Roster-building Challenges the Giants are Facing Amid COVID-19 Mitigation Tactics

Patricia Traina

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, medical professionals have stepped up their pleas to the public to practice social distancing in the hopes that it will lead to the reduction of new cases while allowing hospitals to treat existing ones.

While the well-being and safety of people is the top priority, it's been interesting to see how these changes, some of which have resulted in government issued-shutdowns of business facilities, could impact the NFL.

That doesn't mean that the league hasn't had its share of challenges to overcome. In a letter from NFL Chief Medical Officer Allen Sills shared with the NFLPA's players and agents and published by Pro Football Talk last week, the NFL said that while the situation continues to evolve, it's making sure that safety practices evolve with new changes.

For the NFL, it will be interesting to see how once these restrictions have eased. For the time being, let's take a look at the potential impact on some of the upcoming events.

2020 NFL Draft

The 2020 NFL draft, as of now, will go on as scheduled April 23-25 minus the public events that were to take place in Las Vegas.

According to a report by ESPN, NFL general managers would prefer the draft itself to be delayed because of the inability to get all the available information on potential draft picks.

Getting the draft right is tricky enough as is under normal circumstances, but for teams that might be contemplating trading up to get players who are coming off injuries, how might the lack of being able to get medical updates affect those decisions?

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr was asked that question as it related to Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, a top draft prospect coming off a serious hip injury.

“The medical on Tua is going to be difficult, obviously, with the current situation," Kiper said during a national conference call with reporters.

"This is a year where you would need all the medical you can get, all the meetings you can get, all the things you need in terms of due diligence on Tua, and you’re not going to have that opportunity. Is a team going to trade up without that type of information? We’ll see.”

That could impact the Giants, who are believed to be looking to trade down int he first round. As Kiper noted, why would a team want to give up additional resources for a player who, despite his talent, still has some red flags regarding his long term health?

Off-Season Programs

The off-season program--minicamps and OTAs--is a critical time in the NFL calendar as its a chance for coaches to get to know their free-agent and draft selections up close and personal, and to craft new wrinkles to the schemes to make the team as competitive as possible,

For teams with new coaching staffs like the Giants, the off-season program is even more critical. Initially set to begin April 6 as per the NFL 2020 league calendar, the Giants East Rutherford facility will remain closed until at least April 8.

While Joe Judge and his staff have been hard at work designing their program, implementing it is going to be quite a different story.

Judge, remember, has refrained from offering an opinion any of the players the team plans to retain for 2020 and beyond until he gets them not he field and sees where they are on their development.

This is especially critical for guys like quarterback Daniel Jones, who, although she showed a great deal of promise last year, has a big Year 2 in front of him in which Judge will no doubt be looking for Jones to cut down on turnovers and be able to make faster decisions.

It's also critical for the players--the incoming free agents and draft class and those returning from last year--to begin learning the new systems and schemes the coaching staff wants to implement.

While some of that can and will be accomplished via teleconference, taking the mental reps in the classroom and practicing it are two very different things that could ultimately affect the quality of football.

The most important aspect is safety. If these athletes cannot properly train their bodies to endure the physical nature of the game, that could put them at physical risk.

These are all questions the Giants face, but as compared to the more significant risks involved with defying health and safety directives from the medical community looking to flatten the COVID-19 curve, they pale by comparison.