In a major front office shake-up, the New York Giants have fired Director of College Scouting Chris Pettit and Senior Personnel Executive Kyle O’Brien.
Pettit first began working for the Giants as a training camp pro personnel intern from 1998-2000. He joined the Giants’ scouting staff in 2005 after spending the 2004 season as a scouting intern for the team. For 13 years, he served as an area scout for the Giants. Then in June 2018, he was promoted to the director of college scouting. In effect, Pettit replaced previously fired Vice President of Player Evaluation Marc Ross, who was in charge of the scouting department.
The Giants hired O’Brien last March to fill the team’s newly created position of senior personnel executive. O’Brien had spent the previous five years with the Detroit Lions, first as the team’s director of player personnel (2016) and then vice president of player personnel (2017-2020). O’Brien also served as the director of college scouting for the Jacksonville Jaguars (2013-2015).
On Saturday, the New York Giants made three more selections on the final day of the 2021 NFL Draft, including linebacker Elerson Smith (University of Northern Iowa) in the 4th round and running back Gary Brightwell (University of Arizona) and cornerback Rodarius Williams (Oklahoma State University) in the 6th round.
LB Elerson Smith Scouting Report: Smith is a tall, lanky, athletic rush end who projects to outside linebacker in the Giants’ system. He combines good size, arm length, big hands, initial get-off quickness, bend, and closing burst. Good pass rusher who makes plays in the backfield. Raw, Smith will need some time to develop and reach his potential. He will need to continue to get stronger and be more consistent at playing off of blockers in the run game. Smith is a hard worker both off and on the football field.
Sy’56’s Take:Fifth year senior from Minneapolis, Minnesota. One-year starter that had his senior season canceled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 1st Team All Missouri Valley Conference and 1st Team AFCA FCS All American in 2019. Smith broke out in his redshirt junior season, netting 21.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, and 2 blocked kicks. He plays the game with a level of ease and smoothness in traffic. He gets off the ball in a hurry with great leverage and upper body positioning, his hands are exceptionally fast, and the foot quickness is elite. Smith is just scratching the surface when it comes to his true potential. He needs to sleep in the weight room for a year before he can be an every down asset, but he will be a solid rotational pass rusher right away and has the upside of being a solid starter in multiple schemes.
*If you haven’t seen Northern Iowa play but you want to get a feel for what this kid looks like on the field, think about Jayson Taylor. He has the really long, borderline thin frame but plays with tremendous burst and bend for a player his size. Smith impressed me a ton at the Senior Bowl in the practice tapes. Really twitchy, plays low to the ground, and easily changes direction. His 2019 tape is something else, too. Good player here that may need more time than others but presents more upside than most guys in this tier.
RB Gary Brightwell Scouting Report: Brightwell is a big, physical, no-nonsense, downhill runner with good speed and acceleration for his size. He is not a particularly creative running back, being more of a one-speed, one-cut slasher. His biggest negative is ball security. He needs to protect the football better.
Sy’56’s Take: Sizeable slasher that can put his foot in the ground a burst upfield. Will push defenders back on contact, shows decent late wiggle. Hard nosed kid that will get yards after contact. Has fumble issues, mechanical.
CB Rodarius Williams Scouting Report: Williams has good size for a corner and has experience in both press and off coverage. He is a competitor who plays a physical game. Williams lacks ideal speed and quickness but he is instinctive in coverage. He breaks up a lot of passes.
Sy’56’s Take: Smart and instinctive. Supports the run and knows how to play physical in coverage without getting flagged. Plays faster than he times because of knowledge, feel, and reaction twitch.
Media Q&A with General Manager Dave Gettleman (Video):
Opening Statement: Obviously we had three picks, the 7th round is still going, I didn’t trade back so we could get to this sooner. Elerson Smith, who we took in the fourth round, is a kid that played at Northern Iowa, didn’t play this fall obviously because of COVID. He didn’t opt out. They just didn’t play. And he played the Senior Bowl. He’s long, he’s athletic and we watched him on his Northern Iowa tape and what sold us on him is they played Iowa State and he must have played about 85, 90 snaps. He’s a real tough kid, athletic, long, has some pass rush potential and he’s instinctive, so we really liked him. With the first sixth round pick, we took a running back out of Arizona, Gary Brightwell. He’s a big kid and he’s got a heavy body, he’s a heavy body runner, he’s in the 215, 220 range and he really is a quality special teams player. So he’s got dual value. Then our last pick was Rodarius Williams out of Oklahoma State. We had a solid value on him on the board. He’s athletic. He’s fast. He can carry the vertical. He plays our style. He’s a press corner and we were just very pleased to see him there. So those are our last three.
Q: When you talked leading into the Draft and you also talked about free agency, I think Kevin Abrams said you wanted to be aggressive. Did that carry over into the Draft and maybe lead to some of the trades?
A: I think it did. You know, we’ve had that mindset. And you know we just felt like, it’s all about calculated risk. You know, you go to Vegas, go to Atlantic City and some people are aggressive and some people aren’t. It’s just sometimes it’s instinct. Sometimes it’s just looking at the board and seeing where it’s going to take you. You know, we felt we were aggressive in the off-season and in the roster building season — there’s no off-season here. We were aggressive in the roster building season in both free agency and the Draft.
Q: Didn’t make any picks on the offensive line and really weren’t aggressive in free agency, but do you think that position is good enough and why did you feel that way if so?
A: First of all, you don’t want it to be good enough, you want it to be good, plain and simple. It’s really apparent that we have a little more confidence in our offensive linemen than you guys do. So I’m just going to say we’re happy with the group that we have. Obviously you’re always trying to get better and you’re not going to take a player just to take a player, you take a player because you think he’s going to improve the value of your team. Right now, our offensive line is what it is, the players are who they are and we’re going to move forward.
Q: You’ve invested either draft picks or trades, why so many corners and does that mean somebody has to be the odd man out here?
A: As the media says, and as the public perception is, this is a passing league. So why not a lot of corners, okay. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you can never have too many good players at a position, and when everybody comes in, let the games begin.
Q: Did you realize you had to wait 80 picks?
A: I knew it was going to be awhile, and I was going to have time to do a number of things, my taxes, etc., etc. It’s a long wait, but listen, that’s the way it is. That’s the way it turned out.
Q: The perception, and you hear it already, that Joe in his second year, his influence is increasing, his fingerprints are all over some of the philosophical things with the trade that never happened before. Wondering what you think of that?
A: I think that we have a great collaborative group going here. It’s not about me. It’s not about Joe. It’s about the New York Football Giants.
Q: How much did his role change in year two?
A: We collaborate. We’ve been collaborating since he walked in the door. It’s about the New York Giants.
Q: Elerson Smith, you said he’s got some pass rush. He was a skinny kid who became a not-skinny kid, obviously, very long arms, big hands, things like that. You have a lot of guys, you drafted two of them, you have two guys coming back, X-man (Oshane Ximines) and Lorenzo Carter, where do you see that edge rush situation?
A: Well, there’s a lot of competition there. Listen, I’ve said this a million times; fundamentally, the college kids are further behind than they used to be. So at the end of the day, it’s about do they have the talent, the physical talent, the feel, the instinct, to develop as pass rushers. Both of these kids do. Elerson definitely does. That’s why we drafted him and at the end of the day, it’s about competition. It’s about competition. And we just feel like with those two draft picks, we’ve upgraded.
Q: The Giants have not done well in the last 10 years, you haven’t been here for all of that, with that third, fourth, fifth round stab at a pass rusher. Do you think with these two guys, one or two of them, you got it right?
A: I always think I got it right. Listen, we’ll know in three years whether we got this right. And that’s what it is, okay. It’s perception and it’s what the media writes about players. We put a ton of time into this. We don’t do this for a hobby, all right, and in three years we’ll know if we’re right or not.
Q: You were on ESPN earlier and said that you feel like you guys are close to being able to compete. What gives you the most optimism and how much of that is from guys you were able to pick up this weekend?
A: I felt we’ve had a very good roster building season.
Q: Anyone in particular or any philosophical —
A: We feel like we’ve added a strong group of players at a variety of positions. We’ve added playmakers. We’ve added pass rushers. We added corners. We feel good about what we’ve done.
Q: In regard to the secondary and specifically, Rodarius Williams and Aaron Robinson, how much adding guys like that change what you guys can do schematically and coverage-wise?
A: Look, we are always looking for different skill sets that create versatility within our defensive schemes and look ultimately throughout the draft and free agency you’re looking for the best players available. We happened to go through the Draft and we had the opportunity to add two good corners, coming to compete with our current roster. We’ll see when they get here how it shakes out. I tell the guys all the time, truest thing I can say, it doesn’t matter how you get here; it’s what you do when you are here. We are excited to get these guys here and at the same time excited to work with everyone on our current roster, and again, look, our goal is to make every position as competitive as can be and that’s when you really get the best out of your team.
Q: You drafted five guys that were Senior Bowl participants this year and a few talked about the conversations they had with you and Rodarius mentioned. How important are those face-to-face conversations, especially in a year like this where you didn’t have the combine to meet with the guys?
A: For me, they are crucial. I don’t really like adding someone to our team or I can’t really have a strong enough opinion on someone if I have not had good enough interaction with them as a person and there’s no better opportunity to sit down with somebody and look them eye to eye and really ask them tough questions and get an answer and get a feel for them as a person. A number of guys at the Senior Bowl we came away with obviously the ability to have a strong opinion. To be honest the guys you only see on tape, if you don’t have enough interaction with, you may like them as a player and there’s just something missing that you can’t stand on the table and say, this guy fits our locker room, this guy fits our culture. So the interactions are definitely crucial for us.
Q: Is it possible at this point to gauge how much better you’ve gotten with this draft? And secondly, do you look at the other teams in your division in terms of what they have done and maybe whether you’ve gained on them or not or is that too early to do that at this point?
A: I don’t think you can ever make a team on paper. I don’t think you can ever really win in the offseason. To me it’s about adding competitive players each position. And then when training camp starts and the competition truly starts, that’s when we’ll know how much we’ve improved. We’ll know when we start the preseason games and truly know when we get into the season. It’s a fair question, I fully understand it. We are looking to add a raised level of play at every position. But by adding competition, one of two things happen: You either bring somebody in who you improve because they are good enough to take someone else’s job or you bring someone in who pushes the guys in front of him to keep their job, and either way you get a raised level of play.
Q: Gary Brightwell sounded like you talking about special teams and all the hidden yards and importance of it. What did you like about him in those roles while he was in college?
A: He’s a guy that definitely jumped out. A few weeks back, me, Tom Quinn and Thomas McGaughey were sitting in the staff room on a Saturday about 5:30am in the morning and Tom Quinn brought his name up and we watched his kick game and this dude was flying down the field and it was early enough that it woke you up and you really got excited about watching him. You start watching a lot more of his offense and start talking with our scouts who have done a lot of research on him and talking to Burton (Burns) as far as the running back value. Look, he’s a guy that jumps out from his skill set. You are always looking for good versatility and depth at those positions, running back and the kicking game. To be honest with you, the opportunity I had to really speak with him and spend some time with him even though it was over Zoom with Gary was very, very impressive. He has an tremendous story. This dude had the utmost compliments given to him from everyone who has been around him at every level. He was the guy that was available at the time and he was a guy we guy we could bring on on our roster and compete to be on the roster and make us a better team.
Q: From the outside there’s a lot of surprise that you guys didn’t address the offensive line throughout the three days of the Draft. Dave talked about this but I’m curious from your perspective on the guys that you have and whether you’re completely comfortable going into the season with the group you’ve got.
A: First off I’m encouraged by the guys we have on our roster right now. They are working hard. We don’t have them in the building just yet, not all of them. As we get closer to the mandatory minicamp and training camp, we’ll get a feel for them on the grass. I would say we are always looking to make every position more competitive, but right now we are committed to working with the guys on our roster and approving each one of those guys individually and that should help the unit collectively.
Q: Elerson Smith, lower level of competition, gained a lot of weight, big hands, good athlete. This team has been looking for an edge rusher for many years. You think you got it right with these two guys?
A: I think we added two guys between Elerson and Azeez that are going to be able to come in that have a skill set to develop and work with, both guys really fit our outside linebacker category. In our defense, our outside backers have a variety of skill set. Some guys are more stout, set the edge guys better in early down run setting and some guys are more third down sub-package pass rushers. Elerson is a guy, I got to sit down with him in Mobile at the Senior Bowl and was impressed with him down there playing. You watch his tape, the one thing I would say about guys from small schools and low level of competition, I think sometimes people over-evaluate someone because where they played in college. And this is a guy you look at his story, he weighed 195 pounds coming out of high school, was built more like a receiver. So someone obviously at Northern Iowa did a good job evaluating this guy and seeing his upside and potential. That’s what I think we did a good job as well with, and we’re going to have an opportunity to develop it. But he’s gained a lot of weight. That just shows his commitment to body and really developing over time. Some guys are late bloomers. But I know when Northern Iowa plays, whether it’s him or Spencer Brown another guys who was drafted along with other guys, those guys play tough. You watch their tape. They are a competitive team. So to me I look at a lot of lower competition, per se, quote, or smaller schools as really more of an opportunity to grow these guys as guys that really weren’t always in a program where they had great nutrition plans or maybe the top-tier strength program or assets available to them. Sometimes you get a guy from a really good program and you have to look and say, how topped out are they. They have been coached very well, had a resource at all times; what is their ceiling and how much higher can they go. A guy from a smaller school, you can say, we can really develop this guy. You know, let’s be patient with this guy, give him time, throw them in, let them compete and if they have upside, all of a sudden you really see them competing on your roster.
Q: Last year was a whirlwind. How is this year, the whole process and your involvement any different?
