Aug 172021
 
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John Mara, New York Giants (July 29, 2021)

John Mara – © USA TODAY Sports

AUGUST 17, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their 15th full-team summer training camp practice on Tuesday at Quest Diagnostics Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

GIANTS MAKE ROSTER MOVES, EXCHANGE CORNERSBACKS WITH PACKERS…
In an effort to reach the current 85-man roster limit, the New York Giants terminated the contracts of running back Alfred Morris and safety Chris Milton. The team also placed cornerback Jarren Williams on Injured Reserve with a quad injury.

The Giants also traded cornerback Isaac Yiadom to the Green Bay Packers for cornerback Josh Jackson.

The 6’1”, 190-pound Yiadom was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. The Giants traded a 7th-round pick to the Broncos for Yiadom in early September 2020. Yiadom eventually won the starting corner spot opposite of James Bradberry, playing in all 16 games with 10 starts (58 percent of all defensive snaps). He finished the year with 46 tackles, 0.5 sacks, five pass defenses, and one forced fumble.

The 25-year old, 6’0”, 196-pound Jackson was drafted in the 2nd-round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Packers. In three seasons with the Packers, Jackson played in 42 regular-season games with 15 starts, including five in 2020. Last year, he was credited with 24 tackles and two pass defenses.

The Giants signed Morris to the Practice Squad in late September 2020 and the 53-man roster in November 2020. Morris ended up playing in nine games for the Giants with no starts, carrying the ball 55 times for 238 yards (4.3 yards per rush). The 5’10”, 222-pound Morris was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. He has spent time with the Redskins (2012-2015), Dallas Cowboys (2016-2017, 2019), San Francisco 49ers (2018), and Arizona Cardinals (2019).

The Giants signed Milton in March 2021 after he was cut by the Tennessee Titans in February. The 5’11”, 190-pound Milton was originally signed as undrafted rookie free agent by the Indianapolis Colts after the 2016 NFL Draft. He spent three seasons with the Colts before being signed by the Titans after he was cut. In all, Milton has played in 55 regular-season games, with one start, accruing 35 tackles, two pass defenses, and recovering one fumble.

The 5’10”, 187-pound Williams was signed by the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft. The Giants signed signed Williams in early August 2020 after he was waived by the Cardinals. He spent most of the year on the Practice Squad, but did play in two games exclusively on special teams.

INJURY REPORT…
TE Kyle Rudolph (foot) and CB Aaron Robinson (core muscle) remain on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List.

WR Kenny Golladay (hamstring), WR John Ross (hamstring?), WR Dante Pettis (unknown), WR Austin Mack (hamstring), and S Montre Hartage (unknown) did not practice on Tuesday. 

RB Saquon Barkley (knee), WR Kadarius Toney (unknown), OLB Lorenzo Carter (calf), and OLB Elerson Smith (hamstring) were limited.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Giants held a light practice in shorts and upper pads.
  • RB Saquon Barkley wore a red, non-contact jersey during 7-on-7 drills.
  • QB Daniel Jones was very sharp in practice, throwing multiple touchdown passes to a variety of receivers.
  • WR David Sills caught three touchdown passes from QB Daniel Jones, including one time beating CB James Bradberry.
  • WR Darius Slayton made a nice catch in the corner of the end zone against CB Adoree’ Jackson on a well-thrown pass by QB Daniel Jones. Jones connected with Slayton on two more touchdowns.
  • In team drills, WR Sterling Shepard made a twisting, leaping touchdown catch on a pass from QB Daniel Jones.
  • WRs Alex Bachman and Matt Cole also caught touchdowns.
  • LB Tae Crowder intercepted a deflected pass from QB Daniel Jones.

NEW YORK GIANTS PRESIDENT/CEO JOHN MARA…
The transcript of John Mara’s press conference on Tuesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

NEW YORK GIANTS GENERAL MANAGER DAVE GETTLEMAN…
The transcript of Dave Gettleman’s press conference on Tuesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

    THE COACHES SPEAK…
    Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

    NEW YORK GIANTS ASSISTANT COACHES ADDRESS THE MEDIA…
    A video clip compilation of the media sessions with the following New York Giants assistant coaches on Thursday is available at Giants.com:

    • Quarterbacks Coach Jerry Schuplinski
    • Running Backs Coach Burton Burns
    • Wide Receivers Coach Tyke Tolbert
    • Offensive Line Coach Rob Sale
    • Defensive Line Coach Sean Spencer
    • Linebackers Coach Kevin Sherrer
    • Defensive Backs Coach Jerome Henderson

    THE PLAYERS SPEAK…

    Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

    WHAT’S UP NEXT…
    With the New York Giants traveling to Cleveland, there is no media access to the team on Wednesday. The Giants will hold joint practices with the Browns on Thursday and Friday.

    May 012021
     
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    Elerson Smith, Northern Iowa Panthers (January 27, 2021)

    Elerson Smith – © USA TODAY Sports

    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.

    Media Q&A with Head Coach Joe Judge (Video):

    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.

    Media Q&A with Elerson Smith (Video):

    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.

    Media Q&A with Gary Brightwell (Video):

    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.

    Media Q&A with Rodarius Williams (Video):

    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.

    Apr 302021
     
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    Azeez Ojulari, Georgia Bulldogs (January 1, 2021)

    Azeez Ojulari – © USA TODAY Sports

    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?

    A: Yes.

    Q. Yes to both?

    A: (Laughs).

    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.

    Media Q&A with Head Coach Joe Judge (Video):

    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.

    Media Q&A with Azeez Ojulari (Video):

    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.

    Media Q&A with Aaron Robinson (Video):

    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?

    A: Correct.

    Q: And so you were saying playing at the Senior Bowl gave you the chance to play outside?

    A: Correct.

    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.

    Apr 292021
     
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    Kadarius Toney, Florida Gators (November 28, 2020)

    Kadarius Toney – © USA TODAY Sports

    With the 20th pick in the first round of the 20211 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.

    Media Q&A with Head Coach Joe Judge (Video):

    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.

    Media Q&A with Kadarius Toney (Video):

    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.

    Apr 222021
     
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    Wayne Gallman, New York Giants (December 20, 2020)

    Wayne Gallman – © USA TODAY Sports

    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.

    For a complete listing of free agent moves involving the Giants, see our 2021 Free Agency Scorecard.

    Apr 202021
     
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    Dave Gettleman, New York Giants (February 25, 2020)

    Dave Gettleman – © USA TODAY Sports

    DAVE GETTLEMAN AND KEVIN ABRAMS ADDRESS THE MEDIA…
    New York Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman and Assistant General Manager Kevin Abrams addressed the media on Tuesday (video):

    Gettleman: Good afternoon, everybody. Good to see you, I’m looking at little tiny screens. Trust you’re all well. Kevin and I are here to talk about free agency and then on Thursday I’m going to be with [Director of Pro Scouting] Chris Pettit and we’ll talk about the upcoming college draft. Let’s go.

    Q: Dave, you’ve always kind of avoided guys with injury histories it seems like in free agency, you’ve spoken about that. What’s different this year with guys like [Wide Receiver] Kenny [Golladay] and [Cornerback] Adoree’ [Jackson] who have some injury histories in their past and you felt comfortable paying them big money?

    Gettleman: I tell you what, we had them come in. It was a little different with free agency this year, we actually had them come in first, so we really – all three guys, Kenny, Adoree’ and [Tight End] Kyle [Rudolph] – we had them in here and it was an old school free agency. We got to talk, a chance to visit with them, they went out to dinner with various people in the organization, they were here a couple of nights, our doctors were able to put their hands on them. It was an old-fashioned free agency. [Head Athletic Trainer] Ronnie [Barnes] and Head Team Physician] Doctor [Scott] Rodeo felt very comfortable with us moving with the signing of those three guys.

    Q: What are your expectations for the cap next year and how much did an expected increase play into how aggressive you guys were this year?

    Abrams: Well, we don’t know what next year is going to look like yet, so we’re making some conservative assumptions. We were aggressive this year, we had to do probably a few practices that we normally, typically try to avoid, but with a lower cap number and some plans to be aggressive we had to do some of those things. We know that next year’s number could be a low one again and we’re prepared for whatever the outcome is.

    Q: Kevin, at the start of this, I mean you know the budget and the numbers better than anybody going into this process probably to the penny I would guess or certainly to the pennies. If I would have taken you back to the start of free agency and said, ‘I’m pretty confident you guys are going to get the top receiver Kenny Golladay for big money and perhaps the top cornerback for big money,’ would you have been surprised, not surprised, or not so sure you’d be able to do that with the cap?

    Abrams: There were no surprises. I mean, it’s always a bit of an unknown who the players are that you’ll be able to target and who you’ll be able to attract, but we knew we were going to be aggressive.

    Q: And as far as being aggressive, you can’t be aggressive unless there’s money to do that obviously. There’s this whole, the Giants went into this with however many millions in the cap and you knew you could manipulate it some way, shape or form. Did you know that you could give 100 million dollars in salaries or guarantees to just a couple of players? Did you know beforehand that was possible?

    Abrams: We did, yes.

    Q: Dave, when you go into free agency, how much does what you do in free agency reflect on the draft? I mean, do you evaluate all of the college players and say, ‘We need to fill holes. We need to do this in free agency?’

    Gettleman: What we do is we have this space we call our Football Ops Center. By the time we get deep into free agency conversations, we’ve had our February draft readings. So in our Ops Center, we have our draft on one board and our unrestricted free agency board on the other. And what we do is we actually do it by color, we take a look at the positions and see where if I need a kicker, is it heavy in free agency or am I going to have to go to the draft? So we marry up both, to answer your question, and then we just move forward and make decisions on which way we’re going to go because maybe free agency is thick with a position and the draft isn’t or vice-versa. So we do marry it up.

    Q: Kevin, we all like to think that we’re experts in what a guy is worth, but you’re an expert in the building at negotiating these contracts. Do you believe that you can overpay for a player? Is there such a thing? Is it a more complicated equation than just saying a player is worth a certain amount in the current market or in the market of this position? How do you evaluate that?

    Abrams: I mean, certainly you can overpay a player. In free agency, the danger of free agency is that it’s more auction than it is negotiation, but we know what we think the market is for a position and we know where we think players fit into that market and we’ll set those parameters of where we’re willing to go to get a player well in advance of free agency. Ideally, you come in lower obviously than what you think your ceiling of comfort is, but we do identify what those parameters are before we even begin the process.

    Q: Dave, a question about [Running Back Devontae] Booker, you guys were pretty aggressive right out of the gate about going after him for some depth at running back. Did you go after him so aggressively because you believe – like, say if hypothetically [Running Back] Saquon [Barkley] were not on the field for some reason, knock on wood, do you feel confident that Booker would be able to handle that position and the workload and is that why you prioritized him as a player?

    Gettleman: Well, one of the reasons we prioritized Devontae is you can never have too many good players at any position, I don’t care what anybody says. One of the things that made Devontae so attractive was the fact that we felt he was a legitimate three-down running back. It’s always a group decision here, everything’s in the best interest of the Giants, so obviously he can be a good part of our solution at running back.

    Q: Hey Dave and Kevin, in terms of the league, there was so much talk about the cap going down and that there would be a depressed market and that teams would look for value under market. I’m curious if you guys identified a situation where you could be aggressive, kind of go counter to what maybe the league was expecting to do and maybe that’s how some of your deals with Golladay and then obviously Adoree’, which came up later, was kind of a counter-thinking when the market is supposed to be as depressed as a lot of people thought it would be.

    Abrams: I think that was a small part of our thought process. I mean, we identified, like everyone had, that this year was going to be a little different – cap going down impacts everybody and so I think we thought that there would be some opportunities because there might be fewer buyers out there. Our plan was to be aggressive from the beginning though and we knew that we had ownership support, which was probably uncommon this year to be as aggressive as we were. And we had our targets and as the market played out it became apparent to us that of the targets that we wanted to go and pursue who was going to be available at the right price for us.

