Wonder 2021 Draft

No, it’s not the Top 50. We are spoiled. This year, between not having a Combine for uniform comps and logistical hurdles, we are unable to bring a Top 50. We hope to deliver that next year. BUT… we still are able to add some decent color on a lot of players.

“This is not a top-heavy draft. There are TWO players that really ‘wow’ me,” says the UltimateNYG Draft Analyst. “They are Trevor Lawrence and Kyle Pitts. Pitts is just a freak. It is crazy what he is able to do.” No one else is really worthy of a very high pick, beyond of course the QBs, who always get picked high because of their positional importance. The only other player that really is impressive is Ja’Marr Chase, and even there he has to go to the right team to leverage his assets. All of this is to reinforce the decision for the Giants to TRADE DOWN. Of course if there is someone you really like at 1.11, go ahead and take him. But this draft’s strength is later in Round 1, toward the latter third or even the end of the Round.

  1. QB Trevor Lawrence
  2. TE Kyle Pitts
  3. WR Ja’Marr Chase
  4. T Penei Sewell
  5. QB Zach Wilson
  6. CB Jaycee Horn
  7. QB Justin Fields
  8. QB Trey Lance
  9. WR Jaylen Waddle
  10. T Rashawn Slater/CB Patrick Surtain

Wonder did look into Offensive Linemen in this year’s draft because of his interest for both the Giants and the Jets. He really prefers the Giants to trade down. Assuming Sewell is not there at 1.11, he’d like to see the Giants trade down to ~1.20 with the Bears and see who is available among:
T Rashawn Slater (most likely gone)
T Teven Jenkins
T Christian Darrisaw
EDGE Kwity Paye
… and if all 4 of those are gone by 1.20 (doubtful, but possible), trade down again OR take
C Creed Humphrey

Wonder loves Teven Jenkins. If his Jets can get him at 1.23, he’d be thrilled. MAULER! Dollar for dollar, this is probably one of the big value players for Wonder in this draft. It would be somewhat frightening for the Jets to have Becton at LT and Tevin Jenkins at RT. For the Giants, if Peart does not work out, Jenkins is there, and if Peart works out, you have a 10 year MAULER GUARD WHO CAN MOVE TO TACKLE FOR DEPTH.

Another idea is to move back further to the end of Round 1… 1.28-1.32. There is a list of players Wonder likes for the Giants in this area of the draft:
C Creed Humphrey
LB Zaven Collins
– “Best all around LBer in the Draft”
EDGE Azeez Ojulari
CB Greg Newsome
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
T/G Alijah Vera-Tucker
T Jalen Mayfield
RB Najee Harris
(less so for the Giants because of need)
C Landon Dickerson (* as long as medical checks out, if not, pass)

In Round 2 – Round 3:
T Jackson Carman – R3 value, Clemson Road Grader, short arms, but like him in a phone booth
G Wyatt Davis – VG pass protector, plug and play right now
G Aaron Banks – Notre Dame, huge, long arms, VG as run blocker, can use massive size as leverage, POTENTIAL here is significant, upside is intriguing so a lot of value in R3.
T Alex Leatherwood – yah yah, I know he’s going higher, but I would wait until 2.50’s, sorry, that is where I take him.
T Dillon Radunz – Tough, Strong, Steal in Round 3.
T Sam Cosmi – Moves real well, yes others have him higher but not taking him until R3.

Injury Comments:
EDGE Jaelan Phillips – He has great potential but I cannot speculate on the medical risk, so I am not taking him high.
CB Caleb Farley – might be a star, but I do not take players with back problems in Round 1.

There was buzz about the workout numbers of Jayson Oweh. Wonder did not bite. “I need to see more of it on the field to take him in Round 1. At least I know Kwity Paye is going to be a good football player.”

We really focused on the Offensive Linemen because when you consider that the Giants have WRs in Golladay, Shepard, Slayton, Ross and RB Barkley and TE Rudolph/Engram, keep drafting Offensive Linemen. A dozen names here. Go get’em. Trade down and get more of them!

Round 1 Draft Data: OT vs WR

We have ranted incessantly about why it is better to draft Offensive Tackle instead of Wide Receiver in Round 1. We have given many reasons. Now we have another set of DATA that supports and demonstrates why it is far better to take the Tackle.