A: No, I think from the day I got here we all worked together very well. That’s one thing that I talked about from the very beginning. It’s been very open on both sides of the building. It’s just one building. It’s not separated personnel and coaching. Everyone is working together. Right now we have our scouts working with the coaches on the free agency process after the Draft, me and Dave (Gettleman), Kevin (Abrams), Mark (Koncz), Tim (McDonnell) and Chris (Pettit), we always talk fluidly throughout the entire process. There is more involvement because I wasn’t here last fall, or two falls ago. The ability to talk about who is in the draft, who we are targeting, what kind of bodies, change of the scheme and further understanding on both sides what we are looking for and how we work together. After going through a cycle last year, you knock off some of the newness and this time through it was a lot more fluid.
Media Q&A with Director of College Scouting Chris Pettit (Video):
Q. You drafted five guys that were at the Senior Bowl this year and a lot of those guys talked about those conversations had with them and the things you learned about them. How important was that this year, especially, when you didn’t have the combine and all the traditional visits? Was there extra value added on meeting guys there?
A: Every year, we’ve taken guys from the Senior Bowl. Senior Bowl does a great job of recruiting and bringing in really good players to get a look at. There’s, you know, every year I feel like we draft guys from there. This year, it really was — I said it the last couple nights was our really only time to be face-to-face with the prospects and how important that was to the process of just seeing them, feeling them, getting close to them. So yeah, it was super important, but every year they do a great job of bringing in really good players down there for us to evaluate.
Q. And then one guy that wasn’t at the Senior Bowl that you picked was Gary Brightwell who was a little more under the radar. Joe talked about how impressed he was with the special teams tape. Was that something that stood out to you?
A: Yeah, absolutely. Especially, one of our special teams coaches, Tom Quinn, ran into me one day in the hall and said he really saw some good traits in him. So we threw on the tape. Also as a runner, this guy will help us as a running back, as well. He’s competitive. He’s tough. He’s got good hands. Good athlete. So yeah I’m looking forward to seeing him run and also contribute on teams.
Q. Obviously Joe told us that the process was already starting with you guys trying to get together and worry about after the Draft and free agency. If you can explain what this year’s process looks like compared to obviously last year where you were not bringing guys in and going virtual. How different is this year and do you have a number in mind of how many guys you will look to sign after the Draft?
A: Between the scouts and coaches, we’re collaborative and we work together on recruiting and really trying to get these guys signed up after the Draft is over. It’s definitely been a better process this year than it was last year doing it all virtual. It was difficult. I’ll be honest, it was difficult. I’m sitting there looking, trying to organize it all with about 60 faces on the Zoom and the communication was hard. I think we did a great job last year and this year is going to be even better. We have the coaching staff here and we can communicate face-to-face. We have some of our scouts that live locally around and that’s helping out and then we have our scouts Zoomed in the room. It will be better this year but we’re not at full capacity when we are all together working as a team face-to-face.
Q. Rodarius Williams is going to be 25 in September. Some teams are drafting guys who are 20. How old — how do you look at age in the draft process? Is there a number that’s too old? Is there a number that’s too young? Are you aware if a guy is 22 versus 23? Do you know that number off the top of your head? How do you see age?
A: I mean, I think it’s a piece of the puzzle like every measurable is or every skill is. Obviously it didn’t affect us, his age and why we took him. You know, it’s case-by-case basis when it comes to the age to be honest with you. But no, I mean, actually he’s more mature. We don’t have to — some of these guys that are coming in, maybe don’t have the life skills being younger players, really straight out of high school almost. But no, it’s part of the puzzle like everything else, like I said, every measurable, every skill.
Q. You just spent the last year of your life devoted to these three days. What is your takeaway of this class and how does it compare to what you might have expected coming in?
A: This has been going since really our BLESTO meetings last May, I had my mind on this date. So it’s been good. It been a difficult year for all of us. But it’s been a great process. We’ve learned a lot. We learned new ways to scout. I think that’s going to help us going forward. I’m really excited about the class. There’s guys that we kind of targeted way back in February and we’re happy they were there for us at the time they were. So you know I feel good. I feel good about every draft class. We put a lot of work in both — all the scouts, all the personnel, all the coaches, we put a lot into this, so it’s a big day for us.
Q. When you look at a guy like Elerson (Smith), Joe was just talking about big school, small school. Is he a little more of hey, you look at him and say, he is not what he’s going to be and you project him and just what kind of potential as a pass rusher do you see him having?
A: I think there’s a lot of potential. The biggest thing with the smaller school guys, we always start at step one, do they dominate that level. They have to dominate that level of competition to get in the conversation. And the great thing about Elerson that, again, reference the Senior Bowl again, but we got to see him on the same playing field with guys from Power Five schools and the higher levels and he fit right in. He competed his butt off and looked the part. You got to compare apples-to-apples there. That was a great venue for us. There were times when he had to play a Division I team. He played Iowa State this year, played over 90 plays in that game and competed to the last whistle and it was really impressive to see. But I think there’s big upside there, with all our players, they are going to have to come in and develop and become pros.
Q. I know you’re finishing up and probably haven’t turned the page yet but you spend your whole year to get to this date. What’s the mindset you take when you are going to be leaving moving forward knowing, okay, next year now, we have all these extra first, an extra third, an extra fourth (picks in 2022 Draft).
A: Yeah, kind of what I alluded to last night with the class next year being so large, to have the extra picks is really beneficial going forward. To be honest with you it makes it fun knowing that we have all these opportunities to take players next year. So I’m looking forward to it. With a big class, it’s going to be a lot of work for us. Our scouts are going to have to be as thorough as ever and start work earlier with such a big class and guys moving all around. We know that and we are ready to take on the challenge but now at least we have the picks to hit it out of the park next year again hopefully.
Q. Did you get any directive or direction from the defensive coaching staff about the cornerbacks you were looking for as opposed to in years past and can you talk about sort of how Rodarius (Williams) and A-Rob (Aaron Robinson) line up with each other? Are they a similar type of player?
A: Number one, first day here with our coaching staff, is let’s sit down with the personnel and coaching staff and talk about what kind of players they want and what works in the scheme. The last thing we want to do is, you know, give them players that don’t fit their scheme and type of people. It’s collaborative. I’m sure Dave has said that many times but it’s true. We work together. It’s our job as personnel people to provide them the players that work. As far as Rodarius and A-Rob, they have some similar skill sets, both long, both physical and both competitive, instinctive minds. I think they fit our scheme. They both are good in press. Ball skills, they both have ball skills which we emphasize. I’m excited to see those guys work together.
Q: Obviously, the Giants were at the Senior Bowl and I’m curious about how much you talked to them there? Do you remember those conversations? What was your impression of the Giants when you met with them?
A: At the Senior Bowl, I just had a brief 15-minute interview just like any other team there. I didn’t really get to know them much or meet with the other coaches and people on staff until later when we had a few meetings. First impression was. obviously, I just know that the New York Giants is a great, historically great, organization. I’m excited to be able to contribute to what they have.
Q: When you arrived in Northern Iowa, you were really thin, like 215 pounds or whatever it was. Then you put on all that weight. How would you describe what this journey has been like for you going from that skinny kid to being drafted by the New York Giants, which has a pretty rich history of pass rushers obviously?
A: It’s been a process. I’ve had to take advantage of each day early on when I wasn’t getting a lot of acknowledgement or recognition. It was a process. I was just kind of working in the dark and just making sure that I was getting the most out of every day. It has been a whirlwind the past few months. I’m excited to kind of take that same approach when I get to New York – just making sure that I’m getting better everyday and not letting days get by where I’m not getting better because if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. I’m really excited to be a part of New York.
Q: Technically, you called it an opt-out from last year, but clearly, that’s not what happened until the spring anyway. What was it like to have that senior season taken away from you?
A: It’s tough because your senior season is what you look forward to, you know, for all four years really. We had a great group of guys playing together in Northern Iowa and we really had a chance to make a run for it this year. But, obviously, with Covid and everything going on, it’s not the worst thing that could have happened to me. I just tried to go with the flow and understand that it is what it was and I had no control over the season being canceled. So, I just wanted to make sure that I was making the most out of my days and continuing to work toward the Senior Bowl and our Pro Day.
Q: How important was that Senior Bowl because nobody had been able to see you on the field since December of 2019?
A: It was huge. I think at that point, it was the only film I had where I played around 260. All my other film I was around 240 or 235. I just wanted to show teams that I could play with the new weight and to show them I was working hard on my body and my game and that I am able to contribute to an NFL team at this point. It was an important week because I didn’t have the film like everyone else had from the 2020 season.
Q: Obviously, being 6’6″, you have a size advantage off the edge over a lot of tackles, but is there a pass rush move that is kind of your go-to or one that you’ve really refined and you think is your best trait?
A: I like to work moves together. I love a good bull rush. I think my get-off is what starts all my pass rush moves. I love driving offensive linemen off the jump, get their feet moving and really get them scared of my length and my get-off. From there, depending on what the offensive line is giving me, it’s going to be a bull rush or I’m going to take the edger or coming underneath. I love pass rushing, though. I have a lot of fun doing it.
Q: I just wanted to ask you – the Giants also took an edge rusher in the second round in Azeez Ojulari. Are you a little bit surprised to land in New York? How much do you know about the edge rush situation with the team?
A: I’m not surprised to land in New York. I had a decent amount of meetings with them before. The edge rush situation is something out of my hands, but I’m excited to get to know the guys. I’m excited to work with them. I’m excited to get better with them and try to make the pass rush better as a whole unit. I don’t know much about Azeez, but I’m sure he’s a great player and I’m excited to get to know him and get after it and get to work with him, too.
Q: How much football have you played in the last like five years? It seems like ’16 and ’17, you didn’t play, ’18 was limited and ’19 was a big season. Is it only two years in the last five?
A: Yes. I mean, other than practice, which I treated like those were my games because that’s what I needed to get better at, my first few years of college, I started one year. Then, I was in a reserve pass rush role my sophomore year. I just like to make the most of my opportunities and I was able to do that my junior year. I think that’s a result of me treating those first few years like those were playing seasons for me or preparing for every game throughout those seasons, so I was ready at that point.
Q: I noticed you blocked two kicks. Are we talking about placekicks and you’re coming up the middle, I assume?
A: Yup. Just right on the ball, getting off and driving through the back.
Q: You’re being drafted as a pass rusher here, but have any teams asked you to play tight end or told you that they would like you to? I know you’re such a well-rounded athlete. You did it in high school. Is that something the Giants and other teams talked to you about?
A: No, not the Giants. I heard a joke about it, but no serious talk about me playing tight end.
Q: When the season was cancelled, I think you entered the transfer portal but then pulled your name out. What were those couple weeks like and what was that specific decision like for you? How did it go and how did you come to the decision to not transfer and not play?
A: Honestly, that was one of those things that were out of my hands again. I entered the transfer portal a few days after our season got cancelled because I thought it would be best for me to be able to boost my stock at a bigger school or maybe just find somewhere to play because I knew I wanted to enter this draft. After the FCS season, I entered the transfer portal and was talking to some schools. I had some schools in mind, but then the FBS cancelled, or postponed their season for that brief little stint there – a brief few weeks a day after I was into it – so, at that point everything was so up in the air. I was like, ‘I’m just going to declare and start training for the Pro Day and Senior Bowl.’ That’s kind of how it happened.
Q: I know you’re from the Minneapolis area. Do you know Carter Coughlin at all? I know you grew up near each other.
A: I actually don’t, not personally. I played against him in high school, football and basketball. I know he’s a great athlete. I know he did great things at the University of Minnesota and I’m excited to get to know him in New York.
Q: You probably posted him up pretty good in basketball.
A: I wasn’t very good at basketball. I was a wrestler most of my life. I played basketball a little bit later, even though it’s funny because I’m 6’6″, I’m not a basketball player.
Q: What does this moment mean for you to get drafted by the Giants and considering your journey here and everything you’ve been through? What does it mean to get picked by them?
A: This moment is special for me. My family grew up as Giants fans, so I mean this is everything I dreamed of.
Q: So does that mean you’re a Tiki Barber guy? Who was your favorite running back growing up?
A: Tiki Barber was my favorite running back.
Q: Tell us about your game, Gary. What are you going to bring to the team?
A: I’m excited to bring some special teams to the field. I’m going to bring a lot of explosive plays, but my priority right now is getting the playbook, getting on special teams and dominating.
Q: Did you talk to [Head] Coach [Joe] Judge about that already? He’s a pretty big special teams guy.
A: Nah, that’s my thing. That’s been my thing since high school. I’ve been a special teams guy.
Q: What do you like about that?
A: I feel like special teams starts the game and also finish it. Special teams has all the hidden yards. I mean, you need special teams to dominate.
Q: How can your parents be Giants fans when you’re from Chester?
A: I don’t know. I mean, my parents are not Giants fans. My mom is an Eagles fan, but obviously she’s got to be one (Giants fan) now. And my uncles and aunts are Giants fans.
Q: You didn’t get a chance to play a lot because of Covid. Is that good or bad or what?
A: I mean, it could be good or bad, but to me I think it worked out just right. I’m a Giant.
Q: How much did the Giants talk to you about special teams and how do you show them? How does the draft process go about in providing to them that you can do special teams and showing them?
A: I mean, we didn’t really talk about special teams. We broke the film down and we mentioned special teams, but honestly special teams impacts me. I like to be the guy that starts the game off like on kickoff at Arizona. Unfortunately, I couldn’t play it last year as much as I wanted to, but I feel like special teams starts the game. Without special teams, it could be a win or lose situation. It’s the hidden yards.
Q: What units did you play on at Arizona?
A: So last year, I got to play punt pro [protection] and I also played kick return because I was the starter last year. But years before, I played everything.
Q: Just your thoughts on being in the running back room with [Running Back] Saquon [Barkley].