    Gettleman: Just to supplement that, we feel like we got three or four, really – have to count [DL] Leonard [Williams], spent money on him – we got four high-dollar guys at very good value for their positions, for the whole nine yards. We feel very good about what we’ve done.

    Q: Kyle Rudolph, obviously, it seemed like from the reporting that he agreed to a contract, then he came in for a physical and some stuff came up. Seemed like a kind of point where you guys might have had some leverage to make his contact more incentive-based or make him earn it or lower the guarantees. From an organizational standpoint, why stick with the original handshake agreement there?

    Abrams: Once he went through all the medical evaluations, we didn’t think that it was necessary.

    Gettleman: We are the Giants, we’re going to do everything with class. We had an agreement, Ronnie signed off on it, Doc Rodeo signed off on it, so we were fine.

    Q: Dave, you mentioned the Leonard Williams contract. How tough was that negotiation relatively? Kevin, there was a report that you actually stepped in there at the eleventh hour. If you could discuss your role.

    Abrams: It was a good negotiation. The agents were very good to work with, they were interactive, which isn’t always the case as players get closer and closer to free agency. Sometimes they become a little harder to reach as they get closer to free agency, but these guys remained involved. Leonard clearly wanted to be here and we clearly wanted him here. It took a while to establish what was a fair spot within the market from both perspectives, but eventually we got there.

    Gettleman: Just to be clear, Kevin’s the negotiator here. What we all do is we all sit down and say, ‘Okay, Ryan Dunleavy is our wide receiver. We like his talents and we like his skill. What’s Ryan’s value compared to the rest of the league, the rest of the wide receivers that are out there? What wide receivers got paid in the past year or so?’ because you don’t want to go back three years or so because deals are old. It’s a group effort with Kevin doing the negotiating. It’s about value and being comfortable with the end result, which we were very comfortable with the end results.

    Q: Hey Dave, when you look at the moves you’ve made so far and the ones you’ll continue to make obviously with the draft upcoming and even beyond that, how much of it is designed to make sure [Quarterback] Daniel Jones has every opportunity to be the quarterback you’ve always believed he can be?

    Gettleman: You know, my job is to put everybody in a position where they’re successful, plain and simple, that’s my job, both on the field and off the field. Of course, I’ve always believed that you draft the guy that you feel is going to be your franchise quarterback, first thing you’ve got to do is get people around him to keep him upright and then you’ve got to get him playmakers. You help him by doing a variety of things. Obviously, when we make moves on the offensive side and the defensive side – because I’ve said to you folks before, offense scores points, defense wins championships – so the point is every move you make is obviously to help each side of the ball, and again special teams are critical as well. So, everything is made with a broad view of how we’re going to put the finishing touches on this and make it right. Obviously, we felt like we’d like to get a bigger wide receiver, Kenny was available, we make the deal that’s obviously going to help Daniel. Kyle Rudolph is a professional tight end, he’s been in the league ten years, he knows all the ins and outs, he’s still a good player, of course that helps Daniel, but it also helps our running game too and it helps Saquon.

    Q: Kevin, for you, at what point will, or perhaps already has the idea entered your mind about Saquon’s extension and obviously a little bit beyond that you hope to be extending Daniel because you hope that he plays great in the meantime, obviously?

    Abrams: Those will be collective decisions. Ownership will be involved, obviously Dave will lead the charge and when the time is right, we’ll attack those two.

    Q: With everything that you did this year, was whatever in your mind (regarding player extensions) as you spent this year?

    Abrams: Always. Everything we do has an immediate and a one-, two-, three-year horizon and we’re always mindful of how things impact both us today and how it impacts us next year and beyond, so we’re very cognizant of all of those variables.

    Gettleman: I think the best way I can say it is really you can’t do anything in a vacuum. It’s all going to be interconnected and interrelated, and that’s how we operate.

    Q: I know there were reports that you were interested in [Rams Outside Linebacker] Leonard Floyd. He obviously ended up going back to the Rams. I’m just curious, how you feel about your edge rusher group that you have right now?

    Gettleman: Listen, [LB] Lorenzo [Carter] and [LB Oshane Ximines] are rehabbing, they’re coming along well, I feel good about those two guys. You feel good about [LB] Cam Brown getting better, [LB] Carter Coughlin’s going to be better. You’re growing them up and then you’re looking at the draft as well. You’re always looking to get better. Like I said, you can never have too many good players at one position, so you’re always going to look to improve. Those guys, I wish that Lorenzo and X had been able to play the whole season last year, but you know what, they couldn’t, so we filled in with some guys and did the best we could. We’re going to do better.

    Q: Dave, just to build off that for one second. He asked about the edge group. [Defensive End Ifeadi] Odenigbo that you signed, you didn’t mention him. Is he part of that group? I’m just wondering where you guys kind of view him.

    Gettleman: Believe it or not, he’s got some inside pass rush to him. He’s got some inside, sub pass rush to him. They’re all part of the group, they’re all part of the group.

    Q: I was just curious if you viewed him as an outside linebacker or if you viewed him as a defensive end in a 3-4 more as a primary.

    Gettleman: He’ll play outside and he’ll also do some sub, inside sub pass rush stuff.

    Q: Dave, you mentioned the whole bringing Kenny in and the guys in for a visit. With Kenny in particular, what was it you needed answered and part of the reason you guys brought him in?

    Gettleman: Well, you bring him in because you want to get a physical on him. That was the biggest reason, get a physical on him. But it was nice for a change to get to know a guy and have that opportunity to do that. Like I said, it was like the old days. The biggest reason was the physical.

    Abrams: It wasn’t just our decision, the players wanted to come in as well. Both parties wanted to have the visit.

    Q: Kevin, you mentioned also that you had to do some things that normally you don’t do in regards to contracts and money, future money down the line, void years and that kind of stuff. How would you categorize where you stand financially moving forward for the future, for the next year or two let’s say?

    Abrams: I think 2022 could be a little bit of a challenge depending on where the cap goes to. Beyond, I’m more optimistic that nothing that we’ve done last year or this year puts us in any kind of precarious position. Next year could be a little bit of a challenge, we’ll see. It’s going to depend on science and state legislatures and fans in stands and a lot of other variables and we’ll see where it goes. I don’t think we’re in a bad spot cap-wise, but next year could be a little more challenging than probably the years after that.

    Q: Dave, we always talk about weapons, you always tease us about it and you got a nice one in Kenny Golladay. Do you feel you have a solid arsenal right now for this year? We’re talking weapons again, Dave.

    Gettleman: You know, yes. To answer your question, we’re better, and the other guy that’s going to be interesting is [WR] John Ross when he walks in the door because he gives you the take-off-the-top, oh my gosh speed. Yes, again, you want touchdown-makers, it’s what you’re looking for on offense and we feel like we added them.

    Q: Kevin, how do you balance free agency with the draft in terms of filling needs, but at the same time selecting the best available talent? It seems to be a delicate and challenging combination.

    Abrams: As Dave mentioned before, we begin the offseason identifying where we feel like we have needs. Free agency comes first, so we’ll set that board up, find where the value is, where the consensus is between our personnel people and our coaching staff, identify the targets we think best fit the Giants, and then we’ll incorporate what the early view of our draft board looks like and understand where are our needs and our fits in free agency that also are redundant with where the draft is strong and vice-versa. Where the draft is weak, that might be a difference-maker when deciding between who to approach in free agency.

    Q: Dave, just going back to Leonard Williams really quick, what was the calculus between resigning Leonard and possibly bringing back [Vikings Defensive Tackle] Dalvin Tomlinson. In hindsight, was there any regret with how you guys handled Tomlinson over the last year, be it maybe not resigning him early or trading him when you might have had the chance to?

    Gettleman: Dalvin is a wonderful young man and he was a captain, so obviously there’s regret. But at the end of the day, you only have so much money and you’ve got to make decisions, that’s just the way it is. We’ll miss Dalvin and I’m thrilled that he got what he wanted and Minnesota is a fine organization, so for what it’s worth, sure it’s hard, but unfortunately because of what happened you have to make decisions.

    Q: As far as Leonard goes, what kind of separated him and made him a priority to try and bring back and ultimately resign at that number?

    Gettleman: Well, maybe 11.5 sacks, maybe that was part of it. You know, he’s very versatile, he’s a legitimate inside pass rusher and he really blossomed. He loves being here and we love having him, so that was part of the decision.

    Q: We count the hundreds of millions of dollars that were spent and the number of people who are coming in. How do you guys quantify how much better this team has gotten in your mind, how much closer you are to the team you think can contend in the last six weeks? Do you feel like you’ve made large strides? Do you feel like you’ve made small strides? Is it more of an immediate impact that you’re looking for?

    Abrams: From my opinion, and I think Dave would agree, I think our roster is a lot better now than it was at the end of the season and the offseason is not over yet, so we’ll still have more opportunities to add players. So I think we feel good with what we’ve done. I think we’re a deeper, more talented team. Hope that answers the question.

    Gettleman: You know, you can’t quantify it. It’s not going to be quantified until the fall and we start playing in September. But we feel very good about what we’ve done, we feel very good about the direction the team is taking with getting Kenny signed and Kyle Rudolph and Devontae Booker and Adoree’ Jackson and Leo. We feel really great about that and we really feel we’re building a solid football team that the fans can be proud of.

    Q: Hey Dave, regarding the Adoree’ Jackson deal, Mike Sando from the Athletic talked to a few of your colleagues, executive-wise, around the league and a few of them were very critical of the contract. They said it was inexcusable, high potential for disaster, so a couple of those guys around the league kind of hammered you on that deal. What is your reaction to that and why do you think Adoree’ is worth that when you look at him skill-wise and injury-wise?

    Gettleman: Well, my reaction to that is one of the things that makes America a great place is everyone is entitled to an opinion. Time will tell.

    Q: What do you think of him as a player and why did you think he was worth that money when you looked at him? Obviously, you guys felt like he was worth the money. Why is that when you look at him?

    Gettleman: Why was that? He’s got inside-outside flex, he’s a legitimate cover guy, he can run and he’s a very smart football player and he’s got ball skills. All of that stuff made him worth that.

    GIANTS CUT RYAN LEWIS…
    The New York Giants have officially waived cornerback Ryan Lewis, who was originally signed by the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2017 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Cardinals (2017), New England Patriots (2017-2018), Buffalo Bills (2018), Indianapolis Colts (2019), Philadelphia Eagles (2019), Miami Dolphins (2019), and Washington Football Team (2020). The Giants signed Lewis to the Practice Squad in early September 2020 and to the 53-man roster two weeks later. He played in five games for the Giants, starting three (25 percent of defensive snaps). Lewis finished the year with 13 tackles and one pass defense. The Giants placed Lewis on Injured Reserve in early November 2020 with a hamstring injury.

    GIANTS RE-SIGN SANDRO PLATZGUMMER…
    The Giants have re-signed running back Sandro Platzgummer, who was allocated to the team in April 2020 as part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program. As part of that program, Platzgummer was allowed him to remain on the Giants’ Practice Squad last season without counting towards the Practice Squad limit. Platzgummer played for the Swarco Raiders Tirol of the Austrian Football League.

    Mar 092021
     
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    Joe Judge, New York Giants (September 14, 2020)

    Joe Judge – © USA TODAY Sports

    JOE JUDGE ADDRESSES THE MEDIA…
    New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Tuesday (video):

    Opening Statement: Good to see everybody, it’s been a while. Hope everybody’s gotten a little bit of rest time and, again, I hope everyone’s families are safe and well right now. Just to recap and kind of bring you up to speed on what we’ve been doing since the end of the season, immediately after the season we took the next week, we did all of our self-scout evaluations on our personnel, on the team. We looked through our roster and each position coach breaks up all the players, the coordinators kind of establish the needs going forward, I meet with the coaches and the coordinators before we break on a vacation. And then we break on the vacation, we came back several weeks later after guys kind of caught their breath a little bit. We recapped our roster – we did that as an entire organization with our personnel departments, management and the coaches. We made sure everybody was on the same page in terms of how we played this year, what we have to do to improve the team, what needs we may need to address personnel-wise, and then we shifted our gear coaching-wise into scheme and we did a self-scout solely based on scheme and what we’d done the last year that was successful and what we can do better. That shifts into not only what we do, but then also studying the league, studying some college and seeing what’s productive out there that we can apply into our systems and use to give our players a better advantage. From there, we’ve carried over, our coaches have been working these last couple of weeks on league studies and presenting to each other right now in terms of finding better ways to incorporate into our own playbook and expand our offense, defense and kicking game schemes that will help going forward. All the while, we’ve been doing free agent evaluations and our coaches are currently working on the draft. Along with the personnel department, we’re trying to replicate as best we can the interviews we have at the Combine with prospects through Zoom. We’ve been doing that over a week now with several players a day. It’s been very productive. I think the difference this year is we’re all used to using Zoom, so it doesn’t take as long to get on the same page.

