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Recapping the New York Giants 2020 Draft

The 2020 NFL Draft came and went and it was an important one for the New York Giants. Let’s dive right in and see what kind of job Dave Gettleman and company did this time around.

Another National Football League Draft has come and gone, and boy was it a special one. Not only was the 2020 NFL Draft first-ever virtual draft due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it served as a way of unifying Americans across the country during these difficult times. This resulted in the 2020 NFL Draft becoming the most viewed in history. However, not only was it an important draft considering the circumstances, it was an important one for the New York Giants.

With an NFL worst record of 12-36 over the past three seasons, the Giants are in the middle of a rebuild. This upcoming season for New York to begin turning things around. General Manager Dave Gettleman needs to start showing results if he wants to convince ownership to keep him. First-year head coach Joe Judge wants to get his career as a head coach off on the right foot. Second-year quarterback Daniel Jones needs to establish himself as the Giants franchise quarterback for years to come. The 2020 NFL Draft was a big part in taking a step towards doing just that. So let’s dive in and see what the Giants did well and what leaves room to be desired.

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

With their first pick, the Giants made a move that while intriguing, is not necessarily surprising. It’s no secret that the Giants offensive line has been a huge problem for them over the past several seasons. Coming into this draft, Gettleman wanted to make sure he squashed this problem once and for all. Picking Andrew Thomas fourth overall was the first major step in doing just that. In what was a very top heavy tackle class, Thomas was considered to be the safest and most pro-ready of them all. And it shows in his performance against top competition in the SEC. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Thomas blew just eight of 793 total blocks in the 2019 season, just one percent. That’s third best among SEC offensive tackles and ranks 20th in the entire FBS.

However, while there’s a lot to love about the Thomas pick, there’s also things to critique. First and foremost, who the Giants passed on. Clemson linebacker and Arizona Cardinals draftee Isaiah Simmons was one of the biggest talks of the NFL Draft. Despite being listed as a linebacker, Simmons brings so much versatility to the table that he doesn’t really have a set position. His freakish athleticism allows him to tackle, cover, and rush the passer all at an elite level. While the Thomas pick was a great route to go, Simmons could’ve been an even better one when you think of the life he could bring to a decimated Giants defense.

Despite this, it’s hard to not like the selection of Thomas Thomas. It solidifies a major hole on the Giants roster. Furthermore, the Giants need to do everything possible to protect Daniel Jones and give him every opportunity to succeed. For what New York wanted to do this draft, picking Thomas definitely accomplishes that.

Round 2, Pick #36: Xavier McKinney, Safety, Alabama

Five years ago, the New York Giants selected a safety from Alabama in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft named Landon Collins. He would go on to become the defensive leader of the Giants for several years. He was even being nominated for the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2016. Now in 2020, the Giants are hoping to have the same luck, taking a player who plays the same position from the same college: Xavier McKinney.

What stands out most about the McKinney pick is the shear value the Giants get at a position of need. McKinney is considered by many to be a first-round talent due to his sheer playmaking ability in the secondary. However, his draft stock fell following a poor 4.63 second 40-yard dash. Therefore, he fell right into the Giants lap for the taking.

If there’s one thing you can nitpick, similar to Thomas, is the argument you can make for another player. Yetur Gross-Matos, defensive end out of Penn State, went two picks later to the Carolina Panthers. Gross-Matos recorded 8.5 sacks in 2019 and with how desperate the Giants need help in the pass rush department, you could easily make the argument for taking him instead.

Despite this, when you have a bonafide first round talent like McKinney fall into your lap, you cannot pass him up. McKinney could prove to be the type of steal that Landon Collins was. And when you add Xavier McKinney to a backfield containing Jabrill Peppers, James Bradberry, and DeAndre Baker, the Giants secondary is slowly but surely starting to take shape.

Round 3, Pick #99: Matt Peart, OT, UConn

If the Giants started fixing their offensive line problem by drafting Andrew Thomas, they may have just sealed the deal by selecting Matt Peart. Peart has all the physical tools you want in an offensive lineman, particularly his length. His arms measured in at 36⅝-inchs, the longest of all lineman at the NFL Scouting Combine. However, his form and technique has room for improvement. Therefore, Peart is considered to be more of a developmental project with high upside for Joe Judge and his coaching staff.

Peart’s development also lines up perfectly with the Giants offensive line rebuild. 2020 will likely be Nate Solder’s last as a Giant, as New York can save $14 million by cutting him in the 2021 offseason. That would be the perfect developmental season for Peart. Then in 2021, the Giants will have both Thomas and Peart solidified at both tackle positions. It’s a plan that sounds too good to be true, but one that the Giants have a chance of pulling off.

Rest of the Draft

The Giants would focus mostly on defense throughout the rest of the draft. They added four total linebackers in Cam Brown, Carter Coughlin, TJ Brunson, and Tae Crowder. They also added more help at the corners in Darnay Holmes and Chris Willamson, and added one more piece to the offensive line by drafting offensive guard Shane Lemieux.

While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with any of the picks previously mentioned, there are things to critique about the Giants draft class as a whole. First and foremost, they did not select one single defensive end or edge rusher. Considering that is arguably the biggest area of need on the team, not selecting even one is questionable. Second of all, despite the improvements made to the offensive line, a hole still remains at the center position, which again, the Giants did not address. Third, in a historically deep wide receiver draft class, New York did not come away with one. While you could argue that receiver isn’t an area of need for the Giants, taking a chance on one would’ve been nice.

However, the biggest issue with the Giants draft as a whole has been an ongoing trend with Dave Gettleman. That is his refusal to trade down. Throughout all of his years as an NFL general manager, Gettleman has never, ever traded down. Not even once. Furthermore, this draft in particular is one where New York could’ve seriously benefited from trading down. While drafting Thomas at four was a solid pick, with quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert still on the board, it was a perfect opportunity for New York to trade back with a quarterback-needy team and stockpile on assets.

As the cherry on top, the Giants still would likely have been able to draft Thomas. Worst case scenario, the Giants could’ve taken one of three offensive tackles that were at least on Thomas’s caliber. You could argue that maybe Gettleman tried to trade back, but nothing materialized. While that is true, we’re talking about a general manager that has never traded back before. How much longer can we continue giving him that benefit of the doubt of nothing materializing? Whatever the case, it would’ve been a nice to the rebuild have seen the Giants trade down this draft, especially in the first round.

Conclusion

Despite all of the previously mention criticisms, the New York Giants 2020 draft was very solid overall. They solidified both tackle positions with Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart, giving Daniel Jones some much needed protection. Defensively, they strengthened their linebackers and cornerbacks corps as well as added a potential stud in Xavier McKinney. Slowly but surely, the Giants are accelerating their rebuild, and there may be hope for the future of the franchise after all.

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New York & New Jersey Sports Staff Writer, New Jersey Jackals Beat Writer
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