A: Honestly, my thoughts about it is I get to play behind a guy who’s very competitive. I’m going to make him work and for sure he’s going to make me work, but I just can’t wait to see how he approaches the day because I know some guys have different ways. And he can help me a lot, honestly. I mean, he’s been there for a few years now, so he can help me a lot. He knows secrets that I might not know right now, so I want to learn from this guy.
Q: Hey Rodarius, congratulations. So you’re actually Greedy Williams older brother, but he got to the NFL two years first.
A: Yes sir.
Q: What’s that like when you’re the older brother and he’s there first? Are you thirsty to get there? Now, what’s that moment like?
A: It’s just a humbling moment, man. Everything that he felt on his day, I feel. I’m just ready to get in and get the work done.
Q: What has he told you about NFL life?
A: Stay healthy, stay on top of things and don’t get in any trouble.
Q: Hey Rodarius, congratulations. Can you describe your game a little bit? And also, a lot of guys down at the lower part of the draft have a lot of special teams value. Are you one of those kinds of guys?
A: I wasn’t a big special teamer, but I did play special teams. I’m coming from a four-year starting experience, so whatever needs be I’ll adjust. Whatever you guys need of me is what I’m going to do.
Q: What kind of player are you? How would you describe yourself? Obviously, you’re very durable. You play all the time.
A: I’d say durable like you mentioned and definitely high confidence in myself. I believe that I will go down as one of the greats.
Q: Hey Rodarius, congratulations man. You’re 24 years old if I read correctly. That’s usually on the older side, so I’m wondering what that was like throughout the process and how much teams harped on that or you heard that or you had to fight that perception of, ‘Hey, you’re already old or older,’ I should say.
A: I’ve never had any run-ins or anything as far as things like that. My coaches used to tell me, if you could play, you could play, regardless of age. Teams definitely can see my durability. I don’t miss too many games. I don’t miss too many practices. I’m a guy that’s going to show up to work.
Q: Hey Rodarius, did you speak with the Giants at the Senior Bowl and what was your impression of them when you had conversations with them?
A: Oh we had a great talk. They were one of the teams that showed a lot of interest in me when we had meetings and stuff like that, drawing up plays and stuff like that. I was just showing them my knowledge of the game. They really took a lot of interest in me and I’m just – I’m not really shocked that you guys picked me. I kind of had expectations to go to the Giants leading up to the Draft.
Q: Yeah, so I was going to say, when you left your meetings with the Giants, did you say in your head, ‘I think this team might try and draft me’? Was that in your head right away?
A: Yes, most definitely. I was like, ‘This is going to be one of the teams that definitely gives me a call.
With the 18th pick (50th overall) in the 2nd round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected linebacker Azeez Ojulari (University of Georgia). The Giants traded down from the 10th pick in the round (42nd overall) in exchange for a 2022 3rd-round pick from the Miami Dolphins.
The Giants then selected cornerback Aaron Robinson (University of Central Florida) with the 7th pick (71st overall) in the 3rd round. The Giants traded up from the 12th pick in the round (76th overall), giving away their 5th-round selection that they acquired from the Chicago Bears on Thursday night.
Azeez Ojulari Scouting Report: Ojulari is an edge rusher who combines good size (6’2”, 249 pounds) with excellent overall athleticism. Natural pass rusher who also plays hard. He threatens tackles with his initial quickness, bend, rip move, and closing burst. Ojulari has long arms for his size and is physical with his hands. Ojulari needs to disengage from blockers more consistently and will need to add inside pass rush moves to his arsenal. He flashes pass coverage skills but he will need work in this area. Improving player who has a big upside.
Sy’56’s Take: Third year sophomore entry from Marietta, Georgia. A two-year starter that earned 2nd Team All SEC honors in 2020. The semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award led the SEC in tackles for loss and sacks in 2020, a year after leading the Bulldogs in sacks and pressures. Ojulari is a mature, hardworking kid that gets the most out of his talents. He won team-awards for most improved player in 2019 as well as one for his efforts during the offseason strength and conditioning program. Ojulari was also a team captain in 2019, the first time a freshman has earned that honor in the Coach Smart era. This is a kid that has high-end talent that can be used in multiple ways for a defense, and it is paired with top notch intangibles. His game really started to blossom as the 2020 season came to a close. He finished with 5 sacks over his last 3 games. Ojulari still has more physical development to achieve, as he will need to add functional weight to play the every down edge in the NFL, but his versatility, talent, and intangibles will make him a dangerous defensive weapon and he can be one of the best when things come together.
No inside information here. I think Ojulari is on the NYG short list for #11 overall. I’m not exactly sure what NYG is looking to add to their outside pass rush. Do they want a pure burner (what Carter was supposed to turn into, and still can), or do they want an inside-out versatile piece? If it is the former, Ojulari is a very strong possibility. I think he has the best get off in the group. That is a great place to start. I also believe who he is as a person will be exactly what NYG wants to add.
Aaron Robinson Scouting Report: Robinson is a tough, aggressive, athletic slot corner with decent size (6’0”, 190 pounds). He plays a physical game. Speedy, he can run with receivers deep. Robinson is better in press man coverage than off coverage. He will play the run but needs to be a more consistent tackler.
Sy’56’s Take: Fifth year senior from Deerfield Beach, Florida. Began his career at Alabama in 2016 where he played in 13 games. Transferred to Central Florida in 2017 and redshirted. Two-year starter that earned 2nd Team All AAC honors in both 2019 and 2020. Robinson has the pro-caliber foot speed and burst that enables him to stay sticky to his man on all levels of the route tree. He can play the game with his feet rather than getting too grabby with his hands. Robinson has a lot of dog in him. He is always one of the toughest players on the field and he knows it. Even though he needs to control where he gets aggressive and where to gamble, he is the kind of player that elevates the energy of a defense. That doesn’t occur much from cornerbacks. His size may keep him at nickel but he can play both.
There are some corners that elevate their game with swagger. They are constantly getting in fights, constantly running their mouth. I understand that isn’t an approach for everyone to get behind, but I personally love it. Much prefer that than guys on opposing teams laughing with each other all game and trading jerseys afterward. Robinson hates his opponent every week, and he plays like it. He also has really well developed technique and footwork. Little gamble here, but I think he is starting in the league within a year or two.
Media Q&A with General Manager Dave Gettleman (Video):
Opening Statement: So we were busy. I’m learning to make right turns in NASCAR. So we traded back to 50. We got a third round pick in ‘22 and picked up Azeez Ojulari, who we are really thrilled to get. He’s an edge pass rusher. He’s instinctive. He’s very bright. He plays hard, and he’s got pass rush ability and he’s also a solid run player. We’re really thankful to get him. In the third round, we swapped spots with Denver and wanted to move up. Obviously we’re working on defense and we picked Aaron Robinson, who is a nickel, who has got the ability to play nickel and outside the perimeter, and he’s an excellent tackler, ball hawk. He’s got all the stuff. So we’re really pleased to get these two kids into our program.
Q. Did you ever think you would get addicted to trading back?
A:Let me tell you something, you never know. You never know. You know, listen, it’s all about if the opportunity is right. It’s about your board. It’s about value meeting need. It’s all those things. And like I told you guys last week, I’ve tried in the past and it just hasn’t worked. We thought we got just really good value here. And you know, again, it’s one of those deals where, for example, we move from 42 back to 50, so that’s eight slots and we had five guys there that we would take at 50. The odds are, eight slots, it’s five guys, there’s going to be — one of those five is going to be there for you. We’ve just been able to do that.
And then with the value we had on Aaron, I just didn’t want to sit and wait. We just felt — he’s a press corner and really fits what we want to do and who we want to be on defense. It’s just having the opportunity and it’s how your board lines up.
Q. With getting ‘22 picks — was that a priority?
A: I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a priority. It was important to us.
Q. Was wondering, what was going through your mind when you saw Azeez keep falling?
A: Here’s what I’m going to say to you. You have to have confidence in your ability to evaluate players. So you just turn around and people are missing it for whatever reason and it didn’t scare us, that’s for darn sure. We’re thrilled to get him.
You know, it’s kind of the same thing when people cut a player. The instinct is to say what’s wrong. My attitude is maybe they made a mistake. So it’s one of those deals where the fact that Azeez was dropping did not impact us at all in terms of our opinion of his playing ability and what he could do for us.
Q. You guys have invested some real resources in the secondary since last year, the draft picks you brought in, James Bradberry, obviously this year with Adoree’ and now Aaron Robinson. How does Aaron fit in there and how close are you to being a finished product on the back end?
A: Where Aaron fits in is he gives us more perimeter muscle, so to speak, and he’s also got that flexibility to play the nickel and play the star. We think he’s a great fit, obviously, because we traded up, hello, stating the obvious. Captain Obvious. We think he’s a great fit for our defense and our back end and we feel like you can never have too many assets back there because players come and go. You have injuries. People will say it’s a passing league and it is to a degree. And the other thing that we really liked about Aaron is you do the studies, you do the analytics — I do do it, people — and the best defenses have the best tackling secondaries, and Aaron Robinson is a really good tackling corner.
Q. Was Azeez going to be the pick at 42 if you couldn’t trade it and was Robinson one of the five guys that you thought would be there at 50 when you did get there?
Q. Yes to both?
Q. That’s a good, short answer and now I can ask a follow-up. You said getting picks for next year was important. Why is that? This seems like a team that’s poised to make a jump in 2021, why is it so important to get those picks in the future?
A: I think I said this at the pre-draft presser, this draft right now, in terms of unknowns, you have more unknowns than you can shake a stick at. You have kids that didn’t play this year. You have a lot of incomplete medical information. It’s really kind of an odd draft class. It’s an odd year. The NCAA allowed all those players to get another year and a ton of them did. One of the SEC schools, they had 13 kids decide to go back and play next year, 13 kids that could have been in this draft. That was pretty heavy throughout the Power Five conferences. We really have a feeling that next year’s draft is going to be really strong and it just gives you options.
Q. You didn’t take an offensive lineman in the first two days. Is that because — obviously the board and need and you think maybe there’s guys in the fourth or fifth round you can get, but does it also indicate you like a lot of the guys on your team and you don’t have to force anything?
A: No, actually we were looking at offensive linemen for the last two picks, and the value didn’t meet the pick, plain and simple. We had one guy we had our eye on, two guys specifically we had our eyes on and they got taken before they got to us. So no, you always want to add, you always want competition. Whether you draft a position or not has nothing to do with how happy you are with that position. It has everything to do with the draft value at the time you’re picking.
Q: Can you speak about the importance of getting some edge pass rushing in there? The Giants defense for years, it used to be an automatic with pass rushers and it’s been an issue for you particularly on the outside?
A: First off, I was pleased with the progress we made on defense last year with the guys on our roster. We had injuries that affected guys like Zo (Lorenzo Carter) and X-man (Oshane Ximines), and we had some rookies. And obviously we had some rookies had to come in and step up and got good contribution from guys like Jabaal Sheard when they were on the team. So we didn’t look at this in the nature of, you know, that we had to absolutely go out there and address something, or else it was going to be dire. We have confidence in the guys we have on our roster. We like Azeez (Ojulari) as a player. We have a lot of experience with him throughout this organization. Marcus Cooper one of our scouts has great relationships with these guys. We put a lot of trust in his evaluations because he gets it know these guys on a deep basis and coincidentally actually three picks came from Coop’s area and he has a lot of inside info on these guys. On top of that, you talk about Azeez, the coach he’s going to play for, Kevin Sherrer, recruited and signed him at the University of Georgia before he was a freshman. You talk about the other coaches that we have on staff that had to play against him in the SEC, he’s always a guy that stood out to them on the field as someone they had to account for. I have a lot of respect for the way (Georgia Head Coach) Kirby (Smart) runs his program. I love those guys down there. I think they play tough and they are well-coached. To be able to add a guy to our team to compete with our current roster, he was a good fit for us. We are excited to have him here but like all other rookies, he’s got to come in and compete when he gets here.
Q. With Azeez, it’s out there that there was a knee problem and some teams actually flagged him. Where did you guys stand on that?
A: Yeah, listen, I don’t think there’s a player in this draft or any draft for that matter that doesn’t have something that shows up on a board. I trust our medical team, Ronnie (Barnes) and his guys do a great job. We have some of the best doctors in the world who look in these guys and constantly update us on what they think the current risk is. All I can go back to is this guy came back, he played, this guy doesn’t miss practices at Georgia. He played with very high effort, high intensity. I’m very pleased with what you saw on tape in terms of the medical expertise. I leave that on Ronnie Barnes and his staff and I let them go ahead and give us the information, and with that information make the decisions.
Q. What did you like about (Aaron) Robinson?
A: A-Rob is a good player. Again we are excited to add him to the program. Going to come in and compete. There’s going to be a lot of competition with defensive backs, corners and safeties.
Look, this is a guy that jumped out to us on tape and as well as when we were down at the Senior Bowl got to see him in person, sit down, meet with him; I had multiple meetings that week. Got the Zoom throughout this process. So we had a lot of exposure with this guy as a person, and this guy really does, he’s got a good personality, he really lights up. This is a guy, he plays on the field and you see when he makes a play, his teammates immediately sprint to him. There’s a lot of excitement. You can tell he’s got a bond with his teammates, and that stands out with the energy his teammates play with as well.
In terms of him as a player, he’s a physical player with good traits and gives us versatility to play inside, outside. This guy has some value to play in the kicking game as well. Just the demeanor he plays with, the physicality and his ability to play in both press and off, he’ll give us some options how we can use him.
Q. We know about your connection with Kirby and talking about that Georgia program, how much does that help with transition, and is what they do similar to what you do schematically?