    In addition, to update you on some staff moves we’ve made since the end of the season, we’ve added several coaches to our staff. Rob Sale has joined us as our Offensive Line Coach. I’ve known Rob for some time now, I’ve worked with him, I’ve stayed in very close contact with Rob over the years. He’s someone who’s always impressed me as a very thorough teacher, as a very detailed and energetic on-the-field coach and he’s someone who has a very strong relationship with his players. I thought he was a good fit. We made sure to do our due diligence – I talked to probably over 25 coaches personally, our staff researched an additional probably 15-20, we had several interviews in person and countless interviews over Zoom. I would say that they all did a good job and there were a lot of qualified candidates. At the end of the day, the best move for the New York Giants was adding Rob and I’m excited to add him to our staff.

    In addition to that, Jeremy Pruitt, we’ve added him as our Senior Defensive Assistant. Jeremy’s going to work with all levels of the defense, the back end, the linebackers and the front. Jeremy’s another guy that I’ve worked with in the past, I’ve kept in very close contact. Jeremy’s a guy that’s coached on all levels, high school, college and now the NFL, and he’s always impressed me as somebody who’s been able to connect with every player on the field regardless of how they came up, where they’re from geographically – doesn’t matter, Jeremy just has a good knack of connecting with everyone. He’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever been around and it’s been fun to have him in the building and talking ball. I think he’s going to help our staff as far as bringing some new ideas and different ways of running our current schemes. One thing you’re seeing in the league right now is there are a lot of college schemes that are trickling up to the NFL based on the players and their skillsets and what they’re accustomed to doing. Having guys like Jeremy, [Inside Linebackers Coach] Kevin Sherrer and [Defensive Line Coach Sean Spencer] give you a little bit of an avenue of looking into ways they’ve handled similar things in the college game and being able to do it within our own schemes, so it’s something that should help us right there.

    We’ve added Pat Flaherty, he’s going to work in a consultant role with both the offensive and defensive staffs. He’s going to have responsibilities on both ends. Obviously, Pat’s specialty, being an offensive line coach in this league for a long time, a tight ends coach, is really dealing specifically with the front. I’m excited to have Pat here. Part of the strength is we’ve got two young offensive line coaches with Rob Sale and [Assistant Offensive Line Coach] Ben Wilkerson, and Pat’s a good sounding board for those guys to have. He’s also someone who can do some extra leg work for us and really break down opponents of what they’re doing, as well as share with our defensive staff maybe how some different offenses are running and give [Defensive Coordinator] Patrick Graham a different perspective on what he’s seeing on tape.

    Offensively, we’ve had some different assignment changes and, again, Derek Dooley did a great job for us last year as a Senior Offensive Assistant. Really did a nice job as far as preparing for opponents, running our scout teams and breaking down what we’re doing. I thought he was a guy that we wanted to get him into a room, get him some guys – we’ve moved him to Tight Ends Coach at this point. Derek’s a guy who’s got coordinating experience, he has coached multiple positions, he’s been a head coach, he sees things through a big lens and really sees a big picture at the end of the tunnel, which is important for us, so he’ll be our Tight Ends Coach.

    Freddie Kitchens is going to be our Senior Offensive Assistant. His primary responsibility is going to be working with the front. Freddie has coached quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends, has worked hand in hand with the offensive line. Again, tying into having two young offensive line coaches with Rob and Ben, I think Freddie is going to be an asset up front working directly with them and helping bring together the game planning, like all of our coaches will, but working directly with [Offensive Coordinator] Jason [Garrett] with some of the things that are going to happen up front. All that being said, I’ll open up to any questions you may have that I can answer at this point.

    Q: Year 1 was about the process and about progress. It was about improvement and development. What is the overall mantra as you get set and look ahead to year 2?

    A: Yeah, that doesn’t really change. It’s still about being committed to the process, that’s really the biggest thing right there. Like 31 other teams, we have to start over this year. In terms of the commitment to the team, the development of depth on the roster, continuing to develop our players that are here, the identification of the right fits of players through free agency and the draft to add to our program, the theme remains the same. The process is to build a team internally and then add necessary pieces that can add to your team. So, the mantra for us is to come to work every day, do your job, work hard, be attentive and put the team first. That’s going to be the job for every player walking through the door and that’s going to be the job for every coach in this building, as well.

    Q: Hey Joe, as all these colleges are having these pro days and there’s no Combine, how are you handling this? Are you sending people to every site? Is everything being done virtually? Are the guys who are traveling being given kits to stay healthy so they can test themselves?

    A: So, in terms of traveling from site to site, I’ll let [Senior Vice President and General Manager] Dave [Gettleman] talk about the personnel department and how they’re handling that. We will look to put scouts in the right positions to watch these pro days. I would say that the thing to consider with the pro days going on around the country is the protocols or regulations are a little bit different state by state and school by school. The one thing that we’ve been told that hasn’t changed yet is our interaction with players at these pro days will be almost nonexistent. In terms of what school you’re at, you may be in the stands in the stadium watching a player operate on the field. Now, we’re going to get video tape of all these pro days, so very similar to the Combine, all 32 teams are going to get the same tape of all the players. Really your best view will be the up-close views of the tape that you’re given. Now, ideally leading into the Draft, you want to get out there, you want to meet in person with these players, you want to look them in the eye, you want to get on the field with them, you want to put them through drills and you want to really get a feel for these guys on the field – how they respond to your coaching, what they can and can’t do on the field and really get a feel for their skillset up close. You know, video tape is good, but there’s really no replacing in-person workouts. That being said, because of the travel around the country right now and then also some of the restrictions at the campus, we’re going to be selective about where we send coaches as far as being out to work guys out because, again, you’re more going there as an observer than you are to actually work out the players. It’s definitely different than in the past. I’d say it’s not too dissimilar than the Combine itself where you’d sit in the stands in Indy or in a suite and watch the players work out, but to be honest with you, I’d say 90 percent of the coaches and personnel that are in the booths or in the suites are looking at the guy on the field and then they’re looking at the replay on the screen on TV to get an up-close look at it. It’s not the most ideal view as it is anyway, so, long-winded answer, will there be people out there? There will. Is it going to be as much traveling as in the past or as much interaction? No, it won’t. However, I’d say we have a lot of confidence in going through the draft last year without pro days at all, dealing solely with talking to players after the Combine on Zoom and I think we did a good job working as an organization to evaluate them through that process based on their game tape, to get together and make sure that we agreed in how we saw the player and what the best decision for the team going forward was.

    Q: Joe, this offseason seems a little bit different in terms of some of the top quarterbacks in the league and their potential to move around. I’m wondering if your stance has changed at all because of the potential availabilities of those players regarding [Quarterback] Daniel [Jones] and why or why not?

    A: No, it hasn’t at all. It hasn’t at all. Again, we have confidence in Daniel, he’s a player that we want to work with going forward with this team. He’s shown us a lot of improvement, there’s a lot of things. I can go on and on about how we respect him and like him and how the locker room responds to him, but the simple answer to that is no.

    Q: Last year was obviously about evaluating him and coming to that decision. What do you need to see from him moving forward and what can you do in the next couple of weeks here or the next couple of months as we head toward the draft to help him get there?

    A: Well, we’re limited on the interaction we can have with the players anyway. We touch base with our players – texts and phone calls. A lot of these guys come through the building, we sit down and have conversations, but it’s really not football at this point. It’s more just catching up, checking on these guys, making sure that they’re good, that their families are healthy, that if there’s anything they need from us that we can assist them with, but it’s not football at this point. In terms of anything we can do leading up to the draft, until we get clearance to start the offseason program and have the players here and really not get on the field with the players until phase two, that’s the first time we’re really going to get the chance to work with them on the field. Other than that, it’ll be meetings in phase one and some meetings in phase two, and then ideally if we have OTAs again, that’s really where they can make the most gains and improvement as a player. And that’s for all of our players. In terms of Daniel, like every other player and every coach, we all have things we have to improve on and take strides forward in this year. That’s no different for any player on our roster or any player in the league really. But our focus is internally coach some players, we all have to improve, we communicate that directly, I do with all of the coaches, we communicate directly with all of our players in things that we have to improve on both short-term and then long-term throughout their career, and then we put together a system and plan for them to attack that and go forward.

    Q: Hey Joe, this offseason, how do you balance trying to plug some holes on your roster to win in 2021 with continuing to rebuild the roster and looking at the long-term picture, like when you’re evaluating free agent decisions and that kind of thing?

    A: Look, I’m always a long-term picture guy. I think you have success by continuously building your team through the draft, by developing your players, by adding the right players in free agency that not only fits you schematically but fits you personality and culture-wise in the locker room. I think the one thing to keep in mind as we go through this free agency point of the year – and, look, it’s very exciting, and there’s a lot of press and media and it’s all over TV, but the reality is it’s not fantasy football. You can’t just grab a player, put him on your team and think everything’s going to work out. It has to be the right fit for your team going forward and that’s a fit culturally and a fit schematically, and it’s got to go both ways. There’s things that we do here that, look, we don’t make it easy on our players and coaches, that’s by design. The guys we have in this locker room have bought in, we have a lot of fun here through doing that, but we have a way of doing things. That’s not for everyone, to be honest with you. You have to make sure you bring someone in who’s going to fit the culture and that’s going to buy into what you’re doing, and that shares the same principles and values and team goals that you have. In terms of balancing that, to me it’s just about continuously adding good players to your roster and then it’s our job internally to help those players promote their career through developing and getting better on the field.

    Q: You said you evaluated your own team and what you kind of need in regards to personnel, so obviously you’re not going to tell me exactly who you want to get or whatever. From a big picture, what are your goals personnel-wise for this offseason?

    A: I’m going to give an answer and this is actually as clear and transparent as I can be – and it’s going to seem very generic and washed out, but this is as simple as I can put it – the priority is really just to add as many good players to this team that we see helping us down the stretch and building with this. That’s the goal. Add good players who fit what we’re looking to do, who can add to the skillsets we need as a team and at the same time fit the culture in the locker room that we’re building here. I know that sounds very generic, there’s guys at all positions that are available throughout the league. Ultimately, what it’s going to come down to is making sure that whatever position we bring guys in that they fit us and that we fit them.

    Q: Being specific on one position at least, how important is it for you to add a top playmaker in regards to a receiver this offseason?

    A: I think we’ve got to do things to help our players on our roster. We have to make sure we keep putting these guys in position to be successful and part of that is by adding talent and improving the competition on the roster. That can be through the draft, that can be through free agency, that can be a lot of different ways. In terms of adding specifically a receiver, look, if the right situation is up with a guy in free agency, then we’ll pursue it. If the right situation is up with a guy in the draft, then we’ll pursue it. My focus as a coach is when we get whoever we have in the building to continue to put them in the right position to be successful and use their skillsets.

    Q: Hey Joe, you guys obviously added a lot of young offensive linemen last year and I know you made it a point to work them into the rotation throughout the year and get them some experience. I’m curious, how much do those guys play into your decision-making in terms of adding offensive linemen this offseason and how do you feel generally about that group coming out of last year?

