the game. So yeah, I don’t want to rule that out. I still think that I have a lot of football to be played left in me. It’s why I’m still going. But coaching intrigues me, yes. I think that could be in my future. I looked at this as an opportunity to go learn from Coach Judge, Coach Garrett, Jerry Schuplinski, our QB Coach, he’s been a part of… He’s coached Tom Brady and many other guys. I think there’s a lot of value in this place, in this organization, to really learn more football and I’m excited about that.

Q: Have you had a chance to talk to Jason Garrett at all about that? He obviously had a long NFL career, mostly as a backup, and sort of made that jump to coaching. Have you had a chance yet, or is that something that might happen down the road?
A: Yeah, I’ve had great conversations with Coach Garrett, and some about that, for sure. He certainly has done that. He played for a long time and he’s been a super successful head coach. I’m excited to learn from him. Not only his system and him coming back to calling plays this year, which he hadn’t done in a couple of years, but really, I mentioned it earlier on this call, there is value to playing for a coach that played quarterback, that played your position. There are little things that pop up, and he sees the field the same way we do and he understands. But he has an expectation of us to play at a high level and he knows how he wants his offense run. But there is a difference. Playing for Coach (Jay) Gruden, he played quarterback too. There is a familiarity there that he sort of understands what we see and how we play. I think there is benefit to that.

Q: Along those lines, how much value is there going back and looking at tapes of Jason Garrett’s system before he became the head coach, back when he was the offensive coordinator in Dallas, and just getting a feel for what he does in certain situations?
A: I think there certainly will be a time for that. I’m sure we’ll watch Cowboys offense tape during these installs and kind of down the road. I think right now, we’re just trying to get a good grasp of just the terminology, the protections, the formations, how we call the plays, all those things. Once you kind of soak that in, I do see a big value in watching those plays be executed versus different coverages or defenses or fronts. I’m sure that’s coming. I think right now it’s more just learning the foundations of what we’re trying to do.

Q: When you were around Alex Smith, I’m just curious because of his reputation as a leader and to some degree mentor, I’m wondering if there was anything from Alex in particular that you picked up, and if you’ll be particularly curious in terms of what the future holds for him?
A: First of all, I love Alex. He was a tremendous resource, a great leader, a good football player, and above that, he was just a great person. My two years with him I think were some of my most enjoyed years. It was the worst thing ever to see him go down and have the injury that he faced and kind of walk through that with him, and we’re still walking through that with him. I felt more confident than ever when he went down coming in, playing and leading our offense. I felt like I was playing at a really high level before I broke my leg as well. But we had a great working relationship. I definitely will take a lot of the things I learned from him as I move on to the Giants, as far as just the quarterback room, the help of the quarterback room, studying, different ways that he looked at tape, you can go down the list. I really valued my time with him. He’s one of my best friends. I certainly hope that he has a chance to play again if that’s what he wants. We’ll see what happens with that.

CONFERENCE CALL WITH TIGHT END LEVINE TOILOLO…
The following is the transcript from today’s media conference call with tight end Levine Toilolo, who the New York Giants signed on March 17th:

Q: Before signing with the Giants, did they give you any indication regarding what your role is going to be? Are you going to be primarily a blocker or are they looking to expand the role you had?
A: We didn’t talk too much about roles or anything like that? All I know is I’m just coming in to work my tail off and do whatever they ask me to do. Whatever I can do to help the team win, that’s what I’ll do.

Q: What did you learn last year about a team that can make a quick turnaround after a losing season and go all the way to the Super Bowl?
A: I think that’s hard to speak on since I wasn’t there the year before to compare the two different teams. Just from my time there, it’s really hard to say as far as what they did to turn it around. Obviously, I had great teammates and great coaches. Like you said, we had a great season. It’s hard for me to speak on the whole turnaround aspect.

Q: Kaden Smith played at Stanford, you played at Stanford. What is it about that school that just seems to produce such quality tight ends?
A: I think that’s one of the programs that allow you to do a little bit of everything as far as blocking and receiving being in a pro-style offense. I think that just kind of helps you develop your game in all different aspects. A lot of great tight ends come out of there like Zach Ertz and Coby Fleener that I got to be teammates with. It’s really a credit to the coaches there and obviously guys like Kaden that work hard at their craft.

