Written by: Tony “The Prophet” Yantosca
So now we have to look at the draft. This is the first year in probably the last 12 years that I was not driven mental by the Giants picks. I don’t know how the Giants paid managers and scouts thousands of dollars to make some abysmal picks over the years. I have documented these picks immediately on the draft night on Twitter. You can go back and see my Tweets. They are posted for history and all to see. How is that I can see the obvious at 50,000 feet while the Giants brass with all their field data, scouting reports, analytical data, and film study cannot see the forest because of the trees! I can write a Whitepaper on blown draft picks but here are some of the highlights.
In 2015 Jerry “Reach” selected OT, Ereck Flowers, with the overall 9th pick. I was reading the Sports Illustrated Draft Guide while I was waiting in a doctor’s office. They said of Ereck Flowers, “bad hands, expect a lot of penalties.” How much research did the Giants need to do to know this was a problem pick? A cursory review would tell you he was not worthy of the 9th pick and it was another famous Jerry Reach! How much due diligence did the Reese, Ross, et.al? do on these picks???
In 2016 Jerry “Reach” was a deer in the highlights picking at 10. The Titans moved up to the 8th spot to grab Conklin. Imagine what a previously horrific Giants OL with Conklin would have been like for years! At the 9th spot, the Bears jump ahead of Jerry again and grab LB Floyd. The Giants wanted to draft either of these 2 players in the first round. If the Titans could jump up to 8 to trade with the Browns so could the Giants. Now Jerry is stuck and the next need is a cornerback. The play is to move back. The Giants said that they tried but we don’t know if this is true. So, Jerry takes Eli Apple at 10! Some experts didn’t even know if he was a first-round talent. It is as big a Jerry “Reach” as Flowers. As a point of reference, the great Darrelle Revis was drafted at 14. Gettleman trades him after 5 games in 2018 to the Saints. Apple only played in 30 games for the Giants. Apple beat like a drum in the playoff game vs the Vikings last year that the Saints lost. The Saints released him this year. As of this writing, I don’t believe he is on any team yet for 2020. What a waste of a first-round pick!
I am getting sick, but I want to make a short comment on the wasted picks for backup quarterbacks. It started with the 4th round selection in 2013-Ryan Nassib. He was picked in the 4th round 110th pick. The Giants even moved up for this stiff and gave up their 4th and a 6th round pick to move up 6 spots! All you need to know is that his college coach, Doug Marrone, from Syracuse, was a rookie head coach in the NFL that year, and he passed on him. By the way, Marrone made the biggest reach at quarterback in the history of the NFL by taking EJ Manuel at 16 as the first quarterback in the 2013 draft. That move made Jerry look good. Nassib had a whooping 10 attempts in garbage time in his 2 years with the Giants.
In 2017, in the 3rd round with the 87th pick, Jerry drafted quarterback, Davis Webb. This is a high pick that should be made for a player with starting potential. I lost my mind when Mr. “Reach” made that pick. Go check my Twitter tweets from that night. Please be over 18 to handle the profanity. The Prophet said that he would never play a down for the Giants and he never did! Again, with the thousands of man-hours, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars in scouting, travel, and research, (if not Millions) they waste a pick and draft another stiff!
But wait, like they say on the infomercials, we have more! They make the same mistake the next year. In 2018 they draft another stiff quarterback, Kyle Lauretta. Its Groundhog Day for me again. I lost my mind again on Twitter. Please go check it for your amusement. In his illustrious 1-year career with the Giants, he threw 5 passes in garbage time for 0 completions but one completion to the other team in the form of an interception. This is part of the reason this team had the worst record over the last 3 years and smelt the playoff in one losing game in a decade. Eli never gets hurt. The ground was the leading receiver in many games. Eli would just get rid of the ball. You can have an experienced backup that you pay $1-2M to hold the fort for a few games. This team was not going anywhere with their rosters the past few years anyway.
I mentioned that I would get back to the signing of Blake Martinez at linebacker from the Packers. That pick alone signaled to me that it was a fait accompli that the Giants would draft offensive line in the first round. I thought that when Gettleman jumped back into the 1st round of the draft at pick 30 last year, he was going to draft an offensive lineman. Taylor who was mocked to go in the top 10 was still on the board as well as Little and Ford. Also, Dillard was available at 17 where the Giants picked Dexter Lawrence.