    A: Well, I think because you play five guys at a time at that position, you’re always looking for good offensive linemen to bring into your program and develop. You can never have too many good offensive linemen, nobody’s ever upset that they have a good offensive line. So, I’m very pleased with the development our young guys got last year, I’m pleased with the continuity they built in not really being just five guys working together, but really it was seven or eight guys working together through different stretches of the season and really getting a feel for each other. That being said, again, we’re always looking to add good players that can add to our roster and every player has to compete for what they get here. Specifically to the offensive line, I’m pleased with the progress those guys made last year and if there’s someone at some point to add to the team that’s going to be the best move for the team, we’ll always consider that.

    Q: Where are you on [Defensive Lineman] Dalvin Tomlinson? How would you evaluate a guy who doesn’t have the biggest stats because of the position he plays, but certainly seemed to be really important to what your defense was able to do last year?

    A: Specific to our players who are free agents, I said it after the season and I’ll say it again, I’d love to have all of our guys back, I really would. I’m not going to comment on anything specifically to contracts and obviously we have a lot of love for Dalvin as a person and as a player. To me, I don’t think stats are always the overlying factor. You have to understand how you use him in your scheme and the overall production he has sometimes by allowing other people to be productive. Look, in terms of Dalvin, I can’t say enough good things about him. I love him as a person, he’s a fun guy to coach. All that being said, we’d love to have all of our guys back. There’s a process every team has to go through this time of year through free agency and all that stuff will be addressed when the time comes.

    Q: Hey Joe, have you talked to [Offensive Tackle] Nate Solder and do you expect him to play this season? Did he give you that indication? And do you need either him or [Guard] Kevin Zeitler around, if not both, to mentor your young offensive linemen?

    A: I’d say both those players are players that are under contract and currently on our roster. Look, I’m not going to speak for Nate. The answer is yes, I have talked to Nate. To be honest with you, the majority of our conversations have actually had nothing to do with football. I’ve talked a good bit with Nate since the end of the season and just checked up on him in terms of how the year off went, how his family is doing, how his son is doing and how he’s doing personally. There have been a lot of conversations. We have talked some football. There are other areas of our building as well that are in conversations with Nate, but when the time comes to address all that, we’ll know. Obviously, these things don’t all happen in one day and we’ll see where everything goes, but these are players we’d love to have back, they’re guys on our roster.

    Q: Hey Joe, this year in particular with the cap being lower, I’m just curious when you look at two positions like pass rusher and wide receiver, how you weigh what’s happening in the draft. It’s obviously a very deep receiver class, so does that kind of shift your way of thinking about that position and maybe the same goes for pass rusher where it might not be so deep and you might have to dip into free agency?

    A: I mean, it’s our job to know everybody who’s in the draft as well as everybody throughout the league that’s a free agent. It’s our job to know everyone throughout the league and on rosters, as well. That’s just part of the job, knowing the people in the NFL. Speaking specifically on those positions, you’re always doing your homework based on what’s available in different avenues to add to your team, whether that’s in free agency or the draft. Sometimes they do well off each other, other times they may not. I think the decision always comes down to who’s available at what times and is it the best decision for the organization.

    Q: Hi Joe, just following up on wide receivers. When evaluating them, especially because so much is not in person, what characteristics are you looking for on film or intangibles besides fitting into the culture?

    A: For all our players, we’re really looking for smart, tough and fundamentally sound. Now, you can evaluate a good bit of that on tape, you can evaluate the smarts or the instincts that you see them play with on tape. You can evaluate the tough through how they play with a physical mentality and how they respond to the tough situations in the game. And fundamentally sound, you have to see on the tape how they play within a positional execution. All that being said, you’re evaluating critical factors not to what they’ve done, but what you think they can do projecting going forward. So, in terms of evaluating anybody simply on tape, you’ve got to do your best work in terms of really evaluating how they play. Ultimately, the most important evaluation is the game tape. With draft prospects, it’s important for us to do our homework on these guys, it’s important for us to have good interaction in person and be very intentional in the questions we ask them to find out the information we need.

    Q: Coach, just to follow up on something you said in the beginning, you went through an offseason last year like none other. It looks like it’s going to be the same kind of parameters in terms of virtual. What kind of improvements have you identified that maybe you want to change going forward into this offseason to get better results?

    A: I’d say the first thing is in terms of the makeup of this offseason, nothing’s been done officially that we’ve been communicated to about. I’d say our hope is still to have the players in person, whether that’s in intense protocols or whatever it may be. Obviously, it’s a voluntary program, so it’s on the players and what they want to do with their offseason. I could tell you this, easily over 90 percent of our players talking at the end of the season voiced to me their desire to be here this spring and the importance they know on working here. I think we have a young team who understands that we have to work to improve, but that being said, it’s a voluntary program. We want to do everything we can do to help the players when we’re allocated the time. Now, I’d say specifically into the virtual part of it, actually we had a long talk about that after the season when we evaluated everything we do as a process. We had a long talk about the virtual element of the program, whether it was spring or in-season, and that’s something based on whether or not we have to do it because we’re mandated to in the future, whether that’s spring or the season. Also, we looked at some of the benefits of using it as a change up like we did some times this year throughout the season. We saw benefits of doing it at different times possibly virtually. Now, that’s got to be the right makeup of the team, the right time of the year and the right situation to use it. One thing I thought our staff got very good at and our players as well was being very interactive at the end of the year through Zoom. It wasn’t so much just tune in and listen, but it was really the interaction and we were able to really simulate those in-person meetings. The more interactive the meetings got, the more benefit we saw on the back end of the year. I would say that just seeing what we did last year that was beneficial, that would be the main focus to carry into the spring. The other thing too is, we reached out to a lot of people and we tried to find out what they do differently. I’m talking about talking to college programs, what are they doing differently with a younger generation of players? Talking to high school coaches, how do they have to interact with their players? Talking to teachers at high schools and professors in college, what are the things that they found beneficial as far as teaching? What are the tools that are out there that we’re not using that can keep players stimulated and engaged throughout meetings? We’re always looking to go ahead and do it. To me, the number one thing is interaction.

    Q: Hey Coach, I wanted to follow up on Rob Sale. You guys have obviously put so much thought and effort into offensive line with Freddie’s new role, with bringing in Pat Flaherty. If you can just expand on why you think Rob Sale is the right guy to come help this young offensive line.

    A: Like I said earlier, Rob is an excellent teacher. He’s a great, high energy coach and very detailed on the field. His guys respond to him. I’ve watched him develop a number of players at different places, whether he was at Georgia, Arizona State, Louisiana, I’ve watched him develop a number of offensive linemen that have been successful. I think the biggest thing is when you look at some of these programs, they start out with these higher recruits and their ceiling is high, but the room to get to the ceiling isn’t always as high. What I’ve seen with Rob is some of the guys he’s developed in the programs he’s been in where he’s truly had to mold them and bring them along both from their physical development as well as their mental understanding and their on-field performance. Look, I’m very pleased with what him and Ben have been doing the last few weeks working together, but tied directly into Rob, his ability to teach, his ability to establish relationships with his players and the response he gets from his guys and how they play on the field. That, to me, they all just line up to be the best fit for us.

    Q: Joe, as you self-scouted your pass rush last year, what did you think of it? And now that [Defensive Lineman] Leonard Williams will be back with you guys, how does that impact how you view that area and entering free agency and the draft?

    A: Well, look, it’s a passing league, truly it is. You have to be able to stop the run to be effective on defense, but when you look at the guys getting paid the most money, it’s obviously the quarterbacks. It’s a passing league. When you talk about the pass rush, it can never be just one player, you have to have depth at those positions and it has to come from multiple areas. To me, the improvement of the pass rush as the year went on last year was a combination of the improvement made up front with the defensive line and the outside linebackers in our pass rush schemes and then also on the back end with the way our defensive backs improved in the coverage on the back end to give them more time to get to the quarterback. Nothing really happens independently of each other. If the coverage isn’t sound, you can’t have a pass rush. If the pass rush isn’t sound, they have to cover for a long time and then all of a sudden that ends up not being really in your favor. Really, I saw improvement from the defense as a whole. That’s what we have to really go ahead and keep emphasizing is making sure all three levels, the defensive backs, the linebackers and the defensive line, continue to improve within our schemes. And then we have to make sure that we use guys in the best situations and matchups to be successful.

    Q: In terms of Leonard Williams and him coming back, how does that impact how you view things going into free agency and the draft with your pass rush?

    A: Like I said about all of our players, I’d love to have Leonard back. He’s a guy that obviously we really value in this building and we’d love to have him around here. When we talk specifically about how that helps the pass rush, I think good players help you play good and it’s no secret that he’s a very good player.

    Q: Hey Coach, you talked about going over schemes and making some adjustments. I’m curious, at the tight end position, you and Jason (Garrett), do you feel that you fully utilized [Tight End] Evan Engram and even a guy like [Tight End] Levine Toilolo in the offense the way you attack defenses? And after looking at every play – I’m sure you looked at every play, how do you feel about Evan Engram still? Do you feel this guy is the future here?

    A: I love Evan. I have a ton of confidence in Evan. He’s fun to coach, the guys have fun playing with him, he gives everyone in the locker room a ton of confidence. This guy goes out there every day and this guy works tirelessly, I mean tirelessly. This guy is a tank every day, so in terms of confidence within the program, absolutely we have confidence in him, 100 percent. He’s a guy that obviously we have to keep continuing to feature in the offense along with [Tight End] Kaden Smith and Levine and all the other tight ends that will be in our program because these are guys with skillsets and we’ve just got to keep on doing things to use their versatility and skillsets to put them in a position of strength.

    DAVE GETTLEMAN ADDRESSES THE MEDIA…
    New York Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman addressed the media on Tuesday (video):

    Opening Statement: Good afternoon, folks. Trust you’re all well and your families are great also. Just to catch up on where we’ve been, what we’ve done since the season ended, obviously when the season ended, we had a thorough review of our roster and then we’ve been getting into the UFA’s, so we’re well on our way there. On the college side, we’ve had two rounds of Zoom meetings with college scouts. They are out and about at the pro days. Our final prep meetings for the draft, we’ll reconvene in early April, hopefully some of it in person and it’s not completely Zoom, we’re hoping for that. Right now, we’re involved with Zoom interview sessions in lieu of the Indy interviews. We started those last week, we’re doing three players a day on average in the afternoon, so that’s where we’re at. Finally, just so you understand, I completely understand why you guys have to ask about contracts and negotiations, I understand that. I hope you understand my stance on this. Philosophically, it’s between the player and the club. I think it’s very personal and in terms of timelines, contracts get done when they’re supposed to get done. That’s the way I feel about it and that’s the way it’ll go when you ask me about negotiations. Let the questions begin.

    Q: Last year, you had [Defensive Lineman] Leonard Williams play under the franchise tag number. This year, how debilitating would it be if you have to do that again with Leonard Williams at almost $20 million dollars of cap space?

    A: Well, we still don’t know what the cap number is going to be. We still don’t know that, so that’s a hypothetical. Don’t know what the number is going to be, but it is what it is.

    Q: Theoretically, how much would it hurt you in free agency moving forward if you have to allot all that money to one player on a franchise tag?

    A: Well, obviously it certainly makes it a little more difficult, but we’ll operate, and we’ll manage.

    Q: With reference to Leonard and a franchise tag, have you guys officially used the franchise tag on Leonard yet? I know there was a report this morning that you were going to.

    A: Today is the last day. We’ll see where it goes.

    Q: So you haven’t made an official decision on that either way?

    A: No, we’ll make a decision later on.

    Q: Just in terms of the way this offseason is shaking out, I know last year you started one way in terms of how you were able to do all your evaluations. You still had the Combine and then obviously everything changed, and you had to really fly by the seat of your pants. Overall, do you feel that it’s more challenging or less challenging going into this year having gone through and offseason like last year or are there things that you still are kind of uncertain as to how things are going to play out from a scouting perspective, from free agency because of the uncertainty that’s still involved league wide?

