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2020 NFL Draft Grades – New York Giants

By focusing on protection for second-year QB Daniel Jones, the Giants lived up to their name and their general manager’s reputation but was enough juice added to the roster, given that the team had double-digit selections?
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Given the months and months of build-up to the annual NFL draft, the rush to summarize a team’s rookie draft class in a few sentences and stamp a letter grade on it has never quite made much sense to me.

In the past, I’ve compared this process to patrons at a restaurant complimenting (or complaining to) the chef based on the menu, rather than waiting to actually taste the food.

In much this same way, it obviously takes time to properly evaluate a draft. Given all of the complexities of the 2020 NFL draft, specifically, this is especially true.

So, while we cannot skip years ahead to know for certain which players will ultimately exceed or fail to live up to expectations in the NFL, we can provide a much deeper dive into each team’s rookie class.

Therefore, over the next 28 days, will be providing a detailed breakdown of each of the NFL teams’ rookie hauls, following the original draft order. Each team will be evaluated on the quality, quantity and relative safety of their draft classes (including undrafted free agents), with specific players recognized as Best Player, Best Value and Best Project, culminating in one “final” grade.

Today’s team: New York Giants

Head Coach: Joe Judge

General Manager: Dave Gettleman

Players selected in 2020:

Round 1, Pick 4 overall: OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia

Round 2, Pick 36 overall: S Xavier McKinney, Alabama

Round 3, Pick 99 overall: OT Matt Peart, Connecticut

Round 4, Pick 110 overall: CB Darnay Holmes, UCLA

Round 5, Pick 150 overall: OG Shane Lemieux, Oregon

Round 6, Pick 183 overall: OLB Cameron Brown, Penn State

Round 7, Pick 218 overall: OLB Carter Coughlin, Minnesota

Round 7, Pick 238 overall: ILB T.J. Brunson, South Carolina

Round 7, Pick 247 overall: CB Chris Williamson, Minnesota

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Round 7, Pick 255 overall: ILB Tae Crowder, Georgia

Undrafted Free Agents:

Binjimen Victor, WR, Ohio State

Kyle Markway, TE, South Carolina

Austin Mack, WR, Ohio State

Derrick Dillon, WR, LSU

Javon Leake, RB, Maryland

Kyle Murphy, OL, Rhode Island

Case Cookus, QB, Northern Arizona

Dana Levine, DE, Temple

Overview of the Giants’ 2020 draft: It goes without saying that every NFL team approaches the annual draft with the goal of improving the talent on their roster. Some clubs, however, blinded by the potential of competing for a Super Bowl immediately, gamble on immediate-impact candidates. Others, like the Giants, are still in the early stages of a roster rebuild with a brand new head coach and a young quarterback and therefore must focus on the foundation, first. Addressing protection for Jones was clearly the top priority for Dave Gettleman and Joe Judge and the selection of the top blocker in this class, Andrew Thomas, at No. 4 overall made perfect sense. Doubling back with Connecticut’s Matt Peart at the end of the third round was a bit of a surprise, especially with the presence of veterans Nate Solder and Cameron Fleming, but given the vastly improved defensive lines in Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington this offseason, criticizing the Giants for doing everything they can to protect the investment made in Jones is a sound strategy. Similarly, given the variety of pass-catchers the Giants will be tasked with covering in this division, adding playmakers in the secondary in Xavier McKinney and Darnay Holmes should pay early dividends, as well. The Giants used late lottery tickets on linebackers hoping to win big but some of those selections perhaps should have been spent on receivers for Jones, given the relative dearth of difference-makers at this position on the roster, this year’s remarkable talent at receiver, as well as Judge’s experience coaching this group previously in New England.

Best Player of the Giants’ 2020 Draft: OT Andrew Thomas

Given the record-breaking four-year, $62 million dollar contract signed by Solder prior to the 2019 season, it was a surprise for some that the Giants opted to select Thomas fourth overall considering that he starred at the same position. Prior to emerging as a star left tackle at Georgia, however, the prototypically-built 6-5, 315 pound Thomas proved an immediate standout at right tackle as a true freshman, starting all 15 games for the Bulldogs. Thomas can expect a similar transition back to right tackle for his first year in the NFL, teaming with Solder to give the Giants an exceptional set of bookends with the 21-year old blocker being groomed to take over for Solder, 32, eventually. While perhaps not the athletic phenom that some of the other top-rated tackles in this class proved to be during Combine testing, Thomas’ steady tape against elite competition made him the easy preferred blocker for most scouts I spoke to leading up to the draft. They cited his size, durability (started all 41 games of his college career), versatility and success against elite competition, ranking Thomas as one of the safest picks in this class and certainly the safest of the tackles.

Best Value of the Giants’ 2020 Draft: S Xavier McKinney

It isn’t often that a key need is filled with terrific value outside of the first round but that is precisely what happened for the Giants with arguably the best safety in the class, McKinney, still on the board four picks into the second round. The Giants plugged in former Notre Dame cornerback Julian Love in at safety (both free and strong) a year ago when Jabrill Peppers went down with a season-ending injury with unsurprising results. While the 5-11, 195 pound Love possesses good speed and agility, the transition he was asked to make is a tough one and he isn’t an intimidating hitter. McKinney, on the other hand, was lauded by Nick Saban and others at Alabama for his versatility, instincts and physicality, as well as his track record of creating big plays. The 6-0, 201 pounder plays bigger than his size suggests and sparked seven turnovers last year, alone, with four forced fumbles and three interceptions. McKinney should prove an immediate upgrade at safety, pushing Love either to a backup role as he learns his new position or back to cornerback, where he and 2020 fourth round pick Darnay Holmes (another strong candidate as the Giants’ best value pick) could battle to be the Giants’ “starting” nickel cornerback, another position of significant concern in New York’s secondary.

Best Project of the Giants’ 2020 Draft: DE/OLB Carter Coughlin

Typically, projects are projects with intriguing physical traits making a positional switch or lacking much production. Coughlin, the first of four seventh round selections by the Giants this year, was a highly regarded recruit who signed with the local Gophers over Ohio State and Oregon (among others) and left amidst the school’s all-time leaders in both tackles for loss (40) and sacks (22.5) before turning heads at both the Senior Bowl and Combine. He erased questions about his pure athleticism at the Combine, clocking in at 4.57 seconds in the 40-yard dash and posting a 36” vertical jump, which ranked among the top numbers for similarly-built players. There are elements to his game which remind me of a young Kyler Fackrell at Utah State prior to his being drafted and developed by the Green Packers before signing a one-year deal with the Giants. With some polish, don’t be surprised if Coughlin (who is NOT related to former Giants head coach Tom Coughlin) winds up making his own name on Broadway.

Overall Grade for the Giants’ 2020 Draft: B

Previous 2020 NFL Draft Report Cards: Cincinnati Bengals |Washington Redskins | Detroit Lions | New York Giants | Miami Dolphins | Los Angeles Chargers | Carolina Panthers | Arizona Cardinals | Jacksonville Jaguars | Cleveland Browns | New York Jets | Las Vegas Raiders | Indianapolis Colts | Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Denver Broncos | Atlanta Falcons | Dallas Cowboys | Pittsburgh Steelers | Chicago Bears | Los Angeles Rams | Philadelphia Eagles | Buffalo Bills | New England Patriots | New Orleans Saints | Houston Texans | Minnesota Vikings | Seattle Seahawks | Baltimore Ravens | Green Bay Packers | Tennessee Titans | San Francisco 49ers | Kansas City Chiefs