AUGUST 3, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT… The New York Giants held their sixth full-team summer training camp practice on Tuesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Practices are not open to the public this year.
GIANTS PLACE DERRICK DILLION ON IR; TODD DAVIS RETIRES…
The Giants have placed WR Derrick Dillon on Injured Reserve with an undisclosed injury. In addition, LB Todd Davis, who the team signed on Saturday, has retired from the NFL.
The 5’11”, 185-pound Dillon was signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft. He spent much of the season on the team’s Practice Squad, but was cut in early December. The Giants signed Dillon to a future/reserve contract in January 2021.
The Giants signed Davis as an unrestricted free agent from the Minnesota Vikings. The 6’1”, 230-pound Davis has spent time with the New Orleans Saints (2014), Denver Broncos (2014-2019), and Minnesota Vikings (2020). He has played in 96 regular-season games with 69 starts, accruing 479 tackles, three sacks, 15 pass defenses, one interception, one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries.
LG Shane Lemieux (knee), LB Lorenzo Carter (unknown), LB Elerson Smith (unknown), WR Austin Mack (hamstring), and RB Mike Weber (unknown) did not practice on Tuesday.
LB Blake Martinez SJoshua Kalu were officially activated off of the Reserve/COVID-19 List. Both returned to practice.
WR Kadarius Toney (COVID) returned to practice, but only practiced on a limited basis.
WR Kenny Golladay left practice early with a possible strained hamstring and/or hand injury.
The following players remain on various PUP and reserve lists:
Reserve/COVID-19 List: TERysen John
Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List: RB Saquon Barkley (knee), TE Kyle Rudolph (foot), LB Oshane Ximines (hamstring), and CB Aaron Robinson(core muscle)
Reserve/Non-Football Injury (NFI) List: LBReggie Ragland (hamstring) and LB Ryan Anderson(back)
Reserve/Injured: WR Derrick Dillon (unknown)
PRACTICE NOTES… Some snippets from various media sources:
Giants practiced in full pads for the first time this year.
WR C.J. Board badly faked out CB Isaac Yiadom in 1-on-1 drills.
CB Quincy Wilson intercepted a pass in 1-on-1 drills against WR Darius Slayton.
RB Devontae Booker fumbled the first handoff.
QB Daniel Jones threw a fade into the end zone to WR David Sills for a touchdown against CB Adoree’ Jackson.
QB Daniel Jones scrambled and threw a touchdown pass to WR Sterling Shepard, who made a nice catch while falling down.
During one red zone drill period, QB Daniel Jones threw three touchdown passes and ran for a touchdown.
WRs C.J. Board and David Sills caught back-to-back touchdown passes from QB Mike Glennon against CB Sam Beal. Sills, who is having a strong camp, ended up with two touchdowns in 11-on-11 drills. Board is also off to a strong start.
WR Sterling Shepard routinely gave defensive backs issues in 1-on-1 coverage situations.
TE Evan Engram stood out in blocking drills.
QB Daniel Jones, under pressure, scrambled to his right and completed a pass down the field to TE Evan Engram.
QB Daniel Jones was 4-of-4 in 7-on-7 drills and 7-of-7 in the full-team period. QB Mike Glennon was 3-of-3 in 7-on-7 drills and 4-of-4 in the full-team period.
WR Kadarius Toney returned punts along with S Jabrill Peppers, CB Adoree’ Jackson, WR Sterling Shepard, WR Darius Slayton, and WR Dante Pettis.
Tempers flared after a hit on RB Corey Clement by S Xavier McKinney. TE Evan Engram shoved McKinney to the ground and S Logan Ryan hit Engram in the back. A team melee ensued. QB Daniel Jones ended up on the bottom of the pile. Head Coach Joe Judge was livid and had the entire team repeatedly run sprints for about 15 minutes and do push-ups. Judge spent the remainder of the practice screaming expletives at the team. At the end of practice, Judge sent the rest of the coaches away and addressed the entire team by himself.
HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
Thetranscriptof Joe Judge’s press conference on Tuesday is available inThe Corner Forumwhile thevideois available atGiants.com.
THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available inThe Corner Forumand atGiants.com:
On Wednesday, New York Giants rookies reported early to summer training camp at the team’s facilities in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Quarterbacks, first-year players, and rehabbing injured players reported on Thursday. The bulk of the team reports next Tuesday with the first summer training camp practice being held on Wednesday.
With the first practice fast approaching, the Giants made 10 roster transactions on Thursday:
WR Kadarius Toney was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List. Toney is currently in COVID protocols and participating in team meetings remotely.
RB Saquon Barkley (knee), TE Kyle Rudolph (foot), RT Matt Peart (back), OC Jonotthan Harrison (hamstring), LB Oshane Ximines (hamstring), and CB Aaron Robinson (core muscle) were placed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List. Players on the Active/PUP list can be activated at any time during training camp. If they are still on the list at the final roster cutdown to 53, they must either be activated or moved to the Reserve/PUP list. Players on the Reserve/PUP list must be inactive for the first six weeks of the season.
LB Ryan Anderson (back) and RB Sandro Platzgummer (hamstring) were placed on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury (NFI) List. They can can return to practice when they are medically cleared.
RB Taquan Mizzell (hamstring) was placed on Injured Reserve.
New Head Coach Joe Judge was hired by the New York Giants in early January 2020. After an atypically long vetting process, the team announced its complete staff a month later in early February. The extremely well-organized new head coach was all set to initiate his program to turn the franchise around. Then disaster struck. COVID-19 forced the league to shut down in the spring and much of the summer. The challenges for a new head coach trying to rebuild most of the roster seemed almost insurmountable.
Probably the position most affected by these developments was the offensive line. The Giants entered 2020 knowing they would have to have new starters at center and at least one of the tackle spots. That quickly became three starters when left tackle Nate Solder decided to sit out 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns. Right tackle Mike Remmers had already signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. The only free agent addition was journeyman swing tackle Cam Fleming. It was obvious that most of the help would have to come from the draft, where the Giants selected Andrew Thomas in the 1st round, Matt Peart in the 3rd round, and Shane Lemieux in the 5th round. Despite those additions, there was still a glaring hole at center, with no obvious candidate to start other than the disappointing Spencer Pulley and talk of possible conversion projects.
With the desperate need to sort all of this out, Joe Judge was being told he could have no mini-camps, no Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices, a dramatically scaled back training camp, and no preseason. Teams were told they could only hold 14 padded practices before the season. 14 practices to get rookie Andrew Thomas ready at left tackle. 14 practices to find and name a starting center. 14 practices to figure out who to start at right tackle. 14 practices to build cohesion and chemistry for a group largely unfamiliar with each other.
The early returns were predictable. The line struggled. Converted guard/tackle Nick Gates was moved to center, a position that he had never played, and he had a rough start. Andrew Thomas did not look like the 4th player taken in the draft and fans began to question the pick, arguing the team drafted the wrong lineman. There was no time for Matt Peart to seriously challenge Cam Fleming for the right tackle job, and Fleming continued to demonstrate he really wasn’t an ideal starter. All of this was made worse by the fact that the two guys who the team needed to rely on, guards Kevin Zeitler and Will Hernandez, were once again not playing as well as expected.
Saquon Barkley was lost in Week 2 and the Giants had no ground game early in the season outside of Daniel Jones running for his life. No Giant had more than 30 yards rushing in the first two games and no Giant had more than 50 yards rushing in the first four games. Jones was the team’s leading rusher in four of the first seven games of the season. Jones was also getting sacked early and often, something that never really totally abated as he was sacked 45 times and NYG quarterbacks sacked 50 times on the season (or over three per game).