A: I would say the answer in terms of the terminology or maybe some of the concepts of the defense, there are similarities to that. It’s all basically off the same branch of the defensive tree and philosophy from different coaches in the past. However, it doesn’t matter where you come from. None of these rookies have a leg up on anyone. They come in and have to learn our league and system and compete with our vets from on the roster. Just being from a certain school doesn’t give anyone a leg up on anything. You have to come in — the National Football League is completely different from college. You have to learn a lot of things about it: The speed of the game, the tempo of the game. So it’s nice that he’s from a familiar system, but past, you know, day one install meetings and basic terminology, that’s the only jump he’ll have on anybody else.
Q. This is obviously not a new world for the Giants, but the way the draft was manipulated the last two days, moving down, you had a fifth round pick you gained and you just traded away, was with the Giants for about 12 hours or something like that. Do you like this a little bit more rock and roll and keeping everybody on their toes?
A: It’s making the best decision for the team at the time. We had an opportunity to move down and gain more value because there are a number of players we feel in that range are going to be available, we’ll go ahead and look at that option. As you saw with A-Rob, we didn’t want to give somebody else a chance to take him at that point; he was a priority for us to get, so we used the pick to trade on up. As I said yesterday, these picks are people and make calculated risks whether you acquire them or give them up. I feel good about what we did today in the draft. I’m sure Dave has got a concussion or something, so make sure we check on him overnight and we’ll get back to work tomorrow.
Q. With all the uncertainty, how important were those Senior Bowl meetings?
A: Yeah, I thought they were critical. I really thought Senior Bowl this year did a great job of making sure that everyone got to meet with every player and the set up down there was really phenomenal and not having the Combine, Senior Bowl really replaced the personal interactions with those guys. I don’t think you can ever replace getting to see a guy play or work out or compete in person and be able to sit down and look a guy eye-to-eye and really get a feel for them. Zoom is nice. Personal interaction is critical.
Q. What do you remember particularly about the one with Robinson?
A: I just remember he had a very direct personality. You talk to him, he lit up when you start talking football. That’s important, again, the passion for the game. I just like direct, honest people and he’s got that to him.
Q. What is your relationship like with Kirby Smart and is there a quality in the players that he coaches that stands out? Because you have drafted three guys from there in the last year, whether that’s a coincidence or not.
A: Well, I think the coincidence would be that he just coaches really good players. They do a great job of recruiting top talent and develop them over the course of time they are there. Those players work hard and player hard and understand the value of playing old school, fundamental, physical football. That’s really what draws to us. Me and Kirby we worked three years at Alabama. I have a lot of respect for him as a person and I have a lot of respect for him as a coach. When you know where someone is coming from, you have a little bit of insight in how you can coach them, okay, what really makes them tick and how they respond in adverse situations.
Q. How critical was weekends like this in determining when you’re building your coaching staff, because you have so many assistants that were former college coaches with ties to these major programs. How much did that factor into the hiring process for you?
A: Actually none of it. We have a great scouting staff here, so we didn’t anybody in to supersede what anybody is doing. Really, this is a bonus. I hired the best coaches I can find, and it starts with being good people and good teachers.
Media Q&A with Director of College Scouting Chris Pettit (Video):
Q. A lot of the trading up and down has been the story of the Draft, not something you guys have done much of. Has this process been different than past drafts?
A: No, I don’t think so. Since I’ve been here, like Dave said I think in his presser, we have tried. We’ve tried to trade up and down before, and it has to work out — it’s worked out this year where we’ve been able to gain assets and used those assets to gain a player that we really like. I wouldn’t say it’s any different. Every year since I’ve been here we’ve been aggressive in trying to better the team. Just this year, it’s working out.
Q. What’s that moment like when you trade back from 42 to 50, and Azeez is very much in the conversation at 42, are you waiting every pick or were you sweating it out?
A: We had a bunch of guys that we really liked there and like I said before, you’ve just got to be patient. You can’t get too high or too low and the board will come to you. You have to trust it. When you have a group of guys there, it makes you feel better as the time and picks go by. Azeez was 1 in the group and he was there and he was the right player for us.
Q. You hear a bunch of things about Azeez as a pass rusher, and some people say he’s the best pass rusher in the Draft. They don’t usually last till 50. So where do you see him as a pass rusher and is he a legitimate edge guy now that you guys added to your team?
A: Yeah, I believe so. The thing that separated I think Azeez from others was he’s pro-ready with his hands. He had real good hand use. He’s instinctive. The guy has the ability to make big plays in big spots. He’s ultra competitive. He has good instincts. He had good hand use for being an underclassman that we liked.
Q. What’s your report on (Aaron) Robinson? What did you like about him?
A: A-Rob jumped off, I remember I was sitting here through the pandemic in the office, threw on the UCF tape and his instincts, his toughness and his tackling jumped out to me immediately as I was watching the tape. A little unknown about him, didn’t know much, threw the tape on one day and really caught my eye with his competitiveness and instincts.
Then we’ve kind of followed him throughout the process. We had two interviews with him down in Mobile which got to help us know him as a person, most importantly, and then I went down and saw him at his pro day as well to really spend a lot of time with him.
I think what immediately jumped off was his instincts, toughness, competitiveness.
Q. Aaron Robinson started his career at Alabama, so that’s SEC ties for all three guys this year, most of the guys last year. I think it’s pretty universally accepted that’s the best conference. Is that why you guys keep going to the SEC or do you have stronger relationships there? More scouts in that area? Why is it the SEC?
A: I don’t think we say, all right, this is the SEC we are going to scout it differently than any other part of the country. It’s just the way the board has fallen that the SEC players at the time we are ready to pick are the ones we feel best to be Giants. It’s a very good conference. There’s big people that play fast and tough and we like that. But I don’t think it’s any different — we don’t scout it any different than any other conference in the league.
Q. We’ve heard a lot about the meetings you guys had down at Senior Bowl. I meant to ask you last night, I know you guys had a relatively limited group down there, right. I know it was you, Joe, Pat. How many others were down there with you guys?
A: We had other scouts, as well, Kevin Abrams, Tim McDonnell, Marcus Cooper, Brendan Prophett, Patrick Hanscomb and Jeremy Breit was our crew. Just worked out like that. We tried to get the scouts that had the most players at the game. It was tough on us because Senior Bowl is one of our best weeks as a staff, and we had other games going on at the time so our other scouts were spread out over those other All-Star games. So we had a limited crew and we worked and it was a good experience.
Senior Bowl did a great job allowing us access to the players which Joe said was really our only limited interaction we could have with players face-to-face. We took advantage of every interview that we could.
Q. The other thing I wanted to ask you is obviously we’ve all talked about how the 2022 picks are being described as gold. You know how you prepared to scout this year, the challenges that you faced and you met. When you see you guys stacking up picks for next year, what does that mean to your group and the scouts in terms of what may hold next year when you start looking at the Draft?
A: Well, it’s exciting. Any chance you have an opportunity to gain really good football players, but I think it’s important. I think the number of players that will be in the class next year will be a lot, you know, due to COVID and players going back to school and a lot of the opt-outs. So the more picks we have with more players, more opportunity, really, is how we look at it. It’s not going to change how we evaluate or scout. It’s just now we have more picks with more players available.
Q. Curious what you would have thought if I told you on like Thursday morning that Azeez would be there at pick 50? Is that something you expected or were surprised by?
A: I wouldn’t say I was surprised or expected. I was wishful. I’d be wishful that was a possibility, along with the other players we had in the group there. But I’m really excited to have Azeez. To bring a pass rusher to our defense, another one, another young pass rusher that we can develop, I’m excited.
Q. Usually pass rushers seem to get pushed up in the Draft. Why do you think maybe this year it didn’t happen?
A: Well, you know, it’s like you see it in drafts, the flows. All of a sudden there’s a run on tackles. There’s a run on corners. There’s a run on wide-outs. You saw it last night the wave of pass rushers went at the end of the Draft and today, they started with a different position. It just comes in flows and you’ve just got to be patient, like I said, and stick to the board and the guy will be there. You’ve got to trust it.
Q. So much has been made of Dave not trading in all of his drafts that he’s conducted. I wonder if there’s been any razzing in the war room amongst you guys? We just had Joe on a minute ago and he was joking that maybe he had a concussion, Dave did. What do you make of all the activity the last couple days and has there been any ribbing inside the room?
A: You could say that there’s been a little ribbing. Trader Dave has brought some excitement to the room, so it’s been fun. Trader Dave is hearing it from a lot of people throughout the league, so it’s been fun. There’s been a little ribbing. Like I said, it’s not like we haven’t tried. Dave said it; I’ll say it. It worked out. It’s exciting. It gave a little juice. It’s been different. The room is different without all our people in it. We were limited to only ten people but there was enough ribbing with the ten people to keep it exciting.
Q: A lot of people thought you would go a lot earlier for you. How has this process been for you and how is your knee?
A: This process was a great process, just talking to teams, building those relationships and just being able to be a Giant. I’m just happy to be here. I’m just ready to get to work. My knee is good. Everything is good and solid. Everything is perfect.
Q: Hey Azeez, congratulations. Just caught a little bit of a snippet when you were announced on TV from an old buddy, Andrew Thomas, who is now your teammate again. What was that like tonight? The wait? Did you know it would be the Giants? What was your reaction – describe it when it happened.
A: It was crazy when I got the call, man. I saw a New York on it so I just picked it up. I was just so happy to be on the phone with the Giants. It was electric. It was a great moment for me and my family and Drew (Andrew Thomas) being in the house, too.
Q: You and Drew were pretty close, right? Did I read that?
A: Yes, he was my roommate.
Q: He was the toughest tackle you ever gone against?
A: Definitely. Definitely was.
Q: Hi Azeez, congratulations. Sorry, I’m sure you thought you got away from me down here in Athens. Was it excruciating at all having to wait? I guess you ultimately don’t really know when you’re going to go, but projections were really high for you. Were you hurting there for a while or confused?
A: No. I just know I’m blessed to be here. I’m blessed to be a Giant. I just waited my turn and wait for my opportunity to come and now it’s here. Now, I’m just happy and ready to be a Giant, for sure.
Q: Azeez, I know (Georgia Head Coach) Kirby Smart and Joe Judge have connections. Have you heard anything about what you’ll be coming into?
A: Definitely. Georgia has some similarities to the Giants defense. I’ve been through it a lot. I feel like I’ll be good with the scheme and everything coming in. I’m just ready to get to work and learn – learn from the best.
Q: Hey Azeez, congratulations. There are some people who say you are the best past rusher in this draft. First question, what do you think about that?
A: Definitely. I mean, everyone has their own opinions, but definitely I believe that. I’m just confident in my game. I’m just ready to go to work with the New York Giants and show everybody what I can do.
Q: Second question, real quick. If you are the best pass rusher, they don’t normally last to number 50. What does that say to you? Does that kind of anger you or do you care about that at all?
A: I’m just blessed to be a Giant. I’m ready to work. When I get there, I just have to go get in the playbook to learn the scheme and everything. I’m just ready to show them what I can do. That’s it.
Q: Hey Azeez, what does it mean to you to go to a team that has your college roommate in Andrew Thomas, Tae Crowder is there, Lorenzo Carter is a Georgia alum – what does it mean to you to be joining up with all these guys that I imagine you’re pretty familiar with?
A: It’s just great just having my brothers up there already. They’re people that I have conversations with. It would be great for me to come in there and learn from them. They’ve been there, so they can teach me and tell me things. So, I just can’t wait to get up there with those guys and be ready to work.
Q: How would you describe what type of player you are to Giants fans who maybe aren’t familiar with you?
A: I’m definitely relentless. Effort is never a question. I’m an all-around player. I can rush the passer, stop and run, drop in coverage or whatever I have to do to help the team, I can do it.
Q: Azeez, congratulations man. What did you think – I mean you’re a guy who has played, you practiced, and then they tell you, or did you even know – that your knee was going to be a problem for teams?
A: No. I didn’t know at all. I was fully healthy the last two seasons at Georgia. I didn’t know anything. I just didn’t know. I’m blessed to be a Giant. I’m happy and ready to get to work.
Q: What was your interaction with Kevin Sherrer? Was he your coach? Did you work for him a lot? How well do you know him?
A: Oh yeah, Coach Sherrer. He recruited me when I was coming into Georgia, so our relationship is already there, for sure. I’ve learned things from him, from watching film and tape and coming into Georgia. We really have a good bond going in, for sure.
Q: Hi Azeez, congratulations. I just got in a little late. I apologize if this is a repeat, but could you describe your pass rushing ability and how you feel it’ll translate immediately in the NFL given what you’ve seen?
A: I have good speed and strength. I can convert speed to power. I can beat the guy off the edge and beat him inside. I can affect the quarterback a lot. I’m just coming in knowing I’m ready to work and contribute and I’m ready to do whatever I have to do.
Q: Just as a quick follow up, in your conversations with Coach Judge and what not and whomever it is you spoke to, what amount did you speak to him about how much they are in need of pass rushing help? How aware are you of that?
A: It was one of the needs, for sure. We definitely had conversations throughout the whole process, daily. I’m blessed to be here. I’m blessed to be a Giant today. I’m ready to get there and contribute.
Q: Azeez, congrats. A lot of the best players in Giants history, most revered players, are pass rushers – Lawrence Taylor, Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, etc. What do you think of trying to live up to those expectations and live up to those kinds of names putting on this jersey at that position?
A: Seeing all of those great Giants that came through there, I just know I have to come in ready to work and put it all on the table to give it all you got. Give it all you got for those great guys that played before us. I just have a lot of respect for those players, so you have to give it all you got and do what I can do.
Q: Real quick, Kadarius Toney, did you – I didn’t have time to double check on this schedule – but what do you think of him as a player and a fellow SEC guy, offensive weapon? What do you think of him as a player and a weapon?
A: Man, Kadarius Toney is a beast. He’s shifty. He can shake anything. He can beat you. He has speed. Man, I can’t wait to see him play. Just know he’s a dog, for sure.
Q: Azeez, you said you knew the Giants needed an edge rusher. When they’re on the clock at number 42, are you waiting for your phone to ring right there?