    A: Well, the uncertainty really doesn’t play into unrestricted free agency. Those are players that are in the league, scouting them is not the issue. The uncertainty certainly falls on the college draft piece. Last year, despite the fact that the world essentially closed down mid-March, we had already had Indy, we had the all-star games and obviously had a full college season with full normal access. You had all that. This year, it’s obviously different. The way the pro days are set up, each team is only going to be allowed to have three people attend and most likely you’re going to be in the stands, whether that’s in an indoor facility or in a stadium, who knows. It’s going to vary from school to school. We also have to have our scouts tested and show up with negative tests, so there’s a lot of that going on. The other problem you’re going to have is that critical face-to-face contact, you’re not going to be able to have it because even at these pro days you’re not going to be allowed to have one-on-ones with the players. It’s going to be different. I’ve had conversations with people in other leagues and how they’ve handled it and I’ll continue those conversations, but really and truly there’s always unknowns and there’s just more unknowns this year. The one thing that I will say is we’re used to Zoom, we’re used to operating differently and we’re used to trying to be innovative as to how we operate, so that part of it is ongoing.

    Q: Even if [Running Back] Saquon [Barkley] comes back 100 percent, do you need playmakers, one or two more? How do you look at that?

    A: Every team needs playmakers, let’s be honest. Good lord willing, Saquon will be 100 percent and obviously he’ll make a huge difference. A healthy Saquon obviously makes a big difference, but, again, you’re always looking to add good players. And, oh, by the way, we’re not playing until September, so we’ve got free agency and we’ve got the draft, and we’ll see how it plays out. It’s not like we don’t realize what we need, but, again, at the end of the day it’s also about adding really good players. You can never have too many good players at any positions. Sure, we have our eye out for that, but we also have our eye out for guys that fit us culturally and fit where we’re trying to get to.

    Q: Seems like this year more than ever there’s a lot of potential quarterback moves in the league and certainly a lot of high-ranking draft picks to come out. [Head Coach] Joe [Judge] said a little earlier that you guys haven’t changed your stance on [Quarterback] Daniel [Jones]. Was it at all tempting to look at some of those possibilities or how did you handle that situation?

    A: Well, you do your evaluations. We’ve had Daniel for two years; we’ve done the evaluation on him and we really believe he’s the guy. No reason to go look. What we’re doing isn’t fantasy football, we’re not playing, we’re not doing that. We’ve got a conviction on him, he’s everything we want, he’s got all the physical skills and again I say this all the time, the kid just finished his second year of NFL football. How many of us after two years at our new job were great? No, we all start at point A and we hopefully get to point Z, but the one common denominator is it takes time. Everybody has to understand that. We believe in Daniel and that’s where it is.

    Q: Do you feel like there’s a deadline to get this team to championship caliber before he gets to a second contract? Do you need to try to win on his rookie deal?

    A: You giving me the window theory? Microsoft Windows is nice, but I’m not a window theory guy, I’m just not. I never have been, and I never will be, so we’re going to keep working the process, keep getting better and we’ll get there.

    Q: Since you arrived at the Giants, I think this is year four of the rebuild and while I’m sure you might quibble with this, PFF had your offensive line ranked 31st this season in the league. I’m just wondering where you think you guys are in this rebuild and did you think it would be a little quicker, frankly?

    A: Well, we’ve talked about that. I went to Carolina and it worked out well, it worked out quickly. We all want things to happen fast. Just for what it’s worth, in terms of where our offensive line is, they’re young and they’re talented. Things take time. I said it earlier, things take time. We believe in these guys, they all came along, we finished the season fairly strong. One of the things that I would say to you is we were 4-2 in our division and if you look at our division, all of those defensive lines that we play, all those fronts are big, powerful, athletic defensive lines and our guys held up. So, we’re getting there. It’s the old saying, you’ve got to run the ball and you’ve got to obviously be able to protect the passer. We’re young and we’re getting better.

    Q: If I may though, you can only say you’re young if you don’t have [Guard Kevin] Zeitler and [Offensive Tackle Nate] Solder because they’re not young, they’re absolute veterans in this league. So, are you implying that they’re gone, and the young guys have to make it happen now?

    A: I’m not implying that at all.

    Q: But Dave, then your offensive line isn’t young. Respectfully, you don’t have a young offensive line, then.

    A: When your center and your left guard and your left tackle are rookies, basically you’re young.

    Q: With the uncertainty and lack of information in the scouting process this year compared to others, is there an argument for trading back in the draft more this year than other years and acquiring more picks to take more swings at the plate, so to speak? Or even maybe moving and acquiring more picks next year because the process might yield clearer results in the scouting process than it does this year? Or do you try to handle it as normally as possible through all those hurdles?

    A: Well, I think that you can make the argument that you’re going to have the most information on the top 100-150 guys and as you work backwards because of a lack of touch and whatever, you’re not going to have as much information or have as much confidence in your ability to work your way through that group. You can make the argument to trade back because of this thing. There are guys in this draft that when they put pads on in August it’ll be the first time in 20 months they’ll have put pads on, so you’ve got to think about that piece and some of those guys are very, very highly rated, so you’ve got to think about that. Your point about moving picks and trading back and getting 2022 picks is very valid because hopefully we’ll be back to somewhat normal and we’ll be able to draft in 2022 with that kind of thorough information that we had in 2020, but not in 2021. So you can make that argument for that, you can make that argument to trade back, accumulate picks for next year. You can make the argument that you sit tight. You can make the argument that, knowing that your best information is going to be on the top guys, maybe you trade up. So, who knows? I think what you’re saying makes a lot of sense.

    Q: Can I refer to you as an old GM?

    A: Wow, that’s getting personal. Sure, if that makes you happy, have at it.

    Q: This year with a reduced salary cap, is renegotiating with guys with existing contracts more of an option this year?

    A: The goal to best manage the cap is to get flat contracts. So, if a guy is making $15 million – it’s a 3-year deal at $45 million – you’d like to have a $15 million cap number every year, that’s the goal. once you start restructuring or renegotiating, you usually back-end load them. What you’re doing is you’re kicking the can, so it depends upon how much pain you want to deal with. That’s really what it is. Some teams philosophically say, ‘The heck with it,’ and they restructure and some people don’t. It’s a philosophical conversation, but it’s not a good place to get to, to constantly restructure and renegotiate.

    Q: Hey Dave, this is your first draft since having to let go of DeAndre Baker. Pre-Dave Gettleman, the Giants were burned by some immaturity issues with Eli Apple and with Ereck Flowers. I’m wondering if in this draft, organizationally you guys have tightened standards to where any hint of a red flag is a no-go for you guys or is that just not possible because too many talented players have at least some hint of a red flag?

    A: What I’m going to say to you is, again, you have to remember how young these players are. It’s not the old days where you had four guys that played four years, almost everybody red-shirted. [Offensive Tackle] Andrew Thomas just turned 21. I told you before, I drafted two 20-year-old guys when I was in Carolina. They’re coming out younger and younger, so there is that piece to them. They’ve been covered their whole lives and they’ve been taken care of and they’ve been covered and they haven’t had to be as accountable as maybe they need to have been, so when they get to us they have two things that are very dangerous and it’s time and money. Some handle it better than others. At the end of the day, that is something that we really try to work our way through. We talk about maturity all the time with players. Again, you turn around and you interview the players and you ask them the question, ‘What do you think is going to be your biggest challenge?’ And they turn around and say, ‘Well, I shouldn’t have any problems.’ And I’m saying to myself, ‘Well, how much does he know? How aware is he? How self- aware is he? Does he really understand what he’s getting into?’ When I tell him, ‘You’re 21 years old and you’re going to play against a 28 or 29-year-old man who wants to rip your lungs out.’ It’s different, you’re not in college anymore. The long way around to that answer is the maturity piece is really important and you work on it. At the end of the day, sometimes you’re not right.

    Q: In regards to a young line, if that’s the case, are you comfortable going into the season with two players in their second year like [Offensive Tackle] Matt Peart and Andrew Thomas as your starting tackles?

    A: I am, yes.

    Q: We didn’t see a lot of Matt Peart, so I’m wondering what you saw that gives you that confidence in him.

    A: When he played, he played fine. He played pretty damn well. At some point in time, you’ve got to let the young kids play. Listen, every player was a rookie at some point or a young player at some point. At some point in time, you have to have confidence in who’s on your club and you have to put him in there and let him play. Like I’ve said to some of you, how many of you had Pulitzer Prize-winning articles your first or second year?

    Q: You don’t have the proverbial number one receiver or dominant edge rusher, the bell cow I think as you said last year. How realistic is it to fill both those spots in one offseason considering how much those positions get paid?

    A: Well, there is a draft, right? So, you don’t necessarily have to buy them both. We’re just going to see how it plays out, see what guys are worth and what the expense costs are, and just keep moving forward.

    Q: Hi Dave, you guys added Kyle O’Brien into your front office the other day. I’m curious what went into that decision, what’s his role going to be in the front office and what do you think he can bring to the table?

    A: Well, what Kyle can bring is a variety of experiences. He’s worked in pro, he’s obviously been a college scout, a director of college scouting, a vice president of player personnel. Kyle went to Harvard and we’re always looking to add smart people. He’s a quality evaluator and we had a chance to add him and you want to add quality people, so Kyle will be very involved in what we’re doing.

    Q: Just wanted to touch on something you were talking about earlier with less information that you guys can get this year. Everybody’s in the same boat, but is there a little bit uneasiness going into a draft like this when you don’t necessarily have access to the people that are around these players when you don’t get to see these players in person? Is there a percentage of less information that you would have on a prospect this year than you normally would?

    A: Really, what makes you uncomfortable is the lack of personal contact you have with the players. That’s really what it is. Watching them operate, talking to them, just not having that personal touch is very difficult. The other thing that’s strange is most of the time when you’re talking about players in April once all the smoke has cleared, you’ve had Indy, you’ve had your pro days, you have your own personal measurements on these guys. The 40-yard dash times are your times, so there’s going to be a lot of information that we’re hoping is accurate and crisp. When we talk about players, we talk about play speed. I’ve been pretty vocal about Indy being the ‘underwear Olympics’ and last time I checked when you play football you have full pads on. It’s not what a guy runs in a 40-yard dash time, it’s how fast he plays, so I think that’s going to come into focus even more. We can get with the coaches, the assistant coaches and the folks, that’s not the problem. The problem is the personal contact with the players and where the measurables are coming from. Especially for me, more so it’s the height and the weight, the body measurements. The 40-yard dash is a watch, I really believe in play speed. It is a little unsettling, you know. I’ve said this before, what we’re doing is educated guessing, so this makes us a little more uneducated, not having this personal touch with these players.

    Q: With the doctors in particular, the medical stuff, not having your own doctors get a chance to look at them, too. Does that play in?

    A: Sure because, like I said, there is going to be an Indy in regards to medical. I believe they’re talking about having the top 150 go to Indianapolis and have a full, thorough medical. There’s going to be some telehealth interviews involved and whatever, but it’s a little unsettling. It is with the medical piece because there’s some unknowns. The more unknowns you have, the more unsettling it is.

    Q: When it comes to Saquon Barkley’s situation coming off the injury, do you guys have to see him on the field before opening up long-term contract talks? Just curious what the injury history plays into that as he goes into his fourth year.

    A: Well, I think that’s part of the discussion and obviously we’re going to have to make a decision in the spring on whether we pick up his fifth-year option or not. You know, again, it comes back to that medical question. It’s unknown and what you have to do is get your trainer and your doctors involved and make your best decision.

    Q: Dave, last year I don’t think you had any undrafted free agents – actually, I take that back, [Defensive End] Niko [Lalos] made the roster later in the season. With that said, do you feel like given the circumstance that you’re missing out on maybe some smaller school gems? Have you adjusted how you’re going about your scouting process to maybe pick up some of these guys and pay more attention to them?

    A: You’ve got to remember, last year we had ten draft picks. That’s an unusual number, so you can make the argument that you take three of the seventh-round picks, the last three, and if we had signed them after the draft – one of them was the inside linebacker from Georgia, Tae [Crowder], one of them was Chris Williamson, who was on the practice squad and the other guy I’m not sure, it wasn’t [LB] Cam Brown, Cam Brown was the sixth – but the point is those guys made our club. You can look at those as free agent signings after the draft. The other thing you have to remember is right now some of those schools are playing, some of the smaller school guys are playing and we’ll do the best we can with evaluating. There’s film available – you’re trying to get all the draft information and look at these kids, so it’s a challenge. It’s a challenge, but we’re working at it.

