Exit of an Insider

We pounded the table for the NY Giants to bring in an Outsider GM to clean up the mess. Yesterday, we got a breath of fresh air. Chris Pettit, Director of College Scouting, was fired. These are people’s careers and livelihoods. Yet from everything we knew and heard, we certainly are not surprised, and frankly we welcome the change. Out with the old, in with the new. Out with the old scouts who were not adding value, and in with the new people from outside the organization who will win with merit.

Pettit had a few problems. Problem #1, he did not pass the smell test.

Note the date. This was before Schoen or any other candidate was interviewed for the GM job. Just imagine if Gettleman (or an insider) was still there. Pettit would still be there.

Problem #2, he was apparently an employee with questionable integrity.

Problem #3- there are reports he was a leaker of NYG drafting intentions. I will wait on more evidence before saying anything additional, but suffice it to say that there were enough reasons already without that cherry on the sh*tcake.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Joe Schoen is not doing the same things anymore. The Giants needed an outsider desperately and this is part of the tangible change that is afoot. Of course the franchise will have to return to winning ways. Schoen couldn’t just bring in a new scouting staff in January with the Combine and Draft a few months away. Turnover of the scouting staff has started and it will (perhaps more quietly) continue in coming months. Good. Meaningful change. An end to the dysfunction. Onward.

Recap of 2022 NFL Draft

We go to our Draft analyst Wonder for his brutally honest evaluation of how teams did. This being a Giants blog, let’s discuss the Gmen first. No matter what the Giants did in Day 2 and Day 3, Day 1 was so stupendous that that alone gave them a fantastic draft. Unfortunately, he did not like what they did in Day 2 and Day 3, so by not adding to the monstrous Day 1, they ended up with a terrific draft but it was not as good as it could have been.

Thibodeaux and Neal were so incredible. The Giants essentially got the best Tackle and arguably the best EDGE pass rusher (who is also going to be excellent in sealing the EDGE). Neal has the potential to be an All-Pro Tackle for year after year after year. Jacksonville needed to take Ekwonu to protect Lawrence. Detroit, in his opinion, should have taken Thibodeaux (or Walker if the Jaguars did the right thing). These things make it harder for the Giants to get both Neal and Thibodeaux. Do they take Neal and then what does Carolina do at 1.06- do they take Cross? Not clear. It creates risk Thibodeaux is not there at 1.07. We do not have to care. The point is that the Giants made out crazy good.

Wonder was disappointed in Day 2 and Day 3. We added italics to the previous post to add comments on Ezeudu and Flott. Summarized, he thought better players and better opportunities were there for them. R2 they got a good WR in Robinson, but was that helping a team with Toney? In Round 3 it was weaker, as Dean was still there and the injury is a pectoral. This is not an ACL. This is not a deal breaker. Ruckert (among others) was there too, but not taken. Ezeudu is ok but not much that gets him excited. Flott is given the kabash, called “jag” (aka just a guy). It may be anecdotal, and I hope I am wrong, but when Wonder calls a later round selection a jag, I cannot recall that player developing into a noteworthy contributor. Their Round 4-6 picks had enough bites of the apple but there was nothing from there to get overly excited about. “Beavers has good value as long as he’s not asked to cover downfield. Bellinger is ok. The rest are reaches/projects. Poor use of later rounds.”

Wonder is objective. He is not the final say on any player. He gets it wrong some of the time. “There are things I do not know that these teams are afforded… interviews and an assessment of desire are things I lack on many players. What does the player do with his time, on the field and off the field. Does he hit the weight room with zeal and abandon? How does he prepare as a professional? How does he respond to coaching? Do the coaches put him in a position to succeed? Much of my assessment is what I see on film. The rest is up to the player and the situation. But this is why I am looking for talent and potential (in later rounds) so that if the rest of the pieces come together, you have something.” It is worth pointing out that in the last few years, there really was only one later round Giants draft prospect that Wonder was really excited about on the day he was picked…

Given the Giants WR has nearly 2000 yds receiving and 13 TDs despite injuries, it is a big hit in Round 5. What does this mean? Merely that all else equal, we’d rather see a selection excite our Draft analyst than otherwise.

So who did well for the entire Draft, soup to nuts, Day 1, 2 and 3 together? The answer might shock you.

The NY Jets.

“As strange and unusual as it is for me to say this, my team, the lovable loser NY Jets, had the #1 Draft in the NFL this year,” admits Wonder. “Top to bottom they did great. They got the best CB (Gardner). They got one of the best WRs (preferred London, who was taken ahead of them, but Wilson will be excellent). They traded back into Round 1 at 1.26 to get Jermaine Johnson, which was sensational. I love his motor and I had him the 6th ranked player in the entire draft, ahead of Hutchinson. They got Breece Hall, the best RB in the draft. They got Ruckert, who I like at TE. This was a better fit for the Giants than the Jets because of what the Jets did in the offseason, but he is still a solid prospect who can easily develop into a solid pro. They got Mitchell at Tackle, who will back up Fant and Becton and who I believe can be a starter in time. And they got Clemons, who is raw but has all the physical potential to develop into a starting EDGE.” Essentially, there was not a single throwaway pick. Every player taken has an opportunity to be a starter down the road; some obviously will be starting sooner, but the entire class is impressive.