A: I was waiting. I was waiting on it all day.
Q: When in your conversations with Andrew did you guys start talking about becoming teammates and when did it become more and more realistic for you guys?
A: Just basically when he got drafted. When he got drafted, we thought about it. It could happen one day. So, we were like, ‘It would be cool for us to be teammates coming from Georgia. That would be nice.’ And look at us now, teammates.
Q: Hey Azeez, just on a personal level, what do your friends call you? Do they call you Z? They call you AO? They call you Zeez, or what?
A: Yes, they call me Z. Sometimes they call me vibranium. No, they call me mostly Z, though. It’s what it is the most times, Z.
Q: Okay, and the other question I have is, one of the guys you’ll probably be competing with for time is Lorenzo Carter. How close are you with him?
A: Lorenzo is my brother, definitely, for sure. He played at Georgia. I’m ready to get there and work with him and just learn things from him and just ready to get to work.
Q: Hey Azeez, congratulations man. Azeez, I noticed you have that one signature move that you love to go to, to get the quarterback. I’m curious, who helped you develop your moves in rushing and what’s one part of your game that you feel you need to improve at?
A: I’d say my time at Georgia, just working there every single day since I was a freshman. I was finding the move that worked for me and I just kept doing that. Once I found it, I just kept going to it and adjusting off of it when I had to. Thanks to Georgia and my time there, it just helped me with everything I need to do. I will definitely be using it for sure.
Q: Azeez, quickly, did you get better competing with Andrew Thomas in practice a lot?
A: Definitely, every day. Every single day competing. Good on good, everyday.
Q: Saw that tweet from [Safety] Xavier McKinney. I guess even though you transferred, you’re still viewed by some of these guys as an Alabama guy. Just curious, what’s it like to reunite with a lot of guys with Alabama ties?
A: You know, X specifically, I remember him when he first got up to school just trying to connect and bond with him. He’s a great guy. I’m ready to get up there and get to work with some great dudes, get around some great coaching, pretty much just set the standard with the brotherhood up there and go to work.
Q: What do you think you bring to the table?
A: Definitely a competitive edge about myself. A guy who’s willing to take it from every angle, vets, coaching and excel at it in my own game. Really just want to bring guys along, including myself, to create something special.
Q: Hey Aaron, I think one of things the Giants really like about you is how physical you are and that you can play man-to-man. That’s something they weren’t able to do as much last year. What does it take to be as consistently physical and effective as you are at that position on the outside?
A: Yeah, you know that pretty much comes with the game of football. I feel like I always favored the defensive side of the ball a little bit more growing up playing it. And that’s pretty much a plus in my game that I take advantage of and come with to every play 150 percent. That’s pretty much it.
Q: Aaron, how important was it for you to get to the Senior Bowl and have that opportunity to meet with the various teams? And to follow up on that, what do you remember about your meeting with the Giants?
A: Having that opportunity to get up there in Mobile to compete against some of the best in college football this past year was a great opportunity for me to pretty much expose myself a little bit more, and have that great opportunity to earn those reps, get those reps on the outside and showcase those skills as well during those practices. So it was definitely a great opportunity for myself. What I remember from meeting with the Giants was the laughs through conversation, pretty much just enjoying that moment with those coaches up there and pretty much coming off natural, it felt like.
Q: Were you on [Wide Receiver] Kadarius Toney’s team at the Senior Bowl or did you go against him at all?
A: I was on Kadarius’s team. We pretty much had one great rep of one-on-ones and a couple more reps during team reps. Pretty much just competing against one another trying to earn something, so respect to him as well.
Q: The fact that the Giants traded up to get you, does that mean something extra to you?
A: Yeah, definitely, just another great opportunity. Thank those guys up there for believing in me and that just pushes me to want to get up there and work 10 times harder for some guys that definitely believed in me. I’m going to take advantage of that and run with it, for sure.
Q: Hey Aaron, you’ll have to kind of forgive me for doing my scouting report on the fly, but did you play mostly in the slot in college?
Q: And so you were saying playing at the Senior Bowl gave you the chance to play outside?
Q: So, do you feel like you can play both at the next level? Are you more comfortable at one or the other?
A: Wherever I’m needed. Wherever I’m needed, I’m willing to learn that playbook, get in with my coaches, spend a lot of time around those guys, around those guys in the locker room as well to really learn it and go out and perform to the best of my ability.
Q: Did you guys play a lot of man or zone in college?
A: We mixed it up. [Defensive Coordinator] Coach [Randy] Shannon definitely mixed it up for us, gave a lot of looks and pretty much helped us a lot as well.
With the 20th pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected wide receiver Kadarius Toney (University of Florida). The Giants traded away the 11th overall pick in the first round to the Chicago Bears, dropping nine spots. In return, the Giants received Chicago 5th-round pick in 2021 and their 1st- and 4th-round picks in 2022.
Scouting Report: Toney is an average-sized receiver who plays bigger than his size (6’0”, 193 pounds), with decent speed and outstanding balance and quickness. Versatile, Toney was used outside, in the slot, and even out of the backfield at Florida. He has tremendous acceleration and change-of-direction skills, which makes him very dangerous after the catch. He creates separation and makes defenders miss. Toney needs work on reading defenses, route running, and overall technique. Toney also has experience rushing and returning the football. He has a strong arm and can even throw the ball. Tough, Toney will play hurt but has been somewhat injury prone. He has had some off-the-field issues.
Sy’56’s Take: Senior entry from Mobile, Alabama. One-year starter that was a key part of the offense all four years. 1st Team All SEC in 2020. Toney saved his best for last as a senior. He broke out in a big way and finally translated potential into real production. He did more in 2020 than his three previous seasons combined, partially because of the amount of talent the Gators had ahead of him on depth chart before this past fall. Toney has joystick quickness and change of direction whether he is running routes or carrying the ball. He is the kind of guy that can miss contact in the phone booth and will always fight for more yards. Toney plays bigger and tougher than his frame suggests. It will be hard to find a more competitive spark plug than him. There are concerns around character and durability and he needs a specific role. The right offensive mind can make him a dangerous weapon though, one that can really elevate an offense as a whole.
There are some teams that have Toney in the top 5 according to one of the very few media resources I trust and speak with. That really surprises me. I won’t give details here but there are a few serious red flags with character, and I just don’t see Toney having a high ceiling. He is as tough as they come, and I love his stop-go quickness. He will make plays with the ball in his hands. But there is a cap to his speed, he doesn’t play very big, and there are a lot of shortcomings I see when it comes to routes/ball skills/awareness etc. Really intrigued to see where he goes.
Media Q&A with General Manager Dave Gettleman (Video):
Opening Statement: We made a trade back. Obviously it was too good an opportunity. It added too much value, and we felt very comfortable with where our board was and we felt comfortable with who would be there, who would be available in that slot. So we made it. We did it. So we added a 1 and a 4 next year. Another pick for this year and another pick for next year. We were very pleased we were able to make the play.
As far as Kadarius is concerned, one of the off-season goals was to add weapons on offense and Kadarius, certainly he’s a good-size kid. He’s strong. He can run. He catches the ball well and he’s a very tough kid and he’s got return skills. So we were thrilled that he was there for us at that spot. So that’s where we’re at.
Q. How surprised are you by the Eagles making a trade with the Cowboys to get ahead of you? I know you mentioned division teams don’t really trade. The way they got Smith, how much did that influence your decision to move back?
A: That was part of it. Howie (Roseman) is not afraid to trade with anybody. I had a conversation with him earlier in the week and he said, ‘Dave, do you have any problems trading with me?’
I said, ‘No, if it works for both of us, it works for both of us.’ They made the trade and we decided to trade back.
Q. How much stronger do you guys view next year’s class compared to this one and how important was it for you to get that additional first-round pick next year?
A: It was very important. It was very important to get the first round pick next year. As I told you guys at my pre-draft presser, there’s a lot of unknowns here with this group and plus a lot of kids went back and took advantage of the NCAA giving them an additional year of eligibility. That obviously played into our thinking.
Q. Can you explain how things worked with Chicago? How did it work when you guys were actually on the clock?
A: What happened was we had called around and you do that calling and I had spoken to Ryan Pace, and I had heard he was interested in moving up, so I called him. When I spoke to him, he said, ‘Yes, we’re very interested.’ And then the conversations begin.
I spoke to Ryan today before the Draft and I spoke to him again. He called me again somewhere around the 7th pick, somewhere in there, and then we got on the clock and from there, Kevin Abrams took over and finished off the trade.
Q. How close was your group at 20? Was it an obvious choice? Were there three or four guys?
A: No, he was the next guy up for us. He was the next guy.
Q. If there were other people at 11, you would not have made the trade. Did the fact that there were only three quarterbacks taken kind of force your hand here a little bit and is it a little bit disarming when you see two cornerbacks come off the board, two Alabama receivers come off the board and you’re thinking, I’m going to get this guy, I’m going to get this guy and you realize, I’m not getting any of them, we have to pivot to Plan B here.
A: We had really talked this through, me, Joe, Chris Mara, Tim McDonnell, Kevin Abrams and Mark Koncz, we had all discussed thoroughly, really looked at our board. We had a lengthy meeting on Monday and we followed it up with another meeting on Wednesday and so we really — we knew what we wanted. We knew where we wanted to go and we knew at which point we would consider a trade back and that’s where you get the other piece of it where we’re calling teams behind us.
So we had thoroughly — and then we met again at 6 o’clock tonight to just constantly review and talk it through and it was a great group effort and we all felt very — we all felt very together on the decision. And we made it.
Q. Do you think Toney is a step down from that cluster of Alabama receivers? Is he close?
A: We’re thrilled to have him. We’re thrilled to have Kadarius Toney, okay. He is a big kid. He’s a good-sized kid who can fly. He’s got really good hands. He’s got great run-after-catch skills. We’re thrilled to have him.
Q. When a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers is pressuring his team to trade him, do you call over to a team and say, what’s going on, just due diligence?
A: No, it’s none of my business. Very frankly, we’ve told you guys over and over and over again, we believe in Daniel. It would have cost — it’s going to cost a motherload for anybody to get him — even though he’s 37 years old.
Q. Were you surprised by the Eagles moving up ahead of you, but not only moving up ahead of you, but with the Cowboys? Seems like it’s rare in-division like that and going for a receiver and taking one right there.
A: I think I said it earlier. Howie is not afraid to trade with people in the division. Howie called me and I told him, I said, ‘Yeah, I got no problem trading with you.’ It’s a business deal. That’s what it is. It’s a business deal. And one hand washes the other, so obviously Dallas was happy with their return. So they made the trade with Philly. It’s not a big deal.
Q. With Kadarius (Toney), do you see him as a finished product or is this a receiver that you can bring in your building and go from where he was last year to reach a ceiling that maybe you guys are projecting going forward?
A: Look, every pick in this draft is a projection. There’s not a single player who is NFL ready. Let’s not make that mistake. Everybody here needs development and part of the evaluation is identifying how high their ceiling is. We’re excited about adding him to our team. There’s a lot of things he can do and has a lot of versatility, but like every rookie coming in here, they’ve got to earn what they get and we’re going to work them multiple positions to find their strengths. We can’t assume what we saw on college tape is the best fit for them.
Q. Joe, can you speak to the roller coaster of emotions as the first round was unfolding, and I know Dave just addressed the fact that you guys addressed the possibilities, and the fact that it was Philadelphia, as you know as well as anybody are not very well liked in these parts that made that trade a jump ahead of you, that dynamic, can you speak to that?
A: Yeah, just first on the trade, trades happen a lot. Normally doesn’t happen within the division but hey, look, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. They made a move that worked for them and that was a good business move. That being said, in terms of the roller coaster of emotions, you just let the round play out. Evaluate all these players for a reason. You never know how it’s going to shake out. You know where you want to take certain guys. You know what you’re looking to fill in terms of best player available and some positions of need. We are very happy how it turned out but we added great value.
Let’s not mistake that these picks, they are people, so let’s not forget about that. You’re adding people to your team. You know, you talk about the value of having good, young developmental players to work with, and we just went through a season of free agency, okay, where we invested a lot in a team by adding veterans to our team and this is an opportunity to get more picks to add good young developmental players to our team, whether it’s this year or next.
Q. Curious if you had a point where you wouldn’t have felt comfortable going back, was 20 as far as you would go and did you expect that Toney would be there or were you not sure when you made the move?
A: Yeah, you know what to be honest with you, you evaluate the players, you’ve got their value to the team. You can never assume anyone is going to be there. There’s a lot of good players in this draft and there’s a lot of teams that want those players for one reason or another. In terms of a point we wouldn’t go back, again, we’re always willing to listen to whatever comes our way. It’s the value of the trade relative to who you’re looking at right there. For us it was a good move. We’re pleased the way it turned out. We got a good player that’s going to be able to come in and compete with our team and we have more assets to use in the future.
Q. Most people thought three quarterbacks, four quarterbacks would go before you picked and obviously only three did. Once you saw that happening, did you get a sense, oh, these two or three guys, we thought one of them would definitely be there was not going to be there?
A: No, we played out every scenario beforehand, as Dave alluded to, we have lengthy meetings and a lot of ‘what ifs’, and that’s the way we operate, as well as the coaching staff throughout the season. It’s our job to talk through the scenarios, so when a situation arises we have a course of action and plan we can go and execute.
Q. Kadarius had some injury issues at Florida and “character” issues, some things that needed to be investigated. You couldn’t get him in your building and really get to know him, how did you figure that out and figure he’s a guy that’s worth a 20th pick?