Despite all of this negativity and an 0-5 start, something began to change in October. A hodgepodge group of backs and Jones began to hurt teams on the ground as the offensive line began playing better. In eight of their next nine games, the Giants ran for over 100 yards or more. In seven of these games, they ran for over 130 yards or more. The high point was a 190-yard rushing effort against the Seattle Seahawks on December 6th. The line appeared to be developing into a physical, smash-mouth unit almost overnight.
Why? First, Nick Gates made a miraculous transformation from an undrafted tackle to a big, feisty, physical presence at center. In just a few games, he clearly became the team’s best offensive lineman. Second, Andrew Thomas settled down and started playing much, much better. Third, the Giants replaced Will Hernandez with Shane Lemieux at left guard, and while that created some pass protection issues, Lemieux’s presence seemed to be an upgrade in the run-blocking department. Finally, Kevin Zeitler started to play better. Matt Peart did receive increased playing time, receiving significant snaps in half of the games, but right tackle remained a bit of a sore spot with Cam Fleming.
In mid-November, Joe Judge surprisingly fired Offensive Line Coach Marc Colombo, bringing onboard outsider Dave DeGuglielmo, who ironically had served under Tom Coughlin from 2004 to 2008. DeGuglielmo would later miss the last week of the season due to COVID-19.
The line struggled in three-game stretch in December before finishing strong in the season finale against Dallas. In those three games, New York never rushed for more than 80 yards and Giants’ quarterbacks were sacked 13 times. Nevertheless, the overall impression was despite all of COVID-19-related handicaps, the Giants actually finally made progress in rebuilding the offensive line in 2020. There appears to be a young, talented foundation to work with.
Despite having no prior experience at playing the position, and after a rough start, Nick Gates not only solidified the center position for the Giants but rapidly became the team’s best lineman. Gates started all 16 games at center. He was flagged with five penalties (two holding, one false start, one unnecessary roughness, and one illegal block). The Giants signed Gates as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. He missed all of 2018 with a foot injury that caused him to be placed on Injured Reserve before the season started. In 2019, Gates was active for all 16 games with three starts (two starts at right tackle and one start at right guard). Gates is a versatile player, able to play tackle, guard, and center. He has good size and brings toughness and attitude to the offensive line. Gates is a solid pass and run blocker.
The Giants draftedAndrew Thomasin the 1st round of the 2020 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Thomas started 15 games at left tackle despite playing on a left ankle injury that required offseason surgery in January 2021. Thomas was benched for the start of one game for being late to a team meeting. In terms of his overall play, Thomas struggled early, but markedly improved as both a pass and run blocker as the year progressed. He was flagged with five penalties (three false start and two holding penalties) on the season. Thomas has a big frame (6’5”, 315lbs) and long arms. He is a strong, physical run blocker who can get movement at the point-of-attack. He is athletic enough to get to the second level and works to finish his blocks. Thomas is a good athlete and he flashes excellent pass protection skills, but he needs to improve his overall technique and consistency in that department.
The Giants signedCam Flemingas an unrestricted free agent from the Dallas Cowboys in March 2020. He ended up starting all 16 games at right tackle, by far the most in his career in a single season. But Fleming was arguably the weak link up front, regularly missing blocks. Fleming was also credited with four false starts and two holding penalties. The 6’5”, 320-pound Fleming was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. After four years in New England, he played two seasons with the Cowboys. In seven NFL seasons, Fleming has played in 91 regular-season games with 42 starts. Fleming is versatile lineman who can play both tackle spots. He has good size. However, Fleming seems better suited to a reserve, swing-tackle type role than starter.
While the overall play ofKevin Zeitlerimproved in his second season with the Giants, he still did not meet expectations in 2020. Zeitler started all 16 games at right guard. He was flagged four times on the year (one holding, three false starts). Zeitler was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He signed a 5-year, $60 million contract with the Browns in March 2017, which at the time made him the highest-paid guard in the NFL. The Giants acquired Zeitler by trade from the Cleveland Browns in March 2019 in exchange for linebacker Olivier Vernon. In eight seasons, Zeitler has started 134 of the 135 regular-season games he has played in. Zeitler has good size (6’4”, 315lbs). Once regarded as one of the best guards in the game as both a run and pass blocker, Zeitler’s play in recent years has been more inconsistent. Nevertheless, he is still a solid, steady, veteran presence up front.
The Giants draftedShane Lemieuxin the 5th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He surprisingly ended up playing in 12 games with nine starts starts at left guard, stealing Will Hernandez’s position. He was only flagged once (false start) all year. The 6’4”, 310-pound Lemieux started an incredible 52 games in college, never missing a game. He is a tough, feisty, blue-collar lineman with some athletic limitations. Lemieux needs to get stronger, but he is a physical presence in the ground game with a feel for blocking angles. He struggled at times as a pass protector.
After starting every game in his first two years in the league in 2018 and 2019,Will Hernandezlost his starting left guard job to Shane Lemieux after the seventh game of the season. Hernandez missed two games in early November due to COVID-19. He was flagged only once (one holding penalty) all year. The Giants selected Hernandez in the 2nd round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He was named named toPro Football Writers of America’sAll-Rookie Team. Hernandez has good size, strength, and toughness for the guard position, but he appears to lack ideal lateral agility. This hampers his play as a run blocker on the move and as a pass blocker when isolated against quick defenders. He can move defenders with his strength and power.
The Giants selected Matt Peart in the 3rd round of the 2020 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Peart played in 11 games with one start at left tackle. He did play in 15 percent of all offensive snaps, receiving some quality playing time. He missed one game in late November due to COVID-19. The 6’7”, 318-pound Peart was a 4-year starter in college with experience at both tackle spots. Peart combines excellent size, long arms, and good overall athletic ability. He has the frame to get bigger and stronger. As expected, Peart was inconsistent as a rookie and needs more technique refinement.
Spencer Pulley spent all of 2020 as the team’s primary reserve center, but he did not play. Pulley was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the San Diego Chargers after the 2016 NFL Draft. Spencer started all 16 regular-season games for the Chargers in 2017 at center. The Giants claimed Pulley off of waivers from the Chargers in September 2018. That season, Pulley was inserted into the starting line-up in late October. He struggled in his nine starts at center and missed one game due to an injury. In 2019, Pulley played in four games with one start in which he again struggled. He also is able to play guard.
The Giants claimed Jackson Barton off of waivers from the Kansas City Chiefs in early September 2020. Despite remaining on the 53-man roster all season, Barton never played in 2020. The 6’7”, 302-pound Barton was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. The Chiefs signed him off of the Colts’ Practice Squad in 2019. He has yet to play in a regular-season NFL game.
The Giants signed Kyle Murphy as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft. He was signed to the Practice Squad in early September and then signed to the 53-man roster in mid November. Murphy did not play in a regular-season game in 2020. Murphy was a 3-year starter in college with experience all along the offensive line.
The 6’5”, 315-poundChad Sladewas originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Houston Texans after the 2015 NFL Draft. Slade spent his rookie season on Injured Reserve, and the 2016 and 2018 seasons on the Practice Squad of the Texans. In 2017, Slade played in five games with three starts (two at right guard and one at tight end) for the Texans. The Giants signed Slade to a reserve/futures contract in January 2019. While he surprisingly made the team, he wasn’t active for any game. Slade spent all of 2020 on New York’s Practice Squad.
The 6’6”, 315-poundKenny Wigginswas originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Baltimore Ravens after the 2011 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Ravens (2011), San Francisco 49ers (2012-2013), San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers (2013-2017), and Lions (2018-2020). The Lions cut Wiggins in late October 2020. The Giants signed Wiggins to the 53-man roster in November, cut him 10 days later, and then signed him to the Practice Squad for the remainder of the season. Overall, Wiggins has played in 79 regular-season games with 38 starts.