Since starting this blog in November of 2006, one of the primary “Rules to Winning in the NFL” was NOT to draft Wide Receiver in Round 1. I contended that “they are always available.” I have butted heads on this rule with the UltimateNYG draft analyst Wonder mildly– he agrees with the Rule, but wants to spell out the difference in his Julio Jones 6’3″ 220 lb ‘monster’ exception. He agrees that Offensive Tackle is better, but he wants to make the distinction that if he can get the full package of size, speed, and skills, he will take that rare WR. Essentially, if a WR is a 6’0″ tall 200 lb prospect (like Beckham or some of the other coveted prospects this year), he has considerably less interest and would rather wait until the end of Round 1, or Round 2 & Round 3. I, on the other hand, go back to first principles:

  1. QB / Protect QB / Rush the QB
  2. Very good Wide Receivers are always available in Free Agency, Round 2 & Round 3, and via Trade

Right now, there is a debate going on between Giants fans on Twitter between T Rashawn Slater and WRs Ja’Marr Chase and WR Jaylen Waddle.

The problem with my proclamation is that I need the data to support the conclusion that Wide Receivers are always available. I knew this anecdotally, ie guys like…
Amari Cooper, Odell Beckham, and Brandin Cooks get traded
AJ Brown, Terry McLaurin, DK Metcalf, Tee Higgins and Chase Claypool are available in Round 2+3

We went back to the 2011+ Draft when the new Collective Bargaining Agreement was done, which gave NFL GMs the 5th year option on their Round 1 draft picks. This is an objective measure stretching from 2011-2017 for how these picks perform. Additionally, we looked to see whether they were still with the team that drafted them.

210402 Tackle vs WR in Round 1_PICTURE

The data supports the contention that all else equal, you build your franchise around these players. That is pretty stark that 43% of draft picks in Round 1 taken at Tackle are still with their original team. And the Wide Receivers are nearly ALL GONE. Let’s list them for emphasis.

Offensive Tackles still with the team that originally drafted them: Tyron Smith, Anthony Castonzo, Lane Johnson, Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan, Brandon Scherff, Andrus Peat, DJ Humphries, Ronnie Stanley, Taylor Decker, Garett Bolles, and Ryan Ramczyk.

The threadbare Wide Receiver survivors? Julio Jones, Mike Evans, Devante Parker and Mike Williams. 

We have argued that when you have assembled weapons like Golladay (btw, another Round 3 guy), Slayton, Shepard, Barkley, and Rudolph, why get yet another WR when you can keep Daniel Jones upright so that he can use these weapons??!! The way to leverage the skill players is to control the Line of Scrimmage. PROTECT QB.    

The next time you hear an argument for a Round 1 Wide Receiver, remember it is not only what you get, but how long you keep them as the long term foundation of your franchise. Take the Offensive Tackle. It is not even close.    

QB Pressure

We have distilled football success down to 3 key elements:

1) QB

2) Protect QB

3) Rush the QB

How can it be that simple? Of course there are plenty of other bodies on the football field. And you can’t win without 53 guys and solid coaching. But in today’s NFL if you can’t do those 3 things well, it really doesn’t matter what else is going on with your team. Everything else is in service of your core: QB, Protect QB, Rush the QB.

All decisions flow from those 3 elements. If you’re drafting in the top 10-20 spots in the draft, the best value is going to be QB, T, and EDGE. And if the draft isn’t providing you with one of those 3 options, trade down. If I hear one more time, ‘well, there may not be a good enough trade at that spot,’ my answer is- there are roughly 40-60 trades of draft picks from year to year AND the Giants organization has not traded DOWN in 15 years. Last year there were 25 trades made on the day of the draft alone. So stop apologizing for the disinterest and lack of understanding of this avenue from this franchise’s leadership.

Note how Free Agency does not easily present good, young, QB’s T’s and EDGE rushers. GMs have generally figured out these priorities. When you look at the pay scale, their dollars have certainly figured this out. GMs don’t let the 3 key elements come to the market (if they are any good) after their first contract. Look at the top 5 paid positions in the NFL. It reinforces the critical need to get those players early in the draft when you can.

