There was much hope for the Giants' 2019 draft class, a group that included a quarterback, defensive tackle, and cornerback as its three first-round picks.
As time went on, however, the impact of that class diminished rather than getting stronger; hence in his re-grading of all 32 NFL teams' draft classes, CBS Sports Pete Prisco re-graded the Giants' 2019 draft haul, dropping it from its original grade of a B+ to a C.
Noted Prisco of his assessment:
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The Giants had 10 picks in the draft, with only three as projected starters in 2022. They are first-round quarterback Daniel Jones, first-round defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and fourth-round safety Julian Love. They got little else from this draft with a major miss on first-round corner Deandre Baker. Fifth-round receiver Darius Slayton has worked out.
I liked the pick of Jones, although I did say he went a little higher than I would have taken him. I also liked the pick of Lawrence, saying he could be a force. He has been good, but not a force. I questioned the pick of third-round rusher Oshane Ximines, which played true since he's been mostly a backup.
Is Prisco's grade fair? Let's break it down in greater detail.
R1, No. 6 Overall: QB Daniel Jones, Duke
Most probably agree that Daniel Jones was drafted a bit higher than projected, though, at the time, there was concern he might not last until No. 17, the Giants' second of two first-round picks going into that draft.
With Eli Manning near the end of his career and Justin Herbert having decided to return to school rather than declare for the draft, the Giants selected Jones, who has flashed at times but has also been stunted by the team's failure to surround him with solid talent, including upfront.
Regardless if Jones was "overdrafted"--and where he was drafted is not his fault, by the way--the more significant "sin" by the Giants' previous regime was the failure to provide the support he's needed to thrive.
From not building a brick wall of an offensive line to waiting to add some skyscraper receivers to changing the scheme on him every other year and neutering his aggressiveness, it speaks volumes to the resolve and determination of Jones to make it as an NFL quarterback.
Jones is at a crossroads in his career after the team declined his option season. He can be a quarterback the team can win with, but will he ever be an elite player worthy of a top-six draft selection? His past play shows no sign of that being the case.
Round 1, No. 17 Overall: DL Dexter Lawrence II, Clemson
Lawrence, the big run-stuffing defensive lineman the Giants were able to snag at No. 17 (a pick they acquired from Cleveland in the Odell Beckham Jr trade), has been a solid addition to the defensive line. Primarily a run stopper, Lawrence finished last season with an 8.7 run-stop percentage, third among the Giants' interior defensive linemen.
His average depth of tackles was 2.6 yards, tied for second with Danny Shelton and just a decimal point below team leader Austin Johnson's 2.5 average. In all, that's not horrible production.
Still, with his pass rush still a work in progress--he did post a career-high 31 pressures last season--Lawrence, whose option year was picked up by the Giants, has a golden opportunity in Wink Martindale's scheme to strengthen his case for a longer-term contract extension.
Round 1, No. 30 Overall: CB DeAndre Baker, Georgia
The addition of cornerback DeAndre Baker was not only a surprise--the Giants traded back into the first round to get him--it also became the biggest whiff in this class.
The trade saw the Giants give up No. 37 (second round), No. 132 (fourth), and No. 142 (fifth) to the Seahawks to move into No. 30 overall to make the Baker selection.
Coming out of Georgia, there was no question that Baker had enough talent to play in the NFL. However, a bigger question centered on his work ethic.
“There was a battle in our building on whether we were going to take DeAndre or not,” a source privy to the Giants’ draft thinking told The Post, “because the story was he had to have his a– kicked every day to work hard at Georgia — to even go to practice. We knew that, and we still drafted him, and from Day 1, it was like taking a guy in the first round that you had to teach nearly everything to.”
The Giants hoped that by surrounding Baker with veterans who did the job right and whose work ethic, knowledge, and positive attitudes, some of that might rub off on the young man as he began his NFL career. That didn't materialize as hoped, as Baker struggled with his on-field assignments, and whispers of him rebuking advice from his older teammates began to surface.