As Giants GM, I would have already have had the OL handled, freeing me up to draft one of the top 3 players in this year’s draft, LB from Clemson, Isaiah Simmons. He is a freak with 4.39 40-yard dash speed, faster than most wide receivers and running backs. He is a faster Luke Keuchly who can line up anywhere and go sideline to sideline. He had over 100 snaps at 5 different defensive positions. He can play linebacker, SS, FS, CB, and edge rusher. Dare I speak blasphemy and say he could be a LT junior? I realize no one will ever be as great as the great #56. Some people say well then, he doesn’t have a position. If you are a good coordinator, you should be able to figure out how to best utilize him! I would select him but Gettleman who passed on edge rusher Josh Allen last year, passed on Simmons this year. By the way, the Giants’ greatest need is a pass rusher that they will have to address it in 2021 free agency and the draft.
I don’t believe the fairy tale that Daniel Jones would not be there at pick 17 in last year’s draft. If you were worried that Jones would not be there, you still had 11 picks to use to move up. Pull a Ditka if you had to. I still think you could have gotten Allen and Jones. Gettleman pulled the trigger at 6 because he was certain there were 2 other teams interested in Jones. Also, the two teams (info from the Giants beat writers) purported to be interested in Jones were Washington and Denver. Daniel Snyder was in love with Haskins. He had a family connection. The other team was supposedly Denver. They drafted Drew Lock. Bruce Allen (you are no longer with the team) and John Elway, can you confirm that you had any interest in Jones? Its ancient history now and inquiring minds need to know so we can sleep at night. This still bothers me!
As we get to draft day. Dave Gettleman like Jerry “Reach” before him has ignored the offensive line for years. The Gmen have not had a good offensive line since Diehl, O’Hara, and Snee. Last year’s line was better because the starters were healthy all year. They did draft, Will Hernandez, in the second round. The jury is still out on him. I want to thank Giants Nation and the Giants beat writers for putting so much pressure on the Giants, they finally were going to address the offensive line. The main reason now is that Jones, who was a turnover machine in year one, has no chance without a good offensive line.
So now you have to decide what flavor offensive lineman you like as there were 4 great prospects that were worthy to go in the top 10 picks. There were: Mekhi Beckton, Andrew Thomas, Jedrick Wills, and Tristan Wirfs. There is no wrong choice here. I believe all 4 will have successful professional careers. It’s a matter if you like vanilla, strawberry, or chocolate. Gettleman decided on Thomas.
I had Jedrick Wills (6’ 4”, 312, 5.05) rated first. He only started for 2 years at Alabama but he was schooled by Sabin and battled in the SEC. He comes off the ball getting low and with good leverage in the run game. He is able to be a puller in the run game and a good blocker in the screen game. He has good knee bend and balance in pass blocking. He played right tackle but is skilled enough to move to left tackle. I thought Judge would get the skinny on Wills from Belichick via Sabin, but they passed on him.
I had Andrew Thomas (6’ 5” 315, 5.22) rated second. He was also SEC battle-tested. He has 41 starts. His freshman year he played right tackle and the last two were at left tackle. This is good news. He can play right tackle this year and move to left tackle when the Giants jettison Solder next year. He is an outstanding blocker in the run game. His only weakness seems to be in pass protection as sometimes he plays too high and is susceptible to the bull rush. Overall, he is a strong player. As the politicians say (I approve this message), the Prophet approves of this pick by the Giants. I would have drafted Wills. To be fair, Pro Football Focus had Thomas as their number one tackle. However, both, 41-year Senior Producer at NFL Films as lead tape analyst, Greg Cosell, and NFL Network’s lead draft and Combine expert, and NFL scout for 3 teams, Daniel Jerimiah had Wills rated the number one tackle in the draft.
I had Mekhi Becton (6’ 7”, 364, 5.1) rated third. I was ready to draft him immediately when on the first night of the Combine he ran a 5.1 40-yard dash! As they replayed it, I was blown away. It is more impressive a record 4.22 run by a wide receiver, John Ross given his weight. He is a great road grader in the run game. However, he plays high sometimes in his pass protection and gets moved by speed pass rushers. He had 33 starts at Louisville. He played right tackle his first year and then moved to left tackle which is a positive. He will have a good career with the Jets and will definitely help Bell in the run game. The Jets had a horrible OL last year.
