- The biggest need, the hidden need and what else the Giants should be looking for in the 2019 draft.
Two weeks ahead of the NFL draft, Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling are breaking down draft needs for all 32 teams. You can also see every team in a single post here.
Biggest Need: Left Corner
Rumor has it the Giants are taking an edge rusher, which makes sense. Their best one, recently signed ex-Cardinal Markus Golden, has not fully recaptured the explosiveness he showed prior to his October 2017 ACL injury, and 2018 third-rounder Lorenzo Carter had a quiet rookie season. Plus, GM Dave Gettleman prefers to build his defense from front to back. That said… if we’re talking about biggest need, Gettleman must address his left corner spot. It would currently go to fringe backup Tony Lippett, who has played in only three games since tearing his Achilles in training camp of 2017, or Sam Beal, a third-round pick in last year’s supplemental draft who missed his entire rookie year with a shoulder injury. It’s not just that New York is weak at left corner (and, after this year, could be weak at right corner, since Janoris Jenkins could well be a cap casualty in 2020), it’s that defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s scheme puts strong demands on this position. Bettcher believes in blitzing, either through the A gaps or off the slot (depending on his personnel). You can’t readily do that without playing one-on-one coverage outside. Bettcher’s pressure-heavy approach puts him in that quarter of NFL defensive schemers for whom a corner is a necessity while an edge rusher is almost just a luxury. If the Giants feel that the bang-for-buck with their No. 6 overall pick is better at edge rusher, fine. But leaving this draft without a new starting caliber corner would be a failure.
Hidden Need: Slot Corner
This is a totally different position than “outside corner”—and for the Giants, it’s bereft of talent. Their option in the slot right now is either 2018 undrafted man Grant Haley or veteran special teams ace and backup safety Michael Thomas. Bettcher employed safeties in the slot as the D coordinator in Arizona, but that was with Tyrann Mathieu and Budda Baker, both of whom have the compact bodies and athletic burst that are ideal for the job. New York’s current roster has no one like that. If Bettcher feels that new safety Jabrill Peppers can fill this void, then the Giants could look to draft a safety to come off the bench and play in Peppers’s spot on third down.
Also Looking For: Wide Receiver
The signing of Golden Tate suggests the Giants don’t believe they’re in the tear-down-and-rebuild phase that people assume. But with Sterling Shepard, Corey Coleman, Bennie Fowler and Cody Latimer in the final year of their contracts, vacancies at wideout are inevitable—especially given that Shepard is the only one who is sure to be worth re-signing. Tate is best in the slot, but his most productive season—2014, his first year in Detroit—he aligned outside on nearly half his snaps. With Tate able to align anywhere, New York can make room for any type of receiver. Ideally, they’d find a bigger-bodied one to play the “X.”
Who They Can Get
If the Giants stay put at picks 6 and 17, the corner will likely come with the later pick. LSU's Greedy Williams is the best cover man in this draft, but can the Giants live with his questionable play against the run? Georgia's Deandre Baker brings a little less size but a little more feistiness, while Washington's Byron Murphy might be better suited to the slot in the NFL but played very well on the perimeter in college. Murphy and Notre Dame's Julian Love might be the best slot corner candidates in this draft. As for receiver, maybe some size with A.J. Brown of Ole Miss or N'Keal Harry of Arizona State. But as far as that No. 6 pick goes, the value will be at quarterback (Dwayne Haskins? Drew Lock?) and the defensive line (Montez Sweat on the edge, or make room for Ed Oliver or—if he falls to them—Quinnen Williams as interior disruptors).
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