A: You know, the skill and the person has to add up together. We fully vetted every player on this board. We are very comfortable bringing him to New Jersey. We are very comfortable adding him to our roster to compete with other players on the team. Listen, we use every resource we have, okay, Jeremy Pruitt who is in our building, Jeremy recruited him out of high school. So we have people in this building with established relationships who have known this guy through the course of not only being in college, but going back to when they were in high school developing as a player.We have numerous coaches that spent a long time recruiting, have had this guy in summer camps for multiple days at a time and had extended exposure to him. We had guys at the pro day. We had Zoom meetings that were allotted by the league; we used those, phone calls. We have a great medical staff and we trust them to decisions for by the medical. I’m not a doctor, so I trust Ronnie Barnes and his staff. In terms of anything else off the field, again, look, it’s no secret I’m pretty particular about who I bring into this building, okay. I think sometimes you have to understand the person, and you have to understand the character on a deeper level than what just may be Tweeted out.
Q. Joe, we haven’t spoken to you in a while, can you talk about the offensive overhaul going back to the middle of March?
A: We are looking to improve our team in all three areas, offense, defense, and the kicking game. Working through free agency there were some offensive players that were available we thought could come in here and compete with our team and possibly improve us through competition. We are looking to do the same thing with defense and the kicking game as well. We are not a finished product by any means in any area and we are always looking to improve. If there’s a good player out there, we are looking to add them if they fit what we are looking to build.
Media Q&A with Director of College Scouting Chris Pettit (Video):
Q. A lot of scouting reports about Kadarius [Toney] describe him as a gadget player. How do you describe his skill set?
A: He’s a playmaker. He’s instinctive, he’s tough, makes a lot of plays with the ball in his hands. We feel he has flex inside and out. He also has value as a returner for us. Like I said, this is an instinctive, tough guy with very good athletic ability and speed.
Q. There were some character concerns in the background. Joe said you dug into that, talked to him and people who knew him. What’s that process like when you’re trying to dig into a prospect like that and are you just talking to a lot of people? How does that work exactly?
A: Well, our scouts in the fall talk to everyone they know on campus via Zoom and phone calls, we work them, every player, all fall. We had a chance to meet [Kadarius] down at the Senior Bowl. We spent time with him in person to get to know the person there and that continues. Then our security staff goes through every check that we do on every player.
Listen, if there was a concern with him, he wouldn’t have been on our board. And like Joe [Judge] said, we thoroughly vetted him through Zooms and phone calls throughout this process of the spring.
Q. This kid was a high school quarterback I believe. How is he as a receiver and can he play some gadget plays for you at quarterback?
A: Gadget plays at quarterback? That’s up to Joe and Jason [Garrett] and his staff. But he did; he has excellent athletic ability. He’s versatile. That’s what we like about him but like every player in the draft, he’s raw, every player in the draft and every player has to develop into a pro. So, it will take some time but this guy is a playmaker with the ball in his hands.
Q. The natural comp, he went to the same school as Percy Harvin; how similar or different they are?
A: Percy is a little before my time but both fast and playmakers. There’s a comp there, I’m sure.
Q. Is he a guy that you envisioned when you look at him as being in the backfield or the guy that can do that?
A: Again, that’s up to Jason and Joe and their staffs, what they do with him. He’s instinctive and smart enough to do that but like we said, the best thing about him, we feel he can play inside and out and add another weapon to our offense.
Q. Obviously so much was made about the top three receivers in this class. I’m just curious from your perspective, how do you see Kadarius in that second group or how close is he to the top three guys?
A: He was close enough, we felt like he was the best player available at the time we took him. I don’t know if there was a big separation, if I can say that, but like I said, he’s right up there and he was worthy of a first-round pick, so that shows you what we think of him.
Q. Last week you and Dave [Gettleman] talked about how there’s development but also when you bring in a guy, you want him to contribute. Is Kadarius close enough to being a polished receiver where you think he could come in or is there still developmental stage? I know that is for all rookies, but how close is he to being a part of this offense from the jump?
A: He’s close. He’s played at a high level at Florida. Made a lot of big plays on a big stage, so I think he’s ready mentally. He’s tough. He’ll be ready to go.
Q. I know he was down at Senior Bowl. Did getting in front of him in person, is that an important part of vetting a guy like this and actually looking him in the eyes, especially this year?
A: Absolutely. We actually met with him the first night down there, one of our last interviews and we got to spend a lot of time with him. Really great to meet him and get that face-to-face at that point in the scouting process and then watch him throughout the rest of the spring throughout the Zooms, more and more time, really get to know him and get to know the person and feel really good about him.
Q. Did you take extra time on the Friday or did you have a long meeting?
A: We had a long meeting, it was one of the last ones of the night, like I said, and we got to spend a little extra time than was allotted. So, it was really good.
Q. What do you remember about that meeting? What struck you and did you come out of that meeting saying that this is a guy that we could see on our team?
A: Yeah, it was, we were all tired, that process down there was pretty strenuous of going back-to-back to back of these long interviews which was great. But it was late in the night and we were tired. We were talking through plexiglass and everyone had masks on, and he brought energy at that point. We love that. He brought energy to the room, to the conversation. Was easy to talk to. Was open and honest and we loved everything about that conversation.
Q. That was the first time you got to meet him person-to-person?
A: That’s the only time, actually, person-to-person throughout this process with the rules the league set out.
Q. I would imagine in your evaluation of him, you’re thinking of him as a guy if he’s in the second round, because if there’s no trade you’re not taking him at 11. Two questions; is that true? Do you look at him and say, we love it if he’s in the second round for him?
A: Obviously we had a first-round grade on him. That’s the value. I did not think he would be there in the second round. Any time you get him, it’s a great value for him.
Q. For someone like you who evaluates all the players, when you see the players coming off the board, what is your sense as a guy who is thinking, okay, we are going to get the cornerback, this receiver, and then the trade? Is there a sense of deflation, like, okay, now we have to do this all over again in a half hour?
A: No. No. Because again, you let the board come to you, and I think that trade was an excellent trade to get assets for us for the future. You know, we get another first round player, which is potentially another first round starter. That’s an excellent, excellent opportunity for us. We had to take advantage of that.
Q: We were talking to Joe Judge and the front office and they were talking about how you guys spoke for a while at the Senior Bowl. What do you remember about those conversations? What was your impression of the Giants coaches? And what did you think when they picked you?
A: Really, the conversation back then was just trying to figure me out and stuff. It was so early in the process. What I thought about the coaches, I kind of took them as they came. They were very serious, so I made sure on my end that I was up to par, like on point.
Q: Where did you think you were going to go? Obviously, there was a cluster of the Alabama receivers and [Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr] Chase and then there was maybe a group after that. How do you look at them compared to you? Do you think you’re in like the second tier or do you think you’re as good as anybody in this draft? Where did you kind of get a sense of where you fit in?
A: Really, I don’t even like try to compare myself to nobody, I just try to be the best version of myself that I can. Throughout this process, I didn’t really envision myself going anywhere but a place that I was wanted. By them really just taking a chance on me it shows me like who was really in my corner the whole time.
Q: Did you think you were a first round pick the whole way?
A: Yeah, for sure. I feel like ever since I was little this was my dream, so I’ve been striving to be that ever since.
Q: For people who don’t play, what do you bring to the Giants offense?
A: A lot of dynamic versatility.
Q: During the process, how many questions did teams have about some of the off-field stuff you had early in your career at Florida?
A: Right now, everybody’s not really concerned about anything that happened off the field because that was like two, three years ago.
Q: If somebody gives you a call later tonight, a good friend, somebody from the family, what are you going to tell them about this experience tonight and what it’s going to mean to you to be a New York Football Giant?
A: I would say this whole experience was kind of special, kind of eye-opening, too. I really can’t even describe the kind of feeling that I felt once my phone started ringing. Just emotion. It was really a lot to digest.
Q: Do you feel like you’re joining an iconic franchise?
A: It’s kind of crazy. Growing up watching NFL football sometimes, like me just going to a team that – Eli Manning was there, Odell [Beckham Jr.] was there, Tiki Barber, everybody. A lot of people were a part of this franchise and I’m just next in line to do something special.
Q: You have a history of playing quarterback in high school. What has that done for your game? Do you feel that that’s helped you maybe grasp the receiver routes and all the stuff that receivers do a little bit better than if you didn’t have that experience?
A: I really feel like it helped me as far as learning plays, learning the offense, seeing things and defenses, and recognizing coverages on the run and on the move. I think it helped a lot in my game.
Q: Who were some of the players that you sort of modeled your game after that we would know of obviously in the NFL? And how do you envision yourself fitting into an offense that already has a lot of weapons on offense at wide receiver?
A: I’d say my game is kind of like Davante Adams, (Alvin) Kamara, like just quick, dynamic, explosive. Because Kamara, he’s really explosive and really elusive. Really coming into an offense that’s already full or packed, I want to just play my role. Whatever my job is, do it to the best of my ability.
Q: There aren’t a lot of wide receivers who would name a running back as a comparison to themselves.
A: Because I’m versatile. A lot of people can’t play running back.
Q: A lot of people say that you still have room to develop as a route runner and things like that. Where do you feel like you have room to grow as a player?
A: I mean, I’d agree. I’m really just embarking on my journey of really playing receiver – like my third-and-a-half year really just grasping receiver, so I feel like I’ve got a lot to really learn and a lot to grasp. I feel like I’m in the right position, the right system and the right organization to really learn and grasp a lot of things early.
Q: Can you take us through who called you first to let you know they were taking you?
A: I won’t get into names, but I’m just thankful. I won’t get into the names, I don’t want you to know everything.
Q: What was the message from Joe Judge when you spoke to him tonight?
A: It was more of comforting. If he didn’t believe in me he would not have took a risk, took a chance on me, so really thankful for that right now.
Q: Have you spoken to any future teammates? Has anybody reached out to you yet?
A: No, not yet.
Q: What do you know about New York and what do you know about the Giants in general?
A: I know New York is kind of big, it’s crazy, the ‘Big Apple.’ I don’t really know a lot about New York because I’ve never been. I never traveled a lot. But I feel like it’s a lot to learn about the Giants that I don’t know. I feel like I don’t know anything right now. Right now, I’m trying to find the quickest thing I can learn and move forward. Honestly, I’m thinking about the playbook right now, as far as learning right now.
Q: What about living here, coming here, changing your life, uprooting yourself?
A: I’m always on the move regardless anyway. I was never like an at home person, I’m always moving around, so I don’t think it’s really going to be tough for me to adjust. You got to get used to waking up earlier to get wherever I got to go and stuff, but it ain’t no problem.
Q: Were you overshadowed at all in this process by your teammate [Falcons Tight End] Kyle Pitts and obviously how high he was drafted? And with how exciting of a player he is, do you feel like you flew under the radar a little bit here and what was it like seeing him go that high as well?
A: I was really happy for Kyle to go that high. Like I expected him to go high. I expected Kyle Trask to go high, too. Like I expected a lot of people to go high from my team because that’s the kind of players we are. We just work and are dedicated, but I didn’t feel like I was overshadowed or anything. I just feel like I played my part well and did what I had to do when I had to do it.
DAVE GETTLEMAN AND CHRIS PETTIT ADDRESS THE MEDIA…
New York Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman and Director of College Scouting Chris Pettit addressed the media on Thursday (video):
Gettleman: Good afternoon. I won’t try to delay your lunch time too much with Chris. We just wrapped up two and a half weeks of draft meetings with the scouts and the coaches, of course, with their input. We’re going to continue to study the players and we’ll be ready to go a week from today. So, let the games begin.
Q: Dave, you’ve already been through one draft process with [Head Coach] Joe [Judge]. How involved is he in the evaluation process and what has he brought just to the entire draft process? Chris, what are some of the biggest things you’ve had to take going back to the last draft process? Was there anything you found beneficial that you might stick with when we get ‘back to normal’?
Gettleman: He’s very involved, he was very involved last year. I have this crazy idea that we should collaborate and this crazy idea that we should bring in players that fit coaches’ schemes. This year was obviously different because you’re touching each other, you’re in the same spot, it’s really helpful. The best part is the direction and him and his staff explaining the type of player they’re looking for. Really and truly, at the end of the day, the biggest direction is with the linebackers, very frankly. Offensive linemen, defensive linemen, back end guys, front end guys, it’s all the same. It’s really the linebacker fit and the versatility we’re looking for with certain players. You’d like to have a talented two-way go guy, a guy that can go and do a couple things. You turn around and you take a look at what [CB] Julian Love has developed into, where he’s a corner, he’s a safety, he’s here, he’s there. What it does is it gives the coordinator a lot of flexibility, so that’s where that’s at.
Pettit: Through the draft process, obviously the hardest part was not being on the road, being on campus with the players. You know, getting the Zoom background went well. The colleges were great about offering those to us, but it was different because you’re in a room with 32 other clubs and so you maybe didn’t get the intimate information you’d get on campus. I hope we don’t do that next fall, I hope we’re back on campus again. I think something that we’ll take from it maybe is the ability to get with our scouts, use the Zoom piece to meet more in the fall some more as a group, but other than that I think getting back to normal business will benefit us.
Q: Chris, just to follow up on that, what were some of the challenges of trying to evaluate players who weren’t on the field, guys who either opted out or their schools didn’t play a full slate of games? How did you go into that and how did you come out of that? Was that hard, because some of these guys were teenagers the last time they played football? Dave, what’s your take on Kyle Pitts? People talk about him as a unicorn and the best tight end that they’ve ever seen. What do you see from him?
Pettit: Well, with the opt-out guys specifically, we watched all of their film that they did play in ‘19 and going back, we went over it and over it again as much as possible because that was it, that was all we had. Really, it was sit back and wait and get them at their pro days – I mean, that was it, that was our opportunity, so we made it a point, myself especially, anyone that opted out I tried to get to that pro day to get my eyes on them. Some of these guys you watch as they come up, you know who they are, but that was it. You really just had to sit and wait on these opt-out guys. We weren’t allowed to talk to them and we talk to everybody, and you just ask your sources and build your character piece throughout the fall like any other player. You’ve got to do a lot of projecting, that’s what this business is. But you had the benefit of some showing up to the Senior Bowl, you got down there, got to see them work, see what shape they were in. Again, it’s hard, some of these guys haven’t had pads on in 20 months when we’re going to get them and that’s part of the piece that we’re going to have to take into consideration.