Q: Last year you had to wait until May to sign with San Francisco. Were you surprised this process moved as quickly as it did with the Giants?
A: Yeah, like you said, with last year you never know what to expect. I was ready to be patient if need be. I think with how quick everything went this time around it was definitely a different process. I’m excited about this opportunity and to come to New York.

Q: Do you think the league is turning more and more into two tight end sets? Do you see tight ends in general taking on a much bigger role in the passing game as opposed to years ago when they were primarily blockers?
A: I think for me being a little biased, I always think the more tight ends on the field, the better. I think the tight end position is a unique one in terms of you can have so many different body types and different athletes out there. You can ask them to do a wide range of things. Whether that’s in the blocking game or the receiving game. Even nowadays, you see tight ends lining up in the backfield as kind of a fullback or H-Back types. I always enjoy watching all different tight ends. You see them in different places in the offense. The game is always changing, and it may not always be like that but the game changes throughout time. It’s definitely a fun time to be a tight end.

Q: Last year, you kind of blocked in a running back-by-committee situation. What do you think it will be like to block for a guy like Saquon Barkley? What do you know from him? How do you think you can maybe help him and his career?
A: I don’t know him personally. I’ve just been able to watch him. Just the athlete that he is is always exciting to watch. I’m definitely excited to be able to get out there and hopefully do whatever I can to kind of help him out. Like I said, I’m just excited to be there and like I said, do whatever I can to help the team. If that’s trying to open up a hole or whatever, then I’m just going to focus on how I can try to help him and help this offense.

Q: Where do you feel most comfortable as a tight end? Obviously, you’ve done in-line blocking, you’ve done some receiving. What about working out of the backfield?
A: I’m pretty comfortable wherever they need me. I’ve had different roles. In Atlanta, I’ve been in the backfield as far as whether it’s lead blocking or floating around. But like you said, I’ve been in-line, I’ve been flexed out a little bit. Obviously as a player, you’re always working to improve on all aspects of your game. Even though I may not have been out there a lot, I think obviously throughout the season and offseason, it’s definitely something that I stay working on. If the team needs me to go wherever, obviously, I’m open to that.

Q: You’ve been on two teams that have gone to Super Bowls. Were there any common traits or common denominators between those squads that you found?
A: Obviously, every team in the league works hard and stuff like that. For me, one of the biggest things that I can definitely point out from the two teams that were successful was just the bond between the players and teammates, and just how close everyone was in the building. Not just player to player, but even the players to coaches. Everyone was pretty tight. When you’re able to build those relationships off the field and you can kind of come together and you’re kind of playing for more than just yourself. You’re playing for your brother next to you and for your coaches and stuff like that. That’s something that people may not really be able to see on the outside, just kind of the relationships that you have and that you’re able to build, and how that can really translate to on the field.

Q: When you come so close, especially this past year with a team like the 49ers who are kind of viewed as an ascending team in the league, is it hard to leave in free agency when you guys got so close? Were there any talks about going back there and trying to make another run?
A: Any time you go to a new team, it’s definitely going to be different. I think that’s the same thing with any aspect in life. Whenever there’s change, it’s obviously going to be a little uncomfortable. But just from the relationship I had with those guys, obviously there’s lifelong friendships made every time you go to a team. But at the same time, I’m definitely excited for… obviously, I already know some of the guys with the Giants, Stanford guys and stuff like that. But not only that, I’m excited to be able to meet some of the new teammates that I have and be with this new coaching staff. I’m excited for what’s to come, and for what we’re going to be able to try to work together and try to do. Like I said, to be a part of this team and this new opportunity is definitely exciting. I’m looking forward to it.

Q: With everything that’s going on with the Coronavirus, how has that kind of shook up your offseason routine with working out, training and all that? Just how surreal is it to sign with a new team, but you’re not really able to meet up with any of your new teammates in person or anything like that?
A: Like you said, it’s definitely been a different process this offseason. But luckily, I was here in San Diego kind of settled. I’m lucky enough to have some equipment and stuff like that so I can still be working out and at least stay in shape. But like you said, not being able to meet up with the guys and like you said, kind of start building that relationship is definitely going to be different. But hopefully everyone is staying safe. We’re hoping that everyone will be healthy and this will all be over soon. But until then, all I can do is try to stay in shape and stay ready for once we get the call.