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?
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.