Lastly, I had Tristan Wirfs (6’ 5”, 320, 4.85) rated fourth. The main reason is that he played right tackle at Iowa except in 4 games at left tackle. Some experts think he is only a right tackle or a guard at the next level. He had the fastest time at this year’s Combine for offensive tackles at 4.85. He certainly is the most athletic of the four linemen. He was very smooth and effortlessly went through the drills at the combine. Again, I was tempted to make him my first pick just off the Combine. He has somebody control and balance issues but he is strong overall.
The second pick in this year’s draft of safety, Xavier McKinney, from Alabama was a great pick. He is a first-round talent that Mel Kiper had as his 15th ranked prospect. He may have fallen because he ran a 4.63 at the combine. Xavier is a strong tackler, who can be used to blitz. He is not a sideline to sideline guy, but he has decent coverage skills to be used in sub-packages. He will start alongside Jabrill Peppers.
Watching the third round was very painful on Friday of the draft. After the Giants picked McKinney in the second round it was over 4 hours until their next pick. This was because of Gettleman’s infatuation with the overrated, underachieving Williams. He traded the 3rd round pick, number 68, to the Jets. There was still a ton of talent on the board at pick 68. The Giants could have drafted OT, Josh Jones, Houston, OT, Jonah Jackson, Ohio State, or Zach Baun, OLB-Edge. These players were ranked 14, 40, and 42 on Pro Football Focus’ big board of the top 250 prospects. I would have taken Baun given that after OL it was the Giants’ greatest need. All these players were tremendous values at number 68, but no, no soup for you, Giants fans!
The Giants take Matt Peart, OL at pick 99 from U Conn. This is a good pick as Gettleman is doubling down on the OL. Peart played 4 years at UConn and played 2 years both at right and left tackle. This is good because he can ultimately be the RT when Thomas moves to LT next year. (There are some who think Solder should go to RT this year). Peart has some of the longest arms ever at 36.6+”. A great trait for the line. He is unlike 1st round pick in the 2013 draft, Justin Pugh. Pugh was another Jerry “Reach” for LT. We quickly found out that with his T-Rex arms he was destined for a career at guard. Six offensive linemen went in the first 11 picks in 2013. Pugh was the 7th offensive lineman and was a big drop-off from the first six. Jerry did not move up but he still wanted an offensive lineman, so Pugh was it. I would have taken linebacker, Alec Ogletree there. However, Jerry did not believe in drafting linebackers. We ended up getting him later in his career when the juice was out of the squeeze. Peart is a strong run blocker but has a wide base in pass protection. Hopefully, he will be coached up in pass protection or he will be the next Ereck Flowers. I think overall he will be a strong player for the Gmen and a good pick.
With their fourth pick and 110 overall, the Giants selected Darnay Holmes. Cornerback, ULCA. He has flashed, but he had a better 2017 & 2018 than he did in 2019. This is an OK pick. He needs NFL coaching that many need. He has talent. However, this pick is an indictment on secondary. Based on Holmes’ height of 5’10” and short arms he is probably headed to be a nickel corner. In the “Prophet’s Point After” that I write on Mondays after all the Sunday games, I coined the Giant’s corners last year as the “Killer B’s”: Baker, Ballentine, and Beal. This was a get-well defense in 2019 for quarterbacks who had a bad week the week before coming into a Giants game. Aaron Rodgers got smoked last year 37-8 by the 49ers the week before they played the Giants. No problem, he threw for 4 touchdowns in a snowstorm at the Meadowlands the next week. Hopefully with all these defensive back picks and bringing in Bradberry, the coverage has to be better. The $64,000 question is can they generate enough pass rush with this roster. As I said earlier in this manifesto that I would have taken Antonino Gandy Golden at this spot. I want a piece of the pie of one of the deepest wide receiver classes in history. With the Giants injury history, I am not placing my fate in the hands of a bust, Corey Coleman, for depth.