    Q: Big picture here, you guys have won five, four and six games in your three seasons here. What are your expectations about how much better this team should be now that you feel like you have kind of settled things at quarterback, which is a big question? How much better should this team be in 2021?

    A: Obviously, everybody has expectations. It’s about getting better. I’m not going to put a win number on it, I’m just not going to go there. I think we’re just about there. Talking to you guys, you’ve alluded to some of our needs and I believe we’re going to get there.

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    John Mara, New York Giants (December 13, 2020)

    John Mara – © USA TODAY Sports

    JOHN MARA ADDRESSES THE MEDIA…
    New York Giants President and Chief Executive Officer John Mara addressed the media on Wednesday (video):

    Opening Statement: Good morning everybody. Let me just start out by saying how proud I am of our staff, our entire organization and particularly our players for the way they handled this past season. The effort and patience and discipline and sacrifice that everybody went through, not seeing their families and all of the protocols that kept changing seemingly on a weekly basis. We were able to get through and play the whole season with relatively few bumps in the road, and that was no small feat.

    In terms of the season itself, looking back a year ago, I can tell you that we’re very pleased with the selection that we made at head coach. I thought Joe (Judge) did a very good job considering what he had to deal with. When you think about it, here you have a brand new head coach at 38 years of age and look what he was asked to deal with: a pandemic, no offseason program, no minicamps, no preseason games, virtual meetings, protocols that kept changing, and he loses his best player in Week 2. I thought he showed great leadership and great adaptability. Nothing seemed to faze him during the year. If something had to change, he just made the change and went from there. I thought he showed real leadership, grit and determination the entire time. I thought he represented our franchise very well, the way I want our head coach to represent our franchise. I thought he established a great foundation and a great culture here. I know that culture word is overused, but I think it’s so important and I think we have the beginnings of a very good culture here. I also thought that he and Dave (Gettleman) worked very well together. All of our personnel decisions I thought improved significantly this year. They were able to agree on basically every decision that we made. I thought our draft was solid, our free agency moves were solid, and I think we have the foundation for something that could be very successful going forward.

    Obviously, I’m not pleased with the number of games we won. I’m disappointed that we couldn’t do better than 6-10. But I do see progress in the building here. I think that the quality of people that we have in the locker room has improved a great deal. I think we have some great leaders down there. I think we’ve established a basis for a foundation that can have continued success going forward. I’m excited about the future of this team. I think the fact that we went 5-3 over the second half of the season gives me some reason for encouragement. I’m obviously disappointed we didn’t make the playoffs. We had every opportunity to do that only needing one more game, and we didn’t get that done. But I think what I wanted to see this year was some progress and some reason for some optimism going forward, and I did see that and that’s what I’m optimistic about what we can do in the future. With that, I’m happy to take whatever questions you have.

    Q: Back in September, you didn’t want to put a win total on this season. You cited a vision that you wanted to create with Joe and obviously what you just said in your opening statement. I’m curious how much of it is a leap of faith compared to what you’ve done in the last couple of years following losing seasons? How much is it tangible? Is there tangible evidence that you’ve seen beyond the record that you could describe as to why you’re as confident in this season, maybe more so than you were in the last couple years?

    A: I think it’s both of that. I think there’s always a certain leap of faith when you’re coming off a season when you only won six games. But just the quality of the players that we have in the locker room, the fact that they all seemed to buy in to Joe’s philosophy and Joe’s message. The effort was really good all year long, the discipline was really good all year long. I just think there’s a different feeling in the building now then there has been in a number of years, and I think that’s why I’m optimistic going forward.

    Q: You didn’t actually come out and make an announcement today that Dave Gettleman is coming back as general manager. Is that because that was not a decision that you made, it was just something that was naturally happening? Why is Dave coming back for another year as general manager?

    A: He is coming back if you want a formal announcement about that. I don’t think there was any particular reason why we didn’t make any formal announcement. I think the way Dave and Joe worked together, I thought our personnel decisions were really sound this year. I feel better about our roster than I have in years, and I think the two of them working together have started the building process with something that can have sustained success going forward. I just didn’t think that making a change at this point in time was something that was going to be beneficial. I said they worked really well together, and I’m really pleased with the players that they brought in here. I think that gives us a chance going forward.

    Q: Is there any change to the structure at all? Or this is the same structure that it’s always been? There was some speculation of Joe’s going to have a lot more power now or something.

    A: It’s the same structure it’s always been. The general manager and head coach collaborate on personnel decisions. What I’ve been really pleased about is, now they haven’t agreed 100 percent of the time. My father used to have a saying, ‘if you both agree all the time, then I don’t need both of you.’ I haven’t had to intercede on one occasion to break any ties. They managed to talk it through and work it out, showed good communication and at the end of the day, the decision that gets made is the New York Giants’ decision. It’s not Joe’s decision or Dave’s decision. They collaborate really well together, and that’s one of the reasons why, again, I’m optimistic about our future.

    Q: I know you’re happy here with the progress and optimistic about the future, but my question is how long do the fans need to wait for a winning team to emerge?

    A: Hopefully not too much longer because I can’t wait too much longer quite frankly. I’m tired of sitting up here at the end of the year trying to explain what went wrong and why I feel optimistic about the future. I want to do it after a winning season. I do believe that we have the right people in the building, we have a much better locker room than we’ve ever had before, and I think there’s reason for optimism. I feel good about the way the personnel decisions were made this year. We have some opportunities now in the draft and in free agency to improve the roster even further. I think if our fans continue to stay patient with us, that they will see a winning team pretty soon.

    Q: I have two questions related to the NFC East. The first is did you reach out to Eagles ownership at all, either before Joe said what he said or after about how they handled their last game? The second one is in evaluating your season, did you have to take into account the reason you were playing meaningful games in December was the rest of the division struggled so much? You guys would have been four games out of first in any other division.

    A: The answer to your first question is no, I did not reach out to the Eagles organization either before or after. The reason we didn’t make the playoffs is we didn’t win enough games. We had to win one more game to get into the playoffs. That’s on us. We can’t blame that on anybody else. I’m very conscious of where the division was this year, what the final record was. But I think you’ll see a much stronger division next year. Listen, we didn’t win enough games, but I do feel like we’re making progress. Some people may dispute that, and time will tell if I’m right or not. But I believe very strongly we did make enough progress to warrant staying the course with the people we have in the building.

    Q: I have two questions also. The first is what was the season like for you watching games in empty stadiums and in your empty stadium?

    A: It was a very strange feeling, and not a good one and not one I hope to repeat. Just coming into our stadium and not feeling any energy from the crowd I think was pretty difficult. Hopefully that’s not going to be the case next year. It was an eerie feeling each week walking into, really every stadium you’d walk into, even those that had limited capacity. It just didn’t feel the same. It’s just not the same having your fans there to support you. I think the players feed off that energy, and not having that I think hurt us this year.

    Q: My second question is Joe has obviously expressed his conviction about Daniel (Jones) as the quarterback moving forward. Do you share that and why?

    A: I do share that. I think Daniel before he got hurt was playing really well during that winning streak that we had. Then he got hurt, I think it was in Cincinnati, and then he wasn’t quite the same for the next few weeks. I thought he played very well this past Sunday, and also played well in the Baltimore game. Our coaches, all of them, are very high on Daniel, and I feel the same way. I think he has what it takes to lead us to where we want to go.

    Q: I just wanted to circle back to the decision with Dave real quick. I understand you say you’re seeing progress with him and Joe, but what do you say to fans who say in his third year, you guys won six games, then in three years, you won 15 and they just feel that’s not enough progress?

    A: I can understand that and there’s no defending the record. There’s no defending that at all. We haven’t won enough games. But listen, we made some miscalculations in 2018 with some of our personnel decisions. But I think the last two years, particularly this past year, we’ve seen significant improvement. I just felt like to break that up now and bring in somebody new from the outside was not going to be beneficial for us. I think Dave and Joe work very well together. Our personnel decisions I think were very sound, and I have every reason to think that will be the case going forward.

    Q: You mentioned 2018, this notion has kind of been out there that there was a mandate from ownership that you had to make one more run with Eli (Manning). Is that true?

    A: That’s absolute nonsense. We have never made any such orders or directions whatnot. I want the general manager and the coach to agree on the roster and the players that should be on the roster. I’ll give my opinion, but I want them to have a conviction about it going forward. Listen, we definitely made some miscalculations in a number of areas in 2018. But it was never any direction from ownership one way or another.

    Q: Is there any kind of contract extension going on with Dave, or are you leaving his contract situation as is?

    A: I don’t comment on people’s contracts and how much longer they have or anything. I’m not going to start by doing that now.

    Q: If you consider this year progress, then what is your barometer for progress for Dave as general manager and for your team in 2021?

    A: Well, I’d like to see our team win more games. I’d like to see us get back into the playoffs, but I’m not ever going to set a minimum number of games that we have to win or make any kind of determination like that. Again, I want to feel at the end of next year that we’ve taken a significant step forward. It’s not another six-win season or something like that. We need to win more games. But I’m not going to give you a required minimum.

    Q: How did you weigh or count the facts that mistakes that Dave has made as GM, including DeAndre Baker, Golden Tate, I’m not going to list all of them, but do you connect those mistakes with your 6-10 record this year from the previous two years? Why do you not think that’s an indictment of the general manager?

    A: You used the word indictment. We made some miscalculations in 2018, and I think we, to a certain extent, paid for that this year by not having some of those players available. No question about it. I thought in 2019, things got a little bit better. Certainly, this past offseason, I thought the personnel decisions that we made, both in the draft and in free agency, were significantly better. I like the combination that we have here right now. I didn’t see any reason to break that up.

    Q: How much did you even contemplate making a change at general manager?

    A: I really didn’t contemplate that. Listen, when you go through a season, any season, your feelings change from week to week depending on how you’re doing. I certainly didn’t feel very good midway through the season when we were sitting there at 1-7. I kept thinking that I’m seeing a team that’s practicing hard, I’m seeing a good attitude out there, nobody’s quitting, but where are the results? Where are the results? Then we started to win a little bit in the second half of the season and things started to look a little bit better. I just like the feeling we have in the locker room. I went to more team meetings than I ever had in the past. Players are so attentive and so tuned in to the message that’s coming from the head coach. It just seemed like we were on the right track. Now we just have to win some games to prove that we’re on the right track. We did a little bit better in the second half of the season. Then Daniel gets hurt, and I think that certainly hurt us a little bit. I think the fact that we did go 5-3 in the second half of the season gave me some reason for some optimism about what we have in the locker room. Obviously, we need to do better going forward.

    Q: How much did you factor in, you obviously would have probably felt differently I would assume if you were in another division. I think every other division winner won 11 games. Obviously, you were in the division race until the final week. How much did that kind of factor into your overall feeling for the team?

    A: It really didn’t. We were 6-10, we didn’t deserve to be in the playoffs at 6-10. We would have taken it, but we didn’t deserve to be there. I think the fact that we started to win some games in the second half of the season, and some of the younger guys that we brought in here were starting to play and show some talent. It was really the overall feeling that we’re making progress as opposed to whether we were playing meaningful games or not. We were playing meaningful games because our division is what it is. But I think it was more of a factor our younger players and some of our new players we brought in here were showing why we either took them in free agency or picked them in the draft. I think our talent level finally started to show itself a little bit. Now we’re far from a finished product. There are a lot more pieces that we need here. But I think we’re in much better shape now than we were a year ago.

    Q: Just to keep on the topic of Dave, a year ago when you said his batting average had to improve, it was viewed as if it didn’t, you would consider a change. I know you just said you want to see another significant step forward. Is Dave’s status still essentially year to year, or have you seen enough now where you’re thinking more long-term with him?

