It is has been 10 years since Jerry Reese’s first draft as the General Manager of the New York Giants and the fans of the renowned franchise still remember many key members of the 2007 draft. Aaron Ross, Kevin Boss, Jay Alford, Steve Smith, and Ahmad Bradshaw were all essential parts in conquering the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Heck, Zak DeOssie is still the long snapper for the Giants. I am sure Reese is hoping for his rookies in 2017 to provide the same type of immediate impact that the class of 2007 did. Let’s look at the Giants’ 2017 NFL Draft. You can find my pre-draft analysis of the Giants here:
Round 1, Pick 23: Evan Engram, Tight End, Ole Miss
I stated in my pre-draft article that the Giants needed to find a player that can split the seam vertically against a Cover-2 defense and take the pressure off Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall on the outside. The Giants did just that by drafting a 4.42 speed tight end in Engram. This is a threat the Giants have yearned for for quite some time. Defenses are going to have to be cognizant of what Engram brings over the middle of the field. He is a long mismatch nightmare (6’3” 33.5” arms) that is too athletic for linebackers, and safeties are going to have to show respect to the seam, which will give Marshall and Beckham more one-on-one looks along the boundaries. Running Cover-2 defenses will be tough against the Giants and defensive coordinators are going to have to get creative with Marshall as the X, Beckham as the Z, Sterling Shepard in the slot, and Engram as a move tight end. Ben McAdoo was a tight end coach for a while with Green Bay and he was looking for his Jermichael Finley; I’m confident he found him in round one of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Round 2, Pick 55: Dalvin Tomlinson, Defensive Tackle, Alabama
Fundamentally, I thought this may have been a bit of a reach for what looks like a two-down player, but I love Dalvin Tomlinson. You’re not nicknamed the Renaissance Man for nothing. Tomlinson is incredibly intelligent and received a scholarship to Harvard, but wanted to pursue football at Alabama. He also has a wrestling background and can play multiple instruments. Tomlinson is the direct replacement for Johnathan Hankins, who left in free agency for the Colts, and in a lot of ways they are incredibly similar. Both can two gap, if asked to, and their best fit is a 1 technique, but with Damon Harrison playing 1 technique on the Giants they are shifted to more of a 3-technique role. I expect Tomlinson to start over Robert Thomas and former third-round pick Jay Bromley. You build your team to defeat your division rivals. Ezekiel Elliot and the Cowboys’ offensive line are not going anywhere and it is imperative for the Giants to be able to stop the run. Tomlinson is a dominant run defender, so he will oblige in running situations next to Damon Harrison.
Round 3, Pick 87: Davis Webb, Quarterback, Cal
With elite size (6’5” 229), it is understandable why Webb’s raw tools were intriguing to teams. There was a lot of buzz that Webb was going to be drafted at the end of round one. I am starting to think that it wasn’t just Draft Twitter fodder because the Giants felt that Webb would never be available to them in the third round. Head Coach Ben McAdoo never even met with Webb during the draft process because they felt so strong about their opinion. Webb is coming from two (Texas Tech / Cal) shotgun / spread, unconventional systems that are not easily translatable to the West Coast style system that McAdoo and the Giants run. Webb’s preferred fit at the moment would be an Air Coryell system that can take advantage of his deep accuracy and big arm. With that being said, Webb couldn’t have fell into a better situation. Eli Manning has a streak of 211 total games played in a row (I am not just knocking on wood, I am pounding on wood). Webb can sit and learn behind a two-time NFL Super Bowl MVP, while he hones his craft and learns the offense. By all accounts, Webb is a student of the game and cannot get enough football. He seems very coachable, eager, and he knows his place. This fit is also good for the Giants, as they may have found the heir apparent to the quarterback throne in the third round and if it doesn’t work out, at least it wasn’t a first-round pick. They didn’t trade the farm and animals to acquire the QB, so I think it’s a good situation for both parties. It deviates from the “win now” mentality that Giants have been labeled with, but Manning isn’t getting younger and has slightly regressed; better to have a backup plan now than to be burned in the future. Webb is not ready to play right now, but the Giants have filled the offense with plenty of young toys that could possibly be Webb’s to play with in the future.