Who had the second best Draft? “The Eagles,” says Wonder. “Davis is a monster. They traded away the 1.18 for AJ Brown, who is a proven premier Wide Receiver. Plus he is 24 years old and has been re-signed. In Round 2, they took Jurgens at Center, who is a great fit for them because he can play Guard this year and then move over to Center when Kelce retires. And they won the Nakobe Dean lottery.” Pound for pound, that is a great draft.

Another team who did very very well is Baltimore. “… but in a different type of way,” explains Wonder. “Their draft is more developmental. So this is a great draft for the future, not for today.”

Wonder also liked the Indianapolis and KC drafts.

Who did the worst? “That would be New England,” explained Wonder. “I think Belichick has lost his mind. First off, even the Rams head coach laughed out loud about their Round 1 pick, whom McVay was looking at with the 104th pick. And it went downhill from there. Every player they took was a round too high, a reach for where they went, so they squandered value. Could the players they took be something? Of course. But it was a terrible cumulative effort.”

Summary: Great Draft for the Giants. Less than we wanted in Day 2-3, but Neal and Thibodeaux can be huge pieces to a resurgence, and players like Robinson and maybe Ezeudu and Beavers may be able to pitch in down the road. The Jets and Eagles did great.

NYG 2022 Draft: Day 2 Recap

After the buzz of Day 1, where the Giants absolutely destroyed it, I admit it is somewhat anticlimactic to be reviewing these players. Yet you also know that the Blog LOVES Round 2 and we recognize that you make your team in this part of the Draft. These are the people who become solid starters.

Our infatuation with Joe Schoen got off to an amazing start yesterday, when he arguably selected the best Offensive Tackle and Edge Defender in the entire 2022 class. The new GM did even more to win our affections, trading down from 2.36 to 2.38, collecting the 5.146. Then, he traded down again to 2.43 and collected the 4.114 pick. Ladies and Gents, these R4 and R5 picks do not grow on trees. Each time we got some additional value. With the 2.43, the NY Giants selected WR Wan’dale Robinson. Some indicated that he was projected to go in R3/R4, implying it was a reach and bad value. Not our draft analyst, Wonder…

“Underrated Prospect. I like him. And the guys I trust like him too. He is a potential steal. Can be a playmaker. Has a very good chance to succeed. Basically when you line him up in the slot and give him an option route, he is going to go one direction and he will be unguardable. So this is reasonable value for Round 2. He has a quick twitch, a fast and explosive guy. He is like a faster version of Julian Edelman with real speed, except not as thick or strong. Good hands, a burner, jitterbug, small.”

Shepard tore his ACL last season so the Giants are probably getting some insurance. Given Kadarius Toney’s reported baggage (not putting in requisite effort last year in preparation/meetings etc), it is another reason for depth. While I am not enamored of the “toys,” at least this WR came in Round 2. I have a kind spot in my heart for the Amani Toomers, Sterling Shepards, and Steve Smiths who put their heads downs and win games for you. This is a reminder of so much evidence not to draft WRs in Round 1.

Next, the Giants selected G Joshua Ezeudu with the 3.67 pick. “Reasonable,” says the UltimateNYG analyst. We wanted the Giants to hit OL hard. We know that Round 2 did not lend itself to selecting a lot of vg value there, as OLmen like Tyler Linderbaum and G Kenyon Green were long gone. It makes sense that the Gmen returned to this position, and we are glad they did. Added Saturday afternoon, Wonder: Ezeudu is ok, but there were other players I preferred. His ceiling is somewhere between a replaceable starter and a solid starter.

At. 3.81 the Giants selected CB Cordale Flott. These last 2 picks were in a position of need.

Added Saturday afternoon, Wonder: “JAG.” (Just a guy. Can make, cannot, not in love with the pick.)

THIB + NEAL = MONSTER DRAFT

What a fantastic draft day.

Do I really need to write this blog post up? Some days it just writes itself. What are the 3 things we preach over and over in terms of NFL architecture?

QB
Protect QB
Rush the QB

And in terms of allocating Draft resources, if you are picking so high at 1.05 and 1.07, you need to be leveraging those picks for those 3 things or else you Trade Down.

The Giants got a Royal Flush. They were helped out immensely by the mistakes of the top 4 selecting teams, and we will walk through those later. But first, let’s go THIBODEAUX.

4-3 Defensive End Kayvon Thibodeaux may be the best player in the Draft. Wonder ranked him 4th best if only because of questions about his intensity… was he holding back to stay healthy for the Draft? No matter, because the NFL is here, he has immense talent, and “if he plays with all out abandon he will be scary good.” Wonder asterisked Thib, asking whoever selected him to do their homework. No one outworks Joe Schoen. I am fairly certain that Schoen did the due diligence on Thibodeaux. Where Gettleman failed on the due diligence numerous times, I am betting that Schoen has checked the box. Why? Because Schoen’s reputation to this point is meticulous when it comes to these matters. The Giants grilled him. They did “EXTENSIVE RESEARCH” on him. The NFL grilled him. Assuming the Giants are satisfied with his character/desire, the sky’s the limit. UPSIDE MYLES GARRETT.

