After free agency frenzy, Giants still need CB, WR in draft
The New York Giants went into the NFL draft a year ago with a new general manager, a new coach and a ton of holes to fill after winning four games in 2021 and posting their fifth straight losing season.
GM Joe Schoen and coach Brian Daboll are back for a second draft and things have changed dramatically.
The Giants went 9-7-1. They had a good draft, found the right role players and made the playoffs for the first time since 2016. They even won a playoff game.
While there are still needs to fill, there aren't as many massive holes on the roster.
What has helped New York heading into the draft was free agency and the trade market.
New York filled needs at inside linebacker (Bobby Okereke), defensive tackle (Rakeem Nunez-Roches) and safety (Bobby McCain) in free agency and added tight end Darren Waller in a trade with Las Vegas.
If there is anything the Giants need to improve next season it’s their big passing plays. They were among the worst in the league, with Daniel Jones having 17 pass plays of at least 25 yards. Four went for touchdowns.
Quentin Johnston of TCU and Jordan Addison of Southern Cal might be around when the Giants pick.
The other area that might interest defensive coordinator Wink Martindale would be adding another cornerback to start opposite Adoree Jackson.
Devon Witherspoon of Illinois and Christian Gonzalez of Oregon are expected to be gone early. If Joey Porter of Penn State, Deonte Banks of Maryland and Kelee Ringo of Georgia were available, they might draw attention.
Schoen and the Giants' brain trust may not select by need. If someone is highly rated and drops into their laps, they will take him.
New York also has the option of trading up or down. Everything will be in play on April 27.
The Giants have not picked this low (No. 25) since winning the Super Bowl in 2012. They've been so bad in recent seasons, if you took their lowest picks in the 2018, 19, 20 and 22 drafts, the sum of the numbers (2-6-4-5) would be 17. They were supposed to pick 11th in 2021 but traded down to 20 and took oft-injured Kadarius Toney. He earned a ring with the Chiefs in February.
In 2017, they drafted TE Evan Engram with the 23rd pick overall. He had his moments with the Giants but didn't hit his best stride until he signed with Jacksonville this past season and worked with Trevor Lawrence.
Big-play receiver, cornerback, safety, center.
This list is a lot shorter than the previous season when the Giants seemed to need help in many places.
The Giants have a lot of receivers with Wan'Dale Robinson returning, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton and Isaiah Hodgins re-signing and Parris Campbell and Jamison Crowder joining as free agents. Still, the first round could provide a big-play wide out.
Jackson is the Giants best cornerback in coverage but Aaron Robinson (ACL), Cor'Dale Flott and Rodarius Williams only showed flashes. Unless they improve, New York needs another top cornerback.
Losing centers Jon Feliciano and Nick Gates to free agency left a hole in the middle of the line. Veteran J.C. Hassenauer was signed but he only has seven starts in 45 games.
McCain was signed to take over at safety after Julian Love signed with Seattle. Dane Belton and Justin Pinnock will push him for the spot.
Tight end and edge rusher. The acquisition of Waller and the selection of Daniel Bellinger in last year's draft gives the offense two solid tight ends. The edge in Wink Martindale's 3-4 defensive scheme is set with Kayvon Thibodeaux — the No. 5 pick overall last year — and Azeez Ojulari back. Ojulari needs to stay healthy this season.
CENTER OF ATTENTION
If the Giants draft a center, it probably will be in the middle to late rounds.
New York has cross-trained its linemen for years and guards Ben Bredeson and Shane Lemieux got snaps. Also expect to see New York take a look at Josh Ezeudu and Marcus McKethan — draft picks out of North Carolina last season. Line coach Bobby Johnson may do a lot of experimenting.
The Giants have players who battled injuries last season and it remains to be seen what they do this year. Rookie inside linebacker Darrian Beavers was playing well in camp before hurting a knee in a preseason game. McKethan (knee) was another player lost and Ezeudu started at left guard for a bit before a neck injury sidelined him.