Nate Solder opted out of the 2020 NFL season due to the COVID-19 issue. In March 2018, the Giants made Solder the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL when they signed him away from the New England Patriots as unrestricted free agent. However, despite 32 straight starts at left tackle for New York, Solder has not played well at all with the Giants. He really struggled during the first half of 2018 before settling down a bit during the second half of the season. In 2019, his inconsistent play throughout the year both as a pass protector and run blocker was a significant factor in the team’s struggles. The 6’8”, 325-pound Solder was drafted in the 1st round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Patriots. In nine seasons, Solder has started 127 of the 130 regular-season games he has played in. He is a long, lean tackle with good overall athleticism. However, off-the-field issues with a sick child could understandably be affecting his focus and play.
NEW YORK GIANTS ROSTER MOVES…
The New York Giants have placed linebacker Kyler Fackrell on Injured Reserve with a calf injury that he suffered in Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Fackrell had played in all 11 games this year, with eight starts. He had accrued 30 tackles, three sacks, and one interception that he returned for a touchdown. Fackrell will have to miss at least three games before he is eligible to return to the 53-man roster.
Tight end Kaden Smith, offensive tackle Matt Peart, and wide receiver/return specialist Dante Pettis were activated off the Reserve/COVID-19 List. They are eligible to return to practice on Wednesday. All three were placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List on November 20th.
The Giants waived safety Montre Hartage and kicker/punter Ryan Santoso. Hartage has been on both the 53-man roster and Practice Squad this season, playing in one game. Santoso was signed last week off the Practice Squad as insurance in case place kicker Graham Gano was unavailable for the Cincinnati game. Gano was on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, but was activated Saturday.
Rookie free agents wide receiver Derrick Dillon and tight end Nate Wieting were terminated from the Practice Squad.
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 Tuesday is available at Giants.com:
Three more New York Giants have tested positive for COVID-19 and have been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. The players are offensive tackle Matt Peart, wide receiver Dante Pettis, and tight end Kaden Smith.
Place kicker Graham Gano tested positive for the disease and was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List on Tuesday. The Giants also placed punter Riley Dixon and long snapper Casey Kreiter on the reserve list on Wednesday, although it is not clear if those two players tested positive or were merely being quarantined as a precaution due to their proximity to Gano.
The Giants are currently on their bye week and will not play again until November 29th when they play the Bengals in Cincinnati. It is not known at this time if any of these players will be available to play in that game.
ALL OF NEW YORK GIANTS 2020 NFL DRAFT CLASS SIGNED…
The New York Giants announced late yesterday that all 10 of their 2020 NFL Draft picks have officially signed. This includes offensive tackle Andrew Thomas (1st round), safety Xavier McKinney (2nd round), offensive tackle Matt Peart (3rd round), cornerback Darnay Holmes (4th round), offensive guard Shane Lemieux (5th round), linebacker Cam Brown (6th round), linebacker Carter Coughlin (7th round), linebacker T.J. Brunson (7th round), defensive back Chris Williamson (7th round), and linebacker Tae Crowder (7th round).
ROSTER MOVES – GIANTS CLAIM CORNERBACK SHAKIAL TAYLOR…
The New York Giants have claimed defensive back Shakial Taylor off of waivers from the Denver Broncos. The 23-year old, 6’0”, 181-pound Taylor was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Indianapolis Colts after the 2019 NFL Draft. He was then claimed off of waivers by the Broncos in November 2019. Taylor played in five games and accrued seven tackles and one pass defense as a rookie.
The Giants have also waived undrafted rookie free agent cornerback Malcolm Elmore, who failed his physical due to a non-football injury.
Wide receiver David Sills was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, which means he either tested positive for the virus or came into contact with someone who did. While he remains on the list, Sill does not count against the team’s 90-man roster limit. The 6’3”, 211-pound Sills was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Buffalo Bills after the 2019 NFL Draft. The Giants signed Sills to the Practice Squad in September 2019 after he was cut by the Bills. The Giants then signed him to the 53-man roster in mid-December. He did not play in a game however.
Quarterback Alex Tanney was placed on the Non-Football Illness List with an undisclosed issue. He counts against the 90-man roster limit. The Giants signed Tanney in May 2018 after after he was cut by the Tennessee Titans. The 6’4”, 220-pound Tanney was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs after the 2012 NFL Draft. The well-traveled journeyman has spent time with the Chiefs (2012), Dallas Cowboys (2013), Cleveland Browns (2013), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014), Titans (2014), Buffalo Bills (2015), Indianapolis Colts (2015), and Titans again (2015–2018). He surprisingly won the back-up quarterback job to Eli Manning in 2018, but was moved to third-string in 2019, being active for only one game.
Linebacker Tae Crowder was placed on the Non-Football Injury List with an undisclosed issue. He counts against the 90-man roster limit. The Giants selected Crowder in the 7th round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
In other moves, the team officially announced that they have waived place kicker Aldrick Rosas. The signing of international player running back Sandro Platzgummer also became official.
GIANTS DECIDE TO GO SPLIT-SQUAD ROUTE…
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, NFL teams had to decide whether they wanted to reduce their training camp rosters on July 28 or August 16. The Giants have chosen the latter. But in doing so, the team must be split into (1) veteran and (2) rookies/first-year players/rehabbing players/select quarterbacks contingents until August 16. Teams will be allowed to begin practicing on August 17.
NEW YORK GIANTS VETERANS REPORTS TO CAMP…
As scheduled, the bulk of New York Giants players reported to training camp in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Tuesday. Quarterbacks, rookies, and rehabbing players reported on July 23.
Actual practices are not expected to be held until mid-August due to COVID-19 restrictions. All preseason games have been canceled. The Giants’ regular-season Monday night home opener is currently scheduled for September 14th. For the players who arrived on Tuesday, the current schedule looks like this:
July 28: Report and receive first test; return home/hotel and participate in virtual meetings.
July 29: Report and receive second test; return home/hotel and participate in virtual meetings.
July 30: Stay at home/hotel and only participate in virtual meetings.
July 31: Report and receive third test; participate in virtual meetings.
August 1-2: Players who test negative receive physicals and equipment fitting.
August 3-16: Strength and conditioning and on-field walk-throughs.
August 17: Helmet and shells practices begin, slowing being ramped up to full-padded work (14 padded practices maximum).
According to media reports, the Giants will conduct most training camp functions at MetLife Stadium in order to be better comply with COVID-19 restrictions. The home and away locker rooms at the stadium will allow for greater social distancing. The Giants will also have access to suites inside the stadium in order to hold team meetings. However, the Giants will still practice at nearby Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Practices will not be open to the public.
GIANTS BEGIN REPORTING TO CAMP…
Because the NFL and NFL Players Association were able to resolve COVID-19 testing procedure issues yesterday, the New York Giants gave the green light for quarterbacks, rookies, and injured players to begin reporting to summer training camp in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Thursday, which was the day they were originally supposed to report. All other players are scheduled to report on July 28. Coaches began arriving on July 17.
According to media reports, the Giants will conduct most training camp functions at MetLife Stadium in order to be better comply with COVID-19 restrictions. The home and away locker rooms at the stadium will allow for greater social distancing. The Giants will also have access to suites inside the stadium in order to hold team meetings. However, the Giants will still practice at nearby Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Practices will not be open to the public.
The current NFL-NFL Players Association plan appears to require players to be tested on the first and fourth day of camp, with only virtual meetings being held in between tests. Players who pass both tests would then be allowed to congregate at the team facility for physicals. Meanwhile, daily testing would continue for at least the first two weeks of training camp. If the rate of positive tests remains below 5 percent at the 2-week mark, testing will occur every other day.