QB pressures allowed by the Giants OL this past season, by game:

PIT 20 CHI 6 SF 11 LAR 11
DAL 17 WAS 9 PHI 9 TB 17
WAS 12 PHI 8 CIN 6 SEA 6
AZ 14 CLE 9 BAL 20 DAL 7

That totals 182 pressures. When you divide that by pass attempts, Giant pressures allowed this past season were the 2nd worst in the NFL. We admittedly got optimistic after the SEA win, saying the worst was behind the team. It starts with QB and protecting the QB. So what do the last 4 games of the season mean? They are a reminder that much work needs to be done.

Source: ProFootballReference.com

A) Zeitler, the best lineman on the Giants last year, is gone.
B) Thomas played hurt. How good will he be if he plays w/o injury?
C) Peart was up and down. Can he become the bookend to Thomas?
D) Lemieux was the worst ranked Guard in PFF’s rankings last season.
E) Hernandez is currently a bust. Can off-season training and new coaches salvage his career?
F) Can new coaches develop NY Giants’ OL draft prospects?
G) Can time enable these prospects to come together as a unit and play better than the sum of their parts?

This unit is still the weakest link. Solder is mostly on the tail, so the rest of the line is very young. Given that PFF graded them #31 in the NFL and their QB pressures allowed % also had them at #31 in the NFL, there is a lot of improvement needed. Some argue that w skill players (Golladay et al) giving Jones better options, this will help the OL. To a degree, yes. But most of the work will lay squarely on these men to improve.

DO NOT RELY ON WHAT IS THERE. KEEP DRAFTING OFFENSIVE LINE HARD. THREE MORE OL DRAFT PICKS. COMPETITION. DEPTH. MORE IS BETTER. THERE ARE TOO MANY QUESTIONS (stated above). SHEER NUMBERS WILL SOLVE THE PROBLEM. And if the solution is already present, what’s the harm in having depth when injuries invariably happen?! Fix the OL for good. Zeitler’s position needs to be replaced. Hernandez + Lemieux are 1 (and maybe 2) roster spots. Solder’s in the last year of his aging contract. And let’s get some insurance on Peart. That’s 4 reasons to draft more bodies. A lot more.

Joe Klecko

What in the world is a NY Giants blogger doing, writing about a NY Jets Defensive Lineman? It all started yesterday, when Troy Aikman went off the deep end with his man crush on Aaron Donald.

“I played against Reggie White, I played against Lawrence Taylor…and I gotta tell you, this Aaron Donald is the best defensive player that I’ve ever seen. He’s really remarkable – he should be the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and I think he should be getting some votes for MVP of the entire league…he’s that good.” – Hall of Fame QB Troy Aikman.

If you want to stir up a hornet’s nest, tell Giants fans that there is a better defensive player than Lawrence Taylor. Giants fans glow about their 4 hallowed Super Bowl victories. But they pray at the altar of their deliverer, Lawrence Taylor. You mess with Taylor, you mess with all of us. It is about respect. And truth. We know the truth about Taylor. He was the best defensive player we saw and we do not like it when anyone touches that.

When this happened, I reached out to the UltimateNYG Draft Analyst, Wonder, for his thoughts on where Aaron Donald ranked in terms of all-time Defensive players. We started out by simply listing the great Interior Defensive Linemen.

Putting a guy like Aaron Donald in perspective with the greats of all time is part of appreciating the players that came before Donald. There will be players that come after Donald too. Decades from now, people will want to defend his play, just like Giants fans want to defend Taylor’s today.

Look back at that list of Defensive Tackles, and tell me the one player that just does not make any sense. It is Joe Klecko. Here we are talking about the greatest Defensive Linemen to ever play the game, guys like Mean Joe Greene, Bob Lilly and Randy White (who tormented my Giants teams when I was growing up). And Joe Klecko is one of Wonder’s greats of all time.

Yet Klecko is not in the Hall of Fame.

I’ve heard this one before. So I started digging. And what I found was startling.

Everybody knows about Wide Receivers, Running backs, and Quarterbacks. Why? Because we watch the ball and that’s where the ball goes. Some of us watch Defensive Ends and Left Tackles because those elite players can change the outcome of a game. But Guards, Centers, and Interior Defensive Linemen literally and figuratively get lost in the wash. How do we truly know who are the great ones? Add an interior Defensive Lineman on someone else’s team, and it is mostly an empty shrug. The first person we turned to was Wonder.