    A: Everything in this business is year to year. I’m not going to speculate on that. I think his batting average certainly improved this year. Our personnel decisions I thought were very sound this year and gives us some reason for optimism going forward. I’m not going to get into contractual situations with either staff people or players at this point.

    Q: Given his age and obviously retirement is coming at some point with him, is there any internal succession plan under consideration or is that something you just put off until he actually does retire?

    A: Listen, you’re always thinking about things like that. But there’s nothing that I’d want to comment on publicly at this point.

    Q: Obviously, the defense had a pretty good season. But the offense finished 31st in scoring, 31st in yardage. I think it was the highest scoring year in NFL history. How do you feel about where the team is at in terms of that, being kind of behind the curve when it comes to being able to compete with teams?

    A: I think we certainly need to help our offense a little bit this offseason, be it free agency and the draft. I think we need some more pieces there. Part of the problem that we had is we had a brand new offensive line with new guys playing new positions, they had never played together before, we had no offseason, we had no preseason games for them to get to know each other and get the feel for playing with one another, and they struggled, particularly early in the year, no question about it. I thought they started to play better in the second half of the season. But there’s no question that we need to help our offense going forward and add some more pieces. That will be a priority for us.

    Q: You asked fans to be patient again after missing the playoffs three years in a row under Dave Gettleman. It seems like even dating back to 2018, some of those decisions were short-sided decisions, and some of the decisions that were made in the draft, you only have three players left each in 2019. How do you ask fans to be patient when (audio cut out)?

    A: (Jokingly) The sound went out about halfway through that question and I had nothing to do with that. I’ll try to answer. The first part of the question was how do I ask fans to be patient. I feel like that’s the only thing I can ask them to do right now. I feel like we’re making progress. I think that given the fan mail that I’ve received, which tends to peak during the losing streak and then after we win a couple of games, it tends to die down. I think most of our fans believe we’re making progress. There are always going to be fans that are going to be critical, and rightfully so. I do believe we’re making progress. I am going to ask them to be patient again. I know it’s a tough ask, I know they’re tired of me saying that. But I am sincere in the belief that we are making progress here.

    Q: What was it like for you to watch your team play 14 full games without Saquon (Barkley)? How do you look at decisions that are going to have to be made in the relative near future, not immediately perhaps but in the relative near future, about his tenure with the organization?

    A: It was brutal to watch him go down in Week 2. He’s such an important part of this team, not only for what he does on the field but the leadership and all of the intangibles he brings to us off the field. That was really a gut-punch. Listen, I’m still happy that we have him. I think knowing him, he’s going to come back stronger than ever and be a big part of this team next year. In terms of what the time table is, it’s hard to predict that right now. I know our medical people are very pleased with the progress he’s made. I certainly expect him to be a Giant for a very long time.

    Q: This year with no fans and everything, how much of a hit did the Giants take as an organization, and how much did the league take?

    A: Well, it was a huge financial hit for us this year, no question about it. We did suffer some pretty significant financial losses, but it’s not going to affect our ability to be active in free agency or to do what we have to do to improve the team. Hopefully this is a one year thing and we’ll be able to have fans back in the building next season. I don’t think there’s any guarantee about that, but we’re optimistic that particularly as these vaccines get rolled out, people will start to feel comfortable about coming back into the building again. That would be a big boost to our players, I know that, being able to play in front of fans again.

    Q: Is there any way you have to reach out to get more money, or is that not a problem at this point?

    A: We’ll be ok. We’re not ready to put a padlock on the door just yet. I think we’ll survive just fine. It’s been a tough year from that point of view. But listen, there are people all over this country that are suffering. I’m not out here complaining or anything. We’ll be fine as an organization going forward.

    DAVE GETTLEMAN ADDRESSES THE MEDIA…
    New York Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman addressed the media on Wednesday (video):

    Opening Statement: Good morning everybody. I hope everyone’s holiday season was joyful and that your families are all safe and healthy. I want to take this time to thank all the people who made the 2020 NFL season happen. There’s so many people behind the scenes whose tireless efforts, the players, the coaches, football ops folks, enabling us to get this done. First, I want to thank ownership for allowing us to do what was financially necessary to allow us to operate as close to the norm as possible. Given a new head coach and some of the situations that other people had. We were able to go over to MetLife (Stadium) and have as normal a training camp as we could. I can’t thank ownership enough for that. Specifically, in our building, I want to thank Christine Procops, Bill Heller, Justin Warren, Victor McLoughlin, Jerry Meade, Kevin Abrams and of course Ronnie Barnes. Their efforts enabled our season to happen as close to normal, whatever that is now, as possible. We owe them all a debt of gratitude. Our football team made quality strides from beginning to end. We certainly have areas to improve upon. Joe (Judge) and his staff had a very productive year. Now as we enter our roster building season, we have full realization there is more work to do.

    Q: We just got off with John (Mara) obviously and he kind of echoed some of your sentiments, but also pointed to 2018 which was obviously your first year as General Manager. He said as an organization you guys have acknowledged some miscalculations that you guys made. Have those miscalculations set you up for success now because of what you learned from what you did back then? Do you feel confident that the lessons learned in the last couple years have put you guys in a position to succeed?

    A: I’ll tell you this, we’re always learning. The short answer to your question is yes. You’re always going to learn. I go over every final decision we make. I review it in my head over and over again, good or bad, oh by the way. I review it over and over again because you certainly don’t want to repeat mistakes. You do that and you have to be honest with yourself. You have to debrief, and you have to be brutally honest with yourself. As I’ve already admitted, ‘18 was not a stellar year, personnel-wise. We’ve learned from our mistakes. Our processes are better. I think this past year showed the fruits of that, both in free agency and in the draft. I really believe strongly we’ll continue in that way.

    Q: Can you be specific about the things you saw in Joe Judge this year? What was your reaction to his reaction to what went down in Philly on the last night of the year?

    A: The bottom line is, with Joe, is his big picture view and then the follow up on the attention to detail. That’s what’s really critical. He starts at A and gets to Z. That is huge, that is really huge. Obviously, he is a very bright guy. That’s what really sticks out in my mind. Just the big picture and the attention to detail. No detail is too small, the old saying, ‘the devil is in the details’. He and his staff, he is really tuned into that. As far as what he said the other day, he said what he said. At the end of the day, it is what it is. Obviously, it’s about playing 60 minutes. It’s about giving the fans their money’s worth. It’s really how you live your life. He said what he said and it’s time to move on.

    Q: What does Dave Gettleman – almost 70 – how long do you want to stick around for?

    A: It really is dependent upon the Lord how long I stick around for. We’re all day to day, by the way, in case anybody missed that point. I feel fine, I feel good, I’m excited. I just want to keep going. I don’t know where this retirement stuff came from. I have no idea what that’s all about. There are probably some people that… at the end of the day, I feel great. So, let’s keep going.

    Q: Do you feel like you have the ability to keep your defensive line intact or will you have to make a decision on one or the other there?

    A: The toughest thing for us right now frankly is we don’t know what the cap number is going to look like. That’s a problem. We’re not going to know for a while. That’s going to dictate obviously how you operate. We’ve got cap space, we’ve got room. You never have as much room as you want to have. We’ve got cap space, we’ve got room to do the things we feel like we need to do initially. A lot of it is going to be about the drop it’s going to take. How far of a plunge is it going to take? We don’t know. They’re talking 175, who knows. We’ll plan and then once we know the number, we’ll get moving.

    Q: Your team had one win against a team with a winning record this year and was outscored 73-26 during a three-game losing streak in December. I guess for fans who aren’t seeing what you call quality strides, where would you say the quality strides are?

    A: Well I think first of all the culture piece. I know it’s talked about but it’s important. You have to learn how to win, you have to know how to win and we’ve made progress there. The locker room is terrific. We’ve got great leadership. We’ve got a young club, a new young team. I understand that. At the end of the day, this is an important offseason, roster building offseason for us. We’ve got some solid pieces. We’ve built up the lines. We’ve done some things. We have to continue to get good players and part of it is getting playmakers, because that’s what you’re referring to. This is a goal of ours obviously for the offseason.

    Q: I was going to ask you about the playmakers but you kind of addressed that a little bit. Let me you ask about Daniel (Jones). Where do you see him two years into his tenure as Giants quarterback?

    A: Obviously, he flashed last year. He had some big games and played well. Then he had games that weren’t so great. This year, early in the season he was struggling with his ball protection. We all know that. The second half of the year unfortunately he had that blip with the hamstring. He finished the season very strong. He played well against Baltimore despite getting chased all over the place to a degree. Made some big-time throws. Really and truly, it may sound trite, but obviously the last game of the year was a playoff game for us. It really was. We have to win that game to force Washington to win their game. Daniel played very well. He made a couple of big-time throws. Protected the ball for the most part. The one pick was off of Evan’s (Engram) hands. He’s done a lot of really good stuff. He’s made of the right stuff mentally and physically. Again, we’re talking about a young quarterback who has had two different offensive coordinators in the NFL. Two different systems. Obviously, he had a different one at Duke so he got three different systems in three years. I thought he got beyond the hamstring the last two games and he played well. We have complete confidence in him moving forward.

    Q: You mentioned you feel good and you want to continue but I have to ask you about the conditions that the pandemic brought on. Obviously, your job changed or how you did the job I should say. I’m wondering how did that affect your energy and have you thought about that moving forward?

    A: For everybody, I don’t care if you’re a football GM or you’re a carpenter or whatever. This pandemic is a load. It is a flat load. It makes everything an event. You have to consider everything. You have to consider going to the grocery store. You have to consider just everything, absolutely everything. Everything is an event. It takes energy from everybody. It took energy from you guys. There were days you’re looking at four walls. You can’t come to practice, you can’t do this, you can’t do that. It puts a mental load on you. I feel good, I feel strong. I had my 24-month review with my lymphoma doctor. He says you’re as healthy as a horse. Let’s just keep moving, so I’m ready to rock.

    Q: Two-part question, number one, thanks for doing this. When you mentioned Daniel a few minutes ago, the idea of three offensive coordinators in three years and the potential teams asking to talk to Jason (Garrett) that you might have to go to a fourth, how does that affect the evaluation process? Also, with hindsight being 20/20, when you look back at how the injury was handled, would things have been better served if you had held back another week and maybe not played him against Arizona?

    A: You can always look at everything – in hindsight, you can reevaluate everything and take a look at it. We felt good about it. We felt that he could protect himself and that he could do the things he needed to do and that’s why he played against Arizona. I really understand what you’re saying, but we felt strong. Obviously, we had the conversation with Ronnie (Barnes) and his staff and we felt good about it. During that week of practice, he moved around pretty darn good. Being as it may, we’re fine with that decision. He didn’t do any more damage. It is what it is. As far as the potential of Jason leaving, of course it makes you a little antsy. Just imagine, anybody, any of you guys, having your fourth editor in four years. It’s the same thing. It’s no different. We’ll adjust and adapt and do what we have to do and obviously anything we do moving forward, Daniel is a big part of it. We’re certainly conscious of that piece, to answer your question.

    Q: I know you’re a trenches guy and the game is won upfront and you like defense, but the team just didn’t score enough points. It’s obvious. 20, 17 points a game just can’t win in the NFL. What do you say to address that? How much of it is you having to study everything that happens on offense. I know there was no Saquon (Barkley), the offensive line and everything, do you look at everything and say we need to find better players to score more points coming up?

    A: You can never have too many good players. Bottom line. That’s a stock answer that every GM is going to tell you. At the end of the day, we need to find playmakers. That’s all there is to it. I’m not sugar coating it. If you talk about philosophically doing roster building, it’s the Q (quarterback), it’s the big men allow you to compete. On offense, it’s play makers. We have to be very conscious of it. We’re going to find the right guys to help Daniel get us over that hump.

    Q: I have a big picture question for you. Obviously, there is a lot of talk of progress today, but how disappointing is it for you that after year three, you guys haven’t topped six wins and you only needed to get seven to make playoffs this year?