DEADLINE FOR MARKUS GOLDEN PASSES…
Back in late April, the New York Giants placed a seldom-used “May 5” tender on unrestricted free agent linebacker Markus Golden. Unless Golden signed with another team by July 22, the tender would enable the Giants to maintain exclusive signing rights until the 10th week of the 2020 NFL season. That deadline has now passed without Golden signing. Golden’s options now are to holdout until Week 10 (at which time he will have to sit out the remainder of the season) or sign his 1-year, $4.125 million tender (which is 100 percent of his 2019 salary) with the Giants.
The New York Post is reporting that Golden plans to sign the Giants’ tender on July 28th, when most veterans are scheduled to report to training camp.
The Giants signed Golden as an unrestricted free agent from the Arizona Cardinals in March 2019. Golden had a strong debut season with the Giants in 2019, starting all 16 games, playing 83 percent of all defensive snaps, accruing a career-high 72 tackles, and team-high 10 sacks.
The 6’3”, 260-pound Golden was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cardinals. Golden’s break-out season was in 2016 at linebacker when he accrued 51 tackles and 12.5 sacks. He missed 12 games in 2017 with an ACL injury. While he returned in 2018, he missed five games and saw his production slip to 30 tackles and 2.5 sacks.
MATT PEART AND T.J. BRUNSON AGREE TO TERMS… SNY is reporting that New York Giants 2020 NFL Draft pick offensive tackle tackle Matt Peart (3rd round) has agreed to terms. The Bergen Record is reporting that linebacker T.J. Brunson (7th round) has done so as well. SNY had reported yesterday that cornerback Darnay Homes (4th round), offensive guard Shane Lemieux (5th round), and linebacker Cam Brown (6th round) had also agreed to terms. Linebacker Tae Crowder (7th round) signed his contract in early May.
Remaining unsigned, but expected to sign shortly, are offensive tackle Andrew Thomas (1st round), safety Xavier McKinney (2nd round), linebacker Carter Coughlin (7th round), and defensive back Chris Williamson (7th round).
BABY STEPS – GIANTS BEGIN REOPENING TEAM FACILITY…
The New York Giants announced on Wednesday that the team has “started a slow, steady reopening” of the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey “in accordance with the protocols of the State of New Jersey and the NFL.” The facility had been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 situation.
According to a Giants press release, approximately 15-20 team officials returned to the facility on Wednesday, including co-owner John Mara and General Manager Dave Gettleman as well as some football, business, operations, and medical staff. No coaches have yet returned.
The press release continues: “The number of employees in the facility will continue to increase slowly over the course of the next couple weeks with more business people filtering in. For the time being, those employees who can continue to work from home will do so.”
“We have been working diligently over the last couple months to prepare for coming back to the facility, the Quest Diagnostics Training Center,” said Senior Vice president of Medical Services Ronnie Barnes. “The primary focus has been to return our employees safely. And so everything that we have been doing has been related to the safety of our employees and how we can get back to work as safely as possible.
“We’re all happy to be back. We’ve been waiting for a long time. The Giants’ COVID-19 Task Force has been working hard to make this facility as safe as possible. We’ve made a lot of changes; those are all for (employees’) safety and they’re very important. We are following the CDC guidelines, the guidelines from the NFL and guidelines from the National Institute of Health, as well as the state’s protocols.”
DEANDRE BAKER UPDATE…
As previously reported, New York Giants cornerback Deandre Baker was charged last month with four counts of armed robbery and four counts of armed aggravated assault with a firearm from an incident that allegedly took place at a house party in Miramar, Florida. The incident was allegedly sparked by a game of dice that involved high-stakes gambling and allegedly resulted in Baker robbing party guests at gunpoint. Baker was released on bond after he turned himself into police authorities.
Since the incident, the New York Giants told Baker to stay away from team offseason virtual meetings and concentrate on his ongoing legal situation.
In May, Baker’s attorneys claimed Baker was the victim of a shakedown. Now one of his attorneys believes Baker will soon be cleared of all charges. “I think we’ve got the case won, to be honest with you,” Baker’s attorney told SNY. “I think it’s only a matter of time…As soon this dismissal goes (through), he’s going to head back to Jersey and start practicing. If it becomes a charge, then the NFL will suspend him. So the Giants are really just playing it cool right now, which is the right thing to do. Just do nothing until the state makes a decision on what they’re going to do.”
However, even if Baker is legally cleared, the NFL could punish Baker for violating the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy.
“Hopefully it’s a wake-up call for the young kid,” said Baker’s attorney. “That’s what he needed.”
The Giants drafted Baker in the 1st round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Baker had an up-and-down rookie season for the Giants. He started 15 of the 16 games he played in, receiving 87 percent of defensive snaps, and finishing the year with 61 tackles and 8 pass defenses. He did not intercept a pass.
GIANTS.COM PLAYER BREAKDOWNS… Giants.com has produced a number of informative players breakdowns on the New York Giants 2020 NFL Draft class:
Film Room: Breaking Down Andrew Thomas’ College Tape (Video)
Film Room: Breaking Down Matt Peart’s College Tape (Video)
Film Room: Shaun O’Hara Breaks Down Shane Lemieux’s College Tape (Video)
With New York Giants training camp hopefully beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) breaks down each of the team’s positional groups until the players report at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Keep in mind that some of the players discussed may be cut as the 2020 NFL draft class signs their rookie contracts.
2019 YEAR IN REVIEW: The more things change, the more things stay the same. That could be the mantra for the New York Giants franchise and their almost decade-long effort to rebuild the offensive line. 2019 was no exception. Expectations were at least slightly raised by the offseason additions of seasoned veterans Kevin Zeitler at right guard and Mike Remmers at right tackle. It was expected that left tackle Nate Solder would rebound from a disappointing debut season with the team in 2018. Center Jon Halapio returned after missing 14 games with a broken ankle and we were told by management and coaches what an underrated player he was. Left guard Will Hernandez was coming off a decent rookie season and was expected to develop into a more consistent player.
Long story short is that the offensive line not only did not improve, at times it looked worse than the ad hoc group that finished the 2018 season. Nate Solder regressed even further. Hernandez stagnated. Halapio sucked and tore his Achilles’ tendon with only minutes left in the season. Zeitler dealt with a number of injuries that most likely affected his overall play. Mike Remmers played as expected as an only adequate, temporary placeholder. As a unit, their play did not exceed or equal the sum of its parts. It played at a lesser and very much disappointing level that did not meet expectations. To be blunt, it wasn’t pretty. Saquon Barkley and his fellow running backs were often facing penetration in the backfield and quarterbacks Eli Manning and Daniel Jones were regularly under siege.
The depth situation was also not good. Seventh-rounder offensive tackle George Asafo-Adjei suffered a serious concussion early in camp and was lost for the season. For the second year in a row, back-up center Spencer Pulley did not look good when he played. Reserves Eric Smith and Chad Slade were non-factors. Only 2018 undrafted rookie free agent Nick Gates showed some promise in three starts, one at right guard and two at right tackle.
ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: Dave Gettleman re-signed exclusive rights free agents Eric Smith and Chad Slade in late December before Joe Judge was hired. The team did not tender restricted free agent Jon Halapio and he remains unsigned. Team officials contend they could still re-sign Halapio, but it is somewhat telling that they already gave his jersey number away to another offensive lineman.
Mike Remmers signed with the Chiefs. George Asafo-Adjei was waived/failed physical in March.
Journeyman offensive tackle/tight end Nate Wozniak was signed to a reserve/futures contract in late December. Unrestricted free agent offensive tackle Cam Fleming (Dallas Cowboys) was signed in March. The Giants drafted three offensive linemen in the 2020 NFL Draft, including tackle Andrew Thomas (1st round), tackle Matt Peart (3rd round), and guard Shane Lemieux (5th round). The team also signed rookie free agent guards Kyle Murphy and Tyler Haycraft after the draft.
TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: It’s the same as it has been for almost 10 years. Can the Giants field a respectable offensive line? The Achilles’ heel of the offensive team for the last decade has been the play of the offensive line. Every Giants fan knows that. Under two general managers and three head coaches, the team has spent high draft picks and spent a ton of free agent money to fix the problem with no improvement. The old maxim still holds true, football is indeed won and lost in the trenches. And the NFC East is filled with good front sevens. It’s no wonder why the Giants have become the punching bag for the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles.
While the Giants did not make a big splash this year in free agency (Cam Fleming), it certainly did in the draft by taking three offensive linemen in their first five selections, including the 4th player overall. On paper, things look much improved. The Giants appear to have four potentially adequate or more starters at tackle (Solder, Thomas, Fleming, Peart) and guard (Hernandez, Zeitler, Gates, Lemieux). The obvious sore spot is center. There is no reason to believe Spencer Pulley will develop into an adequate starter. Team officials have already publicly admitted that players such as Gates, Lemieux, and Kyle Murphy will cross-train at at both guard and center.
The hope here is twofold. First, the belief that Head Coach Joe Judge, Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett, and Offensive Line Coach Marc Colombo are superior coaches to their predecessors. And not only will they implement more coherent and viable blocking schemes that fit the existing personnel, but they will develop each individual player better. Second, that the Giants have not only improved the level of talent, but also the level of depth.
In the short term, media and fan focus will be on the center position and the development of the rookie tackles. It doesn’t help that the COVID situation has prevented the team from holding on-field spring practices.
ON THE BUBBLE:A lot of fans want to cut Nate Solder now. While an argument can be made to do so, the COVID situation makes it more unlikely that a team would want to rely on untested rookies who missed spring practices. Just as importantly, the team already paid his $3 million roster bonus in March and would be penalized with a sizable cap hit in dead money (almost $10 million if cut after June 1st).
Barring a complete collapse by Solder and/or rapid development of Thomas and Peart, the Giants are likely to keep four tackles: Solder, Thomas, Peart, and Fleming. It would also seem like the Giants will keep at least five interior linemen with Hernandez, Zeitler, Lemieux, and Gates having the inside track. Pulley’s fate may depend on who is on the waiver wire and the cross-training status of Lemieux, Gates, and Murphy.
PREDICTIONS: Things may not be pretty in the short term (this season), but I think FINALLY the Giants made some moves that will settle this position down for the long term (beyond 2020). I’m thrilled with what the Giants did in the draft at this position. With all due respect to Brad Benson, Jumbo Elliott, and David Diehl, the Giants have have not had a left tackle with the skill-set of Andrew Thomas in my lifetime. Thomas has an ideal combination of size/length, athleticism, temperament, and work ethic for the position (Ereck Flowers lacked the latter two qualities). Matt Peart has many of the same characteristics but it is assumed he will take a little longer to refine because he played at UConn. Both started as freshmen. Both have have started at right and left tackle. It is not far-fetched to dream that the Giants may have selected two 10-year starters at tackle in one draft.
Furthermore, Shane Lemieux was one of the best guards in the draft. Like Thomas, he started as a freshman in a major program. Lemieux has the size, temperament, and work ethic you want at the position. I honestly think all three will eventually start for the Giants. I also would not sleep on rookie free agent Kyle Murphy, who has played at both tackle spots, guard, and center. Based on the limited tape I’ve seen of him, this former team captain plays the game you want your offensive linemen to play (VIDEO).
What’s hard to predict is what the starting line will look like in 2020. Nate Solder and Andrew Thomas are going to start at tackle, but we don’t know who will start on each side. If Solder continues to struggle, I would not completely discount seeing Peart or Fleming in there sooner than expected. Hernandez and Zeitler should start at guard, but neither should get too comfortable with Lemieux and Nick Gates looming in the wings. Joe Judge has repeatedly said the best guys will play, regardless of their draft position or paycheck size. Zeitler is one of the better guards in the NFL and should rebound. It will be interesting to see how Hernandez responds to the new coaching staff.
The huge question mark of course is center. Nobody really wants Pulley starting. The hope is that Gates, Lemieux, or Murphy impress enough in camp to quickly take the starting job. But there is not much time.
FINAL DEPTH CHART: Nate Solder, Andrew Thomas, Matt Peart, Cam Fleming, Will Hernandez, Kevin Zeitler, Shane Lemieux, Nick Gates, Kyle Murphy
What? No center? No way! You’re right… I’m going way out on a limb here and predicting that Lemieux, Gates, and/or Murphy show enough potential at center for not only to have one, but BOTH centers on the team to be converted guards. Teams can also carry 10 offensive linemen and I wouldn’t discount that as a real possibility with Pulley (or a waiver wire pick-up) serving as insurance. Again, I don’t think things will be pretty in the short term. But sometimes you have to take your lumps early for it to pay dividends down the road.
The Giants rolled the dice in 1984 with a converted guard starting at center, Kevin Belcher. It worked out wonderfully for the team in the short-term. (Kevin’s career ended the following offseason with a car crash).
At the very least, the depth situation looks very much improved. There will be guys who can come off of the bench and play in this league.
With the 4th pick (36th overall) in the 2nd round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected safety Xavier McKinney (University of Alabama). The team then selected offensive tackle Matt Peart (University of Connecticut) with the 35th pick (99th overall) in the 3rd round.
Scouting Report on Xavier McKinney: The 6’0, 201-pound McKinney was a junior entry and 2-year starter in college. He is a very versatile player who is able to play both safety spots and slot corner. McKinney plays faster than he times and has good quickness. He is instinctive in coverage and makes a lot of plays on the football. McKinney is aggressive and physical in run defense. Good blitzer and he will hit you. He does need to become a more consistent tackler. Team leader who quarterbacks the secondary.
Sy’56’s Take on Xavier McKinney: Junior entry. Two year starter from Roswell, Georgia. 2019 All American and First Team All SEC. McKinney was a do-it-all safety for Nick Saban’s defense, making plays against the pass, the run, and on special teams. He is a versatile, rangy, aggressive weapon for the defense that reacts and closes as fast as anyone can at the position. He is a hustler who will bring swagger to the defense he gets drafted to. He has some on-field discipline issues that can get exposed in the NFL, thus he will need some extra time to adjust to the speed and complexity of the game. His upside is sky-high if he is put into the right situation and he applies himself.
*McKinney plays a high risk, high reward style which isn’t a fit for every scheme. But for the teams that can tolerate, borderline feet of that, he is going to be graded highly and I do think he has a shot at being the top safety off the board. I love his burst and ability to close, if he can develop that movement into coverage, watch out.
Media Q&A with General Manager Dave Gettleman and Head Coach Joe Judge:
Gettleman: Obviously, we had Xavier rated, we had a first-round value on him, and we’re absolutely thrilled to get him. He’s a great kid, he’s smart, he plays smart, he lines up the backend for us, he’s versatile, you can put him down low, he can cover tight ends, he’s got ball skills, and he’s a good tackler. So, we’re excited and just feel we’ve got a real quality person and player in this second round pick.
Judge: Yeah, I’d say my first exposure to Xavier was a few springs ago. I was down in Alabama actually scouting a couple other guys for the draft and had an opportunity to pass on through one of the practices, and he just stuck out as a guy on the field who flies around. He plays with a lot of passion and energy. He also has that ability to be the quarterback on the backend and really be the signal caller for our defense. Knowing the program he comes from, he fits the mold of a smart, tough, fundamentally sound guy we’re looking to build with. We’re very excited to have him. Like Dave said, we had a first-round grade on him, saw him hanging around and we’re very fortunate to be able to take him at the position that we did.