Round 4, Pick 140: Wayne Gallman, Running Back, Clemson
The combination of Wayne Gallman, Paul Perkins, and Shane Vereen on third down is a quality trio. The last two seasons at Clemson, Gallman has had over 1,000 yards rushing, 10 touchdowns, and over 20 receptions in each. Any help to improve a Giants rushing attack that finished 29th last season will be appreciated by fans. He brings good vision, change of direction, and physicality to the running back position. He has played in big-time games at Clemson and has a chip on his shoulder for falling to the third day; that can’t hurt, right?
Round 5, Pick 167: Avery Moss, Defensive End, Youngstown State
Finding depth at the defensive end position was a major need for New York and they found just that in Avery Moss. Moss was removed from the Nebraska football team when he was charged with indecent exposure. He transferred to Youngstown State, where he started opposite Derek Rivers on the defensive line. He accrued 10.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbled in 2016 for the Penguins. Moss is incredibly long (6’3” 34.5” arms) with powerful, strong hands (10 3/8”) and the ability to play both the run and the pass effectively. He can learn the nuances of playing defensive end in the NFL, while he fills a situational role behind Jason Pierre Paul and Oliver Vernon.
Round 6, Pick 200: Adam Bisnowaty, Offensive Lineman, Pitt
My biggest concern coming into the 2017 NFL Draft with the Giants was their offensive line, but it is no secret that this offensive tackle class was not great. The Giants traded up to acquire Bisnowaty and that is fine. Bisnowaty has often been injured and struggles in pass protection with balance, pad level, and footwork. He will come in and provide depth along an offensive line that is suspect. He provides solid strength and toughness, while possessing gigantic 11 3/8” hands.
Undrafted Rookie Free Agents to Watch
Jessamen Dunker, Tackle, Tennessee State -Very athletic but raw offensive tackle. Legal troubles at Florida led to him transferring to Tennessee State.
Chad Wheeler, Tackle, USC – Great height (6’7”), but only 306 lbs. Has injury history and needs to become stronger to be effective at the NFL level.
Jadar Johnson, Safety, Clemson – Only one year of starting experience and needs help in run support, but he could have a role on special teams.
Calvin Munson, Linebacker, San Diego State – Dual athlete, playing both football and baseball. Productive Junior and Senior years, with good physicality.
Jarron Jones, Defensive Tackle, Notre Dame – Questions about his passion for football led to him not being drafted. Has dealt with knee and foot injuries, but he has impressive size and provides versatility along the defensive line.
Travis Rudolph, Wide Receiver, Florida State – Gained national recognition when he ate lunch with a young boy with autism who was sitting alone at his school. Was honorable mention All-ACC in 2015 and 2nd team All-ACC in 2016. Good hands and a savvy route runner that doesn’t have the best athleticism for the position.
Khalid Abdullah, Running Back, James Madison University – Had over 1800 yards rushing and 22 touchdowns on just 298 carries in route to the Dukes 2016 FCS Championship crown. A player to watch for in a relatively unproven backfield.
Football seasons are long, arduous, and anything can happen, but I think the Giants may go as far as the development of starting tackles Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart takes them. I know Jerry Reese gave the young pair his vote of confidence, but if they do not progress and fail to take to coaching, then this is going to be a very long year for Giants’ fans. New York plays the AFC West in 2017, so they will face pass rushers like Von Miller, Joey Bosa, Justin Houston, and Khalil Mack. Protecting an aging Manning is a necessity and the Giants didn’t sign blocking tight end Rhett Ellison to a four-year $18-million deal for nothing, but snaps are going to come at the expense of another skill player if Flowers and Hart can’t hold up. The Giants can only roll out five skill players, so Beckham, Marshall, Shepard, Engram, and a running back look great, but is it practical? If Ellison needs to consistently play to help the tackles out on the edge, the Giants will need to be in either a five-wide set (which makes them one dimensional and also hinders pass protection / check downs), or one of Shepard and Engram will have to be sitting out. Injuries happen and I know it is better to have too many weapons than too few, but it is a slight concern that I feel needs to be voiced since we witnessed the tackle play of the Giants last season. I expect Ben McAdoo to be very creative with his formations and how he divvies up playing time. I am sure he will maximize the weapons to their potential, but it will be a whole lot easier if the tackles can improve like Reese expects and like Giant nation hopes.