With the 5th pick, Gettleman selected Shane Lemieux, OG, Oregon. He tripled down on the OL. No one is going to accuse him of ignoring it again. This is a good pick unlike what we have experienced in the past. The rest of the draft picks this year are special teams or role contributors. Lemieux played mainly at left guard at Oregon. He is a little stiff and has had problems in pass protection. However, he has some good potential for a backup role and will give the Giants something they have not had and that is depth at the OL.
The rest of the four are round picks are dart throws that the Giants hope works out. Carter Coughlin, OLB, Minnesota (7th round, 218th pick) is the most interesting pick. He had a better 2018 than in 2019. He may not be able to beat NFL level tackles given his skill set. He is not really an edge rusher because he is too small at 236 with small arms of 31.4”. He has potential. Gettleman hopes he can develop on the outside to add depth to their greatest position of need.
Cam Brown, Linebacker, Penn State, (6th round, 183rd pick) also has some potential. He is raw and needs coaching up. He misses tackles and balance is an issue. However, he has the versatility and can play in the box at corner or as a defensive end at times. I’m sure Judge loves his versatility as that is the Patriots Way.
TJ Brunson, LB, South Carolina (7th round, pick 238), Chris Williamson, DB, Minnesota (7th round, pick 247) and Tae Crowder (7th round, pick 255) are projects that hopefully can make the practice squad or be special teams players if they make the team at all. Crowder is Mr. Irrelevant as the last person drafted in 2020.
The team roster is in place. The problem for the Giants in this pandemic is that there was no offseason program, and other live activities are limited or cut. This is a big problem for rookie coach Joe Judge. You can only do so much on Zoom. There is no doubt, the veteran teams with stable rosters and coaches have a tremendous advantage this year. Teams fitting this bill to name a few are the Chiefs, Saints, 49ers, and Ravens.
To make things worse the schedule is brutal. The Giants play the NFC West and the AFC North. The Giants are a 5- or 6-win team this year based on what we know today. Vegas has them at 6 or 6.5 wins. If you can get 6.5 take the under ASAP. I was going to go with 5 but, I’ll give one more win because of Judge and the Patriots Way. You have to say that unless there are any injuries or high turnovers by the opposition, the Giants will lose to the Steelers, 49ers, @Dallas, (Dallas plays much better at home), Buccaneers, Eagles, @Eagles (Philly owns the Giants, 20-4 record last 24), @Seattle, Cardinals (Was Cardinals 14-0 before you sat down last year in last year’s game) and Ravens. That’s 9 losses. The Giants will win against the Redskins once and the Bengals. The other 4 wins will come from the Redskins, Bears, Rams, Dallas, and Browns. I just don’t know what team will beat them, probably Bears or Browns.
In summary, the worst is behind the Giants. The “Decade of Malaise” is over. This year will be very difficult given the upheaval with the pandemic. However, everything points to 2021. The Giants need to fill the remaining holes next year. The greatest need is at pass rush. Beyond that they will need depth at all the rest of the positions. I am expecting the playoffs in 2021. They will have the 3rd or 4th place schedule next year. Don’t sleep on the Redskins this year. With the addition of Young their front 7 is stout. Rivera is a good coach especially on defense. I EXPECT 10-11 wins in 2021. Jones will have to prove his worth. He showed flashes of brilliance especially against some bad pass defenses like Detroit last year. The turnovers have to go. If you are -2 in turnover ratio, you have less than a 20% chance to win. I think Garrett will try to run more. You will see more 12 personnel. That’s why they brought in Toilolo to block. Barkley is their greatest asset and they will use him to take pressure off Jones. Jones checks down the ball less than Eli. He may have to learn that because he holds onto the ball too long. The OL is improved. There should be no excuses there for once in a long time. Garrett also likes to take shots down the field and they have the weapons, if healthy, to make it happen. Jones should be able to pad his stats as they should be behind in many of these games as they try to catch up. He has to be careful vs nickel & dime packages when the defense knows he has to pass.
Follow me on Twitter @TonytheProphet for constant comments all year especially during games. Look for my Giants pre game prediction and write up in “The Prophet’s Pulpit” and my post game analysis on Mondays in the “Prophet’s Point After” every week in season. I appreciate any good, bad or ugly comments about this Manifesto on Twitter. Thanks for the feedback.