Q: Are there some similarities here with Xavier and Isaiah Simmons as you were watching the two films? It looks like Xavier is one of those guys who played 100 snaps at four different positions last year.
Gettleman: He certainly is versatile, he certainly is versatile. One of the important things for us this year was getting a safety that could play in the deep part of the field. Xavier has certainly played back there enough that we know we feel very comfortable about that part of his game.
Q: How much better do you feel about your secondary after making this pick and signing (James) Bradberry in free agency? Does it feel like it is shored up a lot more than maybe it was at the end of last year?
Gettleman: Absolutely. You know, it’s kind of funny. Everybody is playing so much 11 and 10 personnel and you’re in sub 55 to 70 percent of the time. You can never have enough DBs. You know, Bradberry is young, he’s 26, I believe, or 25. Jabrill (Peppers) is young. All of these kids we drafted last year and now Xavier this year, we’re putting together, I think, a very talented young group that just has the ability to play football at the NFL level. We’ve just got to get them rolling.
Q: Did you entertain a lot of offers to try to move down? Do you think having Xavier will actually enhance Jabrill Peppers and maybe put him in spots where you can enhance his talents rather than have to do things maybe he wasn’t as good at?
Gettleman: Well, the first thing I’ll tell you is we had made up our mind that if Xavier fell to us, we were taking him. So, we did have something. If Xavier had been gone, we did have a team willing to move up and we would’ve moved back. But we felt the value of getting Xavier there was just too good to pass up. I think the second part of the question is a better one for Joe, frankly.
Judge: You know, I don’t think it’s about any of the players on our roster. I just think with his versatility and what he’s shown of what he’s been able to do, play in the deep part of the field, play in the box, be used in coverage on slot receivers, be used in blitz packages. He’s shown a range in what he’s able to do. That’s going to allow us to use all of our players in different ways. Because of his versatility, that will complement everybody else on the roster as his strengths shake out. But he has a good skill set to come in and compete and we’re anxious to get him on the field and start working with him.
Q: How much were you able to tap into your Alabama connections when you were scouting Xavier?
Judge: There’s a number of guys down at Alabama that have a great background on him. There are a number of guys on our staff currently that have a great background on the Alabama guys, Burton Burns and Jody Wright were there in recent years. They were there when these guys came in as freshmen, they were there for the progression. As well as making phone calls down to Tuscaloosa, we were able to make phone calls and have staff meetings with guys who had direct relationships with these players and that’s a great advantage. I talked yesterday about my relationship with Kirby (Smart) and how that plays a part in identifying these guys and what they are like off the field and off the tape. That plays a big part. There are certain people in that building, not just the head coach, that you rely on what they say. You know they see them as a person and how they treat everybody. Everyone has nothing but the highest compliments of him as a person and that’s what we’re looking for. Guys with good character, good traits, that want to come in and want to work and want to earn what they get.
Q: You are about to have a 63-pick gap, are you in moving up at all?
Gettleman: You have to see how the board falls. We are going to sit for a while. If we move up, I’m not going to dip into next year’s draft class. We are going to sit here and be patient and see how the board falls.
Q: Do you think If Alabama held its pro day and he ran a better 40 than he did at the combine that he would have been there for you at that point?
Gettleman: It’s speculation, (but) that’s the only thing we can think of. Very frankly, I’ve said it to our scouts, it’s how fast does a guy play? It’s about how he carries his pads. It’s not what he does in his underwear on a track, it’s play speed. Way back in the day when San Francisco had their unbelievable run and Bill Walsh was running that club, they were not in a scouting combine. They did not care what a guy ran. They talked about play speed all the time. I think it worked pretty well for them. I am a big believer in that, it’s about how fast does a guy play. If it was just about 40-yard dash times, then we would go watch track meets.
Q: What does this draft do for a guy like Julian Love?
Judge: Julian has a great skill set. He can play corner, he can play in the slot and he can play back deep as a safety. We are going to use him as we need by each game plan. He may be an every-down safety, he may be an-every down corner. We are too far away right now to give that an answer. We are excited about all the guys we have back there. We believe we added some talent to the back end for guys to compete and we are going to see where it shakes out. Nothing has been decided in terms of positions that will go into a depth chart at this point and nothing has been decided in how we are going to use guys by game plan. That will change week to week. We believe we have enough skillsets that it will give us flexibility within our packages.
Q: You have drafted a Georgia player in the third round or higher in three straight drafts. Is there anything particular about Georgia’s program that you like?
Gettleman: What you like is the fact that it’s the Southeast Conference. They play a lot of big games and they do a hell of a job coaching down there. It’s more by accident, it’s kind of the way it worked out. They have a hell of a program.
Media Q&A with Xavier McKinney:
Q: With your versatility playing deep safety, down in the nickel, crashing the box, what do you enjoy the most and what do you think you bring to this defense most of all?
A: I like doing it all. I like playing as many positions as I can on the field. I just like making plays for my teammates and helping my team be successful. So for me, that’s pretty much my main goal. As far as what I can provide for the team, it really is whatever coach wants me to do. I always do what’s asked of me and I try to do it at a high level. So, whatever I’m asked to do, then I’ll adapt to it and I’ll be able to do it.
Q: I understand that a lot of your tattoos you designed yourself. I just wanted to ask about your creativity and how you bring that creativity onto the field?
A: Yeah, I appreciate that question. It’s just something that I like to do in my free time. If I’m ever bored or ever kind of get to thinking, then I try to put the pencil on paper. For me, it’s pretty fun being able to do it and draw my tattoos. But as far as what I bring onto the field as far as creativity, I just try to do as much as I can to help my teammates and help put us in the best possible position to win.
Q: How much did you communicate with the Giants, if at all, throughout the draft process and what’s your impression from your conversations with them?
A: I communicated with them a good bit, especially towards this ending part of it with us not having pro day and stuff like that. So, I’ve been in contact with them a few times and I always got a good vibe with them. It was people I felt comfortable with, it was coaches I felt comfortable with. Just knowing that everything was smooth when we talked, and they were more just trying to get to know me as a person instead of a player because they already knew what I could do on the field. They wanted to know what I could do off the field. But you know, I enjoyed talking to them. I’m surely very happy, very excited that they were able to draft me.
Q: I’m sure Coach Judge had a lot of conversations with Coach Saban about you. I’m wondering if you had any conversations with Coach Saban about Coach Judge and if he kind of helped you understand what you’re getting yourself into here?
A: No, I actually haven’t talked to Coach Saban about Coach Judge. I didn’t even know, I just kind of found out pretty recently that Coach Judge coached at Bama. I didn’t know. But now that I know they pretty much…there’s a lot of things that are going to be similar to how it was at school, and that’s how I like it. I’m very excited for the opportunity.
Q: How surprised were you that you were drafted today and not yesterday?
A: Very surprised. Of course, I thought I was going to get drafted yesterday, but you know, it is what it is. I’m happy to be a Giant and that’s all that matters right now.
Q: Joe Judge told us a story earlier that two years ago in the spring he was scouting some other guys for Alabama and he remembers the impression that you left on him then in practice, kind of being all over the field. Throughout this process, even going back one to two years, were you conscious of the fact that all eyes were on you and things that you did two years ago may come to help you on draft night?
A: No, not really. I’m a type of guy that tries to focus on what’s going on right now. At that point in time, I was focused on the season, I was focused on winning, trying to win a national championship. So for me, I was always trying to do the right thing for myself but not only for myself, but for my teammates. I wasn’t too much focused on all the things that would come later on down the road because I didn’t know what would come. I always try to do the right thing and try to set myself up to be in the best position as possible.