“First of all, before we get to Klecko, let’s make one thing clear about Taylor. He was the best defensive player in the history of the game, and it is not even close. He changed the game. For Aikman to say what he said is incorrect. Perhaps that comment reflects that Aikman missed the first 8 years of Superman’s career. Taylor changed the way that offenses had to prepare for defenses. Offenses are concerned about Aaron Donald, as he is a terrific player (on my short list of Interior DLmen). He is a disruptor. But no one has ever put the fear of God into a QB like Lawrence Taylor. He terrorized opposing QBs. And they knew it. This also affected their play, adding even further impact to what he did on the field, ” said Wonder, UltimateNYG’s Draft analyst.

Wonder returns to his inclusion of Klecko on the shortlist of Interior DLmen: “Let’s talk about Klecko. Joe Klecko was a beast. He was great from Day 1. When Gastineau came along and collected a ton of sacks, it was because opposing Defenses had to double Klecko. Not many people know this, but Klecko was a Pro Bowler at NOT ONE, NOT TWO, BUT THREE different positions. Defensive End, Defensive Tackle, and Nose Tackle. People will marvel at how the elite Defensive Linemen like JJ Watt and Aaron Donald can line up almost anywhere. Well, Klecko lined up everywhere, and he killed it everywhere.”

The next place to go is to find out what the elite players of his era that played with & against Klecko said about him. This was when I knew I had to write a piece on this guy. It is nuts.

Let’s set the table. Who is Wonder’s best Guard of All-Time? It is John Hannah, and it is not even close. Now remember, Wonder is a diehard Jets fan, so for him to call a Patriot the best of all time is RESPECT. Hannah played Guard for New England from 1973 to 1985. Klecko played on the other side of the line of scrimmage from 1977 to 1988. They overlapped for 9 years. And since they were in the same division, that meant Hannah saw Klecko probably as much as anyone in the NFL.

“He was there, every play, all day long. Strong as anything, if he ever got under you, he was going to plow you right back into the Quarterback. And he was just off the ball quick. The combination of speed and quickness.. and having that strength…to go along with it, was just something you really had to contend with. The two guys in my mind that were the best all around that I ever played in front of were Howie Long and Joe Klecko. Not having Joe in the Hall of Fame is really kind of a slur against the Hall of Fame.” – Hall of Fame G John Hannah.

In a radio clip below (skip to minute 8:30 to find the question), Hannah is asked if he could put up one player into the Hall of Fame, no questions asked. ‘The Best Guard Ever’ did not flinch. It is a fun interview to get the veteran’s views on Alabama, Training Camp, the NFL today, and other areas of football. This interview took place in 2016 well before the 100th Anniversary HOF push of 2019, so there was no agenda for Hannah. It makes his words even more earnest, if that is possible.

How about another peer from the same era who had to face Klecko twice a year, every year, year after? How about the words of Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure. DeLamielleure played Guard for the Buffalo Bills from 1973 to 1985, the same period as Hannah, and also faced Klecko in his division for 9 years.

“I had Joe Greene and Merlin Olsen. I put Joe (Klecko) right in there with them. He was a great player. The difference between Joe and all the players you played against, he never took a play off. Ever. It was all-out.

“His significance to the Jets is he made them a better team. He made the players around him better. Joe got 20 sacks in one season. 20.5 sacks! You gotta be kidding me. Somebody will say, well what position did he play? He DOMINATED at three. If you played baseball and you played first base, second base, and short stop, and he was All-Pro at all of them, would he not be in the Hall of Fame? If he played Power Forward, Point Guard and Center in basketball, would he not be in the Hall of Fame? We got to right this wrong. It’s going to be one of my happiest days when he gets in the Hall of Fame.” – Hall of Fame G Joe DeLamielleure.

Let’s stay in the AFC East and hear the words of a third Hall of Famer from Miami who saw him twice a year every year, completely overlapping careers with Klecko….

“You watched him and were amazed by the way he played the game. He was a dominating and devastating lineman. He really was. No one played the game better than him. Joe Klecko hands down needs to be in the Hall of Fame.” – Hall of Fame C Dwight Stephenson.

John Hannah mentioned Klecko along side of Howie Long, another Hall of Famer from the Defensive Line. This time we get the perspective of a football player who played on the same side of the ball, who deeply understood what his peer faced and what he was able to accomplish.

