I’ve never been a fan of drowning in my sorrows. Thinking about the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘if only’s’, especially if either A) I wasn’t in control of the decision, and B) Judging before I’ve had the chance to see even a split second of the outcome. New York Giants twitter fandom was in uproar last night about the front office’s decisions.
Daniel Jones, Dexter Lawrence, and Deandre Baker all became first-round picks of Big Blue, finally putting to rest the relentless mock drafts that have consumed NFL fans since the moment their team took their final snap of the season, whenever that may have been. So, I am not here to be Dave Gettleman’s personal PR spinner and tell everyone it’s going to be okay. I’m here to talk about the things nobody else seems to want to talk about when it comes to these picks. Here we go, prepare to feel a little bit better this morning when you walk into work with your Giants mug in hand, ready to take some ribbing from your colleagues.
PICK NO. 6 – DANIEL JONES; QUARTERBACK, DUKE
We’re going to have start in the thick of the hate, aren’t we?
When the Oakland Raiders announced Clelin Ferrell, Defensive End out of Clemson (whom many predicted to be a mid-round pick at best) was snapped off the board at #4, we thought we’d seen the ‘iffy pick’ of the draft. As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took Devin White out of LSU, just like we expected them to, the New York Giants came in picking at 6, with Kentucky pass rusher Josh Allen sitting there so prettily, waiting to be plucked from the talent pool. The pick was in very quickly, which to me meant one of two things.
- The Giants couldn’t believe their luck with Allen and scribbled his name on the card so fast you’d think he was about to be taken away from them.
- It didn’t matter what happened ahead of them, they had their man in mind, and given that he hadn’t been picked yet, the path was clear to enter their pick, no fuss no muss.
The answer was no.2, and boy did it rile Giants Nation out there. Daniel Jones, the 6-foot 5in quarterback whose name had been sticking to Giants mock drafts like white on rice, was selected at number six, and it… kicked… off. I can understand the frustrations to some level, don’t get me wrong. The general consensus is that the Giants could have had their cake and eaten it, so to speak, by taking Josh Allen at #6, and still grabbing Daniel Jones at #17. The anger comes from the fact the G-men ‘reached’. So, here goes a big dose of the truth. You may not like it, you may agree with me, either way, it’s true.
Anyone heard the name David Cutcliffe before? Many of you will have, while many of you will have become more familiar with the name since the season ended and mock drafts began. Cutcliffe was the Tennessee Volunteers QB coach and Assistant Head Coach from 1995-1998. He was the Ole Miss Head Coach from 1998-2004. This is the man that groomed the great Peyton Manning throughout his college career in Tennessee, and then Eli Manning in Mississippi. This guy knows a good QB when he sees one, and the Manning brothers can testify to that with two Super Bowl rings apiece.
As Head Coach of the Duke Blue Devils for just over 10 years now, Cutcliffe has only seen five of his players go to the NFL via the draft, none of which are quarterbacks. “I would think he’s going to play 14-16 years and he’ll be a championship quarterback,” Cutcliffe told reporters. “He’ll win a championship.” That is lofty praise, and who is going to tell this guy that he’s wrong? Jones’ physical stats are tremendous. His height allows him to see comfortably over the line of scrimmage and make the right pass. He’s very willing to take a hit if it means finding the right receiver at the right time.
Talking about those ‘receivers’, can we give this guy some credit here for what he’s managed to do with a well below average receiving corps. Not one Blue Devil on the offensive side of the ball will go in this draft, not one. Looking at Dwayne Haskins, he has at least two wide receivers who will be picked up by the end of Round 3 in Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin. Jones finished with a passer rating of 131.7, throwing 22 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He played three games less than Sam Darnold did in his final college season, and threw 4 touchdowns less (26) and one interception less (10) than the man the Giants ‘should have drafted’. For those who will say the Pac-12 is much more competitive than the ACC should also remember that he had Pro-Bowler Juju Smith-Schuster to throw at. It levels out.
Only time will tell whether Jones will be a bust or not, but my gut feeling tells me he will come good. Nowhere above did I say he is the next Peyton Manning. However, he’s not going to be the next Johnny Manziel either. Let’s calm down, take some time to process the decision and move forward.