Q: I noticed on Twitter that Jabrill Peppers had reached out to you. I didn’t know if you had a previous relationship with him, if you know him at all, and what do you think about being on the back end with a guy like that?
A: Yeah, I actually followed him when he was coming out because he was also a safety that played a lot of positions in college when he came out. I’m a big fan of him, I watch his game. I actually haven’t been able to see that he reached out, I’ve got to check that. But, I’m excited and I’m ready to see what’s in store for me when I get up to New York.
Q: You said you thought you’d get picked in the first round. How much do you think the 40 (yard dash) time hurt you and can you explain how you got cramps or just what happened at the combine?
A: I don’t know how much it hurt me. To be honest, I really don’t care that much about the 40 anyways. I think like I’ve said before, my tape says it all. It’s something that outweighs the 40 anyways because, of course, I play way faster than what that 40 said. But when I did run the 40, I did have cramps. A lot of it was due to just the setup of how the combine was, things that I wasn’t necessarily prepared for or didn’t really know how the schedule would be. But you know, it is what it is. Everything happens for a reason. Like I’ve said before, I’m excited for this moment and I’m excited to be a Giant.
Q: What have the coaches told you about the defense and how you might fit into the defense? How do you think your skill set is going to complement Jabrill Peppers?
A: I’m not sure much about the defense right now. When I talked to the staff previously, we weren’t really talking much about football. It was more about them trying to get to know me and who I was off the field. We haven’t gotten into much depth about what is going to happen on the field. As far as what my role might be, of course, I don’t know. I am able to adjust to anything that is thrown at me and I’m ready for whatever they might want me to do. I think I can do anything that they ask me for. I’m ready for the moment.
Q: Those battles at practice where you saw Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs, do you think that makes all of you that much better coming into the NFL and if so, how?
A: I think so. Like I said before, those are first round guys as you have seen yesterday. Being able to compete against those guys at that level has been helpful for me and the people around me. I think that helps a lot going into the NFL. A lot of times in the NFL you will see guys like that every week instead of just one week and then you get a rest week where you may not have the best receiver like it is in college. In the NFL, there’s going to be good receivers week in and week out. It helps, it helped me prepare and get ready for this moment.
Q: Do you pride yourself on being a playmaker?
A: I do. I just try to make as many plays for my team as I can. I like to put my teammates in the best position possible in whatever way that I can to help the team be successful in any part of the game. Whether that’s special teams, whether that’s playing on defense, wherever it is, I try to make sure I put my teammates in the best possible situation that we can be in. I do pride myself on being a playmaker.
Q: You played for Nick Saban, who runs a tight ship, an authoritative coach, what he says goes. Joe Judge has started off here running a similar program. How do you thrive in a program where the head coach has a strong personality and where there is a ton of structure to how they want things to run?
A: I’m good with structure. It’s never been a problem for me, it wasn’t a problem when I went into school as a freshman. Those are the things that I like a lot. I actually love having that structure and having that strict almost tight ship being ran by the coaches. For me, I always do what I’m asked to do, and I try to do it at a high level. At the end of the day, I’m just trying to win. I’ll do whatever it takes to be able to win games and anything I can to help.
Q: First of all, I just want to make sure everyone in your family is healthy. How have you been able to keep in shape? How do you plan on moving forward with that plan in the next couple of weeks before you can get up here?
A: Everybody is doing well. I have been following the restrictions and certain stuff that we can and cannot do. I’ve still been able to jog around the neighborhood or do some yoga in the house. I’ve still been able to do some position work on the field. I’m still trying to restrict it as much as I can so it’s not all the time. I want to keep everyone else around me safe.
Q: The Cowboys picked Travon Diggs and the Eagles picked Jalen Hurts. What’s that going to be like in these NFC East battles with you going against two of your former teammates?
A: It’s going to be fun. Those are my guys, I actually just talked to Tray today and I talked to Jalen, I think, a couple days ago. Those are my guys, it’s definitely going to be fun. I’m going to be really excited to see them and play against them again.
Q: Do the Alabama guys take those battles pretty seriously?
A: Yeah, we do. Even in practice whenever we are going against each other. Me and Tray were on the same side, but we always competed to see who got the most picks for the day and we also did it for the game. We definitely take those very seriously and it gets really competitive.
Q: I’m sure you ran the 40 at Alabama and you did it in your training. Was your time significantly better (than the combine)?
A: Yeah, for sure. The time that I ran at the combine, that was a fake time. I caught cramps before I actually ran. That was actually my worst time throughout the whole process. My best time was a 4.52 when I was training. If I got to do the pro day, I thought I was going to run a good time. I’m not too worried about the 40. That’s why I didn’t run it again. I knew my tape said it all and I didn’t have anything to prove running the 40. There was no reason for me to do that.
Q: Do you look at yourself as a free safety or strong safety? Do you put that label on yourself?
A: I consider myself a DB. A DB is somebody that can play safety, free safety, corner, slot nickel, anywhere. I’m a versatile DB, that’s what I consider myself.
Scouting Report on Matt Peart: The 6’6”, 310-pound Peart was a 4-year starter in college with experience at both tackle spots. Peart combines excellent size, long arms, and good overall athletic ability. He has the frame to get bigger and he needs to get stronger. Right now he is a better pass protector than run blocker. He could play with more meanness to his game. Team leader.
Sy’56’s Take on Matt Peart: Fifth year senior from Kingston, Jamaica. A four year starter who never missed a game. 1st Team All AAC honors as a senior. Peart is relatively new to the game, as he didn’t play football until he started high school. He is a physically gifted player who, when his feet are in the right place, showed dominant traits. He has incredibly strong hands with long arms and an athletic base, he simply just needs to hammer away at his lower body mechanics until they become more natural and consistent. If and when that happens, he is a starting caliber player.
*I did a quick recap of who Gettleman selected in his career as GM along the offensive line. One glaring tendency was his desire for length at tackle. Well, here you go. Peart has the longest arms in the class and the widest frame. Throw in the fact that he has a decently athletic lower body, and there is a chance he is going to hear his name called in round 2. NYG is going to like him, I’m sure of it. How much? Not sure. I personally see a guy who won’t be a factor in year one and he is going to need to really hammer away at lower body mechanics and power. I couldn’t get past the 4th/5th round tier but I can see why some are higher on him because of the ceiling.
Media Q&A with General Manager Dave Gettleman and Head Coach Joe Judge:
Dave Getttleman: The Peart kid that we took at the bottom of three is long, he’s big. He’s a 315-pound kid that’s skinny. We interviewed him a number of times, he’s a great kid. He’s athletic and he’s long and we think he has a lot of upside for a young kid. He’s a guy that the coaching staff really wanted to work with.
Joe Judge: I second what Dave said. It’s rare to describe someone as 315 pounds and skinny, but that’s what he is. He’s an athletic guy, he has a lot of length to him. We feel good about his character and his work ethic. He’s excited to come on in here and work hard and we can’t wait to get him on the field.
Q: Why did you guys decide to pick another tackle instead of going with a center? I know you guys have been talking about center?
Gettleman: It’s about value. He was too good of a value to pass by. We had him rated well above the rest of the other centers on our board.
Q: What kind of a ceiling does this kid have?
Gettleman: I think he has a sizeable ceiling. He’s young, he’s really got a lot of talent. We really like the upside on him.
Q: Joe, you talked to us the other day about projecting how players will be two or three years down the road. Is this one of those players for you?
Judge: I think they are all one of those players for me. He definitely has a lot of upside. I don’t want to say he is developmental, he is developing, and they all are. He’s got tremendous work ethic, he’s got a great attitude. I think we are going to see a lot better football in the future than we’ve seen from him already. That’s what makes us really excited to work with these guys that we’re bringing in.
Q: Is it too early in his development to know if he is a more natural left or right tackle?
