One of the New York Giants’ most pressing off-season objectives was to get playmakers for quarterback Daniel Jones.
Well, general manager Dave Gettleman delivered, and his work in upgrading the receiving unit— the receivers and tight ends—has earned high praise from Pro Football Focus as the most improved position following a busy first wave of free agency.
At the end of last season, it was clear to anyone who watched the Giants that their receiving group left a lot to be desired.
Jones, who had enough on his plate with learning a new offensive system unlike the one he ran his rookie year, finished seventh among quarterbacks in dropped passes (29) and 27th (out of 29 eligible quarterbacks who took at least 50% of their team’s offensive snaps) in touchdown passes thrown (11).
If that wasn’t bad enough, PFF ranked the Giants receiving unit 25th league-wide, which drove his passing efficiency ranking down to 28th in the league. and
With the window quickly closing on Jones’s rookie contract, upgrading the receiving talent was a top priority for the Giants. They need 100% assurance that Jones, whom they drafted sixth overall in 2019 out of Duke, is indeed their franchise quarterback before opening talks on a long-term, multimillion-dollar extension.
To do that, they cut Golden Tate, whose signing now looks to have been a knee-jerk reaction signing after trading Odell Beckham Jr, and they added Kenny Golladay from the Lions and tight end Kyle Rudolph from the Vikings.
Of Golladay, who last year missed most of the season due to a hip ailment, PFF noted:
Before his injury-riddled 2020 campaign, Golladay established himself as one of the NFL's best deep threats and contested-catch specialists. In 2018 and 2019 combined, he racked up the third-most deep (20-plus-yard target) receiving yards, with 930, and he tied for first in contested catches, with 43.
And although Rudolph’s season-ending foot injury required surgery (he is expected to be ready for the start of the season), PFF also liked that move, noting,
Over the past four years, Rudolph ranks eighth at the position in WAR generated, 11th in receiving grade, and first in drop rate (1%, 2.2% better than second). He won't be a true game-changer like Golladay, but he will be a great red-zone target and a more effective tight end than Evan Engram.
Even with Golladay and Rudolph's signings, the Giants could be looking to add even more playmakers via the draft. Passing on Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase or Alabama receivers Jaylen Waddle and Devonta Smith if they are on the board when the Giants go on the clock at No. 11 would be pretty difficult to do.
The Giants could also look to add additional firepower to the receiving unit on Day 2 of the draft, plucking playmakers from a very deep wide receiver class that many draft analysts think could yield quality fruit as last as the top of the fifth round.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what round the talent comes from so long as the Giants continue their quest to add to Jones’ cache and give him every opportunity to prove without question that he is their guy.