PICK NO. 17 – DEXTER LAWRENCE; DEFENSIVE TACKLE, CLEMSON
Still no pass-rusher, Gettleman what are you trying to do to these fans? This pick caused less noise but still raised some eyebrows. The ideal pick for many people would have been Montez Sweat out of Mississippi State, the guy whose draft stock plummeted as a result of a suspected heart condition, which allegedly got misdiagnosed according to reports just hours before the draft started.
They ultimately went for Dexter Lawrence, a 342 lb Hog Mollie of a nose tackle to play alongside B.J. Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson in that front three. One thing nobody can take away from Lawrence is his pedigree, a 5-star recruit out of high school in Wake Forest, and viewed as arguably the best prospect to ever come out of the state of North Carolina.
Let’s take a look at what SB Nation reporter Stephen White said about Lawrence after he was picked.
“It’s true you would never mistake Lawrence for a smaller, quicker defensive tackle like Ed Oliver because Clemson moved Lawrence around quite a bit up front. But I actually got to see him play from a nice variety of alignments. He looked comfortable no matter where he was lined up, and he showed an ability to make plays from several different defensive line positions.”
“Yes, Clemson even had Lawrence lined up as a five-technique on occasion. He may not be able to play out there on the edge full-time, but I wouldn’t see any problem with him lining up there every once in a while on early downs.”
“No matter where he lined up, the thing that jumped out at me was how powerful Lawrence is. The guy was really hard to move, and, on a pretty regular basis, he was able to jack up offensive linemen and toss them out of the way like rag dolls.”
There you have it. For anyone who thinks Lawrence is restricted as a nose tackle, think again. The guy may not get a ton of sacks, but the will pressure the QB and get in the face of the interior O-Line. He has that National Championship tag on his back, teaming up with now-Raider Clelin Ferrell and now-Dolphin Christian Wilkins in that Clemson defense. He’s not the edge rusher everyone so hoped for, and that still needs addressing, but Lawrence is a stud, and I struggle to see how he would even come close to being a bust in New Jersey.
PICK NO. 30 – DEANDRE BAKER; CORNERBACK, GEORGIA
Finally, we get to the pick that nobody expected, the Giants trading back into the first round for a much-needed cornerback. They gave up; second round pick (#37), fourth round pick (#132) and fifth round pick (#142), all to snag their man, who will likely form a partnership with ‘Jackrabbit’ Janoris Jenkins in the backfield.
A steep price to pay to move just seven spots earlier with other highly thought of cornerbacks such as Greedy Williams (LSU), Rock Ya-Sin (Temple) and Byron Murphy (Washington) all still on the board, the Giants were smitten with Baker, making him the first CB off the board, and the only one in the first round.
By the time the draft came round, Baker’s stock had slid into the second round, mainly due to his underwhelming performances at private workouts with teams. However, it doesn’t seem like Dave Gettleman puts great onus on one-off auditions, choosing rather let his game tape to do the talking, in which he excelled last season in a highly thought of Georgia Bulldogs team that ranked #5 in the nation.
Baker totaled 40 tackles with nine breakups, two interceptions and one forced fumble in 2018, while only playing in 11 games in the 2018 season. To be honest, less needs to be said about this decision compared to the other three as it isn’t nearly as scrutinized. People know of Baker’s ability, and also the Giants’ need for another CB.
Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports, who had Deandre as the number two cornerback in the draft after Greedy Williams, believes that in footballing terms that Baker is a top ten prospect in the draft if you take out team wants and needs. He had this to say about him.
“Like White, Baker isn’t a size/speed/athleticism specimen. And he isn’t a big outside cornerback at 5-foot-11 and 193 pounds. Also, like White, Baker simply does everything you ask of him as a corner. Play press man and battle with a bigger receiver? Sure thing. Sit in zone and spring forward to make plays on the football on comebacks and in-breaking routes? No problem. Both White and Baker were super productive with pass breakups and interceptions in the SEC and are as savvy as it comes with their mirroring abilities.”
To round off…
We have three young men chomping at the bit to pull on the Big Blue jersey and kick-start their NFL careers. With Baker and Lawrence almost definitely going to be in there on Day 1 against the Cowboys, with Daniel Jones waiting in the wings behind Eli, we all knew this season was going to be amount celebrating the mini wins.
Lawrence to get a bucket load of tackles-for-a-loss, Baker to snag a ton of interceptions, and Jones to get his first taste of National League Football with a touchdown throw towards the end of the season. Positive vibes, speak it into existence, this isn’t a time to throw these young bucks under the bus.