    A: Of course, it’s disappointing. It’s disappointing not just for me personally, but I’m disappointed for the organization. I’m disappointed for the players and the fans. Sure, it’s disappointing. Listen, last time I double checked, it’s about winning. I’m very disappointed. I guess the best thing I can say is – John said in 2018 we didn’t have a stellar year, didn’t have a stellar roster building season, it’s affected us. We’re on the right track right now. We’ve done some really good stuff the last two years. We’re going to fix this. We are going to fix this.

    Q: You’re going to enjoy this question because it’s worded a lot differently than it would have been last year. Leonard Williams, the season he had – do you almost wish you had gotten something done with him last year rather than giving him the franchise tag because it certainly seems like the price went up this year?

    A: It doesn’t make a difference – you’re killing me either way. At the end of the day, I’m not going to discuss contracts, negotiations, did we do anything last year or did we not? No, the bottom line is we are where we are. Leonard deserves a lot of credit for how he prepared this year. Sean Spencer working with him as the D-line coach, the scheme that Pat (Graham) had for him, you know? As I said to you guys, before, he was a – I don’t even remember when he was taken, he was a top five pick – number two or four or something like that. There was a reason that happened, you know what I’m saying? Leonard did a great job. He did a great job of working his fanny off. Again, the atmosphere for our players – one of hard work, you can have fun, you can enjoy yourself and Leonard did a heck of a job and his position coach, Sean Spencer, Pat Graham and Joe. The bottom line is he thrived in our atmosphere. I’m ecstatic. It’s like I tell players all the time, ‘I only want you to be successful and I want you to make me cry when it comes to negotiations’.

    Q: I know you just said that, ‘We’re going to fix this,’ but fans are saying in three years, we’re at 15 wins. How much does it have to be now? At what point do the wins have to come?

    A: Obviously, they have to come soon. The idea is to win. Like I said, a lot of things have happened. We’re definitely on the right track. I’d like to believe finishing – starting at the 1-7- we finished 6-10. We finished 5-3 over the last eight games. There are a lot arrows pointing up for us. We’ll have a good season, a good roster building season right now and we’ll feel a lot better. We’re getting there.

    Q: Your top priority when you came, well at least one of them, was to rebuild the offensive line. I’m curious after three years, where are you in your estimation with that rebuild of the offensive line?

    A: We’ve got some really nice, young pieces. Nick Gates stepped in there. He’d never played offensive center before. We drafted Will (Hernandez) and Shane Lemieux. You have (Kevin) Zeitler and Andrew Thomas who acquitted himself very well when he had that rough patch and then he got himself rolling again. I think this offensive line can compete. You can cherry pick here, cherry pick there, in terms of which game you want to pick and how the offense did. The offensive line showed very good progress. They’re big, they’re young, they’re strong and they’re tough and smart. This O-Line has a chance to be pretty damn good.

    Q: You know a thing or two about evaluating talent. How would you evaluate the job you did this year as GM?

    A: I don’t want to evaluate myself. We made some really solid progress. I know everyone is tired of hearing it. Joe and I worked together very well and it was thrill. It was fun. He’s collaborative, communicative, we’re on the same page. As John said, we don’t agree on everything, but if we’d agree on everything, as John said, he doesn’t need both of us. The bottom line is that we had a good solid year. We hit on free agency. We hit on draft picks as of right now. Again, I always say that you know about a draft three years later. You can really quantify and evaluate on what you’ve done. We had a lot of those young kids step in and help us and show us that they’re legitimate NFL players. They have legitimate NFL talent as long as they continue to blossom and improve and progress. So anyhow, for what that’s worth, what we’ve done here in the three years that we’ve been here, is about sustained success. That’s what it’s about.

    Q: You and John had both made several references to 2018 as a mistake. It seems like you’re calling 2019 in the draft and free agency a success. I was wondering if you actually feel that way? What do you think in 2019 were the team moves that set you up so well for this year?

    A: You have the quarterback. You have Dexter Lawrence. There’s a start. Obviously, we had no clue that Deandre (Baker) could get in that kind of issue. It’s just a constant build and a constant blend and we feel like the last three years have been solid personnel-wise.

    Q: Do you look at the last couple drafts at quarterback for example, there are guys like Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert who look excellent and score a lot of points. Then this year, at offensive tackle, Andrew had a rough patch, whereas, some people would say some of the other guys played a little bit better. I was wondering if you look at not taking several players at those two positions and looking at what you have. Do you reconsider whether you made the right choice?

    A: You guys are going to call me doubling down, I’m very happy with what we’ve done with Daniel and Andrew Thomas. I’m not even going to blink.

    Q: You mentioned off the top, a lot of people top be thankful for that you guys have reached this point in the season because there was a lot of uncontrollable factors. Did you scale back any of the expectations this year because a pandemic was happening? This was the first year of no preseason game etc.

    A: No, not really. This was a crazy year obviously. Like I said at the top, ownership financially supported us. We were one of the few teams in the league that was able to work out of a stadium and be socially distanced properly, have the locker room space, everything that we did over there. It allowed us to have as close to a normal preseason as you could have. Not having the preseason games obviously hurt, it hurt everybody. Our situation wasn’t any different than anybody else. Nobody had preseason. When you have a really young team, that creates issues when you’re trying to figure out what you have. Not having the preseason games was difficult. At that point in time, everybody is trying to negotiate the protocols. Things were changing constantly. I just thought ownership gave us the ability to do some things and it was really important that we do that for Joe and the staff. We came back from Indianapolis last year, the first week in March. Ronnie Barnes came to me three times and said, ‘Dave this is going to be really bad, really bad’. By then it was I believe in Italy, it hit there. Ronnie told me, Ronnie said, ‘Dave this is going to be bad’. I walked down the hall to (Director of College Scouting) Chris Pettit and I said, ‘Chris get ready for us to draft remotely. Get ready for our meetings’. I walked down to Joe and I said, ‘Joe you’re not going to see your players until August, I’m telling you. That’s what we have to plan for’. Thank God for Ronnie for having that foresight. I felt like we were ahead of the curve with a lot of the things we did in terms of how we were set up for training camp and how we were set up when got back here. That’s where Victor McLoughlin, our buildings guy, and Justin Warren, our IT guy, just did an unbelievable job. Getting us set up to be able to do things remotely and be spaced out and all the other stuff. We actually had setups for all the coaches that we installed in their homes so if something happened, they could work remotely. That paid off for us. There’s a lot of things that people behind the scenes warned us about and we heeded their warnings and it enabled us to do what we did. No, we didn’t scale back any expectations.

    Q: You talked about how the salary cap may hit one of those air pockets. I’m just wondering how creative will you have to be in maybe reworking contracts? Making do with what you have, and have you talked to guys like Nate Solder and things like that and figure out what’s his status going to be next year?

    A: We haven’t started that. I haven’t had that conversation with Nate. The season just ended Sunday here and it’s Wednesday. The bottom line is until we have a good idea of what the number is, what the number is going to be, we’ll plan as best we can. Obviously, we know who our UFA’s (unrestricted free agents) are. We’ll get moving and we’re going to have to make some decisions on a number of players. That piece is going to be interesting to work with and work through. We’re going to make the best decisions we can for the New York Football Giants and for our fans.

    THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
    Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

    • LT Andrew Thomas (Video)
    • LB Blake Martinez (Video)
    • CB James Bradberry (Video)
    • CB/S Julian Love (Video)
    • S Xavier McKinney (Video)
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    Dave Gettleman, New York Giants (September 3, 2020)

    Dave Gettleman – © USA TODAY Sports

    NEW YORK GIANTS RETAIN DAVE GETTLEMAN…
    The New York Post is reporting that the New York Giants have decided to retain the services of General Manager Dave Gettleman, despite the team’s 15-33 record under his leadership since he was hired three years ago. Gettleman turns 70 in February.

    According to The Post, “ownership believes the team is headed in the right direction and Gettleman is the right man to continue the building process alongside head coach Joe Judge.”

    TEAMS INTERESTED IN PATRICK GRAHAM AND JASON GARRETT…
    The NFL Network is reporting that the New York Jets are interested in interviewing New York Giants Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham for their head coaching vacancy. The NFL Network is also reporting that Los Angeles Chargers are also interested in interview Giants Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett for their head-coaching vacancy.

    Sep 022020
     
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    Jon Halapio, New York Giants (September 22, 2019)

    Jon Halapio – © USA TODAY Sports

    SEPTEMBER 2, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP MEDIA PRACTICE NOTES…
    Some snippets from various media and team sources:

    • Giants had a light, half-speed practice today in preparation for Thursday’s afternoon scrimmage. It appears much of the emphasis was on situational and game-ending scenarios.

    INJURY REPORT…
    Safety Xavier McKinney (left foot fracture), linebacker David Mayo (torn meniscus in left knee), wide receiver Golden Tate (hamstring?), and linebacker Tae Crowder (unknown) did not practice.

    ROSTER MOVES – GIANTS RE-SIGN JON HALAPIO…
    The New York Giants have re-signed Jon Halapio, who the team chose not to tender as a restricted free agent before free agency began, effectively making him an unrestricted free agent. The team also signed wide receiver Johnny Holton and long snapper Carson Tinker. To make room for these players, the Giants waived/injured safety Jaquarius Landrews (neck) and tight end Rysen John (hamstring), and waived offensive lineman Jackson Dennis.

    Head Coach Joe Judge said bringing back Halapio was not an indication that the team is unhappy with their current centers. “Absolutely not,” said Judge. “It’s just an opportunity for us to add another good player to the roster. It gives us some depth and versatility inside. Jon’s a guy who can play center, but he can play guard as well. Again, it’s about position flexibility inside. You can only keep so many guys on the roster. The more players you keep inside that can play multiple positions, it gives you strength as a team right there. So no, that’s no indication on anything we feel about our current players on our roster. I have a lot of confidence in Nick (Gates) and Spencer (Pulley) and Tyler (Haycraft). They’ve done a really good job. Shane’s (Lemieux) coming along. We’re working on developing him in time. He’s been playing a lot more at guard due to our current situation, but he’s working as a center as well. We’re developing all of our guys the best we can at multiple positions.”

    Halapio was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He has bounced around different leagues and teams including the Patriots (2014), Boston Brawlers (2014), Denver Broncos (2014–2015), Arizona Cardinals (2015), Brooklyn Bolts (2015), and Patriots (2016) again. The Giants signed Halapio to their Practice Squad in 2016 and 2017. The Giants then added him to the 53-man roster in October 2017 and he played in 10 games, starting the last six at right guard. Halapio won the starting center job in 2018, but was lost early when he was placed on Injured Reserve in September 2018 after breaking his ankle and lower leg in the second game of the season. An underwhelming and disappointing season by Halapio in 2019 was unfortunately punctuated by him suffering a torn Achilles’ tendon in the final moments of the season finale. In all, Halapio started 15 games, missing one start with a hamstring injury. He struggled as both a run and pass blocker manning the pivot position.

    The 29-year old, 6’3”, 190-pound Holton was originally signed by the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Raiders (2016-2018), Philadelphia Eagles (2019), and Pittsburgh Steelers (2019). The Steelers cut Holton in March 2020. In four seasons, Holton has played in 48 regular-season games with four starts, accruing just 14 receptions for 273 yards and three touchdowns. He does have limited experience as a kickoff and punt returner and is a good gunner on special teams.

    The 30-year old, 6’0”, 237-pound Tinker was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars after the 2013 NFL Draft. He played in 69 regular-season games for the Jaguars from 2013-2018. The Jaguars cut him in March 2019 and he did not play that year.

    Landrews and John were signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft. Dennis was signed by the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft. The Cardinals cut him in July and the Giants signed him in August.

    GENERAL MANAGER DAVE GETTLEMAN…
    The transcript of Dave Gettleman’s press conference on Wednesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available on YouTube.

    HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
    The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Wednesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available on YouTube.

    THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
    Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and on Giants.com:

    WHAT’S UP NEXT…
    New York Giants President/CEO John Mara will address the press on Thursday morning. The Giants hold their second scrimmage at MetLife Stadium at 1:00PM with Head Coach Joe Judge and select players addressing the media after the scrimmage.