When Baker ran into some off-field issues for which he was later exonerated, it was too late for the organization to salvage the pick. They released him, leaving a massive hole in the defense, which, while bad enough, was nothing compared to the lost draft picks they gave up to acquire Baker and the later need to overspend in free agency on a veteran mulligan.
Round 3, No. 95 Overall: OLB Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion
Ximines, acquired with another draft pick the Giants received from the Browns in the Beckham trade, drew some comparisons to former Giants pass rusher Osi Umenyiora for his quick first step off the snap.
After registering 4.5 sacks as a rookie, the Old Dominion product's on-field performance fell on some hard times. He missed most of his second season with a shoulder injury that limited him to just four games.
Already facing a steeper learning curve given his small-school background, Ximines got off to a slow start last year due to a hamstring issue that cost him a large chunk of training camp.
When he recovered from his injuries, his ongoing struggles against the run and some mental mistakes made in the first half of the season ultimately landed him in the coaches' dog house. In the team's final seven games, Ximines was inactive or did not play in seven of them.
Since being drafted, the Giants added Azeez Ojulari, Elerson Smith, Kayvon Thibodeaux, and veteran Jihad Ward to help bolster the pass rush. Ximines is still on the roster, as the coaching staff has given the holdovers from the prior regime a fresh start.
But it remains to be seen if Ximines can play well enough to hold off the competition or if he becomes the latest in what's been a long line of Giants' third-round busts.
R5, No. 171 Overall: WR Darius Slayton, Auburn
If a team finds a quality contributor from Day 3, that's a bonus, especially the lower the round. And for the Giants' Class of 2019, a case could be made that receiver Darius Slayton (Round 5, No. 171 overall) out of Auburn was one such bonus.
Or is he? After a surprisingly good rookie season in which Slayton led the Giants in touchdowns with eight, some thought the Giants had finally found a tall No. 1 receiver for the offense.
Unfortunately, Slayton has not only struggled to build on his encouraging rookie campaign, but his production has also steadily declined every year since. Slayton, who has a career 54.4 percent reception rate, went from catching 60 percent of his pass targets as a rookie to 53.2 percent in Year 2 and 47.3 percent last year.
That stat is heading in the wrong direction, as is his touchdown count, which fell from eight to three to two. And if that's not bad enough, Slayton no longer even projects to be among the top three receivers on the Giants depth chart--those spots will likely go to Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and Wan'Dale Robinson.
Want more bad news? Once Sterling Shepard gets the green light to resume football activities fully, he figures to fit in somewhere among the top four receiving options. That would leave Slayton, who in three seasons has contributed a total of 16 snaps on special teams (none last year), in danger of losing his roster spot.
Slayton, who has had some injuries along the way, will get a chance to compete, and his having a solid camp and/or having some guys in front of him get injured can get him across the finish line regarding completing his rookie contract.
Then again, considering how the Giants have added guys ahead of him and how appealing his $2.5 million cap savings is to a cap-strapped Giants team--he could be looking from the outside in when the dust settles from training camp.
R4, No. 108 Overall: DB Julian Love, Notre Dame
One guy among the Day 3 picks from the Giants' Class of 2019 has turned into a gem, and that is "Mr. Do-It-All" defensive back Julian Love, the fourth-round pick out of Notre Dame.
Originally a cornerback, Love transitioned to safety as a rookie and has been a steady performer since, drawing nearly equal time as a box safety, free safety, slot cornerback, and outside corner.
This year, Love has a chance to secure a starting job alongside Xavier McKinney in the base defense, his versatility and production affording the Giants options in sub-packages.
However, with this being the final year of his rookie deal and with the team having added Dane Belton in the draft, it's probably not a stretch to say that the current regime is eyeballing Belton, who, like Love, was drafted in the fourth round, as a future starter.
It's rare for a team to hit on every single draft pick, but if a team can get solid production from at least half of its class--and certainly those drafted in the first three rounds--they're doing something right.
The Giants? Forty percent of their 2019 draft class didn't even make it halfway through their rookie contracts, which contributes to why the team has had to lean more heavily on free agency than it probably should. Overall, that's why it's hard to disagree with Prisco's re-grade of a C.