Gettleman: He’s a uniquely talented player. You can’t characterize him as just a receiving tight end because you watch him block and he’s got a lot of blocking grit, he’s got some nice fundamentals down and he’s certainly big enough. He’s a different breed of cat, now. He’s very talented.
Q: Dave, how do you view the opt-out guys? Are you more likely, if it’s a tie, to go with somebody who didn’t opt out of last season because there’s fresher tape? How do you view them? Is there anything you can compare it to in your scouting career, to all these guys, dozens of guys who didn’t play last year?
Gettleman: There’s nothing I can compare this to. You know, you’re almost with a handful of these guys, it’s almost like the NBA one-and-done: they go to college for a year and now, bang, they’re in the NBA. So, you have to do it on a case by case basis. Listen, they made a decision to opt out. Who am I to judge? Things haven’t changed, it’s what you do between the white lines that gives you your value as a player. Then, obviously you’re judging the character piece as well. But, no, I don’t have any preconceived notions. We’ve discussed amongst each other in the room the reason why a guy opted out. When I get on the Zoom calls – we’re still in the interview process with the players, so I’ve been doing two guys a night, tomorrow I’ll do six guys in the afternoon – and we ask them specifically, ‘Tell me your story about the opt out. What’s your journey like? Are you glad you did it?’ You know, you go through that process, but again it’s hard especially because there are guys that were 19 years old the last time they played football and oh, by the way, this will be 20 months from the last time they put pads on. You know how I talk about the underwear Olympics. The game is played in pads and it’s played on a field. It’s going to be interesting: some of the opt-out kids did a great job, showed up at their pro days and were outstanding, outstanding. And there were a few of the opt-out guys who showed up looking like me, so that wasn’t really good for them. So you do it on a case by case basis. You look at the film and you make a decision on them.
Q: Chris, how many of these pro days were you able to have an in-person interview with a guy? Were some schools able to relax some of that? Were you able to actually talk face-to-face with guys at different schools? Also, another thing about the evaluations, injury data. I know there were some guys who didn’t even get to Indianapolis like [Jaelan] Phillips from Miami, there are some Notre Dame guys. Are you still waiting on some injury data and evaluations on players or do you have all of that at your disposal at this moment? And Dave, are you trading up or trading back? What does the market look like for trades?
Pettit: No, the league did not allow us to do that, so that was a big chunk of our character-building piece that we didn’t have this year. We weren’t allowed to meet with them at the pro day, so it was just there observing. We met with all of these guys through Zooms beforehand. What we did was really leading up to the pro days, we kind of simulated what we would normally do at the Combine with our formal interviews. We did that with the coaching staff and the personnel staff, we Zoomed them, so that’s where you really get the information and where I got to meet them. The injury data and evaluations part are done. [Head Athletic Trainer] Ronnie Barnes and his staff have done a great job gathering that information. Is it as thorough because you’re not getting your hands on these guys. You know, you have 300-plus guys that normally go to the Combine, we had about 150 this year, so you’re looking at about half the people our doctors don’t have their hands on. We’re all adapting to everything during this pandemic, so you’re relying on phone calls and getting that information. But Ronnie and his staff have done that, so we have medical records on everybody going forward.
Gettleman: I’m going to involve you in the trade. You know, it’s crazy. Quarterbacks are affecting it. Who knows? I don’t think it’s going to be any different than any other year in terms of the opportunities to trade up or trade back. It’s about value, you know that. You go into the draft, you have an idea of who you’d like to take at that slot, what group of players, and if there’s someone sitting there and you have an opportunity to trade up, you trade up. If you don’t like what you’re looking at and you feel the value is better at the back end of that round, you trade back. I really don’t think it’s going to be that different, to answer your question.
Q: I’m curious, how much do you factor into your decision when you’re setting up your board the contracts of your current veterans? To use a specific example, looking at your offensive line, I think you have about four guys who are entering contract years and they may be re-signed, they may not be re-signed. So, when you set up your board do you take a look at that, factor that in and say, ‘We’ve got to keep the pipeline fresh as far as offensive line depth,’ or does that not matter when you ultimately put the board together? Also, I know you’ve said in the past that you can never have too many good players at a specific position. That said, can you have a situation or run into a situation where you have too many players at one spot, let’s say cornerback, and then not enough at another spot? And then how do you kind of weigh and balance taking a cornerback here or do we take a player at a position where maybe you’re a little thin?
Gettleman: You’re always looking at that kind of stuff. So, just for an example, if you know you’ve got a guy that’s contract is up and because of the financial aspect you decide you’re not going to do it, then sure, you may draft a player to fill the need that you know you’re going to have. So you absolutely take that into consideration. You take the contracts – people always talk about the draft guys obviously are cheaper labor, so to speak – so you’re going to do that. That’s part of the big picture look that you have to take when you’re drafting. You have to look at what you’ve got, eventually who’s going to go out the door and how do you replenish. I hope that answers your question. And you want to always take value and I think really and truly that just because you take a guy, there’s no law against maybe flipping him or flipping the guy you already have on your roster, so it’s an asset. You don’t want to pass up good assets, you really don’t.
Q: Dave, you talked a lot about playmakers this offseason, playmakers for offense. You got a few of them in free agency, [Wide Receiver] Kenny Golladay was obviously a big fish that you hooked. Is your receivers corps done? I know things are never done, I guess. When you look at the two Alabama receivers sitting there at 11, do you think your receiving corps needs more or did Golladay kind of satisfy that? Also, the two Alabama receivers, they’re not the biggest guys. Does that concern you or if they can run by you, is it okay? Chris, the edge rusher guys, you know the [Washington Defensive End] Chase Young’s or the [Browns Defensive End] Myles Garrett’s, they don’t seem to be there in this draft. The first two or three picks, they’re going to be gone. How do you look at the edge rush situation? And at 11, can you kind of look over some of the warts on these guys or is 11 a little too rich for edge rushers this year?
Gettleman: No, you’re always looking to upgrade every position, doesn’t make a difference. Whether it’s wide receiver, tackle, whatever. You’re always looking to upgrade. I’m going to give the same response I just gave, frankly, it’s about value and how you’re building your team, what you’re looking to do. You can never have too many good players at one position. And, you know, you evaluate the film and the college film suggests that they’re very good players. There are plenty of smaller guys that have been very successful in this league just like there are plenty of huge guys that have been successful and everyone in the middle.
Pettit: I wouldn’t say it’s too rich for edge rushers. Edge rushers are how you win. You win with guys that rush the passer. Where they are on the board, we’ll see how it shakes out, there are a lot of factors to it, but I wouldn’t say there aren’t guys available.
Q: Dave, at number 11, do you envision getting a guy who will contribute right away? Chris, when you talk about hard-to-get-to-know guys, it’s inconceivable to me that you could not meet these guys face-to-face. That’s a question and topic for probably a different time in our lives, but are you confident you know these guys well enough?
Gettleman: That’s an interesting question. Yes. The cliff notes answer on it is ‘yes’. It’s really hard to take a guy at 11 that you’re betting on the potential, he’s got all the PQ’s. You know what it comes down to? I look at it this way, I’m a Celtics fan – don’t be angry – but I’m a Boston Celtics fan. A couple years ago, the Celtics drafted Robert Williams out of (Texas A&M). He was a one-and-done guy with all kinds of potential. Well, now it’s year three and he’s finally starting to play to his abilities, okay? In the NFL, I’ve got to be really cognizant of the coaches. They’re under the pressure to win all the time. Every Sunday is a referendum on their skills as coaches and you’ve got to be really careful when you start taking guys that high that you love the physical skills and the potential, but how long is it going to take for it to show on the field? So that’s kind of the balance I have to get to, to answer your question.
Pettit: Yeah, I am and that’s due to the work of our staff, the scouting staff and coaching staff. I mean, we’ve done endless amounts of Zooms. The league allows you five Zooms, but that’s just a Zoom. We’ve talked to these guys all season when we can, when we’re allowed to in scouting season, but it’s every day. The scouts have been awesome, they’ve been working the phone lines just to get to know them, so we can sit there and really, truly know him. And then also, our coaches are doing it, but we have been reaching out to the college coaches as well, going back and being thorough. So, I’ve gotten to the point where I feel like we do know these guys as we would in a normal year. Do we have the physical contact with them that we’d like? No, so I’m trusting that our staff has really worked hard enough to get that where we feel like we know them.
Q: Chris, jumping off that a little bit, you obviously have a lot of coaching staff members that have ties to a lot of these big-time college programs. Especially in a year like this when you have guys that have opted out and all the uniqueness of this situation, how valuable has that been to kind of get insight from someone like [Defensive Line Coach] Sean Spencer on Penn State or [Senior Defensive Assistant] Jeremy Pruitt on Tennessee, stuff like that?
Gettleman: Very helpful. And they’ve known these guys. They’ve touched these guys, which we unfortunately haven’t been able to do as much, so it’s quite helpful.
Pettit: We go back when some of these guys were recruited, they may not have gone to certain colleges, but these guys recruited them, so they give us another look and another view when they were in high school in the recruiting process. But, again, the scouts also can work the coaches from another angle, so you get all different opinions and we finally get to a group decision.
Q: Dave, the projection that a lot of people are making and you’re probably making them inside your own war room is that there’s going to be a bunch of quarterbacks that go early in this draft. What does that mean for you guys with the kind of player you expect to get at pick 11? And have you seen your pick be potentially more valuable at 11 than it would in a normal year in regards to people calling you and trading and that kind of stuff as a result? Chris, what do you think of that edge rusher group as a whole?
Gettleman: The more quarterbacks that go, the more players it pushes to us. It’s obviously helpful. Frankly, I’d like to see 10 quarterbacks go in front of us, but basically the more quarterbacks that go, the better it is for us. And it’s possible, yes.
Pettit: I think it’s a good group, I do. It’s a good group. There’s a bunch of them, there’s different ones, different types, which we like, there’s ones that fit our system, so I think it’s a good group. I think it’s obviously an important position that we look to fill every year, not this year over any other year. We’re going through it and hopefully if we decide to address that and one’s there at a certain time and he fits what we do, we take him.
Q: Hey guys, going back a little to the opt-out question, but also just how difficult it is, the challenges you guys have faced in the evaluation this year, is it position specific? Do you feel more comfortable or confident that you can get a better read on an opt-out at a different position when you compare an offensive lineman versus a wide receiver or a linebacker? Does that factor in as well for you guys? Do you have to treat it almost like a player by player, position by position thing or is it really a broad stroke?
Gettleman: You know, I think it’s a broad stroke, I really do. Listen, a wide receiver opts out, he can get a JUGS machine. An offensive lineman opts out, I’m not so sure, it’s different. The broader question for me is what did he do and, for us, right now what kind of a college career did he have? And the next piece is what did he do while things were going on and he wasn’t playing? And what does he do at his pro day? So you’ve got kind of three pieces to it and it’s really a broader question. I don’t think it’s necessarily position specific.
Q: Dave, is having only six picks just simply a fact of life or did you address that in free agency or does it put more pressure on you in the draft or what? And would you be influenced to make a deal to get more?
Gettleman: No, I’m very comfortable with the six picks. We don’t have the fifth-rounder, we got this guy [DL] Leo Williams instead and the seventh-rounder was like [DB] Ike Yiadom, who’s on our roster and we got him, so that’s where they went. We moved [Cardinals LB] Markus Golden to get an extra sixth. I’m fine with the number of picks we have in this draft. Going in, you don’t know what’s going to happen, so I’m fine with the six and it’s okay with me. And, again, it depends upon the deal. It depends upon the deal.
Q: Dave, something that gets attention around this time of year is your history of not trading down. Your predecessor in this job never did it. What do you think the reason is for that either from your standpoint or the organization’s? And how unusual is a circumstance where you have three division teams drafting right in a row like this and how does that affect either the trade landscape or the need for subterfuge?
Gettleman: You know, you guys don’t believe me. Meanwhile, [Daniel] Jeremiah had a great line: ‘NASCAR will have right turns before DG trades back.’ Hell of a line, had a good laugh. I’ve tried in the past. Honest, I’ve tried to trade back, but it’s got to be value. I’m not getting fleeced. I refuse to do it. If somebody wants to make a bad trade back, God bless them. But we’ve had opportunities, I’ve tried. You have to understand the other piece of this is sometimes you have a trade and the guy that the team is trading up for gets picked in front of you. We’ve had that happen to us. We’ve got a trade, we’ve got a trade. So-and-so selects, no trade. ‘Dave, good bye,’ and they hang the phone up on me. So that’s happened, too. It’s almost becoming an urban myth. I’ve tried, I really have. And it is what it is. We’re all drafting around each other – we’re probably not going to trade with each other – but we’re all drafting around. I worry about us. My concern is the New York Football Giants, that’s what I’m concerned about. I talked to the guys and gal all the time, I talk to everybody all the time, you construct your team to beat the best team you are going to play. That’s the goal, that’s what we’re trying to do here and if we do that, we’ll be fine.
49ers SIGN WAYNE GALLMAN…
The San Francisco 49ers have signed New York Giants unrestricted free agent running back Wayne Gallman. In his fourth NFL season, Gallman had his best campaign despite starting the season as an afterthought. It was only after injuries to Saquon Barkley and the newly-signed Devonta Freeman that the coaching staff turned to Gallman. He ended up playing in 15 games with 10 starts, carrying the ball 147 times for 682 yards (4.6 yards per rush) and six touchdowns. Gallman also caught 21 passes for 114 yards.