Addendum… the Giants actually employed a SMOKE SCREEN! OMG, the Giants played poker! The transparency is over. There is a new sheriff in town and his name is Joe Schoen.

Offensive Tackle Evan Neal is “impossible to get around” him on the pass rush. 6′ 7 1/2″ 337 lbs. When Thibodeaux is next to him, Thibs looks like a munchkin. Big, terrific movement for a guy his size. Grade ‘A’ Offensive Tackle. We graded Ekwonu the #1 Offensive Tackle and Neal the #1A Offensive Tackle. So the Gmen got a premier Offensive Lineman. UPSIDE TRENT WILLIAMS.

Smoke screen Part 2. We heard about how the Giants were high on Cross at Tackle. Cross is a terrific prospect and will make a very good OLman. But the Giants took Neal over Cross. More finesse. Good. Maybe the days of the media tipping the Giants’ hand are finally over. Maybe an Outsider named Joe Schoen KNEW what the other NFL teams knew, that the Giants were open book and that it had to stop. No more getting fronted for the Floyds and Conklins and Smiths.

PROTECT QB: ANDREW THOMAS + EVAN NEAL
RUSH THE QB: KAYVON THIBODEAUX + AZEEZ OJULARI

This is how you build a football team. Tremendous Draft.

Wonder: “Before the season, Kayvon Thibodeaux was the premier pass rusher and arguably the number one draft prospect for 2022. He has the ability to be All-Pro for a number of years. So to get that at 1.05 overall, that is worth whatever risk there was. Evan Neal has the ability to be the number one pass protector and number one road grader in this year’s Draft. So the Giants potentially may have collected the best pass rusher, pass protector and road grader in one evening. Incredible Draft.”

How did the Giants get their cake and eat it? 4 teams who went before them made their own mistakes, some bigger than others.
JAC took Travon Walker. He was #1 on our board, and a DE pass rusher with the most upside of anyone in the Draft. Yet you just took Trevor Lawrence. Protect him. Take an Offensive Tackle. If they do that, it tightens the choices the Giants can make.
DET took Aidan Hutchinson. Yes, an EDGE. But enough risk. Wonder estimates there is a 20% chance he busts. And at 1.02 there should be zero chance of that kind of floor. 80% that the Lions did fine. But I would have been less enamored with Hutchinson than I am with Thibodeaux.
HOU showed continuing dysfunction by taking the injury risk + CB positional value destruction of Derek Stingley. Wrong position. Wrong player. Wrong spot in the Draft. Wrong. Of course Stingley will be a terrific player if healthy, but there is risk. And we maintain that CB is not worthy of 1.03 unless you know he is a shutdown CB.
NYJ took Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. They took the better CB but they still blew positional value at this spot. Ralph Vacchiano had the Giants taking Gardner with one of their picks (probably the 1.07). Give me the pass rusher. (The Jets atoned later, trading back into R1 for Edge Jermaine Johnson at 1.26.)

So this is how the Red Sea parted for the Gmen. No Offensive Linemen were taken when it came time for them to pick at 1.05. They could have Traded down, which I actually preferred, because they would still get a terrific Offensive Tackle. OR, they could seal their own fate at 1.07 by (themselves) taking a non-Tackle at 1.05 (Thibodeaux) and then leaving themselves with the choice of Ekwonu or Neal at 1.07. The Panthers took Ekwonu, the Giants took Neal, and that is textbook for how you draft. Later, it was disclosed by Schoen that is exactly how they played it, as they saw risk after Thibodeaux was gone, so with 3 Tackles, they could pause there at 1.05, take the EDGE first and clean up at Tackle after Carolina was done. Well played.

Here is a metaphor for you. On the last play of the Super Bowl, Jamarr Chase has beaten Jalen Ramsey, arguably the best CB in the game, and he is wide open for a 60 yard TD to win the game. Except the Rams pass rush, with an overloaded right side of Miller and Donald, sack the QB and Burrow cannot get the ball out to his WR. Sure, I am cherry picking. How about another huge moment. This time it is the 2011 post season, NY Giants vs GB Packers, and Aaron Rodgers has Greg Jennings wide open (minute 6:59 to minute 7:28) for a TD, having beaten Aaron Ross. Except Osi Umenyiora strips the ball before Rodgers can make the throw. Protect the QB. Rush the QB.

I just went back through every Round 1 of the NY Giants. Wonder and I will both go on the record saying this is the best Round 1 since 1981 when they took Lawrence Taylor. Of course there is a lot of football that Mr. Thibodeaux and Mr. Neal have to play. Mark it down.

The NY Giants took two GIANT STEPS TO PROTECT QB and RUSH THE QB. Thibodeaux. Neal. Fantastic.