It seemed almost impossible the Giants could come out of the first round of the NFL Draft without their top two targets at wide receiver – Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith – or without their top two targets at cornerback – Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn.
But that is what went down, so the Giants traded down.
This was supposed to be the year of the quarterback, with at least four of them, and possibly five, coming off the board in the first 10 picks. If that happened, the Giants were assured of one of their wish-list receivers or corners. The first three selections were quarterbacks, but that is where the run ended and, one by one, the top targets on the Giants’ board got picked off. Plan B needed to materialize and, thanks to the Bears seeing Justin Fields drop, an on-the-clock trade transpired, the Giants moved down from No. 11 to No. 20 and eventually picked receiver Kadarius Toney, a player they adored from the start of this process.
There is much to digest. Here are five mouthfuls:
1. Tradedowns are always delayed gratification
General manager Dave Gettleman insisted there was no deal with the Bears unless they included their 2022 first-round pick. So, now the Giants watch in 2021 and hope for the Bears to lose every week, to push that 2022 first-round selection as high as it can go. Given all the uncertainty this year trying to investigate players amid COVID-19 restrictions, many NFL executives viewed 2022 picks as extra valuable — there will be so much more information about the players next year. Plus, so many players opted to take the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA, deepening the talent pool in college football. But the Giants have to wait on this. Intriguing question: Is it Gettleman who gets to make this pick in 2022? Answer: It depends on how the Giants fare in 2021.
2. The Daniel Jones question
Another huge factor of having two first-round picks in 2022 is that it helps the Giants muster ammunition in case they need to go after a quarterback. Far-fetched? Hardly. If there is ever a make-or-break season, this is one of them for Daniel Jones. There are weapons galore for him, with the additions of Toney and free-agent signee Kenny Golladay at receiver and the presumed return to health of Saquon Barkley, who did not make it out of the second game last season. If the offensive line holds up, there are no excuses for Jones. If it does not work out, having two picks in the first round allows the Giants to give up one of them to move up, if need be, to make a run at another quarterback.
3. Why Toney?
There were other receivers available to the Giants at No. 20, players several scouts rated ahead of Toney. The selection could have been Rashod Bateman (Minnesota), Terrace Marshall (LSU), Rondale Moore (Purdue) or Elijah Moore (Mississippi). The Giants had a solid first-round grade on Toney. They see him as an explosive and versatile offensive weapon; he was one of their favorite players in the entire draft. They were not going to take him at No. 11 and believed he was not going to be there at No. 42, so the only way a marriage could be arranged is with a trade down. Now it is up to Jason Garrett, the offensive coordinator, to put Toney in a variety of roles to best utilize his change-of-direction skills.
4. Passing on Slater
There he was, available for the Giants to take him at No. 11. Rashawn Slater was on the board and the Giants traded down. This was not surprising, despite some outcry from fans to fortify the offensive line with Slater. The Giants rated him as the second-best offensive tackle in the draft, but not on par with Penei Sewell, who went to the Lions at No. 7. There are some doubts over whether Slater, who does not have the preferred height and arm length for star NFL tackle, will need to move inside to guard. Bypassing Slater also shows this coaching staff believes the options at right tackle — Matt Peart and Nate Solder – are more than adequate, and that their main concern — adding a guard with the potential to start — can be satisfied in the second or third round of this draft and perhaps even in the fourth round.
5. Over the edge
As the Post reported prior to the draft, the Giants were not impressed with the edge rush options, especially not at No. 11, and had no intention of taking any of them so high. They also downgraded talented linebacker Micah Parsons based on personality and off-the-field concerns. Parsons was on the board at 11 and went to the Cowboys at No. 12. The Giants see the value in this edge rush class as more potential-based than proven commodities and believe the second or third rounds is where they might be able to strike. If linebacker Azeez Ojulari from Georgia is there at No. 42, he will be impossible to pass up. Some scouts consider him the best pass rusher in this draft. Ojulari slipped out of the first round, but is unlikely to make it down to the Giants. To get him, the Giants probably have to move up in the second round. With the extra fifth-round pick acquired from the Bears, Gettleman has ammo to make a deal.
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