Gallman was drafted in the 4th round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Giants. As a rookie, Gallman played in 13 games with one start and carried the football 111 times for 476 yards (4.3 yards per carry). But Gallman saw his playing time drop significant during Pat Shurmur’s reign, carrying the ball only 80 times for 286 yards in 2018-2019.
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.
NEW YORK GIANTS FRONT OFFICE AND SCOUTING CHANGES…
The New York Giants have announced the following personnel changes to their front office and scouting departments:
Kevin Abrams, a member of the organization since 1999 and the assistant general manager for the last 16 years, has added the title of vice president of football operations.
Mark Koncz, brought in by Gettleman as a consultant prior to the 2018 NFL Draft, is now the director of player personnel. Koncz was a member of the Carolina Panthers organization from 1994-2017 and was their director of pro scouting from 2000-2017. He worked under Gettleman when the latter was the Panthers’ general manager from 2013-2016.
Chris Pettit has been named director of college scouting after spending the previous 13 years as an area scout. He joined the Giants’ scouting staff in 2005 after spending the 2004 season as a scouting intern for the team. Pettit first worked for the Giants as a training camp pro personnel intern from 1998-2000.
Patrick Hanscomb has been named an area scout whose concentration will be the Mid-Atlantic area. Hanscomb spent the previous 10 seasons in the team’s pro personnel department.
Marcus Cooper has been hired as an area scout who will focus in the Southeast. Cooper spent the previous seven seasons with the Buffalo Bills, first as a player personnel assistant, then as an area scout, and last year as the team’s scout in the BLESTO Scouting Combine.
Beginning this season, each area scout will concentrate on a specific region. In addition to Hanscomb and Cooper, the Giants’ area scouts are D.J. Boisture (west), Jeremy Breit (regional), Steve Devine (Midwest), Donnie Etheridge (southwest), Ryan Jones (northeast), Michael Murphy (west), Steve Verderosa (regional), and Chris Watts (midlands). These eight scouts have all served with the Giants for a number of years.
Jeremiah Davis and Marquis Pendleton will continue to serve as executive scout and BLESTO scout, respectively.
“We talk all the time about the importance of working together and communicating effectively and efficiently,” said General Manger Dave Gettleman. “These appointments and promotions are well deserved, and we feel like we are well-positioned to move forward with the group of people we have in player personnel and football operations. All are collaborators and communicators and understand the significance of self-improvement to make the organization the best it can be.”
REPORT – DAVE GETTLEMAN CHANGES DRAFT PROCESS… The New York Post is reporting that General Manager Dave Gettleman is in the process of revamping the way the New York Giants approach the draft. The paper says he is breaking with his predecessors – General Manager Jerry Reese and Vice President of Player Evaluation Marc Ross – in a number of key ways:
How players are graded.
How New York Giants scouts are assigned.
How the New York Giants draft board is assembled.
“We’re changing everything around in the department, from how we operate to the grading scale, everything,’’ an unidentified team source told The Post. “Everything. Nothing’s going to stay the same.”
The source told the paper that Gettleman wants more “checks and balances” in the team’s evaluation process as it is felt the Giants poorly graded a number of prospects that are thriving with other teams.
“We’re gonna have what I call a philosophical and method shift on how we operate, yes,’’ Gettleman told The Post. “The philosophy is the way of looking at players, and the method is how we set up the draft board… Putting your focus on different things, the board is gonna look very different. It’s actually something I learned in Carolina. There’s an old saying: Every man is my equal, in that I may learn from him. These guys taught me a different way of looking at it — not how to evaluate, not how to do it philosophically, but just a different way of setting up a board, and I think it’s terrific.
“My goal here is to just to do a better job to improve the evaluation process, to make it more concise, make it more clear as to the types of players we are looking for and we want to draft.”
The Giants have apparently promoted scout Chris Pettit to a “higher organizational role” in the process.
REPORT – THOMAS MCGAUGHEY TO COACH SPECIAL TEAMS… The Sporting News is reporting that Thomas McGaughey is expected to become the new special teams coordinator for the New York Giants, replacing Tom Quinn. Ironically, McGaughey served as an assistant under Quinn from 2007-2010 with the Giants on Tom Coughlin’s staff.
The 44-year old McGaughey was hired away from the Giants by LSU after the 2010 season, where he served as Special Teams Coordinator/Defensive Assistant from 2011-2013. He then went on to become Special Teams Coordinator of the New York Jets (2014) and San Francisco 49ers (2015). In 2016, the Carolina Panthers hired McGaughey as an assistant special teams coach and then promoted him to special teams coordinator in 2017.
Jerry Reese Addresses Media at NFL Combine: New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese addressed the media on Saturday at the NFL Combine. The video of the media session is available at Giants.com.
Q: You said you saw a couple fast receivers out there – did it bring you back to last year?
A: I am not sure about that, but there were a couple of fast guys out there this morning.
Q: Where were you in the process last year with Odell [Beckham Jr.]? How did that evolve and what did you see from here?
A: We had our pre-[combine] meetings. There are a lot of holes until you do the combine, pro days and the interviews. We talked about him a little bit, just pre-combine.
Q: Did anything here sway you or really define your intentions towards [Beckham]?
A: He was fast and he caught the ball. He really caught the ball nice. We call it arrogant hands. He had that. That caught our attention and he was really fast.
Q: Odell told us at the Pro Bowl that he played the last half of the season with two torn hamstrings. Is that accurate or is that an exaggeration?
A: I don’t know about that. I think he is trying to be a hero. I don’t think he could play with two torn hamstrings and run fast like that.
Q: I assume if he would have had that, you would not have let him play…?
A: I don’t think so. I think our doctors would have caught that.
Q: To clarify, these were [injuries] that happened at the beginning of the year that healed?
A: According to our doctors, it was healed up. He may have gotten fatigued later in the season. I don’t think you can go out there and run like that if you have a couple torn hamstrings.
Q: Where are you with Jason [Pierre-Paul]?
A: We are talking, but that is all I am going to say about that. It really is not appropriate to talk about where we are with respect to that, but we are talking.
Q: Have you had discussions with Eli [Manning] that you could share?
A: It is inappropriate to talk about that, too.
Q: How difficult is it to evaluate these spread quarterbacks who don’t do a lot of the things you are asking them to do at this level?
A: I think it depends, if you have a run-spread, you have seen in this league that the spread offense works. If you are going to run that, then I think you draft those types of guys. If you draft a spread, read-option quarterback and ask him to drop back and read defenses, I think it would be difficult for him. He would have to – it would be a big learning curve, I think.
Q: How would you describe the balance of risk/reward with guys putting up great numbers at the combine to knowing if that is going to translate to being a great football player?
A: With us, like most teams, it is what you do on the field. [That] weighs the most when you are evaluating a player. You just fill in some holes and some of the blanks with the running and things they do at the combine, [such as] the interviews. What they do on the field carries the most weight with us.
Q: I know you don’t want to say specifically what is going on with JPP, but in the past when you have used the franchise-tag, it has been a way to buy time for a long-term negotiation. Do you have any philosophy with allowing that player to be on the tag all year long, even if it [takes up] a lot of cap space?
A: I am not going to talk about that. We are just going to keep our options open with respect to that. Sorry about that.
Q: How much healthier are you guys in regards to cap space than you have been the last couple of years?
A: I think we are in pretty good health. We are headed in the right direction with respect to the cap.
Q: Is it a concern to you at all with how that money gets distributed?
A: I think we will be able to do what we need to do. I think we will have enough money to do what we need to do in the offseason, as far as free agency goes and whatever we decide to do with the other guys.
Q: Do you take a look at [Marcus] Mariota just in case he winds up in your division?
A: We look at everybody.
Q: Do you look at specific players and say we may have to face them, so do you look at them with a different eye that way?
A: We are evaluating him if he is there when we pick at nine. We are evaluating him for that, not necessarily if he is going to be in our division or something like that. We are evaluating him as a prospect right now.
Q: Have the changes to the conduct policy changed the way you guys evaluate off the field concerns? Have you noticed any change in that regard?
A: We always try to weigh the options of what a guy’s off the field issues are. Sometimes we have taken chances on some guys who have had some issues. We have taken guys like that. You have to weigh the options.
Q: Now they come in with a strike against them because of the new policy… Does that change the way you weigh that?
A: I say this all the time; if a guy has a blotter of things, they usually don’t change that. Again, these kids are really young and they make some bad decisions. You can’t kill these guys, 18,19, 20-year old kids for decisions they make.
Q: How do you look at this year’s draft and where do you see more depth than possibly other positions?
A: There are good players in this draft all over the place. I don’t really have one position that is deeper than the other.
Q: How do you assess your offensive line going into the offseason now and the possibility of moving [Weston] Richburg and [Justin] Pugh around?
A: We are going to continue to build our offensive line just like we are going to do every position. I think we still have some work to do there. We are going to continue to try and build our offensive line.
Q: When you look at Richburg, do you see him as a center? Coach [Coughlin] said the other day that he is going to compete for center…?
A: He played center in college. We had some injuries early on, so we put him in there at guard. He really didn’t get a chance to compete for the job. He will get a chance to compete for the center job.
Q: Getting back to the issue of prospects with character questions – because of the fact now they are trained on how to answer questions, I s it getting more difficult to judge the sincerity of these kids?
A: They are really good. We had interviews the last couple of nights. They are well-versed in what they want to say. It is a little tougher right now. We have some crafty questions that we can get the right answers.
Q: Do you have every intention of having Jon Beason as your middle linebacker next year?
A: Jon is under contract. We will see where that goes, but he is under contract.
Q: What do you see from the kid from Washington, [Shaq] Thompson?
A: He is a good player. He is versatile. I think he has played a lot of different positions. He has played linebacker, he has played some safety and some running back. He is a Swiss Army knife-type of guy.
Q: Do you envision him in the NFL at one of those positions?
A: I think the more you can do in this league, I think whoever takes him, he will have a chance to play any of those positions.
Q: If you think back to this time last year, could you have known what you were getting with Odell?
A: We thought he was a good player, we really did. We thought he was a terrific player and he obviously had the injuries early on and everyone was down on him a little bit. We tried to put him back in there a little too soon. With those hamstrings, you just have to rest them and let them heal.
Q: When you are picking in the top-10, does it change anything [because] it is obviously more of an investment with that guy?
A: If you are picking in the top 10 or the top 12, you should be getting… That is how the system is built. You should be getting better players. If you are picking last, the players are not the same quality as the first 10 or 12 players. If you are picking high in the draft, you should get better players.
Q: Does that increase the pressure on you and your staff to not make a mistake picking a guy up that high?
A: No, we work hard on the ninth player just like we would the 32nd player. We work hard on it.
Q: How do view it after picking a receiver last year picking ninth and the potential to go back to that position… Do the odds of that happening decrease because you went in that direction last year?
A: Best player available. We will take the best player on the board.
Q: It is obviously a quarterback driven league… Do you get calls about Ryan [Nassib]?
A: I can’t talk about that. That is inappropriate to talk about that. I can’t speak about that.
Q: How do you feel about the safety position going into next year?
A: I think we are going to try to upgrade that position just like all the other positions. We are going to try to upgrade every position as we go. Free agency, the draft, we will try to upgrade very position.
Q: Do you view [Cooper Taylor] and [Nat Berhe] as guys who could step in there as starters?
A: They are going to get a chance to compete. Cooper, obviously, needs to stay healthy. I think both of those guys will get a chance to compete at that position.
Q: What did you learn from having the draft a little later in regards to how you adjusted your schedule?
A: I think with the schedule you have a little bit more time. If you are out of the playoffs, you have a little bit more time to start your evaluation process. We are working hard like we always were.
Q: The receiving position is not a huge need if Victor Cruz is back and healthy… Where is he in his rehab and how much can you count on him being the old Victor Cruz?
A: When a guy has a big injury like Victor had, you can’t put all your eggs in his basket. Our doctors said he looks good. I see him down in the training room working out with our trainers and doctors and he looks good. Until you get out there – his game is quickness. Until you get out there and move around, you never know how he is going to recover from that. We are hoping and praying that he comes back 100 percent and be the Victor Cruz that we know, but you can’t put 100 percent in that basket.
Q: Do you have to plan for a plan B with another receiver just in case?
A: We will upgrade receiver. We will try to upgrade that spot as well. If Victor is back and Odell and Rueben [Randle], that is a pretty good core. There are a couple of other guys [such as] [Preston] Parker, there are some more names, [Corey] Washington and there are some young guys. If there is a good receiver, we will draft him.
Q: After the season ended some of your guys stuck around and kept going as if they were in the playoffs, as it might be a benefit next year… Do you see that as a benefit?
A: It is good to see the guys hungry and want to get right into the offseason and start working. We want to be in the postseason, so to see some of those guys hang around, it shows me what kind of dedication they have and how hungry they are to get back into the playoffs. We like that. Obviously there are some rules now with the offseason program with what they can do with the coaches, but some individual stuff they can do on their own – we have had a lot of guys in there.
Q: How much of a priority is it for you guys to fill a role of what David Wilson was going to give you?
A: He is a little different. We have some big bangers. David was a fast, quick guy who could catch the ball out of the backfield and return kicks. When you lose that dynamic type player, I t stings a little bit, but it is football and we will try to replace that position.
Q: How do you feel Ryan Nassib is progressing?
A: I think Ryan has done a nice job. I think if Eli got dinged up in some kind of way during the season, I think he could jump in there and help us win games. I think he has done a nice job. He prepares himself as if he is going to play, so he has done a nice job.
Q: Rueben has had some ups and downs throughout his career… How do you feel about him and how comfortable with him are you right now?
A: I think Rueben gets banged on a lot. Sometimes he should get banged on, but I think he gets banged on sometimes a little too much. I think he is a good, young player and all he needs are some chances. With Odell and Victor, I think he will get plenty of chances.