“It was an incredible accomplishment to be dominant at one position in the NFL in your career. But to be dominant at 3 positions?! 20.5 sacks in 1981 (before sacks were recognized as a statistic), they are probably throwing the ball, I am not sure about the percentages, but they are throwing the ball a lot more now, we are throwing the ball at every level of football more. So that number is even more impressive in 1981 than it would be now. His just pure raw strength. His quickness off the ball. It was not about finesse. It was not about being slick. For Joe it was simple. You know what I am going to do. I know what you are going to do. And stop me if you can. There have been a number of players who have been dominant in their era, who in my mind warranted consideration and induction into the Hall of Fame. And I think it is time for Joe Klecko to get that nod. I really believe that.” – Hall of Fame DT Howie Long.

“I played against Joe Klecko several times. To me, in my humble opinion, he is one of the best and should be in. The Hall of Fame would be in a lot better standing with a guy like Joe in it.” – Hall of Fame LT Anthony Muñoz.

In a video clip below, Klecko is noted as a team player who did not grab the spotlight. He is tossing QBs around like rag dolls, just like Taylor used to do.

What is interesting about Klecko’s statistics are that he only played Defensive End for 3 seasons. In a 12 year career, that meant he was only on the edge collecting sacks in a significant capacity for 25% of his career. In the years he played Defensive End, 1978, 1980 and 1981, the NFL was passing on 47% of plays. Today (the 2019 season’s final stats), the NFL is passing 57% of the time. This works out to be 18% more passing today. Klecko had 74.5 sacks, the first 50.5 of which were uncounted in his first 5 seasons. When you consider when and where he played, it trues up some of the discrepancy in his numbers.

Klecko himself was asked why he is not in the Hall of Fame. He reminded us of some of the lenses that work for (and sometimes against) voters.

“Super Bowl rings and championship success is a big deal in our league. We had a lot of teams that were right there, but for whatever reason, it didn’t work out. Back in my days of playing, the media now is nothing like it was back then. For example, I was playing against a team, I won’t mention teams or names, that had Pro Bowlers on it and they told me, Joe, you’re better than those guys. But the problem is we were 3-13. Back in those days, you get zero news coverage if your team is bad. When we finally made the playoffs, that’s when I made the Pro Bowl. When you play on a good team or in the playoffs you get recognition. Those things matter. If you’re on a bad team in the league today it doesn’t matter because if you’re good enough people will still recognize you. Back when I started that wasn’t the case.” – Defensive Lineman Joe Klecko.

It is really hard for younger people to understand a world without the internet, let alone a world without more than a few television stations. In the 1970s the Jets were terrible, ESPN did not even exist, and that meant a guy named Klecko was invisible. Then they start collecting sack stats right AFTER he switches from End to Tackle. So Klecko goes from invisible team to invisible stats to invisible position. He missed out on the Pro Bowl in his first 4 years. All of a sudden year 5, bamm, he is not only Pro Bowl but All-Pro too? It tells you he was quietly excelling without recognition from 1977-1980 when the Jets won 3, 8, 8 and 4 games. In his rookie year (in the video above), there was already frustration from a veteran Offensive Lineman in not being able to block him. Klecko was invisible to enough HOF voters, but he wasn’t invisible to Hannah, DeLamielleure, Stephenson, or Munoz. When one of your fiercest rivals yearns for your recognition, that is the purest compliment you can receive. Usually it is fellow teammates taking up the mantle for one of their own making it to Canton. What does it say that DeLamielleure, your RIVAL ON A COMPETITING TEAM, demands that Klecko get in?! Respect.

Some Giants fans may be offended that I could put together such a glowing tribute to a New York Jet. For me, this is about truth and objectivity. If you want to defend Lawrence Taylor as the best Defensive Player in history, you also need to speak up when there is any football player who is not being recognized properly. We want the proper respect for Taylor. We want the proper respect for Donald. How good was it when Harry Carson finally got the nod to the Hall? We need to get Joe Klecko into the Hall of Fame so that we can honor truth. Bill Parcells would always bring the media and fans down a level when some new ‘flash in the pan’ would get “great” accolades. “Don’t put him in Canton yet,” said the HOF Coach. It is well past time that Joe Klecko is put in Canton. Respect.