Judge: I think his athleticism is going to lend him to being a swing tackle early on in his career and work on both sides. We don’t want to limit any of our guys to just play on one side. We have to cross train everybody. If you play on the left side, you have to be able to play on the right side as well. That’s going to go ahead and lend to what we need based on roster situation and game plans.
Q: Are you still looking for a center?
Gettleman: We are just going to work the board.
Q: What was it like having this long gap between picks? I know you did it last year. What was the feeling when the Jets were on the clock at 68?
Gettleman: I mean, it’s a long time between picks. We’re at 36 and then it’s 99, so you’ve got 54 picks, multiply it times five minutes, it’s a long time, you know? We made the decision last year on that, on the third round pick, and we’re fine.
Q: This is a guy who did not play football in high school, but he never missed a snap in college. Do you see some of that rawness of a guy who came to the game late that interests you that you can work with in a guy like this?
Judge: I always like having athletic players who you don’t feel like are tapped out. I said earlier, he’s developing – meaning, this guy has got a skill set, he’s still learning. I think we’ve got the right line coach to go ahead and work with him between (Offensive Line Coach) Marc (Colombo) and (Assistant Offensive Line Coach) Ben (Wilkerson). This guy’s got tremendous upside. His athleticism, his physical build and then just his character and work ethic. You put those things together and these are guys you really want to work with.
Q: You had a long wait tonight, but you have a pretty quick turnaround tomorrow getting ready. How do you guys handle this? Do you try to get together tonight and map out what’s on the board for tomorrow and what plans you’re going to do, or do you wait until tomorrow to get together? Do you have a couple of guys that you are kind of eyeing already for that fourth round pick?
Gettleman: We’ll talk a little bit tonight and, really and truly, it’ll be interesting to see if we get calls because we’re picking so early tomorrow. We’ll have a conference, we’ll get together tomorrow morning well in advance to give us a chance to really talk and figure out what we want to do. So, we’ll spend time tonight and tomorrow.
Q: You told us earlier that you weren’t going to dip into next year for picks to move up, but if there was somebody on your board you might be tempted to do something. Was there anyone on your board at a certain spot that you were tempted to move up or were you content to stay at 99?
Gettleman: No, we were fine because, again, I wasn’t going to dip into next year and that’s what we would’ve had to have done. So, we were fine. We’re fine. We just got a really good value with Matt Peart. He’s a solid prospect and we got a really good value.
Media Q&A with Matt Peart:
Q: Can you take us through last night? How surprised were you when you got the call and was this a destination on your radar?
A: When I got the call, it was definitely a big surreal feeling. My mom started going crazy. I had family members do a Zoom call like this and they were going crazy over the computer. So it was just a great time being able to experience everyone that’s near and dear to my heart just happy and joyous for the moment. Growing up, I always wanted to be a Giant and I’m just happy to put on the blue. It still feels so surreal to me and I’m just looking forward to the future.
Q: Are you in the Bronx? Is that where you are with your family?
A: No, we moved a year ago, so I’m in Fishkill, New York.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about growing up a Giants fan? I know you were rooting for them when you were going to high school up in New England.
A: I came from Jamaica at a young age and growing up in New York, I kind of fell in love with the Knicks and then also the Giants soon after that. Just watching them on the TV, just the culture and everything the Giants stand for was something that was appealing for me as a young kid. Especially growing up, especially that moment in high school when they had that Super Bowl win my freshman year. That was a very, very fun time for me.
Q: Did you have a favorite offensive lineman or a favorite player?
A: My favorite player, my favorite Giant always would be Eli Manning, for sure. The man is just tough, tough as nails. I respect his game and I just respect everything he does for the game. You know, he’s definitely my favorite Giant, 100 percent.
Q: I just wanted to ask a little bit more about your journey. You were born in Jamaica, then you came to the Bronx, I’m guessing, pretty young. Then how do you end up at a private boarding school and then from there end up getting into football, since I know that wasn’t your first sport?
A: So getting into the boarding school, I got into a program called the Oliver Scholars program. It was actually based out of the Tri-State area. They take high-achieving kids in the Tri-State area and allow them to go to independent day schools and boarding schools that they coordinate with through the program. Governor’s (Academy) was one of the schools on that list of all of the schools. So, having that connection allowed me to go to the private school.
Q: Then how did you get into football, because I think I read that you were more of a basketball player when you first got there?
A: Yeah, mainly because I grew up in the Bronx. You know, Jamaicans call it ‘The Concrete Jungle,’ so it’s easier to pick up a ball and shoot some hoops because there weren’t really that many fields open. Going to Governor’s Academy and having an opportunity to be exposed to the sport was actually the first time I really got exposed to the sport.
Q: How old were you when you moved to the Bronx?
A: When I was about four or five.
Q: How did you end up at Connecticut and with your size, were you recruited by some bigger schools?
A: Connecticut was my biggest offer coming out of high school. Like I said, I started the transition relatively late, so UConn had offered me a week before signing day. Before that, SUNY-Albany was my first offer, they offered me for offensive tackle. Then UConn offered me a week before signing day. The day I committed to UConn, UNH came up to offer me. But they knew I was going to UConn, so they never extended that offer.
Q: You’re kind of listed by the experts as this kid who’s got raw talent. How much of a project do you think you are?
A: Whenever I think about that, it just means that I just want to dedicate myself to be a better student of the game and wherever I need to improve, you best believe I’m willing to do the work, and I’m ready to work right now. That’s all I can speak on that one.
Q: What was your first call like with Dave Gettleman and Joe Judge? Did they talk to at all about what their plans are for you?
A: Like I said, just getting that phone call was very surreal. I’m just trying to grasp the moment still, it still feels a little bit surreal right now. I’m just ready to do the work. With those conversations, I don’t really delve into private conversations. Just know that I am ready to work and ready to prove that I belong to be a Giant and ready to earn everything.
Q: Can you expand a little bit on how basketball has helped you with the offensive line? Especially with playing both sides as you have.
A: I feel like when it comes to basketball, you have to have real fine footwork. I really feel like that helped correlate on the field when it comes to football. Being a post player, you have to be able to have good footwork to work in the post. It’s just what you have to have. I really feel like that helped me correlate over to football. Just being a tough and dominant player in the post as well helped me be a dominant football player as well.
Q: How is your family doing health wise?
A: The main part of my family is all in New York. My eldest brother is in Albany right now with his wife. My second eldest brother is in the Bronx with his wife, they’re actually expecting a baby. Everyone is taking the proper precautions right now. Everyone is safe, thank God. I just want to thank everyone that’s dedicating their time and efforts during this time just to help ease the pain now, so we have a better tomorrow. We’re just taking the precautions that are recommended and doing everything we need to do to make sure we are living up to the standards of the quarantine rules.
Q: How have you been able to stay in shape and how do you plan to move forward with that?
A: Right now, I am coordinating with a strength coach. He is based out of New Jersey. It’s called Parisi’s. They’re able to give me workouts through an app and that’s what I have been doing during this time, finding ways to get after it. Since I’m in upstate, I can always find a little patch of grass so I can work on my offensive line technique. I may look crazy out there, but I have to do what I have to do.
Q: I just wanted to ask you about Andrew Thomas. Do you know him at all, do you have a relationship with him? What do you think of his game? How much are you looking forward to playing on the same line as him, hopefully for years to come?
A: Andrew and I were training at the same facility, EXOS down in Pensacola, Florida, before the combine. He’s an amazing tackle, he’s a real true talent when it comes to offensive line play. I definitely picked up some things from him with my time down there. Staying down there with the small time we had, I definitely consider him to be a brother and now he’s definitely a brother right now. He can’t get rid of me now. I’m looking forward to it and I’m happy he’s coming to the city.